Sunday, November 28, 2010

What is the need to speak for Arundhati Roy?

Medusa does not want to have to defend Arundhati Roy- and there are two reasons for it. One: she is perfectly capable of defending herself (just take a look at the impassioned note from Kashmir after the first rumours of sedition charges started- and ignore the overtly sappy nature of the thing); second: Medusa does not always agree with her.

In fact, more than disagreeing, as someone who is constantly trying to figure out the meaning of what is it to be an academic and an activist, an intellectual and a participant in mass movements, Medusa finds Roy's positions to be more often than not, disconcerting. She is like the Shahrukh Khan of people's movements: lending her star presence to movements while not being organically connected to any of them. She has been to Narmada, to Nandigram, and now, to Kashmir.

Given that, being an organic intellectual, is not the sine qua non for having an opinion, and expressing it. And if you are as beautiful, articulate, and famous as Roy is, it at times becomes a moral imperative to express it, because if you do it, it makes news. Prime time, English daily news.

And that is what makes it imperative on the Delhi High court to cry for charges of sedition. It gets quickly sidelined that they implicate Geelani- one who has been talking about Kashmir for ever, and one who gets the shoe thrown at him, as well. Roy makes the headline, and both her supporters and detractors cry themselves hoarse. As a fellow curly- haired person medusa is stunned at the comicality of it all- after all "sedition"? Is this the same Indian state whose fervent attempts to decolonize its past, nevertheless provides it with a blinkered vision where colonial laws are good while it keeps out the "deviants"?

The "Sesh Kotha" by Suman Mitra in the latest issue of Desh advises the readers that "It is best for Democracy to ignore them (the likes of Roy)". The page-long article compares Roy to Jane Fonda who was "rightly" ignored by Richard Nixon when she kept on protesting against the Vietnam war. By conflating Kashmir with Vietnam, and the Indian government with Nixon, the writer make his ideological underpinnings clear; but he leaves medusa wondering, why is it so easy for the champions of the nation-state, of textbook-ish understanding of democracy and the supposed anti-fundamentalists to be so righteous all the time? Who answers for the fundamentalism of self-righteousness: both in Roy and her detractors like the one just mentioned?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Reading and reflecting on the fat studies reader- one

Medusa has always been fat. Ever since she can remember, visitng shoe stores and shops that sell clothes have always been the stuff that nightmares are made of. While the polite Marwari shopkeepers would tell her parents that since “baby is healthy, she needs a size bigger than the others of her age”, the not-so-polite Bengali ones will tell her parents that fat children need clothes that fit older kids.

As a result she always wore frocks that reached her ankles, and jeans that had to be rolled up ten times.

Shoes were something else. She remembers walking down the length and breadth of College Street with mater, looking for a pair of shoes that will fit her, and coming up with zilch. Mater screaming and shouting, humiliated by the shoe-store assistants who would either take one look at her feet and claim that they did not have her size, or try and wrestle her feet into impossibly small pairs and insist that they fit.

So, consider medusa’s amazement when she recently went back to photos of herself when she was at school. She saw a young girl who was no-fatter and no-thinner than most of her peers, a very active young girl who used to dance and debate, take part in every damn thing that happened at school, found the time to study and fall in love repeatedly, play games and often win races, and fill notebooks with gibberishes of an average teenager’s life.

So what happened? How did this active young girl make herself believe that she was the fattest of everyone she knew?

At this ripe old age, medusa has been advised by all medical practitioners, starting from the GP to the gynecologist, the endocrinologist and the dermatologist that she needs to lose weight, ASAP. The first thing that most people say to her when they meet her is either “you’ve lost so much weight” or “have you put on a bit of weight”?

But do they know of the conspiracy that they are part of, that is driven by the multi million dollar weight loss industries and pharmaceutical companies, that tend to look at fat as merely a health hazard and not a fact of life?

Have they ever heard of “Health at Every Size”? Truth be told, Medusa hadn’t either till this day, but now that she is reading the Fat Studies reader, many more such awesome things are waiting to be found out.

So, more on this, as Medusa continues to find out fascinating stuff.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Jobless In Bombay day 3

Medusa's in Bombay, supposedly looking after little sister. but weirdest things do happen, little sister seems to have become capable of looking after herself, feeding herself, reaching work on time and even commute in a strange city. and she seems to be doing it all with a lot more confidence than medusa, when medusa does venture out of the sanctuary that her friend's place affords her.

the little that she's seen of Bombay, marks it as a city of apartment buildings and shops. obviously, there must be houses and other things, but apartment buildings, in all kinds of shapes and sizes crowd her vision when she looks out of the 5th floor flat in Andheri where her friend stays. the 11th floor flat at Marol where her sister is, is nestled between similar flats on all sides, and sister claims that the only view she gets from her office at Malad is one of apartment blocks.

funny thing is, medusa doesn't like houses. ideally she would love to live in a hostel/ hotel type arrangement, where if the light bulb is fused you can go to the technical section and get them to fix it, where the cleaning of bathrooms and corridors are done by others without you having to open the door for them, or even having to buy cleaning supplies, where the only thing she needs to care about is whether privacy is guaranteed once she shuts the door.
think about it, you don't have to go beyond the next couple of rooms for friends. food or company; in a hostel, people are awake almost at all hours, and such close proximity of people ensures that you have computer wizards, film collectors and ace chefs close at hand.

yes, this is medusa's wishful longing for life at the university, even though she hated it and thought that she had grown beyond it, while she was here full-time, but now that she comes for fleeting visits and fully immerses herself in the process of discussing anything and everything, along with the likelihood of bitching about people, she never wants to go back.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

hot and bothered

Last night Medusa came back from work all hot and sweaty, fuming and cursing. she had been travelling since three in the afternoon, in what ought to be a pleasant monsoon weather, but instead is blinding, scorching, sweat-inducing summer. medusa cursed all those who never have to trek for ten minutes in the heart of the industrial wasteland, where there is no shade, and only heat, she abused those who do not travel at the back of a "super", which prides itself in travelling at break-neck speed, and therefore filling its occupants with a maximum of iron dust and industrial pollution. not to mention the sun. the blinding, head-aching sun.

and when she reached home, there was no power. presumably because at this unexpected heat wave the use of ACs had gone up again. fat load of good a power cut does. those who had been taking much earned rest after a long day slaving in front of computers at an air conditioned office, having travelled to and fro in air conditioned vehicles, would simply use up some more fossil fuel and keep the AC on.

How will they ever know the the pleasure of having one's own sweat trickle down one's back, making the bed and the pillow soak, when one's hanky gets wetter than an wet tissue, and the gloom cast by the absence of electric light?

Medusa knows that individual actions of eco-friendly-ness will not stop the downward spiral in which the earth's weather seems to have gone. but what is to be done? it seems so bloody hopeless that ranting about the bourgeoisie who take taxis and use ACs brings about more pleasure than harping on and on about nameless-faceless individuals and interests that control corporations.

in the meantime, the temperatures rise. you may control the weather that you live in, but can you control the weather in which your food is grown? and if you can't, then aren't you and medusa in the same sinking boat, and shouldn't you be doing something about it?

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Rajneeti= Mahabharata + The Godfather

It seems Nikhat Kazmi said it before Medusa did, but Medusa did figure it out all by herself, and had immense fun figuring out which character in the film corresponds to which one in which epic, because yes, even The Godfather is an epic.

Medusa can name half a dozen people who draw a large part of their insights from the Godfather, the book, and she herself is one of them. She's not going do the rounds of the quotable quotes, instead, talk a bit about how the Godfather parts of the film makes it smarter and catchier than the Mahabharata parts do.

To start with, brothers and in the second generation, cousins fight with each other in their desire to control the politics of a state, one flanked by the Dalit Ajay Devgan, and the other by the so called uncle- Nana Patekar. Most of the cast manages to die, how, Medusa's not too sure about the details, since as soon as she understood someone was going to die (which she did every time, after all she does know her Godfather) she closed her eyes to that condition that makes her afraid of anticipation of violence and misery on screen. In the end, there was the pretty Katrina, now the chief minister of the state, by virtue of being a political widow, and Ranbir Kapoor- the Michael Corleone meets Arjuna.

Some things never change though: Katrina still can not act or do anything to save her life, apart from look pretty, and my gawd, she is pretty. Medusa doesn't figure what the hype was all about though, given that she's doesn't occupy much footage in the film. Manoj Bajpayee continues to be an awesome actor, and its great to see him after so long, as does Nana Patekar. Ajay Devgan does his usual, intense and wronged young man act, while Arjun Rampal looks so young and thin, one wonders what all torture his body and face must have had to go through. ( BUT HE DOES LOOK VERY VERY HOT). Ranbir does what he had to do, look serious and deliver dialogues.

The pleasant surprise was how the director/ screen writer, made Ranbir' American girlfriend play the parts of both Michael's first girl friend and second wife Kay Adams and his Italian wife, Apollonia; making her the only voice of concern/ ethics in the middle of all this plotting and killing, as well as killing her off slightly unnecessarily.

In short, the hall was houseful and the crowd seemed to love it. Medusa liked it, and might as well recommend it.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

This post could start fairly predictably, claiming April to be the cruelest month. Except for the fact that April is past, the calendar's well into may, but the summer refuses to become less cruel. So much so, that there is a new word doing the rounds of newspaper weather reports, "discomfort level", calculated on the basis of maximum temperature and relative humidity, and one can say stuff like "yesterday's discomfort level was at 67.5". However, since when did mere numbers manage to sum up experiences?One of medusa's recent favourite songs go something like this:
"Strawberries, cherries and an angel's kiss in spring,
MY summer wine is really made from all these things"
And you've got to hear it to really feel it, it reminds you of a season that's almost mythical in its vegetable bounty, the fruits and the produce. the bright green leaves coming out after they had all fallen off during the winter.....
Kind of like this
bright, and cheerful.
The reality is however stark! Its filled with itches, heat rashes, acne, sweat and stomach upsets, with loss of appetite, lack of sleep, power cuts, a complete disruption of movement during the daytime, thanks to the sun, and a complete all-consuming desire for the liquid, the cool, the cold, the rain.
fantasies of a sea beachMedusa wants to go somewhere, away from this heat and heart/head ache, where the sun doth shine, but a trifle mildly.

p.s. the photographer suffers in this heat worse than medusa has ever seen anyone suffer, and medusa wishes to take the photographer away, where they'll eat, drink and make merry in the gentle breeze, feel the trickle of cool water in their toes and soak in the rain.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

count the number of bangles in medusa's collection while she goes and wrestles the heat!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

This is what Medusa stumbled upon last November at the old New Market. Of course, the new market is merely another name for the S. S. Hogg market, and the old new market is the one which got burnt some decades ago, and was rebuilt. And the new new market is the one that was built next to, which is multi-storeyed, and lacks the circular structure of the old one, where all lanes converge into the small space in the middle that housed the canon that gets filled with christmas bling, come the end of the year.
But medusa digresses. Keep aside ruminations on the charms of the old new market, medusa's fascination with it can fill many many blog posts. instead, let medusa direct her attention towards this fine mannequin and the finer pieces of lingerie on display, complete with the price tag and all. also note the handbill-type piece of paper that very delicately covers the dummy's decolletage.
but, the more interesting thing to ponder is, why is the mannequin lit? Is it lit in order to display the lingerie best, given that part of it is transparent, and wont leave much to the imagination? and the lit dummy demonstrates exactly how much it reveals?
Medusa's gray cells can not solve the mystery behind this lighting fixture. can you?

Sunday, April 04, 2010

the unthinkable

Medusa has done the unthinkable, and also the most embarrassing. While trying to follow one of the followers of her blog, she managed to follow herself :-( and doesn't know to get out of it.
And, doesn't know how to view the web pages of her followers, of that of anyone else's followers either. when she clicks on their icons/photos, all she gets is a list of the sites they have joined, and a link that encourages her to send a message to them.
so, basically, this post is a plea for help. help medusa figure out how to follow the followers.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Nail polish of the week

Thanks to complete and utter joblessness and acute, all-consuming boredom, medusa has fashioned a new weekly blog post which promises to consist of the outrageous colour that medusa and her sister wear on their nails that week.
So here you are, dear reader, the nail polish of the week:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A lot, and medusa means A LOT, of people ask medusa, now that she's rich and still living off her parents, what does she do with her money? How come she has no savings, no bank account and no properties? In the following few lines, medusa attempts to offer a few explanations.
See, the primitive place where she works, medusa gets paid in cash in a brown envelop, in cash. she brings it home, all 159 kms, and puts it on the top shelf of her parents' almirah. then, as and when she needs money, she takes money out of that envelop.
and buys:

untill the envelop is empty and its time for the next pay envelop.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

throat ache

medusa's throat aches. it ached last night and it is aching tonight. atleast it s better than a heartache. and waaaay better than a tooth ache.
when medusa was doing her MA, one prof told the class how once when he was travelling in Italy (yeah, medusa knows, show off!) , he was suddenly doubled up with acute pain. but he dint know what the pain was, or what the cause of the pain was . that's something about pains, the pain in itself is never considered to be the problem. the problem is always something more deep-rooted, something else. the pain is merely the symptom, as a friend put it today, the real reason lies elsewhere, and eradicating it, will help eradicate the pain.
anyway, as usual medusa digresses. anyway, so this prof did not know what the pain he was experiencing was. and he had to visit a doctor proceeded to tell him that he was suffering from a toothache. the prof was using the example to explain to us how all knowledge, including knowledge that is experiential, is built on knowledge that is pre-existent.
obviously medusa disagreed with him. medusa thought, "what kind of a dumbass doesn't know his tooth is aching when his tooth aches?"
but, medusa had spoken too soon. four years later when she had an ache, she thought she had caught a cold and so something in the thorat/ ear region was aching. so she proceeded to drink a lot of warm water over the next week, but then the ache did not go down. so she covered her ear and lay on her right side to keep it warm. even then the ache did not go. then she went to an ENT, by the end of the third week, who rushed her to a dentist and she had to get a root canal done. she had to bow to the superior intelligence of her prof then.
now that there is yet another throat ache, medusa is kinda concerned.

Monday, February 22, 2010

it hurts so much that for once it seems easier to abandon the third person narrative. it seems impossible to hide behind medusa, now that most certainties have been dismissed and all uncertainties and fears have come true.
have always known self to hurt physically when sad. but this time beats all other previous times. i walk in a haze of headaches, slow, dull throbbing behind the forehead, inability to look at anything that is bright, or hear anything that is loud. things around me appear to be covered in some kind of dull powdery grains that shrivel up to my touch. my unhappiness hangs around me like a limp curtain that i can touch, but never move.
had always prided self on being able to sleep sadness off, but now can no longer sleep. waking up means headaches, but still, every morning is a battle with wakefulness, the attempt to hold on to the comfort and safety of pillows and blankets, the need to quench the all-consuming thirst without getting off the bed.
i'm thirsty, and aching.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

fat flat feet

its time to be brutal with herself.
for the past six weeks, which have been the busiest in her life, alternating between the industrial wasteland and weddings, either starving or over eating delicious fatty food, medusa has been diligently trying to shop for the perfect pair of shoes. actually, the perfect couple of pairs. one has to keep her feet covered (given the sticky nature of the red, heavy dust that settles over everything in the industrial wasteland) and the other has to make her feet look elegant, to go with the very expensive sarees she was to be wearing at the wedding.
in the process, she has bought four pairs in the last four weeks, and tried on several of the sixteen pairs she brought back with her from the university. but each one of them, with the sole exception of the oshos, hurt her feet.

The very expensive woodlands floaters hurt both her little toes, the almost as expensive bata sneakers hurt her big toes, some weird colour comes off everytime she tries to wear the cheap khadims slippers, and the very cheap bata slippers that she bought from the men's section hurt the top of her feet. they were also responsible for her spraining her ankle the day before the grand wedding reception party of her cousin, in which medusa had to lug a 6kg heavy saree with a sprained ankle. the very pretty slippers that kaatib gifted, alas do not fit her anymore. and today, medusa went out and bought yet another pair, before hitting the weighing machine near the shoe shop.
and that's when the realization hit. the shoe shops haven't all become more insensitive to bigger women, they continue to be as insensitive as they used to be, medusa has only gotten bigger. her feet have gotten bulkier, the ankles now resemble those of a football player- so much so that her pretty anklets now resemble ankle-cuffs. her cheeks have been bugling for quite sometime, but medusa thought that was because her eyes had been sinking inwards, and she has taken to really filling out all her clothes, in fact filling them so much that bits and pieces, more like lumps and bumps, have started sticking out.

with great sadness medusa announces that she's try to lose weight, from tomorrow.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

this hopefully wiil be the first in what proposes to be medusa's maiden (couldn't resist the alliteration eh? ) venture into food blogging. the reason: since reading about food is so delightful, couldn't it be equally awesome to write it too?
kidding! medusa likes to take pictures of food, and relive moments of gastro-visual delight, an what better way to put it up on the blog?
this is a shot of biscuits piled up in one of the back lanes of New Market, the place medusa goes to burn money.
some thoughts on biscuits: medusa doesn't like them, unless they are covered in/ filled with chocolate or some salty-spicy mixture that rubs against the upper palate and after 500gms or so, causes medusa to wince with every bite. medusa just doesn't get the whole coffee/tea +biscuit in the morning deal. medusa's family acts as if they'd get heart attacks unless medusa takes a bite of some tasteless marie biscuit and burn the tip of her tongue sipping some heavily sugared tea.
medusa insists, what is the big deal? why is it difficult to wake up/ take a crap/ speak/ and even at times, brush, without the tea and biscuit. there is something seriously warped in the socialization of these people whose parents did not think twice about getting them addicted to such warm beverages while morally scoffing at far more exciting counterparts like a fag/ booze.