Sunday, October 14, 2007

Does being single really translate into “cornucopia of choices to mingle” or is it “an over-exaggerated fad?”

A disclaimer right in the beginning: this post isn’t my attempt to condone or condemn the choice that people make about their marital status.

With God’s grace, I have alluring, altruistic, soigné, illustrious and vivacious friends – a mix of both single and married people. Depending on the marital status, people belong to different school of thoughts. Overall, I am a homebody, but I have a confession to make-- somewhere in my heart, I envy an aspect of the “carte blanche” that accompanies single people. Oops! My entire family just cringed after having read the aforementioned line. Believe me; I can jot down my candidness with such ease because (Thank God!) I am not married to some sanctimonious ignoramus who would be offended beyond comprehensible means because of my ‘sacrilegious’ thoughts. My husband is au fait with where the adulation for “the smell of freedom” comes from. To me, “no strings attached” or “living large as a single” doesn’t translate to “license to go on a dating binge;” what I covet about the single life, is the ability to do what you want when you want without feeling culpably or emotionally torn apart—whether it’s juggling or multi-tasking. The going gets tougher when you actually want to be home and not because you are duty-bound.

Last night, an incident transpired that made me wonder if “being single” is overrated. I woke up at wee hours and realized that I had temporarily lost mobility--maybe pulled a muscle in my sleep or just slept in an incorrect posture. The initial feeling was that of inexplicable fear—“will I be able to stand on my own?” “Will I be able to walk?” Of course, it was the sleep-deprived brain thinking and hence the dramatization.

For the last 15 hrs, I have been dealing with excruciating pain and my husband has been striving to eradicate it - both mentally and physically. This whole episode made me cogitate how people handle such overwhelming situations when they have no one with them. I know this country thrives on dialing 911 but what if the phone is few feet away and you are unable to dial that magic help number. Yes, it can happen. It dawned on to me that those few moments of “it’s my life” or “my way or the highway” that the single life provides you with, is maybe coated with as much tribulation as felicity.

I am not saying that marriage should be raison d'être, but I think the illusion of being single is more appealing than the phenomenon itself. Not everyone lives the life Carrie Bradshaw does on “Sex & The City”- a socialite on a columnist’s salary. That is a completely different story. The media portrays the “single life” to be all glamorous and beguiling, but I believe that is just half-truth.

Copyright © 10.14.2007

“I love being married. It's so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life” ~ Rita Rudner

Thursday, October 11, 2007

What’s in a name?

Over the past few years or so, Onomastics (or onomatology-- the study of names) has enamored me completely. The word, which is derived from Greek ονομα (onoma), means "name".

So, I have been drawing a mental comparison between people with identical first names and dissimilar cognomen. My postulation: people with the same first compellation share comparable characteristics. It could be the persona or the demeanor, but there is that inexplicable common thread created by the almighty. They are not doppelgangers. So, what I am sharing is my candid raw analysis based on keen observation.

Over the weekend, I was at a party in Albany. The host, who is my crony, introduced me to her confrere and posse, including a person named Anu. Five minutes into a conversation with her, I could see similarities between her and my friend Anu, who lives in NYC. They have the same hairstyle, analogous demeanor; they are dead ringers of each other physically and have the exact same style of iterating their point. I could not believe my ears or eyes. Was it an eidetic image? It was enough for my conjecture to morph in a conviction.

At the top of my head, I can think of four “Archana’s,” who I know closely and they all have indistinguishable hair and similar outlook towards life. None of them knows the other one. Isn’t that bizarre?

My list of examples doesn’t end with just these two names, but I’ll stop here. I don’t know what anyone else thinks, but I am convinced-- It’s all in the name!

Copyright © 10.11.2007

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet" - William Shakespeare

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Born an Indian; say "I do" to an Indian

I had a rather interesting tête-à-tête with one of my dearest buddy over the weekend. Over Christmas of 2006, he decided to visit his comrade and indulge in some Southern comfort food, I guess. Holiday euphoria, scrumptious aliment, festive sentiments and guess what the topic of conversation was — something dear and near to every Indian’s heart. Can you make a guess? “Matrimonial confabulation”. To cut the long story short, my friend’s amigo made a judicious (?) suggestion. His “words of wisdom” -- since my chum is of Indian origin, he should espouse only a “desi” girl. His postulation was based on his understanding of the striking disparity between the east and west. He thinks that these dissimilarities would precipitate a domestic crisis and eventually my friend would be forlorn.

Here is a fact: every single Indian I know (from my generation) has at least a friend or a cousin whose marriage unfortunately has dissolved. Mind you, these people were wed to Indians. Not only that but also some of these alliances were arranged by their parents - known family, comparable rearing, propitious omens, assiduous family background check and the groom/bride befit the parents’ characterization of beauty. Such flawless matchmaking and yet separated? Pardon my cynicism but that is extremely astute, right? I have also seen couples (where they sought out their own spouse= “Indian love marriage”) show utmost disrespect towards each other. Their public display of differences makes you mortified for them. Only thing they have in common is the country they come from.

I know of numerous successful marriages between people of dissimilar religious faiths, ethnicities and milieu. Is it just serendipity? I hardly think so. They choose to pick the strengths from each other’s background and let the negative disparities dissipate.

I am not sure if nationalities determine the success or collapse of a marriage; human personalities do. I agree; similar cultural/religious upbringing might make things easier but they do not guarantee a thriving nuptial relationship.

We live in a world of never-ending stress, materialistic awareness and incessant pressure. Seeking happiness has become the prime challenge for most people. Does it really matter what ethnicity your spouse is if you can actually get along?

These again are my two cents. I would be curious to know what others feel about it.

Copyright © 10.04.2007

"Ultimately the bond of all companionship, whether in marriage or in friendship, is conversation." – Oscar Wilde

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Jet—is this airline really set?

Okay, this isn’t an insidious effort at creating a rather tacky tagline; what it is, is a reflection of my inner turmoil. Here is why: I have always been a stalwart supporter of Jet Airways. Like most other Indians, I was both jubilant and beholden (to the airline God?) when Jet Airways started their Newark to Bombay non-stop flight on August 5th. Granted I wasn’t delighted about the exclusion of JFK, but hey, this was a sign for things to come. The august presence of my favorite “desi” airline in the skies – imagine it whizzing through euphonious brume and over Brobdingnagian oceans. For those of you who watch “Scrubs”, the main character and narrator, J.D., lapses into his day-dreaming mode every now and then. The action is archaic and trite but beguiling at the same time. So, I digressed and had a J.D. moment.

Here is how the story commences: my in-laws decided to fly Jet Airways when they visited us this past August. It seemed like the perfect choice—elite airline, professional crew well—versed with the needs of Indian parents, scrumptious food (at least in the domestic sector) and most importantly, great flying time. If I am not wrong, with the stopover in Brussels, the flying time is only 16 hours. Almost magical! I remember thinking to myself, “this is incredible-- an airline for the people by the people. Like India’s democracy.” Okay, another J.D. moment. Anyways, upon their arrival, elatedly I asked my in-laws about their “Jet Airways” experience. They expressed their immense dissatisfaction with the airline.

When my in-laws reached Bombay a couple of days ago, I asked them about their Jet Airways experience on their flight back home. I was hoping against hope that Jet wouldn’t let me down. Au contraire to popular belief, my vivid imagination and Jet Airway’s magnificent reputation back in India, the service in the international sector is appalling. The staff was conceited, inattentive and arrogant and their service was abysmal. They barely served meals and that too meager portion; they were inconsiderate of any special dietary guidelines you provided them with at the time of the ticket purchase; finally, they had the audacity to be condescending.

Well, they call themselves the “finest airline in Asia” while their attitude is reflective of the “lowest budget airline in the world”. What an oxymoron!

I wonder why Jet Airways has positioned itself like a thrifty traveler’s international airline. Have they not been able to dissociate themselves from Jet Light (the brand extension created after Jet Airways acquired Sahara Airlines)?

I do not know about others, but I am not feeling too much love for this particular airline at this time and hope I do not ever have to fly it internationally. A random quote comes to mind as I near the end of my post -- "There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways out of this airplane."

Copyright © 09.27.2007

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

If you don’t fast, will your husband die?

On Friday evening, I had gone out for aperitif with few of my co-workers to a cozy roof-top place in the vicinity of my office. It was a clammy evening so the Mojitos tasted like the “Holy Grail”. Needless to say, it was a fine soirée with a fascinating bunch of people. Since I had friends coming over for dinner that evening, I had to bid adieu to my work friends early. As it was time for me to leave, one person suggested going out again on Friday, September 14th. Here starts the story -- I explained the reason for my unavailability—“I have to fast on Friday. It’s almost a 36-hour long fast for my husband’s long life”. As I said that, I realized the faux pas in the statement. It was then that I realized that I almost felt like a sorceress—almost omnipotent. Have we (as in all Hindu women who fast for their husband’s good health and long life) been bestowed upon with these divine powers which I thought only the almighty had—the ability to be the creator and the ruler of the universe?

My riveting explanation got a second jolt when one of my co-workers, with utmost homage, astonishment, bewilderment and intrigue asked me “will your husband die if you don’t fast for him?” There is one thing I can vouch for my self-- I am rarely at a loss of words. More often than not, I have the response to the most Herculean questions. That evening, I was tongue-tied.

I have been more than candid about my reservations with these patriarchal traditions in today’s ever-evolving day and age. I emphasize on “today’s day and age” because these customs made sense centuries ago when male and female species had defined roles—the former was the bread-winner; the latter the home-maker. In today’s world, their lifestyles are very similar—they both go to work; in most cases, a woman does more chores around the house; not to forget, at least in South Asian culture, she is the source of bond for families on both sides. Yet, she is expected to fast for her husband’s “long life” and then for some inexplicable reason, cook a delectable meal to commemorate the occasion? Nice going! Shouldn’t men give obeisance to us splendid women instead?

My other issues with it—I have seen and interacted with enough women who are complete control freaks and figuratively speaking, have a rope tied around their husband’s neck. They nag and croak like a toad, spurting out furious words, day after day but won’t indulge in a sip of water when they keep these fasts. Isn’t that an oxymoron? Call me a skeptic, but I willing to bet my next paycheck on their husband’s willingness to live. Not just that, I have met enough couples where the husband treats his wife with utmost disrespect and her life seems like a cul-de-sac. Do you really want to pray for this monster’s well-being who treats you macabrely? Well, I’d be thinking voodoo kits. Then you come across the third category where the woman is ailing and on medication yet insists on abstention. So, the health had been failing for years; the coup de grâce was the water deprivation?

Maybe my opinion makes me sound like agent provocateur, but neither am I superstitious nor am I the kind to say c'est la vie. I believe both tradition and religion are not above humanity. You need to have faith to truly follow either. If keeping a 36-hour long fast doesn’t fall in tune with your own belief system, you shouldn’t do it; if it is something that you believe in, then nobody shop stop you. Hypocrisy, superstition and societal pressure shouldn’t be the reason.

Copyright © 09.11.2007

“Society exists only as a mental concept; in the real world there are only individuals” - Oscar Wilde

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Soi-disant - Am I traversing through vegetarianism?

I know this post will chagrin my family deeply. I get this image of them feeling almost abashed with their jaws dropping in despair, disgust and helplessness—kind of like “what did we do wrong?” It’s like I turned my back on my own. Okay, I did exaggerate a little there. See, my family is not umbrageous or malevolent, but it is full of soigné, comestible lovers who not only attach importance to good food but extol their ability to procure the best that’s out there. Meat definitely falls very high on their list. Most members of my family love animals, BUT dead, on their plate.

Elucidation for my epiphany: Even as a kid, I was never fond of red meat. In India, goat meat is considered a legacy (meat connoisseurs apprize it) and considered enormously popular. I recall squirming and telling my mom, “It tastes too real—like an animal”. I have vivid memories of my cousins sucking and masticating onto the bone marrow (remember, it’s a legacy). It was unintentional, but I would get queasy at the sight of them holding a bone; forget them gormandizing on it. One of my cousins’ would literally chomp on the chicken leg as if it was the flesh of the animal that he was indulging in and before you knew it, his hands would be empty. I found it extremely barbaric, but I guess he relished it.

With age and time, I have become more cognizant about how pernickety I am about non-vegetarian food and how easy it is for me to feel disgusted. One of my closest friends calls me a “fake non-vegetarian” since my list of “what grosses me out” supersedes “what gives me pleasure.” Here is what I can’t deal with when it comes to non-vegetarian food:

Red Meat
Animal meat with bones—only boneless for me.
Processed Meat
Ground/Minced Meat
Non-veg with even the remotest hint of “the animal taste” in it.
Washing any kind of non-vegetarian item
Chopping up boneless

Doesn’t quite leave much, does it?

I have to admit: my alacrity to watch “Fast Food Nation” and “Super-Size Me” has augmented my existing contemplation. When you see what goes on in the animal slaughter world (the cruelty, the debasement and the abuse), you get coerced into second guessing yourself. Is ignorance bliss? Having said that I want to make a confession-- few chicken entrées have a certain je ne sais quoi that I find very appealing -- “butter chicken,” “chilli chicken,” “boneless buffalo wings” and “chicken lollipop.”

I was wondering if there is anyone else out there going through the same dilemma and confusion.

Copyright © 09.06.2007

"I want my food dead. Not sick, not dying, dead" - Oscar Wilde

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Quest to make planet Earth “idiot-free”

Destination: Mars
What is it: a wish list
Purpose: to extradite humans who abandon the usage of their brain
Why Mars: proof-Martian soil may contain life
Relocation: paid for by the people of Earth
Reason: call it philanthropy

I had the fortune of reading this alluring article on the other day that gave me delusive contentment. It was about how the soil on Mars may contain microbial life. According to Joop Houtkooper of the University of Giessen, Germany, Mars could be home to just "extremophiles" -- in this case, microbes whose cells are filled with a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water, providing them with natural anti-freeze. They would be quite capable of surviving a harsh Martian climate where temperatures rarely rise above freezing and can fall to minus 150 degrees Celsius.

Scientific talk aside, this article offers the perfect remedy for dealing with people who chafe your nerves—say tsetchem leshalom, proscribe them to Mars and let them revel in the Martian climate. Maybe the excrutiating algid temperatures will thaw their frozen gray cells? These idiots can spend eternity in Martian land and we Earth-dwellers can peacefully go about our daily chores.

Call it my pollyanna notions about making the world “idiot-free,” but I have been working on a list of people who should be said hasta la vista to and shipped to Mars. It will not be a perilous voyage in a canoe across space; I was thinking more like an official send off with fanfare and they can create their own “Idiotland”.

My recommended list:
  1. Britney Spears—relinquished her brains (for Kevin Federline) and so the remnant amount needs to be deliquesced
  2. Paris Hilton—lost her brains to rhinoplasty
  3. George Bush—the lesser said the better it is
  4. Dick Cheney- Bush would need an amigo on Mars—kinda like homies
  5. Will Ferrell—to him, encephalon is an entrée offered at Saigon Taste
  6. Jaya Bachan—prolonged viciousness has had deleterious effects on her brain
  7. Kangana Renaut—this wanna be egghead can’t spell brain—not because she is autistic; but because she is still striving to evolve into human form.
  8. Bal Thackeray—we have had enough; the extremophiles on Mars should live with his iniquitous deeds
  9. Rakhi Sawant— silicone implants have aggrandized the pressure on her pea-sized brain and turned it into a vestigial organ like the appendix.
  10. Pamela Anderson – someone needs to float on Mars
  11. Mallika Sherawat - her ebullience is a sign of her brain on Prozac
  12. Lindsay Lohan – dude, she has no brains.

Disclaimer:- This is not a final list of people who should be exiled to Mars; names can be deleted (I highly doubt it) and/or added at any time.:-)

Copyright © 08.31.2007

“The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public” - George Jessel

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Can you take India out of an Indian?

The last few days have been a pleasant ride into patriotism land. Literally, all activities that I indulged in have been reminiscent of propitious weather and reeked of India – like the sweet smell of mud that lingers on providing all with a snug blanket of warmth, when it’s bestowed upon with the first monsoon of the season.

A ride into my desi emotions: Last week, I went for a book reading by Anupama Chopra. Her new book is on the “King of Bollywood” aka Shahrukh Khan. The evening was remarkable—small get together, invigorating aperitifs and delectable hors d'oeuvre. The reception was rather stately and the venue, baronial. I soaked in as much South Asian cultural heritage as a human possibly could, in one grand evening. Chopra, a petite, mirthful, cogent and cordial film critic and book author, was basking more in Indian glory than her own eminence. When someone asked her if Indian directors were going to make movies that basically catered to people in the west, with utmost grace and stellar confidence she responded in the negative. She reiterated that Bollywood is content with the audience it has at present and doesn't feel the need to alter its style to cater to a new audience. She also confirmed that Sony Entertainment is coming to Bollywood and making a movie “Bollywood-ishtyle”. She veraciously spurted out these words in a non-grandiose way even though a big chunk of the population comprised of Caucasians.

Ride two: On Friday, few of my friends and I went to watch the newly released Hindi movie, “Chak De”. If you haven’t seen it already, I would absolutely recommend watching it. I had no idea that a simple movie about women’s hockey could stir up such strong allegiant emotions and evoke an intense response. Absolutely splendid!

To be candid, on one hand, I love where I live now; on the other, I apprize India with my heart and soul. Every year around the Indian Independence day, I feel unrest and turmoil. Today is India’s 60th Independence Day and that makes me nostalgic. I remember the flag hoisting to free sweet distribution to the patriotic songs that we would sing as kids.

I am not the kind to display my emotions in public but irrespective of where I am, the Indian national anthem gets me misty eyed. It touches that cord which nothing else does. I truly believe you can take an Indian out of India but not India out of an Indian.

Any thoughts?

Copyright © 08.15.2007

"Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious" - Oscar Wilde

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The perfect “break-up” restaurant in New York City

You know, I can’t imagine anyone ever planning a “fun” evening at an eye sore restaurant where the food looks like a by product of pollution and commotion and service is reminiscent of what prisoners of war had to face -- unless of course you are heartlessly dumping someone. For such an uneventful occasion, you want a cacophonous restaurant where the noise created by mumbling of humans and clanking of dishes drowns away hurtful words or abuses—depending on whether you are at the giving end or receiving end. Another charm of such a restaurant is that you do not lose amour-propre-- savorless food acts as a brilliant disguise for your emotions in public places—no one can tell the difference between “my heart hurts,” cry or “the food is appalling,” cry.

Anyway, a few nights ago a bunch of us had organized a soiree for an essential element of our coterie, a dear friend who was moving to Far East Asia (thankfully for a short and defined period). We made reservations at this much-recommended restaurant -- Chennai Gardens in the Murray Hill area of New York City. The restaurant has won raving reviews – maybe the owner paid someone for those words dipped in honeydew? It sounded like fallacious testimony. Before I delve into the happenings of that evening, I’d like to say something -- the only thing commendable about Chennai Gardens was the location.

An insight into the evening: we were a group of eight out of which one person wasn't eating; he was the "food guardian"— kind of like a restaurant angel looking over us and our comestible. Believe me, after the abominable experience at this restaurant, we needed his services. Anyway, seven people ordered appetizers and beverages and guess what—the rocket science behind order taking completely shocked the waiters; they goofed up. The staff was not really au fait with our needs. After persistent reminders, the flabbergasted staff finally managed to make an effort and bring out the remaining appetizer. They didn’t let us down; when it was time for our entrees, they made an aberration. Not only did they get our order wrong, but in their own way, were indignant about rectifying their mistake. Not to forget, the “over-salted sambar” looked and tasted like murky water. The table arrangement was bedraggled and the lesser said about the presentation, the better it is. All I can tell you is that Martha Stewart would never approve of this place.

I am never impertinent to staff at any restaurant—it’s not just the fear of them spitting in my food (yes it happens), but I genuinely appreciate their services. Living away from India has made me all the more appreciative of labor and services. Had it been a regular dinner out with friends, I would have not been so upset, but this was a special evening and the unprofessionalism and boorish behavior exhibited by the village idiots at the restaurant, was unforgivable.

My recommendation: go to Chennai Gardens only if you are breaking up with someone you loathe as the abysmal service and unpalatable food can make the process easier for you. If you want convivial atmosphere, a kebab vendor would be a better option as compared to this banal restaurant.

Copyright © 08.12.2007

"After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives." Oscar Wilde

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Who Gets My Vote?

I just got back from the most tranquil vacation of my life. My trip to Dubai/India was so therapeutic. I was in La-La Land engulfed in the warmth of my family, clique, delectable food and incessant chirpiness of the help at home. I guess my index fingers are so used to giving direction (in an authoritative way) that they are clueless about their other usage. That part of the world does reduce your limb mobility.

Interestingly enough, majority of the people I met with, read my blog and happened to very graciously appreciate it. I was rather flattered. Depending on the incidents, they all had their suggestions on what my next post should be on: three-hour wait at State Bank of India to change currency (Go Figure!); the party thrown by my parents in my honor where my cousins and I indulged in a “chilli chicken” gormandizing competition; gossip about blatherskite in the family; this porcine teenager cum spoilt house guest at my friend’s who was comatose from carrying around a lot of excess avoirdupois; to the bizarre travelers – one of them was a pre-pubescent loser at JFK whose wife kept professing her eternal love for him as if he was a warrior going into battle or the prison of Azkaban. Apparently he was going away on a four-day long business trip. Back up! Seriously, four-days aren’t long; they are unfair. You are really not giving anyone a break!!! After a lot of contemplation, here is what I decided to write about – the airline I flew.

I am a sucker for self-defined and Dow Jones rated “good airlines”. After all, you can’t quite compromise on the quality of travel when it comes to a 16-hour flight given that I fly cattle class (economy). I think its incumbent upon us to make the right choice of airline. Whenever possible, I fly “Singapore Airlines” (SQ). You can’t beat Asian hospitality (and food?) Anyhow, this time around, due to lack of time, I decided to take a shorter route and yet fly a highly ranked airline. My choice was “Emirates”. After all, it is ranked just second to SQ.

Well, my first impression of Emirates – international crowd of svelte stewardess and well-sculpted stewards who knew their jobs. What won me over were the victuals. They totally smother you with this array of entrees and dessert until your stomach starts howling for help. It breaks my heart to admit this but SQ doesn’t hold a candle to the variety offered by Emirates. However, the service on SQ is incomparable. The crew is more cordial on SQ and the passengers are dapper. The one major thing that bothered me about Emirates was the crowd. It is infiltrated with proletariat crowd whose sense of speech and plebeian mannerisms get adversely affected after indulging in free alcohol. I had the “fortune” of sitting between two those unearthly men on my way to Dubai. All that I can tell you is that I didn’t catch a wink or drink a sip of wine. These hoi polloi actually spread a pack of cards on the airline floor and literally hooted every time a stewardess walked by.

I confess; I am a flight snob who behaves like an anti-social element the minute I get my boarding pass. My airline personality is starkly different from my regular personality.

Having said that, I feel Emirates might be considered a mighty fine airline if you are traveling business class or with a familiar group. Otherwise, the crowd is reminiscent of jail break and mass exodus from Alcatraz. SQ caters more to a bourgeois set. SQ, you definitely have my vote for letting me feel safe!

Copyright © 08.09.2007

Friday, July 27, 2007

You are going to Hindu Hell!

Neither am I cussing / cursing anyone nor am I showering profanity on some timid soul. This title was bestowed upon me by one of my very good non-Indian friend. In fact, quite a few of my cronies agree with this friend’s prediction; they just have found different phrases to coin their postulation and predict my life when I am six feet under.:-)

Disclaimer: I’d like to think of myself as a liberal Hindu (pardon my French, but it translates to “pain in the ass” for the religious pundits and people who consider religion to be their only source of vigor and support).

Here is the good part: I appreciate the concepts of temples and home shrines and the fact that we have idols to worship. I, for one, function better if I can add a face to a name. However, I loathe Hindu pundits, or as I like to call them “the kings of banal mumbo jumbo”. See, I abhor how they instill fear in people using superstition as a tool. “If you don’t perform this “puja” at 6a.m., your son will be born with pigeon feet” or something equally inane. If they really had the ability to predict change, they wouldn’t really be living such a proletariat life. It’s time they realized that no bad deed goes unpunished. Plus, I don’t see why I need a mediator or pundit to have a conversation with God.

Going to Hindu Hell part: I acquiesce halfheartedly with most Hindu traditions, though I am a firm believer in the “Law of Karma” and adulate our festivities. I accede that religion gives you an identity and sense of self, but I feel that the patriarchal structure of Hinduism gives “man” an identity and takes away a “woman’s”. Even if the core of the religion isn’t all about men; the religious pundits and adage are all about “the Hindu man’s beatitude”. You basically just pray and fast for all the men in your life – father, brother, husband and son. Not just that, but you are also expected to cook sapid, festive meals on an empty stomach as you pray for their well-being. Hmm…. So, do people really think that’s what women do while slogging inhumanely in the kitchen pouring every ounce of their remnant energy into scrumptious comestible?

B.R. Ambedkar (Founder of the Indian Constitution) once said, “In Hinduism, conscience, reason and independent thinking have no scope for development.” With age and time, my brain and body can’t digest the premise of my religion or at least they way it’s practiced. Are they salubrious to mankind? Isn’t religion about humanity and not the other way round? I’d love it if someone could help me shed my Hinduism – related neuroses. I feel the religion hasn’t been able to keep up with the changing times or maybe it’s the people who expect you to follow it. We live in a day of logic and explanation and “do it because I say so” doesn’t really work anymore.

Copyright © 07.27.2007

Monday, July 23, 2007

Super Size Me!

Before you jump the gun, I am not some sick freak making an abhorrent wish to Aladdin’s genie or pleading with Santa Claus for a delinquent Christmas list; I am referring to the movie "Super Size Me." Well I saw this documentary a few days ago and clearly haven't been able to stop yakking about it. In less than eight hours of having viewed the movie, I had discussed it with at least ten of my friends, if not more -- with the same level of avidity, enthrallment, abomination and shock.

The actor and director, Morgan Spurlock (my claim to fame: he was my close friend's neighbor until a few years ago) actually goes on a "McDonald's" diet for a month to show the impact of junk food – both physically and physiologically, on us mere mortals. He paid homage to McDonald’s franchisees all across United States – from bucolic Texas (pompous winner/owner of five of America’s fattest cities) to preppy New York (my guess is NYC boasts America’s most begrimed McDonald’s franchises). So this "harakiri specialist" (my nickname for anyone who lacks amour-propre and indulges in absurd amounts of processed food out of free will) wasn't a student of Michael Moore school of cynicism. He was just a homo sapien out to prove his mettle or add flavor to his interest-deprived life. His fervor for insalubrious comestible was beyond sick as he gormandized on a big whopper and the world got a view of the half- masticated food in his mouth, his puke and then some.

During the filming, Spurlock ate at McDonald's restaurants three times per day, sampling every item on the chain's menu at least once. Can you believe that he actually consumed an average of 5,000 calories per day? After an intense 30-day period, the experiment got over; Spurlock had gained 25 pounds; bestowed upon with ailments; his cholesterol/triglyceride levels had hit unheralded peaks.

Okay, I am an advocate for freshly cooked meals and rarely indulge in fast food, but I have a confession to make – at least three to four times a year, I need to satiate my hankering for Chicken Mcnuggets. The feeling is divine but after watching this documentary, my “Mcnugget vision’ has been ruined for life. Meat of old hen-- laden with sodium--bathed in unhealthy fats--cooked in mass scale--with God alone knows what ambiguous body parts of the bird kingdom-- guaranteed recipe to mess up at least one of your vital organs, if not more.

For those of you who haven't seen this documentary, here is what I have to say: if you want to give up non-vegetarian junk food all together, just watch “Fast Food Nation” and “Super Size Me” and you’ll be set on a vegan diet for life. For those of you who feel an undying love and dedication towards McDonald’s, there is news for you: McDonald’s has come up with “Hugo”—a synonym for save-the company-from picket lines and lawsuits, or simply put, a 42-ounce drink which is now available for as little as 89 cents in some markets. A Hugo soda contains about 410 calories.

McDonald’s has taken a stance on racism -- the company has ensured that minorities don’t lack behind in the “obesity rat race”. Very kindly, it has worked on a strategy of spreading the epidemic to the minority communities -- Hugo ads are available in several languages, making sure that minorities are aware of the budget beverage. Muchos Gracias! Seriously, as South Asians that’s exactly what we need – another food item that leads to weight gain and clogged arteries.

Copyright © 07.23.2007

“As a child my family's menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it” ~Buddy Hackett

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Uh-oh... I made a ‘boo boo’!

I know! I know! I am a little too old to be using the aforementioned asseveration; what happened to me the other day, totally qualifies under that genre of “bloopers and blunders”. Every time I think about it, weirdly enough, I feel an involuntary smile spread across my face, but when the faux pas happened, I wished either Superman would whisk me away to his “never-need-to-come-back-from -Kryptonite world,” or a magic wand would make me evanesce from that moment of awkwardness. Oy! If only! Now I know what Kangana Renaut feels like – all the time.

So here is what happened ---- fervently, I ordered lunch from my absolute desired Indian Chinese restaurant close to work. I have to tell you, their food is delectable. I would like to think that I am amongst one of their first few customers. Sometimes I fantasize about my last wish being granted by God/devil and my response would be “Chilli Chicken from IndoMunch”. I know it’s appalling but hey, don’t be so quick to judge—we all have our “fantasies”!:-)

I digress, but now am back on the story-track. So, when I called to order my lunch, to my surprise, I didn’t recognize the person’s voice at the other end. I remember thinking to myself, “looks like they have hired someone new. Good for them their business is doing so well.” In my polite yet got-to-know-now-desi- way, I asked the person, who picked up the phones, if she was a new hire. Well, she responded semi-acrimoniously that in fact, she had been there for a while. I was convinced that she must be working the evening shift generally as I eat lunch way too often there to not recognize the staff and vice-versa.. God, I am on a confession-roll!

On one hand, I was going to eat “chilli chicken” which translates to deep fried protein laden with starch; on the other, I decided to get in my share of exercise before gormandizing. Now when I think of my decision, I am befuddled myself. Anyway, I peregrinated to the restaurant, to pick up my lunch only to be greeted by three simpering gentleman at the counter - - all familiar faces (my umpteenth visit had guaranteed that). My eyes spasmodically searched for the ‘desi aunty’ and charily judged the men’s solecism. After all, it was incumbent upon me to pay homage to the new hire.

Anyway, I am abashed to write what happened next – one of the guys behind the counter called out my name and told me what the total bill was. That’s when the “feeling of uh-oh” started flowing through my body. I felt so discombobulate—worse than a deer caught in the headlights. This ‘desi aunty’ was actually a guy with a rather feeble voice. He had either been too polite to correct me over the phone or just apathetic. Uh-oh again! How I wish sometimes the desi in me would take a chill pill and accept that meeting and greeting every Indian aunty, with a heavy accent, in NYC, is not part of my job description.

With a confused, embarrassed, facetious look, I apologized and while I was doing that, he and his other two friends joined my laughter club. Between “I am sorry” and “no problem, it’s okay,” we all cachinnated like there was no tomorrow.

Just thought I would share this story with you all. Do you have any “uh-oh” moments to share?

Copyright © 07.19.2007

"Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes" -- Oscar Wilde

Monday, July 16, 2007

Bestial treatment—Why, because I am a woman?

I had started writing my new post in the subway last evening, mind you a humorous piece, until I came across an appalling article that is consuming Britain alive. Of course, after reading it, I had to express my viewpoint. I guess I am not destined to expose my funny side, at least through my posts:-)

The article that I read talked about the growing problem of genital mutilation in Britain amongst generational immigrants from Africa and Middle East. The British government has offered an award of $40,000 (euro 29,500)to anyone who leads them to information about this abhorrent act. Over summer, young girls are taken to their native countries or somewhere abroad where a bunch of unqualified and verdant ladies commit this heinous act -- not that a doctor committing this deed would have made the process any less abominable. According to UNICEF, between 100 million and 140 million women are believed to have been subjected to this practice in Africa and an additional 3 million girls face the threat of female genital mutilation every year. Think about it, these girls are scarred for life—not just physically, but also mentally. To me, this whole idea is a gratuitous insult to humankind and not just women.

I think, women being forcefully subjected to this excruciating process, is a reflection of the patriarchal world we live in. I don’t hear of men having to undergo any agonizing emasculation, for women, to prove their chastity. I don’t suggest they should, but neither should women. Society gives men a carte blanche to do what they please.

I think we have come a long way to accept these archaic, unintelligent, demoniac traditions. It’s time women took the matters in their own hands, shed their laissez-faire attitude and stopped saying c’est la vie.

Copyright © 07.16.2007

"Sure God created man before woman. But then you always make a rough draft before the final masterpiece" ~Author Unknown

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Baby boys vs. Baby girls – which one is higher to maintain?

This past weekend, I was in Albany with one of my old pals and her family. Her daughter, who’s not even three, is a capricious sweetheart with an ‘I am so cute attitude’; while the son, who’s less than a year old, is the most complacent nine-month old I have come across. The purity of his cachinnation lit up the room while the daughter’s panache, as she gave out carte blanche directive to her dad, was incredible.

Over a cup of invigorating ginger tea, my friend said something thought provoking - - to quote her, “Baby boys are easier to deal with. They fight but that’s about it. Baby girls can sell their dads even before they hit their teens. They are high maintenance” Hmmm. Her candid confession cum facetious remark got me thinking. Is that an infallible rule?

Before I could formulate an official opinion, I jogged down my memory lane. I don’t know too many kids. Off hand, the only people I could think of were: my two nieces (older one is bon vivant with a benevolent attitude while the younger one is an insouciant soul); my friend in NYC who has a 15 month old boy who is all about epicurean delicacies and alfresco entertainment; my friend in Albany, with whom I spent the weekend.

Saying “I acquiesce or dissent with this postulation,” would be a precarious assumption on my part as I don’t know any better. I’d like to hear what people with kids or anyone with experience with other kids feel about this conjecture. Any thoughts?

Copyright © 07.05.2007

"Children need models rather than critics" - Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Is wisdom directly proportional to age?

It is hard for people from my generation to accept the non-expressive Indian culture where questioning someone older than you is like desecrating the shrine. Very conveniently, when people don’t want you to confront them, they use this adage—“Questioning elders is not a part of our culture.” OR “do this because I said so.” Seriously, is that reason enough?

I am of the school of thought that wisdom is not directly proportional to age; experience and exposure are. I know some fifty-year olds whose IQ and/or maturity is two levels below that of my five-year old niece. They open their mouth and a meandering stream of flapdoodle flows out puerilely. The things my eight-year old niece notices or the astuteness she shares, is something I probably became cognizant about when I was double her age--where they are and what they have had the privilege of being exposed to, has played a rather important role; mostly, they owe their wisdom to their open-minded upbringing. Mind you, they are inquisitive, not incongruous.

Questioning keeps us all agile. Why do people turn apathetic after reaching a self-defined-learning-limit? I do understand the repercussions of over-communicative western societies, and I don't agree with saying what's on your mind all the time - there is a time and audience for everything. I believe there is that perfect balance of saying the right amount without being nasty or belligerent.

Hasn't questioning led to remarkable inventions and discoveries? Disagreeing with existing ideas does not have to involve a truculent or boorish formula. Couldn’t it be a recipe for reverence and inquisitiveness? Hasn’t brain drain taught us anything?

Copyright © 06.28.2007

"The beginning of wisdom is found in doubting; by doubting we come to the question, and by seeking we may come upon the truth" -- Pierre Abelard

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Is thirty the new sixty?

Date: A beautiful autumn day
Day: Friday
Time: 11:20p.m.
Location: Bryant Park—Misty night embellished with resplendent stars
Activity: Snore symphony orchestrated by a bunch of us slouched on slovenly chairs

Date: Friday, June 15
Time: 12:35a.m.
Location: Alcove - luxuriating at a friend's while indulging in scrumptious ice cream and invigorating white wine.
Scene: 1/3 rd of people present, felt enervated

The aforementioned scenarios are not an exaggeration of a burlesque you'd see at 'Bob's House of Comedy' but an ironically facetious situation that few of us were in.

I would like to think of myself of as someone with a blithe spirit despite what the clock has to say—like the 'let's party dude,' type; off late, I feel like a laggard. I call Friday as ‘fried-day’ because veraciously speaking I am fried by then. Until about a few years ago, my friends and I were like nocturnal animals, painting the town red until wee hours in the morning --sometimes on a weekday too. Now, a cloud of dormancy encompasses us by 11-11:30p.m.We are roused to movement by sharp caffeine.

Most of my friends feel age is catching up with them. Mind you, these people are not senior citizens but in the age range of 26-35 years. Much as I would like to repudiate with this axiom, I agree with them. Why else would I have spent last evening at my favorite spa? I am cognizant that we live in a taxing day and age and that is why I wonder if thirty is the new sixty. Maybe I am conjecturing, but I do not know otherwise.

Any thoughts?

Copyright © 06.21.2007

"I am not young enough to know everything" - Oscar Wilde

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The searing divide: butter chicken vs. sambar

Last night, our cohort had gone for the most hyped ‘desi’ concert of the season – A.R. Rahman live in concert (for lack of a better word). Like most ‘desis’, we arrived at the stomping ground, adorned in Indian mood, hankering for delectable desi goodies; mind you, not ambrosial food.

Sign from God about how abysmal the concert was going to be: we hit no traffic; there was no ‘masala chai’ at the buvette; the spinster cousin, ‘medhu vada’, had replaced ‘vada pao;’ and finally, the crowd was niche regional as opposed to just plain desi. We were not being covetable but none of it made sense-- it was close to blasphemy. We were not a fastidious bunch looking for a musical soiree; all we wanted was a musique de concert in a convivial atmosphere, in comprehendible langage with felicitous performers. Is that too much to ask?

A further insight into the evening - the crowd was divided into four groups: Tamilians, wanna be Tamilians (they conversed in Gujarati otherwise but were well-versed with Tamilian numbers. Go figure!), Punjabis, and wanna be Punjabis (people like us who lean more towards bhangra as opposed to gueulard (loud-mouthed) Rajnikant devotees and obstreperous crowd). Even before we got through a quarter of the way, my friends and I were craving ‘Chicken Makhani;’ Sukhwinder Singh’s melodious voice finally brought a smile to our disgruntled faces.

Of all the desi concerts I have been to, last evening’s was truly the worst. Instead of burgeoning into a fun evening, Hari Haran’s cheap improvisations to Rahman’s unenthusiastic, sordid, enervative performance brought the evening dwindling down. His proletariat musical crew lacked the capacity to captivate the showgoers. The musique catered to a very specific audience—clearly, it was not us. Lot of people in there would have appreciated a burlesque more.

A friend made a very pertinent remark: two of her Tamilian friends decided against the concert. For all of us who did not belong there that should have been sign enough. The only person worth a mention was the drummer, whose music coruscated throughout the concert hall.

Here is what I surmise from the erroneous evening: for some reason, most artists prefer to sing Tamil songs with their dark glasses on without realizing that it makes them look odious. In addition, there still is a huge music-based cultural divide amongst Indians; so next time around the organizers should not dupe the audience by calling a regional classical music fest gone shoddy, a concert.

Copyright © 06.17.2007

“I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.” – Oscar Wilde

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Life in a Metro- - a movie or a revelation?

India’s booming economy and debilitating moral structure makes me wonder, is change always a good thing? Don’t get me wrong; I am all for amelioration and staying au courant but is there a way we can sieve change? Take the good and abdicate the bad? You must be wondering what led to the creation of my post; well, it was the movie ‘Life in a Metro’.

To be veracious, I loved the movie--eminent actors and the scenario presented seemed very real—like an insight into India’s convoluted culture. It is definitely a recipe for chitchat at one of my girl’s night out. Jokes aside, someone made a very kosher point; all these non-mainstream movies are produced/ directed by the younger generation. Every generation of movie directors try to illustrate ‘their times’- or portray life as they see it, via films. In Yash Chopra movies, women with remarkable acumen in personal grooming matters and home - making, spend their every living breathing moment dolling up--kinda like trophy wives. Their husband and children define the essence of their existence. I know that whole concept is anathema to women from my generation.

Going by that logic, if the scenario presented in the film is a delineation of the moral standards in India, I am both exasperated and appalled. Is the moral fiber of our society completely corroded? It’s not just films; we all know of at least one person in India whose lifestyle is a mirror-image of what was shown in ‘Life in a Metro’.

It’s interesting how some people living in India have the audacity to point fingers and accuse people living abroad of imbibing salacious values when they are the ones indulging in corruptive measures and we are the ones trying to follow tradition and recreate the essence of Indian culture abroad. How else do you think yoga or chili chicken or bollywood bhangra are popular today amongst non-Indians?

How many of you haven’t been accused of turning ‘English’ or ‘American’ or been called an antagonistic name based on wherever it is you live, just because you have a perspective and the intrepidity to question.

I’d like to clarify one last thing- -progress is about opening your mind to new thoughts, challenging non-applicable midwives tales, and questioning archaic concepts. It’s not about insolence or deceit. You enter perilous waters when you lack the verisimilitude.

Copyright © 06.15.2007

"Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike" - Oscar Wilde

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The story about voice….

Before you jump the gun, the fervent feminist inside of me is not going to indite another ‘woman-oriented’ piece today. Neither is this post a remonstrance nor is it esoteric writing. The ‘voice’ that I referred to in the subject line, is heard the most and misused even more often. I am talking about the world of active voice and passive voice. Believe me; despite what you do for a living, you need to know the accurate usage of the two and more often than not, obliterate passive voice from your rulebook of writing. You cannot completely eliminate passive voice but should intend to sound coherent.

Passive: The passport was not stamped until Valentine’s Day.
Active: The immigration officer did not stamp the passport until Valentine’s Day.

Passive: The ball was caught by Rahul Dravid.
Active: Rahul Dravid caught the ball.

The journey begins with when you apply for your first job. Your cover letter, at the end says, “Please find attached my resume for your perusal”. Seriously, who is the agent who attached the letter?

I was talking to my cousin the other day about how most South Asians face this problem - despite all their intelligence, tenacity and hard work, they are inept at writing and lack the basic linguistic skills. After indulging in passive voice most of our adult life, when we move to the west, our choice of voice haunts us – be it school, work, or just social gatherings. Do not get me wrong; we know our grammar to the tee, in theory at least, just not the appropriate usage of it.

So anyways, our badinage led to an epiphany: is the choice of voice a reflection of our culture? South Asian culture preaches non-confrontation, indirect speech, and everything unrealistically polite, so do we end up using passive voice to avoid sounding aggressive and/or awkward? Call it postulation, but I could not think of any other reason.

Any thoughts? I’d be interested!

Copyright © 06.07.2007

Monday, June 4, 2007

I Hate Tumors! I hope you do too!

This past Sunday evening few friends had organized a soiree - launch party of their new website. For people who are well-versed with my life, your guess of what the launch was about, would be: literati meet, or a desi convention (music/books) or just an evening in a convivial atmosphere with my coterie and a glass of white wine. Never in a million years could you have guessed what it really was about. The website was launched in the memory of my friend's crony, Heather. Unfortunately, about a year and half ago, Heather died of cervical cancer at a young age of 28.

One of Heather’s friends wrote her a poem, around the time the final verdict came in from the doctor; Heather had three days left to say adieu. The emotions in the poem were so raw and unfeigned and she had such a pellucid way of writing; I didn’t snivel, but sobbed incessantly. Heather’s death made me realize that sufferers are of two kinds: the ones who deal with physical agony (patient) and the remaining lot who deal with life’s tribulations (people who are left behind mourning their dear ones).

I don't intend to make this post morbid, but it's time women took matter in their own hands. Let’s get proactive and not reactive. Most women pay no or minimal heed to their own health until it's too late; there are few others who either live in a bubble of denial and/ or live with an ‘I am immortal’ attitude. Well, it’s time for reality check. Do you know that cervical cancer is the major cause of cancer deaths in women in many developing countries? Cervical cancer is caused by several types of a virus called human papillomaviruses (HPV). HPV does not see age, color, or race; it corrodes the foundation of your life.

This post is not a scare tactic. I beseech every woman out there to make an appointment with her doctor today. Get tested ladies. Men, if you share even the remotest concern about the health and well-being of your mother, wife, daughter, sister, or even a friend, please spread the word. Tumors can kill and cervical cancer is not the most easily detectable one.

In case you are wondering, I do not represent any politically-inclined interest groups; I hope this post will snap you out of your inertia and persuade you to make the call. It’s in your hands.

Copyright © 06.04.2007

Gandhi: "Live as if you'll die tomorrow; learn as if you'll live forever."

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Your smile drives me crazy – no pun intended

Okay, this post might come across as a brusque piece to few, but I am confident that there are people out there who will get where I am coming from. So, here goes. Last weekend being a holiday weekend, we decided to pay homage to our ‘Memorial Day Mecca’ or as rest of America calls it, New England. The place is enigmatic – land of retail therapy, saporous food, and locals with benevolent attitude. The purlieu turned me into a swashbuckler. So, here I was soaking in the goodness of New England and that is when the inevitable happened - I got the idea for my next blog.

I was standing in queue at Starbucks to purchase their summer launch – Dulce De Leche. So, this lady behind the counter who seemed very effusive – more like a combination of garrulous and exuberant, asked me what I wanted. Here I was, trying to luxuriate in the aura of ‘good customer service’, when this angry man with gallons of milk, entered the store. My guess is that he was the supplier’s chum. So, this verbally-challenged -endowed -with –body- odor- insolent- person lashed his fury at this timid creature behind the cash counter. How did she respond – she continued to be punctilious and chirpy. Soon after that, she lugged in a bag of ice, which seemed to be double her weight; yet, she almost gave out a 'welcome cheer'.

Her behavior struck me as odd. Maybe I am an eccentric and the ‘I don’t care New York attitude’ has rubbed off a little too much on me, but all I wanted to say to her was “Miss, you need to lay off the Prozac and wipe off the perpetual smile”! Being cordial, jubilant, and amiable is one thing; being incessantly perky even when someone slaps you, to me is scary.

I wonder when a polite smile seems to morph into a creepy one. What is the threshold for it? Any thoughts?

Copyright © 05.31.2007

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Multi-tasking vs. Juggling - Ambiguous Difference or Crystal Clear

Couple of weeks ago, someone I like to think of as a mentor, very nonchalantly called me a ‘Superwoman’ and an epitome of ‘juggling’. Well, to be fair, the person is really au fait with my lifestyle. Coincidentally, a few weeks ago, New York Times published an article that discussed the nuances & menace of multi-tasking. I agree with the article; however, I think people confuse multi-tasking with juggling and often times base their opinions inaccurately. For instance, watching the morning news on TV while reading the newspaper & at the same time trying to indulge in breakfast while answering your emails on BlackBerry, qualifies for multi-tasking. I am not arguing for it as I agree that the quality of result/ outcome, out of multi-tasking, is questionable. These people arrive at the precipice of exhaustion rather early in their lives. There is evidence from MRI’s to show that the brain is not equipped to focus on more than one task at a time. If forced to multi-task, there is a neural bottleneck, and everything takes just a little bit longer.

Juggling on the other hand is the ability to partake in multifarious chores within a span of time BUT you handle them one-by-one. The main difference between a multi - tasker and a juggler is in the method of work. They are both like prestidigitators - handle multitudinous activities BUT the former indulges in all the tasks at the same time while the latter handles one task at a time.

What is the quality of outcome from juggling? Well, I am a juggler so I may not be the best person to answer this question – I definitely have a biased opinion. What I do know is that we live in a day and age where juggling does not seem like an alternative. With the plethora of choices & myriad of opportunities out there, it is hard to avert your face and live in a 'bubble of denial'.

I do not know many people from my generation who are not neither multi-taskers nor jugglers. It seems like it is incumbent upon people to be one way or the other.

Copyright © 05.24.2007

“Ambition is the germ from which all growth of nobleness proceeds” - Oscar Wilde

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Quest for words – courtesy of house guests

The past few days, I have been struggling to come up with a topic for my next post, but in vain. I know my creative juices flow the most when I have had an onerous week and I am effete. So why is that even with aching bones, I have been unable to think of what I should write about - a writer's block when I have been bestowed upon with insurmountable stress? That's when I had an epiphany - I might be physically enervated, but I am mentally relaxed, and that’s why words have ceased to pour onto a paper. So, I am sure you are wondering who is receiving the accolades for my ‘temporary nirvana’. Well, it's my house guests, my aunt and uncle, who are the reason for my ephemeral writing inability. Before you declare that my cynic side is working up another barmy or pessimistic piece, I'd like to declare otherwise.

Let me walk you through the background of my thoughts. You know, the mere mention of a 'house guest' brings out skeptical feelings in all of us. I am not saying people loathe them. In fact, I for one cherish company BUT what I am trying to arrive is at haven't we have all had those discourteous, abominable, patronizing, over-demanding, and fastidious humans, who aren't a pleasure but more like a liability - the kind who believe they should be treated like royalty? I have had a few of those, who given the opportunity, would like for you to shower them with rose petals - well, maybe I exaggerate but you get the essence. Ironically, these are the people who bring out the flavor of literati in me - free-flowing words. A few tumultuous days with them and I can literally type up a book.

Historically speaking, all the great writers/artists have had a tragic life – one deprived of friends and family. It is heartbreaking that great company does not yield results for a writer while bad company leads to profuse flow of words. You want to give a standing ovation to the former and biffs to the latter or as Benjamin Franklin would say, “Fish and visitors smell in three days.” I wonder if inspiration comes clad in anger and frustration.

Here is what I propose: some discerning individual should conduct research to expound the impact house guests have on a writer's writing abilities.

Copyright © 05.20.2007

“If it were not for guests all houses would be graves” ~Kahlil Gibran

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bush confesses – “Oops I did it again!”

President George Bush’s blooper (yet again) has me thinking or rather, my conviction seems reiterated - with time and money, the hoi polloi can gain fame, name, and power, but I believe class is not something even a pedagogue can teach you. For those of you wondering what the brouhaha is about, well, during a speech to welcome the Queen of England in Washington, DC on the final leg of her six-day visit to the US, President Bush misread his speech and said "You helped our nation celebrate its bicentennial in 17... 1976" and then joked by saying the Queen had given him "a look that only a mother could give a child".

This is not an insidious effort at reveling in Bush’s bloopers but an attempt at proving my point. I believe class is synonymous with having that sanctimonious attitude where you think you are better than others are – not really in a “You plebeian, I am better than thou,” but with a subtle hint of arrogance combined with the knowledge of being a patrician. They are not necessarily intelligentsia or hobnob with royalty all the time, but when they stride down a hallway, heads turn and jaws drop; not in a boorish way, but more like “Wow!”

The nouveau riche have all the power and money, but often continue to be ostentatious and bourgeoisie in their approach. It is because you cannot inculcate class into someone. You are born either with it or in it - thanks to your genealogy.

Copyright © 05.10.2007

“Really, if the lower orders don't set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them? They seem, as a class, to have absolutely no sense of moral responsibility.” – Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Hug – can it conjure a miracle?

I am sure we all have days where you feel your world has come crumbling down – almost like depression and tears have cast an ominous shadow and all you have, is a ghoulish and questionable sense of existence. The day-to-day activities appear cumbersome: commuters in the subway sound ornery, coworkers appear formidable, you feel slothful, and every passerby on the street makes your spine shrivel. In all earnestness, the day seems much worse than it actually is and hence the use of all the ‘negative’ adjectives.

At the end of such a tumultuous day, what happens when you run into a familiar face at an unexpected time? That affable face gives you a hug, which makes you feel rest assured – like all your problems will melt away into an unknown place. It makes you euphoric. It happened to me twice over the last two weeks; I was at that moment of “I can’t take this anymore,” and I had a fortuitous encounter with my amiga. The exhilaration I felt, was ineffable.

Has that ever happened to you? I am curious if there are any people out there who have felt the magical powers of an amiable embrace.

Copyright © 05.08.2007

“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go” – Oscar Wilde

Friday, May 4, 2007

Chemise – Haute couture or mucho macho?

This post was beseeched by a friend, who has single-handedly come up with an alluring hypothesis; 'shirt-wearing-women' coerce their spouses to wander down the abhorrent path of infidelity. In case you are wondering, neither have I misrepresented any of her convictions nor does the word 'shirt' have an underlying enigmatic meaning.

The muse for this post, who is neither cagey nor expedient, strongly believes that men find it incumbent upon themselves to indulge in the game of 'hide & seek', if their spouses wear 'shirts'. Before you denounce this as crazy, let me elaborate on this proposed research topic. She thinks that shirts make women look rather unsightly, manly, and not chic; shirts don’t quite resonate with muliebrity.

Do shirt-wearing women breed perfidious spouses? Is ‘shirt’ a manly garb in a man’s world? I’d be curious to find out what others think. Which of the three quotes can you relate to?

People seldom notice old clothes if you wear a big smile. ~Lee Mildon
A dress that zips up the back will bring a husband and wife together. ~James H. Boren
I base most of my fashion sense on what doesn't itch. ~Gilda Radner

Copyright © 05.04.2007

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Scoot people! Obnoxious person in the house!

It wasn’t just the exasperating train ride this morning, but today’s post is an augmentation of frustration accumulated over years. I guess, the pressure peaked today and voila - Pandora's Box has opened ….

Let me ask you this – have you been in that incommodious position on the subway/bus where this asinine person sitting right next to you assumes that you are a part of the public fixture, as in 'seat'? This apathetic audience rests half their body weight on you and blatantly ignores a polite excusez-moi. What you are left with, is few inches of microscopic space to accommodate yourself and not to forget, a stranger’s body weight encroached upon every inch of your existence.

I for one, have had enough. I feel it's time either these churlish, imperceptive, undignified people pay for two seats or else the rest of the civilized world get a hefty discount for our tickets. I mean, since I sit on one-quarter of the seat, I may as well pay for 1/4th of the ticket. The uncouth lot might call this unfair but hey, c'est la vie.

I know Southwest airlines came up with this brilliant concept where people beyond a ‘certain weight limit’ needed to purchase two tickets; I think it's time every public transport implemented that rule, BUT here is the difference - It shouldn’t be targeted at portly people. To annihilate this issue, this Draconian rule should be directed at just about anyone who is ill-mannered and lacks the power to comprehend a basic concept – ‘a stranger’s limb' is NOT symbolic or reminiscent of 'rest areas’ on the highway. There is no apology or remorse from these people but before you know, you feel like a hapless animal deprived of any sensation awaiting coup de grâce.

I know most of us are beleaguered by these nincompoops. Any thoughts? Do you think any action should be taken against such imbeciles because as Oscar Wilde would say “ I sometimes think that God, in creating man, overestimated his ability.”

Copyright © 05.03.2007

Friday, April 27, 2007

Hullabaloo in the ‘Land of Kamasutra’

I am chagrined at the insolent and gauche attitude of few Indians towards this whole Shilpa Shetty- Richard Gere incident – they have turned it into opprobrium. Okay, this will not be like dulcet to the ears, so before I spurt out the fiery fury that has been building up over the last few days, let me just say one thing - I am very proud of where I come from and am besotted with India's accomplishments. I adore our numerous traditions and appreciate our heritage and culture BUT I loathe the hypocrisy associated with the same.

I tend to digress, so I will try to keep this post focused on the latest scandal - Shilpa Shetty & Richard Gere. I am a little addled with the so-called controversy. Most actors in Bollywood bare their skin at the bat of an eyelid and most Hindi movies these days qualify in the ‘R’ category. Seriously, so what is all the brouhaha about Shetty and Gere? Was it really a faux pas? It is not as if Gere assaulted Shetty neither was she like a deer caught in the headlights. If Shetty did not feel violated then why are these sanctimonious politicians exhibiting such barbaric emotions? Have they completely sworn off savoir-fare?

'Kamasutra' was India’s gift to the world! In addition, don’t we have the highest number of AIDS victims? So, where do these imbeciles get off preaching others? C'mon, a court in Jaipur has threatened to put Gere behind bars for three months because he inaptly indulged in 'the deed'. Do these people ever hear themselves speak? These two-faced perverts stand in pugnacious lines to purchase movie tickets for revolting films with despicable scenes and ribald language. Now they have the audacity to create ruckus over a ‘peck on the cheek’.

Is the Indian audience upset because a foreigner instead of an Indian man conducted ‘the act’? If that is the truth, do I sense a hint of racism?

Any thoughts?

Copyright © 04.27.2007

“The great law of culture is: let each become all that he was created capable of being.” - Thomas Carlyle

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Cul-de-sac - homemakers vs. working women

Ever since I was a little girl, I remember sensing this 'hiss-line' between the following two groups: homemakers and working class women. The former flaunting their fake, blithesome, and sanctimonious attitude - for nourishing the family with their presence, while the latter, seeking global blarney for juggling a tumultuous life. Both homemakers and women with jobs or careers find their adversaries (in this case, women who do not belong to their belief system) blasphemous and feel impelled to blacklist them. Given the apposite opportunity, I can visualize them bivouacking outside their antagonist and denouncing them until they convert. Okay, maybe that was pure exaggeration, but you get the essence.

My friend's sister, who is a doctor by profession, decided to get back to work even before her three-month maternity leave got over. Oh boy, the 'public anguish' she faced was loathsome – like she was a boorish mother with no care for her children. Pfft! At the same time, I know a few stay-at-home moms whose kids are like couch potatoes on a baneful diet.

Few of my cliques are stay-at- home moms BUT their brains are lot more agile than few dim-witted, strident working- women I know. Despite having successful careers, the minute these ludicrous women open their mouth, you wish tsetse flies would bite them so that they would halt choking on their own achievements. The homemakers I am referring to are avant - garde, avid readers, and more adept than most working- women are. You can engage in an intellectual conversation with them without either parties feeling threatened about their choice of lifestyle – like an ethereal world.

What I am trying to sum up is, to each is his own. Having a job or career does not make anyone ingenious; neither does baking chocolate chip cookies and Lysol -scrubbing make you a more devout wife or mom. These self-indulgent, territorial women do not see that no one benefits from their squabble; with their imbecilic attitude, they make mockery of themselves. I say, make a choice, adhere to it, and let it be or as the French say - laissez-faire.

Copyright © 04.26.2007

"In all matters of opinion, our adversaries are insane." – Oscar Wilde

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Yo Shakespeare, what up dawg?

Before you cogitate that I have gone crazy and denounce me as a literature-hater and deranged person, let me elucidate the title for this post. Few nights ago, we watched a play – "The Complete Works of W.M. Shakespeare (Abridged)", with some of our friends. The play was stupendous with an eminent cast who ensured 90-minutes of contemporary incessant fun, cachinnation, and satire. The audience in the theatre was literally falling off their seats – thanks to the rib-tickling humor. It was an alluring way in which the cast had enacted all of Shakespeare’s works in just 90 minutes. For example, to narrate Othello, they did a rap number where as Macbeth involved the cast dressed as Scottish men.

Can you imagine if Shakespeare used the above-mentioned title as opposed to ‘where art thou,’ in his works? Maybe, the literary circle will construe this as insolent behavior, but our young masses might actually be able to empathize with the great playwright’s writings. How many people (I am referring to the hoi polloi, and not gurus who have studied Shakespeare or theatre in college and can soak up the arcane writings) managed to comprehend Shakespeare’s literary contributions, when they were in high school? I remember being in a comatose stage once while watching the bard’s works in London at the Globe, and this, is when I am an ardent admirer of Shakespeare’s work.

All of his plays, ranging from “Julius Caesar” to “Romeo & Juliet”, though eloquent, are arduous to assimilate for that particular age group. To the younger generation, the greatest writer of the English language and his contribution seem archaic. My friends and I feel that we fully understood Shakespeare’s work eons after graduating high school. Renouncing Shakespeare’s work is not what I am suggesting; improvising them with humor, is what I am - adding a contemporary feel to his works, so that they become congruous with the changing times.

I do not want Shakespeare to turn in his grave, but I think he would appreciate it if the readership of his books aggrandized. Can you conjure up a world where teenagers, out of choice, immersed themselves in Shakespeare’s work? Well, to me, it seems attainable!

Copyright © 04.19.2007

"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so" - Shakespeare

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Decimation – Will it ever stop without stricter gun control laws?

The carnage of 32 innocent victims, on Virginia Tech campus, on Monday, April 16, has left people feeling distraught and vulnerable. Everyone has disparate ideas, conjecture, and interpretations of the deplorable act. Teenagers and parents are skeptical whether the campus is an inviolable sanctuary anymore. Can you blame them?

Most people I spoke with seemed to be astounded with the ethnicity of the killer. “I didn’t think an Asian kid would ever do this. It’s not in their culture”. Another went on to say, “I heard the ratio of Japanese young adults committing suicide, is very high. Maybe it’s that factor.” Newsflash: The killer was of South Korean descent, and not Japanese. Let us not dwell on stereotypes and racism when the issue is more deep-rooted than that.

This might sound like harangue, but here is what I surmise: The root of the problem is ‘lack of stricter gun regulations’ in America. A teenager or someone in his or her early twenties does not have the maturity to channelize acrimony or disgruntlement. At that tender age, you are inept at differentiating between right or wrong. When you snap, you get consumed in the moment, and that is when calamity strikes – Cho Seung-Hui’s are born.

Has the government not learnt anything from the Columbine annihilation in Colorado? It always boils down to the dispute between gun control vs. gun rights. Will the death rates go down if we had stricter regulations? Well, here is food for your thought: Amongst all industrialized nations, United States has the highest number of gun-related deaths. Being a world leader in this category is appalling and disconcerting!

I am attaching a link to an article in The Economist.

Copyright © 04.18.2007

“The Americans are certainly great hero-worshipers, and always take their heroes from the criminal classes” - Oscar Wilde

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Bowling – does it bring out the ape inside you?

Okay, so last night we feted a friend’s birthday at a bowling alley! I am sure you are wondering ‘gee, it’s not like you went to the moon’. Hold your satire, sire because I had the first-hand opportunity of seeing humans dilapidate – man to ape. Showing mental acquisitiveness to learn about your ancestors is astute; however, exhibiting the same rawness in your comportment that marked the ice age, is benightedness. Here is what I saw: people devoured onto buffalo wings and chicken tenders, then semi-wiped their hands on their derriere, and nonchalantly stood up to bowl. Oh, the humanity!

The next few lines might sound like vicious rambling, but I have to blurt it out or else I will choke. Here goes: God, I hate bowling alleys! What is the big deal about wearing someone's feculent shoes and bedaubing food on huge multi-colored begrimed bowling balls? I am not trying to be a snob, but I think bowling is an unsanitary sport. It brings out the barbaric side in all of us – back to crude basics.

Well, I survived the evening with 'I am having a great time' smile on my face right so that no one could suspect the emotional turmoil I was going through. Honestly, even a hot shower on reaching home could not take-away the dirty feeling – like someone had desecrated the shrine.

Copyright © 04.14.2007

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Is contestant #6 on American idol worthy of page #3?

The muse for this post is a very dear friend of mine. Neither she nor I are American Idol fans, but the publicity that Sanjaya Malarkar, the American idol contestant has generated, has astounded both of us. There is dissidence between the audiences: there are Sanjaya-lovers and Sanjaya-haters. Depending on the side you are on, he comes across either resplendent or appalling. Moreover, American Idol Executive Producer Nigel Lythgoe has turned the name of the singer into an aberrant verb – “Sanjayaed”. What does this abysmal addition to the English language mean?

Well, gramercy to my compeer and the mammoth of brouhaha generated by the media, I decided to check out this polemical artist’s performance. I was not audacious enough to watch the show, but I did take a sneak peak at few of his YouTube clips. Hmmmm. What can I say? The one thing Sanjaya is good at, is taking all the insults like a brave heart. He definitely has a sweet smile and congenial personality but when it comes to singing, he is inept - as if the doors of hell unleashed their fury. I heard him sing one of my favorite songs – ‘Ain’t no mountain high enough’ and boy, did he ruin it! I am unsure what he is still doing on the show. Another thing, someone needs to tell him that the 80’s are gone – hair morphing is outdated and will not take-away the attention from his odious performance.

Okay, on the serious side, here is what is happening: American Idol contestants are on the verge of a revolt, American Idol judge Simon Cowell has threatened to quit the Idol should Sanjaya win, and Sirius satellite radio jock Howard Stern said he hopes to turn American Idol into a farce and eventually destroy its popularity by supporting Sanjaya Malakar.

Is Sanjaya a mere pawn in the hands of Howard Stern and Simon Cowell? Is it a power struggle between the two men? Do people, who want to vote him off, make the invidious remarks as a sign of racism? Has Sanjaya won not only teenage votes but also mommy-votes?

I am perplexed! Any thoughts? Check out these YouTube clips to help you make your decision…

Copyright © 04.12.2007

Monday, April 9, 2007

Arguments – Exchange of words or heated exchange

I have been inculpated of being politically correct. Let me elaborate and foray into this accusation. Few of my friends feel that when a heated debate is going on, or as I like to call it - a shouting-match in which the loudest prevails, I do not embroil. I am tempted to quote Oscar Wilde “I dislike arguments of any kind. They are always vulgar and often convincing,” but that is not entirely true in my case - the convincing bit in the quote. If you cogitate, with a cool head, you’ll realize that verbal arguments among people consistently devolve into vitriol. Plus, is it fair to altercate for the sake of it? I haven’t relinquished arguing but I’d rather indulge in it when it’s not a quest between people to prove the other party wrong. Call it my recrimination, but I am yet to see humans spar without malice in their attitude and use of condescending tone. Maybe I do not partake in arguing because I do not see the point of hurting people, even if unconsciously, or stifling them with my opinions. I’d like to think of it as a sign of prudence, and not weakness.

Any thoughts?

Copyright © 04.09.2007

“Arguments are extremely vulgar, for everyone in good society holds exactly the same opinion.” - Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Chubby Tubby - Cute or an epidemic?

This article in today’s New York Times discusses the epidemic of corpulence and the plans of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to spend more than $500 million over the next five years to reverse the increase in childhood obesity.

This article got me thinking if we adults are the biggest contributors to childhood obesity. People have busy lifestyles so a quick fix of junk food has heinously replaced freshly cooked meals, in innumerable homes. You are what you eat! To exacerbate circumstances, ever since the advent of television and videogames, there has been a remarkable alleviation in the physical activity children partake. Forget calisthenics; what happened to the good old days of movement and motion when kids around the block would just play together? Be it unsafe neighborhoods or lack of time, for few parents, letting the kids watch TV or a videogame is an easy way out. While watching TV, very often, kids devour food high in sugar, trans fat, sodium, and other deleterious additives. Lack of activity, imprudent habit of appeasing palates with self-indulgent fatty foods, minimal interaction with other kids and voila, what do we have - a portly, introvert, angry kid looking at few hours of therapy by the time she/he is in college.

I know there has been clamor over how companies (like McDonalds, Burger King, and Taco Bell etc.) should not be directing their ads towards children and people accuse the idiot box for this soaring epidemic. Maybe I sound harsh but I think it is time we took onus upon ourselves. These are marketers and this is what they do. Parents need to get over their guilt of not spending enough time with children and stop fulfilling every desire, however asinine. If you abstain from junk food & eat healthy, your children will eat healthy. They would not know otherwise.

Indulging in sinful fare occasionally is a fine treat, BUT eating healthy every once in a while means you are adding to the growing epidemic of portliness. To annihilate this issue, parents need to take matters in their own hands. I’ll leave you on this note - according to Census Bureau data and a 2006 study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, 25 million children 17 and under are obese or overweight, nearly a third of the 74 million in that age group.

Copyright © 04.04.2007

"I hate people who are not serious about their meals." - Oscar Wilde

Friday, March 30, 2007

The world of cricket widows

My friends and family have been reiterating that I need to write a comprehensibly articulated humorous piece - enough with the brain-ticklers and thought-provokers. Well folks, here is attempt at a ‘funny piece’- not fall- of- the- futon – while- giggling- funny, but funny with a tinge of irony in it.

Until two weeks ago, almost every Indian woman had lost her husband, father, brother, boyfriend to cricket. The World Cup fever had consumed the nation with the same intensity as had plague, in the past. The cricketers were placed on a pedestal and worshipped to. After all, in India, ‘cricketliness in many ways is next to godliness’.

Call it my abominable sense of humor, but I crack up at the thought of the ‘depression wave’ that has swept across the Indian diaspora and desis in India. Thanks to the Indian cricket team’s abysmal performance at the World Cup, despair has hit Indians worldwide in a capricious sort of way. The current emotional status of most Indian men is ambiguous and borderline unpleasant. The same cricket-loving nation is now burning effigies of the Indian team and sending ludicrous text messages.

What baffles me is the team’s perceived indifference and repugnant behavior; they have exhibited no sign of remorse. I personally think their attitude is deplorable. They are content with the moolah they make from endorsements in any case. I am sure you have aware that Total Multimedia Limited and Virgin Comics are creating a new comic book and animation character based on superstar cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar.

Maybe I don’t understand the love, devotion, and faith most Indians put in the Indian cricket team. One thing I do understand and believe is that it’s time we stopped treating them like the almighty.

Copyright © 03.30.2007

"I never play cricket. It requires one to assume such indecent postures" - Oscar Wilde

Sunday, March 25, 2007


This article in NY Times talks about how capybara, reputed to be the world’s largest rodent, is a delicacy in Venezuela. I know what you are thinking – rodent and delicacy said in the same sentence; does not sound very bon bouche. I have been of the same school of thought, up until I read this write-up. It got me thinking; what will we stop at?

My brother and few of my friends proudly proclaim – ‘Sure I like animals, but dead, on my plate.’ I don’t think advocates for PETA would be blithe to hear that; these meat-lovers use such fervent statements as an expression of their love towards non-vegetarian meal. To them, this is ambrosia.

I am not being sanctimonious; I indulge in meat eating as well. However, I think of myself as more of a ‘persnickety chickentarian’. Having said that, the thought of people indulging in dog or horse meat does gross me out. I remember saying to a friend, ‘how can people eat dogs? They are so cute!’ Her response was, ‘if you eat one animal, you might as well eat all.’ She does have a point.

We all have a self-defined ‘gross factor’, that determines the kind of animals you eat, and the ones you do not. What we don’t realize is that a delicacy in one country is a pet in another. So, where do we stop? Who defines what is okay to eat? I am not proposing or disposing vegetarianism. I am confused about where and when we draw the line.

Copyright © 03.25.2007

"After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives." - Oscar Wilde

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Namesake

The buzzword these days is "The Namesake" – the novel written by Jhumpa Lahiri which is now a movie, directed by Mira Nair. The book/movie captures the perspicuous nuances of being caught between two different cultural experiences. In my opinion, the movie in itself was a work of art. Few poignant scenes hit those emotional chords on a level where you never thought they would; my vulnerability left me abashed in the theatre.

Having said that, I am in a quandary. Okay, so how is this concept of the book/movie new? The success of the movie seems like a paradox in some way. I have lost count of the number of books and movies written/made on immigrant experience and their struggle to create a fine blend of east in west.

Don't get me wrong; I have a lot of admiration for these women. I went to the meet of the South Asian literati where both these eminent ladies shared their side of "The Namesake": writing and movie making. Jhumpa Lahiri's remarkable acumen to details is worth applauding. She is precocious and an adroit writer. Not to forget, Mira Nair lit the room with her piquant wit; people were in splits. What added the icing on the cake was Jhumpa Lahiri's educational background - she is a Columbia graduate who lives in Brooklyn. Boy, it couldn't get any better than that for me. However, none of this explains the astonishing success of the movie.

I have been talking to a friend about how the salient success of "The Namesake" reminds me of a book I read by Malcolm Gladwell – "The Tipping Point". According to Mr. Gladwell, major changes occur when things reach a "tipping point" (or "the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point"). I am sure there is an explanation for why, what, who, or when caused the ineffable triumph of "The Namesake", over other books/movies from the same genre. The answer to this question would make sense to my world. I hope some one is carrying out this research as I'd be intrigued to find out.

Copyright © 03.22.2007

"If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all" - Oscar Wilde

Saturday, March 17, 2007


I believe, all of us humans have had this thought at some point of time or the other – ‘I wouldn’t see it in my lifetime’. You know, I have to admit; there are two things, which I NEVER thought of seeing in my life span – global warming and the moral corruption of the Indian society.

Well, it is mid-March and up until two days ago, I was basking in the glorious spring sun; today, I am snowed in. If this isn’t the effect of global warming, what is?

Now on to the ‘main topic’ for this blog. The other day, I called up a friend of mine, who is visiting family & friends in India. My world came crashing down after listening to what she had to say.

According to her, the morals and culture of the Indian society are atrophying. The bourgeois is striving to lead a bohemian life. That is not it! Our own classmate turned out to be perfidious. Someone I have known for a decade committed the heinous act of infidelity.

If you speak with people from my parent’s generation, they blame it all on the western world. Is that the gospel truth? I highly doubt it!

Any thoughts?

Copyright © 03.17.2007

"Discomfort guides my tongue and bids me speak of nothing but despair." - The Tragedy of King Richard the Second

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Beauty fades . . . dumb is forever - Judge Judy

The muse for this post is the interesting range of responses I received on my last beauty related post - 'beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder'. That blog led to genesis of an informal tete a tete club with my girlfriends, and hence the creation of the sequel – kind of an epilogue.

The chitchat with my cronies revealed something alluring. Most of these women grew up with a strong, defined notion of beauty and brains. For the longest time, they looked down upon grooming and saw it as a reflection of vanity. They felt ‘grooming’ was for women who lacked intellectual abilities - ignoramuses.

Having said that, the same group now defines grooming, as 'taking care of oneself'. Most women I have discussed this with, say the same apologue; it was at that one point in their life that they discerned that it was high time. Funnily enough, most of them started feeling that way in their mid to late twenties. It was as if they had an epiphany.

Today, they think that a visit to the spa or having immaculate nails is incumbent upon them. I guess I am one of them too as I spent my last Saturday at one of my favorite spas, luxuriating in a temporary decadent and opulent life.

Do not get me wrong; these are all very smart women who DO NOT take advantage of their femme fatale to get ahead in life. In addition, none of them is an aging prune either.

What bewilders me is the cause for this conversion - who, what, when, and why transfigured the existing ideologies of all these women?

Copyright © 03.15.2007

I'd be interested in your comments and thoughts!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

White House Black Market

Like most women, I am borderline implacable when it comes to clothes and accessories; after all clothes make a (wo) man. In today’s world, retailers ‘like to’ portray this image of being customer-centric. Well, how many stores have you been to where they do not renege about ‘the customer is right’? It is all about the moolah and the customer is just a number.

A friend of mine introduced me to this store called ‘White House Black Market’. I have to admit, I found the name rather alluring and that was one of the reasons (the other was recommendation coming from a friend who’s taste I appreciate) I decided to check it out.

White House Black Market, true to its name, carries only clothes and accessories in black and white color. My first trip to the store, I felt like a child cavorting in the woods. The store is drop-dead gorgeous; the fitting room area is prodigious. It is reminiscent of the Victorian era, adorned with just the right blend of contemporary and traditional style.

I laude them for one major reason - their customer service, which is impeccable. I have never met such cordial and non-pushy sales people; they make you feel special. It is the only store, I know of, where everything is about ‘you’. For people residing in urban areas, this might sound like a non-existent concept.

The store organizes a soiree, which they call the ‘girls’ night out’ – a not to be missed event, a special discount for the ladies and free-flowing wine. Now, that is what I call splendid. Ladies, next time when you want to indulge in self-pampering, check out this store.

Copyright © 03.13.2007

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Jekyll or Hyde?

The last few days have been like a riveting journey. Coincidentally, three friends, in less than a span of four days, told me the exact same thing - my ‘writer personality’ has a caliginous side, which they find mysterious, grave, and unnerving; on the other hand, my ‘social personality’ is frolicsome and affable. They find it hard to believe that the two personalities are just different facets in the same person.

To be honest, I did not cogitate about this aspect of my writing, until they mentioned it. I have always believed that all humans have two strikingly different sides to their personality - an amiable Jekyll and misanthropic Hyde. It ties back to the Freudian theory of ‘super ego’ and ‘id’ - the former a reflection of Jekyll in us, and the latter, an indication of Hyde.

What I am contemplating is the reason that brings out this hedonist or utilitarian in some people; does the pressure of evolution and political correctness compel us to camouflage? Is it true that when we get behind the mask of words, the veracity comes out? Can we give the power of words the entire accolade?

Any thoughts?

Copyright © 03.10.2007

“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” – Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

New York Minute or a Personality Type?

The one question people ask me most often is, ‘How do you manage it all’? For those of you wondering what the equivocal statement is about, here it goes – the circuitous words are a pericope of my over-committed life. In fact, many people I know have equally importunate lifestyles, where they successfully juggle several roles.

To give you a brief overview, this is what my last week was between Monday and Friday: work, school, two delightful dinners with friends, and drinks with two other friends on separate evenings. In addition, I went for a book reading session, a ‘girls’ night-out promotion’ at one of my favorite stores, and the ‘literary fest’ – monthly meeting of my book club. You know what, the list seems long, but I cannot fathom spending my week in a nicer way; to me, this was euphoria.

It is interesting because others find it hard to digest that I actually seek pleasure from multi-tasking. The ones, who share the same belief system as mine, could not agree more; but the ones who aspire for a more decadent or opulent life, cannot stop questioning it.The other day over dinner, a friend of mine said something simple yet important. “In NYC, if you do not do 15 things, you are a slacker.” People do not have the luxury of time to trudge through life with the rhythm of one-step at a time.

Do you think it is the essence of New York that makes people contend? Maybe it is the cornucopia of opportunities or is it a personality type? I, for one am certainly not Type A, but I luxuriate in precarious living via juggling a multitude of tasks.

Any thoughts?

Copyright © 03.06.2007

"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” – Oscar Wilde