Thursday, September 30, 2010

The darndest things

After listening to his father and me discuss some stuff that involved the words 'point of view', good ol' pintsize pipes up:
Mama, what is your point of view on Daddy? 

To which I can only but reply, not very positive, son, not very positive.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Surely you didn't think I was gone for good

Though when I do, this will be the way. 
Of course you hate the new look. The colour is not right, the font taxes your eyes, the widgets are not where you expect to see them. This is all new, all different, all wrong. 

I feel the same way. 

And so I am looking for someone who knows their way around this kind of thing and can design a new page for me. Web designers or some such. I am only a lowly writer so I can and will pay in copies of my book/s. Many thanks. 

Right then, so as happens in critical things such as these, there was much delightfully corrupt behaviour in evidence in the last few hours of polling. I do believe the satta market really heated with all the action, wagers to the tune of several thousand crores were placed, crazy odds were doing the rounds and here we have it, the new name. Radio Parul. Rolls nicely off the tongue. But Baithak lovers, don't despair and don't pack away your masnads just yet. I have always wanted to create a tribute-blog for my favourite author, Shivani. It's to be the go-to resource on Shivani on the web, with my personal reviews on every single book that she has ever written. Labour of love comes to mind. We will hold our baithaks there. In the meanwhile, let's start with regular programming. 

Mahesh went for the Singapore GP, third time in a row. Cars zip by such that you get a crick in the neck just trying to catch a glimpse. Was that a Ferrari? A Red Bull? Who can tell? Isse achha toh TV par dikhta hai. But anyway, he sent me this picture from his phone after the race, most excited. 

A car that caught fire some 15 feet from where he was sitting. There really is no accounting for tastes. 

Adi did not get to watch the race on the telly. In fact, Adi has been abruptly weaned off the telly. Yes, zero TV. Life is cruel. His tantrums though have reduced somewhat after Doraemon and party were shown the door so perhaps there is some merit in that. Years of no TV later, one day he will bump into Katrina Aunty somewhere and go all misty-eyed. We were once friends, remember? Humph.

When I first started reading Calvin and Hobbes, I thought ol' Cal was one fun fellow. Now that I am living with him though, I have had reason to be a tad disconcerted. In other way, I am tearing the hair off the scalp with alarming regularity. One picture, just one picture where you are not showing the world your tonsils, or sticking out your tongue and blocking your ears or making gagging faces or throttling your sister or where you are not just a blur? Just one picture that I can send to my friends without inviting the query - and where's Adi? No? Oh well, then. 

I have been interviewing maids/nannies. Maids and nannies are interviewing me right back. Aapka flat bas itna hi hai, asked one ex-Carter Road type, possibly used to having a football stadium and a swimming pool within the residence. Oh wait, did she work for SRK? Must check. But ever since my last cook quit because I asked her to heat the food, the cheek of it all, I have stopped being surprised.

And what have you been up to, kind reader? Let us get this housewarming going.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Last two days...

I can see we have something of a clear winner here. I have also heard of people voting from multiple terminals in airports and offices etc. but since that's not against the rules, we will let passion (and an unabashed desire to win) take over. 

So Baithak it will be then? All you Radio Parul listeners, this is it, last chance.
This poll business has been quite cool and I think we will make this something of a monthly feature. 

Things have been busy but I will be back soonest.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ads and Adi

The boy is at home today nursing high fever and driving me up the wall with his endless questions and refusal to sit still for a micro-mili-second. How he manages this is anybody's guess. I mean, at the slightest hint of fever, I normally collapse and start resembling a raccoon by mid-afternoon or earlier and here he is spouting wisdoms such as these -

Me: Come on , Adi, drink your milk. Drink.Your.Milk. Don't you want to get some stamina?
Adi: Oh yes, yes, Mama, I want stamina. Teen guna zyaada stamina!

Too many ads, clearly. In his defense, his ma went to communication school. In fact, despite not working in advertising/research anymore, I consider it my rightful right to analyze and generously criticize ads. Given that the lifestage has changed and there is a pintsize and a mini-pintsize around, we are regularly subjected to ads that are aimed at the 2-6 age-group. Now I don't know which profound insight is driving this latest trend but obnoxious behaviour by kids seems to the buzzword to instant marketing nirvana. Poppins - Doon kya? is right at the top of my hit-list. My only response to such a pesky kid would be - One.Tight. Slap. What? They are not the only ones who can be rude.

Adi wants to try everything that is advertised on the telly. Poppins and Boots-otherwise-known-as-Boost and KinderJoy and Hot Wheels and Hit and All Out. I say ok to everything and buy him nothing, being fickle like that.

The good thing is that he is not selfish and wants us to have all that is shown there too. He hangs out with Nani and sometimes gets to watch some of her channels too and has been exposed to the vast and confusing world of women's beauty products. Sometimes in a span of half a minute he tells me that I need to get and use Pond's Age Defying Miracle, L'Oreal Actual White (or something) and Nutregena Facewash. I was never too concerned about the early signs of ageing or whether I am really cleaning the very last layer of my facial epidermis or if I have fair AND andar se glowing tvacha or other such vague requirements. I have been an insider and know what the real deal is but I guess one of the benefits of being three is belief in the truth in advertising. The love affair with Katrina Aunty continues and I know I am truly loved on the days when he states that Mama in fact looks like Katrina Aunty. Sigh, I know, I know. Yes, right.

When he is not dictating the latest beauty trends to me, he will get at my Macbook and iPhone and every single gadget and machine in the house. He cured me of my addiction to Fruit Ninja and Air Hockey in one fell swoop after successfully deleting the games from the phone. He regularly sets alarms on the phone that go off at all hours of the day and night. I find that the stopwatch has been running for eight hundred hours straight (yeah, and here I was cribbing about the battery life in Apple products). I find my place in the book I am reading on the Kindle has been changed. On the laptop, he wants to learn Garage Band and is very upset at my ineptitude for the same. He insisted on fiddling with the knobs on the various appliances in the kitchen till one day the mixer actually went off and scared the CLICHE ALERT living daylights out of him.  Fascinated with CDs, he regularly takes them out of the player and holds on to them like dear treasures. If one keeps something out to charge, he will disconnect it but to be fair to him, he will also take it upon himself to charge whatever he can find. Whenever and wherever possible, batteries will be taken out of their slots and left out to fend for themselves. Scared that he will turn into a gadget junkie even before he is four, we maintain for his benefit that the PlayStation and the Wii are in a perpetual state of disrepair. I am running out of places that are high enough to keep things out of range.

All in all, life with a three year old boy is an unending endeavour to save one's devices.

Hey, talking of advertising, just a few days back, M and I were talking about how so many non-suits are carrying Blackberry phones these days. Sure enough, this seems to be a trend.

Poll Watch Part II

Ladies (and gentlemen, if there be any), we have a passionate appeal from Ms Sangeetha. Lend her your ears. She has her own but could do with a few more. 

Vote Watch – 17 September, 2010

I don’t understand politics. I have not watched a televised exit/opinion poll in three hundred years. That dual qualification makes me an expert in elections and such (yes, you know better than to argue with an expert; more so, a self-proclaimed one). And since this election happens to happen at the happening Chez Parul, I am just going to jump in and offer my USD 0.02/Euro 0.0152/£
0.0127/AUD 0.0217 (read: establish myself as a moron on the interwebs). So peoples, hoshiyaar, khabardaar, and some other associated daars as well while you are it… we want a free and fair poll!

With five contestants in the fray, eleven days left to vote, and with the handy option to change your vote (note: this is cool tool, dear voters), I can already see Parul in my mind’s eye, looking every bit the charming author that she is, sitting by a cackling fireplace in a structure, the shape of which can best be defined as: not geometrically straight, and the semantics of which can best be described as cozy, warm and inviting. This is for those who speak. If you are like me and you squeak, then just think cheese, and then think which word jives the best with it from among the candidate names. You are guaranteed a light-bulb moment. Enough said!

So yes, this is a free and fair poll, like I already established. Let it not be said that I displayed favouritism towards a candidate. If I wanted to do that, I’d be saying - Vote for the Crooked Cottage, folks!

PS1. I heart scones.

PS2. The devil refused to buy my soul. He said he hadn’t seen a pure, made-of-24-carat-gold soul like mine in all his years of devil-ry. He referred me to a Mumbai-based jeweler, though.
Very well said, Sangeetha ji. Now rock the vote, kind readers. Any passionate supporters for the rest of the names? Out you come.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Poll Watch

I am looking at the poll results thus far and Radio Parul is leading. That's surprising given that Baithak was the popular favourite at the beginning. Whatever happens, I don't think there is any scope for a landslide victory at this late stage. For an in-depth look at this critical election process, we have called to our blog today Ms Aneela of Gol Kamra fame. In her words....

The soul of India lives in its villages, said Gandhi (MK) at the turn of the century. For a while another Gandhi (R) has been concentrating on something other than India's big cities. Why is it then that the siren song of the city lures our young so? In the past decade I have noted with dismay as celluloid dreams and aspirations rather than Mera Gaon Mera Desh have turned Metro and all things urban.

Today with a grieving heart I look at the latest election results for the poll on Parul's blog.  For a while we gained some succor from the fact that strong family values like Baithak and The Crooked Cottage were in the forefront.( I make a case for The Crooked Cottage lest we forget Hamara Des Hamari Taj-e-Bartania ki Parampara...frankly all that remains now is Angrezo kay waqt kay jailor, tailor, Congress and well dreams of that garden shed where we will have our secret club one day.) Baithak reminded us of a gentler time, and now that women have access to it you can't accuse it of being the men's club it was (see even the village is changing).
To tell you the truth Baithak and The Crooked Cottage ask you to lend them your ears and they will offer you some biskoot chaa pani (scones too if you choose the cottage). Today, I see that upstart of a Bambayia radio channel making dents into our heartland, is nothing sacred any more? I frown upon this Metro-pan ruling over our traditional "hinterland". What do these Radio channels offer you hainji? A cacophony of disjointed words, and half-eaten sentences. Radio tau hamarey Baithak may hota tha, BBC Hindi Service and English news bhee sun laytey thay. 

So at this stage I say both parties Baithak and the Crooked Cottage do an alliance to keep this upstart Ekalvya away..aaakhir Baithak and Crooked Cottage have some khaandani gravitas, thoda adjust karey na seats please. There is hope. Hamara Des, Hamarey Sanskar? bring them back I say.
Erm, when we asked Ms Aneela to do an election analysis for us, we had no idea that she has in fact sold her soul and is blatantly making a case for Baithak and The Crooked Cottage. To keep matters fair and square, if any of you would like to make an appeal for the other contestants viz. Radio Parul, The Daily Optimist and The Plot Thickens, please do so. I assure you, the appeal will be published with alacrity.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A blog by any other name

Some of you have pointed out in the comments section what has been on my mind for some time now. The new name for this blog. I mean, Bringing Up Adi served us well, no doubt but Ragini may object to being left out of the coolest blog ever.

Settle down, folks, no need to create a ruckus. Alright, alright, I take that back. Sheesh, people will object to anything.

Yes, so we need a new name for this space. I have been thinking of some options.

Baithak. It is an old-world Hindi word for living room. My grandparents house had one of these. It also means meeting, particularly in a sarkari context. Does this blog have a old-world, comfortable, living room feel? If it does, this may be appropriate.

The Crooked Cottage
. I like the imagery that it conjures. That it is a comfortable, cozy place but hey, it's not all about tea-parties for two.

Radio Parul. Mostly non-stop nonsense from the house of Parul.

The Daily Optimist. Self-explanatory. Should work when the blog reaches cult status.

The plot thickens. As in, we are not done yet. There is more to follow.

I promise to take the results seriously if and only they are statistically relevant. Take the hint, lurkers.

Right then, off to the polling booth to the right, you all. It won't be there for too long.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

By The Water Cooler - the fun begins

I had my first pre-launch reading of By The Water Cooler some days back. I read to a small group from the Book Lovers Club. It was great fun and a good lesson in reading for me, because surprise! just because you can write does not mean you can read.

That did not come out like I intended it to.

Points to remember for future readings, assuming that there will be some -

  • Mark out interesting passages from the book
  • Find maid who can keep watch on the two kids while I mark out interesting passages from the book
  • Look at the audience once in a while instead of trying to bury my nose in the pages of the script
  • Read slowly, don't worry about how I need to run back to the kids. Live (read) in the moment, really
  • Be my usual charmingly confident self instead of stuttering with nervousness 
The response was very encouraging and folks burst out laughing at places, which really is music to my ears. Good rock music at that. There were some questions after the reading that I had great fun answering. All in all, I could get used to this.
    Ta ra, pictures from the reading.

    Thursday, September 9, 2010

    Sometimes I win things

    Anyone who reads this blog knows that I love design and decor. There are such amazing, talented design bloggers out there. One of my big favourites is An Indian Summer and it recently led me to a contest run by Pergolina. It required participants to write, something I am always game for and the prize was a drool-worthy vintage scarf. Write on Indian Summer, said Pergolina and this was my entry:

    Lest you think otherwise, an Indian summer is really all about extremes. The sun beats down such that it sucks the last drop of water from the dry, parched land. The heat is unbearable. It doesn't make you sweat, it threatens to burn your skin. The dry, dusty loo winds rage outside during the afternoons. It is a cruel sort of weather, really. It is therefore surprising that once it makes way for the coveted rains, it makes us forget just how torturous it really was. All that is left behind are the memories of the mangoes, the mixed fragrance of chameli (jasmine) and mogra and roses and kevada, the ice-cold sherbets and shikanji (lemonade), the kulfi (milky ice-cream) and ice-golas. An Indian summer has a vocabulary all it's own. It's not to be translated, it's to be experienced, internalized.

    The Indian summer of my childhood is in a small mofussil town in northern India. Let me take you there. Air-conditioners have not yet become of a part of even affluent households and hot afternoons are cooled by desert coolers. When the fan whirrs to life, it sends out a wet mist into the air, making one want to wrap oneself in a khes (cotton coverlet) and sleep the afternoon away. It's almost always too hot to eat. Fruit cools in the frig, watermelon and mangoes and musk-melon and water is drunk from earthen matkas (pots). Jugs of aam-panna (a drink made from raw mangoes) are made every morning. The garden is full of bunches of gainda (marigold) blooms. There are khus (a kind of grass) curtains covering the verandahs, gamely trying to hold the sun out. Water is thrown on them everyday, making the air headily fragrant. Some brave children are willing to counter the heat for the love of cricket. The only garments that are kind to the skin are made of the lightest cotton and the silk saris are packed away with the razais (quilts) and kambals (blankets). Power cuts are a way of life and nobody thinks anything of picking up pillows and sheets at night and making their way to the terrace, telling each other ghost-stories and finally going to sleep under the starlit skies, the night breeze cool on our skin, the sound of crickets buzzing in the air and the occasional firefly display is a veritable treat. Summer vacations go past languorously, marked by comics and long naps and indoor games played on the floor rendered warm by the heat of the day, the dog sprawled next to me, it's tongue lolling out.

    That summer stays in the most treasured part of my memories. It stays in the place where all is good and all is innocent.

    And guess what, Pergolina liked my entry enough to give me that delicious scarf! In fact, they put up this picture of mine up, complete with the waving scarf around my neck. I wish I could do cool things like these with photo editing software. 

    Me in that scarf! This picture (also my profile picture) was taken on holiday last year in Kerela. I was expecting Ragini then. So much time has already passed.

    Right, so this is just to say thanks to the folks at Pergolina and when that scarf comes over, I will put up a picture of my mum in it. It's her birthday this month and I think she'll like it as part of her gifts, being a somewhat scarfey person herself.

    Do you like what I wrote? What about your own experiences with summer? Now that the rains have been around for four thousand days straight, I am sure it will come as a welcome break to talk about the loo etc.

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010

    Letters to a little girl - four

    Precious Ragini,

    Four months now. Well short of it, you learned to turn on your side. When you pull off these tricks, I am just so glad to be around, to see it happen in real time. It's immensely gratifying to see you struggle to get something right for days on stretch and then one day, the circuit get completed, the muscle gets strong enough and voila, we can now say goodbye to leaving you wherever we want, secure in the knowledge that you cannot get anywhere.

    I am still in gratitude for the fact that while you and Adi individually seem to be out to get us, together you are such a team, it makes me want to cry. He has openly declared that he loves you most in the world and 'Cootchie Coo (his name for you courtesy some diaper ad he watched) will drink milk and become a big boy and then he will play with me.' While you may not become a boy anytime soon and I thank the good Lord for that, I can see that the messing with the world together is going to become a reality sooner than we know.

    Your father is the other boy besotted by you. This, this is what dads ought to be. He is easily the most hands-on father I have ever seen and sometime I panic that the moment you are weaned, he may render me completely redundant. I sort of struck lucky with that man and you did too. And oh Ragini, guess which song he rocks you to sleep with? Not for us the 'Hush Little Baby, Go To Sleep's of the world. We rock you to the tune of

    Dham dham dhadham dhadhaiya re
    Sabse bade ladaiya re
    Omkaara, ho, omkaara

    (Bloody tough song to transcribe I must say)

    Effective though because you are asleep in no time. Fortunately for you, I have outgrown my fondness for Jannatein sajayi maine tere liye.

    Perhaps you thought I had run out of advice? No such luck anytime soon, my child. Because the truth is that even Adi and M combined cannot care for you as much as I do. Here goes,
    • This world is about telling women that they are not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough and specially thin enough. Don't believe them, laugh at them when they try that particular stunt. Not much in life can be accomplished on an empty stomach. The idea obviously is to keep you from thinking about the truly important things.
    • Sudoku, crosswords, jigsaw puzzles, get addicted early on in life, it keeps the smarts going.
    • Metallica did not sell out with Reload. 
    • If you cannot cook something fabulous, good Italian wine will take care of a lot.
    • Heels are not a good idea. In the long run, that is. But in the long run, partner, we are all dead. So I say, choose your days.
    • Learn to swim. Well.
    • One of the best ways to open yourself to a new world is by learning their language. You will be amazed by how much more you will suddenly know about a place.
    • I haven't understood which is worse - owing money or being owed money. I suggest you avoid both. Don't mix money with friendship, you will lose at least one and probably both.
    • There are certain things in life which you shouldn't try even once. If the voice in your head is swinging between should I or shouldn't I, don't do it.
    • Some of the finest memories of your life will be about feasting your eyes on art. Don't ditch the museums till you have tried them.
    That's all for this time. It's just so wonderful to have you.



    Saturday, September 4, 2010

    Another celeb story

    A few days ago, M and I were shopping at Godrej Nature's Basket. It is full of exotic food stuffs from all over the world (not terribly green, obviously). So we were gleefully stuffing out shopping cart with all sorts of cakes and cookies and other goodies when I looked up and found myself staring at Bipasha Basu.

    Now I am sure there are many actresses that you can run into four months after popping a baby and still carrying around a poochy mummy-tummy and not feel a pinch. You might even walk up to them and offer a tentative hello, big fan, so unaffected you might be by their good looks.

    Bipasha Basu is not one of them. Let's just say that she and John Abraham is truly a Ram-milaye jodi.

    Bhagwan jodi salamat rakhe.

    So. She looks like she lives in the gym, all rippling muscles and toned everything and while her choice of clothes could be called brave for ordinary mortals (skin-tight slacks and a halter vest), on her it looked...well, peachy.

    I briefly contemplated climbing into the shopping cart to hide all the high-calories items, each of which probably contained more fat than she had seen in the last five years. Fortunately she was too busy ignoring all the gawping co-shoppers to pay any attention to me or my shopping cart.

    I came back home and told Mum about my encounter with the star. Yes, said mum nonchalantly, I saw on the telly that she works out for four hours every day.

    Four hours? Four hours!

    Too high a price to pay. Even for those killer arms.

    Now where's that chocolate croissant that I bought?