Have you ever eaten off plates made of pure lead?

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Oh-kay, I spent yesterday at one of the fanciest 5-star hotels in Mumbai – Taj Lands End. Attending the Content Marketing Summit & Awards, hosted by the World Marketing Congress, a super busy event that’s a great place to meet with the top professionals in marketing. Last week, I was at the Digital Leadership Summit organised by Social Beat. At the St.Regis, Mumbai, super swank. Loves these places. Last month it was TechSparks 2018 at the Taj Yeshwantpur in Bengaluru. And this is not me showing off. I’m actually talking about something completely different here. You’ll see why I am mentioning all these grand old daddies of luxury living. Not name-dropping. Because, these luxury hospitality brands clearly fail – astoundingly – at both luxury & hospitality in one very important regard that interferes with one of the loves of my life: Food. In fact, the experience I went through yesterday makes me want to reinvent the term ‘arm exercises’. It’s a one between me and my friend I shall refer to here as Mundu Cracko. Arm exercises refer to the ultra-best form of workout one gets from lifting beer mugs filled to the brim (heavier the better) right up from the table level to one’s lip and holding it there while consuming the much-needed refreshment, while making sure to give it as many reps as one can humanly make in the course of one session. Unlike all other kinds, this workout mixes dopamine with spirit, thereby creating a whole new level of motivation. It’s muscle isolation, it’s endurance, it’s mood uplifting, it’s socially engaging because you’d probably do this with your buddies, and the healthy competition to keep going adds to the magic. It’s a sorry state of affairs then that this beautiful connotation must be vacated for a more staid & serious, a more literal one that has neither its original flair nor the spirit. In fact, it falls flat like non-aerated beer. Did I hear your enthusiasm just fizzle out? Well, I’m a teetotaler and yet I know we can empathise with the lack of carbonation, which we know contributes wholly to the beer’s mouthfeel and its refreshing-ness. You can imagine my feelings when I see that my but one indulgence – food – is now condemned to become an arm exercise in the least pleasurable way possible! I’m talking about how these hi-fi places I’ve named above in a list that is by absolutely no means exhaustive, make it difficult for a nourishment-seeker to seek precisely what they need: nourishment. And, it’s not a gender equal world out there either. I’ll explain: I’m actually talking about how heavy the plates are that they use in these event buffets dinners and lunches. By the time I’ve scooped in some salad and collected some chapaati and moved on to daal, and subzi… I’m already a spent force. I’m handling a towel that was once a comforter somewhere, a spoon that is a miniature version of a mason’s or a gardener’s spade, and a fork that is only slightly lighter than a garden rake. Thank God for small mercies. Because, by the time I begin eating, it has turned into an exercise in negative calories – I’m spending way more calories than I am consuming while holding myself erect, walking around carrying the huge ceramic receptacle in which my nourishing morsels lay, embraced by the mason’s weapons. The food itself becomes bland, unimportant, secondary, not germane to the issue. It’s only the challenge that counts. Can I continue to ingest, and chew, and swallow when I am busy demonstrating the term ‘Herculean effort’? And for how long? In fact, it becomes a conversation starter with quite a few participants: “Here we are again… huh, huh :-)… yes, this is heavy… dunno what’ll happen if I add that shallot – will I buckle under? Haha” I even joked with a fellow male participant that the practice of feeding people at such galas seemed rather skewed towards favouring men, who have a denser muscle tone than us ladies. Turns out he wasn’t too thrilled about it himself – saying he’d probably last 1 chapaati more or two but in the end, had to give up his right to nourishment. So well, I really wonder if you’ve wondered this too: Why do swanky places host stand-up buffets and then give us these plates made of pure lead to eat in?  Any hospitality folks out here who can help me out? What do you guys really want us to do? Not eat? Anyway, I doubt if you’re gonna get me to do a few more push-ups every day, stretch the zer0 workout I’m on. I’m pretty sure I actually lost 400gms of weight yesterday even though I ladled my way through some pretty hefty paalak corn and paneer-something & something-veg-biryani. Compliments to the chef. None to the hotel industry.

When it’s not exactly #MeToo… but

When it’s not exactly #MeToo… but

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I follow Sam Baisla, CEO & Co-founder of NEXEL and on my LinkedIn Feed, his post landed up containing the screenshot of a text message from a man to a woman, entirely professional in nature, sending her a kiss smiley while addressing her as ‘madam’. The receiver, of course, had been quick to point out to the man about the use of that particular kiss smiley and he had apologised. Yet, Sam Baisla had asked the following questions: How can you send “kiss” smileys to a girl you barely know? 🤦🏻‍♂️ How should a girl respond if someone does send something like this?🤔  Guys seriously need to learn how to talk to ladies. 🙄 Rules of public interaction must be made a mandatory teaching in schools and homes. ✌️ It’s ironical that there is no formal discussion/teaching on this.🙄 I think this small thing can be a very significant step towards curbing violence against women. 😍👍 What do you say? That sparked a conversation. Because just the day before, I had on my professional network, received a Whatsapp forward containing this: Disgusting, right? So how should I respond? Knowing that the man is someone I professionally interact with. This uncouth human being actually thought he was justified at sharing such a piece on a group that included women. And no one called him out on this group. He has a family, including at least one daughter. When I reminded him he’s on a professional platform, he neither apologised nor did he delete the post. he simply moved on saying that I was right and that he should not have posted such a thing. So this is my reply to this creep: Tarana Burke was born and raised in The Bronx, New York, at a time when it was one of the most dangerous neighbourhoods in that area. She belonged to a low-income, working-class family and was raped and sexually assaulted both as a child & as a teen. Unlike most rape victims, she rose from that trauma and as a teenager, started working to improve the lives of girls who undergo extreme hardship. At college she protested against economic & racial injustice & inequality. Tarana is single mom to daughter Kaia. You’re judging this beautiful, strong woman through your ugly eyes that only see a woman as an object of pleasure. I hope the women in your family are blessed with the wisdom necessary to deal with someone like you. If you think men rape women because the women are pretty then let me tell you, every single woman, without exception, would want to be ugly. I will not even comment on your family life because I think your action should be your personal, individual humiliation and not on your family. Finally, assuming you’re right in your asinine way of thinking that ugly women don’t get raped, I’d like you to set your bar somewhere. Tarana, if you think is too ugly to be touched, you should think of just how desperate your fellow mates must be. It is the same depth of desperation that made you share something as vile & disgusting as this, didn’t it?  This shame is on you.  Of course, I exited that group on which this rubbish was shared. Now circling back to Sam’s post: How should women respond? Men’s only defence is that “Come on, I wasn’t thinking like that!! You know me. I’m a family man!!”. This is just a joke.” The defence of that defence needs to stop. This is not a joke. If this man had said something like that to me, I would tell him to crack another involving his mother or his wife. Exactly. The joke stops there. And the buck stops with us all. Respond by calling them out instantly. Openly. Don’t think about who’s supporting you or who’s listening to you and who isn’t. Don’t tolerate ugly BS in your personal or professional sphere. Don’t let abuse fly under the radar. Draw that line for your personal well-being.

Aiyoh – Made in China da!

Aiyoh – Made in China da!

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So, since I have glossophilia, this news is something I always look forward to: OED i.e. the Oxford English Dictionary has come out with its list of new words added this year. And every year round, a couple of Indian expressions find their rightful place and it helps us continue to look on to the Englishman with regard. This time, Aiyoh has made it to the hallowed rolls. With another discovery looming. Backstory: I’m a Gujju who finds it utterly normal to utter Aiyoh when expressing shock, awe, or surprise. And that’s not normal at all. So when my fave Aiyoh made it to OED, imagine my sense of vindication (Aiyoh in OED) ! Then imagine my sense of disappointment upon finding out that all this time I had been speaking Chinese. Kudos to my multilingual self but still! Turns out, Aiyoh is of Mandarin origin and Aiyah, Cantonese. So, quite literally the most used word in the South, almost like a punctuation mark, isn’t Indian at all. BTW – glossophile is one who loves languages. Which brings me to another observation: Almost all of our languages have some entirely versatile words that can mean an entire range of emotions, and interpretation of which depends on who employs it, how, and when. Like Achcha in Hindi. Achcha literally means ‘good’. As in, How are things? – Achcha hai! As in… Achaha, so you think you’re so smart! I’ll show you! | Achcha? Is that what happened? | Achcha, I thought so. | Achcha, okay, I’ll do it.   So, basically, it’s a reflection of a very pluralistic culture here. These are the Indian words that made it: Langra (the Mango variety), Tithi (dates in the lunar calendar) Very much like the head wobble we Indians do, which also could mean anything from okay to good, to yes, to I don’t know, my bad… and whatever else you want. Are there any such words in your language that mean a whole spectrum of things?

20 Years of Kuch Nahin Hota Hai

October 1998. I saw Kuch Kuch Hota Hai on one of our rare trips to the cinema hall in Ahmedabad. Two families together – My parents and me, with my best friend at school and her parents. I still remember how my mum rolled her eyes at us after the movie saying this ‘friendship’ nonsense in the film will soon have us kids going mad about these new-age ‘rakhis’… and how right she was. For no less than 2-3 years thereafter, the craze for those rakhis refused to fade – Pyaar Dosti hai… We were teens at the time and the film struck us down. We were quick to ignore the sanskari ways in the film, of the newcomer Rani Mukerji urf Tina – she had become an instant sensation. Every guy wanted to be Rahul, seen sporting a tacky chain around his neck with letters COOL hanging from it.  KJo wanted us to know this was Cool Dude. Cool dude makes best friends with tomboy. Tomboy is in love with Cool Dude, although it’s never clear what makes him so cool. Cool Dudes Dig Gorgeous Sanskaari chicks, apparently. Sanskaari knows tomboy loves cool dude and sanskaari is besties with tomboy. But, cool dude charms sanskaari who falls in love with him. So of course, cool dude gets sanskaari after only two songs and dance. She is also the daughter of the principal of the very same college where they all study – All the world is one small Undergraduate Classroom. The only realistic thing about this film is that none of the college birds ever discuss academics or careers – neither profs nor the principal. But, I have full faith in their commitment to the all-round development of their students because cool and tomboy play basketball quite competitively and they do have college cultural festivals that may be considered pretty hep even by today’s standards. Go extracurriculars! KJo never wasted any time bumping off Sanskaari – maternal mortality sub-plot. Rahul is single again. Single father to a cute daughter, let’s name her Anjali, thought the great story-teller – this is Sanskaari’s last sanskaari act as a tribute to her bestie that was the tomboy with the same name. Tomboy had disappeared from their lives when the Sanskaari & Cool M&A began. Both missed tomboy sorely it seems, ‘coz sanskari left a bunch of letters – YES, 20 YEARS AGO LETTERS WAS THE COOL SANSKAARI THING TO DO!!! – for her young daughter to read each birthday. So definitely, Sanskaari had had notice even as a pregnant mom to exercise her penmanship. And execute her strategy to unite Tomboy with her Rahul. Anyway. Memorable moments include little Anjali calling her grandmother ‘sexy’. I believe she might have picked it up from that ‘sexy sexy sexy…’ song from Khuddar that released in 1994, given that Anjali’s only passion was to become a VJ on MTV. Whatever be the case, my mother was shocked even four years on. She gave me a look full of warning if I ever used that word anywhere at all… I didn’t. Until I picked up the lyrics to the song ‘Sexy eyes’ by Whigfield. And even then it was  – “Hey, I’m just singing a song!!” Another one was HOW Cool Dude, now cool dad, stares at tomboy turned sanskaari (Saari & all, there’s nothing understated nor left to be understood) Anjali at little Anjali’s summer camp. The look he gives her could bore holes into a dam. Well, such is the pull – pyaar dosti hai… and now it’s time to turn that around as well. Then of course, the Cool Sanskaari M&A has to happen all over again. There was yet another memorable moment though – rather two. Kajol shows off her Urmila Matondkar moves in an enactment of Rangeela Re song, after which Cool Dude makes a move on her. Thanks to which, she has a stinging realisation: Oops, she’s engaged to Aman and is very soon to be married to him. After a fair share of drama, chest-beating, waterworks and song & dance, Cool Dude once again Dilwale Sanskaari Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, while Sanskaari boy Aman steps back before having to meet the same fate as the sanskaari babe. Anjali adopts Anjali – which works both ways – and KKHH grossed ₹80.12 crore in India, ₹26.61 cr in other countries, for a worldwide total of ₹1.06 billion, against its ₹10 crore budget, as per Wikipedia. To think that among contenders such as Ghulam and Satya, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai picked up the Filmfare award for the Best film… kinda explains why Bollywood mein ‘Kuch Nahin Hota Hai‘.

Jab Rahul-ne Hug Diya

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So… Bhookamp came and went down with a Hug at this No Confidence Motion. The government had the support of 325 members while 126 voted against it. Which means that even as Shiv Sena sat it out, the fence-sitters and not just NDA allies, voted for the government, meaning that BJP continues to provide the country with stable leadership. Hardly a compliment when a once so-called “progressive” leader N Chandrababu Naidu, calls for a No Confidence Vote against a former ally and a Grand old party pitches in with apt buffoonery. It was a circus that Indian people like you and me pay for with our taxes. The exhibit was cheap, distasteful, and not the least because of the Congress scion’s wink, which was discussed more than how much the content of his speech was lacking in facts. The biggest problem though? Media. A bunch of dipshits that feast on cheap thrills not only rejecting all standards of civility and decorum for their own work and lives but also condemning a society to their utter lack of these. Speaking of Rahul’s craptastic speech: at one point he asked Narendra Modi to literally PUT his eye INTO his own (yes, Rahul’s Hindi is that bad, his manners are even worse. He could have got this one right simply by watching 3 Bollywood movies). Well, it was described by BS thus: “The Congress chief delivered a stinging speech that riled BJP members and concluded it by walking across the well of the House to startle the PM with a hug” [ LINK Here ] Rahul’s speech was responded to in typical NaMo fashion, the highlights of which are captured well in this piece here by DNA. But, was it needed? This edit piece here by Bikram Vohra on FirstPost is totally on point. He too blames the media with words: If only the media were to treat this as the non-event that it was, the whole exercise would have been a lot more edifying. But ballooned into a sort of second coming, the country was held at intellectual ransom, with only the issue of Andhra Pradesh being given the chance of making some sense. Cannot but agree. Shockingly enough, Rahul has cheerleaders. Like all cheap Kanti Shah movie villains have sidekicks. The only problem is, this is 2018. Kanti Shah era is over. Media likes to pretend that Sacred Games doesn’t exist. The same FirstPost has this feature here that calls this fool’s speech “brilliant and revelatory”. And that’s only the beginning. It calls out Nirmala Sitharaman’s anger and mocks at her for seething at the lies RaGa peddled re: Rafale deal. In fact, it mocks the BJP for claiming to consider Rahul a joke and then taking his speech on the floor of the House too seriously. Well Ajaz Ashraf, Rahul stopped being a joke and morphed into a dangerous liar when he took his lies to the well of the House. If you felt any responsibility, you’d feel a little consternation maybe. Like I did when Modi made a show of puppet hands in his jibe against Rahul’s wink and the stupid “eye into my eye” comment. That kind of crap has no place in the affairs of governing a country. But I guess people like you enjoy operating your discourse at this level. That said, it is the media’s job to question and lampoon and eventually reject every piece of rhetoric they find that originates from a lie or seeks to divide people based on malicious intent. In a civilized democracy, that is. Clearly, you guys are not ready for that. Finally, the hug. Please watch it here again. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6YhpRJkXUQ It’s not endearing. Nor dignified. Nor respectful. What I truly do not see here is a hug that could even be acceptable. It being invited or reciprocated is far out. I cannot believe that an adult would go inflict a hug on someone in this manner. You don’t just go out collapsing on people’s shoulders in what could be more plausibly some drug-addled bravado. You see he did it only because he knew he would be able to make a statement and that no one would stop him. Finally, he did it quite simply because he can. You know who else behaves so despicably? Roadside romeos. This is not a joke. I’m glad Madam Speaker Sumitra Mahajan scolded him but as a citizen, I’d like to see action taken against him as well as those members of the House who did disrupt the proceedings in any manner at all. Finally, unrivalled is this piece published by The Hindu here that says “The Opposition always knew what the outcome of the no-confidence vote would be, but it did not want to lose an opportunity to make a few political points against the BJP and the Modi government.” It quotes Randeep Surjewala and Shashi Tharoor calling Rahul’s speech a “game-changer”. I’m surprised that Tharoor passed up a golden opportunity to add to the collective vocabulary of us Indians. As for the statement at hand, that the opposition always knew what the outcome would be, it is horribly callous on the part of India’s longest ruling party to support this vote that disrupted the normal functioning of the House, created chaos, and cost taxpayer money. The chief freeloader used the time & money to exhibit third class buffoonery that had to be rubbished by a foreign head of state’s office. Never before – with the exception of the Emergency – has the Indian democracy looked so helplessly spaced out. But. There’s a theory that requires no positing. The Opposition didn’t do this only to show off Rahul’s coming of age – for that is something he’s been busy doing as long as anyone can remember. Besides, Rahul has no choice but to come of age and for his leaders to stand erect and salute him for it: kind of like their ‘Emergency’. The opposition led this charade to map out the actual strength in their favour from 2019 point of view. It’s irresponsible. It’s sinister. It’s dirty. And it shows the depths to which these people are willing to stoop.