Friday, February 25, 2011

so much to say?

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m a bit of a TV addict. I can spend an entire day watching TV and not regret the day of inactivity. In that context, who has watched MasterChef USA? Do you like the show?

My mother and I fell in love with MasterChef Australia when it first aired in this country. The whole show, the fact that we were learning new things about how to cook food, etc, was extremely fascinating for amma and me. For instance, I discovered what Gnocchi was after watching MasterChef Australia. However, MasterChef USA has a very different format and I find it extremely annoying.

Sometimes it seems to me as though the judges and contestants are having a private conversation and the audience is just supposed to sit and watch like cheap eavesdroppers! Okay, maybe not that extreme, but I don’t like that they don’t do a master class.

Anyway, it’s just a small complaint. Someone else is funding the show and writing it, what they do wit the show is their business.

***

I’m faced with a very weird situation at the moment. I’ve suddenly gone from being unemployed and no money in my purse to having two job offers in my wonderful Chennai. I had a long conversation with my friend J about what I should do. I’ve been having long conversations with some of my very close friends about what to do next. I never really anticipated having choices when it came to jobs.

I was actually holding out for this one offer to come through, it never did, so I have to move on and consider other prospects. And while I am, I’m getting thoroughly confused. What I decide now will set the course for my career.

I just hope that I don’t regret the choice I make two or three months down the line!

***

In the midst of all this, I am also eating too much chocolate. I now look like the muffin in the muffin top adjective!

***

I want to watch Tanu Weds Manu. It seems like such an interesting movie. I may not be able to relate to all the Punjabi-ness in the film but I know I will enjoy the fact that this girl is suffering from the same disease that I am – overexposure to earnest single boys from my community who have evinced interest in wanting to marry me despite not knowing a damn thing about me except for my name!

***

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Trivandrum and followers

Wow! 50? 50! Wow!

Thank you for stopping by and hitting the follow button and reading the nonsense that I mostly indulge in... I appreciate it.

***

So, Attukal. What can I say. It was a bit more organised than it was the last time. At the temple, I actually didn’t have to worry about who was trying to grab my clothes in the pretext of trying to get darshan. This time, I actually went to the temple on time and I managed to see Devi. Good stuff.

I enjoy going to temples. I do. It’s a lot of fun listening to the stories associated with them. I especially like the hope that permeates the ambience in a temple. Just a sliver of it. For once, people leave their lives in the hands of the irony-loving universe hoping that they won’ t get slapped, again. At Attukal, especially during the time of the festival, women come in droves to put their faith in the hands of Attukal Amma. Only they know what they’re praying for, whatever it is, it seems to fill the air, palpably. You can’t help but be swayed by all that emotion.

I get really corny on occasion. This is one of them and I honestly don’t mind. My trip to Trivandrum this year was especially fun because both of my aunts were also there. My aunt flew down from Singapore just for this. For the first time since 1999, she left Singapore without her son and actually had a good time. Of course, my cousin was having a major case of separation anxiety and called at 3am IST crying his eyes out before he left for school to tell my aunt that he missed her and was waiting for her to get back. I feel bad for the guy who has national service to look forward to in 6 years’ time.

Once again, I visited too many extra temples. One of them was our kudumbakshetram, or family temple, on my maternal side. It’s one of my favourite temples in Trivandrum. It’s quiet and most importantly, it’s mine. The thing about Kerala is that all temples and religious institutions follow the most strict versions of their respective good behavior code. People like my good self, who go to temples to find a minute of silence, and not god, are bound to get the cold shoulder from the gods from time to time. It’s hilarious.

However, I’m a “good daughter” when I need to be, so I prayed in all sincerity and hoped to GOD that something does come out of it.

Onto the Pongala* itself. For some reason, this year it wasn’t as pushy-shovy. I chose to put my pongala outside the house and not in the shade of the banana trees. The sun on my face, my sunburn (see, I’m a Chennai girl, and yet, every time the sun shines, my skin looks like it belongs on a tomato and not a human being. It’s absurd.) and my pongala which cooked fast this time around made the whole deal very interesting.

I enjoyed the way I walked around like a so-called pro doling out unnecessary advice to my newbie pongala-putter aunt and managed my stove and my mother’s when she needed it.
The deal is that you have to put pongala for three years. That’s the (I don’t know the appropriate English word for this) of the whole Pongala.

So, I will be going back again next year and maybe a couple of years after as well.
Highlight of this trip? – LIME JUICE!!!

Fresh lime juice, nimbu paani, naarengya vellam, whatever the hell it’s called, is something I’m really fanatical about it. I judge the worthiness of a restaurant on the basis of the lime juice they make. I can’t make lime juice worth a damn. However, every third person and their grandmother can make awesome lime juice in Kerala. You need to taste it to believe it. It’s awesome, or to use an Urban Dictionary euphemism, awesomesauce.

To make my poit more specific - no one makes lime juice like the good folks of Trivandrum. Visit the city just for the lime juice and if you’re a Hindu, go to the Padmanabhaswamy Temple too just so you can look at a very Buddha-like Vishnu and very Balinese dwarapalakas (guards).

Remember, when in Kerala dress modestly and don’t hire a tourist guide. There are enough Malayalis in the world to help you out, for free also!

(*Pongala – it’s a rice dish that can be made either with coconuts and bananas or milk, coconuts and jaggery. Of course, the main ingredient is rice and you can go with a sweet or savoury dish. But it will have to be cookeed on a stove fired with coconut-tree by-products. There’s a lot of smoke involved.)

***

I will edit this post with pictures soon enough. And will be back with more unemployed sarcasm!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Annual events

Last year, I had written about the Attukal Pongala. And guess what? I'm going again this year. I'm told that the Pongala is the kind of experience that you will want to repeat. This year, the Pongala is going to be a lot more fun. Both my aunts - my aunt in Singapore is coming down for two just for the Pongala! - are also coming along which means it will be the three mothers and me and two of my mother's aunts. Eight of us from the Chennai family will be at Attukal this year.

Kerala newspapers are reporting that around 2,500,000 women are expected to throng Trivandrum for the Pongala. I just hope that we get the same spots we did last year.

I'm really looking forward to this weekend. I have so much to post about when I get back.

Sh

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Anonymous

Awww! I have a hater!

Someone called Anonymous called me a "dumb fuck bitch".

Poor Anonymous. Won't ever be on the record for having the spine to come right out and say it.

This, this anonymity is the only problem with the internet. So many people are getting away with doing so much that it's not funny any longer.

Anyway, Anonymous, please do keep dropping by, I'm going to keep deleting you.

Always,
Sh

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Overanalysis

The thing about talent is the simple fact that it needs to be discovered. Of course, Simon Fuller will know a thing or two about discovering talent, but that doesn’t mean he’s the only one.

All of us have some kind of talent. When I say talent, I don’t mean things like singing, dancing, all that does require talent, but it’s a little clichéd. Talent can also extend itself into territory like your behavior, for instance. Some people are talented at social faux pas. Uttering completely kuppai statements in situations that don’t warrant it and yet managing to be part of a friend circle. They are talented people as well.

The trouble with this broader definition of talent is that you are forced to ask yourself what it is that you have a talent for. Me? I’m talented at fucking up. Royally.

Be they relationships or work, I have a knack of ensuring that any and everything that is smooth-sailing in my life will eventually sink and hit rock bottom, irretrievable and irreconcilable. I do this simply by cutting myself off from people. It’s a very moody thing. Some days I can’t be more of a social person, on some days, I’d rather be cooped in a corner with a book and a bag of chips. This swinging has cost me so many relationships, it’s no longer funny.

The thing is, I continue to do it. I know I am. I know I should stop, but I can’t seem to stop myself. You can call it an addiction. I can’t seem to stop when it is happening and I don’t see a solution at all. I fear for myself because the way things are going, I know that I will end up sitting all alone in a dingy apartment wondering how the hell my life went by.

My only wish is that I don’t get killed by the people I push away…

Monday, February 7, 2011

Begging

I’m humanly incapable of keeping it together. I just can’t.

I’m the lunatic who will bluff her ass off to convince you and then go hide in a corner until you give up trying to find me after having been impressed. I’m that person. I don’t know why I’m that person but I am.

It scares the kuppai out of me. I want this behaviour to stop. I want it to. I’m not sure if it ever will. If someone out there has a remedy, please do be kind and offer it to me. I need to stop hiding from things and from people.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Incredible India

I’m sick of this India that is being paraded around the media today.

Sick of fascinated white people coming here with their funny accents, reddened faces, dirty footwear and cameras.

Sick of the same people taking a select few photos and going back home and expounding to more fascinated white people about the “life-altering” experience they had while visiting my country.

Sick of these people telling everyone – such a beautiful country, but so much poverty.

Sick of all the TV commercials made by Indians and aired on Indian television about the fact that every Indian child is poor and suffering and needs Rs.X to live to see another day.

Sick of the Incredible India tourist attraction scheme.

Sick of a national newspaper using its front page to talk about this country of “contradictions” and then proceeding to tell all potential participants in a contest to explore the theme of Asli Bharat – the unshining India with the beggars and drains and whatnot. (The Times of India, dated February 3. Read the specs of the contest. The online version doesn’t link directly…)

All this makes me wonder if I live in some alternate universe.

Do I even belong in the same country as all these poor and underfed people? What about me and all the other Indians like me? The ones who speak English and don’t say pisa for pizza. What about us?

In fact, we’re so insignificant that the politicians don’t ask us to vote for them. No one takes us seriously. All we have to do is work enough to push up the per capita income to around Rs49,990 something. We need to be around to ensure that MNCs are investing. We need to work to ensure that the GDP is in order. We need to run the posh-looking businesses so people can say this is a prospering country. We need to be around for the Incredible India campaign. We need to be around so people can call India a country of contradictions where people wear their Cavalli's with the same elan as the shopowner lady wears her saree.

Pain and torture make for better drama and add effect, I know that. But what the fuck is it with selling ourselves short? I don’t get it.

I have only one question though, is India the only beautiful country with poor and underfed and homeless people? Are we the only country where suffering is the subject of our illiterate and idiotic national-level contests?

Sometimes, happiness sells. Ask the damn chocolate makers!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Existential Angst

As is apparent on this blog, I have expressed my irritation at the entire arranged marriage process plenty of times. Now, I am not changing my mind and going on this quest for true love. Purely because I don’t think I’m the find-love-and-live-happily-ever-after type. Moreover, I don’t have the patience to go through the process of finding someone, finding out if said someone likes me, liking said someone and then letting it proceed further. It’s too much work and I’m too lazy to spend that kind of time on anything. I’d rather sit here and rant my ass off!

I’m bringing up this idiotic topic again because there was yet another (yeah, this phrase irritates me no end, but when it is delivered in an Indian accent, it is all the shit) argument at home. More tears. More accusations. More paranoia. Now, the fault is mine, leaving home at 10pm and waltzing back in at 4am. I am pushing it. However, it isn’t like my family didn’t know where I was. The people I was hanging out with are friends of mine. People I trust and people whose company I enjoy, apparently that just doesn’t cut it.

My mother’s comment was this – “This AP, your so-called friend. He doesn’t respect you. He will never marry a girl like you.” WHAT THE FUCK IS – “a girl like you”? What the fuck is it? Honestly! Sometimes I wonder why my mother went through the trouble of getting pregnant and giving birth to me if she was going to be this traumatized in life!

Then she goes on to say – “I regret bringing her up like this. I should have brought her up as a typical middle-class girl. None of this would even be happening”. Now, I’m sorry, but what the fuck happened? Nothing. Sunday evening, when I was getting the lecture, I honestly wish there was some drastic news to deliver. But, nothing. I’m not pregnant. I’m not secretly married. I’m fine. Safe. Healthy. Sane. Apparently none of this matters because ever since I crossed a certain age barrier, I’ve become a product.

A product that needs to be marketed and be put out there on the websites so that eligible young boys will be dazzled suitably and will flood my father’s inbox with “Express Interest” emails.

Sorry, but this new-age arranged marriage shindig has nothing to recommend it. At least in my mother’s generation there were the matchmakers, now it’s all online and it’s insulting to say the least to be on a matrimonial website looking prettified and photshopped and 22 and allowing myself to be assessed to be good enough for some complete and absolute stranger.

Of course, my father will never take the trouble to look like the villain in the picture. He’ll stew in his own juices while I tell them I’m leaving to meet a few friends and then turn around and yell at my mother for bringing me up to be this kind of person. He will then top it up with – “she’s your daughter after all, I’m not surprised that she’s like this”. Him and my mother decided to live apart for 14 years while Sid and I were growing up because of his army travelling etc. Well, good choice people, but did you really think that Sid and I would be docile little do-gooders? Really? Congratulations on your excellent evaluation of a blindingly easy situation to assess!

The funniest part is how much they brag about how cool we are to other people. Somehow, at home we’re assholes who are making them miserable. To the rest of the world, my parents are damn near perfect. Beautiful and forward-thinking. At home, I can’t even wear a sleeveless kurta without my father getting offended! It’s a strange dichotomy. You cannot say that this is a classic generation gap – this is sheer lack of basic common sense.

You were 26 in 1982 for god’s sake! It was different from when your mother was 26, right? I’m particularly annoyed because my parents are educated people. My mother has been working at a school since 1980 – for someone who deals with imparting an education and intelligence as a career, and for someone who spews a different set of values to her kids, this “I should have brought her up different” BS is a shock to say the least. You never should have bothered with the frocks and the other paraphernalia if you were going to talk like this one day.

Sometimes I want to write them both an apology letter –

Dear Amma and Acha,
Your daughter, the one you wished for, was supposed to be the patron saint of virtue, moral goodness and social propriety. I’m sorry that you got played by the universe. Please go and cry to your gods about this, I’m sure they will deem this issue relevant enough to intervene.

My mother will say, someday when you have kids, all this will come back to you. That's for me to deal with. For me to cry about. For me to worry over. More importantly, I don't think I'm having children, so I don't see the problem really.