Archive for February, 2009

Slumdog Millionare and the Oscars

For the past couple of days, I have been observingm with mild amusement, the various reactions of desis about the movie Slumdog Millionare. It has ranged from righteous indignation to apologetic explainations to uncomfortable silences. Movies about poverty in India have been made before, movies dealing with underworld, prostitution, exploitation – all have made their appearances on the Indian screen.And yet, this one movie has left many of us unsettled in so many ways.

Some of us think the movie is not Indian at all. And celebrating it’s success is like cheering for the opposition. I am on the fence on this one really. I mean, the director is British, but the actors are Indian, location is Indian, music is Indian, technicians, assistant directors and half the crew is Indian. The story is written by an Indian. That makes the movie pretty Indian to me. If we were to solely go by who is directing the movie, then “Sixth Sense” would be a Tamil film. Even if you are a purist, then we can at best call this an Indian-English movie. And really, why should anyone be upset because we are cheering any movie for that matter? It all boils down to personal taste right?

Then, there is the issue of why we are cheering for Oscars so much? Agreed, The Oscars is not truly an international movie award. It caters to Hollywood and has just one measly category for foreign films. But undoubtedly, it is a fact that it is one of the most glamorous and publicized movie awards in the world. Anyone winning the Oscars gets a lot of attention, and that brings subsequent plump assignments from international film makers with it. Now, this does not mean desi cinema is not good, but it would take an idiot to refuse good work for a hefty sum of money and some international acclaim. No wonder Anil Kapoor was milking every minute of it. We need to suck it up and realize that Filmfare awards are simply NOT as famous as the Oscars and stop giving our fellow countrymen dirty looks when they are gushing about how happy they are that A R Rahman won.

And finally, the movie itself. Yes, it shows the slums of India. It shows corruption, underworld and prostitution. Infact, so many movies about the underworld by our very own Ram Gopal Verma and they were all very well appreciated by our public. No one thought India was being depicted in a bad light then. Is it the fact that the movie was made by a British guy and the whole world gets to watch it that gets our goat? Or is it the uncomfortable feeling that we cannot really deny many of the things that are shown in the movie jabbing at us? Many of my fellow desis start making excuses about India whenever a non-Indian mentions that they watched the movie. And the most common grouse is – “Why show only the slums? India has so much else going on”. Well, this was a movie based on a story, not a documentary about India. If Danny Boyle told he had made a documentary about Mumbai, maybe there could be some justification for the indignation, but this is a story – a fairytale. And seriously, if we feel so much for our country, maybe we should dig our heads out of the sands and look around. And do something. Instead we are sitting in a country far far away and acting like we are the governament appointed ambassadors whose sole responsibility to protect and maintain the image of India.

As for myself, I thought it was a very cleverly made movie, the story itself may not have been credible, but the cinematography was beautiful. And it was worth the one time watch. I am happy India won at the Oscars (yes India – A R Rahman and Resul Pookutty are Indians, remember?) because it gives the Americans a chance to know that there is a world out there outside of the USA. And why do I care so much about the Americans? Because I live among them.


February 27, 2009 at 5:27 am 8 comments

My Pink Chaddi

After lot of time consuming effort, my pink chaddi is finally ready. Please do notice all the bows and the polka dots.

The design of the chaddi has been inspired by the song “itsy bisty teeny weeny…yellow polka dot bikini”, ofcourse with the slight modification of yellow replaced with pink.


February 12, 2009 at 2:55 am 9 comments

A photo tag

I have been tagged by DewDropDream to do this tag. I must pick the 6th photo from the 6th folder in my pictures folder and explain the photo. Now I did come up with quite an interesting pic, just what is it you ask??

~~~~~~~ Drumrolls~~~~~~~


Now, now. This is NOT a picture of my kitchen, though I did wish that it looked like this. Instead, this is a picture of a cast concrete countertop. Why do I have this? Because, when we bought our home, the kitchen was really dated. Old appliances, a white tile countertop that was a magnet for all things turmeric, awful vinyl flooring straight out of  the Wonder Years era. It was like stepping back in time everytime I cooked. So, we dedided to update our kitchen. Cabinets were staying, they were solid wood and just needed a touch of paint. But the countertops – no way. So I started researching on the different types available, especially the eco friendly and recycled ones because I do gravitate towards wanting to use unsual and earth friendly materials. And thats how this picture came into my folder titled “countertops”.

Other materials that made it to the short list were – terrazo countertops made with recycled soda bottles, completely glass countertops, paper countertops – yes paper about 6 inches thick can be amazingly strong and when sealed and made waterproof can take anything thrown at it.

The the one that did finally land in my kitchen was good old granite.  No contractor even wanted to try and install the others, or wanted to charge us a huge sum for what was essentially the same procedure. And then, there is the thing of resale. Here in US, where you don’t really hold on to your first house forever, you always need to think about if your upgrades will be appreciated by the general buyers so that you can sell fast. I know, it sucks. So when I really have loads of money ( God, u listening?) I am going to build a home according to my specs, with all the spunky and eco friendly products I can find. And those who don’t like my place, well why would I even care??

I know DewDropDream was hoping for a picture of Rummy, so lets not disappoint her either! Here is Rummy snoozing in the kitchen while I cook. Please notice the cute light pink spot on the top of his nose.


February 9, 2009 at 6:31 am 7 comments

When educated Indians think like this….

We seriously have no hope.  I found this comment by “Smitha” on Great Bong’s post. While MM did not fall for her bait with , I did.  So here it  goes, with my replies in Bold

An interesting post. Some politically-incorrect observations from this twenty-something, employed, married woman from Karnataka shouldn’t be out of place then.
You forgot regressive and sexist

When it’s fashionable to publicly praise the emperor’s new clothes and promote women’s empowerment through drinking alcohol, I will refrain from doing so.

I have seen the videos on TV and read the news articles and will try to list my thoughts on this issue, as best as I can –

– I am glad that the Karnataka police swung into action and arrested the SRS members. They dared to break the law and will pay for it.

– Nobody should force anybody to leave pubs, if they are of the legal drinking age. If you SRS-wallahs want to oppose drinking, use Gandhi-giri or protest peacefully outside the pubs but don’t touch anyone. If these youngsters want to get drunk everyday, then so be it. After all, the right to drink is a fundamental right, right?

– Those who imbibe the spirits too liberally could end up having health issues, automobile accidents or just get pregnant. So what? It’s their problem, not yours.
Exactly – just like people who choose to carry cellphones in their pockets and get their nuts nuked. You don’t beat up people because they are risking getting sterile, do you?

– In the videos, I observed that the SRS members walked into the pub and asked everyone there to leave the pub. Though the audio is not clear, it appears that there is some heated arguments and then some pub-goers appear to shoot off their mouths and tell these SRS lads to mind their own business (in a not-so-polite words?). The melee begins.
The SRS members were ofcourse intellectually challeneged to
1. Go into a private property and ask everyone to get out
2. Reply back in kind (verbally) to the people who badmouthed them for no 1

So they did they only thing they knew – start beating people.

– I also observed that the pub-goers (who were chased out or slapped) included both men and women. While it is a case of assault (and should be prosecuted thus), I don’t understand why the media is trying portray this as a “guys slapped only girls” issue. Liars !
Because the main target WERE women. They did not mind guys going to pubs, just the girls. Because as you know, we Bharatiya naris are the protectors of Indian culture. Men can saunter off and do whatever they want

– The media kept trying to portray this as a sexual molestation/groping incident and kept harping that some girls were molested in front of the camera. But after the confrontation, the videos show the pub-goers sitting on the floor or show the running pub-goers getting taps/slaps on the back of their heads as they exit the pub. Is all this talk of sexual molestation/groping is the media’s attempt to add “spice” to the story?
Lady, please get your hair dragged by a stranger in a public place while he is uttering profanities at you and gropes at you because he can get away with it. Just because you were there. And then tell me you were not sexually harassed.

– In the videos, SRS members appear to be college-going students of modest, lower middle-class means. Some SRS members carried backpacks (used to carry books) which means that they were either going to or coming from a nearby college. Were they ticked off that while they were off to studiously attend college classes on Saturdays, some of their elitist, rich peers were out there drinking, dancing, having fun? Such kill-joys.
You know, I was a middle class student too. And I had a few rich classmates. I was taught better than to go pull the hair of girls wearing expensive clothes or boys riding expensive bikes. And since when has being rich and enjoying life become a crime. For all you know, they are rich because they had the brains and worked hard. And they were taking a well deserved break, not in the college campus, but at a pub. Did they disrupt any classes? No. Did they block traffic? No.

– Would the media have made a big hue and cry if some women activists had slapped the girls in the pub? In 1996, the media were hesitantly sympathetic when stick-wielding and broom-wielding, screaming women activists trashed Miss World billboards and tried to attack the Miss World contest venue in my home-state.
Would you let anyone slap you? Male or female? And the fact is, it was not woman activists who slapped people here. I believe they were off dealing with more serious issues like malnutrition, dowry, and equal rights. And the people protesting miss World DID NOT slap anyone. And I still disapprove of them too.

This is where the SRS members erred in their radical calculations – if they had brought along some of their sisters and mothers to slap the girls in the pub, then nobody would have believed this “men slap girls”/”gender-based assault” story.

– Those who use the word “Taliban” indiscriminately or given to hyperbole should know that if these Mangalore lads had been “Taliban”, then some heads would have rolled in that pub, all the pub-goers would have been beheaded and their heads put on a stake.

A slap is the same as a beheading? Then how many of us are guilty of beheading (oops ..I meant hitting or slapping), someone?

Some of us don’t have the guts to call the murderous Mumbai attackers with the same appellation. So, let’s just vent our frustration on the little guys that won’t come after you or slit our throats.

Calling these SRS gadflies as “Taliban” is the height of exaggeration.

No, calling them Taliban is not an exaggeration. Taliban’s hallmark is to go after people who disagree with them and their style of life. In civilized societies, and especially democracies, we resolve conflict through logical discussions and votes. And we uphold a person’s liberty and choice of life as long as it is in the legal boundaries established by the country for law and order. In a democracy, I may not agree with you, but I will uphold your right to keep your views. And I don’t know how many people you have slapped, but people like me usually keep it to a bare minimum. Slapper Smitha…now that is a cool title.

– “5th standard dropout”? The condescending, elitist tone adopted by the writer (Mr.Johnson T.A.) towards someone (who was not as privileged or educated as he is), is to be expected.
Yeah, calling out these road romeos who do not know how to use their time more constructively is elitist..heh.

– If the SRS wanted to get widespread publicity for their group through such gimmicks, then they have succeeded.
This is the only thing I will agree with you

– If the SRS wanted to make this drinking problem (amongst youngsters) the subject of discussion in everyone’s homes, offices and colleges, then they have succeeded.
People of legal drinkable age enjoying a drink with their peers is now suddenly a drinking problem?? Girl..looks like you are one of those people who gets talli on one glass of wine…

– Indian middle-class parents implicitly trust their children to not lie to them or sneak out to pubs. Because of this one incident, most middle-class parents have woken up to the possibility of their children frequenting pubs during the day or night, while giving alibis of going to college or working late in their IT/BPO jobs. These Nazi-like parents are now going to give deadlines and are going to keep a close eye on their truant children. Shame on these parents !
Seriously, if your kid is lying to you, you need to reanalyze the parent-child relationship you have. Not close down pubs. What will you do next? Close down schools because your kid lied to you about the report card? And if a parent needs a news channel to realize that their kid is not toeing the line, then I believe they are not doing a good job of parenting anyways. Parents who seriously belive that their 18-19 year olds don’t know anything about sex and will never every try alcohol live in a well or in Ramayana. Your pick.

– If drinking in pubs is the birthright of every Indian, then why do pub-goers hide this fact from their parents and families? Is it shameful to drink? Is it wrong to drink? Then why do pub-goers never tell their parents the truth – “I’m off to the pub to drink. See you after midnight”. Hypocrites !
Lying to your own parents is a personal issue, and depends on the relation you have with your parents. Why don’t you catch every other person who lies to someone, especially the politicians who lie to so many people and beat them up. Why only pub goers?

– How many of us hypocrites who would be proud of our mother, if our mother wore miniskirts/tight-jeans and went to pubs? Common, be honest – just visualize your mother wearing miniskirts and guzzling frothy mugs of beer. The reason why our generation turned out good was because our mothers (and fathers) were stellar role-models for us.
Ok, I may not like my mom in a mini-skirt because I believe her body type does not suit it. But she totally rocks the jeans-and-kurta look and I am proud of her. I am proud that I can introduce her to my friends without worrying that either party will get bored. I am proud that I can talk to her about current issues, not just how to make coconut chutney. And I am proud that she has such awesome taste in clothes that the sexy tops she picks for me are absolutely gorgeous. And I would be proud of her if she decided to wear unconventional clothes, because that does not change the fact that she is a great mom. I know moms who guzzle beer, and they are more fun to be with than the aunty kinds who keep asking me why I don’t wear my mangalsutra.

– As a parent I wonder, can pub-goers be good role-models for their children? In particular, would a pub-going girl be a good role-model for her unborn children? Yes, nobody likes to think of getting married or having kids, but just wait – “(Sh)it happens”.
I am a pub goer. So is my friend who is a new mom. And she is one amazing mother. And this is where your sexist outlook comes through. Ofcourse, pub going men can be just as good role models right??

– I am trying to imagine the future of pub-going youngsters – post marriage. I don’t think it’s easy for anyone to stop drinking – first socially, then habitually. A drinker as a father is bad enough for the family. But a drinking mom? Can you imagine what that would do to the Indian families?
I drink. I go to pubs. But you will rarely see me getting drunk and making a fool of myself. My dad drinks occasionally. I have never ever seen him make a fool of himself either. It is called self-control. Even if you eat too much brinjal, it is not good for your health–Just like alcohol. Oh..and here is the clincher for you – my husband does not drink, and he does not believe in restricting me. One truly democratic guy I have married!

– I am proud that the Indian family system is a success primarily because of Indian women and our sacrifices and the values we impart to our children.
So father is just sperm donor? I am proud of my family because BOTH my mother and father gave us their best values. I am proud of my husband because he does his share of domestic chores. So that we can have a well balenced family. Not one repressed woman who is put up on the Bharatiya nari pedestal to shut her up.

– I feel sorry for the increasing-decadent, broken social system in the West (that we are trying to copy mindlessly) with one-third of all pregnancies being of teenaged, unmarried girls – where the boys/men are highly irresponsible and like to sow their oats and impregnate women without taking any responsibility for raising the children born out-of-wedlock.
You know, India has the highest population growth. And it does not happen because all girls marry after the age of 18 and have babies legally. What is worse is such extra-marital relations are shunned in our country, so women resort to other means to terminate pregnancies and even die doing so while the men get away scot free without any sense of responsibility. A woman in the west can have a baby without getting married and hold her head high and raise a normal child. Our glorified Indian culture does not let even unborn female foetuses survive. I see a West where I can walk on the streets at any time of the day without being called names, without anyone questioning me on what I wear. I see a western culture where fathers also do diaper duties for the infants so that the new mom can catch some sleep. I see a Western culture were the “oat sowing” is mutually consentous and without regrets. I see….wait a minute, have you ever lived in the West? No? I thought so.

And thanks to such selfish/irresponsible men, many women in the west are just reduced to being “merchandise” who have to give out free “samples” to attract potential mates. Should our Indian society disintegrate in such a way?
Women in the west are the last people to be considered merchandise. Even the ones who work in obvious objectification industries like porn. They are still respected  people of the society and live on their own terms, as compared to India where daughters are sold with dowry to suitable men. I think you are getting the Indian and Western society confused.

– Going to Pubs lead to Women’s Empowerment ? Since when? I hope someone can enlighten me. Because I must have missed out on all those Women’s Empowerment seminars in my college.
I think that is primarily because you hung out with a bunch of boring auntijis at college. Seriously, a simple thing as going to pubs is empowerment for Indian women because
1. They are repeatedly prevented from going there because they are women
2. Pubs are considered hangouts for men only by neanderthals like SRS

– I can see why the media is ticked off. These shallow journalists often appear to be in the same demographic as these pub-goers in Mangalore. No wonder, the media has jumped with a vengeance and focused the spotlight on a trivial, yes trivial, incident like Mangalore.
You are right, the journalists are in the same demographics as the pub goers. Both believe in a democratic India that does not differentiate based on sex and one that upholds personal liberties. Only stupid people can call an incident like this trivial. Any violation of my personal space by uninvited intruders is a serious offence for me as an individual. Individualality – something that you have forgotten because your family has made you the sacrificial lamb to uphold “Indian” culture and teach it to your children

February 3, 2009 at 11:04 pm 24 comments

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