Am posting 3 columns that appeared last week.... will be travelling again tomorrow. Bear with me...
Food for Thought…
The luscious Nigella Lawson is by far the yummiest chef on television. She has a vast global following of slurping fans who find her far more delicious than anything she tosses up. If chops are to be licked in appreciation, you can be sure they are n’t just the lamb ones she’s so expertly grilling!Her show, tantalizingly titled ‘Nigella Bites’ has often been called ‘food porn’. And yet – or maybe because of – these very seductive attributes, Nigella’s 10 year marriage to a megalomaniac ad man / art collector called Charles Saatchi (70) is over. The blood thirsty British tabloid press has been salivating over the story with the sort of mouth watering interest one reserves for juicy steaks. It all started with a row in a restaurant with Saatchi being caught on camera gripping Nigella’s neck. Even though the lady was clearly distraught and in tears, Saatchi claimed the next week that it was nothing more than a playful scrap. Obviously, this was one game Nigella was not up for. She walked out of the Saatchi home, while Saatchi tried weakly and stupidly to make light of the shocking incident.The sordid details are still emerging, But Saatchi has beaten his estranged wife to the draw and filed for divorce before she could. His explanations for doing so reveal the sort of man he is. Faced with charges of spousal abuse and assault by the media, he claimed he was miffed and ‘disappointed’ by Nigella’s refusal to defend him publicly and tell the world he was not a violent man!This added still more insult to the injury. Outrage piled up on outrage as Saatchi continued to brazen it out, while Nigella chose discretion over sensationalism. All this drama led to fresh and furious debates on domestic abuse, with activists trying to co-opt Nigella and make her the face of the issue most women are ‘too embarrassed’ to go public with.The final straw was when Saatchi went back to the same restaurant ( Scott’s) in Mayfair, this time with one of Nigella’s gal pals. This time,he kept his hands to himself as he dined with literary editor Susanna Gross. Tabloids commented tartly that Nigella (53) was being treated like “ a piece of art that has lost its value, and needs to be moved out of the warehouse.” A cruel, sexist and nasty comment that once again shows the pathetic standards society adopts when it comes to wronged women.
Nigella has painstakingly created a powerful brand for herself that has very little to do with being Mrs. Saatchi. Chances are , far many more people across the world know who Nigella Lawson is and admire her skills as a TV host, than know the despicable Charles Saatchi. And yet, she has become the ‘poor thing’ – an object of pity. A discarded and dumped wife. All this, even after Saatchi’s beastly attack on her! That is seriously perverse.And very unexpected. Nigella was positioned as the ultimate Domestic Goddess by the same media that is now stomping all over her. Saatchi hasn’t wasted a moment in sending out a strong message that there is no going back. The marriage is finito. He has hired Helen Ward, a top divorce lawyer to make sure Nigella will not be able to grab his considerable fortune (120 million pounds) without a tough legal battle. She, the aggrieved party in this case, will be humiliated and diminished, while he will continue to attack her with the ferocity of a Rottweiler. Even if Nigella does go ahead with her planned expose, Saatchi has already wreaked enough emotional havoc on his former wife to break her completely. The damage has been done. And he knows it. Nigella’s success as a celebrity tv host rested on her wholesome family image. She was seen as the perfect wife - as accomplished in the kitchen as she was in the boudoir . Her voluptuous curves ,saucy expressions and a script laden with naughty double entendres had made her a drool worthy sex symbol, who frequently featured on lists of the ‘World’s Hottest Women’. Now that the fat is in the fire, how Nigella copes is going to determine her future, her tv ratings, her career and… well, her everything, really. As for Saatchi, he’ll have a vacant slot in his warehouse… another empty space to fill on his walls. There will be no dearth of pricy, posh and pretty women more than eager to hang themselves for him!!
Poor Nigella – someone forgot to tell her. If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen!
Gangsters can buy anyone or anything… but love…
It’s hard to associate the word ‘romance’ with our Bhais. But even the most hardened Bhais sometimes lose their heart and fall crazily in love. Dig a bit and what do you find under that rough and tough exterior? A mushy, sentimental dil that longs for the pyaar of a good woman. Sounds insane, but it is true. Once a Bhai believes he has ‘made it’, there’s just one thing he yearns for – love - and a woman to call his own. Not just any woman, mind you. But someone ethereally beautiful. Pure and virginal, innocent and untouched. Like a heavenly ‘Pari’. Soft, loyal, giving, alluring, aloof, unattainable…. and therefore impossibly sexy! The Bhai knows he can purchase any woman he fancies. But that’s not what he wants.His ambitions have grown and he goes out on a limb to capture the woman’s heart after he has acquired her body.The Bhai starts desiring a real relationship. A ‘normal’ domestic life. He dreams about wooing his fantasy girl, winning her love and living happily ever after. The world is his playground at this point. But the Bhai is lonely. He trusts nobody. And nobody trusts him. In such a desolate scenario, he hopes to find a bedmate and confidante. An ally and lover. That stereotype rarely changes.
Think of our desi girls who attracted bad boys. Girls like Mandakini, Mamta Kulkarni, Monica Bedi. All three happened to be good looking starlets who fell for dangerous men, and lived to tell the tale. There is a common narrative that links these doomed love stories. The trajectory of the affairs is similar. So is the profile of the molls. Most of the ladies who tantalised, enticed and enchanted these dreaded men were failed actresses in search of that one big break. Catching the fancy of a don was seen as a ticket to instant fame and big time. All the baddie had to do to impress his woman was make that one chilling call to a producer– and the movie was hers.Of course, the girl had to be blindingly beautiful ( at least in the eyes of the Bhai). She also needed to possess certain attributes - light eyes, fair skin, and dangerous curves. Having such a trophy mistress was every Bhai’s ultimate dream.
The nightmare generally began when a hardened Bhai made the mistake of falling in love.For the girl… and those around her, it often became a living hell. Particularly if the poor girl was in love with another man . Bhais don’t believe in sharing. The man had to go. A woman needed guts to resist the amorous attention of a Bhai. Especially a besotted, obsessive Bhai. A man ready to kill or be killed for her. Here’s an oft repeated question - what do women see in dangerous men? The obvious answer is - ‘danger’. A certain type of woman finds danger most erotic. Danger becomes her aphrodisiac. Danger turns her on. And risk replaces responsibility. Once a woman tastes blood ( literally!), everything else appears too tame, too dull. Men can sense that in a woman . Especially men who live dangerously themselves. It’s a deadly combination when two such people connect. Their volatile relationship fuels violence…violence fuels passion. They fight, make up, make love, break up. Insecurity, uncertainty and suspicion add exciting dimensions to this combustible love cocktail.It’s a sure fire formula for emotional atyachar. And yet this roller coaster ride continues , till the relationship hits that final roadblock. That’s when those deadly shots ring out.When a Bhai’s bullets fly, there’s no knowing who’ll take the hit. And that is the asli thrill! Unfortunately,there are rarely any happy endings for these deadly love stories.
How chicks should deal with nasty rumours….
The best thing for any smart Munni to do when she is ‘badnaam’, is to ignore those who are trashing her. But most Munnis do exactly the opposite.They fall for the bait.They go into defensive mode….explain,complain,apologise,confront,froth at the mouth And attract more trouble. On the other hand, Munnas deal with trouble of this kind far more directly. They slug it out. Either verbally or physically. I was a reluctant witness to a fiery sms war of words recently. Two angry birds were crazily at it – you said this, no I didn’t, yes, you did, I was told by five common friends, what lies, how could you….after all these many years, why do you believe those people, they are just jealous, you know that lot, they have nothing better to do, yes, I know, but that still doesn’t mean you should talk loosely about me and whatever happened with my ex, listen, I don’t even know your ex, plus, I don’t care. Well, if you didn’t care why would you get involved and bad mouth me , arrey… I just told you I didn’t bad mouth you, whatever, why don’t you trust me, I used to trust you , which is why I am asking, listen this is getting ridiculous, we should sort it out face to face, but I am travelling, let’s do it when you get back, okay, but I want you to know how hurt I felt when I was told what you’d said about me….” Total waste of time!
One tedious and pointless hour later, the mood was down and so was the phone battery. Nothing had been resolved. The wound remained raw… and now there was the emphatic denial to deal with. I thought it best not to intervene. I had spotted steam emerging from the ears… the breathing was seriously heavy, and there was the persistent tap-tap-tap of restless fingers on the table in front of us. Oh dear! All this physical and mental distress over some random bitching? Rumours should be dismissed sans acknowledgment.That’s how they die the fastest death. Learn a thing or two from our politicians. The shrewdest of the lot shrug off the worst allegations without bothering to respond. The matter dies within the week. End of the story. Most top stars follow the same principle and stay well above those rumour mills grinding away non-stop, churning out one masala story after another.It is the celebs that succumb and launch into extended , elaborate and entirely unnecessary justifications who land in the biggest mess when the same stories come back to haunt them as facts. And for heaven’s sake, never make that dumb mistake of publicly declaring the worst showbiz cliché of all time : “We are just good friends!” You are so not, you idiots! Besides, who cares?
Of course, young girls are far more vulnerable to getting hurt when nasty stories about their escapades do the round. Guys generally shrug off the dirt that is flying around and nothing sticks. But, as anxious mothers never fail to remind daughters - you lose your reputation just once. And it needn’t be about boy- trouble , it could be much worse. Working women have it tougher still, especially if there’s someone out there waiting to harrow you. Fixing a female colleague by floating icky stuff about her is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Most victims of office slander find it difficult to confront bullies, male or female. So, they shut up and put up. Some feel martyred. Others, shamed. The few who decide to fight back, often regret the decision later. The ones who win this war are the ones who wait. Waiting requires patience. And wisdom. The young generally lack both – poor things are waiting for life to happen… to take off. But if they can indeed find that forbearance, they will see rumours and taunts for what they are – arrows aimed by the insecure at those they secretly want to be. Take those rumours as compliments, smile and walk away…I received a clever , little image the other day, which I promptly posted. It read : Tigers do not lose sleep over the opinion of sheep.Amen to that!