Saturday, July 21, 2012

'Spit' Personality Disorder

A signboard instructs patrons not to spit.
Image source:
A social illness affecting life as it seems. My attempt at trying to understand and combat a city's, er, a nation's ailment.  If dog owners in the USA can carry their dog’s crap in plastic packets, couldn't ‘spitters’ in India carry their own spit too? Read on for more.
I would love to hear your views!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Of hairy tales and happy endings!

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She looked down in grave horror as he held on for dear life. She watched his fingers lose his grasp on his lifeline and she said a silent prayer. Her breath caught in her chest as she watched him spiral to the ground eighty feet below. Thankfully he had lost hold only ten feet above the ground, and she looked on as he hit the ground with a sickening thud. She knew that this time, she really had pushed the limits and even if he barely bruised himself, in all probability, he would break it off with her.

I’m so tired Po” said Rapunzel. “What do I do? How do I fix this?
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They had been on the phone for almost an hour now, Rapunzel giving Pocahontas the complete rundown of the previous weekend amid sobs and sniffles. Oh! How such a beautiful planned romantic weekend had turned into one of the worst misadventures of her life. Her recent hairfall problems had resulted in her hair falling out in clumps; the latest fiasco had been the last straw. Her handsome prince, who used to get into the tower using her famed extra-long super-strong hair as a rope earlier and who she had now sent tumbling down, was starting to avoid her.  Pocahontas was the one they all turned to in times of adversity. She was unique, the only Disney princess with some uncanny abilities. She could talk to spirits and communicate with animals. She would never turn them away unsatisfied; Po had always resolved their problems. For someone who could address those beyond the living, this should have been a two-minute thing.

Calm down dear. Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Relax. Why don’t you come over for a cup of tea honey? We can talk about your problem then.” said Pochohontas.
You know I can’t Po. I wish I could get out of this wretched tower, but I can’t.” said Rapunzel.
Pocahontas sighed. “OK. Listen to me carefully. The wind will give you answers.” she whispered. “You’ll know what to do. Listen to the spirits. The wind will carry their answers to you.
Ten minutes later, ending the call, Rapunzel was sceptical. Listen to the wind? The wind was supposed to provide her a solution for her hair problems? Not wanting to question her faith in Po’s abilities, she decided to give it a shot, took in a deep breath and sniffed. Hard. Unfortunately, too hard. The smell of rotting decay hit her with such force that she starting coughing frantically in an effort to expel the odour, but it had settled in deep into her lungs making her feel sick to her stomach.

Damn these new neighbours, she thought. Ever since they had moved in a week back, every dish they cooked ended up in her ‘house’ smelling like a garbage truck. She wondered what ingredients they might be using to generate such disgusting odours. Furious, she picked up her handset again, determined to give them a piece of her mind. Two hours later, the conversation had moved from dishes and recipes to upcoming fashion fiestas in the capital. They had discussed everything under the sun from food to books, soap operas to the latest teen pop sensations, even Kate Middleton’s royal wedding and the evergreen heartthrob Tom Cruise. Now confiding in her newfound girl-friend, Rapunzel let go of her choked up emotions, desperate for a timely resolution.

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That’s it? You’re upset for such a minor issue dah-ling?” asked Fiona.
Oh Fi, what do you have to lose? Your husband is humming away in his swamp pool; you guys have a beautiful life waiting for you in the land of Far Far Away. But me? He hasn’t even proposed to me yet! What if Flynn dumps me?”  She wailed.
O Dah-ling. I have just the right thing for you. I’m going to send a bottle up with Puss. Use it on your hair, the more the better, would you?” she crooned, in her sing-song voice.
But  ...” Rapunzel started, “How would he get here? No one has been able to before”.
Oh dah-ling! Don’t you tire out that little head of yours dear! All it would do is cause more hairfall.” She said, continuing. “Puss has Dragon’s help dah-ling. That team of theirs, those two can scale mountains and fires. That tower of yours is child’s play sweetheart! Even Donkey could jump higher.” She said, pooh-poohing Rapunzel’s concerns. Rapunzel saw a shining beacon in the distance and her face lit up with promises of happily ever after.


What the ... What the ... What the hell did you give me Fiona $@%^$%#@@” Rapunzel hollered. Having dumped the entire bottle of Fiona’s concoction on her head, her hair now smelled like eviscerated decomposing bodies. The stench was so powerful that the pigeons and the black crows, her only companions who would religiously visit her at the lone window dug into the brick wall, had also fainted and now lay still at the base of the tower.
Oh dah-ling. Didn’t I tell you? It’s a panacea for all your hair problems. It will drive away the hair fall.
The only thing it will drive away is my dashing prince. The way this thing stinks, you should be able to feel the fetor through the phone! What have you put in it? Dead rats?
 “How did you know?” exclaimed Fiona as Rapunzel blanched at the other end of the line.
But I kept it mild for you dah-ling; you know how it smells if it’s too strong! So I put in only two. You see Shrek has been using this for years, he says. You know how hairy he is, don’t you dah-ling? What do you think his secret is? Well, I don’t usually let on to others about this.. but neighbours are family, so..” Fiona paused conspiratorially, continuing in a low whisper. “There are two frog’s eyeballs too. And some feathers from a black crow that I had caught earlier this evening for stew. Oh, and dah-ling I mixed in some mud from the swamp too. It’s got these Ayurveda powers that everyone’s talking about these days, medicine they say. Meh! my dah-ling Shrek always knew that.” She added in a proud tone.
One more time you say Dah-ling, I will personally come over to kill you, even if I had to ride Dragon.” Rapunzel screamed, before she slammed down the phone. So that was where her crow friends had been ending up. What a psycho, she thought!


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Her only last ray of hope lay in Jasmine. So much for listening to the wind. Desperately running out of time, thankful that she had Jasmine on speed dial, she punched in the keys. She hoped Jasmine wasn’t touring the world on yet another of her magic carpet flying journeys with her boyfriend Aladdin. They had been unsuccessful in all their attempts so far to rescue Rapunzel from the tower with the use of the magic carpet, but they hadn't given up. Ecstatic when Jasmine answered the phone, Rapunzel plunged headlong into her woes begging her friend to help her out. Jasmine had wanted to know what had been tried so far and Rapunzel detailed her efforts, gagging at the thought of dead rats and frog’s eyeballs in her hair.

Jazz, didn’t your boyfriend find anything in that cave of his? Could Genie help?” she pleaded.
Oh sugar, if only you had called me earlier. Ali found just the perfect solution for me nestled among that treasure trove of his. I’ll email it to you right away. Haven’t you noticed how thick and lustrous my hair is? Genie even uses it on his beard. That’s why it’s so long!
Rapunzel’s laptop buzzed an alert of incoming mail and she excitedly rubbed her hands at the prospect of a possible cure-all. Sure enough, there was the email telling her all about the new Dove App. Jasmine had even added a note in bold red below saying “…and that was the end of my hair problems!”.
Got it? Try it, I promise you, it will be the end of your problems too! I got to run sugar. Ali’s waiting for me. We’re taking off for Paris in a few; we plan to catch the Paris Fashion Week later this month.” Jasmine said in a hurried tone.
Thank you Jazz!! You’re the best. Thank Ali for me! Love to Genie and Abu!” Rapunzel gushed, confident that this time she would strike gold.

And true to her friend’s promise, about four weeks later, Rapunzel and her prince Flynn rode into the sunset one fine day. Rapunzel sporting a six-carat emerald rock on her finger, exotic flowers woven into her thick, strong, longer than ever braid, love in her heart and her love by her side. Needless to say, they lived happily ever after!

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This post is part of the contest .. and that was the end of my hair problems on Indiblogger
All images obtained through Google Images Search. No copyright infringement intended.
I would love to hear your views!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Guwahati's shame or India's?

Would she ever get true justice?
Would her perpetrators ever be brought to book?
Would she ever be eligible for some peace of mind?

Should this be acceptable?
Should she always walk around covered from head to toe lest she be termed ‘provoking’?
Should she not be allowed to marry a man she approves of?
Should she never be allowed to hang out with friends in the evenings anymore?
Should she be locked up in a house after 7 PM because it’s too dangerous to venture out?
Should she always have to look over her shoulder as she walks down busy streets?
Should she always turn around with fear when she hears the sound of tyre over gravel, unsure of who’s approaching?
Should she always note down motorcycle numbers when she sees men in groups?
Should she always walk in fear and a deep sense of foreboding in her heart?
Should she always keep a lookout for an owner of every shadow that she senses?
Should she give up any expectations of support from bystanders and fellow commuters?
Should she have to sleep in fear and shudder at the sound of every footstep?
Should she just give up and move away from this nation of mute onlookers to a more safer haven?
Should she start hoping for a boy child instead?
Is that the solution?

The questions above will apply to each and every individual in this nation. Man or woman. And the answer to each of the above questions is probably a big, fat, emphatic NO. A word, that unfortunately, carries no meaning and makes no sense to some twisted, criminal, sick, disgusting minds. The recent incident of Guwahati, in which a mob of about 30 men molested a lone teen, even as bystanders stood mutely and the reporter of Newslife video-recorded the entire incident instead of trying to get his crew to intervene proves just that. Cops did not arrive at the crime scene until 30 minutes later. 4 days later only 11 have been identified and 4 have been arrested. Even as the video clearly identifies each and every individual. I find that a little hard to digest. It actually makes me sick to my stomach. The Gurgaon incident which had sparked a major outcry throughout the country sometime ago, has fared no better. No arrests have been made yet. Guwahati witnessed a similar case 5 years back. Same outcome. 5 years and no change yet. 

Law and order in India needs a major upheaval. A huge rewrite. Policies need to be revised in keeping with the times. The derogatory manner in which the culprits behaved, the crude arrogance with which they smiled at the camera, the confidence that they’re untouchable is disgusting to say the least. Much has been said and discussed about this already, in the news, by the media, the blogosphere etc. I will not add much to it.

Instead, I’m going to request each and every woman reading this (men can pass this along if they feel it deserved to be) to stay aware, stay prepared. Keep your eyes and ears open. Unfortunately, because of the blatant ongoing mockery of the law and order departments, the onus to stay safe does shift to a large extent to our shoulders. The below might seem a bit extreme, but better safe than sorry.

  • Wear comfortable footwear as much as you can. Running in heels will be difficult. If you're going to a party, carry your heels in a carry-bag. The bag can double up as a weapon if you need to take a swing at anyone.
  • Take the elevators instead of the stairs in deserted buildings. You can always lose weight later.
  • Do not stay on the cell phone in shady parking lots. Updating Facebook can wait.
  • Do not let anyone know if you’re travelling alone. An imaginary husband or boyfriend should always be right around the corner.
  • Always carry a pepper spray. Don’t have one? Fill a perfume bottle with chilli powder and water. The stronger, the better. But be aware, that 15-20% of the time it might not work. There have been cases where men have not been affected even by full face sprays. Unfortunately, a breed of mankind is already immune to it.
  • Lock the car immediately after getting into it. Cosmetic adjustments by looking into the mirror can be done later.
  • Learn some kind of self defence. Kickboxing would be good.
  • Avoid martial arts studios unless you specifically wish to train in the traditional martial arts techniques and are prepared for a long-term commitment. Many women’s self-defense programs teach watered-down martial arts techniques that are complex and unrealistic under the stress of an actual attack.
  • Change routes once in a while, if you have to walk through deserted roads. Do not become predictable.
  • Do not embark on a Women's rights mission against unknown strangers if you're alone. Such animals derive pleasure from attacking such individuals. Women's rights are important but not they do not rank higher than your safety. You can always come back with a bigger group to teach them a lesson later.
  • In case of any untoward incident, stay confident and alert. Try to resist but be prepared to run.
  • Pune police also says: For cabs, avoid sitting in the front seat and avoid interactions with drivers.
  • Keep cell phones always charged and sufficient balance if you need to make emergency calls.
  • Never travel alone. In extreme emergencies, always use public transport as much as possible
  • Do not permit unknown/unauthorized people to travel with you.
  • While travelling alone, inform or SMS the vehicle number to someone you know well before or as soon as your board, for contingencies.
  • Always stay in touch with someone through phone while travelling alone. Call in, a quick 2 minute call, every ½ hour or so.
  • Do not get into unnecessary arguments with strangers especially if you do not have male companions with you. Unfortunate but true. A small group of girls might also be no match for some of these predators. Proving yourself right is required, but not at the cost of your safety or dignity.
  • Never open a door - be it a car, your home or a hotel - unless you’re sure that the person on the other side is someone legitimate.
  • Use your sixth sense. “Sixth sense.” “Gut instinct.” Whatever you call it, your intuition is a powerful subconscious insight into situations and people. All of us, especially women, have this gift, but very few of us pay attention to it. Learn to trust this power and use it to your full advantage. Avoid a person or a situation which does not “feel” safe–you’re probably right.
  • Escape. Always your best option. What if the unthinkable happens? You are suddenly confronted by a predator who demands that you go with him–be it in a car, or into an alley, or a building. It would seem prudent to obey, but you must never leave the primary crime scene. You are far more likely to be killed or seriously injured if you go with the predator than if you run away (even if he promises not to hurt you). Run away, yell for help, throw a rock through a store or car window–do whatever you can to attract attention. And if the criminal is after your purse or other material items, throw them one way while you run the other.
  • Your right to fight. Unfortunately, no matter how diligently we practice awareness and avoidance techniques, we may find ourselves in a physical confrontation. Whether or not you have self-defence training, and no matter what your age or physical condition, it is important to understand that you CAN and SHOULD defend yourself physically. You have both the moral and legal right to do so, even if the attacker is only threatening you and hasn’t struck first. Many women worry that they will anger the attacker and get hurt worse if they defend themselves, but statistics clearly show that your odds of survival are far greater if you do fight back. Aim for the eyes first and the groin second. Remember, though, to use the element of surprise to your advantage–strike quickly, and mean business. You may only get one chance.
  • Feed important telephone numbers including police control room in your cell phones.
  • Do not discuss personal matters when availing public transports, not even with your friends. Someone might be listening.
  • Avoid parties with unknown colleagues, especially ones involving drinks - if you have to attend, make sure you never leave your drink unattended.
  • Be extremely careful if you go in for shared transport. Avoid it if possible. If not, always be alert.
  • For women in IT and BPO, if availing company transport, check the identification of the cab drivers before you take off.
  • If leaving your workplace alone at night, get the night watchman to drop you till your vehicle or the closest bus-stop. If that does not work, have someone pick you up instead if possible.
  • Most companies using cab drop off and pick up have modified their policies to never have a woman employee picked up first or dropped off last. If your’s does not do that yet, talk to your HR about it.
  • Stick together. Stay in crowds.
  • Do not put up with abuse. Be it verbal or physical. From a man or a woman. Family or otherwise.

Of course, in the event of 30 men attacking a lone girl and a whole bunch of onlookers standing by and no one helping, I do not know if staying in a crowd would really help. But it’s better than being on your own. Stay safe.

Note: For items in italics, copyright is attributed to
I would love to hear your views!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Frozen in Time

Am embarrassing moment!

Bidding farewell to a few friends and colleagues from work, I was caught up in a private conversation with one of my favourite people - someone I had loved to work with and grown to love as a person outside of work as well. An elderly lady, probably in her mid-to-late 60s, we had taken to each other like family. We would trade pictures of our countries, family, events regaling each other with stories of childhood. In my case - mine, in her case - her childrens’. She would always fondly tell me that she would love to be a grandmother to my children someday. For that reason, the word ‘grandmother’ got imprinted in my mind and hence led to one of the most embarrassing moments for me ever (probably the second most, the most embarrassing one - I wont even tell you about!) when at the end of conversation, hugging her, I said “You make the best, most perfect grand-mom!” to which she responded “ Grand-mom? I thought I am like your Mom, but grand-mom works too!”

Caught like a deer in the headlights, I didn't know how to respond and we somehow laughed it off when I told her about her wish to be my children’s grand-mom. But days later, I sat thinking about the episode and what had prompted me to blabber out something like this.

Nothing clicked until I landed in Chennai for a cousin’s wedding. Staring at the framed picture of my paternal grandmother who had passed away a few years ago, it struck me. It was a picture of her, taken when she was in her 60s. To me, my grandmother was only as old as in the picture. She was frozen in time. And she would continue to be so. In many ways, this colleague of mine reminded me of my grandmother. Sure, age for one. But apart from that, the way she spoke, the way she cared for me, her mannerisms, everything resembled my grandmother’s way of life.

And suddenly, the image of my now-retired then-super busy mother in her 40s flashes before my eyes. The way she was, when I was in college, bringing friends over for dosas and idlis, to watch the Indo-Pak cricket match on TV and she would be hustling and bustling around. I am glad and proud to say, nothing much has changed. She still feels young for her years, brisk and enthusiastic. Now retired, she’s having the time of her life. Relaxing, reading, watching TV, meeting up with friends, shopping, touring the country, catching up with family and so on. My ‘little’ sister is all grown up now, mature, independent, professional. Everyone around me has put on a few years and so have I. The apartment building where I stay used to be packed with children running around in the evenings, watchful mothers mingling with each other nearby, exchanging gossip, keeping an eye on the kids. Now the same venue seems somewhat deserted - elderly folks sit and trade stories. No kids run about. Possibly an effect of TV, video games or the internet even.

With every growing year, I feel like I am gaining so much more in terms of life’s lessons, identifying the harmless mistakes that are OK to accidentally repeat and steering clear of those that I cannot afford to repeat. Feeling the pangs of family more, wanting to spend every waking moment I could around them. Trying to understand why someone behaves the way they do. Learning to be happy for someone in their good times and the knowledge to empathize when the need be. Becoming increasingly confused about where I want to stay for the next few months, years, forever. Weighing my career options. Becoming more aware that decisions and choices now are so much more complicated than they used to be years ago when I was in school. When the only thing we were worried about then, was whether to pay Rs. 2 for a bunch of berries or tamarind (imli) instead from the local hawker peddling his wares down the street, choosing the flavor of the 50-paisa pepsi from the store on the way home. I am sure even these and the stress of examinations would have scared us enough back then!

So even as I frame my next email to my dear colleague sending her an update of how I am doing - looking back at those days, how I wish, we could pick a time frame of our lives and then, for better or for worse, just stay frozen in time! I don’t know if that would be a good thing or a bad thing tho’!

I would love to hear your views!
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