Life is not a holiday.

It’s Sunny!

I woke up one hot summer morning and thought, “Wow,it’s sunny!”

What I didn’t know was that the rest of the country was thinking the same thing, except while I stared at the scenery outside my window when I thought it, the rest of the country was staring at their television sets and thinking it.

Because really, it was Sunny.

Sunny Leone.


While most children’s lives are made up of dolls when they are babies, the children who grew up in Summer 2014 will remember this as the year of, not babies and dolls, but Baby Doll.

Suddenly television wasn’t the same anymore.

No matter what channel you put on, Sunny Leone’s voluptuous figure, in all its glory, would inevitably assault your television screen and give new life to the long dead imaginations of innumerable men in several parts of the nation.

It didn’t matter what you were doing.

You could be eating, or sleeping, or drinking, or driving, or walking, Sunny couldn’t care less. Her cleavage would dance on the television screen while people everywhere wondered how they ever thought the mangoes they bought that morning were juicy.
Her bright pink lips would mouth lyrics a lot of people couldn’t pick up, except for some words like “Husun de Kone” and “Jhandu Balm” which combined made it sound like an advertisement for the latter.
All the conservative members of the society, meanwhile, frantically searched their rooms for the remote that, in no house, seems to be where it should be, all the while hoping no male member of the household would walk in.

While the world danced with Sunny and her B&B (Bosom and Bottom), entranced by her suggestive moves, some of us realised that no matter how hard we tried, there was no remote, and probably never would be, that could shut out songs like Baby-Doll from our world.


Daily Prompt: Musical Marker

When Did We Change?

I think about what we were before, and what we are now.

Earlier we looked at poverty, and despair,
And starvation, and thirst.
We looked at helplessness, and desperation.
But that’s all we did-

Today, we see.
We see poverty, and despair,
And starvation, and thirst.
We see helplessness, and desperation.
Today, we see.

When did we change?
When did we stop accepting and start demanding?
When did we realize we deserved more, that we were owed what was our due?
When did we understand that we could do better, be better?
When did we begin questioning-one voice in unison?

Was it when an old man went on a fast?
Or when a young one failed to live up to expectations?
Was it when one among us was murdered-raped and mutilated?
Or when a coughing outsider decided to fix things from within?
Was it when homosexuality became a sin?
Or when one man’s silence became a burden?

When did we change?
And for how long?

Welcome to India!

You climb onto the escalator, dragging your small suitcase behind you with one hand and holding your sister’s Java Chip Frappuccino in the other. You turn around to make sure everyone else has got on properly as well, including your sister whose still mourning for the consecutive Barbeque Montana Burger meals she’s been having the past week but now has to leave behind.
You’re tired, and irritable, and really not looking forward to your flight from Shanghai to Delhi-seven hours in a flying capsule with no leg space and innumerable snoring people and wailing children.
You think your problems will begin in and be limited to the airplane. You couldn’t be more wrong.
You hear it before you see it, and you realize the escalator is carrying you down, deep down, straight into hell.

It sounds like the chattering of monkeys, not the adorable ones like Cheekoo the Monkey, we’re talking the real ones at the Delhi Ridge who give you death stares and terrorize people for amusement, or Mojo Jojo.
But as you get closer, you see it’s less like monkeys, more like Rise of the Planet of the Apes, or to be more accurate, Fall into the Basement of the Indians.

They’re there, all of them, as far as the eye can see. Your fellow countrymen are very much present and they’re ensuring, in every way they can, that everyone knows it.
Apparently you’ve been smart enough to book yourself on a flight in which most of your co-passengers are very minutely subdued versions of Navjot Singh Siddhu, all of them talking loudly, and incessantly. You soon realize they all know each other as well-it’s one of those package holiday groups in which people carry along their cooks and leave dining rooms with a pocket full of buns.
The boarding gate adjacent to yours is closed but the monitor tells you boarding is going to begin for a flight to Sydney. A whole bunch of foreigners occupy the seats near it, some of them fascinated but most of them downright terrified by this volley of shrieking, cackling Indians who make even a fuming Andrew Symonds look like a subdued Bahu in a Suraj Barjatya film.

Before long, the boarding gates for your flight are opened and everyone swarms towards it like bees towards honey, pushing, pulling, but still talking. You join the queue as well and soon find yourself on a bus that hurtles towards your plane. All around you people scream to one another, having proper conversations at the top of their voices, but one man outdoes them all.
The bus is hot, suffocating, stinky. And you’re surrounded by people- someone else’s hair is on your shoulder, someone’s sweaty back is against your hand which is holding on tightly to the pole. But the worst things, by far, are the raised arms, holding onto the handles above, emitting an odour that takes you straight back to a hot morning in the Delhi metro.
You’re still struggling to breath when a voice calls out,
Arrey Bhai usko bolo ac chalayega!
Half the bus turns towards the voice, the other half pretends it hasn’t heard. You belong to the latter, a man a little ahead of you doesn’t. He smiles politely at the speaker, then turns back to the armpit of his neighbor, while the speaker tries again.
Arrey yaar usko bol ac chalaane ko. Apne aap toh baitha hua hai aage balkani mein, aaram se ac chalakar!
Apparently the partition between the driver and passengers implies his end is called a balcony. Who knew? Nobody. Except this man. This screaming, angry, rebellious man, who everyone is conveniently ignoring. Not that he cares. He’s as determined as Dhoni in need of twenty runs in the last over of a T20 match. Just when you think he’s done, he begins.
You’re still holding your breath when the bus suddenly jerks to a stop and you find yourself drowning in armpits and greasy hair.
“Welcome to India.” Your father says.

The bus was just the beginning.
The real test begins in the aircraft, initiated by a middle aged, pot bellied man who walks in with a bag in his hand, and a surprising amount of condescension in his mouth. He says something to an air-hostess as he makes his way to his seat and she does what any normal woman would do-pretends she’s deaf. But she’s also Chinese. So it’s time for Racist talk.
The man’s ego is hurt by her obliviousness to what he believes is his undeniably wonderful sense of humor, so after she has turned down his joke, he looks around the aircraft and says loud enough for everyone to hear, “Arrey hasti hi nahi. Yahaan koi hasta kyon nahi hai bhai?!” For him, ‘yahaan’ is probably the world, because with that tone and that look, you doubt too many people would find him anything other than offensive. But then people always surprise you.

“I don’t like his head.” Whispers your sister, grimacing at the sight of the oily head of the man sitting in front of you. You call her shallow, but by the end of the flight you know that sometimes, the head reflects the personality of the person.
Once the flight takes off, the Rejected Head exchanges seats with two people sitting in the center row. So while a young couple settles down in the seats in front of you, Rejected Head and his neighbor occupy two different rows spreading themselves out on the unoccupied neighbouring seats.
Rejected Head’s neighbor calls out to someone a few minutes later, “Idhar aaja yaar, yahaan saare seat khaali hain!” referring to the seats next to his own as well as those next to rejected head’s. But Rejected Head isn’t having any of it, “Abey idhar kyun bula raha hai!” He scolds, “Chod de, apun aaram se phel ke baithte hain.
And Rejected Head’s neighbor doesn’t argue.

In the rows ahead of you meanwhile, a silent war ensues, but a one sided war apparently.
It begins when a man two rows ahead turns around and fondly asks the woman sitting in front of you, “Aap ne pichle saal koi class liye the kya?
The lady thinks for a moment and says, “Nahi toh”.
Arrey woh liye the na tumne, woh English waale.” Reminds her husband.
Arrey haan”, she says, “English ka class liya tha maine.
Tabhi toh!” Remarks the questioner, “Hum saath hi the usme. Wahi main sochoon. Aapko dekha toh mujhe flashback toh hua tha, par maine socha ye exact replica kaise ho sakta hai!
You glance at the husband from between the seats. He looks like he wishes he could eat up his words, and the vocabulary of the questioner who apparently loses no opportunity to ensure everyone knows that the English classes were well worth the money.

When the dinner trolley arrives, new problems begin. People who ordered the vegetarian Hindu meal have received seafood, those who ordered non-veg have decided they want fish and not chicken. The stewards and airhostesses look confused, and their hungry passengers look ready to scream. They try to explain their problem to the airhostesses, while their fellow passengers give them advice from all over the aircraft.
“Tere ko kya de diya?”
“Arrey maanga veg tha, seafood de diya!”
“Bata de usko. Bol ki galat diya hai.”
“Haan bol diya hai, aata hoga.”
“Haan bol de, badal denge!”
“Haan bol diya hai!”
“Tujhe kya de diya?”
“Non veg hi diya par ye chicken hai, humein fish chahiye!”
“Haan bata de, bol tujhe fish chahiye.”
“Haan bol diya hai!”
“Bol de!”

No matter what’s for dinner, you realize this flight is turning into a fish market.
In the midst of all the confusion, one woman decides to educate one of the Chinese Air Hostesses on exactly what constitutes a Hindu meal.
“See this? Seafood. Seafood not vegetarian. Not Hindu vegetarian. We ask Hindu vegetarian. Seafood is not vegetarian. Seafood is non-vegetarian. Even egg not vegetarian.”
The airhostess has, by now, mastered the art of playing deaf.

You turn to your sister, wondering whether to laugh or cry. She’s sleeping, and for the next five hours, you do the same. You manage to somehow get some sleep, waking up fairly often to people pushing your seat on their way to the bathroom, or burping, or snoring.

When the pilot announces landing, Rejected Head awakens, rejuvenated, energized. He beckons to an airhostess and asks her for an arrival card. She tries to tell him he doesn’t need one since he’s an Indian. He gestures impatiently, telling her to just shut up and give it to him, while his neighbor screams “Abey le le!
The two of them then diligently fill out the arrival cards while the airhostess stares at them, disgusted and stupefied, just like you are.

The Little Things

We never wanted the usual things when we were small- my sisters and I.
We didn’t want the pretty dresses, or the Barbie dolls, although we got several of the latter on our birthdays because people assumed that since we were little girls, those were what we would really like, not knowing the dolls would be lying in the bin a couple of days later-limbless, naked and traumatized.
More often than not, we satisfied ourselves with games we made up, which required nothing but a paper and pen. We solved mysteries, we became travel agents, we worked in hotel receptions, using our wardrobes as elevators, and we set up shops, lovingly, patiently arranging all our clothes, books and toys into seperate piles for our imaginary customers’ convenience.
The only things we ever really craved were books, soft drinks, and chips. We got a lot of the former, our parents being avid readers and generous with their money when it came to books. We were rewarded with a trip to the bookstore each time we got a vaccination, and between the three of us, this implied enough trips to build vast collections of books by Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, Jacqueline Wilson, RK Narayan, Deepak Dalal, and the like.
Soft drinks and chips, however, were a different matter. These were allowed to us only on the weekends, unless there was a special occasion or our grandparents came to visit in the middle of the week.
This, I believe, is one of the reasons why even today, these are the only two things I really crave.

This is why, when I recently travelled from Delhi to Shanghai, my hand luggage was full of two things- books, and packets of spicy chips- enough to sustain The younger sister and me for the two weeks we had until we were back in Delhi.
I had never travelled internationally on my own before, always having at least one of my sisters with me, and I was fairly nervous about my journey. Nervous not because I was inexperienced (as long as I didn’t fall asleep on a chair in the airport, I knew I could handle it), but because my luggage was very overweight, my one check in suitcase itself being more than half my own weight.
Surprisingly, however, I managed to check in my bags without any issues. Then came the second hurdle- the security check. I was carrying a purse and a small suitcase, stuffed with, as I said, chips and books, and I was mortified at the thought of having to open my bags and reveal its contents if any issues cropped up on the x ray. Worst still, what if they made me throw away all the chips?!
I also had another problem that I had to keep reminding myself of, namely the tendency to, every single time that I carry two bags, forget to put my purse on the x ray machine and walk confidently towards the frisking que, forcing the people at security to exasperatedly scream “Arrey madam apna bag toh rakhiye!”
I managed to get through security without any goof ups, however, and so I made my way to the food court and passed the remaining time until boarding with a coffee and book, while the people seated at the table behind mine took photos of each other- “Idhar se lo!” “Iska bhi le lo!” “Accha aaya?”
My third hurdle came after boarding. How, I wondered, was I going to lift a suitcase that weighed as much as mine did, without falling over backwards, hitting my head against the hand-rest of a seat, and promptly passing out with either pain or embarrassment or both?
Having no choice in the matter, I took a deep breath and lifted my suitcase. I tilted sideways with its weight for a second, which probably made people wonder if I was swaying because I was drunk, but I somehow managed to stow away the bag. I then turned around and, after taking a quick look at the man who was to be my neighbor for the next six hours, took my seat next to the window.
The flight was uneventful and once we landed, the air hostess announced that no one was supposed to turn on their phones or leave their seats until the plane had reached a complete hault, so naturally everyone turned on their phones and promptly unbuckled their seatbelts so that they could begin trying to get at the overhead compartments as though it would run away with their bags if they waited a second longer.
This is where my last hurdle came in- how was I supposed to take my suitcase off the overhead compartment without falling over backwards, hitting my head against the hand-rest of a seat, and promptly passing out with either pain or embarrassment or both? While I was still mulling over this problem and devising all sorts of angles from which I could approach the bag and make its removal easier, my neighbor turned towards me.
He was a middle-aged man who had spent most of the flight sleeping. When he started gesturing instead of speaking, I realized he, like most people in China, didn’t speak English (a fact I admire about these people who, instead of giving in to the ways of the west, have managed to hold on to and take pride in their language and culture while also progressing with the rest of the world).
After a bit of confusion, I finally began to follow what my neighbor was trying to say through a mixture of broken English and hand gestures. He was, I understood, saying that he would cross the aisle and move to the row across so that I could get my suitcase and leave with the first surge of passengers. I was, hence, very surprised when he got up, opened the overhead compartment, pointed at my suitcase and said “this, yours, yes?” I instinctively said yes, and while I was still standing there wondering what he was getting at, he lifted my suitcase with both his hands and set in on the floor. I was surprised, but more than that I was thankful, being sure that I would now have to lose neither my arm nor my reputation.
I felt like gifting him my share of the packets of chips I was carrying to show him how grateful I was, but he would never know how much that meant, so I had to make do with thanking him profusely.

And that’s what made me realize it- the value of the little things.

Taking my suitcase off for me wasn’t a big deal to him, but it was to me. It was just one little gesture, but it was enough to take a place in my memory, enough to remind me that in a world full of uncertainty, fear, friction, and negativity, there is also thoughtfulness, and kindness. And that’s what I think of each time I remember that journey.
I remember the little thing that man did for me, and then the little things that so many other people have done, knowingly or unknowingly, which have affected me.
I remember my grandfather sitting next to me and patting my head when I was sick, asking me how I was feeling; I remember one of my great grandmothers hobbling into my room, where I sat studying for my tenth standard board examinations, a plate of pakodas she had just made in her hand, persuading me to eat them while they were hot; I remember a co passenger who offered me her seat in the metro when she saw me standing for over ten stations; I remember a woman who pointedly called me to her in a crowded metro and got up from her seat, telling me in Gujarati, and hence joining the endless line of people who think I’m Gujarati, what I understood to be, “My station is next, you can take my seat”; I remember my older sister making me a hot cup of tea to calm me down when I was nervous about an exam the next day; I remember my younger sister offering me a bowl of chips from her packet because I had finished mine days ago; I remember my father specifically getting me the chocolate flavored MnMs I love; I remember my mother gifting me a framed print of ‘Starry Night’ for my birthday, which she had to search for and order days in advance; I remember the man who held the elevator door open for me even though I never called to him to do so, secretly hoping he would have gone up by the time I got there so that I could travel the sixteen floors in an empty lift without having to make polite conversation with him.
Those are the things that matter- the little things.
It’s the everyday gestures that people remember, that touch lives, and hearts. Those are the things that make the intersection of two lives a memory, forever etched in the mind of the recipient. It’s the small things, sometimes the ones that come automatically, instinctively, that change people’s days, make them better. And it’s the small gestures that remind people that while a lot of the good may seem to have disappeared in humanity, lost in the drudgery and monotony involved in daily life, some of it continues to persist, appearing every once in a while, to touch people, to inspire them.

The Daily Post: Honey versus Vinegar

Chalo Bhaiya Painting Dekhenge Painting!

 Meet the Disney Matchmaker.


Meet the Hollywood Matchmaker.


Meet the Bollywood Matchmaker.


Now, meet the Sooraj Barjatya Matchmaker.


The matchmaker, Tuffy, lives with his family in Prem Nivas.

His family includes Chachaji, played by Babuji,


Chachaji’s older nephew, Rajesh, played by ‘always-the-eldest-Mohnish Behl’ who is just as astounded as the audience by this typecasting


They put me in eldest brother crisp white kurta again!

And Rajesh’s younger brother, Prem, who loves his family.


Like in every film, within half an hour it is time for Mohnish Behl’s wedding.

His marriage is arranged to chachaji’s friends’ older daughter, Puja.


Rajesh and Puja fall in love in the first meeting itself in true Sooraj Barjatya style, bonding over a painting of a temple, in a temple, while the aarti plays in the background. Such sanskar.


Puja has a younger sister, Nisha, who loves “chocolate, ice cream and her saheliyaan”, although we see absolutely nothing of the latter all through the movie, making their very existence doubtful.


Prem manages to charm Nisha in their first meeting as well with just a tilt of his head, a skill he has mastered over several years and films.




The audience is then taken through every single wedding ceremony.

First, there’s the engagement, which takes place in a temple during a remix bhajan with lots of God-thanking and tongue clicking.


This is followed by another song in which chachaji flirts with his nephew’s mother-in-law, literally singing her praises and charming her with the harmonies of his harmonium (no guitars for sanskari people), while her husband, played by Anupam Kher on a sugar rush, watches fondly.

Harmonium gets my heartstrings going

                           Harmonium gets my heartstrings going



Totes okay with this.

                           Totes okay with this.

This is also how the Hum Saath Saath Hain plot began, with chachaji and the lady in question falling in love during the song and afterwards changing their names and, taking along the dimwitted Rajesh and Prem, moving to Rampur.

Anyway, the wedding is a big success with lots of ugly clothes and underarm sweat patches. It also has the most synchronised barat in the world, led by a random woman whose assets are wrapped in aluminium foil.


It’s also during the wedding that Prem and Nisha realise, after breaking a bed with their combined weight (no double meanings there), that they are in love with each other.


 After the wedding, the new bride leaves for her new home where she is gifted a copy of the Ramayana because, as random childless uncle, played by always-the-random-childless-uncle, tells her, “isme Sita hai.”


But Sanskari Bahu already knew that.

Sanskari Bahu, Puja, settles into the family very well, spending all day caring for her husband, father in law, and the deranged Prem who only sings songs praising her efforts without doing anything at all to help.


This does, however, help her earn her place as a ‘girl’ in the family and she manages to attain a cap stating the same, just in case her duties/assets led the audience to believe otherwise.


As always, Mohnish Behl gets his wife pregnant about twenty minutes after their marriage, and so Nisha is back with Prem, in his family loving jeep, doing countdowns (10..9..8..7..6..5..4..3..2..1..LETS..START…THE…FUN) in anticipation of their next song.

The Godhbharai takes place with Nisha singing a whole song about Prem, but that doesn’t arouse anyone’s suspicions.


Prem also makes a brief appearance to whip a woman dressed as a Prem.


Also, this happens.


And this.


After the ceremony is over, Nisha stays on with her sister until her delivery.

Prem and she also take their relationship a step further one night when Prem takes off his shirt,


And joins Nisha for a bit of this.


And a bit of this as well.


It’s supposed to be a sophisticated dance, but it just ends up looking like Prem is trying to be an ape.


Anyway, their romance is inturrupted by a baby’s birth and, like in every Sooraj Barjatya movie, it’s a boy! Rajesh is so happy he beats his wife with excitement, not knowing he’s going to repeat this feat a few years later in Hum Saath Saath Hain.

You've given us a boy, you can die now!

                                    You naughty!

When Puja goes to her parents’ house soon after the baby’s birth, she finds out about Nisha and Prem’s relationship, so she does what any normal person would do…Garba.


Then she falls down the stairs and dies.

But not before doing this.


Which everyone interprets as “After I die, please make sure my husband marries my sister”.

With their powers of interpretation, it’s surprising they didn’t take it to mean she wanted Rajesh and Prem to get married.

So anyway, Prem decides to sacrifice his love for Nisha for the happiness of his brother and nephew.


And Nisha agrees to the marriage, thinking she’s marrying Prem (LOL), until she sees the wedding invitation at her Sangeet, and she’s like


On the day of the wedding, Nisha writes a letter to Prem and hands it to Tuffy, asking him to deliver it.

Tuffy then has to make the most crucial decision in the entire three hour film.

The deranged one or the sane one?

                              The deranged one or the sane one?

But Tuffy is the Sooraj Barjatya matchmaker, so he knows exactly what to do. And while bhajans play in the background, he hands the letter to Rajesh, which leads to this


And this


And then, finally, this.


Chachaji tries to join in the celebrations afterwards, but he’s a little confused about the difference between dancing and riding a horse.


The movie, hence, ends with Nisha and Prem’s wedding, and Tuffy quietly slips into the background, like every matchmaker must, until Rajesh’s son is old enough to sing songs.



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