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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I Can Love, Too

Before you dismiss me off as a cynic...

The first glimpse of Madras as the flight takes a turn around the bay and heads towards St Thomas Mount. At night it glitters, during the day it looks wonderfully green
Long haul flights. Probably because I do them only for work, and hence don't have to travel economy.
The fact that I don't have to pay for BA Club World
My work, not necessarily my job

The smell of babies
Smell of MY baby
The non-existent wrists and ankles of newborns, and their million little wrinkles
Blowing raspberries
Massaging their tiny hands and legs and torso
The confidence with which children mispronounce words
Their total disregard for being politically correct

Being pregnant
Breast feeding

My husband running his hands through my hair, when he thinks I am asleep, but I am only pretending
Holding hands for no reason at all
Long, fast rides on the HOG, and then the static sensation on the skin long after you are off the bike
Sharing a dosai, and racing to the masala-filled centre
Kisses. Sensous ones from a lover. Sloppy ones from my child. A wholesome hug and a kiss on the cheek rolled into one, as only mothers can dish out.
Hugs. Of all kinds. (If you want to win an argument with me, or end a feud, just give me a hug. I will shut up)

Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Emily Bronte, Ann Patchett, J K Rowling, Stephen King
The Boss
Brad Pitt
Lost, Desperate Housewives, Gilmore Girls, Friends
Kathy Griffin and Ellen De Generes
Men with smooth. dark skin, and a ready smile

The now extinct Sayadeen Cafe in Doha, that served the yummiest dosais. Sob! Sob! No more!
Rasam saadam with potato fry
Filter Coffee
Pongal, both the dish and the festival

Shopping in Pondy Bazaar and Egmore platform in Chennai and the souq in Doha
Buying cheap footwear, knowing very well it wont last
Collecting watches and pens
A good argument
Being right, always

The smell of rain
The beach
A Marlboro light and vodka with a twist of lime, alone on the beach
Spending the night by the beach, at the foot of the dunes, eating idli and chutney, with friends who matter
Sleeping naked
Bubble baths
Cooking for a group (only)
A neat house, without in anyway being responsible for keeping it that way
The smell of sun-dried clothes

(to be continued)

Friday, August 10, 2007

My Hate Rant


  • Men who lech and think they are being cool
  • Men who adjust their testicles and scratch their crotch in public
  • Men who wear tight trousers that gather at the crotch and rise at the ankle, and think it's cool
  • Fair men who have no hair on them. Really yuck!
  • Men who pee where ever and when ever they please, just because they can do it standing
  • Salman Khan
  • Wife beaters
  • And the wife who takes it more

  • Parenting tips from people who don't have children
  • Parenting tips from people who do have children
  • Parenting tips... Period
  • Supermoms who look down their sweaty noses at those of us who tend to relax a wee bit
  • Fathers who think their parenting participation begins and ends with impregnating their wives/partners
  • Parents who think rude and badly behaved children are cute and naughty! At least show your disapproval if you can't correct the child

  • Bras. More so because I can't afford to not wear it
  • Frayed panties that show over hipster jeans. If you HAVE to wear those jeans, go get yourself a proper pair of panties please!
  • Mismatched blouses and underskirts with sarees...
  • Tall women who wear heals
  • Tall women who wear long skirts. A la Aunt Hilda
  • I hate cynics (and whatever this rant may sound like, I am not one)

  • Slim women who show false empathy and talk about their excess weight to those bordering on obesity
  • And more so, when they are patronising enough to say, "You are just big, not fat!"
  • Women who obsess about their weight so much, they can't hold a conversation on anything without it turning into "Have I gained? Have I lost?" rigmarole. Who the eff cares?
  • Fat women wearing spandex. Hello? No mirror at home?
  • Flat chested women wearing low necklines. That cut is only for the well-endowed please!
  • Women who pretend not to gossip. Bullshit! Who really doesn't?
  • Flight attendants who are mean to those who seem to hail from the labour class, while ready to drop their pants for those flying business/first.


  • People who honk just as the red turns to green at the signal
  • People who honk for no reason at all
  • People who keep flicking cigarette ash out of the window
  • People who drive with their kids on their laps
  • People who drive autorickshaws. Bloody thieves!

(to be continued)

Madras, Nalla Madras?!

Board Qatar Airways to Chennai, and know immediately I am almost home.
Lecherous men -- the way only Tamil and Malayalee men are capable of being -- drool at every female on board over the age of 12. And worse still, they think they are doing the women a favour!
They also try to pack in as many Jack Daniels as possible.
Qatar Airways once again shows its total disregard for common sense. A flight bound to Chennai, and apart from the veggie meal, the only other available is beef curry! Don't these guys do their homework?
Anyways I knew for sure I had reached home (flight landed at the unearthly hour of 3.45am), when a cop reeking of alcohol tries to thrust a 500 buck note (probably flinched from another passenger) into a traveller's hand and asks him to pick up a bottle of scotch from the duty free.
I knew things were changing for the better in some ways, when the not-so-assertive looking traveller turned him down pointblank and walked away.
Immigration was superbly efficient and quick... they really can give some tips to the sloths at the Doha airport.
Porters were very helpful and very obvious about wanting to be rewarded. Which is fine, as long as they were are helpful.
Advantage of reaching at that unearthly hour is that traffic is easy.
For the first time, no one comes to receive me, because I insisted. The travel agent's car is there to fetch me.
Am definitely home, when goofy my aged and almost-blind cocker spaniel still recognises me and brings the roof down. And my little one wakes up to fill me in on all the details (that shows her in angelic light) with me.
I am home!
PS: A counter at immigration reads Diplomats/Physically Challenged. Shouldn't it read Diplomats/Ethically Challenged? Why insult the disabled by clubbing them with diplomats?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Same Old Fear!

It's the pre-India fear again. I am not ecstatically happy as I was a week ago. On the eve of my departure, India is more frightening than exciting.
What would one year of absence throw on my face?
Would appa's prosthetic knee have slowed him down further, making his age that much more obvious?
Would there be extra greys on amma's head, and denser wrinkles on her hand?
Would my sisters' lives have evolved so much that I become not more than an annual guest?
And friends...
Like I keep saying, though I return year after year to India, my reference point is still the year I left it for good (or worse) in 1999. Those are the memories that are frozen in my mind...
But for those who have continued to live there, there is little connection to what life had been 8 years ago.
Am I already a stranger at home? Can I still call it home? India, Chennai...
This fear never goes away. If anything, it festers, and grows deeper every year.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Writing Type

It was a reply to a mail I sent last year. It reached me last week.
Of course, the writer of the mail took several months to complete her rant, but she made it worth the wait.
S is my only 'postal' correspondent.
We chat almost every day, mail each other on the days we don't, or at least exchange a few text messages. Yet, we have managed to write letters as well.
Ok, I just read the lines above, and it may sound weird. Let's just say we have lots to gossip about, are rather highly opinionated and think we deserve to be heard... that should explain why we correspond so much.
Anyways, last week I landed grumpy at work, to be greeted by this fat brown cover on my table, with a familiar handwriting on it. The cover was so bulky, I actually thought it could be a book or a scarf... It was something for more interesting. Over a dozen pages of rant. It took me more than one read to decipher the whole letter, for obviously S is no longer comfy putting pen on paper... her handwriting has always been 'horrible' to put it politely. Now it has taken a turn to the worse.
Still, no other gift, absolutely none, would have made me this happy.
I have small briefcase full of letters and cards, when it was still in fashion to use paper and pen.
I love receiving post... And mourn rather often of the dying art of letter-writing!
And I am just so glad, even if it is once a year (or two), there is someone who thinks it's cool to WRITE to me.
Thanks S.

Monday, August 06, 2007


A friend of mine has started her gym tales, and this is no competition to that.

But this is about the contrasts in my gym.
First the ones who are are there to workout:
Fat women, indulgences, excesses, too much to eat, too little work, enough money... and too little clothes... leaving nothing to the imagination.

And then the cleaners at the gym, who go around wiping down the sweaty machines, and cleaning the floors:
Skinny women, not enough to eat, too much work, barely sufficient salaries... and oversized clothes, hand-me downs.

One wishing for the other's body.
One wishing for the other's comforts.

A sad, sad world!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Bad Momma House

I should post this here also.
But let me start here.
On July 2, my five year old daughter travelled alone to India, to have a longer vacation there. R and I will join her in the next couple of weeks. First me, then him.
The first 2 days were AWFUL.
Then things kind of fell in place, and I tried to make best use of the situation.
Now before you do so, let me give you full right to judge me, badly.
It doesn't matter, because I think I am learning the tricks about guilt, and know how to handle it.
For the first time in some years, R and I have time together. I work days, he works evenings, so any common time is spent being parents.
And as you can imagine, that left little time for us to be just 'us'.
Might I hesitantly add that we are beginning to enjoy this time alone. That we don't bark and scream at each other so much. We seem to look at each other as people instead of appa and amma?
But we appreciate this break. We are not bogged down by responsibilities. In fact, my kitchen has been officially closed this last few weeks.
We don't have curfews, bedtime, school activities etc to contend with.
It is not that I don't feel guilty. But as R keeps pointing out, she is having fun. The grandparents and aunts are loving it.
Yes, not like I sent her to boot camp to spend time with R.
And when I look at it very, very practically, this will benefit her more. Because the next time she sees her parents, she will notice (yes she will, because she is smart little thing) that we smile so much more at each other. That we are not so quick to snap and fight.
She will notice and she will like it.
So here is the moral of the story: Parents should absolutely have time alone at least once a year. I don't mean dinner and weekend at local hotel. I mean totally alone.
I don't know how soon we will relapse and become those grumpy parents again. But it is certainly nice while it's lasting.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Writer? Me too!

The next time someone tells me, "Oh, I write too", in response to my "I am a journalist" introduction, I am going to scream like a BANSHEE!
9 out of 10 people tell me they write or love to.
"I write letters to the editor of my local newspaper, every week. Two have even been published." -- Yes, you are ripe for the Pulitzer now.
"I used to write for my school/college magazine." -- Wow! Ramon Magsaysay award probably?
"I used to keep a diary. When I was 12 years old. For a whole month." -- Right, Let's look for a publisher. The next Anne Frank, are you?

Don't get me wrong. I think writing is a great relief, and everyone should write at least few lines every now and then. It is refreshing and puts things in perspective. Take blogging, for instance. A fantastic medium, and such amazing talent.

What I have a problem with is when I tell people I am a journalist and I write for a living, they think it is the same as their "Why I love my parents" essay in 2nd grade.

The pomposity of these people gets to me.

Just because I manage to operate the myriad electronic appliances at home or change the light bulb, does it make me an engineer?
Just because I know how to do a neat dressing for a wound, or prescribe myself and family paracetamol for fever, am I a doctor?
Just because I do my household accounts, does it make me a Chartered Accountant?
Just because I sing in the bathroom, am I Shreya Ghosal?
Just because I shake and sway crazily when music of any sort is played, am I Michael Jackson?

Remember, the Pen is mightier than the Sword.
And next time someone uses the 'I am a writer line..." I will poke him/her in the eye with my mighty pen.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Flash from the Past

A photo. 4 gawky teenagers, grinning widely into the camera, sharing a joke, that even after 15years still brings a smile to our face. We remember the outing, we remember the exchange, we remember the hysterical giggles and shrieking laughs. We remember it all.
A picture that takes us away from the mundane routines of our lives. Home, office, children, husband... A picture that not only triggers lovely memories in the four that are in the frame, but the 5 who are on the other side of the camera.
Do you ever wonder, that memories are rarely in video mode. It is more a series of snapshots, almost like a cartoon film. You flip through those images quickly enough, and it plays out beautifully.
The reason I consider myself truly lucky is not merely because of those images, that I have those memories...
It is because all those who made those memories what they are, are still very much part of my life. My sisterhood. A link where all of us are in touch with each other, either directly or indirectly. Touchwood, none of us is estranged. Busy, pre-occupied, sometimes down, sometimes indifferent, but never estranged. We are all in different places in our lives. Our priorities are different. Yet we are there always for each other.
And that is saying a lot for women, who tend to wander away from their best friends, their best memories once they are married.
... I keep looking at that photo, that one of the gang dug out and sent to all of us. I also keep thinking that we were better looking than our low self-image led us to believe then ;)