Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

Why?

I just got home from a preview of A Mighty Heart. All the way back, I kept asking myself why: why do I watch a movie like this? Why do they make such movies? Why do people act in such movies? This is my first movie “based on horrific recent event”. I did not watch the Oliver Stone movie, nor the Paul Greengrass movie. Don’t get me wrong, A Mighty Heart is a very god movie. Strong narration, good acting, solid cast, excellent score. It is also surprisingly dignified. And yes, it’s lovely to see Irfan in another movie. And no, Jolie doesn’t wreck the movie. 

But I believe there is no winning with such subjects or their treatment. The better they are, the worse they are, aren’t they? This question of whether such a movie is tasteful is so not the point. Is there a tasteful way to tell the story of a person who was beheaded and cut up into ten pieces? Is there a dignified way to watch such a movie? No. And yes, all of this ranting comes from a person who did indeed just watch this movie. Much of this anger is directed towards myself. I tried to defend myself to myself by recalling that a) I’d never seen one of these movies and b) I’d read good reviews. But come on! Seriously.  

At some point during the early part of the movie (before I was too caught up in the story), I felt like Edward Norton’s character from The Fight Club – when he visits all those support groups. These movies feel like the worst possible form of voyeurism. No one wants to be in Mrs. Pearl’s shoes. But clearly, at least some of us are curious to find out what it must’ve felt like. Since the incident was all over the news, you don’t walk into such a movie expecting an education. No, the real motivation is to find out what it feels like to get emotionally shafted, by watching someone else get shafted. 

The same accusation could be made of someone who read Joan Didion’s last book (guilty again). But at least with a book, you have the opportunity to get analytical. You react, and then you measure your reaction by comparing it with others from the past and so on. With a movie, such a luxury is absent. You only have enough time to react and then it’s time to react all over again. 

I thought about whether these movies would be any easier to watch if they waited for some time before they release them. They really can’t, can they? They have to get the movie out before people forget the incident. I understand that. But I still don’t understand why suddenly there are enough of such movies for them to warrant their own genre. Heck, there are enough variations on the stories for there to be subgenres. We’ve had The Queen, United 93, World Trade Center, Black Friday. But we return to my original question – why? Well, no more for me. Some of them are fine movies, and more power to them and all that. But I am through with them. 

PS: When I look at that list, I have to sheepishly admit that I’ve watched 2 of those movies (Queen & Friday). But they don’t really fall in the same class as A Mighty Heart. The Queen is dramatic, not traumatic. And Black Friday is a fine procedural. And yes, these are lame excuses. Gah!

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Super, ladder, boyfriend, husband or bar stool?

I got back earlier this week from a short trip home. Obviously, I haven’t been sleeping too well. Last night, the jet lag was aided and abetted by the smoke alarm. It is apparently running low on battery. It was beeping its sad beeps when I got home from work. Over 24 hours later, it continues to beep. Only, I no longer think of it in such sympathetic terms. It’s a tale of so many twists and turns, not to mention frustration that it could almost qualify for an episode or two of a Tamil day time soap. I’ll try to keep it simple:

This smoke alarm (henceforth referred to as ‘Spawn of Satan’ or ‘Evil device’) is fixed to the ceiling of my apartment. Personally, I possess neither the height nor the mechanical equipment necessary to reach said Evil device. Naturally, I called the Building Super (henceforth also referred to as Satan’s Lieutenant or Blot Upon Apartment-dwelling Humanity). He expressed regret and conveyed the impossibility of visiting my apartment before the next morning (closer to noon, really). Since I cannot afford to take a day off simply to cater to the whims of assorted Spawns of Satan, I asked him if there’s any way I could leave my apartment key with him. This Blot Upon whatnot suggested that I leave the key near the mail box, assuring me that this is a super secret spot only he knows about, and is hence perfectly safe.

Around noon today, he calls me to tell me that there’s no key at the agreed upon spot. No, what he says is that there is a key, but this key does not belong to my apartment. His theory is that someone has taken my key (key to apartment 3B) and replaced it with that to apartment 3D. This baffles me. If an undesirable element of the city has stolen my key, surely, one does not expect him or her to play bartering games. Satan’s Lieutenant helpfully explains why in his view this barter is entirely possible, indeed probable – apparently the woman in Apartment 3D is quite used to leaving her key near the mail box for friends to pick it up. His theory is either that my neighbor left her key, and picked up mine (which again makes no sense). Or that her friend took my key and in a mood of Christian giving, left the key to 3D in this spot, which to me is beginning to look less and less like a super secret spot known only to government agents and building supervisors and more and more like the forest of Arden, where all and sundry assemble to exchange keys, and goodness knows what else. Mr. Super Spy No More calls me again to let me know that he has called the occupant of 3D and left her a voice mail, but if I do run into her when I get home, I should ask her about my key.

To cut a long story short, after an afternoon of nail biting frustration and abnormal blood pressure, I manage to get spare keys from my leasing agent, only to come home and find out that my key has mysteriously materialized back at the agreed upon spot. Satan’s Spawn continues to beep. The only difference is that it does so from my bathroom now. The Super was guilty enough about the affair that he left me his ladder, which I used to successfully take the device down from its lofty perch. But the battery change turned out to be more complex than I expected – there are wires involved. Hardware stores in the neighborhood are already closed for the night, and I’ll be spending one more night with His Evil Beepingness.

Friends and acquaintances who know the story have offered a few suggestions:

a) Make nice with the Supervisor, give him Christmas gifts and so on, so that he is more receptive to treating such situations as the emergencies they actually are. Problem is after today, I don’t want to make nice with this man.

b) Acquire a ladder. Not a bad option. Most independent of the lot – but where do I find the space for a ladder in a New York studio? For something I will need once a year, if that, it just feels like too much trouble

c) Acquire a tall boy-friend – the theory being that a boy-friend will find it more difficult to refuse to come help out, as opposed to a tall mere-friend. Fair enough, but this solution has the same problem as the ladder – barring these once a year emergencies, what do I do with him for the rest of the time?

d) Acquire a tall husband, the theory being that this is a more ‘permanent’ solution than a boyfriend. But problems listed under c and d apply here as well. In addition to those, the acquisition of a husband apparently also involves at least one if not or more of the following: quitting my job, moving out of my Studio, moving out of New York – which makes the whole changing batteries part moot, really, so this isn’t really a solution. (OK, so quitting my job has nothing to do with batteries, but it’s a big deal to me, so deal with it.)

Given the grief these so called solutions come with, I’m giving serious thought to a fifth alternative – bar stools. Taller than regular chairs, useful round the year and in more ways than one.

 

 

Can we please put Darcy behind us?

I am huge fan of Jane Austen, but get over her already! Perhaps I’ve been spending a little too much time at Barnes & Noble lately, but it looks like old Ms. Austen can give Dan Brown a run for his money, in the category of “works related to one bestseller”. See this sample from Amazon to see what am talking about. I’d assumed that some enthu pattani must’ve attempted a sequel, but never imagined there’d be so many!

This series from Elizabeth Aston takes the cake – she’s written a series of books based on minor characters from Pride & Prejudice. One of the many books in her series is about the daughter of the the girl Darcy didn’t marry! If this weren’t bad enough, there is this one, which gives Pride & Prejudice a Da Vinci Code twist (egad!), with shades of Possession thrown in for good measure.

What I really want to know is why B&N stocks these silly books in the Literature / Fiction section. Can’t they stick ’em in the ‘Romance’ section, so that the audience that is presumably interested in these books will actually find them, and the rest of us can avoid these things altogether?

Of course, the fascination doesn’t stop with the one novel or the characters in it. It extends to the Austen herself. A new movie wonders if P&P was “inspired” by events in Austen’s life. You can see why the idea appeals to suits in media – forget speculating about what might have happened to Darcy after he got together with Elizabeth – he could be real! The day is not far off when some bloke from England will claim to be the descendant of the “real” Darcy, and will probably get to be the next Bachelor or at least be on Big Brother.

We are all either turning into 5 year olds who don’t want to stop eating ice-cream, or we’re a society of obsessive compulsives who cannot let things simply be. The question is will we get away with a belly ache, or will we need to check ourselves into a psychiatric facility?

Give me strength!

Our system of public entertainment needs fixing. It’s pointless to allow the performers (whether live or on screen) and the audience to be in the same room as each other, when the latter has no respect what so ever towards the former. Two incidents prompt this plea for radical reform.

I spent the entire first forty minutes of Guru dreading that something would go wrong with the movie. For isn’t a good set up always followed by a let down? Of course, there was little opportunity to worry about such mundane matters. I kept getting distracted by the trivial fact that people were still walking in, while those sitting down were waving their cell phones to these late comers in the wild hope that a dim-wit who is incapable of telling time will suddenly see one faintly-glowing cell phone for the pole star it is meant to be and head straight toward it.

On screen, we’d moved past Istanbul, the Sherawat threat had been contained. Rajiv Menon treated us to sweeping views of some gorgeous Indian village, where it rained oh so prettily, on a totally unmetallic Aishwarya [1]. I heaved a sigh of relief. Maybe this one wasn’t going to be so bad after all. Then an uncle-ji decided to sit next to me. He’d spent the last 10 or so minutes walking up and down the aisle, looking for an unoccupied seat. As I’d dreaded, he finally spotted the one next to me.

But I was soon glad that I was sitting next to this empty spot, and not behind it. You can’t just walk into a New York movie theater in January and start watching a movie. No, you have to strip yourself of however many layers of winter clothing you’re sporting. Uncle-ji did just that. He stood up and removed what felt like 20 assorted items of winter garments. Meanwhile, on the screen (yes, annoying of me to keep bringing up the movie), the heroine had run away from home and had started a cutesy-corny conversation with the hero. I heaved a sigh and started a trip down memory lane, dreaming of old Ratnam movies. Bad form to wander off like this in the middle of a movie. Old uncleji next to me brought me swiftly back to the present. It was samosa-time! He left, and came back with the damn Samosas, which he was sweet enough to offer me. If the lights had been any brighter, the expression on my face might have warned him off – but as things were, I tried to give him a polite, trying my best to convey to him the idea that I was there for just the movie, really, as kinky as it was.

What is it with desi audiences? When you see a theater showing a movie for 6:45 PM, and your watch or your cell phone or the sun or mars or whatever device you use to keep time says 7:15 PM, turn around and go away! Come back for the next show, and be on time. Just try it, once. New life experiences can be loads of fun. As a veteran at this sort of thing, I promise that this is one experience that’s utterly worth the blood, sweat and tears. I am irritated all the more by the fact that the very same set of people usually don’t stoop to such bad behavior if they’re watching a Hollywood movie. I decided I’d never watch another movie at a desi theater, if I could help it.

Who says karma is a long-drawn out process? I was punished for my reverse-jingoistic tendencies the very next day – at Carnegie Hall, where the Orchestra of St. Luke’s performed Bach’s St. Mathew’s Passion. The first 20 or so minutes were fine. Then some kid started saying something in a very loud voice. Since I was perched up in one of the Hall’s nosebleed seats, I couldn’t see where this spawn of Satan was seated. Honestly, who brings a kid to a choral performance? The kid’s chatter apparently liberated every adult in the hall to behave just as badly.

People dying of consumption should stay at home. If their dying wish is to listen to Bach, they should get their friends or family to loan them a really good CD player. They should not be allowed to attend live performances. Ditto for throat-clearers. Unless they plan to sign the next aria, they can live with a scratchy throat, can’t they? But these weren’t even the worst offenders. No, that prize goes to the jerk a few rows behind me, whom the Fates had decided to supply with some Velcro. How are you to grieve for the son of God, when the son of man behind you is very slowly ripping Velcro (as if doing it slowly kills the noise!)

Aarrrrrrrggghhhhhhhh!

Don’t people realize that it took a cosmic miracle to be in that spot at that exact point of time? Apparently, 3 of the 5 passions Bach composed are lost forever. I don’t know what quirk of fate brought this music composed by an Austrian composer 300 years ago to New York on a cold winter evening. Don’t people appreciate the miracle, the tens of miracles, it must’ve taken to simply get all these elements together in the same room?
[1] What is it with desi celebs dunking themselves in bronze paint? They have metallic skin, wear metallic make-up, and am not just talking about the women!

Wish I had some answers

Many weeks ago, I read this via India Uncut. An ex-Pachaiyappa’s girl, I know a thing or two about ‘eve-teasing’. My first reaction was sputtering rage – instead of turning the girls away, wouldn’t it be even more convenient to keep them in little pens, till the male er, “students” need a break and could use a distraction or two? Why don’t they ban the men instead? Arrggghhhh

I started writing a post about it the same day, but as I always do when I start to write about this particular topic, I stopped. There didn’t seem to be any point in ranting about it. Usually, am too angry to be coherent. OK, so a mere lack of coherence doesn’t stop me from blogging, I know – but to me this topic is too serious, and too personal to idly rant about, without at least trying to make some sort of sense. Why a change of heart now? Not sure – I suppose this was another incident too many.

If women always withdraw from the problem (and in this case, the withdrawal isn’t even voluntary), isn’t it foolish to hope that the men will someday learn to not behave badly? We don’t ban McDonald’s although their outlets also present a form of temptation to a lot of people. [1] What makes the authorities of this college think their case is any different?

All societies have rules that reinforce good behaviour and discourage bad behavior. In the case of ‘eve-teasing’ this seems to not work at all. Is it because only one-half of the lessons get reinforced? Every girl in Madras knows that she’s “inviting” trouble if she’s going to walk through Pachaiayappa’s College Hostel after dark (or before dark for that matter). Just as every girl in Delhi knows that it isn’t the best idea in the world to go to India Gate for ice-cream at 2 in the morning. Every city has its own rules. These rules aren’t exactly handed out as part of your welcome-to-the-city package. But we women somehow manage to hear of them, and in many cases heed them.

Wonder what the heck is being done with the men? Are they not being told often enough, or are they not listening? They seem to have figured out (at least most of them,anyways) that driving on the wrong side of the road is not a good idea. So it’s not that they are incapable of understanding a rule and behaving accordingly. It is impossible for me to believe that any parent actively encourages this particular behaviour in their child. It can only mean that while we all emanate a general sense of ‘respect women’, we don’t seem to do such a good job at expressing why ‘disrespecting women’ is as big a no-no as driving on the wrong side of the road is.

As far as I can make out, there are two ways of getting people to not act in certain ways – through fear of punishment, and by shaming them.

Fear: With this particular form of sexual harassment, fear of legal forms of punishment haven’t been working. Madras, for instance, goes through its phases of “under-cover ops”. Those unlucky or stupid enough to get caught in the act are probably taken to the police station and kept overnight (or is it for a few days? who knows what happens with these cases). Everyone jokes about undercover cops for a while. And when the operation stops, we’re back to square one.

Increasing the severity of the punishment is not a fix, because legal punishment can be meted out only to those who are proven guilty. A crucial step to that is to get women to report these incidents. And frankly, I don’t see that happening. As an ex-Madras resident, I didn’t “report” a single incident. If I felt particularly bad about something, I’d come home and curse for an hour or so, and that consisted of a generic rant against idiots (when I got to the part about wanting to castrate all men, my parents usually figured out the reason for that particular rant, as I did rant a lot). I didn’t feel comfortable explaining the details to my parents. I sure as hell wasn’t about to give a detailed explanation to some bureaucrat.

Besides which, almost every woman I know, including myself, will examine herself first – ask herself, “Did I do something to attract this sort of behavior?”, no matter how illogical the question is. Women almost always manage to find some way to answer that question in the affirmative. Finding faults with yourself makes it so much simpler – if you can blame yourself, you’re still operating under the assumption that you have control over the situation, and can therefore you can “do something” to avoid it in future.

So fear of of legal punishment doesn’t look very promising. The only other form of fear I can think of is one involving some sort of spiritual punishment. All religions seem to do a pretty good job of inculcating a deep fear about some event that will take place at an unspecified point in the future. But I doubt that announcing that eve-teasers will go to hell is going to solve the problem. How about starting a rumor that that eve-teasers’ dicks will fall off? As much as I wish that were actually true, I doubt that this would be successful either. As religion knows, threatening people with abstract forms of punishment (or offering them abstract carrots, for that matter) goes only so far – at some point, people expect the threat to be carried out, and let’s face it, we can’t make either of these two things happen.

Shame: Call it wishful thinking, but what I’d really like to see is an increase in the shame associated with committing an act of “eve-teasing”. Partly, I want the men who engage in this act to feel as small as it makes those at the receiving end feel. And partly, I believe that guilt / shame may be a more effective and efficient means of enforcement as opposed to other options that involve more paperwork.

Am trying to imagine what it must have felt like when a group of stone-agers (or whoever) first came up with the collective decision that, say, farting in public is bad. Am sure it must have ruffled a few feathers, but they did manage to get most people to get the idea. Let’s go with something more recent – talking on your cell phone in a movie hall. This is a behavior which evolved recently (so there’s no reason to chalk it up to “oh, it’s always been a bad thing to do. No one knows why, we just try not to do it.”) and about which, as a society, we’ve managed to come up with and enforce some “rules”. If you do it, the worst that can happen is that you might get thrown out of the hall (and this is what I imagine will happen, as I’ve never seen it actually happen). More likely, you’re going to get shushed by your neighbors. In order to avoid a little shushing though, most of us are willing to turn our devices off, or be courteous enough to to walk away when taking a call we “have” to take.

At any rate, we seem to have come to a collective agreement that none of likes to be a victim of this particular bad behavior. Is the fact that men simply don’t know what it feels like to be at the receiving end [2] the reason why we are unable to come to a unanimous agreement in the case of harassment? If that’s the case, our chances of reaching that that unanimous agreement are slim to none, which shoots my “shame” theory out the window as well.

All of which leaves me with zilch. I am as frustrated as I was when I began this post. That harassment is about power and will continue to happen as long as one gender wields more power than the other sounds like a nice enough conclusion – it is suitably abstract, and expresses the right degree of despair and disapproval and very distant hope. But I don’t want to conclude that way. Why do women have to put up with with this till whatever unspecified future time when the gender tables might just turn? What can right-thinking men and women do today to make this stop as soon as possible? I so wish I knew.

[1] This isn’t necessarily true, because that’s exactly what the city of New York is doing by banning trans fats in restaurants [Link]
[2] The old line about perpetrators having mothers or sisters of their own doesn’t work because something that might happen to someone else is not the same as that something happening to you.

R.I.P. Hell no. At least not just yet… I hope…

1. To drive across a continent simply because I feel like a long drive some afternoon
2. To get so drunk that I don’t remember how drunk I was
3. To imagine that this person may be “the one”
4. To meet at least 10 such persons about whom I might imagine #3
5. To be young and silly and make memories that I can bore /embarrass my future family with

Tonight, I think I should just accept reality and lay all these ghosts of dreams past to rest. Why tonight of all nights? Because it’s 1 in the morning, and I just got home from a baby shower. An event for which I:
– cooked all afternoon [1],
– unscrambled words like basinet, bingo’d others like Moses Baskets, listed ones related to giving a baby a bath, and ten more around a bed-time theme
– missed standing week end crib calls with 2 girlfriends
– was asked to dress up “girly” and so wore pearls and a skirt, only to be told that I should wear pants more, and get earrings to match the pearls [2]
– combined the names of 2 sets of parents-to-be to come up with baby names
– played seemingly endless rounds of antakshri, only with baby names instead – with alternating rounds of boy names and girl names

Life seemed to be fine. When did my world get overrun by the married-with-kids mob? I realize that someday, I may decide to have a baby or two myself. Hell, someday, I may even decide to marry someone. But until I do, I don’t think I should hang out with married couples anymore. And especially not married couples with children, present or future.

If any of my married friends is reading this, please do not be offended. It’s not personal. I enjoy your company. But I feel like I’m bypassing single-dom. As rotten as life feels like at the moment, apparently, these are the best years of my life. There’s a 99% likelihood that I will get to your phase, but not just yet. For now, I just want you to accept that there is that 1% chance that I might not do all that I ought to do, or all that I’ll end up doing anyways.

Somewhere between talk of whose parents are arriving when, fixing up car seats, and onesies and layettes [3], I woke up and didn’t recognize my life any more. Is this the dirty secret behind what happens to single people? One day, you realize that you’re living the life of a married person any way (attending baby-showers, cooking for “intimate soirees” for 25 friends, discussing housing prices, and having no sex), so why not go all the way? The next thing you know, you are married and find that life isn’t so bad after all, because it hasn’t really changed all that much.

I need to get a tattoo, a DUI, something, anything to remind myself that I am NOT married. For when it comes to marriage and children, it ain’t over till you actually buy one of them baby walkie-talkie thingummies.

[1] OK, so I made one dish. But tomato rice for 13 people isn’t exactly like turning up with a bag of chips.
[2] That has nothing to do with babies, but I am in the mood for ranting, so let’s not quibble.
[3] On the minuscule chance that you’re single, you’re probably hearing these terms for the first time. I’m not going to explain what these things are. Hold on to your innocence for a few hours more. Cherish it.

Why too much TV is bad for you

Of late, there’s been a new topic to rant about in week-end calls with friends. Polygamy. At least 2 of my friends have watched the new HBO show, and well, so do I. There’ve only been about 2-3 episodes so far, and already I see a disturbing pattern emerging. My blood comes close to boiling when watching the show, and I relish making caustic remarks about it with friends, who in turn agree and come back with equally caustic responses. We swear we won’t watch it again. And the next week end, we’re having the same conversation all over again.

In this week’s episode, the question that my friends and I had anticipated, and which has fuming with indignation but also stuttering with nothing better than “But…but that’s not the same thing! At all!” finally came. If same-sex marriages are unions between consenting adults, doesn’t the same principle apply to polygamy? Let’s face it – it is the same thing. I just don’t happen to like it.

I almost miss the days in which the only thing on TV that made me feel this indignant was Chitthiiiiiiii (God, I used to hate that show!). It felt so easy to rant against media empires that gave away prime time slots to shows where wives were beaten up (remember Deepa Venkat!), ambitious women were portrayed as evil, to rave against women content creators who were so lost to greed that they only cared about making money (did I find male content creators who were as greedy to be equally offensive? No – But I was more sexist then.)…

I digress. To return to polygamy. Would I like it any better if the question were about polyandry, as opposed to polygamy? I doubt it. Because in both cases, the victims continue to be women[1]. And that’s the crux, really – my apparently unshakable conviction that in polygamy/andry, there are victims. Whereas that’s not how I feel about same-sex marriages. Big Love doesn’t make it easy for me to revise my opinions. Can’t help feeling that the men are smug. The women come across as needy (wife # 3), don’t-know-any-better (wife #2), or inscrutable (wife #1). It’s impossible for me to feel sorry for the husbands who’re under tremendous financial pressure to support multiple families, and get more than their fair share of wifely nagging. The minute I feel they must be regretting their lifestyle, along comes a bout of love-making that seems to make these men feel that the financial hassle’s worth the trouble. One fatso character actually believes that taking on wife #4 is his way of answering God’s calling. [2] Clearly, I have issues with the show.

Morality is a way to speed up decision-making. You don’t have to agonize over the pros and cons of a situation. You agree with some side because it is the “right” thing to do. It’s more efficient. In situations where morals fail or don’t apply, one can at least fall back on personal preferences:
– stealing: bad (moral reasons),
– killing: bad (ditto),
– cosmetic surgery (to get sexier looking lips / boobs / whatever): bad (surprisingly enough, moral reasons – I feel that you’re not dealing with the hand nature gave you – corrective surgery, OK – elective surgery NOT OK),
– smoking – bad (Here I leave morality and move into the realm of personal taste. I don’t like it myself, so I won’t do it. I vaguely think you’re foolish to do it, but I won’t hate you for it, or stop you from doing it, so long as you don’t blow smoke in my face),
– eating meat – distasteful (to me. You can eat whatever pleases you, so long as you don’t mess about with dead flesh in my kitchen), and so on and so forth.

I suspect I have strong “moral” beliefs about questions like stealing, killing etc. because these were instilled into me as a child (growing up with desi movies, for the longest time, I actually used to believe that the minute you commit a crime, you’d hear sirens blowing as the cops would be on their way. I must have been 12 or older before I figured out that in most cases the police really have no way of knowing the instant a crime is committed).

I’m sure my parents must have emanated a sense of “polygamy: not good” because I feel so very comfortable making that call. On the other hand, I am 100% certain there was no talk what so ever about same-sex marriages. (In all fairness we never even had the birds & the bees talk, so this topic had no chance at all. I was quite into science in those days, and they must’ve figured I’d get around to it sooner or later). And yet, I appear to have acquired strong “moral” beliefs, and unfortunately conflicting beliefs about both.

Here’s the thing about morals … They have this nasty habit of turning into umbrellas. Over-arching principles, which if they apply to situation A1 demand they be applied to situation A2 as well. With polygamy, I’m not sure what I’ll decide. I see three options before me:
– go down fighting,
– after a while bump the question from an ethical one to one of personal taste.
– stop taking stuff on TV personally. HBO wants to make money. I want to spend money. We’ve already struck a deal. Why sour the relationship with silly questions?

In the meanwhile, I’ll day-dream of situation A3 – nogamy – where people who wish to be left alone are left alone – by people of all sexes.

[1] I’m afraid I don’t recall specific evidence that I can use to back my claim. Regular readers of Kalpana Sharma will know what I mean. Or you could try watching Matrubhoomi. Yes, the latter’s fiction, but so is Big Love. All very apples to apples.
[2] My cattiness apart, the acting is really good. So far the show’s been interesting, and one hopes it will not soon run out of steam, even if carton-loads of Viagra continue to keep it steamy.

Update: Update: When I say “polyandry as opposed to polygamy”, I mean “polyandry as opposed to polygyny”. Thanks to Sudha & Pete for catching that oversight.

Age-old crime

I am an un-married, un-pregnant, not-in-love-and-not-confused-or-sad-about-that, and getting-long-in-the-teeth person. Why has that become such a crime of late? With each passing day, the egregiousness of the crime only seems to increase. I’m not sure what irritates me more – being thought of as a hedonist, an “abnormal” person, or being treated with hope and sympathy – “you’ll change soon”, “everything’ll be alright”, “just wait till May”… People fail to see that I am just as miserable as married people, pregnant people, people in love, and people who’re just confused. Why this marked preference for one form of misery over another?

So, here are the top 10 ways to respond the next time someone tries to give you the “talk”:

– I actually want to be in a relationship, but since I’m fat, ugly and stuck in a dead-end job no one will have me. Can you set me up with your best friend / close relative?

– If the goal is to not fit into that pair of skinny jeans, which method would you say is more efficient? 1 1/2 hours at Olive Garden or 1 1/2 weeks at Presbyterian Maternity?

– And how are you enjoying Nickelodeon?

– Thank you for asking. My relationship with Netflix is everything I ever dreamed of.

– Last Tuesday, I finally did it. Fell madly in love – with myself. I give it two months.

– Children? I’m waiting till more book-friendly models become available.

– Ah yes – the pitter-patter of little feet. I convinced my parents to adopt. It’s been wonderful for them, really.

– Since you asked, research shows that single life after 35 is completely cancer-free. We singles don’t like to let that out.

– (This one’s for enquiries from anyone who’s 10 or more years elder to you) So, what you’re saying is, “If your best friend jumps into a well, so should you?” Oh well, I only wish you’d taken the trouble to tell me that when I wanted to (a) get my tongue pierced (b) drop out of school to get a head start in the pizza delivery business (c) save that money to move to a commune

– You’re just jealous that I might pull a Demi over y’all.

PS: In the last month, I’ve outed myself to some of my friends, and I expect threats, tears et al. from a number of you for this post. Remember your own advice – let’s wait till the end of the year, I’m bound to change sooner than later.

The agony and the agony

How do the sports fans do it? Year after year, championship after championship? How do they keep coming back for more? Every year, I promise myself I shan’t do this again. But come Oscar time, there I am, a simpleton, hoping against hope that this year it won’t be about past debts, about which movie is morally right, which movie evokes the right baby boomer memories or whatever crazy excuse they come up with each year in deciding the winners. In true Hollywood style, I’ll try to be positive, and count my blessings. So here are some of the things I am grateful for:

– Joaquin Phoenix not winning for the Johnny Cash movie.
– Munich not winning for best adapted screenplay
– Wallace & Gromit’s winning
– That the surprise winner was Crash, and not some song & dance movie

Karl Marx would’ve had tears in his eyes. Equitable distribution of wealth is possible. He might not have seen Hollywood in the role of the just distributor, but it does go to show that miracles do happen, just like Ron Howard says they do.

I don’t have the energy to sit through 3 more hours next year, to watch Paul Giammati win for a 2 minute appearance in some movie or wait for 30 more years to watch the Academy finally give Ralph Fiennes an Honorary Oscar. But this is the post-Oscar battered-me talking. For once I hope I will continue to feel this bad, so I’m not here same time next year, ranting about one more miserable ceremony.

From Denmark to Kolkata? Or Affair of the Danish Cartoons: Part Deux

A friend sent this link today. Possibly realizing that I might object to the source, he backed it up with another source. Yes, I realize that the information is still open to question, but still.

Initially, I was too disgusted to react. For, even if one ignores her, er, peccadilloes (takes Herculean effort, but it is possible), let us remember that this is the person Robert Redford doesn’t even want around a film festival. A few hours later, I am more tired than disgusted. I do not look forward to the reams of newsprint we will use up writing about this new controversy, if it does indeed turn out to be a controversy. Will there be protests? Will the same director offer to cast, oh I don’t know, Snoop Dogg as Vivekananda to prove the point that he isn’t out to target a specific religion, but that his craving for attention is secular?

This could start a whole trend, and given the number of religions, we could spend the better part of this century insulting them one at a time. By the time we’re done with all of them, it’ll be time to start again. Anything to keep us from thinking about real problems. Sounds like a plan.