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.