Monthly Archives: April 2015

The boys pop the champagne. Anushka gets the blame!

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When Anushka Sharma was fried over Virat Kohli’s dismissal and India’s ouster from the world cup, I was not surprised. After all, this is hardly an aberration. Back in 1996, when India crashed out of the world cup semis losing to Sri Lanka, Sangeeta Bijlani, the Indian captain Azharuddin’s girl friend was similarly roasted. Bijlani was charged with much more unsavoury stuff: breaking Azhar’s home, corrupting the good man and subsequently getting him involved in betting. As for all the centuries that Virat scored or the political gains that Azharuddin made while the jinxed women have been in their lives; Come on! Our men are talented.

To be fair to our current breed of country men (and women who echo their voices) , the rhetoric has always been stacked against women. Our scriptures present sufficient proof of women waylaying the good men. Menoka ‘trapped’ an unsuspecting Vishwamitra, Kaikeyi felled the good king Dasarath, Ram had to banish his wife Seeta to validate himself as a king. The common refrain has been men are the supreme human beings; they go about achieving their super-ordinate goals and are generally successful unless a woman comes along distracting him and messing up with the lofty aims. So cultures around the world have placed a high premium on celibacy for men, making overt references to the corrupting influence of women. Any remote evidence of the existence of a wife of Jesus has been systematically wiped out. Islam decreed that women be covered so that they do not distract men going about winning the world. Our own sages have generally stayed away from women unless they were sent to impregnate one on the will of God or were seduced by the Apsaras.

Of course we were wise enough to realize that a man does need a wife or two or more to service his more fundamental instincts. He cannot go about winning the world on empty stomach, spend his nights with inflatable dolls or die without leaving a male heir. A woman is therefore needed. The veiled, inconspicuous character in the background. So marriage takes two human beings and grinds one of them, the woman to nothingness unless she is all but the shadow of a man. Her own identity gets tied to that of the husband or the male partner. She is the invisible half of the relationship who does not get much credit for the man’s success but is hauled over fire for the man’s shortcomings. The converse has not been true. Nobody blames Krishna for seducing a much-married Radha before leaving her for good. Nobody imagines blaming Virat Kohli if Anushka’s movie flops. Or Amitabh Bacchan for an immensely talented Jaya Bhaduri going off the screen.

Yet the paradox is that relationships and marriages have always worked much better for men than from women. Statistics show that married men live longer, suffer less depression and alcoholism and are more successful than their single counterparts. Exactly the opposite is true for women: more depression, less career success and hence less earning potential and reduced life span. Trends that the American journalist and author, Elizabeth Gilbert, summed up as the “Marriage Benefit Imbalance” in her book Committed. The imbalance gets multiplied many times in our overtly macho and misogynistic culture. A culture which refuses to recognize marital rape as a cognizable offence is hardly expected to acknowledge the distinct identity of the wife or the girl friend. And the more strongly they try to assert their identity; the sharper will be the backlash. Anushka is no veiled wallflower who lives in the shadow of her man. She is smart, independent and cerebral and is as comfortable holding her boy friend’s hands as doing unconventional movies. Little surprising that she becomes the favourite roast of a nation which still sings its odes to celibacy and non-romantic love. While expecting warm food on the table, crisply ironed shirts laid out on the bed and the all-consenting breeding machines to ensure the perpetuity of an imperfect race. You brazenly break the stereotype? Then live with the abuse. It was your choice, you see!

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30 Pros of Having a Bong Neighbour

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  1. Never run out of pink Jaylusils– The Bong loves to eat. And he would rather pop his Jaylusil than Jaywalk (or any other form of walk) to digest all the elaborate meals he eats. Borrow one when you need.
  2. Or cough syrup – The Bong’s fear of cold is legendary. So he will always be stacked with generous doses of cough syrup that can cure coughs of any intensity
  3. Don’t mind the fish. Just keep the Room Freshener handy – The fish raises a stink especially if the household loves the infamous sutki. Believe me, you could have done worse
  4. Be treated to Bajarer tholi in multiple colours – How seriously the Bong takes his eating is evident from how seriously he takes his weekly shopping. So he has neatly color-coded bags for the vegetables, the mutton and the fish. Admire the art work
  5. Watch the nakhras of Chapar ma – The Bengali mem sahib loves her maid in waiting. And for some reason the maid’s original name is forgotten and she is fondly called Chapar maa after a largely absent Chapa. Chapar ma almost wields as much influence and has as much style as mem sahib.
  6. They own the neighbourhood library under one roof – Every respectable bong household will have the ‘Boi er Almari’. The phoren returned bong will insist calling it ‘Almirah’. If you are borrowing a book, make sure you return it wrapped in brown paper. So that the favors continue
  7. The tantalizing aroma of Kasundi – Or the mustard sauce. It is worth making friends with a Bong for just this. You are forgiven if you smuggle it out under a shawl
  8. A pretty, fiery Bong teen for a neighbour – Brush up on your Karl Marx and your annual marks before dating her though
  9. And her Mom – The Bengali boudi who wears back-less blouses and sports large Bindis will make most men go weak in their knees. It isn’t a crime to ogle as long as you do it tastefully
  10. The good Dada – The Bengali dada is the most affable neighbour if you can tolerate his psychoanalysis of every incident occurring in this universe. From Pinochet to Pinochio he has an opinion on everything. Barring that, he is pretty harmless.
  11. The melodious morning alarm – Every Bong household has atleast one person who can sing. So you wake up to fusion Rabindra Sangeet. Well better than Honey Singh’s vodka anyday
  12. Someone who can tell you how Bymkesh Bakshi is pronounced – So that you claim your intellectual right to watch the sleuth in action
  13. The India’s got talent household – Not just a singer. An average bong household will also have a painter, a writer, a dancer, a debator, an orator, an alligator. Ok the last is a typo
  14. No sweat over your PhD thesis – You only have to keep dada in good humour. And never call Boudi aunty
  15. The introduction to the mysterious world of Bengali dak naam – You will hear the doting Bengali mom call her kids by an amazing variety of names. You may finally start piecing together why a boy is called ‘Pompa’
  16. Even the dogs have elaborate names – What do you call your dog? Tommy. Learn from the Bong boudi. She will have a 108 imaginative names for her beloved dog
  17. The mishtir thala – The Bong will feed you with special Kolkata sweets on every good occasion. Which is usually 12 times a year. Because his kids will keep acing all exams.
  18. The occasional torko – To fight or quarrel are above Bong sensibilities. But yes he loves his refined torko. If that degenerates into a fist-fight, it isn’t really the same thing.
  19. The football fundas – Never slip on the difference between Messi and Ronaldo again. The Bong guys have all the stats
  20. The walking versions of Quora.com – Have a question? The Bong has an answer. Period
  21. Referee the Ghoti-Bangal debate – If you have a neighbour from East Bengal and one from West, you will be caught in the constant verbal exchange between them. You can choose to be martyred. Or choose to watch the fun
  22. The 50 lessons of being a bhadralok – Learn the nuances of babugiri from the Bengali bhadralok. Complete with the koncha
  23. Learn to play the dhak – Move over guitar, playing the dhak is uber cool. Every Bong can or atleast pretends to play the dhak. Pick up a treat.
  24. Caste no bar – The liberal Bong will not mind who you are, where are you from. As long as you love him
  25. Generous dose of Sabdhanis – The bong uncle lives in eternal fear of being robbed, mobbed, kidnapped or teleported. His many locks on his door will inspire you to be a little more cautious too. A handy trait in today’s world
  26. The annual function is taken care of – Outsource all the annual day cultural stuff to your Bong neighbours and put your feet up. They are good natured and broad minded enough to accommodate one Daler Mehndi number. They will draw the line at Mika though.
  27. You will be relentlessly tortured about the proper meaning of nyaka – But thank your stars that that’s where most Bong expletives stop.
  28. Sail through all local quiz competitions with your neighbour in tow. The collective bong GK shames the Wikipedia
  29. The Dada vs Dada fights – You have your Sachin. He has his Sourav. The fights can be entertaining ways of beating the blues after India’s loss in every third overseas match
  30. No gain without pen – The Bongs love their literature. Outsource all your writing (you may get away with sneaking in the laundry list) to him and catch the afternoon nap