Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Riaan




My precious little baby boy,
You are my God-given human toy,

You turn one month old today,
Still as fragile as clay,

Your beady eyes make my whole world spin,
My heart melts watching you grin, 

You are an extension of my body,
I know your little mind, more than anybody,

Your desperate sobs, 
Make everyone's head bob,

As I stay awake with you night after night,
I know that you will grow up to be more than alright,

Your mumma will forever be your best friend,
And that is a fact, which will never go out of trend.

Saturday, February 02, 2019

Becoming Riaan's Mom


I had a bumpy pregnancy to say the least. Between one month of bed rest, infinite detailed fetal scans and a dozen throwing up sessions, 9 months flew by in the blink of an eye. People are kinder to pregnant women I realized. Doors were opened faster, chairs were vacated immediately and people just moved out of my path in general, whereby making me feel like a predatory baby whale who may or may not eat all the other fishes on it's path.

My gynaecologist warned me about the possibility of a C-Section, she even narrowed in on a potential delivery date and briefed my family on the admission procedures followed by the hospital. But time, tide and my Riaan wait for none. He overheard our conversation from my womb, let out one sadistic baby-chuckle and decided to pop out one week prior to the decided delivery date.

I woke up at 4am on the 8th of January with a feeling of discomfort. I had a dull, constant pain in my abdomen that refused to go away by 8am. My water had broken and I had no idea. I expected something more dramatic to happen. Cue the scene from Sex and the City 2 where Charlotte screams at Mr Big, "I curse the day you were born" and her water breaks.

My mother rushed me to the hospital without telling me I was in labour, in an attempt to not scare me. By 9am, my doctor and her volley of assistants began trickling in and declared I was in labour. I was rushed to the labour room by 10am and by 12.15pm, my champion made his squishy, squealy appearance. The last two hours of labour were worse than the exorcism of Emily Rose. I was denied an epidural which worsened my grunting, writhing state. I slapped a nurse, clawed a doctor's shoulder blade off and bit my mother's hand. 

The very first sentence that flew out of my mouth when I learnt I had a son was, "Now don't go fall in love with a chudail". My child is almost a month old now. My crazy, territorial, mommy hormones have settled down a little.  Just a little. 

I can safely say, no promotions, salary hikes, gold medals, awards or accolades can match up to the feeling of being a mom. He is my best creation/achievement till date. I'm proud to be his mother. And I know he'll love me just the way I am. 

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Sri Venkateshwara Suprabhatam By MS Subbulakshmi


Any self respecting South Indian worth his salt, will know this early morning chant by heart. We are woken out of our sleepy stupors, with MS Subbulakshmi's comforting nasal twang playing loudly and persistently in the background. 

For six years I've woken up to this prayer, while watching my grandfather potter around with his electronic shaving kit. I would stare at him sleepily, as he slowly went about his morning rituals. Right before he would step into the shower, I would drift back into sleep only to be rudely awoken by my grandmother.

Breakfast comprised of delicious fluffy egg appams, steaming hot idiyappams or fresh out of the stove puttu and kadala. In hindsight, I wish I had spent some more time in the kitchen with my grandmother and her maids, instead of behaving like the jungle prince Mowgli. All that time I spent mucking around in the outdoors, could have been utilised instead, to learn some of her signature recipes because I miss home food so much now, that it breaks my heart.

By the time we were done with breakfast, MS Subbulakshmi's chanting would be replaced by other  sweet sounding malayalee bhajans. And my grandfather would be in the prayer room, bathed and ready to take me to school. I would bully him to speed up his prayers, so that I could reach school on time. 

The days I didn't reach on time, I would go home and give him a lecture on the importance of punctuality and keeping time. He would, like all grandfathers, listen to my inane chatter with utmost patience and a sage-like smile, as he slowly yet steadily demolished the contents of my school lunch box, which would drive me even more mad. If I didn't want to eat my lunch, would should he? And that would be our next tug of war for the day. 

My days were incomplete without MS Subbulakshmi, my grandmother's delicious meals and my grandfather dropping me to school. If any of these things were disrupted even for a day, I would be in a very foul mood. 

I relied on MS Subbulakshmi to wake me up every morning, my grandmother's meals to keep me going through the day and my grandfather's hand and handkerchief to wipe my tears and blow my nose into after reaching school. Having panic attacks, being a drama queen and vegetating at home are three personality traits/habits that haven't left me till date.  

I had my grandfather to deal with my meltdowns back then. And now, with him gone, I feel quite lost. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Mumbai's Kaamwali Bais


Don't underestimate the power of the Kaamwali Bais in Mumbai. Their network is wider than Reliance Jio's and their word is law. If you're nice to your Kaamwali Bai, you have found yourself a friend for life. Be mean to them and no one will step foot inside your house ever. Their word-of-mouth publicity about your character, family history, background, eating habits and husband's behaviour spreads faster than the wildfire in the Amazon rainforests.

These smart saree-clad, tech-savy, Whatsapp dominating, Facebook-friend-request-sending women, trickle into various apartment complexes from 5am in the morning till 10pm at night. They work tirelessly with a perennial smile on their face. Ever-ready to help you and your family with any and every problem, these women are absolute life saviours.

I'm pretty sure the husband and I would have starved to death, if it hadn't been for my smart-mouthed, uber friendly cooking bai. I'm also quite certain we would've lived in a pigsty, had it not been for her network of soft-spoken cleaning bais. She is responsible for finding both my cleaning bais in record time. She didn't get along too well with the first one, therefore quite naturally, she wasted no time in finding another one who she could dominate easily. 

Often times I wonder who the bai is really. Her dominating nature is not just restricted to my cleaning bai, it also spills over to me. And I quietly obey. Afterall, who am I to oppose the maker of  yummy pasta, delicious aloo parathas and smooth as silk sabudana khichdi. 

She absolutely loves it, when either of the mothers decide to pay a visit. She finally finds herself a bakra to chat inanely with, as she simultaneously whips up delicious meals. She is as heartbroken as I am when they leave, as I'm not particularly fun company to be around, (especially not at 6am in the morning!). But her day begins early, she wakes up at 5am everyday, reaches my house by 6am, gives me a nasty stare for still being asleep at that time and then gets on with business. 

She hums a happy tune or two as she works seamlessly in the kitchen, chats endlessly with my other bai in rapid Marathi and before I can drift back into a dreamless sleep, both are out of the house. When I finally wake up by 7.30am, the house is sparkling clean and my breakfast, lunch and dinner are ready for the day.

Kaamwali bais are domesticated house fairies. What would we do without them and their endless Whatsapp forwards?

(Image Source : https://pakaamat.wordpress.com/2015/10/27/why-kaamwali-bai-rules-indian-homes/)

Monday, August 20, 2018

Rude or Friendly


We Indians love our neighbours, co-passengers, relatives, our neighbour's son's grandson, our uncle twice removed from our dad's side and even our dogs a bit too much. In our over-enthusiasm to get to know people, we pry a bit too much. My hairdresser wants to know why I don't have children yet, despite being married for close to 5 years. A bunch of Brahma Kumaris dressed in all white, with a white mask on their mouths, kept asking me insistently what degree I had earned from college and upon learning that I was an M.A in Public Relations, started giving me career advice.

A close friend of ours - supposedly modern, chic and hip, made fun of our decision to have children when she stumbled upon a bunch of particularly screechy kids. I was stunned. When our very own peer group behave like they are from the stone age, how can we expect the rest of the world to be civil?

Is this an Indian thing? Or is this typical human nature? We often fail to comprehend, or conveniently ignore the fact that we are being blatantly rude, while prying for personal information. Unless you are that person's mother, he/she owes you nothing. 

How much a person earns, what his/her current weight is, why he/she has chosen to work or not work post college, why a couple has chosen to have babies or not - none of this is your business. It's time to stick that nose elsewhere, otherwise be prepared to receive the stick. 

In India, this prying business is not just restricted to personal circles, it extends to workplaces as well. God bless you, if you're a woman looking for a job. It's no mean task! If you're unmarried, the recruiters want to know if you'll quit when you get married. If you're married, they want to know if you'll quit once you have a baby. And if you have a baby (gasp! unimaginable!), you're questioned about how you can juggle both. That's my great India for you.

Sadly, this passing of crude comments and prying starts at a very young age. When children ask adults questions on their appearance, their haircut, makeup, clothes and even personal information, all their parents and grandparents do is sit and laugh. It won't be so funny anymore when they grow up to become prying adults. The dirty habit has to be nipped in the bud. 

It's time to live and let live. Let's all try to be kinder, less nosy and less judgemental about people. No one's perfect. Unless you're God himself, you have no right to pass snide remarks, give advice or pry for personal information from anyone.

Peace out! 

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

The Magic of 90s Boy Bands


Any self-respecting girl-child, born in the late 80s would have heard of Westlife, Backstreet Boys and NSYNC. These bands not just shaped our childhoods, but also influenced major life decisions, such as, do I want my husband to be have a dimple on the cheek or not? And let's face it, these are important decisions. So while our parents presumed we were deeply absorbed in our Maths or History homework, in reality, we had our Walkmans on and had silent tears streaming down our face as Shane Filan, Markus Feehily, Kian Egan, Brian McFadden and Nicky Bryne crooned "An empty street, An empty house, A hole inside my heart, I'm all alone, The rooms are getting smaller" 

They got it. They just got it. They understood late 80s born teenagers, like no one else. They were our best friends. Their music was like balm to our broken souls and their voice, like honey on a scorching summer day. 

So what were our life problems as teenagers? Nothing really. But we loved the drama. We loved amplifying the bite of a mosquito on our raw skin and the taste of vanilla ice-cream on a wintry evening. And these men helped amplify those feelings.  

As I blared Backstreet Boys' "I want it that way" for the millionth time from my stereo system, oblivious to my mother's incessant pounding on my bedroom door, yelling at me to reduce the volume, I would find new layers to the song. Did Nick Carter have a breakup? Is that why they wrote this song? Was he single and ready to mingle? How can one man have such a perfectly blond mop of hair on his head? And that dimple. My oh my!

As my mind worked in overdrive, along came NSYNC with their cheeky "Bye Bye Bye" and that delightful video to go along with it, which showed the band members being strung like puppets, climbing over walls, over a train and just running all over the place, in general. That video and song, gave teenage girls everywhere an ego boost. We suddenly realised that we're apparently "players, in a game for two" and men don't want to become"fools for us". 

So from mopey teenagers, girls slowly transformed into rebellious teenagers who were suddenly too cool for school. This was also the time when Linkin Park was formed. So some of us girls, slowly began to cheat on our boy-band staple, with bad boy Chester Bennington. Here was a guy who was heartbroken as well, but with delightful rough edges, complemented by his million piercings and tattoos. There was pain and rebellion in his voice. What a deadly combination! 

As the noises from my bedroom grew more and more violent and the pounding on my door became more and more incessant, I grew up. I slowly began to listen to heavier and heavier music. The posters of all my favourite British and white American men, were slowly being ripped down from my walls and being replaced with deadly looking posters of Slipknot, Metallica and Linkin Park. 

But I would be lying if I said I didn't go back every now and then, to "Seasons in the Sun" and "Backstreet's Back". Even rebellious teens, had their mopey days. We were allowed one delicious shot of familiar, comfort-music (the equivalent of ear Gaajar Halwa if you may), on the bleakest of days. 

Thank you for the stunning memories Westlife, Backstreet Boys and NSYNC. You've touched lives in more ways than you can fathom. If ever you re-unite and do one last concert, expect to see a whole bunch of women in their 30s along with their babies and husbands at your concerts. We probably married those men and had those babies, because of you. Take a bow! You've more than earned it.

(All images sourced from Google) 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Chocolate, The Elixir of Life


Chocolate, the reason to live. Chocolate, the mood enhancer. Chocolate, the stress buster. Chocolate, the saviour. Chocolate, dreamy chocolate. Creamy, gooey, molten, solid, dark, milk - whatever be it's form, the impact it has on the individual devouring it, remains the same. Pure undiluted joy. There can be no greater love, than the love for chocolate. Wars, marital disputes, familial disharmony, whatever be the problem, chocolate and only chocolate can save the day. 

There was a time (not too long ago) when my husband would not enter the house, sans a box of chocolate in hand. He would religiously buy a gigantic slice of white chocolate coated, red velvet cake and a bag of chocolate coated almonds from Starbucks. "For you my dearest", he would croon lovingly. I would go to sleep instantly with white chocolate dreams in my head, only to wake up to an empty icing ravaged box, stuffed unceremoniously in the fridge, the next morning.

Then there were mornings, I would wake up with a mad desire to drown my soul with copious amounts of molten, hot dark chocolate. We would head out the door, faster than lightening and drive for close to an hour, sometimes more, to reach Chocolateria San Churro in Bandra. We would invariably be the first and only customers so early in the morning. The server behind the counter, would give us a dubious stare, as we placed our orders for black coffee and hot chocolate at 10am in the morning. 

On one particular Friday night, the husband landed in Bombay at 10pm and wanted to head out immediately. I resisted at first, but he lured me with the promise of chocolate. He would soon eat his words, as we drove for close to 3 hours, to reach Sweetish House Mafia in Lower Parel. By the time we reached the joint, half their decadent cookies were over and the servers looked at us in astonishment, as we placed our cookie and coffee orders at 1 am in the morning. 

I celebrate Easter every year, just to gorge on a gigantic chocolate Easter egg. Not the marzipan one, the thick chocolate coated one, that can be broken in half. But of course I never broke it in half, I would always stuff the whole thing inside my mouth and then attempt to break it, with a  mighty crunch. One time I almost broke my teeth and dislocated my jaw, but it was absolutely worth it.

Is this normal behaviour? Without a speck of doubt in my mind, I'd say a resounding yes. All is fair in love, war and chocolate. If you don't eat that delicious looking piece of chocolate, someone else will. Embrace it, celebrate it, drown yourself in it. Chocolate is your best friend. Always was, always will be. 

Bad day at work? Stuff your face with some chocolate. Crazy fight with your better half? Grab that spoon of Nutella. Can’t loose weight? Eat some dark chocolate and then go for a run. Can’t wake up in the morning? Grab a piece of Ooty chocolate already with a steaming hot cup of black coffee and get moving!

(Image Source : https://www.google.co.in/search?q=chocolate&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwidwpWEvZ7bAhWBq48KHT_SAFYQ_AUICigB&biw=1280&bih=611#imgrc=1Y65lrutcwulvM:)