Thursday, May 22, 2008

My success is not a reflection on your shortcomings...

Last week was a celebratory week as few of my close friends finished their masters’ thesis and/or exam. I am so proud of each one of them for their commendable achievement. In fact, this has been a big week for my posse and me. We did it! Two years of sweat and blood, but we are all Ivy League graduates at the end of the day. All of a sudden, it all seems worth it. Believe me; we are all immensely proud of our achievements. It's not because of where we studied from but how we did it. The incessant juggling: school, work, family, friends, sleep deprivation and yet we managed to keep our sanity intact. My father said something precious over tea the other day: “Managing a full-time job & part-time school is equivalent to working two jobs.” I couldn’t agree with him more. So, here is to all the brave warriors—my friends and classmates - a champagne toast....

At one of the soirees, a friend asked me something that opened my Pandora’s Box. She wanted to know if I had encountered aloofness and apathy from any of my friends when I shared my “Thank God, I am done with my thesis and that too with grace and good grades.” I smiled and replied in the affirmative. The people I hadn’t necessarily expected from, were present with gusto when I accomplished this significant feat; the few people, who I thought would be there, somehow failed to recognize the relevance of the moment. To be candid, at that time it hurt. Not because I thrive on public accolade; but all of a sudden, I had to reevaluate and decipher the meaning of “friendship.” It's from chosen few that you expect unpretentious responses and when they don’t come through, it causes distress—even if momentarily.

For the first time, I wanted to avert my face from the heart-wrenching epiphany I had: some people are your friends ONLY till they are in a “better” position than you —physically, financially, and emotionally. Look at the irony of the situation: “better” is such a self-determined, over-hyped, relative word. These people are like soul mates when life ridicules you, but the minute you attain something they don’t have or view it as “better,” their paltry personalities come crumbling down.

An insight into what my friend encountered: Apparently, few of her friends showered callousness cum ennui when she told them about her graduation. One of them dodged the email by asking about her hair salon. Seriously? The ignoramus’s attitude annihilated my friend. She said, “My acquaintances understood the importance of it; people I call my friends pretended that it all never happened. It’s like my success reminded them of their inadequacies. Maybe I need new friends.”

Sadly but truly, I believe, every milestone in your life makes you revaluate life as you know it. I say this because a big part of our life is shaped by people in it and sometimes these narcissists get squeamish with your coup. I think I have managed to efface the event from my memory; however, viewing life through a pragmatic prism has changed me forever.

The revelation has led to reshuffling in my life. I am glad this incident happened; I am more cognizant of “who” matters. I am not disconcerted or agitated. If anything, I feel pity for all conceited souls. Can you imagine waking up every morning feeling so insecure and picayunish? What an excuse for a life. I shudder as I write.

More until next time.

Copyright © 05.22.2008

“What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.” -- Aristotle

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Reviving Hinduism - “Altar Boyz,” (an Off-Broadway Musical) Style

When I look around, I see that religions overall are dying--at least with my generation. Most of my Jewish friends don’t keep Kosher, Muslim friends find Ramadan cumbersome, Christian friends sleep through Sunday mass—thanks to the hangover from crazy Saturday night parties, and Hindu friends go to temple every now & then, but it’s for the Indian goodies available there—saves you the time from cooking a meal, right?

My generation’s approach to religion is reactive. We go to our respective places of worship to either pray for our deepest desires to come true, or to seek atonement, not literally but more to get rid of guilt. I am neither a fanatic nor an atheist, but the inconsequentialness towards religion does bother me. Why are youngsters today, including me, borderline apathetic towards religion?

I am Hindu and Hinduism is the only religion I know well enough to be able to comment on. Personally, I think Hinduism is an accommodating, logical, and truly accepting religion. I am not saying it because I am a Hindu, but it’s a religion based on ahimsa (non-violence), scientific logic, and tolerance. So, why does not it connect with my generation?

Here is what I think: Hindu pundits are the biggest reason why my generation is losing faith in Hinduism followed by our inability to relate to the irksome and sometimes unalterable customs. It is not just the religion that I can’t relate to; it’s the misinterpretation and distortion of it. Why should I have to wear a traditional Indian garb, read some holy text in an archaic language or patiently listen to someone else do it, sing songs that have a dreary tune, and then pay these supercilious pundits to reach out to God on my behalf? What makes them superior and more in tune with the almighty? How dare these masochists, fascists, and sexists misconstrue the religion to further their gains? With time, like everything, Hinduism has evolved as well, but only for the worse. We owe the corruption to these cozeners, the Hindu pundits.

My generation is mostly comprised of multi-taskers. I personally do not have the time to wake up every morning and spend 40 minutes on something that I am not convinced is right. I (my generation) doesn’t like rigid methods of reaching out to God. One should be able to pray as and when the desire is felt as God is omnipresent. Any moment could be the opportune moment. We don’t need a mediator to communicate with God.

These are my two cents on saving Hinduism: Last week, my husband and I watched “Altar Boyz,” an Off-Broadway musical. The crowd, including us, went hysterical swaying to the music and soaking in the wittiness. By the way, the Show, in a nutshell, was basically about reviving Christianity. The lyrics were humorous and sanguine without being revolting. Maybe, Hinduism needs that “zing”.

In the movie “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai,” there is a scene where a bunch of hippies plays the song “Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram” the complete modern way and in a funky tune---with guitar & drums. Until today, I hum that tune. What if Hindu texts and hymns were infused with the modern age raaga—pieces that touch the soul? Something one could listen to for fun and relate to? What if one could just shake a leg listening to the audio of a holy text instead of feeling pressurized to pay attention to some strange dude (pundit) on a power trip? What if I could follow my religion in my own way without being judged for doing so? I can see a lot of us part of being this reformed religion.

More until next time.

Copyright © 05.15.2008

“True religion is real living; living with all one's soul, with all one's goodness and righteousness.”Albert Einstein

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Is Kareena Kapoor a lean, mean, famished machine?

Whether or not you are an ardent follower of Bollywood news, you could not have escaped the saucy tales of Kareena’s inordinate weight loss. Indian media has gone berserk with its coverage too. Apparently, Kareena shed inconceivable number of pounds (we all know that she did indeed have a ton of them—ref: some of movies where she looks like a woman on “aloo paratha and lassi” diet ONLY) for her role in the movie “Tashan” by turning to yoga and vegetarianism. Ummm. Pardon my French but that’s a load of BS. My friends and I are yoga fanatics as well but hey, yoga doesn’t have that much of a tremendous effect. In one her interviews Kareena went on to say that she kept up with a “normal diet” to lose weight. “Normal diet”? It’s a description, which is ambiguous at best, because “normal” doesn’t have a meaning set in stone; it’s relative. If you have seen the movie or even the vehement promos, you’ll know what I am talking about. Don’t get me wrong; she looks sensuous & pulchritudinous but in an ANOREXIC – I –am-on-a-coffee-cigarette-diet-sort-of-way. She is just twiggy in the movie, not toned. If you look at Bipasha Basu or the possessed (my husband’s take on her) actress Esha Deol, you know they work out--serious hours of calorie burning in the gym. A look at Kareena Kapoor and you know she nonchalantly indulged in exiguous portions to morph into size 0. There are instances in the film where her true Indian blood shows—a hint of “toand” and remnants of chubbiness—instead of the six pack abs, there were six wrinkles of fat on her belly. If she did her sit ups instead of giving up food, her abdomen wouldn’t be flaunting those tires of prosperity also called as flab. I read somewhere that she was on an orange juice diet for three days before the song “chaliya, chaliya” was filmed and that she passed out right before the shot. My sister-in-law mentioned that she read on Rediff that Kareena was on an “apple-diet” for a month. The old saying is ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away;” in Kareena’s case, its “surviving on apples all day keeps the bulge away.”:-)

So, you are wondering what am I so up in my arms for if Kareena decides to bid adieu to esculent food. It’s Kareena’s body, her life, and her orange juice or apple or whatever fruit she devours. So what if she exudes gauntness, right? Well, think again. End of the day, Kareena Kapoor is one of Bollywood’s top actors, which translates to a key fact: She is a role model for a lot of Indian girls. These young adolescents aspire to be her and look like her. It is Kareena and every celebrity’s responsibility to be sensible in their actions as these young, impressionable minds do emulate them. Kareena’s detrimental method of choice for weight loss will only encourage her fans to follow suit. Do we need a generation of hoity-toity, unhealthy, anorexic, and ravenous kids?

I am all for eating healthy, exercising, and living right but weight loss by starvation to me is a reflection of the person’s inner strength or lack thereof. It’s a sign of indolence and weakness!

More until next time.

Copyright © 05.07.2008

"The three words women most want to hear from a man are, "You lost weight"." - Lori Gottlieb

Sunday, May 4, 2008

What do shoes and gossip have in common?

That's one loaded opening question, but it is something worth pondering over. The common factor: they both are the lifeline of women.

Scene 1: Up until a couple of evenings ago, I couldn't quite point out why I enjoyed watching "Gossip Girls"-- a saucy, tawdry drama on television. The drama has a certain je ne sais quoi that I find very intriguing. I am not the target audience as the show is about mollycoddled, insolent, affluent, Upper East Side teenagers – I officially don’t qualify for either of those categories. I have always wondered, “what, what, what is it about “Gossip Girls” that makes me diligently, every other week, take a sneak peak at episodes of this degenerate, amusing yet eccentric drama. I can’t relate to the lifestyle of these teenagers on the show or their god forbidden, vicious attitudes.” To be candid, I am so full of myself that I have never felt the need to vicariously live through anyone:-) So, what is that element of intoxication that has me spellbound to Gossip Girl? The answer always eluded me.

Scene 2: Sex & The City starring four desis

A few evenings ago, I had a fun and scintillating time confabulating with three of my vivacious friends. It was like the sets of “Sex & the City”—with four Indians as opposed to Sarah Jessica Parker and her coterie. It was one of those impromptu "let's grab a cup of coffee" things and before I realized, by the time we went our ways, it was close to 9p.m. We indulged in some light bantering and spicy chitchat. It’s about sisterhood of the babble club, so I won’t break the honor code and share what we chirped about. I have to say, even in the cacophony of the subway, all I thought was “wish we could have talked more.”

On the subway ride home, I had an epiphany. I finally realized why I enjoy watching “Gossip Girl” and what was in common between the drama on TV and the tête-à-tête with my friends. Well, its gossip--that common, enticing element. By gossip, I am not referring to malicious, impertinent, idle prattle; I am talking about utterly harmless conversations with an intense flavor of humor. Gossip can fulfill a woman’s innate desire to banter without causing any harm. After all, isn’t every action about the intent? Every woman thrives on gossip and the ones who sanctimoniously chastise it---well here is my suggestion: come out of the closet. The way men are genetically wired to revere cars; women are manufactured to venerate banter.

More until next time.

Copyright © 05.05.2008

"My own business always bores me to death; I prefer other people's." - Oscar Wilde