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Monthly Archives: September 2010

Cleanup Detail

SouthIndian mothers are all the same

When Jenny McCarthy was on Oprah recently, she had a funny story about posing for Playboy for the first time – the Bunny-to-be had just stripped down for the shoot when she noticed everybody else was struck dumb. The cause? Her hairy hoo ha.

(Honestly, the things you read on this blog! While you’re at work too, you naughty thing!)

McCarthy didn’t know this was a big deal because, well, why should she? Maybe little girls these days are logging on to the internet and learning that their vajayjays are supposed to look a certain way i.e. the way it used to look before they hit puberty (God, I hope not!) but back in the day, the only person likely to tell you what to do with your bush when growing up was your mom and she was unlikely to hold up porn stars as preferred grooming idols.

Well, those days are over. Behold, the concerned parent of the 21st century: bikini waxing her toddlers for their own good. There’s even a term for this handy service that’s ideally supposed to permanently damage follicles in just a few sessions, eradicating the need for any pesky waxing, shaving or trimming as an adult – Virgin Waxing. The “virgin” in this case apparently refers to the hair growth… you know what? Excuse me a moment while I ask of the universe:

Are you fucking kidding me?!

I admit, I’m fairly conservative when it comes to things like children and their upbringing. I don’t have any but this doesn’t stop me from having opinions all the same. It is the last remnant of my conservative childhood and I hang on to it, because nothing I’ve seen out there has really challenged it or made me even come close to changing my mind.

In the way of tweens, I wanted to get my legs waxed the moment I saw a schoolmate sashay down the hall in her short skirt at age thirteen. I had the skirt all right, but I wanted those legs. Those shiny, shiny legs that looked so very adult.

“I think I’m ready,” I told my mother as she got a manicure at our salon.

“Girls are doing it very early these days,” agreed the man who usually waxed her legs, sizing me up.

Ma looked me in the face and laughed and laughed and laughed. When she finally caught her breath, she said one word: “Chee!” And that was the end of that.

In fact, I’d graduated high school before my mother would let me wax anything at all. And when I got my eyebrows done for the first time as a special treat at age sixteen for my cousin’s wedding, it was a family affair with one of my aunties standing over the poor parlor assistant’s shoulder and loudly whispering, “Don’t cry! Remember not to cry!” as my eyes watered copiously.

Of course, being a good mother, we did have talks about personal grooming. From manicure to shaving sets, cosmetics to creams, the best part of growing up with a mother who has sisters is that there’s no dearth of advice on everything from acne treatments to what is the correct amount of toilet paper.

And we eventually talked about pubic hair – but the emphasis was always on hygiene, not sexuality. In our house, grooming wasn’t just about being attractive. It sounds very corporate sloganish but every summer my grandmother would repeatedly remind me (in case my mother wasn’t doing it enough) that good grooming is about having pride in oneself. You take care of yourself because you deserve it, not to impress other people.

“This is not the way for good girls to walk around the house before the first lamp is lit in the evening,” my grandmother would say. “You should first wash, then powder your face, put on a bindi, comb and tie your hair neatly, change into freshly pressed clothes, and then come downstairs to see the first lamp. That’s what a lady looks like.”

Deep in my rebellious phase when I refused to comb my hair and adopted a hobo style (quite an ingenious feat considering my mother was still buying my clothes), I wasn’t ready to listen. But nobody pulled me down and forcibly combed my hair, nor did anybody force me to change my clothes. At the time, I thought it a victory over the Establishment. Later, I was quite puzzled because the Establishment at our home is quite capable of breaking the backs of little guerrilla efforts like that.

It took me years before I realized that part of the lesson my grandmother and mother were trying to teach me was that self-worth is something only you can determine for yourself. If they’d forced me to look presentable according to their stringent standards, as they well could have at the time, it would only have appeased their sense of worth, their image of a family member, not mine.

I don’t even want to imagine what lesson those little girls with their permanently waxed genitalia are receiving right now.

[Thanks (?), Jan!]

 
17 Comments

Posted by on September 29, 2010 in Life, Newsmakers

 

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TMI Nation

Dear People-Who-Will-Never-Read-This,

here is a helpful list of things to avoid discussing with me when next you run into me at a supermarket checkout/ bar/ restroom/ wedding/ public transport/ other public venues. Since you don’t know who I am and will never see me again, try not to bring up the following topics with anybody at all… just to be on the safe side.

Please do not tell me about –

  • the consistency of your diarrhea
  • the consistency of your kid’s diarrhea
  • the exact details, including taste and color, of your vomit
  • the boil on your bum and your deranged fantasies of what will happen if it bursts
  • the blood you discovered on your used toilet paper after examining it closely
  • your exciting holiday
  • your opinion of my clothes
  • your analysis of my hair, weight, complexion and height, and how they will fare in the marriage market
  • your thoughts on kids today
  • your terrible mother-in-law (who is standing right next to me)
  • your super cute love story
  • your hope and aspirations and why none of them have ever come true
  • how Jesus can save me from my heathen ways
  • how God will punish me for not going to the temple enough
  • what your neighbor said to you
  • what you said to your neighbor
  • what your son’s boss said about him
  • what your son said about his boss
  • what is wrong with Muslims
  • what is wrong with Christians
  • what is wrong with white people
  • what is wrong with black people
  • what is wrong with people who are not you, and perhaps, me
  • Commonwealth Games (this goes for people who know me too. I just… can’t anymore.)

Thanks!

I swear some days I feel like I’m turning into a crotchety old lady. The kind that mumbles to herself and she threateningly waves her cane at passerby. One step from homeless and warning of Armageddon on my soapbox, that’s me. You know why does that? And you know who drives me there most days? The loyal citizenry of the global TMI nation who have slowly colonized the world.

 
11 Comments

Posted by on September 27, 2010 in Life, Personal

 

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Earworm Friday

All hail the Mighty Earworm! A little sumpin’-sumpin’ to remember me by this lonely weekend. I hope you don’t have anything romantic planned because nothing ruins the mood faster than a partner who walks around muttering “gutur gutur”. Enjoy!


(now with subtitles for double the horror!)

I have no earthly clue how this toxic spillage of a movie became a hit but it takes Shahrukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Salman Khan and even a love-addled Aishwarya Rai and gives you turdblossoms like the one above. After this movie was released, Mads got married and moved far, far away and Ash and SRK both dumped Salman who is equally mad at them. I’m not saying that all resulted from this movie, but if the pieces of nuclear devastation fit…


(I want to forget this but I can’t! SOB!)

The most hilarious thing about this song is something I didn’t even know until I fell down my Mahesh Babu wormhole: look at this. Heh heh heh. I could be the only one who notices a certain resemblance but I find it very fitting. This song is so terrible, dancing to it made Hrithik’s body fall apart. Yes, I choose to blame all his physical ailments on this one.


(starts at the 6.00 mark)

You could probably do an entire list of questionable songs from David Dhawan movies – although, why would you? You’re not an insane masochist like myself – but he really outdid himself with this little ditty from one of his rare non-Govinda movie, back in the days when Akshay Kumar was box office poison.


(aka the reason I’m anti-cell phones)

How? How could this list be complete without at least one Govinda song? Especially this Govinda song? I’ve heard it everywhere – the streets of Delhi, the hallways of American dorms, the subways of New York, the airport of Paris – and I’m sure I would have heard it more often if my brain hadn’t taken proactive steps to ensure my sanity and blocked it out on multiple occasions.


(old is gold)

Here is the man who taught Govinda all he knows: the one and only Jeetendra singing the immortal “Ui Amma” with that brave soldier of the nation, Jaya Prada whose saree mysteriously crumples up and flies away with the wind. Only in the 80s, folks!


(before you pour bleach into your eyes and ears, I should warn you that it’s no use)

Why is Amrita showing me soft porn, you wonder. She isn’t; it’s Mithun Chakraborty’s second coming. Ahem. It’s one of those all time “classics” that nobody can ever forget or unhear once it’s entered their orbit. Even if you only glimpsed out the corner of your eye as it played on mute, you’d hear it in the recesses of your soul for ever and a day.


(Muahahahaha!)

Warning: You will never get this song out of your head. You’ll still go ahead and click because you’ll refuse to believe anything could be that addictive… and now for the rest of your life people will give you puzzled looks as you go about your business singing, “I am a Disco Dancer!” under your breath.

(For Pitu and Chintan)

 
21 Comments

Posted by on September 24, 2010 in Celebrity, Entertainment, Music, Video

 

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Yup, They’re Married

What do Bollywood stars do when they go abroad?
Duh. They shop.

What do married Bollywood stars do when they go abroad?
Double duh! They shop together, of course!

Ta-da! Meet Aishwarya Rai, currently beloved of robots, and her husband Abhishek Bachchan, fortuitously the patron saint of robots in films. As soon as I saw these pics, I wondered how come I hadn’t seen or heard anything about their little Roman holiday until now – and then I realized that this is no longer 2007 and nobody cares. Oh well. Let us pretend!

The Glamorous Life of India’s First Couple (with-a-Portmanteau-Name)

ABHI: I don’t understand. What are these short, fat, ugly things? Are they edible?
ASH: Ha-ha, of course not! They’re people – common, little people. Eating them would mess up our organic diet.

ABHI: Astonishing! They’re everywhere. Walking upright.
ASH: Stop staring at them, you moron. They‘re supposed to stare at us!

ABHI: You know, it’s not cool for you to talk to me like that!
ASH: Yeah? Who’s gonna stop me? You and your baby pink shirt, flaming orange watch and that murse you clutch like a blankie? I don’t think so.

ABHI: When you talk like that you sound exactly like your ‘roid rage-y ex.
ASH: Yes, well, this scene was a lot more fun and interesting when Sanjay Leela Bhansali was directing and Ajay Devgan was in it.
ABHI: Huh?
ASH: Just wanted to throw that out there. Hey, do you have a white suit? I just remembered some fanfic we might want to try out.

[via]

 
28 Comments

Posted by on September 21, 2010 in Celebrity, Fiction, News

 

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Southern Comfort

Southern Comfort

There are people out there who need to medicate their obsessive selves. And then there are folks who manage to exert a bit of control over their compulsions – I choose to channel it into tight spirals of in-depth immersion to burn the subject down to manageable levels. Whenever this happens to me, which is more often than it ought, I describe it as having fallen into a wormhole and I hope to come out the other side.

My wormhole for the past week or so has been Mahesh Babu. It’s sort of mystifying – I saw Pokiri a while back and I was perfectly fine putting it out of my mind. Then I saw Athadu on Cinema Chaat’s recommendation and it was hello-madness-my-old-friend time again.

However, while the rules of the wormhole dictate that I must ceaselessly hunt down and devour every last bit of everything connected to the central subject, it does not demand I lobotomize myself in the process. In the present case of Mahesh Babu, for instance, I was perfectly able to understand that the man has oodles of that mysterious-yet-all-important It factor that marks a charismatic star, while recognizing that half the stuff I was watching (particularly the early movies although the fairly-recent, pseudo-scifi, pedotastic-by-inference, all around weird fantasy Naani co-starring Ameesha Patel was pretty terrible too) was almost irredeemably bad.

There’s Takkari Donga, for instance: apparently an homage to father Krishna’s groundbreaking portrayal of a cowboy in Telugu cinema, it stars Mahesh as a Wild West robber full of derring do who intentionally courts unnecessary trouble, hoping his notoriety would lead him to his father’s murder. In the process, he’s stalked by a skimpily-clad (at one point, completely unclad) Bipasha Basu and carts around a half-naked (at one point, completely naked… you get the picture) Lisa Ray who keeps trying to get his pants off so she can check if he’s The One she’s supposed to marry. There’s also a mine right out of an Indiana Jones movie where diamonds grow like crystals inside stalagmites and an adorable little puppy whom he heroically saves from certain death – I mean, I can’t recommend this movie enough except for the times when I’m strongly warning you against it.

So I was really happy to see Sainikudu. All your questions answered here:

Q. What is Sainikudu?
A. A Telugu movie starring Mahesh Babu. Duh.

Q. Okay, smarty pants. What’s it about?
A. In flood-ravaged Andhra Pradesh, government corruption is destroying the lives of the poor. So a group of university students, led by Siddhartha (Mahesh Babu) decide to do something about it.

Q. Oh dear. That kind of stuff never works out, does it?
A. For reals. They get framed as terrorists by evil villain Pappu Yadav (Irrfan Khan) and his brother-in-law Mondi Naani (Prakash Raj) when they try to field a student as a candidate against him in the upcoming elections.

Q. That’s a very not-nice thing to do.
A. It is a properly villainous thing to do! Especially when Pappu wins the election and ends up as the Home Minister.

Q. Set a thief to catch a thief, so to speak!
A. Right! Except he doesn’t want to catch any, he just wants to fix it so he doesn’t get caught! The students say nix to that and kidnap Pappu’s bride Varalakshmi (Trisha Krishnan) under his nose on their wedding day and hold her hostage in exchange for Pappu completing his election promises.

Q. How does that work out?
A. For Siddhartha? Probably better if Varalakshmi hadn’t been the bride. For the viewer? Fabulously! The way it does when the heroine isn’t just your random naive village belle – but a deeply romantic, naive village belle, convinced (rather understandably, if she watches Telugu blockbusters where such threats fly around like confetti) the world is full of rapists, and hilariously overconfident about her fighting-capabilities. I was prepared to find her completely annoying, but she was absolutely charming – even Siddhartha thought so and she was either trying to get him killed, lecturing him about her purity, or questioning his manhood.

Q. Good stuff!
A. You bet. And a lot of it depends on Mahesh’s ability to just be silent. There aren’t a lot of actors who can resist the impulse to “do something” (at the 7.00 mark) when the camera is on them, but he can. You could argue that it’s a lack of ability, but having seen his earlier movies, I think it’s a sign of evolution. He also goes a little darker in this movie, doing stuff that is distinctly un-hero-like (albeit in a dream), has what appears to be a drinking problem, and thinks nothing of using dead children as party table centerpieces. Very affecting! But then, I like my action stars strong, angry and silent, which is probably why I don’t much care for it when he starts singing and dancing.

Q. You didn’t like the music of Sainikudu?
A. This was actually an exception – I liked the soundtrack. In fact, I was thinking about it when reading Beth’s CurrySmugglers interview: it’s unusual for me to really love film music in a language I don’t understand because lyrics matter a great deal to me, but either Harris Jayraj’s score was really that good or else the subtitles managed to work well enough for me to like it. Probably a combination of the two.

Q. The subtitles were good?
A. Well, I’m sure I missed a great deal of the wordplay and stuff – in fact, I’m pretty sure I did because there were certain segues that were distinctly odd – but going by various comments around the net, I’m better off that way because the original seems to have really pissed people off.

Q. Why is that?
A. I dunno. Maybe they didn’t like the political bits? They seemed pretty dire in a recycled way. Or maybe there wasn’t enough of it? Who knows! Personally, I thought it flirted with the borderline where I was just able to restrain my fast-forward finger.

Q. But you still had a good time watching it?
A. A bowl of Maggi noodles (original Masala please – none of this “new and improved”, “healthy” jiggery pokery), a bottle of wine and this movie? Totally my Sunday.

Q. That’s disgusting.
A. Sez you. Viva la revolucion!

 
16 Comments

Posted by on September 19, 2010 in Celebrity, Entertainment, Movies, Review, Video

 

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Conscience Called

Sometimes other people’s honesty can have a profound impact on the way you perceive yourself, leading to introspection that can change your life forever. It doesn’t have to be a bang-and-whistles speech – it could be just a throwaway moment in ordinary conversation.

There is that story a professor of mine shared about attending her mother’s funeral, for example. The way she told it, she was sitting at the kitchen table with her aunt who said to her, “You know, you die the way you live.”

I forget the context in which this came up, but I remember other things – the fleeting, faraway look on my professor’s face; the dip in her voice as she said to us: “And I thought to myself, what a terrible thing – to die as you live. I wondered then what people would say of me and I hoped they would say I was kind.”

I don’t think anybody else was really paying attention. At least, I remember the topic changed pretty quickly thereafter. But it’s always stuck in my head, perhaps because I’d just emerged from a rather unhappy two years of deep unkindness that I had perpetrated and suffered in equal measure. That whole mess had ended mere months before that class, marked forever in my mind by the passing of a woman known to be unkind to those who loved her best and needed her most.

That day it all came together and knit itself into a lesson people had been trying to teach me for years to no avail – that a bit more thought and flexibility could do wonders for my personality. I knew how to apologize and mean it, but that day it occurred anew to me that nine times out of ten, life gives you ample opportunity to avoid creating situations that end in meaningful apologies.

It’s been ten years since that day. I’d like to think that I’ve changed and evolved since then, to what degree I’m not certain but enough that I’m satisfied not to be the same person I used to be. Or rather, I’m satisfied that everyday I try to be a better person than the one I know myself to be.

That itself is growth, I think.

 
7 Comments

Posted by on September 17, 2010 in Personal

 

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What Ho, Man Ho

“The first time I had sex,” he said, “it was so amazing we had to do it again! But I only had one condom on me, so I decided to reuse it. That didn’t go well.”

The problem with dating when you’re a mere child is that you don’t know it’s perfectly acceptable to stop your boyfriend right in his tracks and say: Gross! Nast! Shut it! etc. Instead, I listened to the whole thing in icked-out silence that didn’t deter him one bit and then proceeded to take out the full virulence of my feelings by passive aggressively mocking him about it, time without end. That, by the way, didn’t go well either.

Now why, you might wonder as I often have, would he tell me this story? Were we exchanging horror stories, first time faux pas, etc? No. As far as I remember, this was an anecdote that presented itself completely without context in the middle of a coffee shop. Polite cappuccino conversation for the 21st century.

In retrospect, I feel a bit of regret at having unleashed the full weight of my Mean Girl skills on him for this strange foray into intimacy – not because he wasn’t asking for it, but because age has made me realize that he was simply indulging in a strange-yet-common phenomenon of Indian dating:

Boy: Girl, I really like you.
Girl: *giggle*
Boy: In fact *blushes* I lub you.
Girl: I wuv you too! *starry eyes*
Boy: So. Did I ever tell you about this other girl I loved?
Girl: Er.
Boy: Okay! Let me describe her and our relationship in extreme detail.
Girl: o_O

Sometimes you don’t even have to be dating. You could simply be flirting. And all of a sudden you’re listening to some guy you met five minutes ago recount the tawdry nitty-gritties of his encounter with his neighbor, the widow, the girl he met at the club, his senior in high school, the highly inventive list is quite long.

What is. UP. with that?

I mean, what is the thinking there? Ha-ha, I told my guy friends about this totally fictional woman who can’t keep her hands off me and it went over really well; now let me repeat the story to this non-fictional girl expressing interest so she’ll… what? Be impressed? “Woo! I’m dating a certified manwhore!” Gratified? “Awww! This slut could have had any old auntie in his neighborhood but he chose me instead.” Awed? “Oooh! His DNA is like a substitute for Viagra.”

I must be missing some essential chip of Indian womanhood because I’ve only ever had two reactions to these stories: skepticism and “eww”. I need a bottle of wine and a degree of friendship to even care, much less participate in this game. “Oh, you’re jealous!” cooed one person with some delight when I mentioned that maybe he should save his war stories for some other time.

Uh, no. I don’t expect the men I find attractive to have lived their lives wrapped in protective plastic sheeting, waiting for that mystical One like a human-sized touch-me-not and I don’t know why any reasonable man would expect that of me. I know it works for some people (hey there, freakazoids! happy you screwed up the curve for the rest of us? hmmm?) but the very thought of ending up married to the first boy who ever asked me out makes me shudder – and not just because I’ve seen his Facebook page.

I just don’t understand why I must be regaled with tales of sexual prowess when I haven’t even hinted at anything resembling interest. Everybody has these stories, of course. Girls and boys. Some of them flattering, some of them cringe-worthy, all of them kind of hilarious in hindsight with the right company at the right time.

So the next time you feel the need to share, remember what your mother taught you and speak when you’re spoken to. Take it from a girl: The Excellent Adventures of Little You is not the icebreaker you imagine it to be.

 
7 Comments

Posted by on September 16, 2010 in Life, Personal

 

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