Monthly Archives: March 2006

By the moon and the stars and the sky

The prominently evident flavour last weekend can be described in one word – spontaneous. After seeing a rather pathetic movie which finished at 1:15am and ended up giving me a headache instead of laughs, it was time to freshen up a little. I digress, but here’s a one word review of Malamaal weekly – “bakwaas”. This important event of “brevity in its real element” having been put aside, I shall now proceed to describe the wonderful spontaneity that ensued.
1. I wanted to see the sunrise in the hills since long now.
2. I have been to and lived in, various Jhumri tallaya corners of our country but never Rajasthan/Jaipur.
3. If I am awake that late, there’s no way I can get up by the time sunrise happens. Except if I never sleep to begin with.

Put 1, 2 and 3 together and you know what followed. After a quick “camera-jacket-sneakers-cassettes-water bottle” pickup, we were on the Jaipur highway by 2am. Well, practically I am on it every single day at least twice, but this time the destination was not yonders.

So off it was, with some breathtaking Kandisa in the middle of the night. Eerie moonlightI have said it earlier and I say it again. ‘Kaun chaday roz yeh sooraj, pawan kaun phoonke’ echoes just the sentiment I had at that time. The mesmerising moon followed us everywhere. It was almost full and there were no clouds. Everything was bathed in the full moon light. After the first toll check, small little hills began dotting the landscape. In the milky whiteness of the moonlight, all of them seemed even more pristine and untouched. Venus, shining brightSome attempts at taking the moon’s pictures got thwarted because of the sheer luminosity of it. I had been much more successful earlier the previous weekend while attending an Indian classical music concert in Nehru park, when the moon had bashfully peeped out from under the clouds. Kandisa soon gave way to Roxette. The darkness soon gave way to an eerie blue sky. At 4:30 am we stopped and had some adrak chai from a dhaba. All this, while Venus was shining brightly in the night sky. It’s a strange feeling, this exploring in the darkness business, while the world sleeps. It unites one with nature, just a little bit more, than what one would be in the daytime. It all seems to be one’s private haven, one’s private adventure, one’s private magic show. In the morning it would be there, but it would be for everyone. That is magical yes, but special – no.

Soon the milky whiteness of the night began giving way to orange hues in the eastern corners of the sky. The western corners were however unconcerned with whatever was happening on the opposite end and retained the same look. Lots of kilometers and trees went past. Finally we stopped again, just as the sky was beginning to glow a ripe golden. I tried a panoramic shot which I later stitched together. The most fabulous golden sunrise wasThe panoramic sunrise just *about* to take place along with a big moon against a blue sky, just about to vanish away like the cheshire cat’s smile. The ripple of clouds spread above the sun like a natural quilt, only enhanced the colours more. While I took a series of shots to create a panned panoramic shot, I could see the sunrise taking place in a different frame (than my camera’s) and the sun actually coming out from behind the hills as if golden butter floating its way to the top in a pan. The opposite end of the sky was of course still drowsy and birds lazily flew along, carrying wisps of brightness with them. The fabulous sunriseWith the glorious sunrise witnessed, we inched our way towards Jaipur.

On the outskirts of Jaipur is Amer fort, built atop a hill. Since we didn’t have much time to spare, we knew this would be the only “Jaipur” we would be able to see. So off we went spiralling up the hill with “Kuschel Rock” giving us company Shall we dance?over music. Never before had I realised that hills are so close to Delhi! This fact itself quite pleased me. The place was absolutely scenic and full of greenery as well as lots and lots and lots of peacocks. There were entire peacock families moving about calling out to each other. It reminded me of my childhood when my sister and I also used to go “Keyooon” along with the peacocks in ChandiMandir and they would reply back with equal enthusiasm. We spotted a lot of peacocks Stretching by the moon!dancing too. Soon we came to a clearing from where the splendid view of the valley below was visible. Wisps of cloud hung in the air over the town and over the palace in the middle of a lake. Typical Rajasthani stuff. We reached the gates of the Amer fort soon but there was nobody to greet us except the longtailed long..err.. langoors. They made quite a picture, perched on a tree against the fast vanishing moon. The fort would have opened at 9 am and we were already there before 7am. But with enough of happiness and smugness collected for one day, we set back towards Delhi.

I drove on the way back, with speeds between 120-140kmph. Glisten carefullyMore smugness followed. I promptly earned myself some ma-behen gaalis like “Michael Schumacher kee maa” and “Narain Karthikeyan kee behen”. But in the end, nobody can ignore true excellence and I got a compliment on my excellent driving skills when we landed in Gurgaon by 11:30 am and promptly went to 32nd milestone for a brunch. Surprisingly I wasn’t drowsy even after a night out and eventually slept after 36 hours. All in all, a great funfilled weekend which I shall always cherish for all times to come. But this wouldn’t have been the same without my friend who actually was spontaneous enough to get up and go all the way to Jaipur in the middle of the night, who was patient enough to stop and watch each time I felt the urge to click pictures, who let me drive his car, and who also listened to entirely my choice of music. For all this praise that I am showering on you, I am sure next time you would let me visit Chowki dhani and let me buy some nice mojris too :p.

Tesu ke phool

Tesu ke phool

Garmi ke aise dino mein,
jee chahta hai, jaaoon jhool,

iss ped se jhoola laga kar,
aur upar se barse tesu ke phool.

Clicked while driving, to be more precise – in a hurry, while watching out for the signal to turn green. Who says there are long stops at traffic signals?

Barbie girl 1

You can brush my hair, undress me everywhere“..”kiss me here, touch me there, hanky panky“. A lot of guys think that’s what women are for. Writing a post on such issues like the ones that blank noise project (which incidentally got mentioned in boingboing too) covers, had always been on my mind but never did that earlier, because I never wanted reactions amounting to martyrdom, like “oh you poor thing, you had to go through so much”. I am glad I wrote, nevertheless. No, not because I had to vent it all out or that it would be cathartic. I didn’t need to do that. Those things had been purged by my mind a long time ago. And all women learn to do that eventually. They block out such memories in their entirety and lead their lives as if nothing happened. I am glad I did it because of the kind of reactions that I have received from people, many of whom are male. I anticipated that almost all women would be writing similar stories (and actually I was sick reading the same stuff). What I didn’t anticipate was that most men are completely oblivious of the “magnitude” of the situation. I am glad that this series had them enlightened (read “shocked” in their own words).

I am also hoping that it would have definitely helped many women realise that they aren’t the only ones going through this. Everyone and I mean every single one has to go through exactly the same shit. I also hope that women actually learn to “raise their voice” (literally) against it. I noticed that some of us felt “dependent” on men. I would like to point out that largely everyone in the society is dependent on each other for some reason or the other. But dependency to the extent of not being able to go out to a movie or a mall or to the market, unescorted, is pure crap. I know women (not child women but grown up adults) who can not even cross the road on their own without someone holding their hands! I know women who need “company” while going to the loo because they are scared (of the dark or of the loneliness, only they would know)! It irritates me to no end to see people perfectly capable of taking care of themselves (and others at that), being so dependent on others for such small little things. May be it’s because they have been sheltered all their lives and the reason for that would be the kind of experiences women face here. It’s a vicious cycle of sheltering and dependency which only leads to further dependency. It needs to be broken by the *women* themselves, by realising that dependency to some extent is unavoidable but it is only by breaking that mental dependency that they would learn to take care of themselves. This is the only way they would ever be able to get the strength to get back at the people who are largely the reason for such harassment on the streets, in public places and even in one’s own home.

In this country which has such high female infanticide rates, and has all kind of discrimination against the girl child, I have been fortunate enough to get a good education and parents who don’t have such a mindset. But I see several others who are as fortunate, still stuck mentally in a rut which makes them feel “helpless” and “dependent”. Just taking up a job and being a working woman is not called being “indpendent”. Independence stems from one’s own mind. There are females who can not take a single decision independently. Not for others and not for their own self. Whether or not it’s life altering, doesn’t matter. Taking someone’s opinion or consultation is definitely good, but having someone else take entire decisions for you is different. I know women who are grown up adults and can not get themselves from point A to point B all by themselves. Whether Point A is their own home and Point B – their next door neighbour or the Louvre in Paris, it doesn’t matter. They are not limited physically or monetarily. Mentally is the only way they are. I stay alone in the same city that my parents stay in (though it took me a year to convince them to be able to) and I do it because I *can* and want to, and not as a solution to any problem. I am tired of repeated clarifications (most of them, to women) to inconsequential stuff to the effect of, “I do NOT get scared of the dark or for that matter spiders, rats, frogs, lizards and what nots”, “I can take care of myself”, “I can run the house independently”. My only (of course unsolicited) advice to such “oppressed” women would be to wake up and stop being “Barbies” themselves. Only then can they expect others to NOT treat them as the same.

Take a vow 1

As I sit down to write for the blank noise blog-athon, I wonder where I could begin. Should I start chronologically from the age of 7, when a man servant felt me up in places I can still not get myself to write down? Or should I go ahead to the age of 14 when a guy rubbed himself into me in a not so crowded bus in Nepal, all this when my parents and sister were in the same bus, but I didn’t dare to move, for the sad reason that at that age, I didn’t know how have the guts to react in that kind of a situation. Or should I just jump past all those daily experiences of men feeling me up, pushing themselves into me in public transport, or staring at me or winking at me or passing lewd remarks or pinching my butt or singing songs or throwing balloons at me every damned holi or autodrivers offering me “lifts, jahan bhee jaana ho” or cars stopping by when I am walking alone on a main busy road, following me for some time, assuming that I am on sale or “boys” aiming small paper pellets at my butt or men hitting my butt by driving too close to me while I am walking my dog or guys speeding on a bike hitting my chest so hard that I almost fall with the sheer force (apart from the shock)… I am out of breath already and this sentence doesn’t even seem to be anywhere near ending. Maybe I should just land up at the incident which happened at some new year party when I was 16 and at that age, like everyone else I had the humble desire a young girl would have – that of being asked for a dance (not even a ballroom dance, it just a jam session). Little did I know that the request for a dance was a pretext for masturbation in a public place with the guy trying to make me fondle his dick. By that age, I was thankfully not so ill-equipped in terms of presence of mind (had enormous experience of such incidents by now) and I shoved him away with all my might. But till this date, only one person on this planet knew about it and she actually thought that I had imagined it all, since guys in those social circles are supposed to be “decent”. Nothing really “harmful” (this term is so damn subjective) happened then. I tried dealing with that incident in an adult manner (in my mind i.e.) so that my self esteem didnt get hit (“did I really look the cheap variety or did I look the “unable to do anything variety” to attract the wrong guys” kind of doubts).

There are ways and means to tackle that colleague who talks to your breasts or that elderly relative who pretends to be fawning over you but is actually lusting (you can always tell). Of course, one needs to weigh ones options and actions a little bit keeping in mind all odds. One does not go ahead and take pangas with a gang when one is alone. But one can definitely be alert and quick (not just physically but mentally as well).

There has happened a particular incident of ballooning where the guy made the mistake of being visible while throwing the balloon. He happened to work at a local barber shop, which I immediately stormed into and gave him a piece of my mind and some of the choicest abuses I knew. A guy there (a client) egged me on to give him a tight slap as well. I quietly ignored him since I didn’t want the situation to get so heated up and that guy seemed to be egging me on just for kicks. I cant say that what I did, would have made the ballooning guy stop it for his life. But it’s always best to bring the “situation” into notice. The fear of embarrassment is enough for some to at least think twice about it next time. There was another guy who tried brushing past me on a main road while I was waiting to cross it. The whole damn road was empty, but he thought that he would have a piece of my butt before I reached the other side. That guy was unaware that he was going to get the shock of his life. Though I felt like killing him, I merely held his collar with both hands and shook him so badly that he didn’t know what hit him. He tried running for his life, but he couldn’t. I was surprised with my own grip. Eventually he managed to pull off and ran for his life. It was only when everything was over and done with, that the “crowd” asked me what happened and if he was trying to snatch my purse.

There are umpteen such situations in everyday life and they would perhaps never end. Not only is it difficult to try and give such sick men their due, it is very much a difficult thing when you are left in a doubt about the intention of someone. At times things happen accidentally and unintentionally too. But at most times they are obvious enough to be brought to public notice. Even if the “crowd” does not react (and only watches) one should definitely make sure that one does not ignore it. In public transport one can always request ppl politely to stop pushing or plainly to stand a little away. The way one does it makes sure that even the ones who did it accidentally aren’t offended by your request and the ones doing it intentionally can not just go scot free. When it happens repeatedly in spite of polite requests, it’s time to stomp that high heel onto his foot or to shove ones elbow into his balls.

The best way to actually try and reduce something like this is to spread awareness amongst women that they can actually protest against it. I have grown up watching things happen to me and around me and even though I knew it was wrong I didn’t know what to do about it (till some point in my life). One needs to ignore minor happenings but one also needs to make sure that the ones which can be avoided, are. Things can get as ugly as molestation of ones own children or marital rape. There is no dearth of the levels till which harassment can go. Be aware, be prepared, be alert and be proud to be a woman in spite of the shit that happens.

Taxi No. 9211 FAQ

(“Frequently asked questions” for the uninitiated)
Spoiler warning – Plot revealed

2.5 out of 5. Good timepass. At least one doesnt feel that the money went waste.

Who all are starring?
Nana Patekar, John Abraham, Sonali Kulkarni, Sameera Reddy. Sonali is wasted. Sameera? She was there for just sashaying in and out of John’s life.

What’s the storyline?
After the first half full of funny potshots and some myriad startling shrieks (the aim of which isn’t quite clear), the second half gives one a feeling of watching “Iss raat kee subah nahi”. John Abraham and Nana Patekar keep trying to outdo each other, using every means in the dictionary. Ultimately they call for truce and realise that they benefit each other by helping each other. Nana Patekar gets his lesson on how to be a good husband/father and John Abraham realises that money isnt everything though it sure attracts everyone. For good measure, Piggy Chops (the name is now so popular that this is what is mentioned in the cast) is thrown in for John Abraham once he’s lost everything, but gained his senses.

Can John act?

Is John HOT?

Can Sameera act?
No way.

Is Sameera HOT?
Undoubtedly not.

Who has contributed most to the movie, acting wise?
Well, as usual, Nana Patekar was his usual hyper and sarcastic self. The rest of the cast just reacts to his crazy potshots in the first half and his attacks in the second.

How’s the musical score?
After waiting for the entire movie duration, for the much promoted song (Meter down), I got it only after the movie ended. There was another eminently forgettable song, when the story takes the expected climactic turn. At the end of the movie, (Meter down) is growled by our very own John Abraham and Nana Patekar. But one does not understand why the background score consists of those startling shrieks. Was it a horror movie that I was watching?

Who are the extras?
Priyanka Chopra (aka Piggy chops) and Sanjay Dutt (lends his voice for some initial narration). Sonali was roughly wasted the same way.

Corny scene?
Both Nana and John happen to have their birthdays on the same day. Of course, the movie was all about that day.

Mumbai. More Mumbai and more Mumbai. Only Mumbai. Mumbai-ites would have a nice time figuring out where they were during the shooting.

Fast. Racy. Speedy.

Good. Especially the one where (supposedly) John Abraham has to dodge oncoming vehicles while rolling on the road.

Point to Note?
The producer must have some insurance agents as his friends. The number of vehicles destroyed or damaged in this movie is quite noticeable.

Do I go and watch the movie, now that the finer nuances are revealed already?
Do. Especially if you want a roller coaster ride. One repeats those too, you know.