Monday, February 23, 2009

Jai Ho...all the way to LA and back!

What a scintillating performance at the Oscars by the Slumdog Millionaire! I personally enjoyed the movie and loved the songs...all of them...Ringa Ringa, Paper Planes...but undoubtedly Jai Ho being the most euphonious.

Following the Oscar ceremony from work today was exciting and the sensational win of Slumdog in eight categories including Best Picture, Best Director and the two for Rehman, ensured a very jubilant atmosphere at work.

I have been following Big B and the likes of him who are of the opinion that the movie portrays the impoverished India and thus not a befitting image for the Oscars. Yes, the movie is about the slumsdogs, but it does not exaggerate the deprivation; it tries to show that silver lining around the cloud which many have chosen not to see. No, am not defending the movie. However, you have to give it to Danny Boyle, an out and out British director, for capturing the Indian sensitivity and spirit so aptly. It's a real movie and reality is often disheartening - not the best movie about India, I agree, but not the worst either.

No words can do justice to the virtuoso that is A. R. Rehman. An ardent fan of Rehman's music myself, his victory does make me proud. For all the copy cats in Bollywood ranging from the Anu Maliks to the Pritams, we have atleast one true genius to boast of. Honestly, I feel there are some other numbers of Rehman that I thought are way better than Jai Ho, but I guess none of them got the kind of publicity and audience that the latter got. Nevertheless, well deserved Rehman.
Jai Ho!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

This day...that year

Yes, it has been two years since we tied the knot. It's been a roller coaster really. Many of my friends comment that I am now "well married"; I wonder what they mean but somehow I still feel I am not "married enough" :).

It would take me an eternity to recap these two years that just flew by. The memories of February 19 2007 are so vivid in my mind. The whole wedding paraphernalia, the grandeur of the day, the intermingling of the joy of anticipation of a brand new phase and the sorrow of physically moving away from the family that is at the core of my being. Gosh, the big fat Indian wedding is no trivial task. It requires solid stamina, emotional support, meticulous planning and most importantly immense patience (the constant flow of curious relatives and friends, and what not).

Life's moved on, smooth sails and rough ones too, high tides and low tides but then life is always what you make it!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Love is in the air...

...or so we hope :).

Naah, I am no ardent St. Valentine believer or follower but I don't mind the usual stir around Valentine's Day...the stupendously priced roses, the overkill of red and pink on newspapers, card and gift galleries and all magazine covers, and ofcourse the silly, yet extravagant dinner and luncheon buffets organized everywhere - from your local restaurant to the five-stars.

I don't disagree that the day of lovers is nothing but a commercially fueled phenomenon; add to that the peer pressure of outdoing each other in making your loved one feel special - the perfect recipe for boost of sales of any retail enterprise. But, you know what- it's cute as well.
Young school and college students holding hands and sharing the same icecream with the so called love of their life - most of these loves don't even last through the semester. Then, ofcourse are the more serious types, the extremists and all that. Yawn, I'll let them pass - don't want to lambaste them today.

My personal experience with the fourteenth day of February has not been very noteworthy. In school, all instances were spent giggling and linking friends to everyone possible. College years were spent trashing all these giddy and lovey-dovey theater smooching couples (for the uninitiated, these are the couples that are at their intimate best only in the darkness of the movie halls); by the way, one of the Valentine's was spent writing the CAT (MBA entrance). And then another one working.

And then, love happened - the last two years before my wedding were spent in exchanging adorable tokens of affection. The best one has been the music composition that Vish created for me. I think it was most unique and romantic.

This is my second Valentine after marriage and as we laze around teasing each other how unlike the "before" years, we are not running helter-skelter to surprise each other, and would rather best the spend the day relaxing, eating good food and catching a couple of movies, we realize that Valentine's day is much-ado about nothing - blown out of proportion, not only by the youngsters and bollywood, but also by the likes of Ram Sena. Today Valentine's day is all about the pink-chaddi campaign, the hug-karo and pub-bharo andolans and media-hype. My advice to those smitten by the love bug (never mind if it's for real or not), just chill, sit back and enjoy, do what you what to do - and for those who are averse to it, the rebels without a cause - please get a life or atleast a "real" cause...

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Goons and moral policing

It has happened so many times, in so many places: Delhi, Meerut, Bangalore, Mangalore. The self-proclaimed moral police pick up broomsticks to clean the society.
And, this cleaning involves physical violence, lathi charges and indiscriminate abuse perpetrated against the "wrong-doers", the "immoral" souls and the "westernized" thought-bearers, who are primarily between the ages of 17-30; choose to club-hop, take a stroll on the beach with their friend, engage in some sort of intimacy in the public parks away from the prying eyes of their families, get a little over-mushy at the idea of Valentine's Day, sit a little too close in the theater playing the recent romantic flick, date in Mc Donald's and Cafe' Coffee Day and most importantly are normal human beings who get attracted to other human beings of the opposite sex (or the same sex) and want to be with them.

The images of the frenzied brutality by the likes of RSS, Bajrang Dal, BJP, Shiv Sena flashed on all the news channels for the past fortnight have left me aghast. In the name of Indian culture, the country is breeding a pedigree of barbarous goons. These ruffians slap a girl who is walking with her boyfriend but have the most number of illicit affairs possible. They proclaim on national media that a woman and a man should hold hands only if they are married but pretend blissful ignorance of what their kids are upto in the very same dating places. They want women to wear Indian clothes as any western outfit is the hallmark of a characterless woman, but they secretly lust after sleazily dressed women in all the C and D grade movies. Frustrated with themselves, perverted to the core and vicious in mind and spirit, they threaten to change the face of the modern India.

What is the difference between these law breakers and the much terrified Taliban? Both equal in mindless cruelty, total disregard for respect of the other, desecration of social, communal and national ethos and complete religious aberration. I don't care what party or god they belong to or beleive in; they surely do not deserve to be treated as human beings and the law enforcers of this country need to ensure they get the worst possible punishment.

What a woman or man drinks, wears, watches and with whom he/she goes out with or sleeps in with, as long as done with one's own individual freedom of choice is nobody's business. We are a free, sovereign country and we are adults; we can manage our liberty. We do not need moral policing by a set of b@#$%^&s with unenviable criminal records. Spare us please; do not fetter our freedom, our spirits.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

In the name of the father...

I chanced upon this article in the Sunday Times supplement of The Times of India today that talked about the different schools of thought around a girl changing her name (or second name) after marriage.
This discussion has gained prominence in the world of journalistic deliberation primarily because of Munnabhai's (that's Sanjay Dutt...just in case...) highly provocative statement about his sister Priya Dutt who retains her dad's surname after marriage and I quote Mr. Dutt here, "Priya should have changed her name after marriage and taken responsibility of the new family". For those out of touch, this is all in the context of the siblings tiff in the Indian political arena post their father, Sunil Dutt's demise.

Sanjay Dutt has obviously not taken his Wren & Martin lessons in English grammar very seriously in school. Changing name after marriage and taking on family responsibility are two disjoint ideas and therefore cannot be combined to make a single sentence. There is no relation between the first and second clause. Unfortunately, in our predominantly patriarchal social mindset, many people end up making this mistake.

Marriage is one of the most complex institutions in modern day society. And with too many conflicting notions that surround, I cannot even list all of them in one breath. Therefore, I will stick to only one...a girl's changing her name after marriage.
First, contrary to popular belief, this is not a pan-Indian or global phenomenon. Families in many parts of southern India and the world, for that matter, and those hailing from matriarchal societies in Kerala and Goa, retain their maiden name.
Second, there is no evidence of religious enforcement of this name changing ritual in any of our ancient texts (and I mean ancient texts of all religions) and it is absolutely not a legal mandate.

I am not sure how this naming changing business really came into practice. On some introspection, I feel it could be a practical arrangement between the husband and wife that maybe makes the day-to-day life simpler. I mean if you have the same second name as your spouse, the receptionist at the hotel you are checking in will not cast a suspicious glance, joint loans, property agreements and insurance claims are easier to negotiate, hospital formalities become a wee bit simpler et al. As decades passed by, I think, like most other pragmatic compacts, this became a societal norm and then a regulation.

The minute you begin imposing, somebody is bound to rebel and a revolution happens. And this issue inflamed most feminist movements as they equated the name change (and rightly so in cases where this is coerced) with a brand acquisition, you overtake a name and brandish it with yours to make it your own. I believe many families compelled, and still compel women to change not only their last name but also their first name. This, I perceive, as the height of commodification of women.
Thus, heralded the Hillary-Rodham-Clintons and Aishwarya-Rai-Bachhans. A safe technique to keep your cultural identity and yet mould yourself into the societal expectations of a married lady. Not bad, I'd say, only not very practical. I mean so Ash's daughter should be Ash2 Rai Bachhan, she marries a kapoor and becomes Ash2 Rai Bachhan Kapoor and imagine the plight of the third generation!

The simplistic solution some women have come up with is not to change their name at all. This is a quite feasible option but does not have the undeniable advantages of the first and second alternatives, and also particularly problematic once the kids come along. I mean, how insecure can I get about my "identity" my identity only my name?

So what do? Well those confused, join the gang. I continue to use my maiden name for all formal, legal and practical purposes. No, I am not a die-hard feminist who finds this as the means to get back at the male dominance and I hate it when people cast me as one. I use Yuvika Chaube for three reasons - the emotional one being that I like the way Yuvika Chaube sounds. The more formidable one being the amount of paper work involved in changing the name; I cringe at the thought of filling out long forms, going to sad government offices, court rounds etc.

Some years down the line, I plan to give this name change business a serious thought. I might be transformed into Yuvika Chaube Vishwanath..naah that's too long...I myself get breathless by the end of it, maybe just Yuvika Vishwanath or maybe Yuvika C Vishwanath...Sometimes I wonder if Yuvika would serve the purpose :).
For others, I would say go by your gut feel. Do what you feel is the best and would suit you the most.

Fortunately, there is no right or wrong to choose from here. Your name has nothing to do with how good a wife, daughter-in-law or mom you are!


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