Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Happy happy joy joy!

Hi. I am Happy Singh and I am the kitten that just got adopted by a kind lady in HT. Okay, I know I created quite a flutter in their office as I was the only good looking thing in the compound, but sorry folks, no free shows anymore. I have a home address now. I just thought since all of you have so many questions, and I obviously can’t answer all of them, as I only know felinespeak, I am going to use this column to tackle a few:

1. Why am I called Happy Singh?

I think the writer of this column has a cat called Lupooh Singh and she is oh-so-smitten by him. And the lady who adopted me also liked the name, so who was I to protest?

2 . Why do I not respond to “Happy Singh”?

Frankly, I don’t care if you call me Osama Bin Laden or David Dhawan. I am just amused that you guys read so much into a name.All I care about is:

a) Are you going to feed me, which is usually a good thing

b) Are you going to pet/cuddle/kiss/squeeze me, which is usually not a good thing

3.Why do I never listen to you?

Because, if you notice, I am a cat and not a dog. Are you going to expect me to respond to doggy commands, like ‘catch’, ‘jump’, ‘down’ , ‘stay’ which, frankly are quite annoying. I just do what I want to do and not what you want me to do.

3.Why is my stomach so round?

Have I ever asked you why your nose is so big, or why you leave a trail of deodorant till Mahim station or why do you smoke so much or how did you get so fat? So leave my stomach alone. But if you must know, it’s worms. I lost my mommy when I was three weeks old and I had to eat garbage till I wandered into the HT building. Just give me a week, I will get my shape back.

4. Why do I attack you when you sponge me or try to take my ticks out?

Because I don’t like being messed around, is why. And has anyone tried to sponge you or take your ticks out? Just so you know how it feels.

5. Why do I scratch everything around so much?

Why do you think God gave me claws and not you?

6. Why do I curl up and sleep so much?

Because, I don’t have to slave in the office so much, hoping that some day I don’t have to work and then I can curl up and sleep all day like a cat. I am ahead of the game, as I am already living the good life and don’t have to wait till I am 60 or 70 or however long humans take to stop working and start living.

7. Why do I never stay in my assigned corner?

Because frankly, I have better taste and I don’t work in an office.


Happy Singh

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Plot thickens

There is a reason why it’s called a big fat Indian wedding. The number of people coming to it is usually big, a third of them are people you don’t even know and at least a fifth of them are fat.

Big is a relative term actually. At a recent wedding of a close friend who insisted it was a ‘small’ gathering, there were 400 odd people. It was a scene from a K-soap—her lehenga weighed 10 kilos, her card weighed a kilo and shed glitter with a vengeance, her make up weighed another kilo and rendered her smile-less, almost botoxed. She needed four chaperones to stand, sit or move and it took me a while to spot her, as she was beyond recognition.

The average family wedding I have attended has anything between 400 to 800 people. So my folks were a bit shocked when I told them our magic number was 120. Only immediate family and friends— people we celebrate and those who celebrate us—that was what me and the beau wanted. The list was a dream come true.

“What about all the weddings we have attended? Don’t we owe them an invitation?” was the initial worry from my folks. Fortunately his family was much cooler and totally believed in the ‘small is beautiful’ concept.

I can’t speak for others, but I don’t exactly dig going to my grandfather’s sister-in-law’s niece’s brother’s wedding. Or such innumerable miscellanous weddings to which one is invited at age ten, when you don’t want to go anywhere except to play with your friends.

And I get no joy out of someone telling me how he/she is connected to my family tree.

My parents are largely cool, and they came around. But the uncle from down south thought otherwise. “Well, I will need some cards for my wife’s brothers, sisters, their spouses and their children. Also, you must invite my son’s in-laws, they might expect it… I quickly added up the utterly dispensable cast and shuddered.

More trouble.

There is a problem with wanting tradition, but also wanting it to suit your sensibilities. My pundit was a bit stupefied when I told him that I only wanted rituals that celebrate womanhood and are not in any way sexist…That I had issues with kanyadanam and being offered as a bribe to stop the groom from embracing asceticism. He mumbled something about getting back to me and hasn’t called me since.

The wedding card was another thing I was concerned about, and I somehow managed to extract rights from the mother, else it would have been Sow…, daughter of……., niece of …………., grand-daughter of………….. weds Chi…….., son of …………, brother of ……………., brother-in-law of …………….

She relented, as she gets me..but she had her two bits to leave behind:

“It should not be black”

“It should have a ganpati

“People should know it’s a wedding card..”

Ok, that much I can deal with.

There was more—the whole sari and jewellery business. I saw no point in picking something that weighs a ton and that I will never wear again, so I picked up something light, yet elegant.

“It’s not grand”

“It doesn’t look like a wedding sari”

“What will people say?”

“You only get married once…”

And to think that I still have more than a month to go.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Pushing daisies

Many years ago, when we had the nerve to deal with double roles, Amok Palekar once waxed eloquent to Utpal Dutt about nirmal anand (read,something that gives you pleasure without purpose) and its many joys. As I watched my pet squirrel Ismail bathing in the sun and washing himself in adandon one morning, I wondered how little we indulge in it nowadays and sighed.

Walking down Chimbai lane (ah, for lanes) a few evenings later, I sighted a skin and hair clinic called Nirmal Herbal. Ah! Time for some nirmal anand, I thought… and walked in…

The vibe was very fenshui—santoor sounds, some fish having a wild time in a tank they seem to have outgrown, a fountain in a corner… and there was just one soul other than me partaking of the joys of skin or hair treatment. Should have meant something. But I continued undaunted. “I just want to pamper my hair a bit…” I said to the girl with the practised husky voice.

“Sure.. we will give you a complete, non-chemical, deep-conditioning treatment. We only use vegetable juices and fruit pulp. Nothing artificial.”

Curiouser and curiouser. I thought I could deal with smelling like an orchard for a day or two, so asked them to bring it on.

“But for good results, you will have to come here at least 12-14 times..”

What? But I guess I was being particularly brave that day, so I asked, “And how much would that cost?

She mentioned a figure that was more than my monthly car EMI. I shivered.

Noticing me flinch, the incorrigible hustler of a girl added, “But we have a package… take 12 and get 13 and 14 free!

It wasn’t working. “I will just try once and then decide,” the saner half of me told her. Then followed an hour of feeling that my cerebral neurons are being attacked and then drenched with green and orange gooey substances. Now, I have studied enough Pharmacognosy to know that the liquid was neem and pulp was papaya and the rinse was shikakai and reetha, both detrimental to my already dry hair. So I piped, “But this can’t be good for me… my hair is dry…”

“Don’t worry, there are no chemicals….”

She gave me a cold stare, and continued in the most stoic manner. Where do they go for training? To the Matrix?

Don’t they know that every natural product is a complex chemical structure? It’s just that it doesn’t come pre-packaged with its composition.

At the end of it all, I felt like a nervous wreck, poorer by what could buy me a Mango dress. Plus my hair felt like straw.

The next day, it still felt like straw.

Two days later, I had to douse it with my chemical infested shampoo, conditioner and hair serum to give it some semblance of grace.

A few days later, my colleague walked in to work, her face infested with what looked like insect bites. “Are you just back from the Amazon?,” I asked.

“No, I just went for a facial yesterday, and it looks like they have used some wrong product,” she wailed.

Both of us want our money back.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


There are four types of big women: there are those who thrust their bigness in your face (read, if you are walking down a corridor and they are walking towards you, you can be sure that if you don’t retreat, they will run you over).

And there are big women who don’t give a damn, and would never try a slimming product or aspire for a certain size or fit… they wear their bigness with style and in fact you actually like them because they are big, and couldn’t bear to imagine them any other way. In fact, you hardly notice they are big , as you are so in sync.

Then there are those who hate you for being small and secretly wish they could fit into your clothes. Such women go on crash GM diets, dancersize and zoomba classes, or pretty much anything that promises to make them svelte. It does, relatively speaking—it helps them lose 3 kg of their total 70 kg body mass, but that hardly shows. So they are usually sore and grimacing most of the time.

And finally, there those who are almost apologetic about being big— they try to physically shrink when they are near you. They have a genial attitude, softer voices, gentler footsteps, and you feel safe and protected around them—almost like mamma.

For most of my life, I have been surrounded by women bigger than me, which is not a difficult thing to achieve, as I am 5 feet nothing and I pretty much stopped growing at age 15, horizontally and vertically. Fortunately or unfortunately, I have never aspired to appear taller or larger by wearing heels or padded bras—I really didn’t see any point in creating an illusion.

Except my mother and two of my aunts, I don’t know many women who are smaller than me (except a niece or two, but they don’t count). This becomes difficult when you want to give away clothes that you love, but have managed to outgrow. My sister was a prime candidate, until recently. But sometimes, when you have to kick ass, it helps to be bigger than your opponent, so you at least know that they can’t punch harder than you.

I read a book a long time ago called A prayer for Owen Meany in which there is a boy who stops growing at the age of 12. And you make his presence felt, he speaks in a volume four times the required one, and all his words are in ALL CAPS. So you know what it means when he says REALLY, HOW ON EARTH DO THEY MANAGE THAT? He’s just making a point.

A friend of mine told me how she finds it tough being taken seriously by her juniors at work, as they were all bigger than her. “It’s about filling a chair”… she told me. “You have to have to appear big to look intimidating.” I tried wearing layers and appearing large, inhaling deeply and filling myself out, outstretched arms and all in an ample chair, but felt like a bit of an idiot. I finally reassured myself that sometimes, great things do come in small packages.