Archive for October, 2005

October 30, 2005

Loud Bangs


I will not talk about the blasts, because there isn’t really much to say. (Apart from – How dare you hurt my city, how dare you kill innocent people, good timing, mate.)

What I will talk about is the firework-obsession that seems to have gripped my neighbourhood. Most people in my neighbourhood are old retired couples, though occasionally their children and grandchildren appear. They’re terribly respectable, they attend the colony parties every month (yes we have colony parties) and they are generally nice and upstanding citizens. They go for morning walks, smile indulgently at me, and are generally a very civilised group of people.
I’m not sure what it is about Diwali that turns them all into raving pyromaniacs. And besides my inability to breathe for a few days after the night, I don’t really have a problem with fireworks. As long as they’re not loud.
The labrador in the picture you see here is of Sab. Sab is, careful research has shown, the Best Dog in the World. She is the gentlest, loveliest girl I’ve ever met. She has always been afraid of loud noises, but she’s getting old now, and has become rather paranoid. She’s terrified – she can’t be left alone during diwali. She moves from room to room with her tail between her legs and everytime she settles in one corner she hears another loud bang and runs away looking for somewhere they won’t disturb her. She has settled on the space underneath my grandparents’ bed and the place where my chair is supposed to go under my desk. I spend a large part of the festive season wedged in those spaces with her, trying to tell her it’s okay. This is something people who have animals can understand better than people who have children. You can tell a child that the noises will not harm him/her, that they will eventually go away. How do you tell a dog?
The Young One was here today and saw Sab scared. He’s three, and can’t imagine a crackerless Diwali, so he has promised for her sake to only light two. I think environmentalists should really look into the manipulative power of affected animals – it seems more effective than lecturing about pollution. In the meantime, I would just like to register my hatred for those of you who are above the age of three, and are a part of the constant traumatisation of Sab. She’s so lovely, why must you do this to her?

October 27, 2005

On the buying of books.

One of the things that is guaranteed to make me leave a shop is an attendant following me around like a lost puppy, begging me to be interested in things I’m not interested in. Yes, I know it’s their job, but all it ever accomplishes is to make me uncomfortable enough to leave.
When buying clothes, this is not a problem. Salespeople tend to avoid the kind of person who walks out of a dressing room and announces “the clothing industry is skewed towards titless midgets!” In bookshops this is not possible.

Recently a friend made me wait for him in the bookshop above subway in the SDA market. (I think it’s The Corner Bookstore, if not, then I apologise to any Corner Bookstore-affiliated persons reading this.) I like waiting in bookshops because..well..I can buy books. Or look at books. Or generally be around books. In this shop though, as I browsed, one of the (two) attendants followed me, bent over in a weird, subservient position (which really doesn’t work when the customer’s a good few inches taller than you) and would keep saying things like “madam, this one is his latest book”, or “this is a bestseller”. I hate that – I realise different things are important to different people, blahblahblah, and I can’t expect other people to care about books the way I do, but I do not want to buy books where they’re being treated like that. I will go somewhere like Midland, where they will not only have better books and give me a discount, but they will respectfully ignore me, and not try to point out books to me. And if I ask if they have something, they will not turn to the computer and ask me how it is spelt.

I think this is also partly the reason I like secondhand books – because they aren’t trying to sell themselves anymore (Does that make any sense? No? Alright then.). You are allowed to scrimmage, with no one looking over your shoulder to see exactly what you’re buying. (Which is how I managed to pick up a secondhand hardbound copy of Grimm’s today. “Stories about Knights and Dragons”, those are very important to me. I got the occasional “you read fairytales?” accompanied by disdainful raised eyebrow, but that happened much later, not when I was actually buying the book. )

So at Midland about ten days ago I bought eight books, mostly expensive ones. At The Corner Bookstore I bought nothing. I’m not sure if my shopping habits deviate greatly from the norm, but if they don’t, it’s definitely something to think about.

October 25, 2005

womanly outrage.

I was reading Aditya’s blog and found the most depressing thing I’ve read all week.

After God’s Sandbox, as I was waiting for the next movie to begin, a man of about thirty-five or so came up to me and we started discussing the movie. After a few moments, I realised that he hadn’t actually understood what they did to her in the film (the circumcision, I mean). So I explained it, and then I realised that he didn’t know what a clitoris was – a thirty-five years old, probably married, man! I explained it, and then I explained why female circumcision is actually worse than what is generally called circumcision. The hypothetical male analogy I gave him made him cringe, and I believe it was then that he actually got why she had been so adversely affected by it.

I was rather horrified at first. I mean, if there are men who don’t even know the clitoris exists, I can’t help feeling terribly sorry for their wives. If you can’t conceive of the clitoris, does that mean you can’t conceive of a woman actually enjoying sex? Or that he knows what it is, just not what it’s called?

But then I realised that in girly magazine quizzes I’ve often come across the question “Do you actually know where your clitoris is?” Apparently even the Indian woman can’t be trusted to know her own body – what chance do the poor men have?

My grandmother had surgery a couple of years ago for some sort of urine related problem (no, I wasn’t paying attention). She asked my mother if there were separate outlets for this and for the vagina. She’d never looked. Someone had told her (or she’d just *known*, like we all know) that ‘down there’ was all dirty and must never be looked at, thought about, or touched. And this is something that I will never fully understand, because I was brought up in such a different environment (my parents were extremely scientific when we talked about sex, more “slot A, tab B” than “Hau! Shame shame!“). I was taught that sex was a serious responsibility because it could have serious consequences, never that it was somehow immoral. I don’t remember anyone actually pointing out the various bits to me, but it really wasn’t that hard to figure out, once I looked.

Seriously. Women. Look.

(Edit: I’ve always wanted to use the word “hau” in a blog entry.)

October 23, 2005

Hell is Sulphur

One of my more painful childhood memories involves a certain private school in England where the uniform consisted of maroon skirts and blazers….and maroon hats. We were given maroon duffle bags too. And in those maroon duffle bags we were given a copy of the Bible.
I like the Bible. I don’t agree with it, but I love it for being so old and powerful and evocative and storyful. But the best thing about it is still the language. It’s intense and archaic and gloriously trippy, in parts. (Revelations, especially, makes me think of magic mushrooms)
Not in the edition my school gave me. Someone had decided that the words might be too hard for us young illiterates and had *translated* it into language we could understand better. And so any part related to the devil would feature the phrase “hellfire and sulphur“. I cannot read that thing without wincing every couple of pages. It’s religion, not chemistry! It’s supposed to be all blood and guts and fire and song(politically incorrect though they may be)…it’s supposed to be stirring. “Brimstone” is a great word for this. “Sulphur” is unlikely to arouse those feelings in anyone but the sadder class of IIT student.
I still have the book, because it was my first Bible and I feel like I should treasure it. But I don’t read it – there’s really no point. (It also contains the clunkiest version of the Song of Solomon ever printed.)
I have decided, therefore, that Hell is in fact Other-People-Who-Replace-Pretty-Words-With-Words-Like-Sulphur.

October 19, 2005

The Ritual of the Sacred Handbag

I am often asked (by people who really should have better things to do) why I rarely wear skirts. I own skirts- enough to fill a drawer of my wardrobe (it is quite a big drawer too), and I’m told I look positively human in them. I’ve come up with all sorts of creative excuses, because the truth is positively silly. See, skirts don’t have pockets. My phone and my wallet travel with me everywhere I go. They’re important. And I make sure that I buy clothes whose pockets they’ll fit into. Because if they don’t, I’ll have to carry a handbag.

I’m terrified of handbags. I see people my age carrying them around all the time, and I am in awe of them. For me, The Wearing of The Handbag is like a sacred ritual. It’s something you are initiated into. Like makeup. It’s a rite of passage. The Confident Handbag-Bearer is a Real Adult. Me, I feel like one of those little kids in bright pink lipstick, badly applied, carrying mummy’s handbag and wearing her high heels. (High heels…there’s something else I can’t handle). I’m still a little girl when it comes to things like this.
Periodically I do consider buying bags and forcing myself to use them. Which is why I actually own a couple – on the shelf above my wardrobe. They rarely get used. If you have seen me with a handbag, either I really dressed up for you or you were just very lucky. (And didn’t I look awkward?)
So I am condemned to carrying only things that will fit into a pocket or elsewhere. Glasses must be hooked onto the neck of whatever I’m wearing in case I need them. (I look terrible in them and I hate the bother of putting my lenses in). Wallets must be smallish (yay, because the big, girly purses are annoying) and relatively empty (not a problem), lip balm must be liberally applied before leaving the house because mine comes in a little tub and no one wants something that looks like a large round knob protruding from their rear. I can carry pens (two in front left jeans pocket), but no paper. I frequently check that my phone (back left pocket) has its keypad locked, lest I sit on it and accidentally make a five-minute call to the USA again. All those other mysterious things that women reportedly carry in their bags – I know nothing of them.

I know people who literally have a handbag for every occasion – every possible colour, shape, size, price range, it seems. Even armpit bads. Euchh. There are some grown-up habits I hope never to pick up.

Meanwhile, I stare into shop windows longingly, or at the carts of street vendor type people or (greedily) at other people’s bags. I am pathetic. I have a hard time digging for change.

October 15, 2005

Cheese

A few days ago, I had a conversation with Aditya about blogs, and declared in a moment of random silliness that my next blog entry would be about cheese. Now as everyone knows, I’m terribly moral and wouldn’t dream of going back of my word, which means I now have to find something exciting to say about cheese. *Blink*.

Cheese is a very tasty substance, and I love it dearly. I have sacrificed many things for cheese – money, respect, my waistline. The problem is, most of what’s available in the market is not exactly great cheese. I hate the Britannia stuff – it looks like plastic and has no taste. Amul’s almost as bad. The problem is, neither of them tastes like any particular kind of cheese, they just exude a generic cheeseness, or cheesity if you prefer. And I hate it when they call it “processed cheddar” – someone seems to have decided that ‘cheddar’ is the most basic form of cheese, (just like they think they can pass off completely flavourless ice cream as vanilla – but there’s another rant) so they can call any crap they make cheddar. The English should sue.
Amul keeps advertising on its butter cartons that it has now started to make Gouda and Emmental. I have yet to see any in shops. (Do a Google image search on Emmental. Giggle) I’ve never been a great fan of Emmental (If my cheese has holes in it I don’t feel like I’m getting my money’s worth) but I do like my Gouda, and anyone going on an international flight which stops at Amsterdam is charged to bring me some.

So yes, I love strong cheeses. I take really tiny bites and test them on every bit of my tongue and glare at people who just chomp their way through theirs (fucking Neanderthals) And I glared at the waiter at Little Italy a couple of weeks ago who chose to look superior and *warn* me that “Gorgonzola is a very strong cheese, madam.” Heh. (Note: the cheese had been melted down into a pasta sauce with huge amounts of cream to make it almost as mild as the stuff you get in cans)

Whew. I just wrote an entire post about cheese. I’m not sure if I should be proud of myself or just disgusted.

*Currently fighting the temptation to use a horrible pun for the title. “Cheesed off”, or something*

October 11, 2005

Internet Warfare

I’ve been following this story for a few days now.

Um. I think there are two separate issues here. Firstly, if JAM got their facts wrong (and I’m inclined to believe that they did not) the legal notice has already been served, and presumably ‘the law will take its course’. If/When JAM are proved innocent, Rashmi has a pretty good claim for a counter case, if they’re still claiming that JAM were bribed into writing that article. In the meantime Rashmi is having to face abuse from semi coherent morons claiming to be from IIPM. Frankly I find it hard to believe that they don’t see they’re only hurting their own side. (I find it rather amusing that accusing her of being a lesbian is considered a form of attack, actually.) There isn’t much she can do about those comments, other than delete them (and why should she? All they do is show up the complete lack of a legitimate argument the other side has) because, well, this is the internet and it’s all about saying what you want to. I’m sorry she has to put up with this, but she’s a big girl and she’s someone I respect, and I’m sure she can manage.

The other issue, Gaurav’s, is a lot more worrying to me. I can understand, to an extent, IIPM’s fury over what was written in JAM, because it’s a magazine, because it presented the story as fact, etc. But from what understand, Gaurav has been hounded because of his opinion on IIPM, and it’s reached a point where he has actually quit his job. That’s just ridiculous, and I can only hope that as many people join this particular ‘war’ as possible.

October 9, 2005

Aisha needs…

Someone on LiveJournal googled the words “Sophie needs” (her name is Sophie, I presume) with hilarious results. I thought I would do the same. But whenever I google “aishwarya”, I always end up with tons of pages on my better looking counterpart (*mutters*) so I decided to go with ‘Aisha’ instead, since that is what close friends, boyfriend, and family use. The results (the funnier ones, at least):

… We’ve all decided that Aisha needs her very own show because we just can’t get enough of her!

Aisha needs to go into a war zone to rescue an old aquaintence.

aisha needs to be more mature about delicate Topics. aisha You dont like to be
judged so dont judge others in The future or what goes around comes around. …

to improve The quality of her writing, Aisha needs to organise her concluding paragraphs more effectively.

Aisha needs a beer and a bikini. Lighten up, Aisha.

Aisha needs to share Saddam Hussein’s sons’ fate–she’s still singing the Baathist songbook (wtf?)

Remember – Aisha needs you at home.

Meanwhile, after she’s asked on a date, Aisha needs help learning to dance.

Aisha needs to learn that it is not ok to rough house with the boys.

Well, Aisha needs a spanking then. That immodest whooooorrre. (Do I know you?)

Get my new pet to the mansion. Aisha needs a playmate

Aisha needs to die

Aisha needs to have cameras film her while she exercises in leotards then, …

no Aisha needs no Wisdom, only a keen eye and a sharp ear. we wonder who whispers
to her, in The darkness Of The night, telling her about The elements.

And the piece de resistance!
… reassurance. Aisha needs to be allowed indoors with her human family as all she wants is to be close to them to be happy.

October 8, 2005

Laws of reciprocity

When thou dost give someone a cow shaped mug on their birthday, thou shalt be amply repaid on thine own. Karma will bite thee in thine ass. Thou shalt receive a mug with lobsters on it as part of thy just desserts.

Speaking of “just desserts”, I had two types of cheesecake for lunch, and a lot of apple pie with dinner. Next time I whine about my weight, remind me of this.

*pause*

Or feed me cheesecake of some variety. That usually shuts me up.

I spent a large portion of today with exactly one rupee’s credit on my phone, so if you messaged and I didn’t reply, I’m sorry. If you messaged last night, I love you more.

I shall now adopt an elderly and world weary tone for the rest of the year. Looky! Wrinkles!

October 3, 2005

"Even the awesome can be led astray"

The British Council Library periodically has a sale of withdrawn books. I’m not sure why they withdraw some of these books – some are pretty new and in great condition. But they’re all priced between rs 50 and 200, and many are out of print hard-cover books.
I went with Shloka, attached myself to the table with all the lit crit books, and bought approximately half of them. Yes, imagine me with a dozen or so big hardbacked books in my arms, hopping slightly so I could use one knee to support the pile. I think I pulled a muscle of some sort in my left arm in the process. Don’t look at me
like that, it was a big pile! *glares*. I’m a big, strong girl, really!
One of the greatest things about being a lit. student is how you can justify all your purchases to yourself. I mean, of course I need the C.S Lewis books on medieval literature, even though we’re not doing any, because well at least they’re crit, and I need the Beckett book because we’re doing Beckett next year and the Stoppard book can go next to my other Stoppard books because we’re doing him next year too, and I’m sure I’ll find time somewhere to read two books on Chaucer and one on Pope. And I might need the Ellman book for my M.A! Etc. I bought sixteen.
Anyone who has a spare bookcase, large and (preferably ) black, email me. Currently one bookcase, two desks and one large windowseat are spilling over with books. Something Must Be Done.

Sale’s on till the eighth. Except I took all the good books today, so hah! No no, don’t go! *waves injured arm pitifully*