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?