June 30, 2011

Tag time.

A random tag I picked up from somewhere.

1. Without sharing your name, who are you?
I’m that girl your mom loves as much as she loves you. I’m that girl who laughed out loud when you said the most romantic line in history. I’m that girl who can’t stop laughing over some small incident for hours together. I’m the one will look at you ridiculously if you so much as suggest dieting. I’m the one who spent the last five hundred bucks she had to satisfy an insane craving for the lasagna at Ofen. I’m the one who sat like a rock through a sappy senti movies, but cried like a baby when Dumbledore died. I’m the girl-next-door who can be the girl of your nightmares too.

2. Describe yourself in less than five words.
Refer to my bio.

3. Do you have any special talents? What?
Just the one. Writing. Unless you count an extremely sarcastic tongue as a talent.

4. Are there any talents you wish you had? What?
I wish I had some musical talent. I love to sing, but sadly, only I can bear with it. Sigh…
I also wish I could play an instrument, especially the guitar.

5. What are your most important interests? What do you like about them?
I love reading. That’s what keeps me sane, and that’s what inspires me to write.

6. What is your opinion of Lady Gaga?
Gah- gah.

7. If you could go anywhere right this second, where would you go?
I would go home, to mom and dad. I’ve been craving for some rice and fish fry for many days now.

8. What are your favorite foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
Breakfast, I don’t eat much. Mainly because I don’t wake up in time to make anything. So I end up eating bread or biscuits or Chocos. For lunch, a bit of rice and sambar/dal/majjiga pulusu and sabji. For dinner, I try to avoid eating rice. Either roti or maggi. Actually, I can eat maggi any time of the day. Besides these, give me chicken and fish every day, I’ll happily eat. Except for in the breakfast.

9. Do you have siblings? Talk about them; if not, talk about being an only child.
I have an elder sister. And she’s the best in the world. She’s married, settled in Bangalore, and works in corporate communication.

10. Do you like sports? What teams do you support?
Nope. Not at all. I was just a not-so-silent spectator during sports days in school. The only ‘sport’ I ever excelled in was skipping. Because I was an asthma patient as a kid, I was never allowed to take part in sports and all. And then, I just lost interest.

11. Do you have any tattoos? If not, would you ever get one?
I don’t have one now, but I would LOVE to get one!

12. Have you ever donated blood? Why or why not?
No, I haven’t. I’m terrified of needles.

13. How do you like your coffee and/or tea?
I like it, be it coffee or tea, with less milk (I hate milk), more water, a bit strong, with very little sugar.

14. Are you left- or right-handed?
Right-handed.

15. If you’re in college, what are you studying? If not, what did/what are you planning to study?
I finished college in 2007 (Man, am I old or what...). I studied B.A. English Literature. And then did M.A. in Communication. (ok now this is starting to read like a profile for a matrimonial site).

16. What are some of your short-term goals?
Save money. Improve my writing. Get more freelance work and bylines.

17. What kind of music do you like?
Ah… old hindi songs. I could listen to them all day long. I’m basically a Bollywood junkie.
Other than that, selective English songs, like ‘The Doors’, a bit of Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, some of Dire Straits.. It depends. I like particular songs of theirs than follow the band as such.

18. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
Anywhere cold. Or at least cool. One place I would love to live in is Dehradun or Nainital, mainly because of the way it is described by Ruskin Bond. Outside India, I would love to live in Switzerland.

19. Have you ever been overseas? Where and when?
No. :(


20. Have you ever been to the circus? What did you think at the time?
Ooh yes!! I love the circus! But it’s been ages since I’ve been to one.

21. Are you wearing shoes right now? If so, describe them. If not, describe your socks/feet.
I’m wearing purple and beige colour chappals that I bought from Brigade Road in Bangalore. Comfortable, purple, and cheap- what more would I want? And it doesn’t look bad either.

22. List some things you’d like to do before you die.
Hmmm.. 1) Fly 2) Go to the tallest building in the world (heights excite me. It’s so exhilarating!) 3) Learn to bake 4) Build my dream home. 5) Learn to play guitar. 6) Go on a world tour. 7) Write at least one book.
Etc…
More on this here.

23. What do you prefer to write with; pencil, pen, crayon, Sharpie, lipstick, chalk, etc?
Pencil. I love the sound it makes, when you write with a pencil on paper. There’s something very inexplicably musical about it.

24. Do you like movies? What are your favorites?
I like movies, ya. Favourites are too many to list here.

25. Do you like chocolate? What’s your favorite kind? If not, WHY.
I like chocolate. I don’t love them. My favourites would be Twix, Ferrero Rocher, Dairy Milk Silk Roast Almond, then some of those wafer types. I LOVE chocolate cakes, though. And chocolate ice-cream as well. Oh alright, pretty much anything chocolate-flavoured.

I tag Priyanka, Arun, Time-out, Destiny's Child, the Dewdrop, and anyone else who wants to be tagged. Have fun!

Damn you!!!

The cover story of the latest India Today is about the ridiculous cut-off marks that many colleges in our country require for admission, making it a disappointing affair for students who miss out on joining their dream college because of a few marks.
The main cover page had a line that caught my eye- Exams have made a mockery of the education system.

And that triggered off another memory in my mind.

***

When: Circa 2009

I was nearing completion of my M.A. I had a definite idea in mind that I wanted to get into radio, but because of the whole recession charade, there was hire-freeze everywhere, and the chances of anyone in our batch getting a job looked slim.
So one day, Acha called up and asked me what I was planning to do, etc.

Acha: So what are you planning to do,mole?

Me: I don’t know, Acha. I’m really not sure. I guess I’ll look for a job…

Acha: What about higher studies? Don’t you want to study more? If getting a job now looks difficult, then apply for another course.

Frankly, I had had enough by then. I didn’t want to go any higher than M.A.

Me: Hmmm..ya, that’s an option I guess. But the problem is, Acha, I’m sick and tired of writing exams. I hate them. If I’m studying more, I want to study for the joy of learning, not for passing an exam. The whole concept is skewed. I’ve had enough of cramming the day before the exams just so that I could get marks. Where am I learning anything? For me, knowledge matters more than education.

Ya ya, I know what you’re thinking. Save it.

Acha (the wise-crack): Ok..that’s nice. Why don’t you do one thing? Come back here to TVM…
Me: (waiting for the pearls of wisdom)

Acha: … and enroll for one of those courses that they hold for prisoners in the Central Jail here. They don’t have exams there, from what I’ve heard. (and breaks into laughter)

Didn’t I tell you? Wise-crack.

***

The point is, I hate exams. When I was in school, till about 6th- 7th standard, I didn’t have much of a problem with exams. Because I used to be an expert at learning things by rote. I can still do it pretty well, but choose not to.

But the older I got, I started having an aversion towards this pressure cooker called examination. It wasn’t even fear, like some people I know had. It was just plain hatred. What is the point of having exams? Especially when some of our teachers used to give us most of the questions beforehand itself. What exactly am I learning? By the time I reached 11th and 12th standard, I actually started to fear exams, because I used to fail consistently in Physics and Chemistry. I lost sleep. I became a recluse.

Exams in college were a different matter altogether. If any of you have studied English Literature, you’ll know what I’m talking about. When Shakespeare and Wordsworth and Yeats were writing their best works, would they have wanted it to be a thing of beauty, or a tool to judge future generations of students?For a 10 marks questions, you’re expected to write 3-4 pages of answer. The more, the better. By the end of three hours, I couldn’t even feel my fingers. They were beyond numb with pain. Students didn’t discuss what they had written and how well. They discussed how many pages they had written, how many extra sheets were taken. We would look up in envy at the person taking the most number of extra sheets. The more someone else took, the more we panicked that we’re not writing enough. The one with the most number of pages would be the hero for the day.

Even I’ve done that. Written 27-28 pages.Pages after pages of essays and annotations. Essays and annotations that could be explained just as clearly in even two pages even. But that’s not the point, is it? The sad part is, Kerala University is very unpredictable. You can write 50pages and still get only 50marks.

But the real aversion for exams came after I joined HCU. In a semester of 4-5 months, we would have ample assignments, term papers, production work etc to keep us busy through the whole sem. As a result, when exams dates are announced, there is a mad scramble to get Xerox copies of notes, mostly the day or two before the exam. That’s when the Xerox centers in the university do maximum business. And the day before, armed with our notes, we go to the library to try and make sense of what was taught in an entire semester in just one day. We would try to read, have umpteen number of chai-samosa breaks, drink plenty of water, go to the loo, and generally waste time.

More often than not, my friend Arun and I used to end up chucking the entire thing and go out for dinner to Kairali. It’s another thing that the ass***e got a 9-point average and I got a 7.6. Anyways.

But after I left HCU, I realized- I didn’t learn anything. Really. I didn’t learn anything that I could apply to my field of choice. My first job was in the radio, something that they didn’t teach us. I learnt it on the job. My current job is in Corp Comm, something that we were taught to shun. There are so many of my friends, really intelligent types (not geeks), who joined engineering because they wanted to learn it, but now are battling with numerous backlogs.

I would love to study more.. Honestly..But exams…? You and I don’t get along, buddy… Let’s not cross each other’s paths, shall we? If I want to know about something, I would much rather Google it and read up about it. At least, Google won’t expect me to write 300 words about Victorian poets and ICT’s.

Much as people ridicule Bollywood, you can’t help but agree with what ‘3 Idiots’ was trying to convey, can you? And that’s the main reason I love that movie.

Isn’t there a solution to this madness?

P.S:- I realize that this post has been a test to your patience. Apologies...

June 23, 2011

Blogging etiquettes

I’ve been blogging since 2008. Well, technically. I seriously started only this year.

There are a few things I’ve learnt in these few months that I would like to share here, hoping that it will be of some use to someone. These are not rules, just etiquettes, according to me.

1) Keep your template simple. It’s easier for others to read. Cramming the main page with too many things isn’t very nice. If you have a lot of things to display, then make separate links. (I may also be saying this because I have seen a lot of awards adorning the main page of some blogs, and I’m just plain jealous that I haven’t got any yet. *sniff* I’m fine.)

2) As much as possible, try to keep your template colour light. A black colour template sure looks classy, but it’s a pain to read, and by the time you’ve reached the end of it, you feel like you’ve just finished watching Saawariya. And you do remember how painful that was, don’t you?

3) No matter how much of a great writer you are, and how popular your blog is, try as much as possible to reply to comments. Because there are readers, like me for example, who will obsessively keep checking whether their comment has been published or not and whether the writer has replied. A little bit of humility goes a long way.

4) Never call anyone’s writing bad, unless you are any authority on it. Everyone has a different style, and not everyone walks around with a Wren and Martin all the time. Writers are a sensitive lot. I strongly believe in the saying “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Constructive criticism is good, but make sure you don’t cross the line to just plain mean.

5) If you’re writing a post that was inspired from another one, don’t hesitate to admit it. Giving someone their due credit will not harm you in any way. Give a link to it on your post, and if possible, let that blogger know that they’ve been an inspiration, in however small possible way. It feels nice.

6) I know I myself don’t follow this much, but still, has to be said. Avoid long-winding posts. There are many attention-deficit readers around, like me for example. I tend to look at the length of the post first and then proceed to read it, mainly because I don’t like reading too much of content off my monitor. Brevity is the soul of wit, said Shakespeare. Brevity is the soul of blogging, says Divya. Ahem.

7) A catchy blog name is very important. I myself tend to read random blogs that I find on others’ blog rolls with catchy names. Didn’t some wisecrack say, that first impression is the best impression? My blog name is way too long, and I wish I could change it. But I’ve used it for so long that I don’t feel like changing it anymore.

8) Whatever you do, do NOT write blog posts in SMS language. I won’t elaborate much on this because I’ve said too much already, and as it is, people are starting to watch what they say to me. (I think they picture me in Hitler’s uniform with a grammar book in hand instead of a ..umm..what did Hitler carry? A gun?)

9) Read a lot of blogs. Share them on your blog.Spread the joy. You can get some really good ideas for your own blog by reading others'.

10) I don't have a number 10. I just didn't want to leave it at 9.

Hmm.. What else? That’s all I can think of for now. If you guys have any suggestions, drop it in the comment box. Happy blogging!! :)

June 21, 2011

Why Salman Khan is my superstar.

I travel to Bangalore once in a while, because there’s a mini unit of my family there (as every Malayali has). And since I’m very very prompt in booking tickets, I don't get train tickets and end up going by bus most of the times.

Now, I don’t have any problem as such with buses, since most of them are those AC types with push-back seats and all, but I don’t enjoy it so much. Because of two main reasons. One, I’ll be paranoid all throughout that I’ll need to pee and that they won’t stop the bus anywhere at night. And then I’ll think so much about it, that after a while, I’ll simply have to go! And obviously, they won’t stop the bus according to everyone’s bladder conditions, right? I won’t go pee behind a bush or a building either (as the driver of the bus I travelled last week in suggested). So for the most part, my sleep goes away thinking about when I’ll get to pee next. (I think I can see diabetes approaching me quite determinedly).

Another major reason is, the movies that they play. In a bus that goes from Hyderabad to Bangalore, or the other way round, they’re most likely to play a Telugu or Kannada movie. And oh good lord… I don’t understand Kannada at all, but I do understand quite a bit of Telugu, and that somehow makes it worse. No offense to any of my Telugu readers, but the movies are not very watchable. And since I have a back problem, I always opt for the seats right in front. So even if I push a roll of cotton inside my ears and close my eyes tight, I just cannot ignore the bombs exploding right in front of my face and Amisha Fatso Patel filling up the entire screen. I just give in to my fate and watch the movie.

Which (finally!) brings me to the point of this post. Last week when I was going to Bangalore, they put “Wanted” in the bus. I did a little happy jig right where I was sitting! I mean, come on! Sallu Bhai was going to make sure that my bus journey wouldn’t be a bore. When they paused the movie in between to halt for dinner and ‘toilet’, I was pretty disappointed. I couldn’t wait for the journey to resume so that I could get back to watching Radhe bash up the villains left, right and centre. Never mind that Ayesha ’40-inches-boobs-is-all-you-can-see’ Takia’s acting was sad, as long as Sallu Bhai did what he did best, I was one happy passenger.

So why do I think Salman Khan is a superstar?

1)Because he doesn’t need to endorse fairness creams to prove to people that he is ‘fair and handsome’.



2)Because I can’t think, honestly, of any actor who looks so good in a police uniform. I mean, seriously.




3)Because no one else would’ve gotten away with a film like Dabangg.



4)Because no one else can do a film like Dabangg.

5)Because though he may remove his shirt at every given opportunity, it’s kinda worth it.




6)Because no one else can wear flaming red pants and still manage to not look gay.

7)Because he doesn’t pretend to not have an ego. He has one, he knows it, and he flaunts it.

8)Because though he may have had problems in his personal life- what with the run-ins with the law and all- when he comes on to screen, audiences still watch open-mouthed.

9)Because he dared to do a role like the one in “Tere Naam”, and pulled it off with √©lan.

10)Because he is the original lover-boy of Indian cinema. He may be a 40-year old hulk now, but somewhere, you can still see the boyish charm of the Prem of Hum Aapke Hain Kaun and Maine Pyaar Kiya.






11)Because he had the heart to mentor someone like Himesh ‘I-love-my-nose’ Reshammiya.

12)Because he had the sense to not pursue Aishwarya Rai any further. Thank god.

13)Because not many can look good with a moustache, and he is one of the few who do.

14)Because if anyone else had said dialogues like “Main khudh nahi jaantha ki main kitna kameena hoon” (Wanted), I would’ve laughed out loud. Instead, I clapped. For a minute, I mistook the darkened interiors of the bus to be a theatre.



15)Because even though he may not be the best dancer in Bollywood, his dancing style is inimitable.

16)Because whatever role he does- corrupt police, undercover cop, a lover-boy, a musician, or a role that he did in Tere Naam(I don’t really know how to describe it)- you just can’t ignore his style.

So who cares whether his character is dheela or not. He’s still my superstar.

Here's another kindred spirit.

Note:- All images from Google.

June 16, 2011

Password please

Flash fiction in 200 words.
***

“Oh god! How could I be so stupid?!”, she cried.

“Is that a rhetorical question?”, her husband chided her.

She threw him a mutinous look, and looked back at her computer monitor. Clearly, this was not a time for humour.

“Ok, ok. What happened now? I’ll help if I can.”

“You know how the internet protocol usually says that for every account that you create on the net, use a different password?”

“Ya.. so?”

“So, that’s exactly what I did. Five different passwords for five different websites, and now I can’t remember what password I gave for my online shopping account. What do I do now??!!”

“Ok, relax. Just click on “Forgot Password”, and they’ll generate a new one for you.”

“Ya, I guess I’ll have to do that… Damn, I’m not going to give so many different passwords ever again. I hope I remember the rest of them.”

“Well, you should’ve thought of that before registering on all those online shopping sites. You’ll get purple shoes in stores also, you know. ”

*Gasp!!* “ Purple shoes! That’s my password!! Yay!!! I love you, seriously!”

“Next time, just give my name as the password. You’ll never forget that.”

“Err.. right…”

June 13, 2011

"Murder!!", she cried.

Victim: The English language.

Suspect(s): All of us.

I have no respect whatsoever for people who murder and mutilate the English language. Call me a prude, call me a bitch, whatever, but I stand by what I say. I will not even read a message if it is written entirely in SMS language.

The worst part is, there are several kinds of these English-language murderers:-

1) The ones who think it’s ok to omit the vowels (other than the articles ‘a’ and ‘an’, or if it is the first letter of a word). After all there are just five of them, right?
Eg:- Wht a wndrfl dy.
Fck ff.

2) The ones who add the extra letters at the end or in between, hoping to sound enthusiastic or prove a point.
How are youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu???? Loooooooooooooooooooooonggggggggggggggggggg timmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmeeeeeeee!!!!
Yes, but not as long as it will take me to get over that greeting.

3) The ones who substitute ‘s’ with ‘z’.
Hi friendzzzzzzzzzz. How izzzz life?!
Great. How is your zexy wife?

4) The ones who use letters as whole words.
Y r u sad? Is it d t?
Kill me.

5) The ones who purposely mutilate the spelling even when it doesn’t make much of a difference to the original word length, except for one or two letters.
It ws a reeli awesum nite. I luv u.
Wat???

6) The ones who change spellings in the misconception that they sound cool.
Mah frendz say I’m kewl and a dahling.
Eww.

7) The ones who leave out the ‘g’ in an ‘-ing’ word.
I’m goin swimmin.
What did the ‘g’ do to you that you’re leaving it out, you big bully?

8) The ones who don’t capitalize the first letter of the first word of a sentence.
how are you? hope you’re fine.
Come on, guys, that’s basic. All it takes it a simple press of the shift button.

9) The ones who don’t capitalize ‘I’.
i luv u. i reeli do.
If you can’t give yourself respect while writing, then how can you expect someone else to give it to you?

10) The LOL- and ROFL-ers. No more comments.

11) The ones who combine the ‘cks’ to ‘x’.
My life roxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx!
Tell me, will you like it if someone asks you how your ‘secks’ life is?

12) The ones who are careless enough to mix up similar sounding words. Ok, this is not a murder, but a casualty nonetheless.
Their was ones a girl whose parents where very poor.

13) The ones who think that language and maths can be seamlessly blended.
My luv 4 u is gr8. I cnt wait 2 meet u. Will cal u l8r.
Thhu!!

14) The ones who think it’s ok to not use commas and full stops.
Hi how are you I am fine what are you doing what is wrong with you get lost you loser bye goodnight.
It’s like loose motion. Believe me.

15) The ones who ‘forget’ the apostrophes.
I dont know. He wont tell me. cant you tell me?

I know what half of you are thinking. “Bitch, thinks she’s some kind of a scholar, huh, just because she studied English Literature[spellcheck done, Red Handed;)]?” No, I have no such illusions. I’m just saddened by the way the language has deteriorated. I used to be like that. I cringe when I read my old posts. The Facebook, Twitter and SMS generation has murdered the language. And sadly, I’m also a part of that generation... And the most brutal murderers are the ones who say “What’s your problem? We’ll write whichever way we want.” I just feel sorry for their children, who’ll be taught A 4 Apl at skool.

If there’s anyone out there who shares my angst, do pitch in.

June 12, 2011

To you, with love.

Anyone who is a writer wants to see their own book published sometime or the other. I'm no different.

The only problem is, I’m not making any effort towards it.

But that doesn’t deter me from writing the acknowledgements. You know, the page(s) where I thank people for being with me, for being an important part of my life and making my book a success.

P.S:- If I've missed anyone out, I apologize.

So here is it.

Acha for being the best dad I could’ve asked for, for having utmost faith in my judgement and choice. The faith that you have in me has helped me have more faith in myself. I didn’t know how much you trusted my judgement until you told it to someone else and that person told me. A ‘good job’ from you means more to me that the highest grades. The slightest hint of disappointment from your part and my mind will blow a fuse. It’s ok if you’re not the type who gives hugs or calls me cute nicknames. You let me and Chechi go when you thought the time was right, and that was the best thing you’ve done for us. My strength, comes from your strength.

Amma, for being such a darling mom. For teaching me A B C D’s. For asking me questions while I revised for exams, and nodding off in between. For waking up at four in the morning along with me when I had to study. For the extremely patient person that you are. For having the heart to cook the best non-veg for us even though you’re a vegetarian. For passing on the genes of cooking to me, the only good thing I managed to inherit from you. For all the drama that you do.

Chechi, for being my inspiration. If I can ever be half the person you are, my life is worthwhile. For being the doting elder sister. For all the times you’ve tagged me along with you, for all the times you’ve been there for me. For giving back my old chechi to me, the one who I used to play cricket inside the house with, with a diary and rubber ball; the one I used to fight for the phone with; the one whose clothes I used to shamelessly borrow; the one who always knows what I want even without asking me. I know I’m not the best sister around. I know I can be an utter fool sometimes. I know I’ve done plenty of things to make you ashamed of me. But I’m trying my best to make you proud of me, and some day, I will.

My grandpa, Velyachan, for the inspiration that you are to everyone in the family. I wish you were alive, to see that your Ammu writes. I got that from you, Velyacha. They don’t make men like you anymore.

My grandma, Acchama (dad’s mother), for being the strongest woman I’ve ever seen. You brought up three children pretty much all by yourself, and lived alone till the day you died at age 80. Our summer holidays wouldn’t have been the same if not for your home-made grape wine, yummy food, your constant bickering with us for watching too much T.V., and the wonderful mango tree in your garden. I have forgotten what it is to have a summer vacation now.

Mamu, for being a wonderful uncle. You’re simply the best. The devotion that you’ve had towards Velyachan and Ammamma is something every son should learn from.

Anand, Chattu, Nisha, Saty, Roro, Vijish, Meera, Reshu:- for being a permanent fixture in my life for the past 14-15 years. I know you guys will be there even when I grow old and be bent over double with age. I know that you guys will be there even if I tell you to go away. I know that even if I murder somebody, you will be there for me. Yes, you will probably slap me for murdering, but you will still be there for me. There isn’t any side of me that you guys haven’t seen, and yet, you guys love me unconditionally. [If I have to thank each of you individually, that'll be an entire book in itself. Sorry for the grouping. :(]

Arun, for redefining the whole concept of friendship for me. I must’ve done something extremely great in my last birth to have got a friend like you in this birth. I’ve probably been the nastiest to you, but you’ve still stuck on. Now you know why I call you ‘Satellite’. You’re also the biggest pain in the ass I’ve ever met, undoubtedly. If I ever write a book someday, you’ll be the first person to read it, just like you’re the first to read whatever I write now.

Hosku, for being a wonderful roommate and friend. For being there when I’ve wanted to bawl my eyes out. For knowing things about me that no one knows and yet, not judging me for it. For being there, yet giving me my space. I hope I’ve been able to do the same for you. And yes, also for being a great cook. Makes life so much easier for me.

Sree, for showing me that happiness needn’t necessary mean leaving home, having a job, living alone, and being independent. You’ve always been there for me, be it in college when I didn’t know how to board a KSRTC bus, or when I had started to lose faith in myself. I know I don’t say it enough, but you’re a wonderful, wonderful girl. I hope every mother gets a daughter like you, who chose her widowed mother’s happiness over her own. I will always admire you for that. And my admiration for you has now doubled because of the profession you are in- teaching- one of the most difficult things to do.

Pakki, for introducing a whole new world of insanity to me. I never knew what it is to be completely mad, yet amazingly grounded, till I met you. For making my life a roller-coaster ride each and every day, every single moment. Dedication for one’s art, I learnt from you. For the ultimate PJ’s that you crack, pathetic as they are. For making me laugh with your hay-wire imagination.

Ajish, for being one of my most loyal readers and critic. For giving hundred percent honest reviews about my posts. I thoroughly enjoy our ‘intellectual’ conversations. I hope someday, you will muster up the courage to send your poems to publications.


My wonderful teachers, Sarat Sir and Becket Sir in particular, for having faith in me. Sarat Sir, for kindling a passion for the English language in me, and Becket sir for believing that I’m cut out for better things in life. AJ Sir, for making me a radio- fanatic.

Shobana Ma’m, for being a wonderful boss. I don’t think I’ll ever get a boss like you ever again in my life, and I’ve made my peace with it. The one year and four months that I spent in Red FM was one of the most important phases of my life, and you were an integral part of it. For yelling your head off at me one minute, and then taking me out for dessert to Ofen the very next. For treating me as not just a mere employee, but as a friend, confidante, and a sister.

Barath, aka Mommy, for introducing me to the world of blogging. If you hadn't sat with me that evening in the library and convinced me to create this blog, and guided me how to, I probably wouldn't have written so much. I know I'm not as much a celebrity as you are in the blogosphere, but I hope to catch up some day. :)

The regular readers of my blog, for being a great audience and encouraging me. I put half my life out here, on my blog, for the whole world to read. It is overwhelming when people accept it, enjoy it, and appreciate it. What began as just a hobby, a vent for my emotions, has now turned into an addiction for me. An addiction that I’m not afraid of.

To each and every person who has appreciated my writing. It works like a drug.

And not to forget, the dude up there, for putting up with this cranky, temperamental girl who, I’m sure, gives you a headache every single day with her antics. Still, I know I’m your favourite child. All I need to do is ask, and you’ll give it to me. Even without a bribe. :) Ok now, when can I have that bunglaw in Banjara Hills? About time, you know.

Looks like I already have half my book.

June 10, 2011

Sign-o-drama

I have the world’s crappiest signature.

In school, when we had to sign for the hall ticket in tenth standard, the whole class got so excited. Because it was the first time our signature was being given importance. Till then, other than your mom and dad who’ve taught you how to write, who else really cares for your signature?

So when it was announced that the teacher would be bringing our forms the next day for our glorious signatures, we all got to work furiously- practicing the perfect sign. Homeworks and daily lessons took a backseat. This was an important thing for us 15 year-olds. The pages of our notebooks were filled with our scrawls. We took advice from parents, siblings, neighbours, uncles, aunts, of what the perfect sign should be. Some said, write only your first name, some said write your full name. Some said make it very complicated, so that no one can forge it.

How complicated can one make ‘Divya’?

So after pages and pages of practicing, I thought I finally had perfected it. Just the first name, nothing very complicated.

When the teacher brought the forms to class, we were doing some last minute practicing. And that’s when I realized- I sign differently every time. Each signature of mine was different from the previous one! Either a dot here or a line there- something or the other was different. But still, it didn’t look bad. When the teacher called out my turn, I went confidently, pen held high before me, ready to conquer the forms.

It literally looked like a crow had taken a crap on that little box. And I think I made a little hole in the form also, with the final dot.

It’s still the same. When I sign my name for fun in books, it turns out decent. But when I have to put it somewhere actually, it turns out embarrassingly horrible.
But I had made my peace with it. I had learnt to accept my scrawl, just like I had learnt to accept my godawful handwriting.

Until…

Until Standard Chartered decided to teach me a lesson.

That’s where my salary account is. Right from the beginning, that bank was jinxed for me. First, I managed to rub off the ATM pin before I could note it down (I know. Charming, right?). Then they said that until I make some transaction, I cannot apply for a new pin number. But how am I to make a transaction when I didn’t have an ATM card, du-uh! They said I can do it through internet banking, with the username and password that they had sms’ed me. Yes, the very same username and password that I had nonchalantly deleted from my inbox, again, without noting it down. So finally, I trudged down to the bank, stood in line, made a transaction, and to cut a long (for me) story short, I got a new Debit card.

Then I had to go back there to deposit a cheque one day. After standing in the queue for half an hour, when I reached the counter, the teller looked at the deposit slip, checked something on his computer, and declared that my signatures didn’t match.
History had come back to bite my ass.

Apparently, there was a difference in the lines I draw below the name. So they made me sit down, like a KG student in art class, and made me practice my signature. Till I got every line and dot right. I sent a silent prayer up to God when I finally signed on the deposit slip. Everyone was looking on with bated breath, like I was signing the Indo-Pak Peace Treaty.

They accepted it, but not before I was subjected to some amused looks and laughs.

Is the thumb-impression accepted anymore? At least that won’t be different every time… Sigh...

June 7, 2011

Not-so-Little Women

I’m not a fan of feminism. Maybe because I could never really grasp the whole idea behind it. I really don’t understand it, and didn’t care enough to try. And frankly, I don’t believe in it. I don’t feel the need to label myself a feminist to get what I want. A bit of tantrum-throwing will do that for almost any girl. When the whole of my class went ga-ga over Paromita Vohra’s ‘Unlimited Girls’, I agreed with them just to not seem like a dunce.

But I guess, inside every woman, lives a feminist somewhere. The feminist inside me woke up when V.S. Naipaul (I won’t call him Sir) passed that famous comment a few days back, that he doesn’t consider any woman writer equal to him. And then followed a litany of comments by writers and authors calling him a cranky old man who doesn’t know what he’s talking about, nobody should take notice of him, etc. I haven’t read any of his books, so I can’t judge whether he’s a cranky old man who doesn’t know what he’s talking about or not, but that comment sure was derogatory. I guess coming from a man who’s been married twice, has had many affairs, and is known to have slept with sex workers, it’s not a surprise. Clearly, writing is not one of the talents he cares for in a woman. (I found this article about him quite interesting.)

So I thought, I’ll make a list of my favourite women writers, who are no less than any male writer (I don't even know why there should be a gender added before 'writer'. A writer is a writer, whatever gender they are):-

1) Enid Blyton- No one, EVER, can match up to her. Enough said.

2) Jhumpa Lahiri- only three books old, but each one a beauty.

3) Anita Nair- Another writer who can weave a fine tapestry of emotions and relationships with her words.

4) L. M. Montgomery- Only those who have read the Anne of Green Gables series can figure out why she’s there on my list.

5) Danielle Steele- Say what you may, but her books were a major part of my teenage years. It may be candy-floss, but I prefer candy-floss over blood and gore.

6) Jackie Collins- Yes yes, her books are like pulp fiction, with too much of sex in them. But she does know how to tell a story and keep the readers engaged. Also, her female characters and well-etched, be it the good ones or the bad ones.

7) Louisa May Alcott- Granted, I’ve read only ‘Little Women’ of hers. But that remains one of my most favourite books till date.

8) Harper Lee- She wrote “To kill a mockingbird’. Need I elaborate?

9) Linda Goodman- I know she doesn’t really fit in this list, but come on, who else can write about sun signs as delightfully as she does? She’ll make you fall in love with yourself, the way she describes your zodiac. And also, she’s given me the perfect alibi. If anyone criticizes me now for, well, being me, I say “I can’t help it, I’m a Virgo. That’s how we are.”

Edited to add:-
10) J.K. Rowling- For Harry Potter. God bless you.

I’ve left out on many. Can’t think of more right now. And there are a lot more powerhouse women writers, like Arundhati Roy (I haven’t read her works, except for half of God Of Small Things, so I can’t really comment), Tasleema Nasreen, Kamala Suraiyya, Anita Desai, Kiran Desai, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, etc. They’re not on the list because they’re not exactly my favourites, and I haven’t read some of them.

P.S:-Would it be too terrible if I put my own name on the list? Will you guys pelt me with stones and make me ride on a donkey in the market-place wearing a garland of shoes (chose some good ones, if you’re planning to. I won’t wear a garland of torn old shoes)? Sigh.. I know I know…

Who are your favourite women writers?

June 3, 2011

Miss. Crankypants

Whenever I start on a new book, after I read the first page, I turn to the last couple of pages. I read the ending before I even start on the book properly. Why? I'm not quite sure .

Maybe it’s because, when I already know that the book is going to end well, I enjoy the book better. There is a sense of relief when something goes wrong during the narrative, that eventually, it’ll all turn out fine. If it doesn’t end well, I will be prepared for the worst and not raise my hopes while I’m reading the book. Contrary to what my friends tell me, it doesn’t spoil the effect of the book for me- in fact, it makes me feel secure.

There is a scene in the movie When Harry Met Sally, where Harry (Billy Crystal) says that he always reads the last of a book first, so that if he has to die before he finishes the book, he’ll at least die knowing how the book ended. Or something like that.

Why can’t our life be like that? We call the experiences in our life as chapters. Why can’t we know what the chapters are? And most importantly, how come we don’t have any way of knowing whether there is a happy ending or not?

“Because life is full of surprises”, you may offer. I know that. “Because if we already knew what our life would be like, what’s the fun?” you may say. I know that too. “Because life is not a book”. “Because that’s not how it’s supposed to be”. “Because it’s not the end that matters, it’s the chapters in between.”

Dammit!! Didn’t I say I know all that?!!!

I just wish I had some way of knowing, though… just one tiny little peek into the last page. Well, last but one page, technically, because the very last page would be “And thus, she kicked the bucket, gracefull at that.” I want to know whether fairytales were just to fool us into a sense of false euphoria...

You know that guy up there, the author of all our lives? He is a crafty old man.

***
Ya, depressing post. I know that too. *sigh*...