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 www.99labels.com
    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 – http://www.99labels.com/v1/Become-Member.aspx?re=xyz@gmail.com
  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 http://blog.99labels.com/2010/10/25/wedding-week-blogging-contest/.
  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 marketing@99labels.com
So what are you waiting for?? Blog away to glory!
Everyone wins!
Topic : My dream wedding – Simple or lavish?"