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I think a lot, sometimes about things that really matter to the society and the larger world, and sometimes about really mundane things that no one else would pay much attention to. Basically, I tend to see the fascinating essence in non-exceptional ideas. Some of my recent brooding indulgences and casual conversations have helped me compile a list of 10 truths that I felt need befitting explanations as to why they are what they are. Some are related to kids, some about family life and some about things you probably never-ever paid attention to. I have divided this blog in two parts, keeping in mind the length of the article. Hope you enjoy-
#1 Why people sing only old Bollywood songs during Antakshari- On a recent trip to Kerala, during a group outing on the house boat, the motley boisterous bunch decided to play Antakshari, much to my chagrin. During the 2 hour ordeal that followed, I kept wondering why 99% of the songs being sung were from the 60s and 70s and only maybe an odd song or two from the Divya Bharti - Govinda era, and literally none of the new ones featured in the game at all. Well, granted that half of the players were well over 50 in age but that didn't explain why even the younger generation couldn't come up with any latest songs, despite there being an overload of Honey Singh- Badshah and the whole Punjabis-trying-to-sing-in-Haryani-accent gang featuring on TVs and radio all the time. And then suddenly, I had an epiphany. The old-time songs, apart from being melodious, had a unique quality that they started off with meaningful lyrics that sort of built up the song. On the contrary, the songs of our times usually start with un-singable and hard-to-remember lines (sometimes just huffing-puffing sounds) , mostly sung by imported variety hip-hoppers and the actual tag-line of the song for which it is famous comes somewhere in between. For instance compare "dhal gaya din, ho gayi shaam" with "ye duniya peetal di, baby doll main sone di". The former starts as is, but the latter has rather forgettable lyrics preceding the real stuff. The thing with Antakshari is that the lyrics must start with the consonant of the last sung song so, more often that not, you can only come up with songs from the golden era of Bollywood. Finally, a befitting explanation to this age-old conundrum. My mind was finally at ease as we sailed along on the Arabian sea.
#2 Why most coughs in public places are followed by a nasty stench- I stopped taking public transportation long ago in my life. Not that I am particularly proud of it, especially given how polluted Delhi has gotten over the last few years and the recent attempts of "car-free" days by the government. I do wish to be a part of the movement but alas, some things just keep holding me back. One of those things was people coughing with their gullets wide open and expelling their saliva (along with unknown viruses) like a shower of holy water. I mean what do you do AFTER you have been blessed like that? But to add to the misery, many coughs would be followed by unbearable stench and after many such instances of sheer trauma, I added 2 and 2 and realised that the cough is an ideal cover for the resounding release of digestive gases that usually have no where to escape in a crowded metro or bus. Smart thinking on the part of the perpetrator, except that it is insufficient if not accompanied with nose-clips and anti-emetics being passed around. So with that realisation, that chapter of my life was closed.
#3 Why most Indian mothers spoil the heck out of their boys - I never thought much of little boys till I became a mother to one. Unlike my previous thoughts, I know now that little boys are fun, loving and yes, very, very cute. Granted that I may never be able to braid his hair or see him trot about in tutu skirts, but that doesn't make him any less cute and adorable. He showers with me with hugs and kisses and calls out my name more religiously and frequently than our neighbourhood pandit can chant Hare Ram. It is quite a flattering feeling, honestly, to be so much in demand and it comes very close in competition to the feeling of being wooed by an unrelenting suitor. Sans the complexity of the debatable Oedipus Complex, I do feel mammas and baby boys do share a special bond. In the Indian context, where traditionally men don't indulge in any form of public display of affection, the love showered on mothers by little boys can be exhilarating for them. However, trouble in paradise starts when the mothers start feeling like the queen of hearts and start treating their boys like princely beings - let them do what they want, when they want and where they want-giving as little trouble to the kid as possible, in the belief that it will further strengthen that bond and keep the little one besotted. Perfect recipe to create a man-child and the bane for some poor girl's future married life.
#4 Why Maggi (killer or not) will always be India's favourite comfort food - I am not particularly a Maggi fan but I admit, it features pretty high on the list of my go-to foods for emotional comfort. I know of people who have lived on a Maggi diet for weeks before exams, some who went into a shell due to the shock caused by the banning of Maggi and some who are posting their selfies with Maggi, now that it is back. One is forced to think about the importance of something that is not cricket or the latest Salman Khan movie, yet it makes its way into conversations across the country. The secret of Maggi's success - Umami. No, not the cream (that is Emami). Umami is the fifth taste that humans can sense along with sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Maggi tastemaker ingeniously hides glutamates that give it the savoury, broth like irresistible taste that was being missed by the roughly 1.2 billion strong population. Definitely addictive, you'd say. So unless Baba Ramdev's seesa-rahit version of maggi contains something that tingles the taste-buds like the mighty glutamates, I think Maggi's future is safe for a long time to come.
#5 Why neighbourhood kids will never let you feel young after you have a baby - I had my child just as I was approaching my 30th birthday. Some would say, just the right age, some would say a tad too late. I, for sure, know that it was the right time for me as age is a just a number and at that point I felt ready to take on a long term project that tests my brain and bone strength for twenty odd years to come. I also felt prepared to take on the new role where I would be addressed as mom (or some variation of it) by a cute little being. However, nothing prepares one to be addressed as an "aunty" - a word that flows naturally from the mouths of well-meaning kids of the block when they realise you have a baby in your arms. Upon hearing "the word", I am always transported back to my childhood days of watching Small Wonder on TV and how I admired little Harriet addressing her neighbours as Mr. and Mrs. Lawson rather than the two-syllable awkward sounding word that brings a picture of an old hag to mind. How relieved I would feel if the kids around me would address me like that, or didi or even bhabhi. Anything that doesn't age me psychologically by 20 years. As a society, we don't encourage our kids to address people by their last name. I do sincerely hope I can start by teaching my kid so that he doesn't go around breaking young womens' hearts (at least not so soon ;)).