Sunday, December 31, 2006

Awwww! How Sweeeet!

We all make so many assumptions as a mean of simplifying our complex existences. Pirates, bad. Sunny days on the beach, good. Ice-cream, cold. Babies, cute.

Hold on a minute there, though. Babies, cute? Yeah, right. Oh sure, they eventually grow into cute enough toddlers after a point of time, when you get used to their faces. But honestly speaking, have you never experienced a twinge of true horror and the urge to leap backwards to safety, when a particularly revolting infant is stuck in your face, with the parent's proud accompanying 'And this is our little Chintoo!' or whatever the little creature's name is.

Hey, Baby-lovers out there - you may as well quit reading this post right now - that is, if you are really one of those who actually believe that all babies are cute and adorable. You might also be the type who goes about throwing daisies in the air during springtime, although this is not a judgement on you. But if you are normal, you will have to admit that not all babies are cute. It's a fact of life.

All puppies are cute - or at least, mostly. But not all babies.

The truth about most babies is that they are pasty, patchy-haired, overly pink, and their heads are too large for their bodies (which by the way, are freakishly tiny - especially those little fingers...brrrrr!). And their parents just do not seem to notice this fact - they are completely oblivious and in love with what they have done.

In the recent past, I have met some really ghastly-looking specimen. It goes like this: You peer into the crib, expecting to be charmed (in your usual naive, trusting manner). And then, you are rewarded with the sight of an unappealing onion-head with defiant eyes staring like the devil, right into your very soul. You start back involuntarily and hit your husband's nose with the back of your head. Your heart leaps into your throat and you suppress it somehow with a gulp. Without a moment's respite, you are then immediately faced with a beaming, expectant, adult face. It is at this point that you salvage the situation by finding your breath and exclaiming, perfectly honestly:

'My god! It looks just like YOU'.

You are then gently admonished by being told that THAT is the uncle and not the father, and secondly, the baby is not an 'It' but a 'he or she' - as the case may be. You decide it wisest not to argue these facts and move on, allowing others to gush dishonestly over the little beast.

Once you have left the room, you breathe a sigh of relief and start to talk to your husband about the terrible experience - you stop dead in your tracks when you realise that your husband is no longer with you, having omitted to follow you out the door. You head back and see everyone crowded around a delightful sight. Your husband appears truly enamoured by the child, tossing it in the air while it gurgles happily, establishing a special bond by making ridiculous faces that make the baby look good, and also appears to be in the process of teaching the baby its first words. Trust me to be married to the world's most natural Dad.

Either way, all hope is not lost when you see a really ugly baby. I know this because I have seen baby pictures of my friend Richa. Luckily, we have known each other only around 13 years and not before that. If I had met her as an infant, my little heart may not have survived it.

She was uuggh-ly. The old pictures were thankfully black-and-white so as to mask some of the true horror of her persona. It was the usual bright faced infant, head three times the size of the body, hair that began only at the top of her head, giving her the impression of a bad combover like Donald Trump's and wide, staring, round eyes - and for some reason, she would look straight at the camera every time, with this really puzzled expression that seemed to say 'D-uh! Is THIS expression scary enough? No? Let's try again!'

Anyway, the good news is that she is perfectly good-looking now. Except in photographs - the expression hasn't changed at all.

So the bottom line is: let's call a spade a spade, shall we? And if you can't say anything nice, just don't say anything. But quit lying through your teeth: the next time you see an ugly baby, just grin and say 'Ohhh...Can I get a picture of Chintoo?' (if the baby's name is Chintoo). Then take it home, compare it with your own early pictures and only then, decide if you have the right to feel superior.

But if I ever have a baby and it's ghastly, remember to just lie to me: because I'm the one who came up with the picture idea, and I will kill you.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Life Jinga-la-la

Giving into the much over-marketing by Tata Sky, my husband finally ordered it for us, last week. He had been going around the house trilling 'Life jinga-la-la' for a long time, but I had bravely refrained from commenting on it.

He was so keen to get this set up, that once he had placed the order on the phone (on Monday), he kept calling them everyday and reminding them to come over and install it - not paying any heed to the fact that neither of us would be home on any of the weekdays.

When he finally went as far as to suggest that we stay home for half a day on Friday so that they could do the installation, I lost my cool- and asked him why we couldn't just wait one more day and get it installed on the weekend. His argument was a weakly muttered 'Life jinga-la-la?', but he did decide to wait that one more day.

The next day, the Tata Sky men landed up, and they brought with them this huge dish to put on the roof. Now, we live in an apartment and the roof is naturally a common one - hitherto untouched and pure, it offers a lovely view of the sea and is open to all who wish to take a breather at any time of the day or night - only now, it is marred by our large and ugly Tata Sky dish set up right in the center.

After the installation of the dish, Vijay came down from the roof to complain to me about the neighbours complaining.

'That old Parsi couple of the sixth floor - they think they own the building! They asked me if I had taken permission from the Society Secretary to set up our dish!'

'Well', I asked, 'did you?'

Vijay said bleatingly 'No...I didn't- would you please come with me and ask him? You're so much better at arguing'.

'No, I'm not', I said (well aware that I was arguing and thereby proving his point) 'Anyway, it's already installed now, isn't it. What's the point of asking him now? What if he says no?'

'If he says no...if he says no...I will convince him...that there is actually a way that all of us in the building can get Tata Sky through just one dish, if we all decide to subscribe to it'

I said 'that's a pretty a Big 'If'. And will that be through the dish we've already set up?'

Vijay said 'No - through another special dish we will have to buy'.

I asked ' will that help him to allow us to set up the one we've already set up?'

Vijay left the room in a huff. At this point, he clearly felt his only friend in the world was the Tata Sky installer-guy, who was fiddling around and putting the final touches on the TV in the drawing room. Unfortunately, a little misunderstanding then ensued which somewhat damaged this budding friendship.

Vijay - Bhaiiyya, iss equipment ko kahan pe daalonge? TV ke upar? Shelf ke upar?
Tata Sky guy (unexpectedly and quite rudely) - Aapke upar.
Vijay (in no mood for this nonsense, drawing himself up to full six feet) - Mere upar? Kyon bhai? Kya matlab hai tumhara?
Tata Sky guy (cowering): Nahin saar. Aapke upar hai ki hum kahaan rakhen...mera aur koi matlab nahin...

Once the drama of the installation was over, we have settled down to watching television through Tata Sky.

And I really have to say, the picture is a lot clearer. It also helps to be able to see what is coming on different channels at any point of time. I earlier used to wonder if I was truly getting the max out of my TV viewing time by watching the best available program at any point of time - no more wondering about that. Now, it's wondering how there can possibly be so much crap on TV at any point of time.

The thing doesn't record, so that is one major limitation - and there is this creepy 'Tata Sky' music that plays whenever you switch to the menu to select channels. Brrrrrrrrr...

I hope I discover many other new exciting features in the thing, over a period of time. Because I now realise it was more fun watching Vijay get Tata Sky, than it is to actually watch it.

Well - I guess it's better to depend on constant entertainment from watching your Idiot, rather than your Idiot Box.

Ha Ha Ha. I really didn't mean that, hon! After all, you make my life Jinga-la-la.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Maid in Heaven

One of the key things that has made it worthwhile to move from the peace-and-beautiful-weather-of-beloved-Bangalore, to the hustle-and-bustle-of-noisy-Mumbai is: you guessed it - the help.

We were lucky enough to have wangled an apartment with a Sea View on Bandstand. It was on the first day of unpacking, when we were admiring this view from the living room window - we were just standing there- side by side, basking in the quiet contentment of husband and wife, enjoying a brief respite between harried moments - when the silence was shattered by a blaring, high pitched voice which rang through the apartment.

Disembodied voice (unnecessarily high decibel): MAIN TUMHARE LIYE CHAI BANATEEE?

Trembling with fear, we turned towards the door of the living room and the offender stepped out of the shadows. A sari-clad wizened old creature around half my height, stood gazing challengingly and authoritatively at us.

Vijay(taking charge of the situation): Chai? Haan, haan, chai. Par...aap ho kaun?

The creature suddenly seemed to remember her manners and attempted an ingratiating grin: MAIN ZAREENA. ISS BUILDING MEIN MAIN-ICH KAAM KARTEEE. SAB FLOOR PE MAIN-ICH. EK FLOOR, DO FLOOR, CHAAR FLOOR, SAB FLOOR. (in a revealing tone) TUM TEEN FLOOR PE HO.

Dumbfounded and unable to argue this fact, we nodded assent. She discovered that we didn't have tea in the house, so she went to the floor above and used the raw materials and utensils there to bring down two steaming cups of tea for us. I was immediately impressed by her resourcefulness and decided she was exactly what we needed. While sipping the tea, I was quick to quietly but firmly impress upon Vijay that he shouldn't try his negotiation tricks and drive her away (since his usual idea of negotiation is to bid 1/25th of the initial ask price and this tends to turn some people off). He reluctantly agreed.

After the brief discussion on payment which she won, she demanded of Vijay: MERA CHAABEE KAHAN HAI?

Vijay (wary from past experience with shady Maids in Bangalore): Chaabee nahin dega.

Zareena (Shocked and hurt): KYOON?

Vijay (searching for inspiration): ....Uhh....Ek hi hai!

Zareena (With a condescending guffaw): MERE KO DEYO. MAIN BANWA KE AATEE, NAA. PHATAFAT BANWA KE AATEE.

Vijay, defeated, handed over the key mutely. Soon, she was back, with two extra copies of the key which she gave to us. And then, she proceeded to take over the house.

We were quickly delighted to learn that Zareena would not only cook for us, including early morning tea, breakfast and dinner; but also take care of the other household bores like cleaning, buying veggies, etc. It really is quite fantastic - it's like having a live-in maid without her living in.

She has her drawbacks, of course - the chief of which is her disinclination to fold up clothes and put them into cupboards. She much prefers to put them straight into the washing machine, regardless of whether they need cleaning or not. I have bought many new clothes, tried them on once, left them on the bed, only to find them hanging out to dry the next day. And since she enthusiastically and indiscriminately bungs in everything into what is clearly her favorite invention in the world, more than one wonderfully expensive new shirt has been tainted with the bright color of a cheap undie (Vijay's).

The other drawback is that once she gets into a chatty mood, it's difficult to end the conversation.

Zareena (out of the blue, while I'm reading): MAIN SAARA HINDUSTAN KE LIYE KAAM KIYA.
Me (genuinely impressed): Achha? Saara desh mein?
Me (understanding): Oh, achha. Hindustan Lever ke log ki liye.

(Cue for the beginning of Never-Ending game of us trying to establish who lived here before us - and who before them - and so on - ending only when it's sundown and time for her to go home).

Overall though, she has been quite a catch - has a heart of gold, works efficiently, and most importantly - today, she made us Methi Paranthas for breakfast.

And with a Methi Parantha inside you, and the sea in front of you, Mumbai doesn't look so bad, after all.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006


I set myself up for this. I created this blog wherein my few regular readers (around 20 at last count -okay, maybe 3), now log in regularly, expecting to have a bit of a laugh, or at the least, read the entries with a knowing smirk on their faces.

But have you all ever thought I might have deeper feelings? Feelings that go beyond making fun of myself and other people? Concern about the state of the world? About poverty, about global warming, about the children of our future, about what's left of Michael Jackson's nose?

Well, I have plenty of deep feelings. Deep, deep feelings. Feelings of pain. Dejection. Rejection. Disappointment. Regret. Worry. Moroseness. Despair. Sorrow. And my stomach hurts.

In case you are wondering, I am ill. I have been unable to go to work for two days. I am like the mythical Kumbakarana, only better looking, and waking up at shorter intervals to feed myself and wreak havoc on the hapless mortals around me.

Yesterday, the husband promised to be by my side always, to lovingly tend to my every need, for all time. He couldn't take it for more than a day. I saw him click his heels together as he skipped off to work today, and I think he was whistling too.

But being ill puts life in perspective. You tend to become more philosophical. You know, how you never really appreciate the simple things in life until they are taken away from you? A sunny day, the song of a bird, the ability to retain what you have eaten for more than five minutes?

They say, when you are happy, you forget what it is to be sad and vice versa. I say, when you are ill, you forget what it is to be well and vice versa. And that's why, all you who are well today, probably have no clue what it feels like to be ill and are thinking that I am just making a big deal out of nothing. All I can say is, my time will come - you too will be very ill soon and will remember this then. Not that I wish you ill, it is just inevitable that it will happen.

Which brings me to another philosophical musing - the inevitability of it all. That dark day is not far away, when it all comes to an end. We can keep deluding ourselves about the meaning of life, but sometimes it just seems easier to give in to the hopelessness. The only thing that makes the ride more amusing is observing the Irony of Life. Irony is....pretty Ironic, sometimes.

'Scuse me. Feeling sicker now, for some reason. Bet you are too.

Friday, December 1, 2006

The Game-of-the-Name

There are some people who are really good with names - they can see a face and immediately know what to call it.

And then there are people like me.

Names have often proven to be the bane of my existence. And not just others' names, mind you - my own nickname has been a cause of trauma during my formative years, and no, I am not going to tell you what it is. Anyway, this is not about names that I would like to forget - it is about names that I forget to remember.

It happened again last week, at the tea & coffee machine in office, a place that I often tend to embarass myself.

I was sipping my tea dreamily and peacefully, when a girl with a familiar face came up to get a drink. Never one for small talk, I nevertheless thought it would be good to practice.

Me: Hi!!
Girl (Smiling in a friendly manner) Hello.
Me: How've you been?
Girl: Good! Pretty good!
Me: Haven't seen you around lately, you been Travelling a lot?
Girl: Uhh..No...I've been coming here everyday for the last three weeks.
Me: Really? Well, I haven't seen you.
(Pause as we both sip and look around)
Me (To break the silence) Your hair looks great.
Girl (Pleased, but looks a bit uncertain): Thank you.
Me (Continuing to push it): You've grown it a lot, haven't you?
Girl: Uhhh -'s always been like this only..
Me (Now confident in the chatter, thinking this is going unusually well - I clearly know her better than she knows herself!) What are you saying! It was sooo short earlier (gesturing with hand above ear)
Girl (A little less friendly now): You're talking about someone else. I don't think you know me.
Me (Truly shocked by this twist in the tale): What? Aren't you Neha from Accounting?
Girl (A little icily, maybe she doesn't like Neha) No, I am not. I'm Asha, I work in Training. We met three months ago at the course in Bangalore.
Me (Trying to salvage the situation): Ohh..heh heh...this is a little embarassing. You really look like Neha though. Do you know Neha? Short hair like soooo ..(can't stop myself from gesturing again)
Girl (Bugged, clearly not flattered by the obvious resemblance): Yes,I know her.
Me (Trying to get out of this): Well, I'm Y and I am bad with names, as you might have guessed. Ha ha.
Girl (looking like she wants to throw her coffee on me): I know who you are. We've met before.
Me: Well, gotta go! It was nice seeing you again.... (Sudden wave of hopelessness)...What was your name again? I'm sorry...
Girl (Fiery hatred in her eyes) It's ASHA.
Me: Ok, bye....Asha! (Escaping into nearby bathroom, cautiously emerging only after I am sure she has gone)

Author's note: Please note that the names in this incident have been changed, to protect the identity of the characters - and also because I have subsequently forgotten them

But, in my defense, I would like to say that I know for a fact that this kind of thing happens to a lot of people. Take one of my best friends, Richa.

So Richa knows a lot of people, is one of those popular kinds. But one day, after having had a long conversation with a familiar faced fellow, she realised that she had no idea who he was. She could probably have managed to get away with it, but her curiosity got the better of her at the end of the conversation, and she thought she had cracked a really smart way to find out his name.

Richa (Super casual): So listen, yaar! Just tell me...I was having this argument with my sister...about the exact spelling of your name do you spell it?

Guy (nonplussed):
t ??

Stunned and embarassed silence all around.

I know how you feel, Richa. I know it.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Blogger's Block

The mornings are bleak
The days are dull
The dusks are gloomy
The nights just null,

Depression hits hard
After the initial shock,
Please beware of
Blogger's Block.

What on earth
Can one write next?
Avoid logging on,
Under any pretext,

The mind's a blank ,
More than usual? You mock!
But I just smile sadly,
it's Bloggers's block.

I will lose my public,
Their attention is Fleeting,
But I will lose my Job,
If I write more in this Meeting.

So go log on elsewhere!
Fickle readers, that you are.
But come back tomorrow,
And you could win a car!

I lied! I lied!
There's no car on offer!
My creative license has expired..
And what the hell rhymes with offer?

Clearly losing it now,
But I've got a plan,
After you lot have gone,
Mother will still be a fan


Friday, November 24, 2006

When Vijay met Khalid

My husband V is a friendly kind of guy. Unlike a lot of other people, he has absolutely no airs about him. Consequently, some of his biggest admirers are drivers, security guards and suchlike. Their faces positively light up when his lanky, six foot frame bobs into view.

This, they feel, is a man who understands us. A true prince. We would do anything for Saar.

I remember how when we used to go to the same office, the security guards would drop whatever they were doing to come and wish him Good Morning with bright grins. Once or twice, I tried to get them to say it to me, too, but his presence would outshine mine everytime. So I just gave up.

He is a simple man with simple ways, and it is only after many years that I have managed to get him to stop yelling 'Bhaiiya' to attract the waiter's attention - which really is okay in Shiv Sagar but not in the Taj. Now he just gives them a helpless smile until they are drawn to his magnetic self.

But this same ability to appeal to the masses, sometimes subjects him to what some may refer to as the 'Dregs of Society'. Such as Khalid.

Day 1:

V is on a smoking break outside the office during a hard day, when it starts to rain the figurative cats and dogs. Taking shelter under a shop board or some such thing, he finds himself in the close vicinity of all types of other people, all bound together by the pouring rain.

One of these, a clearly drugged, dirty, and damp fellow sidles upto him and this was the exchange that followed, or at least, something close.

- Dirty Damp Dude: Friend!
- V: (Startled silence, taking in the fellow's appearance)...
- DDD: (Unfazed by the cold reception) I have been listening to you talk on the phone. You are very good!
- V: (Unsure what this means and wishing more than ever it would stop raining): Eh, heh heh.
- DDD: But you don't concentrate. You must concentrate! Focus!
- V: Uhh - OK.
- DDD (Clearly bored of this topic): You read Shakespeare?
- V: ...No...
- DDD: Julius Caesar? King Lear? Hamlet?
- V: No, not them either.
- DDD: (quoting) To be...or not to be...
- V: (Glad he knows the answer to this one) To be!
- DDD: I am Khalid. What's your name, friend?
- V: (Reluctantly) Vijay
- Khalid: Do you know about Newton's Third Law?
- V (Being a science student, does know this one): Yes..every action has an equal and opposing reaction..
- Khalid: Correct! But it is wrong! Because if E is equal to MC squared, then how could the apple fall on his head?
- V : (Stunned Silence)..

Thankfully, by now, the rain has almost stopped and V tries to take his leave.

- Khalid: (Shouting) Friend!
- V (turns back) What?
- Khalid: Friend! I'm Starving!
- V (so glad at the prospect of leaving, that he hands over a twenty rupee note, saying sternly): Don't make this a habit.

And of course, Khalid has every intention of doing so.

Day 2:

Next day, V goes out with his subordinates for a break, and sure enough he spots the raggedy figure unsteadily tottering towards him at a goodish pace. Thinking quickly, he puts out his cigarette and starts to usher his juniors back into the office building immediately. They are unused to this kind of speed from him, and wonder what is going on - they have almost made it back inside, when Khalid nears the gate, screaming 'Friend! Friend! Vijaaaii! Vijaaii!'

One of V's subordinates looks askance at the fellow, and then at V and informs him: Boss. He is calling you.
V (Irritated by this news bulletin): I know. Let's go.
Subordinate ( Quietly bemused): But boss. He knows your name.

V whisks him inside without further explanation.

This time, Khalid is disappointed - however, he is a man who may be down, but not out.

Day 3:

Khalid haunts the office gate constantly, waiting for his kind, newfound friend and source of income. V has now decided not to go out at all, and is getting increasingly annoyed at being denied his smoke break. He speaks to other colleagues about whether the strange guy is still outside.

One reports that he is. Apparently he has just witnessed an exchange between Khalid and one of the many taxi drivers outside the gate.

Khalid (belligerently): Oye! Mere Moje Kahaan hai!
Taxi driver (annoyed): Kaunse Moje?
Khalid (with all the emotion of righteous indignation): Saale kutte! Agar moje hai, to bol hai! Agar nahin hai, to bol nahin hai! Kaunse moje ka kya matlab??

V can't help thinking: One admirable thing about Khalid is his rock solid Logic.

Day 4:

V is going nuts with the tension. He wants that smoke but he does not want a conversation with Mister Khalid. One of his colleagues reports 'I saw him earlier this morning. He was creating a real scene..'

It turns out, there were two young college girls who were laughing and giggling as they passed by Khalid. Probably not at him, but it seemed to annoy him nevertheless. So, he apparently came up with an on-the-spot plan to get their attention.

Khalid (Yelling): Dekho, Michael Jackson! Michael Jackson!
Sure enough, this caused the girls to stop immediately and stare at him in amazement. That's when he made his winning move.
Khalid (Holding his hands around two feet apart): Tumhe maalum hai Michael Jackson ka ______ itna bada hai!

He was still chuckling softly to himself as the shocked and scandalized young women scurried out of sight.

V thinks, this cannot continue. Something Must be Done.

Day 5:

By now, V has made up his mind. Khalid is a nuisance not only to him, but clearly to society at large. Why, that poor taxi driver. Those poor college girls,too. It did sound funny, he admits, but that's really not the point. It's time to take Action.

In some large corporates, Action typically equals Email. Living up this tradition, V writes to the administration manager and details his plight.

The contents of the email are suitably toned down, but the overall message is that there is a Man who needs Help outside the Office Gates and may potentially cause Trouble for the Company Officials, amongst other Innocent Folk. ( V has taken some liberty in adding the 's' to Official, but you can understand why).

V receives a glowing email from the Admin manager, telling him how caring and responsible an individual he is, etc.

Surprisingly, Khalid actually disappears. And V can now go out of the office during the day, as and when he pleases.

I am pretty sure he misses him - at least partly.

Lastly, a little message for Khalid - anyone who gets my husband to smoke less, has to be one of the good guys. And in the unlikely event that you ever find your way to this blog - let me assure you, it's the rest of the world that's crazy.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Sisters Forever

There's absolutely nothing like being sisters. And Thank God for that, eh?!

I have a little sister, and this is our story (partly).

One of my first early memories is Mum disappearing abruptly for a while and my grandparents looking deliriously happy. It was somewhat comforting to find out later that they were not just pleased by her disappearance but by the pending arrival of something which they kept calling 'Chaand' - I remember wondering what on earth the moon had to do with our conversation. I didn't understand it until I saw this tiny, cranky, wizened creature - I must admit I took an instant but momentary dislike to her but that's just because she was so clingy with my mother.

But that was only the beginnning - it was all uphill from there (for a while). I think it began with her first sentence, where she strung together the words 'shut' and 'up', and directed this message to our teasing elder brother. And that's where a lifetime bond was forged between her and me.

There's a lot she should be thankful for when it comes to me:

- I made childhood interesting for her - I was an imaginative child who made the most out of limited resources. For example, baths were not just baths. They were Events called 'Funbaths', involving creative performances of song, dance, drama and the flinging about of wet underclothes to leave splotch marks on the bathroom ceilings and walls (there was nothing more pleasing to the ear than the 'thwaapacck' when each missile struck a dry spot) until the entire place was dripping, to our immense satisfaction. It's true - Life was anything but dull.

-I taught her some key lessons of life, such as enterprise and business - to supplement my own meagre pocket money, I would make artful greeting cards (which all involved slight variations of a rose, the only thing I could draw) - and sell them to her for a reasonable five rupees (Or ten, depending on the customer's choice of size). She did not always take this lesson well, and was less than amused when after she presented a purchased birthday card to Mum, she discovered the legend 'Made by Y Lal' on the back. Hey, it was the makings of a future marketeer! We like to call this little phenomenon 'branding'. However, after this incident, business became slack and the enterprise eventually dwindled and died.

But apart from this, there were some things that she had to endure - though even these, one may argue, have made her the strong, resilient character that she is today:

- I experimented with almost everything on her. When she wanted to cut her long, long hair, and Mum refused, I was happily there to oblige her. I really didn't see what all the fuss was about later - all the crying, the scolding, the further cutting to 'even it out' by Mum - I thought the style I gave her was funky but no one else agreed.

- I did tend to be a bit of a bully. One time, I woke up in the middle of the night, in the freezing winter of Delhi to find that she had stolen my blanket. I was not in the mood for explanations or forgiveness, and snatched it off her, the late hour causing me to punctuate this gesture with an overly dramatic 'Shame on you!'. She half-woke, hoping it was just a bad dream, and subsided quickly. That's when I turned over and discovered my blanket lying on the floor next to the bed - to rectify the situation, I immediately restored her blanket to her, tucking her in with the loving words 'There - you cosy?'. She claims that this is the sort of crazy extreme behaviour that has scarred her for life.

Before you feel too sorry for her, let me tell you, she got her own back in her own subtle manner.
-At the tender age of ten, I was once gazing critically at my face in the mirror, when she sneaked up behind me - she thought it would be very funny to surprise me by smashing my face right into the mirror - always being one to follow her plans through, this is exactly what she did. Luckily, because she was an unusually small six year old, all this did was to break my front tooth right in half. The pain of this event was not just restricted to all the humiliation I endured for weeks in school, but in later years, resulted in the most painful root canal ever.

-Then there was the Pants incident. Mum obviously thought it quite endearing and convenient to dress us up in identical clothes, and we would often wear each other's clothes. So I was wearing her little pink pants when we were all on a car ride to distant Kashipur. During a long ride, irritation levels and tempers are high, and for some obscure reason, the little one got peeved with me. The next thing I new, there was a clammy little hand not belonging to me, in my front pant pocket. And nothing for the next half hour would convince the blister to remove it, her sound logic being 'they are my pants, it's my hand, so why should I move it?'. With the parents in the car, I was not allowed to maul her, and this made for a very frustrating time.

So you see, it all evens out. And obviously, there were great times too. This is the stuff that memories are made of. And trauma.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Another Day in Bangkok

I know it seems like I write mostly about Bangkok and this gives the impression that I spend half my life here, but it's just been that kind of week. I flew to Mumbai on Friday and then flew back here on Sunday night/Monday morning.

When I arrived here this morning, I found that the hotel car had not come to pick me up from the airport. In the semi conscious state resulting from an overnight flight, I stood dumbly at Exit B, reading the name placards over and over again. When it dawned on me that the car wasn't here, the expression on my face became even dumber, and this attracted a kind soul to take pity on me and ask me which hotel I was staying at - he then called the hotel representative for me, and a businesslike little woman landed up and then herded me to a car.

When I got to the hotel, it turned out that the room wasn't ready so I had to wait. That was the final straw. I told the receptionist lady my entire life story, ending with how important it was that I get some sleep before my meeting starts. She looked concerned and made the appropriate sympathetic/contrite noises. I finally got to my room and was mollified by the memory of the chocolates that had been sent to me last week by the manager, when I had made a similar inane complaint. I expected a new box of chocolates, but they never came. I think they are probably on to me now.

Despite this ghastly start to the day, the end was reasonably nice. A brief shopping experience, ending with us getting practically thrown out at 10 p.m. from the store (We at Robinsons would like to thank our valuable customers and hope they will patronize us tomorrow - reading between the lines were the words, Get out Get out Get out).

This was followed by a drink on a streetside cafe where an adorable bunch of Thai musicians were singing the classics like 'Anudda day in Paladice (Thing aboud eed)', 'Money for Nuttin ( I want my NBC)' and the opening strains of 'Dhoom Dhoom' when they saw us Indians ( Namaste! We like Tata Young!).

But the high point for me remained the surreal conversation that I was witness to between my companians -let's just call them Strange Indian girl and Strange Sri lankan girl. Naturally, when a Strange Thai girl landed up to take the order, it was a recipe for disaster:

- Strange Indian Girl (looking at menu): I will have a beer!
- Waitress: Ok! Ok! And you, madaaam?
- Strange Sri Lankan girl: I will have the spy wine cooler.
- Waitress: Ok! I bring.
- Strange Indian girl: Oooh, that sounds more exciting. I want that.
- Waitress: Ok Ok! Two Spy Wine Cooler.
- Strange Indian: Wait...what's a spy wine cooler?
- Strange Sri Lankan: It's's got...It's...(turning to waitress) What is it?
- Waitress: (gesturing with her hands to what appears to be something the size of a pea): It's ...It's...Small ( pronounced Suh-maaalll)'s ...( starts looking almost apoplectic with the effort of trying to explain)
- Sri Lankan hastily to Indian: Look, I can get that, and maybe you can take a sip of mine to see if you like it.
- Indian (nodding quite stupidly): Okay, so should we order two, then?
- Sri Lankan ( giving up): Yes, yes.
- Indian: Okay, just get us two spy wine coolers.
- Thai waitress (having checked with other waiter while the above intelligent exchange was taking place, says proudly): We no HAVE that.

And it starts all over again.

Needless to say, we ended up having two Pineapple juices and a Pepsi. Probably all for the best. Can you imagine what my companions would have been like with some alcohol in them?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

And the Heart says..

There was this one scholarship I won a few years back; just for kicks today, I went to the site to see what I had written in my application. To my utter shock, I found the following:


...Following her heart and taking up commerce as her choice of study, she took admission in Sri Ram College of Commerce....

Had they ever warned me that what I wrote in my application form would be up on the Internet, I would have thought more carefully about what I wrote. I don't remember writing that! Can I sue? And if I do, do I have to return the scholarship money?

Just to clarify, my heart did not say that I should take up commerce!! Whose heart ever says that?

I can just imagine it:

Mama: Beta, what will you be when you grow up? Doctor? Lawyer? First woman in space?
7 yr old Y: No way, Ma! My heart says it's commerce all the way for me!
Mama: (taken aback) But what will you do after that?
7 yr old Y: Depends..what's 'commerce', Mama?

But that brings me back to the question: what does my heart say? It says so many things, which are utterly impractical (okay then: impossible!) to actually do.

- Fly a plane one day (or least go paragliding)
- Be on stage with U2 ( without having to do it by sneaking past their bodyguards)
- Write a best selling book (move over, Rowling)
- Win the Nobel Prize ( I have a fabulous concept I am working on, but I can't share it because there are a lot of unscrupulous people out there-like yourselves- who might steal it)

One day, I hope to have a more realizable vision, which I can then turn into reality. But when will that happen?

I just love the quote which goes 'Some of the most interesting people I know still don't know what they want to do at 40'.

It fills me with hope. Maybe turning 40 won't be so bad.

On the other hand, what's the point of being interesting to some arbit dude when you're still as confused at 40 as you were in younger days? He's making money on this kind of cheesy quote while you're still dreaming and trying to figure it out. Sigh.

Alternatively, I could work on enjoying what I already have. You know, just enjoy the ride. It's a lot easier and makes sense.


Naaah. I'm going for the Nobel Prize. Or something.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Welcome to the Meeting from Hell

7.30 a.m. - Hotel Alarm rings. Too early. Can sleep for another five minutes. Meeting at 8 somewhere in hotel itself, no problem.
8.00 a.m. - Just re-woke and remember now meeting was to start at 8 and NOT 8.30 a.m. Rush, rush, rush.
8.15 a.m. - All ready! Hair wet, no time to dry but must prioritize breakfast. Dash out of the room, into the lift.
8.17 a.m. - Stupid lift was going up, I had to go down. Dropping random Japanese guys to 44th floor before heading back down to Lobby for breakfast.
8.18 a.m. - Lift unfortunately opens for at floor 3, the meeting floor. Few people waiting. One recognizes me, waves as if to say 'this is the floor, get off'. Quick decision to pretend I don't see, gaze at the top of the lift thoughtfully, and carry on for breakfast at Lobby.
8.20 a.m. - Aah, breakfast. Aah, Coffee.
8.30 a.m. - I am Ready! I am in the Meeting Room! On time! Meeting was predictably late in starting. Give dirty, offended and superior look to those walking in after me.
8.35 a.m. - Agenda is being discussed. Sounds exciting. I am going to be a Part of Something Big. Have been told that this will be a chance to see how decisions get made in Large Global Organisations. Pen poised elegantly (or as elegant as you can be with clammy hands and wet hair) over my notebook, ready to commit anything important to paper. A certain breathless anticipation takes over, which combined with the effect of the coffee and the air conditioning, gives me goose pimples and a certain pleasant buzz in the head. I am READY.

(Fast forward to 4 hours later)

12.35 p.m. - They LIED. They said lunch was at 12.30. It is now five minutes PAST. And that is not the only thing they lied about. They lied about it being Value Adding and Great Learning for me. For the past four hours, everybody has been talking about some technical aspects of the product where I understand nothing, want to understand nothing and have nothing to say. Why am I here? Why? Why? Why?

12.40 p.m. - The conversation has now dwindled down to two people who are arguing about something that nobody else seems to understand. I just heard one guy say something like 'If we use mono-chromatic layer versus bi-chromatic- layer, then there is a depth issue in the template creation and the machine capability issues impact the production timeline of the back labels'
Also, there are fourteen other laptops open with people pretending to furiously take notes, while playing Freecell or Minesweeper or browsing the Internet. Is anybody in this meeting reading my blog right now?

12.45 p.m. - I AM BLOGGING FOR GOD's SAKE!! And NOBODY HAS NOTICED!! I give up. My life is meaningless. It is a meaningless stream of endless meetings. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh.....

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Hey Anonymous

So there is this one person out there who is kind of freaking me out by leaving comments ( nice ones, though : Thank you!) but insisting on staying anonymous.

What's more, if you say stuff like 'I am glad you have come back to writing, Now I'm sure you can guess who this is'...No, I can't...A lot of people say that to me ! (Arrogant Y)

But I am now guessing, with my superior powers of deduction that 'back to writing' means that you have been around in my life for a long time...


Hey, MA, is that you?

Either way, can you please reveal your identity by way of comment on this post? Will much appreciate. It's a bit like being stalked, you know. And not in a good way.

I really do appreciate the kind words, it's very encouraging.

It's going to be a real anti-climax if it DOES turn out to be my mother. Oh well, let's see.

Off to Bangkok tonight, potentially for a week. Fear not, the Internet is everywhere and therefore, so am I ( A profound statement and a testimony to my IT genius)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Four Corporate Lives

(A tribute to four IIM-Bangalore students who are now haunting four different corporate corridors)

It's early on Friday evening, just about 5 o clock,
And Aravind's lightning quick moves send Wipro office into a shock,
Was it a bird? A plane? Or Superman that just whizzed by?
None! It was Super-chaddi - Tambi saying 'bye'!

Now imagine Tuesday morning, roughly 4 a.m.
A poor HP manager's life is in mayhem
Fat Ganju calleth at this unearthly hour, voice all hoarse,
'Not well today, boss - resting,no,no, not at the golf course'

And Whoever said our dear Manav M was Mean?
Singlehandedly he keeps IBM's monetary flows clean
Gives out cash awards to those who deserve it most
'For you, Manav!..Thank you, Manav!..Mention not, dost!'

She floats in like an angel, every morning through the door,
The Unilever world reverently wishes, like her, there were more,
Beautiful, Savvy, Gracious, Intelligent and Kind!
But Alas, and alack, and a-Lal is hard to find..

That's IT, folks

I am undergoing a personal transformation! I can feel it happening in every bone of my body.

I am becoming an Info Tech Genius!

Were it even last month, I would never have have professed to be an Info Tech genius. My best friends wouldn't call me an Info Tech genius. In fact, my 'best friends' have often gone as far as to call me an Info Tech moron.

Evidence of my earlier Info-Tech Moronity:

a. At IIMB, we had a random IT course - there was a test, with some really weird marking system (negative marks for wrong answers). I looked at the paper and quickly realised I knew none of the answers. But thankfully, having studied Probability, I made some calculations and realised that if I answered everything randomly, I would still pass.

Except, I ended up getting a .67/20. Yes, that's right, a point-six-seven on 20. That's when I also realised I was going to fail all papers requiring Probability. To my credit, it wasn't the lowest in the batch. Some people (well, two) got 0 and (-1) respectively. How sad is that! Morons!

b. It got so bad at one point that my friends from IIMB thought that they could con me into believing that Software was Computer stuff that was easy to understand and Hardware was the more difficult stuff - and that the IT test that I had failed consisted mostly of Hardware.

Just to clarify: I didn't believe it, folks - but that they could even try and pull that one on me shows what little respect I command in this field.

c. You know those jokes where people call up the IT department and say 'My computer isn't working' and the IT guys say 'Can you first just check if your computer is plugged in/Switched on', etc.

I don't think that's funny. What's so funny about that??

d. In fact, when I call the IT department in my company from my extension, they look at the Caller ID and then don't pick up for ages. When they do pick up, at least once I have heard them whispering to each other 'it's YOUR turn, YOURS'. On my best day, there is at least an audible sigh before the person on the other end of the line deigns to say 'Hello (again), Ma'am'.

(You will be pleased to know that I am now getting the better of them by calling from a different extension each time)

BUT, things are changing!

Evidence that I am an Info Tech Genius:

a. I know more about the internet than my grandmother. Get this:

- When I explained the concept of email to her, she asked 'do I need a computer to get email'. Hah!
- When I told her about Search Engines, she asked 'Can it look for Dadu (my grandpa)? I get worried when he is late sometimes'. (I know, I know, How sweet, but still..) Double Hah! I write this, I realise that she actually knows more about the internet than me and is clearly a visionary in this regard - considering that you no longer need a computer to get email and pretty soon, there will be a way to track wandering grandpas with astounding accuracy.

Dammit! Moving swifly along...

b. Oh what the heck..this set of arguments is falling apart. I am still an IT Moron. But hey, not everyone is good at everything, right? At least, I have figured out how to get onto Orkut ( and even write testimonials - the joy of discovery!). AND not only have I started a blog, but I have even inspired other people to start their own!

If you don't believe me, you can check out and you will find evidence of this, in the author's credit to me!

And what's more, nowhere has he used the words 'If an IT moron like her could do it, I knew anyone could'!

Thanks for that, Mahogany. In fact, thank you ALL for your kind support as I blunder my way through an increasingly InfoTechhie World.

God Bless Bill Gates and all the other big IT-type guys.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Conversations with Vichit

(Here's something I wrote about a while back, it happened a few years ago when I was in Bangkok for work)

Conversations with Vichit

My Driver here in Bangkok has the endearing habit of agreeing wisely and confidently to everything that he hears. Notwithstanding the fact that he can’t understand English at all, and I speak to him in that language.


Y: Vichit?
V: Sir? (pronounced Suuur?)
Y: Vichit, is there any Used Book Store around the hotel?
V: Hotel?
Y: Yes, Queen’s Park hotel.
V: Yes! We go Queen’s Park!
Y: No, no; you know; books? For read? (signalling reading and turning of pages)
V: (Turning head back while driving to observe action) Aah! Book! Yes!
Y: Great! (Sigh of relief). Any Book Shop Near Hotel?
V: Yes, Hotel.
Y: Will you take me there right now?
V: Suur?
Y: To the Book Shop? Now?
V: (Bursts into childish laughter, having misinterpreted this as a huge joke) Yes.

Drives me straight to the hotel, says “Bye Sir! Tomorrow?”

Y: (Defeated) Tomorrow, 8.15, okay?
V: Yes! (Walks away)
(Comes back) Sir?

Y: Yes?
V: Tomorrow 7. 30?
Y: (Deep breathing exercise in session) No. Vichit. Tomorrow. 8. 15. EIGHT. (drawing figure 8). FIFTEEN (Showing an L to represent the hands of the clock, albeit wrong direction from his point of view).
V: Sir?
Y: Vichit! 7.30 TOO EARLY. Eight Fifteen.
V: (Realisation Dawning, and again seeing this as very funny) Hee Hee Hee. Okay, Bye-bye.

Next morning, all refreshed, Y feeling benevolent and chatty, gets into car with Vichit at the wheel.

Y: Vichit?
V: Sir?
Y: (thrown off balance) Vichit. WHY do you call me Sir?
V: Suur? (said along the tune of Hmmm?)
Y: Vichit. You no call me Sir. You call me Lal.
V: Lan?
Y: L-a-l. Lal.
V: (Trying this out) Lan! (Again, sense of humour takes over – peals of tinkly laughter emanate)
Y: Yes, Lan! So, you call me Lan! Okay?
V: Okay!
Y: (knowing this is too good to be true) Vichit?
V: Suur?
Y: (Strangulated sounds) That’s what I thought. Never mind.

Evening, Vichit comes to pick up Y. Y, has again forgotten about the self-torture involved in Conversations with Vichit. Tries to find out about the city from Vichit.

Y: Vichit?
V: Suur?
Y: (ignoring this) Do most people in Bangkok not speak English?
V: Suur?
Y: English.
V: (Suddenly turning around). You. You-you-you-you-you. Name-you?
Y: (Taken aback) What?
V: (Patiently explaining, realising I probably don’t understand English very well)
I, Vichit. You? Name you?
Y: (mistakenly) Y.... ( first name of ten letters and 4 syllables)
V: Suur?
Y: I mean, Lal. I told you yesterday? L-a-l? Lal? Lan?
V: (Relaxing) Lan. Okay.
(Silence. Y plans not to pursue original line of questioning)
V: I have book!
Y: (Starting) What?
V: Book! Book! For read! English Thai.
Y: That’s great.
V: You learn Thai?
Y: No, not really. No Thai.
V: Okay, you take book, learn Thai. I learn English. (Peals of laughter like wedding bells)

(Takes out book and gives Ywith as much ceremony as possible while driving)

Y: (carefully examining book). Vichit?
V: Suur?
Y: This is in Thai.
V: Yes! English Thai.
Y: No – your script is different from English. I no understand. Cannot read.
V: (Surprised by this fact) No read? (Face shows discernible doubt as to why he’s driving me all over the place and not the other way round)
Y: No read THAI. Read only English.
V: (Crestfallen and not a little disappointed in my narrow-mindedness) Okay. (Accepts book back).

Reaching hotel.

Y: (In pre-emptive mode) Tomorrow 8.15?
V: Yes!
Y: (Warily testing the waters) Tomorrow 7.30?
V: Yes!
Y: NO! Tomorrow 8.15!
V: Okay, bye bye.
Y: (Sighing at prospect of next day and further Conversations with Vichit) Bye bye.

Exit Stage Right.

Panic sets in

Within the hour, I realise that this is it! I am putting up my own thoughts in my own words for actual people to see! ( Aren't you happy you can count yourself falling into the category of 'actual people'). Not that I have ever had any issue saying exactly what I think, but somehow the written word is just different, isn't it?

Unfortunately, as I write this, I realise I am already beginning to ramble. And I must therefore, at this early stage, clarify expectations (hey, I work in management, that's what I do: I 'clarify expectations'!).

This blog is for me to ramble. Occasionally, you may chance upon a particularly rare insightful life-altering thought, but the chances of that happening are quite insignificant. For that, go to Osho's blog or something.

Having said that, I will be writing what I think and I invite you to write back what you think back (?)

Either way, you get to know me a lot better. And Isn't that just wonderful?


What's in a name?

If this is going to be anything like the zillion diaries I have attempted to keep at various points of time in my life, this blog is a temporary thing.

But I think it is going to be different - for one, this is meant to be a public diary- unlike one of my earlier diaries, which was made public during Recess by a group of 'friends' when I was the tender age of twelve. This kind of thing would tend to put you off writing down your private thoughts (especially if like me, you had your own personal, witty, insulting nickname for almost everybody in school). If I ever feel strong enough, I will perhaps write about that incident one day!

In the meantime, welcome to my thoughts. I promise you nothing.

Just a bit on the name - I picked it for no other reason than my name starts with 'Y', my husband has converted that letter into an outstanding nickname for me, which results in a lot of confusion for other people and sometimes ourselves. Imagine, if you will, a typical clothing store in Mumbai. The hunt is on for something that I will like to wear beyond the first two times ( including the trial room occasion).

Short,pink-shirted store girl to V (my husband): Sir, what about THIS one?
V (half turning to me, without taking eyes off the ghastly item): Y? Y!
Short, pink-shirted store girl (walking away, offended): Well, I just THOUGHT you might like it. Never mind. ( In her head, continues: Feel free to ruffle up all the merchandise and walk out without buying anything, you two demons)

Right then; so that's why the name. And fair enough, right? Y On Earth Not?