Sunday, January 22, 2017

Not A Book Review.

*Truth be told i found this old post in my Draft today.*

Truth be told I have a lot of grudges against Mr. Lal Krishna Advani. Not for political reasons at all but for writing a mammoth 950+ pages autobiography in hard bound. Now that I am reading it and also happen to be travelling with the interconnecting flights I have to carry the big book with me everywhere. I am not your usual light traveller so the excess baggage I carry in my bagpack with the heavy duty biography has caused my bag to tear under immense weight.

The book was gifted to me about 05 years back by a friend whose father happen to be a BJP leader. The giant size of book itself discouraged me from picking it up but recently on my drive to read all my unread books on the shelf I happened to pick it up.

The most interesting part is when abord a flight or any other public place, people sitting near me would sneak in to read a few extracts and not able to contain their curiosity would ask me which book I was reading. I was frankly quite surprised by the interest shown in the thick red hardbound book that I was so intently "studying" and using a highlighter to mark the important parts. The following were the reactions I got from my co-passengers:-

(a) Is this a book about constitution?
(b) Are you preparing for civil services exams?
(c) Are you a lawyer?
(d) Why are you reading this?
(e) Is this book about Ayodhya?

Interestingly the only time I have got such an interest in a book I was reading was while reading another autobiography. Guess the Author? Mahatma Gandhi! All of ₹30 and bought from Sabarmati Ashram in Ahemdabad it took me a mammoth time to finish the book and also one of the reason that it was a travel companion for long was due to it's small size and light weight.

Both books are vastly different and of course don't merit a comparison. Mahatma's biography is full of such honestly that it strikes like a thunderbolt to you. Mr. Advani tries to be politically correct but I don't blame him. The book was released before his campaign as Prime Ministerial canditate of BJP in 2009 Lok Sabha election. A single word out of place in the media frenzy nation (orchestrated by 24X7 News Channels) would have torn him apart to bits. Thank God Mahatma didn't have Arnab.

But to read through such auto biographies is not only a journey through the leader's life it is also a journey through the story of India told by the people in first person who wrote it or shaped it.

An interesting facet about the two stories is a single thread: Hindutva. Mahatma today with all his strong religious convictions and Hindu faith would have been prosecuted as being a Hindutva communal leader by endless Media trials by merciless anchors and screaming participants of the "discussions/debate", but a misguided youth propelled by his own convoluted Hindutva ideology shot Mahatma and one of the chief architects of Hindutva philosophy and politics in independent India was Mr. Advani. It's grossly unfair to do a comparative analysis of both the books but so far for some reason these two books have evoked an unprecedented response from the people who see me consuming them. Its interesting to note how both men treated Hinduism and politics. Both men had a passionate love for books and consumed them voraciously. It is evident by the scores of book mentioned by them which shaped their thinking and personality. With an appetite of consuming books both men were a walking encyclopedia to say the least or at least Mr. Advani still "is".

When I was carrying Gandhiji's biography and travelling through Gujarat I remember how someone walked over from a distance to me just to know why I was reading that particular book! The person turned out to be a software engineer who then did a causative analysis of my personality by asking me a 1000 questions on my life and philosophy of life. We became good friends and I had quite the pleasure of his company through the rest of the road journey. On another occasion a retd. lady professor of English Lit. from DU sitting by my side on a flight journey engrossed in deep discussions on what made me read Mahatma's autobiography and remarked I was the first one in her entire career who she had seen reading this book. Needless to say despite our age difference we had a good discussions of almost everything under the Sun.

I will refrain myself from passing remarks on Mr. Advani's political career post 2009 election but one thing does merit attention is that architect of electoral success of BJP and shaping of national political landscape is Mr. Advani.

I am yet to finish reading Mr. Advani's autobiography but with such an interesting glimpse of Indian political history given by someone who was in the middle of it all makes it quite unputdownable.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Misssing You Vizag

It's been about an year and a half of my posting in Visakhapatnam and now is the time for me to leave this city for greener pastures (not figuratively greener necessarily but literally "greener" pastures). 

The city deserves a tearful adieu. Coming to this city wasn't really a very excited affair for me so much so that my requirement for posting was very crisp and clear "ANYTHING but Vizag please". Then as fate would have it (अब होनी को कौन टाल सकता हैं ?) I landed up in Vizag with no expectations from the city and with a deep desire for a "exit strategy" ASAP. Not that I belong to Delhi/ Mumbai junta with a natural aversion to "small city", I am myself a product of "small city" Lucknow. then the heart has its own reason and the "कही-सुनी बातें" of the people about the city matter a lot too.

As I look back I find myself thanking my stars who aligned perfectly to get me posted in this wonderful city. With the highs and lows that the last 1.5 years in Vizag brought in my life, I look at my life charting a new course with cruising speed and with wind gushing through my hair and a happy song at the tip of my tounge. Thank You Vizag. Thou shall be missed immensely and tremendously. 

My time in Vizag has not only added to my professional front but also personally for which I'll be forever indebted. I met the right people whether it was workplace or be it social circles. I struck a chord with them. I was twice blessed with all  my near and dear friends were also posted in Vizag and I had the pleasure of their company around. A privilege I don't think I'll be able to enjoy anytime soon. 

I have fallen I love with Vizag. With the beaches and with it's crazy traffic nuances. With the clear hearted and simple people and choking pollution. With it's upmarket Italian restaurants and South Indian affordable eateries and with many many many things.

My life's trajectory changed when I came to be a part of dramatics club quite dramatically and which dramatically changed my life. The endless practices and the never ending coffee nights. The bonding and the bonhomie between the members. The inseparable bond between the members which made us meet again and again and well yet again. The dramatics club was an integral part of our lives and even after the successful staging of 2 plays. So the birthdays and the anniversaries became events to be celebrated together and weekends were booked in advanced with hectic plans. This was single handedly responsible in getting a lazy person like me out of the bed and keep me out, like day after day. I was never a person who went out much or believed in social bonding in large numbers and here I was having an overbooked social life with party hopping and overnight coffee nights. Man I was going places!!

The city with its endless natural wonders and natural beauty never failed to seize me and captivate me completely in its beauty. It's been so many times I have stood amazed and wonder-struck by the serenity the beaches of Yerada, Kalinga, Rushikonda, Bheemli and the lonely and scantly populated/visited beach stretch from Rushikonda to Bheemli. Astounding view of Vizag in the night from Dolphin Hill or  Kailashgiri when the whole city is lit up in infinite lights inspired one of my friend to call it Las Vizag.

Hours have been spend on conversations with bum chumps on Beach Road with coffee at The Chocolate Room. Vizag has offered me with ample gallons of coffee and they should thank me for giving them good business! Whether it be CCD lounge on a lazy Saturday evening buzzing with young crowd or be it the late midnight coffee at Novotel or Executive Court. Barista's coffee with wi-fi where I have spend my Sunday(s) solely with my gadgets or next to it the home grown "Bake My Wish" which made me feel old with youngsters hopping it. Coffee at the PCC or filter kaafee at Sai Parlour, all have stimulated me in their own fashion. The coffee from the coffee-wallah at beach road footpath or free coffee while browsing the bookstore Pages has stimulated my mind in countless ways.

As if the beaches, natural beauty and coffee wasn't enough for the city. I found my own happiness in my favourite restaurants in the city. Mentioning about each will be tad too detail but I'll put it out briefly. Remember it's not about the restaurants which served the best food or had the best service but the ones where I went for the dining experience. These include Novotel's Zaffran, the ultimate dining experience Vizag can offer then there is Four points Sheraton' Panache the authentic Chinese restaurant which gives a commanding view of the city, Dolphin hotel with just the right dosage of live music and stylish elegant decor with a just fine top floor view of the city and yes of course the good food, then there was my wonderful Little Italy oh I loved that so much that's one place I really gonna miss. Then there was Food Ex near the HSBC bank taking care of me on those late night binges, then there was Eleven which had quite a homely feel to it and yes great food, it would be such an injustice to not mention Beach Village at Rushikonda Beach which allows you to eat amazing food while enjoying the luxury of sight and sound of sea well it's actually on the beach what more do you need? 

Then there are places I can't talk about because of course I am so close so attached to them and they mean so much to me like Gallops, Pages Bookstore. They have a special place in my heart and talking about them would be like undermining the influence it had on me. I owe them (only figuratively speaking).

Thank you Vizag. For the Love. For the Friendships. For the Coffee. For the Drama. For Everything. For Everything.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Not A Movie Revew: Sixteen (2013)

So recently I had the privilege of watching the movie “Sixteen” and I have already begin to feel old almost an antique ready to be put into a glass pane inside a museum. It's been a decade since I have been Sixteen and lot has changed since then, I now surely can feel.

So the movie was almost a chick-flick with the right amount of sexual innuendo to pull crowds into the theaters. Well who can resist the kacchi-kalis of the present generation talk and act sex on the 80mm big screen cinema?

Dev D (one of my favorites and a milestone in Indian Cinema) was released in 2008 where the character of Kalki is loosely based on the girl in the DPS RK Puram scandal. Where does a leaked MMS takes her? Well all her friends and family abandon her, she becomes toast for national media, her family flees the country and father unable to take the shame commits suicide. Moreover unable to find a place in the society the character of Kalki becomes a prostitute and a porn movie artist.

Where does a leaked MMS in 2013 takes the character? Friends stand strong with the girl (friend in need is a friend-indeed), the girl storms out of the mum-dad counseling session saying there are just too many MMS' floating around for anyone to even notice, poor girl is thrown out of school for misconduct (these old people as Principals I tell you with their stone age values). Unperturbed she plans in the final scene of the movie to go for Miss India when her friend jokes that winning the title will get her MMS even more hits (such an insight these kids have). Hmmmmmm...

Another character from the story, a teenage middle-class guy, gets beaten up by his father routinely for the gap between his poor performance in studies and the expectations of his father is well quite huge. He's beaten up on other occasions when he comes home late after drinking (wtf dude? You're 16! go out, get drunk, vomit your guts out and come back home and expect dad to sing a lullaby and kiss you Goodnight?). He's beaten when his father discovers porn in his computer, he's beaten when he gets marks too low (by all standards not just below his father's expectations). So what does the guy do? Rebel! Long Live Che! He kills his own father and mother happily takes the blame while the guy ends up joining a gang. (पर कोई ना लड़की तो मिल ही जाती है आखिर में) Okkkkkkkk.....

This girl all of 16 is pressurized for sex by her bf. Her mother nags too much with questions like where are you going? When are you coming back home? This and that so she's labeled as a demonic mother who's so un-cool, irritating and over-protective. The girl ends up in a hospital because of complications in termination of her pregnancy but then Indian parents have grown-up now. It's ok for them if their 16 year old daughter lands up in a hospital trying to get her pregnancy terminated in a cheap hotel. It's alright girl you can smile now and no tears please, daddy's here to take care. Hmmmmmm....

The MMS girl has a life to be envied, she bunks school and goes out with her BMW wallah bf's. Changes her boyfriend with a frequency that might make even Mr. Hertz shameful, dumps boys cause they are small (and she isn't talking about their phone), has enough sexual encounters to become an expert and all the minor vices including smoking, drinking etc. Where do you find these girls by the way? (May be if I was loaded with some BMW's I would know for sure.)

Have I started any moral lecture yet? Am I acting as a moral compass of the society so far? No? Then read on...

So the guide for parents as per the movie for today's teenagers is as follows:
  1. (a) If you are middle class and want your teenage school going son to do well please take it easy. Don't scold him when he returns home fully drunk like c'mon his one sided lady love was talking and flirting and dancing with another cool guy at the club, he needs a break he'll handle the future disappointments quite well.
    (b) Don't beat him if you find porn collection in his computer, I mean he's  so 16, he's watching it not doing it with (not cause his principles won't allow him but just a lack of opportunity).
    (c) Never beat him up for low marks or poor performance that's so 90's. Gone are the days when the 90's kid used to be beaten black and blue to get into PMT or JEE. It's 2014 economy is past liberalization days and all kinds of career are opening up I mean even Sunny Leone is making tonnes of money.
  1. If you have a teenage girl and you're living in Delhi/NCR encourage her by all means to go and have a good time till late in the morning at the club. I mean all these not-safe-for-woman talk is good for op-ed and news channels discussion panels don't burden your jawaan girl on the laborious boring talks on women's safety and coming back home soon and not going to club. These kind of parents really take the life out of their kids I mean like c'mon let them loose send them by all means by all times loaded with cash and encouragement to late night clubs especially of it's Delhi/NCR. And yeah Girls look boyfriends of 16 are really into true love sorta thing. If they keep pressuring you for sex even dump you for you not giving enough encouragements for sex treat it as a surest sign of true love. They only want to take this relationship to the next level so when they take you to pregnancy-termination cuz of their excesses treat it as the surest-possible sign of truest-love. Yes girls one last thing parents are all so cool when they learn from someone that their daughter is admitted in a major hospital cuz of pregnancy termination complexities, they'll shower you with love and affection.
  1. Yes parents of these born-with-the-silver-spoon-types-driven-around-in-BMWs-by-middle -aged-boyfriends-girls well nothing for you, you can do what you wish, if i had that sorta money maybe I wouldn't be doing much different from you. I mean it's all about the money isn't it?

If you are 32 y.o and witnessing these lives from close quarters you can write a book on it. You'll win the bookers (like it happens in the movie, Goddamn with Rushdie and the likes.)

Friday, October 11, 2013

This Is Why You Should Marry A Lazy Boring Guy

This is why you should marry a lazy boring guy.  

Lately a lot of my female friends have been telling me how they were all freaked out by “The Great Indian Wedding Tamasha” and how they dreaded ending up with a “lazy boring guy”. A sentiment echoed by many. The reasons given for not marrying were all different and came in all shapes and sizes but in the end all arguments reached a single point like a branched flowchart ending at a nodal box saying
“I don't want to end up with a LBG (lazy boring guy).”
A friend of mine who happens to be a super secret member of the lazy boring guy community decided to take things seriously and come out in open and present a case in favour of his community. Ofcourse he was too lazy to write the whole thing so I was summoned to pass his message. I hope in the end you might just say:      
“All I want a lazy boring guy. They are so cool !!”            

1. No Dowry Harassment because it requires too much of an effort

If you end up marrying a lazy boring guy believe me you are in safe hands. Our country has disturbing statistics when it come to dowry deaths. Mental and physical harassment of wives for more dowry is a common lore in all strata of society. Then their are cases of 'kitchen fires' where women are burned alive by husbands and in-laws by pouring kerosene and statement before the police is that the woman died a tragic kitchen fire death.            
Now if the guy is a lazy sorts do you think he'll take the trouble? No. He'll be too lazy to even imagine the whole thing. The thought process will go something like this:            

Okk I have to kill my wife. I'll go to market>> buy lots of kerosene>> wait for an opportune time>> pour it on my wife>> burn her while maintaining all precaution that no help in form of neighbours come or she might not just run to bathroom and stand in a shower when the fire has hardly burned her clothes>> what if she sees me with kerosene and runs out??? Aggghhh too much trouble I'll decide this part later>> take her dead body>> remove all clues from home >> call police >> call hospital>> rush to hospital with her >>fake sad and wailing emotions>> tell police all sorts of lies>> hire a lawyer fight lawsuits>> if all this is said and done perfectly>> get married again.  Man that's too much of trouble.. why don't I just work harder at my job, get a appraisal than burning her and remarrying another>>too much effort>>idea dropped.         

LBG: Hey wifey can i have a tea in bed.
Wifey: Yeah I'll give you.
LBG: Can I have food in bed too I kinda feel little tired to walk to the dining table.
Wifey: Yeahhh yeahhh.. tired my ass.
LBG: OMG! She's awesumm!!
No LBG thinks it's worth the trouble to kill or harass your wife for dowry not that they all are hard core feminists but just that it is too much of a trouble and action so not really worth it to dispose one off and getting another. It's takes so much energy to be angry and carry the hurt around so you'll have a husband in LBG who won't mentally or physically harass you for dowry.            
2. You'll have twice the money than in an ordinary marriage    
A LBG is usually a guy who spends a lot of time indoors he doesn't go out cuz it's always too windy/sunny/rainy/mightrain/airpollution. Now this is the No.1 nightmare of a lady. Ending up with a guy who doesn't want to hang out much, doesn't want to try the new restaurants, new malls, new pubs, new discs, new winter/summer collection, new sale offers, new this latest that. From new adventure parks to old monuments nothing makes him budge from his couch.        
This my dear ladies is a blessing in disguise for you.      
Each time he's not going out he's saving a lot of money and guess who's using that money? Yes it's YOU!! The more he goes out, the more he eats out. The more he goes to these new hip places the  more he's obligated to spend more on his clothes and saloon trips. Add to that the sky rocketing petrol prices and maintenance costs of car due to over-use. Think of all this money saved and ready to be splurged by you only and only on you. VOILA! You are twice as rich.            

So you hang out at all the cool places. You go to hotels that would normally be out of reach. You buy clothes that you'd normally only window shop and lust after. Your friends and acquaintances will marvel how much of an invest genius your husband is who is always away from banalities of life and “sansaarik moh maaya” and is applying his genius mind on higher things like stocks that give unbelievable returns. You'll be your friends envy and your ex-es will probably sulk on how you made the right choice in dumping them and marrying a genius guy who earns a lot just by spending time home.            

If you are planning a normal holiday for 2 to a South-East country it'll cost you x amount of money. But if your husband likes his sleep and bed and couch too much you have 2x money and you go and travel Europe instead!! From a budget of say Malaysia for 2 you can go to Euro Trip of your own.        
Imagine the reaction of your friends:
“Her husband is a rich guy!”
“They have so much money.”
“He's so open minded let's her wife travel alone.”
“He's giving her her own space.”
“She's single while married, who doesn't want that?”        
3. Who isn't complicated these days?  

Who doesn't have issues and isn't complicated these days? Everybody has his own issues. Everybody is inside his head more or less freaked out with all sort of mental complications meriting the attention of a psychiatrist. Some has childhood issues, someone has ex-issues this issue that issue.            

Look at a LBG guy look at his face so serene, so full of calm. Complicating things, overthinking things, imagining problems (that do not exist) and dwelling in the past too much all requires a considerable amount of effort which of course a Lazy person cannot afford. Look at the quantum of energy it requires to overthink and complicate things or to over analyze the event in the past.            

Somebody the LBG-type is close to enlightenment as one can be. He refuses to think much or not at all. So you as a wife are not analyzed, hidden meanings behind your actions will not be sought after. Complicated people complicate everyone and everything, So you can be comfortable that your words/ your past/ your actions won't be be playing in a continuous repeat loop inside his head keeping him awake at many a nights.     
Complicated Guy:            
“She said she won't go to watch the latest Transformers series movie with me. What does it mean?"            
Does she not like me anymore?
Our choice of movies is different. Does it mean we are different people stuck in a marriage?
Is she dating someone else?
Does her no mean my position as husband is undermined?
Am I forcing my choices on her too much?
Should I ask my ex-gf for this movie? I have watched all Transformer series with her and she loves them.
Am I thinking of cheating her?
Seeing a movie with ex-gf qualifies as cheating?
That article on survey of Indan married men says 37% of married men cheat. Am I one of the 37%?
Who is the leading lady of Transformers this time? I wish they had Angelina Jolie.        
A Lazy Boring guy:            

“Arre yaar ab kaun baith k soche? Chalo let's have a sund sleep, dekha jaaega.”
“Ab chalo jo hua so hua abhi SET MAX pe movie kaunsi aa rahi hain?” “If I think too much I'll get really tired chalo lets quickly jump to a conclusion.”

4. You get to spend quality time with each other.    

One of the most common grounds for divorces is that couples are not able to spend quality time with each other. The reasons for this are plenty and well known.  Job requirements, both have own careers, both have unsocial circles, both have own hobbies/social commitments. In a normal career oriented urban household couples are spending less and less quality time with each other and more and more time either with themselves or with their careers. The lack of time of each other results in lack of understanding between couples which invariably leads to disagreements and fights between them and in most cases it ends in divorces.                   

So what's the purpose of spending time with an totally adventurous dude when the only conversation you'll end up having is how you no longer can have a conversation. He'll be out climbing hills or diving deep into the seas and you'll be having your samba dance classes, art classes, yoga/aerobic classes, girls night outs and stuff like that and before you know it, there'll be two talented strangers living under one roof.            
You can avoid it.            

Marry a LBG guy, he'll have all the time in the world for you and for your nagging. He'll be there at job which he has carefully chosen (requires maximum salary with minimum input hours) and is enough to make him weary and sleepy and with no other taxing activities to fill his day - all his time *TADA!* is yours!!!            
Only an LBG guy can enjoy a relaxing soothing Sunday with staying indoors having long bath and soaking sunlight singing praises of the Lord for creating such a beautiful world. So you can fill his empty days with your plans, your requirements, your conversation. Sure he'll not be able to enjoy it as fully as he was enjoying his power nap of 8 hours on Sunday noon but still what choice does he have but to bear you with a beer. Only with an LBG guy can you not have issues of not having enough conversations.            

5. No extra-marital affairs  

If you go for the hottest guy in the flock and if he happens to meet your “cool-adventurous guy” requirements like playing guitar, playing soccer/rugby, gym enthusiast with six pack abs, hangs out at hottest clubs you are looking at a face of potential cheater.            

I mean don't blame him, you asked for it.            

This hot dude with a guitar on his back and six pack as abs to show-off and any girl will be swept off her feet. What might start as an attempt by girls at feeble/harmless flirting with him might just turn out to be a full swing hot and heavy extra-marital affair. He might find it hard to resist the temptation to escape from the boring predictable wife and marriage to an exciting world of sin and sex of having an extra marital girlfriend.            
Another option is our LBG guy who secretly in his deep heart desists having married at all. Marriage makes him work, 

marriage turns his freedom into responsibility and there he is stuck wondering if marriage means having to work in household jobs, going out shopping, taking bath daily, keeping the room clean and having no peaceful Sundays but Sundays spoiled at sabzi bazzar and Big Bazzar's buying everything from potatoes to jhaadus.            

Do you expect him to go out and start an affair all over again? He's just too lazy for that. 2 pints of beer with a football game on TV and your LBG is happy as hell and goes to sleep peacefully. It's just too much effort to manage two ladies especially when one of them happens to be your wife.            

LBG is just too lazy to manage and divide his life between two women. It increases work drastically and requires meticulous planning. Who'll manage all the timings and running around to make both ends meet? Remember that movie where Akshay Kumar is dating 3 Air Hostesses. Such pain to manage the call recods, the date timings, leaving behind no traces to uncover, clandestine meetings and what not? Calm down. Your LBG husband is just too lazy to even imagine or dream an extra marital affair.            


So my my friend after much persuasion is just to lazy to narrate more points. He had promised me more “an earth shattering list” to be precise but I'm staring at a list of 5. Anyways if you google top reason for divorces of Indian marriages you'll know most of them have been covered above and the other points which have not been covered would have been covered only if my LBG friend wasn't so.... well.... lazy!            

Stop generalizing and stop demeaning LBG people. On a personal opinion I feel LBG's are like sarkari naukri safe and secure and CAG's (Cool Adventurous Guys) are like private job. With the Sensex and society's morals taking a nose dive everyday I feel LBG's and sarkari naukris are a pretty safe bet.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

"Susie Derkins Decoded" Guest Post by Meghana Lawate

I’ll try to keep this post as simple as possible. Well I’m one of those in love with secondary characters type persons. I’ve always been drawn to the sidekick or any of the “non hero” characters in a book or comic. I love Obelix more than Asterix or that I love Captain Haddock more than Tin Tin, or that I love Ron and Hermione, Fred and George and pretty much every other character than Harry. I really am rarely drawn to the hero/heroine, at least in most cases.  I like Joker more than Batman but that’s a moot point because who doesn’t? and Aisha Banerjee more than Sid from Wake up Sid.

So when I first read Calvin and Hobbes I was really drawn to Susie Derkins, to most people Susie Derkins in just another character like Calvin’s parents or that big bully in school (Moe) or Calvin’s teacher (Mrs Wormwood)... But as I think more about Susie the more it makes me appreciate her. For one, Susie Derkins is very normal, she is a little girl who likes to play with her toys, study in school, and she lives in her own world. What makes her different is her friendship with Calvin. For anyone who has realistically thought of how hard someone like Calvin can be to live with will definitely understand what I’m trying to get at.

Susie Derkins is the embodiment of patience! After all those snowballs, those slimy descriptions of food, and all the mean comments; Calvin asks her if there’s a possum stuck under her collar for God’s sake! Susie bears it all. Why? Simple because when you are friends with somebody you sort of give them that much leeway, Susie isn’t all forgiving but let’s get to that later.

Susie Derkins is Calvin’s only real friend. Really through all those comics notice how Calvin is all alone with no other person he can call his friend? And Hobbes is his imagination. Good imagination, but really does he count? Its difficult to imagine a 6 year old misfit with only a tiger toy to talk to. Susie is his only real friend.That’s pretty sad as it is.

What I love about her is the fact that she exists. With all the madness and the name calling and the endless snowballs and Slimy girl accusations, she is with Calvin. I also love Susie Derkins for being “normal” when compared to Calvin (but then who isn’t?). But Susie is not all shy girl, she is fierce! At one point Calvin’s mother even tells Susie that it is not okay to pick on stupid children, the stupid kid being Calvin.  

Susie really knows how to outsmart Calvin be it by making him eat bugs (trying) or throwing snowballs or threatening Calvin. She is untroubled by Calvin most of the times, she knows how to give it right back to him! Her retorts are quite something! She is smart and man! She can fight! She can be very sweet and stern. I like that about Susie; she is unafraid, what is true friendship if not the ability to say things as they are? She reaches out to Calvin from time to time. Now, of all the people that she could be with, Susie chooses Calvin. While this may be me reading too much into her character, I really find it hard to fathom why a 6 year old wants to hangout with a meanie like Calvin. Simple, Susie gets it.

Susie is alone herself; remember the endless tea parties she hosts? One of which Hobbes is a part of. She gets it. Imagine a friend of yours who does not have any friends (other than you), is bullied and is not doing very well in school would you or would you not want to reach out to him? Susie is simply doing that. To add to that, I also think the whole charm that gets Susie to talk to Calvin is the fact that both have stuffed animals. How many 6 year olds can you find who are obsessed with a stuffed toy?

Susie Derkins really makes me think. Every time I think about a character like Susie’s, I am reminded of my friends and family who lived through my hyper activity. I mean we’ve all been kids, we’ve all be unmanageable at some point in time but thankfully most of us had friends who would tire us out. All our parents would do is gladly welcome a sweaty, stinky kid inside the house only to be fed and put to bed. These friends our parents are eternally grateful for. Susie is not the friend Calvin plays with, but she is the friend that Calvin constantly ends up with.

Susie gives you the impression of being both concerned and unconcerned. She worries in but in the right quantity, she is never meddling in Calvin’s life (if that’s what you can call what a 6 year old has). But she is also never too unconcerned, hey! She asks (rather listens) to him about what he has for lunch and she invites him for tea and that counts for something.  

Anyway, my top 10 takeaways from Susie Derkins

1. If you want to be friends with anyone, you must not be judgmental.

2. You are your own person, while you will gladly share space with your friend; you are not required to be attached to them all the time.

3. Be patient

4. You can fight! You are friends does not make your relationship immune to squabbles

5. When in a fight, fight like you mean it! Give it back to your opponent; they need a taste of their own medicine

6. Friendship is effort. So much effort.

7. There is a very strong possibility that your friend is lonely and doesn’t really know it. Be there.

8. It’s ok to be a little crazy or be with people who bring out your crazy side.

9. Friends can be awful to each other, a little humour helps.

10. If you are stuck on a project report with Calvin, you are better off doing it on your own.  

PS: What is also noteworthy is the fact the Calvin was probably schizophrenic and imagined Hobbes as real. And he also has Attention Deficit Disorder. Now, your appreciation of Susie must grow. :D

The above post is written by Meghana Lawate- her blog is here. 

Posted via Blogaway

Thursday, September 26, 2013



To be honest I miss Bal Thackery. Despite his quirks, whims and excesses he was the only one in the country who had the guts to call a spade well nothing else but a spade. Some of the recent events have made me miss him even more. It has been ingrained in the public consciousness that Valentine's Day in India is less about love birds and celebration of spirit of love but more about the violent protests by Shiv Sena brigade.  

The English print media led by Times Of Bharat (name changed to avoid lawsuit :P) painted the Shiv Sena and other saffron brigade as cousins of Taliban who were hell bent on implying Taliban style religious code on the forward looking progressive nation. The nation, the youth was thinking big and dreaming big but here are some pervert religious bigots (dirty saffron brigade) with their hate agenda spoiling the celebration of beautiful and pure emotions like love and “festival of love”.  Naturally people hated Bal Thackrey and the saffron army.   It reminds me of an incident on Valentine's Day many years ago when I was in school and the celebration of “Love” was in full throttle (most of it driven by capitalist agenda).I overheard this conversation in my class between two guys.  

Dude 1 : Look at this Time Of Bharat dude. Lucknow Bharat Times has whole 10 pages dedicated for extolling the virtues of Saint. Valentine's Day.
Dude 2 : Yeah man. Looks like the whole paper has been painted red. All these hot babes wearing red. Yummmyy.. Yummmyy..
Dude 1 : HAHAHA! Such hypocrites. You know that girl Shristi*? Dude 2 : Yeahh dude that girl is amazing.. Oops I mean such a decent nice girl.. I heard rumours you are dating her no?
Dude 1 : Yeah dude I was. But just look at this copy of TOI preaching love like the whole country should just come out of home and start dating the opposite sex. Such hyporites.
Dude 2 : Man! You sound bitter. What's with this “was” dating? What's with this TOB-hate?
Dude 1 : Ohhh... bhai what to say. Shristi's father is in TOB only he got to know of our affair somehow. Now her phone is confiscated, she can't even go out alone now. Her scooty keys are with her Dad - always. Man it's all shit. Just think of it,  he goes to office writes/edits beautiful dating guides for the youth of the country, comes home gives his dauther a piece of his mind for being a spoilt girl Just because she was sotted with me by her dad's friends/relatives in Hazratganj.
Dude 2 : Look at this article focuses on sex tips for a Happy Valentine's Night. Wonder if her Dad wrote this himself.. HAHAHAHAHA!
Dude 1 : HAHAHAHA!! Wait lemme read....  

(*Names have been changed to protect identity.)  

Valentine's Day celebration disruption and hounding of couples by anyone has never been a hindrance for me. Well let's end the self-pity here.  

I remember on various occassions where the Shiv Sena acted as a moral guardian and was responsible for tearing down obsene posters placed in busy Mumbai intersections for some TV shows or were busy opposing some filthy “reality-shows” forced down the neck of Generation Y. Shiv Sena in my personal opinion was in many senses more like a moral correction factor than a taliban factor. Sadly that was Balasaheb's Shiv Sena.  


Recently the TV has been bombarded with promos of the filthiest movie ever in Indian cinema I guess: Grand Masti. From what I hear my friend Dozer say about the movie it is 10x times more dirty than the TV promos. What concerns me is where is our Censor Board? Just beacuse a movie has got an 'A' certificate doesn't mean it can show anything. I mean next they can start showing xx and xxx movies if all one needs is an 'A' certificate.  


In India as such an 'A' certificate hardly means anything. I haven't come across an incident ever where buying an 'A' certificate film ticket has been accompanied with showing of an age certificate. Even if that happens the movie will eventually find it's way to a torrent site which will then be downloaded by kids, the movie will come in pirated versions, the original DVD's will be out someday. Then the grand world TV premiere of the movie with much advertising campaign will tke place. So there's no way that an 'A' certificate will mean anything to anybody here in India.  


Take shows like Splitsvilla, Roadies and their million cousins. That bald idiot produer and host abusing people and irony is he thinks he is a moral compass to the society, the guide to the youth. I'm sure one day they'll give him the youth icon award too. I often wonder, what kind of people end up at their studios? His certification is all they need to find a reason to be alive? What sadistic person will enjoy being humilated by him on National TV? I mean why does one need an approval certificate from him to be called “adventurous”? The sadistic people watch the show enjoying the humiliation of worthless people by a self-proclaimed prophet of modern youth. MTV has started telling the youth lookie here “it's all cool”.  


Look at the shows by Channel V like 'Gumrah'. TV shows like this is what the youth needs, you see  and you'll know where some of the youngsters due to various avoidable reasons went wrong and misplaced there priorities. That is the reality-shows the country needs.  

The other day I was watching HomeShoppe18 (don't ask me why). I sat in front of TV absent- mindedly trying to think something and there they were selling some very decent ladies suits. Few  models were standing in their studio like a mannequinin defining the classical description of “bhartiya-naari” covered from shoulders to toe. But then in quite some time  the focus has shifted on one of the female models and while the female commentator is extolling the awesomeness of floral designer kurtis what you see basically on the screen is the camera focusing utterly and completely on the breasts of the lady model. They show it so artisticly and so innantely and even a kid will know where the intent of  the cameraman lies. This is the limit of pervertness.  


I had recently the misfortune of watching the movie 'Shuddh Desi Romance'. A tweet describes it best- it's neither 'Shuddh' nor 'Desi' and by no means 'Romance'. The story revolves around 'supposedly new generation' which wants to sleep around but not tie a knot for any reason. The hero meets the heroine on a baraati bus (he is on his way to his own wedding btw) and while travelling and incessantly chatting just kisses her on her lips. The girl doesn't object and this starts a round of kisses while the whole baraat is sleeping behind them in the bus. So the message is if u kiss a girl while meeting her first time it's really not an issue and if a girl resists or something she is just so “uncool” (no wonder the guy runs away from his own wedding).  

They eventually move into a live-in smoking, drinking and yes sleeping together. Wow what a life!!! Who in the prime of his his life in India wouldn't want a life like that? Ahhhh they decide to marry after a drinking session but can't marry because according to the director Indian youth is fed up of moving into marriage. Marriage is a social evil imposed by the older generation on the rebellious youth of the country who only want to live in a live-in smoking, drinking, fucking all days and nights to eternal happiness. Hey so you got pregnant while sleeping with your ex-boyfriend? No issues girl. daddy is in Assam who cares? Hey cool dude so you earn by duping foreign tourists and as a tour guide and get to fuck around some of the hottest females who are okay with you not marrying them and being with you in a live-in for reasons as valid as “I'm not sure.” Yes there are people who don't move into a marriage but have a live-in relationship and our Supreme Court recognises that too, I'm aware of that but the potrayal in this movie has been beyond my logical capabilities. Weird story weird film. I don't know how the people will digest or accept or even relate to this concept but certainly this is not a country we want to live in.  


First you create all the media image of woman as an object and when the byproducts of that happen people take to streets and start blaming the khap panchayats, the old generation, the poor perverts, politicians, Police insenstivity, Yo Yo Honey Singh like they have no job but to rape woman. What the media will never tell you how they have contributed significantly in objectifying women of the country. How the movies, the music videos, the lifestyle magazines are falling head over heels in showing women in poor light but then “sex sells”, we all know that.


English corporate media with swanky plush studios will show the gender discrimination more as a class war than a gender war and in some ways it indeed is a class war. The have-nots ganging up to show the haves what they are capable of.  

The studios demonise the working class without saying so but the gang rapes of village woman will hardly recieve any sound bytes than a story where the victim is seen as “one of us”. The idea is- how dare could they (the have nots) do this to “one of us”? We the cultured, english speaking, modern, refined people attacked by the barbaric filth living in the slums. The finger is always pointing everywhere else except the truth. Half of the country will try to impose Taliban style ban on women's clothing and timings to step outside home the rest half will sit online and express outrage via facebook status updates and sharing of pics/videos/links.  


When Bal Thackrey spoke, he knew the media or be it anyone has crossed the line and didn't care two hoots in being politically correct and saying diplomatic words to please everyone in a corporate English news channel studio. The English media no wonder demonized him and in no time painted him as a senile old man leading a gang of self styled thugs. No attention grabbing man would have drawn lakhs and lakhs of tearful people on his funeral to have a final 'darshan'. He was the man connected to the masses not the studios. He knew the pulse of the people and spoke the truth when the truth needed to be spoken in the country which values hypocrisy above anything else. So when obscene posters were torn by Shiv Sainiks in Mumbai it sent a message we are not a second hand Angrezz, a nakli wannabe Amreeka, their culture is different and ours is different.  

Ancient Hindu culture never suppressed or demonized sex, we had Kamasutra, Khujraho and above all generations and generations of Hindus have been praying to Shiv ling. Sex was accepted. Hindus of the past were bold but today in the name of mirroring the mind/aspirations of the youth obsenity has replaced the boldness and it's being pushed down the necks of the whole generation.  


I don't agree with Baba Ramdev when he says that gays are sick are people who need treatment. I don't agree with Bal Thackrey on many issues. No I don't agree with Shri Ram Sene who thinks women shouldn't be visiting pubs and discos. I'm not anybody's fan boy ready with a flag to defend any word said.   

Posted via Blogaway

Sunday, September 22, 2013


It was a long train journey through the countryside in which I had the pleasureable company of Manu Joseph's debut novel “Serious Men” set in Mumbai and in and around the area which happened to be my home for the next month or so. It's almost surreal to have such an experience of being in a certain place and reading a book whose plot is based in the same place too. The book had a very realistic and touching plot which explored India and it's society at various strata through the lives of various characters in the book. The book was thoroughly delightful with the humour and gripping plot which keeps you hooked.  

The book which deeply matters to you is the one which touches you, moves you, changes you, challenges you and most consequentially the book and it's characters live inside you long after the final page is read and placed in book-shelf in the company of many others or returned to  it's rightful owner or maybe lend to another friend. One such book is Manu Joseph's second novel “The Illicit Happiness Of Other People”. I finished the book in one sitting. I just had to.  

Central to the plot of “The Illicit Happiness Of Other People” is a seventeen-year-old cartoonist named Unni Chacko. The entire book is about him but he is not there as a character but rather as a fragmanted memory of various people because he is dead, beacuse he killed himself. It chroniciles the quest of a “by-day-journalist-by-night-town-alcoholic” father to de-code the enigma behind the crytic cartoons left behind by his son to eventually know as to why he “did what he did”. Set in the Madras of 90's the book takes you as a witness to the household of Chackos or what is left of them after the departure of their son.  

It's not a mystery Dan Brown thriller novel riddled with world threating secret societies if that's what you are getting at. It is a mirror to the Indian society, the society obsessed with “94% is not enough” “IIT-JEE is the only goal and America the only destination”. It is a spiritual odyssey of finding the true self and finding the true nature of reality beyond the definition of what religions accross the spectrum offer. Author's deep knowledge of Hinduism and psychology and treatment of all characters with such intense depth can hardly be found in any of Arvind Adiga's works or for that matter much of the Indian writing spectrum.  

The book is as much about Hinduism as it is about Christianity. Whereas on one hand it explores Hinduism in the depths of philosophies relating nature of truth and reality Manu Joseph on the other hand explores Christianity on the surface on the issue of conversions exploiting the gullibility of naive people, or due to financial coercion, the dubious nature of evangilists and the inherent caste system followed in Indian version of Christianity. Had Manu Joseph been a Hindu or worse a Hindutva supporter all hell would have broken loose but I personally believe that he might not be a Hindu by practice but he's certainly a Hindu by mind.

The book chroniciles the life of a family fighting poverty, fighting mental disorders, fighting alcoholism, fighting the memories of a missing family member. It's heart wrenching to see the condition of a left-over family after one of them decided to call it quits for no apparent or overbearing reason. It also made more impact on me as I had the opportunity of going through some blogs recently where people had the heart of sharing their experiences of times when their life seemed impossible to bear and almost decided to call it quits and end their lives.  

The book means much more to me than a racy novel with an intriguing plot. It was more of a spiritual journey where you pick up pieces and build your own truth. It's a social commentary on the  nature of the societal setup, about the working of the collective social mindset and yes a potrayal of some free rebellious souls who are termed “crazy” or “lunatics” by the society but they they have seen something, experienced something, known something which is beyond the comprehension of a normal mind. If you can recognise the story within the story the truth will reflect and you'll be staring into it's eyes but if you miss it then well the story is engrossing and captivating in itself.  

It's a rare book which interocks story-telling and philosophy one acting as an interlocutar to another. The truth is out there it's upto you if it reveals itself onto you or you miss. It's been one of the most satisfying reads I had had in recent times. The experience of going through the book will stay with me for a long time. Without much exaggeration I can safely say it has touched me and transformed me on multiple levels.