Wednesday, February 07, 2018

My Husband, The Musician

I've always liked musicians, especially guitarists (along with the entire female population across the globe).  I will marry a "long haired rocker dude", I would emphatically tell my family while busily thulping down on some sinful number. "But first lose some weight", would come the reply. 
Luckily for me, I did lose weight, a whole lot of it. Ten kilos to be exact. While looks don't matter and so on, at 21 everyone was shallow. The more weight I lost, the more confident I became. It was during this time, that I decided to pursue my writing dreams and shift to Mumbai on a whim. 

So, with nothing but a head full of dreams and one too many clothes (with matching accessories and shoes), I relocated. I soon realized, that I was barely making enough money to pay for my paying guest accomodation, let alone buy a decent meal. I quickly packed my bags and ran back home to mommy and daddy. 

Despite the hardships (of being broke, living alone and pissing off my parents), I met quite a few interesting people during my short stint. One among them was my husband (which of course I didn't know at the time). My first assignment as a reporter was to interview an upcoming humour metal band from the city. My husband was the lead guitarist of the band. He was a happy-go lucky, bindaas college student, who had ample time on his hands to pursue his musical dreams. He had formed multiple college bands over the years, had met fellow musicians from the Mumbai "metal scene" during his college festivals and managed to form bands, even outside his college circuit.

Over the years, I've seen this young man record, mix, compose and perform live. He along with his bands have created full length albums, band T-shirts, posters, badges and what have you. The glitz and the glamour you see on-stage takes a lot of effort, man-hours and hardcore practice. They put in their sweat, blood and sometimes even money to sell their music. 

In the past decade, the biggest constant in his life has been his love for music. From a carefree college kid, he has morphed into a responsible family man. He manages to play shows in multiple cities despite his hectic work schedule. And while I say hectic work schedule, I don't mean 9am-6pm. He works 24 hours, Monday through Sunday, flies to multiple cities during the week and still finds time to meet his bands, make new music and record them. 

I've heard him play his guitar, at all odd hours of the day and night. He constantly invests in valuable musical equipment, to improve his craft. And the happiest I've ever seen him, is on the days he goes to meet his bands for jams. 

While I don't align with his musical preferences, his dedication and commitment to create better music everyday is something I truly admire. Salute, to you and all your band members who lead this gruelling dual life. If this isn't raw passion, I don't know what is. 

Sunday, February 04, 2018

My Everyday Superheroes

While I'd like to believe that Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman exist in the real world, the reality is that we deal with some everyday superheroes, who look less glamorous, are more sweaty and toil in the sun, day in and day out. I'm talking about those men and women, who fill our dreary, monotonous lives with some colour and excitement. 

My idli anna and naariyal paani bhaiyya top this list. Not a day goes by when they don't greet me with a warm smile. They've allowed me to buy food on credit, given me change for Rs 2000 notes (not a mere feat in post demonitisation India) and even served me first, despite their long line of customers. 

One smile and a packet of warm idli-chutney-medu wada from my idli anna is all it takes, to warm both my stomach and my heart. It also helps that he speaks in Tamil now and then, whereby making me feel right at home. I could hug him, but he might stop serving me his delicious, fluffy idlis.

My naariyal paani bhaiyya on the other hand, is most likely a caped crusader by night and vigorous coconut cutter by day. Why I say this, is because he senses me hovering around him , even before I come in clear sight of his eyes. And before I can utter the words, "Bhaiyya ek paani wala dena", he viciously chops open a juicy looking coconut, making the paani spill around him in a crazy 360 degree angle and while I nurse my paani clogged eye, bhaiyya would've placed a fat naariyal in my hands. 

Their bindaas attitude about giving customers credit is something that amazes me everyday. Their tiresome jobs might earn them a few thousands, with which they would be feeding more than one mouth. Then how are they so warm in person and so casual about giving credit?

Hats off to you idli anna and naariyal paani bhaiyya, I am a fan. A lifelong fan. 

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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Hong Kong Hopping

Hong Kong, a bustling metropolitan city, with busy people and roaring businesses. No one has the time to look up from their smartphones or even stand still, on their quick as lightening MTR escalators/walkators. Hong Kong comprises of multiple islands namely Kowloon, Lantau, Cheung Chau, Peng Chau, Lamma and of course Hong Kong island. The MTR or the Mass Transit Railway makes travelling inside Hong Kong a complete dream. 

Five days is all you need to discover this intriguing city, filled with shopping, entertainment and relaxation. We stayed at the IBIS hotel located at Hong Kong Central and Sheung Wan, which was a one minute walk away from the MTR station. 

On day 1, we explored the immediate neighbourhood of our hotel, which comprised of a variety of meat markets. Dried and fresh meat ranging from seafood to red meats, were hung enticingly for potential customers. We even stumbled upon a local bakery, that had Hong Kong's famous Egg Tart, Pineapple Bun, Wife Cake, Moon Cake, Sausage Roll, Baked Cheese Tart and Swiss Bun. The breads on both the sweet and the savoury items had a generous hint of sugar. At night, we stepped out again and explored the Harbour City area which comprises of office complexes, a large shopping mall and of course the futuristic skyline of Hong Kong, that one can gape at for hours.

On day 2, we hopped onboard the MTR and headed straight to Victoria Peak. Similar to India's history, even Hong Kong was under the British regime as late as 1997. The cold-loving Britishers, decided to build a steep Tram line, right on the dangerous mountainous terrain of the Peak, just so that they could go up and down as they pleased. Riding this Tram, is a thrill in itself as it goes up and down a dangerous slope. The lush green view of the picturesque looking Peak, will drive all your vertigo fears away, as you ride on the Tram. Next, we headed to the Ladies Market, where I had a whale of a time, shopping for face packs, body lotions and even a cute looking, bright red dog eared muffler. The husband entertained himself, by gorging on the local street food comprising of vanilla egg bubble waffles, curry fish balls, octopus tentacles and noodles in a bag, while I shopped to my heart's content.

On day 3 or as I'd like to call it, "the happiest day of my life", we headed to Disneyland which is located on Lantau Island. The entire experience, starting with the Disney train which had Disney shaped windows, Disney shaped hand holders for passengers standing afoot and rich looking Disney figurines (which was probably made of Teak), was a magical experience. The child in you, will thank you a million times, for posing with and hugging the iconic Disney duo - Mickey and Minnie, chowing down Mickey shaped waffles, taking a 5D ride with Iron Man with the help of his "Stark Vision Glasses", walking up Tarzan's tree house, strolling through a magical Disney forest, taking a scary Grizzly Gulch ride and much more. I shopped extensively at the Disney gift store, to forever remember these happy, innocent moments. 

On day 4, we visited Times Square, which is loosely modeled around the Times Square in New York. It is one of the largest shopping hubs of Hong Kong. You can pick up clothes, shoes and bags for all budget ranges. At night, we headed to Temple Street, Night Market to pick up trinkets for family and friends comprising of Hong Kong fridge magnets, curios, ladies handbags and jewellery. Haggling is the name of the game here. Be a bargain pro or go home, empty handed.

On day 5, we headed to Man Mo temple, to pay our respects to the God of Literature (Man) and the God of War (Mo), both of whom were worshipped by ambitious students, who hoped to succeed in their civil exams of Imperial China. We ended our religious sojourn, by thulping down on some delicious momos, which the Man Mo temple street area is famous for. 

Visit Hong Kong, if you are an experimental foodie, an enthusiastic shopaholic or a hardcore fan of Disney. 

How to get there : Mumbai to Hong Kong by Jet Airways takes you exactly 6 hours
Hotel to stay in : IBIS Hong Kong Central and Sheung Wan

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Being the Youngest Sibling

Being the youngest born is an absolute delight. You almost always get away with murder, with half a tear drop or one juicy limb bite. It wasn't always nice, I'll admit. I'm pretty sure my siblings secretly hated me/were petrified of me/were sick of me or all of the aforementioned. I never understood why I was always left out from their "grown-up" games. I've whined on countless occasions to my parents, asking them why they gave birth to me so late. 

I felt neglected and alone (only in my head of course). In reality, I was always the centre of attention and if I wasn't, I would do something extremely attention grabbing (such as breaking into a random song or jiggly dance, just to hear the collective grown-up people "awwws"). 

I was jealous of anything that took my siblings' attention away from me, such as dogs, board games, other small children and their budding hobbies. I realise now that however old I get, I'll probably always be that annoying, diaper wearing, fat kid for them.

I'll always be showered with fancy gadgets, perfumes and expensive jewellery (from the "foreigns" of course). And now that I'm married, my spouse gets the exact same special treatment and affection. Money transactions of any form (be it paying for a movie ticket, a meal at a restaurant or even the hefty visa fees to enter the countries they live in) are all refused. The baby sister, swiping her debit card, when her big sis/bro is here? Dream on kid! That's absolutely blasphemy! Here, have a candy instead. Or go play with those stuffed toys. 

My siblings are the only people in the world, who can bring a smile to my heart. I literally have a warm, fuzzy feeling, all over my body each time I meet or talk to any of them. The best years of my life, aka my childhood, are frozen in time, with them. They remind me of a happier, more carefree time. 

All children deserve siblings. Siblings, have the ability to forever make your world go round. If you're the youngest, you will always look up to your big brother/sister. And if you're the oldest, apologies in advance, from all the pesky, "never minding their own business" younger siblings. 

Monday, December 04, 2017

The Joy of Being a Tomboy

I was a tomboy much before Kuch Kuch Hota Hai's Anjali ever existed. I was a tomboy even before the word "tomboy" was invented. (I think!) And let me assure you, those were the best years of my life. I loved my silky boxer shots, my toy guns and my rad BSA ladybird cycle. I came back home everyday, with mud in my hair and gigantic cuts on my chubby legs.

I hadn't stepped into a beauty parlour till I was 24. Most liberating 24 years of my life! I didn't thread my eyebrows or wax until my post graduation and my third job. I hated girly-girls. (Still do!) And I hated "friendly" advice, starting with what undergarments to wear and what facials to do. That kind of talk, still puts me to sleep.

I firmly believe, there is much more to life than looking like a dressed up little porcelain doll. Looks fade eventually, but a good sense of humour and intelligence never will. So read, instead of spending  pointless hours in the beauty parlour. Hone a talent, instead of spending wasteful hours obsessing about which shoe, jewellery or dress you must own before it goes out of fashion.

And most importantly, please stop with the preachy, overly friendly "girly advice". Let women be. It really is women, who let other women down. Sad reality! I've experienced this both at home and in the office. 

I personally think, tomboys grow up to be the best women and life partners. We have the ability to think like a man and a woman, at the same time. We get along with men, as easily as we do with women. We have zero inhibitions and are chilled out 90% of the time. We can be both emotional and unemotional, which makes us clear thinkers in the most toughest of situations. Most importantly, we're solid "dudes". You can rely on us, with your life. 

Three cheers to being a tomboy! We're unique and one of a kind. Let's not allow anyone to dull our quirky sparkle. 

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Bridget Jones

11 years since I started this blog and I haven't once written about Bridget Jones. Shame on me! I discovered my soul sister in Renee Zellweger as the adorable, extremely relatable, thirty something, Bridget Jones. To say that a 14 year old, found a 30 something singleton as relatable, might sound downright absurd! But that's the beauty of Jones. I loved her immensely as a teenager and I can happily confirm, I love her just as much today, as an almost 31 year old woman.

Jones' childlike nature and constant bumbling around in the most awkward situations, makes her loveable across generations. I have laughed, cried and felt my heart breaking along with her. Today, as I see her as a mother in Bridget Jones's Baby, my heart bursts with pride. She has still not grown up. She continues to remain childlike and innocent, despite the evil ways of the world. 

I wish I was more like her. I wish I could see the humour in life's most challenging situations. I wish I could just snap out of it, with ten tubs of Ben and Jerry's. Until that time, I guess I'll continue watching all 3 movies on loop. 

I want to thank you Bridget, for helping me overcome my awkward, obese teen years. You weren't happy being chubby either, but you did it with panache. You went through a string of heartbreaks until you found your Darcy, reassuring us overly emotional teenagers that love finds you eventually. You cannot chase it down.

You're the ray of sunshine on a gloomy day. You're the generous dousing of Nutella sauce, on my golden brown waffle. And you're the imaginary best friend I've had for 17 years (and counting)!

I probably chose to be a reporter (for a laughable 6 months) because of you. I've also had my ups and downs with the weighing scale and of course, I've also had my share of hilarious showdowns in offices, just like you. 

I'd like to believe we're the same person. I love you Bridget, always have, always will! 

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Stay at Home Mothers

Mothers, the best people in the world really. Especially, stay at home mothers. They sacrifice their peace of mind, time, dreams and even happiness just to raise a few brats, who may or may not turn out right! The most thankless job in the world, with no salary, overtime salary, bonus or appreciation. We can't live without them. Doesn't matter how old you are. Working, not working, married, unmarried, pregnant, not pregnant, you will forever be mumma's little girl/boy.

I've been raised by some strong, stay at home mothers. They are excellent home-makers (NOT housewives), have a knowledgable opinion on every topic (be it politics or fashion), they are world travellers (thanks to their respective husband's professions) and most importantly, have a broad-mindedness that often shocked even me, a modern-day millennial.  

The fact that they didn't work, didn't make them any less dignified. They were and still continue to be, treated as equal partners in all the decisions pertaining to the household. Bowing down to the man of the house or living under subjugation, are completely alien to me. I've been raised to have a strong voice, but that doesn't mean I hen-peck my husband.  

At close to 90 years of age, my grandmother lives in a palatial bungalow, atop a hill in Kerala. She lives alone, with dignity and grace. In her hay days she was a terrific cook, has single-handedly raised all her grandchildren and has an excellent collection of curios from around the globe, thanks to my grandfather's sea-voyages. He has Captained vessels of all shapes and sizes, for countless decades and finally hung up his boots in the mid-90s. He was a treasure-trove of stories from faraway lands. He had eaten, seen and experienced things, none of us could even imagine. To say that he was way ahead of his times, would be an understatement. 

I get my competitiveness and never-say-die attitude, from my mother. No goal has ever been too big. No dream, impossible. She wanted to be a doctor or a teacher. Unfortunately, her husband's Army life, forced her to back down. He was perennially being transferred from one postcard-perfect location to another, within India. So she passed down those aspirations onto me. She wanted me to be a lawyer or a doctor. Regretfully, I let her down. I chose my own path, much to her dismay. Of course, I'm subject to the occasional "you could have been so much more" jibe. 

Stay at home mothers, you have every reason to be proud! Chin up and soldier on. Don't ever feel insecure, about that classy looking working woman. She might be great at her job. But you, stay at home mom, are kicking-ass at raising that strong-willed child, bargaining with the kirana store/subzi and dhobi walla (whereby saving all your husband's hard earned money) and converting a brick and mortar house, into a cozy-little den. 

Still unsure about your core competencies and skill sets? Leave your husband and child, alone for one week, kick back, relax and unwind. You will be overwhelmed, by the warm welcome they shower upon you, when you return. 

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