Saturday, 13 August 2016


Sitting on a mattress that's been abandoned on the floor, still drying my hands from the dishes I just did, sighing with relief at the a/c stabilizer which I just got fixed, using my very own wifi connection, I am back, to scribble in here, after more than a year. Like pretty much most times, I'm here to crib/contemplate/impart gyaan , about the latest phase I have been ruthlessly thrown into. Adulting. 

Yeah, I'm 23, a lot of people are getting married around me, people are couple of years into their work life, some have chosen to prolong getting out of academic atmospheres, some are trying to fathom what to do. I belong to a bunch of these categories, and more. Right now, though, I am learning to run a house. 

Do you know the number of things that involves? Our parents make it look so easy! Let's begin from keeping an eye on the water level in your bubble top, remembering to pay oh so many bills, to the most tedious job of all - cooking and cleaning. I'll get to that last bit of horror in a short while. You start looking out for the vegetable vendor who walks past your street screaming out his wares, because supermarkets don't sell curry leaves. You worship the guy who brings your refill water bubble, and the akka who has the ironing stand in the street nearby. You have to remember the expiry date of the milk, you need to remember to shut everything you opened, and only you are in charge of maintaining the whole place in a live-able manner. 

Oh! sweeping. and mopping. and cleaning drains! Ooh the lovely chore of cleaning up the washrooms! No no. I am not done, I could actually go on and on for three days, and I still wouldn't have finished listing out everything! That's when there are so many more things that I haven't recognized as things I need to do. 

I've always questioned us evolving into a species that required food so often. Having to buy groceries while handling this mental grid in my head, and then going through the tedious process of cooking, which is followed by the briefly pleasant period of eating, and then the never ending period of cleaning up after yourself, has only escalated my confusion. I have a new found respect for my mom. Seriously. Who wants to do this three times a day?! Everyday?! 

Let's get into the myriad of rules that surrounds cooking. A show of hands of people who knew these things:
(i) If your cookware isn't non-stick, food will literally stick to the bottom of the pan.
(ii) the difference between a saucepan and anything else that's not a frying pan or a tava
(iii) you don't add masala to the oil directly.
(iv) if curd boils, it'll separate and look like someone threw up.
(v) oil can just start spluttering. for no reason. or maybe it is avenging a previous injustice? 
(vi) you use only wooden spoons and things on non-stick pans.
(vii) the disaster that you create when you mix up dhaniya and methi is...nope. no. I can't. I'm not ready to talk about it just yet.

Go ahead and laugh at me all you want, because these things sound so simple. But when you start doing this business for yourself, and get even one of these messed up because it slipped your mind or you didn't know, I'll wait on this side for you with tissues. 

I swore I wouldn't rant. I swear I swore I wouldn't rant. 

Also, also, no please, just hear me out, your head will primarily be occupied by a supermarket-list. Most of your conversations will surround cooking and cleaning and eating and washing. There was this second when I noticed that, and I hyperventilated. I cold've gone running back to my parents' house, if it weren't so expensive an affair. And hey! nobody gets to judge people going back to live in their parents house, or never leaving their parents' basements, okay? No. I so freaking completely understand. 

I started this blog, when I freaked about being grown up and having to live in a hostel. And here I am today, wondering about what I should do with the extra tomatoes and chillies I have.  

I learnt some more things in the past one week. The gossip-py paatti next door may bore you to death or eat up your time with the minute details she goes into, when passing by your open window, but she will always equally meticulously guide you through things you have no idea how to do. When you are all by yourself in a house, and you are standing at the door, not realizing that you look forlorn, Nirmala aunty from the house across from you will brighten your day up with her smile. Shantha aunty from nearby will make you feel safe, because she'll drop by to see how you are doing. I began comprehending people's need to live with other people. Having it all on your shoulder can be terrifying. And while the privacy is brilliant, the fact that you are all alone by yourself with an entire house to yourself, can be a little, well, freaky, I think the word is. I found out that to adult, there needs to be a safe-house, where you know you can just take off to, if/when s**t hits the roof. Also, that one person, who you can go crib to endlessly about having to run a house. Oh there is one more thing you just can't do without - written down recipes that your mom dictated, teaching you how to make rasam and sambar and mor kolamb. 

Probably, a month later, I won't crib as much, or feel so overwhelmed, but I'm willing to bet, that atleast for another decade, I'm not quite going to get the hang of this. 

This I write, while hoping that the next time I feel like writing in here, my power hasn't gone off because I forgot that electricity was a commodity we had to be thankful for, in cash. 

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

beef ban? is that all it is?

“Moving onto the section of what has been banned in India today, state x has banned the right to freedom of thought - forget expression - and any pretense of equal rights for all. State y has banned sensibility.”

This is a generic gist of what news sounds like, right now. There have been many controversial bans that have made respective communities/sympathizers up in arms trying to drive some sense into the perpetrators of the ban. I’m not going to talk about the political or monetary gain that these perpetrators enjoy, or about what is evidently going to climax into India being the country of the ‘hindus’ and all the consequences that’ll be derived from it.  Beef ban. Appropriately offensive to everybody but one community? Yes. But that’s not all. When the President finally signed a bill that had been pending for twenty whole years for good reason, did anybody consider entire sections of Maharashtra whose quality of life would take a big hit as a result of it?

The slaughtering of cows and calves had been banned way back in 1976, under the Animal Preservation (amendment) Bill, but buffalo, bull and bullocks were still a huge source of business, both export and import, for a large section of society. Thirty-three operational abattoirs, many more illegal slaughterhouses, and a lot of independent slaughterers all came to a halt on March 4, this year. The estimated revenue loss, due to beef ban, is a whopping 10,000 crores. These are numbers that show you how horrible the effects of this entirely unnecessary ban are.
Beef has always been the cheapest meat available in India. Hence this featured, whenever possible, in a large number of households. Since widely available beef meat has now disappeared off the market, the demand for other meat rises. And this automatically calls for a surge in its pricing. Where does this leave the people who aren’t upper middle class? With all the expenses that an average middle class family faces, meat is going to be another rarity in their lives. And the poor, well, when have we ever really considered the effect of religious fanaticism on them?

There are muslims, Christians, other minorities and even multiple sects of hindus, not to mention the nonbelievers who are somehow exempt from all this, who consume beef. For the sake of one ‘majority’, when dividing people based on their religions, an important part of life of the rest has been taken away. How do I even begin to explain the significance of the qualifiers? In a ‘secular’ country like India, in a very big state, everybody has been banned from eating a particular food item, to cater to the needs of the group of people who make the claim of gomatha. Say, if in a small city, somewhere in India, where the population register shows that Muslims are larger in number, they decided to enforce the rule of no eating in public during Ramadan, do we even need to talk about the gory outcome of that?

Among a million other questions that pop up in our minds daily, owing to the claims made by right wing fanatics on national television and otherwise, one particularly disturbing one is, inspite of all claims of unity in diversity and every other related cliché, as a non-fanatic hindu, will I ever be heard or considered. Without naming names, let’s just say that this question was the beginning of the end for a lot. Beef ban is a life choice an irrationally opinionated bully made for everybody, and gomatha, is their entirely absurd excuse.

weddings and marriages

Social media is increasingly becoming a promising source of manic reaction-inducing content. I look around me, at my ‘friends’, and I see high-resolution pictures, one after the other, of them getting hitched. Or hooked. Noose around the neck. Taking the plunge (…), or any of those wonderful euphemisms for it.

I am 22, so you can probably understand my consternation at this. When the opening act of the series happened, I figured it was societal pressure, commitments, etc. Then came another one, and then another one, till it became an all too common occurrence.
I would have loved to say that this was not restricted to any one geopolitical setting, but it unfortunately is. The beautiful land of the literate, the leftists, and the beef-eaters. Except for exactly one of those husband and wife pictures that had me hyperventilating, every other one belonged to a mallu. And figuring out their native root wasn’t a toughie, because of all the yellow. The girl is covered from head to a little below the waist in yellow. Blinding, heavy, expensive, yellow. The arrangement of hundreds of chains, in increasing order of their lengths, the waist band, the rings, the earrings, the armlets, the intricate network of yellow that connects your ear to your head to your hair, and everything else, so wonderfully done, exactly the way we see them in jewelry shop ads, on tv! Except instead of a board or banner that proclaims the name of the brand, it is her face.
So what, precisely, does one achieve from this display? Exactly when did this become classy?
Is display of wealth the intention? Then why don’t you just handover a huge block of gold to the groom, in the presence of the wedding guests? Yes, I am implying that what is done now is only as classy and cultured and civilized as this is. Oh by the way, this alternative saves you a whole lot of making charges!

Just some stats that I came across recently: in the financial year of 2011-2012, around 250000 kilos of gold was bought, in Kerala. And on an average, a new jewelry shop opened once every seven days. I am just going to let that sit there.

It is a common Indian practice to overshoot weddings. Each one’s has to always be a step above what they can actually afford. Everybody wants magnificent weddings, each wedding almost happens with a secondary intention of breaking some sort of a record.  All your life’s worth goes into investing in this. And you even measure your status and standing in your respective societies, on the basis of the spectacle that you arrange for. Is it any wonder that parents frown upon the concept of remarriages? Can you imagine the financial strain they will be put through? I am aware that I am belittling the situation. But we cant deny the fact that all this adds to the social pressure, or ‘obligation’ the girl would experience, when she tries breaking away from a relationship that doesn’t suit her, or even one that hurts her.

It is time that we stop focusing on making weddings the highlight of our lives. A marriage is enough pressure on its own. Creating a meaningful emotional, physical, and spiritual connection, developing the ability to compromise, knowing how to give in and how to respect, and preparing yourself for the onset of a whole lot of fun, is what you should be doing. Destination weddings, mounds of gold, excellent food, and the biggest guest list are all of no importance, and honestly, of no real significance. This is one of those cases when we can say that it is nothing but abject materialism, to consider otherwise. Though, yes, a lot of those instincts are society-instilled in us.

To all of my friends who still give me the jitters, here’s wishing you a wonderful married life, and here’s hoping that when it is your chance to organize the wedding, you make a difference.

let's censor 'em all.

Disclaimer for all those upholding the Indian morality and culture: this article has content that may be offensive to those who don’t get the concepts of free speech, satire, consenting adults, and entertainment.

I know we are back on the morality debate, but nothing seems to be left alone by the ones who consider themselves sanctimonious. I have a good idea of what the word after that should be.

AIB Knockout, a roast that made it to the headlines, and is now the talk of the country, for astoundingly insane reasons. 10 comedians, and one roast master, made fun of two established artists and each other, in front of 4000 people, and were watched by another 8 million or so, on YouTube. This is not a form of comedy they developed. They were all consenting adults who laughed at themselves, profanity or not, and were also watched by consenting adults.

It did surprise me that our country and the people who uphold the ‘moral values’ inherent to our country digested this, without comment. But after all how long does a bubble last? Complaints of desecration of the pious minds of the youth, inappropriate content for the women, being antichrist (!!!), and what not, sprouted immediately.

A good number of people think it is stupid to raise such a hue and cry over this, a lot of them think they need to perform some sort of cleanse for all and sundry who were associated with this in any manner, and then there are the wonderful politicians who are happily travelling on the middle ground, while still making their preferred course of action clear.

We’ll move on to the rant after bringing to notice yet another wonderful development regarding yet another phenomenon that involves consenting adults. The Hindu mahasabha will be marrying off any couple they find on Valentine’s Day. Whoever it is will be converted to Hinduism; they are going to work hard and overcome the patriarchal trait in their blood that dictates that the girl be converted to the guy’s religion. And while at it, they also say that it is okay to convert people because every Indian is a Hindu anyway.

So forget the journey downhill, we are looking at going back to the cavemen stage where the men protected the women while she was pregnant or menstruating, from wild animals. Except the women are permanently thought of being as ‘weak’, and the general public have taken the place of wild animals.

Inappropriate clothing, non asli-indian-naari behavior, unwillingness to call some creep bhaiyya, nightclubs, even Chinese food, and the like are blamed when a woman is raped. It is ultimately her fault. We shall sit here and negotiate with the man, and decide what is to be done while she fights for life. But here comes a show that makes fun of people who are happy to be made fun of. Let’s register complaints against them, and trample all over their creativity and effort, because we think Balika Vadhu and Kasauti Zindagi ki are what the Indian youth should be watching. Oh! Also the Big Boss. Oh! And Roadies. It is also alright to read the Times Of India, when they make ‘news’ out of female breasts. I don’t even have legitimate counter arguments for the people who were offended (after they either bought tickets for it, or watched it on YouTube), because there are no sensible arguments being made by them. Not a single one.

There genuinely isn’t one retort I can think of, with regards to the entirely sensible statement made by the hindu mahasabha. Though, I don’t know why no parents are offended by this, and are registering complaints against them because they are worried for their kids. What happened to the other religious organizations? Do they have nothing to say about their people being forcefully converted? Why? Because now it deals with the taboo of ‘couples’?

I’ve always thought that our priorities were skewed. But this is taking it to a whole new level.

Saturday, 29 November 2014


Onam is one of those things every malayali takes time out of their lives to celebrate. Irrespective of where they are, what their lives otherwise look like, and how busy they are. This year’s onam just went by, I had exams in college, and I had lots of work to do, now that our professors have decided that we are way too grown up for them to cut us any sort of slack. 

I woke up on the day of onam, and grabbed all my things so that I could go and sit in the library, to study for a particularly tough exam. I felt something amiss. There was this hole, and it was making me uncomfortable.  I stopped everything I was doing, draped on a saree, put on some flowers, and went ahead to the library.  The stares and looks and faces I got were too many in number and variety for me to count. I’m pretty sure that if I were at home and had an exam the next day, I wouldn’t bother doing any of that, onam or not. But here, it made me feel like I was at home. That small act provided me with the comfort I was looking for. Whether or not I related to the festival, or understood its purpose or reason for such pomp and splendor, none of it mattered.

We all had an exam the next morning, and hence on the day after that, everybody decked up and went to class, malayali or non malayali. To us, who had roots in that culture, it was our way of hanging onto those bits of home that we miss even now, 4 years into the journey. To the rest, it was a matter of solidarity, and ofcourse the happy association they had made to it, having celebrated it thrice before.

It has been centuries since the advert of Onam. Things have changed so much, lifestyle, preferences, living conditions, even geographic setting. But this one festival has remained, as the ultimate mark of identity. Celebrating it is a matter of pride, and a matter of hanging onto those last bits of the umbilical cord. Where every sign of you ever having belonged to that land has been erased, there still will be those feelings that stir up, at the time of Onam.  As I have said before, having been brought up outside the overwhelming influence of an Indian culture and everything that come with it, I pretty much never understood how some things were just automatically supposed to be yours, how you were supposed to be feeling a sort of belonging towards it. But when I realized that if I had to be reading up Derrida and Foucault and Barthes on the day of Onam, I would rather do it with a saree and some flowers on, it surprised me. That was my first bout of ‘automatic’ enthusiasm.

When there are so many things I don’t like about the same people, when so many things sadden me, and infuriate me, when in other occasions their extreme sense of territory maddens me, this one time of the year, I look at every fellow malayali with a huge smile on my face. And it is as good as a hug that you desperately need, when somebody else gives you that happy smile. Does celebrating the festival do anything to fulfill some sort of an inner dilemma? Do I achieve anything morally satisfactory from it? Is it going to bring any good to somebody else? No, I don’t think so. But there is no reason for every action of mine to be an answer to one of those questions. Especially when it is about something that makes me happy, that brings my home to me, wherever I am. 

Friday, 12 September 2014

generation gap or some such.

Generation gap. It is probably the only phrase that has come to our rescue as many times as it has smothered us. In 1965, when 41% of the American population consisted of 17 – 25 year olds, and when a predominantly white cultural zeitgeist that shunned all convention came into place, the phrase generation gap was given birth to, as a means to explain the chaos. I think it is now, just an excuse. 

Lets see why. There are elders who don’t think it is appropriate to get married as many times as Elizabeth Taylor did. If anybody has gotten married more than twice, they call it the Hollywood syndrome. Now hypothetically, if I think it is okay to do so, as long as you know what you are doing, and this leads to a fight, then the last word on that would be – generation gap.

There are quite a few things that people my age dismiss as an outcome of this ‘generation gap’. There is respect lost, both ways, since nobody likes the output (s) of this essential fundamentalism.

While reading up on the origins of this unnecessary phenomenon, I noticed a few interesting things. There apparently have been programs designed to ‘bridge this gap’. These would include bringing people of different generations together, for a music based orientation session, getting people to interact with people of different age groups, etc. Effective methods have been sending the ‘bookend generations’ (senior citizens, and pre schoolers) to a day care, where one generation takes care of the other. So you mean to say, sitting down and talking face to face dispels this excuse that we have developed as a part of our ingrained fight or flight instincts?

Let’s try and redefine it now. This phrase was introduced as a means to express the inherent conservatism present in every ‘older’ generation, when the ‘newer’ generation backs off from what is the norm, and find easier, and arguably better ways, to get things done. This is what we call growth. It is a continuous process, and not a gap. Every society, every thought, and every human aims to go forward, to be more ideologically, and otherwise, advanced. How is the process that enables the advancement, any sort of gap?

Its not only the older generation that lends a helping hand in dismissing ideas. The new generation does that too. Anything old is a cliché, and rebellion is our motto. There are some things that are the norms for a reason, but how can we hold our heads high and claim to be youngsters if we don’t rebel, and constructively break the rules? The new roads then go on to being the norm, while the generation that formed them, hold it close to their hearts, and blame everybody else, when the positions are changed. This too, is a vicious circle. 

An equally interesting observation would be the rush to make any positivity in thought or action, be it an increase in rationale, technological advancements, progressive ideologies, the product of one’s own generation. Whoever claims it has a blanket opinion on the people of the older generation, forming a never ending cycle of stereotypes.

How many of us get exasperated by the number of times we have to teach our parents how to use their devices? How many times have we laughed at their attempts to try to get something done on an electronic device?  How many times have our parents told us about their childhood, how they climbed the trees, and played in the water, and how everything was simple and happy then, and how they take pity on us, because of the kind of world we live in? These emotions, occurrences are all also classified as generation gap. But think about it. They are merely trying to catch up to the material and physical advances that make their life difficult in just the same manner as it makes ours easy. We will soon be doing this too, and we will take pity on the next generation that 'has missed out' on so much that we had!