Saturday, January 31, 2009

Twenty one month letter

Dear Adi,

Twenty one months is uncomfortably close to two years and since I am not ready for that at all, we will just skim over that part very quickly.

Instead let's talk about all the things we have been up to in this last month. At some point, the prime and composite and in-between numbers came together and you started to count everything - cars on the road and autos in the waiting and buttons on shirts and bottles in the frig and cushions on the couch. Let nothing go uncounted and unaccounted for in your mental tally of Objects in the Universe. You seem disappointed when you cannot put your full repertoire to use and there are less than ten objects to count. What do I say, life is tough.

Even as I type this out, you're dragging the suitcases that M has deposited in the room after his recent trip and you're declaring 'bye-bye, see you, tata' and taking off for The Great Outdoors. It is becoming increasingly difficult to contain you within the four walls of the house and nothing pleases you as much as going driving-driving wherein you can get into the car and ask Pund (Pramod) to gaana chalao. Your worst nightmare is a world without music. If one moment passes when the birds don't sing which is to say that Channel V is not playing with Masakali, you repeat gaana-gaana for a minimum of three hundred times per minute. There goes your grandparents' dream of cultivating some taste for serious classical music. I guess the mother's love for Bollywood was stronger.

Your father's love for cars came through too, fortunately or otherwise. Car-car-car is a regular litany that you keep at. You are inseparable from your toy steering wheel. You see Lewis Hamilton (call him Uncle, beta) in the Vodaphone ad and declaim - Racing Car! And you see pictures of bikes to announce - Honda! and your father puffs up such that he cannot get through the door. He's talking of go-carts in the tradition of Michael Schumacher Uncle at age 4 and I am talking sense in the tradition of Eminently Sensible Mothers . Let's see how far we go in our individual endeavours.

A negative fall-out of all this developing a personality business is that you have become a picky eater, which means that you will literally pick up what you want to put in your mouth with your own two hands. The days of force-feeding are officially over, ladies and gentlemen. The boy kicks so fast and so hard that the question of forcing him into the high-chair to stuff applesauce in his mouth seems like a distant dream (and is probably is). Now it is all about pursuing you all over the house with plate in hand, something I swore I would never do (have some crow for dinner, Mom!). The other alternative is to give you my precious iPhone (Mama phone) so that you can smear oil all over it and push the settings to some unknown place and search for the beloved gaana on the inbuilt iPod while I try to put nourishment in your body. Some people would say that it's a small price to pay. I would tell such people that you are effectively eating every meal at a five-star in that case. The other bribe is Voldemort (that which must not be named) but that sort of crashes the premise of healthy nutrition down to the ground. Now is the first time that I feel that I have a small boy in the house and not a baby.

To borrow from that infuriatingly sentimental and unputdownable book, you are the one flash of brilliance in an otherwise ordinary life.



Friday, January 30, 2009

Got you!

I was speaking to my sister yesterday.

Me: Heylo, what's happening?
Isha: I love Valentino's new perfume - Very Valentino.
Me: Oh?
Isha: Yes! It's great. I am planning to become a fan on Facebook.
Me: Because unless you do that, there's no way anyone would believe that you like this perfume.
Isha: Absolutely! (Launches into a story about how her two best friends got into a messy situation because they did not manage their relationship status on Facebook efficiently enough)
Me; Um, um.
Isha: Anyway, so you should also become a fan of Very Valentino.
Me: Sure thing, except that I've never even smelt this fragrance.
Isha: Is it? So why don't you just trot along to Shopper's Stop and smell it?
Me: Hain?


When we first took Adi to the beach at Goa, it was quite late in the evening. He couldn't see a thing and all he could hear was the crash of the waves. Predictably enough, he refused to get down and stuck to me. To soothe him, I kept saying - 'It's ok baby, I got you. See, I got you. Don't be scared, I got you.' Consequently now Adi believes that the sea/ocean/beach etc are all called 'Got you'. He sees pictures of the same in magazines and books, he sees them on television, he looks at me out of his wise eyes and tells me - Mama, got you!


Speaking of which, Mahesh is currently in Mauritius on work. Who goes to Mauritius on work? you ask. Well, you should ask him so that he can launch into a complicated and highly boring explanation involving tax structures and double taxation and that sort of nonsense. Anyway, I am most jealous. How come I never landed a job that sent me to exotic beach locations for work? All I got was Modinagar and Vijayawada and the like. It's just as well that it's freakishly hot and humid in Mauritius right now. Apparently our man is putting the AC at minus five degrees or attempting to anyway and still sweating buckets. Nature's on my side.


I abandoned 'Marley and Me' (Jennifer Aniston will star in the movie version, I believe) as soon as I got my paws on 'Outliers'. I am a huge fan of Malcolm Gladwell and finished the book in three days, something that I don't do anymore. MG makes sense of the world in ways hitherto unforeseen. I don't do reviews but I do recommend it if you haven't read it already.

Crossword's on sale. I bought yet another pile of books that will go into the bookshelf and will await their turn to be read. Currently the waiting list is at about five years so they need to be really patient. Seriously, when do moms read? I am all for suggestions.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

The tooth that has not been nailed. Yet.

Right, so this is about the time that I should stop taking in undeserved sympathy and cheering messages, though I absolutely loved all the attention. The tooth is not out. I think my wisdom took flight at the mere mention of the tooth moving residence - otherwise there was no reason why I should have even contemplated having dental work done unless it was absolutely necessary (read, been in unbearable pain).

I saw the good doctor to complain about my teeth grinding problem. (I have been a confirmed teeth grinder pretty much since birth. Much like an exaggerator.) They did an x-ray to assess the dental situation and while we were at it, it revealed a gum-pocket in the wisdom tooth. The good doctor suggested extracting it. Now pain is a relative thing. As soon as the word extraction was uttered, I forgot all about the gentle ache that was caused by the teeth grinding and started obsessing about the absolutely horrific pain that would be caused by the pulling out of the said tooth.

Well, what do you say - asked the doctor, shall we take it out. Yeah, I guess, I said and miserably came back home. An appointment was fixed and for the next five days, I took the antibiotics as ordered. Then the day of the appointed extraction came and I decided that I needed second opinion. I mean, why remove something before it's due, right? I will wait till the same wisdom tooth causes me to tear my hair out with the radiating pain before I have it taken out. And oh while we are on the topic, I was also supposed to have my bite corrected and a silicon guard put on my teeth to prevent me from grinding them and there was also talk of braces doing the rounds. Essentially by the time they would have done with me, I would have not recognized my own bloody (literally perhaps, scary thought) mouth.

And so, the tooth remains intact. I continue to grind my teeth. All is well.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Clash of the titans

I almost didn't tell you about how Mahesh and I stayed up late to watch Ashutosh Gowarikar take on Sajid Khan at the Star Screen Awards 2009. It was well worth it, my friends. Please watch this video before this particular intellectual conversation can achieve the depths it is destined to.

Part 1: It starts off with Ashutosh Gowarikar (AG) declaring that he wasn't expecting an award considering the way things were going (Rock On had made a clean sweep). Farhaan Akhtar looks really pissed off. Little does he know that very soon it won't be about Jodha Akbar vs. Rock On at all.

Part 2: AG then announces that he is as capable of making personal remarks and making fun of people as Sajid Khan (SK). Sajid Khan is willing to share the dubious distinction. AG will have none of it and asks Sajid not to interrupt. Sajid complies. No one speaks for some time. At this point Mahesh turned to me and asked if 'Don't interrupt' applied to AG as well as SK. Mahesh has no sense of propriety.

Part 3: AG relaunches his offensive. Hrithik Roshan looks like he is going to cry. But then Hrithik Roshan looked like he was going to cry when he gave a thumbs-up to the Indian cricket team - 'Hero-Honda family ki taraf se, best of luck, India' so I think he's just easily moved.

Part 4: AG tells SK to shut up. SK feels very hurt. Both of them declare their eternal friendship for each other. Ronnie Screwwallah is seen visibly perturbed with the words 'yaar, main kahan phans gaya?' tattooed on his forehead. AG coins new words such as 'ernesty'.

Part 5: Sajid Khan decides to salvage his tattered izzat and goes into film dialogue mode - Mera naam Sajid Khan Hai, he portents. Kisi mein itni himmat nahin hai ki mujhe shut up kar sake. Tad late for that, I would imagine but I keep quiet because I have great respect for great economists. Economist? Agar TV shows nahin banenge toh recession aur badhega, he says and everyone nods along in agreement.

Part 6: Farah Khan decides she needs to nibaho the rakhi ka bandhan and snatches the mike to announce to all and sundry that Star Screen Awards take the pants off Oscars anyday and she and bro were just trying to have a good time. AG mimes his disapproval from the stands but no one really knows what is being said. At this point the show draws to an end and we can all take some time out to soothe our aching sides.

I can't wait for next year.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Back from Goa

Goa was just splendid this time! Well, Goa hasn’t changed of course. It was always lovely. What has changed is the Adi who went with us in September 2007, when he was just four months old, hand-held and exclusively breastfed, a helpless kitten of a baby who would spend all his time feeding and (us trying to make him) sleep. At that time, we always ordered room service, went to the beach a grand total of once and spent all our time taking him for long walks in the stroller in the hot and humid weather. I did posts on that, you know. Here and here.

Things were different this time. We took him to the beach every evening and he played endlessly in the sand. We tried out each and every restaurant. We lolled by the pool (he can’t swim yet). We gave him all sorts of outside food – noodles, muffins, pizza and whole apples. We even managed to sneak in a couple of cocktails (I checked with the good doctor, he said I could, so make that the brilliant doctor). All in all, this time Goa was much better this time.

The green blur is Adi, I assure you

Then why is it that I miss that little bundle that he used to be so much? Do you hear me, Whoever was Responsible for Making My Baby Grow Up, I’d like to get my little one back, please. I don’t think I am ready for all this toddler business, thank you very much.

Stroll me, will ya? I will stroll you!

That's the only way you can get his face in a picture

Of course the fact that he is taking interest in all sorts of things instead of being happy just watching the fan whirr is also a negative. The passion of the moment is racing cars. And normal cars. And autos. And buses. Anything that moves on gasoline basically. Sometimes, even electric cars will do, as they did in Goa. He climbed in on one of the hotel’s carts and refused to be taken out. Finally when we got really tired of watching over him, we hauled him out forcibly. He launched a meltdown of mammoth proportions. Let’s just say that the Park Hyatt lost all rights to advertise itself as peaceful, tranquil and calm after that one tantrum.

The hotel was also hosting one of the most accomplished actors of our times – Riteish Deshmukh. At one point we found ourselves sitting on the table next to his. Adi fixed him with a beady-eyed stare and for a few sickening moments I was quite certain that he would scream – Mama, guitar! alluding of course to that all-time classic Dekha to tujhe yaar, dil mein baji guitar. Thankfully though Adi seemed to be interested in him only to answer that deeply mysterious question – why is that Uncle wearing dark sunglasses indoors? Is he afraid that people might gasp, recognize him and then proceed to gasp, gasp mob him? Of course Adi doesn’t know yet that his mother was perhaps the only Mini Celeb Spotter in the vicinity.

Alright, on to other things.

One of the finest observations I came up on this trip is that people wear clothes in inverse proportion to the total quantum of fat in their body.

In Goa. Only.

Thank God.

Mahesh and Adi spent a lot of time together, leaving me some time to get some writing done. At some point, Adi wanted Mahesh to sing his favourite song of the moment – Masakali (feat. pinjun aka pigeon).
: Daddy, masakai, masakai?

: Of course, darling. Masakali, masakali, kar le tu kathakali.

I am telling you the boy doesn’t stand a change of growing up sane.

On our first night there, I decided that I need to teach Adi the story of Ramayan. We were going pretty smoothly till we reached the part about Bali and Sugreev and I just could not remember how Hanuman entered the picture. I asked Mahesh for help.
Me: Hey, so what was Hanuman doing with Bali and Sugreev?
: Hanuman was Sugreev’s flunk.

Well, nothing to do about that except moving on.

So that was my trip in a nutshell. I hope you had a good Republic Day too. Now, I am off to sulk about my wisdom tooth that will part company with me tomorrow. Sigh, in every life some rain and all that.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Gain before pain

I am off to Goa on Friday. A swank resort, my two boys in tow, the loverly beach and loads of alcohol. Does la vita get any more dolce? I doubt it, though pardon my Italian. (I have just hung my 2009 Italian Films calendar on my wall and feel obliged to break into the romance language at any given/stolen/snatched opportunity). Oh Goa, where one starts to feel ten pounds lighter and under the delusion, starts dressing it too. Goa, where Long Island Ice Tea with breakfast was the norm for at least one babyfree woman. Goa, where stress melts away under the massage on the beach, where moonlight walks by the sea are de rigueur (why stop at Italian, I ask) and where cellphones should not and sometimes do not work.


Don't you wish you were in my shoes? Er, floaters?


Because my dear reader, the same floaters-wearer is also due for wisdom tooth extraction upon her return from Goa. Ouch is my middle name. What has put me at the absolute pinnacle of misery is the fact that I am now on antibiotics. Which means no alcohol. NO ALCOHOL. In Goa! Goa will never forgive me, I know. All my dreams of nursing (alright, not so much nursing as swigging with alarming speed) pomegranate and passionfruit martinis on the beach are dashed to the ground, blown into smithereens. Destroyed, at any rate.

Life is a bitch. You heard it here first. Or maybe you didn't. What does it matter? What does anything matter? No alcohol in Goa. I might as well hang up my Jimmy Choos and retire to a life of yoga in the mornings and satsang in the eve.

Oh and I don't have Jimmy Choos but you sure look nice in that shade of green.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Where are you from?

If you are like me (and of course I hope you are not), you must have been asked this question at every point in your life. People need to do a quick mental map of a person's origins before they proceed to put them into stereotypes. In my case, this conversation normally run this:

Stranger: Hello
Parul: Hello
S: Are you a Punjabi?
P: No.
S: Then how come you are so fair?
P: My father was very fair.
S: You are also very tall.
P: My mom is very tall.
S: So then, where are you from?
P: I think I am from UP.
S: Oh, where in UP?
P: Um, I can't say for sure. I was born in Meerut but I studied in Dehradun. And Aligarh. All over, really.
S: Yes, but what is your native place?
P: Err, define native place.
S: Where is home for you?
P: Bangalore!
S: Huh? But you are from UP, no?
P: But you asked me where I felt at home, no?
S: No, no, I mean, like, where did you go in your school summer holidays?
P: Meerut.
S: Oh, so your father's family is in Meerut.
P: No, my father's family is no more.
S: Oh, tch, tch, so where were they from?
P: Originally?
S: Yes.
P: Pakistan. And my father spoke Pushto.
S: Aise toh, most families were from there.
P: I agree.
S: So after partition, where did your father's family settle?
P: Umm, Bulandshahr.
S: Oh, so you are from Bulandshahr! Do you know Ramkrishan ji?
P: Nopes, I have never been to Bulandshahr in my life.
S: Uff, so where are your parents now?
P: My mom's in Delhi. (think about making it Gurgaon but let it pass)
S :Then you are from Delhi.
P: Maybe. I did study and work in Delhi for some time.
S: Ahh, yes, it's settled. You are from Delhi. That makes you a Punjabi, no?
P: Auuughhhhh!

I am not the only one who has to go through this on a regular basis. The lord and master too needs to bear some of this curiousity.

Stranger: Hello.
Mahesh: Hello.
S: Are you from Mumbai?
M: Uh, yes, I guess, I work here.
S: That's ok but where is your native place?
M: Well, I am a Tamilian but I have really been brought up in Delhi.
S: No, no, where were you born?
M: Um, Calcutta.
S: Why?
M: Err, because my mom was there?
S: Hmm, so you are a Bengali.
M: Far from it.
S: Do you speak Bengali?
M: A little bit.
S: What is your mother tongue?
M: Uh, Tamil I suppose.
S: That makes you a Tamilian. Do you read and write in Tamil?
M: No.
S: Then what do you read and write in?
M: English. And some Hindi.
S: This is very confusing. Where do your parents stay?
M: Singapore.
S: Then it's decided - you're a Singaporean.
M: Auuughhhhh

I am just worried sick about how Adi will field the eternal question.

Anyway, so where are you from?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Beauty queens and trashy TV

Shehnaz Hussain may have been responsible for creating face-packs and creams that may have lightened many a skin and made them worthy of a good man's love (if competitors Fair and Lovely of yore are to believed, these days of course FAL is all about women's empowerment and liberation, yipee) but she sure makes for a scary encounter in a dark alley. All that hair surrounding her face, the face itself looking like she forgot to take a pasty face mask off, enough kaajal in her eyes to darken seven percent of the Indian female population and dresses that defy description - surely some advisor somewhere needs to tell her that she is doing the brand a huge disservice by appearing in the ads. Why, for the right price, I would be willing to do it (advise her that is, not appear in the ad). Of course, I am not speaking out of purely selfless motives, I am also terrified that one of these days Adi will watch that ad unsupervised and will be found running for all he is worth, all the while bellowing 'Bhoot, bhoot'.

Madam, kuchh to bachchon ke baare mein socho.


We've finished watching the third season of the hit American series 24 on DVD. The first two seasons were not bad, I thought. But I have had just about enough now. Season three comprised much hamming and the screenplay was written by someone on drugs providing more than just recreation. The problem with the darned thing is that it gets really addictive after the first few episodes. I cribbed endlessly about how trashy it was and continued to watch nevertheless. (Much like you and this blog, kind and consistent lurker). Anyway, it's done now and I don't have to hear people talking about 'patching things through' and 'relaying it via satellite' and 'live feeds' and 'the president is holding on line three' anymore. Such relief.

Of course that didn't stop me from googling the summary of Season Four. I am very consistent that way.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Dream run!

We were running late. Kalpana played truant in the morning and cursing her soundly I gave up on the oats nashta and the sustained release of energy that I had been planning on all along and grabbed some bread instead. We drove along the docks for what seemed like forever and reached VT terminus. I was quite convinced that we were late and would not be allowed inside the ground and started fantasizing about a nice, huge Jumbo vada-pav meal instead that has been on my to-do list forever. That was not to be.

The Dream Run is a good example of confusing nomenclature. It is not a run. It is a carnival, a huge, fun-filled, deafening carnival with thousands of people out there to support their chosen cause.

The scene at Azaad Maidan, the collecting point for the run was reminiscent of a school annual fete. If all the schools in Mumbai were to have their annual fete together, that is. We located Orange Jammies and handed over the patch that she would be wearing for India Helps. Oh, here is a picture of mine.

India Helps!

When we finally got out of the maidan and reached the street from where the run was to start, we realized that the decision to run or walk had been taken out of our hands for all practical purposes by the teeming millions surrounding us. It was like wanting to race your car in peak hour traffic. Err, I don't think we are going to run too much, pointed out M. We started to walk forward.

Mahesh, delighted that we don't have to run all the way.

It looked like much fun was to be had anyway. People were beating on their drums and blowing on their whistles. Paper confetti was being sprayed at intervals. Large groups had turned up in really colourful costumes. John Abraham was waving to the crowds from a stage at one point (probably had finished running the marathon twice over at 5 am going by his supremely fit self) and a bunch of really muscular men, having dispensed with some serious body-building had moved to brand-building for Talwalkar's gym. Forgive the hazy pictures taken with the phone.

Let's see who can beat Aneela at spotting John in this picture!

The Brawn Ultimatum

About a kilometer down the line, the crowds seemed to thin out and we started to run. It was not too bad, really except that the sun was beating down on our heads. We should have worn caps and sunglasses, we realized belatedly. I became so red We reached Marine Drive and started running by the Marine Plaza and then the Oberoi Trident. This was the first time I saw the Oberoi after the attacks. Many, many people were standing outside the hotel waving to the crowds. We took a U-turn at the NCPA apartments and ran alongside the sea. Typically this is a beautiful sight, the ocean spreads out as far as the eye can see, having a tranquil effect on the senses. When your heart is pumping so hard that you think you should just call off the run and check into the nearest hospital for what you are convinced is cardiac arrest, not so much.

A rock band performs at Marine Drive. They had a banner saying ' I heart Katrina Kaif'!

We reached the flyover in the middle of Marine Drive and it was impossible to run again (not that we wanted to, believe me). We walked on and soon (time was taking on new meanings) we were back at Azaad Maidan.

We had finished the Dream Run in forty-five minutes, as planned. Next year, the half marathon, baby.

I am only kidding. Please don't quote this back at me.

Encouraging sights seen at the Dream Run:

  • A woman walking with a small baby who could not have been more than six months. Way to go, lady!
  • John Abraham. Oh wait, I said that.
  • People running for every conceivable cause under the sun. Including Arab and Asian Cinema. Who could have known?
  • An elderly lady jumping up and down and cheering the runners, shouting- You are the heroes today!
  • Corporate teams. My vote goes to the large contingent of LIC shouting 'Zindagi ke saath bhi, zindagi ke baad bhi.' Very cool.
  • The Nausena chopper at Marine Drive. What a sexy piece of machinery!
  • The number of people who just turned up to watch and cheer on.
  • Despite the individual causes, people seemed to sense that they were there for a single reason - Mumbai.
  • Oh and I almost forgot - John Abraham.

Not so nice:

  • The unbelievable littering. I wish Kingfisher had spent as much on dustbins as they did on the water bottles
Right, and thank you for the encouraging comments in my last post, really helped!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Of commitment and chocolate

I have grand plans of running the Dream Run at the Mumbai Marathon all of six kilometers but appearing like six hundred from my level of unpreparedness.

To be honest, I started off training for it pretty hard and reasonably regularly but then somewhere along the way I started to learn squash. Between my coach's disappointed 'Stamina nahin hai kya?' and my own urge to prove to him that I could get better if I just played consistency, running got left behind, much like I will be on Sunday.

Some of this has also got to do with the fact that I lost my pregnancy weight in this last year. Motivation is called motivation for a reason.

Ah well, I can walk. No one is asking me to run. Except that I signed up to run, didn't I? Minor technical detail but one that is irking me no end.

The only thing that makes is better is that given the slow speeds at which I will be traversing, people can get leisurely eyefuls of the CRY and India Helps branding that I will be a human vehicle for.

Please insert kind words of encouragement right here. Miracles are known to happen in shorter time.


Since Adi discovered chocolate on our trip to Shimla (Santa gave Adi a Cadbury's Dairy Milk, Adi tasted some and looked accusingly at me, his wide eyes implicating me of torture- cruel mother, what have you been holding from me all this while?) , it has been difficult to keep it from him.

Cuttit is currently the object of his deepest and most sincere affections.

A fleeting glance of a CDM ad on TV, a picture of chocolate in his picture books (somone should really start censoring those things), mention of the words chocolate or cut it ( as in 'cut it out, will ya?) - all of these act as immediate triggers to bring on massive tantrums to get the holy object of desire.

Of course I understand the passion. I mean he gets it from me, doesn't he? But still, it would have been nice if he took to broccoli with the same intensity.

We have now started calling chocolate 'That which must not be named' in this household. If you are visiting us, so should you. If you don't want a screaming toddler hanging on to your pants and not letting go till you oblige with a piece of good stuff, that is.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Parul version 2.1

Over at Carter Road, we were walking with Adi which is to say we had strapped him into his stroller and were pushing it at speeds of 40 kmph or more because if you slow down even a little bit, Adi starts to squirm and wants to climb out at once. Once a toddler is out of his stroller, there is no walking left in the picture. There is only running after him and keeping him out of the paths of cars and dogs.
At this moment, someone threw an empty cigarette packet on the pathway. It fell right in front of me. Normally, I would have countered this with a swift and sophisticated

"Saale, baap ki sadak samajh rakhi hai kya? Kooda apne ghar pe phekna." (Non-Hindi readers, my apologies but this would have got lost in translation. Believe me.)

Instead, I picked up the packet and looked at the bunch of college students one of whom was the culprit and said - I will throw this away for you and walked on. I heard a muttered and sheepish/shameless 'Thank you' over my shoulder as I walked to the dustbin and got rid of the packet.

Such grace. Such elegance. Such poise.

Since then I have been worrying that unbeknownest to me, I might just have grown up.

I may not be able to go for the Iron Maiden concert in Dubai after all. It's terrible. I was so looking forward to catching up with Bruce Dickinson and his gang. I was also really impatient to meet my other pals - Mona, mayG and any other Dubai blogger who would have me. Non blog friends also featured on the list as did my cousin and my little nephew that I haven't seen so far. (Yes, my family did have a baby epidemic in 2007).

To put it poetically, this sucks. But since I am all grown-up and elegant these days, I am not blaming Mahesh for ruining my life.

Of course, what makes things slightly better is that Maiden will be performing as part of a day-long rock festival in Bangalore on February 15th as part of the same tour. I am being really good these days in the hope that Santa will help me keep this plan alive.


It is psyching to watch Google Ads watch over every word that one types. Even as I write this post in Gmail, I have ads for the Dubai Shopping Festival and accommodation in Dubai on my left. What they don't know is that my trip is off. There is only so much you can do with keyword advertising.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Spaced Out

There is that Seinfeld episode where Kramer puts his guests from Tokyo to bed in a chest of drawers (fits three). That is what I may need to do soon too, so cramped are we for space. When we first moved into this house, I thought the second bedroom was an extra, to be used only when family or friends were over. Both of us used to work till late and used to spend free time outside the house. The house was something we did not see too much of. It was always big enough.

Things have changed a lot since then. For one thing, the new member of the family needs and collects more stuff than both of us put together ever did.

The cupboards are perpetually overflowing with stuff. Every other month, I need to ruthlessly weed out clothes we don't wear (or don't fit into) anymore. This is particularly heartbreaking for M, who is known to achieve a satisfactory ROI on t-shirts by wearing them over a period of ten years or more. He claims they weather well, like leather.

Adi's things just keep on multiplying. Toys, clothes, books - he has more of them with every passing month. And now, he also has a new saikkal (cyle) that I am seriously contemplating putting away in the kitchen after he's done playing with it for the day. Right there, next to the LPG cylinder.

I have become a staunch follower of blogs such as these in order to get tips to keep my house in some semblance of order.

Before buying anything we now to first ask ourselves - where will we keep it. This includes the 100 gms of jeera that I bought yesterday.

Speaking of space, I find myself craving increasingly for a yard or a garden where you can let your child and dog loose for a few hours every day so that they can burn off the energy that seems to grow exponentially with every minute. Of course, if we had a yard, we could also have a dog but that is a separate, sad discussion.

I bought a huge wardrobe yesterday, paying a price that could have bought me two whole square feet of space in Colaba. Hopefully that will help matters along till we can arrive at a more permanent solution.

Give me some space, will ya?


Coming back to the separate, sad discussion, I am finally reading Marley and Me these days. (I know, I am always late in getting to books these days). As an ex-owner of an adorable black Labrador, I can relate completely to the madness that is owning this breed of retrievers. I need to get one, I keep telling anyone who will care to listen. Don't, warns my mother. Its like getting another child and you need to be prepared to devote a lot of time, energy and attention to it. And that is before the toilet-training starts.

Let's get a cat instead, is M's solution.

I can't believe I married a cat person.


I have gone back to my irritating ways of getting up at 6:30 am. More wasteful writing, more bleary-eyed blogging, more needless alliteration. Yay!


Last evening, I overheard someone, a corporate honcho out for some fresh air. I do a lot of overhearing, you may have noticed. Saves me the trouble of eavesdropping. To get back to the point (as if there was any), he said - I am literally spending a bomb on....(missed the rest but could have been 'getting in shape'). I continue to be amazed at this unique usage of the word 'literally'. If you are a Yes, Minister/ Yes, Prime Minister fan, you will remember that Hacker used to think that Bernard literally had his pants on fire and so on. How poor Bernard's bottom survived this onslaught in anybody's guess.

I am literally laughing my head off.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Of salaams and namastes

The staff of the Oberoi fold their hands to greet their guests. Adi was mighty kicked by this during our stay at The Cecil and quickly picked it up. The staff used to respond to his folded hands by smilingly saying Namaste, Adi. Consequently, Namash-tay was added to the repertoire without any undue wastage of time. I think it was great because I myself had forgotten to teach him the same, normally bursting into the house with a loud and piercing 'HI! ADI!' myself. M on the other hand normally greets him with a 'Look who's home! Its Daddy! The love of your life! Your one true parent!' and other such nonsense.

I was brought up on a steady dose of Namastes and remember saying it through my childhood. While one greeted one's friends or young cousins with a hi or hello, it was a given that elders would have to be treated to a Namaste. I have no idea when this gave way to the much more casual hello. These days I think I remember my Namastes only when my Mama or Mami call from Meerut. Then it flows as naturally as their 'aur kya ho raha hai, bhaiyya?' (Bhaiyya is a genderless reference in my family, all juniors are bucketed into a bhaiyya. Saves the trouble of remembering names.)

Also, back then the domestic help would always greet one with a Namaste when one opened the door to let them in. In Mumbai, there is no such thing. Kalpana bursts into the house and makes a beeline for the kitchen knowing that she needs to cram a lot of cooking in the next hour. Padma is anyway a morose mass of humanity, normally reserving greetings for special occasions when she mutters a Happy Birthday or mumbles a Happy New Year under her breath. She sure greets Adi with a lot of enthusiasm though. 'Good MORNING, bachchi' is how it goes, I think. Pramod prefers the anglicised 'Good Morning, sir' to Namaste anyday.

Maybe Adi can bulldoze all of us into saying Namaste again. Else it will be left behind like the heeng ka achaar and homemade mathri, back there in UP.

What about you? Do you say Namaste to anyone anymore?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Twenty month letter

Dear Adi,

They say time flies when you are having fun. I guess the opposite is also true. That is all I am going to say about putting down your nineteen month update as the twentieth.

But this really is your twentieth month update. In this last month you established without a trace of doubt that you like cars - asking to go 'driming, driming', making 'vrooom' sounds when Formula 1 is mentioned, spending long minutes playing with your toy steering wheel and the best - climbing into Vir's car seat during our vacation declaring 'noo noo (new) carseat'. Predictably enough, your father is thrilled.

Your love for the outdoors is becoming more pronounced and we spend roughly a total of two hours everyday reminding you that it is not yet time to go 'bye-bye' or to call the 'ipt' (lift) that will ferry us to magical, enchanted lands. It is a good thing that the phase of acute separation anxiety is over but now I worry about your willingness to go to people that we don't know that well, hovering about anxiously, tales of abuse doing the rounds in my head.

You spent a lot of time playing with Vir this last month and it was easy to see why people have two kids. Both of you chased each other endlessly, stopping only when a baby-crash took place and resulted in much wailing and thrashing about.

Your will becomes stronger and comes through in the most inconvenient of things. Chocolate, for example. Surely you know that your father and I don't like sharing it. Still, you go on and on about cuttit (chocolate) and how much you love it and how you need to have the whole bar crammed into your mouth with the utmost urgency. Cheep, bissit and joocie continue to be hot favourites and now we have 'pawcorn' and corn added to the list. A regular junk junkie.

You continue to count and more composite numbers are making an appearance as we go along. I have an idea that you think that 'clap-clap' is the numeral following ten (or twenty, in recent times) and as soon as ten is announced, we all need to clap. You remind us if we forget.

Other that that things are normal. I am still swinging wildly between wonder at where the time went and deciding that you are wayyyyy too young to be sent to playschool on your own anytime in the near future (thank goodness that is still six months away).

I need to get you started on more foods that are available outside. All this ghar ka khaana is great when you are not going anywhere but it sure wreaks havoc when one is travelling. Other than the food problem, you were great as a traveller and I am quite encouraged about the Dubai trip in February where your mother plans to rock to Iron Maiden in concert. Did you know Iron Maiden was named after a medieval torture device? Yes, as your mother, I am truly committed to teaching you all the right things. More on that later.

You have fun.



Monday, January 5, 2009

Delhi 2008

Dec 26 - In the morning, Santa gives a chocolate to Adi. Adi discovers true love. A little later, the bill for our stay is presented to us. We shake out our pockets and thus made significantly lighter, we proceed on our drive to Chandigarh. Adi sleeps most of the way. M and I argue ceaselessly about whose genes he is sporting in this particular department. There is a pattern emerging here.

We are cutting it a little fine for our flight to Delhi. So naturally Adi poos. We need to take a break at the next mall to change his diaper. We lose precious minutes and make it just in time to the airport. (Sparing you the gross details here but do feel free to mail me if you are a sucker for punishment.)

The flight from Chandigarh to Delhi is mercifully short. On our way to my sister's place in Gurgaon, I am stunned (figuratively) by the flyovers and the toll bridge that have come up in the last year. Remind me again why we don't live here, I ask M. Because we work in Mumbai, he replies mournfully. Fearing he may burst into tears if I push it any further, I let him be. Soon we are at home. My sister has moved into a new house and although I pride myself in being blatantly biased, it is the most beautiful house I have seen in my life. I am pushing her into creating a before and after photo blog. Also in taking up interiors as a career. Let us see how that goes.

Dec 27-31 - My nephew Vir and Adi proceed to tell us what it would be like to have twins over the next few days. Double the trouble, double the fun. It takes six adults all their energy and all their time to just keep them out of trouble and harm's way. But the cuteness, oh, it could kill you! And nearly does.

We get a call from our neighbours in Mumbai saying our house has flooded and water is now making its merry way down the building's staircase. Some panicked phone calls later, Padma and Pramod are rushed to Ground Zero to assess the situation. I ask if I should come back. No need, they tell me, we have everything under control. Such dudes.
Apparently the carpets were floating on an inch of water. I knew what they were talking about. I have seen the house in a worse condition during the Mumbai floods.

Since the water Gods are not very happy with the Sharma family, the very next morning, the RO system floods the kitchen in my sister's house and soon after one of the geysers starts giving out more hot water than bargained for. Other stuff happens too.

We meet a very pregnant PG and she looks gorgeous. Completely shameless, instead of taking her out for a meal, we gorge on all the goodies that she has prepared for us. Very characteristic.
M checks out SK's car and cannot stop raving about it. We have dinner with SK and SB at the Golf Club.

More food is consumed. We go to Bikanerwala and I finally get to fulfill my dream that I have been nurturing for the last fourteen months and eat real chaat, not sev-poori trying to pass off as the same.

On the other hand, Adi is still not eating anything unless it can very clearly be labelled JUNK FOOD. On one of the feeding sessions, we give him my sister's iPhone. He changes the settings and no one can figure out how to restore it.

I realize that I have not planned the trip very well and given that I have no phone numbers on me, cannot get in touch with Y, Chandni, MM and other Delhi bloggers I would have liked to meet over this trip. Next time, I tell myself dolefully.

We watch A Wednesday on DVD and really like it. Much encouraged, we order Rab ne bana di jodi and just about live to tell the tale. The film has absolutely no ups and down, the same gloomy pace throughout. SRK looks terrible. In both roles. Maybe more as the absolutely cringe-worthy Raj.

Its really foggy on the eve of the new year. Foggy and cold enough to freeze your breath before its done coming out. We have some nice wine and promptly proceed to pass out.

Jan 1, 2009 - Back in Mumbai, baby! After fog scares and a flight that was delayed by an hour we are finally home. Pramod looks fatter than ever before so I give him a big pack of mithai that I have got for him. The irony is lost on him, the calories are not.

It is so good to be back. But I miss Delhi already. And so this will be the story of my life.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Shimla 2008

First, some pictures?
And now my travel journal.

Dec 20
- Till last night I thought we had finished packing. And yet, till the last minute we are remembering stuff that we should take along 'just in case'. The result is three suitjustincases, one cabin bag, M's backpack, Adi's stroller and my handbag (the one that I guard with my life). Yes, now it feels like we are going on holiday for five years in Antartica. The flight from Mumbai to Chandigarh is on time. Adi behaves like a seasoned traveller. M and I argue ceaselessly about whose genes he is sporting in this particular department. All is well with the world. At Chandigarh airport, we feel Adi lunch. Except that Adi doesn't eat without the aid of Tata Issky. A small girl minding a dog called Cashew comes to our rescue. Bless you child, may you grow up to win Miss Universe and the Nobel Prize in the same year. We proceed from Chandigarh to Shimla in a hired car and arrive at the Cecil just as dusk is falling. It is such a beautiful hotel. We were hoping to be put up in the old wing which was built in the 1800s but find that we will be in the new part of the hotel which is of course spanking new and was constructed as recently as 1927.

Dec 21-25
- All days are the same. We wake up when Adi does, we nap when Adi does and we retire for the night when Adi does. It is all quite blissful till the toddler decides that we need some excitement in our lives and refuses to eat. Khichdis and soups, french fries and pulaos - everything is treated with the same amount of disdain, tasted and spat out. Suddenly he is looking so skinny, M and I are worried sick. Mealtimes are battletimes. Suddenly I can sympathize with all parents who have fussy eaters on their hands. Also, each wasted dish comes with a five-star price tag. I am torn between waist and waste. Only the thought of the long, arduous walks uphill while pushing the stroller and resulting in the stomach shrinkage keep me from jumping face-first into the food.

The hotel has a very large and well-equipped activity center that almost makes up for the lack of open space. M and I spend a lot of time each day shooting darts, playing video games (car racing AND terrorist killing, woo hoo), trying our hands at the pool table and foosball and overall enjoying ourselves very much.

Adi has a good time too.

I think.

Christmas eve means a gala dinner. There is food everywhere but our eyes are on the lookout for dessert. We can't see any. Finally we ask the staff about the dessert section. This way, they say and direct us into a WHOLE BLOODY ROOM that is full of every conceivable sweet. We go round and round salvating at the puddings and pies, cakes and pastries. M thinks the chefs want to eat us after they fatten us up adequately. Finally we get so sick of looking at the sweet stuff that we don't actually have any.

Adi does. A whole bowl of sickeningly sweet srikhand.

Post this sugar-high, when we take him back to the room, he is bouncing off the walls in a manic fashion. Oh my god.

To be continued.

Guess who's back...back again

On earlier occasion I had complained about missing the winters up north. A week in Shimla (for the last time, is it Simla or Shimla? Natives, speak up...) followed by another in Delhi was enough to take care of that particular craving. I am back in Bombay and still thawing.

While I was away, many hearts grew fonder. The result is awards. Trophy-happy, I display them proudly.

Sue, Aneela and Kiran gave me this.....

.....because they thought that this blog is one that invests and believes in PROXIMITY - nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.

Thanks a ton, people. Only thing is - I am VERY interested in prizes, specially if they are cash in nature. I am fairly certain I am interested in self-aggrandizement too. I will confirm the moment I have checked the meaning on a web dictionary.

Humbled and honoured, I pass it on to -

The Mad Momma

You guys reached out and made friends. Thank you hai.

Not satisfied with just being proximitous (using existing words is passe, I will make my own from now on), I went ahead and also claimed coolness. Mampi , (edited to add:Usha) and Mandira gave me this.

I am still strutting. But moving on, let us see, which are the coolest blogs/sites I read.
The Great Bong's random thoughts of a demented mind (like, d-uh)
Neha Vishwanathan's Within/Without (I wish I knew as much about music as she does)
Sidin's Domain Maximus (only the funniest man in this country)
Surely You Gotto Be Kidding Me (vettiguy's absolutely world-class humour)

Now off I go and will be back soon with tales of the trip. In the meanwhile, happy new year, all. My new year's eve was great, quiet, brought in amidst thick fog and insides toasting with some Medoc. How was yours? What did you do? Who did you spend it with?