Saturday, 28 February 2015

To Avijit and Rafida- letter from a sidewalk

Deserted and dark
I stand testimony- a sidewalk,
To the blood splattered,
dreams shattered,
the freedom lost..

Outstretched hand,
she stood alone
guarding her dead life
That lay sprawled
all over me

Rooted in me
Is this tiny life-
All green and strong.
Heroes never falter,
Death remains defeated...
on a stony footpath in Dhaka.

You are planted dear blogger
And grow we all shall..
Fighting back
Writing with might
For you and her.

Written for the bravest woman - Rafida Ahmed Bonna, wife of slain blogger Avijit Roy.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The art of being idle

 Warning* Extremely dangerous post ahead for Sarkari staff, read with utmost caution, save yourself from embarrassment and don't cringe. Switch on your lighter veins...Amen.*

Of late, treading on the murky waters of government offices and their complex labyrinth of politicking and back stabbing, I am STUDYING the art of being idle. Yes, you read it right, the ART of being idle. Not that it is an easy subject to broach, but the professionalism with which it is being done in these offices is astounding. Guinness Record Book ought to take lessons from these people, not the poor dabbawallahs of Mumbai. A careful, analytical, hypothetical study conducted has revealed the following types of people you come across every day in these offices-

1. "Idli"ng idler

As the name indicates, this person adores idlis, only next to Kushboo. His life is for the idlis, of the idlis and it ticks by the idlis. He will be the last person to enter into the office, 9.45 and in he barges balancing his heap of bags like a professional rope walker. Signing the muster roll, his first job is to open his delectable looking Tiffin box and gobble the white fluffy idlis dipping it duly in a cauldron of spicy sambar. The rate at which his mouth opens up and engulfs those sinfully mouth watering idlis is directly proportional to the rate at which he opens the files. Yes, you read that right- FILES! Washing his hands, he walks to and fro the Supervisor's table, not lost in thought, but lost in the count  of idlis that he had consumed.

By the time he arrives at the figures, the coffee wallah comes ringing, the fragrance of kaapi permeating the office's otherwise dingy smell. Shelling out a five rupee note and whiling away another good hour, our 'idli' man is now ready for work. He opens the file before him. His eyes play hide and seek, akin to the newly weds harrumphing on their honey moon. He has eyes only for her. His lustful eyes size up her. She is drool-worthy totally, he is going nuts with his want... to touch her. To open her and to feel the soft creamy skin and to hold her, pull her near and sink his hands in her, his insides twist...merely by looking at her- his lunch box! Tupperware had made a kill when it introduced these shapely lunch boxes, sucking out the money of such poor idlers. Dressed in pink, yellow, green and blue, tall, short, curvy, slim and sleek, she sits on his table bewitching him, beguiling him. Come lunch hour, he pounces on his beloved lunch box, his speed giving Schumacher a run for his money!

By the time lunch is over, his eyes are closed in the sheer bliss of having his lunch box all to himself for the next half an hour. His bulging waistline speaks volumes of his love for his lunch box. As his eye lids droop, images of hot, fluffy idlis dipped in sambar swim by his senses and he snores away happily. His slumber is disturbed by the Chai bell at three pm. Sipping the poisonous liquid with aplomb like a regal czar, he casts dubious glances at the file that now looks worn out and weathered due to the constant beating it takes of being opened and closed umpteen number of times. By four, he finishes his tea, comes totally energized and when you think he is going to start his work, voilà, he has his next task cut out- cleaning his boxes. Balancing the entire set of colourful boxes he treads to the wash room, almost licking his boxes neat and clean, lest the missus fire him for his incompetence. By five pm, he is all ready, packed and set to go home. Yet he sits rooted to his chair, his eyes transfixed on the office clock. He longingly casts glances at the minute hand, waiting for it to touch 45 and when it is 5.45, our idler bolts out of the office, putting Bolt and his records to shame. Day after day, it is the same vicious circle, run in and run out for our dear idler.

2. Inert reverent

When I say reverent, this has to be a 'she', definitely. She too barges in at 9.45, yet signs the muster only looking at her astrological chart that says raagu kaalam and auspicious time. Her open hair whipping her face says that she has took bath today, mind you, she has a strict schedule of bathing only on religious festivals and Fridays. Her face has that 'inner halo' emphasised by the pound of turmeric she had applied to her face in the morning, the combination of talcum powder and turmeric is deadlier than grease, I say! The moment she sits in her seat, she pulls out her favourite saint's picture where he sits cross legged with hands blessing her. This picture hides half her monitor yet she seldom is bothered. So long as His protective gaze is around her, nobody, mind you, nobody can trouble her.

When you think the monitor is switched on and she is starting work, she dutifully takes out her 'sloka' paat and starts with her daily prayers. An hour of pious chanting by heart, she opens another note and when you think she is going to type that letter, she starts writing 'Sriramajayam'. Hey Ram! Of all the places he had been, he would have never imagined being summoned by our lady at the middle of his morning tapas, when she writes two pages 'sriramajayam'. The next step would be, as you presume, work. No, you are mistaken. Today being a Friday, who would take care of the array of Lords sitting in photo frames hanging on the office walls? Our madam dutifully has bought a kilo of milk sweets, flowers for the Lords and takes out all the Pooja vessels lying in the dilapidated trunk box. You see, by evening she will collect money for Pooja of the whole month. Ringing the bell, lighting the camphor, agarbathis bellowing, the Lords are summoned to the office, to bring in prosperity. And boy, yes, our madam is prosperous by all standards, her hefty chains and handcuffs...oops...bangles jingling away.

Lunch hour arrives by the moment our Pooja is over and madam shovels her lunch. Next is the time for retrospection of the Divine, thinking and sleeping over Him will cement her place in Moksha. A hazy evening studying few more slokas and she is ready to get back home to her Lord of the Domestics!

3. Slothful sleepyhead

Of all the 'productive' staff, he is the best. The moment he enters office, he is hit by the 'sleep' bug. Eyelids drooping and walk staggering, he enters the office dutifully, right time. He signs, sits in his place...Atta boy...way to go. The moment his behind hits the chair, he goes to sleep mode. Nah...don't you think he closes his eyes and sleeps. He meditates, in fact deep meditates with his thoughts and ideas centred on...nothing. He is the Dhyaan Baba, doing penance in office and no one likes to disturb him, what if he wakes up and curses??? Other than our Dhyaan Baba is our notorious peon, who comes to office armed with the day's newspaper...After spending the first hour hallucinating in the office, our peon moves to the top most floor of the building, with vantage views overlooking the sea, with the gentle breeze blowing and ruffling his hair. Spreading the paper he stretches down, performing Nidraasana. He visits office bang on lunch time and continues his sojourn upwards for rest after lunch. By 5.45pm, he appears at the doorstep, fresh as a rose, poised to go home to his darling wife who would be awaiting him with a cup of steaming coffee...

4. Lethargic Unionist

Nothing much to add to this personality, who is busy all the time, roaming the corridors hunting for work. Categorically, rhetorically, he is all the time willing to work, but is anyone willing to give him work? Well, he starts work and gets a call. He restarts and gets a meeting call, he re-restarts and ends up in a fight over a coffee. See, he is absolutely ready to work, but the staff wouldn't let him, right? Apart from office work, he has the job crafting letters, posters, arranging meetings, dharnas, hartals, and the most important work of all....collecting subscription. Do you know how hard it is to collect money for union from a sarkari staff? They want transfers, retentions, bathrooms, rests and tell me gentlemen, do they all come for free? We need money...helluva lot of it. You got the moolah, let them dish it out honey...If everyone cares about work, who will care about everyone? Only our Unionist will. So the next time he asks for money, better dish it out, rather than flimsy excuses like 'my daughter is getting married' or 'my mother has a surgery'.

Apart from these specimens, we have the nose picker, tooth plucker, head scratcher, chappal reviewer, check out checker and the list seems to grow longer than the Great wall of china. Whatever they do, or fail to do, the wheels move on...oblivious to the din and the noise. You are not the Atlas. You are not Hercules. No one is going to raise a plaque on your cemetery saying you were revered by the office. Have no qualms, no reservations. It is after all office and you are entitled to relish every bit of it. Yet, for the sake of the people, including you, who pay the taxes, do justice to the job you are in. That has made you what you are, after all.

P.s.: This post is dedicated to ahem...all those friends in office.
P.p.s.: Wishing Mother Teresa does her Second miracle to attain Sainthood...let the khakis get some brains;)
P.p.p.s.: The after effect of three months in these kind of offices- I have gained 3kgs. To hell with the weighing machine. When does it weigh accurately??? ;)))

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Non-judgementally yours!

One harsh post ahead. If you are a misogynist, chauvinist, ego-dystonic, domineering tyrant male of the Homo Sapiens species- warning, please DO NOT read ahead, get back to your cricket, couch and potato chips. Others...have you ever wondered how a man looks at a woman?

It is reverence when he looks lovingly at his adorable mother. "Aakir woh maa hai". He waits for the word from her mouth. Every twist in her lips brings out the Hercules in him. His eyes await her  finger snap to enter alert mode. He stands wishing he could hide behind her Pallu when she adoringly pats his head and says..."mera beta bahut seedha sadha hai" to the in-laws.  He can brush only when maa is nearby, he has  free potty time only when maa cooks to his taste and he can sleep only when he sets his eyes on his mom crying over her favorite soap. Comma. 

Enter the wife. The moment he sets eyes on his wife, he is smitten. " Arrey...maa ko daalo chulha mein". From the day he is married (finished, legally and technically), he has eyes only for the Missus. With huge puppy eyes, he watches her go from 40 to 80 kgs in a single year. It is with the same devotion and determination he watches his toddler pampered by the lioness. His eyes feast on all of the 80 kilos, she is his property, after all- signed, sealed and delivered.

So far, so good. Now comes the hardest part. How does he view the average woman next door? The girl at the super market's counter? The lady who whizzes past him in her bike? His colleague who rushes into the office holding her hand bag and lunch bag like a born weight lifter? At the woman next to him at the lift who is huffing and puffing, chewing her lip..?*Stop your dirty thoughts* She is late to work and is probably contemplating which grandmother she has to kill today for her late attendance.

The idea about a woman who is neither his maa nor his wife is spoon fed to the Indian male mind as someone from the tinsel town or magazine covers. Man, he looks first for the *sparks*! Every female other than maa and the missus must be 'ready to be judged'. And the sparks indeed fly- you need a  weighing scale and a 'fairness' meter for that. If a woman is reed thin, has the skin that is anywhere between 8 and 10 on the fairness meter and has the brains of a hare, she is drool-worthy...Add to this a voice that gives jitters to Latha Ji. The combination is lethal. Oh yeah baby! Covet her! Lust her!

Did I tell you how he looks at a saree- clad woman? She has to be ahem...proportionate. A look- alike of Kareena in her Chammak Chalo number gyrating would be like an oasis to a thirsty man. His eyes size up, judge and pass snide remarks to his otherwise loving heart. Genuinely he feels, God has created every woman for him to be judged. And boy he loves them when they are dumb and knuckle heads. The fairer the lady is, the 'innocent' she is. The venom in her would actually put a thousand black mambas to instant death. Poor fellow, he never knows, as he never gets past the shell. The leaner a woman is, the 'likeability' factor shoots through the stars. Fat women are gross. God, why can't they exercise, diet and be more 'presentable'? 

Dear Mr. Judge, have you ever seen beyond the facade? Have you ever actually noted your colleague's intelligence? Have you ever spent a few minutes wondering how every woman you come across is a successful mother, a loved sister, a doting wife, a true friend to someone? 

Every woman's life is filled with dreams, ranging from a holiday to a successful shopping trip...from a clean kitchen to a correct fit dress, from a successful business venture to a blockbuster book on self esteem. All she needs is a look of admiration from the people around her. To be acknowledged as a human being and a friend, rather than being judged on her skin, tresses and physique. Share the love with such unknown women who we see on the road everyday, who we meet everyday in our life. What better would a message be, than spreading love and affection among the unknown, unsung and the unnoticed? Love everyone, judge none. Happy Valentine's Day, folks!

p.s.: This is a fitting reply to that 'friend' of mine who asked why I couldn't be like my friends...lean and fit. Face-palm yourself mate!
p.p.s.: From the chaaiwallah to the Kejriwall'aaah'...Delhi has once again proved its might. Kudos!
p.p.p.s.: Patting myself for the regular posts. Someone get me a plate of carrot halwa dripping with ghee...would love a few more pounds on me ;)

Sunday, 1 February 2015

The Club Of Noisy Women

This time over, no apologies. A blogger does deserve a break, right? So long as it is not a bone that is broken ;) I have indeed had a very satisfying short vacation to the most divine and wild place- Valparai. Hell no, this is not one more travelogue. I reserve the travelogue for later. This time, it is going to be a post on shhhhhh...silent...calm...gentle....

I am an expressionist. With large eyes protruding from an equally large face, I ooze of well...sound! I am noisy. Not nosy. How is that? Being a woman and noisy? Being a lady and laughing out aloud? Being a woman and witty? Being a woman and walking with head held high and shoulders squared? If you have the same decibel of laughter emanating from you that grips everyone around you, well, welcome to the Club of Noisy Women, ladies!

Having grown up in one of the most conservative village, which is at the heart of a wildlife sanctuary, I am not used to that melodious and mellifluous voice. Though my female cousins inherited the oh so sweet voice of nightingale, I happened to inherit the gruffest kookaburra's voice. It always is a few octaves higher than my mother would have liked. It rose to so many octaves when I was chatting away with friends. I required lot of 'disciplining' from my mother to bring it few notes lower. But I am sorry mom, it has never worked! I just pretend to keep my voice few decibels lower when with family. When I indeed feel happy, hormones wreak havoc and I am the usual 'me'.

I was taught the art of walking for a long long to keep your legs one after the other, crossing each other. Right, then left, the toe placed right at the heel of the right. I wonder why a woman is taught how to walk...when everyone expects her to run! Fetch is the game the family likes to play with her- 'bring my tie', 'mom! Where is my pencil box?', 'amma...where is washing powder?' all questions bombarded at the same moment and being the lady of the family that you are, being responsible, you are expected at 101 places at the same time. 

How would it be, if you walked like a model on the ramp when the husband is yelling at his maximum capacity for the forgotten keys? Somewhere along the 36 odd years, I forgot how mother taught me to cat-walk. My walk now resembles that of a zombie at times when I am early to work and that of a waddling duck when I am late. I envy those women who pretend to be oblivious to the surroundings and walk with such clinical precision of a cat, how much ever late they may be!

Hopefully the number of mothers who now ask their children, especially the girl children to 'keep low' and to 'walk gentle' has dwindled. The myths of olden days when a girl who talked soft, walked gentle and laughed minimal being held as someone with a 'kind heart' and 'girly' girl remain shattered today. All of us have seen otherwise- those 'silent whisperers' are not always that soft and those 'rowdy louder ones' are not that harsh, when it comes to their lives. Those who have been at the receiving end of their arrogant stubbornness of the so-called gentle ones of the female species, would know by now that 'voices and walks' are deceptive!

It really doesn't matter how you dress up. The decibel of your voice seldom defines what you are. Your walk never reveals your inner strength and attitude. Whenever I see classes that teach 'soft skills' all I do is heartily laugh. Do you need someone to tell you how to be someone else you are not? Do you need someone to dress you up and put you on a display? Window dressing is needed only when you are not marketable ;) Instead, it is the attitude you have towards life that keeps up your image. Just be you! Laugh freely...walk with confidence! Love the voice that resonates from you. Romance your laughter. Enjoy the way you saunter...Shed your false skin. Leave out your pretensions. The world is ours!

p.s.: I do blog erratically. Guilty as charged :)
p.p.s.: I loved the Narendar Damodardas Modi suit. Narcissism has reached a new level and boy would I like Victoria's Secret to make ahem...such customised undies for women in hostels ;) You know why!
p.p.p.s.: Once we had to hang pumpkins to ward off evil spirits. Now it is sufficient to hang pictures of Rahul Bhaiya...see, the entire Congress Camp is empty!!!