Saturday, December 31, 2011

Farewell, my friend...........

Dear 2011,

I still remember the time I was awaiting your arrival, and I had fondly promised a million moments of happiness with you. I remember, as if just yesterday, how I wrote (here) about hopes and anticipations for you.

As you get ready to be a part of what we like to call history, I would like to think that I have been worthy of having known you, lived with you, laughed and cried with you as a true friend would. I know of moments that have no precedent, moments where the whole mystery of life, even if momentarily, seemed to make sense. Moments when I have thanked the Almighty for having given me a second chance at life.

You, 2011, have shown me so many faces of my own life I didn't know existed. Take writing for instance; you made me take that one step which changed the way I look at words today. And good heavens! You even made a few people actually LIKE what I write - that explains my love for you, I guess!

You got me closer to my passions - ofcourse, it does have implications. My passion for food - and we all know how many pounds THAT has added to my personality! My passion for my family and the kids - though they seem to be growing like weeds, I still have every picture etched in my memory of you. The many times I have been able to meet, laugh and sometimes cry, with faces from the past, and renew our enlightened relationships.

You have also, through some  actors in your grand scheme of things, rooted me firmly to the ground, whenever I got too full of myself. No, don't be modest - you think I don't know who put my wise mentors and my well meaning friends right there at the right moment just as I was getting my head bloated? Needless to say, I would like to thank them all today - and maybe you can help me with that!  

Not to forget all the times when you have made me doubt my decisions, forcing me to look at them again - some of those decisions today have become my values which is etched to my character now, and some decisions have made me wiser for having tripped and tumbled, having made them wrongly.

Make no mistake; it is not as if we haven't had our little misgivings. I really have to sock your nose for some of the things you've done during our little rendezvous.... beginning with all the trouble you have been giving a friend; nay, a soul-mate of mine. She needs you to be a little more optimistic about the way you write your script, you know! So lets strike a deal, shall we? You tell that little trainee of yours, who we will get to meet tomorrow, to give her a better deal, and we are fine..... OK? 

My friend, as we gear up to celebrate your passing on the wheel of time to 2012, I want to thank you for all the beautiful sights, smells and tastes encountered in your passage. May the world remember you as the benevolent year when we all grew richer in passion, better in profession, kinder in person and closer to the Divine.

Farewell my friend, and a Happy new year to all!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Don 2 Review

I never watch movies first day first show. I am the kind who prefers to ask around and find out how the movie was, before I invest 3 hours of my life on it. So the answer I gave someone when they asked me about my comparative urgency to see DON 2 was - Shahrukh and Farhan Akhtar - hey, what could go wrong?

Well, it is with great conviction I feel now, that Farhan Akhtar (and I swoon as I say this) should continue to act, and maybe even sing and dance (a la Rock On and ZNMD) but direction he should leave to sister dear.

DON 2, to be fair, had a formidable task - it had to bring new wine in old bottle, without losing the zing. And the plot was such that it COULD have happened too. I mean look at what all it had going:

- The idea of the heist is good - the Euro plates
- SRK looks sexy; from his linen-coat-long-hair-sleeves-rolled up look, to the Mission Impossible black.
- Lara Dutta has oodles and oodles of oomph, Priyanka manages to do some believable fight scenes
- Boman Irani, SRK, Kunal Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Lara Dutta, Alyy Khan and Om Puri - how can you go WRONG with that? (if you are wondering why Om Puri's name comes last, it is the saddest Om Puri I have seen - that's why!)
- The action scenes are slick - reminds you of Oceans 11, or even a Mission Impossible.
- The trailer is just superb!!

Then what happened SRK and Farhan ? I'll tell you what happened - Don 2 is totally unbelievable, and hollow. Agreed, Indian audiences love tacky dialogues and we worship SRK - but really? You thought we would buy this? Let me explore why -
  • Dialogues - I understand why Ahktar wuld put in dialogues such as "Don't tempt me" (by a nasty looking Piggy Chops with a gun held on Don's head) - I know we cheer when we see these dialogues in action flicks from the great H. But believe me, here, you KNOW its coming! Other dialogues such as "Jab tak Don ko asliyat ka pata chalega, tab tak Don mar chuka hoga” - make you want to cringe! Much of what has been said in the movie should have been left unsaid. Some of the dialogues look like they have been translated verbatim from English - like maybe they dreamt up the scene in English, and translated it with Google translator or something. Eg: "Ab mein ne sab kuch dekh liya." (by a sinister looking Boman in a comical pose.)
  • Tall tales : How would you like to see SRK looking 6 feet tall? Let me not spoil one of the few surprises the movie has by letting you in on the secret. Lets just say, we are expected to believe SRK looks like a tall (!!), suave, green eyed gentleman in a scene. Also, you really think the MI-inspired-heist would go wrong because something tripped from SRK's clumsy hands?
  • Emotionless acting : Om Puri is acting in his sleep, and Boman has only two expressions. PC is trying very hard to balance sex appeal and toughness, and SRK well, is SRK. There could have been fireworks in the chemistry between Roma and Don, of which we see only some meaningless conversations (which, incidentally, I could predict halfway through the first dialogue.) How I wish we could have caught some of the sparks which the directer wanted us to catch!
  • Unused characters : Kunal Kappor, was a breath of fresh air, with a dash of human emotions in the roles, but he had very little to do! He was the only one who seemed that he was not sleepwalking, and unwittingly, the only gasp quotient in the climax involved him. Lara Dutta had nothing to do other than dance in that single dance number, and look pretty (which she did a good job of) - there was no twist involving her.
Verdict : My action-flick obsessed husband slept off in the first half, and I kept hoping to catch the Farhan Akhtar I saw in Dil Chahta Hai (just love that one!). My kids, however, aged 8 and 4, came back hopping and jumping like they had seen Don do it. And they were mouthing much of the dialogues as well. So I guess we know which genre the movie fall under! Do go and see it - just so that you know how SRK looks in an untidy hairstyle!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A hotel Review

Been travelling - a part of my job that keeps me sane enough to want to go back to work (yup! I got a clever boss!)

Also want to introduce you to a blog that got created with this one, but got terribly ignored, becasue I couldn't find stuff good enough to feature there. But have started thinking that maybe you guys can tell me how it looks.

http://hospitalityshowtime.blogspot.com/

See you soon with something better than a news report!!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Paperback - the climax!!

Notice how we grow accustomed to irritable behaviors of people we are constantly badgered with? I have now been ignoring my blog so often, saying sorry seems an unnecessary step. But apologies accepted, I hope. Aww.... please? Pretty pleeeeeeease?

Ok, now that we understand each other better - here's what I have been waiting for all my life (in addition to that diamond bracelet and that world tour, ofcourse!) - my first presence in print! So now, you can read my words while attending to very important business on the potty seat too! (Hey! you possibly couldn't be doing that with a laptop now, could you? Unless your office has one of those chair prototypes that ensure maximum productivity!) Am sure Kalpak (of the empty vessels fame) would have more graphic details of the feasibilty on the same, but will restrict the same for now.

And here's the first look guys!

Needless to say, I am walking all over the spilled out contents from my bloated head, while at the same time biting my nails down to the last molecule of keratin. Out in Jan 2012, and fingers crossed......

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Meet the parents

What 'Men are from Mars...' did not cover was how men and women behave as parents. And believe me, when we take a close look at ourselves, it looks straight out of a comic book. As Manu Joseph would have us believe in his amazingly simple novel 'Serious Men', "When you observe serious men long enough, they become comical."

Parenting is very serious business. It goes beyond the institution of family, and on to create the futures of the world. And there are many concientious parents who truly believe that they can make a difference to the future with their contributions.

But, having said that - THATs certainly not what I am going to write about now. Completely true to my Aquarian bearing and sarcastic little grey cells, I fully intend to bring out the comic side to this very serious occupation.

Have you seen parents talk? To each other, to their own kids, to other kids, to THEMSELVES (yup! this borders on slight schizophrenia common to parents with really bad stress management skills). And here, fathers take a complete different take on the same issue as mothers. And THAT, ladies and gents, is what I intend to portray here. Some samples:

Scene 1. Four year old toddler has decided to take up painting as a profession.

Problem : His canvas is your satin-finish-expensive-as-hell living room WALLS and his paints are discretely smuggled nail paints and lip gloss.
Mother : *Scream/wail/gasp/faint*  followed by *run/scrub/hyperventilate etc.*
Father: : "Dude, you know how we can get this goop off my TV screen so I can watch the match?"

Scene 2 :  8 year old comes back saying the neighbour's kid would not play with her.

Problem : You want her to be able to make friends, get enough exercise by playing in the park, learn to play badminton, and OUT OF YOUR HAIR while you burn err.... make dinner.
Mother : "How many times have I told you that the best way to keep friends is to share your stuff.... what did you refuse to share now? And do you think dinner makes ITSELF come on the table? And after all the pastas I have made for the neighbour's kid when SHE comes here.... hey! COME BACK HERE!! ....."
Father : "Great! Now we can see the match together..... Did you know your Dad was the best bowler in college.......?!"


Scene 3 : Getting ready for a wedding

Problem: Its a WEDDING !!
Mother : "You, get off your butt and take a bath. YOU, stop watching your stupid cartoon and finish your milk. And YOU.... you just stay out of they way!" (you can decide what statement holds true for whom!)
Father : "I'm telling you EVERYONE's gonna be late - its a WEDDING, for heavens' sake. And why does she need to take a bath? She just showered yesterday!"

Scene 4 : Four year old brings back a note from school :"Your ward is not willing to write inspite of the teacher's help and prefers to draw cars" (yes, they ACTUALLY write 'ward'!)

Problem : Its MY son, dammit!
Mother : "How dare they call my son an idiot! What do they expect, an Oxford professor in Nursery? Where's my pen, let me write something intelligent back so that she'll know WE are not idiots!"
Father: "You the man! You like cars, dude? Wait till Dad gets his Ferrari ........"
Mother: "@#!$%$#^#$!!"

Scene 5 : Some poor shy little eight year old guy smiles at daughter at a party.

Problem : Daughter is cute
Mother : "Aww.... he's such a well behaved kid! Whats your name beta? Who is your Mummy?"
Father: "Grrrrrrr" When alone with the guy, "Watcha doing here? Got no folks of your own to bug?" While pulling said daughter behind him.
Mother : "What was that all about? Why did you make the poor guy cry?"
Father : "He's a GUY - that's why!"


Scene 6 : Son falls down and hurts knee.

Problem : When 4 year olds scream, the whole neighbourhood thinks you are murdering someone.
Mother : "Aww.... baby, its ok. See Mummy will beat the rock that hurt you (yup! we really do it!) Whack! whack! And Mummy will give you a kissy - wissy and all the pain will vanish" (can you believe this crap works?)
Father : "Get the band-aid! Get the dettol! Get the cotton! Oh my God! Blood! Where's the buffoon who knocked you down...............We may need to get the tetanus ....."

Scene 7 : Two parents talking

Mother : "Your son is so sweet. He really knows how to behave in front of elders." (While thinking "Wonder which school he goes to! But what horrible taste in clothes!")
Other Mother : "Oh thank you. He is verrrrry studious in school. But we have always encouraged his dance classes as well." (While thinking, "I hope she asks about his dance so that I can mention the Boogey Woogey competition he was in!")

Father : "Hi. My son can draw cars." (Thinking, "I wonder which car he likes to draw - I bet its a Ferrari.")
Other Father: "Really? Mine too." (Thinking, "I should check if  he can draw a Ferrari....")
*Shake hands and leave.*

No. I do not want to give away my family, but thank you very much for asking!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Paperback ...... the first part....

My sister went through a rough patch in life, and she lives literally, saat samundar paar. She has a friend who understood, and wrote about her difficult time. He is a superb doctor, and an amazing blogger. She sent me a link to the beautiful words he had written for her, and I was hooked. I became an addict of his blogs, and almost stalked his site.

He wrote short stories too. And I thought "What the heck! If a DOCTOR can write, so can I! And this fellow is my JUNIOR from school, for heavens' sake!" And I wrote.......

I saw my work getting published online, and I was prodded on by many friends, including my sister and  Doctor Roshan Radhakrishnan  to keep writing. And write I did....

And then a story was selected for print. And the tease that I am, I shall let you know the details in a later post ........ buahahahahaha!!

Till then, wish me luck!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

City of all seasons

"Don't dare destiny." My mother would say, wagging her finger at me while giving me the why-did-I-ever-teach-her-to-talk look. Well, she was right. The stuff I said I would "NEVER" do, I ended up doing. It started with glasses.

"Yuck! I will NEVER wear glasses." I had famously declared when the doc said I had a small number and the headaches would continue if I didn't wear them. That was age 10. Now, age *none-of-your-business*, and I need my glasses to see my nose in the mirror.

"Sheesh! Who wants to get married and become a bai? Not to mention irritating, tiresome, pooping babies!" Golden words at age 20. Now - you guessed it - married, AND kids! Cook, wash, clean, and every other chore you can think of - been there, done that.

Among many such declarations, one was "Any city in the whole damn world, but Delhi." No prizes for guessing where my home sweet home is located - Saddi Dilli.

The best (and the worst) thing about Delhi is the weather. Two times a year, the whole city goes berserk getting ready for the change in weather. Summer to winter transition starts October end for the foresighted ones, and by mid December for the ones who prefer to wait till their butts get frozen. But like the saying goes - change is inevitable in Delhi.

  • The first signs of approaching winters is with the most important individual in the household - the Bai. She reminds you that she will leave earlier than usual - "Andhera ho jata hai na" (it gets dark faster, and she is actually Cinderella in disguise, so she must scram before nightfall....).
  • Next, you realize that cottons, georgettes and chiffons are disappearing. (for guys who think these are names of exotic French wines - they are fabrics which are light and suitable for summers). These are replaced by crepes, silks and wool.
  • Clotheslines outside homes get interesting - you will find rugs, blankets, razais (thick, mattress-like blankets), shawls and other nick knacks out in the sun. (Where these things disappear off in the summers, is another well kept secret in all self-respecting Delhi households.)
  • Dry cleaners become the most profitable business (next only to wedding caterers - more on that later) as everyone brings out their woollens into the open.
  • Shopping, which was already in a frenzied pace due to the festive season, now reaches a crescendo - after all, Delhi and shopping are almost synonyms of each other. BTW... conversations often are thus:
    • "I am bored" .... "Lets go shopping."
    • "I feel neglected."..... "Thats so not true. Come let me take you shopping."
    • "I am broke."....... "Awww.... well, lucky there's a sale ... lets go shopping."
    • "I am hungry" ..... "There's a new Chinese place. We can shop after lunch."
    • "I am engaged to be married!" ..... "Wow... lets start shopping for the wedding!"
  •  Weddings, weddings and weddings. Remember all the silks we were talking about? THIS is the reason winters were made - to allow for great, big, glitzy, shimmering weddings. Farm houses, and tent wallahs become the most sought after, and wedding destinations become the topic of conversations. From wedding cards to return gifts, (can you believe you go for a glitzy wedding, ogle at all the beauty, eat from 10 different types of cuisines, gorge on all the desserts, taste all those weird cocktails in the FREE bar, AND get a return gift - which you can subsequently gift SOMEONE ELSE for THEIR wedding - feels like heaven, feels like Delhi!) everyone is vying with their neighbour to throw the best wedding in the country!

    Foooooooood!!
  • Early morning fog starts rolling in (today was the first day this season!) and you start saving on petrol. How, you ask? Cool weather = No need for AC in car = more mileage. (Good heavens - you weren't thinking of the BUS, were you?)
  • Samosas, pakoras, chaat parties become more frequent in offices. What to do? Your body needs to burn more calories to keep you warm, no? And then, you always wear a coat or a sweater - so all the added tyres are hidden. Khate jao, khate jao, Sardi ke gun gaate jao!
  • Sleeeeeeep! Especially mornings! If there is heaven on earth, the bed with a cozy razai on a cold winter morning certainly is!
Just love the Delhi winters! Happy winter to all!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Through the four-year-old looking glass

This entry is a part of the contest at BlogAdda.com in association with imlee.com

I know exactly why there seems to be no end to the population situation in the world today! I mean, just take a look at this scenario:
  • Step 1 : Discover you are pregnant (there exist various sub-scenarios within this - but the one I describe here are less controversial. The other situations call for stronger words than *Oh! God, really?*, but this is NOT one of'em.) P.S. .... this step is currently valid only for the ones with a uterus - this may extend to the remainder of the species when science progresses enough to get a guy pregnant (that'll be the day!)
  • Step 2 : Your spouse does the open mouthed,whatcha-been-smoking, glazed out stare, followed by a stammering "A-a-are you s-sure?"  hard enough to think you have been married to a coconut. (what? that's the largest nut I know of, smartass!). P.S.... you really don't want to know what the answer was.
  • Step 3 : Decide to undertake professional hara-kiri, and declare at work that over a few months' time your cabin is going to be occupied by a rapidly growing, highly explosive giant who may want to take more trips to pee, than to the gossip center in the office. P.S... add a dash of no alcohol, no smoking, no dancing, etc etc to the list
  • Step 4 : Spend close to a year trying find your center of gravity - which is constantly shifting due to the above said replacement happening. 
  • Step 5 : Go through something called labor. No, not the blue collar kind. More like the @#$#!@%! kinds. P.S. .... no, you DON'T want to know which word that was.
  • Step 6: Cry your heart out when you hold the little brat for the first time, AND every time he gets hurt.
  • Step 7: Whooosh! Before you know it, little brat is 4 years old, and you pine for baby brat again! Symptoms of this stage : you go "awwwwwwwwwwwwwww....." everytime you see a baby.
  • Step 8: Go back to step 1, with all memories of the steps from 2 to 6 erased from brain. Result? Ta-da..... population control can go fly a kite!

This is EXACTLY how my second child was born.... and he turned 4 yesterday. Some discoveries that his little overactive brain has come up with:
  1. After yesterday, "Happy Birthday" is the new greeting in our house. Every time the phone rings, he runs to pick it up, and he yells a deafening "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" to the caller.
  2. At a wedding, 4-year-old goes up to the bride, stares hard at her, touches her hand, and then asks me "Is she real, or she a cartoon?" (before the collective gasp, an important fact to be considered is that he watches a lot of his sister's Barbie cartoons - so I guess he meant that in a good way!)
  3. What do you do if you have laddoos in both your hands, and have been told by a stupid mom to take blessings from grandparents by touching their feet? Zimble .... you use the power of science. You touch THEIR feet with YOUR feet, and touch YOUR forehead with your forearm. Conduction will take care of the rest! Who said 4 year olds were stupid!
  4. What do you do when everyone around you in class is frantically writing/scribbling, and you have no clue what to write in your notebook ? You start tearing the pages off your book and distributing them to the poor kids who will, no doubt, exhaust all THEIR pages pretty soon. That's what selflessness means, amigos! 
  5. The best way to ensure the milk glass is emptied in 10 seconds? Spill the whole damn thing on the best rug you can find in the house. Better still, pour it into the flower vase - flowers need nutrition too.
  6. Want to look cool? Try wearing left shoe on right foot and vice versa. Never fails to garner attention.
  7. What to do when aunties you don't like, give you a kissy-wissy? Vigorously rub off all contact germs on cheek with shirt sleeve - immediately after the kiss has been planted, RIGHT in front of said Aunty - message delivered.
  8. How to share a cream-filled biscuit with older sister. Open biscuit, lick off ALL the cream from both sides, magnanimously hand over BOTH sides to the unsuspecting sibling.
  9. How to make sure a theatre full of people remember your birthday? Dance to Chammak-challo in the hall, and holler "Happy birthday" to every passer-by.
Happy Birthday Sarthak!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Mango Pickle

In a mood to ramble ..... so please ignore the post if you are looking for anything remotely intelligent!

Mangoes played a very important role in our growing up ages. Ofcourse, the fact that we were almost always on, or under a mango tree, while playing outdoors, contributed to the love for the fruit. I have already written in depth about the magnificent mangrove that formed a part of my childhood. For those of you who missed it, read it here.

The mango season coincided with the vacations in Kerala, and various cousins from different parts of the country (and in some cases, the world) would arrive within a few days of each other. We were mostly accompanied by parents (who by then had become unimportant details for the holidays), but the heroes were those cousins who were the 'unaccompanied minors' in the giant "Tharavadu" house of my grandparents.

Each one of us had our favorite quirk. There is Rajettan (ettan = big brother in Malayalam), who loved climbing trees, or anything that looked intimidatingly tall enough. Somehow, he had no sense of risk - whether it involved in scaling tall trees, or sliding down the slanting tiled roof or jumping into the little pond in the backyard. We would stand below, shouting to him which mango we would like plucked out and thrown to us, and he would laughingly oblige. He would usually be the ring leader when we went trudging uphill to an aunt's house. He is today a dental surgeon-professor, but I know, given a chance, he would still love to be climbing those mango trees, and eat the raw mangoes with salt on them!

And closely following him would be Arunettan, who was the best person to have on your team when we played 'pitthu' (or seven tiles), since could think like a decorated general in war! Then there is Anuettan. The oldest of us all, and the one who was old enough to be 'unaccompanied' most of the times.

Reshma, and Amrutha the two most fashionable sisters, who knew the latest songs, trend, movies and were also toppers in their respective classes. Needless to say, they set the bar high for everyone in the family. Then there is Praveen, the youngest male in our generation, who would get bossed around by all of us! He and I shared a special bond - and we would discuss all and sundry while playing badminton, or when we had our evening hikes to the hillock. All problems of the world - career choices, broken hearts, scary encounters with seniors got discussed on that little hillock we all so loved.

Then there were the 'little kiddo' cousins - the ones who always got bullied into gathering the flowers for Onam, but rarely got to make the flower carpet, the ones who always waited longest for their turn at the swings, the ones who got left out whenever we had 'trade secrets' to share - Seema, Priya and Indu .... still think of you as those little kids !!

My grandmother was (for want of a stronger word) a fantastic cook. She made fabulous sambars and avials and kootu curries. But she also made amazing meen curry - inspite of being a strict vegetarian! One of her legendary pickles was nicknamed "Ammammende Achar" - which translates into Grandmom's Achar.

She would painstakingly make oodles and oodles of them for all of us. She would lovingly walk around the long dining table with a jar of the most amazing achar ever, putting precious spoonfuls of it on to our plates. By the time she reached the last person, the first person would have polished off the pickle on his plate, and Ammamma would make the next round. This would go on till a sensible older cousin realised what pigs we were, and tell Ammamma to just leave the whole darn jar on the table. Ofcourse, the jar would be empty of all contents when we finally left the table. Towards the end of the holidays, Ammamaa would declare that the current jar was the last one (however, she always kept a few jars in safe custody of the high almirah of the store rooms, which all of us carried back across the globe. These were the days when airlines were not such pain in the ***, and allowed pickle bottles on flights!) The last few pieces of achar always saw epic battles being fought, sly cousins stealing it from the plates of the less wary ones, or older cousins bribing the younger ones for it.

Ammamma would then come in to console us, letting in on a secret - she would put extra into the jars that went into our bags. After a few years, age weakened Ammamma'a eyesight, and she couldn't trust herself to make the perfect achar. She would now sit at the dining table when we had our dinner, but the achar was conspicuous by its absence. Years later, after her demise, Ammamma and her fantastic achar always crop up in our conversations. Love you Ammamma!


the enigmatic Ammamma


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Phoolon ka, Taaron ka.....

Warning : Mush Alert!!!

When the 'bundle' arrived at home, everyone seemed to be gushing. I - a mere 4 year old, was suspicious and curious. My mother laid down the bundle on my lap, asking me if I knew who this red-faced, sleeping blob was. I nodded, not knowing whether I could touch, or whether I was just supposed to 'look' - just like all the lovely china she had.

She told me to touch my sister - and I was instantly in love. In Kerala, we have special 'baby massage' women - those who lay the baby down on their legs and knees and then give them a bath. Looks weird, but is the safest way to bathe infants. We had "Dechchu Amma" - she was an expert - had bathed three generations of babies in our family. Before I knew it, she was home, laying my beautiful, fair baby doll on her dark, oily knees. I created mayhem - screamed at her, telling her not to touch my baby. And Dechchu would have all the fun in the world by saying "I'll touch her and make her as black as me!" I remember even complaining to my beautiful Grandmother why SHE should be bathing the baby.

As we grew older, we became friends, rivals, enemies, protectors and trusted guides. We went through phases in our lives where we felt the other one was getting all the unfair attention from our Mom. Dad managed to stay out of controversies by doing what every Dad is good at - splurging on both of us!

Then came a stage where we had priorities thrown our way by way of marriage and families. We had tough choices to make, and we had only instincts to tell us the way. She had her own share of struggles, when I was going through turmoil in my life. But I knew she would be there for me - every time I needed her. I can only hope I can be as supportive as you were for me!

I remember her standing up to the 'Karnavar' (that's what we call the oldest male member - usually an Uncle - in the matrilineal society that Nambiars have. These guys make all the decisions!) much to the shock of all around - when she had to support me in one of the difficult situations I faced for a family ritual. She would lie, hide, coerce and rebel for me.

Today, she is a wonderful mother, beautiful wife and a fantastic professional, we are all proud of. And today is her birthday.

Seema, you have been one of the most precious gifts God has given me. My best friend and the only person I can be completely truthful to - because I know you love me unconditionally. Happy birthday, sister - and wishing you only the best of everything the world has to offer - coz' you deserve the best!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Of wiggly little bottoms and sleepy eyes

An earlier post on bringing up my kids, aimed primarily at humour, also brought about an element of "OMG" with it. Many young, yet-to-be-mothers (and fathers) were concerned that my nerve racking discovery may well mean dwindling population figures (and no thanks to you, Mister 3G-pe-beejee!! P.S. It took me WEEKS of careful listening to figure what the words in the song of the add was all about!).

So here I bring out the pros to all the cons that I lamented about in the last post. I have to be honest here, though. It was never a smooth ride on a well lit highway - and it never will be. My well wishers in all sizes and ages (all the bhabhis, didis and aunties to be given due credit here - 'coz so far, things have shaped up pretty much the way they said it would...) have told me the bumpy, blink-and-you-will-miss-a-milestone ride called parenting will never end till you breathe your last. But then, looking at the brighter side of life, being a parent is like learning how to drive in a BMW convertible - you will never want to sit in the back seat and let go of the steering wheel.

So here goes my random list of memories that keep me smiling ear to ear when I look at my kids.

  1. How I fell in love the moment I held my first-born in my hands. I thought my heart would just burst with varied emotions. I also thought that I would never be able to love anyone as much I did her. I was proved wrong. With the second one, I fell in love with the first kick in my tummy - I didn't even need to see him to know that I was hooked for life - lock, stock and barrel.
  2. How they run up the flight of stairs EVERY evening, racing to reach me first when they come back from school. Their little arms and faces telling me what I can never hear enough of - that I am the most important person in their lives.
  3. My daughter brought back a prize she won in school - bright shiny wrapping paper still on! She hadn't even opened it to see what it was, because she wanted me to see it. Beats even the imaginary Booker on the bookshelf!
  4. When they bring back little red stars in their school books, you can't help but smile. And you know your smile makes their day - talk about multiple benefits! 
  5. The pleasure of seeing wide-eyed comprehension and awe when you explain something complex - like photosynthesis (for the 8 year old) or how to write an '8' without lifting your pencil off the paper (for the 3 year old)
  6. Dressing up a squeaky clean 3 year old in their 'nighty-night' pajamas, or the excited 8 year old for her dance recital.
  7. The 'tickle-tickle' war games on the bed, the water wars in the bath
  8. All the firsts - the first pearly tooth, first word (which incidentally was not "Mamma" for either of them - but who cares!), first day at school, first time on stage, first 'real' wristwatch, first school picnic...... and all the others yet to come.
  9. How my son once got hold of my nail paint, painted his LIPS with it, and came to show me the result. (After nearly a heart attack and half an hour of scrubbing his face, I finally started laughing)
  10. How they think EVERYTHING can be repaired by their Dad - even if it means that Dad secretly gets a new one to replace the ones that he can't mend!
  11. How they fall asleep in the middle of eating, or how they purr in their sleep. (OK.. it may be a snore, but sure sounds like purring!)
  12. "Look Mom - I can eat and sleep at the same time"
  13. How they think their Dad is cooler than Krishh or even Ben 10 ! (Lucky Dads - all they need to do is tell tall tales and ruffle their hair, and he's super Dad.)
  14. How they outgrow their clothes and their shoes, and you know you must be doing SOMETHING right for them to grow like weeds!
  15. How they sometimes do stuff like sharing their toys, or telling the truth - to make you realize how YOU possibly can raise a good person after all...
I am not saying that things will always remain the way they do today. I know the kids will outgrow the tickle games, wiggly-bottom dances and the hero worshipping. But if I am to believe all that my mom told me, I am never going to outgrow being a parent.

    video


    If you liked this post, catch a hilarious take on marriage here , which incidentally, is also one of the most popular posts on this blog!! Happy reading

Monday, October 17, 2011

Step-by-Step Survival Guide to Mornings

I am thoroughly upset with Darwin and his obnoxious theory of evolution. And to think there still exists doubt on whether humans evolved from monkeys!! I mean, how else can you account for the fact that human kids assume monkey-like intelligence in the wee hours of the day? With extreme conditions calling for extreme measures, there is now a code to every move and counter move in my early morning jungle.

For mothers who look like they've stepped out of the damn cereal commercial - just walk away without reading this post. Believe me - you don't want to know what a REAL household looks like!

Usual turn of events follow the following steps:
  1. Turn off the alarm and mumble a prayer to the God of Time to wait for 5 minutes before it turns 'Get-up-or-you-are-screwed'  hour
  2. Discover in horror that the Time God did not grant you your wish and hence you are, indeed, screwed.
  3. Jump out of bed while looking for the slippers you swore you left by the side of the bed. Amazing how the bloody chappals have developed their own brains but the kids haven't!! 
  4. Run to the kids' room, while threatening mass destruction. That may or may not cause the 8 year old to realize the explosive situation, and WAKE up.
  5. Discover that 8 year-olds are HEAVY to pick up and drop into the bath. Yes - DROP is the right word.
  6. Discover that the bournvita has just caked up into one, solid, miserable mass - and here I quote from SRK's earth shattering, brain numbing act - "If you gotta get screwed, the whole damn universe conspires against you and then, Govinda Govinda!" - or something like that!
  7. Remind the sleeping-on-the-potty-seat 8 year old about the promised mass destruction in code language. In my household the code language is "You awake?" The answer comes by way of another coded message - the flush!
  8. Pack lunch - seemingly simple task. But consider all probabilities - healthy food, TASTY food, availability in the fridge, keeping power for a few hours without changing, tasty when COLD..... and all this has to be in the SAME food!!
  9. Get kiddo into uniform without killing her or damaging the uniform. Difficult - especially in effing Delhi winters. Why, you ask? Pray let me explain:
    • Layer 1: Warmers
    • Layer 2: Shirt and Skirt.
    • Layer 3 : Half sleeve sweater (stupid school uniform!!)
    • Layer 4: Gloves, Socks, Cap
    • Layer 5 : Jacket.
    • THEN discover you forgot the tie and the belt. REMOVE Layer 5 - for which you need to remove some of layer 4!!! Sheeesh!!
  10. Kiddo remembers something 5 minutes before angry school bus driver starts honking - it could be anything from exotic bird feathers to a chocolate bar - and you will find neither on time.
  11. Finally run down the stairs with school bag, water bottle, and art pieces while putting finishing touches on kiddos hair.
  12. REPEAT steps 1 to 11 for kiddo number 2.
  13. Kiddo 2 Step 1 - "We don't need no education, we don't need no bed to sleep"
    Kiddo 2 step 11 - "Angry young man"
  14. Finally, time for some redemption: Wake up sleeping husband by lovingly screaming in his ear - to explain how he is responsible for your plight right now.
And you guys really thought mornings were all about healthy breakfasts??

If you liked this post, do visit this post for a hilarious take on marriage!!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Bird Claw

"It still doesn't look like a bird," my eight year old whined. She was still in her pajamas, and trying very hard to keep her eyes open. I grunt as I take the eraser from a pink (what else?) barbie pencil box, and vigorously rub off the parts that look like the eagle had a major cloning accident with an orangutan. I opened her science book to look at the image more closely before I finish the sketch.

"OK Mom, I think Ma'am will like this one," she says condescendingly, once she discovered that her mother's drawing skills were not quite as good as she imagined it to be. "No, no. Let me shade it a little better. It will look more like your textbook eagle then," I said, as I decide to get my hands really dirty with graphite.

I must hand it to my daughter  - she knows when to give up on persistent moms trying to behave like kids! She sighed and went right back to sleep.

BACKGROUND : As a practice, I try and open up the bags of my school going kids later into the night, when everyone has gone to bed. This serves two purposes : I get to go through the lives of my kids at school with a fine toothed comb, AND it gives me the pleasure of watching attempts of teachers trying to tame the human brain.

Anyway, here I was, trying to fathom the deep understanding my daughter has, of the difference between a  'perching' bird and a 'hunting' bird, when I discover a comment that tore my heart right out of the rib cage!
"Does not look like a bird. Redo" 

I mean, really? The nerve! My daughter? MY daughter? Redo? We'll show Mrs.Lady-with-stupid-looking-glasses-on-her-nose ! And that's when I first touched pencil to sketch paper...... and I was instantly transported into the 3rd grade, pencil, 'rubber' and sharpener in hand, all ready to make a sketch of the darn bird so that 'Ma'am' will make the class clap for me. This was not first time I enjoyed drawing lines that meet each other to convey messages, but this was certainly like a light year from the last time!

Ever notice the sound pencil makes on paper when you draw? It's different when you write, and different when you lightly scratch it across to shade a drawing. That was such an exhilarating sound! And it just isn't the same writing with a pen - you can't rub it off and start all over again can you? Now I finally get why erasers never last for more than a few days! The sheer pleasure of seeing pencil marks disappear from the sheet.......

And the joyful task of sharpening the blunt pencils were so fulfilling. Life is so simple in the 3rd grade. Made a mistake? Rub it off? Pencil strokes not giving you the lines you desire? Sharpen it! Imagine if she were using ipads or iPhone or igod-know-what to do the same function!

Back to my bird claws... I had now started shading with a different type of pencil. A darker pencil for the outlines, and a lighter one for the shading. I was like a child on Christmas eve! And my exasperated daughter was calling from the bedroom to knock off the whooping. How would she know the joy of having made a near-perfect picture with a pencil? She was a child of the Internet printout era, after all.

After nearly an hour, I was happy with my effort. I couldn't wait till the next day when she would bring me 'Ma'am's appreciation in the form of little red stars in the science book!



Wednesday, September 21, 2011

the Mail - bharata

There was once a time, eons and eons ago, when we had pens and refills; memos and carbon papers; registers and inter-office communications. Not only did we spend a good part of our lives (read that as classes 6 to 12 in the darn CBSE board) learning to write these letters, we also spent a lot of our salary paying time laughing at life forms that did not know how to draft that perfect letter. (oh! there are specimens that would cause minor heart attacks in language experts)

There were days when we finished one refill after the other, trying to capture all and sundry into words that sounded officious, sometimes intimidating, or knowledgeable and wise. We developed excellent wrist flexor muscles, since we used ample force to make sure the third carbon copy did not eat away half of the message! We also left space very generously for all the "cc"s to sign their acceptance. We really didn't have any "bcc"s - the letter writers of yore had the gumption (Ha! resisted the use of a stronger, more appropriate descriptive noun here!) to let people know who would be reading the nasty message they wrote! Ofcourse, unofficially, all peons, secretaries AND the discretely placed photocopy machine were all "Bcc"s! More on that later.

We used words like "To bring to your kind notice" and "To whoever it may concern". We spent hours wording the words just right so as to come across as a knowledgeable wise-crack with the right amount of wit and sarcasm. Mind you, that was an art not many people succeeded in developing. This gave rise to another phenomenon - the letter / memo / report writers in office. Masterpieces on memo sheets were spoken about for months to come, and the unofficial "bcc"s would be in high demand for the hottest gossip.

The memo / letter would then lovingly be signed by the writer - another art. Signatures occupied a place of pride in the days of the carbon paper! Every piece of paper that exchanged hands had a stamp of approval in the form of an official equivalent of narcissism called a signature. And we loved it! In fact, we had special pens to use only for signatures. Only for signatures! (The cost of the refills of such 'signature' pens could have been the contributing factor). From here emerged the trend of the "see-I-have-a-Sheaffer/Parker/Mont Blanc-in-my-pocket" fashion.

And how could one forget the ever-necessary peon ? The hand delivery of the letters written were the next stage of the office drama, which could be completed only by this important link in communication. The best peon was the one who delivered the letter at the most appropriate time (for the writer of the letter .... but may turn out to be the most inappropriate one for the receiver of such communication. I forget the number of times i have seen movies where a peon enters a room just as the villain is about to do something evil!)

Compare that to today's communication:

"FYI, the last FY did not give us the results we were hoping for. We need to do something. Any ideas?
Am copying Y on this mail. Y, will you sit and work out a plan with X?"

Or, even better:

"Hi all. Attached please find the report."

CC - your boss, my boss, THEIR bosses, the girl who gives me the looks in sales dept., the other cute girl who likes numbers.
BCC -  my friend who needs help drafting important - looking mails such as this

I mean, come on! Where is the drama here? Where is the lovely, sarcastic streak in that note ? Where is the kick below the belt? Morevover, where is that chance to spice up the lives of the gossip circles? And then we claim office is getting boring! Thoughts??

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Rain is falling Chama cham cham

Sigh!! Every time the monsoons start, I promise myself I will NOT write a STUPID post on the way my heart has begun to melt. But come on, I am an aquarian! What do you expect? I start grinning unnecessarily, hum without provocation, and allow people to overtake me on the roads - something, I assure you, which is near impossible to do on a normal, sunny, aggressive day on Delhi roads.

But today, I am going to list out stuff that one should NOT do in the rains - much of it are learnings from embarrassing encounters with Mr.Murphy himself!
  1. Wear clothes that divorce their colors in water - explanation in this case is unnecessary. Just picture a person in an indigo shirt/kurta peeling off their clothes after a rain-walk to reveal AVATAR-like skin - get the picture, right?
  2. Take one's car / bike / bullock cart for granted : My trusted Maruti 800 (yeah I still have one - and it runs like a dream!) would decide she wanted more pampering. Not that I have a problem with that, but I am not too sure if I agree with the timing she chooses to go on 'Anshan' a' la Hazare!
  3. Decide to have an open-air party : Unless of course, you are talking about the hormone laden, beer induced screaming that people (er... young adults) like to call parties. The one I am referring to here is a slightly different variant, where the party guests are dressed in overpriced onion skins that need to go to the dry cleaners if someone sneezes next to them!
  4. Decide to visit your Aunt in Timbaktoo : Well this is ok for cities like Bhubhaneswar (There! I really seem to be obsessed with this place!) where the city ends before it begins, and when people say "Its very far," they mean you may need to take a rickshaw to reach there. But sure doesn't work in places like Mumbai or Delhi, where traffic signals are so technologically advanced, they know an hour before that its going to rain, and decide to shut down.
  5. Wear your Prada leather shoes : *Evil laugh here* No explanations - for those who need any - please just give me your Pradas (actually, don't mind if its Gucci either) so that you are spared the agony of being called stupid!
  6. Leave the papad out of the airtight box while you fix the dinner (or, for people on the other end of the marriage-kids spectrum, fix a drink). Believe me, limp papad seems to have this uncanny ability to pop up in arguments years later, and at the least, can be cause for a disgruntled meal! Same goes for all those namkeens and breakfast cereal !
  7. Get infected by the wash-everything-you-can-see bug : The washing is easy - but try getting the damn things to dry. In a few days' time your home will start to smell very much like the inside of the 5 year old sports shoes that you want to throw away, but can't because its still new (and to think you paid a fortune for a useless thing like that!!)
There! That's the end of my list. Can anyone think of anything else? 

My first blog award

Ok. I have an earth shattering confession - I have no clue how this award thing works. I mean I have wondered, hours on end, how bloggers get awards, and then resigned to the fact that I would never actually find out. But the kind gesture from The Meditating Lion changed all that!

So, here I am, a copy-cat in the true sense of the word, just doing all that was done in the wonderful blog that gave me this award. Seems there is a tradition to it - 

# Link the person who gave you the award ....... done!

# 7 random facts about you ... here goes
  1. I can drape a perfect sari in 3 minutes. No kidding... I think all the ragging in college helped me discover speed-draping and speed-walking in it!
  2. I am perfectly capable of falling flat on my nose without much reason. I mean a well paved road, a well designed corridor, a considerably well maintained stairway - I somehow, have fallen on all of them! But give me a rocky, hilly, village road and I can bet you that I will be the last man er.... woman standing!  
  3. My first reaction to a shocking revelation will always be a guffaw, followed by an embarrassed "oh-I-shouldn't-have-done-that" giggle. The same reaction when someone else takes that fall we were talking about.
  4. I talk to myself - a lot! So much that I sometimes miss myself when I don't get the time to converse!
  5. I love dogs - all kinds. From pampered little pugs to the scared street dog that wants scraps from me, I stop to talk to all of them.
  6. I can eat any kind of cuisine - happily!
  7. I love the rains. I can smell it before it actually rains, and I have a happy, stupid grin when it rains.
#My favorite song : Gosh, that's like asking me to count every time I breathe!! But of the ones that caused major havoc in my life, including one that resulted in me agreeing to getting married to a crazy fellow is Please Forgive me - Bryan Adams (yeah yeah.... I am the hopeless romantic !)

My favorite dessert : Newly married, I got laughed at when I said 'Jalebi' to my connoisseurs-of-Indian-cuisine in-laws!! Apparently, Jalebi doesn't count as a dessert! Hmmmph! I love them - not only the true blood northy stuff that is crisp and hot and "right out of the kadhai" variety, but also the Kerala version of it - the thick, slightly sour, yellow thing that you find in glass jars of 'bakeries' in Kerala. Also anything sweet thats made at home - kheer, payasam, halwa.... you name it!


What pisses me off :  Doing the same thing - in other words, I get bored damn fast!

Best feature : My sense of (sometimes dark) humour

Everyday attitude : The time to be living in is NOW! Carpe Diem - Seize the Day!

What is perfection? : How every little baby looks beautiful !!

Guilty Pleasures : Chocolate - in any form, including the kids' Bournvita - in the powder form!


# Give the award away to 15 bloggers
Living Queensize : Lady, you were the one who got me addicted to blogging! That she doesn't write much these days is heartbreaking!
As I Muse : The incurable romantic who writes beautiful poems
Atrocious scribblings : The blogger with an amazing sense of humour
Coconut Chutney : Who caused a mild heart attack with her hilarious posts
Shobha : who has finger-lickin' good stuff in her blog
Godyears : the amazing Doc with a heart of gold, and writing skills to match
Bikram : and his Random thoughts - which are so thought - provoking!
Measured Steps : the Super Mom with such lovely posts
Spaceman Spiff : I know you've been tagged - but couldn't let this opportunity go by without the drum roll for you!! The awesomest posts i have seen !!
Simply Speaking : The guy who simply speaks wonderful thoughts
Varsha and her little fragrant flowers - snippets of wisdom!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A weekend in memory lane

The last weekend was a trip into heaven and back for me. No, not for my family - my kids who are my universe now; or my ever supportive husband. Just me .... and my memories. The opportunity to discover who I had been when I was still growing up. (I meant in the rhetorical sense. In the physical sense of the word, I continue to claim more space around my expanding persona!)

This opportunity came by way of a college reunion. And not just any college, mind you. It was a college that possessed you from the moment you set foot in it. A college that threw your pompous individualism into oblivion if it interfered with the knowledge transfer happening inside its periphery. A college that put you through trials by the fire within the campus, to prepare you for all the possible tribulations in the world outside.....

The reunion was all that I had anticipated, and much more. While there were instances of me looking out for faces I hoped to see after a decade and did not, there were also endearing moments that etched itself into the innermost corners of my heart. A few beautiful words from unexpected quarters, a few smiles that said all was forgiven, a few hugs that left us wondering how fast the years have passed by........

There were a few instances which felt like the warmth of a hot cup of coffee by the fireside; on a cold winter night:
  • A friend meeting after 13 years, sitting with me and saying nothing for a few minutes; and then commenting "You seem to be very quiet today. All ok?" Just as if we had picked up where we left off...
  • Another friend rushing to my side, and rather discreetly asking, with a worried expression, if I needed something to eat. I realized, upon looking at him, that he probably thought I needed extrication from unwanted attention!!
  • My role model sitting right behind me, and I had somehow missed spotting her. The hoot I let out when I did finally see her.....
  • Someone stopping me in the hallway, and calling me by my maiden name.... something I haven't heard in 11 years
  • Singing and laughing away late into the night, along with friends and seniors (exactly when both became one and the same, is still hazy....) from college - a reminder of the many get-togethers we'd had earlier - in what seems like a previous birth now......
  • A passing mention of a song rendered with the mirth that only rebellious youth can bring, which then contributed to many memories of the same rebel-without-a-cause age
  • Seeing surprised recognition in the eyes of many.....
  • Realizing how far we've come, and yet, how little we've all really changed .... AMEN to that!!
One of the first things I did when I came back was to give my kids a tight hug. I then proceeded to tell them what a good time I had. My daughter came up to me, and told me I was a happier Mom now than when I boarded the taxi from home. And I promised her I would remember to be a happier mom for a long time, and that the next time I get the chance to travel back in time I certainly would take her with me.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Birds of a feather

A few colleagues had a harrowing time in the airport after a missed flight in 'Duffai' (as we Mallus call the land of oversized buildings and atrociously overrated gold shops. Ofcourse, there is more to Dubai than this - but hey, you're talking to a Mallu woman here!)

These colleagues had reached the airport well in time, checked in comfortably a few hours ahead of the flight, collected their boarding passes, completed security checks........ and THEN collectively went off to SLEEP in the waiting lounge. I mean, really! All of them! At the WAITING LOUNGE! Talk about waking up from the wrong side of the chair err... bed here!

But that, mi amigos, is not what today's ramblings is about. One of these 'disillusioned-by-the-airport-announcement' souls related the interesting anecdote, and concluded it with, "Well, I learnt a lot. Times like this brings out the true person inside. You get to know who your REAL friends are, no?"  Well said, oh, enlightened one  (even if it took supreme levels of inanity to reach there!)

I think I must mention here that my brain has a brain of its own - you know what I mean? My brain (henceforth referred to as 'IT') chooses the most absurd of times to think of topics totally irrelevant to the conversation going on. So here I was, sitting in a meeting room filled with serious faces and fatigue inducing numbers, IT chose to think about my 'real' friends. I could only comply, and hope that the others would not notice the silly smirk on my face - the smirk that always comes automatically when I think of my friends. A proud Aquarian, none of my relationships is complete if there is no element of 'Friend' in that. So very broadly, I can categorize my friends into one of these. (Am sure there are more variants out there.... please fell free to contribute!)

  1. The "What were you thinking" friend : No, honestly, what WERE you thinking when you befriended this one?  She / He may be the reason you got into trouble most of your life. From school teachers to the girl/guy you had a crush on, this friend has managed to put you in a tough spot with each one of them! But hey, they can say all they want, but they don't know the time when this person has rushed out in nothing more than a towel and waving a cricket bat to save you from the neighbourhood dog, with no concern for his own safety.... or modesty. (Thank God the dog chose modesty over safety!) On a more serious note, these are the kind of friends whose worth one only understands in dire situations - like when you have been kicked out of your rented place, or when the police is after you, or when the underworld has taken out a shoot-at-sight order ..... you get the drift, right?
  2. The "If I were you" friend : Now, before you jump to conclusions, this friend means only the best for you. Unfortunately, in this case, the best usually means whatever the clever, no-nonsense friend thinks is right. The fact that he/she is ALWAYS right does not help. And the fact that he/she gives you an "I-told-you-so" look definitely doesn't. These friends are the best ones to hang around with - especially if in the vicinity of parents or teachers - they are irritably admirable; Irritable to you, admirable for your parents (who, by the way, ALSO believe in the "I-told-you-so" look therapy). That said, these friends are indispensable when it comes to instant projects, homework, or home cooked food!
  3. The "No Hello" Friend : Have you noticed that there are some people who start talking the minute you pick up the phone. I mean, they don't even wait to see if I am at the other end. Probable opening lines : "You remember we had to go for that movie....."  or  "Where the hell have you been? Why can't you take my calls...."  or better still "Do you really think changing jobs is a good idea?" These friends talk to you like you have a constant chat window with their brains - and expect you to catch up with the conversation. The beauty of it all - you don't have to spend your talk time on niceties with these friends. You can get right to the point, and ask that dumb question, and rest assured - thou shall not be judged!
  4. The 'Akshaya Patra' Friend : Mythology says that Lord Krishna gave Draupadi a vessel that would never run out of food, so that she could be an honorable hostess to all and sundry when they came visiting the Pandavas during their exile. Well, there are friends who are similar to this Akshaya Patra. You need a bike to go catch your lady love before she leaves the country with her evil uncle never to return? (oh ok... an overdose of Bollywood) Do not fear - Mr.APF (Akshaya Patra Friend) to your rescue. Not only will he give you his bike, he will also make sure he fights back the villains while at it! Don't have the right jewellery to go with your sexy outfit? Ms.APF will just give it to you without blinking an eyelid. These friends have the answer to most of your problems, and usually are the first one we turn to when we need help.
  5. The Doctor : Remember our 3rd standard definition of health? 'Health is the state of Physical, mental and social well being' And this is exactly where the Doctor steps in. Have a headache? Take Disprin. Have a heart ache? Eat Ice cream. Have a terrible case of emotional drain. Come home and I'll cook you Mediterranean food. Have a terrible boss? Lets look for a job in Naukri. See what I mean? These friends are a part of your everyday life - like a Vitamin tablet, and the day seems incomplete without having complained to this friend.
  6. The Google : This is the friend who knows everything about everything, or atleast something about everything you want to know. Confused ? Think of the person you would call if you wanted to know where the best biryani in Delhi is made. Or where you can get the movie tickets in black. Or find someone to sue your hairdresser. Voila! there's your Google friend. Now, this very friend can double up as the doctor or the APF too.
  7. The Its-complicated friend : Ok so this dude / dudette is awesome, is one of your good friends, has all the makings of a star and you are positively smitten with him/her. And you know that your heart will break one day... but you STILL want to burn your hands. Now wait for the "IF I were you" friend to break your leg, or the Doctor to heal your heart. For reasons unknown, this friend features in almost everyone's list.
  8. The Enemy turned friend : This is the weirdest of friends. Pitted against each other in some situation, you later realize that it was the SITUATION that caused the other person to behave like a pig (you on the other hand, being sensitive, sweet, and caring, maintained all levels of dignified communication throughout the SITUATION) The person may not be all that bad. Classic Yashraj Film style friendship evolves, making you wonder how you ended up enemies in the first place!
  9. The 'lets take it where we left off' friend : You meet this person maybe once in three years, speak with them once in six months, but somehow, you just pick up where you left off last time. Usual conversations go thus: "So, your daughter still has those asthma attacks?" or "And where did you go for your birthday?" In all probability, these are our oldest friends, and the ones who have withstood time, distance and relationship changes.
Any more out there? Feel free to add on.

Monday, July 11, 2011

I Have a Dream......

I have a dream...... A song to sing
To take me through ..... Everything!!

Hi all.... its been a crazy week. Times when I have been so jittery that I almost bit my nails right down to their skins, and other times when time seemed to have stopped altogether.

The highlight of the week is ....... wait for it........ (as Barney Stintson would say) .... *drum roll* ... My published story!!!!

Ladies and gentlemen I present to you.......  The better Half   Ta-da!!!

Please do read and leave comments. It would really do a world of good to the dream I carry that I just may write that book which says "Written by Meena Nambiar Bhatnagar"

Friday, July 8, 2011

Have you ever...

Today I am in the mood to ramble off without using much of my brain cells. What do you mean I can't afford it? Well, yeah you are right. Friday just doesn't seem to move past six!

How many of these have you done?
  • Closed the fridge while trying to look if the light went off when you did?
  • Tried to sing through your nose, while tilting your head a certain grotesque angle... a style popularly called "a la Himesh-the-cap-for-hair", in the shower?
  • Bit your cheek when eating something you tried to hide from someone?
  • Hopped a few times with one leg in the trouser and trying to put the other in?
  • Balanced a pencil between your nose and upper lip? And then have the very person you want to impress, walk in on you?
  • Written your name on a dusty glass window of a car with your finger?
  • Blow 'smoke' out of your mouth on a cold winter morning?
  • Peed while laughing? Oh OK then... coughing? No? Fine....sneezing, definitely?
  • Run across the room in slow mo?
  • Sing into a hairbrush? In a towel?
  • Blown a kiss to the mirror?
  • Do a bow-and-arrow-with-eyes-closed-murmuring stuff, the way Sagar Productions propagated?
  • Fallen down and looked up instantly to see how many witnesses, BEFORE looking at the physical damages?
  • Look at your finger-nails in the mirror after a nail paint? Almost have an accident because you were looking at your NAILS while driving?
  • Asked for extra paper in exams just because EVERYONE seems to need one, except you!
  • Sharpened pencils while trying to keep the shavings in one single piece?
  • Refused to watch a movie where the hero dies?
  • Throw a cat into a pond and see how it swims back? (if Maneka-you-know-who is reading this, neither have I.)
  • Laughed at someone who fell off a chair? In an interview? YOUR interview?
  • Fallen asleep with any edible / potable substance held in your hand? Woken up next morning and finish eating / drinking it?
  • Been caught making a face at someone? And convert the sticking out tongue into an Albert Einstein smile? OK ... at least a My-Name-Is-Khan-smile?
Brain freeze......

Please feel free to add to the list.... :-D


Thursday, July 7, 2011

I am a little Teapot

An interesting blog I read  had a brand new look at the so-called 'Bad' experiences in life - the mistakes or the embarrassment in certain stages of life. She called them the "Ishmaels" of her life. Let me elaborate in her words :

"In the Old Testament, God promised Abraham and his barren wife Sarah - much after she had crossed the acceptable baby-making age - that they would have a son. Years went by without God fulfilling His promise and in her desperation - seeing how they had no heir - Sarah got Abraham to sleep with her maid Hagar so they could have an heir through her. Now, God had promised that the son would come from Sarah. The story goes on to say that Abraham and Sarah did have a son as promised - whom they named Isaac. But the maid's son Ishmael (born much before Isaac) turned out to be a wild donkey of a man who was constantly at war with the son of promise (Isaac) and basically was Abraham's Big Mistake. So in Christian circles, Ishmael is synonymous of one's Big Mistake - the thing that you did on an impulse which continues to haunt you or be a source of regret - an Ishmael can be something as innocuous as an expensive gadget that you can't make payments for."


We all have our Ishmaels, don't we? Stuff that caused embarrassment, pain; harrowing experiences because of wrong decisions in our lives. But there is another side to it. I don't think I would be what I am today without all those Ishmaels in my life. Am sure you have them too.

A few scenes spring to my mind from the earliest of my memories....
  • Scene 1 : An embarrassing episode on stage dressed as a teapot. No really, a TEAPOT! In the middle of the poem "I am a little teapot, short and stout...." looking around for parents, and upon seeing them, forgetting the rest of the lines.
  • Scene 2 : Playing basketball with the same fervour we currently have for blackberrys - At it constantly! Losing an inter school match, sitting under the net, sobbing like a baby..... in my defense, I was joined by others in a few minutes.
  • Scene 3 : Altering the distance between socks and skirt after reaching class. Then looking around to see who had the highest levels of gumption (Use limited imagination here)
  • Scene 4 : Scaling a 7 feet high wall in traditional Kerala long skirt (we were supposed to be in a Saraswati Puja, dammit!), with other miscreants, to play badminton in the adjoining club. Getting caught, paraded into Princi's cabin, avoiding eye contact with her for a whole month!
  • Scene 5: Wearing a sari, high heels, lipstick and eye makeup for the first time for the school farewell. Tripping all the way to the stage, saying dumb things while trying to look all grown up. Realizing how everyone else looked better than me. 
  • Scene 6: Red in the face with all the impressive sweeping, mopping and dish washing within the first two days of joining hotel management college. The fact that a few others from the same batch were dressed in formals and dining in the restaurant added to the color on the cheeks and hot air in the lungs.
  • Scene 7 : Burning papers, cards and other stuff in exaggerated ceremony with friends. Thank God the memories we wanted to burn still remain......
  • Scene 8 : Falling flat on my face in the middle of a cricket field. This was followed by years of practice in falling down from various heights on various occasions to perfect the art.
  • Scene 9 : Extended shifts, worked our a***s off on New years Eve, pink champagne and swimming pool. Dangerous combination. Not to mention embarrassing. Ask me and my then room mate. What say, Vini?
  • Scene 10 : Crashing down on a kinetic Honda. The friend who owned it was sitting behind me, and she had a minor heart attack. The cow (or bull- don't remember) we hit errr... I hit survived, though.
  • Scene 11 : Declaring to mom that I'd get married only AFTER I buy my own car. Sheepishly telling her a few months later that I was in love, and the car could wait.
  • Scene 12 : My daughter on stage, looking out for me, forgetting her dance steps when she saw me waving out to her. I remember not to get embarrassed this time. Life DOES take a full circle, doesn't it?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Autograph Please!!

Chances are, if you passed out of school before the Orkut/Facebook/Twitter era, you will have, amongst your forgotten belongings, something called an Autograph book. Yes, the little red and gold (which was my book's color) or pink and peach (my sisters'), with cartoon characters like Winne the Pooh (a hot favorite with girls) or Race cars (you guessed it!) on them. The paper was usually textured for extra effect, and everyone was SUPPOSED to have one.


Its not the kind of stuff stalkers of movie stars or cricketers have - I am talking of the one we all had in our school or college, where we poured out hormone ravaged, acne inducing emotions to our friends.

It was much more than a book, mind you. It meant many things:

  1. The owner of the autograph book had his / her personality scrawled all over the first page. It could be sinister warnings about who it belonged to, or sweet introductory messages about the person. It could have profound philosophical messages (such as, "Friendship is the best ship in the world." - I swear, this is for real!) or cheesy but talented acronyms (such as FAF - friends are forever)
  2. The number of pages you had filled out indicated the number of close friends you had when you were leaving school / college
  3. The number of autograph seekers you had indicated your popularity in class - infact, there were a few of us who used wait with bated breath when we saw anyone approaching in our direction with a smile and that little book in their hand. The biggest insult you could give off to anyone without getting suspended, was to NOT ask someone for their autograph on the last day.
  4. The messages ranged from sly, coy, shy, funny, sweet to absolute nonsense. Look at this one: "I saw a monkey hanging from the tree, Upon closer look it turned out to be you! Keep in touch forever!!" I mean, really! Who writes stuff like this today? Even 7 year olds write more sensible stuff today. But guess what? This was written to me by a young pimply girl in the senior class who I adored to the heavens, and I couldn't stop grinning for a week after she wrote that to me!!
  5. This was also a medium for shy messages to show some signs of a crush you had been hiding all these years. In the days I am talking about, SMSes and chatting were not an option. Even phones were the ones which had parallel connections, so talking to your secret crush was out of the question. Then came this opportunity in the form of a farewell message - we would write our heart out in that! E.g. "I will always remember your smile....." The fact that we probably would never see the person again added to the drama of it all, and made us a little bolder than we really were.
  6. It also served as a talent showcasing event. The good artists, poets, sketch artists, comedians, linguists, avid readers, Shakespeare fans ..... each person would put out their talent in that little page. Sometimes, the good ones used to get pulled out of the autograph seeking crowd, taken to a corner, and a pen pushed into his/her hand with a request for something 'special'
  7. The autograph writing also served as a water-under-the-bridge message. Sworn enemies in class would walk up to each other and offer their autograph books as a peace pipe. Ofcourse, we had to think up clever stuff to write in there too. "Wishing you all the success in your life." (yeah sure!!). It is surprising how years later, if you meet that very person, you can spend hours together, laughing like old friends, no sign of animosity!
  8. Good friends used this as an opportunity to write their addresses and phone numbers down for each other, so that they can 'keep in touch' - remember, there was no Internet, and we had to rely on those numbers called pin code! 
  9. The most serious autographs came from teachers. The same teachers we were fond of, terrified of, in awe of .... they wrote in their blessings or their mantras for success - we would then flaunt the messages to each other.
I don't know how many of us still know where our 'autograph book' is. But if one is lucky enough to come by it in this fast paced thriller called life, a few hours of nostalgia will bring on that extra energy needed to fulfil at least some of the wishes expressed in that little red and gold book with textured paper.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Silver Lining

My kids came running into my bedroom when they heard me shriek. I was staring into the mirror in horror, and I think I scared the kids too. Especially my daughter of seven, who is quite a sensitive soul. Well, I have to rewind a bit here.....

I am one of those a-second-in-front-of the-mirror-before-I-bolt-out-the-door person. The only other times I tend to look at the mirror is when I am brushing (an unavoidable horror) or when I have to wear my lenses (so I can't REALLY see what I look like).  But anyway, coming back to the topic.

As the teeth of my comb slid through the little curls on my right temple, I discovered two insolent white hairs. (This is the first time the plural of 'hair' seems to be right! If I had a penny for all the times I've heard people say stuff like 'I have long hairs' .... I'd have given Bill Gates a donation!!).

Not just ANY two white hairs. The most visible, strategically located, undeniably conspicuous pair of mischief makers! All the times I had laughed and scoffed at the ads in TV that declared life ended with the arrival of silver on one's mane! This was like all the ad-makers, models and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan teaming up and screaming revenge.

As if this earth shattering discovery wasn't enough to cause a Myocardial Infarction (Ha! bet you are heading for Google right now!), my husband of over a decade (really... these are the moments when I feel there should be a law against people remaining married for over 5 years! I mean, even the Government gets out after five years!) looks up from his tea and grins with smug satisfaction. "OK... now officially, you're OLD!" Between pouring his hot tea over his head, and storming out of the room in dignified silence - AFTER hiding the TV remote, I chose the latter.

The metamorphosis is very subtle, but I discovered some changes in me:
  • I don't let a chance go by when I pass a mirror these days - the first chance I get, I look at the little white monsters in my hair, and beg them not to convert the others from their natural state
  • I am kinder to silver haired people - especially women
  • I listen intently to Aishwarya Rai or Bipasha Siren Basu when they explain how hair dyes are the gift from heavens
  • I have FINALLY started using oil on my hair (Mom, stop laughing - I can see you say "I told you so")
  • I have told both my kids a million times that THEY are responsible for the new developments on my scalp
  • I am contemplating new hairstyles to suitably hide the offenders
  • While driving in the car I wish we had left hand drive in Delhi, so that its hidden from the others driving on the road (who incidentally, are CERTAINLY looking at the white hair with intense concentration while navigating through rogue Delhi traffic - now we know why all the accidents happen!) 
As a conscious effort to stay out of a straitjacket, I have ditched the idea of throwing white paint on random strangers' heads (especially the ones with nice, glossy BLACK hair). I have also decided to now look at the mirror with my eyes closed.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Farm Tomatoes!

Some sentences stay in your memory. No, I am not talking about the highly inspirational guru-speak that people say when they are reeling under the effect of a certain potent liquid. I am talking about the stuff that lurks somewhere in the back of your head, swimming to the surface of your memory only to make you cringe. Still don't get it? Look at some statements my poor brain has been subjected to:

"You can sit in the backside." - yeah sure, the place you want a foot planted?

"I saw a LOIN in the zoo." - while your eyes are very nearly popping out, someone is vigorously nodding head and showing you how big the 'Loin' - err... the lion was.

"Doctor said me to have 'eye-run' for the blood." - just while wondering how an eye running away can cure anemia, I am given graphic detail about the effect iron syrups have on the said person's bowel movement.

"She has beautiful long hairs." While contemplating mass murder in the school which taught this lover boy his English, you also want to box his ears while asking "And would that be nose hairs?"

And how can I forget all the times I have writhed in agony at all the 'bis-kutts' that seem to be making the rounds in Delhi. For the uninformed, please watch Band Baja whatever.

And its for a reason that "The" is the most common word in the English language - we have exclusive rights to torture, maim and murder conversation using an overdose of 'the'. Don't believe me? Walk the many pubs, restaurants or (yuck!) 'hep' hangouts (a.k.a PVR cinemas, malls etc) in most parts of Saddi Dilli, and you can hear animated conversations among the young guns that go thus *shudder* :

Him : Do you the luvzzz me?
Her : Hehehehe Yes, I the loooovezzz you..... Now the moviezzz will start in the 5 minutes
Him : Okay... you want the popcorns?
Her : No, I am on the diets, but I have the burgers.......

See what I mean? Honest to God, I would be more than happy to retire poor abused 'the' into deep exile till we learn how to use it! Not all that difficult to make complete sense with a few words sans 'THE' !! In fact, just realized I wrote a whole paragraph without it!

Some real winners:

Very sweet hostess: "Did you sleep well? Was the bad comfortable?"
Me : You mean the BED don't you?
VSH : "Yes, yes, the Baaaaaaaaaaad" (Loud and clear! Over!)
VSH : "I put a new shit on it just for you"
Me : OK I hope you  mean sheet here.....

Excited mom in joo .. i mean zoo : "See! The beer is running." Err ... and is closely followed by the scotch and vodka too! Who knows who might win, indeed!

Aunty helping out with veggies shopping : "Buy only the nice bright farm tomatoes."
Me : Wow! how do you know they are from a farm?
Aunty : "Press hard, see? Not pil-pil. Then you feel it is really faarrrrrrrm."
Me : Please ignore me as I bang my head to the wall .......






Liked this post? Go right here to see a hilarious take on marriage too!