Saturday, October 30, 2010

Contest! (note excitement) closes tomorrow

Gentle reminder that if you plan to enter, this may be the right time. 

Last date: October 31st, 2010. We will close at midnight, India time.

What cool entries we have been getting. As I type this out, M is busy developing a complicated mathematical, physical, statistical, geographical, post-modern, existential (insert choice of difficult subject here) model on which to judge entries. In other words, whatever made him laugh (or smile, or cry, or think, he's not really telling.)

Yes, so results soon. Fun times! 

Friday, October 29, 2010

A house-tour!

GB of the lovely design blog Of peacocks and paisleys is featuring our home on her space. Please head this way to check it out and do let her know what you think of it. Needless to say, I will be lurking by at GB's comments corner all day today.

House tours are fun. We did our first one here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Updates for the Adi Fan Club

(In other words, Tatha-Paati)

He is flaunting the small mark on his nail (given with the aid of a permanent marker by the Polio Drops Aunty) as a badge of honour because he was So! Brave! and he set such an astounding example for his sister who had no choice but to drink her own drops without a whimper in the face of such valour. This morning he told me to be careful while cutting his nails. The mark, the mark, he moaned. I quite expected Teja main hoon, mark idhar hai to come up any second.

Why are you chewing on my kurta, Ragini, I asked of the baby as she made a meal of that particular piece of clothing. Because she is only a baby and she doesn't know any better, answered the defiant older brother. I quietly retreated to my favourite corner to lick my wounds post this chastisement.

You should listen to me, Adi.
What do you mean, why...who is older?
Who is bigger?
Who knows better?

It was said with such conviction that I did not have the heart (or ability, or will) to prove it otherwise. Or to correct his grammar, ahem.


Adi, eat your egg.
I am not hungry. I have just oaten my oats.

I refuse to correct him. Whoever thinks eaten is cuter than oaten needs to...well, have babies, I guess?

He absolutely abhors having his hair being combed neatly back. This is a recent development. Perhaps, Cosmopolitan's Preschooler Edition insisted that the bedhead look is it for Fall Winter 2010 but one day he just looked at himself in the mirror after I had vigorously been at his hair with a brush and told me with a completely dismayed look on his face, But Mama, I look like a cartoon. Oh hush, was the candid response, you look great. No, I want my hair to look like this, he replied getting the familiar mutinous expression on his face, proceeded to pick up his bath towel off the floor where it had been flung with great vim a few minutes back and tousled his hair to its former glory. Since then, every time I try to comb his hair back to give him the babu ji look as it's known in this household, he starts wailing and sobbing as if some great injustice has been done unto him.  People who claim to not understand women should have a go at kids sometime.



Saturday, October 23, 2010

The round-up of entries so far

And here we have a list of all the entries, some of them belly-achingly funny, other really sweet, all of them much-appreciated. Do let me know if I have inadvertently left out any and I will hasten to correct this grave, grave error. The procrastinators amongst us are reminded once again that the last date for submissions is Oct. 31st and if your entries don't reach us by then, we will extend the deadline, I guess. 

Read on.
  2. Annapoorna's entry (can be read in the comments section) 
  5. Vijaya's entry (in comments) 
  6. Kunzang's entry (in comments) 
  8. Smita's entry (in comments) 
  21. RJ's entry (in comments) 
  23. (Ok, this blog is directing me to a new website and that doesn't seem to have an entry.)
  27. Richa's entry (private blog)  
  28. subbulakshmistoned's entry (in comments)
  34. stuti's entry (in comments)
  37. Sandhya's entry (in comments)
  44. Subashree's entry (in comments) 
  45. Rads' entry (in mail)
  47. NokiaCaseContest (in comments)
  50. Lavanya's entry (in comments)
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Friday, October 22, 2010

If only I had got the crafty gene too

So in my pre-Diwali mode, I recently felt the need for something quirky in my bedroom's entryway, something Indian kitschy, something handmade and pretty and special. At the same time, it needed to light up the narrow space and make it appear, well, spacious.

And the mater decided to take matters in her own hands.

Motis were bought and she got to work.

And would you believe it, with some glass beads and a wooden frame, she made this thing of beauty.

Lit up the whole place with a special glow

Transformed a nook and gave it character

P.S.Picture quality not too fabulous because it's been taken with my phone. There is only so much that an iPhone can do. In fact, contrary to what some people will have us believe, it does not shoot out a broom and duster and jump to dust and clean either.

P.P.S. We have been getting some really interesting entries for the CONTEST! (note excitement). I will put up a comprehensive list of links to the stories soon so do tune back later to read.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Lest I gave an impression to the contrary...

.....the CONTEST! (note excitement) is all about everyday fun (or sad or whatever you have got) stories from offices. We are not expecting literary masterpieces because if we did get any, we wouldn't know what to do with them. So don't worry too much about it and just enter already.

Now to the truly important things. Who is addicted to this?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What I have been doing to the walls (other than climbing them)

Patient reader, the non-MD house is also one of my big loves as you know. Some images from the recent activity that has been going on around here. 

My new writing desk. It had to be kept in Adi's room because I have no place in mine and what used to be my study is now a strange place where the wine cooler and the printer and other such items congregate. Anyway, this is my new favourite piece of furniture and many a book will be written here. Writing, as you know is in our control. Publishing, not so much.

I wanted these words for the longest time. I left out the '& Carry On' bit. As long as I am calm, I will carry on no?

Another one of those things that I just really, really wanted. A vintage map. A lookalike in this case actually but I am not fussy.

An old newspaper article framed. We have this whole vintage look going in our living-room. I rather like it. It's easy to believe that one is in a cosy cottage in some nice hilly town somewhere because that is where I'd like to be.

Same stuff, different view.

Bedroom in Arles. Yellow wall. What's not to love?

A corner of the dining area. Some impressionist prints. An impressionist calendar. A lot of happiness.

For the car-crazy boy. This hangs in his room and he rather likes it.

Old frames, new corner. The plant was potted by Adi at school and therefore finds pride of place. 

Entryway. The brass hooks are from our Kerela trip last year. That was one fun trip.

Another view. Those cushions don't look spanking new anymore, eh? Nice.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I ain't no Nirupa Roy

The other day, the boy asked me what the No Parking sign means.

Me: It means that you cannot park your car here.
Adi: What will happen (if you do)?
Me: There will be a traffic jam.
Adi: Traffic jam is like printer jam?

I could have fried his brains further by bringing into the picture jam of the bread-butter-jam fame but resisted. I really am growing up.

Also, I need to be careful around him these days. Recently, after getting into a battle of wills with me over something that resulted in my handing out one of my firmest No's, he strode over to Nani very purposefully and told her,

Your daughter is not listening to me.

It is because of these things that I have to resort to telling him, look here, son, ek team mein ek hi gunda ho sakta hai aur iss team ka gunda main hoon. Nothing like a dash of Bollywood to put across oneself so succinctly during mother-son conversations, I say. Bollywood has all the answers. You just need to ask the right questions.


Thank you muchly for the entries that you have been sending for the CONTEST! (note excitement). Yes, you can recycle your old office posts for the purpose by republishing and giving it a new title, namely By The Water Cooler.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

More on the yoga teacher from hell

Further to the battle of the yoga teachers that we had the other day, we SURPRISE! decided to go ahead with the gentle soul, otherwise known as Teacher Number One. But before we could dive face first into the calm and serene waters of zen-ness, there was The Feedback to be dealt with. The feedback to be given to the center that sent the 'Oh My God, I will personally come and sit on you and totally suffocate the hell out you if that stretch doesn't kill you first' teacher. Teacher Number Two to be precise.

'Hello, Madam, how did you like the first class teacher that we sent to your place? How was the demo class?

(I am amazed that you are well enough to be answering your phone and not stuck to a hospital bed with your legs up in pulleys and your whimpers making grown men cry).

'Err, actually the thing is...he was great....and I am sure he meant well....and of course he must be really good at his job, look at those biceps, haha....but the thing is....don't get me wrong, he tried his best...but and here is the thing....I liked him, no doubt....but in certain parts of the world and in certain advanced sections of not saying that I necessarily agree with them....your trainer's approach is...very...let's say....goal-focussed...haha...not a bad thing, not a bad thing at all....but you know....with our current levels of fitness...absolutely miserable, I must admit....we are perhaps not altogether ready....our fault, totally....for such an....aggressive approach.'

'So you didn't like aa?'

'Um, no?'

'Want another teacher?'

'Err, I have sort of hired someone else.'

'Ok, bye.'


I have to stop thinking so much.

(Sorry, feed-readers, I had mixed up my One's and Two's. All the stress, I tell you.)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Say Om Shanti Om

Five months after Raagu-face made an appearance in our lives, I decided that it was perhaps time to stop thinking about getting into shape and to start doing something about it. Now I don't want to spoil it for you but if you think that you are short of time after one kid, you don't know the half of it. The real fun starts when you get a second one. They work like a brilliantly synchronized tag-team and one takes over when the other is done. And so, time has been sort of...not there.

So. Fitness.

I don't think I can do the gym this time, I moaned.

I don't think I can manage swimming either since the club is too far and the traffic too blah, I groaned.

It's impossible to run in this weather, I declared.

Treadmilling=Boring, I grumbled.

Yoga, yoga, yoga, chanted a voice from above. Calm, serene, deep breathing. Stress-busting, figure-sculpting yoga, just what the doctor ordered for a naturally nervy and curvy person like me. Why should I suffer alone though, so the super-fit mater who has been cribbing about the lack of exercise in our lives these last few months was also roped in.

I made some calls, got a few numbers, made a hash of things and ended up calling two teachers for a demo-class at the same time. The teacher who arrived first looked like a first-year college student. He wanted to test our flexibility and stamina.We became trees and boats and bows in a span of a few minutes, Very good, very good was the verdict. Thoda weight lose karenge, baaki sab first-class was the prevailing emotion. We beamed in pleasure and expanded the collective rib-cage a little more.

Bye-bye, teacher number one, we will let you know. Hello, teacher number two, let's see what you've got.

There are some people in this world who are perfectly cast in their professions. There are doctors who look like doctors. There are cops who could be nothing but cops. There are authors who could never be mistaken for anything else, looking authorly every step of the way.

And so, teacher number two could be nothing but a gym instructor. Fitness goals, he barked. I mumbled something about post-natal weight-loss, mom too said something to the effect of want-to-be-fit. And therein lay our mistake. I guess I should have known what lay ahead when I found myself sweating profusely in the name of warming up but you know I. No. Gasp. Quitter.

But this is not yoga, I managed to splutter in between my 150th and 160th jumping jack.

Oh yes, it is, now we will do eleven Surya Namaskars. I think I passed out for a bit after that. Only the memory of Kareena Kapoor's interview where she claimed to do a hundred SN's everyday revived me.

There was a lot of pulling in of the core and a keep your back straight and No Cheating! handed out during the session. The scheduled forty five minutes could not end quickly enough as far as I was concerned. In the name of meditation, he switched off the lights and made us focus on our breath. Like I could focus on anything else even if I wanted to after that workout from hell, I gasped to myself under my breath (which I was of course focusing on).

So what is the deal, asked M later that night, have you decided which one you are going for?

What do you think, I asked between mouthfuls of M&Ms.

Spiritual wellness over physical one, I am thinking, he said with an admirably straight face.

He is so right.

Welcome, teacher number one.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

By The Water Cooler Contest

Most of you, old-time, patient readers, know about my life story. It is unusual in the usual way. Once upon a time I used to go to work in an office where they would chain me to a cubicle and release me only after I had spent enough hours peddling Microsoft Office. Then I conned my husband into supporting me and paying the bills while I underwent a supposedly creative phase, pretending to aim for the Booker while I watched inane television and ate untimely meals.

Sometimes, of course I wrote, just to take a break from all that telly-watching and mindless eating.

That writing sometimes resulted in novels, one of which will be hitting the shelves (poor shelves) later this month. It's called By The Water Cooler and since I always say that 'What is your book about?' is the toughest question in the world, I am going to put the cover and blurb right here to give you an idea.

Restless and discontent at their jobs in an advertising agency, Mini and Tanya quit and make their way to JR Enterprises. Corporate stardom seems to be only a few PowerPoint slides away. This, however is before the HR Manager who hired them gets fired and reveals in a moment of rare honesty that the organization is a madhouse. The CEO, a committed megalomaniac believes that the two girls are perfect examples of recruitment error. With this first impression to her credit, Mini needs to manage a critical project while keeping her paranoid and obnoxious boss at bay. Tanya could have lent her a shoulder to cry on, except that she is serving time in the office boondocks and is slowly giving in to prenuptial madness.
Join Mini and Tanya on a wild ride full of impossible deadlines, dirty office politics and espionage even as they lock horns with an officeful of eccentric characters. A smart, witty tale of messy work, quirky colleagues and the wily attempt to tame both. By The Water Cooler is the hilarious struggle of holding down a job.

So yes, this is my second shot at that Booker. Failing which, I hope that it will at least make me rich which means I need you to do the good stuff - buy multiple copies of book, spread the word like you would juicy gossip, try not to bitch about it too much, get into fisticuffs with the folks who do, write glowing reviews, and so on.

I had great fun writing this particular novel. It's funny and light and worth a read. I think I sound casually confident about the launch of this one. That's good. I wouldn't want you to worry about the cold sweat and the panic attacks and the muttering to self that I have taken to. In fact, I am off now to gnaw at the toe-nails.

But before I do that, let's have a CONTEST! (note excitement)
  • You need to write a post telling a story or an anecdote based in an office. It could be about you, your spouse, kids, neighbour, whoever - it just needs to be based in an office. It can be funny, serious, somewhere in between, but it needs to be based in an office. It can feature a single protagonist or multiple characters, but it...yes, I know, you got it. 
  • You need to link to this post
  • You need to put By The Water Cooler in the title of your post
  • You need to leave me a link to your post in the comments section
  • If you don't have a blog, leave me your entry in the comments section and it will be counted
PRIZES - Five autographed copies of By The Water Cooler are up for grabs. The five best entries will be decided by the esteemed M so please remember to pick up your grouses with him.

- October 31st, 2010

One last thing - when you find the book in stores, please take a look at the acknowledgments section. You will find that I have thanked you, my blog reader for all the times you laughed along. It's been such fun. Now please participate so that this whole thing doesn't fall flat on its face. Many thanks.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Letters to a little girl - five


Sorry this one got a little late but you know how it is with The Book Launch and the assorted stress of finding a celebrity who would deign to cut the ribbon on your mama's book and the research work that I need to do in order to pay for this celebrity and the endless carpentry work that I need to get done around the house because in the absence of constant hammering and thok-peet, I feel quite bereft. But I am here now and let's just take a look at last month, shall we?

You are twisting and turning for all you are worth when you find time from holding court for the boys. The older boy calls me from all corners of the earth to check on your, err, SP status and the younger boy cannot resist squeezing the hell out of you at any given point in time. Look, I know you are ready to eat solids but it may be a tad early for you to be starting on boiled eggs and so when Bhaiyya tries to feed you out of his food, please don't lap it up. Protest. Yes? We are all good then.

I have had to clip your hair back these last few days. Little pink clips. Adorable. Though a quick aside on gender stereotypes may be in order here.

Time for some more advice, my love. I am sorry, I cannot help it.
  • When you find a person who does a job well, pay them whatever they ask for and keep them and their services. People who take pride in their work are becoming rarer each day.
  • Everyone should know how to keep a balance sheet. Also, how to change the fuse and the tyre and how to put M-seal.
  • The only way you will appreciate classical music is if you learn to play an instrument.
  • It doesn't matter who is supposed to pay. You need to carry your wallet. With money in it.
  • Take care of my carpets when they come to you.
  • There is a time to be a fool in love and it comes quite late in the relationship. In the beginning, you have to keep your eyes and ears and smarts in top condition.
  • Don't mix anger and tears. It dilutes both.
  • I don't know if offering an apology when it's due is a sign of greatness or not but it definitely is a sign of being supremely secure in oneself.
  • Don't break up old jewellery to make new one. There will come a time you will regret it. Plus if you keep long enough, it will become vintage. That's the reason why despite everything else that I own, your grandmother's wedding nath is my one true treasure.
  • It is very, very difficult for people to be happy in your success. So when you come across such gems, hang on to them for all you are worth. 
  • When you are overwhelmed by the troubles of life, go to the terrace at night and watch the night sky and the insignificance of it all will hit you with all the force of the universe.
I love you so much, hon, and am not shy to show it. Be good, be smart, the world is waiting to fall at your tiny feet.



Saturday, October 2, 2010

No magazine cover anytime soon

Children in general are like cute sized black holes that suck up all of your time and energy and attention. At least mine are. I don't know what I do wrong but I never seem to have enough time to do anything. Do it well, that is. If I am writing, I am not prettying the house. If the house looks good, I am not travelling. If I manage to take the time to go see places, I get tired enough to warrant a hospital stay and a drip in the hand.

And so I was being contemplative this morning, wondering if I was wasting time by being contemplative. Quite inexplicably an issue of Savvy magazine lay next to me. Nobody reads Savvy in the house, never has. Perhaps M has taken to looking through women's magazines, I decided, stress has been known to have strange effects on people. I leafed through the pages. Feroze Gujaral on the cover, looking very nice, all toned legs and flawless skin. As women do when they come across women infinitely better looking than themselves, I immediately made a mental list of excuses to explain this imbalance of good looks in the universe -
  1. She is younger (no, she is not)
  2. She has an army of servants and has probably never lifted a finger to do any work (actually cause for more jealousy)
  3. She has been airbrushed (how come no one wants to airbrush us? I guess you need minimum level of good looks to warrant airbrushing)
  4. I am certain she has no kids (She does, two)
  5. I bet her kids don't love her aloo-paranthas (but Coke says everyone feels that about their mother's cooking, no?)
Having run out of excuses, I sighed. Magazines are always full of such superwomen. They travel and write and work and and give birth to wonderful tantrum-free kids and regularly fly off mountains without flying machines and look as if they have just stepped out of a fashion magazine, or stayed in one, you know what I mean. This isn't fair. I too, should do more with my time. Multitask. Grow a couple of extra pairs of limbs. Clone myself. Achieve. Excel. That sort of thing.

Contemplating some more, I ambled over to the mirror. Hmm, the collective jaagran of many nights is really showing up. The hair on the arms and legs are begging to be braided. Perhaps I should see the inside of a beauty parlour again. There is one right next door. I walk over.

I check to see if there is a board that promises tasalli baksh denting painting and once that has been established, I walk in and brave the glance of the receptionist. Women of all shapes and sizes are splattered all over the scenery. Blow dryers, deep and intensive spa treatments, highlights of purple on a base colour of red - they are all in evidence. A brand manager type client is explaining the concept of brand recall to the man who is washing her hair. He looks remarkably disinterested and who can blame him?

I swivel the glance back to the receptionist. She looks happy, really, really delighted to see me. Wow, I must have become popular while I was under the maternity rock. You seem to need a lot of work, she hums to herself while she potters about collecting a small army of people to attend to my beauty needs. Some waxing would be fine, I protest. You need facial yo, she declares. Oho, I don't have the time. She looks disappointed, sends me to one room where instruments of torture await hapless ladies in need of epilation. Hee haw, here, see, bubbling hot wax that I shall pour on your skin and khachhakk, will pull off with a strip. Can't wait, right? I send up a silent prayer to God, decide once and for all that He is a man and plonk my girth on the table. The beautician looks up. You need facial, she murmurs. No, no, only waxing, thank you.

She gets down to business. I am muffling down screams of pain. Another lady walks in. Yes, yes, I know, I need facial, I state. She smiles, you sure do. Why don't I put a face mask for you while you are experiencing this medieval torture? I succumb. Go ahead, I tell her and proceed to have a mug full of some seaweed type gunk plastered on my face. Everyone is happy. Wonderful, madam, you are glowing, very even skin-tone and blah-di-blah. Hee, hee, I giggle self-consciously, perhaps I should make time for these things on a regular basis.

This done, I prepare to lighten the wallet, exit the room and walk back to where the receptionist sits. You really need a facial, she says. Sigh. A long way to match the likes of Feroze G and company, you are thinking? So am I.

Yes sir, so am I.