Monday, October 24, 2011

F.R.I.E.N.D.S desi style

In this hectic life of ours, there are a few things we love devotedly. Things that the humdrum of routine cannot take us away from. Infact, things that would make us happy people if we could bring them into our routines forever. Watching sitcoms would feature somewhere on top of that wishlist and F.R.I.E.N.D.S could just take the crown and be done with it.

But one very late night, Nandini and Mrinalini were discussing how they had been termed certain things because of their ‘race’, sometimes by neighbours, sometimes by acquaintances (read: people who don’t feature anywhere in the list of important people but who talk and judge as if they do) and suddenly they realized how Chandler did some things very characteristic of a Punjabi. One thing lead to another and before we knew it, we had realised each and every member of Friends was THAT endearing to us only because they were also similar to certain fellow Indians. True story. Read the very racist version below:

Rachel ‘Rachhi’ Chawla: What else could the quintessential, picture perfect Rachel be but a Punjabi? The fetish for fashion, the expensive clothes and style, that slight element of superficiality and appearance oriented outlook, all covering a very genuinely generous heart?

The pieces fit, right? She’s the hawt, slightly spoilt girl. Maybe lets qualify her as a modern Punjabi chick :D You know the one we’re talking about. Well turned out, nails done, not a hair out of place and an ensemble right out of the pages of a fashion magazine. In Dilli, we sometimes also call them GK types but let's not forget that Rachel also has a soft heart, very Punjabi-people like loyalty to friends and despite everything, an incurable sense of romance, very conventional at that!

She also has that typical dysfunctional family where siblings quibble, her father expects her to 'do well', her mother expects her to marry well (read marry a wealthy dentist) and also often criticizes everything, from the cut of her hair to her profession as a waitress. Wait, it can't GET any more Punjabi than this!

Ross 'Robindra' Chattopadhyay: The oily haired, very academic Mama’s boy who philosophically believes in true love. He loves flaunting his degrees, literally calls himself a doctor and thinks he knows more than collectively all his friends, purely on the basis of his education. His mother dotes on him, keeps the best things of the family reserved for him, (typical of a Calcuttan Ma with a kid called Bapi). What he has with Rachel, is what we call Rabindric form of love, that pure eternal love that stands the test of time, even several marriages in the case of Ross. You can expect a typical Titli and Shekhar to love each other since school, meet each other at various points in life, be with different people and still be destined to be together. Ask any benagli guy, he will nod. So yes, Ross thakche sir!

Monica 'Mala' Raman: now, Monica could have been many things, but a South Indian fitted her best. From the several south Indian friends we have, there is one thing that comes out starkly; that they are very particular. Ever watched Monica clean her kitchen slab or cut her vegetables? Infact, ever seen her without her frown lines or that sense of hurry? Yes, welcome to the land of Monica, the Southie. She has OCD, loves to compete everywhere (have some Southie colleagues if you want to experience this) and is very particular about the tiniest to the biggest thing in her life. Ofcourse, she thinks she is the best in no matter what you tell her to do, be it cooking up a Thanksgiving meal or playing foosball or winning the lottery, even at the cost of pushing and shoving her friends. Oh and yes, watch her over think and over analyze all of her relationships in life and you will know what we are talking about.

Phoebe Gonsalves: There are no two ways of describing Phoebe. She is just very Boho. And very Goan, if you ask us. She loves to dress up in carefree and Bohemian clothes like long flowy dresses, necklaces, flowers and her usual hairstyles are as if she is on a vacation with beads, bands etc. She has many lovers, sometimes two at a time, reeking of the typical Goa animal. The best part about her, is that she can’t be bothered. Nothing in the realm of regular, mundane life can affect her. She has a fun, weird way of living, which doesn’t necessarily include sanity or sensibility at all times. To add to the very Goan avatar, she loves crystal balls, tarot and after life. Tell a Goan about your problems and they will ask you to loosen up. So will Phoebe.

Chandler ‘Chandu’ Chadha: Yes, we do believe that Chandler would be a Punjabi too. An elitist, foot-always-in-the mouth witty Punjabi. For who else can be as casually sarcastic but always tactless like Chandler than sadda pados da Chandu Chaddha who will have a – "Hey! What’d I say moment", after he’s said some silly but very very 'mooh phat' thing. Take for example his ability to constantly ask awkward questions, crack jokes that only he finds funny and a terrible sense of timing that makes for many comic moments. Punjabis are very aware of their quality of spurting out the first thing that comes to their minds and it probably makes them who they are, slightly rude, very funny and entertaining people.

Joey 'Jaggi' Hooda: C'mon! You cannot miss the signs! If there was ever a translation of friends into typical Indian sects with racist connotations, Joey would definitely be a Jaat boy :D We mean, he's good looking, good physique, and low IQ :P Is this too racist? We wouldn't know since one of our best friends is Jatni herself but we're good at typifying people so here it is! Drinking galleons of milk because he likes to (remember the milk and spoilt juice cartons?), constantly hungry (you could say that's common to all boys but everybody knows Jaat boys have great gastronomic potential) and his belief that he definitely has a way with women, and what do you know, he does too! He's adoringly dim and while everyone loves to hate jaat boys, one cannot but admit they have a local charm, much like the Italian Joey in New York! If you take away all the strippings, Joey is a dumb jock and well, you know the rest!

And we know we know! It is borderline racist but these twenty somethings are Bengali, Punjabi, Jaat and are friends with Punjabi, Bengali, Jaat, South Indians, North Indians, Sindhis, Gujaratis, Baniyas, Muslims, Goans, Bohemians, and all other forms of Indians. (Yes we admit it! Slight bias towards Punjabis and Bengalis but we cant help it ok?) And no, we're not discriminating, we're probably stereotyping and so long as its in fun, its ok right? RIGHT?? :P Ok. Glad we're clear. Wouldn't want this to be like the famous 'Open Letter to Delhi Boy' :P Or maybe we would want that. Fame. Sigh!

P.S: Image Courtesy: Google Images

Google search words on the lines of

Haryana Jat, Punjabi, Modern Bengali man, South Delhi Punjabi, South Indian typical, Bohemian Goan Indian Woman Boho. Amongst others!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Life’s strange lessons

Few days back I got to learn about a colleague’s father’s illness. She had called up another colleague of ours to ask for a blood donor. When I enquired I got to know that he was suffering from a rare cancer. As she is in a different team and we have had limited interaction, I had no clue about her father's illness till then, which many of my other colleagues were well aware of.

After some contemplation, today I mustered up the courage to speak to her about him. Like any other person, I am really awkward about such conversation and usually clueless as to what to say. I mean, I want to say something comforting but I fear that it may sound superficial.

So today, while chatting with another colleague I spotted her roaming around by the bay. The colleague I was chatting with inquired as to who was staying at the hospital and why she wasn't taking leaves. She smiled and said, 'The company won't pay me to take so many leaves na. Besides my uncle is there with dad today so its fine.'

Out of politeness I asked her how he is doing, knowing very well what the answer would be. She said he was in the ICU and more or less the same. On an impulse I told her that if she needs someone to stay in the hospital I could do that. She stared at me for few seconds. I don't blame her because this was probably the first time I was having a proper conversation with her. Before this we had only exchanged a few polite 'Hi's' and discussed work. Never had a personal conversation.

As she stared at me for few seconds (out of amusement or surprise I don't know) I quickly added 'You know, there are times when in between shifts you need one person has gone home and the other is yet to reach and one or two hours in that.’ She thankfully got my point and said 'Yeah'.

I got to know that he had a rare cancer which had spread from his back to a part of his stomach. I cringed thinking about the pain he was going through. Think about it, when one is ill, the first thing one does is lie down on his back to rest and if you have a cancerous cyst growing there how difficult it would be to rest.

She also told me how it was initially a cyst which was operated on few years back and how it kept coming back. He had, after a while, opted for ayurvedic treatment and that probably lead to the delay in detection, she said. I knew that she and her younger brother lived in Delhi and worked, while her parents stayed in Bhopal. So, for them to shift to a different city just for the treatment would not have been easy. Being the elder one, my colleague would obviously be taking charge of things...and it surely wasn't easy for her.

I suggested her to take a second opinion if possible at this hospital I know which is considered the best for cancer treatment. She just said, ' It was detected in the fourth stage. And it’s rare so there is no cure as such. It can't be operated.' The chemo that he has been going through has effected his brain and has left part of his face paralyzed.

What shook me the most that when she was talking about something this serious, she remained calm throughout. There was no remorse or sadness or any kind of expression on her face for that matter. Maybe she knows how it’s going to end, maybe she was used to talking to people about her father's illness but it takes strength to talk about it without breaking into tears.

I have been going through a bit of crisis personally but after I spoke to her my problems seemed so trivial and so vain that I was almost embarrassed that I had been crying about such stupid issues all this while. I know that for each one of us our own problems are always the biggest but when one looks around, and notices what all people are going through, one should just be thankful that god has not been that unfair to them.

My colleague is probably going through hell but she is being extremely brave about the whole thing. She comes to work everyday doesn't whine about which shift she is on while some of us try to shirk work and adjust shift timing to fit in our plans with friends.

It’s amazing how life teaches you to be tough in the most difficult times when everyone expects you to break down. But perhaps, that's the beauty of life, its lessons come at odd times when you are least expecting it.

A big hug to her.

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