Monday, August 31, 2009


So we are in our new house now. Technically, it is the house but Adi keeps calling it the new house and wants to go home, which is the old house.

Shifting was not easy. For one thing, we seem to have collected tons of stuff in the five years from when we got married and moved into what is now the old house. The movers and packers themselves said so. Oh ha ha, said my mom on the phone, they say that to everyone and you should not take them seriously. So we proceeded to not take them seriously, thinking that they would be done by the evening and we will having chai and samosas in the new house soon enough. Turned out a bit different. They started at ten in the morning and at about eight they were still packing. All sorts of plastic bins and ready-to-make cardboard boxes and cling-wraps were used extensively. Some of the boxes were sent on their way out. While these boxes sat waiting to be loaded into the truck, it started raining heavily. Oh my god, my books better not be there, I thought to myself as I saw this scene unfold. The books, as it turned out, were just fine.

The day passed in chasing electricians and plumbers and suppliers. I must have lost my temper a dozen times, a record even for me.

The most challenging among these were the Chesterfield people who were supposed to deliver the blinds. How will we sleep in a curtain-less house, I wailed at them. Oh the man has left, I was assured, should be there any moment now. But he would get to America by now, I countered. Patience, madam, I was advised. Things got progressively ugly from then on with the end result being the same - no show of curtains, lots of show of us (first floor flat).

At nine fifteen or so, we belatedly realized that not only did we not have curtains, we had nowhere to sleep, no mattress, no bedcover, no pillows. We had packed away everything and unpacking seemed far, far away. Where will Adi sleep, we wondered. Let us check into a hotel, said M. No, let me go to Shopper's Stop and pick some things to make a makeshift bed, I suggested, brightening up at the thought of shopping even in trying times. And so I did. Give me bedsheets, I told the good man at Shopper's. Sure, Madam, here is our fine Portico range. I looked at him. I am painting my house and I need to cover my furniture, I said. Ah, entry level wallah chahiye, he said with a flash of understanding. And so, armed with entry level priced bedsheets and sundries, I returned home where we covered the windows with the bedsheets, finally garnering some privacy and made a temp bed for the boy. After Adi slept, we waited for the movers to arrive. By the time they arrived and finished unloading, it was one thirty in the morning.

We are very tired.

Today has been a series of events that I will now attempt to recap -

  • All our things have been unpacked. We have a lot of stuff.
  • Leery man from Kent RO Water Purifiers has fixed an industrial unit type apparatus in our kitchen. This man is the perfect small-town (I asked him where he was from having my suspicions and yeah, I was right), self-important jackass. If you ever need such a person, call me and I will send him to you. Leery man from Kent RO needed a drill to hook up some stuff. He borrowed our contractor's drilling machine and broke the drill-bit during the procedure.
  • From what has been told to me and please understand that I am only reconstructing a story here, the contractor had a tiff with Leery Man from Kent RO regarding the same drill bit. This resulted in (the driver tells me) our contractor getting really upset and leaving the site and (I think) quitting our job. We were not informed of this but I do believe we do not have a contractor now. He is sulking so much that he refuses to take our calls. I wish he would because I am willing to replace his drill-bit but you know how little children are.
  • This means that all the left-over electric, plumbing, carpentry and hook-this-up-here-will-ya type of jobs are still left undone. At the time of hitting publish, we are still figuring this out.
  • The Chesterfield people finally arrived but with the blinds for the other rooms which means we continue to drape entry level priced bedsheets on our master bedroom windows.

But there have some positives also -

  • The internet is working, my hero, my hero, I said to M when I found that he had been his geeky self.
  • The Asian Paints Home Solutions turned out to be a fine bunch of people. Competent and affordable.
  • The TVs may be installed anytime now which means that Greg House and I may be reunited sooner than I thought possible.
  • Everything arrived as it was, no breaks except the bottle of Chilly Soya Sauce that the maid broke later on.
  • Adi has watched unprecedented amounts of Tom and Jerry on a laptop and thinks this party will last forever.

But but but we are in the new house and it's a mighty fine feeling.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Aneela reads Bringing Up Vasu

My blog has brought me many good things and many good people. Aneela is one. People, I mean, not thing. Thought actually I mean person of course.

She writes an freakishly funny blog at golkamra, a name that I love so much that I want to steal it. I never miss a post, knowing before I click on the link in Reader that I will come away with a grin. The language is polished, the humour as much in the words as in the incidents and the baby-rearing, free of angst and the need to deify oneself. In other words, very nice.

Aneela sourced my book, sitting all the way in Melbourne. That by itself is pretty big a deal for me. Then she read it at one go, startling me considerably when she sent me an sms at some 3 am Australia time telling me that she had finished the book.

And now she has written this loving review. This is a friend's review, the kind of friend who defies anyone to say one word against Parul's book and see if your teeth are still intact.

She starts off saying....

I thought getting my hands on BUV was the difficult part. However, Monday evening, as I finally finally had The Book in my hands, I realised that a far more challenging task lay ahead. Borrowing from the Beatles,
What would I do if Parul sang out of tune?
Would I stand up and walk out on her book.
And BUV earnestly warbled back:
Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song. I will try not to sing out of key, yeah.

Read the rest here.

Thank you, Aneela. This felt like a hug all the way from Melbourne and for that, I am happy, touched and deeply grateful.

On writing

I have written earlier about wanting to read Stephen King's On Writing. Finally, unable to hear me whine about how I could not find it in any store, M ordered it on Flipkart. This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to write, not as a pastime or a weekend hobby but as your day-job, the thing you do after you wake up and brush and shower. There are many gems in this book, not just about the craft and how to cultivate it but also to handle the whole territory. I nodded and smiled through the book and was thrilled to find that Stephen King, author of over fifty worldwide bestsellers is also human, as against the demi-god that I always believed him to be. He is funny and wise and self-effacing and it's darned difficult to not love him for it.

If you are one of those people who wants to be a writer, you must read this book. No, you cannot borrow mine, I stopped lending my books after deciding that spending sleepless nights worrying about what would happen to them was not worth it.

I also thought a little bit about what I would like to tell a first-time writer, if he or she were to ask me for advice.

I would probably not give any advice about the writing per se, not being qualified to do so. (Maybe after I have published a dozen novels, I think to myself at this stage, being prone to happy day-dreams.)

Instead, I would tell them about people and how they react in certain rather predictable ways after your book hits the stands. You need to assess them and figure them out to preserve your own sanity and to continue writing without feeling completely miserable. Everyone you know will fall into one or more of the segments below.

The irrationally happy - The family and a bunch of friends. They will fume at every negative review and celebrate every sale. They will help spread the word. They will buy more copies than they need. They will look faintly surprised that nobody seems to have heard of your oeuvre. They will be truly proud of your piddly little but actually absolutely humongous achievement. If it were not for them, writing a book would be like dal-chawal without achaar.

The tell-it-like-it-is - Completely guileless, these are the people who talk and walk straight. Here, they will say, i read your book, this part was good, this was bad and this made me want to shoot myself. They will be open and honest and you will respect and fear them because you will know that what they tell you is what they tell the world at large. Their verdict can be absolutely nerve-wracking.

The I-can-do-it-too - You will be amazed at just how many people will tell you that they want to do it or easily could have done it too. Some of these chappies are just wishing, of course but some of them actually do have good books in them. To the former, say nothing, being the absolute epitome of good manners. To the latter, encourage. Someone did it for you too, remember?

The you-have-changed - It matters not that they haven't seen you for years, probably don't know your wife's name or that you have a dozen children. They suddenly have in-depth windows into your psyche. Hai, kitna itrati hai will be the constant refrain. There is no point squabbling with them or giving justifications, unless a trip back to high school is a kick you'd like.

The put-me-in-touch-with-your-publisher - Self explanatory. Rampant. Highly avoidable.

The suddenly-strong-silent-types - They pretend that the book did not happen. Treat same as above.

The envious - Irrespective of whether they are wannabe authors or not, a lot of people have felt this, some openly so. If you'd rather thought it would be nice to be at the receiving end of envy, you should know that it doesn't work. In fact, it's horrible.

King himself says that irrespective of which art you follow, there is always someone who is willing to tell you just how lousy you are. I have also found this to be true.

I am done with the people part but I am not done yet. In fact, I am going to go back to right where we started.

Writing a book cannot be something that is there inside of you but will have to wait till the right time comes. For most of us, and certainly for me, it does not come as divine inspiration, striking you like lightening one fine day. Also, you know what they say about lightening. The finest piece of advice I received about this aspect was from my husband - treat it like work, he said. As soon as I did that, things started falling into place. I wake up and I sit at my dining table and I write. I take no days off. There is no special environment, there are plenty of distractions like an eminently edible toddler currently under the impression that he is the master and commander of the universe and there are all of the drawbacks of working from home. Work needs to be done though. It will of course be doubly difficult if you have another full or part time job but if to quote my dean at business school, who said nights are for sleeping?

As always I can disclaim this is something that works for me. You may want to wait till you have an oak desk next to a French window overlooking a rose garden or you could give this a shot. Let me know how it goes.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Parul's left the building. Well, almost.

Blogging's been a little slow. We must remedy that with immediate effect. Much garbled nonsense follows and then I walk away, feeling happy at contributing to the cause of internet drivel.

Right, so we are all set to move into our new house. The number of decisions I have made these last few weeks puts any overworked CEO to shame. My phone is overflowing with the new contacts that I have made in hardware stores, sanitaryware shops and other suppliers in cupboard handles and door hinges and other such eminently boring but critical items.

Musk Melon or Italian Olive. Aqua Breeze or Ocean Blue? Does it matter?
Hefele. Hettich. How do you pronounce these foreign sounding names? Which letter remains silent?
Preciosa. Artemide. It's just lights. Am I being blasphemous?

Doing up a house is like trying to fill up a black hole. There is always something else you can do, something that is just a little bit more expensive but makes your house look so much better and goes so well with the curtains or carpets or commodes.

I thought I had it all covered though with the aid of natural brilliance and inborn taste. That was till yesterday when I commenced the last leg of my renovation work. Just the bathroom fittings and then we are done, I told M as he sat watching the race. Trips to the Jaquar (I always thought it was Jaguar, like the animal, you know. Turns out, not so much) followed. I looked at all the lovely fittings, turned all the knobs this way and that, got to see shower displays (without anyone actually getting wet fortunately) and finally selected some. Yesterday, I went to a dealer nearby to place my order. Gimme this, I said. Well, all that is fine, madam, he said, but you need to break down the tiles to fit these in.

Hyperventilation commences.

What nonsense you talk, man, I said hysterically, I can't be breaking things down now. Breaking is done. Now I am building which is the opposite to breaking.

The man shrugged. Sorry madam, new bathroom fittings means we break the tiles to fit in the device.

But what if something seeps from the bathroom? I have already painted the walls on the other side, I wailed.

Shrug, shrug.

Hyperventilation continues.

At this point, my dear reader, you wonder why I am in a hurry to change the fittings. Let me show what currently exists in my master bathroom and then you will not ask again.

The central crystal broke during renovation. I guess this is what they call tragi-comic?

Yes sir, big, ugly crystals. M says he will not enter the bathroom till the crystals are gone. I agree. But we are sort of stuck now, yes? Yes.

While I was busy tackling these issues of global significance, my little boy fell ill. Again. A nasty cough this time. The domestic staff agreed that it was a case of nazar and suggested different ways to take it out. Grandparents were worried sick and furiously searched the internet for remedies. He is somewhat better today and is wearing my mangalsutra (taali). M says he looks like Bappi Lahiri. A bit more blubber is needed for him to fit the description.

Yesterday, we did a small puja at the new house. I did Indian which is to say I wore a sari. (No pictures, the world is not ready yet). The fans have not been installed in the new house yet which meant that we all pretty much collapsed with the heat. But it was nice.

The Crossword Sale is on. I went yesterday and bought three books (a Wodehouse included, Wodehouse is always included, see?) and was happy and miserable at the same time at how many new books I have collected that I just don't seem to get the time to read. Constant refrain this has become. Solution I have not.

I noticed that my own book was not on sale. What does that mean?I don't know.

Oh and my book did get some reviews recently (you were relieved that I seemed to done with all the self-promotion? Not yet, my friend, not yet). One was in Mother and Baby (thanks for the tip-off, M4)

The Mother and Baby review. This is what it says -

Ever wondered how even the best laid plans can go awry when it comes to parenting? That's what Parul Sharma's book is all about. BUV:That 1st Year tells the quirky fictional tale of 1st-time mum Mira who thinks all the gyaan she acquired during pregnancy will turn her into supermom once the baby's out. But the minute Vasu, her newborn, settles in her lap, Mira finds herself panicking over nappy changing, feeding, losing her sleep, job and her weight! The book is fun to read as you go along with Mira on her journey through motherhood's first year and discover that parenting can only be learned through experience, your perfect baby can be a handful at times and it all comes down to the love and support of near and dear ones that sees you through it all. Very Indian in flavour, it has everything distinctly desi from the eunuch's visit to the woes of losing one's maid to filmstar worship and drama at the local sandwich-wallah! We especially loved the hilarious letters from mum to baby that highlighted all the foolish foibles of Mira, who could be you, me and every mum in India.
The other review appeared in a website called Open Magazine (thanks for the screenshot, M).

This is what it says.

Bringing Up Vasu: The First Year
Parul Sharma | Westland | 262 pages | Rs 250

This book reads like a personal diary of a first-time mother who always thought she’d be the quintessential supermom, but falls short by a mile. She encounters the complex insecurities that all new mothers are ridden with—depression about her figure, competence in preempting her baby’s Unspoken needs, uncertainty about rejoining the rat race, feeble attempts at fitting in with the outside world and even the preposterous demands of a preschool. The last, though, was probably way too premature for this book. What the book essentially tells you is that it’s the memorable journey that matters, and whether you pass it with flying colours or not does not. For a member of the ‘first-time-mother’s commune’, it’s a witty read that lends empathy to your state of being, interspersed with timely giggles. But for anybody outside this matrix, it’s probably a reality you’d rather not face.
The other House of the Gregory kind, I am still in love with. In fact, yesterday I watched an interview of his on Inside the Actor's Studio on Sony Pix, I think and the flame stood rekindled.

Hmmm, I think I am becoming an infrequent-but-long-posts sort of blogger. Is that nice or not so much?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The London Files

We got back today after what appears to be several days but was actually only a long weekend. Note that I use the word 'we' and not the infinitely more depressing 'I' because at the last minute, my husband and the leading man of this blog was able to join me after all. He could not take the same flight though and ended up going , no, not later but a full twelve hours in advance. I like this man. I would totally marry him if I hadn't already.

That meant that I still ended up travelling to London on my own. After a cheery wave to my son and his nani (almost certainly also my mother but one can never be sure these days given that she has eyes only for the little fellow) I started on my voyage. When I say cheery wave, obviously I mean a howl of complete and abject misery but we know how these things are. However, once I reached the airport and passed immigration, I landed at the Jet Airways lounge. I loved it on sight and would have happily missed my flight and just camped there for the night if people had not made it their business to come by and check if I were indeed Ms Sharma and would I please finish the copious amounts of coffee and cake and sandwiches and commence to Gate number whatever the hell and get on with the boarding. Seriously, it was just fabulous.

Given how intent I was upon having fun, as soon as the seatbelt signs were switched off and entertainment and the bar had been declared open for the night, I immediately ordered a mug full of their twenty year old port wine and then proceeded to watch three and a half films in a row - the very entertaining art heist oldie How to Steal A Million, the almost-75%-boring Down With Love and the lovely Mira Nair drama Vanity Fair. Of course I may be completely off the mark with my opinion of these films but you know how much I love movie time. Most of the passengers went off to sleep but I was wide awake and raring to go. I am never restrains-friendly.

So then London arrived. That of course is technically incorrect. I arrived in London. More formalities and following M's instructions to the T, nearly fainting over the price of a single Heathrow Express ticket to Paddington station, recovering just in time to catch the train and then reaching the station only to cause huge amounts of confusion while attempting to find M at the station.

Me: I am at the Burger King, baby. Burger King!
M: Huh? There is no Burger King, come to the McDonald. McDONALD!
Me: I see a street leading me outside. Maybe I will just head out.
M: No, wait! Don't wander outside.
Me: Oh it will be fine, you see me outside next to, now let me see, yes....Aberdeen Steak House
M: Huh? Where the hell is that? Where the hell are you?
Me: I am here. You know, just....around.
M: Baby, please just tell me where you are. This is insane.
Me: Hmm, ok, ok, let me try again. I see a very nice place here, bakery goodies, croissants and all, it's called Upper Crust. Remember the Upper Crust in Ahmedabad?
M: This is 200 bucks a minute, stay put! I am coming to get you.

Reunion! Much jubilation at seeing the spouse after the longest time.

M took me to where were staying in Oxford Street, very nice location and a very nice area. I dumped my stuff and was itching to get out and see things, conquer cities, explore cultures. And eat. Naturally.

We walked to Oxford Street and then Regent Street and did a spot of window shopping which meant we said yay, what lovely discounts and we must come back tomorrow and buy some stuff. Couple of things were established at this point. One, we would be going home considerably poorer than we had arrived. Two, we were starving.

There were plenty of al fresco dining taking place in the area. It was completely dark when we headed to an Italian restaurant and sat outside. People were milling about at the pub next door, holding their Guiness or beer and hanging out, bitching about their day at work and what a terrible person their boss is. The vivacious waitress took our orders and assured us we would stuffing respective faces soon. A couple of beautiful women came and sat next to us. They were Iranians who lived in the US, they said.

Iranian woman: So what have you guys ordered?
Me: We are vegetarians so just some pasta and things.
Iranian woman (aghast): You don't eat any meat. Where do you get your protein from? Not that you look particularly malnourished...
Me: Err...

They were quite friendly and struck up conversations with everyone including the American father-daughter pair sitting on their other side.

Iranian woman: Your daughter is gorgeous!
American father: Yeah, I guess.
Iranian woman, turning to the girl: How old are you? 15?
American girl: Huh? I am 28!
Iranian woman: You don't look it. Are you the youngest in the family? (Because that would have explained everything)
American girl: No! I am the eldest.
Iranian woman: You don't look it.

On our other side, two really old British women came and took their seats. The waitress came to take their orders.

Old woman: How is the house red?
Waitress (displaying an intense, deep knowledge of wines): Good.
Old woman (acknowledging the above): Oh ok then. I will have a glass.

After this refreshing bout of honesty all around, everyone's meals arrived and much chomping followed. The pasta was bland. I didn't like it and left most. Everyone commented on this and I felt I was eating at home. By the time we finished it was already early morning in India and my eyes were drooping. We called it a day.

I woke up at five in the morning the next day and started nudging M and talking to him and not letting him sleep and generally being a pain in the ass. Let's go out, I whined, why are we wasting time indoors. I have married a loon, he grumbled. Somehow I passed two hours to what he would call a decent hour. We had breakfast and read unfamiliar newspapers and then headed out to Hyde Park. Just as we were walking into the park, we saw yesteryear badminton champ and Deepika P's daddy Prakash Padukone and presumably his wife walking out. Both M and I gawped shamelessly at the man and then exclaimed what a star, what a star to each other for ten minutes after he had disappeared from sight. Post this gawkery, we ambled along the lovely park for about two hours, tsk-tsking at people who were sacrificing in the name of fitness, jogging and skating and cycling and other strenuous and wholly unnecessary activities.

M, remembering Mohabbatein. Or Canada.

Turncoat, you scream at me, you swim and run and gym yourself. That my friends, was the Parul of yore. On my way to London, I read in Time magazine, no less that exercise makes you lose absolutely. no. weight. Yeah, that's right. So I am going to be a couch potato to beat all couch potatoes from now on. A whole row of potatoes, even.

No more running-shunning. Only standing still and posing for pictures.

We left Hyde Park once the shops were declared open and then started a flurry of retail therapy that left London reeling. Gap, Zara, Brooks Brothers, Church's Shoes, Hamley Toy Shop and even Accessorize, which I have liked the sound of since Shopaholic, they were all visited and money spent.

Everything on sale. Nothing for free.

Couple time at last, so we obviously go to a toy shop.

Gimme coffee or gimme death. After hours of retail therapy.

Finally, tired, nay, exhausted, we trooped back to put our stuff because it was now time




The concert! What I had travelled a thousand miles for. M had no ticket of course, given that he decided to come along only at the last minute but he came with me to Wembley stadium. I felt a little strange as I said goodbye and made my way indoors. What sort of a person comes for a concert alone? I looked at large groups of happy friends and families that had come together, laughing as they drank large amounts of beer and ate pizza. I made my solitary way to the stand, missing M already and Adi even more and wishing that we were all in this together. Then I was shown out to my seat and as I stepped out into the stand and had my first look at the stadium, I had the shock of my life. There must have been about 90,000 people in that stadium. It was packed! I had never seen so many people together in my life given that I am sort of loser who has never even watched a cricket match live. Oh my god, this is so cool, I said and took my seat. The stage was incredible, the hugest structure ever. It was not called 360 degree for a reason. The view was pretty much equally good from all sides of the stadium. Then the crowds started making Mexican waves and I forgot all about being alone. This is U2! This is me! Me and Bono! When the band finally came on stage, the noise was deafening. The music was incredible and the musicians nothing short of masterful at any point. They held the audience spellbound for almost two hours and unlike the smaller shows that I have been to earlier, it was not just the music that was the enthrallment. It was the lights and the scale and the stage and the larger than life realization that it's U2 and then, there was the music. There is a lot of it available on YouTube already of course so if you want to feel really envious of me, you can catch it here, for one.

My iPhone could not do it justice but some glimpses of the monster stage

What was even more amazing was what happened after the show. I mean, here you have a 100,000 people getting out of a stadium and making their way to a station and all of them hope to catch a train and get home before too long. You expect people to be excited and excitable, unruly and rude and pushy and shovy and all of the abovy. Incredibly though, nothing of the sort happened. All these thousands of people made their way without as much as a 'hurry up, will ya' and then waited for their trains and got into them and left. Incredible. I mean, M and I were all set to use our elbows to nudge our way forward and do as much as RG as was required. Something of a lesson, there and I doff my hat to you all, old chaps for that amazing display of good behaviour.

Right. then. My concert was over. One more tick on the list of life. The next day dawned and fortunately I was able to sleep in a little late. We finished breakfast and headed to the National Gallery of Art. Now, I like the impressionists. They say a lot without saying a lot, if you know what I mean.

A very tired culture vulture.

The gallery had some famous paintings like this one.

The Virgin of the Rocks by Leonardo Da Vinci. It was just our luck that we could not see this one as it was out for a clean-up at that time.

We did however manage to see this.

Sunflowers by Van Gogh. A pretty picture, what?

And this.

Whistlejacket, the horse. Stubbs, the painter.

After spending a few hours in the Gallery, we made our way to the Gallery shop from where I bought a few Monet prints for my house, like this one here.

The Gare St-Lazare. God, I love this painting.

One more train journey. Heathrow airport. Terminal 3 appearing like Dadar station at peak hour. More films. More wine. Immigration. The interminable wait for luggage. Walk out of the airport. And then one face shining among hundreds mouthing the words 'Mumma, Daddy' and stretching out his arms. Running towards that child, laughing and almost crying and vowing to never leave him again, knowing that I will.

It's great to go out. It's even better to come back home.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The one where I try to get cool

My swimming lessons have started in right earnest. I approached the whole thing in my usual cool, calm and completely relaxed manner which is to say I wanted to swim to the top of the class in the first lesson itself. (Newbies to the blog: please refer to the posts on Spanish, Mumbai Marathon and whatever else for reference on competitive/maggu nature of blogger). Of course there is no class, I am the only one in the whole big, wide pool. Me and the supremely patient coach. He encourages every small step (stroke). After many rounds of exercises and what-have-you, I put my face into the water and found myself floating. Oh this is easy-peasy, I thought to myself and came up for air. Well done, well done, said the coach, now as you float, try to move the arms and legs too. Oh cool, I said and thrashed about widly with all limbs, the face still in the water. All that movement caused me to move ahead. Oh wonderful, exclaimed the coach, now how about trying to lift your head while you do this? Oh sure, I said and promptly started to drown. Gah, pah, wah, I gasped as I was pulled up, this is tough, I want to swim underwater. But you won't be able to swim more than very short distances if you hold your breath, explained the burly coach, you have to come up for air. I tried again. And again, with the same result, namely sinking like a stone. The head is the heaviest part of the body, he said ruminatively, it is always easier to float when it is immersed. Specially mine, you know, I agreed vehemently, with all those brains crammed inside. He did not comment. And so it goes, I could swim half the width of the pool on my third day, provided all the action was underwater. I try to stick my head out and suddenly I feel as if I am going to meet my watery grave there and then.

Underwater is nice. Blue. Peaceful. Quiet. So much water. I feel like a fish. Maybe they can hook me to some oxygen tank type appratus and I can do it indefinitely.

And yet, you laugh.

I was so excited about swimming lessons that I completely forgot to apply any manner of sun protection on the body. On the first day itself, I got burnt to a crisp. M applied aloe vera gel on my stinging skin in the evening and begged me to please carry my sun-block and please slather it all over. I promised.

And promptly forgot all about it on the next day too. Consequently, I currently look as if I permanently have a white version of my red Speedo swimsuit on. Tan is a mild term for what I really have. Specially my shoulders where I am a bag full of ouches if Adi tries to climb over them, for reasons of play or punishment.

On day three however, I remembered the sun-block and let me tell you, being unburnt is a far superior state than being burnt.

I will be taking three days off from this watery madness starting tomorrow as I leave for London.

I am reading what I have written so far and on paper (or web), my life appears just so cool. It's almost as if I jet all over the world for rock acts and then come back to leisurely days spent lounging about in the pool and sipping on cocktails. If only the reality weren't so different.

My mom arrives today and Nani and Adi will be left by themselves to wreak whatever manner of havoc they deem fit. I am trying to be a cool mom, telling myself repeatedly that I should pursue my own interests and that I should not give up on what is left of my life and that he will be so proud of having a mom who has some genuine experiences in her pocket and I am failing miserably. I mean, I haven't even left yet, and I am missing him already. Coolness is not an easy acquisition, my friends. Also, I think I will have to wear a mask to the concert and if that does not sound weird, I don't know what does.

Seeing people wear masks in Mumbai as they go about their work is like having someone's vision of a terrible future come true and then living in it.

On that sombre note, I leave you and will be back after the trip, hopefully with some pretty pictures of the lovely London. Be good, children.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

In its august presence

I looked at my calendar today and realized that I had been looking at the picture of Il Soliti Ignoti (my theme for 2009 is Pretension about Foreign Films) a tad longer than I should have. Longer as in a month longer. The calendar was still stuck in June. The month of July came and went and I lost my chance to stare at a poster of Divorzio all'italiana forever. Sure I have been busy but to lose an entire month is still a bit much, wouldn't you say? Anyway, so we are in August and my calendar gives me this.

Another fantastic Italian movie, I am sure, that I haven't seen and future prospect for seeing it is pretty bleak too.

August is a funny sort of month. For one thing, it screams at you that half the year is over and if you had been thinking that there is plenty of time for accomplishing that comprehensive resolution list that you drew up (just yesterday it seems like but actually a good eight months back), well, there is not. God forbid that weight-loss had been one of your aims. This is the worst time to do anything about it because Raksha Bandhan has just passed us by and the leftover laddoos, the symbol of sibling love (or whatever, take your pick), are begging to be devoured. After that? Hah, we will pound you with Ganesh Chaturthi and Janmashtmi and Dusshehra and Dhanteras and Eid and then hahaha, Diwali which is not considered auspicious unless you welcome the goddess Lakshmi with five kilos sitting firmly around your hips. Before you have had time to burp and ask for seconds, there is Christmas with cake and New Year's Eve with parties and celebrations and the vow to undo it all in the coming year.

So yes, sorry to depress the hell out of you but this is no time to start a diet.

You could work out and burn it all off though.

Now you are depressed.

I got quite worked up over the whole August issue and started swimming lessons today. The coach says I can successfully swim in about 15 days time, provided I don't miss a class. This is going to be an exercise. It's also going to be an exercise in buoyancy and will-power and flotation and discipline.

I am going to eat healthy, I decided as panic mounted about the Whole August Thing. Get me some fruit, I told Pramod, all this snacking on biscuits, cakes and cookies needs to stop. Didi, apples are 180 rupees a kilo, he wailed at me over the phone a few minutes later from the fruit-cart. What, I said, forget it, we will snack on guavas or something. Hmm, things are terribly expensive and although I am the sort of woman who doesn't know the price of Surf over Tide, I do think that apples are not that healthy.

August is here and I am not eating any healthier.

All my resolve to read more is going to naught too. I can no longer blame Adi for giving me no time for my books. The truth is that he spends a couple of hours at school and then he naps for a fair bit and then he goes downstairs to play with his friends, changing BFFs everyday which is not okay at two or twenty if you ask me but then what do I know. The fact is I have plenty of time to read but I squander it instead, giggling over funny blogs, dreaming of beautiful houses in Marrakesh and such like, looking at people's pictures on Facebook and wondering how everyone except me seems to have such exciting lives and overall being quite the opposite of diligent.

So yes, August is here and a dent has not been made in the reading list.


In fact I think I need to spend less time online if I have to accomplish anything with my life at all.

Wait, I need to quickly tweet this thought.

I decided that I need to get some inspiration to really get going. So I bundled Adi into the car and ordered Pramod to take us to Crossword. Adi of course told everyone who cared to listen (or not) that 'I am goin to Cosswurd Buks'. Give me 'On Writing' by Stephen King, I commanded the man at the counter. Maybe some inspirational words from my favourite author will warm me up for my own script. Not in stock, madam, I was told. I contemplated throwing myself down on the floor and thrashing about for a few moments before remembering that that strategy comes with an expiration date that coincides with your third birthday. So I returned home and then decided to blog instead.

Bloody August, this is all its fault.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

London calling

I am getting really excited about my upcoming trip to London. The concert is one that I have waited for forever, or ever since 'Where the streets have no name' shone out at me from our EC television set in ...1987, wasn't it? a programme that was called Pre-Grammy Awards, Doordarshan only annual tip of the hat to English music, where they would deign to show us the videos of songs nominated for the Best Song category. I am all for nostalgia as you know but I don't want those days of entertainment deprivation back again. Ever. As it is, I am working at furious speed to make up for lost time. I didn't have any cousins to bring back musical booty from the land of MTV. Buying music was pretty much out of the question too basis affordability and availability.

And so, now I buy and download more music than I will ever be able to listen to and appreciate. That is the problem with (some) new money.

U2 concert! This is not as big as Metallica for me, not by a long way but still, they are considered by many to be the best band in the world and so I think a little excitement is timely.

When I say I am a little excited, I mean, I have already seen bits and pieces of the others legs of the same tour on YouTube, checked out pictures, ferretted out the set-list, decided on what I am going to wear and proudly made the same list on my i-Pod which I am currently listening to every waking hour everyday. M sees me get obsessed thus and asks me why I am bothering to go at all. Hmph, what would he know.

This is going to be only my second trip to London. The first time around, I did the whole tourist thing, gawping at maps standing in the middle of the street and getting excited seeing big red buses and bobbies and Madame Tussauds and the Tower of London and Harrods and a show and marvelled at how everyone had the clipped accent, duh and checked to see if the stiff upper lip was a real thing and you get the idea. This time, I am there for barely two days and would like to do the insider's thing, the offbeat stuff, you know. So if you are a Londoner, do recommend your personal must-dos (the places I mean). After Barcelona, it's my Top City so would love to get around a bit.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Hindustan Times reviews Bringing Up Vasu

Today's Hindustan Times carries a review of Bringing Up Vasu. You can read it online here. Opinions, comments are welcome, as always.

Thanks SMM, for the tip-off!