Sunday, May 20, 2012

When Didi lost it!

As promised, a few pics from Taiwan: That's the 'tea egg' - one of 6,000 sold by the 80 year-old-lady on the jetty. Pretty delicious even if it does look totally unappetising! It was raining when I went for a boat ride on the famous Sun Moon Lake, but it was still worth getting drenched for. And yes, I'm wearing Masaba Gupta's clever Sacred Bull jacket. The lovely Chinese lady with me is Min - accomplished, successful and hugely intelligent!
While on food, I checked out Bandra's latest eatery - the Indigo Deli. Glad to report Rahul Akerkar has done it again! The food was just outstanding, especially the thin crust, wood fired pizza. And here's more on food - I had lunch at the Bombay Gym after ages. Chef Peter produced a superb chicken soup( for my soul) and stew ( for my stomach). I watched energetic girls playing a pretty rough game of football on the grounds - nicccce! Then it was time to savour a Malayalee speciality from Hotel Deluxe at Fort. It is a coconut pancake , steamed in banana leaves and filled with jaggery, poha and Kerala plaintains! Our chauffeur Subramaniam introduced me to it - God bless him!

This appeared in The Week. Since then, Didi has done what Didi does best - thrown tantrums, walked out of a television interview because she didn't like the 'Maoists' in the studio ( students who asked Mamata a few straight questions). She also went all out to defend SRK ( her brand ambassador) the day he was banned ( joke!) from Wankhede. India holds its collective breath for the next Didi outburst!


When Didi met Hillary….

Women negotiate and interpret power very differently from men.That’s a given. When two powerful women meet, it’s all about decoding the complex body language. And when Mamata Banerjee met Hillary Clinton, the signals were totally confusing ! For one, Asian women use their bodies with more economy.It is considered bad form to send out an overtly aggressive message, or even an oblique one. Striding briskly into a business meeting , even if you happen to be the female CEO of the company, is seen as a turn-off. Women are meant to wear power very lightly on the sleeves of their modest cholis. Even if Mamata has made a career out of defying the stereotype, she has not taken liberties with this particular unwritten code of conduct. She yells, screams and spits fire with the best of them. She walks up to the podium as if she means to talk tough… and she generally does. Despite that, Mamata still projects a certain Eastern modesty, as she tugs the pallu of her trademark saree closely around her shoulders. Perhaps it’s the saree,that discourages taking long purposeful strides.It’s the same with the Japanese Kimono ( tiny, baby steps only, ladies!). And the graceful but restricting Burmese sarong worn by Aung San Suu Kyi next door. Our Begums from Bangladesh, head modestly covered, project exaggerated femininity, while Benazir Bhutto, when she was alive, may have cast herself in the more Westernised, perfectly manicured and coiffed mould, but it was nonetheless conservative. Why even Chandrika Ranatunga from the emerald isle, was rarely seen in anything but the Sri Lankan saree, which automatically softened her mannish persona.

Hillary Clinton has never suffered from such hang ups. For the longest time, she has sported no- nonsense, unflattering pant suits, worn sensible shoes, and minimal make up. She has displayed vanity only when it comes to her dark hair, which she scrupulously bleaches to better conform to the American blond fantasy. These days, Hillary has been letting her hair down a bit – thank the Lord, as was joked about by the President Obama himself when he said his Secretary of State had been ‘drunk texting’ him . Or perhaps, that was Obama’s way of deflecting attention from a hot memoir written by a former girlfriend that talks about his sarongs, cigarettes,body smells, and sexual energy. But when Hillary came a-calling to West Bengal, it was pretty apparent who was calling the shots. Having met and interacted a little with the firebrand Mamata, I’m sure it took a lot for her to play second fiddle. But then again, Hillary’s personality is strong enough to intimidate anybody, Bill Clinton included. That Hillary chose to meet Mamata over any other Chief Minister, is significant enough.And it is no accident that Mamata made it to the TIME magazine list of the world’s Most Powerful individuals. There is a design in everything and anything the Americans do. If they have decided to project Mamata, it is a carefully thought through policy. West Bengal is important to America,given its location( read : next door to China). As a strategic partner in the region, Hillary would definitely be looking at Mamata as a future ‘friend of America’. As for Mamata, Hillary’s visit couldn’t have come at a better time. Mamata was in urgent need of some deft image fixing. And here was the American Secretary of State, no less, who had invested time and effort in getting to know Mamata a little better. Flattering? For sure. But not all that surprising.What better way to recognize Didi as the Slayer of Communism? The irony here is that Mamata has gone international well before she was accepted as a national leader. This is a win-win situation for both ladies. Didi will use the photo-ops to bare her teeth and throw her weight around at the Centre some more. While Hillary will have demonstrated yet one more time what an astute tactician she is. I definitely think Hillary should drink more beer. And go dancing with her gal pals. I’m sure her ratings back home must have improved after that delightful picture of her swigging straight from a bottle. I only wish she could have persuaded Didi to down a couple when they were together. There’s nothing like some serious female bonding over a pint, to figure out and solve a couple of pending global issues. Going by the chemistry displayed by these two superwomen, it is safe to conclude they made good music together.Now it remains to be seen who has to ultimately face it!


Anonymous said...

be a sport shobaa and write about aamir in a non-biased way. He has done what all of u - barkha, rajdeep, pranoy, dua, shobaa de (yeah you) et all could not do in all these years - combined news + entertainment + reality + social services and much more in one show......

Kohinoor Devroy said...

I come from the mocked state of West Bengal,unfortunately headed by the popular didi. Over time and again she has proved herself as one of the prime unsporting forced leaders this nation could have experienced.I so very agree, when you write "Mamata was in urgent need of some deft image fixing".
Coming to more meaningful talks,I would like to invite you to Seoul,so that I can take you to some of the best Bibimbap food joints of the city.Since you like it and believe in its long life.Please, do give a thought

vaibhav said...

A nice Post..will lead to WB...


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