Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Let’s meet up

So she called me.

It’s tough be in touch with friends, I understand. There’s work, career, social life, kids, husbands, television, movies to catch, things to buy, status messages to update, maid politics to manage, people to poke, ping or whatever it is they do these days, pedicures to get (although I think a pedicure is the best time to make pending calls to friends), sex to think about but not have, gossip to spread..

So you need time and consistency of purpose to be in touch. So I never complain when someone is not in touch or hasn’t popped into my inbox in a while. There are friends I talk to once a year. Some who I meet once in five or ten. But that’s ok. There’s no pretence of trying, but not being able to make it, or feeling guilty about not trying .
What’s not okay is someone who actually calls you when they need something. But they make it out to be about a bonding that never was. “I have been meaning to call, but just been so busy running around,” she explained. I never understand what that means, unless someone is getting married or house-hunting, in which case I do.

I am sure I am a target for such calls since I am a reservoir of information and contacts, or resourceful enough to get it even if I don’t have it (and it started way before my media job). I don’t have a problem with that.  You need information. I have information. You call me. I give it to you.

But then, don’t disguise it as a chat call. Or a ‘I called because I thought of you’ call. Say it like it is. I called because I wanted a favour, a number,  a pass to something, whatever.

She: How have you been? How’s R, D, your friend x, friend y?
Me: (gives her all the dope while wondering where this is going)
She: It’s been so long! We must meet up!
Me: Sure. Say when, and I’ll show up.
She: By the way, your friend z? Isn’t she a designer?
Me: (Realising that there is an agenda to this) Yes, why?
She: I wanted to talk to her because I wanted some information on a story I was working on.

Aha. So that was it. So much for thinking she was actually interested in how my boy and my cats were doing.

Recently an ex-colleague called me, all chatty and chirpy, and asked me if I had a nanny. I presumed one of two things:
a)     She was pregnant and wanted one
b)    She wanted to do a story on nannies
It turned out to be b. But at least she didn’t make it to be out about anything else, or pretend she wanted to do a movie or lunch or some such sacred metaphor for friendship.

Moral of the story: It’s totally okay to call people only when you need something from them. At least have the balls so say so.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Two cats, a husband and a baby: Love, actually

It took a nine hour date to seal the deal.  All of which was spent sipping a single malt (Glenmorangie, 12 years), talking (some), listening (a lot) and watching a Don DVD (of course, the old one, what were you thinking?).

Now if you know my attention span is worse than that of my 20 month-old, that must have been a big deal.

It happened when it didn’t matter whether or not it happened. I was, at that point, having the greatest love affair of my life – the one with myself. Yes, I am gorgeous, but it took me a long time and many wrong guys to fall in love with myself. When I finally did, along came the one.

I found many shallow reasons to write him off. The fact that he looked too young (I thought at that point that he was the younger sibling of the girl who introduced us). The fact that he had an American accent (diplobrat=American schools=funny, mixed up accent of no fixed address). The fact that he couldn’t cook. The fact that he couldn’t remember the last book he read. The fact that had never watched a play. The fact that he didn’t play any real sport. The fact that none of his friendships dated more than four years. The fact that he was technically, an alien in my city.

And then I found one solid reason not to. The fact that he totally got me. The fact that he made me laugh. The fact that he still does.

Now, many of you may find the sense of humour thing a bit overrated, but it is the one thing that can keep a marriage going. And when the baby comes, oh my god, you need it real bad.

I don’t understand very long engagements or very orchestrated ones. The best marriages I know are where neither party has officially proposed or been proposed to. He chickened out on proposing to me at an Indigo brunch, where he set the mood for me to expect it. Only to do so in the cab ride back home. It was funny.

He: May be we could do this forever.
Me: You mean brunch?
He:  No, I mean us.
Me: Ha ha, you are funny.
He: Is that a yes?
Me: Well, okay.

I reminded him it was a good thing I wasn’t into rocks and bent knees and all that jazz.  He thought that made me cooler.

A year and some later, we were married.

Four years, four mistresses ( a PS2, a PS3, a PSP and an Xbox), two cats and a baby later, I am still enjoying the ride.

Happy Valentine’s day to all.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Will the real plagiarists please stand up?

I don't know whether I am angry, amused, flattered, sad or shocked.

I am being plagiarised. Blatantly. Consistently. Audaciously.

When I got to know, I turned from pissed to numb in less than a minute. It was one name, one blog that I really delved into. But I don't know how many more are at large.

What is one to do? Report a cyber crime? Call the internet moral police, if there is one? Write emails to the offenders, saying excuse me, but I think you are confused. I actually wrote that.

Sue? Which technically, Hindustan Times can, and they are much bigger than me. Because many of the articles that have been filched was when this blog was an archive of its column avatar in the newspaper. So, you could be in big trouble, dear plagiarists. 
The bad thing about the internet is that it is full of cyber vultures. I was warned when I got from the cushioned off-line column to a full-frontal online blog that it would be so. The good thing about the internet is that there are also people looking out for you. Loyal readers. People who still know how to spell ethics or integrity. People who are still not content-sluts enough to have obliterated the boundaries between the real stuff and the fakes.

I don't read blogs or surf the net much, because frankly, I don't like screens too much. Whatever the size, brand or texture. So I would never know how my work is being abused out there.

I visited the blog of one such plagiarist hoping to find salvation. At the very least, a point of view, a voice, a story. Instead I found a pathethic echo of my own voice. A lazy, sloppy echo, that hadn't even bothered to change the headlines.

Why did you have to do this, dear Mamta Joshi from Bangalore? I know imitation is the best form of flattery, and sure you have my blog for ideas, but at least get your own words! Or pretend to rewrite, if being a writer is what it's about. If you had the enterprise to put a blog out there, surely you would have had a modicum of an idea of what to put in it?

I am waiting till you google modicum...


Now here's the bad news, Mamta. This time around, there isn't much for you to copy. Unless of course you were planning on doing a piece on how your bad echo of my blog has an even worse plagiarised version lying around somewhere on the internet.