Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Average Indian Woman

She wakes up with the sun,
And ties her hair like a bun.
Makes tea for everyone,
And coffee for her son.
Water her green plants,
while making the daily plans.
Does the dishes, maybe,
Regardless of her wishes.
Wraps a long piece of cloth around her,
In a way that only she knows how.
Clings on to the back seat of a scooter,
That would take years to master.
At office, its work,work and work.
Back home, its work again.
"It's midnight, let me sleep", she says.
She wakes up with the sun,
And ties her hair like a bun...

Yet they call her the 'average' Indian woman.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Indian Male Syndrome

Wants to screw everything that moves,
Rapes everything that refuses.
Dreams of sex all night and day, and then,
Calls 'her' a whore who thinks like 'him'.
And then on the wedding day he asks,
Are you a virgin my dear woman?
Fascinating really, how absurd he is,
Considering the number of 'sluts' he kills at birth.
Image courtesy : old-photos.blogspot.in

Friday, August 24, 2012


Movies are a great way to connect with people. 'Ad-ventures' is a campaign looking to integrate that factor into making Ads. I've used screenshots of major movies and tried to associate a brand. Originally inspired by the Tom Hanks starer 'Castaway'. The movie was a great advertisement for FedEx.

Little Rascals, 1994

Psycho, 1960

Shawshank Redemption, 1994

Truman Show,  1998

Schindler's List,  1993

UP, 2009

The Matrix, 1999

Inception, 2010

Movie shots used as advertisements.  I seriously hope nobody will sue me for doing this.

Where Love had to Be Arranged

“You had to put it in Facebook?”
“Sorry honey. I was just letting the world know they still had a chance with you.”
“Thank you so much SISTER. But why didn’t you do the same? Didn’t see anything like that a coupla years back.”
“I had a guy back then Bozo. The one I didn’t marry.”
“No. Not him. Zack, the guy from Forward Magazine. Couldn’t let the world know about mom and dad’s plan to marry me off.”
“Nita, you are married to someone now!”
“And I thought you were my brother. Like they say hon, marriage’s just a license to have something ‘extra’.”
“Nita! Are you out of your freaking mind?”
“I was just playing you with playboy. So any luck with the girls?”
“Yes. But they are all a bit shy. Wolf’s facing some difficulty. Have to work with those super-zooms that completely ruin the beauty of the portraits. Anyway, please be a sweetheart and take it off facebook. You have had your fair share of likes and comments.”
“Yes Bechu. By the way, a certain ‘Shruti’ liked that on my profile. Maybe you should give her a call lover boy.”
“She has already ‘broken free’ Nita. It’s still good to know that she’s alive. Anyway I have to go now.”
“Stay safe.  They aren’t always nice to normal people.”
“Nita. Don’t stereotype!”
“Have it your way gay boy. Love you.”

Don’t be deceived by those ‘Complan’ ads about height being everything. Six feet 3 inches, a column in one of India’s most unconventional magazine and 33 summers have not fetched me a girl friend yet. Quite ironic really, considering the fact that I was preparing a documentary on “female communities” at Gully No. 1 of Shuklaji Street, inside what has always been called the ‘Eunuch territory’.  I could track women in one of India’s scariest environment but could not get one for myself.
It’s not as if I haven’t had girls in my life. Back in school there were three girls. The first one had large breasts and therefore she had no trouble getting guys. The second girl was probably school’s best singer and chose to be with her accompanist, Bobby. The girl I really loved, Sruthi, eloped with a senior of mine while she was in class 12. And I’m not exaggerating here.  They had wanted to ‘break free’ from their ‘materialistic lives’ as per her note. And ‘so’ she stole her mom’s gold. Atleast her parents must have had a far lesser ‘materialistic life’ afterwards
Merin was never my girlfriend. She was my muse during the college days. And I, her slave (according to Imran). She’d constantly keep changing boyfriends and I’d faithfully follow her like a Poodle , expecting her to ‘open the eye’ someday and ‘see’ the true love.
One day I got a text on my mobile which read, “My eyes have been opened.” ‘I still remember rushing to the terrace with a bulging pants and a pair of shivering hands to call her.  There was to be a twist in the tale though. It was God who had ‘opened’ her eyes. She had joined St. Jude’s seminary.
For everyone else I was either ‘too tall’ or ‘too good’. Later on I started suggesting to these women that maybe letting go of ‘too good’ would be a mistake. But they always smiled and moved on.  ‘Too good’ and ‘too tall’ didn’t make you feel as bad as ‘you are like my brother’ though. That was always the worst.

2 weeks prior to the conversation- In the kitchen helping mom with ‘palada’ payasam
“Mom, I’ll be 33 in a week. Don’t you …err…think it’s time?”
“Huh? Time for what beta?”
“To get me married.  I know you and dad have been secretly making plans. You can really try harder now.”
“Your dad and I never make plans! Go marry your girlfriend. People like you won’t get any girls from our place. Photographing ‘Eunuchs’ for a living. Try saying that to the family of a girl. You are 33 and we believe you are very capable of finding a good wife. So spare us.”
“Mom! I’ve been brought up by you two. I can’t possibly fall in love with a girl. Arranged marriage madhi(is enough)!”
Dad walks into the kitchen.
“So your son can’t get a wife. Why don’t you ask him to find one from Mumbai? He was hired by the BBC to do the same. Do one thing. You make him a profile in those wicked matrimony sites. And say that your son is an incapable being who expects his parents to get him a ‘suitable’ bride. Ask them to contact us, if their daughter is good looking. I suppose that’s all that matter these days. ”

“Dad, firstly I’m ‘your’ son too. Secondly, I hope you add ‘son of Jacob Fernandez, columnist The Hindu’ in the profile ‘mom’ makes. And yes, it would help if you add ‘intelligent’ among the ‘prerequisites’. “
“No intelligent female would have to search a matrimony site for a man.”
Surprisingly, they did make a profile for me in ABCmatrimony site.  With a photoshopped picture I had taken during my time at college for the placements. Nita obviously got to know about it (sadly) and publicized through facebook. 
On weekends photographers and other likeminded souls would meet at the BARC canteen for our weekly round ups. Last Sunday, Sreenivasan presented a topic that stirred my mind up a little bit.
He believed ‘arranged marriage’ was a sin because man is simply a tool of his own ‘libido’ – that psychic sexual drive. And it cannot be controlled nor can it be tamed. ‘It’ was the master, not you and I. Marriage was an ‘act’, where you tried to suppress those inner desires. Marriage might help keep ‘it’ dormant but it’s never dead.
“Why do you think these fuck’d up religions are worried about this? They try to cover it all up by blaming poor ‘Eve’ for loving the apple? Libido is all powerful and it is present in our genes. Every animal in this world wants to mate and we Homo sapiens are no different. What if we were taught not to hate this desire but love it? Even the Adam-Eve story is flawed. Why did the Almighty plant an apple tree there? Because even He couldn’t neglect the need for ‘libido’. He planted a lovely apple tree in the middle of the garden because He was sure Eve would see it. How very sensible!” 
You Nanthaniel, you are a Christian right? Just enlighten us with Isaiah 45:7. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things. So God created ‘evil’. And what according to you Christians is ‘evil’? The Libido? Anyway the point I’m trying to convey is that for marriage to be successful there should be a degree of ‘openness’; a mutual understanding regarding the ways of the Nature. And when you arrange such an ‘understanding’ it’s always like the coalition governments in our country – bound to go wrong. And that is where I leave it folks. So if you are interested in working with me, meet me at Leopold.”
There was an instant urge to raise the hand and join the league. But I decided to call Cosmo’s expert on the topic – Natasha Fernandez (a.k.a my sister) before I volunteered.

“Your friend is doing exactly what the religions did - Misconstruing facts to suit him. What he told you is an old theory, true perhaps, but one often regarded as puerile due to the lack of proper research and the effect it might have on an already wicked society. I’m glad he didn’t talk about the ‘Gandhian Principles’ which is favourite these days. The asshole’s probably sleeping with someone and wants an escape route prepared. Look Nithin, you are too good. Shouldn’t waste your time on subjects like these.”
“Love you Nita. And I suppose I’m better off skipping Sreeni’s offer.”
“You should say a ‘No’. But I can’t love you back Nithin. You are ‘like a brother to me’.”

I got a call from mom an hour later. A 27 year old fashion photographer liked my college photo (or atleast her family had) and had insisted on ‘seeing’ me. I submitted my assignment at the BBC office and boarded the next flight to Nedumbasserry, Kochi.

 A couple of days back, I had gone with a lazy mother (Dad : “The girl must be emotionally unstable. What on Earth did she find attractive in your son!” ) to the Vogue photographer’s home. I suppose you never quite believe in ‘love at first sight’ until you experience it firsthand. With a stuttering tray stuffed with tea cups she walked into my life. Awestruck (or cupid struck), I had smiled sheepishly and thankfully she acknowledged it with one from her side. Her eyes enticed me. So many stories encrypted masterfully in those powerful eyes. I was sure she could see right through me. Fascinatingly her parents, like my mom, seemed very happy by the fact that we were smiling. And that was that. Call it arranged or love but our marriage had been fixed by that humble smile.

Deby and I got into the habit of meeting up for lunch on weekends when we were both free. I took her out to places in Kochi that were less crowded and we would spend afternoons talking about ourselves, our passions (which were almost always the same), family, childhood and future plans. She was the first person on Earth who thought the ‘Eunuch’ story made sense. One of those afternoons she sang Ramanujan’s ‘Love poem for a wife’-

In the transverse midnight gossip
of cousin's reunion among
brandy fumes, Cashews and the Absences
of Grandparents, you suddenly grow
nostalgic for my past and I
envy you your village dog-ride
and the mythology.
Pretty much summed up what we had been doing.

Nita had called me an hour ago. It seems Deby never knew that my name was Nanthaniel . I had somehow taken for the granted. I felt bad and called her up immediately but she seemed (much to my relief) quite cool about the whole thing. She had found the ‘name’ on the engagement card. The event was a shock reminder about how little we knew each other. Was I ready for such a challenge? Would I be able to sustain this feeling I have for her? I am so confused now but I don’t want to confide the secret to anyone. Should I call off this marriage? What in the world is happening to me?
And then mom casually walked into my room as if she could read my mind, ran her hands through my hair (or whatever was remaining of it) and said, “You’ll be a good honest husband one day. Just follow your heart, ‘always’ speak the truth and everything will be fine. That’s one thing 55 years of marriage has taught me and something your sister’s articles might not.”

I got married today. In a little church, with very few relatives to bother, just the way I had always wanted. (It had been Deby’s decision but I wanted that as well). The evening party was not miserable as we had convinced some our friends to take photographs with higher ISO, thereby saving me from the unbearable ‘light’ that followed the bridegroom on his wedding day.

And contrary to local beliefs we made love in our first night. It all began with a small nibble on Deby’s neck. There was an eerie silence about the whole thing though as if someone had turned off the background score. And one other small thing troubled me. Deby wouldn’t look at me. She kept her eyes closed every time we came face to face.
As I lie here mocking sleep, hugging the love of my life, memories from the life so far keep barging into my head. There was so much to say, so much to do. I conjured up some courage, kissed her cheeks slowly and said,” You know, I never imagined my first time to be this way.”

This article was written as a part of Indiblogger's Love Marriage ya Arranged marriage ( click here )competition in association with Sony Entertainment Television.
PPS: If you want to read the story from Deborah's perspective click here.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Killed in the name of God

On 4th August the life of Satnam Singh Mann, a law under graduate from National Law university, Lucknow, came to an abrupt end due to unnatural causes in judicial custody of the Karunagappally Police Station in Kollam District of Kerala. Satnam who was arrested on 1st August on charges of trespassing the sabha of Maa Amritanandamayi, was also a former student of Bishop cotton Shimla and belonged to a respected family Gaya District, Bihar. He had simply gone there to seek Maa's blessings and he was overtaken by anxiety when he tried to barge on Maa's podium and speak to her and he has been suffering from mental illness for a while.
On 3rd August Satnam's brother Vimal Singh had met him and found him in good health and spirits. Next day when his body was produced before him there were thirty injury marks and some seemed to have been caused by hot burning rods." Vimal was informed that Satnam was found unconscious in the Mental Asylum where they had shifted him. Soon after when he was taken to the Government medical college at Thiruvananthapuram where he was declared dead just before midnight.
Read more and sign the petition by clicking here

Wisconsin, Banglore, Kashmir, Pune, Hyderabad. Times are scary and while leaders of 'the religion'( to me every religion is the same - bodies meant to destroy man's ability to rationalize ) it's high time we thought about fellow human beings. There is no North East . We are all one!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

When Love Was Arranged

“Life isn't weird: it's just the people in it.”
I distinctly remember that day when I travelled alone in a private bus for the first time. I was the first fourth grade girl to do that. My dad was away on his usual business trips and mom couldn’t get out of the bank due to ‘closing related activities’ if I remember right. And I had always wanted to travel alone. Dad had agreed but only after being promised that I would stay away from strangers.
Somehow ever since that school annual day I’ve lived my life with an aversion for strangers, which is remarkably ‘strange’ for a fashion photographer, who has to deal with weird people all day long. But that’s how I’ve been all my life. Some guys even used to think I’m a lesbian because I kept turning their offers down.
So it came as a big surprise when my good old daddy, came barging into my room on a Sunday morning an year back and said, ‘Honey. You should get married.’ 
“Dad but I don’t even have a boy friend.”
“Perfect. You were always a good a girl. I’ll find you the perfect guy.”
Not knowing how to react, I had simply given him the Indian nod – Diplomacy at its very best! I don’t know how many of you have noticed this but we Indians have this uncanny habit of nodding in the same manner, whether it’s a yes or a no, thereby giving the recipient the freedom to choose what’s best for him.
Dad’s words did haunt me for a couple of days.  What had he meant by ‘you were’? Did that mean I’m no longer a good girl? Or did he want me to stop being a good girl?
And why did ‘he’ have to find the ‘perfect guy’? Did he think I’m incapable of finding one myself?
After a while the apprehensions faded away, as I came to understand my inability to socialize. I had a talent for making the model pose the way I wanted her to, but beyond that I was a mannequin. Devoid of such activities that’s considered human. Such was my fame at the workplace that I still remember that morning when I had found a picture collage with myself, Kristen Stewart and Arjun Rampal on my desk. Initially I had assumed it to be a complement from someone in the office until Sudha pointed out clearly, what the creator had implied - Lack of expression.
A month after ‘Dad day’, men in white started bringing their families along to feed on my mom’s home-made biscuits and tea. I actually found it quite an enjoyable experience as I watched the marvel of photoshop first hand! From skin tones to height, everything was different from their clichĂ© profiles ABCmatrimony site. When inquired one guy had casually replied that his friend was a ‘professional photographer.’
So these ‘professional photographers’ working for the National Geographic must be taking pictures of rats and then ‘professionally’ converting them to lions and leopards. How dare they walk into my home and insult my profession.
One particularly rainy day though, a shy guy walked in with his mother. The cute smile he bore was accompanied by a voice which introduced himself as Nithin - A travel writer by profession, a photographer by passion. I did not feel the world going bonkers around me but I must admit, the prospect of spending an entire life with this sweet smiling travel lover had seemed very attractive.
We slowly developed a habit of meeting up for lunch on weekends, whenever possible, and then travelling to quiet places in the city that I had no clue about. He was good and remarkably very quiet. Always doing the right things and it sometimes caused me some pain. The guy seemed so genuine and I knew all too well that I was just acting. I am not a good person. I enjoy the solitude, especially the peace associated with it. Given a choice I’d always read a novel and eating mom’s food on weekends. 
The acting continued and to the onlookers we had become the perfect couple. Kristen Stewart had found her Arjun Rampal.  Except for one minor glitch, it was a textbook relationship. The glitch, courtesy the engagement card which had Nanathaniel printed on it instead of Nithin, had given me a scare. The strange fact that I didn’t know the actual name of my fiancĂ©! Nithin was his ‘pet’ name, as his sister Nita had described to me later that day. And Nita, not so remarkably, was actually Natasha.
Sera, another photographer at Vogue, had raised a very interesting topic during the lunch break after the cover-shoot for December’s edition.  According to her, I was living the perfect Indian woman’s dream - To have a ‘love cum arranged’ marriage.  Remarkably, very few in our country gets to marry the person he/she likes with the ‘blessings’ (that’s the word they use) of their parents. The phrase seemed pretty stupid to me. It is either love marriage or arranged marriage. Love, when you marry the person you like. Arranged, when you marry the person your parents like. If your parents allow you to marry the person you like, it’s simply love marriage. And if you love the guy your parent’s found, it’s still an arranged marriage. And Sera had completely neglected the fact that I wasn’t even sure if I was in love with Mr. Pet Name.
I got married today. In a little church with very few relatives to bother, just the way I had always wanted. (It had been my decision but I bet Nithin wanted that as well). The evening party was enjoyable as we had convinced some our friends to take photographs with higher ISO, thereby saving me from the unbearable ‘light’ that followed the bride on her wedding day.
Making love wasn’t all that scary either. Nithin had walked into his room, or rather our room, kissed me on the forehead and everything that followed was remarkably simple. All those Sunday afternoon novels had given me some apprehensions that weren’t necessarily justified, as I learned.
But somehow, as I lie on the bed staring at the blurry shadow the ceiling fan made while Nithin’s warm breath caressed my cheeks, doubts begin to rise in my heart. Was this love? Isn’t all this a little ‘too’ perfect? Would I be able to sustain this? Will Nithin EVER be angry? Has he had a lover before? Was I good?
“Rummaging in our souls, we often dig up something that ought to have lain there unnoticed.”
Wasn’t it Tolstoy who said that? Anna Karenina if I remember right.  Only time will reveal the truth in that statement.
And suddenly Nithin kissed my cheeks and said, “You know, I never imagined my first time to be this way.” For the first time that night I looked at him, straight in the eye, smiled and thought to myself , ‘One night and the poor thing has already started being honest.’ 

PS: I wanted to write about love and relationship from a girl's perspective. Hope I've done justice. Your comments on how to improve would be very helpful. This article was written as a part of Indiblogger's Love Marriage ya Arranged marriage competition in association with Sony Entertainment Television.
PPS: If you want to read the story from Deborah's perspective click here.

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