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Showing posts from July, 2012

For Pete's Sake Get Over Oprah!

I have just had a hearty dinner and guess what I ate with my hands. I scooped the dal with my fingers and licked them too. It is an art perfected with practice. I call this a gastronomical orgasm! It is only of late that I have started eating less with my hands because I am trying not to become obese. I believe that eating with cutleries reduces the portion intake and you chew longer, but eating with the hand means stuffing a mouthful and gulping them down without any mastication. I am told eating with the sticks does even better for the weight. In my obsession with weight gain and weight loss, I am learning to live without my gastronomical O’s. But the other O of television, I mean Oprah Winfrey, has made eating with the hands India's talking point. She dined with a wealthy family in Mumbai for her new television show and was treated to a great spread of vegetarian thali (I wish I was at the table), but Indians say she committed an awful gaffe. She asked her hosts, “I heard s

The Curious Case Of Surnames

FROM MY WINDOW The curious case of surnames My sister is married to someone with the same surname. I call it the curious case of Laishram vs Laishram because there are some members of our community who are piqued by the fact that she has gotten married to someone, perhaps, viewed as a brother -- simply because of the shared surname. Never mind that we come from two distinct backgrounds and lineages. So, when she had her house-warming party in a suburb of a town that has a sizeable Manipuri population, few people did boycott on the grounds that theirs is not ‘holy matrimony’!   I think Manipuris in general are a bit twisted in the head. Most Manipuri women call their husbands ‘tamo’ or big brother. And that is perfectly OK, it seems. I have friends from other communities married to the same surnames, say, a Das marrying a Das, or a Singh marrying a Singh. But they don’t ostracise their people.   Recently, a friend’s Facebook status said: ‘why on earth do women change their s

Mr X: Prude or Prick?

I have told you about my friend Uma Didi, my veritable storehouse of news and gossip. Her Idly Corner stands next to my gym and that’s how we became friends. In my early days of settling in she was the answer to many of my cooking needs; her shop sells all the masalas including ‘hing’ (asafoetida). She is the quintessential Tamilian – vegetarian, very religious, dons a bindi and a colourful sari. She makes the best sambar in Melbourne. Of course, the ‘environmental officer’ story from her is my favourite to date. The story goes: an Indian immigrant working as a toilet cleaner goes to India and makes visiting cards with the designation “Environmental Officer’, Royal Melbourne Hospital. Then he starts looking for a wife and so impressed are the family of the chosen bride that he gets a big building as dowry. Back from home country, sporting bright yellow gold rings, and visibly happy, he tells Uma Didi that he has rented the first floor and moved his parents to the ground floor. A

Good Girls Don't Drink?

I have been disturbed by the news coming out of my region – the northeast of India - where a teenage girl coming out of a bar at 9:30 pm was molested and beaten by a group of 20 men. The news has even found its way down under for the shocking nature of it. Tabloids and even TV have carried the news. I have always prided myself in belonging to a region that is known for its high tolerance and where women are generally safe and independent. But I have always felt a bit squidgy about Guwahati unlike the rest of the seven sisters. The place is so like the rest of India in many ways, dirty and claustrophobic. That explains why bars are looked upon as sleazy places and women going there beaten up as with the recent case. Just 150 km away is Shillong, the place where I grew up. Night clubs thrive there and till date there has been no case of attacks against women. Reading the news, I am appalled by some of the reactions. “But the girl was drinking,” or “only prostitutes visit that

Norwegian Wood: Between Reel & Read

There is a small Murakami club brewing in my household. And it is expanding. Our friend Deepika is also part of the fan club now after we introduced Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman to her during our last holiday together amid the ruins and squalor of Mumbai. It’s a different story that she loves her bed. Last night we watched Norwegian Wood . After reading the book I was quite eager to see how film directors capture a novel as rich as this one. On the surface, Norwegian Wood is a story of love and loss. Set in the 1960’s wintry Japan, Toru Watanabe is a university student unaffected by the student uprising of the time, a loner who hankers after Naoko, girlfriend of his best friend Kizuki who killed himself. But Naoko is a troubled girl who ends up in a mental institution and ultimately hangs herself.  Watanabe loved Naoko, she loved him too but they did not live happily ever after. And it is in the ending that you ask yourself a series of questions. Murakami’s books deceive simp

A Suitable Boy

I still feel like a sad bag but reading Sarah Macdonald’s Holy Cow has been an antidote to my dreary morning. Macdonald’s summary of Indian men in her travel memoir makes me want to laugh out so loud for the hilarity in her expressions and her accurate analysis. This ‘highly visible minority’ as she calls them are the ones in the streets of north India, especially Delhi. They follow you everywhere, they try to grope you at any given chance and according to Macdonald, ‘seem to suffer from a chronic urinary tract infection’. Oh how true! Men in India piss anywhere – beside the road, up against any building, in a park, you name it. She writes she was sick of ‘the cocky display of the penis’. LOL, and that is the reality of the demeaning Indian male, some of them. Getting down to a bit of navel contemplation, having lived in Delhi for 15 long years I was so used to being around men whose families would look for ‘suitable girls’ to get them married off. By suitable I mean the ones wh

The Story Of Sunil Hampaul

What It Takes To Be A Taxi Driver In Melbourne? More than 80 percent of Melbourne’s taxi drivers are Indians. A community much misunderstood, they have often been at the receiving end of many hostilities with as many as five attacks against them in one month in recent times. All this, while ensuring that people reach their destinations safe at all hours of the day and night. Read on. It was one of his routine day shifts when Sunil Hampaul, a taxi driver operating in the western suburbs, got a call from his base asking him to pick up someone from Altona north. No sooner had he picked his suspicious customer when just a street later, he was swooped down by 20 cars and men with sten guns facing him and the passenger. “Look at me, put your hands up, on to your knees.” Hampaul thought someone was playing a crude joke. He couldn’t figure out what was happening. Everything happened so fast.  He was then questioned as to how he got the passenger. He replied he was just doing his

Grief & I

Despite being so visible on Facebook, I have been busy the last week trying to meet deadlines. Happy with the outcome of two stories I did for a local magazine. Will put them up here once the magazine goes to print. But in all this, I have been consumed by an underlying sense of sadness at the news of my nephew being unwell again. He has fever just after a month. I am told that kids get ill very often, they go to school and pick up all kinds of viruses and that he will be better soon. Maybe he is still low on immunity after the long fever last time. I pray and hope he is on the mend. Just as I write this, the sun breaks out. It has been a gloomy, wet weekend and waking  up to the pitter patter of rains on a Monday has not been very helpful. But I take this ray of sunshine as a sign of good luck. Ever the sentimental bore, I am so prone to sadness I think. Reading my friend Deepika’s blog on her dad a few minutes back, we are on the same plane. Somewhere, sometime in life, people