Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Circle of life ;)

Last weekend saw me enjoying myself at my first live standup comedy show. It was an Evam production and my (so called) friends lured me into it saying this famous blogger was going to be there. Now Local Tea Party is the name that this celebrity blogger goes by- he even tweets under the same name. And there have been many vain attempts at trying to figure his identity out, and hey, he writes pretty funny stuff, so I, erm, just went to check him out- and of course, have a few laughs at the show. Not in that order, but yeah.

So we crash at the Museum Theatre, and my friends point all the print celebs to me (‘Shush its bad to point, guys!!- Oh THAT’S him?!’) and then capitalizing on my early departure (movie date with mom) have gone to LTP and gushed about their friend ‘who has a HUGE crush on you, who came all the way JUST to meet you’ and blah blah’. *Serene, Buddha-Like face* Well, the focal point of this blog not being ‘Mean friends and ways to avenge them’, we will move on to what followed.

So apparently, LTP (No. I am not going to give his real name, muhahah), when introduced to my friend Ganesh, had immediately extended one arm, not for a handshake, but for an embrace. And that worked Ganesh up so much, that he vented it all out by writing a blog about the way he was almost harassed, and about how he saved his honour by jumping backwards and bringing the roof down. Ok, I love exaggerating things. For the correct version, please click here.

Something similar happened to my colleague at work. He was not as lucky as Ganesh, because the assailant was a very senior manager and my colleague was reduced to whispering about the incident to other boys in the loo; and that was how he got it out of his system. Here’s what happened. Me and X are gossiping about Y, entry of the manager M. ‘So, X, heh heh, what’s up guys? Arre, that document- is it done? Ok, bhej do, ok?’ *SMACK* on his butt. 


Poor X- slunk away in shock.

So see, my dear men- THIS, I would call- mild harassment. Or, say, you are peeing and somebody you don’t know tries to peek into your stall. But what ever said and done, the hue and cry you raise over something as trivial as any of these amazes me. Now, say if each of us women were to do something similar, the sky would fall.

There is one man who I have noticed, who loves to push himself into crowds in the subway. And when there is a woman within a finger’s distance of him, his fingers- on his sides, levitate against gravity- to skim her thighs or her hip. This happened to me once, and ever since I have been keeping an eye out for him- once I followed him from one end of the subway to another- simply to see him unconsciously –finger?- seven women along the way. Pray- WHAT high would this give anybody?!

There are some other men who cannot hold a woman’s eyes while talking to her. Every once in a while, their eyes would steal a few seconds to do a trip downwards, and then rise again. And when you get this treatment from senior managers, you can do nothing but ignore it, and roll your eyes instead.

Men pushing their elbows into us, men saying lewd stuff when we are within earshot, men commenting about the clothes we wear, the kind of people we hang out with, the way we laugh, the way we walk, who dropped us to work- our relationship status- frankly- I think such men are simply too shallow to have anything intelligent to converse about.

So in the end, nobody really likes unwarranted touching, unnecessary gawking and pointless comments. We women have been living with it and laughing it off for the past many, many years- that all these do not get a second thought. But once in a while, however rarely, when a man is in the receiving end of such treatment- words fail me :P Ah, the circle of life! :D

Friday, October 12, 2012

Of Lives and Purposes

The first time I noticed him was when he was showing his moves off in the basketball court. I never did get to see him much afterward, but a couple of days later he and a bunch of other trainees were assigned to my boss. My boss being busier than usual around then, delegated me to be the mentor for this bunch of very enthusiastic, very difficult to keep busy, fresh out of college folks.

Anyway, I used to run into him on and off, and sometimes used to see him walking around work areas in basketball clothes, sometimes hurrying to change, seconds before being called to attend some ad-hoc meeting, the occasional hellos, and the like. Most of the time, however, he would look so very lost or so disconnected, you would wonder if he really knew what he was doing here. Definitely, one who stood out against the very, very common IT crowd.

So the other day he came along to ask for some professional-career advice. And offhandedly he said six words that got me thinking a lot for the next couple of days.

You see, he said, I got into the Indian Army.

What followed was one of the most stirring conversations that I have had with another human being, about identifying his passion, working towards it for twelve whole years and realizing it. He spoke about his crazy medicals, he spoke about the SSB experience, he spoke about being punished for reporting late- at 8 am- wondering how on earth is it possible for any rational person to do so, after being kept awake till 6 am that morning! He spoke about the punishments that left him with welts on his arms and legs, about running 7 kilometers non-stop, about unimaginable tasks set out by the selection board- but despite all that, he spoke with pride about having bested it all. He had written a few words about it, which I wanted to share- they gave me goosebumps!

“This dream which took 12 years is realized now. I have cleared world’s toughest medicals. Met 18 of my to be brothers in arms and after meeting all of them I can assure you that you will be well protected- and you will be protected by some of  the best, most loyal,  most patriotic, lean mean and clean youngsters of India who have hearts of gold nerves of steel and fists of iron. Next stop would be The OTA (Officers Training Academy) Chennai or the IMA (Indian Military Academy)-  the world’s toughest military academy in terms of rigors of training, Dehradun, where a boy graduates into a man of honour. There may be 10+ IITs. There are 10+ IIMs. BUT. THERE IS ONLY 1 IMA.

As the saying goes “You can’t buy this uniform. You can’t buy the respect that it commands. You have to earn it. Think about it. It’s a decision that will change you forever and that’s a soldier’s word.”

This May, I visited a friend in Delhi. She is with the Indian Airforce’s ground service, and her husband is a Major with the Indian Army. When you speak the couple, their patriotic fervor grips you, and sometimes puts you to shame. He has served along the border, and across other nations as well. He trains forces now, and is sometimes called- to fight. She weeps a little when he leaves, for she is a girl too, beneath all her Airforce demeanor, and waits for his return. Over dinner one evening we got talking serious stuff. He was showing me battle field pictures, a lot of death- I should add, and describing survival tactics inside mangrove forests. along the deserts and in the extremities of the Indo China border. All this, so that we can sleep easy in our beds every night. And most of us don’t even know the National Anthem properly.

It is very easy to sit on the walkway and say, ‘Ah, the army, it’s full of corrupt people’ or ‘Oh come on, army folks? All they do is party all the while!’ I am not saying we all ought to go and enlist- we might not even get past ½ a round of the selections. All I am saying is, we all ought to figure out something purposeful to do with our lives..Something that would get people to remember us by..Something that you can look back on after you are 60 years old, and feel good about. And definitely NOT- oh, where did all the years go?!

Anyway, so I was asking the trainee if he was okay to break the bond and leave the company to join the Army. Most people usually simply abscond. It is a very costly affair. Pat came the reply. ‘I am an Army man. I will pay and leave!’