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

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Flattery or mental stalking?

We all have that ‘special’ someone who we think of as a mentor and have an ardent desire to be like; it could be their style, audacious attitude, or just the demeanor in entirety, which impresses you. Honestly, how many men out there have not imitated ‘The Godfather’ - the ‘scratching of the beard,’ ‘the huskiness and gruffness in the voice’, and the ‘calmer than a starless night attitude even when there is a storm brewing up inside’. They all try to imitate the nonchalant attitude of Marlon Brando. Was it not Charles Coleb Colten who said that ‘Imitation is the best form of flattery’?

I think imitation can transcend generations and geographies. Thanks to Tom Cruise in Top Gun, the sales of RayBan glasses shot up. What about Carrie Bradshaw in ‘Sex and the City’? Other than being a fashionista, remember how she and her posse got the cocktail, ‘cosmopolitan,’ the much deserved fame.

Forget celebrities, most people knowingly or unknowingly imitate their peers. There are those who do not limit themselves to imitation; their affliction takes another form, which I like to define as ‘emulation’. They assiduously morph into a shadow, which never leaves you.

The difference between imitation and emulation is more in the concept and level of creepiness. The way I see it, ‘imitation’ means when you aspire to be ‘like’ that someone; emulation is when you want to be ‘that person’. A friend of mine commented on this ‘emulator’ we both know; to quote her ‘how sad is the existence of an emulator as they have nothing they can call their own; not even their aspirations.’

When does flattery change to mental stalking? How else would you define a person who turns out to be your perpetual shadow – striving to coexist in a space, which is not theirs? Maybe I am being harsh, but I think of emulators as bĂȘte noire.

Copyright © 03.04.2007

"Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation" - Oscar Wilde

Friday, March 2, 2007

Beauty ‘lies’ in the eyes of the beholder

Millions of women across the globe these days are seeking scientific intervention to fight aging; be it botox injections to drastic surgical procedures. We live in a vain and ostentatious world where beauty is not considered skin deep. The societal pressure to ‘look good,’ is spreading like plague. Several women I have spoken with blatantly told me ‘how you look determines what you get.’ Mind you, their philosophy is applicable to their day-to-day activities. According to them, right from the sommelier at a swanky French restaurant to the local grocer, treats them differently depending on how they look.

What I am struggling to discover is who defines the concept of ‘looking good’. Isn’t it an arbitrary term that can be construed differently? If you want to ‘look good’ to ‘feel good’ about your own self, then it’s a different thing; however, I think the problem is deeper rooted than that. I believe most women are putting themselves under the knife or injecting themselves with age-defying chemicals, to gain acceptance of their peers or men in their lives. To me, that sounds like an egregious blunder.

Honestly, what happened to aging with grace? Aren’t those wrinkles a reflection of your rich and fulfilled life? Is this flagrant violation of women’s rights, a sign of opulence, or gender apartheid?

Copyright © 03.02.2007

"Beauty is the only thing that time cannot harm" - Oscar Wilde