Friday, December 30, 2011

A Last Note… Prelude to Something New

It’s that time of the year. The tick tock on the clock is distinctly audible. The last few hours are here… to end 2011 with an optimistic high; or at least with a hope to begin 2012 on a jolly note.

I am not that much into New Year resolutions. If you really want to do something (or stop doing something in some cases), why do you need any special occasion for that? But just for the sake of a new ‘yearly’ tradition, I also try to list down a few resolutions and simultaneously, come up with counter-attacking points. So here it goes:
  1. No junk food.  But 31st December night always leads to binging on all the unhealthy yummy food. So 1st January usually begins with gluttony, heralded by scrumptious cake. Let’s see how much I can resist pani-puris from 2nd January!
  2. Find a decent house… ‘my space’… in crowded Mumbai. Very difficult task. Monetary limitation, attachment to the expensive locality Lokhandwala, tricky property rules and regulations and above all, my laziness to go for house-hunting, all make it difficult to stick to this vital resolve. Moreover, these days whenever my parents start talking marriage, well the laziness engulfs me more. I mean, if I get married, again the mammoth job of shifting will arise… won’t it? Who wants to repeat the bothersome hard work called ‘packing and unpacking’? Yawn!!!
  3. Get that tattoo. This tattoo design has been in my mind since four years now. Only my phobia of needles has been preventing me till date. The new year might see me overcome this phobia. I will give it my best shot (I hope so!).
  4. Read more and more books. This is one resolution which I will definitely keep. It’s true, “So many books, so little time!” I will have to reserve time.
  5. Find the guy who is loved by my folks and most importantly, loved by me. Hmmm… this appears to be the most difficult. The less said the better!
2011 has been one roller-coaster ride. A year that has been unlike any other years of my life. There have been good, bad and even worst experiences. But that’s life. So why not take it with a pinch of salt… along with lime and vodka shots! Love it!!! Ohkkk… looks like I still believe in ‘Love’. A good omen! Cheers to 2012!!!

Let’s not fret about all those Doomsday predictions. And if worried, then let’s plan our individual ‘Noah’s Ark’. My own 'Namrata's Ark' sounds good already with the best specimens on board... What an amazing fantasy it is (wink)! 

Happy 2012 people!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Mumbai Year… My Musings

No day copies yesterday,
no two nights will teach what bliss is
in precisely the same way,
with precisely the same kisses.

17 December is special for me. It’s daddy dearest’s birthday. Then in 2010, I shifted to Mumbai. A long cherished dream, thus, was fulfilled. No offence meant for Delhi or Kolkata (where I resided previously) and definitely not for my homeland, Assam, but I always wanted to come to Mumbai. I don’t know the reason… don’t ask me why, but I love this city.
So, it’s been a year. Wow! Well, people are right! “Time does own the fastest wings”! The 17 December morning of 2010 appears to be just yesterday. Even 2011 is nearing the edge of the end. How did this year end so fast?! And what lessons did I learn from the whirlwind of a year?!?

New place, new people, new experiences. Now I never imagined myself to be Tess McGill from Working Girl. I have stayed away from the safe cocoon created by my family long enough not to live as the wide-eyed sweet girl. I am not at all sugar or honey-coated sweetheart who will take bitter pills smiling. Despite all these ‘philosophy of my life’, Mumbai did teach me a few lessons within a year.

For me, Mumbai is like a woman who has regular mood-swings… just like me. One day the city exposes you to certain ruthlessness and the very next day, it embraces you with loving warmth. It lets you stumble and then it picks you up! I discovered many facets of human behavior as well as a few aspects of my own, both unknown to me before the Mumbai chapter began.

I won’t dissect someone else’s life or nature. Let’s talk about ME. I discovered that I can be really sarcastic if and when I need to be. And this can be either positive or very bad for my reputation. Some people become very wary of me being rude and muphat. Hey… it definitely keeps unwanted people at bay and brings genuine friends closer. On the other hand, I have also learnt not to react to things which I would like to ignore. I can behave like a real b#$*h if I wish to and I enjoy doing that. You see, Mumbai taught me that you got to be ‘the vamp with a good heart’ if I want to breathe in the sea air of the city. Just keep the shield on with no evil plan if you want to survive the potholes of life’s roads, ironically, imitating the city roads! One more thing… I also emerged really good at the art of lying. I will tell you from experience, sometimes one lie helps in evaluating another person and his worth in your life. His reaction to that lie can help you to take major decision. Try it!

So many things have been said, written and depicted on celluloid about Mumbai. I have stumbled on more than one occasion during this one year. Living here is insanely expensive. To top that, I am adamant enough to struggle and survive on my own. Some people are really good while a few are heartlessly mean. Many times I end up cursing so many things. But when someone asks me, “Do you still like it in Mumbai?!?”… well, my prompt answer is, “Hell yeah! I love Mumbai!!!”

Mumbai teaches you what LIFE is…It teaches you what I quoted in the beginning of this note. I guess it is true… Aye dil hai mushkil jeena yahan… Zara hat ke zara bach ke, yeh hai Bombay meri jaan”.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Party Abhi Baki Hai??!!

I think age is catching up with me or my thought-process at least. Since last few weekends, I am avoiding going out to night-spots. My preference these days usually is a good book with great music playing at a medium volume and a very strong cup of coffee! Might be sounding old and boring. But honestly, I am tired of the so-called good dance music and the pub or lounge ambiance. 

These days I end up remembering and comprehending the opinions of my folks and elders regarding the music and music videos of my generation. And I genuinely don’t feel like dancing every Saturday night. The 'party' songs – countless versions of David Guetta, Pitbull, Ludachris, Taio Cruz and LMFAO compositions – all sound same to me after one point. Of course, when in the right mood, I still love to groove. But that mood is set rarely these days and I am not sure why!

A recent satirical article I read somehow cleared my confusion to an extent. According to this, the nightlife crowd consists of three types of people – (1) People who go out to genuinely have a good time, (2) the all decked-up wannabes whose IQ is limited to the page 3 in newspaper supplements, and (3) the brainless rich spoilt kids for whom ‘nightlife is life’. I can safely assume I belong to category 1. But to genuinely have a good time, I need genuinely good company of like-minded people and here I am missing my dearest friends, all of them being in Delhi. Well, company matters! So give me a great book or movie anytime over an all-nighter of partying with people whose vibes don’t match mine and then, waking up in the morning (if sleeping is a provision at all!) with bad hangover. I would prefer to flock with birds of same feather!

But seriously, why all the ‘party songs’ sound similar these days? All the music videos look similar with scantily clad women with very suggestive dance moves. It’s not that I don’t enjoy these songs. But I honestly can’t differentiate one song from another many of the times. The exclamation ‘melodious song’ doesn’t pop out in my mind when I listen to these numbers. Of course, when in the right mood, I too love to dance on them. But no, they never feature on my list of top favourites. They are always ‘flavours of the season’.

I wish there would be more melodious singers like Christina Perri, Adele, Rumer, Maroon 5 and of course, my obsession… Bruno Mars. I have never been in love with any singer until I heard the divine voice of Bruno Mars. Even the music videos of these singers are very creative and have a storyline which makes them worth remembering.

Recently, I listened to this amazing song called “If I die young” by The Band Perry. The lyrics and the music video prove that poetry can be experienced and lived. Songs need not be about relationships, heart-breaks and love-making. There are so many stories to be told and interpreted by artistic minds and a song like “If I die young” just gives flight to that imagination. The final adieu as depicted in the song… wow… even I would love to leave the world with a book of Tennyson’s poetry!!! I recommend this one to all true 'Music' lovers.

(P.S. All my pals… I still love to recall my farewell party night in Delhi… will never forget that all-nighter J !!!)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Burger Off!!!

Whatever others might say, I loved Imtiaz Ali’s Rockstar!

Many thought the film was not up to the expectations. Why? Arrey, it was not at all about the rise and fall of a rockstar! It was a love story!!!

Come on, if the plot would have been so predictable then there would never be anything called ‘the magic of movies’! Isn’t life beautiful because it is so unpredictable? I went for Rockstar with no pre-conceived notions except for two facts – I love Imtiaz Ali’s style of story-telling and I think Ranbir Kapoor is a power-house of acting prowess. And yeah, for a chance to relive my memories of Delhi and North Campus (I love to do that through all the wonderful Delhi-based films like Band Baaja Baaraat)!

And I was not disappointed. The abstract montage of various events in the life of Jordan, the protagonist, is something that’s a novelty in Indian cinema. Many in the theatre couldn’t grasp it and simply opined, “Poor screenplay”. But I thought it was very intelligent modern art… the audience is compelled to think... to wonder.

The basic theme of the story is the love story between Jordan and Heer. Now I would admit, although Nargis Fakri is ethereally beautiful, I wished she was even an inch of an actor! But Ranbir is a treat to watch. It’s apparent that he put in his heart and soul in the character and as a consequence, he turned into one of the essences of the soul of Rockstar; the other essences being the music by A. R. Rahman and the voice of Mohit Chauhan. I have never been a fan of Mohit Chauhan although his songs are always good. But for the first time, I simply loved his voice. The best aspect is the aura of live concert that’s been created on-screen. The songs, the music grows on you although you have heard the entire album beforehand.

But I am not playing the role of a movie critic here. I loved the complicated, the poetic way of painting a cute love story and an unusual heart-break. I loved the fact that the skeleton of the movie owes its origin to Rumi’s poetry. I loved that there was no expected and usual depiction of rockstar whose life was infested by over-dose of sex, booze and drugs. I simply loved the little little symbolic representations like the key on the guitar strap. And I loved that there was no attempt to make any pseudo-intellectual statement. Just a beautiful reference to innocent birds in two songs and a fleeting support to the Tibet movement... it was more than enough. It's not a movie about politically correct or incorrect statements and thankfully, it remained that way!

Not for a single second I wondered why there was no expected portrayal of the rise and fall of Jordan as Rockstar. I admire the fact that Imtiaz Ali dreamed and dared to tell his story in his own way. May be, as stated in the movie, creative people do think and act in crazy and unexpected way!!!

Of course, cinematically Rockstar is no 8 Mile. But the film-maker must really have been inspired by Rumi… I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think. He had a vision and he sang it out beautifully on celluloid. There was no deviation from the basic plot of the subtle love story; the story of rise and rise of the rockstar was intertwined with the main plot. There was no forceful tone of tragic blues. The movie was a melodious song or an eye-catching sketch for me.

So one question that has been on my mind is -- “Do you really have to go through heartbreak to produce something creative, something that will jolt others hearts to sighs and cries??” Well, that’s a matter which may be I will think about some other time.

For now, well, those who didn’t like Rockstar, please move onto something predictable like Murder 2. And “Burger off”!!! (You know what I mean… wink!)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Whiff of The Memory…

The story has long turned into a lump in my throat,

I have no more memories of the lips I had kissed

Or the smell of the arms where I had rested my head.

Yet the ghosts of the memory haunt me…

Like Wordsworth’s Solitary Reaper

I stand alone under the winter rain,

The tears have long gone.

Yet the thorns of the black rose prick the weary heart…

The memory has vanished like the February mist

But a few whispers have remained…

I dream of flying

Like Marry Poppins with the red umbrella,

My angel smiles the sunbeam for me,

But two orange autumn leaves are still surviving the new breeze…

Monday, November 7, 2011

Like A Movie Star…

“What we think ‘Real’ is just the mirror image of our innermost desires.”

As school-going teenagers, we used to find similarities between a film’s story and our own life-stories, specially the love sagas. You know, the kind of stories where lovers have to face obstacles from family and society, majorly having a tragic undertone. I even used to call my then-boyfriend by the names of the characters I had fallen in love with and so did he. In those days, even a song used to describe the situation we used to get ourselves into. I am sure many of you must be having such fond memories of the teenage years.

Gosh, those were the days… the good old days of our acne-prone adolescence and teenage years. Silly fantasies and puppy loves! The world seemed to revolve around us and our love lives. Looking back, I have some very fond memories of those growing-up years.
Then we all were highly awed and influenced by the passionate portrayal of the obsessive lover by Shah Rukh Khan. So much so, many tried to emulate his crazy ways like cutting the name of the lover on the hand. In fact, this is a private joke till date between me and my friends which is not for ‘mere mortals’ (Winking)!

But we were just growing up then. Romantic glares on, we were not able to visualize the real world, the real adult world (although we used to get warned by our folks). Once kiddy days are over, school romances are followed by college affairs and then office flings. So, do these ‘love stories’ still ape some block-buster?

Well, I guess many such real-life stories are more dramatic than any flick. After all in one movie, it would be very difficult to include so many plots of hook-ups and heartbreaks in a story of at most three hours! We open our eyes to a rude awakening that man like Humphrey Bogart of Casablanca, Richard Gere of Pretty Woman or for that matter, SRK of DDLJ doesn’t exist. (For the benefit of guys, neither do Julia Roberts nor Madhuri Dixit,or rather, their iconic characters exist!)

As I was watching Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara for the umpteenth time last evening, I once again realized our lives are rarely like anything as portrayed on celluloid. In that flick, Katrina Kaif enjoys drinks and travels with the three male protagonists, three complete strangers. The men adore her for being ‘cool’ and she shares comfortable vibe with all. But in reality, Katrina would never be able to do so without fighting off sexual overtures of these guys. The guys would justify their moves saying… “Well, she is the one who is visiting our place at night, drinking with us and hey, you can’t blame us men after a few pegs down!” So much for hoping against of hope for the three perfect men from ZNMD!!!

Yet, we keep on hoping. Of course, we are past that stupid phase of thinking we are the leads of a movie. And I am not only talking about romantic flicks. Many look up to even serious dramas like Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind or Vanilla Sky. May be as adults, we subconsciously attempt to run away from the harsh truth that life throws at us often. In the attempt to escape from the reality, maybe we end up discovering similarity between the real and the reel life. Maybe, as quoted at the very beginning, movies just mirror our innermost desires. But the real life is lived only by those who learn to live the life he or she wishes to, and not simply studying the movie lives… Maybe!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Enjoy a Café Latte

A few days back, a dear friend of mine called me up really late at night. Worried, I picked up and became more worried when I realized he was all panicky. But when he told me the reason of his panic, I was amused. His parents wanted him to meet some girl for ‘matrimonial cause’. I told him to meet the girl with an open mind as all it was just a meeting.

Then he confided to me about the emotional turmoil he has been going through. He is supposedly ‘in love’. But he is confused because the object of his affection has not actually committed to him. She is in a relationship with someone for nearly 10 years. At the same time, as she confided to my friend, she has been two-timing her boyfriend with someone in her office! And now she has been telling my friend that she would eventually break-up with both and come to him. In the meantime, she seeks support of my pal as she is often emotionally distraught due to this tug-of-war between the two men (and now she has the nerve to involve my friend!).

Any sane mind would warn my friend that this girl spells TROUBLE! But my friend feels emotionally connected her (damn these ‘emotions’!!!) In his words, “I feel she is getting trapped in an emotional quick-sand”. I curse the word ‘emotion’!

Now, this friend of mine has also recently broken up with his long-time girlfriend. So he has also been feeling a bit vulnerable and in the process of offering his shoulder to the cry-baby, he is slowly getting hooked to her. He thinks their stories of heart-break are somewhat similar and, thus, they are soul mates.

He is today confused regarding two aspects: firstly, whether she is the right one for him and secondly, what if she is the rebound for him?

So, around 3.30 am, I was attempting to play agony aunt to my dear friend. Although I am not an authority on affairs of human heart, I tried to reason with him. Betraying the trust of my sisterhood, I told him how we girls are really good or rather, brilliant in faking everything. I humbly requested him to let that girl take her decisions herself. He should strictly tell the girl to handle the two affairs herself and come to him only after the mess is sorted. It’s a mess created by her and should be ended on her own. Why should my friend bear the brunt of two jilted lovers or for that matter, a bad Karma of being the ‘home-wrecker’? I told him if the girl has genuine feelings for him, she will take the necessary steps herself.  Rest things will take shape themselves. Thank god, he understood my point.

Now coming to his second apprehension, well, only time will tell if she is the rebound (all depends if it ever happens between them). Thus, he should wait and watch. Once the girl comes out clean and strong and commits to him, he would eventually know it himself. Then I gave him an amusing lesson on matters of heart.

‘The Rebound’ is something that’s pretty interesting. Many would view such a ‘relationship’ with curious thoughts. But I see it in a ‘fun’ light.

I am a Cappuccino girl.  But an occasional Café Latte breaks the monotony and rejuvenates you. To move on from a failed relationship in which you had invested so much emotions and time, the rebound works like the Café Latte. Having a fling with someone, who is so not your type, can work like magic. You risk your feelings, you tread an unknown ground and it gives you a high. And this high feeling heals the wounds of the broken relationship. You feel rejuvenated, all set for a new love chapter in your life-story.

Thus, I advised my friend to take one step at a time. If and when the girl commits to him, he should let actions speak louder than any forced emotions. If there is any sign of it being a rebound for both of them, then he should simply enjoy the moment and let go once he feels he is ready for the next story. ‘The Rebound' does help you to bounce back into lively life!!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Manipulating.... Scripting.... So You Mean Your Life is Not Yours!!!

No one can manipulate anyone else. In any relationship, both parties know what they are doing, even if one of them complains later on that they were used.

-The Witch of Portobello, Paulo Coelho

Can a relationship be fabricated? Can a girl really manipulate the thoughts and emotion of the guy whom she likes? Can a guy strategize to make his dream-girl to fall for him? Do emotions really make you so blind? Does a person’s brain stop functioning on its own due to ‘manipulation’ of someone else?

First of all, what can be defined as ‘manipulating a relationship’? Secondly, who decides who manipulated whom?

Let’s see two sides of the coin.

One of the oldest tricks in every man’s book to hook the girl – talk badly about the ex-girlfriend, how much of an ugly bitch she was and how she was possessive and obsessive about him.

The girls can also give a worthy competition to men in this game. Tell him a sob story, with all those rain-drop sized tears, about the ex who never gave her the time and the dignity she deserves and how he had clipped the wings of her dreams.

Sounds familiar? It is actually that easy to snatch the attention and affection of the opposite sex with such ancient ploys. But is there any scheme to retain and extend the attention span? Flirting and engaging in a fling with all these plots is easy, and is acceptable to a certain extent. I think there is also some kind of kick in the chase. But ‘scripting’ a love story, a sustaining relationship?! Is it that convenient?

Come on, is an individual, especially an adult, so dumb that he or she can be manipulated to ‘fall in love’? If I am able to achieve that feat then I will for sure lose interest in that man very soon for one simple reason – the man must be really spineless for not able to recognize and follow his own emotions. I don’t need such an emotionally immature person who doesn’t know what does his heart desire.

It’s just a matter of blame game. Two consenting adults can never put into action a strategy to lure each other into a committed relationship. If someone does, well… according to me, that’s not a relationship but only a fling. The one who is manipulating is doing so for momentary pleasure, while the other who is being manipulated is the victim of confused feelings which would eventually die a silent death. Fact is, none is in love. And the fact is, even if this ‘relationship’ starts, well, the future will always remain bleak. The very foundation is set by a web of lies. How could it blossom into a ‘Happily Ever After’? It is and will always be a ‘At the Moment’.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Marriage & Its Brand Equity

As I have mentioned on several occasions, ‘Marriage’ has been the phrase and flavor in my life since some time now. Every now and then, I am bombarded with news of friends and acquaintances getting married or getting ready for the huge step. Then there is the dreadful question that’s often thrown at me, “When are you getting married?”  Getting hitched and making me settle down suddenly seem to be the priorities everywhere! The age of getting married, oops… sorry, the ripe age of getting married is torturous. There are enormous rounds of drama and trauma involved, courtesy the two involved parties – the prospect and her family. Well, I guess everyone stands right at one’s own place.

I am never against marriage. It is a sacred institution. But somewhere down the line, I feel this sacred institution is losing a certain amount of sheen off its Brand Equity. If I am allowed to use a marketing jargon, ‘Marriage’ today has turned into a ‘Cash cow’. All the pros and cons of this establishment have been analyzed and comprehended in our mature market, oops, society. The businesses of wedding planning, hotels, resorts or banquet halls and fashion are leaving no stone unturned to milk this fat cow. Ironically, we often use the term ‘The Big Fat Indian Wedding’ (without a doubt, inspired by the cute movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. We are so good in copying!)

But biggest reason for comparing marriage with Cash cow is simple. Consider this situation: when you are planning to buy a car, you get numerous suggestions. But if you state that you want to buy a just launched vehicle, people will advise you to opt for a safe option and buy an already popular car. So, you are directed to the most popular car of a particular brand, the cash cow of the brand. “If nothing works out, lets get a Maruti 800, Santro or I10!”

The logic usually given is: you can’t stay alone forever. You are required to blend in the society. So even if you wish to swim against the tide, others try to ensure you don’t break the convention. We still look at couples in live-in relationship with curious eyes, if not scandalous manner. Marriage is the safest and the best investment in your life. You won’t be at a loss if you get married! In terms of the BCG Matrix, your personal growth (market growth rate) might be low, but you enjoy a strong social position (market share). Hence, I am calling ‘Marriage’ a ‘Cash cow’.

You can choose to differ. And I will state again, I am certainly not anti-marriage!!! It is just that I don’t understand the rush people and their families exhibit once they reach that ‘marriageable age’. Any investment in life requires lots of thought and marriage IS THE BIGGEST INVESTMENT OF LIFE. After all, you are going to spend of your whole life with that person, get tied down with each other’s families as well as with biggest responsibilities, including giving birth to a new generation! So, why the rush?! How in an arranged marriage, families can try to seal the fate of the persons involved? Even in love marriage, how much time is enough to understand the gravity of the future responsibilities? Are a few days of courtship sufficient to take the big decision?

‘To be or not to be’ is the trick question. And I am not the right person to opine. But I know for a fact, marriage is definitely not dolls play. Even if you want to buy a popular brand of car, you are usually spoilt for choices. So, you should do proper research, give deeper thought and take the biggest decision. Marriage is not an impulse buying decision!!!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Bridging the Age

So Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher are heading towards splitsville, ready to wash dirty linen in an epic 290 million USD divorce battle. This is nothing unusual in case of Hollywood celebrities, you will argue. I agree. But my focus is not the post-mortem of Hollywood romance. It’s something which most often makes me think about and question my own choices.

First of all, I would salute both Demi and Ashton for sailing their love boat for almost a decade. Call her a cougar or him a toy-boy, but together they withstood the criticisms and doubts despite the 15 years of age difference (she is 48 and he is 33 now). I actually respected the couple for sustaining so long, although I always suspected they would ultimately fall prey to the usual Hollywood storyline of marriage or relationship (read Tom Cruise-Nicole Kidman, Susan Sarandon-Tim Robbins). It has been reported that the Demi-Ashton story is ending due to his serial bout of cheating on her with younger women. So, are you surprised? I am not.

I feel the huge age difference finally took its toll. Demi must have been the anchor in this relationship owing to two facts - she is the woman and the older one. But the very ‘old age’ must have been the ship wrecker. Man anyways is notorious for having shorter attention span; his interest in his woman is always at the risk of diluting. So a much younger Ashton must have been easily succumbing to all the temptations, bored of an older wife. Of course, Demi will still give 20-somethings a run for their penny even at this age. But you will have to agree, she is way past her Ghost glory days. And Ashton is young and his career is definitely on the rise (the countless rom-coms and yes, replacing Charlie Sheen in Two and a Half Men). He has much more success stories in store. The age gap, hate it or not, seems to have a taken a toll on this relationship.

Such cases are not rare. Take the recent case of Playboy chief Hugh Hefner and his runaway bride, Crystal Harris. I was amused when I had read the news of the marriage of the 85 year old media mogul to his 25 year old Playboy bunny girlfriend. Come on, is getting hitched this easy?! I concluded she is just a gold-digger and such is the trend in the glamour world of the west. Then Harris called off the marriage. Thank god, finally good sense prevailed in the girl. Harris later stated, It was all just happening too fast for me. I just sat back and thought about it all. Is this what I wanted? And it wasn't."(Thank god, these girls are not that bimbo after all!)

We don’t have to probe further west as there are several home-grown ‘age-gap’ love stories as well. Remember the Saif Ali Khan-Amrita Singh marriage? Their story is our very own Demi-Ashton saga as Amrita was older than Saif. Now Saif is romancing a much younger Kareena Kapoor. The entire country is eagerly awaiting the end of the Saifeena love story – ‘marriage or break-up?’ is always the favourite topic of the gossip tabloids.

Then there is the love legend of Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu. The vetern couple has weathered so many years of togetherness despite the huge age difference of 22 years. But is everyone is as fortunate as them? What about us mere mortals?

A friend’s recent Facebook update read “Few women admit their age. Few men act theirs!” I believe in this. Moreover, I believe women mature much before men. Which means the thought-process of a girl and a boy of the same age or age group will be vastly different. She is usually the wiser one. That’s my perception and which is why I always fall for older guys! Give me George Clooney any day over Robert Pattinson.

I have always shown more affinity towards men older than me. In fact, many a times my friends tease me that I might get hitched to an old man eventually. But there are always a few apprehensions in the back of my mind regarding getting into a relationship with an older man. What if the guy is too old for me that he starts considering me a kid? What if the things we both want in our lives together would differ as our thinking ‘age zones’ are different? Wouldn’t he get insecure if I am friendly with men younger than him? Would he become too old eventually to enjoy things I want to enjoy in life? What if I get bored of his old ways or worst, him?

On the brighter side, an older man usually lets go of the mistakes committed by the younger partner (or so as explained to me by many elderly women).  The older man is usually financially stable and can pamper you. (But again, I know of several exceptional cases: some older guys end up being big-time losers and actually look forward to sustain on the woman’s earnings!)

To be honest I am confused. Most often I am in a dilemma. I can see several flip sides of a sizable age difference between couples. But then, I can’t help my feelings. I still look out for the older men. The age-difference in relationship is a debatable topic. It will always be a matter of concern for everyone involved – the couple and their respective families and friends. But somewhere, I feel, the onus lies on the younger partner to strengthen and sustain the relationship. The younger one has age on hand and choices galore. So she or he has to be sure about the decisions and the loyalty towards the older partner. If only Ashton Kutcher has resisted all the temptations, people could have still marveled at the awesome couple. But unfortunately, he strayed despite having a gorgeous woman at home (he cheated on her just before celebrating their sixth marriage anniversary!!!)

I will need your viewpoints on this. Till then, I will sigh over the cute romantic movies like Autumn in New York (what a poignant story of an older Richard Gere and a young girl Winona Ryder) and our own charming Lamhe!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Me… A Bad Girl!

So by now most of you must have watched ‘Mere Brother ki Dulhan’. If not, then most certainly all of you must be grooving to the enthralling song ‘Dhunki’ and going gaga over Katrina Kaif’s rockstar look. In the film, she is the fun-loving, carefree and sincere-hearted ‘Bad Girl’. So why am I highlighting the bad girl?

While watching the film, I saw a bit of myself in Dimple (Katrina’s character). She enjoys her young days. She views life through rose-tinted glares and chooses to ignore the darker aspects of life, although she is aware of their presence. Happy-go-lucky and bindass is the way of life for her. She doesn’t mince words, is a brat and enjoys ‘the bad things’ (read smoking, drinking and breaking the rules). She is a rebel. Thus, by society’s definition, she is a bad girl.

But she has a few limitations set for herself, by herself. She won’t break those barriers. Just because she flirts with guys, she won’t go onto sleep with each and every guy she flirts with. She is highly frustrated with the general attitude of men towards girls like her. She is tired of the double standard of Indian men who claim to enjoy the company of girls like her but are constantly on the look out of the first opportunity to bed her. And the biggest hypocritical stance of the men is really sickening – such ‘bad girls’ are fun companies but not marriage materials. You see, she is ‘easy’, and not ‘wifey’!

In the film, Katrina laments about this double face of Indian men to Imran Khan. He tries to reason with her that our society is not accustomed to free-spirited girls. The Indian society is still by bound by tradition.

Now my problem with the explanation given by Imran lies in the following fact –

“If our society is still bound by tradition, then why do the Indian men behave like they belong to an entirely alien culture? Does ‘being Indian’ apply only to girls?”

I am so tired of such chauvinistic outlook. Take for consideration the numerous deodorant advertisements playing non-stop on the idiot-box. The theme of all these ads are same – apply the deo and girls will jump on the guy like moths throng towards flame. I particularly hate one ad which shows the guy ordering two girls to reach his place in 5 minutes. What a way to demean women!

Come on, we girls are not that dumb. We would go out only with the guys whom we like from first impression. We would observe and study and make the move or let him make the move only if we like him and wish to give him a shot. Trust me, if we didn’t like you, you won’t even get the chance to talk to us. We might be the emotionally weaker sex, but we are very capable of taking hard and strong decisions.

We might not be the ‘perfect Indian girl’ as defined by society. We do like to have fun. Personally, I hate to be bound by rules. Yet I have always set my own rules. If I don’t want to do something, no one can force me to do so. I have my own strong opinions and I value the difference between right and wrong. Of course, there might and will be differences of opinion between your and my definitions of right and wrong. I will admit honestly, I have my flaws. However, I do possess a few ‘wifely’ attributes: I can cook well, I can set up a beautiful home and am very adept at handling problems associated with running a household. But this does not imply that I should not party with friends and guys. And just because I tread a bit on the wilder side, does not imply that I am a bad ‘bad girl’.

At least I can say that I don’t bear a hypocritical attitude towards men who enjoys the finer things in life. I don’t think men who break rules, drinks or smokes are ‘bad boys’. I also understand not every guy bears a chauvinistic attitude. In short, I don’t objectify men. And I understand the gravity of responsibilities that come with being a single working girl living an independent life, away from near and dear ones. I will have my share of fun while remaining sincere towards my own rules.

By the way, if you are trying to ape the open attitudes of the western society, then at least try to handle that attitude with maturity. One of my girlfriends recently travelled to Europe and she was recounting the experiences she had with the men there. She said that the guys there were such gentlemen that they never tried to grab a girl until and unless the girl had similar intention. Of course, there was flirting and the usual cheesy lines. (After all, men will be men!) But they won’t try to grope you and they won’t force themselves upon the unwilling girl. They knew how to make you feel like a lady.

I agree with her. I also met some really nice foreigners recently and experienced their perfectly gentlemen demeanor. They made me feel like Audrey Hepburn (I think I am obsessed with herJ).

Of course, I would neither claim that all Indian men are jerks nor that all foreigners are gentlemen. There are always exceptions and thank god for that! But my argument is simple, while trying to inculcate the alien culture, please try to borrow the similar maturity into your behaviour. Being carefree is not a problem. Being irresponsible is.

Keep rocking the party!!!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Har Ek Friend Zaroori Hota Hai? Or Soulmates?

After living amidst chaos and ‘too-busy-to-live’ crowd in Mumbai, an official trip to the beautiful campus of Indian School Business at Hyderabad turned into a welcome break for me. Although I was staying there for work, I fortunately had enough time to relax and soak in the beauty of the green and wonderfully designed campus. The serene silence created the perfect ambience for self-retrospection and looking at newer aspects of life.

The current favourite ad campaign of the season, Airtel’s ‘Har Ek Friend Zaroori Hota Hai’ had given me many points and stories to ponder over. I have been really lucky to have resided in different places, with different kinds of individuals and meeting a huge variety of characters that have become integral part of my life story. As I look back today, I can comprehend the significance of the Airtel ad. Moreover, since I was travelling with people from different nationalities, I was exposed to a whole new world.

So, is this true? Is each and every friend really important or necessary? There is a popular saying, “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” All the sayings or idioms in this world (whatever the tongue or community is) have a wise reason behind them. And the base of the above mentioned idiom is very simple and valuable, “Loyalty matters”!

We all have heard of this particular species – ‘Frenemy’. I have encountered this dangerous kind at different stages. Although at that time I used to think that those were unfortunate events, now looking back I can say that it wasn’t that bad. After all, I learned a few important lessons.

But it is always painful to witness people getting backstabbed by such frenemies. You trust them but they won’t even spare a thought of consideration before hurting you if they are at the benefits end. It’s always agonizing to experience and watch others undergoing Ceaser’s ‘Et tu Brutus?’ syndrome.

Then there is the seasonal ‘friend’, who is very dangerous. Beware! A very vital word called ‘loyalty’ does not exist in the dictionary of this breed. Such persons are actually so self-engrossed that they themselves are not aware that what they claim to be their loyalty is nothing but a pretension. This is mostly because they are in love with own self, and they fail to see the larger picture. Oscar Wilde once said, “People who love only once in their lives are shallow people. What they call their loyalty, and their fidelity, I call either the lethargy of custom or their lack of imagination.” I agree.

And at the other end of the spectrum stands the eternal debate of the existence of soulmates. A close friend of mine once confided that he is tired of chasing skirts. But unfortunately he hasn’t met ‘the one’. “I am waiting for my soulmate”, he said. I just laughed and simply stated that souls are not specified into genders. So his soulmate could very well be a man! In fact, I have met my soul sisters in my best friends. My friend understood the point.

The foreigners with whom I was travelling tried to understand the concept of arranged marriage in India. They asked me how is it possible to get married to ‘the one’ if he or she is sourced by family! Well, that is the way the Indian society has survived centuries and our society is actually much older than theirs – I replied. We are from the land which gave birth to the concept of soulmates and Kamasutra. Since Indians have survived all odds with arranged marriage and still have not faced the real divorce crisis as in the west, at some point, we definitely stand correct than the firangs – I proudly explained.

Yet they were not convinced. Then when I asked one of the guys if he is thinking marriage with his girlfriend of 3 years, he was surprised and said it was too early for that. I laughed and told him in India, many plan marriage within 3 weeks of dating! And no sir, that’s not even an arranged union. Then I questioned myself – “Do we Indians get married just for the sake of getting married?”

Seriously, in a country where marriage is such a revered institution, we have turned it into a circus, the ‘great Indian joke’. But I will discuss this next. I would love to do autopsy of this amazing tradition, more so because I have been facing the tamasha since some time now.

(P.S. My friends, love you all. The Har Ek Friend Zaroori Hota Hai is dedicated to you. And I know I don’t even have to take your names.)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Broken String

The rhapsody of silence

And the sonata of melodious breeze,

Are composing the couplet of life.

I am ruminating,

Trying to remember your song.

And I have realized,

You never sang.

I always orchestrated our symphonies,

And you were just a broken string.

A broken string with no hymn.

May you rest in peace

As I compose the requiem of your unmelodious life.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Show Me The Money, Honey…

This is an eternal debate… the debate between men and women. About who is more selfish in the relationship? As a girl, I can go on blaming men, pointing out the negative points of the opposite sex. But today I am in a good mood to explain.

Many a times I have argued with guys who have several grievances against girls. They complain how girls show more interest in men with currency power. How girls can be manipulative in wooing the men they set their eyes on! How money can be a decisive factor in a relationship!

Yes, money matters honey!

But majority of us are not gold-diggers. Rather, we search for successful men.

Ambition to cement a strong position in the society; honesty, integrity, courage and the drive to follow and achieve that ambition, a few of the traits we look for in an ideal man. A few very vital traits.

Selfish it might sound, but this is the brutal truth. Of course, romance has to be there. We won’t go and get hitched to the first rich and successful man who comes across. Every individual will have his or her reasons for choosing to be with someone. Attraction, mutual admiration and respect, the thrill of romance and lust, all the elements are important. But above all, we want to be with a man who has earned our respect for the man he is.

A few of my friends recently got married, agreeing to arranged unions. They broke up with their boyfriends and decided to start life afresh with men selected by their folks. I was as much surprised by their decisions as their exes. When I asked them what went wrong with the relationships that had seen so many seasons together, their replies were mostly similar. Being in love is a divine feeling. They were so much in love that they were ready to wait eternally for the boyfriends to become financially secure. But the guys were not committed enough – neither to their goals nor to the promises they had made to their loves.

In the words of one of these friends, “He was not man enough to chase his dreams and convert them into reality. Money would have automatically flowed if he had guts to do what he wanted or rather, claimed he wanted to do. I had given him all the time in the world, promising that I would wait and thus, supporting him in all endeavours. But somehow, it was all talk and no show. He could not motivate himself. How long could I have waited? Today I am married to a respectable and successful man who can provide a secure future to me. He might not be the ‘Great Love’ of my life, but I respect him and so does my family.”

In today’s scenario, working girls like me won’t rely on a man to survive. I have grown up watching and admiring a strong lady like my mother who has never, till date, asked for even a sari from my father. She is a respectable doctor, just like my father. But we girls will always prefer to be with a man who is more educated, more successful and more responsible than us. We are not after the money, but after the man whom we can trust to be supportive if the need arises. The man who can pamper us if and when we want (come on, we girls love to be pampered!). The man whom we respect and whom the society respects.

I know many will find fault in my thought-process. And they are welcome to have their opinions (just like I have mine). After all, men and women will never agree on same points. The twain shall never meet. But rather than blaming women for behaving selfish, don’t you think you need to take a deeper look at the situation? Be a man, own up to yourself, stick to your goals and we will stick with you.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Dear Juliet…

This weekend, I watched a beautiful ‘little’ movie named “Letters to Juliet”. I am terming the movie as ‘little’ because it is such an endearing movie with child-like innocence and honesty that touches the core of your heart. It’s like a leisurely poetry that takes you to an ethereal world, devoid of any corrupt or depressive element. A completely romantic movie but not at all sugar-coated. In a quiet way, it paints the stories of true love. The fact that the story is majorly set in the beautiful country sides of Italy, especially in Verona, the City of Love, the movie has secured a special place in my heart. Italy, according to me, is the heaven of romance with its virgin beauty and thus, tops my list of ‘places to explore before I die’.

The plot of the movie is based on a curious tradition in Verona where women of different ages write to Juliet (of Romeo and Juliet) about their stories of loves and heartbreaks. A few women, who call themselves ‘Secretaries of Juliet’, reply to all the letter-writers. The story is based on such a reply written by the lead, played by the beautiful and delightfully talented Amanda Seyfried, the only known face in the movie.

Today, I am writing to Juliet inspired by the movie and the reply written Sophie (Amanda). So here it goes:

Dear Juliet,

‘What’ and ‘If’ are two words as non-threatening as words can be. But put them together side by side and they have the power to haunt you for the rest of your life. 

‘What if’?!

What if you had never had the night sojourn on the balcony with Romeo?

What if you had decided not to drink the intoxicant that made you appear dead?

What if Romeo had arrived a few minutes late?       
What if Romeo had broken your heart after your feuding families agreed to your union?

What if you were born today and not in Shakespeare’s imagination?

What if?...

Juliet, if you were born today, would you have still believed in ‘true love’? What if Romeo didn’t have the time for the rendezvous at night? And if he had, would he have serenaded you from the ground as you looked on from your balcony? But I guess that would be highly improbable considering the fact that you would be residing in some high-rise building. So Romeo would rather prefer to take the lift and meet you when your folks are not there.

What if you ever came to know that Romeo, whom you considered your soul mate and true love, was cheating on you?

What if you come across a more perfect man than Romeo who truly understands and values your worth as an individual?

I have never felt what a love like the legendary Juliet’s feels like – the love to cross oceans for, the love to fight the world for, the love to see beauty even in the viciousness of the world. But dear Juliet of 21st century, tell me, is it worth all the heartaches?

You care for him, you worry about his worries. But he forgets to wish you even a ‘good morning’. You want to talk about your dreams and passion with him. But he doesn’t listen, all the while giving you a “I-know-it-all” smile. You are upset and he doesn’t notice. All you want to do is take a stroll on the beach but he ignores even meeting you. Reason, he doesn’t have the money to take you out! You painstakingly plan for surprise gifts which he likes and he is off to party with others (which includes a few girls with whom he cheats on you). You think of a beautiful tomorrow with him. He says he needs time to be financially stable. You understand and silently wait for him. You perfectly understand that he is not a match as expected by your family and is actually not a perfect husband material. He is always needy – monetarily, emotionally and physically. You are more talented than him and you can earn more than him. You have met nicer men than him. Many of them earn more than him and a few of them are embarrassingly younger than him (but he is not embarrassed!). These men respect and admire you. You know everything. But you ignore it all.

Why Juliet why?? Why do you keep on believing in true love? Why do want to keep on living with these recurring heartaches?

But don’t think I am a cynic. I know true love exists. But its been polluted or diluted, whatever you want to call it. And Romeo, my dear Juliet, is not that true love you are looking for or deserve. You don’t deserve to shed those teardrops on your guitar for a loser like him. 

You need to think over and analyse, "What if I dump Romeo before he does the same as it is bound to happen?!" Trust me Juliet, the world will once again be beautiful, just like you.

Dear Juliet, you are a courageous lady. This is the reason which has enabled you to tolerate an idiot like Romeo. But you need to stop playing the victim. Romeo should just be another chapter of your diary. Actually he doesn’t deserve even a page. But all his negative aspects would at least create one positive aspect in your life – you will understand how strong you are to come out of a bad situation named Romeo!

Hence, dear Juliet, this is an appeal to you. Please let go and move on. Life has many more beautiful experiences in store for you. There is a happy place for everyone in this world. Even Romeo might have found one. But you, Juliet, deserve only the best. And I will pray that your true love is waiting for you at that place.

Keep on the faith Juliet!