Aside

Road no 12, Banjara Hills

It was this road that ran a good length into Banjara Hills, flanked protectively by luxury brands on either sides. Amrapali, the store read and an elevated cobblestoned driveway led to the side door. I walked in, step matching with Jigi. The first thing I noticed was some girl’s bleached hair, coloured rainbow, falling dry and limp on her shoulders. I turn away to look at Jigi.

” What are we doing here?” , I ask. We don’t normally just walk into a high end store without first drawing gigantic sketches that always concluded on, ” We’ll probably regret it, but lets do it”.

Standing a good foot tall above me, he barely looks at me and says, ” We are buying you a nosepin.”

“Here?”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah, No”

” Okay, I will buy a nosepin. You do whatever you want to do”

I sigh and maze my way to the bathrooms. When I was out, I could hear the lovely Indian classical music pouring right out of the papered walls onto the perfumed air. I could see the china, whose trims were writhed in pink roses and gold leaves. The world was a better place.

Jigi is waiting.

We climb up the stairs and reach our section of the store, that supposedly has nosepins. Well, not the kind my dear boyfriend envisioned. They were the size of a lemon. We laughed and looked around petty towels and perfumes until we got bored and out we went.

The first bubble of laughter from my lips escaped as fast as his first drag of cigarette that he blew at the setting sun. We walked, our backs against the sun, under a velvety blue sky.

“The Trip” and how feminism is misunderstood by wealthy media houses.

The Trip

So, one day, I come across this sponsored content on facebook, which was the first episode of a series called “The Trip”. I watched the first episode. It was stylish, the people were pretty and it had Mallika Dua in it and she’s adorable and incredibly funny.  I went eh and watched. I even somehow, got my boyfriend to watch it. We decided it was very pretend and we continued watching. ( Because, there is something soooooo seductive about bad content)

What is the nonsense about?

Four women, one of them is getting married, they plan a bachelorette, they bond, things go wrong for everybody at some level and they live happily ever after like chickens running around with their heads cut off.

Elements of the show and why they were a jarring pain

The branding – The endorsement and branding game in this series was another level. It was overkill.  You couldn’t get through even five minutes of an episode without being reminded to either blush (Because, feminism is aaaaal about blushing) or glow with the Lakme face wash.  I do not know what the objective of such aggressive stupidity was, but I am never buying anything Lakme ever again.

 The premise –  Oh, so a group of friends who have known each other for a while, get together for a wedding, plan a bachelorette and take a road trip? Wow, tell me more. Its not like it has been done  SO MANY TIMES ALREADY!  What was SO NEW about this that you wanted to make a show out of it ?  Huh ?

The Thailand/ Bangkok Obsession – What have these countries ever done to you, to deserve such negative press? I will just leave the question there for you to ponder over.

The boring romance – The romance between Lisa Haydon and the boyfriend ( Cause, he wasn’t cute enough for me to google his name, sorry) was so cringe worthy. It was like watching someone eat cornflakes at 4 am. It’s stupid and boring and I’d rather be sleeping.

The misguided Effort  You want to make a series about women bonding and getting stronger?  And you thought showing four rich, pretty women with petty issues and whiny attitudes is going to bring the message home?  What else did you think? That the moon was a star ?

The glorification of Consumerism – You watch this show, you will believe that money brings happiness, and warmth and love and a boyfriend and world peace. Money is everything. Buy all the stuff, it will keep you warm at night.

Nothing about the show shows women in a good light. It shows women running around, being petty, living undecided lives, all while they blush and glow in their Ford endeavor car while being comfy in their whisper sanitary pads. 

Oh but Mallika Dua, is lovely! She made the ordeal bearable.

 

The Breakfast Show with Arnab

Sleep sometimes refuses to come. Sometimes it feels like trying  on  an old blouse, now two sizes smaller. Its a stubborn effort, its painstakingly long and it is a grim reminder of the forgotten resolutions. kale, my ass.

 I lay, eyes closed forcing all my fatigue to my brain. I was not dropping hints anymore. This was the romance less, “You, me, here and now” rendition.

I kept waking up throughout and my alarm went off at 5am. Relieved, I took a shower. At least now, there was no pressure to sleep.

Sleep eyed, I sat beside Jigi’s brother in the car, as he drove. I kept talking to keep myself awake at the expense of his divided attention. In the bus stand, we waited for Jigi to arrive, whatever time we had, we hunted for tea, drank coffee, he smoked a cigarette while I tainted his early morning cigarette experience ( if there is one? I dont know. What is the fuss all about? The entire trip, right? The exhale, the little masturbation exercise of watching the smoke drift by, like life, one cigarette at a time.)

Bored, we went back to the parking lot and waited in the car, watching a particularly charismatic Indian journalist turned entertainer yelling on national television. On a news channel.  His familiar voice calmed my nerves. The senseless pride we feel at showing a friend the big garbage dump in the  neighborhood was  replicated. Come, see, here is India’s finest entertainment, disguised as news.

 *Preach Begins*You watch some people do somethings not because there is any intellectual value in it, but only and only because, there is a shock factor to it, which when not coupled with brutality, is entertaining in healthy doses. *Preach Ends*

Arnab Goswami was the shock factor that refused to wear off. He was slow, killing, numbing and always, the entertainer. I let go. Entertain me, Arnab.

It was hot and comfortable inside the car and I was getting sleepier, in spite of the unnecessarily high pitched and dramatic narration by Arnab. Yes, Arnab. No, Arnab. Whatever, Arnab. No Arnab, a questioning is not reasoning. Reasoning results from… Alright, sorry Arnab. I will shut my mouth. Your show. Shame on me.

Jigi called. He was here. We pick him up.

Jigi eases into the backseat wearing a grey T shirt and all the misery of Chennai on his face. He shuts the door and says “Roll it”.

Dissenters, dissenting

Hyderabad feels like the inside of an old, damp house now. These monsoons behave like my father. Unyielding, they rain on, and I blink at the rain, giving it the same treatment I give my father, The silent treatment. Both do not care.In this glorious weather, there is a discussion about ‘ Democrats & Dissenters’ By Ramchandra Guha. I tap the screen. I was “Going” to the event now. Facebook showed thunderstorms in the weather forecast for the day in the event timings. I blinked twice at the screen. Silent Treatment.

At Vidyaranya Highschool.

I am now at the venue, with Anoora. I am surprised to find Ramchandra Guha, in front of building. I imagined at least a 100 feet distance between me and him, conditioned as I am, by the VIP culture.He was drinking chai, signing books and making polite conservations. He looked taller in real life and infinitely more charismatic.

We went in. Rows of biscuit colored plastic chairs, an eerie yellow light and scary big windows caught my fancy. I will like this show . A few people already were seated. We took our pick of the seats, aisle and view considered and Anoora selfishly picked the better one out of the two. The hall filled out slowly and Guha walked in.

I was spoilt by Jigi to not go into something with expectations. Now, it is so strong, I don’t even watch trailers before entering into the cinema hall. Though the man speaking in front of me was an intellectual through and through, I sat expecting nothing. I didn’t love the man and I wasn’t planning on falling in love this awful monsoon season. But by the end of it, I left the hall a little infatuated and a lot more annoyed at being that. 

He started his speech with quotes about India, which drew cheers from the audience at all the wrong places. I disagreed with all of it, except for the parts where the essence was to consider places as thinking muses.

In the speech that followed, his love for sociology as a tool to explain and understand society was very apparent. His book was a collection of essays and he broke it down essay by essay, carefully avoiding any and all spoilers. But, discussion at times trumped strategy and he had to divulge the why and what of it. 

One such lovely instance was when he spoke of a topic closest to my being, The lack of conservative intellectuals in India, now. That was when, I loosened up and starting nodding to his arguments. I found a stream of thought where I was as passionate as he was and there is no better audience than a passionate one, who has no idea about the mechanics of the topic. I was that. I was the raving lunatic. I was the perfect listener for as long as he spoke of conservative itellectualism. 

 The speaker too was very passionate and passion, gets one thirsty. The man drank a lot of water, and he did it so gracefully, one would think he planned it to happen, at that pause in the speech, in that fashion, and only so many times. Was the fruit print paper cup also planned? I hope not, it was a terrible looking cup.

 I admired the nonchalance with which he addressed the public, which was a healthy mix of self awareness and arrogance, but, what he spoke of, made so much sense, was such a ride, you would forgive him for not being the humblest guy on the Earth.

 

His speech ended and now, there was a Q and A session with an editor of a publication whose name I do not recollect. It was a very lackluster session and the questioner was putting a damp blanket on the atmosphere. I do not like humidity. I endured one, looked at Anoora, we both agreed to leave. Still, we waited for one more question. Nope, the questioner just wasn’t brilliant enough to exploit the best out of Guha there. We decided and made a soundless exit out of the hall.

 

It was raining. We sit in the car, and the most terrifying sound, wakes me up. The car beside us got a little ouchie as we pulled out of the parking. We do a ritual of “ What can we do” elaborately in front of the driver, in the safety of the car, and leave a distressed driver behind us, who was crafting stories to tell his “Memsaab” about the scratch on the front bumper of the car. Your cat did it memsaab, yes memsaab, you do have a cat.