Of cups and Pads and Menstrual fads.

Note: This is a Personal Review of the Menstrual Cup, in case you are a squeamish person with a weak heart, please skip this because it mentions menstruation, blood and sanitary pads as well.

My last post on Periods was so sober that I decided to write another one bitching about how bitchy I get during mine. However, without my PMS fueling me on, it is a tad bit difficult. So I  am going to make this a personal review post.

So, when I first started with my periods, my mom, introduced the Carefree pad to me. In the 90s, before the winged pads came into our lives, Carefree was the go-to sanitary pad. Cheap and comfort rolled into one. One could argue that the belt made it weird and cumbersome, but I kind of found it reassuring. Like, the painful belt reminded me constantly that I was on my periods and was protected as well. Changing it wasn’t just difficult, it took a lot of complex gymnastic moves and a well practiced routine.

In college, I was finally enlightened and I tried moving to the fancier pads with all their sticky backs, wings and blue blood. However, my gorgeous skin decided to suddenly become sensitive to all things not cotton. So I returned back to Carefree, with my tail between my legs and vowed to never try and change again. Painfully I stuck to the vow till about last year. So basically, for nearly 20 odd years I went through

  • Scouting for shops which still sells Carefree
  • Buying and stocking up pads for as many years as I financially can
  • Getting a jar of Vaseline for the belt marks
  • Discovering newer and easier ways of changing in and out of the pads

Last year, by some divine intervention, I happened upon an article on Menstrual cups. While it did gross me and scare me a little in parts, I was curious. So after doing a ton of research and reading like a 100 articles and personal blogs, I decided to give it a go. It’s been a year since then and I have never felt more comfortable about my periods… ever.

For everyone who has been thinking of changing over or is brave enough to try it out, please please please DO IT. While the GST and fond feelings for your environment might be the best motivators, do it for yourself. Trust me, once you do get a hang of it, you will wonder why you didn’t try it before. The scariest things about a Menstrual Cup

  • Inserting it might pain. A little, at first maybe. But once you master the trick, the whole process will become your muscle memory and you will not even think about it.
  • What if it gets stuck? This is probably the biggest worry some of you might have. Remember, there is no way up for it to go. As long as you know how to use your Kegel Muscles, you are golden. In the worst case scenario that you freak out and can’t take it out. Your Gynae can help. But trust me, I have helped at least 5 people convert and none of them had to visit the hospital
  • Silicon inside the body. It’s safe and reusable. Plus it is much better than all the synthetic pads and the moisture that gives you rashes.
  • Leaking and cleaning. It’s capable of holding the heaviest of flows for at least 3 hours, in my case. Changing/emptying is as simple as take it out, empty it, wash it with water and insert it right back in.
  • Hygiene. It is most hygienic since it only holds on to the blood. There is no absorption into anything or any odor. Sterilizing it in boiling water before and after your periods is enough.

Apart from the financial part (I have saved nearly 10000 bucks till date), it is so much more cleaner than having to feel that moisture and getting chafed while simply walking around on a hot day. Once you get used to it you will barely remember it exists or that you are menstruating. No more sitting down or holding your sneeze, no more skipping those trousers and definitely no more waddling around. And the best part? You can pee or poop without disturbing it.

If you are wondering why isn’t it mainstream if it’s so beneficial, the answer is simple. The companies manufacturing the pads won’t really like a product that basically puts them out of business, will they? Add to it the absence of any proper literature about it and you have a simple and useful product lost in the midst of brands.

I know I do sound like an advert at times but it is only because I really really love this product. I have bought two spare ones just in case the first one has any issues. But it’s been a year and it’s still working perfectly.

Please reach out in case you have any concerns or queries about the menstrual cup. I would love to help you convert.

 

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Dil Dhadakne Do – A review.

Zoya Akhtar You Rock!!!

Once in a while, you get to read a book or watch a movie that totally gets you and has that feel good factor about it. Dil Dhadakne Do is definitely one such film.

Although I love my books to be gory, thrilling and even mysterious, I prefer my movies to be light and airy with not much melodrama which is usual in every Bollywood Movie (even the copies and the remakes!!!). So I don’t generally watch Bollywood stuff. Recently two movie trailers caught my attention and thanks to the marketing team, I was really looking forward to watching both. One was Bombay Velvet and the other was Dil Dhadakne Do. While one was a total bust, the other made me come out of my self imposed hibernation and write this.

I remember watching the multi-cast movies like “Love Actually”, “Valentine’s Day” etc. and wondering when our movies will finally grow up. Thanks to Zoya, I have my answer now. This doesn’t mean there haven’t been good, matured movies before… Dil Chahta hain is a great example. However, with the recent crop of random movies I had totally lost faith. PIKU was in itself a great stepping stone as well. However, DDD made me smile… and laugh like a total lunatic… after a very long time. Although it made Pickle and T freak out a little but totally worth it.

Every facet of the movie is truly exceptional, the screenplay, the casting (Oh the casting!!! Anil Kapoor has completely astounded me. Priyanka and Shefali were their usual amazing selves… Ranveer… was Ranveer… more about him later… in fact I might just dedicate a whole post to him!!!), the dialogues (although a couple of them were a teeny weeny bit cheesy but for maybe the first time, I have seen a movie with such honest conversations and as I mentioned before, PIKU comes close too) and of course the songs. The movie in its entirety was truly worth the wait and the watch.

What struck me the most about the movie is that it was all so true. Alright we all do not have rich parents, or business backgrounds or cruises to fall in love on but we all do have parents who put on their good faces in public “for society’s sake” or that total lukkha younger brother who has no idea what he wants to do in life or that amazing sister/daughter who in spite of being an overachiever, is never on the forefront just cause she’s a girl. We also have fathers who bribe us into getting that prestigious “engineering” degree if not a girl, the mother who screams like a lunatic and slaps you while hugging you in fright and delight, the brother who is always our partner in crime come what may and the sister who feels it is her “duty” to keep everyone happy. We have all been on that side of the conversation when we kept silent although there was a shitload of stuff to be said, or times when we just hoped the others would speak their heart out instead of pretending everything was fine or the dilemmas we have faced when our hearts and minds have clashed over issues.

The little jokes, punchlines and even certain slapstick dialogues that peppered the movie were so in sync with the whole plot. Overall, I think this movie is going into my stash, the one which I often break open on rainy days or happy days or even sad days along with my blankie just to feel good about life. I would suggest you go and watch it if you want to watch something sensible and grown up. Of course there are still loopholes and other grey areas which if you want to nitpick, can be very helpful. But as they say, every heart beats with a different rhythm, so let it… Dil Dadhakne Do!!!

Wasted weekend : Besharam ( Review)

Justin Rao, I am still waiting to see if you actually liked this movie. And if I find out you did, I WILL disown you!!!

So its been like ages since I have been to a theatre. I have been living off the reviews posted by my blogger friends and finding satisfaction in the same. However, this week I decided I really really needed to go out and watch a movie… any movie… ( little did I know how stupid I was being with this statement). I had the choice of watching the Lunchbox or Besharam. I picked Besharam.

The reason behind was not cause I was trying to be suicidal but cause my stupid hubby had watched it with his friends and I was sulking about it. So, Besharam it was! Now the thing about vizag is that you really can’t just go to the “City” (yeah… we literally live in a village and the malls are in what we call ‘The town’), watch a movie and get back. You better plan an elaborate day around it so that you can justify the 80 km drive (to and fro) and also the ridiculous amount of danger you put yourself in by weaving through the roads of this tiny city. So I booked tickets, made reservations in my fav restaurant and also came up with a forced list of to-do things and shopping.

The Bandh kinda ruined it all and we were stuck in our little village… errr… community. Thankfully the community theatre decided to be nice to us and play the same movie, so we went there to watch it.

It will not be an exaggeration when I tell you that the 1 and a half hour that I spent in that beautiful auditorium were literally the worst in the last whole month!!! 1 and ½ cause I could not bear watching it beyond that duration.

It was torture in its pure form. I know bollywood movies usually have absolutely no logic or sense behind their scripts but this was way beyond senseless. The so called comedy wasn’t even slapstick!!! The songs and dances were… random and ridiculous. And contrary to popular assumption, Ranbir DID NOT pull the movie through. Ok I admit I didn’t see it till the end but whatever I saw did not leave any impression on me regarding his acting prowess. Frankly except for Rockstar I didn’t find him good in any other movie.

This movie was too much like the 80s when the heroine hates the hero and then with one song suddenly falls head over heels for the guy…. Seriously!!! And whats with a song and a dance every 15 minutes? They were not even good enough to be tolerated. Random tunes with random gyrating movements. YUCK!!!

I am sorry but Besharam has been an epic fail for me. With Bombay talkies bolly wood had managed to regain some ground with me but now I will probably never watch another hindi movie in a long long long time…

And now a 1 minute silence for the lost hours on Saturday!!!

Inferno by Dan Brown : A Review

It has been ages since I have posted a review. Not that I haven’t been gulping down books or movies, but simply cause I am lazy!

The reason I ended up buying Inferno was cause it was on a 50 % sale and cause I had genuinely liked Dan Brown’s previous novels. This one, however, was definitely not to my liking.

After The Da vinci Code and the types, I expected a mysterious thriller which would not let me put the book down. Contrary to my expectations, the book turned out to be quite a drag. The story line was good (Nope… not gonna give it away), even the narration was good till a certain point. The things that I didn’t care for :

1. The awfully boring and loonnnnnng explanation and description of various art pieces and places.

2. The total Bollywood style twist in the end

3. The abrupt and incomplete end to the story!

I mean come on… this was supposed to be a thriller… not a history lesson. Also, if you haven’t been to the place, the long winding description of its beautiful corridors and hidden passages will seem … boring. I finished the book only cause I never leave a book unread. But I must confess, it was quite a pain. I kept putting it down. Definitely not something one would expect from Dan Brown.

 

So in all, I would just give it a 1/5 rating.

Trust : Book Review

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I won the book “trust” as a goodreads giveaway.
I must admit, I am probably not its target audience. I don’t read sappy love stories. I prefer gruesome murder mysteries and thrillers to such blatant erotica and lovey dovey any day.
However, the story line and characterizations are pretty strong and overall, being totally objective about it, I would say it was a well written and crafted book.
The character sketches of everyone in the book, the flow of the narrative and the background of suspense will prove to be a page turner for those who like romance and erotica.
We have a strong woman who’s turned to putty in the arms of men of charisma. After I read the prologue of the next book, I hope for a change of scenario in this trilogy.
The start of the story was promising. Sophia’s character was sketched perfectly and I was led to believe that she was an extremely strong female who’s smart, intelligent and has a iron will. But when she faced physical abuse and still went back to the guy, I was thoroughly disappointed. And then again, my hopes soared high when on the prologue of the next book we are introduced to her letter breaking up with the guy.
She kinda jumped into the bed with the first guy – and I guess it was because she was widowed for almost 2 years – but takes her own sweet time with the second one trying not to make the same mistake.
As the first male lead was introduced into the story, I realized that this was turning into a sappy love story which ultimately implies that women are easily swayed by hunky men. The introduction of the second lead left no doubts that the story was following the path tread by Fifty shades of Grey. The only relief was that unlike Greys’ storyline, there wasn’t amorous displays on every third page of the book. And on the end of the book, we see a totally different approach from the fifty shades of grey.
That said, I have to admit that in isolation (away from my experience with “Fifty Shades of Grey”), the book does seem to do justice to its characters and storyline. It builds up suspense at the right places and any regular romance reader would definitely be looking forward to the second part.

Kai-po-che : A Review (Spoiler Free)

I am not really a fan of the movies. Especially the ones based on novels (True to my wormy nature, I prefer books any day). More so if it is a bollywood adaptation. They usually end up spoiling the essence of the story and you are left with a hollow feeling once the movie ends. Coming to Kai po che, I frankly wasn’t excited at all. I have read all of Chetan bhagat’s book (It is my compulsive nature… I just have to read everything), and I’m not impressed. His book “Three mistakes of my life” was melodramatic in nature and a little tacky at times. So when Kaipoche happened, I wasn’t really interested. Then, I happened to read what Justin Rao had to say about the movie. He is an amazing critic and though we have our differences ( he liked cocktail, and that’s a crime on my list), I still love his reviews. I really never have the patience to scrutinize a movie that clearly and fairly. His review inspired me to give the movie a chance, and I must say, I was pleasantly surprised.

When you read a book, you are in control opposed to when you are watching a movie. The book gives you an infinite canvas to draw your imagination on whereas the movie is bound by the vision of the director and the acting of the actors. This movie is different. The screenplay has been changed and what is astonishing is that story is more alive because of that. Instead of being crippled by the changes, the story now has a new lease of life which is definitely a better experience.  The book was too filmy for my taste, the movie on the other hand is spectacularly fresh and realistic. However, I also agree with the other critics who instead of accusing Chetan bhagat for a sub-standard book, have praised him for the originality of the idea. As they said, Kaipoche wouldn’t be what it is, if it was not for the book itself.

The actors have all done a fabulous job, and so has the technical crew – be it the editing, camera work or the background scores. If you have read the book, you will love the movie . If you haven’t read the book, this movie will enthrall you all the same. But try not to go back and read the book ( yeah… some people actually do that).

Either way do watch the movie. For a review better than mine, read this : http://thinkingdoggy.wordpress.com/2013/02/23/kai-po-che/

Cold Feet : A Review

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I loved the author’s debut novel ” You are here”. It was peppy and full of references that totally made sense to me at that point of my life. And surprisingly it still is an awesome read. So I bought “Cold feet” with the same expectation.

It is not a bad novel. But it is not amazing. It is well written, well defined… and the stories are well connected. But there’s something amiss. After a while it becomes stereotypical and cliched. After a while you lose interest in the story and the final few pages are pushed about in a sad attempt to finish the book.

It might seem that the story would take a feminist stand in a little while… but it never does. The characters are painted to seem frail and lost without a man in their life. Some might start to take a stand but eventually they end up as “with someone” before they can truly be happy. This was disappointing. I had picked it up for the review said ” A bold new voice” and somehow ended up with a regular chick flick sort of a book..

Good points about it ? I like the way she writes. The story this time was not substantial to hold my interest but I really like the way she narrates. The long winding sentences might seem a little amateurish to some… but I relate to it.

Overall, a good, light read…

Blood Red Sari : A Review

Fast. Thrilling. A through and through Page turner!

download (1)I could not put the book down. I finished it in a day… and felt good about it, not Cheated or unsatisfied. Usually I love to read the last few pages to figure out the mystery. It makes me a lot more patient about reading the book rather than flipping through pages to reach the end. But I resisted the urge to figure out the ending before time. Not because it was predictable (cause it surely was not), or cause I was bored. I resisted cause the story flew so beautifully that I was afraid to break the flow.

The characters have been defined with a fine paintbrush. the narration is flawless. Though it bears the tag of fiction, the storyline is developed in such a way that it has this aura of “reality” around it. The protagonists never behave like superhumans… or achieve something out of the ordinary. Their stories… their struggles and their fight seems real… seems closer to the heart… seems absolutely possible.

There are a few loopholes and ditches which can be easily ignored… in fact they don’t even come to light while you are reading the book. The book grasps you from Page one and doesn’t let go even after the last one. You would want to keep turning the pages just to make sure you haven’t missed out anything. The ending is a little… abrupt… but… still makes sense.

I now look forward to reading more from this author.

The Dalai Lama’s Cat : A review

downloadI am not a very religious person… nor am I the types to subscribe to any spiritual beliefs. My only contact with god is when I feel thankful or when I need something very badly… spirituality is something I have always avoided. I don’t like hearing/reading or learning about it.

When I picked up this book, it was only cause the title intrigued me. If I had known it would contain spiritual or philosophical learnings, I would have never ever bought this book ( yeah.. I am weird in this sense). But I am glad I did buy it and read it. Finished it in a single day. It gave me comfort through my sniffles and sore throat while I lay bundled up in a blanket sipping green tea.

The narrator, as most of you would have guessed from the title, is a cat. Now I abhor cats… or dogs… for a simple reason that… I don’t know what they are thinking and I hate that! But, even I wanted to pet and cuddle the cat while I was reading the book. It is a beautiful amalgamation of Buddha’s teachings and the feline characteristics which make it a loved pet of… some people.

It made sense… even if you hate the thought of spiritual or philosophical non-sense (no offence to believers), you would love this book. It doesn’t delve too much into Buddhism or try to give too many lectures. It subtly merges some of the enlightening thoughts of the religion with everyday life events… Makes it more believable and adaptable to non believers like me.

I loved reading it and maybe someday would want to pick up the other titles from the author.

Heroine : A Review

Here’s my formal apology to all my readers who were miffed, offended or totally pissed off by my review on the movie Cocktail. I would hereby like to retract my opinion that it was the worst movie I ever saw. In my defense, I hadn’t seen “Heroine” till then. At least Cocktail had great songs, tolerable humour and a very orthodox/outdated/idiotic story line… but story line nonetheless. I wish I could say anything good about “Heroine”… but I sincerely cannot.

I am not a huge fan of Madhur Bhandarkar movies, but I thought page 3 was terrific, I managed to stay awake through fashion (that’s a compliment to the movie) and found traffic signal a very well directed movie…  so I managed to convince my hubby to book us a first day first show ticket for “heroine” (trust me I have a lifetime supply of  “I-told-you-so” from my hubby now). To say that it was a mistake would be lame, it was nothing but a total disaster. Ten minutes into the movie and already Kareena’s absolutely non-existent acting skills were becoming intolerable by the minute. The next ten minutes we fidgeted around and decided that the hot snacks and the caramel popcorn were worth sitting through the excruciating movie… plus we really didn’t have to be anywhere so we could kill time by cracking obscene jokes and hogging food!

A movie is usually bad in certain aspects. Sometimes the storyline is something very clichéd, at other times the acting of the actors is pathetic. Some movies don’t appeal to us cause either their overdramatic stance of life or if they are too artsy fartsy (though I personally love art cinema). With this movie, I tried real hard to find one good thing… trust me, as I sat through those hours… I decided to look for one tiny speck of something that would make the time spent a little worthwhile. Sadly I couldn’t find anything. The story is… well honestly there’s no story. There was absolutely no point in the whole movie. It was more of a mash up between page 3 and fashion. We know Media over-hypes every news, we know the whole thing about casting couches and trust me we also know that gay people exist. Not just in the “filmy” worlds but in the real world too. And as much as the whole thing probably scandalized us during “Page 3”, its old news now…

The acting was, to put it mildly, utterly revolting. Lets talk about the supporting cast first. The gays were too obvious and trying to put some sense of humor in the movie which was insulting to the sect and in very very poor taste… and not even funny for that matter. Then there were the “rival” heroines, who were plain bad. The way they put on airs and hopped around… was plain pathetic, made up and in fact ri-don-culous!!!. The love interests were again a terrible act. Arjun Rampal was still good considering he did play his role quite convincingly. Randeep was… I don’t really know what he was trying to do. He was a clingy, needy, narcissistic and idiotic character… a kind of boyfriend none of us girls would really like at all. He did try to play the role… but again… who is that clingy!!! Divya dutta was good. She in fact was one of the strong points in the movie, but sadly her role was too short. Shahana and Ranvir did an absolutely awesome job even in this crappy movie. Helen’s role was clichéd and not needed at all. The rest were either small time or washed out actors who did no justice to their roles or the movie.

Finally commenting on the Heroine of “Heroine”, I find myself struggling. I love bitching and would have loved to criticize her, but I have seen her shine in “Jab we met” and somehow I feel that the story was too weak for her to do anything about it. I accept she was not that good, but she did try her best to portray a Bipolar character. The story just did not give her a chance to prove anything. Just as she would get comfortable, the narrative changed and it was way too confusing for us as audience to really relate to her as a character. The songs were again not that great… yeah yeah I know she looks hot in the “Halkat Jawani” number… but you rather watch it on the tv free of cost than pay to watch it along with the movie.

Overall, I think the movie sucked big time and I happily wasted some precious hours of my life. There was absolutely no need for this movie to be made. It might have been good to see a “Normal” person in the role (I mean, not every Heroine is bipolar you know!!!). But that would probably make it more like Fashion’s story. Whatever reasons this movie got made for, it was absolutely a disaster in my book. I did expect a lot out of Madhur… anywho… in case you are planning to see it, I would suggest you download a copy and watch it unless you LOUVEEE Kareena and/or love totally gross acting (which we kinda get enough of on the smaller screen).

So long…

Barfi : A Review

Last year when the silent movie “The Artist” won so many awards, I was intrigued. I wondered how a silent movie could even be nominated for an award considering there were no dialogues. I mean wasn’t that what really defined the tone of the movie? And then … I saw Barfi last night. To say that I was amazed and astounded would be a gross understatement.

From the beginning credit roll till the very end, the movie was nothing short of being magical. I find myself constantly at loss of words while writing this review. New words demand to be created only to describe this movie and the beautiful world it transports its viewers to for, sadly, a very short time. I have never felt so warm and cozy inside while watching a movie. The entire experience was quite surreal. If I had to describe it, I would probably compare it to the feeling one would have on a rainy evening, cuddled up with a loved one, snuggling in a cozy blankie drinking warm chocolate and reading a good book…. Hmmm!

The entire movie is this roller coaster of emotions. One moment you are clutching your tummy and laughing so hard that there are tears in your eyes and the very next, the tears rolling down are due to the sniffles brought on by the story. I laughed, cried, felt helpless, felt the sunshine on me as much as the rain onscreen made me shiver… overall I felt so very loved… and comforted. I found myself thanking the almighty for all the people I have had the fortune of having in my family.

The camera work is exquisite. It defines everything in the movie along with the background music. But I know that even if you were to only watch the movie without the background track, the camera work is enough to let you feel every bit of the story’s essence. The sun, the shadows, even the angle of the smiles… it almost seemed like even the wind was a part of the story.

This is one movie which is well made, well narrated and definitely well acted. I was pleasantly surprised to find Priyanka chopra acting so brilliantly. Ranbir has been my favourite since Sanwariya days. He is a true actor, who acts with his soul. His body language, his expressions … he not just fills the characters’ shoes perfectly but also manages to take the audience to the character’s world for a quick trip which leaves them completely amazed and wanting for more. He literally breathed “life” into this one for sure. I think I will always think of him as Barfi.

Of course, it goes without saying that Anurag Basu has outdone himself. No film can become this beautiful without the one sitting on the director’s chair. His vision like his direction has always been clear and this movie goes to show that Indian cinema ( even the ones with songs ) has come a long way and there are still people who make movies with their heart for the soul.

For people who have already seen this piece of art, kudos… you have probably found a way to reach your soul, you have taken the first step to understand the conversations enveloped in the silences of life. For the ones who are still contemplating whether to risk a watch or not… please don’t waste another minute… I promise you, it will change the way you look at life. You will be sad… happy and you will be able to discover emotions you probably never knew you had…

Just Married, Please Excuse : A Review

I just finished reading Yashodhara lal’s “Just Married, please excuse”. Although I expected it to be one more from bandwagon of totally useless indian writers who have penned down completely silly thoughts in an attempt to conquer the world, it was quite interesting.

About a week back in a discussion with my husband I had happened to mention how only fairy tales had had the happy endings and all the other books that we read these days were full of some kind of melodrama or tragedy. The married guy has an affair… with a guy, the wife dreams of the foreigner who comes into their lives as a mystical stranger, two sisters fall for the same guy and eventually sacrifice is what moulds the storyline. We keep hearing or reading about divorces and separations of how couples split after 7 years of togetherness just cause they don’t wanna be together anymore. I remember telling him that though no marriage is heaven-like or fantastic, it could be a happy one. It is just that you have to work at it. You have to adjust, compromise within certain limits and also allow the other person in. It took us time too. We maybe all lovey dovey but there are times when his actions totally get on my nerves. And it goes without saying that though he pampers me like a princess and is ready to bear all the silly tantrums I throw, I too do manage to irk him at times. But we have learnt to live with it. Initially we would fight ( Oh k fine!!!! I WOULD FIGHT!!!) and sulk for days ( me again)… but these days something cute has started happening. I get really furious at him, scream, rave and rant and then suddenly we look at each other and smile… and voila… all is forgotten… and forgiven … (errr… I do still tend to hold it against him… but you get the point…).

So when I started reading this book, I figured it would either be one of those contemporary ones where they get married too quickly and then get separated too only to find their true love, worse it could be one of those sappy teary ones which would have them live so happily that it would make me puke. What totally caught me off guard was the fact that it is a very down to earth story, in a simple conversational language about very normal and day to day stuff… I could be the girl … totally… I am klutzy, totally devoid of any feminine graces and rather unconventional in certain terms.

The story is set in a normal household and very nicely weaves through the very ordinary fights and misunderstandings that all couples have (of course my parents seem to have a LOT of them and my in-laws seem to be having NONE…) but nevertheless, I could relate to it. I wouldn’t call it “literary” genius, but I don’t think that was the aim anyhow. It delivers what it promises… a good normal story most of us can relate to. Kudos to Yashodhara for a great read.

Gangs of Wasseypur (Spoiler Alert)

Did you guys watch gangs of wasseypur?

Well I did… both parts… and I watched the first one thrice. Ok so here’s what I totally loved about the first part

–          Manoj bajpai was extraordinary. The seamless shift between a soul-less murderer and an amorous lover defined his entire character in the movie. And the innocent manner in which he played it made me love him more.

–          Richa chadda (the female lead ) was as convincing as she was brilliant. Yes, she just can’t cry but the rest of it was superb. She swears like she means it and she loves with nothing holding her back. One hell of a performance. Some might say her character was not the main one… but for me she was really the backbone of the whole story. I remember her look when Manoj bajpai first tells her of his plans for revenge. She wasn’t surprised, annoyed or anxious. She just accepted it as a personal whim and lived with it as naturally as possible.

–          I loved the fact that she wasn’t like a typical indian woman who would beg and plead with her husband to leave the dirty work… she stood by it all…

–          Every part of the story was integral to the whole plot. Everything was linked and everything was meaningful.

–          Anurag kashyap’s always been a great storyteller… and with this movie he outdid himself. The camera work was near-perfect ( absolute perfect would ruin it), dialogues were fabulous, had so much of “oomph” in them that it stays with you even after days of watching the movie

–          The songs were definitely a crowd puller. I still can’t get “O Womaniya” off my mind. Its upbeat, folksy and a sure head turner. Every song had a place and supported the story in a wonderful manner.

–          The supporting actors, down to the young boys were so natural that I felt as if I was right next to them watching their lives play out.

Overall the movie made me wanna clap my hands, hoot and whistle right in the hall. I watched it a second time and assumed it must have lost its charm but hell no!!! I wanted to hoot louder. The third time was on my PC and it was still freakin awesome.

Compared to this part, the second was a little …ummm … mellow???… yeah mellow. It incited very different feelings from the first one. I wanted to jump with joy for everything that bajpai did in the first part and in the second one I only wanted to whoop faisal’s behind to make him do something. Faisal khan didn’t really wake up till almost 1/4th of the movie… quite frustrating. My husband had to keep a restraining arm on me cause I was so jumpy with anger. Again both son and father were quite different characters. I know if there was too much similarity between them it might have ruined the movie, but I really wanted more gory stuff in the second part.

The second part had some good and some very bad parts :

–          The older characters kind of faded out with the exception of randhir singh, kinda sad and weird

–          The new cast was again brilliant. Loved the new leading lady too… that gal has spunk.

–          Storyline faltered a little here and there and was annoying due to the lead’s near dormant state.

–          It did pick up well after interval and the end was nice ( not as brilliant as the previous part)

–          Songs were catchy and something I wouldn’t mind hanging around in my head for too long

–          I am just glad that the director had the brains and the balls to play out the story towards a natural and logical end instead of trying to turn it into the fairy tale endings Hindi movies usually end up with.

Overall, I think if I had watched the original 5 ½ hour movie at a stretch I would have been disappointed with the way it ended. I am still disappointed but the mind-blowing part 1 kinda makes up for it. The one thing that struck me was although we (I am sure all of us did) kept on siding with Manoj Bajpai’s family, no one was really innocent or the victim in the story. But it was surprisingly to see how I immediately sided with Bajpai’s side and not the others.

If you haven’t watched it yet and didn’t mind all my spoilers, please do go… for the story, for the acting… for the best cinematic experience ever in indian cinema. It hard core life presented at its very best, no frills attached.

Cocktail (A tale of two stupid damsels and a big bad idiot!!!) – spoiler alert!!!

Dear readers, in case you intend to watch the movie, please refrain from reading this post, as it contains a few spoilers. Sorry!!!

Cocktail is without a doubt the MOST excruciatingly boring movie I have seen in a long long LONG time… and I have seen Agent Vinod (Mind you!!!). I will agree that the songs are super cool and the only reason that I didn’t run out of the theatre screaming and beating my head, was that I wanted to watch all the songs on the big screen, especially the last one “Second hand jawani”. Although this song had no relation whatsoever to the plot or the people, it was definitely upbeat and peppy enough to help me forget the fact that I had just wasted three precious hours of my life.

The movie’s start was pointless… the story was quite ridiculous and old fashioned. I mean haven’t we all been through that phase in Bollywood when these kind of stereotypes were in? The vamp, the sati savitri? The typical betty-veronica confusion? Quite predictable I must say. It was actually sad to see that after the recent strong roles of women portrayed onscreen, Bollywood suddenly regressed back into the age old good girl versus bad girl plot. The entire story played out on the screen as someone’s home movie. I just didn’t feel involved, like I didn’t find myself wondering what would or could happen next. Like the last movie I saw – gangs of wasseypur which managed to keep me on the seat’s edge.

Coming to the actors, well saif can neither dance nor act, I seriously wonder what keeps him in business. Deepika was definitely better than her last movies but was still not good enough. I don’t even want to comment on the newcomer. It was such a hotch-potch of plots… the Casanova boy ( oh k!!! MAN…), the typical indian girl who wouldn’t even wear sleeveless dresses and is the proper damsel-in-distress types, and of course the completely wild but good at heart gal who can easily be equated to a Sl*t . and then ofcourse the finale when the guy conveniently falls in love with the good girl after having all the fun with the bad one. Bollywood couldn’t get obvious than this!!! So there was a wild affair, cheesy pick ups, sad helpless soul, live in relationship, dysfunctional friendships … all mixed up to prepare the perfect “cocktail” (or as Sheldon would say, a COCKamanny TALE).

It did manage to provide such good laughs but even that was due to mostly slapstick, in-you-face humour. Nothing subtle or straight faced (the likes of which we find in dil chahta hain or even Gangs of wasseypur). I did laugh … hard… cause trust me that was the only way I could keep myself entertained. I laughed a little at the stupid sense of humour, then I laughed a little at the thought that I was actually laughing… and then a little harder at my laughing at it and so on it went till I was laughing my head off at god knows what ( duh… I just can’t stop laughing when I start).

Looking back, i really wonder what made me watch the movie? it might have been about the songs… and the fact that my life’s pretty  much in a rut right now… but after watching it I actually found even waxing less painful (seriously… there were times in the movie… when i had the urge to scream… go on say it… stop beating around the bush!!!)

The ultimate proof of its inaneness is the fact that my brother who watches every crappy hindi movie and found Agent Vinod an awesome effort by Bollywood(BOOOOO), found “Cocktail” an utter piece of crap! He is the kinds who would watch every Bollywood flick and also appreciate it. 20 minutes into the movie, he was all ready to pack up and leave… now that surely tells you something about the movie, doesn’t it?

 

On a serious note : please don’t watch it!

Ladies Coupe – Anita Nair

I finished reading “Ladies coupe” by Anita Nair. This was the first book I read of hers. Though I am not awe struck or soooper excited, I do look forward to the next book of her’s on my shelf – “Mistress”.

Her style of writing is simple and straightforward. She doesn’t really create poetry out of words but manages to hit home with them. The book basically tells you the stories of 6 women in their own words. The fact that the protagonist is travelling with them kind of binds all the stories together and provides a focal point. The stories are mostly about the women’s lives, their dreams, hopes and pain. These women aren’t submissive, timid or even introverts. Each has accomplished something in their own sphere but they are still jostling with the question about whether or not they can live their lives without a man.

The stories go on to describe how even the most seemingly happy woman carries around so much pain and longing… The tales are full of experiences drawn from everyday life and across the social strata. The protagonist of the story is depicted as a very strong person.It is mainly her story…her search for strength and independence. And although in the end she makes up her decision on her own terms… the decision itself was kind of a put off… I am not gonna tell you what it was as it will spoil the book for you.

The book does make a very strong feminist point : the freedom to choose. All the women involved were not forced into any of their situations. They made a conscious decision to be in it. A single weird part was the inclusion of the story of young girl. I failed to see the relevance of it.

Overall, though its NOT one of those books “which-you-just-cant-put-down”, it does have its moments and is a good read.Happy Reading!!!
Buy it at Flipkart.com

Once upon a time

(A Chapter from my dissertation on “Power of Orality in Indian Culture”)

 “There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.”

(Guin, 1980)

One of the oldest forms of word of mouth communication, storytelling is a process where one person tells others about something, a made up or a real event. The cultural material and traditions transmitted by word of mouth constitute of oral traditions. Oral history, another form of word of mouth, is the recording, preservation and interpretation of historical information based either on the opinion of the speaker or on personal experience. Stories permeate the world we live in, as a creation through which we seek to understand and explore our world. Once told, stories take a life of their own and travel, gathering more stories around themselves. They are journeys in themselves, their focus moving from one character to another, moving effortlessly between lives and time and space. This is especially true of oral story telling traditions like those of India, and of literary traditions that develop from them. There is a certain fluidity that such tales have when they are told and retold to suit and be accessible to audience varying in social, religious and political beliefs.

Folklore is an essential part of our oral tradition. It pervades childhoods, families and communities as the symbolic language of the non literate parts of the people and the culture. Even in large modern cities like Chennai, Mumbai or Kolkata, folklore – proverbs, lullabies, folk medicine, folktales – is only a suburb away, a cousin or a grandmother away. It would be inaccurate to state that the metros or urban areas do not have folklore to pass down. We have all grown up with folk tales and sayings. Authentic folk theatre flourishes in the back streets of a city like Chennai; festivals with all their attendant folk performances, like that for the elephant faced god Ganapathi in Mumbai, are major events.

Wherever people live, folklore grows; new jokes, proverbs, rhymes, tales and songs circulate in the oral tradition. Chain letters and Murphy’s laws circulate on paper and graffiti on latrine walls. Verbal folklore in the sense of a largely oral tradition with specific genres (such as proverb, riddle, lullaby, tale, prose narrative, song), non verbal modes (such as dances, games, floor or wall designs), and composite performing arts (such as street magic and street theatre which combine prose, verse, song, dance, various local objects) – all of these expressive folk forms weave in and out of every aspect of city, village and small town life.

Every kind of Indian cultural practice, every Indian cultural performance, whether it is the classical epic and theatre or modern film and political rhetoric, is indebted to oral traditions and folk forms. The aesthetics, ethos and worldview of a person are shaped in childhood and throughout early life and reinforced later by these verbal and nonverbal environments.

Folktales have everywhere and always found eager listeners, whether they are mere reports of happenings, legends of long ago or elaborately contrived fictions, men and women have hung upon them and satisfied their yearnings for information of amusement, for incitement to heroic deed, for religious edification, or for release from the overpowering monotony of their lives. In almost every corner of the country, the priest and the scholar, the peasant and the artisan, come together in their love of a good story. The greatest literary work may be accessed by the intelligentsia, but folktales are accessible to the common man. At a time when there were no books or novels, folktales had a huge appeal. They were means of instructing the younger generations and also a mode of entertainment. Even today, they have a charm of their own. Tales like those of Akbar-Birbal, Raja Vikramaditya, Jataka Tales, Tenali Raman and so on gave been an essential part of growing years for most of us. They have helped us broaden our horizon regarding various cultures as they function as mouthpieces for the cultures.

As small children, the stories that we grew up with were usually folktales and fairytales. Those were the tales our parents and their parent had heard growing up and had passed down through generations. Folktales are stories of good triumphing over evil, or morals, of principles, of dreams and hopes, of giants and wicked witches and also of kind fairies and gods in mortal forms. Those stories taught us how to differentiate good from evil, kindness from cruelty and gave us our first experience of life’s changing patterns. The reason behind these tales being passed on by word of mouth is the absence of literary tools at the time of their creation. As a result, they were never the same twice in the telling. Each storyteller placed his emphasis in the areas he felt would create the best response or deliver the important message.

Stories also have helped in establishing myths, systems and certain stereotypes in place. Epics like the Ramayana, the Mahabharata or the Vedas have been passed down by our grandparents in the form of bed time stories and have been an integral part of our lives by shaping our lives, principles and also biases. The caste system has been described in the Rig Veda, the treatment towards the lower castes have been established in the story of Eklavya and similarly the idea of virginity has been moulded by the stories in the Bible. The fairy tales that we have grown up with have set stereo types of step-mothers as cunning, of docile housewives like Sita, of damsels who’re always in distress and have to be helped by their ‘prince charming’ and also of the gender roles, which are very prevalent in our society today. Although these stories are not real, they have a power to entertain and also to engage one in thought. It is the told through which parents tell children that it is good to be compassionate or to stay away from strangers. And with the number of times these stories are told and retold, they have the potential of settling deep down in an individual’s mind and creating basic stereotypes.

Tales are told in different context and function in a variety of ways. To contextualise a tale fully, we need to know the teller, when, where, and to whom he or she told the tale, what he or she and the listeners thought of the tale, how the listener responded when they heard it, and other such details. “There is also a need to bring to this kind of ethnography of narrative, a sense of where the tale fits in other texts and performances of culture, what is considered significant, how it makes meanings, what’s taboo and what’s not and the place of tellers in the community – not merely the facts of the telling but the feelings, the meanings and the meaning making.” (Ramanujam, 1994)

            There are professionals and nonprofessional tellers. In South India and Bengal, for instance, singers and tellers travel from place to place, their performances being engaged by families or organizations. Mostly these tellers tell epic stories from the Ramayana and Mahabharata, or of stories of gods from the Puranas. In villages, there are bardic troupes that perform epics about caste heroes, or local gods and saints. (Blackburn S. , 1989) The bard will intersperse his recitation, which may be performed serially for hours for several nights, with shorter tales and anecdotes as well as poems and songs, just as he will introduce references to current politics. Thus ancient tales and epics are given contemporary relevance.

In my family, tales accompany every instance of our lives. Tales would be told to us while we ate, got ready to sleep and even while our domestic helps would get our baths water ready. The lady who brought our daily supply of coal and the man who’d come to massage my grandfather had their own tales. What is amazing is that they never repeated a single tale, year after year, and they still had a fresh collection of tales.

Folktales are not only told to make children eat more or put them to sleep. They are often told to keep adults awake: when farmers gather to watch crops all night or graze cows or sheep all day, or when workers slice areca nuts (which have to be processed within a short time after they are harvested) or roll bidis in a factory (Ramanujam, 1994). Like work songs, these tales beguile the time and ease the monotony of long labour by engaging fantasy. While doing so, they also carry subliminal, often subversive meanings.        Tales, like proverbs, are also enlisted to make a point, to find precedent and authority – in political speeches, religious discourses, and legal discussions. Stories are often metaphors in search of a context, waiting to be told and given new relevance. There are many such stories which are told as a metaphor indicating the situation in real life.

Special ritual tales are told as part of calendrical ritual and their telling in that context has ritual efficacy. It is believed that both tellers and listeners receive benefits. For instance the ‘Karva Chauth Vrat Katha’ is told every ‘Karva Chauth’ between the ladies who gather for the fasting ritual or the Vrata katha that is passed between ladies as they believe it has gives magical powers to the teller and the receiver. It is also possible that an ordinary tale may acquire this status by being told in a special context, like the stories of brother’s love and sacrifice which are told during Rakshabandhan or Bhai Duuj.

A. K Ramanujam, in his book ‘Folktales from India’, explains certain instances which indicate that the stories we read today were known much before they were recorded. “ When I told the story of ‘The Monkey and the Crocodile’ to an archaeologist friend of mine, John Carswell, his face lit up –  he was carrying in his briefcase a potsherd from his recent dig in Mantai in Sri Lanka and the potsherd pictured a monkey sitting on the back of a crocodile. The story was also a Buddhist story and the first mention is in the Panchatantra.”

 

Further, Ramanujam explains how the various corroborations inspires trust in the many recordings of the tales that have been around for ages, “The eleventh century Kathasaritsagara contains stories that are to be found in the Arabian Nights, in Boccaccio, and in Shakespeare and also in the current repertoire of village women in Karnataka. My grandmother, who was in her sixties when I was a boy fifty years ago, told me stories that she had heard from her grandmother S.M. Natesa Sastri, who came from the same part of Tamil Nadu, heard the same tales in his childhood and published them in Tamil and in English in the 1870s”. (A.K Ramanujam, 1986)

 

            In the male centric tales, feature the hero very prominently. The tale usually starts with him moving out of the parental family in search of adventure. He rescues and wins princesses over and fights all adversaries to win kingdoms and other games. The story usually ends with a marriage. The women centred tales on the other hand usually begin with a marriage. These are told by women about women and often to young women, and tend to have a certain pattern: they start with a marriage, they explain her duties as a wife, daughter or a sister. In cases where the male counterpart is the lesser being in terms of intelligence, the woman is expected to solve the riddles for her man. These women are like the cousins of the feisty heroines in Shakespeare’s comedies. The women in some of these tales contrast sharply with a woman like Sita in the epics, who represent the ideal of the chaste, unquestioning wife who follows her husband like a shadow and suffers all the way. They are the analogues of the Dark Goddess in the Hindu myth.

The tales about families highlight relations and emotions of every kind. Ramanujam notes how psychologists such as Freud and Jung have attended mostly to myths; but folktales are a potent source of psychoanalytic insights, for they concentrate on close family ties and childhood fantasies. Certain tales contain forbidden feelings of incest on the part of fathers and mothers towards their children and these feelings are faced and unpacked with all their implications. As these tales are usually told to children in the context of the family, they are part of a child’s psychological education in facing forbidden feelings and finding a narrative that will articulate and contain if not resolve them – for tellers as well as their young listeners.

Even the representations of gods are different from Hindu mythology; the gods in the folk tales have bodies, smell, pee and even menstruate unlike in the mythological stories where even their feet do not touch the feet. The most famous ones are usually the humorous or the witty tales like those of Birbal, Tenaliraman, GopalBhar or Mullah Nasiruddin.

Stories and words not only have weight but they also have wills and rages, they can take different shapes and exact revenge against a person who doesn’t tell them and release then into the world. They have an existence of their own, a secondary objectivity like any other cultural artefact. Cultural forms make people what they are as much as people make culture. They are there before any particular teller tells them, they hate it when they are not passed on to others, for they can come into being again and again only in that act of translation. If you know a tale, you owe it not only to others but to the tale itself to tell it; otherwise it suffocates. Traditions have to be kept in good repair, transmitted, or else, as such tales seem to say, things will happen to you.

Folklore, contrary to romantic notions of its spontaneity or naturalness, is formal. It makes visible its forms. Identification and dis-identification (of the listeners with their characters) have their triggers in tales and happen at different stages of a tale or a performance. They bring people together, improve communication and inspires a sense of belonging. Although with the onslaught of technology, the oral tradition of story telling is fading away, but the stories themselves will never be outdated. Like Scheherazade, the vizier’s daughter in Arabian nights, we will continue to tell tales within tales within tales, till the very end of time.

The Help

I happened to watch the Oscars this year and somehow the whole buzz about “The Help” caught my attention. Since I rarely have the patience to watch a movie, I decided to do my favourite thing instead – Read the book. Step 1 : Flipkart.com . Step 2 : Read it.

Due to my restless self, I usually start 2-3 books at the same time, and then hop among them as and when I feel like. But the moment I picked up “The Help” I was hooked. The words, the expression, the situations… all make you live through the experience of it. I seriously don’t know why people make movies when you can imagine the whole thing on your own by just reading it.

While reading the book, you would live through Aibileen’s heart break, as she realises that every child she takes care of finally grows up and forgets all about their time together. You would revel in the attitude of minnie… over all you would feel completely at home and definitely in the middle of it all…

Haven’t seen the movie yet… but now I am looking forward to it…

Happy reading….

 

Buy it at flipkart.com

"Keep OFF this book !!! "

Its a dull saturday afternoon and somehow my managers at work have successfully managed to make it painful too. Yeah I’m sitting in the office at the moment cursing the day I was put into this horrible project. well I do agree I get some good work to do and that I really have had some good responsibilities around but still there’s this feeling of… boredom. After all for how long can u really stick to one project 😦

Anyway, coming to more important things, I just finished reading this horribly boring book called “Keep off the Grass”. Its the debut novel of someone and being a huge fan of Chetan Bhagat and Siddhant Dhanwant Sanghwi, I kinda assumed that every debut novel would be good if not great. The story line was intriguing enough. Its abt this wallstreet banker of indian origins who leaves his job to come back to india . He joins the IIMB for an MBA and as an excuse to the whole dramatic change mentions his inner tumoil of not belonging to any place. The usual stuff— the clash of cultures and the confusion that ensues owing to the very open american culture and the strict ways of the immigrant parents who take on the onus of “preserving” their culture.

On reading the summary given on the back cover, I thought of giving it a shot. Trust me for the first time I felt it was a waste of money. I have bought stupid books even before, but have ended up liking something or the other in those and have never ever thought of it as a waste of money, till I read this book. It started well ( like the trend of doing a flashback kinda thing), but by the time I reach its third chapter I couldn’t wait for it to end. A big weakness of mine is that I can never leave a book in the middle, however irritating it is. But this book truly tested my patience.

The author started the tale by explaining how the protagonist came down to India in “search of his soul” or some crap like that, but somehow ends up describing India as a country where u can dope and booze everywhere without the fear of breaking any rules.

Starting from the Campus of IIMB to the foot hills of himalayas, thats all he ( he being the protagonist) has done. In between there are snatches of some philosophical stuff but with all the other gross stuff happening, it does not convey the meaning it was meant to. There are some boring details of how the poor “desi- firang” failed his subjects at coll and made a mess of his career. To spice up things the author introduced a female, a cannibal and some raja bhaiya of benaras. Overall, it just was a huge mess.And the end was miserable, when the guy finally discovers and decides that he doesn’t need to smoke grass to be happy. DUH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It could have been a management guide , but the things mentioned are more of a fictional quality than of statistical basis. It might have passed as a philosophical guide, but the ambiguous way some concepts are mentioned and the gross presentation of worthy stuff makes it worthless. It also could have been one of those books which lead to self realization , but the “self” mentioned over here is too badly messed up. The cover reads– its humourous, trust me if thats humour, I’m the queen of the world. The author basically tried putting in a lot of things at the same time, and tried to combine a lot of the laterst trends.. and failed miserably.

I usually don’t do a book review but this was so bad, I couldn’t stop myself. 🙂

Note — This is solely MY opinion. Don’t intend to hurt or discourage anyone.