Thursday, October 29, 2009

On parenting

I was recently asked to contribute to an e-magazine. This is the unedited version of what I wrote for them. It lists down ten things that I personally try to live by as a parent.

On Parenting

My husband says that the only life-changing event in a persons life is becoming a parent. He is probably right. I did find myself making a few adjustments when I moved out of my parents' house to go away to college; a little later perhaps I learned new tricks of survival when I stepped into a life of cubicles and water coolers; I definitely mellowed down a little when I got married, but nothing comes close to the what I felt when a squalling bundle was handed over to me. If one were to insist on similes, then a truck hitting you at full speed or falling out of an airplane would probably come close. In a nice way, of course.

At least, most of the time.

If someone was to ask me what I have learnt in the years since I became a parent, it would fill a book. And did. My personal top ten pearls of wisdom would be the following.

Keep your sense of humour handy at all times. It will come in useful when the baby has spat up on your office clothes, the older one has missed the school-bus, the maid wants to know what to cook given the refrigerator has run empty and the nanny has taken the day off.

Accept that the child will know that you love her, irrespective of the choices you make. You can chose to stay at home, work from home, go to work part-time or chase that CEO's chair with all your might, the child will sense that she is priority.

Don’t let guilt get the better of you. Of course you feel it, we all do. Whether its taking an extra ten minutes to get dressed or spending some time at the gym, a parent's lot is to worry about whether it is at the expense of the child. I don’t think there is a device made yet that can drain parents of guilt. But buying the child another toy will not resolve it.

Give your child the best of you. Understand the best aspects of your personality and spend the time and effort to pass them on to your child. If you are a voracious reader, read comics and simple stories to him. If you could have been a leading artist (or better still, are), splash about colours with the child.

Set limits. It's surprising how early they start to understand the difference between what is acceptable or and not. Prevent them from growing into obnoxious adults. For the worlds sake.

Set examples. If you cannot practice it yourself, forget about teaching it to the child. It is a little difficult to deny junior an extra chocolate when you have trouble not buying a new designer watch for no special reason.

Set them free. It does not matter how fabulous you are. Your child still needs the freedom to become his or her own person. The road to parenting is fraught with challenges for control freaks.

Realize that your time together is limited. Empty-nesters are always left wondering where the time went. Try not to spend too much of it fighting and arguing.

Have fun with them. Once in a while, stripped of responsibility, look at your children as people and be amazed at what fantastic, interesting people they are.

Love them with all your might. Nobody said it was going to be easy but if there is one investment worth nurturing in life, this is it.

You can read the article by going to this website and clicking on Haute Wheels, which appears on the left at the bottom of the page..

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mi casa

I have been dithering over the house pictures for the longest time. But no more, today a complete house tour has been organized. Well, it's not as much a tour as a 'take a look' given that it is a Mumbai flat, not a mansion but I thought I would walk you through it anyway. Without much ado, chez Parul.

This picture was taken on Diwali, hence the toran at the door.

This mirror hangs alongside the passage. Now this passage is awfully narrow and I have been thinking of some way to bung in a shoe-rack here but haven't been successful so far.

Just next to the mirror, our keys and the ubiquitous tea-light holder. I love tea-lights and often add mogra essential oil to the diffuser. Of course, the other day, my boy got hold of the bottle of the said oil and was smelling like a sackful of mogra flowers the entire day. Less reputable comparisons came to mind but I remembered my tehzeeb just in time.

The walk through the hall. Both M and I have a huge weakness for UP and Kashmiri carpets. When we have enough money, rugs from Morocco and Turkey will follow but for now, these do nicely. I think.

This is our sitting area. I realize now that I should have fluffed up the pillows and cushions a little. Coffee table began it's life as a dining table but has been demoted since.

Being on the first floor means we don't get as much natural light as we'd like. This handblown glass Preciosa chandelier is switched on more often than we'd like. Incidentally, we have light-saving/LED bulbs everywhere and I can tell you from personal experience that it makes a huge difference to the electricity bill.

The dining room. It has a wall full of windows on one side.

Our dining chairs. The Italian fabric bears the marks of the toddler already (carefully concealed in the picture).

My candle-stand and diffuser spend their lives sitting on the dining table. Both bought many years ago at Good Earth. Good purchase in hindsight because I haven't grown tired of them at all.

The planters that sit on the sill of the dining room windows. Ghanta Singh hangs above them.

I love terracotta animals and things. This frog sits in one of my planters, croaking at passersby. Now let's step into my favourite place in this house, Adi's room.

This room thankfully gets a lot of sun, specially in the mornings. We have our tea and Adi his milk in this room. We got the table and chairs from Popcorn Furniture. The gray pants in the background behind the Rajasthani trunk are the maali's as he waters the plants. Given that M and I don't have one green thumb between us but love greenery, this guy's job is rather critical. Pigeon is not part of property.

Couple of details from our bedroom. The clock is fake antique looking something. I liked the design and picked it up but it doesn't keep very good time. The brass urli, bought from Dhoop, one of my favourite stores in Bandra is sitting under the bench, not been packed yet after Diwali.

Detail from guest room/spare room/parents' room. I had my mera walla cream moment with the Asian Paints people while having this particular niche in the wall painted. I wanted this exact shade of turquoise and after much brow-beating I finally got it. The Tanjore painting was made by Amma (M's mom) in 2001. Her father was an artist and she makes these paintings to keep the art alive.

This is my small study. It was being used as a drying area by the previous owners, as you can see by the clotheslines outside the window. I had a wooden floor put in and covered the whole thing with blinds and now I have what Virginia Woolf called a room of one's own. I love that writing desk and I love my big leather chair and often write here.

So yes, there you have it, my labour of love. It's far from complete, of course but then a house is perpetually a site under construction, isn't it? Hope you enjoyed the house tour.

Edited to add: Most pictures taken by the good man and husband with his Nikon D 80 camera using either his 50 mm f1.8 or his 18-135mm f3.5 lens. Not that the photography mumbo-jumbo means much but still, I aim to impress.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Khaana and memories ka khazana

I saw this tag at D's and it tempted me immediately. It asks of you to describe the five most memorable meals you've had. I wrote this post and realized that memorable meals are not about the food alone. They are about the people you eat them with, the people who prepare them, what your senses feel and record of the moment and indeed, about the time of your life when you have them. In chronological order, my top five:

Chaat chaat kar plate saaf kar di, by God: The mohalla where my mother comes from has a halwai at every corner and trips to Nani's house meant being treated regularly to rabdi and samosas and kulhad ka doodh. Clearly, when they said Nani ke ghar jayenge, mote hokar aayenge they meant it literally. Once we went to Nani's house, we were all free birds. We ran from house to house without much supervision. Mom did her own thing, meeting her extended family and friends. So it is surprising that I remember Mom and self trooping off one day to eat chaat at a really obscure shop when I could not have been more than 8 or 10. The shop was a soot-covered affair with an old man sitting at the karhai and frying some delectable looking things. He greeted my mother as if she were a child and asked if he could prepare two plates of his famous chaat. We sat on wooden benches and waited for the man to weave his magic. That chaat, what do I say? I can only hope I can eat it again once in my life, that the shop and the shopkeeper have both not fallen prey to the passage of time. The aloo-tikki was crisp on the outside and soft inside, the dahi was cool, the sonth was perfect, the hari chutney was delectable and the whole thing stayed hot till the last bite. So when I crib about the soggy puris and the ubiquitous hara dhaniya on them, it is for a reason. I have already been to chaat heaven.

Thandi hawaein, paranthe lekar aayein : This was when I was about 14 and in Class IX. Our (sad, sad, sad) school was pretty big on debates but did not have a debating team. For every inter-school debating event, students were asked to prepare and then the best were picked out to represent the school. This may appear to be hugely democratic but in reality, this left the field open for the teacher's pets (clearly, I was not one of them; else I would have called it hugely democratic and left it at that). Now I quite liked the idea of getting on stage and declaiming about this and that till the cows came home and having junta applaud me at the end. So when a school in Mussourie invited us for a Hindi debate, I jumped at the chance. All sorts of politics ensued but I managed to get selected (there is a God and he loves misfit teens). Imagine getting to go out of town for a school event! In my tame life, this was pretty big. When we (the teacher in charge, a classmate and self) arrived in Mussourie, the cold was enough to freeze our teeth off. It was unrelenting. I have spent many years in Dehradun but still, I don't remember the valley ever getting as cold as those few days in Mussourie. It went right through my two layers of sweaters and school blazer and entered my hands and feet and stayed there. Anyway, so we did really well in the debate and I got a prize (not first; else I would have mentioned that, yes?). Suddenly the path to becoming the teacher's pet seemed to be smooth and easy. When we came back to the hotel where we were being put up (that setting I am going to use in a book someday), the teacher asked us if we were hungry. Err, yes, we said shyly. She called one of the hotel staff and asked him what would be available. Aloo parathas, he said. Well, bring them on, she said. When the steaming hot aloo paranthas arrived, they were accompanied by a suspect looking ketchup. I don't know whether it was the kaamyaabi ka nasha, the chattering teeth or the ghostly hotel setting but those aloo paranthas were nothing short of divine.

Papa kehte hain badi bhujiya khayega: In college at Delhi, I stayed with a bunch of girls in PG digs. It's a very common thing to do in Delhi because of limited seats in college hostels and most of the colonies around North Campus are teeming with householders willing to give one or more floors of their houses to students from all corners of the country. Our flat provided us with a kitchen complete with a gas stove and LPG connection but none of the eight residents could cook and the aromas of cooking masalas would emanate from the kitchen only when someone's obliging mother arrived. The rest of the time, we made do with the dabbawallah, as in the food he brought. Burnt rotis, watery daal and the cheapest rice on the market. Apart from ribs that stuck out a mile, we also had people falling ill all the time. Also, because the food was so bad, it was hardly eaten. The rest of the time we snacked on tea (excellent because the tea leaves were real, unadulterated Darjeeling tea leaves that my flatmates got) and bread and aloo bhujiya. I still eat aloo-bhujiya and bread and I still remember those times. We might have been miserable then but through the looking glass of the passage of years, they sure look like the good old times now. The friends I made then, those lovely Sikkimese girls, are my friends even today.

Italian mein pizza ko kya kehta hain: Time took a turn and one moved up in life. Foreign holidays became possible and we ate in many different countries and many different cuisines but food was never really a priority. We often bought bread, cheese and juice from the nearest supermarket and ate when we took a break from sightseeing. The fact is that after we got married, M was in a hurry to show me all the things that I wanted to and he already had - Venus De Milo, The Birth of Venus, Michelangelo's Dying Slave, The Sistine Chapel - not surprisingly, there was not much time or money left to eat. All this changed when we went to Italy. Because we had limited money, we went in freezing winters. We first went to Florence and checked into the small hotel where our room had a view of the Duomo, no less. It was already late in the evening and we were starving. There was a small market nearby and we walked into the first restaurant that we came across. The cook there was a handsome man and after duly winking at me whipped up some zuppa de verdura and margarita pizza that made me want to shift to Italy permanently. Such simple ingredients and yet, what magic those Italians conjure. No, I will never forget my first Italian meal. In Italy, that is. Ever.

Yeh khana kya Alibaug se aaya hai: I think I have written about this before. We went to a resort in Alibaug in June last year. They have a restaurant called Kokum and Spice where we had one of our meals. We were the only guests there, given that the property had barely opened. The chef himself came out to take our order and explained that he specialized in coastal cuisine. Normally when coastal is followed by cuisine, we vegetarians beat a hasty retreat, carrying our sattvik tongues elsewhere but in this case he was convinced that he could feed us and while he was at it, whip up some khichdi for the child. Now I don't know if it was a case of naya-naya mulla going dohra in namaaz or the astoundingly fresh spices that he used but that meal I will not forget till my dying day. What flavours, they just burst in your mouth. The aroma filled your nostrils and entered your heart and made unforgettable memories out of the food. I have been telling Mahesh that we should make a day trip to Alibaug just for lunch one of these days. Let's see how that goes.

What a lovely tag, I say. I could write and write and not get tired. If you are a foodie, you should take this up. Trust me, you'll have fun.

Friday, October 16, 2009

My deah, it's Dee-waa-lay

I thought I would just line up all the residents of the household and give everyone's progress in life.

Adi: Still in the midst of the absolutely traumatic (for us, he seems to be enjoying it) twos, he has time off from pre-school these days. I had no idea that pre-schools gave time off. I mean, it's not like they study quantum physics there, why should they need to take a break? Then I remembered the teachers and it all made sense. So he is at home all day and having fun, fiddling about the buttons of the new washing machine or getting fascinated by the twinkling star-shaped decorative lights at our neighbours or generally getting underfoot. He suddenly started calling Diwali Dee-Waa-Lay in a very Brit accent, flummoxing me completely before I realized that his beloved Cbeebies (which I have convinced him comes alive ONLY between seven and eight every evening) has been showing Diwali specials and the eminently Brit channel has been draping its characters in saris and feeding them Indian mithais. First class. We have realized a tad belatedly that we did not time the Singapore and Delhi holiday too well. He had already had two weeks off when we came back, sent him to playschool and found that he came back early holding a paper lantern and a jar of sweets and bearing the news that he would not be required to pursue the alphabet till the 29th. Hmm.

Mahesh: He continues to moan and groan about having to work and regularly tells me that I should quickly figure out a way to become a bestselling, multimillion dollar earning author so that he can take early (and how) retirement and sit at home, playing with his son all day and taking long naps. I know this because he keeps reading out trivial details about Chetan Bhagat to me. He is mighty thrilled that Argentina has made it to the FIFA World Cup 2010 but when I asked him if we would be going to South Africa to witness his favourite team in action, he informed me that we would be making fresh popcorn and watching it on the telly. Spoilsport. Literally. And his boy (no, seriously he calls him that) Kimi Raikkonen is being kicked out (or whatever) of Ferrari and will be now pursuing some rally type thing back home in Finland. This has upset him greatly. Somehow I get the feeling that rally racing in Finland does not hold the same charm as Formula One but I stand at risk if I say that.

Me: I am in limbo. My second novel is currently with my editor and is being judged. I try not to think about too much because it makes me incredibly nervous. I am actually surprised that I am writing about it here. Usually, I am so private that till things are signed, sealed and delivered I don't even mention them to anyone. What if she doesn't like it, I torture myself with this question again and again. This nervousness has caused a huge block as far as the next book is concerned. I keep starting it and then find the words lame and the voice unreal. It is a good story, I know that, I just need to figure out a way to tell it well. Not easy, not easy at all.

The house: We got back from our trip and started doing up the house with renewed enthusiasm. My pet project in the house is my study, a tiny balcony actually that has been covered to make a room. I got wooden flooring installed in it and the next day a pipe in the adjoining kitchen burst. Yes, the water gods continue to be unhappy with us. The water seeped out all over the kitchen and under the new floor of the study. Panic prevailed before the plumber was called and the new floor taken out and left out to dry. Most upsetting. It's all resolved now and after lightening our wallets, we are now looking at having the wooden floor put back in and can use the kitchen again. I have bought a lovely writing desk though and have been regularly dreaming of churning out great works of literature sitting and working at it. Time will tell.

Diwali/Dee-waa-lay: The Diwali lunch menu is aloo-gobhi, chhole (the more traditional aloo-subzi has been replaced by this), poori, boondi ka raita and phirni. I have made extensive phone calls to Mom and taken down every recipe to the last detail - you know water is boiling well when bubbles start appearing. Now to execute it. Good old Gajini is there to help me and M is known to polish off whatever I cook so I am not too scared. We will be decorating the house as soon as I finish this post, Adi seems to like the idea a lot and is currently gobbling down his breakfast so that we can get to it. I plan to get a couple of sparklers for him to light and there will be a pooja of sorts. There is a box of absolutely sinful chocolates with almond centers sitting in front of me and testing my will-power every second of my being. Yes, when fattening foods beckon you from all corners of the house then a chill in the air or not, you know it's Diwali.

We hope you have a terrific Diwali and a lovely festive season ahead. Be good, be bad, just have fun.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Stars big and small

This blog is supposed to record all the earth-shattering events that take place in my life so it's unforgivable how I haven't written about the recent spate of celebrity spotting that has taken place.

I know London happened quite a few weeks back but in my excitement at seeing Bono and the boys, I missed writing about the other stars of the firmament, a strange synonym for the sky, I am told.

Rani Mukherjee was seen as we wandered up and down Oxford Street, trying to find a pair of shoes for M. Finding an agreeable pair of shoes for M is less likely than finding Rani Mukherjee, I will have you know. Now, I am not clued into fashion like the girls at High Heel Confidential but I did notice that she was wearing an electric blue sleeveless dress and looking darker and shorter and thinner and much more attractive than she had led me to believe all these years. It's a good thing she got her shopping done then. After the stupendously stupid Dil Bole Hadippa, am sure her heart is not in it anyway. But both she and I like boys called Adi, so we are all good.

Moving on, we were looking for a place to eat among the several roadside eateries around the area and sitting inconspicuously at a table were Boman Irani and Ritesh Deshmukh. One cannot really be too inconspicuous when one is as dazzlingly handsome and leaking star appeal from all pores like Ritesh D but you know how it is. Also, Ritesh and us, we are practically best friends, after Goa where one sat next to him, frozen in the mortal fear that the little one, overexposed to Bollywood from a very tender age, would burst into Dekha Jo Tujhe Yaar, Dil Mein Baji Guitaar, a timeless classic of Hindi cinema, rendered by superstar Mika. That reminds me, anyone else following Kurkure Desi Beats Rock On on MTV? I am totally hooked, not least because Mika was guest judge on one of the rounds, working the Singh is King look.

I would have considered this a good haul for one trip but no, another day, the same eatery, we see a tall neck sticking out from a table. On closer notice, one sees that the tall neck is attached to an unfairly good looking face. Deepika Padukone, we whisper happily and nudge each other furiously. About seventy-five per cent of her face was covered with her sunglasses but what was remaining was very pleasing to the eye. I wish I hadn't seen Love Aaj Kal. It really spoilt it between us. Achha, poori family aayi hai, M and I said understandingly to each other, having spotted daddy Padukone at Hyde Park on a previous occasion.

That was London, clearly quite a Bollywood magnet.

When we were checking in for Singapore, we saw a creature in harem pants that had been coaxed to show a little bit of skin, harem pants not usually known to do that sort of thing. Arrey, Jiah Khan, with full make-up on, I recognized in an instant. Most thrilling, what with her being our own Lolita to Amit ji. When we were returning from Sing, I spotted a lady with a huge LV bag. But see who her husband is, said Mahesh when I pointed out this little fact to him. Err, it was a certain Mr Kamath.

The Jet lounge on our way back from Delhi this last trip was also teeming with mini-celebrities. The food was excellent so I focused on that. That is Nafisa Joseph, said M, nodding wisely as he saw an attractive, glamorous girl with mummy ji and friend with effeminate mannerisms in tow. A tad difficult, my boy, given that Nafisa has been dead for a few years, I told him. Ah, then who is this, he asked. That is Sophie, I informed him. Hain, who? was his intelligent reaction. I gave up. Deepak Tijori was surprisingly accompanied by Tisca Chopra (I admit I had to google her name, remembering her only as the leading lady of Platform, first-class film, released circa 2005. What? I grew up in the eighties, I have to know these things.)

In other news, I found some excellent hardback novels by my beloved author Shivani at a Reliance store in Amby Mall in Gurgaon. As usual, M lost absolutely no time in sauntering upto a salesperson and asking for this amazing book called Bringing Up Vasu. Normally, sales people look a little confused and ask for the author at which M proudly proclaims - Parul Sharma, causing me to dive behind the nearest DVD display and turn beetroot red in embarrassment. Then they shake their heads and M launches into how they need to be better stocked with this fantastic bestseller. People should be careful when they wish for spousal encouragement. Anyway, this time, surprise, the guy pointed to a whole stack of the books. M looked through them very happily and then told the guy - Main toh aise hi pooch raha that, leni nahin hai. Hey prabhu a thousand times over.

I am thrilled at having found Shivani's books though, given that they are not very easily available. I bought four of them but the idea is to collect the whole set, every word that she has ever written. She is extremely inspiring. Four generations of Sharma women have read her and loved her to distraction. Yeah, that's right, four. My mom would return from college to find her grandmother reading one of Shivani's books and shedding copious tears. Kya hua, Amma, Mom would ask. Krishnakali dies, Amma would sob. I can empathise. Last evening I had to lock myself up in my bathroom and cry for quite sometime as I finished a story.

Bookstores are teeming with Chetan Bhagat's Two States, sure to sell a gazillion copies in the first week of release, sure to be made into a Bollywood film starring Salman, Aamir and SRK with Deepika, Katrina and Priyanka playing respective love interests, sure to get him offers for Hollywood adaptations that pay him only a trillion dollars for the rights, sure to get him mobbed at literary festivals by frantic fans wanting a sample of the charno ki dhool, sure to inspire envy in other struggling writers.

Who, me, envious? Naah!

Now repeat to yourself, Ms Sharma - no, it's not just dumb luck, it's not clever strategising, it's not about cleverly playing into an existing need gap in the market, it's not catering to the lowest common multiple of readers. The fellow is hugely talented. Now that should set some good karma flowing your way and open the writer's block that you have been trying unsuccessfully to clear with mental images of Drainex doing the rounds of your creative pipes.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

And did you read this?

Incredibly sweet. Thanks, Boo!

A tale of two fine cities and many fine people

I know I have been away too long when I start contemplating bullet points to sum up all that has happened. I will resist and I will desist and I will stick to paragraphs. Small ones though.

Singapore was great. I met my two little nephews and they were so completely delightful that it broke my heart to leave them behind. The younger one is about Adi's age and is still a bit of a baby. I regularly wanted to put him between two slices of bread and gobble him up. Later we queried his mom about his passport and Indian visa in order to kidnap him. She appeared to be a willing party but when we offered to leave Adi behind, she backed out. The older nephew, all of four is really smart and is full of facts about gravity and magnetism and astronomy and kept me wanting to google every two seconds with his questions. I can't wait to see these kids grow up and become accomplished adults and then embarrass them thoroughly with my ignorance.

Adi himself is bringing new meanings to the terrible in terrible twos every day. I don't like running down kids but I came very close to jumping off cliffs on the trip. I hope the phase lives up to its name and goes away on its own with the boy's third birthday.

The race itself was quite boring, even in M's words. There were no upsets and no crashes and no Nicole Scherzinger proposing to Lewis Hamilton on a giant screen so I thought it was far from paisa vasool. I did however fall silent when the cars first appeared on the track. They are so loud and so powerful and so immense somehow that it is rather difficult not falling under the spell. After the tenth lap, it begins to fade though. For me, that is. M was like a child, mucho excited and jumpy and I was quite glad I went with him. But I am done with wifely duty number 142 of watching F1 race with the husband.

I managed to meet some friends in the few days that I was there. Other than friends, we also met some blog friends, Unpredictable and The Penguin and I was most impressed by these beautiful and smart and funny women. Of course, they did get me chocolates but I also really mean it. As usual, Adi got some loot just by virtue of being himself. Being a blog baby has some serious positives. Consider it if you haven't already. By a stroke of luck, Moppet's Mom lives very close to where we were and one evening we met her and got to meet Moppet and Munch too as they ran about in the park. Munch is walking already and Moppet is a very friendly little girl, all curls and grins.

The mid-autumn festival was on when we were there and one evening my SIL brought home lanterns and sparklers for the kids. That was pretty cool, rather like Diwali.

I did not shop too much though I did get to eat some great food, both home-cooked and in restaurants. I wish there was a nice place that served vegetarian Japanese food in Mumbai. We are most deprived.

We came back from Singapore and took off for Delhi the next day. Other than getting to spend time with my family, I also got to meet Aneela and Arhaan, down for a few days before taking off for Dhaka. They were staying at the Mad Momma's so I met the Bean and Brat as well, though I missed their mom. The famous two were in the middle of a game and were tearing up and down the place so I was able to get in only a hello but one thing I know - those kids are not shy!

I know that this will come as terribly hackneyed but meeting people after reading what they write about their lives takes away the strangeness completely. I have met a number of bloggers and I am yet to be surprised by the difference between their blog selves and their real selves. So Aneela really is polished and funny and full of things to share and affectionate and intellectual and I was really, really happy to see her and Arhaan and feel like a part of their lives. We got a whole goodie bag from Melbourne that included a lovely book on Monet for me, yay! Normally, I am only Adi's sidekick so this was really special.

Delhi also means food and M and I made our customary visit to Nirula's where I tried to eat the vegetable burger for the sake of nostalgia and discovered that they have replaced the filling with a greasy aloo patty. It may have been years back for all you know but I still tearfully asked of them - how could you? The fruit salad sundae was as good though and I ate up all the tinned fruit they put in and left the ice-cream untouched. Like there is any other way to eat it. One day, my sister and Manish and I went for lunch to Rajdhani for a thali and that was disappointing too. Most upsetting given that I was prepared to eat till my sides ached. This is a massive conspiracy of course. The food providers have been reading my blog and know that I dream of the time I can go to Delhi and eat real food and have decided to shatter that last vestige of hope too. Thankfully, Mom's karhi chawal stood the test of time and she watched fondly on as her second born piglet helped herself to the same time and again, pausing only to breathe.

I saw the work my sister has been doing these last few months and was awestruck. Normally we are so alike that that it never fails to amaze me how she did not share her talent for art with me or with Isha at all. I am waiting for the time she will display her work to the outside world and people will be blown away. Then I will preen.

On this trip I was able to see my friend purplehomes' little daughter too. Either all my friends are having babies or I seem to stick to people who don't mind hour-long conversations on the merits of oatmeal versus applesauce but everywhere I look, there are babies. And it's a wonderful world. The other world, the one that has Martinis and nights out at Blue Frog and spontaneous trips to Goa is wonderful too but that is one that we can only look at with wistfulness now, as it moves away farther with every passing day.