Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Safety Pins

I'm guessing no one's unfamiliar with this thing called the safety pin.

Of course, it prevents the 'drapes' from falling off and causing embarrassment; it holds the dupatta in place and averts the breeze from being mischievous.
But there's more to safety pins.

Picture this. I am in the dark interiors of a cinema hall. A Hindi movie is ablaze on-screen. I am comfortably settling to the proceedings. The movie is Kareeb.
And then, I realize, much to my discomfort, that there's an intruder!
A man, seated behind me, has stretched his legs and is wiggling his toes at the back of my seat.
I guess I don't have to tell you how 'exactly' it was unnerving. For the uninitiated, it was in the vicinity of my derriere (this is as explicit I am going to get!).

All of thirteen then, it was my first brush with the lecherous lot. It does suffice to say, I lost my innocence right then. And the irony...let's just say, his feet were too Kareeb for comfort !

My brain is pushed into the fourth gear. I wonder how to tackle this? I have half a mind to stand up, turn around and slap the guy. But, that will just attract a lot of attention; and not to forget, I will ruin the movie experience for others as well. Moreover, I was with my family and I didn't want them to know this (I don't know why!).
In despair, I look around. And EUREKA! A movie scene distills out from my memory. And I proceed with 'Operation POKEmon’. I carefully extract the safety-pin which I used to pin up my dupatta. The man proceeds with his next attempt. I let him. And then, I strategically position my safety pin and wait patiently; like a tiger lying low for his prey.
The next thing I feel is a pressure on my pin!! Needless to say, the humble pin had done its job.
I am only amused that he didn't shriek out in pain. The jab prevented further attempts.
I watch the movie in peace.
Now you know why it's called the 'safety' pin.

Being a woman, I am used to this and more. The 'innocuous' brushes and 'accidental' touches by men are commonplace. I am sure others from my ilk will agree. Women who commute daily by train or buses will have more stories to share. And that's why chilly powder, pepper powder and safety pins have replaced diamonds as a 'girl's best friend'. These household items have a newfound respect in women's hearts.

Thank God for the safety pin!!

P.S. – Actually, thank Walter Hunt. He invented the safety pin. The safety pin was invented while Walter Hunt was twisting a piece of wire, trying to think of something that would help him pay off a fifteen dollar debt. On April 10, 1849, the safety pin was patented. Walter Hunt also thought little of his safety pin as an invention and soon sold the patent for four hundred dollars. Then he watched his latest brainstorm go on to become a million dollar money earner for someone else.

Thought for the day : " Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is. "
~ Francis Bacon

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The 'Brand' new Indian !

Mera joota hai Japani,

Yeh patloon Englishtani,

Sar pe lal topi Roosi…

Forget that it was circa 1955. Forget that it was Raj Kapoor á la Charlie Chaplin tramp.
Forget that he was a penniless vagabond, content with the ‘small things’ in life.
Wipe off all pre-conceived notions and sing again; probably the image you will conjure up is that of a modern-day yuppie. That is today’s Indian for you.

He is a walking, talking advertisement for the latest brands. He gives a new meaning to the phrase ‘brand ambassador’! Armed with a swanky mobile, latest four-wheel drive, and suitably decked in designer wear; he’s all set to take on the world.

Thanks to globalization, India has opened her floodgates to foreign companies and brands. With a burgeoning population of one billion plus and a booming economy, India is the market to capture. Consumerism seems to rule the roost. And no wonder. With the explosion of media, we are constantly at the receiving end of vigorous campaigning and advertising. And today, armed with a hefty pay packet, the yuppie has innumerable spending options. And surprisingly (at least for me), India has been pushed into the league of the most brand conscious countries globally. India comes at the third place in this survey, at the heels of Greece and Hong Kong.

A news channel recently termed this phenomena ‘affluenza’; and rightly so. We are becoming richer…too soon; too fast. The filthy rich have the ‘got it, flaunt it’ syndrome. The flip side is the increasing tendency to gravitate towards brands. And woes betide you, if you don’t know the brands. “Arma…what?” - and you will get disbelieving stares. “Gooki?”- (Gucci) and you will be ridiculed!

And that explains the booming ‘mall culture’. Everyone is out to grab a share from the ‘affluence’ pie. “Niche is the new mass”, screamed the cover page of a business magazine. Companies are targeting the ultra-rich in order to boost their bottom lines. Profit by increasing sales volumes is passé. Premium pricing and exclusivity is in.
Limited editions, anyone?

And move over adults and teens. Tweens are the next big thing. “Catch ‘em young”, goes an adage and the companies are taking it to heart. Disney has already struck gold with Hannah Montana and High School Musical. The collectibles are selling like hot-cakes and has left the tweens gasping for more. Add the passing on of guilt money, and we have a recipe for disaster. Quality time not spent with kids is settled with ‘pocket money’, leaving children in the driver’s seat. They are far more aware of choices at their disposal, and now have the resources to indulge. Subsequently, consumerism has trickled down to the very base.

What is more disturbing is what eventually comes out of this- exhibitionism. Everyone is fixated with showing-off their priced possessions. Add to this concoction, the off-shoots of such a lifestyle. Now we even have something called Oniomania (A medical term for a shopaholic). Oniomania, can now replace diabetes as a ‘rich man’s disease’. What more can happen, only time will reveal.

Back to the song:

“Phir bhi dil hai Hindustani…”

I leave that for you to figure out.

Thought for the day:" Life is wasted on the living."


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