Monthly Archives: December 2011

XXFactored Dec2011: Spanx, Girl Gamers, Period Jokes & Relationship Trends

December is the peak of my busybee season. So much has happened this year, as indeed, this last month.  I’m (pleasantly) surprised I managed to catch so much of good stuff online, as well.

In XX Factor news, longtime friend and well-wisher of my blogs, Meetu (also known as WOGMA) joined XX Factor as its newest guest-contributor, giving her own introduction with her first post ‘Mom-me‘.

  • Why Marriage Is A Declining Option For Modern Women‘ (via Guardian, link courtesy Gautam Ghosh)
  • Pick A Number‘: A hilarious point-scale of sexuality (via NewYorker)
  • A graph on how the sexes name colour – Do men and women really see colours that differently? Or are men just plain lazy? (via Venks)
  • The Top 10 Relationship Words That Aren’t Translatable Into English‘: Sex and the City gave us ‘La Douleur Exquise’ but who knew the deliciousness of ‘Retrouvailles’ or the sensuality of ‘Cafuné’? If you’re confounded, the article explains their meanings. (via BigThink, link courtesy Smriti Ravindra)
  • The Surprise Spanx Make-out‘: A fun read on the battle between getting help to look good & letting the world see that. (via Salon, link courtesy Lakshmi Jagad)
  • A dating site and my new project!: ‘Ten Things Men Should Never Do While Dating‘ (via LoveBeckons)
  • Biggest Relationship Trends of 2011‘: The accompanying images are more than half the fun! (via Glo)
  • She’s Got Game‘: I’m not the kind of girl gamer she talks about. But I’ve felt the same ‘You’re off your territory’ attitude in the comics section of bookstores. (via Michelle Oraa Ali, link courtesy Ashwini Mishra)
  • A way to get men to stop making those %^$ period jokes! (via RaggedTag)
  • A funny cartoon on haircuts, men and women (link courtesy BlogAdda)
* Images via Salvatore Vuono, Idea go and Paul Martin Eldridge on FreeDigitalPhotos

You can catch the links as they come in and even post your own to the XX Factor Facebook Page.


Does Tanishq GlamGold’s Advertising Understand Women?

Tanishq has a new campaign on air and I don’t think it works. It’s not that I don’t like their designs. Indeed, they were probably one of the first brands that brought contemporary designs to gold jewellery in India. But their recent advertisements leave me cringing.

Here’s one of them:

The storyline goes as follows: A book launch is in progress. At the party afterwards, the author hugs a dolled-up lady (presumably a friend). The friend is wearing a lot of gold jewellery and the crowd starts to flock around her. She looks up, sees the author looking left out. So she feigns a headache and leaves. In the car on the way home, her companion asks her why she lied. She says its better than ruining someone’s evening. This last line may also translate into, ‘It’s better than making someone burn with jealousy’.

I’m not going to comment on the cleverness of that, since presumably the ad industry usually tiptoes that fine line between smart and smart alecky. But I want to know what the woman in the ad was doing dressing up all that much for a book launch. Did she really realize only at the event, that she’d be the center of attention? And when she did, was it self-consciousness (embarassment?) or generosity that made her leave?

And another thing, jewellery is 100% accessorial. It exists for no other purpose but adornment, so people will look at you and admire how you look. What’s the point in jewellery that you can’t show off?

Now let’s look at another ad, which is currently on air now.

The storyline of this one goes as follows: It’s a wedding party on an open-air dance floor. Suddenly it starts raining and the guests run for cover. One of them, a bejewelled woman pats herself dry (showcasing an elaborate necklace in the process). In the mirror, she notices the bride looking wistfully at her ruined party. Immediately, she moves onto the dance floor in the rain and starts a sensuous writhe in the rain. She’s joined by the guests shortly after and finally, a smile from the bride.

This one actually sounds better in copy than it did on screen. I saw this with the boy and was trying to articulate exactly what was wrong with it. He summed it up succinctly so I reproduce his words:

“A woman doesn’t want another woman to be the center of attention.”

All I had to add to that was, “Especially on her wedding day.”

How come the advertising & brand teams over at Tanishq didn’t get that? Advertisements which make me think that they don’t understand me, the consumer, put me off a product that I may even have been interested in the first place. I’m also not buying into the idea that the team is evolving existing notions of vanity & beauty. The product they’re pushing is the most established symbol of that archaic structure of beauty. Even if you can change minds with a slick ad or two, these really aren’t doing it for me.

Note: Thank you @pankajsabnani for finding me the videos!

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —— — —— — —

*If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

Reverb11.2 – Home Is A Wonderland

Reverb 11.2: Whimsy

Recall a fairy tale-esque moment from 2011. An epic kiss? A triumphant victory? A Wonderland-esque adventure? How did this momentous or fanciful happening affect your outlook?

Years ago, a close friend told me about the early days of her relationship. She’d married to a man who’d lived in the US for years and moved overseas for the first time in her life. Before that, she’d lived with her parents, under her grandmother’s guardianship and later, shared a room with another girl.

She said the first year of her marriage was all conflict, fighting all the time. Being fiercely independent, she hated the fact that she had no life outside of him. Her only friends were his friends. All of that changed in their second year, when they moved houses. It turned out, that he had shifted to a bigger place just before getting married and furnished it as he thought a couple would like. But they were all his ideas and how well did he know her then, after all? Their second house was one that they found, furnished & decorated together. She said a lot of their problems settled after that. It sounded incredulous to me.

The boy moved within a couple of months of our dating, to a bigger house that was closer to where I was. It was already furnished and his sparse bachelor possessions (gaming console, microwave & single bed) fit in somehow. I didn’t like the house. The wall-sized poster of a garden, right out of a bad 80s Bollywood movie was just the start. Then there was the clunky furniture chosen by the elderly couple that owned the flat, which they didn’t have space for anymore but couldn’t bear to get rid of, either. There was the construction site right next door, which made it impossible to open the curtains. There was the musty smell hanging about the entire house, the cheesy stuffed toys displayed everywhere and the garish chandelier right in the center of the hall.

I didn’t think that much of it back then, since I thought it wasn’t my house. But we did spend a lot of time in that house. I’d be over on most weekends, holidays and even some weekdays. I soon had a key of my own. I’ve spent time there alone a few times, when I was in the area and had to wait for my next appointment. It was an odd place that I spent a lot of time in, but had nothing of me and never felt like home to me.

Earlier this year, following all the problems of the house, including skyrocketing rents, water supply issues, horrible neighbors, tyrannical landlords and infrastructural problems, we moved. I say we, because it is a shared space. It took us a year to realize it but home is a space you share with the people who spend a lot of time in it.

Our new place is in a different area, a far less posh & upmarket one. It is smaller. But you know something? I love it. Few places have felt like home, like this one does. I remember the exact moment when I pulled out a set of colourful prayer flags, a memento from a friend’s visit to Ladakh. These used to hang outside my bedroom window and cheer me up with their sight, the first thing after I opened my eyes. They are now strung across the large window in the hall. The belief is that when they wave in the breeze, all the good wishes and prayers printed on them, come true. They’ve certainly brought more than just colour into this new house. They’ve brought joy, peace and a sense of peace that the earlier houses didn’t have.

Other little touches have been added. A Wolverine poster on the door, that was a gift from his friend. A seed in a pot, that I grew into a happy, green leafy plant. A stack of books on the window sill, his and mine. My movie DVDs mixed in with his XBox collection. The beanbag that used to sit in my room, next to his computer table, that now holds the TV.

This is our Wonderland, one that we made together.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —— —

*If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram


XX Factor welcomes a longtime friend (of mine and of this blog) as its newest guest-contributor. Many of my insights (on relationships and on relationships) have come my way, courtesy conversations with her wise, funny, fun self. If you’ve been following the Indian blogosphere (especially the Pune troupe), she’ll be no stranger to you. As it goes, I’ll let her introduce herself.


“You look like your mamma”

my daughter is told often. She invariably makes a face that leaves no doubt about how she hates being told that. And of course, she is asked, “Why? You want to look like papa?” or “You don’t like to look like mamma” or something of the sort. And her reply was as instantaneous the first time as it is now, after many years of repetition,

“I look like me.”

I try to hide my pride every time this seven-year old, tiny thing does this. Of course, I haven’t coached her (it’d take away all the charm from HER line, wouldn’t it?). It just feels good to see such confidence, clarity of thought and articulation at this age. My, my what a woman of the 21st century she’s going to be!

Having spent most of my life in the 20th century, I come with my share of insecurities and inhibitions. At times, I do catch myself trying to figure out who I am. Am I a movie reviewer or the ‘deadly’ CA-cum-MBA combination? Am I a 15-years-and-counting aspiring good bahu (daughter-in-law) or am I a liberal ‘live and let live’ friend to one and all? Am I a mother of two or am I me? Or the scariest possibility – all of the above?

*Image via Ambro on FreeDigitalPhotos

When IdeaSmith and I talked about me being a regular guest here, we discussed the identity I’d have, the voice I’d be. I’ll be talking a whole lot about being a mother of two and everything that goes with the territory. Yet an identity called “mum2two” or “mommy” didn’t feel right.

Not because I’m more than just a boring “mom”. Maybe, I’m not. Who knows? We’ll figure that out.

But because being a mother is more about not being motherly all the time. Because not being mommy-type makes me a better mother. And an irony it is, that I have to remind myself of this every day, day-after-day for it’s the easiest thing, to let go of everything else and focus your entire existence towards your children.

Of course, we’ll know if this theory works as the kids grow older. (Where is that self-assuredness when it is needed!?). But, let’s start here –

As narcissist as it may sound, we are going to start with I am me, I am meetu.

Reverb11.1: The Word Of The Year

Last year, I did a remarkable exercise called Reverb10. It consisted of following one word prompt every day and posting using it. Because of the breakneck schedule, it forced me to write without thinking, dig deep & scour my depths for answers to the questions. A year later, I still look back to those posts for insights and wisdom. I enjoyed writing them and I enjoy reading them.

This year, I got thrown off schedule since December began by sweeping me off my feet & schedule (ill-health, overtight schedules yada yada yada yada). But the Reverb11 format allows for flexibility and I think I can pick it up mid-month just as well as the start.

To make things different (and more challenging), this year I’m going to be Reverb11 ing on XX Factor instead of The Idea-smithy. What this means is that instead of the introspective tone, I’m going to take the more kickass, action-oriented voice that this blog signifies. Also, I’m going to answer the questions as they pertain to relationships, gender politics, feminism & dating, all of which are the purview of XX Factor. Wish me luck!

Of note, Reverb10 was started by Gwen Bell. This year, it has become a community initiative with several people contributing their own prompts. I’m following Everlasting Present‘s mailing list.

Here’s the first:

Reverb11.1: One Word

Encapsulate the year 2011 in one word. Explain why.
Imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2012 for you?

A lot happened this year. I finished my book. I got a lot of writing work and amassed a portfolio that makes me happy. But most importantly, I saw myself really change.

Being in a close relationship changes you. I’m not talking about the societal pressures laid on you and the enforced roles. I’m talking about the breaking down of age-old defenses, the wearing away of ancient ways of thinking and the meltdown of you as you’ve known you. Just having to converse with another person, involves change at some miniscule level. Multiply that thousandfold for the person that you’re in a close relationship with. Factor that ten times for a person who is opposite to you in every way. And throw in a liberal accelerator of equal individuality, obstinacy and forcefulness. There is no way on earth either of us could have remained unchanged.

I need to talk less than I used to. I think & worry less than I used to. I ponder things much more than I used to. I take more responsibility, look further, plan more than I used to. I also conform more than I would have liked to admit. I am less flexible than I wanted to believe. I’m a complete stranger to the person I was a year ago.

2011 has to have been Metamorphosis. With all its gore, its heat & dust, its pain and its breath-taking results.

I think we’ve spent a lot of time working hard on the fundamentals of our relationship and there is yet work to be done. If ‘we’ were a place instead of ac couple, then we’d have a slightly faded signboard, a paved road, some new huts in place and a field of sowed seed. We haven’t yet gotten to enjoying the fruits of our labour. There is much joy to be had, a lot of laughter to be shared, plenty of comfort to be enjoyed together.

2011 was anything but boring with all its dramatic swings and its unnerving changes. It was also very tiring. I’d really like to be able to relax and enjoy the rewards for all that we’ve gone through. I know we’ll never be one of those placid couples. Yet, there can be stability in chaos, peace at the very center of a storm. I’m seeking that serene place.

A musical metaphor feels apt at this juncture. After all the tuning and straining, I think it’s time for us to make music together in rhythm.

2012 will be Rhythm I hope.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —— —

*If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram

%d bloggers like this: