Saturday, January 31, 2009


I really am fed up to my teeth about my, well, teeth (or whatever remains of them). I’m a veteran visitor at the dentist’s, and I’m sure he’s planning an academic research paper on the subject of my teeth.

Various kinds of civil construction work continue to take place inside my mouth, leaving me feeling distinctly uncivil.

I’ve had root canals, metal crowns, ceramic crowns (in the inverted world of dental logic, steel crowns are more expensive than gold crowns, and ceramic ones are the costliest – figure that out), bridges and other architectural marvels in my mouth. Does that make me a big-mouth? I shudder to think what my real teeth look like under all that reconstruction. A bomb-hit, devastated, charred-and-filed to bits archaeological ruins of what was once a white and wince-free city?

I’ve had two wisdom teeth taken out. The remaining two should, by definition, make me a half-wit.

And now, I’ve got to go for another bridge-work, adding to the existing two. With the number of canals and bridges that I have, I sometimes feel like an oral replica of the city of Venice (and here I was hoping to be a Venus with a perfect smile).

So, there I’ll be again – in the dentist’s scary-chair, open-mouthed and resigned to my fate, wincing at the drill and blinking at the light. Oh, for the toothless joys of infancy/old age! Maybe, that is much less painful than the ruthless re-shaping of my dental geography.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I've always felt that 15 August is a day when we celebrate our Independence from the shackles of the past, our liberation from servitude to another nation, our freedom from the imperial British bondage.

And 26 January is a day when we celebrate our founding fathers' vision for our future. The Constitution embodies the hopes and dreams of what India should be, it is a blueprint for the future and the building blocks of the present.

And so, on Republic Day, while it is all very well to garland photographs of freedom-fighters and pay homage to past leaders, it is more important to tell our students and children about the significance of our Constitution, so that we can learn and follow about our duties and rights, about how the government and citizens can together build the nation - a sovereign socialist secular democratic republic, each nomenclature lending meaning to and completing the others. It is a time to renew our pledge that in our own small way we will contribute to the making of our nation. We will stand up for justice, we will fight for liberty, ensure equality and foster fraternity. It is a time to affirm, "Yes, we can", and promise, "Yes, we will."

Saturday, January 24, 2009


The Copy-kitten (my younger daughter) sleeps uneasily, groping for contact, tossing her head, mumbling in her sleep. Sometimes she dreams of conflicts and protests aloud confusedly, in a variety of languages. The first dream I recall was one where she cried out, “Maithili maarti hai” (Maithili is hitting me), Maithili being her best-friend-who-can-and-often-does-turn-into-worst-enemy. Often she sits up in her sleep, crying “aamaro chai” (I also want) …some indeterminate, indecipherable object, or “amio korbo/ jaabo” (I’ll also do/go)…again something or somewhere which we cannot fathom. A hug and a soothing hand are usually enough to calm her down, but on rare occasions her phantom-struggles break into loud and long-drawn sobs that refuse to be pacified easily.

Her entire life revolves round the expression "amio", “ME, TOO”. Her aim in life (awake or asleep) is to grow up double-quick and become as old as her sister (the Lil Cat) and do the things that everybody else does. Even in her dreams she is in a hurry to catch up with the others, maybe that is why her sleep is full of unrest.

Being a younger sibling must be a competitive kind of an experience sometimes (NOT all the time, obviously). My elder daughter, timid and rather shy when awake, sleeps in peace and dreams with a smile. The younger one, spunky, confident and cheerful (if rather stubborn) when awake, has fractious and contentious issues in her dreams, battling imaginary demons, fighting to create her own space, even in sleep.

On her third birthday, apart from the millions of things that mothers usually wish their child to have, I pray for her to enjoy the bliss of calm sleep, full of soothing dreams, every single night, as much as I pray for her to have happy, busy, days.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


This evening, the spouse returned from a work-related three-day trip to Bangalore. Joy and jubilation all around, because the kids had been missing him madly. (Yester-night, the copy-kitten, my younger daughter, had jumped when the doorbell rang, shouting "Baba is back" in the face of the surprised andawalla - person who sells eggs door-to-door - so badly was she missing her father).

The spouse gave her and her elder sister, Lil Cat, the freshen-up tissues given on flights. Their smiles could've lit up the runway. They opened the small grey packets with whoops of joy, smelt the fragrance like connoisseurs, ooh-ing and aah-ing, wiped their darling faces many many times, stuck the wet tissues on the mirror as part of a "magic trick" and fell blissfully asleep with the near-dry and crumpled tissues under their pillows, perfuming their dreams and wafting in their sighs.

When was the last time such a small thing made me so ecstatically happy? I guess childhood is all about finding joy in the newness of experiences. But when we begin to put a material value to happiness, we lose that innocence, and childhood slips through the very fingers we use to count the costs of pleasure.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


A beauty parlour offers much more than a makeover – it offers a few hours of complete indolence and indulgence, an experience so different from the rest of my rushed/panting life that it is almost surreal.

I’m not talking about the ten minute, pop-in-thread-eyebrows-pop-out kind of visit. There you are made to sit upright and uptight in a chair while a beautician painfully plucks out your eyebrows. All tampering, and no pampering.

I’m talking about longer visits, when I can leave all my daily cares outside the opaque glass doors and enter the warm and welcoming red-and-black interiors, lie down in one of the beds in the cubicles (don’t get any wrong ideas, though, it’s perfectly above board) and surrender myself to being pampered and fussed over.

There’s a head oil-massage, which I totally adore because of the way it relaxes my neck muscles. There’s a l-o-n-g two hour facial, which includes a decent back-rub and many complicated things being done to my face (including a thick mask of gooey stuff which covers my eyes and mouth and makes me feel like a sci-fi zombie for fifteen minutes). I close my eyes and go with the flow, rather, rub. My angel of a beautician takes it as a compliment when I doze off, since the whole rigmarole is supposed to be relaxing (the dim lights and soft music help).

Especially decadent is the combined manicure and pedicure, when you have two people simultaneously attending to (cleaning and cosseting) your usually-poor-and-overworked hands and feet. I feel like a thirty-minute celebrity!!!

But the pleasure comes at a price. And some pain, as well. It is not all unmitigated blissful eyes-closed floating-in-a-scented-cocoon kind of experience. When your belligerent blackheads are being dug out of their trenches, or your cussed cuticles being poked into shape, it is a painful battle for beauty. What agonies we suffer, what waxing of reluctant hairs and steaming of recalcitrant pores in our quest for beauty.

But for me, the pain is just a small part of the beauty-parlour-parcel. Even the ‘beauty’-bit is passé. What I crave is the pampering. And the forgetting of the clock and the phone for a few hours every month. When I step out, my freshly-pedicured feet are still floating on air. Till I reach home and come back to reality with an almighty thump.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


I am e-xtremely e-lated as one of my articles was commissioned and recently published by the popular e-magazine, Pentasect.

If you want to have a look at it, you can find it right here.

It is a rather long article (be warned, please) on the contrasts between Kolkata and Mumbai, the two cities I've lived in during different seasons and have loved for different reasons. I've simplified a lot of things for the sake of contrast, so pardon the creative (ahem!) liberties (i.e, if you've the time and patience to go through it). The first and last paragraphs (of the article, not this post) are add-ons by the editor (just letting you know).

The good thing is that Pentasect has commissioned another article from me. And then there's more activity on the copywriting front as well (after a autumnal lull), so my brains and fingers are busy in tandem. Sleep has gone for a toss, but what the heck, I love this pressure, which is actually more of a pleasure, really.

Friday, January 9, 2009


This evening, the ‘ladies’ of the household were all watching an episode of the hugely popular syrupy-soppy-soap “Bidaai(running successfully, and sentimentally, on Star Plus). Almost half-an-hour of the hour-long telecast was devoted to a pair of, er, devoted lovers having a rooftop midnight tryst at a picnic with their families a few days before their wedding (hopefully, unless the devious scriptwriter decides otherwise).

What struck me was the sheer inanity of the romantic meeting. The conversation, or lack of one, was punctuated with minute-long sighs, and gazing-at-each-other and gazing-at-the-moon. There was a lot of heavy breathing, hand-holding and half-smiles. There was lot of giving-of-lavish-compliments and making-of-promises-of-eternal-love, repeated ad nauseum for half-an-hour (with, thankfully, some ad-breaks between, for relief) . There was a lot of sugar, but absolutely no spice.

The overdose of calorie-rich cootchie-cooing made me irritated and nauseated. I tried to be less intolerant and sarcastic, thinking of my college days when the then-boyfriend-and-now-spouse and I must have exchanged similar hour-long idiocies, but I could only recall spicy fights and spicier making-ups.

Young love seems so unreal, so uninteresting, so vacuous-empty and so over-sweet, it can give any mature person like me diabetes. It is very definitely a great thing to experience (once or twice, or many times over), but a very awkward and annoying thing to witness. My maid, who is usually silent and wide-eyed, sneered and made catty comments about how this shower of mutual love will dry up, post-marriage. My mother hardly looked up from the Sudoku she was doing (give her a juicy in-law drama and the sudoku will lie forlorn). Only my elder daughter was glued and giggling, thrilled at her first exposure to ‘adult’ things like ‘love’.

I guess it’s all about which side of the fence you are. If you are young, then young love is the stuff of dreams and desires (I used to devour Mills and Boon paperbacks during adolescence). And if you’ve crossed the first-love-phase, then the sighs and cries will probably make you want to puke (I picked up one of the new ‘Indian’ Mills and Boons, but I couldn’t go beyond the first chapter). What's your take?

Sunday, January 4, 2009


This is January, 2009, and it’ll hopefully mark the rite of passage of my Copy-kitten (the younger daughter) from Terrible Two to Tolerable Three (the elder Lil Cat is, thank God, a Slightly-more-sensible Seven). Numerous A-B-C books scattered around the house in various states of disintegration have made me realize that I have also been forced to relearn my A-B-Cs since 2001. Life has completely changed (as in shaken up, turned upside down, gone round the bend and never come back, done cartwheels, been on a roller-coaster) ever the deceptively quiet swaddled bundle was placed in my arms by the doctor (twice over).

· A is for AMAZEMENT – that’s my usual reaction to life, post-motherhood. I’m amazed at how quickly kids grow (including nails, hair and feet) and learn (say a four-letter word in front of them and see). I’m amazed at how long they fight sleep off (when you’re dying to sleep but daren’t) and how swiftly they do fall asleep (while you are lying wide awake beside them).
· B is for BOTTLES – why do we have to sterilize them when the BUNDLE OF JOY is happily licking walls and chewing shoes without falling sick?
· C is for CRAWLING - the CHILD crawls for six months and then begins to walk; the mother is forever made to crawl under beds and tables to search for anything she needs – from CLOTHESPINS to CASSEROLE LIDS.
· D is for DIAPERS – environmental hazard; maternal help.
· E is for ENERGY, and EXCITEMENT and EXPLORATION and etc – the EXCESS of which leaves you feeling like a squeezed-out dishrag.
· F is for FIGHTS – whoever said that siblings learn caring and sharing has made a right royal FOOL of us.
· G is for GAMES – with complicated, ever-changing rules but one certain ending – an all-out fight.
· H is for HOME – which can be HELL or HEAVEN depending on whether the kids are awake or sleeping.
· I is for I-Me-Myself – that part of life which has almost been bulldozed into non-existence.
· J is for JUMPING – from beds and window-sills and chairs and other places that make your heart JUMP right into your mouth.
J is also for JUNKFOOD – the only edible thing kids eat quickly (refer L).
· K is for KISS – that slurpy, sticky, noisy ummmm-aa kiss that makes all the hassles worthwhile.
· L is for LUNCHTIME – which begins at noon and goes on till night.
L is also for LEFTOVERS – which is every mother’s main source of food.
· M is for MOTHERHOOD – what a MAD, MESSY, MIXED-UP ride it is!
· N is for NO – the most frequently used word to answer any question – “Are you hungry?” “Did you break the jam-jar?” “Did you hit your sister?” “Aren’t you mama’s good little girl?”
· O is for OTHER’S – which is OBVIOUSLY more preferable than whatever belongs to self. This includes sister’s schoolbooks, mother’s purse, dad’s cellphone and friend’s tiffins.
· P is for POTTY – that POWERFUL god whose colour, consistency and frequency (or absence) of appearance dominates your daily conciousness.
· Q is for QUIET – and peace and calm and serenity which have quite disappeared from your life.
· R is for RHYMES – don’t dare to mix up Mary with the little lamb with Mary who was contrary or the audience will fly into a RAGE.
· S is for STORIES – reading which is compulsory before the kids go to sleep. I always curse anybody who gifts the kids fat STORY-BOOKS, because they have to be read aloud from end to end (miss a page and they’ll SPOT the cheating immediately) at one sitting.

S is also for SHOUTING - which is the only way of getting kids to hear you.
· T is for TANTRUMS – those kicking-screaming-throwing-things fits that smart kids use for maximum impact.
· U is for ULCER – a side-effect of motherhood, along with migraine, hoarse throat (see S)and backaches.
· V is for VOMITING – you get used to see it all over the bed, all over your clothes, all over the place. It is another weapon in the kids’ arsenal, scold too hard and they’ll VOLUNTARILY vomit out their food which you took so much time and patience to put in them.
· W is for WHY? – that dreadful question which kids keep asking WHEN you don’t know the answer (and also WHEN you do); motherhood is all about being chased by unending WHYs.
· X is for X-TREMES – the kids are always extremely hungry, or extremely un-hungry, extremely devilish or extremely angelic (which only makes you extremely suspicious), extremely wide-awake (at bedtime) or extremely sleepy (at feeding/studying time).
· Y is for YAWN – kids can yawn and blissfully fall asleep; moms can only yawn, sigh and move on to the next chore.
· Z is for Z-Z-Z – the most precious thing for all mothers, who are all seriously sleep-deprived, all the time. Even if it is only the kids who are z-z-z-ing, it’s a welcome break, because it gives you time to get things done, like I am doing now.