Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Women are not service-providers or epitomes of sacrifice

Yes, this is going to be a long post. Yes, it is going to be the antithesis of everything you have grown up to believe all your life...and still do.

With advent of FB, there are quite a few random (I really don't have a proper name for these sites...they are all like all forwards all combined in one place...the zone-out spot where you just keep watching random things one after the other without really gaining anything out of it). This site is one of those sites (no offence to the guys who've put this together...I know it's your bread and butter et al...but well...what are these sites for?)

This site had a very 'beautiful video' that had this title: "This beautiful 3 minute tribute to women will make you skip a hearbeat"
Here's what it shows:-
1. little boy learning to walk - female teaches
2. little boy crossing the road - little girl takes him through
3. little boy gobbles up his chocolate bar - little girl from 2 gives him half her chocolate bar though she clearly wants it all for herself
4. little boy about to be beat up - old female saves him
...wait, there's more...
5. teenage boy gives his book to girl - girl reluctantly takes it with her while teenage boy rushes off
6. guy in 20s sees a girl he likes - girl can't stand anyone smoking, guy quits
7. team of guys and one girl get together - one guy is quiet - girl asks him why

...by this time I was really irritated.What exactly did this person have in mind when making it? How the hell is this a 'tribute' to women? I actually went back and checked the meaning of tribute when I saw the video. Is that what a female is? A care-giver? And that is it?! Nope, her brains don't matter, her work...oh wait, she has no work except for that of a care-giver...it doesn't matter what age...if it's a little girl, you give your chocolate bar, if you're older, you give yourself - all your time and energy.

It's like when we think cows, we think milk and when we see females, we think babies!! Or worse, servants!! What's a woman's purpose in life? Cook, clean, feed, have babies and start over, till you reach menopause, in which case cook, clean and feed only.

And I thought we were in the 21st century! This is what is fundamentally wrong with our society. And there are actual bastards who still go about propagating this junk! Especially to little girls. What will such girls grow up to be? Goats?!

I'm not saying it's easy for guys...no it's not. All that junk about males are supposed to fend for all, they are supposed to  be 'strong', never cry, always be superior to their 'better halves', always prove to the world they are macho...junk yes. But in the whole scheme of things, at least they are supposed to be somebody, have a career, be known for their heads!

With girls, only two things matter, looks and services. Having a brain is actually a problem and a career, an even bigger one!

What do we do to fix this? Education isn't a problem. Heck, I know super-educated people, both girls and boys who talk about a woman's rightful place being her home and how work is good for a hobby. Why is this stupid cliche so difficult to break?


Saturday, January 24, 2015

The dolphin trip

When in Goa, you get used to people approaching you offering all kinds of services. There's massages, tattoos, food, rooms, kayaks and boat rides. Amongst these, I found the boat ride guy the most insistent fellow I'd ever known. For every day that I was in Goa,he persistently asked us for a ride, every single day. And no, there wasn't an ounce of resentment in him, no matter how many times we turned him down. Every time we went past him, he had that friendly smile on his face and very sweetly asked us, do you wanna go boating today? We bargained hard for price, and he gladly obliged, and when we still didn't go, all he did was smile, just like yesterday and the day before that and the day before that. Finally, I relented. Now, what's different about these people is they are always in a "zen" mode. Just like he didn't get angry when we refused, he wasn't overwhelmed with joy when I agreed either. Wish I was like that. Wish my state of mind did not depend on circumstances. Anyway, coming back to the point, he was medium happy when I agreed to go. In orientation, he had told us he would show us a couple of things, dolphins, and various beaches and the whole shebang. He was sure that if we did not see it all, our trip would be meaningless.

So one fine day, early in the morning, I joined six other people for the 'most beautiful boat ride' of Goa. There was a newly wed couple, I know cause the girl was wearing a 'chuda' (ridiculous if you ask me, they weren't even Punjabi for crying out loud and this has become a trend these days! No matter what caste you are, there will always be a baraat, a very very flamboyant engagement, a mangalsutra ceremony...it's like all the various Indian cultures are blending into one...on second thoughts, maybe that's a good idea...inter-caste marriages would definitely get easier). There was a Spanish/Russian mother-daughter or sisters' pair (either the mother was very very well-maintained or the elder sister was a lot older than the other), two British solo female travellers, both about 50 years old, the other one looked older though and well, me. Each of us had been individually coaxed and convinced that this was 'the' thing to do. Each of us was sure to find something outstanding. I was definitely feeling all relaxed and liberated...it's the air about that place. And so, with lightness in the head and hope in the heart, we started. I remember seeing a flock of birds fly past and then a pretty little sun, gazing at us from far away. Things couldn't be better. Things couldn't be prettier...and while thinking exactly that, the boatman stopped the boat. 

There was no intimation, no heads-up. We just stopped, right there, in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Soon we realized. The sightings had begun! The boatman showed us some big, pink and fat fishes jumping in and out of water, which he insisted were dolphins. Sometimes, we saw the tail fin, sometimes, the other fin(whatever it's called) and sometimes just a tiny horn kind of thing bobbing out for a fraction of a second. The first time it was gone before I even saw it, the second time, I stared hard and got a good look at it. I was pretty certain it was not a dolphin. I was incredulous. I looked around at my co-passengers. Did they believe this? It seemed like each one of us was too scared to admit what they saw wasn't a dolphin. Nobody said a word. We had quite a few sightings of these 'dolphins' before everyone finally realized that they were being taken for a ride (get it? get it?). These were just some random big fish, pretty, no doubt, but not dolphins. Soon we were all joking around that this trip should probably be called 'random big fish ride - shut up and give me your money'. By this time we had moved on to other places to see more 'dolphins'. But before this joke could get old, the boat made a phutting noise, quivered a little bit and stopped. 

Now I know we weren't being the most easy tourists et al, but well, that didn't mean we should be stranded in the middle of the ocean! To make things worse, there wasn't another boat in sight, far and wide. The foreigners started to shift in their seats a little bit when about 10 minutes had past...though it sure felt like an eternity. And it did not help that the boatman, the zen guy, was all sweat and tension. I tried asking him what was wrong and all he said was, it won't start! So with baited breath, we all sat there...waiting. 

After what seemed like forever but was actually just 20 mins...the boat rumbled and started. My immediate thought was to have this guy turn around and take us back, but he was determined. A 45-minute ride is what he had promised and a 45-minute ride is what he will give - excluding this time. 

So we were off again, but this time, we saw real dolphins! And oh so pretty! Of course I never could catch them on camera, but they are such lovely, majestic beings. One almost came right next to our boat. Friendly fishes these.
The boatman now took us to the 'butterfly' beach. Since this guy was a little difficult to understand, I explained this to my fellow passengers to which one of the ladies (the Brit), asked me if we were going to see butterflies. In truth, we were not. Whoever came up with this name for this beach was definitely high when he did...or at least drunk. Because that is the only way you can see a simple beach and say it looks like a butterfly...it didn't even look like half a butterfly, or a quarter. But well, by then, we were all so relieved to have at least seen the real dolphins, we had grown forgiving. So we nodded courteously and looked on...to other weird-named beaches. There were quite a few, mind you. Here's the butterfly beach below. :)


The ride was completed in the stipulated 45 minutes - not a minute more, not a minute less. The boatman happily dropped us off back to the shore and started out to look for more tourists...for the best boat ride of their lives.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The House Bermuda Triangle

Yes, it's true. There is a Bermuda Triangle in the house. Nobody knows where it is, duh! But it is there, as real as this article, or some such simile like that. The Bermuda Triangle is some place, may be in a parallel universe which has all the things that literally vanish from the house. Like magic! Poof! Yes, those things are really and forever, lost.

Now my father is known to be a very meticulous person. He sleeps on time, wakes up on time, eats on time, has a place designated for everything, and even in his sixties, is proud of a keen and sharp memory. He never forgets, especially when there's something wrong that I did something 15 years ago ;) or otherwise too. You can count on him to find your own lost things for you when you are in a rush to go some place. He knows exactly where to find it. Heck, if you've read my earlier posts, he found me a gold chain which was almost inconspicuous to the naked eye. He knows. He never loses things, that's his thing.

On one of those meticulous mornings, he very promptly got up early in the morning, had tea and left for his half hour cardio workout at the gym and came back. I was fast asleep. My morning generally doesn't start till he's had his second cup of tea and the maid has cleaned up the house and left. Anyway, when I woke up, he seemed jittery. He kept looking for something every where. Now I know it was too early in the morning for me to lose anything, I'd just woken up! So, seemingly confident (hoping it wasn't something I had misplaced the previous night), I walked up to him and asked what he was looking for.

He looked at me, all panic stricken and upset, "I can't find the house keys. I had them with me when I got in, in the morning but now I can't find them." And so saying, he went back to looking for it under the sofa, the table, in the cupboard, outside the cupboard, under the bed, over the bed, on the night stand, on top of the fridge, under the fridge, in the balcony, in the fridge (just in case) and what not. A good one hour went into looking for the object in question. I searched too, at first, and then pretended to search for it for another 15 mins, but no luck. He was disappointed.

But well, life goes on, doesn't it, after an hour and a half we sat down for breakfast. Of course, there was no other thing to talk about but the pretty key which just might turn up any minute now. So, my father went through his schedule aloud. And suddenly, in the middle of breakfast, he remembered he could have left it in the bathroom, so off he went, just to come back with a much more forlorn look on his face. Nope, it was not there.

I tried to console him, told him it happens to the best of us, but well, not to him. Never to him. While I went around my business and then left for office, he was still scouring the house, just short of wearing a lens. I got late when I returned from office that day, and frankly, had pretty much forgotten about the whole affair, but not him. We discussed a little more about the key at dinner, where could it be, who could have taken it, my father was obsessed with it. But no luck, not even a slight understanding of where it could be. He finally gave up and went off to sleep, or so I thought. But in the middle of the night, I heard some movement in the house, thinking about the worst, I stealthily got out of my room, only to find my father, looking for the untraceable key.

By the end of that week, he had almost given up, now the key only gets mention once a month or so, as the thing that went into the Bermuda Triangle, and may return any day now. :)

P.S: When I showed him this article, he said,"I still have to ask the sweeper and sewage people, in case they found it." It's been 3 months now. :)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

How I became an Engineer?

Funny how you reach a stage in your life and suddenly have this feeling of "How did I get here?". Well, to give a little background, I am a B.E. and have been working in ITeS for the past several years. And the question is, "How did I get here?".

So well, once you've chosen to become a computer engineer, you're pretty much set in your career path, unless you get a sudden jerk which makes you realize your true calling. Otherwise, you finish your engineering, then get a job or a post-grad and then get a job. And then your life is 9 to 5.

The real choice, then, was the one you made in your 11th standard, or junior college as some like to call it.

Flash-back to my 11th standard or rather, the start of it.

I was out of school (10th was the senior-most class), my board results had been announced, I stood 3rd in the whole batch of 10th standard, I was ecstatic. A week later, the same school that I was a part of, had admissions opening for the 11th standard.

I was still delirious from the joy of scoring well in the 10th. Wasn't really aware of anything else around either. In fact, I was thrilled when my father got me a brand new video game. My happiness was complete. There was nothing else that I really cared for. Career, future, job, money? What's all this to a 14 year old?

The day I was to apply for admissions, I got up on time and was ready to go to school. It felt weird applying in the school that I'd been studying all my life. It was probably a Sunday...or Saturday at least, since everything was really quiet outside. During the day I didn't really have any 'special' discussions with my mother or father. Nothing a day before that, nothing a month before that. Both of them wanted me to take my own decisions. Even at that tender age...specially when I was so silly and a kid. :)

When my father and I reached school, it looked just the same as it was when I last left it. Nothing had changed. When I was leaving I sure felt funny. As if the whole school would be different. All of us (my batch) were leaving, there ought to have been some effect! But no. The building stood just as tall. The school, our favourite hang-out, our favourite parking spot, the water taps lined up. All stood still and strong, just the way it was. My big life decision was not going to affect them at all.

A little perturbed and still completely clueless, I walked with my father to the admissions' window. Our favourite clerk, Ajay Sir was sitting there, smiling, grimacing rather, having to work on a holiday. A lot of my batchmates were also there with their parents...all waiting impatiently to decide their life.

And here I was, at the window, with not a clue in my head. I looked up to my father who had already started counting money to give to Ajay Sir. Ajay Sir had started to fill up the application receipt and when it was time to choose what course I wanted
Maths with Computers, Maths with Sanskrit, Maths with Biology, Biology with Computers or Commerce

He looked up from his desk for a very brief moment. And asked me, "So, what will it be?"

I blinked. Once, and another time.

Then I looked at my father and asked him. "What should I choose Papa?"

He shrugged and smiled, "Whatever you like."

I looked back at Ajay Sir who had begun to tap his pen on the desk time and again, waiting for an answer. A million eyes were piercing my back like daggers "get over with it already, we don't have all day".

And so I looked at Papa once more and said to Ajay Sir, "Maths with Computers".

He made a tick in 'Maths' and 'Computers'.

And my life's decision...was made.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Choices and clothes

Mondays are horrible. Everyone knows that. You need to get up in the morning and go to work, or college, or school or wherever. But you can't stay home. Then there is societal pressure to look a certain way (although people have begun to 'break' these norms every now and then, but mostly yes, people tend to follow). You're supposed to dress a certain way, one way for office, another for school et al. And then there is this constant pressure for you to look good, as per your definitions at least.

And that is where you get close to losing your mind, at times. You see, sometimes permutations and combinations are bad! Really really bad! And knowing about how many permutations and combinations can be made out of the things only makes it all the more worse for you.

Now here is what happened to me one fine Monday. It was a good day, I got up on time, exercised a good one hour, did some meditation, had breakfast on time. It was all good, until I went to dress up for office. I had decided on this combination to wear on Sunday night (yes, I sometimes do that) so that I wouldn't have to go through all the confusion the next day. But well, no one knows what the future holds in store for you.

I drew out the clothes I was to wear, long blue kurta-kinda top and black tights. I tried it on and then suddenly realized, maybe, just maybe this is a bit too casual for office, on a Monday. I took at least two-three good looks at myself in the mirror but was not convinced. This did not match my 'office personality'. Maybe something a little more conservative. Now I already had a black camisole on, so I thought, why not put on something that works with it, that way I would have one less piece of clothing to change. So off goes the blue top and on goes the formal purple top (slightly balloon-kinda), with a smart and short black skirt. Smart, yes, working for today? No. Unfortunately, the purple top was way too crumpled, so either I would have to iron it, or, change.

With only 10 minutes to spare, changing seemed like a better idea. So I go foraging for something that matches with the black skirt but isn't too formal (my office is mostly semi-formal on the most formal day so wearing a crisp white shirt seemed like overdressing). One top out, and second and third and I find a maroon top. Try it on, looks good. But not with the black skirt. Was a bit too long. On second thoughts, the skirt didn't look so impressive after all. Maybe switch the skirt for trousers which will go with this top.

So now I go searching for trousers in my deeper than dungeon cupboard. And I come across this smart new super expensive khaki trousers that I had bought a few weeks ago. A pair of trousers that were looser than they were supposed to be, but were the kind that made you want to live in them. But ya, they didn't look the best. And the maroon top didn't go with them either. I mean, the colour combination was just fine, but the make didn't match.

So what happens next? You guessed it. Off with the maroon top! (Might as well have been 'off with my head', I did feel like I was losing it by then)

In the god forsaken cupboard I find a blue top I'd been wanting to wear for a long time. So I try it on with the 'new' trouser I was wearing. Nope, didn't match. Took out 2-3 more tops to see if they would go with the trouser. None did.

The khaki trousers were too loose for all of them. Didn't match with anything. And by then, I was late. On a day when I had a good half hour just to get ready, I was late! I could have gotten ready three times by then on an ordinary day, but today was not one of those days.

I finally decided to go with the blue top. I had to wear it some day! And for the last time, went searching in the stupid cupboard for the umpteenth time. Found my old favourite pair of black trousers that go with everything and really well at that.

Try them on, and it's like magic. The blue top and these trousers get along as well as wine and cheese...or something that goes really well with each other.

Of course I'm about 10 mins late by then, and still haven't decided what earrings to wear... And here I was, all happy and jumpy that today was starting as the perfect day to a perfect week.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The day I lost my beautiful gold chain

This has never happened to me before this one time and it still amazes me.

Remember when you were a little kid and had that favourite pencil box which you loved to death. The watch that you had yearned for, all your life (whatever little life you had lived till then) and guarded with your life. The pen you gave to no one, the watch you had shown everyone with pride.

When we got bigger, things grew more expensive. A mobile. Pair of gold earrings. An even more expensive watch.   A gold chain...

This is the story of my gold chain. This chain had special significance in my life. It was not just any chain. It was given to me by my father, on graduation. It was a symbol of his pride and elation. It was a symbol of my achievement, my self-worth. It was a memory of how happy I had made my family. And it was just what I had wanted, for all these years. It was slightly thicker than a thread, was twisty and had the most beautiful pendant with three diamonds studded in the form of a clover leaf. It was the most beautiful thing. And I never removed it. Ever. It was too precious. It meant too much.

And I lost it. Through my sheer and utter negligence. Because of my own nonchalance.  Because of my haughtiness. Because of my ignorance.

I had removed it when I'd gone to the beauty parlor...and here's the beauty (pun intended) of the whole thing, I put it in the outer pocket of my bag, which had a hole in it, which I knew about. Anyway, I came home, dumped the bag in the foyer and forgot all about it.

The next day, the cleaning lady came early in the morning, swept the floor (including the foyer) and left. The cook came, finished her work and went past the foyer, and left. The milkman came, the newspaper guy came, and then, I woke up. Got ready for office. And realized, I forgot to take my chain out. From the bag. With the hole. In the foyer. Where everyone went past.

And I emptied the bag, twice, thrice and then once more. No chain. Gone. Just like that.

It was gone. And no matter how hard I racked my brains, I could not think of any other place that I could have left it. I had lost the most beautiful gift I had ever had. And I had no one to blame either, but myself.

With tears in my eyes, I told my father. He tried to brush it off but I could see the pain in his eyes too.

But I didn't want to give up. Not just yet. I decided I'd search the house, all over again. Papa joined me in the search and we looked around, turned the house upside down. No chain. All was lost.

The last idea that hit me was to go check in the lift. Not the brightest idea, but the only one I had. And I dashed out of the house with such a force that for a second, I frightened myself. Frightened of the disappointment that would ensue, if I did not find it there.

Papa offered to come out too. We both left our flat and decided to look some more. In fact, he had already started looking at teeny tiny inches outside our door which I thought irrelevant.

And he found it! HE FOUND IT! The chain, slightly thicker than a thread, twirled up, with the pendant shaped like a clover leaf.

I cried then. Never let him see it. But I cried. It felt like life had been restored back to normal. It felt like everything in this world was good again. It felt like there is still hope in this world.

It felt like seeing a thousand butterflies fleeting around me.


The problem with stand up comedy acts

Today I was watching this 'Just for Laughs' episode which brings in shows of various stand-up comedians and it suddenly hit me. How does this whole thing work? I mean, I know how it works...(duh!). But what is it like? It's another thing to go watch a movie....be it a thriller or what not, you don't exactly know what to expect. But with stand up acts. You do. Exactly.

You are going there to laugh. Worse, you are prepared to laugh. No really! You go in with the idea of going someplace, and laughing. Then it makes me wonder, isn't laughter supposed to be...I don't know...spontaneous? In this case, you've lost the spontaneity for sure. Is it even really funny any longer?

Has our life grown so lack luster that we are forced to go watch a show to laugh? Something somewhere seems to have gone terribly wrong. If you think back and try to figure out how it all started...the stand up comedy acts that is...I'd say it was the court jester who started it all. But the very same question comes to haunt you.

Why aren't people generally happy? Why do they have to go borrow a few moments of happiness in their entire life? Would it be easier to live in a utopian world where everyone is happy, everyone is good?

Or is it that there is no such thing as too much happiness? Too much fun? Which is why, stand up comedians will always be in business.