We love to chat! Why not WeChat?

We Indians love our chats and chaats with equal fervor. We like our gossips to be as spicy and tangy as the golgappe waala’s teekhe waala paani. So what if your motto in life is just “live and let live”? The neighbor waali Mrs. Sharma doesn’t think so. To check what time you reach home at night, what clothes you wear and how many guy friends you have is all her prerogative too. After all, who’s going to take care of the declining ethos of the society, eh?

And so, when I was given the opportunity to be able to connect with any 5 people of my choice, I decided to run a few ticks in my check list. After all, I would be talking/chatting/video calling some of my real favorite people in the world. I decide to send WeChat invites to my favorite 5 people and this is the bhelpuri of a conversation that we had (recreated as honestly as possible ;-))

(Phone beeps)
Apparently THE ShahRukh Khan has accepted my invite and sends me a hello…

SRK: Hello there, young lady!
Moi: H..h..h…h..h hello Sir. It’s such an honour to be chatting with you.
SRK: ha ha ha. Call me SRK. Naam to suna hi hoga

(And I imagine my first true love going all SRKish, opening his arms just for me )

Mrs. Sharma: Hello Sir, I also feel the honour ji. Thank you beta for inviting me into this conversation too.

Moi: No trouble Aunty. (we need someone for entertainment,no?)

SRK: Ghata, you have such a beautiful name. Bollywood has romanticized your name so much. Never thought I would meet someone with the name.

Moi : (blushing) Thanks SRK. I can’t believe you are flirting with me 😉

Mrs. Sharma : (obviously not liking the lack of attention on her): SRK, I heard you are planning another baby. What’s with you and Aamir and Sanju wanting to be dads at 50?

SRK: ha ha ha…pyaar, shaadi aur bacche karne ki koi umar nahi hoti…lekin ye tum kya jaano Mrs. Sharma….ha ha ha!!

(Moi silently enjoying the saucy convo)

phone beeps
(The famous Margaret Mitchell has accepted my invitation too)

MM: Hello there, lady!
Moi: Hello Ma’m. I can’t believe what I am chatting with you right now. I never thought this was possible.
MM : Thank you Ghata!
Mrs. Sharma: But beta, tell me, who is this firangi girl you are talking to?
Moi: Aunty, she’s the author of a bestselling author “Gone with the Wind”. It’s my favorite book. When I first read it, I wanted to kiss the hands and the mind that created it.
MM : Thank you dear. You are very kind.
Mrs. Sharma (obviously not very impressed) : ok, your english books vooks. What do I know? She wrote a tragic love story?
Moi: No aunty, she wrote about how a girl discovered what true love actually meant in between wars and adversities.
Mrs. Sharma : (unimpressed) Ok Ok! Whatever that means..
SRK: MM, Loved your book. By the way, I am SRK. Naam to suna hi hoga….ha ha ha…
MM : Thank you Sir. Pray forgive me for I have never heard of you.
SRK : !!!
Moi : 😛

phone beeps


(Sarah jessica parker has accepted my invitation too)
I let out a whoop of joy!

Moi : Hi Sarah! So excited to be talking to you.
SJP : Thanks honey.
Mrs. Sharma : now who is she? Why couldn’t you invite Anandi from Balika vadhu? Always talking to these foreign girls!!
Moi : Aunty, she is a famous Hollywood actress. She played Carrie Bradshaw in the famous TV series Sex and the City.
mrs. Sharma: What? Sex and what? Your generation and all this talk about s** before marriage and all?

Aunty  goes off on another tangent and talks about our unmoral-ness while …

Moi: So, Sarah, how does it feel to be still remembered as Carrie? Was it difficult playing the part?
SJP: It feels great to be still known as Carrie. People loved the show. Playing the part wasn’t so difficult because it is a little like all the New York girls drifting in and out of relationships.
Moi: But what about being in an affair with Mr. Big knowing that he was married?
SJP: Well, that was Carrie Bradshaw for you and not Sarah. 🙂

Aunty is still mumbling about sex and extra marital affairs…

Moi: You sensationalized the stilettos and high street fashion.
SJP: Thanks a lot girl. I loved being on the show as much as you loved watching it.

phone beeps and Mr. Arvind Kejriwal is on the chat


Moi: hello Sir, an honour to be talking to you.
Mrs. Sharma : Hello Arvind ji. Only you can save the country now. You are doing a great job.
AK: Thank you ladies. But the aam aadmi party needs your support both morally and financially to succeed.
Moi: Absolutely Sir. We will support as much as we can. I am a huge fan. The way you left your high profile cushioned job for the sake of the country is really exemplary.
AK: Thank you. It’s just something I had to do.
Moi: But I am sure it was not easy. Family pressures must have held you back.
AK: Let’s not go there. What’s important is that the youth wants a change and we are trying to bring it. We just need your support.
Mrs. Sharma: Arvind ji, please lead us. We will follow you. Perhaps, after this chat, you could come over to our area to check our heightening electricity bills.
Moi: !!!!!!!

And finally, Sir Ravindra Jadeja decides to accept my invite and join the conversation


Moi: Sir Jadeja, what a performance you have been giving in the Champions Trophy.
SRK: O look, sir Ravindra Jadeja! sir, bahut naam suna hai aapka….its lovely meeting you.
MM: So, you are the Sir Ravindra Jadeja everyone’s been talking about? You must be doing something right! Congratulations..
SJP: O yeah, I heard a lot about you from the Indian media, facebook and twitter. Going great guns dude. Keep it up!
AK : Sir, saare politicians aapki tarah perform karne lage, to everyone can live in peace
Mrs. Sharma: He must be a cricketer. Everyone seems to know him? Was he also involved in match fixing?
Moi: No aunty. But yes, he is a cricketer and is in great form. So Sir RJ, how does it feel to be appreciated by legends all over the world?
Sir RJ : (blushing) well, you know…its nice. I like it. But I just try to play my game. Bowl straight. field well.. Rest all follows.
Moi: I am sure Sir RJ. But don’t you feel offended people make jokes on you?

Sir RJ:I try to keep away from them.People do what they are good at. I try do my act well.

Moi: Looking forward to a great performance from you in the upcoming matches as well.

Sir RJ : I will try my best … (honest smile) 🙂

Mrs. Sharma and I had such an awesome time talking to these great personalities!!All thanks to WeChat for launching this awesome application especially in our country where gossips spread faster than wildfires. If you want to know more about this app(downloadable on your phone), you can read my review here. And if you had fun reading about this saucy, tangy and spicy conversation, you should give WeChat a try too!

This post has been written for the WeChat with Anyone, Anywhere! on Indiblogger




A Women’s Day with a difference!

Trust Indiblogger to come up with something unique and spectacular every time I wonder, what next? or what can be better than this? On Women’s Day this year, Indiblogger and Breakthrough came together to launch the award winning campaign “Ring the Bell” in India. It’s a call to men and boys to come forward and take action to stop violence on women.

The evening started with the special guests of the evening Sir James Bevan, KCMG, British High Commissioner, Rajan Anandan, CEO, Google India, Rahul Bose, actor and activist, Bollywood ringing the bell. There was a small talk between these corporate biggies and two rural women leaders who came forth with some real issues that they face while rehabilitating women.

Rahul Bose ringing the bell!

 

Sir James Bevan ringing the bell!
The panel discussing women reforms and issues
That’s Rajan Anandan, CEO, Google India 🙂

And then came the first high point of the show, a performance by Mahabano-Mody Kotwal. It was raw and electrifying, and so much that I know that I am definitely reading the Vagina Monolouges next.;-)

 It was now time for a performance of the band “Swarathma”. Hardly anyone in the audience had heard them before. But by the end of the performance they had a fan in each of us. That the performance was rocking, hip, classy and etc. etc., is to put it subtly 😉 H bought a CD of their album, and we have been listening to them in the car since. Trust me, they were GOOD!

Members of Swarathma band performing
That’s the whole band together, taking a bow.

The second high point of the day was a conversation between Rahul Bose, Anoop Johnson, co-founder, Indiblogger, Ryan Mendonca, advertising professional, and Advaita Kala, author and award winning script writer. The theme was “Portrayal of women in film, TV and Advertising”. It was all great, except that it was too short. With a topic like that, I had expected some disagreements between the highly opinionated participants, some fireworks, but sadly enough, that didn’t happen owing to time constraints. But it was an experience listening to these stalwarts nonetheless. (Although, ever since that evening, there is strong brouhaha over one of Rahul’s statements, and you can even check that out on the front page of today’s Delhi Times).

That’s Rahul Bose, in one of the candid moments, explaining his point!

 

The stunning Advaita Kala

 

The panel discussing “the objectfication of women”!

My day also got luckier as I got clicked with Rahul and Advaita. I even got the chance to have a little talk with her and tell her that I just loved her book. She was such a sweetheart and indulged us gracefully 🙂

And just how a fitting climax should be to such a fantastic night, it was time for another international star Anushka Shankar’s performance. Although truthfully speaking, I ain’t no expert in music, and neither did I understand what ragas she was playing. But even to a novice like me, the music was enthralling and divine. Not only did she look stunningly beautiful, she played even better. You just had to see her playing the sitar, and the way her fingers coursed over the instrument. It was an experience. To cherish. Forever.

 

 

 

I am not really sure how much of it all really made sense, or if it will actually bring about any change in the whole drive for women. But nevertheless, I have to thank Indiblogger profusely who always give bloggers like us these amazing opportunities to meet our stars, engage with them, and get enough food for thought to form our opinions!

What Fun! With Indiblogger and Pantene Nature Fusion!

After a super successful, and immensely entertaining meet the last time, I would have to be absolutely nuts to not attend the Indiblogger meet organised by Pantene Nature Fusion on Oct 14, 2012 at the ITC Sheraton, New Delhi. The address of the meet itself was tempting enough as I attended the last 2 meets at the much modest Park Hotel, CP. Sheraton was well….Sheraton. I entered the hotel, and there was this huge foyer with a dramatic set of stairs from both sides crawling upwards to the first floor. I was guided very graciously to the ballroom for the meet.

I landed there to find the ballroom decorated in very soothing colors and matching the product theme – White and Green. As always, I registered and proceeded to look around for any known faces. But this time, the registration came with a free hair spa for all the ladies! Can you beat that?! I jumped with joy and sat down at the nearest table. Slowly and steadily the room started filling with people I had never met, people I had seen around on other meets, some people who I had met on the last meet and are now friends. We greeted, we hugged and generally made a lot of noise! 😉

The white board with the graffiti

We ooh-ed and aah-ed at the amazing choice of the venue and proceeded to fill the white boards with colors and graffiti. And then we settled down to actually start with the event! Ya, we had all that fun even before the event actually started. Anup welcomed us with an explosive activity. Quite literally! Everybody present had a balloon and a tooth-pick. We had to burst others’ balloons and safeguard ours simultaneously. You can quite imagine how that room must have looked like with ladies ranging from 13 to 63 years, running around with balloons in hand and poking others, even as the room buzzed with shrieks from the ladies and “phut, phut” as one more balloon would go kaput.

Yours truly was one of the winners in the game and got a surprise gift. *Pats self on the back*

The balloon game winners on the stage

 

With my gift!

There was another activity that followed wherein every team had to make a “mummy” out of a lady by rolling her in toilet paper and giving a message put for what it stood. I couldn’t participate in that one, as I was busy getting my spa done. I heard it was pretty interesting 🙂

And finally, it was time for some very interesting Introductions or “30 seconds to fame”, as Indiblogger likes to call it. Everybody had to introduce themselves and their blog and what they write and why they write. And  that was to be followed by a tangy, spicy tongue twister with an emoticon that you had to say with the right emotions. Some real tongue-in-cheek humor there. 😉 My twister was really catchy and I was overjoyed to find this on the Twitter roll just as I finished saying it.

Yeah! Indi meets are pretty cool this way!

It was already lunch time and we were all hungry after those super energetic games we played. We treated ourselves to a sumptuous  lunch and proceeded for the next round of events. And then, it was time for business.

Lais Koelle (a beautiful Brazilian lady) had flown down from Singapore to apprise us of the new Pantene Nature Fusion. She gave us a lot of dough on what the new product was about, its unique element and proceeded to take any number of questions from us. The all-new Pantene Nature Fusion uses Cassia (the state flower of Kerala! I bet you didn’t know that!) that protects hair and makes them bouncy and voluminous. Can’t wait to try the beautiful hampers Pantene gave us as parting gifts :-))

Dats Lais from Pantene!

The last activity was something related to the product that we were talking about. Each of the 8 teams were given vases of different shapes and sizes, flowers and foliage and a unique element like bubble wrap, green mat, ribbons etc. We had to make out bouquets and use our unique element in an errr….unique way (;-)) and also create a chant using some key words. Of course, the best team won (it wasn’t us) and here’s our team pic singing the slogan and the bouquet we made. Be nice and tell me that it’s good 🙂

Ladies at work!

 

And singing the carol..

Last but not the least, we had Yashodhara Lal (of the Just Married, Please Excuse fame) gave us a low down on how we can see our dreams turn into reality and get ourselves published. She was also sweet enough to sign copies of her book and pose with fame struck bloggers like us.

And like all blogger meets, I happen to recognize some blogger who I follow religiously and this time I found The Cyber Nag (also known as Zephyr or belan waali aunty). She was a very sweet lady and I just babbled something when I met her and I hope she didn’t think I really talk like that. 😛 😉

A fellow blogger Atula Gupta came up and said she was an avid reader and really liked my blog. My my. Now that was a real high to end the day with!
In all, it was a Sunday well spent with lots of energy, fun, masti and goodies. Thank you so much Indiblogger and Pantene for taking care of us and pampering us. Looking forward to the next one already! 😉

Arranging your love – better than loving the arrangement ?

Marriage. They say it’s not a word, it’s a sentence. A sentence that means a million different things to a million people across the world. And yet, it is considered the most sacred of all institutions that exist in this world. Across generations, thought processes have changed, new cultures have emerged, humongous technological advancements have happened and yet, Marriage is a kind of mystery that is still incurable, still indecipherable.

The decision to get married brings with itself a host of responsibilities. And add to that, with a paradigm cultural shift, we have another very important question that has apparently gained more importance than the original “To marry or not to marry” confusion and that is, “Love Marriage or Arranged Marriage”. And this is one topic of debate that was prevalent even when I was in school and I think it’s going to be relevant even when my kids decide to get married. I only hope we (my kids and I) agree one of those !

Now, there are a lot of pros and cons associated with each kind of marriage, and in a nutshell if you ask me, I would just say, “To each his own”. But seriously, if I were to elaborate to sort out my own thoughts on the topic, I would address them as below.

1) Basics

Arranged Marriage (AM) is a pretty consistent procedure. You turn a marriage-able age. Your parents decide to find a suitable match for you. When they find it, you get married. Contrast this with a “Love marriage”. Random boy meets random girl. They hook up and start dating. And sometime later, they decide to get married. Do they end up getting married? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Random people, random answers. But what really bothers me is the characterization of this entire mess as “Love Marriage”. What I mean is that in this case, you will find stories, each one eligible enough to give our quintessential Bollywood romances a run for their money. And sometimes, heavily inspired from them – couples having a huge age difference between them, couples from contrasting financial backgrounds (one super rich , and one poor), from different castes, different religions and sometimes a mixture of more than one reason and you know you have a spicy Love Marriage chaat at hand compared to the boring and predictable Arranged Marriage samosa.

 

 

A contrast in the kind of freedom people feel in AM v/s LM !!

People say the divorce rates are way higher in Love Marriages. Aren’t they bound to be? I mean, if you look at the kind of risks involved in an unstable chemical equation that a Love Marriage (LM) is, what with age gaps, financial constraints, caste and religion differences, break down is a truth, rather than a possibility. Whereas in an AM, all the possible risks are covered up at the first step. But this does not mean that LMs are bad and AMs good or vice versa. And as far as risk proofing is concerned, AMs aren’t all that fool proof. What with the girls of our generation being financially independent and not taking crap from anyone, divorce rates are pretty steep in this section too.

2) Head v/s Heart

Indulging in extreme behaviors. AM – all thought, no heart. LM – all heart, no thought. Why? 

It’s not necessary that everyone will/shall fall in love. So, if you are looking for a soul mate, instead of just check marking the usual parameters like caste, religion , height, weight, salary, try to find out more about his/her personality. And here, I believe that if the parents allow kids to meet a prospective groom/bride of their choice, they should also provide the kids an ample amount of time to take their decision. At least in India, it doesn’t happen like that. Nobody can judge a character in a couple of dates. I think this is one area where LM score over AM – Understanding your partner. In LM, since the partners have known each other for quite some time, understanding comes a bit easier.

The kind of proposal you might get in an AM!! 😛
While in a LM, the couple is kind of cocooned in their world where they have eyes only for each other, oblivious of parents or relatives and they might be misled to believe that Love conquers all. Sadly not for everyone. But while you are being all rosy eyed and believing that this world is nothing but a lovers’ playground for you, it is important to understand the fact that once a relationship becomes formal, it comes under the scanner of society, parents, friends and two sets of relatives. And that is the time when the actual pareeksha begins. And so even though you may have fallen in love with all your heart and your best intentions, it is very important to give it a thought with your pretty head too. And kind of question yourself if you will be able to take a downfall in the relationship (which is inevitable) with different kinds of expectations. We live in a society and can’t really live exclusively. 

These Relationship Basics are good to know in both cases.

3) Just Married 

This is the most blissful phase in both types of marriages. Starting a new life with your partner, where only you two are the cynosure of all eyes, gifts, parties, romance and honeymoon make one dreamy eyed and push them far from reality. But once all the excitement dies down, it’s a reality show. Couples in AM have a lot of catching up to do in terms of knowing each other likes and dislikes apart from getting acquainted to the whole new world of being married and all. On the other hand, LM couples finally heave a sigh of relief at having successfully made to the altar, but kind of realize that marriage and courtship are not really the same things. And so, a couple of months after marriage, everyone goes through different kind of struggles. And I think here parents and society play a very crucial role. 

I have seen instances here where parents and society adopt a dual nature. If it was an AM, they would advise their son/daughter to talk it out and reach a compromise, and sometimes even intervene in a positive way to make things better. But God forbid if it was a LM, they start blaming the son/daughter and “they always knew this was going to happen because he/she didn’t know bad from good”. Do you think that serves any purpose apart from putting additional pressure on the couple? The point here is that any kind of marriage requires some time to settle down with a partner and people and parents should understand and respect that.

4) A couple of years later….

All people change for good and bad with time. Sometimes people and their love for each other outgrows. This can happen in both kinds of marriages. Although chances are high of it happening in a LM because AM somehow takes care of a lot of aspects of your future beforehand. And also because couples in a LM have very high expectations from each other and when they don’t get fulfilled, they begin to question the love. But that doesn’t mean failures don’t happen in AM. May be just a little less than LM. 

Of the above analysis, I understand that AM are (statistically) more secure than a LM. And yet, why do people marry the one they love? In spite of knowing all the difficulties they might have to face and having heard the above from friends and family umpteen number of times, why do they still go ahead with it? I think that madness is called Love. People who have never experienced that kind of madness might never want to believe it and even rubbish it away as a mere hormonal rush. But only the people who have been in love know how magical it is. Its maddening enough to make people forget who they are, change them in ways they would never have imagined, and do things they may have never thought themselves capable of. And it is for this magical madness that people are ready to risk it all. And after all, if it doesn’t work out, they still have the satisfaction of knowing that they are solely responsible for their actions. For nothing do they say, “It’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all”. And for what it’s worth, you can’t really blame your parents for a failed AM, because they had your best interests at heart! 

But the most important thing to remember is that any relationship (be it love or arranged) requires a lot of work for maintenance. Just in different ways. Love just doesn’t automatically stay in a LM nor is it automatically created in an AM. It has to be built, taken care of and nursed to enjoy its beauty always. And on a “bidding adieu” note, I would like to say again, “To each his own”. If you find true love, hold it tight. If you don’t, have faith. Your love story might just begin after you say “I do” 🙂
————————————————————————————————————
This post is my entry for the 

Love Marriage or Arranged Marriage

 on 

Indiblogger

.

You can vote for me 

here

.

*All images courtesy Google

When your problem is not actually The problem !!

Sometimes it’s not the problem but the thought or our perception of the problem that troubles us more. A kid thinks that there can’t be anything worse than a lost pencil or eraser because he dreads his mommy’s temper back home. History and Mathematics are the biggest trouble makers for the teens and a broken heart for all college goers. But there are people in this world who do not have the luxury of owning such “problems”, because for them survival is the biggest challenge. They don’t know where their next meal is coming from; the kids don’t know what a school is or whether they will ever go to one. 
For instance, take me and my hair. I have never had the privilege of owning a long healthy mane. It’s a genetic thing. My mom has hair like that and so do I – light, frizzy and dry! Now having to deal with something like that is like being punished for none of your fault. But I only realized this later that it is a very small price to pay for all the other luxuries that God has bestowed me with.

 

I had a typical boy-cut hair style for my entire school life and even during the first year of college. They say college changes you in many ways. I saw girls doing stuff to their hair during parties and functions. Some plaited them loosely with a lonely strand flirtingly left loose, while others let loose the entire length to make the boys drool and to make the girls jealous. And jealous I did get. And ironically enough, all my girl-friends had waist length lustrous hair. It was during this time that I decided to grow my hair, and to come out of the self inflicted tomboyish image. But then when your genes deprive you of something, you hardly can make up for it externally. My hair did grow but the growth wasn’t too good, nor was the quality of hair. They were limp and frizzy and looked like a pig’s tail. There was no volume and it was lifeless. 
Then a couple of years back, my aunt suggested me to try 

Dove

Oil therapy as it was specifically designed for dry and lifeless hair. I had tried various other “specially for dry hair” shampoo brands and apparently nothing had worked. And so, although, I did give this one a try, I didn’t keep up with it. Because deep down I always believed that I could never have hair like Rapunzel or any other Disney ladies because I was just not born with it. Even though Dove did moisturize my hair well and made it look more manageable, I still let go of it! Sigh!

Sometime back, I happened to meet the aunt. I was aghast to see her cropped hair. Being a true blue South Indian, I had always seen her hip length thick wavy jet black hair that could give any shampoo commercial model a run for her money. She was the “gurukul” as far as the hair problems of the girls in our family were concerned. So I asked her why she had so mercilessly cropped her mane, even though secretly in my heart I was admiring her in the new hair cut. And it was then that she revealed that she had been diagnosed with cancer and had undergone a couple of chemotherapy sessions and that was the reason for her short hair. In fact she had lost them all, and she had come visiting only when she had recovered her health as well as some of her hair. I couldn’t react. My mouth fell, I froze. 
Before
After
Everyone started reminiscing about the older days when she was the cynosure of all eyes because of her hair. And I just remembered what she always used to say. That what you have got is so much more than what other people can only dream of.  But I always cribbed about my imperfect life because I couldn’t be attractive like the other girls. She always encouraged me saying that it was so much easier to style light hair whereas she had no option but to plait her never ending thick mane. It never made sense to me. I just wanted what I couldn’t get. But that day at that moment I realized what she had been saying all along.
The problem was not if I could get hair like hers. The problem actually was what I could do with my hair like it was. I had a shampoo that was working for me and I just had to make full use of it. And that moment of realisation was the beginning of the end of my hair problems. I only had to look at it from a different perspective and in actuality, work towards a solution instead of crying foul about the un-fairness of it all!
It’s been some time since I have been using Dove and you know what have I done with it? I have changed my weakness into my strength. My hair still doesnt have too much volume, but it’s way more silky, smooth and presentable. And what’s more! I can leave it loose, pin it up or just make a mess of it. Just like aunty said. There’s a solution to every problem, sometimes right in front of us. We just have to start looking for it, instead of cribbing about it.
And that’s my chic ponytail look with fringes! Tell me you like it 😛
 And infact, now there is an even easier way out. You can’t figure out what your hair problem actually is? Just like me? Visit the

Dove Hair Aware app

and know about your hair type and also what kind of Dove products would suit you the best. Every hair has a story. Your hair speak to you in a language that only you can understand. I understood mine the hard way. Have you understood yours?

This story has been written for the

Dove contest

on

Indiblogger

.

You can vote for me

here

.

*All images used here are either my own or taken from Google.