Saturday, 22 November 2014

Oh Shit!

To All: I am not advertising anything. My views are purely personal and unintentional (no intention of helping anyone profit.).
To the developers of the app: I wouldn’t really mind making a few bucks out of publicizing it.

Have you ever wanted to get back at someone? Maybe your irksome neighbour or an overbearing boss or your ex? You wrote hate mails, shouted and screamed, bitched about them and what not. Writing their names on a piece of paper and burning it up or flushing it down, calling them and hurling expletives of the creamiest sort are just a few ways to vent your ire. Sometimes, your feelings cross the danger mark and nothing appears to satiate you save the blood of your sworn enemy. Some people must have realized this and came up with a way to really give the crap to them. In the literal sense of the word. is a one-of-its-kind initiative that can revolutionize the world of haters and the hated. One can use the app to buy shit. Literally. You can buy shit for the ones you have a grudge against and parcel them in a nicely wrapped shiny paper. You just shell out a few bucks and a load of horse shit or dog poop will be delivered to the one you loathe.

If this app succeeds, the concept of gifts will undergo a massive transmogrification. They will be dreaded as much as they are eagerly awaited. Parcels would then be divided into gifts and gaffes.  Since the wrappers will be shiny and pretty in both the cases, one wouldn’t be able to distinguish between them. The bell rings and the delivery boy holds out a package for you. You are overjoyed thinking it must be from one of your secret admirers or some long lost friend or your boyfriend trying to be creative. You accept it graciously and offer the boy some beverage because you are just so happy. He leaves and you retire to your favorite corner of the room to open the coveted package. The ribbons are carefully untied and the shiny golden paper reflecting the light of the room falls away to reveal a box. As you open the box, a malodor fills the room and you gag and probably puke all over your favorite space. Gaffe received. Mission accomplished.

The age of the jack-in-the-box is fading, fast being replaced with an advanced level of pranking.  This makes me wonder if perhaps perfumes with nauseous odors may also become popular. You hate someone but have to attend the party that they are throwing. You buy one of those elegant looking bottles and wrap them in the trademark shiny golden paper. Then you deliberately forget to put your name on it. Or perhaps you actually want your foe to know what you sent. So, you write your name in a beautiful font or just place a riddle in order for them to figure out. Bang! The party room is filled with a repugnant smell as soon as your ‘gift’ is opened. The guests can’t figure out where the obnoxious odor emanates from and the receiver of the package cannot reveal the fact that he/she has received a gaffe in place of a gift, hence, the impact is manifold- humiliation added to hatemail. Double bonanza!

Popularity will soon be calculated in two ways- fame and infamy. The more the number of gifts,the greater your fame. The number of gaffes, in turn, will decide the level of your infamy. It will be one of the hot topics to bitch about.
“You know Sarita received kitten stool and dog poop yesterday?”
“How did you know?”
“She opened her bag and there it was, a glimmering shimmering flash of paper. I hung about surreptitiously for a while and sure enough, a putrefying stench assailed me.”
“I think its Ravi. She shouldn’t have dumped him. ”

Venting your ire on your boss or that high-heeled flashy stuck-up colleague, who sees herself no less than the Miss Universe, does seem in accordance with your vanity pursuits. I personally find this app a very filthy idea. Sending people crap. That’s just not my thing. However, on closer examination, I think it could actually be a success. Especially in our country. In fact, if we were to develop a similar app (let’s call it i-shit for Indian shit), it could really transform our country for the better. The developers of this app would hardly incur any cost except obviously the delivery, which could be handled by a tie up with an organization dealing with transportation. As for the content, a colorful and foul-rich array of flavors is available. Step out of your building and you will surely find some animal poop lying here and there. Its so abundant that you just can’t miss it. Come to think of it, not just animal shit, even human excrement can be gathered simply enough. Although that would require searching in the dark corners on the roadsides or near the slum areas, that would be easier than finding a public washroom (If you are tenacious enough, you may find one but I will give you 50 bucks if you manage to find a clean one).  
After my confident discourse, if the developers still worry about where to find crap or perhaps trying to get hold of a poultry farm, I would happily take the contract. No, I don’t live in the countryside nor do I own a farm. But I am still confident that I can easily get the content which this app requires. On the contrary, I would also be doing a service to the country in terms of the ‘Clean India’ campaign.

In fact, you too can contribute by using i-shit. Clean India and send the shit to the ones you hate. Perhaps soon this trend might catch up so much that we start sending our friends shit just to help clean the environment. Perhaps the warring factions of the country might decide to transport their own rubbish to the others’ domain. Perhaps we could also add a bit of philanthropy to the advertisement by using only street-side shit, hence, helping to keep the environment clean. I-shit would definitely be a hit. Siphon off your rage! Send shit! Clean India!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

The Magic Number

I am twenty two. Always twenty two. Make of it what you will.

I was scrolling down my facebook wall, idly looking at posts and unconsciously hitting likes. I say if its cheap, why not use it. Liking doesn't cost you a penny, so like as much as you want. I am in the habit of such mass liking that when (and if) I receive any likes on my pictures, I divide the total number of likes by two, assuming that at least half of the 'likers' probably belong to my category. 
Just then, I came across some birthday pics titled "my Double Decade" or "My 21st" or "Coming of Age" and so on. And followed pretty pictures in LBDs, gaudy lehengas or dazzling anarkali suits. It brought to my mind the fact that my birthday is approaching. I was thinking of buying a nice low-cut lavender dress that I saw a starved model showcasing online. It looked quite a catch. And then came to mind clicking pictures-endless selfies, unlimited photo-ops and a great vanity boost. Then I wondered about the title of the to-be album. I would write 'My 20th-something', wouldn’t I?
It struck me that I have never seen a woman put up an album with a header-'My 31st' or 'My 42nd' or 'My 55th' or even 'My 28th'! Is 28 old? There is this particular age after which women seal their lips about the number of years they have been surviving on this planet. I call it the 'freezing age'. Everyone knows the 2 precious numerals one must never ask a woman-her age and her weight. (Actually there are a load of things men should avoid asking women. It would take quite a while to compile the list.)
Between them, weight is something which one can hardly conceal. It is only the wily elusive age that can befuddle the hearts and minds of innocent men, who are lured into believing the freezing age as a woman's true age. Like all her vital assets, a woman clothes her age in an opaque outfit of age-defying makeup and weight-loss regimes.
Vanity, thy name is woman!
A few days ago, I was clicking selfies in some new hairstyle I had copied from a youtube video. As the camera lens focused on my face, a message hovered over the focal boundaries-"32, female". My heart stopped in its tracks. What devilish claptrap was this? I can still tolerate face recognition softwares, even though they match my face with my grandmother's. I usually discount the errors as the usual AI glitches.No computer can be that accurate.
Then comes this supposedly age and gender recognition software that threatens to expose the blemishes, the unevenness of complexion and other such foibles of my skin, that I strove to obscure using photo-editing softwares.
I tried to change the angle of focus. The age came down to 28 and I heaved a small sigh of relief. Another adjustment though shot it up to 36, thus pouncing on my vanity and deflating my self-confidence. Numerous such attempts at lens focus created an age range for me-an age range, which seemed never to touch teenage but always seemed to go upto the 30s. Technology-boon or bane? Right then, I was in a mood to debate in favor of the latter. I was sorely disappointed and my selfie conviviality faded.
I know age is just a number. But it is a very important number.
Some of the women wear their age on their sleeves. Take Indira Gandhi, for instance, with the fashionable trademark grey streak in her jet black plumage. Take Rekha of Bollywood. Or Hema Malini. The world is brimming with examples. But the fact remains that the obsession with age cannot be downplayed. Be it accepting or adjusting to one's age gracefully or masking it with botox and age-freezing products, women have a special bond with this magic number. This is the reason why some of the women, despite being past their middle age, take offence when you append an 'aunty' to their name. They prefer to be called 'didi' or better referred to by their names. [This little note pertains only to the Indian way of living. The western lifestyle has no age barriers anyway. Its only Miss or Mrs. or plain Jane.]
So...what goes up and never comes down?
Age !!!
And what goes up, reaches a certain point and then freezes?
A woman's age !!!

Friday, 7 November 2014

Alapadma-the new middle finger

A mudra is a symbolic hand gesture used in Indian dances. ( And this must be the briefest prologue ever written by anyone.)

“This is the way to do it. Its one of the most important mudras.” A tall slim woman, not so young and not so old, spread her five long fingers into a graceful curve, which appeared to me like a faint outline of a chalice. “And the more beautiful because of it. It is called ‘alapadma’.” That was the name my dance teacher gave to the charming shape her hands had conjured up.

I still remember that dance class of mine when this very vital mudra of Bharatnatyam was taught to me and how quickly I adopted it as my own personal mudra in all kinds of classical dances that I performed. I became so obsessed with it that I started looking for ways to use this hand formation whenever I could. For instance, while asking ‘wh’ questions like where are you going, who are you going with, which place and so on.

I soon realized that a lot of others share my feelings towards this ingenious ‘hand’iwork. Especially the drivers on the roads. When you release the clutch a little too soon and your car bumps to an abrupt halt just when the traffic light turns green and the cars behind you start honking madly as if you had set them on fire, at that point, the overtakers show you this beautiful hand mudra, with an expression that says if looks could kill, you would be dead by now. Or when you forget to switch on the car indicator before turning left or when your car is parked  a little way off the imaginary LOC (Line of Car Control), you get this ‘alapadma’. I have begun to equate it with the middle class’ middle finger. Alapadma- the middle finger of mediocre India. The tauter your fingers and the more precise your mudra, the angrier you are and the more the tendency to wring someone’s neck with those graceful fingers of yours. The degree of your ire can also be calculated by the number of hands you use. One slack hand shape indicates that you touched a nerve. A tensed accurately formed shape means you are in trouble. Two hands though mean that you are in great big trouble. This sort of proves that dance is a popular form of expression. In more uncanny ways than one.
This gesture is not just limited to irate drivers or irascible people on the roads. You will see the people around you utilizing this dance feature as well. This mudra is often accompanied by a slight tilt of the head that spells intense derision and utter disdain in the doer’s mind. “What the hell, dude?” it seems to say.

Hands today have come to mean a lot of things. They seem to have become more expressive than either expressions or words combined together. Its not just art forms like dance that use hands extensively for the depiction of emotions and senses. When you are trying to ward someone off, you say “talk to the hand”. Owing to the dearth of time we face today, sign language is a popular lingo wherein interplay of fingers can create a myriad of signals from a ‘pataakamudra showing the Congress ‘haath’ or the ‘shikharmudra viz. ‘thumbs-up’ sign doubling up as the most popular ‘like’ statement ever (courtesy of facebook) or the newest signal of aggression/annoyance/inquiry -the alapadma-our question mark -our own trademark middle finger.

Sign language is not a new invention. It is an age-old mode of expression, dating back to paleolithic man. Man in his quest to develop more and ever more, sometimes seeks solace in the simplistic symbols of articulation. Hands are the new words and alapadma is the new middle finger.

My dance classes coming pretty ‘hand’y now, huh?