Saturday, February 28, 2009


It's called Mindset!!

As my friend was passing by the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from the ropes they were tied to but for some reason, they did not.

My friend saw a trainer nearby and asked why these beautiful, magnificent animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away."Well," he said, "when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it's enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. Theybelieve the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free." Myf riend was amazed.

These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn't, they were stuck right where they were.Like the elephants, how many of us go through life hanging onto a belief that we cannot do something, simply because we failed at it once before?

So make an attempt to grow further.... Why shouldn't we try it again?

(email forward)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


My daughter asked me this morning....why can't "Rita" (name changed), our maid, sit at our dining table and have her breakfast instead of on her chair in the kitchen? I explained that she came from a small 'Jhopadpatti' [slum] ...and may not be as clean as us because she doesn't have access to as much water and other facilities as us. "How come she can wash the dishes we cook and eat in and clean our home then but not sit with us to eat?"

Do I have the conviction to let her find the right answers and follow her heart or will I teach her what I know to be wrong because it is easier? Today, I changed the topic. Tommorrow is another day!

On the flip side, I've forgotten how to sit crosslegged on the floor and eat like a proper Iyer Mami though I encourage my daughter to try. Even the help at home have chairs so I don't have to check if they mop the floor after they've eaten. I suppose the traditional Indian style of eating has its positives. You have to bend a little when you're seated on the floor to put your food in your mouth. And a stomach crunch per morsel might be a good deterrent for foodies like me! Hmm. Maybe it is time to get rid of the dining table altogether. Na rahega baans, na phoolegi saans!

Daily dose

Waving the hand.
The comments rock!
(found link on Quirky Indian's last blogpost)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Karma Coated

Quotes off today's Pune Mirror

Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it will turn out ( Vaclav Havel)

If you understand, things are just as they are; If you don't understand, things are just as they are. (Zen proverb)

and others:

I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.
~ Etienne De Grellet

Treat everyone with politeness, even those who are rude to you - not because they are nice, but because you are. ~Author Unknown

It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens. ~Baha'u'llah

If every man's internal care

Were written on his brow,

How many would our pity share

Who raise our envy now?

~Peitro Metastasio

And my favourite:

If those who owe us nothing gave us nothing, how poor we would be. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

Monday, February 23, 2009

Dharavi shining and Pinki smiling

We've managed to turn shame to glory..haven't we? What we swept under the carpet is now ON the red carpet. Kudos to Boyle and shame on us. The first half of the movie was unbearably stark. How many children live like that in our country? And why? The scene at the Taj where the urchins rip a tourist taxi and the American woman tells a beaten up Jamal..."Here's a piece of the real America, son" while urging her husband to tip him...I honestly didn't know how to react. Doesn't this happen there? And if it does, does it take away from the fact that it happens here? My child doesn't know that car tyres can be stolen and sold, how do these urchins know..and why? What registered also, was that nobody really really brought up 'Dharavi' at the Oscars. It was 'cheeeeeeezeeeee' time. I agree it was a sensitive movie, well made...but I am hoping it was more than a fairy tale. Sean Penn, ..the Hollywood brat who won the best actor award for MILK chose to make a statement about homophobia but Dharavi?? Wassat again?

Meanwhile, Pinki is smiling in UP. Ugliness was never acceptable...and plastic surgery rocks! So will the next child that is born there with a cleft lip be spared the ragging? I don't think so and I don't know where to begin changing the way we treat other human beings.

But for now, pop the cork and let the bubbly flow! Cheers!

Saturday, February 21, 2009


My blood Boyles.

Would Shilpa Shetty be where she is today if it wasn't for Jane Goody's 'politically wrong' remarks ? What if Jane had been 'nice' to her in the reality show? Goody is dying in a few weeks, leaving behind two little children that she's providing for financially by selling her story. She said what she did in the show because she didn't know better. What was Jane's role in our world in this lifetime?

That aside, why were Goody's remarks racist and why is SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE different? She asked Shilpa Shetty if she lived in a slum...and commented on her bleaching her skin. How many Indian women use bleach and 'whitening' creams? I know I do. Why did we all react like we did? Does the truth hurt that bad? If it does why is SM a rage? BOYLE is the toast of Bollywood and Hollywood and bootlicking Indians that are and aren't part of the movie are going ballistic with joy at all the adulation the movie is recieving.

I don't get it. Do you?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Washed out

Like most mothers I know, I keep chasing my child all around the house trying to get her to wash up before and after she eats/sleeps/goes down to play/snacks/etc 24/7! ( Yeah I know, poor darling)

But I wonder often, I go to a grade-I restaurant and have no idea if the nice waiter in his nice uniform has washed his hands before touching the crockery or cutlery and more importantly what he's touched before that! I have no idea where those napkins I wipe the side of my mouth with daintily are kept before they appear on the table. At a swanky bakery the other day, the guy at the counter wore plast-icky gloves while packing the lady ahead of me some croissants and pastries...he'd been switching on the microwave and patting his hair with the same glove on 2 minutes ago. But nobody else seemed to have noticed and it would have been futile for me to I simply turned around and left.

In many matters and like most people ( who may or may not admit it) I'm a hypocrite. I love Joshi's Vada Pao from Vishrantwadi wrapped in last year's newspaper and have never fallen ill from eating it. Hehe! I grew up in Bombay and no Bombayite worth his / her salt can deny that the best tasting eats in Bombay, even today, are what you get from the roadside vendors. The usual joke is that the paani in the paani puri tastes good because of the added flavours from the thelewala's hand... [eww, I know ;) ] . But somehow, in my 13 odd years in Delhi/Gurgaon and my many journeys through North India, I never got used to eating in Dhaabas. Nothing to do with cleanliness, but charpoys and truck drivers, loud bad music and a good appetite don't go together for me. There are many new Dhaabas, all 'clean' and shiny cropping up though. They call themselves highway restaurants but at heart...they're still Dhaabas and yeah...much to the frustration of my husband ( and some friends who drove around with us that loveeee dhaaba food ) I could always tell the difference.

I especially expect cleanliness from those places that charge me an exorbitant sum of money for a little something on a fancy looking plate. Silly, because when you walk into any restaurant's kitchen, you see the dudes there sweating it out and touching just about everything with their hands before they serve up your food. But if I go down that road, I'll end up having all my meals at home! So :-X!

So now... am I going to stop asking my daughter to wash her hands? No way!


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Silk root

The only silk that appeals to me (inspite of my genuine (?) pity for the poor worms that die in order that I may wear the utterly beautiful fabric)- Kanjivaram.

As the Mother Goddess Kamakshi smiles benignly at her devotees from her sanctum sanctorum, there is injustice rampant under her own nose. There is a lot being done...and a lot left to do to set things right. Take a look.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Meesta Bombastic...

Stop Using Big Words You (we?) Don't Understand

Sesquipedalian predilections warrant interminable vigilance.Verily, vivacious nomenclature decries salient considerations of distinguishability. Abandon waterlogged lexicons for perspicuous verbiage.Discontinue inclinations toward Brobdingnagian libretto. Procure alternative bureaucratese.Stop Blogging.


Don't I want everyone that reads my blog to know what I'm saying? Or am I targetting the OXFORD RETURNED ENGLISH LANGUAGE POST GRADUATE who has a thesaurus chip in his brain? This, obviously, is the weakness of many who fancy themselves good writers ( not to say that those of us who aren't bombastic are good necessarily). Interesting and pertinent writing IMVHO ( V=very) is not about big pretentious words, it is about words that make sense the first time someone reads them. An extensive vocabulary is a definite plus but if it doesn't convey what it seeks to at first go, it is wasted. More here and here. Also here.

Someone's actually done this! There's even a song!!! Oh, and for those who insist on trying too hard, there's this and this !!

Enjoy the links and for more laughs, google 'using big words'.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Dune bashing

I've always loved going to Dubai. It has something to offer for everyone. But I've also always come away wondering at how unreal the place is. If it will stand the test of time...this whole beautiful expensive bubble. I was especially disturbed when I returned from Germany via Dubai last year by the new extention of the airport that has been built recently when there is already another airport under construction. The colossal WASTE of money bothered me. It really did.

I am told by friends and family working in Dubai that the global recession has hit them like a ton of bricks. There are beautiful state of the art cars abandoned at airports with keys still stuck in them and credit cards used to the last limits. People have left / are leaving Dubai in droves, disillusioned and defeated. In the meanwhile the media is taken to task for telling it like it is.

Why did we think the bubble would last and why do Indians allow themselves to be exploited? I am told anyone without a degree/passport from the 'West' gets a lower salary compared to a 'Westerner' for a similar job profile/portfolio no matter if he/she is better at what he/she does. I don't think I need to elaborate. See how the ARABS feel. .

There was always that niggling "first uneasy impression" about Dubai everytime I visited although I've had great times there! Now as I learn more about it, I know why.

And I wonder what Mr. Obama might have to say about this.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Mirakle workers!

Congrats Dhruv Lakra! I request those who're in Mumbai and reading my blog ( out of the few of you who do!) to try them out. It is time they got their rightful place in society and a chance to be counted. Cheers!!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Hakuna Matata

Two Things To Worry About :
There are only two things to worry about: Either you are well or you are sick. If you are well, there is nothing to worry about; but if you are sick, there are two things to worry about: either you will get well, or you will die. If you get well, there is nothing to worry about; if you die, there are only two things to worry about: either you will go to heaven or to hell. If you go to heaven, there is nothing to worry about. But, if you go to hell you'll be so darned busy shaking hands with friends you won't have time to worry...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Shocking pink


Beyond comment.

but V

Add: Sisters of mine, did you stop to think about what might happen if he ( Oh dear GODDDD NO!) decides to get even instead of mad...and actually 'dons' and poses in one of these?

Writer's block

Nice things people say when they don't like your writing : by Will Wright punny pseudonym?

Every writer I know has done this. You've just finished the best thing you have ever written. So you bounce it off friends and family. You convince them to read your latest opus, waiting for them to catch the magic of your words, the subtlety of your approach, the wit, the humor, the brilliance that you poured onto the page.

And when they're done reading you get, "That was ... good." Good? ........That's it? That. Was. Good? Nothing else?

Well, having received my share of noncommittal feedback has led me to a number of conclusions. But the most important one is this: people who like you and don't like your writing aren't going to say anything that will hurt your feelings. Instead, they'll hide how they really feel. What this means is that you need a translator to convert what they say into what they really mean. Most of these responses are to the question - "So, what did you think?"

What they say: That was an interesting story.
What they really mean: This story piqued my interest. It's too bad that you wrote it. Maybe you should try submitting the story idea to a real writer.

What they say: I really liked the characters.
What they really mean: Man, this story stunk. What's something positive I can say, without lying?

What they say: I liked it. Maybe you should do this [insert whatever suggestion they have].
What they really mean: Man, this story really stunk.

What they say: How did you come up with this story?
What they really mean: Why did you make me waste three hours of my life reading this?

What they say: There's some real intelligence behind your writing.
What they really mean: Yeah, just like the guy who wrote my chemistry text book.

What they say: There were some typos and spelling errors. But overall it was good.
What they really mean: I was so bored; I had to count errors just to keep myself occupied.

What they say: I liked the part where [insert whatever part they liked].
What they really mean: Out of the 200 pages you gave me to read, I liked one page.

What they say: I'm not really qualified to judge writing.
What they really mean: Please don't make me lie to you and tell you I like this.

This reminds me of my kavitanjali days when I'd torture a couple of good friends...insist they read what I passed off as poetry and be terribly upset with anything vaguely negative they said. :)). I commend their patience! Have things really changed? I've just gone to prose from worse...oops verse!

Mean joke of the day: What do you call a midget psychic that escaped from jail? Small medium at large!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Tera mujhse hai pehle ka naata koi...

The mind is intelligent. And the soul is something you force yourself to listen to ...sitting crosslegged, eyes closed..scented candles around...picturing the Himalayas in your 'mind's eye' so you are at peace with the world.Right? ....Well, think again!

Doesn't it surprise you how some people appeal to you at the very first meeting.Why people..even nicknames on the internet. People you've never met...people you may never meet. You feel attached, an affinity that cannot be explained. You feel like you've known them forever.

And then there are those that you can't stand from the word get tell yourself you are wrong in judging and labelling...that those people are probably really nice...and/or only as bad as you are. And you know you can be rotten rotten as anyone else. And then you go out of your try and deal with them the way you try to deal with everyone else...honestly. Sooner or later, you are disappointed.

And it slowly dawns on you. Your soul is more intelligent than your mind. It recognises what the mind cannot. It has a history, like the soul of the person you form an impression of. The feeling is uncanny...and undeniable. There is something beyond human comprehension. There is that element of Karma. There are things we cannot explain. There are things we mustn't mess with. One such phenomenon is that of THE FIRST IMPRESSION.

And my new year ( late I know...but its just February yet) resolution is never to argue with my soul.

“First impressions are often the truest, as we find (not infrequently) to our cost, when we have been wheedled out of them by plausible professions or studied actions. A man's look is the work of years; it is stamped on his countenance by the events of his whole life, nay, more, by the hand of nature, and it is not to be got rid of easily.”
William Hazlitt quote

Flash back - I

My man-friday, the guy who cooks and manages my house for me, has been on leave for a few days now and I'm back to running my home like I did 9 L O N G years ago with part time help. Hm, this morning as I made pavakkai pitla and beans poriyal to pack for my hubby's lunch with rice and dahi and pickle and banana chips from Coimbatore while juggling with the dosa tava and chutney grinder at breakfast time I thought of naani and my life with her.

I grew up with Naana and her (and my aunt who got married and left for her own home when I was in Class IX ). Naani was ( is) chronically asthmatic. Has always had severe wheezing bouts and had/has to resort to Asthalin and Betnasol and Deriphyllin overdoses to be able to breathe almost normally. Back then, she'd wake up at 6 in the morning, bathe...make us all breakfast, pack lunch for Naana who'd leave at 8 for work and also for my aunt who had to rush to college/work. She'd then get me ready for mean task. I was ( am?) naughty and had very long hair and she'd have to braid it carefully...and then ensure that I'd packed the books I'd need each day at school. Her coffee would be in her steel tumbler ( we all had different glasses and plates - no mixing) getting tepid and tasteless. But she'd finish her chores before she sat down for a sip. And then once Parvathi Baee ( our maid) had left at 10 30 or so after her morning beat, she'd sit down for a bit and read the newspaper. At 12 it would be time for her to heat up my lunch and pack it in a be put in the usual plastic lunch basket and send with Parvathi Baee to school for me. I always ate piping hot food..home sandwiches or junkfood. Never ordered out unless there was a very special occassion. Baee would be back at 1 30 to return the basket. Naani would lie down till 3.30 and wake up to make herself some tea or coffee...and wait for me to get home by 4 15 or so. Then she'd make sure I changed, drank my tea, ate a hot homemade snack and finished my homework by 5 30 to run down to play with my friends. My aunt returned at 6 30..and Naana at 7. She'd take care of their needs then. We had dinner at 8 because Parvathi Baee would come at 8 30 sharp to do the dishes at night and would grumble if we weren't done. :))). When I visited my friends, I'd look forward to the junk food I'd be served by their mothers..and when they came over, they asked for Naani's special snacks. My classmate from college still hasn't gotten over her adai and avial.

When I'd visit my folks in Dammam and miss school I had a residence visa that HAD to be renewed every 6 months, so sometimes I'd go mid-term, she'd borrow notebooks from my classmates and write down everything I'd missed and make sure I made up when I returned. She'd yell at me when I'd hurt myself or stay out longer than I was allowed to. Through all this she struggled with her breathing. Her Asthma. After my aunt got married, it was Naana and Naani and me. Naana died of cancer when I was in my class XII. She looked after him like he was a baby in his last days...she had married him when she was barely 13 and was 55 when we lost him. Naani was/is the strongest woman I've known. She refused to go stay with her daughters and insisted on continuing in her own house. I was more than happy to stay with her because it meant that I'd not have to move from Bombay. I remember having to rush her to the hospital at all hours when she'd get breathless and nothing would work on her. She'd be put on oxygen and given drugs IV to settle her breathing. She'd even tell me what to do if she died on me. Where the keys were kept, where all the kitchen stuff was, whom to call and what to say. When she'd be hospitalised, I'd make very frugal lunches to take to the hospital for her...frugal because all I knew back then to make was Rasam, Rice and some sort of Potato curry...and yes..Phulkas. She was kind..and always ate and appreciated what I took for her. The year after Naana passed on, my folks returned to India and settled in Madras. I couldn't bring myself to leave Bombay, so I continued with naani till I got married. I remember her packing my lunch when I'd go to work too...and my colleagues would completely ravish my dabba before I could even get to it and I'd be stuck ordering out. Amazing woman.

Today she's 80 plus, suffers from a million health issues but is still a source of strength for us. I remember cracking all the filthy jokes that I'd hear in college and at work with her...and she'd blush and laugh in turns. My aunt always says that I've completely corrupted her mother who used to be such a prude! One of her newer problems is 'fundal varices'. It rears its head every couple of months and cannot be treated in her case because of her age and asthma. They just inject a sealant endoscopically and hope for the best. Last time she was in the ICU, I went to see her between dropping my daughter at school and picking her up...and she regaled me with stories of which nurse was eyeing which ward boy and which patient didn't like her daughter in law. Can't not love her! All I wish for, for her, is rest because I can see that she is truly tired. I hope it comes gently though.

Everything comes rushing back to me often when I'm doing my chores or combing my daughters hair or helping her read or write. I wonder what memories my daughter will have of me when she is 41.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

High 5!

One summer, when Bill was still president, Mrs. Clinton and he were vacationing in their home state of Arkansas. On a venture one day, they stopped at a service station to fill up the car with gas. It seemed that the owner of the station was once Hillary's high school love. They exchanged hellos, and went on their way. As they were driving on to their destination, Bill put his arm around Hillary and said, "Well, honey, if you had stayed with him, you would be the wife of a service station owner today." She smirked and replied, "No, if I had stayed with him, he would be President of the United States."

(off the net)

Saturday, February 7, 2009


The weakest link