Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tooth Fairy-Tales

Kids are not kids any more. They are growing up in such a huge hurry.
Neel, at 5 ½ , came up with a shaky tooth. (but isn’t that supposed to happen after 7 ?)
That’s cuuuuuuute !
Then he showed us a big-boy tooth already growing.
Yikes, now that’s scarrrrrrrry !

Off to the dentist.
This is what it cost us :
A chocolate bribe, an icecream sundae after, a sick father burning with fever walking over to the sweet shop, a toy, a special tooth box from his friend Navya, a few more chocs from the neighbourhing mummy, another toy….

Neel was very brave about the dentist pulling out his tooth. And super thrilled about the tooth fairy taking his baby tooth away from under his pillow at night.

The next morning, Neel came running up so excited. “Mama, I tried to stay awake to see the tooth fairy, but I didn’t – but I think I heard the fairy’s stars twinkling.”

No, my little boy, with a big-boy tooth – that was just the twinkle in your eyes, I thought. Aah, the wonder, the innocence and the excitement of kid-hood !

Kids, after all, are still kids. They’ve a long way to go before the cynicism of adulthood sets in. (At least till the day Neel discovers what ‘fairy’ also means).

Part II – The next afternoon, Neel and Niks were rolling, fighting and playing rough, as only little boys can. Another yelp from Neel. His 2-year-old brother had bashed out ANOTHER tooth.
Help - here we go again !

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Life is dangerous

Got a scary email today saying microwave food is dangerous – free radicals – cancer of the intestines.
Read yesterday, they’ve finally proved that cell phone usage will end up in cancer of the brain.
Using re-cooked oil will give me cancer of whatever body part is left.

The pollution levels in the city are so high that over half of the population will get asthma or other respiratory illnesses.
The underground water has sewage seeping into it which will cause gastro-enteritis or skin problems – or probably both.

Processed food out of cans causes damage of the nervous system.
Cooked food kills all nutrients, and will leave me with iron and calcium and mineral deficiencies.
Raw food will give me salmonella poisoning.

If I stay home and watch TV –I’ll get obese – and slowly blind.
If I get out and drive in the traffic – it’s road rage and stress syndromes.
Walking in the sun causes skin cancer.
Jogging gives me heel and knee tendonitis.

I think the general prediction here is no matter what I do –
if I carry on living, I’m going to die.

So let’s go sit out in the cancerous sunshine, inhale some lung-polluting air, open the bag of carcinogenic chips and wash it down with some liver-damaging vodka.

Who wants to join me ?

Monday, November 9, 2009


This morning, I get a phone call
“Hello,” I say.
“Who is that?” says the other voice.
“Jane,” I reply, biting back a fittingly caustic reply.
“Oh please hold on…. ”

So, I decided today, to dedicate this blog post to the annoyingisms of daily life :

Party invitees, who turn up 2 hours after you’ve invited them, saying they had to be elsewhere, and then leave early, saying they have to be going elsewhere. (Elsewhere has since been checked out, and exists in the same category as ‘next time’ – as in, ‘next time’ you are invited to ‘elsewhere’.)

Women who starve themselves on an almond a day – and then ask if they ‘look fat in these clothes’.

My mom’s very clear un-ambiguous speech, which drives me up the wall (and from this blog, you probably think I permanently reside up there) by asking ‘Can you pass me that thing from there?’

My 2 ½ year old, who is going one day to post-graduate in annoyingism – who straight after a crash from the other room, comes running in to say, “I didn’t do it.”

My favourite - borrowed from a friend, Gaurav : The definition of a Nano-second : the time between when the traffic light turns green, and the idiot behind you starts honking.

People who send your forwards with all the chain of forwards that other people have sent them – down to 14 generations – and to add insult to environmental injury – threaten instant strokes of lightning if you don’t continue the chain.

And if you think I’m over-reacting – consider that a whole lot of people actually spent real time on this research : A research found 99 out of 100 people found the most annoying word was ‘Whatever’.
They asked the remaining 1% what she thought of it – and she said “Whatever…”

Learning : But the annoyingest of them all goes to someone who calls her blog 'daily a-musings' and then posts once in 2 weeks ;-)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Saturday Night Fever

Then :
Remember John Travolta belting out ‘Saturday night fever –yeeeeeah !’ pointing his finger in the air, and his pelvis too?
The theme song for singles ! I couldn’t wait for the week to end – to hit the night clubs, and when they closed – 7 of us hostel girls cheaped out at the Taj Coffee Shop over 1 cup of coffee for all of us – till 6 in the morning, when we jumped the hostel gate, jumped into bed –and slept through the education our parents were paying for.
Aaah, those were the days – or rather, the Saturday nights.

Now :
Saturday night is when the fever hits all right.
104 degrees. Burning heads, puking kids.
And what every sleep-deprived parent knows : No doctors are open on Sundays.
And kids plan their urgent, sick n dying, fevers for just then. Always. Without fail. They’re as healthy as horses through the week.
Mine both kept me awake all of last night (yup – it was a Saturday) - with loosies.
“See the night – see the night, feverrrrrrrr, we know how to do it”

So from spending the night dancing the groove – to the tango with the loo.
From cocktails on our table – to a bedside table with a dozen medicine bottles.
From the juke box – to the puke box !

You've come a long way, Baby, oh yeaaaahhhh !

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Short Cuts take too long

The shortest cut from A to B for me is invariably via C, D and E as well.
I actually went from Calcutta to Delhi once via Hyderabad, which meant that I was actually flying South, when I wanted to fly North. But the fare was so tempting. Of course, I spent a good many hours more, including one hour at the Hyderabad airport, stuck in the plane.

So, it is my long-term opinion that short cuts are not worth taking. I will teach my sons this. There is no short way out – you’ve got to study for the tests. Sleeping with the book under your head will not transfer the material magically to your brain in the night. I’ve tried it. Transfer Failure. Translated further into Test Failure too.

D’you know, there is no short cut in life, Nikash, I said to him this morning on our way to play school.
I no know, said Nikash, which is his standard reply to anything asked from complex philosophical phenomenon to What will you eat for Dinner?
There is no short cut, I repeat. And then I see before me a humungous pile-up of cars at a stubbornly red signal. And equally suddenly, I see the back lane that turns off to the left, and I swing the car over to the lane. It seems empty. Of course it is. It is a dead-end. Aaaah – so I turn back and take the next lane, which turns out to be a one-way, with a rather unsympathetic cop at the end. I turn back and get stuck, (now with a 100 buck fine too, in my hand) in the first humungous traffic pile-up, which has become even more humungous during my antics.
Why didn’t you remind me, Nikash, that there are no short cuts if life? I ask him.
I no know, he replies.

But I dream of the day when there will be tailor-made short cuts. Like 1 switch will replace the 1 hour that it takes to get 1 dosa down Nikash’s mouth. Or 1 button which will cook a 3-course-meal. Or 1 phone call which will get a 3-year-degree without studying for it. Hey, hang on – that’s possible. In Bihar, at least it was.

That brings me to the fact that everyone else seems to know how to take these short cuts and win. The auto-driver zooms past on the wrong side of the road, and makes it past the signal in time. A pushy mom pushes her pushy kid right up to the bank counter, while I wait in the never-moving queue. And all my landlord’s sons in Bihar became doctors while they just lay on their cots the whole day and chewed cud.

That’s ok. See – there are some things you gotta do just because they are right. I tell my little boy while bringing him home. Cheaters never prosper. It’s better to do things the long way and to do them right.
I know, says Nikash.
I turn to him with surprise, then give him a hug, while the light turns green, and the other cars whizz past.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Tarzan & the Apes

Last week, we drove far and high into the Nilgiri mountains to get away from it all.
11 friends. No cells, no email, no TV, no electricity, no cars, no smoke….

Planned activities : 6 am steep mountain trek in fresh air
Actual activities : Finished a bottle of Chivas at night, and no one woke up for fresh mountain air or steep trek.

Instead, every day, took a jeep safari deep into the jungle. Aah, the beauty of trees, the smell of fresh rain, the chill of mist, the sound of silence…
“Look there’s a black panther”
“What other colour panther is there?”
“Pink Panther.”
“That’s not a panther. That’s a flying fox.”
“Foxes can’t fly. That’s a kingfisher.”
“Kingfisher is what my Dad drinks” ….
Warning : For the sound of silence, please leave 5-year-olds at home.

Actual no. of panthers seen = ZERO
Panther seen however by a barking deer, (according to our guide), which let out an alarm call. (Or may have been the backfiring of another safari jeep).

Wildlife seen : Deer, and more deer, and more deer. The deer were sending out embossed invites to their second cousins, removed thrice, to come and see the funny humans in the jeep.
Also seen : 1 wild, vicious, huge Indian bison – gaur. Neel got so excited, he almost fell out of the jeep, and got trampled by the vicious wild bison, which instead turned its humungous butt to us, and carried on munching grass and emitting greenhouse gases.
Result : 1 photograph of humungous butt of indeterminate origin.
Not seen on safari: a single leopard or tiger or even wild boar. But as a PR exercise, a whole family of wild boar piglets waddled over to our tent that night, to share our dinner.

Yup, it was a beautiful, blissful, brilliant getaway – marked by a singular lack of worry – about the things that usually worry us.
For example :
No. of calories consumed = 6 million and 47 (all by me).
Result : 1 photograph of humungous-butt bison again (oh, sorry, that was ME !)

For example again :
No. of rocks Niks climbed = 329
No. of rocks Niks fell off = 329

We went as 6 adults and 5 kids, and came back as 11 kids.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Most precious

What’s the most precious thing you have? Asks a friend. If there’s a fire, what are you going to take out of home with you? Given that all people and dogs and fish are out, of course.

Don't think too long. Remember, there's a fire.
I’d first take the photos. My babies, sepia-tinted me as a baby myself, of friend-filled manic years, of getting married (if only to prove I once had a 24 inch waist) – these are memories – can’t let them burn.

Then to the kitchen to take the recipe books full of Ma’s hand-written recipes that no one else on the planet can make… ooops, kitchen’s full of smoke – oh that’s ok – I left the fried egg still frying. While here, must take Nik’s sipper – cos without it, he’ll never drink a drop again (Alcoholic Anonymous’ pledge).

Can’t take something of Nik’s and not Neel’s. Will have World War 3. OK, take Neel’s light shoes with Xoxo masters on them. And his glow-in-the-dark pig. Oh, there’s his birthday drawing for his Dad – a dinosaur eating up someone (hopefully not his Dad) – must take that.

The antique grandfather clock, the wedding portrait of my parents (which makes everyone ask how 2 good looking people produced someone like me J ) , the sword we got from Venice, the hand-made quilt.

My jewellery? Or will the fire melt it to one solid lump of gold, which I can use to fill my teeth. Our leather-bound family bible. S’s bible – the Best of Rolling Stones. Our collection of Just William books.
MY LEVIS JEANS.. nothing else makes my legs look so long…
Fire all over the house now !
Box full of papers? Proof of birth, proof of marriage, proof of graduation….S’s 180 proofs?

Too much to take, too little time.
And then I hear the little voice that says : Leave it all behind. You’ll go, as you entered. Without anything.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A 100 miles. In baby steps.

Learning : going to begin this with a learning this time. In order to run, walk or things like this, you must set SMALL milestones. Count in steps.

Case Study of Day 1 :

2 minutes to get my running shoes on.
Can’t find matching red sock – does it matter? Marco has 1 chewed red sock in his basket. Ugggh – can’t wear that. Will wear one red sock and one striped (can’t find other striped sock too).
That took 10 minutes. Oh well !

2 minutes to breathe in and breathe out – before starting on my run.
Haha – look at my stomach when I breathe out – looks at least 5 months pregnant.

Down the lift.
Up the lift. It’s going to rain. Best take an umbrella. Must go running. Come rain or shine. That’s me.
Can’t find the umbrella. Wear a hooded jacket instead. Now, I look like a serious runner. Or a terrorist. Must change into pink track pants to match the jacket.
25 minutes. Have not started the run yet.

Ok. Make it down the lift to the back gate.
Meet a neighbour who asks about school admission. 17 minutes.
10 steps to the tailor shop. 10 steps to the lamp post.
Meet a boy walking a pup peeing on the lamp post.
Stop to coochie coo the puppy. 8 minutes of giving gyan to boy and pup.
Pup is now looking at my leg as a substitute for the lamp post.
Time to run.

20 steps to the dhobi cart.
Cell phone rings. Old friend from Delhi. 20 minute chat about how I have started running seriously, while resting on a tree trunk.
Serious run now. 14 steps to the next tree.
Cell phone rings. Spend 6 minutes trying to explain to someone why I can’t talk now.
15 steps to the … shoelace opens out.
Bend to tie shoelace and then do 3 steps to the street corner.
Starts to rain. Where’s my umbrella ?
Aaah. Left it at the first tree or second tree or dhobi cart?

14 steps to the shelter of Sree Krishna Sweet Mart. Fastest run of the day yet.
Rains for 15 minutes.
I consume 2 pieces of mysur pak and 1 over sweetened badam milk shake.

Not good to run on a full stomach.
Call home and ask S to pick me up and take me back home.

Feeling real good. Running is real good.
Must do this every day.

Friday, September 4, 2009

what's your dword ?

I stubbed my toe on the $#** door jamb that is supposed to keep the door open.
“damn”, I shout, then seeing Nik (2 ½ years old) - “damnnadiffadoooodidoodilaaaa ! “

We all have a favourite word – the one that comes out first – when that son-of-a-female-dog driver cuts in front of you, or the lice-infested, onion-smelling boss calls you in on a Sunday to office. Or when the damnadooodillaaa door jamb stubs your toe…

I call them dwords (door jamb words), and they tell me more about people than anything else does. Here are some of the results of my life-long research. Feel free to add your own.

“AIIYYO” = “All people listen, I am a proud southie and I don’t care what You think, so sod Off !”

“Oh God” = I don’t think there’s a God, if this is happening to me.

“Awesome” = I have a limited American vocabulary of words like “like”

“Yeeeeoooow “ = I’ve been watching too much Cartoon Network

“Shit” = i was born before MTV

“Fcuk” = I am so fcucking uber-cool that I need to use fcuk 5 times in a sentence before I brush my teeth

“Aaaaaah “ = I am a normal human being in a normal reaction of pain… (which is why you never hear anyone saying this).

While writing this, Nik, who has dropped a monster truck on his own toe screams “Mamaaa ! “ – that’s his dword – and it means “Mama, drop whatever you’re doing (on your toe) and get your butt here at once to make the pain go away! “

“HaHa” says S, which is his dword, since he finds almost everything funny. Also called Laughing Buddha by a wise friend, he is an unflappable person who finds a furious screaming Nik, who immediately stops crying when a furious me arrives, and then immediately drops the same monster truck on his same toe – funny !!!
And suddenly I feel a laugh coming on myself… hehe haha.
“HaHa” – yup – that’s a great positive dword – I will use it from now on till forever.

Nik looks at both his parents cracking up and drops the monster truck – on MY door-jambed toe !

Sunday, August 30, 2009

101st Dalmation

I woke up one day covered with spots. Red itchy ones.
Measles, I think. Finally, I get to sit back in bed while everyone pampers me.
No, said the doc, it’s an allergy. NO bed.
What am I allergic to, I ask? Doctors – HaHa.
The doc is not amused.

I go through 2 months of tests.
Pin pricks, punch pricks, a patch test (which makes me look like a robot, because I have this huge patch full of 30 little spots stuck onto my back). I tell the nurse when she comes to pull it off - So now, you’re going to open up my back and replace my batteries.. Haha.
The nurse is not amused. She yanks the patch off, and I yell.
Mental note : Add nurses to my allergies.

3 months of spots over… no diagnosis. 5 more doctors consulted.
Dermatologists, Derma-toxi-tolgoists, Derma-I have a degree from Scotland-tologists.
A lot of my money goes. None of the spots go.
Says the Derma-I am dead serious about this -tologist – You need a skin biopsy.
I dissolve into tears. I have Cancer. Then I remember, that if I have Cancer, I have precious little time, so I must not waste my time crying. I must make a Will.
I realize I have less money in the bank, and more debts to pay – that is not a good thing to Will someone I love. No Wills. Back to crying.

4 months – Don’t be an idiot. Go to a Homeopath, say All the Wise Ones, in my life.
I flush out all the pills. And go to the Homeopath.
No, No, You have done it all wrong, says this doc, You are poisoning yourself. Allopathy kills. Drink water, don’t drink coffee, don’t kill yourself.
I take lots of sweet little white balls. I get a new red spot for every homeo ball I take.
I also have huge migraines from not having coffee.
Bye to the Homeo, Back to the coffee.
If I am going to die, I want to die happy.

It’s now been 6 months of spots.
Take Safi to clean your blood, says my Mother (Mothers know best?)
Take bitter gourd juice in the morning, says another Wise One.
You are allergic to your dog, says another doctor. (Poor Marco goes through 5 weeks of tic-tac medicinal baths and doesn’t know what’s hit him.)
You are allergic to dust, pollen, bugs, mosquitoes (say docs numbers 5 to 8).
You have spotted swine flu, says someone who has been watching too much news.
I have now done so many tests, that I can google myself as a case study.
I can never wear shorts again in my life – booo hoooo !
I will never be cured of my allergic cancer to dogs and dust mites and doctors. Boo hooooo !

Woke up this morning to even more spots.
Mama, says Neel, you look amazing ! You’ve turned into a leopard.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Who let the cat out?

Today, I drove out and stuck my car into the worst ever traffic jam.
A narrow street, half of it being dug up, and cars stuck at strange angles which would make it quite impossible for anyone to go anywhere, unless some cars were to suddenly sprout wings.
So I stepped out of my car and plodded over to find out what happened. This is what I was told.
A black cat crossed the road.
The red car about to cross jammed on its brakes. The white car behind it and the 2 bikes behind that all went and smashed into the red car. A black SUV van from the other side of the road also refused to cross after the black cat, so it turned into a 1-way-road, and jammed up a dozen peace-loving vehicles on that road. Another bike with 3 people on it tried to get in between, and got in STUCK in between it all.
Everyone was arguing with everyone else. Like the Tower of Babel.
The red car had an angry woman screaming in Bengali. The white car had a driver screaming in Hindi. The auto drivers (from 11 cars down the road all came to pass loud judgement in Kannada). The black van had a teenager hurling choisest abuses in Punjabi (I think).
In the midst of this all, some smart guy on a moped thought he’d squeeze in between and get out, so he passed.
Some auto guy yelled out to him and told him he’d crossed the black cat path. The moped guy now came back to push the black van driver, who took a swing at someone else who had just stopped to listen.
Soon, it was back to Square One. Or by now, Octagon One.
A yellow school bus conductor had come out to join the fight. All the school kids were out playing in the dirty drain. Some guy came selling American Sun Shades. A woman with a kid drinking milk out of her came to beg for money. Some auto drivers left their autos in the middle of the mess and went to drink tea. A foreigner started taking photographs. And the black van driver threw him a punch too.
40 minutes later, by some miracle it began to rain. Everyone got into their own cars and started their engines. As the first car was about to pull out, the black cat, who had been sitting on a wall watching the entertainment, decided to saunter across the road again.

Learning : I am not superstitious, but probably really stupid. Because I cannot understand why I can’t cut hair on a Tuesday, or marry someone born on a Monday. Or why walking under a ladder, or crossing the road after a cat, or breaking a mirror will cause me 7 years of bad luck. Unless of course, the cat decides to stop crossing the road, and comes back to scratch me to shreds. In which, 7 years of bad luck will be the least of my worries.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Birds and the Bees

What’s a good time to give your kids their first hint at a topic that will fascinate them forever after? At 14 or 10 or 6 ?
Some snippets from discussion with friends :
Mom 1 : Whose lil daughter thought that women grew boobs when their babies blew air into them.
Mom 2 : When asked about what a condom was said it was a small balloon, and had her son yell in a birthday party that he wanted a condom NOW.
Dad 3 : Whose 3 year old son asked him whether he’d found his fucking car keys yet.
Me : My son at 5, is still happily innocent. He thinks women have 3 ‘belly buttons’.

In our house, in our attempt to bring them up naturally and healthily etc… we let them get their sex education from National Geographic and Animal Planet.
So Neel sees the wilderbeast “pottying” out a baby, and I’ve caught him once or twice sitting on the pot, and sneaking a peek to see if he was producing anything living himself.
He has no clue of course where the baby comes from, and still threatens to send his little brother back to the hospital gift shop that supplied him.
Mom 4 is mightily worried when she read about a 13-year-old boy fathering a kid, since her own son is that age himself, and she is struggling enough with being a mom, forget being a GRANDMOM !

The last time I was inspired to tell Neel about the birds and the bees, I chickened out, and just told him the difference between eagles and hawks. But the world is changing quick. And kids are getting smarter than their old pops and moms.
So one day pretty soon, Neel’s gonna sit me down and tell me : Now Ma, I think you’re grown up enough to understand this. I hate to tell you this but Niks did not come from a hospital gift shop. He came from a dinosaur egg.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The dog ate my excuses

10.10 a.m :I am so so late for a 10 a.m. meeting – everything that could have gone wrong, WENT wrong… Murphy lives !
I am therefore in my bath, when the cell first rings ‘Where are you, Jane?’
“On my way”
Nik starts howling.
‘What is that noise?’ asks the office voice
“That’s the traffic policeman. Can’t talk. Bye”

10.25 : Make it somehow to the car.
Yeooooww – forgot the stupid car key.
Run up the stairs.
Get into the car. Forgot the stupid cell phone.
Run up the stairs..
Cell rings “Where ARE you, Jane?”
“Bad traffic. Baaaad traffic. Traffic jammed for miles.”
Neighbour on stairs “Hi, still here today?”
Office Voice : “Who was that?”
Me : “Radio – radio FM”

10.45 : Now truly stuck in the dratted traffic jam.
Cell rings “Where are you NOW? Client’s waiting.”
“Reached. Parking. Be there in 5 mins.”

5 minutes later : Office voice :”Where are you now?” (I think they’ve got an automated voice response to keep saying this – it sounds like Arnold Schwazznegger )
“Can’t find parking. There in 2 mins”

Reach the office 1 hour 7 ½ minutes late. Rush into meeting.
Furious looking office person (owner of the Office Voice) and grumpy looking client.
“So Sorry! Am I late?
So – Where are We now? “ (hah ! Revenge on the Automated Office Voice).

Learning : I have made and heard excuses of every species : Rained, Flooded, Caught by police, Kid (Dog/ Fish/ Spouse) fell ill, I fell ill (should be accompanied by violent sneezes), forgot the way, forgot the date, forgot who I am (should be accompanied by bump on the head)…. Gonna write a book on them some day – Got any real winners, anyone? Maids have the best ones, I think though, going by the number of times they kill off a number of grandmothers.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The ghost of D 305

I never believed in monsters, but I have 2 little ones at home. I never believed in aliens, but I’ve married a man who is convinced he’s one, and I never believed in ghosts. Till…

Me : Omigosh, I’ve been gone 5 minutes. Who broke my long-stemmed vase?
Neel : Not me.
Niks : Not me.
Marco polo does not even shake a guilty tail.
The maid is cleaning under the sofa – under – understand – that’s a side of the sofa that has never seen a broom in its life, and is getting a persecution complex at the sight of one.
The cook is seriously buried in churning out something no one will eat. (Neel : Not me, Nik : Not me)
S is buried in a mallu flick, paying more attention to the woman shrieking on TV, than the woman shrieking off it.
Ma is playing the keyboard to drown out the screams of the dying vase. And those of her living daughter.
No one entered the house. The door is locked from inside. Hercule Poirot/ Mr Holmes, where are you?
Elementary, my dear watsits, the vase jumped up out of depression at being in a see-through garment all its life, and committed suicide! Any other theories anyone? Any IDEAS, huh?
Neel : Not me
Niks : Not me

Learning :
The same mystery occurred when my keys got lost (and were found in the washing machine), when S’ specs were bent backwards, and when my perfume bottle was emptied into the dog basket. Any insider insights or ghost busters are welcome !

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Black or White

“Oh Oh my baby, it don’t matter if you’re black or white”.
But it did matter to him, didn’t it? He went under multiple knives, and even more media twitter to become white, he married white women and had white children.

White. Thin. Rich. Cool.
Who sets the ‘happening’ labels ? Some fashionista in the sky? A blue-eyed god? Not likely. Centuries of white dominators?
And when do the opposite words become weapons?
Walking past the playground, I overheard “No, you can’t sit on that. You’re too fat.” A dreaded label which that little girl is going to try all her life to shake off.

Here instead are some totally cool labels I’d like to see (inspired again by my favourite beings : kids n animals)

“Butt-scented” : Notice how dogs make an impression on other dogs by sniffing their butts? As in : “Whoa, she’s cute!!! Her butt stinks from a few blocks away!”
“Stung Stud” : Neel : Mama, That tall boy’s really cool. He got stung by a bee 3 TIMES !!!”
“Lice Mate” : As in monkeys – “She’s the best thing to happen to me – She and I – we spend whole mornings just picking each other’s lice – My Lice-Mate till I die….” (sung to the tune of Yaadon ki Baarat. )
“Spit Chief” : I know for sure that the coolest kid among the 5 year olds is he who blows the biggest spit bubble.

No one’s bothered in the dog kingdom whether you look like a million dollars or earn it. The only label they ever stick on you is “Good tummy rubber” or “World’ best cook” (finally - someone thinks I am !)

Anyways, I sat through bits of Jacko’s funeral today, and through the tears, heard various people call him the “Greatest Entertainer of all Time”, “a loving Dad”, “ a fantastic human being”.
All politically correct, added-sugar, take-in-small-doses labels.
No one called him Black.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Stress busters busted

So my doc tells me I’m stressed. (I have paid her a hugely stressful amount to tell me this). This is my list of how to bust the stress.

1) Breathe in and out.
Situation : Annoying person cuts in front of you in queue.
Action : Breathe in and OUT into his face. (preferably after eating garlic). Annoying person either passes out, or starts a fight, in which case, you are justified to smash him to pulp.

2) Yoga
This is very relaxing I am told, but it didn’t work for me, for the following reason.
Yoga involves twisting your body into impossible angles, while thinking all the time of whether you have switched off the gas, or even worse, whether you will ever be able to untwist your body – and if not, how will you drive your car home?

3) Make me-time

This is the King of Wishful Thinking. The last time I wanted to go with my girlfriends for a drink, this is how it went. I had to iron my white shirt last minute, feed niks in a hurry, who then threw up over the white shirt, iron the black dress last minute, the dog ran away with it straight after, iron my red shirt last minute and find a huge iron burn in it, because I went to answer the phone,(which was S saying he’s stuck in traffic), then wear something un-ironed, which made my butt look too big, and not have time with all the ironing to wash out my hair which I had oiled with egg yolk, and have my 5 year old choose that moment to try out cross-dressing and break the high heel I had kept out to wear, and finally call my friends to say I can’t make it, because I want to use my “me time” to sit and howl.

4) Organise your life.
Ha HAAA. I am the kind who keeps all my bills in a shoebox. I am the kind who never pays these bills till they are overdue and my various phone and power connections have been cut off. I am the kind who gets pre-traumatic disorder when tax returns, insurance policies and other various things with drunk, dancing numbers – have to be organised. I wish we could go back to the barter system. You give me a bar of chocolate, and I will give you a branded black dress that my dog ran away with, and did undescribable acts with.

Learning :
I am never gonna be stress-free, am I? But you are welcome to try and help me – by sending me your proven stress-busting tips. I promise to keep them carefully in my shoebox.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Masked Woman

I have masks from all over the world strung up on my wall. It took a kid to walk in and ask me “Do you wear any of the masks?” to get me thinking.

I try hard to be honest – especially to myself… but...

There’s my Jack Nicholson Joker mask : The smile frozen in ice, when I want desperately to be somewhere else but am trying to look interested. “Yes, really, that is sooooooo interesting, tell me more.” (I wonder what’s for dinner?!!). “Yes, what you do is soooo interesting.” (Where is the loo in this place?)

My Raavana mask : (oooh boy, here comes Mama, with her 10 heads – all looking equally fierce.. we musta done something really bad today !) Followed by 2-year-old Niks who quickly said yesterday, “Ok, Mama, I’m going to stand in the corner.”

And then sometimes, it all slips !
To the Rain-goddess mask : I have had enough of everyone and everything… I’m underpaid and over-worked ! Watch out, the showers are gonna start ! hooooowl !

If I have a mask I pull out for every occasion - I’m wondering what the real me looks like?

I know people – a vary rare few actually – who are so comfortable in their own skins, that they actually are the same with everyone…. either utterly rude, or politically incorrect, or preachy, or whatever.. but it’s the same (take me as I am)…

But the majority of us, we’re multiple-masked bandits, aren’t we? The Kick-ass-Boss mask, the Lone Ranger (“no one better come into my corner”) mask, the Nobody-can-hurt-me mask, the yahoo-always-smiley mask…. No one really sees the real us… not even the mirror ?

And this is the part I hate : We teach our kids to mask themselves early in life. (Atleast Michael Jackson is open about it). I saw Neel come home from school today with swollen eyes.. but when he saw me, he tried to smile. That’s the Big-Boys-Don’t-Cry Mask. And I’ve been teaching him to wear it.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

a nik by any other name

Giving birth to my children was easier than giving names to them.
S and I agreed on Neel after 6 months (ok, not on Neel – we loved him from the time we saw him) but on the name Neel. I offered a list of 12 fabulous strong boy names, and S said let’s call him Rohan.
2 1/2 years later, I went into hospital clutching my 110 agreed-upon girl names, and we had another boy. So I agonized over 15 strong boy names, and S said let’s name him Rohan. We went through all the books and all the sites and it became an international naming process, with everyone contributing. The baby was called Nemo because he drank like a fish. Then Yoda, because he looked like a wizened old wise man. He was finally named Nikash under threat. (Srini threatened to call him GilliGilliAppa). Let me also add that no one calls him Nikash. He’s Nik, Niks, Niku, Niki, Appu, Kutta, Nikky Poo, Sweet potato, and even Big Dinosaur (his name for himself).
What is it a name means to us? Do we want our kids to be proud of what they’re called? Do we want them to grow up into their names – Like a Rose or a Veer or a Sundari ?
Naming significant others in the family was tons easier. Like our pup got named Marco Polo, because he walked into the house, and explored every corner, also peeing in each one of them (not that the original Marco Polo did – or at least, I have no proof).
The toys also were named super-fast. One car is actually called Super-fast. Neel has a very descriptive and action-oriented approach to naming. When asked what he wanted to call his little brother, he replied “Rolly Polly Machine”. His stuffed tiger is Ferrari, his stuffed dinosaur is “Green Fire Nose”. And after agonizing over the name of his stuffed dog for all of 2 days, I walked in and asked him “Neel, have you named your doggie ?”
“Not Yet, Mama,” he said, and NOTYET is the doggie’s name ever after. Amen.

Learning :
Would love to hear from you what you named your kids/ dogs/ spouses/ cars – but the why – and especially the “how” . Was it the letter of a book? Or from the pages of a book? Or some old girlfriend you had a crush on? Or the name of grandparents, in which case, I would be named “Antonio Santana Felicia Anna Maria Cajetan Salvadore da souza”. Sexy, huh?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Niks in lock-up

High-tension drama enacted at D305 on Sunday evening, starring Nik, aged 2, and 12 panicked adults, aged – well – let’s keep that confidential, shall we?
Nik woke up from his afternoon nap and locked himself in the ONLY room in the house which has no key. This is the series of events, after that :

1. Me : Niks, open the lock
2. Nik : ok, mama… (does no such thing)
3. My mom : Nik, turn the black thing
4. Me : He doesn’t know colours
5. My mom : turn the round thing
6. Me : He doesn’t know shapes
7. My mom : You haven’t taught him ANYTHING
8. S has, all this time, been having a haircut (and probably massage and all that goes with it, at the local barber)
9. Neighbours rush in to help
10. Neenu : Nik, don’t cry
11. Me : (starting to cry)
12. My mom : I TOLD you both to get a new KEY – AGES ago !!!
13. Neighbours go to find a locksmith. It is a Sunday night and all locksmiths are at home, behind closed doors (like mine). The building handyman is called in. The security man also walks in. Basically, anyone passing by walks in.
14. Everyone : Niks, open the lock
15. Nik : ok (does no such thing)
16. My mom : I TOLD you both to get a new KEY – AGES ago !!!
17. Locksmith is brought in. He cannot open the door. He has not brought his set of spare keys.
18. Locksmith goes back to his shop to bring his spare keys.
19. My mom : I TOLD you both to get a new KEY – AGES ago !!! … (and says this another 27 times in a row)
20. S returns to see his house full of hyperventilating people, and asks : Where is Neel?
21. Neel has been taking advantage of everyone being busy and has eaten a whole slab of butter meanwhile.
22. OMIGOSH, now we’re gonna have TWO kids in trouble!!!
23. Locksmith returns with spare keys. Cannot open door. Totally breaks up my other spare key to my other door (we now have 2 doors without keys – and I HOPE no house-breaking thief type person is reading this).
24. Me : Break the @#$#* door
25. Locksmith cannot break the door. Who is this man? Is he a non-violent nun in disguise?
26. It takes 2 hours and 12 people to finally break the door.

12 adults in panic peer into the dark room inside – to see –
1 calm smiling baby playing in the dark on the bed : Hey Mama !

Learning :
Do not ever let your child lock himself in a room, which has no key, on a Sunday evening, while your husband is having a haircut, and the only locksmith on duty is a non-violent nun. The probability of these events happening together is 1 in a trizillion. But if it does happen, call me ! I’ll bring my 11 other adults to help you panic.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

whose mom am i ?

I am a mother to 2 little boys, and a daughter to loving parents.
Or sometimes I wonder, is it the other way around?

1 day, when I was in Bombay crossing a road with my big strong Dad, I suddenly found myself reaching out for his hand, in the traffic hurtling by. And I also realized it wasn’t because I was unsafe, but I though he would be. I wanted to make sure he went across ok.
When did the roles reverse?
Today, my mom lives with us. And I put 3 bowls of porridge out every morning. For my kids and for my mom. I take her out once in while to somewhere she really wants to go. Like to church. I scold her when she eats too little veggies, or when she eats too much sweet.
When did the roles reverse?

And sometimes late at night, when S is out of town, and it is my turn to take our doggie out, I find it is a little too dark and too late and too scary. And Neel, all of 5 years old, suddenly hops along, “because he doesn’t want anyone to take his mama away”. And I find his hand in mine, because he feels unsafe? Or he thinks I do?
When did the roles reverse?

Friday, May 22, 2009


Preity and Ness headed for Splitsville, scream the headlines. That’s the same place that Jen-Ben once went. And Jen-Brad once went. And Brad-Anjelina are now thinking of going. Where is this place?
Splitsville is somewhere only the rich and famous go. Like Maliboob. I’ve split in my time.
But you think the papers would send me there? Nah. It’s chocabloc full ! Of film stars and soccer stars and journalists who are so busy following everyone in there, that their significant others have split. Being in Advertising, I have naturally turned my extensive intensive research into an ad.

Head to Splitsville this summer.
Beat the Heat with the hottest splitting bods in Bollywood (or get even hotter)
Then cool down by the Split-level pool, while you get photos clicked of you, so you can sue every paper in town.
Enjoy the split level air, and split the bill (or anything else) with Brad Splitt.
Only $1 million for further information – split into further information chapters of more million $ each.

Learning : Why do we lap up this Splitsville news with such glee in the first place? Is it because we like to see those who are so beautiful, rich and famous, become a little sadder, a little more human? After all, when someone normal and non-famous who we know splits (I mean a couple splits of course – would be quite painful if any one person were to split – unless he has a split personality, which means he is already split and in pain… digression over.) So if a couple splits, we offer tea and sympathy (unless of course she “deserves” it, which means she said you’d put on weight the last time she met you, the b*%#@ ! Digression over again) And then we go on to tell humiliating stories about the ex-partner, who it turns out “we never really liked”. Till some day, we meet them together again, and realize they’re back together again, and had never really split.
P.S. Mel Gibson has left his wife of 28 years for Splitsville, with a woman who plays the piano really well. She also has a hot bod, but apparently he noticed her piano playing. Being a little thick in the head must be another criterion to get into those golden Splitsville gates.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Keep track !

Back when I was in an office, which back then, had a coffee machine, I overheard this conversation :
She : “ I can’t stand her ! She’s always leading him on…”
Another She : “Yes. And having an affair on the side, I’d like to slap her.”
I sidled in to “lend a ear” a bit more – only to find out they were in a sympathetic cluck-a-cluck over the latest soap opera.

My mom once watched a soap for many moons and sunny afternoons. Everyone basically married every one else in turn, so that there were more connections than the Indian Railways. So Brick, for example, marries Stone (yes, they really have names like that), who is his Dad Sand’s ex-wife. Their kid (Cement?) therefore is his son and his brother – or is it uncle?
“Aaah,” says my anguished Mom, who follows these connections like a bloodhound. “That is SandStorm – the adopted ex-kid who pretended to die in the last episode. You never keep track.”

I walk into S watching his football. Fairly simple. He cheers for Arsenal, who play in red, whose main striker is this brilliant guy called Thierry (Yes, he could apply for my mom’s serial with a name like that). So I walk in and see Thierry in red kick a fabulous goal. Yay Yay, I cheer, Way to go, Arsenal.
S is not amused. Apparently Thierry has joined Barca ages back, and Arsenal, for my kind information, lost their last match. “You never keep track.”

So, I hardly ever watch TV. So what?
But how tough is it to catch on to a kiddie program, I think, as I watch Neel watching the antics of a cartoon dog on screen. How many cartoon dogs are there? Scoobie Doo, Pluto, Spike? I carefully ask : “Hey, Neel, what’s this dog’s name then?”
“Mama, that is NOT a dog. It’s a Velico-Vanquerer-Rapto-Prex. Mamaaa, you never keep track.

Learning : You can tell who is Boss at home by whose hands have the remote control of the TV. So I should get my hands on it, and fling it out of the window. And to the vociferous objections I will get, what can I say? “Don’t you know what day it is today, you guys? Today is My Bad Hair-Badder Mood Day. Don’t you ever keep track?”

Monday, May 11, 2009

Every neighbourhood has 1

We all know this one person who is totally eccentrically infuriating – sometimes avoidable, but sometimes not – like I walked in home to see Aunty G sitting there. Aunty G or Aunty Gravity, for the unique ability to make the world revolve around her.

“Did you hear – in that storm - a coconut tree fell on my neighbour’s house and smashed their roof.”
“At least, it wasn’t your house, Auntyji.”
“It was MY neighbour. I asked God of all the houses in this place, you could only find one next to me? It will be my house next? What have I done to deserve this?”

I search desperately for some topic where she won’t be the unwilling focus.
Elections ! – aha ! Surely she can’t be the centre of a nationwide phenomenon.
“They are having elections NOW ! Just when I am going to be in my daughter’s house in America that time… What timing ! They always have elections when I can’t vote!”
Subtle hints like telling her that there are greater forces, besides her, fall flat.
“Look, elections are a 5-year-thingie, Aunty, – and you should plan your trip accordingly.”
“What rubbish! My daughter is having a baby,” she lashes out. “And they too are so selfish. They couldn’t have planned that baby better ?– at some time when I was free to go.”
OK, so family planning, national planning and weather planning are definitely not to be undertaken without Aunty G’s prior permission.

She finally heaved herself up to leave, after complaining that the sweets I served were too sweet, with no concern for diabetics like her, and that we live on the 3rd floor, with blinding blindness towards knee pains of arthritic people like her.
“You really shouldn’t take the trouble to come over,” I say. “The steps, the distance… for someone like you.”
“What rubbish!” Aunty G retorts. “I never think of myself.”

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Mask - Part J

Urged on to get glowing hair and creamy teeth, or is it silky teeth and dazzling skin– or anyway, just urged on to look like Barbie by a zimultizillion magazine ads, I finally succumbed.
Today, after a day of fumes and sun and paint dust, I pulled out the Neem face pack that I’d got as a freebie with washing soap. Lathered it on, and imagined myself emerging like Bo Derek from the water. Emerged from the bathroom to a shriek, and my 2-year-old began to howl, and wouldn’t come to me for half an hour after. I hurriedly washed off the Neem mask and my Bo Derek hopes.
I’ve had a hate-hate relationship with cosmetics all my life. I ate a bit of my strawberry crush face lotion in a late-night pregnancy hunger pang. My dog growled non-stop at my Mud under-eye cream, and when he got to it, he chewed it to little mud pieces. His under eyes have been glowing ever since. My sons play ping-pong with my 3 sunscreen lotions, none of which have ever been used, and have hardened into alien life forms. The burgundy hair colour which has Penelope Cuz tossing her glossing curls because she’s ‘worth it’, turned my hair into blood red spikes.
I never find the time to go the beauty parlour, and the one time I went for a spa massage, I giggled so much, they refunded my money and shut the door on my face. While growing up, I was more a tom boy than the blushing rose, and the only beauty aid I ever used was band-aid on my knees, from falling off a dozen trees.
So today, I cleared my bathroom shelf of the little bottles of 5-star hotel lotions and potions, and the guaranteed silky skin so-and-sos. And I picked up my still sniffling 2 year-old, who looks a lot happier now that his mama’s face is no longer green.

Learning :
1. Nothing’s gonna change the way I look, except for a meteor falling on my face. Which I can live with, or in this case, live without.
2. My 2 little boys think I’m the most beautiful woman in the world, and Hey – that’s good enough for me… (that’s till they discover Barbie of course).

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Single's Party Tonight

“Why be single, come and mingle,” tingled my cell in an early morning sms from Opened my mail to be told “The woman of your dreams is waiting for you!” Umm ?

My understanding of dating, mating sites is that pot-bellied old men pose as young hunks to attract young nubile nymphets, who are actually over-the-hill women looking to attract young hunks. Complicatedly simple….

The singles I know are happily single. One has traveled 75 countries on her own, and is on her next. My most adventurous trip of late has been taking my dog to the vet with a ear infection.(My dog’s, not the vet’s – though the vet may have got a ear infection after meeting my dog – which just goes to show that not all arranged dates work so well.)

Anyway, I invite all the matchmakers, marrying sites and dust mites to my very own SINGLES PARTY tonight.

See, S is always cribbing that the washing machine eats up one of his socks. He never gets 2 socks of the same colour out again. S has the world’s leading collection of single socks. Next - I buy a dozen clothes pegs, and the next day, there are 11 left ! 1 spoon out of the new set has gone walkies, under my nose.

So where do these Singles all go? Is there some hip hopping party under the floor tiles of my house that I’m sleeping through? Only one way to find out. I invite all those who have been urging me to meet my match to my singles party tonight. Creep under the tiles and go seek. You never know.
You may have the time of your life. And meet the sock of your dreams.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The murder of Daisy Dee

My most faithful childhood companion was a doll called Daisy Dee whose hair I combed and shampooed; I told her many secrets, married her off to many suitable suitors, like Wind-up-Piggy and the boy on the biscuit tin.

Recently, I asked a tiny girl her favourite doll’s name. “I have 27,” she said, “and they’re all called Barbie.”
Today’s kid gets a toy when he does well in class, does miserably in class, Dad goes on a biz trip, Mom goes on a shopping trip (guilt), Sunday, Rain day, Uncle’s-coming-avisiting-so-you’d-better-behave day, election day in Alaska, found-a-toy-not-made-in-China day….
Do they know the romance of waking up every morning to the same beloved, raggedy teddy bear? Or is it quick flings, one-night stands with the train set, until the new car comes in? Will they ever know the magic of an entire afternoon spent fixing a toy soldier’s broken arm with string and grandma’s stolen dentures? Or will it be “Pa, just buy me the next-gen soldier with the laser gun?”

The other day I found Daisy Dee in an old box, and decided to introduce her to my little boys, with all her stories and dreams. We cuddled under the quilt at night, and I told them about value, sentiment and love. They looked at her and me with awe. I DID IT, I thought, I gave them a life lesson.

The next morning, my foot kicked something that went bouncing down the stairs. It was Daisy Dee’s head. A monster truck had run over her, a Transformer twisted her arms backwards, and a dinosaur had bitten a chunk out of her middle. I put her back into her box. Only one dainty foot was still un-attacked.
May her sole (and my heart) rest in peace.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Membership open for the Bleeding Hearts Club

Ok, so I get a lot of ribbing for being a pulp. I sob at sad movies, goo-goo over stray pups, buy anything from any seller with a sad face. BUT – it’s a firm NO to beggars.

This signal on 100 feet Road? – there’s a kid there – a regular. Sometimes, he appears with his head bandaged, after applying ketchup behind a tree. Sometimes, he’s selling ear buds. Today, he had a big God portrait, and a coupla garlands around his neck.

“I have no money to go to Tirupati”
Me : I have no money too.
Kid (looking through my car window) : You’ve got your handbag.
Me : That’s my mother’s handbag.
Kid : You’re so lucky. I have no mother
Me : (heart bleeding a bit)
Kid again : I’ll pray for you to Lord Balaji at Tirupati
Me (last ditch attempt ) : That won’t help me. I’m Christian.
Kid : Then I’ll pray for you at St. Mary's Church on the way.

I lost. I gave him something. Heck, I almost hired him. Trust me, he’s gonna be Big someday. And maybe sponsor my Bleeding Hearts Club.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Save My House

My summer holiday homework is REDO House.
S wants to know if my idea of saving money in a recession, is to spend loads of it.
The answer stares you in the face. If you come knocking on my door, that is. (And don’t knock too hard, or the door may cave in.)
Between my dog and my kids, they have peeled the walls and chewed the furniture. There is a stain on the sofa that looks suspiciously like some disgusting body fluid, but is actually orange juice, which by an anti-gravity miracle, has also splashed the ceiling. When a guest opened a cabinet, the Giant Book of Monsters fell on his head.
So I’ve spent hours in the sun, in various potty shops (as Priti so delicately puts it) looking for tiles and basins, and more hours arguing with a lost-looking contractor.
The salient points of my Redo House are therefore :
- Only space left for Ma’s expensive keyboard is in dog’s basket
- Nik fell off the bunk bed in the display at the furniture store – so that is out.
- S and I have argued over every item, colour and finish, and now reached a shade between jaundice-yellow and bile-green
- Neel has asked Asian Paints to paint a HYENA on his wall
Summary :
After copious calculations, (and bad sun tan), I have arrived at NO conclusion on tiles or walls, but reached an estimate. It will cost ½ the State budget, and take 13 years to complete my house.
And will be broken down the next day.

Statistics prove you are going to die

Woke up to the fresh smell of filter coffee. And opened the newspaper.
Warned the health column – 62% of coffee drinkers have ulcers and angina. Phew ! Just in time !
Opened the orange juice carton. Packed with Vitamin C and all that… Statistics prove that 46.3 % of people who drink juice, which has no fibre, end up with constipation and piles. Ouch !
Cornflakes… frown the statistics – cause cavities in 8.3 out of 10 kids. (what does a .3 kid look like?)
87 % of packaged foods have additives.
85% of fruits have pesticides.
99% of meats are instant cholesterol.
Idli, dosa make India the Diabetes capital of the world.
Ahem ? Water then? Statistics cannot believe my ignorance, pointing out how 77.6% of drinking water is contaminated with underground sewage…. Ugh !

Not hungry any more. Let me just live on fresh air…
Not a chance ! 9 out of 10 places in the city have air that is polluted with above average suspended particle matter which will give me asthma and cancer.
Stop eating. Stop breathing.

A crash course in statistics :
The interviewer met Betty and Sue in a small American hick town, over a cup of coffee. After that, Betty said Bye, tripped over her shoelace, fell down the stairs and broke her neck. The interviewer wrote – Statistics prove that 50% of women who drink coffee die premature deaths.

Statistics are bad for you. Don’t believe everything you’re told… unless I’m telling it to you. J

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A question on drawing

I met a kid I know after her Board exam. “It was super easy,” she said. “Everyone cheated.”
We all laughed. That was funny. And then sad.

It took me back to my own student days. I remember an exam where I squinted hard at question no. 29, all the while being prodded by someone’s foot from behind, getting a loud whisper from the left, and a dig in my ribs from the right. The 2 students ahead of me had their heads joined into 1 big solar eclipse.
Did I cheat?
No. Maybe…. Yes ! Once or twice. Or maybe thrice. To help out a friend in need. Or just to be cool, and ‘with it’ and ‘with them’.

It took me to the future too. What am I going to tell my own little boy? To draw the line? To be honest, and then get shredded to pieces outside the class by his mates? Will I sweep up the pieces, cello-tape him up and tell him I’m proud of him? Or will I tell him to go by his instincts? To go with the “flow”? To do what he wants to do?

No, I will have to say No. Not once. Not ever.
Because I’m not his pal. I’m his Ma.
Because I first put that pencil into his tiny hand. And now, if I don’t teach him to draw the line, who will?

Friday, March 27, 2009

8 women vs 1 decision

Who said women can’t decide? A blue dress or green? Both ! – that’s a decision, isn’t it? Yesterday, for example, 8 of us women met for lunch and decided on where to have the next lunch. It took us 4 hours – but that’s not the point !

Minutes of the meeting :
-Let’s do Saturday lunch for a friend’s farewell. 2 women going to be stuck in hospital. 1 will be stuck with 2 kids (not even her own). So Saturday lunch is out.
-Saturday dinner? With partners then. 4 for the motion, 3 against, 1 in the loo.
Too much for 1 woman to cook. So eating in is out. Eating out is in.
13 restaurants discussed, 13 excuses for not going to any of them : - Too expensive - Too cheap (waiters are pigs) - Continental – too bland - Andhra – too spicy for kids (Kids? We’re bringing the kids?)
Realise kids are tearing each other apart in the other room. 1 is learning to skate, with another learning to trip him. 2 are trying to sleep on the floor, while the others play hopscotch on them. 3 are fighting over 1 car, while 77 other cars lie close by. 2 are trying to pull the fish out of the fish tank.
Eating IN is back in. Too much for 1 woman to cook. So who cooks what? (The last time we spent 3 hours discussing a picnic and who would bring what, and then 3 seconds the next day canceling it all).
EMERGENCY BREAK : 1 kid locks himself into a room. 35 minutes spent with everyone trying to explain to him how to open it. 11 minutes spent planning to climb the balcony to the window sill to the room – to find the kid is already out.
55 minutes spent discussing how we cannot decide on anything.
Monday lunch is now in.
Phew ! Finally ! 3 hours, 59 seconds !!!
The girl to be farewelled walks in. She cannot come for Monday lunch. We cannot have a farewell without the girl to be farewelled.
Back to the beginning.

Learning : S tells me it takes 8 men (or 80) exactly .33 seconds to decide on where to have lunch. There is only 1 criterion. There has to be beer.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Love goes around - and around

6 years ago, I opened an anniversary gift from Shilpa, to find a poisonously-pink scented candle, with a huge LOVE carved into it. I grimaced in pain, put on my dark glasses and hid it on the top shelf (don’t deny you have one) – to give the gift you’re never going to use – to someone else who’s never going to use it.
When Riyah, an arty-party-pink-candle person insisted I come for her kitty party, I gave her the LOVE candle as a sign of protest. (She’s been giving me sly smiles ever since). Riyah then gave it to her boyfriend as a sign of their eternal love. He left her next month, and gave it to his new girlfriend Alia, as a sign of their eternal love. Alia put it on her grand-aunt’s grave, hoping they’d bury it too.
But the priest took a liking to it and took it back. He gave it to an Australian called Barry for a reason no one knows (or dares guess at). Barry took it back to Australia and gave it to Sam as a sign of Indian Tribal Art. Sam flung it out of his back window. Vanessa D’Cruz, who was Sam’s neighbour, found it flying at her while she was de-worming her plants, and saw it as a sign from God. She took it back to Goa on her next trip back to India, and gave it to Sr. Nobilia as a sign of Australian Tribal Art.
Sr. Nobilia put it on the altar, and Cindy stole it (this part of the story is not proven, since Cindy denies it). But Cindy, who wanted to make it in Bollywood, gave it to Kareena Kapoor’s make-up assistant who was doing a shoot in Goa. Who gave it to his wife’s younger sister, Meera, as a sign of his love. Meera hated him and the candle. She left it in a fish market.
OK, so here the story got lost… but last week, I met Tanya, whose hair I once put chewing gum on. Tanya tells me all’s forgiven, and she’s taken days to make me something special. It smells of fish and graveyards. And there it is…in all its pinkness - the LOVE candle.
Learning : Please don’t send me candles. Please don’t send me invites to kitty parties. Please don’t send me junk mails. And please do send this junk mail pink candle story to atleast 43,118 people you know immediately, and wait for a miracle to happen tomorrow

Friday, March 20, 2009

Look Ma, 10 hands !

“My son can count 1 to 100 – backwards – in Latin,” said 1 proud mom in the park.
My son thinks Latin is the next action hero. I gotta do something NOW… so I dashed around picking up info on how to make my kid into Superkid. Surprise – there are tons of classes offering to turn Neel into Tiger-Bill-Gates-Barrack-Obama-Woods !

Where I live, every kid goes to math genius class, soccer genius class, Art genius class, reading story class (takes a genius to start a class for that), music genius class…. So I enrolled my 4 year old in music, badminton, swimming and dance class – all of which he lasted a week in.

Anyways, so we’re going to have, in the next 10 years, every child who is brilliant, comes 1st in class, is a tennis pro, a swimming champ, wins the Oscar, Nobel and Pulitzer together, plays 6 instruments, speaks 16 languages, and builds a submarine with his bare hands, while doing backward somersaults on the trapeze bar.
Or they’re gonna land up to be very bad losers (because no one wants to come 2nd !). And pick up a gun and shoot everyone who’s done better than them.

Learning : So – me ! I’m going to find something my son is really bad at, and then train him to do even worse. We’ve all gotta learn to come last – I did in the marathon – even after taking a taxi half-way ! He’s going to land up as a loser-hippie-rock n roller on the beach (hmm – should I send him to Rock music class?)

Monday, March 16, 2009

I've got less friends than you on Facebook

I just got a ‘friend invitation’ from someone I don’t know on Facebook who has 872 friends. Some collection huh? Beats my mom’s collection of old newspaper recipes since 1958.
Anyway, I’m sorry, it’s a no. I’m not a collector’s item – but I could put you onto my Ma, if you’d like.

So here’s a list of my own :

If you’re my friend, you gotta earn it, dude (And never call me that) ! Meet over a coupla coffees (and spare me the lecture on my 3 sugars), have a few earth-shattering fights (over an issue you can’t even spell when you’re sober), rush me to hospital after bad prawn curry with me puking all over the back seat of your car, sock someone in the eye because he called me a bad word (something only you can do!), let me fix you up with a blind date and threaten to kill me later.

Do 872 people actually know your deepest darkest fears, like the chicken kabab on your plate may suddenly come to life?

When I change my status line on Facebook, only those who know me will say “Jane has now changed her status to “Jane is a raving lunatic” but hey- isn’t that what she always was?”

My apologies to the 872 – or now 871er ! Put it down to a bad case of Sour Grapes, ok?
And hellooooooo there to my good many good friends on Facebook, and out of it. And a few who are almost there! But first I’ve got to find out if they’re worthy – or rather if the backseat of their car is puke-worthy !

Friday, March 13, 2009

Do the Fetness Quiz now

I’m not fat, and definitely not fit. Somewhere in between...fet?
See – being Fet is gonna be the latest craze, and remember you heard it first from ME.

1. Fet is looking at this skinny girl in skinny jeans, with a skinny IQ walking past, and sucking in your belly – and then letting it out with a whooooooosh, that almost blows her away like a leaf – sorry, skinny leaf. 25 points !!!

2. Fet is promising to exercise everyday. Before I can swim, I need to exercise to wear that swimsuit. Before I can do yoga, I need to buy a mat. Before I can go for a walk, I need to pull my jogging shoes out of mothballs. So drive around instead… it’s a lot of stress – which in turn, burns calories. 18 points !!!

3. Fet is getting your lingo right. You have child-bearing hips (not called a big butt) - 20 points. Delicious curves (not bulges) that drive men in Cosmo crazy – 25 points. You have muscles (not called fat arms) (all the better to smack them with, if they’re looking at Ms Skinny). 142 points !!!

Scoring : Now add up all your points. If you’re over 3 points, you’re very Fet - go treat yourself to a hot chocolate fudge. If you’re over 4 points, you’re a Fetness guru - buy yourself a pair of jogging shoes and put them into mothballs.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Supper Theatre

Little Tommy Tucker sang for his supper. Lucky dude! I need to dance a jig, bribe, wheedle, and run negotiations that would make a Trade Union Leader proud.

“Dinner’s Ready !” (Me)
Neel : Why?
Me : It’s Yum spinach and corn
Neel : Why ? (Neel’s reaction to anything not Pizza)
Me : Because it will give you muscles like Popeye
Neel : Why ? I wanna look like Ben 10’s aliens (one of whom has Four Arms, and another a Crocodile Head)
Me : Nothing I cook will ever make you look like that !
Neel : So let’s order Pizza !

Next is Nik’s turn. I spend 45 minutes stuffing his face. It’s like stuffing cotton into a pillow. Nik never chews. Nik never swallows. His mouth keeps getting fuller, till the hi-tech machinery inside his mouth churns all the accumulated food into a looooooong noodle which he spits out at the nearest impossible-to-clean surface.

My dog Marco pops an eyebrow up at his dinner bowl with a Where’s-the-pizza,-Woman? Look and goes back to licking his balls, which he thinks are tons tastier.

By the time, it’s all over, I’m boiling and my own dinner’s cold. “I’m going to bed hungry,” I announce, expecting everyone to melt with sympathy.
“That’s not fair. Why can’t I do that?” – from Neel.

Thank God for S, who is a human vacuum cleaner and eats everything that’s left over. He is one of those gifted persons who eats like he’s pregnant but still looks like a noodle (that Nik spat out).

Thursday, March 5, 2009

When did you become an Aunt?

I was 24, and sprinting across the playground to my cousin’s place, when I heard the words that made me turn around in slow-mo.
“Auntie, pass the ball !”
Auntie? Who Me? Noooo !
I kicked their dratted ball right even further away, right over the wall, and ran to the mirror.
No grey hairs, butt’s in shape, or is it? … Auntie? Reallllly ?! I decided to start kickboxing classes immediately. (kick-butt-boxing classes – multiple puns intended).

My husband, before he became my husband, that is, got his first ‘uncle’ when he was a bachelor on his first job. At a dinner at his boss’ house, the boss’ pretty young 18-year-old pranced in…and S got his hopes a-soaring.
The Boss then introduced them “This is Manya. Manya, say Hello to this UNCLE.”

One day, you’re a nose-ringed, dirty-jeaned rebellious teen, and the next day, you’re the one being rebelled against. It’s a fine line…the next fine line’s called a wrinkle.

Learning : Years later, when my first-born first called me “Mama”, I yahoooed with joy. Why do I love being called Mama, but break into red spots at ‘Auntie’?

Friday, February 27, 2009

To the real hero of Slumdog M

And the Oscar kept going to Slumdog Millionaire.

Everyone got what they wanted. Anil Kapoor got photographed with the gold nude in his hand. Freida Pinto got a Hollywood agent. Dev Patel got Freida Pinto. And they all lived happily ever after as “good friends”.

It’s got something for everyone. Westerners want to see the slums. My kid wants to see the dog. We all want to see a story where a poor boy gets rich and gets the girl… but hey, isn’t that what every other Hindi film is about? What’s so great about….

…and then Rahman goes up on stage. And I have no more Q. or A. Just a big lump in my throat. Is this the best movie ever made? I don’t know. Is this the best song he’s ever made? I don’t care. If a boy with not much in his pocket but big dreams in his eyes, can today stand up with an Oscar in his hand… then the story’s turned out right.

It’s easy for me to be funny, or cynical, or droll. But it takes a moment like this to make me proud. So proud.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

when santa won't behave

Today was Neel’s first ever big school Annual Day, and he had ONE whole line to say on stage. For that, his father took half day leave from office, (this is a man who took his laptop into hospital for his own disc surgery) and his mother (me, for the uninitiated) almost collapsed.

I was assigned a vegetable carving of Santa Claus, for which I spent the last 3 months searching for a piece of ginger shaped like a reindeer. Every veggie vendor in town thinks I’m trying to hit on him, the time I’ve spent.

Finally, my friend Goury found 1 ginger reindeer which kept swooning, and needed critical care bandaging with cello tape to stay up. The other reindeer, because of condensation, stood in a puddle of water, which looked like it had peed on the school project. Santa – a brinjal painted red (and try painting a slimy brinjal red – it looks like you've stabbed Santa and he's bleeding!) kept falling off his sleigh, which was a pear balanced on 2 drunk green beans. To add to the Christmas debacle, there were cauliflower florets supposed to act like snow, which sadly lacked these acting talents, and oblivious of their great role in the Annual Day, rolled all over the school steps.

The teacher, thankfully, was very nice, and took in the tired vegetables, and the exhausted mom, with a smile.

Neel’s one line went off brilliantly. He saw us off stage, and smiled and waved from on stage. I smiled back, though I was so tired, my eyes criss-crossed, and I might have waved at the vegetable display instead. But it still beat my Santa brinjal, whose eyes had fallen into his sleigh by then.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hair and the City

It’s a known fact that women feeling lousy and wanting to feel better, go cut their hair, then hate their hair cuts and feel more lousy.
It is also a known fact that men do not know this known fact.
So it was I came home yesterday with short hair and a long face.
“Why do you cut your hair if you hate it so much ?” asks S, proving my theory on men, women and known facts right. (Men cut their hair whenever it tickles their ears, or a new female employee joins, and no one ever notices it – not the female employee, the man, or even his barber.)
Other reactions to my haircuts are dramatic - “Hummm”, “Achooo!” and “Wow, look at your nice pink shirt.”
Hoping to cash in on my 4 year old son’s love for his mom, I ask “Neel, how is my haircut?”
“One side is longer than the other, “ (ignorant man-in-waiting !)
“Well,” I explain, “this style is in. Don’t you see the women in Sex and the City?”
“No,” says Neel, “you don’t let me see it. What’s Sex ?”

Today’s talk has not gone well. Today's haircut has not gone well. I think I should forget today, and wake up tomorrow and make some drastic change to make me feel New and Better…. Like cut my hair?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Happy Val Day, Mr Mutalik

Mutalik saying Love is imported from the West, and sending him pink panties (also imported from the West) must rate among the Valentine Day’s Funniest Evers. But the award goes to …

One Valentine’s Day, I met an old buddy with his new wife – you know the kind of shoulder-punching, bhutta-on-the-road-eating guy who makes a great friend.

“Don’t worry,” he’s saying, “I’ve told my wife about us.”
Us ? There was an “us” ? While I was eating pani puri (or bhutta) on the road, he was building us a family, kids, house with a garden and plumbing problems?
“She also knows about our break-up,” he added.
“errrr…. When did we break up? “ I had to ask. Was I too busy drinking roadside tea (ok ok bhutta) to notice we were breaking up?
Now, wife-status simpers. “Oh, you’re still in denial! He told me about your break-up, tantrums and final mental breakdown.”

After they left, I sat down to raise a Valentine’s Day toast to myself, to the grand romance and tragic end of a relationship I didn’t even know I’d had.

Learning : Eating kulfi (yes, yes, bhutta!) on the road is a culture imported from the West, and will therefore, lead to divorce and gastroenteritis.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Roughing it out is NOT in

For the LAST TIME, I told the smug snooty HR-girl-with-a-foreign-degree, book me into a hotel with a heated swimming pool, or I AM NOT TRAVELLING! She cursed in Scandinarabic and scuttled away.

Flashback movie style to my backpacking college days: I once slept all night on a railway platform at some unheard-of station in Rajasthan. The trains too hadn’t heard of it, because no train stopped there for hours on end, and when one did, we had to hang on to the closed door of a running train (told you it was movie style) for a coupla minutes.

Next shot : We’re in this flea-bag hotel in Sikkim, where the room rate was so low, till we realized it was sponsored by the long queue outside our bathroom window, with tickets being sold for a peep-in.

Next shot : We’re in a little car in breath-taking mountainside, with my head hung outside, hair trailing the dust, coughing, gasping, puking my insides out. Breath taken all right!

Hot meals used to mean pulling a leech off my leg, boiling it and eating it…(leeches are rich in Vitamin Something). And Room Service meant someone coming into my room to chase a rat away at 2 a.m. while I jumped up and down on the bed screaming. Travel Insurance : I once kept my boots on for 7 days and 7 nights out of fear that someone would rob them. Someone did – on the 8th day.

So the HR girl came whimpering back, with the heated pool hotel. It has Continental and Indian restaurants, she offered. NO CHINESE? I growled, I can’t be expected to stay in a place like that !
(After all, eating live leeches is definitely Chinese cuisine, wouldn’t you agree?)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Guns or Roses ?

A neighbour said she didn’t let her son touch a toy gun.
I came home to find Neel and Nikash shooting at each other, rolling over, playing dead, with hands plunged into gory imaginary blood wounds, and tongues grotesquely stuck out, eyes rolling. The toy guns, knives, ropes were OUT !

S came home to find his son surrounded by a PINK teaset, dolls and teddy bears. The dolls were OUT !

Out went Ben-10 and his aliens, OUT went the sharp toys kids under 3 “may swallow”, out went the rockets, gum, toy snakes, poisonous paints …

Meanwhile, in the last year, my sons have swallowed a bee, then a red crayon, jumped from a plain ole sofa and twisted an ankle, fallen off a SAFE rockinghorse and cracked a head, fallen off a child cycle and torn a ear ! One almost beheaded the other with an ABC book. I have come to the conclusion they can turn cotton balls into life-threatening missiles.

Learning : Children who play with guns don’t grow up into terrorists. 15 years back a kid who played with guns grew up into Abhinav Bindra, and won an Olympic Gold, or they turn into army cadets. It’s never what you put into their hands that shapes their life. It's what you put into their heads.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The TV broke

One day the TV sent some ziggy zaggy beams, beeps and coded high-secret spy signals to Outer Space, and then died.
I did a jig – finally our family could TALK.
S came home from office, read the newspaper and then read it backwards, and then we spoke for 1.33 seconds till his office called for 2 hours.
Neel gave a version of Bob Marley’s “No TV, No Eat”.
Nik pushed the TV buttons, the remote buttons, my cell phone buttons, my shirt buttons, and then threw the remote control at Neel.
That started a full-fledged battle/ chase and the dog joined in, all screeching.

The neighbours called up to say “Turn your TV volume down”.
I went upstairs and TALKED. To the TV repair centre, and begged them to come home immediately.

Learning : Contrary to what child specialists say – TV is brilliant for family bonding. The best conversations in our house have been with the TV on full volume.
S : Neel, come and watch Van Persie kick
Neel : I can kick better
Nik : Nicky kicky

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

My baby no more

When he was 2, I went : “Don’t cry ! Don’t be such a baby !”
When he was 3, I said : “Don’t hit your little brother, he’s a baby !”
When he was 4, HE said : “Don’t kiss me in front of my friends. I’m not a baby !”

Now, he’s not yet 5, but he’s too old to be seen with “Cute stuff” on his clothes. He’s too old for me to hold his hand. He’s too old to drink from a sipper. He’s too old to be given stuffed toys.

But sometimes of a night, on a day when nothing’s gone right – when the troubles of being a “big little small boy” hit him hard, he’s game for a little cuddle. Just when no one’s looking, you understand. Just me and him; and the complexities and confusions and scraped knees and bullies of the playground forgotten.

Because being almost 5 is a big big burden. He’s not a baby any more. But he’ll always be mine.

Monday, February 2, 2009

yes, I can't cook

I was introduced as a young bride, “pretty, yes, intelligent, yes…. But…….”
In a whisper “SHE CAN’T COOK !”

I met some distant (and after this meeting, even more distant) relatives, who said
(compliment) : Wow, you’re looking so slim after all these years.
(not-so-compliment) : It must be because you can’t cook.

I’ve thought of learning. I’ve bought half the recipe books ever published.
And then I’ve realized I’m not learning to cook.
I’m learning to give in. To what every woman “must know”.

So I’m publishing it. I have a personality flaw. I had a deprived upbringing.
I learnt Shakespeare, to fly kites, to skate, to swim, to write a play, the rules of boxing.
But I never learnt to cook.
I am the only person I know who can burn water. It takes me 20 minutes to make the Maggi 2-minute noodles. And it still tastes raw.

Learning :
I can’t spend hours in the kitchen making a dish to make my guests go orgasmic.
Instead, I spend the evening chatting with them –about things that really matter. Like the food we’re going to order in.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Birthday Blues

This is a season of weddings and birthdays and babies being born all over the place – really, one was born in a library! Thankfully though I don’t know that one. This is about all the people we do know and like well enough to supply with gifts.
S has predicted that we will be the first family to go bankrupt because of birthdays and birthday presents.
The average child’s birthday party consists of invitation cards (in theme), decorations (in theme), return gifts (in theme), an EVENT MANAGER (no more paper cut-outs of Pin-The-Tail-on-The Donkey), a tattoo artist, a magician. These are mandatories – more mandatory than the birthday kid himself.
So your little invitee walks in and says “Happy Birthday, Adi, where’s the tattoo artist? Can he tattoo Ben10 fighting Spiderman on my arm? He can’t? ok Give me my gift back – and my return gift.”
The next one walks in, looks at the magician and says “This guy was at Ria’s party. He can only pull out rabbits, not elephants from his hat. Give me back my gift.” And so on…..

Learning : So we should all ban birthday parties, and go back to Pin-the-tail-on-the Donkey. Or, when your lil 4 year-old comes to you with jam on his face and cake on his mind, do what we do. Sell your car, and go (by bus) to buy yet another birthday gift.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Magnetic Man

And then a long lost school friend who I’ve just Facebooked, asks me to describe the man I married. Wasn’t the best of times, since I’d had a long silent sulk this morning, which he didn’t even notice. Anyways, after chewing on my mouse (pencil/ pen/ nails – it’s just a figure of speech ok?) I got that one word to describe him !
“Magnetic”. A magnetic personality.
I mean, everything electronic just flies at him.
As soon as he enters the door, after a whole day at office, for example, the remote control flies into his hand. His feet are then drawn to the television, and his body responds immediately to gravity and attains a horizontal position, from which it is only coaxed out when the beer can flies once again into his hand.
At times like this, I resist the temptation to throw the frying pan at him. After all, it’s metal, isn’t it? It should go and meet the middle of his eyebrows on its own. Hardly my fault ! He’s magnetic !

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The flag

We bought 3 little flags the night before Republic Day.
1 Re each. The price that patriotism is selling at.

We woke early in the morning, and went to Cubbon Park.
The boys played football, I fell into a dirty stream, the dog tried his best to pick fights with every stray dog, and Neel had to be pulled off the fence of the goose enclosure.
I took my baby for the building Flag Hoisting – and eyed the free coffee, that never came my way. While the children were belting out a re-mix of Vande Mataram, we were talking about allergies.
Later that day, we went shopping (great Sales in town), ate, did a lot of book browsing, and I got food poisoning, and ended the day throwing up the entire contents of my mile-long intestines (And a good part of the intestines too).
All in all, a nice full day, I’d say.
Before getting into bed, I picked up my shopping bags, and found something lying squashed under them.
The flags.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Broken Bones

My little boys are definitely competitive.
Neel fractured his arm when he was 4. Nik has sprained his foot before he turned 2.
I have so many XRays of them both, that I could set up a whole Spooky House Gallery.
Oh that’s ok, says Savio, their cousin. I’ve got 8 stitches on my face. Great ! A new high for them to aim for.
The worst part ? They don’t learn.
Each fall from the table, my BP does a pole vault. But little Nik bawls his head off, wipes his snotty nose, and goes right upto the table, and jumps again. And falls again. And bawls again. On and on, till their Dad comes home to see me crying.
Are you hurt? He asks
No, but Nik is.
Is that why he’s crying?
No, that’s because I spanked him.
S sits down on that one… Let me get this straight. He hurt himself, so you hurt him some more, so he’d cry, so you’d cry.
Something like that… fast learner, this man !

Learning from today :
Kids need to jump. They need to fall. They need to learn. I need to learn that they won’t learn. I also need to know that the only permanent scars will be those worry lines on my face !