From the diary of a cooking novice

Source: jeshoots.com

Cooking might be a lot of people’s preferred stress-buster these days. Pick up any celebrity interview and read about their desired course of distraction from their busy schedule. In all probability, their answers would be along the lines of baking a three layer cake with graced topping and a cherry on the top. However, for cooking illiterate like me, who couldn’t quite grasp the difference between a teaspoon or the serving spoon — or any spoon for that matter, cuisine preparation is a difficult hobby to sustain.

Cooking is an art, a knack for which cannot be mastered by those not in possessions of innate talent required in the business. Don’t get me wrong. Of course I am of the opinion that consistent hard labor and intense dedication can make a Mozart out of anyone, however untrained. But at the same time that little touch of artistry naturally ingrained in some people give them an explicit edge over the ones who are artificially trying to inculcate the craft. I came about this epiphany when my mother, who genetically harbors an avid fondness for appetizing food, forced me to undertake many cooking session during past few weeks.

It would be an understatement to say that she was disappointed with the outcome of our joint sessions. As a matter of fact, she was enraged. She was fuming because her daughter couldn’t even cook something as simple as bhendi ki sabzi without shamelessly burning the half of it.  Much worse, my family boasts of having produced greatest if not exactly famous cooks.

Notwithstanding the initial glitches, being a doting mother that she is, she affectionately tried to negate my full-fledged incompetence to cook by labeling it as half-hearted efforts of a scatter brain, too lazy to realize her full potential. And thus, new chances were thrown at me, each one more demanding than the previous. Dal, rice, and salads; I tried it all. And do I need to elaborate the little fright attack my heart staged every time my mother decided to conduct roti making lessons?  Pretty sure everybody knows the dilemma when your parents try to teach you how to make a circular roti. Phew! Past few weeks have been difficult.

I am not sure about my mother, since she still is hell-bent on proving that her youngest one, too, is a hidden gem, as far as cooking is concerned. Nevertheless for me, I have realized my potential, done and dusted, screaming at me that cooking is not my cup of tea. Knowing what sauce goes in what pasta, what topping suits which pizza and the tidbits of making finger-licking paneer ki sabzi is just beyond my utterly minimal capabilities.

So this goes out to every domestic God and Goddess of the planet who are perfectly in sync with every humble culinary trick: I BOW BEFORE THEE!!

Dear India Parents, your daughter’s social life is equally important

Source: Pixabay
Source: Pixabay

Few weeks ago, I met a forgotten friend. Eyes were narrowed in recognition and smiles were exchanged at recollection. Even though both of us would have been at ease  to continue to remain oblivious of each other’s existence ; with regards to the friendly bond once shared,  we  mutely conceded  to fabricate a genuine interest in one another’s stories. Eventually, plans were made and we decided to go out for a movie.

While in a queue to buy tickets for our show, my friend good-naturedly confessed, “You know, this is my first time in the movie theater”. “How come?”, I asked with feigned interest. “Well, my parents have this weird theory that girls who go for  movies are morally lacking.  Somehow they figured that girls who have a social life is debauched”, she remarked as an afterthought. Too impatient to acknowledge my open mouthed disbelief, she hurtled towards the designated screen. The following two hours went in utter silence, during which it dawned on me, I was being a subjected to an act of concealed rebellion.

YET TO BE COMPLETED….

BMM: Much ado about nothing?


Being a Gemini gives you the luxury to come across as someone who is fickle-minded, indecisive and easily uninterested.  As a consequence, my inclination to make decisions in a spur of moment would be the only feasible excuse for siding with BMM after my HSC.  Save for the future wherein I turn out to be an illustrious and celebrated personality, I would continue to meticulously rue the day I decided taking up Mass Media as my plausible career option. Striking remark, innit? Well, earnest regret demands jarring words.

One may ask, what’s wrong with BMM? And while I’m compiling a list of everything decisively off the mark with BMM, somewhere an argument may pop up and remind me how anyone not in possession of talent (that would be me)  shouldn’t be permitted to cry foul over the incongruity of a course which is specifically created for the creatively sound and artistically gifted. Therefore, before you lambast me for defaming or demeaning the average and the creative (which, by the way, is not my intention), I would want to make this absolutely clear that whatever I am to elucidate in due course is derived from my personal experience, ensuing from my private dissatisfaction with the course of my interest. Hence, when I venture out to say that BMM was not worth 3 years, I exclusively speak for myself.

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Source: commons.wikimedia.org

The course is nothing like they promise you. It is sold to you on the idea of practical knowledge, the sort that will adequately prepare you for the real world. However, reflecting on the last few years, the amount of knowledge I grasped was directly proportional to the number of meaningful internships I managed to acquire of my own accord. And given the fact that I  had the privilege of working just thrice, (notwithstanding the time when I naively ended up working in the response dept. of a media firm, which is nothing but a euphemism for call center, only poorly compensated), I consider myself to be pretty dim-witted and unprepared to face the inevitable mauling of reality.

No, I have nothing against working and learning during graduate years. In fact, I believe that experience is the best teacher. But my point here is, if everything I am going to learn about my field of interest is through internships, then, why should I waste a considerable amount of money (Yes, BMM is an expensive course to sustain) on a degree that taught me no more than to indulge in petty class politics during inter-collegiate fests (although, I won’t lie, I cherished this part). Why, rather not go for specialized course in the desired field along with a relatively cheaper and much more profound bachelor’s degree?

I know for the majority three years of BMM would be the best thing ever. Truthfully, if this wouldn’t have been my concluding months before I become a media graduate, I might have been raving the same. But now, as my conveniently sheltered bubble pops open, and reality slowly begins to sneak in, the years swiftly passed in enjoyment and ignorance seem to be somewhat wasted. And frankly, a tussle with discontentment is difficult to win.

In Criticism of Fans Who Maketh a Superstar

SONY DSCI’ll say it right off the bat, some people have all the luck in the universe and henceforth, Salman Khan should be used to connote that endorsement. Having being acquitted in 18-year long Chinkara poaching case, Bollywood’s over aged man-child who made career exhibiting his goon act both on and off screen is free again,  and his fans are happier than ever. I don’t want to comment on the acuity  of the decision, as doing so would implicate that firstly, I have something new to add on to the advancing debate and secondly, I’m using this space as a whetstone upon which  to grind a very private axe. Both the hypothesis is null and void.   However, I do have a bone or two to pick with the acquitted celebrity’s fandom, or might we say, his goon-dom?

Taking time out of hurling abuses at the only celebrity who dared to take a stand on Bhai’s preposterous rape comment, and refusing to believe that Sachin Kalbaug’s twitter feed might have mentioned their superstar in not (sic) all his colorful glory, legion of admirers rushed outside his place of residence in a bid to show love and solidarity for a man whose majority of life is narrative of criminal charges and getting rid of them; a man who has been acquitted of mowing down an homeless person, an insensitive brat who in an  insouciant manner mocked the deep physical trauma and psychological scar of rape survivors  by comparing it with his lifting of few dumb-bells. And to drive the knife in a little deeper, he arrogantly refused to apologize.

One cannot muster disregard for court’s ruling, because hello! contempt of court? But what we, as a society can and should do is to make someone accountable  for the nonsense they spew on public forum. Alas! rather than making Salman eat his words, his fans ensured that his movie hordes another billion . So certainly, as a person who personally observes blanket ban on everything Salman,  I can’t help but question the morality and humanity of all those millions who continue to idolize this misogynist enfant terrible. And of course, their collective IQ.

While we are on the business of demanding apologies, lets backtrack a little. Remember the time when a certain young comedian made a few seconds video that showed Sachin Tendulkar and Lata Mangeshkar (both played by the comedian himself) having an mock conversation and the outrage that it triggered? Suddenly everyone was crying foul; they couldn’t stress enough how dignity of women was being impaled under the guise of ‘tasteless’ humor. Apparently calling an artist old is so much worse than mocking the agony of rape survivors. I question the authority of those who were shouting in the news rooms, demanding FIRs and propositioning to investigate a larger conspiracy at play. I question the credibility of the Bollywood fraternity that just couldn’t come to terms with the ‘detestable’ words directed against a fellow celebrity.

The video was banned because, among other things, it insulted a woman. Why wasn’t Sultan, then,  taken down after its actor made such an abominable comment? Why weren’t you, the aam junta on streets, threatening the over aged brat, promising to break his leg next time he came out?  Oh, are we only bullying the innocents making a rather honest- free-of-erstwhile-homicide-and-physical-abuse- charges living ? My bad!

The popularity of Salman Khan is bad for the nation. The amount of regression he continues to vomit on our screens is alarming, outstripped only by the urgency through which his fans rush to validate that balderdash.

India suffers from vicious form of celebrity worship. Salman Khan’s existence all but confirms that. His fandom has ensured that nothing, and I mean, literally nothing could ever stop him from being their darling. They are more than willing to make excuses on behalf of his brassiness, his misdeeds. And lest someone comes in Bhai’s way, they’ll make sure to objectify the hell out of her. Because, you see, like celebrity, like fan!

So this goes out to all the fans out there – might they consider freeing that thumb from touching the nose – society takes a collective blow when it’s millions blindly follow a man whose life, as I said, is balance-sheet of serious allegations, acquitted or otherwise. You can do better than that.

Image source: http://www.biodiversityofindia.org

 

The good and the misunderstood

Source: commons.wikimedia.org

You know it’s 9 pm at my home when my mother promptly ceases everything she’s been doing to sit in front of TV set and devote half an hour watching Diya aur Baati; a merciless bore of a TV show, which, however wretched, happens to be Hindi entertainment channel’s most coveted soap opera.  Having said that, I have been following the show as ardently as my mom does since its very inception. Sounds tad hypocritical, innit?

Without delving further into as to why I watch a show that I’m evidently embarrassed to admit watching, let’s move to the bit wherein I endeavor to defend my choice by underscoring a certain positive out of an otherwise ghastly Saas-Bahu saga.

The show, like every other Hindi serial made available for public viewing, is doing everything wrong. Saintly daughter-in-law with a truck load of Sanskar entrenched, dreadfully obedient and whiter than white portrayal of a son, a meddlesome and unashamedly misogynistic mother-in-law; this show has every making of a typically nauseous and cringe-worthy Hindi daily soap. However, amidst all the gloom what caught my eye is a refreshing portrayal of  a female character, who not being the protagonist shouldn’t have mattered at all.

Beginning on antagonistic note, the showrunners unintentionally transformed the character (who, by the way, is one of the many Bahu of a self-indulgent clan), into occasional rational and regular individual. In an industry where characters are either overtly angelic or viciously demonic, coming across an ordinary personality with humble shades of grey is quite fascinating.

The lady in question does everything a normal day-to-day person will do; earn hard and spend warily, prioritize the welfare of her husband and children over the interest of others. Bearing in mind the fact that a working woman whose job plays a pivotal role in her life is a sight to behold in Indian television scenario, this female character, who knows just about every trick of her trade, is quite delightful. Mutinous and gleeful version of a woman, who isn’t genetically carved out to do everything right might be deemed as villainous by the traditional majority. I, however, am anticipating the day when such a whip-smart individual, who knows better than to shed buckets  of tears over bygones, is being promoted as the central character. That, for me, would mark the coming out of television industry from its deep slumber.

Reasoning comes first!

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Source: Pixabay

Government that once was so deliberate in its actions, seem to have now lost its game plan. With controversies and high profile scams tainting the party’s  holier-than-thou projected demeanour, the government has yet again managed to achieve a new low in the theatre of absurd.

The Indian government’s saintly mission to tidy up the internet by imposing a crackdown on pornographic content, and thereby denying its citizen the basic right that the constitution good-heartedly ensued, was met with much indignation throughout the spectrum of humanity. By supplying internet companies with a list of more than 850 websites that had to be blocked, the government once again showcased its ineptitude when it comes to making informed decision and taking appropriate measures.

Over following days, amid a rampant controversy over ban on 857 websites, government attempted to undo all the
embarrassment by passing the buck to the Internet service providers, alluding that it intended to restrict only those sites hosting child pornography. In an attempt to make amends for the classic goof up that caused much public outrage, the government issued the ISPs to unblock all the other sites.  However, laying the onus on the government for specifying the URLs to be unblocked, the Internet service providers (ISPs) politely distance themselves from becoming a scapegoat in this apparent battle against democracy heralded by the NDA regime. The fiasco seems to have no immediate end in the sight. However owing to the amount of flak that it has generated for the government at the time when it could do with public’s goodwill, the ruling party might want to tread  carefully next time before it conceives a brand new plan as to how hurl India back into the regressive ages.

(http://www.youthincmag.com/our-take-on-governments-recently-imposed-porn-ban/)

QUALITY EDUCATION FOR ALL

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©Joe Loong via Flickr

Last week, I came across a news piece emphasizing our Union HRD minister, Smriti Irani’s decision to prioritize reforms in higher education.  Clearly, there’s no beating around bush for we all know just how lacking our education system is (in terms of both infrastructure and quality).  The Indian Varsities, even the most prestigious ones stand nowhere in comparison with their Asian counterparts, let alone Harvard and MIT.

While talking to a friend the other day, who also happens to be a research fellow by profession, our conversation eventually steered towards the stale and dogmatic style of teaching in India. Having been a part of a research institute for a quite a while now, she told me how the higher education in India is not research oriented, and that how it undermines the hopes of students who have a knack for creating rather than repeating, due to conspicuous lack of available funds.

The quality of any university imparting higher education can be judged by the number of research papers it publishes in most reputed academic journals. However, in India, lack of focus on the infrastructure, inexperienced faculty and meagerness of capital leads to less than required publications.

There is a paucity of collaboration between the academics and industries (a symbiotic relationship, wherein companies provide funds to institutions so as they carry out research  that might, in turn, benefit the industries involved), mostly because the companies in India are still service providers, and not manufacturers. Therefore, it can be safely said that, creativity among the students is not at the top of agenda for Indian educational institutes. Nevertheless, higher education alone should not be held accountable for achieving this feat.

The root for the lackluster performance of higher academic institute could be attributed to the outdated model of Indian Primary education .This  pattern designed during the colonial times with the intention of producing service class rewards mediocrity and rote learning.We study, not for knowledge, but for job, and good score ascertains a satisfying appointment. Focus on marks rather than the concept has been a defining pattern throughout our schooling years. Critical thinking and inquisitive mind aren’t given much prominence. To inspire a creative atmosphere and to open young minds to various possibilities has never been deemed crucial by our educational system.

I remember being conditioned to take my teacher’s word for everything they said, because ‘to question’ has never been a part of curriculum. I also remember my tuition teacher being extremely pleased every time I gave an oral test, parroting word to word from my note book. She didn’t ask if I understood a single word of what I said, for she might have thought that understanding wouldn’t get me good score, but, rote- learning most-certainly will.

There’s no denying the fact that there is an urgent need to overhaul higher education, and government’s staunch resolution to do so is much appreciated. However, amidst all the talks of refurbishing, let it not be forgotten that to make gains of such reforms sustainable, the archaic style of primary education needs attention, too.