Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Magical World Of Hamleys

The earliest and best memories of childhood have always been associated with toys. Each doll brings with it a happy flash back. Apart from parents, dolls were the only people whom I have cuddled, kissed and shared secrets with. My bed and my arms, always had a couple dozen dolls at any given point in time.

I have fifteen dolls in total. Seven barbie dolls, five kelly dolls, one mid-sized baby doll, one rag doll, one standing doll (which was taller than me until i was five). And then there are the stuffed toys, two teddy bears, one mickey mouse, one tortoise, one pink bunny, one Nemo, one electric white mouse, one barking and tail-wagging doggie and a few dozen others which I can't remember.

Why am I rambling on and on about toys you ask. Well, the husband and I had nothing sensible to do last night so we mall-hopped. While we debated about whether to eat or watch a movie, I saw happy water bubbles coming out of a colourful "Alice-in-Wonderlandish" place aka Hamleys.

We looked at each other, smiled and walked in wordlessly. Before we knew it, I was hugging stuffed toys and drooling at the never-ending rows of Barbie dolls, rag dolls and baby dolls. A single tear drop rolled off my eye because I realized I could never buy one or play with one ever again. My heart broke accepting the reality of adulthood. 

How I wish I could be a child again. What I would'nt give to sniff the top of my baby-doll's golden yellow head and put her to sleep. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

My Culinary Adventures


Thus begins a new chapter in my life - cooking. I had made meticulous cooking notes 3 years ago, just before getting married by spending hours in the kitchen with my ayyah back home in Chennai, only to use it for exactly one week post marriage. 

Work kept me far far away from the kitchen and my local Maharashtrian bai made some tasty vegetarian fare. Each time the husband suggested a dish of his choice, I got worried and shied away from it, partly due to the lack of time and partly because I was just not confident enough.

Each time I heard an oil splutter caused by an onion or a mustard seed, I ran away. I stood 1 km away from the kadai every time I was forced to enter the kitchen. In the past week though, things have changed. Post my morning walk each day, I rush to the kitchen and look forward to creating 1-2 exciting dishes.  

On the first day, I referred to my cooking notes. From the second day, I started relying on my instincts and the results were not too bad. The husband lapped up each dish in a matter of seconds, and even told me to participate in Masterchef Australia because I have a "natural flair for cooking". That was enough motivation to keep at it.

I love my mornings in the kitchen and look forward to each day of whipping up one exotic dish. My days are now consumed with what to eat for lunch the next day. Tomorrow I will make Butter Garlic Prawns and day after I shall attempt a Red Thai Curry Chicken.  

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Six Pieces of My Heart

video

I walked into Adfactors PR for the sole purpose of having the brand stamped over my resume. It was my 3rd agency in 4 years and my 5th year as a working woman. I was focused, I wanted to be the best employee Adfactors had ever seen and I snuck very tightly back into my shell, to achieve this goal.

But fate had other plans for me. I met six individuals who would forever change my life. When I first met them, I was indifferent and did'nt want to make any personal bonds, I had always made the clear divide in my head that work friends are merely professional colleagues and best friends are strictly from schools and colleges.

This gang of six though brought magic into my life. I was opening up to them as much as I would to my mother. I found my brothers, genuine friends and soul mates in them. I am not going to joke around about all of you anymore by writing a funny poem.

Here it is, my intense suffocating love for all of you tightly packed into mutltiple tumbling paragraphs :

Briteny, the girl who I had heard plenty of stories about and didn't trust with a barge pole. We got into an ugly cat fight in my first week of work. Once the screaming subsided, the guilt began to set in that I had ripped apart a complete stranger without giving her a chance. She soon became my agony aunt, my support system and an extension of my body. The conversations we had were bizarre to the people who heard us talk, but we understood each other like the waves knew it had to go back and forth on a seashore. She understood my unpredictable nature, my impulsiveness, my terrible short temper and my strange mood swings. She brought a calmness to my storm and tamed me into becoming a more care-free and bindaas person.

Abhishek Ji, I have always been fascinated by your views on the world. It is so vastly different from the thinking of my generation and yet we have everything in common with you. I call you "Ji", because of my utmost love and respect for you. You are a complete teddy bear inside and out. Your heart is pure gold and you would never bring malice to anyone's lives.

Bahaar, my protective instincts are always up around you. I will kill anyone who ever hurts you. I hate to see you being taken advantage of by anyone. You are a very brave girl and I am so proud of you for always speaking your mind so fearlessly. I have learnt the maximum Marathi-Hindi gaalis from you. Never change, not one cell in your body. You are perfect, like a flawless diamond that glitters fiercely in the dark.

Gaurav, yet another person of whom I had heard horror stories of. I was petrified of you and thought of you to be a complete monster. But you turned out to be the most logical, kind and mature older brother a girl could ever have. The praises you have showered on me and the incredible career opportunities you throw my way is mind-boggling. No one does that for anyone in today's cut throat world of business. You have become the voice of reason in my head each time I stumble upon a road-block.

Tasneem, I am sorry to have slapped and pinched you so hard that day in the canteen, but it was only because I love you so much that I can't ever hear you teasing me. I know, I'm a spoilt sport. Your kindness and ever enthusiastic spirit to be an active part of every conversation and activity we indulge in is heart-warming. Your Buddha-like exterior and neutral thought process is a refreshing change and very unlike any girl I know. There is the average girl who is always fighting an internal war in her head and then there's you - composed, cool and relaxed all day, everyday.

Shaveer, your moohfat jibes and complete honesty is an absolute entertainment for everyone around you. No one can win a war of words with you, you will always have a hilarious comeback for every sticky situation. You have the ability to stop wars and bloodshed with a simple pun! You bring undiluted joy into people's lives, like a huge jar of Nutella. 

I have left 6 equal pieces of my heart with all of you. There will always be a hole in my heart which can only be filled by you. I really hope and pray from the bottom of my heart that our friendship remains as strong as it is today. I want us to be in each other's lives forever. I want to grow old with you and maybe even get our children married to each other just so that we are forced to be in each other's lives. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

My Extended Madhouse Family

Briteny, the havoc mistress with her big head of curls,
Bahaar, the bold and beautiful one with her heart of pearls,

Abhishek Ji, our entertaining Narad-muni with a burgeoning bag of jibes and jokes,
And how can I forget Mr Shaveer, our polite penguin who is ever-ready to burst Abhishek Ji’s bag with a prompt poke!

Gaurav, the wise one whose knowledge we all wished we had,

Tasneem, you are not too bad

Monday, November 14, 2016

My Obsession with Beauty and the Beast


Woke up this morning and the first thing I did was watch this new trailer of the Beauty and the Beast movie. Of course, my heart began to race faster than the fastest race horse and my mind began to wander.

What is this craze I've had for this story ever since I was 3? 27 years later nothing has changed. I still feel the same way about the movie and all the characters, especially the Beast.

Then it hit me. It's probably the fact that the Beast is a really twisted bad boy. And of course, thanks to the 10,000 gazillion rom-coms that us girls have been subject to growing up, our minds have been drilled into believing that we will all fall in love with bad boys. Bad boys, who change because of us. Bad boys, who suddenly reform their entire lives just to be with us.

Someone once told me (read : evil relative) that life is not a movie. Real life is not reel life. To that person I continue to show my middle finger. Life IS a movie. We write our scripts, we pen our action, drama and romance.

I love you Beast, always have, always will.



Thursday, September 15, 2016

Nutella Waffles

I had the happiest one month of bed rest and medical leave all thanks to the humble waffle. Hot, aromatic, crisp and oh so sweet, I hereby dedicate the following poem to the golden brown savory :

Many a gloomy evening, you brightened up,
The Nutella oozing between each golden layer made my heart giddyup,

Each gooey crispy bite made me forget my problems,
I didn't care about the calorie goblins,

Can Nutella waffles bring world peace?
Can wars be put to a cease?

The answer is an astounding yes!
So put on your finest dress,

And head straight to your nearest waffle maker,
To gobble down those little golden monkeys like a clueless baker

(Image Source : http://www.pinkdaisyincucina.com/2012_11_01_archive.html)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Bones, Here Today Gone Tomorrow

Do you know what happens to a person when their bones break? They become living zombies. Alongside losing their bones, they lose their sanity, their peace of mind, their confidence, their independence, their personality and their smiles.

I would know, I am an expert in broken bones. 
2012 - dislocated shoulder - lost my independence to zip around my cute bike
2014 - knuckle and wrist fracture - had to stop lifting dumbbells, whereby lessening my chances of losing my shapeless sausage arms 
2015 - acute lower back pain, suspected slip disc - had to let go of my favorite 5-day a week gym routine
2016 - hairline fracture on the right foot - have to stop running immediately (my last favorite exercise which i clung onto desperately to stay in shape) 

I've never felt so down in the dumps, I'm slipping into that dark whirlpool of self pity, misery and depression. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The City of Nightmares

Today was just not my day travel wise. Post work, I got onto the wrong bus, the wrong train and the wrong station. But being the oversmart wise-alec I am, I figured "this is an adventure, I will step onto the next train home, if that's the last thing I do". The squashing/pushing/pulling/high pitched abusive Andheri station aunties didn't play party to my plan.

Two attempts of jumping onto the Borivali local were thwarted back on my face, by said aunties. By the time, the Virar local came, I gave up. I quietly walked out of the station, in an attempt to find an auto. But I did'nt know where the heck I was because Andheri station is a bloody maze! I got out of the first exit I found and walked for god knows how long till I saw the main road. I desperately tried to hail down an autorickshaw for the next 20 minutes.

Somewhere in the middle of all this, I just wanted to burst into tears and yell "Screw you Mumbai!". I felt as lost as the 21 year old me who came here 8 years ago and fell of a local. 2.5 years in this city and I just want to leave. I have lost my hair, my peace of my mind and my sanity. 

Friday, July 08, 2016

The nightmarish Mumbai monsoons

It's raining cats and dogs in Mumbai. As always, the whole city has gone kaput. Trains are getting diverted, the roads are traffucked more than usual and everyone is catching a bad, never ending viral infection. I was tucked deep inside the darkest corners of my blanket and pillows for over a week. Finally back to work and my throat is still going kitch kitch. 

I wonder why folks romanticize the rains so much on social media platforms. The first drops of the rain and people take walks in the rain and begin instagramming foggy car windows. Why?! The rains cause nothing but trouble.

Here's what happens to normal people like me who travel for over 4 hours to work everyday :

  • Cars splash water all over pedestrians and don't give a damn
  • When trains pull up on stations it brings with it a mighty splash of dirty rain water that sprays all over people standing on platforms
  • Toilets in offices stink more than usual
  • Roads get more potholes 
  • Share auto-wallahs begin to charge double the fare
If you still love the rains, you're clearly in some dream world. Snap out of it! And pray that this wretched season passes by quickly. 


(Image Source : https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bombay_flooded_street.jpg)


Friday, June 10, 2016

The eternal weight loss struggle

I'm back to being a nice round 60 kilos from a compact 55. It all began 7 months ago when I picked up this new job in Lower Parel. I was suddenly working 12 hours a day from a comfortable 9. I couldn't gym anymore because of my acute lower back issues, my love for food continued to escalate.

It didn't help that my office complex (Kamala mills) had some of the best restaurants in the city. It also didn't help that after each draining client meeting there were amazing bread pakodawalas and puran poli maushis right outside the client's doorstep. And the icing on the cake, I've met an amazing bunch of men and women at work, who also have a deep love for food and love going out or ordering in.

Slowly and steadily the flab began to show, that mad love for food began to overtake the logical side of my brain and here I am looking like a little hippo.. again.

I decided to take charge of my life and I've begun running again - that lost sport which I was too scared to indulge in because of the back pain. 4 days down and I feel creaky like a rusty Godrej almirah, the back is killing me and the knees feel wobbly. But I feel lighter, in control and less guilty about popping that one extra piece of chocolate just before hitting the sack.

There are some people who can eat a kilo of food per meal and look like an anorexic rod and then there's me, I just sniff food (okay, I'm lying, I eat like a grunting caged pig), and bloat like a puffer-fish.

Let the games begin. Food v/s Me. Here's to looking fit and fabulous again!

(Image Source : https://www.pinterest.com/bariljohnny/weight-loss-cartoons/)

Friday, May 06, 2016

Grandmothers

Grandmothers are those fairy God mothers, who have been planted on earth just to keep us out of harm's way. Remember the last major bike accident, that scary auto ride in the middle of the night and all those testing situations when you thought, "Oh shit, I'm screwed"? How do you think you've gotten out of all those tricky numbers without so much as batting an eyelid? Grandmothers!

Mine is tucked away in Trivandrum, praying endlessly for all my whims and fancies to come true. New jobs, promotions, appraisals - all sorted with one whiney phone call to the grandmother.

Grandmothers are those cute fluffy beings who worry endlessly about you and wait tirelessly for that one phone-call every week. Some of their concerns are borderline hilarious, "You work 12 hours a day?! Quit immediately.", "Your plate only has 5 pieces of chicken, 3 pieces of fish and 4 mutton cutlets. You've become such a poor eater!" But that's the thing about grandmothers, they make you question your decisions and give you a whole different perspective, a perspective from a different time and age. Her innocence and purity of heart is a refreshing change from the corrupt, mind-gaming playing, money-driven generation I'm more used to tackling everyday.   

From being petrified of lizards to developing a fine taste for food, from teaching me kick-ass hair styles (fountain ponies were totally in, in the 90s) to making me understand the importance of finishing my home-work before all the fun and games, you've been a wonderful grandmother Ammu. 

I think it's safe to say that the siblings and I would not have been half the people we are, if it weren't for the solid foundation you laid for us. You've pampered us yet been firm, you've held us back from tricky situations and have given us the courage to spread our wings. You've said no and you've said yes. Most importantly, you've taught us to be kind human beings, to help those in need and to give selflessly without thinking about how it will benefit us. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Musicians

Musicians, that fascinating breed which managed to hold my attention for the longest time. I aspired to be one. I even learnt how to play the guitar just so that I could form a band and get my funk on! Unfortunately, my guitar sir abandoned me after a mere month, made excuses for not showing up and eventually cut my calls.

Being the 'never say never' person I am, I kept at it and began attending numerous underground metal gigs in Chennai at "Unwind Center". "Unwind Center" was a dark, dingy hole in the wall performance venue for the most obnoxious teenage boys from a myriad of random metal bands, along with their 10,000 million anorexic groupies. I tried hard to fit in by wearing black clothes, dark make-up and scary looking junk jewellery. Unfortunately, my roundness (I was 65 kilos back then) gave me away. 

A few years later I met a bunch of "humour metal band" boys who were super talented, humble, down to the earth and the exact opposite of being obnoxious. I found their behaviour rather puzzling. Were'nt they in a band? Where were their groupies? They introduced me to a world of underground metal in Mumbai. These folks looked scary with their gloom and doom metal acts on stage, but were extremely sweet and so approachable offstage!

These "humor metal band" boys opened my eyes to the world of music. They underwent hours of practice (jams, in their language) to perfect every act they pulled off on stage. They spent precious man-hours writing songs, recording them, making them into a full length album and finally selling them to a handful of "fans". 

For the longest time I was proud to be known as their friend. I tagged along with them everywhere. And now that I'm married to the guitarist of the above mentioned band, I see the turmoil in his soul for not being able to really pursue his musical dreams. 

It's time that this country recognized talent and actually paid that talent, HARD CASH. And I don't just speak for the music fraternity, I speak for all artists - painters, writers, poets. We demand recognition! Give it to us today or your future generation are going to be a bunch of unappreciative, artistically illiterate idiots. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Stress Eating

Nothing beats stress better than a freshly fried bread pakoda and a piping hot samosa with spicy green chutney, from the local tapri and from railway platforms.

Rough day at work? Eat
Frustrated with life? Eat
Bored? Eat
Happy? Eat

Stress eating is your brain's way of telling you, "Screw you guys I'm going home". The more the work pressure, the more the quantity of junk food consumed. 

In school, I found solace in piping hot Chilli Chicken Pizzas from Chef Express (a hole in the wall pizza joint in my neighbourhood, back home in Chennai which created the most delish pizzas!). 

In college, I made friends with samosas and kachoris. 

At work, I find comfort in sugary cups of tea and coffee along with large quantities of chocolates.

Stress eating and the waistline ain't friends,
The brain however undergoes a cleanse,
One's soul cobwebs become a little less dense,
And there is the return of common sense
 THE END

If you've read this, thank you for your patience. If you've read it a little and ditched it mid-way, goodnight already! It's way past your bedtime.  

(Image Source : http://healthdrivenlife.com/how-to-overcome-emotional-eating/)

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Siblings

Siblings, those scary older people whose bedrooms you're not allowed to enter. Siblings, those cool mysterious older creatures, whose every move you wanted to copy to the T. Siblings, those extra parents our parents gave us, specifically to baby-sit & scold us younger kids. 

I've had three! My immediate big brother & my first cousins who I always presumed were my own siblings. I could not distinguish between my mother & my aunt. In my head, I always had two mommies & our family was quite large. We all met during summer vacations & family holidays (which were very frequent back in the day.)

Being the youngest had it's advantages. One scream & all the parents would come running to whack the older sibling who refused to share his/her toy with me. One bite & I would have everyone's attention in a jiffy. And as we grew older I was showered with the most expensive gifts ranging from the latest mobile phones, iPods, watches, digicams, branded perfumes, I had it all, even before it hit the Indian market, all thanks to my siblings. 

Our family vacations have dried up. We don't meet so often anymore & we live in different parts of the globe. But knowing that they're all out there, leading comfortable lives, is a happy feeling. And hopefully we'll stick around for each other as the years roll by. 

"There's no other love like the love for a brother/sister. There's no other love like the love from a brother/sister." Terri Guillemets 

Friday, April 01, 2016

My Blue World

I've loved large bodies of water ever since I was two years old. Be it large puddles, a fish tank, a pond, the beautiful backwaters of Kerala, the sea, a swimming pool, you name it. I've wanted to dip myself in all of them. 

Swimming for me is therapeutic more than a form of exercise. I see it as my place of solitude, a place where I can wash away my sorrows & emerge stronger & wiser. Just for that one hour I forget who I am, where I'm from, what I do & just give in to that mass of water. I allow it to engulf me & drown me. 

I've been swimming in my apartment's pool for the past two years & I've made quite a few friends. The most recent of them have been a chirpy motor mouth middle-aged aunty, who is always happy to see me. Like most Indians her idea of friendship is to ask me the most intrusive of questions such as, "Do you have kids?"; "Why don't you have kids, are you not married?"; "Tell me your apartment block's exact alphabet & number" & so on. 

My heart goes out to this woman because I can see that she is making a genuine effort to learn how to swim. I see her splashing along with not one, but TWO floaters firmly attached to her bulging midriff. She waits eagerly for me at the shallow end as I finish a lap to throw a barrage of swimming related questions at me. "How do you breathe underwater?";"Oh! You don't breather underwater?!"; "Don't you get scared of the deep end?"; "Can you adjust my goggles for me?"; "What brand is your swimsuit?"; "Do you wear underwear inside your suit?" etc 

I don't have the heart to tell her that she is killing my water-buzz, my state of yogic trance & my 5 minutes of solitude. 

Any advice on how to get her to shut up, without being rude? 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Bullies

Remember those nasty kids who pulled your hair, called you names & made you miserable in general way back in school? They grew up & continue to exist in the corporate world. 

Bullies, those jealous, rotten tomatoes who've probably been bullied themselves as children. Bullies comes in all shapes & forms at work. It can be your boss, your colleague or that new kid who joined your team.

I witnessed a colleague of mine being bullied by an ex-boss of hers in the cafeteria today, for her attire. I was shocked at first & could not believe my eyes & ears. But there she was, a middle aged, bitter looking woman, with 2-3 chronies of hers cackling away as loud as ever & commenting endlessly about my colleague.

She was rattled at first but I told her to stay strong & take the b*%#h head on. My mind flashed back to that one reckless career decision I had made last year to join a random company just because they offered me a few peanuts more to my existing pay package & bumped up my designation. 

My ex-boss was gay & snappy. He made personal remarks about my clothes, my shoes & even about the organizations I had worked for in the past. I tolerated his nonsense for over a month & then called his bluff. I barged into his cabin sometime mid-week after a whole night of crying & told him to f*%k off. I threw in my resignation the same morning & walked out those doors a whole lot lighter. 

We work to acquire new skills & to rise up the corporate ladder. But most importantly, we work for our self respect & dignity. Anyone who snatches that from us, deserves no time & effort of ours. 

(Image Source : http://antibullyingblog.blogspot.in/2012/02/17-anti-bullying-pictures-for-classroom.html) 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Kapoor & Sons

A gem from Bollywood after the longest time, Kapoor & sons hits the nail on the head, without beating around the bush, sans the over the top cheesy K3G "it's all about loving your family" bhaashan. 

There's death, sibling rivalry, a hilarious grandfather, an unnecessary love interest & a cheating father. Most of us can relate to these characters within our own families. Rishi Kapoor as the perverted fun loving grandfather reminded me of my own grandfather minus the perversion. 

Ratna Pathak as the protective mother who clearly loves her older child more than the younger & even goes up to the extent of stealing the draft novel of the younger to give it to the older, is also something I could relate to. It's okay mom, I know you love your older child a little more, I've made my peace with it (I'll probably get whacked for writing this but it has to be said!) 

With picturesque Coonoor in the background, this movie was a frame by frame dream to watch. Kapoor & Sons is a delicious shot of nostalgia in an old dusty wine bottle that everyone must indulge in. 

And yes, it indeed is "all about loving your family" as Karan Johar has droned on for years & years. The extent to which we can go for the sake of our parents, grandparents & siblings can surprise us.

No family is perfect. We say mean things to each other, we fight, we patch up, we fight again but the bottom line is, when the shit hits the ceiling, no one can clean up your mess better than your family & no one can slap you back into reality better than your family. Hold on to them tight because you need them more than they need you. 

(Image Source : https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/9/9b/Kapoor_and_Sons_look.jpg)

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Parallel Lives

A colleague of mine was describing a job interview of hers to me, which did'nt go as well as she had planned. She arrived 10 minutes late at the venue along with her French boyfriend & she was shown the door very rudely by an employee of the organization. 

She went on to write a sarcastic email to the said person mentioning "the great Indian hospitality" by a brand such as theirs in front of her better half among other things.

I went down memory lane as well when I heard her story and went on to narrate in detail a by-chance interview of mine, which happened 8 years ago with a well known newspaper in South India. A blog of mine had been published in the newspaper and I went down to their office to collect my prize money. Upon reaching their office, I was told by a kind uncle who sat at their front office that interviews were being conducted for new reporters. He encouraged me to go give it a shot. I hesitated at first and then figured, why not? So I went inside their office, stumbled upon a college senior of mine who was already working for them and waited alongside 2-3 other candidates.

After waiting for about half an hour, a snooty looking woman walked by in the tiniest black skirt I'd ever seen on a person, long pencil heels & bright red lipstick. (I had already formed a judgement in my head - I lived in Chennai & was fresh out of college, women wearing clothes like these were found only in dingy, badly lit bars in our city). 

I wondered how this "creature" could possibly be the editor of such a reputed newspaper. My answers to all her standard interview questions, were dodgy & full of arrogance. I really did'nt care about being hired after seeing her. "How much will you pay me?", I asked her snobbily. "Rs 20,000 to begin with" she replied. "Too little", I replied overconfidently. 

The same night I got a call back from the newspaper on my landline saying that I had been selected. I said no of course, being the wise-alec, know-it-all that I was back then. 

As I narrated this story to my colleague, she laughed and said "Just imagine if you had taken that offer. You probably would've been an editor today and people like me would've called you endlessly for my clients and I would've bitched about you and called you an up-tight South-Indian journalist" 

Looking back, I don't regret not taking that job offer but I do regret not being able to write-full time. Had I lived in an ideal world (read: fictional world) sans any responsibility, I would've been a hippy singer and a liberated writer. 

My dreams of being a liberated writer are being lived out in a very small way on this blog. Those singer dreams will probably never take off. 

(Image Source : https://www.pinterest.com/pin/189291990560854816/)

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Clanging Of A Million Souls

The clanging of a million souls - these words came alive in front of my eyes today as I took the 6.30 local from Elphinstone station. I'm slowly beginning to understand the madness that is the Mumbai locals. The city runs on it, I run on it. But I fail to understand why the ratio of the men's & the women's compartments are so wonky.

The number of catfights that could've been avoided, just by having more number of women's compartments are uncountable. The number of &#%$#@ gaalis my ears have gotten accustomed to, in the past 5 months inside these compartments, could've been avoided.

Coming back to my 6.30 local, it was slower than slow. It stopped between stations & the clanging of those steel rods which all the ladies hung on to so desperately were getting louder by the second. Handkerchiefs were coming out at lightening speed from each handbag to wipe away beads of sweat, lesser snacks were being munched on & no one was in the mood for happy conversations.

The mood was grim, 
The train was abrim, 
The lights were dim, 
The space was trim, 
It was hard to differentiate between each limb,
Brave were those souls who managed to hum a little hymn

(Image Source : http://s4.scoopwhoop.com/swet/amul/a25.jpg)

Saturday, March 05, 2016

About the Seafood Wrap at Renaissance, Powai

Food has that hypnotic time capsule effect which takes us back to our childhoods. Be it a family function or an official event, the only thing that keeps me pumped through the whole jingbang is the food.

The husband & I took a stroll down his old college campus yesterday evening which led to a quiet dinner at the Renaissance, Powai. We ended up at their lake view cafe, browsed through their expansive buffet, glanced at our expansive bellies & decided to just order a simple ala carte meal. We settled for their Seafood wrap which promised to be rolled in a wheat paratha with a generous dose of coconut *insert big sounding gourmet words here* - you get the drift.

It arrived as expected in a visually appealing manner with the roll cut in half, accompanied by a green chutney dip & some onions fancily cut & decorated with tomato sauce. A generous helping of prawns, squid & Kariveppila filled my mouth with my very first bite of the wrap. The dark brown gravy took me back to my Ammumma's  house. I pictured her sitting next to me on our enormous wooden table, goading me on to eat more & more. 

Food, that magical thing which transports you back into time & space. 
Food, reliever of all sadness.
Food, the best thing about being alive! 

Friday, February 26, 2016

A Husband-less House

A husband-less house is cleaner, less chaotic & peaceful. It's also lonelier, sadder & without purpose. There's no one to be mad at, no one to pick silly fights with, no one to clean up after & no one to advice 24*7 on the trivialities of life. 

A husband-less house is like Aladdin without his Genie, Vikram without Betaal & Batman without Robin. What a pointless existence that is. I wait patiently for Thursdays, sometimes Fridays for my Chhota Chetan to return - the key mischief maker & bringer of half eaten White Chocolate Red Velvet cakes.

This week, aforementioned Genie/Betaal/Chetan could not make it back home. He is stuck with office duties & might return only on late Saturday evening. My mood began to sink from Thursday evening as I opened the doors to my empty house, after yet another grinding day of work. And now that the weekend is upon me, I feel completely lost.

How in the world am I supposed to kill 24 hours, without my CEO (Chief Entertainment Officer)?

(Image Source : http://www.amazon.com/Always-right-Right-ceramic-coffee/dp/B00N0B1PSM) 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

People in Power

My idol worship mode switches on automatically, like a reflex action the minute I see strong, confident, well established women walk into a room. They bring with them the knowledge, the experience, the wisecracks & the occasional wink in the middle of the most serious discussions. The winks especially flabbergast me! I suppose the cockiness/arrogance/confidence (whatever you would like to term it) comes with years of slaving away & finally reaching the top. I guess they deserve to wink, infact they earned that wink! 

Ideally, that many years of experience must bring with it humility & a quiet aura, but it doesn't. With the tiny handful of years of experience I've had in working with senior people, I can tell you they are anything but nice. They're impatient, they WILL slap you around if you blink like a goldfish BUT the feeling of being around them & working with them is intoxicating. 

You begin to wonder how many more years of chakki peesing you have to do, to reach their level. After a mere 5 years I feel like a dead duck. I wonder how & from where these folks on top get the enthusiasm & the willpower to go on & on & on & onnnnn. Bless them & bless their spirits. If only they could rub off a wee bit of that enthusiasm onto us already tired "young" folks. 

(Image Source : http://siliconharborcommunications.com/2014/09/29/many-women-pr-theyre-better-men/) 


Monday, February 22, 2016

This Song

This song! The most haunting, goosebump inducing melody I've heard in a long time. If this song doesn't inspire you or give you that pumped up feeling, I don't know what else will. In many ways, it represents the melody of life.

We are all dirt bikers caught in the rough terrain of life. Falling hard, getting up, kicking butt, crying a little in between all that because there is only so much a person can fight, there is only so much a person can put on a brave face. Sometimes those wins bring with it much heartbreak and joy at the same time. It's a strange feeling. 

There is beauty in imperfection, there is beauty in failing, there is beauty in just letting go sometimes. Each fall makes us stronger, each wound makes us more immune. 

Here's to us & to this never ending fight for those bittersweet victories. Here's to our lives full of contradictions and confusions. May we emerge stronger & wiser in the midst of this beautiful mess.  

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Mary, there's just something about Mary

Each job brings with it new challenges, new joys & new bosses. Bosses - those people who can either make your work life a breeze or absolute hell! I've been fortunate enough to have worked under some amazing bosses (and some not so amazing ones!). Some leave a mark in your life, some you quickly forget, move on & pray that your paths never cross again. Mary has been the former. 

Mary - that breath of fresh air who came into my life when my personal & professional life were all up in the air. I was newly married, in an alien city, with a boy who was never home AND I had no clue about the PR industry in said city. The first few months under Mary were tough. She pushed all my buttons, dropped me in strange waters & cheered on furiously for me when I emerged victorious after each dicey situation. She soon became more than a boss & a mentor. She became my protector (not just mine, the entire team's), an older sister & my 911 caller. 

Unhappy with work? Call Mary. Unhappy with life? Call Mary. Unhappy in general? CALL MARY ALREADY! 

Mary's last day at work was an emotional one. I felt like a chapter had painfully closed in my life. I couldn't digest the fact that she would cease to be my amazing boss. Office without Mary around didn't feel like office. She created a happy home for all of us & stood by us through thick & thin. She pushed us to our brink & gave us the confidence to do better & bigger things. "You will always be my babies. I will always keep an eye on you & ensure that you do well in your respective careers, because you deserve it. You are all bright sparks in your own ways.", she said with tears in her eyes.

Mary - you've spoilt us all. You've raised our bars & set our expectations way too high for how our ideal bosses should be like. We haven't found a replacement for you & we never will. 

I hope I can grow up to be just like you someday & create a happy homely office, for a bunch of hopelessly lost kids, who grow up to be fighters & successful professionals. 

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Two years down


We've been married for two years today. The dutiful man that my husband is, he sent me the customary red roses with chocolates to work. (We've NEVER gifted each other chocolates & roses prior to getting married). Last year it was a heart shaped chocolate cake with red roses & 7 days prior to our anniversary a bouquet of pink roses were promptly delivered to work, much to the wonder of my colleagues. 

"How can YOU be married to a rockstar?!"
"You're so uncool man, almost aunty like"
"You don't even like metal!"
"8 years you've been together? Bechara insaan!"
"You didn't send him anything on your anniversary for the past two years?! Haww!"
"God bless his soul for jheloying you for so long"

...have been some of the kinder remarks thrown my way. In my defence - I was a very cool person at 21 & I have personally handcrafted whacky yet meaningful gifts & couriered it to him year on year during the eve of our kiddie anniversary - 13th June 2008. (We have two anniversaries. One where we decided our fate & the other where society decided it for us). So I think it's safe to presume that I've earned these grown up displays of subdued affection in the form of roses & chocolates. 

"How does 2 years of marriage & 8 years of being with the same man feel like?" asked a colleague. "Lonely", I replied. "But why?", she questioned bewildered. "For 27 years of my life I've lead a cocooned life at home with daddy & mom dropping me to college, work, watching movies like a maniac & shopping endlessly. And from that being thrown into a city obsessed only with work, making money & surviving in the toughest of rat races came as a shock - without a husband around mind you. His work makes him travel outside the city everyday & we meet only on the weekends."

"So how do you cope?", she asked. "I've adapted. I've become a stronger, less mollycoddled person. I've become the husband & the wife in our relationship. I'm kind to my bais who cook & clean for me & I'm an absolute nightmare for our corrupt Gunda-like society treasurer who tried to pocket 20 grand of ours."

Marriage, in my opinion makes people tougher, patient & more open to a completely different viewpoint & perspective towards life. Some we absorb & some we stubbornly refuse to adapt. As for love, it changes over time. 

I'd prefer a clean house & helping out with some basic household chores to be more romantic than a candle-light dinner in an overpriced restaurant. I'd prefer giving each other space (in our case, space is aplenty!) as opposed to being in each other's faces 24*7.

Marriage - it's not for the faint hearted! Take the plunge only if you are ready. 

In conclusion, I end with a lame joke (because I'm too lazy to conclude this piece in a better manner) - Marriage is spending the rest of your life with someone you want to kill & not doing it because you'd miss them. 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

My 29th Birthday

29, the end of the glorious twenties. 

29, that age when your bones start getting rickety & places of your body which you didn't know existed, begin to hurt violently. 

29, that phase in your life when you decide to stick to a particular career path or not, decide to have babies or not & begin to ponder about "adult things" such as home loans & moving abroad & starting your own business. The weight of the world begins to rest on your shoulders & things get a little more complicated than which dress to wear for a friend's house party. 

29, the age to start worrying about wrinkles & how much weight you still have to lose or maintain to look half decent. 

29, that age when your metabolism begins to slow down & you cannot eat like a pig anymore. That extravagant dessert you had the previous night WILL come back to haunt you for 1-2 weeks minimum. 

29, that age when you can either decide to be a bully with your juniors at work or be a nice person. 

29, that age when people slowly begin to look up to you & begin to take you more seriously. 

29, that age when you become a crabby stubborn mule who doesn't want to listen to other people's opinions anymore (not even your Mom's). 

29, I'm trying hard to shrug it off as just another silly number that is here today, gone tomorrow. 

29! There's no escaping this wretched old age *Sigh* :'( 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Mumbai Locals

I have been petrified of these metal monsters ever since the day I first stepped foot inside one of them. I've been pushed, pulled, smashed, thrown out & robbed of my belongings on these overcrowded metal contraptions. I always failed to see what the big fuss was about these things. The locals swear by them & it is considered to be the lifeline of this mad city.

When I came to Mumbai in 2008 I was forced to take them to work everyday (which is WHY i left the city in the first place). Unfortunately I dont have the luxury to make those decisions anymore because I'm married to this city now. I am a Mumbaikar. I'm no longer considered a Mallu, a Chennaite or a half Bong - I am a Mumbaikar. The city does that to you. It absorbs you & forces you to change & become one of them. 

I tried my best to fight back, to retain my identity, to not take trains. It worked for 1.5 years, I stuck defiantly to autorickshaws, took up a job that was 12 kms close to home (Yes, close!). Distances don't matter here, the time of day when you choose to step out of home or out of office determines everything. If you leave home at 8.00am as opposed to 7.50am, you've had it. If you're a road commuter, beating traffic should be your only goal.

3 months ago I landed a job that is 30 kms from home. I couldn't say no to the offer & I found myself travelling 60kms back & forth on the roads for 4-5 hours everyday. I was burning out, I knew I couldn't do this for long. My new colleagues found me to be an absolute lunatic - either I was stinking rich or I was a complete psychopath. I was blowing up Rs 1000/- a day taking cabs back & forth. After about 2 months of taking cabs, a kind colleague who stayed in my neighbourhood forced me to take the train with her one evening. After much protesting I finally gave in. 

She taught me some simple tricks to tackle the train demon :
  • Find a seat - anyhow
  • If you can't find a seat, stand between the sitting aunties & ask all of them one by one, which station they would get down. Claim your seat, mark your territory & sit down the minute the aunty gets down
  • Take share cabs & share autos - paying full fare for public transport such as cabs & autos are for losers
It's been a month since I've started taking trains & I feel liberated. The money & time I'm saving everyday on travel has made me extremely happy. Indulging in that one extra dress or shoe, no longer makes me feel guilty. 

Although I haven't started munching on chana dals or made "train friends" yet, I consider myself a train pro now. I'm no longer scared of the crowds, the shoving, the pushing & the pulling. Travelling to work has become a breeze - all thanks to the Mumbai locals. 

Friday, January 08, 2016

Home Sweet Home

Home, that safe haven which opens a flood gate of happy memories. Home, that happy cocoon which forces you to leave behind all the burdens of the world & become a child once again. Home, the big house with the cozy nooks & corners, where you spent hours with your grandparents doing inane things. 

Home for me is Trivandrum. Every road in the city holds a memory for me. The Ganapati kovil in the middle of heavily trafficked Kumarapuram road, where Appuppan did a special pooja for me every Friday, the road opposite the railway tracks where Appuppan banged his odd looking brown & white Fiat against a relative's car (said relative promptly came home & complained to ammumma), Shanghumugham beach & the temple next to it, Azad hotel, Piaco, Kalavara, the Sharjah juice center - the memories are endless.

I shed silent tears every time I enter Trivandrum because everything about the city reminds me of Appuppan. As the road slowly winds up to our house, I always wonder how Ammumma has managed to live alone for the past 12 years, in an absolutely remote & cut off part of the city. Our house is right on top of a hill. The view is magnificent, but the silence & the loneliness of living inside such a large house is a very huge price to pay. 

I've always felt guilty that I've never been able to go back to Trivandrum for work or studies post Appuppan's death. I always promised Ammumma that I would go back to her, but it never materialized. 

Born in Ernakulam, raised in Trivandrum & Chennai, married off to someone in Mumbai (who swears by his hometown, Dilli & brags endlessly about how great the capital is), I think it's safe to say I have multiple personalities. I wear my inherent Mallu hat in Kerala, I become a true blue Tamilian in Chennai & switch to a hardcore aggressive work obsessed machine in Mumbai. Each city holds a special place in my heart. Each city feels like home to me. But there is no place like Trivandrum - the city where Appuppan settled down post his retirement & ensured that the siblings & I had the most happiest childhoods.