Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Lectures have started in full swing and till now it has been very enjoyable, what with us studying Film and Pop Culture. Both are very interesting but I might show a slight leaning towards Pop Culture as it deals with (as the name suggests) what is popular with the public. It also deals with the mentality of society and therefore their likings and dis likings. It also deals with my favourite topic - stereotypes!

Pop Culture talks about how our advertisements and films have put things in our minds which we start believing without questioning. For instance, our films and especially our TV soaps put into our minds the status that should be accorded to women, which most of the times is digressive and backward.

But I was very happy to find out that this is changing a bit at least on TV. There's this new soap running on Sony - Ladies Special. There was this particular scene that they showed yesterday on the soap which ran into today's episode too. I'll now tell you in short what the scene was about.

The mother is with her daughter waiting on the platform for the train to arrive. The daughter is wearing a top and skirt. Some hooligans start teasing her with one even going to the extent of bending down to see under the skirt. The mom notices this and starts hollering but no one comes forward to help her. She tries to get the police who reluctantly comes with her. During this time all the hooligans have run away and even the eye witnesses deny seeing anyone or anything happening. The havaldar too says that one usually can't do anything about such things. (Talk about realistic situations!)

Anyway the next day, the mother decides to take her daughter for shopping again! (Ok, this was one stereotype that took place in the soap. How come all girls like shopping?) The daughter wears a full length kurta that covers her legs entirely. Her mom replies by asking why has she not worn her favourite clothes and the daughter gives the reason that after what happened the previous day she wanted to avoid an encore. But her mom tells her something that I'll remember for ages to come: No one can teach us or tell us what is right or what is wrong. And then she explained to her that giving away your identity just for some stupid idiots, was foolish. For once a girl in our Indian soaps wasn't criticised for wearing Western clothes. Not surprisingly, this soap isn't a K serial!

This soap can herald about a change in society because as Pop Culture shows, society always tends to follow whatever happens in soaps or films or books. I also think that this is a fitting reply to the stupidity that took place a few days back in Madhya Pradesh where a college banned girls from wearing T-shirts and jeans because they thought that it will help in curbing harassment. What I don't understand is, why don't they do something to stop boys from harassing the girls rather than placing restrictions upon the girls?

And as for the sari, burqa or salwar kameez being more protective against ill-mannered elements in society, the argument doesn't carry weight. Most of the girls who get molested or raped are most of the time wearing the Indian clothes I've mentioned above rather than the Western imports. And anyway a man hell-bent on raping a lady will do so irrespective of whether she's covered from head-to-toe or wearing a swimsuit.

I'm obviously pleased to see soaps like this. Hopefully our K serials will also learn something and show something wiser the next time. I know its difficult to do away with stereotypes but an effort can always be made to erase the marks left on society by these 4th century BC beliefs.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Coincidences Galore!!!

Of all things in the world that are puzzling, mind boggling, etc., etc., coincidences stump me the most. Coincidences happen too much with me. Like today when i went to Bandra with my friends (who were almost an hour late), I saw a classmate with her friend at McDonald's when she told me she was going to her ex-college for some work, I'm assuming she finished her work and then was having a swell time with her friend.

Well coincidences always seem to follow me wherever I go. Its like my tail. Even now as I'm writing this, I'm chatting with my friend and she tells me that she's about to meet her friends tomorrow too, and that too at Bandra! Strange!

Even last year when I went with my parish friends to the annual Bandra Fair. It was a Wednesday. (Pun unintended, although its as terrifying!) So I never did expect what would happen eventually. I came across few people whom I knew but was not on talking terms to then. I was surprised! Why had they bunked college on that day itself to visit the Fair. There were like, six other days in the week! It was the nth number of time I was coming face to face with that group, especially when I try so much to avoid them, especially one particular girl in the group.

Actually now I feel that its not coincidences which are following me but its me who is following coincidences, especially by going to Bandra every time!

Anyway, I feel that coincidences occur because the world has indeed become a small place, we know so many people from so many different places that sometimes you might meet people at random places and it may not surprise you at all.

Anyway, I met a few of my friends today (as I mentioned above.) It had been a particularly long time since I met them, so I was very excited. We went to McDonald's - our usual spot! And then when we saw that it was drizzling slightly and the weather was cool, we decided to go to Bandstand. Then wonder of wonders, by the time we reach bandstand, it is blazing hot and we were being fried! We were sweating profusely. I was wondering how the various couples there were making out in all the heat! They must be sweating even more. One particular couple was very smart, they brought an umbrella along with them and were making out... How many umbrellas can one handle at a time! (I know that's gross, but that's the way I am! A total social embarrassment!) Under my umbrella...

By the way, since we're talking about umbrellas, I'll end this post on that note. I've noticed on the road side many hawkers have started selling umbrellas. Obviously because its the rainy season! But I've noticed that the prices of the long umbrellas is more than the smaller ones. Coincidence, or what?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Vacation Diary

College was supposed to begin on 11th for me, but apparently in a teacher's meeting held in college, the principal actually forgot about his promise to start college on that day. So therefore, college begins tomorrow now and that makes today's day, officially, the last day of the vacations for me. I've been really busy during these vacations, the most I've been in recent memory. Therefore in this post, I would like to point out few things I've not done before or some things I did again (and I still enjoyed the same as the first time!)

1. I got selected for the CEP program in college. I'm not telling you what it was except that we had lots of sessions on various occupations, work skills and life skills. There was an unforgettable camp too! Prof. Sudhakar turned out to be an invaluable guide, not only to me but to everyone in CEP. I still remember those hectic yet enjoyable four weeks!

2. In the camp I wrote a script for a small skit that our group put up. I'd like to thank everyone from my group, The Explorers, who helped me while writing it and who had brilliant ideas. Also thanks to all my group members for listening and actually using my weird ideas. I was surprised that they were so receptive.

3. I wrote poems. Well, I just started a few months back so I was glad to write more. I also wrote a song which went on to become the CEP theme song. Thanks to Bonhoffer for composing a tune for it. And to Sarah, Shweta & Munira who sang along with both of us.

4. I got a job. Actually I landed an internship at DNA due to CEP. Thanks to the efforts taken by my teachers, Ms. Vinita and Mrs. Uchil. Also thanks to all the people who helped me while working there. And I owe a lot to Julie, you kept me sane there. And Arlene, you too were no less, though I rarely met you there.

5. I created a fake profile on Orkut. Eventually I also took over my friend's fake profile and ran it for few days. We were caught after a few days, but shameless that I am, I was still denying it was me though the whole town knew it.

6. I learnt to say no to a few people (whom I don't like.)

7. I finally read Jeffrey Archer's novel Kane and Abel. Man! I'm inspired. I want to write a book like that one day.

8. I started blogging - the results of which can be seen here.

9. I watched many movies. I even watched Kal Ho Naa Ho again for the nth number of time. And I still enjoyed it as much as the first time. "Suno, Jiyo, Khush Raho, Muskuraho, Kya Pata, Kal Ho Naa Ho."

10. I performed a mujra. This happened in the aforementioned skit. Thanks to my group members again for pushing me to do it and to Henson - if he hadn't done it, even I wouldn't have!

11. I managed to piss off my friends. Well there's nothing new in that. Just that, this time I took it to a much higher level and they were so pissed that they were not speaking to me for few days.

12. I managed to yet again not visit Goa. That's ten years since I've last been there. I'm ashamed to say that I'm a Goan!

Anyway that's my list. Not many significant things, but all are things I enjoyed. Thanks to the various people (and there are many of them) who made this vacation memorable. Now I look forward to the new academic year. Third Year Literature, here I come!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Red alert! Caught red-handed!

Phtoo! Red is the colour of the season. Actually not just the season, but at all times. And I'm not talking about the Valentine's Day celebrations or Rose Day. I'm talking about the shapeless stain of red that has engulfed every living and non-living thing in sight in India. The blessed PAAN!

Look around. Every thing's been touched up the 'lovely' colour. Your building, the bus stop, the railway station, the train, the bus. (Oh! That's already red?) The paan loving people haven't even spared hospitals. Actually I say we should colour everything red. At least that way the paan won't be that visible. To woe is India!

I don't know when Indians will understand the importance of keeping the surroundings clean. There should be some sense of shame when they do it. But if you point out to them, they'll ask you, "Tere baap ka rasta hain kya?" (Is it your father's road?) No it isn't. But neither is it your father's! Well technically it is my mother's road as India is supposed to be our motherland. I know that this is a weird and stupid connection but it makes sense to me. So how would you feel if I spit in your house or only on the outer walls of your house?

When I was in school, my professor once told me about his trip to London. Everyone knows that London has a large migrant population of Indians settling there. He told the class about how London was one of the most cleanest cities in the world. Well that was until he visited the Indian settlement in London. (Ya, the Indians have actually created their own settlement in London in one corner!) London suddenly crumbled before his eyes, just like the London Bridge. The settlement was covered in red due to paan stains. He suddenly was reminded of India. I know that old habits die hard, but this was an insult to Indians! And they say Slumdog Millionaire was an insult to us because it showed the slums and the abject poverty condition in India!

I was chatting with a friend of mine who is currently in Auckland. (Yes the same friend I mentioned in the previous blog!) And even he told me his personal experience. He was travelling by the bus and an Indian lady who was sitting in front of him spat out the window. You don't care about your own reputation, I'm perfectly alright with it, but please don't mess around with the 1.3 billion population's reputation.

So hopefully someone will knock some sense into the head of people who constantly spit around, without looking at the people around them! If you're wondering, yes, I have been spat upon by some idiots! And then they just run away without even apologizing! Morons!

And now I end with a small four line poem!

Splashed across is the colour red,
It fills my heart with dread.
Someone please put something in their heads,
Or soon there'll be something else on your bed that is red!

Friday, June 5, 2009

The two dreaded words a student hates to hear - LESS MARKS!

Hello there! The HSC results were out yesterday and Bombay suffered a big fall in its pass percentage! Not only that but I've seen a lot of eyes crying out in fear of parents and read a lot in the news about suicides. Regular right? Why? Why is it regular?

I don't understand one thing! When results are about to be declared, I read all over the papers about people saying that "Marks are not everything." , "There's life after failing." , etc. But doesn't this thing go into the heads of our educational ministers and principals and our so called 'reformers'?

Why is our educational system so marks oriented? "I have to get 90% or I won't get admission in a good college." Whatever happened to sheer talent and skill?

I was happy a few months back when St. Xavier's college announced that it has got the go-ahead for autonomy. For those not in the know, Autonomy implies that a college can choose its own portion and studies while at the same time students can choose subjects from different streams. So that means I could have chosen Literature, Psychology and Chemistry altogether.

But almost a year has passed and there's still no sight of autonomy.

Our schools also are so rigid about few things. For instance it is compulsory to study 3 languages till our 10th standard and then 2 languages till 12th. What about people who don't have a flair for languages? I spoke to my friend who is in Auckland right now. He tells e that his brother was allowed to leave his Science subject in the 7th grade itself just because he didn't have an interest in it. He could instead study only those subjects he liked.

In our country, only ICSE and CBSE boards allow for such freedom, although its not on the same scale. Hopefully our administrators will pay heed to the pleas of students (and psychologists and psychiatrists in the newspapers alike) and provide some flexibility.

After all marks are not everything. If it were we wouldn't have the bulb under which we usually study hard to pass the exams!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Alas! Rafael Falls!

He's fallen! Finally! Rafael Nadal, the indisputable 'King of Clay' has finally been defeated on his 'home' turf. My heart cries out for him.

Nadal along with his rival Roger Federer have been responsible for some of the best fought matches in tennis ever. Their match in the finals at Wimbledon last year was hailed as one of the best. They have single-handedly been the reason that tennis has been brought out of its popularity crisis due to waning interest. That is why I was eagerly awaiting the finale of Roland Garros this year. Not only because it could've been a record fifth consecutive win for Nadal but it also could have been (and now there's a strong chance of it happening) a Career Grand Slam for Federer - something that has been very elusive for Federer.

Unfortunately there won't be any nail-biting Nadal-Federer match this time around on the clay court. The French open (for me at least) has fizzled out. But I'm still hoping Federer won't win. Sadly, even Novak 'Djoker' Djokovic was out of the Open a couple of days back. Now my hopes are pinned on Fernando 'Speedy' Gonzalez. Or you never know what more havoc Robin Soderling might cause now!

But does this defeat mean the end of Nadal's dominance on clay? After all this is his second defeat on clay in two consecutive tournaments within a couple of weeks of each other. I would say no! Instead I feel that Nadal just let his guard down both the times. And anyway for Roger, the more times he plays Nadal, the more he'll be able to sort out his playing style. Didn't the same happen to the Fed-Express on grass? Nadal still has a long way to go. In Nadal's own words: It's not a tragedy. I had to lose one day. Wise words from a terrific player. And he still has to complete a Career Grand Slam with just the US Open awaiting him. Hopefully there won't be any spoilsports at Wimbledon and both champions will display their best wares out there and we shall get to see another enthralling finale.

And what's with Nadal losing out to lesser known players on the circuit at major Slams? He lost to Mikhail Youzhny at the 2006 US Open, to unseeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the 2008 Australian Open, and now in the 2009 French Open to Robin Soderling. Something to chew upon...