My Two And A Half Cents

Why two and a half? Well..I might not get everything out with just two cents worth ergo the extra half cent to properly cover the bases.

Without further ado let me mention that this blog post is about the now uber scandalous Sheena Bora Murder Case. Initially it was just the online editions of the various newspapers which kept bringing us new updates in real time. And then naturally, the talk shows and the intelligentsia had to get into the picture as well.

What I don’t understand is the urge for people to turn social commentators and spew their views across the country, while acting at being some kind of an expert. Given the huge number of people in the country and the sheer number of people we come across and interact with in our lifetime, we do have some insight into the human psyche, behavior et al. But it doesn’t always make us experts on the dark side that is said to be an integral part of everyone.

As the skeletons come tumbling out of the closet, it’s quite surprising to see people from different walks of life authoritatively airing their sound bytes whether their interaction with the people in question was either negligible or entirely NIL.

The only person who I saw offer their views in a credible manner was the lawyer who had handled Indrani Mukherjea‘s divorce. She offered her observations and opinions about Indrani basis their conversations about custody of a child thereby throwing some light on her as a mother. Everyone else rather decisively called her anything to a monster to a con artist and essentially trial by media was well underway.

Most of the other people being asked their expert opinion have an outsider’s view of the case and nothing more. And while they may not be wrong but this is the kind of case that should give the entire nation cause to worry about our moral fabric as a society?

We’ve had worse things happen. And while what happened to Sheena Bora was by no means a small matter, so-called experts throwing a light on alleged causal factors especially the mindset of the accused is quite irresponsible and bound to be erroneous.

What are the obvious elements of the case? Someone got killed. DNA testing has confirmed it to be a young woman called Sheena Bora. She has a brother called Mikhail (or something to that tune) and she was in a relationship with a man called Rahul Mukherjea and used to live in Mumbai. A driver who works for the main accused and is also an accused himself had spilled the beans leading to the entire drama unfolding. Beyond that, most aspects of the case are either contradicted reguarly, still alleged or are getting revealed on an daily basis.

Beyond that anyone who thinks he or she can provide a rationale for the behavior of the key players or illustrate what really happened is got a bad case of overconfidence in their own self.

Let the cops handle the rest. Sheesh.

Bengali Parents: A Glimpse Into The Paaglaami

‘Paaglaami’ is a favorite word of the Bengali people. It means madness. The word paaglaami is derived from one of the uber favorite words of theirs as well…”paagol”. This word is never said in a droll, flat manner. Oh no..the word paagol is uttered in a manner which reeks of food being relished and tasted thoroughly before it goes down the gullet.

Why did I start the post with these particulars words? Well today at lunch at a restaurant we frequent, well…frequently…I eavesdropped on a youngish Bong couple who had a cute little daughter who was being a typical toddler. The father was incessantly trying to get her to behave…a losing battle if there ever was one. But the specific verbiage that he was using made me realize that Bongs really are a very peculiar kind of parents on the whole.

Right from the birth of the baby, the obsession with the kid catching a cold is apparent. Ergo the crazy knitting of booties, mittens and horror of horrors…the blasted monkey cap aka a balaclava. Each family will have legions of old women who have foisted these elements of torture on their own offspring (and will swear by it till their dying breath) and who voluntarily knit these caps for the newborns and toddlers and insist on pulling the itchy and scratchy wool onto their heads and don’t let go till the kicking and screaming kid (who looks like a banker robber in the making) is thoroughly uncomfortable!

As a Bong parent myself, I have to admit that the urge to discipline and have your kid heed your words is nearly an overpowering one. It’s almost as if it’s a motto- Am Bong. Must Scold. Loudly.

Take today’s couple for example. What the heck is a toddler to do at a restaurant but play with the cutlery and the place mats and basically turn things topsy-turvy?

The father, who clearly envisioned himself in the role of the Lord and Master, kept telling his wife rather pompously “ekta thaapod lagao toh”. Translation- smack her one! Now this wasn’t seriously meant. This was just for the kid’s ears. And that’s the oddity that makes the Bong parents who they are.

The child must be made aware of all the potential spanking that lurks in its present and future. This is parenting 101. Then come the non-verbals. The non-verbals are rather short-lived because Bengali parents can’t go too long without being verbal. It’s a disease. But they can’t be silent. Call it a gene mutation if you will.

Even if one of the parents resorts to silent treatments, the other circles the child like a hyena closing in for the kill and starts muttering what the immediate future will hold viz spanks, red cheeks, and threats of all shapes and sizes and in ever increasing theatricality.

The father I saw today was hilarious! He kept trying to give his daughter the “eye of shame” but clearly he hadn’t cottoned onto the fact that pre-preschoolers won’t really maintain eye contact especially in a public place where there’s so much going on all around them. Seeing that his daughter wasn’t responding well to the unspoken rebukes, he repeatedly told his wife how ‘dushtu’ (naughty) their daughter was and” uff bhishon badabadi” (another favorite word meaning something is being taken to its limits!) was taking place! His entire speech was highlighted in bold and he had clearly got a good deal on exclamation marks as well!

The mother placidly mentioned that their less than hyper daughter (Hey I know hyper…I have a boy) must be sleepy ‘eyijonye..,nahole eto paaglaami kothay korey’? Meaning…she must be sleepy else why would she be acting up this way.

The response from the daughter? Banging the fork and spoon together. Yeah…that’s lunacy for you! Someone get the Adderall!

So during the meal that was punctuated with “aar paarchhina re baba eyi meyeta ke niye” (can’t manage with this girl anymore!) I noted that more and more Bong parents tended to express dissatisfaction even if the situation wasn’t quite so dire.

Rationale? Maybe if things are envisioned as being tougher and more difficult but they fall short of the mark, the result is a happier situation for the parents. Who knows?

But Bongs will scold. And happily so.

Even if it’s a kid who acts like a mini-hurricane or a rather placid little girl who is behaving true to type, the paaglaami we see and express is truly of a ‘orey baba’ extent!

That’s how it’s been for generations and so it shall remain. For that’s who we are. Proudly so.

Eeesh!

Note: the author is a Bengali. Descended from Bengali parents and basically an affectionate observer of all things Bengali. Never a critique..oh no! Lokey ki bolbe?! (what will people say?)

Realizations at 4:45 A.M

On an early morning drive to the airport, roughly 36 kms of thinking time, I realized the following:

1. Robert Palmer is very repetitive. And annoying. Addicted to Love is getting deleted from the playlist.

2. Morons, the real ones, are very consistent. Moronic all the time. All days of the week. Never take a break; on weekends either. Even God rested on the 7th Day. Or so sayeth the Bible.

3. Lady Gaga is ok driving music. In fact she’s okay provided you don’t get the visuals of the skycraper heels and body paint that would give Jackson Pollock nightmares.

4. Bollywood songs, especially the party numbers are good company on a drive irrespective of the time of day.

5. If you don’t have a flask of coffee riding shotgun, the sound of James Hetfield’s voice works well too.

6. Even if you try to tiptoe past a sleeping family on your way out the house, your slippers will squelch.

7. There are very few things as lovely as a sunrise. Each one makes you want to stop whatever you’re doing and just watch it happen.

8. Morons have special categories. The Honkers will honk even if there are miles of open road just to get the satisfaction of you giving way to them.

9. If you go to an airport or a railway station, you will feel like making a journey.

10. You can’t help but groove, move or headbang to funky tracks.

11. Sundays go by pretty quick so you hurry home and back to bed.

From One Woman To Another

I can’t help but use labels although I don’t always like them. But labels help in identifying things, people or events and Kiran Gandhi’s running the London Marathon while “free-bleeding” has definitely become an “event” on the internet.

Now it might be a knee-jerk reaction to go ‘WTF’ followed by an “ewww” but I wanted to understand her reasons for putting herself through this kind of a discomfort before I started to dish out my personal reactions to the whole thing. And here is where she elaborates further on her decision to run without donning a pad or a tampon.

In a nutshell her reasons seem to be that, the moment topics which aren’t usually aired in general (aka bodily excretions et al) and make people uncomfortable; are touched upon, we all shrink away. This maybe from something which is naturally occurring and can’t or shouldn’t be shoved under the rug.Essentially, our bodies are for our consumption and not anyone else’s. And I quote, “If we don’t own the narrative of our own bodies, somebody else will use it against us,”.

And this is what don’t understand. Had the lady in question been menstruating during the marathon and taken steps to hide that she was, what would have been the set-back to the cause of women in day and age? And when I write ’cause’ I mean everything that women have to face regarding their bodies, appearance, safety et al from the outside world.

The decision to not use a pad or a tampon is a personal one but to bring it to everyone’s notice and attach a label of some kind of intellectual statement to it doesn’t sit well with me at all. Women bleed. Check. They bring eventually forth children as a result of that bleeding. Check. Should people know that a women is bleeding? I honestly don’t know about that.

Should people shun a women and condemn her as being “dirty” during those days? Definitely wrong! Ludicrous in fact. But should a women inconvenience herself, make others awkward around her, ignore hygiene factors all for the sake of making a statement? It seems rather a farfetched thing to do.

Pass out sanitary pads to those who have limited or no access to feminine hygiene products, in the presence of the male members of their family and society if you want to make a statement that would stick and actually jolt people to becoming aware.

Running a race in tight fitting clothing with your menstrual blood staining your body and clothes and being on display for the benefit of others isn’t the kind of role model or any kind of person I’d like to look up to. And it doesn’t do a thing for me personally as a woman.

And it actually made me think what will people think of next. It’s the same thing I thought when I read Germaine Greer’s quote-

  • If you think you are emancipated, you might consider the idea of tasting your own menstrual blood – if it makes you sick, you’ve got a long way to go, baby- The Wicked Womb (p. 57)

I found it distasteful (excuse the pun) and don’t subscribe to it at all. One woman stating what another woman ought to be or do to be considered “liberated” seems to be more along the lines of men trying to “enslave” women with their notions of being barefoot and pregnant all over again.

This man however truly makes a difference.

Funny how gender doesn’t make much of a difference if you’ve got your heart in the right place and your priorities straight!

Nuff said.

Cough. Sniffle. Sneeze.

Sick.
That word conjures up many fine images am sure. But for a mother the word has only one meaning- you are stuck good and proper! Say goodbye to the life you knew till the universe rights itself aka the flesh-n-blood goes back to school.

I firmly believe in this notion- either your kid shouldn’t get sick at all (which is the most preferred option) or they should get sick enough to merit keeping their tiny butts in bed till they are better. Period.

This business of being half-assed sick where one has enough energy to run around, be underfoot, cranky because they have a bug in their body, but definitely not well enough to go to school; doesn’t sit well with me. Nope!

Am not advocating that a kid be sick, mind you. But it’s SO annoying to remind them to use the tissue and not their sleeves when wiping snot 15,000,000 times a day, taking their temperature the minute their eyes glaze over and have to go into octopus mode to get a temperature reading which ends up being inaccurate because the brat squirmed like a worm and the thermometer couldn’t detect the right temp.
And while on the topic of thermometer, which brilliant person decided to put mercury in thermometers anyhow. I can’t read that shit! It’s all a bunch of lines. Faint ones at that. Bold. Underline and Italicize people!!

Do I need to go on? Bottom line? Kids have no business getting sick! It’s extremely hazardous on their parents’  (mothers…only mothers) health, nerves and disturbs their chi big time. It usually needs a couple of restorative drams of “big peoples’ medicine” to get them all bright and shiny again. Oh..not the kids. They get cherry-flavored meds…we get oak-cured, 12-years aged umm..syrups. Yeah…that’s it.

Achhooo!

For The Sake Of Venus…Mars Endures

Spent the better part of this morning following the antics of the wild peacocks which live in the large tract of open area opposite our home.

Usually I’m all about taking pictures, editing them and then just letting the wild life be; but today was tres interesting mainly because I witnessed some really unusual (for me) group dynamics amongst the birds which I’d never been privy to before.

With the monsoons underway, the peacocks have been more raucous than before and in search of a mate / mates. The group of peacocks I was photographing seems to be running low on peahens and has more than it knows what to do with- males. There’s a lone male with the requisite full plumage the birds are famous for, whereas the other males are a couple of feet short of feathers to be really and truly showy.

This poor bird was literally stalked, chased and cut down to size each time he started to preen or found a higher ground for himself where he could display his wares, as it were.

Each time a new male shadowed him while he crept about in the careful way peacocks tread and immediately got in his face till he folded his plumes and lowered his head in submission.Then the aggressive male went off to forage and his place was taken by another male who would keep the pretty boy in line.

I have never witnessed such behavior and it was like a live Animal Planet special unfolding in front of my eyes. And where were the peahens while all this posturing was being done for their benefit? They were calmly walking around, having their breakfast and seemingly turning a blind eye to all this machismo.

The things people do for love…sighs.

All in all, it’s tough for all species to get a mate and fine feathers do not an alpha male make!

Note: Photos from this morning’s peacock-watching session are available here.

And We’re 6…

Well WE aren’t six. We’re mid-30s and staying that way till the big 4-0 rolls over and flattens us into pancakes.

The brat is 6. And has a nasty case of sniffles and a hacking cough. Oh joy. A year older and about to be pumped full of meds. Which kid doesn’t want that?

We had a really small birthday party for him. Total stag. Last year he had more friends come over and then hid out in a spare bedroom and opened all his gifts while his little friends roamed all over and had fun (?).

This year, keeping his wishes and extremely large personal space in mind, Red and I asked him what he wanted to do on his birthday. After the gift list that he usually repeats ad nauseam a couple of times a week, he finally fixated on the group of little boys he goes swimming with. That’s all he wanted for his birthday party. 4 other friends who would come over, have cake, play some party games and have fun. Right? Of course right! Erm..not really.

They had fun. The hooting, hollering and racing around with voices raised confirms that much. The rest ranged from shiny-eyed munchkins who saw the chocolate truffle cake and said yummy to the ones who kept “encouraging” MLM to open his gifts and start playing with them.

I got requests for specific colors of cupcake frosting, flavors, juice and even inquiries about the goody bags to be taken back home.

By the time the partee was over there were happy, chocolatey kids who left with loud byes and fervent hand waves and we went back to a house that was still resonating with a kiddy party vibes.

Boy! Am I glad that’s over for another year.

Let’s see what kind of “fun” being 6 brings our way 🙂