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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

'X'mas is here..! Find X.

I am so overwhelmed by the response my first ever story got and I can’t seem to bring myself to the ground and am currently in a floating state, after tens of people liked it on Facebook and others, through blog comments and even in person. Christmas has rung itself in; there are voices of Boney M and Jim Reeves in the air. The  trip to hometown is in the pipeline, packing is halfway through, the festivities have started, the tree is lit, its ornaments are everywhere, the house is in a complete mess, so in short holidays are here! Yay!  

Christmas is the festival of merriment. We often exchange wishes saying ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Merry Xmas’ , both of which are intended to mean the same thing, but I was confused whether the latter was a colloquial usage. Because replacing Christ from Christmas with ‘X’ just dint make sense. I remember writing out cards that read 'Merry Christmas'…but ever since Christmas cards went down in the pages of history, the sms lingo made the situation worse with people saying ‘Hey Happy xmaz xoxoxo’ to which I just want to say 'Dude. It is Christmas'. 

Call me an idiot, but since Christmas brings with it the incredible season of winter, and festivities enjoyed by everyone regardless of religion, I believed that the non-Christians pulled the Christ out of Christmas and commercialized it. So any Christian worth his salt should not say 'Xmas', is what I thought although I used it in my whatsapp conversations. Because by the time I type Christmas, my phone would have become a thing of the past, thanks to my toddler who is extremely fond of throwing expensive stuff. 

Image courtesy:

But Google later told me a different story altogether. It seems there were protests by people across the world who had similar feelings as mine, over replacing ‘Christ’ with ‘X’. There were people who felt like the word ‘Xmas’ was more like an algebraic term which by the end of if wants the reader to Find ‘X’.  (A portion of me died by the the time I graduated, after hunting down all X, Y and Z which were absconding ever since I joined)

However, the word ‘Xmas’ originated somewhere around the 16th century, that is like really long ago.  Here is what the Wiki has to say about it:
Xmas is a common abbreviation of the word Christmas .The "-mas" part is from the Latin-derived Old English word for Mass,[1] while the "X" comes from the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter of the Greek word Χριστόςwhich comes into English as "Christ".[2]
There is a common misconception that the word Xmas stems from a secular attempt to remove the religious tradition from Christmas[3] by taking the "Christ" out of "Christmas", but its use dates back to the 16th century.

Another article reads:
First of all, you have to understand that it is not the letter X that is put into Christmas. We see the English letter X there, but actually what it involves is the first letter of the Greek name for Christ. Christos is the New Testament Greek for Christ. The first letter of the Greek word Christos is transliterated into our alphabet as an X. That X has come through church history to be a shorthand symbol for the name of Christ. Source:
So Xmas also means Christmas , its got a beautiful history behind it, so chill. People back in 16th century wouldn't have used it if it was sms lingo.
16th century. Hmm. It just struck me that this was also the time Shakespeare lived. Going by his work and especially his characters and their soliloquies, it is very unlikely that people of those times would actually think about using smaller words or concepts. 

In other news, I had hatched a master plan to put up an exclusive Christmas tree for the IT department of our office. With the help of some friends, we achieved a beautiful outcome and here it is.

This could be the last post of 2013, and so here is wishing all my readers and to everyone who stumbled upon this page and cared to leave comments, criticism and suggestions, a Merry Xmas and a joyous and blessed New Year 2014! 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Between Leya and me.

This short story, the first in its genre I ever attempted, was published under 'Fiction' in the November issue of the popular emagazine, Tamarind Rice. 
It is naive. It is amateur. It has got gaps and potholes. I accept all of its flaws and any criticism with utmost modesty and respect. Thank you all my readers who were my Boosts and Complans all the way!

I lost my ability to see beyond the bars. The big black bars of the cell I was detained in. Every other sight I could see was marred by these bars, which held my mind captive within the darkness and loneliness of its four walls. The walls were the hostile witnesses to the fear, guilt, tears, loneliness and regret of prisoners over the years. The sky that changed colors and the moving clouds were the only changes that happened in my otherwise standstill life. I was not sure whether it was the gallows or a life sentence for me or whether one day I will get to go home only to be ridiculed forever. My lawyer came once in a while and often left unsure of my case. I ate, drank, and stared at the sky.

It was an old but well known prison that held women offenders. Often it has witnessed the arrival and quick departure of the famous. Once a day, we were allowed to walk in the prison ground and adjacent garden. I saw a lot of women in a similar plight as mine, depressed and weary. They hardly spoke or socialized. On many days I saw the beautiful lady with sparkling grey eyes and a huge tattoo on her arms either talking to herself, or sometimes even hesitating to come outside her cell, for that break we could be human beings and not zoo animals. Nobody talked to her, nor did she talk to anyone. Days passed.

I had nothing to look forward to. I did not know what was ahead of me. My husband died eleven years ago, and I have no offspring, in short there was nobody waiting for me. My parents had written me off the books when I married against their wishes.

If it was the gallows, I could prepare myself for it. But my life lay in the passive, discolored corridors of the jail, hooked on uncertainty. Suddenly, the inkling of the lock and key blared into my ears from the deafening silence. I turned around. I could not see the person in the adjacent cell, but someone had occupied it. It was the only cell that was closest to mine.

“Hello… “I started my conversation, my first self-initiated conversation in months.
I did not expect any response.

“Leya here”

I was delighted.

“How long here?” I inquired.

“You came after I did..” Leya said matter-of-factly.

“Eight months since I came..” I remembered.

Leya had a sweet, young voice. That day at recess, as soon as she was released she walked to me. I felt her desperate need to talk and be understood. It was not money or luxury or even love that a person needs…it is a certain someone who can listen, without being judgmental. She had murdered her senior colleague in an act of defense as he forced himself on her one night at the workplace.

That guy had a good lawyer and things turned against her. She was all of 25. I could almost feel her pain, and how she had longed to share her feelings. And I narrated my story, the story of my life as a nurse and on the fateful night how I messed with the dosage of a medicine and the man lost his life. I was sentenced on grounds of medical negligence and murder. She nodded.

I started looking forward to the recess during which I could be with Leya and walked around the prison garden. She had everything – career, love, money and happiness. The world turned upside down when on one night she had to work late. She did not have any intention to kill him, but it was that fatal blow she struck with the vase. Other women looked at us sympathetically, as we talked but never approached for anything. Nobody else in the prison preferred to talk to me, and avoided me like plague. However, I dint care much.

A week later, my lawyer emerged. He was seen talking to the security and duty policemen and pointed at me. He exchanged glances with the policemen as they talked to me. He said my trial was scheduled that week and any time he may come to take me to the court room for the proceedings. Sadness, anxiety and fear had become alien emotions. Over the eight months, I had turned into stone. The lonely life, aimless existence and the tomorrow that may not exist – I welcomed these to my life. Few days later, I was asked to follow the lawyer to the prison entrance and from there we went to the court accompanied by police. One of the prison policemen testified that I was not normal in my behavior. After the proceedings the judge considered my age and ‘mental stability’ and severity of the crime I committed and sentenced me to the mental asylum for six months. I did not understand what exactly was happening or why I was being treated for non-existent mental disorders. I followed the policemen and asked them a million questions but they refused to answer. I was escorted back to the darkness of my cell.

As I walked I turned to look at Leya, as I knew she’d be anticipating the judgment from my trial. However she was not there. All other inmates were in their respective cells. I asked the police on duty,’ Where is Leya?’

‘Leya, who?’ he asked neglectfully.

‘The one in this cell…with the tattoo’. I said pointing to her space. On hearing this, Jeena looked at me from her cell in surprise.

‘There was nobody here’ he said coldly.

‘The grey eyed lady, with the tattoo on her arm…’ I continued.

‘I said there was nobody here! Now stop dreaming and take your belongings! Fast!’ He screamed.

I walked to my space, confused, and started packing my things. Jeena’s eyes followed me.
May be this policeman did not know Leya, I thought. I turned to look at Jeena, pointed to Leya’s cell and gestured to question Leya’s whereabouts.

Jeena continued to stare at me in shock and suspicion.

‘Now don’t tell me you don’t know her”, I was annoyed by her unresponsiveness.

Jeena said, ‘Yes. I knew her. Three years ago, before she hanged herself to death in this cell, I knew her. Leya, the grey eyed girl with the big tattoo.’

I stood there, flabbergasted.

Jeena continued. ‘Leya was the name she called herself. Her actual name was Janice. Janice George. She came here roughly ten years ago. ’

Janice George, the lady who murdered my husband.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Christmas tree I could not have...

To say the least, I get very intense around Christmas. I am bossy and I will have my way by any means. I will be on my toes most of the time, overbearing and highly intolerable, assigning duties to everyone including the toddler. Rest of the year, I am exceptionally sweet, lovable, modest and down to earth. I do not know how others perceive it though, as very often I am mistaken to be carrying over the Christmas code of conduct for another eleven months, but as we all know everyone has the right to judge and I exercise my right to ignore.

When I was younger, artificial trees like we have now and tree ornaments existed only in the homes of NRIs so we satisfied ourselves by decorating the fern plant from our garden. After my marriage I made it clear that in the month of December there will be a Christmas tree in my living room, at any cost. And so it happened. We had shifted to a different country, Oman, in year 2010 and had minimal furniture and vessels, but Christmas tree was certainly there (going by my unwritten rule). We still have the same tree carefully packed in its box resting under our bed cabinet, fresh and very usable, almost as good as new. However I am known to be extravagant and quite a wasteful spendthrift around Christmas…Oh did I not mention that earlier? It is the complete opposite of what Christmas really means, due to the obvious fact that baby Jesus was not born in Breach Candy hospital. So despite having a very usable tree, I went Christmas tree shopping.

Day 1: We went to the Lulu(supermarket) near our house and found the most amazing tree ever. But then a voice in my head said… ‘Hey! C’mon you should know better…you cannot possibly ‘like’ the first tree you saw…don’t you want to check those at Home center as well and make a wise decision?’ Of course, what was I thinking?
My favorite tree from Lulu

Day 2: We went to home center and found the most expensive trees not worth a single penny.

Day 3: We went to Sultan center mall and found trees from the 18th century. So Lulu tree it is…My favorite tree…here I come..get ready and pack your bags!

Day 4: At Lulu, I was told that my favorite tree was sold out. I yelled crazy. ‘We could check in the other Lulu right?’ I consoled myself (In Middle East, there is a Lulu in every corner).

Day 5: At the other Lulu, my favorite tree was there. Three of them on display, and others were in boxes. ‘Brother, please pack this item, we don’t have time to think ’I said. Whoosh! We almost flew home in excitement.

Day 6: The tree stayed in the box.

Day 7: The tree stayed in the box.

Day 8: Midnight: I opened the box and set it up. It was the ugliest tree of the entire Christmas tree collection in the history of Lulu. The damn sales guy packed the wrong tree.

Day 9: Complete hysteria. The car sped towards the Lulu that spoiled our lives, with the box of so-called tree, its bill, and a temper that had gone ablaze. The sales guy apologized and confessed that my favorite tree including the ones on display was sold out from there as well. We came home sailing in our own tears.

Day 10: I dusted my tree from 2011 and lit it. It took more time as I had to wipe tears in between. My son thought that putting up Christmas tree was some sort of sad ritual wherein one remembers dead forefathers.

At the end, my tree looked something like this. Not so bad eh?
My Christmas tree

Lessons Learnt:

1.      When you find something you like, buy it immediately. Do not wait to compare, especially seasonal stuff like Christmas trees, mangoes and watermelons. Cunning and ruthless people are waiting like wolves to grab what you wanted so dearly, I am telling you.

2.      When you buy an item, open the box and check it at the store itself before heading for home. This does not apply to milk and eggs.

3.      The intensity of your greed to buy something you already have is inversely proportional to your chances of owning it.

4.      When you put up Christmas tree, do not cry. Do it to create memories for yourself and your kids. If the kid does not give a damn of your precious and beautiful tree, it is most likely you are raising a boy. The male species develop such annoying indifference to all things beautiful at a very early stage. In this case as early as two years and five months of age.

Merry Christmas everyone! Hope you guys find your perfect tree!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

My Call Log...

Nokia 3310
The first person in our family to have owned a mobile phone is Mummy. Since no one else had this prized gadget, and calls from land line to mobile were expensive, it took her a year to learn her own mobile number and how to answer a call (as there was no scope for trial). However it served as an accessory – which is also one of the primary reasons for this purchase. It shifted focus from the beautiful hand painted pallu of her sari to the gray rock that was Nokia 3310, which she held proudly in her palm. Considering the size and weight of that handset combined with Mummy’s quick temper and my innate talent of annoying almost anyone, I was always at a risk of that thing to be flung at my head. Well even if that ever happened, this sturdy phone would continue to function normally and promptly continue to receive messages (if any) about my demise.

In another year Mummy’s colleagues woke up to the wireless revolution that was happening outside the gates of their college (and their minds) and started buying mobile phones. I have a strong doubt whether they all took mass decision to buy their own weapons handsets to defend themselves just in case they got into a scuffle with Mummy (which was very likely). Mummy is such a gadget freak, that she changed her handsets as often as gas cylinders got replaced in the kitchen.

Nokia 1108
 I got my first phone when I was in my final year at college, year 2004. Since everyone else had phones, and also the queue behind the land line at hostel was much longer and horribly intolerant than the one outside the foreign liquor shop, it became more of an emergency. It was also a must-have for the continued functioning of Papa’s eardrums and soon enough, the Nokia 1108 came home. The screen on it had a white display, which was a distinct feature compared to other phones of those times.

Most of my friends had the Nokia 1100 which had yellow display. In comparison my phone and its display looked celestial during power cuts at hostel. And I bragged about it to my phoneless friend, “Look at that Nokia 1100. The display looks like it fell in a pile of shit.” And she agreed. Well I am not sure whether she put up with my observations and dirty comparisons only because there were rats in her room and hence had to sleep in mine.

Even though we were not allowed to bring phones to college, I carried my sleek and beautiful moonlit equipment in my purse on a silent mode, as if I was expecting business calls to come from Singapore and South Africa. Well silent mode was renamed college mode, and although this renaming facility was available even in abacus I loved to pretend to be a gadget guru who knew inside out of mobile phones. Guess what, I knew how to rename phone profiles! Well at hostel if I wanted the girls on the first floor to know that I own a mobile I had to put it on full volume and threaten my friend to give missed calls every now and then and act popular among other girls. It’s funny because nine out of ten boys at the men’s hostel dint know my name and hence I was not sure who I was trying to convince and what. And that one guy who knew me was the lab attendant (who gave me water when I was about to faint at the Carpentry lab) who also stayed at the men’s hostel.

Soon after, I landed a job as a fresher trainee at Technopark. As a trainee my stipend was Rs.7500 per month, and my extravagance was inversely proportional to my income. Often I had to beg or borrow from Papa to pay my credit card bills. Stealing was considered undignified back then. It was also at the same time when Sony Ericsson phones with polyphonic ringtones and 2 megapixel camera became a hot trend. They were a rage among youngsters. The guys at office went on clicking and showed off their ringtones in atrocious ways. My phone started looking like that thing which Charles Babbage invented while a T-Rex roared outside his window. There was absolutely no comparison. The complex was stifling. The Sony Ericsson phone I had my eyes set was priced at Rs.12500. It was the K750i.

According to Warren Buffet and his ideologies on handling finances, if you want something with all your heart the entire Universe conspires to get it for you, and this suffers a horrible delay, during which you need to borrow from someone and buy it. That month when my salary arrived I withdrew the entire amount, hesitantly accepted a fund of 5k from Mummy (usually I don’t accept charity, it hurts my ego you see) and bought the phone.

Next thing I knew, I was clicking crows, coconuts, shoe laces, earthworms, ants and butterflies. The sms ringtone was so loud and dramatic that it gave our housemaid a mini shock whenever I received a sms. My show off knew no boundaries. I opened and read smses (which usually came from BSNL about their new talk time plans) like it came from Ranbir Kapoor. I placed it on dining table when I had dinner, lest I’d miss out on some multimillion dollar business deal. I plugged earphones to it and listened to music during my travel in office bus while my friends chatted away and had a great time. At office I turned around and asked ‘Do you have a Sony Ericsson charger’ in such an accent so that people who still owned Nokia 1100s took notice, and grew jealous about my monster gadget.

However this was the phone I used the longest. Bigger and better phones came and went, even parents Sony and Ericsson separated, but I did not fancy any other phone than my own. I used it almost five years. Five years! Five years is a really long time even for marriages these days, during which Mummy changed at least seven mobile handsets in my knowledge. The owners of the shop which took her used phones and sold new ones to her became millionaires and they opened another branch in Dubai.

Back in my hostel days, we clicked photos of us girls displaying our mobile phones like we were its brand ambassadors and some other pictures which had us pretending to talk on calls. When I flip through those albums I cringe in embarrassment. God! There cannot be anything cheaper than this. Let not anyone find out about this album, God, please. The day my son finds it, will also be the last day he calls me ‘Mom’. So that is the second thing I should hide from my son. The first being our wedding reception album which was shot by some cheap photo studio guys who edited our pictures and made me and my husband look like lepers.

I am a pro in misplacing things, but not the best in hiding.

Wait. Where is my phone? 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Dreams of desire!

Ever since Apple Inc. released the Iphone 5s, it’s been a hard time for people to manage Apple fans at home. Hardly a year since the gadget guru bought an iphone 4s, now it already looks like a floppy disk to him. Can anybody there justify the astronomic price of this thing? I mean end of the day, one has to cook and clean the dishes too, right? Yes I am very old fashioned and I do not understand electronics. I am only a Computer Engineer. I wouldn't be any different if I did Electronics. Anyway yelling, pleading, begging, convincing, and confusing him has finally made him postpone the crazy plan to buy it.

Last weekend, we went to our usual hangout, a mall. We came to the mall after visiting a friend, so we missed the usual mall entrance and ended up parking outside the mall where a lot of other vehicles were also parked. Hubby was not happy. “This is not a good place”. He sulked. And I was like, “Nothing is there in this car to steal. Unless someone wants Aaron’s diapers”. He parked there hesitantly, and continued to be disturbed by that decision for some more time.  I couldn't care less.

Inside the mall, there was this expansive gadget store, and my hubby walked straight into it. Well, he’d end up there even if he was sleepwalking or just plain blindfolded. All the other stores in the mall including the food court are completely invisible to him. To my utter dismay, there was an iphone 5s on display, around which a few Apple fans swarmed around, holding breaths and hee-hawing like it was Sunny Leone. Behind them, hubby joined and waited patiently to get a glimpse and blessings from His Highness The Iphone 5s. I went all ‘Oh my God’ and threw my hands in the air.

Next morning, he said, “You know, I had a dream last night… That I bought the 5S! It was so awesome!” with an innocent grin. I admit that it was really cute. Basically, these are make-believe dreams intended to get me to say “Awww… sell the 4S and go get it honey Muah” but after five years of marriage, fortunately, better sense prevails over drama.
“Really!.. Enthu manoharamaaya nadakkatha swapnam (What a beautiful impossible dream)” I said.

Later by evening, we got into the car to go somewhere else and he said… “You know yesterday I had a dream that someone broke into our car and stole our stereo set?”

“Ha..that's because you were worried too much yesterday about parking the car on the road …”

“May be… ya…probably that’s why…ya you are right…” he said doubtfully.

“Don’t worry, each of our dreams have something to do with our worries…It happens” I consoled him and added a gyaan for a punch.

“mmm…hmmm”..he said, and continued to drive.

There was much traffic on the road but nevertheless, I continued to shoot questions.

“What else did the thief take from the car? This ipod? “

“ Huh? I don’t know…” he said, eyes fixed on the road.

By that time the car was moving at a snail’s pace. One of the cars had broken down in the middle of the road. The police was there. Other vehicles were redirected. Some people even got out of their cars to see what was happening thus blocking others with their vehicles and there was a huge commotion.

“Then, what else happened in your dream? Did we get it back?” I asked coldly.

No response.

“You should pray before going to bed to avoid such dreams!”

No response.

 “You told me you dreamt about buying the 5S na? Then again you dreamt that someone stole car stereo? How can you have two dreams like that? Were they separate?” I asked.



Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The sari checklist

Sari brings out the ethnicity and beauty of Indian women, say men for obvious reasons, and others, who haven’t worn one yet. It really ‘brings out’ certain things which is basically why everyone vouches for it ;-)

 I look up at my Mom in utmost reverence when she says very casually that she wore a sari when she was pregnant, and traveled in buses.  Please note, that the stairs in buses those days started at the same level as one’s stomach, and it requires a certain level of acrobatic skills to get into one. Working women those times were trained to overcome such physical challenges.

Then came my generation when saree was worn just once a year, on Onam day. And it was such a pain in the a**. Now I am not the leather jacket wearing Marlboro smoking woman, just a normal girl brought up in a conservative family, and still, I feel that way about a saree. Because when I go for a meet up with my friends I quickly slide into a jeans and a top both of which have never been near an iron box. And when I go to church, I slip into a kurti or a churidhar, which has been under the iron box because hey, we go on Sundays and there is plenty of time!

If you are a saree fan and you wear it regularly, you may not agree with me and even say ‘Look at Vidya Balan!’. Because for Vidya Balan, there are people to choose a saree, stitch the blouse, and wrap it around and style her as well. All she has to do is to get on an air conditioned luxury car, go and sit on some premium leather sofa, smile at media and then go home. If I were her, I would wear a saree on every single day.

Situation: If you are a new age woman you may not have as many sarees as other dresses. So based on the situation you need to choose one. One, which was not worn before at the location in question. One which was not seen before by people who will be attending it. For example, you have a beautiful black saree which you saved for such an occasion, and you get to know that some oldies from Kerala are also attending the same, that's when emergency strikes. Elderly people will thrash and curse you for turning up in black on a good occasion. Depends on how tough your skin is. 

Blouse: Today you wear a blouse, tomorrow morning it may not fit you. Today cap sleeves are in; tomorrow it is a three fourth sleeve. Today you wear a low cut blouse; tomorrow you get allergy pimples on your back. Today it is in the same color as the border, tomorrow it changed due to sweat/sun/fungus. Today it looked good, tomorrow it looks like a wash cloth. Today the beads were in place, tomorrow you may have to go search in that auditorium. You get the gist.

Climate: Hot summer wedding. India. Any saree. Somewhere in the choli ke peeche or in the chunari ke neeche you may feel like you are about to explode.

Tummy consciousness: There are women who are confident in a saree. They walk around like nobody is looking at them.  I envy such women. Others like me, who are self-conscious by birth, don’t pull off a saree too well. In an attempt to hide the tummy with a pallu, and the back, and checking the pleats, or the 54623789 safety pins, we may have missed out on the main event. And if there are stretch marks, God help you!

Accessories: This is as inevitable as the blouse itself. If you regularly shop for accessories, you may find one which can go with any saree.  For others, there are three options available. Beg, borrow or steal.

Footwear: The saree often calls for a pointed heel to go with it. A nice pair of strapped heels. It adds a certain tune to the way you walk. It changes your look and lifts you to a completely different level. You need to master the art of walking on those, otherwise adjusting the blouse, safety pin, hair, hiding the tummy etc can keep you busy. Also if you fall or twist your ankle, you will be back to where you were, before being elevated to another level ;-) . Faltering and limping on high heels may send out an embarrassing message to onlookers.

Posing: This is again applicable only to the tummy conscious. Saree day calls for posing sessions, during which you need to pose by turning left, so that the fully covered right side faces the camera. If this pose makes you look physically challenged then you need to go with the flow and threaten your friends to not post that picture on Facebook.

As a part of Diwali celebrations, we are wearing saree coming Sunday, so I wrote this post for myself, like a checklist.  If any of my friends are reading this, please do not hug me when I am wearing a saree. I will not be responsible for any safety pins that may come between us.

Image courtesy: Google.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mind your language !

The day sms came into existence is also the day the English language was abused and slaughtered to death. Until then humanity was fine with grammatical and spelling errors, and other mistakes which does not fall into these categories but you could find them on my English answer sheets and on this blog :-/ On my answer sheet I messed up all the tenses and teacher marked them in red . But on this blog, you will not see any red, but if you are a regular reader, be aware that your proficiency in English is dying a slow death ;-)
(Just factually joking, please visit again)

There are people among us who were educated in regional languages in school. The struggle they went through when they were in college and further pushed into a corporate environment was definitely huge.  So when these guys speak English they may make mistakes but the good thing is, these get auto corrected in the long run. I admire such people who had to make double the effort to get at par with convent educated counterparts. This is however, not about them.

 It is about the ones who were born into houses which had Wren & Martin in them.
I use ‘4’ for for, and ‘u’ for you in smses and facebook. But would I use that slang when I start a business of my own and print brochures? No. And trust me; there are people who do that. When we were children, we grew up in a time when English was just English and there were no separate versions to it. Well there was Shakespeare but let’s not go into that ;-)

 So we could associate our English lessons with language we used in real life and get the gist of it. But nowadays we have converted Basic English into a mockery of signs that it makes me terrified of how and what my toddler will learn as he grows up. Like right now I am unable to write a sentence without a smiley in it :-o

Children always learn from the tune of the times. For example my two year old knows angry birds but not any normal birds; I mean the ones which are cool and not bumping into pigs. So trends define our vocabulary. I know parents of teens who are horrified after discovering an entirely distorted language in whatsapp and chat windows, thus murdering effortlessly and brutally what was once the medium of poets and great authors.

I was even more horrified to see a non-Indian mother at a mall in Dubai who was searching for her teenage son, and later found him at a store staring at something. She went ‘Why don’t you just f****** tell me when you go somewhere?” Can you blame this boy who will eventually grow up talking like his mother?

 I cannot fathom people who think it is cool to write in sms dialects while advertising their ventures on facebook and twitter.
‘Hey dudes and dudettes out der…wud u luv to hav som heavenly chocolate mousse or cuztom cakez at ur parties and functionz? If yez den luk nowhere, u’ve reachd de rt plaze! Chk out our yummyliciouz brochure and start makin ur orders rt away !

How seriously would you consider this venture, or this person?

I am not perfect that way either. On whatsapp, I type Malayalam words in English font. Because I feel writing ‘meen curry’ instead of fish curry brings in a certain flavor  :-D.  And Mummy thrashes me for it. ‘Why did I even send you to school! Either talk in Malayalam or in English !’ she argues.  Well, she has lesser worries than me. If not for English, my other option is Malayalam, which is fair enough. But for my son, besides English, he has various options to choose from.  One for chat, another to send messages meant to be deciphered by his friends and another to write essays in school. 

As a parent, dz dat leav moi wid any optn?  :-o

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

In All Fairness...

These days’ fairness skin products are so rampant in our markets that it is impossible to find a lotion that does not make you fair. Name the part of the body you wished was fairer, and BAM! You have a lotion that will exclusively take care of that. Our society accepts only fair skin as a symbol of beauty and even success, so you better make it fast!

Click on some Indian matrimonial websites and you can find atrocious ads for doctors and CA’s looking for ‘fair girls’. Basically such ads give away the message that if you are a female and have no education, or a brain or you have a loud temperament, or a criminal record, or your brother is Ajmal Kasab, or your mother is a suicide bomber, or your father is Bunty Chor that is completely acceptable as long as you have fair skin. Fair skin sells faster than fairness creams.

Naomi Campbell. Whenever one says something about her, the specification that she is black is one that is inevitable. “DESPITE being that”, she went on to become a supermodel. However when we talk about Anne Hathaway or Kate Winslet, do we explicitly specify that they are white? No. Because black skin is like a birth defect. Whenever they talk about Nandita Das, Bipasha Basu, Konkona Sen Sharma, it is specified unambiguously that DESPITE their birth defect, the dusky skin, they are STILL successful. This does not apply to other ladies, as they were successful deservedly. Well, can we not mention it and omit these STILL’s and DESPITE’s? Does not show business also belong to them by their own right?  

If you are a Malayali, you will know the reality show called ‘Midukki’ on channel Mazhavil Manorama. One of the contestants who made it to the last stage was widely criticized for her complexion. If you open her facebook page you can see people who’ve made comments like ‘Hey, I like you even though you are dark’ and so on and so forth. Nobody can stop themselves from making a comment on her complexion. People, there are other things she is famous for – she is smart, petite, creative and immensely confident on the ramp. But all we can see is her complexion and sympathize with that. When will we ever grow up? Or will we? Or do we derive some sort of pleasure from making comments like this? C’mon, this girl is proud of her complexion, ya!

Most of us Indians are often busy criticizing our own daughters and relatives and nieces and nephews on their looks and complexion by belittling them in some way or the other. In one of the interviews, Tamil actor Dhanush said how a movie critic insulted him about his complexion in the first paragraph of the latter’s review of his Bollywood debut ‘Ranjhanaa’. Dhanush also said that he had grown up fighting these comments and had taken them in his stride. This is undoubtedly the secret of his success.

Recently, an extremely fame deprived Hollywood newbie, whose name I don’t remember (or not worth remembering) called the Obamas ‘dark and ugly people’. This could have been a publicity exercise for her, but seriously if I were Michelle Obama I would have sent her to Mars. It teaches us an important lesson - even the Obamas are not spared. This, therefore, relieves the pain of millions of dark skinned people who are insulted every minute by National television channels that air fairness cream ads and promote the blasphemy that success and happiness comes only with fair skin.

Right now when I am writing this, scores of angry Americans are on their boiling points, indulging in cyber harassment over crowning Nina Davuluri of Indian descent as Miss
Nina Davuluri
America. And I saw a lot of comments linking her to 9/11. This again is a question of the skin. And we all know what happened to Oprah Winfrey at Switzerland.

These are racism incidents caught on camera and sensationalized by the media.

 Once I was at a birthday party, sitting in one corner and minding my business when a colleague’s wife came up to me and said:

 ‘Hi Anita, I met your sister when I was at Chennai”

Me: “Oh ya she told me...”

“She looks exactly like you”..

Me: Smile.

“But she is fairer than you are (with a thank God kind of expression)”

That landed on my face like a dead lizard. I mean, what am I supposed to do about that? Do I or should I care if my sister was fairer? Some women have complete darkness in their heads. 

I was not shaken by that comment. Because, I know that even the Obamas are not spared.
These attitudes will not change, as long as movies and other media continue to showcase it as it is now.  It will continue to haunt young and adolescent minds and deprive them of believing in their self-worth. The change can come. It starts from home.

Dark is beautiful. 

P.S: This article was published in the popular emagazine Tamarind Rice, and you can view it here :
It came as a huge surprise, I was not expecting my article to show up in Tamarind Rice, seriously ! 

If you like it, you can vote for it here: ( I already did, well, obviously ;-) )

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