Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I created a record of sorts this morning. I flagged down almost sixteen rickshaws and none of them would ferry me to my office, which is a good three to four kilometer away from home and should ideally fetch the guy a good bauni i.e. the first income of the day. My office is in a commercial hub and it’s not like these guys would end up stranded without their next passenger. Maybe there was an outbreak of swine flu in the area and these guys got wind of it. But that was the least of my troubles. Because my office was close by, by Mumbai standards, I never thought of keeping a ‘buffer time’ in a situation of getting late. Considering this I started walking towards my office and I met all these sixteen aforesaid good Samaritans on the way. But it was not long before I reached the half way mark and realized that I didn’t had enough energy left in me to do the remaining half and now with even lesser distance left to travel I was afraid to ask a rick driver lest getting ridiculed by one. So the only option left for me was to trek the remaining distance. And when the boss asked why I am showing up late I said there was a rick strike (is this not a strike or what?) and I had to come walking all the way. Look at all the brownie points I stand to collect as a model employee whose commitment and sincerity made him walk the length of the Great Wall of China to reach office. But this post is neither about how often I have to walk to office nor about how arrogant and ill-mannered the rickshaws drivers are (my brother would love if I could throw some mean words on this spineless tribe). Let’s isolate the rick drivers from the scene and focus on the one other thing that happened very prominently this morning, which is something I am sure you would have experienced in your life as well. Being “rejected”- does the word or feeling sound familiar? Yes sir, it does.

In the evening, after I reached home and yes I got a rick this time because surprisingly they had called off the strike, I thought that this was not the first time I got rejected or for that matter ‘we’, but yes in my case I did set a record of sixteen rejection in an hour and maybe that’s why I was so pissed off. There are other negative feelings that we often encounter: failure, deceit, hatred, disappointment, frustration, enemity, jealousy. So is the feeling of rejection grave enough to be put up on the wall of shame? The answer is both Yes and No. ‘YES’ because though rejection by itself is an effortless process the person who gets rejected stands motivated to do great harm to the others. And ‘NO’ because ‘No’ is the basic expression or tool to convey the decision of rejection. Sometimes this simple ‘No’ is accompanied with such contempt and disregard from the other person that one feels humiliated and is provoked to do harm. Like some of the rickshawallas who looked at me with disdain and reacted as if I was asking them to hand over the map of Eldorado.

If you look back in time you‘ll see a lot of instances of rejection in life, some outright funny and others painful. You wanted to go play with the kids in the colony but mom thinks you are better off sulking at home; rejected. You fancy a toy in the shop but dad won’t let it come any nearer than that; rejected. You want to take a piss but your teacher thinks your bladder can hold it right there until her class is over; rejected. You want to watch an English movie but your friends think you are a prude and you end up watching a Tamil one; rejected. You propose to a girl, she likes your courage but not you, rejected. The foreign university you applied to saw through the lies in your ‘statement of purpose’; rejected. You apply for jobs but none of the companies can spare a desk or even a chair for you; rejected. Your manager thinks you can’t get your own work done leave alone others, there goes the team lead position; rejected. The bank decides that you don’t earn enough to use their credit card to make merry and so is the case with the personal loan, rejected. The consulate is not convinced that you are going to return back from your so called ‘training assignment” in the US and stamps your passport as – REJECTED.

So why does it hurts to get rejected? As human beings we would be contented if we could get all things done by ourselves and in the way that suits our liking. But however healthy, strong and intelligent one might be it’s impossible to get all your needs fulfilled just by yourselves. Else we would have all created our own operating system and Bill Gates would be just another guy staring out of the windows. And this is the basic premise of living in a society. We are dependent on others to do certain things for us. This dependency creates a sense of insecurity because we are not sure if the other person can really understand our needs and whether he would be able to deliver it on time and according to our specification. This sense of diffidence is very strong and coupled with the fact that the other party has the freedom to say no to your request results in a very anxious and disturbed individual. And when the counterparty does say ‘No’, it’s the sense of shame, failure and deceit which makes the experience a bitter pill to swallow. But there is more to it. It also greatly depends on what value do you assign to the outcome or the proposition. For example getting an admission in a foreign university would mean more to you than being allowed by your teacher to go take a piss. A lot of times we unconsciously start dreaming and relishing the fruits that lie at the other side of the bargaining even before the coin has been tossed. We become so foolishly arrogant and naively overconfident in our daydreaming, forgetting that there are always two sides of a coin, and when fates calls our bluff our ego takes a fall into the gulf separating the real world and the dream.

So what should we do to not get rejected? Same as what you would do to not get killed today. Death is another form of rejection, from the powers above that you are not allowed to go about doing things in this world. First of all, and this is the most important one, stay away from places where there is certain rejection and no two way to it. So if there is something that is surely beyond your reach and a certainty that it would remain so then don’t stretch your hands for it. Just like you would stay away from a gun battle, provided you have got nothing to do with it, for not getting killed. The enlightened ones among us would say that this suggestion is a pessimistic one. One should always reach for the stars and beyond. That brings me to the second most important point, however easy an event might look or however well prepared you are to enter the contest, where the power to say Yes or No or to influence the final outcome rests with another individual there is always a possibility that after all is said and done you might have to settle for a No or a rejection. So go reach for the stars, maybe beyond, go for Krypton but then don’t think you are Superman. Always give due thought to the possibility of rejection and not the certainty of success. So you have realized that you are not Superman and that there is an equal probability that things might go wrong, what else can you do? Increase the number of mutually exclusive events. You apply to ten universities for admission rather than just one. If your father is not ready to buy you the toy then ask mom, if not her then there is granny. If you can’t become a Team Lead in this company go look for another job, another company. If this bank doesn’t issue you a credit card try it with another bank. If you can’t go to US try UK. As the chicken would say it - don’t put all my eggs in one basket.

Now some of you might say that you can do things or not do things to not get killed but what about a freak accident or getting run over, where you have little say in the proceeding. So it’s like somebody might reject you even before you could do something about it or to influence the judgment. Let’s face it then, if you are born then you have to die. So as much as you do, you will get rejected once in a while. So it might happen that tomorrow the very first rickshaw I ask will agree to ferry me to office, will save me the pain of walking and the humiliation of getting rejected, but once in office it might happen that my manager would tell me that he does not require my services anymore and yours truly gets laid-off. There is no escaping rejection. That’s why I am putting it up on the wall of shame. Sayonara.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Animals are beautiful people

The only guy who was kind enough to give us a dekho at Bychulla zoo. So we thought of paying back in kind by posting him here.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Incredible India through my eyes- Art of Kulfi making

Before Baskin Robbins arrived with their thirty one flavours and before Naturals started serving tender coconut and sitaphl, there was for sure the humble Indian ice-cream. This edition of Incredible India salutes the very nature of Indian Anthropology called "Jugaad" and serves to you, from the labyrinths of Chor Bazaar, Mumbai, the long forgotten technique of making ice-creams. Lest we go biased with words, we thought of telling this story through pictures.

Animals are beautiful people

We were really in for a surprise when we saw this guy at a family friends house. He has been with the family for nine years now and given their life expectancy I suggest many more decades to go. Bhuji and I are planning to get one ourselves. Long live the beautiful people and the people who love them!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Vagina Monologues - A Review

I know the first word might make many of you wince once or twice. But as the actors on stage said, this discussion will either liberate you , shake you or rejuvenate you. Well... I fall in the first category, I felt liberated after watching this play. When 'WHO' took me to watch this play at the Comedy store in Phoenix mall, my bro-in- law who had watched it 2 years ago told us "life would not be the same again". I need to confess I imagined it to be a sex comedy by some lewd men. After all we love sex comedies dont we? with overtones and undertones they masssage our alter egos. What we hate is reality. Hence, movies on domestic violence and rapes dont run as much or mint money as Woody Allen's Husband and Wives would.

The posters of Vagina Monologues told me it was performed by five women and not just any women, women I was so accustomed to seeing in saans bahu serials and ads of Aashirvad atta. There they sat in front of me and spoke about an organ I was so ashamed to mention to my inner self. I have often heard men take pride in their lower self ( their Johnnies) no wonder you find lot of exhibitionists around. I wonder if you ever found a women whistling and shoo shooing a guy to expose her vagina ( I bet that's many men's fantasy) but it never happens. This play unfolded the 'dark secret' the reason why women wont do it. We feel so inferior about our lower part ( Our little Janes)that when the actors asked us to shout the word vagina many of us refused. We are after all conditioned to believe this is not to be talked about and many of us dont even discuss about it to our own mothers let alone the men in our life .

If you ask me what nudity the bunch of five actors spoke I would say tonnes of it but it changed my definition of vulgarity. They told me something noone had before. They told me I need not feel ashamed of who I was and my vagina was not my weakness anyone could invade, it rather was part of my identity. It was my pride and I could decide how I lived with it. I did not have to adorn it to please someone because I was not born for that alone. I was exposed to stories of women who were so worried decorating their vaginas to please partners that they wanted to believe it was not a part of their body and was an external device that could be detached.I learned I need not flaunt it around but my vagina has a lot of reasons to make me proud.

I suddenly realised I had never spoken about the V word to anyone except my gynaec that too embarrassed. And here I was sitting among a niche crowd understanding why I hate the 'V" word how I am happy I am not judged beautiful according to it. We women never chit chat on ' does size matter or not like many men" because deep within ashamed we are ashamed. We are told not to sit split wide open as it sends wrong messages. We are told to hide our panties under a towel because we should not attract men who whistle at our balconies lest even steal nice ones. We are told any violation that happens to our 'V' intentionally or unintentionally disgraces our family names. And imagine the burden we carry on our shoulders from the day we learn this.

But what many of us dont realize is the mutilation of vaginas occuring in this nation as much as Africa. The pouring of acid and chilly powder into the vaginas of uncouth girls and sex workers who complaint ailments. What we do not know is soldiers shoving down their rifles into the vaginas making a women shudder when she pronounces the V word.

I cannot understand a man's fascination to a part of a female's body for which he torments it and creates a scarred female mind.

What I do know is that everyone out there has been very close to this so called dirty part once in his life and no human being can deny his longest journey through the birth canal ended at a woman's vagina. I wish every pervert remembered this and every individual respected it. Then why would this team be boycotted from performing in many places suggesting their theme improper.

Why does sex when discussed by women become vulgar and men makes it literature? Why is Shoba De misjudged and Khushwant Singh applauded ?I know it sounds feminist. Definitely it is my vagina talking.

N.B- No comments by perverts will be tolerated but they will be published for the world to read .

Monday, September 6, 2010

Incredible India through my eyes- Tea shop

Tea was never a favourite during my formative years at home. Though it used to be in demand from Don; Bhai and I were brought up on a healthy dose of Bourvita and later Boost. But once we stepped outside the cocoon of our home, it was not long before tea became manna of life for me. I would not say it was not addictive as cigarettes, gutka or booze but rather it was devoid of all the taboos associated with enjoying one of the former ones openly with friends. An innocuous statement as “let’s have tea” would not unfold itself, into a solemn discussion or a trifling, until the first sip had hit the lips. Our favourite hangout was Mama hotel, but we never took a seat at the place, always stood on the curb, sometimes with purpose otherwise just reminiscing. With our fingers folded, across the glass of tea, we felt empowered to take on the world; sometimes it was just a quickie otherwise across many servings.
Times apart my addiction still goes, and so is Don’s. I remember waking up at five in the morning, during our stay in Kerala, and walk a mile to the only ‘thata kadah’, that opens at that time to serve people like us. No problem if the milkman is still asleep, we will have it black. Hundred miles across, in Mumbai, we walk a similar distance to get our daily dose of evening tea. No thanks, the tea from the office coffee dispenser will not do.

We dedicate this part of Incredible India to the humble tea shop. The genuine ones, where the guy would prepare the brew in front of you, on a wood burner or LPG, with milk and water all going in fresh and the aroma just so entrancing that you wish it would touch your lips soon. Take a trip across the length of the country and you would find one of this in every village, town or city. Once, on one of our early morning cuppa in Kerala, Don pointed my attention and asked me to decipher the clicking metal sound coming out from a water filled tumbler at the tea shop. Puzzled and not in my senses at that early hour I gave in easily without much care. He said that the tea guy will place a coin inside the water tumbler and once the water starts boiling the coin would start dancing inside, making the weird noise against the tumbler. This lets the guy make out the water is boiling without even opening the lid. Smart, huh!
I am sure that there are such tea provisions in other parts of the world, especially our neighbours, but the larger world is devoid of the good sense that the tea shop brings to a being. I am sure the west can relate to it through their pubs and cafes but again we have them too. This is over and above them. When you don’t really have the time to sit around lazily, don’t have the bucks to pay for the cover charge, you need something to go well with your puffs and when you really need to take a tiny tiny break or just want to go for a walk and muse over the world passing by, you look for a tea shop.
Such is the reach of the humble tea shop that it has bridged times, distances and cultures to become an imprint on the psyche of our everyday life. That’s why every time I go back to Bhopal, Justin would still always suggest, “Let’s have tea”. And I know it’s just the perfect beginning to whatever is to follow.