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.
" 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”??

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


My earliest memory of receiving a prize goes back to the time when I was six years old. I was at this Annual Day event at school where the agenda, apart from the “cultural programs” (read song and dance numbers from kids made to wear make-up of at least two inches thickness!) also included a prize distribution ceremony. The idea was to reward kids who’d scored the highest in every subject in the curriculum, individually. A jolly good idea to avoid one smart ass namely the class topper, walk away with all the glory!

I was slated to receive three prizes, for English, Science and Social Studies. I was summoned on stage three separate times and was given three different books and some coloring pens. Well, the reality was that the only rewards I could ever dream of reaping were strictly restricted to academics. It was a distressing sight every Sports Day , when I'd get thrashed black and blue in all "races" I competed, by kids with far superior athletic abilities!

As I sat there with my friends, proudly showing off my heist, I was caught unaware, when I heard my name being called out yet again! Much to my surprise, I found out I'd found out that I had the highest scores in all three sections of 2nd grade! The management had decided to award a special prize for that particular feat as well!
The prize was a cool kiddy story book, a Russian publication that had this really amazing wrapper and lots of pictures. I remember L’il sister being particularly besotted with that book. So much so that, at the age of four, she’d mugged up the entire book and would compel everyone in the house to listen to her recital (both backward and forward!) at least once every day!

As for me, it was like being announced “Man of the Series” soon after you’ve been announced “Man of the Match” , the perfect icing on the cake! No prizes for guessing that I grinned from ear to ear during the rest of the day.

To think of it now, I feel it’s purely the surprise element or rather the shock element that’s left this incident etched in my mind, even after all these years.

So the last week at work, as I stared at the monitor pretending to decipher a complicated software architecture diagram, while actually surfing the net for the best spots to holiday in Malaysia in another window, I spotted my manager walking towards my desk. After the initial "how's it going" small talk, he went on to ask me to attend this meeting the next day with a different team(that he manages, apart from mine), in order to help them out of a major crisis that they'd landed themselves in. Now, this was not something that I was not used to, since I'd helped the same team resolve some issues even earlier.
Although I muttered a “Damn!Not Again!” under my breath, sending out silent curses to the goofy guys in that team, who messed up so regularly, you can't really refuse when your manager makes a personal request, can you? And I agreed.

The next day, as I walked into the conference room, expecting a room full of glum people, I noticed my manager looking a little too cheery for a crisis resolution meeting. Considering that he'd described the crisis situation as really colossal, I wondered how on earth this guy even managed a smile, even if it was fake!
But then, the smile only got bigger, as he rose from his seat and proceeded to deliver this absolutely fancy vote-of-thanks kind of speech, acknowledging my earlier contribution of having resolved some rather unnerving issues in that team. All praise for my effort, he went on to say how those issues had the team vexed for weeks and how I was able to resolve it in a matter of hours. As I sat there, feeling rather embarrassed, he dished out a cool backpack, and presented it to me, amidst much fanfare and applause.

After the meeting, he explained to a really-taken-aback me, that the whole crisis resolution meeting was just a decoy, and he'd called the meeting to ensure he recognized my effort in the presence of the entire team. The unjustly cursed 'goofy guys' hadn't really messed up in reality.

And I thought to myself - A "nice manager" is not really the oxymoron that I thought it was, after all! He very well could have let me know beforehand, but then he'd meant the whole thing to be a surprise, just to make me happier! What a darling eh?

Déjà vu! The surprise element had done it again! Enhanced the pleasure of being rewarded, many fold.
Whether it’s the story book or the backpack, they will be remembered fondly as two of the most memorable prizes I’ve received, all thanks to the happiness they’ve brought, when you least expected it.

Even then, it’s never about what prize you’ve been rewarded with, Is it?

It’s always the memory of the experience, that turns out to be the prized possession!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Turning Twenty Seven

When I returned to work this week, after a blissful trip to my l'il sister's at Hyderabad, I heard many a ‘what-i-did-over-the-long-weekend’ conversations in the elevator.

So, what did I do?

I turned 27.

As a child, my birthday was always the best day of the year. That was the day when mom would make my favourite Mysore Pak. Doting aunts and uncles would arrive to wish their neice. It’s another matter that the 50 bucks they would gift interested the neice way more than the wish! And for once, dad was not allowed to yell at me for anything goofy I did that day.
The only thing that peeved me was the date, that fell during the summer break in school. I could never be the gleaming kid in her brand new dress, distributing Nutrine pineapple flavored toffees to her class, while they sang the birthday song in unison. Funny how I was relieved about the exact same thing ,no-school-on-birthday when I got to high school though!

But then, the picture is not quite the same, when you are older, is it?

“27?? Oh you don’t look that old” said my visibly surprised co-worker, after she’d wished me.

And I thought about the “that” in her sentence. Should I be smiling about the fact that there are people who think I look younger than I am, or should I read into the way she stretched it making it sound more like a “thaaaat” which makes 27 borderline old-age?!

And then there’s my really really concerned aunt.

27?? And you still don’t have a baby? Don’t you realize time is ticking away? Atleast, give me the good news by your next birthday!”

She's set me on a race against time now. Timed by not just one, but two clocks- biological and regular.Sheesh.

If that wasn’t enough, I recently saw this mentioned in a skin care article in my favourite mag, Cosmopolitan. They’d sectioned the advice by age group and of course, I had to look in the (26-30) age group.

“We hate to break the news to you. But your skin is no longer going to be as naturally radiant as it used to be when you were younger.”

Et tu Cosmo? Life can suddenly get so cruel once you fall outside the (21-25) bracket . Sigh.

But what the heck? Birthdays are for celebrating right?

It was the first birthday I spent with dad, l'il sister,brother-in-law and G, together.
Li'l sister and BIL played perfect hosts when they took us out for a midnight buffet(!), a first for me. I did have my suspicions about whether this was the restaurant's ploy to get rid of leftover food, but I was soon proved wrong when we were asked to wait for 20 minutes for a table when we arrived at the place at about 12:15 am and the food turned out absolutely delicious!

While at the buffet, we did click a few snaps. But here's the one that takes the cake, well, literally!

Courtesy the worst photographer in the world - my sister. So much for the enthu G was posing with, for this snap! :)

And in the morning, I woke up to a barrage of phone calls from friends and family. And my Orkut scrapbook, abound with messages from friends near and far. L'il sister and Dad made sure there was abundant supply of Mysore Pak at home. How sweet is that?

And yeah, G's promised an air conditioner(!) for a gift. Considering that he's gonna be sharing the room with me, I am trying hard to ignore any hidden agenda here. And to believe that this is going to be my gift and not ours! :)

Oprah couldn't have said it better when she said this.

"The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate. "

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Addicted to Abhiwarya

Movie director Gurinder Chadha , of Bend-it-like-Beckham fame has proclaimed that she would christen her twins, ‘Aishwarya’ and ‘Abhishek’ after we know who. So this entrepreneur in our locality was not to be left behind. He's decided to pay his own tribute to the couple by doing this.

Beauty salons (or parlours as they are commonly known) carrying Ash’s million-dollar face on their signboards is a pretty familiar sight in Bangalore. But in this instance, even her beau has earned a spot beside her , helping market a men’s beauty salon! Yikes! The prices you pay for deciding to marry a beauty queen! Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing less macho about men frequenting these “beauty” salons, but it somehow creeps me out to see men getting manicures done!

Undeniably, they are the most celebrated couple in the country right now. The media never tires of chasing them. The engagement came as such a relief to the nation. A nation sick of watching news channels scream "Breaking News" even when they'd brush past each other. Well, it's a different matter altogether that they did Mani and themselves a huge favour by deciding to announce the engagement at the brink of "Guru"'s release. Never mind that the announcement set the cash registers ringing! What's commerce got to do with it? Yeah, right!

Ash being labelled a 'manglik' by the family priest has had the Bachchans go on an incessant temple hopping spree. And what's more, they've even had their bahu-to-be marry a tree to help her wash off her manglik induced misfortunes! And the worst part is that, the Miss World touting dignity and respect for womanhood in her speeches went ahead and did it How on earth are we supposed to make foreigners believe that India is not just about snake charmers and ridiculous superstitions, when our most recognized faces abroad resort to such ludicrous "rituals"?! Sigh.

And then, there's the beaten-to-death-by-the-media question of whether Ash's going to continue acting after marriage. And what better person to ask this question than the father in law himself right? The Big B was ready with a reply - "It ain't my prerogative to decide. It's Abhishek's". Hello sir? The question was about Ash's career, not your son's?!

Now that they've announced their marriage date, the media is back to their 'breaking news' ways. There's supposedly going to be none of the 'Liz-Arun'esque affair. Thank God! We've already had enough of the L-A wedding being forced down our throats, thank you very much! I mean, I'd rather watch my own wedding video over and over than watch two obscenely wealthy firangs who have absolutely nothing to do with my country, get hitched. Even if the wedding was the most spectacular event of the year. Whatever!

Alright, that’s enough vitriol.

In all fairness, the path to marriage hasn’t really been easy for them. They’ve had to deal with their share of angst over broken relationships. For poor Aishwarya, it’s been more than once. When things turned ugly with the perpetually shirtless guy and the second time with the one-hit-wonder guy flaunting their affair to the entire world, much to her resentment. As for Abhishek, he’s had to get over a broken engagement plus a string of flops before making a mark in the industry.
Here’s wishing that peace finds them at long last.

So the next time we hear about something breaking on TV, let’s hope it’s good news about their marriage and not the marriage itself.

Friday, March 30, 2007

What's in a (nick)name?

So I was leafing through “Woman’s Era” while waiting for my turn at the salon, when I spotted this column called “How I met my husband” .As I sat there reading an interesting account of an ad professional’s first tryst with her boss,who went on to become her husband, I smiled. Thinking of my own.

Cut to 2003, when I was on this offshore team for a US based client. Most of my interaction was with this guy called G at client site . I'd never seen him, but we’d worked jointly on quite a few projects together.He was no more than a voice on the phone for me. It was another matter that I thought the voice ,one of the deepest I'd heard, was the stuff that could give any RJ a run for his money!

And one day, there was news that he’d return to Bangalore to join us. As I tapped away on my keyboard that day, something caught my attention. I noticed this tall, extremely fair guy having a little chat with my project lead. And as I wondered who this ‘bili jirle’ (white cockroach!) was, my project lead walked up to me and introduced him as the ‘client site guy’ G.
Man! Was I so wrong when I thought the baritone was the first thing I’d notice about the guy if I met him in person.It was his milky white complexion, all the way! All the months he’d spent in the freezing cold weather of Minnesota had made him look like the male version of Snow White. He could so easily be the “After” guy in the ‘Before-After’ segment of all the ‘Fair and Lovely’ ads. He was tall alright, handsome..err..okay fine,granted, but dark?Hell no!

A co-worker friend in another team, who happened to notice this latest addition to ours, got curious. Like me, she couldn’t help but take note of the lack of sun on his skin.

Over a cup of coffee on the same day, she inquired- “Hey who’s that cone of vanilla ice cream in your team?” sending me into fits of laughter.
And the name stuck. That was his secret nick– ‘coz everyone except him knew about it! I’d even use it as a code-word while gossiping with others, about him!

I even had my own set of corny one-liners for him.

When he’d be in a grumpy mood, I’d say,
“Oh Man! Looks like Vanilla ice cream is hot today!”

When he’d help me out at work
“Isn’t Vanilla ice cream so sweet?”

When he’d turn up in a dark brown shirt
“ Wow! Vanilla ice cream has a chocolate fudge topping today!”

And so on.
A year later, we were married. I went on to give him many more nicks, soon forgetting the original one.

Cut to 2007. I’m taking this totally harebrained quiz called “What flavor ice cream are you?” on, out of sheer boredom. But the last line of the quiz result brings a smile on my face. Take a look!

You Are Rocky Road Ice Cream
Unpredictable and wild, you know how to have fun.
You're also a trendsetter who takes risks with new things.
You know about the latest and greatest - and may have invented it!
You are most compatible with vanilla ice cream.

Looks like the first nick I gave him was the ‘coolest’ one after all!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Of 'growing up' and 'becoming'

During a chitchat session, my dad had me in splits when he mentioned that, as a kid, he always dreamed of growing up to become a bus conductor.
“Wow! What a rewarding job , Dad” I said, still laughing at his atypical choice.
But to him, the rationale was straightforward – You get to ride on a bus all day and what’s better, even get paid for it! :-)

And that made me go into flashback mode.

Here’s a list of the dream jobs that I aspired for during my ‘wonder years’ and beyond..

Bollywood Heroine – I was probably 6 or 7 when the movie Mr. India was released in Bangalore. I still remember sitting in the balcony seat of Drive-In theatre, nudging my mom every 3 minutes to translate the Hindi dialogues for me. It was fun to watch Anil Kapoor’s antics and the kids’ cavorting all over the place. But when Sridevi appeared on the screen, it was something else! As I watched her boogie to ‘Hawa Hawai’ and play powerchick journalist with equal oomph, I was floored. And hey, she even got the superhero in the end!I was convinced - I wanted to be her.
The next day, as I played a little “Mirror Mirror on the wall” with my dressing table mirror just to double check , it said “You’re alright, except for the two bunny teeth jutting out of ur mouth” . Oh No!! I ran to the resident Bollywood expert, my mom – “Mommmm..Is there a heroine who doesn’t have err...perfect teeth?” . Not realizing how life changing her answer could have been , she replied casually “Hmm..yeah there is, Moushumi Chatterjee”. Phew! That was reassuring!

Interpreter - Soon, the heroine dream wore off . With my parents constantly motivating me and my siblings to excel in academics, I probably realized they wouldn’t be as excited about the Bollywood angle as I was! And excel , I kinda did. I topped my class most of the time in middle school, although there was the occasional underdog who would saunter in and beat me to first place! But I was unbeatable in languages. I top scored every single time in all three languages in the curriculum– English, Kannada and Hindi. My mom would beam with pride in the Parent-teacher meetings whenever my class teacher was all praise for my language scores. As we walked home from one of these meetings, she told me about these amazing people called interpreters. People who had a multitude of languages at their fingertips. People who accompanied hi-flying politicians, beaurocrats et al on foreign jaunts just to help them understand what another person was saying in another tongue. People who were paid 60 bucks(!) a page to translate a script to from one language to another! And it dawned upon me- I could be one of them- the high flying, money spinning multi linguist!

Housewife(!!) – I know I know, it ain’t a job. But it was a dream nonetheless! I was in class 8 when two completely unrelated events occurred – I fell head-over-heels in love with one of my bro’s pals and my cousin sister tied the knot. Her marriage was the stuff that dreams were made of. A typical day in her life consisted of lazing around home all day and getting decked up in the evenings for cotton candy/bhel puri outings with hubby. And then, the million and one phone calls from hubby during the day, where she’d blush as he whispered sweet nothings into the receiver. I wanted my own fairy tale too! I was yearning to lead the domesticated life, of course with my crush , happily ever after. All my smitten self just wanted was to emulate them! All of a sudden, housewifedom was happening!

Doctor – With time, my crush met with its fate. It was over. It just faded away, just like that!And I was back to dreaming about less rosy stuff. And this time, it was about the medical profession. At Class 11, all thanks to my great scores, it wasn’t hard for my Biology professor to believe I fitted the bill perfectly. While the rest of the class dozed off during lectures about the human digestive system, I would be listening with rapt attention in the very first bench. He’d exhibit my near perfect answer scripts for the entire class while I’d smugly smile at everyone from my seat.After Class 12, I even gave my medical entrance exams scoring twice as better as I did in the engineering entrance exam. But then, this was not to be either. My parents and everyone else in the family very successfully put a damper on my spirits when they scared me about how I’d be studying forever and ever and ever, while my peers who opted to study engineering would be having high flying careers, earning 10 times more!

And so I gave up. The doc dream was over too. And I made a half-hearted choice. To be an engineer.The irony hadn’t ended just yet. I studied to be an electrical engineer and ended up in the software business!

Looking back, there aren’t any regrets. There is absolutely nothing I’d want to change. My job’s been empowering in a lot of ways-Given me the gift of self belief. Made me independent, well financially atleast. Given me the opportunity to travel. I even found myself a husband, while at it! I couldn’t have asked for more! Finally, I had ‘become’ something.

And I had ‘grown up’ as well. I’d learnt to judge what was best for me. Realised that what you want changes with time, as you evolve as a person.That you weigh out pros and cons and make a well-informed decision. Acknowledged that your parents know best and letting them decide for you isn’t a bad idea after all. Concluded that ‘Everything that happens, happens for your good” is not just a cliché but a fact of life as well.

So, what did you want to be when you ‘grew’ up?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bus Chronicles

As a teenager, I'd always be chided by my mom and aunts for my aversion towards travelling by public transport buses.

Of course, the older generation was a strong advocate of the public transport BTS bus, thanks to all the money it saved, in comparison to an autorickshaw.

During outings, while my mom would still be deciding between a BTS bus and an autorickshaw , I’d jump into the first autorick I’d spotted, leaving my mom much displeased about her spoilt daughter’s ways! Unlike my mom, it was an easy choice for me. Why the drudgery of a crowded bus when travelling is a breeze with an autorick? One of my aunts even gave me the nick “Auto Rani” as a tribute to my fancy for the three wheeler!

Apparently, my behaviour did not go down very well with the Bus Gods. And I was cursed.

When my husband and I,(who work for the same company) returned to India last year from the US, we found out that our office had shifted base to a tech. park more than 20 km away from our home. The traffic during peak hours in Namma Bengaluru can take the wind out of your sails on any given day. And I wasn’t gonna let my husband, G, brave the crazy traffic everyday by driving to work!
Much to my dismay, I learned that, the most pragmatic mode of transport was – yes, you guessed it – The Bus!

And so, the journey began. Literally and otherwise.

Initially, I’d get all riled up with the unrelenting traffic jams. A good hour and a half spent each way ate up the better part of our weekday hours outside office. Here I was, spending all my evenings in a stupid bus, instead of, at home, with my family or with friends.A nagging lower backache cropped up. The sheer boredom of having to sit through the unending commute was killing me, day in and day out. All in all it just made me want to pull all my hair and scream "Bus Karo!"

But as the cliche goes- every cloud has a silver lining. And did I find mine? You bet!

-I discovered the FM Radio- my steadfast travel companion. Nothing better than starting your day with music,they say, and what's better, I even get to end mine, the same way! The RJs on Radio City, Mirchi,Radio One et al,albeit a little annoying at times, are great company.

-Sometimes,people seated close to me drive me nuts with loud conversations on their cellphone,specially when my fave song's on.But then, when I turn off the radio, turns out their conversations are a lot more fun! Once there was a guy seated behind me, who was having a telephonic brawl with his wife. He was screaming his lungs out at her when the journey started. I was so worried that I might not get to know who won in the end ,if I had to get off the bus before him. But then, much to mine and everybody else's (every single soul in the bus could hear him) relief, he made up with her on the phone itself(!) in the end, cooing little "I love you"s furtively, in end! Awww..:)

-The "cold war" between me and this pretty young thing in the bus stop. It all began, one day when the bus pulled in to the stop, and as I started my ascent up the stairs, Ms.PYT came running. Pushing me aside rudely, she made her way into the bus. As I stood there, apalled by this boorish act, she turned around and smiled at me. Hello? I was kinda expecting a s-o-r-r-y?. And what was this hurry for? She wanted to make sure she found a seat in the bus next to her best bus friend! :-o So, when I see her in the stop, I somehow get into the bus before she does and promptly help myself to a seat adjacent to her best bus buddy. Hah!

-The apartment complex of my dreams, that's still under construction, falls on the way. I peer outside the window to catch a glimpse everyday. I've been kinda tracking the progress keenly everyday,not once thinking about the astronomical real estate prices! And if G's also traveling with me that day, I nudge him and say "Look Look,they've started building the second wing" and he replies without even looking at it and with a reassuring smile- "Oh yes baby, I promise we'll have a house there someday". Makes my day!:)

-When I spot two hundred people squeezed into a public transport BTS bus, travelling alongside ours on the Bangalore roads. Sitting pretty in our exclusive tech park bus, where a crowd is almost unheard of, I feel compelled to thank my stars.

-When G falls asleep on my shoulder during the commute, at the end of a tiring day in office. They say its a priceless feeling to have your baby fall asleep in your arms.I don't have a baby yet,but I'm pretty sure, what I feel at that moment is kinda close.

-The long conversations with G, if we're on the same bus. Our dialogue ranges from bitching about colleagues to discussing our college crushes.Its probably 'coz we have nothing else and nobody else to distract us during those 90 minutes!:) But then, isn't that a lot of quality time spent with each other? I know it is, specially when you are a working couple and live with your extended family.

And then things were never the same!

Sure, long commutes are not what you'd call exciting. Traffic still sucks. The lower back still hurts. The zero-social-weekdays still bother me.But I am glad about one thing – I’d learnt to make lemonade out of the proverbial lemons that life gave me. True to the spirit of the quintessential Bangalore catchphrase "Solpa Adjust Maadi" (Please adjust a little) - I'd learnt to do just that- adjust. The journey has taught me to appreciate the little joys that cross your path so quietly, and be grateful for them. It has made me realise that throwing a fit and cribbing endlessly take you nowhere. It's taught me that a little patience is all it takes.

Now, only if the Bus Gods smile upon me and my office shifts base again to closer home!:)

From the other side of the table

“Fresher recruitment drive on Sunday. Calling interviewers for tech. panel”
When I saw this e-mail from HR, I went ‘Yeah right! Ruin a weekend over recruitment? More so, a long weekend? Bah!” Not that I’d planned a vacay to Goa or something, but the “Bah!” was still the loudest word in that sentence I said in my head.

Now, hitting the delete button on any group mail from HR is almost a reflex action for me. They range from stuff on Creative Workspace awards to lectures from the resident doc on back pain! Or about sports club meetings and Women’s day celebrations in the company. Most of which, never holds my interest beyond the first few lines anyway.
I know what u’re thinking. No No, I ain’t the nerdy types who sits and stares at the monitor all day long, while getting up from the chair only to take bathroom breaks. But I ain’t exactly an enthu cutlet either !

So, hit the delete button I did. And the pop-up message that followed did its usual KBC on me– “Are you sure?” it asked .
That was when the visions of my annual goal-sheet crossed my mind. That little one page document which decides my performance rating which in turn decides my salary thru the year which in turn decides how much will be left after my EMI eats up a sizeable chunk which in turn decides how much will go into the savings for my dream vacation which in turn decides how much I get to splurge on completely unnecessary clothes and shoes which in turn…whoa!

One of the things that your manager always does in my company is to set a goal about having contributed in “outside the call of duty” activities like participation in cultural activities or recruitment. Now, singing and dancing is not exactly my cup of tea, so recruitment was a lot more do-able.

And what’s never happened so far with a HR group mail happened. I hit the reply button.

On Sunday, as I stepped into the interview venue a little late , I was kinda overwhelmed by the huge crowd of software wannabes gathered outside. But then, I was relieved, knowing I ain’t one of them anymore. The view from the “other side” was kinda nice. No butterflies in the stomach , No last minute resume reviewing, No last minute mugging, No running to every person that got interviewed before you with a “What’d they ask? What’d they ask?” as soon as he steps out of the door!
All of ‘em freshies looked a lil too preoccupied with themselves doing one or all of the above , until I fished out my company id card from my bag and wore it. That was it. The banter suddenly died down and I was greeted with admiring glances and smiley “Hello” s !
I felt like this ‘khadoos’ professor walking into a noisy classroom.
Wow! And I always thought of my id card as no better than a glorified leash?

I was initially asked to form a panel with one another guy (let’s call him A). Some small talk with this guy, and I discovered we both had worked on similar technologies. So, that meant we couldn’t get away asking actually dumb questions, but still making ‘em sound fancy to each other!


First guy walks in nervously
Freshie – “Good afternoon sir, Good afternoon ma’am”
A – "Hey call me A man, don’t have to call me sir"
Me (in my head) – “Yeah right, he’s gonna call u A. The poor guy already looks jittery enough , don’t scare him! “
A – “I see you’ve got C on your resume. Tell me, how would you rate your C programming skills on a scale of 1 to 10?”
Freshie (still jittery) – “Err.. .5 sir.”
A (eyebrows forming high arches) – “Just 5? And you are an electronics engineer??”
Freshie looks heartbroken.
Me (still trying to figure out the connection between electronics engineering and above average C skills) – “Uh okay, can you tell us what a preprocessor directive in C is?”
Freshie answers correctly.
Me (pleased) – “Okay can you tell me when you use arrays and when you use structures?”
By now, freshie has calmed down quite a bit and is taking every question head on.
A - “Okay we are done with ur interview, do you have any questions for us now?”
Freshie – “Yes sir , what is the difference between a CMM level 3 and a level 5 company?”
A (in his head) –“Darn! What did I put myself into??!”
A (aloud) – “Err..Umm..CMM expands to Capability Maturity Model..Err..Umm..”
Me (after having sadistically enjoyed A’s predicament for a while) “CMM is blah blah..”
A (To freshie) – “Yeah Yeah, that’s right, so are you clear?”
Freshie (looking at me) – “Yes sir , thanks for letting me know ma’am”
Freshie smiles at A and me and leaves. I bet he said a silent “Gotcha!” for A while he walked out.

A’s now seething , that he couldn’t get to grill the freshie and worse, got beaten up in the end. He pulls out his cellphone and frantically calls a geeky friend
“Yaar Sachin, C++ mein koi khatarnaak questions bol na,” ( Hey tell me some real tough questions in C++)
He jots down a few keywords like inheritance, polymorphism, encapsulation. And I am wondering if he knows anything about those words, other than their spellings?!

Next guy walks in

A (with a know-it-all smile ) - “Okay, u’ve got C++ on ur resume! How do you rate yourself? Can you tell me what polymorphism is?”
Freshie (firmly) - “Yes sir..I rate myself a 9/10” (proceeds to reply with the right answer)
A (cursing himself for giving him an easy one) : “Okay how about encapsulation?”
Freshie (firmly)- “Yes sir..” (proceeds to answer correctly)
A (getting restless) - “Okay how about inheritance?”
Freshie (couldnt have been firmer look)- “Sure sir “ (chimes in with the right answer)
A ( giving up and looking at me) - “ Do you have any questions? Go ahead..”
Me (ROFLing silently in my head )

Another guy

Me (all too enthu to ask first to avoid A’s “how-do-u-rate” charade) - “So what do you know about our company?”
Freshie (sounding like a kindergarten kid rattling off the table of six to a teacher ) - “ ABC is a very big s/w company. It was established on something something..It’s CEO is Mr. So and So. He joined the company on the date something something..”
Me (guffawing with laughter I just couldn’t control) - “Stop Stop, I don’t need an essay on our company.. “
Freshie (in his head) - “Damn! I spent a full half hour mugging up stuff right off their website and she doesn’t even let me finish?!”

After many rounds , I was asked to form a separate “panel” of just myself. I was only too glad to separate from Mr. Smart Aleck.

A “cool dude” walks in. Has 'Attitude' written all over him!

Me - “Could you explain a little about your final year project please?”
Freshie ( as animatedly as he can get) - “You know these switch control boards? They are placed inside every home right? But people don’t know how to use them? So we basically did this project to control them outside the buildings”
Me (after having lost him midway)- “What What What ? And can you give me some technical details?”
Freshie (very matter-of-factly) - “ Well, I didn’t do much in this project, I cant tell you the technical details and stuff..sorry”
Me - ”Okay what was your fave subject in college?”
Freshie (pauses for a long time) - “Hmm..Operations Research”
Me - “So what did u enjoy learning in OR?”
Freshie (very matter-of factly again) - “Oh I don’t remember”
Me (almost said it) - “What the…??”

A real ayyo-paapa looking gal walks in. She’s real nervous and I notice she’s even sweating.

Me (trying to ease her up ) - “Well, don’t be nervous, I won’t ask you very difficult questions”
She (wiping the sweat off her face) - “Ma’am I haven’t eaten since the morning and its 4 now..I am really tired”
Me (to myself) :”Oh No Missy! Don’t u try melting me!”
I swear I almost wanted to recommend her and push her to a restu right away!

Another girl,

Me (at the end of the interview) : “So any questions for me?”
She (very seriously) : “Yes, I am interested in knowing about different products of your company?”
Me (mentioning a software product that we recently sold to a US based bank) “ We have products for all domains – Insurance, Banking ..”
She (still very seriously) “ No, I was asking about salt, cars and soaps etc that your company makes”
Me (aghast, but wondering if she's trying to pull a fast one on me) “ Uh..sure the parent organization has companies that make those, but u are being interviewed for a position in our software services company, not elsewhere”
I thwacked myself for almost recommending her.

And after many many interviews, an eventful day came to an end.

As I headed back home, a thought drifted across my mind.

A vacay in Goa? Wouldn’t have been half as fun!:)