March 28, 2012

To share or not to share

(This article was originally published in

To share or not to share...

Is that the question? Are you in a dilemma? Let me help you out then.

I’ll tell you why in a moment. But before I tell you why, let me ask you something. What was the original purpose of Facebook? Or of social networking in general, for that matter? To connect with friends, acquaintances, colleagues, etc., right? To get back in touch with long-lost buddies, to share photos, perhaps? Ok, fair enough.

Now back to why I said ‘don’t’. Because yesterday, when I was browsing FB, someone had shared a picture of a girl who was smiling at the camera with both her arms lifted and held behind her head, a thick foliage of under-arm hair jumping out of the pic and grabbing my eyeballs. No, I’m not kidding or exaggerating.

A lot of images get shared on FB, nothing new there. The main reasons that pictures get shared on FB are:-

a) They are genuinely interesting

b) They convey a message

c) They are trying to spread awareness

d) They have images of cute things like babies, puppies etc.

e) All of the above.

Trust me when I tell you that this particular pic was secret option f) none of the above. It was Just. Plain. Gross.

Now don’t get me wrong. Shaving or not shaving armpit hair is entirely one’s own personal choice. And I have no right to comment on that. But as a Facebook user myself, I think I do have the right to say that these days, anything and everything gets shared in the name of ‘social networking’.

Let’s face it, the standard of Facebook has gone down the drain. It has become a playground for a lot of frustrated losers to grab attention by posting *searching for the right word to express disgust* pictures. I didn’t bother to open the above-mentioned photo and check the comments and likes, but the caption did not in any way signify that the picture was about women-empowerment. It makes me sad that I’m actually part of a society that houses such idiotic people, and I’m referring to all of them involved- the girl who posed for the picture, the person who clicked it and posted it on Facebook, and the people who have shared it.

There was another picture that shook me today- of dogs being cut up and sold at a butcher shop. Really? Is that the kind of thing that you want to share on FB? I log in first thing in the morning, and I see chopped heads of dogs on my homepage. Not only is my day ruined, but my lunch and dinner is too. Thank you very much. Again, I didn’t open the full pic to see what the caption or comments were, but it is easily anyone’s guess that it would be extremely racist towards a particular ethnic group’s eating habits.

Facebook has slowly moved on from being merely a social networking site. It now looks like Baba Zuckerberganand’s ashram (have you not noticed the influx of philosophical and inspirational quotes that get shared as images), the headquarters of Zuckerberg’s Army (want to fight a cause? Post it on FB), the office Beware of Girls Society (images of random girls with cautionary messages like “Beware of girls, they are cheats”) etc. The other day, there was an image of a rather plump girl dancing, and someone had shared it captioning it “Kutti Aana” (Small elephant). I’m not sure what purpose that person was trying to achieve by posting that image, but maybe he/she should realize that the girl is probably somebody’s girlfriend/wife/sister/mother/friend. Who the hell gave them the authority to post her pic without her permission, that too with such a demeaning caption? Would he (yes, I’m pretty sure it was a guy who posted it) like it if his mother’s photo came up one fine day on Facebook, with the caption “Beware of cougars”? Girls may or may not smoke, that is their choice. But that does not make them bitches. And it definitely does not give anyone the right to post a picture of three girls smoking, and then give a story underneath it about some girl who broke a guy’s heart.

My problem is not with these dumb fools wanting to spread a message. My problem is with using photos of girls who might actually be having a real life (and a Facebook account), and then passing it around with fake messages. What would happen if the girls’ prospective grooms see these pictures? Their life is pretty much ruined!

Oh and don’t even get me started on the “Share if u luv your mother, scroll if u dnt!” “Share if you love your father, scroll if you don’t!” “Share if you love your kaamwali bai, give her an extra load of clothes to wash if you don’t!” messages. Instead of sharing such crap, use that time to actually tell your mother that you love her. She might appreciate that a lot more, trust me.

Let me make it very clear, my issues are not with ‘sharing’. Sharing can be a good thing too. A lot of awareness can be spread about issues by spreading the word. Maybe missing people can be found by sharing their pictures. But there is a difference between “Sharing because it’s share-worthy” and “Sharing for sharing’s sake and because I bloody well can and I want to grab attention. Oh and I’m very jobless too.”

Yes yes, I know. I sound like a nag. And if this piece gets shared on FB, it’ll probably get comments like “Go woman. V’l shr if v luv, scroll if v dnt. Wats yr prblm?” My problem is that in spite of having so many problems with FB, I still can’t get myself to quit it. I had quit once, but returned in a few months. We share a very “I hate you (like I love you) relationship.

But the larger problem is that social networking has gone beyond being just a means of making friends and staying in touch, and has moved on to become a way to take out your frustrations and take revenge. Remember the incident where a guy announced on FB that he had dumped his girlfriend, and the girl promptly went and killed herself? People take the “What’s on your mind” thing way too seriously. I think it’s time FB took some very serious screening steps. Because the day is not far when Facebook will make the complete transition into Fucked-up-Book.

Ok, now I’m off to shave my legs. I don’t want to open my FB tomorrow and see “Lolllllzzzzzzzzzzzz: 289 shares: 659 likes: 2120 comments” on a pic of a very familiar-looking pair of legs.

March 21, 2012


Yet another tag. Ya, I know it's starting to feel like the only writing I'm doing these days is for tags. But tags are fun. And it gives me a chance to write at least something. So bear with me once more, ok?

Visha from zackandme tagged me with this. And she also gave me the freedom to flout the rules. Yay. What fun.

So I'm going to skip the '11 things about me' part, because even I'm getting bored of writing about myself. I'm heading straight to the '11 questions'.

1) Early riser or late sleeper?
Late sleeper. I can't sleep anytime before 12. I think I got that from Amma. Most days, it's 1-2 by the time I go to bed. And then I wake up late in the morning and rush to work. I tried going to bed early, by 12, a few times. I tossed and turned for a long time and finally fell asleep only around 2. Gah.

2) Holiday on a beach or a mountain?
Hmm.. Can't I have both? The best thing would be if it's a cottage on top of a cliff overlooking a beach. I wanna live in such a place. But if I simply have to choose, I would choose beach. I love beaches. Maybe because I grew up in a city that has three beaches. I love the idea of waking up to the music of waves. Isn't is a lovely sound? The vastness and mystery of the sea awes me.

3) List the cities in which you have lived so far.
Let's see.. Ernakulam (I spent most of my time in the hospital while here), Pune (for two years. Again, hospitals. My asthma was at its peak here), Trivandrum (the city that has seen me grow, live, love, fail, succeed, everything), Hyderabad (the city that I adopted. That embraced me and welcomed me with open arms. It has taught me how to survive. Not live. Survive).
Other than this, I had done my two-months internship in Bangalore way back in 2008, so I was pretty much living there.

4) What kind of music do you like?
Mainly, whatever sounds pleasing to my ears. I LOVE old hindi songs. I'm a bollywood music fan. I also love songs that are accompanied by beautiful lyrics. Precisely why I love old hindi songs. I listen to a bit of English music too- Pink Floyd, The Doors, etc. Ilove singing along to songs, so lyrics are very important.
Oh and to contradict myself, I also love Bollywood item numbers that have absolutely rubbish lyrics. :P Current favourite- Anarkali Disco Chali. Mereko bhi disco chalna!

5) How many BFFs do you have?
I can't count my friends as numbers. Not because there are too many to count, but because I just can't. Let's just say I have enough to make me feel I'm one of the luckiest person on earth.

6) Which is the last movie you saw?
Kahaani. Well, technically, the last movie I saw was Jodi Breakers, but then I saw Kahaani for a second time after that. Thank god. (Have you seen Jodi Breakers? Don't. Seriously).

7) What is the name of your first school?
My first school was Kendriya Vidyalaya Southern Command, Pune.
I went to a kidergarten before that called Greenwood, in Pune itself.

8) What is the first thing which comes to your mind when you hear these words – ‘first love’?
Teenage. School. Diary. Shy glances. Holding hands secretively. Happiness. Principal's room. Tears. A lifetime of memories, good and bad.

9) What is the first thing you notice when you go to any restaurant?
The lighting. I'm not very fond of restaurants that have very dim lighting. Makes me feel I'm in a sleazy bar. I need to see what I'm eating. I also notice how long it takes for someone to come and attend to us.

10) List the most inspiring bloggers according to you
That's not a fair question. There are too many to list. So I'm gonna take the safe route and say 'Everyone I follow'. They have all inspired me in some way or the other, be it by their language, vocabulary, the ease with which they can write about anything under the sun, their dedication. Or simply by how encouraging they are.

11) Blogging to you is…….
Therapeutic. Cathartic. Addictive. A vent. A platform.

I'm not gonna tag anyone. Because no one that I tagged in my previous tag did it. Katti. Hmph.

March 13, 2012


My parents aren’t exactly the most tech-savvy, you know. I guess that goes with most people from their generation. We grew up with computers. They grew up with typewriters. We grew up with email. They grew up with snail-mail. We grew up with landlines and cellphones. They grew up with trunk calls and “kambli pothappu!

My mom grew up and studied in Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata (Calcutta then), etc., but still, she has absolutely no interest in technology. Or rather, she never used to. My sister and I have tried our level best to teach her how to use the computer, but other than we losing our patience, there was no real progress. It’s not exactly rocket science, no? All she had to do was put in some time and effort. But how will she learn when five minutes after we’ve made her sit down in from of the system, she’ll run to the kitchen because she had forgotten she’d kept milk on the stove? One time, I had forgotten to switch the system off in the morning before going to college, and mom called me to tell me that there is ‘some light coming from the screen’ (yes, that’s how she described it). So I tried telling her how to switch it off. In two minutes, my entire class had come to know that I had left the computer on before coming to college. I think she finally called the girl living next door to come and switch it off. She couldn’t operate the TV remote to save her life. She would keep pressing some buttons, hoping to change the channel, but by the time she figured it out and found the correct channel, the programme would’ve ended. She could never figure out how to use a cellphone, it was just too complicated. That she uses a Blackberry now is an entirely different matter and story. My dad got it from his office. He didn’t like the QWERTY keypad, so he gave it to Amma. When I asked her if I can take her Blackberry and give her my old phone, she said that she’s ‘so used to Blackberry, she doesn’t feel like using any other phone’. :/ This, coming from the woman who used to send ten blank messages before finally getting one right. She’s damn cute, I tell you.

My dad grew up in a tiny little village in North Kerala, studied in a Malayalam medium school, saw a city for the first time only when he joined teaching college in Mysore, and for 20-25 of his 38 years of career, did all the paper work and filing manually. But he was a lot more open to learning about technology than my mom was. He created an email account, started learning how to type, he learnt how to listen to songs on Youtube. Now he books all his tickets online, sends me mile-long mails sometimes (when there are burning issues, you see. Both me and dad, not big on talking). Since he was a telecom employee anyway, learning how to use a cellphone was not a big deal for him.

But you know, our generation is a very kutthi cheez. We make fun of the older generation for not knowing how to use technology, but soon as they learn it, we realize they were better off not knowing it. Oh you know what I’m talking about. We’ve all been through it. We don’t want them to know how to use cellphones so that they won’t check the messages in our inbox. We have gotten away with so many stories like “That was not a call, that was my alarm” when the phone rang in the dead of the night (no prizes for guessing who would call at that time). We don’t want to give our passwords to them in case they want to check something important, because the passwords would invariably be the name of a current crush. I remember when we were groom-hunting for my sis, her account in keralamatrimony was registered under my email id. And I used to regularly monitor it. Acha and I would sit together at night and go through the profiles. It was all going smoothly till Acha called me from office one day and asked me for my Yahoo password. Why? Because he wanted to check the email of some prospective groom immediately, that had been sent to my id. Now how can I say a no when my own dad asks me for the password? If I say no, that’ll mean that I’m hiding something. If I say yes, well, he’ll see my inbox, and even though my password was no one’s name and there was nothing suspicious in my inbox, I was just not comfortable with it. I used to get a lot of forwarded emails, some of which contained adult jokes, and I obviously wouldn’t want my dad to see them, right?!! So I tried to stall it, saying that I’ll check the mail and tell him what the contents were. But he insisted, so I gave him the password. Then I quickly switched on the computer, logged in to my account, and changed the password. So when my dad tried to log in, he couldn’t. He called me to ask what was wrong and why he wasn’t able to log in. I pretended to be confused. “What, you can’t log in? But I’m able to. Don’t know what’s wrong. Anyway, here’s the mail you were talking about. Take down the number…”. And then I quickly changed the password again. Ya I know, sneaky little liar.

But we got over all that with time. I was happy and proud that Amma had finally managed to learn how to send SMSes and that Acha didn’t have to wait in long queues to book tickets.

Until one fine day, dad asked me about my blog. He knew I wrote in a blog, so he asked me to send him the link. I said I will, but I never did. Because I don’t want him to read it. I don’t think he’ll be able to handle the fact that his darling little daughter drinks vodka and has been in relationships. Nope, no sir! So when I go home, I open my blog, show him and Amma a few posts, so that they’ll know that I do write, and quickly close it down before they can spot anything scandalous.

Then he asked me about Facebook. I very excitedly told him that it’s this supercool thing where you can keep in touch with people. He asked me to create an account for him the last time I went home. I ahemed and aahed and changed the subject. I definitely do not want him on my Facebook list. No no no no no no no no no.

And then, yesterday, I open my FB, and see a new friend request from one Mr. Ramachandran Nambiar. For a second I wasn’t sure who it was, because that’s not how my dad writes his name usually. He writes it with his initials and not with the ‘Nambiar’ surname. There was no pic either. So I figured it must be someone else, and, hoping against hope, opened the profile to check out the details.

Sure enough:- Worked at: BSNL. Studied in: Nirmalagiri College. One mutual friend (a family friend, who probably helped him create the account).

The request is still pending.

March 12, 2012

The one with all the other posts

Srinidhi tagged me with this. It's a bit like an award-distribution for my own posts. So here goes:-

1) Your most beautiful post
That strange thing called memory
Has to be this one. Maybe because it is something very personal. Maybe because I think I've written it well. Or maybe because the subject of the post was, and I still consider him, a beautiful human being.

2) Your most popular post
The Esssential Mallu-food guide for non-Mallus
I can categorize my life as a blogger into two eras. Pre-Mallu Food Guide and Post-Mallu Food Guide. In the Pre era, I was pretty much talking to myself out here. I didn't have too many readers, and whoever read my blog used to read it mainly because I used to badger them too. And post the mallu food guide, well, you all know how that went. It is still the most popular post of my blog. The stats confirm it too.

3) Your most controversial post
I’m no Madrasan. None of my posts have been controversial as such. I prefer to keep a one-arm distance from controversy. What might come close to it are these two- Back on track and The One year itch. Not so much because of the content, but because of the comments on it.

4) Your most helpful post
Sarcastically: How to eat a Mallu Wedding-Sadhya: a step-by-step guide.
Seriously: probably Blogging Etiquettes.

5) A post whose success surprised you.
…that it’s just meant to be.
I honestly hadn't expected so many people to like it and actually relate to it.

6) A post you feel didn’t get the attention it deserved
Happy Mother's Day, Shree.
But I guess I can't really complain, because this was much too personal and subjective a post.

7) The post you’re most proud of
a) The Mallu-food guide
b) That strange thing called memory
c) This one’s for you, because this was my first short story ever.
d) I'm a girl, because I think almost every girl can identify with it. And this was one of my first attempts at sarcasm/humour, even before the food guide.

Ok, so that's done!

Now I have to tag other bloggers to do the same. I don't know how many exactly, so I'm tagging randomly. I tag:

Destiny's Child
Atrocious Scribblings

And anyone else who wants to do the tag can do so. Have fun!

March 5, 2012

Yappie yappie byerthdaai

Birthday celebrations in my office- or rather, of the team that I’m remotely a part of- are very jolly affairs you know. Like, fun in all caps.

Here’s how it usually goes.

There I’ll be, working/sleeping/browsing away at my desk, when someone will come and inform “Divya, so-and-so’s birthday today. Cake cutting in pantry. Come.” So I get up after ten minutes and three reminders, and go to the pantry, all set for a mini-party.

There will be about 15 people there, all solemnly standing, like how we used to stand in school during Martyr’s Day, observing one-minute silence. Heads slightly bent downward, hands tied in the front. You got the picture no? Some of them will be looking at the floor, some at the cake. So I’ll also join this merry group. The person whose birthday it is will be recognizable only because he/she will be standing in front of the cake, not because they look even remotely excited that it’s their birthday and that a bunch of people ordered cake for him/her. After standing like this for two minutes, someone in the crowd will try to crack a sad joke, asking the birthday boy/girl/uncle to cut the cake. So out comes one shiny plastic see-through knife, with a red bow around it.

First cut through the cake- silence.

Second cut through the cake- silence.

Once the first piece has been successfully cut, someone from the audience will remember and start a feeble rendition of “Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you”. So lively is the singing that it’ll seem as though the song was originally a mourning song and somewhere over the years, someone swapped the lyrics. We’ll all clap also, for formality. We all have mehendi on our hands, so we can’t clap all that loudly and all, ok.

Then the birthday person will look for the nearest mouth to thrust the cake into. Since no one’s really close to anyone in the group, the most senior person there gets this honour. If that boss type person is not there, then whoever is standing closest gets lucky.

Now comes the best part. Small paper plates are passed around, with cake and potato chips. For the next five minutes, all you can hear is *munch munch crunch crunch random conversation munch crunch nice cake crunch crunch*. I’m not exaggerating. All you can hear is the crunch of the potato chips. And everyone’s looking studiously into their plates, because, you know, there’s a difficult maze to work your way around to get to the goodies. Since there is no conversation happening, everyone finishes their plate soon and looks around. You remember how, when you’re writing as exam and you finish early, you always wait for someone else to give in the paper first, just so it doesn’t make you look bad? Same scene here. Everyone waits for someone else to go take the second helping of cake and chips. More often than not, that person would be me. Ya, I can be shameless like that. Then a second round of potato-chips crunching. Once in a while, if you happen to catch someone’s eye by accident, customary smiles are also exchanged.

Oh I forgot to mention- the cake facial also happens. And while the facial is being done, the birthday person will be standing there with no expression or reaction whatsoever- no protest, no laughing, no struggle. Just merely standing there, as though it’s not cake but haldi-&-cream that’s being applied for their wedding.
Second round of eating also over. Now unless you want to seem like a glutton, you decide not to take a third helping. So there really is no point in hanging around anymore either, right? So I look at the birthday person, give a big smile, wish happy birthday, crack the same joke I crack every single time about how we’re all eating but forgot to wish the person (which, surprisingly elicits, the same kind of painful laughter every time), and scoot from there.

Total fun, right? I know.

So then why do I go to these ‘parties’, when it’s so much fun (NOT), you ask?

Because, like Saif Ali Khan once said, “Cake khaane ke liye hum kaheen bhi jaa sakte hai!”