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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Mad Men

I was catching up with a few episodes of Mad Men on Netflix, when SG remarked,'Why is everyone sleeping with someone else in this show?' I failed to convince him there were other elements too- the narrative, the character sketches. I thought to myself: Maybe people were like that in the 1960s. Promiscuous, borderline alcoholics, who smoked like there was no tomorrow. I am no prude but there were certain instances when the 'act' wasn't justified or even necessary.

The protagonist Don Draper is a self-made man, starting from oblivion and reaching an irreplaceable position as the Creative Director in Sterling Cooper and later as a founding Partner at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Most of the times, he is a confident man who can think on his feet and make the clients eat out of his hand. But his vulnerability is real when he gets competitive with a talented  and unorthodox copywriter Michael Ginsberg.

He is sort of a phony sometimes when he insists on honesty and loyalty from his subordinates, but has no qualms about crossing the lines too many times. There is always a reason: he is not happy enough with what he has. My advice to Don Draper: Stop sleeping around. If you can't find happiness in what you have, you can never find it by chasing other things. Or else it is like a bucket with a leak- the happiness will just flow through, you won't be able to contain it.

TV doesn't dictate the moral code of the society but it should have some responsibility about how it projects an idea/philosophy. (This is why I never watch Indian saas-bahu sagas) An episode is hardly ever viewed for it out-of-context love-making scenes- they have sites for that. I have watched all the seasons of Mad Men so far, and I think I will remember it mostly for the jingles, taglines and presentations at the office (the advertising aspect of it), songs at the end of each episode, and the taste of the glamorous 60s in Madison Avenue when everybody made an effort to look good- a soigné but confused crowd.

More on my favorite characters from the  show later.

Check out this fake ad in the meantime, which says it better.

Monday, April 22, 2013


I was having a conversation with my father when I mentioned my impression about a certain person. I knew him years ago, and I always saw him as a loser who stalked me. I opined ,'Even if he becomes Bill Gates, he'll still be that loser for me. I just can't get rid of that image from my mind.'

'People change' he suggested. I agreed,' Of course, they do. I did.  SG did. But I believe that people have certain core values. A dishonest person will always be dishonest. A liar will always be a victim of habit.'

Dad said that only people with low IQ can't change. Criminology theories indicate that criminals seldom change their modus operandi. By critical reasoning, you might have already arrived at what I am going to say- people take up crime only when they have failed at everything else.

Now, modus operandi  acts as an identifier of the perpetrator because certain features will be unique. Criminals seldom evolve (thank God for that- an intelligence criminal, say like a real-life Professor Moriarty would be a menace to the society. And we all know-we don't need any more twisted minds in this world.)
A cat burglar who jumps the fence, gets in through the window, steals jewels and sells them in the flea market will always do that. Dad says, in his experience, those thieves will never take a stack of cash even if it's lying right there. And if someone has to- they literally sh*t in their pants. I thought of all those videos featuring 'World's dumbest criminals', and realized  it wasn't so rare then.

I also reasoned: I'm not stupid (as far as grades or deadlines go). Then if I want to change something about my life or behavior - should it be impossible? Do I need to sh*t in my pants in fear of it? No.

And I'm not going to feel sorry for myself for the rest of my life for not having tried enough. That is for losers. I may lack a lot of things, but I have never found myself not achieving something I have put my heart to. A sense of personal failure can arise only when I have not tried enough. If I have done my best, there is nothing left to do except wait for certain circumstances to change. If I have not- I have no right to waste time in brooding over things instead of doing something.

Here's to change. And may we all be the change we want in our lives.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The cynical girl

My old friends often coax- 'write something on your blog, we want to read'. Lately, I have been a little upset about some things. Maybe it is a sign of age that I don't always see things with those rose-colored glasses anymore. There is outrage and there is disbelief. But I'm not much of an ambusher with words (unless extremely provoked). I prefer the silent treatment. I know that I should express my feelings somehow instead of bottling them down. Hence, these cartoons. I have to caution you I have never done this before. Here are some eyesores I created :
Pups know better

It will leave a pot of honey for a dead fish

Monday, April 15, 2013

The musings of an ex-pat on bereavement

We always think we have enough time. We are wrong.

I lost two very dear people in the short span of two years- my paternal grandma (thakuma) and my maternal aunt (mashi). I envy those people who saw them in their deaths and have some sort of closure, because I still think of them and believe that when I visit home next time I will see them, and they will greet me with the deluge of kisses and hugs and genuine queries after my well-being.

'Home'. It means so different now. It isn't the place I was born in, not even the country. It is a place I always wanted to be in. And living here has its price. But unlike some who choose to regret living away from their families, I choose to make reasons to be where I am. There are beautiful people everywhere in this world. We just have to find them.

I was really sad on Saturday  morning when I received the news of mashi's cerebral stroke. But I had guests coming for dinner. JD and CD's visit was long due. JD brought us black forest (Schwarzwälder) cupcakes. The conversation kept my mind occupied, though I found myself wandering back to my childhood. They praised my cooking lavishly, and I felt they were being kind.

The following day MD arranged a picnic for us. Three families got together at Vasona Lake for a wonderful afternoon together. SG learned Fishing 101 from DR (a more elaborate post on this when we go out for fishing next time). MD and her 5-year old daughter had both hugged me when they saw me - I never felt I needed it more in my life.

I walked with the kid as she rode her bicycle by the lake. I tried to see things from her perspective as she asked about the cottony pulps floating in the air. I explained those were from the water reeds and it was a method of seed dispersal for the plants using the wind as a vector. I saw colorful bugs,  ducks and geese, and people in their sail boats, paddle boats and paddle boarding on surfboards. The cool breeze from the lake and the sunshine on my back felt so nice, I wondered why we didn't do it more often.  We played poker after lunch using two other deck of cards as currency. It was fun.  But I was still very distracted, I folded my cards even when I had a flush and bet heavily because I was curious to find a bluff. There was none.

Back home, I was tired but I still managed to make some vegetable pulao for dinner- like the kind I had taken to the picnic. It was different because I skipped a few ingredients including the ginger and rosewater, but it tasted good. Life is like that- things are never the same- but you find a way.

Today is Bengali New Year, and we invited SG's brother and sis-in-law for dinner. A family get-together will be nice. They have a 2-year old son whom I absolutely adore.

Everytime I lose someone dear, I think of the names they called me endearingly. Memories come flooding back. The little things become so precious. I know in my heart- no one can replicate the feeling I had- the warmth of their hugs, the way they told stories. But life has to go on, and we always have to find someone to love.