Monthly Archives: April 2009

>Toilet Training for an entire Nation!

>Warning: Icky post ahead

Don’t crap the idea! If there’s one reputation that Indians never fail to live up to, it’s of having very, very poor toilet etiquette. None of us are strangers to the ignonimous ways of our fellow countrymen in the toilet, but you have to hear this to believe it:

Sunday evening, I was at the mall with The Guy and had the misfortune of going to the washroom there. It’s pretty easy to locate a public toilet in India – just follow the putrid stink and you won’t be lost. Anyway, so I held my breath and thankfully, entered a relatively empty and visibly clean Ladies’ Washroom. I don’t want to go into the details of how and when, but I realised that in the cubicle next to the one that I was occupying, a woman had just squatted on the floor to pee! No, that’s not torture enough.

I had hurriedly pulled up my pants and whatever else needed to be pulled up and pulled down to rush out, but not before the woman next door discovered the faucet hose and did something so strange with it that the water from the faucet was being directed not where it was supposed to be but at the ceiling! And much to my indignation, the water hit the ceiling and came down in my cubicle like a shower that I barely escaped!

By then, I was out of the cubicle and yelling at whoever it was in such experimental mode in the other cubicle! A very sheepish looking woman in her 60’s (I’m guessing) dared to come out and had to face a very angry me! But I don’t think age is any reason to behave so bizarrely. If you think you’re fit enough to be gallivanting in a mall, you need to make yourself fit enough to be using a loo there. Also, I know for a fact that bad toilet etiquette in our country cuts across all class, age and sex barriers.

If you don’t know what to do with what’s commonly known in India as the western style W/C, get a better hold on your bladder instead of squatting in any space behind a door. Also, if you think the W/C can be hopped on to be used Indian style, you so badly need to learn self control.

I know a lot of people who do not flush after using a public toilet because they can’t bring themselves to touch the flush that’s been used by God-knows-how many dirty hands. But I do not understand a concept of personal hygiene that’s so unhygienic for others.

Like I said, we can’t crap the idea of a toilet training for an entire nation. If we need to begin at 62, why not?

PS: For those of you who wanted to see my birthday pics, go here.

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>I don’t blame you God…

>…For the way my life has shaped up.

I have always shied away from writing about my religion or philosophy because I think I have none. I’m a child of the chaos that surrounds me: I believe in the rationale of science but I also believe in things that are beyond any rationale. I believe in karma, but I’m not sure I know how to distinguish between retribution for my actions in this life or the past.

I live by only one tenet: my faith in God. My God exists outside of my religion. He does not judge me if I eat non-vegetarian food or if I do not light a diya before him in the morning. He does not punish me if I do not fast, if I do not visit a temple or if I do not know the Hanuman Chalisa by heart. When I err, I confess to him and he forgives me if I ask him to.

And I, in turn, never blame God for what seems to be going wrong with my life. I never doubt he has my best interests in mind even when he takes something away from me. I cannot ask him for anything because I think he’s given me so much and he knows what I want. I do not think he gives us a tough time because he wants us to suffer but because he wants us to remember what we may have forgotten.

It helps me tide over the worst times because I know there’s someone looking out for me. If that makes life happier for me, why should I spend agonising hours doubting whether he exists or not? And why should I wonder if God exists in human form or as an intangible energy in the universe? It doesn’t matter to me at all.

My God loves me and I love him back. What’s your God like?

On an aside: I talk of God as “He” primarily because of conditioning but I don’t really care for gender issues there either.

>Since you didn’t wish me on the 18th, wish me happy birthday now!

>If age is inversely proportional to the fun you can have on your birthdays, I don’t mind growing old.

As far as I can think back, this is the best birthday I’ve had. I generally like to keep my birthdays low key – just celebrate the day with my close friends and family. But having done that year after year and always feeling a little disappointed with the day, I decided to go all out and have a bash! Probably because the day became so much more about the party and less about my birthday, I was able to have a really good time.

But I can’t gloss over the details if I want to tell you about all the fun I had. My day was simple enough – I spent the whole of it receiving birthday wishes from friends and family who were calling me from all over the world! I can’t think of anybody whom I expected to call me but who didn’t. A party was planned at my place in the evening for about 60 people. And since I’m such a sucker for doing things differently, I had decided on a theme party for my birthday: a red carpet Awards Night!

And if you’re doing a theme party, you might as well go the whole hog, I think. So we did have a red carpet welcome for our guests with follow lights, fake paparazzi flashing bulbs into the fake celebs’ eyes, a music band, wine and shine! My friends – N and M – played the part of the hosts for the evening (as in hosts of the Awards function) asking guests questions about who they thought would be getting an award tonight, if they were expecting one or things like who they were wearing for the awards!

And then came the Awards – cheeky, outrageous, funny, wicked! We couldn’t possibly have awarded all the guests, so we chose about 15 most sporting people on the guest list and decided to pull their leg by honoring them for something that they wouldn’t ever imagine being honored for. So for a really flirty bachelor, the award was ‘For hitting even on a female mannequin’. Another one for a cricket crazy friend was ‘Most likely to sleep with balls and a bat!’ There were more wicked awards that elicited a lot of laughs but whose humour would be lost on people who don’t know the recipients of the awards. T did a great job at being the emcee for the evening, peppering the show with her witty one-liners.

Let it suffice to say that everybody loved the concept and took it very sportingly. As asked of them, the guests turned up in their glam avatars. The women in gowns and dresses, the men in glares and jackets. The Guy himself braved the heat to wear a tux! Thank God for the good weather without which he would have probably melted in his clothes.

Yours truly wore a black and white one-shouldered gown and, at the risk of sounding totally immodest, looked quite the show-stopper the birthday girl should look! And having said that, I think I truly deserved the award that was sprung on me by my friends as a surprise – a sash and a crown for being ‘Mis-conception’ for having all the misconceptions in the world about myself. And if that doesn’t impress you, you should hear what The Guy was awarded for: ‘The Lifetime Achievement Award for marrying D’!

The award ceremony was followed by drinks, dancing and dinner in somewhat that order. Totally taken in by all the compliments and by the love of my friends, I can safely say I had a great time on my birthday. Some things that made it special-er for me were:

  • How my friend V, the bahu of a very conservative Marwari family, decided to give me the shock of my life by turning up in a black evening dress! She could have easily come draped in a saree, as she always does. But I felt so special that she’d dared to break out of the mould on my birthday. Muah to her!
  • I called up Mandy and his wife H about two days before my birthday asking them to fly down from Gurgaon for the weekend. They gave me such genuine excuses for not being able to make it that their appearance was a jaw-dropping kind of surprise for me. On the 17th, I was at a friend’s birthday party and just about a little past 12, Mandy and H turned up there! It was super exciting!
  • KP and M dropped in early morning (9 am is early morning for me) to wish me a happy birthday over breakfast. It was such a pleasant surprise!
  • The band I’d booked for the evening was the best I could arrange. But they had a limited repertoire of songs so I had asked them to make necessary arrangements for me if I wanted to attach an iPod to the sound system. But when the time came to switch to our favourite song list on the iPod, we realised they didn’t have the provision to attach the iPod. Thanks to Am and Soo’s ingenuity, we managed to somehow get the music playing. I was so thankful that they were so resourceful and made my party go on till 4 in the morning because of the great music they played.
  • Of course, without M, T and N’s help we couldn’t have managed to pull of the show. Love ’em for being such creatively helpful friends!
  • The Guy was such a great host, it made it so easy for me to forget that I was entertaining friends at a place. Thanks to him, I was able to drink till I was drunk, dance till I was done!

I could go on forever about the celebrations, but I hope I’ll very soon have pics to do more talking!

>13, they say, is lucky for some

>I’ve spent the last 13 years loving you. As a friend, as a lover, as a husband.

I loved the gawky teenager that I met 13 years ago and I love the man whose first grey hair makes my heart flip. I love his li’l paunch just as much as I loved his bones when they were pressed against me. I loved him when I thought he loved me more than I could love him and I love him more now than he can ever love me.

It’s just a very warm feeling to see the boy you love grow up into a man and to grow up with him from a baby-fat-faced girl into a woman.

This one is for you, My Love, and to the years we’ve spent together.

>When we can’t blog…

>We scribble. Anywhere. Inside magazines if we can’t find any place better. On my 6-hour train journey from Lucknow to Benaras, here’s the use I put my pen to. Not all of it is legible, but if you click on the pics, you’ll get a better view.

>The apologetic feminist…

>…Is what I’m not going to be.

Yes, I have a problem with the way the patriarchal system works. If that makes me a feminist, I’m proud to be one.

I also have a problem with the way patriarchs talk. If that makes me a rebel in the family, I’m not ashamed to be one.

I spend eight hours at work everyday. I have an opinion that’s as sane if not more than what others have to offer, I think, I have a brain that can work beyond the aesthetics of a pretty home or the nuances of kitchen politics. And despite that I’m not a man’s equal (?) I do not do any of that to equal anyone, but I expect equal treatment because I’m an equal person. And it hurts to be treated “only as a woman”.

I do not understand why I must not be part of discussions on home finances, why my name must not be put on the nameplate outside the house along with the names of all the men. I do not understand why you must not look me in the eye when you speak to me. I do not understand the way your brain sees me…

Is it because I’m a woman?

A woman who stands by her husband, but should never be seen standing as tall as him.
A woman who acts tough but must learn to treat herself as a pretty mantel piece displayed when it suits the place.
A woman who can make decisions but must never be credited for them.

Why must I be made to feel ashamed for living my life the way you do? If my independence unsettles your patriarchal seat, should I be apologetic for it?