The Great Indian Goof Fest

1b15226d19fa131ec93ecaa1f1315a7dSo past one week for me has been juggling between two weddings of really really close friends, and so the only thing on my mind right now is – no points for guessing – Rabdi! Who cares about the elections, or about the budget – all I can think about right now is the strategy to avoid the line and eat at these functions. (PS – Always start dessert first. Thank me later.)

So now with my PhD in Weddings, this is a guide to what I call the great Indian Goof fest (the biggest goof-up being that the shubh-est of the shubh mahurat coinciding with SulaFest.)

  • Bling: Every wedding has some aunties wearing so much gold, that we can actually save on the cost of flood-lights. (Jara aunty ko iss taraf maarna. Ouch.) Pro Tip: Wear sunshades even at a night function. You would rather look blind than go blind!
  • Rush: For some reason, we in India take ‘Vasudev Kutumbakam’ way too seriously, and end up inviting the whole country. And then have the audacity of packing everyone in a hall meant for 100 people! ‘Yeh kahan ka insaaf hai, my lord?)
  • Queues: Queues and queues everywhere, that I almost start wondering if I am going to miss my flight. There is a queue right at the entrance, to meeting the groom and bride, and a longer one at food counters, and the longest one at the pani-puri wale bhaiya, because free ki pani puri ka maza hi kuch aur hai!
  • Tansen: Well, I do not mean people who sing well, but people who think they sing well and snatch the mike to grace the occasion at the drop of a hat! Yes, those, who out of nowhere, between fun rituals, start giving background music!
  • Kids: They are everywhere. They are the reason why the line at the rabdi stall is never ending. They are the reason why you always hear someone say – ‘mere pachees hazaar ki saadi pe sambar gira diya’. They are the reason why loud and noisy weddings get louder and noisier (and sometimes nosey-ier. Eww.)

And parents, please stop treating weddings as your own version of ‘India’s Got Talent’.

  • Food: We all know most people attend weddings so that Uncle can give Aunty her weekly off – so that aunty in return will not crib for next six days. But that does not mean, we put every frigging dish on the surface of the planet in our buffet menu! The craziness around the amount of food, the type pf food, the variety of food, the wastage of food, just to hear – Par Sharmaji ki shaadi toh bahut thaat se huikoi tod hi nahi!– is foolish, for a lack of a better (worse) word.

Well, probably all the points mentioned above are what make our weddings super crazy, super fun, and super chaotic. But, can we, by any means, make them a little shorter. Just tad-bit. ‘Kya? Kya? KYA?’ – Ok, no!

*Gets back to denting and painting. Pout.*

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.

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

FooDie

Once upon a time (oh, yeah that is how long back it seems), there used to be news, then there used to be breaking news, and then there used to be OMG-I-am-so-appalled kind of breaking news. But now in this day and age when just about anything is discussed at prime-time, and multi-tasking of an It-Baba by manufacturing not so swadeshi fashion garment in Swades makes it to the headline, it is not appalling that news no more is appalling. Amidst all the brouhaha created by media and/or social media about anything and everything happening around us, very rarely does some piece of news still manages to appall me!
Although I know statistics, in general, are as accurate as the Indian meteorological department is about the weather forecast, one of the statistic that caught my eye, and really pained me, was about how India wastes approximately 67 million tonnes of food every year – a number higher than the national food output of countries like Britain. This amount is enough to feed the entire population of Bihar for a full year. And trust me if we keep Bihar well-fed, we will probably be successful in reducing the collective aggression of this country by one-half!

2-cartoon-sumantabaruah-unep-wed-2013This statistic is gloomy- especially for a country that has more than half the population starving (even if we don’t count all the people on diet). Just to put things in perspective, the value of food lost amounts to Rs.92, 000 crore, nearly two-thirds of what the government spends under the National Food Security Programme to feed 600 million poor Indians with subsidised rations. That’s a lot of food!

There are lots of reasons for this situation.

A lot of this food is wasted even before it reaches the consumer. Because of no storage or cold storage facilities, redundant transportation mechanism, food sorting, etc. So basically half the produce doesn’t even reach the market, and the rest half is washed, coloured, dented and painted, before it reaches us!

This brings me to another major reason for food being wasted- how it looks! A lot of fruits and vegetables do not look “up-to the mark”, hence the vendors find it very difficult to sell them, and they eventually deteriorate and are thrown away! We are spoilt for colours in this time of fashion-supermarket, that we want our apples also to be that perfect shade of Red! Not, “Red” Red. But Red!

While our farmers do not have storage facilities, we do. And hence we stock up on all the food that we think we might for the next fortnight, if not less. But two days later, someone not so important remarks about how our weight has increased by OMG 500 grams!! While we don’t throw away the packaged food that we have – for stress eating of course- but end up throwing a lot of this stored food eventually.

And finally, something that all of us can practice every day three times a day is-Take what you eat. Eat what you take! Nothing is worse than affording, buying, cooking and then wasting food!

Cheeni kum

8732d8f6055db0399ec521695c74b311I am so ashamed of myself. And not because I did something as clichéd as uploading the picture of yummy dessert from last night on Instagram, but because I actually had it. The whole of that mouthwatering, yummy, delectable, delicious blueberry cheesecake.  As of now, I am supposed to be on diet, and hence eating anything that even remotely tastes good is criminal!

Like most people, I can always say that fitness is my first priority. I don’t miss my exercise unless there are more pressing issues like sleeping, working, reading, watching a movie, sleeping again, trying that winged eye-liner for the hundredth time, failing at it, looking like a panda and then sleeping…you get the point! If it weren’t for these distractions, I could have managed to fit an entire Bangladesh in my thigh gap.

And then sometimes I get tired of all my excuses, and decide to rather get tired at the gym. There is a lot to lose, you know! Earlier gym were simpler. There was stuff to pick-up and then, heavier stuff to pick-up. Now it is much more complicated. Now, to upmarket themselves, they sell sauna, spa packages, aromatherapy (not talking about sweat here), yoga, Zumba or aerobics, nutrition counselling – if it has a taste, spit it out. But the great thing is, you lose weight as soon as you join the gym, because they charge both your kidneys as fees.

Staying fit and healthy is a community service, because everyone around you is trying to stay fit as well. Knowing about fitness can be of great help to avoid awkward social interactions. One day you go to the gym, and the whole world is trying to tell you – don’t eat carbs post 7 p.m., and even if you do then team it with a high protein salad, which for him right now is my brain. I generally have wheat bran chapatti – which my grandfather tells me was by-product in their times – and now are “imported” and sold in a better packet than wheat. And of course blah blah blah green tea.

The beauty of the whole thing is you don’t even have to be fit to advice other people. The other day, I saw someone with so many potatoes in the market, that I couldn’t control telling them if they have any idea how much starch does the thing has. Turns out, he was only trying to sell them!

Well, it is going to be challenging, but I am going to keep at it. Having said that, I feel there is too much hogwash regarding this topic, and people are talking more than they are following. I think it is so exhausting to even think about it, that you already need a big piece of anything unhealthy to recuperate. Nevertheless, I ain’t missing my protein-packed dinner for anything. And of course, green tea.

I wrote about this topic because how can you go to the gym and not announce in the newspaper? I would be such a waste.