Thursday, 17 October 2013

Curious case of Indian relatives

Indian relatives are terrifying and their weapons of mass destruction are their questions. 
This issue needs to be addressed. We cannot progress as a nation if we constantly have our relatives pulling us back by asking those inane questions. No I don’t mean Pakistan and Bangladesh when I say relatives. I mean our individual relatives. It starts off very mildly when we are children with what seems like an acceptable small talk, 'what class are you in beta?’ If they are sadists, they will go ahead and ask you the name of the school and probably a poem too. We are only mildly irritated at best. It gets dangerous as we step into our teens when questions go into 'Beta maths loge bio ya fir commerce?' which roughly translates into 'Will you be an engineer, doctor or do you not get enough marks in school?' Horror grows with time and questions take the form of 'Aur kya karne ki sochi hai?', when you are in college. It's a dangerous question because you don’t really want to know about the person’s sexual fantasy and that is the only thing he has thought of during his college days. After college the questions become ‘Aaj kal kya kar rahe ho?’ You want to tell them ‘Isi bakwas question ko answer kar raha hun’ but you can’t. All this might seem like a torture but you haven’t seen anything yet. If by mistake you get a job, you will be asked ‘Shadi kab kar rahe?’ You can answer this with options like ‘Abhi toh time hai’ or ‘Masters karna hai mujhe abhi’ which only means ‘abhi thoda aur time’. This cruelty doesn’t end with marriage either. After marriage, you are grilled with your family planning initiatives by asking ‘Baccha kab kar rahe ho’ and then its super hit sequel ‘Ab dusra kab kar rahe ho?’ How are we supposed to live our lives and contribute to this nation’s success if these auditors keep disturbing us? Oh wait I just got a new life in Candy Crush.

Easy guide to be an Indian relative is given below

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Happy birthday

Idea of fun is strange. It can mean very different things to two different people. Though it is often generalized and stereotyped into a popular activity which is considered cool thing to do in the present culture. This popular culture dictates you how you are supposed to live your life. One of the examples of it is our birthdays. If you look closely, birthday celebrations are nothing but a celebration of the fact that you didn't die in the last year since you last celebrated it. It is the only feat that you have achieved that people are congratulating you for on that day. The feat of being alive. But in the kind of world we live in, it is not completely ridiculous. Apparently, the danger of dying too soon is pretty real. Especially with the kind of lifestyles we have. We have been collecting too much tar in our lungs and toilet cleaners in our livers. But not to digress, birthdays are supposed to be a celebration and it is way beyond debate at this point of time. But the idea of that celebration is also pre-defined. People will see your birthday notification on Facebook, call you up at 12 midnight (because apparently everyone was born at exactly start of the day) and wish you a happy birthday followed by instructions of partying hard that day.

One of my college friends celebrated his birthday a few days back. 4 people out of our group have ended up in Mumbai so we were discussing how to celebrate the birthday. One friend suggested that only option in front of us is to party hard in one of the pubs. A good traditional option I would say. Considering that we were in Mumbai, a city immensely popular for its night life. That too after 2 years in Calcutta where night life mostly meant arguing with the taxi guy to not overcharge you when plying you back to campus after a late night movie. So he suggested Blue Frog. The birthday guy was not too thrilled about it because neither is he a fan of drinking nor of the digits featuring on the right hand side of the Blue Frog’s menu. Sensing his apprehensions and knowing his love for hogging on good food, I suggested the good old Barbeque Nation. He was pretty thrilled about it which is actually the idea of having a good birthday. But my other friend was not going to give up so easily. He tried to convince us that since it was his 25th birthday, there is no way we could be thinking of anything less than a posh club. Suggestions of us having turned too old were made which we graciously accepted. Thankfully the birthday guy got to spend it the way he wanted.

So obviously there is a fixed notion of how the birthdays have to be celebrated and that involves partying hard. But what if I don’t want to party hard on my birthday? What if I party hard every other day and I just want to sit back at home and reflect upon the year that went by. Make it as a personal year-end review of myself. What if I don’t want to go out? What if I don’t want to pay exorbitant prices for my drinks in poorly lighted ad crowded place that day? What if I don’t want to yell in order to talk to my friends sitting right across the table because the music is so obnoxiously loud? So next time when you wish someone a Happy Birthday, don’t plan their itinerary of the day by asking to party hard. Just let them do what they want.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Nothing was ruined

Read someone on my Twitter TL asking why guys who are good friends have to go on and ruin friendships by asking the girl out or as we more popularly refer in India as ‘Proposing’. Now, I have two theories on this which I thought I will write a short note about.

First theory is that most guys, who become your friends, are never really looking for just friendship. From the very beginning they want it to be a romantic relationship. For a generation that not only tolerated Kuch Kuch Hota Hai but also took several life lessons from it, friendship to love seems to be the best route for them. Obviously they have never read our friendzone jokes. Or maybe they think they are too charming to be caught in it. But my point is that girls tend to either intentionally or unintentionally ignore the reason why a guy is friends with them in the first place. I think it is way too obvious and I, with a high level of success rate, have always been able to predict why a guy is friends with a girl in the first place. But maybe girls have a blind spot there. Similarly girls claim to have similar knowledge about other girls and their intentions. Maybe it is just easier to predict behaviour of your own gender more accurately. But you know what would be helpful? Be aware about it a little. People give away enough hints unintentionally. You don’t have to be Sherlock to know what's on their mind when they act all cheesy and ping you 24*7. So if you don’t want to act all surprised when they suddenly become weird, pre-empt it. Also, remember they were never really your friend and there was never really a friendship. There was only an attempt to be something more. So effectively, nothing was ruined.

Second theory is completely different. I think a relationship is much more likely to work if it started after both individuals know about each other well.  Isn't it better than asking a relatively stranger person out having been infatuated just by their looks or some other single attribute? Only to be disappointed later by finding out other despicable things about them. If a person has been your friend, he probably knows a lot about you, and the fact that he developed feelings for you for qualities other than just physical attributes is pretty much what I hear girls wishing for all the time. And even if the other person doesn't reciprocate, I think it is a risk worth taking. And remember since one person is already thinking in terms of more than just friendship, only the illusion of a good friendship was ruined. Cause it stopped being one. So effectively, nothing was ruined. 

Sunday, 15 September 2013

What's a foodie?

A lot of one word descriptors make way into our bios on twitter to give it a crisp and interesting look. A lot of times these words are generally copy pasted without any second thoughts given to them. They get popular and then as happens with any popular thing, get scrutinized and then mocked. Similar thing happened with the word foodie(Which should never be used to describe oneself in front of a Punjabi). Since I also wrote it in my twitter bio, I thought I’ll give my understanding of the word foodie. I don’t know how it is defined in the dictionary or what the more popular understanding of it is. The following is just what I think it means.

Let me first clear out what the term foodie definitely doesn't mean
1.       Foodie doesn't mean people who eat because everyone does.
2.       Foodie doesn't mean people who like eating because again everyone does.
3.       Foodie doesn't mean people who like eating a lot. They can be mostly called fat (Except the ones with extraordinary metabolism).
4.       Foodie doesn't mean people who blog, review or post articles about restaurants and food items. They would be called food bloggers, reviewers or journalists.

Obviously a lot of people who fall into above groups could also be foodies but none of the above points would be the reason for it. Foodie for me simply is a person who is excited at the prospect of having different kinds of food. Who goes out of his way to experience the variety in food and enjoys it too. A foodie is someone who doesn't go on holidays to crib about how he is not getting his regular dose of food. He is a person who doesn't go to Chennai to look for makhan wale aloo paranthes for breakfast cause that's what he always eats. He is a person who doesn't go to Kolkata and looks for vada pao because that is his comfort food. There is no comfort food for a foodie. Experimenting with his meals is what he loves. You’ll often hear him asking ‘What is the famous food here?’ or ‘What is the indigenous/local food here?’ And he will savour that taste because it will be different than what he has had at other places. Travelling is such an important part of being a foodie. And the food is as important part of travelling than anything else. If you go to a place and do not experience the local food and culture, did you really go to that place? You should be bringing back some of the memories and not just pictures for Facebook from a trip. And often it is not just about enjoying the new food but also being curious about them. It is about the origin and history of each dish. It is about the subtle varieties of those dishes. Why the sambhar of Bengaluru would be different from Chennai? Why the galouti kebabs in Lucknow are called Tundey Kebabs? Why Bengali people are crazy about their fish? Obviously there are a lot of posers who join a certain activity bandwagon cause it is hipster initially and then ironically contribute towards making it mainstream and thus ridiculed in the end. Foodie, in my opinion, is not a hobby or an activity that can be taken up. It is pretty much in nature of the person. Either he's like that or not. 

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Why are friends special?

Shahrukh Khan has given India a lot of regrettable things that you can waste your money on, like Ra.One and KKR. But one of his contributions to Indian Culture that he doesn't take credit or financial benefit out of is Friendship Day. *KKHH Theme plays in background* Last week we celebrated friendship day with much enthusiasm, zeal and tagged pictures on Facebook. It was obviously hated with the same zeal on Twitter because they can never agree with Facebook on any issue except for stupidity of Rahul Gandhi. But this is not about him. This is about friends.

Friends have often been termed as ‘Relatives that we choose’, which confuses me about their role in my life because I think we have already established the fact that relatives are meant to be hated. So is it the availability of choice that makes friends so much more special than relatives? But what choices do we really have when making friends? Most people end up being friends with their neighbours, next person on the school bench, wing mates in college hostel and fellow cubicle mates at office. At most, you will go around and explore your class or your office floor for friends. How large really is our world, where we select/settle for our friends. Are our friends a result of choice or just convenience? The choice pool is worse for love marriages/affairs where we hardly interact with eligible partners in our lives, settle for someone and convince ourselves that they are our soul mates. But let’s leave love for some other day. So having established that most of our friends are just matter of convenience, picked out of very limited choices, what makes them special? Is it the lack of guarantee that comes with them? With family and relatives, we know they’ll be there, always. And probably that makes them less desirable. That gives them a sense of an impending burden on us. On the other hand, it is much easier to drift away from your friends and an equal probable chance of them drifting away from us. Is it then a sense of achievement of having maintained a voluntary relationship for a long period of time?

Having been alive for a relatively longer period now, I have noticed that everyone is hate-able and enough interactions with them will give you logically strong reasons to loathe their company. Is it true for friends too? Yes, hell it is. Your friends are someone’s relatives too after all. Your ‘two peas in a pod’ is someone else’s ‘I can’t stand the fucking asshole’. The fact is that you’ll lose a lot of friends. Most will never bother to tell you the reason for drifting apart because friendship doesn't need a spelt out ‘break up’. You will just stop talking for months and the one who contacts first after that will gain the right to say ‘Bahut busy ho gaya tu. Dosto ke liye time hi nahi hai’. Usually such calls end with a ‘Yaar ek kaam tha..’ I think we romanticize friendship a bit too much. They are just people in your life you can safely make fun of without getting punched in the face. On other occasions they will serve as able company to reduce beer cost by ordering that tower instead of draught glasses. They will also tell you that it is pronounced draft and not draught but you can ignore. Then at times they’ll provide you with an alibi at home when you have to spend time with your boyfriend/girlfriend. They will hook you up with green stuff and recommend the must watch TV series. They will support you when you call them looking for advice when in fact you are only looking for someone’s backing for your already taken bad decision. They serve many purposes. Friendship is pretty much a very selfish relationship at a subconscious level. It starts with people having some common interest. It could be studying together, playing together, watching some sports or the more common 'bitching about others'. While we don't explicitly consider all these benefits, budding of friendship usually depends on such benefits that we derive from our friends. It is indeed a very beneficial relationship to engage in. It is this inherent selfish nature that, I believe, makes friends and friendship special.