Can you speak your mother tongue?

kolaveri di dhanush Heard the latest rage on the web ‘Kolaveri Di’? What is the most endearing thing about a guy who can barely sing, crooning into a microphone, in the most ridiculous way? The best thing about the guy is that he is being himself. In an era where people are ashamed to refer to their ethnicity, here comes a guy who croons a different tune. No anglicized rap, mind you! Its pure old Tamil + English, now famously known as Tanglish.

I adore this guy for the fact that he gives a I care a damn attitude. There are scores of people, especially among the South Indian community who refuse to acknowledge the fact that they are South Indians!! They prefer to talk in English over their mother tongue and may even indulge in cheap name calling a Madrasi guy, just to look cool. This comes from my personal experience where I have come across people especially from South India. They proudly accept the fact that they do not know their mother tongue and are not very keen to learn it. But they are dying to learn a  foreign language. How ironical!!

May be they are ashamed of being labelled a ‘Madrasi’ which is again a moniker for the entire South Indian community. But why? I fail to understand the whole idea behind this. And the very same people wouldn’t mind having ‘Kolaveri Di’ on their playlist! Then there are fake accents and attitudes to deal with too, but that’s a different ball game altogether. I hate it when people tell me that ‘we eat, sleep and think in English first’, huh!! Really? Since when did English become our first language so much so that even our songs are filled with crappy English lyrics!

Today’s generation is a confused lot. They hate to speak their own language but wouldn’t mind wolfing down a idli dosa. They hate all the customs and traditions, yet wouldn’t mind going hungry for a day to please the gods. And i am not targetting the younger lot of today. I have seen the older generation do the same thing. People who have been brought up on morning prayers and devotional songs sung by M S Subbulakshmi now find it boring. Everyone must respect their mother tongue because it is the foundation of one’s culture and moral values.

You may love it or hate it, but the Kolaveri fever has definitely caught on! For a change, Tanglish sounds way stylish and entertaining than propah English.

Green Alert In Mumbai

 Last week after my usual shopping at one of the leading grocery /departmental stores, the guy at the counter held out a Say no to plasticplacard in front of me. It said ‘ Go green- Say no to plastic’. On my prodding, he carelessly announced that next time I come for shopping, I must get my own bags. I was pleasantly surprised and shocked that the  the government has issued a strict order to ban plastic bags and hence they wouldn’t be providing any, from now on.

On further probing, he took out a cloth bag, which was being sold for Rs 25. He meant that I could buy it in case i do not wish to get my bag. But still i could see the plastic bags on the counter beside him , although the huge ones were missing. Then he asked me “Madam, which ones- Rs 2 , Rs 3 or Rs 6?” I was flabbergasted and was trying to figure out what this chap was blabbering. First, the guys at the counters are not a very friendly lot. They just continue to stare at the computers even if a customer is trying to reason with him about the bill and it annoys me no end. Surprisingly, he took the pains of explaining it to me that different plastic bags of varied sizes were available but i would have to shell out the price mentioned above. Huh!!!

Now, the bags were small and couldn’t hold a months’ ration! This is a very clever initiative of earning money because obviously no one could ever stuff their buyings into a single polythene bag, thus you end up buying more bags.  What they could have done was at least give the large bags so that the number of bags could have been reduced.Plus, the practice of segregating the food items from the detergent doesn’t help in any way. What is the point in carrying ten bags when items can be accommodated in a single bag! I heard people in the queue grumbling about how this is a perfect ploy to earn more money and loot the middle class crowd. No one seemed happy that there would be less plastic choking our gutters … Sigh!

I was puzzled because in no way, are we eliminating the cause of pollution. Instead this has encouraged people to shell out money and thus end up feeding our store owner.  If a person shops for say Rs 5000, would he mind shelling out an extra 10 buck for plastic bags? No way, he wouldn’t because he thinks about the comfort factor rather than bringing huge cloth bags with him, every time he shops. The government must realize that people are ready to pay money and this is in no way a deterrent to end the plastic menace. I still remember, when there were no flashy malls with huge grocery stores,  my mom used to go to the local kirana wala  and place her request. The kiranawala would deliver the grocery at my doorstep but in a big cloth bag and leave. May be its time to go back to my old kiranawala guy and let go of the shopping malls which promote this crap! I hope the government wakes up before we are buried under this mess.

As someone rightly said- Modernization should not pave way for misery.

Walking in the rains…

I know, I know Mumbai rains are to die for! Everyone gushes about the lovely weather Mumbaiites get to enjoy during the monsoon. It is a huge respite from the sweltering heat and everyone looks forward to it with great pleasure. But things are changing and it is never like it used to be. The very fact that the infrastructure in Mumbai is falling apart doesn’t help the Mumbaikar in a great way. I have never found the rains, especially in Mumbai, to be an ear shrieking, jumping -with-joy affair. Definitely not after being stuck up in one of the biggest floods some years back. This is definitely not how I envision the rainy season: Walking in the rains

 This happens only in the movies!

All I can think of is this:

Rain-in-mumbai

When I was a kid, I hated the umbrella because it never served the purpose. I would trundle to school with a mighty umbrella so that I do not get drenched. The queue system in school ensured that the kids learn how to behave and wait patiently till the bell rings. However, the kid behind me would make sure that the raindrops trailing off his / her umbrella dripped right on to my head or my uniform’s sleeve. A fight would ensue and everyone tried their best to avoid each other’s umbrella. How I hated that!! Sitting all drenched in the classroom with four or five students packed on a bench was never fun. Ugh!

The uber cool rain boots (sigh) were even more pathetic. First, there were not much of color choices and designs to choose from like the ones we have today. There used to be solid colors like black or pink and I preferred black, don’t know why. The boots were high enough to make sure that my tiny nubile feet stay protected from the muddy waters. But alas, this never lasted for long.  The rains would fall in every angular direction and thus gain entry into my precious boots and I would cringe. The funny sound it made would guarantee giggles as soon as I entered the classroom. Not very lovely memories of the rain…

As time passed by, I got better equipped to tackle the rains. Travelling by local trains during the monsoon is no small feat. The worst part would be to stand still, patiently, in the crowded trains while getting doused with holy rain water or getting hit in the guts with a phoren-made umbrella. Young college girls with long ferrule umbrellas resembling walking sticks don’t make life easier. And the never-ending fights in the famed Mumbai locals add spice to the damp weather.

But sometimes I do feel like walking in the rains when the weather looks pleasant. I have tried that, really, only to be doused by muddy waters from passing vehicles. The large potholes on the roads filled with yuck do not fit well in the romantic monsoon scene. The gait which I adopt during the rains resembles a child walking on a tight rope. I have heard of so many incidents where people have fallen into open manholes because someone stole the manhole covers for hard cash…Oops! So much for walking in the rains.

Apart from the occasional waterfalls, treks and hikes which people love to go for, there is nothing awe striking about the rains in Mumbai. The hardships which one has to deal with almost wipes off any pleasure the rain has to offer.  I know many of us really love the monsoon and eagerly await this part of the year. We Mumbaiites are blessed with ample rainfall and should definitely make the best of it, but pray, tell me, can I ever get the pleasure of walking in the rain, without a hoot to care about…

The Fasting Fever

Every time I hear someone in my office talking about their ‘fasting day’ , I have a confused look written all over my face.  Especially when I see them gorging on biscuits which they claim can be eaten during ‘fasts’.  What was the idea behind staying hungry for an entire day, that too partially? My colleague whines that I  get the tastiest stuff for lunch while she is on a fast. :) Somehow, this has never gone down well with me, although I do respect other people’s opinions and their faith attached to ‘fasting’.  I never like the idea of holding the Almighty to ransom by forgoing a day’s meal.fasting, going without food

The major days for undergoing a fast is Monday, Tuesday and  Thursday. (why leave out the remaining three days and make them feel worthless! Never mind…) The concept of religious fasting is as old as the planet earth and Hindus are not strangers to this phenomenon. Some do it to fulfill their wishes, few do it  for a spiritual enlightenment and some, to simply shed off their pounds! I was never an advocate of the ‘fasting trend’ as I never quite understood the selective restrictions. For example, you can indulge in a packet of  hot fried potato chips while you are fasting!! Huh! Or treat yourself to a plate of Sago Khichdi. Who made these fancy rules ? And if you are constantly stuffing yourself , how are you fasting, for that matter?

Recently ,when we happened to witness the spectacular lunar eclipse and the world was going bonkers about the astronomical vision, some of my friends decided to fast on that fateful day! I was amused beyond explanation. Staying hungry because the moon decides to play hide and seek for a while!! And then it’s a different ball game altogether with people throwing or giving away food cooked on the previous day, emptying water cans and thus emptying the house of the lunar dosh. Gosh, I can write an entire post on some of the weirdest superstitions which we Indians believe in.

I always used to ask my mom about who decides what one decides what to eat while fasting…quite an irony, I know. She  used to give me blank stares followed by angry ones. :) Not that I cannot starve myself, but I do not see a logic to it. I can understand abstaining from meat or alcohol as it gives your system a  much-needed break, but going without food is simply going to give out embarrassing stomach growls. So while the entire nation decides to go hungry, including Baba Ramdev, I believe in living to the fullest and let the Almighty do the same! Amen :)

A ‘Fishy’ Tale

Ever got in a situation where you are tickled by a shoal of miniature sized, cute suckers? Oooh, the very thought Garra Rufa, Fish Pedicureof tiny mouths nibbling away at my feet, gives me goosebumps. So, when a fish spa opened up in a mall close to my place, I definitely wanted to check it out. I had read a lot about the miraculous ‘cleansing’ powers of the Garra Rufa fish a.k.a Doctor Fish and was desperate to have a look at it.

The spa salon was bright and freshly painted with pleasant colors with an occasional flower vase here and there. A huge square-shaped water tank with hundreds of Garra Rufa caught my eye. The very thought of surrendering my feet to these toothless healers gave me a prick.  My family had accompanied me and all of them were excited to try it out. So, each one of them got their feet sanitized by the assistant.  I tried to play  safe and ducked out at the last moment. I know, I am such a spoiler! I decided to capture this enchanting moment and went clicking pictures of all random things in the spa.

The tank was buzzing with the doctor fishes. My mom in law and the rest of the troupe decided to dunk in. Honestly, I never thought anyone would bear the tickles for long enough. I seriously wanted someone to agree with me on the fact that it is not easy  to get one’s feet mauled in a decorative water tank! The assistant checked everyone’s feet for bruises and cuts (obviously for the fear of infecting the fish as well as oneself) and then assured us that it will be a relaxing experience. She also told us that the tank gets filtered water and is cleaned every time a customer gets a pedicure done. So my folks got into the groove and happily put their feet into the tank.  Immediately all the fishes in the water gathered around the feet and began their work. All i could hear was squeals and shrieks of laughter. The expressions on everyone’s face was worth a watch. I envied them. One of my uncles gave up immediately as he couldn’t take it anymore.  It felt like a million needles pricking at your feet or like an army of ants on your feet, according to my folks. It takes around five minutes to get adjusted to the tickles. You can see the fish nibbling at the dead skin meticulously.

Since the fishes do not have teeth, it’s a relaxing affair. However i was still unconvinced about the fact that they are happily nibbling my foot. Imagine being tickled between the toes! Humanly impossible! After a 20 minute session of being pleasantly manhandled by the Garra Rufa, a pedicure routine follows. A regular pedicure by the assistant brings back some life to your feet which , by now, feels numb . The entire experience of 30 minutes was reasonably priced. By now the heels and soles of your feet resemble a baby’s feet. Each and every nook and corner of the toes and heels are cleaned thoroughly.  I kept cursing myself for missing the experience. It was quite a rejuvenating experience for my folks and they thoroughly enjoyed the fish pedicure.

Recently, I read some reports which stated that Fish Pedicure is totally unhealthy as the water in unclean and increases risks of getting infected.  It seems the Fish pedicure thing is banned in the US and some other countries. However, the fish pedicure promoters insist that the clean water is filled in the tank every time and special care is taken to keep up the hygienic environment.  May be these are just rumors to cripple the competition brought about by the Fish Pedicure spas.

I loved the experiment, watching my folks rolling with laughter and enjoying their Sunday evening to the most. May be, in future I shall get motivated enough to try the Fish Pedicure on my own.

Englishisms- Learning from scratch

Ignorance cannot be bliss all the time. Today when I was surfing the net, I came across a question which set my brain cells ticking! The question went thus, “What to call that groove above your lip?” And I found myself scratching my head! I wondered why it never occurred to me before.  To satiate my inquisitiveness, I decided to Google it! (Who else!) And lo, I just tumbled on to an entire list which answered such seemingly simple questions for which no one had the answer!back to school

To say the least, I was thrilled to learn the new words and was nodding all the way, because the questions were so familiar and related to our daily routine in some way or the other. At times, we tend to ignore the minute things, wherein lies the greatest details.

So here is the list from Webster dictionary for you to enjoy. I am sure you will be amazed!

Aglet : the tag covering the ends of a lace or point

Armsaye : the armhole in clothing.

Escutcheon: a protective or ornamental plate around a keyhole

Ferrule :  the knob on the far end of an umbrella

Keeper : the loop on a belt that keeps the end in place after it has passed through the buckle

Lemniscate : the infinity symbol (I learnt this in my Math books !)

Liripipe: the long tail on a graduate’s academic hood

Lunule : the whitish mark at the base of a fingernail

Minimus : the little finger or toe

Philtrum : that vertical groove above your lip

Punt : an indentation at the bottom of a molded glass bottle

Tittle : the dot over i or j    (My English teacher never told me this ! )

Tongue: a movable pin in a buckle that passes through a hole in the strap to be secured

Vamp:  the part of a shoe or boot that covers the front of the foot

That was some real enlightenment and I am glad I got to learn some new words, although i would never address a shoe as ‘vamp’ ! :)

Hair Scare

This is how my hair looked after the experiment I carried out on my poor tresses. Only, I wasn’t looking half as pretty as Megan Fox and no, I wasn’t pouting Bad hair daylike her either :( I learned it the hard way, that one shouldn’t believe whatever is written on one of those “10 ways to make your hair shiny” websites .

So on a sunny day, I decided to try one of those hair saving tips to infuse some life unto my flowing mane.

#1:

For squeaky clean hair, use a teaspoon of Baking Soda (bicarbonate of soda) mixed in your palm with water. The Baking Soda helps remove the build-up from conditioners, mousses and sprays to give you naturally clean hair.”

And I thought wow!! This looks incredibly simple and an inexpensive way to get rid of the shampoo buildups. Off I went to the kitchen and got hold of the baking soda which was resigned to a remote corner in my refrigerator. Usually I do not experiment much with my hair because i have heard such horror stories from my friends before. Since this was a mere cleaning ritual, I thought of giving it a try. I was so excited!  After reading the instructions carefully, I made a paste of baking soda and water, which I dutifully scrubbed on to my scalp. And then i waited for some good 5 to 10 minutes. All through the waiting period, my heart was beating faster and my mind was churning out unpleasant thoughts.What if my hair came out in clumps? How will I face the world? How will I pose for pretty pictures? With such negative thoughts, I decided it was enough and went in for a wash.

To my horror, after giving my hair a ‘good rinse’, I couldn’t see the promised soft, shiny,squeaky hair!!!  My hair was all sticky as if some one poured a bottle of glue instead of some so-called cleansing agent. My heart skipped a beat as i frantically began searching for my bottle of shampoo. All those unpleasant thoughts began hovering around my head like a halo. I was so damn screwed, I thought. Even after rinsing my hair with a shampoo, it still felt sticky ad messy. I was almost on the verge of crying when my dear mom in law stepped in to help me, after giving me an earful for being so adventurous. At that time, all I could think about, was my tresses, my shining crown of glory.

I cursed myself for getting into this sticky situation. I heard my hubby screaming out that baking soda should only be used for baking  purposes. I was in no mood for unsolicited advice. My mom in law handed me good old shikakai powder [Acacia concinna , thanks wiki :)] which is basically a mix of many herbs and has been in use as a conditioner since ages. With a frowning face, I again went in for a rinse , this time with our very dependable Indian version of shampoo. And voilà, I could see my hair was soft to touch and was regaining its natural texture. I was so happy that I danced with joy. I can say that was the happiest moment of my life. All the unpleasant memories were out  for a toss. My faith in desi shikakai was restored to its fullest.:) May be I messed up my ‘hairy’ experiment but I vow never to indulge in such a risk ever again. :)

P.S: This is my ill-fated experiment with baking soda and it didn’t work for me. Try at your own risk.

A ‘Begging’ Issue

Begging in India

Mumbai is known for many things, one being, home to the biggest slum in Asia.  Beggars are a daily sight in Mumbai, be it at the bus stand, at the temple doorsteps (that’s their favorite spot), railway stations, traffic signals and so on. Basically, they are a part of Mumbai & Mumbaikars have learnt to deal with it somehow. It’s heartbreaking to see kids begging on the streets so that their families can have a day’s meal. However, there is a difference between asking for alms and forcing someone to shell out a dime!!

Lately, I have noticed a bunch of vagrants on my way home. A mother along with 5 kids, accompanied by one more woman, are a daily sight at the traffic signal. The kids are all aged around 4- 5 years and one is a toddler , merely a year old. Since the traffic signal is near a big shopping mall, this is an ideal spot for them to earn their bread. Especially,during the evenings when the mall is teeming with people. The mother along with the other woman usually rests under a tree ( yea, there is still some green cover left in Mumbai :) ) while the children are always kept on their toes! Every time a rickshaw stops in front of the mall, the alert children harass the passenger for a rupee or two. The kids usually target young girls , college going kids & foreigners since they are an easy target and end up paying instead of shooing them away.

I saw one of the kids pestering a girl for money and when she didn’t yield to his requests he simply asked her for an ice cream and called on his siblings !! The girl literally ran for her life. This tactic works very well at times and the kids end up earning a ten rupee note right away. There was an article in a daily about a leading Bollywood actor being harassed by a beggar on a crowded street in Mumbai. This actor was in his car when all of a sudden a beggar landed in front of his car, yelling and blaming the actor for the so-called ‘accident’. It was later revealed that the beggar was just trying to make some quick money, knowing a fact that people would obviously sympathize with him! How smart!

This has turned into a big nuisance and people end up paying not out of sympathy but due to sheer frustration and irritation. I wonder, why don’t these women  do some house hold chores to earn their livelihood! I can understand if they disabled , but no, they are perfectly alright. Instead of giving the kids their due, they prefer to sit idly and let the kids suffer!! Is it because its easy money or are they plain, lazy?

Indian Reality Shows—A Farce?

What is the reality about reality shows on indian television? They are going nowhere…As simple as that. It is a mix of drama, scripted dialogues, screams and shrieks just to entertain the Indian middle class, as if the soap operas weren’t enough already.So what is it that persuades the thinking mind to see a couple of non entities bitching and screaming their guts out?Hmmm…quite a question!

May be bringing in a superstar to host this yet another scripted reality show does the trick! Or is it that we as humans enjoy fights and bickering as long as it is from a safe distance. How mean! Even in life, people enjoy the regular fights among the neighborhood couple, Work place gossips have a special holding in each working professional’s life. Similarly, Indian television seems is getting on to this bandwagon speedily. Casting couches, dance shows, tears of joy and sorrow, abusive dialogues rule the roost.

Recently a reality show on television garnered great TRPs by bringing in abusive contestants. And yes the channel got what they wanted. The entire nation got hooked on to the abuses and shrieks and thus became a huge topic of discussion in colleges, work places and among friends. The latest news heard was the channel roped in a  Hollywood celebrity to grab the Indian male eyeballs. Sigh!! This was the last nail in the coffin and a well placed one too.

A lot has changed over the years in the Indian television scenario. There is no substance, no essence, nothing for the intelligent thinking man. Even the news channels have joined the TRP rat race. Less said the better about our Gen X music channels!! What are your views on the current crop of so-called reality shows on Indian television??