Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hindi baat

Advance warning: Non-Hindi readers, pl skip post as it turned out to be too long to include translations.

Prologue: Daddy dearest has lived all his life in the land of Tamils except for a brief 11 months stint in training school, BARC at Chembur, Mumbai. Mommy has lived in the north of Vindhyas only vicariously through the Hindi movies of the '70s. Here is a record of some of their Hindi 'Laughter is the best medicine' type stories!
PS: Any movie makers looking for material for a Southie spoof, here are your answers!

Year: 1999; Location: Souvenir shop, Katra (near Jammu, base camp for the Vaishno Devi shrine)
Mommy - Yeh, yeh, yeh, yeh and yeh, kitna?
Shopkeeper: Maaji, sab milaaki pachees.
Mommy: Ennathu? Too much, too much. Pachaas. That's all.
Shopkeeper: Hain???!!!!

Year: 2003; Location: Kolkata
Dad: Tum jaanta Raj hotel?
Cabbie: Nahin saab.
Dad: (waving his hands wildly to indicate right) Yahaan se seedha, (then gesturing to the right) phir seedha, (another right)ek aur seedha, (then left) phir udhar se aisa seedha.
Cabbie: Phew! Main poochta hoon kisi se!

Year: 2008 Location:Mumbai
Postman: Yeh parcel sirf Meera madam ko dena hai
Dad: Woh feeding karta hai. Tum apun to deta hai. Main madam ko feeding baad mein deta hai. Ab deta aur jaata!
Postman: Uh, okay. Sign karo!

Not to be outdone, here are two gaffes of mine which my friends never let me forget. (here's to Kunal and Dips!)

Year: 2001, Location: Puri Beach, early in the morning on new year's
Me: Kunal, sunrise kitna sundar hai. I love the sunrise because mein to beach pe hi ugi thi!

Year: 2002, Location: Gurgaon
[I called my friend and her mom picked up the phone. I thought I'd be polite and enquire about her parents]
Me: Aunty, aap kaise ho? Dipti ke baap kaise hain?


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ahoy from the South!

Button turned six months old :) I finally feel like a veteran mommy.... am a certified diaper changer, sleep-deprived soul, story teller in 3 languages and a connoisseur of baby talk, not to mention how I can nurse Button just about anywhere without worrying too much about any skin-show! New skills indeed! My husband and I celebrated by attacking a date-walnut cake and demolishing it in minutes! And of course the brief Kerala trip.

We did Button's annaprashnam at Guruvayoor on the 6th of Dec (the security was super tight and reassuring). Button looked like a doll in a veshti (the south Indian wrapper in cream and gold). We fed him 7 different types of food off a banana leaf at 5.00 a.m. and although it was so early in the morning, he still slurped and licked his mouth. We also did a tulabaram (paid for his weight in sugar and bananas, the proceeds of which would go towards feeding children supported by the temple trust).

He was a model child until we returned to Cochin airport from where the dad and son parted ways to fly to two different cities. I've always rolled my eyes at those babies who become cranky, loud and impossible in a flight and always believed that my baby would remain a paragon of virtue onboard any flight cos' that is how I'd've brought him up. Button CRASHED those dreams of mine into the netherworld on my solo trip with him from Kochi to Chennai. The moment he saw us leaving withought dad, he began yelling, kicking and screaming. He cried non-stop(except when air hostess Bineesha of Kingfisher airways would stop to smile her dimpled smile at him! God Bless her!) The moment he saw my mom-in-law(upon landing) he gave me an evil grin and went to her. As if I wanted him back after that flight!

I came to my mom's place this morning and Button showed off by doing the worm crawl for the first time today. Described as neenjal in tamizh, he basically pulled up his butt and somehow moved towards his fave cloth book this afternoon.

More posts to follow on lots of topics vying for attention on this blog. In a bit! Until then, enjoy the great weather :)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Jaago Re: Vote out the rot

After the shock and anger passed, am now filled with a sense of urgency, especially after reading and watching how some of our "leaders" reacted. RR Patil the Deputy CM of Maharashtra said that there would always be an incident or two such as this (the recent attacks on Taj Mahal, Oberoi etc.) in a big city like Mumbai and his boss, the CM of Maharashtra 'Shri' Vilasrao Deshmukh decided to visit the affected sites with a filmmaker. What empathy!

Now I'd like to do something.... no, I rephrase, I WANT to do something... but what? A million single efforts are not going to solve the problem. Like Obama said, I need Change, I need Leadership and I need Vision. I want to believe that as an Indian I can contribute to bettering my country. I realise that I need a strong leader to take this country to a better morrow. And for all this rhetoric in my blog (and in my head), I realise I NEED TO VOTE.

All media images of polling booths show SEC B, C, D and sub D categories voting. Never has a car stopped to let out a couple of educated MBA professionals/Media Managers/Engineers/Investment Bankers vote. C'mon, how many of you have ever voted? I have promised to myself I shall cast my vote in EVERY election that I can. At least let my voice be heard, use my right as a citizen, show the way to my son and his son. Taking a small step forward, I have already arranged to apply for my voter's ID card (which I am ashamed to admit, I still do not possess at the ripe voting age of 29!) I shall be back with more details of whether you can vote outside your constituency etc. But meanwhile do check out "jaagore.com"

To paraphrase Michael, nee Mikaeel Jackson, lets make the world a better place for you and for me and the entire human race.

ps: Here are more voices -

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Mumbai being held to ransom again. This time a really planned and horrifically beautifully executed terror strike by the Deccan Mujaheddin. I woke up to 50 missed calls on all the phone lines we have. Parents, relatives, friends... all worried. Am pretty shaken by the regularity of attacks on Mumbai.

What I don't understand is why the TV channels, notably Times NOW and Headlines Today are bent upon showing where the police operations are, where they are stationed(roof tops of nearby buildings, each of them named!), how many of them(20 at each location), what weapons they possess (smoke bombs, AK 47s, hand grenades) and what their strategy could be (ah, finally speculation!) Do they think the terrorists in the Taj Mahal hotel have NO access to television????? Irresponsible journalism. In the name of 'breaking news', they are only sensationalising the terror strike. No depth of coverage. No feelings for the hostages' families. (Ex: On Times Now, there was a hot line for hostages to reach out to their families. A person calls asking for any info about his brother-in-law who was last seen in Kandahar, a restaurant in the Trident Oberoi. The reporter cuts him off mid sentence with assuring news reports that the Taj was the focus of the police force. How would this caller feel?)

I hope Mumbai moves to a higher level of security. Pray for the hostages. May the terrorist be caught and punished, in their lifetime or atleast mine.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Quantum of Solace!

No, not the movie, uh, maybe a little bit, but the solace that my helper has now brought to my life. To explain my cryptic statement, rewind to last week of October. To ferry a boat without hands, in a storm, in the dark would've been easier than to have managed my suddenly-tantrum-throwing-son and my newly-turned-antagonistic-maid and my-always-messy-cook, not to mention my-very-stressed-out-husband in the last week of October. Did I mention I had no one else with me? My m-i-l came with me to Bombay, gave me time to unpack and get my maid working again and returned to Chennai. And then the hurricane hit! I was clueless(actually still am) as to how to manage domestic help, my very-demanding baby and the house. I barely found time to bathe and eat before he would start screaming. So I began looking for a helper... and found one a week ago.

Raji is a godsend. She comes at about 9 in the morning and leaves at about half past five. She does all the odd jobs that stack up now that Button is here - from washing his bottles to hanging his clothes to dry and ironing 'em, to cleaning his stroller, straightening out stuff and watching over him when I eat and bathe... and he hasn't even started crawling! She is slowly learning to hold him and engage him. What I also like about her is that she is smart, quick on the uptake and willing to learn (and no, am not thinking about the day she decides to leave!)

In the last month, we also started solids for Button and discovered that he could easily be the world's spitting champion in the babies category. His aim (usually my hair) and timing (usually when am scooping his next spoonful) are brilliantly well-planned and fabulously accurate. He has discovered that he can sing.... for the neighbours...LOUDLY. Usually chooses his riyaaz timings when I just close my eyes for a fifteen minute nap, if am lucky I even get to sleep for 5 minutes. Oh, and he loves to roll over and that is reserved for mamma's bath times. Result? I have learnt to take a bath and change clothes in 4 minutes flat (and beating my own record every third day!) And the cup of naughtiness brimmeth over with his licking habit... he is ready to lick just about anything. Samples include ink pots, sofa legs, cell phones, his own diapers, AC remote, all his toys and their wrapping paper, not to mention his fave breakfast...the Mumbai Mirror! (Mamma likes it too, only to read though!) In short he is a handful and on his way to being naughtier. And aye yum luvving it!!

In early December, the husband and I are planning to take him to Guruvayoor for his annaprashnam. After Kerala, we are heading for home and shall be back only in end December.

PS: I went with my friends to watch Bond, leaving Button and hubby behind. Needless to say, I was super-stressed about Button missing me through the movie and Bond was so lack lustre that I obviously thought it was a waste of 200 bucks. Craig was so-not-hot (or have my interests changed?)

And and for the amrikaans, Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, October 17, 2008

The dark side of the moon!

Button is slowly developing a naughty side (thanks to much encouragement from my m-i-l). Can’t say am complaining now ☺ For example, he seems to love the game of peek-a-boo. My m-i-l hides her face with her hands in front of him and questions “Patti enga?” (where is grandmom?). The moment he touches her hand or pulls a hand away she says “itho” (here) and he smiles instantly. He repeats this with my husband too. However, when I hide my face and ask him “amma enga?”, he starts chortling loudly and refuses to pull away my hand. Beauty, beholder et al!

Similarly when my m-i-l holds her index finger to him, he is in a hurry to reach it.. be it with his hands or feet. When mommy dearest tries to repeat it, he gives me a look and usually puts his index finger in his mouth (surefire recipe to irritate me!) Oh, and once the index finger is in, he shows surprising strength and resists all attempts to pull out mentioned digit.

In other news, he loves his stroller. He got gifted his first pair of jeans and looks like a miniature-man (if you know what I mean, a mini mee type person!) when he wears it. He has been invited to his first b’day party tomorrow and I hope he likes crowds and socializing.

On an unrelated note, yay to Mr.Goyal for reinstating the Jet cabin crew staff. I know how traumatic losing a job suddenly could be and am glad that so many hundreds of people were spared that agony. Happy flying everyone! And I hope my good friends who insisted on watching me breastfeed Button on take-off from Chennai last fortnight are back to flying, hopefully more enlightened!

Sunday, October 12, 2008


In the last week that I was away from the blog world....

I discovered in the airport, on the Jet weighing scale that I had 100 kgs of luggage(travelers = me, Button, Husband and Mom-in-law). A good 40 kgs excess. Realised I would be bankrupt (given stock market situation or not) if I paid the actual amount. So gave Oscar winning performance to Jet airways man-at-counter about coming from the US of A and how hot India was and how Jet's service standards seemed to have improved since my last trip with them :) Well, it is not false, except that we returned over 2 years ago. And after all time IS a relative factor and necessity the mother of improvisation :)

In the flight, when Button cried before take off, 3 male stewards and 1 female air hostess rushed towards us, stood around me and insisted I feed him. While after six tequila shots I may be tempted to loosen a button or two, I wasn't planning to breastfeed for in-flight entertainment. Finally it took my irate husband to point out that they needed to fasten their seat belts and that our baby was 'our' concern. Phew!

Yippee... am back home! To my lovely little home that overlooks the sea and the Worli-Bandra sea link. To my maid who has it in her nature to fight with me everyday. To my cook, who hopefully shall get the sack soon for putting 'dal' in salt instead of the other way round. To my 'apartment mommy society' (and there are already 6 of us with babies born this year). To my bedroom with its lovely white bed lamp. And best of all, back to life with husband. We are a family now :)

Button is settling down. We are trying to get him to sleep in his crib. But he gets up twice in the night(atleast) for feeds. So its tough. Am planning to persist with it as most books advise separate sleeping arrangements from month 3 itself. Also, I'd like to roll about in my bed for a change :)

And I turned the lovely age of 29 on the 10th. Had a quiet b'day. Button wore ONLY new clothes from morn to evening. I got a slew of gifts from husband in his usual thoughtful and innovative manner. Good food from m-i-l completed the day. Next year (I have promised myself) I shall get smashed :)

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Leaving on a jet plane...

Buried under mountains of clothes to pack... never realized there'd be SO MUCH to do before a less-than-two-hours flight back home to Bombay! Work seems to have doubled as compared to my trip from Bombay to here.

And to see my completely grown-up parents behave like kids with their sad faces at Button's departure, refusing to let me hold him except during b/feeding sessions.

And the streams of last minute visitors coming in to see the baby. (Didn't they know I was here in the last 3 whole months?)

And his vaccination yesterday (and fever to deal with)

But yippee... am glad am going back home..in time for my b'day... Bombay watch out for us :)

ps: Any Bombayites/non-Bombayites if you can suggest a full time/part time maid/nanny, I shall be eternally grateful and promise to buy you a drink/coffee/or anything else... gentleman's word.

Sayanora Kalpakkam
... shall blog from Bombay in a few days, once I settle in.

Meanwhile, Button turned 4 months old today.
* He hates rolling over.
* Maybe its my imagination, but he seems to recognize his name and the word "fan".
* Loves to admire his hands and feet! (For narcissistic tendencies, his mom is to be blamed!)
* Hates to be wrapped up for the night.
* Chews his mittens with a vengeance.
* Gurgles, coos and sometimes says 'da'.
* He sings with me when I sing (offtune) his lullaby for the night(and no, its NOT my overactive imagination, I swear he really croons!)
* Is taller and chubbier and cuter than ever :)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Award season.....

I always knew I am brilliant, but receiving a 'Brilliant' award had me falling on my knees and thanking my lucky stars (well, almost!). I am happy to accept the Brilliant Weblog awards from Dinky's owner who thinks that I "manage the balance of convention and adventure and record it well!"

I take great joy in awarding the following people -
* KarSub for being the one who got away!
* Ms.Bhatta whose writing reminds me of radio shows and childhood book-swapping days.
* Nutty for almost being me a few years earlier and for the honesty and humour in her posts.
* Munchkin's mom for allowing me to keep my sanity intact by showing me the way!
* Priyanka for her cheer and bubbly spunk and her visible love for A.
* Lavs for being a Harry Potter fan!
* Margarita for ranking Al's performance in 'The Godfather' as her fave. You win instant approval from me gal!

The rules are -
1. When you receive the prize you must write a post showing it, together with the name of who has given it to you, and link them back
2. Choose a minimum of 7 blogs (or even more) that you find brilliant in their content or design.
3. Show their names and links and leave them a comment informing they were prized with 'Brilliant Weblog'
4. Show a picture of those who awarded you and those you give the prize (optional).
5. And then we pass it on!

Oh and I made my first forever-best-blogfriend... and I can't wait to flaunt my award and my new found kinship. Here's to Cubby's mom who thanked me for "just being around". Thanx Abha. Your blog is fun and I look forward to lots of posts on life and cubby.

I am thrilled to award it to....
$ R @ ITW for being down-to-earth, helpful and good fun.
$ Nutty for getting under my skin. Someday we should meet gal!
$ Munchkin's mom just for being at the same place under the sun.
$ Parul for reminding me to take motherhood lightly and enjoy it.
$ Gayatree for being my soul sistah!
$ Priyanka as much for her enjoyment of travel (which brings me joy) as for her place in the fellowship of motherhood!

Go on! Spread the cheer :)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Abject Apologies...

My baby...

I did not mean to drop my mobile phone on your head. Am contrite. Truly sorry. Your sobbing (as against 'crying') broke my heart. But what humbled me even more was the fact that you wanted "me" to wipe away your tears and comfort you, even though I was the one who had hurt you. I guess it is true that child IS the father of man. I learnt from you today. Never again, I promise to be careful and keep my clumsiness in check. May the bump go away soon.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Week that was...

Tidbits from the last week -

M-i-L visit: Button and I (and the husband) went to Chennai for a 4 day visit. My dear m-i-l had done up the house, gotten some new plumbing done and fixed an extra AC. Also being the ultimately-resourceful person that she is, she had arranged a cradle for the li'l one too. She rocks! We had a lovely time there, with Button really rising up to the occasion and not troubling me at all. Button got tonnes of clothes. He is now the proud owner of 13 onesies/sailor suits, 19 jablas, 14 Tees and 8 pairs of shorts. Also one track suit(!!) Enough to clothe a mini infant-army.

The husband and I went to lunch one day at a place called 'Cholayil Sanjeevanam' run by the Medimix group offering health food. However, on the day we went, we were served Onam special lunch. Great food. Really small helpings though (I felt like a meanie having asked for re-serves of the 'Erusseri' a record 11 times!) Bad service. But the food is super. The restaurant is in Nungambakkam, opp the ICICI bank.

Shopping: Bought lots of books for Button. Baby center says he should be read aloud to. Had a blast at Landmark picking up Fairy Tales for him (No, I don't believe in racial under/over tones blah) Twas' lovely trying to remember the much-treasured stories of childhood. Could almost remember the words in the books that I used to read out to my sister. Don't get me wrong, am not trying to be elitist, but I was surprised at the kind of crowd at Landmark (based on the kind of tamil used and the clothes) Pleasantly surprised actually, that all sections of the society seem to appreciate books and toys.

ITW: I finally connected to a really lovely person through the blogworld and 'aye yumm luvving eet' :) R from ITW and I had a medium-sized chat with Tejas and Ojas providing lovely background sounds with their sweet-voiced-mommy demands! Thanks R. Couldn't manage to go to the shop this time, but my mom would check it out this weekend.

Button's latest:
* He has begun to demand 'godi' all the time, demanding to be held, walked around and swung around.
* He had begun to watch trees and crows and cows avidly. He kept gurgling at a calf drinking water from a pot at our gate and then threw a crying fit the moment the calf mooed :) Amusing!
* Rolls over and then yells for attention! Is not able to roll back to position yet.
* Plays around during feeding sessions, irrespective of bottle or breast. Its quite a task getting him to feed properly.
* Gurgles in different ways and blows spit bubbles incessantly. Also clasps his hands in different positions depending on his mood.
* Has now started to lick everything in sight.. my mom's mangalsutra, my dad's poonal, buttons on my clothes (wait a minute, button licking buttons eh?!) his own clothes, top-to-toe on his hands during his bathtime.. sigh!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

The old and the New!

My dear grandad is 92 years old. He has had an account in SBI for ages. My dad recently retired and therefore my family would be shifting from Kalpakkam to Chennai. My grandad decided not to shift his (pension) account to another branch in Chennai (he fails to understand core banking completely) and grandiosely announced his plans to use the ATM instead. He applied for the card and then these were his wonderful reactions to the card!

My grandad's reaction to the plastic -
1. He read the card guide cover to cover - thrice.
2. He refused to tear the card from the welcome letter (until I did it during his afternoon siesta, and got yelled at for it!)
3. He showed the card proudly to every visitor to our house in the last one week, and also called his daughters and grandchildren to announce that he now owns an ATM card.
4. He refused to open the 'secret' PIN code because it is secret!
5. Once cajoled to tear open the PIN intimation, he refuses to show the numbers to anyone and refuses to entertain any suggestions to change the printed PIN.
6. He used the ATM card for the first time today and took the card to the temple for a puja (a la a new car!) before he went to the Bank.
7. He has a brand new folder to store the receipts of each ATM transaction, already labelled and filed with his papers.
8. The bank manager gave my granddad an umbrella for being the oldest customer in their clientele to have applied for an ATM card (the other 80years+ pensioners refusing even the computerized pass book)

Please tell me how many of the above apply to you :)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Rolling Stone!

Button rolled over by himself today. He is 87 days old. Yippee :)

ps: He seems to love being on his tummy.

Monday, August 25, 2008

'Pee' Time tales

Warning: If baby tales of peeing and pooping scare you, scroll down no further!


Now Button pees funnily. His (ahem) asset stands up like a cannon ready to fire and then starts moving randomly on its axis in any direction it chooses and fires. Sometimes like an irrigation sprinkler in all directions! When he was about 3 weeks old, I was changing his diaper one day, when it stood up alarmingly. I decided to wait and see where he would pee and was betting furiously with my husband over the direction. He started crying at the exact moment he started peeing. And hey, he outdid himself. He peed right onto his face. The expression on his face was an absolute MasterCard moment...priceless.


My mom's colleague dropped in the other day to meet the baby. She was annoying me no end with her overbearing instructions, especially regarding the cloth nappy and liner that Button was wearing. Apparently, since he is a 'boy', he should be kept clothless showing off his assets as much as possible (and I just don't agree). She picked him up and removed his nappy. He had just peed. She remarked that as he had just peed, it was good to let him air out. Almost instantly, as though Button knew I was displeased with his nangu-pangu state, peed again, right on her face... and lots at that! The look on her face was brilliantly confused as she stuttered and muttered! Ah, retribution :)


A few days ago, Button's pee started smelling. For those who don't know, a 2 month old baby's pee shouldn't smell at all. Between my internet searches and my Bible 'What to Expect' telling me that it could be Urinary Tract Infection, I decided to become a pathologist and collect a sample of his urine to check if it was cloudy (another symptom of UTI). Oh, what a time I had. Everytime I thought he was going to pee and brought the clean glass container I had identified for the purpose, he would just grin and not go, or go too quickly or more often in the direction opposite to the one I was holding the glass. I guess becoming a football goalie is not a career option for me!
ps: For those who are concerned, no, the smell isn't there any more! It vanished as suddenly as it had appeared.


During pregnancy, I quite enjoyed a few calorific 'Milky Bars'. Since post delivery I have been quite off chocolates, as a treat my mom bought me a Milky Bar. One afternoon, I put Button to sleep. I slowly unwrapped the two layers, mentally savouring the pleasure that was to come. I placed the bar on my lap and leaned over Button to pick up my book. In a second I felt a lot of wetness on my lap... Milky Bar soaked in baby pee, anyone? (Sigh!)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Weather!

The Mumbai monsoon is one of the big reasons I came to Kalpakkam to my parents' house. I wanted his clothes to smell of the sun.

And it has been pouring almost consistently every day ever since I came here.

Rain Man... listening to me? Am tired of you...GO AWAY!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

‘Gold’en shot!

I am as proud and happy as all Indians are at Abhinav Bindra’s achievement. An Olympic Gold is no mean feat. Being brought up on a staple of cricket and the occasional tennis match, I was stunned to realize how many avenues of achievement are possible. Given my latest mantle of motherhood, I realize how much his parents must’ve struggled to give him support (and they’ve said so non-stop on every TV channel that exists in India, including a rarely watched Tamil channel called Win TV and on Asianet News!)

I have a tiny li’l son. I would be happy to see him become a world class athlete, but honestly I have no clue where to start. Like most south Indian Iyer families, my relatives often ask me if I’d like Button to become an Engineer or a Doctor or the third front, a Chartered Accountant. I am happy to support my child in whatever career option he wants to pursue, as long as it is above board. But what is the path to the non-conventional options?

In China, I know I can send my child to an athlete’s school. What is the procedure in India? Do athletes have a future if they are not absolutely top of the rung? Will my son be able to face the politics in sports if he gets there? What about life after the atheletic years are over? In western countries, most athletes have a good chance of becoming a trainer at various levels at good salaries. In India, we are still far far behind. I guess in India, “becoming” an athlete is still more of a fluke. What do you think?

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Button at 2 months

Button at two months loves smiling, especially at the ceiling fan. He even chuckles at it sometimes, sharing secrets with the fan!

He has started cooing and "talking" to people, especially my granddad.

He hates being swaddled, except in the nights.

He loves to drag any object close to him to check it out. Especially mobile phones!

My family decked him up in all the gold he received and surprisingly seemed to love it (both my husband and I hate to wear any excessive jewelry, wonder where he got this gene from!)

He has a special sound that he makes when my mom calls out to me in a sing-song voice!

Button seems to love music and settles down even when I sing in my terrible voice :)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Work and Maternity Breaks

Breaking News: I was asked to resign from my job... because am on maternity leave. NOT FAIR.

I had an engaging role working out of home. The role necessitated occasional travel which I was (and still am) willing to do leaving Button behind with my mom. The head of the organization who took this call to let me go has 4 children herself. She worked out of home for the same organization several decades ago when she took 4 maternity breaks herself. Everybody agrees that I did a great job and that they "wish" they could wait another month for me to return, but no, progress on a couple of assignments is too fast to not have a person on the job NOW. I was openly told that the question of hiring somebody else would not have come up had I not gone on a break.

Two Questions:
a) I was open about the fact that I would go on maternity leave several months ago. Why did it not strike them then that a replacement would have to be found for a few months? Also, would it not take them time to train a new person and bring him or her to speed? It seems illogical to insinuate that I am somehow less capable now, given that am a new mother, especially coming from a lady who is a mother 4 times over.

b) Is it possible that this whole arrangement fell through because the organization is a US based one and am in India? Are Indians treated below par?

I am trying to not let guilt or resentment take over, but they do surface every now and then. As if coping with a newborn is not taxing enough!

ps:Two other posts dealing with similar topics.

Y on Working Moms
ITW on Maternity becoming a Career Hazard

Friday, July 11, 2008

The long journey home...

8th July: Wake up in the morning at 4.00 a.m.. Feed Button. Start packing large suitcase with baby clothes, baby toys, diapers, nappies, liners, rubber sheet, plastic sheet, burp cloths, towels, brush, baby oil, top-to-toe wash, lotion, powder, medicines, medical records... etc. Rush to doc to check if am back to normal, a month after delivery. Run to the baby shop to buy baby items of next size(forgot am going home for two months!) Run back. Feed baby. Start clearing cupboards (When the lady of the house is away, the maids will play!). Talk to boss about where to ship my stuff. (Another mail on story of my job follows in a few days). Try to get Button to adapt to bottle-with-a-liner. Surprised that he adapted in a few seconds!! Talk to husband endlessly about handover-of-household-routines (never believing he would stick to even one of 'em, but what the heck, we live on hope!) Finally sleep for a few hours after the first feed in the night.

9th July: Barely make it to the airport in time. Mom has one suitcase (medium) with her stuff. I have one suitcase (small) with my stuff. My husband has a laptop and a small bag. Button has two large suitcases, one medium suitcase, one diaper bag, one feeding bottle backpack and a carseat (all for a 300 rupee infant ticket!) My husband in all his wisdom had bought full fare tickets on Jet Airways for us and managed to get 3 upgrade vouchers to get us to the "royal" business class on an all-economy flight (men, sigh!)

In-flight we were instructed a few million times to feed the baby during ascent and descent, as infants do not know how to yawn (nonsense!). Also to bundle him up as he may feel cold and to plug in cotton wool into his ears. Button had other plans though. He managed to shake his head violently enough to get the cotton wool out each of the 20 times that we tried. Also hated the blanket. Refused to suckle. Instead yawned copiously during both ascent and descent. Babies sure have the own minds!

10th July Mom and dad worked overtime to set up a system for clothes and diaper changes. Button refuses to come to mom except for 'Inga'(food in his language). Prefers trusted maid K over me. Likes his great granddad's Shakespeare declamations (wonder why at 91 years of age he chose to recite Mark Antony's speech to Button who is barely 5 weeks old!). Also likes his grandpa's nonsensical babble. A typical example is "Kanna, mokutickinal, grahhy, peetombom, ffaffa, jikoko, wednomini!!" (perhaps it makes perfect sense to the little one!)

My mom calls Button "Pattaani" meaning 'green pea' in Tamizh. My dad has begun calling him "Takkali" (Tomato), "Muttakos" (Cabbage) and "Tarboojini" (Water melon)

Button loves the sound that a friendly lizard makes in our bedroom (strange tastes!)

He loves the sounds of birds chirping in the garden too (Help, we only have crows and pigeons in Bombay!)

Cries if people talk to each other and stop fussing over him for more than 5 minutes at a time. A typical conversation between my parents goes like this -
Mom: "R, we must finish our pending bank work soon enough.My sweetheart, my little darling, my pot of gold, apple of my eye. We only have three months. Honey, sweetie pie"
Dad: "Nimponsui, jijiloti,hugijoti.Yes, I have processed my papers. polikutti, kotiharra, biscofoji, wawarani. Am waiting for your signatures only. jugijugi, kohimera"
Wah, what a lovey-dovey couple!

11th JulyAm luvving it now. No worries of how to dry my clothes, maid worries or cook problems. Am more relaxed and able to bond with Button better. He is growing up to show his own tiny spirit and mind now. Am looking forward to seeing his personality grow.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Guilt. Sleep. Thrills.

It has been one month of life with baby Button! Finally some pics to share with you.

Guilty. Typically, motherhood is picturized as a baby feeding at a mother's breast. Breastfeeding is praised to the skies and the virtues of a mother who can feed her baby with plenty of milk are written everywhere. In my case, I had a trouble-free picture-perfect pregnancy... I imagined that I would be a fount of milk with my baby growing up on the abundant milk that I generated. The bible that most people follow "What to expect in the First Year" talks of storing extra milk and the right techniques to breastfeed etc...innocently, after reading it, I imagined I would have so much extra milk that my baby would be able to bathe in it! In the first harrowing week, Button woke up every hour to feed (and whimpered for more after I was done). We made sure that he latched on properly, the lighting was right, the bed was okay etc. Finally, we went to the doc in panic. I was exhausted and stressed out and wondered what was wrong. My pediac gave a simple solution - "Be practical, he is hungry, give him a top feed" (read formula milk for the non-parents!). I was devastated. I felt like I had failed some important entrance exam by not having enough milk. It took me two weeks to rationalize that it is more important to keep the baby healthy, happy and on combination feed(formula and mother's milk), than to keep him hungry and on mother's milk alone. Now he is a lot more settled, sleeps a lot more and funnily I seem to be producing a lot more milk, although not enough to exlusively feed on my milk alone!

You never know when guilt as an emotion catches up with you. I always thought that being aware of one's actions would remove guilt from one's life. In this case, much as I rationalized, books, elders in the family and self created notions (not to mention ignorance) pushed me to this negative emotion. Its a downward spiral after guilt settles in. Thanks to an understanding mom and mom-in-law (who repeatedly quoted the Gita that I should try and leave the fruits of labor to the Big Man above) that I pushed aside my prejudice. Sigh! So much for being an Sec A+ well educated yuppie mom.

Oh, my mom has been plying me with milk- lehiyam (a south indian Chavanprash kind of concoction), garlic boiled in milk (UGH!), Satavri powder, Saabudana kheer, Mother's Horlicks and Lactonic (a grand total of a litre of milk everyday). Am gagging!

Sleepy.The one luxury I miss now is... no, not movies or martinis....but blessed sleep! For someone who loves her zzz time, Button is a revelation. How he manages to wake up without an alarm clock every 3 hours is a mystery! It is forward and onward to a routine of me feed - bottle feed - burp - change nappy - continue bottle feed - change nappy - burp - rock to sleep!

Thrilled.He smiled at my husband yesterday (he completed one month yesterday!) His first social smile. Nazar na lage but oh, my heart warmed to him and I was thrilled to bits. His smile just lights up the room and our lives! He has been regularly smiling at my husband and my mom ever since... still hasn't at me, but what the heck, I live on hope and all the milk my mom feeds me!

Footnote: Am off to my hometown for a month just to miss the messy Mumbai monsoon. More blogging from home.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Its a boy!

After nine months of intense desire to blog of the impending addition to our family and blind superstition stopping me from clicking the 'publish post' tab, finally D-Day arrived on the 4th of June. P and I are delighted to share with you that we are a happy threesome with our li'l son filling our lives and thoughts with love and laughter. The li'l person we'd christened 'Button' in our first sono (he looked as 'cute as a button' and as tiny as one, therefore!)made his entry blowing spit bubbles at us :)

It is difficult to articulate the feelings I went through on D-Day...pain is the last thing one remembers, and frankly labor pains are over rated, it is very do-able (and I was in labour for 14 hours before I took the epidural, so I KNOW!!).. elation is too mild a word, I was on a high for atleast 3 days and couldn't stop smiling as if I'd won all the golds in the Olympics...pride was another dominant feeling. I was immensely proud of becoming a mom and being part of a family as opposed to a couple...fear was mildly in the backdrop too. That my son should learn to be strong and brave and courageous in this mad bad world that we chose to bring him into.. protectiveness also found a place in the plethora of emotions. This tiny li'l person would depend on my husband and I for everything and we were d@mndenst sure that we would keep him healthy, happy and contented as best as we could.....Several others, too many to write down!

Life has changed and HOW! Sleep is a really rare commodity, but well, who cares! Never knew that burps would be a much awaited event :) Also, never knew that my husband would be so diligent in noting every single strand on Button's body. We are thrilled with every breath he takes... every move he makes... and I guess parenthood is as interesting and exciting as one makes it out to be...

to be continued... pics follow soon!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Of Silly Juniors and Romantic Dinners!

The heat is on... as is the alumni season. Summer trainees have been calling up to enquire if one would attend meets or not. Someone I know is expecting a baby shortly, as early as the first week of June. A junior called her and asked her if she would be attending their campus's alumni meet scheduled on the 31st of May. So she replied that she was expecting a baby in the first week of June and would therefore 'try' to attend! This guy apparently giggles and then stumps her with his next question "Ma'am should I put your status as 'confirmed' or 'unconfirmed'?" To paraphrase my grandfather, back in 2001, a smart aleck B school student in a seemingly decent B school would never be this dumb. Where is the world going to? :)

Now to 'ME' time... my husband decided to surprise me last Sunday and HOW! He said we were going to the temple and that I should dress smartly. I was puzzled, but pati being parameshwar etc. I just complied. We did go to the temple. Then he said he wanted to go for a movie in South Bombay. This was also not unusual. I agreed. Then in South Bombay he said he wanted to use a loo, so he wanted to go to the Taj Mahal hotel. I was really puzzled (movie theatres also have decent loos!) but I still agreed (wah mom! good training!!) We went to the hotel, he gave the car to the valet, I saw Rahul Bose get out his white Merc with an anaemic sleep-deprived young "chick" and opened my mouth wide. Forgot to check where I was going as I saw Gautam Singhania and the Punjab Lions IPL team... just held on to dear hubby's hand as he whisked me into an elevator... to the 20th floor... to 'Souk', a wonderful middle-eastern restaurant that overlooks the Gateway of India and the bay behind. You can see the twinkling lights of Navi Mumbai in the distance and several boats. The decor was simple and you can call it middle-eastern. He had booked a lovely table by the window. (ummmmmmmm!)

We tried the quaintest dishes, this being my first experience with middle-eastern cuisine (although I’ve had Greek, Turkish , Lebanese and Ethiopian food before). I felt like Padma Lakshmi in 'Top Chef' commenting on each dish as we were served by the steward who explained the dishes with words like 'crudette' (which apparently means raw cut veggies!) and 'white yoghurt sauce with sesame seeds, tahini and a hint of lemon and parsley' (aye yum luvving eet!) We ordered 'Bamiya Makli' for starters (not to be sampled if you are watching your middle!) Its bhindi in the white sauce I just described. For the main course, the man ordered 'Batata Charp'... obviously a potato dish as you may have 'intelligently' guessed! It was layers of potato, spinach and aubergine, with some strange but yummy cheese, some white sauce and pomegranate seeds. Lovely, but heavy! I ordered a 'Vegetarian Tagine', a dish that has couscous as its base, with a tomato sauce and lots of veggies (incl delightful zucchini, sun dried tomtaoes and roma tomatoes). Finally, the dessert...he had 'B'stilla Au Lait' - a dish with egg, layers and cream in it. Don't remember much of the dish as I was in ninth heaven savouring my rose flavoured ice cream. I recommend my choice strongly. It had authentic rose petal pieces and the stewards pleased with my oohing and aahing earlier had given me an extra scoop.

Much as I groaned later at the bill (which I surreptitiously pulled out of the husband's wallet later to check) and the overdose of food (I pigged out completely), I was totally touched. We didn't discuss work or life or the future or finances or family... instead it was 'giggle' time again with silly jokes, wisecracks about world politics and lines like "your eyes are brown" (We burst out laughing at this one, after all we've been married for 3 years now). Still feeling moony about the lovely pre-anniversary dinner! I think couples should do this once every quarter....

Mr.Davies said and I quote his poem ‘Leisure’ partially -
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this is if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare
. “

Friday, May 09, 2008

Saas, Sister and other Sagas!

My mother-in-law has been here for the last couple of weeks (henceforth referred to as 'm-i-l' in true 'Woman's Era' ishtyle! "http://www.womansera.com"). My husband has a brother, so she is an m-i-l twice over. While my mom is my mom, “ she” treats us(certainly me) as a much loved niece at least (tough to use the word 'daughter'!)I wonder how clich├ęd the saas-bahu serials get in their depiction of the m-i-l, no better are the ones in the average Hindi and Tamil movies and Woman's Era type magazines and books. I am genuinely concerned about human adaptability to 'conditioning'. How easily is this cross section of society bad mouthed! I get pampered, sometimes rapped (but gently) and mostly loved and treated like an equal adult. Yes, there are times when am mad at her, or my husband (usually for taking her side unconditionally!) but usually the feelings are soothed by discussion, some adjustment (on my part) good food and presents for me :) While it is tough to replace the security and comfort of one's own mom, I believe it is necessary to work out at least a amicable relationship with one’s 'm-i-l'.... what is the point in strife, when we have just a few more years of life? (Did you notice the rhyme?!)

My sis is a madcap... she decided last Wednesday that she WANTED to see me... her poor husband doesn't have a choice, but to pander to her wishes (unfortunately that is how our family 'brought' her up!!)She also had an important meeting on Friday that she couldn't miss.. so she flew into Bombay from Chennai on Thursday morning and flew back on the same evening... by Jet Airways... on her own cost! But we had a blast! Lovefool :)

My mom is coming over next week to spend a few weeks with me..Summer holidays for her...yippeee! Good food and great company.

I dunno if any of you have this voyeuristic tendency to secretly watch a saas-bahu serial. I have one such secret... (one misdemeanour is maaf!) I watch this one soap called 'Banoo Mein Teri Dulhan' about 2 - 3 times a week. It used to be bad, it is now ROTTEN! What with the villain skipping a generation with nary a grey, or wrinkle! Should I bemoan the reincarnation or the hideous filmy song-n'-dance routines or the constant scenes centred around the dinner table?! Nahinnnnnnnn :)

Finally, I think poor Bhajji has had enough with his burst of temper... Amul said it best "Pow Bhajji.... Amul Butter: Slap it on"

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Womb with a View!

On a recent random surf, I came across this lovable character - Umbert. He is an 'unborn' baby talking to the world from his womb. He has tonnes of friends, each of them a stalwart personality. See some samples below, and google him.

Every mom-to-be that I know of who loves her cosmopolitan would feel reassured at this cartoon I guess!

Think of it, babies in the womb live in a space smaller than (and no, I don't want to hear 'ughs' for this) a prisoner in his cell. But it is probably the only no-stress period in their lives... and they get to eat all they want! No guilt :)

What say? Good fun, ain't it?!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Khuda ke Liye

After many 'sold-out' shows, we finally managed to watch the much hyped about 'Khuda ke Liye' a couple of evening ago. The storyline was interesting, (although reactions post 9/11 have been done to death in books and articles and movies) The music was certainly memorable, sufiesque and haunting. I also feel in love with the way the 'azaan' was sung by one of the lead characters.

Overall, the movie felt like an on-screen theatre drama(point in ref: In a court scene, women cry 'shame shame'!). The movie is not slickly packaged like a 'Chak De India', but thank Khuda for that, we don't have heroines running around trees or shaved torsos!

The actresses gave mediocre performances, especially the character of Mariam, she did not play the role of a Brit or a saddened and angry daughter the way a Nandita Das or Ayesha Dharkar could have played it.

My take? : It is certainly one of the better movies I have watched in the recent past(others being 'Race','4 months, 3 weeks, 2 days' and 'Shaurya'). Not necessarity a theatre movie, it can be a DVD watch. Beware if you do not speak good Hindi, there are severely Urdu portions in the movie.

: One of the characters talks about the majority of Pakistanis being able to read Arabic, but not understand it. Can someone explain why or how?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

"Wonly in Mumbai I say"

Some vignettes from my life in Mumbai (amusing in retrospect of course, never at that moment!)

My maid-in-waiting: She is one helluva confident person (all public speakers and esteem building courses should use her as a role model!) She can browbeat anyone into submission (incl the sometimes aggressive me!)even if she knows she is in the wrong! One fine morning last week, she wanted a salary raise. Now, I was surprised and refused immediately because it had only been 4 months since she had started working for me... then I wanted to "dig deeper" (as my B school profs had taught us) to arrive at the root cause of the issue.. so I asked her why she wanted a raise so soon in her 'career with me'... she answers "Oh! I have given my maid a raise, so I figured I deserve one!!" Maid employing maid? First time I've heard!Howzzat??

South-Western: I was at a hospital(not one of the biggies, a gujju stronghold hospital at Charni Road) a few days back for a medical test. I had to register a file in my name. This bored looking clerk asked for my "Name" and I replied "ABC" (FYI, my name starts with 'Sri'), then he wanted to know my surname. Now I am a 'southern Indian' and I don't have a surname. I gave my dad's name, which I continue to use as my 'sir'name! He then asked me, "are you married"?(Given that I was wearing no 'traditional' marks of marriage)I replied in the affirmative. Next was husband's name. I replied in full. Obviously it is different from my dad's. This chap was perplexed and laboriously wrote out my name on the file which finally reads Srimati "second half of my name" "Sri" "husband's name" "father's name" "husband's father's name". And he grins and remarks "I thought you were a Marathi person, you don't look Gujarati, but you turned out to be a Madrasi, what a strange world". Geez, I know am strange(sometimes), but to the world?!

Drive away: The driver that we are 'testing' now asked me where I wanted to go. I replied that I wanted to go to a couple of shops near Breach Candy hospital on Bhulabai Desai road. He shot past the turning then remarks "Madam, you did not remind me that I have to turn right here!!" Wow, an assistant to the driver?!

Rubbished: The garbage disposal lady came to me one day and said "Madam, you throw away a lot of useful things. You should'nt waste so much money". Naturally, I was taken aback and for a day, stewed over thoughts of my hard earned money being squandered away, berated my lack of sense of planning or saving and killed myself for being financially unsound. Obviously my husband also faced my 'cribbing'. The next day, I met the 'kacchrawali' again and asked her "Why she thought I was irresponsible" (root causes again!). So she said "you throw away milk packets after you use them, also cereal boxes and sometimes soiled newspapers and/or disposable cups after use. You should store them and sell them to a ragpicker!" When I retorted that "it was my rubbish after all, and she was free to pick these up and sell them if she wanted", she replied "But bhabhi, I don't have time"! My new worry.. do I look that jobless?

Funny people... how do they all find ME? :)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Rely on Reliance?

I have tried really hard not to crib, but today’s customer service call with Reliance really made me hot-headed and ready to cry (due to extreme frustration).

Read my story and you’ll know what I mean –

I work out of home (yes, I am a lucky b@$t@rd, I sleep most afternoons for an hour!). It means setting up a home office – basically a computer, a broad band connection and a land line telephone with STD and ISD enabled service. With the ‘vast’ choice of MTNL, VSNL and Reliance, I chose to go with Reliance. Before you wonder, my rationale was that, well, Anil and Mukesh have made millions out of their companies, obviously they must have loyal customers (not to mention that VSNL and MTNL never called back when I asked for these facilities!) So Reliance it was – their installation was admirable, within a day they had installed a modem and a phone line (Telephone calls are an important part of my business). They assured that the Internet services would be activated within 12 hours... and there begins my story of woes.

First the activation took 3 days, next, my broad band was Apple incompatible (I bought another laptop to solve the issue as Reliance refused to make their broadband services Apple friendly!) Then I got a bill for that month for Rs.29.7 and for Rs563.2, and I paid both without understanding which one was the right one. Several other billing issues followed, but I digress.

To cut a long story short, last month, I had to shift my phone line from one corner of the room to the other (as part of my redoing my room!) The Reliance guys were most cooperative, and did it in a day and said I would be charged 500 bucks for it. When I offered to pay it immediately, they said it would be reflected in my next bill and I should pay then. However, I paid my regular monthly bill for February within a couple of days of receiving it. (That is another story, how they send the bill and constantly harangue you as to when you would pay the bill, as if one would run away without paying it off!)

So yesterday, at 5.00 p.m., I couldn’t dial any STD number or ISD number. I called Reliance customer care to complain. Some nincompoop called Sanjay put me on hold for 3 minutes at a stretch to answer each of my 3 questions and then finally told me that I hadn’t paid my bill. I was close to losing my temper then and gave him details of my cheque payment. Again after 3 minutes of waiting he goes, “I am sorry, the system doesn’t reflect it. I have made the requisite changes and within 24 hours you would get your services back, but we shall do it ‘for you’ in a few hours maximum”.

So, still irritated, I held off until this morn when I realized nothing had happed ‘for me’. I called up R Care again to be greeted by silly Vijay who had the audacity to say that my STD/ISD wouldn’t be activated until I had paid the 500 bucks for the transfer of phone line. I completely lost it then, I yelled and raved and ranted at him and asked him to transfer me to his manager, who came on line after the exasperating reliance tune playing for 10 whole minutes. The manager said that I had paid the bill amount, but that wasn’t enough and that I had to pay the extra 500 bucks. I yelled at him too and said it was unfair, I hadn’t received a bill for the same, I wasn’t informed of it yesterday, when I could’ve dropped off the cheque last evening, (Reliance refused to send a person to collect the amount from home, when I suggested that) and that I had an important con call this evening at 5.00 p.m. (it is at 6.00 actually, and is REALLY important!) He then said ‘as a special case’ he would ensure that my phone line is reactivated by 5.00 this evening... and still didn’t seem to get what was wrong with his logic and acted AS IF he were doing a service to me. I hung up after adding that ‘I trusted him’ and I should’ve gone with an alternative service provider.

My backup? Trustworthy MTNL!!

I am still fuming over this lack of logic, insensitivity in dealing with a customer, inability to empathise with the customer’s problems, absurd billing system, incorrect English spoken by the customer representatives and finally, the need to ask for my address 20 times in a call that lasted 40 minutes.

Bah! Relying on Reliance is OUT.

Ps: Feeing better after the rant session... have you had any similar experiences?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008



More than the other side of Rainbow, I have been trying to catch up on life, doc appointments, work, family, holidays and home renovations in the last few weeks. We are trying to create more storage space in the house and for those who know the pigeon holes that pass off as houses in Mumbai, know how tough it is to create that space. And of course managing the carpenters and the dust factor. Sigh!

Despite all this work, there is a lot of excitement in life....I had a miraculous escape from certain death or (even worse)some kind of head injury a few days ago.. I usually sit on the floor with my back to the wall and my laptop perched on a one-foot high 3-legged plastic stool on one side of a room. On Monday, we got a computer shelf made and I moved to sitting on a chair and working on this table in the opposite corner of the same room. On Wednesday evening, I was working furiously to finish some work when I heard a loud crashing noise... I turned back to see that a 5 feet long Italian marble slab(weighing about 8 kgs) that lines the top portion of our window sill had broken into two large and several small pieces and had rained down on the EXACT same spot where I usually sit. I was truly shaken for once in life.

Yesterday, I caught a cold... I went to the kitchen to boil some tea... Just a split second before I lit the gas, I decided against tea and turned away, only to smell something strange. So I opened the garbage cupboard under the sink, inspected the washing machine area, behind the fridge etc. to realize that the gas had been inadvertently left turned on by the maid when she was cleaning it. Gas must've poured into the room for at least 20 minutes. A split second away from another accident.

Call me superstitious or something, but for once I have this desire to go to a temple and thank the Big Man smoking his pipe UP there!

Moving on, given that I have been tagged (saved from thinking about content for another post!), I re-read several of my earlier posts to fill in the blanks. Hey, I do write well sometimes (note 'sometimes'..ain't I modest?!)

The tag reads "Post 5 links to 5 of your previously written posts. The posts have to relate to the 5 keywords given (family, friends, yourself, your love, and anything you like). Tag 5 other friends to do the same. Try to tag at least 2 new acquaintances (if not, your current blog buddies will do) so that you get to know them each a little bit better. Don't forget to read the linked posts and leave comments!"

Family: One post with memories of childhood. Otherwise, several references.

Friends: CP's surprise b'day party and my Bangalore visit.

Yourself: In almost all posts! Most posts seem to be incidents, rather than emotions. My list of favourites.

Your Love: I don't seem to have written anything about my husband, except references here and there. Perhaps, his happy b'day wish?

Anything you Like: I have written extensively about one great love of mine - travel. The entire Leh series, Goa and my recent office tour. Also, about some movies(TZP, Cheeni Kum) and some books.

It was tough going through this listing, but am happy I did it! I tag these people to do it - Nutty, Y not, In Between, and ITW.

Have fun!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Vignettes from my long trip

Phew! am back to some semblance of normalcy again. From end of Jan to the 3rd week of Feb, I was on a roller-coaster whistle-stop tour across 5 cities in 20 days with my boss and her boss. Some memorable experiences from the trip include meeting a flower seller in Hubli, a jewellery shop in Chennai and an opulent farm house in Gurgaon.


It was a wonderful experience travelling to North Karnataka. Hubli as a city is probably not the best of touristy destinations, but the work some NGOs do there is touching and deeply impactful. We met this old lady at a microfinance organization who had lost her husband, her two sons and her son-in-law in a freak accident and had 3 daughters, 2 daughters-in-law and 7 grandchildren to support.... at the young age of 65! Amazingly she decided that there was nothing to be done by crying her heart out every day; she just rolled up her sari and got to work. She borrowed money from this microfinance institution (supported by HSBC incidentally... yippee!) and started a flower vendor shop. She did so well that she now has 5 flower shops, 2 vegetable and fruit shops and a tea stall. A business empire in her community! All in 3 years. And she has repaid her loan. She now takes lessons in the microfinance classes for women on 'how to spot a business opportunity, to have a business plan ready, to have well negotiated contracts with suppliers, how to treat colleagues and employees and how to invest to make enough money for personal and business expansion purposes'. I was tempted to learn Kannada just to attend these classes!


My boss's boss freaked out in Thangamaligai in Chennai(a large format gold shop.) It claims to stock gold for every pocket. The shop is a large 3 storied building just for gold accessories. He spent several thousand dollars in 4 hours flat marvelling at the make, the gold designs and the pure numbers that thronged the shop. His wife is one lucky lady I must say! He couldn't believe the number of gold shops in Chennai, not to mention silk sari shops and the perineal crowds that he found there. He refused to accept that there was any need in the city for an NGO! I had a tough task convincing him.


In Kolkata, we met several local community leaders. Cal as you know is famous for Indian Chinese. It is also famous for its laid back attitude, hospitality and the love of its people for good food. Each person that we met (usually over a brief meeting that naturally extended into a lunch or a dinner) took us to an Indian Chinese restaurant, 4 days continuously, for every meal. We ODed on Indian Chinese man. The best way to offend me now is to offer Indian Chinese for any meal! Never thought that the greasy Jet Airways parathas would be manna after so much hakka noodles and three treasure vegetable!


In cal we also had the opportunity to meet with Kiran Bedi. She IS a lady of courage, passion and conviction and an inspiring speaker. She sort of impressed upon me that it is 'best to be prepared' for anything one does. Sigh! If only I could implement that.


And finally in Delhi, we had dinner at this magnificient farm house at Gurgaon. Never knew of a person who owned a stretch limo in India, let alone with a house that had a dog kennel (with its own kitchen and dining area) the size of my house! A lawn the size of a football field, a marble floored house with a dining table that could seat 26 people and a Japanese loo that had a control panel that one could use to direct warm water or air sprays, lift or lower the seat or even flush! I must say that such opulence left me speechless (for those who know me, it IS a tough feat!)


Just settling into the normalcy of life in Mumbai, fighting my cook and maid and the istri-wala and catching up on news from friends. I have always wanted to travel constantly, be a jet-setting corporate executive type and none of the earlier roles I was in afforded much travel. I realise now, after this trip that no matter what, the joys of a five star hotel is never enough to compensate for fighting over an extra helping of dessert with my husband. In fact, I did not feel like dessert most days during the trip. (wiping my eyes! I missed home)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

'Mi'Lady Luck?

Be warned that this is a bit of a complaining post.

A friend of mine called me a few days back to heave a sigh of relief that life was sunshiney and 'luck had turned around again'.. she said she was happy to have broken up with her now ex and that he caused all the bad luck in the last couple of years in her life.

The American world seems to believe that starlet Jessica Simpson's presence at the divisional playoffs between NY Giants and Dallas Cowboys caused the latter to lose.

Several villainous grandmoms and some fathers in Hindi(and Tamil) movies(esp ref: Karuthamma) call the the daughter of the house, the harbinger of 'bad' luck.

Is it true? Can a person truly influence the 'luck' in another's life? What is luck after all? The planets conspiring to make things happen in a fashion that you desire, sometimes dream of. How is that caused by the presence of a person, many times a loved one in your life?

The reason am wondering about it is because I have been told several times(in the past) that some of the bad career decisions I made in life were not because of my (huge) judgemental errors but the presence of a certain person or other in my life.

Do you believe that a friend could cause things to go wrong in your life?

Am upset by this allegation.

I need to know.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

This, that and Happy B'day!

First, this media hoopla on the racism slur. For the benefit of those who did not watch Times Now this morning, the entire piece of reporting on the Australia-India cricket tour was accompanied by moving images and Bollywood music... so first we started off with ‘Chak De India’ (winning the last test series in India) followed by a 'Chale Chalo' from Lagaan with the Aussies looking angry and aggressive (like they usually appreciably do and then the Hindi version of 'Tamizha Tamizha' (from 'Roja') with Harbhajan and Sachin looking mystified and upset! Let me not even talk about 'Mumbai Mirror' or Sun TV which have both gone bonkers over the tour progress.

My tuppence: Hey team, "you" are our nation's pride, we love you whether you win or lose. So 'Media Channels' STOP please! Am more upset at zero NFL coverage when the Divisional playoffs have started. Sigh!

I read this really lovely book called 'The Places In Between' by Rory Stewart. The author walked from Herat to Kabul in Afganistan in 2002 and this book is a lovely account of the walk. Not just because it combines my favourite elements of cultural insights and a mission impossible achieved, but also because it combines bits of history(Babur's walk through the same places) and has a human, nay, canine angle (the humane story of a dog. Very quietly, there is an objective presentation of political undertones and the wonderful work done by Aid agencies.

My Verdict: A must read, especially if you loved 'The Kite Runner' and Afganistan or books by Pico Iyer or 'A Long Way Gone' by Ishmael Beah.

The best for the last - "Happy Birthday Husband" Hope this year rocks for you in every way and I hope you like the surprise I have for you. (The surprise is private, but I also got him a 80 GB iPod so that he doesn't keep changing the playlists on mine! How romantic, right?!)

Happy New Year to all of you.. Hope you ushered it in safely and hope this year proves to be a wonderful memorable year for you!