Friday, December 28, 2012

Off with their heads.. err.. stubble

This post is a part of the 'Shave or Crave' movement in association with

Knowing each other for over 15 years has its pros and cons. (yeah, yeah.... we are ancient and all that!!). G and I know each other well enough to complete each other's sentences, and yet, there are times when shy, subtle hints are just not enough to convey a heartfelt message.

G prides himself on his immaculate grooming at work in the hospitality industry. So much so, that there have been instances where he has shaven twice in a day to ensure brownie points in a meeting. Hence, as I went through the misery called wedding rituals, I would take one look at his drop dead gorgeous looks and congratulate myself on a job well done.

Alas! Little did I know Dr.Jekyl and Mr.Hyde were not a fiction of someone's imagination .... they truly exist! Let me elaborate this complex situation by using a conversation during our first few hours after the wedding ceremonies:

G : Hey gorgeous...... wakey wakey!

Me (eyes still closed) : Hi sweetheaaaaa ...... err..... what happened to you?

G (hands going to his face) : What? Oh this? This is my macho look..... a stubble.... nice, no?

Me : Err...... ummm......... What are we ordering for breakfast? (dodging the deadly weapon on his face in an attempt to save my face.... literally!)

G : What happened?

Me (still trying to be a nice bride) : I haven't brushed yet.......

Thankfully, by the time we were dressed to go out for the day, he was back to being Dr. Jekyl err..... G. Pretty soon, I discovered that G was the alter ego of "Office G", when it came to shaving. He was content with the 5 o'clock shadow (5 o' clock shadow my foot !! what about the morning, evening and night? I could sue whoever coined that phrase) that adorned his face on the days that he lazed around at home.

I tried various subtle hints, from screaming 'Ouch.... A porcupine!!' when his face found mine, to placing his shaving razor at all unimaginable places. (Truth be told, I married a kind man - he did not seem to mind the razor showing up on the breakfast table, on the TV remote, inside his pajama pockets, or even on his favorite spot on the couch! He simply scratched his head muttering "Strange......" while putting it back to where it belonged)

In yet another instance, I clicked photos of him in all his sleeping glory, and showed it to him during an exceptionally romantic moment. He reacted quite badly to the way he looked. "Hey, I look so geeky! Thank God for that stubble, huh?"

Yes, I waited till he walked out of the room to physically try and kick myself, thank you very much!

In another instance, I bought for him, one of the best shaving products (you know, like Gillette says, "The Best a Man Can Get" ....) to try and coax him to shave. He was touched. "Wow!! Thanks dear.... I've  always wanted this one. Will use it when I get ready for the meeting tomorrow" ..... This time I almost succeeded in strangling myself.

Pretty soon, I realized that for the good of all humanity for my own sanity, I would just have to get the message accross.

G and I were looking forward to a lazy weekend.  No parties, no mall hopping, no friends. Perfect oppurtunity!

I decided to go ethnic on him. (Call it slimy, scheming or just plain selfish - whenever I care to wrap the 6 yard devil's creation around me, I use the sari to my distinct advantage). My red georgette sari (thank you, Sridevi and no thanks to you, Mr. India!!) with a ridiculously low cut blouse, not to mention the perfume that G loves, and I was ready.

G : "Whoa!! Where are we going?"

Me : "Nowhere..... why?" (God! I am good at this!)

G : "W-Why are you dressed like that?"

Me : "Oh, you don't like it? I'll change then..........."

G : "No.... please don't. Looks great" (Pulling me towards him, running his hands over my arms)

Me : "You really like my arms, don't you?"

G : "Yeah ..... so soft. You sure we aren't going anywhere? You're wearing that perfume too!"

Me : "Well, I want tell you a secret."

As G's eyes widened like Mr. Bean's, I whispered lovingly in his ear, "I wax my arms, you know."

G : "Huh?"

Me : (still whispering conspiratorily) "I also do unthinkable stuff to my eyebrows too."

G (the gentle soul that he is, he was getting distinctly uncomfortable with the conversation) :  "I already know that.... and I don't think I need the gory details....... W-What do you want?" (I swear, I almost saw him holding a cross to ward me off)

Me (smiling sweetly) : "Why don't you shave on the days you are at home?"

G : "Oh I get it now - you don't like my 'at-home' avatar!!.....  This why I've been finding my razor all over the house? I just want to be me! This is the real 'Me' ......... so get used to it!"

Me : "OK dear. I completely get it."

G : "Y-You do?"

Me : "Yes ofcourse, I do. I love you, remember?"

G (as he took me in his arms) : "I love you too"

Me : "Awwww.... I am sure you too will love the real 'Me' next weekend. 

G : "Err.......What?"

Me (almost gushing in excitement) : I can't tell you how happy I am that I can be in my nightie all day long! And no waxing, no threading, no makeup... wow!! You are a darling, G! ....... Oh! And I hope you like under-arm hair as well...."

The next moment, I was on the floor, G was running towards the bathroom, razor in hand.

Mission accomplished. Sanity restored....... the Best a (Wo)man Can Get indeed!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Once upon the Tracks of Mumbai - A reivew

Railway tracks and India go back a long way. We have depicted the railways as being a catalyst in many of our movies, the ones that come to mind instantly being "Jab We Met". Of course there are many, many more that can be pulled out if one really wants to remember.

At the same time, I wonder how many books are written on the familiar settings of the enormous presence in our country called the Railways! And what better place to have the story than Mumbai, the 'city that never sleeps', where the Railways contribute to the economy and the lifestyle.

Allow me, ladies and gents, to put before you, in the usual Nirvana style, yet another book I have been fortunate to get my hands on Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai by Rishi Vohra

First things first, I got an autographed book (Yay!!) The cover has two pretty faces over the railway line. While this is definitely the settings, do not be misled into thinking that this is all there is to the book! The book goes into much more shades of grey, black and white than you would assume from the cover.

Pic courtesy Rishi Vohra

  • The Plot : Without letting too much of the proverbial 'cat' out of the bag, let me just tell you what the synopsis of the book says about the story :
"Autistic. psychotic. Schizophrenic....". For the twenty four years of his life, these are some of the words "they" have used to describe Babloo. He knows his family agrees with "them" and he senses that he is different. He doesn't hate people; he just cannot find the right way to connect with anyone. Vandana is the only exception. What can he do to make himself worthy of her?

Babloo finds simple pleasures in small things, A random twist of fate along these familiar train tracks brings Babloo face to face with the harsh reality of escalating crime in the local trains of Mumbai, and shakes him out of his apathy.

  • The Writing Style : The writing falls into the usual style of writing adapted by young Indian writers - easy prose, with a fair amount of 'Indian English' - though here, the author has used it only when the characters communicate to themselves or to each other (so much more believable). The story is told in two streams  - one in which is in the first person (of the protagonist) and the other, as narrated in third person. Sometimes, it gets a little confusing where the first person has stopped and the third person has started. Goes to show that this is not a book that you can read while multi-tasking.
Also something that was pleasant in the writing was the sketch of the city I love so much - Mumbai in all its glory, and sometimes, the coldness of the city too.
  • Character Development : The characters are well sketched out. Which, in a way, may not have been always good for the surprise element - from the early introduction of the characters, they are very clearly bucketed into 'good' people and 'bad' people. This has a tendency to create a bias in the readers' minds, and, to an extent, remove the element of surprise that evolve in the twists of the story. On the other hand, this approach makes one take sides very early on in the book, and hence cheering when the 'good guys' win.
  • Words and Print Quality: Jaico has done a good job of the Printing, and there was no jarring typo that one usually associates with many Indian authors. The words, as mentioned earlier, are easy to comprehend. This works well for the story, which, since it looks at what goes inside of a person's mind, is complex enough, without using big words. An example excerpt :
"No one understood the dual existence of 'him' and me that made me the person I am. Only the railway tracks that ran along outside my bedroom window knew the both of us individually. The endless, idle wooden planks connected by durable steel had formed a fine segregation between my fantasy and reality."

For some more excerpts, do visit this site
  • Final Verdict : Some mature writing, of a topic not written much about. Some insights into a schizophrenic mind that has learnt to love, and a real look at how the average Indian family treats people that have different needs. A must read, if only to explore Babloo's mind.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Mother of a Son

Yes, I have a son.

When he was born, there were joyous celebrations to welcome him. My elder child, a daughter, welcomed him with love only a sister can have for a brother. All the ashirvads (blessings) of “Doodho nahao puto falo” (bathe in milk (ugh!!!) and give birth to sons(!)) had apparently worked its effect well.

Before my son was born, my daughter was my entire world. I would glare angrily at anyone who even remotely suggested that my second one (I knew I wanted two!) had to be a boy to “complete the family” (whatever that meant!).

I was certain that my second one would be a daughter too – because I felt I would never be able to love a son as much – yes, that’s how much I love my daughter.

But when he was born, it ceased to matter that he was a son. For me, it was just love all over again. I remember how some indignant relatives (angered by the fact that I preferred to have healthy babies to “puto falo”) told me that bringing up a daughter was a difficult task in this terrible world. How the daughter would prove to be a huge responsibility – even a liability (“Paraya dhan” – somebody else’s 'property' - WTF!!)

But today, what prompted me to write this post is not how my daughter is my blessing (which she is!). Rather, it is to explain why I am glad I do have a son.

No – not because my family is “complete”.

Nor because I feel he will set fire to the pyre when I die (frankly, I care two hoots what happens to my body after my death). Neither is it because I think a son is insurance to an easy retired life, or because of a dowry that he traditionally is supposed bring in.

No – not even that he may act as a bodyguard to my daughter…..

After all, these are the traditional reasons to have a son, right?

My reason is something different. The way I see it, raising a son is way more difficult.

See why,  in my post at Parentous.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Walking "The Talk"

I thought I'd just shut my eyes and ears, and maybe I'll be able to breathe with lesser difficulty. I was wrong. Every time there is any woman I know, who does not come home by the usual time she does, I panic.

When it happened in Guwahati, it was because 'she was drunk'.

When it happened in the various villages across Haryana, it was because the poor young boys had too much chowmein

When it happens in the city we just love to hate, it is because they wear clothes too short or too tight, or too bright. Or maybe it is because they party too much, go to all the wrong places, or are dressed too well.

When are we going to realize that in all the statements that we make about such incidents, anything that comes after "because" is exactly what these demons in human form bank upon. It is all the 'because's that help them go scot free after having taken away, horrendously, from an individual their right to live fearlessly.

When I was moving out of home to a hostel closer to college, my parents had 'the talk' with me. All young girls know 'the talk'. My mother first sat me down, and went into the details of what was 'right' and 'wrong' for me. She overcame her embarrassment to tell me all about staying safe, and about wearing right to stay safe. She reminded me that I had to remember them - her and Dad, before I did anything that might cause them pain.

Then Dad sat me down to tell me his version of what he thought I should be doing so that his little girl was not hurt. He too, in his own words, conveyed the message I already knew. I had already been groped, pinched and leered at in crowded buses, in trains and in market places.

When my sister was ready for the same move, this drama repeated itself. She too, got her share of 'the talk'

I do not have a brother. Which means I am not an authority on what parents tell their adolescent / young adult son. So let me ask you readers, especially the men, or women who have male siblings out there, something...

How many will have 'the talk' with their sons?

Let me tell you of a relative who did sit his son down and give him a serious talk. The talk went something like this:

"Son, I know you will have fun. Colleges are meant for that. You will find girls too. Sexy ones (a whisper here) too. Its ok to have fun. Just remember that you can have all the fun in the world, but you will marry the right girl who we choose."

This is not the talk I meant. How many parents of future men have sat them down to teach them to respect women?

How many will tell their darling sons that women are not objects, are not meant to be leered, groped or pinched, no matter what their clothes are.

How many will actually overcome embarrassment (yes, mothers and fathers) to tell the Alpha male that all women, like the person who gave birth to them, have to be treated with dignity? And that the choice of who touches the women's breasts and bottoms are entirely their choice?

How many will tell them that rapists and molestors are a reality, and may even be their friends?

How many will tell them that no woman, irrespective of religion, caste, creed, age, skin color, deserves to be treated the way the girl in Guwahati was, or the girl in the moving bus was, treated?

How many will tell them, "Son, there will come a time when peer pressure will look you in the eye and tell you to do something you know is wrong. When that happens, promise me you will kick peer pressure in the ass, and do the right thing."

I have a son. Embarrassment be damned, I, for one, will tell my son as much, when the time is right. Will you? 

The Money Tree

The seventies (probably even the early eighties) households reverberated with healthy doses of words such as ‘responsible spending’ and ‘saving for the future’ and ‘when I was your age…..’

But somewhere along the way, we lost these words as we got caught up in the race to get better jobs, bigger cars and grander homes. But more zeroes in our monthly paycheck did nothing to increase the happiness quotient, as much of the extra income went into that jazzy new phone or that funky new hangout that everybody was talking about!

Spending and living luxuriously, on par with the Smiths and the Jones, became the aspiration of every bright-eyed collegiate from the first day he stepped into his first job. The path to instant gratification had already been set all through school and college, where guide books with exam questions replaced conscientious teachers, Google replaced libraries, and Facebook replaced canteen frolics.

One of the biggest challenges G and I face is to distinguish where that illusive line needs to be drawn; the line that differentiates responsible providing of reasonable luxury, and blatant mollycoddling. Both G and I are products of the seventies, when the world was yet to see the information explosion that todays’ kids are exposed to....

See how we approached the problem at Parentous..... a platform for sharing tips and tricks for the most challenging job in the world - parenting!!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Bias and Opinion

When my daughter was all of 6, she adored a certain Bollywood star to bits. She had very famously declared that she would ‘marry’ the star, and go to play in the snow with him. Till, one day, when the actor was on TV, she ran to pick up the remote from the table (as a rule, we don’t keep the remote in our hands – its common property) and changed channels! The conversation that followed went something like this:

Me: "Sweety, why did you change the channel? He’s your favorite actor!"

Little G: “No he’s NOT!” There was a certain distress in her voice which made me sit up and probe further.

Me: “Why? You used to like him so much….”

Little G: “Because he’s a (religion).

My face must have given away my shock. G (the husband), who was sitting a little away, looked at me and shook his head. I understood what he meant – Not now. No reaction. Probe, and discuss later.

Discover what G and I did after this ....... an article published at Parentous.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

When Stars Shine Down - My entry to the GetPublished contest

Have you ever chanced upon that little sprig of grass which grows in the middle of nowhere? Or that last stubborn leaf on the tree that refuses to follow suit and drift away in the autumn wind like all others before it? Or the frail rosebud that weathers the tumultuous storm of the night, to face the next day with pride and beauty? Unfazed, unafraid, proud. But was the rosebud really unafraid through the storm?

Pic courtesy Soni Somarajan
This is Naina's story. But Naina's story cannot be whispered without weaving through Siddhant's story in the same breath. A story that commences during the darkest hours in their life, but culminates to a point where they cease to exist as two separate beings.

While Naina tells her story, one cannot help but notice that her beautiful eyes intermittently seek out the 'reason' for that story from amongst the crowd. Her eyes are the first thing that you notice about her - as they dart across the room, bright and eager. They turn moist, the moment she spots him. I smile, but I decide against interrupting her time travel.

This is a tale that will take you through the minds of two people - one who refuses to acknowledge that love exists in such a cruel world, and the other, who conquers everyone around with selfless, sometimes charming, love.

My inspiration for the story is something Naina told me, "Even if there is one woman out there whose life may change because of my story, I think it would be worth the effort."


When he held me, I knew this was where I wanted to be. But not just for now; and not just because we had to share an umbrella in pouring rain. If only it was because he wanted to hold me.....

I could sense his irritation at the unexpected torrents that would ruin the day for the creative team today. The rains lashed on the stalls that the team had put together so beautifully; now they would need to heartlessly drag the stalls into the pavilion, to salvage whatever remained. They would resurrect the stalls; Siddhant was not one to give up easily, and he would give it another shot - a second chance for the event.

Suddenly, I wanted another chance too. I wanted a chance at real life, at real love. I wanted him. As I realized this, standing with him under the umbrella that did an unsuccessful job of keeping us dry, I suddenly wanted to run as far from him as I could. I pulled away, planning to run towards the pavilion.

But he did not let go of my waist. "Don't like the rain, or don't like my company?" He had a smile on his lips, but his eyes held much deeper thoughts. I turned away and I ran all the way back to the pavilion, liberating my impatient hot tears into the cold rain. 

This is my entry for the HarperCollins–IndiBlogger Get Published contest, which is run with inputs from Yashodhara Lal and HarperCollins India.

If you liked this entry, do remember to 'like' it on this link at Harper Collins

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Shoppers Stop Love affair

"Errr...... a competition in Fashion?" The look on my darling husband's face told me he was trying hard to suppress a laugh that would, had it escaped his lips, ensure that he went hungry for a few days.

"Yes, fashion!" I retorted. "I am stylish you know.... I do know quite a bit about fashion, and I love to shop...."

While Hubby made a safe and hasty exit from the room, I had already started buying my very real wish-list in my imaginary trip to Shoppers Stop.

Let me explain why Shoppers Stop. Nearly two decades ago, SS was the only place you could see the kind of brands you saw in shopping malls abroad. I was introduced to SS as a slightly (?) overweight, clumsy teenager, by a doting dad. We had seen shopping in malls in Dubai, and India was yet to see the mushrooming of malls.

Needless to say, I fell in love - in love with the rows and rows of gleaming glass cases with jewelry, watches and perfumes, In love with the array of sexy outfits under flattering spotlights. In that visit, I was gifted a gold plated bracelet (bought from SS) which, for a while, I was inseparable from.

Every visit to SS hence, has been a satiating treat - visual, olfactory, and material. (The material part comes with certain after effects such as a hysterical spouse, but still). This can easily explain why against better judgement (and impending laughter from people who know me), I pounced upon the contest from Shoppers Stop which is all about conjuring up the most stylish look for the festive season.

Delhi is fast emerging as the fashion capital of the sub-continent, and some of it rubbed on me too. So I am influenced by the 5 trends of the festive season:

  1. Say no to bling! - Supposedly, this festive season will see the use of a lot of subtle, dull gold embroidery but bling is out, which means, we go easy on the Swarovski (oh damn!! there goes my entire festive wardrobe!)
  2. Offset the brightness : Traditional fabrics with different textures is good, but offsetting the typical festive colours with richer colours is a grand idea, such as teaming outfits with black for some oomph with the festive choices (I love black anyway - so yay!!!)
  3. Make a statement : For subtle and elegant garments, pick a statement neck piece or earrings (I hear you loud and clear - Earrings it is!!)
  4. Breeze through the festivities : A relatively fuss-free look is ideal for the festive season. The silhouette this year is long, long and long, with flowing fabric (Yay again: flowing fabric = hidden flaws)
  5. Layer your look : Layering is a big trend for the season, so whether it's a jacket over a lehenga, or a waistcoat teamed with a skirt, go with layering to enhance your festive look. (also beats being hit by pneumonia in Delhi winters)
Keeping the above discoveries in mind, ta-da.......!!!! Here's my pick from the online store at Shoppers Stop:

My Wishlist pick!

  1. This long flowy kurta with a dressy dupatta from Kashish  is exactly what the Doctor advised for a sophisticated yet feminine look. The embroidered yoke and the V neck are flattering styles, and is easy to carry off - whether you have dance on your mind, or you intend to charm the heck out of everyone around :-)
  2. This uber cool shrug from Life is my pick to ensure I am not shivering in my bones while making conversations in the Delhi winters. Life is Shoppers Stops exclusive label that embodies modern designs which are urban, youthful and in keeping with the current fashion. The knit fabric of the shrug, and the flattering cut which ends just above the waist, are just two of the many factors (including the unbelievable price tag of Rs 699 - can you believe it!?) for my choice.
  3. This is a clutch from Hidesign I would kill, maul, or blackmail to get my hands on. I mean, just look at it! How can anyone resist that piece of art? The fact that it does wonders to my budget (at a surprising Rs. 1395) is only bonus. Yummy!
  4. Footwear that gives you a glam factor, without compromising on your dignity (yup! I've tripped and fallen too many times to trust footwear that look menacingly heeled) is a boon for womankind. And voila! I have found it in this dull gold peep-toes that will add a good 2 inches to my height. :-)
  5. I am an earring person. I often give the neck piece a miss, so that I can flaunt a statement earring. And this beautiful gold plated dangler earrings with golden topaz, are just the right things to go weak-kneed on! Did I hear someone say "Oh but no bling, remember?" Well, a little bling did no one any harm now, did it?
  6. I first thought bare arms were the right look, till I came across a classic - this bracelet is one I would invest in without blinking an eyelid, for the sheer fact that it never would go out of fashion.
  7. Sigh! I miss the days when a watch was more than a fashion accessory. It was what you stood for - your signature. Alas - today, a mobile phone in every hand has reduced the dependency on watches. But this amber-brown colored Esprit chronological watch for me, is the second most important accessory in my festive wishlist.
The most important one, you ask me? Why, the dazzling smile, ofcourse!! :-)

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Gift of the Question Mark

‘Make a sentence with the word “Grass”

That was the question for the 6 year old in her exam. She loved making sentences. She scrunched her face in concentration, and finally wrote a well thought out sentence, remembering all the rules in grammar that she had been taught.

The test paper came back with a zero for the sentence. The red circle around the selected words explained why.

“I saw a lion in the garden eating grass” was what the sentence read.

‘Lion’ was underlined once in red, and ‘eating grass’ was underlined twice by an irritated adult – the teacher.

The girl came back home, and showed the page to yet another adult.

“Hmmm…..” said this adult. “The lion likes to eat grass?”

“No. A lion only likes to eat what it kills. This one likes to eat rabbits, like the one in the story.” Her lips quivered in sadness while she saw the red lines on her test paper.

“Sweetie, then why did this lion eat grass?"

This adult was not angry; just a little surprised with the answer that the six-year old gave. Evidently, the child knew that lions did not eat grass. Was this child a tad rebellious, a little care-a-damn for her own good?

Read why the girl's lion ate the grass at Parentous, where parents exchange views and ideas.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Parenting without Tags

The first question I am asked when I go to a gathering with my two brats is whether I am a working mom or a ‘housewife’. This question, I believe, is the first step to ‘tagging’ me – by people who are biased towards or against my way of raising my kids. Either way, I am usually always irked by the question, to a point where I have even ignored it a couple of times.

Firstly, if there were to be a profession by name of “Stay-at-home-Mom”, it would be researched as the most skilled of all professions – after all, it is akin to raising the future of the world! So anyone who scoffs or suddenly loses interest in your conversation after you have declared thus is someone who doesn’t have much foresight.

In the other end of the spectrum, you’ll find (more often than not) people scrunching their brows in disagreement when you say you pursue a corporate career full-time. And God forbid you answer the most obvious question with, “They go to a day care….”!! You are then branded as a career minded woman who tortures the poor kids and husband for material gains. Something I have encountered as a working mother

Read the complete article at Parentous, a community of parents.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Of smart phones and stupid people

Some days just compel you to sit back and wonder if we are indeed, evolving backwards. For me, meeting up with young minds has always been an enlightening experience. Today was no exception. A little history first:

We (the organization I work for) hire from B schools, from professional colleges and from any educational institute that may have students that fit the roles. We have also been in the past, a platform for many enterprising young minds to showcase their skill through internship programmes, some of who subsequently make their first career move into this company.

This involves meeting up with and interviewing hundreds of students of varying levels of commitment, intelligence and skills, from various institutes. Some are impressive, some are not. Some are difficult, some are hilarious. But as a rule, my colleagues and I make sure that the student goes back with at least an experience worthy of the time spent with us on an interview - call it the work ethic of the HR team here.

Anyway, the reason I am frustratedly punching keys right now on my laptop, is the result of a few such interviews today. While in the interview, I was fighting to keep a straight face to avoid seeming rude to the young ladies and gentlemen who came to meet us. But once out of the interview room, I couldn't help feeling a little sad and disillusioned with the quality of education that these young minds were exposed to.

The candidates were well turned out, in branded shirts and ties, and accessories that are in tune with the latest fashion in corporate dressing. They had resumes which had words like 'metaphoric embed' and many other such impressive words. All of them were on their Internet phones, updating statuses and other relevant details important for the socially active young crowd out there, before they stepped into the interview room.

But what I will remember about them, will be they way they fumbled when they spoke about their passion. I will remember that apart from the questions that they imagined the interviewer would ask, they had not imbibed knowledge about their career choice, their hobbies, or their own family!!

They had perhaps, imagined an interview to be a place where their 'smartness' quotient would be addressed. Perhaps they felt that technical knowledge was limited to only 'experienced' people and not really for campus recruits. Or is it a general trend of callousness that prevails over the whole age group?

They had superficial know-how of questions taught to them in their 'mock interviews' conducted by the college. But quiz them on their own endeavours, and it seems as though we are conversing in a Latin American tongue!!

Some answers :

"I am a very good basketball player,"
 ........ later....... "Position? Errr...... I play everything....... there are no positions in basketball!!"

"My passion is people. I love talking to people, getting to know them."
.......later...... "Actually Ma'am, my brother is something with the Police in Canada. I don't exactly know his designation"

The resume says "Detailed reading on the life of Shakuntala"
...... later....... "Errr...... she was the daughter of a pujari.... donno the name of the pujari, but her ring was swallowed by a fish."

"Yeah I guess that's what it means......"

"I wanna be you know, like an executive or something ......."

Many more such instances, where one didn't know whether it was the parents to be blamed, for not creating an environment of excellence, or at least imparting a passion for anything in life, or the faculty of these swanky money minting buildings who probably just want them to clear interviews, or the education system in general.

Any thoughts? Or am I over reacting?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Published at 'Parentous' ..........

"I am ‘Mommyeeee’ to an intelligent, almost-rebellious 9 year old, and an innovatively naughty, hyperactive 4 year old. While I am mostly a ‘cool’ Mom, there are days when I throw all caution to the wind and resort to the earliest form of discipline known to mankind – also known as ‘Because-I-told-you-so’

More than once, I have caught the siblings enacting their favorite dictator; namely me. My daughter perches a pair of glasses precariously on her little nose and in a high octave that would put an opera singer to shame say, “Because I told you so, and I am your Mamma……” to her brother literally ROFLing in pure glee.

While happy that both my kids show such a bias towards fine arts, I would definitely not like to be the villain of their lives all the time! That’s when I decided enough is enough, and their father would not get away with being the good cop forever.

Evening saw me sending the kids into the living room, with a treat that was rare in our household – Maggi, Coke and Chota Bheem, with a smiling threat to “stay in front of your cartoons till you are called.”

As an incredulous husband watched on, as I proceeded to shut the door of the master bedroom..........".

Read more of my article "Dad Learns to Discipline" at where parents discuss all things about the most important job in the world..... Parenting!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Bankster - A book review

Well, lets just say I have suddenly rediscovered my lost love, my first love - Books ! And that explains the burgeoning dose of book review in this blog. Am here with yet another review - The Bankster by Ravi Subramanian 

A few words for the first look..... The book is around 350 pages and has a nice, sleek look. The book feels good in your hands, with a little bit of texture on the cover. The fantastic thing blogadda seems to have done this time is to send out autographed books to the reviewers - great job guys, fantastic move. And thank you Ravi Subramanian, that was a thoughtful move.

Ok.... now, as in the usual turn of event in a review.....

  • Plot : The author almost succeeds in doing a John Grisham in the book. I say almost, because there are some pages which kinda remind you that its not Grisham - not yet, but may soon be. Well, the plot has three parallels - a CIA operative shrouded in mystery; an elderly gentleman who runs a resort in Kerala with his stand on a nuclear reactor planned in the area; and an inside look at the corporate politics and unabashedly selfish characters in a  global bank.
The book moves from one setting to another, almost making you wonder if the book is in fact, three different stories. The first half of the book brings in all the facts, all the little pieces of the puzzle. Till the 160th page one really wonders who the protagonist in the book actually is. The banker turned journalist, who is the protagonist, is introduced in true movie fashion - in style - only in the 160th page. The plot, in short, is a little slow for a few pages, and then accelerates to breakneck speed.

  •  Writing Style : Yes, there are moments of Grisham - like writing. Yet other moments, there is the whisper of a typical management graduate style of writing. I am not rubbishing the latter style at all - this combination seems to work well for the book, and may work very well for urban India. But there are a few disappointments which popped up:
    • The women in the book seem a little hollow. Obsessed with looks and PR, they seem to be constantly playing politics. Women, as protrayed in the book seem to be highly insecue about their age, the way the dress, and seem to be ready to use their looks to achieve their ambitions. Just a question - don't men look at mirrors when they see one?.... a little too much stereotyping for my liking
    • Some more stereotyping - Men, at least the successful ones are all seem to have a roving eye, seem to be noticing the number of buttons that are undone in a woman's shirt! The only one who is sincere ends up being unsuccessful, misunderstood, and eventually dead! 
    • The unofficial banter between colleagues, the flirting between them all seem a little forced.... or unnatural. 
But this notwithstanding, a gripping narrative. I was terribly torn between catching up on some blogging, and the reading. Its a huge compliment to the book when I say that I read the book cover to cover before putting it down.
  • Character Development : The author has skillfully described settings for each locale in detail. The landscapes in Angloa, the lush greenery in Devikkulam, the Mumbai suburbs, the streets in Vienna.... all of them are clearly etched in one's mind. Unfortunately, one can't say the same for the characters in the book. Except for one person (will not tell you who - don't want to spoil the climax for you) I don't have images framed in my head for the other characters - not even the protagonist!
  • Words and Print Quality : As I opened the cover, husband dearest guffawed when he saw the bank related title. I am really bad when it comes to financial terms, but hats off to the author for making it easy for non-banking people like me. Easy, simple words. No typos, and good print quality.
  • Final Verdict : Definitely one of the best thrillers from an Indian author. I certainly did not see the climax coming, and loved the way every piece fell into place at the end.  
This review is a part of the Blogadda Indian Bloggers Book Reviews Program at Blogadda. Participate now to get free books!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Why Every Woman Should Have a Sister.....

  • Only a sister knows when you're fishing for a compliment, and when you are genuinely thinking "I look fat."
  • Only a sister will listen to you complain about your hair when she is struggling to keep her eyes open in a different time zone
  • Only a sister understands when you suddenly burst into tears in the middle of recounting a funny incident in the past
  • Only a sister will understand when you flood her phone with photos of your latest cooking venture
  • Only a sister can keep up the tempo of a conversation surrounding the mango tree in the backyard, or the little drying up pond you both haven't seen in ages
  • Only a sister will call you back immediately after an hour long conversation to tell you that she "Just wanted to say a proper goodnight."
  • Only a sister will listen to you explaining in depth, the symptoms of your ailment - physical, mental, emotional or imaginary.
  • Only a sister will call up an aging parent to remind the parent that your birthday is tomorrow
  • Only a sister will send bottles and bottles of vitamins because you complained of osteoporosis
  • Only a sister will understand when you suddenly stop the conversation with "Shit! Gotto go...."
  • Only a sister will, inspite of the distance separating the two of you, make you feel as though she's just next to you......

Happy Birthday my darling Sis ...... you were the first 'best' thing to happen to me!


Friday, November 2, 2012

Of Karva Chauth, the 'Chaste' wives and TV Soaps

Lets do a simple exercise. Go to the most knowledgeable, most sought after friend, guide and teacher  (Ofcourse I was referring to Google ) and ask for something called an 'ideal hindu husband'....

Any luck? No? Oh... so one of the oldest civilizations in the world has nothing to offer, no two bit to preach to an important player in a marriage?

Oh Ok! I get it. Marriage is not all that important in our civilization, right?

Now lets try 'ideal Hindu Wife'.... WHOA!!!! Google really does adore ideal wives. If you are as lucky as me, you'll find, atleast in 5 different sites, the following couplet:

"Karyeshu Dasi, Karaneshu Manthri;
Bhojeshu Mata, Shayaneshu Rambha;
Roopeshu lakshmi, Kshamayeshu Dharitri;
Satkarma Nari, Kuladharma Patni"

Let me translate it to you poor sanskrit-unaware chaps out there:
"A servant (literal meaning is actually 'slave') while working,
A clever minister while advising (the husband; only the husband, mind you)
A mother when feeding (that explains the eternal 'cook like my Mom syndrome')
A slut celestial nymph - Rambha in bed (of husband ofcourse gasp!!! what were you thinking?)
A looker like Goddess Lakshmi
As patient (forgiving) as mother Earth
A lady with all these virtues (?)
Is the perfect wife"

Go on. Read that again. I am sure there is quite a considerable percent of our population who are rueful why they weren't born in the century that actually practised this. And if this couplet leaves any room for doubt, you'll even find training manuals for good wives.

Now, before you spring the it-has-been-wrongly-translated thing on me, let me also tell you that we are master con men when it comes to twisting words the way we want to. Read it any way you wish - does any version make you feel better about the expectations from a 'kuladharma patni'?

But forget the Manusmriti (incidentally, point number 18, 19 and 20 were runners up; but the winner hands down is point number 25 - superb, I tell you!!) even Balaji Telefilms believes this is exactly how the good wife should behave. Just ask the Viranis, the Raizadas, the Singhanias, the Aggarwals etc. how they like their 'bahus' - decked up, eyes downcast and calling their husbands 'Mannu key Papa'

The reason for this sudden outburst? Why, our good old Karva Chauth!!

It all began when my daughter saw me all decked up in Karva Chauth finery (worthy of a Balaji Film set), pooja thali in hand. I had just finished throwing the flowers and rice at the moon, and done the ritual as Mom-in-law had taught me years ago. During the first Karva Chauth, Mom-in-law and me had both vehemently agreed  to one thing - the saris and the jewelry and the sweets were fine, but no fasting-shasting for us hot blooded food lovers......

Daughter dearest looked up expectantly at me, finally telling me "Go on. Do it already!!"

I looked at her quizzically and asked, "Do what, princess?"

Princess : "Go touch Papa's feet. That's what they do in the movies right? So do it!"

Me : Gasp!!!!!

Husband : ROFL......(literally!)

Truth be told, if I had to fast to keep hubby alive, I would have run away from the wedding. On a more serious note, a corollary to this is, is there anything that the husband is supposed to do to ensure the wife has a long life?

No, I'm not talking about a crazy eyed ShahRukh Khan doing a DDLJ for karva chauth (though I was pleasantly surprised to see this breed of young men too). I'm talking about a true dictum (like the ones for women : the vat savitri, the teej, the karvan chauths, the varalaxmi vratams....)

Anyway, back to the most important question : Why aren't there any directives for men on the bencmarks for an ideal Husband? Or is there no such thing as an ideal husband?

I tried all the search options I could think of, from 'Ideal Husband' to 'Role of Husbands in Manusmriti' .... but couldn't come up with anything remotely similar for husbands. Why?

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Things You Didn't Know You'd Say in a Marriage

Well, there are a hundred in this list, but I thought I mustn't be the one credited with the extinction of an age-old institution, so I put forth here only a 10 pointer.
  •  Statement 10 : "I wonder where he gets his stupidity from. Not my side of genes, I assure you." - A statement most commonly used when an offspring gets bad grades in school, beats up other kids, makes embarrassing statements in public, or all of the above. Of course, this statement is only relevant to partners who have children and does not count for the ones who are still in the process of being conned by various relatives into being parents.
  • Statement 9 : "You are 3.2 centimeters closer to the switch, so why don't you get it?" - This is the climax of a very mature conversation involving very high analysis and decision making skills. The said conversation begins when any one of the spouses tells the other one to switch on/off an electrical appliance such as a light, fan, AC, TV etc. Can also be used when it involves things like shutting the door, answering the telephone etc. A direct co-relation has been established between the frequency of usage of this sentence, and the number of years of marriage.
  • Statement 8 : "Of course I liked the gift." A simple guide to understanding what it most probably means:
    • 'I hate that color. Will get it exchanged once he forgets about it.'
    • 'I will never use that. Wonder where she gets these weird ideas from. Maybe there's a refund policy.'
    • 'When will they stop showing brainless ads of these on TV.... as if real men used them!'
    • 'Hmmmm...... maybe, if I turned this inside out, I could learn to like the color.'
    • 'Red? Again? The guy needs to go through a crash course in colors.'
    • 'Wonder if that stupid secretary bought this one too.'
  • Statement 7 : "In a meeting, honey." Yup! A guide to what it means - again:
    • The obvious; you know - the thing almost all Ekta Kapoor Serials are made of.
    • 'I did not check if the movie tickets are available - lemme get out of this one alive!'
    • The final over in an India -Pakistan match. Wait - I'd rather not even pick up the phone
    • The jerk! He forgot our anniversary - let him grovel!
    • Maybe - just maybe, in a meeting
  • Statement 6 : 'I woke up the last time......' usually accompanied by a whine, found among specimens that have mutated into something called 'parents'. Most commonly used when they have to deal with national emergencies like soiled diapers, refilling of the feeding bottle, or just plain play-with-baby-at-midnight regime.
  • Statement 5: 'Whoa! You're gonna eat that?' Extremely suicidal tendencies may cause a spouse (usually the male) to use this statement to the other, who in turn, may turn homicidal.
  • Statement 4 : "Who ate that last gulab jamun?" (or pizza, or chocolate bar. Never, never an apple, a salad or a bowl of sprouts) - Self explanatory.
  • Statement 3 : "Lets get this straight - you asked me to marry you." Sometimes this statement may resemble a broken record - interspersed with bouts of crying. Other versions may include 'I should have listened to my mother / friends / neighbour / pet dog....." (no, fathers don't make it to that list, and mothers top that list)
  • Statement 2 : "But you used to like it ....." could be used in varying intensity depending on usage - from a personal quirk (like a snorting laugh, or an a nasal twang a la Reshammiya, etc.)to food, item of clothing, or bedroom moves.
  • Statement Numero Uno : 'You've changed.' This little bomb demands special attention from the listener. Things you should not do if you want to live to see your next birthday:
    • Statement 7 
    • Statement 5 (Ensures torture before death)
    • Statement 3 (Ditto)
    • 'So have you!' (Most commonly used, and proof that idiots still exist. Will secure the talker a position on the couch.)
Any additions?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The twleve-year snapshots

 "Happy Anniversary," G called out shyly from the bathroom. (Yes, we still call ours a bathroom, in spite of repeated reminders from the kiddo who goes to class 4 that its a 'washroom'). I sometimes wonder how G could be shy one minute and cocky the other - one of the attributes that I married him for, I suddenly realize.

"You remember?".  I am genuinely shocked at being taken by surprise yet again, by the guy I thought I knew like the back of my hand.

"Um-hmm..... Ofcourse I remember. Just because a few times I forgot random dates doesn't mean I'll do it always." That was the cocky G.

Its a working day today, and we were getting ready for a normal day ahead.

We suddenly discovered that we had nothing to say - none of the romantic banter that one associates with Wedding Anniversaries - especially since the kids had been packed off to school. We had our morning tea together. Just the two of us, the sound of the morning birds chirping and the occasional 'slurp' of the tea.

After tea, a quick squeeze of my hand, and a quick "See you in the evening" was enough to bring a smile to my lips and tune in my head for the rest of the day. While driving to work, my mind takes a historical tour of the 12 years that I've been the 'missus'  G.

I remembered the hushed conversation over the STD phone call (for the gen next kids, an STD is something that we needed on landlines to be able to call long distance. No, mobiles were not attached to our ears back then) G and I had, way past midnight a few days before our wedding. It had to be past midnight, because that was the only time we had privacy (since land line phones were almost always in the living room). And the conversation went thus:

G : "I've got all the travel arrangements done. After the wedding here in Delhi, we need to spend two days here, and then we all travel back to Kerala for the reception there." (this complex situation arose because I belong to a clan of uber conservative folks in Kerala, and he, from Delhi)

Me : "Ok. I hope it doesn't cost a bomb...... Aunty and Uncle (now Mom and Papa) are ok with the long travel, I hope."

G : "Don't worry. They can't wait to see your place. And I've booked the best tickets. (I could almost see his chest puffing up in pride). And its okay if we spend a little on this travel - and I booked the three tickets much in advance..... don't worry"

Me (suddenly fully awake) : "Err..... How many tickets did you say?"

G : "Three - one for Papa, one for Mom, and one for me."

Me : "Ummmm............. ok. And I presume you will be sitting next to my photograph in the reception. Or were you thinking of polygamy?"

G: "Oh shit! Gotto go. Will call you tomorrow. Bye."


After we were married, we had various official formalities to get done - especially since both of us worked with the same organization. All our trips to our common office spots - the head office, the unit in which we worked, the office parties, - we were an awkward couple.

We couldn't hold hands without looking sheepish. When we crossed paths in the office, we would do our best to look all professional, and would have succeeded too, had it not been for snickering friends in the background. We still ensured we had our lunches together, much later than the lunch rush hour. Thus ensured we got a few precious moments of 'couple' time.

I love to dance, and he would accompany me just for company. Given a choice, he would rather sit nursing a drink, chatting with a select few friends. In parties of common friends, when we were shoved into the dance floor, G never knew what to do with his hands during the slow dances. He managed the superb feat of keeping me away from anyone who came slightly close, without making any obvious moves.

G was not a big fan of my working odd hours. We were both hoteliers, and he knew the physical and mental exertion it took to be one. I loved my job, and so did he. While there were mumbling protests from him when we started leaving sticky notes on the fridge to communicate with each other, he never took it beyond the ultra-sound mumbles. So when I started feeling the pinch of exertion during advanced pregnancy, we had a hilarious conversation

Me : "Why don't you ask me how I feel these days?"

G : "How are you feeling?"

Me : "I feel like murdering someone. Who does X think he is ? Typical MCP. He's your friend no? And what does he know about par stocks? And I can do a better job than him while I am in the labor room. All men are the same - condescending MCPs. Try being pregnant - and you'll know. Sometimes I want to throw this whole damn job and sit at home."

G : "Er...... Ummmm.............."

Me : "Seriously, sometimes I think its not worth it. There! I am not ashamed to admit it! I am tired. I want a break."

G : "Er...... Ummmm.........Err........"

Me : "When are you going to graduate from Errr..... Ummmm? I knew it! You don't care about what I'm going through. Earlier you used to ask me how I felt..... now you just don't care! You were the one who wanted a baby - you should be the one suffering morning sickness and bloated ankles...." (With as dignified a walk-out as a football with legs could muster)

G : (five minutes later, with a cup of tea) "Chai piyogi?" (Will you have tea?) "I think you should take a break. You are working too hard. And you can always think of teaching maybe, if you are bored later."

Me : "There you go again! How typical. Teaching! What the hell do you think I will do in a roomful of kids? You think that's a safe job don't you? Gimme that tea."

G : "Or you could have the baby in the hotel laundry room. We can call the house doctor when you have your contractions. I don't think it should be a problem"

Me : "@#$%!!!"

G: "You know you are tired, and you know you want to take a break. Why is this so difficult? We are going to have a baby, and we are all stressed about it. (I gave him a dirty look here) .....You more than me, but the truth is that you do need to take things easy now. Look - lets do something. You take a break, do what you've always wanted to do, read a few books, heck - even write something if you feel like it. And whenever you think you are ready to get back, we'll do the hunting together."

With a hint of a smile when he knew he'd almost won the argument

G: "And with your credentials, you'll not be hunting, you'll be hunted!"

Me : "Oh shut up!" (but mighty pleased with the turn of events, and with the superb ginger tea he's made for me)

A major phase in my life had ended with that day. I never went back to hotel operations, but this decision opened up another phase in my life. And the whole credit goes to a man with huge watery eyes, a purposeful stride (even if he's just walking away a cramp) and a cocky sense of humour who walked into my life and turned it upside down.

With the birth of junior G, I had discovered emotions in my husband of three years, that I had never seen before. He sat up the whole night in the hospital, barely blinking, barely breathing, holding little G. No amount of coaxing would make him put her in her crib till he finally believed that she was real, that she was his, and that he would be spending the rest of his life worrying about her.

We have had terrible fights too. From earth jarring door slamming to ear shattering silence, we've done it all. From cynical remarks about each others quirks, to silent jealous pangs, we've had our worst moments too.

But when I take a moment out of the mundane, to think of the man I am married to, all I can remember are the one liners that made me laugh myself to tears or the silent gestures that give me the strength to take on anything in the world.

Happy twelfth anniversary, G.

P.S. A request from a blogger friend was for the complete foto :-)


Monday, October 22, 2012

Oh! The Woes of Civilization

Hey! All you strange people out there!

Yes, yes ...... you guys! The ones who call yourselves 'liberal' and 'educated'. I have had enough of this nonsense of you guys going on and on about women's rights! What exactly are you propagating?

Are you telling me that we aren't modern enough for you firangis ? You and your chowmein and your mobile phone wielding women! Tch! Tch!

When a very learned friend said that chowmein caused all the rapes, you guys scoffed at him! This is nothing to scoff about - its pure science! Don't you realize that all those 'spagetti tops' these women wear reminds our poor boys of the chowmein and they want to just tear off those tops and eat them? And you call yourself educated!

And what is this hue and cry about about mobiles for women? Have you actually seen girls talking on mobile phones? They look so happy! Now you tell me  - don't we all know that womenfolk aren't supposed to be happy! It is in our culture that women should not be happy....

Have you ever seen a happy Sita Maiyya? Can you imagine her laugh with gay abandon into her mobile phone complaining that Lord Ram was taking too long to rescue her?  Do you think Ravana would have left her in peace if she kept laughing and joking into her mobile phone? And then you blame our poor boys!

Or imagine if Radhaji had a mobile phone, and kept disturbing Bhagwan Krishna while he was killing all those Rakshasas!! They were the true women - beautiful, sad and pining! No happiness for the real women. No sir! They are the real Indian women. And you should be thanking us for all that we are doing to take this country to Ram Rajya.

Let me ask you something - why do you think there is so much poverty in this land?

Hmmmph!! It has nothing to do with corruption - it is pure statistics, I tell you! We are poor because of this damn thing called equality!

Earlier, we only had to cook enough food for the men. After the men ate, the women (and the girls too) would just scrape off whatever was left and feed themselves - like real women should! And now we have to buy groceries for the women in the house too - it is truly Kalyug!

In the good old days, the boys would go to study or go outside to play, and the girls would be cooking and washing for them at home. If they did not wash or cook well, we could beat them up. And then see how the productivity of the whole country would have gone up!!

 But NO....... you and your fancy foreign concepts of resepect and equality for these women *gasp!*  only brought the whole country to the dogs. And now we are talking about stopping moksha for these cursed souls by not killing them in their wombs! How much more are you going to waste the nation's money on women? Where has all you patriotism gone now?

All you people want is to malign the poor Godfearing menfolk of this land.
Don't we fast for Durga Ma for 9 days?
Don't we sing 'Jai Ambe Gauri......' very loudly during the pujas?
Don't we wash young girls feet during the kanya puja?
What more do you expect out of us? Treat our daughters like we treat our sons (shudder!!!!)........ And let them be happy?

You must all be out of your minds!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Book Review - Just Married Please Excuse

There were some rules I had made for myself with regards to the kind of books I would read. I promised myself that I would read very selected desi books. No, please don't judge me - its just that after a certain point, there was nothing that I would remember about the book, if someone were to ask me about it. Not many pages out of the book stayed in your head for long.

I was at a blogger meet recently where a charming young woman named Yashodhara Lal was helping us with writing tips. The book titled 'Just Married Please Excuse' was doing quite well among young readers, and she was letting us know how the book came about. Her talk was not 'gyan' and felt genuine. I got myself the book and settled down to read it, as usual, after the kids had been tucked in.

In my usual style, a review

  • Plot : A city bred girl decides to get married to a diametrically opposite guy. The story revolves around the actual course of events through coutship, newly married days and the newly attained status of parenthood. Nothing new. But wait! Most books leave out the embarrassing moments of truth. This one thrives on it.
Give me an honest answer to this question - when was the last time you had tears in your eyes from laughing so hard after reading a book? Not recently, huh? This one scores hands down in the humour quotient. I had a concerned 9 year old come and check on me becasue of all the guffawing.

But you know what takes the humour to another level? The fact that it is so damn truthful!!
  • Writing style : I am a short story writer, and I couldn't write a novel to save my life! So I have immense respect for writers who write a novel in the same pace as that of a short story. This one has break neck speed. So make sure you have every distraction tucked away before you sit with this book. A few burnt dinners guaranteed otherwise :-).
 I finished the book in one sitting (finished it at about 4 am). A few strategically placed Hindi words and a few dialogues in the 'conversational' English that we love to use only makes the book easier to comprehend. Again, the triumph of simplicity over enthusiastic use of big words.
  • Character Development : This is where the author seems to have put her observation skills to good use. There are a handful of continuous characters, and these characters are for me, now people who have a face, a voice, a dressing style (hell, even a quirk!) in my mind. Even the random walk-by characters have their space in the book. Kudos!

  • Words and Print quality : Its a Harper Collins - period. No typos, no editing goof ups, and certainly no grammatical errors (other than the ones the author wanted to bring in for effect). Thumbs up here!

  • Final Verdict : I now possess a book that I will go to, when I have had a particularly bad hair day, to remind myself that marriage and kids are just another window to open up and take in a breath of fresh air. A book that couples can read and laugh together - you may even have wide eyed 'OMG! Thats so true!' being doled out in good measure. Also a book I have recommended to friends who share a sarcastic streak. A definite read!  

Friday, October 19, 2012

Love? Bah! Humbug! - My entry to the GetPublished contest

A beautiful, remote beach resort, renowned for being a honeymooner's paradise. Spread over acres and acres of land, with a private beach, golden sands, luxurious rooms beautiful swimming pools at split levels. Ruby red sunsets, cloudless, shimmering nights and the constant lull of waves that came to kiss the land......

The ideal setting for that perfect love story which could make Romeo and Juliet blush with inadequacy. A love tale that could have been an epic to be told and retold...... Right?


G and M couldn't see eye to eye. Literally. They met, they glared, they schemed against each other and they tried to walk separate ways; if only the world would let them be ..............

Based on the real life story of a couple pushed together by fate, love in this story is like a naughty child, springing surprises on the unsuspecting people involved. But sometimes, things really don't happen as you want them to.......... or do they?

Excerpt from the story :

"Wait a minute, you two!" The only person who could make us sit in one room for more than a few seconds was the General Manager of the hotel where G and I were colleagues. "M, if I hear one more complaint about you throwing G's files into the shredder, I will personally ensure your transfer to the Housekeeping department."

I nodded emphatically, hoping that would pacify the Boss. I was in no mood to cut short my career in hotels, just because I wanted to punch G's smirk; but I was seething inside.

G's cinemascopic smile froze on his face when the GM turned to him. "And you..... If I ever hear about you changing the office locks without giving her a key, I will shift your office to the bhoot bangla (the haunted room). Am I clear or do you want written communication to remind you in case you forget?"

"S(He) started it." We both mumbled under our breaths.

This is my entry for the HarperCollins–IndiBlogger Get Published contest, which is run with inputs from Yashodhara Lal and HarperCollins India.

Do vote for it on this link at Harper Collins if you would like to see this story complete itself .....

Thursday, October 18, 2012

I, Me and dumber Myself

I had an aching posterior, most probably due to the graceful moves associated with slipping on a tiled floor.  After having cursed my inclination towards overdosing the 'Death by chocolate' dessert for my clumsiness, I decided to sleep out the pain.

That's when I had a strange dream where I had a very weird conversation  with a younger, prettier, dumber myself. A ME that was a decade and a half younger....

Me : Hey you look just like me!!

Younger Me : Well duh! I should think so...... I am you, dumbo (followed by an irritating guffaw that had intermittent snorts. I winced, thinking of all the people who knew the Younger Me, and mentally congratulated Me for doing such a good job of Myself!)

Me : WTF!! Then what are you doing here? Shouldn't you be like inside of me or something? I ain't dead or anything am I?

Younger Me: (that guffaw again!..... God! do I laugh like that?) : No you're not dead - for now! But looks like you soon will be!

Me : Ha! You dare advise me? Look at you, you and your silly happy guffaws and your pipeline jeans and your curves and your bloody lovely hair ..... Err.... I mean you with your inexperience, and your hollow existence!

Younger Me : Well, why shouldn't I advise you? Guess who's been making record-breaking embarrassing mistakes just for your benefit? You, however, seem to have an asinine reluctance to learn from them! Do you know how difficult it is to grin stupidly in a roomful of people snickering at you? You do realize that my very existence is questionable if you haven't learnt from my mistakes, right?

Me : No way, dudette! There's nothing you can do that I can't do better!

Younger me : For starters, I can wear spandex - so just shut up and listen. Also, I can laugh at myself ...... can you?

Me : Ha! How hollow! ..... Can you be the super mom that I am? Or the creative mastermind that I am at work? Can you even write an essay without messing up sheets and sheets of paper? Do you even know what a blog is? No match - I told you!

Younger me : Hmmm..... well,  I have a beautiful handwriting, I am told. And honestly, you want to tell me that you prefer punching keys to actually writing? I mean the sound of real pencil on real paper. The joy of discovering that particular pen that fits so perfectly between your index finger and your thumb..... the joy of collecting beautiful pens, the exhilaration when you just changed the refill...... (now looking genuinely surprised)..... you've forgotten all about them, haven't you? (now with an accusing look)

Me (feeling a little uneasy now) : One's got to change with the times. Think of the time it would take me to write all this stuff with a real pen? And use what whitening fluid for corrections? Yuck! Anyway - that's not a big thing! Look at all the stuff I've achieved....

Younger Me : Yeah..... ok. Well, do you have better friends now? I mean do you have the kind of friends I had? The kind who would wake you up in the dead of night to tell you they forgot to wash their clothes tonight and they had to wear it tomorrow, and so you both had to wash it in darkness coz' the landlord would blow his top? No? Well, what about friends who will drop everything to be with you because your dog died? No? Okay I get it! You have friends who would give you the last hundred bucks in their wallet because you had that urgent STD call? Ummmm...... No, huh?

Me : But I have my priorities now! And frankly, this romantic gibberish is far below in my list. Unlike you, I have a house, a car and a career (almost expecting Younger Me to do a 'Shashi Kapoor - Mere paas Ma hai" on me after this!). You didn't think all this just fell into my lap for being a wistful, twenty something with lovely skin, dreamy eyes and long, luscious hair err....... I mean, by being a foolish Utopian, did you?

Younger me : Well, I had more character, you know! Not to mention vivid imagination! Look at you - you watch Shirish Kunder movies!!!!!

Me : Heyyyy! Not fair....that was a mistake - I thought I was going to watch Rowdy Rathore....

Younger Me : Me, Me, Me...... sigh! Now how does that logic make you look any better?

Me : Oh Ok.... that was not the right argument! Anyway, your logic is flawed too. If I was you, I'd be sent to the nearest mental asylum! You laugh like a hiccuping train, you cry when you watch silly stuff like 'Tangled', you smile at absolute strangers, just because you feel 'the sun was nice and bright today', you lend money to people who can't possibly pay you back, you dance 'for the heck of it', you go 'awwwww' the moment you see a stray pup............ you are a certified nut job!

Younger Me : And you? You laugh as though it costs you a fortune! You get embarrassed by emotions - you don't shed a tear even when you know that its the best tribute! You squint and growl at strangers because they delayed starting their car a microsecond too late at a traffic light. You save up for months to buy something of immense monetary value - and yet your happiness does not live beyond a few days, sometimes hours........ Who's the real nut job? (Horrible, horrible laugh again)

Younger Me was a scheming little thing, let me tell you. She used my momentary shock due to the Ravana guffaw, to drive in more irrelevant, irreverent stuff

Younger Me : Do you even remember the last time you laughed while reading a book? No, not that simian show where a cricketer and a man...err...woman...err...I have no clue, sit on a show and laugh themselves senseless on equally tasteless jokes...... but a real book? Or do you remember the last long drive, when you drove to feel the wind in your hair? Or the last time you cooked leisurely, thinking of the reaction when the person you cooked for, saw it?

Rudely woken up by the alarm clock, I was grateful I didn't have to hear that awful laugh again. Ofcourse, I know Younger Me was stupid.......... Right?

(Pic courtesy google images)


Monday, October 15, 2012

All is Fair ..... and Lovely!

Apparently, these days, interviews are all about slathering copious amounts of 'Fair and lovely'...errr .... 'Fair and handsome'....err..... 'Dumb and confused' on one's face, accompanied by an exaggerated Tom Selleck cocky eyebrow. It really doesn't matter what crap you say in the interview, as long as you look like a 'fair' model. Thats what this ad would like us to believe anyway. So make way, IITs and IIMs - qualification was just an excuse. What we really want to see is if you turned up the 'fair-o-meter'.

"Just rub 1 ml of cream into eyes of the people you want to impress, and voila!" Pic. courtesy Google

Similarly, if you are a badminton player or a tennis player, you apparently will not win a game, if you aren't (wait for it.......) 'fair' !! Wonder if other racket sports have the same problem? Maybe then the Willaims sisters bribed their way into lead positions!

And how can you forget that unforgettable appendage called gasp! the underarms? Heavens will thunder and the earth crack open if you have dark underarms. Gone are the days when everyone from the carefree Auntyji to the ooh so sexy Bengali didi used to don sleeveless without a care in the world! Today we have to get those 'fairness deos' before we attempt the impossible - wave a hearty goodbye in a sleeveless top!

The height of sophistication seems to be having 'fair' 'intimate parts' too. Losing the lustre in a relationship? No problem. Nah! What you need is not a marriage counsellor, but get your intimate parts shining fair and lovely! (See? We are a progressive nation. Whoever said we were not modern?). Don't believe me? Watch this !!

We are now so bombarded with the fairness virus, that we do not bat an eyelid if a pehelwan uses a whitening cream, or if we have men rushing for shelter to protect their delicate skin from the sun's darkening rays. A new dimension to gender equality, folks! Just when we thought the 'fairer sex' was just a metaphor, we now have competition here too!

By the way, if you are a talented singer, or dancer, all is lost of you are not granted that magic cream which gives you the 'raison d'etre' ..... Fairness!  After all, can you see even one matrimonial ad that says 'dusky, awesome girl'? Chances are, you will not. And ofcourse, we all know that the final destination is righ there in these ads...... so why not start young, huh?

What tickles my funny bone is that when an appropriately called "FakingNews" newsletter declares that a new Fairness Cream for Newborns has been discovered, they received a rush of comments asking for further details. (dont forget to scroll down to read the comments for a huge dose of laughter)

Can you imagine the pain, the frustration of a parent with a beautiful but dusky complexioned baby? The poor kid will not be able to win a match, or display a talent, or hell, even get an 'affsar - wala' job, for heavens' sake! And lets not even get to the part where the poor family looks for a 'fair' spouse for the kid!!

The post itself is howlarious, with a reporter called 'Pagal Patrakaar' doing a superb job of calling a spade a tractor; but what really takes the cake is the comments section - do go through the pitiful frantic pleas of worried mothers (and fathers) waiting to lay their hands on this cream for newborns ....................

There are yet others who have given appropriate (if not deserving) replies to these parents. Some replies I wanted to stand up and give a standing ovation. :-)

Certainly makes one stop and think - is beauty really skin deep? I am afraid not.