Monday, March 28, 2011

Dead and alive treated alike

Sign outside a tent selling native medicines on Bannarghatta Road:


Next time you want to check if you are dead or alive, you know where to go.

And if he pronounces you dead then...

  • You can buy your own coffin!
  • And dig your own grave!!
  • And if you are a Hindu, then you can go shopping for wood for your funeral pyre.
  • And get a good bargain too!!
  • Besides the unenviable opportunity to decide whether you should bury/cremate yourself or pay the 20 rupees and go back home.


p.s. he has medicines for a 'sexless' life too. Just take a dose and see your sexless life becoming a "sexess" err I mean success.

Music - Check your pulse and see if you're alive

Monday, March 21, 2011

Holi haim?

We knew it was Holi in Bangalore, when we spotted multicolored “beings” walking or driving past our house in a bike. In the 90’s when I was a lil kid, I would screech when I saw these beings, bringing people out of their houses. Then we would all stare at these ‘beings’ shamelessly. After the ‘being’ had gone, the clueless southies would gather around discussing this strange phenomenon. Then Iyer uncle would tell everyone about the year 1956 when he was in Delhi and people would groan at the prospect of another yarn from Iyer Uncle and scuttle back home. Every year this phenomenon would take place, i.e. me screeching, people rushing out to see the “being” and Iyer uncle never finishing his story because of the ominous beginning “Back in 1956 when I was in Delhi….”

Uncle never got to tell his story and the neighborhood never understood what “Holi” was till uncle was lying on his deathbed. When people came to know that uncle was on his deathbed, they visited him in droves to pray for him and give the family courage. And on his deathbed uncle delivered the story of “Holi” which I gathered was a terrifying time when blood thirsty North Indians were suddenly seized by the evil spirit and started acting ‘funny’... like throwing colors and what not. Uncle could not give an exact description as he and his wife were too busy cowering in the closet after closing the bedroom door and the main door.

So from Iyer uncle we finally learned that Holi was some kind of North Indian festival or tradition. Soon after delivering the Holi narrative Iyer uncle was pronounced fit as a fiddle by the doctor. We were so happy for him that we decided that the next time he cried ‘wolf” we will wait till he had died before visiting him.

Every Holi I waited for the colored beings to walk or drive past our house. They looked fascinating. We now knew it was Holi when we spotted these multicolored beings in the open or saw a lone patch of bright colors on the street. Then my brother was invited to his Rajasthani friend’s house for his first Holi celebration. When he got back home, we finally had out own multicolored “being”. The rest of the family looked on warily, fascinated at what looked like my brother's evil twin. My dad took a photograph of him too. He was so proud. Then he and my mom spent the next week scrubbing the colors off their son while he howled and screamed in pain. That was the last time my brother played Holi. Little did he or his southie parents know that Holi colors fade slowly and that scrubbing was not necessary?

Finally we had our very own North Indian neighbor and for their first Holi celebration in the south they called the whole neighborhood. It was a colorful affair with lot of color throwing and furious fathers running behind indistinguishable “beings” who were throwing colors on their daughters and lots of other fun activities.

South Indian dad (SID): What are you doing near my daater?
North Indian Boy (NIB): I am going to put some color on Rajeshwari uncle.
SID: Woky, Wokay, but no hanky panky wokay?
NIB: Of course not uncle.
SID (barking): No touchiiiiinnnnngggg I said!!!!
NIB: Err how do I put the color then!
SID: Like this... (and he takes the colored powder and puts one tiny pottu on his daughter’s forehead)
NIB: !!!!!!

Let’s just say the celebrations went on very well. I ate lot of sweets as I was too young to be bothered with requests for putting pottu (bindi). But by the end of the day, the North Indian boys had become expert in making nice round evenly colored pottus. And that is how the stick-on bindi business started I am told and went on to become a multimillion dollar industry… by frustrated North Indian males settled in South India.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Technology to the aft

Today I saw the very first Indian TV commercial for a Home Pregnancy Kit. The commercial is shot in a typical Saas Bahu serial setting. The bahu, who seems to be a village girl comes tripping down the steps in a heavily embroidered ghaghra choli holding a uric acid dripping test stick, and nods to everyone present with a suppressed smile. The nodding I presume was to indicate that 1) She was pregnant and was very happy about it. 2) She was not pregnant and is much relieved.

The ambiguity of that smile ensures that both married and unmarried girls are covered in the commercial. How ingenious!!

I can almost visualize the impact this kit will have on many Indian families.

Saas: Bahu!!!! What does the test say?
Bahu: *blush* You are going to be a grandmother maaji.
Saas: Does that test tell you if it is a boy or girl?
Bahu: *gulp* Nahin maaji!
Saas (slapping her): Kalmui. What is the point of this test then!
Bahu: *sob*

Cut to year 2030. India is now a scientific super power. The pregnancy test kit developed by Indian scientists is a highly developed contraption with multiple services added to it.

Saas: Bahu! Are you pregnant or not?
Bahu: Yes I am maaji *blush*
Saas: What is it? A boy or a girl?
Bahu: A girl maaji. But don’t worry maaji. The pregnancy test kit has care taken of it. It is programmed to detect and terminate female fetuses immediately!
Saas: I am so proud of your bahu! Best of luck with the next try. I shall be rooting for you.
Bahu: *blush* Thank you maaji.
Husband: *groan*

Come to think of it, such pregnancy detection kits might be just the ticket for a happy family life in many Indian homes. When it comes to using technology to further reinforce our prejudices, blind beliefs and superstitions, we Indians are tops! Jai ho!