Monday, August 27, 2012

Wah Wah Raam Ji Jodi Kiya Banayi

So we spent the Eid long weekend in Goa..just as the first community to fast would have. Should have! My mother in her Eid phone call said something along the lines of Wah! What An Achievement For The Family. Hamare Khandaan Me Ye Tou Kisi Ne Nahi Kiya Hoga. Hill stations yes, having the family lunch in a restaurant yes. Going to the village, done that. But Goa, no not that.
She is funny that woman, seriously funny.

So coming to the jodi,  though Goa has us all impressed on many many fronts. (enough to ask Gman some 3456.478 times So Why Dont We Live Here? Why Cant You Work From Here? ) Also moaning to my friends Dhatkar Hai Aisi Zindagi Par where you have to sleep in a bed that is not a four poster lace canopy optional, your clothes hanging in a wooden armoire, your feet stepping on a mosaic floor.
What Really Had Me Going Wow! is how cars (and the occasional scooter) are so color coordinated to their surrounds. 
One Sunday afternoon as the lanes siesta-ed, the  strains of an opera wafted through lace curtained windows, mid afternoon sonatas rather than (hangs head in shame) dhinchak dhinchak , mai aur mera camera aksar ye baate karte

Peace Out Bro! Its Sukh Sagar Haven of Peace Indeed

Yes, Mera Wala Peela

Oh how the green of the scooty picks up the foliage in the hanging baskets. Kamaal Hai

Not Fantastic1 Not Knock Your Socks Off. Just Appropriate. Munasib si Taleem

Oh The Crisp Clean Lines

There will be other pics from the trip ..and hopefully Goa inspired words popping up.
For after a long long time being domestic in Delhi we have started embracing travel again.
On moments like this I channel my inner Juhi Chawla making her debut in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak.
ab qismat ne hume aisi rah pe daal diya hai ke na jaane kab tak yoo gol gol bathakte phirenge tou thoda bahut ek doosre ke baare me jaana acha hota hai
Acha hota hai na (Insert Puppy Dog Eyes)
Some people memorized their Physics Notes
I stuck to filmy lines.
As I Happy Houred in Goa, my thoughts did flit to them for a moment or two and I wondered a little how  that worked out for them

Now my song for today.
Its cliched
Its very 80s
But then I would not have it any other way

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The "Just Married, Please Excuse" Contest

yes it is amazing how much I can milk that day for!  Full paisa vasool signing that register I say.
So pehle the rules:

It's really very, very simple - 

1. You write a post on your blog, describing an incident aboutsomething funny that has happened to you as a part of married life, preferably when you were 'Just Married'. (By 31st August 2012)

2. HarperCollins and I (WHERE I IS Ms. YASHODHARA LAL) select the 20 best entries and they will be sent copies of her book; and 10 Delhi-based bloggers get to join her and VK Karthika, (Chief Editor of HarperCollins and all round super-cool person) for a leisurely Saturday lunch at the new Mamagoto outlet in Gurgaon for some really great food ( I'm told the Khan Market outlet is never less than packed, and for good reason). Oh, and there'll be some good conversation too :).

Some things to keep in mind to be eligible for this contest: (Yashodhara  picked these up fromParul's earlier contests)

1. The Title of your post should be The 'Just Married, Please Excuse' Contest 
2. Please include in your post a link back to this post, so that your blog readers know what the heck is going on, and more people can participate.
3. Please leave a link to your entry in the comments section to this post.
4. In case you don't have a blog of your own, do leave your entry in the comments section to this post and we will consider that story, too. In case you face issues while commenting, email me your story at yashodhara dot lal at gmail dot com (But only up to two such comment/email entries can win, so you better make it funny)
5.Note -If you're not married, but still want to participate, you can do it - just tell us about a funnyJust Married story about someone you know! 

OK now getting to my entry. I will concentrate on the JUST. So Just So JUST that the ink on the nikahnama is still wet and liable to smudge your fingers. (Dear Ms Y, I should get 5 extra marks just for this). I will also for the 20 bonus points give you  examples of wackiness in my family when it comes to all things nuptial over three generations and some more. Wah! wah! For as my sister quoted one day "Insanity does not run in my family. Rather, it strolls through, taking its time, getting to know everyone personally"..and what better occasion to show you this,  than when we are just done I-doing

Let us begin with my grandfather. Solid aadmi, pucca JAG officer, proud Father of the Bride.  Fifteen minutes post wedding lunch. The boy's family (bear in mind the groom is the only son, sisters ready to rock this party) just getting into the groove, the bride (youngest daughter of the family (maa ki ladli, apple of dad's eye) is settling in for a prolonged crying "bid the bride" goodbye session once all the dancing is done. 
The Father of the Bride looks at his watch. Ab aisa hai its siesta time for me now. So if you are leaving now, tou I will see the couple to the door. Otherwise best of luck kids. Toodle-loo!
This is my family's commitment to their mid-afternoon shut eye. Impressed?
Kamaal hai! Brigadier sahib had his lunch, saw off the newly married couple, drove his family home, settled in for his afternoon snooze and still had time to read the morning papers.

And then there are the cousins. One has just had her nikah read to the love of her life. Everyone has said their duas and are congratulating each other. For some insane reason her younger sister has been referring to the brother-in-law as Mamoo (maternal uncle) for most of her young adult life. I am sure it has been explained This Must Stop. He aint even a brother. "CONGRATULATIONS MAMA! FINALLY MY BROTHER IN LAW" her voice pipes up. Maulvi sahib (subtitles) SWEET JESUS! WHAT IN THE @#$%% HAVE I LANDED MYSELF INTO! LETS GO THROUGH THAT NIKAH-NAAMA AGAIN.

And then there was me. 
Who had decided many many years ago that  she would not do something as plebian as get married khudaya!
But well one day I realized I had to either marry the guy or put him on some kind of pension for services rendered over a decade.
But of course I would not "settle down" for the typical typical smile benignly from a sofa on a stage, ghoonghat to her knees, fifteen kids pulling my dupatta, aunts counting one's necklaces, booking a shaadi hall, or settling for one of those garden  banuets. No, no my day is going to be different. Far from the madding crowds. There will be water, yes. Check. Sun set, mellow light, check. Angrez type celebrant, yes! And food which has no Urdu subtitles. Also passion fruit consomme curlicues when they slice up the cake. Does your firni come with that hainjee?
So this was the venue.
Please admire.


I was wearing a little bit of the new, a little bit of the old world
All set for a  classy sunset ceremony by the sea. First road block. The make up artist. You mention South Asia. You add wedding. And she has googled Bollywood Heroines and I look like Baby Nimmi meets Jaya Prada. 
And then as you drive to the venue you understand what the caterer meant by "you do know what date it is?" It is the evening of the Grand Final, the most important day in the sports calendar for a football crazy city.. The city puts up giant screens in parks and grounds so everyone can follow it. There will be a lot of beer, barbie (BBQ) and boyz involved. And then there is me,  all decked up. So I did not want crowds ogling at me in my wedding finery? Did not want to be up on a wedding stage, cameras going crazy?
 well was it or was it not poetic justice that I find myself crossing the road wearing my mother’s wedding gharara with football fans, toddlers, uncles , auntyji, picnic hampers, cars honking away, . .. and the other half of the city going Hai! Woh Dekho Dulhan.

I will end with its not someone from my family, but someone I knew as a kid. Some time earlier this year this pic went viral. It was part of the mehendi (pre-wedding) celebrations. The groom's friends dressed up as Darth Vader and I believe StormTrooper meets Feudal Lord Henchman. The groom came and "fought" with DarthVader for his girl. I think the bride just decided to get her Princess Leia costume back from the dry cleaners in time for the wedding.

Now if this doesn't get me a seat at your table Yashodara, I don't know what will.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Chaand mera dil Chaandni Ho Tum

The other day there was a meme on Twitter ..something along the lines of IF PARTITION HAD NOT HAPPENED..of course there was much hand wringing on the Super Cricket Team,  driving down to Lahore for Iftaris..but looking back at the year so far I would be meh..nothing would have changed. Perhaps we would have had twice as many Ruet e Hilal Committees failing to spot the Ramzan et Eid moon.
For now as Eidi may I leave you with some pics of our travels this year so far.
Uttrankhad nee Uttranchal and Orchha and Khajuraho from the enigmatic Madhya Pradesh
Tera Hai Na Mera Hai yeh hai Tehri Dam

Quick check for Mandakini frolicking under a waterfall. OK beta this  is Gangotri and the other -dhams

Khajuraho--and the blush of an apsara's  cheek.  Uff  the karigari  of  yore

Jahangir Mahal, Orchha

But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?--Orchha division

For you know Ladies Parks are so  last year

Jahangir Mahal, know the Changa Manga of yester year . Some things dont change  

The Mile High Club Then and Now

Rough cut. Woody Allen's Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Kaise karun mein bayaan dil ki nahi hai zubaan Aaiye meherbaan baithiye jaane jaan

Seriously how does one? I have a major "Mother, may I ?" moment coming up. But I am mighty chuffed at the mention, so without much ado I will direct you towards An Indian's Summer's home tour of my ghareeb khaana
Whether you click on it is of course all up to you.

What I have no qualms recommending is Yashodara Lal's and Diptakirti Chaudhri's book projects that were out just a couple of weeks ago. Diptakirti I have long "patronized" as I found shades of Dibakar Banerjee (both Bengalis in Delhi finding work in Bombay) and now Yashodara assures me of her Some percentage of Bongness sometimes Bombay sometimes Delhi-ness so I am taking all this VERY SERIOUSLY.

So on to Yashodara and her latest baby JUST MARRIED PLEASE EXCUSE

But before that two confessions.

Though I firmly believe that books make for the best present, I usually gift people a book voucher rather than gifting them a book per se..this as I believe "imposing" my taste in books or what the NYT BestSeller is telling us a particular week, equals a well-meaning aunt steering you towards the trial room "Oh but sweetheart this colour looks so GREAT on you". So, there are very few books that allow me to rethink my cardinal rule "THOU SHALT NOT FORCE"

Now coming to my second disclosure (we will come back to the first a bit later)there was a reason why I pre-booked Yashodara Lal's first novel without biting my finger nails down,"Would it do OK?" Something along the lines of why I do not stress that much when a Dipankar Banerjee releases or a Kashyap (they will do fine)
while I would for a Reema Kagti (her work is edgy, and I love it but would the audiences be kind and make it a hit?)

Yashodara's words have been a friend for a long, long time (she runs a really brilliant blog--and contrary to popular opinion, that the first novel is the fine art of recycling the Best Of, "Just Married, Please Excuse" is the actual act after she is done making her opening jokes on the blog.

So as I was saying Lal's words have been a friend during a particular turbulent time in my personal (and South Asia's) political history. Yes sometimes the personal IS political, and 2008 with all the nightmares that plagued Islamabad and Bombay, the two cities of my heart; and my own questions about being pregnant, it were Lal's words that kept me from going to a very dark, dark, place in my mind.

Her book, which has been launched just this month will be the new Chicken Soup for the Angst Ridden Woman. It has been on my bedside all of this week and though I finished it (as I do most books that I love) the first night of its arrival, I have been reaching out to it and re-reading certain parts. Scratch the chicken soup reference, it is my dark chocolate for days when I am mom to a pre-schooler and fasting for Ramzan. If this doesnt get you running to the book store I do not know what will!

"Just Married, Please Excuse" is not just about relationships in an increasing urbanizing India, or about small time India meeting an increasingly fast paced and demanding big city,or even all the cliches of modern marriage and the pressures of love (lives) in the times of cleaning baby poop. It is about how in spite of all the talk of new "truths" for new times, of growing up in a time when a significant section of young South Asia is living away from their families, with a good number choosing to live in, modern relationships (with all my anxieties of using the word MODERN) and modern South Asia might not be that different from that of the generation before. Also if both partners in a relationship have some "team rules" (I refuse to use the word "compromise") they will get by with the help of their friends, and sometimes SPOILER ALERT their parents.


Yesterday evening I visited a new mum. Along with the ubiquitous cute dress for the baby and chocolates for the new parents, I made a goody bag for the new mother which I hope will keep her sane once the happy hormones start wearing off. That goody bag contained a copy of "Just Married...."

Consider it 260 pages of pure endorphin.

And Chaudhri's KITNAY AADMI THAY  will fingers (and toes crossed) become the Dil Chahta Hai of our generation. It is cool, shuns away from The Formula, but is still reverential to the dictum that Script is King (and will remain forever the book you wish you had written/film you had made). 

Other than Desai's "Nehru's Hero Dilip Kumar: In the Life of India" I have yet to read anything that unpacks the tale of how life in South Asia imitates art and vice versa how/what we watched reflected the life and times of a particular generation.

It will also put many a younger sister or frenemy out of commission--you know the one with which you have a standing agreement, that you may conduct a Cold War with them all month but you can wake them up at 2am with niggling questions of (film related) life (Neeley Neeley Amber Par is the soundtrack to ?, who went "Pallo" in a movie and ruined three years of a good crush, who was Anita Raj and which one was Amrita Singh). KAT answers all those queries and then some more.

Anyone who knows me knows how seriously I take my Bollywood, and how I frown on pretenders to the "I Too Love Bollywood" mantle (as a certain "academic" who tried his hand at Bolly history may tell you)..some may say the only reason I submitted the Phd dissertation was to prove to mom and disapproving relatives that a lifetime of watching Bollywood and TV does AMOUNT to something (Ive sneaked that somewhere in the acknowledgments ) when I say THIS BOOK IS IMPORTANT I do not write in jest.

When it comes to what constitutes as religion for us desis: Chaudhri has given us his take on two, Cricket and Bollywood (read his Cricket! All You Wanted To Know about the World Cup! if you have not already); and accomplished it quite admirably what remains now is his tome on Politics. 

He could of course just hurry up with the sequel to KAT.

You trust me dont you?

So settle down, draw up a chair, read a book ...or just visit the links and tell me did I pass your critic's test or not?