Share it with your friends!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

When there is more chaos than Christmas.

It's December…Christmas is here…! And we are going home for the season! Yoohoo!

We booked the tickets two months in advance as season tickets are staggeringly expensive. Well we had been religiously methodical and highly proactive about setting a reminder to be the first ones to book when the online ticket window opened. We are always the people straight out of ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ when it comes to booking tickets to go home. And it goes without saying that we reserve this habit for booking etickets only.

So what really happened was, in the early hours of the first of December, a new project kick started at office. 

The expression when new project was announced 

All of November, I was trying to wind up official stuff and prepare mentally for the forthcoming intellectual freedom. Like someone said Man Proposes, Office Disposes. By the look of some people, wrinkles on their foreheads and the complex(mostly pointless) words written on some documents I realized that it was not going to be a smooth ride to the airport. I am supposed to write and deliver a certain code just before I exit for vacation.

For those lucky people who do not work in software, a new project means this:

1. Somebody’s brain child is converted into a task list with the names of victims (commonly called software engineers) against it. 

2. They seem to have no idea what life was like before it.(I swear we were just fine)
3. It is always on HIGH PRIORITY. There is nothing called a low or medium priority project. 

As far as software projects are concerned, people do not believe in postponing them to start ceremoniously after the New Year.

So here I am, bound in a file, eloquently named ‘Task Assignment’. But my hope is still looking up. Amidst all this, there is Christmas purchase, expenses that came out of nowhere, the tree which had to be decorated, toddler who has to be kept away from the tree and the ceiling fan and geyser pipe which collectively declared strike this week. All year Muscat is warm and when it starts getting cold the geyser screws up. Being a highly effective person does not give me more skin to endure the biting cold so among all this chaos I have to keep up with the maintenance guys whom I suspect to have hibernated for the season.

To complete the mess, the sudden change in climate brought with it all kinds of viruses so I am also coughing and sneezing as I type this. I am pretty sure my keyboard is now the dance floor of the most vivacious germs. It may even turn into breeding ground at night.

I am also gearing up for the major event that is packing for vacation. And this activity is
Image Courtesy: Here
scheduled next week

 In movies, when a guy gets banished from the family, he walks out leaving all his stuff behind taking with him just his ego. However when a girl runs away from home she has her stuff. Some of it are sent through cargo.

But this is strictly restricted to movies, my friends. During packing we realize that a whopping 65% of the space is occupied by the superficially free spirited, supposedly ‘light’ traveler husband with his shoes alone that needs a cargo box. However when I pack few extra earrings the most undeserving one speaks loudest. Have I told you that everyone in my house go completely out of their minds while I pack (which includes THEIR stuff)?

 I need to take a vacation alone just to pack in peace.  

So, how do I pack for my packing vacation?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

End the pretense. Speak up for Cleanliness. (AbMontuBolega)

We must stop saying the clichéd statement that our country is diverse, because there is one thing that keeps us united across the nation. It is the accumulated filth. And some of it dates back to the era we read about in stories and religious books.

The first and foremost step towards a cleaner India, is to make peeing in public punishable. We do not go to the living room corner and pee there because bathroom is ten seconds away, right? Similarly our surroundings are where we spend a majority of the time, so keeping it hygienic is equally important. We need more public toilets, and some discipline too. This is not impossible. Diapers are an option for adult babies who don’t understand discipline.

Secondly, we must learn through practice, to control the overwhelming urge to spit. We have a habit of chewing paan, or gum and dispose it wherever it seems convenient. I have also noticed that Indians produce the maximum saliva in the world and have the compulsive tendency to spit anything that can possibly come out of their mouths wherever they like. It could be a movie poster, a new car, or wherever it lands from the top of a building.

Thirdly, we must accumulate waste and dispose them at the nearest garbage bin. For example a simple road trip can generate garbage like tissue papers, disposable plates and glasses, tea bags, plastic wrappers, biscuit covers and the like. When travelling with babies there will be soiled diapers too. It takes little effort to combine these in a single plastic bag and dispose them at the nearest dustbin. Accumulate waste.Dispose at the right place. I swear this is easier than pulling down the window multiple times only to deposit the waste somewhere it should not be.

Fourthly, we all know our country has the most beautiful tourist locations. I am a normal citizen with a reasonable amount of patriotism and none of my ancestors have fought in the freedom struggle, yet I cry inside when I see some of the finest streams and architectural marvels infested with rodents and insects, because people enjoy throwing leftover food and plastic bags in these places . Of all the places I've visited, India has more pride worthy, breathtaking places (no kidding)  but we don’t flaunt it enough because we all seem to be busy abusing it beyond repair. It is high time we keep our tourist spots clean and help the Government generate more revenue from tourism and stop bothering us.

Fifth and an important step towards our goal is a turnaround in terms of attitude. For example in the Middle Eastern countries, a third of the population are Indians. Believe it or not, here one can see Indians who actually know how to keep the city clean! The metro trains and public spaces are spotlessly maintained, they clean up after picnicking at the parks, follow the 'accumulate and dispose' commandment religiously, and even have their cars cleaned on a daily basis. The same people upon landing in India, throw their boarding passes on the roadside first thing after exiting the airport. They stick their gums at the back of the taxi seats. This is the worst kind of NRI hypocrisy. It should be given a name, considered as a sickness and treated through disciplinary action.

Image Courtesy: Click here

It is our responsibility to keep the surroundings clean. Sadly, ‘they’ (whoever was supposed to come and clean up after us) are NOT coming.  The #AbMontuBolega campaign, initiated by Strepsils is a strong reminder to that. We need to stand up, speak and practice cleanliness. Let’s START!

This post was written to support the Strepsils initiative towards a cleaner India, #AbMontuBolega. You can follow the same on Facebook and Twitter. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Bucket List Status: One down, 728356 to go.

Image Courtesy: Google Images

I have a bucket list which had been conveniently ignored ever since the birth of my son. The procrastinator in me was hoping to hang on to the same when suddenly in the month of September, realization dawned (no, it wasn’t anything I ate, it just happened). What am I doing? At this pace I may just die at some shopping mall and no one will even know I existed. My bucket list had started glaring back at me. I had to take some initiative. The last time I remember taking some initiative was in the labor room. Let’s not go into that now.

In Oman, the entire journey from getting a learner’s book to the license is like a monkey maze with snakes and ladders in between. Before you get any ideas that this is anything close to interesting, let me remind you that the ladders are lined with fire and the snakes are King Cobras. I got the learner’s book after the eye test and signal test, which is a baby step towards the goal. And baby steps don’t count for adults.

Soon I found a trainer near the place where I stay, and when I went on my first driving session with him, he made me feel so nostalgic, I couldn’t believe my ears. He sounded exactly like my parents when I was 17 and they were pushing me to clear the entrance examination. Sweet! I knew I was in for a rough ride. But there was no looking back.
Image Courtesy: Google Images.

I got the license yesterday, so I want to share with you the invaluable gems of wisdom I happened to get in the process.

1. Do not mess with the driving instructor. If they don’t press their side of the brakes, you are dead.

2. Time is everything, so is timing. Never make the instructor wait for you.

3. The instructor will talk. You will listen. That is how it works.

4. You must be a veteran in the art of how not to convert your thoughts into words.

5. The argument that you have only one pair of eyes will stay in your head. Forever.

6. Traffic signals can’t see you. They don’t get it when you are giving it a deadly stare.

7. No matter how long you've been driving, you just cannot spare a moment to check your hair in the rear view mirror. You may have done your hair and make up in India when cows in slow motion where crossing the road, but that simply does not apply here.

8. If your instructor is checking Facebook or WhatsApp chats on his phone while you drive, it does not mean that he trusts you. Remember, his foot is firm on the brakes.

9. Silence is golden. Always scream internally.

10. Always say ‘Sir’ at the end of every sentence spoken to the instructor. It goes a long way.

11. If he says you touched the white line, you probably did. Always agree with him.

12. When he is mad at you, shut down your mind and keep driving. Do not restart it.

13. Even if your enemy is trying to cross the road, let him. Chill, you will get      better opportunities.

14. Parking between the lines is not as easy as reading between the lines.

15. You are allowed to swell with pride when you get that parking right between the cars. Unfortunately nobody appreciates good parking and you don’t get any brownie points. Life is a bitch.

16. Do not check your eyebrows while waiting at a signal. Traffic signals are evil they sense it and suddenly turn green.

17. ‘Orange’, ‘Amber’ and ‘Yellow’ are the same when it comes to traffic signals. It means DANGER.

18. Do not stop or reduce speed for the pigeons. Their lives are suspense thrillers. Yours is not.

19. When you drive, anything he eats sitting next to you may smell tempting. Do not look. Try not to think about it. Never drool.

20. When he is drinking hot coffee, continue driving normally. We are not authorized to change anybody’s destiny. If anything untoward happens, refer points 3 and 9.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The shopping trip I almost survived.

For the past week, every time I open a document to write something,  I have been mysteriously disturbed by more important things. Last time I remember, it was hunger. Basically, I did not do justice to my blog in the month of October. I do not call this a writer’s block, as it is applicable only to writers. A more plausible term would be laziness.

Image Courtesy: Google Images
My husband and I work at the same office, and obviously stay in the same house so the only time we take time off each other is while shopping. Aaron, my son, usually chooses to hang out with me because I carry around a mini living room  which contains everything he needs except a TV and sound system – namely water, biscuits, wipes, extra clothes, shoes, sanitizer, napkins, coconut oil, tiny toys (just in case the patience limit is exceeded) the list is never ending. Whereas, whenever he hung out with his Dad, he returned like he came from battle ground. I take him shopping and keep the conversations going…’Aaron did you like this dress?’ Without a pause I involve him in whatever I check out at the mall, because non involvement makes kids extremely bored, frustrated and unwanted. This causes screaming, hunger, loo visits that are not genuine, thirst, "I miss Appaaaa" and other unexplained catastrophes that I am forced to dump the shopping bag and make an exit as fast as possible. And leaving the shopping bag at the shop without billing it is not easy. It contains carefully selected stuff and things I may not want other 'lovely ladies' at the mall to have. Well one thing they don’t tell you about motherhood is about having to let go of shopping bags that will never make it to the billing counter.  

So, yesterday he had an extra class at school. Yes my son who is in nursery had extra class for his upcoming dance concert. In my school days, the first time we ever came across anything that involved waking up early on a weekend was in the tenth grade. Even then it was ridiculous enough. After his ‘extra class’ we went to the mall, because it was November 1st and salary was credited into the account, which was a feeling of fresh rain on a dry, parched land. As usual, my conversation with the little one started, keeping him cheerful and engaged. I also chose a nice hat for him to keep his spirits high. I showered him with compliments too, which made him feel really good. He was hopping around with me, and even offered to carry the shopping bag – well it was more dragging than carrying.

I reached the cosmetics section and was checking out some nail polishes, and I asked Aaron to see if there was something he liked. The section was handled by a sweet lady with very small eyes and heavy makeup. She was like the poster girl for the makeup section and looked like she wore every possible makeup that was available. After a few seconds I realized that Aaron had been silent for a while. I turned around to check on Aaron and he was staring at this lady, while she was trying her best to ignore him. I interrupted him and said  ‘Aaron come here…see this?’ and he came to me saying in his broken English ‘ Amma…look’ and pointing directly at this woman’s face who was standing right behind me, he blurted out  ‘CARTOON’.

I had lost my will to shop. I held Aaron’s hand, and left that section in a hurry frantically searching for any scarf that I can get to cover my face. I did not give a second look at this lady who must have been mortified. If someone said that to my face I’d be really insulted and wouldn't feel any better just because it came from a toddler or a talking parrot. I did not apologize and make it bigger for the same reason. And I fled like there was fire. Later while I waited outside with Aaron I explained that it was bad manners to point at people. He nodded, but I wouldn't expect a three year old to understand social code of conduct. In fact he was checking out his forefinger to see if something was wrong, because I told him not to point :-/ 

That was another weekend of my volatile shopping trip with little Aaron. Like every other day, I ended up buying more stuff for him than for myself. Sigh.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sshh..! Dont tell anyone !

Courtesy:Google Images.
When someone says ‘Hey don’t tell this to anyone’, in my head it sounds like ‘Hey I have planted a bomb under this building’.  Most people try to sound scary when they trust another person with their secret. And this secret is relevant only to them, so they could actually save the drama part. 

To be honest, keeping someone’s secret was a big deal in my school and college days. Like in school the biggest secret used to be :

 ‘Did you know why Sweta teacher dint come yesterday? She is pregnant!!’

 ‘What!!! :-o’

‘Can you believe it? Pregnant!!Now don’t tell anyone ’

 The fact that I dint care one bit about her pregnancy as long as we got a free hour was something my friends probably dint get. That Sweta teacher is a happily married woman and is pregnant with her second child and in a few weeks her bump is definitely going to show is a fact that did not deter the person breaking the news sound any less dramatic.

Then was college and secrets got spicy and scandalous like ‘Do you know that Ashok is two timing her? Don’t tell anyone’ or ‘That guy cheated in University Exam.. He actually told me not to tell anyone…but you don’t tell anyone okay?’. Well some secrets stayed, I forgot others, and when that person comes later and tells me the continuation of the earlier secret I get completely lost, but still manage to pretend rather convincingly. I was no exception I told some secrets too which some friends dint think qualified enough to be a ‘secret’ so they laughed over it at the bakery.

Well after that there was a long hiatus to secrecy in general. I was job hunting . During that time the only secret about me was that I was jobless and this secret was not kept by anyone. And the only secret I had was that I was cursing anyone who set their nosey business in my life and had the guts to ask’ Did you find a job YET ?’.

Well later came love and then marriage and then there were no secrets. We had a lot of friends who were couples and we hung out, and in a couple years there was such a dearth of secrets that I forgot the entire concept of secrecy altogether. This is what marriage does to you. Single friends don’t share anything anymore, because couples discuss everything, including that of the single friend. So basically I dint know anything about anyone anymore. I came to know that some erstwhile close friends were ‘In a relationship’ or ‘married’ or ‘blessed with a baby’ from Facebook.

But now there seems to be a whole new level of secrets. Like in my building a kid fell down and hurt her elbow, and her parents were keeping the matter top secret. However the child fell down in a public place and everyone knew it but no one was allowed to probe further into the updates of the incident. However being a working woman I am completely unaware of the secrets in my building and went ahead and asked that lady:

‘How’s your daughter?’ 
And she was like ‘Why?’
 I went on to ask…’She fell down or something na?’
She: ‘How did you know?’

Well ‘She is fine’ would have been a perfect answer to my first question, but the lady was hell bent to know who told me. My eyes told me…my eyes!! I saw her when she fell! And are kids not supposed to fall down? I really din’t know this …I fell down like thousands of times in my childhood and even have three stitches at the back of my head which the entire district of Trivandrum knows about. And now you know it too.

Other highly guarded examples of secrets are ‘Have you seen Deepika’s daughter? She was adopted…Shh don’t tell a single soul’ ‘or ‘Did you know Mahesh’s son was so ill he dint attend fourth grade exams? He may have to lose a year…Shh don’t ask them directly’ (This does not mean you can ask them indirectly). But when Deepika’s daughter becomes a topper or Mahesh’s son grows up to crack the IIT - THAT actually is a well-kept secret. Nobody wants to spread that news. And that my friend, is what secrecy is all about.

And then there are others who are extremely secretive about random personal things. Take for example a person who was disturbed about the strange disease her cat suffered from, and then pleaded me not to tell anyone. I was faced with two main dilemmas: 1. Does she think that I may spill this secret to other cats, which in turn will make her cat socially unacceptable?
2. Suppose I tell this to people…how do I start? ‘Listen I have a horrible secret to tell…my (unnamed) friend’s cat…’ does this sound like something anyone will be interested to know? Well I still keep the secret. Oh who am I kidding? It completely exited through my other ear.

Courtesy:Google Images

Well there are real secrets too. The family secrets, and more importantly stuff people share with me because they want to be heard. Like any other secret, these too stay and may be forgotten in the long run, but never does it reach another ear, because I consider it my own. 

But in the society we live in, everything is a secret and everyone thinks their lives are suspense thrillers. Like some people lie that they have two more years in Govt. service, but we know that they retired four years ago. Others fake their age even with their best friends. Others don’t divulge any details about their kids who went to study abroad. And among these secrets blooms fake friendship, something that is like a plague in our generation. 

Oh and by the way, that cat died. 

Dont tell her I told you. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A testimonial to Orkut.

Despite having received many requests to divulge my love story, I dint oblige as I have no mushy, tear-jerking, heartwarming story that can make anyone go ‘Awww’.  It does not have any typical cliches or thrilling twists that can make it worth a read forget interesting. To top it all, our parents did not make a hue and cry when we decided to get married, and that was the last nail on the scope for telling my story. Had they rejected my wish to marry him, I could’ve portrayed them as villains and blissfully get my character some sympathy and support. Oh well, the guy turned out to have a nice sense of humor, so life with him is not as boring as our jab-we-met version would have turned out.

We knew each other since day one of joining the same organization as trainees. Orkut was the Facebook of those times. Not having an account on Orkut was totally uncool. People started going places and buying stuff just to show off on Orkut, exactly like how it is now. Phones with 2 Megapixel cameras, polyphonic ringtones…mobile companies were bombarding the market and our minds. Nokia 3310 and Sony Walkman were dying a slow death. The only thing that remained the same was our stipend. Sigh. Scraps, testimonials, profile visitors…it was a happening time of our lives.

Soon we were friends, and added each other on Orkut, which is like a conservative form of live-in of those times: D From mere friends to Orkut buddies! You know what that means? It means he can see my photos! MY PHOTOS! :D

Many friends wrote me testimonials even without me having to buy them treats. And that really meant a lot to me. So one day I asked him to write me a testimonial, which looked like this.

Orkut used to have a wider page, and it actually fit what he actually meant by that . It reads ‘Princess’. On further interrogation it was revealed that he copied it from some other profile. (I told you, he is not the sky writer or Archies greeting card types). Copied or not, I got a testimonial! Yay! Fine by me! Thus started a full-fledged exchange of scraps, sms jokes, riddles and chain mails.

Orkut continued in the background, when we got married on Facebook and brutally ditched it. We moved on, forgetting conveniently that which brought us closer. Having experienced both Orkut and Facebook, Orkut always felt like an authentic coffee place, sepia dipped in memories, nostalgic and calm with the sound of sea in the background. Facebook is noisy, high profile and the place one saves the orange lipstick for.

It is time to say Goodbye to our first (virtual) hangout, the only remembrance of the unromantic, uncreative, blatantly copied ‘Princess’ testimonial. It was my only chance of showing my Dad-worshiper son that his Dad did not write me a testimonial, and when I asked him one he copied it! Now how will I start to explain to him what ‘testimonial’ means?

Goodbye, Orkut. I can’t forget you. Or the fact that you stole my only chance of getting some brownie points from my son.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The art of customization...(for dummies)

Like everyone else, I too spent my childhood and youth walking the corridors of school and college, racking my brains and waiting for results. I have never seen my name on top of any list (unless it was a list of latecomers or such).

I was not a topper in academics, sports, music, recitation or dance. I was not a favorite student of any teacher in all my life. I did not score well in the entrance examinations, my Kerala Engineering Entrance rank could easily be mistaken for a phone number, majority of my Engineering college batch mates don’t know me by name. I am the kind of person no one took seriously, and I have never given a reason for my parents to be immensely proud or disappointed. But here I am. For the record, I’m doing just fine.

These days, all parents think their kids are special (back in our times this was not the case). This applies to me too. But recently I came to know the weirdest things some parents do, to let others know that their kid is the unmatched champion in everything that needs skill, expertise and intellect, even the Lemon and Spoon race which they think is an item at the Olympics.

There is a monthly local magazine in my hometown; I admit it is the most boring magazine in the history of the written word. It is the size of a tinkle digest and consists of roughly 25 pages including both sides. This is one of those things that continued to reach my home, and just like phone or electricity bills, it came every month whether we liked it or not.

So subscribers thought why not spice up our magazine and make it interesting. After all roughly two thousand people read it – precisely, less than ten people read it, others use it as a fan during power cut or as a mat to place hot vessels on the table. So the breakthrough idea was to put up scan copy of their kids’ pre KG report card, 1st grade report card, certificate for group singing competition or another for excelling on sports day etc.

Image courtesy: Google images

It just leaves people like me lose the will to live.

And the best part. Below the scan copy of the report card, the names of both parents are written in bold. What goes through the minds of these parents? It could be either of these:

1.      Step one of a matrimonial profile, just insanely early.
2.      I was a loser; I want to tell everyone my kid is an Isaac Newton in the making.
3.      I intend to donate sperm, so this is proof for the rate I will charge for the same.
4.      I am encouraging him so he does well in the Entrance examination.
5.      I want to see my name in print, any publicity is good publicity.

There is no hard and fast rule to decide what to publish. The key is to know who should see it, and who will appreciate honestly your invitation to his themed fourth birthday party.  Mark Zuckerberg helps you do this by giving you an option to create a ‘Custom List’ on Facebook. Make your own custom list, Facebook or not.

Because you already know, that those odd 761 people don’t give a damn, but those who matter really do. 

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.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

When the help makes you helpless..!

 Most of us had or still have a helper at home who stayed with us long years like a part of the family. There were loyal, trustworthy and above all, genuine. They never demanded anything, but we gave them because we wanted to. However, things are not the same now. A huge percentage of domestic helps are annoying, dishonest and even immoral. It becomes impossible to tolerate some of them.

Recently I had this hilarious chat with my friends on whatsapp and it opened a dam of stories from them, who are settled in various continents. Here comes!

The Jewel Thief: These are usually women who talk and act like your own mother and gain all your trust. They talk about life, wisdom and loyalty. They also compliment you like no one has ever done before. They get the affection of your children and she kisses them like their grandparents would. She tells you how to talk to your husband (that is in a low voice with lot of respect, unlike her) and how to sit like a woman. You start to blindly let her clean all rooms without any supervision … and you realize that the gold ring is missing and the kitchen stuff start disappearing at a suspicious pace.

The Incorrigible Chatter Box: This one is all words. She has solutions to all first world problems. She wanted Sachin to retire. She likes Modi and gives her verdict on the same. All this when it is 7:59 a.m , the school bus is honking outside and breakfast is not ready yet. Her opinions are all over the place. She gives you tips on how to stop hair fall, get a fairer complexion because it is necessary to keep the husband interested, which God to pray to, and how to manage family expenditure. If you have one child she decides when to have another one, and if you have two she convinces you that three children are fun. She also misses few rooms while sweeping because of all this precious advice that is bursting out of her brain is getting in the way. By the time she leaves, you want to rest because so much information was conveyed in such a short time. But she doesn’t let you close the door because she forgot to share some home remedies for dark circles and dandruff. By the time you reach your room you will notice the bills that were on the floor of the room she swept like minutes ago – still there. So is the coffee stain.

The Ooh la la: She is as desperate as desperation can get. Her spiritual leader is Poonam Pandey. This one comes to work with the only intention, which is to gain attention (read: affection) from males in the family. As men usually don’t notice, they get themselves noticed by doing provocative antics. The first step towards achieving this goal is to study the character of the inherent males – father, husband, son age no bar. Once that is done, the next step is to strike conversations with them whenever possible. When the men are not interested in small talk with the house maid, then comes the most extreme step –Oooh la la. Trust me this is a real incident. One of my friends had this Ooh La La help who walked across the hall wearing a white see-through nighty wearing absolutely nothing inside. My friend’s father and husband were sitting there that time.

The Wannabe: This one does not try hard like Ooh lala. She already knows that all the men at the house in question and in that district for that matter had fallen for her charms. She is 54, has daughters and grandchildren, but the charm that keeps following her is like a curse. If the man in the house asks her to bring something because his wife was on a call, she immediately transforms into a teenager who just got asked out by her crush. She would generously give her kidney had he asked for it. One of my friends had once employed this Wannabe.
Wannabe called my friend’s husband and said ‘ Listen Sir, you should not talk to me anymore, chechi is already suspicious about us, I don’t want to be responsible for any fallout between you two…please keep your feelings to yourself’ and cut the call.
 Later the conversation between husband and wife (my friend) went like this:
He: Hey what is this ammachi saying? I just got and call and she said this. I just don’t understand.
She: (Cut the call and laughed her head off and got breathless)
He: (calls again to check) Hello what’s happening with ammachi?
She: I don’t know but nice choice!

The Oblivious Dreamer: An entire family depends on this person. But the Dreamer just doesn’t care. Dreamers are always late for work and mostly untidy too. Disheveled hair, unwashed face and a disgusting bad breath are her key identifications. Dreamers can make fake excuses sound believable and even after arrival they are freakishly dreamy. Punctuality is a joke to them. They do not understand time. They could take twenty minutes to make tea, and they teach us that slow motion does not exist just in Bollywood.

The Miss. Sensitive Skin: This one pretends to be a former Miss World. She wears colorful flip flops, but asks to change into another pair of slippers which we should provide because her feet are too tender to touch the floor. Glass slippers may be acceptable. She also needs a pair of gloves to wash dishes, another for mopping. Once these are done she needs a moisturizer to keep her hands from drying out. It should be Dove moisturizer, as other brands may irritate her skin. She uses only Pears soap and Dove shampoo (the one for sensitive hair) and her kitchen hand-wash must be Palmolive. Miss Sensitive skin is high maintenance, and the way she washes is also so mild, just like her skin, that the stain and dust in the house stays exactly where it was before she came.

The Wedding Caterer: This one acts like a five star chef. There is nothing in the world she can’t cook, she claims. And when you believe that, she cooks sambar, enough to feed at least 50 hungry laborers and serves it at the table in a biryani vessel for you and your husband who are the only people in the house. Her calculation of cooking for two people is screwed up so bad, that if you are not careful you could fall into that sambar bowl and drown.

The Drama Queen: These are usually financially reasonable helps. They have working husbands, sons, have own house with TV and gas connection. They are basically well to do and hardworking. However they are constantly threatened by this very fact that they feel the need to constantly keep lamenting about how long her children had been starving, and how in ages she has not draped a new saree.  Occasionally the drama gets so intense that crocodile tears are wiped with the pallu of her saree and you look like a complete moron who is making a dying woman work for you.

The One with External Affairs: This one is extremely busy. Her phone never stops ringing and hush-hush sweet talk and sound of kisses floating into the phone is audible even to the people in the next room. But like someone said, love is blind and deaf. You can even hear her fixing appointments with people over weekends. Oh and by the way she is married.

Pati, Patni Aur Woh: This one has her entire life in an open book, which is closed only to her husband. The book that is her life is so wide open, that the first day she joins she pretends to have known you since birth and talks about your husband and children with total freedom. She makes inappropriate comments about everyone and gets away unscathed because the house is dirty and you need her. Then she tells you about her sex life, impotent husband and her fear of getting pregnant due to… too many male ‘friends’ you see. She even had thought of an excuse to say if she ever got pregnant and gets questioned by the impotent dude. And that was ‘Congrats! You are not impotent! This is a miracle in the history of medical science!’

Have you had such rare specimens mopping around your house under the pretense of being domestic helps? If you do, please share it in the comments section! :D

 Image Courtesy: Google Images.

Spread the word!