PhotoSTOP!!!

“Cake fir se khilao, photo achi nahi aayi.”

This statement pretty much sums up last decade. We all have been to that dinner when we had to delay savoring the food, because the person-with-the-camera wasn’t getting a perfect shot, or when the birthday girl had to take multiple shots to satisfy the ego of the aunty feeding it, who wanted to eat the cake and not let the picture show it too! No offence, cake.

Be it your friend’s wedding, your kids first birthday, you having a blissful afternoon nap or the first time you shat in your pants, everything is documented, everything is captured, everything is rather lost in the process.

Right from waking up in the morning to going back to sleep (also in the morning, most times), we use this tool to document every microsecond of our life, like there is no tomorrow! Not to mention, this entire exercise is to re-live these moments “tomorrow”. Somewhere between fidgeting with the camera, looking for a better angle or the moment with a better light, clicking and uploading and counting the likes, we forget to enjoy the moment.

But if only some genius could tell me how to re-live a moment that you haven’t lived in the first place?! What is the point of scheming through this beautiful life (I am not saying this, your Instagram pictures are) through a 7” screen in between!

Didn’t have a camera by my side this time,
hoping I would see the world through both my eyes.

Today I finally overcame,
trying to fit the world inside a picture frame.

Maybe you should have seen that sunrise with your own eyes;
it brought me back to life.

—John Mayer, “3×5”

Don’t get me wrong. I am not disparaging the art of photography!  I think photography is a beautiful art form. When well-executed, photos are breathtaking. Furthermore, we’re a visual culture, so pictures play a large role in the way we communicate.

But the question is about how cognizant we are to our environment. Do we lose the knowledge, the experience of the impermanence of this moment, in making it rather permanent in our life? Well, for me, the concept of using pictures to reminiscence about the past in the ‘then’ present is debatable – but let’s keep that for some other time.

There is nothing sadder than seeing a couple enjoying the sunset with their camera. There is nothing crazier than people putting their life in jeopardy for a “perfect click”. There is nothing sillier than clicking the coffee every time you give a witty name at Starbucks (oh so passé). There is no skill in getting the candid picture right on your 176th attempt.

Or like someone tweeted the other day – We are a generation with maximum documentation of Human stupidity. I couldn’t agree more. Touché.

Pat(riot)ism

I work. I work and I earn. I earn enough and pay taxes. Lots of taxes. I employ people. I develop skills. I pay them. They progress. And pay taxes. Taxes that are for the development of my country. I pay for rent. I pay for equipment, I pay for services. I pay more taxes. I earn shitloads of money and make an equal load of positive changes. Yet, I am forced to stand up for the National Anthem, every time I watch a movie (also, taxed) to prove that I am a ‘patriot’.

If the National Anthem is not played during the movie, it will not make me less of a patriot, just as when it is being played, it doesn’t make more of it anyway! The point here is not about me having to delay taking my recliner seat up because I need to stand-up for the National Anthem (actually, that too), but it is more about me having to prove that I am a Patriot with these silly laws cropping up every now and then. The whole attitude around these laws undermines everything else that I may be doing for my country.

When did patriotism come down to obeying and/or agreeing with the government? If you adhere to their views, their vision and support their prophecy, you are a ‘true patriot’, otherwise a downright anti-national! Frankly, the most patriotic thing people are doing today is talking about their mothers and sisters, followed by a word which I’d rather not mention here, on twitter and feeling immensely ‘nationalist’ about it. Bravo!

It doesn’t matter if you are bringing laurels to your country, or fighting for your country, or working hard for your country – suddenly all that matters is whether are you standing in the ATM queues without cribbing or not! Soldiers should not complain about the food they are getting, students should not protest against the injustice they are facing, people should not complain about the hardships caused by new laws being passed – because you do all or any of these mentioned things: “Go to Pakistan!” comes the quick reply.

6a00d83477d44a69e20167666d0650970b-600wiJust as an after-thought, I would like to question the whole concept of patriotism here. While ‘patriotism’ is generally seen as a uniting emotion, I personally find it rather dividing! If patriotism is one side of a coin, xenophobia is the other. I don’t think we can talk about ‘World Peace’ at various conferences all over the world, while also promoting, encouraging and forcing ‘Patriotism’ at the same time

I think Leo Wiener, in his article titled ‘Patriotism or Peace?’ sums up my point better, and says: “Patriotism cannot be good. What produces war is the desire for an exclusive good for one’s own nation – that is called patriotism. And so to abolish war, it is necessary to abolish patriotism and to abolish patriotism, it is necessary first to become convinced that it is an evil”.

PS: it’s the ‘Republic Day’ week, and my patriotism-level may look as low as the number on the thermometer, but: East or West, India is the Best. There, I said it. I am not an anti-national.

An Unsuitable Idea

‘New Year, New Me’ looked like the flavor of 2017. I think if it’s the alcohol that makes people so positive around the outset of another year, I’d rather have them stay drunk throughout! How can it be “New Year, New Me”, with my old thoughts, old resentments, old beliefs, old opinions, views, etc?

If you have been following the headlines for the past 15 days, unfortunately, there is nothing new in the way we create news, in the way we present news, in the way we perceive news. The only thing that probably is changing faster is the hair colour trend!

If I had to pick only one fascinating aspect of us Humans- as we know today- out of the many that we have, it would be to defy something that is natural. Karan Johar’s coming-out story was quite the talk of the town this week. Whaaaaaaaat! All these years later, and we didn’t even know it! I didn’t see THIS coming! Did you?

Well, since ‘Koffee with Karan’ isn’t sizzling as much as Karan Johar would have wanted it to, we can totally trust him to find one way or the other to occupy all our free time – and with everyone talking about it, I can see that we have enough of it!

Karan Johar, in an excerpt from his autobiography called ‘An Unsuitable Boy” has hinted at being utterly scared of coming out in this country. For people who do not know, your sexual orientation is something that you naturally feel, and not something that you would “do to yourself” – and given the acumen of all the people in this world, a person would really be silly to actually not feel in a particular way and still fight the world!

But then, we are above nature! We are Humans. We even come before ‘nature’ in the dictionary. How can ‘nature’ defy our logic?! So if we don’t really account for the LGBT community, and render it unnatural, so it is. I mean if nature doesn’t change itself once we have called it unnatural, nature is inhuman! Of course!

"...The only thing you need to 'GET' is out of our way."It is rather inhuman to treat them as unnatural. All of a sudden today, a word that was used as an equivalent to ‘happiness’, cannot be said without a sneer anymore! And even after applying all of the little brains that I have, I cannot come up with one logical explanation to this behavior of ours! Never before have had I understood ‘Live and Let Live’ better.

The sooner ‘we’ take this authority that ‘we’ have given ‘ourselves’ to decide what stays, what doesn’t, and what stays at what position, away, the better will be the news, views and all our muse.

Boys Will Be Boys

Laxmi was sweating. She was doing the dishes and finishing her daily chores. Today marked the payday. Generally, people are ecstatic about this day, but not Laxmi. She was getting flashbacks of the same time last month. She was well aware of the drill.

She would finish work and go home. After a tiring day, she wouldn’t have the luxury of even sitting down for a cup of chai, but will directly get to cooking for her hungry 2, 4, 7, and 10-year olds – all of this while avoiding the eyes of Ramu, her husband sitting with a bottle yelling abuses. She doesn’t want the day to get over, her husband to hit her, to snatch the money, and to give double the pain after the children have slept than all of it put together in the day, for him to sleep with a smug face. While no one is out there to listen to the cacophony in her heart.

Because we live in a country where “Boys will be boys” is a valid undertone, and ‘raping wife’ is not even a reasonable concept!

*******

It was about 10 pm. Little black dress, tall black drink. It was just supposed to be a super-chill evening at a high-society club – a treat to herself at the end of a hectic successful week. She was in the middle of the dance floor, matching her movement with the music.

It was then that she felt a grip. She was disgusted. She tried to free herself, but the hands were too firm for her tipsy brain. She tried to resist, to shout, to struggle. No! Don’t! Leave me alone! But to no avail.

It’s only when she woke up she wailed. It was a cold parking lot, with her clothes torn, her hair awry, her heart yowling in pain, in disgust, in weakness.

Because we live in a country where “Boys will be boys” is a valid undertone, and holding a drink is an invitation.

*******

raf750x1000075te5d6c5-f62bbf65ee-u4Hanging her school bag, she was waiting for the rickshaw to come. For her, the day is darker than the night. Every morning is a struggle, to accept something that disgusts her as a norm.

Every day she is touched by the driver in the ways she doesn’t even holds her dolls. She doesn’t like it, she doesn’t understand what is happening, and she knows it is very painful, but she doesn’t know a way out.

After all, she had tried telling her Mum about it when her uncle visited. But her Mum shushed her and told her to not tell anyone! The sooner you accept, the better it will be for you. Playing with her dog she always wondered how wonderful her life would have been had she been able to switch it to that of the dogs’.

Because we live in a country where “Boys will be boys” is a valid undertone, and being a GIRL is living a life that of an object!

*******

Because “Boys will be boys” till someone teaches them to be more.

Aye to Zzzz

Mitron! Today is the first New Year’s Eve in the history of New Year’s Eve when we may start drinking at 8pm not to celebrate but to forget. Our beloved Modiji once again will adorn television sets of every household and ensure no one really wishes anyone a “Happy New Year” because there may most certainly not be anything happy about seemingly New Year. Pfft.

funny-new-year-resolutions-1In all its glory this definitely seems to be his moment. But if he wants it to last for another five years after he completes these, I wish to continue Bachi Kankariya’s style of listing A to Z (Read as Zee, because classy, you know) of resolutions, that I hope Modi follows, for the sake of you and me of course. Read on…

Acche Din: a reality now, pretty please!

Ban the ban wagons. We need freedom of speech and action in the true sense.

Corruption can be and should be removed without having people to stand in long queues!

Demonetization to Re-normal-day-isation. SOON.

E-ticket, e-adhaar, e-mail, e-India, e-jio, ey-little more internet speed please?

Freedom to eat, greet and tweet minus any “heat” to be made as intact as reinforced concrete. (Oh yes, #ArchitectSwag)

Governance over the government. And also over Gandhi’s Game of Thrones.

Homophobia to be massacred. X 377 times.

ISIS to become ISWas.

Jokes on snapchat, and news in parliament. And not the other way round.

Kyunki Ramdev Baba bhi kabhi Yogi the.

Liberals to be given a dictionary to know the meaning of “liberal”, so as to reduce the intolerance amongst liberals. Touché.

Modi better remain the Modi we voted for!

No odd-even for the Delhi CM – governing only on odd days, to even out the imbalance? Why?

One Rank One Pension. Period.

Poly-tricks to be curbed.

Queues or National Anthem are not a sign of patriotism.

Religion and region are no reasons for disproportionate governance.

Salman to stop killing black bucks, stop his ‘buck buck’, and stop using his buck to buy the law.

Terrorism needs to be terrorised!

Uddhav to work towards a new and improved Sane-a?

Valid education degree for politicians? Oops, sorry Modiji!

Warning: Making expensive statues of leaders, without really following their principals is hazardous to health. Yours, ours, and the nations.

X-Factor of the political campaign need not be X-treme amounts of money.

Yearly review of governing authority to be commissioned, as intensely as twiterratis dissect a statement by Kejriwal.

Zzzzz, wake me up when the bank opens. With money. In Rs.500 notes.

Well, maybe he will take my advice, or mostly not. But here’s wishing everyone a year 2017 times better than 2016.

Appraisal Festival For Kids

Ho Ho Ho! It’s that time of the year when “good” and “well-behaved” children are rewarded – for being good and well-behaved of course. It is just one of those traditions when elders bribe the children to be good so that they don’t grow up and bribe…erm?

So I am wondering how Santa Claus (SC) discusses with his Human Resource consultant (HR) about the management of the gifts in ratio with the degree of “niceness” of little mortal beings. Let’s explore…

HR: Sir! Sir..SIR!

SC: *wakes up* what is it?

HR: It’s time. We need to evaluate the yearly performance of these naughty brats.

SC: What? Why on earth do I have the most taxing job ever? Whoever fancies sneaking down through chimneys when everyone is chilling in the holiday season! FML.

HR: Eh..the Amazon preview sale is until midnight, let’s go over the list so that we can get great discounts, shall we? What about Donald?

SC: Who? Trump? The same guy who when opens his mouth is only to change whichever foot was previously in there? Have they started selling feet online yet? We may need a couple of hundred for him for the coming year.

xmas1HR: Well, what about Salman Khan?

SC: Oh ya, order a car for him. I know it’s a highly unsafe choice, but he needs to go far before he signs any other movie or Bigg Boss…the sooner he goes, the better. And that way, I guess I am compensating by saving an entire population!

HR: Right. Next is Barkha Dutt?

SC: This young lady has delusions of adequacy. If I had it my way, I would get her off the TV first, but my contract doesn’t allow me to do that. Well, just put her in the list of not-nice children.

HR: Narendra Modi?

SC: He is the same kid tea-seller we had given a pencil a few years ago, right? Well, it certainly takes him no time to make his pointless.  Blade it is then.

HR: Robert Vadra?

SC:   What more do I give him, when I am already paying a toll to pass through his property, be it on ground or in the air!

HR: Kejriwal?

SC: Oh, get this chap removed from the list, and ban him from all future considerations. Since my last report, he has reached rock bottom. Check if he has started digging there yet? Or else there will be no place left for him to go!

HR: *chuckles* Rahul Gandhi?

SC: Aww, finally we are talking about children, is it? It’s the easiest to please someone who would be out of their depth in a roadside puddle – also created by them. Candy it is. Anything that remotely looks like one will also do. Just something else for him to suck up to, you know!

That reminds me, I haven’t done my bit of sucking up to Santa Claus for fulfilling my greed…umm I mean needs. After all, like they say (and I repeat on every Christmas) – Nothing comes easy in life. Even Santa comes with a clause.

2016

318a2855d6c708721181899244b82778Whoa, 2016 is ending in just two weeks, and it has given us 2016 reasons to be happy that it’s ending. In retrospect, it was a great year, except if you are black, Muslim, transgender, woman, middle class, lower class, animal or a person in the mannequin challenge. While for some the year ended in a jiffy, but for me, it was one long eventful year, with lots of happenings the world would have been better off without.

Obviously, I am talking about Brangelina break-up.

No, but seriously. BREXIT, followed by Donald Trump being elected as the president of the United States of America definitely top the charts, and will go down in history books sooner than we think. The following few years seem like a legit repenting to these two events.

And how will our very own Modiji lose this race, or any race! Demonitization or demon-ization or who-is-the-demon-realization has made the nation doubt the choice of their leader. Well, a step that looked far more promising as an idea has turned into a complete turmoil, and added to the experience that 2016 anyway was.

Terror attacks have been on an all-time rise. Libya, Turkey, Syria, Bangladesh, France, Pakistan, United States, Belgium, you name the country, and it has been in the news for terrorism. Pathankot to surgical strikes, the India-Pakistan relations back home also haven’t shown any progress. Well, the world that was said to end in 2012, 2016 seemed to have taken charge of it.

In the middle of all these “anti-national” news, our government took a very important step of instilling patriotism in the minds of the people – to play the national anthem before every movie screening. The only thing more patriotic than soldiers standing on the border, people standing in the movie theatre, and Aam Aadmi standing in a never-ending line outside the ATM, is that no-one is taking a stand on anything. *slow claps*

Talking about taking a stand, everyone at Bigg Boss is doing a great job. No, I don’t watch the show, but how is the 10th season going to be any different? 2016 marks 10 years of us allowing the show to run on TV – or the same number as the IQ of the Indian TV audience.

But who needs a Bigg Boss when our Lok Sabha TV is so much more entertaining. Fun fact: This winter session, the parliament was in session for only 19 hours of the allocated 21 days. #adjourned

It did prove a powerful year for the Indian women though. From PV Sindhu, Dipa Karmakar, Sakshi Malik in the Olympics to Shobha De for her opinion about the Olympics, from Sushma Swaraj being as the only one who is digitalized in India to Priyanka Chopra rocking at Hollywood, from all the bahus on TV to Simar having more power than everyone put together in Game of Thrones, we have arrived!

Too hot, too little water, too much rainfall, too many silly internet challenges, too much noise at 9, too less governance, this year was just too much to handle. But hope is the only proverbial light amid the darkness.

Winterlust

d6cb812a2bd19a2f4a9107df033404e9.jpgIt is that point in the year when “Just chill” is not a metaphor for relaxing your mind or a shady Salman Khan Song, but you are literally chilling. Ok, maybe this is a very bad one, but what the heck, I am freezing out here! After all, it’s that time of the year when the weather is colder than the Time’s person of the year. Erm..

Well, for people who call themselves true blue ‘Bambaiya’, let me define winter for you. Winter is this season when it feels like smog, but doesn’t kill like one. It’s that climate when you guys ask – Is 6 layers enough or should I change my body settings to “activate coal stove”?

Winter is like my most favourite time of the year! I mean what’s not to like about it! To begin with – It’s not hot. I rest my case.

Anything and everything that comes with it otherwise, is all bonus. Like the morning sunrise! Sunrise is anyway beautiful, but winter sunrise – Oh my! First things first – it happens decently late. So you don’t have to wake up five minutes after you have slept to see it. And when you are shivering in the morning cold, in midst of fog-striken environment, there it come up as rays of warmth – it the most beautiful feeling. That brings me to the second-most wonderful thing about his weather – Sleep! Long, long, long nights. What else does one want?

Actually, I am not going to treat that as a rhetoric question. One, or at least I also want food! And winter is practically equal to yummy, lip-smacking food! From hot chocolates, to barbeques, to peas and carrots, pies and cheese, gajak and ghevar, this is the best season to eat. The list can go on, though for someone who knows me will know I do not need a temperature update to make a list of food I love, but so what – winter it is this time! Ironically, weight-loss tips and tricks call this weather great for losing weight as well. Though, my one tip to you would be to not get tricked! I mean what’s the point of avoiding that hot jalebi on a beautiful cold morning – are you nuts?

It’s also so festive! I mean so what if all our share of festivals are done for the year – after all, Vasudev Kutumbakam. Christmas it is. Who wouldn’t want to be secular, if that only means it is yet another occasion to receive gifts, and eat Plum cake. Hell ya, I am secular. And a kid. And accept presents – you know, in case someone is in mood for spreading some love.

Well, as a girl who also has a commitment to write a few hundred words more, I also love winter for the clothes! Oh my God, don’t you girls think winter-wear is gorgeous!  Sorry, dear feminazi, aimed the question specifically at girls because we all know guys would prefer summer in that respect. D’uh!

PS – When you snuggle with hot chocolate, dunk some marshmallows into them. Thank me later. #ProTip

Dear Zindagi,

Why do you do this?

Now, every girl with a recent heartbreak, is on streets looking for her own Shah Rukh Khan. Do you know, you have spoilt psychologists for us, like forever? Humph.

Gauri Shinde is a lyrical story-teller. For someone who could make such a local concept so universal in English Vinglish, something went amiss while making a fairly universal concept local with this movie.

I think ‘Dear Zindagi’ was a nice, feel-good, 2-hour pep-talk, but rather too naive for the subject. Having said that, I am not even sure if the audience is ready for a movie minus Katrina’s thumkas and Honey Singh’s..umm..words. It is probably not made for an out-and-out box office success, because a lot people struggling with getting their payday from the banks are a little too busy sorting their life-struggles out ( or “real” struggles as they are called) to wonder about their emotional sickness. But, at least the conversation has started – someone is finally talking about emotional well-being, and it is out there in the open for discussion. This movie is about everything that you have said in your mind, but never aloud.

It happened to remind me of a word that was doing the rounds a few months back – Urban Poor. It was a concept that only these “urban poor” understood, and for me, was a slightly romanticized notion for a situation that millennials had put themselves in. Theoretically, I always understood this concept, but I could never accept the dumbness of it all. Just by giving a label to something quite silly, doesn’t make it valid, you know!

Well this movie for me was like “urban poor well-being” – I am not saying that the struggle is not real. All I am saying is with what was shown on screen, theoretically one could understand Alia’s pain, but it failed at making me live it with her, and hence the very reason for therapy is somewhat shaken.

dear-life-not-a-challenge-wititudesHaving said that, I encourage everyone to see the movie – especially, people in tier II and tier III cities, where ‘modernism in thought’ is yet setting in. It is a great ice-breaker and conversation-starter between young adults and their parents about older taboos, et al. – which is pretty important. While it took some time for my mum to wrap her head around Alia’s choice of life, she was reasonably happy with Shah Rukh’s role of Krishna-right-out-of-Geeta-kinds.

Well, like SRK puts it in the movie – Genius is the one who knows when to stop. In my case, it’s at 500 words. So ya. Bye.

Genius, I say.

Peace Out, Bro.

Do you remember the time when as kids we would shut our ears, stick our tongue out and make weird sounds to signal that we have stopped listening to the other side, when in an argument? Well, blocking people on social media is exactly just that.

I remember the era when internet would take ages to connect with that peculiar voosh-voosh sound, and if and when it did, by the time it would even manage to open my email – which obviously had nothing urgent or important or mail – my time was up. Then with Orkut, it just sort of replaced our slam books and scrap books. With the overwhelming information that Google had to offer, it soon was sought out as more of an educational tool than a recreational one.

Internet had expanded our chance of having discussions, making informed opinions/decisions, but it also has given us the liberty of shutting the screen, switching off/or between tabs, and blocking anything or everything that challenges our views.

Internet was also a potential prospect of meeting with like-minded people. No, I am not talking about Tinder, d’uh! But, we become aware of other people who also are blocking the same things/views/people as us, and suddenly that gives a great power to our thought, ingrains it into us more than ever, and we block other views with renewed zest and enthusiasm. This is sort of leading to a “cult” culture over every opinion that we have.

putting-your-opinion-out-on-the-internet-is-frowned-upon-meme

So today it is very difficult to just say anything you feel like about any issue. Because the moment you open your mouth, you are either a bhakt, or an AAPtard, or just downright stupid. Either you are a feminist or a chauvinist. You become a libtard, right-winger, anti-national, intolerant or Pakistani even before you completely keep your point.  If you are against Trump, you are pro-Hillary. If you are against Hillary, you are pro-Trump. You are racist, body-shammer, islamophobic, or ….and if you aren’t one of these my-way-or-the-highway kind of peeps, then you are just ay!

This is now not only the story of the internet, but also in the outside-social-media life. The recent elections in America or Brexit has proved that we all are living a (judgmental) bubble of our own. But we forget that a bubble doesn’t even need something as sharp as a needle to burst, you know! And well, it has.

This change has been quite drastic, and rather too rapid for my liking. Of course, “change” has various connotations today, and I am not talking about the new prevalent – Do you have a change for 1000? – Kind of change. But, change must be such that it does not eliminate people or their ideas. Because this majoritarian attitude will only reduce our way of life to an idiot mechanism. As Shiv Visvanathan puts it – The change we need is a change in the idea of change itself.

Well, I am going to begin with not thinking that Indians who celebrated Thanksgiving have less IQ than the stuffed turkey on the table. Peace.