Friday, August 07, 2015

First Dates and Last Names

Cross-posted from

I went on my first date when I was sixteen. He was ‘older’. I think, twenty. And we met at a pub where I was dancing, in true 90s style, with another girl. He knew her, thought I was ‘cute’ and asked for that sustenance of every prowling boy-an ‘intro’.
It’s not like he wasn’t cute. Whatever I could see of him in the strobe lights seemed A-OK and 90s-approved. You know, earring in one ear, baseball cap pulled down low, even though it was pitch dark in the disco and around 8 pm at night, loose jeans and some shiny-looking chain thing hanging from his pocket. Plus, I was so thrilled that someone even noticed me for my looks. Even better, wanted me just for them, that honestly I would have stood on the road and washed down passing cars with my t-shirt if he had asked.
He had a strange name. It’s one thing to be an “xyz-walla” in India. It’s totally another to be an “xyzs-wallah.” Let’s take umbrellas for instance. So, umbrella-walla sounds vaguely familiar and grammatically sound. Umbrellas-walla on the other hand sounds completely patronizing and as if you think everyone around you is an idiot. I mean, if you’re selling umbrellas, isn’t it understood that you have many of them? If you feel the need to spell out the fact that you have more than one, you’re just being a self-important shit with a massive superiority complex.
The first date I went out on, was with a guy who was a plural-walla.
The worst part is, it gets more convoluted when it’s in Hindi. Because that adds two whole syllables. So, technically, Batliwalla, would become Batliyanwalla. And then you’re just dating someone with a ridiculous name. So, when you’re sixteen and you’re dying to tell everyone about this cute boy who asked you out, and the conversation moves from where-did-he-take-you-did-he-have-a-hot-bike-is-he-rich-does-he-kiss-nicely to “what’s his name?” you just clear your throat and mumble…er…Gopal. Because really, you’d rather be dating a Gopal than a guy whose name could wrap around your waist three times and have extra left over to tie your keys with.
So Let’s-Call-Him-Gopal took my number-landline in those sepia-tinted days and departed with a chit of paper with my digits on it and strict instructions to use The Code when he called so I’d know it was him and my mother didn’t pick up, screaming down the phone at the errant sabzi-walla/driver/telephone operator who always seemed to be calling our home. The Code was simple. Two missed calls and then a proper call. So; trrrp (HANG UP), trrrp (HANG UP) and then tring, tring, tring till I picked up. Of course, there was also a warning to hang up if the voice sounded particularly threatening (mother) or particularly seductive (sister). How he was to figure that out, I never told him since we all sounded like versions of each other.
The Code worked, and we spoke, making a plan to watch the newly released Lion King together at Sterling Cinema in Bombay. He was to pick me up at a point close to the cinema, and I went dressed in the fashion of the time-black leather cap, shoulder-duster earrings, black Tantra T-shirt and blue jeans. He said I looked “cute”. I couldn’t be happier if he whipped out a ring right there and told me he could no longer live if he couldn’t look at me every day. So, we bid goodbye to the friend who had given us the “intro”, and had agreed to wait with me and do the handover. She was also supposed to invent a dead parent and whisk me away if he turned out to have orange teeth or something in the daylight. Fortunately Gopal’s only failing so far was his last name, and we carried on to take our appropriately chosen seats for Date Number One-not in the corner, and the most expensive available-The Dress Circle. Then, settled down to watch what is the most syrupy, sentimental version of a Bollywood movie Disney ever made.
Before we knew it, it was the interval and suddenly I was faced with Gopal. And his equally panicked face. It was time for that dreaded first date monster. CONVERSATION. And we had NOTHING to say to each other. Everyone knows that a girl NEVER eats on the first date so popcorn, ice-cream and soggy potato wafers were all non-options. In lieu of this, we had to at least ask each other what we did in order to fill the silence. There wasn’t much. I was in Junior College trying hard to be popular. Hence hoping this date would actually go somewhere. He worked in his father’s Walla business. And didn’t go to college because he had the whole Walla to inherit. This took two minutes. The remaining painful thirteen were spent watching the ads and the Coming Soon trailers lest each of us admit that we had absolutely nothing in common.
Except the 90s. And our raging hor

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Crossed posted from The Daily O


Have you ever had trouble meeting people? Have you ever wondered how to approach them? Do you struggle with conversations starters? Hold the phone. Do not dial the nearest communication skills class. Just put on five or six kgs. Actually about 20 ought to do it.
Nothing draws complete strangers to you like a little extra weight does. Chubby cheeks or a butt with a personality is like sugar to ant to the nearest aunty. Who just happens to have a miracle bhopla juice recipe on hand, designed to melt all your fat and drain it out in your pee. Because, obviously anyone fat, must be dying to lose weight. Specially if she's a woman.
This, because there's so much danger a fat woman can get into. She can "NOT HAVE BABIES." She can "FEEL DIPRES". She can HAVE NO FRIENDS. In fact, according to most people, being fat is the equivalent of shaving your head and having a penis tattooed on one side and an STD disclaimer on the other. Or owning two pet cobras who you regularly take for walks on matching pink leashes.
Take for example a regular, harmless visit to the supermarket. You pile your cart with the usual sabji-chawal-heart-healthy-oil-weekend-Maggi-noodle-Harpic combination. But as your hand reaches for the buy-one-get-one-ice-cream party pack, you sense a movement from the diaper aisle. You look up and see an old woman shaking a quavering finger, moving her head from side to side in an ominous "no."
"Just trying to help," she explains in the check-out line, "such a young pretty girl like you…" I like to call this the "With Love from Grandma" Approach.
Then there is the "But I Got My Medical Degree in Two Weeks" approach. "Any problem?" they will ask solicitously, "Just looking at you…" (accompanied by a suspicious two handed gesture that roams over your entire aura) "I feel like… like… it's glandular! Must take tests my girl!"
There's also the "Nudge-Nudge-Wink-Wink" (NNWW) Approach. "More of you to love eh?" they will say, jocularity and humour brimming over as they bump hips or even stomachs with you. "Yes! Yes!" you're compelled to say by that glint in their eyes that is longing for you to GET THE JOKE. And then you have to laugh uproariously and wink-wink back, while secretly thinking: what does that make a tall person? Or a skinny one? Or God-forbid, a dark one? Is there a special way to love them?
My personal favourite is the "Nostradamus" Approach. You know the kind. You may have met them during a pregnancy, a job interview or during an attempt to cook a meal. "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!" they will shriek. "DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING?!" they will slump back, shaking their head in despairing acknowledgement of this hopeless world we live it. "You will find it very hard. Very hard."
And then, just to prove how nice they are, after telling you in different ways that the way you look is unacceptable to them, they will follow it up with the Logical Apology, "Don't feel bad. I'm simply saying."
Simply saying. I immediately forgive them. Because they are merely exercising their right to say what they feel. Nothing personal.
Or, the Taking One for the Team Apology, "See, if I don't tell you, nobody will."
Or, the Nostradamus Apology, "When you become slim, you will be soooooo beautiful."
And then, they will grow wings and float away on a cloud of shimmering fairy-dust, in silky white nighties and stars coming out of their beatifically smiling mouths. SAVING A FAT WOMAN. If you manage one a day, you can skip pooja, meditation and feeding the poor.
mentSo, here's my advice. Stock up on the sugar and the junk food. Ditch your gym routine, and get to the shape everyone loves to talk to. And watch your social life soar.

Original post here 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Love Yourself. And the Sanity Will Melt Off You Like Butter

Written for the Daily O

The new fat woman gyan is, "You have to love yourself. The weight will just drop off you like butter." As confusing, contradictory and downright mental this advice sounds, it's the most common cheerleader chant you will hear when the race is a lung-crushing waddle-wobble towards size zero, or at least size one-less zero and the champion is the woman who didn't eat an entire cheesecake at one sitting.
Telling a fat woman she has to love herself is like telling people that Jesus was a nice man. Yes. Agreed. OK. Yes. ENOUGH ALREADY, you're not letting me listen to the sound of my jaws making like Godzilla on this cookie making like a high-rise apartment building in NYC! Learning to love myself. If only they had a class on that in school.
It would sure beat muhavare with Mrs. Mathur any day. But, like every other fat woman, I know for a fact, that once I lose weight, every single problem in my life will suddenly get solved. Being thin, will undo all the wrongs. Like the time my script didn't get selected. (If I was hot, my client would like my film.) Or the time my kid didn't get in to the school I had my heart set on. (If I was hot, they would totally choose me child.) 
+So hey! If loving myself is all it takes, I can totally do that. I start by saying "I love you" to myself in the mirror but get distracted by the enlarged pores on my face. They're so huge, I mull, that they can be seen from Google Earth. So then I decide to be kind to myself. But that seems to demand that I serve myself huge helpings of dessert.
Finally, I realize, in a brain wave that destroys five cities, splashes Pluto and then comes and settles in a dripping mass on my head, I SHOULD MAKE A LIST.
 1. I love myself because I'm so fat that if a snake bites me, I will be able to survive longer than if I was thin.
The End.
I write letters to myself but stop believing them when the urge to write fiction takes over and I have myself jumping from building to building in a bikini. I practice The Secret and stick up huge cutouts of my face on J. Lo's body but have to take them down when the maid begins to give me a wide berth.
I ask my friends to put down nice things about me but then, they're my friends, they always say nice things about me. Loving myself leads to a five kilo weight gain and a nasty lipstick mark on my mirror than smudges but can't be removed. Finally it hits me! I need to hate myself. Step one....

Monday, February 06, 2012

Here I am

Please read my new blog: covering communications, Branding and Careers.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Currently Making a Comeback

Please bare with me. 
(yes, bare) 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


When I started blogging in September 2006, I figured that it didn't make sense to write anonymously. What was the point of putting effort into something, trying not to be self-indulgent and to stay entertaining, if people wouldn't be able to put a name to the words, a face to the name?
I began to look around self-consciously at airports-maybe someone would come up to me breathlessly, throw their arms around me and tell me they thought I was fabulous. Maybe some wide-eyed novice would sit sweatily next to me asking for advice. Maybe, people would know me.
It never happened.
But as the blog grew and I got more and more graphic, the people I wrote about began to wonder if they would be stopped by strangers asking, "Hey, are you the bloke who's daughter showed her tit to the taxi driver?"
"Are you the guy who's wife says boob every three words?"
It would only be a matter of time before my son would be asked "Aren't you the guy who's poop is named after all the Indian politicians?" Was that your mom I saw the other day brandishing her boob at a dirty old man while she tried to feed you with her umbrella?"
The more graphic and irreverent I get with age, empowerment and not giving a damn what anyone thinks of me, the more I hurt the people I write about. 
And I don't know how not to write about the realities of my life. Not because I'm different, but because that's the way I've always seen what happened to me and around me. 
So it's kinder to the people who loved me, been there for me and paid for my cigarettes to shoot my mouth off but keep it off the great www where anyone can google pork-eating funny man and come up with my father's name.  
I've often thought of blogging anonymously but starting all over again seems too hard to do and I wouldn't want to publish my writing and not put my name to it. But off course I love blogging and maybe someday I will. In the meantime, it's still such a wondrous thing that there are such large hearts, such kind souls in a space  that I was told was only full of people tried to get laid by ten year old girls. It's so beautiful that such talented writers share their skilled words and their special lives with strangers for free. It is indeed, a wonderful world and like some fairy-tales, some virtual spheres can also come true. 
I am humbled. 
Thank you.