October 31, 2007

The Story of the Missing Tigers and Tusks

In the texts of administrative laws (Wade and Smith being the fashionable names to cite), one is told 'public interest', concerns of the ex-chequer, and in some cases quasi-judicial reasoning informs the mind of the state machinery. One thinks later, what did our State think when looking to solve a problem of depleting forest lands, and disappearing tigers and wild elephants? It thought-"... it has to be these settlements of tribal people who have been collecting twigs and picking fruits through centuries that have driven roadrollers through forests, and poached for smuggle-market of tusks. It must have been them un-conservationist lot, who kill tigers, and wipe off our precious coniferous forests. They must be the ones itching to build themselves some highways and some shopping malls."

The state agency- in our case, it being The Bench (that I must speak of in reverence and reticence for fear of Mid-day Massacres), that is the Messiah and the Tiger and the Tusk- goes:
".... tsk tsk... these tribal chaps are nice and cute, but they know nothing about conservation. Since we must conserve our middle-class Romance of the Tiger and the Tusk, we must we must- the Tusk... the Tusk! Give up the Tribal for the Tusk. So we can shop by the highway in peace. And safari-hike in joy on holiday. And brag in elan, about our shopping-mall-cum-safari State."

So, says The Bench : " Off with their heads, coz they are too much of a headache, on a Friday afternoon. Give the miner his license to wipe out some wilds, put the tribal away into some mining crevice, place the Banner of the middle-class romance of the Tiger and the Tusk right in the middle, so Fourth Estate Blokes get a photo-op, to perhaps be the Mascot of our Shopping-Mall-cum-Safari State. Such peace gives Justice when it is done..."

October 19, 2007

Pujo Specials

Pujos have always been the Bongsnob's snooty way of ensuring the live-it-up-and-don't-go-to-work for five days straight. What religious occasion demands no sacrifice (no fasting, no shave-head), expects no particular performance to prove your undying loyalty, and gives you a ticket to simply- fun?!

Of course, I have always maintained that Pujo is a middle-class indulgence- of opulent shopping, of bunking work, of overeating a little more, of carefree intellectual masturbation sessions at pandals. That said, I have been reminiscing about the various things that Pujos have represented for me through the years. Vanity, for instance, has always been a very Pujo-thing. For five days, I feel terribly deck-up-floosie and demure-vain. To the extent, that heels are pulled out a day in advance and kept aside, and hair-washes are timed right and arguments are carried out with Ma over what goes with what.

Flirting, is certainly a Pujo special. Like costume-drama foreplay at dinners, lunches, adda sessions- simpering to the boy's mother (who will invariably be some discerning Kakima). The boys that pulled pigtails last year, became antakshari buddies this year, and would become (ahem) Boyfriends next year, and would be away finishing semester exams during Pujos a few years hence. Would be Stopping By on the way from London to Hong Kong a few years thereafter. And would be showing off Bong Kultur to their German wives the next year.

Pujos are chronicles. Of heartbreaks and childbirths. Of Boyfriends who are not in the country to buy you Phuchkaa anymore. Best Friends who got married and moved and are no more giggle-and-look-coy buddies. Of grandmothers who are not well enough to cook Ilish Maach anymore. Of brothers and sisters who don't bicker any more. Of kakimas who stopped buying jaamdani saris, since their husbands died. Of homes fading away and homelands changing addresses.

October 9, 2007

Me on eM

I remain a devoted reader of the Compulsive Confessor's urbane 'woman' exploit-stories, but am quite disturbed by her transition into a non-anonymous, linked-to-real-life-person blog. More so by the Telegraph UK article, in which she has been portrayed as the Indian 'Bridget Jones'. I don't know how her interview went, so not in a position to impute self-marketing to eM herself, but she is soooo no Bridget....not even close.

Bridget is endearingly fat, edgy, jittery about the world's image of her- endearingly lonely- endearingly intelligent yet self-effacing. eM, and I am a devoted reader, is a Cool Cat. A funny one at that, honest (though sometimes she sounds pretentious and self-obsessed, like all of us do) and very real for an urbane woman, handling various Indias, like me. So, reading her blog is fun for urbane twenty-something women. And maybe, marginally titillating for wannabe men, and ubercool for nineteen-year-old aspirants. But she is so Not Bridget. The difference being that her writing is definitely a bit cultivated, and she sounds a bit too vagina-sure for it to be real. So she sounds a bit like she is performing on the blog. Which is okay. It can still make for fun reading.

For all the SatC comparisons on Sepia Mutiny, she may even sound a little Carrie-esque. Who takes Vagina-angst to a different level altogether. And keeping aside east-west culture-shock bitching, if I were to read Carrie's blog, I think it would be something like eM's. (I love both their unapologetic Cool Catness, but they both no Pathbreakers, if that's what are being made out to be). But New York, Bombay or Delhi, neither Carrie nor eM are pathbreakingly feminist, or are writing sexcapades. For all her blowjob manuals, eM has never vividly described a sexual experience, not dated a married man/boss/father-figure-type-person/cradle-snatched/effectively-boyfriend-stolen...nothing about her sex life is terribly scandalous, for any single-in-the-big-city Indian woman. But, I repeat, identifiable boring and lonely Fridays make for fun reading. And zero scandal. Or titillation.

On the Feminising-Look-I'm-So-Rebellious coverage, she does sound like she thinks her drinking and partying is a big deal. (Read the About me Section, and you'll know what I am talking about) I can't imagine an urbane, hip, belly-button-gazing, vagina-sure English-speaking Outlook journalist living any other way. She is as rebellious as her particular social milieu accepts of her. Obviously, her posts will scandalise green-card-fantasising-wannabe-cool Indian men, but the test is does she scandalise her own kind. My take would be NO, coz they're all living the same lives.

That said, she remains a cute,funny girl-on-the-web. By no means scandalous, rebellious or pathbreaking. I look forward to reading some breezy chicklit when her book is out.

October 5, 2007

Weekend Cleanup

Have finally gotten around to the long-pending Sort-Categorise-Update-Cleanup-doVirusscan drill inside my brain. Like I do with office-desks, when random printouts, keys, pens without caps, blah-important-person's cards, relevant printouts dogeared- pile up like a squatter settlement, that could otherwise a planned residential colony, with manicured trees, jogging tracks, basketball courts, swimming pools, shopping malls.

So I store information/thoughts/emotions/mindfuckingly brilliant analyses randomly, as and when it is created/fed into my brain in a Folder called Now. Categorisation, inventorisation, stocktaking happens at a later point. Sometimes it doesn't happen for a long stretch, and sometimes the Now folder gets overloaded, and some bits start talking to each other, quibbling, some brawls, and creating galata, and a red light blinks on the Now icon. Indicating that a SCUCV is required urgently.

So, the red has been blinking for a while now, and I have been ignoring it. And this is going to be SCUCV weekend. Check each file inside the Now Folder, delete if useless ( with reference to categories of life, work,daydream, people-who-matter, fashion, home, world politics, features, miscellaneous, cosmos). Check for files of future harm/debilitation potential- like irritating thought, petty comment from friend, funny brain-image of pimple-on-nose causing weird issues with the mirror. These are to be erased from Recycle Bin.

From what is left, check to see what corresponds to already existing folders- Friends, Family, Experiences with Opposite Sex, Sex, Delhi, Cal, Bangalore, Fiction, Non-fiction, Real, Imaginary, Cosmos, Daydream, Food, Books, Home, Aesthetics, Survival Skills, Being Unangsty Feminist, Being Angsty Feminist, Hot Men, Interesting People. Shift accordingly. From what remains, check for what can be clubbed together and put in a new folder. Possibly be named Things You Shall Never Do Again, Things You Have Enjoyed Thoroughly At Some Point But Now Find Terribly Boring, People Who Talk Too Much, Women Who You Don't Get, People Who You Find Inexplicably Attractive. Create such folders as may be deemed appropriate. Shift Files.

Remember: Sometimes things would require multiple copies to be stored in different folders. In which case, label such files ith names of folders where they are saved in multiplicity. To facilitate easy dig-up-old-stuff drills in future.

As a consequence, the Now Folder becomes empty, looks spotlessly clean (like hotel lobby floors), and you work it again from Monday morning.

October 3, 2007

Season-change post

Something about the first nip in the air. Makes you imagine grey evenings when they are not yet grey. Smokes out of cigarette, DTC buses start smelling as though a firecracker just went out across the street. Full-sleeve kurtas are pulled out from the bottom of the pile. Razais are folded and kept ready at the foot of the bed.

As much as I turn up my bongsnob-nose at South Dilli, last winter, I must admit, I almost fell in love with the city. And with the moongphaliwalas lining the sidewalks of the city. There was a day in January, that I couldn't turn the page of an ice-cold file. I had never seen knee-length coats in pinks and yellows. And I had never known there were heaters in cars. In India. And had never imagined the weight of three blankets together. Just as I had never imagined that drinking and card-games were an essential part of a Hindu festival. At least its North-Indian version.

Delhi winters are charming. Somewhat like the city when it's not trying to assert conclusively its invincible makkhismo. Somewhat like a burly sardar cab-driver when he smiles ruefully and talks about his dead daughter.