Monday, December 19, 2011

To Bharatpur and Back Again

It’s time of the year when one’s leaves are about to expire. Strangely, I had taken absolutely no leave this entire year, and therefore was forced to reluctantly part ways with the Office for a period of two weeks from the 16th of December until the New Year.

The plan is to sit at home and sort out a few things and spend some time with the kids. But to kick things off, it was time for Vijay and Y’s mini-break. The last one was when we went to Jaipur over a weekend to attend a friend’s wedding. This time, I was just not getting time to plan things and my mother and sister were goading me towards this. They took to messaging me every day for the last week or so as to whether I had figured out yet where we were going. After I’d said no a few times, my sister said ‘Why don’t you just go and stay at the Leela Hotel in Chanakyapuri and leave the kids at mom’s place?’


I tried researching for a while, asked around, couldn’t decide and finally gave it all up to higher powers.

‘Ma’ I wailed desperately on the phone ‘Please help!’

‘Sure, I’ll do it’. My mother’s impressive organizational skills all kicked into action and after several SMS and email exchanges, I figured that Bharatpur sounded like the best of the available options.

‘It’s a Bird sanctuary’ I told Vijay ‘The nice thing is we’ll be able to go cycling’

‘Sure’ he said, poring over his presentation ‘Whatever you say, Honey’.

And so the booking was done.

The day before we were to leave, my friend Shome took us over to see his new place for a quick drink. He asked what plans for the weekend and I told him. ‘Oh Bharatpur, it’s quite nice’ he said.

We then looked over at Vijay, whose hand had frozen on the way while transporting his whiskey to his mouth.

‘We’re going to a BIRD sanctuary?’ he said, looking completely appalled ‘And we’re going to CYCLE? What kind of holiday is THAT!?’

I looked daggers at him and Shome took a sip of his own whiskey, looking unnaturally pleased as he said ‘Oh dear, oh dear’.

Anyway, it was settled that we would be going. The minor matter of packing occurred to us only the next morning, and we were an hour late setting out. As usual, we took far more stuff than we would end up using.

‘What’s THIS?’ Vijay held out a black bag.

‘Oh, Mother has sent her video camera, and the Sony Cybershot’.

‘I see’ said Vijay, eyeing the bag distrustfully ‘What’s wrong with our camera?’

‘Our camera sucks’ I said plaintively ‘I’ve been saying let’s buy a new camera, but you…’

‘Okay, okay’ he said ‘What’s THIS, then?’ He pointed to another larger bag.

‘Oh’ I said in a smaller voice ‘Mother has sent her Canon also. She said it’s a bit complex because of the multiple lenses, but there’s a manual in there that you can study. She also said we should pick up the Binoculars from Bua…’

‘Uh Huh’ said Vijay, half-amused, half-exasperated as he picked up all the various bags I had laid out. We said goodbye to various crying children and left.

It had been decided that it was time for the two of us to get some alone time, away from the kids. This is never an easy thing, especially for me. Or the kids. Vijay has travelled several times in the last couple of years, but I’ve not done anything more than a day trip. Nighttimes are especially rough because I’m still feeding. But then, we figured, we needed a break, and my sister Gitanjali had promised to come home and hold fort.

Therefore it was off to Bharatpur that we went.

We drove out later than planned, but in unusually good moods nevertheless. When Vijay and I were younger and in Bangalore and a carefree childless couple, we would often just bung ourselves into our car and drive off to some nearby weekend destination. There were so many places around Bangalore, and these little trips were what made life worth living in those days.

This trip now reminded me of those earlier trips, with Vijay being the driver, refusing to let me drive even a bit – and me being the navigator – in those days struggling with the Eicher Maps, and now struggling with the Google Maps on Vijay’s iPhone. After a while, however, I got the hang of it and was completely and thoroughly impressed with the sheer usefulness of this application.

‘Take a right’ I said with supreme confidence staring at Google Maps.

‘Where?’ Vijay looked around ‘There is no right turn here at all!’

‘Don’t argue with Google Maps’ I barked.

Thanks to my blind trust in Google Maps, we soon found ourselves on a highway called the KMP Expressway, which turned out to be an ambitious project currently under construction. Every few minutes, we thought we had reached a dead end. But we pressed on regardless and made painful progress.

‘Yeh hamari Innova jab tak lautenge, Maruti 800 ban gayi hogi’ Vijay grimaced as he revved up the engine to negotiate yet another muddy hill.

‘It’s an adventure!’ I said happily and chimed in my most nasal voice ‘Picture Time’ and took a snap of him.

He was worried ‘You don’t know anything about cars..saare funde gol hain…iss car ki to four wheel drive bhi nahin hai’.

‘Aha’ I sang ‘Now I know you’re lying…the Innova has four wheels. I’ve counted’. I whipped out my camera again and chimed ‘Picture time’.

‘Ignorance really is bliss’ He grumbled. Then he saw my downcast face and said in his most nasal voice to cheer me up ‘Picture Time’. It worked. I beamed at him and continued to take pictures of the flora, fauna and him.

Finally, the road sorted itself out and we eventually made our way to Bharatpur. We were staying at a beautiful resort called The Bagh. I asked when we reached, rather stupidly whether they had a garden for us to see. They assured us that they did, and the kind and courteous staff escorted us to our room and our mini-break began.

And what a mini break it was. I can’t remember a nicer holiday.

Day one, we had reached in the afternoon around one p.m. We had a sumptuous lunch. Vijay pretended to think a lot and finally ordered Gobi Paranthas and Alu-Gobi, while I had an entire Butter Chicken to myself. The food was absolutely awesome. We fought off the urge to sleep and went to explore the Keoladeo National Park. I had wanted to go cycling, but settled for the Cycle Rickshaw Ride since we still had the next morning to do the Cycle thing.

Phool Singh, a scrawny old man was our chosen rickshaw puller, and Vijay kept asking him all sorts of personal questions, interrupting him while he tried to tell us about and show us the various birds on offer. The park was really beautiful and despite my lack of interest in anything beginning with Ornith-, I found myself curious to see what Phool Singh was really on about – he and Vijay seemed to be able to see all the birds while I was blinking around shortsightedly. Finally, I buried my vanity and dug out my glasses and put them on and peered through them. Vijay cackled in amusement and then quickly turned it into a cough.

Phool Singh, Vijay extracted, had five children, all girls. Vijay chastised him for his life choices and went on to check whether he planned to make sure of all of them got a good education, and even asked him how often he drank – going as far as to ask which particular type of alcohol including brand and quantity he chose to drink. Phool Singh said he drank merely once a week, Aristocrat Whiskey.

The birds were truly lovely and even Vijay started to take an interest in them after a while. Phool Singh demonstrated how many different languages he could name the birds in, given the number of foreign tourists who came by, and the fact he had been here from 1996.

‘Parakeet’ pointed Phool Singh ‘Isse German mein Paragon kehte hai…aur Israeli log to isse Tukki Kehte hai’.

‘Tukki?’ Vijay gasped, looking aghast ‘Unhe bolo dhang se bole!’

When Vijay gets into the mood, he has this habit of saying strange things to people. He went on to do more of the same, when we stopped at the little Temple in the park. The Panditji pointed to the little idol and said ‘Aur yeh Keoladeo National Park…’

Vijay interrupted him excitedly ‘Achha, yeh national park hai?’

Panditji gave him a look and said ‘Keoladeo National Park ka naam inhi se mila hai…yeh hai Keoladeo…’

Vijay wisely ‘Oh’, nodding along.

I wished yet again that Vijay wouldn’t do these sort of things, and at the same time, tried to helplessly stifle my giggles.

The rickshaw-waala Phool Singh was surprised that we returned from the temple so quickly, and suggested that we take a walk around the place as there was some kind of a watchtower and some large stones with engravings commemorating the mass murder of birds by various Viceroys and Lords and those sorts.

We were feeling rather tired and therefore remarkably unenthusiastic at the prospect of climbing watchtowers and exploring things. Phool Singh must have wondered ‘Yeh kaisi Party aa gayi’, but out loud he simply continued to expound on the history of the place.

‘Yahan pe Lord Landslow ka record hai…unhone yahan pe 4,317 birds to ek din mein maara’

Vijay pointed at the ground where he was standing ‘Yahan? Issi jagah?’ with the same undue excitement he had shown the priest a while earlier.

‘Nahin sir, poore park mein’ said Phool Singh.

Vijay clearly didn’t believe him and went closer to examine the engraving. 4,317 Bag…Yeh bag kya hota hai?’

‘Bag maane sir, kitne chidiya maare unhone’.

Vijay was quite impressed now, and stood there reading the other records. A man passed by him and asked someone else loudly ‘Yeh Bag kya hota hai’.

Vijay continued muttering, but only I could hear him say ‘Bag maane sir, aapka basta’.

We finally convinced Phool Singh to take us back. It didn’t take all that much convincing given that it was almost sunset. We were looking forward to our massages, which we had decided to indulge in during the evening.

The ride back, Vijay continued to extract Phool Singh’s life plan from him. My stomach churned when he said he needed to save up for motorcycles for dowry and managed an LIC plan wherein he put in Rs.2,500 every six months towards his daughter’s marriage funds. Our massages didn’t sound so hot to me now. I said to Vijay we must give him a handsome payment for the ride. Vijay remarked that in his line of work – he works in rural marketing – if I ever accompanied him on a trip, I would likely come back a pauper myself. Never mind, I said.

He will only spend it on more drink, said Vijay.

He won’t. I was convinced. He will put it in LIC.

Vijay rolled his eyes but didn’t try to argue when I finally gave him the amount I thought would make a dent to his next LIC instalment. Vijay told him several times after that to stop drinking once a week, and make it once a month.

We headed back to a nice relaxed hour in our room, ordering two cups of tea. Afterwards, we went for the most lovely Ayurvedic Massages, Vijay clarifying firmly on the phone beforehand ‘Male to Male and Female to Female, right?’. A quiet dinner in the beautiful restaurant wherein I declared that I had finally decided that my most favorite sweet is the Moong Dal Halwa – the melt in the mouth types, leave-you-begging- for- more- even- though- your- stomach- is –begging-you-to-stop-eating-types.

I couldn’t have asked for a more amazing first day on my mini-break with my husband. We went out for a walk in the beautiful garden. It was a dark moonless night, and Vijay asked me to look up.

A sky full of stars. My childhood obsession, which I hardly ever get to see living in Gurgaon.

Just when I had thought this day couldn’t possibly get any better.

( Coming up at some point of time: Day 2 description!)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Goodbye November, Good Riddance. Hello, December. Lookin' Good...

This year has been busy and fairly stressful, but nothing beat the month of November.

The entire month, my little maid was out and we didn't know if she was coming back. Was she going to get married at her village? Was she going to decide she just couldn't take any more of the twins' capers?

So we went ahead and put them in daycare. And it didn't work for us. No sirree, not one bit.

I'm sure Daycare is the life-saver for many, many mothers - I know many of these working moms myself. But in our case, the twins just kept getting infections, infecting each other, and eventually ended up going only about 12 days of the entire month.

The worst part for me was how they cried every one of those 12 days that they were being dropped off. Of course, the fact is that they didn't get enough time to really settle in, what with all the breaks, but still. Actually, I must correct myself - their crying was still okay, because I knew that within a few minutes they would be alright. What was actually the worst part was how everytime I picked them up - they were sitting around quietly playing, looking morose and subdued and with this wondering expression that clearly said 'Where the hell are my folks?'

Anyway - now the good news. My maid came back! And I'm hoping she stays with us for a while, because it is only now that I fully realize how much we need her.

This is a seventeen year old girl called Rinki, small and slight but with luxurious long thick hair, which appears to be her one vanity. She was very quiet and shy to begin with and didn't speak any Hindi a year back when she walked in - but is now a bright and happy chatterbox - who despite being a bit hot-tempered and prone to mood swings, is very very fond of the children and generally speaking, takes great care of them, playing with them and managing them with the energy that a seventeen year old posseses - and that the actual mother of twins who will in a few years be (gasp) twice that age definitely does not.

Of course, we also have help in the good ol' trustworthy K, who with all her faults, continues to be the biggest blessing in disguise - between Rinki and the K, and some other part time help ( yes, we have a lot of help, and by God, do we need it!) - we pretty much get by.

December, kicking off with Vijay's birthday and chugging along smoothly, seems to be overall a far better month than November. I am kind of looking forward to 2012 though. Lots of excitement coming up for more than one reason, including (Yay!) possibly, potentially, probably even the book, slated for April as of now - but we'll see about that.

In the meantime though, since we're all about living in the moment, we just got back after watching the Lunar Eclipse tonight. Pretty it was, and I realized only after a few minutes that I was seeing double, squinting up through my shortsighted eyes. Once my glasses were at hand, I saw the very pretty sight of the moon being gobbled up by our shadow, and had an interesting discussion around the dining table on astronomy, physics, philosophy and life in the womb ( don't even bother asking) with Vijay and his father.

Net-net, life goes on.

Know what I mean?

Next up: in the month of January, the K decides to leave for her village for a break. DAMMIT.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ooh aah my aching back!

Sorry, that's just like top of mind right now for me. Slept all wrong last night, twisted into various pretzel like shapes, trying to feed Pickle and prevent him from waking up and playing at 4 a.m. It worked. He slept well. Not so much Vijay and me.

I was under the impression that I was really stretched beyond belief for the last few months - until my good little maid who takes care of the twins decided to leave us. Panic not. She claims she will be back in December.

December has never seemed so far away in my three decades on this planet.

After carefully evaluating my options, including quitting my job, Vijay and I decided we would put the twins in day care. Luckily, there is a day care right next door and my friend Vani was reasonably satisfied with her experience there, and so for the last few days the Twins have been dropped off there, much to their resentment, confusion and obvious chagrin. I tried to fool them into being in a good mood at drop off time by giving them their favorite fruit - grapes.

Papad threw his grape at me while bawling in anger and frustration as the Day Care lady carried him away from me yesterday.

It is not nice to have your baby throwing grapes at you. Not when he's making that face anyway, the one that suggests 'Wait till you're an old lady and I put you in a nursing home'.

Sigh. The parenting gig continues to be tough.

Haan, so anyway, where was I? Oh yes. So yes, it's a tough-ish month, this November. But it's actually kind of cool because it's basically very intense times at work and then it's really intense time at home with several children crawling all over me. It's fun chasing them around and feeding them. Vijay continues to proudly proclaim, while gazing at them running about the park with a couple of other kids, ''I have fathered most of the children in this park''. Only a bit shady.

So the other thing that's been going on is a fair degree of visits to the doctor. The two I would like to mention here are:

* Peanut's Tooth Doctor - since she was terribly frightened of dentists, we took her to this 'Tooth Doctor' who specializes in kid's teeth - and he has taken care of 8 cavities - yes 8, we are horrible parents - over the course of about six weeks. Almost every Saturday, Vijay and I would be holding down Peanut at this hapless chappie's clinic. He also got bitten badly once by her. I felt quite sorry for him and very mortified. Only a little funny.

* Paediatrician Lady - This woman is absolutely brilliant. Have you ever seen House? I used to love House because of the way his mind works to solve complex cases for his patients. Our Paediatrician Lady is like a female Indian House. She's practised in the U.S and she has a totally different style from most doctors here - meaning, she actually thinks aloud and tells you everything that's going through her head. I so enjoy telling her the detailed symptoms and watching her piece it all together.

'Did he' she will say with a frown 'By any chance cry loudly for a brief few seconds two nights ago?'

I rack my brain and remember and say 'Oh yes, he did, at about one a.m.'

'Aha!' She will say in triumph 'I thought so. He's ruptured his eardrum. I could tell from the color of the secretions'

I faint at the thought, until she shakes me awake and tells me it's a fairly normal thing and so on. I gaze at her admiringly, thinking about how I should have listened to my Father and become a doctor myself. Female House. Sigh.

Right. Enough Ramblings. Time for sleepings. Goodnightings.

And do let me know - how is November looking for YOU?

You free to babysit?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Detoxification: Saturday Morning

* Sleep in despite the twins being up bright and early. Simply transfer them outside the bedroom to play with the other adults in the house.

* Awoken by Peanut who is insisting it is 'School today, ma'am told me!' - calling school to discover that she is actually right. Packing her off in a record seven minutes to catch the bus.

* Yoga routine, broken only by the twins plonking down on my stomach every few minutes. Bharat Thakur's Yoga for Flat Abs. Yeah, right. Oh well, we can try.

* Vani appears at the door, huffing and puffing and looking like a ripe tomato. She has been out jogging and claims she is going to die. She mentions she is planning to buy an iPad. I try to dissuade her, especially when I discover it is because she is unable to download iTunes on her laptop. She is not dissuaded. She has a bad sinus condition and a headache.

'Wasn't it Virginia Woolf?'

'What?' I ask politely

She is in a dark mood 'Who died because of migraine or something?'

I answer in all honesty 'I don't know'. Haven't the faintest.

'Yes' She says 'It was. She imagined a dark creature entering her head all the time. And then she walked into water and committed suicide'.

'Oh' I am a little worried 'Are you seeing dark creatures entering your head?'

'NO' She snaps as she heaves herself up and heads to the door. She mutters darkly as she exits 'But I am thinking of moving to a place where there is some water to walk into'.

I contemplate this for a bit and get back to my Yoga.

* Using dilapidated old digital camera to capture Vijay dancing with his twin sons. Resolving to buy new camera. Sometime.

* Applying an Orange Facial Mask. Little bit of pampering of self. Little Papad eyes me strangely and tries to pull it off. I hastily wash it off.

* Lazily considering going to Spencer's to buy various foodstuffs. Vijay disappears for half an hour and reappears with the good things in life. Soon we are eating Breakfast of varied items such as Upma, Toast with Cheese Spread, Quaker Oats with Raisins, Walnuts, Dates and so on. I am thankful for my several minutes of Yoga, and figure this meal is well-deserved.

* Having fun clowning around with Vijay. Mention that Vani is going to buy an iPad and suggest to him that he download iTunes on it for her and therefore get to play with it.

'Oh yes. I can probably tell her it takes about a year to download...and then maybe tell her that there's a new version of iTunes which doesn't work on the old iPad and that she should buy a new one...or maybe suggest to her that the Black one she's bought doesn't work as well as the White one and that she should buy a new one and give the old one to me'.

'Yeah right' I giggle 'She'll buy all that'.

Vijay points out, his favorite trump card 'She said we can't see the Sun rise around Bombay, because it's in the west and the sun rises in the East, remember?'

I am silenced.

* A little Blogging, and change of template. Because Change Can be Good.

* Conclusion of the day: Saturdays should be off.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

My Daddy, My Hero. For Peanut. Apparently.

I read a notice yesterday in Peanut's diary from school that said she had to dress up as a family member who inspires her, and that she had chosen her Father.

I was a little hurt, but asked nonchalantly 'Peanut, why didn't you want to dress up as Mama?'

She thought about this for a minute before she answered, and as she spoke, her agitation became clear 'Mama! How can I dress up as you and Daddy both? I am only ONE child', she said, holding out one finger at me to make her point.

I hastened to clarify 'No, Peanut. I meant...why did you choose Daddy and NOT Mama?'

'Oh' She said, dismissively 'Because you always scold me and Daddy doesn't scold me'.

I felt very bad about this but decided not to pursue the matter further. It's true that I've been scolding her of late. Even though things have improved drastically in the last month, the child ungratefully refuses to pick up on it. No matter, I think, and I browse the diary further. 'Oh it says you have to choose a thing that Daddy says a lot. What will you say?'

Pat came the answer ' Peanut, eat your food right now or you will get a smack-y!'

Oh Dear, Dear.

Eventually, the line she chose was ' Peanut, give me a huggy and a kissy. I'm going to Bombay'. But she also chose an extra line 'Peanut, don't sulk and fuss, just eat your food now'. She seems hell-bent on making her point about the food issue.

She wanted to wear Vijay's T-shirt, but he convinced her that dressing 'like him' didn't mean dressing in his clothes. She instead wore jeans and a grey boyish T-shirt. I tried to do her hair, sweeping it along her forehead like his, but she took one look at it and refused to go out like that.

I can't believe this child has grown up so much, so quickly.

Two more to go!

And hopefully at least one of the twins will want to dress up like me in about 3 years. Yes, there's always hope!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Till Death Do Us Part, Stupid

Imagine if you will, a Vijay who is leaving for Bombay for a major presentation. Unlike his usual calm, unruffled self, he has been a little agitated about the presentation, and I have been trying to calm him down.

His flight is at 9.30 a.m. and he knocks on the bathroom door at about 7.30 a.m. as I am bathing along with Peanut. He enters, picks up his shaving kit and then says Bye. I have soap in my eyes, but I want to give him a final parting shot, and decide to make it a joke.

'Don't worry, honey. Just day we're all going to die! So the presentation doesn't really matter'.

There is a snort of laughter from outside, which almost drowns out the sound of the little gasp from somewhere near my soapy knee.

I look down and see Peanut staring up at me in horror 'Mama! You said we're all going to die!'

I panic, afraid that I have scarred my four year old for life. I had totally forgotten about her.

'No, no, beta. WE are not going to's just that....'

'But you SAID it. You said we're all going to DIE...'

'No, no...what I meant was...see...'

Meanwhile, there is snorting of laughter from outside, this time with a lot more real humor in it.

And THAT, my friends, is bad parenting. Exhibit 17 a. Sigh.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Y Thought For the Day: Smoke Break

It's interesting to go out for a smoke break with two of the guys at work, even though you don't really smoke.

One of them - let's call him S, is trying to quit and is carrying that cool electronic cigarette that is mint-flavored and blows fake smoke. The other A ( of previous foot-in-mouth fame) is not trying to quit.

Post lunch, I am for some reason carrying some fruit I do not want any more, and ask A to hold it for me. I take a drag from A's cigarette just as two other smoking strangers walk out into the stairwell. They are not used to my presence, but are familiar with the other two.

One of the guys asks S for a light.

S tries to oblige, bending forward to light up the other guys' cigarette, but then realizes that his fake electronic cigarette is not up to the task. It's a bit of a foolish thing to do, but it's funny.

They laugh a bit, and then S indicates that A should light the man's cigarette.

That's when they all look at the fruit item between A's fingers, balanced delicately exactly as if it were a cigarette that he's been nursing.

A sputters and tries to explain as they all look at him askance, and tries to disown the banana.

But it's too late.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Y's Thought For the Day

It's fun hearing the guys at work describe a poker session they had without you last week; and then asking them sincere questions about it, only spontaneously adding the word 'strip' ahead of the 'poker' ; and then watching them look askance at each other and sputter in righteous indignation about how it was ONLY poker.

Note: I have decided to regale you all with little pearls of Y-dom from now on. I will make up in frequency what I lack in depth. It's kind of like micro-blogging. It's also kind of like laziness. Rejoice!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Unforgivable Boo-boo

There's a young man in my office. For the sake of anonymity, let's just call him - oh, I don't know, A.

A is a simple young man who sometimes says very dumb things.

Over the lunch table yesterday, we were having a random discussion, and the topic somehow came to how one particular person - (let's call him X, just for variety) - has joined the gym at the Office just to be close to and impress one other gym goer ( let's call her Gamma, for some more variety).

We were all laughing at X for being so obvious about his crush on Gamma, when it came to light that quite a few people have a crush on Gamma, and that she is considered to be what some might term 'Hot Stuff' amongst the males in the Office.

A looks up at this point and says to me 'You think she's hot?'

'Me?' I am surprised that this question is directed at me 'I guess she's kind of pretty, sure'.

A makes a scornful face and says 'I hardly think so. But these guys are desperate to find some goodlooking girl in office. I suppose it's a case of 'Andho mein Kaana Raja'. And...'

He stops when he sees me staring at him.

He starts to explain 'Andho mein Kaana Raja, Y, means that...'

I snap at him 'I KNOW what it means. And you just insulted every girl in the office. Zee!!' I turn to the nearest female member of my team 'Did you hear what he just said? Andho mein Kaana Raaja! He thinks we're all UGLY'

A panics when he sees that several women have stopped chewing their food and gossiping to direct malignant stares at him 'No, NO. That's not what I meant! I know...' He gives up and gawks helplessly for a while, a pleading look in his eyes.

It is the sort of look that clearly says 'Oh dear Mother Earth, please open up and swallow me now'.

I give him my most dangerous narrow eyed look until he blubbers and comes up with ' What I meant to say was...Andho mein Kaana in the plural!'

'WHAT?' Zee and me say together. 'What does that even mean'.

'As in' A gains confidence ' YOU guys also fall in that it's not her's the lot of you, really'.

We are mollified for only about a millionth of a second, until we figure out what has just been said to us.

Cries break out of ...'That's an even BIGGER insult! You're saying that WE are Kaana Rajas?'....'So net-net, only if someone is desperate, they will find us good-looking?'

Someone ( male) pipes in merrily with 'One eyed beauties, eh, A?' while the rest of us carry on haranguing the young man who already looks distinctly older, if not wiser.

I promise A that I will post about this little faux-pas.

I will now go and explain it to him. 'Faux-pas, A, means a little bit of an oopsy...'

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Physicality Of It All

...days like these when I am just so tired, I'm not really thinking, but just registering the physicality of it all.
The pushing myself up eleven flights of stairs out of sheer habit and the knowledge it's the only exercise I'll get today.
The hot coffee that practically burns my tongue but props me up for the first few hours of the day. The aching muscles in my neck and shoulders, and the exhaustion that creeps in after lunch hour, reminding me again of the fact that I'm sleeping far less than I should be.
And then the dizzy spell that hits me as I'm climbing up the steps to my home towards my kids.
The way that the kids crowd around my legs - the twins insisting upon being carried, an impossible task beyond a few seconds.
I feed them one by one - Pickle bites me viciously and I cry out in pain. He thinks it's funny and breaks into impossibly cute peals of laughter. He bites me again.
And eventually I give up and lie down on the floor in surrender. Peanut takes the opportunity to come and lie down next to me, and starts imitating the twins. Blowing raspberries on my tummy. She thinks it's funny. After about the twentieth time, I'm not laughing, but she doesn't stop. She pokes my belly-button and tells me that I'm 'the best'.
Pickle and Papad take the opportunity to fall on top of me repeatedly, almost banging their heads against each other every few minutes. Despite how tired I am, I try to energize myself with a few floor exercises - leg lifts and some Yoga. The leg lifts, they do not appreciate, and push my legs down whenever I lift them. I turn around to lie flat on my tummy and try the Bhujangasana, but Papad takes great offense to this pose, and starts to pull my hair. He does it so hard that tears come into my eyes, but I'm too tired to actually get up. I try in vain to do a few more exercises, but none of it works.
As they fall on me, twisting their limbs uncaringly, trusting that I will somehow catch them in the nick of time and save them from hitting their heads on the floor -which somehow, with some motherly instinct, I do each time - I can feel their smooth cheeks, their soft hair, and smell their sweet baby breaths.
I watch as they momentarily lose interest in me and climb the sofas, climb the chairs, climb the railings, attempt to electrocute themselves by sticking their fingers into sockets, open cupboards to take out and eat CDs, throw their toys on the floor, fight over balls and bottles, hit each other with their plastic bats, pull each others' hair - while Peanut perches on the dining table like a little Princess and does her drawings. I am still exhausted, lying prone on the floor, and my two maids leap into action, saving the twins from each other and themselves. I thank my lucky stars again that I have such help, but feel really sorry because I realise how tired they must be after a full day of this, and I feel bad that I'm so tired myself that I'm really unable to help out just now. I feel so sick and I wish Vijay wasn't so late coming home today. Two hours have already passed by now, and it's been a crazy, impossible, fun and exhausting two hours with three children.

I wonder how long I'm going to be able to keep this up. Perhaps it's the fact that I am no longer as young as I used to be - after all, I'm in my thirties now. But between work, the children, and lack of sleep, it all feels like it's a little too much and I am very very grateful for the fact that there is a two day weekend coming up. Heavenly. My entire body already aches for the extra sleep that the Saturday and Sunday will bring.

And then the bell rings, interrupting my contemplative reverie. All three children promptly run towards the door and in walks my six feet two Vijay. It is eight p.m. and the two of us stare at each other - he grins at me but I am not amused by his lateness and have no sympathy for his extended meeting. The twins are now crowded around his long legs and he picks up Papad. Pickle does not like this and makes his protests heard until my maid picks him and places him on Vijay's other arm. He stands there like that with his two sons, grinning in pure delight - all three of them have identical smiles on their faces and the sight of my many, many men makes my heart lurch a bit.

And then, Papad gives him a resounding slap on the face, stunning him. Pickle follows suit and Vijay is shouting, and trying to get the two of them to stop, but their new game is amusing them immensely and they repeatedly slap him. Peanut is trying to show him her drawing, unmindful of the fact that he is getting assaulted, and when he is unable to respond to her, she loses her temper herself and starts to pummel at him - unfortunately for him, her height and skinny long arms are positioned for most of these blows to land upon his crotch and he dances around like a giraffe under attack, shouting 'Help, help' as all three children do their best to smack him silly.

I hear a loud, throaty laugh pealing through the room and it takes me a moment to realize that it's me, giggling uncontrollably through all the exhaustion and dizziness at the sight of my husband and children like this. I laugh long and hard for the next few minutes, feeling better and more energized than I have the whole day.

Yes, it's kind of funny when you're not the one being mauled.

Welcome Home, Honey.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Questionable Exchange

Vijay: 'So Peanut also has to have a vaccination today, apart from the twins?'

Y: 'Didn't I tell you that already last night?'

Vijay: 'Which one does she have to have?'

Y: 'Arrey, Chickenpox only. It's at four years and one year. What else?'

Vijay: 'What time is the appointment?'

Y: 'Ten forty five. How many times do I have to tell you the same thing?'

Vijay: 'You think she'll actually get the vaccination?'

Y: 'Do we have a choice in the matter?'

Vijay: 'Have you noticed you're being a little snappy?'

Y: 'Have you noticed this entire conversation is in questions?'

Vijay ( tuneless singing) 'Mama is a'

Y (annoyed even more than before) 'What are you doing, Vijay?'

Vijay: 'I'm just breaking out of the questioning mode. (Continues to sing) Mama is a'

And yes, we had quite a day. Chickenpox vaccinations for three small children, and plus the treatment of 2 cavities for young Peanut.

I'm amazed I can spend a Saturday like this and feel so happy about it.


Sunday, August 14, 2011


Yeah, we like music.

The Circus They Call My Life

This evening, one decides to go to the park with the kids. So Vijay, I and our help Rinki valiantly make our way with the three kids.

When we get there, Pickle and Papad decide that the best way to enjoy the park will be in Mama's arms. This is a bit of an issue given that they both now weigh well over 10 kgs each, and I can only hold the two of them up for a couple of minutes before my arms feel like they are going to fall off.

After much persuasion, they decide to grace the grass and potter about happily for a bit. I lie back sprawled on the grass as Vijay looks on, commenting that about half the kids in the park seem to be ours. I decide not to be lazy and get up for a jog. Papad spots me trying to sneak off and runs after me, screaming, worried that I am abandoning him. Pickle joins the fray.

Peanut, who is also looking like a little boy thanks to the haircut she gave herself - yes, my four year old cut her own hair today - is running around me excitedly. It looks impossible that I will be able to get in a jog, but some kids are now trying to fly a kite in the colors of the Indian flag in honor of independence day. The kids are distracted by this, and I whisper to Vijay that I'm just going to be back in exactly five minutes. He is not listening to me because he is most excited about the kite himself. I poke him a bit and get his attention and then make off for a jog of about seven and a half minutes some distance away from the park.

When I come back, the children are splashing about in a puddle. Which is okay except for the fact that they are completely wet from head to toe. It is when they start trying to drink the water that we decide we must draw the line. Vijay sees that Pickle's shirt is wet and so he removes that. When he sees his vest underneath is also wet, he removes that too. My child is therefore running around the park half-naked and other parents are casting disapproving looks at us. We don't care until we see that he appears to be shivering and not just in excitement, and so I ask for Rinki's chunni, wrap him up in it and we all head back home. Sufficient time has passed anyway with little shirtless Pickle and the wet-but-clothed Papad acting like little bullies, together ganging up on other kids older than them in order to steal their toys and generally trying to pick fights.

All three kids are brought back home and we think wet must bathe them. It is clear that it will save time to bung them into a tub together, and so their clothes are quickly removed and all the children are therefore splashing in the water. Vijay and me are responsible for managing them in the bath while Rinki brings out their clothes and towels. By now, my own clothes are completely wet, but it's fun. It would be even more fun if there wasn't the fear of one of them getting water into their lungs, since they seem to feel that they are supposed to drink this water instead of merely bathing in it. Soap is somehow applied and removed, with minimal screaming, and mostly on Peanut's part - Papad and Pickle are reasonably low hassle about these things. Except when it comes time to get out of the tub.

Papad goes first, and makes his protests heard in a deafening manner, wailing constantly while a determined Rinki dresses him. I volunteer Vijay for Pickle - Pickle is the next to start screaming as his father grabs him and gets him out of the tub for some drying. Peanut is the easiest. When she refuses to get out, I simply switch off the light and say 'Hey, the light's gone, you better get out'. She comes out right speedily and it's not going to be too hard to dress her.

At least, it wouldn't be too hard if Pickle and Papad both decide that this is the exact moment in time that they both need me to feed them. They start squirming and struggling and crying even louder and poor hapless Rinki and Vijay can no longer hold them back. I take Pickle with me and try to feed him. He's okay for about two seconds and then he starts to bite me something fierce. I squeal in pain. There is just always so much biting involved when it comes to these two. Every day I come home and lie down on the drawing room floor so that both of them get access to me, and the way they make their affection known is to bite me in all possible places until I'm bruised and begging for them to stop - they leave their sharp little tooth marks all over me, and there's no real way to stop them. And no real reason to, actually, given that I actually love it although it makes me cry sometimes.

Anyway, Pickle is least interested in actually feeding now that he's got me all to himself and he clambers off the bed to go and play with the dustbin. Papad suddenly appears at the door and they fight over the dustbin, pulling at each other's shirts and hair and squealing 'Baiiya-baiiya-baiiya'. That's the only word they really know apart from 'Mama', and the 'Mama' is used to refer to absolutely everything. I watch them, fascinated, thinking for the nth time that I must have done something right sometime to be so lucky as to have twins.

Earlier in the day, I've gone for my guitar class and pretty much taught myself some new songs because the teacher was busy with some band practice. I've also had a nap - such a rare occurrence- and also gone to the parlor. I had to take Peanut there anyway given her disastrous attempt at cutting hair, and also myself enjoyed that form of Chinese torture otherwise known as 'Full Waxing''. With that, the whole day seems to have gone by. It's amazing. Even days when you do so little just absolutely whiz by - I've been sleeping a lot this weekend and could sleep some more. I am clearly convinced that I am not sleeping enough on most weekdays, therefore. This is even when I've rationalized various other ambitious attempts to pack more in - I don't try to write every day, but I plot a little daily and write on weekends. I don't bother practicing my guitar but just go in for the weekly class - mostly it's still fun, except when I'm sulking about how my fingers never seem to move as fast as my teacher's. I don't do a whole lot else apart from focus as much as possible on my work as I can when I'm in the office, and as much as possible on my family when I'm at home. But I do need those intense little breaks of about fifteen minutes that keep me sane.

Like that little stolen moment of guitar-ing that ends with the promise that by next year, I'll actually be playing the most complicated songs and producing the sounds with my fingers that my ear and heart aches for.
Like that few moments of jotting down some ideas for a book that I hope someone will publish sometime despite my being 80,000 words down and only half of the meandering fictional story through.
Like this post that in it's own rambling manner captures what I've been meaning to put down for weeks.

In the meantime. I leave you with a picture of what I leave behind every single morning at about 8.15 a.m. after we've all gone and dropped Peanut to the bus-stop ( someone remarked once 'ek bachhe ke liye itne saare log aate hai, because it's usually Vijay, me, Pickle and Papad who come to drop her. But then that's our circus.)

Anyway, here are my two little monkeys bidding me an unwilling goodbye.

It's not easy to walk away from this, I promise you.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

My Boys

Pickle and Papad at Peanut's little birthday party today. Pickle is wearing the Tinkerbell wings my sister got for Peanut. Yeah right. Some horns and a tail would have been more appropriate.

Err...and please appreciate the brilliant haircuts in the picture above, as opposed to their sloppy hairdos in the pictures below. It may help Vijay forgive me.

Papad is very modest about his hero-like good looks.
Pickle on the other hand thinks when you've got it, flaunt it.

Chocolate time. Ferrero Rocher, anyone?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Some random updates

* I love being a woman.

...because it means being able to spend a rare Saturday afternoon getting a facial and a pedicure while being able to read snatches of 'Eat Pray Love'.

Did I mention I love being a woman?

* Vijay and Y's Mini-break.

...has consisted of exactly two days away from the three kids for the first time in over a whole year. We went to Jaipur to attend Vijay's old pal's wedding, and I had an interesting time making small talk with the ladies before escaping to drink beer with the men outside!

We then woke up early the next day and went all the way to my favourite Sariska only to find that it was closed except for Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Vijay asked the reserve man in frustration 'Yaha baaki din kya karte hai log-bhaag?'. He meant to ask how the staff earned their keep. But the man just replied coolly 'Waapis chale jaate hai' indicating that we should do the same.

So went to Siliserh and had a fantastic breakfast to drown our sorrows, telling ourselves we would go boating in the lake right after.

'Two teas, Two omletes...and, make it three...okay, just make it four alu paranthas' said Vijay while ordering.

The sleepy looking manager and his sidekick laughed, gently mocking us and saying we would not be able to eat so much and shouldn't order that much at one go. Vijay and I suggested he give us a try. We promised we would pack up the leftovers and take them with us for lunch. They saw no flaw in this logic and agreed.

About fifteen minutes later, the food arrived and Vijay asked for some butter for the paranthas.

'50 grams, sir?' said the waiter and Vijay thought this sounded about right.

About ten minutes later, Vijay ordered another omlete. We hadn't accounted for the fact that each omlete came with two slices of white bread. And still, strangely, when the waiter came to clear the plates, all the food was mysteriously gone.

Vijay and I decided to give the boating a skip. We told each other it was too hot, but really, I think we were afraid the boat might sink with us in it.

Subsequently, we went to Neemrana and worked it all off climbing up and down the very pretty fort. It was terribly hot and muggy weater, but still fun.

And that's it. By about 4.30 p.m., we were home and our three bawling children were deposited upon us by a very glad grandmother, who left in something of a hurry, as she had to pack and go off to England.

Fine! My father in law has gone to the U.S and now my mother to England.

Sigh. I suppose our parents will never know how we feel about them abandoning us to go to the West for the better things in life. Still, we do what we can. We do what we can.


Pickle and Papad are amazing fun. They have started to communicate with each other, saying something that sounds a lot like 'baiya', and of course, they beat each other up and everyone else around them too, with great gusto. They run in opposite directions when we take them to the park and are all over the place all the time. They also kiss each other and we have to separate them because it ends with one of them biting the other. One of these days, I will get around to posting some pictures, she promised.


And...Peanut's birthday is just around the corner. July is that kind of month. First Pickle and Papad's birthday, then their cousin Pikki, then their cousin Adi, then Vijay's sister S. Didi, today My cousin Mini and Vijay's sister R. Didi and in the next few days, Peanut. Whew! Party time!!


I am about 65,000 words into writing something new which looks like it's not even halfway there, but am keeping the effort up in snatches of spare time which are increasingly rare, given how busy work and life in general is. Still, we try. And of course, I have taken these guitar lessons which are possibly quite useless given that I have zero time to practice between classes, but I have great fun jamming with the instructor for that one hour which is supposed to be each week but really ends up being once in two weeks.


I was going to tell you a lot more but I see Pickle is up and trying to escape headfirst from crib, therefore...

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Two become One!

...that is to say, some people's twin sons have turned a year old!

And the blog has not been updated with that momentous happening for a whole week. Sacrilege! Oh well, I'll get over it somehow.

Pickle and Papad, the most amazing little men in my life turned a year old last weekend. As is the firm belief that Vijay and I hold, one-year-old's birthday bashes do not make any sense whatsoever since the babies themselves don't know what the heck is happening, and so we said we would do something small, just for the family.

Of course, considering that the family consists of:

*my mother
*Vijay's father
* My sister
* Vijay's two sisters
* The two sister's two husbands
* One of Vijay's nephews in Delhi
* One of my cousins and her husband and two kids
* My Bua and Phoophaji
* Vani, who is honorary family member and her son who by extension is my nephew the 5 of us and the several maids that keep floating about, it was a full house ( it's twenty three people, in case you're wondering about the grand total) . To say the least.

It was the warmest, brightest, nicest little Birthday party for the two little boys wearing new clothes and looking all grown up. Babies turning Toddlers. The previous day, I had gone shopping. I hadn't been in a nice mood when I went into the store, with lots of stuff going on, and with shopping not being my most favorite activity, but when I got into the swing of it, I enjoyed myself like crazy. I bought three sets of toys for them, skates and a board game and an umbrella for Peanut, little return gifts for the few little kids who were attending, and party paraphernalia like balloons, streamers, party hats, paper plates and Dora glasses for my little girl, who ended up enjoying the party most.

My sister did the honors with the cake - or rather, two cakes from Maxims - lovely chocolate stuff, and Pickle and Papad stood at the ready with little plastic knifes, each wearing identical T-shirts that said 'Mummy's little Man' and gazing with curious fascination at the colorful candle that proclaimed them One Years Old, with various little sisters and a highly pleased Mama to help them cut their cakes simultaneously. I can't imagine a more perfect birthday. Where are the pics, people? I didn't take any, but there were various flashes of light.

Vijay's sisters did a little Pooja for them, and S Didi had even got tiny garlands made up of roses for them, and my little babies looked so incredibly adorable wearing them. Yeah, yeah, I know I'm gushing, but what the heck.

All day, memories of that fateful Saturday exactly one year ago kept floating into my head. 8.30 in the morning, staring at the blood in the bathroom. Rushing to the hospital. Emergency C-section. And all the other stuff that followed. And now, the most important thing was that the two little men are fine, strapping young toddlers already.

Pickle and Papad are the most amazing phenomenon for me. I may have loosely mentioned that I had a little obsession with the concept of twins. Is this common? I loved the Twins at St. Clare's series, and the Sweet Valley Twins series. I once ended up reading a highly inappropriate and somewhat disturbing novel called Twins at too early an age ( do not read it, please). I remember arbitly doing research on it years ago, and have been particularly interested in the connection that twins have with each other, the differences between identical and fraternal twins, and so on and so forth. I always secretly wanted a twin myself, but never ever thought I would be lucky enough to conceive, carry, deliver and raise beautiful twin sons myself.

At work, I joked the other day that I love A/B testing so much that I had twins just to carry out A/B testing with them throughout my life. But it's true. When you have identical twin sons, it's easy to figure out certain things. Such as, when parents say they love their kids equally, it isn't really true. There's a bit of a bias always. Mine is for one of the twins, and I will not disclose it for fear that the other one will one day read this and make my life hell. Hint, though - his name begins with P.

But in short, we have successfully crossed yet another important milestone. Here's to many more Happy Birthdays to the glorious phenomena that we so inanely refer to as

... Mister Pickle and Mister Papad.

Friday, July 1, 2011


I had been planning to restring
my guitar for a while.
But I had just let it lie.
And then when I tried to play it today,
The E string broke.
The most important string.
It had been over two years since I'd changed my strings.
Which just goes to show how much I'd been playing.
I didn't even know if I could do it myself anymore.
I thought of calling in the expert.
But then I thought I'd give it a go myself.
So I dug out some new strings.
Also pretty old now, but at least still in their wrappers.
And tried to replace the E-string.
First, I wound it the wrong way.
Replaced it, struggled. Nearly poked my own eye out.
Managed to get it in place.
And then tried to tune it.
It snapped. Suddenly.
I almost gave up.
And then I picked out another one.
And tried again.
More carefully this time.
And then when I tried to tune it.
It kept slipping.
Back into a lower octave.
There was still something wrong.
But then suddenly, it was in tune with the rest of the strings.
The most perfect sound emanated from it.
Relief. Happiness.
Even though I knew it could still slip.
For the time being, it worked.
One down. Five more to go.
It would need constant retuning.
But I could do this.

I was just restringing my guitar.
If I was the poetic type, I might say
It felt like I was restringing my life.
But since I'm not.
I won't.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Biting off more than I can chew

To top it all off, I am now toying with the idea of guitar lessons to revive a long forgotten passion. Wanting to read more, write more, play more, work more, and above all spend more time with family.

I've always liked Alanis.

'I recommend biting off more than you can chew to anyone. I certainly do'.

You live...You learn...

Except, sometimes, you may not, and that's okay too.

Friday, June 10, 2011

How do you do it, Yaar?

A couple of days back, Vani came home to visit me.

It so happened that Vijay was late, and our maid Rinki (who is a young girl that helps with the twins) had gone out for an hour to see her father. Thus it was the K and me, and three kiddies.

For the first few minutes of Vani's visit, she looked at me sitting there on the floor with all three babies clambering over me, and said repeatedly 'I don't know how you do it, yaar! I have one and I go mad sometimes. Look at you with three of them'.

'Oh it's nothing' I said modestly, adding 'I have a lot of help, you know. Rinki has just gone out for a bit. Least I can do is take care of them myself for a little while'. K was in the kitchen making Maggi for Peanut, so I sat there like a hero with the lot of them, glowing like some sort of cross between Superwoman and Mother India.

Peanut was lying with her head on my lap. Just then, Papad stepped on her ear and she suddenly screamed in pain. Papad, startled out of his little baby wits, tripped over my leg and fell down and screamed even louder than her. While attempting to reach out and grab him, I kind of knocked Pickle down and the combination of this rude behavior and all the screaming, set Pickle screaming even louder than his brother and sister. I didn't know who to comfort and almost set the record on screaming, while Vani looked less impressed than before, and a lot more worried and picked up one or two of them off me. I think I ended up hugging Pickle, more to comfort myself than him. The K also re-entered the room and finally some semblance of peace and sanity reigned once more.

Rinki returned in a bit to find a very sullen looking crowd and it was all I could do from hugging her.

Indeed. How do I do it, Yaar?

Seriously. I'm asking you. HOW DO I DO IT?

*Deep Calming Breaths*

Monday, May 30, 2011

'Tis the season to be Taggy...

Apparently, I'm a Versatile Blogger, according to the lovely Sue. Although she seems to have awarded me for my versatility in life rather than on my blog.

It seems I need to list some random facts about myself as a recipient of this award. Okay, just off the top of my head:

* Am supremely happy about having snorkelled over the Great Barrier Reef with my cousin Mini.
* I used to play guitar once upon a time. I have started again four days back and my fingers hurt. The twins don't let me play much though, and Peanut makes me play Mmm-bop for her repeatedly. This is embarassing!
* I have a bit of a temper. Okay, a lot of a temper. But I'm mellowing as the years pass (hahahahahaha!)
* I like Robbie Williams. Don't judge me.
* Apparently, I like to take perfectly innocent tags and use them to confess random things, even though I started out fairly strong with some cool snorkelling story.


Also, I realized I'm not tagging anybody with this post and the last. So sorry, but I feel too out of it and will probably end up tagging someone who's just been tagged. Double sigh!

But thanks Sue...appreciate it :-)

P.S - one more random fact - I abhor smileys but use them liberally myself.
P.P.S - oooh, I've got another. I am 50% Punjabi, 25% Bengali and 25% Nepali. Vijay is 100% Rajasthani. That makes Pickle, Papad and Peanut an interesting mix. I would like to see what their kids turn out!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

What mommyhood taught me...Tag

I feel very ill equipped to write this, but since it's Dipali who's tagged me, how can I not?

The reason I feel ill equipped is because I feel so certain that I am still learning. The funny thing is, a year ago, I thought I was pretty certain about what being a mother means, but then several things happened in quick succession

* I gave birth to identical twin boys
* My little Peanut became a 3 year old teenager
* I underwent two surgeries within a span of two weeks, and the worst possible health condition I've ever been in.

So basically, everything I had learnt thus far went for a toss.

But anyway, 5 things I can safely say I've learnt by being a mommy -

a. I am not the center of the universe. Not even close. The kids, all three of them, matter much more than me. I don't think I've ever been this unselfish.
b. I am the center of the universe. For them. No one else has that kind of effect on them. To be able to comfort them. It's magical. I've never felt more important.
c. My husband takes on a whole new dimension of attractiveness by how he behaves as a father. It is indescribable.
d. Your friends or cousins will never understand what it's like. Until they have their own. And that's okay, because you never understood before it happened, either.
e. Mum was probably actually right when she said she didn't love my brother or sister more than me just because they were older and younger. I know. I have three of my own now. Although technically, there is no middle child in my case, but still, Pickle is a minute older than Papad. Anyway. I guess that's just not how love works. There isn't a limited supply to be divided between people. There's plenty of it to go all around.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Photographs by Marta

Just a few sample pictures that my Spanish neighbour, Marta did up for me. She's created an absolutely gorgeous album, with high quality pictures on some special high quality paper.

She's starting out her career in India as a professional photographer, and the lady has some style. So if you're interested in getting some family pics and you happen to live in Gurgaon/Delhi, go ahead and email her at

Thursday, May 19, 2011


I've said it before and I'll say it again. I know sometimes it sounds like I am doing a lot and packing in many, many things in a day.

But it's actually at the cost of sleep and sometimes food and often exercise. And then there are days like this one today where I really feel like it's all coming at me from all sides.

So yes, basically what I'm saying is I don't think I would call myself an inspiration for anyone! So neither should you guys.

But I do love you for it.

Edited to add:

I just hugged Peanut and asked her solemnly 'Can I tell you something?'
She said 'Ya'
I said 'Life is full of problems. But you must always smile and know that you are very lucky to be you'.
She said 'Ya'.
I said 'Did you understand?'
She said 'Ya'.
I said 'So what did you understand?'
She said as solemnly as I did ' Sometimes in your whole life, the earth is the moon and it takes your house away. Because we are on the Earth and also in India, and the Earth is under India and so your house goes and then in the English we call the earth the moon and sing 'the house on the earth goes life, life, life'.
I am dumbfounded for a second and then nod slowly. And say 'Exactly'.

Thank God for my many, many children.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Attempting to Write

I have found it is a very, very different thing to write something while you're on maternity leave for months on end; and try to write something while you're handling a full time job and three babies.

I don't think I've written very much about the process of writing, so I thought I'd just start capturing it a bit.

To begin with, let's not get overly excited -the publishing of my first book is still far away - many months in fact, early next year is mostly likely. That's okay with me. I'm in no hurry at all. Just the fact that someone thinks it's good enough to print has got me started writing on a reasonably regular basis in the little spare time that I have.

About the book -it's going to be a book largely based on the funny side of marriage. As you may know, there are plenty of funny stories that I have on this subject. However, it wasn't as easy to write as it may sound. The first attempt I made, despite the good advice of my friend Parul, was very series-of-incidents loosely bound together in chronological order. I kind of fancied it a very Gerald Durrell or James Herriot style of writing, but it didn't really fly with the big publishers. I had to eventually change it around a lot into a story-type format, the more conventional 'commercial fiction' category as I later discovered this is called.

One of the smaller publishing houses, however,had caught hold of it in January because I had written to the CEO, through a contact at my workplace, asking for advice on how to go about getting published. His editor told him good things about the sample chapters I had sent on email and he offered to publish it. I almost said yes, because he was extremely convincing about how I should not 'get lost in the maze of large publishers'.

Even though I eventually did get accepted by a large publisher and may indeed get 'lost in the maze' (although I hope not and it doesn't really look like it given my experience with the very nice editor I interact with) I will be eternally grateful for this gentleman's encouragement - he is someone with decades of experience in the publishing business and he said something to me which I will never forget.

'I know what Indian writing lacks, my dear...and you've got it'. He gave me a very meaningful look, as I sat nervously on his sofa.

'I do?' I was surprised. 'Thanks very much'. After several minutes of more conversation, I asked him quite stupidly 'Excuse me, but could you tell me - what have I got?'.

He looked momentarily flustered but quickly said 'Why, humor of course'.

He also said later in the conversation 'You've got the makings of a real author. Not just a writer. An author'. This was possibly the first moment in my life when I really believed that something I wrote could actually be seen as worth publishing by someone who counted.

At that point of time, as I mentioned, I was almost convinced that I should just go with this godlike gentleman who was saying all these nice things. However, he wasn't talking large numbers at all; and fiction is not the forte of this particular publishing house. And I happen to have a Mami in publishing, who turned out to be my real guardian angel and guided in the whole process, because when I sent her the novel, she read it and then repeatedly told me to hold out for something bigger - to not be impatient. And that it did make a difference who published it.

I followed her advice, said no to the gentleman, and after a painful wait of a couple of months, quite miraculously, HarperCollins came on the scene and yes, they're doing it. The editor, as I've mentioned, happens to be a very very nice lady, and when she called me with the news, she said she had read it in the car on the way home and couldn't stop laughing and that her driver thought she had gone mad (exactly the kind of reaction I wanted) and that she really wanted to publish it.

The reason I'm disclosing this now is that I have recently received the advance cheque and it looks real enough although I haven't yet tried to bank it and think I might not ( plan is to frame it despite Vijay's protests) - but yes, net-net, looks like they weren't joking after all.

So that's it. The final draft of the book is with them. One has to finalize name. The cover design. And so on. Plenty of time for all that, but I think I will bounce some of the options off you guys as and when they get ready.

In the meantime, the other thing was that I was planning to write Book 2 as a sequel to the first one ; but when I discussed a loose fiction idea with the Editor, she liked the sound of the storyline and said I should try to write that as the second book, and maybe write a sequel to Book 1 as the third book.

'That's a more fun way to do it' she declared over a cup of coffee at the Coffee Shop at Vasant Continental.

So that's what I'm trying now. But it's tough on various counts. Firstly because as I said, I now have many more children than before and also a full time job. It's chugging along though with about thirty stolen minutes of effort each day and lots and lots of ideas in my head. The second level of challenge is that it's fiction! And I never thought I could do fiction, and yes, it certainly is different from anything I've ever done before. The good news is that I think I may be able to do it because it's coming along okay as of now - still needs lots of time and polish but may turn out decent. Not as funny as the first one perhaps, but yes, hopefully interesting.

Look at me - talking about Book 2 and Book 3 already. The gall. The insufferable overconfidence. But then again, why not? I'm not saying I'll be a big author. But I think I will keep writing, now that I've started. And as I've mentioned before, I don't think I'll be quitting my day job for it. If I quit my day job, it would be for other reasons than to 'focus on my writing career' ( especially since my writing career doesn't exist as of now!) . But I know this is something I want to do. I'll do it even if it hardly sells, although the darling editor seems to think otherwise ( A different kind of mass novel is what she calls it).

I'll do it simply because it's possibly the biggest personal ambition I've ever had.

Somebody pinch me.

Actually, don't.

If this is a dream, I'm okay being smack in the middle of it.