Saturday, December 12, 2009

Why I am interested in Tiger Woods's musical beds.

A friend asked in her blog if the media interest in Infidelities was justified. I had a comment to make on her blog. Go check her blog out. She is an insightful writer and the blog is very good.

Below is what I wrote as a comment on her blog.

I do not see why the media should NOT write stories about Tiger Woods and his shenanigans. Tiger Woods sells and how! As bad boy and good (endorsements). He is a whole economy by himself. PGA will suffer, golf and all its support industries will suffer, why even shaving cream companies will suffer millions and billions if the Tiger Woods brand is devalued by his actions.

As such his story is deserving of media coverage and as the ultimate consumers we have the right to be both amused and entertained by stories of his peccadilios; just as much as we have the right to be informed of how the devaluing of his brandname will affect our own purchasing power. Any phenonmenon that affects my saving/purchasing capabilities must be investigated, giggled at, raged at or ultimately shelved for future reconsideration.

In the US context, it follows that the brandname devaluing of politicians or other powerful people who behave badly, will affect my life in many ways.

Indian or European sexual mores or definition of badboy behavior and brand devaluing is different. The corruptability of the press and also the profitability of the press in other countries is also a factor in what stories are newsworthy in economic terms. I am not going to compare what is acceptable and where. It is apples or oranges to guavas.

Money decides everything ultimately in any country, in any era, even how many beds a man or woman can warm.

Money also decides if it is acceptable for the aggrieved spouse to rage at the unfaithful one, golf club in hand or to accept the "transgression" in sati savitri fashion.

Ultimately money defines a culture and its mores.

Men and women have behaved badly everywhere, and in every era. Today, it affects me monetarily. Damn right, I am interested in the gory details.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Google schmoogle

Did you know that THE top google search keyword that brings folks to my blog is....

drumroll please....


I guess I am owning it since I talked about Chutiyas and Chutiyagiri a very long time ago. Folks from Argentina to Norway and Patna have been searching for Chutiya and stumbling across my blog. I hope they enjoyed the rest of my humdrum posts too.

Okay here is another one : Haraami Kutta!

That should bring a lot more people to my blog.

Excuse me while I go wash my mouth out with carbolic soap.

Friday, October 23, 2009

In which she gives you a household hint and an excuse to get yourself a drink to start the weekend right!

So I can flip from fertility issues to household hints to political rants and then gossip! Yeah, I know sometimes you dont know what to make of me. Sometimes I dont know either.

So get yourself a glass of something good, a plate of something fatty and crunchy to eat and start your weekend off right... and read on.

I just saved myself a pile of money! Saving money is cause for celebration right? Go on, celebrate with me... go have have another drink! See, I just gave you another excuse to start your weekend already.. did'nt I?

Why am I so thrilled? Because I stopped myself... in the nick of time... from throwing away a couple of All Clad pots, that were the stars of my culinary world. I used them for everything. They were very expensive but just the best things that I had ever bought for my kitchen. I think I probably saved up for a few months for each pot, so you know how much I loved them.

Recently I have become a less than careful cook and they had become horribly charred. So bad that even steel wool and earnest scrubbing could not rescue them. Everything stuck to the bottom and everything cooked in them tasted burnt. I wrote to the manufacturer and used every possible thing to fix the problem... including this which can basically clean anything off anything. Sigh... I was ready to weep.

I had tossed them in the garbage, when an Aunt of mine came to visit from India. She pottered around my kitchen, switched all my spices and pots around until I could not find anything anymore, declared that we did'nt eat enough good ghee and she also lectured me endlessly on how wasteful we were. Worse, she threw away Husband's preserved pickled Herring! You can tell that she was generally begining to annoy me.

I was not really surprised when she started frothing at the mouth when she saw the pots in the trash. What she did next though surprised me.

She had me dive headfirst into the slimy garbage and pull them out and rinse them off. Then she told me put an inch of water in the pots and soak a cupfull of Sago .. Sabudana... which is different from Tapioca ... in the water overnight. The next day I was instructed to boil up the whole slimy mess and stir with a wooden spoon/non stick spatula while the mess boiled. Imagine my surprise when the charred bottom bits came unstuck... in huge flakes! No scratches, no elbow grease, no hard labor. It was like a miracle! It was wonderous! My pots were back to thier new pristine glory. It truly is a miracle I tell you. It was like pulling a few hundred dollars out of the garbage!

Since then I have used Sabudana to clean pretty much every mess in the kitchen. Counters with stuck on, dried on food like egg or aataa? Those burnt on patches on the oven shelves? Non stick pans which actually do stick if you forget to turn off the stove and are on the phone with a fun friend? Cleaning the outdoor grill? Scuff marks on highly polished dining table? Yeah, you guessed it. Sabudana in its various forms! Boiled up/powdered/gloppy paste. All of them work.

Now if I can only get the family to eat Sabudana Khichadi... sigh!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

For rent?

Amitabh Bachchan has been a larger than life figure in my childhood and adolescence and certainly epitomised my idea of a movie star! I have always admired his acting skills and recently have come to appreciate his writing skills on his blog... though perhaps not the content.

Recently his noisy rants have been colorful and mildly amusing being that they come from his august mind. In a post on his blog he writes about gestational surrogacy and his feelings about that phenonmenon. His thoughts are buried in this post.

As someone who has gone through the entire wretched and excruciating process of fertility treatment, I was disturbed by his remarks. But then he can be excused. He and several others with hardline opinions have perhaps not walked a single step in the painful shoes marked infertility.

For me and my husband, while the process was long and sometimes felt hopeless we were blessed to have two children.

Has the experience left us completely unscathed? Perhaps not. The psyche is scarred and the joyous presence of our kids is still an incomplete balm. The entire process of fertility treatment has left us slightly different people. Very happy and content, but different. That my friends, is how big the issue of fertility is for many couples. For those who have not walked in our shoes to color the issues as good/evil in broad brush strokes is not warranted. To say children are merely commodities in our eyes makes a mockery of our desire to nuture a biological future generation.

I have written a comment on his blogpost and reproduce it here. Every blogpost of his generates a few hundred comments and perhaps my comment will get buried somewhere. So here it is for your reading pleasure and comment.

I do reccomend that you read his blogpost too so that you get reference to context. Let me know what you think.

My comment follows.

At the risk of sounding curmudgeonly and shaking a virtual finger at you, I have something to say about your view of surrogacy for those faced with fertility issues.

It really and truly takes someone who has been through the extremely hellish process that is dealing with fertility issues to understand the anguish, hopelessness and feelings of personal loss that women and men seeking a child are subjected to. As a veteran of that process, let me assure you that even my own beloved mother did not understand my pain during those excruciating years. There is no way she can understand (though she tried hard to see things through my eyes and heart)… just as I do not expect you or Kutty, Madan or Puri to understand unless they are face to face with the issue of thier own infertility.

Ofcourse it follows that desperate people seeking a biological child will follow through any avenue allowed by modern science and where legal issues are not insurmountable. Surrogacy is just one such avenue. Does it make someone less of a mother because she did not carry her child in her own womb? Is seeking an affordable surrogate a crime for middle class person? Do middle class people have no right to pursue that course and pay less for the procedure if the “birth” mother (and i use this term loosely) is being also benefited? Is the child going to be less loved because it was not nourished by its nurturing mother’s placenta?

I think to color the entire issue in broad strokes with a black paint is wrong and is insensitive to those who struggle with fertility issues.

i hear so often… oh why dont they just adopt! yes, that is certainly an option but hearts and minds must come to terms with that eventuality when all other options are useless. Some decide to adopt and some cannot. Does it mean that the ones who decide not to adopt are incapable of loving a/thier child? ofcourse not! So why would I blacktar the issue of a possible surrogacy without considering that there are many shades of grey to that decision… just as there are so many in life.

Yes, i do agree with you that laws need to be carefully examined to allow for all circumstances to be covered before the child is even concieved. In that and in adoption laws, India needs a huge wake up call. However to denigrate the avenue of surrogacy as lacking in human values of parental love and affection is wrong. For some of us, it is the only way out.

Monday, October 19, 2009


So this is what I have been doing! On many fronts! More to follow.

Yeah, that is my strong arm!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Interview with the Vampires

This tag is going around and I loved it. No one tagged me for this. No one ever tags me *sigh*

I ganked it from my namesake in Mumbai.

As much as I complain, praise and declare my love for my "just turned 5 Son" and "just turned 7 Daughter", perhaps a faithful reportage of my kids own words and actions will give y'all a sense how they interact and think.

ME: What is something I always say to you?
SON: Behaaaave! *makes exaggerated eye rolling motions*
DAUGHTER: I love you. *gives me a hug*

ME: What makes me happy?
SON:Singing in the shower. *giggles*
DAUGHTER: When I kiss you *kisses me*

ME: What makes me sad?
SON:Hitting your head! *makes wild and crazy whooping sounds and makes windmills of his arms*
DAUGHTER: When your legs hurt, like today. *kisses my left knee*

ME: How do I make you laugh?
SON: Singing in the shower. *now he is rolling on the ground with laughter*
DAUGHTER: When you tickle me *looks very serious*

ME:What do you think I was like as a child?
SON:A vegetarian.
DAUGHTER: I dont really know. *said very slow* ....IwantanAmericanGirlDollGymnasticsOutfitSetFromSamantha *said very fast*

ME: How old am I?
SON: A million *very serious*
DAUGHTER: Oldddddddddddd. When are you going to Billy to color your hair again?*very serious*

ME: How tall am I?
SON: 17 feet *said very fast*
DAUGHTER: 5 Feet or something. But Dad's really tall. He is the tallest in the family. *squinting at me*

ME: What is my favourite thing to do?
SON: Singing in the shower *makes dancing motions and pretend scrubs himself*
DAUGHTER: Buying Stuff *giggles madly*

ME: What do I do when you’re not around?
SON:You coooooook something.
DAUGHTER: Go to work.

ME: If I become famous, what will it be for?
SON: Wearing makeup. *jumps on the couch*
DAUGHTER: Singing *does some Hip Hop dancing motions and sings Romeo (Taylor Swift) into pretend mike*

ME: What am I really good at?
SON:Training *makes weighlifting motions and goes aaaahhhh aaaahhhhhh*
DAUGHTER: Doing Kick boxing. Sometimes you are and sometimes you ar'nt. Right? *squints at me looking skeptical*

ME:What am I not really good at?
SON:Singing in the shower *very serious and straight face*
DAUGHTER: Fixing things. *very, very, very serious and straight face*

ME: What is my job?
SON: Cooking and talking *runs into the kitchen and comes back waving a ladle in the air*
DAUGHTER: Stuffffffffff *looks very bored*

ME: What is my favourite food?
DAUGHTER: Vegetables

ME: What makes you proud of me?
SON:When you give me a pedicure. *jumps on couch and throws a pillow across the room*
DAUGHTER: After you are done getting a shot without crying. *looks very serious*

ME: What makes me proud of you?
SON:When I sing in the shower. *proceeds to sing Tomorrow from the musical Annie*
DAUGHTER: When I get everything right on my spelling test. *kisses me*

ME: What do you and I do together?
SON:You give me a pedicure. *massages his left foot while hopping on the right. Daughter pushes him over. Son falls down. Fight ensues. Son cries*
DAUGHTER: Go to the Mall. *looking hopeful*

ME: How are we the same?
SON: Same in a different way. *looks very puzzled*
DAUGHTER: We both have black hair. *swings her long hair around and around and around and promptly falls down from dizziness. Spends two minutes crying. I have to kiss her*

ME: How are you and I different?
SON: Mom I want Pancakes! *loud voice*
DAUGHTER: You wear glasses when you read. *soft voice*

ME: What is one thing you wish you could change about me?
SON:Mooooooom I want pancakes! *very loud and swinging aforementioned ladle*
DAUGHTER:You not wearing glasses when you read. *pulls my glasses off*

And I tag whoever wishes to take this up. It is fun.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Hunterwalli and the toe that hurts today

Nina is a very talented writer who writes some lovely blogs. I enjoy reading her work tremendously. Today she wrote a poignant piece about Life imitating Art and vice versa. Read it here. Scenes that bring back feelings, memories and thoughts happen to us more often than we realise. Why, this happened to me just yesterday!

Last evening I had a "Fearless Nadia of WadiaMovietone Hunterwaali /Robert Deniro Taxi Driver "you looking at me"/Ralph Macchio in Karate Kid " MOMENT. Yeah, all of them at the same time!

This was in a traffic altercation in my peaceful little suburban hamlet where a goose crossing the main street causes the 7 man policeforce to come out in full force with lights flashing... to protect the goose!

So anyway it is important that AN APE was being impatient and honking madly behind me while I craned my neck to make sure it was okay to make a right hand turn on a red light. He probably was upset because it was getting to closing time at the Zoo and he had to get back to his Apehouse before the zookeeper found out he (ufffff...the ape, not the zookeeper) was missing. The Ape was impatient but I was being careful because I had the kids in the car with me.

After the turn was made, the Ape forced me onto the road shoulder and stopped his Apemobile in front of my car. He clambered out of his car and rapped his hairy knuckles on my window. And then ofcourse he proceeded to make an ass of himself by yelling in my ear.

Needless to say by this point I was chanelling all three movie characters in thier iconic scenes... Fearless Nadia and Robert Deniro and Grasshopper Ralph Machhio.

I just looked at the APE with derision and narrowed eyes ... I was itching to be dressed in a one shouldered tigerskin dress, swing from a tree above him, bodyslam him and then kick his teeth in with my extremely overrated kickboxing skills. At this point I was mentally counting how many of his teeth I could knock out with a roundhouse kick and a left hook! However I was also wanting desperately to be zen. Zen won. YAY ME! Mr. Miyagi would have been proud. I smiled and shut the window in his face.

Ofcourse after the Ape left the scene, I kicked at a tree branch viciously in frustration and sprained my toe! I then hopped around on one foot howling with pain in the manner of PeeWee Herman on a Sunday morning kids show. It didnt help that my pesky kids and thier even more irreverent friend sitting in the back seat howled with laughter at that sight!

So many scenes, so many emotions from so many movies in 5 minutes. I even enacted a TV show. Guess I am also plagarising a life script as I move through it. Are the media walas doing it to me too?

Monday, July 6, 2009

The King sat in his counting house, counting all his money!

A blogger whose posts are clever, thoughful and very topical writes about rearing generous, balanced kids in a material world. A very thought provoking post. Go read it here.

Interestingly enough I was in the process of writing a post that covered the same issues... a financial education for my kids. I brought it forward in my long line of unfinished drafts because this topic is red hot in my house RIGHT NOW. Fortuitous or what?

What was the catalyst for this post you ask?

Well, an unexpected expense reared it ugly head a month ago. A weather related "act of god" (or something like that according to the insurance company) means that we absolutely have to buy a new car. Not the runabout small car which hopefully will continue to run for a few more years *fingers crossed*, but the family car in which the kids and thier friends are transported to thier million activies by "moms taxi company"! Right now as a one car family, we are absolutely crazed. Mom's taxi is also transporting Dad around and the taxi driver (yours truly) is exhausted! We need another car and we need it now.

In unexpected ways, the process of buying the car has begun the lessons of a financial education for my kids.

At "just turned 7" and "just turned 5" my kids are begining to understand delayed gratification just a bit. Not all of it but some bits. I think the crux of "a financial education" is understanding delayed gratification. The car is now the object of thier delayed gratification.

I have involved the kids as much as I can in the process and have told them we need to save up for a new car and must spend wisely in the next few months. The process of physically clambering into new cars at the dealerships, smelling the leather seats (dont ask) and taking test drives with us and being asked what features they would like in the car (son wants a DVD player, daughter wants a moonroof and large cargo area for her bike and picnic coolers) mentally and physically connects them to a tangible goal/reward for saving. I think it makes them as excited to save the $2 the tooth fairy gave Daughter as I am thrilled to save $25 because I only bought the items advertised on the first page of the grocery weekly circular (try it, works everytime). It has given them a sense of what money can do for them. It has made the concept of money more concrete in thier minds.

Ofcourse they have thier greedy moments when they need everything they see. The million peices of bubblegum and yet another Hannah Montana made in china T shirt that will fall apart after the first wash, and the sponge bob bubble maker that sputters to a stop when we put the bubble solution inside. That continues, but it is now sporadic not the continous whine it used to be.

Now we make plans of what we are going to do and what we need before we go to the mall. A carousel ride or the trip to the ice cream store is a given at the mall, but it is begining to stop at that. We discuss the merits of buying yet more "bear clothes" at Build-a-bear (the worst waste of money I ever saw) versus getting that DVD player option for the car. I think Daughter really gets it. Son gets it about 75% of the time.

I think something that has helped the process along fast has been that Husband and I have always tried to live with only what we love. We are very minialist in decor and collecting possesions around us. There are only three things we collect as a family. Clothes (because I love them), books and art (because we all love these). Every June and Jan, Husband and I literally take a trash bag room to room and will remove any item that has not been touched or loved in the last six months. What is removed is given to goodwill. The kids and the Husband make a big production out of the process of this donation. The kids have been watching and absorbing. Over the years, I think the kids will learn to live with only what gives them the most pleasure to be around. Ofcourse for right now the kids continue to keep thier million Barbies and Stomp Rockets and whatnot. Those trash bags arnt in use in the kids rooms... for now!

My father, an ex military man has a phrase he likes to use... shipshape. It means that whatever you have must be in the best working order, else it goes out the door. A great mantra for decluttering material or non material things from lives.

About generosity. Because the kids had not quite understood the power of money and how to be generous with it until now, we allowed them to build a sense of empathy with the less fortunate by doing things that didnt involve money. Things they could do by themselves. For example daughter said she could help sick kids by growing her hair for locks of love (hair over 10 inches is donated for wigs for kids with cancer). Son doesnt get that yet but he will... especially when we come to India in Aug and he notices the street children conciously for the first time. My daughter was reduced to tears on our last visit and she had so many questions which needed honest answers. This time I want her to start interacting with them in some way. I dont want the interaction to have a patronising flavor at all. I would like her to meet them as equals. She will learn and be helped by them in ways perhaps different from what they will learn from her, but it needs to be and will be a meeting of equals. (Any suggestions of how she can do that on a short term basis in Pune/Mumbai will be most appreciated). Groups the kids belong to, like Scouting is also a great avenue for them to learn to do things for the community. The kids need to learn that there are people who have much less than them. I hope it will make them appreciate thier good fortune later on.

There is a long way to go and much time to do it in... it is a process. And I am still learning myself!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Manmohan se Pyaar Hai!

She wrung her manicured hands, sindoor streaking down her Jolen bleached forhead, tears streaming down red rouged cheeks, her mermaid style draped Manish Malhotra sequined silk sari rippling against her anguished heaving chest.

"NAHIIIIIIIIIIIIIII NAHIIIIIIIIIIIII! How am I going to get people to understand its not THAT Manmohan I pine for, its THIS Manmohan"

Arrey yaar, not the sedate blue turbanned sardar in Sadi Dilli, I am talking about Manmohan Tiwari. He occupies my thoughts now!

And you have to ask... who is Manmohan Tiwari??????

That my friends is my guilty pleasure. I spend an hour on youtube every evening catching up with a desi show that has captivated my imagination. Captivated it in a "trainwreck but cant look away" kind of way. It is totally over the top, and sleaziness and drama and every cliche is guaranteed to appear. Even the sets and art direction are totally timepass in a good entertaining OTT way. The cast has a spunky protagonist, poets, wanna bes, mama's boys, social and career climbers, men who look like they will either start a fight or start crying at the drop of a hat/dhoti/sari, a villan and every bollywood cliche you can imagine. It is fun. It is timepass and a good one at that. It makes me laugh and weep by turns. Love it!

The show is "Rakhi Ka Swayamvar". The premise is The Bachelorette but knowing Rakhi and her propensity for drama shama it will have huge chunks of I Love New York. Lethal combination yaaron!

I have linked Part 2 of the first episode. That should set you on the right track to follow the show everyday.

I will be giving you my totally unnessary commentary as often as I can because I am that way... generous to a fault and I like y'all! hehehehe.

So will you watch and weep with me? Youtube is free everyday yaar. You gotta!

Some unnesecary kuchbhidotcom commentary on the first three episodes follow. Skip this if you havent seen them yet. But come back and read ya hear!!!!!! Else everyone gets spanked!

Who do I like the best? Thats where Manmohan comes in.

Manmohan Tiwari is T-O-T-A-L-L-Y adorable yaar! He is rocking the Khaike paan banaras walla thing in a lovely earthy and funny way, exactly how Amitabh Bachhan's persona should have stayed before he got all pompous and Harivansh Rai da puttar on us.

Yeah thats it... Manmohan Tiwari is Amitabh Bacchan as Manmohan Desai saw him through a camera lens!

Manmohan Desai... oh dear I added another Mannohan... let me count em... four!

If it was a hindi fillum, Manmohan wins hands down, but I think Rakhi is seeing dhoklas and dollar signs in the form of Elesh. Else she will be happy making paranthas for Cry Baby Face Pappu Punjabi Ingineeeeer Luv.

I dont like Luv one bit. Boring aadmi hai and too ghee and paranthas and mummy da laadla looking. Kaafi cliche type lagta hai. He looks like he drinks coffee at Dpauls at Janpath and goes clubbing in Gurgoan in a Honda City. Boring yaar... sorta like what Hritik Roshan would have been like without a good director.

I do like Elesh. He seems to have spunk and can laugh at himself. Besides I like Canadians cause they like Beer and Hockey and they live in a country with amazing environmental laws. Hehehehe.

As for Rakhi. Ladki smart hai. Us Maharastrian women are not called spunky for nothing :)

Is Shunyata a complete Zero?

Recently someone... whose mind I respect... wrote about Nirvana and the search for a state of Shunyata... something like tranquility/a state of stillness/balance etc. That is the holy grail for all the thinkers amongst us.

This is what I suggested that Shunyata meant to me. I reproduce it here. Tell me what you think.


Jaani, those who claim to experience shunyata are tripping on some very good ganja!

Chaos is soooooo not boring. Chaos and unpredictability of circumstance keeps my blood pumping and all of humankind striving for more.

To search for the opposite of chaos would be the death of us as a species. So I would leave the shunyata hunting to the authentic ganja smoking rastas amongst us or perhaps the laziest of navel gazers. I want progress of many kinds. Chaos leads me there.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Male privilege and the little boy

Recently, Son who is a newly minted 5 year old has been flexing his independence and big boy attitude and defiance quite a bit. It has been quite irritating, but apart from minor corrections, I was hoping for this phase to blow over. Things like this usually do.

This morning at the breakfast table, Son was being extremely uncooperative and quite rude to me and Daughter. Milk and cereal was being spilled, shins were being kicked by excessive swinging of legs, and general defiance was being displayed. Ofcourse I got quite annoyed and told him off. I said that only polite kids were welcome at the table and I expected better behavior from him, since he was a big boy now after his 5th birthday.

He puffed up his puny chest, crossed his arms over his stomach, squinted his eyes and in a very low and growly voice said "But Mom I am male and I can behave like that".

Ofcourse I had to lecture him about how Daddy is a man too and Daddy is very polite. And have you seen any other men we know behave rudely? He listened and we went on to do our morning routine like normal. I hope what I said stuck in his head somewhere.

Where did he learn this from? This very equal opportunity, very liberal home of mine, has no boorish male role models. I cannot imagine his friend's homes being full of rude men. Is this from TV? Where is this from?

I think Daddy needs to have a man to man talk with him!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Aamchi Mumbai is not pretty like Shanghai

I was reading a blog by a well travelled woman where she asks why Mumbai is not pretty, planned, architectural heritage concious or otherwise orderly.

My first thought was... perfectly understandable but naive questions.

I can see the horror that an organic Mumbai greets the returning traveller with at the airports or the train stations. I smell it, I feel its grit, it haunts my waking nightmares as I run from one moss grown developers monstrosity to another in the puddles of a Mumbai monsoon. I feel its rough hewn unplanned edges underfoot as I travel the roads of Mumbai. Roads teeming with the weight of the unwashed millions all striving to make a living in this megalopolis. I risk my life crossing the street at Regal cinema or Linking road, barely missing being crushed by the insane traffic chocking narrow roads. This is the reality of Mumbai. No doubt about it.

It is what it is.

As someone with a modicum of a design education, at some level I do mourn the loss of a vernacular motif and am appalled by the general mayhem in planning the city.

However I also realise that Mumbai is an everchanging organism, chameleon like and ever morphing to absorb all its economic migrants and new opportunities for economic growth... both legal and illegal. There are few other cities that have not broken under such pressures as Mumbai has. Its strength lies in this resilience. It is because of this quality that I do not question constantly why Mumbai is not pretty, why Mumbai is not orderly, why Mumbai is not the city of my imaginative dreams.

As a design professional with an education in the vernacular motif of Mumbai, I dont see that Mumbai (yeah its Mumbai, not Bombay) had much vernacular architecture to lose after Mumbai became a metropolis in the early part of the last century. Everything had been lost already.

Mumbai is an organic city. Haphazard in the manner of burgeoning commerical capitals. Planning and controls is for seats of government not for morphing organisms where commerce is king.

To equate Mumbai with European world capitals or even Shanghai is an excercise in idiocy. Not because Mumbai can never aspire to greatness, but because Mumbai is Mosambi to London/Paris/Shanghai's apples or Asian pears or whatever fruit they eat.

Mumbai was not made and nurtured by despots. Mumbai also has greater pressures on it than any city has had for centuries, expect perhaps for Cairo and Mexico City. Mumbai happened for commerce and it continues to happen because of commerce. A great leveller and a very democratic in many ways. Mumbai never had a rigid planners like Hausmann to straighten the “goat paths of paris” and to create vistas with alees. Mumbai did not have a despot looking to place his stamp on the land he ruled. Every European city has for the most part been nutured and beaten into submission by despots. Shanghai has its despotic rulers very much in evidence. Mumbais despots have been salaried Municipal Commisoners that went in and out through a revolving door. That is nature of governance in the city.

Do I wish that Mumbai had more trees and prettier buildings and nothing was taller than the palm trees and we all drank tea with our pinkies in the air? Hell yeah, I do. But that is not the way Mumbai survives. Can we change things? yes and no. No mostly, due to both resources and will and ever increasing pressures on civic services and land.

Wanting things to be like London and Barcelona and Berlin and Shanghai(all of which have execrable architecture alongside the sublime) is for countries with better resourses. Not for mumbai and India as it is now. People need food and employment and standing room first. Yeah, even sleeping room on the pavement sometimes!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

To chutiya or not to chutiya?

On a blog I read today there was a reference to a word that starts with a C and has a H and some dashes for missing letters. It is obviously a word of abuse and I sat for a little bit wondering what it was.

While I drank my morning chai and contemplated how to decorate cupcakes for the birthday barbeque today, I had an epiphany and I realised what the word was. Now ofcourse I had to say it or write it. I simply had to. I had to say the word, and roll it around my tongue and maybe even use it in a sentence or two. Have you ever felt the urge? And how satisfying is that!

HAHAHAHAHAHA... my inner writers tourettes syndrome is forcing me to write the word!!!!
There I typed it. Relief!

I find desi verbal abuse so much more colorful and descriptive than the same words in English. Very satisfying to use them in a desi language. In fact when they are in a regional language they are even more satisfying and sound more... you know... naughty and bad boy/bad girl!

A few years ago on the way to work, the Husband and I were getting onto a very crowded subway car on a hot summer day. We were being pushed and shoved by a group of robust sardars probably newly arrived from India. Not wanting to exit/enter in a orderly fashion was a clue as to how newly arrived they were.

I am not sure who threw out a Chutiya first but the Husband matched them word for word with desi abuse words. There was several minutes of stunned silence. I had to laugh. This very proper and waspy looking bespectacled gora dressed in a suit, matching them... desi gaali for desi gaali. The dichotomy was wonderfully delicious!

As we were leaving the subway car, one of the men leaned forward and said to me in a thick punjabi accent... "Behenji app ne unko gaali sikhaya? Bahot accha laga is desh mein gaali sunke" (Sister, did you teach him these words? It felt good to hear these words, so far from home). I was laughing the rest of the day.

Actually I have never taught him anything like that. I guess his trips to India had stood him in good stead. He just absorbed!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Bed tea (Ugh!) or hand feeding today?

So I woke early this morning and decided to blow off going to the 5 AM Spin class and 6 AM BootCamp Class and just sat on the couch with my laptop and a cup of chai (no sugar, small concession to no excercise). Will I go to my kick boxing class at 10 AM? Probably not. You see I have a birthday barbeque on the weekend to get ready for. Daughter and Son both had birthdays last week. Like all law abiding American families we reserve all celebrations for the weekend...hehehehehe.

The husband and kids are still sleeping. The house is silent. I can hear the incessant drippy rain. In the dawn light, my plants look sad and drowned. Even the deer that come into the backyard to forage at dawn, looked sad eyed and rain soaked. Sitting here contemplating life and reading blogs. Its been a while!

I read a lot of blogs by men and women in mixed cultural marriages. Desi/desi, desi/nondesi, nondesi/nondesi... the gamut... because I am in a culturally mixed marriage myself. It is very interesting to me, to see how others order and organise thier mixed marriages and lives. There are some blogs by expat men and women who make thier life in India, some of whom are married to desis. It is an eyeopener to read thier thoughts.

You see, I always wonder how my own non desi husband views and experiences desi culture. He can try and explain it to me (Hindi sounds phonetically gutteral to him... HUH?) but there is no way that I will ever see it the way he does. My views are colored by own experience of desi culture. I can never experience seeing my culture through western eyes, never mind how long I live in the west. I would have to negate my entire childhood, and existing ties in India to do that. Do you see why reading these expat blogs is so interesting to me?

There are any number of outstanding blogs in this category. Sharell has a really good one. Do read it.

Anyway, I read an blogpost on this blog about "handfeeding a son". There were many interesting comments all of which must be considered for the cultural context of the commentors. Some very good points were made. A thought provoking post. I have thought long and hard about this one for a very long time. It affects me in very fundamental ways because it says something about where we are as Indian women and where we hope to be in an ever changing world.

Here was my comment on that blogpost. Go on tell me what you think.

"Tradition bound Indian women have had very little decision making power in thier own households especially since they usually also live with thier own traditional inlaws.

The only power they have is perhaps over thier own children and they sure do weild that power robustly. Thier sons have also traditionally been thier long term care insurance. What better way to make sure that insurance is active and well, than to bind the child to them with shows of affection and pampering… hand feeding is just one the symptoms. An overt show of affection. It is something that has become an essential part of the fabric of a traditional Indian womans life. Are the sons totally to blame for becoming despotic, lazy gits? Not entirely. It is a product of thier memories and traditions. It is culture.

Personally I dont expect Indian men to conform to what western men do, when in the Indian cultural context… if they are a product of and still live in that environment. I know that my own mother would like it, if my husband lay around and was subjected to overt displays of fawning attention by me and her… as wife and motherinlaw… when he visits India. However he aint getting any of that buster! Because thats not the way my own household works.

Does all this annoy me? Sure it does, it makes me crazy because I know and have experienced the alternate reality. Is it unfair to expect a woman to labor for a lazy git? Ofcourse it is. However I cannot expect people who have never even imagined another way of life to conform to my expectations of behavior. They will all learn for themselves when thier own shoes bite. It will happen… in centuries perhaps, but change is inevitable.

In the big scheme of things, hand feeding a son, or making him chai (I hate that bed tea thing … stinky breath) is small potatoes, compared to being able to make decisions about killing or keeping thier female children and having access to healthcare and being treated humanely when widowed. If my son will support me in these endevours, I will hand feed you for life and make you a million cups of tea. Those are the real choices many, many Indian women face."

Sunday, May 31, 2009

"HDKBDimpledDarling-united India-in-voting-for-a-majority-for-a-party-thereby-making-sure-there-is-a-stable-government-for-5-years"


As I see it, Hamarey desh ka beta, the dimpled darling is still being kept on a leash. So sad na? So sad for us actually.

Party mascot and all is just fine, but I would like for him to take up a position where he is ACTUALLY ACCOUNTABLE to the people who vote for what he represents. Party positions are completely meaningless (party president/"working for the youth"/party peon) unless he is accountable to taxpayers and voters. Let him head (or frankly even just work on) a commission/body/movement/even chotta mota ministry that is publicly funded and produces a report, or a quantifiable report or result. Let him show his mettle in political and administrative skirmishes. Let people ask him questions about performance. Let us be the judge of whether he knows what is involved in actually running India. Being annointed scion means more than sleeping on charpois, mild mannered sensible answers... which is expected, not exceptional... at interviews, a carefully written speech or two in parliament and a carefully orchestrated image campaign.

To say in broad strokes that "HDKBDimpledDarling-united India-in-voting-for-a-majority-for-a-party-thereby-making-sure-there-is-a-stable-government-for-5-years-to-ensure-projects-get-done" may be statistically true. By the way can you say that Mantra 15times fast just so you will memorise it and always believe that truth?

However that fact is no different for example from Kareena Kapoor being the face for a condom advertising campaign and making said campaign successful. It says nothing about how Kareena Kapoor is managing the condom sales or the supply chain for increased condom production due to projected increased sales or whether Kareena knows how to negotiate for a good price for latex. Because you see Kareena Kapoor is not actually designing or producing or touching the condom you are going to be using. There... I probably dashed the hot dreams of a few people!

But politics is like that. It can be completely divorced from governance. It can be divorced from the people being admininstered. It can be far removed from the nitty gritty of managing how to make your and my life better or even not letting our lives slide backwards. That is what I fear the Congress Party and the personality cult of Dimpled Darling have done to us. It is "team mascotgiri", without the player going on the field and sweating and coming up bruised and scratched but with quantifiable points. He has not even been in political skirmishes yet, never mind governance ones.

Do we make leeway for his "inexperience and youth"? To be perfectly honest the man is a "chaalis saal ka ghoda" hardly a youth or someone who still needs training! At his age, exceptional people should have already shown thier true mettle and shown what skill set they are capable of. Apart from image, "party mascotgiri" and non quantifiable "working for the youth" I am not seeing the very obvious markers of what will make him an exemplary future leader of a billion people.

And yes, I expect EXEMPLARY indicators from someone who accepts his annointment as the future PM with so much entitlement. He needs to be good, better than good, he needs to exceptional. He needs for us to see what he is capable of. Nay, we should demand to see that, before we start genuflecting to yet another restructed generation of the Nehru/Gandhi Political Enterprises Limited. Yeah, I said Limited, because it is literally that! It becomes even more Limited when we begin to say Brand Rahul is Brand India.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Competion Aisa Hota Hai

This was emailed to me. I thought you folks might get a giggle out of it.

I think you can click on it to make it bigger and more easily readable.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Idher Udher ka inconsequential and gossipy stuff

This is a totally disjointed but gossipy post. I have been commenting on so many blogs that I completely neglected my own. I promise not to do that again.

My punishment?

a)50 Lashes with a very wet noodle?


Please say B ... spanking, I might enjoy it more than you want me to. Hehehehe

So here goes my take on all kinds of silly stuff...

Samajwadi party candidate Nafisa Ali, Hottie SRK and Gavaskar's silly debate about cricket and captains and coaches, Miss India's past and present. Bilkul capsule mein. Chota Chota thoughts that I also expressed on another blog.

I will deal with esistential, meaning of life posts later!!!!

Nafisa is a good polo wife. Karisma is becoming a good polo wife. Both are stylish. Both are lightweights at anything else. Enough said. Any questions?

Why did I bring Karisma into it? Frankly I have no idea, but I think Karisma is going to grow up to become Nafisa with more makeup. Really what else can I say about Nafisa and her social activism and her politics. My admiration for her swimming medals, her impressive early forays into writing and the movies, everything is khalaas. Abhi its just bad politics and kissy face with that hot old man Richard Gere.

I dont follow cricket... sorry Baba (my dad follows the game rabidly). I think I stopped following it when the cute looking guys my age stopped playing and got fat.

SRK is a Marwari in disguise. His game is about his brand name. Gavaskar likes the traditional game with white flannels and tea breaks. Never the twain shall meet. The game leaves me cold, so atleast I can enjoy thier sniping at each other. Fight! Fight!

Miss Indias are all bekaar. Boring as hell and with terrible convent school accents. Sabira Merchant as language coach, needs to correct this and then thier diction and speech cadence before Jamuna Pai and Co start "whitening" thier skin. I wish they would all speak in a normal bazaar accent and stop talking about Mother Teresa and world peace. The looks only go so far.

And Sushmita and Ash really were not all that fantastic either. Same crappy mold when they were in the contest. Its what they did with thier fame later that made them stand out.

Ohhh I think I need to go workout to restore my good humor!

More about my workouts later folks. Yes, I am being a good girl. Very good. Making myself a very spankable bottom!

Friday, March 20, 2009

You would think...

that I would update the blog!!!!!!!!

I should and I will.

Today... urrrrmmm.... tomorrow.... I promise I will. Need to catch my breath first.

Let me just say, thank you to all of you who care and wished me solace in these past few weeks. Thank you, I appreciate all your words of wisdom and comfort.

I am all better. We are all better.

I will be back.. tomorrow.

Until then, go get a wild colored and happy looking drink in an outlandish glass and a good book and start your weekend early. All three things are good for the soul.

Friday, February 27, 2009


Silenti etc mos usquequaque exsisto memor.
The dead will always be remembered.

My friend succumbed his life to illness today 3.30 AM. I have a huge, huge, huge hole in my life suddenly.

This morning I had two surreal shopping experiences. I was at a grocery store at 5 am to buy Basil (tulsi) to put on his mouth where his last breath came from. I also went shopping for a brand new suit for him to wear for his funeral tomorrow. He looks shrunken inside it already.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Jai Ho!

Does NOT get any cuter than this! Just adorable.

Picture courtesy my most favorite desi style blog....

I was so happy to see Slumdog sweep the oscars. Perhaps it will now be possible to atleast start a dialog about a more democratic society, about the haves and havenots and the deep divide between them.

Congratulations to AR Rahman. What a richly deserved award. Not just for this movie but for his entire body of extra ordinary work

In other news...

Frieda's dress was lovely.

I am glad the desi actors did not wear desi clothes. They wore the clothes that would market them appropriately on a world stage as working actors.

I wish I were skinny and could wear Anne Hathaway's cream pailette sequined dress.

Sophia Loren looked tranny.

Penelope Cruz annoys me and I did not think her role in Vicki Christina Barcelona was worth an award.

Jack Black makes me realise that men who make me laugh are hot.

Sean Penn and his angst is just plain hot and he does not have to make me laugh.

Thats all folks.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Brownian motion, totally random

So now we go on to doing something else other than fixating on the gloom and doom of my last post.

Here is totally frivolous post about random things about me.

I got tagged by DeeplyDip over in Sandy Dubai.

Here are the rules for the tag.

Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose people to be tagged. Send the person who tagged you, a link to your tag.

When I tag folks it's because I want to know more about you. Also, I am probably bored of gazing at my own navel and want to gaze at yours.

So .... All my readers and blogdosts (great term though I did not coin it), I tag everyone who can sit down long enough to do it. It is because I want to gaze at ALL your navels.

I will now bare my midriff and you can gaze at my navel now.

1. I can crack all my toes and fingers. Very Loudly. Okay TMI... moving on.

2. I get regular manicures and pedicures. I dont like nail polish on my own very short fingernails but my toe nails are always painted.

3. I am a makeup junkie. I have drawersfull of makeup, mostly unopened. Sephora is my favorite store in the Mall.

4. I own exactly 131 pairs of shoes. Yes, I counted yesterday.

5. My shoes are neatly placed heel to toe in see through boxes. I drill air holes in the boxes. The boxes have to be from Container Store. No other brand will do.

6. My closets are very, very neat. Always. On the pain of death. Yes, death!

7. My favorite chore is scrubbing bathtubs and showers. I do my deep thinking when I am scrubbing. Yes, I do windows and clean toilets too. And yes, I scrub all the bathrooms every single day. I have much thinking to do obviously. Else I am just OCD. Take your pick.

8. I love my Roomba. I really do. I have Roomba love.

9. I love to do laundry. Love it, love it. Something about folding crisp, sweet smelling clothes is very orgasmic.

10. My idea of bliss is rolling around naked in " warm just out of the drier" cotton sheets.

11. My sheets must always be atleast 400-600 count long staple egyptian cotton. Yes, they must be Wamsutta brand and they must be bought with the 20% off coupon from Bed and Bath.

12. I do not buy anything if it is not on sale. And yes, I always look online for a coupon before I shop.

13. I have been called cheap and penny pinching before. It is in my DNA I think. I also married a man with WASP New England parsimony in his DNA. We make a fine pair.

14. I play tennis with little technique but great enthusiasm. I bash that ball very hard. Yeah, not subtle, but effective. Works for most things in my life.

15. I was a competitive swimmer and track athlete as a young teen, and probably had a future in amateur athletics. But then I discovered boys! Being chased by them was more fun.

16. I have been told by more than one person that I am exactly like Elaine from Seinfeld. Yeah, I know that was completely random.

17. I like to cook. I do, I do, just not everyday. Just for fancy entertaining.

18. I like perfume and collect it in droves. Unfortunately, I cannot wear any. The husband is extremely allergic to perfume. I can only look longingly at all my bottles.

19. I am not a trained gemmologist but have been around gem knowledgable people all my life. I can usually tell the quality of gems at a glance. And yes, I like emeralds and diamonds.

19. The husband and I are always looking to add to our collection of folk art from around the world. The collection was started by my inlaws and we are sort of inheriting it.

20. I love textiles and collect them when I can. I especially like to collect antique saris.

21. I desperately want an authentic antique parsi garaa sari. I want I want I want I want I want I want I want I want I want I want I want. I want I want I want I want I want I want I want I want I want I want I want.I want I want I want I want I want I want I want I want I want I want I want.I want I want I want I want I want I want I want I want I want I want I want.I want I want I want I want I want I want I want I want I want I want I want.I want I want I want I want I want I want I want I want I want I want I want. You can tell I am desperate. I already have the emerald brooch to wear it with.

22. If you want me to like you, show me good manners and remember to say thank you and please. I dont like boorish people and will cut you off in a second. Yep, superficial that way.

23. I am very involved in womens issues and legislation. I am involved in the political life of my little town. Yeah, mostly as the crazy woman with the imposible demands and loud voice at Council meetings!

24. I once saved a friend from drowing. Yes, really. Pulled her out of the sea, pumped water out of her and all that drama.

25. I am a cancer survivor. Yes, survivor. So everyone dont forget to self exam your entire body and get all the preventive checks you can! Eat cabbage, and carrots and broccoli and love yourself!

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Heavy with love, with guilt, with regret, with happiness.

A male friend is terminally ill. At the hospital a few days ago, I sat all day at the foot of his bed amidst beeping machines and tubing and needles and the detritus of modern medicine. We whispered to each other, gaining mutual comfort by reminding ourselves of our connection through childhood, adolescence, young adulthood and careening through careers and marriages. We talked of the good times and the disasters that befell us. We talked about my longstanding marriage and children and his brief trainwreck of a marriage. We talked of significant things and frivolous things. We talked about career worries and how he regrets not taking the path less travelled. As long as I have known him since the age of ten, he had secretly wanted to do something with his innate artistic ability. Instead he became a physician... a healer. Ironic though, a physician who cannot save himself now. We laughed a bit and also cried. We cried a lot actually. He said that he had end of life issues to resolve and I had to know something. He told me that he has been in love with me for years, decades even.

I am left a confused mass of feelings. Rib crushing emotion that does not allow me to process except the basics.

Is regret allowed? My regret for crossed signals in my heady rush to embrace life as a young adult. My regret for not stopping long enough to hear what my gut was saying to me. For not being there when he needed to be understood by me. My regret that he never said out loud what needed to be when the time was right. My regret for thinking that I knew him, when I did not. My regrets for... I am not even sure what the regrets are for anymore.

Wondering with curiousity at what might have been. Is this even allowed?

What is allowed? Now. Today and here as I watch his tenous hold on life becoming weaker; as he deals with unending pain. His death is hastening as he is no longer accepting treatment.

In the most fundamental of ways I never understood him. My best friend but I did not know him. Is regret allowed for not really knowing him?

Is telling the husband about this new knowledge allowed? To what end?

Is guilt allowed for wanting to return the same measure of love while he is still here. But to what end?

However yesterday surrounded by the glow and warmth of friends and family as we enjoyed a celebration valentines dinner... my children by my knee and the husbands arm around my shoulders, I smiled. I was surrounded and carried aloft by so much love, even his. Yes, even his. I will accept the secret burden of his love because because it is his gift to give me. My new secret love. My best friend who I will have to part with soon.

Dense and heavy. His love. His gift to me.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Of marketing, loving and losing

Last night the kids and I made valentines for thier classmates. My daughter has 18 in her first grade class and my son has 22 in his 4 year old preschool class. Oh my, a grand total of.... 40. Not elaborate valentines, but the usual printed card that you tape a lollipop to.

Daughter wants girlie High School Musical valentines and Son wants Kung Fu Panda valentines. Ofcourse Disney only makes boxes of 16 count valentines. VERRRRRRRY ANNOYING. Heck, Disney with its elaborate market surveying strategies knows approximately how many kids there are in an average class. But clever marketing Disney elves somewhere in the swamps of Orlando or wherever decide to license only 16 count boxes of thier most popular cards. So now guess what! We buy more boxes and have a ton of cards to waste. Ofcourse next year we will go through this excercise all over again because there will be atleast two more Disney movies with new characters that must be merchandised. Clever fellas those elves!

Oh and in other Disney elf marketing thuggery... three days ago my son saw an ad on the Disney channel for EGGS! What is an egg commercial doing on a kids channel? Apparantly they dont take thier ... you must be 18 or older to order (or whine to mom about)... very seriously.

Pristine white eggs each emblazoned with the Disney mickeymouse ears. The commercial showed a happy family at a breakfast table, waiting for eggs made by a happy smiling mom. Mom ofcourse was cooking perfect Mickey Mouse shaped eggs. Now my kids want those eggs. Yeah, even my egg allergic daughter! So we will go to the grocery store looking for these eggs which are sold at a premium price. Thankgoodness there is a candy free aisle that we can be checked out through. Oh look, I forgot, the candy free aisle has the mickey mouse balloons flying at full mast, and look below the balloons... the disney character tattoos too, for my kids to whine over!

And you thought that spending 5000 bucks for a week at Orlando for a family of four was enough contribution to the Disney Corporation! All that nonsense about 1600 for a family of four that disney advertises is not realistic at all. Ofcourse you will spend 5000.

Thats it, we are not going back to Orlando until the kids are teens! They liked the rides and all but seriously all they really wanted to do was go back to the hotel and swim in the pool. For that I could have booked into the local comfort inn for $100 and had the kids swim in hotel pool! Its not even like the kids are pool deprived during the winter. We swim every weekend at the local Y!

What will we do on Valentine's day? Not much really. The husband will probably give me the regulation box of candy, which will be eaten by the kids. Dad and Mom will give kids a prettily wrapped up Globe.... yes very educational and practical. Meet up with another family with kids and we will all eat dinner at a local Italian restaurant where the kids can make a little noise. Then we will come home, put the kids to bed and watch the rest of JOHN ADAMS dvd's... a must see HBO miniseries. More about John Adams in a future post.

That my friends is how people who have been quite happily married 20 years and have young kids celebrate Valentines day. Family, hugs and kisses and political drama.

About Losing...

Two friends are in the process of losing marriages. The marriages are almost gone, lost but not over. One couple is desi and one is not desi. Both have similar issues of emotional neglect and the miseries and retaliatory issues that arise from neglect. Very painful. Most painful is that both families will probably just have to continue to live together and torture and be tortured. Money is a powerful detterent to making a clean break. It is hard to face a future without when you have had enough. It takes a lot of courage, help and desperation especially when you have kids to support in an "acceptable" upwardly mobile manner. I want to help and make it all go away magically and have everyone live happily ever after. I know I cannot do that. all I can do now, is listen.

Of losing some more...

I have been good, about eating before I get really hungry and not eating fast and greedily. I have been working out, but it hurts! Really, it hurts. Used the elliptical trainer at home for an hour every night and I had a couple of boot camp style workouts with a Marine type of hard body fella with an extreme crew cut. He barked very loudly at us and called us pussies for stopping to catch our breath. I learnt to box away at a weighted bag and managed to swing it about half an inch. Okay half an inch is better than the bag knocking me over... right? Havent stepped on the scale yet. I am afraid to be dissapointed.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Oy Ve ... full disclosure and a promise to myself.

Okay so I am not in the shape I would like to be. At some not so distant time, in a galaxy far away, I was actually very athletic. Very! I was very, very, strong, taut, fast and had wonderful balance. Today... not so much.

In the past six years, I did have two wonderfully happy excuses for my weight gain and one traumatic one. The traumatic excuse literally kept me off my feet in bed for about 5 months and much emotional eating followed when I was recovering from all the things that modern medicine did to save my life. After that the happy excuses kept me on my feet and eating thier many, many, many leftovers.

I am not obese, but I am like they say back in the motherland "khatey peetey ghar ki ladki" (you can tell the family is not starving). There are jiggles and the weight is no longer in the right places. Okay, you twisted my arm so full disclosure... I could lose about 30 lbs and not look completely skin and bones. My work is sedentary and I am not the most energetic and dedicated housekeeper, so I dont think I am using as many calories as I eat. I dance ballet but I am no prima ballerina to be sweating like a piggy at every dance class. I merely glow.

I dont like to diet. No I dont. I get cranky at being denied anything. I rave and rant and get into a snit when I am hungry.

So what do I need to do?

I need to eat sensibly in a manner that can be a lifetime habit. This part is hard. Very hard and it makes me whimper in self pity,

Like a cartoon I saw... I have metal fillings in my teeth and my refrigerator magnets keep pulling me back into the kitchen. Thats why I cannot lose weight.

I also need to work out. I can work out. I love to work out. Today I went to a pro athlete sports place and I did a work out there. I could. I ACTUALLY COULD. I STAYED THE COURSE. I beat out a half marathon running friend in the stamina stakes. Okay I am bit competitive.


Well that was just the first time.


So I have 30 lbs to loose and to be in the healthiest shape of my life by August.


It has been said and so it shall be done. etc etc etc.

I need y'all to be my cheering squad!

Monday, February 2, 2009

And the winner is.....


OXY! OXY! OXY! Your answer was right on the mark! Congratulations!
Folks go check out Oxy over here.

It is YAUTIA. Atleast thats what the sign said at the grocery store.

Sort of like Taro root I suppose. I hear it tastes more nutty than like potatoey (is that even a word).

Some information about Yautia is at one of my favorite recipe resources here.

A recipe for yautia soup is here.

A recipe for yautia cooked with fish is here.

I am going to try the fish recipe and post pictures.

So OXY the floor is yours for the next Riddle me this!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Riddle me this

One fine day when I was checking out

and I happened upon a picture of one of my most favorite crunchy foods and it didn't take me long to guess what it was. Well, what do you know - I won the contest and here is my turn to post something that others have to guess.

You have to:
find something stranger than strange and,
post it on their blog within the next two weeks.

The quiz remains open for at least 1 day and at the most 2 days.

The person who guesses it correctly gets the torch and is the next host for Riddle Me This.

If the person who guesses correctly is the previous host, then that person will get to pick someone to pass the buck to from all those who made a guess.

And so on.

Please use the fabulous logo, also designed by Manisha, and link back to the host who passed the baton on to you.

Please do your best to keep this alive. Just think of how much fun it will be!

So I am posting pictures of something that I found interesting. Well I had never seen it before. But then I have pretty much lived under a rock.

Assuming you have been out and about in the world, can you guess?

The pencil is shown for scale.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Homage to....

Abba's Mama Mia!

This is like a family anthem around our house. The kids trill it all day long. Why I even caught the husband singing it under his breath in the shower.

The movie was such a delight. We laughed, we cried (okay I did), and we totally got caught up in the celebration that is Mama Mia the movie.

I remember watching THE ABBA MOVIE movie, oh so long ago when I was a preteen I think. New Excelsior or Sterling. Smuggled in Vithals Bhel. Sweaty hand holding with objects of our affection. Giggly girls and boys. Even getting dressed for the movie was an adventure. I actually wore too big, borrowed, plastic white gogo boots under my bell bottomed jeans in the Mumbai heat! I was Annifrid incarnate!

And yes I sang all the songs. Badly.

But no one sings more enthusiastic covers than these people.
I specially love it when WING SINGS!

wing sings mama mia

Here is an innovative bunch of Danish (I think) musicians.
I guess there are more uses for bottles than just drinking wine from!

Inflastikas spiller mamma

And then ofcourse the original

Abba sings Mama Mia

Do let me know if you have other interesting versions of this song.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Looking into mirrors with a friend

The last couple of months I have been watching a lot of movies. More movies per day than ever in my life. Amidst the comforts of my home or at a close friends home. There is always heavily buttered popcorn on hand and padded ottomans and footstools to rest cramped legs on. There are familiar looking blankets to snuggle into and silk sofa cushions to hide my face in when the scary or sad bits come on the screen. Comfortable viewing conditions. Comfortable conditions for heart to heart conversations with my friend.

You see, my friend is a screen writer and former film studio executive. She has given up her high intensity and very competitive, movie deal making life for a short while. She is concentrating on her own writing and enjoying being with her growing children. One day in the near future she will go back to the craziness of Hollywood. Right now she is taking a well deserved break, that is turning out to be very creatively productive.

She is part of the screen writers guild (some long official name). Thus she has the privilge to sometimes vote for nominations and/or then the winners for the Oscars and other awards. You remember the "members of the academy" thanked by the gold statuette clutching winners on the podium? Well, she is one of those. Pretty fun job I thought!

As is usual before Awards season, big stacks of dvd's arrived for her viewing and voting pleasure. Some movies barely released, and some had been around for the year.

And so we watched movies, and talked about them and related them to our lives. From her I learned something about movie deal making and screen writing. Rewound some movies to watch parts she wanted to examine some more before making decisions. And then we talked movies and about our lives some more.

It was revealing how many confessions we blurted out, some shocking, some worrying, some even happy. We talked of worries and hopes and dreams and yet more worries.

We watched the actors on screen cry, laugh, love, breakup, be dissatistfied with life, be faithful or not, lie, cheat, steal and commit other crimes, be nasty, be angelic . How many of those emotions we had felt and things we had done that could have been pulled off the screen and placed in our lives without change!

One of the movies we watched was Changeling with Angelina Jolie in the lead. My friend has known and worked with that actress in a strictly professional capacity since Angelina first started in the movies as a very young ingenue. She told me of how she has seen the actress's persona emerge and evolve as girl to woman and as a working professional. She told me how the actress's choice of roles has kept pace with that evolution. Something that I had never before given thought to.

Suddenly, I understood why she took up this movie at this stage of her life.

This role could only have been done by a mother. This is more than just Method acting at work.

It is a movie that I found very difficult to watch as a mother. I have experienced the joys and pains that my own children expose me to. I know the gut wrenching love a mother can have for her progeny. I have never actually experienced the awful aftermath of being seperated from a child but I have and continue to struggle with the fear of going away from my children forever. I can relate. Yes, I can. For the first time I could talk about that with a trusted friend. And then we both cried some more.

My fears are a story for another time.

And to think that we say that movies dont relate at all to our lives!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Historic day!

Today is a historic day. I am so happy to see Obamas inauguration as the President of the United States of America. I am happy to see the rituals of a democracy.

I am repeating a post from November below. It feels right to do that today. Hope and a tinge of some cynicysm.

This is a piece I wrote the night of Obama's victory and I watched him make his gracious and hopeful speech at Grant Park in Chicago.

As the inauguration nears I pause and reflect at the long way American cultural and political mores have come.

Obama Wins!

So my main girl Hillary was not even in the running and I voted for the alternative. But… what an alternative! My muffin man! Yes, I am shallow that way! And yes, he has a simmering low-key hotness that I think is just super.Hotness aside, I am going to be all stream-of-consciousness while I write down some thoughts about the Great Election. No editing, just what I feel. Some cynicism tempered by a sprinkling of hope. A pinch of salt, to balance the sugar or vice versa… whatever makes your pie taste great!

I took my 6 year old daughter into the voting booth, to press the button after my final selections were made. With great gusto, she thumped on the Vote button and ran out of the curtained booth shouting “Mommy voted for Obama”. There were a few cheers, and a few boos but it was all good. I was in my own familiar territory, upper middle class and privileged and amongst friends and neighbors. People who seemingly could ride out 4 years without being decimated whatever the final outcome of the election.

I followed my child out of the polling place somewhat embarrassed by her exuberance but proud that she is on the vanguard of a time and generation where democracy will mean more of a genuine equal chance for a half brown person like her.

She was so excited when we (she punched the button) voted for Hillary in the Primaries. To her 6 year old mind, a woman President was a wonderous thing. She was disappointed when I told her this time around we would not vote for a woman, but the excitement she felt at the process of voting remained the same. Obama didn’t mean much to her, but his name rhymed nicely and was cool name to say and chant. He wasn’t a woman but for her it was enough to be able to punch the Vote button and be a part of the voting process. I pray that she will always be able to punch that vote button without fear or favor.

This flawed but essentially wonderful concept that is democracy will shape her future in good ways. It will always allow her to dream the big dreams, and to believe her dreams can really come true!

To many (I happily hasten to add... not all) white Americans who voted for him, Obama was”just black enough” to be their own special symbol of liberalism. He plays just enough basketball, wasn’t too dark in color, spoke no Ebonics, or had any lasting relationships with traditional black power groups. He is educated, and very importantly had a mother and grandparents who looked just like them. His wife does not braid her hair or have a name which ended with a “sha” or “ta”. Oprah and Colin Powell are his friends, rather than P Diddy and Snoop Dogg and he doesn’t call everybody Girlfriend or Brotha. He probably smoked weed as a student, just like them and wasn’t afraid to inhale. He was in effect “not scary”. For them, Obama was the best first baby step towards a more equitable equation for a racially and economically divided America. Voting for him made them feel good about themselves and their own evolution as thinking people.

For the people of color, (and that by definition includes me, doesn’t it?) it was a very passionate vote. For older African Americans who have experienced the sting of overt racism and have seen how long it takes for change to come about, electing Obama was mostly a symbol of the culmination of their long held hopes and desires. For the younger lot however they were voting not just for a symbol; they were voting for their immediate hopes. It was about decayed inner cities and racial profiling and economic hardship and fathers in jail and breakdown of traditional family structures and most importantly of being on the dole and losing your home. It was about being able to buy groceries without public assistance and paying the mortgage or rent next month and their sons and daughters not becoming cannon fodder in the army because they couldn’t get another well paying job without the right accent or dressing the part of the upwardly mobile.

I wonder how it will play out… these very separate agendas. Very disparate but all so necessary to the conditions that America sees today.

White America is somewhat smugly satisfied that Black America has been appeased. A little self congratulatory back patting is in order. After all White America helped to vote in the Black President and symbol and that there should be no further complaining about racial discrimination or affirmative action. You have your guy, now enough! No more whining and really you are not going to get anymore sops!

Black America wants all their troubles to disappear with the waving of this magic wand. Of course, Obama is going to make it all happen. They will see good times en masse.Everyone who voted Democrat this time around wants their mortgages paid, their retirement accounts brought back to health and for the war to go away. Obama will make that happen too. And he is also supposed to make it happen in 4 years!Can he?

As I see it, the situation will get worse in the short term, before it gets better. But it will get better. After all a start has been made, a new goal has now at least been visualized. The route to that goal still remains to be examined and seen. That will take time.

A child of color or a poor child can now truly believe that he can become the President. After all there is one like him up there. But will the path to that spot be self evident or even open for a long, long, long while? Will a child who knows no privilege right now, know what to do to get there?That my friends will take a very long time. A beginning has been made, but there are many who are going to be disappointed in the short term.

Obama has inherited a thankless job in the worst possible circumstances. So can Obama sustain interest in his vision and sustain support long enough to be the change he seeks? 4 years is too short to do all he seeks to do. He is going to have to be more than clever to do that. He will have to be very, very lucky.I want to send him my lucky Ganesh ring. He needs it. Very badly!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Heir and spare

So the news today says that Rahul Gandhi will contest the elections and his sister Priyanka Vadra... once upon a time heir apparant... will not.

Hmmmm.... lets put our thinking caps on.

Given the history of the Gandhi family, this is very good strategy and smart thinking. One person gets to sully his hands in the business of politics. Someone in the wings keeps thier hands clean. When the political fall comes, as it will and has in the past, the pristine one takes over to keep the seat warm until previous heir redeems himself by allowing pliant aides to take the blame. Long live the King and Long live the Kingdom!

The heir and the spare. And they can play switcheroo too!

Hamari Italian Bahu (HIB) has kept the seat warm for too long. She shall now reign as Empress Dowager.

I am curious what happens when Rahul finally marries that long suffering Columbian (or is it Venezuelan) woman kept quiet in the wings. Will we also get Hamari Columbian Bahu? All these Hamari Gandhi Bahus are making me forget all my geography!

And if you want a belly laugh or a quiet chuckle at some cleverly done comic strips go see this site:

And ofcourse you must not miss this fun desi comics site. This one even does bollywood films as comics. How fun is that!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Nuff Said!

Like I said... NUFF SAID! Hehehehehe.

I want to be one of those... Atim Bums!

Oh and are Chammak Challos allowed to be Haseenas too?
Ps. AneelaZ thanks for reminding me about this one. Always lurved this image!
Your post about sexual violence (and by implication gender inequities) was interesting and a subject we need to read and write about more often.
Everyone go read An AtimBum is ordering you to!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Toast with Olive oil and Tomato

Yes, that is what I am eating. Regular Toast, drip extra virgin Olive Oil on it and grated tomato with salt and pepper. Poor mans Bruschetta but soooooo good. A friend in Spain made this for me one summer morning and it has remained my favorite breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack since.

Why do I eat this?

Oh to celebrate!

Celebrate what you ask, my chickadees?

Celebrate the hottness that is SRK. Even if he did wear a sequinned tie inside his unbuttoned shirt, even if his hairline looked painted on and even if he had been too generous with the spray tanner ( or was it just too much make up). He was fun, witty and appeared relaxed when he presented at the GG's. He was truly represnting!!!

Bollywood can only benefit from this kind of exposure.

I am so glad Slumdog Millionaire won the accolades that it did. It deserved everyone of the them and then some.

For those who complained that it was "the generic western movie about India", I have this to say, atleast someone made a watchable movie about the reality that is India. A movie with wit and genuine heart. It told a tale set in India, that people across the world can easily relate to. Cinema needs to be understood the first time it is seen. It does not need reference books to be consulted after the fact. Slumdog did all this.

I hope they dont change a thing in the hindi version of the movie. It is the directors complete work as it is now. It beats with his heart right now. "Cleansing it" and/or makeing it more palatable for the desi audience to accept and appreciate will be doing this very distinct view a disservice.

Danny Boyle showed India as it is.

The India that middle class desis would like the West to see... exists but it is a real and tangible India for that class only. This class of people includes you and me and even the rich and everyone who can afford to see the movie without thought to thier next meal.

The fact is that there are more people who face odds in making a daily living than do not. It takes going away from the milieu to sensitise to inequity again and then coming back to the country to realise that most middle class urban people in India live on an intellectual island that only they have entry to... where thier patch of the sky remains a money green (or whatever color desi money comes in now). And no I do not believe for one minute that the west is only obsessed with seeing poverty in "Have not nations". I say that they are willing to see it ALSO.

People who "have" would much rather just have the "havenots" be hidden away in thier place in the outhouse. And poverty is not a disease. Dont worry you wont catch it if you see the movie. Poverty is just a symptom of a disease, that of indifference. Hiding the symptom does not make it go away.

And MadInMumbai, I have not forgotten. I have asked for Pixote and Salaam Bombay to be sent to me, will report on that later on.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

In which my Kaleja is on fire!

My kaleja is on FIRE....Sunjay Dutt as LS candidate from Lucknow from the SP party!

I am surprised he isnt being fielded from Azamgarh where most of the gun running and murdering "disaffected" youth have come from recently. He would represent them perfectly... like really represent!

What next... Kasab as South Mumbai LS candidate? He has been there for a while in jail so has he got his ration card and drivers license from there already?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Talking back is important

I got some emails that folks who did not have google accounts were not able to comment on my blog posts.

Sorry about that folks. I am sort of new to blogging and am learning something new everyday.

I have just fixed the problem. Anonymous comments are welcome too. If you would like to comment anonymously but wish to carry forward a dialog on a particular point, please feel free to email me @ or leave your own email address in your comment.

I love comments and feedback and want to know all points of view as long as sometimes we can agree to disagree!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

When Gretel ate the Witch's candy house...

How does one tell a neighbour that her daughter might have an eating disorder/is plain greedy/really needs attention (choose your diagnosis)? Does one? Do I keep my counsel? Do I reexamine my own prejduces before I attempt amateur diagnosis? What do I do?

One of my daughters playmates is a very bright, incredibly social and portly little girl, precocious in all senses beyond her tender chronological age. The kid comes over all the time and eats dinner with us atleast 2 or 3 times a week. I keep an eagle eye on the girls as they play... because... well, I have learnt to. She is a sweet kid but one aspect makes me wonder if there is a problem somewhere... with her or my perception.

This child eats, eats, eats, eats and eats some more. She demands, yeah demands.... second, third and fourth helpings at dinner and a big man sized snack every half an hour. She will eat both healthy and unhealthy things in termendous volumes. Without permission, she opens and rummages through and ransacks all my pantry and kitchen cabinets; is the first to open all entering grocery bags and knows the insides of my freezers and refrigerators intimately. In the past year or so, she has begun to sneak food if she thinks no one is paying attention. When she leaves our house, her pockets are bulging with cookies and sundry snacks that she has tries ineffectively to hide. I tell you this child eats much more than a grown man perfoming heavy manual labor. I feel awfully petty saying this, but sometimes I really think she will eat us out of my grocery budget. It has been this way since the kids were toddlers together. The kid displays plenty of energy and runs around but is obviously heavy.

The sneaking of the food really bothers me. It does. More than anything else.

I dont know if her parents will ever acknowledge there is a problem at all. How do I know this? Well, the mom jokes all the time about not needing a dishwasher in the house because the kid cleans her plate at every meal and is not a fussy eater. I tried to bring up the topic a couple of times, but she just kind of laughed it off. The housekeeper cooks a lot.... good, oldfashioned Italian home cooking. I know that she feeds the kid well, and no one is being starved in that house. The household seems quite normal apart from the kids being a little too materially indulged. It is a typical family in our neighbourhood.

I wonder sometimes if it is my own cultural prejiduces that make me irritated with this gluttony and sneaking of food. Then I think ... not... because visiting friends and the husband also see this. So why dont her parents see it?

I have lived in this country for a very long time. I am married into the culture for a very long time. But then I am still wary and sometimes unsure of how to say the difficult things. Unsure of what will be acceptable and what will not. Sometimes cultural rules are so hard. I wonder if I should even say it out. open and loud, or will it be construed as getting into someones childrearing business.

I know that I would like to know if my child had a problem like that. It would disturb me and make me feel somewhat defensive, but I would still like to know.

I am just so disturbed by what happened at dinner tonight. Oh the typical, and then the cookies fell out of her pockets when I walked her back home after dinner.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Felix sit annus novus!


Bhavati api nutana samawatsaryasa shubhashchaya!

Thats the Latin and Sanskrit for: Happy New Year folks!

I know the Latin is right (courtesy the Husband who studied latin for 8 years... yeah his spelling is really, really, really good), but I have no idea if the grammar and syntax is right in Sanskrit? Is it?

I think it is just appropriate that I start the New Year with a question. Isn't that the way our year is going to unfold in anycase? We do live our life in search of all the questions and answers and questions again. It is what makes us humans. So this year I celebrate curiosity and questions! No questions will be taboo and the hard questions will be asked too. On my blog and in my life too.

And now another question...

So what did you do to celebrate?

Over here, I just went to bed at 9.30 and slept like a baby. It felt comfortable to do that somehow. I think 2009 will be about homeiness and comfort and family for me. Oh and questions!

I know this is late, but it is still within the 12 days of Christmas, and it made me smile, and my kids guffaw in delight. I hope it makes you smile too.

Turn your speakers up, click on the link and click the Play arrow.

I do love Jingle Baiils and red and green parandis and sarson ke khet!