Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A Flock of Ducklings

I woke up bright and early today to hit my building's swimming pool. I aimed to leave home by 7am and be back by 8 to baby-sit both my "Quick Gun Murugan" maids, who make me feel like their maid 90% of the time. The only reason I get up early on my "swim-days" is to avoid being scolded by them. (Don't laugh!) Handle a Bombay-Bai for a week and you will know how feisty they are. 

Back to my swim now. For the first half hour, I was all alone inside a dreamy blue trance. I took slow lazy laps, back and forth and allowed my mind to wander. After about half an hour, two pleasantly plump boys violently dove on either sides of me from the deep end, whereby almost drowning me. After attempting to give them a dirty glare from the insides of my foggy swim-goggles, I continued with my laps. 

After about 10 minutes of trying to swim peacefully inside the Titanic-drowning-current created by the two tornadoes on either sides of me, I began to pant like a baby-seal. My lungs were on fire and I clung onto the nearest wall I could find. Just as I felt comfortable enough to get back to my "calorie-burning" laps, I saw a group of skinny little girls, in bright summery swim-suits and cute swimming-caps which had Mickey Mouse ears stuck on them. They were accompanied by a middle-aged gentleman.

As the twin-tornadoes and I swam back and forth, the group of little girls began swimming between us in the shallow end, whereby causing even more confusion in the already choppy waters. The older gentleman ("Da-Da" as referred to by one of the girls), held them back and signalled us to go back quickly, so that they could continue with their splashy attempts to swim. 

Da-Da's patience levels must be applauded, as he single-handedly managed three very excited little girls in the water. He was teaching them how to swim, breathe and use the right hand-leg co-ordination while afloat. He was even bribing them every 5 minutes with Dairy Milk Silks and Amul Ice-creams, each time one of them felt tired.

I couldn't help but grin at them like a Cheshire Cat. When the clock struck 8, I quickly climbed out of the pool (in fear of my maids), threw on my clothes and just as I was about to leave, one of the little girls screamed "Bye DiiiiDiiiii!". I chuckled, went upto their Da-Da and told him how my daddy taught me to swim at their age. Even my Da-Da (daddy) used the same tactics of food and meat, to get me into the water. 

If it weren't for my Da-Da, I would have been a food loving, lazy football. Thankfully, the football has been reduced to a golf ball and I still love food. Sorry my dear Da-Da, there are some battles you just can't win! 

Friday, May 05, 2017

Poopie Love


One year shy of a decade,
The madness is yet to fade.

You love beef burgers and salads,
I prefer mutton biryani and soulful love ballads.

I plug my ears with cotton wool,
As you play Primitiv's Taurus, the bull.

Our home is filled with laughter and food on the weekends,
As you whip up strange fruit and veggie smoothie blends.

Come Monday,
You fly out of the 'Bay.

I hurriedly fall back into my chocolate binging ways, 
Sneakily shielded from your annoyed gaze.

"I'm following my diet", I slyly text,
But you catch my first bluff, as easily as the next.

The house has never been quieter, 
With the absence of it's rioter.

Thankfully, Friday dawns bright and early,
And I find myself doing a happy twirly.

(ALTERNATE ENDING : Thankfully, Friday dawns bright and chirpy,
Once again I prepare myself to indulge in your strange hand-made slurpees.)

Writer's Note : This poem is about my management-consultant husband, who travels excessively due to the nature of his work. 

Monday, May 01, 2017

Bhutanize Yourself


I'm back home after a lightening trip of 5 days and 6 nights at Bhutan. From my outward appearance, I look absolutely charred and burnt like a badly cooked piece of Tandoori Chicken, but from the inside I'm filled with warmth and joy, much like the serene blue haired Golden Buddha Dordenma at Thimpu. 

Even before my flight could land at Paro airport in Bhutan, the view outside blew me away. The majestic mountains all around my aircraft beckoned to me. Being a city kid all my life, the pristine beauty was overwhelming to my senses. Upon landing, all passengers (self included), hurriedly began taking pictures of the cutest airport in the world, Paro. The architecture of the airport and the breathtaking view of the intimidating, majestic green hills were all a little too much. We all felt like Alice stuck in our respective wonderlands. 

After completing our immigration, we were welcomed by our enthusiastic young guide, Eelo (to be pronounced as ILU from the cheesy ILU ILU Bollywood song, as explained by him). 

After a day of rest at our local hotel in Thimpu, we began our exploration of the city. We were taken to the Thimpu Chorten to begin with, where we had our first sight of the cylindrical golden prayer bells. Next, we headed to the Buddha Dordenma, one of the largest Buddhas in the world at a majestic 169 feet. This Buddha can be seen as you ascend up the hills of Thimpu and your excitement level will mount as you near closer and closer to the enormous statue. We ended our day by visiting the Tashichho Dzong, where we took multiple selfies with amused monks and gleefully ran our fingers (like a child in a candy shop!) over the multiple cylindrical golden prayer bells. The centre of the monastery will remind Kung-Fu panda fans of Master-Shifu and the Furious Five. I almost expected all of them to emerge out of the woodwork and give me a flying kick.

The next day began bright and early. We checked out of our local Thimpu hotel and began our 3 hour journey to Punakha. Enroute Punakha, we stopped at Dochula Pass where we breathed in huge lungfuls of almost snowy air and took pictures galore with the cutely built 108 memorial chortens/stupas. Next we stopped at the vertigo-inducing Puakha suspension bridge. An architectural wonder and a sight to behold for nature photographers, as the bridge offers panoramic views of the river and the surrounding landscape. However, if you have the fear of heights (like me), look straight ahead and march on without clinging on to either sides of the bridge! Our day ended at the cozy local hotel in Punakha, which was set right on the banks of the Mo Chhu river. Needless to say, our evening and morning were spent attempting to dip our feet and face (Tamasha style like Ranbir) in the freezing cold Mo Chhu.

The next morning, we checked out of our hotel and began our journey excitedly towards Tiger's Nest. Tiger's Nest is home to a very sacred Buddist temple by the name of "Paro Taktsang". Situated on the upper Paro valley, the climb up to the temple is not for the faint of heart. The total climb up and down is a steep 9 km and takes 6 hours in total (if you are an expert mountain climber!). Buddhists believe that love for God must be shown by bodily effort and pain, which is why most of their temples are situated on a hilly terrain. My climb up the Tiger's Nest was not a successful one, I could only reach upto the halfway point of 4.5 kms which was home to a well laid out Cafeteria. I apologized to lord Buddha and promised him I'd be back next year to give it another shot. 

Whether you seek tranquility of the mind, an adventurous trek or virgin beauty, you will find it all here in Bhutan, the land of the Thunder Dragon. 

How to get there :
Calcutta to Bhutan by Drukair flight takes you 50 minutes exactly

Hotels to stay in :
Thimpu :
Tara Phendeyling Hotel

Punakha :
Damchen Resorts

Paro:
Olathang Hotel

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

My Magician


It's been an empty decade and a half,
Without your infectious laugh.

No one to eat medu vadas with,
Or drink Sharjah shakes with.

All the ugly fights we fought, 
And the dirty jokes you taught.

Each dreadful morning to school, you were by my side,
To wipe my tears and to give me a ride. 

Your obsession with Hercule Poirot and Baywatch, were unmatched, 
I tried my best to stay detached.

You are my home,
I latch onto every memory of yours, like a honeybee to it's comb.  

(Writer's Note : This poem is about my grandfather, who died when I was a teenager. He made my world alright, without a magic wand or spells. He was always ahead of his time and had a broad-mindedness, which often shocked people of his generation. Needless to say, he was extremely popular and really close with his grandkids.)

Monday, April 10, 2017

Rohan and Grandpa

Rohan was a vivacious 5 year old, born into the Mehta household. Mr and Mrs Mehta were busy image consultants who ran their own boutique P.R agency. They loved Rohan very much and made it a point to spend every free minute with him. The Mehtas lived in a palatial ancestral bungalow. The house and the couple were picture perfect. The Mehtas were very popular among friends and colleagues. Their families took great pride in their achievements, both personal and professional.

Rohan spent all his spare time, post school with his nanny, Kamla. Although he loved Kamla and enjoyed their little games together, he really missed his mommy and daddy. He waited anxiously to be tucked into bed every night by mommy. She would narrate an elaborate fairy tale every night with dramatic theatrics. She would even use puppets to narrate stories, on the nights that she was not very tired. 

Every night, after mommy would finish her bed-time story, grandfather would take over. He was funnier than mom. Every morning, Rohan would attempt to narrate grandfather's fairy tales to his parents, but they were always too busy, rushing to work.

On one particular Sunday, a determined little Rohan, sat his mother down and began narrating one of grandfather's stories. It was about a big red submarine. Halfway through the story, mumma began tearing up.

"Why are you crying Mumma?", enquired a surprised Rohan.
"Who told you this story bacha?", asked Mumma.
"Grandpa", replied Rohan.

His mother quickly rushed inside her room and brought out an old family album. She hurriedly turned the pages of the album, until she found what she was looking for.

"Do you recognize Grandpa, from any of these photographs?", she asked Rohan
"Yes. There he is", pointed an excited Rohan, on the face of a handsome looking middle-aged gentleman. 

The photograph was a faded black and white one, of a cheery looking man in a smartly cut navy blue suit from the early 60s. Grandpa had died 10 years before Rohan was born. The house and the bedroom Rohan slept in belonged to Grandpa. 

(Image Source : https://www.pinterest.com/explore/bedtime-stories/)

Monday, March 06, 2017

The Apple Faced Girl

The apple faced girl, was the youngest born, into a happy Malayalee family. Her father was an army officer, who got transferred into non-family stations very often. Non-family stations mean those locations in India which have the highest terrorist activity. Officers were not allowed to bring families to these places as they would naturally become the soft target for terrorists. The apple faced girl, her elder brother and her mother made several trips to their hometown in Trivandrum, each time the father was stationed in these non-family locations.

On one of those trips back home, the apple faced girl made acquaintance with her grandmother's elder brother. He was an unmarried, bubbly old man who loved children. He pampered the little girl silly and forbade her mother to tonsure her hair. 

"Mole, please don't cut her hair. She will lose all her cuteness", he would plead to the child's mother.

The little girl spent most of her time playing and fighting with her grandfather. Everyday by about 7 in the evening, the grandfather would become very tired of chasing her around. So he would give the baby back to her mother and focus his energies on watching the evening news on DD Malayalam. The little girl hated the news and the annoying jingle that preluded the news. She knew she would lose her grandfather's attention, the minute she heard the jingle on the television screen. Every evening she would dance in front of the television screen and try to imitate the jingle, just to get her grandfather's attention. 

One morning, the little girl woke up earlier than usual. She ran to sit on her plastic mobile potty. Just as she began doing her morning chore, she noticed that her grandfather was sitting cheerily on his favorite chair, gazing at her lovingly. She immediately pushed herself and her potty closer to him and began mimicking the DD jingle.

Mid-way through her song, her mother called out to her, "What are you doing baby? Who are you singing to?"
"I'm singing to Baapappa, amma. Tell him to play with me, I don't want him to watch the news", replied the little girl.
The mother froze upon hearing the child's words because her grandfather had died at 3am that morning. The entire family had rushed to the hospital leaving only the little girl and the mother behind.

THE END

Author's Note : The apple faced girl was me. I have no recollection of this grandfather or of this incident, because I was only 1 or 2 years old at the time. This story has been passed down to me by my mother and now from me to you. This only re-affirms my faith that the love of a grandfather has no bounds. They will always watch over you, like guardian angels.

Image Source : https://www.shutterstock.com/search/cartoon+grandpa

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Jacobinte Swargarajyam


Jacobinte Swargarajyam has two Mallu favorites which would naturally make it a blockbuster hit - Nivin Pauly and Dubai. After Bangalore Days, this is another Malayalam movie that made me stop and smell the roses. It is a movie that every Malayalee can relate to. A story of a happy Christian family settled in Dubai. All is well until the global recession hits and the head of the household, Mr Jacob Zachariah gets cheated by a Pakistani colleague. Overnight, the business tycoon has to flee the country leaving his wife and four children behind. 

What follows is threats from Mr Jacob's investors and a never-ending struggle to make ends meet by the eldest son, Jerry and Mrs Sherly, wife of Mr Jacob. Being the eldest, Jerry always tailed his father for his various business dealings. However, when his father bids hims a tearful adieu and hands over the responsibility of the family to him, Jerry crumbles.

He seeks refuge in his father's close confidante and friend, Philip Ichayan. He breaks down in front of him and says he has no idea how to overcome the financial mess his father had created. Ichayan drives him on the streets outside his home and points out to a cafeteria in the corner of the street, run by a man named Sherif. He narrates the story of how Sherif started the cafeteria by falling on the feet of many money lenders, how his family had to sleep inside a house without a roof and the many hardships he had to endure to become a successful restaurateur both in Dubai and Kochi. 

Ichyan further went on to add that to learn the formula of success, one doesn't have to travel the whole world. You merely need to take a stroll on the streets of Dubai to look at the face of every hardworking Malayalee who does back breaking labour in the scorching sun. He went on to say that there is a popular joke among people, that you will find a Malayalee in the most obscure corners of the globe, starting with the moon, the sea and deserted mountains. This is true, Ichyan tells Jerry, because only a Malayalee has the guts to set up shop in the most strangest of places and transform it into a business empire. 

I felt a strange sense of pride in being a Malayalee after watching this scene. I took a moment to think about all my mallu bretheren in Dubai and elsewhere. I also thanked the lord for giving me this carefree life. I could only empathize with what the Zachariah family and innumerable families like theirs had to undergo during the recession.

Jacobinte Swargarajyam is an absolute gem and I pray that if it gets re-made into Hindi, it manages to capture the essence of the movie - the hardships faced and overcome by a God-fearing, close knit malayalee Christian family in Dubai.