Friday, December 27, 2013

I love myself

Here I am testing my clarity on X-Mas eve...

It's two-and-a-half-hours past midnight. Do I call it the wee hours of December 27th or late 26th? I'm not gonna nuts seeking clarity about something that a good sleep can't fix.

That's what I did a good part of the year - which is fast chuckling its way about after having successfully left a few more grays on my scalp, than I would like. So, one last time this year, I ponder wide awake...

I state, 'I have NO regrets'. Categorically. I loved 2013. Yes. I loved this year as much as I loved 2012. Actually more... I guess...there I go again. Sigh?
Clarity, my friend says, is a Gemini peeve. I'd defend with all my might and call it a virtue of the twins. But... honestly, it sucks. Because, that's exactly why I can't say for sure if the previous year was better than this but am, nevertheless, damn certain of the coming year to be better - nope the best. This positivity, but indeed, is a Gemini virtue.

Or so I would love to believe, until the determined twin peeps up to remind me of her presence, pushing me behind her shadow.
Shady she! NOT me!Like all these past years, my progress stopped with this argument.

That's when I was hustled down and explained  "intent, desire and effort is needed to overcome the manipulative twin". I howled and screamed in desperation, then tired of the drama I mellowed down and pleaded until I was finally guided to meditate to calm the misleading creep.

This night as I prepare to bid farewell to 2013, I say, "So be it!" I am ME. On my way. Here I go...  success along. She can join me, if she so desires.
At 2.30am as I sign off for the year, I am clear that my new day has begun, as much as I am clear that my previous day has not ended either.

That's life. Every new beginning stems from the seed of the past. So now having admitted thus, I must confess, I have no pans of leaving my twin behind, because it is she who makes me ME.
I love her. I love myself. I'm blessed. Thank you to the Divine for who I am.

Wishing all of you a healthy, joyful & successful 2014!


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mom’s quandary: A question I don’t have an answer to

Birthday girl ready for school
Okay. So this is me. As in, me, myself, because I do not have answers to [read hate to address] some questions.

I celebrated 12 years of motherhood yesterday.

It was wonderful. I woke up, got into my slippers, switched on the heater, washed my face, brushed… did all the rest like anyone else’s all other days... then plonked on the sofa and my man gave me my undoable cup of hot tea. I gave him company before waking up our excited girl.

The dad handed over the gifts and I cheered. Unbelievable excitement followed and I ran to grab the camera to capture her wide eyes popping out wider as she unwrapped the first one. By the second one, I heard a voice in me ‘you idiot don’t lose the moment’, so I handed over the camera in reliable hands.

Being a special day, I didn’t have to pack breakfast. Gave the birthday girl some cash to enjoy with her friends. Used that time to scrub my feet and posed beside my beautiful girl, who by then had helped herself into her B’day gear.

Then set about to execute The Mom’s duty.

Drove her to school… as in sat along with her in the car… and again walked along rubbing her waist. At the steps, I did the honours of taking each item from the dad and stringing it up on her. First strapped the bag on her back, then adjusted her pull-over and set her hair. Then handed over the chocolate box, and finally, precariously placed the box of cake on her other forearm and kissed her a good day.

Meanwhile, my dear friend had volunteered to bake cakes to celebrate the birthday. I being me myself, I said, “yes, please. Drop in at your convenience and I’ll have the things ready.”

She was on the dot. And the oven was in the pack. Had to be installed. Did the only thing I do in times of emergencies. Dialled my man’s number. Assured it’ll be done, I asked her to get, set, start.

That’s when my friend asked for ingredients. So very kind of her, I happily agreed when she volunteered to buy the same for me.

My lil girl’s excitement knew no bounds and she already smelled cupcakes. She recited the list of  how many she’ll give her best friend the next day and how many she’ll save for the weekend party and how unbelievable it is and…I couldn’t ask her to shut up as it was her day!

“Get the moulds ready.”

“For what”, I asked busy clearing the dishes.   

“Oh mama!. Where are you lost”! sighed my girl.


“You didn’t buy Mo..o..u..lll..dds!!!! Wwhhoaat!!! And you set out to bake!!!! Mammmaa!

I had taken a day off from work, to make the day special for my girl!

PS: At night when she kissed me goodnight, I said, “We’ll do the baking next week darling. So your birthday celebration will last that much longer, too. Isn’t that exciting!”

“Yeeaah! How cool no!” She hopped off, with a zillion springs in her steps at that wee hour. At the door, she turned to ask, “But mama, why do you hate cooking so much?”

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Rape also has a class of its own

Women’s empowerment is India’s new mantra. Or so the hoopla created by the media seems to convey. Nirbhaya set the trend as she succumbed to a brutal gang rape last year, and ever since politicians, activists, media and anyone who gets a microphone and a camera focused on them endorses their support to the uplift of the fairer lot.

But the safeguard of modesty seems to be limited to the Metros, or the capital at best. Women from the smaller towns are left to fend for themselves, while their counterparts only need to raise as much a finger to be give prime time slots to tell their tales. 

While officials were hunting down Tarun Tejpal, there was a brave teenager who was brutally attacked in Bihar only because she chose to stand up to her eve-teaser. The young athlete is hospitalized and is nursing her wounds in private, while we have national debate of the victim made the accused by the flamboyant celebrity editor. 

A youngster, a 21-year-old IT professional - was gang-raped by men who posed as taxi drivers in Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh. How is she any different from the trainee journalist in Delhi? 

The gang-rape of the Dalit girl in Gujarat, fortunately, has been heard in the courts. The Gujarat high court upheld the life term awarded by the trial court in the case. But…what coverage did the case receive on national media? 

What’s happened to the 14-year-old who was allegedly killed by her rapist in Odisha? Buried! Sad! 

Yet another sensational case that has seen unprecedented uproar is that of the doctor couple – now sentenced to life in prison in the name of ‘honour killing’. 

Any idea of the number of such killings that take place in remote areas in India that have proof? But Talwars are in the right place at the right time to be in the wrong! 

Yes, it is not practical for every sick mind to be paraded down at prime time. But it is equally wrong to strip down a selected few from selected cities, especially when we have pressing issues to address than have suave men flaunt their attitude. 

Oh, yes, now that we have an election looming ahead… with so many contestants ready to abuse the trust of gullible voters, there’ll be no dearth of prime-time debates. 

Some reprieve to the ignored victims!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

You, me and our leave


Like a loaf of bread, it comes with an expiry. ‘Cos it leaves you famished even after consuming it all.
Like a meandering river, it comes with its serendipity. ‘Cos you stumble upon long-lost interests.
Like an elaborate ritual, it comes with its perils. ‘Cos you ask, ‘why the hell did I avail it’.
Like a warm massage, it comes with its pain. ‘Cos you feel guilty of whiling away time.
Like a conceived labour, it comes after much anticipation. ‘Cos mid-way you feel like returning.
Like good sex it comes with its own exhaustion. ‘Cos it leaves you tired but wanting more.

Break the routine NOW.... Sands of time knows no leave!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Why is the doctor like this? Sridevi is to blame!

Ever since a bewildered Sridevi decoded ‘judgemental’ in English Vinglish, I’m wary of the word. My daughter tags all my compliments with it, prefixes all my remarks with it and even splutters them in my umms and aahs. 

So much so I scream, ‘Learn to respect another’s opinion,’ and I am reminded that I am opinionated. As Well. 

I could do with a basket to collect the rest as well!

Well, I love to be neither at all times, but since I love my individuality, I love to exercise a wee bit of both sometimes. But again because I’m conscious of my personality at all times, I love to be one of the two at times and, therefore, I love to be dumb and pretend to be numb when I cannot.

Now, the reason I’m writing this is because I can’t help being numb any more these days. How can I, when I’m lifted off my feet and laid on a slippery dhroni, chin down, my wobbly tummy squeezed like a jelly with two iron-strong palms that first pour hot concoctions [which I cannot pronounce nor know the spelling to express] over my naked back and then rub it into my skin to lubricate my spine.

[Does the spine stiffen standing upright against As Wells. Need to check with the doc!]

Anyways, here’s why I’m writing this post…“How can a doctor, a DOCTOR, of all people be so regressive!”

Okay, so getting to the point…. I still need to beat around one last bush. Ever since I gave a series of medical entrance exams two decades ago and flunked each one worse than the previous attempt, I’ve had this thing about doctors.

Years later, when I landed in Dubai and saw them in sparkling white coats and butter-like gloves gliding on shining-leather chairs inside more sparkling cubicles that smell at all times of air fresheners, my THING for the breed only awed stronger.

So, when my doc heard me speak to the husband, and asked me astonished forgetting to pull up his jaw in place, “You call yourhusband by his name!” I had to look away and fiddle with my phone to construct a modest reply and control my nerves.

“Won’t I forget who the world is referring to when they address me, if I stop calling him by his name, doc?” I cracked.

“Are you always like this only?” asked the simpleton doc unable to hide his shock now.

“Nothing absolutely like this, but something similar.” I replied leaving the doc to decipher the rest. He didn’t get too far analyzing the statement, I learnt, when he commented: “You are a happy woman.”
Well, the reason I’m sharing this here is because the THING I had about doctors was they were a progressive lot. You know, like their science and knowledge and reason and patience and status and even those chips on their shoulders…

It’s only recently, while lying on that slippery dhroni, swearing through my sticky nostrils unable to find anyone to blame for my THING about doctors that I thought of Sridevi.

What the heck! [This is not me saying. It's my girl's fav line these days] 

Monday, November 4, 2013

A math teacher who assesses students on looks

Last week, I was at the Open House – a tête-à-tête with my child’s teachers. It’s not a parent-teacher meeting where you discuss your ward in detail, rather a breezy hello-so-how-is-my-child-ok-listen-this-is-how-she-is-next-please kind of greeting and signing off that should not take more than 5 minutes. The time was highlighted in bold on a huge board in the auditorium where the teachers were seated to meet thousands of parents. 

Her class teacher was a gem. I was buoyed. Floating, I perched at other teachers’ tables, who made me more light by every word they said.

But when it came to the Math teacher, we had to wait about 40minutes. The husband was irked. Just so as to distract him, I said, “I feel so proud. Everyone has nice things to say about our lil one…”

“So what did you expect? She’s my daughter!” He arrogantly spelt out. So I left him alone to get more restless. 

And I returned to doing what I love the most in crowded places – studying people around without them noticing I was dissecting them. There were men and women of all sizes and sorts around me, that I was spoilt for stares.

At last, the wide-eyed, beaming teacher welcomed us…

“Good morning Sir. Good morning madam.”

“Morning ma’am. How are you? We are Diya’s parents?” I pleasantly greeted the lady before me with curly hair and full-round lips parted above a double-chin.

“Ahh…let me guess. Whom does she look like…ahh...I think she’s gone on you Sir.” She laughed leaning back at her great discovery.

“What do you think?” she asked me. 

“This is a query I gave up pondering a decade ago, ma’am. Now I wonder why she even behaves like him.” I answered honestly. 
My girl striking a pose for her dad!
“Yeah. She’s a peaceful child. Like him.”

[Whooat! In the first 2 minutes of meeting she deduces a trait in him the world seems to scream into my face… I quickly assured myself that it was a result of only me communicating. So I immediately decided to remain quiet…peaceful, I mean]

As if on cue, she said, “You speak very well ma’am.”

I gave her a smile. One of my plastic ones reserved for such occasions. 

“So tell me. How is she?” the teacher asked after her personal observations.

[That’s what we are here to know…I wanted to say loud and clear, for I was by now a wee bit unsettled].

“Math is her favourite subject,” I replied. Again honestly. 

“Yes, She is good. No issues with her.” Short, crisp assessment as if she remembered of the time allotted for each parent only when asked about the child’s performance. 

“Anything else, you want to know,” she queried. 

“Does she participate in class activities,” I asked, to which she feigned deaf and replied, “You may please sign here [the attendance sheet]. 

I said, “ I have a concern. You've mentioned in her assessment card that she does not submit work on time. [I had taken a print-out along, as proof]

She was lost and red. The smile vanished. She looked ahead and after a few seconds of silence, called a student, standing in queue behind us.

“Did Diya give her book this time?”

The baffled youngster took a few moments to answer. “Yes ma’am”.

“But she didn’t give the last two times?”

The confused looking youngster took another few moments and replied. “Yes. No ma’am.”
A relieved-looking teacher turned to me, “Her name has come up frequently on late submissions list…”

“Thank you, ma’am.” I got up.

I confronted her class teacher with the proof and expressed my concern about the Math teacher's allegation.

‘She’s new. Just joined this term. I don’t know who has entered this remark. If it’s the previous teacher. But, it’s unlike Diya. Possibly there’s a confusion…” the class teacher reasoned, astonished.

PS: The Math teacher, I guess, was buying time by making personal comments trying to figure out who the student could be. 

Read here...An earlier school incident a couple of years ago

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A little faith, much love and... some gooey curry

My little girl's charcoal sketch of The Enlightened One... A coincidence that she shook me awake after this!
When I said I will not eat a dish placed precariously in delicate china near a yellow candle that seemed to croon and blush the maroonish-glistening gravy, I was told, "People come from far and wide enduring traffic, toll and weather, sit in queue to savour this and you don't even want to taste it?" My gregarious friends exclaimed as they scooped up more than heaps of dollops into their plate as the husband passed me the raitha.
"Why is she like this?" They continued, as if I had fought tooth and nail and forced them on a trip to Iceland only to complain about the weather and sit sipping Horlicks I carried along.
"I have faith in my organs," I replied.
"I have a deadline to meet tomorrow. I can't waste time in the loo." I explained.
"Common on, yaar!"
"If my eyes don't approve of it, my stomach will not accept it. Simple."
"That's your misplaced belief," said one from the other end of the table. Seconding him, came a few comments. "Yeah, yeah. This is all unwanted beliefs." "You should be open to everything." "You tend to be stuck in a one-off incident...". "You are even otherwise very rigid in your beliefs..."
What the heck? I thought. My stomach, my body, my mind, my decision.
As I began saying, "Even you guys are rigid in your belief...", the husband shushed me leaning across asking, "Want more raitha?" scuffling the rest of sentence, "...that only non-vegetarian dishes can complete a party," into his armpit.
It sucks. No, not his underarms. That ilk and their eeky beliefs.
This incident happened two years back.
But its only today I realised my ignominy of having tugged along defending gluttonous delight using magnanimous words such as belief and faith, when I was confronted with a situation that questioned my belief and faith.
As in Belief and Faith!
I forced my little girl to visit a holy shrine of which she had no idea of only to honour someone else's faith in the deity. In my blind belief to appease the person I love, I thrust my belief on to my daughter expecting her to follow instructions in good faith. And the project cancelled at the nth hour. An hour that proved costly only to my little girl as it came after she missed two days of school.
Lessons learnt.
1. Never thrust religion on your children. Enlighten them on all. Even talk to them of your beliefs in a particular faith and believe, yes believe, in the knowledge you impart and leave it to them to choose their faith.
2. Never mix faith and love.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Looking me in the eye, he said… and I wondered why

This Friday noon, seated in my living room, on my sofa, looking me in my naked eye, an elderly cousin said, “I didn’t inform you of the event…because you are allergic to Malayalam…”

A loose comment by an elderly, who’ve spent donkey’s years and more away from his homeland, should be termed just that, I told myself in order to continue drooling in the weekend groove.

But I have a dear friend, who holds me back during such moments by lending me what I call customized-to-my-feelings  books, which knock me on the scalp screaming ‘dare you become an escapist’!

This time, it is Jhumpa Lahiri’s ‘Unaccustomed Earth’, which has an answer for me.

Here it goes…

In his desperation at justifying abandoning his homeland to secure riches for his progeny, while nurturing attachments to the land he is not tied by blood or birth, and yet unable to strike roots in his adopted land, it’s his torn cultural beliefs, if any, that make him [and scores of others like him] take pot shots at me [and scores of others like me] who doesn’t fit into his overly-touchy self-defined ‘native’ description.

Well, I’m not writing this to mark myself on my love-for-my-parental-tongue index nor profess my patriotism as much for saying what marvelous piece of art I’m reading. It’s all about the immigrant populations’ Indian ethos, cultural shocks, mucked up personal identities, suppressed emotions, addictions… relationships. Yes HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS!

As a starter, here’s a teaser…

A Indian widower refuses to settle down with his married daughter in the US saying he doesn’t want to ‘burden’ her, when in reality he has found a new love at a ripe old age. But before he leaves he plants his wife’s favourite plant in his daughter’s garden and asks her to take care of it.  Why?

The reason is left to the reader’s ethics, if I may say so. Because she is not talking morals. It’s only emotions. You peel layers and layers of emotions through each story until you are left holding only more of it. An undefinable, unexplainable mix of feelings, which is right and wrong at the same time.

Watch this space for the review…I’ve just meandered half-way through the book yet. 

PS: I wish my 'allegator' reads this book.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

How positive is negative voting?

Appeared in TFW on Oct 3
Don’t underestimate the power of a common man! A dapper Shah Rukh Khan sprawling his hands delivers, arousing the nation. And now, the Supreme Court has seconded it. Wow!

Indians will receive a revised set of MCQs this time around. Laymen who were leaning against their armrests tired of Namo crackers and Gandhi bombshells sighing over the cacophony of all the wannabes sat up excited on hearing the Supreme Court order offering them each a baton. Grabbing it hard, they are prepared to hit them, nail them or simply ignore them all. 

But unlike students who get marked right in case the answer is NOTA, will the adults get away with the tick?

The wrong candidates may not get to occupy the coveted seat they lobbied for. But what happens if the majority of the electorate decides to opt for none? 

A right tick, in this case, may prove costly to laymen – to the very lot who fought for the privilege to exercise the freedom of choice. Those who stand tested in this general elections will be them as much as the politicians.

The fear is there. One reason why we heard cautious comments from the political class on the court order.

If only Bollywood reels took over real life! The power of a common man has hitherto only flickered selectively, shone brightly randomly and disappeared constantly in regular pre-determined patterns.

The deeds of politicians have always been mightier than the collective power of the entire nation. Scandals one bigger than the previous bombed and disappeared into thin air.  Issues snowballing into crucial intensity weathered into sobriety by seasoned hands. 
Election-time agendas and all-year through debates for the betterment of the aam admi have been the only winners. Empty promises – the power of the elected class – have always been unleashed without mercy.

The common man is tired. They need a spotless government – one devoid of any corrupt person. After more than six-long decades here’s the chance for that.

But consider a scenario where none gets elected; okay, let’s be more realistic – where none gathers a majority to form a government – then? If the common man were to exercise his powers rightly,  then the scenario will be far from being imaginary – considering the current crop of wannabe leaders.

The flip side of NOTA will then be a hole in the tax-payers’ pockets. But the tamasha will continue. Just like Bollywood, our elected class will keep us entertained  for the next five years. Do we have the nerve to withstand that? Well, old habits die hard… Practice makes perfect…

Chuck the adages!