Tag Archives: humor

The Venus Flytrap: The Armchair Amourist’s Guide To Valentine’s Day


I’ve never celebrated Valentine’s Day in my life. Don’t ask me why. But considering the popularity of armchair activism in Tamil Nadu lately (yoo-hoo, bona fide Sri Lankan Tamil here, and yes I am talking to You), I’m sure I’m perfectly qualified to proselytize on the subject.

Presenting then, The Armchair Amourist’s Guide To Valentine’s Day. Because face it – with the torch song graveyard that is your iTunes playlist, no one believes you when you claim to be a cynical misanthrope. Here’s a much more believable list of excuses to justify your chronic inability to get laid.

1. The heart transplant wait list – Want to simultaneously give someone the shivers and get them off your case? Offering them an intense look as you take their hand and whisper, “Thank you for the chocolate heart. May I have your real one now? As in, the organ pumping blood. I want to be around for the next season of Lost and really kind of need it,” should do the trick.

2. Women’s rights – I’ll confess I didn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day for a few years running because I was celebrating V-Day, aka Vagina Day, the international campaign to end violence against women. The revolution was my boyfriend (I’ve still got that on a tee shirt). I was simply too busy sending e-cards with visuals of suggestive open fruit and forwards about reclaiming the word cunt to do mushy things with the real one. This probably explains why I find supermarkets so very sexy.

3. Alphabetical objection – Alternately, claim to have a serious issue with the letter V itself. Why does it come before the letter W, which is a double V and therefore twice as cool? Spend the day coming up with a complex theory, invoking words like “semantics”, “hegemony” and “dialectics” as many times as you can. Avoid words like “verisimilitude” and “Voltaire” as far as possible. Then, in the grand tradition of Valentine’s lone rangers, blog it for the miserable masses. If all goes well, by next year, you could even have a chat date with someone you’ve never met in your life (unless Orkut counts as life).

4. Penance – Get by on your glory days. Say you celebrated twice last year, in two different time zones (if you can pull it off, slip in a mention of joining the mile-high club). And that in the interest of fairness, you felt a bit of restraint might be in order this year. You’re planning on celebrating your birthday twice, anyway.

5. Adventures in internationalism – In South Korea, Black Day is celebrated on April 14. Singles go out to eat black noodles and commiserate over their lonely hearts. Tell your friends that in the interest of expanding your cultural perspectives and your palate, you’re going to do this the fully traditional way, and earn your right to be utterly miserable on Tamil New Year.

6. Anatomical accuracy – As someone on a quest for truth and enlightenment, you are shocked by the simplified heart symbol that has come to stand for that most noble of causes, love. Express your disdain by going “visceral realist” (thereby squeezing in a reference to Roberto Bolaño that’ll be sure to impress literary types like, umm, yours truly). Just be sure that any anatomically accurate tattoos you might get aren’t of your heart. We both know that’s really made of marshmallow.

If all else fails, remember: you can still stay at home with your torch songs and a bottle of Shiv Sena-sanctioned non-alcoholic wine. It’s only for a day, anyway. As gastroenterologists say, this too shall pass.

An edited version appeared in The New Indian Express. “The Venus Flytrap” is my column in the Zeitgeist supplement. Previous columns can be found here.

The Venus Flytrap: Dentally Retarded


I want to be a dental dunce. I really, really do. The first of my wisdom teeth has declared a very conspicuous appearance, and it’s making me believe that the person who christened these mofo molars as such was probably the same one who came up with that adage, “ignorance is bliss”. I’d rather be a dental dunce than be equipped with intelligent enamel.

Given that like all offspring of doctors, I am predisposed to mild hypochondria (again, strictly genetic – my father looked at a recurring heat boil I had on my knee at 10 and pronounced that I had cancer), a disbelieving friend raised an emoticon eyebrow. “Just wondering if it’s real wisdom or a bad ulcer,” he typed.

Which is ridiculous. Everybody knows that real wisdom can only come from deep reflection, autodidactic curiosity, and a generous infusion of ayahuasca (substitutable by chocolate where required by law).

Wisdom teeth, however, are less discerning. They come inconveniently – like when someone suddenly calls and wants to put your mumbled statements down on record for the press. And when your friends want to treat you to a fancy celebratory lunch (of course, one can always drink the pain away, ahem). They also swell up your cheek – on your good side, too! – so that you’re forced to do that fabulous photo shoot like some demented supermodel gone kawaii-style, all sucked in cheeks and carefully-positioned sign language.

I’ve been flexing my jaws more often than, well, a venus flytrap. It hurts to keep my mouth closed. But it also hurts to eat, to swallow, and to talk, in roughly equal measure as it hurts to do none of those things. I have one hand perpetually on my cheek, open-mouthed, like some perpetually gasping, pouting heroine. Or a goldfish with a hand. Growing wisdom teeth just bites – and not in any good ways.

I suppose by this point you would have realized that my ironically idiotic ivories are coming out only on one side of my face. This is probably a saving grace of some sort. For instance, you only need half your face to be on a postage stamp, throw an attractive silhouette, and be drawn in hieroglyph. All useful distractions when one does not have the mercy of anesthesia or anything but evolutionary glitches to blame.

Wisdom teeth are supposed, both in folklore and etymologically across the world, to signify the development of sound judgment. I would have to say they’ve certainly helped me make some sensible decisions. I’m too sore to think of clever arch remarks, so now I just say, “My wisdom teeth are coming, so goodbye”. And no more wasting time trying to settle on where or what to eat. I just go home and sniffle into some lukewarm soup while the mutton curry sits in the fridge, as tempting as Eve’s apple. If it’s bigger than a piece of fusilli, I can’t put it in my mouth. Something tells me that the tooth fairy is really an anorexia enabler.

And it’s not like I even actually need them. After all, I’ve been masticating, speaking and avoiding dentists to great success for nearly 23 years. If I must grow new teeth anywhere, I’d rather have vagina dentata anyway (for reasons not to be held against me if you look like Gael Garcia Bernal or Salma Hayek).

So really, I would rather be foolishly fanged and dentally retarded than have the sullen, starved sagacity of wisdom teeth. Life should be devoured in healthy slices, not in timid little slurps. And I am very, very hungry for it.

An edited version appeared in The New Indian Express. “The Venus Flytrap” is my column in the Zeitgeist supplement. Previous columns can be found here.

The Venus Flytrap: Dial M For Misuse


The government of Tamil Nadu launched an “integrated emergency care” scheme last week, which will make getting assistance during any emergency situation just a phone call away. Naturally, this is a welcome measure, especially since our national security has recently come under threat. The only problem is, an emergency is a relative thing.

A woman in Scotland, for instance, contacted her local version of the 108 because her pet rabbit’s ears weren’t floppy, as promised in a newspaper ad. Perhaps she was a believer in chaos theory – and the floppiness of her bunny’s ears directly correlated with, just guessing here, her sense of perspective. Other Scottish calls of interest and exasperation included a complaint about too many onions in a takeaway meal and at least two about being splashed with puddle water by passing vehicles. The Japanese police force, meanwhile, claims to have suffered 950,000 nuisance calls in 2007, among them some real crisis situations like wanting a lift home in a patrol car owing to not having enough money to take a taxi.

Since we do live in a most melodramatic country, and that too in a most melodramatic city, I’d wager that the new emergency response scheme is going to have its many hands and hotlines full.

To begin with, when I said that emergency is a relative thing, I really do mean that it is almost definitely going to be a relative thing. My parents once dropped by the neighbourhood police station because my sister didn’t pick up her phone for an hour. Now, they can just put the emergency number on speed dial.

Joining them, of course, will be all the usual suspects – the neighbourhood spies, the know-it-alls, the rumour-mongers, the jealous spouses, the even more jealous mothers-in-law, the in-fighting heirs… Make no mistake about it – this emergency number is going to take centrestage in quite a few misadventures of the Great Indian Guilt Trip variety. What’s a Tamil film without a scene involving cops? And what better way for life to imitate cinema, that old favourite Indian aspiration, than to have them at one’s beck and call to intervene in any commotion one feels like creating?

The demand could be so overwhelming that the emergency response hotline centre will become the new, trendier call centre. Hip youngsters with fake accents and non-existent curfews will make way for sensitive new age types with seductive stories about the latest cat they miaowed to over the phone and convinced to climb down a tree, or more entertainingly, about the Savita Bhabhi-esque damsel they sweet-talked out of her “hysteria” over missing her travelling husband. Chetan Bhagat wannabes galore will be spawned, derided, envied and made wealthy – only this time, with community awards to boot.

What’s more, 108 being a somewhat religion-friendly number, and the lot of us being somewhat superstitious people, I’m sure it won’t be long before someone gets it into his or her head that starting the day by dialing a sequence of auspicious numbers might be a good luck prescription. At least the person handling the call will be greeted by a serene voice, for a change.

All this frivolousness will make for some funny news stories. But as someone somewhere keeps the line engaged by crying wolf, someone else somewhere else could be in a real crisis. And all the floppy bunny ears in the world might not be able to get them out of that one. So spare a thought before you dial the hotline. After all, you wouldn’t want that aunt who goes through your call register to suspect a conspiracy.

An edited version appeared in The New Indian Express. “The Venus Flytrap” is my weekly column in the Zeitgeist supplement. Previous columns can be found here.