Thursday, 20 December 2007

Some days are diamonds, Some days are boulder-sized stones!

Is Lord Voldemort lurking close-by? If there is any truth in fiction, then I can almost sense his presence.

For nothing else explains this sudden bout of terrible weather in Bangalore. What used to be a bright blue cheerful sky less than a day ago is now dark and gloomy, with a heaving bosom. The drizzle has turned colic, without pausing to catch its breath even once. Everything is just so cold and gray and unsettling.

And nothing else can explain this sudden bout of unnecessary drama in my life.

PART I
Reached my workplace completely drenched on a day when CEO was down from Delhi on an inspection tour.
Greeted my dress code-conscious CEO in my gym pants.
Went on a hurried shopping spree to buy decent clothes before the evening review meeting. The overpriced kurta was much appreciated by the receptionist: “Aah, lovely pattern, very similar to the new bedsheet I bought the other day. eeeee….same material too!”
Turned out to be a waste of investment as the CEO didn’t turn up in the evening.

PART II
Drowned my sorrows in a slice of garlic bread (yummy-but-bad-for-tummy size Tomato Brushetta, sourced from Cake Walk, 100 Feet Road, Indiranagar), without realizing that it was about to shake my South-Indian Brahmanical household.
“What is this smell?” started Appa, his nostrils twitching, even before I could remove my slippers.
I didn’t reply, as that involved opening my mouth and letting bad breath out.
“Sulphuric acid,” said my dad knowingly, before more wisdom hit him.
“Aiyyoo…this is non-veg smell. Don’t know what lamb and chicken she has eaten,” he cried out.
“Appa, it is only garlic bread, that too one slice” (ok..two!)
“No, you smell of alcohol…have you boozed?” – a new dimension was duly added by my sister, who had, till now, led me to believe that she had 10 years of work ex with sinful friends in Mumbai.
“No! Are you mad?” I shout.
“You HAVE boozed.” she stated with a meaningful full-stop.
Entered Amma.
“What is this smell?”
“Ok, I have eaten garlic bread, so I smell of garlic. I have brushed my teeth twice already.”
“Oh ok.”
Pause.
“But it does smell peculiar.”
“Amma, she has boozed…Vodka, eh?” started my sister again.
“Have you boozed?” Amma shrieked.
“No Amma, this girl is mad.”
“No? God promise?”
And then in a more quivering voice – “Amma promise?”
“Amma Promise. Appa Promise. Shubha Promise. Boss Promise. CEO Promise. Autowallah Promise…. Oh god, I am losing it.”
“Enough, enough….I believe you,” said Amma.
Thank God. Finally!
4 hours later. 2 am.
“Get up, get up. I am not getting any sleep. Promise you didn’t go to a bar?”
“Uff Amma, No!”
“Keep your hand on my head and promise.”
I did as instructed.
Amma went to sleep, while I tossed on bed, cursing Lord Voldemort.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Such a beautifully simple theory

As long as there's God, and couples can make children, why should politicians put in hard work?

Andhra Pradesh Labour Minister G Vinod has suggested that tribals should have
more children to offset the high number of deaths of their children due to viral
fever, malaria, diarrhoea, etc. This advice comes in the wake of several deaths
in the past few weeks in Adilabad district due to various causes, especially
viral fever, that is rampant in the area.

With election season kicking in, I completely trust our Karnataka politicians to make more enlightening observations than this one. Oh, how I will miss them all, sitting put in this cubicle of mine.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

The only OSO moment that made me think...

What's so funny about 'shoving it up your nose'? A bunch of young girls at the theatre broke into uncontrollable laughter when the reincarnated Om, as an arrogant son of a cinestar, made his poor secretary shove an infected thermometer into his nose.
Am I missing something?

Friday, 23 November 2007

I am looking for Someone Special

...Who will locate the house keys for me when I leave it hanging on the door
...Who will dig out my pen, my pen drive, my papers from my purse
...Who will remind me to fill fuel before the tank gets empty
... Who will remind me to carry my tickets when I am travelling
...Who will remind me to carry cash when I go shopping
...AND WHO WILL REMIND ME TO CARRY MY DEBIT CARD WHEN I THROW A BIRTHDAY PARTY!!!

A Special Note: To all the guests who pooled in to foot my party bill last evening (if you are reading this)... lots of thanks and heaps of blessings. May y'all have a great life!

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Birthday Post

"Appa, see the time."
Appa potters groggily to the loo, ignoring me completely.
I try again when he returns.
"Appa, see what is the time?" I whisper, afraid to wake up the dozing household.
His drowsy eyes try to force open before the large wallclock. He peers for a while, then announces, "12:02".
I smile broadly.
Ah! He nods. Realization seems to have dawned on him at last. "Why haven't you gone to bed yet? Every night you wake up and watch TV. No discipline in life at all. And then, in the morning, it will be all rush rush. Nobody can put any sense into you," he mumbles as he retreats into the bedroom.
"Appa, its 12:02 of 22nd," I say weakly as he closes the door.
After 15 long seconds, his door opens again. Now wide awake, and looking adequately sheepish, he sings "Wish you a hap hap happy birthday".
Well, all, thus began a new year of my life.
2007-08: A year in which I shall cling to my twenties with my bare fingers, fight the thirties with my fists, and wish to hop-skip-jump to voluntary retirement age.
I couldn't sleep all night, I was just too excited. Last evening, when Conscience Keeper and I were scouting for silver jewelry he promised to buy me, he suddenly remarked, "Shubha, you take your birthday quite seriously". And my reaction was - Oh Bloody Yes!
Well, I always did, and perhaps still do. When I was very young, my sister used to decorate all the rooms with streamers, my mom worked hard on the menu I gave her two weeks in advance, and my dad would hang little lights and lanterns outside the door and in the balcony to announce the arrival of the Big B Day. I still clearly remember the frilly pink frock (with tiny red dots) I wore for my sixth birthday; a shapes-and-numbers game a family friend from Hyderabad gifted me when I turned seven, the yellow cake an aunt brought home when I was in Class Four, and how heartbroken I was when my mom returned all the gifts my friends brought for me on my tenth birthday party.
Coming to age did no good. At 23, I was on top of the world (and I even remember singing that Carpenters song loudly) when Special-Friend-With-Vested-Interest remembered my birthday and posted a mail that ended with Love, XXX. And the day I turned 25, I wished so badly that Conscience Keeper would propose and profess undying love "atleast today". The proposal came two months later, but the profess-undying-love part is still to come. Atleast today?
Perhaps, as I was explaining to Conscience Keeper yesterday, it has something to do with the festive season. I land up feeling quite low post-diwali dhamaka, and birthday works as a good distraction.
The year-gone-by has been terribly uneventful. I spent the night trying to list down milestones, which turned out to be quite a disappointing exercise. Nothing note-worthy, not even a pay hike dammit! Ok fine, there's a bike, a blog, a few other things ...but nothing big, nothing substantial, nothing remotely sleazy or scandalous.
So now I have drawn up a list of things-to-do before I get another year older.
Here goes:
1. Lose weight and look hot (to be taken up on priority)
2. Read a new book every fortnight (or atleast buy/ issue one every fortnight)
3. Begin writing short stories, and give limericks a shot
4. Make use of my passport
5. Analyse more, describe less. i.e. Think more, talk less.
6. Be a professional social butterfly. Before that, get a social life and some branded clothes.
7. Spend time with girlfriends (and their babies).
8. Be a successful match-maker. Have atleast one success story to boast of.
9. Learn to drive. And make someone else buy a car.
10. Etc.
Goal setting over. Now it is time to party.

Monday, 19 November 2007

I'm a Roadie


God knows, I have earned my new smug look. After four years of being tormented by Bangalore’s insufferable autowallahs, I finally got down to doing what I should have done long ago: Buy a gaddi of my own. Now I am a proud owner of a Dravidian-bottomed Honda Activa.
It’s been three weeks since I climbed onto an auto, and so relieved am I that I have good-naturedly forgiven all the potholes and traffic jams and traffic-rule-breakers and bullying big-car-drivers that mar my 24-km up/down ride everyday.


Observations by the latest roadie in town:

  • Two-wheelers flow like water; they flow to fill in every bit of vacant space in a traffic jam. This means that while cars stare and glare, we, the hyperactive fast-movers are well on our way home.
  • There is also a great deal of comradeship between two-wheeler drivers. We may not be able to see eye to eye, thanks to our steel hoods; we may be small-minded when it comes to grabbing the only patch of smooth tar on a bumpy bylane – but we are large-hearted when we share road space on a congested street. Unsurprisingly, two-wheelers in Bangalore move like a herd of elephants, always sticking together.
  • I fear drivers who make SRK-like entries from the left. I swear at drivers who break into a jhoom barabar jhoom without announcement. I am impatient with slow coaches, though I am not a fast rider myself.
  • I am suspicious of smooth roads, for there will inevitably be a cutesy pothole that will catch me off-guard. Reminds me of me, like how I itch for a fight when all is peaceful.
  • Pedestrians are often stupid. And blind.
  • I find cars with blinding high beam headlights annoying. More annoying than the aggressive marketing types these cars remind me of.
  • I daydream a lot while driving.
  • I also sing. Loudly. Inside my helmet. And sing on till the wind shield turns misty. Usually I hum ditties I learnt in school.
  • I have come to believe that I drive like my dad. Slow, cautious, on the left and religiously maintaining ‘Economy’ speed limits. I used to be far swifter in my khatara Luna I owned a decade ago. Is it because I’ve become old? More respectful of others on the street? More respectful of myself?… I think its because I dread a nasty bruise.
  • I have plans ready for 15 years hence. But when I park my bike outside my gate, I’m plain glad that I managed to live another day.



Monday, 12 November 2007

Star Struck

Always thought myself to be a bundle of contradictions. This explains it. I am, as it turns out, a Scorsagian.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

More on Shopping in Delhi

A completely unimportant list that will bring joy to no one but me :)

Bought from Lajpatnagar:

4 Four kurtas: Sky blue with white flowers, very good for summer but will not wait for it; a plain and rather transparent onion pink to brighten up Mondays; a sober cream cotton with gold prints, most likely to be stolen by sis; another pink and cream with zari work, good fit.
4Two skirts in grass green and Bay of Bengal blue, with lots of mirrorwork in both. Jhataak.
4A yellow and pink kurti with crochet work. Far too expensive, on second thoughts. Bad buy.
4A jar of rasagollas which must still be lying untouched in my uncle's fridge. These acts of courtesy take me nowhere.


Bought from Janpath:
4Huge dumbbells prancing around as earrings, in fake silver with stones attached. Cousin thinks it to be Downright Ugly but beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. 90 bucks.
4Jaipuri patchwork wall decor in bright yellow and green, with shiny golden laces. Very Beautiful. Bargained it down from 2500 to 300 bucks. Emotionally attached to it, but have to give it away as gift to cousin-with-a-new-house.
4Madhushala and Madhubala by Harivanshrai Bacchan for mom.
4Brown and white chappals that my cousin bought. It's biting her already and she is about to disown it.
4Handloom House was too tempting. But sense prevailed and I bought nothing but a kurta.

Bought from Sarojini:
4A gym bag to motivate me. In Black with Nike logo. Almost branded. 140 bucks. :)
43 bed covers for friend, shopped on order. Double bed cover in yellow and orange squares. Single bed cover in sea blue and another in shades of pink. Will lie to her about the number and keep one for my bed. All for 600 bucks.
4Lime soda for fainting cousin

Lesson post-shopping spree: Happiness is inversely proportional to weight of wallet

Tale of cities


My opinion on cities I've lived in has always been stronger than my sexual preferences, or that's what I thought.
Delhi's always been like a boorish boyfriend, a poet with mood swings, heavy and heaving under a heap of history. In contrast, Mumbai was a rocking rock star, chirpy and carefree, with lots of fun and a little sin on the side. However, it was in Bangalore that I found the Suitable Boy, cool, cultured, a gifted seducer from whom it is very difficult to tear away. And all along, Jamshedpur, that provided me a comfortable home, good education and lifelong friends, indulged me like a parent.
But in the last one month I have very much changed my mind. My visit to Mumbai a fortnight ago left me disappointed. Why didn't I notice its tiring lifestyle and tired faces before? And its potholes, flyover-to-flyover traffic and damp, damp buildings? It was like bumping into your ex-boyfriend after years, and wondering what you ever saw in him!
In sharp contrast, I fell in love with Delhi over the weekend. I loved its smell - the rustic coal-burning smell that is peculiar to the northern plains. Its cool evenings, with a hint of diwali in the air. And ah, the shopping. Shopping in Delhi is an ultimate high. I loved the randomness and chaos that prevail in its markets, big and small. The great bargains that end at one-fourth of the cost. The temptation to collect stuff you will never need. No fancy mall in Bangalore can ever, EVER, match up to the Great Delhi Shopping Experience. I almost went maniacal with shopping - Lajpatnagar, Sarojini Nagar, Janpath...even Pandav Bazaar - till my cousin decided enough was enough and promptly fainted.
And now, back in my cabin in Bangalore, I miss it all. Dilli Haat, which I couldn't visit. A joyride in the Delhi Metro. Lutyens Delhi.
And puja pandals of Jamshedpur.
Sigh!

Friday, 5 October 2007

Everyone's Invited


My sister Prabha is holding her art exhibition at Chitrakala Parishad, Kumara Krupa Road, Bangalore from Oct 9-11. To all who are in Bangalore in the coming week, it would be great if you could take some time out and drop in.
PS: Click on image to view invite.

Friday, 28 September 2007

I travelled with Team India, and that's all I did


Why didn't I tell them...
* that India has Won, woo hoo, thank you, and we are a happy billion country
* that Monday's victory marks the end of my curse. That I have never seen India win against Pakistan (that is the curse) and each of India's victories against Pak happened because I forcefully tore away from watching nail-biting last overs and shopped instead
* that I courageously challenged the curse and watched the finals alone in a Coffee Day outlet with strange men for company. And ruined my sophisticated image by uttering non-utterables when Pakistan's sixes went flying
* that I would have died if Sreesanth had not taken the last catch
* that if I was ten years younger, I would have had something other than sisterly feelings for Sreesanth
* that I think Dhoni helping a kid wear his victory t-shirt is far sexier than twirling it over his head
* that the rise of the Pathan brothers has given power and hope to the masses
* that they should have kicked Malik for thanking all Muslims in the world for supporting Pakistan
* that they should have thanked Shaid Afridi for congratulating Indian nationS (we are colonisers, ay)

Why didn't I walk up to them and tell them all this on our flight to Bangalore last night? Instead, I stuck to my seat, made conversation with a bureaucrat, cribbed about flight delays, ate Indian food and...well.. fought 30. Sigh!

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Killer Instinct

I have murder in my mind. In fact, I have even started maintaining a list of those I would like to kill. This list grows each time I take an auto back home.
The latest additions over the last two days:
1. M Manjunath
Badge 41703
DL 313/03
Police SL No: 70216/06
Address: 10th Cross, Bendrenagar
2. Yusuf
Vehicle No: KA02 BR 887
Manjunath is guilty of telling me to step down from his auto on a very rainy day because I dared to tell him that his meter was running at double. And while I stood on a flooded road, minus an umbrella and drenched to my bones, the gentleman gave me a smug smile and sped away.
Yusuf is guilty of abusing me and leaving me stranded in a lonely corner at 9:30 pm, because I pointed out that he had a sneak button somewhere which he uses to shoot up the numbers in his digital meter. How else would the fare rise by 5 bucks with a blink of an eye? (For details, Read Digital auto meter is also not foolproof: Action panel.)
It is a scary thought, but I am finding myself reach insane levels of rage each time I encounter a crook driver. The present run rate of which, I must point out, is at least one a day. As the meter ticks erratically, I imagine stabbing them, tearing their hair, and sprinkling a fair amount of pepper spray into their eyes till they burn and burn and plead for mercy and promise they will never tamper with their meters again.
I am amazed how some people manage to stay calm and composed when faced with such evil. Like Conscience Keeper, for instance. His wallet can be stripped clean but he would not come up with a single bad word. It must have something to do with his previous birth, as TOI suggests. He must have been a flower in his past life, no doubt, while I would have been a ruthless underworld operator who killed for supaari.
Ah! Now I understand it all. What I really, really need to come to terms with Bangalore autowallahs is Past Life Regression Therapy.

Looey Me

I hate dirty stained loos. And I enjoy cleaning them.
I thank God for putting some kind of balance in my life.
(Random thought at the department store)

Monday, 10 September 2007

I don't miss you...

You can't see what I see
But you know about it

Those familiar streets I once tread
Those heritage buildings, India's assets
Dumb caricatures
Of polka-shirted foul-worded Delhi men I still dread

You can't feel what I feel
But you know about them too

When I don't belong, something ain't right
The heat, the dampness, the smog
Chaos and sweat
In the middle of a blank empty night

You can't think what I think
Hah! But then, you know it all

My wanting to shop till I drop
But broke without my debit card
Instead, meetings
Reviews, one-on-one, only seeing new problems crop

I am cities away
But you know so much

Without moving, at your desk, staying put
There is nothing more to share, you are not missed
Curse
The damn Airtel, Gmail Talk and Orkut

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Someone said I look like Mallika Sherawat

Ah, well, well, someone almost said that. I mean someone said I could look like Mallika Sherawat if only I would rework on my wardrobe. And yes, also remain faithful to the aerobics class I signed up for two days ago, so that I could lose some 25-odd kgs and 10 inches of waistline. Since I am so close to becoming a glam doll, I might as well get some discipline in my life.
But life in the gym is not turning out to be easy. The last two days weren't. All those Bollywood hits I joyously listen to on my way to work in the morning turn trecherous in the evening. Especially when I have to hyperactively jump and shake my booty at every change of beat. The guys of course have it worse, considering they don't have much booty to shake, so the next-best-thing they land up doing is move their legs and look dumb. Not that I am faring any better. Despite God's overgenerousity in the right and wrong places, I can hardly whip up a sexy wriggle. Sigh!
Another 27 days to go before I can pick up the pen and write to Ram Gopal Verma. Moi shall wait.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Ah! What a Story!

If you think journalism is made of sweat and tears, you are wrong.
If you think hard-hitting, eye-opening, heart-wrenching, soul-stirring, mind-numbing stories are a result of endless nosing, posing, poking, pricking by passionate, possessed journalists, you are, sorry to say, again wrong.
'Great' stories, (I am increasingly convinced), are made of sassy street smartness.
And as proof, dear all, I present this email I just received.
It is written by an editor of a magazine that targets British women. What Sam the Editor would like as a hot selling cover to shake up dull September is the 'true' story of sexual exploitation and repression of women in backward countries like India.
He has the story. All he needs now, well, is The Story.
And this is how he goes about getting it. (Those in italics are his words, word-to-word)

ON STORY IDEA:
what follows is a brief description of the Devadasi story I'm
working on. What I need is a good local female reporter to accompany XXX in
Karnataka as soon as possible. I'd like to be able to hand the story over to the
reporter, with the following description of what I need, and pretty much let her
get on with it. The following BBC link, despite being a little dull in the first
few pars, is a fairly good example of how I'd like to tackle the temple
prostitutes story -
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6729927.stm
Now we know where he got the inspiration from!

ON THE SUBJECT:
The story will be aimed at a British women's magazine, so the
requirements are fairly precise. I need to find a young (girl or woman under 30)
devadasi or former devadasi who has been forced into prostitution and is
prepared to talk about it and have photos taken. Frankly, the more chilling and
exploitative her life has been, the better the story will be.


Go on, Sir Sam. Shake us.

ON THE CONTENT
While there will be an opportunity to explore the general issue
of Devadasi's, the story needs to be centred around one person and have a lot of
quotes.

The girl will need to explain how and
at what age she was sold into prostitution, when she lost her virginity, how
much money she charged (and how much she kept and who took the rest). She will
need to recount tales of abuse and talk of her hopes for the future. Does she
see a light at the end of the tunnel? Does she hope to break with the Devadasi
tradition and one day get married? And so on... I'll come up with more precise
questions and angles later, if needed. The story will need to be hard hitting.
The more detail and personal recollections, the better.
Oh please, please, let me answer. I was sold at two. I lost my virginity at eight. I am forced to have sex for free. All the money is taken by the priest. No, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. No, I don't hope to break free. No, no one will marry me. I hate the society I live in.
oooo...lovely quotes!

ON TIME TAKEN TO INVESTIGATE THE STORY
I'd like a reporter to start work on the story asap. XXX will
fly down to Karnataka as soon as everything is in place, so everything will need
to be set up in advance. I'll want to know what the girl's story is before XXX
gets on a plane, so that I know we're going to get what's needed. It might even
make sense for the reporter to do the whole interview and file copy before XXX
comes down.

There may also be an opportunity to
do a story on women who get their head shaved at the Manjunath Swamy temple at
Dharamsthala, Karnataka at the same time, meaning two stories on the same
trip.
Ah...that makes a lot of sense.

Now British ladies who thought India to be a land of cow and cow dung-ridden streets, calm swamis and wild sadhus, chattering monkeys and crying children, will know a little more of India. Like about its Devadasis. All thanks to the insightful and incisive reporting done by Mr Sam.

How smart! Oh, how bloody smart!

(I am not writing this because I feel that writing poorly about India is bad. Yes, there are Devadasis in Karnataka. Yes, they lead miserable lives. And yes, we should be ashamed that we allow such debauchery to exist.
But what I completely object to is the way the journalist is going about getting the story. This is not a one-off case, this is the norm in journalism as it exists today. I recall how, even for a pothole story, my chief reporter knew what and how the article should come out, even before I stepped out to do the story.
This email reminded me of the reasons why I quit journalism. And lost my faith in it.)

Monday, 13 August 2007

The end of Potter



I know I should be disowned by the Potter Fan Club for catching up with the final sequel - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - so late (22 days post-launch to be precise) but I solemnly swear by Merlin's Pants that I spent the entire Sunday tucked under my blanket, clutching to HP and being thoroughly useless to my family. I didn't have a bath, had lunch on bed, grunted at friends who called for a lazy weekend chat and forgot to comb my hair.

So hopefully, I qualify again.

Loved the book. Hated the Epilogue.

I always felt this book is NOT a children's book, and as much as I love Potter, it irked me when seven year olds went gaga over the book even before its launch. I'd rather they read Narayan or Raold Dahl or Ruskin Bond than HP and have their innocence dented.

Why I mention this is because the epilogue strengthened this belief. The ending was made for adults, revealing things that adults would be interested in. Like, post nineteen years, how everyone turns up.

I doubt if children have that kind of curiousity. I didn't, I would still have my Nancy Drew as eighteen, even though I started reading her stories when I was 12 and now am fighting 30. I dread thinking of her as a 37 year old mother of three. The same holds with Potter too. Imagine knowing him all along as a teenager, and suddenly the entire image of a schoolboy comes crashing down to make space for a head of family in his 30s.

Very disappointing! In that one change of chapter, I felt like a convict just released after 15 years in prison, to find the world changed and children all grown up.

Tragic.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Hmmm..How true!

When you're lazy and you know it
And you really want to show it
Then simply Copy-Paste

INDIAN NEWSPAPERS
The Times of India is read by people who run the country (Many feel it should be rightly called Ads of India).
The Statesman is read by the people who think they run the country.
The Hindu is read by the people who think they ought to run the country.
The Indian Express is read by people who think the country ought to be run by another country.
The Telegraph is read by people who do not know who runs the country but are sure they are doing it wrong.
Mid-Day is read by the wives of the people who run the country.
The Economic Times is read by the people who own the country.
The Tribune is read by the people who think the country ought to be run as it used to be run.
The Hindustan Times is read by the people who still think it is their country.
The Asian Age is read by the people who would rather be in another country

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Stumped!




Conscience Keeper suspects there is a lobby whose sole agenda is to cut trees. While he isn’t sure of their objective, he is convinced about their passion. He believes they plan in the dead of the night, hair askew, eyes wild, brandishing their axes, chorusing ‘Gida Gida, Dhikkara! Dhikkara!’ (Tree Tree. Shame! Shame!) and attacking any happy healthy tree in sight. I haven’t seen these men in action, but I have seen the end result, and it is quite bloody. Yesterday six beautiful young trees were chopped outside my office at posh Indiranagar. No one knows who did it and why they did it.

Co-incidentally, another friend mailed a similar story of random tree cutting at Koramangala outside the Levi’s showroom.

When the angry residents protested, the Levi’s country head sat down and wrote a rather nauseating letter. The writer herself has been kind enough to bold/underline the Really Funny parts.
Excerpts:

“I have checked once again. We have absolutely nothing to do with this act of felling – in fact, it had caught our team visiting the site by surprise one morning. We are an extremely responsible organization and would never even contemplate such acts. We are a significant partner in Parikrma, a school for destitute children; we have vocational programs with Unnati, a NGO working on empowering sections of society. We also work very closely with NGOs in the domain of HIV and AIDS awareness.

Let me re-iterate that no one from Levi Strauss and Co. have had anything to do with this act of felling the trees.
We would also be as open to meeting with you and try again and convince you that this organization is not one which would do such things just to benefit our store fa├žade – we would rather have dropped the location. We have strong terms of engagement with our associates and vendors and there have been umpteen cases when we have lost business but have not compromised on our values of “empathy, integrity, courage and originality”.

You have mentioned something about the shop benefiting from it – this is, as is often called, circumstantial logic. It means that if we were to go to the residences of all the people who have been writing on this topic, we would not find a single piece of “wooden furniture” – no beds, no dining tables, no chairs made of wood. Did any of you order the felling of the trees that this furniture came from? However (assuming that like most households, you have such furniture), you would have actually paid for buying and using furniture made of a large no. of felled trees! Should we then hold you responsible for ordering the felling of the trees that contributed to your living comforts?

However, as regards your taking this to the press/ authorities, it is a choice you have to make and I would respect your choice. This would actually bring things out in the open and give us another opportunity to explain to our consumers and associates that we have had no role to play in this and perhaps, to our mutual benefit, expose the perpetrator. As regards transplanting trees, we should meet anyway so that we can collaborate with your association and do some joint work on the same. We could actually get our whole organization mobilized on the same (we have 160 people working in Bangalore) and plan a “make Bangalore green” initiative. Just imagine – 2000 people across Bangalore planting 20000 saplings on one day! We would love to participate because globally as well, we are keenly looking at making our products completely environment friendly – using organic cotton, organically processed dyestuffs – the works!”
.............................................................................
Yes. Just Imagine...

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Of Bad Writing and Worse Taste

My morning coffee-cum-newspaper session left a disgusting after-taste today. Perhaps it has something to do with what I was reading....

More than he could chew
Bangalore, dhns:
The sixth ACM magistrate sentenced a 28-year-old married man to four months imprisonment for biting his better half.Many years of marriage to Saraswati and two children later, Eswar was hell-bent on marrying his sister-in-law too. He pestered his wife to ‘mediate’ so he could wed her sister also. Eswar even started physical assaults on Saraswati to force her into a ‘compromising’ position.But Saraswati wouldn’t oblige. In fact, she had many quarrels with Eswar over the issue. In a fit of anger during the latest of hostilities, Eswar bit his wife. The bite, of course, was not the kind Vatsyayana or Kalyanamalla would have heartily recommended. For there was a considerable slice of flesh off his wife’s hand and ‘back’ in Eswar’s mouth after this naive attempt at persuasion. Neighbours who heard Saraswati screaming rushed to her rescue and reported the matter to police. HSR Layout police inspector Krishnappa said the “timely chargesheet” helped in Eswar’s conviction.
Ends//

Please Note 1: "not the kind Vatsyayana or Kalyanamalla would have HEARTILY recommended."
Please Note 2: This story appeared with cartoon illustration.
Please Note 3: And why, oh why, are 'mediate', 'compromising', 'back' and 'timely chargesheet' in quotes???!

Whoever would have thought this to be a sickening domestic abuse story!

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Butter and Mashed Banana


I usually reserve my weekend afternoons for some serious snoring business but this Sunday I was distracted by a rather delightful play. Butter and Mashed Banana, written and directed by Ajay Krishnan largely dealt with the ‘demons’ in democracy (so to speak) but was mercifully without the pedantic and preachy trappings. With gay abandon we journey along with the protagonist, right from his reluctant entry into this world (born out of an ‘ill-advised’ relationship between a Leftist and a Rightist) to his becoming a writer, celebrity, politician, confused politician and finally, a lost politician.
Initially, the play reminded me of Volker Schlondorff’s 1979 film Tin Drum, where the movie’s young hero refuses to grow up, or speak, in the turbulent pre-WW II period. In BMB, the protagonist refuses to leave the womb, anxious about the choices he will be forced to make once he is out.
Again, both the film and the play make liberal use of the drum beats for effect (and do so successfully).
The play took a tongue-in-cheek take on censorship in India, where freedom comes with clauses attached. I found the play endearing because of some ‘direct connects’ it established with me, and our tribe of sinners. Like, when the protagonist, as a successful political writer, is forced to confess in a press conference that he uses Sunsilk shampoo. “The public needs to know,” he was told.
I laughed out a bit too loudly. I think it was guilt. I still remember calling up Ramachandra Guha in my early days as a reporter and asking him, very seriously, what he likes to do on a rainy afternoon. I can’t remember what he replied but I am sure it wasn’t something polite. I am also guilty of hanging around Windsor Manor a day after Enrique Iglesias’ show to do a story on a towel he left behind. Five para story, carried with picture (of the sea green towel). The public needs to know, you see!
However, too many plots spoiled the play for my architect friends, who found the script quite unfocused and acting a bit immature. While I did catch the actors faltering over a line or two, I wouldn’t be so harsh on them. They were having fun on stage, and I found their spirit contagious. As for the script, I agree that the writer tried to squeeze in as many ideas as he could to fill in an hour, almost turning it into a tedious One Minute game show.
And perhaps the fact that it took me a Google Search to find out the relevance of ‘Butter and Mashed Banana’ says quite a bit.
PS for the curious: Butter and Mashed Banana are used to soften the noose before hanging.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Confession

“I am zero, 100% zero.”
Said without anger, disappointment, resentment.

Stated with pride, vanity even. Spoken loudly.
By a toothless 75 year old.
Profound.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Unreality Bites

Just when you think that reality shows couldn’t get any more unreal, it just does. Till now, I have been watching the Miss Indias’ and Indian Idols with cynical amusement, but the latest from the House of Reality Shows has hit me where it hurts most.
CNBC Aawaz recently concluded a talent hunt for…(Ouch!)…Reporters!!
Gone were the khadis, the jholas and chappals; gone the frustrated frowns that cloud the brows of the overworked and underpaid; gone the intense respect for the written word and right spellings.
Before me, on the television screen, stood two women, looking straight out of an Ekta Kapoor’s soap. Judging them was Sushmita Sen, sultry, husky and a complete misfit.

Proud parents beamed and clapped, making me wonder if it were only my parents who objected to my not taking up a good-job, my late hours, my socializing with criminals and crime reporters, and not having a rupee in savings.
The two young finalists gave stock replies – “Entertainment is as important as information,” mouthed one (Or was it “World Peace”?... Who cares? Same thing.). “I strongly believe in values, and I know I don’t have to compromise in a value-centric organization like CNBC,” said her opponent (or something to that effect). And they both promised to change the world.
More claps, and both won an internship each.
What are these girls talking about? Do they even know what they are getting into? Do they know how much compromising they have to do? Not just in terms of values, which is the easiest to overlook (or am I being too cynical here?), but in terms of time, energy, money, friends, and breathing space as well.

What can I say? May God bless them.
Or better, spare them!

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

To laugh or not to Laugh

Recounting this to my Conscience Keeper last night triggered an unexpected argument.
No, it wasn’t about the falling standards of journalism (though ideally it should have led to it). It was whether this was worth laughing about in the first place. He definitely didn’t think so.
“A teacher should teach and guide, not mock and make her students a butt of her jokes in public,” I was indignantly informed.
This left me pondering. As politically incorrect I may have seemed to my dear CK, I am still not convinced that I was wrong.
To begin with, I am no teacher – I am a journalist, and a sleaze lover at that! Should a role change for a day change me?
Should I carry my personality to my role, or suit my personality to my role?
Should I suddenly get involved with my subjects, like a teacher, and stop being cynically detached, which I believe is my strength as a journalist?
I am still pondering…

Saturday, 5 May 2007

Creativity out-stretched

As an external examiner, I had been correcting answer scripts on Media Laws and Ethics for post-graduate journalism students of a well-known college last week. And here are some pearls of wisdom coming straight from the future generation of journalists.
· .... according to Young Mind (Harmful) Act, 1952.
· Sedition is the act of sexually exploiting someone through words, literature, pictures, movies and actions.

· Ethics are a code of principles to which a journalist must adhere to or at least feel guilty if he doesn’t.
· Gandhi was charged with sedition, but the funny part was that he pleaded guilty.
· This has been quoted straight from the Constitution of India: "The Constitution has made India into a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic to make sure that there is freedom of speech and....."
· One wrote an endless piece on free and fair reporting, ending with "the above are the salient features of legitimate reporting". The subject was Provisions of "Legislative" reporting. · Another on the same subject of Provisions for Legislative Reporting: "Journalists covering the Rajya Sabha must be careful about their Press Cards, or else they might lose them".

Back with (hopefully) a Bang

Two posts recovered from the past and put under a new identity. They were lying unacknowledged in the Big Blog World for the last six months.

Dawn to Dust

It is funny that when I finally decide to revive my almost-gasping-for-its-last-breath blog account, all I can think of is complain about the door-to-door carpeting in my new office. I think a constantly running nose, and a choked throat, can put all ideas and ideologies out of the window, and reduce one into a phlegm-obsessed creature helplessly grappling with the onslaught of dust mites.
According to doctors, there are no quick fixes for dust allergy. So here I am, sneezing and sniffing and coughing and cribbing so much that my new colleagues have already given me up for a dead bore. I sneeze as soon as I enter the office, making the more superstitious of my office lot resort to a quick prayer. Their ‘How are you’s’, more motivated by formality than concern, are met with my long list of woes nonetheless. I feel a little guilty later, about this over-sharing of my troubles, but long term invisible results have proved that I feel 0.1 per cent better after each crib trip. I guess where medicines can’t help, cribs can.
However, the root cause of my ills – the carpeting – continues to be as dusty as Bangalore's pothole-ridden streets. I tried hinting to the HR manager, who only looked despondently at the carpet, then looked despondently at the ceiling, rubbed his nose, and told me that my employee registration form was still pending! The personal secretary to Big Boss was not helpful either; she instead updated me on the achievements of her children since their LKG.
And I cannot complain to the Big Boss – the Vice-President whom I report to.
For, he is on leave. Last heard, he was suffering from dust allergy too!

What brings me here

The jump from being a laidback blog reader to bare-it-all blog writer was not meant to be this quick. It has just been three weeks, I think, since I stumbled my way into blogdom. Frankly I was, for all these days, quite happy playing the part of an unobtrusive observer. A good break for an overworked writer, I thought.
(Now should I call myself that? A ‘writer’? I write. I mean, hey, I am a journalist, it’s supposed to be my job. But I don’t weigh my writerly skills in thoughts and meanings and nuances. “350 words, 515 words, 450-words-edited-to-250-words, Happy-Boss?” – well, that’s me!!)
So why did I choose to give up the best seat on the viewers’ gallery to actually join the rest of the bloggers?
I guess the blame goes to my raging hormones. My raging ‘gossip’ hormones, which made me foolishly believe that no two ‘sources’ (forgive my journalism jargons) can ever get together. It was meant to be that way, with happy endings attached. But I was wrong. My few lucky stars were sucked into a black hole. My cosmic karma got the better of me.
It happened this way. My 'G' strings pulled, I did some to and fro deliveries of some ‘keep-it-to-yourself-secrets’ between my boyfriend and best friend, while scheming strategies to ensure the twain never meet. It didn’t work. Somewhere, somehow, the two found each other.
On that fateful night.
It was a cool evening, the lights were dim, the beers beckoning…what happened next was perhaps inevitable. The two did what I feared most: exchanged notes.
Now they both accuse me of betrayal. I plead ‘slightly guilty’. But then why, oh why, do I feel most betrayed?That is why I come to you, dear bloggers. Bloggers whom I don’t know, who don’t know me. And who (Thank God!) don’t know my boyfriend and my best friend.
AAAhhhhh! Delicious anonymity. Slurp!