Monthly Archives: March 2010

The Chatter-Slaying Gossip

Me: Did you hear about the whole Sandra Bullock thing?

Friend (back from vacation): No! Did something happen to her?

Me: Her husband…

Friend: Jesse James? I love Monster Garage!

Me: Yeah, well, turns out he was cheating on Sandra with this skank called Bombshell McGee who’s a tattoo model and might be a bipolar neoNazi who likes to give the Nazi salute to her Jewish kid.

Friend: O_O

Thing I Learned: There is just no place for that conversation to go. Unless it’s to a be-tattooed foursome with someone named Skittles.

Shower. Now.


Posted by on March 31, 2010 in Celebrity, News, Newsmakers


It’s Hard Out There

That's right, bitches! S-R-I-D-E-V-I... (and slob)

… for an auntie. You know it. I mean, it’s always hard out there for a chick but as the menopause hits and the muffin top becomes an everyday reality rather than a sign of overindulgence, it just gets harder. Indian women, my mother and various other female relatives tell me, have it easier than their western counterparts because their clothes lend themselves to a spot of emergency artful arrangement when the occasion and the belly calls for it.

Couldn’t prove it by the crowd at the Filmfare Awards, though.

If life can be nerve wracking for us ordinary folk, tinsel town must a special sort of hell. Either you’re the frump who married one of the beautiful people or you’re one of the beautiful people who took a punch to the face from Old Man Time while you weren’t looking. Perhaps you are still one of the beautiful people in which case you’re surrounded by glimpses into your future.

Sign me up! NOT.

On Filmfare night, the younger crowd mixed it up by switching between glam and skank while the more mature ladies were mostly a disastrous mix of over-reaching ambition and what the HENGH? There were outfits that half-starved supermodels in their prime couldn’t have pulled off, and outfits that made you wonder if their stylists hated them.

For the full glory, click to enlarge:

[via Sulekha]


Posted by on March 29, 2010 in Celebrity, Entertainment, Newsmakers


Uncle Underpants

aka An Explanation for My Continued Distraction:

Raipur’s closest claim to fame, indeed the one time it had justified its dusty existence, lay in its Grand Bazaar. A smelly, crowded, barely two-lane road crisscrossed overhead by ominously looped electrical wires that had a bad habit of falling down the moment the wind so much as sneezed in their vicinity or were touched by the merest hint of rain, not even a blind man would have thought it grand. But the citizens of Raipur were proud of it all the same and the reason for it stood immortalized in crumbling stone on one end of the street, at the equally ambitiously named Roundabout where all three of the town’s roads staggered to a stop to gaze dutifully at the glories of the past as captured in statuary and the glories of the present as conveyed by the ugly yellow building of the Municipality office.

Originally designed as a fountain before the realities of water shortage brought the town to its senses, the statuary in question depicted a soldier in British uniform on a plunging horse being brought down by a horde of angry Indians in peasant gear as one Indian raised aloft a flag with a charkha on it. Constructed in the belligerently hopeful period right after Independence, it stood as an ode to Raipur’s patriotic history.

The story goes that when the Indian soldiers of the Raj began their revolt in 1857, a scout from the British Army rode through Raipur, looking for an escape route for his trapped comrades and their families. He got as far as the Grand Bazaar before a brave native stopped him in his tracks by throwing the first stone. Within minutes, he was dragged off his horse, severely beaten and killed. Whatever routes the British army took, Raipur wasn’t a part of it.

That was the official version, the one recorded on the plaque hammered into the foot of the dysfunctional fountain. The Mayor who’d commissioned it, Malik Sahib of the Bari Haveli, had added the flag to update the legend and marry that tale of a rebellious Awadh to the new nation. Nobody minded because what did one extra spin of the polishing cloth signify when the legend had already been burnished beyond recognition?

Because the truth of Raipur’s defiance was this: an albino mutineer from Meerut, out liberating a nearby cantonment from the tyranny of the British, had decided to pay his ladylove back in his village a visit now that he’d proved himself a hero. Drunk as a drum from celebrating their victory and wearing most of his war bounty, which included an officer’s hat, he’d lost his way in the dark and showed up in Raipur in the morning rather than his village, which lay further southwest. Upon stumbling into the Grand Bazaar, he’d disturbed the peaceful slumber of old Underpants Pandey, the town drunk. The two had exchanged a volley of friendly insults about each others’ mothers and Underpants Pandey had had the final word by throwing a stone at his foe’s head. No doubt the soldier would have ridden down old Underpants and gone on to meet his village belle if the commotion hadn’t attracted the unwelcome attentions of several local hotheads who’d been talking themselves into a frenzy about the rising revolution just the day before.

To wake up the day after to find a man in British uniform try to murder their beloved Uncle Underpants was too much. If anybody had a right to thump Uncle Underpants until he was shitting blood, surely it was them – the ones who had to wash his puke off their doorsteps and whose mothers frequently had to step over his corpse-like body on the way to the temple. What right did an Englishman have to come stomping into their town like this and try to kill Uncle Underpants under their very noses? If it wasn’t just like them! Roused to fury, they rushed to the aid of the bewildered Underpants Pandey and immediately tore the albino hero of the revolt to pieces.

By the time a shaken Underpants could bring anyone to listen to his side of the morning’s adventure, it was too late. The town elders decided this victory over the “English” would keep the young rebels at home, convinced they had to patrol their hometown and keep it safe from the rapacious white soldiers who were sure to follow their deceased compatriot. And so Raipur found its pride and its mothers heaved a sigh of relief as their cocky young blades marched up and down the Grand Bazaar. It could be argued that the real winner of the whole episode was the family of Underpants Pandey, who became a teetotaler overnight.


Posted by on March 28, 2010 in Fiction, Personal


A Lit Match

The ever-growing scandal about child abuse in the Catholic Church is gaining momentum. In addition to the United States, which made the headlines again this month about a cover-up at a school for the deaf (fair warning: this will make you want to stab a bitch), Ireland and Germany are struggling with emerging scandals of their own as are other European countries.

So far, the Church’s response has been something less than perfect. The Pope, whom most people are now blaming for much of the cover-up that took place during his time as Cardinal Ratzinger, expressed deep sympathy. It didn’t go over very well.

Andrew Sullivan, gay and Catholic, is especially not having it, following the story with the same zeal he has devoted to topics such as the Health Care Reform and Iran. In one of his many posts, he wrote:

So you objectify sex; and masturbate. You cannot have sexual or even emotional contact with a teenage girl, because it is simply impossible, and you certainly cannot have sex with another teenage boy […] so you have sex with images in your own head. Your sex life becomes completely solitary. It can be empowered by pornography or simply teenage imagination […] Many of these tormented men have arrested sexual and emotional development. They have never had a sexual or intimate relationship with any other human being. Sex for them is an abstraction, a sin, not an interaction with an equal. And their sexuality has been frozen at the first real moment of internal terror: their early teens.

Sullivan is writing about young Western gay men who enter the Catholic priesthood. But doesn’t it sound terribly familiar to conservatively brought up Indian ears?* Heterosexual, non-Catholic, male and female ears.

So how long, I thought, before this story finds resonance in India?

Like many a middle class and upper Indian, I have legions of family members who attended convent school, from my parents and their siblings to my brother and my cousins. Most of my friends have attended a Church-run institution at some point in their lives. It’s an inevitable part of the Indian cultural landscape. I’m one of the few who didn’t and I made up for it by attending a Catholic college.

The worst thing that ever happened to me was that the Vice Principal kicked us off the snacks area because we were too loud. (He came between me and my raspberry icelolly!) The worst thing that happened to my brother (and my cousins) was extreme corporal punishment. He got the shit beaten out of him for years on end, which is probably where he developed his advanced death stare with which he frightens people these days. Boarding school gives you skills. And pretty scary memories.

If it got worse than that for anybody, nobody’s talking. Yet. In a recent edit, the Indian Express raises a flag:

Simon Palathingal, a Catholic priest of the Salesian order, was convicted in 2004 of sexually abusing a boy by a Wisconsin court. The abuse happened in the early 1990s. The same man was vice-principal of a prominent Chennai school in the late Seventies and Eighties. Given its record it is possible that the church knew of his leanings and did nothing.

If paedophile priests got away with their crimes in countries with robust legal systems, think how much easier it would be in India, with its endemic corruption.

Here’s what I was thinking as I read that: God forbid. If the Church thinks it has a problem on its hands in the West with their “robust legal systems”, then it really doesn’t want to get caught up in a similar mess in India with “its endemic corruption” because India has a fatal tendency to set fire first and ask questions later. Just ask Graham Staines‘ widow.

Right wing Hindu organizations have long been targeting the Church about conversion (here’s a flashback from the innocent 90s). You can only imagine what they’d do with pedophilia thrown into the mix. It’s kindling just waiting for a stray spark to come its way.

Religion and sex are an irresistible combination for smut as more than one religion has found to its cost. And with Indian cable news being its current excitable self… If the Church really wants to protect itself, it needs to take responsibility and ownership before other people start casting its role for them. I hope I’m wrong but it is seriously not going to be pretty if this scandal hits India.

Especially for its real victims – the children who will end up becoming tabloid fodder and political pawns in a matter of seconds.

*I really need to do a post on the Indian female equivalent.


Posted by on March 27, 2010 in Life, News, Politics, Video


Lady Politicians Are Just Askin’ For It

Esteemed Indian logician and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav is very concerned:

If the women’s reservation bill were to be passed in its existing form, it would result in flooding the parliament and state legislatures with wives of government officials and women connected with big industrial houses, thereby provoking young men to indulge in eve-teasing.

As a member of Parliament, Mr. Yadav must know his colleagues better than the rest of us.  How wonderful it is to know that Indian democracy is so devoted to proper representation, it sees no difference between Parliament and the odd city street corner. It also sheds an interesting light on his family life: daughter in law Dimple is a budding seat warmer. Following his logic, Mr. Yadav is thus in favor of Ms. Dimple, er, coming to harm. Drama!

Meanwhile, his remarks deeply offended his former BFF and India’s supreme crusader for the honor and rights of women, Amar Singh:

“It is a sexist, Talibani and a cheap remark, which hurts womanhood.”…Singh claimed while the SP chief supports quota within quota for Muslim and OBC women, there have been instances when he has openly favoured “rich and good-looking” women within the party over those who came from humble backgrounds, while distributing party posts and tickets.

Constant companion and yesteryear hot babe Jaya Prada chimed in that nobody had ever said anything to her in Parliament. Someone tried it on with Hema Malini  and they were really, really sorry.*

* Only in my imagination.


Posted by on March 24, 2010 in Newsmakers, Politics


Pudding for Breakfast

30 might be creeping into view, but there are still a lot of things that make me look guiltily over the shoulder in case my mother is standing there with a glare on her face and a dire warning on her lips. Leaving the house, even down the stairs to get my newspaper, without wearing a bra or brushing my hair (Things Nice Girls Don’t Do); staying up late enough to spend the next day yawning (I’m a night owl, so that’s really late – you might call it morning, actually); skipping a meal or substituting ice cream for one (whatchu lookin’ at?); refusing to attend a family function because My Magic Headache made an appearance (happens all the time), etc.

Most of my guilt, however, comes from food. The heart wants what it wants, even if the stomach can’t really take it. Right now, for instance, I’m battling a suspicion that I’ve become allergic to dairy but I refuse to get tested or lay off it long enough to tell the difference – because dairy is right up there in The Good Stuff category. We’ll talk when you’ve found a way to make cheese and rasgullas out of soy milk. Tasty cheese and rasgullas.

Of all my meals, however, breakfast is the one with which I struggle the most. As a child, I needed to be out of the house by seven / half-past seven to catch the school bus and we found out early on that feeding me things at that hour of the day is enough to make me throw up all over the place. It’s probably psychological but I need it to be at least past eight before I can think about eating food. And it has to be vegetarian – I can’t face flesh first thing in the morning. Preferably savory, not sweet. Hot is a plus.

At home, this is easy. Ma makes the best South Indian breakfasts ever and I’m all good. On my own, I don’t like the ready made mixes (they taste funny) and it never comes out properly if I grind things up in a blender or food processor. For picky purists like me, you need a wet grinder – either human or machine. Which is a headache unto itself for various reasons. So…

Granola, pancakes and oatmeal with fruits is the ticket. I’d so much rather just skip it and go straight to lunch! But some days that’s just asking for trouble. So I have pudding instead. Technically, it’s french toast. Make it the way I do however…

Amrita’s French Toast Pudding


2 slices thickly cut bread (3 or 4 if thinly cut), preferably a couple of days old. If you’re in a position to get your hands on some challah, then there’s nothing like it.

1 egg (for upto 4 slices of thickly cut bread)

1 tsp sugar, heaped, per slice of bread (adjust to liking)

1/3 cup milk per slice of bread

Vanilla extract or other flavor to taste

Butter / ghee as needed (honestly, you’re eating custard for breakfast, substituting oil at this point is not just pointless, it’s ridiculous)

Nonstick pan (to save on both butter and washing up. Use a stove top grill if you’d rather)


In a wide bowl, whip together the egg and sugar until frothy and combined. Add milk and whip some more. Use a blender if you’re too lazy to break out the whisk in the morning. Stir in vanilla extract. Dip in slices of bread and soak thoroughly, coating either side before laying them aside. Reserve leftover eggy milk.

Heat pan and smear a little butter so it melts. Arrange slices(s) of bread so the pan isn’t too crowded to flip. Spoon some of the eggy mixture all over the bread. One to three tablespoons depending on the thickness and size of the slices. Lower heat and allow the bread to cook.

When the bread has caramelized to your satisfaction on one side (never more than a nice brown), pour another few tablespoons of the milk mixture on the bread and sprinkle some butter on top and immediately flip the slice. Be gentle when you do this because sometimes the bread becomes super soft as it absorbs the mix and starts to crumble.

The bread at this point will puff up like a balloon and you wonder if it’s going to splatter all over you. Relax. It’s just bursting with the weight of its deliciousness. This side will take approximately half the time the first side took to cook. Toast is done when both sides are golden brown.

Eat cold or warm and melty, with fruit or with a light dusting of sugar or maple syrup if you’re researching ways to get diabetes. Dee-lish! It’s not like you were going to live forever anyway.


Posted by on March 22, 2010 in Personal


Because I’m Evil

I giggled my way through this. Reminded me of an acquaintance who once locked her roommate’s nosey little cat into the shower cubicle after he’d tried to sneak in once too many times, and turned on the faucet. I kinda felt bad for the kitty because he couldn’t help being a cat, but… heh heh heh.

I mean, look at the possible outcome:

[And yes, this whole post was just an elaborate excuse to post that pic. Awwsies! :mrgreen:]


Posted by on March 18, 2010 in Life, News, Newsmakers, Video