Of Fabindia, mismatched blouses and pseudo-liberals

I’ve been rummaging my mother’s wardrobe for hours in search of a blouse to go with my Fabindia Kota saree. I need the two to be glaringly mismatched, like that Carnatic singer-cum-mini celebrity on my Instagram feed. My mother doesn’t seem to get the idea though.


 

My initial impression on Fabindia was made when at a literature fest in Delhi, I saw their brand worn by seemingly well-read women and girls ladies. I knew I was moved for life as I watched similarly dressed others on national television express vocally their critique/opinions on issues of the nation-state.

That’s when I decided I too would paint my life not with H&M or colors of Benetton. I was ready to embrace the Fabindia life – not only elegant, in vogue (and ridiculously overpriced) but also a sign of brains, wisdom and good taste. I mean, sure you’ve to wash them separately in shampoo but I don’t mind as long as I distinguish myself as an intellectual. The JNU kind.

The sari of course must be draped carefully to look careless enough. That somehow lets everyone know I stand for Indian culture and ethnic produce. And my solidarity with impoverished artisans.

All those ajrakh prints in indigo and maroon that are expensive enough to kill, but worth it because they announce my elite upper class or at least upper middle class status. Urban, classy, refined, English-educated and well-grounded with the Indian way of life. (Because I have an enriched vocabulary with phrases such as impoverished artisans etc).
To be worn with mismatched blouses – not because I can’t afford to match them (are you kidding me?) but because that’s the brand.
You know, that Fabindia look.

The stuff goes great with shades so I can step in and out of my (armchair) liberal look whenever I want to. You can stop judging me, at least I care about equality. And human rights.

Also, I paid for this shit.

I mean, this isn’t your 200/- kurta that was bought on a bargain off the streets, this was available only in 4 sizes catering to international standards, the smallest size available was still GIGANTIC for the native me to fit into but I still took it. I deserve some respect.

It’s almost sad how some alter them though – hand them over to tailors seated behind rusted sewing machines. If all you wanted was for the clothing to fit, you might as well have shopped at Max. But of course I support individual’s right to choices (now that I don my liberal attire). One should shop wherever they want to.

My Fabindia style was also inspired by a certain left-leaning uncle, who happens to be a women-empowerment evangelist. Back in the day he had my aunt quit her job to feed his insatiable stomach three times a day. I mean, food is important you know? Fabindia hangs loose and comfy against his throbbing skin on blood that’s boiling for (other) women’s rights.

I haven’t been to Sarojini Nagar since I got my first fat paycheck – the chaotic air and the crowd slathering their sweaty bodies against mine isn’t worth it, I realized. Again, I’m too busy attending the meet-up/litfests I mentioned before. Now I’m one of them.

Although I admit I have heard awful things being accused of the Fabindian style – ‘not everybody can afford it’. But come on it’s affordable for almost all, I cry.

All except the impoverished artisans. And you.

I mean if everyone could afford it, I would go unnoticed in a sea of kalamkari weaves and ajrakh prints – that isn’t the status symbol I pay for. I seem to have mentioned classy, make that class-marker, shall we.

The other day, an ambitious junior walked into my cubicle while I was browsing through the website catalog on my PC. “That seems like a reasonable price for a Fabindia kurta. I can finally afford one myself”, she seemed delighted.

“Dear”, I tell her, genuinely apologetic and squishing a fly that as its final bad decision landed on my 9k Kota sleeve. “That’s the price of the dupatta the model’s wearing with the kurta, not the kurta itself”, I had to explain to the poor girl (no pun intended).
Thank god Fabindia upholds its values.

Hopefully she knows she can buy an entire wardrobe at Sarojini market for that money (make that four).
The dyes from both places are going to run out when you wash their clothes anyway.


I hit “post” on my new Instagram picture captioned “Couldn’t find a blouse to match but this doesn’t look too bad does it?” hashtag ethnic hashtag handloom hashtag Indian fashion.
Afterthought : I feel qualified enough now to add hashtag human rights. Another picture, maybe.

 

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Dear UPSC –

IMG_20170626_132622.jpgFrom UPSC Prelims Paper – 2017

When you read Statement No. 3 and wonder :

  • Was that sarcasm?
  • Or maybe it’s UPSC’s way of presenting to students a light-hearted moment in the middle of a stressful test?
  • WAAAAIT, is this a tactic to screen for anti/nationalist tendencies? If so, screen in or out? Omg, has the day come?

Answer is option (a), good to know that was uncalled for. Or maybe it’s a screening out process 😀

For those who want to know how my test went, maybe I’ll write about it in another post. One exam joke is quite enough for a day. Here’s the full paper –

Civil Services Preliminary Paper 1 (General Studies) – 2017

How I Made It To the IAS

Disclaimer : This is a grossly misleading account of how I, a non-existent guy, made it to a non-existent service. Kindly do not take it to heart or mind or soul. More importantly, do not hunt me down.

This article is a standalone piece on my path to IAS aka Indian Acronyms Service, a new pseudo- All India Service created and tailored to suit the needs of the present government. If you came here looking for the Indian Administrative Service as I’m sure most of you did, I have to tell you this here is THE NEW bomb right now.

Did you really think the catchy acronymic names of government schemes with no-nonsense fullforms grew on trees (GoT)? It is a result of our Pact (Persistent And unprecedented Creative Talent) and Stuff (Sunny Times Under Football & Fun) and Shit (Shit Has no Ixpansion Though), and not putting together random words as many think it to be.

So here goes.

Getting into IAS is a 3 step process, a lot like the all India services, but not really.

STAGE 1 : The Preliminary Test

Although the competition isn’t as high as for the Civil Service test, I’m sure once this article is out, the number of job applicants will increase by tenfold if not more. The syllabus is pretty much the same which is everything under the sun. This is to ensure that even if somebody (more often than not) mistakes us to be an officer from the Administrative Service, which we usually tend to not rectify, we should be a convincing one at the least.

The exam itself is 50% LUCK, 50% Hardwork and 50% Qualifying Math which I’m naturally good at. I’d say another 25% part is played by political correctness.

For eg: What is SCAM?

(a) Save Country from Amit shah and Modi
(b) SP, Congress, Akhilesh and Mayawati
(c) Both (a) & (b)
(d) I support Jayalalithaa

Like I mentioned, this is not really an all India service to be apolitical.

I owe a lot of my success to Luck (Look Up online in Case of Konanders). For those that don’t know, it’s an app allowed in the exam hall, accessible only to those who voted Yes when MyGov asked “Do you support demonetisation?”

STAGE 2 : The Mains exam (written)

Pro-tip: Squeeze in at least one acronym in every sentence possible, the more it annoys the reader the better. Flaunt your creativity, even if you have none.

This is where they test your skills in balanced articulation, neutered criticism, etc (Exemplary Tailwagging to Central policies). Diplomacy here is key (Kickass Excellence in Your test). Okay I’ll stop that shit.

STAGE 3 : The Personal Interview

This has to be the toughest stage, what with the mental pressure et al (Every Two minutes At the Loo). Present in my interview board was who I will call MPD or Mere Pyare Deshvasiyon (not in the least cos naming him might get me in trouble)’s hologram.

I fainted out of sheer awe at the mere sight of it him.

“Would you like some nariyal juice?” a behind-the-scenes guy ran to me and asked.

“You mean nariyal PAANI, yes please,” I croaked. I knew the panel was impressed. Your degree of political correctness has to be breath-taking, even when your own breath has taken off.

“So tell us, since you fainted et al, why do you admire MPD?”

“Because he is a man with a big heart, sir.”

“Oh you have seen his MRI Scans?”

“Well what do you think the 56 inch chest houses then? Aloo gobi? It’s his BIG heart. I’m sorry to say (SOS), but you sound anti-national (ANAL).” The rest of the panel turned to him, fuming. I thought my job was done.

“Here’s my Adhar, and here’s my screensaver” – it was a cow Gomaatha, “I have a Jio Sim and I only use PayTM.” “Tch tch, sorry we misunderstood”.

“Well. Back to you. What do you think of India’s demographic dividend and our rising population?”

“Sir, when the Army officers and BSF jawans are working day and night at Siachen so that the country sleeps peacefully at night, I do believe people should just sleep peacefully at night, instead of contributing their share to the population. It is the least we could do”.

“Actually…,” the HR member cut in.

SHIT, I knew there had been a technical glitch. Wasn’t India’s population actually stabilizing? I’d fallen into their pit.

“… you do know that babies can be made during the daytime (DAD)?” Well thank god.

“Sir, perhaps if we could make a policy to empower moral policing groups in the context of PvtDA, as it already is legalized in case of PDA, that’s when India would really shine, and that is how India will become digital.”

I knew I was almost there. The cherry on top coming up.

“Or we could play the National Anthem in loudspeakers in every locality every few hours, that’ll terrify them out of their wits, and beds.”

At this, the 56-inch torso’ed hologram got up on his legs, and said, “YOU. YOU will join my Kitchen Cabinet on Monday.”

“But sir, I don’t have a degree in Political Science, I can hardly cook.”

“I’m sure we can do something about that,” said the HR guy. He was already on the phone  – “Yes it’s me again, we’ll need another couple of certificates.”


Like I said, the interview is a little unconventional, but if you get through, you’re a quasi-public servant/IAS officer. You also get a Jio subscription for lifetime complementary.

I soon got married to a rich businessman’s daughter on account of my job title *wink*. She almost kicked me out when she found  what the ‘A’ stood for. Her mother was about to hurl at me my beloved miniature figurine of UN-adjudged ‘The Most Charming PM in The World’ (kuch bhi) when I remembered and yelled, “The car! I still get the car! With the red beacon!”

“OH! Well why didn’t you say so in the first place, son? Come on in,” my mother-in-law beckoned.

Indian parents.

 

PS : This was written after I learnt what PRASAD stands for. I mean seriously.

Shopping with Shoplifters

Self-explanatory featured images/titles ruin blogs.

I was at EasyDay today – the store I visit only when I cannot find stuff on BigBasket/ZopNow/at the corner shop that sells Parachute Oil and JimJam cream biscuits, because the queue at their counter kills the last bit of shopping glee. I am not a shopaholic – every time I come across something, I tend to check my bag’s compartment into which I’ve shoved all my notes and coins, my Maestro & metro cards, my Apollo Pharmacy card and Pious Achan’s visiting card, subtracting and summing prices in my tiny brain that slowly shuts down as it plays toils with numbers.

I sift through every shelf, spending a significant amount of time on the Bathing Bars rack to read and compare the prices, making economic decisions and reveling in the grownup-ness of it. I’ve been doing this since I was in Class 12 and I’m not yet sure if there’s anything grownupy about it or maybe I just like reading labels.

Especially creative one-liners like ‘Enjoy the biscuity flavor of this biscuit.’

I whiff at every offer, every Save Rs.5/Buy 1 Get 1 Free, before picking my Laundry Freshener and Shower Gel and Toothpaste and Real/Tropicana and Sugar, because you can’t compromise on other stuff in the grocery list.

So I was near the toothbrush rack when I noticed that a couple next to me had been fiddling with some thing for sometime, considerable whisper exchanges and giggles included. I glanced to see it was condoms. Perhaps they were uncomfortable in a stranger’s presence, who was most certainly only concerned about the 14 rupees she’d be saving by picking a Colgate toothbrush instead of Sensodyne and not with the flavor of the condom they were choosing, but how’d they know that?

Being the considerate co-shopper, I slowly shifted to the Shampoo and Conditioners rack and spent quality time with the tubes and bottles (I’m a very engrossed kinda person, don’t ask me to do things for fun or to wait until a condom-picking couple leaves, I’ll end up doing it seriously), making my way through NEW YEAR BONANZA OFFERS.

Which is when the girl shuffled, and into her jeans’ tight front pocket (the struggle is real) she squeezed what looked like tiny condom sachets and brisked out of the shop, the guy following closely after.

After mindboggling questions of Why would anybody steal condoms which come at like Rs.5 (I’m told, of course), and the more surprising realization of OH YOU CAN ACTUALLY STEAL STUFF HERE, I went back to my modest economics.

Guilty of not reporting the crime I’d witnessed.

Or maybe it was foreplay. I’ll never know.

CONDOMS.png

Finally starting My Blog

Final year/semester of B.Tech –

You realize you don’t want to work an IT job or a Core job or any jobby job for that matter. Babies aren’t really your thing, they cry too much, would somebody pay you to take care of puppies? You realize you are now 21, you will be 22 in a couple of months and you’ve been spending the last 4 years (almost like a fifth of your life) in a subject that you don’t want anything to do with after graduation. You have no clue as to what to do after the 4 months of college that’s left. You realize you’ve practically wasted years of academics that could’ve been effectively spent studying something you actually like. You realize you don’t even know what that something you actually like is. You have no idea what to do with your life. You panic.

No, the last para isn’t about you, it’s all me. “You” just sounded better than “I”. So I had, um, a couple of mild and severe panic attacks in the past semester, but I’ve come to develop a certain mechanism to handle them which works fairly well. Except the two times that I had to be quarantined.

Step 1: Notify all my closest friends that I’m worried/confused/close to a cardiac arrest when I think of the future.

Step 2: Listen to what they have to say, mostly involves “same here” if the friend is doing B.Tech, “so are most of the others” if not.

Step 3: Calm down. (You are not alone is the best therapy ever). Sleep, wake up forgetting all the exasperating shit, go back to my life till the panic sets in another day.

Now, this is how I take my life decisions. Oh wait I haven’t taken any for myself. Either way it’s a ritual to consult her before tough ones and also after I screw up everything. Mostly because I never listen, still.

Screenshot_2015-12-22-00-58-55.pngThis is a pretty emotional moment for me, posting a Whatsapp screenshot in public. Yes, the convo’s been scrolled to a strategic point so that the (more) embarrassing stuff can’t  be seen.

Which is when I remembered about my TRUSTMEYOUREALIVE – name of my blog- that’s been dead since it was last alive.  Okay so I’ll confess I created this blog back in 2014 when I wrote something new after quite sometime and wanted someplace fancy to post it. I mean like a page just for like an article is like fancy, no?

This time, I decided to listen to Miriam after all. Blogging’s free and I could always read it later to myself, if nobody else does.

Special thanks to my brother(s) who bought me my new lap which is pretty much the only reason I’m here cos time and again, I’d thought of posting random stuff I’d written but the idea of sitting in front of the PC in my First floor hall on the molded plywood chair and typing it out made me drop it. Wow, I really need to start writing shorter sentences.

So here’s hoping I start writing online regularly :D. (OK AMMA, whether online or not doesn’t matter as long as I’m writing!)

PS: Sorry if the beginning of this post misled you into thinking it’s about handling panic attacks or life decisions even.

PPS: This was meant to be a teeny-weeny post of max 200 characters. Sorry for the long intro, you may now continue reading nonsense elsewhere.

Mind Your Own Pickle

Here I present before you the story of X, a typical South Indian middle class boy .(‘X’ so that I don’t have to keep repeating names like Ramesh, Suresh, Subramaniam, Gopalakrishnankutty etc but guess I missed the point already). So, X made and sold pickle all day and all night. Yes, it was the love of his life and he enjoyed every bit of it. How on earth does that fit into the ‘typical’ definition, you point out. Yes, yes, I’m coming to that, thou disrupted souls. Everything will be made right.

Once, X was at a funeral with his parents. Seeing this happy guy (the alive one, I mean), every one of his relatives who never had anything to do with him, didn’t have any idea what his name was, who naturally and understandably would be most enthusiastic about his career, felt compelled to offer free advice to his extremely irresponsible parents who let their son live jauntily with utmost disregard for his future (?).

A hitherto never before-seen relative uncle (who would henceforth never be seen again) approached his parents. “Pickle?!you mean ACHAAR?! How idiotic is that!”
“But maama, X loves making pickle. He’s super happy”.
“Happy?! Who wants to be happy making pickle?”
“Um. Me?” a disgruntled X muttered, confused.
“You should make him get a B.tech. What’s a boy without a B.tech these days?!”
“What? :o” his parents asked, curious.
“NOTHING!” he barked. “Are they providing food here? Miserly relatives these days, not many do, you know! No respect for the deceased or what? Let me go ask if there’s chicken”. He dashed to the dead man’s kitchen.

“Amma, I don’t have enough marks for B.Tech admissions. I’m a just pass, 41. You need a 50 for B.Tech”. X couldn’t believe this was happening.
“That rule’s coming into action only next year onwards. YOU LUCKY GUY!” the uncle beamed emerging from the kitchen, victorious, tearing off a fried chicken’s legs with his teeth.

Back at home, X begged the Gods (though I doubt they had anything to do with it) to know why on earth he couldn’t have been born a year later.
“Imagine our X having wasted his entire life with pickles! That man’s a lifesaver! Who is he, btw? He should be worshipped!”
“I’m on it!” X’s mom, who never missed a chance to worship anyone, opened her Facebook and found her homepage deluged with the previous day’s funeral pictures. And right there he was! Their saviour posing with the cadaver! She frantically clicked the Like button and had his photo printed, framed and hung next to the rest of her Gods in her Pooja room.

X on the other hand, packed his bags, and off he went to college. Sitting in class, he noticed how everyone looked similar to him. He soon realized it was cos they were all guys :D. Some were there to fulfil their parents’ -obviously- unfulfilled dreams, to some it was a stepping stone to a Ph.D at MIT, some pursuing the love of their lives (which to his horror X soon figured was a reference to Mechanical Engineering). He had to cram his brain, pockets, sleeves, shoes and any place undetectable to the staff with notes to get through exams.

Second year saw X entering the labs. As he rotated the wheel of the Francis turbine, he imagined processed apple pickle pouring out the delivery pipe. “This is the strainer at the foot of the pump”, the instructor explained. “There goes the essence of it. We’ll just have to use squashed apples then”, X replied, much to the bewilderment of his labmates.
He fantasized all day about constructing a machine that churned out pickle (If this were a hyperbolically written unrealistic satirical tale, trust me I would totally make him make one. Alas!)
Soon his hostel mates recognised the treasure that he was and with their support he resumed preparing pickle again.

Luckily for him, his pickles became popular in a jiffy. Infact, he was surprised at the rising demand for them from men’s hostels all around the city. “You should try it with Rasam, tastes awesome”, he suggested. “We have something better”, the pickle-buyer winked at an unsuspecting X.

Meanwhile the Student Health Club members protested against the exorbitant levels of sugar and salt used in the pickle. Grabbing the opportunity, the USA sued X for high rates of obesity there followed by surges in sales here, to the discontent of SHC (abbreviated club name but guess I’m missing the point again).

X’s pickles yielded unexpected results all about him. Around the college, attendance in classes went down as sales of soda and certain other commodities went up. As a discussion was opened in the Economics class as to the causes for this, someone suggested that law of variable proportions was at play when someone else shouted,”X’inte achaar thanne saar!” And as reality dawned on X, his world (he thought) came crashing down. Was he to be expelled? Would his parents disown him now? What if the uncle that had inceptioned the whole idea in his parents’ heads adopted him? He contemplated suicide.

However, here’s what really happened: the Dean being a fancier of pickles himself (no insinuations intended), asked X for samples. Thoroughly impressed by them, he let X open a counter at the college store, imposing restrictions on the supply nonetheless. Soon, curd rice and X’s pickle became a staple at the college canteen and his parents were informed of their son’s exploits.

Two years later, proud parents watched as X received the award for the best Final Year project design – a hydraulic machine that chopped, crushed and pickled anything you poured into it.(I told you that was coming).

After successfully completing his B.Tech, he came across a never before-seen aunty who, you bet, won’t ever be seen again either.
“Mone GPA ethra und? Namukk ini oru Mtech oke edukkande?” (“What’s your GPA son? Shouldn’t we take that M.Tech now?”)
“CHAKKAPAZHAM! (JACKFRUIT!)” he blurted out.
“Eh”
“..Vechoru achaar undakkunnundu! Auntykku veno?” (“I’m making a pickle out of it. Would you like some, Aunty?”) 😀

Moral of the story: You may like pickle. You may even love pickle. So make a career out of it, or not. But more importantly, stay the hell away from shit you don’t know shit about.