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Thursday, May 28, 2009


Today another little girl had to give up a good portion of her freedom.

I don't give a d*** about what the stupid advertisements say -- happy period, indeed! Periods are a pain in the ASS!

I am for all things natural and beautiful, even if it means a bit of an ache here and a pain there. But menstruation? I just don't get it.

Couldn't there have been an easier way of nature communicating our readiness to procreate? Couldn't there have been a simpler way of reaffirming month after month that we are in good health and that our body is functioning the way it's meant to?

I would gladly settle for any of these alternatives – an ugly mole on the left buttock, 2 pimples erupting every 28 days. Or even just plain old stomach cramp for an hour every month; But does it have to be this much of a 'bloody' pain every month. 

When I heard of this little one getting her first periods, all that I could think of was giving her a big, long hug as she bids good bye to all things simple... and then I worried about how I would react to my girls going through this. I can't wish this away – after all it's a sign of good health.

I remember my own initiation. In the summer of 1986, soon after my 12-year run as the baby of the family ended (my niece, the first grandchild, made her appearance). I was spending a few days of the vacation at my crazy-funny aunt's house. Unable to control her fit of giggles, she dropped the laundry she was doing -- when she made the 'discovery' -- and rushed her two sons and me into a rickshaw. All that I remember of the 5km-ride home was how hysterically giggly my aunt was.

When my mum explained what the drama was all about, I found little to be amused about.

Yes, at 12 I had no clue what I was in for. Despite growing up in a household of women -- mum, aunts, 3 sisters and a multitude of girl cousins, and studying in an all-girls convent, I was blissfully ignorant of the P word.

And I can't forgive my mum or sisters for not preparing me for this.

I remember early-bloomer friends of mine discussing 'monthlies' the previous year and when I asked them what they were talking about, they pointed out a movie poster at the bus stop. Sly Stallone's First Blood. I made the connect only that summer.

Yes, I was dumb and ignorant! WAS is the keyword here...

I don't let my Periods (however, painful) cramp my style. I still keep with my routine. But WE (I and every other woman) have earned the right to be ill-tempered about it, and crib to our heart's content.

It's just not about 'chums' (why such a benign monicker for something so mean?), it's about everything that goes with it. 

The bleeding, the cramps, the crankiness, the embarassment of a stained skirt on a public bus or watching the Carefree advert on telly with your boy cousins and wishing you could disappear!

The breasts, rounding your shoulders in the hope of making it less evident, and frustration that it doesn't work; the lecherous stares, the bras, straps biting into your shoulders, the tenderness, the hormones, the acne...

Yes, guys have their pubescent woes too... but why does ours have to be so much more 'out there' for all to see? Just when we think we are done with this, then it's time for hot flashes, night sweats and hair on your chin.

Oh, I am all for loving who we are and celebrating womanhood. Just wish it were a little less celebration on these lines.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

how to get rid of 10,000 calories a day

i've mastered this. i can get rid of even more than that.
i don't fight it. i just eat it. polish off my plate. and voila! thousands of calories down the drain -- eventually.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

My Mind is a Drunken Monkey

As I sit down to blog, my mind flits across so many cues. So I decide, what the heck?, let me just write the way my mind feels now. Like a drunken monkey.

Am I two-faced because:

I can detest someone as a professional and still love them as a person;

I can respect someone immensely for their work, yet feel cold towards them as a person;

I can find a million faults in my closest friends, yet don't feel any negativity towards them;

I can find a million virtues in someone I dislike, and still not give them a chance...

Does this make me two-faced, or just someone who can balance things well?


A colleague asked me if something I mentioned in an earlier post referred to her.

I was not only a little taken aback, but also intrigued that she wanted to know.

For one, what if I had said it was her. How would she have taken it? And isn't it best to assume the best about yourself, unless explicitly stated otherwise?

**S, this is about you :)**

I haven't shared this blog with my family -- who try to read every bit of crap I write, in support of the career choice I've made. I like the privacy of writing something personal in a public forum.

But I guess that's an oxymoron. Privacy on a blog.

Still social networking sites and blogs could well blur the line between professional and personal interactions. A line that I used to take arrogant pride in maintaining well.


Not till a couple of weeks ago did it hit me that I don't hug and hold and pet and pamper Nilah, the way I used to Oviya. Yes, I do everything that is NEEDED. Feed, change, massage, bathe... Needed, done.

I am so conscious of upsetting O, that I am guarded in displaying my affections with N.

Then my buddy Amira (3 kids wise) recounted how the first time she held and hugged her second born was when he was 1 year old. When the older one was asleep, and the husband was away. She held Karim for a couple of hours, giving him all the exclusive attention due to him.

Until then I thought being the youngest was the best thing in the world. 'Cos, I am the youngest of four, and never tire of the pampering I receive.

But on second thoughts, I never had my parents' focussed attention.

Now I make it a point to hug N at every given opportunity. If O is around, I ask her to join in. Or sometimes, I remind her that when she was this small Amma and Appa were all hers, EXCLUSIVELY.

I still pay O more attention, because the lack of it will affect her more than N. However, I am slowly trying to bring in a balance. For starters, I ask O to not disturb N and me during feed times, so that her baby sister is fed properly and doesn't stay hungry or cranky.

Baby steps. Tiny, little baby steps in balancing the 2 girls in my life.

Someone whom I admire immensely as a writer has expressed this journey so much more beautifully.


The sutures have healed, the memories of pain are distant. And already a wicked little voice in my head is asking: "Wouldn't it be nice to have one more. Just one more...?"


I don't want to think about it. I want to pretend that it's a long way off or not happening at all. But it is. M -- my 'bestest' friend (as O calls her) in Doha -- is packing up. Who will I call for advice? To crib? To take out shopping... who will I bully, though she is a couple of years older to me. I just don't want to think about it. I will have to eventually, when I reach for the phone one of the evenings and realise she is not around to answer my call.


We have made the most 'Gulf-Mallu' (GM) of all decision (second only to buying gold). We are buying a WHITE TOYOTA as a second car, and for exactly the same reasons that we laughed at others for. Good Resale Value. And we are only half GM. How did this happen to us. Do you automatically become a GM after 10 years in the 'Gelf'.

And talking about 10. We came here for just 1 year, in 1999. And every year we stayed on for just 1 more.

... the Monkey in my mind will continue to wander.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

it's all there in the mahabaratha

When my dad kept telling us that there is absolutely no plot, story or angle that the Mahabaratha hasn't covered, I took it with a ladle full of salt, mistaking erudition for jingoism. Over the years, with every book and movie I watched, I sensed the familiar – of a story told before. And I am nowhere close to even reading 1 percent of the epic in its entirety. I’ve read the different versions of Mahabaratha for Dummies.
The latest read (for me) in the easy to digest books is The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. The epic from Panchaali’s point of view.
The book is INTERESTING because the epic and Draupadi are, and READABLE because of Divakaruni.
Reading this book, I couldn’t help but pick up the dozens of similarities between the epic and many of my favourite books. In particular the Harry Potter series (recent memory). The conversation between Panchaali and Krishna as the former leaves the material world is resonant of the one between Dumbledore and Harry at the railway station. Not just in substance, but even in the formation of the sentences. Also the walk through woods and Harry’s vision of the departed spirits, and Panchaali’s similar experience. Is it Divakaruni’s interpretation that is similar to the last Potter book? Or is the epic itself. I haven’t read it in its entirety to draw a conclusion on that.
But through out the book, the emotions of the different characters are akin to those of Harry, Snape, Voldemort and Dumbledore.
Then again, we can’t blame Rowling of plagiarism – for the Mahabaratha seems indeed to have covered every possible human emotion, and hence covered every conceivable plot.
Be it Pip’s misplaced loyalty in Great Expectations, the younger one’s frustration in Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper, or any of Grisham’s legal pawns, or the jealousy between Betty and Veronica in the Archie’s comics, why even conversations between Calvin and his imaginary pal Hobbes – the stories have been told. At a different time, in a different environment, but told already.

I’ve always preferred the Mahabaratha over the Ramayana, simply because the first had heroes with flaws and villains with virtues, while the latter was about a real whinnie…
Though more learned folks would say that my understanding is limited. I stay with my judgement.

In any case, I do feel we need to be aware of resources other than the Amar Chitra Kathas (awesome as they are) and B R Chopra’s rendition.

This is a good site to refer too as well.

One book that I read and enjoyed immensely is Mahabharata: A Child's View by Samhita Arni , Tara Publishing. Written and illustrated by Samhita over a period of years and completed before she turned 12!

For more specific reading, is a well-explained and organised site on The Gita.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Small Change? Big Deal.

I refuse to take toffee for change. I simply refuse, and I don't mind waiting and holding up the checkout line, but I will insist on getting my change and not some stupid chewing gum or toffee that is never consumed.
I have a draw of these, 'cos husband dear doesn't mind. Especially if it involves cute Filipinas flashing a smile and extending polo for the riyal they owe.
But not me. I find it difficult to believe that large supermarkets don't have enough change on them? Ridiculous.
And here is the latest in my 'small change' experience.
I happen to have an account in arguably the worst bank in town, the Standard Chartered.
For canceling a debit card I didn't ask for, hence didn't collect, they charged me Qr25. I complained to the customer service desk there, and said the charge of Qr75 (instead of 25, and it was a genuine slip of the tongue) had to be reversed. And the exec came back saying it was 'only' 25 (and obviously from his expression the unsaid was "what's the big deal"). 
The 'Only' 25 was earned by leaving my kids at home and going to work. It was earned by using my brains. It was earned by dedicating my time to a task. So I snapped, even if it's just 25dhs, I want it back.
They looked at me incredulously... and I glared at them ready to snap. They have promised to look into it and get back to me.

The issue is not the 'amount'. It is the principle. If I WISH to burn 25 bucks I will do it as I see fit, not because someone thinks it's small change.

And since I've already named the bank, let me name the supermarkets too -- Lulu: Every time. Every single time. Anything less than a riyal is never returned in currency. 
FFC fumbles too, but rather rarely.

I just hate the way people are dismissive of 'small' change. Other people's 'small' change that is.