Tuesday, February 21, 2012

High Five!

So, Vish and I have now been married for 5 years - That's half a decade! Yep, it's still sinking in... 

How has it been? 
Normal, I guess. We have shared love, we have had moments when we wondered why the hell did we marry, we have fought battles, and then made up too ... and so we have lasted. :P

Now, I have let this great achievement get a little into my head and so, however unsolicited it may be, here's some invaluable and very practical marriage advice for all of you. I am sticking to just five key lessons here (High Five and all, you know...), please feel free to contact me for more.


  • First, and foremost, the wife is always right. ALWAYS. Be it her opinion on your wardrobe, your dining etiquette, your behavior with her friends, your job, your friend circle, your family (however touchy that may sound), everything. She is right. If ever you feel that she is in the wrong, please refer to the previous statement.
  • The wife should never over analyze her husband's change in mood swings. Men are thick-skinned, simple creatures. Their pissed off demeanor has nothing to do with the caustic remark you made, or the stinky message you sent, or some comment your mom, dad or best friend made. There is no deep rooted anxiety of the future or current existential crisis. Men cannot and do not think or emotionally process so much data. And no, they are not cheating on you. 99.99% of the times, you can safely bet your life that either they are hungry (and I mean for food :D) or their favorite sports team lost some tournament. Dish up their favorite cuisine, feign some sympathy for the worthless match, and life is hunky dory again!
  • To the husbands: Let me break it to you - your wife does NOT have psychic powers. We, wives, cannot fathom how much you love us if you forget the date we first met or the day you proposed; we absolutely fail to understand that you appreciate our labor in the kitchen and laundry, if you don't even offer to help every  now and then; and we do not get how special we mean to you till you provide some tangible evidence (in the form of flowers, candle-lit dinners, gifts, and other 'precious nothings'). If you feel it, SHOW it.
  • Now, even though men have read this atleast a thousand times - forwards, FB jokes and what not, yet they do not seem to take this seriously. This is no laughing matter. Let me REiterate, two very important facts. 1. When you ask us if something is wrong, and we say NOTHING - it means EVERYTHING about you is wrong, and if you don't make serious amends, you are in for serious trouble. 2. If at the end of your justification, clarification, or your side of the argument, we say WHATEVER - it does not mean everything is fine and we are back to hugging and making up - it means whatever you stated was absolute bulls***, and since you exercised your freedom of expression, and not the right to remain silent, you are doomed even more.
  • Last, but not the least, no wife becomes fat, puts on weight, grows old or looks ugly. Here is a cheat code for you husbands, who just don't give the right answers ('I don't know' is also a wrong answer):
Q: Have I put on weight recently?
A (very emphatically): Ofcourse not. You look gorgeous as always. Infact, I am a little scared of your eating habits - you need to eat well.
(Note: You cannot say I like your curves, I like you plump etc etc. That is suicide!)

Q: Do I look fatter than Kareena Kapoor/Katrina Kaif/Angelina Jolie/Jennifer Anniston etc. etc.
A (with genuine honesty in your tone): Who? I haven't even noticed them! Aren't they all old and freckled now. With all that make up and the right camera angles, they look forgettable, imagine their true selves.

Q: Don't I look old now, considering when we first started dating. Is my skin sagging; do I already have crow feet; do you still feel the same about me, about us?
A (looking deep into her eyes): I can't make out an iota of difference from when I first saw you. You have the same vibrance and glow. I think you are ageless.

See, how simple it is! Honesty and straight forward approach - the two golden compasses of a happily ever after!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sita Sings the Blues

Sita Sings the Blues had been on my list of must-watch movies ever since I happened to chance upon its trailer on YouTube sometime last year. Recently, when my brother mentioned it, backing it with his recommendation, I finally got down to watching this animated feature film., only to regret having not seen it earlier.

Employing the technique of shadow puppetry to narrate one of the oldest epics of all times, the Ramayana, in a very colloquial, conversational, and almost irreverent, discussion mode; using a host of colorful imagery, interspersed with classical jazz music pieces by Annette Hanshaw, interluded with a contemporary parallel drawn from the director's own life, in a movie that is available for free viewing (under the Creative Commons Atttribution-Share Alike license) - Nina Paley's Sita Sings the Blues is a path breaking experiment in cinema in more ways than one. Read more about it here.

The mythological tragic theme of Sita - the epitome of the righteous wife, who forsakes the wealth and abundance of the palace to follow her husband (Ram) in his exile, who is kidnapped in the forest, salvaged by her supremely powerful husband, forced to undertake the test of fire (quite literally) to prove her chastity, only to be banished again when she is carrying twins, and finally given the option to come back on the condition of another agnipareeksha (test of fire), which thankfully Sita denies and commits suicide (in a way) to end her miseries. This juxtaposed with the modern comedy of marriage from the life of Nina Paley (the director) whose long standing boyfriend abandons her leaving her high and dry, to fend for herself. What is very vividly brought out is the universal and eternal quality of the story of Ramayana outside of its religious context.

There are several other themes, alternate discourses and even questions that run throughout the narrative, quite evidently, though perhaps a little subtly:

  • If Ram's father, Dasratha was the just and fair king he was known to be, how come he was unfair to his own son for the sake of a vow given to one of his queens.
  • Was Ravana really the huge, ugly monster/villain he has been now made out to be? Apparently, the only great character flaw he ever had was he was smitten by another man's wife (Sita) - and that has been his only mistake. He was infact very well read and well endowed (by the gods).
  • Why did Sita not leave Lanka with Hanuman when he first came to see her - in a sense the whole purpose of the historic war was to establish Ram's supremacy and omnipotence. If she had just escaped with Hanuman - it wouldn't have been much of an ego boosting exercise...or did Sita feel so outraged at her abduction that she wanted her man to come and rescue her in full glory with an epic scale war that killed way too many people; or maybe she never completely trusted Hanuman. Who knows?
  • When Sita had already 'passed' in her test of fire (not considering for the moment how wrong Ram was in demanding it in the first place), why did he again abandon her because what a washerman said. Heavy rests the head that wears the crown? The just king versus the husband dilemma? Was that a difficult choice? Why is it so important that the leader be trusted by the wrong guys too? Is that good leadership? Even a four year old understands that "that was not fair of Ram' - Read about it here. Why is Ram then still considered an ideal man?
So, what may be the saving grace of Ramayana (or maybe not)? Finally, Sita did not forsake her self respect to return to the man who had doubted her inspite of her being with him in the most lowly of circumstances (the exile). She asked Mother Earth to take her (that is suicide) - and that final sacrifice pins her as the idol for all womanhood for all times to come. Why? Because so many believe that she silently did all that was told to her by her husband, thus upholding the true virtue of a wife? Perhaps not! On the contrary, I believe, that was her way of showing her disappointment in Ram. She resorted to means that were socially acceptable in those times. Today, if your husband does not trusts you (asks you for DNA tests for your children - wouldn't that be modern day agnipareeksha?), you might not want to return to him, but you wouldn't commit suicide - you could leave the house, start afresh somewhere else - society has grown to accept divorces and marital separations (the taboos exist but there is a real choice) - Sita did not have that option!

Coming back to the movie, it does not score a perfect 10 - when you see something that is good, you become greedy and also see the potential of what all could have beeen better. However, Sita Sings the Blues is a MUST WATCH. 82 minutes of a lot of sense, fantastic story telling, imagery and a whole load of food for thought - all this available for free on the Internet. You wouldn't get a better deal.

[Image Source: Google Images]

Monday, February 13, 2012

WTF Series: Episode 06: Vote Bank Considerations vs. Indian Culture on Valentine's Day

So, is the air heavy with rose scents enveloping you; does your wallet feel a tad bit lighter with the price of love paid; and is every living and non-living object painted pink and red yet?

No, no, don't get carried away with that hopeless sarcasm of mine. I love Valentine's day - the rush of the cupid hormone and going out of the way to make it special for you and your loved one - I will do it. I don't mind the gifts and the attention, who would?

But, you know what is the most interesting aspect of Valentine's Day in India? It is the clash of cultures. The love sick puppies versus the saffron brigade. Remember the pink chaddi campaign and the hug karo-pub bharo andolans started a couple of years back?
If you live in a state with these right wing extremists, forget going out on a date, you can't even be caught with your own sister or cousin! Lest, the saffron activists get your married or hand you over to the cops!

This has all been a recent phenomenon - the advertising of the commercial aspect of love that is glamorous and exciting (and expensive) by retail giants - you know, "if you love someone, tell them" (but with an Archies card, diamond ring, designer dress, Jimmy Choo shoes, and a candlelight dinner at Taj)...and the ridiculous protests by the RSS, Shiv Sena and other self appointed guardians of Indian culture. Both of them going stronger with every passing year! How stupid and dumb these so called assaults on "western culture" and preserving our tradition are, is obvious - however, what is not obvious if the frivolity and hypocrisy of their own beliefs and claims.

If certain media reports can be believed, this year will see a change. Given the context of impending elections in some states, certain right-wing activists, including Shiv Sena, MNS have decided to go easy on couples this 14th of February. Infact, not only have they decided to not disrupt V-day celebrations but also charm the voters by encouraging free spirit. See, this is the greatness of the largest democracy in the world - not even the "Indian culture" can come in the way of "Indian politics". 

Aaah, do I see a sigh of relief and a beaming pair of eyes - all set to cuddle up with your beloved in the park - hang on! If your state does not have elections coming up - you'd want to be more careful. VHP has sent out letters to pubs, bars, colleges etc. asking them not to encourage "vulgarity" and "immoral behavior" on the14th, which means - you cannot hold hands, hug, dance, drink, eat or indulge in any kind of contact with the opposite sex on V-day.
Wait, did you just say it was your sovereign right to freedom of speech and expression - yeah okay, but not on Valentines Day. We are purer-than-thou Indians; so, no, thank you, please. Remember, our culture teaches us that women are goddesses - they can't be fooled around with on the pretext of the holiness of St. Valentine!

Seriously, WTF.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Who moved my template?

If the new look on my blog compels you to infer new beginnings and fresh starts at my end, you couldn't be more wrong. I am simply pissed off.
So, I was using a free template designed by pyzam.com - which I absolutely was in love with. But you know what, if things go smoothly for a while, I begin to wonder if God has forgotten about me. Apparently the HTML code in the template references to certain URLs that are categorized as spam and hence blocked by most web sites, which basically means for the last week or so, I could not share my blog URL on any social networking site. 

Oh, the pressure of searching for the "right" template that conveys the "right" intent yet subtly. Haa! I didn't want to go to any third party template creations so as to avoid the risk of running into a similar situation  - so I decided to make peace with the template designer available for Blogger. Now, I am no great photographer to have a personally clicked pictured that is just "right" - so after a series of mixes and matches, I gave up. 

My dad often harps about the minimum satisfying criteria theory to make any decision (he uses that to consult youngsters on marriage too, btw - but that's another story). I wanted a simple design, that does not take focus away from the content, that does not distract from the writing, that has the right background and foreground contrast, easy on the eyes, and if it does not convey my basic intent, atleast it should not give the opposite impression. 
Did I ever proclaim in its entirety my love for the daisy - the everyday flower that brings beauty and eloquence? 

Well, my options were limited and I finally zeroed down on this one. Not sure if I like it as much as the previous one - would have wanted a slightly brighter image with a dash of green thrown in, in good measure - but then what is life without compromise :(.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The hour of need

When means become more significant
Than the ends they wish to serve;
When the journey becomes the epic,
And the destination is long forgotten;

When today ensnares you in its cobwebs,
And you let go of the dreams of tomorrow;
When all that you do in the present,
Is dream about the romantic past;

When no glorious sunrise or blissful sunset,
Offers hope for a peaceful end or a new beginning;
When the sail in the middle of the sea is home,
The meaning of shore ceases to exist.

It is then, you learn that the true bearing of life
Is this never ending quest and constant strife.
There is no final goal to which we proceed;
We all lose our selves to the hour of need.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Are you human?

Human identification protocols have been in existence for a number of years now. I am of course no techie geek to get into the intricate details of this, but it is fascinating to observe how these machinations have evolved over the years.

It started with the very boring captchas - the earliest versions with all crooked alphabets so you had to twist your neck in weird angles to decipher the alphabets scrawled together...

I am so not ashamed to admit that there have been a number of occasions when I have not got it right even for the second or the third time!

They then made captchas even more complicated with background distortion, lines struck through, till I, in frustration, vowed to never log in to that particular site again...

I seriously wonder if a machine would be more capable of deducing what the f*** the captcha says rather than human beings - so maybe the algorithm could be reversed. If the captcha is not replicated successfully, voila, it's a human! 

I personally prefer the sensibly written two word captchas such as the one below. The techies, please care to explain why technologically this may not be as good! These can get hilarious too. I am sure we all have once in a while giggles at the words we have got to recapture... "love", "feeling", "retard"...

Then there are these psychedelic ones that make me feel like puking! Animated GIFs? Giving me a break!

Ofcourse, then there are those for the mathematically inclined. 2+2 kinds! 

I swear to god I get a little nervous around these. Suddenly, what if they throw some quadratic equation at my face or some trignometric tan, cot s*** that I sucked at in school....

I really enjoy doing the logical ones. Have you seen something like this:

Imagine the existential angst of the person doing such a captcha. The obvious answer for food is the Z (the rice bowl) but aren't human beings (X) food for some species too. I wonder if there is some forum for such misleading captchas!

And finally the captchas that made me go on this trip. The smart questions! The ones that apparently try to make it fun for you. So this is what I got in one particular portal:

I was actually dumbfounded for a sec. I wondered if this was a trick question. Who the hell is Lisa? Some character in a movie, and they want the real name? (I told you I have a lot of time on my hands these days - so my imagination does run wild once in a while...)

Another smart question that I wonder how most men would answer is (they actually have questions like these, I am serious):

"How many colors in the list: pink, magenta, fuchsia, purple?"

And now a trick question for you: how many men do you know who would answer "one" and not "four" to the above question? :D :P

(Ducks with all the brick bats from the the color blind sex...
...ooops there I go again....)

[Image source: Google Images]


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