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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.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


It was only after I moved away from home, family and madras, did I get a clear perspective of what people were really like.

After living all my life in one particular kind of environment and routine, I had no real ‘separation’ to see things for what they were.

You realise whom you thought of as overbearing was just a caring sister.

The person who questioned your decisions and criticised your actions was only being a true friend.

The colleague who spent every night at your place was probably just sponging off you…

Put some distance. That's when you get a clear filter.

That’s when you learn to separate the chaff from the grain.

Like the management joke that goes – not everyone who shits on you is your enemy, not everyone who pulls you out of shit is your friend…

It’s merely a myth that the more time you spend with a person, the better you know him/her. You need distance to gauge a person.

After being ensconced in a routine of sorts over the last 5 years, I got my distance and my space, when I took a break for my second pregnancy.

So you move away, and see yourself and the people around you from a telescopic distance. And their character just pops up. Like pieces of a puzzle things just fall in place.

The insecurity behind a person’s martyr act;

the defensiveness behind a person’s long drawn explanations;

the rabble-rousing behind the uncalled for confidences;

the guilt behind a person’s exaggerated laugh;

and also the trustworthiness behind a person’s brutal honesty;

straightforwardness behind their indifference;

the care behind the non-stop calls;

the warmth behind the silence…

You get to see people for what they are when you remove yourself from the environment.

Just as distance is supposed to make the heart grow fonder, it also helps in shaking yourself out of false intimacies.

But that doesn't mean you won't repeat the mistakes, trust blindly and get taken for a ride. It just means that you fall a little less harder the next time around.

Antenatal hormones can really bring out the philosopher in you.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

fathers and daughters! uh!

what is it with dads and their daughters?
they strut around like vain peacocks, boasting to all and sundry about their daughter, as if the whole world has nothing better to do than oooh and aah over dad's little pride.
about 9 out of 10 recent births (moi included) i know of, have been baby girls, and 9 out of 9 dads are a little off their rocker!
seriously guys, get over it! the world is full of pretty little girls, their pompous dads and their overwrought mums.
and this is not only aimed at the dad who thinks his 12-week old will start talking 'SOON' because she gurgles loudly!

psst: well, as you can see someone is feeling a little left out of the drama enacted by certain daughters and their dad.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Conspiracy theories

  1. Someone has fixed KKR to take revenge on SRK. Has to be, otherwise, no team can do that badly!
  2. Someone is playing a bad practical joke on me. When I am careful about what I eat, and try staying healthy, I gain weight at an alarming pace. And when I am stuffing my face with all I can eat, my metabolism seems to be behaving itself. Is it just because of breastfeeding? Or am in some kind of freakish reality show, unknown to myself?
  3. The Central Bank prints trick currency. The more earn, the less I have.
  4. Marks & Spencer’s employs people exclusively to fleece me. When I go to their sales, every single piece that catches my fancy or fits me, is in the non-sale category.
  5. Credit card companies use a special chip that hypnotises you into believing that you can afford stuff you absolutely can’t (and don’t need).
  6. Samosas and gulab jamuns were invented by skinny anorexic b****** to screw those of us who have no self control whatsoever.
  7. Just when I manage to garner sympathy for the tough life I have, husband makes a public display of helping with everything and daughters act like little angels. When I am fast asleep, I am sure the 3 plot on how to show me up.
  8. The merchandisers/designers of Indian lingerie companies are definitely male or are women who are woefully lacking. How else can you explain the lack of appropriate cup sizes in Indian-made/marketed bras?

Monday, May 04, 2009

Madras Musings III

One of my favourite moments back home in Madras. Fresh elaneer (tender coconut water).

The hard climb up

And down

Getting my drink ready. O clicks this pic on my mobile O with her Ammamma, enjoying the activity

What wouldn't I do for one yummy elaneer, to drink right out of the shell. No straw or any other conduit for me.


I got the idea from Shyam's post. I am pretty sure the purpose of her post was to discourage more awards, and I am doing just the opposite.
But this is how MY AWARD works.
You are supposed to pick a blog that really impressed you, but it can't be someone you know. Not even virtually. It has to be a blog you stumbled upon or walked into through links. It can't be a blogger you have built an online relationship with.
I will do this every month.
I am tagging Shyam **wicked**, Teesu, Blogeswari and the winner of the award to do the same. And anyone else interested in doing this.
The May Award goes to HER.
'Cos she is funny and sarcy, and a lot of her posts I can identify with. And she is a fellow Chennaivasi (I didn't say you can't be jingoistic).
I stumbled upon her blog through the comments section of a blogger friend.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

25 random facts about me OR Ego Tripping

I’ve been tagged on this by many people on FB and blogs. So here goes…
1. I have 2 given names and they both represent the same Hindu goddess. Shows the height of indifference of an atheistic father who gave in to the will of his 3 older daughters and father, by accepting both options.
2. I have an irrational, hysterical fear of lizards. I lose all reason and bearings at the sight of one.
3. My mother is the single most important person in my life (barring my daughters). At 35 I still am greatly influenced by what she proscribes. But that doesn’t mean I don’t piss her off and fight with her.
4. I HATE COOKING. So I don’t.
5. I have a thing for Mallu men. Ended up marrying one.
6. I hate mixing professional and personal life, and try with rather great success to not merge working relationships with friendships.
7. In the many roles I play, the truest is at work. In every other – friend, sister, mum, wife, daughter – I take the other person into consideration, and don’t hesitate to put aside my interests. At work, I play myself with great abandon. That’s the real me with all the negatives and positives out on uninhibited display.
8. I am by nature very friendly, but take a long time making friends. And once I’ve done that, it’s invariably, for life. I have friends from KG whom I am still in touch with.
9. People feel I put an inordinate amount of effort in my friendships. I tend to agree.
10. I make excellent chicken, though I am a vegetarian.
11. I have severe bouts of depression that only certain friends can pull me out of.
12. I feel handicapped if I am not reading a book.
13. I am extremely jealous of anyone who can write humorously (without being mean). There is no better writing than that which makes people laugh or lighten their worries.
14. I multi-task more effectively and more effortlessly than most people I know.
15. I am not VAIN. Though MS spell check never fails to suggest this alternative for my name!
16. I had a crush on Anil Kumble for the longest time. In fact, conned some gullible colleagues that I was engaged to him!
17. Dark skinned men are a big TURN on.
18. Call it envy or scepticism (or plain old b****iness), but I tend to be dismissive of a lot of mediocre blogs that seem unreasonably popular.
19. I believe men ARE better at humour, chess and chilling out.
20. I actually DO LIKE Doha. Even I find it hard to believe I do.
21. I believe in capital punishment.
22. I don’t believe in corporal punishment in schools.
23. I love hanging around airport lounges and second class railway compartments. You can never get bored.
24. I love the bread omelette and tomato soup on Brindavan Express (Chennai-Bangalore).
25. I don’t trust easily, and am innately suspicious of most people.

If you haven’t done this, you are tagged.

Saturday, May 02, 2009


Life is full of them. Mostly little ones, and I’ve been lucky to have more of the pleasant variety than otherwise.
Like this:
I was travelling alone with a 9-week-old infant who seeks little else than regular feeds and a comfortable bed, and a 7-year-old being torn away from her grandparents, aunts and a great time.
Yet, everyone -- from the paediatrician and gynaecologist to my family and friends – was worried how I would cope.
Guess what? I had the most uneventful, peaceful flight back to Doha. My girls were absolutely angelic. They made sure the very first time their mum was alone with both of them would be a good time. O read, nibbled, asked me ever so often if she could help. N slept, fed, slept, fed…
Thank you, babies.
Well, I guess I did deserve a break after some nasty surprises that came my way earlier in the year.
Chikun gunya in the third tri, mismanaged diabetes (by my doc in the first 2 tris), a day in labour but ending up with a c-section, a spinal anaesthesia that wore of in the middle of a cut, slow recovery from a double anaesthesia dose, lack of proper domestic help, mum down with chikun gunya too for the better part of my stay in Madras… probably sounds more nightmarish than it actually was.
But it’s a totally different (and much longer) post recounting all that I am thankful for, and the luck that seems to surround and hover over me.
It is terribly indulgent to feel sorry for yourself – and boy did I indulge! Then it was back to business, getting on with life.
So here I am in Doha after 4 months. Not much has changed except that I have one more little person to cheer me up, forgive me my slip ups, make me laugh (and cry) and make me feel inexplicably high ever so often. O’s load has eased a bit I must say, with N taking on a bit of all this work of managing a borderline depressive/hyper/psycho mum.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

the job i love

you think you have the job you love, your dream come true...
and then a tiny little nudge, to remind you that what you love most is right at home -- though tiring and tiresome at times -- it is not about realising a dream outside home, but living your life within.
how do i up and get back to 'routine'?!

Thursday, April 23, 2009


back to doha!
back to backbreaking routine.
back to blogging?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

And then she is here

Plus = Nilah
Feb 20, 2009; 16.09 IST; Madras

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Madras Musings II

Finding domestic help seems to be increasingly difficult here. While this does create inconveniences, it’s definitely a very encouraging and hopeful sign.

There are more productive job opportunities available
The lot of the class of people traditionally veering towards domestic work has improved
The children of domestic workers are better educated, hence don't follow in the footsteps of their parents
Those who still go in for this job are expecting better pay, terms and treatment
Those at the receiving end of the lack of help are beginning to appreciate the help they have received in the past

It makes me smile… even though I worry that my ageing parents and parents-in-law suffer because of inadequate help. But I guess we can either live with a little dust and grime, or learn to clean up after ourselves.


This is a tag from Deeps. The rule is - I'm supposed to be pasting an image for every answer of mine, from the first page of google image search, with minimal explanation.So, here I go....

1. The age you will be in your next birthday: 35

2. A place you’d like to travel to: Tawang

3. Your Favourite place: The terrace outside my room, at mum’s place. Such a great hang out for my friends and me during school and college. (Looks nothing like the pic. Far, far more modest a place than this.)

4. Your favourite food/drink: Masala Dosai and Filter coffee. And Vodka.

5. Your favourite pet: Like dogs. But not a major pet person.

6. Your favourite colour combination: Orange and Pink

7. Your favourite piece of clothing: Bootleg Jeans

8. Your all time favourite song: So many. But to choose -- Leaving on a jet plane…both Denver and Chantal versions.

9. Your favourite TV show: Grey’s Anatomy & Ugly Betty amongst current. FRIENDS is an all time fave.

10. Full name of your significant other: Bungeecowboy is what he likes to be called.

11. The town in which you live in: Doha

12. Your screen name/nickname: vanish_forever

13. Your first job: Was selling ice cream makers in a trade fair in my teens.

14. Your Dream Job: Living the dream. A journalist.

15: Bad Habit you have: Never trusting a compliment.

16. Your worst fear: Losing someone I love. Literally and otherwise.

17. The one thing you’ll like to do before you die: Educate at least one child (in need) other than mine from primary to higher, and see him/her successful in a career of his/her choice.

18. The first thing you’ll buy if you get $1,000,000: I would set up a lending library for children, charging only a maintenance fee. And then indulge myself guilt-lessly, having done my good deed.

And I hereby tag, Shyam, Teesu, Blogeswari, MG, Usha (when she gives me her blog id), Inbavalli.