Monday, June 29, 2009

And so it goes

The domestic help crisis continues with the last one also succumbing to the eternal need to lie. A pity really because unlike the distortion of truth, sloth was not one of her sins and she was proving to be quite effective around the house. I am stuck again with sentences that float around in my head, asking to be written down and then disappearing into nothingness as I keep postponing it, busy as I am with the child and the housework that I know nothing of. I have said hasta la vista to Spanish for now and also to running, free time being a rare commodity that gets more precious by the day.

I have started feeling like less of a fraud now when I say that I am a writer now that I actually have a novel to my name. A little earlier if anyone asked me what I did for a living, my articulate self would come up with something that went on the lines of…

“I am a market researcher, except that I freelance, except that I don’t anymore, because I am a writer now, writer as in I actually haven’t published anything yet, but I guess that doesn’t matter, but in fact I do have a book coming out, which should be in shelves soon, but hey, till then I suppose I continue being in market research, except that I am not of course.”

At least listeners will be spared these extremes of confusion.

My son has developed a serious liking for the Crossword at Turner Road. Crossword Books, he declares and keeps declaring till I lift my mass and adorn the lower extremities with some walking shoes and take him to the store. He doesn’t look too much at the books yet, preferring to make a beeline instead to the toys and games section. He is too young I think to actually ask me to buy any of the desirable things there, quite happy to look at them and tinker about for sometime before I whisk him away. I spend this time complaining about the coffee at the little shop that they have there. Sweet, watery and all in all terrible.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Do you remember the time?

Michael Jackson's dead. For the first few moments, my thoughts were drenched in hope that it was a hoax, a bizarre Internet event that led to millions of people spreading and believing the 'lie'. After all, what is a legend without a couple of undeserved obituaries? I searched online (the computer has replaced the telly for me) and the first few results did seem to suggest that it had not happened. Then I reached and I had to come to terms with a loss that was all too personal for billions of his fans around the world.

Where does one begin? At the dizzying heights of fame that no popstar, save Madonna perhaps has achieved? At the pedophilia? At the marriage (of convenience we said) to Lisa Marie Presley? Or at how he seemed to go from human to alien, in appearance and in behaviour, going as far as holding out his infant son over a balcony that rested hundreds of feet above the ground? Or how he seemed to have a wish for self-destruction, to do away somehow with what appeared to be a fabulous life?

No, today one begins and ends at the music, of which there was so much and yet never enough. At the phenomenon of Billie Jean, ranked by Rolling Stone as one of the greatest songs of all time. At Dangerous, that sold even more copies than Bad. And at Thriller, explosive in it's popularity then and now.

I was a fan, I am one still. RIP MJ in that neverland on the other side.

Image courtesy this site.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Purplehomes reads BUV

Purplehomes says that BUV cured her of the reader's block that is often the bane of young mothers.

She begins her review thus,

Even before I could manage to get hold of my very own copy of “Bringing up Vasu: That First year” I knew it I was going to adore it. I finally got it yesterday. The fact that I managed to read it in one go despite having a five month old angel who keeps me busy 24*7 and the fact that I have been suffering from an acute case of Readers’ Block ever since she was born just proves the point that the book is good and I loved it .
For the rest of her review, please go here.

Thanks, purple, I hope to keep you in steady supply of reading material and clear of the reader's block.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bringing Up Adi turns two

The rains dodged all pleas for an appearance and waited till I was in stuck in an open space with no umbrella and no shelter and needed to look somewhat presentable. Then they came. A tree tried to protect me in a half-hearted sort of way. In a few minutes work (for the rain) though, I was resembling a wet rat. Happy monsoons, everyone.

In the midst of all the good stuff about the book and the not so good stuff involving illnesses and AWOL maids, my blog turned two. Two years of posts about this and that and comments on posts about this and that and friends who seemed to appreciate the this and that part and so much more. Some things just feel good from the word go, there is no scope for false starts and stumbling blocks. They just, well, flow. This blog was one such, (rather rare for me) phenomenon. I had fun with the first post and I had even more fun with the 300th post. Maybe the fact that the latter got 150+ comments had something to do with the 'more' part but we will let that pass in the spirit of birthday celebrations.

I had thought that I would not let the book butt into this post but I need to say something here. The blog and the book - they are two different entities and I hope you will treat them as such. Possibly because of similar names, readers feel that this was one of those glorious events where a publisher trawling through the internet spotted my talent and decided to offer me a book deal based on the blog. I did not have such large doses of outstanding fortune. In fact, my publishers had no idea I wrote a blog till much later.

That out of the way, back to the matters at hand.

In something of a coincidence, the statcounter almost hits the 300,000 mark today. Three lakh hits is insane for someone who writes about decidedly trivial matters. (Insane in the sense that it makes me really happy.) Now while I have absolutely no delusions about being wildly popular (or even tamely popular), it sure feels darn good to receive a mail every once in a while from a reader who says that they liked being here and that this made a difference to their day.

Since this post is assuming something of a thank-you speech tone (swear I am not doing it on purpose), I will quickly transmit gratitude for everything, my constant reader. You laughed at my jokes and you played along with my silly puns, you came out of hiding and you listened to my stories and you returned for the sequels. And you are holding my hand through the nerve-wracking process of sending my first book out into the world. Yes, to you I say thank ye.

And to you, blog, happy birthday (some people call it blogversary but they don't know that a blog is a living, breathing creature, with thoughts and feelings and PMS). Here's looking at you, kid.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Poppins Mom reads Bringing Up Vasu

Poppins and Sweetpea's Mom is one of the first people to have bought my book and read it (though where she found the time whilst juggling a home, a job and two babies is anyone's guess).

This is how she starts off...

It’s hard to be objective about Parul’s book (which was released last week) and is called “Bringing Up Vasu – that first year“. It’s hard because she’s a friend (in FB parlance and otherwise too, I hope). Plus I’m already in love with her blog, so unbiased I am not. Still she says that she can take honesty, so I will certainly try.

First the good – the book. Yes it’s good, it’s funny. I snorted and belly laughed quite a few times while reading it, causing people around to look at me sharply.

For the rest of the review, go here.

Thank you once again, PM. I hope more bloggers will follow suit, specially the voracious readers among us.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The things people do

Just a quick stop to share this link with you. Fake IPL player suna tha, fake mommy-bloggers bhi hote hain, yeh ab pata chala.

What do you think?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

For those in distant lands

Some of you had asked when the book would be available on Amazon. Well, it is now listed there and you can pre-order so that they ship it as soon as it's available. This is the link.

Right, so I went to the Mumbai Landmark to check out my book and things got so surreal I felt I could have been in a Dali painting. There they were, copies of my book, staring at me out of the stands. I almost could not bear it. I looked around for a bit and then figured that there is only so much staring at your own book that one can cram in into one visit to the bookstore. So I grinned foolishly at the staff for some time and then I came back home.

So we have established that the book is out in the stores. I have taken a figurative deep breath and am currently yogically trying to dissociate myself from that eternal question - what will be? Yogically and with a little help of my old friend - chocolate mousse from American Express bakery. So far the chocolate mousse is beating the yoga pants off the...well, yoga.

Family is fighting off the bugs, thanks for the wishes.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

More on...what else, the book

So we have accomplished the next logical step after writing a book and finding a publisher.

Created a Facebook group for it.

Join it here. It's an open group which means you don't need to be friends with a mommy-type to join in what will presumably be the fun.

Feel free to invite your reader friends.

Now I need to think of ways to keep it lookin' good. Ideas are most welcome.

More fabulous internet

The book is also available on Flipkart, people, complete with discount and free shipping. Thanks, Poppins and The Soul of Alec Smart.

Click here:

I am still swimming in snot and online time is allowed in spurts. Ah, the imagery.

I saw that the reviews have also started, anyone who puts up one, please do let me know and direct me to the link. I may not be able to trawl the net as actively as I'd like for a couple of days till my little boy and my poor Mom recover from SVF.

Stupid Viral Fever.

And while I hope you like the book, I can take honesty. Yes, I can. Deep breaths, deep breaths.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ah, the lovely world of internet shopping

This morning, one of our friends received his shipment of my book that he had ordered online. Since then I am torn between taking chapter by chapter feedback from him as he peruses this great work of literature and avoiding him at all costs. The perils of being a first-time author, many, many.

I am currently looking after my ill baby who refuses to put anything in his mouth (other than an occasional piece of carpet lint) and my ill Mom who thankfully has no such compulsions. Posting has therefore been somewhat infrequent.

Anyhow, so this is a short post to say that the book is now available online. Click on this link to go to the Landmark site and buy the book:

Readers abroad, Amazon is yet to stock it. I will post the details as soon as they do, hopefully very soon.

Once again, thank you guys, this is an amazing ride and I am glad you are coming along.

Woo, that sounded good.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The real thing

I stepped out of the house today, quietly so as not to disturb the child playing with his Nani and trying to avoid a tantrum and demands to be taken along. I was running late for my appointment for a haircut at The Hip Salon (not its real name) and so almost ignored the courier man who was stepping out of the elevator just as I was rushing out. That was before I saw what he held in his hands.

My book! It's here! I screamed and immediately snatched the parcel out of his hands. Or tried to. He made me sign something, I could have signed away my soul for all the attention I was paying.

Mamma! I shouted, letting myself back inside, they are here, the author copies!
Much excitement prevailed.

I opened a copy and read bits and pieces. I wrote it, I told myself. Naah, replied myself.

In that moment, I knew that this is what I want to do, for now and for ever.

Then I went off for my haircut.

The advantage of being the author: getting to read (pose with) the book before it hits the stands.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Adapt, change, grow and that sort of thing

Things have been heating up here. Other than what is referred to ominously as only The Book, we have The House and The School taking place.

The Book, rather when the news about the impending release of the book was given, I received so many comments, e-mails and facebook messages that I convinced myself that I would be a celebrity very soon and started to regularly drift into day-dreams that began with the words 'When I am a famous author'. Clearly, I am not very good with large doses of attention. Treatment for a swollen head is being delivered swiftly and efficiently by Dr. Mahesh and family.

The House. When I say The House, I mean both the TV show and the real thing. The real thing is the new place that we will move into shortly. About the House of the MD kind, I am finding the second season rather trippy. House is getting meaner and somehow more like Sherlock Holmes with every passing episode (not a bad thing of course but I am a Poirot girl) and there is not enough Agatha Christie style medical whodunnit (the Poirot reference did have a point to it). However, given how forgiving true love really is, I continue to watch.

The School. Adi begins playschool on his own today. It's a good school, there will be other babies around, early learning is important - now repeat this ten times to yourself. I have been trying this but it's not easy. Yesterday I covered his books with bamboo paper and bought him a school-bag and a new water-bottle, so he is very happy about this whole NEW! BIG! NICE! school spiel. The truth will out when he realizes that I am going to leave him, sob and disappear for a whole hour. M has taken the coward's way out and has gone to work. He tried to reason saying that he needs to be at work if he is going to fund my authorish desires but I am not going to provide him with any BOTD. *

Benefit of the doubt.

The School is close to The House so I can always lurk around the walls of the former once we shift. In the meanwhile, I am going to waste a lot of time on decor sites. You may have noticed that I am positioning myself as the creative juice box of the family, all art, no dough.

The Book is going to be available on Amazon, I am told. More details as soon as events take place. Everyone is hereby ordered to hold my hand through the waiting process. In my mind, I am already doing a fabulous book tour that takes me from Delhi to Bangalore to Pune to Hyderabad and so forth but we will see what actually happens when it happens.

*I wrote this part before Adi went to school. Well, looks like I did not give him enough credit. Instead of bawling his eyes out, he trotted off happily with his (very pretty and slim) teacher. Ingrate, ingrate, I whimpered to myself before dragging myself out. I waited at a coffee shop for an hour, pretending to read this book but actually wasting time here. Anyway, now this is going into the territory of mommy-blogging which we supposedly don't do anymore but I am a mommy and I am a blogger and sometimes the twain shall meet.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The one where I can't stop grinning

The 17th of July last year began like a normal enough day. Mahesh went to work in the morning and after finishing various tasks around the house, I sat down at my computer. A little later M pinged me on chat to tell me that a fire had broken out in the Airtel office and that networks would probably go down. They did. No mobile phones and no landline. I did not think too much about it at that point. Networks go and then they come back, like stubborn acne (note simile, pretty good I thought).

A little later Adi went for a nap and I decided to check my e-mail and found that I had received the mail that I had been waiting for practically my entire adult life.

Oh my god, oh my god, I screamed (silently, remember Adi was sleeping) and then, oh my god, oh my god for effect. I followed it up with some oh my god, oh my god for good measure and then stood up and jumped up and down several times. I then proceeded to run from one end of the house to another at a somewhat high speed, breathless and unimaginably happy. I snatched up my phone to call M and remembered that that was useless. I ran to the landline, no luck. Just when I wanted to shout from the rooftops about something, I could not share it with anyone. I mailed M and he mailed back immediately but somehow it was not the same as talking about what Om Shanti Om had assured me was something the whole kaynaat (universe, I think) had conspired to give me.

What was so important about that e-mail, you ask?

Dear Parul,
I'm happy to inform you that the editorial team really enjoyed your manuscript and would very much like to add it to our publishing list. If you like, I could forward you a draft contract to take a look at. Taking into account the likely price of the book, and the first print run, we would like to offer you an advance of Rs xyz and royalties of abc%. I hope this is alright.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Her name

Why am I telling you about this now? Because my dear reader, I had to use every last ounce of self-control to not put it on the blog then.

I give you now what I have waited for so long. Bringing Up Vasu - That First Year, my debut novel.

I don't think you can read the blurb on the cover. It says this:

First-time mom Mira steps out of the hospital with her baby son, aglow with confidence that her aspirations for Supermom-dom will be fulfilled. After all, she’s attended all the pre-natal sessions, armed herself with postnatal planning, read all the books, and — most crucially — has the benefit of advice from expert Yummy Mummy, Rhea.

Mira realises quickly, though, that the road to being a model mommy is not that smooth: her baby seems to think sleep is overrated, her boss has decided to show her the door, her pregnancy fat is staying steadfastly on, and — having threatened to beat up the one woman who could get her son into the coveted playschool Teddy Footprints — plans for her first-born are already going awry.

With her husband Anand, the one feeble voice of sanity in her life, Mira has to navigate between a colicky baby, finding the perfect maid, postnatal depression, freelance work, demanding fitness instructors, and friends who careen between inappropriate lovers and alcohol. Will she ever gain entry into the kingdom of chic moms? Will she ever be able to successfully juggle a baby and work? And will she ever shed those twenty extra kilos?

A funny yet tender peek into the pleasures and pitfalls of becoming a first-time mother, Bringing Up Vasu is a true coming-of-age read.

Scared shitless just about describes my state of mind right now. That of course does not mean that I am not feeling very happy and elated (and apparently adept at using two words that essentially mean the same thing).

I tried really hard to declare this in a funny/witty/exciting way, in other words, in a way that would immediately make you fall in undying love with me and more importantly make you go get a copy. Things however are slow in the old noggin today and I needed to put it out before I burst with holding it in so long!

I know what you are dying to ask of me. The answer is - yes, I did dwell over whether I should use a pseudonym or not. It was Mahesh who dissuaded me by pointing out that writing under the names Amitav Ghosh and/or Jhumpa Lahiri could be considered grounds for libel.


A book. A book. By me! If there is a fulfillment of dreams in this world, this is mine.

What do you think of the cover, constant reader? Please note that Constant Reader is what Stephen King calls his fans like me but I think I am entitled to use it now, being after all part of the same fraternity, ahem.

If people do get by with a little help from their friends, I guess I should do alright, right? RIGHT?

IMPORTANT: I wanted to write this post when the book was finally out but since so many of you know about it already, I am putting this up now. Please note that the book will be in the stores only around the 23rd of June. Or so. As soon as it hits the stands, I will be here again, beseeching you to do the needful and shell out the INR 250 that will feed a starving author.

Another thing, this is my 300th post on this blog. Nice way to bring it in, eh? Now to write the next novel before the 400th one.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Are you fighting with someone today?

Think of the big picture. Now, I have an arbiter for determining this elusive thing called the big picture.

Would this matter if someone you love very, very much was sick, perhaps dying? Would you still be here, fighting this battle?

Try it, it works. Because the thing is this - most battles are only fights, squabbles really and petty ones at that. A waste of time. Time that would be better spent loving someone.

Now everyone let us shut up, give that guy/girl a hug, listen to this and give peace a chance. Yeah, yeah, I am only a hippie at heart.

Ev'rybody's talking about
Bagism, Shagism, Dragism, Madism, Ragism, Tagism
This-ism, that-ism
Isn't it the most
All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance

Ev'rybody's talking about
Ministers, Sinisters, Banisters and canisters,
Bishops and Fishops and Rabbis and Pop eyes,
And bye bye, bye byes.
All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance

Let me tell you now
Ev'rybody's talking about
Revolution, Evolution, Mastication, Flagelolation, Regulations.
Integrations, Meditations, United Nations, Congratulations
All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance

Oh Let's stick to it
Ev'rybody's talking about
John and Yoko, Timmy Leary, Rosemary, Tommy smothers, Bob Dylan,
Tommy Cooper, Derek Tayor, Norman Mailer, Alan Ginsberg, Hare Krishna,
Hare Krishna
All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance

Another, in my opinion better version here.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Prisoners of our own creation?

Cynic in Wonderland wrote a remarkable post and it is something that I think about sometimes, after I am done solving the global debt crisis. Although I did leave a comment on Cyn's post, I thought I would dissect it further here on my own space. Plus Cyn might have banned me after I crossed the 5000 word limit.

Do we create blogs that develop personalities of their own? Do we then become prisoners of those personalities and feel pressured to keep our posts restricted to the type of blogger we feel we have become? For eg. does a controversial blogger feel forced to take a stand every time there is reason to do so because he is known to have an opinion on everything and he and his readers will feel let down if he is not heckled by everything that comes up? To bring things closer home, do I feel pressured to keep things light and funny in my space because that is what I have come to expect of this space, this is where I crack jokes that would see me being booted out at double speed elsewhere (see?).

I think so. I think we create brands when we create blogs and these blogs all have personalities and equity all their own. Through our writing and through the reader's perception of the same (after all the consumer creates the brand as much as the producer does), we give our blogs characteristics. This then leads to a framework and we tend to stick within the same. Any diversion from the same will lead to a certain amount of 'chaos' and we sense that, preferring instead to deliver the content that people have come to expect of us, funny, mild-mannered, angsty, poetic and so on.

The fact that blogs have a personality of their own has another aspect to it, that this personality is only a part of the blogger's personality. The fact remains that however much a blogger reveals of herself on her space, it is impossible to know a person entirely through a blog and hence the surprise when you meet someone in real life. In my opinion, this is rather nice. I mean, it would have to be a singularly uninspiring person who was all about and contained in a blog and had nothing more to them.

So what do you do when you feel like writing something that you feel does not belong in your blog. Ah, the answer is simple. Never mess around with Coke Classic. When you do need some excitement around your brand, launch a new variant, a sub-brand, so to speak. After that, enjoy!

Sigh. Guess I need a new blog too.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Flight of fancy

Right now, I'd much rather be in a hammock outside a cheap hired apartment overlooking Niederried's lake Brienz, reading an Agatha Christie, sipping on an Apple Martini and Tangled Up In Blue wafting out at me.

Where would you much rather be?

P.S. Only people like M who have zero imagination are allowed to say that they are exactly where they would like to be. I mean, gah. (Incidentally, I wrote this out before I actually asked him and well, he said exactly that. To his credit, he is watching Zabardast Hits on Channel V and sipping on White Zinfandel, who can blame him?)

P.P.S. Cheap? Well, relatively. And Bob Dylan? Goodness, how the rock has softened.

Haan, you were saying?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Make mine strong

I have been having an inexplicable urge to drink coffee at eleven am every day. No, I am not pregnant and no of course it's not a personal question. (In fact, in my opinion, all women should wear their fertility and conception updates around their necks.) Also, whether I like it or not, the fact remains that pregnancy is not the sole possible explanation for any change that I might feel, in personality, psyche, physiology or otherwise.

It's strange because the go-to beverage for all in-home consumption for me is tea. I drink it first thing in the morning to get my eyes to listen to me, a technical impossibility at the best of times and open up, dammit. Mahesh never used to need tea but I have corrupted him too. I like my tea pheeka and strong. BTW, how does 'Cheeni Kam' sound for a new blog name for me?

It's also strange because I never go to the kitchen and make anything for myself. Specially if Mom is around. But Mom doesn't really make coffee. Coffee for her is what you serve to guests. The coffee and sugar is beaten till it becomes a delicious looking paste and then hot milk (no water) is poured over it. It tastes very nice but it's not really coffee, if you know what I mean. The only thing that comes close to it is what old-age cinema halls used to serve out of inaptly named espresso machines, with a sprinkling of cocoa on top.

And so I have been making coffee. Nothing fancy, just Nescafe, sugar, water, milk but it tastes so good!

Maybe it's some insane part of me telling me to quit this 'I am going to be a full-time writer nonsense' and get a real job. A real job is one that stresses you out enough to make you want to have a coffee and smoke break at eleven. Sometimes earlier. Of course, you can simultaneously munch on the peanuts that you get paid at the end of the month and make a satisfying meal of the event.

Maybe I am missing Bangalore, I have been known to do that, where coffee had replaced tea for obvious reasons. I mean, you would not go to Italy and not eat pizza.

Maybe I am missing Amma (M's mom). The only time we switch to coffee first thing in the morning is when Amma is in town. She makes divine filter coffee, hot, strong, sweet. She gives to me in my big, purple mug. I love my big, purple mug.

Maybe caffeine levels in my bloodstream have been falling below acceptable levels.

Maybe I need a trip to Europe, where the smell of freshly brewed coffee and croissants make me forget the exchange rate between the euro and the rupee.

Maybe I should just shut up, have the coffee and stop making blog-posts out of nothing. Yeah, now that is a good idea. Next stop, global warming, racial wars and a recession that's just not quitting.

What about you - tea or coffee? Or something stronger perhaps?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Doctor, doctor

I remembered something yesterday, after we finished watched the first episode of Season Two of House. This is not the first time I have developed such a serious liking, nay, love for a doctor with deep, unresolved issues.

The last time this happened was way back in school, when Pakistani soaps were all the rage in my household. Our local video library stocked VHS (but naturally) tapes of hugely popular soaps like Dhoop Kinare, Ankahi, Tanhaiyan, Parchhaiyan and many others the names of which slip me right now, me being in the thick of my twilight years and everything. They were truly brilliant with very gripping storylines and some fantastic acting. Oh and great jokes too, important even back then. It was around that time that I had developed a massive crush on Dr Ahmer Ansari, the brooding doctor with the young, cute protege in Zoya Ali Khan. Ah, the sweet innocence of young love (mine, not Zoya's). Terrified of ridicule, I remained silent about this true and undying love. Sisters after all can be merciless teases.

It's also interesting how the more things change, the more they remain the same. Indian television still sucks. People like me still need to import our entertainment from other countries. I still like brainy men. The sisters still specialise in cutting me down to size.

Unfortunately, although I have spent many years living around hospitals, no doctor ever came close to my celluloid (or whatever the telly equivalent is called) heroes. Which is when I diversified into finance.

P.S. The table mystery from the previous post is still open to answers. Nothing has sounded satisfying yet, hehe.