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 :) 

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