Sunday, May 24, 2009


...I’ll try to come up with an HONEST POST. A ten-point honest (no fingers crossed, no bite-my-tongue) confession:

  1. I love shopping. And even more than that, I love shopping all by myself, without the family tagging along.

  2. I may moan and groan about being overweight, but I love eating too much to be serious about any weight-loss attempt. Whenever I lose a bit of weight, I put it right back by eating out in celebration.

  3. I always read the frivolous Mumbai Mirror before the serious Times of India, much to the chagrin of the spouse. I’m a Page-3 junkie, and I get my fix before educating myself with the Page-1 stuff.

  4. I love frothy, no-brainer chick-lit books, especially the ones written by Sophie Kinsella. And I can keep re-reading my tattered Agatha Christies forever and ever.

  5. I hate it when something I cook turns out to be not-so-good, and when people (myself included) refuse to eat it.

  6. I hate being compared unfavourably to anybody, especially the MIL.

  7. I am really, really scared of lizards.

  8. I am happiest on Saturday nights, when there’s the w—h-o-l-e of Sunday still remaining before week/work drudgery begins again.

  9. Deep-down I believe that overpopulation is the root cause of all our problems.

  10. I cry really really easily, even in front of other people, much to the spouse’s embarrassment. And when I just can’t stop, I have to pretend that something has got into my eyes and is irritating my contact lenses.
  11. And here's a bonus confession, because honesty is addictive: I have not watched a single IPL match. I OD-ed on cricket long back. Give me a Federer-Nadal tennis match anyday. On second thoughts, any match where Federer wins. Because if he loses (as he so often does nowadays) it just makes me cry all over again.

A big thanks to Sayani, who has tagged me to write this post and has given me an award to egg me on...

So, here I am, cheering you on, trying to spread honesty, now do come up with an honest confession about yourself.

Monday, May 18, 2009


- We like our old leaders to be affable and bearded, not arrogant and bald.
- We like our young leaders to be dimpled and smiling, not demented and shouting.
- We like our party to meander and dither, not maraud and destroy.
- We like our government to be hesitant and, maybe, ineffectual-at-times, but DEFINITELY NOT hate-spewing and intolerant.

Just as it is silly to be sycophantic to a dynasty, it is even sillier to hit out at somebody because of his/her lineage, even after that somebody has shown maturity, decisiveness and grace-under-pressure.

Just as it is good to transform your state into a model of industrial development, it is not-so-good to boast all the time elsewhere because we have not forgotten your mass-murdering past.

Just as it is stupid to dress-shabbily-and-wear-chappals all the time and be a Bengali drama-queen, it is far more stupid to be the king for three decades and treat your subjects shabbily and lord over an increasingly barren state.

And the Indian voter is neither silly nor stupid, and has seen through braggarts and opportunists. We prefer our inclusive-inbetween-Centre to the rigid-rabid-Right or the looking-backward-Left. We are like this only, and Jai Ho to that.

Friday, May 15, 2009


  • Every summer vacation, I re-distribute my weight. No, I do not lose any weight – far from it. But running after my daughters, doing all the housework in the absence of the maid (who also goes for a forty-day sabbatical), feasting on mangoes and getting up late has a strange effect on my anatomy.

    I lose weight around my face and arms. And this reluctant-to-leave-me weight settles around my already rotund stomach. Which gives rise to various heavily-loaded situations and learning experiences:

  • The salesgirl from ‘Dermawear’ sees me shopping at Big Bazaar and pounces. “Why don’t you buy one of our abdominal belts?” Sucker that I am, I end up buying one, lured by promises of ‘reduction of waistline by at least two inches’. (A drop in the ocean, but beggars can’t be choosers. Or losers, in this case.)
    On wearing this new-fangled contraption on another mall-sojourn, my tummy looks a tad tighter to begin with, but I end up all sweaty, hot and bothered because it clings in the heat. And the belt ends up all rolled-up like a sock around my waist. And my jeans keeps slipping down because of the sock-belt. Not an experience I’d care to repeat, initially-tighter-tummy notwithstanding.
  • The Li’l Cat, my elder daughter, is making sentences from adjectives. I advise her that it is better to write a sentence where the meaning of the adjective becomes clear. For instance, instead of writing “Tom is lazy”, it makes more sense to write, “Tom is lazy and he never helps his mother with the housework” (hint, hint). After following my advice for a few adjectives, she comes across the word “FAT” and writes, “My mother is fat”, claiming that the sentence is self-explanatory.
  • The Copy-kitten, my younger daughter, is drawing shapes. After a few shaky squares and careful circles, she draws a huge oblong blob, taking up almost the whole of a page, smiles with a sense of achievement, and proudly says, “Eta holo mamma petu” (This is mummy’s tummy).

    Salesgirls encourage self-delusion.
    Family brings about self-awareness

    Now that I’ve learnt my lessons, it would nice if the belly would lessen a little.

Monday, May 11, 2009


It’s summer holidays right now. Which is supposed to be mother-daughter bonding time. So I decide to bake cup cakes with my daughters. Very excited, they break a few eggs on the floor, smear a lot of flour on themselves and eat up half the butter before it gets into the batter.

The brown, sticky demerara sugar is a big hit, spoonfuls being eaten on the sly. Of course, my daughters are kind souls, and leave a trail of sugar everywhere, some for the poor underfed ants to feed upon, and some for me to clean up. They claim I need the exercise, being rather motashota (chubby/fat/overweight – take your pick).

They take turns in turning the fork in the batter very very equally. If one does it twelve times clock-wise, the other does it twelve times counter-clockwise – twelve, OK, no more. As each is busy watching hawk-eyed the number of times the other is turning the spoon, the bowl of batter gets neglected, tilts and spills on the floor. All the more fun to scoop up with grubby fingers and lick clean.

The uncooked batter tastes yummy, they claim, between licks. So I wait for the finished products to be polished off with similar zest. There are about two dozen cupcakes, warm brown and full of cherries and calories.

They take a bite. Nibble a bit of crust. Poke their fingers into the soft centres. Fiddle around with the crumbs. Pick out the cherry bits and eat them. And then, they push away the plates. The “kancha cake” (uncooked batter) was way better, they claim.

And I am left with a mountain of cupcakes to chew through. Not a problem, except that the calories and my weight do not make for a good combination.

Did somebody say,Mother’s Day”?

Thursday, May 7, 2009


It actually started when I was all of nine. At that tender age, I became a maashi (aunty) to my cousin-sister’s son. His sweetly-lisped “Aunty” was the first trickle of something that has now become a deluge.

In my slim and svelte twenties, when people called me aunty (these cranks were few and far between), I reacted with incredulous raised-eyebrows: “Who are you kidding?”

In my burgeoning early-thirties, I was mortified. “OMG, what’s the matter with me?” Any stray aunty-call would make me start worrying about wrinkles, white hair and waistlines.

[CONFESSION BOX: There are two vegetable vendors near my building. The first one calls me ‘aunty’ and overcharges me. The second one also overcharges me, but calls me ‘bhabi’ (sister-in-law). I scrupulously avoid the former and frequent the latter.]

Aunty-fication, undoubtedly, IS a mortifying process. I used to regard it as the final crossing over into misshapen, melancholic middle-age. There are tons of ads (especially the hair-dye ones) where we see the lady-in-question hyper-ventilate with horror and shudder with shame at being addressed “aunty”. It seems to be the denial of desirability – of youth, beauty and loveliness.

But once I did become an undeniable, full-fledged AUNTY (with a lot of emphasis on the full), once the trickle turned into a deluge, I realized that there are a lot of advantages to aunty-hood as well. This happened a couple of years back, as I entered the mid-thirties (full-blown rather than fulsome).

For starters, I have regained my peace of mind. Resigned to my lifetime membership to the aunty-brigade, the aunty-calls no longer have the power to unnerve, irritate or depress me. If I do raise my eyebrows, it is merely to say, “Oh yeah? So what?”.

I am no longer combative, like a cousin who refuses to respond if people call her “aunty”. Aunty-hood is no more a disaster-zone or an enemy-territory that I am unwilling to enter. I have decided to accept, agree and adapt – the first step being the regaining of my sense of humour about the whole issue.

Aunty-fication has become a liberating experience. No longer do I have to bother about the MALE GAZE (for more on that scintillating subject, see my other blog here). I no longer feel compelled to dress/walk/behave as an object of male scrutiny. Since the males in question hardly notice me (Mumbai has more than its fair share of PYTs and yummy-mummies), I can wear what I want, do what I want, be what I want to be. Without caring two hoots for male approval/approbation. Ah, the freedom of it all!

And I know that when people like me now, it’s for my inner qualities rather than my outer quantities (quantity being the operative word here).

So you see, it is not about sour grapes at all (cross my heart). The aunty diaries are all about the seven steps to attaining nirvana, actually:

What’s your take?

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Or, how I almost got caught in a stampede on Polling day. A step-by-step report:

On the last day of training, we met the other members of our ‘polling party’ (comprising a Presiding Officer – me, that is – an Assistant Presiding Officer, two Polling Officers and a Peon). There were several such parties under each Zonal Officer, and each party would be in charge of a Polling Station, reporting to their respective Zonal Officer. We exchanged phone numbers and listened to a long lecture on the what-to-dos and what-not-to-dos and how-to-manage-things-if-youv’e-done-a-‘what-not-to-do’.
Mystified by the Marathi, I dozed off in the middle.

Next day, the day before the polls, we were supposed to meet at the Central Polling Station, collect the polling materials (including the star of the show – the Electronic Voting Machine) and go to our Polling Stations to set up things for the big day.

However, the authorities had decided brilliantly to ‘randomize’ the allotments. So, our zonal officers had been changed and the ‘polling parties’ under each officer had also been shuffled out of sequence. Chaos Theory ruled. We had to wait for announcements to learn who would be our zonal officer, and then we had to weave through an increasingly restive crowd to find these fellows. People kept colliding into each other, like the random movements of atoms, and it took hours before each molecule (polling party) was formed. It was like a bad Hindi lost-and-found movie, with everybody searching for their team members. Matters were not helped at all by the fact that we were all hustled into a huge and hot basement where cellphone networks were not working. I don’t know why they did not put up lists about who-would –go-where; it would have made finding each other much easier, and the poor fellows who shouted themselves hoarse at the announcement counter could have spared their throats a bit.

Anyway, after six hours of sweating, swearing and searching, the teams were assembled and we went in police-escorted taxis and trucks to a school building where our Polling Station was located. Our building had seven Polling Stations who were given a room each. We spent the next few hours checking poll materials, partly filling up numerous forms and envelopes, putting up signboards and arranging who would sit where. The most interesting bit was actually operating the EVM and conducting a mock-poll. There were 23 candidates contesting from our constituency, some with really intriguing symbols like balloon, whistle and comb. Two candidates were perhaps hoping to cash in on the IPL craze – one had a cricket bat as a symbol and the other had opted for a picture of a cricketer.

There were giggly first-time voters, there were feisty old ladies and doddering gentlemen with walking sticks (one had recently undergone a heart operation). Some were clear in their choice – they strode in, hit the button straight away, and strode out, head high. Some were confused – peering at the ballot units, scratching their heads, looking at us for inspiration and taking ages to make up their minds. The rush hours were 10 to 2, with long lines snaking out of the rooms into the hot sun. Voters might have cribbed, the process is slightly long because of the various checks and balances. My team was efficient and experienced and I learnt a lot from them. It was a friendly, let’s-all-get-this-thing-done-as-well-as-we-can and don’t-worry-when-we-are-with-you kind of feeling and, although it was my first time, I sailed through confidently because of them.

By 7 p.m, the voting machines were closed and sealed, reports all ready
, envelopes filled but stomachs empty. The Zonal Officer had checked everything to his satisfaction and we were ready to leave. Only, we did not. We left at 8.30 and went, under police escort (I was feeling tired but important) to the Central Polling Station to deposit everything. Read CHAOS PANIC STATION. There was one counter to collect the EVMs and some documents of 75 polling parties. There were four other counters to submit four other sets of documents and stuff, each having a mile-long queue. Each envelope was opened and contents checked (didn't they trust the Zonal Officers?). We then had to put everything back and form another queue just to hand things over. It was bureaucracy at its duplicitous, slowest, worst.

The only violent incidents of the day took place at the EVM-deposit counter. Polling officials, who had all started work way before dawn, got mutinous and manic – queues were broken and the EVM- carrying -cases were useful weapons to push and shove. Tempers got frayed and policemen had to be deployed to maintain discipline. We had to stand on the steps leading to the hallowed counter for over three hours. I, by virtue of being a ‘ladies’, managed to jump the queue and my adroit Zonal Officer helped me in my underhand activities. Too trodden-upon to feel guilty, I took unfair advantage.

Crushed,exhausted, hungry and battle-sore, thus ended my first tryst with the democratic machinery. It was, as Pandit Nehru had said, a ‘tryst with destiny’, and, almost true to his words, it had ended post-midnight.