Saturday, December 18, 2010

aaj kal paao jameen par naheen padate mere bolo dekhaa hain kabhee, tumne mujhe udte huye

This has been the craziest two days EVER for our household. Its like Santa Claus left his house to distribute goodies across the world and when he was passing our place, out of sheer laziness (or because he said I no work beyond 5) said to himself Bus iskey aagey ki dekhi jaayegi and emptied his sack of seasonal cheer over our flat. So over the weekend we found out that yes we are getting a ticket to fly to Melbourne so I can pack "a few of my favourite things" and Gman can do whatever Big People do in offices, then considering it was pretty late in the week to ask people to change their Christmas plans so they could catch up with us, we decided to take a break in Bangkok before coming back home (we dont waste tickets and holidays no siree). I suggested to a couple of friends if they would like to join and fingers crossed one enthu cutlet will be joining us for a Great Adventure of her own...the Islamic New Year has just started for us so I am hoping it means the next year will be kinder on all of us.

And before I finished screaming over these three amazing amazing things happening to us, Gman called a while ago and said So What is The Kid Doing? And I said terrorizing the neighbourhood and he said well tell him when the new year begins he is starting school. Thank the Lord, he got in and this is the school I wanted him to go to. This whole episode of him starting something has been kind of funny, I was convinced that he was going to be home schooled, and I would never push him. the other night I had another of those dreams when a teacher (this time a college teacher) is scolding me and I woke up crying and told myself Never, Never for Arhaan, and if he tells me Mama I dont want to go to school, I will not send him. Khair, my heart was set on this particular one, call me middle class, but its the kind of place we like. Gman teases me this is where you want to go right. And I say yes, I want him to sit on a brightly coloured stool, and play in a garden, have a teddy bears picnic , and sing songs. Its a very cheerful place, and I have always come back happy after visiting it. Anyways the lady I spoke to said Arhaan should come and visit and to give him a couple of days and if he is happy we continue. Arhaan was #60 on the waiting list and it is a Christmas miracle (and I suspect my being a squeaky wheel and using The Social Network) that he got in. He better like it!! And his father too!!

So I am not sure if I will write before next year, when I finally change blog header et al. Here is wishing that all you who lurk and delurk are happy and warm and loved and remember me and mine in your prayers. And how can it be Christmas if I dont end with Dickens, "And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!"

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Humko Aaj Kal Hai Intezar

You know thoda resolution miley.

I still dont know what I am going to be when I grow up. Naukri comes knocking at the door and I say naah. Nothing I am offered excites me. We finally came to a decision about saying bye bye to the house in the suburbs for a while, and I thought I would feel all noble embarking on a new adventure, yeaaah we were going to be bohemian but I find myself looking mournfully at pics of people doing up their houses and start crying for my books and stuff and everything that made my place home.
I have realised deeep down as in really deep down I am pretty shallow and for me it is All About the Stuff heh heh.

I am also getting really itchy feet and keep on pestering Gman, Kitney din hogaye we havent been anywhere, doesnt anyone need you in the field any more. You know the reason you said Until We Meet Again to life in Australia was so I travel the world not be incarcerated in a flat in Dhaka.The maid gives me hopeful looks every morning, Should I bring the suitcases down Madam. But I dont think we are travelling soon and that REALLY depresses me. I did nag the man to go to Melbourne so I can pack some of our stuff and bring it here but he gave me a look as to say You Have Really Lost It.

And this week I fulfilled what I thought was a long standing promise to myself. See a dhinchak Bollywood concert. With Shahrukh Khan no less. Gman promised to babysit the toddler and I was the Fun Fearless Female personified (with no curfew). Somehow I can only describe it as a very surreal experience at best, like he was there in front of us dancing singing talking but it just didnt seem real, and not in the Oh My Godd Thats Him more as in oye yeh TV set ko kiya hogaya. I think its only when he will be sitting in your drawing room and saying something like Chai tau Hum Zaroor Piyengay that it will seem REAL and I think there are so many award shows and all..I guess with all the shows on tele and him recycling all the jokes it all becomes predictable after a while and you are waiting for the ad break so you can go to the loo.

Arjun Rampal seemed more REAL and I think he had all of us leching Oyee Haaandsome , Chikney even from a distance. I remember him appearing in Rajneeti and he had this Bihari accent and everyone was like wow he can even make that sound sexy, well he spoke a few lines in Bangla and took off his jacket as he was speaking to us and I was thinking to myself he can even say something like Bibiji teendey nay pani chorh diya hai , dakhna utar doo and make it sound cool.
Rani M was the most "prepared" of them all and I have realised she must have been a real mugoo in school as in rattafying each line. They had those giant screens on the side so you could see each expression and Shahrukh was all goofy when he was dancing, he was just following her steps and you know had a "making do, chalta hai" expression on his face. Rani was all Misssss I know every line in all the songs and dances , all memorized and perfection.
But I realised that there are some experiences you enjoy when you have your friends, family to pinch you and scream Do you Effin' Believe This? When they broke out into Uff Teri Adaa I became a bit senti for the toddler and then Gman called and said Arhaan and him were dancing to it on TV (one of the TV channels was covering the show).
And I realised in a couple of weeks Arhaan will be 2! 2! Wow! Time surely flies. So I decided to make some memories and enrolled us into some piano classes, we have only attended two classes and most of the time Arhaan jumps around the room screaming G E F ABCD and making me forget the keys but it has been fun and some days he practices on his toy piano with his forehead all furrowed sa.
And what have you been up to?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

kahin beete na yeh raaten kahin beete na yeh din

Gaata rahe mera dil.

Helllooo, this is your friendly toddler reporting for monthly update duty. Khair se we have turned 22 months old. Twenty two months, woohooo. Big changes happening, but I will leave it to my mother to update you later about how I can recognize alphabets, well enough to complete an alphabet jigsaw. I can also count pretty well and can guide my parents to make simple meals. As far as nursery rhymes go, lets say we can be quite mom is prompting me that I now know GUILT. Everytime I do a booboo I cover my face with my hands or hide my face in the bed so I can avoid my mother's Power Eyes.

There are BIG changes as my parents have just taken on on a very big adventure which involves saying goodbye to the picket fence and house with a deck for a while. But again I leave that to my mom to tell you. The past two weeks, she has been pestering me with Will You Forgive Me When You are Older? What Do We Owe Our Children? Are You Happy? well who knows eh. As someone said this is the only truth I know. And my parents conclude there will always remain three hundred other ways of doing it all wrong. But as my mom says this is just something we have to do, otherwise they will always regret chickening out. Somehow my coming just shook them out of suburbia and they are somehow determined to lead a Life Less Ordinary.

Just to give you all a heads up, my FORMAL toilet training mother has asked all who embarked on Hajj to pray for me. For a while we forgot about world peace, but thats OK if we start worrying my mother asks what will beauty queens do. She now asks all of you to remember us in our prayers.

I am on a waiting list for playgroup as my parents were too busy gallivanting around the world and had no concept that Time and School Seats wait for No One. My mom is now using The Social Network to grab one for March.

To camouflage the whiff of Eau de Arhaan, we have been making home made playdough. Tis the festive season and this website has been very helpful in bringing the right amount of holiday cheer to our house.

Ta dah.

We have also been making vegetable block prints. Come March, I dont know about me, but my mother will be topping all school assignments.

P.S It smells as yummy as it looks. Apologies for the brevity of this post. I will be back pretty soon but I can hear a thunder down under and I have to runnnnnn.

P.P.S: Could you also send me your Toilet Training Kay Paanch Rules?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Mein Ne Tumhari Ghaghar Se Kabhi Paani Piya Tha

...chalo Ghaghar nahee Water Cooler, but there is some aank matka happening in Sharma's latest, woo hoo. OK now no more spoilers.

When it comes to Parul's books at times the ' journey (to read the book) is the destination'. In a similar incident to last year, the book took many a jump, false start and hiccup before it got to me. (Quick plug for Flipkart here. You can call up someone in Delhi leaving on a flight a day later, and they can order and have a book in their hands before they get on the plane. Kamaal hai) Once the book reached me, there was a minor squabble with the toddler who insisted it was Ahaaaaaann's Ahaan's and Helllo Babying the Surfing Chicita on the cover. For one day we forgot our house rules of No Snacking Before Meals and Arhaan dived into bowls of popcorn as the mother read the book. Yesterday was also the day that the toddler decided he REALLY loved his mother, I luvvvee youyouyou, pounding of Happy Budday to youuuu on the baby piano, anything that he could sidle in and read the book with me. He did eventually and tried to "look and now I find" through the book. I did ask Parul how she could write a book with a kid underfoot as I struggled to even read with one.

In days of yore, husbands would return home to a burnt dinner, children wandering about with runny noses as the mom remained engrossed with Amitabh Bachchan breathing his last in some film on the VCR. Cue 2010, and another UP wali (Sharma's) latest. The book takes us on one madcap adventure after another, Parul has lost none of her fast-paced Lets Get Into The Action writing style which has you hooked from the first page from before. Like before, Sharma does not get into the whole "back story" quagmire and even then her characters remain so "fleshed out" and real. Heck, she can throw in a line like " except that we are not characters in a chick-lit novel....We are real people and this is life" and you nod along sagely. There are still the ties that bind, the mother-Mimi-father relationship, but I think that is where the similarities end. This is a more confident book, there are references to popular culture, always a plus for me when it comes to making the characters relevant.

In an exchange in cyberspace earlier someone had commented on how this book was very Dork. Though I think Sharma has her own voice, I think the similarity comes from that they both do make digs at the workplace and the advertising, marketing mantras that abound but with such respect. And here I might be recycling something I have written before about their writing styles. That at no time are they condescending about the Thorn in their Backsides, they are funny but not hurtful in their work place humour. My grouse with that Other One who writes about the corporate world with his obsession about numbers is that ' us ney namak ka maan nahee rakha', if the corporate world paid for yours and your family dentist bills as you worked on your treatise dont treat them like assholes (even if they may be). Sharma and Vadukut are geniuses as they handle the critique of the whole grades/placement/excelling at work place in a really interesting way. I repeat they are very very intelligent in their humour.

As I have to yet perfect writing a review that does not give out the plot, I will say head out and get a copy, you will not regret it. And Parul, thanks for hearing my earlier plea of a Sharma for the festive season. Dont stop now.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Haal Kaisa Hai Janab Ka?

It has been a while since Ive written. We were in Sri Lanka most of November. This was the first time we were flying after being "downgraded" to Silver from our Gold Card membership, something I just cannot understand with all the travelling we have done this year. Thats OK. I now know how to entertain a toddler in Bangkok airport without access to the Star Alliance Lounge. Somewhere past the security check on Level 3 is a little playground for children which must be the best kept secret as there is no "toddler traffic". Arhaan was pretty happy cooking and washing dishes in the pretend kitchen, good habits that I hope he does not forget when he enters his teens.

If your kid is considerate enough he will fall asleep and you can indulge in a nice foot massage. Sadly our kid's " cup of kindness" only extended to showing model child behaviour in the playground.

Colombo, rather Mount Lavinia where they had put us up is pretty, it will remind some of the Marina Beach in Chennai, though with less early morning walkers. There is a train line running through the beach, which might be quite unsettling for some, but considering I am still going through my "life hands you lemons" phase, I told the toddler how lucky for him that we find ourselves in the Island of Sodor, yonder is Thomas the Tank Engine and his Friends paying us a half hourly visit.

We are a strange, strange family as you can tell if you eavesdrop on a typical breakfast for us when we are travelling. Im the one usually whining "Why Cant We StayHeeeere, Why Cant You Get Posted Here. I dont want to go back to Dhaka" alternated with So if there is a Tsunami, do we run, go up, tell me again all the while Arhaan chiming Go, Go, GoBaba, Go. Sadly, Arhaan doesnt do buffets. He is OK with restaurants but there must be something about the anxiety of people, 20 minutes, 20 dishes, can we do justice?combined with the frustration of the hotel staff, If they ask me just once more where the silverware is. ITS ON YOUR TABLE FOOLS and all that coffee in the air. Nopes, he doesnt like buffets. Which of course cramps our style as we really like to eat.

Gman had three days off in between. We were planning for a weekend getaway in Dambula and stay at the Heritance Kandalama which has our friends raving. Sadly, 3000 other people also think so. And it was the Diwali weekend, which even though I keep on joking is like being in Germany on Armistice Day, is still a pretty big thing for most Sri Lankans. The hotel management were kind enough to give us a booking for a later date, emphasis on later. I think my grand children will be very happy when Arhaan takes them for that weekend.

We finally ended up going to Kandy and Nuwara Eliya (a hill town famous for sprawling tea gardens and those hankering for a bit of colonial memorabilia, but considering we are living in times of all things Ramayana rather than Britannia, there are car loads of Indian tourists making way to Sita Elia, the site where Sita was allegedly held captive. On an earlier visit which was a good 13 years ago, there was a small grey cave and an emaciated pandit who was so thrilled that our bus load of students got down and walked through the place and chatted with him. Now of course there is a fat, contented little temple which wants us to take off our shoes and has all the signs of becoming even more prosperous in the future. Somehow it does not seem as REAL as it seemed earlier, though there are now more people, (even a court in India !) which believes that it is...and sadly there is no cave. The mark of (Hanu) man came around the same time.

But not all is lost. Some of our cousins are prospering. Three centuries ago, my great grand daddy lost his tail so I can partake of your prasad goody bag.

On our way to the hills we passed beautiful waterfalls.
and had coffee in a beautiful boutique hotel The Plantation which indulges in the Brown Saheb in us. You know a garden seat with a view.

A bench where you can watch the world and the river flow by.

In Nuwara Eliya, we were upgraded courtesy Arhaan to a very posh suite in the Grand. It is funny how useful toddlers are in freaking out hotel staff that they may create a ruckus and disturb other patrons. Lets move them to a wing where they cant be seen and definitely not heard. The kid though was good as gold and didnt destroy any of the property that I was so paranoid of. In fact he never let go of the dad's hand. Sadly, he still didnt do buffets. And we never got around to making the paisa vasool of the paisa spent there alas.

Onwards ho to Kandy, where I took artistic pics of foot poised on moonstones (in the Temple of the Tooth)
and I wondered what was behind this as offerings, or is it a mannat, vow made to the deity? Anyone out there who might know?
There is a new hall coming up at the temple now.
On our way out Arhaan saw a pelican which was quite ready to apply for senior citizen benefits.

He was more excited after attending a "cultural show" which amongst others had fire walking.

By the time we reached Kandy, we had decided to split up when it came to partaking of the buffet. However, it was not helpful as there is always one hotel staff who is worried. " Baby NOT coming? Your husband NOT coming".
Sadly, by this time Arhaan had decided that he just didnt want to leave the Island Paradise. Pretty verandah, no. Pity about the toddler who did not want anyone touching his red bag.

We got back to Colombo to hear that I won the 99labels competition (see earlier post), wow, this was amazing news. I thought I had my share of good things happening to me courtesy wedding when Arhaan was born, but well I can milk that day for some more time, I guess.

But my evening in Nuwara Eliya did make me think. The place is a lot like the hill station my mom would drag my sister and me to when we were kids, and I remember most summer evenings we were there we were always moping about Some Place We Would Rather Be, the grass was always greener on the other side (of the hill), we were always sure there was someone having a grander time than us in some other hotel. But that evening as Arhaan dozed in his stroller, and Gman and me sat reading in the parlour (and a cold cold wind blew outside. Kafee Angrezi Mahol tha if I must say) I looked around and thought to myself I have never been happier or more content. Such a long journey, from that hotel in Nathiagali to this room here, I dont think its possible now to tell that sixteen year old to stop fretting about her life. Actually I would rather not. For all that teenage angst, and twenty something shenanigans did lead me to this very moment and the people around me, and THIS is something I will never change.

But I am going to make some changes. The name of the blog for one. When I had started out a while ago it was called Living Room to go with the golkamra in the address. At the time I had a "jootey utar kar aaye, please take off your shoes" kind of attitude towards the blog. It was a place to store some of my op/eds, some thoughts on potential projects, comments were not allowed, it was that kind of place. Then life happened. In time it became notes to Arhaan lest I kick the bucket and he is left thinking about the "every day" questions about me, the blogging process saw a change as I wrote earlier. And for some reason it became Life Or Something Like That with a click. Well, I realise now that there are a lot of people out there who might have heard of the Jolie film as well. So a change is a'comin. And I think there is a different mood, a whole different light in the sky as I write. It could be the winter air. It is 28 degrees I confess, but it looks like winter, and umm after the hot gulam jaman from a while ago, it smells like winter too. I have been thinking of green tea, and gup shup and tucking your feet under as you settle down on that cushion in the corner. Parul, has very generously offered to gift me Baithak (it could be after the 50 or so votes I cast surreptitiously, she might have thought "well she really likes it, doesnt she"), she is not so keen on the green tea as it reminds her of a diet drink (not the way we drink ours honey, I tell her. The teaspoon can actually stand in the sugar settled at the bottom). So does the Sheny Chai (Green Tea) in the Baithak, strike your fancy. I promise we have no other branches.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

tare hai barati,chandani hai yeh barat.

This post can be classified as one written in the genre of commissioned posts. This time the lovely chandni of bohemian rhapsody has requested of her friends to participate in a wonderful contest (details at the end of the post) . Considering my wedding can be read as one of the Indian Weddings (Low Calorie Special) for one half of the parties involved in the wedding, I guess Chandni thinks I can send in an entry as well. Going through my post I would say it qualifies for the "My dream wedding – Simple or lavish?" topic. What do you think?

So read on....
Once upon a time in a small town in Pakistan a mother had nightmares that she would lift the skirt of her daughter’s wedding lehenga to discover the bride wearing some hideous sneakers, so fond was her daughter of running shoes. Well, her daughter did kind of live up to this self fulfilling prophecy; strapping on as she did her running shoes every time a Prince became much too Charming.
And then one day the daughter discovered that she would rather walk into the sunset with someone rather than bolting away...of course before signing on the dotted line she had her own super private blessing ceremony where her eccentric group of friends; with their multiplicity of perspectives on God and being godless, on love and lust, the soul , the spirit, and sexuality, celebrated the commitment she was making and prayed in their many languages for the couple (And Thats All Im Telling). Yeh sab tau theek hai all this is OK as moms say, but the two families needed something that could give them pictures that go in the album and that could be framed on their walls. Im lucky that my sister had been kind enough to give my mother the Big Fat Pakistani Wedding Tamasha where everyone and their grandmother could be treated to the whole band, baja and bling. Sister's wedding had provided a number of occasions also for the much celebrated gift economy to flourish, so this time around my mother could somewhat overlook that the celebrations were a trifle less over the top.

However, we had to keep in mind that the two mothers had some expectations of the day that had to be respected so it could not be that the wedding day was as ‘unorthodox’ as I would have liked, there was as they say (and this is my rehashed Bollywood wisdom of the year) sex aur sanskar ki kashmakash. In short how could we celebrate our Veer met Zara moment without making it an Aman ki Asha special? How could I hold on to a vow I had made long ago of not allowing a maulvi as middleman, to mediate my relationship with my man and Maker and still invite God to my wedding? How could we make it a day that celebrated the culture and traditions of our respective families and still toed the line when it came to the bureaucracy of the city we lived in? Simply put how could it be the day I dreamt of when I closed my eyes but still be real enough for those who watched us with eyes wide open.

Of course only the guests that afternoon and later in the evening can tell you whether we got the balance between the ‘ real ‘ and the “ Oh my God this seems like out of this world' right. But I am very proud to say that I got through the days leading up to the ceremony without breaking into hives or having the tight constricted feeling in my chest that had marked other count downs. Let me though be very clear that the internal conflicts, the self doubts that plagued those other occasions, those other countdowns, had been all mine; and should not be a reflection on the merits or lack thereof of the other parties involved when I bolted away from signing on the dotted line.

Finally as the wedding day approached I could afford to take a very contented sigh that everything seemed in order. I had someone who had supported our love story From The Beginning reading us our vows, and the celebrant who was officiating the ceremony later in the evening had promised to stick to my script. (I have to apologize if I sound a bit like a drama queen but a couple of months before my wedding I had the misfortune of being in one where the cleric tore up a marriage certificate to show that marriage is more than a piece of paper. And where the person officiating spoke about the world wanting Adam and Eve and not Adam and Steve. I also wanted to be proud of the commitment I was making that day in a way that did not exhibit that I had entered some exclusive club all set to totter about very smugly in my stilettos). However just as I was rubbing my hands quite happily for the chef had promised to accommodate the varied dietary requirements of all the guests invited, a casual remark by one of the managers at the restaurant burst my bubble. Alas, my lovely sunset ceremony by the sea was the same evening as the Grand Final. Oh to be a bride on the most important day in the sports calendar for a football crazy city. For someone who had wanted to escape the Caught in Camera Flashlights look that brides sport standing on a wedding stage, it was poetic justice that I was going to be the silly woman in her wedding finery surrounded by a crowd of rowdy football fans. But God was kind, the crowds were far far away in the distance, and people only honked their cars (in respect) as I crossed the street in my mother’s wedding gharara rather than Woh Dekho Dulhan. Yes, I wore the skirt of my mother’s gharara with a new shirt and dupatta, I also carried a zardozi poth silk batwa that was actually the sample for my sister’s wedding dress (so it was not just their prayers that were part of the ceremony). Earlier in the afternoon I wore the white and gold I favoured with a look demure enough that my mother could frame it for the walls.

Later in the evening as part of the civil ceremony Gman and I acknowledged that life as a couple will have happy days and dark. Kind of what our real lives are like to begin with? Though weddings should be a day when we can escape from the mundane of the every day, we didn’t want to be escapists. A blogger had asked of us once how we know a certain person is The One.In our case here were two people who had two very different upbringings. We didn’t share a language and spoke to God in very different ways. But Im hoping the events of the day kind of crossed that gap. There were some funny moments as well. My mother had borrowed our phone to speak to my sister once one lot of vows had been exchanged. For people who were experiencing their first “desi wedding” the instructions about keeping an eye on the plants seemed like part of the cultural traditions that the desi guests were explaining to them.
So with apologies to Kipling, Oh, East is East, and West is West but sometimes the North East and North West do meet.
And what happened to the mother earlier in the story who feared the sneakers under the skirt. Well though her daughter loved her enough to wear something with enough gold and bronze that a sister had picked out , the next week she went out to buy something in a Nayi Naveli Red. Albeit this.

All you have to do is blog about one or more of the following topics:

  • My big fat Indian wedding
  • What “not to do” while planning a wedding!
  • My dream wedding – Simple or lavish?
  • Traditions I love/hate in Indian weddings
  • My wedding shopping spree!

There are no fixed rules for content of posts. Anything goes as long as it is fun and original. Just use your imagination!!!!
What’s in it for you?
  • The best blog entry wins Rs 3000 worth of free credit on 99labels.
  • Second prize: Rs 1000 worth of free credit on 99labels.
  • Two 3rd prizes: Rs. 500 worth of free credit on 99labels.
And furthermore, you get Rs 100 worth of credit when you sign-up and an additional Rs 500 if any of your referrals buy from our site!
Here’s how to participate:
  1. Become a member of 99labels (If you are not a member already) by clicking on the referral link at the bottom of this post. (You get Rs 100 worth of credit free to shop!) .
    1. Create a log-in preferably using the email id attached with your blog. This is to protect the anonymity of some bloggers as the referral link (read rule 2) displays your email-id.
  2. Post your referral link on the post (This means that whoever becomes a member clicking on the link gets Rs 100, and whenever you referral buys an item you get Rs 500). To find your referral link
    1. Log in on
    2. Click on “Invite friends” on the top menu.
    3. Go to bottom of page and look for “Copy and paste your personal invitation link” and paste the link at the bottom of your post E.g . My Referral invite –
  3. Copy and paste all the rules in your post.
  4. Leave a link to your post in the comments section of the contest page of 99labels
  5. Copy and paste this image at the end of the post and the category under which you have posted.
99labels wedding week blogging contest
Last date : 8th November, 2010
Other Rules
  • Multiple entries are welcome.
  • You can repost old blog entries as well, as long as they are original.
  • If you don’t have a blog, you can write as note on facebook instead! Just make sure to leave us a link in the comments section!
Shoot your queries at
So what are you waiting for?? Blog away to glory!
Everyone wins!
Topic : My dream wedding – Simple or lavish?"

Friday, October 29, 2010

Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli Hai

Yes as you turn 21 months I realize there is truth in the lyrics makes you cry one moment and the other second you are squealing with laughter, add to that a mother who deals with her own "the good-the bad- the ugly" and well the end result is a full on emotional roller coaster for you, sweet heart.

So what will stay with me this month:

One evening you were trying to prove some point with my glasses and managed to snap off one of the ear rests. You were pretty shocked at what you had done and just stared at me all stupefied. As ever in life two roads diverged in the wood for me, I know a rational mother would seek guidance from SuperNanny or Dr Spock. But I just asked myself what would Nirupa Roy do now? So I burst out burst out crying holding my glasses, and spent the evening flinging myself on to the pillow or wiping my eyes feeding you dinner. You spent the evening trying to quietly read to yourself and checking on me now and then. Done with giving you a guilt trip I tried to explain the whole deal behind my wearing glasses to you. Thus followed a whole hour of play acting with the spare set of glasses " I cant see you Arhaan" and "Now I can" (borrowing again from Nirupa Roy in the classic scene from Amar, Akbar, Anthony) I think you kind of get what glasses do for me, hence when I try to slip them off as I read you your bedtime story (all the better to nod off and encourage you to go to sleep too) you reprimand me with a stern finger and say "Mama, gachiss ONNN".

Speaking of trying to make you go to sleep at night. The pater is travelling and this coincides with the launch of KBC, putting you to bed duties are alas all mine. Considering I am snoring ten minutes into trying to make you sleep, I have yet to watch an episode in its entirety and only stir to the credits rolling on the screen, you on the other hand have been keeping up with all the episodes and will be soon mastering Trivial Pursuit-the Toddler Edition.

I have been mean to you on other occasions this month, all as I face my own personal demons. You have picked up the habit of waving to planes as we play kick-the ball, the other day you waved and sang "Bye bye plane, come again" and some inner devil made me snap "Lucky for you, you are not growing up in Waziristan and that was a drone above". Totally uncalled for. But it was a good reality check to stop visiting my resentments on you. So earlier today I called a truce and shook hands with you and asked of you Mujh Sey Dosti Karogey? Considering Katrina didnt star in that movie the reference was totally lost on you but you hugged me just the same and I guess we will start the new month afresh.

So what else? Yes, earlier this month your dad got you this from Jessore.

Son Of Dhanno

And so just when I start to question my life choices I realise I must have done something right if my partner makes REAL for our child something that was a childhood dream for me. Yup, sometimes its all about the stuff.

What Dreams May Come!

And a dear sister- of -the -heart found her happily every after this month so yeaaahhh for good things happening to good people. J and B, all my prayers for the journey ahead.

And what happens to me at the end of this story. Well I have kind of embarked on life as a home-based worker. And I tell you, whether its staying at home making papad and paper bags or rolling chapatis and beedis; life is tough. I dont know how they get their work done with kids jumping into the flour or running away with the scissors, but trying to type at your laptop as a kid clambers over the table demanding Thomas Tank Engine or Wakka Wakka NOW and worrying about being paid is no picnic either. And there is bitterness and the Dream of Making My Own Money and let it be something Im passionate about. So this is a call out to all who lurk and might have some ideas. Kindly email me any leads that you think are up my line. I guess anyone who has been reading me all this while knows about my love for popular culture and a filmy view towards politics and more in South Asia!! It will keep a little boy in pampers and the mother in good humour.

For now Im tagging along with The Man to Colombo, as Home Alone had too much dark humour for the kid and me. When I come back a change is gonna come. With the blog header for one. Too many people ruminating about their life and all the somethings in it. Let it be something which declares This is Aneela Z Babar and we have no other branches.

Monday, October 18, 2010

O Maa Meri Pat Rakhiyo Sada

In a constant effort to improve the toddler’s mental horizons (and lest it be said secularism is something I do as a hobby, you know faarigh waqt may I do some light reading, cooking and practice secularism); we embarked this weekend on the Dhaka Durga (Pandal) Darshan.

We took an invitation by the Kumudini Trust as not just a fortuitous incident. The invitation was to watch the celebrations at the family temple in Tangail which in the past fifty years or so has been opened to civilians like us as well. The temple has a history of 400 years, pretty much around the same time we left for Tangail from Dhaka. On a good day the drive should not take more than 90 minutes but considering the driver feels that every time he asks for directions someone out there makes little puppy dogs and babies cry, the building had aged dramatically from its pictures when we got there.

The good people at the gate pointed out the dining hall when we finally got there. Food first, darshan later they cajoled us. How could one argue their immense logic. At the dining hall the toddler jumped head first, no invitations necessary, into the luchi and sabzi. Plucking the potatoes in pickle from the serving bowl, he popped them one after the other into his mouth. Of course at home any effort to give him anything other than the bland kichdi is met with cries of Too Hot. But like Goldilocks before him he found his bowl of Just Right that evening. Sadly there IS no truth in advertising? Dear Coke Ad, My Mom’s Food the best? Sorry, No meri Mummy dey parathey sab se vadiya in this household.

We had to cross a river in a boat for the temple. It was a two minute boat ride and I wondered why a simple footbridge could not suffice, until I saw the sentry at the boat-stand in action. He was more of a border guard for class, culture to keep what he saw as unsavoury elements away. Sorry only bhadralok need apply. We could only catch the end of the opera being performed courtesy our Late Latif entry but whatever we could catch that evening was “ the real deal” if you know what I mean. Unlike neighbouring pandal which played authentic pujo hymns like Soni Dey Nakhrey.

Two observations: Bhansali needs to be thrashed for Dola Re Dola-ing Durga Puja for us.

And 2) the name of the tailor who specialises in Ethnic Garb for the Discerning Tourist. Who is this who is responsible for the flood of “Flowery Drawstring Trouser matched with Mirrored Kurti where Side Slit ends at Armpit “ look for the Token White Person who like totally “digs it dude” such evenings.

And the campus for the Kumudini Trust is amazing, and their generosity of spirit and resources commendable. That evening we went to bed vowing of similar large heartedness, of course it is easier for us to have such grand intentions when all our worldly possessions are our laptops, books and mortgages.

Kindly pursue pictorial record considering a picture is worth a thousand or so words.

On the second day we trotted down to Old Dhaka. And took these pics.

Not that I am a big fan of Reading the Body to make pronouncements on someone’s cultural politics but well there are times I have to make an exception. Proof that there are still some out there who are secure enough in their faith to participate in the significant moments of their fellow citizens.

We ended our evening at the Jagannath Hall at Dhaka University .

and I tried to beat my personal best for Phuchka Eating. Sorry, we are desi only. No Tequila Shots. Only Gol Gappa Shots

The final day was the Money Talks and How pandal at the more prosperous suburb Banani.

And I realised that the Bengali depiction for the three goddesses is more generously endowed in the Beyonce region than any others. Or is it just me who thinks they are more wide hipped? Any anthropologists out there?

So all in all three very beautiful days for us, and cliched though it may sound a right royal feast of sights and sounds. Sunday evening, households in Dhaka retired to their hilsa preparation which is kind of a Dashami tradition here. But considering in recent days Fish Are Friends and Not Food for Us, we got high on carbs and our love for the city instead.

Hope all of you had an equally fun weekend. Drop me a line if you can, for I hear every time I get a comment on my blog an angel gets its wings.

Edited to Add: Right after I clicked publish, a blog dost told me about all the fun at Beyond Five Days. Head out there!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

By The Water Cooler

Yes, gasp no filmy title. But this is my entry for a contest being run by Parul Sharma (who writes the amazing blog Radio Parul and is author to two books Bringing Up Vasu and By the Water Cooler).BoldClick here for details.
And for all those out there who just want the regular " lyrics to popular song" title, let it be Mujh Sey Pehli Si Muhabbat Merey Mehboob Na Mang.

If you are into all things etymology, what a wonderful story behind the Urdu term daftar for the English office . It comes from the Arabic daftarun (account book), which in turn is derived from the Greek diphthera "skin, hide, piece of leather". (This, of course, is the reason why evil office managers in South Asia think its their dharma , their farz to have your hide every time the printer runs out of toner) .
I tried looking up for the English word roots for 'office' . I think it is something along the lines of Space of Solitary Confinement where humble serfs sprang upon and made popular the game Solitaire.

My first job while still in Year 12 kind of spoiled me for work later--it was recommending a list of (Pakistani) Punjabi movies for an Education without Literacy project. I did not speak a word of Punjabi when I began, but at the end of the two months I could recognize my Rahi from a Mahi-vey .I think it is also the reason why I continue to have a " healthy" body image rather than the Stick Insects who were watching Palthrow the same year. However that cant be my story for today as my TV room, an office space does not make.

Well this fun filmy job and visits to sarkari (government) offices and banks over the coming years were enough to put the fear of the Lord (and offices) in any young person. Could one only wear nylon salwar kameez and woolen cardigans to work? Was a nose pin and tu tu main main with the office clerk part of the job description? How many jumpers did I have to knit and oranges peel as part of the year end target? Could Butt saheb from the next cubicle really kill someone softly with his song Gulon May Rang Bharey? My most surreal encounter was asking one such specimen to 'process a certificate' as he irately fended me off with a 'We lost a match yesterday , all of us are still in depression and you want to indulge in this nonsense'.
A morose voice behind him then chimed "Kasmi Allah Pak ki not a sip of tea I can swallow".
" Oh and I , our candidate took up the challenge " I have not eaten anything since yesterday evening's samosa"

After a brief stint at a "Mr Right-(for) Now" kind of office, I did end up working for the kind of people one can reminisce about quite fondly. I realise I have spent over a decade looking back at that stage in my life compared to the twenty months I spent there! Has there ever been a pension plan for being somewhere in spirit ? This was a place which was truly part of the whole Guru-Shisksha experience and which provided a forum for me to unlearn all the horrible right-wingness that was part of my twenty-somethingness. I was lucky to find a mentor who is now part of the Significant Soul Sisters group I have going on for me and colleagues who have kept me alive in their oral histories (and I am very flattered to find out have compiled a list of what they say were all the witty lines I threw at them).

I have written elsewhere in this blog about telling Arhaan

"tales of working in Islamabad and escaping to the roof top to enjoy the winter sun and the cups of chai and stolen smokes for some. We would look down (both literally and figuratively) at the suited booted lipstick jungle of the corporate world next door. Im sure they made fun of us becharis who wore sneakers and behen ji clothes to work."

The office at one time was housed in one of the 1960s kothis Islamabad was famous for-- a sprawling bungalow that might once have hosted a family that would only read the newspaper Dawn at the breakfast table and couldnt live without their bed tea (or as some might remember it , the chota hazri). They went for evening walks and The Club for them was not something to bludgeon infidels attending New Year parties with. Like cities elsewhere in our part of the world these bungalows are now cash cows to house either the expats or the city's experts (on all that ails Pakistan). We did move out to a ' proper' office and I happily moved on to a grad program. But we all miss those days working in close quarters (and the servant quarters). We wondered what it would be like to revisit some day, for I think the owner's family moved back. I know I would have to move their shoes and suitcases as my cubicle was in someone's dressing room. There were also some poor souls who for all their strategic placing of photographs and posters on the tiled walls knew that their computer was where previously stood the bathroom sink. How would it be for them to knock on the door one day as exiles returning do at times . " This was my entire world once , you will say as you step in" we teased them. ""Here is where I deliberated on climate change and here on the changing demography".
" Woh sab tau theek hai" will squeak a voice at you, " but can you wait till I flush first?"

I moved on to work in other offices and other cities but like all smitten by the Great First Loves it was a case of Mujh Sey Pehli Si Muhabbat Merey Mehboob Na Mang.

And one winter morning I stood on a street in Melbourne as a sea of office workers poured out from the station. Waves of black streaming past me ashen faces in concentration. A grid of black and white newspapers readying to be unfurled by suits at caf├ęs and I asked myself 21 centuries of humanity and this is the best we can do? I didnt exactly throw away the office keys but I seriously questioned what I was doing with my life. And so I sit at my laptop every day from then on and try to find (and give) some answers.

Yes, I miss it some time. Like when I watch Ugly Betty and the excellent lines Marc and Amanda throw at each other. I miss having someone to exchange cutting chai lines with, I miss my Marc and having someone to bitch with (and why I am so thrilled that my blog introduced me to Parul). But Im hoping one day I can teach some of my Sarcasm with a Smiley Face to Arhaan. After all it is as KJo says All about Lovin Your Family. But sometimes and I repeat Sometimes you can be very lucky (as I was Once upon a Time in Islamabad) and it can be all about Loving Your Office as well.