Tuesday, September 25, 2007

You are being Fcuked!

A few things I learnt at FCUK's network building bash that happened last week:

1) Sharp dressing means different things to different people. Even though it means 'fashionable and new' according to the dictionary.

2) The problem with being a trend follower is wardrobe space. Now even though I am a give-away-anything-you-haven't-worn-in-a-year kind of person, I still find my wardrobe spilling out for the most part. And I am not even a fashion victim. May be I just have a small wardrobe. Oh well.

3) Being sharply dressed means that everyone ends up looking the same. And why would women take so much trouble, just to end up looking like any other woman, beats me. This is probably the reason why I have resisted straightening my hair, my nose, my teeth, even my hands (my yoga instructor insists that I have crooked hands). The thing is, I love my imperfections. It makes me me. So even when I try to blend in, my hair and skin colour doesn't, and so, I have pretty much given up.

4) Appearing well put-together is too much work. In any case, most of the places-to-be-seen-at are so dark, you can barely locate your feet. So why bother?

5) Keeping up with trends means shopping for every night out, and doesn't make sense. Just when you are getting comfy with boot cuts, along comes skinny jeans..and just when you give away all your page-girl tops, they are back again. And just when you thought sequins were out, they are in again. So I survived leggings, bling mania, broad belts, skinny jeans, tunics, bubbles and..Oh, forget it!

6) When you are at a to-be-seen place, try getting an aerial view. It's really cool. A few friends and I spent a good part of the evening watching Nina Manuel getting made up for her TV show. Her dress ended even before it began—that must be sharp. And Sapna Bhavnani's bag was bigger than her outfit. Kelly Dorji wore a cool white shirt and an uncool scowl.

7) Electronic music is actually that. Electronic. Which means the sound doesn't come from anything. Just technology. Wow! Why didn't I think of that? And the new cool is not trance or techno—it's Intelligent Dance Music. Deep!

8) Being an artist is cool. From my voyeuristic upper deck, I watched Apnavi Thacker messing around with a canvas. She stuck a picture, she painted varnish over it, she sprayed the letters F C U K (the K was definitely in a language waiting to be invented) and SEX TOY and P O L I C E around it, then she messed it some more with some red spray paint. This time she wore something that looked like deep-sea-diving equipment. Two hours later, she was still at it, and it still looked the same. And the crowd was still watching her. That's cool.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Honey, I shrunk the Ganpati

On Sunday, I got back from my mom’s house post the ganpati festivities, feeling like an elephant goddess myself, after all the modaks, the kheer, the appams and the til laddoos(the last one got added to the menu this year..)

Every year, a day before the event, my mum brings out the little silver Ganesha from her silverware box, where he spends the rest of the year with bowls, plates, cups, trinkets, coins and all things silver. The day he is brought out, a throne is made for him, where he is nestled on a bed of flowers, dhruva (type of grass he fancies) and other things floral or green. He gets further smothered with the akshata and the tulsi and things showered on him by the family and visitors.

The pundit arrives, does his fast-forward puja, grabs his bag of goodies and makes way for the next house, and we feast for the rest of the day. The next day, the ganesha is stripped of all the d├ęcor and goes back into the silverware box to hang out with lesser mortals.

It wasn’t always like this. Years ago, when we were a bunch of rambunctious kids, we had real idols very year—tall and grand, with the works. Mom, the impeccably diligent one, always did her bit, but dad was not exactly fastidious about aarti timings, and had issues with leading public processions (and the job was non-negotiable, as chief male member). That it ate into his TV time was another matter. The brother, next in line for the coveted role didn’t see the point of taking showers to earn the prasad, or do the puja—he didn’t think a shower made him any more holy. We girls would happily do it, but we were told it was not ‘our domain’

And when it came to the immersion, the men went missing. So ever so often, the ganpati would come home in a bag and leave in a bag.
Soon, mum had enough. No way was her idol going to be treated like this. She took matters in her own hands and announced that we were going silver!

Of course, now my family can join the eco-friendly ranks, as we are not contributing any plaster of paris to the environment… but somehow, Ganesh Chaturthi has become less festive… when he gained metal, the elephant god seemed to have lost some of his buoyancy and charisma. Sometimes, it is hard to even spot him, amidst all the flowers and garlands and tulsi leaves and dhruvas (special type of grass that the ganesha likes)

But everyone is happy. Me and the sister are happy, as all we have to do is eat (after prostrating of course). Brother is in foreign shores, so he just messages “What’s cooking?” and sighs in nostalgia. Dad is relieved that he is under no performance pressure— the pundit has been outsourced to do the needful. As for mom, she is the chief choreographer who has complete control and is in a good place. Even Lupooh Singh, the cat is ecstatic, as it ensures him unlimited access for a day and a half to dhruva and other things green and floral, that he loves devouring to a point there he gets a tummy ache.

As for the ganesha himself… he hasn’t complained yet.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The hot and cold of it

I spend a great part of my day in an office where my most preoccupying thought is how to stay warm. Now, don’t get ideas. There’s no such action here. All I am talking about is plotting on how not to be subjected to sub-human temperatures and not have to thaw my fingers every time I try to type.

Okay, I know some people consider it fashionable to dress for winter and wear layers and all of that, but I am not one of those — I am the type who hates wearing a salwar kameez because it has too much fabric and too many layers. So when I am forced to wear more fabric than necessary to keep myself warm, it irks me.

And to think that just over a year ago, I would have done anything to have an office AC that actually cools. Yes, I was then in a space called Man’s World, where one felt one had to go through a steady state of disrobing so as to not roast. Had the AC been fixed, and had there been a unisex loo in place, I would have probably never made it to this paper.

I have come to realise that when it comes to the work place, there are only two options. Either you shrivel or you stew. There is no such thing as an office with optimum temperature. Let’s not even go to food, recreation and other frills.

A few years prior, I was in a robot land called Tata Interactive, which was a space inhabited by Neanderthals with varying winter wardrobes..from the very gauche to the very galactic. And when it came to a contest for cooling needs, somehow, the “server” always won, even though most of our window displays always showed that the “server was down” or some such.

Somehow, I have always been lucky with houses, which is why going back home is always a more pleasant experience than going to work. Of course, staying in the car is the best of all.

If only HR personnel knew that the one way to make sure people stay in their jobs for ever and ever is by offering them the right food and the right temperature. Like animals, human beings also like to nest when the conditions are optimum. It doesn’t take too many workshops to figure that out. Till today, the office where I have had the longest innings has been the one with optimum cooling and happy canteen boys. That’s all it takes, future employers please pay attention.

My friend Anita, who lives in New York has an interesting theory — work is not a natural state to be — like eating or sleeping, or being in love, or getting married. We work because we have to, but we eat and sleep because we love to. Sometimes we work because it is the only way we can do the rest of the stuff. So in that sense, work contradicts our natural state of being. And working in the cold aggravates it even further. Ever wonder why those posh offices with snazzy ACs and vending machines that spew it all have such a high turnover of people? Well, it’s just too cold for comfort.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

One flu o’er my nest

One thing my parents never succeeded in teaching me was fear. Topmost in their wish list when we were kids would have been fear of teachers and doctors. Now the teacher bit, I had my way around— most of my teachers adored me. The doctors however were a different ball game…

Now I was a sickly child, so at least two visits a month with any parent who could drag me to the doc was mandatory. Back then, my parents usually measured the efficiency of a doctor by the assortment pf pills he prescribed. Whenever we moved house, we also moved doctors, and after a visit to the local doctor, my dad would come back with the verdict, “Bah! He doesn’t know anything…just two pills….” But they never missed their jaunts to the doc.

I could never see the point of going to a place which was infested by sad, sick looking people, and then being thrust an assortment of evil looking pills in white, blue, yellow and pink, not to mention that half or quarter pill in orange. So I did the unthinkable. I asked them why? I thought the clinical examination room was an extension of my classroom and it was time to ask questions. I wanted to know what each of those pills planned to do in my body. The doctors bristled, and huffed, and wished me out of their sight as soon as possible, and I noticed a parent turning nervous..

Things never changed—in fact they got worse— I majored in Pharmacy and now I actually had the benefit of knowledge. I knew exactly when a doctor was taking the easy way out, or making you a guinea pig for a drug he was trying to promote. And since I come from a family of pill poppers who consider the doctor as god, I had plenty of opportunity to ask why.

The beau joins the ranks in my family as another benign soul who never questions the doctor. When he has a flu, he diligently visits a neighbourhood quack, who douses him with the same high-end antibiotic (which costs ten times as much as the more common ones for respiratory infection). He has been doing this for the last four years, and not once has the beau asked him why. I don’t get this. It’s not that it makes him feel any better—in fact every visit gets him even more annoyed…but perhaps not enough to exercise his right to information, or opinion for that matter.

I wonder what it is about doctors what intimidates people—and I think I know what. It’s the clinical smells of the examination room, the combined aura of all those certificates on the wall, the stethoscope and the asking you to pull your tongue out to look at your throat, the intimidating and aseptic smells of disinfectant—the sterility of it all creates a fear bubble, and the doctor knows that. If you were to meet a doctor in a lift, or in the gym, or at the multiplex, would he have the same effect on you? I hope not…

I am finally in a place of holistic healing, and swear by my homeopath. Even though friends and acquaintances and just about anyone who can get a word in always asks, “Are you sure?” or , “Why don’t you see a real doctor?”

Yes, I am bloody sure I don’t want to dump myself with antibiotics, antihistamines, cough suppressants and pain killers for a flu which anyway deserves its 5-6 day cycle. After all, every germ has to get its due.