Monthly Archives: November 2011

That’s Why Kolaveri Da!

A reader sent in a link to this YouTube clip that replies to this month’s net-rage. ‘Why this Kolaveri da‘ features a bespectacled girl accompanying herself on the guitar and singing a response to the song. It’s not as catchy as the original Kolaveri Di but it deserves a watch. I especially love-u the way the girl’s eyes go at 1:16 and at 1:40 in the video. Enjoy-u!

Here are the lyrics in the video: Why This Kolaveri Da (Reply cover-Female version)

Why this kolaveri, kolaveri da
Why this kolaveri, kolaveri da
Why this kolaveri, kolaveri da
Why this kolaveri…. ada

Once we’re married, hell is life-u
Life total out-u
Out-u out-u you say out-u
We stand here hurt-u

Why this kolaveri, kolaveri da
Why this kolaveri, kolaveri da

Dawn come-u we go work-u
U sit there smoke-u
Money come-u you take spend-u
How do I feed the kids-u

You say love-u love-u o my love-u

I showed you bou-u…
but love-u love-u
Here’s cow-u
It gives back more than you-u

Now you tell me who is right-u
Are you happy now-u

Why this kolaveri, kolaveri da

Ideamarked Nov2011: Window Gardens, Bookstores, PS3 & Kolaveri Di

I’ve always loved November. Diwali festivities, vacations to look forward to…as I’ve gotten older, I find the end of the year packing up. The weather is crisper, even in hot & humid Mumbai. Everyone starts to let their hair down and spends more time thinking about parties, picnics & get-togethers than work. The world takes a break next month & November is all about the planning and anticipation of just that.

It’s been a packed and enjoyable November for me. I attended the NH7 festival in Pune, in its second year. A story on women bloggers featured me in a prominent way. For the few of you who remember my long-winded adventure with NovelRace, I finally managed to complete it! Whether this ever comes out or not, I can now die happy knowing that I did write a full novel. 🙂

On that cheery note, here’s this month’s links. As you can see, there was a lot of link-love going around too!

  • DewarsIndia’s channel features music travelogues across India. (on Youtube, link courtesy Sangita Bhargavi)
  • Simi’s new show: India’s most botoxed, banal & brainless‘: Of course, I agree. (via FirstPost, link courtesy Lakshmi Shesadri)
  • MasterChef India: Guaranteed to cure you of any desire to cook‘: Sadly, I’m having to agree. MasterChef India has a long way to go before it can be in the same league as MasterChef Australia. (via FirstPost)
  • Window gardening for the urban-dweller longing for a touch of green – ‘Growing Organic Fruits & Vegetables at Home‘ (via Earthoholics, link courtesy Vishal Gadkari)
  • ‘Worklish’ is a way to cover up how much one doesn’t know. They why is it that we who don’t speak it, are left out in the cold?: ‘Buzzwords at office driving you crazy? 6 ways to cope‘ (via Huffington Post)
  • If your interest in astrology, tarot, dream interpretation & the predictive arts extends beyond mere curiosity, you should definitely visit Magick. The store  is currently looking for fulltime apprentices to initiate into the Wicca tradition. (via Swati Prakash)
  • If you ever wondered why the people you follow, don’t follow you back, here are some possible answers: ‘The Top 10 Reasons I Will Not Follow You On Twitter‘ (via Mashable)
  • Reviews, recipes and workshops, you have to stop by Tulleeho if you have a love of the drink.
  • India as the Indians see it – non PC humour (on Facebook, link courtesy Shweta Madan)
  • ‘5 Tips To Help You Decide How Much Of You Should Show Up On The Blog‘ (via SharingWithWriters)
  • Hail the motherland of idlis, software dreams & kitschy Kollywood songs! This month’s music craze – Kolaveri Di (via Youtube)
  • A 5-yr old post that’ll still interest Mumbai’s booklovers: ‘A Bibliophile’s Guide To Mumbai‘ (via The Idea-smithy)
  • A lovely gift from blogger to blogger – ‘It’s Not Just A Car‘ 55 word story by Manuscrypts!
  • Kitab Khana, a bookstore recommendation courtesy Anuradha Shankar.
  • A little thought on liking and love (via Slices of Time, link courtesy Rehab Chougle)
  • MICHEAL: PS3 Long Live Play‘: A fun advertisement for gamers (via Youtube, link courtesy Ashwini Mishra)

* Catch these links as they happen on The Idea-smithy Facebook Page. You can also post an interesting link of your own to the page and get featured on the Ideamarked post at the end of the month!

What Does Pop Culture Have Against Bloggers?

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories logo. C...

Image via Wikipedia

The boy tells me that a Grand Theft Auto (GTA) mission that he just completed, is called ‘Blogger This…!‘. In the game, a blogger has raised the shackles of a nightclub owner because of his negative posts about the club, after being denied entry into it. So the mission involves hunting & beating this blogger down to pulp. I know GTA isn’t exactly a posterchild for politically-correct or even rational messages. But I can’t help but wonder what pop culture has against bloggers.

One of the Castle episodes involved interrogating a blogger as witness in a case. The blogger was depicted as an overweight, socially inept woman. When asked if she had an alibi, she mentioned a couple of names.

“Roommates?”

“My parents!”

she replied, surprised that it wasn’t obvious. Even as far as offensive stereotypes go, that seems closer to software geek than blogger. When did these two become the same thing? Or is anyone who spends time behind a computer, to be perceived as socially inept, laughable, unattractive and a nerd?

Cover of Last week, I was watching ‘State of Play. This crime drama pushes through on the chemistry between a senior journalist and his blogger counterpart, both employees of a reputed publication. The blogger is a young woman, depicted as willful & intelligent but also brash and superficial in her work. That sounds to me like an echo of what a lot of journalists say about bloggers. The funny thing is, my experiences with traditional media, especially print journalists has thrown up negligence, stupidity, shallow to no research and an uppity attitude to boot. Yet, the blogger is the one taking the flak and indeed the audience derision in Hollywood’s depiction.

At an immediate level, I’m usually offended by such narrow, prejudiced messages. But beyond that, I am inclined to think that these are but fearful, defensive responses of a traditional, control-hierarchy mindset. It’s just sad to see it revealed in the promoters of pop culture, who are responsible for shaping a lot of attitudes. Blogging and bloggers are here to stay whether traditional media likes it or not. What’s more, it’s not even an us-versus-them situation. Anybody who is online, can be a blogger. To condemn that is like a prisoner sneering at those who walk free and are holding out a key to him as well. Funny, indeed.

Phantom Cigarettes

I have an addiction.

It’s not a new one. Rather, I’ve lapsed, after many, many years.

* Also served at Plain Salted.

A Blogger Deserves Respect

I am a personal blogger, not a performing monkey.

It seems obvious to me but it appears that I have to clarify this to certain people. Just because I share snippets of my life online, does not give you the right to sit in judgement on me. I create & share things that I write. It is a privilege to be read, certainly. But I think, it is also a privilege to read. I respect my readers and I think I deserve that respect back.

Why do some people think its okay to say anything to you because this is an open blog? It may be an open blog but it’s my blog and it’s open because I keep it that way. I have every right to shut out spammers, trolls or detractors if I so choose.

I’m spelling it out just to be clear. My blog is my online home and I welcome you to it. Don’t take advantage of my hospitality or I’ll have no recourse but to throw you out.

OverPunjification Of Pop Media Is Why My Kolaveri, Di!

A kitschy Tanglish song has caught everyone’s fancy today. Kolaveri di has practically no Tamil words except those (translated to ‘desire to murder’). Everything else is English words in that characteristic Southern accent. The song isn’t any funnier or catchier than dozens of such that Kollywood and their bretheren have been spewing out in the past few years. Remember ‘Columbus, Columbus, vittachu leave’ from Jeans? Or ‘Mustafa, Mustafa, don’t worry Mustafa‘ from Kadhal Desam? And the iconic dance-atop-bus led by Prabhu Deva to Urvasi, Urvasi, take it easy Urvasi. Why then is this song gaining meme status? Why this kolaveri, indeed?

Bollywood has been the absolute last word on Indian pop culture for the past few years at least, and woefully inadequate in providing catchy references. I don’t see any reason a movie like Dabangg achieved such cult status, other than that the audience was fed to teeth with uber-urban metrosexual stories & 3-hr commercials for star kids & their brand affiliations. A good ol’ masala potboiler with a liberal dose of ‘leave your brains at home’ had to get lapped up by the masses starved of entertainment.

Dhanush at a function in chennai

In parallel, I think there’s also been an over-Punjification of popular media. Before hitting me with a barrage of protests (and abe teri to, paneer tikkasand open letters), consider this. Punjab is just one state in a diverse country. Its language and cultural references, only a certain proportion of a heterogeneous billion. Personally, I am a little sick of references to Kapoors, Khannas and Singhanias who celebrate karva chauth, whoop Balle balle or Chak de and dance the bhangda at every festive occasion. Bollywood is admittedly run by Punjabi film-makers but I think they’ve been very narrow in their creation, considering they represent the voice of an entire nation in pop culture.

For me, Singham stood out simply because it was refreshing to hear ‘Aai shapath‘ and ‘Saatakle majha‘. Similarly Kolaveri di tickles my fancy simply because it has a guy whose name can’t possibly be Vicky Malhotra and who references something other than khanakte chudi, parandas, goris and mahis.

And here’s the song now for your listening pleasure:

Quoted In Sunday Mid-Day Story – ‘Why Men Won’t Let Women Speak’

Yesterday’s Sunday Mid-Day (20 November 2011) carried a story titled ‘Why Men Won’t Let Women Speak‘ by Soumya Rajaram. It was a 2-page feature on the phenomenon of women being unfairly (and harshly) targetted online for verbal assaults. The Twitter tag #Mencallmethings was referenced as was #LadiesWeWantAnswers issue (which I’d blogged about here).

I was quoted and the other recognizable names in the story were Kiran Manral, Harini Calamur, Janaki Ghatpande and The Mad Momma.

Here’s an excerpt of what I said,

“Women are at risk in the real world too, and yet we manage to travel,work and live reasonably safe lives. There are laws to protect us and there is a social structure in place; it tells you what’s permissible and what’s not. Whatever safety and freedom we enjoy, comes because we all recognise this structure. I’m hoping that the Internet will follow the same principle. This will be hastened if there are tangible measures attached to curb online harassment.”

Read the full article on the Mid-Day site. Here’s the epaper clipping:

Update: The best friend brought it to my notice that a preview of this article appeared in the Saturday Mid-day edition on 19 November 2011, with my picture in it. This appears to have been an even bigger story than I first thought.

The Bag Lady

Bags are to me, what shoes are to the characters of Sex And The City. Never mind, shoes, make-up or even clothes. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of having a beautiful, comfortable, roomy bag to dump all my stuff. I’m a regular packrat and on a good day, I can pull out water bottle, mirror, hairbrush, hand sanitizer, face towel, book, notepad or pen from my bag, in addition to the mandatory stuff.

Bags have become more and more of a style statement in the past few years. But I find a lot of people I know who are not fashionastas/ are regular people with regular incomes & lifestyles don’t know the ‘with it’ lingo. So here’s a list of popular bag styles:

  • Hobo: This is probably the most common handbag design available. It’s a a medium to large sized bag, usually shapeless and with a handle long enough to hang the bag from your shoulder. My only problem with this design is that it puts all the weight and size on one shoulder, which is a problem while travelling in crowded places. But otherwise, it is a versatile design and allows for a lot of storage, along with the safety of having the bag under your arm.
  • Tote: This is a design I really don’t like but appears to be gaining a lot of popularity. A tote is just like a hobo but has shorter handles. Hence it can only be hung off the elbow, which means one arm has to be crooked at all times. Also, if you’re used to carrying around a lot of stuff, this can be really painful on the elbow. Some women just hold the handles in their hand. This works only if the bag is really small, else it trails on the floor. And even if it is small, you run the risk of being easy prey for bagsnatchers.
  • Backpack: Remember the felt/cotton/plastic bags that we strapped to our shoulders every morning, before school? Backpacks have evolved to a literal state of ‘too cool for school’. The advent of portable laptops and their cases brought these back into style. It’s not uncommon to see a corporate professional tote a sleek backpack now, instead of the more impractical briefcase. Women aren’t sporting as many of these as I’d like to see. Still, women’s backpacks were all the rage around a decade ago. I remember carrying a newsprint patterned mini-backpack to college and I was very proud of it. It would be good to see more patterns, prints and accessories for this wonderful design.
  • Clutch: As the name suggests, this is a bag that you clutch in your hand. This is the most impractical bag design of all and screams ‘High Maintenance’ louder than any feminine accessory can. You can’t store much in it, you’ve lost the use of one hand to it and most women look awkward carrying it. Still, if you don’t mind Princess style, this really is the finishing touch to a great evening outfit. I have a selection of these. Some are bright neon coloured ones in plastic and they come with a chain, which I do use when I’m travelling. There is the basic black that’s a must-have for any woman.
  • Fanny pack: This is a bag that goes around your waist. For some reason, these have come to be associated with tourists only. Again, like the backpack, I think this is a much-neglected design. There’s no reason on earth that a fanny pack or belt purse should be bulky, unwieldy or ugly.  Here are a few glamorous ways in which they can be worn. I’ve been looking for a good piece myself but can’t seem to find one in Mumbai. Maybe the only alternative is to make one (and here’s one of my experiments)
  • Slingbag/ Jhola: The word ‘jhola’ may conjure up visions of 70’s bohemia, impoverished artists, straggly bears, cigarettes and intellectual conversations. It is just a bag with a really long handle which makes it hang down below your waist. Slingbags are really comfortable if you’re going to need to keep taking things out or putting them into your bag, which is probably why they’re popular with students. At that level, it’s reasonably safe to keep the bag zipper (if it has one) open, without worrying about things falling out. The only problem with this design is that it is usually single compartment which means things mix up in a jumble inside it. Don’t carry string, long scarves or anything else that could unravel and wind itself around everything else. I like wearing mine across rather than down one shoulder since it keeps the bag from swinging out and bumping into things. Also, the diagonal line that it adds to the visual, is quite unique.
  • Pocketbook: This is only slightly different from a clutch, because of its size and shape. Pocketbooks are sort of extended wallets for women, usually rectangular in shape and have multiple compartments & pockets. A pocketbook can store your money, cards, keys and even mobile phone in some designs! Most women carry pocketbooks inside their bigger handbags. But a pocketbook is a little like lingerie for bags. It’s not always appropriate to be seen on its own but if its really pretty, you could take a chance on it.

I think my love affair with bags as a style accessory really began with Esbeda. Imagine a shop that sold only bags (and not the suitcase/aunty handbag or all leather goods variety)! My pick was a dusty pink suede soft handbag with a folding flap and brown leather lining. I loved it to distraction and carried it to work, parties and nights out. It wore out in a year but it took me right into bag land.

I’ve owned many other Esbeda bags over the years and even a pocketbook or two. The designs have gotten glitzier, blingier and pricier. Sadly, the quality seems to have dropped. Where I could run a soft, suede handbag for over a year of rough use, now even a faux-leather pocketbook, which sees minimum use frays or chips off in a matter of months. My pre-winter cleaning sees me discarding the last Esbeda pieces I bought (a pocketbook and a handbag) and it looks like they’ll be the last ones I’ll ever own by this brand.

Rhysetta piqued my interest two years back and I came home with this brilliant lime-green tote. It’s fair to say that it’s been a decent bag, looked great and carried a lot of stuff, including my Netbook. Still, it’s started fraying in that Esbeda-esque way and I’m not at all happy. It’s too expensive to replace every year or so.

The brand I’m really happy about, currently, is Baggit. This red tote/shoulder bag was an impulse buy, given its startling colour. I’ve never had a reason to regret it. Wash after wash, it turns up looking as good as new. I’ve used it across seasons and occasions. It is actually older than the above mentioned Rhysetta but is still going strong.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind while bag shopping:

  • Be realistic about the size you need. If you’re someone who likes carrying a lot of stuff, don’t force yourself to fit into a smaller size, just because it’s ‘in’. An overstuffed bag is a bigger faux pas than a non-trendy design.
  • Don’t compromise on quality. Look for sturdy materials, good stitching, firm clasps and strong handles. Shoes can be patched up, even a dress tear can be sewn up in an emergency. But a bag breakdown is disastrous since its private contents could suddenly be exposed, their safety may be compromised and result in a lot of stress.
  • These are special focus areas to check in a bag:
  • The base: Ensure that it’s not just cardboard at the bottom or the slightest hint of humidity and your bag will fold.
  • The handles: Check their entire length for stitch runs, tears or weak points. Most importantly test the places where they’re attached to the bag as these are the weakest points.
  • The sides of the bag: Often the front and the base of a bag are strong while the sides are just soft leather/cheap material. If you get a cut or tear in these, things could just as easily fall out.
  • The zipper: Check it works a couple of times. At point of sale, the zipper should slide smoothly. Zippers do not get ‘tight’ over time so don’t let a salesman palm you off with one such.

If you enjoy looking good and if you take pride in your appearance, ladies, please don’t neglect this vital part of your attire.

* Cross-posted to Divadom.

Fairy Tales-Love, Hate & Hubris: Mixed Bag Of Twists On Old Tales

I was skeptical when I received a copy of Fairy Tales: Love, Hate & Hubris for review. I’m not big on poetry and know practically nothing about the structures, the formal construction and appreciation of poetry. But the book is a retelling or an alternate look at some popular fairytales. How could my love of stories (especially ones I grew up with) let that pass?

Fairy Tales: Love, Hate & Hubris is a collection of 16 poems. Each poem tries to approach the age-old story from a different angle. In most cases, this is through the eyes of another character (usually the antagonist). This itself is an ambitious undertaking. The first thing that struck me was, that a story is usually told from the perspective of one character. Simply relating the events through another character’s eyes can considerably shift the story experience. There is additional dimension added to the story itself, the extra detail in characters that may have hitherto been ignored and grey shades added to the insofar pristine main character. Any fiction-writer will tell you that doing voices, is a really tricky thing.You don’t always get it right. Neither does this book. It works in some cases and in others, it struggles.

Manoj Kewalramani, the author, does have a flair for dramatic endings with punchy lines. This ends most of the poems, even the not-so-good ones on a sweet note. This knack for smart lines & pretty thoughts also shows up in the middle of several poems. I quote,

“Threads, combs and fruits
I confess to such evil recruits”

Pacing on the other hand, feel a bit inconsistent with some of the poems laboring on while others smoothly carry you over pages, effortlessly. There are places where the words feel awkward, like they’ve been force-fitted in order to rhyme properly. And then there are poems that are absolute delights to read, for their easy pace and for their fun narrative.

My absolute favorite was ‘The narcissistic wolf‘. It had a strong voice; the character of the wolf really came alive. No liberties were taken with the familiar Red Riding Hood storyline but detailing the wolf’s words really added a new dimension to the story.

My second favorite was ‘The beauty of sleep‘. This one didn’t pick another character but extended the story after ‘happily ever after’. Briar Rose as a bored housewife? Now that would intrigue anybody.

The remaining all fall into a mixed responses category, all ambitious but falling just short bit here or lagging a tad there. Still, none of them miss the mark so badly as to be unreadable. At 80 pages, Fairy Tales: Love, Hate and Hubris is an easy read and a reasonably pleasant one at that.

Fairy Tales: Love, Hate and Hubris was written by Manoj Kewalramani, published by Leadstart Publishing and is available for Rs.145 or $12. It also retails on Flipkart for Rs.138. The book is also on Facebook. Manoj is on Twitter.

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