Sunday, September 21, 2014

Good Night with Dada Dadi

Having grown up in a joint family, I have always been extremely close to my grandparents. From as long as I can remember till the age of fourteen, when I got a separate room to myself, I would sleep with my dada-dadi every night. I’d slumber away with my arms spread out like Christ the Redeemer, with dadaji on one side and dadi on the other. It was one of the many perks that came with being the eldest grandchild, like having the whole family including the unmarried chacha’s and bua’s gush over you all day, clicking photographs, getting you toys and taking you for evening walks every now and then. I was quite the head-turner for twenty-year-old women in the colony too, and the erstwhile young peeps of the Ahuja family would take me for a handsome number of evening strolls frequently. In hindsight, I was probably being used as a prop to get some action by almost everyone in the family except my grandparents. But aware of the testosterone high in one’s twenties, I refuse to judge.

I was a very well potty-trained child. Even though the dadi and the bua, at times, speak about how “kitni tumhari potty dhoyi hai bachpan mein” to express overflowing emotions of love, I understand the sentiment because over-dramatization is pretty much a norm in my family. However, I’ll be honest that vomit retention and management was not one of my strongest skill sets. The family would take a number of steps to keep me from puking and ruining the bed sheets at night. A small bucket for me to puke into would be kept right next to the bed and newspaper would be spread on the floor because I was more of a Bhim than Arjun when it came to hitting bulls eye with my projectiles. I was also made to have a spoonful of brandy as charnamrit for keeping the inner beast calm, but its effect was more of keeping me from remembering the mighty battle the grandparents and the parents fought every night, cleaning ulti at 2 a.m. I would just wake up in the morning, puke some more and trot smilingly off to school.

The dada-dadi not only bore the brunt of the extra responsibilities, as mentioned above, that came with letting me sleep with them but also never complained much about my sleep-talking or involuntary rotating of my body around its axis like I was some veer-putra of the dharti ma, kicking everyone and everything that came in its path, which was mostly my dadaji’s head and my dadi’s stomach.

Now that this is shaping into a little narration of my time sleeping with my grandparents, it would be important to mention that my dadi has never been much of a bedtime story teller. Your grandparents must’ve told you some stories in your time, but my dadi knew just one little story which she narrated to me every single night! It was called the “ganje ki kahaani”. Its appropriateness for a six year old and morals are kind of questionable, but I’ll let you judge for yourself. Story time! Yay!

So, there was a ganja who used to sit on top of a baer tree. (Side note: Don’t read it like Baer from Moser-Baer. I’m talking about the little green fruit called baer. Or beyr/ber?) He would give baer to all the passers-by who asked for some. One day, a lady came up to him and said, “Ganje ganje, thode baer toh dede.” To which the ganja said, “Jholi aage kar”, and the lady replied with “Jholi mein mere kitne chhed hain.” Then the ganja said, “Haath aage kar”, and got the reply, “Haath mein mere kitne chhed hain.” (I know it sounds kind of crazy because I don’t know haath mein chhed kaise hote hain, but when asked, I was told that if someone spreads open one’s hands and arms, one is unable to catch baer. Sounds legit, but I don’t know how much my dadi would score on the CAT even if it tested us on Verbal Ability in Hindi.) Moving on, the lady suggested that the ganja wrap some baer in his pagdi and lower them from the tree for the woman to collect. But as soon as he lowered his arm to give the baer, he was pulled down and put in a sack, which the lady carried on her back into the forest.

The woman walked and walked till she really badly wanted to go pee and couldn’t hold it till she got back home. So while she went away to relieve herself, the ganja came out of the sack, filled it with stones and hay and ran back home. The woman then carried the sack back home, cursing it continuously in the choicest of Punjabi cuss words because the hay pricked her back and she thought the ganja was pinching her patootie. She was in for a big shock on reaching her home in the forest when she found that the ganja had escaped.

The next month, the lady came back to the baer tree and asked the ganja for baer. The ganja said, “jholi kar” and then “haath kar”, getting the same old replies from the woman. So he recognized her to be the witch who had tried to kidnap him the previous month and said, “Tu wohi hai na jo mujhe bori mein bandh karke le jaa rahi thi!” The witch immediately defended herself with, “Nahi nahi, main toh teri mummy ki saheli hoon. Dekh mere haathon mein tel. Abhi teri mummy ke baal kanghi karke aayi hoon.

The ganja was asked to lower his turban for the baer and was again pulled into the sack. (Smartass!)

This time, the witch held her bladder tight and ran back home. There, she asked her daughter to cook the ganja while she got some groceries from the market. On returning from the market, she saw that the dish was ready and she happily sat down to gulp it all down. While she ate the human meat, she offered some to her daughter. The daughter refused to touch it, ran to the door instead and sang aloud: “Apni kudi nu khaale oye; apni kudi nu khaale oye.” Turned out that the ganja had cooked the witch's daughter instead and served the same to her own mother. End of story! 

It may seem like the story had no moral values to convey and the plot twist is a little screwed up because apparently the ganja looked like the witch’s daughter, but my grandparents have given me a lot of such seemingly insignificant yet wonderful memories, which I will cherish for a lifetime. They have continuously showered upon me unparalleled love that they communicate in ways that they know best. It still continues in words like, “Main toh apne par-pote ko dekh ke jaaungi.

The ganje ki kahaani, in my dadi's gentle voice, has also brought the Secret into practice and instructed the Universe to give me all that I had grown up hearing about. Ganjaapan! It still remains with me like blessings from my dadi, who makes it a point to cover the bald-patch with her hand every time that she touches my head to give aashirwad.

I can possibly not express the amount of respect and love I feel for my grandparents. But this is just a little expression of gratitude for giving me company every night during my growing up years. Thank you! They collectively made the good nights some of the best nights I've had.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Dummy's Guide to Selecting a DU College Society

The new session of Delhi University started a little over a month ago and if things still go about like they used to when I was in college, college society auditions must be at their peak right now. Or maybe things happen too soon nowadays and the recruitments have already been done. But loyalty towards the society in the first two months is equivalent to Charlie Sheen for at least half the new recruits. So, if you plan to ditch your current society and join another in the guise of “my parents don’t allow me to stay back so late, here’s your guide to deciding on which college society to join.

Street Play

The Street Play society is one of the most sought after societies in college. I mean, why wouldn’t anything that recognizes your talent in being able to shout at the top of your voice for hours together and sing raunchy ‘90s songs like “chhat pe soya tha behnoi” be appealing! This society will probably have the most number of rounds when it comes to auditions, but trust me, the only basis they reject you on is “bhai, yeh banda bada South Delhi type hai; iske bass ki nahi hai”. Except, if you’re a hot girl. I mean, let’s not kid ourselves, every society in a co-ed DU college has a hot girl quota.

To be able to fit in, you must have an undying love for street food, a collective crush on the lead dancer from the Dance Society, a soul that cannot keep itself from dancing to the dhol and a palate for adrak wali chai. Don’t worry about the script; the seniors will anyway not accept anything that you write, and mostly work on it themselves. The boys must look earthy with stubbles that would give Markand Deshpande a complex. Parallely, the women needn’t worry too much; they just signed up for a free daily mud pack for the next three years of their lives. Stubble, optional.

Being a member of this society will be a brilliant thing to put on your CV because it’ll teach you team work and blah blah among other important things like how to not let the person who bought Maggi from the canteen have it himself, and how to fit thirteen people in an auto rickshaw and then not even care to check if it breaks a world record because abhi toh dhol bhi fit kar lenge.

Dance Society

Now, I'm a firm believer of the fact that every woman is beautiful and the media presents a very skewed image of what should be considered good looking *cue for the feminists to applaud*, but let's just say that the Dance Society kind of, by chance, in a way happens to house all the women from college who fit the image projected by the media in a great way. But it's such a strange coincidence because the street play peeps dance most to Yo Yo Honey Singh when the muse for all his music is in the Dance Society.

To fit in this club of showstoppers, you need to be extremely hoity-toity but believe otherwise. I mean, you don't wear Zara and then dance to cheap Hindi music for fun. You dance to cheap Hindi music because you want crazy audience response during your performance at the next college fest, or because you think OMG, this new song is so funny and chhichhora, he he he. Also, an affinity towards green-room girl politics masked under glittery eye-shadow is kind of a given.

The guys will mostly only be a handful in this woman dominated club, and be well built. But whatevs, they're just needed to flex muscles, lift some women during performances and do the usual moon walk shit.

Music Society

Being able to play an instrument or sing beautifully isn't the only requirement of MuSoc. You must, at all times, be ready to sing a Happy Birthday song in harmony whenever you find out about someone's birthday. As a girl, you must be sugary sweet, just like your voice and be able to rock the Western accent like no other while singing an English song, and then also amaze everyone with an equally beautiful Shreya Ghoshal cover. The boys may either part their hair from the side like a nona bacha and proudly exhibit the fashion in which they meet the expectations that Hindustani Music had of them, or be the complete opposite with a goatee, crazy hair and a band with a name like Fusion Mafia Collective something.

A collective hatred for Punjabi Music from anyone other than Jaspinder Narula and a love for Coke Studio and Coldplay is a prerequisite. Also, member of MuSoc or not, you can’t help but be friends with these guys! They’re pretty awesome.

Commerce/Economics/Entrepreneurship/Marketing Society

The mystery of the purpose of this society’s existence will bring Agrasen ki Baoli to shame. These guys will organize one event towards the end of the year and will be mostly seen freaking out about “bhai, koi contact nikaal sponsorship ke liye”. I don’t see the point in why they get to gloat about being a part of a society the whole year round. The only skill you require to get in is to have a relative who will be ready to sponsor the event. Most of their work involves arranging for flower bouquets and mementos for the judges, and go around for sponsorship meetings. Also, if they fear that people might not turn up for the event, they’ll put in a word with the Principal, who will make it mandatory for everyone to attend with threats of compulsory attendance or some such.

More publicized than the event will be their after party photos on facebook, which are nothing but pictures of a bunch of people dressed in formals having dinner at Berco’s. Also, someone needs to tell them to stop going on about how much of a success the show was.

Another word of caution: If the society members tell you that one of the benefits of joining would be that you would get the experience of organizing an event, which is like a crazy big deal with companies when they come for placements; trust me, it’s not. You don’t even get to officially go for Antaragni or Oasis at IIT-K and BITS, Pilani, respectively. What’s the point in getting to go about: “Bhai, unofficially jaane mein koi panga toh nahi hai?” all the time!

Probably the only reason you should apply for this club is if you’re one of those start-up guys who has a photo of Steve Jobs as your computer wallpaper and you keep making random websites all the time. It’ll just go with your image; that’s it.


The Placement Cell will have people who believe their stint will help them secure better placements at the end of three years. Also, they have an air of self importance that says, “I’m in the P-Cell, I’m so smart, you’re so dumb. Haha.” I mean, they’re nice people, helping us get placements and all, but some of them just need to drop the attitude a notch.

If your college happens to have a Photography Club, join it only to find an excuse to spend time with your crush who might happen to be in it. They’ll just go for a handful of photowalks to Chandni Chowk, Agrasen ki Baoli, Old Fort and then passively compete with each other on their respective facebook photography pages.

And if you can’t make it into any of the clubs, I’d suggest you join AIESEC. I don’t know about work, but you’ll learn some dance steps in the name of “jive” which none of your non-AIESECers will give a shit about. You’ll have ample stories about who got with whom and be seen around Khan Market a lot.

And, if you decide to join none of them because time nahi hai, then congratulations, you’re already in the Society for Mutual Appreciation for Praveen Sharma and Ashish Kalra, while you worry for your upcoming CA exams.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Kudi Namkeen!

If a famous Bollywood song is to be believed, the samundar wields the power to turn women into namkeen. I’d prefer mine to go take a dip and come out as Aaloo Bhujia. Except, I don’t really know how visually appealing she would look draped in a packet of Haldiram’s. However, in this age, when such a radical shift is being made from desi namkeen to American food snacks, I believe it’s the perfect time for some namkeen emancipation. Trust Ekta Kapoor to buy this idea for a few krores. More so because the namkeen is a woman calling out for attention from the society, and as we’ve already seen, the best medium to spread her message is through a daily soap. The biscuits are the unimportant male characters with names like Monaco and Bourbon. Except for Marie; that one is just transgender.

Aaloo Bhujia

The Aaloo Bhujia (AB) is like the peppy didi in her early twenties who is just about to get married. But don’t let the word “peppy” confuse you with an image of Preity Zinta. Think more on the lines of a new face trying to pull a Kareena Kapoor from Jab We Met. She’s the one who does not shut up about her love for gol gappe and wishes to play pitthu with the colony ke bache. Her backless choli and long Sardarni hair are to die for. She’s a favorite with the kids, to whom she brings a taste close to that of Lay’s Masala Magic, but is still thoroughly Indian. Dare you call her an aunty, heartburn de degi, heartburn.

Bikaneri Bhujia

The older, more mature, and spicy like you cannot handle that shite – the Bikaneri Bhujia (BB) is the saree clad boss of cougar town. The Bhabhi of the house that AB will be marrying into; the BB will be your bet for the character who turns out to be the vamp some day, except, she won’t. She’s like the female version of Ronit Roy from Kasautii Zindagii Kay. You know this is the closest Indian telly can get to Meryl Streep in a saree with a sleeveless blouse.

Have you also seen those fat brown globules of shit in the Bikaneri Bhujia packet? That is Ram Kapoor inside of her, refusing to pull out!

Khatta Meetha

The Sakshi Tanwar of Namkeenville, she doesn’t give you as much acidity as the others. You think the kids will love her, but there is just so much mamta right there that teens growing up on American Pie and the like just don’t get going with that taste. You can expect her to go all: “Aww, mere raja beta ko dudhu chahiye”, when the son screams for MILF (Munchies I Label as Food).

There’s a mole on her upper lip to help her live up to the khatta image but everything in the namkeen is so boring, complete with peanuts and sabudana puffs that you just want to distribute it as parshaad and convince people that it’s so nice ke isse vrat mein kha sakte hain.

Moong Dal

The Baa of Kahaani Haldiram Ki, this namkeen is so bland that it just goes into this endless loop of nobody-wanting-to-have-it and it-does-not-frikkin-end-it’s-still-staring-me-in-the-face. It’s there, offering nutrition related sanskaar in the form of salted daal without any unhealthy masala, but sher ke munh ek baar bhujia lag jaaye toh phir kya kar sakte hain. You put a rubber-band on it and keep it aside, but no one is ready to do the dirty work of finishing it.

Navratan Mix

You know this shit will make your vocal chords burst because of all the spices it hits you with. And then it’s like you just stepped into Rajasthan, and Ila Arun jumped in front of you, refusing to leave till you let her woo you with “Dilli Sheher Mein Maaro”. With a name like Navratan, it promises you some nine different types of ingredients mixed in one, but one fistful down your throat and you recognize it to be Dadi-Sa or the like from Balika Vadhu: paise (read: ingredients) toh aa gaye but class nahi aayi.

Nut Cracker

The Goddamn Vamp! Oh this thing is so damn sensuous, it’s like your nuts are on crack. She tempts you into falling for her and indulge in some adultery. You want her with the whisky, and her body on your rocks. With the curvy texture et al, she is the mistress of spices. You know it’ll be extremely painful later, and a moment of pleasure is not worth the consequences. But, you learn it the hard way. A hangover, a glass of Eno and some spicy moments down the dark alley are enough to remind you of your Moong Dal (read: nani).

Badam Lachha & the Others

The Badam Lachha is the Bollywood cameo that comes every Diwali and makes your day extra special. The Boondi is like the Ramu Kaka; present everywhere, yet hasn’t been honored with the status of a namkeen. And what, you ask, is the person who just wrote such a zabardasti ka blog post? It’s the namkeen you get when you misspell Bhujia to start with a C and end with a T-I-A.

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