Monday, January 27, 2014

The Rahul Gandhi drinking game

Do you remember that feeling when you would go to an important exam completely prepared and you end up getting most of the questions from the one chapter you didn't touch because you thought it was unimportant? Rahul Gandhi's exclusive interview with Arnab Goswami was just that...only times million and it happened for all the world to see. The sweaty, mumbling, pretty boy of politics, when put under the scanner, did not disappoint - he came across as absolutely clueless. And for the casual observer of Indian politics, it was pure comedic gold. As I watched the interview unfold itself, I was hit with the greatest idea I have had since deciding to watch Dhoom 3 for the second time - the Rahul Gandhi drinking game. Indulge me a bit as I set across the rules for the game. All you need is a shot glass, a wine glass, alcohol and some water.

Drink up my friends!
Every time Rahul Gandhi was asked an actual question do with the country, he blinked a whole lot and said "actually" a whole lot. Every time you hear this word, kindly take one sip of red or white wine of your choice. Sipping is enough because by the time he shall finish that sentence, you would have finished the glass.

Women empowerment
Oh boy. Sigh. The fate of the Indian nari (a clan I belong to) apparently now rests in the hands of the village idiot. And he seems to have taken his role as the crusader for "women empowerment" very seriously. So if you are a man, take a shot every time he says this phrase, if you are woman, take two shots (you really need it honey, we are doomed).

Yup. Ask Rahul about the economy, he will talk about RTI. Ask Rahul about the caste system in India, he will talk about RTI. Ask Rahul about his favourite sandwich, he will talk about RTI. The kid is clearly in love with RTI (maybe it's the easiest word to remember perhaps?). So, every time, he runs off on a tangent about RTI, help yourself to a swig of Long Island Iced Tea, if you have access to it.

Every time Arnab Goswami smiles
Arnab Goswami knew he hit gold, when Rahul Gandhi started sweating beads of sweat, while hemming and hawing his way through the interview. Goswami had a slight smirk, that widened every time, Gandhi nodded his head and blinked his eyes. The smile of a predator who knows he does not even have to make an effort as his prey was currently not only killing himself but also cooking and marinating himself in a frying pan. Just pour some red wine into your system and toast to Arnab Goswami, the king of smirks.

My family
Oooh boy. Even when he claimed, he didn't "choose" his family, Rahul spoke about his family a whole lot...didn't he? My mother, my father, my sister, my family. I don't know about the rest of the world but I am darn sure, baby Gandhi went back home after the interview to complain about the mean bully and cry into his mommy's arms. One shot of drink of your choice.

Politician/my degree is not fake
Ok, by now I am sure you have gotten really tipsy and are probably just about to pass out. Gandhi visibly gulped when he was asked about his degree from Cambridge. It was awful to watch but also incredibly funny. And he stuttered and stammered his way while tring to convince himself that he was in fact a politician. A glass of white wine as you roll your eyes to Rahul Gandhi stammering about how he's a strange politician who is not after power and does not fit in with the others.

The youth
It's our final catch phrase of the day. "The youth of India" is obviously a cause Rahul Gandhi is committed to. He has done (in his words) tons to empower the youth. So if you consider yourself to be part of the "youth of India" and feel like Gandhi has helped you out in any way, drink a glass of water. It should help settle your stomach after all that drinking...Nobody wants to drink that glass water? Hmm...strange...

So that's it. This was my drinking game for everyone's pleasure. As a teetotaler myself, I apologise beforehand if I have gotten any drinking terminologies wrong. And just in case make sure you have an ambulance number on your speed dial. This game could be potentially dangerous. Long live Indian politics! I shall drink to that indeed. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A birthday note to the love of my life

I met her three years ago but if I was being honest with the world, I felt next to nothing. She looked like a potato all scrunched up. Everyone else in my life was enamored but when I first met my niece I was an unimpressed dolt. I wasn't sure how my life would change. I was only a bit angry that now my sister will have even less time to spend with me. Thea being born, was to me, a rather unceremonious event. Something that would hardly affect me.

Our love was at first as one sided as they come. I liked her well enough to wave at her through skype. I was angry when I was pulled off my bed to chat up with a baby who could not understand what I was saying. I did not understand what the fuss was about. But she on the other hand seemed to be in love with me. She lit up when I was around. She called to me various names...sometimes I was Aish, sometimes I was Aaesh...but she would demand even as a baby to see me. Even through my initial indifference, it was obvious the tiny thing had found something in me, she really loved. When my sister first came from California to visit us, I was panicked. What if I could not make any connection whatsoever with my own niece?

I realise now, I shouldn't have worried. Thea already had better plans for our relationship than I did. I just wanted to be able to hold her without dropping her. But when we first physically met in the airport, even though she wasn't even a year old, she pulled me into a hug. Suddenly everything changed. I went from being a nonchalant observer who was trying to get some time to hang out with her sister, to a lovestruck teenager. A tiny ball of human being pulled me into a hug and I knew my life had completely changed.

It's a strange and loving relationship I share with Thea. Our faces brighten up every time we see each other. We are very similar. She is also incredibly hyper active. She befriends everyone in her life. She jumps. She laughs. She runs around so much, even I can't catch her. She won't let me pay attention to anything else in life. And she now calls me Aishu. When I look sad, she hugs me through skype. When I wear a new dress, her eyes widen and she says - "Aishu's so pretty" in a slight Americanised accent. When I pretend to hide, her face darkens as she panics that I have left.

On January 27, she turns three years old. Only three. She has only started with life. But she's my best friend (sorry to all those who think they are my best best friend is a three year old who is in potty training, deal with it). And as I think about what life has in store for her, I realise I don't want her path to just be roses. I want her to experience everything - happiness, sadness, tragedy, laughter, friendship, love and yes, heartbreak. I want her to be kind to others. To have empathy for those different from her. I want her to smile at everyone when she grows up, as she smiles at me today.

I also want her to see some bad times in life. She needs to know that life is a gift but not one without challenges. That it's not worth it to always be winning in life. That sometimes she will really not see the light at the end of the tunnel. But that's okay. Every time she finds happiness, she will appreciate it that much more. She will be more generous because of the things she may have lost in life. And when the going gets a bit too tough, that will be alright too because I shall be there along with those who love her, to give her a massive hug and tell her things will work themselves out. So happy birthday Thea. Even though you cannot read right now (at least you are pooping properly!), I hope someday you stumble across this blog. And figure out for yourself how a three year old (that's you) changed the life of an apathetic 25 year old (that would be me) who swore she hated kids. I love you baby and I need to give smush you with a bear hug right now. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

You look pretty, I don't

When I was a kid, I was just plain fun. Ran around like a mess. Fought with everyone and everything. Practically drank in books after books. I was a confident kid and I knew I was a smart kid. The only thing I was never ok with? Being called pretty. Not that many did. But it made me uncomfortable even when my grandparents, my parents, my sister or close friends told me I looked nice. I just could not believe them. It's not what I saw when I saw myself. I saw me. I saw the scabs I got from falling to the ground after a boy pushed me. I saw the boycut which I hated. I saw the small scrawny kid who didn't quite (or at all) look like the girls she saw on TV.

Now why am I talking about me as a kid? Because I don't think I really got over it. The most uncomfortable I feel even today is when someone compliments me on how I look. I get awkward. I don't know what to say. In most aspects of my life, I am confident as hell. I think I am a rockstar. But call me pretty and I am cowering behind everyone else praying that no one notices how embarrassed I am. And I want to change that this year. No...I am not saying I want to turn into a vain person who is constantly talking about how beautiful she is (although I know for certain it might take an actual miracle for something like that to happen to me). But I want to be able to get comfortable in my own skin. If someone says something nice, I won't brush it off as though I have been insulted. I will be gracious and grateful. I will accept it.

I saw this incredible video where Amy Poehler has spoken about body image issues girls have (Amy Poehler talks body issues). It took me back to my own childhood when I wondered why on earth I didn't look anything like Britney Spears. I think it's important for women to accept who they are. And accept how they look. What kind of a role model will I be for my niece (who also happens to be my goddaughter), if I can't smile when someone calls me beautiful? Will I subconsciously teach her to be uncomfortable in her own skin? So I have thought long and hard about this. And that is going to be my resolution for this year. It's to be kinder to myself. I am a smart, funny, fun and ridiculously hyper individual. I am also a nice person. And I love the way I look.

ME :D :D 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Going back in time with your parents, Sholay style

For as long as I can remember, Sholay has been part of my life. Dad loves old movies and we would watch them together. Mum would roll her eyes when we would sit and watch Sholay for the "millionth time" and would shake her head and leave. When my grandparents were alive, my grandmother would sit in the corner and watch the movies along with us while pretending to pray and my grandfather would serenely sit on top of the divan and smile as I would react to every scene, every song. So, when I found out the movie was being screened in the big screen again I knew I had to drag my parents. Mum said no and then dad was worried about watching 3D with his glasses but then he changed his mind after watching all the promos and I booked tickets.

So, today, on a weekday evening, a boring Monday no else, the three of us walked down the street to the theatre to catch Sholay. I see my dad transform in front of my eyes. He goes from being just my dad to an excited young man. He is literally running because he is afraid of missing the first shot. He doesn't let my mom wear her shoes and even yells at me for messaging on the phone when I should have been hurrying after him. We enter the movie hall. There are about 15 other people along with us. Some of them young college kids and some my parents' age, eager to re-visit their past.

The movie begins. Mom and dad are completely engrossed. Dad leans over and whispers something to my mother. She giggles and whispers something back. He laughs hard when the jokes land and my mom shields her eyes when something bad happens. The two of them are lost. I feel like I am intruding into their space but they are lost in their own world. Amitabh Bachchan walks in, mom smiles despite herself. Hema Malini starts chatting too much and dad starts laughing harder. Both still remember the dialogues. Dad at one point yells the dialogue out loud unable to contain himself. The young college kids laugh and yell - "Uncle you're awesome". Dad laughs back in gratitude. I try to say something and mom shushes me. This scene is good, she sternly puts me down.

A pivotal flashback scene in the movie finds an entire family in peril in the hands of the famed dacoit, Gabbar Singh. Mom flinches and leans towards my dad. The scene plays out. They stare at the screen horrified, the way they probably were when they first saw the film. Dad looks at me and says - "When we first saw it, we just couldn't believe it. Nothing like this ever happened in Hindi films back then." Intermission time. Mum turns to me. She tells me how terrified she was when she first saw the movie. "It all felt so real. I felt so sad." Dad walks back with a glass of coffee. He seems to have forgotten to get me some water. Mom and dad share the same cup of coffee and whisper some more. I feel like I am by now forgotten.

Intermission ends. Enters the original item girl, Helen. Dad whispers something about Helen being hot to my mother. My mum in true mom style rolls her eyes and snorts. I laugh at the both of them, wondering how I hardly ever see this side of my parents anymore. They are oblivious to the rest of the world. The famous climax arrives. Mom sits there shivering. Dad is hugging himself, bracing for the one-two punch that the death of a major character brings. I am crying (I always cry at the end). Mum starts sniffing. Dad is just stoic and staring into the screen. I wonder how he felt when he saw it the first time. He after all practically hero-worshiped Amitabh Bachchan back in the day, long before I was even born. He doesn't speak a word.

The credits roll. We step out. I feel like I have never experienced a movie like this before. I ask one of the college kids to take a picture of me and my parents together. The kids look at my dad and ask him if he watched the movie in theatre when it released. "Yes," my father beams at them proudly. "It was nearly 40 years ago. I watched it in Bombay. I was a young man back then," he smiles nostalgically. Mom who is back in the real world, now drags him to the elevator before he launches on the story of how he watched Sholay for the first time. The three of us smile at each other. Dad thanks me for taking them. I say nothing. For some reason I am feeling emotional. I suddenly remember a conversation I had with someone my own age over the weekend. She said she judged my taste for wanting to watch the movie at all. She said her friends told her the movie was too boring and unrealistic. My parents' voices brings me back to the present time. Mum is telling my dad how authentic the movie felt. "Today everything is done on the computers. There are no real emotions. You just don't care when something happens on screen. Back then it was all so realistic. We felt every emotion. We were scared for the characters. They just don't make movies like that anymore." Dad nods his head vigorously in agreement. "They don't make movies like this anymore."