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Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Then And Now



I never thought a day would come
When I would admit they were so right,
When all that happened so long back
Would start over in a new day in a new time.

The way he held my hand in his
Her eyes never leaving sight,
I knew they were always somewhere around
I just had to turn back to their smile.

I was small she was my world
And his only world too was me,
They were then my bestest friend
And I knew it was the only way it could be.

Stepping out from the school bus
I would jump right into her arms,
Life was a child, all fairy tales and songs
They were my shield to every and all harms.

Poems turned to songs and words
Then to alphabets and numbers and plays,
New sights new sounds new friends new life
New things every single day.

As the dolls traded places with nail paint n stuff
As the girl grew up one day,
The bestest friends turned to best friends
And slowly from that to ‘Ma, baba, please stay away!’

I thought she wasn’t looking
When on the phone I would spend the night,
I would think he knew nothing about me
But somehow, he was always by my side.

Then one day that girl grew yet again
And a mother she happened to be,
A daughter was born and the cycle began
First it was theirs, now my turn to be.

All those things that my parents did then
That I hardly appreciated, hardly gave a thought,
I know now whatever I do or say
As good a parent like them I am still not.

They were right when they told me then
‘Grow up dear daughter then you will see,
You can tell us now to stay out of your life
But in our heart, forever you will be.’

The picture is same the characters same
Only the faces are what have changed,
For eternity now it’s true what is said
And the greatest blessing, a parent, has been named.

Today when I walk my daughter that way
Holding my little darling in my arms,
I know no matter how grown up she is
I will still shield her from all hurts and harms.

I laughed when you said I would always be a child
That for you a baby I would always remain,
Today I know what you meant then, baba, ma.....
For forever to me a child she too will remain.......

Innocent Till Proven Guilty And Not The Other Way Please


Its sad how life can change with one wrong move. Something as simple as falling in love and getting to know a person can change things forever. Your life that was so wonderful and planned and organised and happening suddenly becomes the talk of the town, not in ways that you would have wanted, but instead, held out there in the open for all to see and comment. And the worst is that the media ALWAYS cleverly forgets to mention the better and more human side of the person.

All this talk that has begun after model Viveka Babajee committed suicide and the suicide note was found in her apartment, naming a certain mysterious 'Gautam' as the reason behind this step. The media went into hyper-active mode to find out who this 'Gautam' chap is, what happened between the two, how long they had been dating and how was he responsible for causing her death?

The newspaper today carried Gautam's picture and that was when I realised who this 'Gautam' is. I read the article in detail, seeing what they had to write about him. And as expected, all they had to talk about was his partying lifestyle, his desire to 'be seen in the company of influential people' and all those things that would make it sound as if he is just another 'Page 3' types. But that does not define what he is.

They mentioned it had been only a month they had known each other, that they had met at a party in Goa recently and had grown closer, that Viveka was already planning marriage but Gautam was not ready to commit yet. And the tabloid spared no print to imply it was this lack of commitment that drove her to take the extreme step.

Well, it might all sound sensational and sad in print, but tell me, how many of us have had a relationship in real life and committed to marry the person within a month of meeting that 'person.' And if you have a fight with your partner in a relationship and that person ends up taking his / her own life, why should the blame fall on you? The media has done again what it always does with high-profile suicide cases. It has again dragged the name of the man who was in the relationship, putting his name on the front, naming him the one responsible for all that happened, assassinating his character, making him seem like an irresponsible and reckless fun loving guy.

But that is NOT how Gautam is.

For all their details, the media forgot to present that side of the guy who only those who have interacted with him on a personal level will know. At first glance he seems chilled out and casual, someone who loves the pleasures and luxuries of life, someone who is comfortable in his skin.

But he has more to him than just good looks and good dressing sense. I know that side, I have seen how soft-spoken and well-mannered he is, how caring and attentive he is towards children and their needs, how he has a fun personality and a keen eye for nature, what a wonderful artist he is and how well he captures life in reel, how hard working and dedicated he is in work and how he is managing a company at such an young age, a company that knows how to care for its employees and that is doing great in its field. Of course he may have his temper and his bad days and his grumpy moods, but that is something that is common to all of us, isnt it? So how is it fair to start writing off someone even before the public is given a chance to know this man?

NOT FAIR.

There is too much bad print out there and too much hype and attention. But all I can say is that I cannot believe that Gautam is to be held responsible for what happened here. I have nothing to comment on who is to be blamed and whose fault it was. All I can say is that please remember that a person is 'INNOCENT TILL PROVEN GUILTY' and NOT 'guilty till proven innocent', as our media always makes it to be.

Gautam....of course you will not be sitting and reading at this moment, you already have a lot on your plate, but still, all the very best for everything....

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Its Toy Story 3 !!!!



Just came back from the movie and WHAT an experience !!!

Have you seen it yet? The new Toy Story...Toy Story 3... No??? Well, then that is what you absolutely have to experience this weekend, or if the weekend's already planned, then you definitely need to catch the movie this coming week.

It doesnt matter whether you have seen the previous two parts or no, for the best part about Toy Story is that though it is connected to the past, it is completely a new story with each sequel.

Book your tickets right now and make a plan with your little ones, their friends and their parents...Coz this is one 3-D experience that everyone is sure gonna love. Get inside the world of Woody, Buzz, Mr. and Mrs. Potato, Ham, Rek the Dino and so many more friends as they embark on a thrilling adventure from Andy's house to the world outside.....

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Legacy of The Master - Gabriel Garcia Marquez


I first happened to chance upon a book by Gabriel Garcia Marquez almost 10 years back. Till then I had never heard the name...

And the name was what fascinated me the instant I heard it. There was a certain ring to the name that lent it an exotic feeling, like it came from a different part of the world altogether, a world with different customs and different folk tales and smells and sights that were part of a completely different and enchanted place. How I wanted to see what this man would write about and where his words would take me....

The first and till now, only, book I read of his was 'Chronicles of A Death Foretold' and its been 10 years I read it...But I still remain one of its biggest fans till date.

Now, after a whole decade, it is only right that I get back to do what I should have done long back. To get back that same world for me once again - that land of the mystic and the fabled beings and stories that are real yet so captivating and 'fairy-tale' like sometimes. So now I am reading 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' and next in line is 'Love In The Time of Cholera.'

I have already set my sights on collecting each and every title by this master story-teller. And the best part about his works are that though most of them are fiction, each of his stories are so infused with real life and happenings that the borderline between real and fiction almost ceases to exist.

So here is a list of his works that you should surely read in this lifetime:

No One Writes To The Colonel
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Leaf Storm and Other Stories
The Autumn of The Patriarch
Innocent Erendira and Other Stories
In Evil Hour
Chronicle of a Death Foretold
Collected Stories
The Story of A Shipwrecked Sailor
Clandestine in Chile: The Adventures of Miguel Littin
Love In The Time of Cholera
Collected Novellas
The General in His Labyrinth
Strange Pilgrims
Of Love And Other Demons
News Of A Kidnapping
Living To Tell The Tale
Memories Of My Melancholy Whores
The Solitude of Latin America
The Fragrance of Guava
A Country For Children
Living To Tell The Tale

The Link That Conncects You and The Ant


So what is common between you and the ant? Yes, right, that little tiny creature that is always there but hardly there, unless of course you step on it accidentally and get a bite that is gonna sting for a couple of seconds...What is common between that tiny being and you?

Please spare me the trouble of correcting you and do not use words like 'hard-working' 'perseverance' 'determined' 'strong-willed' 'team-player' 'focused' and all that...No, if these are the words you are looking for then you are headed in a completely wrong direction.

Do you see the picture above? Do you know what this is? Maybe you guessed it maybe you didn't, so i am here to help. This, my dear friends, is a hot and spicy, fresh off the gas bowl of MAGGI....Ya right, that yummy delicious bowl we've been having ever since we were kids..whether on a rainy day or on a sunny afternoon, in the school lunch box, the college canteen, or maybe after a long and tiring day at work, with friends, or ignoring the scolding of ma and still preferring it over lunch or dinner....we have ALL had Maggi at some time or the other and have been in love with it too :)

And now I see the ants in my place too have discovered this un-putdownable delicacy...Can you believe it, even when the shelves are stacked with cookies and munchies and wafers and all, they hardly go that direction anymore!!! All sweets in our house are safe..The one thing that is sooooo in danger of continuous assault is MAGGI :( And these ants spare no minute...The moment I bring in a new stock of MAGGI and keep it on the shelf, they are all ready with their team, making tiny microscopic holes in the packet and getting in, sitting there comfortably and enjoying a feast !!!!

I knew MAGGI was really popular, but I never knew it would come to this level of popularity one day !!!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Eye-Spy the Bandra Resident Way....


Well, as if we did not have enough moral police already in the country, now there is a new brigade of these moral police who have taken all this 'moralising' talk a little too far.

As part of an initiative by the Advance Locality Management (ALM), an amalgamation of 38 housing societies in Bandra, private residents are now going to monitor the 'conduct' of people who choose to visit the Bandra Bandstand and the nearby areas. The 7 CCTV cameras have been installed on the famous road that is home to some of the biggest names in B-town, the first begining at Galaxy Apartments that is home to The King Khan Salman and ending at Mannat, SRK's abode.

But what is shocking is that none of the footage will be monitored by the cops, but instead by local residents, who have now taken it upon themselves to rid the place of couples who indulge in 'indecent' behaviour. Says Archana Sharma, president of the association - 'The idea is to make the area more secure and liveable. We want to help prevent crimes and also to make sure that couples sit in the area decently rather than in an absurd manner that is embarrassing for other people."

Mumbaikars have not taken to the initiative in a good way and many of them feel it is a complete disregard for lack of privacy. If cops do their work vigilantly and keep a strict watch on the roads it is more than enough to make the roads and streets safe. As far as the conduct of couples is regarded, if the police keeps a regular watch on the 'love' areas, it is possible to make sure that no vulgarity or indecency is taking place in a public place.

No matter how decent or concerned the residents are, there is no guarantee that these footage cannot be misused. Who is to know if those keeping a tab on decency turn voyeurs themselves? Putting up cameras in malls, hotels, airports, banks, hospitals, theatres and all other public places is of course something that should be done immediately and manned by cops. But putting it up on the road and monitoring any one who happens to be there, that too monitored by someone who does not have any authority to do so is simply NOT DONE !!!! I mean, if I go to Bandstand with my family or friends, why would I agree to someone sitting inside their room and looking at the tape that shows what we are doing out there? Who is that someone anyway???

An extremely wrong move.......and once again a blow to all the young ones who are in love in this city that is becoming more rule-inflicted each day....

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Music on the Treadmill


Realised its always great for your workout if you have a blasting rapper or a crazily loud voice singing and booming in your ears and head while you slog your A** off on those machines in the gym. So the weekend was spent downloading a few good n groovy numbers on my player....

Whether a Bollywood number, a punjabi track, Sean Paul's rap or some crazy DJ beats, all of this is working wonders to give me the energy and the spunk I need for those one n a half hours of slogging each morning....As I plug in my ears to the music, all chatter and gossip and talks fade out and there is only the loud hammering in my head and thats when the feet begin to tap and the steps get easier.

Right now its a mix of contrasts on my playlist and all of them are blending together just fine. Whether its the sexy DJ mix of the Tokyo Drift track by the Teriyaki Boyz or the Lets Dance track from the movie Page 3 or the Soneye song mix from the movie Aksar, Ricky Martin, Enrique, Backstreet Boys, The Wonders and so many others... as the tracks change the pace manages to remain the same and so do my steps....

Well they are pepping me up for sure....whats playing on your playlist now ?

Slogging and running and killing myself....aahh the pains of a GYM!!!!


Just back from the gym and boy...what a session !!!! Had rigorously been working out a few months back, well, 'a few' would actually not be enough to define an absence of 08 months from the gym though!! And now am back again...with all the gym stuff ready by my side, the gym shorts n the tee n the running shoes n socks n sipper, everything ready steady to go !!!!

Now that my daughter has started going to school I have made it mandatory for myself to slog it out for atleast 01 hour and a half each morning...Tough as it is for a soul that hasn't ventured in that direction for the last so many months, it sure is invigorating too.....

Working out now I can see the benefits of having a good trainer too. The one we had earlier was too casual..he let us skip our workouts and we were happy with the cheating, realising we were cheating ourselves, but vowing to come back the next day and do the workout in all its entirety...that next day never came.

The new guy we have now is a taskmaster. And I must admit it feels like I am going back to school or something. For starters, I am not used to being told too much of what to do and how to do. I am pretty much the master of my own will. And that is all shattered in the gym these days. If I am lethargic, I can be sure to have a barrage of shouts in my ear. My veins and arteries might be all ready to burst out of my body any moment, but he hardly cares....And as I lie down to do those crunches that have killed me a million times already in the past week itself, I hope to close my eyes for a sec and to rest my back and to comfort those crying legs, but my dreams are soon shattered with shouts of "START RIGHT NOW....NOWWWWW!!!!!" And thus ends my 01 second of dreaming.

Not to mention that I have to do everything from scratch each day. The first day he told me to do 'skipping' as long as I could. And the best excuse I had was 'I will do it at home' :) I was happy I was managing to fool him like the earlier guy. But how was I to know he was already equipped to handle such ignorant fools like me?
"Yes, I know, everyone does it at home...And I am sure you also do. But you will have to do it here too. RIGHT NOW!" That was the end of my pathetic excuse.
Then came the crunches.....OH NO !!! I can never even begin to think what Kareena Kapoor must have done to become the way she is now...Of course I can always console myself by saying that she went under the knife....but seriously...How can someone do so many crunches and still be alive and well to enjoy life? I am still wondering...

After so many sets of those crunches came a new set of crunches...and then another set where I had to twist my body to weird angles...And the only thing the trainer could ask me was 'Do you feel the pressure in your body?' OF COURSE I felt the pressure of my aching veins and body, what was he thinking?
Then the stepper and the cycling and the treadmill..I am doing 3 kms each day at the moment, hope to get to 5 kms some day too, lets see..
Then two more sets of stretching my arms and calves....And not to mention the workouts Im doing for the triceps too..... Oh!!! My dead days are here...

Well I am NOT at all aiming to be one of those super-waif models....And who am I kidding? Even if I aim I know I can never be.... But I believe if I carry on like this, someday, maybe some wonderful day, I will stand on the weighing machine with my head held high...and the machine will actually look back at me with the reading of a friend....till then my friends....the battle is on.

Monday, June 21, 2010

To You My Parents


This is the picture of the two people I respect the most in this world. Earlier I would have added the word 'love' too, but now there is a very tiny but very very strong candidate who has successfully captured that position forever - my own daughter.

These two people in the photograph are the ones who brought me into this world. They are my parents, the two people who know me probably much better than I know myself.

From the time I first opened my eyes to when I first tried to utter a word, when I sat up on my own or turned on my stomach, that first step I took and the first time I ate on my own - they are the two people who have seen and cherished it all. They are the ones who held my finger and taught me to walk, and later helped me hold a pencil in my hand and learn the first script. The ones who introduced me to the enchanting world of books, taught me how to express myself through words, told me that always coming first in life was not important, what was important was to give everything your best shot and to know that you did your best while at the same time being fair.

They are the ones who have always loved me unconditionally, even when I threw tantrums or was unreasonable and stubborn, their love and faith in me never wavered. When I was upset or angry they were always there to calm me, when I needed my space they always made sure I had my privacy while knowing they were just an arm's distance away.

They have always known me better than me, these two people, my parents.

When I was young I always told them not to worry about me, or, after I grew up, when they would talk about me - what I did when I was small and all those things of the past - I would tell them not to dwell on old things, I told them to stop thinking only about me and to do more about their own life. But I never realised that one day, I too would become just like them, that I too would be a parent. And that the only world I would know then would be the world around my child.

I understand their concerns now as I feel the same towards my daughter. I can share their excitement or their love in the way they talk about me when I was a little baby. I can recall each and every moment of my daughter's life myself and only I know how much joy it brings me to sometimes just sit back and reminisce. I can understand now why they worried so much all the time, I am no different a parent, I can now feel their anxieties and fears too.

What I am feeling only now is what they have felt for these last so many years.

These two precious people in my life, who never complained at any of my faults or idiosyncracies, who loved and believed in me despite all my greys and negatives, who were and still are the best parents ever, much more than I can ever imagine to be.

For everything good and important and helpful that I have, and will ever do as a parent, everything I have learned from you two.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

My Daughter's first Father's Day


Let me begin this by saying a Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful fathers in every part of the world. Yes, I know being a father, and sharing the joys and responsibilities that come attached with it, aren’t just restricted to this one day in the year. But let’s just take the opportunity to tell all you amazing men out there how much of an idol you really are to your kids.

My daughter is too young to understand what Father’s Day means. But since she has just begun school, she was helped to make a card for her father by her teacher.

She came home a day before Father’s Day and told me excitedly there was a card in her school bag. ‘Baby made card” she said, ‘baby’ being herself. I took a look at the little card, it was a flower she had made using her tiny finger prints. I knew how special it was for her, and how much it would mean to the person for whom it was made. We kept it safely, away from any chances of being torn by the same hands that had made it, a desperate attempt made to keep it in piece till ‘dad’ returned home from work in the evening. When that evening she handed him the card with a big smile on her face and repeated Happy Father’s Day Papa, just as I had told her to, I could see all the tiredness of the day vanishing from my husband’s face. It was his first Father’s Day card ever, after all.

On Father’s Day I went and got a cake and a bouquet for the ‘father’ on my little daughter’s behalf. My daughter had been asking me for a cake for the last few days and this would solve the purpose of making both of them happy. Once the cake was sneaked in the door and quietly placed on the table, my daughter came hopping around. ‘CAKE!’ she shrieked with joy on seeing the thick chocolate slab on the table. I sat her down on my lap and explained to her that today was Father’s Day and that the cake was for her Father. ‘And?’ she asked, waiting for me to tell her that the cake was also for her. ‘And for you’ I smiled. That made her happy and content. So we waited for papa to come into the room. My daughter didn’t realize what all this was supposed to mean, but in her own little way she understood that this was something special and something fun, something that involved her papa and a cake and flowers and lots of hugs and kisses. She was already enjoying.

So when her papa finally saw the cake she knew it was now time to cut the cake and gobble it up. She promptly got up on a chair, waiting to get the chance to jump in. I told her to wish her father and to give him a big hug. As soon as the required hug was given, she turned back to the table, all attentions promptly on the cake. She never lost track of her objective for one minute.

Thus was celebrated the first Father’s Day in the life of my little one and her father. She was too young to understand most of it and will of course not have any memories of this day once she grows up, but I know my hubby will remember this day for the rest of his life, as will I, with each moment of this special day of bonding etched firmly in my heart and my mind.

And also, as I am enjoying this lovely moment, let me wish my father a very happy Father’s Day too. For being there with me always, for seeing me grow up and making sure that I grow up into a good human being first of all. To baba, with love, happy father’s day…….

Nobody and Yesbody


My daughter and I were sitting on the bed, me with a cup of tea in my hand, going through the newspaper, she busy with her many crayons and sketch pens scattered on the bed, the colouring book lying lifelessly on the floor, her dolls buried under the comforter. It was pouring heavily outside and I had closed the windows, but the occasional roar of the thunders still managed to come in now and then. At one such stage, when I was busy with a particularly interesting story in the paper, there was a huge thunderclap outside.
My daughter, who is yet to be three, is scared of thunders (and so am I but thats a secret). As soon as she heard the clouds she thought it was some monster outside and she asked me who it was. As I was too busy with the article I replied with a casual 'nobody.'
For a minute that seemed to satisfy her. But then her curiosity got the better of her.
'And?" she asked.
'And what?' I asked, without looking up from the paper, trying to keep her occupied with my monosyllables.
'Nobody and?'
'Nobody' I repeated.
'Nobody and?' she repeated as well.
I left the paper for a moment and looked at her.
She was sitting with a big question mark on her face, her wide eyes looking at me, waiting for the answer that I could see she had already formed in her head.
'And what baby?' I asked.
Asking her the same question she had asked had, on many previous occasions, brought out the answer itself.
'Nobody and Yesbody' she said with a smile, an achievement that she had managed to state what mommy had obviously not had the brains to realise :)

I couldn't help laughing then. I forgot all about the paper and my cup of tea and picked her up in my arms and gobbled her cheeks for a while, to which she rewarded me with those giggles.

Of course, how could I not have seen something so simple and yet obvious as only a baby can see? If there is a NO Body, there has to be a YES Body too !!! Just like there is a good and bad, a yes and no, a big and small...

In participating in the many rat races and following the survival rules in the concrete jungle, we have forgotten the basic simplicity that was inherent in all of us at one time. Thank god our little ones are there to remind us how simple and yet wonderful life can be......If only we could make our lives so simple as our little ones see it.....

For more interesting stories and articles about the journey called 'Parenting', visit http://mylittleoneandme-debolina-raja-gupta.blogspot.com/

Friday, June 18, 2010

Fun Things To Do With Your Child This Monsoon


The rains are making a splash in full force and your little one is stuck inside....No more parks, no more running outside with friends, no more cycling or walking...And no one can blame these little ones for getting cranky and bored. So here I am sharing a few fun things that you and your little one can do together this monsoon. The clouds are going to be around for the next two months at least, don't fret, try some of this, and let me know if it worked :)

1. Now is the time to do some camping, and that too right in the comfort of your home. Many kids already have play tents at home, but if you haven't got something like that, even better. Take your favourite bedsheet and pitch a tent right inside your room! Fill it with pillows and mattress and your sleeping tent is ready. Get a food basket ready for your tent experience and get the torch out of the drawer. Switch off all the lights, even better if there is a window in the room. Looking out at the stars in the night lying in the tent will be an experience...And in case the stars are not visible out the window, paste stars and moon on the ceiling and begin your star-gazing.

2. Since it's raining you of course have to make loads and loads of paper boats! Make your boats and have a competition with your friends to see whose boat goes the farthest..

3. And once you are back inside after the boats are gone, start your very own paper-aeroplane competition.

4. Bring out the board games, scrabble, monopoly, life, jigsaw puzzles, those hobby idea and craft things, UNO, pictionary, scotland yard...anything that you have.

5. Monsoons are the best time to have a great cup of hot chocolate with cookies!!! Take your child's help in the kitchen, make them involved in making themselves a delicious mug of warm chocolate milk...if your baby is too young you can take their help by asking them to scoop the chocolate in the cup.

6. Sometimes, catching up on old family albums is more amazing than it sounds.... With everyone indoors, you can bring out those old family albums and point out stories hidden behind each pic...Or you can even bring out baby's album and show them how they looked when they were tiny !!

7. Call in your friends and have a picnic at home.. Get yourself a picnic basket loaded with sandwich, fruits, juice, cookies and other picnic food.. Spread out a mattress or sheet on the floor, and have a picnic.

8. Rain times are good times to have a movie session at home with friends and popcorn. After the movie you can all help mommy to prepare a meal for you and your friends. Ask mommy how you can be of help.

9. Do you remember the last time you wrote a letter to someone? Not on the email, but a hand-written note telling them how much you love them and sharing things about your life. Use this time indoors to write to your loved ones, to grandparents, to aunts and uncles, to cousins and even friends.

10. Rain is beautiful. Capture this beauty in photographs. Take your parents' help with the camera if needed and start clicking away. You can make a rain scrap-book that you can later share at school with teachers and friends.

Rains are one of the best gift of nature. The wild splash of fresh water from the clouds above can feel like magic on your skin and senses, especially after a harsh Indian summer. Enjoy the rains. As much as you need to be careful in this rainy season and avoid getting wet, it is nice to sometimes give discipline and rules a little miss and indulge in some pure fun. Remember what fun it was to dance around in the rains? Let your child experience the joy of getting wet in the rains. Be around to see that they don't get exposed for too long, keep a dry towel and some warm chocolate ready. Better still, join in the fun.......

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Femaliarisation of Our Male Species


It is funny when these days the topic of gender equality is raised in any context. It wasn't always like this though. Earlier it was a serious issue, a debatable topic that led to some serious arguments and discussions. There were so many things to be brought up under the said topic. For years the women of our country have fought to have an equal footing in society.

Now it is the time of the males. It is their turn to be treated as equals. And rightfully so.

The right to gender equality today is not only limited to a discussion among a group of bored, middle-aged uncles sitting in some god-forsaken studio of Doordarshan. They know the viewer has already got bored and switched off the TV (the one who has a cable and thus the option of something else other than DD would not have tuned into it in the first place!) and hence can carry on at their own sweet leisure. The right to gender equality today has become a much more visible and wider topic than it ever was.

And the male species has taken it upon themselves to make sure they are treated as equals.

One of the first area where they screamed and ranted for equality was the beauty parlour. Of course a men's beauty parlour cannot be called so. Hence it was aptly given the chic name of a Men's Salon, but of course it still remains a beauty parlour.
The men of our generation made sure they got their rightful share of beauty treatment. But of course they couldn't make it so obvious, hence the term 'metrosexual male' was coined. Metrosexual - a man who goes for his regular sessions of bleaching, waxing, threading, facial, pedicure, manicure, blackhead removal, hair treatment, hair colouring, straightening, longer hair styles, ponytails, wears ear-rings, even wears black nail paint sometimes and doesn't shy, wears pink (thankfully some guys still know how much pink is okay) and does all those things that he should rightfully deserves. Well well well...and it seems to be a pretty shallow well too. Meterosexual - a heavy and intense word, designed to make girls swoon when they say 'I'm a meterosexual male you know.' Hmmm.....if only they knew how invaluable a topic they were providing for the next few b****y session ;)

Still we, as civilised and polite grown-ups, have learned to ignore such vanity. But there are a few instances that are too good to keep a straight face.

Last weekend we were at the mall when I spotted a guy, wearing, wonder of all wonders, a short embroidered kurti with jeans !!! No, it wasn't any unisexual kurti, it was simply the kinds that are worn short by females....And it had flowers and vines embroidered all over it. He was accompanied by a male and a female. Me being the lovely curious busy-body that I am, did a complete U-turn and again walked past him, shopping basket in hand, looking here and there and looking straight at the dress. I couldn't control the laugh and decided to move away for a few minutes. As soon as I had had my share of giggles I did a U-turn again, this time curious to see his face. He looked okay, had a moustache too.....but the kurti did it again and I ran ;)

I pointed out the same to hubby and he couldn't help but roll his eyes....

And as we were coming out of the mall....can you believe it...a couple walked in, who was clearly gay but that is very much common now in Mumbai and was not the point, and one of the guys had a small purse in his hand which he was swinging on his finger Madhubala style !!! And he wasn't playing any games there, he actually was seriously doing that....Dressed in veryyyy tight jeans and a pink top, he had a ladies' purse in his hand, the strap of which was dangling from a finger and he was swinging the purse....tee too tee too....WHAT !!!! And as he moved past me and I obviously turned to take a priceless look - I saw the swing of the hips too...eeeeee.....why, oh why, did I turn? I mean, come on...I have seen many gay couples in the malls, holding hands, one guy carrying a female handbag while the other is clearly the 'guy', strutting, pouting, cuddling - and it's nothing unusual, just another way of life, but this!!

I don't know what is happening to the male species..they used to be so so dashing, with their terribly amazing masculine charm, muscular bodies, sporty and elegant dressing, their rawness was actually something that always managed to turn on the fairer sex....well if someone were to ask us, we don't want a 'chikna' dude, we dont want these sissies that are being churned out of who-knows-where each day, and why would we be turned on with a pedicured and manicured doll? Isnt that supposed to be working the other way round?

If things carry on at this rate, one day the world might simply turn pink....Oh no, what a NIGHTMARE !!!!

If any guy happens to read this right now, could you enlighten please on this very serious issue that has descended on us poor souls ?

Father's Day 2010 - Gift Ideas


Speaking of parents, it's that time in the year when we can shift our focus and attention to that parent who, maybe for more of the time, is not able to be present with the child as much as he would want to, but is extremely involved and concerned, nevertheless. Yes, it is Father's Day on the 20th of June 2010. So let's tell him once again how much we love him.

Here are a few simple and thoughtful gift ideas to let the fathers know how important and loved they are:

1. A tee shirt for dad with baby's hand prints

2. A personalised photo frame with a picture of papa and baby that can be placed at the office desk

3. You can buy a coffee mug and personalise it for dad by getting a picture of papa and baby on the mug. It would be a wonderful gift for office coffee time

4. A tennis set or any other sport equipment that your father is involved in. You could even gift him gym shoes

5. A tie set

6. Plan a trekking trip with only papa and child

7. You can get together your friends and their dads and along with your father can go for camping

8. Dads will not admit it often to their kids, but they get tired too. Get a nice foot massager for dad to soak in his tired feet and help him relax after a busy day at work

9. Go for a movie with your father, something of his choice. Or if that is not exciting, have a round of games at the PS or XBox

10.You could compile a CD with your father's favourite tracks which he can play in the car

11.Go to watch a match in a stadium or schedule a match-viewing day at home

12.Make a card at home

13.Make a calendar for father, using a personal picture for each month of the year. If you make a table calendar, he could keep it on his office desk

14.A day planner. You can personalise the same by using pictures of you and your father, on the cover as well as inside on those pages that mark important events in your family, like his/your/mom's birthday/anniversary and the like

15.Write him a letter, by hand. You would be surprised to know how special he would feel if you wrote him a letter in this age of email and texting. Mention things that you enjoy doing with him, what you like about him, what he means to you and what you have learned from him. Bring out the emotions and let him know what you think of him.

The MOST IMPORTANT gift for a father is knowing how much his child loves and appreciates him. Give your father a big hug and tell him how much you love him. And don't restrict this to Father's Day alone. You can make everyday special for your dad by letting him know how much he means to you.

Like someone rightly said - 'Dad, you are someone to look up to no matter how tall I have grown.'

Wishing all the fathers A Wonderful Father's Day, everyday !!!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hand over fork n knife


I was at this cosy dine-in yesterday - a nice quiet place, the lights dimmed to a subtle play of red and yellow, the ambience tastefully done, the music just perfect in its decibel.
As I sat down to enjoy my plate of kebabs, the waiter came and handed me an extra pair of cutlery. I thought it was a mistake, the table had already been set. Maybe he thought I had asked for another set for my daughter.
I put the fork and knife on the side and dived in with my hands. As my fingers touched the surface I could feel the warmth of the food seeping in. The aromas that assailed my senses as I broke the food into a biteable chunk was heady. I placed a few spoons of spicy mint chutney on my plate, held the little succulent piece in my hand, and after wonderfully dipping the bite in a perfect round in the chutney, I put it where it rightfully belonged - in my mouth.
I could see the waiter was looking at me. And then I realised the reason for the extra set of cutlery. For you see, I had performed the un-cool routine of eating with my hand. I turned around and everywhere I looked I could see these 'perfect' pictures of elegance - knives and forks in hand, cutting a piece here, trimming a bite there, and tucking it away in their mouths. While I was eating with my hand!

Our culture has always taught us to eat using our hands. I am a Bengali, and in my family, we always eat with our hand. For us the mingling of the food is essential. You need to mix the rice properly with the dal, the vegetables, the curries. Every morsel needs to be perfectly blended with the other on the plate, a perfect state of 'bonding' is to be reached, and once you have married the different dishes together, you take a bite and can still feel each and every taste as distinct as the other.
Others too - the roti, the parantha, the dosa, the samosa, the vada pav, the pav bhaji..you dont eat those with a fork and knife, do you?

In our essential need to ape the west, the fork and knives have found a permanent place on almost every Indian dining table. Of course it is fine to use them, tasteful and elegant and non-messy. But why look specifically at someone who is eating in the most natural way, who is savouring food with his/her hands? Why point them out and comment on how uncivilised they are? For, while the steel can surely do a great job of getting the bite in your mouth, it can never match the satisfaction of feeling your food before you eat it.

David Davidar - The fallen mango from the Penguin tree


A few days ago a friend of mine had loaned me a book. I had given him a book from my collection and the rule was that whenever you are returning a book you have to loan one of yours too. So it happened that I had in my hand a book whose cover of a blue-and-green tint was as intriguing as its cover picture - that of the blue mangoes. And the fact that it was personally autographed by the author himself was also a kind of interesting factor. I decided I would finish my current reading-companion in a day or two and start with 'The House of The Blue Mangoes.'

I tried a couple of times but somehow I just didnt like the book. It felt like it was too much of an attempt at creating a masterpiece. But that did not mean the critics and hot-shots of the publishing world had dismissed it too. For on the cover jacket there were praises and praises about what a masterpiece the book was and it eventually even made it to the top lists worldwide. But that has nothing to do with good writing or with talent.

It was surprising to see this promising and reputed name in the news for all the wrong reasons..Being sacked from your company, one that you head, and being accused of sexual molestation are not charges you take lightly. The media is having a field day devoting print space to David Davidar day after day. He would have liked it in another setting, but never would he have imagined that there would be a day when his name would be so maligned.

David's 37-year-old colleague, Lisa Rundle, has accused him of sexual molestation. According to her complaint which earned her a prompt dismissal from the Penguin group of which she was an employee, David had been harassing her for the past 3 years, his lust dripping through in her mailbox, and last year, at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October, 52-year-old David appeared at her hotel room door, 'wearing excessive cologne and his shirt undone to the waist.' Not to mention that she asked him to leave but he instead asked her to 'relax and let him come in', after which, according to the complaint, he forced his way inside her room and in a similar fashion, forced his tongue inside her mouth.

Today David has alleged that he was forced to quit Penguin and had not put in his papers, as was given out in the news. He has said that Lisa was his colleague and friend for the past 3 years and he has shocked at the false allegations she has made.

We can only sit and wonder what is the truth behind the entire drama. And more likely than not, we will never even know what really happened. Why would a man, who was till a few days ago the CEO of Penguin Canada and one of the most respected names in the publishing world, suddenly give it all up for one night of lust? Not to mention the fact that he has been happily married for the past 15 years. Why would he make his intentions so obvious and leave trails in the mailbox ? Why would he, a man who knows the power of media today, put himself in a position that can only lead to his downfall? Today David has lashed out at Lisa, claiming he had a lovely relationship with her for the past 3 years as a friend and that he does not understand why she is doing this to him. But would this be such a valid point to make? For havent we heard of countless incidents where friends turn foe? Arent there enough happenings in and around us where friends have turned into predators, where the guy who was loved and trusted suddenly turns into the one who knows how to 'hit upon' his friend, where a friend has actually taken the cover of 'being friend' as an excuse to get too close for comfort.....

On the other hand, there have also been instances where the woman who was initially seen as the victim was actually the one who had done all the plotting and planning, where the man is actually the victim but still becomes a scapegoat in the reigning social rules that always point the accusing finger at the guy first and take the woman's word as the truth. In many cases that have featured in the papers, women have accused men, who have been put to trial, only to be revealed later that it was all part of a carefully thought-out plan.

I cannot comment on the real culprit in the Lisa-David-Penguin case. There is too much at stake here for both. David has a wife and a family that he is answerable to. Lisa took the bold step of speaking out against a wrong done and ended up being wrongly fired. David was fired. Both have lost their jobs and will forever have a taboo on their names, David of course being seen as the culprit till matters dont come to light and Lisa will be considered as the woman who 'invited' trouble. Many corporates are wary of taking such names on board. The fear of a similar situation arising in their own companies is too much to risk. It could be a difficult road ahead for both of them, but on the other hand, it could play to their benefit. David has already mentioned he wants to get back to writing once more. Maybe all this will lead to a tell-all that is already slated for a massive sell-out. The same could also be the case with Ms. Rundle, a tell-all book being the norm these days.

Let's see how these two take it from here... I am sure Penguin will not be the Publishers ;)

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Peek Inside the Regular Day of a Harried Mom !!!!



Yes....this is exactly how I am looking right now..... Harried, tired, frustrated, my back bent and my shoulders drooping in that classic image of defeat and giving-up, not a clue in the world of how I will ever manage and take control over my life once again..lines appearing on my forehead and seeming to stay etched forever, those dark beauty spots that have by now grown into full dark circles and have comfortably settled around my eyes....

I cant remember the last time I slept like I was unconscious..maybe 3 years ago? And what happened to those plans of devoting atleast one hour of a lovely siesta only to my comforter and me, when everything and everyone else can go wherever they want...Cant remember the last time I actually went for a shower and didnt leave my ears at the door to pick up any baby noise. Or sat down to a mouth-watering spread without having to gobble it up like I was just rescued from one of those draught-affected lands, stuffing myself like a pig so that I could get back to taking away the crayon from my daughter's hand before she can finish her floor-till-wherever-hand-reaches masterpiece on the wall.


Some days I like to think I am in control, that I am a super-mum..In fact, after reading one of these articles, one reader actually called me that!!! How I laughed and chuckled...Me? Supermum? And when I shared this news with my hubby, of course he burst out laughing...even my brother... 'they should see you now, this mad freaked-out woman', they both commented, 'and they would realise the supermom is actually going nuts.' I couldn't agree more..

Some days are good days, when I am more calm and can take on a plan to tackle the day. When the clothes have been washed and folded and kept in their place, when the dishes are done, when a good hot meal is ready, toys all tidied, the house neat and clean, baby rested and happy. Those days I even get the time to read a book or stand on the balcony with a cup of coffee in my hand, looking out at the world go by.

Some days I am a wreck. The house looks as if a battalion of unruly kids were let loose after a month of grounding. The kitchen is dirty and smelly. There is food sticking out of my hair and on my clothes. Clothes are lying everywhere, unwashed, untidy. Every step on the floor is littered with toys and paper and food blobs and crayons and cars and anything and everything that is my daughter's sole property. On these days there is so much to do and so much undone that I am dazed...Will the house, and my life for that matter, be normal again? On such days, most of the time, this is what happens:

1. my daughter runs the length of the house..and then back...and then again the whole house...and then back...and....and...and...(I don't have to re-type over and over, read the previous lines, that's what she does)
2. I run behind my daughter the length of the house...and then back..and then again the whole house...and then back..and..and..(yes you are smart)
3. I resemble a mad shrieking old hag
4. I look like the water department permanently cut off the supply at my place and I don't know where to take a bath (I also look like the world has run out of those luxurious commodities called soap and shampoo and perfume)
5. I look like I am a witch, out to scare and scold a poor little baby
6. I clean up and manage to tidy one tiny part of the house, but my daughter turns out to be more competent and can make it dirty and more untidy in much lesser time it took me to tidy up
7. I look like I walked out of a grave and am walking on this earth looking for someone who will help me go back and lie down under the earth
8. I scream, then I feel guilty, then I see something and lose my mind, then I shout again, then I feel guilty, then I see something again, then I run towards, then I kind of give up and think I would rather stop, then I resume again and shout, and run.....oh yes you got the drift....
9.I hear a grumbling in my tummy and realise the only food I have had the whole day is tea and coffee
10.I scream and yell at hubby on the phone, I am sad and upset, and I am frustrated when he is back home, I am angry and sad, telling him he never helps, accusing him of having an easy life, never taking care of baby...

I have these days.....still....many of them...and I am sure you have these too... Its only natural isnt it? Those days of frustration and anger and tears, and later the guilt that hits us, suffocating us, making us end up vowing we will never scold our kids again.

I am tying a few ways that sometimes help. I have started switching off these days, whenever my irritation level hits its peak and I know I cant take it anymore, I stop everything and decide to become a baby along with my baby. I enjoy with her, taking part in whatever it is she is doing and indulging in some simple childish fun. I sing and dance with her, paint on old newspapers spread out on the floor, play with soft toys and sit and watch animation movies while eating popcorns.

When I look around I see things are not 'perfect', the house isnt clean and dinner isnt ready...I can see there are many things pending, I can see the amount of work that is still left to be done.... But when I see that smile on her face and realise how much it means to her to be with her mommy, I can give up everything else and just be there for her....

Sometimes, it is ok to let go of those things that we feel are a more important priority and need our immediate attention.. Instead, it is not only okay, but wonderful to just let go of all worries for some time and be a kid once again with your little one... Being a mom is a 24*7 profile, a job without pay, without leaves, without bonus or portfolio, and certainly one that is not much appreciated by others as it should be. But for those of us who are the mums, we know how important and fulfilling it is to be a mum, we know what it means to us and how incomplete we feel without our kids. To all us mums....it is ok to be angry and upset sometimes and not try and be 'perfect' all the time, what is important is that we sit down and spend time with our kids, letting them know we are there with them always, being their best friends till the new ones have not made an appearance, and just enjoy these special priceless years, before our little birds leave our arms and fly out into the world.

To all the mums everywhere - you are amazing !!!!


* For more such stories on the experience called 'PARENTING', visit My Little One And Me

Yummy veggie / chicken momos


A sure-shot hit with kids, steamed momos can be used in many innovative ways to make your kids eat those vegetables and other healthy food. Since these are not fried, you can make it a fairly routine snack - ideally once a week would be good as it will not be too much 'maida' intake for kids, while a week-long gap will keep the young taste-buds tickling.

Ingredients:

kneaded maida (refined flour)
finely chopped steamed vegetables of your choice (the vegetables should be steamed first so that it is easier for the younger ones to bite and digest)
garlic
a hint of black pepper
salt to taste
water and a vessel for steaming
a little refined oil for greasing
grated carrot and cheese for garnishing

Preparation:
In a pan, heat some oil and put in the vegetables. Stir lightly and take care not to fry or over-cook them.
Put in a hint of black pepper and salt and garlic and keep stirring.
Once done, take it off the gas and keep aside. We do not want the vegetables to get over-cooked.
Now take the dough and roll out thin small circles.

Put oil in the vessel and put it to heat on the gas.

Touch a little oil to your finger and grease one round of the maida circles.
On this greasy side, put the filling you prepared. Take care not to put too much filling and keep a good space at the edges.
Now close the round by pressing the dough edges together. You can make them in moon-shapes or simple bowl shapes. Mix and match the shapes to make it interesting for your little ones.
Now steam the dumplings for about 10 minutes (or till well-cooked). Remember, we have already steamed the vegetables, so we only need to give enough time for the maida to get cooked.
Once they are off the gas and properly cooled to room temperature, place some grated carrots and cheese on the momos and serve.

Suggested stuffings: vegetables, corn, peas, chicken, dry fruits, grated apples

Corn / Peas / Raisin Idli


Ok, so I am not going to tell you how to make the idli batter at home, simply because,these days, almost every local grocery store and obviously all the supermarkets have ready-made idli batter that you just need to take home and start using. No getting together the ingredients, no waking up and remembering you forgot to soak the dal and rice last night, no messy and noisy and time-consuming grinding. I know, our mothers used to do all this at home, but these days it only makes sense to use the facilities we have, especially as when you use these batters you will realise how convenient they are.

These idlis would be great in the school lunch-box, as well as prove good to be served in that 5-o'clock snack time.

Ingredients:
Idli batter
a little raai (mustard seeds)
salt to taste
a little refined oil for greasing
boiled peas and corn - mashed
raisins
thin sliced tomatoes
boiled and finely chopped mushrooms
grated carrots
coconut cut into small pieces
a little mint leaves


Preparation:

In the idli batter, put some raai and salt as per taste. Mix well.

Grease the idli maker.

Take a small quantity of the idli paste and pour it in one of the idli-maker tray.

Now put a thin slice of tomato and put some more idli batter on top.

Similarly, repeat the process as you begin to fill the other trays. Use mushrooms in some, corn, raisins and peas and grated carrots in the other.

Now put the flame on medium and steam the batter for about 20 minutes or as is required.

Once you put off the flame let it cool for another 15-20 minutes. Now take a knife and put it slowly in the idlis. If it comes out clean it means the idli is cooked. If there is any batter in the knife, you may need to steam it a little more.

For the chutney, grind the coconuts in the mixer using some water and salt. Chop the mint leaves and put it in the coconut paste. Use this as a dip with the idlis.

Suggested fillings: You can also use eggs with the idlis. Beat the egg in a bowl. Put a little amount of idli batter in the idli-maker tray. Now put some of the egg over the same and then put some more idli batter. Steam for making idli. Your egg-idli will be ready. You can make a tomato dip or use some tomato sauce to go with the same.

Egg Dosa


Dosas can be made at home using the same batter that you get in the market for making idlis. Since these will not be excessively fried and we are also using eggs, it will make for a nice filling and healthy snack for your child.

If you want to make it even more healthier, you can also use batter that is made out of naachni (raagi) or daliya.

Ingredients:
Dosa/Idli batter
Salt to taste
a few seeds of raai (mustard seeds)
a pinch of heeng (asafoetida)
water to mix with the batter
butter or refined oil
beaten eggs

Preparation:

In the batter, put in a pinch of salt, a few raai seeds and salt as per taste.

Now pour some water and mix to make a consistent batter, that is neither too thick nor too liquidy.

Take a non-stick tawa, preferably the ones you get in the market for making dosas, as the batter will not stick on the pan. Put some butter/oil and let it heat.

Now take a ladle and using the same, pour the batter on the tawa and spread it nicely, moving the ladle in the same direction. Do not panic if it seems the dosa is getting torn in the middle. It will be fine as it begins to cook.

Sprinkle a little oil on the edges so that it does not stick on the pan, and also to make it crispier.

Once the dosa begins to cook, take the beaten egg and pour it slowly on the dosa with a spoon. Make an even layer.

Take care to cook the dosa on low/medium flame.

When one side begins to turn a golden brown, turn it to cook the other side.

Once done, take it off the tawa and place a blob of butter on the dosa.

For the dip:
Make a coconut paste, mix it with a little water, mint leaves and salt.

Spring Roll Dosa


This is the regular dosa but with a Chinese twist. Good for a change of taste.

Ingredients:
Dosa/Idli batter
Salt to taste
water to mix with the batter
butter or refined oil
very finely chopped vegetables (cabbage,capsicum,beans,carrots,beetroot)
finely chopped onions
garlic
corn
vinegar and soya sauce
black pepper
tomato ketchup or tomato sauce

Preparation:

For the filling:

In a pan, pour some oil and put in the chopped onions and garlic. Stir for a while.

Now put in the other vegetables and corn and stir.

Put salt as per taste.

Cover with a lid and cook on medium flame.

Keep checking till the vegetables are properly cooked, use some water if required.

You may also use boiled or steamed vegetables as it will cook faster.

Add some vinegar and soya sauce and let it cook.

Add a little tomato ketchup.

Once the vegetables are properly cooked, take them off the gas and keep aside.

For Dosa:

Pour some water and mix to make a consistent batter that is neither too thick nor too liquidy.

Take a non-stick tawa, preferably the ones you get in the market for making dosas, as the batter will not stick on the pan. Put some butter/oil and let it heat.

Now take a ladle and using the same, pour the batter on the tawa and spread it nicely, moving the ladle in the same direction. Do not panic if it seems the dosa is getting torn in the middle. It will be fine as it begins to cook.

Sprinkle a little oil on the edges so that it does not stick on the pan, and also to make it crispier.

Take care to cook the dosa on low/medium flame.

When one side begins to turn a golden brown, turn it to cook the other side.

Once done, take the filling we made earlier and put it on the dosa.

Roll the dosa and tuck in the edges properly so that the stuffing does not come out.

Once the edges are firmly sealed, cut the dosa into small cubes.

Garnish with cut tomatoes and cucumbers and a few strings of noodles.....

Banana and Honey Rolls


This one is a simple yet power-packed snack, rich with the goodness of roti, the energy of banana and the delicious and curing properties of honey.

Ingredients:

kneaded dough (atta)
mashed banana
honey
butter

Preparation:

Roll out small rounds of dough and make rotis.

Mix the mashed banana and honey and place it on one side of the roti, leaving enough space at the edges.

Roll the roti and seal the edges with honey. Do not put too much stuffing else it will spill out as you cut.

Heat butter in a pan and place the rolls carefully, so as not to break.

Turn and fry lightly and remove from the gas as they begin to turn a golden-brown.

Cut the roll into small pieces.

Ready to eat.

The Rules of the FIFA World Cup between a modern-day couple..


A few days back as I was scanning through my mailbox, I received a mail from my husband who was at work....rather, it was a set of rules for the DOs and DONTs during the FIFA season. Apparently, it had landed in his mail box from a colleague and as the rules were exactly what he had in mind, he wasted no time in letting me know the same.

The begining of his mail read:

Dear Wife/Sweetheart/Girlfriend/Partner/whomever it may concern.....

And in response to this, I sent him my own agreement draft. The details of both our dialogues are as follows:

1.
Hubby: Between 11 June and 11 July 22010, you should read the sports section of the newspaper so that you are aware of what is going on regarding the World of Soccer, and that way you will be able to join in the conversations. If you fail too do this, then you will be looked at in a bad way, or you will be totally ignored. DO NOT complain about not receiving any attention.

Me: Between 11th June and 11th July, as along with all other days, I will duly NOT read the sports section. I may choose to check out the faces of those ‘sporty’ guys though ;)

2.
Hubby: During the World Cup, the television is mine, at all times, without any exceptions. If you even take a glimpse of the remote control, you will lose it (your eye).

Me: During the World Cup,IPL,Wimbledon, FIFA, test cricket, one-day matches and every other boring match and occasion and EVERY SINGLE day, the television is MINE and if you need it badly, you may ask me, beg me, or better still, get me a gift for each of these particular evenings so that I have something else to occupy my mind with while you take over my TV for some time.

3.
Hubby: If you have to pass by in front of the TV during a game, I don't mind, as long as you do it crawling on the floor and without distracting me.

Me: While you are watching the TV, if you do not wish me to get in the path of you and your matches, you would be required to take over the initiative and pass me whatever it is that I may be needing.

4.
Hubby: During the games I will be blind, deaf and mute, unless I require a refill of my drink or something to eat. You are out of your mind if you expect me to listen to you, open the door, answer thee telephone, or pick up the baby that just fell on the floor....It won't happen.

Me: Since you are perennially blind, deaf and never mute (how I wish this single one were true!) it is no deviation from our normal routine and hence all your requests of not answering the door, or the phone or taking care of the baby are nullified. In case you wish to still display the same, please remember our wedding vows that we are partners in all situations, so if you choose to become deaf and blind, forgive me dear husband, but I don’t have any other choice but to not become deaf and blind myself. I have to inform you with regret that all your requests for food or drink shall fall on deaf ears.

5.
Hubby: It would be a good idea for you to keep at least 2 six packs in the fridge at all times, as well as plenty of things to nibble on (excluding your body parts), and please do not make any funny faces to my friends when they come over to watch the games. In return,, you will be allowed to use the TV between 12am and 6amm, unless they replay a good game that I missed during the day.

Me: Your friends are free to bring their own snack along as I am a good host and will not interfere with their personal food choice. About the fridge, do not fear cause the entire fridge will be yours to fill up, as on these days, keeping your food and fridge requirements in mind, I will not dare to cook and stock up ingredients and other things in the fridge. Hence the option of call-in has already been decided and the menus duly placed on the dresser.

6.
Hubby: Please, please, please!! If you see me upset because one of my teams is losing, DO NOT say "get over it, it's only a game", or "don't worry, they'll win next time"". If you say these things, you will only make me angrier and I will love you less. Remember, you will never ever know more about football than me and your so called "words of encouragement"" will only lead to a break up or divorce.

Me: My dear husband, I fully understand your ‘understanding’ of the game, as it is only because of your ‘special knowledge’ status that you have never been on a ‘real’ football field ever (PS: TV gaming not included). I can understand your constant need for approval, since you got none when you dreamed of becoming a football star in many of those teenage fantasies, hence I will not indulge further in bringing it to your notice. I will rather have a good laugh later when there are more people to spread the joy with.

7.
Hubby: You are welcome to sit with me to watch one game and you can talk to me during halftime but only when the commercials are on, and only if the half time scores is pleasing me. In addition, please note I am saying "one" game ; hence do not use the World Cup as a nice cheesy excuse to "spend time together".

Me: Please remember your offer that you will NOT talk to me. And please do not. Thank you in advance. I will most likely use the time to go out with my girl-friends and shop, so even if happen to see any card bills during those time, please do NOT talk.

8.
Hubby: The replays of the goals are very important. I don't care if I have seen them or I haven't seen them, I want to see them again, Manny times.

Me: Please keep seeing the replays and the ads and everything. I would not mind if you would like to keep all these days to yourself. The malls and various bookstores and clothes outlets have already banked on these ‘days’ to lure their female customers. I love you for giving me the freedom to carry on my pursuits at leisure.

9.
Hubby: Tell your friends NOT to have any babies, or any other child related parties or gatherings that requires my attendance because:
a) I will not go,
b) I will not go, and
c) I will not go.
But, if a friend of mine invites us to his house on a Sunday to watch a game, we will be there in a flash.

Me: Please remember that YOU WILL NOT GO. We are most likely going to host a few parties at the nearby hotels.

10.
Hubby: The daily World Cup highlights show on TV every night is just as important as the games themselves. Do not even think about saying "but you have already seen this...why don't you change the channel to something we can all watch?" because, the reply will be, "Refer to Rule #2 of this list".

Me: Please refer to point 8.

11.
Hubby: And finally, please save your expressions such as "Thank Good the World Cup is only every 4 years". I am immune to these words, because before and after this comes the Champions League, Premier League, Italian League, Spanish League, KPL, FAA Cup, Euro Cup, etc.

Me: Please refer to point 8.

12.
Hubby: P/S
By the way, if you get stuck on the road call the Police or AAA.
Thank you for your cooperation.

Me: Please refer to point 8 again as I will not be home to say any of this. And if I get stuck, I always have the option of checking into a nearby hotel to save myself the hassle of calling someone up ☺
Thanks for being so understanding and so undemanding. You have the entire kitchen and fridge to yourself and the menu cards of all nearby and local food joints will be duly placed at an arm’s length. Please feel free to not call or talk to me for any of these during these days.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Thanks Maa - Worth a watch.


The Hindi movie industry, Bollywood, though situated in the celluloid capital of India - Mumbai, has time and again showed its insensitivity to the city and its occupants by failing to show a real picture of what lies beneath the glossy veneer. And the director of Thanks Maa has drawn inspiration for his film from these real-life incidents that have regularly managed to grab headline space in the nation's leading dailies - issues involving infants being abandoned in dustbins and in hospital wards and in temples, small children left to themselves to beg and steal in order to feed their hungry selves, small girls on the streets who are always eyed by the pimps as a potential money-pot, girls from affluent families who are sexually exploited by their fathers, cheating husbands, prostitutes who have known only how to sell their bodies but will do anything to save their children from a similar plight....There is no dearth of 'real' topics that are there beneath all the lights, glamour, action and romance that is the norm in our film industry, but there is a dearth of filmmakers who would have the guts to attempt something 'real' without being preachy or judgemental and this is where Thanks Maa scores.

Though in the past there have been a meager amount of movies like Salaam Bombay and more recently SlumDog Millionaire, based on the street kids who are left to fend for themselves from almost the time they are born, the Mumbai urchins have hardly every been shown on reel in a 'real' light. A few filmmakers have tried to incorporate a very little segment of these slum kids into real cinema, but hardly does anyone be willing enough to make a movie that will focus on the plight of these young and helpless children, who are always out there in the world that exists behind our car windows, who are not really a part of 'our' lives, but who, we believe each time we see their apathy, will somehow survive, as they are born with the instinct to fight and survive.

The Cast and Crew:
Director - Irfan Kamal
Actors - Shams (Municipality), Salman (Soda), Jaafer (Dhed Shaana), Faayaz (Cutting), Almas (Sursuri), Barry John (the church Father), Raghubir Yadav (the municipal hospital peon), Ranvir Shorey (the cheating husband), Alok Nath (the pedophile), Sanjay Mishra (the drugged cab driver), Mukta Barve (prostitute Laxmi)

PLOT:
The plot is based on the incidents of infant abandonment in Mumbai. Thanks Maa is the story of 5 street kids in Mumbai - Municipality, Soda, Dhed-Shaana, Cutting and Sursuri, who live in the garbage dump and over gutters and near railway platforms and try and make some change by pickpocketing unsuspecting passengers on the platform. The protagonist, Municipality, was abandoned in the municipal hospital at birth and hence named Municipality by the hospital peon (Yadav).It has been almost 10 years now but the boy,who now lives on the streets, still comes every day to meet Yadav and ask him if his ma has come back looking for him. Yadav will not give information,which is always a NO,without being given a bottle of the local liquor and Municipality has to do everything to ensure he earns money so that he can buy that bottle that may bring news of his ma.

After one such pickpocketing incident, Municipality is caught by the police and sent to the remand home. Here he is met by the superintendent (Alok Nath) who is a pedophile and makes his intentions very clear. Somehow,Municipality manages to break free of his clutches and is almost about to run away from the building when he sees a taxi stopping at the entrance,a woman steps out,leaves something on the steps and then disappears in the taxi. As the scared boy is about to run away,he realises a dog is biting at the bundle and curious,he turns to take a look,only to discover to his horror, that the bundle is nothing else but a new-born baby.He picks up the baby and decides to find its mother and return the infant.

Thus begins a heart-wrenching journey where Municipality realises that there is no one else beside him who will actually help the baby get back to its mother. He names the infant Krish, so that no one can call it an orphan or something like 'Municipality'. On the way he comes across many characters like a cheating husband, a cabbie who thrives on drugs, a prostitute, a eunuch, a pimp, a father who sexually exploits his own daughter and other believable characters who regularly feature in the newspapers.

One scene that really touched my heart was when Municipality goes to a hospital in search of a certain ward-boy who can help him about the identity of the infant's mother. After speaking to the receptionist, all the kids thank her, because she spoke to them 'nicely'..'Thanks, aapney humse itney achchhey se baat kiya'...for everyone else they have met has either shooed them away or beaten and abused them.

The street life of Mumbai comes alive with the performances of these kids,who are slum kids in real life as well. The National Award for the protagonist Municipality is definitely most deserving. All the children have given an incredible performance, in fact their portrayals are so strong that it is impossible to believe they are merely acting, that is the beauty of these little actors.

The director has taken care to keep most of the things genuine. The language for one, none of the child actor is uncomfortable mouthing abuses that many of us will never utter in our lives. We see how these little kids, who barely earn enough to have a meal, feel that forty rupees is a big amount and can buy them a new pair of shirt and trousers, as they have only one dress, the one they are wearing. One of the kids (barely 7) has got a job of cleaning utensils in a hotel and dreams of becoming a builder when he grows up. As the others mock him, he lays out his plans: 'pehley bartan ghisega, phir table pochhega, phir aarder lega, phir meneger banega, phir bada aadmi banega, bilding banaayega.' But he desperately needs to buy a shirt out of the 40 rupees he has, as otherwise the guard will not allow him to enter the hotel since his dress is so dirty. When Soda and Municipality have a fight, the latter's shirt is torn and he cries, as this was the only shirt he had. Throughout the film he is shown wearing the torn shirt.

Through the 2 days that Municipality has the baby, he becomes its mother, trying every possible thing to find some milk for the baby, cleaning it when it dirties itself, putting it to sleep, talking to the baby and assuring that he will take it to its mother. He gets so attached to the baby that hardly does he let anyone else take it from his arms. The fear of having been separated from his own mother is so strong in the boy that he cannot bear to think another innocent should end up growing like him.

His emotions are brilliantly portrayed in one especially touching scene towards the end of the movie when he is almost on the verge of finding the infant's mother, he holds it in his arms and says: "Mujhpe to saara din moota, main bura nahin maana, par ma ke paas jaakey thhoda kam karna, nahi to woh bolegi kitna ganda hai, mujhey nahi chaahiye. Main har Sunday aayega tujhe milney.Mujhey bhoolega to nahi na? Par bachpan ka kahaan yaad rehta hai? Galat hai na, bachpan ka time to yaad rehney ka.Mujhey yaad rehta to main bhi apni maa ko jhat se dhoondh leta."

The film is filled with hindi abuses and not one dialogue is left without expletives,something that would be common in a 'real' street setting as well. The director has not tried to show a clean or beautiful frame in the movie, instead, the movie has been shot in real locations like real slums, dumping grounds, platforms, temples and the like and the characters are all real as well.

Watch this movie only for Municipality and the rest of the kids. Do not expect big roles from the seasoned actors as they have brief appearances and the entire movie pulls a winner on the performances of the children alone. Watch it only if you can digest a movie without an exposing female lead, without a six-pack-ab hero, without the 'naach-gaana' and the choreographed moves, without breathtaking locales, without designer clothes and accessories, and most important of all, without a feel-good plot. Cause this movie will not end with a fairytale 'happily-ever-after', making you think that life is all good and rosy... It will force you to think of someone else other than you and your perfect world, it will make you realise that, sometimes, with just a smile or a little helping hand,you can make a world of difference to those little young faces that look at you from the other side of your car window.

The pen and the keyboard......


I have always loved to write. Ever since I have been a kid I have loved the strokes a pen can make to bring different styles to life. I remember when I was learning to write the alphabets my ma would always teach me how to hold the pencil, how to position the paper, the way my fingers should be wrapped around the pencil and how, by just a flourish of the hand, I could write and decorate the same alphabet in many different styles.

Those first years of my life when I was just a beginner, ma had already started to inculcate in me a deep love for the written word, both reading as well as writing. My teachers were impressed by my love for the cursive writing. While others in my class wrote in the simple and usual styles, my notebooks, and I mean the regular ones with paper in them, not the digital notebooks that the term ‘notebook’ has taken on now and I don’t know why, would be filled with lines and lines of cursive writing flowing in different directions, a bend here, a strike there, some alphabets soaring up while some were coiled and designed like a vine. They would ask me who taught me to write like this and I would always tell them with a certain amount of pride that it was my ma.

That love for the cursive and for the pen and paper has still not faded I can safely say.

Last year, on my daughter’s birthday, I decided to invite her friends in a very traditional style. I decided I would send her friends a hand-made invite. I got a roll of rough paper and a few colourful pens and with my imagination, created a card that was filled with my cursive. Later on, the parents of each child I had sent the card to called me to tell they had never received such a lovely and different card for a child’s birthday party. I was glad.

These days, almost all our writing has shifted over to typing on the keyboard. Whether it is a journal, a diary, a collection of your thoughts, letter, text, budgeting, account of important events, even something as personal as a birthday card – we do it all on the computer/laptop. The romance that was earlier there between the paper and the pen has almost ceased to exist.

When was the last time you sent a letter to someone by snail mail? Or bought a card from the store and scrawled a few lines on the paper to wish them a happy birthday (or some similarly special occasion?) Or sent a hand-written love note to your special someone? Maybe sat down with pen and paper to do a few checks on the home budget? Or, say, wrote down your important appointments and upcoming events in a diary? Well, did you? I am sure you didn’t, and even if you did one or two of the above, there is no way you would have done all of these in the span of the last few months….Am I right?

And what am I saying.... I have recently finished my first manuscript and am on to the second one, and yes, they have all been on my laptop... not a single word was written on paper!!!!! And when I told my ma that I had finished the manuscript, she asked me to be careful with the paper....Of course she never could imagine that it would all be on paper,and neither did I imagine that she might think like this and I would have to explain...A manuscript for her meant a writing on paper, while for me, the same meant a Word or PDF file on my laptop!!! Should I blame the cliched generation-gap here?

Sadly, the most pen and paper linkups we allow these days are the ones that are kind of mundane and ordinary: Like.....

Making a list for groceries

Sitting with the crossword

Leaving a note for the milkman/newspaper guy to let them know you will be out of town and will take deliveries from the mentioned date

Helping your child with homework….this too is going to change a lot as your child moves to a higher grade. My daughter is just in pre-nursery and already her assignments have to be downloaded from the website!!!!!

Jotting down a recipe from the TV (thats kind of rare too)

Ummm….. I have run out of options already……

I still love the magic a pen can create on paper, and I am glad I have not evolved enough to give that up completely. As for my daughter, she too seems to be going in the same direction. And oh girl, am I glad!

Monday, June 7, 2010

The first monsoon showers of 2010 in Mumbai

Finally, the heat is a thing of the past for the next 2 months atleast, barring the few dry humid spells that will sure come in between. Can't help but share a few of the snaps of the cooling monsoons :)