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Monthly Archives: April 2010

Pop Went the Popsicle

Pop Went the Popsicle

The thing that shocked me the most about moving to America was when my friends would turn on the kitchen tap, fill a glass, and drink it. Water in our house was directly channeled through a filtration system before it was boiled to kingdom come, cooled, poured into sterilized bottles and stashed in the fridge. A separate batch was poured boiling hot into a thermos flask for my mother who insists on boiling her insides irrespective of the weather.

My greatest rebellion, the way I see it, was when I went to camp and drank my fill from a nearby tap like all the other care for nobodies around me, against the strict instructions of my parents. Of course, the Gods immediately felled sinful me with a mighty bout of flu and I landed in the hospital. But by then camp was over and I had other things to worry about like that perennial gift of camps everywhere: lice.

[Yes, my life is exactly that lame. Sorry.]

My very first memory of hospitals is from when I was barely four – I pigged out on contraband popcorn and my stomach rebelled. The resultant projectile vomiting was unpleasant but what followed was worse. Apparently the only way to treat a four year old with popcorn poisoning in 80s South India is to shove all sorts of tubes down her nose and stick her with IVs. Personally, I think the doctor must have been pissed coz he got dragged out of bed in the middle of the night and was trying to scare my parents into keeping a beadier eye on me.

If he’d been trying to warn me off popcorn, he definitely didn’t succeed. But hoo boy, did he teach my mother about the evils of popcorn. To this day I can barely munch a single kernel in her presence before she starts making noises about how its going to land me in the hospital.

The only good thing that came out of the whole experience is that my dad bribed me into staying still and convinced me that this was a Fun Thing for us to do as a family by buying me bucketloads of popsicles. The kind that come in a plastic tube and are probably filled with ice from the morgue? Or as I like to call it – the best kind. Raspberry and orange were my favorites. Of course, they were also the only flavors he ever bought me (or were available for that matter) but I loved them all the same.

The raspberry was a dark magenta and tasted like cough syrup. I’ve never understood why raspberry is such a hot flavor in India – I don’t think I ever saw it in its natural state until I left the country. Strawberries make so much more sense. But there it is, in everything from ice cream to jello. Is it some kind of colonial hangover?

The orange was a virulent shade of neon and was basically like sucking on a mild, iced lemon. You know how Rasna made the orange taste so much more orange-y than an actual orange could ever be? This made the orange taste less orange-y than the most withered, water-logged orange could ever be. And yet! So delicious!

The secret ingredient was obviously some cancer-causing chemical engineered to turn to children into mindless slaves. Or maybe dead people. Who knows! I can’t find them on the market these days. They’re probably banned.

Which was the bad news my father brought me that day as I lay on my hospital bed, eagerly awaiting the by-now de rigeur bribe of popsicles. Oh, the things those little goodies have convinced me to do – let them stick needles in my arm, tubes down my nose, push me into claustrophobic scanners that resemble coffins… No more.

I looked at the rectangular thing in my hand. “What is this?”

“It’s an ice cream bar,” my father said, refusing to look me in the eye.

I unwrapped it. “It’s an ice lolly.”

Now I’m not philosophically opposed to the idea of a ice on a stick but the whole point of the hospital experience was to suck it out of a plastic tube. Didn’t he know anything?

“Why don’t you eat it?” he asked, already hovering at the door.

“Where is my popsicle?”

“EAT WHATEVER YOU LIKE, YOU STUPID CHILD!” he yelled preemptively and dashed out the door.

I looked at my mother, laughing hysterically on the couch.

“Oh baby,” she said, patting me consolingly. “They don’t sell those anymore. In fact, they tore down that shop from which you father used to buy them. And those are the only things they carry in the supermarket.”

And that is how I found out that my childhood was losted. Isniff.

[pic source]

 
11 Comments

Posted by on April 29, 2010 in Life, Personal

 

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Changeabout! (Update)

That’s right, I’m changing the blog theme again. Still figuring out the finer details like how to make video show up on the home page and post full length posts instead of making you click through. Tell me if you hate it.

I’m sorry for all of you who hate change and I’ll try to make it as painless as possible but I’ve decided I don’t like this one at all. I have itchy eyes! I can’t help it.

Maybe it’s some new kind of menopause? It’s all about the uterus around here.

Go read Aparna‘s new webmag while I fiddle around. It’s awesome and about time. Here’s an excerpt from my post on “Bollywood’s Working Women“:

In a country where “homely” is the ultimate womanly virtue, it’s only to be expected that its most popular cinema would prefer its heroines be, in a most lady-like manner, unemployed. Over the years, Bollywood movies have slowly built up to the position that work is something women do when they have no other option (grinding poverty is a favorite cause) unless they’re “man-hating feminists”. This might serve to explain why prostitution is such a common profession in the movies, emphasizing the ‘degrading’ nature of the working experience.

Update: I haven’t had a dark theme in two years even though I love them so, in case I drove everyone blind trying to read the font in one of my usual verbose posts. Please let me know if this is hard on the eyes and I’ll switch back to white. The other thing is that video doesn’t show up on the main page. Sigh. I might just go to something more simple and efficient.

 
15 Comments

Posted by on April 27, 2010 in Entertainment, Movies, Personal, Video

 

Kirkit Kirkit Kirkit

Kirkit Kirkit Kirkit

What’s up with all this kirkit business? Everyone seems to have lost their mind.

The way everybody and their father’s newspaper is weeping and wailing, you’d think they thought the IPL stood for the Indian Prayer League and it was a charitable institution built to eradicate India’s poverty problem by harnessing the power of cricket. How can you have sat through three years of the cheese-laden spectacle of the IPL and not known there was massive amounts of money at play? And that eventually it was going to go down in flames of Biblical proportions? I have a rule: the moment an entity’s success becomes evident enough for the mainstream media to take note, scandal must be right around the corner. Like night follows day.

And really, what exactly is the scandal here? That a cabinet minister has a social-climbing girlfriend and the new czar of mega-bucks cricket is a crookish brat? Good Golly, Miss Molly, say I, clutching my pearls.

Let’s talk Shashi Tharoor for a second: a man less suited to be a politician in India, especially of the Congress kind, I’ve seldom seen. I’m too young to remember when Amitabh Bachchan flamed out of Parliament, but I suspect even he was a more competent Congressman than Tharoor, who’s apparently never heard the Congress motto – “Lie low and prosper long.”

So you’re smart, funny and like the ladies? Throw discreet little dinner parties and show off in front of your friends. Word will eventually trickle down to the hoi polloi that you’re awesome and they’ll never know it’s because you and your girlfriend do an amazingly caliente mambo when the booze is at full flow. Does that suck? Is it a terrible system designed to hide the real face of our beloved leaders from the public? Not to mention their twinkle toes and mad moves? You betcha. But if you want to be a cabinet minister, then them’s the breaks.

Remember how you and your friends at the UN used to bitch about the member countries being such pains-in-the-ass? Well, guess what? Now you’re part and parcel of the circus that runs the memberiest of those member countries. I bet it sounded like a sweet career move on paper, but you just signed on to a pit of vipers.

And then there’s Lalit Modi. Is he a crook? Probably. I can’t think of even a handful of business people anywhere in the world who got to be successes at Modi’s level without getting their hands dirty at some point. And that saintly handful who float above the rest probably hire people who’ll roll in the dirt on their behalf for the right amount.

The problem with Modi is either hubris or idiocy. Did he really think he wouldn’t get audited at some point? With the kind of cash he was presiding over? Or that he could pick a fight with a cabinet minister and not get raided? If I’d been him, I’d have kept my nose cleaner than surgical tools just in case. My accounts would have been a thing of beauty, worthy of preservation in the Museum of Chartered Accountancy. What’s that you say? There’s no such thing? Well, they’d have built one to house my records once they got a look at them.

[Digression: why is that, do you think, that crooks don’t think of a CA as their primary investment? I’m assuming the motive to be a crook would be A) Money, which leads to B) Power, which leads to even more money. The kind of vicious cycle every crookster dreams of. But it’s the dough that brings you down, fool. I’d think a fantastic CA is worth even more than an amazing enforcer because you need the former to safeguard the moolah to pay off your gang of bad guys. Sigh. Crime would have totally been my game if only it wasn’t such a lot of hard work. I’ve never understood why they call it Easy Street. As if.]

But apart from possible financial improprieties, the whole notion of which are a joke given nobody really knows what the hell is going on in BCCI proper (let me guess, politicians are keen on cricket because they’re great sportspeople as the stellar state of our national sport, hockey, proves), what exactly is the song and dance about? Some serious looking people say this is all very sad because it brings “the game’s name into disrepute”. If match-fixing and lame-ass cheerleaders shaking their ass to Bollywood numbers didn’t do it, sweetheart, I don’t think you have anything to worry. And yet, everybody from the paati cheering Dhoni to the munna egging on Sachin is having hysterics – but why?

Going by the similar Modi bios in sources as diverse as Outlook and The Mumbai Mirror, which also arrive at pretty much the same conclusion, it appears Modi’s greatest crime is that he’s a rich brat who got even richer and didn’t even have the grace to be humble about it. Well, that’s never happened before. Cry me a river.

Perhaps more than any other country, India is quite well-acquainted with the Girl Scout model of business. You know what I mean: when the scouts have (delicious) cookies to sell, the first stop is always friends and family and then the neighborhood. Obviously, there is a difference between the Girl Scout economy and the IPL one. A vast one. But the point is, in a country where family-owned business are still the norm, where politics is a dynastic exercise, it is beyond hypocritical to act as though Modi invented the whole sell to your family system. The richest .01% of India who own every stone on every pavement from Leh to Kanyakumari are an incredibly incestuous lot.

Read the various Modi bios, and you’d come away thinking he was the only rich brat to enter the hallowed halls of cricket in India. Hooey. Take a look at the BCCI: it’s where industrialists go to practice their power moves. From AC Muthiah (currently suing Modi’s reported bete noir and his own arch rival N. Srinivasan of India Cements for his allegedly unethical ownership of Chennai Super Kings. His cousin and Home Minister P. Chidambaram has reportedly been tasked with untangling the IPL mess) to Jagmohan Dalmiya to Sharad Pawar, each of them is “connected” up the wazoo.

Consider, for instance, Modi’s interim replacement: Chiriyu Amin. From their super-rich industrialist fathers to their privileged upbringing, there’s little to choose between the two. The only son of Ramanbhai Amin of Alembic pharmaceuticals is not exactly an inoffensive wonk who plodded his way up the ladder.

The only real difference between them is that Modi, younger and infinitely more flamboyant, is the perfect product of the brash 80s, combining cocaine, assault, an Ivy League education, and general uselessness with elan and doing it right in the open. Meanwhile Amin is the kid from the 60s who sneaks off to deserted balconies of posh hotels in the middle of parties to discreetly down tumblers of Scotch and mutton kebabs so that his vegetarian teetotaller parents don’t catch him.

This is why Modi is an enfant terrible, while Amin is a gentleman. India might make noises about young blood and change and blah blah, but there is a System and you’d have to pry it out of the cold dead hands of aged uncle-jis before they let you mess with it. And then beware the wrath of their minions, racing to take up where their mentors left off.

The funny thing about this whole brouhaha is that Modi and Tharoor are really two sides of the same coin (here’re their statements after getting kicked in the nuts: Tharoor, Modi. Boil it down and what do you see? They’re just two misunderstood patriots, y’all!). Both of them were brought down by their hubris; their conviction that they were unique enough and valuable enough that they could skate on consequences. That’s the problem with both: the Golden Kid and the Kid with Gold. Neither of them has any real understanding of their place.

The plus factor, of course, is that nothing bad ever happens to them. Tharoor will be back and he’ll have learned enough to mind his girlfriends. Modi will be back too and he’ll have learned enough to mind his tweets.

Meanwhile, there is this whole country full of pressing problems and all sorts of crookery emanating from the highest levels of government and nobody cares because the biggest problem facing India today is apparently Lalit Modi’s outrageous spa habit.

Cricketainment. Needs a fucking rest.

 
9 Comments

Posted by on April 26, 2010 in Entertainment, Life, News, Newsmakers, Politics

 

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Agony Aunt for a Day

Agony Aunt for a Day

Well, this shouldn’t get me blocked or relentlessly spammed or anything.

If any of you are reading this on a public computer or in front of eagle-eyed colleagues or nosy children and are sensitive about written words, you might want to come back to it at a later date. Fair warning.

You see… I have found a previously unexplored, terrific corner of my favoritest rag ever: The Mumbai Mirror. A tabloid so awful, they give Ekta Mata a run for her money (so fabulous, I actually cared about the IPL for the quick minute it took me to read that!). Home to journalism so scurrilously yellow, they provoked a Bachchan blackout (never mind, ToI, you can read his blog instead). Joy!

So what is this new section of the newspaper? The Sexpert, of course! They say every publication finds the readers it deserves (note: I don’t think they say that, whoever ‘they’ might be), and going by the letters The Sexpert has the, um, honor to answer, The Mumbai Mirror is certainly a strong case in point.

Now The Sexpert probably knows what he’s doing – it certainly sounds like it. But that doesn’t mean, I can’t butt in and offer some plain speaking, does it? Welcome to the internet. Here’s The Sexpert Alternative at work for you:

I am a 20-year-old man. I want to know the importance of pubic hair. I have lots of pubic hair all over my body and I want to remove them temporarily. How will it affect my body if I remove all the pubic hair?

Awww, I’m sure the girlfriend didn’t mean it when she said you were a giant dick. As for the importance of it – well, I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this but if you take it off, you’ll fall apart. Pubic hair acts like duct tape for your skin. Truth.

I am 37 years old. For one-and-a-half months, I have noticed that my foreskin does not pull back due to dryness. I have also noticed a white-ish-cream layer below the foreskin, which is dry. When I pull back the foreskin, I feel extreme pain and cracks appear on the ring. They hurt when I bathe. I find it difficult to have sex. What medicine should I apply?

Dude! Your peepee has been broken for a month and a half and your solution is to write letters to the paper? When you go to the hospital, ask them for a psych consult.

I am 50 years old and my partner is 58. We are on the foreplay level, but recently, by accident I inserted my penis briefly into her vagina. I experienced a mild burning sensation for one day, all over the penis. Could this be because she is diabetic?

“By accident”? Are you 15 or 50? And what do you mean, is it because she’s diabetic? Like a sugar burn? Look up STD, definition of. And invest in condoms.

I am 34 years old and have been married for nine years. Even though I am slim and attractive, my husband does not prioritise our sex life. Right from the beginning of the marriage, we’ve been doing it only once every two or three months. Then too, it’s very routine. He has never performed oral sex on me or masturbated me with his fingers, etc. Do we need to see a marriage counsellor or a sex therapist I don’t want to cause him discomfort.

Darling. He’s gay.

 
16 Comments

Posted by on April 24, 2010 in Entertainment, Fiction, Life

 

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True Love

Never a better example. :mrgreen:

Presented without comment because you don’t mess with genius.

[via Blame it on the Voices. Thanks Jan!]

 
21 Comments

Posted by on April 21, 2010 in Entertainment, Life, Video

 

Scotch Spot

Scotch Spot

Perhaps Christina Hendricks ought to land up in photoshop hell more often if it gives us interviews like this one. I find it hard to disagree with any of it except for that whole Facebook thing because look, I’m part of this brand new thing called Gen Mix apparently? I guess this post is proof of it because it features a celebrity? Anyhoo, we’re all online and social networking like spayed bunnies caught up in The Matrix and there’s nothing we can do about it unless we blow everything up and risk a war with the machines. It’s how we know we’re alive. </Philosophy!>

Er. Never mind. What was I saying?

The point she makes about ordering scotch definitely struck a chord. When I think of men and what makes them adult enough to be interesting to me, it’s a psychological stew of early childhood memories. So it helps if he has a deep voice, is tall, drinks scotch and smokes first thing in the morning while reading newspapers by a dew-wet lawn. It is precisely that specific a combination of my father and grandfather.

[Well, alright, maybe he shouldn’t start dipping into the good stuff until later in the day, and then never to the point where he’s drunk. Learn to hold your liquor, men. A friend of mine once told me a completely horrendous thing – her friends “drank to puke”. Why would you spend good money on prime alcohol to taste your own bile? Bulimics are waggling their forefingers and jeering. It makes no sense. But she lived in Dubai and I figured they needed to find their entertainment where they found it.]

I don’t particularly want to think of my grandpa as a sexy beast but he certainly did have all that monotone business going on. And I strongly associate strength and comfort with tobacco smoke – right up until the moment the doctor told my dad to quit or die, it was how I knew the sun was out and there was a mug of warm Ovaltine on the way.

Ovaltine and nicotine = a match made in heaven. Until they invite their friends diabetes and emphysema to come trash the house, I guess.

So basically, men, read what my imaginary celeb friend Christina has to say because it’s all true. The end.

 
8 Comments

Posted by on April 19, 2010 in Celebrity, Life, Personal

 

Ugly Betty‘s Lovely Ending

<i>Ugly Betty</i>‘s Lovely Ending

So who else watched Ugly Betty‘s series finale? Just me, huh? Sigh.

2006 was a great year for American scripted television. It saw the debut of personal favorites 30 Rock, Dexter, Big Love, Friday Night Lights, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (shut up!), and Ugly Betty. Not to mention fan favorites such as Jericho, Eureka, Brothers & Sisters and Psych among others that I don’t really care about. Of course, it also gave us Hannah Montana, Flavor of Love and The Hills but Ace of Cakes and Top Chef make up for that, I think. Let us pretend, anyway.

Four years later, 30 Rock and Dexter are going as strong as ever although it’ll be interesting to see how far and how long they can keep it up on the latter. Friday Night Lights could never quite match up to that perfect first season that about 10 of us watched alongside every single TV critic, but this red headed step child of NBC will finally call it quits next year after being shunted off to DirecTV two years ago. Big Love was recently renewed for a fifth season but I’ve stopped caring. Studio 60 famously, and deservedly, bit it the very first season.

And now it’s Ugly Betty. None of the series that caught my fancy that year were anything like each other in tone or writing or characters but Betty was the standout. It was smart, funny, heartwarming, and fun. Everything from its premise to its cast and crew made you sit up and take notice. When Betty (America Ferrera) walked into the offices of Mode wearing that horrendous poncho, it immediately spoke to the repressed memories of faux pas past.

Over that first season, as Betty and her braces found their feet at Mode, we met a bunch of insane, narcissistic, borderline evil, shallow, over-enthusiastic, painfully naive, freaks who totally won us over. And then the second and third seasons happened, and most of us got over it. Opinion is divided as to why.

Executive producer Silvio Horta thinks they should have let America (Ferrera) be America – i.e. jaw-droppingly gorgeous – a lot sooner rather than waiting for this last season to take the fake braces off. I can definitely see how the changed dynamic might have breathed new life into the show (it certainly did it for the last few episodes albeit in truncated fashion), and appreciate that the writers were probably forced to trim a season’s worth of storylines into three episodes.

Critic Dave Hiltbrand thinks it was the opposite: the whole thing became too fairy-tale-ish once Betty starting upgrading her boyfriends to multi-millionaire levels. Which: are we talking about the same multi-millionaire? Because Matt “I’m a victim of my good fortune” Hartley was my least favorite of Betty’s boyfriends. Even Walter was more interesting.

People who stuck by it to the bittersweet end think it was just the timing that did it in.

All I can say is that this was a cancellation that did not come out of the blue as far as I was concerned. I wasn’t crossing my fingers, I didn’t throw a tantrum about TPTB canceling everything good on TV and it wasn’t writing furious emails to anyone. But the last three episodes made up for all that.

From the Suarez family dealing with Justin’s sexuality (“What is wrong with you people?” a horrified Marc breathes in one of the funniest scenes I’ve ever seen – so much so, I won’t spoil it for you); Hilda getting her happy ever after; Amanda getting her heart’s desire after claiming the “orange doughnut”; Wilhemina succeeding on sheer merit after she and Claire get their Dynasty on; Marc standing up for himself after playing guardian angel to Justin; Daniel falling for his best friend; to Betty walking tall and gorgeous through the crowded streets of London – it was perfect.

The thing I loved most about Betty was its writing; its ability to take heavy issues and cringe-inducing situations, and handle them with grace and humor without diminishing its import. Somewhere between seasons 2 and 3, it lost that and turned into various characters’ endless audition for romance. They paid the price for that but made amends with these last three episodes, but especially the finale.

Maybe they’ll go the Sex and the City route and turn it into a movie franchise (I’ll watch!), but I love where they left everybody.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on April 17, 2010 in Entertainment, Television, Video