Saturday, April 30, 2011

Crib-Post # 2

Of the many weird things that people often ask me, this one clearly takes the cake. "Was your marriage an arranged one or a love one?" I mean "What the f***?"

No, seriously. And this question is asked in the most unlikely of situations too.

So, second day of office after transfer to Calcutta and this colleague saunters into my cubicle with a grin on his face. "I didn't know you are married." "Um.. mm.. been one year," and I smiled, not knowing what else to do. "You look young! Was it a love marriage?" he implored, with a gossip-starved look on his face. "No, it was arranged by my parents." He walked away with all his hopes of finding an interesting story washed down the drain.

And he is not the only one. Old friends who meet after a long time, people who you have met just an hour back, clients who have this nosy habit of asking about which gulli of which village did your grandfather come from... they all would invariably include this question as part of the "How are you?s and How do you do?s" and I am left wondering how does it really matter?

Maybe I am cribbing also because I do not have this knack for asking too many nosy questions to others about their lives. I mean if there is something I should know, the other person would tell me himself, right?

Or is it only that I have too many weird people around me?

Friday, April 22, 2011

So, what is your Cause?

A few weeks back, we saw almost the whole of India take on the Govt in support of Anna Hazare. The objective was very noble: to root out corruption from the country and punish the scumbags who have been scouring the country hollow. Prominent amongst those who came out on to the streets to protest were actors, celebrities and youngsters.

Yes. Youngsters. Which should mean that the youth of India is responsible, aware and concerned. That makes the future of India bright and shining indeed. Only if.

Now, I do not wish to make a generalized statement. I am far too ill-informed to make one. Just that a lot of things about the whole incident amuse me to no end. And they, more worryingly, also scare me to some extent.

On TV I saw a school-kid (barely into his teens) making strong statements in support of the movement and justifying his presence at the protest-site. I would have loved to ask that poor soul some more questions about the movement. But I wasn't at the site myself. Now, please do not get me wrong. I am not commenting on the movement or its sanctity at all, in fact if there is something that this post is not about, it's the movement itself.

Gullibility can be dangerous. And something that can be even more dangerous is to think that it is fashionable to project that you are concerned, and aware, and responsible. When a very close friend cajoled me to join him for the candle-light vigil, I implored him - 'Why are you supporting this movement?'
'It's about corruption!' - he glared at me, I being this national traitor.
'So, you think corruption can be eradicated by doing what the movement seeks to do?' I persisted.
He gave me a blank look. 'They are protesting against corruption!' - he tried to redeem himself. And then, to belittle it all, he said, 'Plus the crowd would be good *wink*'...

I have seen people who go the extra mile. From flaunting a habit as eclectic as "I'm Vegetarian on Tuesdays" to something as done-by-all as "I don't wear Fur". They wouldn't touch fire-crackers on Diwali because they support the movement against noise and air pollution, but would go crazy bursting them when Indian cricket team wins the World Cup. The rise of social networking sites has taken these to a new maddening level.

Let's make the world a little more normal, shall we? And no it's not cool if you start a movement for 'making the world normal'!!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

It feels like Home

Potholed roads, dirty streets, people bickering over how Dada was cheated and humiliated by that 'enemy of the land' SRK (personally, I detest them both), election loud-speakers and rallies, overcrowded Metros (God didn't want me to miss Mumbai local trains after all), and the horrid weather making you sweaty and smelly. Still, it feels like home. That must be because it is home, duh.

What I am trying to imply is that I do not want to crib about Calcutta the way I used to about Bombay. And that's because there are so many good things about it. For example:

Ambassador Taxis:
Yes, I am fed-up of the tiny Fiat-taxis of Bombay (after bumping my head n number of times, while getting in, while getting out, while sitting in the cab!). The Calcutta taxis are the massive ambassadors, which not only carry 8 people aaram se, and as many luggage bags as you may possibly want to fit in the boot, they also have some other very unique uses, one of which is displayed in the attached picture.

Didi Fights:
Have you ever seen a stern-looking, Bong Didi? If you have not, you may not really get it. These females have  the same look : thick-rimmed glasses, fat round bindi on their forehead, lots of sindoor, always immaculately clad in a saree, and ready to pick up fights with the drop of a hat. And only God can save you from their wrath should you step on their toes or nudge them in a crowded bus. However, when two such Didis fight with each other (which is very often, believe me), it can make for helluva entertainment.

Mishti Doi, Puchka and Jhal-mudi:
Every time I visited Calcutta, I would hog on these like someone who's returned from Sahara. You would think now that I am in Calcutta, I would stuff myself so much that I would cease to like them anymore. Let's say there is no such thing is too much Puchka or Jhal-mudi or Mishti Doi. Yum!

The Chaap factor:
Now, if you speak to the father of a Bong Class X student (or Class XII or College for that matter), you will know how much chaap his son is under. And that is why, his son needs to be fed by his mom like a toddler and also his father needs to carry an umbrella over his head when he steps out. Unfortunately, the chaap factor never goes away. You talk to the GM Finance of a reputed company, and you know that your proposal is taking ages to get cleared because the GM is under so much chaap. This net net means that you can also boast of all the chaap that you carry on your shoulders, shirk work and be happy!
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