Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Updates

I'm unemployed. I don't have money. I'm happy. I'm travelling with my family to temples and more temples to pray and pray that I get married. I'm sick of it. But it all makes for a great post. A post that I am too tired to post at the moment, but a post that I will write in 48 hours.

kthxbai.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Turning 26

I am now unemployed. No work. No deadlines. No more journalism. Ah well, it had to come to an end sometime. Right? Right. It had to.

I will get back to working in 2011. But until the end of 2010, I have every intention of not doing a damn thing with my time, except perhaps write. Bore you, my 30-odd readers, with the mundane details of my life. I only hope that there is something interesting to say these next few weeks. As of now, I'm chasing an interview(s). I just hope that the people that I am trying to contact revert with a yes.

However, I must tell you about how non-alcoholic my birthday was. I found it more than just a little strange that every person who saw my swaying and happy drunk self when I turned 25 popped up at the club on Friday where I was. Everyone. It was random and for some reason made me think of circles. As you are well aware, I don't like circles. One thing though, I'm very happy that I didn't have a gigantic hangover while going to Mahabalipuram in insanely humid weather the next morning with relatives and biryani.

Here's to the occasionaly bouts of sobriety. And I'm hoping that 2011 will indeed be the year when astrologers will stop telling me I should have been a boy!!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Deep feelings!

Because it’s my birthday, and this is my blog, and I’m an attention-whore, I want to share one happy birthday wish that my lovely friend Nina posted on my wall in Facebook – “To the sister i should have had, wishing you hotness in a man, coolings in a chilled glass of sex on the beach, a lifetimes supply of retail nirvana with a bank balance to match. Happy birthday shruts.” I love her to pieces. Truly. That’s why, five years later, I flew to Delhi to surprise the nonsense out of her.
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Do you see her? That one, with the yellow-framed glasses, yeah. That’s me. Blank expression on the face. Probably with my nose buried in a book. In all likelihood, having a very interesting mental conversation with self and smiling to self about it. Tons of people find that weird. I used to care deeply about what people thought about that. It bothered me that people thought it was weird. The trouble with caring deeply about people is that it fucks you over so bad, you’re not sure if you’re sitting up or flat on your back staring at the ceiling wondering how in the hell to tie that loop so you could hang, snap your neck and end it.

That’s me. Former mental train wreck. Grappled with that eternal teenage issue – no one gets me. For a while, I was listening to some heavy duty angst music and thought that was an outlet. It wasn’t. The lyrics were great, as were the instrumentals, however, they did nothing to deal with the absolute rage of being misunderstood. One fine morning, I had this fine epiphany – almost everyone has the same problem. Everyone’s thinking ‘shit I’m a weirdo, no one gets me, how the fuck do I deal with this’. Clubbing oneself with the rest of the world is extremely problematic. You begin to feel even more insignificant. The whole tiny-speck-in-the-gigantic-universe syndrome. So how does this existential conundrum resolve itself?

It’s something I think about constantly. I want to be the right kind of person. And that is exactly the point at which I stop. Me being the right kind is about the stupidest thing I can think of. I’m really good at giving these long, sincere spiels about being the right person, but, I personally, am not. It’s an effort, and maybe Mahatma Gandhi got it right. However, he did sleep on the same bed with two young women to fight, and overcome, his sexual desire (bothersome detail that). I don’t mean to trivialise his struggle or what he stands for in this country. But this happened even to him. This pain we all suffer with, of wanting to be right, is going to kill us or get us born as a leaf insect in the next life! I’m pretty sure of it.

That being said, it is impossible to think that everyone is going to get it right. You’d have to be a saint no? Or some level of saint to ‘be the right person’. It’s that thing we call dharma here. Following the righteous path. Landed the Pandavas in crucioland for all the good that did. I mean, even Rajni is awesome as a villain than as a hero, so ideally everyone should embrace their villainy no? (May seem like I am telling all the rapists and killers of the world to please go ahead and get to work. I’m not. This is for folks with little bit mental filtration system. People who want to put themselves through the reverse osmosis process can also apply!)

Next point of pondering. Villains always lose. The right ones have these Karan Johar type lives and live in this beautiful golden light forever after. Who wants to right? I know that I won’t last in that atmosphere for every long. My mind won’t let me. I’ll go completely insane if I do.

And this post, this exact post is why I hate the fucking rain. Plenty slush pits. Plenty clouds. Zero sunshine. No vitamin D and mood-uplifting rays. Just clouds, gloom, doom and philosophy. Not good. Not good. Some mofo in some part of the world romanticized this weather, I want to castrate him and serve his balls to him for post-death meals. It can rain over the reservoirs and over the rivers where the water is. But I do not want it raining in my street and flooding my roads. I can’t see what’s under all that water and I don’t like things I cannot see and therefore cannot perceive.

Humbug!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Names

LOCATION – Somewhere in Trivandrum, Kerala.

OCCASION – a cousin’s wedding.

SCENE – everyone’s dressed up. Everyone’s busy discussing the next wedding in the family. There’s obviously a lot of inappropriate commentary being directed at the unmarried girls. There’s a lot of loud laughter from the girl’s side of the family. The boy’s side thinks they’re a bunch of hoydens. Only women form representation for the girl’s side. The boys in the family are busy looking very busy. Introductions are being made all around. Especially the out-of-Trivandrum ones. One such conversation…

“Chinks*, meet Sudha. She’s my cousin.”

“Hi, Sudha… (long pause)”

“Hi mol…”

*we smile at each other and she walks away. I turn to my mother and ask*

“So, amma, how are you two related?”

“Well, she’s my cousin.”

“Ok, so what should I call her? Kunjama? Apachi? Valiama?”

“Not sure. Let’s see. She’s….”

And it went on. I stuck with Sudha aunty. Because it’s the safer option, until amma figured the relationship out! The last I met Sudha aunty was at my cousin’s wedding in July. We’re still figuring out what to call her.

The first time I ever saw Sudha aunty was in a 4X4 black and white picture. She’s sitting on my mother’s tricycle with this big grin on her face and my mother looking most morose. She and amma are a year apart in age. She grew up in Singapore and now lives in Trivandrum. She’s related to me twice over. Because, well, my grandparents are cousins. So, my mother is related to everyone in her family twice over. I’m related to my maternal family twice over! To make my life and memory retention an even more delightful place is designations. See, if you’re Indian – I can’t say Mal here because this is a common phenomenon in this country of mine – chances are that relatives on your maternal side have a different form of address from the relatives on your paternal side. There’s also names for the older relatives to consider.

I love the fact that my father’s side of the family is insanely huge. He has 8 siblings. I have 20 first cousins. My father’s parents also had many siblings. So on and so on!

I die. Slow, excruciating, nomenclature-filled death.

Sigh.

(*It's bad enough that I'm Chinku to my family. It's mental how Shruthi became Chinku. My mother's reason? "You were just a Chinku, so we called you that" uh, what?! Chinku is bad enough, my family's coolness compels it to make Chinku - chinks, chinka, chinkama. As stated above, I die. Slow, excruciatin, nomenclature-filled death.)

P.S: We don't say aunt sudha, unless we're Anglo-Indian. Sudha aunty. That's it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Siblings

(Before I get to today’s edition of Rant 101, Sh Pady style. I need to re-direct you good folk to a blog that I recommend. Nothing but Ficus. He’s an awesome writer and a good friend. I do hope that you drop in.)

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Here’s what bothers me about democracy – people get away with just about anything in the name of ‘the freedom of expression’. It just plain sucks. Take for instance this.

The last paragraph, with the bits about creepy things going on in the homes of ethnic minorities really got me. Even if the writer is being sarcastic, this shit cannot be sold in the name of social commentary. It is shit. It is racist. I don’t see how this stuff gets run on a medium as large as the internet. Where is editorial discretion? Who lets this shit pass? More importantly, why and how did it get passed.

I know of this website as a place where a lot of content is about issues like bullying (they hate the bully) and women’s issues. Most of it is dealt with well. They even made a big brouhaha about that Marie Claire article about fat people. I’m surprised that this one got published.

I guess I am a little annoyed that this post has been made on a forum that I follow and to some extent look up to. However, that doesn’t mean I have to be so biased that I will let this website become my touchstone for appropriate mass opinions. Sorry. I can’t able to do that ya!

As much as I’m all for saying my piece and telling the world to eff itself in the process, I do think that approach can be dangerous if it goes too far. On some level, we should all realise that a public forum has its share of responsibilities. Especially, if said forum deals with opinions. A follower of a website, any website, is a person who, to some degree, espouses their opinions. That being said, I don’t think I want to espouse this opinion. For one, I don’t see how this is even remotely sensible.

Siblings are bad? Really? – even if you don’t get along, at the very least you will have learnt how to deal with a person you don’t like, who is constantly in your vicinity. I honestly think that an only child is someone who will grow up to lack some very basic social interactions that big families bring with them. Too many siblings (my father has 8) might be a bit over the top, but one, or even two, is not that bad.

I know of friends who can’t really see eye to eye with their siblings. They get on with life. I know of friends who have siblings they absolutely love but are not overly coddling with them. I find it immensely annoying when almost every relationship has some degree of a sexual overtone attached to it thanks to some ‘study’ and some ‘expert opinion’. Freud, thanks a lot, buddy. I truly appreciate your immense contributions to helping deconstruct the true nature of human relationships.

Having a sibling has been, for me personally, a great experience. My brother and I grew up fighting with each other (I remember times when my mother sat somewhere in the house crying because she was convinced that Siddharth and I would never see eye-to-eye), kicking each other (WWE (nee F) had a lot to do with this) and constantly vowing that we’d never speak to the other again, ever. As we grew older, moved to the army quarters in Chennai and interacted with more kids, we grew to like each other better. My mother was a bit more peaceful when we were living apart from my grandparents and aunts and uncle. She had the time to establish the simple fact that she was the main authority in our family and Sid and I just had to deal with it. Complaining to my grandfather after my mother was giving us the cane was not going to cut it or have an impact for that matter. Not that it mattered, if we were being brats, the consensus was pretty uniform. After a big crying and complaining session, if I got a you're-a-brat-so-I-had-to-use-the-cane-but-I'm-crazy-about-you hugs, nothing could be wrong no? My mother was unflinchingly honest about the fact that Sid and I were annoying sometimes and needed to be disciplined so that we could understand that writing notes while in class is the right thing to do. Eidetic memories are not for everyone!

This article implies that ‘white’ adults with siblings are miserable and have issues. ‘Ethnic minority’ adults don’t have such issues, because some hallucinogen is involved. That hallucinogen, you lunatic, is called family. A unit you probably snort at when you watch a Disney movie and awe at when you watch The Godfather. However, if ‘space’ and suchlike is being given to children then they shouldn’t have ‘issues’ right? It makes me sick to sit and read through reams and reams of print devoted to the many ‘issues’ that children have these days. What issues? Why issues? These children live in developed countries where just about every system is in place. Ambulances reach on time, school education is free. There is a thing such as social security. They are documented citizens of their country. They have all that and yet they have issues. What do they need? Love? Free Hugs? Are these issues the reason why they leave their countries and come here as tourists to sit and exclaim over every stinky waterway and beggar and landscape and then proceed to write something as nonsense as Eat, Pray, Love? (That book is total rubbish. I don’t know how it sold so many copies. One more book by one more white person about one more cow and I’m going to try my best to ensure that they all NEVER be given a visa to travel here. The Bhagawad Gita is not the most sacred text of Yoga, you dumbass. It’s a treatise on dharma.)

The word issues has so many things wrong with it in this particular context. So many things. People need shrinks in times of extreme distress, but a sibling sure as hell is the wrong reason to need a shrink. If you think your mother doesn’t have the time for you, then just fucking deal with it and be glad you’re alive. I don’t want tell you about the innumerable number of instances when little girls didn’t live to see the day because their parents wanted a boy instead.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Mull-it

Birthday month, for everything that I’ve hyped it out to be, is turning out to be not so great. For starters was Swetha’s death and now, Nandu. Nandu Narsimhan taught me at IIMC (not to be confused with IIM-Calcutta, PLEASE). He was 45 and died of a heart attack last night. Nothing more to say really. He was the favourite professor of all the Advertising diploma kids. We journo kids didn’t know much about him. We only sighed from a distance.

The thing is, when you study at an Indian government-funded college, life’s pretty nonsense. Everything is subsidised, including the quality of faculty. However the Advertising and PR diploma kids got a better deal. They learnt from the people who were in the industry. They learnt from the people who had the fancy cars and cool jobs. Journo students? We had an ape wannabe called P Mathur who said, and I know this because I counted, ‘and all that’ 125 times in class once! The rest just read aloud from a book all the time or told us not to eat food at a press conference.

Suffice to say, most of my time at IIMC was spent escaping from the rude reality that was ‘a premier journalism education’.

Running back to November. Apart from untimely deaths, this has been, so far, a month that I’m enjoying simply because I will be unemployed starting November 22. I want to be unemployed. I want to experience no-salary withdrawal symptoms for a bit and then get back to the corporate grind. In the time that I am at home, I hope to be writing more. Long ago, I had poetic aspirations (can be found here); I want that stupid feeling back. It’s a fun feeling – this combination of feeling artistic and very relevant.

The trouble with me and writing is this – I never really aspired to write. Ever. All I knew was that I had this great talent for not having studied squat before the exams but writing the appropriate words well enough to get decent marks. There was no yelling at home, my mother didn’t need to get her cane out, and all peace was maintained. (Ok, here’s the thing readers of mine, I’m from India, disciplining a child in this part of the world includes a smack or two. I’ve got my share. I don’t resent my mother. I don’t think she hates me. I don’t have ‘issues’. I was, still am, a pain. My mother, almost always, acted out of exasperation. You would too if it was the day before the final exam and your daughter’s school books were empty.)

When I was in my final year of college, Ranjit Hoskote visited for a week-long residence. I thank god every day for it. He re-introduced Arun Kolatkar to me. I owe him big time! Ranjit’s after class activity for the BA Literature students was a poetry workshop. I signed up too. My poem? Sucked ass! I hated it. He hated it. However, I re-worked it and it was much appreciated. When I was told that rhyming was not a pre-requisite to good poetry, I was pretty thrilled. That’s when I chased this grandiose notion of having the gift of poetry. It led to a lot of writing that my old blog had a lot of. I deleted all of it. Some of it is still alive, somewhere, in some online forum. I’m going to delete everything, I think.

I’m not sure what to do with this writing shindig any longer. Maybe journalism is the profession for me. I get the opportunity to make a piece of cake sound like a slice of heaven, why not, right?

All this resignation business has given me a lot to think about. What next is something I’m not letting myself answer right now. Let’s see where this is all going to go. For now, I just be angsty on blog, yes?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Overanalysing

When 2 + 2 suddenly looks like 42 (Douglas Adams, I would like to thank you profusely for this connotation attached to the number 42), it’s probably because my overanalytical mind is at work in full force and capacity. Some of the things I dream up are things that you’d never ave thought of and you’d probably turn around and say, "Shruthi you’re completely vetti (jobless) please get a life!" I’d have to agree with you, but then where’s the fun with idle time if you cannot over-imagine, right?

Half the nonsense in this blog is because I over-imagine. It is this tendency to over-imagine that leads to what I call writing overkill - making the same point in five to six differently worded sentences. I do that sometimes, and I’m not too happy about it. But then again one of the precepts of effective communication is reinforcement – it could either be wild gesticulating or making the same point until you get it.

I’m self-introspecting because of a convoluted connect I made about a person I know. I was watching some meant-for-brainless-viewing-only TV programme on Channel V about celebrities and their zodiac matches and consequently led me to think about someone I know, who is slightly obsessed over zodiacs and how she managed to have a crush on and go on to develop a relationship with the person whose zodiac is best compatible with hers. That thought I had while watching this inane TV programme almost killed me. Why I was thinking about that person is beyond me. Why I even made the connect is beyond me. I did think and I did make the connect. I did make 2 + 2 = 42.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Lists and all

  • Death has this funny way of remind you that it exists. I don't like that. This morning I woke up to the news that my youger brother's classmate from college died in an accident. He's devastated. She's the second friend he's lost in two years. It's not fair. Something about it is not right. I don't know what karma her death completed, whatever it was, it just wasn't right. To me at least. OR as my mother put it, maybe this was all the time she had on this planet. If that is the case, Swetha, wherever you are, I truly hope it's a better place.
  • My parents celebrated anniversary number 27 yesterday.
  • Have you heard of dhoti pants? Kindly Google it. My friend bought me a pair from Goa and I wore it to lunch yesterday. My uncle was most fascinated with it and insisted that we source this clothing item for everyone in the family, including my 11-year-old and 7-year-old cousins, and take a family photo wearing dhoti pants. The dhoti family apparently.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Diwali or the lack of it

Today is Diwali. Festival of lights. The biggest mithai gorge-fest. Diyas. Firecrackers. Some burn injuries. Some safety messages from fire and safety department. Diwali releases, which unfortunately did not include ant Rajini or Shah Rukh Khan film. Mutton curry and idli for breakfast (apparently in rememberance of Raavana). Oil baths. New clothes. A day in the life of people where there is no bickering, random disagreements and fights. It's a day to welcome Lakshmi into your home and generally have a blast.

That's about it. There was a point when Diwali was exciting for me. It isn't any longer. My brother is not around this year. My aunt is too scared of firecrackers for it to be any fun. This year it will just be diyas and so on. Nothing much. I think my family should start this send out mass greeting card system. Just so there is something to do today.

I'm Mal. We don't do any festival except Onam and Vishu. Everything else is just a cursory nod to the religious calendar. Which is good in a way. We even celebrate Christmas with homemade plum cake (rum-soaked dry fruits, etc, my mother is a rockstar with that) and wine. All in all, festivals are a good time to just soak in the ambience and have a good time about it. Can't say more really.

If you ever want to get a feel of festivity, come to Chennai around Diwali, catch a first day first show of a Tamil Diwali release. Hoot with the crowd. Go a little mental. Enjoy!

Monday, November 1, 2010

birthday

It’s November.

I turn a year older this month. I wait all year for this month.

I’m one of ‘those’ people – the ones that like their birthday and are all shrilly about it. The rest of the time, I’m unconcerned about things at large. But November is the only time in the year I get a little crazy. See November 6 is my parents’ wedding anniversary. Nov 14 is my best friend’s birthday. November 20 is my birthday. November 22 is my uncle’s birthday.

So many occasions to celebrate.

November is also a great time of year to be in Chennai. Slush pit notwithstanding. The heat and humidity are more tolerable. The green, what little there is of it, is greener. Over and above all that, it’s my birthday this month and what better time of year that your birthday? I don’t see how people can rate birthdays below festivals and girls nights out. To me, a birthday is the one day in the entire calendar year when it’s all about you. Simple. No one can argue with that. No one can disagree with the fact that it’s your day and you should be having fun. If you’re smart, you will take the day off and have a 24-hour party. Weekday birthdays especially are the best times to do this.

Anyway. It’s just a thought.