Friday, October 17, 2014

Wednesday Wedding-clothing Woes

My sister’s getting married in December. Isn’t that wonderful?

It IS wonderful in every possible way, and I am so happy for her, especially since the man she is going to marry exhibits all signs of wonderfulness himself, including a tendency to make random jokes in his head and then laugh out loud merrily and un-selfconsciously. For example, yesterday evening when they were over, I caught him craning his head to get a good look at the ceiling light of our drawing room.He caught me eyeing him curiously and grinned widely ‘That’s a CFL bulb’ and burst into loud laughter. I have a soft corner for people who actually enunciate each Ha in their Hahahahahahaha and so smiled, feeling a little bewildered all the same. My sister intervened to explain that it had something to do with a work project that is currently occupying the fiance’s mind, perhaps a private joke. I didn’t probe the matter any further. I remember the way my sister used to look at Vijay before we got married, and for a while after, heck to this day – the expression suggesting ‘Oh he’s very sweet but a bit mad.’ Which is actually about right.

Anyway, so it’s wonderful that she’s getting married, except that it involves my getting clothes. Now, even for my own wedding 12 years ago ( GodDAMN!), I didn’t bother with too much shopping, leaving it to the mother and some help from the sister, although she was a barely-twenty college type at the time. I had a beautiful lehenga at my wedding and a very nice sari. I pretty much never wore the sari again, and the lehenga was pulled out for a wedding a few years ago, and it was discovered that it was so loose for me that it had to be safety-pinned. My sister was not impressed.

She had been chasing me for a while now about the wedding outfit and I had been deftly avoiding the question. The feeling of dread was growing though – she warned me that it wasn’t so easy to get stuff done at the last minute just before wedding season and therefore I should get my act together. So finally, I did what I usually do in moments of personal crisis. I turned to my other sisters in the Gurgaon Moms forum and asked them what the hell I could do about getting outfitted when I am the type who wears these things only once and therefore hate spending a bomb on new stuff.

The moms jumped in with a bunch of fabulous suggestions and encouragement as usual, but the one that appealed most to me was to go to this Lady in Gurgaon who runs a business out of her basement, and is great at converting old stuff into spankin’ new stuff. Now this was great, I thought. I ran the idea past my sister who was not altogether pleased saying that I was the BIG sister and I should wear SOMETHING new. I negotiated with her that I would indeed buy SOMETHING new for one or maybe two of the functions, but why not at least check out what was possible with the old stuff.

And with that, another two weeks passed, with my doing nothing further on the subject. Until Wednesday.

Since it was a holiday due to elections ( I voted by the way – did you?) I requested my sister to come along with me as I went to visit the Lady in her Basement. Being the rather good-natured and helpful sort, the sister agreed and landed up this morning at the stated time of 10.30. I of course wasn’t ready, having busied myself with some other mundane errand of sorting out some winter clothes and so I then rushed to get ready. Together we went to the Lady, and soon, the conversation was going like this.

Lady (to me): ‘So which material do you think you want for the blouse?’
Me: (shrugging) I dunno.
Sister: I think crepe, gorgette ( something about brocade)
Lady: (turning to her) Yes, and even silk would be an option.
Sister: Yes, but…
Me: ( Doo-doo, la, la la…)

Lady (to me): ‘Don’t you think we should look at adding a tinge of orange to this?
Me: (aghast) Orange? I dunno…
Sister (nodding slowly) Yes. Yes. Yes, actually, that would make all the difference. It will really brighten it up, and we can do the same with the dupatta.
Lady (turning to her) Isn’t it? How about this shade? Or something like this?
Sister : This one, I think. Definitely.
Me: (Doo-doo…la, la, la)

Lady (to me): And the sleeve length that you’d like for this?
Me: Huh? I dunno.
Sister: This will look nice sleeveless only
Lady: Yes, I have some good options. This one, with this back? This material here is wonderful sequin work, very in these days.
Me: (trying to contribute) Sleeveless? But it’s December, it will be cold.
(Blank looks from both the women, and then they turn back to their discussion)
Sister: This back looks a little better, I think, it will go well with the traditional look of the material.
Lady: Exactly what I was thinking, it will complement it very well.
Me: (Doo-doo, la, la, la)

So you get the picture. I pretty much shut up after that and let the two of them make the decisions for me. So some refurbished outfits were agreed upon, and I am now on the prowl for something ‘new’ as promised to my sister. It’s her big day and apparently as the REAL sister, I’m not supposed to be able to let her down in this clothing department. Damn.

In the car on the way back, she remarked ‘You know, I was wondering why you’d need me for something like this.’
I asked her wryly ‘Do you not know me at ALL?’
She nodded to herself. ‘I understand totally. Just make sure when you go to her for the actual fitting that everything actually FITS, okay?’
‘Okay.’ The doubt in my voice must have given me away.
‘YOU CAN HANDLE THAT, RIGHT?’ My sister was gazing at me through narrowed eyes.
‘Sure.’I hesitated. ‘It’s just that…I find it difficult to say no. If they tell me it fits, I’ll say yes and walk away with it.’
‘NO!’ My sister shouted. ‘How can you not know if something is too loose or too tight?’
‘I DUNNO’ I cried. ‘I guess I feel that might be how it’s SUPPOSED to be or something!’
Stony silence.
‘We can do it on a weekend?’ I offered tentatively.
‘Fine.’ She growled at me.

She seemed to calm down after a while, and then asked ‘And what about Vijay? Has he thought about what he’s going to wear for all the functions?’

Me ( Staring out of the window, pretending I haven’t heard her, starting to hum to myself) Doo-doo, la, la, la…



Saturday, October 11, 2014

Goaaaaa!

Last weekend I went for the Goa Lit Fest - turning it into most awesome family holiday ever. For the first time till date, we didn't rush back a day early for one reason or the other, and me, Vijay, the kids and my mom had the most fantastic time.

Our first couple of days were spent at Sunbeam, a lovely holiday home owned by a friend of my mother's ( what a joy it is to have a mom with such friends ;) - after which we moved to the TreeHouse Blue, which was also a very nice Serviced Apartment, and I took great joy in taking out some pots and pans and whipping up an elaborate meal for the family.

The children were totally thrilled. It was Pickle and Papad's first time on a plane and they enjoyed every minute of the experience, shrieking with laughter as the plane took off and generally running about enjoying themselves. Peanut's been on a plane several times as a small kid but she remembered nothing of those trips and the experience was all-new for her too.

We ate a lot, played on the beach, swam and generally loafed about and enjoyed ourselves. The surprise of the trip was the Goa Science Centre, suggested by our driver as having a bunch of things to do for the kids, and it was fantastic for them. Basically, my children love to fiddle with things, and here was a place that actually invited them to push a lever here, pull a string there, touch that button to see what happens and so on. The 3D show was one on marine life specifically on sardine shoals and while the quality of the experience left something to be desired, my kids didn't care and simply screamed with laughter every time it looked like an attacking shark was jumping out of the screen at them. This show was followed by another one on the Universe at the little Planetarium, specifically on the life of a star. I was fascinated and humbled to think about the billions of stars and the billions of years they would survive long after we're history. I turned to share this moment with my husband and noted that he and all other members of my contingent were fast asleep.

Net-net, it was a fantastic time that we had and now am back. Work is going pretty well, it's interesting and I'm convinced now that I'm meant to be in a corporate space at least for the forseeable future. I enjoy the coffee :) and the fact that my maids don't come in and ask me 'Khaane mein kya banaye?' Besides I usually get home at a reasonable time to hang out with the kids and that's great.

I've got one book coming out with Harpers next year and am seriously contemplating self-publishing the other one, a funny childhood memoir about growing up in the 80s/90s - essentially centred around the trials and tribulations of the twelfth year of my life. Does that sound like something you'd read? Let me know in comments!

P.S - a big hug to those who stick around here. I love you guys.
P.P.S - the elaborate meal was of course Maggi. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Weekend

Aah. Here it is!

Whoops. There it was...

Zumba in the mornings, 3 Parent-Teacher Meetings to Attend, various other exciting events in the colony. Quick as a flash, Sunday evening hath arriveth ( Donth thath justh sound like lisping?) Anyway, going forward, I hope to be able to fit writing into the new schedule, and that includes blogging at least once a week.

See you around, guyzzz!

P.S - a big thanks to those of you who did bother to delurk on the last post. Waiting to hear from more as motivation to actually take out the time to carry on with this space!

P.P.S - conversation with Peanut -

'Mum, is Roald Dahl alive?'
'No'
'Is Enid Blyton alive?'
'Nope.'
'Wow. Are all authors dead?'
(Silence for a moment and then she looks at me appraisingly)
'Oh yeah. YOU'RE alive.'
(Goes back to her book while I continue to stare at her)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

And yet another 'Final' Sabbatical Round up

So I find myself back at work after a bit of a gap. Older and wiser and yet ready and eager. It kind of just happened, but I think I was ready for it.

The last couple of years have been great fun and a wonderful learning experience. But it kind of hit me when a lady of about my age attended my Zumba class and then asked if I could be her 'mentor' - she said that I seemed to be following my passion and it looked so enviable and that's what she wanted to be doing now that she's had a baby and been working for ten years herself...and so on. The alarm bells went off in my head. Over the last couple of months, I had been feeling restless and influenced greatly by Cal Newport's book ''So Good They Can't Ignore You''. I highly recommend this to anyone on the verge of quitting their job in favour of the wonderful, entrepreneurial, ''follow your passion'' type of life. From the outside, I realized, it really looked like that's what I was doing. I don't regret a single moment of the last two years, but the fact is that there's a lot to be said for having to get up and get ready and go to work and of course, having an income outside of some not-very-impressive royalty cheques. So I told the lady not to be fooled by appearances, and to basically read the book herself!

I passed out of IIM-B in 2002 and had a pretty decent record in my field of Marketing so I was very lucky to have built that track record before I took my break. The most fun I've ever had was at my last job as Business Head for a movie review website. So I've been lucky to find a role now which looks like it will be perhaps as interesting, and that too, in Gurgaon. All this kind of just happened, and it happened at a time when I realized that Pickle-Papad are well-settled in school, all three kids tend to keep each other busy, and my help R seems to have settled back in for at least the medium term with us. Now that the children are older, it is clearer that they should be able to take care of themselves and each other. It amazes me how much of a help Peanut already is, with her advanced reading skills, in assisting  in getting the twins homework done.

I've done one earlier 'final' round up before I went back to work at my old organization in 2012. That was a stint of a few months; subsequent to which I had two more work assignments. The one that I'm taking on currently may last longer if all goes well ( although I've already had a bit of an adventure on Day 3 which I'm too embarrassed to report and maybe will show up in a subsequent book).

Despite the fact that I've had 3 work assignments over the last two years running into almost a year in total, I just felt like taking a look at the overall period and musing over what's happened. So here goes:

- After Just Married, Please Excuse (in August 2012) came my second book 'Sorting Out Sid', which released earlier this year (Feb 2014). If you still haven't read my books, please follow the links and check out the reviews and ratings on Flipkart- they're also available on Amazon as e-books and I promise you they're laugh riots at the very least. Now, 'Dear Rimi' (work in progress title) is already with HarperCollins and my esteemed Chief Editor loves the book, which is really saying something. It will be out next year sometime. Simultaneously, I've also written a funny childhood memoir and am trying to figure out what to do with that one - I've got great feedback from some of you on the first three chapters and just need to see about the publishing plan for it. So as you can see, I'm kind of written out for now anyway and felt like taking a break from it. However, when inspiration strikes, I'll be back and doing the writing thing for an hour a day. I've made my peace with the fact that I much prefer looking upon writing as a passion than a career and can't follow the advice about ''sitting down every single day to write no matter what''. I just can't. But you'll be seeing lots of books from me. 5 before I'm forty for sure! And I'm parking here, in September 2014, a random prediction that there's going to be significant developments for me when it comes to writing after December 2016. It will be fun to check back here after two years and see if it happens!

- I'm a weekend Zumba instructor with the excellent team at Delhi Salsa Club, led by the inimitable Sameer Sachdeva. Although I only take a weekend batch, I'm really happy about the fact that this month I've got 10 students signed up and they really seem to enjoy the workout. I've been tempted often to take on mid-week classes, even went to Ozone Gym for 5 Thursdays, but gave that up as I figured that it was eating into other things.

I'm highly amused about the fact that in an interview last year, someone made a sarcastic remark about ''how will you manage work when you do this...Zumba thing?'' following it up immediately and pre-emptively with ''don't feel you have to be defensive, of course''. I answered him politely but I was thinking it would make sense for him to take out a couple of hours a week for his own workout and no one would question him about how that would affect work. His colleague of course, topped him on the same day by asking me ''Wow. 3 kids, huh? How will you manage them and work?'' Needless to say, it didn't work out with that organization and I'm particularly glad. Incidentally- a year later and apparently at least one of them has quit already.

But coming back to the Zumba - it's a brilliant form of exercise and I'm just so glad that I stumbled upon Sameer, totally by chance. Any other instructor would unlikely have left the kind of impression on me that he did, and his initial training helped much more than the actual Zumba workshop. I'm hoping to keep this up for as long as I'm physically able to.

- I finally found an excellent music school in Gurgaon, several months back for Peanut and me. My daughter's piano playing has reached a whole new level with a wonderful teacher called Vee, who is now unfortunately leaving the country. But she has been replaced by another great teacher who comes all the way from the Delhi School of Music and we are still enjoying our lessons. I'm also learning guitar  again under a wonderful young man at the same school, while Peanut goes in for a group vocal session. The wonderful young man is probably ten or twelve years younger than me, but has a distinguished style and polished vocabulary and turns out to have been an engineer and a trade analyst who left JP Morgan because he just didn't like it very much. It puts a little pressure on me to have to practice two musical instruments but I'm telling myself that surely 10 minutes a day on each is manageable while I'm strict with Peanut about getting in a good disciplined 30 minutes in total on her piano. The important thing is for her to develop her talent. Me, I'm doing it for the fun of it and yes, it is fun to finally correct my guitar technique and learn a new instrument, figuring out how to read music ( it's like a new language altogether) and so on.

- To my regret, I have stopped going to The Happy School for now. The last thing I did for them was prepare a bunch of students for their Annual Day function and that felt really good. I will need to figure out another way of being associated with them. The kids can definitely still expect their annual haul from Santa Claus after writing him letters about what they want, but I don't know if I'm going to be able to be more regular with my weekend voluntary spoken English classes there. After all, weekends are all I get with the family, so I'm trying not to guilt-trip myself too much about this.

- I did a lot of fun stuff with the kids in terms of just hanging out, taking them to various places in Delhi which you'll have read about if you're a regular reader here. And now for the first time ever, we're all going to Goa as a family next month for just a couple of days, using the Goa Lit Fest where  I am apparently an invited author as an excuse- now, young Pickle and Papad have never been on a plane or a beach, so it's a first on both counts for them. I think I'm more excited about it than they are though. Cool, huh?

- And then there's the Yoga. The most excellent instructor, Apoorva Gupta, about a year younger than me but approximately seven times wiser nevertheless, made her way to Gurgaon last year and I got in touch with her. She's often exasperated with me but also keeps pointing out changes in my posture and spine that I never notice myself - the practice is definitely helping me because it's meditative in nature and I highly recommend Yoga to all and sundry all the time. I am no longer able to take instruction from my father-in-law as he is in not in a great physical condition himself these days, but Apoorva is helping me a great deal with doing Yoga the 'right' way. And while I know there's a lot on my plate, the good thing is that these classes are only once a week or sometimes once a fortnight if we are both too busy to make it and she ends the class by making these very handy notes and diagrams for me which ensure that I don't forget what she taught me to do for the next week.

- We've got ourselves a CA-type of person who's quite efficient, ensures that our taxes are filed on time, that we aren't overpaying and we actually manage to get our refunds from the government and in general has shamed us into being at least slightly more organized with regard to future planning and paperwork and filing stuff and all that shit. Many thanks to him for that!

So in short, I'm going to be really busy from now. Not that I've been blogging much anyway, but you can expect to see a post here maybe once a week or so, so please do keep coming back. And it's been a real long time since I asked for a de-lurk and took stock on content direction. I know comments are now mostly on Facebook yada yada but would it trouble you too much to just comment today and let me know who you are and what you'd like to see more of on this blog? Much appreciate it, ta.

P.S - read the book by Cal Newport that I mentioned, okay?
P.P.S. - sadly, I still don't know how to cook although it figured on my sabbatical list. But I cracked those besan ke laddoos. Yesssss!!!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Will the REAL Shrishti please stand up?

Riding along in the car with my various children often gives me the opportunity to listen in to their conversations.

Peanut: Pickle! You know? I always thought that Shrishti was in your class because one day I saw you say bye to her after school. But today I saw that she was going into Papad's class. So she's in Papad's class.

Pickle: No. Shrishti in MY class.

Peanut: Oh no, but I saw her, her elder sister was dropping her to her class and then she pushed her into Papad's class and not your class.

Me (only slightly aghast, interrupting) Why would she push her in?

Peanut: Ya, she pushed her in, I saw her do it, like this! ( She re-enacts a rather cheerful older sister sideways shove) So now I know that Shrishti is in Papad's class. Right, Papad?

Papad ( gazing dreamily out of the window, not paying any attention whatsoever) Ya.

Peanut (turns to a glowering Pickle) See Pickle?

Pickle: NO! Shrishti in MY class and MY friend.

Peanut (sagely) No but I saw her sister....

Me ( interrupting because I see Pickle clenching his little fist) Peanut, has it occurred to you that perhaps there are two Shrishtis? One in Pickle's class and the other in Papad's class?

Papad ( now attentive suddenly) Are they awso twins?

Me: Now don't be silly Papad, if they were twins, would they be named the same?

Papad (smiles beatifically at his own silliness and goes back to gazing dreamily out the window).

Peanut ( dismissive) Well, even if there are two Shrishtis, the one I am looking for is in Papad's class. That's the REAL Shrishti.

Pickle: Real Shrishti awso in MY class.

Me: Yes, his Shrishti is also real, Peanut. Now stop teasing him.

Peanut: But I'm just saying that the REAL Shrishti is the one that I am looking for, and she is not in Pickle's class.

Me: You can't say his Shrishti isn't real. You're teasing him for no reason.

Peanut: (Sulkily) Alright, alright. ( Adds in a loud whisper) But the REAL Shrishti is Papad's.

Pickle looks like he's about to strike her, but somehow controls himself and comes up with an inspired solution, shouting -

'YO'RE NOT THE REAL PEANUT' 

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Children Are Back


The morning hours are quiet and enable me to get some work done - whether it's working on a consulting assignment or a new book. Happy to announce that two book drafts have been created this year (more on them in the next post).

But in the afternoon, it's as if a hurricane is approaching. You can hear the screams from the time that they are fifty feet away - they could be squeals of terror as they pretend that they're being chased home by a rabid dog; screams of delight as they each rush to tell me about some fascinating new development of the day; or just howls about a fight in the bus wherein one of them attempted to deprive the other of a grubby biscuit or something.

Papad waltzes into the room first 'Hello Mumma!' He says cheerfully 'Do you know? I didn't fuss today at all!''

Recalling full well the struggle to get him to wear matching socks in the morning, I swallow and say ''That's great!'' He rushes up and hugs me and then tries to sneakily press a button on my laptop, immediately pissing me off.

Peanut comes in, all officious, and reports ''Hello Mama. Do you know, Papad cried all the way in the bus home because first he ate his lollipop and then wanted to have Pickle's and then Pickle didn't share because you said that we are supposed to eat sweets only on Saturday-Sunday and so then he....''

''Peanut, calm down, take a breath.'' I turn to sullen Papad. ''Papad, did you do that? I've told you not to eat sweets during the week, they're not good for your teeth...''

''But I shared with everyone on the bus.'' Papad retorts defensively.

''You...what?''

Peanut nods sagely ''Yes, Mama, he let everyone have a lick from his lollipop and then he ate the rest himself...''

''That's...'I can't find the words.''Ewwwww....'' I glare at my son, aghast. ''Don't ever do that again.''

''Okay.'' he agrees and then says ''But Pickle wasn't sharing me, I shared everybody and...''

The wails from the third child are louder. He has apparently been so upset that he insisted on being carried home all the way from the bus stop. He walks into my room, mouth open so wide that I feel like I am Ma Yashodha and might actually see the whole world in there, but there's nothing apart from a pink tongue and little teeth. His fat cheeks are glistening with tears and he comes up and puts his arms around me, sobbing 'Papad hitted me.''

''You hit him?'' I am very angry at Papad now. I turn to the older sister, always a reliable witness ''You didn't tell me that, Peanut.''

''Ya I was going to tell you but then you interrupted me and started talking to Papad, I was saying that he wanted Pickle's lollipop after eating his own but Pickle was being a good boy and saying that we are not to open the sweets and then Papad hit him on the head with his bottle...''

Pickle, who always stops crying to listen when Peanut relates events in order to make sure that she's getting it right, now pipes up ''No, he hitted me with MY bottle.''

''Ya ya that's what I said that he hit him with his bottle''

''NO! MY BOTTLE!!'' Pickle holds out a fist at his sister and then struggles to reach out and hit her. I restrain him.

''Pickle!''I scold ''We are not supposed to hit each other right?''

''Ya.'' says Papad piously.''Ma'am says Keep yore hands to yore self.''

''You're one to talk.'' I snap at him. ''You hit him. You're not supposed to do that. Now say sorry.''

''Solly.'' Papad says to the wall.

''Say it to Pickle and hug him.'' I order. I have also read enough articles about how forcing apologies isn't the best way of resolving a fight, but I suspect the author didn't have twins and so disregard the advice.

Papad tries to reach out and hug Pickle who shoves him away and buries his face into my neck. Since Pickle is a bit of a less demonstrative child, I secretly enjoy the closeness and continue to hug him while Peanut tells me about seventeen different things at the same time about what happened today in school.

I've read that children become less communicative as they grow and soon there will come a time when I will ask ''So what did you do at school today'' and all I'll get is a sullen ''Nothing.''

So for now, the loudest, most hurricane-like moment of the day when the three burst into the house is a highly treasured moment for me, no matter what it's interrupting.

I know I won't be around at this time of the day for long, so allow me to prepare for the storm now. As long as the screams start up in an hour or so and don't indicate any broken bones, I'll know - life goes on... and life is good.

****

This post is dedicated to Sindhoora Marru, who emailed me in response to a post on my Facebook page wherein I asked for volunteers to beta-read the first few chapters of my new book. She said in her email -

''Without sounding stalkery, i say i wait for your blog feed everyday. sometimes, i refresh many times a day. i read some of my favorites in ur old posts when i get annoyed waiting.'' 

Sindhoora, enjoy :) and thanks!


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Just say I love you, Na?


When I announced that I was going away with my friend for a 3 day holiday, my husband was initially very supportive. It was only after I actually booked the tickets that his attitude seemed to change.

'I've booked the tickets, honey!' I said happily to him. 'We're going next Wednesday?'

'What?' He frowned 'You're actually going?'

'What do you mean?' I flared up. 'We discussed this weeks ago, and I told you the dates already. Don't tell me you've fixed work travel then?'

'No, no.' He said quickly. 'It's not that. You go ahead. That's fine.'

He wasn't very convincing though but I gave up after staring at him suspiciously for a while. I then messaged Chhaya about the booking that I had made after struggling for a long time with the Indian Railways website.

'Just don't do anything stupid.' Vijay remarked to me at breakfast the next day.

'What?' It was a fairly out of context remark as far as I could see.

'You know.' He said 'You're always doing stupid things. Don't do them when you go to Kasauli.'

'Stupid things like what?' My hackles were rising.

'Generally.' He said vaguely and yet managed to sound wise. 'Just because Chhaya is into adventure sports, doesn't mean that you can handle it.'

'I can too handle any adventure sport!' I protested. 'I've done rafting...and...'

'Exactly.' said Vijay. 'That's all you've ever done. And you probably almost drowned then.' I opened my mouth to protest but he went on. 'Anyway, what I'm saying is, don't be stupid.'

'Will you stop calling me stupid for no reason?' I demanded. 'What's the matter with you?'

'Nothing.' He said and then in a positively hostile way, he added 'You're stupid.'

I stared after him as he got up and left for work.

Even when the day before the morning we were to travel and Chhaya had come over to stay the night, Vijay was at it.

'Have you packed?' he said tersely as Chhaya and I looked at Tripadvisor to see what there was to do at Kasauli.

'Not yet.' I said. 'It's cool, it's only a few things I'll need...'

'Have you packed your medicines?'

'No, I will.'

'Stupid.' He murmured. Chhaya raised her eyebrows at me, and I shrugged and rolled my eyes. He had clearly lost it. He made a big show of going about the room and gathering up all sorts of medicines and within fifteen minutes had finally made his 'Medicine bag' for me.

'Here.' he said gruffly. 'I've put in Emeset, Pan-D, Combiflam, Augmentin, Eno...'

'I don't need all that!' I said

'Oh be quiet.' He growled. 'Where's your suitcase?'

I pointed at the one I had chosen and he snorted 'Are you nuts? Why are you taking that old one? Take my new one, it's got a case for your laptop. I suppose you'll take your laptop even though you're going on holiday.'

I struggled to retain my cool and said with dignity. 'I am a writer. You never know where inspiration will strike.'

'Yeah.' He said sarcastically. 'Also, you use your Mac as a charger for your iPhone. Stupid.'

I was about to yell at him but thought it would be inappropriate in front of mild-mannered Chhaya, especially after he had prepared a bag full of medicines for me. I remained sullen as he dragged out a more compact bag which was indeed more suitable for a short trip. He put in the medicine bag.

'Why don't you just pack my other stuff?' I suggested sweetly.

'Hah. Shut up.' He was being very rude indeed. 'I'm going to bed. You guys should also sleep early in case you actually plan to go tomorrow.'

'What do you mean?' Chhaya asked him 'Actually planning to go? Our train is at 6.40' She looked at me 'What time should we set the alarm for?'

'7.30, I think' Vijay suggested and then walked out of the room.

Chhaya and I looked at each other once and then turned our attention back to Tripadvisor.

The next morning we were running about to get ready in an attempt to actually leave for the station on time. Vijay was up too, I noted to my surprise. He was hovering around and muttering malevolently to himself.

I went over to say goodbye to Papaji, who is an early riser, and to my annoyance, Vijay murmured from behind me 'Don't forget to touch his feet.' Just when I was going to bend over and touch his feet. I went ahead and did that anyway and then headed out the door with Chhaya.

'Wait.' called Vijay 'What about saying a prayer?' He indicated the pictures of the Gods in Papaji's carefully maintained little Puja area in the kitchen.

Oh. Well, I didn't usually do that, but if it made him happy, why not. I had my shoes on so I didn't go into the kitchen but I dutifully closed my eyes and folded my hands in a small silent prayer.

It was just at the moment that I had opened my eyes that I felt a hard thwack on the back of my head. Vijay must have meant for it to be a playful little smack but it really hurt me. This was the final straw. My forty-plus-year old husband had clearly regressed to the level of a Kindergartener pulling on the pigtails of the girl he liked in class.

'What's WRONG with you?' I hissed at him. 'You CAN just say you're going to miss me and tell me you love me, na?'

'Fine!' He said. He pushed me out of the door, saying 'I love you.'

He shut the door firmly behind me, but I still heard him adding 'Stupid.'

I stared at the door for a while and then squared my shoulders and walked away for my holiday, shaking my head but already smiling.