Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My entry for the International Women's Day Blogging Contest on Indusladies

One of my favorite-est bloggers published her entry for the Indusladies International Women's Day blogging contest recently. And I was duly inspired to post an entry of my own. I've chosen to blog about the topic "Financial Freedom" and the below would be my entry.

I am going to title this entry "A promise fulfilled"


"If there is anything that I regret in my life, it's the fact that I did not have a job when I needed it the most", said Ratna rather woefully.
Both her daughters, aged 15 and 13 were listening with rapt attention to their mother who had somehow chosen them to be her sounding board that day.

Ratna's husband, whom she'd married years ago, much to her parents' opposition was indeed a loving person. A doting father to his children, he was a man who worked hard and always strived to provide the best for his family. Three bright children and an affectionate wife, his family was a picture of perfection.

But steadily, the perfection had begun to wane.

Holding a good position in a reputed software firm, he did earn a respectable paycheck at the end of every month. But then, when it came to matters of the money, he was as gullible as one could get.
There is never a dearth of con artists who are waiting to make a quick buck by luring such naive people into their grand schemes. This man, sadly, was one such victim who fell prey to not one, but several of such schemes and would invariably end up losing a big chunk of his hard earned money every now and then. One wrong decision led to another, manifesting into a vicious cycle.

When you are the lone breadwinner of a family of five that included three grown children, it's never easy. You may have a stable source of income in the form of your job, but then there are societal pressures that dictate your actions so strongly sometimes that you end up making decisions on an impulse. It doesn't help things either when you are a naive person by nature. Add a bunch of swindlers out there with fake "multiply your money manifold quickly" schemes to the mix and you readily have a recipe for a surefire fiasco.
And when one venture backfires, you want to make up for the loss in a hurry and that makes you quickly jump into another "quick fix" one. I guess this is what happened with him too, before he found himself with his 'next to nothing' savings and a dejected wife.The money that Ratna was earnestly saving up in the hopes of buying a home some day was fast depleting in front of her eyes. As his wife, Ratna couldn't help but feel betrayed. Her advice to stay away from these swindlers had only fallen on deaf ears, as he continued to burn his fingers relentlessly. Naturally, that angered her and it began to take its toll on their relationship. They would sometimes have bitter quarrels and of course, there would never be a winner.

But as a mother, she had far bigger concerns. She had two young daughters whose education had yet to be completed. And of course, the biggest worry that haunts every parent of daughters - their marriage.

Now, Ratna was a post graduate in Sociology who had always been among the foremost of her peers. Getting oneself a job with those kind of credentials was never difficult. But, post marriage, the idea of being a home maker appealed more to her. And then, they had three children who needed her attention more than ever. Being a stay at home mother was a decision Ratna made mostly out of choice, but a part of it was also compulsion.

"I would never have to live in the fear of our savings getting squandered if I had a job today. All I wanted was to live in a home of our own some day and have enough to secure your future, but I hate it that I am so powerless right now to make that happen", Ratna continued, choking up.

But she was quick to regain composure. After all, she wasn't just looking for a shoulder to cry on, it was a much bigger agenda. To impart the biggest life lesson she had ever cared about, to her daughters.
"I do not know if I would live long enough to see how you girls will finally turn out , but remember your mother always wants you to be financially independent at any point in your lives", she said looking in their eyes.
"You will never be at the mercy of a man for every single necessity of your life, the best ever man though you might marry."

"You will never ever end up being the helpless, distraught woman that your mother is right now", she said still looking straight into their eyes.

As both her daughters nodded silently, they knew they had promised their mother and themselves that one day, no matter what, they would do her proud.

One of them was me.

Amma did not live long enough to see me or my younger sister get past college and land pretty decent jobs soon after.

I still remember the day I was paid my first salary. A mere 20,000 rupees in all , but that still made me feel invincible in a foolish way. All I wanted to do was run to Amma with that money and exclaim "Look Amma, that's my money!" . And revel in the pride that would show in her eyes. When we both would know that the first step towards fulfilling the promise of financial freedom I made her that day, had been taken.

Through the years, financial freedom to me has meant much more than having enough dough to splurge on clothes and shoes. Or buying fancy presents for loved ones. Sure these things are absolute bliss too. But the essence of having "my own" money is to know that I am in control and free to take decisions fearlessly and on my own terms.
So, when I bought my first apartment at the age of 23, there was a feeling of exhilaration and achievement of fulfilling my mother's dream of owning a home, but most importantly it was about a sense of empowerment. That which came from being financially independent or as the cliche goes, "standing on my own two feet".

Staying on the topic of financial freedom, we women are somehow still not very adept at managing our finances well several times. We tend to leave the most important decisions to our husbands and don't really take charge of our money for seemingly valid reasons but what are really excuses. Lack of time, lack of aptitude in understanding financial matters, preoccupied with family/kids are probably the most commonly quoted ones.

But ladies, here's one scary piece of statistic which says 7 out of 10 women live in poverty at some point in their lives. If that doesn't sound like a wake up call to you, what does?

Yes it's true, my eyes glaze over and English suddenly starts sounding like Greek when I am reading the red herring prospectus of a company of which I intend to buy some stocks. But as Suze Orman, the most recognized face in the arena of personal finance points out, the key is to educate ourselves in small, easy to manage steps. In other words, if you are like me, do yourself a favor , just walk into a book store and pick up that copy of "Personal finance for dummies" . Yeah yeah, Nobody's watching.
In the end, you'd be amazed how just managing your money wisely will do wonders to your self esteem.

So this women's day, let's all celebrate the freedom that keeps the worry of the what-ifs of life at bay. The freedom that gives us the courage to stretch our limits, express our power and fulfill our potential. The freedom of the financial kind.


I know it's pretty late in the game, but I will go ahead and tag Deeps, Lavs and Sweta. Girls, I know you all have it in you to rock this contest. The rest of you , please feel free to blog away if this interests you too.

Go for it and kick some butt (even if it's mine) :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Turning over a new leaf - Concluded

I used to think my software job was exhausting. And then, motherhood happened.

So we come home from the hospital to a rousing reception,balloons, aartis et al. Not to mention the "oohs" and the "aahs" over how adorable the baby is,from aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, neices, neighbors, basically everyone I ever knew and random neighborhood grannies that I never even knew existed. And a husband who is stalking me around with a video camera so intently that you'd start suspecting this guy has a secret night job of a paparazzo.
It's only when he does a playback of the video, later that night, that I realize, that I only had a cameo in his "movie" and the star of course was the little debutante bundled up in my arms all the while. Sure enough, I was relegated to playing the "hero's mother" now. Sigh.

And later that night, as I crawled into bed hoping to turn in for the day , he began his thing. No no, not the husband, you perverts. The baby, of course. You know, the thing. like all the babies of the world.
-Begin crying and mommy would guess you're hungry and feed you until you fall asleep again. -Half an hour later, just when mommy has laid you down on your bed and is beginning to just about feel her eyelids draw shut, start crying again.
-Don't stop until she holds you and if she makes that mistake of thinking you've calmed down and tries to put you down again, kick it up a notch and let out a wail so loud that even a mommy notorious for sleeping through earthquakes would be kicked wide awake.
-If things get too monotonous, demand to be walked around the house. Well yes, 3 o'clock is the perfect time for a morning walk, its 3 in the morning, remember?
-A few nappy changes and feeds later, just when mommy looks like she is seriously contemplating tossing you out of the window, decide it's enough fun and games for the day and finally go to sleep. Only for a couple of hours before its time for another meal and we start the loop again.

Addy(oh yeah -that's what we will know him as, on this blog) pretty much spent the first month perfecting this routine and in the process, driving mommy nuts. What was triple chocolate cake of pregnancy was now sleep, the one thing I truly craved for. All I dreamt of when I rarely got to sleep was , that's right, sleep. And of course, there's the the significant change in lifestyle(read house arrest) right after a baby, specially when you've had a pretty active social and professional life. You hardly have the time to notice that there is actually a world beyond the cradle. Life as you'd known it, gets kinda lost in a pile of poopy diapers.

So one such harried sleepless night,after I laboriously nursed Addy to what seemed like an 'All you can eat' meal he was working on (I later read about 'cluster feeding'), I was ready to put him down to sleep. But apparently, he had something else planned for mommy. One huge smile that had "You make me so happy" written all over it. I had never seen him smile the way he did, ever before. Babies have a weird sense of timing alright, but come on, who wouldn't melt to this?

I think I smiled back at him foolishly. I was kinda fuzzy from the lack of sleep, but I am pretty sure that it was myself who told me that night that this one visual makes all the bother well worth it.

And the journey that is motherhood continued to be scripted. Speaking of which, I have been tracking Addy's milestones quite eagerly . I must have texted every single person on the address book of my cellphone the day Addy rolled over for the first time. And screamed in delight on the phone to G the day he sat up and tried to crawl. And told every single person, even strangers I ran into, the day he actually took his first step.

But, all glorious tales of motherhood said and done, it is also a fact that I can be such a cranky baby at times. Throw a fit for random reasons and blame it all on the "stress" of raising a child.But it's such a blessing to have this guy for a husband who knows that sometimes, all you need is to be babied. God knows where he gets his endless patience from and I'd better be grateful for it. The focus of his handy cam "movie" might be on Addy, but he's never let his shift from me even for a moment. Whether it was making sure I ate right during the nursing phase or regaling me with tales of office gossip that I was missing all the while, he's been the perfect partner in this entire parenthood gig. Fumbling and learning along the way together, we've had some of the most amazingly endearing moments of our lives with this child. And it's only getting better.

And I'd be nothing short of a wretch if I don't mention Hampi here. Hampi is my mom's sister, my favourite aunt since my childhood.Or wait, I was her favorite child of all time. The one that almost adopted me when I was 5 ,since she had no children of her own at the time. She went on to have a son later on, yet continued to love me way more than him. And when Addy was born, there was absolutely no question in her mind as to whose care I'd be under for the first few months. She welcomed me and her grandchild into her home with open arms and did such a fantastic job of supporting us through the first few months, my Amma would be a proud proud sister.

Now when motherhood becomes your full time job, the one you used to have before kinda takes a backseat. Mine has too. Now I am not sure if things would have been different if Addy had a grandma, but the paranoid mom inside me tells me I would have probably taken the sabbatical that I did anyway. I still tell all my friends who ask me why I never went back to work after 3 or 6 or whatever months that I somehow never could bring myself to deal with even the thought of leaving Addy with a nanny. He always seemed "too young" for it and dying of guilt everyday is not exactly my idea of fun. Nevertheless, I cannot picture myself staying home forever to be with Addy and I plan to get back to my job this year. I know it's not going to be easy even then, but if I don't, I would be so unfair to that part of the woman in me who has always wanted to have a flourishing professional life as well. It's not going to be easy and I will have to learn the ropes of being a working mom even then. On the other hand, it's also likely that a break this long would put me behind my peers in the office ranks,but I'd know that the year and a half I spent with my son was way too invaluable in comparison.

I sound like I would go to the ends of the world for my family don't I? Well you know, I actually did.
In June last year, G heard that he'd have to travel to the client site to fill a certain position as quickly as he could. And that meant, we would have to get on a plane and fly to the other end of the world. To America. So we landed here in Minneapolis, a nine month old Addy in tow.
A whole new place for Addy, but landing here was a feeling of deja vu for G and I who had lived here for a couple of years in the past.
Almost eight months here now and well, time just flies.Faster than ever I guess, specially when you have a toddler who is a handful and more. Addy has had his share of fun in summer prancing around outdoors. Even got to make his maiden trip to Disneyland, where he spent most of his time wondering why mommy and daddy were acting like a bunch of excited kiddos themselves.And now in winter, he's finding new ways everyday to have fun despite the freezing weather and snow (Maybe I should do a separate post on that someday?)

I conclude, with pictures of my little imp through his first year..

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: One year of Addy!

..The year through which he laughed and cried, fumbled yet recovered, learnt something new from every experience. And in the bargain, did a whole lot of growing up.

So did I.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Turning over a new leaf - Part 2

Two lines. And pink at that. How scary can they get? Right?


Yes, it takes only these two parallel pink lines to throw you into a tizzy. To tell you that those hallucinations you were having the previous night in bed, sleeplessly tossing and turning,somewhat excited,somewhat nervous, somewhat anxious,somewhat unsure have actually come true. No wonder those butterflies in your stomach couldn't stop fluttering all the while.They already knew what was up over there.

That's when you realise all of a sudden, that you are not alone, even in that restroom where you're standing staring at them.

I mean, these home tests are great, aren't they? For one, they make something as mundane as going to the bathroom first thing in the morning, so eventful. You see them, smile at yourself in the mirror while clutching your belly when you suddenly remember there's another stakeholder involved who is snoring away to glory in the bedroom,blissfully unware that the world has actually changed inside that restroom not too far away. You pause for a second and think of breaking the news to him in a much more fanciful way. After all, when would those "101 awesome ways to tell your husband the big news" you so diligently read in Cosmo come to any use?

"Who are we kidding?", you think. You know you haven't been able to keep the lid on anything for more than probably a couple of minutes your entire life. You barge out and wake up a rather sleepy husband who thinks he is sleepwalking when you lead him holding his hand to the restroom. You walk all the way with a broad grin, surprised you haven't blurted it out to him already. You show him the test half expecting him to break into a jump-up-and-down sort of jig. That grin on your face is still on. He's still not fully awake. He just looks at the test.Keeps looking. Doesn't seem to comprehend the situation, let alone the hysteria. Not a good thing when the frenzy has reached a fever pitch with you. You realise you are this much away from whacking his head and yelling "Look what you did!". But, just in time, you know it has finally dawned upon him when he smiles from ear to ear and responds with a hug. Sigh. No jumping up and down, but you got to take what you get. You both return to bed deciding 6:00 am in the morning is not the time one should ever have to wake up from sleep, no matter what. Somehow you drift off to sleep. I'm guessing that grin was still on. This time though, on both faces.

The fact that the baby news came close on the heels of my MIL's passing evinced all kinds of responses from the family. As one can imagine, there were quite a few who would comment about my MIL "returning" through me or how pleased she would be to have known it had she been around. My aunts, specially the one who had set me on this race against my biological clock was ecstatic. L'il sister couldn't stop shouting "Really?" when I called her, despite my threats to hang up if she said that one more time. And needless to say, dad was all too pleased. I saw a genuine smile lighting up my FIL's face after days of grieving. The pall of gloom that had descended on the family had finally, begun to fade.

They sure printed that right on the test. The result was Positive. In more ways than one.

And once the delirium died down, the waiting began. For those visible signs of pregnancy. But there was none to be. No morning sickness or food aversions/cravings. No aches and pains and not much fatigue either. It wasn't really easy for my hypochondrial self to deal with this situation. I mean, come on, everyone should be granted atleast one true "filmy" moment of their pregnancy. That throw-up-and-everyone-smiles-coyly scene or the get-dizzy-and-fall-safely-into-your-husband's-arms scene. However, I wouldn't call my pregnancy a cakewalk either though. There were those sleepless nights and backache issues in the final two months. But what the heck, this was a pregnancy, not a common cold.

And while the smooth sailing was going to last, it dawned upon me and G that we should have this one last vacation before the baby arrives on the scene and all hell breaks loose. So, we packed our bags and got on a plane to Dubai. The land of extravagance. Where everything is larger than life and built to breathtaking proportions. We drove through the deserts amid endless sand dunes and also felt the sea breeze in some of the blue-est waters I have ever seen. And of course, what better therapy to soothe a hormonal pregnant woman than the retail variety? Just like oil, there's no dearth of malls in Dubai. We soaked in the aromas of the Spice Souk and cursed the obscenely huge sizes of gold ornaments in the Gold Souk. Oh yeah, that's what you do when you can't afford them.
I think it was right after this trip that we picked out the name. "Smriti" (meaning remembrance in honor and memory of both moms). Yes, only one name. Female. My sixth sense had never wronged me. Both of us so wanted a girl and knew we were going to have one. In fact, we pretty much spoke about 'our daughter" everytime we discussed the baby.

Not long after, the baby decided that the parents were having too much fun and decided to intervene. Those were the days I went to bed every night with a prayer that labor doesn't kick in at midnight. Guess the prayer wasn't good enough.For I realised that God had different plans when I discovered at 2 in the morning on Sep 10 2008 that my water had actually broken. And lo, there it was! My very own "filmy" pregnancy moment - the-husband-dashing-to-the-hospital-at-midnight-with-a-wife-in-labor-cursing-left-and-right scene.

Twelve hours of screaming my guts out,and one huge push later, the gyanec finally pulled out and plopped her on my belly. I was all set to smile that triumphant "I-knew-it-would-be-a-girl" smile when the gyanaec announced. 'Male baby - Born at 2:35 pm". My sixth sense had been kicked in the ass.

My Smriti was a boy!

I reckoned "Dang it" wouldn't really be the nicest first words from mommy to baby. And smiled an exhausted smile to him while hoping that he hasn't realised how awful mommy can be.

Truth be told, there were no tears of joy or anything even remotely close. I guess, it was the exhaustion and relief (that the ordeal called labor was over) that totally overshadowed the overwhelming joy bit. I held him close for almost the whole day there after. Yet, the signs of extreme joy or fulfilment seemed elusive. You hear about other women speak wonderful things about how they felt when they first held their babies and you think they are such awesome moms. And when you seem like you don't exactly fit the bill, you start doubting yourself wondering if there's something amiss.

Who knew that it would take jaundice and a phototherapy box to dispel those doubts?
It was only a day after his birth that the baby developed jaundice. "Happens to every baby" said the paediatrician, almost callously. They brought a huge contraption with fluoroscent lights and placed him in there. With a blindfold and no clothes on. And that just broke my heart. The waterworks which were missing at the time of his birth showed up now. I must have cried for hours into my pillow just watching him lie there rather helplessly. And then, I knew. I was in love with this little fella. Madly.

The story of the besotted mommy had begun.

(To be continued...)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Turning over a new leaf - Part 1

Death.Birth. Rebirth. A New Beginning.

They all happened. Right here. In my life.

I have written of
my mother in this blog. As much as that post was a celebration of the amazing person she was, it also spoke of a sense of void that has been left behind in my life with her passing.
Only people close to me know the cause. Or rather I choose not to talk about it to everyone who wants to know "what happened" due to reasons, some obvious and some not so much.
Some years ago, when my husband G and I were on the brink of starting our wedded life together, I'd sometimes open up to him about how my life changed forever after she was diagnosed with a Stage 4 case of the kidney. He, who had never met Amma, would patiently listen to my heart wrenching account of her suffering and offer that much needed shoulder of support ,all the while sympathizing but never truly perceiving the magnitude of impact on the entire family when a member, more so, the mother falls prey to this deadly monster. I was thankful enough I'd found my sounding board in him that I never cared or even wished that he be able to empathize.

Little did I know then that the monster would return. Yet again.

A couple of years after our wedding, when G and I were in the middle of our respective professional assignments in the US , we learnt about his mother being diagnosed with a Stage 3 malignancy of the stomach. When we returned to India immediately thereafter, the doctors assured us that all hope wasn't lost and there were realistic chances of a recovery.
Usually, just a malignancy diagnosis is enough to devastate you . I half-expected to see a totally bogged down person weakened both physically and mentally, but a surprise is what I was in for. She did look a little emaciated from the surgery but I'd never forget that smile lighting up that rather paled down face as soon as she saw her son and her daughter in law at the doorstep. The surgery and the diagnosis was probably all forgotten that one moment as she melted into her son's arms.
Later that day in the kitchen, as she poured coffee into cups, she said "Its your father in law I am worried about..I can totally handle this, but I am not sure how he's going to. I don't want to hassle anybody in my family". As she looked at me, I could see half a tear at the corner of her eye. Eyes of a beautiful middle aged woman that I'd seen teary only when she bade goodbye to us on our onward journey to America. Those tears weren't the "heavy" kind. They had a rather flimsy purpose, lament about someone you're going to miss for a year or two. You vented and you were done. You would even forget you were teary eyed a while ago.
But this tear was heavy...With fear. With uncertainty. With sadness. With guilt.
The last I saw it was in my own Amma's eye when she had to undergo a major brain surgery at a time when both her student daughters were in the middle of their grad level exams.
I had hardly lived with my mother in law to know her well. It was just about three months after our wedding that we traveled to America. But that day, I knew this. If there was anyone going to be her tower of strength through this entire ordeal, it was herself.

Dozens of chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions ensued thereafter. She amazed the docs themselves with her never-say-die attitude and resolve. She made the hair loss issue seem like a minor cosmetic change that she was going through, making no qualms about hiding it under a wig. She avoided discussions about the disease with anyone who brought it up even by accident. She was cooking, traveling, attending family functions, gardening..doing just about everything that had made her the energetic and enthusiastic person she was.

She so wanted to treat this whole episode as a nightmare that she will one day wake up from and heave a sigh of relief realising it was all just not real.
That never happened.

Our relationship though only went from strength to strength through the entire ordeal. We were talking more. We were sharing more. We were learning from each other more. We were being grateful for each other more. I am not sure if we would have bonded any better otherwise. I sometimes wish we hadn't.
One particular day, when most days had turned miserable, she lay there on the hospital bed looking at me rather wistfully as I massaged her feet. It was a time when she no longer had the strength to talk much or be mobile. Those days, my eyes had become weary of making contact with hers to avoid becoming teary . I felt a nudge on my elbow and I moved closer.
"Did you need something? A blanket? Something to drink, maybe?"

As she nodded, I felt her frail, almost shivering palm stroking my cheek. I managed a slight smile clutching her palm in return, but somehow they rolled down, the damn tears. And right there in that hospital ward, in absolutely no words at all, she conveyed to me something so clearly that words couldn't. I had become to her, the daughter she never had.

And then her battle was over. Cancer proved itself invincible yet again.

Another loss. To me, of a mother, yet again.

It has been well over a year and a half now. Her spirit lives on though. In the warm, wonderful home that she built for her family...

...And, in the smile of one certain person she never could meet. A newcomer.A debutante.

(To be continued...)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Mars-Venus dialogue

The 22 questions tag has been doing the rounds across the blogosphere for quite a while now.
Almost every female blogger worth her err..estrogen has given this one a shot.

So why be left behind eh?

For the uninitiated, these are 22 questions asked my men to women to better understand them.

1. How do you feel after a one night stand?
Zilch. You don't get into one night stands with people you have "feelings" for, do you?

2. Do you ever get used to wearing a thong?
Why bother about another pain in the butt when we already have you ?

3. Does it hurt?

4. Do you know when you are acting crazy?
Of course.. we plan it to the last detail. And the best part? Make you apologize for it at the end!

5. Does size really matter?
Tell me it doesn't really matter to you if its 36D or 32B and I'll answer with a "No" to this question.

6. When the bill comes are you still a feminist?
I've already been generous enough investing my time in you. Don't expect me to invest money as well!

7. Why do you take so long to get ready?
Try mentioning the word "Shopping" next time. Drastic improvement guaranteed.

8. Do you watch porn, too?
Well, it's a lot more fun watching you try to hide it from us, what say?

9. Will something from Tiffany’s solve everything?
Of course, honey. Just don't forget to slip in the the gift certificate. And at Tiffany's, they do store credit, don't they?

10. Are guys as big of a mystery to you as you are to us?
When you have mastery over something, it ceases to be a mystery, mister!

11. Why do you sometimes think you look fat?
We never do. Just giving you enough practice to rehearse and re-rehearse the "No". You don't want to invite catastrophe by answering otherwise, do you?

12. Why are you always late?
'Coz we don't do things that are not fashionable.

13. Does it bother you when we scratch?
Not if you use it on scratch cards and win me jewellery or cars!

14. Do you wish you could pee standing up?
Don't think so. All that aim-and-shoot in a day is no fun unless you're an archer or something!

15. Why do so many women cut their hair short as soon as they get married?
You know how life after marriage is. They just want to keep their bad hair days short, I guess.

16. How often do you think about sex?
This question somehow reminds me of the Mountain Dew slogan.
"Thinking...is such a waste of time" :-P

17. What do you think of women who sleep with guys on the first date?
They probably chose falling-madly-in-bed over falling-madly-in-love with those guys!

18. Would you?
I ain't a fallen person, either ways.

19. Do you realize every guy wants a girl just like his mom?
They say it takes 20 years for one woman to make a man out of her son and another, just 20 minutes to make a fool out of him. Wonder who should be like who?

20. Why does every woman think she can change him?
Well, if change is constant and the man in her life's also gotta be constant, shouldn't they both go together?

21. Does it matter what car I drive?
No. As long as you don't bore me to death with details of how it's so much better than your neighbour's.

22. Do you ever fart?
Nope, I believe in the burp-and-taste rather than fart-and-waste policy. (Sounded almost as gross as you, didnt I?)

So all you ladies out there who haven't done the tag yet, what are you waiting for?

Go ahead. Educate the (hu)man race.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

It's about time..

..I returned.

To this nondescript yet comforting space of my own on the cyberspace.

Here's a long overdue 'Thank you' to everyone who checked on this space regularly and left notes here, on Orkut and in my mailbox(I make it sound like I have half a million visitors thronging this page every day,don't I?) . And a special 'thank you' goes out to Lavs for bestowing the "Thinking Blogger" award upon yours truly. I wouldn't be surprised if she has forgotten about the award herself , now that it's been sooo long! But trust me Lavs, it's truly fulfilling to know my writing appeals to you. I must also thank you for your subtle slap on my wrist for not posting consistently :)

No, it wasn't a case of the much talked-about Blogger's Block. Just a matter of my incapacity to squeeze some blog-time between 11 hours of slog-my-ass-off-at-work-time, 3 hours of commute-to-work-till-eternity time and 7 hours of sleep-like-a-log-out-of-sheer-exhaustion time. So you see, it was rather a case of Slogger's Slack!

Sometime in June,when my new manager offered me this hard-to-refuse role in a high visibility project in the organization , it didn't take me long to accept. The fact that it was driven by a crazily aggressive deadline and on a technology platform that I knew about as much as Laloo Prasad Yadav knows about Molecular Nanotechnology didn't deter me either. But once into it, it sure felt like sitting in this roller-coaster wondering whether my mind was on a vacation when I signed up for it. Hectic, it was. Draining, it was. Exhausting, it was. And now, after its success, I feel exactly the same way as one would after the roller coaster ride is over - Exhilarated. And Proud.

So while my sanity was still intact and to keep it that way, G and I decided that a really long-in-the-planning beach vacation in Malaysia couldn't have a better timing. And boy, did it turn out to be a vacation of a lifetime..
The idyllic beaches of Langkawi and the vibrant city that's Kuala Lumpur offered the right mix of serenity and joie de vivre that was just what the doctor (and the travel agent) ordered for the stressed out couple.

The resort staff, tour guides, sales girls in malls, museum curators, restaurant waiters, air hostesses..practically everyone we met asked us if we were on our honeymoon. In the beginning, we did nod sideways and say the honeymoon was three years ago.

I leave you with glimpses of a vacation so memorably delightful that left G and me nodding in agreement to the same question on our return journey!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

All about (S)mi

One of my favorite bloggers has tagged me! To list eight little known things about myself. And ofcourse, the license of having one little lie 'camouflaged' in the list for the readers to identify, comes with the package.

So here we go..

1. I have a couple of "bunny teeth" that is in all probability the first thing you'd notice if you met me. My mom and other "concerned" family members tried all they could to get me to wear braces, in the fear of not being able to find suitors!!
Well, nothing came of that. And the irony? G thinks they are adorable!:)

2. There's a max lapse of 10 seconds between the plopping of my head on a pillow and deep slumber. I can sleep at the drop of a hat and not be awakened even with the loudest of noises.
A few years ago, there was a fire in a building hardly 100 metres away from home, at 2 am and apparently there were fire engines, loud sirens et al for a good couple of hours before the fire was finally extinguished. No wonder my neighbour couldn't stop rolling his eyes when he heard my response to the story that kept the entire locality awake through the night - "Really?"

3.I am a neurotic hypochondriac. I've spent many a sleepless nights worrying if my nagging headache is brain tumor only to be told by the doc later that all I need to do about it is to reduce the brightness of my monitor! Or wondering if I'd have a tetanus attack just 'coz I fell from a couple of stairs and ended up with a hardly visible bruise and having the doc laugh out loud on my face when I tell him why I'm asking for an anti-tetanus vaccine.

4.I never leave home without my Asthalin inhaler. I swear, that amazing little invention is the best thing to have happened to all asthmatics of the world. And just to clarify, there’s absolutely no connection between this and the previous point! :-P

5.I got drunk on red wine(!) once and confessed to G, my co-worker at the time, that I had a crush on him. That, was the first and last time I tasted alcohol.

6.I’ve attended five different schools, all in Bangalore, through ten years of my schooling.
A couple of those were real crappy and had teachers from those very schools summoning mom to advise her to get her "kid with so much potential" out of there asap!

7.I have a knack for making really really really soft chapatis ( a tortilla like bread) . My husband can never have enough of those.

8.When I was 15 years old, I’d punched a guy in the nose, when he’d tried to slip his hand under my shirt in a crowded bus. By the time I was 19, the number of ill-fated noses had climbed to about 10.

9.I bought a 3-bedroom apartment in a swanky locality in Bangalore when I was 23 years old.

Hmm..I'm starting to think the "lie-detection" job isn't really going to be too hard. Or is it?

The rule is to tag eight more people. But then when the total number of bloggers you are familiar with, on the blogosphere is about that same number, and half of them have already done this, two shouldn't sound like too bad a number eh?

So, Shyam and Accidental Diva..Go for it!:)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

On Amma's Day

  • She is the walking Webster’s English dictionary. Every time an unfamiliar word would cross my path, I’d just have look “her” up, instead of the big fat lexicon.
  • She is the compulsive book worm. Tidying up a house so messy, that it looks like a war field or doing the pile of dishes forming a little mountain in the sink would figure nowhere on her to-do list when she would be in the middle of an interesting read.
  • She is the in-house Deccan Herald Daily Crossword champ. Cracking the toughest of ‘em in record time and having only one person in the household to better it. Herself.
  • She makes the most delectable Mysore Pak in the entire universe. Somehow or the other, it turns out the best only on my birthday!
  • She weaves magic on her knitting pins, crafting the most exquisite of sweaters for Dad and the three of us. Turning us into show-offs amidst awestruck friends who just don’t seem to believe that the sweater was actually created from scratch, on our living room sofa.
  • She carries off a salwar kameez with utmost elegance. Leaving her much younger perpetually-clad-in-a-saree sisters go green with envy when their neighbors mistake her to be their younger sibling!
  • She and I yap for hours on end, standing in our balcony. One way or another, we never run out of topics. Whether it’s having a good laugh about dad’s goofy ways or a serious discussion about what career should choose for myself.
  • She is the one I run to, every Sports Day after coming last in the Running Race,Skipping Race,Obstacle Race, well, every goddamn race and she would be ready with her line. "Never mind, Participation is important, there's always next year". Never mind that next year would be the same miserably sad story, yet that line somehow works like magic when she says it.
  • She tells me very matter-of-factly that I look like Tabu and l’il sister looks like Karisma Kapoor. Lying all bandaged up in the ICU after a major surgery.
  • She is a huge fan of Dev Anand and his histrionics. She must have watched every single Hindi movie produced in Bollywood, including those that the producers themselves never bothered to sit through. Yet cannot carry out a decent conversation in Hindi for nuts!
  • She is “Amma” to not only us but another little cousin. Whose mother went back to work, entrusting him to her every day, knowing a smart post-graduate woman who chose to stay at home to look after her three kids, could never go wrong when it came to raising kids.
  • She just won’t step out of the house without doling out atleast 65 instructions to me and L’il sister. Rattling ‘em off at 120 kmph, she knows we ain’t paying attention, yet never gives up.
  • She knows it’s me, her 12 year old, who has rummaged her wardrobe when she wasn’t home and tried on all her sarees and left the wardrobe looking like a laundry basket. Yet, when she’s back, she just rearranges the wardrobe neatly without a whimper, leaving the nervous 10 year-old thinking her mom has no clue.
  • She accompanies me, her jittery 10th grader to the exam hall every day, advising throughout the way, to take it easy and how getting "tense" could ruin my performance. And when the exam bell rings and it's time to get in the hall,suddenly I am the less "tenser" one around!
  • She walked out on her father who objects to his post grad daughter marrying “just a graduate”, entering into the first love marriage of the family.Years later, all three of her children follow suit.
  • She never fails to say "You won't understand now..You will when you're a mother yourself" at regular intervals. Invariably, l'il sister and I utter the second half of that sentence in chorus with her, as soon as we hear the first half from her. Yet, the line somehow never changes.
It's been six years since Amma's gone.

Yet, it doesn't feel like she's gone far enough to not hear when I say..

"Happy Mother's Day, Amma!"

Thursday, May 3, 2007

World Cup Gupshup

It’s curtains for the Caribbean Calypso. And I bet I ain’t the only one heaving a huge sigh of relief. Phew! It’s finally over.

Sure, Ponting and Co are reveling in the glory of their hatrick triumph. Over a brave Sri Lankan side. Yes, “Brave” – that’s what the newspaper called the Lankans. Guess that’s as far as you can get when you’re playing Australia these days.
Seriously, are these guys for real? The way they bulldozed over any given team in the tournament, was there even an iota of doubt in anybody’s mind about who would win the cup in the end? Even if there was, one look at Ponting’s play and that’d be enough to dispel any.
The team will go down as the greatest in the annals of cricketing history..yada yada..yada..But hey, they’ve made the game so monotonous and predictable. All thanks to them, we don’t have the nailbiting, nerve-racking games anymore, that used to keep us all at the edge of our seats. I mean, is there any fun watching a match with them, when you know they’re just going to saunter in and annihilate the opposition , in a rather business-as-usual manner?

Lata Mangeshkar volunteered to step back and let others get a chance to win the coveted Filmfare trophy after there were countless of those bestowed upon her year after year. How I wish the Aussies take a leaf out of her life , lest there be “ho-hum-it’s-Australia-again” endings to the next 'god-knows-how-many' World cups!

Remember the classic Lance Klusener retort at the 1999 World cup when asked about how he felt about screwing up the semi final match for his team?
“(So what?) Nobody die(d)!”
True, that's the worst that could happen.
This year, sadly though, someone actually did. What was initially surmised as a succumbed-to-stress death turned out to be a murder most foul. A respectable coach murdered in the middle of a tournament and all that happens is the players just have one extra black ribbon to wear before they resume business again. What can be sadder than that?

Of course, lesser said the better about our (beaten black and) blue brigade. Their World Cup debacle prompted our irate junta to burn their effigies. But then, it also ended up burning holes in the pockets of many a sponsor! When the “Ladega toh jeetega” Pepsi ads or the “Mind and Body,Heart and Soul” Visa ads proved to be nothing more than money invested foolishly. And these ads being aired like a zillion times before the exit, just added to the sponsors’ expense and to the cricket viewers’ annoyance.
So, when the sponsors realised that they’re just maaro-ing the kulhaadi on their feet by airing their ads calling the team hilarious names like “Team Reliable” , someone in the ad industry came up with this even more annoying idea.
Of churning out ads showing random gully-cricket playing bachhas as future World champions! If you’ve seen the enormously irritating Pepsi gold “Agla World cup hum layenge” ad or the Surf Excel “2015 mein World Cup” ad, you’ll know what I mean!

Like our desi team, Mandira’s cup of woes has been overflowing as well. As though, she didn’t have enough troubles of her own already, making herself look like a complete nincompoop amidst the whos-who of world cricket on her show, the enraged “activists” find a new effigy to burn. Just when she thought she could manage to have everyone’s eyes glued to her noodlestraps and get away with wearing the tricolour on her saree. It quite did not turn out that way, did it? I suspect a certain Shilpa babe is now sulking at the Mandira babe for diverting all the attention of the activist junta away from her!

I wrap up, with my favorite World Cup 2007 anecdote.

G and I are watching a world-cup match where the hapless Bangla boys are being battered mercilessly by the mighty Aussies in a grossly one-sided affair.
A few overs into the match, I turn to him with a “What’s the point?” look on face. My hands stretched out, in the hope that he would probably surrender the remote that he , the compulsive sports freak, would otherwise usurp during the entire length of a cricket match.

The man looks back at me , with a “Don’t-even-think-about-it” glare.

I yell back at him as fiercely, “Come on, it’s not even like, India’s playing” .

Still fuming, he reasons with a straight face,

“ See, that’s exactly the problem . If India wouldn’t have exited the tournament, I wouldn’t have to watch these matches, would I? All thanks to our useless players, I am now forced to watch a team like Bangladesh!”

I don’t exactly remember tying him to the sofa or pinning his eye lashes open with a stapler.
Yet, what do you do when your husband, a full grown adult, makes an argument as “valid” as that?

I, for one, almost fell down from the chair, laughing! :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The 'Phone' Identity

At work, the cubicle right across mine is shared by a couple of new joinees from another team. One of them is this jumpy youngster who can be often seen having outrageously loud conversations on the phone. When he’s not on the phone, he keeps himself busy with free coffee and snacks in the cafeteria. Both ways, ensuring he utilizes the office resources to his fullest capacity, of course. His repertoire also includes top-of-the-line acting skills, which is at its best when he swings into action, staring really hard at the monitor or typing away on his keyboard, at the sight of his project lead approaching his desk!:) Interesting bloke this huh?

But this is not about him.

This is about his cube-mate - the really quiet and unassuming Tamil girl, M. One would hardly notice M in that cube, except maybe on days when she’s wearing that extremely fragrant posy of jasmine flowers in her hair. Those are the days when the maintenance guys breathe easy, considering that they have one less task on their hand –of spraying room freshener in our floor.

M and I do exchange smiley hellos everyday and there’s the occasional small-talk about work. But, nothing beyond that.

So this week, as I headed home from work, I met M in the elevator lounge. As soon as we stepped into the elevator, her cellphone rang. And what I saw when she held up the cellphone to see who was calling, left me stunned!

Husband” said the caller id display.

Husband? HUSBAND??

Alright,in my defense, I didn’t really mean to snoop or anything. But then, all thanks to the horde of over-enthu people wanting to run home, squeezed into the elevator , I had her standing right in front of me. And in the extremely small distance that separated us, if she held up something to her face, it was as good as holding it up to mine!

As I picked up my jaw that had dropped to the elevator floor by then, I wondered for a second if I’d misread the display. It couldn’t be that, could it?? Sadly enough, I hadn’t.

My first thought was this - You’d probably store your plumber’s name as “Plumber” in your phonebook, just because he’s identified that way a little more quickly than by his name, if he called. But surely, your husband deserves a better deal, doesn’t he?

And then through my daily
bus journey back home, as I wondered what on earth made her refer to her husband by a name as cold as err.. “Husband”, a particular ritual in my wedding came to mind..
That was when the new bride (that would be me), was welcomed into G’s home for the first time after the wedding. The ritual is to stop the bride at the doorstep and “taunt” her by asking her to pronounce her husband’s name.
The rule is that the new bride has to act all demure and blush till her cheeks turn a dark shade of red and keep refusing. And the “taunters” will have the question on loop until you decide to give up.

Not meaning to sound curt, “G” , I blurted out immediately, in a tone that asked a “Didn’t you know that?” to the aunty who asked. Of course there was this cuteness factor associated with the ritual and most of them had a good laugh and all that. But still, I’m sure there were a few aunties and grannies in that room who’d frowned upon the rather audacious bahu.

Of course, we all know scores of women who don’t call their husbands by name. Most of our grandmoms and sometimes, even moms don’t. In fact, its commonplace to refer to one’s husband as one’s “yejamanru” (literally translated to “master”) in many a household in our state.
I ain’t no rabid feminist, but then this one still gets my goat.
Clearly, the term “better half” for a wife, wouldn’t sit well with people who coined this term.
I don’t even see them agreeing to “half”, let alone “better”.
To them, it all probably stems from the thought that your husband is someone you put on a pedestal. Someone you look up to and believe is only second to God (“patidev” after all eh?).

Does it sound a little too archaic for our times? Maybe, it does. But then, for M, it probably doesn’t.

I hope, things change soon with time and M gives a nicer name to her husband in her phonebook
For all we know, maybe I am just over-reacting to an innocuous phonebook entry or probably that’s her nick for him(it's possible, you know) or maybe she’s just being funny!

But seriously.. “Husband”??