The Shoe Story

If you thought shopping for shoes was an easy-breezy task, you definitely haven’t been in a girl’s shoes (pun intended).

A girls wardrobe is not complete without a couple of pairs of heels, formal black shoes, a pair or few of pumps, a pair of sports shoes, flip flops, a pair of sandals may be, one pair of converse shoes and at least a pair of knee length boots.  Oh yes, and those quintessential house slippers! This means that every couple of months you are either buying a new pair or replacing that old, tattered one. No sooner than you think that you are well stocked, and that you won’t need to buy any more shoes for a year now (hah! like that is possible), a heel decides to snap or you happen to spill soup on your suede shoes (oh yeah, that happens!) or the leather on the boots starts wearing off or something of that sort happens and you are queuing the mall yet again.

A new expenditure is staring in your face. You reason, you argue with yourself for a wee while; thinking to yourself: do I really need a new pair right now, can I manage without that for now, don’t I have many others to fill the gap; can I postpone this for a few months? You realise you are being frivolous and scold yourself for being so shallow. You remind yourself that this is not the end of the world and there are less fortunate people who don’t have even a single pair. You decide to put off that purchase for now. You momentarily feel better about yourself.

A day or two after, the thought of ‘that missing pair’ hasn’t left your mind for a second. It haunts you.  You find yourself staring at other peoples’ shoes in the office and pitying yourself for not having ‘that particular’ type of shoe in your wardrobe.  You feel that your life will be perfect, if only you have that type in your wardrobe.

You are not able to decide on your own, so you seek your husband’s approval. It costs money after all. You want him to tell you that you deserve another pair. That it is only right, that the broken pair of black heels be replaced immediately. He knows too well from experience that he shouldn’t try reasoning with you and telling you that you have enough pairs of shoes. And he definitely doesn’t want to be given a guilt trip yet again for denying you another justified pair of shoes. You somehow trick him into saying yes.

But if only the story ended there! Finding a perfect pair is never easy. Sizes vary from company to company. The shoe is always a little too big or a little too small. And then, there ALWAYS are those painful, and ugly shoe bites to deal with. And it takes a pro to walk in those heels. It is no mean task. They hurt, they pinch, they bite but you can let none of that show on your face. After a lot of practice, you will perfect the expression. The one that says that the heel is a natural extension of your feet and it feels no different. That you can walk, run and dance in your heels just like you would in your bare feet.

Finally, when you do find a pair that fits like a glove, it feels like winning a battle. You come home feeling you found the perfect ones, only to realise after struggling in them a day or two that they don’t fit well at all. They gather dust in the back of your wardrobe, as you let your feet sink yet again in your old, comfortable shoes. The husband is snapped at for asking why you don’t wear your new shoes. You tell him that the sales guy tricked you in to buying a pair that obviously no one else was interested in. After a few days, out of your own guilt, you confess that those new ones hurt a lot and that this time you would buy a more practical, sensible and a comfortable pair. He knows better than to argue.

And thus, the story starts again. The cycle never ends.

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Beyond love-themed movies

It was a Friday evening. We couldn’t wait to wrap up our work quickly and get back home. And because it was Friday, it meant ‘the dinner feast’ night. It meant whipping up a fancy treat for us. Why? Because it is Friday. We like to be a little indulgent on Fridays. Why? *Rolls eyes* Because it is Friday. And because we feel the happiest on Fridays in anticipation of the two-day holiday.

The weekend was upon us. A relaxed and a lazy Saturday on the cards. We rushed through our dinner feast and wrapped up the kitchen quickly. We will realise later that we shouldn’t have. We had decided to watch ‘Highway’ and had been looking forward to it since morning. TCG and I had read some reviews, reviews that were highly polarized. Now we all know that never judge a movie by its reviews, but we can’t deny that the reviews at least help us eliminate out the ones that are absolute crap. So, some said it had a good premise, some said it didn’t quite succeed in making the cut. Some said that it is the kind of movie, where you know that the director is trying to attempt something new, something unconventional, but ‘that trying to show something different’ effort continuously shows on screen. We felt like just going in to the movie with an open mind and giving Imtiaz Ali a fair chance to make his point, for the sake of his previous good work.

*Highway movie – Spoiler alert*

The first hour or so was not that bad, because you are waiting for the interesting part to come. The story is building up and so is your excitement, hoping that there would be something different to see. You want to see why the director has cast such an odd leading pair. Randeep Hooda kidnaps Alia Bhat (don’t even remember their names in the movie) and takes her away to some place mysterious. There are fleeting eye contacts between them, and you are hoping against hope for this not to turn in to a love story. The plot becomes somewhat questionable when the kidnapee (if there is such a word) doesn’t take the golden chance she has to escape when the patrolling police stop the truck she is being transported in. You wonder why? She might not have had a very happy life before the whole kidnapping episode, but that still doesn’t explain why she would want to hang around with her kidnappers and not take that chance to be free.

You try to digest this, thinking she might have her reasons to do that. But then all of sudden, she spills her guts out to her kidnapper. Out of nowhere, she starts telling him the story of her childhood horror. You wonder why? What triggered this? Shouldn’t her natural reaction to her kidnapper be that of anger and mistrust? You question why she would tell such personal things to a not just a stranger, but her kidnapper. What is she expecting from a person who is wrong to begin with? Sympathy? If you put yourself in that situation even for a second, would you feel angry and revolted at the thought of being kidnapped or would you feel chirpy and start confiding in him? She has been kidnapped only a couple of days ago and it is not like there is any emotional bond between them for her to make such personal revelations.

Alia feels liberated, probably because of her troubled past. She was kidnapped in front of her beau, and he didn’t do much except give her an inopportune I-told-you-so comment. So you understand that she has lost complete faith in her family; her uncle, her mother and even her beau. But opposite of losing trust in family doesn’t mean putting trust in a complete stranger, a kidnapper. There are whole range of colours between black and white. At this point, your rational mind just doesn’t agree with her actions. What is she thinking? Is she thinking two wrongs will make a right? And the thought that keeps hammering your mind constantly is why would you want to open up and bond with your kidnapper?

The plot takes a serious nosedive when she falls in love with him, sings songs and starts dancing to English music, much to the entertainment of the other fellow kidnapper. The shift in her mood from that initial bout of fright to feeling a sudden sense of elation and liberation in captivity feels unreal. And this is where we stopped watching. We couldn’t take it anymore.

You see a movie like ‘12 years a slave’ and then you see ‘Highway’, you can’t help but compare. Soloman Northup in ‘12 years a slave’ is also held captive, leading a life of slavery and drudgery beyond imagination.  But like Highway, you don’t see a sudden absurd transition of emotions from one extreme to another. Unlike Highway, he doesn’t go from being ‘very very angry’ to being ‘happy’ just because he feels that there might never be a free life for him now, so might as well be happy here. He is patient. He never loses his focus and he is forever looking for a chance to freedom for 12 years. 12 years is a long time for your goals to fizzle out, to accept your fate, to lose steam, to not get angered anymore, or to even want to be free again. But he is hopeful and he hasn’t made his peace with slavery. He certainly doesn’t fall in love with anyone during that time. Because, love is not necessarily a part of every story. At least not the man-woman, hero-heroine kind of love. George Clooney and Sandra Bullock were the lead pair in Gravity. But can you imagine them to be romantically linked in the movie? NO, right?

Can’t we get this simple thing drilled tightly into our minds? When will commercial Bollywood movies stop making the ‘hero’ and ‘heroine’ fall in love in every single movie even if it feels forced, unwanted and unreal? When will we grow tired of love-themed movies? When will we explore newer subjects?

My thoughts on this movie may be prejudiced, and I may not be entirely right about my observations because we never made it to the end. I don’t know what happened next and how the story unfolded. The movie ended for me here.

I wish we hadn’t rushed through our Friday evening feast.

 

Rotten people

It is not always easy to live in a happy bubble. It is not always easy to be in high spirits. Because some people can puncture your mood with their poisonous tongue.

Then at some other times, right at the start of the day, you meet some rotten eggs, who spoil your day with their rotten behaviour.

I know I should be able to just shrug off and move on, but move on I can’t. It affects me more than I am willing to admit. What happened today left me high and dry.

Let me take you back 6 months and begin from the start.

On my previous job, we were a team of 4 people doing an assignment on contract. Out of us four, contract was to be extended for only one person for a further period of another few months. That lucky person was me. I would like to think that it was completely on my merit. And I know for sure it was.

But this other girl in the team who had also applied for the same job was highly disappointed. Because she wasn’t selected and I was. She was always a little rude to begin with. The good person in me always gave her the benefit of doubt. But after news of my extension, her behaviour towards me altered even more dramatically. She started giving me a cold shoulder. I stopped caring. She became unprofessional. I kept it professional. But the tension between us was palpable. She had such a negative aura that I kept my distance. On her last day, I finally heaved a huge sigh of relief.

Cut back to present.

6 months later and 5 weeks into my new job, all happy and hearty, guess who I bumped into in the elevator this morning? That same conniving woman, who I thought would have moved on in life, who I wished I don’t have to see again. Little did I know!

As I entered the lift, I saw her right there in front of me. There were 4 other people. What do you do when you bump in to someone who sat right next to you for a good few months and worked in the same team as yours? Your impulse reaction would be an eager, “Hey, Hi! How are you?” or something like that. Stupid me, I acted on my impulse. Four other people heard me say that. And this woman, the same woman who sat next to me, refused to recognise me. For several painful seconds, she said nothing, while I kept waiting with my mouth open, cheeks flushed, my HI… hanging in the air and four other people looking on.

That painful silence stretched for a good 7-8 seconds. I was so embarrassed and humiliated that I felt compelled to do some damage control. I know I should have sopped, let it pass. But before I could think, words escaped my mouth. I was trying to save the situation and only sunk deeper.

“I have been here for a month now…..”

She had still not recognised me and giving me a ‘Do I know you?’ expression.

Few more seconds passed. I grew redder. Others kept looking on.

And then she said, “Looks like you are following me. Why did they not keep you in (previous company)?”

I wanted to die. How can someone be so vile?

I tried to make a little joke and say, “Yes, I guess I am following you. My contract there ended.”

“It’s a shame they didn’t extend yet again. Why didn’t they?”

 4 people all attuned to the conversation by now. I wished the earth could swallow me.

Screw you b***h.

Thank fully, I didn’t have to answer that. The lift opened on to my floor. I have never been happier to get out of the lift. I have never been so claustrophobic.

Thank God, we work on different floors and would rarely (I hope) bump into one another.

P.S: On a much happier note: Exactly eight days before I fly home and will be reunited with the best people in my world.

 

 

You amaze us Rahul Gandhi!

I don’t write about politics and politicians. But this time, I just have to. Trust the politicians to keep coming up with some crap or another to keep the media busy.

People have had a field day on Twitter yesterday, taking pot shots at the young (not so much) Gandhi czar for his infamous comment “poverty is just a state of mind.” Really?!

He does manage to irk us, doesn’t he?

Rahul Gandhi, in a discussion on Monday, said, “Poverty is just a state of mind. It does not mean the scarcity of food, money or material things. If one possesses self-confidence, then one can overcome poverty.” Looks like he was caught on a wrong foot, and clearly did not pause a moment for thinking before saying. I feel like shaking him up, splashing some cool water on his face so that he realizes what a stupid thing he has said.

It’s no wonder that this insensitive, stupid and unintelligent comment has garnered a quite a bit of backlash.

Well Mr. ‘Youth icon’ Gandhi, it’s easy to say so when you are nestled within the cool confines of your resplendent home, when all your basic and much more advanced needs are perfectly taken care of, when you have access to the best of everything in the world, when you haven’t gone a day without food, when you don’t have to worry about paying bills, and when you are miles away from reality.

Feels like he is just trying to shake his hands of his responsibility by calling poverty to be a thing of mind.

Sigh!

I tell you what – you know everything you say is going to be dissected and ripped to bits. So either pause to think before saying or take the Manmohan route to eternal silence. Isn’t silence golden?

Password Pet Peeve

I would say that remembering passwords is my biggest pet peeve of the latest times, followed by another pet peeve – waiting forever on customer care helplines and talking to the stupid machine. But that story is for another time.

Today I only want to just give a vent to my frustration about having to remember a zillion User Ids and Passwords. In an age when everything has gone the ‘e’ way, from dating to chatting, from learning to doing, from socializing to working, from banking to ticketing, from shopping to gaming…every little thing is just at the tip of our finger. So easy, so quick! Indeed a blessing!

But remember that old saying, every coin has two sides??! So like everything else, this convenience also comes with its own set of problems. New age world has its own ‘very’ new age, ‘first world’ problems.

For every little thing we do online, we are required to make a new account. Not only is this time consuming, but it also very repetitive and very boring. Gives you a real test in patience. And not to forget, it never gets done right the first time. You always miss out on some ‘important’ question that is asterisk marked, or end up punching a wrong password in your ‘Confirm your password’ section, and end up filling those blocks of information all over again, cursing under your breath all the time. Or worse, when you are just about to hit “Submit”, something goes wrong. Either you lose internet connectivity or the laptop conks out or you accidently press the ‘Backspace’ key and lose all the data. And then, you have to redo from scratch. I don’t know about you, but happens with me 4 out of 10 times at least. Frustrating!

If only the story ended there.

A dialog box pops up that says that your password is not ‘strong’ enough. There you go again. You thought you can have same password for all the sites and get away with it? Hah! You thought you were very smart to come up with that kind of a ‘virgin’ idea of having a common password, and save yourself the trouble of remembering the zillion passwords, didn’t you?

Yes, why not?? In an ideal world…

But, we do not live in an ideal world.

So you start thinking of a ‘stronger’ password, one that you will recall easily, yet one that is not too easy to hack, yet one that is a tab bit complex.

Hmm…so now you enter a ‘stronger’ password, scribbling it on a sticky note or on the back of your diary or on some parchment to save it for future reference.

And then you hit ‘submit’ once again and wait for the system to accept it. You have your fingers crossed and wait with bated breath.

There pops open a dialog box once again and asks you to have an ‘alphanumeric password’ that includes ‘Special characters’ and a ‘Combination of upper and lower case’ or something irritating like that.

Hah! And you thought you can get away with a password that is a combination of your first name, last name and birth of date? You thought that would be easy to remember, didn’t you?

How you wish! But, we do not live in an ideal world. The system makers are always thinking one step ahead of the system users. You proceed to tear your sticky notes and parchments. Useless they are now.

You put on your thinking hat and try to come up with a very, very complex password, one that will have all the required features and one that will ‘have’ to be accepted.

You note it down somewhere, because it’s so complex that you won’t remember it yourself for ‘Confirm your Password’ section if you don’t. This time you pray it gets accepted.

And finally it does. Prayers work. You feel victorious. You heave a big sigh of relief that it’s all over, the agony, the frustration, the irritation. You feel triumphant.

Once you are past that jubliant stage, you are expected to answer few memory recall questions, in case you forget your password.

–          What was your first telephone no?

–          What is the name of your first school?

–          What was the number of the first car you owned?

–          What was the city you first lived in?

And you wish, at least these questions were standard throughout. But again, this is not an ideal world. How many times do I have to repeat myself?

You think you are finally sorted. Only till you realise that what you ended up finally making is so complex a password that it almost always takes 2-3 failed attempts (thanks to typos) before you are able log in, after punching in really slowly and correctly. Sigh.

Facebook, Gmail, Yahoo, LinkedIn, WordPress, Banks, Amazon, Ebay, Flipkart, Other online shopping portals, Travel sites,  a dozen or so job search portals’ user ids and passwords, Android, Apple id, Skype, Yousendit, Twitter, work email, database access passwords……the list is growing everyday.

I am getting lost in this maze. I am not able to keep up with this. I feel bogged down. I have to do something to bring a sense of order into this disorder.

I am making an excel sheet of all the ids and passwords. RIGHTNOW.  Before I reach a nervous breakdown.

Banking Bankmares

Procrastinate I will, as much as I can. Avoid I will, as much as I can. Till such time my father drives me up the wall and nags me at least for a week to go to the bank and  get my finances sorted and all pending errands done, I will not initiate or show any signs of matured forthcoming behaviour or volunteer myself to go to bank. Means the nagging has to reach a level that the scales start tipping in bank’s favour, for me to overcome my sloth-ish behaviour and be motivated to get up and just get it done with. Will it suffice if I say, I.hate.going.to.bank? And to think that I almost took Finance as my specialization in MBA! Thank God, good sense prevailed. Thank God, I took Marketing.

Today was one such day. I had to go to bank. I wanted to apply for a bank locker. And I realised the following about Banking at a nationalized (read slow, outdated, and government run) bank:

  1. I need to have a Savings account with the bank to get a locker(which is reasonable)
  2. And if I am neither “Working”, nor a “Student”, then I am a “Housewife” (??!) Even if I am not married. Yet that is :). I tried to defend my status. I swear I did. I argued, I debated. So Ms. Pissed-Off-Banker told me that essentially it is one and the same only, right? You’re not doing anything at the moment, so that is close to the option “Housewife”. Hence, I am ticking there. WTF? All housewives: Go ahead, you MAY definitely take offense for this obnoxious little remark.
  3. I realised no kind of urgency works with bankers. NO KIND WHATSOEVER. They will do a small one-min task as leisurely as possible.You have to wait endlessly while
  • They attend many hundred phone calls
  • Go looking for a missing stapler
  • Chat up their neighbouring employee
  • Try to correct the paper jam in the Printer
  • Take agonizingly slow minutes to cross check your details
  • Fuss over colour of the ink you filled the form in
  • Murmur under breath in some code language or their mother tongue about how irritating a particular customer is
  • Eat the snack offered to them by the co-worker
  • Look at you like you are a burden

4. No matter how accurately or correctly you have tried to fill the required forms, you would have goofed up somewhere for sure.

  • Either you would have misspelt your name (in the nervousness and pressure of getting it right and error free, you always make errors, don’t you?)
  • Or you would have missed out an important detail
  • Or you would have submitted the wrong identification proof, or an outdated identification proof
  • Or you would have forgotten some supporting document back home

You will get enough snide remarks and you-fool-you-can’t-fill-this-simple-form-correctly looks for this. If you know what I mean?

5. Average age of the employees there is 45-ish. No wonder then they are mostly slow with computers, slow to respond, have   patience of the highest order, and have vowed not to smile ever. At one point, I felt that I should just take the damned keyboard from Ms. Pissed-Off-Banker and type the two lines myself, for which she took what-15 minutes?

6. Most of them are irritated because of their same mundane duties. Do we blame them?

7. I realised you must not squeeze in a bank visit amidst a busy day where you have lined up a series of meetings, and still expect to be on time for any succeeding meeting.

8. You need to have expert time-killing and wall-staring abilities if you have to get your work done in a single visit at a bank.

9. Knowing the regional language or the language of the employee attending you may also cut the deal for you. It helps.

On a less sarcastic note, opening a savings account in a nationalized bank today has made me wiser in so many ways.

  1. I now know what it must feel like to do the same clerical job, day in and day out, over months, over years, over decades and still love it enough to go every single day to office.
  2. I now know what a virtue patience is and that I am lacking this virtue.
  3. Introspection-ally speaking, I now know that I am not so-cool-headed after all. And till date I thought I was.
  4. I now know how it must feel like to be at the front end of a banking job, do the same job over years, have 10 customers peering over your desk at any point of time and asking 100 questions and you still are expected to keep your cool, answer nagging customers, help slow retarded customers like me and still do the job without errors and without losing your cool.

Two hours at the bank (for a 5-min job) made me question my patience, delve deep into my mind, go philosophical, realise I am not cut for a front-end banking job, made me understand why private banks are so popular over nationalized banks in India, and made me thank God that I didn’t take finance.

Any wonder then why I have bankmares? This is not what a to-be-bride needs to go through!

The Romantic Novel Hero

50. That is the number of romantic novels I would have at least read in my growing up teenage years.  You know the Mills and Boon variety…the Julie Garwoods…and…. umm… I am bad at remembering the names of the books and …worse at remembering authors. I have really tried, but I still forget.

So, each of these stories doesn’t sound too different from the other. The romantic novel hero is highly stereotyped. I can sum up the hero in not too many words. Here is my take on the quintessential romantic novel hero:

  • He will have blue eyes that light up when he smiles, which he rarely does. Perpetual frowning is more his thing.  And he has to tend to so many crucial matters of concern that smiling doesn’t even occur to him.
  • He will have dark curly hair that will end at the nape of the neck. His side locks will have a random grey hair or two, which signifies he is just about on the brink of adult maturity. He is no more juvenile but at the same time he still might have that youthful streak.
  • He has a chiseled jaw line, over which the heroine wants to run her index finger very badly. Whenever he is angry, which he often is at heroine’s stupidity and her recklessness, he has a way of tightening that jaw.
  • He will have a ripped body marred by a deep cut or a scar here and there, that signifies some sad story or turbulence in past. The heroine will have this inexorable need, an inadvertent itch to run her fingers over that scar, as if doing that will make it disappear magically. Talk about drama.
  • Most probably, the hero will be in his early thirties. This means that he has gathered all kinds of experiences and slept with enough no. of women to exactly know his type. He will know exactly what kind of a woman he has saved his heart for. The probability of that very kind of woman crossing his path becomes higher as he enters his 30s.
  • The hero will always put on an act that the existence of the heroine, doesn’t affect him. I-am-a-tough-guy thing keeps playing itself in his head again and again and tough guys don’t have time for frivolous things like love.
  • But try hard as he might, ‘that’ woman will come along, and slowly make inroads in his messed up life and challenge the very core of his existence.
  • The hero will have an insatiable need to tame this feisty young woman, who is arrogant, speaks her mind, and doesn’t care what the stature of our hero is when she is talking to him.
  • Often the story will throw our hero into situations where he will prove to be a knight in shining armour to the lady.
  • Oh and did I tell you, the hero in books will be either insanely rich, or will belong to the royal family or on the other extreme he will be extremely hardworking and poor with truck loads of self respect and morals.
  • Needless to say, hero will be very hesitant with regards to his feelings. He will resist his feelings towards this woman for the longest time, even banish them and dismiss the very thought of them. You know tough men don’t believe in expressing and all that jazz.
  • Though he will always appear to be heartless in front of our heroine, he will do sweet little things for the poor, desolate and the needy. The woman will find this out through some situations and this will make her heart melt and make her go weak in the knees.
  • After banishing his feelings for too long, he will still find himself to be helpless in front of this feisty woman and will ache to take her to bed. He would have already stolen a few passionate, soul melting kisses once a while to know what more could be in store only if he lets go, but the situation, the twists and turns in the story will make sure that this woman is nothing but a forbidden fruit and this alliance will look impossible in his head.
  • Then finally after much anguish, he will let lose his safely guarded control and make out oh-so-passionately with this woman only to stop short of the final act. This happens in all novels, they all make out so so passionately, and only to stop in the nick of time when sense suddenly finds them.  This almost-been-there-but-didn’t-f*** act will leave them highly frustrated and will leave the heroines panting for more. Obviously, to cool himself, he will head straight away for a cold shower.
  • The same hero, who was so hot and giving and so passionate a while back, will emerge from the bathroom with all-cool-and-mean demeanor and hurt that woman with his I-just-got-carried-away attitude.
  • As you guessed it right, finally a dramatic climax in the story will ensure that the hero acknowledges his feelings and expresses them to the heroine at the most inopportune time, when there are other pressing matters needing his urgent attention.

So here it is. I have made it simple for all of you. You might as well just change the name of the hero in a novel and read it all over again thinking you are reading a different story. Because that’s how it really is. I had super fun writing this, this made me nostalgic and took me back in time when I used to devour these books. Hope you all had as much fun reading this.