January 31, 2012

Freedom of choice is just a word (or three)

Once upon a time, in a land not far from where you are (right where you are, in fact) was a different world. It didn't have the internet, or Rajdeep Sardesai, or this newfangled concept of your life being an *open book*.

I could be biased here, but I think it was interesting, for starters.

You couldn't go to a museum knowing what was inside. You couldn't travel to a foreign country with a street view in your palm.

No checking of menu before trying a new restaurant.

No videos of how it actually feels to be a bungee jumper.

Not even any articles on life in Delhi, when you considered moving.

No tweets by movie stars with bad grammar, about their breakfasts. No unwanted information on the two hours spent in makeup.

No second-guessing by friends and family. No zillionth point of reference for your life, reducing you and everyone else to the greatest common denominator.

No ready voice in the background, telling you why you're wrong. No body of proof, ready to be drawn from Google, twenty friends and eleven relatives.

No nth album of Goa pictures, or wedding pictures, out there to prove to you that no matter how shiny and perfect you thought yours was, someone's was better.

No location tagging. No tedious updates about who is where, especially when you're at home on a Saturday night.

No outrage wars, no empty protest marches, no instant activism for the generation with an attention deficit.


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Yes, this blog is becoming a little too philosophical. I promise the next post will cover all the usuals: Uday Chopra, Gujjus, blonde women, SRK, Rakhi Sawant... you get the drift.

January 22, 2012

Killing Them Slowly

Dear Readers,

Bear with me as for once - just this once - this blog gets a little bit girly. No, scratch that. Feminine. Because that always sounds better, right?

I read this article a couple of days ago about women's clothing. Click this.

Now call me slow, but this gave me one of those blinding flashes of the obvious. This is a global problem. I thought this was about me, or Indian stores, or my overall penniless-ness and consequent lack of access to fancy brands.

Obviously not. It's the bloody manufacturers.

Because women's clothing, frankly, is a pain. Bags are a pain. Shoes are a pain. Hell, even the conventional idea of how to do your hair is a pain.

Everything in every high end store caters to a tall thin woman with small hips and very little flab. Where is this mythical goddess? No one knows. Often, increasing sizes account fully for increasing heights but not at all for girth. This naturally makes you wonder who buys them. Answer: The lineup of supermodels that you see at Palladium on weekend mornings and afternoons. Just them. (Want to know more? Read Avantika's post here.)

Here we are. A nation of short, well-rounded (heh!) women. No long legs. No 22 inch waists. Definitely no 30 inch hips. And yet, someone wants to convince us that we can look good in skinny jeans. And Levi's wants to make an ad for *curvy* women showing 3 types of jeans for different "types" of curves, except that they all look exactly the same - skinny.

Let's talk about footwear. Buying anything at all is usually a tiring exercise. Footwear, more so, and chances are no matter what you buy, you'll regret it. Why? Because:
1. All formal shoes will give you shoe bites within 3 days of wearing them. (Not to mention all formal shoes have zero grip and maximum potential for slipping, tripping and falling.)
2. All comfortable shoes will make you look like Mayawati.
3. All pretty-and-comfortable shoes will make you wonder if you should have bought something with a heel.

Bags? Here we're all at fault. We want our bags to fit in a book, our phone charger, wallet, keys, makeup, sunglasses, glasses, lenses, lens solution, dabba, bottle of water, disposable soap, a newspaper and if possible, a laptop. Result? Gargantuan beasts that usually come with as many shiny straps and buckles as a dozen cowboys. Result a month later? Perpetual shooting pain through 1 shoulder and 1 leg.

Hair? Hairdressers are the scum of the earth. To justify their highway robbery, they will push to give you the most *unique* haircut in the city. Maybe something short enough to make you worry that you're a boy. Or asymmetrical. Or worse - bangs. Which normal woman can put up with bangs without a desire to staple bits of paper to her own forehead? And this is just the earnest ones who want to have earned their fee. The non-assiduous ones will be happy to spray a lot of water on you, trim all of it a little, and say, "You like?" with such fierceness that you feel obliged to say that you love it.

But no matter what kind of hairdresser you're up against, no matter whether you want them to cut your hair, or trim it, or lop it all off - one thing is common. They thrive on doomsday prophecies. The minute you're in the damn chair, they're tut-tutting at your hair and how *damaged* it is. How you need a hair spa (no points for guessing, this is usually very expensive.) How dry it is. How oily it is. How straight it is. How curly it is. How they found 3 split ends. How they found 1 white strand. How your hairfall (whether it's 1 or 100 a day) is abnormal. How you'll be bald in a year.

Then they ask you asinine questions like "Don't you use an egg?" Good God, obviously I don't. It stinks, I don't have the time, aney this is a pure vegetarian Gujarati household. (Even if I did have the time, it'd be a sad waste to spend in a bathroom, cracking an egg on my head and waiting for my hair to absorb all the muck.) Better still, "Do you use public transport?" Answer: If I keep coming here and spending my life's savings on you trying to make me feel bad about my normal hair, I won't even have money for public transport.

The next time you assume your co-worker is sniping at you because of PMS, consider this: She has very likely come to the office in uncomfortable pants, in a train filled with fisherwomen, then walked on a road in high heels looking for a cab, carrying about 7 kilos of weight on one shoulder - and all this is fresh on top of her hairdresser saying yesterday that he wouldn't give her hair 6 months. And this is just the beginning of the day. It is extremely probable that lunchtime means just a salad thanks to the Struggle Against Worse Pants.

Enough, I say. Why do men get away with a 50 rupee haircut, 2 pairs of shoes (total), 1 comfortable bag and 5 pairs of almost-identical, comfortable clothing? Because no one can convince a man that he's not a stud to begin with. Ladies, very important lesson there.

Don't believe me about this? Check out the Zara website. Now visualise a normal sized Indian female friend. Fit A onto B. Have a nice day. :)