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At The Movies

Movies are a complicated business these days.

There is the hysteria of the Fridaygoer who will all but maim in a bid to get to the box office first and then spend most of the movie updating his Facebook status from his phone. Then there’s the desperate reek of a Saturdaygoer who didn’t get any party invitations, doesn’t want to spend over a grand at a pub entry fee and will spend it instead on overpriced, stale multiplex food watching what everyone else pretended to watch the previous day. And of course there’s delightful Sunday characterised by screaming kids and loud aunties yelling popcorn orders to their husbands in the aisles. Weekdays used to be saner but now thanks to the kuttewaala network, Tuesdays are a mad melee of excitable collegians! That leaves Mondays when it’s too early to legitimately enjoy anything in this workaholic city. Wednesday is the sole movie night for the sane-and-wanting-to-stay-that-way.

Of course even this elaborate (and much elaborated-upon) decision complicates manifold with the arrival of the significant other. It quite makes one wonder what one ever thought one had in common with the other and exactly what the stuff of those endless conversations must have been. Do men change post-relationship or do we both?

Take this week’s movie date. The weekend scan of the listings had us at a standoff at the box office. Perhaps that’s why, in sheer desperation (or lack of foresight…we’re waiting on that one), the boyfriend rashly offered a compromise,

I’ll watch Eclipse with you if you’ll come for Predators!

Much to his amazement, I nodded. He hasn’t yet learnt about how patient even this impatient one can be….it’s early days, after all. Not a minute wasted, he rushed off to get the tickets. A few minutes before we entered the hall, better sense appeared to have prevailed and he asked (in a super-hopeful voice),

“You were just kidding about wanting to watch Eclipse, right?”

I fixed him with a don’t-you-dare look. So he tried another tack. (*Sigh* I keep telling the boy to learn to die gracefully)

“If you like this movie, it doesn’t count, okay!?”

“Predator for Eclipse. We had a deal, dude!”

And suddenly, the man next to me shook his head violently and addressed the boyfriend.

“You DON’T even want to think about it! Such a waste of time!”

Before I could glare at the boyfriend, rap strange man on head for butting in or yell ‘foul!’, they two had launched into a comparative bashing of Aisha and Eclipse. When they finally broke it up, boyfriend grinned back at me triumphantly and said,

The masses have spoken, see!

My characteristic ‘as-if’ eyebrow shrug before I said,

Thank your stars I didn’t ask you to watch SATC2 with me. Now let’s get this over with.

I sat through the movie without comment. And when the lights came on, he had to admit that it really hadn’t been a very good movie, after all. 🙂

Weekend booking plans start now. I’m going to wrangle a double-or-nothing deal out of this one. SCORE a point for the lady! 😉

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*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

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Too Many Questions And Not Enough Trust

This occured to me the very first time I saw The Namesake‘ but laziness and other such things kept me from blogging about it right then. I’ve just finished reading Jhumpa Lahiri’s book. As an aside, it’s a lovely story, the book even better than the already excellent movie.

You know what was the most striking aspect of the story for me? The contrast between the relationships in the two generations.

Ashima (Tabu) and Ashoke (Irfan Khan) meet each other under the scrutiny of their parents eyes. She decides in a few minutes that he is the one for her, because she likes his shoes. Which prompts her to speak confidently in the following conversation,

How will you manage all by yourself in America?

Will he (darted glance at …) not be there with me?

The couple takes off to foreign shores, in those heydays before the the internet, email and affordable ISD. They start a life together based on complete trust in each other, something that is never spoken about but expressed in their everyday actions. 

Like any two human beings, they take time to adjust to each other. When Ashima shrinks Ashoke’s sweater in the dryer and he reprimands her for it, she doesn’t protest but goes away to weep by herself. He stops and soothes her by singing a silly song. There is a sweetness, a gentleness in both of them, encapsulated in that sequence, that touches the viewer.

Gogol (Kal Penn) and Moushumi (Zuleikha Robinson) on the other hand, are a modern day couple. They date in the privacy of a restaurant and their own apartments. They talk, intellectualise and laugh together. We are taken to their bedroom on the night of their wedding. Right after making love, he asks her how many lovers she has had before.

Their relationship is one that a lot of us could probably relate to. The common backgrounds, the yuppie couple lifestyle they lead, the friends-as-well-as-lovers implications. And yet, for all their conversations, their marriage has started off on trust being questioned and ends with it being betrayed.

Do we really know how to relate to each other anymore? Or have we just had so much of freedom (too much of a good thing) that it makes us sick with paranoia now?

I see the gentleness of Ashima and Ashoke’s love in a lot of couples of that generation and the one before them – our parents and grandparents. People who’ve probably never said ‘I love you’ to each other but are completely happy in each other’s company. And I’ve said ‘I love you’ to a lot of people but at the end of a decade of dating, I don’t know a single person I could stand for more than a few days.

I don’t remember any man ever having treated me with as much trust and gentleness as Ashoke treats Ashima. And I also have never trusted any man so unquestioningly.

Maybe we’re just a generation of too many questions and not enough trust.

namesake

 

* I read this book on my flight back from the South trip. And on the cover was written, ‘The greatest journeys are the ones that bring you home.’ I stay hopeful.

Everyone Wants To Get Into My Wallet!

Late one night as I was driving down the city, I looked up at a huge billboard of Sushmita Sen, an advertisement for Kiah jewellery, which said,

You are the occasion
You are the celebration

I told him,

I really love that ad!

He smiled and said,

You would. It celebrates you, after all.

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

Earlier in the month, I wrote about my first experience with luxuriant self-indulgence, the retail therapy way. I wear my diamonds with pride, a pride that comes not exactly from their aesthetic value but from the knowledge that I earned the power to buy them for myself.

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

A few years ago, I wrote about the Superwoman. I don’t know whether to be happy or not that it’s turning out to be prophetic. Take a minute to think about my words..

I am the center of a marketing model titled “High income single decision maker”
I am the brief given to fashion houses when they design the new Prada suit
I am described as ‘Joan of Arc meets Helen of Troy’

We are indeed, the hot new consumer demographic. Urban women, financially self-sufficient with all the trappings of our successful professional status – the need for new status symbols combined with the ability to pay for them.

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

Our parents’ generation saw the upsurge of women at work and all the initial beginnings like the glass ceiling, women bosses et al. Our generation in contrast is the one that gets to enjoy it (and be taken advantage of). We’re prominent for our purchasing power and marketers have been quick to pick up on the need for our own set of status symbols and paraphernalia. I speak as the target group of a woman who earns and has the independence to spend. I also speak as a marketing professional, seeing the other side of it, so to speak.

Successful men who earn well have been well tapped into as a market and are induced to spend on everything from their own selves (personal gadgets, cars), social settings (restaurants, pubs, sports activities) and all sorts of dating-related paraphernalia (presents for women, tokens of what makes them an ‘ideal partner’). What do their opposite numbers in our sex have?

We have shoes, clothes, bags, accessories, jewelery, make-up and personal grooming services. If the men-targeted products homed in on the traditional masculine need to be macho and an alpha male, we are being targeted for our vanity and need to be ‘the babe’.

Of course, the more complicated dynamics of women actually competing with each other in these stakes is well played out. What else do you think Bhala uski saadi meri saadi se safed kaisi is?

The more expensive products are obviously affordable only to a certain type of woman – she has a career, she’s ambitious and wants to be respected for her intelligence, she doesn’t want to stand in anyone’s shadow, she has a personality of her own. And hence diamonds, super-expensive shoes and clothes come with the messages that they respect your individuality, celebrate your independence and will take Visa as well as American Express.

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

I was invited to the premier showing of the big Hollywood release of Confessions of a Shopaholic. I saw the movie with a group of girlfriends and all of us identified with the heroine. We would, she’s based on us after all. While the movie is meant to be a really light-hearted comedy, it points to something deeper.
I got to wondering about the phenomenon of shopaholism. Is it a reality that we’re likely to be facing very soon? All manner of excess is driven towards filling a need that hasn’t been satisfied earlier. So women who binge are thought to be unconsciously compensating for a lack of affection in their lives. What unmet need are we trying to plug with this excessive buying?

Becky Bloomwood in the movie nails it on the head when she explains her addiction,

Because when I shop, it feels so pretty, so nice, so good! And then it doesn’t so I have to shop even more!

True to all successful marketing strategies, this one also gives us a taste of what we like and then leaves us begging for more. Shinier hair! Higher heels! Bigger (and smaller) bags! Cooler sunglasses! Brighter make-up! Lotions, creams, gels, powders, liquid liners, sticks, brushes, concealers, colorants, rinses, crayons, cakes, gloss, sequins, beads, rhinestones, denim, silk, linen, velvet….the list never ends.

So for all our gloss and gorgeousness, we are nothing more than the product of a very successful marketing program designed to relieve us our newly-minted paychecks. ‘Fabulous’ is the bait they use to lure us in and the looming bill at the end of the month is the hook.

It used to be about too many people wanting to get into my pants.
Now everyone wants to get into my wallet!!

A Woman’s Best Friend

The Date Doctor says,

A woman’s best friend has to sign off on all big relationship desicions.

– “Hitch”

Now is that true? Let us think.

Meet a nice guy. Tell P about it. And bitch about the asshole who never called her back.

He asked for our number. We think about it and give it to him. And update P on the situation. And issue strict instructions to not call a-hole back.

He’s calling!! Talktalktalktalktalktalk. Guess who’s the first to hear about it? But of course, whose jacket are we going to wear after all? Oh but forget it, we’d rather eat chocolate ice-cream and watch soppy movies with P on the weekend. Not to mention bitch about all men in general.

Uh, he asked us out and we accepted. But P knew that already. There’s a reason she’s our best friend. Just the same as we know that she’s having dinner with Mr.Last Week-but-didn’t-call this week. Wait till late tonight. We’ll both spill.

Should I ask him out? – Haven’t you already…see, I knew it!

Comittment? – Naah..too early. Besides, are you really sure you want to see him for the rest of your life?

Should I say yes? Should I say no? No. Yes. Yes. No.

Is he the one? Is he THE one? Is HE the one? IS HE THE ONE?

P is our safety valve. We are hers.

When we got into an abusive relationship, P is the one that took us by the scruff of our neck and dragged us out, kicking and screaming. We will forever love her for that. Just like we always hate it when she brings that up each time we discuss a new man. But at least it has kept us from ever falling into hell again. We keep hearing her voice in our head when we meet someone potentially ‘bad news’. Its louder than our own voice of reason that seems to get quashed under hormones and wistful dreaminess.

We once threatened to break the bones of the stud-muffin she was dating if he ever, ever, EVER hurt her. Uh…he was a six-footer with muscles to match, by the way. Oh well, we have also warded off several unwanted admirers, had several tussels with one persistantly obsessive one and been her security guard at some social occasions.

So do we sign off on each other’s relationship desicions? Umm…not exactly. We don’t need her permission to date anyone just as she doesn’t need ours. But we always feel a little better if she has a good feeling about the person we’re with. It sort of makes us feel…well, not as vulnerable and at the mercy of our unpredictable emotions and men’s wiles (yes they have them too!)

Who said women weren’t rational? Everyone gets a little wonky in the head when they meet someone they really like. Hormones, fairytales and romantic movies, the feel-good factor….hell, love is a commodity sold at every second shop! Who are we to be able to resist the power of THAT? We is quite capable of making bad desicions (and we’ve proved that over and over again). But we have a safety valve that keeps her head in our crises, blows the whistle loud in our ears, screams us awake when we’re walking into things semi-hypnotised and finally, if despite all that we fall……she picks up the pieces and nurses them back to life. We would do exactly the same.

She’s our best friend. Wouldn’t her opinion count?

A woman’s best friend more often than not, plays devil’s advocate (oh yes, if she’s a true best friend she does!). Looks like the monster mom-in-law has been replaced by the Formidable Best Friend (FBF). Well, we take our best friend very seriously. She’s our bodyguard (heart-guard as well), the voice of our conscience, our sounding board, our therapist and finally…our advocate.

As we likes to say…

Lovers may come and lovers may pass. But a friend is for life.

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