Monthly Archives: December 2008

Because I'm Not That Scary (Those Aren't Horns!)

Some pictures of shy, demure, wallflower moi surfaced online. Nope, not paparazzi style ones, just a couple of shots from a tweet-party I went to recently. Result: I got called ‘cute’ by a Twerson (khee khee, tell me I’m funny!). Nobody calls me cute. I’m stopped in my tracks (briefly) and then decide to share my astonishment with the (cute) child with me in the pic,

Me: I got someone calling me ‘cute’ based on that pic at the party!

Asfaq: And you wanna kill ’em? And that’s a compliment, right?

Me: I just said thank you and smiled sweetly.

Asfaq: How sweet. Do they know you are the fanatic feminist types? And you will go back and blog abt it?

Me: Muhahahahahaa…

Asfaq: U R GOING TO BLOG ABT IT, ARE’NT U!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

A little later, a conversation with Rada (yes, yes, I do have some men friends and guess what, they don’t all hope I’ll wake up speech-impaired!!).

Rada: All Best Wishes for a Safe, Happy and Fulfilling 2009. Let 2009 be for you the year of the “knight in shining armour”!

Me: I think I’ll be happy with a common man in a clean outfit so long as he has some understanding of the terms ‘loyalty’ and ‘committment’! Thank you very much!

Rada: You have just defined the modern “knight in shining armour”!

Me: I have to blog this conversation, for posterity.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

And finally, in reply to my tweet asking if I should turn into a nice, sweet girl-next-door, says Cynic,

Sweet girl next door? er…personality transplant needed errr..

Gah!! I did try! Hebby noo yurrr, women and other creatures!! Be back on the other side of this day for more pow-wow!

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Why Men Don't Get Tattooed

Message from Friend-Man,

I got a tattoo!

I call back and yelp,

Tattoo!! Seriously?

After much detailed description (and a few conversational blind alleys regarding location and image and colour), he admits that it’s a temporary one, ending with,

I’d never get a permanant tattoo!

To which I retort,

Yeah. It needs committment. And the willingness to bear pain. Not a man’s strong qualities. It takes a woman to get one!

He pooh-poohs the idea and khee-khees off the call. But I am tempted to call back and tell him that every single tattooed person I know (self included) is female. Yes!

Q.E.D.

Fantasy

Any man, at any time can be Prince Charming.
And Prince Charming can turn into an ogre any time.
(Why the hell are men so moody?)

Of course, if you’re a Shrek fan, hold the converse to be true.

Adventures Of A Masochist

A free quarter-hour. Looking for a photograph. Browsing.

A chance encounter. Oh. Breath stuck in throat. Hand moves mouse in hypnotic state to click.
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH……………………………….

Almost as in a frenzy, the photographs go racing one after the other. Click-Click-Click. You can peek over the cliff-face of your life to look down into your past but once you fall….gravity has the same rules inside your mind. Who needs horror movies when the dark dungeons of your mind house unmentionable horror?

End of album. Abrupt start. What next? Feels like my sweater caught in a branch jutting off the cliff-face. Deciding and telling myself not, not, NOT to look down again.

I shut the album. And the computer. And my mind down. In some cases you’re saved just before you crash and you can decide to climb back to safety. Goodbye abyss. Until I feel the urge for a killing thrill again.

Chick Lit

My new literary obsession is Chick Lit. Helen Fielding, Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes keep me in chocolate-box mood while Meera Syal and Advaita Kala add the desi tadka. Why, even fellow-blogger/’I-know-this-girl-friend-acquaintance’ Compulsive Confessor flashes her characteristic grin at me from my bedside bookstack.

I found this rather interesting piece on the internet, describing Chick Lit:

“Chick lit” is a term used to denote genre fiction written for and marketed to young women, especially single, working women in their twenties and thirties.

Now, I know I’m doing an about-face, especially after such rabid commmentary. I’m coming to this acceptance with much prior reluctance. I still have trouble accepting the term ‘chick’ to describe me or any woman I know. It’s degrading. However, I’m willing to lay down my shackles and admit that I’ve been reading (and enjoying) the genre called Chick Lit.

Chick Lit is the new Romance Novel. And it isn’t. As a genre it certainly is finding as much favour and spawning as many writers (and books) as the ubiquitous M&Bs. On the other hand, one may argue that romantic fiction was a genre built on common women’s fantasies while Chick Lit inter-twines what we consider our ideal life along with the proverbial gang-cribbing that each of us indulges in with our galpals over men, weight loss problems, career concerns and PMS.

Chick Lit, as most of the definitions state, is usually about twenty-something women, career-minded or not, married or not, successful or not. One thing they all are, is discontent with their lot. The careerwoman struggles with loneliness and jerky boyfriends, the beauty queen is slapped around and paraded as a sex toy/trophy partner and the housewife is wistful about missed opportunities. The Chick Lit heroine is Superwoman who survives on a steady dose of galpal advice, gay friends, alcohol-and-career swings and roller-coaster relationships. Friends are family, chocolate is the manna for all evils and the root of all evils can be summed up into one word – MEN.

Bosses, colleagues, friends, lovers, ex-boyfriends, flings, husbands of friends, partner’s buddies, friends’ partners, gardeners, milkmen, grumpy old men, uncles, teachers, fathers, cheery grocers, lecherous neighbors….men in every possible shape, size and relationship are examined back and forth. It is the Chick Lit’ter’s favorite hobby – Men.

If the Indian versions are different, it is only in that they’re usually set in Mumbai/Delhi instead of London/New York. The protagonists gorge on chicken tikkas and grab their capuccinos from Barista instead of M&S or Starbucks. Their mothers want to see them ‘well-settled’ instead of ‘settled down’. The men are just as committment-phobic, the careers just as unsatisfying, their bosses are just as demanding, their married neighbors consider them just as flighty and sluttish and their credit card bills are equally long.

Why do I like the genre so much? Simple. Because it is about me. That’s my life, my friends, my mistakes and my victories that are getting written about. Every page brings a, “Don’t I know it!”, an “Aha! You got ‘im there, girl!” and a “Bullshit, I heard the same thing from my second boyfriend when he was cheating on me.” It’s almost like having a new set of friends with every book.

You might even say it’s the modern, literary woman’s Soap Opera in a book format. If the women of yore wanted fantasy to keep them entertained, at least this I can say for my generation – we’re thriving on reality…or some warped version of it. Who needs a perfect fairytale when our own messed-up, vodka-spiked, overstressed lives are so much more interesting?

Chick Lit is empowering in a very strange way. It tells me that other women are having a hell of it too. That having a zero social life at twenty, in favour of slogging away at work was not a mistake. That getting married at twenty-three would not have spelt ‘happily ever after’ either. That my smug married, whiz-in-the-kitchen housewife friend acts superior to me but also thinks I’m living the glamourous, carefree life she only reads about in magazines.

It tells me that it’s okay to not feel diva-like at all times, to nurse worries over weight gain and cellulite. That it’s even okay to worry more about these than a missed deadline. That bad temper, unreasonableness and pukey-head-feeling are permissible once a month.

Chick Lit tells me life isn’t perfect (yes, I know someone said that long ago but catch me listening?). I mean look at the titles – The Undomestic Goddess, Life isn’t all Hahaheehee, Shopaholic, Almost Single. It also tells me that each of us is figuring out a new way of perfect. And who knows? Maybe Perfect will be the way I do it – My perfect!

Not One Of The Family

Friend and openly gay writer, Parmesh Shahani in his book Gay Bombay says that being gay isn’t just a sexual preference, it’s a lifestyle.

My sexuality was something that I had compartmentalized as something that was surreptitious and all about the sexual act, not about an identity.

Yes, perhaps. I guess I can’t claim to understand fully since my choices go by what society sees as the norm and anything else is forced to be defined starkly, clearly as separate.

I was recently at a party and ended up sitting next two friends who both happened to be gay, one guy and one girl. I’ve known each of them independently for years now. Till a few months ago, I didn’t even know that they knew each other and from what I can tell, they’ve only recently become friends. That they get along so well suits me just fine since they’re both such lovely people and besides I understand for each of them, considering the staggering enormity of the cause they each champion, it is good to meet a kindred soul. Add to that the fact that they’re both such rollicking fun that getting together with both of them is usually a blast.

I turned away from the conversation on my other side to get back to them and found I had moved into a private guy/girl-watching session. He was checking out the geeky looking dude on my left while she had her eyes on a fiery femme fatale at the other end of the room. Chuckling and commenting on each other’s choices. I was about to join in with an elbow-nudge and a side-joke when he said,

How about an introduction? You know him?

I hesitated for a minute, because I really didn’t but also because I wondered if bespectacled eye-candy in question was gay as well. I shook my head and told my friend that I didn’t think so. Both of them exchanged meaningful glances and almost in unison said,

She wouldn’t know. She’s not one of the family.

Kiss In (31) - 14Feb10, Paris (France)

Kiss In (31) – 14Feb10, Paris (France) (Photo credit: philippe leroyer)

I’m not sure exactly what happened in that one remark but I suddenly felt cut out of the discussion. I’ve examined it over and over in my head. Is that really true? As a straight person, do I also not feel attraction, ponder on it, act on it? Do I not run through similar thoughts of whether the object of my affection reciprocates? And does it really matter that I’m crushing on the opposite sex while my friends are ODing on the same sex?

What’s with the family bit anyway? That part really annoyed me. I’ve never judged either of them or been anything other than respectful of their choices, their opinions and feelings. Each of them is a real, live person to me, not a body bearing a tag that says ‘Gay’. Then why do they hang the tag of ‘Straight’ on me and behave like it makes me less kin to them than to each other? I felt excluded. And I felt betrayed, that’s what.

I must ask whether the gay community hopes to ever get the respect due to it, considering what a tremendous backlash they are and will continue to face in years to come? And whether in the process of defining themselves clearly, they aren’t drawing boundaries between straight people and gay people in a ‘them’ versus ‘us’ scenario. If the gay community wants to enjoy the same rights as others, on the premise that they are no different from anyone else, I think they should start thinking of themselves as the same as everyone else. And family is people who love and accept you, not necessarily people who like the same things you do. But that’s just me.

The Straight Voice of Gaysi

Another new blogging project. My brief – to be the straight voice of a gay desi blog. I’m excited.

I wonder who the readers will be. Will they be gays and lesbians and if so, will they have any interest in what a straight person thinks of homosexuality? Will they be people like me, straight and opinionated, in which case I’ll essentially be preaching to the converted? Will they be homophobics? And with the last question I recoil immediately. I’ve met with so many of those, especially recently, that I think I’m homophobic-phobic! As homosexuality comes out of its closet in India, so do the homophobics and to me they are no less despicable than fundamentalists opposing something they are afraid of rather than in disagreement with.

Anyway, I tell myself not to agonize (as I’m wont to do always) too much about who’s reading. So I switch to agonizing over what my co-bloggers here think. What does a gay person feel about a straight person? Do they ever find my views presumptuous, considering I am not really in the same experiences as they are? Do they ever resent the fact that my lifestyle choices are more mainstream and enjoy unquestioned acceptance while they have to fight for what (we all believe) is rightfully their choice?

And finally, I must admit I wonder what everyone thinks of me. A friend has taken to calling me a lesbian-magnet since I made the huge mistake of telling him about a time a woman hit on me. I started off thinking I was standing up for my friends’ choices but I find I end up having to defend my own as well. I particularly like what Raghu Ram (producer, audition judge of MTV Roadies, yeah the bald guy) says in HT Cafe today,

We are not strictly pro-homosexuality or pro live-in relationships. We’re pro-choice. And pro-tolerance. I can’t help but notice that intolerance comes from ignorance, and the saddest part is we don’t even try to find out about a subject before forming an opinion or passing a judgment, because it outrages our sense of morality.

I recently spoke to another blogger about Gaysi and he smiled and asked,

Great but why the clarification on the ‘straight’ part?

Awww hell, why does sexuality have to be such a loaded issue carrying so many fears and insecurities? Bleh, at least I’m not going to run short of things to talk about (yup, you guessed it, that was worry no.2 which mercifully gets struck out now). Come join me while I take a walk down this alley.

Motherhood

I’ll be a mother some day, I said

He said, You’ll need a man for that.

I replied,

I didn’t say I wanted to be pregnant.
I said I wanted to be a mother.
You don’t need anybody but a child for that.

Waylcum, Welcome!

Greetings, aloha and welcome to the new XX Factor!

To those of you who’ve followed my ranting, male-bashing, pseudo-feminist rants for awhile, I only apologize for neglecting this blog for sometime. This move has been long in coming.

As you can tell, I haven’t quite got it in shape yet. Some hostess, huh? Bleh, I never claimed I’d be a good home-maker. So The XX Factor, just like my offline home will be its messy, unvarnished-and-chipped-nails self. If you’re a friend, you know where everything is. And if you don’t, well don’t just stand there – get up and do something about it!!!! 😀

I’ll be tinkering around with the template. The first question someone asked me was,

Why pink?

Doesn’t quite go with the ball-breaker image, does it? Ah, times change, kids grow up and I, true to my womanly self change my moods and my mind (about a zillion times a day!). Well, I’m going to end this rant here.

To the people who got here via my email, I’m sorry for the gargantuan blunder of a wrong URL (shuffling feet and trying to look elsewhere). I’m just being harum-scarum but hell, I’ve put together this blog all on my own, without any techno-assistance!!!

Okay, the Superbiatch/Cat/Vixen will be back soon. Toodles..

A New Home

We now have a new home!!! Come check out the new XX Factor!

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