Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Singled Out

Rainy days and leafless trees
Silhouetted birds in grey frame freeze
A random city crossing from a car window
At a red light pause in life.

Today I am a wife.

Yesterday I was single
And pain had this grey blue touch.
Today, it gets too much.

Sad songs and rain songs and staring out of windows
Needs a solitude of sorts.

The hurt and pain
And the entire bargain
Within the dark framework of twosomeness
No longer retains the rainy day quality

Of a sad day of those single years.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Misery Mapping

"Why do you girls keep talking about us men?" Asked my husband once. There was exasperation there, and let's face it, some degree of condescension, maybe a dash of arrogance.

"I mean, you are perfectly emancipated, perfectly self aware, perfectly liberated, thinking, randomly talented, myriadly gifted, world-view oriented, financially independent career women. So why do even women like you talk, if not only, then largely, about us men?"

I stayed with that question a long time, and it actually brought about behavioral changes. Best friend and I actually did stop discussing men and discovered we had many other things to talk about. That was good.

BUT. The fact remains, we do talk about men. And apart from it being weak and demeaning and needy and dependent and a pile of horseshit, it's also great therapy. I tried to figure for months why perfectly intelligent, perfectly world-aware blah blah women keep swapping notes on men and their behaviour and their actions. And it's not because we are deeply caring in our sisterhood bond and it's neither because we are heartless bitches dying for a slice of gossip.

The truth lies somewhere midway. I call it Misery Mapping.

It may be an ego trip, it may be an empathy moment. It may be an epiphany or it may be a superiority complex. Where our minds and our psyche fits into the mapping varies from woman to woman and conversation to conversation. Sometimes, your man is so crap you make me feel good about mine. Sometimes your man is so similar to mine that I realise my situation is not so unique. Sometimes your man is so much better than mine that you help me make up my mind.

Misery Mapping is like a home grown remedy to a common cold. Its not always accurate, its not entirely scientific, it often takes much longer than medication would, but guess what. Its often effective.

Yes, I agree. Women should not spend all their time talking about men. But Misery Mapping achieves a few things men don't benefit from, because they don't do it.

Because its cathartic, becuase it behaves like the safety valve of a pressure cooker, it prevents us from drinking and beating you up. It prevents us from chasing hot things in tight clothes the moment our belly expands and our jaw line sags. It prevents us from leaving your committment and loyalty of several decades to go chasing after a younger, flimsier dream. It prevents us from giving in to the infantile need of turning every emotional moment into a joke. And it prevents us from bursting out one fine day into cholestrol and heart attack and high blood pressure and hyper tension and dying in your arms leaving you to pick up your pieces.

Simply because we rely on this supremely non-intellectual, home grown remedy called Misery Mapping.

We talk about you. We discuss you. We dissect you. We analyse you. So that you don't kill us. Our insides, our values, our emotional integrity, our fidelity.

Of course we also do all those other things that are considered typically 'male'. We cheat, we lie, we sleep around, we abandon, we are cruel, we leave, we forget, we ditch, we inflict hurt, we humiliate, we forget. This is not a piece about making women out to be angels and men to be devils.

It's simply a relatively straightforward point. Misery Mapping - whoever should chose to do it -gives the participants a context and a rooting into their own lives. And allows conversation to achieve what would otherwise only get achieved with a lot of dangerous action.

Its Lipstick Therapy. Part II

Midday Lipstick

What do men do for Midday Lipstick, I wondered to myself, as I applied those reassuring strokes of confidence and self worth, bang in the middle of the day, just as your overall sense of self seems to be wilting, with pending mail, unattended tasks, unanswered phone calls and undone to-do lists.

Midday Lipstick is a good thing. In fact, it's a great thing. It's sort of this moisturising, plumping, rejuvinating, glossing, shining, re-attractivising feature of a working woman's day. And its highly therapeutic. Especially when you've bought in a new shade, or a new variant of gloss.

It sort of builds you back up from the ashes of a dull day.

Mid day deo is in the same genre, but unless you're really stinky, it doesn't quite have as dramatic an impact.

What do guys do? Honestly. I'd love to know. Felt damn bad for them today, because they don't have midday lipstick in their lives.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Jaipur Blasts, 7:30p.m. IST

Isko koi chalna sikhao bhai, ye kaisi ajeeb si chaal hai

Ye do kadam aagey leta hai, to paanch kadam peechhe!
Ye aasmaan ko chhookaar bhi girta hai neeche.

Kahin karodon mein khelne waale vyaapaari
To kahin bhook ki mahaamaari

Sau karod ki abaadi mein
Kitne karod ki barbaadi

Yahan ummeed pe bhor hoti hai, to aatank mein sooraj dhalta hai
Aakhir ye desh chalega kaise, yahan to sab kuchh chalta hai


Soulmate was formed about five years ago. The band consists of blues-guitar player, songwriter and singer, Rudy Wallang and Vocalist Tipriti ‘TIPS’ Kharbangar who also plays rhythm guitar,Ferdy Dkhar on Bass Guitar and Sam Shullai on Drums. They all come from Shillong, Meghalaya which is one of the North-Eastern hill states of India.

Lou Majaw (b. 1947) is a Khasi guitarist popularly known as the "One of the Biggest Fans of Bob Dylan in the North-East [India]". Born to a poor family, the Majaws could not afford a guitar or a radio. In a friend's house he was introduced to the music of Bill Haley and Elvis Presley, and taught himself the guitar in school. Majaw then moved on to Kolkata where he played in bars and pubs for various groups such as the Dynamite Boys, Vanguards, Supersound Factory, and Blood and Thunder. In 1966, Lou was introduced to Bob Dylan's work. Inspired by his music, he later organized a "Dylan's birthday concert" in Shillong May 24, 1972. Since then he has organized the concert each year on 24th May to pay obeissance to Dylan, with the shows eventually gaining national and international fame.

Do you care? No?

I thought as much.

I would never have heard of either Soulmate or of Lou Majaw had it not been for an over enthusiastic, irritatingly in-your-face restro-bar in Vasant Vihar called The Haze. The owner, called Kiron Somebody-or-the-other, is obviously from Shillong himself, and has taken it upon himself to promote all the artists of his idyllic home town, single handedly.

And if that means spamming the brains out of poor unsuspecting folk like me, so be it.

Worse still, if after getting the 89623rd sms that you're not interested in, you call him up very politely and ask him to remove your number from his mass sms list, he says he will take care of it, but does nothing.

Eventually, you get fed up and ask your lawyer friend to give him a stern call and warn him about being a public nuisance.

He roundly abuses your friend, and then calls you up and abuses you. For sending you smses that you never wanted in the first place. Wow. Now that REALLY makes sense.

I guess Soulmate makes decent music. I'm sure Lou Majaw is a great man. But forgive me, I am a philistine. I like Dil Haara from Tashan and Pretty Woman on my DVD. And if I wanted a crash course in Blues music, there is noone better to teach me than my husband.

Sigh. Why do establishments, organisations, institutions and such like, send these irritating, pissing off, get on your nerves spam smses? And then act tough about them? I don't want to know about your festivals, your artists, your menus, your special discounts, your performances, your product enhancements and your new improved anythings. I don't care. And your smses are the one sure shot guarantee of you not getting any business from me. Not now. Not ever.

This is a larger deeper malaise. As the world gets more isolated, more cocooned, more wrapped up in its own selfish spaces, paradoxically the sense of privacy seems to be vanishing. This malaise spreads its tentacles through social networking sites, carries on through spam mails and smses, rears its ugly pathetic head through features like AdSense which everyone applauds.

Uff. I'm fed up. If, everytime I searched Poetry on an interesting literary site, I actually wanted to know about Poetry in Pottery, Poetry Foundation of India and Poetry Encyclopaedia at discounted rates, I'd HAVE ASKED FOR THAT. Your ads may make sense to you Mr. Google, they DO NOT to me. When I am searching for poetry, I only want to read beautiful resonanting poetry to get away from this very clever world you've woven. Not because I want Poetry in Pottery.

Somebody tell google that inspite of their great work, it doesn't all make sense. Somebody tell Shopper's Stop that if I want to shop on Mother's Day I'll go there and shop. I don't need an email telling me that I must. Somebody tell these 5000 teleshopping networks that when I want to make strong abs, I work out. I don't buy shitty belts with vibrating batteries. Somebody tell the entire advertising and marketing community, that advertisements on TV, radio and print are clean, ads are straight, ads are good, and when required, I respond to them. This new virus called 'personal touch' is neither personal, nor touching, its in fact bloody irritating.

Somebody tell Kiron something-or-the-other that he's an irritating oaf.

Or hang on a second. Maybe I can just send him an sms.