Thursday, June 22, 2006

Pink and Blue

Watching a re-run of a re-run of Friends the other night, I was struck by what is a recurring theme in this show. Rachel and Ross are taking their baby Emma to Rachel’s workplace (Ralph Lauren) and they’ve put a pink bow on her head for the occasion. Ross makes a remark about Emma being so cute that she would make a bigger hit than peasant blouses and A-line skirts.
Rachel, Monica and Chandler turn to him with a look that says, “What is wrong with you? Why are you even aware of such a thing as an A-line skirt?” Ross then sheepishly asks if he can have a blue bow on his head.
Maybe I was just in a bad mood that evening. But it set me thinking. So if a man talks even slightly knowledgably about a topic like women’s clothes, he is, somehow, less of a man? On the other hand, if he slips up and says he doesn’t care two hoots about such topics, he automatically becomes an insensitive ape who knows nothing about women and their needs.
It seems to be quite a situation for a fellow to be in. This show is full of such little references- although I’m sure it is prevalent elsewhere too. Besides, once you are on the Seinfeld side of the fence, there is very little about Friends that appeals to you.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Little Barflies

When my sisters and I were little, our Dad used to play billiards at our club after we finished our evening swim. This club is on top of a hill, and the road leading up to it is shaped like a spiral staircase. By the time Dad’s car rounded the last turn, we could smell the swimming pool and before he even came to a halt, we would be running out of the car.
Now this billiards table was located in one of those darkened, stately rooms that old clubs are famous for. The gentlemen were mostly smoking, so the room was suffused with curling smoke; together with the dim lighting and the murmuring conversations, this was altogether the most interesting section of the entire club. What made it even more so was that children were not allowed in here.
One evening, while we hung around outside by one of the big windows, Dad spotted us. And miracle of miracles, we were actually asked to come in. Not only this, we were escorted in like actual grown up ladies and ushered in with the utmost respect. There was one very elderly gentleman in particular, who would bow down low and kiss our hands and address me as “young lady” and “Ma’m” even when I was five years old.
Well! This was the high point of our un-cool little lives thus far. What’s more, we even got to sit on the bar-stools, albeit for a precious few seconds. To this day, I prefer sitting on bar-stools rather than the regular seating at a restaurant.


What’s with telemarketers these days? If you’re going to make unsolicited calls to someone, at least make sure you sit yourself in a place that doesn’t, to your harassed callee, sound like a fish-market. But, no. The last dozen calls I’ve gotten, the marketing executive seems to be sitting in the midst of a rather lively auction at a fish market. This morning, I had the following conversation:
Am I speaking to Ms. Devika Menon? I am from Some Bank, Chennai.
Yes, you are.
Am I speaking to Ms. Devika Menon?
Yes, you are. What’s this about?
Hjds hfusuifw relationship jkdsl fn uis?
What’s that?
I said, could you repeat that?
(Deep breath) I can’t hear you.

Another time, this woman calls me and says, “I’m calling from ABC. You have a mobile phone connection with XYZ, right?”
“Yes,” I answer politely.
“Why can’t you change to ABC?”
And that’s your spiel? I am sorry, I really am. But I cannot condone this sort of lack of charm. If I am to be harassed every day of my life because you want to sell me another miserable phone connection, please, oh please, at least try to keep a check on how annoying you let yourself get.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

A Standing Ovation

Barbaro, the star race horse who was the darling of the tracks and has won millions of dollars’ worth of prizes, was recently injured in a race. He broke his leg in several places and had to undergo major surgery. He is now in a long, painful recovery.
Such is his stature that he’s been constantly receiving gifts like baskets of carrots and other horsy treats. It was heartbreaking to see pictures of this beautiful horse with his leg in splints, horrendously injured and in obvious pain. However, he is receiving the best of care and is expected to recover even though his racing career is over.
Although when you think about it, it’s not ‘his’ career at all, is it. The story of this horse made me think of racing in a rather sad way. These animals have, obviously, no choice.
I remember watching a show in Disney World where the performers were the two star orcas, Amu and Shamu. The end of the performance was to be an act where the two of them would create such waves with a thwack of their tails that twelve rows of spectators would be soaked in the cold water from their tank. Well, that day Amu didn’t want to do this trick. Even though she was slightly smaller than the 12,000 lb. Shamu, she called the shots. She blocked his way and prevented poor Shamu from performing, even though he was clearly OK with it.
The trainers cajoled them. They even, I suspect, begged. Amu wouldn’t budge. Finally, the trainers told us apologetically that that was that. There wouldn’t be any splashing and we would all just have to go home bone-dry.
Maybe all performing animals are just kind to us by going along with our ridiculous demands of them. I wonder what will happen the day this stops and they start really asserting themselves.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Lose Weight: Please Don't Ask me How

Here is a sampling of wit and effective advertising I have seen over the past few weeks.
“Lose Weight.
Ask for Free Sample.”
~Eh? And how would we be doing this? By the gram? And, more importantly, what if I’m interested in paid samples?

“Wear Helmet. Or Hell Will be Met.”
So all helmet-wearers are going to heaven, then. Quite an effective segregation of human-kind, I thought. Less work at the Pearly Gates.

Scrawled on a mobile food stall: “Rant: Rs. 12.”
I wonder how this works. You hire the stall for a day and rant ceaselessly, all for a princely sum of twelve rupees? I don’t think this will make a profit in the long run. Demand will far exceed supply in this city. Reality intervened in the form of a friend who pointed out that it was merely the word ‘rent.’

One ‘Gent Saloon’ offers a “Veg Cut.”
I have spent many sleepless nights over this one. I stand defeated.

And the following gems are examples of the value of spacing, or an inadvertent omission or two.
Slow Work in Progress.”
Considering this sign was in front of a road work operation, Very True Indeed.

At a hip cafĂ©, inscribed in chalk: “Try our Hot Intern”
I did a double take and must confess, took this one at face value, marveling at the sort of marketing strategy you need to come up with in order to stay ahead of the pack these days. Alas, closer inspection revealed the truth: “Try our Hot International Coffees.” I still prefer to think the erasure was intentional.

On a side note, I’ve seen a few signboards and shop names with the lettering rather meticulously blacked out. Then someone told me that it is because they haven’t the words on there in Kannada. For some reason I always picture a band of trolls carrying pots of black paint going around in search of offending signboards, then blacking them out, their tongues sticking out in concentration.
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