Categories
In Between

Apples

I think I like watching women eat apples. Here’s why.

http://theladiesfinger.com/wish-this-memoir-was-more-aashiqui-less-ashram/

529457
Photo courtesy http://www.bollywoodlife.com
Categories
In Between

Ishq and other things

 

When I get back home at 11:00 in the night, my footsteps are measured, my body rigid and I plonk myself on the sofa which, much like my body, seems too soft out of a tiredness that will only go away after eight hours of sleep. I must be careful to not make noise; ma is awake, like always. If she is coming down with heavy steps, a noise that carries itself to the very core of my heart and makes me pout in fear, it means I am going to get an earful that night. I wait to hear the soft thud of the door of her bedroom which means that she’s finally going to sleep. But the thud is followed by a silence that is almost unbearable to ignore. It means she’s unhappy that I have come home late again.

When I get back home at 8:00, my brother is watching Kumkum Bhagya and having dinner. He sulks when I ask him to change the channel. Two years ago, if I had yanked the remote out of his hand and switched to Zee Cafe to watch The Big Bang Theory or Friends, he would have made a fuss. But he has learnt to like these shows now so he doesn’t mind that his sisters watch Zee Cafe. He laughs along with the laugh track and sometimes louder.

He annoys us repeatedly to know which episode it was that Raj, Leonard and Howard go to camp, get high and laugh like maniacs. In solidarity, I have begun to take an interest in Kumkum Bhagya. I am making guesses of all kinds — who is upset with whom in this episode and why? In last week’s episode the man got drunk, returned home with a doll that looked like his wife and came very close to making love to it.

Tonight my brother is watching Ishq, a Hindi movie from the 90’s. At the outset it’s the story of four people in love. Two boys and two girls. One for all and all for one. But only two of these people are rich, but they are not the couple in love and that’s why their parents must kill their poor lovers so the rich boy can marry the rich girl.

Ishq_1997

I watched it in Belgaum. My neighbours – J and P had watched it that afternoon and had come running to our house to tell us to go watch it. They told us what scenes to look out for – there was the pipe scene, they said, which made the whole theatre go berserk with madness. J said a little pee came out. P said it was not little.

They enacted a particularly macabre scene with such enthusiasm, my dad was convinced that we had to go watch the movie soon. This was the car scene. Juhi Chawla is pissed with Aamir Khan and wants him to die so she puts him in a car with no brakes. There is also a monkey in the car that drives at one point.

That night, we went to Nartaki. I kept looking at mom-dad’s faces in the darkness to make sure they were laughing. This is a sickness that I have even now. Every time I watch a movie that I have heard is great or really funny, I want to make sure that the people sitting next to me are laughing. If they aren’t, I get really worried. I wonder if they have understood the joke and so I sit prepared to explain the joke. If this doesn’t happen, I wonder if they are upset with me. Don’t watch movies with me, I am crazy like that.

But there, I didn’t have to worry. My parents were laughing. My mother’s cheeks were red, the color they become when she is also crying.

I liked Ishq for a whole lot of other reasons. There were two couples and I was curious to know how they functioned. My heart felt all kinds of full when I watched them dance around wearing clothes that matched in Mr Lova Lova. I decided that my favourite couple is Juhi-Aamir because their clothes were more color-coordinated. My sister picked Kajol-Ajay because she said theirs was true love.

The fact that the movie also explored the sexual tension between the couple not- in- love thrilled me to bits. In most other movies the couple not -in- love become brother-sister if they aren’t already brother- sister. This was one such movie. And to top it all, the rich kids had maniacal fathers who were interestingly, both widowers. One got laughed at a lot because he was dark, the other got laughed at a lot because he was bald.

God, I miss the 90’s. Things were simpler.

For once, nobody is fighting over what to watch. Tonight, my brother and I will sit and laugh at all the scenes I had laughed at all those years ago.

Categories
In Between

My First :)

My favourite film in the history of world is this Telugu film called Arundhati. It’s a fantasy/horror movie. I was thrilled to write about it for The Ladies Finger.

Arundhati I am happy to finally cross something off my Long-Island Ice Tea jar list 🙂

You can read it here.

Categories
In Between

Mad Max

Mad-Max-Fury-Road1-600x889-2

In my head lives a serious feminist. She comes now and then, offers groundbreaking gyaan to people, changes their lives and goes back inside. She is an older feminist, means she’s been here longer. She was shamed into absence by the happier and more down to earth feminist who took charge only recently. So when I was watching Mad Max and dealing with wow after wow, I was also dealing with a personal dilemma. Which of my feminists were purring loudly in response to the movie?

Some fans are shitting all over the movie, some are holding it with superb regard yet whispering to each other ‘Let’s not be in a hurry and call it a feminist movie yet’. I don’t know if it’s a feminist movie. I am happy knowing that for once, both my feminists seemed to agree on having fun.

I want to take a step further here and call it a fun movie. No, I haven’t watched its Mel Gibson prequel, and yes, this movie is so kickass, I doubt I’ll have badass fun with the other. Mad Max kicks all action hero movies’ asses. This is the movie you want to watch if you flung objects at the CIA’s chief in X Men when he said that there is a reason why the CIA is no place for women. Screw your CIA, Mad Max has super hot hero hesitating to operate big gun when super hot heroine stands patiently behind him. Two shots have been fired — last one remaining, and the enemy is at the gates. So what does he do? Yes, he passes her the gun and goes away.

The movie begins the way all post apocalyptic movies do. In a desert. In a city that has become a desert. Max stamps a chameleon and eats it. Next thing you know, he is hunted by war boys who then take him to their home. Scenes later, Charlize Theron is shown driving a truck, a big muscular truck. One you think came out when Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kati Luoto did it.

Theron is escape rani. She is leading away the warlord’s wives. Two of whom are pregnant. Here’s the thing about pregnant women. Most male filmmakers are shit scared about doing anything with pregnant women. And that’s why it was interesting to finally see a movie that flings pretty pregnant woman under some massive truck. This was when I heard both the feminists in my head roar with happiness. Why am I happy about pregnant women dying in the movie? They aren’t treated with ulterior patronizing nonsense. She died because she was doing circus on the sides of the truck that Theron was driving. She died trying to rescue her team. So it’s ok if she was pregnant and got flung under the truck. I am not putting pressure on action movie pregnant women characters to do stunts. And it’s ok if I do, because it’s a movie.  All I am saying is that here’s another role that didn’t have a man– that had a pregnant woman do it.

It is refreshing to see a pregnant woman doing unpregnanty things, is all. The other fun thing is grandma motor bikers, baby.  It’s still quite something to see middle aged female conductors and auto drivers in Bengaluru. So when you watch 5 wrinkled and kickass grannies, one of whom looks like the cute granny from Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries, all of them riding monster motor bikes, you may want to laugh at Nolan and his ‘Here Cat Woman, stop making a fuss. You can ride the Bat Mobile for 2 min’

Categories
In Between

Piku

A lot of things about Piku will convince you that it’s the story of your family. The hypochondriac Bhaskor Banerjee (Bachchan) who unabashedly allows his constipation to dictate his life, Piku (Padukone) who seems to understand it yet dismisses it like most of us would, maids who don’t want to work in your home because of crazy old father who blames them for stealing phenoyl even as the maid notes that there are expensive gadgets lying around.

Like in Finding Fanny, the house is unkempt; clothes strewn about and table cluttered. I am not sure if it’s only the proximity with our own unkempt houses that makes it endearing to watch. It definitely doesn’t help that she looks gorgeous and her clothes are perfect and she is trying to balance a career and an eccentric home. The father-daughter are a funny pair, but only to us. Everybody else in the movie is used to him and her and their verbal fits. Even Rana (Khan) who is new to their madness, and comes from a family he would be thrilled to disown, doesn’t take much time to absorb them. And this, I am guessing is because so much of their private life is made visible to everybody who has an answer to constipation.

When they drive to Calcutta, they carry their home with them. The simhasan (Banerjee’s mobile commode) tied to the carrier of the Innova is proof of this. If you are the kind, who when they meet new weird people, think of how brilliant it would be to lock them up in a room with somebody else who is weirder, then you are going to be laughing throughout the movie. The writer is a sadist bastard who plays such a trick. The challenge that the movie throws onto itself therefore is, who drives whom mad.

And that is a question with a lot of potential because you wouldn’t expect Bhaskor Banerjee to take kindly to younger men who are capable of hitting on his daughter and you are right, he doesn’t. He doles out rebuttals to strangers’ faces and keeps at it with a fervor that is far more ferocious than Piku’s silence. ‘She is financially independent and not a virgin (no Piku?)’

But sadly, you don’t care about whether this disarms Rana or not because by then the movie itself doesn’t care and has moved on to other things. Thanks to Banerjee’s growing discontent with his constipation and the relief of stereotype, the movie does not slip dangerously into the Baghban syndrome. The capacity for this seems to have been exhausted when Piku casually mentions in a conversation with Rana that she cannot leave her father. It is in these moments that one begins to notice the risks that the movie takes without faltering into a love story or a bitter- sweet family drama. It is neither. It’s just a fun movie to watch. At least for the surprises it throws at itself by expanding the capacity of its characters in humorous situations.

Categories
In Between

Testing 123

A shaky hut stands so quiet on a land so lost; one wouldn’t wonder where the hut had vanished to, if it did. A tree grows right in front of the hut and matches every detail with the dry land. Every morning just before the sun rose, I would see the father-daughter sitting by the bench and waiting. I don’t know what they were waiting for. They would just. I would wait for the cranky engine sound to follow soon after this. The van would start and I would watch it disappear into the giant ball of yellow shining ahead. Hours later, a horse would come speeding ahead, a young man riding it and the girl clutching at his quivering sides. They would stop, she would give him water, and he would drink some and throw the rest on a stone nearby. The water would vanish into various maps before fare welling into Africa and then a dot and then nothing. He too, would disappear like that.

I saw a strange boy one day peering into their house. The girl came out minutes later. He wanted water. She gave him the key to the well. They looked at each other long and hard enough for me to get bored. Before he left he flipped out his camera, took the girl’s photo and smiled. She was as quiet as air in a key hole.

Every night after that he would stop by and shine a round light by the side of her bed. She would come out and look at him. There was stillness and they seemed unbothered by it. He was as fast as light; she was as pale as the moon.

One day the father died. Nobody knows how he died but when he did, the girl took the van and left home. She drove past the tree, past the other tree half a mile away from the first tree, past the spot where her father would tell her to get out from the van, past the spot where she once found a dead crow and then she stopped because she couldn’t go any further. There were fences, tall and strong, all around her. She couldn’t cross the fence so she came back home to find the horse man’s family. He married her and fought with her lover.

The lover fought wisely and won her back. She was quieter than ever.

When the horse man leaves, moon and light would come together and creep under the sheets every night. Legs entwined, fingers tracing eyelashes, eyes looking for secrets, hands reaching out for more, and hearts beating thickly.

One morning, a pile of bombs fell on the land and everything ruptured into nothingness. The sun bellowed into an orange sound, the earth fell from under their feet even as the tree was ripped apart and sent flying across continents.

****

When clouds of dust would come whizzing by, I would close my eyes real tight and make mohre carry me. She was pregnant with Siya but she would carry me still. Often she would smile a heavy smile when I told her to do this. The same smile I would see when uninvited relatives would stop by for coffee at home. She wouldn’t know what to do when they would suddenly stop by. We had no coffee, no juice, and no biscuits. Mohre would crush some ginger into boiling water and hand it to them. ‘It’s so cold today. You must have some hot ginger’, she would say. And they would drink it without complaining. After they left, she would scoop out the bits of ginger and use it in whatever dinner was made that night, which was rare actually because I was told we didn’t like dinner as a family. We made good breakfast, light but good.

I was 10.

‘Mohre’, I asked one day. ‘Why does your wedding dress have so much blood on it’?

She looked upset. I didn’t want her to be mad at me. But the blood scared me and I wanted to know.

‘I will tell you when you grow up’, she would say.

I was 13 when I asked her the same question.

She looked thoughtful, not mad this time. ‘I will tell you’, she said.

I was 16. She brought her wedding dress to me the night before my wedding. She held me close and said, ‘Today I will tell you why there was blood on my dress’

‘I know why there was blood mohre. I just want to know if it hurts’

She hugged me tight and wept. She tore my 45 year old fiancé’s photo to bits and we left home that night and never returned.

****

‘Parvaneh, did you take anything from my bag?’

-No. I wasn’t anywhere near your tent.

‘My bulb is missing. Any idea where you saw it’

-No. I am going to my car to get some cds.

‘Ok. Look for my bulb after you get your cds’

A pair of twins wearing red and white appear on the scene. They each have an arm missing. They are carrying a log with 3 dead ducks hanging on to it. They go just as easily as they come. Two men walk into the woods carrying what we will assume, human flesh in plastic bags. They are talking about a man named Hamid who may or may not have twins. A man and his son are arguing in the woods, their voices are shrill like the air around them. There is blood on the land they know nothing of. There is a faraway murder smell creeping behind them, stopping when they turn around.

A strange man, knife in his side pocket, mouth smelling of old beer, mutton and blood walks up to the son’s bag and starts looking into it.

-HEY, that’s my bag. What are you looking for?

I know, I was just seeing. Do you have gas? I need gas.

–No, we are on our way out.

Look at that! You have full tank. I am taking some. You can go, son. Your father and I will talk business while I get fuel. Go on, go.

Yes, go son! Call your mother soon.

–Er, alright. Take care, Dad. Bye.

The son walks away from the woods. Now and then he turns back to see if the man has killed his father. He wants to stop but he doesn’t. He keeps walking. If something were to happen, I wouldn’t keep walking like this, he says to himself.

A pregnant woman carrying a swing is seen on the camp. This is a rumour so don’t believe it.

A woman stands by the edge of a lake and looks at the mountains ahead. They are at once distant and close, like the memory of an echo. Behind her, her boyfriend narrates the story of how she got 2 different eye colours. Her left eye is purple, and her right, dark grey. The man listening to the story was looking for his bulb only minutes ago and is now thrilled by the story. A year ago, at a kite flying competition, while she was flying her kite, the bulb burst in her face and injured her eye. Since then she has begun to see things. She knows bad things will happen before they do, which is why in a matter of minutes her boyfriend and her will be gone from the camp.

A man hides behind the trees and watches a girl get into a car. She is rummaging through some cds. The man walks towards her, knife in his side pocket, human blood rotting under nails, and animal breath in his hair. She freaks out, puts the window down and asks him what the hell. He needs a favor, he says. He needs her to come with him to close the pump so the camp doesn’t get flooded. —-Why should I come? Can’t you go alone?

No, I need you to come because I am not going to come here everytime to turn the pump off. It won’t take long. Just 5 minutes. You can leave soon after I show you where the pump is.

–I’ll call my friend, you can take him.

No, it’s right here behind those trees. Just come.

–O.K.

Even the leaves ruffled in disapproval. Why was she going? Hadn’t she heard enough stories about what happened to young women who decided to help strangers? Especially when they needed help behind the woods?

A pair of twins wearing red and white appear on the scene. They each have an arm missing. They are carrying a log with 3 dead ducks hanging on to it. They go just as easily as they come. The girl notices them, the twins notice her but nobody says anything. At this point it is difficult to say whether they have really seen each other or not.

‘Parvaneh, did you take anything from my bag?’

-No. I wasn’t anywhere near your tent.

‘My bulb is missing. Any idea where you saw it’

-No. I am going to my car to get some cds.

‘Ok. Look for my bulb after you get your cds’

A man named Hamid who may or may not have twins wanders into the woods, knife in his side pocket, hands all bloodied because he has been butchering animals all morning. He sees a girl sitting under a tree, reading and listening to music. She is listening to her favourite band. She wants to watch this band live before she dies. If she were to know what happens next, she would probably make a new wish.

She sees Hamid and screams. He laughs, she calms down. I am scared. He asks if he may sit next to her. She says ok and he sits. In a matter of minutes he has borrowed her mp3 and they are both listening to her favourite band. Now Hamid slides out a saw from underneath his sleeves. I don’t know what happens to the girl. She may or may not have died. Her favourite band appears in front of them and starts playing.

****

Categories
In Between

Finding fanny

A dog yawns, an old aunty sits at her tailoring machine, and a middle aged man lies half awake – half in a drunken stupor, his newspaper imitating his posture on an arm chair outside a Goan home porch. Pocolim, as Deepika puts it is a sleepy town, and to show you just how slow they mean by sleepy, another cat yawns into the silence interrupted only by the lazy croak of a frog. That pleasing coastal sound which comes only if the green in the surroundings is just as pleasing.

Finally a movie set in Goa that doesn’t freak out on beaches. They actually show you a whole other side to goa – its green, the trees, and not just coconut trees. Homes with Goan brick compounds, uncles sleeping in front of dusty chess boards, and a ceiling with unambitious cobwebs.

The town is delightfully Macondo-like, in its half- sleep, half-awake state. Nobody is happy and nobody is sad. To add to that, there’s also a rusting old blue car, a dead cat that is forced to look alive to keep its master’s sanity and a weirdass painter who follows the cat’s tragic fate. Atleast the cat’s dead body got to lie on Dimple Kapadia’s chest.

The movie has some fine flattering bits of comedy. A scene shows Deepika crying on her bed and her mother in law asks her if she is crying and she says yes. Another scene has Naseeruddin Shah howling like a baby while simultaneously riding his bicycle. In much the same spirit, this is what weirdass painter says about the cat that is out to scratch human eyeballs out: ‘Billli pyaari hain lekin thodi paagal hai’.

Even as Arjun Kapoor is contemplating his abilities in bed, random young children appear on screen only to show him their middle fingers. The movie bumps off Pankaj Kapoor (weirdass painter) and nobody notices, a seemingly charming death for a man who looked confused at the concept of biscuit falling off into tea due to over dipping. He gets shot by a bullet that wasn’t even meant for him, rolls off the car, falls into some fishing net and then into the ocean. Ranveer Singh meets his end after choking on his own wedding cake, in much the same way that the cat meets its end after having been flung out of a moving car and hit by a tree.

A letter remains undelivered, sleepy town doesn’t wake up, and the remaining action of the movie unravels in an open field: sex, confessions and denials. The climax boils down to a broken mirage of love as it should be (I want to say, like a Marquez novel here, but I will not). How love may not change but its intensity may plummet down with a massive force after the lover discovers that his loved one has put on ominous amounts of weight, even as she lies dead in her coffin.

I love this movie and not because it was my first time watching a movie alone, but because it didn’t have to try hard to make me laugh. At no point does the movie take itself seriously, not even when the 4 single people that initially went to find fanny get married to each other.

Along with the people and cats dying bit which was hilarious; even interior knowledge that the characters in this movie have about one another manifested into light hilarity. Even as Naseeruddin Shah is recovering from the horror of an undelivered letter, Arjun Kapoor asks him if he was the one howling like a baby the previous night. The over infused ‘mad or what’ in between dialogues cheered me up.

Also, I have decided to move to goa. If I cannot find Pocolim, I will call a stretch of land Pocolim and live there. And I want a cat. Its name will be Dominique Bredoteau.

Categories
In Between

Dedh Ishqiya aur Ek Lihaaf

This year’s general rule has been limited consumption of all that is good. Good food, good movies and good weekends. That explains why after Dedh Ishqiya, I haven’t watched a good Hindi movie this year, well except Queen. Somewhere in the middle of January this year, I caught Dedh Ishqiya at Rex. I hadn’t watched its prequel but that wasn’t a strong enough reservation to not watch the sequel. Real problems like tickets and transportation were the pain and bane. Somehow, a bunch of us made it a full 10 minutes after the movie had begun.

I caught it again on Sony Max today. Apart from rekindling forgotten desires for Huma Qureshi, I finally understood why I liked the movie so much. It’s what they say to each other in the movie. So much like watching a live version of ‘Sex without Love’, only better, because of the language. Launde for guys, and bang in the middle of this Hindiness, Qureshi says, “Yehi toh problem hai tum aaj kal ke laundon mein. Ishq aur sex mein farak nahi karpaate na tum?” Immediately after this, I noticed how he slapped her, pushed her hard on the ground, beat her. I also noticed how neither the women nor the movie spent much time in reacting to this violence. It didn’t need to. For all the ‘junoon-oons-ibadat-sex-mohabbat-ishq’ dialogue between Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi, the women spend very little time talking about love.

That and Chugtai’s Lihaaf scenes. Shah casually slipping intelligent lines to Warsi – ‘Thand lag rahi hai, lihaaf maangle kya’? The yellow backdrop working itself out like the lihaaf behind Naseeruddin shah as he sits tied up and slumping while the two women in front of him become one shadow.

Something very unburdening about not being in love with the opposite sex. It’s like being in love with yourself. I don’t know what that means yet. But maybe it’s finally a relationship where you don’t have to bargain for anything with anybody – either for commitment or for space. A very mellow in-between-ness that isn’t certainly removed from insecurity but strongly grounded in real conflicts.

As the men are left to fend for themselves, the women drive off into the sunset in a red maruti, just like that. Something about strongly encircling their lives without the need for anything male. I missed the Lihaaf bits when I watched it the first two times, because I was too distracted by Arshad Warsi’s brilliant comic exploitation on my jaw. But now that I have watched it again on a more personal level, I feel unburdened every time I remember Huma qureshi’s quizzical expression after Warsi declares love for her or the way she doesn’t fall off track after a night of passionate heterosexual sex.

Here is a link to ‘Lihaaf’ – the short story by Ismat Chugtai –

http://www.manushi-india.org/pdfs_issues/PDF%20file%20110/9.%20Short%20Story%20-%20Lihaaf%20%5BThe%20Quilt%5D.pdf

And here is a link to Lihaaf – the short film based on Chugtai’s story-

Categories
In Between

B – Bangalore

Most of my childhood was spent travelling between cities- big and small, dusty and clean, with and without AC restaurants, with and without Hotel Kamat, and all in white ambassador cars, those guilt and nausea producing automobiles – from Gulbarga to Mangalore to Belgaum. In all that time, Bangalore was quite the strange city for me. Its narrative among faltering cousins always included descriptions of imported cars, never to be seen elsewhere in the country. Buildings so tall, ‘olle america tara ide’. Roads so wide, that you won’t even notice the time it takes to get to places. But I was a beach person at heart (still am) and that’s why nothing anybody ever said made a difference to me. I was a Mangalore girl through and through and the fact that Bangalore has no beaches made me happy because it couldn’t compete with Mangalore.

My first visit to Bangalore confirmed the America connection because dad took us to Kemp Fort. That and the fact that they had ‘custard caramel’ in the hotel that we stayed in – Sanman Deluxe. The only other restaurant I knew that served custard caramel was a modest ‘New Khyber’ in Belgaum.

I grew lesser and lesser curious about the other part of the city which always remained a mystery to me. It didn’t really matter to me because I didn’t want to know what lay beyond the white washed walls of the Shiva temple next to Kemp fort or where the road from Sapna Book house went to. I didn’t want to know if a better America lived there and if it did what they ate. The only places I can recollect having been familiar with are Fishland and Sapna at Majestic because dad took us there every evening that we were in the city. I remember having walked on the road that goes down from Fishland, eating corn, and competing with my sister to show her that I was not shorter than her.

The remainder of the time was spent in Sanman deluxe where my sister and I would continue our struggle to have quiet fights, away from mother’s ears. We fought over books so my mother bought two of everything. We had Two Snow white and the seven dwarves, two Sleeping beauties and two Secret sevens. I flinch with regret when I think of those painful twos now. Stupid bitch wanted everything that I bought. That’s all of the Bangalore that remained with me when I was away from the city. Eight years into living in Bangalore and I still hadn’t discovered the city and its food, its lanes and its theatres.

And then, the ninth year I fell in love with a boy. That’s when I slowly started to notice the city. Bangalore is a lovely city to watch from the back seat of a boyfriend’s bike. Sometimes he shrugged with indifference when I asked him how he remembered lanes, sometimes he would frown at my naivety, and some other times he would laugh menacingly at my questions. Bastard doubled up with laughter and almost fell off his bike near Lalbagh when I asked him why we had been passing through the same Lalbagh for over 15 minutes. I didn’t know there was more than one entrance to Lalbagh.

It would be too haughty of me to say that I discovered the city then, on the back of a pulsar. Only a small fraction of my interest about the city was slowly beginning to peek around this time. Discovery was far away, still waiting for me in the lanes of Ulsoor and Richmond road and Kammanahalli and Banaswadi.

I must have been too much in love with him to notice when the big, flashy sari shops from above Majestic’s Mantap became small clusters of ‘Hotel Lucky inn’ and ‘Hotel Quickly’ on Cottonpet main road. I was amazed at the smart turns he took to avoid maniac cows around the corners of his house.

I have always been fascinated with driving/riding one’s way through the city and he seemed to know it really well. I only had to give him a landmark and he would take me there. I was bowled over by his riding in and out of any lanes that the city just threw on unsuspecting onlookers like myself.

It was a delight to discover the street food lanes by the cramped and moving streets of Chikpet. Here I found Papdi- that delightful yellow crunchiness with its green chilli companion – so subtle, you won’t know when your tongue is on fire. I feel indebted to the boyfriend’s mother for introducing me to Papdi.

Soon I was moving to different bikes and their backseats and different parts of the city and their histories. The old antique-y homes on Cockburn road and Shivajinagar. The shape shifting houses around cantonment, the office/temple/go-down homes near Ulsoor. I hate to exaggerate but my bond with the city is more romantic than much else. So much of it was uncovered in the backseats of bikes. And the conversations about the city that followed were no less romantic.

I started riding 3 weeks ago and it is with deep sorrow that I have to report that no amount of discovering/uncovering the damn city happens when you are riding your own bloody vehicle. People will honk mercilessly like their fucking life depends on it if you so much as slow down to look for parking. For all its romance, the city people are mean to L boards. I know this – I honked exasperatedly at three L board vehicles today.

Slowly, my curiosity to learn more about the city is growing. It was after a lifetime of multiplexes that I discovered the joy of watching Tamil movies in Lavanya theatre, which for a long time I had only looked at disapprovingly from outside. The boyfriend hated single screens – something about bugs under the seat and the pressure of having to protect the girlfriend and all.  Many moons later, I did go to Lavanya and ended up having fun. No bugs. Now I almost feel left out in multiplexes if nobody whistles when the hero makes his entry onscreen. It smells nice but feels empty in multiplexes.

Eating is yet another romance that I relate the city with. Once upon a boyfriend time, I used to be a sucker for Chinese food. I took my boyfriend to the newly opened Chung Wah Opus in Jayanagar and he loved it so much that he decided to eat there twice a week, making me hate Chinese food forever.

I started discovering taste and food around the time I fell in love with Lavanya, which isn’t too long ago. I tasted sushi for the first time – loved it. My taste buds started craving for seafood kimbabs every other week, I found out that I am attracted to crab in more ways than one and belted it at ‘Mangalore Pearl’ and ‘Carnival de Goa’, I fell in love multiple times with Hye Kum Gang and Benjarong and then Republic of noodles happened, that delicious,delicious bitch.

I don’t learn more about this city with every passing day because most of the time I don’t even notice the streets I am walking on. But suddenly something goes boink in my head and I have all these questions. It happens over time, getting to know this city and others. It’s slow but I don’t have anywhere else to be for now so I’ll take my time. On my two wheeler.

Categories
In Between

Q- Queen

There are many movies that I am a huge sucker for. I watch them over and over again either because I really like a scene or because somebody says the right thing in the movie that makes me just want to sit up and applaud endlessly. Some movies remain with me, long after I have left them not because somebody says all the right things in the end but because sometimes, things have been said so much and so many times that you choose not to say them anymore. She could have told him to go to hell, she could have told him that he caused her many a sleepless nights, she could have told him that she deserves somebody better but all she does is stand there in front of him, rejecting even what should have been said and smiles sheepishly. Madam then hugs him, says ‘thank you’ and leaves. No turning back to show middle finger – no throwing the ring into the air, not even ‘I have to look modern now because I have become independent’ – just plain old moving on. That is Queen for me. Words like ‘Bold’, ‘New age’ and ‘Breakthrough’ seem like adjectives for gadgets and therefore don’t do justice to the mad narrative that is Queen.

I liked that Queen’s return to India was not grand and hence not embellished by skirts or jeans or much else. She left to her honeymoon all by herself, a sad woman in chudidar and returned a happier woman in pretty much the same clothes. The success of the movie for me was when the audience was left baffled during this airport scene. The silence that followed after this scene was cold and cutting, like it knew that it was unwelcome there and it was forced as a result of shock and that it’s cheering-hooting predecessors are all laughing at it menacingly.

Queen surprises you on many levels and these levels have nothing to do with the villain- fiance. All these levels are Queen-related and she aces them with giggles. She doesn’t fall in love in Paris – she falls in love with Paris – she learns how to cross its streets without help, she finds her passion, drives maddeningly through Parisian streets, lives with 3 men in a hostel- has an unromantic relationship with each, lives also; with a woman – no romance there either.

And after all this, she comes back happy and healed. Not changed or revolutionized or baptized into a modern woman. Just happy.

A couple of weeks ago, a status update a friend had posted about some lame ass singer who doesn’t believe in feminism because she thinks global warming is more important (!) had me seething with rage for a week. I retaliated in much the same way – stupid and pointless. She’s a nice person and everything but now I am thinking: movies like Queen are a total waste on her and the kinds simply because they think that feminism hasn’t done anything for them. It’s much more delightful to deal with people who question feminism than with people who are indifferent to it and by extension, themselves.

Never mind. Queen rocks. You should watch it.

P.S: Delayed post, I know. But Q for Queen made perfect sense just now.