Sunday, March 27, 2011

New Series: Bitchfest, Episode 1

I've never been so irritated in my life! I am surprised and mystified by the way people's minds work, all because of this one person. In fact, I am so irritated that I decided to start a new series on my blog, called Bitchfest. I will occasionally rant here about people who are stupid, ignorant and uncultured. Yes, that's just the beginning! I have to get this out of my system, or I'll never be able to do anything else.

So here is the first episode of Bitchfest, titled
How often do you wash your hair? Or how to become an American in one easy step!

All you people out there, how often do you wash your hair? A typical Indian washes their hair 2-3 times a week, often after oiling it. Sometimes oiling it the night before. Sometimes no oil. But growing up, I washed my hair 1-2 times a week (and of course, always for a party or special event). Every country, I think, has its own habits of washing hair. After coming to the US, I learnt that most Americans wash their hair everyday. I never gave this another thought and continued my usual habits.

Last year, I was in conversation with three other girls, two Chinese and one Indian. The conversation turned to hair. Both of us Indians said that we washed our hair twice a week or so, and often oiled it as well. The Chinese women were surprised: they had always washed their hair everyday. Then this other Indian girl, lets call her K, started telling them about how it was bad for hair, and how you should not wash it everyday as this meant more chemicals in hair, etc. etc. and so on. Now, this convinced one of the Chinese girls and then she said she would also wash her hair less often. I remembered this conversation very well.

Now, almost an year later I was meeting K again along with two other girls (not Indian or Chinese). Girls being girls, the conversation again turned to how to keep your hair pretty. And K then said that now she did not get time to wash her hair everyday as she was now working. I stared at her, flabbergasted. So I asked her how often did she wash it now? And she said that she now washed it 2-3 times a week, but earlier she always washed it EVERY day. I was baffled, since this was exactly the opposite of what she had said last year. Since I recalled last year's conversation very well, I asked her again. And again she said that before she started working, she washed her hair every day.

Till last year, she was a fervent supporter of the fact that hair should be washed less often. And she gave lots of examples of the same, trying to convince the two Chinese girls. Then suddenly she learnt that Americans washed their hair everyday. And an year later, that is what she professes she did.

What went on in this woman's mind? That saying she washed her hair everyday would make her American? Or she thought I had completely forgotten last year's conversation? Or that she genuinely had/ has no sense of self and can pretend to be anything she thinks is better? So, she has such an inherent lack of any sense of self that she quickly copies what she perceives as being more superior (in this case, American habit= superior). Washing your hair everyday makes you better? Wow, that is new take on status symbols.

I wonder how this person's mind works. Is being in America so difficult that she employs these weird stratagems? Maybe she feels out of place and is doing this to feel at home. In that case, I would suggest she take pronunciation lessons. That would really help!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Kucch saal pehle jo mod liya,
chuna thha maine raasta
Aaj usi ki wajah se jo hoon main,
waheen se shuru meri daastan

Woh mod bhi ajeeb sa thha,
ajab si kahaani thhi
Kuchh raaste thhe dekhe huye,
kuchh raahein anjaani thhi

Kuchh raaston mein badi thhi bheed,
kuchh raaste veerane bhi thhe
Chuna maine usi raah ko,
jiske khilaaf zamaane bhi thhe

Thoda ladkhadaate thoda sambhalte huye,
naye raaston par chal padi
Dekha na mud kar puraana shahar,
nayi duniya mein nikal padi

Thokar mili aur mushkilein bhi,
mile naye dost aur humsafar
Nayi duniya mein nayi duniya basi,
nayi shaamein aur nayi sahar

Yun zindagi chalti rahi,
yun zindagi badal gayi
Mai khud ko peechhe chhod kar,
kitna aage nikal gayi

Phir achaanak is khalish ko dekh,
mai chalte-chalte dar gayi
Kahaan thhi wo, wo jo thhi mai,
wo jaane kahaan kidhar gayi

Ye dari huyi chup si mai,
ye mai to mai kabhi na thhi
Nayi duniya ki nayi si mai,
ye mai to ajnabi si thhi

Awaaz di maine mujhe,
dhoondha bahut idhar-udhar
Tere bina kuchh nahi thhi mai,
tu kahaan gayi mujhe chhhod kar

Tere bina na mera wajood,
tere bina na guroor hai
Tu mujh se hai mai tujh se hoon,
tu kyun yun mujhse door hai

Meri awaaz ki goonj aayi,
kuchh ajnabi se mod par
Mai chal padi phir us taraf,
nayi raahon ko chhod kar

Wo khadi thhi mai ik mod par,
jo jaana-pehchaana sa thha
Ik raaste par bahut bheed thhi,
ik raasta veerana sa thha

Maine khud ko dekha mud kar,
phir bheed mein gum huyi
Mai dekhti hi rah gayi,
tum mujhse kaise tum huyi

Ab gali-gali aur raaste,
phir khud ko dhoondh rahi hoon mai
kaheen tumko dikhe to batlaana,
wo jo gum huyi, bas wahi hoon mai…

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Impressions of the latest version of India

Its been a while since I wrote anything here. Mostly because I had gone to India for about a month. A month of non-stop travel, family, food, fun and clothes! Yes, I always get the latest newest Indian wear in every India trip :)

And now back to my D & B (dull and boring) life here. Again and again, it comes to me how India has changed, some for the better and some for worse. I left India right at the time it was teetering on the very brink of globalization- now, of course, it is totally over the edge. I came to the US in 2005- and the last five years have meant massive change in India. Not everywhere, though. Some things stay the same, some regress and some progress. For example, one can now see (and travel on) better roads. They are improving the roads, which were abysmal earlier. Its slow but its happening. New highways are being constructed all over North India, which is where I mostly traveled.

I was also very impressed with the new airports, I saw both the Hyderabad and New Delhi ones. They were world-class with superb facilities, efficient staff, sparkling clean, helpful service oriented people everywhere (be it the airline or the airport staff). The airline staff deserves a special mention- they were so friendly and helpful and sweet! Another thing that I noticed was that in airports across the world- at least in India and Europe- at the airport security check in, the staff helps you. They take your hand baggage, put it in trays etc. This happened to me both at Frankfurt and everywhere in India. So why doesn't this ever happen in the US? Why is there never anybody to help before security? I mean, I'm sure its not needed- though it might be very helpful to first time travelers who don't know what to remove- but it provides that extra touch of service that makes all the difference.

So what remains the same? Yes, same old, same old. The country will never accept its daughters. Yes, female foeticide is getting worse. So much so, that it is not considered remarkable or wrong, but spoken of rather matter of factly. Much like recounting an amusing anecdote. Actually, that is exactly what did happen to me. While meeting some extended family, this happened in two separate instances. Both mentioned acquaintances of theirs who had sons after two daughters (and 3-4 foeticides in between). Let me make it clear, these conversations were about the fact that how great it was that they finally had sons. And so the foeticide was only mentioned in passing, as an irrelevant factor. This practice has become so common that it not only ceases to repulse, it even ceases to be considered. It is the way of things, after all, one should do everything possible to get a son (in these instances, I only speak of North India, where this son craze is reaching dangerous proportions).

The next thing that irritated me no end was that nobody ever switched off their cellphones for aircraft take-off and landing. Nobody! Ever! I just don't get it. I took two domestic flights in India, and it was the same every time. I kept wondering why this was so, in fact spent the two hour flight wondering about this phenomenon. What made Indians ignore the rules? And I came to the conclusion that most Indians have it hardwired into their system that they are above the rules. Hence everybody talks on their phone, nobody waits for the seat belt sign to get switched off. This could also be the reason behind India's abysmal traffic situation. Or corruption. Wow, this is a brainwave and maybe I should write a paper on this: Why Indians don't follow the rules?

So, I am leaving you with this funny advertisement from Reliance. Which captures Indian follies and foibles and still makes you laugh :)