The thing about the thong

Once upon a time, in a village far far away, there lived a lady with a predilection for thongs. For the uninitiated, these are triangular scraps of material held together with bits of string, that barely cover an interesting bit of anatomy, that we shall call the vajayjay. They are also loosely known as bottom flossers. However, their main attraction is the avoidance of the dreaded VPL.

The aforementioned lady loved her tight white jeans much too much, to wear anything but these under them. She would buy multi packs of them in Marcus and Spartacus, her friendly neighbourhood lingerie store. All was right in the world.

Till, one day, her friend enquired whether she wouldn’t mind loaning her a pair. Loaning? Oh horrors! Who loans bits that cover bits? Particularly her lady garden! No, no. She had spares. She would donate. After all, charity begins at home. And her friend’s home was but two doors away, so technically, it was still home.

Airily, she unfolded one out of the pack. With a benevolent air, she granted them to said friend.

All was right in the world.

A week later, shamefaced friend returned them. Unfolded, unused. Lady was bemused.

“I tried them on”, the friend explained, “But my daughter walked in on me”

“Oh?”, queried the lady.

“She burst into tears”, said friend.

“Whatever for?”

“She said she didn’t think I was one of those women!”

Which left the lady pondering the deeper meaning of the thong.

She concluded: A thong of beauty is a joy forever, but in the end, beauty lies in the eye of the beholder.



Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.”
― T.S. Eliot


There is a fine line here. And most writers walk it fairly well. But when does inspiration trip into plagiarism. Is stealing ideas quite the same as stealing language? Outright plagiarism of course is completely contemptible, and easily identifiable too. Lifting a paragraph from somewhere, passing it off as your own,not crediting the author …and all that terribly mundane stuff that commonplace writers do. What is subtle, and impossible to pinpoint is the adroit lifting of ideas. After all, aren’t there meant to be only seven basic plots to begin with, and everything else is a permutation of these?

Good writing is always inspired writing. And inspiration can come from anywhere. There are times that I have read a story, been impressed with the style, and tried to experiment with my own in a similar vein.Yet, putting one’s own stamp on a piece of work, regardless of where the original idea came from, is the hallmark of a decent writer.

To think of all the movies, books and plays that have been inspired by Shakespeare. The ones that stand out a) credit the source material and b) soar beyond the source material, to connect to their audience at a very fundamental level. Vishal Bhardwaj, an Indian director, has transplanted Shakespeare’s tragedies, into the Indian milieux and context, with enormous success. His latest, “Haider”, has a dithering Hamlet like protagonist, unable to move beyond his father’s death, to connect with what is happening to his beloved Kashmir.

And then, of course, you have the satirical plagiarism. Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” being parodied by Sir-Mix-A-Lot, whose “Baby got back”, her song is inspired (!) by anyway. Convoluted? Yes. But what goes around, seems to come right back around.

Ultimately, let that which inspires you, be a springboard to your own creation. For it to truly become yours, it’s what you do with it that matters. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then by all means imitate. But cloak it with your words, your unique tenor, and you may be on your way to having a halfway respectable piece of work to claim as your own.

(This blog post was inspired by another, more astute one!)

No No to the NaNo?

So, in a fit of misguided enthusiasm, I signed up for the NaNoWriMo. That being, the National Novel writing month. The immediate effect of that was that all inspiration mysteriously dried up. At 445 words, I walked slap bang into a writer’s block so large that it could dwarf Hadrian’s wall. Whither from here? Plug on, as my fellow writers exhort me to. Or abandon all pretence of beginning a novel (let alone completing one)!

Writing to demand has never been my forte. Despite having participated in various competitions, anytime I am given too strict a brief, or a topic not to my taste, I tend to find myself confronting the age old problem of having nothing to say. But the NaNo is not about having a readable novel at the end of the month. It is merely about getting those 50,000 words on paper regardless of whether they make sense or not. The subsequent edits are meant to remedy that. So, why am I not able to produce anything worthwhile?

Perhaps tackling the NaNo is a state of mind, and a state of preparation too. Using the eleven months that precede November to get a semblance of a plot, a structure and the characters in place. Come November, let it spew. That,very obviously, is not happening this year. I will take this as a learning experience though. Observe what my peers do, learn from their mistakes, and try not to beat myself up too much on my perceived failure.

Fortunately, I write as a hobby. Therefore I can allow myself the luxury of time. And of mistakes. I don’t see the NaNoWriMo as a mistake. I see it as something to aspire to. I am not there yet. But I hope I will be, given time….and some rope…

A body beautiful

Walking through the museum, I was struck by how fulsome the women appeared in the paintings. Their curvaceous bodies boasted rolls of fat, sweet little bellies, thighs that were broad and strong, breasts that were firm and ripe. They seemed neither ashamed, nor particularly concerned by their appearance. This, of course, was a painter’s perspective, and perhaps the women then were just as addled with insecurities, as they are now. However, for a very brief period, I was able to suspend all bodily angst, and gaze upon the beauty of the feminine form before norms and diktats started fashioning taste.

These were Renaissance painters who delighted in realism. Therefore, I must conclude, that the women they painted, were not too far removed from the women they saw in their everyday living. Compare that to the emaciated models that people the catwalks of Paris and Milan, and a strange dichotomy emerges. At what point did women stop looking like women in popular culture? When did having a BMI less than 18 constitute having the perfect figure?

I took my daughters along as I wanted them to be exposed to the Old Masters. See the interplay of light and shadows, observe the craftsmanship, the breathtaking talent of these amazing artists. Subliminally, however, I also wanted them to absorb the message that a woman’s body is a wondrous thing. It has the ability to create and sustain life within it. It is not merely a clothes horse. Having a thigh gap is by no means the apex of its achievement.

Sadly, as more young girls succumb to the lure of the fashion magazines, and to the peer pressure of having collar bones that could slice you in two, the incidence of anorexia and bulimia continue to rise.

As my ten year old looks down at the tiny swell of her stomach, and declares she needs to go on a diet, I have to turn my gaze inward, and ask myself, how much I am to blame as well. Every time I have sighed at a pair of trousers that don’t fit, or after a night of excess, vowed to rein it in. Every time I have rejected a dessert with a martyred air, what message have I relayed to my progeny? That denial is good? Virtuous even? That my being a size ten is more important than my being kind, intelligent, aware and grounded?

In examination of what constitutes beauty, I must examine not just what lies without, but also what lies within. An awareness, and a synergy of the two is perhaps the nearest realisation of a body beautiful.