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Monthly Archives: September 2008

Udderly Delicious

A few days ago DesiGirl’s elder offspring, the proud possessor of a brand new baby sister, was heard inquiring about this thing called “nipple cream“. I don’t know what DG’s been telling him, but Auntie Amrita would like to bring an alternative to his notice:

PETA wants world-famous Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream to tap nursing moms, rather than cows, for the milk used in its ice cream… saying it would reduce the suffering of cows and calves and give ice cream lovers a healthier product.

It’s the wave of the future. Cold, creamy, healthy, 100% Mommy. It’s what every loving mother should serve her child. If Ben & Jerry’s isn’t interested, perhaps a cottage industry should be established. Mothers working from home, expressing by the bucketload for the health of humanity and the ease of cows.

Imagine: every time you missed your mother and thought wistfully of the pleasures of home, you could open up your freezer, take out a container of Nipple Cream, and instantly reconnect. The Taste of Home! Real “homely” food. Awww!

It could also be a bonding experience! The family that dines off Mommy together is the family that sticks together, my friends. Forget those dark days of yore when jealous little eyes watched younger siblings blissfully suckling while they themselves were palmed off on nasty plastic bottles. No longer will husbands glare resentfully at this exclusive mother-child experience or skulk in the kitchen to sneak a taste of the forbidden goods (just like last night’s dinner, I hear).

And what of the wealth of little anecdotes this could give rise to? You know how people are always talking about the strange fancies of their pets? “My cat loves pizza” or “My dog will only eat Taco Bell”? Well, now Fifi and Fido might well take a fancy to a drop of Mommy. Dinner table conversation will never run dry again! “Ha ha, Fido is absolutely addicted!” you’d say as he ran deliriously around the table, begging for another taste.

Naysayers point out that production is a bit of an issue – where will we find enough human mothers to feed our ice cream addiction? To which I say “Pshaw!” because here’s the genius part of this idea – the part where we solve global poverty by employing all those Poors scattered around the world, eking out a living by breaking stones in between bouts of dying from malaria.

For years now, all across the globe (in New Orleans most recently), politicians have been asking an unmerciful God just one question: why do the Poors continue to multiply? Don’t they know they’re poor? Shouldn’t they meditate on that instead of, you know, living lives like the rest of us un-Poors?

But now! Now there is a solution! Take out cows, switch in Poors. Big Dairy, wishful of a uniform taste to their product, will take care of housing and feeding (the Poors, with proper training, could possibly handle the milking on their own. Income, amazingly enough, doesn’t affect humanoid characteristics like opposable thumbs), which will immediately give the Poors access to a better way of life than they have thus far been accustomed. Healthcare will also be provided and, given what veterinarians charge these days (I’m told), Big Dairy will probably find it a bargain.

And in return, the world will get creamy, healthy milk from our own kind.

Let “Mothers First” be our motto as we take our ice cream back. Why should cows have all our benefits? Especially after all their incessant farting caused global warming. Mothers fart less. In fact, mothers don’t fart at all. Ask your mother if you don’t believe me.

 
25 Comments

Posted by on September 30, 2008 in Fiction, Life, News, Newsmakers

 

Run(a)way Fashion

Fuck!! They forgot to take my curlers out!

Fuck!! They forgot to take my curlers out!

Rohit Bal shows his latest collection. My eyes go on strike.

Never mind that! I weigh 80 lbs - how'd he give me a paunch?

Excuse me, my legs are NOT diseased!

But at least his mother now knows where her egg whisks went.

No, you can't "borrow" me for an omelet.

 
16 Comments

Posted by on September 28, 2008 in Entertainment

 

Top Ten Paul Newman

I first saw Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid but the movie in which he really caught my attention was one that most people might well consider one of his lesser works: a Cold War spy thriller called The Prize, in which he played a cynical writer who wins the Nobel Prize for Literature but soon finds himself embroiled in things far beyond his ken. It’s formulaic and it’s breezy fun, and while I’d love to say that I was transfixed by his performance, the truth is, there was a towel. A rather small white one that he put on when he found himself stuck at a nudists’ conference. Ahem. God bless the Scandinavians and their quaint customs.

Anyway, I was hooked. It was my first full-blown crush and Paul Newman was it. Forever. Sure, he was old enough to be my grandfather but that’s the magic of the movies: he was always going to be that hot young man in a towel for me. Others want to see their idols off-screen – I have never wanted to mix up my fantasy (so perfect!) with reality (frequently disappointing). But if ever I was tempted to break the rule, Paul Newman would have been the man I broke it for.

I’m sure he wasn’t perfect, but you couldn’t prove it by write ups like these.

Trying to compile a top ten list of Paul Newman movies, therefore, is like trying to choose your favorite child – in a career spanning over 50 years, he made so many wonderful movies that I really don’t think it’s possible to come up with a definitive list. There will always be personal favorites, hidden gems, bones of contention. So I’ve decided to throw objectivity out the window and present ten of my favorite Newman movies.

Note: I haven’t included his directorial efforts (though Rachel, Rachel is one of the most poignant movies I’ve ever seen) or his later work as a character actor, even though I’ve always felt that his work only continued to improve, not decline.

1. Cool Hand Luke – You’ve probably heard the hype. Believe it. The beauty of this movie is that its focus is so claustrophobic (man’s struggle against authority staged within the confines of a prison camp) but it’s interpreted in so many ways as the movie takes you ever deeper into the tiny world inhabited by the characters. And although there is a great deal of explicit violence, it’s what’s going inside the men that stays with you. Of course, that said, there isn’t a scene in this movie that doesn’t stay with you.

2. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof – Maggie, hustling to keep her marriage together; Brick, trying to keep himself together; and a family battling love, greed and pain as one man’s mortality hits all of them in the face.

3. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – Perfection. It’s always hard to find fault with the movies of your childhood but you have to admit, if you wanted to poke holes in a kid’s favorite movie, this wouldn’t be the one you’d pick. The best part about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is that it’s one of those rare movies that grows with you. There’s always something new to notice. And when you’ve seen it a million times, as I have, it becomes a comfort-movie – one of those blessed movies that make you feel good even if does leave you with a bittersweet ache in your heart.

4. The Long, Hot Summer – Steamy romances don’t get any steamier than this. Based on a rather dry short story of a man suspected to be a barnburner (just about the most filthy thing a man could be apparently), The Long Hot Summer is the story of a man who might be the son of the barnburner of the short story. Joanne Woodward’s repressed Southern schoolmarm and Newman’s hustler on the make with the requisite Southern family dynamics thrown in, make for a riveting movie. I don’t think I know a woman who doesn’t love it to bits.

5. Hud – If you’ve ever asked yourself the question, Could I possibly love a complete bastard? I suggest you wait to answer until you’ve had a chance to catch Hud. He’s a self-centered son of a bitch with few morals and even less conscience. But it’s hard to watch him pull off shit like the stunt below and not find yourself reluctantly attracted to him. Of course, there’s no way any of it can end well – coz the man is completely toxic. But you can hope and pretend for a little while. He makes it so easy too.

6. The Sting – There are very few movies that can even begin to match The Sting for its complexity and sheer fun. Think Ocean’s Eleven but better, much better.

7. The Verdict – The moment you see an alcoholic lawyer on screen, you know there’s trouble in the offing. And so it is in The Verdict, where Newman’s character pushes a lawsuit that nobody wanted to see pushed to trial. His motives in doing so are more than a little suspect, but as things turn out, it might just be his one shot at redemption. Courtroom dramas aren’t always my thing, but this movie definitely belongs on this list.

8. Harper – Lauren Bacall has this trick of overshadowing her co-stars. Even into her old age, it’s a rare co-star who can match her charisma. Newman is one of those few and that too in a movie set in the genre that Bogey and Bacall uniquely made their own.

9. The Prize – Evil Russians, scientists, defections, hot blondes, the Nobel Prize, a writer embittered by the fact that all his critical acclaim hasn’t actually made him a success at what he does… it could all have been a re-hash of Torn Curtain (which I like by the way, but can’t accommodate here due to space constraints) but it isn’t.

10. Sweet Bird of Youth – Yet another Tennessee Williams adaptation, this is one of those movies that I’ve always been sure that I disliked intensely… but could never forget. Chance and Heavenly (and for that matter every other character in this movie) are simultaneously pitiful and repellent, and are such a car wreck together that you can’t look away.

R.I.P. Paul Newman

check out more photographs at Vanity Fair

 
5 Comments

Posted by on September 27, 2008 in Celebrity, Entertainment, Movies, News, Video

 

The Gays! The Gays Are Coming!

Earlier this week, there were a couple of stories floating around about how India was going to maybe, perhaps, actually, in the realm of possibility, could be considering, repealing a 148-year-old British Raj law that criminalizes gay sex. This was mainly because gay activists got sick and tired of waiting for the government to do something and decided to nudge matters a little by moving the court.

In response, India’s Home Ministry, recently in the news for the Home Minister’s efforts to dazzle the country with his sartorial magnificence while Delhi burned, has made its position clear:

Gay sex is immmoral and a reflection of a perverse (rpt perverse) mind and its decriminalisation would lead to moral degradation of society…”Homosexuality is a social vice and the state has the power to contain it,” the government contended. “It (decriminalising homosexuality) may create breach of peace. If it is allowed then evils of AIDS and HIV would further spread and harm the people. It would lead to big health hazard. It would degrade moral values of society,” Additional Solicitor General P P Malhotra contended.

Please. Hold your shock and awe. Anybody who didn’t see this coming a mile off (including all those media people who were all “OMG, this is the Change We’ve Been Waiting For”) were either seriously delusional or must have taken a few too many hits of the bong.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry, under the one man anti-smoking brigade known as Anbumani Ramadoss, feels differently:

Enforcement of Section 377 can adversely contribute to pushing the persons suffering from HIV underground which would make such risky sexual practices go unnoticed,” said an affidavit filed by the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO), which comes under the health ministry.

Well, isn’t that nice of the Health Ministry to point out. But I guess taking a stand against the Congress’ favorite Oldie Mouldie in a Safari Suit a.k.a. Shivraj Patil, is quite different from kicking out recalcitrant AIIMS directors and harassing movie stars.

On the other hand, we have people like Ashley tellis who outlines exactly what’s at stake here:

Section 377 does not actively name gay sex; nor is it only about gayness. It is an abstractly worded section speaking about “acts against the order of nature”, (which can also cover oral sex between heterosexual partners, for example) and, in practice, is used in all sorts of cases, including child-sex abuse. Child sexual abuse clearly deserves its own law, mainly to distinguish paedophilia from homosexuality. The two phenomena are totally different, but are conflated in the popular imagination as well as the illiterate Indian State’s imagination, seen recently in the official response to Health Minister Ramadoss’ recent call for the repeal of Section 377, which was met with alarmist references to “sick” practices like child sexual abuse going unpunished if 377 was removed. Homosexuality is alive and well as a sickness in the popular imagination.

Obviously, with views like that, Tellis is not an elected official of any kind and does not work for a government agency. He is simply your average tax payer who could be sent to jail because the Home and Law Ministries are disinclined to do their given job and draft a law that would specifically target crime because it’s so much easier to let things stand after all the work the British have put in on our behalf.

And why should the Ministries bother themselves with things like this anyway? It’s not like India is a growing hub for child trafficking or anything of that sort. Is it?

But the gays! The gays are gonna get your childruns! In some mysterious way! (To be decided upon by the Indian State as and when convenient.) So now you know.

 
12 Comments

Posted by on September 26, 2008 in Life, News

 

The Miracle of Powder

My grandmother, says one of my aunts who is old enough to remember, was a very stylish woman in her youth. I only remember her years of widowhood, so I can only imagine what it must have been like, but I’m inclined to believe my aunt given the evidence of her talcum powder.

My aunts would get her fancy compacts with little mirrors in them and every time the sisters got together there was always an impromptu make-up lesson with the lot of them exchanging tips on technique: blending, brushing, smudging and so on. Grandma would listen with great interest but her first love remained her bottle of talcum powder.

Everyday, twice a day, sometimes thrice if she had nothing better to do, she would sit in her favorite armchair by her bed, and swirl a big powder puff around its battered pot (faithfully refilled from a giant bottle every two days by her devoted sister) and brush it all over her face. After repeating this over and over again for five minutes, she’d stop and flick her head at her sister, who’d pick up a hand mirror and show her her reflection. If no hint of natural color remained, she would sit back, satisfied and go on to other things. Otherwise, it was back to the powder. She had very fair skin to begin with, but by the time she’d rubbed powder into it for eighty years, it’d turned a sort of pasty white and the powder itself had resisted all efforts of soap and water (of which there was plenty because she was a germaphobe) and managed to integrate itself into her skin.

If you touched her face, it felt like parchment paper except it was really soft and smelled of roses. At times you felt, if you watched her long enough, you would see her face flake, powder and crumble away. Not in a creepy way, though – it all felt fascinating and wonderful.

The un-fascinating and un-wonderful part of it came during the summer holidays when I’d look up and find her intently studying my face. “Why can’t you put on a little powder?” she’d say once she was sure she had my attention.

“Uh, I don’t want to.”

“Little girls in Madras always powder their faces,” she’d counter.

“I don’t live in Madras,” i’d point out the obvious.

“They powder their face, line their eyes, wear a nice bindi and put flowers in their hair,” she’d continue rapturously as if I hadn’t said anything.

“That’s nice,” I’d say. Well, what else could I say? “Gee, Grandma, have they ever thought of suing their parents for cruelty to dumb children” would not have gone down too well. Although it must be admitted that there really was no adequate response when she was in one of these moods.

“Nice?” she’d scoff, ignoring my extremely noble attempts to humor her. “What do you know about nice? Just look at you!”

In all fairness, I wasn’t going through my most spiffy period right then. The onset of adolescence hadn’t brought about any desire to become a hooker or turn into a junkie (I really have to stop watching Lifetime and Hallmark) but I would frequently refuse to brush my hair, figuring I’d done my duty by shampooing it, and my idea of a nice outfit could be very simply explained as “the opposite of whatever my mother thought appropriate”.

So I’d hunch my shoulders and return to my book. Sometimes Ma would wander in and be caught in the crossfire.

“It’s a judgment on you,” Grandma would observe with satisfaction. “Your daughter is just like you!”

Ma would look daggers at me – an empty threat, I knew. When the mood came upon her mother, she could find just about anything to complain about. I was just a handy excuse.

“Why don’t you teach her something?” Grandma would go on.

Once or twice I’d make a tactical mistake and tell Ma about the plans Grandma had drawn up for me. “She wants to put big orange flowers in my hair after drenching it in coconut oil and plaster my face with talcum powder,” I’d complain when the cribbing became unbearable and manners forbade me from giving a 70-something year old a piece of my mind.

This, of course, would immediately tickle my mother’s funny bone and she’d spend the next half hour teasing me about it, while simultaneously making my grandmother think she was on her side. “And what is wrong with that?” she’d ask. “We’ll start with the top of your head. We’ll dribble some warm oil and it’ll drip down – drip drip drip,” she’d emphasize, knowing just how much I hate the feel of grease dripping on to my skin. “And when it’s slowly trickled down your face, I’ll massage it into your cheeks. Rub it on your forehead. Maybe smear some on your neck. It’ll make your skin soft and supple.”

Grandma would nod approvingly.

Finally, I would be forced to either carry the attack into the enemy camp by making fun of them or get up and leave the room. Even worse was when Grandma would start talking about my lack of girl-smarts when her other daughters were in the room.

“Look at her,” she’d command like I was some kind of particularly repellent venom-oozing caterpillar. “Look!”

Dutifully, the rest of them would turn to me and look.

“Why can’t she put on some powder at least?” she’d moan like she was asking me to remove a dagger from her chest.

My aunts would look me over carefully as I belligerently stared back at them from under my wild tangle of hair.

“Well, yes, you could put on some powder,” one of them would finally say in a disinterested voice, saying the expected thing.

A weak chorus of assent would go up but that was enough to put Ma on the defensive.

“You don’t know how difficult it is to bring up a daughter,” she’d inform them, full of the righteous indignation of One Who Has A Female Child Unlike The Other Unfortunates In Front Of Her.

That would vanquish the aunts but my grandmother, who’d pretty much brought up six girls on her own, was another story entirely.

“Nonsense!” she’d thunder. “You are simply not strict enough with her.”

At which point they would invariably remember all those occasions in my infanthood when they’d tried to be strict with me and all discussion would come to an abrupt halt. I’ll tell you one thing – when you’re a baby, go ahead and have a filthy temper. It’ll hold you in good stead amongst your family members when you’re older. You can always curb it later. Just remember to be charming and cute and giggly and affectionate when you’re not throwing a tantrum, so they don’t “accidentally” drown you in the tub or something.

How odd then, that one of the first times I felt truly adult was when I bought a bottle of talcum powder. It might not reach the levels of kabuki my grandmother would have approved of, but guess what? It really keeps the dreaded grease out.

 
17 Comments

Posted by on September 23, 2008 in Life, Personal

 

Lost in Translation

Fiddle dee dee!

Fiddle dee dee!

This is Evangeline Lilly. She is a beautiful woman – downright gorgeous, in fact – and I like her even if she does date hobbits and annoys me endlessly on Lost.

But that is one fugly dress. If they made Gone With the Wind today, that is the dress Scarlett would make out of her mother’s dining room drapes. Which apparently proves I have no fashion sense. Sigh.

Of course, compared to some of the other attendees at the 2008 Emmy Awards, she was absolutely brilliant:

PS: Just in case you didn’t catch that last reference:

 
7 Comments

Posted by on September 22, 2008 in Celebrity, News, Newsmakers, Television

 

All Around the Mulberry Bush

Haven’t we been here before? That’s what I thought all last week whenever I switched on the television, logged on to the internet or picked up a newspaper. Financial crash, terror strikes, bigotry at full cry, and politics as usual.

Should I even bother to write about this anymore? Because I really have nothing new to say but: terrorism is bad, punishing innocents for crimes of others is bad, targeting citizens of own country is bad, politicians putting politics first is bad, and would somebody please give me a head’s up before we go back to the barter system because I’d like to learn an useful trade like carpentry or weed-farming before that, thanks.

I mean, do you really need me to chip in and confirm that yes, the world’s going to hell in a handbasket? What’s the point? Consider:

Naxalites attack common citizenry all along the center and east coast of India. Thousands have died, including policemen and other state officials. Their attacks don’t make the news the way attacks by jihadi groups do (because that would mean someone, somewhere would have to actually admit there’s a fucking problem), but it can be argued that they are by far more dangerous because they’re fellow Indians, fighting the Indian government, recruiting from and attacking Indian citizens across religions, caste and regional lines.

Who knew their biggest strike would be against an octogenarian Swami that nobody had heard of?

So, in reply, the Bajrang Dal and other Sangh Parivar-minded people are burning churches and attacking Christians in Orissa, as well as incidental bystanders like orphans. Why? Because the Swami thought the Christians were out to get him and because the Maoists frequently recruit from the local Christian populace (which, like most Naxal recruitment pools, is dirt poor and were once lower-caste Hindus), so the conspiracy theory was A) The Maoists are basically Christians in commie robes who need to be taught a lesson, failing which B) The Maoists must have carried out the hit to “please” their Christian base who need to be taught a lesson.

Are you surprised? After what their like did to Graham Staines and his children?

Taking heart from their brethren in Orissa, the activities spread south and now it’s Karnataka’s turn. In case you’re feeling left out, don’t worry. Given how the Indian government works, by the time everybody’s done wringing their hands, the jolly fellows will be whooping it up in your neighborhood too.

So let’s see, we have Pakistan going up in flames next door (which a number of idiots apparently find pleasing because all India needs right now is an unstable nuclear-armed state camped on its doorstep with American forces establishing bases in it, while China looks on belligerently), Indians are setting up jihadi outfits and bombing shopping centres, Sri Lanka’s civil war continues to simmer and boil, Nepal is a shining example of success to every Naxal outfit in India… and conversion to Christianity is the big threat the Sangh Parivar would like to battle.

Because, if a poor person finds things like self-respect, education, and dignity, all achievable in this life instead of one several lifetimes from now attractive, then there must be some kind of trick in it obviously. Poor people – such idiots really. It’s like they don’t know what’s good for them. Like they can’t think for themselves.

What can one say to that, really?

[pic source]

 
4 Comments

Posted by on September 21, 2008 in Life, Politics