Monday, May 11, 2015

Sardarji Insecurity Wale and the Vicious Cycle

Do you know what's a vicious cycle? It's something that our Sardarji, Baljeet Singh Insecuritywale, gets into every time that he is chilling in the winter sun, having glasses full of lassi one after the other because he read in the Sunday edition of Punjab Kesari that drinking 12 glasses of lassi a day would keep his skin glowing and wrinkle free. But just ten minutes after gulping down a patiala glass full, he rushes to the bathroom to pee.

And then he comes back and has another glass. Then he rushes to susu again. Lassi. Susu. Lassi. Susu. Lassi. Susu. Vicious cycle.

But this isn't the only vicious cycle Baljeet Singh ji is in.

So while chilling in the winter sun, Baljeet paaji keeps thinking about what Monty Singh, Kuljeet Bhatia, Guggu Mann and Mandeep Kaur think of him. He feels Mandeep Kaur doesn't like him because of his gray beard; Monty thinks that all of Baljeet's stories from pre-partition Lahore are BS; and Kuljeet thinks that Baljeet is bald inside his turban.

He then thinks of ways in which he could prove his friends wrong, and also have Mandeep fall in love with him. He fantasizes about how he will dye his beard black to win his lady love, and accidentally untie his turban in front of Kuljeet to flaunt his full mane that would prove to others that he is not bald.

Basically, Baljeet Singh Insecuritywale gets caught in his assumed ideas of what his friends think of him and what all he would do to prove them wrong. Assumed opinions of others. Action Plan to prove them wrong. Opinion. Action. Opinion. Action.

It's important to note that these are all things that Baljeet Singh ji is simply assuming about his friends, and none of his buddies have explicitly mentioned any of their thoughts to him. So what makes Baljeet paaji assume such ridiculous things and spoil his Sunday afternoon? 

The answer to this question lies in Singh saab's insecurities. He feels his gray beard makes him look old and unattractive. He freaks out about spotting hair on his pillow every morning, thinking that all of it is slowly going to fall off. And, he saw that Monty was more interested in the whisky and bhujia than in Baljeet's stories from Lahore, when the same were being narrated at their get-together on the previous weekend. Further, our paaji is also quite jealous of his friend Guggu Mann, who is a pop-star and has recently bought a farm near Tivoli Gardens.


Baljeet ji's son, Amreek, moved to Miami two years ago, and is just as insecure as his father despite having done pretty well for himself so far. He keeps worrying about his appearance, his worth in the marriage market and of being thought of as a taxi driver in Miami even though he holds a respectable job in an IT company.

Both Baljeet and Amreek's insecurities can be divided into amendable and unamendable perceived deficiencies. Amendable deficiencies, as the name suggests, are those that they can correct through action, while unamendable ones just keep making them more and more miserable day by day due to their uncontrollable nature.

For example, Amreek could work out and build some muscles. But no matter how much Fair and Lovely he eats with bread and jam, and covers his eyes with cucumber slices, he cannot really match the color of his tanned face with the untanned portion under his pagg, whenever he takes off his turban at the beach.

Amreek's friends are no different. They have their own insecurities to deal with.

Both Baljeet and Amreek can correct their amendable deficiencies by acting on their plans of improvement through will power, determination, perseverance and lots of concentrated effort. However, if they just keep thinking about all that they can do to change others' opinion of them without taking any action, they'll find themselves trapped in a circle of misery, self doubt, failure and false expectations of some miracle from the kadha-parshad.


We should not under-estimate our Punjabi puttar's though. They worked hard over a couple of months and brought some amends to their lives. Baljeet dyed his beard black for a week, while Amreek took a gym membership and built some doley-sholey.

When Baljeet ran into his friends at the gurudwara that evening, he noticed that Mandeep didn't even compliment him on his black beard. Moreover, Monty laughed out loud on seeing him and mocked him for his failed attempt at looking like a gabru jawan.

On the other side of the world, Amreek would flaunt his six packs at the beach and feel good about himself for a bit, but then fall back into feeling miserable because all the white girls fell for white guys and he felt terrible for being brown.

Baljeet's motivation for improvement was to gain others' approval, and he kept failing to receive outside encouragement. On the other hand, even though Amreek got some compliments from his Indian friends at work, he still wasn't happy as he could not change his ethnicity. Both father and son would Skype with each other in the evenings and drink a few pegs to share their pain.

Others' opinion. Misery. Opinion. Misery.

Then one day, like solid Punjab de patthe, both decided to karo hell with Monty te Mandeep and all the white girls.

"Paen de, nahi like karde te na karan. Assi kedha theka leya aa saareyan di khushi da. Te Amreek, tu bas etthe aaja ik vaari. Enni sohni kudi labhni tere layi, memaan nu pull jauga."

The paaji's soon figured that the only way to break from the vicious cycle was to not give a damn and kendi pump up the jam. Father and son worked hard to improve themselves, but found motivation in living better lives than in gaining outside approval. 

Vicious cycle broke. Happiness prevailed. Chalo, langar khaun chaliye Darbar Sahib te.

All's well that ends well. Except, can't get rid of this vicious cycle.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Jethani Nanad Saandu Saali

I’m really glad that India has a name for every relation. It’s helpful because living in a world with so many choices and personal preferences, it’s necessary to specify whether you like Coke, Fanta or Sprite. Ordering for just a soda and assuming another to know which one you are referring to would help only if you’re out on a date with David Blaine.

Relation-names like “bua”, “chacha” and “mama” make life easy in a lot of ways; primarily, by helping you unambiguously bad-mouth the rishtedaar’s without having to explain whether it’s the paternal side of the family or maternal that you are talking about. It’s much better than using the words “uncle” and “aunty”, which were once used to address all our neighbors - the same guys who are now better known as not-looking-in-your-direction.

I guess the only time when using such titles got weird was back in the day when our great-great-grandparents had a million children. It would so happen that a guy would have an odd chacha or mama who would be as old as him and be treated like a brother. He would unfairly use the comeback “chache pe haath utthata hai!” as an emotional card to ruin a game of wrestling when his bhatija would be choke slamming him on to the chaarpaai. Such instances of generation ambiguity have been gradually eradicated by the Government with their Hum Do Humare Do campaign. However, there is now a new issue that needs to be addressed.

As I approach my quarter-life crisis, I have begun to fear the relation-names I would be expected to use in a few years as the family of my cousins, siblings and myself expand. Here’s a little guide for all my future relatives who would expect me to address them by these names. I would request them to allow me to address them by their first names or give me some suggestions on words that would be both respectful and cool.

Bhabhi and Jija

With two elder cousins already married and a few others lined up for the phera’s, I am trying to deal with the idea of addressing a few new relatives as bhabhi and jija-ji, and it has not been a happy journey so far. It might make me look like Salman Khan from Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, but sorry, I do not wish to sing “bhabhi tum khushiyon ka khazana” for anyone. I mean, my kaam-wali-bai calls my mother “bhabhi” and does not look like Madhuri Dixit while she does so. Also, the word "bhabhi" reminds me of some comic books, which I am sure the bhaiya's of the world wouldn't want associated with their wives.

Coming to the jija, I do not think a simple modification in the form of "jiju" helps much. If I were to be someone's jija, I would loved to be called something like G-Jay, G-Meister or G-Spotter. Now that has a cool ring to it.


I don’t know if it is because I’ve grown up watching my mum cry while she’s watched daily soaps or something else, but you can hardly associate the words “saas” and “sasur” with anything even remotely nice. They automatically attach with themselves the image of a “bahu-ranidabao-ing the paer of her “saasu-ma”, or Govinda singing “suno sasur-ji, ab zidd chhodo” all so that he can marry Raveena Tandon. I mean, look at what it's worth!

If mummy-ji and daddy-ji don’t cut it for someone, I think “Sassy-Ma” and “Sasurosaurus” could be very cool alternatives.

P.S. Do Rajasthani women call their mothers-in-law "saasu-ma" or "saasu-sa"?


My biggest issue with “jethani” is that it reminds me of Ram Jethmalani. It’s great that he can do politics as well as what the title of a jethani demands, but it is not a pleasant picture to imagine him wearing a saree. Further, going purely by etymology, “devrani” accords an unfair bias towards the younger brother’s wife that is bound to result in kitchen feuds.

Also, who came up with the word “nanad” and why would you want to call your husband’s sister that? It sounds like what a person called Nandini would change her name to if she were to get a sex-change.

I think "sista-through-anotha-mista" would be quite cool instead.

Saandu and Saali

These are probably the only two words I would wish to retain, but I guess the family wouldn't let me. Would give anything to respectfully greet the wife's sister with a "Kya haal hai, saali?" and the saali's husband with, "Aur Saandu, aaj bada chamak raha hai."

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