Monday, December 14, 2009

Reality Bites

K was upset last night when I observed that he seemed to be having fun watching films like 'Mumbai Meri Jaan'. It wasn't meant to be taken personally, of course (although my bluntness always does end up making things sound offensive). What I was trying to understand was why we think we're doing something commendable by watching these serious 'arty' films when we end up miserable and disillusioned at the state of things in our country.

K, after calming down, considered. He was of the opinion that he personally felt the need to know what was actually going on around him currently. The point then is that are these films are realistic as they seek to be or is reality cinema a carefully packaged product to assuage our aesthetically sensitive yet coercively conscientious minds ? Are we not perhaps unwitting voyeurs of the filmi version of someone else's actual grief ? Would we actually be able to digest the raw uncensored truth underlying incidents and issues that make headlines every often ? Or is watching such films just a consolation to our nuclear-family oriented, flat-residing, basically narcissistic selves : aiding our attempts to go to sleep each night knowing that all we are doing each day is mostly catering to our personal needs, our carefully cordoned-off solipsistic planes of existence ?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Carbon-ing down

For the last few days, the newspapers have been full of ' The Copenhagen Summit', 'greenhouse gases', 'carbon footprints' and 'emission standards'. Not that the issues have sprung up overnight. They are long standing concerns, most of which we think about happening to the rest of the world and affecting them rather than us. Until we find food prices rising at an alarming rate, without any dearness allowance to compensate them. Until the monsoons appear unexpectedly late and even then, rains take place sporadically in the city and the state. Until one whole year passes without there being any signs of the onset of winter and we are unable to flaunt our expensive woollens. Until the news of an Aila, a Tsunami and flash floods all over the country are discussed so much in intellectual quarters and the newspaper editorials that we cannot shut them out of our lives any longer. Until Al Gore's 'An Inconvenient Truth' wins him the Nobel. Until one apocalyptic morning when we wake up to find everyone conscientious talking/blogging green.

This morning I sat still with the newspaper for several minutes, trying to recall what I do in my everyday life to minimise my carbon footprints. I was able to take pride in remembering :

1) To switch off the lights and fans in all rooms whenever I leave the room, besides unplugging chargers and switching off the laptop instead of putting it in stand-by mode.

2) To minimise AC usage in my apt in Somerville, NJ,USA and at my parents' in Salt Lake. (Since we don't have an AC in Kalikapur yet, it doesn't figure).

3) To use buckets of water while bathing most of the time, limiting my shower use to shampoo sessions.

4) To use herbal products, be it my toiletries or my domestic cleaners.

5) To buy and grow potted plants so as to keep my own microcosm as green as possible.

6) To avoid polythenes when doing my groceries (the fact that 'Stop N Shop' gave us a 5 cents discount on every one we re-used was just an added motivation).

7) To avoid throwing polythenes here and there, which the Marwari family next door in Salt Lake seem to have made a record of, taking great delight in clogging our gutters during the monsoons (once even forcing Baba to don surgical gloves and Wellingtons and stand knee deep in polluted water to clean them out).

8) To use CFLs in all the light fittings at home, even the bedside lamps, although they cost quite a bit more initially.

9) To avail of public transport whenever and wherever possible, for instance buses, autos and the humble, eco-friendly rickshaw, and walking short distances rather than taking an auto or the car.

10) To turn off the tap when not in immediate use, for instance when brushing.

11) To keep used utensils wet and soapy to loosen the grime and grease on them, before rinsing them out.

Maybe I could do lots more. But it gladdens my heart to think I've made some smart choices and I did them of my own volition. There is much among these that my family members don't bother about and might even interpret as interference or an invasion of their respective private spaces, should I dare to shortlist their questionable daily habits. Well, at least I'm clear to my own conscience. What about you ?

Thursday, December 03, 2009


Everyone seems to be getting hitched of late. I wouldn't mind that, except that we get invited to celebrate all the occasions.Yeah right, I know you're saying. How can one rant about dressing up and indulging one's taste buds at all ? Well, if you were in my position, you'd know. I've been attending invitations from the 21st of Nov and there are several more queued up right till mid-Dec. Of late, I seem to be seeing too colourful versions of myself in the mirror each evening and ransacking my wardrobe for the most elegant saree to wear next day. Even K (who can't be too bothered about dressing up and is usually glad to leave all clothing options to my prudent self) got worked up enough to turn out and address the stock of ethnic clothes he possessed and even perturbed enough to accompany me to buy a new kurta from Prapti (which I'm sure, Abir and he have been enriching financially for the last couple of years). My stock of sarees, I'm happy to let you know, is still good and I do have alternatives enough to confound me most of the time from making a rapid choice. The miracle of course is due to my absence in India for over a year succeeding my marriage, which means that most of the sarees that were part of my wedding trousseau or gifts from generous well-wishers at our biye/reception are still new and compliment-worthy (well, that might be a hint, I suppose !).

Not so with my jewellery which K has been scandalised to find that I'm quite content with and not at all in any hurry of replenishing or adding to. I love pearls and got several sets of them as wedding gifts and a few invitees were decent, daring and darling enough to give me cosmetic jewellery, which are very tasteful and trendy. Oh well, at least in sync with my taste. K however insisted that I had nothing to match my zardosis and dragged me along to Chique in Metropolis Mall, Hiland Park, to buy me a beautiful set of silver pendant and earrings to compensate. I'm grateful he did but not overtly exuberant. Jewellery never did figure in my list of flauntable assets. What I am increasingly enthusiastic about is footwear and my last minute purchases for my wedding featured two expensive silver and gold slip-ons from Kamal & Kamal near Gariahat More. Otherwise though, I'm sorry to say that my taste in shoes is quite conservative and the most adventurous I've been in terms of colour is buying a pair of slip-ons in plum and a couple in cream. Sneakers in all colours keep on tempting me though and I somehow fear that I shall eventually succumb and buy a pair in green or blue or even purple. Sneakers shall be my doom, methinks ;-)

As for hair, I have finally returned to layers from the much-overdone steps and can safely say that I find this easier to manage, versatile enough to address or vary the look of and yet, simple enough to handle on an everyday basis without tooking too plain-Jane (or in my case, plain clueless). Formerly, if I went to a biyebari , I never know what to do with my hair. Usually, I hated long hair because when I kept it open, I looked good but sweated like a pig. If I tie it back, I feel good but look chubby cheeked and rotund in all the photos. Now, I just keep it tied in a top-knot or blow-dry the roots before I venture out and I'm done for the day (or to be more precise, the occasion).

As for make up, I have finally learned to be on time and almost as swift as the boys by totally dispensing with the pathetic goo that is foundation. The amount of effort that went into applying and then later in the night, removing the mess, was enough to make me hot and bothered, which must, after all, have visibly impaired my cheerfulness at parties. Now I religiously follow the cleansing-toning-moisturising routine and devote a little more time to eye shadow. All that goes to highlight my face is compact and blush. The first evens out the skin tone (and I've heard, makes for better photos) while the latter contours the face, enhances my so-so cheekbones and gives my nose the merit it duly deserves ( I really can't be bothered to be modest about my nose, it's the best part of my physiognomy after all). So, spared of all the foundation and concealer nonsense, I'm on time, look presentable and feel festive. That keeps everyone happy. And saves my energy for channelising into more worthwile things like photography, observing human failings and dessert.

Turns out, I'm not too disgruntled after all. Whassay ? ;-)


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