|Arundhati shot this at our neighbourhood salon after we both had our summer trim. I am off tonight. Will be back after the 24th. I shall miss this space desperately! Adios Blogdosts!|
This appeared in the Sunday Times today....
BCCI – Board of Crooked and Corrupt India
Many years ago, I joined a Kho Kho Club in my area and was soon elected its President for Life. I promptly hand picked board members from a coterie of chamchas who understood the commercial potential of Kho Kho and were willing to play ball with me. At the time, Kho Kho was just about taking off in India, but I was confident if we nurtured the game and spotted the right players, we would be able to convert Kho Kho into a major sporting event that would attract big money. My board members agreed this was an excellent idea. But in order to make Kho Kho a national obsession, we would have to sex up the game and change its format to suit television. Of course, we imported the best cheer leaders from Ukraine. Nobody had a problem with that, except purists of Kho Kho who insisted we were bastardising the game and prostituting players. Not so, declared the stake holders, claiming it was a good move, given that Kho Kho had lost its sheen over time and become a bit too slow and boring. Veteran players of Kho Kho were not happy about the faster format, but we took care of them by hiring Kho Kho legends to provide commentary and generally guide us during the changeover. Their expertise didn’t come cheap. But their names added credibility and respectability to Kho Kho. There was no looking back after that. Soon our Kho Kho brand took off and money started to pour in. Our players also benefitted greatly, especially those from small town India. Advertisers queued up to sign our Captain, while hysterical fans begged us to host more and more matches across the country.
Mogambo khush hua!
Suddenly, something went phut! just as we were about to grow even bigger.I blame it on a few rotten eggs. We became media’s favourite punching bag overnight. Jealous rivals plotted and schemed to get rid of me! Imagine! ME!!!! As if that was possible or easy! I was the Patron Saint of Kho Kho for heaven’s sake. The board members were my friends.We were members of a cosy club. I knew too much about them.They knew too much about me. But it seems there were traitors in my midst and I was caught off guard. Then they began pointing fingers at my poor, innocent son-in-law! What did he have to do with anything? He was just another Kho Kho fan, supporting his favourite team. Maybe he had placed a pizza bet here and there. Is that a crime? As if that was not bad enough, my Captain came under attack as well. This was too much! Of course , I had given the talented Captain a decent job and also employed a few other top players. Is that also a crime - if so, under which law? Absurd! Critics should have known I am a law unto myself. And that my word is law. Ours is a private body. We don’t owe an explanation to anybody - how dare people ask for it? Then came the ultimate insult – some idiots had the audacity to ask me to step down. Resign. Why? Which specific law had I broken? Prove it, I tell you! These rascalams have no other work or what?
Anyway, since the situation was getting out of control, I had to do something quickly. Stepping down was out of the question. I would step aside… not down. Big difference. It is my show, after all. And so it shall remain forever and ever. Those ungrateful traitors can do nothing to me or my son-in-law. Fortunately, my suggestion was accepted by everybody and a stooge stepped in to take care of the mess I had created. This is how it should be. We have to protect one another and stand together. All this talk of corruption and crookedness and compromise will soon be forgotten. After all, what can be bigger than the great game of Kho Kho in our country? So, in the interests of this great game, I appeal to fans to forget everything and just enjoy the sport. See how even the media has stopped hounding me. They have found a new target – a flashy Kho Kho team owner who placed bets on his own team. So?There are far more important national issues to deal with than Kho Kho – believe it or not.
As for the fate of my Captain. Why worry? Captains come and go. It is the game that matters. And that my dear countrymen, will definitely go on. What’s the bet?????
And this appeared in Mumbai Mirror yesterday...
It’s been just three days since Rabiya buried Jiah - her beautiful, doomed daughter . There can be no bigger tragedy in the world than for a mother to lose her precious child. And if suicide is the cause of the child’s death, then the depth of that tragedy is still more immeasurable. 25-year-old Jiah Khan is gone. God bless her troubled soul. But what becomes of Rabiya Khan , her grieving mother? One out of three lovely daughters is no more. That void is a permanent one. Understandably, the other two girls have their own lives to live, and will move on eventually. As will neighbours, friends and other relatives. That’s life. From this moment on, it will be Rabiya and her memories. Rabiya and her sorrow.Rabiya and her regrets. It is the future of the twice divorced Rabiya that will require emotional cushioning as she deals with the tragedy that is likely to haunt her for the rest of her life.
I have been talking to several film people during the past few days. Some of them knew Jiah and Rabiya quite well. A prominent film maker recalled the copious tears of joy Rabiya had shed after watching the first screening of Jiah’s debut film, ‘Nishabd’. According to him, Rabiya was so overcome with undisguised happiness, it was almost like she was avenging the trauma of her own thwarted dream ( Rabiya was a small time starlet). Apparently,right after the lights came on, Rabiya kept repeating how her daughter would be the biggest star in Bollywood after the film’s release. Around her, appreciative friends were equally busy declaring Jiah the next best thing in movieland. Jiah herself was slightly more restrained, but it was obvious that mother and daughter were more than confident that Jiah had already conquered Bollywood. That the film crashed with a resounding thud, must have been the first of many shocks and several disappointments to follow. And this is where the tragedy began…
Rabiya’s own film career had never taken off. The bitterness of that rejection must have gnawed at her insides for all those long years when she waited for Jiah to grow up and reverse those old rejections. Showbiz is full of similar stories. Ambitious mothers who were once stars themselves are known to aggressively push their nubile daughters into the business , hoping against hopes that the girls will succeed where they themselves didn’t. Right now, in Bollywood, there are half a dozen failed/ disappointed actresses trying desperately to promote their good looking daughters , in the vain hope that the girls will hit the elusive jackpot. Alas, that rarely happens. And when their efforts don’t succeed, these mothers transfer their frustrations onto the daughters, and exert pressure on them to try harder… harder….harder. Some young girls can handle the pressure. Others crack. As Jiah did. Her last message to her mother is particularly poignant (“I love you hamesha…”). And one hopes her mother wasn’t one of those who made Jiah feel like a loser for no real fault of hers.
The day the decision was taken to rename the then 16- year- old, is the day her destiny was sealed. Switching from being a carefree, free spirited Nafisa to a sultry, sexy Jiah may not be such a big deal for another girl. For Jiah it clearly was a challenge she couldn’t quite handle. Had that rebirth gone according to plan, had she found success and security, she would have been alive. Given her temperament, perhaps the big mistake was for Jiah to live by herself. There were early warnings of her fragile emotional state when she had attempted suicide eight months ago. What she needed more than anything else was love and reassurance.Someone to come home to. I am sure Rabiya did provide both to the best of her ability, after she relocated from London and came to Mumbai to be with her. But such is the irony that often those closest to you, miss those all -important signals. And when the worst happens, they have to live with the guilt for the rest of their lives.Raising daughters is always difficult ( Manju Kappor did a wonderful book on this troubling subject). Perhaps it’s time for someone young and spunky to write a book on ‘raising’ mothers. Not for nothing is the mother-daughter relationship described as the most complex one on earth.
Sadly, in this terrible saga, there’s one more mother to think about – Zarina Wahab…. a sensitive actress I have always admired.Sooraj Pancholi, her son, is unfortunately but inextricably caught in the vortex of this tragedy. Zarina says he is more like her than his volatile father. The Lord be praised! “He is a quiet, obedient bachcha,” she told me.
As a mother, I feel for her. And for grief stricken Rabiya, of course.
And this in The Week .... as you can tell, this has been a heavy duty writing phase! I wish going on a short vacation was a little easier!
Even as a teenager, I never suffered from period cramps. I was fortunate.Perhaps my training as an athlete helped me to overcome the monthly menace that paralyses so many young lives. I could hardly afford to confess to my trainer that I wouldn’t be running / jumping at the highly competitive sports’ meet because I was menstruating.No sportswoman enjoys such an indulgence. No matter what, you play the game.Period cramps can wait. One of my daughters gets laid up for two straight days a month, doubled up with pain and unable to crawl out of bed. Nothing helps. Not even a hot water bottle. Fortunately, today’s urban teen is raised to take menstruation in her stride as compared to the nasty old days. I notice the naturalness with which teenagers mention their ‘condition’ to friends, boys in the group included. This is a huge change from earlier times when girls were made to feel like they had a highly infectious communicable disease by their own families. Mothers would strike their foreheads in despair and curse their fates for giving birth to daughters, making a bewildered twelve year old feel guilty, ashamed and miserable for bleeding. I escaped such a fate, but my sisters didn’t. They were treated like outcastes and made to hide any evidence connected to their biological cycle. The word ‘menstruation’ was never to be uttered in the presence of men folk. And those four ‘unclean’ days had to be endured in discreet isolation. It is in this context, that I applaud the efforts of three entrepreneurs from the National Institute of Design (NID), who have launched Menstrupedia.com, a website that addresses various aspects of puberty , along with exploding the incredible and annoying myths associated with menstruation. Myths that make a woman feel ‘impure’. Or advise her to stay away from pickles, not shampoo her hair or stay out of the kitchen. Aditi Gupta, Tuhin Paul and Rajat Mittal have earned the gratitude of several young girls who may not have the sort of access to responsible information when they most need it. Mothers are often hesitant or even ill informed themselves, leading to much confusion and self-loathing in the teenager’s mind.
Since it is a free website in English, the three bright sparks have decided to broaden their reach by translating the content into several languages. What’s more, their latest objective is to launch comic books in various Indian languages to further simplify the information. They are trying to generate funds for this project and are also looking for volunteers. Their target is pretty modest – 5 lakhs is all they need. So far, they have managed to collect half the amount, mainly from family and friends. It is an initiative worth supporting, given their commitment to it. Ambitious and motivated, they also hope to make these comics available in international languages. For the moment, the focus is on setting their ‘characters’ for the comic books, by getting the details right. For this purpose, they are building a library of ‘looks’ from different regions, so that it will be easy for readers to identify with these characters.
I thought how much easier life would have been for my generation had we not had to battle age-old taboos and hide our monthly affliction from the world. The worst ignominy during school days was to stain the pristine white uniform and deal with the stares and sniggers that followed. Today, with superior sanitary products, and better awareness of personal hygiene, some of these issues have been taken care of. But not all. Despite more openness, girls are still emotionally and psychologically hampered by a society that makes them feel ‘unclean’ on some level and excludes them from auspicious functions. Till such time as we relook at our antiquated attitudes to the subject, our female teens will be forced to adopt a brave façade and project a fake nonchalance during ‘that’ time of the month. A time that is indeed difficult and delicate. For PMT is definitely not a myth. It is a recognized medical condition that affects millions of women worldwide. Some of us have had to take the inescapable monthly mood swings in our stride and soldier on. But for those whocontinue to suffer month after month, perhaps a quick visit to Menstrupedia will provide much needed comfort.