Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Not now, I'm busy

Busy is one of those things that wax and wane – like the moon – or like the water content in your body – which bloats just when you want to show your midriff off.

Back to Busy however – which is just as traitorous. An undependable, varying, dissatisfied thing – this busy is. Everyone is busy. Always. Gmail offers status warnings that you are busy. All through the day and night – for 7 months in a row. (Can you be busy sleeping?) Your phone allows you to set a busy tone. Anyone you call seems so so busy, even if they proceed then to bitch about their boss for the next 45 minutes.

I used to be busy. I hated it. I had 2 kids under the age of 3, and I sleep-walked at 60 km per hour – through nappy-changing and feeding and rocking someone to sleep. Someone except me. I ate while running up the stairs to fetch a bottle, and I used the loo while reading a story book aloud to the brawlers outside. Busy! Exhausted and irritable. That’s what busy does to me.

Then the kids grew up and went to school. And I’d huffed off my job. So there was a time when I got just the opposite of busy. And I hated it. I called friends to ask about their new haircuts, and I offered to write brochures free for any NGO who sneezed in my direction. I read 3 library books a week, blogged with a vengeance, facebooked with a greater vengeance, and wrote a whole book.

It worked. I’m busy again. And I hate it. I’m too busy to have coffee with all those friends I begged to go out with, and too busy to cut my hair. And too busy to go to a meeting for a new project. And too busy to spend time writing this blog. I hate it.

Where’s the middle path, huh? Busy is one of those selfish, I-want-all-or-nothing creatures. Busy must be male!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

'That' spoilt kid

I’d see that kid in the restaurant howling, rolling on the floor or putting all the sauces into the jug of water, and I’d think – Phew, what a spoilt kid that is! Can’t those parents get him into shape? That is – until Saturday. Which was a ground-breaking (and hide underground), life-changing (and crumbling), face-reddening Saturday.

I faced my first tantrum from Niks. And all over a choco lollipop that his brother got which he wanted.  And to my horror – all of a sudden, I had a 4 1/2 year old mass of pouring tears, sobs at a volume louder than the local loudspeaker’s, and a non-stop series of heart-wrenching “Mama, pleeeeease, pleeeeeease!” Aargh!

In the middle of a public space. These are the looks I got:

  1. What a hard-hearted mom. Can’t she give the kid what he wants?
  2. What a useless mom. Can’t she give him a slap?
  3. Thank God that’s not my kid!
  4. Should I call the child services? Is she kidnapping that kid?

A kind looking lady came up with a wrapped toffee as a peace offering to Niks. He howled louder, while I barked at her to back off.

Finally, like a little cloud, he exhausted his water supplies. The tear ducts ran dry. Red-nosed, he ended his hunger strike, and vehement demands, and went back to eating what he had been given, and in a minute or 2, forgot all about it, and began to laugh uproariously at some joke the other kids cracked!

Sigh! If only all hunger strikes could end so amicably!

Learning : Niks may or may not have learnt his lesson. But I have learnt mine. ‘That’ spoilt kid? People in glass houses should never throw stones. In fact, what are people with 4 ½ year old kids doing in the glass houses in the first place?

Friday, November 18, 2011

the baby that killed me

News articles so far I have seen about Aishwarya Rai:

-          She  dumped Vivek Oberoi and Salman Khan

-          She said Yes to the Bacchan baccha on a flight (where she opted for veg meal with tea)

-          She is pregnant

-          No, she is not pregnant

-          She can never get pregnant

-          She is suing all newspapers that said she was pregnant

-          She is pregnant

-          She is wearing kolhapuri chappals

-          She is wearing green on her baby shower

-          She is having a baby on 11.11.11

-          She is not having a baby on 11.11.11

-          She is not too posh to push. Natural birthing it is.

-          She is going into labour.

(SO AM I! I’m in pain. I’ve never been happier to see someone go into labour – and I do hope she has a short one because I so want her to get off the news!)

News articles that have been pushed to page 2 or 22 because of this:

-          World on brink of war. No more oil reserves. Petrol dried up. Temperature’s rising. Another Tsunami expected. Incurable virus spreading.

Somewhere, when I’m taking my last dying gasp of breath, Hindi-movie style, the doc will tell me, “But why didn’t you prepare yourself? Everyone else knows - About the tsunamis and wars and viruses that are now killing you!”

“Are you crazy?” I will reply. “Don’t you ever read the news?”

Sunday, October 23, 2011

My exciting toes

I’ve got exciting toes. So do you. If you keep staring at them, you’ll see great and wonderful things happening there. The middle toe is leaning towards the little one, but the big toe is acting pricey!

What yoink, you say. What next? Stare at my toes? I don’t have the time to do that – you, Jandy, have the time to stare at your toes and blog and stuff, but me ...

And yet, growing up gives us all this fascination with our toes. In a waiting room, we stare at them. While walking, we stare at them. And in an escalator – whoa – we do a PhD in the toe-staring thing. Aha! Got it now, didja?

The toe-staring is a grown-up thing to avoid eye-contact. At any cost!
It would be strange really, if while walking around my neighbourhood, I looked at everyone in the eye – I mean I know everyone – the grocer, the housekeeping staff, the security men, the neighbourhood layabouts, the neighbour’s aunt. But oh no, it’s so much more polite to just pretend that though we see each other 44 times a month, we don’t know each other. We don’t really want to wish each other here. Or start a conversation, phew! That would take forever out of our busy schedules. So what do we do instead? We spend our time looking down at those mesmerizing toes of ours.

Last year, a young Swedish couple moved into our building complex. Cute young guy passed me one morning while I walked Marco, and sent me a cheerful : “G’morning!” I frowned at his effrontery, and stared at my toes and even more intensely - at Marco’s toes. The guy learnt quick. He grew up? The other morning, I passed him, and nodded, ‘Hello!’ He hurried on, refusing to wish me or even look at me. He was absolutely spell-bound by his hurriedly moving toes.
And of course, we teach our kids this toe-staring even before we teach them their geography.
At  lunch with a friend, and her lil daughter...  the next table sported 4 young lasses – with pierced noses and weird chains and plastic flowers in their hair. While we tried hard to look at them just from behind our menus (they were so funky!), lil Ro went right up and did a stare-a-thon at them for 5 full minutes. The young ladies did NOT stare back, oh no. They stared instead at their toes, while we tried to entice Ro back to our table to school her properly.

When Neel was 3 years old, a nice blonde lady got him onto her lap. Neel kept staring at her silver blonde hair, remembering what he was taught in school, then finally pointed to her head, “Old”, he said, while I blushed beetroot and – ya, right, - stared at my god-sent rescue team – my good ole toes!

Friday, October 14, 2011


Photography, when it first made an appearance, was rejected as the Devil’s Work, because a photo clicked of you was supposed to steal your soul.
Times have changed, haven’t they? Photographs are clicked everywhere – roadsides, beaches, workstations – even at ATMs and airports – and right here, while I sit and clack away – my webcam keeps clicking.
And anyway – who’s even got a soul left to steal still?

Makes me think about the way I’ve been posing for pix. Over the years. I see black n whites carefully preserved in moth-eaten frames of me as a toddler, peering under the table at the wedding reception. Who cares about looking at the camera, when the half-eaten cake underneath is way more inviting!
Next, the convent school stage – neatly ironed girls in rows. ‘Knees together!’  All of us outdoing each other in solemn frowns.

Teen pix swing the other way. Way Way – the other way. Wild clothes, wild parties, hairstyles that belong to the Ripley’s Believe it or Not – and enough embarrassments for the rest of my life.

Somewhere, along the line, I learn to smile for the camera. Demure or seemingly delighted – that there was going to be an image of me captured on some server somewhere in the world.  The minute the ‘Look here’ was sounded, my lips would bare, teeth would stretch, head would tilt.
Click would go the camera, flash would go the flash. And here comes my pic. One eye shut. Click again. Head half cut off. Click once more please. Teeth look like jaguar’s. once more. Oops, cleavage showing. Re-click. Red eyes. Click again please.
No one’s got that one perfect pic of themselves. The truth: We all think we look much better than those photographs of ours do.  I know I do. I mean, is one side of my nose really fatter than the other? C’mon, click again. Please. Just once more!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Your turn to talk

Ok – so here’s the truth. Most of it. I stopped blogging because it seemed like a one-way mirror. Only a coupla comments - when Google would inform me there were over a 100 page views. Why does everyone just read but NOT talk back to me, I’d think? In fact, I started blogging to actually start bitching – y’know – share impolite ideas about dysfunctional things.

In real life, here are my conversational peaks:

Ma (reading newspaper): Do you know that not having breakfast causes duodenal ulcers?
Me: I’m not hungry so early in the morning.
Ma: It says here that 56% of people who do not eat breakfast live 3.2 years less than others.

Later, Me to Neel: Finish your food. You’ll get duodenal ulcers.
Niks: I too want them. It’s not fair. Neel gets everything!

Still later (9 pm) – Me to S, who’s surfing channels: I have to tell you something important.
S: No! How can they not be showing EPL?
Me: What’s wrong with you? I’m talking of something important.
S: What’s wrong with our cable operator? Let me call him.
Me: (At a volume rated 7.8 on the Richter scale)NO! Listen to ME! I want to have a conversation.
S (startled): Oh! What about?
Me: er...
S: Well?
Me: Do you know that not eating on time gives you duodenal ulcers?

And that’s why I blog. Hoping to have some more meaningful topics covered out here. And hoping YOU WILL REPLY !


Stuck in a traffic jam. And all of a sudden, the radio began to play Sting’s ‘Fields of Gold’. Heard it after a long time. And then I realised – you know what I haven’t done for a long time? Blogged... So here I am. Thanks to all of you who’ve been patiently logging in – and those who’ve been impatiently sending me rude reminders.

The traffic jam just after Hosmat hospital – nothing moving. I am stuck between a bus on my left, with a man who is chewing paan and spitting it out of his window and narrowly missing my left arm each time. And in front is a leery lout on a bike, who’s been staring at his rear-view mirror. To my right, however, is a bike, where there is ACTION happening...

The girl has been hanging on to the guy, talking into his ear. ‘And she then told him to go get a life and then he told her she had no business to talk of his life when her life... and then she told her to get out of his life... and she told him to stay away from her...’ And suddenly, the guy takes off his helmet, turns around and says, ‘What?’

The girl gets off the bike, eyes blazing, and says, ‘You haven’t heard a word I’ve been saying? You never ever listen to me. It’s off! I’m going.’

And then, to the tune of Sting crooning, the blinking lights turn green, and the traffic begins to move. Rotten timing. The paan-chewer, the rear-view-mirror leerer and me – we’ll never know how the Action ended.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

it WAS me

I’m working on something. It’s working too. A bit.

See – I used to take everything personally. Like the planet was whirring out of orbit just to make it a lil tough for me to – say – balance that coffee on my knee. So if it spilt, it was – hey, Gravity Sucks! Y’know?

And say, if you dropped the coffee, I’d say – Hey, you dropped the coffee, haha. But if I dropped the coffee, I’d say – Ugh, the coffee fell. Like the coffee cup grew hands and pitched itself over the saucer – just to make my day a little lousier.

So now, I’m changing the way I see life. Like that signal has not turned red JUST when I reached it because it knew deep down inside its metal heart that I was driving up. Nope. It’s not Fate either. Nor the planets or stars. None of the usual suspects, oh no. It was because I planned it down to the last micro-minute. And I am naturally late. And this perfectly normal signal (with its evil metal heart) is not to blame. Though it has a red eye that’s taking longer than usual to turn green. Grrr.

Working on it, working on it. So, the next time something goes wrong. Say some idiot phones at midnight on a wrong number, I’m going to say – hey, not your fault you dialed wrong, you perfectly normal intellectually-challenged soul with a finger too fat to hit the right keys. It’s because it’s my fault. I bought the wrong phone. I got the wrong number. I have wrongly kept my phone under my pillow at night. I am wrongly sleeping at midnight when I should be awake waiting for wrong calls. Yup, my fault.

As I said, working on it…. Working on it.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Lizard of Oz

We had the kind of dream holiday in Australia, where we wanted to throw out the clocks. But Time, with its usual arrogance, kept ticking away. And in the last few days, we had to pack our bags.

How do you pack a memory? Should I take a handful of sand from the quaint Hillary’s Quay? Or a handful of kangaroo feed from the Wildlife pack, where we walked with the roos? Or something unbelievably cute like Dinosaur cookie cutters from one of those grand malls?

Should I pack a lil bit of Mary Anne’s delicious cooking? Or a bubble from the boys’ much loved bubble bath? Or a bunch of grapes that Greg’s growing wild in his backyard? Or a lopsided non-round non-foot Aussie football?

We got bags full of stuff of course, a lil something for everyone, and hordes of pix lovingly put together by Greg.

And then Mary Anne got me the lizard.

He’s silver and shiny, and covered with rhine stones, and he has all-knowing glassy eyes. I fell in love with the lizard. And planted a kiss on his cold sparkling head. Maybe, like a frog, he would turn into a prince?

But something even more magical happened. He turned into nothing. But he turned me into something different. I became more relaxed, a little wiser (or a little more silly), more grateful for just wide blue skies and purple grapes and hugs.

He made me realize that it’s not the things I saw that made me happy, but the people. And I can’t pack them back in my bags of course.

But if you’re really nice to me and leave me some nice comments out here, I’ll lend you my Lizard. And let him work his magic on you too.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Packin my bags

So, I’ve been shouting from the rooftops (that’s probably why the pigeons have stayed away) that we’re off to the Land Down Under. Tonight. Really. Yippee. Yay. But …

Packing is a fine art (which I don’t possess). A sign of an organized mind (which I don’t possess). For a trip of 17 days, I’ve thought about packing for a month earlier. I’ve put in clothes, and pulled out the clothes I put in, then had a panic attack about the weather there, and bought new clothes for the kids, then had a panic attack about my own wardrobe and pulled out everything I packed once more.

It’s the Easter week, says Ma, so put in good formals for church. Good formals go in.

You going to Australia, says my neighbour. Everyone wears shorts there. Good formals come out.

Gonna be chill nights, says my Bhabhi. Woollens go in….

But hot sunny days. Woollens come out and Tees go in.

No meat products allowed in through Customs. Out come the prawn pickles. They have oiled up my gifts. Rush out and buy new gifts. Suitcase smells like a haus-frau’s kitchen.

Swimwear, plus rainwear. Shoes or sandals? Or keds? The kids meds take up half a suitcase. Then one of them goes and gets loosies 4 days before we leave, (totally uncaring child), so I have to yank out everything and pull the med case out again.

Packed their toothpastes too yesterday, so let them go 2 days with gooey teeth. And where, asks Ma, are her specs? Ooops, right at the bottom of the case, wedged in to the lingerie.

So, now we’ve got empty suitcases, and a pile of stuff to be packed piled up in the middle of the TV room floor. The dog is running around with the prawn-smelling lingerie. With exactly 2 hours to leave.

Wottodo? Wottodo? Wottodo? Got it! Ignore it all, open my laptop and start on this blog.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Will (not) Power

Read that some people have addictive personalities – it’s not their fault that they can’t resist booze or nail-biting or shop-lifting or whatever – you can’t blame them. You gotta blame their parents – for birthing them with addictive genes.

I do not smoke or drop names or shop-lift. Which proves that I can really resist any addiction that pops its ugly nose into my life. To test this theory of my iron will power, I decided to put to the test the one thing I adore – chocolates.

Monday: No chocolate all day. Late night, woken up by a kid (mine) who fell off the bed. Went down to drink water – and saw the chocolate slab I had NOT eaten all day. Also saw the time. 1 a.m. It is not today. I have survived today without chocolate. Sat and ate it.

Tuesday: Met a friend for coffee. She wanted to eat a chocolate truffle pastry, but said it’s too fattening so please would I share it? I agreed to help her out. (Also remembered I had eaten a chocolate slab at 1 this morning.)

Wednesday: Had mid-week blues. Internet was down. Took out the store of emergency choc hidden. Ate half of it. Mid-week blues qualify as emergency.

Thursday: Did not eat any chocolate. Drank 3 mugs of hot chocolate. DRANK, did not EAT.

Friday: Thank God it’s Friday. Almost the end of my non-choc week. Gotta celebrate. Ate half a Lindt bar. The other half looks lonely.

Saturday: Been a pretty healthy week, innit? Ate some squares of dark chocolate. Very good for the heart. Very healthy. Ate all the squares finally.

Sunday: Went for a long walk with S. Burnt thousands of calories. Felt faint and weak and thin. Ended up at Corner House and ate a Death by Chocolate. Aptly named. But only to avoid feeling faint and weak and thin.

Learning: I have had one week of resisting chocolate. I cannot. I have an addictive personality. It is not my fault. I blame my parents.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

M.A. Tech

If you think I’m tech-challenged, blame it on my maternal genes. My Ma and Technology are definitely not twins separated at birth.

She talks back to the Voice Recordings from the bank. I overheard her telling the phone voice the other day, “I already pressed ‘2’ – I pressed it 4 times already.”

She once called me in office in the middle of an important meeting to ask me, “The second orange light on the washing machine is now beeping. What should I do?”

She is almost single-handedly responsible for keeping the Indian Postal Service alive – pain-stakingly buying cards and writing long-hand letters and buying stamps etc… and takes it a personal insult if someone sends her an e-card in reply. I’ve offered to write her emails, if she dictates them. Ever-willing to give it a try, she starts her emails with ‘I hope this reaches you on time, and finds you in the best of health.’ (Ma, I object, this will reach instantly, and he was in the best of health when he sent you an email 5 minutes ago, to which you are replying. His health couldn’t have deteriorated rapidly in the last 5 minutes.)

She whacks her DVD player when a DVD gets stuck while playing, and IT STARTS AGAIN.

On second thoughts, she doesn’t really need technology, see. She has an in-built memory chip which remembers the birthdays of all her cousins, nieces and nephews, down to the time they were born (making it impossible for anyone to fake their age). She gets the stains off the kid’s clothes when the washing machine has thrown up its hands in surrender. She bakes better cakes than any auto-timer microwave magic could dream of. And she’s got some patented copyright to make her grandkids feel that they’re the smartest guys around. Now, that’s something that technology hasn’t invented yet.

Ma 1, Tech 0.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Designer genes

Don’t you wish you were born now? Of course, the advantage is that you’d have young pink baby skin, but there’s more to this. You could choose your genes. No kidding. At least, your parents could. The news is going gaga about people who pick out cancer-free babies and boy babies and babies with blue eyes.

If I was born now, I am writing it down in my will (or blog at least) that I demand these genes:

- I want red hair. And I don’t care if Loreal makes it in a bottle. I want it to grow out of my scalp. Because research proves that red haired women make the most money.

- I want to be born with an hourglass figure. At least, I don’t want to be born that way, cos I’d make for a funny looking baby, but to eventually grow up that way. So that no matter how much I eat, or how many babies I produce, my waist snaps back automatically to the circumference of an orange.

- I want to be a child genius, so that I don’t have to waste those years studying, and can immediately play the cello in the London Philharmonic, or become the CEO of IBM, or something that’s equally cool.

- I want them to control my genes so I never have the flu, or dust allergies – and have bones that will never break, and teeth that will never get cavities.

This is getting kinda boring. Designer genes will mean I’d never have an off day from school for being sick, and get pampered by ma’s soup and cheese at home. It means I’ll never have to make the embarrassing mistakes I always do, overeat, grow old with the someone I love, forget my TPin all the time, boil with road rage, bring my kids up the wrong wrong way, or crib about everything that’s going wrong – on this blog.

I think I’ll stick with the genes I have. I’ve suddenly realized they’re designed just fine – not to give me the perfect life, but to have the most fun, while living it.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


‘They’ say we spend a third of our lives asleep. Which third? I’ve taken enormous pains here to clock the life cycle of human sleep.

At this stage, they stay awake the whole night, and fall blissfully asleep at 6 in the morning. Any attempts to wake them will be at your own peril, as new moms discover soon.
Kids: Kids never want to sleep. They treat your entreaty to sleep with major suspicion.
Me: Niks, time to sleep.
Niks: I doesn’t want to. Please I will be a good boy. Please I want to play. Please I doesn’t want to sleep.

Teens: Study/ play computer games/ chat mindlessly online or on phone through half the night, then sleep till afternoon, and demand breakfast at dinner time.

Adults: (I am presupposing here that you consider me one). Adults are all sleep-deprived. New parents walk around like robots, pouring coffee at regular intervals into their mouth, and walking into walls. When their children grow into teens, adults will stay awake all night waiting to hear their kid’s bike engine throb into the driveway after a late night party, after which they will scramble hurriedly into bed, and stay awake wondering whether the kid’s come in alone or not.

This is pure honesty, is my sleep pattern:

11 p.m. Finally Niks crashes out, and I put my weary head onto the pillow.
11.05 p.m. Remember that I left the food out and it will be cockroach-fest, so run downstairs to put it into the fridge.
11.20. Head hits pillow when Marco begins to bark his head off at phantom imaginary cat.
11. 35. Pillow over head, close eyes. Someone begins to sing. Oh, only the TV. Someone has left it on. Walk down to switch it off. It is not my TV. It is the house opposite. Also note strange things happening through the curtains of their window. Takes up 5 minutes more of amused watching. More entertaining than the TV.
11.55. Yippeee! Made it to sleep before midnight.
Midnight: Cell phone shrills. Someone wishes Anjal a Happy Birthday. Assure them I am not Anjal, and it is not my Birthday, and tell them to sue Facebook.
1 a.m. Have spent last 20 minutes staring at Niks asleep and wondering how, at age 3, he can snore so loudly. It is inherited for sure.
1.45 a.m. Finally. Good Night.
2 a.m. Alarm begins to screech. S has a football match to watch in the middle of the night.
Give up and spend till 5 am. Reading in the lamplight.

At 5 am, fall asleep. Do you see what’s happening here? The sleep cycle is a CYCLE indeed. I have regressed, in adulthood to baby sleep patterns.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Present Tense!

So I had to buy a present for a 10-year old boy. Now, I don’t have a 10-year-old boy, and I was never a 10-year-old boy myself, so you can imagine how clueless I felt. And how stressed out. I mean, what does a 10-year-old boy even like?
This is what I ended up buying the boy.

I picked up a Hardy Boys book, then at home, realized that was probably the Dark Ages to him. So, the next morning, I got a top (also Dark Ages) – now it’s called a Bay Blade. Then I thought that looked too small as a gift. So, I bought him a toy rifle. Promoting violence! Oh no! In desperation, on the way to the party, I bought him a TShirt, which later looked too small and a glow in the dark bedsheet, which may or may not glow in the dark later that night. So, bearing 5 wrapped gifts, I drove my kids to the party- and finally slipped the Mother a larger-than-she deserved currency note, telling her to please buy her 10-year-old boy something he liked. She gave me a look that said, ‘You couldn’t even take a minute to buy it yourself?’

It’s a genetic flaw. I cannot buy a present right.

I once gave an old cheerful aunt who is full of the love of life – a pair of Nike sports shoes – to meet her and find out she’s bedridden with arthritis. I gave someone a house-warming gift of wine glasses to be told they are rabid tea-totallers, who frown seriously on alcoholic people.

I wish I could be like S, who gives everyone books. He doesn’t seem to care too much whether they read the book, or they’ve already read it, or they never will. He just enjoys spending hours in a book store, and buying a book he likes himself.
Perhaps, I should have bought the 10-year-old boy something I liked? Like a pair of pearl earrings?