Thursday, August 26, 2010

20 tips on becoming an Indian gangster’s moll

1) You should be aware of the existence of the term ‘moll’

2) You should have lived the 70s

3) You should know how to tie saris below the waist line

4) And looking stunning in ‘western clothes’ too

5) You should understand Ajit and Mona Darling jokes

6) Know who Ajit is in the first place

7) Carry off ‘the cigarette holder’ look with style

8) Use red lipstick

9) Wear high heels

10) And plunging necklines

11) Laugh knowingly

12) Smile seductively

13) Know the ins-and-outs of gold smuggling

14) But drug smuggling is strictly a no-no*

15) Learn a Helen dance routine**

16) Be haughty

17) And flirty

18) Have ability to recognize the mole in the gang

19) Keep your day job in case the underworld politics turns against you

20) Don’t fall for the honest police officer no matter how charming and good looking he is***

* The principle borrowed from Don Corleone aka God Father and repeatedly used by all the ‘scrupulous’ Mumbai Dons

**I recommend “yeh mera dil” from Don- the original Don. Kareena only managed to do semi-justice to the song in the new-crappy-Don (what was the talented Farhan thinking? Not about Kareena; about the movie in general)

*** like Shashi Kapoor in Deewar

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bhaiya mere…

Rakhi ke bandhan ko nibhana, bhaiya mere, choti bahen ko na rulana….a song that made its way to our 14 inch TV set every August through the marvelous program of Chayageet. It acted as an announcer for the upcoming festival of Raksha Bandhan.

Raksha Bandhan is a Hindu festival for brothers and sisters. A sister ties the ‘holy thread’ (Wikipedia described the Rakhi as that) on her brothers wrist and the brother is then bound to protect his sister against all of life’s perils. Brother also has to get a gift (or the ever-welcome cash) for the sister, who in turns gives him sweets. Rule of thumb- no Indian festival is complete without exchange of sweets.

So that in a nutshell is Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi. My 2nd favorite festival after Holi (which is by far my favouritest! And yes I know that’s not a word). Diwali stands at no. 3.

Growing up with 3 brothers makes one naturally inclined towards Rakhi. Lifetime protection AND fab gifts or cash every year. It’s a no brainer on why Rakhi ranks high on my popularity charts!

On a less frivolous note…

A relationship between a brother and sister mirrors a roller coaster ride- ups and downs, lows and highs, screams (tons of them!), laughs, smiles, scares- but ultimately a fabulous fun experience!

Younger brothers can be a pain in the a$%$. No question.
  • They hoard the bathrooms (and my bros are notorious for that)
  • Never let you borrow their stuff
  • Capture and never release the TV remote
  • Are secretive and mysterious (when actually their lives are really not that glamorous)
  • And mums tend to have a soft corner for them
But they make life super fun….

• If you want to get out of a boring family wedding, use them. They will come up with a devious plan and you will not only get out of the wedding, but also get cash from parents to go eat out.

• They are great buffet companions. Especially for me- as I can eat (and usually do eat) more than most boys I know. And going for an all-you-can-eat session with girls- is a bloody waste and makes you feel like a glutton. But go with your brothers- and you will never be out of place.

• Inane conversations are easy and can lead to hour long debates about random and inconsequential topics like ‘where can you get the best bread and butter pudding?’

• They are great chauffeurs- growing up in Bombay, even though I was the older sister, was always in need to be picked up and dropped off- and they are always there (sometimes even when I did not need/want the ride :)

• Their crazy antics and banters keeps the atmosphere light and spirits high

On a more serious note…

My brothers are the best! I would not trade them for anything in the world (yes, not even a pot of gold, or a 10 carat diamond. Ok….a 10 carat diamond may sway the deal). They are funny, smart, cool and very very loving.

They never take themselves or me too seriously, but take our relationship very seriously.

And they have always been there for me- whether I voiced the need or not. They have been my support and have enabled me to make tough decisions because I knew that they would be there if I fall.

They never judge, they always praise and they tease me consistently- which keeps me grounded and helps me retain my sanity.

And they make the most wonderful maamas ever! Sanil is a big fan of all 3 of them and takes their word as the gospel.

“Pu maama said it’s the weekend, so I can do whatever I want”

"B said there is no need to do poetry homework because poets don’t make any money"

"Is Kamil maama the best cricketer in the world?”

My brothers make my life complete. And without them, I would be so much less off!

Sweet endings…

I wish no matter where I am in life, and no matter where life takes them, this bond never breaks. They have long ago fulfilled their vow of protection, but still it’s reassuring that every Rakhi this bond is further strengthened.

In a recent post I read about brothers and sisters, the writer very aptly said that “As married adults, the relationship you have with your siblings depends on your spouses. If they will it, your relationship will flourish. If not, it will flounder. As simple as that”. And for my existing relationship with my bros which continues to grow and flourush, I do have my 2 amazing sister-in-laws to thank!

My hope is that Sanil will be as great a brother to his cousin sisters as my brothers are to me.

Will end on another popular Raksha Bandhan song "Phoolon ka taaron ka, sab ka kahna hai... ek hazaaron mein, meri behna hai.". Ok my brothers wud NEVER sing this song for me (primarily becoz none of them can sing), but I know they believe its true ;)

p.s. remember to wear your rakhi for at least one day! Someone will do chugli and I will know if you did not! And yes,I will vasoolofy the kharchi when I see you next!

Thinking of you all a lot today! Lots of love, Seema

Sunday, August 15, 2010

So what was your excuse this Independence Day?

The day has come to an end. Another day in another month in another year to most people all over the globe. But it’s not! This very day 63 years ago, India got Independence from the British Rule after years of struggle. It is a special day. It should be a special day. A day when you remember all the sacrifices made by so many great men and women, thanks to who, you and I live the kind of life we do today.

My guess would be most of urban Indians living in the India ‘metros’ take 15th Aug as another public holiday (and this year they would whinge how it falls on a Sunday and hence they ‘lost’ a holiday). And most people living outside India, well it’s just another day...if it’s a weekday, you get dressed, drop kids to school, go to work, come back home, sleep, the usual humdrum. And if it falls on a weekend like it did today, well then there is no need to get early out of bed is it?

But that’s not true right?

We get up early on weekends for various different reasons:

- Morning run

- Morning sex

- Biking

- Brunch with eggs Benedict and Mimosas

- Or simply because kids don’t let us sleep in

- Etc, etc

So why could you not have got up today and gone to the Indian Embassy in Singapore for flag hoisting?

It started at 9.00 am and lasted less than 10 mins. The flag is hoisted and you sing the National Anthem. If you don’t the words, you just stand still, and sink that amazing patriotic feel in the air. After which you need to stay only if your kids were performing on stage, or if you simply feel like it.

10 minutes. That’s all. And in Singapore travel time cannot exceed more than 20 mins in cab at that time.

So what was your excuse?

- Lazy?
- Boring?
- Lame?
- Not worth getting out of bed for?
- Or worse of all- it’s just not something professional expat Indians do?

In all the years I have lived here, I cannot help but notice that the majority of the audience are young students and people in the diplomatic circles. From all my expat Indian friends, only a handful (think I need only one of my hands to count) attend the flag hoisting.

Why is that so? I simply cannot fathom!

1) Are you ashamed of your country? Then f&**ing give up your nationality! The Indian passport does not come with very many privileges in the first place. Give it up. Don’t bother being an Indian any more.

2) Or are you ashamed of yourself? How can an educated, rich, professional, expat be seen with the riff-raff of students, workers and government babus? What would it do to your reputation amongst your colleagues and friends? Won’t they laugh at you? Poke fun? (I know! It happens to me all the time. But it never fazes me)

3) Or you simply don’t care? The thought just does not cross your mind perhaps? But yet, you never forget to watch the latest SRK blockbuster do you? Or trying out the latest Indian restaurant in Singapore? Then why can’t you remember this day?

4) Or is it just that you don’t think it’s important enough? You feel you love your country and are proud of it, so why do you need to attend a flag hoisting of Independence Day? I think many of you would probably fall in this category. (Though I personally know many people who fall in the category 1 and 2 as well). I would like just to remind you that expression of an emotion is almost as important as an emotion itself. Doesn’t your spouse get angry with you when you don’t tell her enough that you love her? You know and she knows that you do. But she needs and desires that expression. Don’t you express your admiration for children’s smallest successes? Don’t you call long distance to wish your parents on their birthdays and anniversaries? Don’t you leave funny and caring posts on friends Facebook profiles?

Then why can’t you express your love and gratitude to your Motherland? Is attending flag hoisting the only way to do it? Of course not! But is it a symbolic expression of patriotism? Yes it sure is!

 And it will do wonders for your own soul. To be with your fellow countrymen, singing (or humming) Jan-gan-man, seeing the tiranga flying and knowing however far you may be, you always have home to return to- there is not a calmer feeling in the world.

And after those 10 minutes are over, go lead your regular life. (I went for a breakfast at Jones, read Life! and then headed home)

But the feeling of pride in my heart of where India has reached today, makes my heart bigger, my smile wider and my courage stronger. Coz if we survived the colonial rule and started with next to nothing just a generation ago, we can pretty much do anything.

Today India is the largest democracy which has elected a women and a minority Prime Minister (USA has never had a woman President till now, and elected its first minority President only last year). It is slated to be the 3rd largest economy in next 40 years (after USA and China). Is home to the great invention of our times- the cheapest car in the world, Tata Nano. And has given the world visionaries like Narayan Murthy, creative geniuses like Tagore and legends like Gandhi (amongst the trivial though commercially viable Ms. Universes and Ms. Worlds).

As Indians we not only survive the odds, we excel.

So let’s please just give due to the country that makes it all possible.

Jai Hind!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Many Worlds Theory- A Seema Interpretation

Who are we? Why are we here? What is beyond Earth? Are there aliens? Will they invade Earth? Why can’t we invade their planets first? Why are aliens depicted as green? Are there any cute n eligible ones? These are not merely philosophical questions; they are also scientific ones (barring the last one of course- that was just added in so you would stay with me in the post). Even as a child when I debated about such questions or tried to find answers- I reached only one conclusion. “We don’t know”. It’s as simple as that. We don’t know. And by ‘we’ I mean a collective of physicists, scientists, Nobel Prize winners, doctors, inventors, all over the globe. No one knows these answers. For every theory, there are an equal number of ones than refute it, and an equal number that support it.

So what exactly happens outside the galaxy we inhabit? Is there another galaxy far, far away?

I love the quote from the ‘97 science fiction thriller ‘Contact’ (one of Jodie Foster’s best films), where as a young girl she asks her dad “Dad, do you think there are people on other planets?” And he looks up to the sky and replies “I don't know. But I guess I'd say if it is just us... seems like an awful waste of space”.

Exactly. “I don’t know” was his answer. (And yes it would be awful waste of space).

A related theory to this is the Multiple Worlds Theory or the Many Worlds Theory (MWT). As explained by the “dummies” website: “The multiverse is a theory in which our universe is not the only one, but states that many universes exist parallel to each other”.

MWT is an interpretation of quantum physics (a term I love using whenever I can after it was popularized by Flash Forward). It was developed originally by American physicist Hugh Everett in 1957. It was further propagated by other eminent physicists and researchers, but not all physicists really believe in MWT.

So why am writing about MWT? I am so not a sci-fi lover. In fact I detested science even as a subject in school. This is all due to a recent obsession of mine called “Flash Forward”. It’s one of the best shows on TV in recent times. And am still devastated that Season 2 was cancelled. (Why o why? Is it not enough for ABC that I am a true lover and an ardent fan?? Yes, yes I know. ABC will not spend millions of dollars to air a show just because I love it so much- though am sure there are many others like who would have been very disappointed too).

Okie. So back to Flash Forward. The show in a nutshell- there was a global blackout- every human on the planet lost consciousness for 2 mins and 17 seconds. And they all saw their future 6 months hence. A married woman who loves her husband and has a happy marriage sees herself sleeping with another man. A young America doctor living in San Francisco sees himself in love with a Japanese girl living in Kyoto. And she sees the exact same thing too. My darling Agent Noh (John Cho) sees nothing- leading to believe that he won’t have a future 6 months hence, i.e. he dies.

So what now?
• If we have seen the future, can we change it?
• Can we avoid it?
• Can it change us?
• Is our fate determined by the Almighty?
• Or do we as humans have the power to mould our future and change our ending?
• Do we have a choice?
• If not and if our destiny is decided, then why the charade of choice?

The show grapples with many such questions (amongst solving the mystery on how and why the Flash Forwards occurred, criminal intents, love triangles and many other interesting sub plots). But it does raise very valid questions. 2 specific ones actually:

1) Is our fate is sealed? Whatever decision we take or choices we make, will ultimately lead us to that fate. But the paths we take, the experiences we experience, the relationships we grow, will all be different depending on our choices. But our fate is pre-decided.


2) Destiny is in our hands. Our choices will lead us to a destiny- which is not specified by anyone. Depending on our choices, our destiny will change.

So is life like a Hindi love story where the end is decided (boy-girl live happily ever after)? But the story line and plot is different for every story (think a Yash Chopra film vs. an Anurag Kashyap one).

Or is life like a blank canvas and every human being can paint it with the colors of his choice? And thus making the end product completely dependent on the taste, skill and imagination of the painter i.e. the human being himself. Meaning there is no pre-decided ending.

I will say it again “We don’t know”. But what did hit me was a mention on MWT in Flash Forward. Where Simcoe tells Olivia (Olivia is the married woman who saw herself sleeping with another man- Simcoe- in her flash forward, who she had never met before that day). He explains to her that all our choices are actually being played out in a parallel universe somewhere. So a part of “me” is living out my other choice in a universe somewhere. But I can never meet my “other me” so I don’t know how her life is and she does not know mine.

At every major fork in the roads of our lives we usually have 2 big choices e.g. you are 21 and graduating from college. You have 2 big choices-pursuing your education further or taking up a job. In this life, here on Earth, you have gone to college. BUT the road forked, and your “other me” went to work. She had different experiences from you. Her life is playing out in a Universe somewhere while you are living your life here on Earth. You both probably think “what if” many times- she thinks “what if I had gone studied further?” And you think “what if I would have gone to work”.

This is just a simple example of two probable decisions at one point of time. But many times the number of decisions is not restricted to two. And after that one decision is made, there are so many other choices that follow e.g. you have decided to study further, but what do you major in? Which country do you study in? How long do you study for? All these roads come with their own forks.

These parallel universes* apparently take place in the same space and time as our own universe, but you still have no way to access them. Every moment of your life, every decision you make, is causing a split of your “now self" into an infinite number of "future selves", all of which are unaware of each other.
* A simple portrayal of MWT was in the 1999 Gwyneth Paltrow starrer ‘Sliding Doors’

I like the MWT Theory. Its existence simply means that no decision of mine is wrong. Because if it is, then the right decision is being played out in the parallel universal. And somewhere my other me is living the life I think is perfect- loving husband who is an architect, 2 kids- Sanil and a baby girl, nice house, decent career, enough money and a walk-in-closet with many many clothes. And while I reciting my fantasies, I would like to add that my other me is a size 3, has long hair with gorgeous curls, a flat tummy and thin waist line, a pretty face and yes a metabolism that allows her to gorge on chocolate cake with no impact on that thin waist line.

But then again...who is to say that my other me got the right end of the stick? She could be the one living out the wrong decision.

The parallel universe need not be the desirable one after all!

So I take solace in the fact that if I have not got something I long for, my other me is enjoying it- right now, in the parallel universe. And any pain that I have to go through is me shielding her from that pain.

So as long as my other me is happy, I will always be happy too ;)