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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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