The State Of This World

Disclaimer: This blog post is purely my opinion piece rather than any kind of an indictment on any individuals, societies, or beliefs of any kind. While it is backed by inputs I have come across over social media, it is not being cited as any kind of conclusive empirical data.

I usually refrain from writing opinion pieces about matters which polarize a community on the whole. It’s not merely a thought about any potential backlash but also because the numerous viewpoints floating about often muddy the waters more than show a clear path.

The Gauri Lankesh murder is one of those issues which stayed with me. Not merely because of the act by itself but also because of the tidal wave of opinions that have almost succeeded in drowning out the matter at hand- a journalist was killed.

Whether she poked the sleeping lion once too many times, whether she was too outspoken for her own good or whether it was one of those unfortunate drive-bys that we tend to witness more in other nations; the prevailing opinion seems to be that who she was, what she stood for is what most likely got her killed.

This is what I feel about death: I am pro-choice; which often results in the death of a fetus. I am pro-capital punishment which inevitably leads to a painful death. Whether it’s deserved or not; someone must have once cared for even the most hated rapist, pedophile or even sadistic murderer. And if that’s the case, surely the death of an erudite, opinionated, socially-conscious individual is likely to generate a stronger wave of impact on society overall? There must be a larger mass of people mourning her, her ideals?

A lot of her detractors have painted her as anti-establishment, anti-national, antis galore. But very few have backed up their responses with any kind of evidence to support their stance.

Twitter, the dumping ground of the masses, literatti and the cognoscenti overall, has a huge number of people lauding her death while an equally large number of people seem genuinely distressed that a voice has been silenced for good.

Some tweets (and retweets) of hers do have a rather juvenile (IMHO) facet of her showing up; with irrelevant and unwarranted potshots at the government at power and also groups associated with them.

Case in point: taking a picture of a latrine which has the word “Modi” on it and plastering it on a world-wide social media platform and captioning it as a pun on the Prime Minister’s name surely wasn’t in good taste? But if the rebuttal is “neither was Godhra and its subsequent fallout” then we’re par for course because the locking of horns will begin well and truly!

I am for Freedom of Speech and Expression but never was that freedom given to be absolute! Likening the head of state’s photo with a visiting dignitary as that resembling a “gay marriage” again didn’t seem dignified let alone respectful or even relevant in any way whatsoever! What was the provocation? And ultimately, what it did it prove?

Don’t we have enough valid instances to call out the PM on without resorting to commenting on his married state, his having served tea or having been in the ranks of a society which is a cult only if one chooses to look at it as such.

Is every one who pledges allegiance to the tenets of RSS a bigot? Waiting to put an end to all races to proclaim the glory of Hinduism? Do the members of the Sangh Parivar deserve to have their mothers dragged into a discussion on a public forum, along with the circumstances of their conception? What is the value add?

But I digress. Gauri Lankesh did not deserve to die this kind of a death. She ought to have stuck around, done her bit to shape the consciousness of those she came in contact with and spread knowledge in the most purest form; inflaming minds in the most effective and meaningful manner.

Her written word, her personality would have been a better legacy to leave behind than a cold corpse on the autopsy table.

Those who knew her or her work will probably say that her detractors won’t be able to diminish her aura or her worth. But I feel compelled to ask…wouldn’t it have been better if she had picked her battles more appropriately? Apart from not having to pay such a heavy price, she could have definitively contributed to the kind of society she sought out for herself and everyone in it.

Movie Review: Dam Sharks

Damn! Is what you’re left to utter because you’re otherwise chortling helplessly at sharks performing gymnastics in a murky lake somewhere in a podunk town when geeks and their asshole-y boss ( Jason London in an unforgivable role)gather for an offsite. Say hello to DAM SHARKS!

Add a small town sheriff, with a customary ornery old guy and a bunch of people who were hired to get killed within a few minutes of the movie starting and you have Syfy’s latest atrocity on the human civilization. And just in case you still wanted to watch it, here’s the spoiler- there are these sharks, we don’t know where they came from. We don’t know why they came. We don’t know where they’re going but they’re killing people  and building a dam with the body parts. *FACEPALM*

Syfy’s fare seldom gets to the “it’s so bad it’s actually good” stage. It’s languishes at “that’s very darn pathetic but am too lazy to change channels and let’s see what the shark’ll do next”.

The actual victims here: the sharks! Jaws made them look menacing, helped tremendously by John Williams’ score; Deep Blue Sea had a few flinch moments and also had Saffron Burrows as eye candy for the men and Thomas Jane similarly for the women. Sharknado was a laugh-a-minute riot with people trying to remember why Tara Reid and Ian Ziering looked kinda familiar to but not enough to spark an instant recollect. But movies like the Sharnado sequels, and this dam(n) one (‘cuse the pun) just relegate these amazing creatures to ridiculous props in a movie which could have also been a bloodbath, scream fest but just turns out to be replete with stony-faced actors, painfully spewing out their dialogues and not much else.

Creature movies don’t *have* to make sense. If it did, Jaws couldn’t have gone beyond the first movie and created vengeful great whites seeking out the Brodys no matter where they roamed in the world. But a creature movie that makes you laugh, totally defeats the purpose and then some!

One of the worst scenes in the movie: a wanna-be Katniss Everdeen who mouths Roy Schneider’s classic line, “Smile you SOB” and then shoots a paintball arrow into a shark causing it to….wait for it….explode!

But I was bored and I often test myself to see what’s the worst I can watch and for how long…today proved to be a watershed day…I can truly watch tripe. Beginning to end. Doesn’t say much about it now does it?

DAM!

Ode To A Shopping Mall

Today I have seen misery. I have seen faces full of despair, hopelessness and utter exhaustion. I have also seen people look defeated and rundown and resigned to the vagaries of life.

I refer to the crowds outside the waiting rooms of the shopping malls. And specifically to the male of the species who have girlf(r)iends and wives (hopefully both not in attendance at the same time) who have disappeared into the black hole that a changing room turns into on weekends.

These females, usually arms laden with clothes a size smaller than needed, march into the fray that gets them rooms the earliest and park their better and increasingly embittered halves outside with another heap of outfits that would clothe a small county.

These hapless men have handed over their lives, their wallets and most importantly their weekends to these sirens who will ask them two of the most difficult questions a man has to face in his life:

  1. How Do I Look?
  2. Does This Make Me Look Fat?

Both answers must be accompanied by starry-eyed gormless looks of admiration towards the questioner. And in case there was any doubt of any kind, the answers for question #1 can range from – great, awesome, amazing, woohoo hot!! and others of its ilk but must never be- OK or have a shrug or non-verbal that conveys indecision or anything less than adulation. And that ready reckoner was for the b.fs. Husbands already know there is no correct answer. Usually.

Answer #2 is a bit dicey but the rule book (yes, there is a rule book) says that this noncommittal answer is usually good to go-” I don’t think so/or I don’t see it; what do you think?”

Turning the question over to the woman in question may save your hide but in 20% of the cases it may rebound on the victim with accusations of never saying anything nice/complimentary or never taking a decision. Ever!!

Like the time she asked what did you feel like eating for lunch and you said (good naturedly), “Nothing specific. Anything works for me. Choose what you want.” She said, ” Cool, let’s have Chinese” and you said, “Gawd…Chinese again?!!” and kept thinking all through your Sichuan fried rice why you were feeling a distinctly arctic chill in the restaurant. Oh well.

Back to our hapless menfolk…they stand shoulder to shoulder, united in agony; waiting for the love of their life to say the magic words, “Ok..am done.” But they don’t know something more insidious is waiting for them…the serpentine queue where they’ll have to stand for another multitude of mind-numbing minutes till the clothes get paid for and if someone really has bad karma, the significant other will suddenly remember (after the bill has been paid) that the loyalty points have not been added to their card. Because 9 out of 10 times, the check-out person will direct them to yet another understaffed, overcrowded desk to get things done!

Alea Iacta Est (the die is cast).

P.S: If I didn’t have to swat away mosquitoes while I type this out, I’d have written a few lines about the young hotstuff chica whose morale I destroyed by picking up the same culottes she was reaching for. I guess I looked old and hausfrauish enough for her to rethink her wardrobe choices in toto!

Ah! Sweet Youth.

Frankenstein and Kettle bells

Disclaimer: I have no verifiable knowledge that Frankenstein’s Monster ever used kettle bells on those brawny arms of his. However, if he had, it would totally explain why he walked like he had an atomic wedgie going on 24/7!

*  For the uninitiated am going to add a link here about what an atomic wedgie is. If you need to refer to the link then you’re one of the good ones who doesn’t believe in noogies and spitballs either. I’m not posting a picture of the horrors of an atomic wedgie because it may very well fall under cruelty to animals.

Let’s continue shall we? Well…I’ve been quite wishy-washy about going to the gym and I paid for it. Oh boy, did I pay for it! My gym instructor thought I should try out the latest instrument of torture aka the kettle bell.  I tried it and by the end of the routine this was me; praying for deliverance!

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Anyhoo, all that praying didn’t get me much. Then. Once I got back home and over the rest of the day it seemed like someone had applied the brakes to my thigh muscles. I’ve heard of lockjaw. And now imagine lockthigh instead. Or rather imagine a short round woman walking like this for 2 days! But much S-L-O-W-E-R!!

Everything about growing older, not eating right, not taking care of your body comes with huge epiphanies. Mine was all the couch potatoness I’ve displayed all these years. I could have read while using the treadmill or just taken out 20 minutes out of my day even every alternate day and done *something*. I didn’t. And fell prey to an innocuous-looking cute, round thing which now I equate with being on the rack!

Jokes aside…don’t go to the gym if you don’t want too much structure and routine. But take care of yourself else it comes back and bites you on the rather sizable glutes you’ll end up having.

People don’t know what lifting weights is till you’re pulling your body up from a slanted plane or holding it up on your elbows while trying to stay steady and not belly flop on the gym mats. Or when your arm muscles jiggle like Jello and you find yourself wanting to melt into a puddle because then you wouldn’t be in any kind of shape and hurt.

But stick with it and the endorphins kick in and it actually does ease the aches and pain. It also makes you want to try out latest bane of your existence, if only to conquer it once and for all!

Till then you put up with your mind saying stuff like this to egg you on-

After A Hiatus…

It has been 22 days since I last blogged or even created a draft.

I wish there was a reason for this kind of a gap but there isn’t anything except for me being unable to gather my thoughts. And now that the thoughts are gathering, it’s akin to a storm brewing.

So I had a long-ish summer holiday with the offspring. We traveled a bit and had new experiences. Defining experiences for me as a parent. Am more confident of being able to chalk out holiday plans for the family without necessarily opting for safe options like a place with access to a pool or a beach. That’ll always be the fallback option but I am happy to say that slightly longer journeys, altitudes are no longer off the table.

On the personal front, I was sluggish to say the least. Didn’t get much done. Took a fraction of pictures that I’d normally have taken on earlier trips and pretty much retreated into the Kindle while still looking for something fun to give me a little impetus.

Speaking of the Kindle, it’s become an extension of my hand and I’m eyeballs deep into authors who primarily write about the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest. To say that their books include the wilderness and dense forests and more than average snowfall would be to undersell it. But their tones are quite similar because these geographical areas of United States are very diverse from the sunny parts of the South or the West Coast. They are also quite different in the tone and nature of the people who are depicted in the novels based in the East Coast.

It’s bucolic but the climate, the geography is as much a character in the novels as the actual people themselves. Maybe it’s the weather that calls to me (crazy I know) or my mild yearning for Seattle based on years of binging on Grey’s Anatomy but I’ve had the words Puget Sound and names of small counties of Washington State and Minnesota tumbling through my head.

I’ve also discovered that I need to learn how to scuba dive because taking pictures of the husband and offspring underwater gave me a sense of peace and joy unlike anything in the last few years.

As basic the images were and while nowhere in the neighborhood of work such as this gent, it was still a lovely experience nonetheless and made me want to explore it further. In fact my list of places of hit (eventually) already includes this. Of course if we end up doing this, my main concern will be the offspring wanting to move undersea permanently or not coming back up till he spots all his favorite behemoths.

All said and done, long summer or not, it’s been an experience. Of growth, some backslides and lot of plans for the months ahead. Not a total washout in my book.

 

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Bedhair: A Quick Look

Have you ever had one of those days when you got up, stumbled to the loo, turned on the light and thought,”Dang! My hair looks awesome!” How’d it get like that? No? Well, that’s understandable…the likelihood of bed-hair looking good rather than freakish…well the odds are against it.

I can categorize my bedhairiness ranging from mild to oh-my-god-give-me-a-hat.

It can manifest in a mild cowlick a la Dennis the Menace that I either ignore or pat down with some water to the slightly creepier Bride of Frankenstein look. 

Btw, I chose Mrs.Frank as a reference point because a) Einstein’s hair is just so passe b) I am graying these days ergo…

Anyhoo, bedhair is only troublesome if you have to meet people. Especially people you don’t know and have to make small talk with while some other work is on-going in the background.

Nothing is makes conversation falter more than having a head of hair is which partly curled inwards and the rest is staticky and pretty much pointing every which way it wants. Some days there’s just not enough hair serum in the word.

I remember a scene from the movie Moonlight and Valentino (not worth watching) where Elizabeth Perkins wants to look more attractive for Jon Bon Jovi and gets her hair styled to get a “I just got down from a bike” look and when she sets out on a date with JBJ, he of the less than perfectly styled head of hair, rolls up the windows because he doesn’t want his hair to end up looking like hers.

But away from all the references, the way you wake up in the morning, makes a huge difference to how the rest of your day plays out. You can go from happy to hilarious to hillbilly in a manner of seconds. The worst situation is when you think there’s an intruder standing right behind you- your hair looks *that* out there!

So, slightly vain people…oil your hair a bit especially if it starts to frizz, don’t comb it with 90 brush strokes like you read you needed to do before bedtime. We’re challenging a lot of the gyaan the 90s threw at us and always keep a spray bottle handy…it’ll either help you calm your hair down or jerk you awake to see the intruder you thought was lurking behind you, was just you with an angry head of hair and grumpy countenance.

P.S: not a single bad hair day can compare to this lady though…so take heart…

Of Deaf Leopards&Animal Scat

I’d overslept this morning and headed out to the gym midday, MLM in tow. Boy! That should have tipped me off exactly what would ensue while driving those measly 4 kms. But by all means, let me wax on and wax off Daniel-San!

Sorry, couldn’t help the last bit. Watched the original movie after ages and have been saying Wax-on, Wax-off in my head. Damn you Pat Morita!

Anyhow, among the less than pleasant traits that the offspring has inherited from moi is his urge to listen to the same song till he tires of it. Never mind others are already stuffing their ears with whatever they can to stop the earworm from advancing, but MLM and I remain oblivious to our surroundings and keeping blaring the songs.

After a few weeks of Fugly- Fugly ruling the roost in the car, I was finally given an opportunity to play something I wanted to listen to. A random selection brought up Vault and Hysteria came on. The little man instantly liked it (YAY!) and asked me who was singing. I often think about filtering my words before speaking to him but I was navigating through midday traffic and thoughtlessly said, “Def Leppard”. And we were OFF!

From laughing his hieney off about leopards being deaf to talking about big cats; I heard it all. I heard about animals marking their territory albeit in the uncensored version aka the leopard does “susu” on the tree and then kicks some sand on the tree with his feet backwards et al”.

Note: Anyone who doesn’t know how kids talk might think it was a very special kind of leopard or it was a mutated one, but “with his feet backwards just means with his back feet.

On we go…once he started talking about the big cats, I had to hear about each animal marking it’s territory, one by one. After the leopards came the tigers, lions, cheetahs, the jaguars, the ocelots, the panthers, the pumas and the snow leopards as well.

Just as he was running out of breath and I was pulling into the parking another thought meteorite hit him with a bang! “But why don’t they poop when they pee?” is the question he wanted answered.

As I herded him out of the car and up the steps I thought to myself, this kid is either going to be a naturalist a la Attenborough or he’s going to be a zookeeper! In any case ‘deaf leopards’ is a moment etched firmly in the annals of mother-son time.

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