Pretty fly – The Offspring


This video is more enjoyable than the actual song. Real fun begins at the ‘Give it to me baby’ chorus.

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Anna Kendrick – Cup Song


Anna Kendrick‘s sweet and mellow voice is as refreshing as old wine in a new bottle. I will not go as far as to say that she’s bringing the 90’s back, but her success might drill some sense into music producers & record labels to promote ‘talent’ as they did in the 90’s. I think we’ve had enough twerking, swinging naked & hideous outfits in the recent past. Enjoy The Cup Song!

Miss America 2014, Nina Davuluri Shows Us Who The Real Confused Desi Is


Photo courtesy: http://www.gotceleb.com/

Photo courtesy: http://www.gotceleb.com

Sunday the 15th of September 2013 is a date Nina Davuluri will never forget, she became the first Indian American ever to be crowned as Miss America.  We all know what happened immediately after that, racists bigots and plain stupid people started flooding twitter with their hate messages disapproving of the panels choice. As expected there were some users like @JAyres15 who made paradoxical comments such as “I swear I’m not racist but this is America.” while others like @pizzo_nick  kept their tweets plain, simple and straight to the point with “So miss america is a terrorist

Americans who were disgusted by such behavior swiftly came out in defense of Nina and drowned out the undesirable tweets, so much so that many of the haters either deleted or protected their accounts, a minority few like @pizzo_nick however stand by what they said. Nevertheless, support for Nina after that initial racist backlash was overwhelming. The new Miss America took it in her stride by saying that she will have to rise above all the hate.

Sadly Nina’s skin color would’ve been a major impediment that would not let her win even a local beauty pageant here in India. I am an 80’s kid who has witnessed the transition of advertising messages for skin lightening and fairness creams go from in-your-face to politically correct over the years. The manner in which the message is conveyed may have changed but the message hasn’t – The lighter your skin colour gets, the more attractive you become.

As far as the average Indian mindset is concerned ‘Foreigner’ is a term restricted to white skinned folks from Europe, Russia, Australia, New Zealand & America. Those from neighboring countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Myanmar, Bhutan & Afghanistan are just that……Neighbors. The Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Indonesians, Cambodians, Vietnamese & everybody else from South East Asia are their respective nationalities, they don’t conform to the aforementioned condition and hence don’t qualify as ‘Foreigners’, same applies to those from the middle east.  And if your skin color is black you are African. No, we won’t bother to guess that you might be Jamaican, Puerto Rican or an African-American.

Femina Miss India is the country’s longest and oldest running beauty pageant which began in the year 1952. Trained in the classical dance forms of Bharat Natyam, Kuchipudi, Kathakali and Odissi, Indrani Rahman was the first ever winner of the pageant that year.  This year Manasi Moghe will be representing India for the Miss Universe pageant, Navneet Kaur Dhillon for Miss World & Sobhita Dhulipala for Miss Earth. What these girls have in common with their many predecessors is that they don’t come close to Nina Davuluri’s beautiful chocolate skin tone or even if due to some divine intervention they do, they magically appear lighter from the time they win the national pageant to when they represent India on the International platform.

Femina Miss India (1952) - Indrani Rahman  Image source: http://www.asiafinest.com/

Femina Miss India (1952) – Indrani Rahman
Image source: http://www.asiafinest.com/

Ask any Indian mother who has a son of marriageable age about their idea of a daughter-in-law and the first thing most will say is that she should be fair. Ask why and she will tell you that she wants really cute grand kids. Such cultural bias towards fair skin runs deep irrespective of caste, religion and financial standing. Bollywood movies, TV talk shows, advertisements & more recently the incredibly popular India Premier League routinely feature fair skinned actors, dancers & cheerleaders.

So sick is our obsession for Caucasian features that our marketers appear convinced that even infant products would have a higher appeal only if white kids are featured on kids apparel, baby food packaging and toiletries.  Some brands like Gini & Jony and online retailers like Jabong.com & hushbabies.com almost exclusively feature white kids in their marketing visuals.

Screen grab taken from www.jabong.com on 22/09/13

Screen grab taken from www.jabong.com on 20/09/13

Screen grab taken from www.hushbabies.com on 22/09/13

Screen grab taken from www.hushbabies.com on 20/09/13

Indian kids are deemed fit for appearing in government advertisements related to Polio Vaccination and other child welfare initiatives. The world of glamorous photo shoots for apparels and other items elude them more than often.

Screen grab taken from https://www.facebook.com/ginijony on 22/09/13

Screen grab taken from https://www.facebook.com/ginijony on 20/09/13

So when Nina Davuluri was crowned Miss America the common reaction one could get from friends and family was “What’s so special about her? She is no better looking than any average Indian girl” It is not uncommon for a kid with the darkest skin in the family to become an object of ridicule for siblings, cousins, uncles, aunties & grandparents at family functions, because everybody has got to laugh and have fun, right? These moments of torture can begin with – “How come you are darker than your parents and brother?” which may be followed by  “Hey! I know why. A black cat crossed her mother’s path when she was in her stomach” and then conclude with lethal barbs like “Your parents are going to have a tough time finding you a fair husband, you may have to settle for someone who is jet black”.

Marketers and media fat cats understand this cultural obsession all too well and are busy indulging the masses with their offerings. Just when the sane folks amongst us thought that these spin masters can’t go any lower than using big celebrities to push quack remedies for acquiring an angelic glow, they slipped further in the dark abyss of human genitalia as is demonstrated in the following advertisement for Clean and Dry.

Following condemnation of the product and advertisement, Alyque Padamsee the director of the advert was quoted as saying – ‘The only reason I can offer for why people like fairness, is this: if you have two beautiful girls, one of them fair and the other dark, you see the fair girl’s features more clearly. This is because her complexion reflects more light.’, an explanation that even the great physicist, Sir C V Raman would’ve envied.

Sugar Ray – Someday


One of Sugar Ray‘s best songs, every 90’s music junkie has heard this awesome track. This is one of those songs that is still played on radio station‘s everywhere. Mark McGrath‘s gravelly voice and the laid back tune makes this song perfect to be playing in the background when friends get together.

Ariana Grande brings the 90’s back!


Ariana Grande’s ‘Baby I’ is a refreshing track that pays ode to the 90’s music and fashion. This artist is bursting with musical talent and the fact that she is incredibly cute is an added bonus.  I think we are witnessing a legend in the making.

Maximum City: As presented by National Geographic


National Geographic gives a lowdown on what makes Mumbai tick.

Backstreet Boys – As long as you love me


When I was an undergraduate, it was impossible to go to a college festival and not hear this track being played out.

Ghetto Superstar


This was my Jam back in the day. I used to wait all day everyday to watch this song on MTV. Mya’s voice and beauty blows me away every time I watch it.

90’s – A time for great music and terrible fashion


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Those of us who grew up as teens during the 90’s would agree that this was a great time for music no matter what part of the world you were in. But almost everybody would agree that the 90’s was a time for the most awkward fashion trends, particularly men’s fashion.

India liberalized its economy in 1991 and the country’s middle class reveled in this never before witnessed ‘ka-ching’ phenomena. I remember my father raking in moolah throughout that decade, every Diwali was sweeter and louder than the one before.

Foreign television networks exploded on CRT TV sets throughout the nation post 1995 with the introduction of Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act. MTV made the first inroads in the youth psyche with its colorful, clean, techy, vibrant visuals and smooth talking hosts like Nikhil Chinapa, Cyrus Broacha, Maria Goretti, Sophiya Haque & Shenaz Treasurywala

Those days MTV was sincerely interested in playing the best music from around the world. The Backstreet Boys made a big impact on the pop culture scene with their chart topping “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)”, many others followed – N’Sync, FIVE, 911, Code Red, Michael Learns To Rock, 98 Degrees, No Doubt, Westlife, All-4-One, Boyz II Men and many others.

The way that these bands had an impact on men’s fashion was that men did not have to restrict themselves to Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan or Akshay Kumar for fashion inspiration come Diwali or Raksha Bandhan. The Backstreet Boys and Guns N’ Roses were on everything from T-shirts to lunch boxes. Here lies the origin of some of the most cringe worthy school and college time photographs. I have no doubt it was a time of great confusion for the stylists of these bands and that confusion trickled down to the masses thick and fast.

Full sleeved & ribbed turtle necks! Can anybody ever forget them? I remember wearing them in Mumbai‘s sweltering heat and feeling sublime. Baggy jeans which were then referred to as ‘anti fit’ were a rage too, so were thick denim shirts. And if you were not wearing ‘anti fit’ jeans you were still wearing them high above your waist.

Everything that was impractical to wear in Mumbai’s humid climate was considered trendy. I remember cheap Tommy Hilfiger knock offs being immensely popular those days, any polo neck t-shirt with a pattern of unsightly vertical stripes and a small logo on the pocket was considered a bona fide and hence a must have wardrobe item.

Wearing white colored running shoes or hiking shoes by Woodland with formal trousers is a fashion faux pas that was commonly seen in every college campus back then. But no fashion crime can be bigger than the one I am going to tell you about – wearing socks and sandals with a pair of loose cargo pants was considered the epitome of coolness in every college and coaching class. A sandal brand that went by the name of Kitos was akin to what Crocs is today and people literally scrambled over each other to buy them from street side vendors.

Those were the days people! I sincerely wish I could go back and do it all over again.