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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I am grateful for all these things and more...

never having lived in a war zone
my literacy
my family, despite their quirks
my friends, despite mine
my teachers
the lottery vendor who sat near my school bus stop, chasing away lecherous fellas
the neighbour who keeps my mum company
not suffering a debilitating illness or disability
my daughter's to-die-for mischievous smile
and her irrepressible curiosity
R's patience with all my eccentricities, and then some
for making my living doing something I LOVE
for the colleagues I have had over the years, who motivate, support and criticise...
to Gandhi for making my country so instantly identifiable. it gets more pronounced, since within India it is fashionable to come down on him, while world over it is the opposite
for Indian movies that entertain me so fantastically
for all the authors who have made my life so much better
for Babu who not only keeps my home, but cares for it. And by home, i also mean the people in it
for Anjalai who is so much a part of the family, I don't even know why I'm singling her out
for all the great breaks I've got in life, personal and professional

Monday, October 29, 2007


Ever wondered how most terrorists/criminal look like your ordinary 'man-next-door'?
Osama can pass off for that congenial old bachelor uncle
George Bush can pass off for the intellectually-challenged, but well-meaning colleague
Salman Khan can be mistaken for that cocky elder brother of your best friend
Rumsfeld, the headmaster who tries to hard to be funny, but doesn't quite pull it off
Tim McVeigh as that geeky kid in school who flunked every subject except computer science
Dawood Ibrahim is that lecherous uncle, you can't run away from quickly enough (well, not that he is not lecherous in real life, if one were to go by media reports)
Prabhakaran makes great engineering designs for infrastructure projects (different matter all together that he is in the business of blowing up these projects)

Can you think of more?

Doll's Story

R & I took O to Toys ‘r’ Us to buy her (all of 6!) birthday gifts. We veered her away from the Barbies and Barbie-type monstrosities (she has only about 2 dozen of those, and we didn’t buy a single one of it).
And not satisfied with that, we tried to get her to pick up more lifelike dolls. As she tended towards fair-skinned, blond, blue-eyed life-size doll, we convinced her that it was not as nice as the dark-skinned, brown-eyed, black/curly-haired little moppet that stood in a corner. We marketed the doll well, and walked out of the store with that… We tried dinning it into her that this doll was superior to the former. Is that racism? Are we telling her those with fair-skin and light hair/eyes are not good enough?
Or is it positive reinforcement that it takes all kinds to make the world? That the role-models fairy tales and toy-makers push ahead are not the real stuff?
I have to give it to the Americans, though. Be it Barbie, Bratz or any regular doll, they give you a choice of ethnicity to choose from.
What is really appalling is that in India, most dolls are ‘the fair-skinned, blond, blue-eyed’ varieties… now how many in India fit that mould?
I am sure some think I am making a pox out of a pimple.
After all it is just a doll! But it is more than that. It is a child's first exposure to prejudices.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Am I being judged?

I recruited a new cook-cum-babysitter on Oct 1. She lasted less than a week, and though I thought my world was falling apart, I survived the next 10 days, till I found another.
Now, my worry is -- Am I being judged?
Madam No 2, stomps into my house, starts clearing out and cleaning up my kitchen cupboards, gets all the dry goods into boxes, throws out expired foodstuff, folds every last piece of clothing in the laundry bag, arranges my daughter's cupboard...
I can live with all this (though I wonder what's the big deal about 4 week old laundry not finding its way from basket to cupboard, and so what if I have empty bottles and dry goods in the original packaging, and does it really matter if my daughter's home use, underwear and party wear are all together?)...
Though I can tolerate her attempts to organise my home, I refuse to be judged for coming home and charging right to bed for a nap, and then potter around doing nothing for an hour, after which I force myself to the gym...
When she comes back to work next week, I am not going to make excuses for taking a nap ("I wake up at 5.30 am I am tired"), not clearing up stuff ("I have a bad back"), and for leaving my child behind with her to go the gym ("the doctor insists")...
I will not make any of the above stated and the dozen other easily mouthed excuses.
What if I had been super organised, very energised, and totally not lazy? Whose loss would it have been? Hers of course!
So she can go about cleaning, and organising and papering my shelves, but I am not going to let her get to me.
PS: I have had a cleaner -- B -- for 6 years, who does a great enough job without making me feel small. He even leaves visible dust spots and uncleared garbage to make me feel better about myself. So what is her problem, huh?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Before I Die...

... Or While I Am Still Alive

I want to Learn to
* Control my anger
* Tolerate other people's quirks and play down mine
* Play one sport, that doesn't involve the keyboard
* Use Shorthand with fluency
* Parasail
* Deep sea dive
* Ride a sports bike
* Ice skate
* Speak Arabic
* Be a Better Mother
* Be a Kinder Daughter
* Be a Saner Wife
* Be a More Accommodating Friend
* Have multiple orgasms (or should the learning be by the other?)
* Please, and be pleased easier
* Carry my bulk with a bit more grace
* Answer irritating and embarrassing questions from daughter without losing my temper
* Reply without being rude to indecently inquisitive queries from absolute strangers
* Hate the Brits a little less
* Love the mallus a bit more
* Enjoy being ogled/leched at
* Ogle/lech less obviously
* Earn tonnes of money
* Save tonnes of money
* Do the above, without cutting back on shopping
* Shop without guilt or doubt
* Be less jealous of every author I read. You either have it or you don't
* Laze without making excuses for it
* Not procrastinate

(will continue rest later)

My Sister's Keeper

A new author, a new experience. Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper.
Moved me to tears. Parts of the book were brilliantly written. Parts were an attempt to do so. Was a bit confused on that count.
Otherwise such a topical issue. Just thought the end was a bit too sad... it was almost like the author doesn't like loose ends, and was tying up every arm of the plot.
Still, raises so many ethical issues connected to medical research and treatment.
And of course, as always, you realise there are no easy answers, sometimes no answers at all, to most issues in life. Be it personal or professional.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Books and the people who got me into it

As all of Hardy's books, you can either be totally taken in by it, or absolutely bored by it. I love Hardy's style and plots. So daring and so beautiful. Jude the Obscure particularly pushes the limits. The trials of an unmarried couple, if I can take the liberty to simplify it so stupidly! Hardy was introduced to me by my English teacher Mrs Kamakshi when I was in Class 8. Must have been 13 or so. She gave us a short speech and asked us to identify what was unique about the speech. Only two of us in class could identify that the speech was a string of book names. Two in a tower, far from the madding crowd, jude the obscure... it went on. I had remembered the names from my sister's and father's library books.But it was only a year later that I read my first Hardy, Far From the Madding Crowd, as the teacher insisted I should. And I was hooked to it.
Then my father's friend (Kapali mama, whose children were not into books) gifted me his entire collection of Hardy and Lawrence, when he realised i was interested in these books. Old books from the '50s and '60s. Yellowed. Name written with an old-style fountain pen, bound in cardboard and canvas for longevity.
Everytime I read one of the books from that collection, it is not just the plots and words that transport me into a dream world. It is also what I imagine of the previous readers of the book. Old uncles in the younger days, reading Hardy in public and Lawrence on the sly.
Discussing the daring adventures of the heroes of these books. The poetic flow of the authors... the many friends of Kapali mama who borrowed (was my dad one of them) the books and read it under the single electric bulb in the sitting room in the late '50s.
I don't think I ever quite thanked Ms Kamakshi for nurturing my love for books, introducing me to new authors, tolerating my over-ambitious florid essays and gently guiding me towards more understated elegance. That I am still in love with books and words is a tribute to her. I don't know where she is, if she is still there. She was nearing 60 when I was finishing school in 1991.
Again, I don't think I thanked Kapali mama sufficiently either. I just greedily grabbed the books with a perfunctory 'thank you'. He is no more, but am sure he is aware that the books are in good hands, and his gesture was enormously appreciated.
Next time someone introduces me to an author, lends or gifts me a book, I better thank them properly when I have the opportunity.
While on this, I better thank my dad, who however hard-up he was (4 daughters and a sister to educate and take care of, apart from a long line of cousins who stayed with us, all on one salary), he could never say no to money that would be spent on books or studies. He can quote from Shakespeare and whole bunch of other classics. He is the one who drilled into us that no matter what you have in the wardrobe, it is what you have on your bookshelf that matters (not so politely though).
And then I should thank my sister (no 3). She made reading books hip for me. Since all other rolemodels where old and not-so-fashionable, it was the sight of my college-going sister burying herself in the classics, that kept me clear of other junk books that my friends devoured. Of course, I would sneak in a few in defiance, but never enjoyed the read.
Books. What would our life be without it?

Monday, October 01, 2007

more ways to ignore!

facebook, orkut, ims... there are more and more ways now to NOT keep in touch with people. earlier it was just not calling or not writing a letter... now the possibilities are endless. you can ignore people on chats, on ims, on scrap!

beautiful inside, my foot!

what the eff is with 'beautiful inside' bullshit. if someone told me i was beautiful inside, i would kick them where it hurts, and then curl up and moan my not so beautiful outside.
you watch tv, especially american, and you see these pseudos always referring to ugly people as 'she/he is so beautiful inside'. hang it please!
here is my take on beauty. there are these varieties of people who look good regardless of whether you love (brad pitt) or hate (aish bachchan) them. but beauty is something that grows on you. how many of you would call you best friend 'ugly'? how many parents would think their kids are butt ugly?
if you really like/love someone, they automatically become good-looking don't they?