Monday, September 24, 2007

'Not Cricket'? Is too!

I remember a time when cricket meant watching 22 white-flannel-clad men do nothing much for hours on end. You could wander away during a match, take a good long walk around the neighbourhood, and come back a day later to find that somebody had made two more runs. It was an age of leisure and the teams believed it too, standing around on the field, adjusting their cod-pieces and occasionally, very occasionally tapping the ball so it calmly rolled about ten feet away. On good day, there even used to be some running.

Now I wasn't much of a sportsperson even back then but I had a feeling that if something is called a ‘sport’ there definitely ought to be more activity happening than in say, Embroidery 1.1 – Lazy-Daisies Made Easy.

So you can understand, perhaps, why I – fresh from a country where football was the dominant religion – didn’t quite get it. Where was the excitement? Whither the adrenalin? Why was nobody screaming at the television screen? The most excited I ever saw people get while watching test matches, was when someone in the Indian team bowled a wicked yorker - there would be genteel applause and murmurs of ‘good ball, good ball’. I’d seen more excitement on my granny’s morning walks.

So for quite a long time, cricket did nothing for me and since the male-female ratio in my household was roughly 1: 50, no-one really cared.

Then, about two weeks ago, a sports-crazy BIL visited. He, of course wanted to watch the match and by dint of living in a 1 bhk, I was forced to watch it along with him. Only this time, after the first over, I was hooked. For the first time in my life cricket was interesting and more than that, it actually made sense. People were running around, that cork ball was hit to within an inch of its life and it rained sixes and fours. This? This was edge-of-your-seat stuff! Bite-your-nails, pray-to-gods-never-believed-in stuff!

Cricket purists complain that 20 / 20 matches are pale, watered-down versions of the game. “It’s ‘not cricket’!” they collectively moan.

Me? I’m going to fetch a chilled beer, a bucket of popcorn and cheer till my throat gives out.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Shoot Ban the Messenger.

With reference to the Karnataka state government’s ban on mobile phone usage by children under 16, Vani Surendra, headmistress of Jnana Mitra School says “It is good. Nowadays many students are losing interest in studies as they are busy using the mobile.”

Now I’m not in favour of having classes disrupted by shrill ring-tones – it is very annoying, especially when you’re trying to sleep - but I can’t help feeling that this poor, delusional headmistress has completely missed the point. Blaming mobile phones for students’ lack of interest in their studies*, is as daft as blaming them for the increase in under-age sexual activity.

I blame the decadent west! Corrupting our good Indian values like that. Tsk!

*And of course, the hideously outdated curricula with teachers to match, have nothing to do with it at all.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

In the Middle of the Night

It’s been a week of crazy dreams and two, TWO of them have involved me being preggers (and I’m not). The first one was where Bipasha (yes, Basu) and I are in the maternity ward of a seedy little hospital in Hyderabad. She’s slim as ever, yet mysteriously having contractions, and I am one-month-pregnant (though how I know that is a bit of mystery. I mean you hardly ever hear women saying they’re one-month-pregnant, do you? It’s almost as if they go from zero to three overnight). The two cots next to mine are occupied by women who look like they could pop any minute and one of them has an outie that looks exactly like a miniature wiener (ugh! creepy). The one next to her has a five-month-old baby playing at her feet and I’m wondering if she got down to action the moment that kid popped out (I did the maths later – when I woke up that is - and no, it’s not possible. The baby is obviously someone else’s). All of us have identical bright orange felt-sheets to cover us.

So yes, Bips’ friend walks into the room all breathless, slim, flat-stomached, bonsai-assed and she’s all, “My friend! She’s in labour!” and the rest of us exchange looks which very clearly say, ‘Yeah? And what do you think we’re doing here Bambi? Partying?” (Apparently, in my dreams I am quite a bitch.) Friend insists that the doctor be called in and the grumpy mid-wife (played admirably by Sangeeta Ma’am – accountant at PG College) brings in the physician on call and guess who he is? No guess! No? Alright, it’s A.K. Hangal. Yes, Ye Olde A.K. Hangal of ‘Itna sannata kyon hai bhai?” fame. Mr. Hangal has evidently been hitting the gym quite regularly because though his face is still the same - balding, toothless, wrinkled – he is filling out his ancient cotton vest quite nicely. He doesn’t actually say ‘Itna sannata kyon hai bhai?’ but that is possibly because there isn’t any sannata what with women in going into labour left right and center.

Clearly my subconscious has dismissed my freelance-writer-hood as inconsequential, one of those oh-she’ll-grow-out-of-it things and decided that I would be better suited to be either a) an item girl (or two) or b) the person who dodders in after a climactic scene and asks uncomfortable questions.

And if anyone so much as *breathes* the words ‘biological clock’, I am going to be very nasty to them. Even if it is only in my dreams. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Hey Sister, Go Sister

If there is one festival/institution that has been abused to the point where it has trust issues and thinks everyone is out to get it, that festival/institution is Raksha Bandhan.

According to my extensive research there are three kinds of Rakhi sisters.

Type A: This type usually *has* a brother (or possibly two) and while she has conscientiously tied/sent him a rakhi every year, she has never quite understood what all the fuss is about. This type does NOT go around be-sister-ing every alternate male she comes across and thinks that one (or however many she has) bother brother is quite enough, thankyouverymuch.

Type B: This type of RS has no male siblings. Which means she has never had her dolls dismembered, her clean sneakers muddied and posters of her favourite cine-stars decorated with speech balloons which say, “I’m such a girl! Where is my pink tutu??” This type of RS, for reasons known only to herself, usually wants brothers. She thinks that they will be all protective (if they’re older) and adoring (if they’re younger) and usually picks one relatively sane boy (ha!) to whom she will unfailingly tie/send a rakhi every year. This type of enforced sibling-hood usually means that both parties’ feelings towards each other are severely-platonic-bordering-on-repulsion (which, in any case, is what *true* brother-sister-hood is all about anyway).

Type C: Then there is the Type C Rakhi Sister. This type of girl is frequently named after one of the more annoyingly pious women in Indian mythology, such as Parvati, or Mamta or Shraddha. She hails from a small town/repressed family where hormonal stirrings are frowned upon and can lead to only one of two conclusions: artificial siblinghood or prompt matrimony. (Cue memorable dialogue from Maine Pyaar Kiya – “Ek jawaan ladka aur ek jawaan ladki kabhi dost nahin ho sakte!”) As a result of following these bizarre practices all her life, this girl has no idea how deal with an actual crush on a member of the opposite sex and will promptly be-sister him. Come Raksha bandhan, and with great ceremony she will tie a rakhi around the hormone-affecting boy’s wrist which will enable her to do everything but err…any actual doing (until much later, anyway).

Now apart from the disturbing Freudian fallouts of such a relationship (enforced sibling-hood, i.e.), the Type C Rakhi Sister is a thorn in the side of the Rakhi brother’s hapless girlfriend. No girl is apparently good enough for her brother and while she’s too gentle and *pure* a soul to say anything against the girlfriend (god forbid!), she will drop subtle hints. In her I’m-your-loving-sister-way she will mention how “entertaining” the girlfriend is, such a barrel of laughs! And how she’s still friends with AAALLLL her exes, amazing na? She will give him missed calls when he’s with the said GF and text him endlessly till the girlfriend begins to feel like there are three people sharing that chicken-roll (or sundae or food/drink item of choice).

Initially, the girlfriend will brush it off thinking, ‘Naah, she’s just affectionate, is all’. But one day, she will walk out of class see the boyfriend’s head in the RS’s lap while she (RS) plays with his hair. Her brain will wrestle with her heart and the argument will go somewhat like this:

Brain: ARRGGGHH!! Are you bloody blind?? Don’t you see what’s happening here?
Heart: Well, uh, yes. He’s lying down with his head in her lap and she’s uhh… playing with his hair. Her hand is uhhh…inside his shirt?
Brain: You’ve GOT to be kidding me. Tell me, when was the last time you did this with YOUR brother?
Heart: Euuww!! That’s disgusting! What the HELL is wrong with you, brain!
Brain: (pointed silence)
Heart: (stunned silence)

At this point, a wise girl will realise that if she were ever asked for an example of a lose-lose situation, she would not come up short. Dumping the boy will inevitably lead to the RS ‘consoling’ the boy with many “Koi baat nahin bhai, aisi ladkiyaan bahut saari mil jaayengi”, and asking him to choose would be viewed as colossally stupid (even if perfectly legitimate). Even killing the RS will not be a solution since she’ll just have to live with the ghost of a sister past.

And when many years down the line she will go through the boy’s orkut profile and see a photograph of both of them titled ‘me and my best FRIEND (emphasis, mine) in the whole world’ she will thank her lucky stars she got out in time.