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!

Dear Ganpati Bappa,

It is always great to have you! We were all prepared to welcome you with immense love in our heart, and even more traffic on our streets. I think you must have had a bumpy ride till the pandals/home – with an undercurrent of very melodic honking sound, I am assuming you would understand our yearlong plight. What? You don’t find honking melodious. You just don’t have an ear for it, I say!

We welcome you by reciting many shlokas and a couple of aartis’ which essentially mean that Ganesha is the lord who provides joy, takes away sadness, and removes all obstacles in life. I understand that some of us may not be trained singers, and thus, the offbeat singing can be a tad-bit problematic, but that’s our way of testing the relevance of “obstacle remover” God! Ha, take that!

Well well Bappa, I am not sure if I am looking at removing larger-than-life issues like solving the Kashmir problem, letting women decide what they should or should not wear, or increasing the collective IQ of the Indian bureaucracy. I mean these problems seem too big to be solved, even for the greatest Vignaharta of all times. But if you could help us fix the smaller day to day obstacles, like taking the clutter on the streets and the people who clutter with you, there will definitely be less clutter in our life then!

ganpathi-and-fuel-1Since a few of your idols have already been immersed, you would know that out water bodies are not really umm, safe, and can suck the life out of the dead as well. I mean for people who hop, skip and jump over with life as if it were potholes, we deserve a better death. But alas, as you can see, there is no sign of the promised Moksha for us!

We anymore do not invoke you for auspicious beginnings, but for completion of what has been started years ago. Nor for deliverance from the cycle of birth and rebirth; only from the unending cycle of laying and re-laying of pipes and pavements. I understand that amidst the Niagara of noise and preposterous display of devotion, it may be a little difficult for you to hear my prayers, but I promise you, next year I will make use of the recently launched very “innovative” air pods, to help you multitask while listening to my never-ending rant.

Anyway, how has your stay for the past one week been? Now that we are half way through the festivities, I am already getting withdrawal symptoms!  There won’t be any more ‘Selfie with Bappa’ contests on twitter, or sale on extra-large products to mark the festival of a God with extra-large heart on any of these merchandise websites. And obviously I being an extra-large girl with an extra-large heart but extra-small budget, am sad, for one!

But today when I look at you looking at me, we both creators of each other, I sense there is one thing we both can definitely be grateful for – Modak!

Happy Holidays, Bappa!

Fest, Feast and all the Fuss

meme12I, for one, love the second half of the year. It is so full of festivals, celebration, and of course holidays!

A few days back we celebrated Rakhshabandan- such a beautiful festival with such a terrifying name, I used to think as a little girl. All this week, I have been busy in looking for feminists, wondering how they missed the chauvinism in this one! What do they mean my brothers taking care of their sisters? Do they think, we can’t take care of ourselves?! What the….oh, but gift! I think I will pass my feminism card this one time! After all, everyone needs some pampering some time or the other, you know! Touché.

No, but seriously, festivals are so much fun! There is such good food, get-togethers, dance, music, sweets, delicacies, celebration, holidays, parties, and the whole pomp. Oh, did I mention food? (I know now why my weight never shifts in the direction I wish it did!)

And before long, I realize, they are oh so noisy!

Last week we celebrated the birth of Lord Krishna. One minute silence to all the teenagers who thought that celebrating birthday at midnight is so today’s thing! Uh huh, you have no idea about the #swag that Krishna is all about- and that hashtag was important!

Cowboy, lover, fighter, philosopher, politician, practical humorist and great friend – which other God can match Krishna? Some bits of Krishna’s life are so relatable, but then again, he is the one responsible for Bhagvad Geeta – and how does one believe in a book that is a by-product of a story, in which there isn’t even one natural birth, to begin with!

Anyway, I love the other by-product of the same – Dahi Handi! Oh my God, so much fun! I mean who said people standing on people, amidst a large crowd, with loud music, and splashing water, just to break an earthern pot with not even enough “makhan” for all in it, is not fun! Of course it is, if you rule out traffic, noise, and safety and Supreme Court orders.

Yeah I mean, when the orders are not in our stride, who the hell is Supreme Court to stop us from celebrating the way we always do! It’s not like law is applicable to all – it is as per our convenience. With the way things are these days, one doesn’t know if it’s the lord’s devotion at play, or commotion create by politicians!

There is actual celebration, and then there is virtual celebration. And lo, with my phone beeping all day, it felt like it was my birthday, and suddenly I am dreading the many festivals aka “good” wishes slated ahead in the year! There were more photos of Lord Krishna on my WhatsApp than Mathura-Vrindavan put together!

Anyway, I think Janmastami is well-placed – a perfect warm-up for the upcoming Ganeshotsav, or as we like to call it – a systematic display of who gets a better DJ – singing songs with lyrics rebelling religions – till they irritate the hell out of us!

Phew! Brace Yourself!

Writing Changes Life; Life Changes Writing

Now, that is a powerful heading!

Exactly one year back, on this day, something changed! Something I had never foreseen happened in my life. It was an accident, and what a journey it has been post that! It was last year on this day I started writing this column.

phucket-listWell, someone who knows me from before knows that the bond between me and writing was as strong as that of Hrithik Roshan and Kangana Ranaut. I had never written anything post college – and “writing” in an Architecture College was as negligible as it could get! And then, before I knew it, I was sucked in the “bucket-list” phase, and somehow “starting a blog” made it to that list. Unlike most other things on it, I did manage to do this – either I was in I-need-to-get-out-of-my-comfort-zone phase or this was the easiest of the lot.

To cut a long story short, this blog led to this column and before long, I started producing 500 words/week. Today, in retrospect, I realise it has affected me in many ways – Not saying this because it sounds fancy, or it is like the thing-to-say – but it has.  I don’t know how much has it “changed” my life, but it sure does have an influence over it – just like my life has an influence on my writing. From being a complete socialist-activist in some weeks, to a naïve 20 year old experiencing quarter-life crisis, from being a dreamer of achieving unattainable goals to a wannabe humour columnist, my writing has seen it all – and so has my life.

There are a few things that I could really learn from the writing experiences, and apply them to my life, and voila! May be I get better at living as well.

  • Create a lot of garbage.

And I am not talking about the galore that we have on our streets. But the only way of writing better is writing more. Sometimes most of it is crap. But somewhere in the 1000 words of bunkum, you find gold, which goes on to become one of your finest pieces. Similarly, somewhere along trying and failing, falling and getting up, you learn to do life right. Or do you ever?

  • Re-create history

One event, and so many versions of it! Writing enables you to have the flexibility of changing your interpretation of any topic, situation, and occurrence. And such a beautiful thing to actually live by! I feel Human Beings have a special power of re-creating their past- just by changing their perspective. Such an easy way to make peace with our most daunting memories!

  • Simplify:

The more you simplify the way you write, the more everyone connects to it. Complexity breeds confusion – in you, your article, and the reader. And also in life. We love complicating it, but the simpler thing to do is to simplify. Principle for life – Keep it simple, silly!

Before this starts to seem like my self-proclaimed best-debutant award at one of those paid award shows, I should stop here.

PS- This column is an expression of my philosophical mood. #OhYeah

Funny Side Up

Stand-up Comedy is a fairly new format of entertainment in India. Till now, I used to think everyone’s stint with stand-up comedy ended with their studies. The difference being that the comedy then is more tragic for the students, and now for the comedians.

All these comedians, who work day in and day out to make people laugh must learn something from a natural, my personal favourite – Arvind Kejriwal. No one is so consistent in making the distressed and troubled Aam Aadmi of this country laugh, by coming up with creative joke formats every other day!

For a man who received a great support from the people – educated middle class to be precise – and broke all political stereotypes to become the Chief Minister of the capital of the country, he could have shown a little more confidence, and self-assurance! But, he has been constantly wailing about how everyone, especially our “coward” and “psychopath” Prime Minister, is trying to get to him and his Aam Aadmi Party.

And this week’s video takes the cake.

It was just another attempt by Kejriwal to take potshots at the Modi government, in the typical Kejriwal style – by being both, the victim, and the hero! Victim because, just like Aam Aadmi, he is constantly on the receiving end of conspiracy created by the “centre”, and hero because probably he is the only one even capable, in whatever trivial ways, to take a stand against the tyrannical Modi government.caartoon02
In this video address, Kejriwal had accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of being “so frustrated that he can get me killed”. Woah, now that escalated quickly! Sometimes I wonder- Is Kejriwal just another insecure politician, or is there some method to his madness in launching tirades against Modi almost on a weekly basis?

I happened to see Madaari, the movie that had all the ingredients by be amazing but was still average, this week. Though I could hardly sit through the long, drab righteous lecture that it was turning out to be, one dialogue struck me. In essence what it meant was, when a normal person a.k.a. Aam Aadmi loses his son, he blames his destiny, but when an important politician loses his son, Aam aadmi loses his sense of security. Well, by this logic, Mr. Kejriwal ain’t playing his cards right. When someone you depend on to realise your demands himself doesn’t seem to have any power…well!

Talking about stand-up comedy and Madaari, we live in a time when professions that weren’t primarily meant for entertainment have all become national jokes, and films that were for entertainment are in serious troubles for serious issues, so that we become serious about the issues. For instance the legal system. Acquittal of Salman Khan by the Rajasthan High Court is funnier than the funniest joke cracked by the very funny Kejriwal. But alas, the joke is on us, when lots of bucks in the pocket can devalue the death of one black buck.

PS – Will someone please save Mr. Kejriwal from the very dangerous ‘Arhar Modi! Arhar Modi!’

Game Of Thrown

What a week!! – I still don’t know if I mean this shockingly, or surprisingly. But that, only time will tell, I guess.

For our local, and global politics, this week may have been a great economic and political roller-coaster ride, but for me it was quite a learning experience. Major three things that I learned this week are:

  • Academic credentials and knowledge have very less, or rather no place while selecting/electing people for important positions in our country. (Throw away your books, kids). This current party in power things that all that we need to know to run a country is there in our Vedas and Shastras. Which is true if you want the society to regress, as against the popular belief that we must progress.

Just for their pea-brain to comprehend what their actions will result to, all I want to say is- You have successfully managed to throw out Ram from Raghu clan. Go figure. (Ok, was that comment evident as being sarcastic, or should I judge you guys for judging me?)

  • Europe has its own issues. What? You mean it isn’t that perfect destination where Yash Chopra’s heroines survive snow in chiffon sarees? Please don’t take that away from us. Anyway, this Britain exiting may affect them, but for us nothing changes. Film-makers will still shoot at Ramoji film city and keep our idea of Europe intact! Perfect. Beautiful. Romantic. Expensive.

Brexit-EU-referendum-Cameron-cartoonYou know, patriotism seems to be the last resort to settle any kind of debate, and to win any kind of election. Whether it is our own Marathi Manus craze, the “Hindutva” political party rule in India, or Britain exiting European Union. A popular belief is- If it can happen and has happened, it will happen in November as well. With that America loses all its hope around Trexit, and the trend targets towards Trenter. God save America!

  • Shirish Kunder is getting a lot of appreciation for his short film on YouTube. For God’s sake, he is the mastermind behind epic films like Tees Maar Khan, and Joker. Well my faith in creative film-making, or my choice of films was restored when it was revealed that this short film was an out-and-out copy of a Nepalese movie. Classy, I say.

Meanwhile, India is just blown away that we could vote British out. A country that ruled over more than half the globe has tasted “independence” now! Irony just died a thousand deaths. What this holds for them, whether it is an opportunity of a lifetime, or are we going to be witness to systemic destruction of Europe- only time will tell. More pressing issue at hand is how awkward is it going to be at Euro Cup now?

I know a bunch of people who have no clue what this Brexit is about, all I want to say is – Don’t worry. This buzz is not for the spoilers of Game of Thrones- though this may seem like a game of throne. No-one’s dying. Or are they?

For the rest of us, let not Britain’s black Friday hamper our weekend plans- It’s the sale season!

A Very Stretched Piece On Yoga

Before we begin- take a deep breath in, and slowly breathe out!

This was just to get you in the zone.

This week the world is going to celebrate its second International Yoga Day. I am assuming you are reading this in Malasana (The Squat Pose) – on your yoga mat, and not on the pot. As we all know, yoga is an ancient practice that we love, from the moment we came to know that the west endorses it.

Yoga is a stretchable, bendable, flexible, malleable form of exercise, originated in India. Ask me. I am an expert on yoga. I survived the intensive training sessions for all of 4 days!!

Yoga teaches you to put your leg where your head is supposed to be, and vice versa. Unlike all other forms of exercises where leg is exactly where it’s supposed to be, and head is exactly where it is supposed to be – in a protein shake! It teaches us to learn to ask- Why does anything has to be the thing you expect it to be?

Let me explain. When a builder promises to deliver a residential building in 3 years – based on which you start paying EMI- why does it have to be three years? Why not seven? Why finish it at all?

Ahem, moving on!

Well, I sincerely feel that yoga isn’t that appealing because it is not endorsed well. Baba Ramdev, for instance, is cool only if you have been alive for more than 60 years now, or Shilpa Shetty is cool only for Raj Kundra. And from the looks of it- and I am saying this in the nicest possible way- that Yoga may seem a tad-bit boring! Just a little bit. Also the fact that if you are not into yoga, your exercise regime is probably jumping to the tunes of “DJ wale babu mera gaana chala do”.All of this put together doesn’t make yoga so palpable.

Until of course we stumble upon a video of a white girl performing “Sun Salutations” in her gym clothes. Oh, yoga just turned into the coolest thing ever!

But it comes naturally to us, here in India. And it definitely reflects on the rest of our day- in our business and otherwise. Bending the rules, stretching our limits, flexible timings- are our natural traits, just to name some.

A few of my favourite new-age asanas, which I religiously perform all day, are:Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 7.58.32 PM

Taptapasana (The Tapping Pose) – Where I use my fingers to melodiously play on the keyboard- for specific purposes like trolling, and attacking Bhai-haters. Because, #BhaiRoxx.

Shoutasana (The Shouting Pose) – Wherein, the bigger the mistake, the louder my voice – to put the blame on anyone who isn’t good at this particular pose. It’s a part of my couples Yoga class!

Shirksasana (The Ostrich Pose) – Wherein you lay in mud all day on one leg, with so much free time that you write useless articles like this.

Well, before you drift off into Shavasana (The Awesome-most Pose), take a deep breathe in and do yoga for non-political reasons, and not just because your government said so!

Comedy Mein Tragedy

The funniest thing that happened last week was that a certain Tanmay became a Bhat of all jokes! Alright, I know it is passé, but what is anybody going to do about it? Send some goons to chop my legs of? Doesn’t that sound bizarre? So it was when a certain righteous party threatened to act in a not-so-righteous way!

Fun fact: The title track of AIB in their videos is – Tragedy mein comedy. But who thought that comedy could end up being so tragic! Oh, not for Tanmay! I am talking about India. Tragic for India. I just realized it this week that the cumulative IQ of our country is far less than what I had imagined!  You know something is really amiss when a country wants to put a comedian behind the bars for an unfunny joke; and nobody cares or dares to talk about a terrorist’s call to a politician!

Cartoon-on-freedom-of-expressionYes the joke wasn’t funny. Yes it was crass. But so is IPL to cricket. Is anyone complaining? People who like it, watch it. People who don’t, switch the channel to watch Sooryavansham. So if you don’t like the video, don’t watch it. Simple. If you can make fun of one person on this planet, you can make fun of anybody! There are so many jokes on Raj Thackerey. I am surprised how he was not offended by them! Oh, maybe they were true! And exactly why this is not true. It’s a stupid joke!

Jokes apart, why do we take ourselves so seriously? Why are we always so offended?

I think our insecurity lies elsewhere. Identities have become our only anchors in a wild river of change. Actually, our social identity to be precise. Whether we are an AAptard, Gandhian, overweight, gay, Bihari, Salman-fan, engineer, Modi follower, or God forbid, Donald Trump – anything – but it cannot be a laughing matter for anyone else! And beyond that identity, please don’t ask who we are. Because, nobody knows!

However, we are offended by everything we are not. You can’t eat the food you like but I don’t, can’t read books that I don’t understand but intensely hate, and lately, can’t joke about Sachin Tendulkar or Lata mangeshkar, because I am a Marathi Manus, and so are they! Well, till now I believed you could only not construct fly-overs near their residence. But apparently, you can’t even joke about them! Touché.

But you know what, we are not offended by a child-marriage story being telecasted at prime time! We are not offended when lots of sexist and misogynist jokes become viral on WhatsApp. We are not offended when the government is drowning all its citizens in a cess-pool, when all they should being doing is create more cesspools! We are not offended when political parties don’t get so worked up about communalism or rape, as they do about a stupid joke on a stupid app that no one even knows about. Bravo.

The joke is on us.

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.

Long Shot

In a population of 1.3 billion people,hockey-copy-650_022712061716 it takes some amazing skills to not excel in any sport other than cricket! Indian sports as it stands today is not what it once was. Indeed, India had significant victories in football and hockey earlier in the century – a far cry from the sorry state of affairs today.

Let us consider the top 5 reasons for sports not working in our stride!

  1. No infrastructure:

Of course! That is our answer to everything! It’s like we have accepted that it is an acceptable answer, and then feel sorry for ourselves. Why doesn’t the government make pet shelters? No infrastructure for people, how can we create one for dogs? Okay, why isn’t there shelter for everyone? Because they rented it out. Oh yes, why should they shift to a better facility, if they can earn an added income, and still enjoy the perks of being under poverty line?

Sure.

2. Education:

At school, and at home both. We are taught to be great at sports, only after we excel in academics! One of the more popular sayings in recent times is – “If you are good at something, do it after engineering.” That essentially sums up our entire education system. Sports is not encouraged in schools, or at home. Forget it even being an option, it is royally looked down upon and used as sarcasm if you don’t score well – “Aur khelo bahar jaake!”

It’s viewed as a mere hobby in our country, and not a career.

3. Electricity:

You would say I have a knack of starting with any topic and bringing it to a point where I bash our government for core issues. Well, what do I do if they function that way! This year a few of our players were robbed of a chance to participate in the Rio Olympics only because – wait for it – power failure! What? Yes, you read it right. In the part of the country when people use generators to prepare lassi in a celebration, one couldn’t be deployed for something as important as Olympic selection, is a sham(e).

4. Role-models.

How can this not make it to the list when Salman is involved! There was a whole fiasco regarding the ambassadors for Rio Olympics, and Salman Khan was one of them. Since we don’t encourage sports, we need to borrow from Bollywood to represent us in sports as well. Anyway, given the collective IQ of our country, we come to know about our great sportsmen only when a movie is made on them! Sigh.

Though, Salman is a great choice. He is a great shooter himself.

5. Genes:

This is my favourite! I was bowled over when I was doing my research and realized that a lot of people believe that we don’t excel in sports because we don’t have the kind of body required for it! In a population of 1.3 billion people. Bravo!

If anything, we are great at making excuses, and no one can beat us to that. Not even close.