Condom Story of a Twentysomething Fool

Recently one of my friends suggested that I should look for an advertising job. That discussion led to sharing my ad film making experience with him. Before he adds masala and spreads fake story, as precaution, let me publish my version here :)

Rewind to college days.

As part of an Advertising assignment, we had to produce few video ads based on certain themes. Instead of choosing a familiar, uncomplicated and jovial subject, I decided to make an ad on condoms. Let the blame be on the age…the phase when kids go to any extent to prove their nonexistent intelligence without realizing how idiotic their actions are!

Coming back to my ad – the aim was to convey the importance of using condoms. Familiarizing the product being the first step in the process of film making, I decided to buy one. There were no super markets or upscale stores close to college, so the only place where I could get it was a medical shop near our hostel. I leaned against the counter, scanning the shop to find out where it was kept. When I saw a strip of Moods sachets hanging, I felt relieved and happy. The shopkeeper asked me, “Hmm? What do you need?” I said, “Vicks menthol”. Like a loser, I walked to my hostel room with useless menthol drops not knowing why I bought them.

To arrive at a quick solution, I shared my problem with my junior roommates. One of them, a micro biology student asked, “Akka… do you want one for male or female?” Before I could even say anything, the B.Com girl affirmed, “Yes yes…condoms are definitely not unisex”. 

Since the cyber café search histories were monitored diligently, I didn’t want to do any research on this misleading topic from the hostel. If you are wondering if there were no better ways, let me remind you...this happened during a time when mobile phones were not smart enough.

To help myself, I recalled all the sleazy portions from Mills and Boon and novels of Nora RobertsI realized that in fantasy, there are lots of necessary detailing that deserve attention and a condom holds least significance. The reader will definitely be annoyed if the author reminds the hero about taking precaution while he tries to slip his hands inside the heroine's blouse. Then I thought I would ask my pregnant sister to shower more gyan on the topic. But I did not want to take a chance with her unpredictable hormones. Pregnancy mood swings could cause lot of emotional damages, I have heard. I didn’t even want to ask my ‘always jump the gun’ cousin because I feared even before I finish explaining the project to her, I might get a call from my mother asking why I need a condom. 

Later when I remembered the “garb nirodhak goliya sirf mahilaoke liyeDoordarshan ad, I was convinced that I was right. I asked my roommates to consider learning zoology instead of biology and accounts, for future benefits. 

I went to the same shop again. With all the courage gathered and a straight face, I placed the order, “I need 3 condoms. Pink.”.
After a brief five seconds pause, he said, “I don’t have pink ones.
Me, “Any other color? Like…dark green, sky blue, lemon yellow?
He, “I only have white. Beta, color doesn't make any difference to how it works.
Me, “Okay…give me one white. And do you have colored balloons?
He, “I don’t sell it. But I warn you…don’t ever use balloons. Very dangerous!
I burst out laughing, couldn’t stop even after reaching my room.

Anyways, long story short…I made a very shitty ad with the things purchased. 

PS - Dedicated to the guy who initiated this post. Who's he? The one who closes loan deals worth million Dirhams almost everyday. Oru puli :D 


An open letter to Vineeth Sreenivasan

Open letters are very much in trend these days. I too have been wanting to write one for a long time. 

However, whom to begin with was a tough decision to make considering the fact that I have got lot of prudent questions to ask and personal anecdotes to share with many significant people in the world.

After an intense filtering process, I short listed few people and of them, I decided to write my first open letter to the boy next door, Vineeth Sreenivasan. If you are wondering why I have narrowed down my choices to this guy, my only reasoning is…“ഓൻ നമ്മളെ Kannur-കാരൻ മിടുക്കൻ ചെക്കൻ അല്ലെടോ!" :) Congrats dude, you have won over Arnab Goswami, Mohanlal, Dalai Lama, Baba Ramdev and Jayalalitha.  

Disclaimer: Written in Kannur Malayalam so that my emotions do not get lost in translation :)

Dear Vineeth,

First things first. "ജേക്കബിന്റെ കഥ ഉഷാറായിന് കേട്ടാ. നാട്ടിലെ പ്ള്ളറെല്ലും ഓന്റെ മോന പോല ആയിനെങ്കില് ഈട ഭരിക്കാൻ LDF-ഉം ബേണ്ട, UDF-ഉം ബേണ്ട. നാട് താന നന്നായിക്കോളും. ഒറപ്പ്!" 

When I watched your first movie, I exclaimed at my friends with disappointment, "ഒറ്റ ഒന്നിനും പാടാൻ പോയിറ്റ്‌  ഒന്നു മൂളാൻ പോലും അറീല. ചുമ്മാ യൂട്യൂബ്-ഉം തട്ടിക്കൊണ്ട്‌  ഇരുന്നോളും. Waste!!" 

Then I watched your next movie. I reminded my friends, "എത്രപ്പാട്  തട്ടം ഇട്ട മൊഞ്ചത്തി പെണ്ണ്ങ്ങള്  പൊടിയും തട്ടി ഈലേക്കൂട പോയി; ഒന്നിന പോലും ആരെങ്ങിലും line അടിച്ചോ? തല്ലിപ്പൊളികള്!" 

After watching the next one, I couldn’t help saying this to them, "സെൽഫി, കുൽഫി എന്ന് പറഞ്ഞ് mobile-ലും പിടിച്ച് സമയം ബെറുതെ കളഞ്ഞോ. അതിന കൊണ്ട് എന്തെങ്കിലും ഗുണം ആരിക്കെങ്കിലും ഉണ്ടായിനാ? ഒരു കള്ളന  പോലും നിങ്ങള്  എപ്പങ്കിലും പ് ടിച്ചിനാ? useless-ഉകൾ!"

Ahh...how I wished, like in your movies, if my friends could spice up my mundane home-cook-office-eat-sleep life. 

Beyond this, my friends couldn’t take my ranting. Like every other conventional cinema loving Malayali, they too opened the big fat book of 'greatest ever Malalayam movies’ and began to preach, “ഓ...പുതിയ  കൊറേ  ചെക്കൻമാര് സിനിമ  ഉണ്ടാക്ക്ന്ന് ണ്ട്. പഷേ, പഴേതിന്റെ അട്ത്ത്‌ പോലും വെരൂലാ. സിനിമാന്ന്  പറഞ്ഞാല് കിലുക്കം, ചിത്രം, അമരം..."

“എന്ത്ന്നാന്നപ്പാ നിങ്ങള്!” I interrupted, “Stop resting on your laurels. Move on. എന്ത്  പറഞ്ഞാലും അപ്പം തൊടങ്ങും - നാടോടിക്കാറ്റ് , മണിച്ചിത്രത്താഴ്, തലയണമന്ത്രം!"

Meanwhile, in the background – “മങ്ങലം കൂടാൻ ഞമ്മളും ഉണ്ട്  ചങ്ങായി..."

Suddenly one of them suggested, “Goa-ക്ക്  ബ്ട്ടാലോ?”

Since I believe in the saying 'what happens in Vegas Goa stays in Goa', കൂടുതൽ എനി ഒന്നും പറഞ്ഞ് over ആക്കുന്നില്ല:)

Vineeth, എന്തായാലും Thanks-ണ്ട്, കേട്ടിനാ...for all the awesome movies made so far. Looking forward to many more. Cheers!! 

Much love,
Pink Mango Tree

My First Snow Adventure

I was a little girl when I first saw Arvind Swami and Madhoobala chase each other in snow with the picturesque Himalayas in the background. Their game of throwing snow balls and rolling over in fresh snow seemed fun to me. During Roja era, my ultimate dream in life was to slide down the snow-clad mountains of Shimla with my brother, blowing raspberries and screaming out in excitement.

Years later, I watched Madhuri Dixit in a blue transparent chiffon saree cuddling Anil Kapoor in a similar setting. That’s when I realized how stupid my former snow plan was; there are far better things to do in such awesome weather. Few modifications were made to my whimsical life goal…thus brother was replaced with boyfriend. 

Years went by…plans remained as mere goofed up plans that failed to even get out of my head. Reality was very different from the dreamy teenager’s holiday ideas; neither could I find a boyfriend nor visit Shimla. However, destiny led me to America, the official land of chilliness and snow. I was glad to realize that my old plans were actually not dead and I found hope in bringing them back to life. 

We decided to spend few days in Chicago with our cousins. While packing stuff, I was wondering if I should include a saree too. My husband is not a good dancer or a singer; yet I thought running few laps in the snow together would be very romantic. I was excited as a child when we boarded the flight; couldn’t wait to explore and experience what was in store. It was a dream that was going to come true!

Even before giving a welcome hug, my cousins who came to pick us at the airport wrapped me in a five kg jacket, fixed fleecy muffs to cover my ears, slipped my hands into feathery mittens and to finish, put a woolen stole over my head. “Isn’t this a bit too much?”, I asked them feeling stuffed and heavy. Their reply was just a sarcastic giggle.  

After we reached home, I removed all the extra fittings and I went to the backyard in my pajamas to feel the winter as it was. In less than 10 seconds, I couldn’t feel my face, thought my limbs were going to fall apart and felt breathless. Immediately I ran inside yelling, “How the hell are these rhinoceros-skinned Bollywood ladies doing it then? Bloody deceivers!”  

In spite of having said the above, snow is
actually a beautiful experience. So, go for it :)


PS - This post is a continuation of the WhatsApp conversation I had with my 7th grade buddy. Ahem...who also lived in the same Roja era. 


The day I decided to grow up

I happened to mention to one of my friends that I still watch the TV series F.R.I.E.N.D.S. He laughed at me, asked me to grow up. How mean!

However, when I evaluate…I think he has made a valid point. The world has moved on; people have left behind television sets that looked like pregnant woman and have acknowledged the presence of 3D TVs. But look at me - still stuck on F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

At times it helps when somebody wakes you up to reality. And as per his suggestion, I decided to watch the popular Netflix series NARCOS. The name did not impress me at first. For some strange reason, I was reminded of Suresh Gopi throwing up superfluous English jargon at a giggling Godman.

However, once I started watching the series, I realized it is not what I expected at all. The hero doesn’t provoke the villain by narrating his own story of fatherless childhood some 718 times and the heroine is not so dumb to mistake the heinous villain for a pious man. (Ekalavyan fans in Kerala...you get me, right?) NARCOS has got the perfect blend of everything that a thriller demands – plot, suspense, fights, locations, bloodshed, nudity and so on… After six episodes, I wanted to take a break. It was too much for my delicate chick flick brain to handle in a day.

I went back to F.R.I.E.N.D.S. and laughed my head off at Phoebe’s “Smelly cat…smelly cat”! Giving up an old bad habit is harder than giving up narcotics :p :p So what about my decision to grow up? Hmm…forget it!


Rewind. Play.

When I was a child, I couldn’t wait to grow up. But now that I’ve grown up, I realize writing imposition and standing under the sun during PT classes were any day better than living an incompetent life in a disgraceful real world.
The time spent with friends within the walls of our school undoubtedly contributes to most of my childhood memories. Pen fights, passing lunch boxes, throwing chalk pieces, shooting paper bullets, giggling at strict teachers…we have done it all.
Thanks to technology; those kids who once upon a time were together inside a classroom in uniforms gathered virtually from across the globe after about 20 years and became active conversationalists. If not childhood friends, I don’t think we could talk with much ease, without any inhibitions.
From where we left in the mid-90s, things have definitely changed for each of us. Like…this boy who was chubby, who was so white, who punches others, who teases everyone, who breaks pencils and rulers, who eats my food and who makes faces at the class when punished. I thought he would grow up to become a Gabbar Singh, the anti-hero of that era who represented villainy.
But what is he now? He is very witty, also a hopeless romantic who talks endlessly about his affectionate wife and mischievous son. He sings beautiful love songs and is very encouraging - the kind of the guy who brings in high-spiritedness to the lives of those around him.
I regret for being so wrong; unlike what I presumed, he grew up to become a Shah Rukh Khan and not an Amjad Khan :) 


Super Dramatic Filmi Mornings

Open your eyes Amma”, he whispered into my ears.
“Today is Sivaratri, you may sleep for some more time.” I replied with my eyes still shut. Turning the whisper into a roar, he snapped back poking my eyelids, No Amma... I can see light through the window. It cannot be ratri for Shiva”.

That was how Sivaratri began at home, a no-school day for my son. Holiday for him means I don't need to drag myself out of the bed very early to stuff in toothbrush into his mouth, implant milk & breakfast into the same mouth, pull him out of the pyjamas, dress up, bury his legs into the shoes and send him to school. 

I'm sure every mom reading this will nod their heads in agreement; but what about the dads who sleep with drooling mouths when so much is happening in the background? Their reaction could be, “Oh; I've heard this somewhere!

To every non-parent who thinks what's the big deal about this routine, I can explain.

Waking up early to see silent & dark neighboring houses is quite depressing. I hate to even visualise them snuggling under the blanket when I'm already awake to take on the day. Yes I admit, I'm jealous. For a person like me who has zero to minimum flair for cooking, kitchen is not the place to start off the day. And whenever I enter there, I look at the dosa batter sitting on the table wishing if it magically turns into consumable food and redirects to respective tummies and lunch boxes. Alas; unfortunately life's not that easy!

Couple of days ago, when I was preparing morning tea & breakfast, the little fellow came to me rubbing his eyes, “Amma... I want to go to Cubbon Park. I will not go to school today. Totally ignoring the statement, I took him to the rest room and asked him to brush his teeth. When he noticed the picture of Mickey Mouse on his toothbrush, he began, When Donald was trapped on a tree top, the mouseketeer..."
Me: Shhh... Keep quiet.
Lil Fellow: Don't talk to me; Amma's not my friend.
Me (trying to be nice): Do you know what happened to Bobby's teeth cos he didn't brush well?
Lil Fellow: If you don't want to listen to my story, don't tell me Bobby's story.

I took a deep breadth to hide my impatience and exasperation. As I listened to his Disney tales, he successfully completed the rest room rituals. From there I towed him to the dining table placing him before a glass of milk and went back to the kitchen to finish my work. Even after five minutes, he was seen holding the glass looking into infinity, totally expressionless. I yelled, “What is there so much to think about? Finish your milk. FAST!

He reciprocated with a yawn. And with a baffling stretch, he was all set to embrace the day. He started blowing into the glass to make bubbles and in the process, spilled it all over. I screamed so loudly that I would have perhaps put my next door neighbor to shame for sharing the floor with a child abuser. Not having enough time to waste on more drama, I forcefully made him gulp down rest of the drink. Next, I served dosa and asked him to finish it soon. Though a portion was deposited in the fish bowl and smudged against the table, I was glad that without my involvement, he consumed some bit of it.

As I was helping him dress to school, he asked, Amma, can I come to your office?”
Me: No. my mam in office doesn't like kids coming to work.
Lil Fellow: Then, can we go to a restaurant?
Me: Yes, we could go in the evening.
Lil Fellow: Okay. Then I will get ready in the evening.

Before I could even react, he removed his trousers & tee & jumped around in underwear. I was feeling bad for my vocal cord as I had no choice but to shout again. Cutting the long story short, somehow I managed to step out of the house with him feeling like a champion.

On our way to the bus stop, we laughed and conversed with every flower, grass blade and butterfly. Just before boarding the bus, he gave me a tight hug saying, “You are prettier Amma, when you smile!” 


Test of G.K.

Last month was fun. I made friends with few extremely entertaining ladies and had a gala time with them treating our taste buds from small & big eateries around and also pulling each others legs

One of them is an expat, who was born and brought up outside India and recently relocated to India. I felt it was my moral responsibility to be a city guide and take her for an exploration to make her too fall in love with Namma Bengaluru!

As part of the exercise, we were in Landmark where this book titled, Satyajit Ray’s Ravi Shankar kept on the shelf caught our attention.

Me – Do you like him?
Charu - Indeed yes; I have read about him. He has even written a popular book, right?
Me – In fact, many. His short stories are interesting and gripping!
Charu – Oh; are there scientists who write fiction?
Me (confused) – Errr….scientist?!!
Charu – Wasn't he the Prime Minister or something of India?
Me – Ab… Abdul Kalam? 
Charu – I didn't know there are many ministers in India with aviation background! Impressive, I should say!!
Me - Speechless
Charu – By the way, what is this cartoonist doing with him?
Me – Cartoonist? Who?
Charu – Isn't Ravi Shankar the guy who created this ‘checked shirt dude’?
Me – R.K. Lax….???!!!!
Charu – I have decided to buy this book, anyways.

Even without checking the synopsis behind the book, she bought it and walked out of the store. It is definitely going to surprise her; a helicopter launch is probably what she expects turning every page!! 


When Shibu was Renamed...

Shibu is my friend (read 'shi' as in shit + 'bu' as in bull). His full name is Shibu Wallance. I have always felt that his first and last names make such a horrible combination - like malabar fish curry and apple pie. Imagine consuming the two together; ones digestive system would hold its operations for an indefinite period declaring hartal. What would have sounded better as a pair is Bullet Shibu or Komban Shibu or may be Alavalathi Shibu :p

Talking about Shibu, he is a fantastic story teller; but sadly he could find no listeners. He is also a fabulous writer; but he had no readers. Shibu was deeply disappointed.

However my point is…how could somebody with the name Shibu even attempt to write or tell a story? All the Shibus, Shajis and Byjus on this planet are supposed to shadow the ugly anti-heroes in Malayalam cinema whose only job is to chase Mohanlal/Mammooty and get beaten up black & blue.

Coming back to our man; Shibu continued to be sad and lived with a heart ache until God showed him the way. He decided to come to me for advice.

I had the solution to his problem. “It is time to wipe off your parents' first gift to you. Find a new name for yourself. Do you have the courage to embrace the change?” I asked him. "Yes", he roared!

Shibu definitely liked the idea; he was excited and all set. I had a few self-invented, ground-breaking, truly-enterprising names in my mind like Raj Malhotra, Mangalasseri Neelakantan and Mogambo Khush Khush. However, the selfish devil in me hinted that I could use them later when I release my first book as I too do not originally have a great name. Anyways thanks to Google; after testing all possible permutations and combinations, he finally zeroed on Jude Virgil Wallance. Shibu was thus reborn! Jude published his first novel and was overwhelmed to see the response. He finally lived his dream of becoming a novelist.

I felt very happy for Shibu Jude; was so thrilled to see hundreds of online articles about him and his new book. The best was when I asked Google with the help of a Voice Search App, “Find Jude Virgil Wallance.” As you know, Google need not think a lot; so the answer came to me in the next second, ‘Nude Virgin Videos’, followed by an array of YouTube videos. As I rolled on the floor laughing, I shared the screen shot of my latest discovery with Jude Shibu and he replied, “!@#^&**%#*&*^%# WTF!!!

PS – If you find me missing, some random Shibu or Shaji who has read this blog post would have kidnapped me. Please do the needful to find him and rescue me. God bless you, thanks in advance.
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