Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Poor Freida Pinto. While whooping it up at various parties all the world over in the wake of Slumdog Millionaire's super success, our poor little girl in the limelight has been hounded by bad press.

Apparently, in her baby steps up the fame-and-fortune ladder, she has been stepping on a lot of touchy toes. There was the ditching of former fiance/husband Rohan Antao (gleefully played up by the media, with photos of a mopey Antao wishing her all the best). There was the snubbing of Wendell Rodricks, the Goan designer who gave darling Freida her first break in modelling. Wendell makes delicious free-flowing gowns which can grace the red carpet as well as any other. Instead, 'international' Freida is opting for Dries Van Notens and Gallianos galore (the blue net gown at the Oscars got a very mixed reaction).
And there is the simpering smiles and cosying up to the eligible Dev Patel, a budding romance which seems constructed only for the cameras.

All this rankles. Latika (her character in SDM) was a woman who was forced to compromise, yet who always rememebered her past loves and loyalties. Freida's press-created avatar comes across as a girl who chose to compromise, and who has willingly and quickly forgotten her past - loves and loyalties included.

There seems to be a moral which is being subtly created and reinforced - the glamour of the West (Hollywood, etc) turning the head of the gullible Indian girl and making her forget her tradition and culture.

Maybe I am being over-critical, maybe Freida is really a manipulative-miss-on-the-make, but then we have never really come across a clarification from her, have we? And it is so easy for self-righteous guardians of Indian values to point fingers and say, "See, what a slum-bitch she is." I can recall a similar anti-Aishwarya Rai campaign in the press when she tried to make her mark in Hollywood. Maybe India likes to keep its heroines under a metaphorical purdah - at home in Bollywood, rather than creating a flutter abroad?

Friday, February 20, 2009


Being a working mother, willingly or otherwise, means living life like a humanoid yo-yo: work-home-work-home-work-home....And the tired, worn piece of string that goes from sigh to high, from woe to low, and back again is called THE SELF - the liberated, emancipated, yet-tied-to-a-thousand-duties-and-doubts-exhaustions-and-expectations FEMALE SELF.

But sometimes, you get a space to pour out all the feelings-which-have-got-tangled-like-an-undone-ball-of-string.

Pentasect has very sweetly published another of my e-articles, this one on the ramblings of a working mother. It is called Is it a Supernova? No, it's a Supermom!

If you do find time to read it (and if you are either working or a mother, you probably won't), please tell me how you liked it. Like all mothers, working or otherwise, there is nothing we like better than appreciation for our efforts.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


For the past fornight (and still continuing) the dominant sensation in my life has been TOOTHACHE. Make that TEETHache, gumache, jawache, cheekache, earache

I have never really realised the ease and ruthlessness with which pain can have us at its mercy – striking anytime, beginning its offensive slowly and then swiftly building-up the intensity till very soon all you are aware of is the sheer THROB of pain.

Pain makes you self-centred, distracting you totally from any other work you may have at hand, making you run away from social encounters where you have to smile and make small talk, even making you treat your loved ones in an impatient, ill-tempered way. All you want to do is curl up and cry – just the two of you, you and the pain, till it loosens its grip and lets you go.

It is all very well for the dentist/doctor to be analytical about your pain. He will tap here and probe there, asking you where the pain is more and where it is less. He will try to track its growth, asking you when it begun , where it originated, and other difficult-to-remember questions, because by the time the pain has spread its tentacles, your suffering mind is too confused to dissect and discuss it impersonally.

The only relief in these dark days have been the tiny pill of hopethe trusty but tardy pain-killers. As the pain-slaught increases, you reach for the oval pill and swallow it, skimming semi-consciously through the next hour or so, till the analgesic does its job and the waves of pain recede for a few hours. Till the next tidal torture wave.

One silver lining, though: My two daughters have got really scared of toothaches and are washing their mouths diligently after every meal and brushing their teeth with a precautionary thoroughness which gives me some amount of satisfaction.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Wanted Horror Houseguest for small 2 BHK (all of 750 sq ft) already-crowded flat in Mumbai (always in a rush). The Candidate (or candidates – i.e self plus family including pesky kids – the more the horror-ier) must possess the following abilities:

- He must arrive at an inconvenient time (past midnight on a weekday, preferably).
- He must strew his clothes and wet towels all over the place, including the backs of dining chairs.
- He must make all HIS calls (local/national/international) from YOUR phone, giving the excuse that his phone gets charged extra when he makes calls while ROAMING (Well, what about the huge amount of shopping he is daily doing and stashing in your already-full flat while roaming in the malls and markets of Sale-crazy Mumbai?) And, yet, whenever you want to charge your phone-battery, you see his phone hogging the charger.
- He must demand to be hydrated with numerous cups of tea throughout the day.
- He must bathe at least three times a day, forgetting each time to switch off the geyser, put up the toilet seat or close the taps properly.
- He must liberally use your talcs, lotions, deodorants and combs.
- He must also finish off the ice-cream in the fridge and the after-mints/saunf on the sideboard.
- He must never, ever offer to help with the housework.
- He must reject the sandwiches for breakfast you had prepared for him before rushing to work (while he was still blissfully snoring), and order double-egg omelettes from the maid. You are left with stale sandwiches for dinner, a good thing probably, because you are also short of eggs for the curry you had planned to make for the said dinner.
- He must never inform you about his sightseeing/business/other activities for which he has ostensibly come to Mumbai, and for which your benighted flat is just a basecamp. So, when you cook for him, he returns late, reeking of Macdonalds/KFC/vada pao (and you can have the leftovers for lunch tomorrow). And when you don’t cook for him, he turns up, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, demanding dinner and keeping you awake way past your bedtime with stories of his thrilling exploits at Gateway of India/Juhu Beach/Inorbit Mall/Siddhivinayak Temple/whatever.
- When he is not sight-seeing, he must sit on the most comfortable chair in the house, put his feet up on another, and hog the TV remote while you are forced to lurk in the kitchen.
- And, most importantly, he absoloutely must promise (and keep his promise) to return soon, preferably three (or more) times a year. And each time, he must overstay his welcome and turn your life upside-down for the duration of the stay.

Interested candidates may contact the undersigned, who has been suffering from severe guest-itis for the past one week.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I am a major fan of A A Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh series, with the line illustrations by E H Shepard. (NOT the remixed, dumbed-down, sanctimonious, over-sweet, botoxed and multi-coloured DISNEY version, which is good only for kids and cakes - this year my three-year old had a Pooh cake for her birthday).

I mean the original books, which number only four. Of these, I had managed to get three earlier (Pooh-book hunting adventures recounted earlier in this blog).

Recently, at the Crossword Sale, I found the remaining book, NOW WE ARE SIX, which is a collection of whimsical rhymes about Christopher Robin's childhood, till he reaches the immensely self-important age of six.

There are poems about 'Us Two' (Who else, but Christopher and Pooh), about his golden-sunlit 'Buttercup Days', about fascinating 'Old Sailors' and 'Charcoal Burners', about the wheezles and 'Sneezles' which force you to be bundled in bed, when all you want is to be 'Busy' going round about and round about.

There are poems which will transport you back to when you were six or so, when you had your own special imaginary friend Binker, who was as fond of sweets as you were, and for whom you had to take two sweets, one for you and one for him, and both of which you had to eat (because his teeth were new, or something).

Adorable, delicious and quite quite wonder-full.