An open letter to Shobhaa De

Hello Shobhaa,

Your Wikipedia page and other sources of general public information describe you as an author, a novelist, a columnist, an editor of some ‘famous’ magazines and an ex-model. You are also, I believe from my observations, a socialite and a regular face on Page 3 of quite a few newspapers. Congratulations for all of this!

Now I read this recent article of yours on your blog, which (unfortunately) was also published in The Week. And I could not help but write to tell you what you are not.

You are not a feminist. You are not a champion of the female cause. You are not even what can be construed as a part of the face of the modern Indian woman. At your best, you are just another pseudo-feminist with a demented idea of what women want, probably derived from reading the obnoxiously superficial and outrageously deceitful articles about the ‘real’ interpretation of female equality and achievement thereof.

Because when you made a hue and cry about the fact the some men started visiting the same salon as your highness was a regular at, and then when you went ahead to label it as ‘the worst kind of male intrusion into our personal space since the introduction of common lavatories’, you were actually jeopardizing what feminism actually stands for.

I have a problem with this.

You see, I understand where you come from. Your stint in modelling may lead you to believe that a ‘female-only’ manicure and pedicure facility is the epitome of the female equality. Because hey, feminism is all about women having exclusive salons where they can spend the rest of their lives getting rid of body hair and ‘perfecting’ their natural self!

Reality: It isn’t.

You know what, while you were busy ‘spreading awareness’ about the male encroachment in your neighborhood salon, somewhere in this very country a woman got raped because supposedly she ‘was inviting it’, a girl was not sent to school, a female child could not survive the gender stereotypes, a bride was set ablaze for being unable to substantiate her worth in gold and cash, an educated professional lady was sexually harassed at her workplace and many other women were denied even their basic human rights. All this happened, while you were mourning a chipped nail and an unwaxed upper lip. These aren’t the real threats to feminism, Miss. De. We need social, political, economic and cultural equality for women. And forgive my shortsightedness, but I don’t see how your battle is going to be of any help in this war.

Not to mention that the condescending and disdainful tone in which you talk about both men and women who have ‘imperfect’ bodies is only going to reaffirm the superficial norms of beauty that the modern society has so wrongly accepted and even revered. Hair or no hair, we need to learn to respect people for what they are and not how they look. So, if you can’t help with this, please at least don’t screw it up for those who are trying!

And yeah, so what exactly is the big deal if guys have started taking personal grooming seriously? On a lighter note, isn’t it finally a victory for all the women who have, for centuries, been nagging about how untidy and unkempt their partners/husbands/boyfriends are. Yes, painting toenails is taking it a bit too far even for the most metro-sexual of men but I’m just going to treat it as a figment of literary exaggeration a writer of your ‘stature’ has to resort to and live up to, to keep the pseudo-feminists interested and then exclaim- “Hah! Men are so stupid, aren’t they!”

You claim to be ‘all for male grooming’, yet you are averse to the idea of sharing a salon with them? Why, do you have to share a wax strip with a (as you said) ‘hirsute man’? I’m pretty sure that’s not the case. Even if for a microsecond we agree to your statement that both the parties might get grossed out looking at each other’s not so perfect bodies, isn’t it also true that this also in some way brings a sense of understanding, even appreciation, of the natural shortcomings that the opposite gender has?

I think it does.

And hey, in this part of the universe we still have hospitals where men get treated alongside women. So with your persistent sense of getting ‘grossed out’, what are you proposing, we get separate hospitals for them?

Shobhaa, another thing. The men you are talking about, they are what we call in marketing language ‘consumers’. You cannot really expect each one of them to open up a salon for themselves just because a woman suddenly feels threatened with men sharing the grooming space with her. You see, not everyone has the kind of money that you get by selling Bollywood gossip and grapevine bundled in smooth shiny papers to gullible people!

As a matter of fact, the business concept of a unisex salon is pretty much a successful one, even in a relatively conservative country like India. You might want to read this article about the growth of this industry. If the idea of a unisex salon was ‘grossing out’ a majority of people (as you would want us to believe), I don’t think unisex salons would have survived, let alone flourish the way they have not only in metros but also in Tier-II cities of the country. So, you know, go easy on Mr.Branson there with your business ideas.

What you have so easily termed as a death knoll for the female privacy and the male intrusion into the female space, is actually more of your own personal problem. Because last time I checked, unisex salons were not there in the ‘list of things that threaten feminism and female equality’.

It is a sorry state of affair if a woman thinks, believes in and propagates the idea that ‘female space’ literally means how many square feet of a salon the women can have exclusively to themselves!

You can now go ahead and get you toenails done.



The ‘hirsute’ man you don’t want to see in a unisex salon




Three Days

Day 1

A day of having your nostrils flooded with the smell of sucrose and your head covered in bagasse, in a small mill located somewhere in the sugar bowl of India.

A day of becoming an engineer again. Revisiting the ghosts of the pasts…conjuring the bituminous demons and fly ash witches, that all this while lay in a slumber somewhere in the dark caverns of memory. Once again walking through the crisscross maze of conveyors, belts, dryers, furnaces, turbines, generators and crushers. To and fro, up and down. Like an ant in a mound…a human ant in a mound of steel and concrete, carrying the load of expectations; too heavy to carry, too dangerous to drop.

A day of being happy about it all being in the past. Summoning the ghosts and setting them free!

Day 2

A day of wandering off into a jungle, painted primarily in green, unlike its concrete coloured counterpart. Where humble trees of mango and litchi replaced megalomaniac dwellings and workplaces. A day of enjoying the unblemished reflections from the rain drops on tree leaves, losing sight of the distorted images coming from the shiny glass panels mounted on steel structures. A day of walking along the banks of a placid canal, forgetting the mad rush of reaching point B from point A. A day of stepping into shit, and happily realizing that this one could be washed away…

…A day of being far away from the world,yet being so close to nature…

…A day of eating without counting calories, without looking at the watch and without worrying about the wallet. A day that ends on a charpoy bed with a mosquito net, with the rain gods orchestrating a somnolent symphony, duly accompanied by the not so harmonious crickets and frogs.

Day 3

‘A rainy day’.

A day of getting up before the sun, ears still tuned into the rhythm of the downpour from the night before. Tracing the excited water droplets’ gravity defying motion, spurred by the rapid devouring of kilometers of asphalt every minute by a four wheeled beast. A day of closed ACs and open windows; feeling the splash of the drops on the face, not giving a fuck about the expensive leather upholstery…

…A day of playing football in the rain. Having your pride washed down the drain by a bunch of newbies, kicking your ass with their unorthodox play and carefree spirits. 10-1. A day of celebrating the little success that comes at the end of a series of blows of failure…


I read this quote once somewhere- “We do not remember days, we remember moments.” I guess I realized it’s true meaning in these three days…

Dedicated to the time I spent in Asmoli and Amberpur(Khatauli) over the last weekend.

Outlandish Beginnings

Hello readers! I hope the first month of 2013 lived up to its hype and by now all of your resolutions have deflated like those birthday balloons usually found under the bed the next morning. Life is back to being busy, bitchy and boring for many of us. I would be lying if I told you I didn’t get time to post something on the blog. It’s been almost 10 months since I moved to Ahmedabad and there’s so much I want to write about. But with the little time that I’m left with after all the classes, assignments, projects, competitions and stuff I try and catch some sleep.
Anyway, don’t lose hope in me. Not yet! Talking of competitions, I would like to share an entry for a competition I recently took part in. It was conducted by FMS Delhi and was titled ‘Media Maestros’. The final round required the teams to write two articles. The one I’ve shared below is the first of the two articles and was supposed to be a humorous newspaper style report/article connecting all the expressions/situations in the picture (I’ve shared that too, so you can get the context of the article) in less than 500 words. So here it goes…

The ImageCosmic Conspiracy!!
Aliens are staying with us in our world; Man of Steel exists for real

Mumbai| Jan 26, 2013, 00:00 AM IST

The proofs of existence of extra-terrestrial lives could not have been stranger. In a startling revelation that has sent ripples across the world, aliens are for real. One of the alien is none other than India’s current minister of communication and information technology, Kapil Sibal, while the other is a renowned name in music industry today- Adele! And things don’t stop getting weirder here. According to our sources, Superman exists in real life and is the son of Kapil Sibal!

One of our most trusted correspondents, ‘The Lone Cat’, reported that while looking for her lost friends on Facebook, she came across a profile titled ‘Son of Sardar’. According to her, the profile looked suspicious and when she probed further she realized it belonged to Superman. But what came as an absolute shocker was the fact that the profile had pictures of Superman with Kapil Sibbal and Adele, the British pop sensation. However, ‘The Lone Cat’ soon found out that in his personal information, Superman had mentioned his parent’s name to be Sib-El and Ade-El respectively, instead of Jor-El as we know it. From there on it wasn’t tough to relate ‘Sibbal’ and ‘Adele’ to Superman. It has also been confirmed that while Ade-El actually belongs to Kryptonite, Sib-El hails from a lesser known (shithole of a) planet in outer space, identified by scientists as ‘Moronite’.

When we tried to approach Sib-El for confirmation, he simply refuted the news saying it was a figment of the Lone Cat’s imagination. But the British singer was not so subtle in her replies. When our reporters confronted her with questions regarding her extra-terrestrial origins at the Brits awards function, she blasted out saying- “Yes I am an alien! And I am the mother of Superman! And all the people who make fat jokes, try giving birth to a ball of steel! I absolutely hate women who stay thin as a wafer even during their pregnancies. Here’s one for all of them!” And with that she flipped her middle finger to the audience. Speculations are rife that the middle finger gesture was a direct remark to Kate Middleton, the latest addition to British royal family who’s expecting. As can be seen from the photographs, Kate didn’t exactly take to Ade-El’s remarks nicely.

As with other matters concerning global community, the United States have come ahead as the flag bearer of world peace and Barack Obama yesterday addressed the nations of the world, telling them it was a ‘time of crisis’ and a ‘threat to the world peace’ as to how could someone like ‘The Lone Cat’ have so much power and access to resources and technology. “This is dangerous. So much power in such tiny paws cannot be tolerated. We need to wage a war against ‘Purrism’. “

In line with this, dogs across the world, fearing global feline domination have started pouring into the Vatican to seek blessing from the Pope whose new mantra is ‘Bitch Please’!

Meanwhile, Superman when contacted sent our respondent ‘for a toss’! When last contacted, the Indian Prime Minister was still thinking on what to say to our correspondent.

Team Outlandish

Our team, comprising of myself, Sukaran Thakur and Savyasachi Hebbar stood second overall! Cheers! :)

Open Letter from my Gmail account

Dear user,

I knew it was coming. The day you told me you were moving out to MICA, I had a shiver down my spine. Fear, it was. The fear of being neglected. And like all nightmares, this one came true too.

It has been almost 5 months now. And things have not been the same.

I never really felt bad when you said you had a new mail account in your life. I was contended being the second one. But you never really looked beyond your new found love. Even as you were busy settling into your new life with the new ‘micamail’, I waited patiently- trying my best to keep your account like you left it, with all mails neatly stacked into ‘important’, ‘starred’ and ‘everything else’ (just the way you liked it!)- hoping you would come back some day and read all of them. And we will have a good time. I also made it a point to spam all those unwanted mails that used to annoy the hell out of you. I did everything I could and then just hoped you would come back.

That day never came. You never really returned. Except the occasional visits which did not even qualify as glances. The count of unread mails just kept on increasing. And with it, the distance between us.

What happened to you? Why did you suddenly lose interest in all that interested you so much? I still can’t forget how you would check on me every 2 minutes. You were totally dependent on me for everything. And now, I just don’t exist for you anymore. Or maybe I do, only to serve as the dummy ID you would use to subscribe to the not-so-important websites and to create the not-so-important accounts, just to prevent your ‘darling’ from getting spammed. Bitch!

I always feared MBA and distance would take its toll on our relationship. But, I never expected this- a life of oblivion. Trust me, there is nothing worse than being an account without an active user. You just sit there waiting for him to login. Initially, you think it might be because he is busy with some really important work. Then you think he or she must be stuck in some god-forsaken place which has no internet connectivity. Then the realization slowly dawns upon you- there is another mail account in his life. One which is better than you, or so your user thinks. After that, its just a long wait towards getting deactivated someday.

I don’t want to be that would-be-deactivated mail account. I still have a lot to offer. I know you have reasons to stick to your new mail account, professional and maybe personal too. But, just remember all the good times we had. The weekly assortment of mails that I used to make from StumbleUpon, RedBubble, Car and Driver, and all your other favourite websites . The notifications from Facebook, WordPress, Twitter and LinkedIn that kept your virtual life up to date.

I came to know you’ve changed your primary email ID on Facebook and LinkedIn. And that you’re planning to shift your other accounts to your micamail account too. Well, I won’t stop you from doing anything. I just want you to remember that I was the first email account you ever had and no other account, including your micamail account, can take that fact away from me.

Please come back. I promise I would auto update myself every week.

Your Gmail account.

Do not be A Doormat

A Doormat is stepped upon. A lot. Daily. Endlessly. Until it’s life is over.

Do not let yourself get trampled upon. Do not be A Doormat.

People will walk around in all sorts of shit. And then they will come back to A Doormat and try to wipe all their shitty deeds off their feet. Right in its face.

Do not take shit from anyone. Do not be A Doormat.

Everyone wants A Doormat outside their homes. Just outside only.

Do not just lie at the threshold forever. Do not be A Doormat.

Few people would be interested to write about A Doormat’s service to humanity. Fewer will be interested to read it.

Do not let your achievements be ignored. Do not be A Doormat.

Have you ever seen anyone crying because they lost their Doormat? Have you ever heard someone saying something about their ‘favourite Doormat’? A Doormat’s loss is never felt. A Doormat is never missed. A Doormat is nobody’s favourite.

Do not be taken for granted. Do not be A Doormat.

10 Very Good (And Highly Speculative) Reasons Behind J.Jayalalithaa’s Publicity Gimmick


Because frankly, with all the self conceited astronomical splurging of the taxpayer’s money by our very own behen Maya ‘Douchebag’ Vati up north, and with Mamata BANnerjee’s refusal to co-operate with anything living, dead  dying or in a vegetative state (aka the ‘Manmohan Singh syndrome’) due east, the women politics’ scene badly needed another angle. With Jayalalitha back in the scene, the situation has surely got the much needed edge. I’m pretty sure there is an edge. Just might have to dig through kilometer deep layers of fat to get to it though.


Because unlike others, Jayalalithaa’s government is the most efficient, most corruption free, most achieving and most important of all, most concerned with people’s interest. Or so Miss J. wants us to believe through her full frontal scenes. *Pun strongly intended*


Because no available technology/software could fit J.Jayalalithaa into a smaller space.


Because in the long, incessant war between the North and the South over who is the more ASSorted part of India, this is a battle won for the Dravidians. What better a smack than wiping out pages of a leading northern daily with your southie government’s anniversary celebrations. Hurray! Go Amma!


Because it is TOI- The Trash of India. The advertisements somehow always make more sense than the news in that newspaper.


Because Mr. A Raja finally needed to be told to stop hogging the limelight like a week old hungry pig suddenly released in the cellar of a 5-star hotel. Somebody needed to stand up and tell him that he cannot just expect to make it to the front page every-fucking-time. DAAAYYYM bro, that ain’t happening no more ! AIADMK 1. DMK-0.


Because NEVER is the number of times that the Indian print media would get enough of revenue from advertisements.  Newspapers are the only example of human-controlled black holes, devouring any ad space-buyer that chances upon their way. I’m sure the day is not far when the hawkers delivering the newspapers would also be tattooed with advertisements.


Because when Silk Smitha got to walk away with all the tinsel town attention, Miss. J must have felt ignored like hell. And that’s how the Big Mommy replies!


Because this is India. The national goal of 21st century India is to be remembered in the future as the diarrhoeal asshole of the world. Both literally and figuratively. How else could you explain our population rate and shit-piling of the finest order like this one?


Because when you are Jayalalitha, size is the only thing that matters.