Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bras, bullies and me

“So cute!”

“Gundu (fat), no?”

“Fat.”

“Fatty.”

“Jelly bum.”

“You look so unhealthy. You need to exercise.”

“Keep eating more chocolate, you’re beginning to look obese.”

Since I was a baby, people have been using the F(at) word around me indiscriminately. As if it’s their prerogative and some kind of bizarre birthright to call someone fat. I sometimes wish their judgements were justified. Unlike the King of Tonga, I don’t need to have a special chair made for me to accommodate my so-called fat self.

It didn’t help me in the least when, at the age of 14, I had more curves than most teenagers I knew. And teenage girls, insensitive bitches that they are, enjoyed making fun of trainer bras for some strange reason. It didn’t matter to them that they wore said bras a couple of years later, but I couldn’t wear them because, well, they didn’t like it. Those were the times I wished I was non-descript.

I’m not sure where this sudden need to talk about it is even coming from.

In school, there were some characters who, thanks to a then-released movie Kaadal Desam, thought it was cool to ask me to bend over and pick something off the floor. Our pinafores prevented any cleavage show, even then, those idiots thought it was clever and for some reason I should have felt honoured that I was being asked to please bend and pick up a coin.

Then of course were more teenage girl comments about the size of my ass and chest. I never understood why the fuck it was fascinating for boobless women to go all – “dude, your big boobs are so fugly” – on women with boobs. In school, that taunt was a little more annoying because these skinny children with no thighs and boobs to speak of seemed to be very popular with the boys and possessed a secret that some of us wanted to get our hands on. They were also very snide and for some reason enjoyed snarking on the girls who had more flesh on them.

The boys in my batch who were getting the attention? Not that good-looking or interesting even. I’m sorry to go on the record to say this. Truth is that some of our relationships have grown only after school when we acquired some semblance of personalities and character, more than what our grey hospital-patient-esque uniforms afforded us anyway.

To imagine being approved of by these boys and to validate our teenage awkward selves with our popularity with them is something I never really understood. My general hate for how I looked prevented any amount of self-confidence. I was angry a lot. I yelled a lot. I was a teacher’s daughter, so there was a grudging acceptance of me in the classroom, and I don’t think it was anything more than that.

The people I went to school with are the ones I’d cut my left arm off for now. I cannot imagine a life without them. Now, however, has no bearing on then. And then, to be perfectly honest, is a time I’d like to erase from memory, if it’s not too much trouble!

It was only in college that body types was a concept that my poor scarred brain was able to embrace. Even my sneaky Mills & Boon reading in class 11 accomplished only one thing, the women were gorgeous and skinny, only a hint of curve, but otherwise perfect. I gave up.

College opened another thought mechanism. That of actually thinking and assessing and analyzing and figuring it out. Since I am a possessor of a sizeable chest area, some women were jealous. I was amazed! You hate that you don’t have boobs? For real? Whatte!

There were some others who were comfortable being whatever they were, and I decided then that I would try my best to be comfortable with the body I had and via that get comfortable with who I am.

Those three years studying literature and criticizing archetypes helped me get over a lot of my adolescent baggage. Sometimes a red bra can help compensate for the strap-snapping bullies in ways that I cannot explain.

These days, people still indiscriminately use the F word around me. I use it on me. But no significant brain damage has been caused due to the same. I’m in a better place and sometimes when I really need to feel better, I just pull out a red or black number and smile to myself. It's hella better than chocolate sometimes, and for me, that's saying a lot!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Letters

Dear father of mine,

Reverse psychology never helped in creating mature individuals with 'character'. It only messes people up. So, stop talking? You're 62, you need a rest from constantly finding-fault with your fat daughter and your son who, according to you, will never amount to anything in life. Just stop.

With much gratitude,
The fat daughter.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sometimes, I pontificate

“I want to stand in Fabindia and soak up the cotton-ness of it all and buy a kurta,” I said to a friend.

“Why do all you women love Fabindia? I don’t get it,” my friend replied.

“Well, I personally like the fact that in Chennai cotton is my best bet. Fabindia is not some exclusive place, I know that about 30 other women will wear the same prints, but I like it anyway,” I say.

A long time has passed since that conversation was exchanged, but I realized that almost everyone made sweeping generalizations about other people. It’s such an easy thing to do with our time. Even though I’m talking about this, I’m not sure how conversations would be if all of us were non-judgmental souls. Can you imagine that?

I don’t think even the hippies were capable of being non-judgmental! It’s that difficult not to snark on people.

***
On a completely unrelated note, Dove shampoo’s campaigns are utter, total and complete nonsense. They don’t ask “real women” to endorse their shampoo. All the girls that did the Dove ads have magically proliferated on every other cheeseball advertisement and even posed for one of MTV’s shows, making them professional “real women”. Bleddee. Lack of integrity in product promotion only. Unethical foolishes!

***
My brother’s quit his job and come back home. As much as I love him to pieces and love having him around, I find his nonsense approach to doing laundry completely irritating. I don’t get why boys think wearing dirty clothes is cool and manly. Bloody disgusting!

***
Also, I don’t think I will ever be a meat-eater. I don’t get the hype. I don’t want the fucking snark that comes with the territory. What the fuck are you loser non-vegetarians bitching about? Don’t you idiots realize that you have more to eat because I don’t? Try being happy about that. Asses! Keep going on about how “you’re missing out” – uh, I don’t think so. I don’t want to eat meat. Respect that and get over your nonsense and stop giving me grief about the fact that I don’t eat what you do. Bleddee.

***

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

News, views, stuff

The persistent need to tell Facebook that I’m doing something or I am in the midst of a giant, earth-shattering, for me, epiphany, is getting a little annoying. I think I would like to hide some place and not come out at all.

I wish life was suddenly not about my online presence. I mean, a friend of mine re-activated her Facebook profile to tell me – “I’m here because it’s hard to live in the same city as you and stay in touch”. I was rightfully enraged, sorry di, but I think she’s right. There’s more information about me online than there is in other people’s email and SMS inboxes. That’s bloody sad. I want to be the girl who overshares in a café and has other people bitch about her and not the other way around. I like getting out of my house to get some fresh air and Vitamin D, not sit at home and type a lot. I’ll end up being lady type-a-lot and friendless!

Anyway, that’s just self-indulgence.

There’s a new blog. Writing Caste. Check it out.

This blog came about with a very interesting back story. Malarvizhi Jayanth, a former reporter at The Hindu wrote two rants on Facebook after The Hindu acquired exclusive access to Wikileaks’ India Cables. Malar had a huge grouse against the paper and it was expressed in two parts. The first part was the classic – my former employer is a jerkwad-style piece and the second hit a more raw nerve, caste. Now, caste is a subject that this country grapples with on a regular basis and continues to be completely anal about it because our social structures date back to a time way, way, way before colonialism even happened.

The responses to the second post were so multifarious that Malar decided to put together a blog of contributions and responses. I wrote to her too, you can’t blame me! My name is one of the most misleading in Malayali history. As recently as Sunday I had someone ask if I was Brahmin, when I said I wasn’t, this person was like, "but your name". That’s how it goes with me.

I for one, as mentioned earlier, don’t know this problem, nor have I been a victim of caste. However, this word has been a part of a lot of my interactions ever since I got that certificate from the CBSE just before my class 10 board exams. In my MA, the word took on a new significance. As a student of post-colonial literature, etc, the word became part of debate, but it never meant anything to me. As someone who lives the regular middle-class city life, I haven’t had to deal with it on a personal level.

However, watching the people who come out of the sewer manholes, reminds me that there is a part of my country’s social fibre that is tainted and stained. I think the Supreme Court’s decision to make Khap Panchayat’s illegal is a step in the right direction towards eradicating the unreasonable levels of right-wingness that persists in this country.

I’m going to leave it at that.

One more blog you should be reading is this. She’s a junior of mine from college and she's awesome and she’s getting married and she’s a fantastic writer, so please read okay?

I go now, I will come back with lots of more kuppai. There’s a bachelor party I have to go to because my idiot friend has more women friends. I’m sure something will come out of that event that I will write about.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Abusing he who is worthy

Murphy, you sonofabitch!

I hate you on so many levels, it’s astounding!

The one day I decide to dress like its summer, and it rains. I can’t help but think that you have a hand in it.

If my white linens and Birkenstocks get damaged because of the weather, I will find you and torture you to death you little shit.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

In memoriam

Eight years to the day since my maternal grandfather passed away. I almost forgot what today was. I cannot believe how much time has passed since 2003. I always thought I’d remember and mark the day in some small way. This morning, unusually, I woke up early, 6.30 to be precise, and decided that I would try and kill the shruthi’s-always-late cliché and reach office before my designer did. It was when I went to pack my lunch did my aunt tell me, “It’s apupa’s death day today, will you come home for lunch, I’ve made his favourite things.”

It was only then that the significance of the date sink in. I was shocked that I had forgotten, puzzled that I would forget, but then again I’m constantly monologuing with myself all the time, so I’m not surprised in the least.

I’m a little clueless about what one does in remembrance of a loved one. Is only remembering enough?

He would have been 90 this year if he had lived. Some part of me misses him every single time I do something important, like get a master’s degree for instance. To my grandfather, Sid and I were special beings that were given to him so he could look after us and generally gush about our awesomeness. I remember going home after winning this lame prize at MCC. It was a Rs.100 cash prize for a collage thingy and my grandfather thought it deserved mention at all dinners for the rest of the week. He was cool like that. Every little victory, every little thing mattered to him and I think it’s an awesome trait to have possessed.

He was his happiest when we were eating, laughing, gossiping, talking and he sat at the head of the table.

The only time he ever lost his temper was to tell us exactly what he thought of Nehru. As a Lieutenant in the INA, my grandfather never thought much of the non-Subash Chandra Bose way of freedom fighting and leadership.

Onam was another time of year when my grandfather was in his elements. For some reason, he never really understood why cutting vegetables for avvial was so difficult. My grandmother and my mother were constantly being quizzed about how far the cooking had come and why the avvial was looking so suspiciously badly cut. My grandfather was great at giving instructions about food. He's the reason behind our slightly mad love for food.

He was fascinated by his youngest grandchild, Prem. A tiny, then two-year-old, boy who insisted that my grandfather swallow his medicines one by one, insisting that only he knew how to give apupa medicine.

Somewhere in the rut that is my life and my ranting, I’ve forgotten my grandfather’s smile. His silence. His joy in simple things.

For him taking Sid along for a haircut and getting conned into buying more Frooti than necessary meant more than a lot of things.

His children and grandchildren were his whole world. To them he bequeathed just one thing, unity under any and all forms of sometimes over-stressful diversity.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Manic Mondays

I have a strange feeling I’m living two lives.

One day I’m the temple-visiting good girl who will go along with any plan that her parents have for her and for her future. On the other I’m falling off my friend’s couch and getting a 25-paisa size burn on my upper arm because I couldn’t sit straight after all the alcohol I consumed.

My liver and my stomach protested extremely strongly. After a Saturday night I would rather forget, my past caught up with me in a manner than I don’t think I am entirely comfortable with. However, I need to prove a point, so I am going to see how the hell this pans out.

And just to make a point, some men will remain ever creepy. Marriage is the last thing that makes a difference to them!

More, later.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Undo, re-write, replicate

The trouble with writing on Word is the Ctrl+Z option. I think it’s cool when you need to use it to re-work something you’ve written, one the other hand, people like me abuse the function to delete possibly revolutionary content. All because I’m too much of a wimp to tell you exactly what I think. This need for propriety is going to kill me one day and I am going to blame someone else. Blame society perhaps. Society takes the blame for a lot of things; it may as well carry this also on its little head!

On that happy note…

There has been so much going on recently. India won the Cricket World Cup, thank god for that. It only means that when we play in Australia in 2015, people will expect us to pull off one more win. Not that it isn’t likely; I just don’t see it happening. In the meantime, if the Chennai Super Kings win IPL4, I will be extremely grateful to them. If Chennai can’t get the ‘cool city’ tag, we may as well have the badass-est cricket team in the country, no? It gives us more incentive to toot our horns. We need something to yell about.

And there was one more wedding that I went to. Since October, I’ve only been doing one thing consistently, go to weddings. Whether I want to be there or not, the point is that I am an attendee at weddings and that means a lot of things, both good and bad. The recurring joke is “who’s next?” the recurring answer is “it could be you, you’re old enough, get married”. I like to think that these things have a matter of time surrounding them; however, time is not something the world concerns itself with. They want to be humorous and funny and smart-mouthed and make people like me defensive. Recently, I had a conversation with a friend of mine, she had one question for me, again, a question that has become standard question when in conversation with me – “how’s the groom hunt at your place di?” I had to ask her why she asked me, as was everyone else, to which she replied – “Because you put it up on FB a lot, so people are obviously going to ask you.”

I had to concede that she had a point. I’ve been going to town with this husband-finding process for quite a while now. So much so that it seems to be the only thing that people want to have a conversation about. My answers vary depending on my audience. To some people I’m mature and am approaching this very level-headedly, to some others I’m plain neurotic, for the most part I’m just irritated that it’s the only thing that my parents want to think about and it’s the only thing that people want me to talk about. How hard is it to not talk to me if you have nothing of relevance to discuss? But no, you need to make conversation, so you will bring up a subject on which I can talk about for hours and hours and then complain to me that I only think of this one thing. Poda ________! (In Tamil, poda dash, aka, the blank, is one hell of a way to tell someone to please get lost in the dense jungles of the Amazon basin and not bother to find their way out!)

Friday, April 1, 2011

And again, with the nonsense

Two blog posts were drafted and abandoned – one on my non-existent tolerance for cricket (it’s sacrilege to be saying it considering that I’m Indian and all, but it’s ok, I can stomach the T20 format well enough and that does, in some miniscule fraction level, redeem my kenainess [loser(?)ness] with my friends) another was familiarly righteous and indignant about some illiterate person saying some equally illiterate thing that annoyed me. But they’ve been deleted, so I’m not even going to bother recalling the point I was so vainly trying to make.

I am going to share a link. A link that leads to an article that is long, a little painful to get through and is one more irritating example of the fascinated American in India. I’m sorry I’m being such a complete diss bag with the lovely people who support the Incredible India campaign with such fervor and sunburnt enthusiasm, but when you throw in nonsense like “thin national narrative” and give me one more heartfelt portrait about India’s tiny streets and tiny children and other NatGeo-worthy nonsense, you need to allow me to lose my temper and call you a fool. That’s all. It’s a fair deal. After all, you come from a country that people migrated to because they were sick of Europe. After landing in America you persecuted the natives for reasons best-known only to you. For a country that’s only 200 some years old to even think to compare itself to a country whose politicians (read Chanakya/Shaguni/Krishna) have been in existence before some religions even came to be is blasphemous to say the least of what it is. It pisses me off. In a way, I’m glad I have your language so I can tell you off.

Off late, most of my reading material has been stuff that has the potential to really rile me up. The summary of all my reading is quite simple – I live in a country that has forgotten the ideals of the people who fought for our freedom. Governance is no longer possible here because every single bureaucrat has proven that he/she has a price and they only have it because they know that there are enough people with the money to meet their demands. It’s saddening and infuriating in equal measure. I’ve had long and impassioned conversations with my friends about how upsetting it is to live here. Yes, we’re moving ahead, but those of us who want to enjoy the benefits of progress have only the luxury of a rant and nothing more. Like I’ve said before in this blog, my vote doesn’t matter. I’m literate and capable of making a living and telling a politician to go to hell. Giving me a free laptop or TV or ceiling fan is not going to improve the quality of my life. I choose to be a drama queen about this whole situation because I voted and paid taxes and feel entitled to ask questions, lose my temper and throw a tantrum.

So far the only good thing going on at the moment is the fact that summer is upon Chennai. It means the odours of the city are at its most pungent (yeah, that only means the Cooum!); it means watermelons; it means mangoes and mango pickle, which is incidentally an addiction of mine; it means humidity combined with a strange burning in your skin because of the sun; it means mostly that Chennai is in character and delivering on all counts. Not a single person in the city is capable of remembering the city when it’s more pleasant and less humid. For most of us, Chennai is the heat. We secretly crave the bouts of sweating!

THE END.