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Live it up, girls!

Last Saturday, when I was well into my weekly marathon yakking sessions with my mum back in Chennai, she gave me a piece of news that jolted me. One of the girls from my old school, a girl 7 years younger than myself, had just committed suicide.

I was like 'WHAT?' She also said a friend of hers killed herself the month before. What is happening to our youngsters? What prompts a 21-year-old, one who's on the threshold of her life, to just end it, when the whole life is out there, just waiting to be lived?

The girls in question were just making their mark as playback singers in the Tamil movie industry and I am sure, had their lives not been so rudely cut off, gone on to make it big. So what would prompt them to just give up on everything and take their own lives?

Is it a rash action of a moment? Is it a pre-meditated act? Or is it just a cry for help?

A few years back, I remember reading about the death of former beauty queen, model and VJ, Nafisa Joseph. I think her fiance jilted her and she killed herself or something. I remember thinking, if a worldly-wise woman, who must have seen a few things in her modelling career cannot hack it, what sort of message does that send to the younger ones. Now it is 20 and 21-year olds that are going down that route.

I hear words like 'love failure' too often these days. Maybe it is cynical of me, but I cannot help thinking 'so what?' Your own life should be worth more than the so-called love of the person who jilts you, shouldn't it? Who knows, one might be well off not being with such a person - a few tears now is better than a life sentence, surely.

At times like this, I think the Western concept of casual dating is a good one. You date a couple of guys (or girls) - hang out, go out to dinner, disco and if you aren't compatible, then break it off and get on with your lives. The desi concept of dating, wherein if you go out with a person, then they are 'it' might not be such a great thing, especially if the bloke turns out to be a cad.

The problem with this idea though, is the mentality of certain young men out there. If a girl has a couple of boyfriends, then she is considered 'loose', as in, morally (not mental!). I have seen loads of guys who 'road-test' by dating a few girls before settling down with a proper girl as chosen by their mums. Aren't they loose as well? But we all know it is predominantly a man's world out there, don't we? So what is the solution then?

I feel that dating shouldn't be a taboo concept any longer. I know times are a'changing and we see loads of couples hanging out in the metros these days but in Chennai, it isn't as prevalent as it maybe in other places. No more 'chup chup ke' stuff please. Going out with a girl / guy isn't exactly something to be ashamed of, is it?

More importantly, it isn't like the end of the world if you are jilted, thought it might feel so at that moment. Finally, here is my plea to the young 'uns out there - please love yourself a bit more than you love your 'beloved'. It just might save your life!

Can also be found at Desicritics

Posted by DesiGirl 9:00 am 6 comments Links to this post  

K(T)ollywood gripe

I have got a number of gripes regarding the Indian music industry and I am going to list them here, so I may try to get some answers for them.

Gripe I

Has anyone noticed the increasing number of Hindi singers belting out songs in Tamizh and Telugu movies these days? Even as I type this statement, Adnan Sami and Sadhana Sargam are belting out 'Boom Boom' in my ears, so that sort of segues well into the point I am trying to make here. Though I love the song and it always makes me do a (mental!) jive, I still cannot understand the reasoning behind it.

What reason, you ask. Let me elaborate. I am all for the North-South unity, mera bharat mahan and all that, make no mistake. I really love our desi filmi music and fully support A R Rahman's aim to bring the country together through music. But when I hear Udit Narayan trying to wrap his tongue around the difficult Tamizh sounds, I cannot help wondering why the music director couldn't a Tamizh speaker to sing the song. I don't think there are many people around the country who can speak Tamizh or Telugu, unless it is their mother tongue. These languages aren't like Hindi, which being the national language and all, is fed to one and all across the length and breadth of our nation.

Time was, when it was considered quite hip to speak the language if it was an alien tongue and the mauling it received at the hands (tongues?!) of the perky teen VJs of the various music channels was absolutely horrible. But of late, thanks to the new breed of singers like Karthik, Harini, Tippu etc, whose pronounciation is excellent, it is slowly becoming safer and cool to admit that you can speak the language after all.

So why do we still get people who 1. do not understand what they are singing about 2. cannot pronounce the words properly?

Gripe II

English words in songs - sometimes, whole sentences - why? Take the song Dating from Boys. If you listen to it on its own, you might have a tough time believing it to be a song from a Tamizh movie. Tamizh words in the song are few and far between. How can it be labelled a Tamizh song then?

In this aspect, I like the way Bollywood music directors think - if you cannot speak Hindi, you cannot sing. Maybe I have lived a sheltered life, but I haven't heard a singer muddle through a song and come back to sing another song the next day. Listen to Shaan singing Chand Sifarish - the beauty of the song is heightened by the way in which the singer sings it. If, on the other hand, he had bit his tongue trying to pronounce the words, the song wouldn't have been half the hit it is.

So, Tollywood and Kollywood music directors - from now on, can we have singers who can actually speak the language sing us songs please? It is not only cool, it actually is quite melodious.

It also has the added advantage of making it easy for us to teach our young ones our languages as well!

Also appears at Desicritics

Posted by DesiGirl 3:52 pm 3 comments Links to this post  

That unique hybrid called a NRI

I have been living outside India for five years now and I haven’t forgotten the advice one of my close friends, who was living in America, gave me. She said ‘the NRIs are the worst kind of hybrid people you can bump into – and bump into them, you will. They have shed all the good qualities of our culture and have grabbed hold of the not so nice ones of the Western culture. The resultant mix isn’t a pretty sight.’

I thought this was just my ole cynical mate being her usual, you know, cynical self. But in these five years, I have come across some people who have really made me think about those comments made by my friend. From what I have seen, these beauties can be slotted into the following categories:

The Queen Bees: these are the women (ladies?) that have been settled in the foreign country for at least a year more than the earliest emigrant. They tend to act quite hoity-toity to the newcomers and have an affected accent. Getting invitations to their parties would be quite hard.

The Gatherers: These are the women who make it a point to make new friends. It is almost like a mission – they’d rather have 1000 entries in their address book under ‘Acquaintance’ than one under ‘Friend’. What’s more, they shed old friends like old clothes – once a new face comes in, old ‘friends’ usually become stale to them.

The Uppity ones: These are the grand-dames. They will never talk to anyone unless they are addressed to first. Even if you literally walk into them on the streets, they will pretend not to have noticed you till the minute you say 'hello’. Their offspring are usually reputed to emulate Abhimanyu – whatever the apple of your eye has done, theirs has done at least a year before.

The ulta-desis: These are the ekdum desi women. When they go home for the holidays, they preen about in jeans and talk with a false accent about Tesco and Sainsbury’s to the complete awe of the village. But when they land at Heathrow, out come the salwar kameezes and the tika bindis.

Apart from these, there are also the normal, seedha-saadha ones like Yours Truly, who doesn’t fit into any of these and has a grand time observing the antics of the various members of the above mentioned groups. 

[This is not an attack on anyone out there – just a satirical look at some of the unfortunate beauties I have met so far in my life! Get out your bottle of Humour potion and take a hefty dose of it before you delve into the blog. ]

Posted by DesiGirl 12:28 pm 3 comments Links to this post  

Tom Riddle and Anakin Skywalker: a parallel

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
I started re-reading my battered copy of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince for the nth time yesterday. Yes, I am one of those sad 'adults' who reads Harry Potter for pleasure. But I feel that the magic of J K Rowling (pardon the pun!) has been slipping for a while now. She hit top form with Goblet of Fire. With Order of Phoenix she seemed to have fine-tuned the art of waffling. HBP - well, I have to say, was a huge disappointment of mammoth proportions. Agreeably, the subtle nuances of the story hasn't penetrated my think skull yet but I am yet to see the sanity in killing Dumbledore off.

But as I delved deeper and deeper into Pensieve and saw Tom Riddle as he slowly metamorphosed into Lord Voldemort, I couldn't help thinking how similar this was to Anakin Skywalker as he slowly walked down the Sith way of life. They were both young enough when they changed from what they were into the extremely powerful beings they end up being.

Anakin Skywalker
But therein ends the similarity. While Tom Riddle seems to have been bent on turning Dark (was he ever a good wizard?), Anakin didn't start out liking the Dark side. Tom didn't believe in what Dumbledore calls 'the oldest kind of magic' - in fact, he scoffs at it. On the other hand, it is love that makes Anakin Skywalker let in fear and fear is the first step towards the Dark side.

Tom Riddle is the quintessential leader; he doesn't let anyone tell him what to do nor does he let anyone in too close to him. Anakin Skywalker, on the other hand, is easily influenced - first by his master, Obi-wan Kenobi and later by Senator Palpatine. This continues to the very end, until young Luke Skywalker comes in and breaks the link.

So, is Anakin weaker because he let in love, therein fear, which ultimately caused his downfall? Is this not against Dumbledore's tenet that love is the greatest magic of all? When you look at it, Lord Voldemort seems lot more competant and together than Anakin Skywalker, who seems more a mass of confusions, fear and hate.

But who really is the stronger, meaner and ultimately powerful of the two - Lord Voldemort or Darth Vader? You decide!

Can also be found at Desicritics

Posted by DesiGirl 8:56 pm 8 comments Links to this post  

Of rose-tinted views and evergreen loves

Some of my most favourite songs in Indian movies are those from the Tamil movie 'Alaipayuthey' (Saathiya was a very diluted effort in Hindi, IMHO). A R Rahman's music was fabulous, as always, as he elevated even the wedding mantras that are oft repeated by the purohits in a bored monotone, to the heights of cooldom, with his 'Mangalyam' number.

But today, as I was listening to it while washing the dishes, I couldn't help but wonder about the whys and wherefores of the lyrics. The 'hero' character sings about his beloved in such poetical and glowing terms that it is guaranteed to make the knees of any desi girl go weak. It is either 'endless smiles forever, I was born a hundred times just for this day' or the 'love kabaddi' (a la 'Shikdum'!) where the girl is to taunt and tease him with her various antics. There is also this evergreen song where he compares every single colour in the spectrum to his lady love.

All this is great, just dandy. What I do not understand is, what is the inspiration for all this? These big-time declarations of 'luurve' that are nowhere to be found in our society. All these men who woo their dilbaras, whatever happens to them once the objective has been reached? Boys who supposedly chased the girls till she gave in seem to give up on them once the mangalsutra is on her neck. I have never seen a husband voluntarily hold his wife's hands, especially in front of family. In fact, the norm is pretty much to pretend that you don't really know each other all that well. Why? Ma won't be happy, will she?

My friend recently forwarded a 'joke' to me about the difference in a romance at various points in life - 6 weeks, 6 months, 6 years. The change, of course, is quite dramatic, from 'Hi honey' of 6 weeks to 'hey you!' of 6 years!! What a shame!

Last night, I watched this Telugu blockbuster 'Nuvvostanante Nennodantana', starring RDB's Karan Singhania, Siddharth, in the main role. The things he does to win the girl's hand is unbelievable. This boy, a rich NRI kid from London, chucks everything away and settles down in his sweetheart's village, where he suffers untold agonies in the form of eating really, horribly spicy food (he is afterall, an NRI yaar, go easy on him!), cleans the cow sheds, milks the cow and gets doused with its wee while he's at it - and the list continues. As I saw himtry to catch a good night's sleep on the hard ground, my heart bled for this young man who so carelessly gave up his Down-stuffed Silent Night mattress.

Okay, okay I know movies and reality can and should never be clubbed together even in the same sentence. But the moviemakers cannot be extrapolating things to such a degree that the result is a 180 degree ulta of real life, can they? Not to a nation where the menfolk aren't exactly pampering their wives silly by getting them flowers everyday and romancing the be-jesus out of them?

So why are our lyricists and movie makers still feeding the poor girls of today such overwhelmingly beautiful scenarios wherein the man of their dreams will woo them to the ends of the world? Aren't they setting everyone up for a rather steep fall?

Or is it just my cynical self coming to the fore?

PS: Can I just say this isn't an attack on the desi men around the world so please do not slag me off too much. I just would like to understand the fundas of the masala we are fed on a daily basis, that's all!

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Posted by DesiGirl 8:02 am 0 comments Links to this post  

My Pet Peeve #1

On Jungfrau Last Spring, I happened to spend about 8 days in Switzerland with my family. As we went on our own, we did pretty much our own thing. This meant that we managed to see most of the things in Switzerland the way we wanted to – plus we also had a glimpse of the Swiss way of life. Marvellous experience, though it almost blew the bank away!

As we traipsed up and down the snowy mountains, drove by lakes, gawked at rusty armours in archaic castles, all I could feel was anger – and a little bit of despair. And those feelings were directed at the state of tourism in my own country.

India has a phenomenal number of national monuments, castles, lakes, caves, beaches – you name it, we have it. The Himalayas are some of the most beautiful and the tallest mountain ranges in the world. As I stood on ‘Top of Europe’, I couldn’t help thinking ‘this mountain is like a third of Mt Everest!’ The land is littered with castles and forts left over from the days when kings and queens ruled us. They have also left behind some fantastically carved rocks and caves in Mamallapuram (or Mahabalipuram), Elephanta, Konark, Ajanta and Ellora.
Mamallapuram's Shore Temple forms an impressive background
We can boast of the world’s second largest coastline –but filthy and unkempt isn’t the look to aim for if we want to attract travellers from all over the world. From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, we have an abundance of beautiful spots, to attract every single type of holidaymaker. But does anyone know of them? No. Do we market any of these fantastic spots? Not really. Is any of it maintained attractively enough for people to say ‘You know, I would like to go to that place again’? No way!

Why? What is our Ministry of Tourism do anyway? What are they promoting? How are they selling the beautiful gems of our country to the world?

Marketing and merchandising are two words that don’t necessarily exist in our dictionaries. Well, merchandising certainly doesn’t. You go to any place in the world, you will find shops selling stuff from fridge magnets, key rings, scarves, carvings, stuffed toys, masks – you get the picture. What sort of tourist merchandise have we got?

Last month, when I went home for my holidays, folks at work wanted me to get them some fridge magnets that depict India. Try as I might, I couldn’t locate a single one. I finally settled for a small carving of Lord Ganesha’s face, which had a piece of sticky tape on its back!

When is our Tourist industry going to wake up?

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Posted by DesiGirl 12:44 pm 1 comments Links to this post  

What am I doing?

I am seriously wondering where I am going, what I am doing.... I mean, does anyone really know or do they just pretend to? I was reading something in the papers the other day about this 25-year old bloke who chucked about 14 lucrative jobs to follow his dream in an entirely unrelated field. That takes guts, I think - or sheer bullheadedness, take your pick.
I wish I knew exactly where I want to go. Time was when I thought I did - those days are long gone. Now it is just a daily muddle from one day to another, which is pretty much the same. If you ask me what I did about 215 days back, it must have been quite similar to today. That's depressing, eh?

Posted by DesiGirl 3:27 pm 1 comments Links to this post  

Music, my life, my passion

Music has the power to transcend all manmade boundaries - language, caste, race - everything! I find myself become a completely different person when I have my favourite music at hand. As such, my iPod has become my most favoured possession on earth. So much so, it is my constant companion - I take it with my for my morning walks, it keeps me company when I am doing the dishes, even sometimes when I am at work!
A R Rahman, Harris Jayaraj, Shankar Mahadevan - I listen to them all. Of late, 'Paathshaala - Be A Rebel' is the number that is rocking me.
Say hoi oh hoi!

Posted by DesiGirl 12:23 pm 0 comments Links to this post