Saturday, 30 April 2011

The Royal Wedding- will it work this time?

My mouth still agape with wonder, i write this post! The Royal Wedding is finally over, we got to see a pretty Duchess and her equally lovely sister. The couple have left for undisclosed location in a chopper, may be to the Kenyan Game Reserve where cupid struck for both of them. Lady Di must be in happy tears Above and must be praying her son finds her daughter-in-law interesting for a few years atleast! The interest Kate's Wedding attire and the wedding itself generated was so huge that our 2G, Kalmadi dins faded away into oblivion. Kalmadi would have secretly wished the shoe that nearly missed him was Alexander McQueen's Royal creation, not an old Bata!
Kate's Ivory Duchesse satin shoe by Alexander  McQueen
Wouldn't it be Heaven to be hit with this marvel, Mr Kalmadi?

The entire Wedding ceremony was on a cost-cutting spree, starting from the Volkswagon buses that transported the Royal Juniors. Atleast the Royals took the advise of Mr Tharoor seriously and travelled cattle class from Palace to Westminster Abbey! Everyone starting from the pageboys, bridesmaids- (should i call them brideskids?) choir boys, clergy, priests, Cardinals- were shining in new dresses and shoes. Oh, to mention bridesmaids and forget Pippa Middleton's dress? The sister of the bride was a sure dynamite in her Sarah Burton ivory gown, Kate why did you allow her to choose that dress? She looked more stunning than her sister- ahem, Prince Harry did steal a few furtive glances that side! Pippa upstaged her sister again in the evening, that emerald Alice Temperley gown...i am speechless!

The Alice Temperley Emerald shimmer!
The stunning Alexander McQueen of  Pippa:)
Well, so did the pillow fight happen in the evening, Kate? Kate's gown was demure, not such a fashion statement she usually portrays,  but McQueen as well. Probably the laced sleeves and shoulders were attachments after the rehearsal! And the soft angora covering her strapless second wedding dress? Kate has become Royal after all and covering up seems to be the priority. Wedding is not all about designer gowns, clutches and parties. Better ask the Spencers, Katie. Di looked more impressive, more fresh and lovely in her meringue gown and 25 foot train. Look how the wedding to a Royal changed her-
Lady Di, seated alone in Taj on a visit to India,1992. She was estranged then
and split up the same year.
The smile with which the I do part of the wedding was done was sure stunning, but we shall see how life of a Commoner to a Royal will work out. The string of Royal Exes seems staggering on both the sides- Willem Marx, Rupert Finch on Kate's side and ....sigh...shudder...i may need a long line for William's list- Davina Duckworth-Chad, Rose Farquhar, Jecca Craig, Arabella Musgrave, Olivia Hunt, Isabella Calthorpe...Will is known to be notorious for his roving eye, probably inherited from his Dad! The relationship between Kate and Will had been tumultuos all these years- innumerable break-ups and patching-up. But how will things work out after the wedding is to be seen. Will might need some help from his Arab allies, probably...wink...wink...
The Royal Couple.

As for the average British taxpayers- Don't worry dears, the Royal Wedding has been paid for from Windsor's coffers, not your money. Oh, did i forget something here? 65 cents of every pound collected as tax ends up in Windsor's Coffers! Shall we sing the British National Anthem as a fitting tribute here? God save the Queen...

Who will save the tax payers burned butts? Sare jahan se achcha...!!!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Brides Wanted

*Australian citizen, 39 yrs/ 6 ft, professional Whistle-blower, six- figure salary, own house, car, company, well-travelled, teetotaller(?) needs tall, fair, slim, beautiful Indian bride willing to settle in Iceland or Switzerland, depending on which country grants asylum! Contact- P.O.Box No- 110011 or Smith's Norfolk Mansion, Ellingham Hall, till July 12, 2011.

*Indo- Italian citizen, 40 yrs/ 5 ft 6", professional politician, wealthy, own wing in national party, teetotaller needs tall, fair, slim, beautiful Indian bride ( Spanish women please excuse!) willing to settle in a joint family and become next Bahurani. Contact-10, Janpath.

Looking at the matrimonial profiles of these two Most Eligible Bachelors in the world, i am surprised! Men, are you not supposed to fall in love at 20, date for another 10 years and marry at 30? No wonder one is facing extradition charges for sexual assault case and the other one is aptly called Amul Baby! Assange dear's sexual encounters are "consensual" and will be dealt with as per Swedish law. Lucky dude, all that happened in Sweden, not Saudi Arabia- imagine if a thief loses his hand for stealing in Saudia, what our Assange loses!

Nomadic lifestyle that suits only maniacs, no permanent address, innumerable 'consensual' sexual partners and wallet full of money- excuse me Paypal, you acted too late...Assange's whistle blows everywhere, its shrill noise has reached India just now. May be some wealthy Indian politco will marry off his Iklauti Beti to Assange just to save his name from being released in the 'Swissi'leaks! Or may be Assange should marry one of his 'consensual' partners urging them to drop the case, as it happens in our Bolly and Kollywood masala movies! Another option would be to look for an unsuspecting victim bride in Iceland. It is the only country that can be safe- eskimos of Iceland must certainly be unaware of his heroics and could find him a prospective bride within their clan. Daniel Assange wouldn't mind being called 'son' by a two- braided eskimo lass!

Picture courtesy- Cartoonstock

Oh Ra(h)ul's left out of the party! India's most eligible groom is still learning lessons from Mamma. Spanish sweet heart Veronique Cartelli seems 'politically wrong' and so Mamma has now opted to play the Matchmaker. Be it Kingmaker or Matchmaker, Mamma always plays the role with aplomb. So the choice is now limited to lucky partymen who have young and beautiful betis. Harvard degree ( Cambridge seems repetitive!), few thousand crores stashed away in Swiss lockers, Royal Gandhi or Nehru nomenclature- even Surya'gandhi' will do-voila! that is the bride we have been waiting for.

Mamma would love an early marriage- see, Maneka's son married already...why should Raul be left out? Bahurani must wear silk cotton sarees only and must sport a tame pony-tail till eternity! And as devout and sincere Indians, to that family and to its people, we pledge our devotion. Bahurani shall one day be our Prime Minister and i hope we all shall live that long to see her- shall we Raul? Or will Car-telly win the rat race and become next Bahurani? Bahurani or otherwise, Telly girl needs to pull down her skirt (literally!) and roll up her sleeves to work- courting Mamma's boy is not cakewalk!!!
Rahul and Veronique
Pic courtesy- googlesearch

Saturday, 23 April 2011

A family lesson

The effect of Rajkumar and Sooraj Barjatyas and their large family gatherings always had a great impact on me, right from Hum Aapke Hain Kaun days. Families have shrunk from being joint to disjointed and nuclear. The big large family is a rarity these days, with grandparents, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, sisters, brothers, sister-in-laws, brother-in-laws:- the list is ever-growing. Our families these days are so compact- parents and two kids at the most. Gone are those days when we had entire mansions as houses- our lives these days are cramped in 800 sq ft apartments where we seldom know the neighbor.The cookers at home looked like cauldrons, vegetables had to be cut by a group of women, in some houses the stoves were ever-burning!

Living in one small "inter"national family where the inmates visit home once a year for a month, i was in for a pleasant surprise when i visited one of my husband's friend today. Razack is a Superintendent working with my husband who visits home once a year. All these poor "Gelf" employed men visit home once a year, picked up from airport by a battalion of uncles, aunts, brothers and sisters. Zack is no different. Every time he comes home, a tempo traveller picks him from the airport. We visited Zack's newly built home today. His is a joint family of three siblings and their families, living in a two bedroom house along with their aged mother. The shrill laughter of the children- four of them playing greeted us from outside. All the four women of the house were busy cooking and the menfolk were taking care of the outdoor construction work. Remember, this is a normal day in their house.

I always have deep respect for Muslim families who live together, having seen many such loving families whose men are employed abroad. This particular family has completely withstood the test of time, held together by the guidance of the widowed mother and the siblings' commitment to live together. There may be some hiccups like in every family, but so overpowering is the sense of belonging among the little ones who call each other and hold hands, play together. May be i learnt a lesson from the little ones. The chit chat of the women cooking and the men talking lingers in my mind as i write this. Being a 'solitary reaper', i left their family with a heavy heart. A stoic silence envelops my living room as i enter my home and i say to myself my own slogan for the umpteenth time- "There is nothing that money can't buy, for everything else, there is Mastercard!"

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

To be or not to be...The Versatile Blogger!

This is one nail- biting dilemma. I was so happy to see the message from my dear fellow blogger Meera Sundararajan who has graciously awarded me The Versatile Blogger Award, along with two more lovely bloggers. I really don't know how my lunatic style and haphazard babbles impressed her so much, i am really humbled...Thanks a lot dear Meera! Now as the chain of awards must move on, i have to write 7 honest things about me, mine and myself...ahem...ahem...Truth about me is always unnerving, especially when it is in public forums. So, here I go about me-

1. My mother thought- Oh no...and the Doctor said- " Shut up!" when i was born, till this moment i keep my babbles on. My mother suffered 24 years of my blabbering and finally gave up when she left for her Heavenly abode, handing over the baton to my dearest Hubby. I am such a talkative, all my friends seldom get the chance to air their views when with me...which they find it convenient enough, so that they can remain engrossed in their own thoughts. The first thing i love about me is TALKING.

2. I can never mask my feelings. It is absurd to cloak everything behind a pleasing smile. I am explosive emotionally- i cry at every masala movie's climax and laugh at any cartoon- especially my friends Tom and Jerry! My dear friends know that and always give me some space when i am upset. Anger brings out the worst in me- i can sure pluck your eyes out when i am in anger. Over years, i have tried to master the art of silence when in anger but in vain.The only person who can understand and bear with my emotional topsy-turvy is again my poor Hubby dear.

3. Social issues have always intrigued me, i try to reason out and think rationally on any issue. I hate women who are utterly selfish enough to watch serials, cook sambar and sleep at nightfall. As women, we have the power to think, to express, to change the way the world is today. It is horrible to be sitting at home and tasting chicken biriyani when Anna Hazare is fasting! As responsible citizens WE the people have some responsibilities and duties towards our country. It is irritating when people talk for hours about cricket and don't even know what is RTI...

4. I am very bad when it comes to judging people. I fall for the wrong people at the wrong time and end up being miserable. I trust anyone easily and it is only after a few tears and fasting episodes i learn my lesson. Well, till i trust the next person which happens in the next few seconds! I have lost a lot of friends because i trusted too much and by now, i have learnt to mistrust everyone.

5. I am more of a family person, my children, my husband and my family comes first in any situation. If i were career-oriented like most of my peers and friends, i wouldn't be here blogging, but cutting away some one on a surgery table- or rather, i would be scratching my head and some books in some office as an auditor! I believe raising responsible children is far more important than cleansing the society off its ills.

6. Though i am not a culinary expert, i love to tickle my taste buds a lot. I love to try out new dishes at home or at restaurants. As one of my friend pointed out- I live to eat, not eat to live;) I love my coffee with three spoons sugar, i like to end every biriyani with a coke and i finish any meal with a dessert. No one knows when life will be snuffed out, so taste any delicacy, indulge yourself and simply put- live life tastefully!

7. I love these lines of Robert Frost-
" The woods are lovely dark and deep,
But i have promises to keep
And miles to go before i sleep,
And miles to go before i sleep."
These were the words written by Mother on my bedroom walls before she died and i take it as her last message for me. I wish my writings ignite a tiny spark in a hundred hearts and bring about a hundred smiles.

Now is the toughest task of nominating three Versatile Bloggers.
My first choice of Versatile Blogger would be my first blogger friend Susie Johnson. Stuck in the Sandbox and scratching my brains as to what to do next, i came across her blog googling and i fell in love with susiesbigadventure. Her voice is bold, clear and righteous from the dark land. I hope her voice reaches many more people just as it had reached me. She writes elaborately about life in Saudi Arabia, which is totally behind the iron curtains. I took to blogging only because of her and i am happy to name her as THE VERSATILE BLOGGER.

My serious, sedate and at times dull style of writing underwent a sea-change when i started reading blogs from India, especially my heart-throb blogger Purba Ray's A-musing. Purba has a distint humor current underlying in every word of her posts and i am a HUGE fan of hers. Her persistence and deft handling of even serious subjects humorously must earn her more name and fame. I wish she writes a book soon- Purba, dying to buy the first copy!

Another of my fellow blogger Sadiya Merchant's Yeh Life hai...take it lightly is another lovely blog. Sadiya is certainly a great Versatile blogger, she handles topics humorously and touchingly as well. Her letter from a child is one of my favorite reads. I wish her good luck in writing more such lovely posts.
All said, thanks for your rounds of applause friends, do visit these blogs and relish great posts by all these Versatile Bloggers. And thanks again dear Meera, for the recognition and faith in me! Good luck to you too!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Jarawas of Andamans- a forgotten tribe

Miles and miles of dense rain forests stretch on as the sumo continues its bumpy ride to Baratung. I shift and struggle to remain seated. Our convoy might have had atleast fifty vehicles, all continuing the 45 kms stretch lead by a bush police on bike. I have seen many pictures of the Jarawas in Daddy's photo albums from the Andamans dating back to 1973. Wearing only colored roots as dress, holding bows and arrows, the Jarawas of Andamans always have fascinated me. After nearly forty years, i might be lucky to see one of them in the Reserve. The Jarawa Reserve is a dense rain forest starting from Junglighat and extending till Baratung. It is said these tribals never move beyond this island. The Great Andaman Trunk Road is said to be a perfect recipe to disaster for the Jarawa tribes, but simply to ignore the hardwork- the years of painstaking labour, the sacrifices of poor Tamil labourers who built the road, the bush police who had laid down their lives protecting these road workers is incongruous.

Who owns this Paradise?- Jarawas or Government?

Daddy had worked as a Jawabdar in early 1970s when the road was first laid straight inside Jarawa heartland. He used to describe the hardships there, the leeches, the horror of people struck by tribal arrows and the miles he had walked on with a small trunk box on his head. When we alighted at Junglighat waiting for the convoy to muster, Daddy showed the camps where he had stayed. The journey went smoothly till we had our first look at the Jarawa children, all wearing shorts, begging at each vehicle. Shocking, they were asking for biscuits and tobacco. Children aged 6 or 7, begging for tobacco, armed with bows, arrows and sickles. Photography of Jarawas is punishable offence and interacting with them too. We had already locked the doors of the vehicle, but the Jarawa children were trying to unlock them from outside. All this happened within a few seconds the vehicle slowed down. 

Picture of Enmey- the first Jarawa contact with outsiders
A few minutes more into the journey, we see a Jarawa woman, armed with a bow. Two more men stand guard and she comes around the vehicle looking for food. I tried to look into her eyes, all i could see was hunger and anger. Civilisation has not touched her. For some strange reason, though the men wear clothes, the women don't. Worse still, she tried to dance, some strange movement and then extended her arms for begging. That was the moment i felt ashamed- ashamed at being a woman, ashamed that even sixty years after Independence, our sisters remain undressed and ashamed that we have taught the uncivilised tribals how to beg. Hearts heavy, our vehicle moves away as we see many more such tribals begging. Government forbids any contact with Jarawas due to the risk of disease, by the Protection of Aboriginal Tribes Regulation,1956. But the rules just remain in book, many of the tribals have become addicted to tobacco, their children to biscuits and cakes and their women to rampant sexual exploitation. Though they remain antagonistic to the tourists taking the Andaman Trunk Road, they remain friendly with the bush policemen and the road workers. 

Some of them have even approached a school in Tirur to have their children educated. The issue of Jarawas is complex, they remain fiercely protective of their tribal roots and discipline with total disregard for outsiders. May be that is the reason why the Government can't bring them to schools and proper settlements. It is ironic when organisations say they would like the Jarawas to remain per se. Is it not our duty to atleast let them don clothes and eat a decent meal? Forced settlement of these tribes had been on the cards, but dropped. Simply saying, the Government is clueless as to how to settle these isolated people and take care of them. But poaching, land grabbing, illegal tourism and exploitation will wipe out the Jarawas soon, there are only a few hundreds of them left. The Andaman and Nicobar administration is still deaf to the voices of Jarawas. I hope the Central Government sits up and takes notice of this issue and settles down these poor tribals before it is too late...

Monday, 4 April 2011

Tailor- mad(e) solutions!

I feel like hitting him with my handbag, but remain smiling focusing on a distant void. He scratches his head and continues to look bemused. I am not going to rise to his bait, i think to myself. Perched atop a shaking stool, i refuse to budge and it is now half past ten. All i can hear is the tut tut tut of his sewing machine. My eyes blur now but i sit rigid and by the time the hooks are tied and the blouse is in my hands, i let out a breath of relief. Thank God, i can attend my wedding wearing a blouse! I rush to take my train at twelve midnight, straight from my tailor! Our family has a great history of sitting with tailors and snatching stitched dresses at the strike of twelve midnight- starting from New Year night mass to Christmas night mass. My maternal Uncles took turns to wait in the shop of Star Tailor to get their pants stitched. Those were the days when there were no seros, peter englands- we had only Saravana Tailors and Star Tailors. Star was a star those days, uncles came to New Year masses well after twelve, with safety pins in pants- no time for fitting the zip you see!

Pic courtesy- Google
When i grew up, i was more attracted to readymade garments- salwars and skirts. But when i had to wear sarees, the readymades failed miserably and i had to find out a standard tailor. I started experimenting for almost three years. One stitched it too tight, one too big, one missed sleeves, one forgot to stitch hooks. After so many trials and errors, i settled for Sabari Tailors, Srirangam. It is almost half an hour drive from my home, but distance doesn't matter when  it comes to blouse and dignity! Fondly christened ANNA by me, Sabari anna stitches well, corrects flaws well but the only drawback- he never gives the dresses on time. I had to beg, threaten, weep and once sat for two hours stubbornly in his shop asking him to stitch a blouse. I hate that person who found out the saree-blouse combo.

Fed up with 10 day stitching period for a single blouse, i tried to stitch one on trial basis from a lady tailor nearby. Usha too was the same, she finally handed over the stitched blouse after 15 days. But to my shock and dismay, i found it a good few sizes smaller, may be she stitched it for my imaginary younger sister! But having a tailor nearby is always handy, so i gave her cotton salwar materials to be stitched once in a while- that are fit to be worn strictly at home only! Then i gave her curtains, bedspreads, towels- she is now aptly called "patchwork" Usha!!! Any wear and tear- Usha is there! I wish i took my stitching class seriously when i was in school. They taught us lot of types of stitches- herring bone, lazy daisy, french, back stitch, chain stitch, about twenty varieties. What they failed to teach us- how to get work done by a tailor!
Ranganathan Street- Pic courtesy Wikipedia
Talking of tailors and how can i not talk about T Nagar Ranganathan street's famous Tailors? Spinsters do weird things like do impulsive shopping. I was a worse example, when i boarded Pallavan Express one fine morning. Got down at Mambalam and bought some salwar materials in Kalanjiyam. Now came the thought, why must i take this all the way to Srirangam to stitch? There were innumerable tailors waiting for orders around Ranganathan Street who stitch in a jiffy and i decided to try one. I selected the most distant one who was obviously free. Handing him the materials, i was told to go shop for accessories and be back in an hour. My mouth dropped open, my eyes almost popped out an hour exactly later when the neatly pressed dresses were delivered with a smile! What service! I doubted the size, but they all fit well! After so many such impulsive trips, i was familiar with these inkie winkie tailors. But i lost touch once i got married and there was no time for such shopping trips to Chennai.

After a few years, i decided to test the waters there. Having bought four sets of material, i gave to one such tailor and collected it promptly after an hour. Imagine the look in my face when i tried one of the dresses when i got back home. First one- two sizes large, second one- failed to pull down beyond my head, third one- off- shoulder, fourth one- all rolled in one. Stupefied in shock, i ran to "patch work Usha" to correct them. After lot of hard work, she managed to rectify them, as usual fit to wear at home! Nobody else can get on my nerves so worse as tailors! God knows what happens tomorrow, Sabari Tailors is to deliver five sets of salwars tomorrow evening by eight. My train leaves at ten. That gives me 2 hours grace time to catch the train. Two hours is one helluva grace time, what say Sabari anna???