Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Cultural Consciousness.


Yesterday I was talking to a friend and bemoaning our mutual inability to make true conversation. We were discussing how all our conversation has become about things we read or see instead of being centred around people and daily happenings of our lives. By the end of that conversation, I was acutely aware of how I have tried to mask the actual paucity of activity in my life by distracting the humans I attempt to engage sporadically with by discussing cultural trivia - if my scanty knowledge of movies and books may be termed as such. 

While it is disturbing how a lover of gossip such as I has been transformed into that annoying friend whose only attempt towards making connections is talking about things others thought of, I have tried to rationalize the effect that globalization and internet access has had on me. So I spent my twenties watching things on the internet via piracy. Big deal. It distracted me long enough to forget the mind numbing monologue of boredom always on and ever present in my mind. 

Of course, this making-peace-with-myself rationalization is problematized when I come across channels on youtube where people have taken this magpie like obsession of collecting pop culture references to the highest levels of intellectual thought and creative research. When my inflated sense of self clashes with the well constructed world of true passionate cultural nosediving, I am forced to face the waste that I have become. The smallness and paleness of my 'hobby' in the face of actual effort constantly reminds me how pathetic my existence really is.

Why go on then ? Why continue to watch and read and keep trying so hard ? Honestly, most days I do look for an out. But not today ! While I was taking a bath some minutes ago, I was remembering the episode of Masterchef I had watched in the morning and somehow I fixated on the jelly that this one contestant had forgotten to add to the final dish. By the time I made my way back to my table, jelly was on my mind and four distinct references to jelly came to me- the first was of course, the troubles of poor Meg March (from Little Women ) whose jelly just wouldn't jell and the great dashing of her housekeeping dreams and the cruel inability of her husband to sympathize with her woes; the second, was remembering Manto's amazing short story about the child who gestures to the road where the iceman lay dead, on whose bloody body the melting ice from the cart had continued to drip on, resulting in a red coagulation on the road. This coagulation is what attracted the child who points it out to his mother and exclaims "look ma, jelly !" ; the third was of course, the very funny Office gag of putting Dwight's/Gareth's  stapler in a bowl of jello/jelly; then there was the entire gamut of 'shake your belly like a bowl full of jelly' including but not limited to Chandler's Santa Clause; finally, as I finished writing this, I remembered Rosesh Sarabhai (who has been on my mind due the the return of the Sarabhais on TV) and the 'lapull - lapull' and 'plup-plup' of jelly. I could write an entire piece on the different situations conveyed via the use of 'jelly' to explain and engage a gamut of our sympathies and emotions. I feel rich in expression at the mere thought !

What purpose does this serve? Nothing truly worthwhile or original of course, BUT it does make me feel better about myself. I think that is the beauty of culture, you can find connections where none exist, and sometimes the ability to reach out and make these links, even while you take a bath, makes the loneliness of talking to yourself while in the bathroom far more interesting and bearable. 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Ma ke Masoom Sawal: Main Hairan aur Pareshan Dono.



My mother very poignantly with great feigned trepidation but much perverse curiosity asked me if I was 'sexually normal.' I wish I could say I was shocked at her audacity, but mostly I was just a little flabbergasted contemplating the missed opportunity for exercising my narcissism  because I had never sat down and evaluated my sexuality on the rigors of the deeply etched behavioral scale we all carry in our minds. I asked, if she was asking, whether I was a lesbian - she said 'no no ! I am asking, if you are, you know, normal' - curiouser and curiouser ! I laughed a breathy laugh, and told her that no I was not a lesbian and I have never really concentrated too much on the possibility or my desire for real, actual sex.

This is the funniest life anecdote I have gathered in a very long time. I look forward to building it up with funny interjections and laboured pauses to build it up to the dramatic crescendo I know it has the potential to reach. But for the larger part, I am genuinely shocked into the realisation that my sexlessness has reached a scale where my very Indian, very middle class mother is worried about my not getting any. I wonder what a colourful stereotype I must be in her mind - it would have been wonderful to be that complicated. In reality however, I just don't have it in me to take seriously this concept which is always so beautiful in fiction and so banal in the manner it happens in real life.

Or I will just ask my mother if she wants me to join Tinder. Where all idealism and belief systems lay dashed, my romantic notions may also meet their fateful demise. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Fragments

I have been wondering quite continuously for the last couple of years that should I rather invest my time in re-reading all that I have already read instead of reading anything new as my retention has become so superbly shitty. But then, the entire thing about variety comes up and I continue to read, piecemeal, forgetting what I just read before I have even had the time to move on. Sometimes, I remember some tiny piece of an idea, or plot device, often forgetting the book or even the characters involved. This ability of things to get so spectacularly smushed together in my memory, without any hope for clarity has been a cause of deep worry and anguish.

I have recently however, discovered the beauty of remembering something long forgotten and the joy of rediscovering it. It is almost a new experience, but tinged with nostalgia making it somehow deeper because you are simultaneously experiencing the same idea as two different people. It is a process of understanding yourself as much as it is about interpreting what you are reading or watching.

We used to have this Oxford reader through standards fifth to eighth and very often we were introduced to fragments of chapters of various books which we would then hunt down and read. Sometimes, the books were too advanced for us - I tried reading the unabridged version of Nicholas Nickleby at the age of 11 and it really put me off Dickens for a while. But it was also a way of reading books which we would probably have otherwise never picked up. Three Men in a Boat was one of those books and so was Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals.
I was watching Graham Norton and  Keely Hawes was talking about a show she was in. I didn't even catch the name of the show, but I was intrigued by the little video they played and after some googling I found out the show was called The Durrells. A faint memory of that  Oxford reader came back to me and all I remembered was that there was a boy who had housed a nesting spider/fly in a matchbox which had been upset and caused uproar. It is a lovely show and I am looking forward to the next season, but what was totally adorable was remembering how I had first reacted to the story thanking the stars that I did not have brothers and the general squeamishness caused in a class full of preteen girls all either recounting tales of horrid brothers or others responding with adequate horror with some badass future Arya Starks recounting their own delight in creepy crawlies. I have commenced re-reading the book and have found that it was a part of a trilogy, thanks to the modern marvels of the internet.

The moral of this long winded recollection being then, that while you have to embrace your own shortcomings as far as recollection and recall are concerned, sometimes, it is worth forgetting for a while if only to remember later at a more opportunate time.


Here's the trailer for The Durrells - it is a wonderful, quirky and funny programme and has given me a lot of ammo for a later piece on families that discuss things and precocious children. The trailer leaves a lot to be desired, but I wish that anyone who does read this, goes ahead and watches the show.

The Durrells


Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Tyranny of Social Pressure

This year is turning out to be remarkable in the extent to which I am becoming a version of myself that would be approved of by my mother. I am already so ordinary, middle class and safe in all my choices and expectations that it is difficult for anyone to conceive how I could possibly become more pliable.

It is the small stuff. Today after days of struggling with my terrible sleep cycle, I woke up in the morning and the joy that I felt cannot be described. I was busy humming to myself and feeling just right and this went on for a while before I realised how I have completely bought into the idea that my day would be 'more productive' were I to wake up earlier. Ugh. You'll never be Easy Rider Devika but at least you could have defied some social convention. Why don't you go for a run now and eat only non fat low carb foods ? Why don't you sell your soul and start singing BJP praises ?

I have never been more disappointed in myself. I will go and listen to the birds chirruping away madly. 

If Life were a Historical Romance

1.) The virgin female character would suddenly be assailed by extraordinary male attention, which is mostly respectful and though the entire social sphere has agreed that the virgin is not pretty, she has that special something which men like and women don't. Ladies in historical romances be bitchy y'all.

2.) Though the virgin lady is predominantly a virgin, she is the mould for quirky and she is often found roaming around wearing breeches. The breeches are important because her butt is always heart shaped and always produces both lust and territorial pissing contests within the male lead.

3.) As we have already established the virginity, it behooves one to understand that the female's sexual awakening is just around the corner and the moment she lies with the very experienced rake of a male lead, it is immediately the best sex of the man's life and he is transformed to monogamy forever.

4.) While the female is untouched and pure, and generally living in an asexual pastoral world, the man is always 'devilishly handsome' and 'sinfully experienced' and a 'rake' waiting to be reformed. He is also gifted at charming all women, but has a radar where he avoids the large-breasted truly evil bitch of London society. This endears him even more to the virgin, who appreciates his uncanny eye and true insight.

5.) The rake immediately renounces all previous sexual preferences and will always muse to himself in an internal monologue how the virgin's breasts are small but 'made to fit in his hands' and how during 'coupling' their 'bodies fit together.' All initial attempts at sex will end in this attentive rake satisfying the virgin and claiming that that was enough.

6.) One or the other of the leads is always rich and has access to money, power and is friends with someone who has all the social connections required. There are ample secondary characters who help this couple along the way and often reference their historical knowledge of the meant togetherness. These leads will eventually find their own orgasmic happy ever afters in sequels or prequels.

7.) There is always great albeit alterable conflict involving kidnapping, duelling, fighting and misplaced letters. The lead is never raped, and oftentimes will assist in her recovery because her quirkiness is desperately trying to establish her as anything other than a damsel, though she will often talk about the 'growling' tone of the rake when he talks to her.

8.) There is so much adorable fighting which always ends in kissing and no body ever remembers all the bad stuff that was said. Kissing causes amnesia.

9.) The couples always marry because something forced their hand but they secretly want it and though all they do is have sex (though never anal and while the rake goes down on the virgin a lot, the virgin despite her curiosity to 'please', never really has to give a blow job) , the virgin never dies in childbirth and everyone is super happy about the prospect of constant babies.

10.) The most important thing remains that while women are allowed to exist on a spectrum of beauty, the men are always handsome, sexually expedient and rich as well as wanting to save and be saved. They are faithful, infinitely attentive and blessed with insight though overzealously jealous - but it is okay, the virgin never assumes that his behavior might be abusive because she KNOWS he loves her. This is precisely why loss of her virginity will not hurt because you know LOVE.


Let no one doubt I did not do my research. 

Friday, March 31, 2017

Guilty Pleasures ?

Among the many useless, imaginary and absolutely pointless things I am emotionally invested in, Meredith Grey's happiness has to be the most irremediable of them. But I care so deeply ! I want you to make her happy Shonda Rhimes. How can such an absolutely terrible show devise such unique ways of pain and torture for my least favourite character I cannot imagine.

I am so ashamed of myself for caring. So unfair.  

Friday, March 24, 2017

Why I am afraid of men in religious garb

Because you should be afraid of them. There are enough instances to prove that all men, more so any man can be dangerous, as far as my identity as a woman is concerned. But combine that with religious fanatical certitude and you have yourself a bald, pugnacious rapist in the offing. Don't for a moment think my self assured zealots that fanatics ever stop at the first point of their agenda. They will come for us once all the minorities have been annhilated. So yes you elite upper class Brahmin ladies talking about how people just hate taking up the 'Hindu Cause', they will come for the freedom of your daughters. We all are situated somewhere, higher or lower in this pecking order of subjugation.



Monday, March 20, 2017

The Chronicles of Lady D

When Lady D was not yet 15, her esteemed father decided to uproot his family from their rustic but spacious house to a more urbane locale where his daughters might do better for themselves. Lady D had looked forward to this moment hoping that a young gentleman would respond to her arrival with a similar sentiment to Mrs Bennet's happy pronouncement of 'Netherfield Park being let at last.' Many a tale she wove imagining handsome young strapping men to make eyes at. Literature had taught her that her anomalous position would elevate her in the eyes of the neighbouring young boys by the sheer virtue of novelty.

How her heart broke when not only were there no handsome gentlemen of her age anywhere around her new residence, but the plague of a feminine antithesis as a close neighbour descended on her as well. Lady Ursula defied the banalities of her Disney defiled name by being the  most beautiful, sophisticated and ethereal form of teenage feminity.

This author can confirm that apart from that one moment of childish coquettishness when Lady D attempted to feign interest in a cute dog to court the favour of a handsome gent, there have never been any sightings of handsome men in that area. That particular phantom of handsomeness, Lady D reminisces was just that - a phantom. He was never seen again and neither was his dog who went by the most unoriginal moniker of 'Dash' for a dashound.

It seems quite plausible to understand given this dystopian novel level of the dashing of Lady D's hopes for feality that within six months of moving to her new house, her ovaries started their cycle of intermittent strikes.  Lady D's body, mind and soul were attempting to compensate the torrid war level lack of suitable young men. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

On Lena Dunham

I am continuously intrigued and repulsed by Lena Dunham.  When I read her book and watched Tiny Furniture, I could feel the angst and urgency that most wannabe writers attach to 'life experience'. As someone who harbored aspirations to write, I am acutely aware now that my rules and safety valves have left me with  no life experience that could in any way make my writing at least a little bit ingenuous. It is sad of course and I think despite my awareness of the mediocrity of my talent, I had always hoped that my blustering confidence would allow me to fool atleast myself of the said mediocrity. However, growing up is hard and the more you know the more aware you are of how much you are not. I wish I could go back to the days when I was floored by how amazing I was despite trite concepts and bad spelling errors and incorrect grammar. It seems that all that triteness was better when compared to this constant self-reflexive self-flagellation.

Coming back to Lena Dunham though, I have always regarded her stories of sex dreams about her father with a certain middle class cringe-worthiness. But most times, I am floored by the dialogues in Girls - especially the finale of the fifth season.  You must be naked (which Hannah is quite literally in the show, and very often too) to create something if not original at least insightful.

I wish we could murder propriety and morality in the crib, so that mediocre but ambitious girls like me are not thwarted by their own life experiences or lack thereof - not to say that I would have been brilliant or ingenious otherwise, but at least I could have actively pursued the dream and failed.