Sunday, December 23, 2012

Ek Tu Hi Bharosa

who knew that the world was so eager to prove the mayans right?
that we were so eager to reach deep within the recesses of the horizon to drag a canopy of qayamat over our world?
that we would conspire with the timekeepers to speed up an era of kalyug?

Well we know now

2012 was the year when I had planned to be less concerned about what was happening outside my door ..Sorry.

I made myself comfortable in my home rationed the outside world had been selfish about meeting people never bought a TV when I moved to India (january will mark 12 months of being TV free..well we are not Amish we would watch TV when we were in a hotel but you know what I mean) resisted the temptation to rant at the newspaper steeled my heart to all the bombs blasts blunders. This was a year when I would hold your hand and tell you "I am sorry for your loss"but move on not allowing my thoughts to linger. Willing myself the world is a lost cause and I need to choose your battles

I also decided to do a Julie Julia project of my own
If we are what we eat what would it be like to cook one meal (or two) each day from the kitchen of someone I loved once and then kind of brain washed myself to lose (a former guru)

And trained the boy to be a fairly decent sous chef


But that is not how the world works

The world is sneaky

It creeps under the door even when you have bolted it shut

It will tap at the windows and force you to look up

And it will park itself across the road from you 

Read about Delhi and you will know

And something else happened last month

A young man trying to escape a burning building in Karachi hung from a window ledge for hours before plunging to his death while people just looked up and stared

Mohammad Hanif (as ever) wrote a beautiful op/ed about the anguish of living in times when people know only how to look up at the heavens hands outstretched and not have the initiative (or wits) to take matters in their own hand (or words to that effect) The incident happened next to a whole sale cloth market. No one ran away  to grab a carpet, or a bed sheet or a mattress and hold it up. For you know we would rather stare at the skies dumb founded.

And this is my dilemma 

I CANNOT now withdraw myself from the world you see

for damn it

That could be my kid on the ledge one day 

And I have to continue shaking up the world from its shoulders just enough so someone is out there to hold him when he falls

We are altruistic with just the right tadka of selfishness

And then for all the terrible terrible foolish things I did as a young woman 

for all the risks I took on and escape unscathed

And that today my class provides a rape suraksha kavach  , so I can afford to be oblivious not "aware", dressed for comfort not a character certificate, can forget to look at the watch forget my chaperon and mobile...

so when the arrows rained down, for rain down they will, they felled  someone who did everything right.

So I cant give myself permission to stay in
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

This Saturday Arhaan had a Christmas party at school
and so thrilled was I to get a weekend reprieve and an extra three hours Child Free I must have been one of the first parents to drop him off
I was so early that most of the staff was yet to arrive (forget Santa) 
So as I was leaving his class room and looked back over my shoulder I could see the Bathroom Didis entering the building
And watched them touch the door step that leads into the bathroom  kiss their fingers then touch their heary their eyes  closed with great reverence
And dear Reader I was shaken to my core
I think of myself most days 
Though every day is a "working day" I am still programmed to paint my Monday a Monday Blue
I will squabble with my husband over "who works more"
I nod understandingly as friends bitch about their work place
All of our popular culture reference are about shitty work places
And here is someone who will spend her whole day actually cleaning up my kid's shitty bum
And she treats it like worship
Made you go Awww no?
My husband when I told him did shrug his shoulders and pacified me with a Yara For Them Their Work Sustains Them Ghar Chalta Hai
As if our salary slip doesnt?
It has been that kind of month
One quick punch in the guts after another

And then something else happened. The other morning when the boy and me had another run of "I Love You Baby I Love You Mama Oh Why Do You Love Me Baby" rather than his stock answer "But I love Baba?" or "I only love you in summers" he said he loved me "For All Your People You Bring Home And My Friends" And I decided to list friends some old some new who visited our home this year, shared a meal, spent a week. People  who I"bring  home  so they become a friend to the boy" for a Facebook post. Turned out the final number was 31. And I think of Nur Jehan tip toeing around the subject of her paramours and then once people suggest names and she hems and haws and the list grows and grow so she throws up her hands and says all exasperated Na Na Karde Vi 17 Hogaye
so I have been a very bad recluse too!


And as I leave on my annual Southern Hemisphere sojourn
And it will be next year we meet

Lets get Lata to work her magic
(though I have to still make up mind about her after all her eulogies for the dear departed Thakeray)


But there is no denying Lata and A R Rahman have been a balm for my sore soul


This is also lovely even though over here we have to ignore Danny Dengzopa's Amanullah Khan in the clip



Keep Calm
It is just sad that at times Keeping Kaam Se Kaam doesnt help
We have to meddle in
For you know otherwise the crazies win



Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hazraat Ek Zaroori Eelaan

This is really neat.



Magazine name: Papercuts

Focus: New writing, emerging writers, South Asia

Deadline: December 5th, 2012

Theme: Prequel. (What happened before the main event? Background, origins, hidden past etc.)
Material being solicited: Poetry and prose. We are also looking for article writers to discuss ideas with and commission reportage pieces to.

Submission details: Guidelines can be found at www.desiwriterslounge.net/papercuts/submissions and entries must be sent to editor.papercuts@desiwriterslounge.net

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Gali Mein Aaj Chand Nikla

..and to think we are entering into Diwali season, and I still havent done my Eid-ul-Adha post! Well I dont know if I have written about it here, but it seems that I am in charge of keeping Arhaan's class room Shariah compliant. I had given a small presentation for Chothi Eid and the spirit of Ramzan. It involved some puppets , much emphasis on living a disciplined life, basically trying to brain wash them out of thinking Eid as a Muslim social; but you know how it is with a desi audiences. All they want to know is when will the speech end and the Big People serve  kheer. So that is how my first encounter with his class went.

I guess they liked what they saw for the principal asked me to do something for Bari Eid too. We were going to be away for Eid (Kochi! which deserves a post of its own) so I decided to write something and see what the teachers make of it. In the process of writing the Eid story I realised more than the spirit of sacrifice (which we are reminded of every year) the Eid story is about "faith" and perhaps some things that will always remain mysterious (or  should I say unfathomable?) but let it go, Aneela, and trust the grown ups. I thought about little Ismael and his parents. Dad has a dream. Mom loses him in the desert. And nary a Norwegian Child Care Worker in sight. But the parents pulled through with a little help from God. So that is what I am going to do this year. Stop believing I have all the answers, and therefore I can question. For we dont. So we cant.

My current phase of mind was very helpful when The Man and me stepped out to watch English Vinglish. You know those pretty pretty girls who were your seniors in school, most days you would have a girl crush on them? And you meet them after a decade or so in the market, and they seem , well for want of a better word, subdued. With none of the spark and verve you remember from oh has it been that long?  and you think to yourself What Happened? Did We Grow Up? Were They Always Like This? Haw Hai? What Happened to Her? And why oh why did she let this happen to her! School me tau..
Well that was my evening at the cinema, you look at someone you admired so long ago and try to spur her on! Manju would have slapped that brat of a daughter silly to begin with. And when Amitabh counsels Sri Devi's Shashi about wine; sigh! I prompt her for a Madeira? once more and you shake your head and ask yourself They Are Trying to Teach My Sri Devi All This. She dances in secret and you coax her to let the inner Sri Devi out! Guaranteed she could not whip out a chiffon Kaate Nahi but a goody goody good as gold sorry Chandni Sri Devi always had her tandav.
But as ever Sri Devi has her plan. And ours is not to question why. She knows what to do yara, we should sit back and let her take charge and stop asking questions. Why is her husband like this? Why couldnt she choose Mehdi. Her eyes are the same, two clouds drops of coffee, naagin snake nigahen eyes. It is Sri Devi. Sit back. 

And that is why I leave you with this song. References to moon, Hindu-Muslim unity, piya ghar aaya aside, it has a young Kunal Khemu. Let ye who has never questioned now what does that to the Palace born, charming, of some talent, beautiful Soha see in this eh err young chap cast the first stone I say.
But in the spirit of my new resolution ours is not to know. Trust them . Have faith. We need not have all the answers.



Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wah Wah Ram Ji!

So we bid goodbye to a lovely fall-y Berlin-Prague-Vienna (where I not only spent an evening gazing at a full moon over the Charles Bridge 


but caught a concert at the Rudolfinum and got my full paisa vasool ODing over Klimt--Berlin was just food, sorry!)

 to land  right back into Dussehra season in da Dilli.

It has made for interesting conversations.

 8am panic attacks by 3 year olds WHERE IS SITA DO-PATTA, MAMA? WHERE IS SITA DO-PATTA?. words  that I had never imagined I would hear. He has grown all self righteous my boy, pulling Sita's ghoonghat to her knees as he parades the paper puppet-- a triumphant banner now, while I push him in his stroller to school. "Let her breathe yara", perhaps his words have awakened dormant memories for me, memories of  visiting the village a chador covering my face rise to the surface.   But his little heart does not relent, apparently my boy has signed up for the Moral Police.

It has made for far more interesting revelations.
 "Ravan is so naughty so naughty Mama. HE DOESNT LOOK AT THE GREEN MAN CROSSING THE ROAD. DOESNT LOOK LEFT RIGHT". He is also indignant that Ravan is not returning Sita, but mostly it is the bad traffic sense, folks, bad traffic sense. 

I go to sleep giggling at the image of a ten-headed Ravan at the traffic lights looking left right left right left right left right left right left right left right left right left right left right while a Sita squawks at his side trying to wriggle her wrist away. 


So Sita sings the blues, and well as he is after all, a three year old, there are squirrels and there is also a big bird in his story. I forget what Arhaan's Big Bird does , I dont think it is deciding the outcome of Presidential Elections in 'Lanka.

Being his mother's son he has sidelined the male protagonist. Ram sounds  a bit of a slacker and it all ends when Sita sits in such a bee-yoo-tiful chariot. 

The children were invited to take some of their handmade paper puppets home and Arhaan decided on Lakshman and Sita. He quite likes Lakshman, seeing in him a kindred spirit of "Not Exactly Wanting to Be an Over Achiever, bus frame me hona chahiye and be a general good sort".

Yes, that is my boy all right.

Other than giving me an insight into the fascinating world of Ravans and Sitas, he is also teaching me how to blow bubbles. "Just Try Mama. Just Try". I am learning..


Meanwhile the other good bro.



Thursday, September 13, 2012

Kalkatte ka Rajbhog khilaunga, Delhi Ka Sohn Halwa, Mathura ka Peda aur Banaras ka Kalakand.

...and Mamagoto ka Chiang Mai Train Station Noodles

 Khao Beta!

If you have visited the About Me section in Golkamra's side bar you would have noticed my promising to write for food,  promising to write brilliantly if it is yum cha. Well for a meal at Mamagoto and a bite of their excellent Snow Peas and Green Bean Salad I would just sell my family silver 

Or divulge all the deep, dark, secrets you save until Year Eight.


The night before the submission deadline I busied myself posting cheesy updates like 

At the stroke of midnight hour,when the world sleeps,India will awake to the prospect of a free lunch at Mamagoto courtesy 

And I won!

And the universe conspired (just as Shahrukh Khan promised in Om Shanti Om) and Coelho on some coffee mug somewhere, so that it was held on a date Baba was around to babysit Arhaan and I was in town and not a-travelling.

For dear reader, Mamagoto does serious good food.  South-East Asian food to be precise.  But considering I balk at classifications such as "Women Writers" "South Asians Writing in English" and head-meets-wall "Muslim Writers" (as someone once said there is either good writing or bad writing what is this Asian writing?) I would say if you are in the mood of a nice, cheerful place with good food and wait staff who will help you choose when you are stuck for choices ...
go to Mamagoto , go directly to Mamagoto, do not pass go, do not collect 200 (actually yes collect 200 or 2000..and order the Rock Shrimp Tempura )

In another life if someone had asked me for a Thai recipe, or where one could get the best Thai food in town (long time readers know of my history with the Thai-desh) I would suggest a recipe along the lines of

1) Take one or two passports
2) Thai visa according to taste...or as you say in this town swaad anusaar
3) Top it with a flight to Khon Kaen for Isaan food, or Chiang Mai for the best sticky rice or Southern Thailand for Poo Pad Pong Karee (Fried crab meat with yellow curry)

But now I would just say please participate in blog contests ...for as I have told Yashodhara and HarperCollins India, we all knew that good writing or bad  would deliver us our just deserts, but itna sweet desserts? Who Knew?




You should, in fact you must 
go to one of the Mamagoto restaurants in Khan Market, Gurgaon and Vasant Kunj 

Visit their Facebook page for more about them? 6,461 likes and counting cant be wrong.


Now for the reference in the post.

Here are Amol Palekar and Utpal Dutt telling you how it is done. Shobha Khote too.
References to food, terrific actors, and seriously good lines. What is not to like?




Thursday, September 06, 2012

Main Zindagi Ka Saath Nibhata Chala Gaya Har Fikr Ko Dhuain Me Udhata Chala Gaya

Scenes from a South Delhi Household

The Man returns from the armpit of North East India braving rhinos, mosquitoes and people we cannot mention because of confidentiality clauses.

I am sure in most households the Returning Hero is greeted by hugs, prayers, food, perhaps a hot drink.

In ours by a Three Year Old making for your legs screaming  NOW PLAY WITH ME.

And a sharp nosed shrew 

You are stinking. Have you been smoking?

(You may remember an earlier incident where a Have you been smoking, had been fielded with an amateur 
Nahee yara, beykaar may X moonh may phoonk raha tha Someone kept on blowing smoke down my throat

This time the You are stinking. Have you been smoking?
was met with a 
No. Why? Should I be Smoking?

The Three Year Old jumps around the house 
Should I be smoking? Should I be smoking?

Of course not. I scold him, followed by a Kiyoo beta? who smokes?

I think what he wanted to say was Dude I am Three Years Old. I Just Thought It Was a Cool Word.

But he plonked himself in his chair  and flung his arms Mama I dont even know what is smoke.

Clever. Very Clever.

But then there are nights when he keeps running away from the bed, pulling up the blinds. Let Me Check If It Is Morning Time and just as I am ready to doze off he will pry open my eyelids Mama You Were Right It Is Still Night Time

On nights like this we write
And remind ourselves
THESE ARE THE BEST YEARS OF MY LIFE. YAY!

And listen to this.

I am really not sure whether it is Dev sahib or the cigarettes.
But all ye who sleep tonight
You are Missed.







Monday, August 27, 2012

Wah Wah Raam Ji Jodi Kiya Banayi

Seriously!
So we spent the Eid long weekend in Goa..just as the first community to fast would have. Should have! My mother in her Eid phone call said something along the lines of Wah! What An Achievement For The Family. Hamare Khandaan Me Ye Tou Kisi Ne Nahi Kiya Hoga. Hill stations yes, having the family lunch in a restaurant yes. Going to the village, done that. But Goa, no not that.
She is funny that woman, seriously funny.

So coming to the jodi,  though Goa has us all impressed on many many fronts. (enough to ask Gman some 3456.478 times So Why Dont We Live Here? Why Cant You Work From Here? ) Also moaning to my friends Dhatkar Hai Aisi Zindagi Par where you have to sleep in a bed that is not a four poster lace canopy optional, your clothes hanging in a wooden armoire, your feet stepping on a mosaic floor.
What Really Had Me Going Wow! is how cars (and the occasional scooter) are so color coordinated to their surrounds. 
One Sunday afternoon as the lanes siesta-ed, the  strains of an opera wafted through lace curtained windows, mid afternoon sonatas rather than (hangs head in shame) dhinchak dhinchak , mai aur mera camera aksar ye baate karte


Peace Out Bro! Its Sukh Sagar Haven of Peace Indeed

Yes, Mera Wala Peela



Oh how the green of the scooty picks up the foliage in the hanging baskets. Kamaal Hai


Not Fantastic1 Not Knock Your Socks Off. Just Appropriate. Munasib si Taleem


Oh The Crisp Clean Lines

There will be other pics from the trip ..and hopefully Goa inspired words popping up.
For after a long long time being domestic in Delhi we have started embracing travel again.
On moments like this I channel my inner Juhi Chawla making her debut in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak.
ab qismat ne hume aisi rah pe daal diya hai ke na jaane kab tak yoo gol gol bathakte phirenge tou thoda bahut ek doosre ke baare me jaana acha hota hai
Acha hota hai na (Insert Puppy Dog Eyes)
Some people memorized their Physics Notes
I stuck to filmy lines.
As I Happy Houred in Goa, my thoughts did flit to them for a moment or two and I wondered a little how  that worked out for them

Now my song for today.
Its cliched
Its very 80s
But then I would not have it any other way

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The "Just Married, Please Excuse" Contest

yes it is amazing how much I can milk that day for!  Full paisa vasool signing that register I say.
So pehle the rules:


It's really very, very simple - 

1. You write a post on your blog, describing an incident aboutsomething funny that has happened to you as a part of married life, preferably when you were 'Just Married'. (By 31st August 2012)

2. HarperCollins and I (WHERE I IS Ms. YASHODHARA LAL) select the 20 best entries and they will be sent copies of her book; and 10 Delhi-based bloggers get to join her and VK Karthika, (Chief Editor of HarperCollins and all round super-cool person) for a leisurely Saturday lunch at the new Mamagoto outlet in Gurgaon for some really great food ( I'm told the Khan Market outlet is never less than packed, and for good reason). Oh, and there'll be some good conversation too :).


Some things to keep in mind to be eligible for this contest: (Yashodhara  picked these up fromParul's earlier contests)

1. The Title of your post should be The 'Just Married, Please Excuse' Contest 
2. Please include in your post a link back to this post, so that your blog readers know what the heck is going on, and more people can participate.
3. Please leave a link to your entry in the comments section to this post.
4. In case you don't have a blog of your own, do leave your entry in the comments section to this post and we will consider that story, too. In case you face issues while commenting, email me your story at yashodhara dot lal at gmail dot com (But only up to two such comment/email entries can win, so you better make it funny)
5.Note -If you're not married, but still want to participate, you can do it - just tell us about a funnyJust Married story about someone you know! 



OK now getting to my entry. I will concentrate on the JUST. So Just So JUST that the ink on the nikahnama is still wet and liable to smudge your fingers. (Dear Ms Y, I should get 5 extra marks just for this). I will also for the 20 bonus points give you  examples of wackiness in my family when it comes to all things nuptial over three generations and some more. Wah! wah! For as my sister quoted one day "Insanity does not run in my family. Rather, it strolls through, taking its time, getting to know everyone personally"..and what better occasion to show you this,  than when we are just done I-doing


Let us begin with my grandfather. Solid aadmi, pucca JAG officer, proud Father of the Bride.  Fifteen minutes post wedding lunch. The boy's family (bear in mind the groom is the only son, sisters ready to rock this party) just getting into the groove, the bride (youngest daughter of the family (maa ki ladli, apple of dad's eye) is settling in for a prolonged crying "bid the bride" goodbye session once all the dancing is done. 
The Father of the Bride looks at his watch. Ab aisa hai its siesta time for me now. So if you are leaving now, tou I will see the couple to the door. Otherwise best of luck kids. Toodle-loo!
This is my family's commitment to their mid-afternoon shut eye. Impressed?
Kamaal hai! Brigadier sahib had his lunch, saw off the newly married couple, drove his family home, settled in for his afternoon snooze and still had time to read the morning papers.

And then there are the cousins. One has just had her nikah read to the love of her life. Everyone has said their duas and are congratulating each other. For some insane reason her younger sister has been referring to the brother-in-law as Mamoo (maternal uncle) for most of her young adult life. I am sure it has been explained This Must Stop. He aint even a brother. "CONGRATULATIONS MAMA! FINALLY MY BROTHER IN LAW" her voice pipes up. Maulvi sahib (subtitles) SWEET JESUS! WHAT IN THE @#$%% HAVE I LANDED MYSELF INTO! LETS GO THROUGH THAT NIKAH-NAAMA AGAIN.

And then there was me. 
Who had decided many many years ago that  she would not do something as plebian as get married khudaya!
But well one day I realized I had to either marry the guy or put him on some kind of pension for services rendered over a decade.
But of course I would not "settle down" for the typical typical smile benignly from a sofa on a stage, ghoonghat to her knees, fifteen kids pulling my dupatta, aunts counting one's necklaces, booking a shaadi hall, or settling for one of those garden  banuets. No, no my day is going to be different. Far from the madding crowds. There will be water, yes. Check. Sun set, mellow light, check. Angrez type celebrant, yes! And food which has no Urdu subtitles. Also passion fruit consomme curlicues when they slice up the cake. Does your firni come with that hainjee?
So this was the venue.
Please admire.

 Clothes  ready. Mom pacified. WHAT IF I FREEZE TO DEATH IN MY  SARI? she asks me THIS IS NO SPRING. YOU SAID IT WAS SPRING HERE!

I was wearing a little bit of the new, a little bit of the old world
All set for a  classy sunset ceremony by the sea. First road block. The make up artist. You mention South Asia. You add wedding. And she has googled Bollywood Heroines and I look like Baby Nimmi meets Jaya Prada. 
And then as you drive to the venue you understand what the caterer meant by "you do know what date it is?" It is the evening of the Grand Final, the most important day in the sports calendar for a football crazy city.. The city puts up giant screens in parks and grounds so everyone can follow it. There will be a lot of beer, barbie (BBQ) and boyz involved. And then there is me,  all decked up. So I did not want crowds ogling at me in my wedding finery? Did not want to be up on a wedding stage, cameras going crazy?
 well was it or was it not poetic justice that I find myself crossing the road wearing my mother’s wedding gharara with football fans, toddlers, uncles , auntyji, picnic hampers, cars honking away, . .. and the other half of the city going Hai! Woh Dekho Dulhan.

I will end with ...no its not someone from my family, but someone I knew as a kid. Some time earlier this year this pic went viral. It was part of the mehendi (pre-wedding) celebrations. The groom's friends dressed up as Darth Vader and I believe StormTrooper meets Feudal Lord Henchman. The groom came and "fought" with DarthVader for his girl. I think the bride just decided to get her Princess Leia costume back from the dry cleaners in time for the wedding.



Now if this doesn't get me a seat at your table Yashodara, I don't know what will.



Saturday, August 18, 2012

Chaand mera dil Chaandni Ho Tum



The other day there was a meme on Twitter ..something along the lines of IF PARTITION HAD NOT HAPPENED..of course there was much hand wringing on the Super Cricket Team,  driving down to Lahore for Iftaris..but looking back at the year so far I would be meh..nothing would have changed. Perhaps we would have had twice as many Ruet e Hilal Committees failing to spot the Ramzan et Eid moon.
For now as Eidi may I leave you with some pics of our travels this year so far.
Uttrankhad nee Uttranchal and Orchha and Khajuraho from the enigmatic Madhya Pradesh
Tera Hai Na Mera Hai yeh hai Tehri Dam

Quick check for Mandakini frolicking under a waterfall. OK beta this  is Gangotri and the other -dhams



Khajuraho--and the blush of an apsara's  cheek.  Uff  the karigari  of  yore

Jahangir Mahal, Orchha

But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?--Orchha division

For you know Ladies Parks are so  last year

Jahangir Mahal, Orchha..you know the Changa Manga of yester year . Some things dont change  

The Mile High Club Then and Now

Rough cut. Woody Allen's Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) 


Monday, August 13, 2012

Kaise karun mein bayaan dil ki nahi hai zubaan Aaiye meherbaan baithiye jaane jaan

Seriously how does one? I have a major "Mother, may I ?" moment coming up. But I am mighty chuffed at the mention, so without much ado I will direct you towards An Indian's Summer's home tour of my ghareeb khaana
Whether you click on it is of course all up to you.

What I have no qualms recommending is Yashodara Lal's and Diptakirti Chaudhri's book projects that were out just a couple of weeks ago. Diptakirti I have long "patronized" as I found shades of Dibakar Banerjee (both Bengalis in Delhi finding work in Bombay) and now Yashodara assures me of her Some percentage of Bongness sometimes Bombay sometimes Delhi-ness so I am taking all this VERY SERIOUSLY.

So on to Yashodara and her latest baby JUST MARRIED PLEASE EXCUSE

But before that two confessions.


Though I firmly believe that books make for the best present, I usually gift people a book voucher rather than gifting them a book per se..this as I believe "imposing" my taste in books or what the NYT BestSeller is telling us a particular week, equals a well-meaning aunt steering you towards the trial room "Oh but sweetheart this colour looks so GREAT on you". So, there are very few books that allow me to rethink my cardinal rule "THOU SHALT NOT FORCE"


Now coming to my second disclosure (we will come back to the first a bit later)there was a reason why I pre-booked Yashodara Lal's first novel without biting my finger nails down,"Would it do OK?" Something along the lines of why I do not stress that much when a Dipankar Banerjee releases or a Kashyap (they will do fine)
while I would for a Reema Kagti (her work is edgy, and I love it but would the audiences be kind and make it a hit?)

Yashodara's words have been a friend for a long, long time (she runs a really brilliant blog--and contrary to popular opinion, that the first novel is the fine art of recycling the Best Of, "Just Married, Please Excuse" is the actual act after she is done making her opening jokes on the blog.

So as I was saying Lal's words have been a friend during a particular turbulent time in my personal (and South Asia's) political history. Yes sometimes the personal IS political, and 2008 with all the nightmares that plagued Islamabad and Bombay, the two cities of my heart; and my own questions about being pregnant, it were Lal's words that kept me from going to a very dark, dark, place in my mind.

Her book, which has been launched just this month will be the new Chicken Soup for the Angst Ridden Woman. It has been on my bedside all of this week and though I finished it (as I do most books that I love) the first night of its arrival, I have been reaching out to it and re-reading certain parts. Scratch the chicken soup reference, it is my dark chocolate for days when I am mom to a pre-schooler and fasting for Ramzan. If this doesnt get you running to the book store I do not know what will!

"Just Married, Please Excuse" is not just about relationships in an increasing urbanizing India, or about small time India meeting an increasingly fast paced and demanding big city,or even all the cliches of modern marriage and the pressures of love (lives) in the times of cleaning baby poop. It is about how in spite of all the talk of new "truths" for new times, of growing up in a time when a significant section of young South Asia is living away from their families, with a good number choosing to live in, modern relationships (with all my anxieties of using the word MODERN) and modern South Asia might not be that different from that of the generation before. Also if both partners in a relationship have some "team rules" (I refuse to use the word "compromise") they will get by with the help of their friends, and sometimes SPOILER ALERT their parents.

And regards my BOOK GIFTING KA EK RULE.

Yesterday evening I visited a new mum. Along with the ubiquitous cute dress for the baby and chocolates for the new parents, I made a goody bag for the new mother which I hope will keep her sane once the happy hormones start wearing off. That goody bag contained a copy of "Just Married...."

Consider it 260 pages of pure endorphin.


And Chaudhri's KITNAY AADMI THAY  will fingers (and toes crossed) become the Dil Chahta Hai of our generation. It is cool, shuns away from The Formula, but is still reverential to the dictum that Script is King (and will remain forever the book you wish you had written/film you had made). 

Other than Desai's "Nehru's Hero Dilip Kumar: In the Life of India" I have yet to read anything that unpacks the tale of how life in South Asia imitates art and vice versa how/what we watched reflected the life and times of a particular generation.


It will also put many a younger sister or frenemy out of commission--you know the one with which you have a standing agreement, that you may conduct a Cold War with them all month but you can wake them up at 2am with niggling questions of (film related) life (Neeley Neeley Amber Par is the soundtrack to ?, who went "Pallo" in a movie and ruined three years of a good crush, who was Anita Raj and which one was Amrita Singh). KAT answers all those queries and then some more.

Anyone who knows me knows how seriously I take my Bollywood, and how I frown on pretenders to the "I Too Love Bollywood" mantle (as a certain "academic" who tried his hand at Bolly history may tell you)..some may say the only reason I submitted the Phd dissertation was to prove to mom and disapproving relatives that a lifetime of watching Bollywood and TV does AMOUNT to something (Ive sneaked that somewhere in the acknowledgments )...so when I say THIS BOOK IS IMPORTANT I do not write in jest.

When it comes to what constitutes as religion for us desis: Chaudhri has given us his take on two, Cricket and Bollywood (read his Cricket! All You Wanted To Know about the World Cup! if you have not already); and accomplished it quite admirably what remains now is his tome on Politics. 

He could of course just hurry up with the sequel to KAT.

You trust me dont you?

So settle down, draw up a chair, read a book ...or just visit the links and tell me did I pass your critic's test or not?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

R.A.T Rat. Rat Maane Chooha

Oh hello there.
I never knew it would come to this, you know.
That I would become one of those super obnoxious people who would be all friendly, making you listen to all of their stories, when they were down and out. Everyone has that one emotionally needy person, and I am afraid I was yours THAT.
And you would kind of get used to that person, and some of the stories were kinda entertaining. So you would tune in now and then, invite the friend over for a coffee or something.
And then that friend made friends, moved to a cool place, and the phone calls kind of became a monthly feature, and very hurried. The call became an email where s/he would always promise to catch up, perhaps watch a movie together and you would believe them for some time, and wait for that call/email. And then one day you see them at the movies with a group of people and they are having a LOT OF FUN and you catch their eye and they are like "Oh, hell! Would you believe me if I told you...."
Yes, I think you get the picture.
So was I a fair weather friend?
Was this blog just something to fill in time until I learned to love life and live it or whatever the phrase is
I think minor pity parties aside I have been a fairly happy person
So this isnt it. And Delhi though opening up a whole new world to me, and bringing many, many fun people to my life...so that I have a "group" and I have something of a fortnightly salon at my place where a bunch of interesting people come over and we have a nice meal and "scintillating conversation" and I am relaxed as they all appear to love Arhaan and Arhaan them. And I am never stressing about leaving a discussion mid-way for I have to head off home to check on The Man and The Three Year Old for hey, I AM HOME! So yes that is good.
But the city has also allowed me a place where I am at peace at myself. And every Sunday, the three of us give ourselves the GIFT OF GETTING BORED. Its fun, you should try it some time. So you know we decided not to get a TV (also a microwave, and the mobile signal is really crappy in our home, and there is a really ancient phone in the entrance...leading my mother in law to comment it is like entering 1922!) ..so yes I was saying no TV, no going out in the car, it is the help's day off--so no pressure to clean up and look productive so the help doesnt judge us (hey, why pretend? you know we are all afraid of THAT LOOK!) so we lie around in our pyjamas, read the papers, moan and complain about the weather, make plans to youtube SatyamevJayate one of these Sundays, and then move to another room and repeat this process. By evening we are dying to go out for a walk at least, we try walking for a block, quickly give up as it is soo quiet and soo humid. Go home, take a bath and hey actually look forward to Monday! But seriously, it is really nice...it is like a spa for the mind, minus the aromatherapy oils and calculating tips.
I have had a birthday since I last wrote. The Man was away but hey, I trained him well. So there was a surprise gift and later a cake delivered. MY WORK HERE IS DONE. And an aunt-in-law took me out for lunch, and the three year old was invited for a play date so I had some time to just sit and count my blessings. And yes there were a LOT of phone calls and cards and well by the end of the day I just felt very loved and blessed, considering this was the year I thought I would just let it slip under the radar. Please dont hate me. I swear I am not one of the " shiny, happy" people. At least not yet.
And there was Kathmandu for a week to meet a mom who was a-conferencing. There was some more of the "at peace with the world" kind of holidaying, where we just lazed around in a nice serviced apartment in the hills, far, far away from the maddening Kathmandu crowds, cooked our own food, the 3 year old got to watch Ceebeebies the whole time we were there. And we saw the most amazing rainbows.






Case in point.


And then we returned to Delhi, where we were counselled to "be careful about how you (women) dress... Aping the west blindly is eroding our culture and causing such (sex)crimes to happen."
DANG! for you all know it was their sexual liberties and mindless just mindless consumerism that made me move here. Ab yaha bhi chador dhoondni paryegi.


And I hear now that Islam too has made it this side of Wagah and alas this means one too  has to fast.
Yaar.

So it is Ramzan for us.
And I think I am doing OK.

Other than preparing to call-in THIS Mufti saheb,
the ticker says something like Saudi Arabia's famous mufti broke into tears on live TV when a Somalian Muslim asked him whether his fast can be considered a fast if he has not eaten anything for sehri and iftar (the morning meal and the one with which we break our fast).
Leading to the meme YOU COULD BUY PAKORAS RATHER THAN SPENDING THE MONEY ON AN INTERNATIONAL PHONE CALL.






Actually the mufti broke into tears because I kept on quizzing him whether my fast could still be considered one as I have impure thoughts all the time after youtubing David Beckham in THAT suit steering THAT speedboat and oh Bhaijaan ki smile. MASHERZZZZ!!

Also  this evening as I started composing this blog entry, a mouse broke into the study...I obviously screamed and the security guard ran in. He asked for a broom and swung around a cane. And then the 3 Year Old exhibiting really quick thinking grabbed his flute. PIED PIPER FOR THE WORLD..and there was I screaming instructions,  the guard thrashing about with the broom and the 3 Year Old screeching away merrily at the flute. The mouse was caught and released to the wild. And Master A started whooping "IT WORKED IT WORKED"



So yes, you were saying 
How come I dont write any more?

Need more laughs?
Watch this