Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Sabbatical or a sabbatical (from Latin sabbaticus, from Greek sabbatikos, from Hebrew shabbat, i.e., Sabbath, literally a "ceasing") is a rest from work, or a hiatus, often lasting from two months to a year. The concept of sabbatical has a source in shmita, described several places in the Bible (Leviticus 25, for example, where there is a commandment to desist from working the fields in the seventh year). In the strict sense, therefore, sabbatical lasts a year.

Y Sings along:


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Monday Fails. And Recovery.

Being on half day, and having spent very little time with my several children in the last few days, I decided that it would be a good idea to take the three of them to the Kingdom of Dreams. Peanut loves it and I thought it would be very nice to take Pickle and Papad as well this time. I phoned home to tell the maids to get them ready and planned to show them a good time at the Culture Gully.
I reached home in the afternoon and packed up the excited lot of them and we headed over to the KOD. As we got out of the car, I noticed everything was rather quiet. Indeed, there was absolutely no one around. I stood there holding one of my babies in my arms and closed my eyes in frustration.
 Monday. Closed. What was wrong with me? They would be so disappointed.
Except that they’re all under 5 years of age.
I turned around brightly and announced ‘We’re going to the MALL instead!’
There was a chorus of Yayys, the loudest of them being from me, and we piled back into the car. We reached the mall fairly smoothly except for Papad’s insistence on trying to drive the car part of the way. The kids had a great time in the play pen near Fun City. And I was reminded about how I really couldn’t stand places like this before but now they just seem like such a good idea that I could kiss the guy who thought of them, that money-making entrepreneurial visionary son-of-a-gun.
After their play time was over, I took them over to the Food Court and bought them ice-creams and Noodles. The twins must have thought it was Christmas – or they would have if they weren’t so small and didn’t know what Christmas is. Still, the three of them had a gala time.
When we headed back it was 5.30 p.m. and I figured we had just about enough time for a nice dip in the pool. The twins went nuts in the pool the first day and I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to manage the three of them, but the couple of visits after that to the pool were reasonably smooth. Therefore, I announced that today would be a double-treat day and that now we were going for a SWIM! There was another chorus of Yays, mine again being the loudest followed by Peanut’s enthusiastic yell – she was wondering how come Mama was being so nice today.
I headed in to change into my swimming costume while the harried maids got Peanut, Pickle and Papad into theirs. When I came out of my room, the three of them were standing there waiting for me and Peanut asked in a forlorn voice ‘Mama, how come no one is in the pool today?’
I went over to the window to look out but even before I got there, it had already struck me.
Monday. The pool is closed. What was wrong with me? They would be so…
Aha! I turned around with a bright smile and said ‘Guess what! We’re all going to have a bath …in YOUR mini-pool. Yayyyy!’
They looked a little suspicious this time but my enthusiasm was apparently very infectious because about three minutes later they had all jumped into the little plastic tub that I had bought for them a few weeks back. And had a gala time splashing around, fighting each other and ensuring that my clothes were completely soaked by the end of it.
Aaah. Thank God for the ability to turn little disappointments ( and poor planning) around!
Except, what happens when they are older than five?
We’ll worry about that later then, shall we?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


I get a call from one of the nice ladies in the colony saying 'You have such a bright little daughter. She asked for my phone, because she wanted to speak to you! And she knew your number! I asked her how she knew it and she said she memorized it from her School Identity Card'

Yes, I agreed, little Peanut is quite the kid. Peanut came on the line and said 'Hello Mama. I want to ask you something'.

Go ahead, I said, looking around for the time. 6 p.m.!! What a day.

'Why don't you take me swimming?'

Swimming at our pool is only till 7 p.m. A split second decision to shut down laptop and I tell her I'm on my way.

By 6.42 p.m., I'm with Peanut at the pool. She had been waiting there impatiently for me and was nearly in tears by the time I came, but within about five minutes, is splashing about, enjoying ever precious second in the pool.

I didn't get my own costume because of the lack of time - I had to arrange for Pickle and Papad to be out of sight when I sneaked into the house in order to get Peanut's costume. So, for a change, I'm just sitting by the pool side and watching my daughter splash about. And I was just so glad that I wrapped up things and came home so that she could get that eighteen minutes in the pool.

It wasn't a duty at all. It was an absolute pleasure watching her get the max out of that eighteen minutes.

Oh, to be a child again.

Then again, being an adult isn't so bad - when you've got a child like that.

Times three.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Grumpy Morning To You

Little Papad says 'Utho Mama' repeatedly, kicking me in the ribs and crying. I try to ignore him - it's only 6.30 a.m. and I'm hoping he'll go back to sleep, but he doesn't. So I finally sigh and get up, taking him in my arms. He stops crying. Vijay turns his back to us, puts the pillow over his head and gives a little satisfied snore. I resist the urge to kick him in the ribs and go outside with my youngest baby onto the balcony.

It's a beautiful morning, actually. Yesterday's rainstorm has cooled the temperature drastically - and also caused a bunch of windows to break and a few trees in the colony to fall. It's the perfect weather for a walk, so I make Papad put on his shoes and head out in the twin stroller. It feels strange to have only one baby in it for a change, but Pickle is still asleep.

We walk on, and Papad is singing quietly to himself in his little bird-like voice 'Happy Birthday To Youuu...'. My mood is lifting now as we walk across. Suddenly I'm thinking back to mornings at IIM-Bangalore -where my good friend Ganju was always terribly, terribly grumpy in the mornings. He would leer at anyone who tried to talk to him. Knowing him well, I just quietly would accompany him through breakfast, avoiding any attempt at conversation before we reached our first class. But there was Chirpy Shilpi, who never seemed to learn. Day after day, she would spot the two of us early in the mornings in the Mess and swoop down on us like a large, happy bird and say 'Good Mooooorning!'. I would manage a smile and say 'Hey, Shilpi'.

She would then turn fondly towards Ganju and say 'Good moooorning Ganju'. Ganju would turn his sullen face towards her, and gaze at her penetratingly through sleep-deprived swollen eyes, fixing her with what anyone would construe to be a murderous stare. She would be momentarily taken back, and then mouth something like 'Wow, see you later' and retreat.

This ritual was repeated day after day after day. Those were fun times.

I snapped back to the present as my son was asking me something. 'Pickl-a?' He enquired.

'Pickle is sleeping' I informed him. He was satisfied for a few seconds with this answer, and then asked me


This went on for a bit until he forgot and started to ask me the names of the cars parked all throughout the colony. This endearing habit of my children when I'm taking them out for a walk in their stroller drives me up the wall - I have no clue what the car models are and so resort to answers like

'Green car'
'Bua's car'
'Pickle's car'
'Dirty car'
'Munmun Bhaiiya's car'

The only problem is that I take several rounds while on the park and my automatic answers the second and third time round are probably all inconsistent the first time - but the babies don't seem to care. They just mutter in satisfaction to themselves, repeating whatever I've told them 'Green car'...'Bua's car'...

I walk around some more, lost in thought and finally realize it's been thirty minutes. Pickle should be up by now. I make a quick call and he is duly transported down to his rightful place on the stroller by his brother's side. Papad is delighted to see his slightly cranky twin and leans into his face and says 'Pickl-a! Doggy aala hai!'.

We proceed to take another couple of rounds of the colony and then head to the Park. After a while, I hear 'Maa-maa' and look up - freshly teeth-brushed Peanut has finally been brought to the park as well and she comes running up and hugs me. She and the babies start to run around in all different directions and I'm left again wondering how amazing it is that the Park can be crowded with children - all of whom belong to me!

I head home, leaving them to it at about 8.30 a.m.. It was a great, healthy start to the day. Vijay says something to me as my head hits the pillow, but I'm out like a light for the next three hours.

Not a bad morning, actually.  

Friday, May 11, 2012

Almost Done. You'd Think.

By this time, my book was supposed to be in print. However, it appears that launch planning in the publishing world appears pretty much like launch planning in all other worlds.

I met my editors today, and my eyes almost fell out of their sockets when I saw the number of corrections they've had to make while proofing. The pencil marks were all over - around ten per page, to my dismay.

I had been told very nice things about 'how the book is quite well-written and therefore there's no real editing we'll be doing, it's mostly just proofing'. But over the last few weeks, the sheer number of changes that have been marked up - due to being errors in logic or just carelessness of some form or just bad punctuation ( ouch!) - have, unlike the content of my book, not been funny.

There it is, right there...the previous sentence was too long to be easily comprehensible. Apparently, I do that. Apart from making cardinal mistakes like putting my full stops after the quotes. And using too many adjectives (Double Ouch!). But today's session was a fabulous learning experience because the Chief Editor is one talented lady with an way of expressing things that you just get. The book is getting the benefit of her experience and as a result of that sharp eye and sharp pencil of hers, is getting tighter and sharper.

They say it's going into print by Wednesday latest - I am a bit apprehensive about it, but it seems there is no choice - it's gone into the Advance Information Sheet for June and therefore it has to be out in June. Hallelujah, Praise the Lord!

Editing is apparently a never-ending process and the way it works is that only as one set of changes are incorporated, do the next set of issues emerge - and the cycle continues ad infinitum, almost up til the time the book goes to press ( and sometimes even while it is doing so) - I'm just crossing my fingers that we've got most of the main issues in place. It's quite an eye-opener though. Things like -

* I'm staying in a company guest house already but I mention I'm about to enter the corporate world?
* How could he have helped me prepare my resume for placement season if I just met him three months ago?
* I've fallen sick on the flight to Jaipur, but it couldn't have been a flight from Delhi because that's just too short a time frame.

These are apart from the other pure embarassing things like -

* He felt a tug on his bamboo stick
* He rummaged wildly through my drawers.

The other basic issue has been that we've had to quickly try and cut down the number of pages from 300 to about 250 because we're trying for a magic price point and this requires being ruthless with my verbosity.

While doing this is when I discovered - blogging and writing a book are very different. Almost all the incidents that went out were ones that at some point I had just lifted from my blog. For me personally, the biggest learning has been that when it comes to writing a book, you have to be fundamentally more considerate of the reader. And while my blog has been absolutely instrumental in opening up my writing and giving the confidence to even attempt a project as ambitious as a book, it has a very different role to play.

So coming to that role - I'm thinking that I'm going to start a series about the process of writing. Kind of like this particular post, except a lot better organized. This is because I struggled a great deal to just figure out the basics like how to write, how to get published, how to re-write - the basics of how it works. And while I'm hardly 'experienced' yet, it is a process that's underway. What do you think? Would that make sense?

People prefer to comment on Facebook and reply to Twitter posts nowadays, but on this one, would appreciate if you could give me a sense here. Also need to know whether any of you are still around and awake at the end of this post.



Tell me what you think?

And yes, pray for me - am hoping despite this delay of a few weeks, next month will see a better, tighter final version of Just Married, Please Excuse in the stores. And that is definitely worth the wait. No?