Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Parents are here ! *YOLO mode starts*

Even though I am away from my home country, my parents never let me feel the distance. They've visited me every single year I've been here. I don’t know many parents who do that, and therefore I am so blessed. Big bear hugs,  Mom’s cakes,  gifts,  lots of love and pampering to name a few. I cannot say this enough but I consider myself blessed only because I have the best parents ever.

Papa and Mummy came on Onam day. Papa was here till last weekend and Mummy will be here for a few weeks. I cannot begin to explain how it feels when she is here. When I come home in the evening, she opens the door with a welcoming smile, tells me to sit down and asks me what I want to eat. And this is what I call luxury. I relish it each day like there is no tomorrow. Emotional therapy , to say the least.

When they read this, they will realize that I am the worst hypocrite ever because all I do is take them for granted and sometimes even start silly arguments.

My driving lessons are going on during office lunch breaks. Yesterday I passed the signal test, which is one rung up the endless ladder of hurdles one must overcome to get a license. Well everyone passes this test so it is no big deal. After the one hour drive and repeated verbal warnings from my exasperated trainer I walked home exhausted, as if I burnt calories just by listening to him. If anything really burnt it should be my trainer’s brain. 

Meanwhile my toddler is having a whale of a time with his new defense lawyer, my mother. Any discipline that may have existed prior to her arrival, like dinner time, ipad time etc. has flown out of the window. I stopped yelling because he does not care anymore and pretends like he has Spiderman to back him. It is now his kingdom, his rules and I am treated like a tenant who does not pay rent. Well, I am in no mood for discipline either. Who needs discipline when Mom is here :D That sounds ironic, as my Mom was a chronic disciplinarian when we were younger. 
She is a whole new person after the birth of our son. She will let him punch her, or draw all over her face. She lets him hang upside down from the edge of the sofa and feed him dinner at the same time. Back in our times, we were taught to sit at the table, upright at ninety degrees, eat quietly without wasting even a morsel of food, wash our own plates and go to bed!

However I secretly love this grandma-grandson bonding. It helps me remain sane and enjoy some TV. Now tell me which mother does not want that?

So it’s a YOLO time for all of us right now. We have embraced the You-Only-Live-Once concept with all our hearts and are therefore eating cake with all our might.  We have also given discipline and social niceties a break. We don’t share Mom’s cakes or food in general. We have let our hair down badly enough to scare you. 

You don’t want to visit us for the time being, do you? :D  

Sunday, August 31, 2014

What 'Driver's License' Actually Means in India.

Unlike Muscat, there are lot of options for public transport in India, like if I want to eat Porotta and Beef fry I just have to get out of the house in my pajamas and yell at the rickshaw guy ‘ Chetta…Buhari vare ponam*’ [ *Brother I want to go to Buhari']. Or I can choose to just drive to Buhari- unfortunately they don’t have parking area but who cares we just park in the middle of the road. Because hunger cannot wait – everything else can, or should. I can also drive blindfolded here if I wanted to as there are no rules…in fact most people drive like they are blindfolded. Well Trivandrum is bliss in that way. Unlike some places up north where cows block ambulances on the road, and the dying person decides to consider it a divine intervention, in Trivandrum, dogs and cats rule the road, only in human form.

Getting a driver’s license is far simpler than eating Porotta and Beef fry. Some people just bribe the driving instructor and he will make sure that you, your mother, grandmother and paternal uncle gets license and start abusing the road, pedestrians and stray animals starting early hours of the very next morning. Only criteria being everyone in the above list should be alive. In some cases the driving instructor may actually insist that you turn up for the test. What a bummer! You still get the license. As a result every Jijo, Joji and Jojo gets a car (there is no dearth of car loans, you just have to prove that you are the owner of that coconut tree in your rented house premise) and start what they call ‘driving’.

This includes pretending that signals don’t exist, driving into a main road from a by lane at full speed without looking either way, honking without any reason every five seconds especially near schools and hospitals, showing the finger when someone refuses to be overtaken, driving across zebra lines at fifth gear as if it was a sign that angry zebras are chasing, not budging when there is an ambulance behind, continuously honking behind buses when passengers are boarding, honking like there is no tomorrow when old people cross the road, going out of the way to run over cats and dogs on purpose, run over sleeping people on the sidewalks, overtake on a single lane road because a lower end version of the same car was going ahead, use all kind of expletives if someone else does any of these and so on. Sadly Jijo, Joji and Jojo thought that this is how one can become cool overnight.

 However my driving instructor in Trivandrum was not the easy going types. Once he crushed my tiny feet with his gigantic sandals because I mistook the fifth gear for third! My foot was swollen for three days. It also did not qualify for ‘accident leave’ at office.

However my parents were not one of those ‘bribe-your-teacher-buy-your-license-fool-the-system’ types. Especially because this guy taught my mother and sister, he definitely had an idea about the average family intelligence. So I went many weeks for driving sessions, in the super-hot sun sacrificing all the weekend TV movies.

On the test day, after my turn the policeman asked me ‘So, you came to get a license?’ with a Shakti Kapoor smile.  And I was like ‘No Sir, I usually come to the Traffic Police grounds 35 km away from my house at 12 noon to buy donuts’ but I just smiled. I got the license.

If you thought that rocket science was the pinnacle of intellect that was humanly possible, it is time to rethink. There is something else that can actually come close to it, which is getting a driver’s license in Oman.

Because in Oman, they actually have rules.

And you need eyes on the back and sides.

To be continued.

Images Courtesy:Google Images.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Who are you to judge?

I was once asked, ‘Why can’t you be like her’?
And I could never get myself to like that person I was compared with.

Enmity and unhealthy rivalry among children mostly roots from the attitude of their parents. Some parents are judgmental or hypocrites of the highest degree…and these people are as harmful as drugs are to our society.

Contrary to popular ideas that all kids want only one thing – the TV remote, there are some kids that beg to differ. They prefer sports or toys instead. That everyone should behave in a way that is set by someone's 'perfect' child is an expectation that can be true for dogs and cats, not people. Some kids can talk very well at two. Some do not talk until they are six. This does not say anything about a child’s IQ or any other factor but it says a lot about the person who is making these comparisons. These are pointers to the fact that each and every kid is different, and whichever pace they grasp and perform, they will be fine. They will all turn out to be just fine. Just leave them alone.

My sister and I were often compared to a certain someone at church. This girl, let’s call her Alpha, was very famous in the church and the neighborhood for scoring consecutive A plus grades for mathematics in school.  And mathematics was supposed to be the subject in which the mark you score decides your destiny. Your emotional fate, which means if you don’t want to be discussed among nosy aunties in high pitched voices with frowning eyebrows then you should score well in Math. Mathematics is basically an aptitude subject. There are kids that find it easy, others who find it okay, some others that struggle. And I fell in the last category. I couldn't possibly get myself do math.

I was in hell. This was not because Alpha or her marks existed. But because Alpha’s parents decided to show off. Because they decided to scream from their rooftops that their daughter was superior in some way. And this marked our eternal grudge to Alpha and opened the way to complexes that ruined our self-worth.

However I grew older and there was role reversal. Now I have to listen to others compare their kids with mine. That my son does not speak as fluently (fluency is defined as the rate at which pathetic characters in cheap TV soaps deliver their dialogues which was obviously scripted by some moron over copious amounts of liquor), or that he is not tall enough for a three year old are things that bother other people! How tall should a three year old be? God!

This concern roots from desperation of people to establish that they have the perfect kid. The secret pleasure they get from this is directly proportional to the level of hypocrisy . It is likely that their perfect kid has inherited it too, who knows ! Kids know people, their intentions and how genuine they are. And I know that my son will grow up to never be best friends with the ‘perfect’ kids and their supremely divine parents. I will not stop him, as I know from my experience that it is not possible to be friends with the person you are compared with. The moment you compare, you are humiliating the child that will crush his self-respect in ways we cannot think of.

My basic question is this. Who else, besides parents, should be concerned about the child? Who? What does it take to leave the children alone?

On mornings when I drop my son at his nursery I watch all the parents. Some of them hug their kids and say ‘Take care..! See you soon’! And blow kisses. Others just say ‘Bye’ and go back to their vehicles in a hurry. Some others just leave them near the teacher and leave. Do you think the one that blew kisses loves her kid more than the one who left without waving bye?

Do you think so?  Who are you to judge?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Messier than Thou ..

Once, I walked into a men’s hostel holding Papa’s hands.

 It was not the hostel of the college I graduated from.  It was a warm Saturday morning and Papa decided to walk into the men’s hostel in Trivandrum, my hometown, to meet the warden for some reason. I also went with him, as it was too hot to wait in the car. Not that I had any interest to go inside ;-)

As it was weekend the boys had gone home, just a couple of them were walking around shirtless and clueless. I was amused, by the shock they got when they saw me.  We stood inside for like sixty to eighty seconds, during which the guys were doing the ‘Hangover’ act trying to recollect what happened to them the night before. Beyond that many seconds, anyone with normally functioning nostrils cannot survive in that building. Magazines strewn about, shirts hung randomly without clips, and that strong weird smell. The smell of a thousand cigarettes, stale food and dirty socks.

We came outside with the warden and they continued talking, while I stood beside Papa mourning my dying sense of smell. Then a guy came outside, dressed in a crisp shirt and jeans, shoes polished to perfection. He wore sunglasses that looked branded, hair wet from styling gel. As he walked past, I knew he wore some expensive perfume.

How can a person emerge out of that foul-smelling germ-infested building looking like he came right out of the Cinthol ad? Like hooooowww?

Let’s cut some slack here, it’s not just the men’s hostel. There are highly educated people whose homes look like the entire city’s garbage exploded inside it. You wouldn't believe the sartorial brilliance they impress us with post emerging from that trash can. Whatever happened to good hygiene and housekeeping?

Basically my Mom had an acute OCD condition. She couldn't stand even a microscopic speck of dust inside the house. She used to go to her Mom’s place, which also had pets gallivanting indoors, and start cleaning.
A real life Monica Geller. But when we were younger, everyone we knew had well-kept houses, I remember. Even if I walked in to my friend’s place unannounced it still looked tidy. Her room may not be the best example for it but teenagers are excused. We had a lot going on in our lives and had to please a lot of undeserving people, so tidying up the room was the last thing on our minds. As we grew older and had to marry, life got so boring that we thought we may as well tidy up.

Life in a hostel gave me a realistic peek into the upbringing of people in a bigger picture. Till then I had shared my room with my sister who too had an OCD, I was generally messier than my family but when I went to the hostel I realized my self-worth. There were girls who left cooked Maggie noodles in their rooms during semester holidays, and returned to a room of worms. There were others who dint mind sleeping with detergent powder, cloth hangers, books, shoes, water bottles, plates, plastic containers on the same bed. And there were others whose rooms looked like seven star hotels.  There were rooms that smelled so good and stuff kept so neatly even though none expected any guests in their rooms. The super clean rooms did impress me, but God I could not believe that people can be so lazy that they choose to sleep with a thousand random things on their beds instead of clearing them! In comparison my room looked like one straight out of a Karan Johar movie. And my parents thought that I was the laziest and messiest one!  

Parents were not allowed inside the hostel so there was no way to prove otherwise. Sigh. 

When I graduated college and started working in software companies there were colleagues alongside who coughed nonstop and others with conjunctivitis in closed cubicles  striving to meet deadlines that were more important than life. I graduated from messy, unhygienic surroundings to a whole new level of contagious diseases.

Now where do I start? 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

When Goddess Fortuna smiled at me.

Once upon a time there was a lucky draw. There were four prizes. Five people participated. The one who dint get a prize was me.

That pretty much sums up how lucky I am when it comes to lucky draws and spot contests.  Well I am not complaining, but this long episode of losing out on prizes (otherwise called LIFE) has made me accept the reality, which is - Baby, just play the contest and go home. Don’t wait for the results. So you learn from me how to have fun without being rewarded for it!

On another note, it is a sweaty summer here and Sun God is the harshest in the Middle East.  Plus, there are a lot of mundane things going on right now. Mummy is attending cake icing classes, sister buying a new car, my son was bitten by his best friend because he beat him first, husband needs to get a tooth extracted, I am working like a donkey in office and no one seems to notice etc. Among these the topic I chose to write today is of course about the tooth extraction. Nothing else is even remotely interesting you see.

Basically there is not one tooth in my mouth which is untouched by a dentist’s magic wand. I am therefore so proud of my pearly whites that I am considering including that on my resume. So whenever that dreaded dentist appointment is due, my husband reminds me of how his every single tooth is like a storehouse of calcium surrounded by the most perfect gums. And how it has been the same for all his ancestors dating back to Adam and Eve. I did not curse him. I just thought - Good for him, I am on that soft, perfectly inclined dentist chair it is almost like a teeth spa – if there is one. Meanwhile he runs after my toddler with all that perfectly crafted set of teeth and gums.

However, his teeth had other plans. So last week, one of the backbencher teeth started showing its true colors. And there was slight pain, but it turns out that he (and probably all the ancestors) are terrified of dentists. So visiting a dentist needed some pushing, topped with recitation of some comments he made at me when I was going through a similar situation.

Moral of the story is, even if you don’t win lucky draws, life gives you other precious moments, during which you will consider yourself lucky (even if it is at the cost of someone's tooth ache :D )

And now to everyone who liked the Facebook page for the photo contest my son participated in- the good news is, WE WON THE FIRST PRIZE- A NIKON POINT AND SHOOT CAMERA !!! How cool is that !!??? Thank you , thank you, everyone who liked the image and helped us win !

And secondly, on the very same day, I won a giveaway on the Red Handed blog. (We all know Red Handed . The single most entertaining and fearless blogger around). The widget which chose the winners chose ME !  I was so pleasantly surprised and am so glad that finally the widgets are smiling at me (they used to hate me for no reason) I won Batman shoes designed by the innovative designer, Khushboo Rehani (SoleArt).

But with all that happening on the same day, I am kind of worried about my teeth.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Vote for Aaron Sandeep !

Facebook 'like' buttons are the easiest way to show your love and it is also the measuring unit of social acceptance. I totally disagree with this concept, as I can remember the birthdays of people dear to me without Facebook reminding about it and mobile phone numbers of my loved ones without missing a digit. Well, as long as I don’t suffer from amnesia I can right? And I should! Why would we depend on our gadgets to remind us of our parents wedding anniversary? That’s blasphemy!

And we know how parents of kids and toddlers flood our facebook timelines with pictures of their kids asking for ‘likes’ and how annoying that is. However competitions are held that way and it is not like we like to beg! And we honestly do not like sharing our baby’s pics just to show them off.

I always appreciated efforts and ‘like’d the pictures people asked me to, because it dint hurt me. And photo contests that are held on Facebook are judged by the number of likes and not the quality or creativity of the photo. The agenda is basically marketing, and we all know it. However, it is fun to participate because we are anyway social animals and cannot shy away from any contests questioning its legitimacy.

So here I am, requesting each one of you, to please go to the below link and click ‘Like’ on the picture of AARON SANDEEP you see there. It is a photo contest based on FIFA World Cup.

Singers are judged by the number of sms they get, photos are judged by the number of likes it gets. There is no room for talent; it is only the popularity that counts. It is not quality but quantity that matters on the web. I am not a fan of this particular competition myself, but two things: this is a competition held by my office, and secondly my husband being a popular photography enthusiast participated because it had the words ‘Photo contest’ in it.

So please shower some blogger love, go to the link and ‘LIKE’ Aaron Sandeep. It doesn't take even a minute!

Thank you so much in advance, I love you guys.

Image Courtesy: Google Images.