Saturday, April 24, 2010

My First and Last Chicklit Novel



Almost Single by Advaita Kala is supposed to have pioneered the genre of chicklit writing in India. And, well, that will be my first and last of any chicklit novel in my life!

Last week, out of utter boredom, I picked this book and finished it in about say 5 hours straight. Of course, truth must be said, it’s quite a light and quick read. The language is rather simple and easy, and that’s really something to blog home about. But, as for the content, it’s completely a different story.

The book is basically about single women, pushing 30, who are in search of the love of their lives. The good thing about it is the way the author has captured the insecurities of women, especially in the context of marriage and relationships. It has also captured the uncompromising attitude of these women, who are completely independent and wouldn’t settle for anything less than what they think is perfect. The other good thing about the book is that, the author occasionally says something quite profound. Like for example, when your parents stop matchmaking and turn philosophical, it’s time to worry! And, all of it is said with lot of satire and wit, which makes it enjoyable in parts.

Now, what was it about the book that’s rather irksome? Having lived a single life in a big city myself, I found the book rather flippant. Especially, because it’s posited as a book that has found fans among the new and emerging breed of the independent Indian woman! Well, it could be among a small (rather minuscule) percentage of women, who come from quite well off backgrounds into the big city for various reasons other than work such as higher studies or to go abroad. The maximum of women who come into the big cities are from poorer backgrounds and who live in small houses or even hostels so that they could send money home. I have known of women who would in all make just 8000 a month and send home almost 5 to 6 and pay something like 1.5k for rent. And, in the novel all the women are all the time hanging out in baristas, 5 star hotels, and swanky pubs! At one hand, they are the most liberated women who earn a lot of money, live on their own, and chart their own life story, but on the other hand, they wouldn’t bat an eyelid before trooping all saree-clad to a mataji who will ward off an evil eye, consult their astrologers, or observe the karva chauth like demented morons. This is where my angst or rather irritation lies. It’s the ease with which people (so-called liberated) take to age-old customs and traditions that are nothing but the products of a casteistic society! Here’s where the problem with bracketing all Indian women (emerging new breed!) under one umbrella begins. For example, women from lower caste backgrounds or dark-skinned women can never ever identify with the ‘Indian’ woman in this novel! And such women form the majority of Indian women, and who does the woman in the novel represent? She is after all the prefect blend of modernity and tradition necessitated by globalization and modern hindutva. And, that’s why this will be my first and last chicklit novel.

Ps: Just thought I need to elaborate a bit on last part. With globalization, capitalism is here to stay, which requires the labor of men and women, without any gender differentiation. Which means, women need to adapt to the changing world: travel alone, live alone, etc. Modern version of hindutva would mean, just do whatever you want to do with your life, just ensure that you don’t forget our sanskriti and that means, don’t fall in love with someone out of caste or class, observe the traditions (even if they are demeaning to women and lower castes on principle), visit astrologers (even if it goes completely against all science), wear sindoor, etc. I know some of you might argue that it's silly of me to be saying this, especially after the Mangalore pub attack. But, then, how about the anti-reservation protests? I am sure there will be a lot of common supporters for these two issues, and that's where the modern hindutva raises it's venomous head!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Amaltas


Brightly bright shining atop
In the dawn, between
Wakefulness and sleep
Deep inside they meander
Little droplets of color
Of joy, of hope, of love

Spiritedly springing in the air
On the yellow canopy
Covering the darkness
Of anger and misery
Tiny packets of laughter
Of memories, of whispers, of smiles

Ps: This was written for the bright amaltas tree that stands right opposite my bedroom window. Amaltas was one thing I thought I would miss in Chennai, but, well...life is mysteriously beautiful in some ways. The tree is now in full bloom...:)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Unity in Diversity…Chak de India!

India has always been identified as a land of diversity; well, it’s a different story altogether if there’s strife, bitterness, or joy in that diversity. But, the starkness of this diversity is hitting at us today like never before. It’s not even a week since a 76 jawans died in the forests of Dandakaryna, where the ancient inhabitants of this land have been ignored, exploited, and today, mass murdered under the garb of development! It’s interesting that these inhabitants weren’t even consulted before they were declared as Indians; only because the land they are lived in for over 5000 years was newly annexed by this neo-colonial, dying-to-become-some-f***-superpower. It’s of course old news that the government has been ignoring these regions for several years, but suddenly today, it has woken up to the fact that its adivasis or the ‘poor’ and ‘undeveloped’ (read uncivilized, which actually means unurbanised) must be brought into the mainstream! And, what is mainstream? The brahmical fascist class society? Where honor killings are the order of the days? Or, any political struggle extends only till sending pink chadis or filling up the pubs, which apparently is protest against patriarchy?

Now, for the other part of diversity: it’s the IPL season! Time to open up your purse strings, twitter the latest scores, lech at the white-skinned, half-clothed cheer leaders, and enjoy a great game of cricket! In fact, the government helps you in enjoying this great concoction of dope and pure joy; it doles out subsidies in just about everything. More than subsidies, all the political parties (which don’t see eye in many others) are together in this mass hysteria. Well, not only this, even in the former issue (in ‘developing’ the adivasis), they are together. Just look at this subsidy: about 10-12 crore waiving of the entertainment tax in Maharashtra alone! And, as Sainath says in his article in the Hindu today, such subsidies in a state whose debt will cross 200,000 crore this year!

I mean, does the government even think it a wee bit necessary to consult the public (whose money it seems to spend/rob in style) before committing to such barbaric acts? As if it’s not enough that the rich and super rich get entertained for free, they get even subsidies on food! In a country that’s battling hunger and which is also sitting ugly at the 65th (out of 88) position on the global hunger index, which is way below all our neighbours (Nepal: 57, Sri Lanka 40, and Pakistan: 61). Now, it’s not population because China clocked in at a whopping 7! We are with none other than Ethiopia, which is a poor country uniformly, unlike our country that has several multibillionaires vying to make it to Forbes magazine or even permanent residents there!

So, this is the land of diversity. And, every day, it amazes me to see or even hear colleagues/friends twitter or sms each other about IPL scores and in the same breath complain of the power cuts and the ambush of the ‘our’ jawans by some terrorists, who should be mercilessly squashed! Just to remind all of us certain bare facts: as for power cuts, we could definitely save up on lot of power if the IPL matches were played in daylight (well, that would mean all the beautiful people sweat a bit and that may not photograph well!), and the jawans who died were anyway the poorest of the poor in this country, so why should any of us even bother? The government could simply send many many more such poor fellows to ‘guard’ nation! And, as for the adivasis, the government isn’t exactly bothered about their development or education; it’s eyeing the resources that have been their home for ages! And, since they don’t have machine guns, they can be easily wiped out and their lands opened up to the plunder of the monsters that are running this great Indian tamasha called the Indian state in collaboration with the imperialist powers of the world! And, we, the common people can take in all of this, yes, all. The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in the northeast (where women will rampantly raped and common people will be murdered in broad daylight, about 40% of the Indian army to be stationed in Kashmir where again rapes are rampant and young boys are frequently gunned down or go missing, the state machinery will actually participate in <mass butchering minorities, think of eliminating the poorest of this country to the coffers of the rich and the super rich , and hoot and whistle and enjoy IPL matches! Well, if we could accommodate all of this and much more in just one country, we indeed have unity in diversity! Chak de, India!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Reminder on Mail

Today, I received a mail about a lecture on Cooking under the Raj, followed by a dinner. And, this was the menu.
M E N U

Soup
Mulligatawny Soup
Anglo Indian Pumpkin Soup

Non-Vegetarian
Captains Country Chicken
Anglo Indian Mutton Cutlets
Pork Vindaloo
Fish Cakes
Egg Curry

Vegetarian
Ladies-fingers Fugath
Country Captain of Vegetables
Brinjal Bharta
Spiced Fried Potatoes
Dal Khichuri
Rice & Roti
Chutneys/Pickles / Garnishes

Desserts
Bread and Butter Pudding
Banana Fritters
Ice Cream
(Rs. 450/- + 10% S.C. + 12.5% V.A.T.)


Apparently, after independence (shall we just say after a change in the management) in 1947, when the exploiting colonizers left this land under Brahminical fascists, feudal lords, and exploiters, besides the legacy of a more organized and a wide spread way of exploitation, the British had also left something else; something that deserves a lecture and even a dinner after 60 odds years. Yea, something called as the anglo-indian cuisine had evolved and the management that took over after them still preferred the ways of the British. What’s revealing about this is the fact that, nothing much has actually changed. What did the poor worker, dalit or farmer who fought to get the British out actually gain? Nothing! Nothing at all! This management has all along been doing just what the British did; these dinners and lectures are just repugnant and puss-filled reminders of the amount of struggle the poor workers, dalits, or farmers have to wage against the capitalists, the brahminical fascists, and the super powers of the world for realizing a world that’s truly humane and ‘fit’ for ‘humanity’!

Friday, April 2, 2010

A few drops of tears, a few moments of silence, and a coffee…

Have you even experienced a feeling of pointlessness descending upon you out of where? Suddenly, the blue of the sky is no more beautiful; it just becomes another color. Even the chocolate in the hot chocolate is delightful just as long as it takes for you to swallow it! And, in no time, the bitterness in your mouth returns (literally and figuratively)! And, anyone, especially, the close ones say something wee bit irritating, and you fly off the handle? Well, am not even going to try and diagnose the whys of this because I know fully well what the final diagnosis will be. And, no prizes for guessing: yes, it is the arrogance of affordability. (Read Dr. Rudhran’s post on ennui, which I think is quite closely related to what I am discussing here.)

So, as the title suggests, this post is basically how one deals with this, with complete knowledge of the why. In fact, there are some constructive things you can do during these times. One of course is to avoid any human contact, especially because it could be harmful for the ones who dare come in contact with you. You could even try your hand at poetry. Well, now, some of you are sneering at this outrageous proposal. But, trust me, it works. I have realized it from personal experience as well from the experiences of people around me. And, the sooner you acknowledge the why, the quicker will you get out of this ‘feeling’ of the blues. Of course, nothing heals like a stiff one of the rocks, but resist, especially all you guys out there, who exploit the male privilege society hands out to you on a platter! :) Anyway, to cut a long story short, I’ll tell you the surest way to be out of this: ensure that you have at least one or two close friends, a space for you to be alone with just your thoughts, and a mug full of hot coffee. It’s ok even if you don’t have friends. The latter two are important.

So, the next time you find yourself in one such situation, go to your space with a mug full of coffee, let the tears fall, and then think. Just think, let the thoughts jostle around, and never forget the why. In all probability, you should be out in about an hour or two. And, all it took for you see the beauty in the blue of the sky were nothing but a few drops of tears, a few moments of silence, and a coffee. Well, it needn’t necessarily be this simple, but we could try to make life simpler, shouldn’t we?

Destination Sikkim - Till we meet again

On the third day, we went to the Sikkim Himalayan Zoo. It was day of little rain and much mist. The walk into the zoo was surreal because o...