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Sunday, 14 June 2020

To "Meat" or "Not to Meat", the saga of a Bengali Brahmin

June 14, 2020 0 Comments
So! That happened! Never in her life did Andy think she would be called an asshole for being a non-vegetarian but there he was, the guy she lovingly called "The Tamilian", saying she is as much of an asshole as him, coz she wants to cook meat at home.

Andy was in a daze...


Growing up in a Bong household (Bengali for our traditionalist readers), it never occurred to her to give a second thought while wolfing down a plate of yummy fish curry or gorging on the next chicken roll served at the roadside stall.

In her life, so far she has interacted with people from various cultures and tried out a variety of cuisines based on religious and cultural significance - some more palatable to her than the others. Some liked her type of food, some chose not to. But lately, she is coming across a bunch of these religious bigots who has been raising a finger at her food habits - a very dangerous thing to do to a fish loving strong headed Bong chick!

For as long as her memory serves, Andy has always had fish. In fact, that was her staple diet while growing up. It didn't matter that she grew up a Brahmin. In a Bong family, your caste is determined the football team you follow (her house was strongly divided between Brazil and Argentina my friends - a sight to behold during world cups) rather than the food you ate. Yes they were Brahmins! Yet they revelled in the next serving of mutton biriyani as much as their Muslim brethren of Park Circus.

She first encountered this caste based food bigotry when her roommate's Grandma chastised her for eating meat in spite of being a Brahmin, a dialogue she chose not to engage with out of respect for her old age.

In the inside though, Andy was in turmoil.

What does being a Brahmin meant exactly and why does she need to prove her Brahminism to these other group of Brahmins from the rest of India? It almost seemed like the majority of the remaining Brahmins didn't eat meat and expected her to apologize for indulging in such delicacies.

However, like most of the Bongs Andy was lazy as fuck to have joined a heated conversation justifying her eating habits. Instead she treated herself to the next serving of chicken rezala and moved on with her life.

Fast forward 10 years, as she tried to get back into the world of dating, she kept on bumping into these "vegetarian" sect. Contrary to the popular belief that a non-vegetarian like gay people would forcibly try and convert all the vegetarians, she was finding all the vegetarians acting exactly like homophobes - literally looking down upon her food habits and trying to make her give up fish and meat.


One of the men she met had the audacity to ask, being a meat eater how can she call herself a Brahmin which prompted her to thoroughly research the various kinds of Brahmins in India, including the references of having beef in the original vedas which were replaced by practising "Sattik" or "no meat philosophy" down the line.

Inspite of not believing in cast and creed, Andy found herself learning about how sections of the Saraswat and Kanyakubja Brahmins settled in Kashmir, Konkan regions, western parts of India and sections of Bengal, Assam and Odisha, have always retained their non-vegetarian diet - something that baffles the rest of the Panda-gauda (to the north of the Vindhya Mountain range) or Pancha-Dravida (to the south of Vindhya Mountain range) Brahmins.

While she was busy educating this new horde of vegetarian dates, in walks the Tamilian, with his complicated soiree of long lost words that hardly gets used in day to day life. Looming over her like the next big disaster, he was completely opposite to the kind of guy she usually falls for - anal retentive and rigid as fuck, something she discovered months later. His kindness and stoic nature made her blind towards his rigidity and she started finding his anal habits such has fixing the lining of her shoe while she was crying loudly in his shoulders, cute.

However, months of engaging conversation and care couldn't save her from this conversation that Andy was having now.

She was not allowed to cook meat in the same house as him. As she accused him of being a rigid asshole and not believing in "live and let live" policy, the Tamilian surprised her by calling her an asshole for insisting on being herself and wanting to cook meat at home - the very thought of which he found offensive.

There it was! The red flags that she was trying to overlook when he said that he has only ever stayed with other Tam Brams has now suddenly become traffic stop lights and halted her in this unrealistic dream journey. Months of conversation was nothing to this guy just because of her food habit and it broke her.

She started reflecting on her eating habit, and started wondering why it's always the vegetarians who think they are better than the non-vegetarians, just because they don't consume animal protein? Were these practices followed in the era of cavemen where survival was the key? As she tried to drown her sorrow in her tear-soaked pillow, Andy realised how one man's rigidity is another man's religious bias. She won't make a deal with the devil and give up her fish and meat or freedom of expression for ANYONE.

And no more trying to date vegetarians! Those snooty bastards seem to be the worst of the lot, thought Andy next day as she happily chomped into her crab roll, choosing herself over any rules and regulations.





Tuesday, 26 May 2020

My Mini Version and a Thoughtful Afternoon

May 26, 2020 0 Comments


Life is hard with a toddler, life is very hard with one toddler and one unofficial toddler (read: husband), and it is extremely difficult with both of them at home because of this lockdown. It’s almost like, if the lockdown goes on any longer, the mothers’ union will manage to create a vaccine to send their toddlers to school and office respectively.

My three-year-old daughter is a mini version of me. God! She is a smart baby; asking questions the entire time and challenging every single rule. All these questioning and challenging rules are fun when I am doing it, however, when three-year-old refuses to listen to you and argue, it just drives me crazy. And the mighty husband enjoys the show from the front seat.



While having a crazy quarantine, I was thinking about my pregnancy and what struck me most is that I wanted a boy child and I am not ashamed of it.

My whole life, I really considered myself a feminist, and most of my actions reflected that. One of the best compliments I ever received is from my MBA classmate who called me a true fearless feminist.

But when I became pregnant the first thing that came to my mind was that I wanted a boy. And that very thing felt so damn wrong. On one hand, I claimed to be a feminist, belief in equality, and on the other hand, I wished to have a boy. I should have been wishing for a healthy baby, irrespective of the sex of the baby.

That very thought haunted me for days. On Surface, It seems like I just want a boy child. But it was only when I dug deeper that I discovered the real reason why I wanted a boy child.

One thing is very clear in our society, not only in India but the whole world, it is primarily a male-dominated society whether we like it or not. Still, there are some people, called feminists (I swear to god, it sounds like an abuse word nowadays) who still dare to believe in equality, striving for a society, which is based on equal rights, equal choice, and equal opportunity. In most cases, the work of feminism was concentrated on independence of women, women empowerment, equal pay, equal job opportunity, equal opportunity for education, etc. And we have created a generation of ladies who are independent, smart, intelligent, and ready to take on any responsibility and do what is needed.

No matter what, one thing we all can agree, the two genders are an equal part of our society, and in order to achieve holistic growth we need to address both genders, only making our girls independent won’t solve the problem. However, men, in general, are not used to with such independent women. Someone once told me, you are too smart to be a woman. And he received a very polite reply from me, i.e. “you are too dumb to be a man”. Sadly, this answer does not even come close to generate a real change in our society.

What we mothers, parents' families really have to do is construct a generation of men who are ready for independent women, take them as their friends, wife, sister, mother, and not be afraid of their intelligence.

And that is the reason for me wanting a Boy Child. I wanted to raise a man who treats all humans equal, who is very good at household work, earn his own living, take care of a baby, in short, can do everything a woman can do.

All human beings are equal, but the challenge here is to raise men who are equal to women. 
My mini version of me sleeping beside me, while I am writing this, and I am proud of her for every smart little things she does, for every question she asks and challenges the societal gender norms in her own kiddy way, I still want to raise a boy to show the world that there is a man who can cook, clean, wash, babysit, work, earn, love and be a MAN. 




Tuesday, 5 May 2020

A Widower and a Sad Afternoon

May 05, 2020 1 Comments


It was just another Wednesday afternoon during the lockdown. I was about to finish cooking and start cleaning the house. I was sweaty, irritated, and hungry when my husband decided to call me at the top of his voice. I responded to him with the normal frustration and he told me Irfan Khan has passed away. I was not expecting this. My first reaction was that this must be fake news. But to my utter disappointment, it was not, and I felt so gloomy for the rest of the day. 


Later in the afternoon, I was watching one of his old interviews where someone asked him about his most difficult acting jobs and Irfan Khan mentioned two names: Life of Pi and In Treatment. I had never heard of “In Treatment” TV series and started watching it immediately (what better way to honor his memory other than watching what he considered one of his most difficult acting jobs). 

In Treatment is an American HBO drama which was produced and developed by Rodrigo Garcia. It is about a psychotherapist, 50-something Paul Weston, his weekly sessions with patients, as well as those with his own therapist at the end of the week. The series debuted in January 28, 2008. 



I have only watched the part in season 3 where Irfan khan played a 52-year-old widower Sunil,  who was transported to New York from Calcutta following the death of his wife. His new life entailed him living with his son, daughter-in-law and their two young children. 

Sunil is not only depressed by his wife’s death, but he is also deeply wounded by his son’s decision to marry an American woman and angry at what he sees as his daughter-in-law's insensitivity. He is extremely disappointed with his son’s American lifestyle and thought process where he chooses his personal happiness over family respect and pride by marrying an American woman. 

I cannot express how much I got affected by this. Saying 'brilliant' would be an understatement. 

Sunil’s (Irfan Khan) son Arun/Aaron and his wife guides him to see a psychologist since he is finding it difficult adjusting to his new life in America. Sunil refuses to take a bath or eat, and doesn’t maintain proper personal hygiene. Sunil also displayed deeply resentful behavior towards his daughter-in-law and probably has some unresolved sexual tension towards her. 

As the series progresses, we learn more about Sunil, his lost love, a tragic suicide, and an unborn child. The series is portrayed as a mystery drama, where you can say for sure something is hidden but can’t exactly figure out what it is. The ending of the series is unpredictable and leaves you with a heartache. 

Irfan Khan portrayed the character of Sunil with so much ease that it seems like the audience is witnessing a real counseling session. On the surface when the audiences see Irfan’s character, he comes across as depressed. However, as we get to know more about him, there is an undertone of anger (second stage of grief), sexual tension, and huge guilt building up over time. 

Sunil is an extremely complex character. He was probably brought up by narcissistic parents who hammered a false sense of family pride before anything. For him, putting his family's pride before his happiness is a sign of a disciplined life. As such he resents his son for marrying someone he loves instead of the girl Sunil and his wife choose for him. In reality, he resents himself for not fighting for his own love; he didn’t even think of fighting and accepted the fact that marrying someone from his caste is the best thing to do. As a result, he was responsible for a death. 

All these issues from his childhood and past combined with his recent loss of his wife and moving to America became an unbearable situation for him. 

What will he do to resolve this? The story offers an answer in the end.


While watching, I saw Sunil, (not Irfan Khan) a middle-aged Bengali, his struggle, hopes, dreams, and an endless quest for a disciplined life. And that is the brilliance of Irfan Khan’s acting. You don’t see him; you see the character he is playing. That is the true nature of an Actor.


I will miss him, as will the film industry and people all over the world. I want to finish this with a dialogue from his movie ‘Life of Pie’: 

"I suppose in the end, the whole of life becomes an act of letting go, but what always hurts the most is not taking a moment to say goodbye".







Monday, 27 April 2020

Kabir Singh and a Lazy Afternoon

April 27, 2020 1 Comments

I was going through a very difficult time of my life when my friend (philosopher and guide) Debdatta suggested I should write and put it in a blog. She actually gave me access to her personal blog, and the lazy me didn’t do anything concrete with it. 


After this lockdown, like many others, my husband is at home and eating my head along with sweets, biscuits, and every possible snack and bugging me to do something about my free time. My friends and this husband seem to have a lot of confidence in me that I will do something good in life; however, I am happy with my lazy ass.

Yesterday, after a heated argument, which I think my hubby won, he convinced me to write. Therefore, here I am trying to collaborate one of my favorite subject Psychology with not at all favorite character Kabir Singh. 

Before I start, let me clarify that I am talking about the Kabir Singh as a character, not Shahid Kapoor the actor.



The primary criticism the movie received is that it is promoting misogyny and being anti-feminist. However, I found the main problem in the movie is: The director is promoting a mental illness as a masculine trait and fun qualities. Kabir Singh is clearly suffering from Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED). It is a very much real disorder recognized by DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual). The DSM-5 defines the Intermittent Explosive Disorder as “recurrent behavioral outbursts representing a failure to control aggressive impulses.” (American Psychiatric Association, 2013)

From the very beginning of the movie till the end, there are multiple occasions where it is very evident that he needs some medical help, counseling, and medication. Having a mental disorder is not fun, like many other physical problems it needs to be treated. I actually felt like the director Sandeep Reddy Vanga trying to say like, “hey Kabir! You have a brain tumor (comparing IED with a physical disease to have a better understanding), it’s actually fun to have a deadly disease and the best part is you are not going to be treated, and most importantly, you are a doctor.”

For god’s sake get some treatment Kabir, you are a doctor, I am sure you know some good psychiatrist and they can give you some discount also. Anyhow, Kabir was consuming so many drugs; it won’t kill to replace them with some prescribed medicine. 

I am sure after the treatment, people will not call you a misogynist, and even if you still behave like a jerk with girls, you can definitely do something about it and get improved. But first, consult a psychiatrist.

And lastly, let me tell you who the main villain in the movie is… Any guess…

It is that dean of that medical college, he asked Kabir to write an apology letter for his aggressive and violent behaviors and didn’t bother to understand that he is sick with IED and needs to visit a psychiatrist. 

This is my two cents about Kabir Sigh. I hope I will not get back to my lazy routine and continue to write more. 

Please suggest me something to write about. I struggle a lot with prospective topics. 


Thanks