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     Volume 4 Issue 30 | January 21, 2005 |

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Stardust in my Eyes

Srabonti Narmeen Ali

Every month the magazine salesman comes to my office and triumphantly hands me a copy of my favourite magazine (other than SWM, of course) Stardust, at which point I retire to my corner of the cubicle that all my office colleagues and I share and I thumb through the entire thing, oohing and aahing over the pictures and skimming through all the Bollywood gossip. My colleagues, through experience, have learned to leave me alone during my ten-minute absence from reality and these days, do not even bat an eyelid. Now, you may all laugh, but what can I say? I have been bedazzled by the glamour and clamour of Bollywood's glitteratti. My friends say I am ridiculous because I have actually started referring to them on a first name basis -- sometimes even going so far as to call them by their nicknames, Bebo, Lolo, Ash, Mads. Unfortunately, this is what happens when you are a self-proclaimed tinsel-town addict. Call it wishful thinking or pure boredom -- whatever it may be, I am shamelessly hooked.

In the midst of my head being in the clouds and my eyes being starred, the new year came and went. Like most people, I made a few New Year's resolutions. The first was the customary "I will make it to Bollywood and become a famous singer, actress and dancer," resolution that I unfailingly make and unfailingly break every year. The other was surprisingly uncharacteristic for my usual fortune and fame frame of mind -- it was to be a better person in every way I could -- lofty goals, I know. Being a better person for me included being less catty, less petty and mean, more forgiving, more patient, less angry at the world, more generous, less of a pushover, more able to stand up for myself, stronger, less irritable and most of all happier with myself. I suppose being in my mid-twenties and suffering from the infamous quarter-life crisis has jerked me somewhat shakily into self-awareness. If Bollywood does not work out for me (God forbid), I might actually have to live with myself (imagine the horror), instead of getting through all of life's disappointments and hurts thinking that all the people who have wronged me will regret it when they see me on the silver screen. (But it's such a great pick-me-upper!)

So, in trying to be conscientious about my new year's resolutions, I keep them in mind whenever I come across a confrontational situation (most of the time it doesn't help, but at least I'm trying). For some strange reason, these irritating goals got in the way while I was catching up on my monthly gossip of my favourite super stars. I must shamefully admit that when I was reading Kareena Kapoor's comments about Preity Zinta and Amisha Patel, I found myself actually thinking about how mean she was and how ungracious she was being, instead of feeling the usual wicked bubble of laughter that these tidbits of information usually induce.

In fact, to take it a step further, I actually found myself philosophising about women and their psyche (which is dangerous pastime, even for us). Before I could stop myself, I came to the conclusion that women were each other's worst foes. In fact, no wonder men treat women so badly. Why would they not, after seeing the way women treat each other? I have always believed in the power of sisterhood and women supporting each other. However, when I think about it, who, apart from our very close girlfriends support us or empathise with us during our hardships? Most women, contrarily, are even more unsupportive and unnecessarily rub salt into the wound by gossiping or being nasty.

Dhaka is definitely no stranger to catty and petty women. In fact, I sometimes doubt that most women even like each other. And it's a tradition that gets passed on from generation to generation. In the aunty generation, you find women gossiping about another woman's children, her husband, her job or lack thereof, her lifestyle. In our generation we come across girls being nasty about another girl's clothes and how tight or loose they are, her hair, her friends, her mother, her lifestyle. I haven't really observed the grandmother generation but I'm sure it's all within the same lines. At the risk of sounding like a complete traitor to my sex I have to say that women are their own worst enemies. Not to say that men don't come as a close second, but really, who expects much from them...they are, after all, the less intelligent sex. Stereotypically, the only thing that men have which we inherently do not, is innate practicality and logic -- the dangerous kind, which is the very thing that makes most men emotionally challenged at growth and lacking in the finer things in life. We being the sex that has everything, including the ability to be logical when we have to (but really, why bother), are so insecure about ourselves, that we spend our lives putting other women down to make ourselves feel better. On the other hand, maybe it doesn't stem from insecurity. Maybe we are just extremely critical about our own kind, and very vocal about it at that. Unfortunately, that still doesn't make it better. Maybe women just lack the ability to co-exist peacefully. It seems that way sometimes.

And who would have thought that I got all of this from an article in Stardust magazine? It's sad that my new year's resolution had to get in the way of my monthly journey into the Bollywood world and my conscience (which I didn't realise existed) decided to become preachy while I was catching up with my favourite stars and their whereabouts. But if I want to be a happier person, which is basically the ultimate goal behind all my resolutions, I should start by not finding faults in other women, and stop looking for reasons to criticise them -- maybe even get along with them and be supportive of them at times. At the same time life does get extremely boring when people are that "holier than thou." So I guess the next time I read about the ongoing battle between Kareena and Priety, I think I'll have to allow myself a good chuckle.



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