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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

and then it suddenly dawned on me...

in that one moment i knew...
that single word turned my life around...

why can't i have one of those life-defining moments.
all my realisations and wisdom creep up on me so slowly, so gradually, i don't even realise that something has dawned on me, or my life has turned around, until it's old news.

i keep hearing and reading about such experiences -- where people have risen from extreme poverty, mind-numbing grief, or just found a focus in life, that was missing till then.
i am still waiting for that flash of blinding light, that will open my eyes to a new world...

only thing even close to this experience is when i lost a really great diaper bag, with all the stuff in it. it was a gift from my sister. when i complained and whined about it, she said: "it's just a thing. why does it move you so much."

that has stayed with me... and no 'thing' has ever had a control over me since.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

should i really call dr phil?

because my daughter thinks i should?
she sees this totally dysfunctional couple being advised by the bald and boring dr phil, and quips: "You and appa should talk to him. You fight a lot."
And then adds, for good measure: "I find him interesting. He gets into my head."
scary, scary, scary... does she really see us in those so-over-the-top-dysfunctional couples??

ps: did i mention that she is just 6!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

all about impressions

tell me, is there any one of us out there who would not like to be remembered better than we actually are?
slimmer, taller, smarter, prettier, richer, wiser?
does being already famous, take away your insecurities.
the super rich, super smart Oprah, still wants to be slimmer...
Monroe wanted to be blonder that she was (why, but?!)...
Bill Gates wants a bigger empire than what he already has...
am sure the Mahatma would not have minded a healthier crop on his head...
and am sure stephen hawking wants to be remembered as more than just this amazingly brilliant scientist and visionary. and i am particularly sure that he doesn't want all his images to be in the wheelchair. he wants the image of him weightless and flying to be splashed more often. so i refuse to carry a news image, and replace with an archive image. people think i am taking editorial freedom a little too far.
fact is, it has nothing to do with the job in hand, but the thought in my mind.
how do i want to be remembered?
physically -- from my 19th year
mentally -- now
emotionally -- right after my daughter was born
financially -- sometime in the distant future

i would make a prototype of this... and that would be me, weightless and flying in space.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

thoughts are as damaging

why can't it be ok to think the worst thoughts, if we don't put any of it into action?
why are even thoughts guilt-magnets.
every time i think ill of someone, or even think way too highly of myself or mine, i get a gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach... what am i inviting with this thought?
an american friend of mine, after a bad break-up, flew straight to India for some nirvana. She came back glowing -- the hours of yoga and just joy of not working, obviously. But she told me it was something more. That in India she learnt that it's not enough to be correct in your actions; your thoughts matter too.
I joked: which part of India imparted that wisdom to you, that i've never had access to...
then i realised... that being political correct was not really part of our collective psyche. that's something we have acquired over time.
we act as we think. we pee and spit where we want, we complain about racism when we treat dark skinned people with absolute disdain, we have no qualms in making public our preference for rich gods... if it's in our mind, it's in our action. why should we pretend otherwise.
but the good side of this is that when we do realise we are not being so nice, we don't just change the way we behave, we also try to change the way we think... or so i believe.
which brings back to my immediate worry: why the hell can't i bitch and be mean and nasty in my thoughts, without looking so bloody guilty the next time i meet the person.

Friday, April 18, 2008

why i don't like the praying type

of all the religious type, the ones who spend hours praying are the ones who annoy me the most.
somehow, they feel the hours they put in praying absolves them from all their responsibility.
that they don't ever have to give or help or think about those who are not so privileged. the PRAYER assumes that his hours of praying (hours that have made no good difference in anyone's lives) don't oblige him to be a good citizen.
i know people who make it a virtue of wearing off their knees and foreheads in genuflection; but ask them to give 5 minutes of their time or 10 bucks of their earning for a good cause? their worn knees will carry them quicker out of your reach, than Flo Jo!
i am sure those prayers are mainly demands... for more and more. for self and family.
why not a word thrown in for say world peace, the Dalai Lama returning to Tibet, that their underpaid and overworked servant manages to get more money out of their stingy hands?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008



  1. I admit I am powerless over shopping -- my life has become unmanageable.
  2. I have come to believe that a Power greater than me could restore my sanity -- a power called 'more money'.
  3. I will make a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of the Retail God as I understand her.
  4. I will make a searching and fearless inventory of my wardrobe (i need more).
  5. I admit to Retail God, to myself, and to another human being the exact nature of my wrongs.
  6. I am entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of income.
  7. I humbly asked HER to remove my bad credit.
  8. I will make a list of all persons I have harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all. Next time, I will not shove you in the check out line. I will not grab the last pair of shoes from your shopping bag...
  9. I will make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. Why remind them of losing the shoe?
  10. I continue to take personal inventory and when I am wrong, will promptly admit to it, and exchange the goods for better ones.
  11. I will seek through prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact with God as I understand HER, praying only for knowledge of best sales, a little more money, and of HER Will for us and the power to carry that out, without making wasteful purchases.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, I will try to carry this message to shopaholics, and to practice these principles in all my affairs.

Plagiarised from the original Twelve Steps as published by Alcoholics Anonymous.

1.We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5.Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His Will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

one of those days...

... when people actually haunt you.
i feel so lucky, so often, to have such a huge and close-knit family. dozens and dozens of cousins, and double the number of nieces and nephews. aunts and uncles for every hour of the day...
most of them are around -- ailing, irritable, annoying, creaking, screaming... i'm glad to have them around, even if i see them not more than once a year. i'm glad that they are there, and just as they visit my thoughts, i visit theirs.
in the last few years, the one person i lost, and i genuinely miss even now is Ganeshathai.
my dad's foster sister, our chosen aunt.
old, deaf, generous to the point of being unreasonable, loving to the point of being indispensable -- there is a catch deep inside at her very thought.
she never forgot a birthday or an anniversary. she never forgot a celebration, when it concerned her adopted nieces/brother and sisters-in-law.
and we never will forget her -- for choosing to light up our lives, though hers was so blighted. widowed young, abandoned by her only son, and taking care of a blind and cranky mother... she looked forward to her regular visits, an escape. we looked forward to it too... for her stories, her touch, the little packets of biscuits and chips she brought along...
a retired corporation school teacher, on a meagre pension, in the care of some kind relatives... that's how she passed her last years.
tiny and bird-like, she had a sense of ridicule that was as sharp as her hearing was blunt.
i think of her, her look of pride every time she spotted my by-line in the newspaper, her hug and gift every birthday, her total devotion to my father...
rest in peace.

and then he's gone

i remember the wedding day so vividly. nov 15, 1984. at vellore, and it was raining heavily.
the day my cousin married him. rotund, gregarious, his conversation punctuated with smiles and laughs.
i was just 10. class 6. the wedding was a welcome distraction, as dad was just out of hospital. i was being disciplined in school, and my family was very angry with me for my misdemenour and the humiliation of being called to school (seems so trivial now. and i would do all those things all over again).
then they move to delhi, for years we would meet during vacations or family celebrations. the cousin i was always very fond of. she boarded with us through college and work... till she got married.
life was never easy for them... situation -- both self-made and inflicted -- has long been difficult. then last August he suffered a stroke. yesterday he died. just when things were looking up -- his daughter in a good job, son set to join a MNC -- he just gives up and dies.
sitting thousands of miles away, i wonder if his last thought was a joke. if his last expression was a smile.
definitely not the closest brother in law, because in a family as huge and mad as mine, very few one-to-one relationships were possible. but he definitely was the funniest.
rest in peace.

Monday, April 07, 2008

what shapes our child

i understand now, and see it in action with my daughter, that a parent's direct approval or disapproval doesn't really count or influence the child.
it is the subtler influences that matter.
it is not only about who your child plays and socialises with... but your approval or disapproval of the friend.
i am not sure if i am clear in what i say.
but i've realised that over the years, what i am or do is a reflection of people my mother or father approved of or respected.
things could have gone real bad, and i may have just decided to do the opposite. and that's where i guess parents' real challenge lies. to ensure that teen rebellion doesn't become a personality trait. that how much ever a child may defy his/her parents, there is the acknowledgement that there is truth to what and tenderness in how, they communicate.

why isn't any one else bothered?

or at least why aren't they showing that they are bothered?
every morning, when i drop my daughter at school i keep my fingers crossed that all the kids make safe passage. the school bus drivers are nuts. the race into the campus... they drive recklessly on the roads. and when i complain (and i complain often and bitterly) i am told "what do we do? we keep telling them. you give us bus numbers and we will take action against the driver."
and then those who walk in or out of school smoking a cig? don't they even have a pea-sized brain? and then again i seem to be the only getting worked up over this, picking fights with the erring parent or driver or whoever...
i am not a prude. i enjoy my smoke and drink, but i do believe in setting examples. i would never smoke in front of my child or any child. and so often, at cafes in family malls, i see parents wagging cigarettes and blowing smoke into their kids' faces.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

missed being bobbit

only difference i would have used a knife or my high heels.
last night again, right outside the elevator, at home, a flasher. i screamed, raved, and gave chase... no one came to my help, as i shouted for people on the road to stop him.
and i kept hoping, as he sprinted across the road, that he would be run over, open fly and all... wished so hard.
even now i feel upset, angry, helpless, terrified and just so sad...
what if the next time it is my daughter who sees him first. or worse still what if she had been alone.
what drives people to such perversity?

this is not a harangue against mallus

still... what the heck!
the disclaimer first. i don't hate mallus. i am married to one, and most of my friends are malayalees.
but i've really started noticing them as a unique entity only after coming to the Gulf (gelf, if you please).
it annoys be when the respond 'kerala' when someone asks them where they are from... and i don't mean queries from fellow indians. even if you specifically ask them which country they are from, they say 'kerala'.
at my arabic class, when we were talking about postal systems, and i referred to the indian one, this 'effing' M tells the class, "oh, it is the same even in Kerala."
i wanted to kick her where it hurts, as the class of mixed nationalities looked incredulously at the two of us in class. After all, aren't we from the same country.
yesterday, a new colleague asks me which country i was from. i was amazed. my name, looks, accent are enough to tell the guy i am from the same country as him. when i asked him why he would ask me such an inane question, as if it weren't obvious, he actually had the gall to say. "Oh not many malayalees in the office. so i thought you were from some other place... madras or something."
and people think i'm prejudiced when i come down hard on these folks.
**repeat disclaimer :)**

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


i had decided that i would be surrounded by snootiness. and at the rehearsals to the fashion show i was vindicated to an extent, as a couple of the grumpy models (pals, frown lines are worse than laugh lines) refused to smile at anyone over a size 2.
so on the day of this exclusive show (only for sheikhas and others who had many thousands of $$ as spare change), i decided to beat them at their own game. i would turn up my nose and put on display my intellectual (if they can pretend to be more beautiful than they actually are, i can pretend to be more intelligent than i really am) superiority.
but, i could not stay grumpy or quiet for too long, and start chatting with the fashionistas around -- the buyer, the consultant, the connoisseur and what-have-you; and believe you me, they DO work. what they do is both challenging and interesting -- i really hate to admit this -- and it requires brains too...
don't get me wrong, i am no fan. but i am not as contemptous as before. i actually liked a lot of them (barring the grumpy models). i didn't even have the urge to stab the one who sat across me and tucked into the cookies, canapes and cakes, and looked like she hasn't had a calorie in decades.
i even picked up a few dos and don'ts. the don'ts are easier to understand -- don't ever wear any of the clothes in my wardrobe.
the dos... well i'm done with that!

thank you yamini

i remember only her name. can't recollect anything else... not a face, characteristic, quirk.
but i am grateful to yamini; thanks to her, I escaped being the last name on any roll call, for 10 years in school.