Friday, October 13, 2017

Madam, is your name Pallavi Roy?

The lady at the office reception asked with a very perplexed look on her face. I politely, out of habit, corrected her that its Pallav Roxy. If only I could grow a strand of hair for every time there had been a question or confusion regarding my name, hair product brands would be lining up to sign me as their model. #recedingHairLineWoes #lameAttemptAtHumor

Growing up in India, with a name like mine, was some interesting experience. Starting from coping up with several rumors related to my parents’ marriage (Apparently my mother was a Hindu married to a Christian, or this was my mother’s second marriage and I was her child from the first one.) to explaining my grade one teacher what my religion is! Imagine a 6 year old wondering what is religion even before learning how to spell the word. Each time I started a new grade, the story had to be repeated for the convenience of my new teacher. My childhood friends are as well versed in it as I am.

Things didn’t get any different when I was taking my engineering entrance tests, with the invigilator wasting a good 20 minutes of my time in explaining to me how I have written down my name all wrong. I had to shut down his repeated rant of – “Your first name is Roxy and your surname is Pallav.”, with a blunt reply which very well sounded like – “Screw you. I know what my name is.” in my head. Thanks to my high level of brilliance (Ahem, I like self-praise, get used to it.), the wasted 20 minutes didn’t hinder my chances and I successfully got a chance to attend my favorite stream at one of the prestigious universities of India. First day of orientation there, I go to the student body that handled mail id creation for the fellow students and this guy there, looks at his screen, grins ear to ear and announces it to me (so that others at the table also get to listen), that my id is proxy. Somehow, folks found it so amusing then. Hell, they still do. You see the id has stuck with me through all my work assignments so far. (I love it!)

With time, I also learnt that geographies could change but that will not stop the questions. In India the FAQ was – “Are you a Christian?” whereas once I moved to the western hemisphere it changed to – “Roxy? Hmm... Is it short for Roxanne or something?” Now, now, don’t get me wrong. This is not a rant of complaints but a mere recitation of the humor that my name brings in my life. The anecdotes accrued over the years make for a great conversation starter. My dad always giddies up with pride for picking up such a unique name. He was on cloud nine when he was once addressed as Mr. Roxy years ago, he still loves narrating that story. 

I can spend hours going through the tales, but here all it will do is fill pages. But just in case there is a slightest chance that you want to hear more, all you need to do is invite me for a coffee and we can laugh together over a hot cuppa.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

One Pink Parched Indian Woman

#NayiSoch #AisiDhaakadHai

Year 2016 in the Indian entertainment industry was about “Women Empowerment”, much credit to Mr. Gandhi for the popularity of the term. Most of these works have been creative and path breaking. But the question is to what extent have they impacted the people who are ignorant of their own ignorance?

Mr. Bachchan’s elocutions in Pink churned out several famous dialogues, which unfortunately eventually turned into much forwarded memes and lost the depth in their meaning. Sadly, the one with the most impactful meaning was misused the most – “Na sirf ek shabd nahi, apne aap mein ek poora vaakya hai. Ise kisi tarah ke spashtikaran, explanation ya vyakhya ki zaroorat nahi hoti. Na ka matlab sirf na hi hota hai!” (“NO is not a word but a sentence in itself. It doesn’t need any kind of clarification or explanation. A NO just simply means a NO.”). Did the disturbed percent of the so called greater sex realize the true gist of it or did it just end up in the list of famous one liners which will be used while praising Mr. Bachchan. (“Khush toh bahut hoge tum”, “Mere paas gaadi hai, bangla hai…”, “I can talk English, walk English, sleep English). And has the victim blaming stopped? Or do people still blame the girl who got molested for roaming around at 3AM?

Victim blaming was a common theme throughout Parched, a masterpiece which focused on the atrocities that the women still face at the hands of society. Harsh truth being that the years old repression and torture has acclimatized women in a way that they don’t mind doling out the same cruelty on other women. Most women end up mocking themselves to hide the pain, this is very much evident when Radhika Apte is trying to hide her pain with sarcasm aimed at self – “Duniya mein mere jaisi banjh nahi hoti toh bachchon ki haalaat poora desh hi bhar gaya hota!” (“Had there not been infertile women like me, then the whole country would have been filled with kids). When Tanishtha Mukherjee’s son retorts his mother, who prevents him from abusing his child bride, saying – “Aaj pata chala mera baapu ghar rahne ki bajaye randikhane kyun jata tha.” (“I now know why my dad used to go to a whorehouse rather than staying at home.”); you feel for the poor soul – you feel disgust, contempt and anger.

A son condemning his mother in a demeaning way is still not unheard of in the world and thanks to Star Plus who are trying to bring about a change with their campaign Nayi Soch (New Thinking). One of their innovative effort is where youth icons and popular cricketers – M. S. Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane are seen wearing their mothers’ names on their game jerseys. The question being, why can’t we be identified by our mother’s name, after all what we are is in large part because of our mommy darlings. One would hope that this would bring about a change and make others also draw their identity as much from their mothers as they do from their fathers.

The year ended with Dangal, with the story of a father Mahavir Singh Phogat preparing his daughters to wrestle against the boys who justifies it in plain and simple words – “Mhari choriyan choron se kam se ke?” (“Are my daughters any lesser than the boys?”). People had issues with him asking the girls to fight with the boys, alas nobody had issues with a father forcing his wish on the kids (however, that is another story for some other time). There is this one scene where the referee tells the boy “Chori se, samajh ke kheliyo.” (“She is a girl, be careful while you wrestle.”) and pat replies Zaira Wasim “Bas chori samajh ke na kheliyo.” (“Don’t wrestle thinking that I am just a girl.”). That bang on attitude totally sums it all up. Play the game the way you usually do, don’t try and make it easier just because the players are women.

Movies like Neerja, Nil Battey Sannata and probably others that I missed out on watching, also deserve a mention for various reasons right from celebrating long lost unsung heroes to the quest of a mother to not let her daughter’s life go to waste.

After witnessing all this awe-inspiring work, how I wish that 2017 wouldn’t have started with the incidents that happened in Bangalore or with movies like Lipstick Under My Burkha being refused certification by the Censor Board. Are we starting back from level zero? 

Sunday, January 08, 2017

The Quest for the TIGER


Husband and I started this year with a trip to Bandipur Tiger Reserve, another one added in our never ending quest to see the mighty Tiger in its natural habitat. Before this trip we had done around 8-9 safaris (together and individually), and with our cumulative bad luck so far we decided not to rely on it. Considering Mommy and Daddy in law were successful in past in spotting a tiger and Mom-Dad would bring their beginners luck with them, we decided to tag along with them. So on the 1st of January the six of us hopped into an Innova and took a fun filled road trip to Bandipur, of course with a pit stop to family favorite breakfast place – Kamath Lokaruchi.

Before I move on to other details, a special shout out to the folks at Jungle Lodges and Resorts. A great and an extremely hospitable place to stay during your wildlife quests. Helpful staff who are ever eager to make your stay comfortable. And what else, they had been supporting digital transactions long before our government started advocating it. There is a quaint little sign placed at the entrance – “No cash accepted. Only credit/debit card transactions allowed.”

So we started our evening safari with vigor, excited to spot the wildlife in the reserve, learn some new names and click some great shots. However, it seemed like even the jungle citizens were having a bad new year eve hangover. We hardly spotted anything. By the end of those uneventful 3 hours, we just reeked of dust and the jungle commoners – spotted deers and jungle fowls – felt like next door neighbors. You keep on seeing them everywhere you looked! The king of the jungle had ditched us once again. There wasn’t even an alarm call heard. To add to the dismay, a group of lucky wildlife enthusiasts had spotted two leopards during their evening safari. The disappointment however was washed down over a cup of warm tea and plateful of freshly fried pakoras and much family love. And a dinner and a night time stroll later, we were happily saying good night and looking forward to a new day, new safari.

 The eagerness woke us up even before the 5:30 AM wakeup call. And this time around there was loads to ogle at. A baby elephant, barking deer, peacocks, eagles, kingfishers, woodpeckers, storks, flycatchers, bee-eaters and plenty of other birds we couldn’t even catch the name of. BUT the captain of the jungle team had evaded us yet again. The rush we had felt when we heard a Sambar deer alarm call was let down by no sightings.

Why-o-why oh mighty King,
Like birds of the jungle, we sing.
Why-o-why we can’t see,
The fabulously striped thee.

Thus we ended our journey to the dreamland with a lovely spread of breakfast and the giddiness of knowing that nobody else spotted a tiger either . We started back for Bangalore. The absence of the predators was felt but not so deeply because of the awesome company. The 24-hour long outstation trip with parents is something you all should try. Its fun! TVF could probably think of a sequel to Tripling.