A freaky , nearing-40 moment is it ?

It was a regular Friday afternoon with kids at school, husband at work and me at home trying to convince myself with a 1001 reasons ‘why not to go to the gym ‘ . As usual there were piles of clothes in the laundry room…no actually all over the house ranging from ‘just washed ‘ to ‘must wash’ , the kitchen sink overflowing with dishes as usual , no lunch made as usual . And as usual I sat down on the couch with the remote .
All was well until I decided to click on a playlist of romantic Bollywood songs from the 90’s . Songs from Aashiqui , Sadak , Dil hai Ke maanta nahin, Saajan, QSQT and the likes . There was Amir looking at Juhi in a way no one has ever looked at me . Salman, floored by Madhuri’s beauty made weird pelvic movements in an oversized coat. Rahul Roy crooned about the necessity of having a lover to fall in love ( whatever that means ).Even Sunil Shetty singing praises of the beauty of his lady love made me smile.
And then disaster struck .Or should I say the hormones just went bonkers  . As the songs kept churning out one after the other, the eyes filled to the brim , the heart became heavy , like really physically heavy , the throat had a lump and within 5 minutes there I was ,sitting on the couch and howling like a 5 year old who has just dropped his/ her ice cream and has been denied another .
The feeling is indescribable in one word . A mix of an yearning so strong of some ‘long lost love ‘ , a longing for the years gone, a helpless sense of time ticking away .
Is this normal when you’re nearing 40’s, just regular mid life crisis?
Is this just an afternoon when nostalgia
decides to strike in all its force? And that makes you think of every crush that you ever had ?
Is it an absolute lack of romance in life ? A need that’s been building up for years and now wisdom and the mirror tells you that it’s never going to be met ? A realization that sometimes hits you in the gut.
Is it because of a marriage that has been reduced to nothing ? Hey wait , before you get ideas and get the gossip wagon rolling , let me correct you . The good husband is not at fault here . It’s me and my obsession with friends that has done the irreparable damage . Someone calls me at 1 in the night and I jump to receive the call . I spend night after night listening to problems and finding a solution . I see my husband lonely , breaking inside but I can’t reach out to him because my ‘Viber ‘ , ‘ watsapp ‘ and mailbox beckons to me with a power I can’t deny . But I digress here . My failed marriage probably deserves the respect of a full length blog .
Coming back , is it a lack of purpose in life that got me all teary today ?I never really had any sky high ambitions for me , but it wasn’t as pathetic as my current situation
Or am I just going crazy and need to see some shrink immediately ?
Or maybe it’s a Freaky Friday … My mom just forwarded a ‘ Sunny Leone ‘ joke on Watsapp. Followed by a whole lot of ‘rofl’ emoticons .

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And I also kill….

Yes, a murder had been committed and I was the one to do it. Accidentally and unwittingly. But murder I did . Filled with remorse, I even shed a tear or two once I realized the magnitude of my crime, but remorse or not, the fact remains that I was responsible for the tragic demise. It happenend in a split of a second and before I could apply the brakes ..
THUDDDD !!!
I had hit a wild rabbit crossing the road. It was around midnight and I was coming back home from university, after picking up the kids from a friend’s place.
Rabbits, I later learnt cannot see very well in the dark. And neither can I. It’s a matter of sheer luck that I happened to be behind the wheel , and not Mr.Bunny.
“Mummum ….what was that noise , did you hit something? ”
“Ummmm yes …..I think it was a rabbit..”
“Nooooooooooooooo…..you killed it ?? How could you uuuuu uuuuu ? ”
“Miniiii I did not do it on purpose ….it was an accident. ”
“We have to go back and try to save it.”
Given that I was driving at around 40m/hr and the loud thud that followed, I knew that there was no saving it. But of cos you can’t tell that to an already wailing 9 year old. The only right thing to do was to go back and check. And be a model citizen , mother, human being.
Beanie, who to my surprise had been unusually quiet all this time ,now spoke . I realised the silence was because he was preparing the questionnaire. The proverbial lull before the storm .
“Was it a white rabbit?”
“Ummm ..I don’t know..
“With long ears?”
“Yes ”
“Was it eating a carrot?”
“Noooo”
“Why? Rabbits eat carrots. ”
“Did you hit him with the car?”
“Is the car broken?”
“Shut uppppppp ” !!!
“Shut up is a bad word, Mummum”
And so the cursing, murdering mommy reached the scene of crime. I realized my best bet was to reason it out with the heartbroken 9 year old.
“Mini, listen to me …it’s 12.30 now …really late ..and I think it’s …uuu…umm..dead …”
“Don’t say that Mummummmmm mmmmm”
“Mini , stop crying please…my saying or not saying will not make things different. Let’s go home.”
“But we just cant leave it here. We have to do something.”
“Ok. Let’s go home first. And then we can look up on the internet and find out what we should do. Ok ?”
“But are you sure Mummum, that it is dead?”
“Yes it is dead.”
And that gives Beanie a chance to continue from where he stopped.
‘Is dead a bad word,Mummum?”
No, it’s not Beanie. It is a fantastic word to say and a wonderful state to be in . No, I don’t say this aloud .
Reaching home , we googled ‘ what to do when you hit a rabbit with your car ” , and it turned out that a wild rabbit did not come under the animal law, and there was no mention of what should be done .
Mini was still wailing, which was bad and Beanie was still questioning which was worse .By the way, any of you wondering about the missing dad ? He was with his second family in Japan, where spends one week every month . The other 3 weeks he connects with them emotionally and spiritually from his home in California. Who said anything about Japanese wives not being demanding?
Anyway the point is that the wailing and questioning kids were essentially my responsibility. The best thing to do was to put them to bed in this situation . If you ask me the best thing to do is to put them to bed in any situation , and that’s what I proceeded to do.
The wailing had now subsided into sobs and I thought all was good when there was a fresh bout.
“What happened? ”
“Are they going to take u away tomorrow? Even Baba is not here !”
“What ? Who will take me away?”
“The cops, Mummum ..you killed somebody … The cops will take you awayyyyyy …ayyyyy”
“Nooo…. Co-o-ops will not take me away ”
“But why not ? You killed ittt …..tttt
“Ok, now listen to me, we saw on the net right? .Hitting a rabbit is a common thing …and it happens all the time …and you don’t go to prison for it …”
“Can I do a funeral for the rabbit tomorrow morning?”
“Ofcos ….that would be a really nice thing to do”, I said , donning my ‘american mom’ avatar.
Kids in bed, I sit down with a drink and my stash of murder/ crime movies on Netflix . But strangely, the crime movies make me feel a wee bit weird. And so I settle for Anjan Chowdhury’s “Mejo Bou”!
At 7 in the morning, the animal activist wakes me up. I’ve said this before and I will say it again, 7 in the morning is a time of the day that I don’t like to see. Seeing the sun anytime before 10 is unhealthy and could prove detrimental to my health in the long run. This is an official diagnosis.
“Mummum, can you please come down for the funeral?”
“Funeral? What funeral? Oh…”
And the thud, the wailing, the guilt, all comes back to me.
There was no way I could not attend that funeral. It was in the backyard. Two baby carrots and a glass of water. My heart was ‘melting melting almost melted’, till I saw the tombstone.
THE RABBIT THAT MY MOTHER KILLED
BORN…not known
DEAD 12th august 2016.
“Can I call my friends today, to see the funeral?”
“Nooooooo …..please no…Mini ..Beanie has a playdate today and we’ll also go out for lunch and icecream . Please let this funeral be only for us.”
The rest of the day passes like it should. With occassional refrences to the murder and a hush everytime a cop car siren is heard in the distance.
We are driving to Beanie’s playdate that afternoon. The neighborhood is new to me and I notice quite a few signs saying ” Keep the kids alive.”
“Mummum, do you see those signs? What does it mean ?”
“It’s asking people to drive slowly and carefully.”
“Oh …..I’ve never seen signs like that before.”
“Yes …it’s pretty innovative.”
Beanie, who never misses a chance to do what the big sis is doing ,looks out and pretends to read, “Keep the kids alive”.
And the big sis ofcos, never misses a chance to start a fight.
“Beanie ….you can’t read a word …stop pretending!”
“Noooo……I can read ..keep… the..kids… alive …see ?
“Ok ..read that sign over there “, says mini , pointing to some randon sign on the road.
Beanie pauses for a minute and then exclaims,
“I know.. it says ” keep the kids alive and don’t keep the rabbits alive.”
Ouch !!! Ouch !!! Ouch !!!!

Gymming Shymming ….The Horror, The Horror !!!

She kept looking at me and gave me one of those angelic smiles from time to time. A really cute little girl in the line at the cash counter a few days back. Now usually, I am not a favorite with kids and senior citizens. There is something about me which makes me very dislikable to these two groups.
So I was rather surprised at this little girl following me with her curious eyes and bestowing these smiles on me.
I smiled back. She was adorable with her pink cheeks and blue eyes and long shiny hair with all sorts of hair clips on it . (Hello hello , I am just describing this little girl ,stating facts …please do not find a subtext where the author is implying that fair skin, blue eyes and long hair are the standards of beauty. Please .No.)
Anyway I begin to think that there is probably a mutual admiration and just as I find her cute…may be may be ..you never know right ??? Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder and all that !
It’s a long queue and after some time, it’s obvious that she wants to say something .
I smile again and say ‘hi’ encouraging her to say what she wants to. I was pretty certain it would be something nice.
“Do you have a baby in there?” she asks pointing a finger at my tummy.
Pink cheeked, blue eyed monster !!!! Horrid little imp!!
“Oh I am so sorry ‘ chirps the mother, who by the way looks straight out of those ‘Guide to healthy living ‘magazines .
“She’s always asking that to …”
Yeah.. go on lady! complete it ..Asking it to who ? To women with huge bellies??
“It’s ok ,its fine”, I say. For a second, I think of playing along as the pregnant lady.
I thank my lucky stars, that I didn’t. I had almost forgotten that I was accompanied by the hideous 8 year old.
“Noooo she does not have a baby in there . She just has a big tummy “. That was my beloved Mini, who just had to say the truth, and nothing but the whole fatty truth.
The mom, of course embarrassed ,but a thousand times more amused than embarrassed smiles politely. I can almost see her making a mental note of recounting this entire episode to her friends and husband over dinner, stuffing her face with those horrid greens.
If any of you are having some thoughts, be assured, Mini is doing fine. There was no ‘thaash thaash’.
But it made me revisit my fatless days, when I was nicknamed Batashi, meaning one who would fly away with the wind. When every visit to the tailor would have Masterji asking me without fail if I was not keeping well and why I was so reed thin. When I would hunt the newspapers for ‘how to gain weight’ articles. When a certain young man who would come to hone my skills in Math, drew a big circle sitting on top of a line, and said that was me. The proverbial ‘kaathir mathay alur dom’. ( potato on a stick)
But wallow in self pity and live in the past I will not .
So I enroll in a gym. Something that I am not at all cut out for. Something at which all my past attempts have miserably failed. Something that makes me want to cry. Something for which try as hard as I may, I have never been able to motivate myself.
No, it could not be just gym this time. It had to be gym with a personal trainer.
If nothing, that sounds pretty happening, na ? Celebrity types.
I enroll and after all the male trainers declare themselves unavailable for the time slot that I chose, I am put under a female trainer. She seems nice enough.
The body analyzing machine does what it has to and I am told that I’m a lot better than many other ladies of my age, who she trains. Just when I am about to express surprise and say that is great news she elaborates,
“You are just into the obese category …but we will get you going for sure!”
I am put on the treadmill and the ordeal begins. It’s frustrating that I cannot manage a speed higher than 3.2. Its heartbreaking that I look like a hapless hippo in the mirrors all around me . Its gets downright unbearable when through the glass doors I see a bevy of gorgeous happy giggly young ladies ,walk by hogging their ice creams.
I look around for some feel good factor, hoping to see a good number of
aunty jis, huffing and puffing it out. Hoping that maybe a comparison of my obese butt with other more obese butts, might translate into a happy feeling. To my utter dismay, there was only one huffing puffing aunty ji in the entire gym …and that was me.
Who are these ladies and why are they here I wonder, looking at those perfectly toned slim bodies, sweating it out.
After what seemed forever, my trainer now gets me to do the workout with her.
By then, what should have been the warm up had already evaporated all my strength and enthusiasm.
10 mins into the 30 minute session, I plead her to let me go.
But she refuses to.
“Let’s do a workout for the lower part now. I can see that we need to work on that.”
Now I agree with her and I take pride in having a sense of humor , but did she really have to say it within hearing distance of this super gorgeous stud doing weird things with weights ???
And then it was time for the ‘burpees’. At least that’s what I think she said. It’s a little complicated to explain here, what a ‘burpee’ actually is. To keep things short, lets just say after 3 rounds, my trainer had transformed into Nana Patekar of Prahaar and I was one of those helpless military boys in training !!!!!
Seeing that I am almost about to give up , my trainer tries to make conversation.
“What are your plans for the wekend ? It is going to be nice and sunny …
And I know what she means when she says that the weather is going to be gorgeous that weekend. She probably sees people go hiking, biking, running, walking and so on and so forth. She has no clue about the royal Bangali blood flowing with all its gluttony in me. That when I think of plans for the weekend, I see a red-red-oil-floating-on-top-mutton- curry, I see luchi, I see asking the hubby to get some jalebis, and I see myself nicely perched on the couch, blanket and all, hogging on a tub of ice cream and Netflix.
Why go through this pain,I ask myself. Why not just eat drink and be merry? So what if you look like a hippo ? Who cares and what for? I had almost managed to be successful in ‘How to demotivate yourself in 6 questions’, when as if by some divine intervention, my phone rings . It’s our house agent calling. Typical Ekta Kapoor style, it seems to be the answer to all my questions.
Now if I might provide some background knowledge here. This house agent of ours, is one delectable young man. He makes me wish that there was some law that ensured that if you buy the house, the agent is all yours. Alas!
Greg asks me if we are free to see a house that evening.
I tell him that the hubby probably has some work, but I could go . Not a problem at all.
You know, an hour of working out does infuse in you an enthusiasm, a confidence, a feel good factor. And just when I was feeling all pumped up and all, Greg replied with a flat ‘No’. As in, he’d rather wait for Prantik.
What could be more heart-breaking ? More ego-flattening?
Did he not see the pain I was putting myself through? Did he not see the unbearable torture I was willing to make a part of my life?
I had even suggested that I could leave the kids with a friend and come and take a good look. At the house, that is.
But of course , the nail in the coffin had to, had to come from the man in the house .
“One can tell that you have been working out”, he says, as I plonk myself on the sofa, a huge mass of jell-o.
“Really ???? Ki kore janli?” I ask, genuinely hoping that maybe, just maybe, the jell-o had begun to look firm in places.
” Ga theke pocha ghemo ghemo gondho betochche, tai ”
( yes, I will translate …it means, from you coming rotten sweaty sweaty smell )
Wonderful ! Wonderful !

Of first love…..

No, I haven’t watched Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo and never will. In fact I think I have not watched most of his films post Hum Aapke Hain Kaun. No, I do not think that he is a great actor. Ok ok … I do not think him to be even a mediocre actor. No, I do not go bonkers on his birthday and pour out my love on FB! If it weren’t for the the very erudite Times of India, I wouldn’t even remember the date. And no, I am not rejoicing or celebrating his recent acquittal.
And no, I don’t go all gooey when I see him on screen now. But, let the truth be told, once upon a time,long long back in history…I did.
There was a time when I experienced inexpressible emotions at the mere sight of this man on screen. Inexpressible and Unspeakable. Oh, I have recently confessed to harboring these very intense unspeakable thoughts about this MTV guy, Ranvijay Singh. But that is in all probability the dirty mid life hormones acting up. A very different “unspeakable” from those ethereal, delightful longings of a pimply teenager.
I know…..some of you are now probably in the “what?-about-salman-khan?-Really?-Is she crazy?-Has she nothing else to write about?” zone, but …..but ….first love tha yaar, ek post to banta hai !!!!
Please don’t cringe. Please stay awhile and read on…..this is not entirely about the man. It is about some memories and some emotions that a lot of us would identify wdith. And who know ….it just might put a smile on your face.
No prizes for guessing …Maine Pyaar Kiya was when it all began. Gooey is the word. And every single time I would rewind the video cassette and watch it again, I just became more and more….ummmm …’gooier’!!
Those days once a year ( sometimes twice, if it was a very good year), Baba would rent a video player and I was allowed to choose one recent Hindi movie. Even as I write this, I can feel that inexplicable joy those 3 days of movie fest brought with it. To be allowed to choose a movie and then being allowed to see it as many times as you want !!!! Heaven!! It was like I was transported to the coveted land of stars and it was my time with them . Of course, since it was my father’s era and he was in control, it also meant that the Shatrughan Sinhas and Ranjit Mullicks were also a part of that coveted land.
The day the ‘video kaku’ came to take away the machine was a day of mourning. There would be fervent prayers that he be as late as possible and Maa and I would relish every minute of ‘extra viewing’ time.
What simple pleasures of life, what incomparable joys ! We have a Netflix account at home and so on movie days Mini can actually choose one from thousands of titles. Poor girl ! I guess she will never know or feel the joys I am talking about. The curse of the super-privileged life kids have now .
Ok, back to my first love. Once the love was established firm and strong, the poster and postcards phase began. There was a shop in Gariahat which would be my haunt. Almost every day after school. Flipping through the postcards, drooling at the posters and asking the lady in the shop a hundred times, “dekho na notun kichu eshche kina“!! ( can u please check if any new postcards have come?)
The posters were about Rs.20 and not what I could afford. So postcard it was.
Every single variety that the shop had, I got it. In a corner of the bottommost drawer of my study chest they would stay. The most magical corner of my life then.
And sometimes they would come out. When it was a bad day at school. When Baba refused to buy me the latest hindi movie audio cassette. When I felt ugly looking at the reed thin, pimply teenager in the mirror. When Baba would be in one of his bad moods and shout at Maa. Out they would come. And amidst tears and sobs I would tell him how I longed to be with him. How he was the only one for me. And how perfect life would be for us, away from everything around me that I despised.
Ofcourse , they came out in happy moments too. That was when I would just put them all over the bed and then roll over them. Yes yes, just like we see it in the movies.
In the next few years, the love grew stronger and bolder. The postcards were now plastered all over my bedroom wall.
By then, I had risen in life. I now possessed one of those huge posters.
Baba was not an easy going man when it came to certain things in life. He never could comprehend or grasp the normal passions a teenager goes through. He didn’t know how to ignore all this, didn’t realise that this was only a passing phase. a phase that probably every teenager goes through. So what started as a light ‘ barita paan birir dokan baniye pheleche ‘ ( she is turning the house to a ‘paan’ shop) slowly began to take a serious turn. My mother, the eternal peace maker convinced me to take them down. And so I did.
But like they say ‘lou’ always finds a way. And I wasn’t quite the girl who could be easily tamed, not my mother’s daughter in this respect. So down from the wall they came and up on the door they went. The back of the door . I gathered all my guts and reasoned with Baba that since now the “paan birir dokan” could only be seen by me, when the door was closed, he shouldn’t complain anymore. And just like the Amrish Puris, and Anupam Khers in the last scene, he didn’t . And so my love got to stay. On the back of the door that is.
It was Baba’s Maa, my grandmother, who took this affair very seriously. Nana was a sweet heart and had a delightful sense of humor. She would ask me all about him and his movies and if he was up to something with his heroines and would patiently sit through all that I had to tell her. Not just patient , she seemed genuinely interested. Nana won my heart completely when on one Jamai Shashti, she took the hand fan, put all the dubbo and diya , and what not on it, went straight to the poster and did what Bengali ladies with married daughters were doing to their son-in-laws all through the land. Some ritual of moving the hand fan in circular motions in front of them while chanting some mumbo jumbo. I remember how tightly I had hugged her that day.
Dadu, on the other hand was very very conservative and by then he was not keeping well and not quite in control of his mental faculties . And Nana knew just how to bother him. She would put on a look of grave concern and tell him that his granddaughter was having an affair with “a man named Khan”. Now, these are troubled times and so I will not risk writing the outburst that this information drew from my poor unsuspecting dadu. I’m sure that isn’t too difficult to guess. What fun afternoons would those be !
This bond that started with Maine Pyar Kiya, lasted through Hum Aapke Hain kaun. After that something went amiss. May be it was just age, maturity , or the kind of movies that he was doing then, but the blazing fire had became a tiny flame. Oh and also by then a little man , who spoke with a piece of wood held in his hand had gained complete control of my senses. But more about him some other time.

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The ‘returns’ of the Desis !!

At a friends place, a gathering of quite a few people. I had not met this lady before but since we happenned to be sitting next to each other, I was trying my best to make conversation. A skill that I obviously lack. But in this case it wasnt that difficult. She was the talkative type, asking a lot of questions and also had a lot to say. And yes, when you have kids around the same age, then ( to my utter horror), talking about what they do, and what they dont do, and why they do what they do and why they dont do what they dont do and what they should be doing, quiet easily becomes the favorite topic.
“I miss India very much, but there are so many things here that are so good …that makes me stay back !”
I nod, and genuinely agree to what she is saying .
” Just look at all the things that is happening in India … So unsafe … Here i feel it is much more safe …”
” Yes , definitely “, I say, and nod my head again .
“And then there is corruption. The last time I visited India, from the autowalla to the shopkeeper …you call a plumber , your driver everybody wants to cheat you.
“Hmmmm”
“There are just no ..honest people ….in every profession also , people are so unethical.”
And because she was a stranger and because she did not seem to be the kind of lady I would like to have a debate with and also because I was hungry and had begun to visualize the food all set out, I nodded again, wanting her to stop.
But she went on about how she finds people are more honest here , and how sad she feels when she sees all the dishonesty in India.
Enter her daughter. Wearing one of those long princess gowns with a hundred roses sewn on them.
Now, if I am bad at making converstaion with adults, I am a disaster when it comes to kids. But since I am trying to be a better person, and because I wanted to change the topic, I came up with,”wow!! that’s a lot of roses on your dress.”
“Oh …she wanted this dress so badly …threw such a tantrum yesterday at the store , just had to buy it ..and she already has so many gowns like this.”
I seriously needed to get some food now. Quite obviously the conversation was getting quite unbearable for me, and at my age, given my current mental disposition, crap is not what I will sit and listen to.
But the Lady Guardian of honesty and ethics, had something more to add, and that did make me sit right there and stare at her for sometime .
” I just bought this dress to calm her …let her wear for one or two occasions, and then I will return it !!!! ”
Really ? After all that talk about honesty from the pedestal? And how India was teeming with dishonest people? And how there was nothing called ethics anymore ? And how everybody in India was a cheat and how heartbreaking that was for her ?
I stared at her for a while and then in what would be considered to be pretty rude, got up to fill my plate. Had I not been practicing tolerance , there was a strong desire to get physically violent.
And unfortunately, she is not the only one .
The return policy is fantastic here and that is undeniably wonderful. You buy a crate of apples, you taste one and you dont like it; it is perfectly acceptable to return it.
You buy clothes and you try them at home, you don’t like it …go ahead and return. I do that often. I do not always have the luxury of trying out clothes in the fitting room and that’s why I am so thankful that the return policy here makes things so easy for me.
And then there are products, that tell you to use them for sometime and if you are not satisfied, you are well within your rights to return it.
But what is deplorable is when you buy a deplorable dress because your 8 year old
insists and you let her wear it for a few days and then return it !
What is disgusting is when you buy a heater, use it in the cold days, and with the first signs of spring ,you hop skip and jump to the store to return it!
What is unacceptable is when you buy a suit for an interview and then return it once you are done.
What is pathetic is when you buy a warm coat because your darling hubby has planned the most romantic trip to Paris, and then when you come back from the trip, loaded with Louis Vuittons and Chanels, the first thing you do is return the coat!! Even before you upload the 2568 photos of you , your hubby and your pout!
Oh! The above examples are not random. With a little safety twist or two, it is mostly true.
“All the shops are rentals and I will happily borrow”, seems to be the working principal.
For god’s sake do you ever look at yourselves in the mirror ? What kind of example are you setting for your kids? Does this thought even occur to you?
And please don’t don’t don’t console yourself by saying that these big companies are making millions and they don’t care if I return stuff and so its ok to fleece them once in a while. Can you hear yourself ? Please, please stop.
And the funny thing is, all this return business is not done in a hush hush way. It is done with a sense of birthright, and often with a sense of achievement. They will ask you why you don’t do it , will make you feel like a fool for not doing it and then insist that you do it.
” Arre kuch nahi hota hai! ” ,is one standard thing they say .
Bahut kuch hota hai, par tum nei samjhoge , cheapo ! Yes, I have been practicing this line for sometime now and I am determined to not let the next opportunity pass.
Without a doubt, I’m going to offend quite a few people with this post . But while that is not really my intention, I am not here to please either. This is really something that has been bothering me for quite some time now and so I decided to write about it . I don’t mean to be preaching here ,but sometimes there is a right and wrong and you cannot ignore that.
Seriously, if things continue in this way , the day is not far when one will buy chicken , and then cook chicken and if chicken curry not taste good ….back to Costco we go !

All you need to know about kisses and crushes and …playboys !

The summer vacations are here. The long summer vacations. Let me be a bit more expressive here….the extremely and unnecessarily and painfully long summer vacations have begun. And all is not good with life.
There’s the 3 year old waking up in the morning and asking you a hundred times “ekhon ki daytime?”, “Night time na?”, “Night time ki office e geche?” “ekhon keno daytime?”
Yes, it’s cute and bearable the first time, but when the questions play on a loop….NOOOOO! And that being dealt with, it is “aami ki ready hoye school e jabo?’. The more you try to explain that it is summer vacations now( to the utter misfortune of both parties involved), the worse the situation gets.
To be fair, one can understand Beanie being a pain with the regular tantrums of a three year old and his extraordinary lack of intelligence, but it’s just unbelievable the number of questions, opinions, negotiations, suggestions and tantrums an 8 year old can have.
Now I do the best I can, which I will admit isn’t much but there’s just this avalanche of questions and opinions that will smother you from to time . Makes me wonder if 8 is the new teen.
And all you people out there who are now thinking on the lines of “what tantrums could possibly an eight year old, and especially Mini throw ?”, heres my polite suggestion …Go and take a walk on the moon.
This was yesterday . A tabasco bottle broke sometime in the morning . And somebody found it extremely difficult to eat lunch , because the room smelt too spicy ! Yes, you heard me right .the room SMELT spicy !!! One of those moments when you experience an uncontrollable urge to toss her in one of those huge trash cans beckoning to you from the backyard.
But amongst all these tantrums, are those mini conversations that I so so cherish.
Was listening to Denver’s ‘Leaving on a jet plane’,the other morning.
Should you be listening to that song mummum?
What ?
I dont think you should be playing that song with me and Beanie here..
What are you talking about ?
Ummm..it has some adult words !!!
Ki? Ki adult word ?
It says ‘kiss’ mummum…
Racking my brains to come up with a cool mommy answer, I say ‘well kiss is not an adult word , I kiss you and Beanie..you kiss Beanie ..so why should that be an adult word?
Mini looks at me with an expression I cant quite explain. Kind of like the one I give Beanie, when he tries to put on his pants all wrong.
‘Mummum’ ,she says with that weird look and voice , ‘kiss can be an adult word….I don’t want to talk about it……you should ask Baba !
So saying she walks off ,muttering some other such pearls of wisdom to herself .
Then there was the ‘ crush’ episode sometime back.
‘Mumummum , they were teasing me in class today.”
‘Oh! Why?’ I ask, faking concern.
‘Sooooo we have this eraser, and on side there is a ‘Yes’ and on the other a ‘No’ …and we ask a question and then we throw the eraser to see what the answer is’
‘ Wow! That sounds like fun’ ( bored to death)
‘Sooooo…..today …somebody asked does Nathan have a crush on Neetra , and then when we threw the eraser, it said “yes” . And so everybody was teasing me.
At this point, I have nothing to say. But I must say something I realise.
‘Ummm….what is a crush by the way?
‘ It is like when u really, specially love somebody ..like , not love but almost love! ‘
‘Oh! What is there to tease about it ! You love Aarin, don’t you? So it’s like you have a crush on
her?
Noooooooooooo , mumum I cannot have a crush on another girl …it has to be a boy !!
Swallowing a couple of times, I continue to test waters, to see the depth of her knowledge.
So Beanie is a boy, and you love him …so you have a crush on him?
Swaying her head vehemently she says “Nooooo nooooo it has to be friend!!’
Ummm…ok Baba is my friend and he loves me , so he has a crush on me ?
Thinking for a while, she finally gives her opinion,
“No mummum, I don’t think so…crush is about young people.”
Needless to say, lesson learnt, I did not want to test waters any further .
And this was a few days back . A quite afternoon in a quiet neighborhood. Hooked on to X factor , I wanted to enjoy some private moments with Mr. Simon Cowell. And that is the “bubble time” or “popsicle time” when I shoo them off ( yes , not send but shoo , shoo is the word ) to the backyard for sometime. The afternoon I am talking about, it was bubble time (since I had devoured the last two popsicles the night before) .
So there was Beanie failing miserably at blowing bubbles.
“I am the bubble boy” says the super happy 3 year old.
Big sis, looks up, assesses the poor performance and ofcoz has to break his cheerful bubble.
“Hmmmm …you are no good at bubbles Beanie …you can just play silly games.
“Nooooo”, shrieks the 3 year old, “I am a bubble boy!
No, you’re not…you are just a…just a playboy.
And thus, the silence of that peaceful afternoon was shattered by the shrill voice of the 8 year old, running around the backyard screeching , “Beanie is a playboy Beanie is a playboy”, followed by the very loud voice of the 3 yr old, insisting, ‘ I don waaant to be a playboy! ‘
All mommy dear can do is plonk back on the couch. Telling her to not use the word would mean being interrogated and mommy is too tired for that.
And like they say every cloud has a silver lining. So mommy is just glad that this playboy conversation happened on the day they were blowing bubbles and not licking the popsicles.That sure feels like quite a relief !!! ( ok , the last two lines are for people with a daaarty mind and an equally daarty sense of humor , those who didn’t get it , give yourselves a pat on the back for the clean and healthy minds that you possess. )
She is growing up fast and though still quite a crackpot, I think in a year or two I will miss all this stuff that she says and does from time to time. Like turning up at the mall, wearing two different shoes from different pairs. That other time at some party when I asked her to get a diaper for Beanie, and spat came the reply , ” Whisper or pamper ? ”
But before I sign off , the ‘ kids say the darndest thing’ award for the week goes to a little guy who comes to me for some writing lessons . At the end of the class , in true professional style I asked him if he liked the class and what about it did he like .
” Oh yes …. It was great..” says the beaming 5th grader.
I was just about to gloat with the pride of being a good teacher, when he goes on to answer the second part of the question .
“I loved that it was a quiet room , and there was a couch to sit on …and I think the picture on the wall is cool and ….I liked seeing the fish in the fish bowl …and that you gave me a glass of water!!! ”
Kids really do say the darndest thing !!!
Bye for now and have a great summer.

A short post on the death of an old friend .

You and I go back a long way . Since schooldays. The evenings with you were always a tad special than the others. I remember how I would rush back home earlier than the other days only because it was our day together. Just knowing that you were there in the house was such a joy. Simple , easy and a delight …that was you.
It was during college and university days that I came to know you better. No longer needed mom’s consent to have you. You became the most trusted, delightful and comforting company one could have at all odd hours of the night, sometimes as late as 1 or 2 a.m. You will never know what you meant to me during those long nights preparing for an exam the next day. Probably without you, those nights would have been impossible.
In another country after my marriage , I was just beginning to miss you when I saw you one day. And I knew what it felt like to meet an old lover in a foreign land. I brought you home and the relationship continued. My husband knew you too and though did not love you as much as I did , liked you enough to enjoy your company .Waking up late on weekends, still hungover from a late night..you were a life saver. Returining late from
work ..it was you that kept us going.
And then there were kids. I can’t remember the numerous occassions when I could afford to be lazy and not do anything only because you were there.
You were just so perfect.
They said you were not good, and though I knew that a part of it was true, I didn’t know you were this bad.
But If truth be told…even now that I know how imperfect you are … if you are around, I will sneak in a rainy afternoon with you. Both of us under a blanket watching an old movie. A perfect rainy afternoon . Just you and me . No kids . Can’t let them see you with me anymore.
But I know you are no more .
What happened ? Why did it have to end like this ?
I will miss you . And for all your imperfections , I still love you .
RIP Maggi !

12 things to expect when the man (not) in your life joins a start up…..

During the time that he is in the house, you can always hear him talking. Yes, discussing, negotiating, consoling, negating, solving …you never miss the voice. The catch is, he is not taking to you. And even when he is talking to you; he is not really talking to you. Know what I mean ?

You realise that the man living in the same house as you, has amazing listening skills. But only, only if the conversation is happening over the phone or through the laptop screen. Sitting at an arms length ,you try having a conversation with him …and this same man displays the listening skills of a moron.
No…worse than a moron.

You will be made to feel like ‘the plague’. The Baap of all plagues . Let me explain. So there he is in the living room with his phone and laptop. And all you do is just walk into the room. You are not attempting to talk to him or snatch away his precious gadgets. But a panic attack will set in, and he will rise in a flurry, gathering all his lifelines and escape to another part of the house. In the blink of an eye.

Get-togethers at a any friend’s place are fun only for the first 7 mins . Post 7 mins , the
“i-need-to-be-on-a-call” syndrome begins. The message alerts becone a continuous beep. And you are reminded of a 14 year old boy , who desperately wants to go back home because there is a new Debonair hidden under the pillow. Only in this case it is a bunch of men, waiting on the laptop for another of those dreaded conference calls .
I so wish it would be the Debonair !

“For staff only”, “Trespassers will be prosecuted” , “Silence please” are no longer signs seen in public places. You will get used to seeing these outside your very own bedroom.

He will wake up, arms flailing at 5.30 am on a Saturday morning and scurry about the room getting ready to leave for work, and on a Monday morning upon being woken up at 7,will argue with you for a good 5 minutes that it is a Sunday and so he can go back to sleep. Yes, that’s how foggy, confused and screwed up life in a start up can make you.

His idea of playing footballl with the kids, is walking in the backyard, with the ball mostly in his hands, talking on the phone with an equally screwed up soul on the other end.

Any attempt at an intimate kind of conversation at night , is met with “yes so we have to keep the demand in mind ” or “let’s think of an optimization for this case ” or some such bullshit, in a slurry sentences ! And you begin to ponder on the words ‘ demand’ and
‘optimization’ and conclude that this guy doesn’t know shit about optimizing ‘demands’!!!

Listening to songs in the car is something you did in the past . Or something people do in Utopia. And you will soon get used to listening to extremely distressed conversations , between extremely distressed people , every single time you are in the car with him .

You secretly begin to fantasize and fervently wish that you were his customer or client or partner or some such thing . Because you realize that is the one minimum pre requisite to establish any sort of connection with him . And …..ummm….probably that is one way you will get to experience some of that ‘demand optimization’ shit !!!

You automatically check the ‘ single parent’ option while filling up school forms . And you need to sit with 3 boxes of tissues while watching those hollywood flicks with a single mom theme. You spend one box , empathizing and relating to all the hardships that the mom in the movie is going through . The other 2 tissue boxes you spend when she gets to enjoy the ‘benefits’ . The ones that you don’t. Like the part in Jerry McGuire … Tom Cruise and Renee …sigh !!! And you realize how totally #%%^^*** up you are !
You are saddled with a Tom and a Jerry 24 hrs a day , but Mr. McGuire will never ever come to take you away on a cruise !

There is an exactly 5 second gap between hearing the front door open , seeing a hapless, hopeless man walk in ( of coz on the phone ) and hearing the bedroom door being slammed close. And then the voices will continue till you want to scream out loud, kick open the door , tear out your hair ( or his, if you can manage to get a good grip on it) , pounce on him and punch his face !!! Whewwww! Even talking about it seems to have a cathartic effect .

Nah , I really could go on and on ….but before the language gets any more violent and the idea of ‘punching the face ‘ becomes an OCD….I must stop .

A little story before I leave .
I come back from a friend’s place and find the kids settled with the ipad . The father is nowhere to be seen .
“Mini , did you do the sums ? ”
“I could not find the copy …I have to ask baba.”
” So why don’t u go and ask him ?”
” Because he is talking to some woman”
” That’s ok …go up and ask him”
Up she goes and comes down instantly.
” I can’t mummum, they are now in the bedroom and he has locked the door ”
Before I can react , she continues , ” And now there are other people too in there!!! ”
‘On the phone’ Mini , ‘on the phone’. When you are talking about Baba , you should always conclude sentences with ‘on the phone’ .

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Let the child be …..please ! And let the child in you be too !

If I start to talk about my childhood, I would have to talk about the books I read, I thrived on, I grew up on. All that fantastic literature that I lived and loved. The Enid Blytons, the fairy tales, the princess stuff, the fables, Thakumar Jhuli, Kheerer Putul, Abol Tabol, children’s classics, the one and only Robidadu and so on and so forth …..the point being anything age appropriate that I could lay my hands on.
Ummm….sometimes a little age inappropriate. I still remember my mother almost having a panic attack when in class 8 I got hold of an old Sidney Sheldon which belonged to my uncle and settled down to devour every bit of it. We would be issued Sidney Sheldons from the school library when we we were in standard 7 I think. But alas! alas! alas!. All those so very ‘important’ pages would be always missing.! Yes, ripped off! And one of our favorite past times would be hatching plans to retrieve those ripped off pages from the principal’s office .
Anyway coming back to what I was saying,I read everything , and just to let the world know, despite me being exposed to the fantasy world, I am just fine.
I do not think that just because the king in that Bengali fairytale had two queens, it’s ok for my husband to come back in the evening with another wife . And being the elder, ugly queen, I should be kept in a hut next to his house . Hut??? Errr…garage, let’s say.
I dont think because the king and queen had seven boys and seven daughters or some such number, I have to be prepared to spend a lifetime in the maternity ward. I don’t think that just because I’ve read about Feluda and Byomkesh , there cant be a Felidi, or a Miss Byomkeshi, in the real world.
Just because I read about the damsel in distress rescued by a handsome prince, I do not wait for a gentleman to help me catch an auto from Gariahat to Garia on a weekday evening. Hell no ! I dont! I run, I push, I shove, I yell and sometimes pinch, to find myself a seat on that auto. Very unlike the damsel in distress of my childhood. Ok …. I sometimes plead with the autowalla. That’s the damsel’s influence there. And…..ummm…sometimes I did wish a nice guy would come along and offer a ride. No, wait ! Relax. I wouldn’t have jumped on, because I also know about the big bad wolves .
The point is just because I knew about the Snow Whites, it did not mean that I went into depression and questioned my father’s futile existence as a clerk in a government office .
It was in some forum, the other day that I came to know about this book called ‘Politically Correct Bedtime Stories’ by James Finn Garner. I haven’t read the book but I understand it to be a reinterpretation of the traditional fables. Here’s an excerpt,
The wolf said, “You know, my dear, it isn’t safe for a little girl to walk through these woods alone.”
Red Riding Hood said, “I find your sexist remark offensive in the extreme, but I will ignore it because of your traditional status as an outcast from society, the stress of which has caused you to develop your own, entirely valid, worldview. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must be on my way.”
Now , while this book must be an excellent satire, debunking the age old conventions, very politically correct, a work of great humor and research , my question is, is it kids’ literature ? Will my 5 year old understand anything, a single thing of Miss Red Riding Hood’s grand blockbuster retort?
And pardon me. Forgive me, and don’t crucify me …but yes, the wolf is damn right! How many times have I mouthed the same words to my kids? A hundred times is the answer. I go to a crowded place, I ask Mini and Beanie to stay close, to not wander off, to be careful of strangers. I tell them that its not ok to run and open the front door when the bell rings. I do ! And how many of you feminist mothers don’t?
Why don’t we treat a kids’ literature as what it is meant to be? Why cant we focus on the good things the book has ? A little girl’s care and love for her ailing grandma, a little girl’s quick wit to save herself and her grandma from the bid bad wolf. Yes, Hello ..please reread ‘a little GIRL’S wit”. And really, even it was a little boy. So what? Of course the father does come in with the axe at the end of the story, and those of you who will now exclaim “There!!, there lies the sexist angle”, here’s my polite suggestion …maybe you could just check if you’re suffering from some OCD !
Excess. That is the keyword I think . Little girls do tend to get in the princess mode and the pink mode and so on …and maybe we can play a part to see that it does not get too overwhelming!
Speaking personally, my daughter’s read tons of fairy tales, and other ‘sexist’ kids’ literature, but I see her reading such different books now. And believe me, I did not have to go through a painful weaning-from-the-princess books phase. She has outgrown all that. She’s growing up. Simple as that .
Let’s take Kheerer Putul. She can’t read it yet. But if and when she can, will I let her? The answer is a resounding yes. Remember that scheming, impish , lovable monkey and how he tricks and plots and plans to help the distressed queen? Why would I deprive her of reading about all that?
I hate to be didactic and what one does with one’s kids is mostly his/ her business. But I do feel that in order to be a crusader of feminism, we are perhaps messing it up.
What’s important I think is to try and get the child to love books, love reading. Limit the television and the ipad and all that it offers. Thats where we can play a very crucial part . And my common sense tells me it will be easier to do so with the traditional version of Red Riding Hood and not the politically correct version.
Introduce them to literature in their mother tongue. Stop fretting over whether it’s sexist or racist.
Lukochuri , Birpurush, ……… Read thrm aloud . Enjoy !
Oh wait ! It’s all about the ‘khoka’ and always the ‘khoka’ in these poems. No khuki? How sexist is that? Banned.
Princess tales, banned. Rapunzel has long hair …No I don’t want my daughter to grow up with the notion that girls should have long hair. So ? Banned. And on top of that she was rescued by a prince. Goddammit!
Goopi Gyne Bagha Byne. So the king gives his daughters away in marriage to this Goopi and Bagha,without their consent. How utterly regressive!! Banned. And other than the two princesses, there is not a single female character in the movie. Upendrakishore banned! Satyajit Ray banned! And then it’s the same us ,up in arms against any banning?
I think we are really getting confused here. There are real issues out there .
Does he see you slogging at housework 24×7? Does she see her father having nothing to do with that same housework just because he goes to office? Does he see his mother to be the first one always ,responsible for making dinner back from a day out ? Does she hear her father tell his wife that she needs to stay home, that’s where she belongs? Does she see you meekly accepting everything that’s so wrong about the gender equality in her own house ,in her family? Is he interpreting the beaming face of his grandparents when they talk of their grandson and their not-so-beaming faces when they talk of their granddaughter? Do you insist on sending her to singing, dancing and art classes even thought she can beat the shit out of your son when they play a game of soccer? Did she hear her aunt asking you if you have started preparing for her wedding ?
Does she….Does he?
Wake up to these ! And for god’s sake leave the child alone with his / her books.
I need to stop now , before this turns into a rant ! If it already hasn’t that is.
One last thing, in case some of you are worried about my devouring numerous Sidney Sheldons, at that tender age of twelve .. No! I don’t go about on high heels in a red dress and flaming red lipstick with an automatic in my cleavage .
Sometimes I wish I did . But I don’t . Period.

Can we please wake up from our deep slumber??

December 2012. A family get together. Puffed kachoris, dazzling sarees ,that warm aroma of mutton and the air abuzz with talks about the recent Delhi rape case and the Park Street case.
A young man, concludes, “Pathetic!!!…. what happenned in Delhi …unthinkable; bhaba jay na….Park street ta, is a different thing …she was the call girl type …but Delhi incident is so sad !!!
No…in case some of you are wondering, this young man was not Mukesh or one of the defense lawyers !
Seriously people, what is this Mukesh saying, that is shocking us so much ?
Why are we pretending to be ignorant about the existence of such thoughts?
Are we really that naive ?
You are one fortunate soul if this is the first time you are hearing stuff like this .
And what did we really expect Mukesh to say? That he is sorry?
Would that make things more ‘ideal’ for us ? More comfortable ?
This is not what JUST Mukesh thinks. Or the defense lawyers think. Or the Mulayams . Or the Taposh Pal. Or the hundreds standing around and applauding the Pal.
This is how the respected professor in your neighborhood thinks . Or that highly eligible bachelor living the dream corporate job. Or the uncle settled in ‘abroad’ for 20 years . Wake up people ! This is probably how your father thinks . Or your mother may be . Or the man with whom you share your bed every night ! Ask yourself , is this how you too think at times ? Beware of that little child , growing up seeing the mother living a life of disrespect…This will be his belief, a few years from now !
I saw the documentary last night. You never know when they might ban it from youtube and so, House of Cards can wait for one night I thought.
And don’t kill me for saying this, apart from the fact that I was not shocked or agahast at what I was hearing, I also think it was a very mediocre documentary. Had India not banned it and created all this hoopla probably many wouldn’t have watched it in the first place.
And about Nirbhaya. A tremendously hardworking, sincere, diligent student. A loving and caring daughter. Telling her father that she would rather he spend the money saved for her marriage on her education , assuring her parents that the time has come for them to relax and for her to earn.
Dreaming of building a hospital and working for the needy. Saving a little boy from the beatings of a policeman . Sermonizing the policeman . Treating the poor boy to a hearty meal . Buying him the stuff that he wants. Now I am not saying this is an exaggerated glorification. May be Nirbhaya was really all this and much more. But while I was watching it, I just felt that there was too much thrust to establish Nirbhaya as a ‘good’girl. The ideal girl,coming from a middle class background .
And I wonder why this thrust?
Would we have felt any differently if she wasn’t such a good girl?
Did the film maker have doubts about this?
I wanted to know that normal girl that Nirbhaya was. Her little struggles, her little sorrows. Maybe how she got upset over trivial stuff. You know, the little things about a person. But I didn’t get to see that. I didn’t get to see anything that I didn’t
already know.
And about the ban? I don’t know the legal reasons …but I do know we just love banning stuff !!! We ban AIB, we ban a documentary on rape ,…maybe both fall in the category of a ‘bad joke’ to the honorable people deciding the ban! Or wait, rememeber those 3 monkeys ? Bura mat kaho , bura mat suno , bura mat dekho ? Maybe a nation full of monkeys , that’s what they want to turn us to .
I think about the name, ‘ Nirbhaya’ …the fearless’ ! Oh No! That girl was shit scared . She must have been. Scared , tormented, broken, battered. My hindi is not that good, but ‘the unfortunate’, is a more apt name I think.
That juvenile will be out and free in a few months. Maybe we’ll have another chance to think of a nice, glorified name for another amongst us .
And that lawyer screaming out openly that he would burn his daughter if the need be …..Can the police please please go and search the farmhouse he mentions ? We might just find all we need to make a chilling thriller !

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