Thursday, March 30, 2006

making noise

Reading a few more blogs on the Blank Noise Project and it brought back nightmarish memories of all my days in Delhi. It's strange but even the most "non sexist" and rational-headed men get all awkward when their female friends mention their sexual harassment experiences. Atleast ALL the men I've ever spoken to either get all giggly, change the topic, make a joke (almost always related to some retarded version of "adam teasing") or fight to hide their disbelief...

Ok, let's take a poll on this, how many women would find it incredulous that out of the 90 days that I commuted in a blue line bus from DU to Saket, almost 89 days I came back home feeling totally violated and seething with anger cos of some experience of that kind? NO, I did not wear "inappropriate" clothes and NO I did not travel at insane hours... How many men would think I am exaggerating? I think, almost all...

Well, I guess if you haven't lived it, you will not believe it - like seeing aliens huh? Believe the story only when u see it urself? The lil difference being that half the population of India would not find it hard to believe my story. Don't take it personally, I am not saying that YOU pinched my ass - or on second thoughts DO take it personally. Question yourself WHY you find it hard to trust me when I say it happened to me every damn day.. Put urself in my shoes and see how horrible it is to not just go thru that shit with strangers but have men I love and trust not make me seriously.
Anycase, on a less depressing tone, I thought it is quite a good feeling by itself that so many women (and men) are voicing their opinions or venting their frustrations whatever the mood of the blog may be all over cyberspace. I was reading one mof my friend's angst -filled poetry (oops sorry for advertising but then she is usually the only one aprt from my parents and another 2 friends reading this blog so..!) and the comments to her poems really gave me a glimpse of what happens in the minds of conservative fundamentalists. Be under no illusion, they all are smart people, and have this brilliant strategy of always using Indian culture and Indian mythological figures as their armor. Feminists take a myriad evil forms from surapnakha (the mythological figure who was too outspoken to be a good Indian woman hence she was a devil-ess (?!)- read this hilarious yet dangerous blog for more info), to anti-Indian red flag waving terrorist...
Incidentally that reminds of a really FASCINATING book The Professors: 101 Most Dangerous Professor in America that has just come out here in the US (in case you think India is the only one with brilliant strategies by the fundamentalist Right). No surprises that all the 101 are progressive profs/with leftists political orientation/feminists.... I am waiting for my copy :)

Monday, March 20, 2006

Rhythm and the Demented past

Isn't it wierd how some songs are so weaved in with memories of certain people and places that however many years pass they continue to evoke a strange sense of nostalgic teary-eyedness? I was walking up the Runyan Canyon and thinking of all such songs...

Just like a woman has that effect on me. It instantly transports me to Jan 3rd, 1997, a dark sweaty room in a narrow lane of Old Delhi, the smoke, the chocolate pastries and the half-dead boom box on a third-hand side table. The days when relationships were "just for kicks" and mostly to impress friends, days when all we did was lounge on the dusty auditorium floor, feeling adequately creative with our "theatre of the absurd"- Brenton, Pinter & Ionesco rolled into amateur joints..

Kurt Cobain groans Plateau (eeps how do u people do the fancy hyperlink business? Let me give it a shot here) and I am back in the cold patio outside the hotel in Nainital, sometime in early 1990s. This was the time when P and I had just been introduced to Nirvana (ofcourse the only one we had dared to pick up was the "Unplugged" version that even a Backstreet Boys lover must have access to!) and we were celebrating our Rock-ed ness by listening to the same old cassette every morning till it drove even us crazy! Totally unrelated to the current topic but have you noticed how women who have these gender bender pretensions are more likely to be killing themselves with nicotine and chain caffeine consumption? I wonder why we are so silly - I mean, in any case there are so few of us who are semi-sane. Why do we have to ensure that we die faster than the non smoking non alcoholic doe-eyed ones? BAD STRATEGY!

A totally different genre of music here so don't be surprised. I was singing it to the boy yesterday and he panicked - it is a bit too haunting I have to confess. Can't seem to find a link but I could sing it for you :)
Raat ne kya kya khwaab dikhaye
Rang bhare sau jaal bichhaye
Aakhe khuli to sapne toote
Reh gaye gum ke kaale saaye
(roughly translated as "the night brings with it dreams and webs of desires. You wake up and all that's left are the shadows of sorrow" JEEEEZZZ how depressing is that!)
The surest sign that Baba is depressed is when he starts humming this song. It's like a smoke alarm - time to get your daughterly charms in action or this song spells potential disaster! Reminds me of the million vacation nights in some lonely hill station dak bungalow where all we could do to entertain each other was play antakshari (don't worry that game involved lot more cheerful songs as well or we would have all killed ourselves by now!) Add to this another of Baba's favorite "mood indicator" songs "Chandan ka palna, resham ki doli" and the combo can be a suicide bomb squad...

Then there were the various stages in my life when I got hooked on to some kind of music - but only for a week, then phoosh the band was totally forgotten. Velvet Underground's "
Jesus" I don't know what attracted me to them for that one week in Mcleodganj where ALL we would hear is
Jesus Jesus
Help me find my proper place
Help me in my weakness
Cos I am falling out of grace...

Adding to the eclectic mix - Sting's Field of Gold and some senti pede's Lady in Red reminds me of SPV days when I was adamently chasing a guy who gave me no bhaav! The lyrics of Sting's harmless song were enough to set me off on some imaginary love-land where Mr Brown Eyes (or whatevr cheesy name I had given to the guy) was running around with me in corn (?) fields. Heh heh heh!!

Las vegas has another assortment of songs attached to it. None of these songs would have originally qualified as "my kind of music" but so much changed in february 2005, that music lost and found was hardly worth lamenting about! The beats of Everything but the Girl's Mirrorball and George Michael's Round Here (yaya I would have also said EEYU a year back but then this song kinda grows on you esp when it's played for 10 hours in the car by the guy you are trying to hit on) bring back flashes of Paris Paris and Ballagio's fountains, the midnight coffee conversation in the cafe in Venice Venice...and since I am a flighty writer I have to take this diversion and ask "WHY THE HELL ARE ALL THE HOTEL NAMES IN LAS VEGAS TWIN WORDS? ARE PEOPLE SO DRUNK THAT THEY CAN'T GET IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME SO INTEAD OF CALLING A HOTEL VENICE THEY CALL IT VENICE VENICE??" AIN?? Oh oops, I just checked online - it seems the hotel names are actually NOT double words (except for NY NY).. I wonder why I thought they were.. Must have been the Paris Paris Margarita :)

Memories of Blue line buses

My meeting with a nauseatingly feminine women yesterday reminded me how lucky I am to be able to live life (mostly) the way I want to without having to pretend to be a dumb, cute, innocently wide eyed imbecile. I've always been curious about this one: Do women who pretend to be dumb whenver they are in the company of a man feel nauseated when they go back home or do they not realise what they are doing to themselves? I had this prefectly smart, totally capable of taking care of herself type friend in my undergrad days. She bloody well knew the difference between a hard drive and a hard-on but up pops a man in the pic and she would get all doe-eyed and start asking questions like "what happens when men have wet dreams - do they pee in their bed?"...

I always thought that had something to do with our "culture" (yah yah I used to blame a lot on "Indians are like that ONLY!" before I realised that most of this "men are from mars so they cant be blamed for anything" shit is pretty much universal). Well, it HAS to do a bit with the culture, if everytime a woman had to travel on her own in Delhi in broad daylight, she had to get either her boobs or her butt pinched, then obviously quite a few of them chose to be legless jellyfishes who needed a ride from their boys to make it on their own.

That reminds me of all the blogs that N made me read the other day on "eve teasing" - leaving aside my intense hatred for that word "eve - teasing" which totally trivialises the act. Heck when I got my butt rubbed on by half a million crotches in the Delhi buses I definitely felt like no "eve" and that was DEFINITELY not just teasing... that aside the blogs were really interesting and did make me feel more positive about life back home. Seriously, one of the biggest pros about my little village in New England is that I don't get reminded that I have boobs everytime I step out of the house- which is unfortunately not how fortunate we are in Delhi. Have things changed at all? Some of my clubbing and Calvin Klein lingerie- buying friends assert that it has. Atleast in some clubs and streets in South Delhi. Well, just count the number of women drinking and smoking and wearing miniscule skirts in Turquoise Cottage on a Friday night and you will know! Hmmm, how much of a change is that I wonder!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Recovering from a Bah

Had a big scare yesterday. first N came online and being the bearer of all Indi news informed me that a school mate of ours has killed herself. I was not really that close to M but she was not the easily forgettable kind - pretty face, daughter of famous parents and everyone's sweetheart. She had some illness which made her depressed without any external circumstances. If that wasn't depressing enough when I narrated this story to my aprtmnet mate she scared the shit out of me by telling me that she has the same kind of depression. I am already a paranoid worrier about friends, now I have to physically restrain myself from checking on her every hour!What with the girl getiing hit by that truck on the crosswalk on wednesday and now this ... I am going to go nutty.

Anyway, my intention was not to treat this blog like an unpaid shrink, I logged in to write soemthing else, now I don't remeber what! Oh ya, was chatting with a friend (white American 29 year old girl) the other day and she started recalling her memories of India - she had gone there to visit a friend in Madurai a couple of years back. She had such fantastically funny highpoints - things and people we would never even notice that I wanted to write a travelogue titled something like "India through the eyes of a white woman"! Her list of things she loved most
1. The Omelette Man : This is the "thhele waala" who hangs ar0und street corners selling those oily stinky omelettes wrapped in a naan. We have a few near Kamala Nagar and the only time I was brave enough to eat them was 2 am on play rehearsal nights when option were highly limited!
2. Maggi Ketchup: "No one in the world can make better ketchups!"
3. Orange pop: I think she meant Gold spot cos we get plenty of Fanta here. I've been trying very hard to guess why she was drawn so much towards that drink - she app'ly had one everyday!
4. What she called the "Fried Yams": I have no idea what she meant cos I am pretty sure we get no yams in India? Do we? She described it as "those fried veggies that men sell on road sides and if u ask them to they sprinkle a lot of spices on it." I wonder of she was talking about the mirchi aalu chips!

Her narrative enthused the rest of the junta so much that even the most naika one (oh no what will I do when I see limbless children and homeless puppies) agreed to fly down for my wedding (they have all decided that I am getting married soon. No one bothered to tell the potential bride or groom :)
The moos, the snakes, the monkeys and the limbless beggars are calling....


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