How time flies

It feels weird to get back to writing after 2 years. I happened to chance upon a blog of a friend today (who frankly never struck as the writer type) and i remembered that once upon a time ,yeah it had come to that, I had a blog of my own too. And here i am. Doesn’t feel weird at all. There have been too many changes in my life in the past two years that I can take stock of with one blog post.

To sum up, I am still in India and living in a new city. Life has definitely turned for the better and I can see the shining horizon every moment of the day. My love for nature still accounts for 20% of my thoughts and my jokes are still as funny as ever.

For this after-break post, I have a beautiful poem which i happened to write last night

woh jo samah hua karta tha
jab hum mila karte the yu
jab tumne mera haath thama tha
aur pal mein sama ho gaye hum tum
zindagi hume kis mod par le aayi dekho
aaj kaha jana hai hume, hume nehi koi khabar
par bharosa hai mujhe ki tum
aa jaoge wapas mere dilbar

yuhi ankhein mat fera karo
ek baar meri tarf dekh liya toh karo
jaha pyaar ho dil ka lagam
na jane iska kya hai anjam
tum mere se door mat ho jana
bas yehi hai mere dil ka kehna
is bahane kabhi paas toh aao tum mere
hum banaye dilo ki ek nayi daastan

This poem sure takes cheesiness to a new level altogether, which I am sure my benarasi friend would appreciate.

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The Indian state of mind

I am an Indian born in India and have lived here for 20 years; stepping out of the country for only six months of my life.

To the average outsider/firangi/non-Indian who has only imagined India through the eyes of the television, newspaper and internet India is a concoction of the following three pictures; well mainly

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Colour

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The Great Indian Bazaar

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Bollywood

But what the  tourist does not get to see, in it’s full extent, is the Lives and Times of the Average Indians.

India is a land of contrast. Not that no country is. But India presents stark contrast.

High rise buildings are seen behind a slum in Mumbai

Aam aadmi living alongside Khas aadmi

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The vehicle of the 21st century? Going back in time

India has often been described as a “Rich country where poor people live”. While this is not entirely true, the implications of such a remark cannot be ignored. Firstly to discuss, what is meant by a rich country? Rich in resources is my guess. And poor in what sense? Lifestyle? Or cash-in-hand? According to the census of 2011-2012, India’s population is 121 crore and people living below poverty line are 27 crore. This comes up to 22.3 %.

Today in the paper i read that Indian billionaires form the 6th largest group in the world. Precisely 103 billionaires live in India at the moment. And India houses 95% of them. That comes to a mere 0.0000036% of India’s population!

The per capita income of an Indian is INR5729So where does all the money go to? I can think of only one such place: the pockets of Indian ministers. But that is a topic for another day. Today i would like to draw your attention to the classes of Indians living in India and the workings of their mind.

First to start off with the poorest of the poor. The labour class. The one who does odd kinds of jobs to support his family. He works as the construction worker at the nearby metro construction site or as a sweeper at the local school. He does not have time to indulge in baseless conversations. He enjoys the food his wife cooks for him and the occasional bidi. His wife works as the maid at 7 houses. Sometimes cooking, sometimes washing the clothes and the dishes. They have at least 2 kids and 3 if the first two are girls. The highest education the kids will ever receive is class 10 pass. If the kids are girls they will be married off between the ages of 15-19. If it’s a boy, he will start earning by the age of 13.

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Bidi – the poor man’s tobacco

To show the contrast let us consider a typical upper class Indian family. The husband has a business, either textiles or industrial. The lady does not work, she only does kitty party or makes an occasional appearance at the charity organised by her husband. She is the glamour quotient of the family at parties, of which they are seen at 4 times a week. They have 2 kids. They both are educated at the best of schools and colleges in India. The boy has been groomed to take over the fathers’ business. And the girl has been groomed to be shown-off to others at gatherings, for when the mother is not at the top of her game. When the kids are not attending family parties with their parents, they can be seen a parties hosted by their friends at the poshest of clubs and restaurants with the choicest of gadgets.

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The Big Fat Indian Wedding

Mind you, the pictures you see of the Big Fat Indian Wedding are not a farce! These wedding do happen but they happen only in the families of the upper class Indians. Not that i’m complaining, but just so you know its not a regular affair for most Indians, only for the bracketed ones.

And the third and most interesting category of individuals to be found in the nation belongs to that of the middle class Indian. The typical middle class Indian family consists of the father, mother, father’s father and mother(in case of a joint family), kids – 1(specially in the now trendy nuclear families) or 2(mostly) or 3 or 4(rare). The father works in the service sector doing the 9-5 job, which can easily be said now to be 11-7. He works either in the public sector or private sector, both are prevalent. The mother is also well educated and works too. The kids were sent to good schools, and upon their educational capabilities they were enrolled in colleges. But all’s not too good in this chhota parivaar, sukhi parivaar (small family, happy family) scenario.

The bills are-a-mounting, the kids want to study abroad or worse yet want to take a year drop and find their way in the world(!), the wife is concerned about her daughter’s wedding and had started buying gold 5 years past, the parents are wanting to go to rishikesh,benaras,haridwar for the umpteenth time before their final calling and the husband still cannot find time to watch the last test match series of Sachin’s life on the LG LCD HD TV he bought on his family’s insistence!

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Barring class divides, there are other norms which pertain to every Indian. India has been highly publicised/criticised (depends on the border of your mind) for the following:

1. Marriage – Should be arranged. There’s nothing called love before marriage. All love happens after marriage. Once married to someone, you are bound to be together for the next seven lives (Re-incarnation is a big thing in India). Gen Y is changing that with extramarital affairs, pre-marital sex, high divorce rates.

2. Education – There is nothing else worth studying in India other than engineering and medicine. If you are not a student of either, your life is a waste.

Excerpts:

Beta, what are you doing now?”

“Aunty, English honours at So and So college.”

Aunty (clearly dissapointed), “You should have studied harder in class 12 no, then you would not have had to suffer now.”

“Aunty, but i’m not suffering, i like the subject hence i willingly got into it.”

“English Honours is a thing to study kya? Didn’t you already study it in school?” Aunty walks away to take up the matter with fellow aunties.

I hope recent trends by Gen Y in taking up more liberal arts courses are changing Aunty’s perception.

3. Religion –

DISCLAIMER: This is specifically for Hindus in India. I am not taking into account other religions.

We dont ask you to pray only 5 times a day, but more. You should be able to recognise by face/clothes/background/number of hands/hairstyle/pet animal/instrument in hand/self-defence weapon/number of eyes  the top 20 Hindu gods(there are 6 billion Hindu deities according to the Vedas) by the time you are 10. This is a part of home education, the syllabus of which will never change.

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Indian god’s pop art

 

4.  Making tea – The most crucial part of home education, which goes hand-in-hand with serving your elders is the art of making tea. Whether you be with an iPhone in your pocket or Nokia , when your elders ask you to make tea, you leave every pending work and go into the kitchen to make tea.

5. Dance – You are expected to dance at every function, barring funerals. And dance well. And remember the lyrics to all the all-time popular Bollywood songs and sing them along while you dance. And wear colourful clothes. The distant hint of a music should stir up something so magical in you that automatically you will get up from your seat and start grooving your waist and hands in sync and tap your feet simultaneously and shake your head as well and not pant even once and then and then only will you be deemed the Grand Dancer of the family. Inability to do this every time you are asked to, will result in great humiliation the likes of which will prevent you from showing up at other family functions.

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All a game of angles and attitude.

P.S This is supposed to be inherent. Sadly it cannot be built.

Disclaimer: This post is not an attempt to boost  the tourism sector of the country. The only purpose this post serves to provide is to present the Indian state of mind.

This post will be followed by another one which will attempt to analyze the workings of the New Age 21st century Indian and Indian Sadhus.

The Bihari in Me

It is 2013 and we live in modern India where every other child – from the helper at the tea stall to the student who aspires to go abroad for further education- aspires to speak the very best English he knows and showcase it to his audience at disposal, namely his associates. I, on the other hand, acknowledge very proudly that I can speak Bhojpuri with as much fluency as I can speak Bengali.

For reference, Bengali is my mother tongue ( it is actually the language spoken at my paternal grandparent’s house, I really don’t know why we call it mother tongue!) and Sindhi is my mother tongue(the actual mother tongue, as it is spoken at my maternal grandparents’ house) and Hindi is our national language. And English is our official language. Ironically, among all I am the most fluent in English in all aspects of language measurement tests i.e. reading, writing and conversing. And Bhojpuri, which seemingly should have no link to my life in any way forms the central crux of it, at least till this phase lasts.

Let me rewind back here a bit and explain the background of the language. Bhojpuri is the language spoken in Bihar, the most backward state in India since our independence. For long and even still Bihar has been associated with corrupt politicians, riot-loving-people and low literacy rate. But there is another side to the story. Bihar is the only consistent Indian state to be credited for sending a record breaking number of IAS/IPS/IFS officers, every year, to serve the nation. Although every Indian knows this little fact about Biharis, they are often looked down upon in a society of sophisticated people. And the main factor which contributes to this humongous loss to the nation is the language spoken by them. BHOJPURI.

Bhojpuri is often called in an Indian colloquial way as Dehati, or village-like. I agree the way they speak it, it does sound like. Maybe because of the extended way of lazy talk, or replying back to a question with another question or maybe because they say Kahe and mind it, kahe pretty much sums it up for non-biharis.

I am ashamed to admit that even I was one among them, the wannabe sophisticated people with all their posh English and intellectual talks. But college changed it all for me, where I became great friends with a guy from Benaras. He had a slight Bhojpuri-cum-Benarasi-cum-UPite accent and I got influenced very quickly. So much so, I began saying, pankha toh band kar do na or batti toh bujha do na and hum nehi na bataye the tumko. I admit most of it stemmed from the fact that my friends found it hilarious, but then I saw Gangs of Wasseypur and practised it like a religion. My parents were disturbed, they thought I was planning to shift to Bihar and settle there permanently. At a point even I was shocked by my vulgarity while talking in Bhojpuri. But to my credit I found that some 90 million people speak the language, so not all hell will break loose if I get added to it. Seriously people, give the language some credit! Actually, I apologise. I don’t need credit. In fact please don’t give it any credit at all. If you have continued your existence till now without giving any sensible thought to the language, you do not deserve to give it credit now.

For those of you who are still reading, you must be curious as to why a 21st century girl would be interested in learning Bhojpuri. And the answer is that, it is a beautiful language. As sweet as Bengali sounds to hear and Gujrathi to say. Indians have so long marked it as a lowly language and even Biharis refrain from talking in Bhojpuri when they live outside Bihar. But I hope this post can change the mind set of at least one person.

Letter to my 40 year old self

Hello,

To start off with, I sincerely hope you are not a divorcee living a lonely life (with maybe a kid along the way? :/) in some obscure Indian town.

Now that we have that cleared, i also hope you have been to Japan at least twice in your really long stay on Earth. And also you should have a pretty good grasp over Japanese and French by now. Papa didn’t pay for all those lessons for you to ogle at boys.

Oh and you better not have a job as a data crunching analyst, at the windowless office, for the videshi MNC. Rather you shouldn’t be working for any MNC. And it goes without saying, your priorities in life must be set straight for you to be able to catch up on at least two movies every week.

Now, now, don’t go about thinking i have unrealistic expectations from you, or life in general, but you must know that you were meant for something great. I know i used the correct adjective, but i can’t figure out what that “something” is supposed to be. Given your age, you should have that figured out.

Aur haan idhdhar udhdhar ki baatein, vagera vagera toh rahengi hi. I hope your materialistic indulgences are not so much as they were at the time of me writing this letter. Also, lest i forget, you should have travelled to Turkey, Lebanon and  Jordan. Actually, on second thoughts, as i have assumed that you are not working for a videshi company, you wouldn’t have much money to spend anyway (unless you married a really rich man); so, any one of them would do just as well. And you should have learnt to be in sync with your inner self. All those mornings papa spent with you trying to make you meditate shouldn’t be a waste either. Just so you know, at the time of me writing this, yoga was a very big deal in USA; so by now, it should be a big deal in China as well. So now you know, just in case nothing else works out in your life, you can give yoga lessons at 100$/hour to mechanical Chinese people.

That’s a lot of hope a 20 year old could have from a 40 year old. But as a parting thought you must know that this article isn’t about getting your life right, but rather about giving your all to every decision you take.

Yours truly,                                                                                                                                                                                                             DGB

You knew you grew up in India in 90s

1. Parle-G Biscuits

Because it was value for money biscuit and tasted good.

Parle G

2. Shaktimaan

Because he was our first desi superhero and we just could not get enough of him.

mukesh

 

Superman and Spiderman still had a long way to go before their foray into mainstream Indian entertainment.

3. Doordarshan

The first channel we knew existed and only for the sole purpose of watching Shaktimaan. The only other purpose the channel served was to help you get bored to sleep.

Doordarshan

4. Hum Paanch

Because every Indian girl knew she was similar to one of the five girls on the show.

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And that fact that Vidya Balan had acted in it then made absolutely no difference to us.

4. If you spent a lot of time figuring out which one was better

Big Babool or Boomer

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But it did not matter, because wrigley’s wiped out the market soon enough

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5. You got used to seeing two roses kissing and electric lightning and hearing sound of thunder at the start of any passionate scene in a Bollywood movie.

 

6. When you played Mario and Alladin on the PC

images (1) super-mario-bros-duck-hunt-u-_001

 

8. Acronyms like  DDLJ, DTPH, KKHH, HAHK make complete sense to us

220px-Kuch_Kuch_Hota_Hai_DVD_Cover hum-aapke-hain-koun

10. When you have seen Antakshari on the tv so many times, yet you do not remember anyone else other than Anu Kapoor being on the show

antakshari001 hqdefault (2)

11. Sunday morning tv meant “Jungle Jungle Baat Chali Hai Pata Chala Hai! Chaddi Pehen Ke Phool Khila Hai Phool Khila Hai!” The Jungle Book aired every Sunday morning at 9.a.m and we just loved mowgli, bhalu and bagheera.

jungle book

For elders, and especially if you have grandparents living with you, Sunday mornings could also very sadly turn into Mahabharata with the televised series of the epic tale aired on Doordarshan. Which tormented child can forget the unmistakable sound of “Mahabhaaaaaaaaaraata” playing in the background during the show?

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12. When you catch yourself humming the tune of “Main to raste se jaa raha tha, Main to Bhelpuri Kha Raha Tha. Tujhe mirchi Lagi to Main Kya Karoon.”

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13.

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Because you were bored of listening to Vico Turmeric then and now.

Vicco Turmeric,Nahi cosmetic.
Vico Turmeric Ayurvedic Cream
Keel-Muhaso ko Jad Se MItaaye
Haldi-Chandan ke Gun Ismein Samaye.
Twacha ki Raksha Kare, Ayurvedic Cream
Vico Turmeric WSO cream.

14. And also

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Ghadi detergent-Pehele istemal kare fir vishwas kare

15.When we thought of MTV in 90s, Cyrus Brocha was the main face.

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He was the coolest thing back then on the tv.

16. When you watched it badly to impress that girl, in your class, with your quizzing ability.

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17. When you know which detergent brand hema rekha jaya aur sushma like.

Washing powder nirma
Washing powder nirma
Doodh si safedi
Nirma se aaye
Rangeen kapde bhi
Khil khil jaaye
Sabki pasand nirma…
Washing powder nirma

Nirma_0 nirma-dancing-girl

Nirma

18. Because Windows 98 was in vogue and Road Rash was the third coolest game around. Nothing gave us more pleasure than beating the policeman who came chasing after us.

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19. When lattu, gilli danda, golli were not played for the sake of passing time, but as a matter of prestige.

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20. Also when it was raining outside, you’d rather just play with your trump cards. Of American WWE stars.

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21. When Frooti came in green packets and not yellow

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22. Every school kid had a Milton Water Bottle hung around their necks.

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23. Maruti 800 was the car of the decade and Ambassador came second.

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24. Yeh dil maange more was not a movie but a style statement

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25. Casettes and tape recorders were still considered cool

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26. Fashion TV was the only thing closest to Porn.

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27. Excite Bike

Again, the 4th coolest game of the last decade.

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28. Brick Game

Who hasn’t spent hours at this?

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29. Because summers meant chuski and rooh-afza

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32. Because Melody was there way before Eclairs

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31. Because this gadget was as cool as it got

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A new guide to Engrish

For those who are unaware of the joke on the title, it is a tease on Japanese language. The alphabet ‘L’ is absent in the Japanese script and hence they replace every ‘L’ in foreign words with ‘R’. Please do not think that i am mocking the Language or the accent or their inability to pronounce L in any way in this post. I am a Japanese language student and it gives me immense pleasure to study the language. In fact, it is one of the few things i enjoy doing by myself. The only thing this post aims to serve is enjoyment while you get to know about some really fun Japanese pronunciation.

To start of with i should tell you that Japanese pronounce syllabus as they come. And also that they tend to add a vowel after every consonant.

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アラームAlarm Araamu

アルバム Album  Arabamu

エアポート Airport Eapooto

アドバンスド Advanced Adobansudo

スリッパ Slippers  Surippa

リットル Litter Rittoru

ライブ Live Raibu

ドル Dollar Doru

ラブ Love Rabu

レシピ Recipe Reshipi

スライド Slide Suraido

テレビ Television Terebi

チケット Ticket Chiketto

ワクチン Vaccine Wakuchin

ナチュラル  ミネラル   ウォーター  Natural mineral water Nachuraru mineraru waataa

ウイルス Virus Uirusu

ビデオ Video Bideo

テレホン・カード Telephone card Terehon Kaado

システム System Shisutemu

スライド Slide Suraido

ラバー Rubber Rabaa

レストラン Restaurant Resutoran

ホテルHotel Hoteru

バックミラー Rearview mirror Bakkumiruu

プリン Pudding Purin

プラスチック Plastic Purasuchikku

ピクセル Pixel Pikuseru

リキッド Liquid Rikiddo

ヘッドライン Headline Heddorain

エキサイト Excitement Ekisaito

スリル Thrill Suriru

ドットコム Dot COM Dottokomu

パートタイムPart-time Paato taimu

フルタイムFull-time Furu taimo

デジカメ Digital camera Dejikame

カップル Couple Koppuru

クリップ Clip Kurippu

クラブ Club Kurabu

コラム Column Koramu

キャッツ Cats Kyattsu

ブレイク Break Bureiku

Imbibing Western culture via sit-coms

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This is my way of showing appreciation to the new-age heralds of 20th and 21st century American sit-com shows into India. This is one of the main reasons as to why i still watch TV. But that is a topic for some other day. Today i would like to talk about why when i meet up with my friends today, the first thing we say is “they introduced the mother on HIMYM!!” This one show,like many others, have shaped up our teen and young adult years into one of a global phenomenon where i am not deprived of topics to talk on with another teen residing in, lets say, Connecticut. Amazingly enough, although i still know which show is India has the highest TRP ratings i also know how critically acclaimed MAD MEN is in the west and i can’t wait to see how Draper will transform Peggy’s career. But what i don’t get is whether this addiction is for the better or for worse?

Because when Blake Lively walked down the streets of NYC for Gossip Girls, i fell in love with the city and i could imagine myself walking down it one day as well. Another interesting change i observed in myself was in my way of talking. I incorporated new western words/ phrases into my speech with perfect exclamatory slangs. Well i do like this phase i am going through right now, but i’m unsure as to how long it will last and if it does last long, how will i like it if i’m still here at the end of all that time?