Archive for November 2011

Old Wine Really Fine?

House arrest on account of heavy rains has kept me indoors this weekend. To prevent cabin fever from taking over, I've been listening to Hindi film songs. When I played 'Jiya Jale Jaan Jale' from the 1998 film Dil Se, the husband remarked 'vandutaaya paati' (here comes the grandmother) referring to Lata Mangeshkar's aging voice in the song.

My husband and I do not like the same type of music. But on this count, I must say that I agree with him. With due respect to Rahman and Lata Mangeshkar, I feel she was not the right choice for this song.

The song is about a young, innocent bride looking forward to her wedding night. Gulzar's sensuous and smouldering lyrics sends shivers down your spine. Tells you so much without actually saying it. The picturisation was just right. A young fresh faced Preity Zinta, a bare bodied SRK, the lush greenery and the flowing water. The whole effect primordial and stripped down to the bare basics - Superb! And then that granny voice....Just listen to it:

Its not that I do not like Lata Mangeshkar's singing.Far from it. I think she has a golden voice and has given us some really memorable music. Take the song 'Jaise Radha Ne Maala Japi' from the film Tere Mere Sapne. Also about a young bride - although I guess its more about the glow from the wedding night! The tenderness and love that you get from this song is simply not there in Jiya Jale. And its not that the music is inferior. Music is top class in both songs.

Now here is a song from the music director everyone loves to hate - Anu Malik. Its from the film Asoka (you didn't know he was the music director for this film now did you?!).

The song 'Raat Ka Nasha Abhi' is laced with sensuality. (yes! Anu Malik does make good music once in a while) Also makes euphemistic references to sex. Again lyrics are by the inimitable Gulzar. The choice of singer, Chitra, in my opinion, lifts the song to another level. Call me a heretic, but for a song about love making, a 40 something singer is a better choice than a (then) 70 year old legend. The 'inspired' Anu Malik seems to know that. How come Rahman didn't?

And yet Jiya Jale was a super hit song - as it deserves to be. I just have the sense that, if say, Shreya Ghoshal had sung it, it might have moved from being a beautiful song to a mind blowing one.

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Micky Mouse In My House

Over the Diwali break, I watched the film 'Stuart Little' on telly. A cute movie about a mouse who is adopted by a human family with a message that love transcends all - especially species! I however did not appreciate the film or its message. Reason? Just a week before Diwali, I chanced upon a similar rodent in the service area of my home. And let me tell you, these mice are far from being the friendly, eager-to-please critters that Stuart is.

Naturally I lost all sleep after I saw the mouse run and take cover behind my washing machine. All windows in the house were immediately shut. All the rooms were blockaded and the service area contained. Or so we thought. The next morning my husband woke me up with - 'Its there. Behind the microwave'.

'Oh no! What shall we do?!'. It was as if we were being held at gun point by robbers.

'Dont worry' soothed my husband. 'When the maid comes, I will ask her to drive it away'.

So much for my knight in shining armour I thought wryly.

Later that day, my husband called me at work and announced triumphantly on the phone 'The house is mouse free'

'Yay! How did you manage to do that?'

'Well, I asked the maid to move the crockery shelf. And he just leaped out from behind it and started running....'

'Did you kill it?!'

'No! He was too fast' (A likely story. My husband couldn't hurt a fly. Even if the fly was hurting him)

The long and short of it was that the rodent was driven out of the house with a stick and jhadoo. My husband breathed a sigh of relief and left on tour.

The next morning, I knew the mouse was back. There were droppings on the floor, it had knocked over a little cup in which I keep pins and rubber bands. Damn!

Another night went by with me barricaded inside my bedroom. But I had forgotten to shut the dining room window which was where the mouse had escaped from. And now seemed to be using it for entering the house. This time it even bit my kitchen mat to tatters. Enough was enough.

I called my husband and said 'Do something or I'm out of here! And dont tell me to set traps or use rat poison. I don't even want to see that ugly, dirty thing'

'Ok! Cool it. I will contact the pest control guy'.

So that evening the pest control guy, Sathya, arrived. He inspected the rooms and pointed out to me which ones the mouse had been in. Luckily it was only roaming around the dining room near the microwave. It had first gained entry by nibbling through the netlon we have put in the service area. And after it made its escape from the extermination drive initiated by husband dear, it found a new way in.

Sathya showed me a black line on the wall, right above the floor. 'That line shows the movements of the mouse. Since it is dirty, it leaves dirt marks and thats how we can find it' he said.

Really?! I soaked up all this information.How was he going to catch it? A trap? Poison (shudder! I cannot dispose mouse carcasses)

'No madam. Now a days there are new things called 'gum traps'. It is safer than regular traps which can injure the rat and spill its blood and make the area unsanitary. Poison could cause it to die and rot and leave a bad smell. Again there is risk of infection. The gum traps are the safest way to catch them'

The exact same gum trap we used
So what is a gum trap. It is essentially a note book (mean the paper note book not the computer) shaped article. When you open it (like a notebook), it reveals strong gum inside. It is placed at places frequented by the rat. When the rat moves over it, it gets stuck and remains stuck till you come find it. No blood and no rotting.You just fold the mouse in the trap and dispose it.Genius!

The traps were placed and I was advised to leave the window open.

Come morning, there was no sign of the intruder. Drat! Still, it was early days yet. Sathya said the traps could be placed and they were good for at least a year.

Luckily I did not have to wait a year. When I got home from work that evening, there it was! All stuck on the gum trap, just like Sathya had promised. How to dispose it? I was going nowhere near it. The apartment security guard obliged and my home was soon REALLY mouse free.

My joy knew no bounds. I had hated living all boxed up with windows and doors closed all the time. I called just about everybody I knew with the glad tidings.

All's well that end's well I thought. I became a staunch supporter of the gum trap. To me it was the next best thing after penicillin had been discovered.

Until last week. I opened the service area door and a black shadow darted past. 'EEEEEEkkkk' I screamed.

'What happend?' shouted my husband from the other room, ' Lizard?' (Yeah. I'm petrified of lizards. But after this mouse business, I think I'm learning to like the reptiles. They eat cockroaches and do not make a nuisance)

'Guess who is back?!'

'WHAT?!' asked my husband rushing to the service area. But the mouse was gone.

We've blocked the opening in the bitten netlon and put another gum trap in place. Doors and windows are closed in the evening. The guy has not re-appeared since that one time. But everytime I hear some sound, I start, thinking its the mouse who's back. Brings to mind that song 'Zara si aahat hoti hai, tho dil sochta hai. Kahin yeh WOH tho nahi!!'

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No! Men Will NOT Be Men.

I'm back to my favourite rant on gender stereotyping in the media. The Seagram ads are the latest on my hit list. Take a look at this one:

Seriously! A husband cannot remember his wife's name? And that can be excused as 'Men will be Men?"!! Even our male centric mythological texts did not let off Dushyant so lightly when he forgot his wife Shakuntala.

Here's another:

Man forgets his wedding anniversary and decides to buy a diamond ring as a peace offering. Bigger the offense, larger the size of the diamond.  After all, who needs to remember trivial stuff in life like a wife and marriage! Grrrrr. And when they do, they fall back on the old stereotype of diamonds being a girl's best friend. Shut the woman up with a shiny rock.

And yet another:

Man looking devastated. Leads you to wonder if someone has died. But no! Its worse. His wife's trip out of town has been cancelled! Men will be men!

Apart from portraying woman as:
1. Not worthy of being remembered 
2. Greedy and hankering after jewellery
3. So unbearable that husbands eagerly await their departure from the home - I think these commercials also portray men in poor light. As people who do not care for their wives enough to remember their names. As people who would bribe their way into their wives' good graces rather than be contrite and admit to making a mistake and as people who seem to find their wives' presence insufferable. At least the men in my life do not live up to THIS stereotype. 

My father is a wonderful man and a devoted husband. Going against the tradition of celebrating 'shashtiyaptapurti', he preferred to celebrate his golden jubilee wedding anniversary instead. Read more about it here: Celebrating Milestones

Like my father, my husband is also a caring human being. And what I love most about him is the amount of attention he gives me! He has his faults of course. But I have never wanted for attention from him. He misses me when I'm away and certainly knows how to make anniversaries special :) 

The reactions to these commercials have generally been good with people liking the humour, the acting and the music. One reaction says that since advertising for alcohol and tobacco are banned, the companies have to turn to these kind of 'humourous' methods. But why does 'humour' always make women the butt of the joke and present them in unfavourable light? 

No doubt, the commercials are entertaining and the actors very talented. Overall stylishly created commercials by Ogilvy. But I think they've gone over the top with the stereotyping. I know this refrain is so oft repeated that it is passe - but I think it bears repeating. Media needs to be more responsible in the way it portrays gender relations. And, we, as a society, need to be more alert to the sub text in these seemingly 'well crafted' and 'entertaining' commercials. 

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