Friday, May 10, 2013

Day 11: Smile

Ooo danger party hai! Hardly a smile worth returning, eh?! I remember feeling scared of this shark even on the other side of the glass. It also seemed to me (my overactive imagination of course!) that the shark was repeatedly coming back to smile at me. I also remember thinking had the shark learnt to brush its teeth, it would take forever to shine its pearly whites. 

Thinking now of Bruce, the friendly shark in 'Finding Nemo'.
"I am a nice shark. Not a mindless eatin' machine. If I am to change this image, I must first change myself. Fish are friends. Not food."

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Days (7,8 & 10), 9: (F, Shape, Stars), Snack

Guest Post by Button (4 years old) 

Fan, Semi-Circles and Stars: Appa bought a new thing called iPad for amma last year. A week after he had gifted it to her, she still did not use it saying she was busy with the new baby. She was so busy looking after the baby, she did not hear the iPad cry for some attention. I decided to help her and took some pictures, actually many pictures. Amma often says the world has to learn not to be afraid from children. Amma's friend said the same of my pics - he said Button takes such wonderful shots, you should buy a camera for him. I wish amma listened to him. 

Snack: Now amma doesn't always listen to me. I said I wanted snacks for my friends on my last b'day. What do you give 4 year old kids? Let ME answer. Some popcorn, a cupcake, chips and maybe cucumber slices. Now look at the pic to see what amma put on the plate? NOT GOOD! All mothers should listen to the kids. How will mothers grow up otherwise? :) 

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

A Virgin at the Gym!

I have always been a tad more 'prosperous' than is the norm. Usually no more than 10% of the standard weight for my height, say 4 - 5 kgs overweight at best. Once I had my son, things steadily started going downhill. I began to steadily buy a larger pair of jeans every 6 months. I did not stop to think the effect of eating on my body. A short while after delivering Button (the older one), I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. I used it as a crutch to continue piling on the pounds. Nary a thought about jeans size (you DO get really large sized jeans provided you know where to look). In 2010, I moved from Bombay to Chennai. In Chennai, the pressure to lose weight is even lower, many pretty and plump maamis in town! I did drop a few kilos, mostly by sweating them out, thanks to the Sun God. After my second one, Twinkle, was born,I was 25 kgs more than my prescribed weight.

Two things subsequently happened - I wanted to be healthy for my daughter. I remember the taunts and jibes that I listened to as I grew up (and certainly do not want that for my daughter). Secondly, I found this lovely red top that I have (3 sizes smaller) that I LOVED wearing and had somehow forgotten about. So began my quest for fitness. I am not aspiring to be a svelte modelesque size 0, but I do want to be healthier and back to less than 10% over my standard body weight. I ate healthy and was back to pre-pregnancy weight in just 3 months.

Now I am working on the first pregnancy's weight gain. I have at least 15 more kilos to drop. Long way to go, but I try to do a mix of 80-20 (Aerobics:Weight training) at least 3 times a week. The whole of April, I devoted my gym time to blogging. Yes, the A-Z challenge. It was a challenge I was determined to complete, and between childcare and looking after my parents (who had health challenges in April) and completing my story-telling course, I let my fitness routine slip. Like Barney Stinson would say "Big Mistake".

And then, like he says , because I was sad, I became awesome! This May, I am working on a 26 days of gymming (my personal challenge for the month). Okay, I know 'gymming' is an Indian English word, cut me some slack okay?! I am blogging about this because public announcements always helps me stay committed.

So here's what happened this morning at the gym. I was cycling and listening to Madonna. And without realizing it, I started singing LOUDLY! Which song? "Touched for the very first time, like a viiirrrrgin". Yes, I got "THE LOOK" quite a bit, but made a couple of friends too. :) 

Monday, May 06, 2013

Day 6: Broken

Remember Shrek? The lovable adorable Ogre, who showed us beauty ONLY lies within. Well, I am re-discovering him, thanks to Button. Button too talks nineteen to the dozen these days, just like the Talking Donkey. The Donkey apparently talks to Button too (did I mention he loves role-playing?) So one evening I came back to find that the donkey had talked his head off! 

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Day 5: Paper

Most people I know keep an emergency stash of cash. Emergencies could range from medical exigencies to impulse purchases to ATM malfunctions to unexpected bills. Well, I am one of the few who never kept a stash like that. I was in labor (second kid), the contractions were fast and furious and the husband and I realized we had NO cash in hand! We had to scramble around to pay Rs.8/- to the parking attendant. Luckily Apollo, Chennai has an ATM on the premises

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Day 4: In my cup

"The taste that gets you started up, the taste that gets you going on...Nescafe! Pa ra rap pap pap"
Remember the jingle, with that pretty girl doing a dance?

True Fact: Tam brahms are sometimes ridiculed when they ask for Nescafe (Ca pronounced to rhyme with ray, and fe pronounced like you would in kni'fe'). How do I know? Well, I am one of them. I cannot stand filter coffee being murdered. So if my mom doesn't make my filter coffee, I'd rather drink instant coffee :)

ps: Which pic do you prefer?

Friday, May 03, 2013

Day 3: This is really good!

When you drive to or from Leh, you can't help notice the funny signs by the BRO. This one had us debating for long on what it means. 6 years later, we still don't have any answers. Any suggestions? 

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Madness in May! (Days 1, 2)

As if blogging away in April was not enough, I am mad enough to accept a new challenge in May, this time a photo challenge. I fancy myself as having an eye for photographs, although I am yet to invest in a good camera or develop my skills professionally. Anyway, I jump in, with eyes wide open, hands ready on the 'click' button and a heart full of hope! 

The challenge: To post a pic each day as per the topic list below: 

Day 1: I Bought This: I missed the first day. C'mon, it was May Day yesterday, labor holiday :) That didn't stop me from shoppign though. We bought these lovely red crocs for Button. 

Day 2: Morning Ritual: No morning goes by without cuddling up Button. He is the older one, he is going to turn 5 soon, he is already all angles and planes and soon he'll be telling me off. I cherish these hugs and early morning kisses not only because I know they are numbered, but also because there is something fantastic about a warm and cuddly child, full of sleep, yet filled with brightness and joy about the day to come. 

A-Z: Reflections Post: What I learnt in April'13

The A-Z blog challenge was SUPER-INTENSIVE. A blog post EVERY day of the week,with a blessed break on Sunday. As is wont my personality, I took it up on a lark. After all what would life be without whims! It changed me a bit. It changed my daily schedule quite a bit. But what it changed most of all, is my outlook towards writing.

Before I 'reflect' on the challenge, a shout-out to lovely Corinne Rodrigues. She was the leader of our FB group created for the A-Z challenge. She is a good example of a great leader - mostly cajoling, definitely monitoring, sometimes scolding, but clearly loving. I enjoyed not just reading her blog, but also the way she managed the group. Almost every person in the group is in love with her and her sunny personality. May your tribe grow Corinne!

So here are a few things I learnt during this challenge:

1. Being Organized: I thought I led a fairly organized life, but this challenge woke me up to reality! No, I am not as organized as I used to be. 'Being organized' is a term I use in 2 ways - being organized in terms of time (some people were fantastic about posting at midnight - Afshan, Suzy, Priya Sreeram to name a few), other super-organized in terms of their content - Notably Cynthia, Bhavya NK, Laxmi.  Either a story, or a mommy special, or travel special. I started with planning a travel series, but since I didn't plan, I got stuck at several instances and moved to a miscellaneous month instead.

2. Blog Revamp: My blog was started in 2006. I have written over 150 posts. But as far as the look & feel of the blog is concerned, except for occasional photo changes or layout changes, nothing has significantly changed about my blog. I intend remedying it. In fact, one of the key annual goals for myself is to revamp my blog. Learn (currently geeky sounding words like) feeds, traffic, burner, bloglovin and other such!

3. Size of the posts: Given that this challenge involves posting EVERY single day, I wish I had set out some guidelines about the size of the posts. I sometimes had long posts, sometimes short ones. Some posts were hastily written, with disregard for (gulp!) grammar, spelling mistakes or style. This needs to change.

4. Reading / Comments: Ideally I wanted to comment more. Visit at least 3 non-Indian blogs EVERY DAY. I managed on an average 1 every 4 days. But with sick parents, an infant AND a naughty young boy at home, I think I did good on this count. I did comment on most blogs on the FB closed group almost every day.

So will I do this next year? 

Too soon to predict. The format has a certain 'suspense' element to it. A feeling of driving to a thrilling finish line that appealed to my adrenaline glands more than my rational brain! Next year, if I plan, I shall execute. Half the battle is the planner. Like I always say, never say never!

Special Mention

My top 5 reads (in no order of priority) are - Roshni (for being witty and self-deprecating about her parenting adventures), Corinne (for writing clearly & precisely, for having wonderful co-writers in Jose and Pablo, and finally for having a blog that is so easy to navigate, clearly a work of love), Monika (well, for being Monika! For clicking pictures that are SO FULL of life, just like her), Vinita (at Blogwatig, for being 1 part irreverent, one part serious, one part fun and one part witty, a great package!) and Kajal (for being a lovely writer, covering myriad topics). 

Monday, April 29, 2013


"What begins with Z?
I do. 
I am a Zizzer-Zazzer-Zuzz, as you can plainly see"
 - Dr.Seuss in A B C

Dr.Seuss at his magical best again. What indeed is a Zizzer-Zazzer-Zuzz? It is a nonsensical creature, scary if you want it to be, harmless if you want it to be or an angel if you'd like it that way. All of us live some part of our lives in fantasy and how better to instill that imagination, but at childhood? Creativity helps us deal with life's realities. A little imagination helps us escape horrible truths. A little embellishing makes any story more vibrant. A little thinking out-of-the-box gets us multiple awards at office. 

So how do you get the brain cells to conjure up the Zizzer-Zazzer-Zuzzs of your chosen field? By practice, by observation and by spending time and effort on it. Much like this blogging endeavor. The most creative of pursuits actually have the most arcane of necessities - practice. Sometimes the creative cells may have taken off to visit their relatives in Planet Krypton or may fight a bloody civil war with your fingers struggling to keep pace... either way, just "Z"ealously committing to the project is half the battle won. 

You're off to Great Places! 
Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So... get on your way!

 - Dr.Seuss again.

Commit to your life. 
Commit to your dreams. 
Observe the effect of your words. 
Observe the people around you. 
Travel with your eyes, ears (and mouth!) wide open. 

"I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it`s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life`s realities."
- Dr.Seuss

Yaks galore.

The yaks are also sisters I guess, yakking away :) I was really stunned when my tethered yak moved forward. This pic was clicked off Manali, a mere 5 seconds before the yak charged forward. I have never sat on a yak after that.

Another memory yaks bring is of course the thick creamy yak milk I had at Leh, in a small little home (in Diskit), in 2007. The yak milk is like drinking full-fat milk, with the fat 5 times over. I could barely have a thimbleful.

When I visited Shillong, over a decade ago, I had the opportunity to sample a sweet that an old lady gave me in a tiny little tea shop, on the highway from Guwahati to Shillong. It was raining and I was shivering. She gave me a little sweet (looked like a barfi) and asked me to keep chewing it. She said if you chew it out completely, you'll feel totally warm, but you cannot stop chewing. So I chewed and chewed and chewed...and chewed.... and chewed. The sweet refused to melt or break down into pieces. It stopped raining and I stopped feeling cold. After a while, my gums threatened to fall off in protest, so I just kept sucking it.

On the way back, I stopped at the same lady's shop and asked her what it was. The wizened old woman said "Its not the sweet, but the philosophy. When you are cold, when you are sad, if you focus on the activity at hand, you will not feel the pain. We make this specially for our kids and old during winter. Its nothing but solidified yak's milk". I was stumped. Philosophy so true, offered so practically, a nugget that I treasure in my head to remind me that I should do my duty always. Bhagawad Gita in a nutshell, eh?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Wonder of Xmas in Disneyland

I missed my W post. I almost missed my X post too, thanks to the internet cable being relaid around the building. I was actually wishing for a fairy Godmother to help me complete these 2 letters and hey presto! It was magic :) Who more to exemplify magic and joy and presents than Santa. So that being the train of thought, I almost started blogging about the annual ritual of buying and installing our X mas tree. Then I remembered a Christmas that still holds special memories. The one we spent at Disneyland.

Disneyland is a magical place. Its as much for adults who are basically big children as it is for children who are small adults! On X mas it becomes EVEN more magical (yes!). We were treated to a special parade. The fireworks were extra special too.

A word for those who are yet to visit Disneyland. The rides et al are nice, no doubt, some thrilling, some fun, some experiential. But the area to NOT miss is the one for small children - the ToonTown. Its amazing how Mickey and Gang come to life. The tea parties and little houses and small chairs and the costumes and colors... just takes you back to childhood and almost makes you a believer! My husband had to literally drag me outta there.

The year we went, Santa was Australian! Hence the summery shirt. Of course I sat on his lap and walked away with a lolly, whaddya think?

Here's to the goodness of spirit. On a serious note, I do hope the innocence of childhood prevails, given the spate of rapes and child crimes in our country (and some others around the world).

Thursday, April 25, 2013

VIBGYOR: Color me happy!

I wanted to do a real post with opinions or thoughts, but for some reason the acronym VIBGYOR kept coming to me. So I woke up this morning, actually unscheduled my earlier post on "Vulnerability" and began writing on VIBGYOR. Now being mommy to a really young infant (with night wake ups et al), I do remember thinking VIBGYOR, but can't recollect a word of the (hopefully interesting) post that I composed in my head. With colors, what better than "V"isuals? So here goes a photo post again :) 

VIOLET: I've loved the gorgeousness of this color always. This pic was taken when I was in Class VI, in a dress that I fought with my mom to buy. To put it mildly, it blinds ones eyes. Thank God it didn't have bling too! 

But I remember how my mom told me when I bought it "Kannamma, this dress is your choice. You REALLY wanted it. Now wear it with pride, confidence and the love it deserves. You'll look beautiful in it. And if someone says the dress is not nice, just smile at them and bounce even more, the dress does look great!"

INDIGO: Indigo is an interesting color. Halfway between violet and blue, it is often the misunderstood, misrepresented middle child :) Now Indigo always brings to my mind the story of 'The Blue Jackal'. And the airline of course. But I had never seen the color ever manifesting in the sky or sea.... I used to wonder whether it really existed or it was just a scientific term for a color that had different wavelength. 

My doubts were put to rest by the mighty Pangong Tso at Ladakh. I highly recommend a visit for words defy the range of colors that you witness there. You can read my earlier account of the lake here

BLUE: Blue brings to mind all kinds of things - from blue skies to blue seas to blueberries to kingfishers, but the blue that I always think of is the bright striking blue on superman's dress :) Yes, you read that right. The first TV in my house was purchased in 1988, when I was already 8 years old. I remember one of the first cartoons I watched was an animated 'Superman' who saved everyone and everything, including cats and violins. The blue on his dress always represented adventure and courage to me! 

Why will Mini-me like anything else? 

GREEN:  The first thought on waking up in Scotland was that it was just SO GREEN.  Meadows stretching to as far as the eye could see, in a lovely medley of multiple greens. The little white dandelions doing their merry jig. The gentle roll of the hills. The weak blue skies that threatened to mist over and cry. Just picture perfect. Beautiful. 

YELLOW: Yellow, yellow, dirty fellow! Remember the ditty? I LOVE the color. It is the most gorgeous color in the spectrum. Happy, smiling, sunshiney! Yellow be the bright flowers on the roadside everywhere. The 'sarson ka khet' song ('Tujhe Dekha to') in DDLJ, where Kajol comes running to meet SRK? I was focusing on the field, not the couple :) Apparently the reason we love yellow is that it is the nearest color to skin tone (not pink, as that Fair and Lovely ad repeatedly drones on). 

ORANGE:  Orange apart from being a fruit and associated with Mirindaah!, always reminds me of the Bryce Canyon hoodoos. I already did a post on the Grand Canyon, so I am not going there again. Did you know that there is no English word that rhymes with Orange? (trivia for you!) 

RED: Red as the rose, red as blood, red as the sun, but red is autumn! The 'fall' colors of autumn is a sight to behold. I used to wonder as a child how the impressionist artists always thought of painting leaves red, simply because in South India, there is no 'fall'. And then one beautiful September in MA, it all fell into place. Entire mountainsides awash in oranges, burnt sienna, bright vermilion, carmine red... just beautiful. Red is my favorite color in the VIBGYOR spectrum. To me it represents the simplicity of childhood, the boldness of spirit and the beauty of independence. 

Here's wishing you 'saat rang ke sapne' in your lives :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Ugly. Ugly. Ugly.

Ugly. Ugly. Ugly.

"No one wants to marry you. You are so ugly". The words of her dad kept ringing in her ears.

She looked in the mirror. She saw her fat body. Her round large face. Her thin hair. Her small eyes. Her large nose. Her thick lips. Her excuse of a neck.

She thought of her late mother.
A lone tear crept down her cheek.

The next morning, she was at school. Hellen Keller School for Visually Disabled Girls. Commonly called HK Blind School.

At school, she began her lessons with a song. A song that carried to the heavens. A voice that thrilled the nightingales. Her students sang with her. Happily.

She began telling them a story. Of a Prince who lived far away. A magician who spread his magic around the world to make people happy. Of Princesses who were braver than warriors. Of Warriors who sang sweeter than birds. Of Birds who were prettier than flowers. Of Flowers who were happy and made everyone happy. She described the flowers - their colors, their fragrance, their beauty. She told them that only one thing was more beautiful than these flowers - their mothers. She asked them to buy a flower for their mamma that day and give them a hug.

Lessons over, she came back home.

Her dad welcomed her with "4 boys have rejected you again. You are ugly. You are merely a teacher, not even a doctor or engineer, so boys will marry you for your job."

She walked to the bathroom to change. The windows, the door, the mirror all screamed in welcome to her - Ugly, Ugly, Ugly.

She thought of her late mother and steeled herself.

The sun rose the next morn. Wearing her fave pink kurti, the one she thought made her look sweet and happy, she left for school. She had dressed with care. She always did, especially when she was down and out.

She reached school and was greeted by one of her shy students - Mallika. The girl said "Ma'am, my father wants to meet you. Can I bring him?"

Her dad stepped forward.

Mallika said "Ma'am, I want to give you this flower, you are the most beautiful woman ever." She walked away.

Her dad said "I can see why Malli has been talking of you day and night. You ARE indeed beautiful. My wife passed away 3 years ago, a few months after Malli's birth. Malli was withdrawn until she joined this school. After joining this school, she has only been able to talk of her beautiful teacher who sings like a nightingale, who looks like an angel. I now know why she said that, you are an angel in every way, beautiful in AND out. Please don't mistake  me, do you think we can meet for coffee after school?".

She agreed. They met for coffee. The rest as they say is history.

She married him a few months later. Was whisked away in a Merc. You see, Mallika's dad owned the country's largest vineyard AND largest shipping company.

He reminded her how lucky he was EVERYDAY and said "you are beautiful" everytime they spoke.

The day she left her home, her dad said "you are so lucky. How did he agree to marry an ugly woman I wonder?"

She walked into her bathroom. "Hello old friend, You look SO BEAUTIFUL", the mirror said to her. She only saw her beautiful luminous eyes, shining with hope for the future. Her face, round as the moon, her hair in a stylish new cut, her nose adorned with a pretty silver ring, her body encased in well-cut clothes, her smile lighting up the entire universe - a woman in love.

She thought of her late mother.
A lone tear crept down her cheek.

Ugliness is never skin deep. The ones who are truly ugly, are the ones with a black heart.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Twirls and Twists

In 2005 - 06, I lived in Bangalore. I was single then, and it was that stage of my life when I could easily try new things without having to worry about babysitters or cook or parents et al. I was working in a Bank, and a colleague mentioned to me that she was going to a certain club for a Tango night and asked me if I was interested. I accompanied her because a) It was Wednesday and I had nothing better to do. b) I was curious to see what a Tango night is. Turns out it was a 'happening' thing in Bangalore. Lots of teachers and students showing off their dance moves. I felt like I had stepped into a scene in 'Dirty Dancing'. I loved the partner dances and I decided on a whim that I was going to learn some.

The very next day after many inquiries I singled upon a dance studio midway between office and home, and began learning in earnest every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. It was lovely learning the basics of jive, feeling se#y with salsa moves and laughing giddily at the speed of rock and roll. The class was made up of a bunch of enthusiastic youngters, some in college, some working at their first or second jobs. The husband of our teacher was also in our batch, learning to groove. 

I had learnt 'Bharatnatyam' for over 16 years. Learning a classical Indian dance form would give me an edge I thought. I was in for a surprise. Jiving or dancing the salsa is not about the rhythm, but about the connection between the partners. It is just as important to have a good 'follower' as it is to have a strong 'leader'. The classes did not insist on a 'partner' and we had a round robin of partners if we chose to dance with a man, or we could opt to dance with a few advanced salsa 'women' dancers. The next few classes were superb and I learnt to groove to the beat. We used to go out as a class to Salsa nights around the city and dance up a frenzy with our choreographed steps, especially to songs we already used in our classes. 

Many many years later, in a nightclub in Goa, after a few heady glasses of Goan port wine, I kicked up a storm in my dancing shoes, to live music. Dancing does remain very close to my heart and I do hope that my husband reads this post and decides to take up classes with me :) If you haven't danced, I urge to try now. Doesn't matter if you have 2 left feet, nor does it matter if you can't stay to the rhythm. Its about really feeling the music, grooving to the beats and letting yourself go. Its about reaching out to the joy that's waiting in the Universe to be experienced. If you haven't tried jiving/dancing/just jiggling away in the bathroom, its time now... to twirl and twist! You do feel like you are dancing IN the stars!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Sights, Sounds & Smells of Smiles!

I find myself at S and yet not a single post to thank the things the bring the most important of all acts in my life - "Smile"! So here are some sights and sounds that make me smile or sigh! Thank you, Big One in the Sky! 

Sunrise at Prabhadevi, view from my window
Sight of the Sunrise: Grateful for the lovely sunrise every morning, that reminds me that although the blackness and sorrows in our lives can never go away, there is always sunrise in the morning, and sunshine in our lives.

Surprised at midnight, on my 25th b'day
Sound of "Surprise, Surprise": Grateful for the sight, sound and smell of surprises that remind me that friends are always out there for you, watching your back, skipping ahead with you!

Asleep at last!
The sound of silence! Any mom would know what this blessed sleep means, and how easily it can be broken by the doorbell, neighborhood crow, neighbor's prayers or even the flush.

Song of the Spring
Song of the Spring or Song of Sorrow?This pic was taken at Gulmarg, Kashmir. It reminds me always how the loveliest of places can be marred by the most violent acts of life. It was at this very spot, 30 tourists were bombed a month before I visited it.

The Sight of Shadows: I see this pic as a metaphor for life itself. With valleys and peaks, bright mountainside and shadowed plains. The sky smiles on as always, giving the same blessings to all. One day you are here, the other day there, but the sun smiles at you always. 

Sight of Serenity: When the plane was touching down in Leh, I could see the entire plains being bathed in Sunlight. It looked serene, divine and I thanked the stars that if was finally meant to be, for me!

Marching together
Sight of Solidarity: Two people can come from different walks of life, different places in the world, but a sense of compassion, love and solidarity will see them walk together, hand-in-hand for the rest of their lives. Happily.

Sweet Delight
Sight of Sweetness: Half the joy of a festival is in the food! Easter eggs, especially chocolate ones always reminds me of gratitude, of thankfulness that the Good God decided to put chocolate and joy in this world for me (and you!). 

Sumptuous Spread
Smell of Sweat & Toil: After a hard (and early) day at work in the kitchen on an auspicious occasion, the smell of your yummy (and sweaty) efforts at kitchen wafting up your nose before the ritual offering is always a sure way to light up my face with a smile.

Prettiest Sunflower in the world!
Smell of Sunshine: Yes, you don't smell rain alone, you can smell the sun too (anybody who has lived in Bombay will assert to that!) This pic was taken in Ladakh. After days of cold weather, hail and snowstorms, one afternoon I was sipping tea outside a monastery when the Sun God decided to join me for a cuppa!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Rage or Rape?

She flew at him trying to hit him with her puny limbs.

He ducked but came at her.

She tried to move out of his line of vision.

He only changed position and eyed her again, grinning all the time.

She was small.

He was big, oh so big.

She tried to bite him, try to attack him from behind.

He laughed evilly and muttered "I WILL get you, I won't let you escape so easily".

She was mighty scared, her heart was pounding oh-so-loudly.

His blood rushed to his head, he was working himself up to get her.

She looked for ways to escape, couldn't spot any.

He swooped in then, clapping his hands in glee, he was brutal in his attack.

She pleaded for help, screamed, kicked and fought.

But he went at her again and again, didn't stop till he drew blood, till she died.

He then brushed his hands on his pants, and called out to his wife, "Will you please light the mosquito coil earlier? I have to kill a dozen mosquitoes each night!"

Did I hear you heave a sigh of relief that it was about rage?! What did you think it was about? Yes, RAGE could've very well been RAPE, right? Read this article yesterday about the 5 year old girl battling for life at New Delhi and my heart sank. Educate your child to speak out, be careful and learn self-defence. CSA is more prevalent than you think. Prevent it. Please.

* And as for that mosquito? I am sure she went to heaven  for not harming anyone :)

ETA: The idea behind this post is not to trivialize rape, but to show the demonic side of the 'man' who wants to show his 'power' over the innocent victim. Yes, rape victims are ALWAYS innocent, nothing ought to move the man to commit the heinous crime of rape, not the sight of legs, eyes or breasts, not a burqua, a bikini or bodysuit. Its a satire, got that Ms.M? Thank you for your email nonetheless! 

Quartet of Mischief!

My 3 cousins and I (that's me in the right corner, the youngest) used to be up to all kinds of mischief in our summers. Stealing mangoes from the kitchen, waving away the crows from the 'vadaams' (sabudaana paapads) that our grandmom would spread out to dry (but eating them ourselves and blaming crows for it!), eating 'nila choru' (dinner in the moonlight), wearing each others' clothes, bathing together and having a ball in general. 

Well, they are in different parts of the world now. Distance, commitments and adulthood separate us, but we'll always have our childhood memories! 

PS: We used to fancy ourselves as the Famous Five, with my pet goat filling in for Timothy! 

PPS: The 3 younger cousins (born after me) unfortunately never made it to the Quartet Clique! 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Packaging - How my teacher taught me to fight Prejudices

When I was in class XI, I had a fantastic English teacher, one who encouraged us to think, to question and to form opinions. It helped that we were 16 years old, young adults, on the threshold of embarking on our adult journeys. 

We used to have a newspaper discussion class every week. Mrs.R (the teacher) once brought an article to discuss -  about a mom rubbing her teenage daughter's face with chili powder which would apparently cause the 'blackness' to rub-off, revealing her white skin inside. She asked us what we thought of the article. 

A girl said "Yes, its important to be fair"
Another one said "If her mom is so fair, and this girl isn't, her mom is right in being worried". 
A boy said "I want to marry a fair girl. She'll be beautiful, just like Sridevi". 
I remember thinking I had a 'wheatish' complexion and how I would never be judged by it. 

That's when Mrs.R said she was surprised that not one talked about how the girl must've been severely injured, scarred physically and mentally. She walked out of the class in a huff. 

Here's what happened next and the reason that teacher remains a "guide" in my memory. 

We had an English language lab a few days later. We entered the room to find it totally dark. She asked us to sit in a semi-circle and listen to the tape recorder. We listened to some short audio clips ranging from "I have a dream" to "He who owns the youth, owns the future" to "India has a tryst with destiny" and something to the effect of "Our country is an Islamic country and we support freedom of expression

She asked the same boy if he could identify which of the voices was dark or Muslim or educated or American.  We were stunned by that. 

She asked us all to name our favorite line. Dr.King won hands down. Many were surprised that he was a black leader. Next most popular was the "youth" quote (which then was my fave, I remember) and I was (and most were) shocked that we "liked" Hitler! 

She then switched on the lights and pointed to 3 packages in the room. One was big, shiny, tied prettily with a ribbon, the second was small, grubby looking, tied with a newspaper and the third was clearly packed by a child, in brown book-wrapping paper, medium sized. She asked a girl if she had a choice, what would she choose and WHY. The girl obviously said the pretty one and most of the class agreed.I confess, I did too. The girl said, it looks so pretty, am sure it has the nicest present inside. 

Not even one of us pointed to the grubby one. Mrs.R said she was upset with us all for judging not by the actual present inside, but the packaging. She went on to open all 3. The shiny one had 2 bricks inside, the brown one had ribbons inside, but the grubby one? It had bars of chocolate and Hero fountain pens inside. She refused to give us any that day and said we'd get it the day we learnt to use our brains to "think" and not merely accept lessons other people were giving us. 
She remains a powerful teacher to me (speaking in my mind) till date. I have fought the occasional prejudice that creeps up in my head if someone is dressed slovenly or makes obvious grammatical errors. I think of her when I pull back from being cruelly sarcastic about height or weight or any other physical characteristic. It doesn't mean you don't make fun of someone, nor does it mean that you make friends with everyone, it just means that stereotyping without giving a chance or worse, abating professional/personal growth because of prejudices is a big no-no. 

Most of all, I use her lessons when I talk to Button (my son). He knows better than to judge his b'day presents by cover already! He knows to go beyond skin color and see the prettiness inside (in fact all kids do, its the adults who forget). He will just as easily make friends with the maid's son as he will with my neighbor's. In fact, the incident of being in a minority while playing with my maid's granddaughter and her kids (when they spoke in Tamil and he couldn't meaningfully converse with them) taught him that only kindness and fairness (not of the skin color type) will let him belong, nothing else. 

Peace be upon you! 

* Both images are UCB ads, etched in my memory. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Online - Offline

Google devta ko pranaam!There is no disputing the daily quota of internet we all need. Without checking the FB a
ccount or gmail or some specific sites, I feel as if I haven't brushed my teeth or eaten my breakfast. Thanks to the internet, a few key strokes I have all the answers. Or can just 'like' or leave a one-line response to a life-altering event instead of being polite and actually calling / writing to wish or discuss it. I know of people who even 'like' condolence messages. Quick fix right?!

No writing: No letters AT ALL. Not even emails anymore, its all FB posts, tweets and SMS / Whatsapp messages. For example its a dear friend's b'day today. 10 years earlier I would've written out a long email to him. 5 years earlier, I would've called him at midnight, or at least spoken to him. Today, esp since he is not on FB or Whatsapp, I suppose I'll send him an SMS wishing him and hopefully talk to him sometime today.  In a larger sense, I guess being 'hooked on' all the time lets an individual read lots more and even express better via blogs et al. Its easier to hide behind a terminal sometimes than go out and talk in person!

Split Personality  I feel like I have 2 lives - one online and one offline. In my case they aren't too different from each other, but I don't know if I can say the same about everyone. I have a friend who sounds so cheerful on FB that you'd think she is all sunshine and light. But meet her, you'll realize in an hour or two that she is depressive, tired and pessimistic, at least at the moment.

What about tomorrow? I am a bit worried about my kids too... if FB has changed my thinking itself (sometimes I think in posts, sometimes in blogposts too!) then I wonder how their lives would be? Maybe 20 years from now, all you'll need to do is think and the messages will be transmitted in embedded chips to the brains of the ones 'linked' to you! You don't have to talk or write at all! And at that time, I would be a fuddy-duddy, still refusing to let go of my pen and paper and buying increasingly expensive books, instead of just downloading them.

I still make it a point to talk to my friends instead of merely communicating via FB or Twitter. I do make many many new online friends and sometimes even encourage the friendship to transcend to offline and real relationships instead of merely being 2 dimensional. With abundant caution of course. Sometimes I feel I should completely erase my digital footprint and not let the internet-alien take over my life, but not strong enough now to step out completely.

How has your life changed? 

Do you think in tweets? Or posts? 

Are you brave enough to go off FB forever? 

Do you believe you use it judiciously? 

Are you worried for your kids? 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Niagara Falls

Naughty, No Man's Land, Non-Judgmental, Neem Tree, Nighttime fears, Niceness, Nycil powder, Napalm..... after as many as 8 posts begun and discarded, the children woke up. So a quick nod to N with the Niagara falls. Here's to more luck with original "O"!!

The Horseshoe shaped falls

The first of many many rainbows
Peace Bridge to Canada

Maid of the Mist - boat ride to the foot of Niagara

From the boat - finding the pot of gold

Indian food everywhere!