Friday, October 22, 2010

TV-ation Gap.

From gaudy make-up to fashion faux pas,
Predictable story-lines to jarring music scores,
Flabby protagonists to hideous looking heroes,
High voltage melodrama to migraine-provoking twists and turns!

Like brain washing of the third degree, these Works of supposed CREATIVITY have been hammered into my brains till there was room for little else. I did not choose, simply because there was no choice!

Welcome to My World! A world marked with permanent clashes. What may seem like a normal conversation may soon engulf into a full blown battle. Where there’s a diarrhea of words and constipation of topics for discussion. The focus of our banter begins and ends at the same point.

Alright, with no further ado, let me introduce to you the protagonist of my household drama…without whom life seems almost unimaginable, unthinkable and undreamed of. The nucleus of my house... The one and only, His Highness ‘LORD TV!’
There’s one particular question that just struck my mind… “Why do people sit and watch serials?” err…actually, “How do they manage to accomplish this indescribable feat?!” Well, on second thoughts, I guess my Grandmum will be at the forefront to answer this million dollar question. Personally, the influx of TV channels has been a ‘curse in disguise’. With a potpourri of channels to choose from, variety no longer seems to be the spice of my life. Forget the fact of grasping and understanding anything, TV has simply been an answer to my I-am-bored and I-have-nothing-else-to-do syndrome.

Right from my kid hood, my Grandmum has been living in with us. Well, with regards to issues relating to the TV, it’s been hard-hitting. It’s not once, that we haven’t fought for the remote. Each one of us lingers around until the commercial breaks, so that we can juggle between Sun TV and VH1. It’s almost like opium for the two of us.

Quite recently, while I was in one of my unexceptional I-don’t-know-what-to-do moods, I decided to spend some ‘quality time’ with my Grandmum. Well, mind you, ‘quality time’ had got to be watching some stupid Tamil soap opera with her. I wasn’t really keen on doing it, but well, I thought I’d take a shot at it anyway! Oh boy, it was a blunder! A big time blunder! What ensued surpassed even the wildest of my imaginations. Right from the start, I was knocked for a loop! Imagine, a 3 minute title song, showing the entire family singing and dancing in a garden while the camera zoomed in and zoomed out of their faces! Gosh! The family members weren’t even a tad good looking. So ogling at them was not even the last thing on my mind. Fortunately, I had missed around 752 episodes and I was more than confident that I would not understand a word. But to my despair, I did.

Five minutes into the serial coupled with my Grandmum’s nonstop running commentary in the background, I concluded that all these serials revolve around a structured storyline. Backstabbing; Mothers-in-law and Daughters-in-law arguing over featherbrained issues; Over-the-top violence, where at most times the *dishooom-dishooom* failed to co-ordinate with the hand and leg movements; Random pregnancies, generally lasting for over 9 months- well, the story lines are implausibly predictable. If a woman vomits, she is ought to be pregnant. If they focus too much on people traveling in a car and being saccharine sweet to one another, a fatal accident is just two episodes away. If two people are happily married, it’s understood that a courtroom scene zooming in on their divorce is just about 75 episodes away. Oh yes, the serials are peppered with casual scenes of stray characters vigorously popping pills into their mouths from a bottle which is clearly labeled as ‘POISON’(in case the viewer gets confused).

However, these serials which are anchored to melodrama and fuelled by kooky twists and turns are thoroughgoing entertainers. They do tend to get on to your nerves very often, and at times, coerce you to wonder whether we, as audience members are at our ‘Progressive Worst’ or ‘Regressive Best’?!

But, on the personal front, though I cringe to see these brain-destroyers on a daily basis; I do experience this peculiar sense of blitheness when I see the glow on my Grandmum’s face, the minute the clock strikes 9. It’s her only aperture to the outside world and, if four hours of absolute gobbledygook succeeds in giving her another four hours of food for thought, it isn’t a raw deal after all.
As they say, “If life gives you lemons, make a lemonade out of it” – likewise, even

I, being a victim of circumstances, have learnt to cachinnate and poke fun at these otherwise stereotypical, tear-provoking serials. Trust me, it isn’t that hard!

Mumbaichya Local Trains

“I’ll be holding one bag, you hold this one. Shove the bloody mobile phone into your bag, you moron. You just stick to me. Don’t you dare release your hand from the handle. Don’t dream! Don’t...” she repeated for the hundredth time, emphasizing on the word “Don’t”. She was none other than my bossy sister who claimed to be a more seasoned train traveler than I was. Unfortunately, she was right!

Even after these unambiguous decisions, she continued to eye me warily. There was no missing the threat in her eyes lest I disobey her. I glanced around imperturbably, as if what I was about to do was an everyday affair. I hoped I looked confident because I was wobbly from within. I was not the least bit ready for my first journey in the ‘Sardine filled cans’, aptly termed ‘‘Mumbai’s local trains”.

The din was deafening. The swarm was maddening. The ‘aroma’ of stinky armpits was unbearable. Yuck! I felt as though I was trapped in a vortex that was sucking me in. “Aah!” Someone was standing on my foot. I tried to turn to face the person who was inflicting such pain on me, only to hear an old woman garbed in a burkha yell, “Chikni…Zyada uchal-machalna mat!” Huh? ‘Chikni??’!! eeww! In the interest of peace, I apologized to her and went back to my original position. Phew! Turn left or turn right… there were women and only women all around me- blaring, gossiping, bitching, wrestling n discussing issues as extraneous as a 25% sale in the local sari shop…Oh yes, there were inestimable groups of assorted Bhajan buffs, who not only peppered their journey with the audio outburst, but also insisted that the rest of the unenthusiastic co-passengers join them in their spiritual expedition. The melodies had striking resemblances with apna Himesh reshammiya’s dinchak bollywood numbers! Grrrrrr...!! The entire atmosphere was claustrophobic!

To add to my miseries, there were hawkers and beggars continuing their everyday routine. Shucks! Their marketing strategies were impeccable! “Pardesi pardesi.. jana nahinn…”coupled with “Dus ka teen..dus ka teen..”-ideal mishmash indeed! After turning, rotating, revolving, spinning, whirling, spiraling-- it took a ride in a Mumbai train to make me realize how supple the human anatomy could be!

What ensued did not match my wildest imagination! As soon as the train halted at Kurla station, all hell broke loose. People went bananas! Their civic sense went astray in thin air as they charged towards the train like a famished man would towards food or a rapacious tiger towards its quarry. I realized that to get in and out of a Mumbai local train, it required impeccable expertise, perfect modus operandi, doggedness and most importantly, awareness about some universally used ‘gaalis’ to counter attack!

Soon, the train started slowing down near Chembur station and we multiplied our efforts to arrive at the compartment's door. Within seconds, the train halted on the platform. Again, two apparently unbending forces -people wanting to get out of the train and people wanting to get in -- tested their immense vigor against each other. Trampled between their aspirations was poor me. I had no insight as to what I was doing or where I was going??? If it had not been for the uneasiness, I would have thought I was some kind of a ‘V.V.I.P.’, enclosed by people whose sole objective seemed to touch me. Suddenly, I realized much to my dismay, that of the many souls breathing on me, none was the recognizable face I was supposed to ‘stick to’.
I jumped out of the train, still holding on to my bag and looked for my sister with utter desperation. I could not spot her. I was entering some kind of a stupor. I found myself suspended on top of a few people. “Idiot, who the hell told you to leave my hand?” Unquestionably, that shrill wicked tone had to be my sister’s. The earsplitting pitch petrified me and I was forced to behave myself. Finally, with a lot of pushes and punches, I managed to come out of the horde. Seconds later, I found myself standing breathless on the platform. Hah! Finally, I heaved a sigh of relief. I felt as though I was released from captivity after being subjected to 3rd degree torture! My hair and clothes were scruffy, but I was super happy. Still holding on to my bag, I raised both my hands in the air in triumph. Everyone was staring at me intriguingly but I did not bother. They had no trace of how proud I was of myself. I had successfully completed my first journey on one of Mumbai's crowded locals!!

Wooppiieee!! :)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Evade? Kerala.

I’m on my first ride in a local ottto rickshaw in a tiny village in Kerala and 2 minutes into the journey, I look the first micro-mini fluorescent lungi on a hairy macho man, I’ve ever seen in the eye. SCANDALIZED!
Over a lovely weekend in God’s own country, I realize that Kerala is much more than just nariyal paani, elephants and the backwaters! The tables seem to be turning with the hands of the clock. Or so, one week into my sojourn, had me believe it.

Lesson 1: Fresh gajra and drawn eyebrows are food and shelter for all the keralite bombshells- only to be checked out from hair strand to toenail, by the testosterone charged and estrogen starved hairy-lungi clad chettas. Mind you, the situation remains the same, even if they are clad in a burkha.
Now, it is debatable whether the ‘macho men’ act in supreme public interest or are merely going public with their self-interest.

Lesson 2: History alas, is in the unmaking in this ‘blue state’. Blue-because of many reasons- with plush dams and seas on one end of this ville, scintillating posters of well-upholstered girls in tube tops and low waist shorts live up to the Bluedom! That it is scandalizing bears no repeating!

Lesson 3: Pose a question to them in English, they are sure to reply only in their lingo, leaving you back to square one. For once, I could derive some sense of what Raj Thackeray has been patronizing out here. “Endha Chetta?”

Lesson 4: Now, the names Unni Chetta, Sandhosh, Usha and Pooja are as common as Chang in China or Ali in Arabia.

Lesson 5: At corner shops, they sell you amazing coconut oil-dripping banana chips, after proudly assuring you that it’s the same place where Mamooty makes his daily purchases. The photo frames in the background stand proof to the same.

Lesson 6: They retreat for a siesta every afternoon, shutting out all prospective distractions, no matter what. But, this siesta is pretty much justified as they stuff their faces with a five-course meal, Payasam included.

Lesson 7: On rain-splayed afternoons, they sip on freshly brewed filter kaapi, with their colourful lungis folded knee high. Aaah!

Lesson 8: The roars of laughter that follow their hour long discussions are testimony to the irresistible Keralite charm- the ease with which life here follows a pattern that’s at once sleepy and zestful.

Lesson 9: It’s easy to lose yourself in Kerala, this slice of 21st century India that cherishes its past, despite the traffic jams, unsolicited socializing and lewdness, meterless ottto rides, lethargic attitudes even.

Personally, this land of mouth-watering nariyal paani, made me wish I owned a house there, on a tiny island where all everyone seems to do is eat fish curry and rice and sleep. It made me dream of chucking my job, setting up a beach shack and selling coconut-oil dripping pancakes and idlis--all at my leisure of course!

P.S: The above observations may smack of exaggeration, no doubt; but the riotous colours, the kitsch motifs and the peeping toms are for REAL.

CMYK toned memories.

Past perfect. Future tense.

There’s a certain kind of Mumbaikar YOU meet every now and then…someone who freezes in a particular time frame.

Think of that man YOU saw in the Sulabh Sauchalya. The ONE with the side-parting a la SRK; shiny shirt with the mobile forming a neat rectangle against chest; and flapping trousers--busy collecting Re.1 coins--All day, Everyday.

Or, think of that woman YOU bumped into in the 9.46 ST local. The ONE selling ‘sulekha kaajal’ and ‘just chill lip balms’- indistinct face and unimpressive frame-distinguished only by her ‘strategic marketing skills’, competing head-to-head with the MBA grad folk.

But wait a minute.
Have YOU even passed a glance at THEM? Or even thought of it?
Noticed, that there is a voice behind THEIR café-au-lait complexion and under-the-ordinary sense of style?
Have THEY existed ever, even in the fringes of YOUR consciousness?

It’s one of those things. Like the rotary telephone dial, Campa Cola and cyclostyle machine, it’s very, very difficult to imagine that THESE people ever existed and in reality, exist even…in some nook and corner of the city.
Instead, WE have blatantly chosen to talk into them rather than to them.
But even as creationists continue to argue that evolution is claptrap and a white-bearded god made the world some 6,500 years ago-the truth is that even today, WE are busy evening out the odds in this hyperactive-nuclear powered world of OURS, adopting adaptation.

History, alas, is in the unmaking!

In a dream-vending city like ours, even a dog without teeth manages to attack a bone. This practice of multi-marketing has hammered the first official nail in the coffin of so many jobs, so many dreams.

As neo-converts, WE are fast relearning what WE want and how to get it- not just at home but also in schools and the IITs and IIMs; at the paanwallah who also sells recharge cards; at the chai stall that also houses condoms; at malls and multiplexes where the government has permitted licensed vendors to sell booze…anything more would be the last straw on the camel’s back.

But amidst these social hiccups, Mumbaikarism-like tossed salad in a bowl-has allowed some particularly leafy characters to sprout.

THEY don’t necessarily choose to be different.
But, they just end up making a different choice.

THEY aren’t necessarily outstanding people.
But, place them in a crowd- STAND OUT, they surely will- amidst the other cookie-cutter moulds.

THEY don’t necessarily exist in our minds and in our ‘people-to-meet’ schedules.
But, co-exist they do.

THEY aren’t necessarily the people you look up to and aspire to become as a juvenile adult.
But, then again, THEY wouldn’t be THEM if YOU too, decide to join THEIR ilk.

The barbed wire that holds THEM back is THEIR desire to survive…the desire to be treated as EQUALS and not mere PREQUELS. This is in spite of knowing that THEIR existence is going to be short-circuited sooner than later.

Because at the end of the day, THE kaan saaf karnewala, THE raddiwalla, and THE baatliwalla- are like the tadka in our garma-garam dal, the adrak in our chai, and the lasoon chutney in our vada pav.
WE could all do without them…but life wouldn’t be so chatpata!

when SURVIVAL becomes the way of life.

An hour long train ride from Victoria Terminus, just past the railway crossing at Vikhroli, is a dilapidated concrete structure covered in half-torn posters variously advertising a Marxian utopia, films for red-blooded adults and bedroom advice for couples intent on children. Inside, in a tiny, dank room behind a desk, sits someone the entire legal clan knows by the name of ‘Blind Advocate’. Vibrant, giggly and at 33, the possessor of a faint fuzz above his upper lip, this is Advocate Munir Tisekar: a Master in Political Science and a crusading Criminal Lawyer by morning and ‘Teacher uncle’ by the evening.

Behind this dingy room, next to a garbage dump, is a gate that opens into Tisekar’s home. Rows of children, arranged in differently facing rectangles, sit under blue sky and spare shade with mostly quiet concentration, some squinting hard at their copies, others squinting hard at their neighbours’. In the middle, in overflowing black trousers and a white cane in hand, stands the headmaster, shouting instructions, even as Class I, the squiggly rectangle in the distance, insists on giggling loudly and playing with dirt.

It is THIS house that took Munir over twenty years and six jobs to turn into a home. With every second interview blackened by Munir’s absent retinas, it was an ordeal to keep switching jobs and switching ambitions, while feeding his family basic daal-chawal. For someone, who was born with a hearing and limb disability, which later manifested into a complete loss of sight due to a glaucoma attack at the age of three, Munir continues to believe that he grew up better off than his own parents.
Born and initially bred in the unnoticeable ‘Furus’ village in Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri district, implied that he lived with four siblings and parents in a thatched room made of brick, the size of the average city kitchen. He was better off also in being the son of Dawood Tisekar, a turner at ‘Premier Automobiles’ and class II dropout, who initially paid heed to his neighbours’ claims that his “laadla beta” was cursed and had no right to be educated and taken care of. Thus, at an age when his peers were chanting their nursery rhymes and soiling their uniforms, Munir was just about getting used to the feeling of loneliness, both visually and in reality. What he saw was what he was forced to believe.

It was in the year 1982, when the silver lining in Munir’s clouded existence came to light. It was in this year, Munir’s elder brother Khifayat completed his tenth standard with a first class. For Munir, this news was nothing short of a jashan. Both, Ammi—made ‘sevaiyya’, and stone-pelted jamuns and aams made it to the dinner table. It was thereafter, Munir’s family took flight to Bombay with bag and baggage, where they were lodged in a 14 feet-20 feet tenement, won through MHADA’s lottery system. With shifting, came the need for a few chairs and other functional furniture. It so happened that the Tisekars hired one visually challenged carpenter Kutumb bhai for this job, who ended up becoming Munir’s knight in shining armour. Incidentally, during the course of fixing furniture, Kutumb bhai and Munir began discussing random, trivial issues. It was at the end of this two-minute long conversation, Kutumb bhai was left aghast by the fact that Munir did not attend school only because the Tisekar parents believed that he was “Allah’s cursed child”. Instead, he spent all his time in stargazing, metaphorically of course. Thus, Kutumb bhai, who could empathise with little Munir’s woes, convinced the Tisekars about the need of primary education and directed them to the ‘Victoria Memorial School for the Blind’ in Tardeo. Thus, at the age of eight, Munir began reciting rhymes and echoing the 26 alphabets.

Soon, armed with the English alphabet and bustling confidence, Munir turned into an over-month star, compeering the Independence Day and Republic Day programmes and piling elocution competition prizes. History and Civics were his strongest points, while his Mathematics’ score was always highlighted with a red mark. Despite this mixed bag of events, the ‘class elections’ in the seventh grade, remain Munir’s fondest memory. It was during this massive election campaign, Munir was pitted against Mr. Popular of his class, the self-proclaimed ‘angry young man’ Kedar. That Kedar would win hands down was an established fact; but Munir’s adolescent ego was not ready to let go. Teaming up with a few of his trusted aides, Munir also campaigned aggressively, while resorting to unfair means more than quite often to attract voters. “We bribed them with canteen samosas, pepsi cola and in a desperate bid, proposed to complete their homework as well,” adds Munir with a childlike innocence. Eventually, after locking up Kedar in the bathroom during the main election campaign, Munir managed to garner a majority vote and made the class representative. This coronation not only pampered his ego; but also, gave him one of his closest friends, Kedar.

It was at the end of the seventh grade, Munir and Kedar shifted to the ‘Raja Shivaji Vidyalaya’ within the ‘King George School’ campus. Here, for the very first time in their lives, the duo had to survive amidst the ‘normal’ students, who spoke about ‘trigonometry’ and ‘calculus’, while they were just about scraping through addition and subtraction. The canteen’s ‘hot dogs’ continue to make Munir’s mouth water, even at the end of two long decades. Back then, spending five rupees on it implied a long walk back home, which the duo chose not to mind. An occasional Rs 10 would also go into buying Brijwasi’s nail bed-licking malpuas.
While, things were running smoothly, all hell broke loose in 1992-93 during the ‘Babri Masjid’ riots. Living in a Hindu-dominated area, survival had become an unanswerable question. With a mosque being burnt down right in front of their tenement, the Tisekars decided to head back to their village, until tempers cooled down along with their burnt shrine. But, shifting implied that Munir had to bid adieu to Kedar and the school’s canteen. Though difficult, Munir was left with no choice. But, after a year’s stint in the village, where he continued his education, Munir came back to his dreamland, where he was re-admitted to King George School.
Once again, exactly a year later, Munir had to decamp from school; but this time around, it was after scoring a distinction in his SSC exams, to join Ramnarain Ruia College, where he thrived for the next five years. Ruia College, according to Munir, was his jannat, where he was not only christened ‘Mr. Blue’ on the ‘Pink and Blue Day’ in college, but also managed to make a life for his visually impaired friends. Apparently, during those years, Braille books were not available for students after their tenth grade, making it extremely difficult to keep pace with the lectures. It was then, that Munir approached the college authorities to seek help. But the college in turn, blamed the management for the lack of funds, compelling Munir to take stock of the situation. Armed with a college letter and a white cane, Munir walked straight into the Managers room of Philips, India, who in turn, donated ten tape recorders. This led to the birth of the ‘Self Vision Centre’ in Ruia college, which now boasts of an entire floor in the college campus. This according to Munir, was his first milestone in life.

By the end of his junior college, Munir felt the need to earn while he learnt to support his family. It was then that he noticed a locked PCO within the college premises, which was left to rust. This gave him a brainwave to revive and restart the redundant PCO and make a quick buck through this self-employment scheme. Back then, before the onset of the Mobile-generation, Munir managed to rake a lot of business. During his lectures, his otherwise domesticated mother, attended to the callers. Back then, the college sponsored the bills, making sure that their ‘blue-eyed boy’ completes his education. But now, at the end of one decade and a role reversal, Munir has donated this newly renovated booth (with six telephone lines) to a school friend, who like him, is visually impaired. Munir pays his bills and attends to his needs, in an endeavour to give back to the society.
Apart from the phone booth, Munir also dived into the business pool, where he dealt with almost every second consumer product- right from phenyl, brooms, washing powder to rubber stamps even. He even assumed the role of an insurance advisor at ING Vysya, where he was suspended for not achieving the targets. After floating and almost drowning through this entire lap, Munir decided to pursue a degree in Law, in spite of his parents’ jibes that “Nobody will approach you anyway!”
The next three years, he only understood legal jargons and memorized article sections. Immediately, he was hired by the Human Rights Law Network as a Criminal lawyer, where he still continues to work in the mornings. Initially, however, nobody approached him or assigned him with any task, fearing inefficiency and errors. But, the acquittal of one Fatima Bano, gave him the much needed boost. Though it was a very small case, it was his first claim to fame in the office, which was celebrate with chai and bhajiya. Soon, he managed to secure Bails for 17 B.Ed. students, which not only motivated him but also managed to attract him to the profession of helping people. But, there have been times when he had to give up on cases owing to his disability. It takes him thrice as much as time as a ‘normal’ lawyer to draft the documents and record statements. Though it tests his patience at times, he believes that the reward of liberating someone overshadows his plight.

But the biggest day of his life was August 16, 2006- a day that Munir captured on camera and continues to advertise in his phone booth and wallet. It was on that day, Munir met his superhero, the Badhshah of Bollywood, Shahrukh Khan himself. While recalling the BIGGEST day, Munir’s face lights up. His eyebrows begin to dance and his eyeballs pop out. “My friend Keith was working as an Assistant Director with Sajid Khan for his movie ‘Hey Baby’. The whole world knew that Shahrukh Khan was my favourite actor and that I had watched ‘Dilwaale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge’ over 20 times- thrice in the cinema hall and the rest on Sony Max,” he says, while his cheeks turn crimson red. “It was then that Keith personally requested Shahrukh to turn ‘reel’ity into reality. Shahrukh agreed immediately and sent me a personal invitation to meet him at Film City. Inshallah, I was walking on clouds,” he adds. What followed is evident from his ear-to-ear smile and the walled photo frames.

The lawyer-cum-headmaster’s next dream is a meeting with the Big B himself. He dreams, too, of being given a red carpet entry to the Filmfare Awards and the Oscars too. But that’s for later. If imagination is a resource, then Munir Tisekar’s dreams are rolling in the stuff. Hope is the currency in which it trades – and in each laughing face of a liberated client and every enlightened student.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Wanted BRIDE, from a respectable family, professionally qualified, able to understand and appreciate life, caring and affectionate, believe in open and committed relationship with interest in music, books, sports, movies and food, God fearing, home loving, domestically trained, fair complexion, beautiful, slim, modern outlook, for Chi. Swaminathan Iyer [AKA Sam], MBA, working as Associate Vice President, drawing seven digit salary per annum, clean habits, Wt. 90kgs., Height. 6’1”. Born on 07-12-1983 at 9.04 p.m. in Mumbai.

Voila! I guess I’ll fit the bill, leaving aside a few requirements that is!

Having old-almost deaf-with one foot in the grave-relatives can be a major curse in disguise! They are the ‘all-knowing’ and if a girl is 21 and is a graduate, she ought to get married and soon, be in the family way. The reason being: “My last wish is to hold my great-grandchild in my arms! I don’t think I’ll cross this year!”

Pardon me for the glaring grammatical errors, but well, I stumbled upon this ad in some matrimonial website whilst ‘Groom hunting’ for my more-than-eligible-spinster-sister!

The entire ‘Ebay-esque groom hunting’ is fascinating-unbelievable, actually! In case you are on the lookout of some baseless entertainment, make sure you check out random profiles that have people making a buffoonery of themselves! The impeccable engliss and the goddarn photos of the self-proclaimed hunks and beauties, will make even the dullest of days super entertaining…personally, I feel like Megan Fox at the end of the entire ordeal! [For a few minutes at least!]

Now, leaving the entire entertainment factor aside, the entire concept of online hunting is very superficial indeed. I know it is working wonders in the Indian wedding market, but if you happen to mull over it for two minutes, don’t you think the entire ‘legal human trafficking’ [an over-exaggerated version of what I’m trying to convey] is inane and almost insane?

How on earth can you decide if any ‘eligible Bride’ can ‘understand and appreciate life’? It sounds more like an ad to promote Baba Ramdev’s yog asans!

Personally, I judge life by the moment. The days I have early morning lectures, have to put up with mum’s running commentary, have noisy and nosy guests for dinner, have 30 bucks remaining in my pocket- life seems crappy, and ‘appreciating it’ wouldn’t even be the last thing on my mind! While on the days when I watch a romantic chick-flick; watch Federer slam Nadal; gobble down yummilicious mum-made Palak paneer, get ‘big’ birthday presents - life is a Dutch truffle! So, this requirement is baseless.

And for Christ’s sake, what does one try to indicate by ‘fair complexion, beautiful and slim looks’? Isn’t it ‘racism’ at its best? Why don’t people make an issue out of this? And what the hell do you mean by beautiful? Shehnaz Hussain owns a beauty care company. She is a lot of things, but beautiful is surely not one of them. Creepy is!

What if five years down the line, you suddenly develop ugly wrinkles and uglier dark circles and ye, tubes of ‘Fair and lovely’ don’t seem to work? Please note that Sam [probably with two pack abs of flab] actually has the nerve to hunt for a ‘slim’ girl, only to be christened the ideal Mrs. Laurel and Mr. Hardy!

I can actually go on and on about every godforsaken requirement enlisted there. But for the sake of retaining my sanity and sanctity, I choose not to.


Growing old…Growing up?

04: 51 ST

Pudheel station wadala.

Agla station Wadala.

Next station wadala.

Location: THE window seat (in the direction of the train) on board a not-so-crowded local.

Well, pretty clichéd a setup, I know. But well, I love clichés.

Sitting on THAT coveted window seat in the train with phone chords plugged in, is by far the best mental stimulator. From churning out new excuses for being late for class, to making life-changing decisions, this has been it.

Okay, cut to the very beginning.

Yes, the setup is perfect and the train isn’t swarming either. So there’s no room for bottom pinching, molestation and its likes. No ‘aunty gossip’ to distract me even.

But for me, distractions have always been constant at every stage. My history teacher will also sing along in chorus when I say so.

Okay, today, one lanky teenager manages to grab my attention in this VT-bound local.

Actually, the 20-odd pairs of earrings he has in a ‘cardboard shoebox’ do the needful.

Almost as a ‘response to stimuli’, I look around to my right, just to make sure that I see no ‘known’ face.

After preliminary investigations, I gather the courage to call out to him.

Now, as theatrical as it may sound, I actually get flashes of the same setup, the same ‘lanky teenager’ and the ‘same pairs of earrings’.

Coloured flashes.

Even back then, I looked to my right- but only to get some ‘peer advice’ on which pair would match which outfit.

Yes, yes. Everybody goes through the ‘matching-matching’ phase. So did me.

Purple kurta-purple danglers-purple wooden bangles-purple chappals.


Pudheel station cotton green.

Agla station cotton green.

Next station cotton green.

LOCATION: An inch closer to the window, with aunty-number-nine managing to fix her derriere on the eight-seater.

Earrings dikhao, bhaiyya.”

“Bada wala 20 ka. Chota 10 ka, Medam.”


“Hey, babe! Wazza?”

HOLY HELL! Did I just hear what I just heard?


What on earth is she doing here?

Within seconds, the known squeaky voice turns into a known face.

“Um..Hey! What’s been up?”

The plastered grin isn’t unnoticeable.

By then…

“Bhaiyya,nahin chaihiye!”

“Medam, lo na!”


Unsurprisingly, the conversation with Miss-known-face doesn’t quite gain any momentum even after grave attempts.

She happens to be one of my “Hi-sup-nm-u?-same ya-ok-gtg-bye” friends.

Nay, not just on FB Chat. In reality even.

After a series of questions based on the most-known-facts and after exchanging numbers (read: conversation extenders), she vanishes.

Very soon, I forget known voice-turned-face, but can’t quit thinking about the earring-wala and the purple danglers he had.

Two years ago, selecting-bargaining-buying-and flaunting, was so kewl and a huge deal--the talk on the foyer table, the next day.

But today, I actually brushed him off to make sure I wasn’t caught red handed.

Huh? My train of thought accelerates at 180 miles/hour.

TRIVIA: Thoughts travel faster than Mumbai’s locals.

Soon lo behold, I make a mental note of ‘kewl-turned-unkewl’ things I used to do and actually be proud of:

1. Beaded bracelets (read plural), over-sized bangles, almost-shoulder-touching danglers was mah style. Girly and mature, I used to think it was.

2. I haven’t missed a single episode of Ekta Kapoor’s ‘Kyunki Saas Bhi kabhi bahu Thi…’ in the first year that it was launched. NEVER.

3. Vivek Oberoi was THE man. My knight in shining armour. With three posters pasted on my room wall and one on the ceiling, I can’t recall even a single day when I didn’t picture myself in place of Rani Mukherji in the song “Saaathiyaaa… Saaathiyaaa..!”

4. My kinetic eye candies back then had to be the ‘Math tuition boys’. As lame as it may sound, I don’t have memories of even attempting to make conversations with the other species, as a school-goer.

One school girl seen smiling and talking to some random tuition boy= haw, she’s desperate!

5. Fuck, bastard, asshole, bitch…were words that weren’t even part of my imaginary vocabulary. IDIOT was it.

And ‘non-veg’ jokes were taboo. “Aiyyo, sheesh! What poor upbringing!” I’d yell.

However, this doesn’t imply that I’m a pervert NOW.

6. A virtual wannabe, I’ve always been.

But the only difference now- I’m keeping pace with the times.

Year: 2007.


About me: Ma name’s reetika. m a sweet gal. I luv ma familee, ma frndzz n ma lyf.

E-mail id:

Scraps : Hiieee, wazza ?

Wad ya upto girlie?


You’re getting the drift, nai?

I was a rawkerr, mahn! \m/

Pudheel station VT.

Agla station VT.

Next station VT.

Goodness, only 2 more minutes to indulge in retrospection!

Damn it!

I wonder when, how and why did I condition myself to portray the role of the socially-enlightened-- contemplating whether what I do, will be okay or not. Mum calls it “growing up.”

But on days like today, with the earrings-wala around, I wish I was the good old ignorant wannabe, I was proud to be--a time when embarrassing situations ensued only on ‘report cards’ and I could just be ME.


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When my socks don't stink, my feet are in my mouth.

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