Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

And today we did something brave

I have never been a very confident driver.

I have no problem transporting myself short distances, of course - but driving with the kids is another matter altogether.

When our driver said he needed three weeks leave, despite the fact that my initial instinct was to tackle him around the waist pleading 'noooo....don't go....', I figured the more graceful thing to do would be to just give him the leave - after all, in about four years, he's never let us down - so his longish annual holidays are something I never argue against. So he's gone, till December 1.

Last week being Diwali break, it was okay,because the kids didn't need to be sent to to school, and I used the metro to go and visit my grandma in Noida. But this week and the next, it was necessary to figure out something. I figured out something. I got the school car from the playschool to pick them up and drop them yesterday.

And they were miserable.

My scared little toddlers left, screaming and frantically waving in the arms of the school didi in an unfamiliar car, obviously not sure where they were being taken. They were cranky in school, and cranky when coming back. Vijay is out of town this whole week, and I was very reluctant to drive them myself, given the bad traffic at about 9 a.m. But given how they were yesterday, and their fearful reaction about being sent off again today in the same manner, caused me to take in a deep breath and agree to drive them myself.

So far so good. I dropped them a little early, and only one turning had everyone in the car tense - the twins, sitting in the laps of the maids in the back, also seemed to sense that this was a dangerous situation and quieted down, pausing their various questions for that couple of minutes. ( Yeh humka gaadi hai na? Yeh mama ka gaadi hai na?). But eventually we made it safe and sound - in a couple of hours, I have to go back and pick them up again - and then, three more days of doing this. Vijay promises that next week, he'll handle the driving.

It's all rather nerve wracking, but then again, it's just so much nicer to see my twins all happy and tickled about going to school, rather than feeling miserable and scared. So it's worth it. Once again, I thank my lucky stars about Vijay teaching me to drive, several years back.

On that note, here's an extract from the chapter  ''Driving Miss Crazy'' from my book Just Married, Please Excuse - that describes how it happened. Enjoy. While I work up the nerves to pick up my little boys again.

Eventually, I managed to get the car going again and powered by a series of small jerks, we moved towards the main road.

‘I’m driving!’ I said with glee.

Vijay was all business. ‘Look at the road.’

I snapped back to attention.

When we reached the main road, I stopped.

‘What are you doing?’ he asked. ‘The road is all clear.’

‘I’m not going out there,’ I cried. ‘There’s traffic on this road.’

‘Honey, the only way you’ll get comfortable driving is by getting used to traffic. Come on, take a right turn here, let’s go to Indira Nagar.’

Muttering that he would regret this, I did what he said.We somehow managed to make it to the intersection just before Indira Nagar when suddenly the memory of failing to take the turn at the intersection during my driving lessons hit me, just like a flashback from a Hindi movie. I broke into
a cold sweat and prayed fervently that I would not stall the car. Anything but stalling the car.

I stalled the car.

Within five seconds, what felt like all the vehicles in Bangalore were bearing down on us, honking angrily. I was glued to my seat, looking around dumbly, unable to move. Vijay was saying something in an urgent tone to me, but I couldn’t hear him. The icing on my panic attack was the fact that an angry traffi c cop was now approaching. Before he could start shouting at me, Vijay opened his door and stood up with one foot still inside the car, explaining to him that I was just learning. The traffic cop said that I should go and learn somewhere else and Vijay said we were just going.

I regained my senses and started the car and eased it forward smoothly. The little detail that I did not take into account was that my husband was still in conversation with the angry cop,and half of him – head, shoulders and one leg – were still outside the car. He was hanging on to the car door for dear life as he found himself suddenly being dragged along the road in this awkward position. I only braked when I became aware of his panicked screams. I looked at his face as he bent down to glare at me, his expression shocked and disbelieving. I gathered he would live and tried to make up for my little boo-boo by giving him a winning smile. It didn’t work.

‘Move over,’ he barked at me. ‘I’m going to drive.’ He detached himself from the car door. Something seemed to occur to him and he hissed at me, ‘Do not drive over me. Touch nothing.’

Just to be safe, he circled over to my side from the rear of the car. I dully moved over to the passenger side. The cacophony of honks and angry shouts outside had reached near-deafening levels, but I was now only aware of the fact that I had nearly killed my husband. Completely unintentionally.

And so soon after marriage, too.

Femina, Anniversary Issue, Nov 12

An article by me on ''the advantages of a long courtship''. The one I never had. It's titled 'Let's Take it Slow, Tiger', on page 268.
Had a lot of help writing this one from my sister, friends, and the very nice people who participated in my book contest. Thank you all!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Re-aligning - the Sabbatical

Okay, so now I have just a couple of months left before I intend to take on some form of work project. Which means I really need to figure out where my time is going to go for the remaining short while of my very precious sabbatical. And this week has been instrumental in many ways.

* To start with, I've had a tough time earlier this week with a personal issue; but it's taught me a lot about what - and who- is really important in my life. I'm amazed *again* about how things that seem really harsh end up being the best things that could possibly happen to you. In any case, I've got a lot more clarity on my priorities. And as Ms. Wannabe Superwoman Par Supreme, that's exactly what I needed.

*I met my wonderful Chief Editor yesterday for a long-overdue coffee - and we talked about my second book. Her insight and 'gentle' sharpness always takes me by surprise - and she's one of the primary reasons I love working with HarperCollins.
So she really likes the book - says the writing looks effortless and has gone up a few notches ( although it was more difficult for me to write this, for sure). This one is not the sequel to Just Married, Please Excuse - it's my first shot at real fiction - and that too with a male character as the main protagonist - and she had some really great comments about it. My sister is the only person apart from her who'd read the first draft, so with her inputs, I sent her a much cleaner version - it still needs work, but as she puts it ''the majority of it is in place'' - having said that, the bits that she has pointed out are crucial loopholes in the story. So that pretty much gives me my focus project for the next couple of months.

In short:
* I'm putting work on ''Still Married, Thank You'' on indefinite hold. This was the sequel to JMPE - there's no rush anyway, because my second book is planned for release in 2013 and ''Still Married'' (note - it's a working title, but I think it works) - will come out in 2014  - if I manage to write it next year. And I've decided there's no rush on the writing.
* I've also realized thanks to the last few months that writing is definitely not something I will be devoting my life to - it will be an important activity, but not my full time profession. That clarity is cemented this week.
* I've dropped my guitar classes and Zumba so that makes some more space - so am just spending as much time as possible with my family - especially my grandma and kids over the next few weeks.
* There's of course, the 'Happy School' where I'm teaching spoken english on Saturdays - that's the only outside activity I want to continue. My daughter loves coming with me, and frankly, I can't manage very well without my little teaching assistant who always reminds me which stories and rhymes we did the previous week, and suggests new ones which she has learnt in her own school.

She also seems to be taking the 'teaching' bit to heart and loves tutoring our maid ''helping Didi with her homework'' as she puts it. That's the one thing I am so glad about - I managed to find an angelic lady to give this very bright girl who works in our home lessons in English and Math - something that my maid is totally delighted by and works very hard at. So this is the other thing I've managed to do for my maids, apart from opening another one's bank account. Next project - gas connection for one.

*Also, we're shifting house, and we're moving to the ground floor and I think it's great because it's safer than the third floor for my frisky little boys and plus, now they get to drop all their toys and make a ruckus and no one will get disturbed!
* Finally, I've still got some commitments to do with writing; including mentoring a contest on Indiblogger, and some other things.

So, yes, there's still much to do be done. But I can safely say. It's been more than worth it, this sabbatical thingy.

If for nothing else, then this moment alone.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Letting Go of Some Excess Baggage

So it's strange - I struggled with my weight for the longest time post pregnancy - and while I was doing the Zumba over the last few months, shocked people in the class with the fact that I have three kids - the story the way I liked to tell it was from '85 kgs to 58 kgs'.

Well, I just weighed myself today and found I've lost even more weight - 55.5 kgs. And the funny thing is, I'm not dieting, I've not been dancing for the last few weeks - all I've done is the Surya Namaskar for the last few weeks every morning, and I have to say that it makes you feel fantastic!

Generally speaking, it wasn't a very good weekend due to some personal issues, but I'm feeling so much better today. And suffice it to say that just like with the weight loss - sometimes things just happen after you stop trying so hard. Life is like that, you see.

P.S - one of the nicest things about having kids - even the rare warm embrace with your husband in the supposed privacy of your room tends to quickly turn into a group hug. Go team!

P.P.S - picture of me caught laughing away to glory at My Club Spark Book Reading. And this is how I feel right now.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Review of JMPE by Meenakshi

...She lives in the U.K and got her hands on my book through a friend. Below is the review she's written and emailed me. She's got me thinking about blogging vs book writing, but that's the subject of another post. In the meantime, read this!

Just Married, Please Excuse by Yashodhara Lal: A Review.

The author recounts early days of courtship, subsequent marriage and motherhood.

The Book cover is cleverly designed. It does give an idea of what the book is all about. The happy colour 'yellow' invites you to turn the page. 

Blogger, Yahodhara Lal has published her first book purely for entertainment. Most readers would already know quite a bit about her and the characters in the book. I did expect the book to be a condensed version of her blog but in fact, it is more of an extension of her blog. 
In chronological order we read about the workplace, courtship, marriage and motherhood with all the domestic drama thrown in. As I read on, I could not help grinning in recognition of the some of the incidents. It was easy to draw parallels with my own life. 

Yashodhara has embroidered and embellished the story with wit and humour to keep the characters three dimensional. The relaxed and unpretentious style ensures that the writing does not fall flat. I found that adding words in Hindi was simply charming and effective in adding more authenticity to the dialogues.The best lines are in Hindi....'Kisi billi ne noch noch ke......" and ' Ladne ki kya baat hai...." Thankfully, it isn't one funny scene after another or sunshine all the way. We also read about the angst, standoff and compromise in the relationship. The young couple, Yashodhara and Vijay have terrific chemistry which makes for a funny and heartwarming read.

Vijay, is my favourite character. He has all the desirable attributes of a good partner. He is charming, naive, relaxed and above all compassionate. Florence Nightingale would be so proud of him. His generosity has allowed Yashodhara to modify his character to suit the story. All other characters fit in well with the narration. 

Life is not simple and sometimes a light touch is the order of the day. Many of us are living a version of Yashodhara and Vijay's life but not willing, talented or brave enough to put it on paper.The book stands on it own and can be enjoyed even if you have never read her blog. I simply loved the book. It certainly brightened a wet, cold and gloomy day for me.