Sunday, June 26, 2016

Inherited passion

Yesterday, Pickles and I went into a bookstore. I love spending time at bookstores. I could spend hours browsing and picking (and spending a fortune) and just being around books. It is however a pastime of the past now with Pickles and a full-time job. But yesterday, I had to pick up a couple of gifts for some upcoming birthday parties. And I generally like to buy books for kids rather than toys and I had to do it rather urgently. When Pickles and I set out from home, I'd thought it would be a quick entry and exit from the store.

So, Pickles is fond of books. We've been doing a lot of reading for him ever since he was born. He really shares my enthusiasm for them, of course he can't read just yet. And the library is one of his happy places. It's very hard to curb his enthusiasm on our weekly visits to the library. It's one of those things that he really looks forward to. I must mention at this point that I think the National Library is one of the best things about Singapore. And it is great that Pickles started out on his "reading" ventures here. He loves to run around and browse and pick books to read. Although most library staff are amused to see this little excited toddler happily browsing, some of them ask us to keep it down.  And although I didn't have to worry about keeping the silence, I still was nervous about the visit. And so, I set my very jittery feet into the bookstore with an excited toddler by my side. As we went in, I explained to him that this was a bookstore and not a library and he could not just pick up books to take home. I also told him that we were there to buy a present for his friend and he nodded like he understood and in a very adult tone said "OK".

And when we walked out, I was wondering why I worried at all. We stayed in the store for a good one and a half hour! And he was just as adult-like as I was. We walked into the different sections together and as I would look, he would browse too and would suggest "this one". I would then tell him why that particular book was not ok, and we would move on. He kept chattering on all the while about the different things in the books that he found interesting. And I managed to even browse for something for myself after I had picked up what I needed. The whole experience was such a joyful one, I almost had happy tears when I saw him sitting happily on the floor of the store, browsing for a while and putting the books back in place. I could see that he was as happy as I, when we were there. I had always hoped that he would enjoy books as much as I do but I hadn't expected that it would be this early.

I for one am very happy that he shares my love of books. I can't wait for the day when we can read our favourite books together and talk about them. Going by how fast things are moving, that day doesn't seem far at all.

Saturday, June 18, 2016


Relationships are complicated. The ones with family, with friends, with the spouse and everyone else. I've always thought of myself as a perceptive and sensitive person. I've never hurt anybody's feelings intentionally. And if something could be resolved without a fight, I would take that way. Which is why I've always hated confrontations. I've always made it my business to make sure nobody got hurt, even if I've suffered in the process.

But now, I think I'm changing. I find myself being less tolerant to things and people that give me stress. Maybe it is because I'm growing older or maybe because I have enough baggage of my own without adding extra from other people. So, I try and avoid people who are cryptic and can't be straight about how they feel. If you want to continually keep me guessing about what went wrong, I will definitely try but after some effort, I just might give up. I neither have the time nor the inclination to keep prodding at something that is not giving me anything but grief. It's probably best for me to let go.

I think it's about time I'm kinder to myself. I have come to realize that I ought to think about myself first. No one else will.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Letting go

Milestones. They are those weird events that you wait for and yet when they actually happen, leave you with an ache in your heart. They sneak up on you when you least expect them to and before you know it, you are wishing to go back to old times. It is probably the fact that so many events seem to be happening so quickly in succession, but it suddenly seems so drastic to me.

It all started with the weaning. It was a huge milestone for me that passed with not as much difficulty as I had expected, considering that Pickles could be reasoned with, at most times.

And then recently, we converted his crib into a toddler bed, so he could slip in and out with ease without us having to worry that he will jump out of it. Pickles was of course very excited with this development and loved his new bed. It is indeed another matter that he hasn't really slept in it for longer than a couple of hours each night.

And the biggest change is his haircut! We shaved his head as per the traditional ceremony (more on that in another post) and his really cute curls are gone. And suddenly my little baby has turned into this cute little boy with big earnest eyes. I can hardly recognise him until he shyly gives me his special dimpled smile and hugs me with his eyes closed.

And I silently mourn this rite of passage that Pickles has made, from a cute baby to a naughty toddler. Just only until he puts his arms around my neck and says "I douve you, amma." Maybe toddlerhood isn't that bad after all.

Saturday, June 4, 2016


There are people and then there are some other people.

The kind who can turn a really bad situation around with just a few words.

The kind who’ll always tell you to look at the bright side no matter what. And who practice what they preach. You’ll never catch them in a bad mood and if you ever do, something’s gone terribly wrong!

The kind who you look forward to speaking to, and use any excuse to do it.

The kind who’ll make you feel good about yourself, every single time.

The kind who make you believe that the world is indeed a beautiful place, albeit because of them.

And I’m so glad to have a few such people in my life!

Sunday, May 29, 2016


I'm not a people person. I am generally friendly and at most times, there is a higher chance that you would find me with a group of people than by myself. But I like being around people that I know and I''m uncomfortable and almost awkward around strangers. And hence every time I get invited to events and parties where I don't really know a lot of people, I turn it down. Even when the person inviting me is a good friend. I don't like to be lost in a sea of people, starting from scratch and trying to make new friends. That seems like a lot of effort to me and not always worth it. There have been times when I soon figure out that I might actually enjoy it but it's probably too late to get out of the excuse that I just made to avoid going.

Recently, R and I have made this arrangement where we each take an evening of "me-time', during the week. So, every Wednesday evening, I focus on doing things that I enjoy; a drink with friends, shopping, watching a movie or whatever catches my fancy for the day. But after a few weeks, I was at a loss of things to do during 'me-time'. I had run out of most things and I went back home a couple of weeks too (!) And soon, it looked like I would soon lose my 'Me-Wednesday' evenings if I didn't push to make it last. And luckily, I got invited to have a drink with some friends after work and I happily agreed to go. Until, someone mentioned that there will be others (people I didn't know) going too. Suddenly, I was uncomfortable with the idea and started looking for excuses. But since it was too late to do anything, I just bit the bullet and went ahead anyway.

And I had fun. There was some interesting conversations with some good people. I won't say I made new friends but I might smile or nod at them if I see them again. But, it turned out that they were a bunch of foodies who loved Indian food. What came out of that conversation were plans for some experiments with Fusion-food for the following weekend. Although, it has been done before, my friends who were there that night and I decided to try to make some 'Naan-Pizza'. From scratch, no less!

Butter chicken- naan pizza.

Palak paneer-naan pizza
Pardon the bad pictures but this was the best I could do before they disappeared. They were   really great.

The whole experience was a riot, though. I had so much fun, making and of course eating the stuff later that I decided I must do newer things more often. We will definitely try more fusion food in the weeks to come and now bouncing ideas for the next one is a regular thing during our lunch sessions. Although, that Wednesday was just a starter for the whole thing, it was still fun! And I for one, will think twice before turning down invitations again.

Monday, May 23, 2016

And now we're done!

Or Chronicles of our breastfeeding journey!

So, it was the morning after Pickles was born. The nurse woke me up at 6 am and mumbled something about pumping. First I thought she was nuts. I had just gone to sleep at about half past 4am, after a particularly tough ordeal the previous night. I had given birth to my little baby at 33 weeks (he was born premature) And for a first time mother who had put aside a lot of reading about breastfeeding for the last trimester,  I had no clue what she was talking about. I barely even remembered I had given birth as I rubbed my eyes. And then it hit me, my baby would ask for food sometime soon from the little enclosure that he was put in the night before. I sat up worried and the nurse came back again, this time to help me express what was supposed to be colostrum. She said she wasn't sure there would be any as it may be too soon but to both of our surprise, my body had decided it was indeed ready to make food for the little baby. And there began my journey.

After that I started to pump regularly, every 3 hours on the clock. And the output got better and better. But Pickles could only get it through tubes and eventually through bottles, as they had to limit his intake. And the space in my freezer was filling up. I was determined to give him the best food I could, like I felt I had to compensate because my body couldn't hold him in for longer.  Like every mother, I wanted only the best for my child and I was as disciplined as they come. I don't remember any other thing that I've been so fiercely devoted to. And one particular day, the doctor said Pickles was ready to latch and we should try. And the nurse put him to my breast. I had no clue how this would work but the little guy seemed to know exactly what he was doing. He leapt at me, nursed like he hadn't eaten for days and then fell asleep contentedly in my arms. I can't even begin to describe how it felt but it will suffice to say that it was a very emotional moment for me. In that moment, it felt right. All the hard work, pumping every 3hours, everything seemed worth it.

And then we brought him home one fine morning. It was a new beginning for both of us and I'm glad we both came out of it pretty strong. I've heard a lot of mothers complain about the difficulties of breastfeeding and I'm not saying it was not hard. It was super tiring in the initial few months, to say the least. But I loved the bonding time we had, Pickles and I, especially in the middle of the nights. Call me crazy but I actually enjoyed the time when the world was asleep and we would wake up t nurse. It was as if we had stolen a pocket of time and kept it for ourselves to savour. Just the memory of it makes me ache to go back. But that is not to say that I don't remember feeling tired and angry at times when he wouldn't stop or wouldn't fall back asleep. Or the tired mornings when I had to go back to work. Or being so angry at R for snoring away when I was trying hard to put Pickles back to sleep and I couldn't.

When Pickles was about 3 months old, he started to get really bad diarrhoea and an even bad diaper rash. We saw many doctors but the problem persisted. One doctor asked me to stop breastfeeding, saying it could be the cause but after intense research of my own,  I refused to believe her. Some doctors said it had something to do with my diet and I changed my diet considerably, avoiding things like dairy that could trigger such a reaction. But it still didn't work and the diarrhoea persisted. Finally, we saw a GI specialist who seemed to think that Pickles was lactose intolerant. He asked me to stop breastfeeding and start feeding Pickles soy milk formula instead. I decided to give it a shot for a couple of days. This incidentally happened to be around my first "Mother's day". I remember spending it so depressed. A lot of people told me I was lucky I could stop now and that I would now get my body back, but I didn't want it back. I just wanted to nurse my child again. After that it still didn't help and I had had enough of this nonsense. I decided to take matters into my own hands. I went back to breastfeeding Pickles and treating the diaper rash very aggressively. It worked! I was happy again but another problem them emerged out of this. Pickles was now refusing the breast. He had nipple confusion. Just as I was beginning to feel I had won over one battle, a totally big war was now upon me. Fighting nipple confusion took more out of me than anything I've known. I was torn between trying to nurse and stopping completely.  If you think I'm joking, try to feed a baby who is really hungry but refuses to eat. But I fought on, trying all sorts of tricks to get Pickles to latch again. And then one fine day, all was well with the world again! He latched on and I had won this round!

Around this time, I had to go back to work full time. Although I was happy to be up and about, I remember hating having to leave Pickles with a complete stranger. But soon G was not a stranger any more. She supported my decision to breastfeed Pickles for as long as I did. She would feed him whatever I had expressed, even at times when he was not receptive. She was such a great nanny that I started to worry that he would love her more than he would love me. But I needn't have worried. Pickles was always happy to see me after I came home and would then just want to be with me. Our bond was strong. I may be wrong but I believe it was breastfeeding that made the bond tighter. And contrary to all that I had heard, Pickles never had any confusion about who his mother was.

Going back to work was something I always worried about. I wasn't sure how I would pump when I was at work. We didn't have a mother's room (pumping room) but when you really want something badly enough, you somehow make it happen. In my case, my colleagues and friends did. At work, my desk was in a room with a bunch of other grad students like me, who would leave the room whenever I needed to pump. After a while, I didn't even need to ask, they would just walk out when it was time. I remember someone even put up a poster on the door when I was pumping, that said something like "Don't knock. Baby-food cooking inside" or something like that! And thanks to this kind of support, I continued to pump at work until Pickles was 18 months old. And then I stopped pumping. I started to nurse on demand whenever I was around and at night.

And so we continued. I've seen little Pickles transform from a little animal who would pounce on the breast when he was hungry to a little gentleman who would wait for me and then put his little arm around my waist while nursing and then again to this circus clown who would want to nurse standing up or doing all kinds of acrobatics. If nursing a baby is pure joy, nursing a toddler is total entertainment. Pickles would suddenly want to talk while nursing or wait until he finished and then suddenly say something very funny. We had our own code word, 'Nunnu'.  It was one of the first few words that he used. And then when he was about two, I started telling him he could only nurse at night. And so it became 'Nunnu-taachi' (meaning nurse and sleep). So whenever he was sleepy, 'nunnu-taachi', he would beckon. And he would run to our bedroom and sit at my pillow, waiting for me to come and nurse him.

At some point, I started to worry that I would never be able to go out late again. And I couldn't even go to a conference if I wanted to. And I was already dodging all the travel plans at work. I considered weaning Pickles but three things held me back. One, that I had always thought I would nurse him until he self-weaned (if such a thing was possible). Two, I was too scared to even try, knowing the amount of tears (for Pickles) and sleepless nights that would come with it. Three, I wasn't sure I was ready to let go just yet. Foolishly, I thought my baby would still remain a baby as long as I kept nursing him. And so, I put off weaning almost infinitely. On nights when Pickles would keep latching or latch and come back over and over, I would swear to wean him soon. I kept chatting with a friend and every time she would bring it up, it would remind me that maybe I ought to try. And then I would procrastinate yet again.

Until the dentist pulled the plug. Although people warned me about the ill-effects of nursing at night on babies' teeth, I had found equal amount of research that suggested otherwise which I was happy to believe. At his first dentist's appointment, we found out that Pickles had a developmental defect called Enamel Hypoplasia, which meant that his enamel was not developed properly. Although he had no cavities yet (!), the dentist said that Pickles teeth were at a higher risk for decay. And he gently suggested weaning as he didn't want to put him at any more risk that his teeth were under.
After much consideration, I decided to finally bite the bullet and do it. Weaning (and some sleepless nights) were scheduled on the calendar for the following weekend. I started preparing Pickles early in the week that his 'nunnu' would be finished soon and he behaved like he understood. On the first night, he cried himself hoarse when I said nunnu was finished but fell asleep eventually. I considered giving up so many times, but I just held on. He woke up many times and every single time, R and I gently coaxed him back to sleep with a sip of water. On the second night, he asked for nunnu and then told himself that it was over and fell asleep listening to a story. I wondered if it was so easy and when he woke up a zillion times that night, I decided it wasn't. On the third night, it was slightly easier. I felt depressed that maybe it is really over now. And tonight is the fourth. And he fell asleep easily enough.

And just like that it is over. I hadn't expected it to be like this but I think he will be over it soon. But will I ever be, of that I'm not sure!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Occupational (aka parenting) hazards

 R and I try to speak to Pickles in a couple of languages, mainly English and Konkani. But along the way we also use other languages like Kannada and Tamil (we are a multilingual family) in which Pickles picks up words every now and then. That being the case, we have trouble talking about things that we don't want Pickles to hear about or understand just as yet. So, like most parents we have resolved to spelling things that we can't say out loud.

For eg. R will ask me, can Pickles have some J-U-I-C-E before dinner? and then we come to a consensus before we announce it for Pickles, after which the little one will insist to have it immediately. The same is true for things like S-A-N-D-P-I-T today? or P-A-R-K now? We have to decide first before we even let him know. Otherwise, Pickles gets all excited and will insist on going there right the moment he hears the word.

So, imagine my complete surprise, when R spells something out for me in front of X (and Pickles is not even around!) and assumes he's speaking 'code' to me! Of course it was something trivial. I gasped and stared at him in horror and then burst out laughing. And I think X just thought R was being funny and let it slide. Only after X left did R realise what he had just done.

"What did you expect?, X can't spell?"

And of course R, being R refuses to acknowledge this and just says,

"Oh Come on, I think X didn't even hear me and even if she did, I'm sure she didn't realize that I actually spelled something out."


Saturday, May 7, 2016

Tracking changes

True to my word, here I am before the week is over with another post. For those of you who already kicked my ass (almost!), thanks but not yet, not this week at least.

Pickles turned two a couple of months ago and I'm so amazed by how many things have changed over and over from the time he was born until now. Actually, it's almost scary how much he has changed in the last few months! As much as I try to hold on to his baby-ness, this new toddler in my life is so much fun too. And although his neurons are making new synapses at an alarming pace, mine seem to slowing down all the more. So, I decided that I must chronicle all I can, before the phase is gone and long forgotten (or not!).

How he's moved on from almost no communication to being so assertive, is quite incredible! His love for diggers and vehicles has stayed on though. Starting with making sounds like ‘grrrr’ to describe them, he moved on to ‘ekataka’ and now he can actually say ‘excavator’ with so much poise, it makes me laugh. Although he can say truck perfectly well, he still says bugga bugga sometimes and I feel that he does it consiously just to appease me and let me know that he’s still my little baby. He still can’t say his R’s, so there’s still that and some fun words include mana-mana for banana (although it is mannana now), ungy (hungry), tain(train), ambela (for umbrella), kool (school) and many others.

The mobility! My baby has come a long way from the kicking to crawling to the unsteady gait. Now it is running all the way. I still can keep up but I know it wont be long before he’s out and about without me.

Gone are the days when he would wear anything that I liked. Now he wants in on any decision concerning him. He wants to choose his clothes, his toys and everything else. Its another matter that he also has strong opinions on what color I should or shouldn’t wear. As long as he says Pitty pitty amma, I’m happy most times to comply.

The new streak of independence is pretty remarkable too. Pickles insists on doing things by himself and good luck to me if I decide to so something that he doesn’t want done. The tantrums havent started yet but I can smell them in the air.

From terrible twos to threens and whatnot, I know soon I’ll be sad that my baby is off to college. I sound like every mom when I say, ‘Slow down, my baby. Let me just hold you a while longer!’

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z: Zero

Zero is the number of posts I have left for this challenge. Zero is also the enthusiasm and energy that I have left! While I am happy that it is over, a part of me is also sad. But yeah, I'll stick to mostly happy.

This A-Z challenge has been relatively easier when compared to the last year. While I was a lot less panicky this time around, I know I didn't do justice to a lot of posts too. I would blame the 27767367864 things happening in my life right now and an equal number of things that I've had to deal with, at the same time. So, yeah, I have no regrets. I'm glad I made it to the finish. At one point, I was considering abandoning the challenge but no, I don't think I could have lived with that. So, I went ahead and continued anyway.

The trip to India was a good one. I went with zero expectations, knowing fully well that I couldn't do everything I wanted to with Pickles and I just wanted him to have a good time and get to know all those people who really matter to me. And since I went with no expectations, it was great how everything just fell into place. Although I couldn't really meet all the people I wanted to, I managed to at least have some one-on-one time (however little that was) with most of the people. I do feel sad that I couldn't meet some of them but hey, we're coming back soon. Although a few unpleasant events happened towards the end of the trip, I'm glad we made it back and maybe I will write about it. Maybe when I'm more ready for it though. Another thing I realised this time also was that it's great to have family around. Things seem so much more bearable when they are around!

At the end of this challenge, I made a promise to myself that I will definitely try and blog a little more than I have in the past. All those unwritten posts will make it to this space, and hopefully soon. I will try and not let life get in the way. I think it is a great way of chronicling everything that's happening and I know I will enjoy reading it myself someday and so will Pickles. So, for his sake and mine, I will make that happen. So for now, the plan is to blog once a week at least. And those of you who are reading this(I'm talking to the four of you, yes!), you can find me and kick my ass if I don't. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Y: Yes Boss

No, I agree. That was a lousy movie. But this song on the other hand is a very nice one.
I love how he wants so many things but then says "Bas itna sa khwab hai!" Greedy much?!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

X:.xls files

When I was young(er!) and computers were the new in-thing, MS-Office was one of the things that was assumed to be important. At that time, Word and Powerpoint took precedence over Excel. MS Excel was then thought to be important for people who worked with numbers a.k.a finance consultants and bankers. I never paid much importance to Excel and it was always something that I used only when I was using numbers.

Enter the new me. Today I think MS Excel is one of the most used programs on my computer. From home budgets to grocery lists, to do lists to chores, resolutions to plans, everything is on excel sheets.
Even at work, Excel sheets are one of my most used. I work for a place which generates tons and tons of data and I cant even imagine a world without Excel. If it wasn't for Excel, I think people like me, who are not exactly bioinformaticians would have to take exclusive courses to learn to analyse the data, which we can now do only if we can get a .xls or .csv file out of it.

As you probably already know, I love making lists. I just did a quick survey of the .xls files on my computer and I'll tell you what I use them for and I'm not even talking about any work related stuff at all. At the risk of showing you my OCDness, here I present a snapshot of the .xls files on my computer.

1) Grocery shopping lists/Meal plans

2)  Expense sheets/budget plans

3) Baby shower/ Birthday guest lists and plans

4) Various checklists

5) Various wish lists (places to visit, books to read, movies to watch, you name it)\

6) Inventories

7) House-hunting details

8) Travel itineraries

So there, I've said it. I don't think I can live without .xls files any more!

W: Women/World/Women in the World/ of the World/ for the World

Let me catch you before you think that I forgot I'd already posted W yesterday. No, I haven't. This post is a surprise entry, well, it was a surprise for me too. I'd asked Vee to do a guest post on my blog, when I was at P. But Vee, being Vee finally decided to do W instead and a day later, of course! Vee needs no introduction here and  although her post is quite long (TLDR?), I promise you it will be one of the most fun posts you've read here. Here you go.

W – Women/World/Women in the World/ of the World/ for the World

Now that I've thrown a bunch of Ws at you .. let me begin with a quick and painfree intro – I am Maya’s Bestie .. or Bestest-ie .. I am 36 years old, trying to find my 'calling' or whatever that means. I live in Bangalore and in crippling self doubt. That should explain the anonymity. I love men and women in all their glory and their birthday suits. The Human Spirit, BIG fan! HUGE! Not in denial that we've fucked around with Nature ... an eternal, sometimes apologetic, optimist who wants to believe that Utopia is not fictional.

I am here, albeit a little late -- that's my character sketch .. I promise you, I have very little to do with it. I wanted to get my W in before the X prantz in with its perfect pink punctual pajamas (was supposed to do P) -- to guest-blog, make a proposition of sorts and maybe tug at your imaginations a little bit .. blindfold you, gently turn you around and let you go... Sounds like fun? Lets go... 

A thought germinated, a few years ago, when I came across this speech by Sojourner Truth she delivered in 1851 and continues to be relevant. Sojourner is one KICKASS woman.. Learn more about her on


Sojourner Truth (1797-1883): Ain't I A Woman?
Delivered 1851
Women's Convention, Akron, Ohio 

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say. 


My favourite part, “If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?” 

I digress .. this particular thought germinated here .. “If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again!” 

Do you see where I'm going with this? Let me drop the D bomb first and then explain. World Domination! 

Yep. You heard me right. Overthrowing systems .. all the systems, if required. Going back to the drawing board. Re-building, re-creating, from scratch. No more patchwork. A Whole new World, only this time around let the Women handle it. Men, sit back and enjoy the ride... At this juncture I suggest, in fact, I insist, that you listen to this … one of my all time faves!!

And ladies .. This is not about a Matriarchal Society. Na-ha. Its re-doing the damn world, all of it. Imagine running the world like you do your homes- Simple, efficient, safe, nurturing and food always in the fridge. 

Here are the six big questions I thought I could use to help me articulate this...

What? – The World belly up. A deep critical look at everything we've got going today... From Music and Lyrics to Cultures that they promise works only because they have been around for the longest time. 

The idea is to keep what works and throw the others out. Re-invent the wheel.

Why? - Oho!! So many many reasons. Because, lets face it, things are going south and fast, there is going to be a dire need for a new way of life and we will be ready on the day of reckoning. Because we want to save it. Because maybe we should try to make the world the better place and this could be the way to do it.
Why Women? Well, I'm not really going to answer that .. But let you think hard and answer that question on your own. If we still have questions, of course, Lets answer them together

And Also Why not? Its always good to try new things, right? How much worse can things get? Plus, Testosterone seems to need a break.

When? – Yesterday. 

Which? – eh?

Who? – Women .. Men .. People ... who are willing to see the long-term, sustainable benefit in this for all of us as a species.

How? - Hmmm... Good Question. Of course I don't know the answer to that question. But allow me to put out there what I know …. Its a long long list so forgive me if I miss out a lot. Also, here's another profound thought I had a few years ago .. so what do I know.

Let's begin with the Economics of things -- Only because I share this unique abusive personal relationship with the subject  (I don't value money and it doesn't value me. But we have to find a way to co-exist. Its hard, but we're trying to work it out)

Blind are those who don't see the wealth disparity everywhere. 

From where I sit this is how it looks; A few have so much to throw away that a hungry nation can be fed, yet .. somehow all of it not only gets wasted, but also causes irreparable damage to everyone and everything around on its way out and continues to eat into the system from within even after its been thrown-away. Cos you know? Nothing can be destroyed.

There's something grotesque in this picture, no? 

Anyway, we need to change this... How? I don't know yet, But lets all think?

The Law and Justice system. I live in Modi Chacha's India where Development is the D bomb. Chachaji in his empathetic-bartender-chai-wala-mann-ki-baat way has transformed the middle class into greedy technology whoring muppets who throw around rape jokes in impeccable English to look cool and carry around a smart phone with an entitled noodle eating camera that clicks pictures of your cleavage .. cos, you know .. it was there. So, chill.

Read the news in your country and you'll know what I'm saying …

The way I see it … Law and Order is the most corrupt way of keeping a certain class of people out of the way so that the Economy of things can go on UN-hindered. 

Overflowing Prisons and increasing number of Laws. We're creating more criminals by creating more crimes. From the helmet rule to the No-hijab rule, why are we telling people how to live their lives? 

There is a need for a simpler Good and Bad / Right and Wrong look at things. Reform as opposed to Punish perspective. Taking responsibility for harsher realities as a people, and not as Victims and Perps. 

Religion – Ugh!

Education – What are we teaching our children in the name of Education? A long hard look at what we let pass as Learning. A few of you may say, “my child's school is different.” or “I am home-schooling” … I am talking about children who are learning myopic views like Geographical boundaries are reasons to wage war, that religion is the most important thing in the world and is worth killing for. Your International Standard school educated children will grow up in same world.

If you ask me schools should be a way to tell and hear stories. To do things that are fun. To create, To laugh and find a way to make a sustainable living doing all of that. Education should allow children to grow without moulds and very little structure. 

Education not just for children for everyone who wants to continue to learn should be accessible, practical and as vast and open and safe as it can be.

The list goes on and on .. I am trying to put these thoughts on paper .. but.. I haven't begun procrastinating yet. 

In the meantime will leave you with this foetus … more like an un-fertilised egg of a thought. Before survival of the fittest turns into Survival of the stupidest … we need to steer things to the direction of love, sharing, empathy and peace. 

It maybe time for some kinda Action. Lets sit down over Wine, Vodka, Weed, Skype. Lets get on the driving seat. Lets re-define. Lets save the World's Ass!! 

and have fun doing it :)

Lets talk? I'm thinking secret handshakes and parallel economies ... you?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W: Wonderful Women!

I was only recently thinking about this and I realised that I am surrounded by amazing women. Not that the men in my life aren't great, some of them are but I can't really say that of many.

The most amazing woman I know has to be my mom. I've posted about her so many times and yet I can't put into words all the levels at which she amazes me on a daily basis. My adulation for her only increased when I saw her recently. So tired, yet she continues to work and inspire me to be better, every single passing day. A close second comes my aunt, mave who is my mum's sister. I've posted about her many a times too. How these two sisters brought up so many kids without much/no support from their husbands never fails to bring a sigh of admiration from me. Apart from doing what they needed for their families, they always did good by whoever they knew.

The second bunch of wonderful women I know are the sisters I grew up with, all six of them. Each one an inspiration in her own right. From managing difficult mothers-in-law to being patient daughters, from single handedly managing teenaged sons to making time for their little ones, from being great cooks to learning cooking from scratch when needed, from being the perfect working mothers to giving up great careers to bring up kids and yet going back to the workforce after 10 years, I've seen them all fight battles and win them.

Of course, I've been very lucky to have an amazing set of girlfriends. A wonderful bestie, trying to hold her own against this patriarchal society, learning the ropes and trying to fight for what she thinks is right with all she's got and yet at the same time creating some magnificent art. Another great set of friends I ran away from home with, all doing their thing in this world and making me proud. Another friend who is such a great mum, it brings tears to my eyes! I'm lucky to have friends who push me to be better, inspire me to run more, share great recipes, who're there when I need a pep talk, advice me about how to manage my time, and to bring up my kid.

And those are people women who I'm actually related to. And the women I see everyday, who work with me, my awesome ex-boss, managing work and home with such so much ease and such a great attitude. The cleaning aunty, who looks after her entire family with her meagre earnings and yet has a brilliant smile for everyone.

I think women are creatures of great strength and rise to any occasion as needed. Don't even get me started on the power of mothers. I have seen such strength in those beings that I now believe there is a reason why nature made it that way. Everywhere I look, I see a wonderful woman and even though it sounds pompous, I think men are really lucky to have us around!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

V: Variety

While I honestly do believe that variety is good for most things, when it comes to food I'm not so sure. Don't get me wrong, I love trying all kinds of food. Just not in the same meal. Although I like to cook (a lot) and I tend to cook up a storm when I do, I believe that I can relish only one dish or maybe two dishes at once. That way, one can enjoy all the flavours and do justice to the ingredients and effort that go into making the dish. If you have too many dishes in a meal, one or two of them will definitely overpower the rest, although you may have totally enjoyed the other dishes if they were served by themselves at another point in time, when in the company of other winners, they simply lose out. That belief and of course the time at hand generally allows me to cook only a one-pot dish or if I'm feeling particularly adventurous, two dishes for dinner everyday.

R, on the other hand enjoys variety. While I prefer one dish on my plate, he likes to have a ton of stuff on it. While I prefer to order a la carte, he prefers to order a set meal or thali to make sure he can sample lots of dishes in one go. Also, for him the Friday dinner is probably what he enjoys most. You see, that is when we have a lot of leftovers in the fridge and since they are too little for one meal, they just get left behind. On Fridays, R empties out the fridge and has the variety that he craves for in one single meal. And hence, both of us are happy. I, because the refrigerator gets emptied and he, for his variety meal. And yet, that doesn't stop him from looking for pickle, paapad and chips to add to his already full plate!

Monday, April 25, 2016

U: Up, up and away


Now that I'm back, I can say that I made it through two flights with Pickles, albeit short ones. But hey, they still count!

So, when we were travelling this time, they wouldn't let Pickles sit on my lap with a baby belt because apparently he's too big (Sigh! I never realised) and both times, the air staff insisted on him sitting on his own seat. I had to figure out a way to make him sit tight and stay put during take off and landing. The good thing is that Pickles loves to listen to stories, especially his own and about people he knows or admires. As long as it has characters that he knows,  he will sit through anything. He has the cutest way of asking me for a story, he goes "One day.." and he leaves it for me to finish (You see one of his cousins started his stories like that) and then no matter what I say, he'll say "then.." and I go on and on. 

So this was our story for the day...

Pickles: One day...

Me: One day, Pickles was flying on an airplane.

Pickles: then...

Me: Then the airplane uncle said Pickles could not sit on amma's lap. He was a big boy and he has to sit on his own.

Pickles: big boy...then...

Me: But Pickles said he wanted to sit on amma's lap.

Pickles: then...

Me: But uncle said no.

Pickles: then...

Me: But Pickles cried and he said he wanted to sit on amma's lap.

Pickles: then...

Me: But uncle said he would give him a surprise if he would sit on his own.

Pickles: then...

This went on and on until the plane had taken off. And then I heaved a sigh of relief and said..

Then, Pickles sat on his own seat like a big boy! Pickles is a brave boy. Yay!

Until, he realised that the story was over and demanded,

Uncle, Surprise?! (Uncle, where is my surprise?)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

T: Too late

This is too late to post but I'm too OC to leave out a letter, so here's just an excuse of a post. I happen to be in between Singapore and India with a toddler in tow and that's my excuse. But I promise, the next letter will  be better and I will do justice to U!

Friday, April 22, 2016

S: Sisters

One of the biggest assets I have are my sisters, all six of them. Yes,you heard that right, six!
And I'm pretty sure I've mentioned on this blog, time and again about how great they are and how lucky I am to have family like them. Actually, sisters like them. I'm sure that brothers are great but they'll never come close to what sisters are. They're just awesome!

Thank you girls, for being in my life and for being all that you are. I love you all!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

R: Reassurance

Sometimes, when you're complaining about a mundane life and about every little thing that has gone wrong, all you need is an incident. One that will shut you up and make you long for the mundaneness. One that will make you thankful for all the unusualness. One that will reassure you that this is good. Life could get so much worse!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Q: Quitters

When I first heard about it, I shook my head and thought to myself that such things happen because they are not educated and because they don't know any better. All my life I've seen it happen to women around me. I saw it happen to my mother's domestic helper. She came to work with a bruise or a black eye and always blamed it on a fall. Ma knew better than to ask too many questions but always quietly helped her in whatever way she could.

Then I saw it happen to a cousin. And no, she isn't uneducated. In fact she was a star student. Her parents love her and brought her up like a princess but what she saw after marriage was a whole new story. She is abused regularly, a beating here, a "punishment" there and yet, she continues to stay married to that man and lives with that family. And the parents know about this! And yet, she continues to live with that, hoping it will change.

More recently, I heard from a very close friend. Both she and the husband are high flyers in their respective careers. They loved each other dearly. Until they didn't anymore. Her husband beat her and she always makes excuses for him and says it was a one time thing. Except, it wasn't!

I get it! She loves him. But shouldn't she love herself more? She doesn't want to give up on her relationship. I wonder why she gives up on herself. She's scared to step out, but aren't there enough people to cheer her on for doing what she ought to, instead of advising her to stay in an abusive relationship. She did it for the children, and she taught them one of two lessons, it's ok to abuse your wife or it's normal to be abused by your husband. What the hell kind of conditioning is this? To not want out, to not fight for a better life, to not walk out when you can. If this is happening so close to home and to people like you and me, is there any hope for the rest?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

P: Pintsized wit 2

I met this amazing kid A, who is my cousin's son. He's got an amazing sense of humour and an answer to pretty much anything under the sun. And he is all of five years old!

Sample this conversation I had with him recently.

Me: So, A, what is your favourite subject in school?

A: Maths

Me:What do you like in Maths?

A: Addition, subtraction and everything

Me: Can I ask you a question on it?

A: Of course. I know everything.

Me: Oh wow. Do you know multiplication and tables?

A (hesitating a little): yes

Me: So, do you know 7 tables?

A: yes

Me: So tell me, what is 7 times one?

A: I need a paper and a pen to tell you.

Me: Ummm I think lets do it without paper and pen.

A: Hmmmm ok

Me: So tell me, what is 7 times one?

A (with a defiant look!): 8!

I was too amused to answer for a second.

And A continued: Do you want to know the rest?

Me: Sure

A: 18, 28, 38, 48....

Confidence, thy name is A! God save your teachers!

Monday, April 18, 2016

O: Opera House

What is the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Opera House:

Spicy Veg balls in hot garlic sauce, Chicken Schezuan noodles, hot and sour soup and other lip smacking delicacies.

If you were surprised that I wasn't talking about any theatre or play, I'll tell you why. This little restaurant with the same name was set up when the actual "Opera house" closed down. Tucked in at the far end of Brigade road, just before Shoolay circle, they served Indo-Chinese fare. I read this article in the newspaper recently that were all set to revive the Opera house (not the restaurant)and it brought back a flood of memories.

During the days when I had just found my independence (read college) and of course with that came pocket money, this place was one of our frequent hangouts. I think this was pretty much my introduction to Indo-Chinese food, which is still my favourite food till date. Come to think of it, if you asked me today, I would rate their food as just average. But the biggest reasons for us to hangout at this place was
1) The cost: We could have a decent meal for two in anywhere between 50-100 rupees (No kidding!)
2) The location: It was located at Brigade road and it was outdoors. Honestly, I cant think of why we loved to hang out here but maybe it was because it meant easy access to shopping outlets and movie theatres (no malls back then!)
3) The staff: They would let us hang out there for as long as we wanted without bothering us as long as we had ordered some stuff.

My friends and I must have been one of their favourite customers (not really!) as we frequented this place too often for our own wallets. There have been times when we have just managed to collect 50 bucks between us and then go out for a meal here. I think I've even been on a few dates here. Cheap food, decent fare and some place to sit and talk, what's not to love!

Of course as we grew slightly older and found jobs, we started to frequent other more expensive Indo-Chinese places but we still would visit until they eventually moved to Fifth avenue. From there, things went downhill for them and they shut down eventually. We were never able to find an other place similar to this one. I have very warm memories of this place and of events we've celebrated here. I think all my friends have been here with me, one time or another! Most of all, I think it was Vee and me who hung out here. And Vee, if you're reading this, maybe it's time to get together and have some Chinese fare, whatsay?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

N: Numbers

So, we have been teaching Pickles to count. To make it fun, we count whatever we possibly can. For instance, we count the number of steps as we're climbing a flight of stairs. We count the number of buses and cars on the street and so on. Pickles loves doing it and keeps counting whenever he has a chance.

Recently, I heard him on the balcony of my in-law's place screaming "one hyena, two hyena.." and so on. Surprised, I went out to find him looking at a herd of goats in a small compound downstairs. You see, he's only seen both goats and hyenas in books. And recently he's been reading a book with a hyena character.

"Sweetheart, those are not hyenas. They are goats", I told him gently.

"No, no, hyena, hyena", he countered.

"Baby, but you know hyenas live in forests. These are goats living in the city", I tried to reason.

And then, he just pointed to a nearby cluster of trees and said, "Forest, hyena home!"

Friday, April 15, 2016

M: Mobile phones

If you asked 10 people what 5 things are their 'must-haves' or 'things you cant leave home without' would be, most of them would definitely have mobile phones as one of the top things on their lists. That is probably true for me as well.  I'm slightly paranoid about not being available or out of reach either to Pickles' nanny or to my parents when they really need me. Other than that, I'm quite relaxed. I don't really need to look at my whatsapp messages or fb feed for a day or more and I'm still ok. I'll agree that there are days when you'll find me looking at my phone a little more than necessary but you tell me and I'll put it away. I'm reasonable like that.

So, for Pickles we have a no screen policy. That means he doesn't watch TV, no iPads and absolutely no phones. We have made the phone uninteresting for him so far( we don't show him pictures on it either) and hence he can just pass a phone and not react. As far as he is concerned, a phone is just that: a phone. And now at home if I'm talking on the phone a little too much around him, he'll just say "No more phone!" and then I put it down. It's another matter that if I'm texting or just looking into it, he may just take it and fling it away to get my attention. I try now to give him that attention and that hasn't happened very often.

In Singapore, most of my friends who we hang out with either are on the same page as us or they respect us enough to turn off the TV and keep their phones away around Pickles. But during this trip to India and the previous one, I've constantly had to tell people to not lure Pickles with the phone and more so, not to show him the screens of the phone or iPad. Most people are surprised, shocked and some plainly roll their eyes. I've heard the weirdest questions and I've tried to be as patient as I can to answer them but some people just don't get it. And I don't care that they don't, as long as they don't wave their smartphones in Pickles' face. Some of the things I've been asked:

Don't you think he'll miss out on all the fun stuff?
What fun stuff?, I say. I mean isn't there so much around us for him to absorb and enjoy now when his senses are just maturing. Is it necessary for him to watch a documentary on something 10 years down the line, about something he can observe right now in his environment? And he has tons of years to catch up with the 'fun-stuff'. I'm sure there will come a day when he will enjoy watching his cartoons, just not this early.

Don't you think he'll not know how to use a phone and his peers will?
This one really gets me annoyed. I mean, we weren't born with phones. And I think I learned how to use a phone when I was 22 or something. And I turned out alright! I'm sure it wont take him more than 10 minutes to figure out how to use one.

What about the characters that he'll have no clue about?
 I think Pickles gets plenty of exposure from the books he enjoys. And he knows about a few characters and I'm pretty ok with him not knowing about everything. He ought to have newer things that can catch his interest in the days to come.

So, yes! I'm still putting my foot(and phone) down! We'll try and keep the screens away for a couple of more years and I'm damn sure he'll enjoy it just as much later on but he'll have had exposure to many more things and he might just choose to leave his phone behind.