Wednesday, September 03, 2014


Once in a while, when one gets relatively lucky, one spots a sight on the busy road, like the one I spotted very recently. One might wonder what the said 'sight' is - if it is Shahrukh Khan zooming past a Harley davidson and waving back at me, or Narendra Modi doing a Namaste rallying on an open top vehicle. It was neither a mirage nor a was, of all the things, the brightest green hued Chameleon in the whole entire world  and perhaps the most adventerous, laid back daredevil his species had produced. He had, I assume, woken up from a well rested sleep and decided to face his fears! And  behold the way he did that. He formed a slowly crawling, unmistakable smear on the road, his color was probably the saving grace that shielded him from ruthlessly unruly traffic, announcing his presence ahead of time. How else would one explain his crossing the divider and getting to the side  my vehicle was cutting through? We slowed down and please believe me when I say that I could see an expression on his face, an obvious pride and a gait that seemed to challenge the passers by.  He was not scurrying, nor was his frightened. His four limbs moved with the symmetry and precision of a robot making me wonder if he had built in special effects that animated his movements. His rigid tail curled into a tight coil at the tip and he emulated Michael Jackson doing his slow motion walk in Billie Jean video. I looked back, cranked and creaked my perpetually sprained neck muscle and tried to trace him till the end of the road, until he reduced to a speck and disappeared into the narrowing road, saying a quick prayer and hoping he'd succesfully complete his odyssey to the other end of the road.

He was just a glorified critter so to speak but the punch he packed in his courageous adventure and the shield of fearlessness that his brought along left a bright spot in my just unfolding day, a spot as green, as positive and as unmistakable as the color of his skin :-)

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

The white hysteria.

I did ponder upon the 'fairness' obsession of Indians a time too many, but it suddenly seems to have manifested into a white obsession that had seeped into almost every aspect of people's routine - from whiter toilet bowls to whiter shirts, sarees, suits, arm pits, bikini lines, teeth, baby soaps and the whole entire nine yards! Just the other day, when I was catching an old regional classic on TV, after a lifetime of a break, the whiteness mania jumped out of the screen, and to keep the metaphor strong enough - spat on my face and strangled my neck to suffocation.  Yes, it was insult plus injury all rolled into one, dipped into the bleach of 'collective regression' of the Indian janta and splashed all over me, its figurative pungence suffocating my brain cells to premature death! 

I gathered pieces of my scarred and shattered self to look back and ponder - not that it is going to help the 'operation white wash' in anyway - but just to purge out a little bit of that poison that was force ingested in the process of an innocent attempt to watch an old movie, walk down the childhood lane and revive some memories. The first shoker came disguised in a movie star and crickter riding an open top jeep, while the former mocks the latter about spending too much time on the pitch and getting all dark and unhappening. Then, a magical potion comes to rescue and adds the much needed glitz and glamor to the cricketer's face, and the young women of my country, being the white watchers they are, clamour after him. It was a message delivered profoundly, loudly, clearly and strongly that no matter your skill in the game or the grit in your challenges, your life is as bright as your skin tone, and nope - it is not just the women who need to be fair anymore, to get a good groom or job or just a plain old good life. We seem to have caught up on that part of gender equality. Even males need to be 'fair'! Fair enogh! Isn't it?

There was a time in the golden era of telivision when a bright white clad Lalithaji lectured the nation about the many virtues of 'Surf' detergent powder that made her win both court trials and kitty party arguments with the same aplomb. Now I see numerous manifestations of her in both genders, ages and  sizes. A whiter outfit has the potential to win you anything from jobs, contracts, romantic dates, powerful positions, leadership opportunities and even customers and clients. The same goes with smiles polished with one of those many toothpaste formulas. They make your teeth glow in the dark like florescent strips and bring the other guy's girl running to your side.  But in practical application neither the powders or the pastes add any kind of brightness to our school uniforms or molars. If there were any sort of stringent laws about false and emotional bait advertising, I am pretty sure a good number of those businesses would be sued by now.

What do these ads do to you and me apart from putting our worth and intellect down based on the shade of our skin, clothes or teeth? They induce a collective 'white' complex in all our brains - my fourteen year old nephew who is this quintessential tall dark and handsome young man with the trade mark South Indian skin tone and saucer eye balls was subjected to several brutal analyses of his 'dark' skin during his recent trip to India, even by kids his age and by family members. The American bred young  man had a disgusted look for our tribe all along. I could'nt for once, tell him the glories of our land or the virtues, cause we as a nation, didn'nt seem to have looked beyond the color of his epedermis.

Like I said, it won't change much..but my insides seem a little cleansed from all the white dirt that had piled up. I'll go back to scrubbing the kid's white uniform and cussing Ariel detergent for its underperformance - and pray that a jaded school shirt might not take away the chance of being the class monitor from my unassumingly innocent eight year old who might still not understand how her getting 'tan' after coming to India, had become a conversation starter and burning issue in the whole entire neighborhood :-) 

Here's to a fairer world and fitter screws! Screws of the brains, that is ;-)