Stree

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It was 2 years back in Singapore. We had our flight to Delhi early in the morning morning and decided to catch a movie in the vicinity on our last night. The Conjuring was playing in the theatres and I was excited about watching a horror movie. Being a normal human being, I was glued to the phone during the scary scenes. Am I actually supposed to watch them? Nobody told me the rules. KC got pissed off and he dragged me out of the theatre.

We did watch The Conjuring in Gurgaon with his friends and this time his friend and I were glued to our phones during the scary scenes. Since then, he refuses to accompany me for horror movies. Honestly though, I think he is scared but refuses to admit it.

Yesterday I watched Stree alone and didn’t look at my phone though I did try hiding behind a coffee cup during scary scenes. A pat on the back

All of the above is a filler for people who haven’t yet watched Stree but will scream ‘spoilers’ while reading this post.

********* START OF SPOILERS*********

  • Isn’t it wonderful that we have stories from small towns instead of the usual Mumbai and Delhi? Thanks to actors like Pankaj Tripathi, Nazwazuddin, Irfan Khan, Ayushmann Khurana, Rajkummar Rao etc etc etc, who look and talk like regular people.
  • Stree is brilliant. So brilliant that I plan to watch it again this week. Dum Laga ke Haisha is the only other movie I have watched twice in a theatre.
  • I can watch a movie which has Pankaj Tripathi playing all the roles. Like, he could be playing every character in the movie and I would watch it. He crackles in every scene here.
  • Stree is the perfect horror Bollywood comedy I have ever seen. Suitably scary with suspense and the effects don’t feel tacky.
  • The movie is about a female ghost who comes to the town 4 days in a year and any man who steps outside the house unaccompanied at night is taken away by the ghost. She only leaves his clothes behind. Pankaj Tripathi explaining this to Rajkummar Rao and his friends ‘The ghost is a female. She isn’t like us males. She doesn’t force anyone. She asks for their permission. Only when you turn back and look at her, does she consider it a “yes”. For her, only yes means yes”. A Bollywood movie talking about consent.
  • Scenes where the men are afraid to step outdoors at night are hilarious. Pankaj Tripathi “Ours is the only town in the country where the men feel unsafe at night instead of the women”.

In a gist, please go watch it.

It was the best part of my day yesterday which comprised of late morning, no-pants-day-at-home, Khan market, Perch, coffee, undisturbed reading time, Sarojini Nagar, candles shopping and lots of metro travel in the rains.


Entertaining at home is a bitch

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I hate inviting people over. I am so focused on the logistics that I can rarely relax and have a good time.

Do we have enough plates? Is everything clean? Is there enough food? Is the food hot? Is everyone comfortable? Has the food turned out ok? Etc etc etc? Try thinking of conversation topics that can interest 4 people and watch me panic.

Until last year, I had invited only 1 person over and cooked a meal for her. Because we hung out at each other’s house anyway so I wasn’t worried if something got messed up. But in the last 1 year I have made the effort to invite people home. Specially colleagues. It is a lot of effort. I don’t have a live-in househelp and would never entrust the meal to a cook. And if the plan is to order in, why not just meet at a restaurant instead for the meal? If am inviting someone over, it takes me atleast half a day to organise everything and I make sure to cook a few courses, if not all of them. Even if it isn’t perfect, it is personal. And that counts, in my books.

I invite people over when I am trying to take my relationship with them to the next level. The objective is to let them know that they are special, I care and would like to stay in touch. That I enjoy their company and treasure the good times we’ve spent together.

But entertaining at home is what I dread the most. So, when I hand out an invite “Why don’t you (and your spouse, if he/she exists) come over for a meal?”, I silently cross my fingers hoping the person will turn it down with “Sorry, we are too busy and have better things to do”. But that has never happened (HOW the hell not?). Maybe they were too polite to say so but were thinking about it in their head. And so a mutually convenient date is worked out and I clear out my schedule waiting for that weekend. I tell KC “I have invited XYZ over on Sunday for lunch so please come early from cricket”.

The house is cleaned till it gleams, there are diffusers and candles in every room, flowers in the vases, a menu decided after hours of planning in my head, food cooked without any help, snacks/beverages/liqour fit for 10 people purchased because I don’t want to run out. Like, yesterday I wasn’t sure what the teetotallers would drink so I bought buttermilk, diet Coke, regular Coke, diet Pepsi and regular Pepsi. I didn’t want someone to leave the house with feelings of disgust because they had to drink Pepsi instead of Coke. Or vice versa. But then again, would I like people who were that pedantic?

KC watches me in amusement and stays out of the way. He is very clear about the split in responsibility “You invited them over. Don’t expect me to over extend. When I invite people over, it is for video games and cricket matches and nobody cares if they are fed or not”.

I know, I know, I have turned a simple act of entertaining at home into this gamut of complications and the people accepting the invites have no idea they are entering into a venus fly trap of expectations from which there is no escape.

 


Dil se – a story of love, lust, obsession, infatuation

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Let me flip the coin and talk about SRK’s portrayal of a lover obsessed.

The kind of love that knows in that one moment. You see them for the first time and in that one conversation, something fits right. Your whole world falls in place. Every event in your life transpired so you could meet this person. Every next meeting and conversation is just a period of waiting for him to realise the same. Afterwards, you don’t remember what you talked about but you come away feeling warm on a cold winter night. You sleep wrapped in the sound of his voice. A spring in your step. A smile on your lips. Twinkle in your eyes. Everything and everyone is awesome. You have a crush. Are infatuated. In love. And it feels bloody damn good. You steal glances at him, know his schedule, find ways to bump into him everyday. Everytime you close your eyes, you can picture his lips on yours. There is magic, passion, chemistry and complete surrender. This is all you want. Forever.


20 years of Dil Se

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All the recent articles online on Dil Se inspired me to re-watch it. The movie completed 20 years and I can recall the first time I watched it when it released. It was in boarding school and some of the impressions left then echo even today.

Though you are all waiting with bated breath to read my rant about the movie, let me start with what I loved.

  • The music. It is magic. I watched the movie with subtitles and oh-my-god, the lyrics blew me away. There is more meaning in every line than a whole movie in today’s times. I can’t get “Dil Se Re” out of my mind. It will be playing on loop till my partner throws me out of the house. And then I will take shelter at a friend’s place till he/she loses patience too. Totally worth it.
  • Manisha Koirala is brilliant. She balances out SRK’s hamming and how. Such a tricky, complex character played so well. She is suitably mysterious in the 1st half and torn between love and loyalty in the 2nd half.
  • Preity Zinta is a great contrast to Manisha’s character and her feistiness is adorable. Asking the guy you are meeting for arranged marriage if he is a virgin is bold by every standard.
  • There was an article online that talked about North Indian arrogance which is complete oblivious to the minorities in far flung states in the country. Even the song Jiya Jale is significant because Preity’s character is a Mallu whose engagement is North Indian style. From a demure bride with henna she is transported to Kerala as a seductress. Wow.
  • The cast. Piyush Mishra, Aditya Srivastava, Mita Vashisht, Raghubir Yadav etc.
  • Watching SRK and Manisha argue in the last scene was my favourite. Both sides of the coin are represented and of course, there is no middle path or compromise possible.

What I absolutely hated:

  • SRK. I get it. He is happy, exuberant, optimistic to balance out Manisha’s character. But tone it down a little, dude. People have called it his best role till date but I disagree. At the same time, I can’t think of another actor who would have done justice to this role. Can you?
  • As a kid, I watched the movie surrounded by my hostel mates. Most of them were SRK’s fans and loved him in it. Even at 14/15 years of age, I knew it was infatuation/attraction and not love that SRK felt for Manisha. There is no such thing at love at first sight. Bollywood movies where the hero stalks, molests and tries to rape the actress onscreen in the name of “love” makes me cringe. “No. No. Just no. Oh god, No”; I want to scream.

Let me decode this for the men

  • No means No
  • Maybe means No
  • If you make a move and she ignores it, it means No
  • If you make a move and she starts avoiding you, it means No
  • Being forced into it means No
  • Being made to feel like she has no option means No
  • If it is half hearted it means No
  • If you have to beg/plead/threaten, it means No
  • Only Yes means Yes. A clear, resounding, leaving-no-room-for-doubt, enthusiastic Yes is the only YES.

How to get through corporate trainings

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Corporate trainings are like being a female heterosexual. If they (men) don’t exist in your life, you complain and miss them but when they do, you regret their presence. They take you away from everything else you’d rather be doing.

Here are my simple strategies to get through those trying 2-3 days, honed over hours and hours of mindfucks.

  •  Where you sit matters. Most people assume the trainer will pay attention to you if you are seated in the back. So, it’s best to sit in front. But in reality, a trainer already knows that the back benchers are least motivated and they don’t want to drain their energy trying to get them to pay attention. They leave the back benchers alone, more or less. After all, there are so many wide eyed zombies seated in the front noting down every word they speak.
  • Who you sit with matters. It is very, very important. Sometimes trainings are with a bunch of strangers and you don’t have an option. But if you follow 1, you will be seated next to like-minded people who can smell bullshit miles away. It is easier when the trainees are your colleagues and known to you. You know who to avoid like a plague.
  • Sit next to someone with a sense of humour and cynicism in life. Stay far, far, far away from those who wear a badge of success for their middle management position in the corporate. You want someone who thinks of the training days as a paid holiday and is there to chill. A perverted sense of humour will add beautifully to this combination.
  • I don’t remember the first time I did this but now it is my normal state of mind during trainings. I relate everything to sex. It is like imagining people in the audience are naked to help you get over your nervousness during public speaking. Suddenly everything sounds exciting and relatable.

“The more you give,

the more you get”

Definitely not with Indian men

Get uncomfortable”

Anal? Threesomes? 69? BDSM? 

“Empty your cup”

On the agenda as soon as I get home

  • Pre work is for losers. That is how the trainer differentiates who can easily be turned into zombies and who will be most resistant to it. The trainer will always, always give time for pre work in the training course. Do not waste your precious time over it before the session. Ever.
  • Team/Partner sessions are where you network. Networking and team bonding doesn’t happen at work. When you are asked to pair up, pick people you like to spend time with and don’t see as often as you’d like to. I walked out with a colleague ready to launch into the discussion assigned and he asked me one question “How many of your managers have spent time to coach and hand hold you?” “Zilch”. All my relationships have developed after I stopped reporting to the manager and moved out of the team. There was no need to be diplomatic anymore and I could finally be myself without restrictions. We spent the next 15 mins ranting about work and felt much better. The next time I paired up with X and we got philosophical about our personal lives. Just stuff that is more memorable than “coaching tips”.
  • Don’t answer unless you are specifically asked to. 30% of the people in the training assume the top management is gauging them through the invisibility clock and handing out marks for class participation. I am so grateful to the presence of these people on this planet who make the rest of our lives easier. I will only be picked to speak once in a day and can get away with mouthing random shit I have picked up from previous trainings. At this stage in my career, however unwillingly, I can conjure corporate gyaan out of thin air and sound earnest. Maybe I should try a hand at acting.
  • Try to not be the only woman in the group. This is beyond my control and I heave a sigh of relief when there are more women. These are the tasks assigned to women in EVERY training:
    • Role play. The corporate organisation and even the training session does not have diversity but the role play must have. Makes us optimistic about the future. Maybe when we put the training in practice, we will have a woman seated opposite us. And she will bring to the table, what no man can. Her boobs and a vagina.
    • Writing on charts. Women are supposed to have better handwriting than men. Of course the brain needed for handwriting and driving are separate so we suck at the latter. Maybe only one side of the brain can be developed and we focus too much on our handwriting.
  • I make it a point to wear skirts or dresses to the training. Because invariably the trainer has planned an activity keeping the men in mind. My most favourite part is the look of confusion on the trainer’s face when they see am wearing a skirt/dress and the activity will be highly uncomfortable for me. I am still waiting for someone let me sit out the dumb activity because of my attire. And of course, I wear heels. Duh!!! Because women empowerment is being able to take off your heels and walking barefeet among men and their ugly shoes.
  • This is where I judge my male and female colleagues and bucket them into “sexist” and “not yet sexist”. When a guy who I have been impressed with during the session, lets out a “I saw this documentary on Nat Geo which said that men are logical and sensible… blah blah blah”; it is music to my ears. Who would like to bet that the documentary was made by a man? And the research was done by a man? And these men also believe that women suck at driving because there is a gear in the car which can be activated only by the penis. Only penis can have all the fun. I make enough noises in the session so the trainer knows I won’t take sexist comments lying down and it is upto him/her to shut down such bullshit. Nobody wants to get into a heated discussion with a woman on sexism and misogyny at the workplace anymore. Thank god for small mercies.

Snippets from here and there

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I have bought 4 copies of The Illicit Happiness of Other People by Manu Joseph till date. 3 of them were gifted to friends and the 4th one was my copy lent to a friend, never to be seen again. The loss feels very personal. What I felt while reading the book cannot be expressed in words. Everytime I gift (or lend) the book, am waiting with bated breath for their response. I doubt even Manu Joseph cares this strongly about the reviews of his book. If a friend loves the book, my friendship with him/her is validated and if he/she is unmoved, am immensely disappointed in him/her. I am on a mission to bring this book into the lives of everyone I care about.

(If we are friends and you haven’t read the book, hold on, a package is on it’s way).

A friend mentioned that my followers aren’t invested in my IG stories. They are just swiping right while bored. I was very, very shocked. After all the effort and time put into making my stories interesting, by whoring personal details about my life, nobody is even giving them a thought? Unbelievable. Are people rushing through my stories like I rush through theirs? Are the interest levels so little on both sides? This is the worst news EVER.

Possessiveness is an emotion I am unfamiliar with. Or so I like to claim. When my friendship is threatened from outside forces, I do the most sane and logical thing. I distance myself from the source of affection. Because you can either express yourself to the friend and tell them exactly what’s bothering you or you can clam up and let the opponent step into your position. I always choose the easier option since that keeps my life simpler. If I lose one of very few friends because of possessiveness I refuse to admit to, so be it.

(No context to this at all. Just random musings).


Cyber Sexy

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I just finished reading the book Cyber Sexy (rethinking pornography) by Richa Kaul Padte. It was recommended by Rohan Joshi in his IG stories few weeks back and I put it on my must read list. Honestly, I didn’t think a book about sex would have any new ideas. I thought I knew everything. How wrong was I. This fantastic book is refreshingly non moralistic, feminist, non judgemental, open minded, has lots of research and is based on interviews with real people in India. Certain aspects of the book I wanted to elaborate upon.

The easy access to internet has empowered women to express themselves. From sharing selfies to nudes, sex and sexuality aren’t restricted to the bedroom alone. A male friend called me “attention seeker” when I posted another pic of my legs on IG. He immediately apologised but it made me think. Do we judge a man’s feed when he posts pics of his calves, thighs, bare chest etc? No, we don’t. In this country, we are used to seeing half naked men even on the streets. Why is it a shock when a woman posts similar pictures? Which line has been crossed? Who makes the rules? Is the pic offensive or are men just shocked by their response to the pic? Maybe my pic is hurting their morality and the lines they have drawn for themselves and the women around them. Am I this confident in person? No. The anonymity of the internet gives me that freedom. The validation from strangers and acquaintances encourages me to post more such pictures. Is it a bad thing? Not in my eyes. Someday these pictures will stop shocking the men around us because they will get used to them.

The first nudes I saw were my friend’s neighbour’s when I was in college. Considering he lived in the outer suburbs of Ahmedabad, his parents were quite progressive and gave him privacy with his DSLR and internet connection. He was (still is) a good looking guy with an average body but the nudes weren’t about his body. They were art and beautiful. He used lighting to focus on certain aspects of his body and the mood. He offered to click my nudes but I turned him down with “I don’t have the body confidence to get naked in front of you and pose for pictures”. I was 18 years old, skinny af and had a flat tummy. I guess confidence has nothing to do with body shape and size. Today, nudes are all around us. There are accounts on IG where women and men post nudes. They get shared in private chats. Internet has made us proud of our bodies and we are not embarrassed about sharing them.

(I did take him up on his offer when my parents wanted pics clicked for matrimonial purposes. This was my form of compromise. They get the pics but who clicks them is my decision. They would get a heart attack if they knew I asked a photographer whose nudes impressed me to click those pics).

Who decides the age of consent? Nobody is waiting to turn 18 years of age to have sex and definitely not to share nudes and sext. According to Indian laws, anyone below 18 years who indulges in sexual activity can be imprisoned even if it is by mutual consent. Richa raises a very important and relevant question. Indian parents will have to deal with these issues in a few years. Should consent be the only decider for what is acceptable and what isn’t? So, if a 13 year old is sharing his/her nudes, that is perfectly ok because he/she is doing it with his/her free will. Maybe it should be a crime only if consent doesn’t exist.

Unsolicited dick pics are a big issue on the internet. If your DMs are open, you are sure to deal with this problem. Let me just say what other women aren’t saying openly – there is nothing sexy about a dick. It isn’t an organ that looks erotic or arouses women. The only gender getting aroused by the size/shape and pics of dicks… are the men sending them. It does nothing for the women. Leave something to the imagination.

Rules to follow when sending a dick pic:

  • Unsolicited dick pics are a NO NO. Absolute No. There is no woman on this planet who will reply to the dick pic. If you are not sure the dick pic is wanted, don’t send it. Just don’t.
  • Send dick pics only when asked for it. Else, it is a NO NO. Absolute No.
  • Basically, wait for the woman to say “Send me your dick pic”. You should re-confirm her intentions by replying with “Was this message meant for me? Are you sure?”

Also, men, if we have to explicitly tell you this, it raises major questions about your gender in my mind.

Overall, this book covers a range of topics and important questions related to sex, porn, sexuality, feminism in porn and how the internet has given us access to explore our minds and bodies and not get limited by morality and society’s shitty rules for us.

Must read.


Down in the dumps

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The fickle nature of human beings never ceases to amaze me. How soon we forget what we wanted and focus on what we don’t have.

The silence on this blog means I am dealing with stuff I don’t want to talk about. It has always been like this. I want to make the effort to write but thinking makes me head ache. The blog isn’t an escape but a reminder. My close friends buzzed me checking to see if everything is ok. Is everything ever ok? When one part of your life is sorted, another part falls apart. Life balancing itself out.

Why do some people find it easy to be happy while others, like me, carry it around 24/7 like a burden? Why is distraction so hard on some days? Why is loneliness not related to friends, family, city, money, health?

Even the person who told me every week “Be positive and positive things will happen to you” hasn’t said it in months.

I am down in the dumps and there is a dark cloud following me everywhere. Getting out of bed has been a struggle and smiling a torture. I wish I believed in astrology and could blame it on Saturn retrograde this month. Or is it the eclipse?

But one thing I have learned is that the key to my happiness is myself. Nobody else. It is hard but would it be worth it if it wasn’t?

“I need to get out of here” is what I tell myself everyday. I don’t know where “here” is. Is it my job? Or the city? Or my head? And what is the guarantee that “there” is going to be better or any different from “here”.

Life is just a bunch of unanswered questions.


Sex in the times of dial up

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I am halfway through the book ‘Cyber sexy – rethinking pornography’ by Richa Kaul Padte. It talks about sex in the digital times. I realised that the easy access to internet has led to an easy access to sex, which is a very good thing. I doubt there are teenagers today who don’t not know the basics of sex. Unlike my generation and those older, sex was closeted. When I entered my teens, the only access to soft porn or titillating stuff was Banegi Apni Baat (which was banned by my mom after the episode where they showed onscreen kissing), Bold and beautiful on Star TV (banned by my mother and could be watched only when she left us unsupervised) and Ila Arun’s ‘Nigodi kaisi jawani hai’. The first time I watched porn was with my boyfriend and I found it disgusting. Sex in porn movies that teenage boys watch is just an act and there is nothing arousing about it. Another male friend would regularly send me clips of porn he thought I would find palatable since he liked ‘hard core’ stuff, whatever that means. But watching a strange, white woman suck someone’s cum isn’t my idea of a ‘good time’.

I hate using the words ‘during my time’ but the world has changed so much, I need to acknowledge am older (not wiser). During our time, women didn’t talk about sex. Even in a girls’ hostel, sex was rarely discussed. You would be lucky if you found one female to talk about your sexual escapades with. And if you got into ‘trouble’ (example, pregnancy, leaked videos or photos etc etc), you were on your own. Telling your parents was out of the question. I remember this one night, I told my 20 year old hostel/college mates about sex while they listened to me wide eyed and fairly disgusted. By then I had attended a sex education class in school, had access to Sidney Sheldon and Mills and Boon, had sex and watched porn. In B school, a few of my female friends admitted they had never watched porn. A guy friend’s laptop full of porn was brought into the girls’ hostel and we watched uninteresting and off putting porn on it.

By the time I attended the sex education class in 9th standard in an all girls’ boarding school taught by a nun, we already knew what sex is. The only thing I remember is the video on abortion. It stayed with me and I decided early on that I never wanted to get an abortion. It made me very diligent with birth control. Of course, now I would rather have an abortion than bring an unwanted child into the world. Pro choice.

I am glad today’s kids have so much information about sex online and there is a virtual world they can experiment with their sexuality.

What we don’t talk enough about is female masturbation. It is taken for granted that all men masturbate. But even 50% (or is it 70%? maybe, 80%?) of the women don’t masturbate which is quite shocking. Masturbation has so many benefits- it helps me fall asleep, it wakes me up on lazy mornings and hit the gym, it keeps me sexually satisfied, it relieves boredom and stress etc etc etc. But most importantly, it helps a woman understand her body and get in touch with her pleasure points. If you don’t know how to pleasure yourself, how will anyone else?

More to follow when I finish the book…