Thursday, April 06, 2006

Cosmophilia


I have been wondering about the Cosmopolitan magazine lately.

They say it’s a girlie thing, but show me a man who doesn’t like sneaking into its lascivious world. We read the magazine covertly, and devour the girls over and over again, but never admit we like reading it. And nobody knows this better than the Cosmopolitan management.

Here’s a sampler from the April issue of the UK edition (sadly the Indian one loses it totally). These are the screaming blurbs on the cover:

1) Real Couple: Sex swap (Four couples, one week, more positions that you can imagine)
2) Read his love signals
3) The sexual-health parasites who prey on your health
4) How normal are your breasts (The subtext reads: find out how yours measure up in Cosmo’s great boob comparathon)

And they say the magazine’s only for “fun fearless females”. Beats me.

The last article in question is really “grabalicious”. (Another post for words coined by the magazine sometime later, but you are free to contribute). The feature has 15 women from different walks of life (not models, mind you) agreeing to expose their busts and talk about them -- what they like and don’t about their boobs. Fantastic. So, we have women with A,B,C and D cups posing for us. My cup of joy brimmeth over. One of them says:

Girls often ask to feel them (breasts) as they want to see if I’ve got implants. They’re full and shapely and I think they are fantastic.

Another one says: A girl once told me my breasts were grabalicious (thanks for enriching my vocab, lady)

This is sheer titillation. A third one, from Manchester (no offence), says:

I have made friends with my mini-boobs. I like to squidge them – and so do other people.

Even I would, but I have no clue to what squidging means. I like the sound though.

The first article “Real Couple: Sex swap” is surely the first you would like to flip to. But there lies the great Cosmo deception trick. The headline on its face value suggests a diary-type article featuring couples talking about their swap escapades. It’s not that, but something more interesting: something the magazine advises every couple to do.

Instead of real-time swapping, some Brit couples decide to swap their sexual habits. Copulatory geniuses! Hundreds of blue blistering fornicating f**k alls! What follows is a cornucopia of esoteric sexual habits – doing it in the open, doing it 10-14 times a week, doing it with the help of external aids, doing it in the shower, doing it as porn stars do, and so on…

Go for it, men. Read it. Read kitsch porn. Will hit you hard!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Haathi ka andala

One more on rock music lyrics. “Mishearing” of lyrics is perhaps as old as rock music itself. With lyrics tightly enmeshed in layers of high-decibel electric music, chances of getting them messed up are quite high. And embarrassing, too, at times.

You might be ostracised at rock concerts if you sing She don’t mind, She don’t mind, She don’t mind, Cocaine. The Lynn Trusses of the rock world will cry sacrilege and dunk your head in a barrel full of Woodstock mud. JJ Cale, and later Eric Clapton, had sung this song as She don’t lie, she don’t lie, she don’t lie, Cocaine. Why, I don’t know. The former interpretation makes more sense.

Again, an American was humbled when he was told that the refrain in the Beatles song Across the Universe was Jai guru deva, and not John grew a K-mart. Poor John must have turned in his grave.

So, don’t fret if you regularly mishear lyrics. You are not the only one. This website shows us how most of us mishear lyrics. It also allows you to relate the embarrassing moments you have faced because of this peculiar affliction.

Go ahead and add to the website how the whole country misheard Aati kya khandala as Haathi ka andala. And how most of us would deliberately like to mishear/mis-sing the old favourite: Gori tera gaon bara pyaara.

PS: Dont miss the gem of an anecdote that explains the naming of the URL.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Bombay troubadours


Let me please introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste
And I laid traps for troubadours
Who get killed before they reached Bombay

These lines are from the legendary Rolling Stones song Sympathy for the Devil. Strange are the ways of rock lyricists. Sometimes utterly pedantic lines become cult, like Deep Purple's "Smoke on the water, fire in the sky". At times it is a tad more philosophical – “teenage wasteland” (from The Who’s song Baba o’ Reilly) became a headbanging catchphrase some time in the seventies.

Coming back to The Rolling Stones, the song Sympathy for the Devil seemed strong in its logic till it came to this line – the killing of troubadours before they reached Bombay. I can hardly recall any troubadour coming to India through the Gateway of India. Unless if it is on a metaphysical level.

Troubadours are travelling musicians. Some defend the line saying troubadours refer to The Beatles. They became mystical in their song writing after coming to India, losing touch with reality and the commom man.

Now, as “new age guru” Deepak Chopra would have us believe, The Beatles did a lot of LSD at Mahesh Yogi’s abode in India. Thanks, Deepak, for telling us that. Till now we knew that The Beatles got high only on gherkins.

So, did wide-mouth Mick mean the India trips did The Beatles in? Or did he simply mean The Beatles were killed because of the growing popularity of The Rolling Stones? Very difficult to say:

Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
But what’s confusing you
Is just the nature of my game

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Google or Gagle?

The seemless world of Internet seems to be cracking up. The cult search engine Google, which has extended the meaning of the word “information”, is bowing to Chinese political censorship laws. Read this on CNN and here.

Try this:

Standard Google image search for “tiananmen”
China Google image search for “tiananmen”

However, if you spell Tiananmen wrong (Tiananmen/tienanmen…) you get the same results on both the Chinese and the standard Google search engines. So there.

Also, what about reverse censorship? Think of Google Bihar under Nitish Kumar. Type “fodder” and you get Laloo mugshots galore!

Friday, February 03, 2006

On Rang De Basanti

Rang De Basanti is getting flak for the way its director has handled the second half of the film. The film at one point borders on the point of incredulity. Five young students gang up to kill the defence minister because one of their friends is killed in a MiG-21 crash.

The film, however, is not about the killing as it is made out to be by “critics”.

That is why the director just glosses over it, slips it behind the veneer of the so-called “willing suspension of disbelief”. Killing, at the end, becomes a metaphor. It could have been any simple act that becomes the harbinger of a change. It could be a single man standing in front of tanks on Tiananman Square or it could be the nameless faces involved in Chipko Andolan, facing giant electric hack-saws. As one reviewer puts it, the film is more about humanity than anything else.

The film is, in fact, about the awakening of the characters, it’s about spring, and it’s about swathes of mustard field bursting into yellow. It’s about a new life. The problem is that big-city “film critics” are seeing the film through the prism of serious art-house mindset. Ironically, this is one of the successes of the film. It has got the elite talking. When was the last time they dissected a hindi film? I am sure they must have sneered when Sholay was first released. It was only after years that the film got them talking.

There seems to be too much of fluff that goes into film reviews these days.

It is easy for critics to say that the film promotes an adolescent view of political action. But have we Indians grown out of infancy when it comes to political judgment? Don’t we elect leaders like Laloo Prasad year after year…

And then there is the thin line separating sentiment and action. “Line them all up and shoot them,” is what one of the callers says on the FM broadcast towards the end. That’s a militant idea. But haven’t you heard this exact line before at coffee house addas and train compartment debates? That’s popular sentiment, not popular action. I have asked people who have seen the film whether they would like to pick up a gun and redress the ills of the society. Most said no. That’s not the absolute message of the film, they said.

Some say the film uses an absurd parallel from history to legitimise it, and at every stage superimposes the frame of history upon the action. True. We can’t pull down Babri Masjids because Mughals desecrated our temples 500 years ago. The film does send out an incendiary message through the parallel workings of the plot. But since when have started watching Bollywood films for messages and acting accordingly? If we had, we wouldn’t have waited for Rang De Basanti to bloody Parliament, lynch policemen and kill truant fathers.

Let’s see the film in a more “realistic” light. The pilot dies. All right. A candlelight vigil is organized. Not in front of the India Gate though. Media shows the pilot’s mother breaking down. Riot police arrives. Demonstrators go back to their homes peacefully. Bloggers talk about it. A Tehelka-like paper does an expose on how faulty spare parts are bought by the government. Special committee inquiry happens. Five years later, MiG 21s keep flying.

This is life. Maybe a documentary. But not cinema for sure. My question is would you like to see this after shelling out 200 bucks in a multiplex theatre. Or would you like to see Rang De Basanti? My vote goes for the latter.

Friday, December 30, 2005

The circus

Bangalore was under a “terror” attack a few days ago. It had Rajdeep Sardesai standing for almost 4 hours. His channel insists on anchors standing while reading news, precariously holding a piece of paper. Godonly knows why. On NDTV, Vishnu Som was struggling with words and pushing them out before they melted in his mouth. A Reuters journalist wrote towards the end of his story: The gunman was suspected to have escaped from the leafy campus. As if the assailant would have waited for the cops to say, Bengaluru police! Freeze maari! A tired Rajdeep, the verbal pugilist, wanted to break for commercials (sit for a few seconds while his attendants spray water on his face and shove in a pipe of lemonade in his mouth?), but a producer kept him from doing that. A fumbling Rajdeep says, Wait guys, there’s more breaking news, my producer won’t let me go on a break. Great. And AajTak was just like a Laughter Challenge contestant had portrayed it to be: perennially trying to connect with its correspondent. Deepak*? Kya aap mujhe sun sakte hain? Sound of static. Deepak is listlessly gazing into the camera, fiddling with the earplugs. Anchor says, aye Deepak…..and then yells (Chhapra-style), are Deepakwaaaa

*generic name for Hindi language correspondent

Monday, December 19, 2005

A story without an end - III

That was it, I thought. I had waited for three hours. And saw the sky change from ochre to deep orange to dark red. The last embers of the autumn evening were dying down. The cars and the buses had their lights on. People crowded the bus stop across the road, clambering on to already crowded buses. In a mad rush, the tin buses were darting around, scrambling for passengers. The entrance to the Park Street metro station was in a frenetic whirl. Mostly, people were entering the tube station to head back home.

I was sitting on the steps of the Asiatic Society building, a prominent “meeting” place, smoking the last cigarette of the pack.

Right across the Chowringhee lay the vast emptiness -- more conspicuous in the growing twilight -- the maidans, and the waste yard of the metro constructions.

She had not come. Yes, she had not come to meet me. And now it was almost seven. There was a slight chill in the air. I was shivering.

**********************************

The taxi lunged forward, cutting through the dense rain. The windows were blurry and the wipers flailing madly. Very soon the glass got all misty inside because of our collective exhalations: mine, her’s and the driver’s. There was an awkward silence, made more somber by the humid air hanging still in the cab.

Was she surprised seeing me at the Park Street crossing? Rather, was she pleasantly surprised?

She said, why don’t we go to Flury’s? I have to pick up some stuff. It will take me a couple of minutes.

It was her suggestion. No, not suggestion. It was almost made to sound like an order. Like it was in the past. She was much older to me, and she always made this clear. Even when I pulled the blinds one sultry afternoon in a moment of confused and tormented passion…


She was looking to open the window a bit and throw the tissue she had wiped her face with. But she desisted, and put the soggy tissue in one corner of her purse. The taxi was already half way towards Sealdah, so it would be a long detour back to Park Street where Flury’s is. I told the driver that we would go back to Park Street. He grumbled. These drivers are getting impossible by the day, I said. She said the other day she got into a taxi and the driver stopped half-way to her home and just refused move.

Crazy, I said.

A few years ago, she had used the same word turning down my curt proposition.

Are you crazy? She had said, laughing her heart out, as if I had just said some silly joke.

**********************************

I was still standing at the Park Street crossing, absorbing what had hit me. She didn’t come. I don’t even know her name. I met her in Darjeeling. We talked Salinger and Beatles and smell of old books in that tea shack as raindrops kissed mountainsides.

She nodded when I told her we would meet in Calcutta. On Saturday. At the Park Street crossing. At four in the afternoon…

Now it was almost eight. The shiver in my bones had almost become unbearable. I couldn’t stop thinking about the last few days. How I had traipsed down the Mall in Darjeeling after she had left. How the train journey passed in pleasant contemplation. How I counted days till Saturday. That was today. And here I was, at the Park Street crossing, thumbing down taxis that went by not bothering to pay any heed to my half-hearted attempts at stopping them.

It was just then that a thought struck me like lightning on a clear day. And it made me stand still on the pavement, as if some sheer force had rooted to the concrete. The home-bound crowd of pedestrians shoved me around, screamed at me. A mad man made faces. I could feel the hair on my neck rise, I could jut about hear the din of the busy crossing, I could feel my cold palm clench till it pained…

What if she had been waiting for me at the other end of Park Street?