Sunday, February 28, 2010


My computer went on a self-imposed exile.

Two weeks ago, it sighed, coughed, sputtered and then became completely inert.

I can not really blame it. My chats on gtalk and my comments on Facebook have been on the rise lately. The chats, specially the ones I have with her, lean on the scorching side. Plus, all that unrestrained use of the web to search for school projects, recipes, craft ideas, blog ideas, music download... the poor thing could not handle the pressure and simply burnt itself down.

So, I experienced what my daughter's friends call a total ' Techno-Disco' for a fortnight.  For the uninitiated, that is Technology Disconnect. A space where there are no World Wide Web, Facebook or gmail. Can't say I enjoyed my hibernation, but it had its moments. Like when I started watching the saas-bahu serials out of sheer desperation. My journey into the Indian television world almost made me want to hit the escape and the F1 keys. But that's another blog post.

We women, tend to use our social networking sites as family chat sessions. We build relationships here, we nurture them here and we make our voices heard over here. Here, we offer advice, seek help and generally have a good time, with plenty of laughter thrown in. Men on the other hand, do not seem to be so emotionally connected here. They use the internet perhaps as a transactional tool. They book tickets online, pay for their bills online, and do their banking online. No relationship building over the net for them. Even the games they play here are the solitary kind. They tend to be objective and analytical in the cyberspace. We, I guess, tend to be more creative and emotional.

 I read somewhere that there were more women users of Facebook and other networking sites than men. I can not speak for other men, but I know my husband looks at these sites with utter disdain. He thinks moments spent on Facebook is a total waste of time. He would rather pick up the phone and call someone up if he wanted to connect. I on the other hand, thrive on the comments that my status updates get on Facebook. I love the witty one liners, the cheesy replies and the juicy gossip. I absolutely adore my 10 minutes- a-day Facebook interactions. It is a huge stress buster for me. The same goes for blogging. More than my love for writing, it is my love for social interaction that draws me to it. My readers are more like friends who come over for a chat. And that is why, when I can not blog, I tend to miss it so intensely. More than the technology, it is the emotional disconnect with my friends that gets to me.

Apparently the female brain has 11% more cells in the area of the brain called Planum Temporale. That is the area that perceives and processes language and music. Women tend to be better communicators and that is why the networking sites are popular amongst them. So all you men who accuse us women of talking too much, it is simply because we know more words than you do.

No wonder the poor chap burnt down. Women outnumber men pretty substantially in my family.

But this techno-disco thing was not all bad. Once I got over the initial despair, I quite enjoyed chatting and catching up with some of my long lost friends over the phone. Facebook and gmail may be great, but nothing like letting your voice do the talking. Try it sometimes, I bet you will not be disappointed. Your voice will be a little rusty from lack of use but soon you will get it back.

And that, after all, has been our intention all along, right?  To make our voices heard?

I wish all of you a very colourful Holi. The header picture was taken by my daughter, Ishita.

Friday, February 12, 2010

My Name Is Aparna And I am An Indian

There were some Pakistani Television serials in the '80s that I loved. Dhoop Kinare. Ankahee. Tanhaiyan. I loved the leading actors and actresses. Now, every time I see the regressive, third rated TV serials made here, I yearn for a good quality Dhoop Kinare kind of a series. There are Pakistani poets like Faiz I admire. I admire his composition, his ethos. His ability to create an impact with very simple language was brilliant. I love Ghulam Ali's ghazals. I also love listening to Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. I guess that makes me a traitor.

I am hurt that a tolerant Indian society is becoming  rigid day by day. Our country is diverse. There are many faiths, many languages, many communities. There are different food habits and different clothes. We still exist as one. My ideology may be different from yours but we have no right to verbally or physically abuse each other. We certainly do not have the right to damage public property just because our points of view vary.

I am disappointed that I will not be able to see a movie just because the leading actor according to some is not Indian enough. Just because he said he wanted to have some Pakistanis play in his IPL team. I am disappointed that 2 different political ideologies do not co-exist peacefully here.I am disappointed that people have decided to keep quiet on this issue. There have not been people lining up to buy tickets for the movie just to protest against the lawlessness. The people who terrorized Mumbai were not cricketers or singers or actors. So why brand every one alike?

I hope every one realizes that all Indians have a lot of love in them. That India stands for harmony and not hatred. That Indians may love all things foreign but still deeply remain patriotic. That one can appreciate a Pakisitani cricketer but still love Indian cricket. That one can not take our patriotism away just because we say something we believe in.

My heartfelt Valentine's Day wishes to all of you, though I know it is not an Indian custom. But all our numerous gods and saints preached love, didn't they? So have a beautiful time with your loved ones this weekend. And those of you who do manage to see My Name Is Khan, let me know how it was.

I guess till better sense prevails in Mumbai, I will have to do with your reviews.

I know the title of my post is a bit corny, but could not help it.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Cringe Factor

I am old fashioned. Horribly so.

I can not see a movie that has some steamy scenes with my 14 year old daughter. The other day, I saw a   movie highly recommended by a close friend. “Can we see this with Ishita?" I specifically remember asking. “Oh yes" was the reply.

 Within a few moments of the movie starting, the hero and the heroine were unabashedly romancing each other. I spent half the movie looking at the floor and the other half surreptitiously looking at my daughter. She was of course all wide eyed eagerness. I on the other hand was cringing and squirming on the seat. Apart from having the heroine in various states of undress, the movie also had some extremely violent scenes. I definitely did not think the movie was appropriate for a 14 year old. Angry, I questioned my friend's judgement. “What? You found it inappropriate? Have you seen the clothes girls wear on MTV? And have you seen how violent the cartoons are these days? Trust me; she did not see anything that she hasn't seen before."

May be, but I am the kind of a mother who left her 14 year old behind to see Love Aaj Kal. Hilarious but true What was the harm in watching a hero and heroine having a few flings before and after marriage? Living together is no big deal in today’s world. So why not watch it on screen? But while watching the movie, there were several moments I felt glad our daughter had not accompanied us.

Innocence is slowly being lost in our world these days as more and more children are growing up on American TV shows. And the internet is certainly not helping. In Mumbai at least, I see my daughter's classmates aping the film heroines and wearing tank tops and mini skirts. I hear the boys her age using words I did not even know existed in the English language. I know some of her friends write on Facebook that they are in a 'relationship'. I see that and I feel awkward. I do not know whether having an old fashioned mother helps or harms my child. But I grew up in a different world and it is tough to let your values go, even for the sake of your own children.

Few months back my daughter Ayushi, who was not yet 8 at that time, came back from school all excited.  "Mamma, I learned a new word today."
“Wow! That's great! What was the word?"
"Gay. Supriya learned that from Dostana. It means a man loving and kissing another man."

I cringed.