Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Z is for... Z to A April Challenge

Phew! I am happy to report that I have written more posts this month than I wrote in the whole of 2009 and 2010! April has been a journey of sorts and Z seems relevant to talk about the month gone by.

I took up this challenge just because I saw two people on my blogroll planning to pursue it. Just like that, without thinking, I joined the bandwagon. April was going to be a boring month and my blog had been ignored for quite some time; this seemed like the right thing to do. 

Little did I know that April will turn out to be hectic like all other months! Guests left on 1st April and I wanted some time to breathe. On 5th we left for Bangladesh which turned out to be hectic and fun at the same time. I need adequate time to rest after long journeys and so I thought I won’t do justice to the challenge. Turns out, blogging was a great relaxant.

Somewhere in the middle of the month I developed a strange muscle strain in my back. I’ve been unable to sleep at night due to it. Trust me, this blogging challenge has been my Savior every night when I wake up at 3 a.m. due to severe back ache. Because of this, I concentrate more on alphabets rather than the nagging pain. I’m seeing a doctor and a physiotherapist and hope to be fine soon.

I chose to write about mundane stuff each day. I thought of words starting with the alphabet and tried to pick ones which could be relatable. I know I can’t make people roll on the floor, but I tried. Going by the statistics, the readership on weekends was pretty low. Going by views and comments, H for Husband was applauded the most. Here also, he seems to have stolen the show! M for Mutual Admiration Club seemed like it made an interesting read because people took time to comment on it. Aunty, Dieting, Selfies and Weather were probably a tad funny to generate some hahas. I had the hardest time writing for Y and so I just churned a quick story. I did cheat twice and used my old poems for V and P, but I guess that’s allowed! And just to let you know, I might have to delete X soon because it is drawing unwanted visitors.

The second part of the challenge was commenting on other blogs which I’m sorry I was unable to do on a regular basis. I would really want to thank Soumya, Nabanita, Shine, Kathy, Carol, Shilpa, Srilakshmi, Enchantress, Somehonestwriting, Danny, Rajlakshmi, Swathi, Ananya, Shailaja, Beloo and many more bloggers who took part in this challenge and made a point to comment frequently. Special mention goes to Red, Anita, Prassana, KP and Thinker – these read my blog religiously even without participating in the challenge and that is really something!

And yes, lots of love to non-bloggers who read. My darling friend Aradhana even messaged me one Sunday night mentioning that I forgot to blog that day! I then told her that Sunday was a holiday for us. Needless to say, I was elated at her dedication. When people just come to blogger to read, it means I am doing something right, right?

This is probably the longest post of the month. I tried to keep it short and simple. I am sure I made lots of grammatical errors because I did not edit much and also because it is a weak point here. I am trying to work on that. More than anything, this challenge has been a great learning process. I hope I continue to write as often.

I would love it if you could tell me what you liked and what you did not; a fair evaluation would really help me grow. You can comment as Anonymous as well and I promise not to complain. Any which way,  much love and happy reading, guys! This has been fun :)

P.S. I am already feeling withdrawal symptoms. Are you feeling them too? What should we do now!?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Y is for... Yearning

Grandma moved her fingers, waving coyly as we flew over the valley of Dehradun. A tiny droplet filled her eye and she let out a crooked smile.

“You still miss him?” I asked being fully aware that I was disturbing her.


"I asked if you still missed him."

“That man left without saying a word. What do you expect?” 

“I expect anger.”

“Anger, resentment, jealousy... they all go with time, son.” She said with her smile intact.

“Even when you are betrayed?” I was confused.

“Love is a much stronger emotion than any other. Unfortunately for some, it is very hard to let go.”



She looked down the window pane and smiled again. She wanted to go back to her dream. Her gaze was fixed... as if he was waving back at her.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

W is for... Weather

The A to Z challenge is becoming more difficult by the day. On weekends my thinking faculties give up and I use my brains only while watching the current TV series that we are hooked on to - Homeland. So, when you don’t want to rack your brains the only unimaginative thing that comes to your mind is? – The weather of course.

During a time when everything is personal and anything can hurt sentiments, a curious soul like me doesn’t know what to talk about. The conversation hovers around movies, news, songs and when all else fails, the weather. Really, even a simple ‘how are you’ can mean a sarcastic query if the person in question is not doing too well! Weather atleast seems a safe territory to venture into.

My question is, does it really matter when we discuss weather? I mean unless you work at the meteorological department and your bread and butter depends on it, is it really important to talk about it? Even my android phone becomes uninspired when I have to go on a holiday – it starts giving me weather predictions after digging information from my gmail on where I am going next. Wouldn’t it be nicer if it could automatically give me information on the best restaurants, you know, because now it knows me so well!

Let’s agree on the fact that weather can be an average conversation starter between strangers. But friends? - If this insipid topic does reach your everyday chit-chat, then dude, you need a new boss to crib about or possibly you need to do bungee jumping or even go bald... something to make your life, well, life.

Also, why do we only talk about bad weather? I am tired of hearing about snow in New York, heat in Dubai, rain in London and humidity in Mumbai. And why do we only talk about food when occasionally we talk about good weather? As in the chai and pakora thing when it rains is way too overused and just shows how we inherently don’t deserve a light drizzle because we just end up increasing our cholesterol because of it!

Anyway, it is sad that I am up at 6 on a Saturday. A nasty back ache can be a literal pain in the ass, I tell you. Let me blame it for this uninspired post. Not that I think from you-know-where but only because I am slightly worried about things. Spring is here, I shouldn’t be sad, right? Oh, it is summer in your land, you say? Brace up, we have a few long months ahead of us.

Ouch! Did I start talking about the weather again? 

Friday, April 25, 2014

V is for... Victory?

This appeared in the Indiatimes website and then The Times of India newspaper in July 1999. I was 17 then. The clipping is at my parent’s place.

A victory, at last.
Threw the intruders back with a blast.
With a message of relevance:
Leave alone our fence.
Bravo! To our courageous soldiers.
Cheers! We won after a valiant struggle.
But wait...
What are these celebrations for?
It remains the same for hundreds of widows.
A struggle for parents,
A million sorrows.
An air of unusualness in the land of Kargil,
A stillness of graveyard where so many were killed.
Let’s pray for their souls,
For their families, for their homes.
May never such a war take place again.
May never a man kill a man.
May brothers love each other.
May never a country fight with another...

And yet... we have seen so much more since then.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

U is for... Uttar Pradesh – A land gone to the goons

Once upon a time, in the land of Uttar Pradesh, a great man was born. He grew up to be extremely talented in duping people and earning their trust. Very soon he became the Chief Minister. After giving the state to the thugs, he let another party win. 

When his son grew up, this man took cue from Madam and let his successor manage the state of affairs. The son was seen as a ray of hope and naive people from my land gave the party another chance...

With frequent power cuts, the state remains a candle maker’s paradise. Every bhaiya eyes this land because they get utmost respect here. Development is in the form of elephants made of stone. Education – well, only if women could step into the universities without being eve-teased. 

Forget progress, the party leaders are downright regressive and, what seems the only appropriate word for them, retarded. In a recent statement this leader, who thinks he now has a chance of even becoming the Prime Minister, said that boys make mistakes and hanging them for rape is an unfair penalty.Another leader from the same coveted party said, "If a woman is caught (in a rape case), then both she and the boy should be punished. In India, there is death penalty for rape, but when there's consensual sex outside marriage, there's no death penalty against women." 

You would think they were being forced by some divine power to say something like this when a third kind soul took the tag and remarked that those who fought for victory in Kargil were not Hindu soldiers, in fact the ones who fought for our victory were Muslim soldiers.

These three witty statements that were made in quick succession during the month of April, when our country goes to vote, have been the worst publicity stunts of all time. The chain of events was not exactly in this order, but those words, those exact words were used. If I could, I would slap the people who made these remarks. And to think of it, people are all over a new leader who is at least trying to do some good. God forbid, if we have these charismatic people in top positions in the centre this time, we all would need to look for citizenship elsewhere.

I am not kidding. This land is the land of Taj Mahal. It is the land of tehzeeb, adab and tameez. The holy Ganges runs through it. You would meet the sweetest and simplest people here. It is my birth place and I love it. But this, this is something that is beyond me. Earlier, monkeys just inhabited Ayodhya but now, they are all over the place. I think we need to brace up for the worst because this dance of democracy might just hurt the whole nation.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

T is for... Trip Report – ICC World Cup Twenty-20

Once upon a time we were normal people living a normal life. Something changed in 2013 and we became those people who win prizes. Being called lucky when I win in a writing contest still annoys me, but then I try to resist the urge to explain. Anyway, I digress.

So, one day the Boy called me to tell that we had won a trip for two to Dhaka to see the Twenty-20 World Cup final. India was still not a part of it. Of all the places in the world, this year the venue had to be Dhaka. But I had to NOT behave like an ungrateful soul and so we said yes.

The journey from Bahrain to Dhaka was not an easy one. Since we had to fly Emirates, there was a layover in Dubai. If you know Emirates airport in Dubai, you will know it is not for weak people like me. Both times our flight reached just in time for boarding the connecting flight and we had to run across the airport without any help from ground staff. I vowed never to take Emirates again (except if we win the trip as a prize!).

Everyone from the Immigration Officer to the Hotel staff was amused by our arrival in Dhaka. We were a group of 8 ‘lucky’ winners who didn’t mention that we had actually won this trip. So they thought us to be rich travellers who would come from the Middle East just to see a match. The whole city was decorated for the world cup. We were amicably welcomed to say the least.

Dhaka is a crowded city; much worse than any in India. It doesn’t have many places of interest and so we decided to just enjoy the hotel for the short 48-hours that we had and relish the match. The hotel was a lifetime experience. The only other occupants during our stay were the Indian cricket team and the members of the Star Sports team. We lurked around the hotel just to get a glimpse of our favourites. We sat in the breakfast area for hours just to be there when they came. Believe me when I say that I’m not a person who goes crazy about big stars. But this was so much fun that I let myself be star struck for once!

So we saw everyone – From Dhoni to Yuvraj to Jadeja to Raina to Rahane to Wasim Akram to Harsha Bhogle to Ganguly to Sidhu. We saw them at breakfast. We saw them at the gym. We saw them when they came back from the match. We saw them at breakfast when they were blue the next day. We saw them leave for India. We were not allowed to click pictures because the security was very tight. But I am ok. I like memories more than pictures.

Coming to the match that we unfortunately lost - it was one of the best experiences of my life. We sat amongst the local crowd who were supporting the opposite team. So, when they said ‘Go, Lanka, Go’ we responded ‘Home’. In the end they took their revenge by booing India at the top of their voices. It was a fun tug-o-war and we loved each moment of it. We clapped, we jumped, and we cursed, and in the end left with an experience that would perhaps be etched in our minds for life.

We were lucky indeed to go and be a part of this grand event. We were luckier to have India as a finalist.  I’ve told the Boy not to expect any more prizes since this is all one can expect in a lifetime. I’m grateful to be blessed in so many ways, really, I am.

That's Yuvraj behind me. Uncle could not resist taking a picture :)

Outside our hotel Lobby

Shopping at the hotel shop for the Big Match

Indian team warming up before the match

When the match almost got cancelled

Us :)

And did I tell you we came on TV for 1 'whole' second!
I told you all to look for us.
This is a shot from the recording :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

S is for... Selfies

Selfie is probably the most widely used word in 2014. Ever since Ellen Degeneres posted this Oscar selfie, suddenly a silly thing became a rage. Ofcourse we all have been guilty of committing this not-so-gruesome crime sometime or the other; but this epidemic, it is disturbing.

The alarm bells started ringing when I witnessed an incident in Dhaka. We were siting at Nandos. There was a group of 4 teenagers: two girls and two boys. The girls were busy putting on make-up and clicking selfies in different poses. They would darken the kajal and try again. Then the lipstick would look light and that would need a touch-up. This went on for more than 15-20 minutes while the boys stared at the girls. Maybe the girls were taking some sort of revenge from the guys for their obsession with Candy Crush! But if it was my companion paying more attention to himself/herself in a restaurant, it would have ended in a major brawl.

Then there are types of selfies that make my blood boil – The top of the list being the selfie with a pout. I mean, whom are you trying to lure? The neighbour has been leching anyway! Then there are I-am-sleeping selfies which you take on the bed pretending to be a sleeping beauty. You assume we all are morons and know zilch about this pose? Ha! You wish! We are all experts!

The selfie that focuses on the double chin is my favourite. This poor, innocent chap doesn’t know how ugly he looks while assuming that he is posting his best picture. The flaps give him away, you know. Thank God our ladies are not into posting naked, pregnant belly selfies because believe me guys, there is a rage for that one on the WWW as well. 

To each his own, you say? No! The self-obsessed selfies spread a distressing message and we need to find a way out. All said and done, who will look at these pictures 5 years down the line? I love the limited number of pictures from my childhood. The thought of organizing my dropbox scares me already. If I had to filter minute-by-minute selfies in my account – ah, God help me!

Not just this, we’re passing this disease to animals as well. Must say, they definitely look better than humans pouting.

I'm a better poser than you.

If you have to do it, do it with attitude

There is no one sweeter than me in the whole wide world!

Ok. I agree. Selfies have done some good to the world. 

Image from here: 1, 2, 3

Monday, April 21, 2014

R is for... Reasoning

Men are dogs.
Women are cats.
Dogs are loyal.
Cats are cunning.
Now we know why we rule the world? #feelingclever

Optimists have positive expectations.
Pessimists have negative expectations.
Now you who you should marry? #LessonsFromMarriage

Women like cute men chasing stuff
Cricket is all about cute men and chasing stuff
Heck! Why should we not like cricket? #supportViratRCB #IPLfever

Shopping is therapeutic.
Eating is therapeutic.
Sex is therapeutic.
Who told men to just choose two? #Stillneedsreasoning

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Q is for... Quiz – Are you awesome like me?

1.What do you do on the h(p)ot seat?
a) Pretend you are a movie star and talk out loud with yourself
b) Check blogger, twitter, FB.
c) Read the paper/book.
d) All of the above; depends.

2.What do you do on the first day of dieting?
a) Postpone it for tomorrow
b) Fall sick and eat more to feel stronger
c) Eat nothing all day, crave for a pizza in the evening and then eventually order one to congratulate yourself.
d) All of the above; depends

3.What do you do when you see someone digging their nose?
a) Laugh and make them really uncomfortable
b) Remember that you want to dig your nose too
c) Look at the sky but from the corner of the eye you are still staring and waiting for the person to finish
d) All of the above; depends

4.What do you do when you feel like watching porn?
a) Search YouTube and look for Indian movies with some erotica
b) Search for Sunny Leone
c) Dig some ‘stuff’ from the ‘secret/private’ folder from your laptop
d) None of the above. Also, all. Can't confess. Too embarrassing.

5.What do you do to sound smart?
a) Read Google news headlines every single day
b) Share intellectual links on FB
c) During a conversation pretend you have important messages coming on your phone
d) All of the above; depends.

6. What do you do when you are losing to someone on Words with Friends?
a) Cheat. Obviously
b) Sulk. Obviously
c) Cheat. Again.
d) All of the above. Always.

7. Why would you take a quiz like this one?
a) Because you love the author and you want to be like her.
b) Because you saw 'porn' written somewhere in the middle.
c) Because Q is a very difficult alphabet and you wanted to know how someone creates magic out of it. That, and because you are a narcissist too.
d) All of the above.

So, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, friends and lurkers, if your answer is 'd' to all the above questions, you are as awesome as me. And if not, you are anyway awesome because you managed to complete this very awesome quiz. To add,  if you use the word awesome as much as I do, then you are 100% like me.
Thankyou for your patience. See you on Monday with a more easy to deal with 'R'!

Friday, April 18, 2014

P is for... Please hear what I'm not saying

I wear a dark mascara, I wear Jimmy Choos
I drool over Chanel, I have a collection of a million shoes.
I wear a confidence that only a few can muster
If I have to get there, I tend to get there faster.
But try to see the lines embedded beneath that eye,
The soreness that comes, when the heel gets high.
I don’t do it all for me, I am sometimes suffering,
Will you please hear what I’m not saying?

I am ruthless, I have broken all rules,
I am just perfect, never have those blues.
I eat mutton on Tuesday, Temples are not for me,
Feminism, AIDS, oh, I care a damn about child literacy.
But did you hear I make kind gestures to the poorest stranger,
I want to sponsor a girl child, want to help her like a mother .
Every night before sleeping, you’ll hear me praying,
But you can’t for it's silent…Can you hear what I’m not saying?

If I crack silly jokes, it doesn’t mean I have a non-existent IQ,
If I act like a teenager, it doesn’t mean I haven’t grown up like you.
No, I won't drop the act 'cause I like it that way,
And I don't want your sympathy, don't think too much after this essay.
Just be aware of the mask 'cause, like you, most of the time I’m playing
Like you, I want to be heard, but first, Please hear what I’m not saying.

I wrote this poem 3 years back because someone said a few things which annoyed me. Something like that happened today as well and I tuned out thinking of these words. This verse is inspired by this poem penned by Charles C. Finn and it has had a huge impact on my life. We all wear masks, don't we? Then why is it so difficult for others to understand us? Think about it. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

O is for... Oh, Friendship

I know this O is not really an O but an F. But today I was reading a few old posts from my blog and started to miss my friends. I dialled N but she was busy cooking for her husband’s boss from the U.S. She said she would curse me tomorrow for not calling before... oh, the blah when you miss someone!

I was reading how much I loved N when I flew to India especially for her wedding. Then I equally loved P because I did the same for her. I was reading how guilty I was for not making it to Y’s wedding. And then I read how much fun her e-baby shower was. I read the post where I felt like a teenager attending Pri’s wedding. And then it struck me – life is so different now. From school to college to wedding and now babies – life has changed tremendously. And it’s all here, on my blog!

Friendship means everything to me; probably even more than love. I would want to be Boy’s friend more than a lover or a spouse. I would want to giggle, fight, share, argue and do everything with him that friends are meant to do. And then, if I am away and he doesn’t call me, I wouldn’t want to say that why didn’t you call. Isn’t that the most beautiful thing about friendship? – You pick up the phone 5 years later and you start from where you left. There could be slight hesitation because there is so much to catch on, but you manage pretty well and you love it.

The meaning of friendship changes as you get older. You look for like minded people with whom you can socialize. It is not like before when the teacher makes you sit on the same bench and you just have to become friends. Trust me, I found my bestest friends there. *Food for thought*: Maybe I should knock my neighbour’s door and we could become BFFs! *Note to self*:  You have already done that twice in this building. People might ban the creepy neighbour who knocks a stranger’s door every few months.

Even today some conversations on a Whatsapp group make me giggle like a little girl. Your childhood friends get you so well. They complete your sentences even though you have grown apart. But have you really? The best thing is that you can say anything to them without them getting offended. 

I know this is a girly-childish-inappropriate post. But I am in that zone. I don't want to show my wit or imbibe wisdom or crib about anything. I want to dear diary today 'cause I miss my sweethearts, those moments, those hugs, that laughter, those tears, the hi-fis, the I-hate-you, that I-love-you, the I-know-what-you-are-thinking eyes, and then that I-wish-we-were-together-forever thought! 

Oh, Friendship, bless you!

P.S. I have linked several posts from various years here. They are all about my friends. Go ahead, read them if you like :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for ... Nice – the nicest city in the world!

If you are a regular reader of this blog then you would know how much we travel. We’ve been blessed that way and thankfully the Boy manages to get leave from his office as well *touchwood*. In the last 5 years we’ve covered quite a few cities in our quest to travel the world. The only city we have been to twice is Goa – ofcourse nothing in the world compares to Goa. But if you go out of the country only once in your lifetime; if you happen to be like me who likes to sit in cafeterias, watch the world go by, romance on the beach, hog on good grub and just take in the experience of a new place, then you must go to Nice (pronounced as Neece).

Nice is a small beach town in south of France. It has the much hyped Cannes on one side and the city of the rich, Monaco, on the other. But you don’t have to go there. You can just sit tight in Nice and make plans to retire there albeit as a lifeguard. That’s how quaint and fun it is.

The city has a beach strip that goes from one end to the other. Although the beaches are pebbly, you would never see them empty. There are a few shacks that are always buzzing with activity. And the areas that are open to all, you would see young couples and families watching the sunset.

There is a long promenade adjacent to the beach. People usually take evening strolls in that area. At every few steps you would see an amateur musician playing a guitar and entertaining the passer-byes. Across the road from the Promenade, there are hotels and casinos –  a complete holiday package.

But this is not why we fell in love with the place. The by-lanes of Nice have charming restaurants, churches and open spaces that make you adore the city. When you walk into the old town you see a huge number of restaurants with open-air seating. The entire place is a party. When you walk a little more, you see small  stadium like structures where bands play music almost every night and men and women try to salsa. Being France, you see a lot of love around you. It is so romantic that no matter what the age, you would want to hold hands and blend in.

Nice is so tiny that you can cover the whole place on foot. If you are not a fan of pebbly beaches, you can take a short bus ride and find fine sand in picturesque near-by villages. We covered the surrounding areas by bus where the residents got their peace. The small villas and holiday homes were so attractive that we planned our whole life there. 

I leave you with a few pictures of the city. If you do happen to plan a vacation outside India, you must consider this pretty little thing!

A postcard of the Promenade

A small section of the Old Town

The Beach
                                                              Nice by Rick Steves

The video is also available here. For the rest, you have to go and discover. Trust me, you will love it. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for... Mutual Admiration Club

If there is a biggest Mutual Admiration Club in the universe, it is here, in our Blogosphere. You agree, don’t you?

When I started out, I had to literally push my friends to read. Some of them wouldn’t even read at gunpoint. The ones who did succumb to death threats came here once in six months and reluctantly let me know how wonderful my writing was. And now, I can count on my fingers the number of non-bloggers who regularly read this space. That number is really small, but what to do, I have given up hope. BFF should really be redefined and a blogging clause should be added. Sigh.

Our small universe survives on daily dose of encouragement from each other. You scratch my back, I scratch yours. On some days this culture annoys me a whole lot. Don’t get me wrong – I do have my favourite blogs – not only because I enjoy how they write but also because I have now come to know these people through their work and I absolutely adore them. When I read their posts I compliment as much as I criticize. That balance is what I crave for in this universe. 

You see I was never the type of person you would come to if you wanted flattering remarks. On a bad day my friends would stay away from me because I would tell them on their face that their dark circles were growing bigger. On a good day, they would push for my opinion because they thought I would be fair. It is another thing that after my judgement their day suddenly could become bad! So comments like ‘brilliant post’, ‘awesome one’, ‘loved your thoughts’, ‘superbly written’, etc,etc always make me wonder if I am missing a point! This not only happens with other blogs but even mine. Sometimes I don’t think I deserve the applause, but then I get confused that perhaps I don’t know anything about writing.

Maybe after this I will be flooded with compliments. Or maybe, I will be left alone with my only faithful reader – Google Bot. Whatever it is, every society has a certain code of conduct – our top most rule is mutual admiration. As a member of this club I hereby pledge that no matter how much it baffles me, I shall try my best not doubt it. After all, you are my only hope; the BFFs will not surrender to intimidations anyway!

Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for... Life’s Lesson

Dear Life, You suck.
But you know what, I know how to duck.
So when you give me lemons, I concoct a Mojito,
I am smart that way, just to let you know.

On a dull day they tell me to count my blessings,
They press on that and tell me how I’ve had a fair innings.
Deep inside they feel happy,
On how they are glad today and I am somehow feeling gloomy.

But I know how to fool them too,
I sing and dance and jump even when I am blue.
They then grow dark green with jealousy,
Seeing that makes me very, very happy!

Sadist you say, yes, probably that’s what we all are,
Nothing makes us feel better than someone else’s despair, how bizarre!
'Look below yourself and suddenly you feel rich':
That commandment is probably happiness’s best sales pitch.

I am not being sarcastic; this is an honest confession.
Try it; happiness will thus follow gloom in quick succession.
When all fundas fail, look at someone more miserable than you,
That’s the irony, life sucks big time for everyone else too.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

K is for... Keeping up with the Joneses

Hey! Hey! Hey! Look what she’s got
Gucci, Vuitton and Chanel to strut.
She shows-off her Rolex and wears Armani,
She got DeBeers, ah! more than many.
Don’t doubt his status as he rolls-in in his Audi,
His suits are tailor made at Massimo Dutti.
He shops at Bloomindales; loves Monaco, 
Flies business class – to and fro.

So what do you do to keep up with them?
Try the fakes and find a real gem?
You brag about your plans and how they never materialise.
Then crib how Prada and Chanel don’t customise.
You learn the terms and blame it on the economy.
You hide your face behind your Maruti Suzuki.
Oh get a life, their world is fake.
Behind the moolah, there is too much at stake.

Be happy with who you are, relish whatever you own.
The bags, the shoes, these brands are too shallow to clone.
The worst form of showing love is their air kisses,
Be real; don't try to catch up with these phony Joneses.
Splurge on experiences, do the world some good
Make the earth a better place, be as genuine as you could.
I tell you today and I tell you now
Be who you are and take a bow.

Friday, April 11, 2014

J is for... Just Joking

Some jokes aren’t funny. What do you have to say about these – 

I would have paid for my wife and her mother to fly on Malaysia Airlines.

But I spent all my money sending them on a cruise after the Concordia capsized.

This one is actually sick. How can people joke about people who were on that ill-fated plane?
yUVi is now XYZ.

Frankly, I don’t think poor Yuvraj Singh deserves this flak after the T-20 final. Maybe he is not playing well. Sachin couldn’t also at times. I mean, I shook his hand the same morning, dude. #showingoff

I was raping a woman the other night and she cried, "Please, think of my children!"

Kinky bitch. 

These jokes about rape and genitals – oh, how much I abhor them.

Really these lame jokes are all over the Internet these days. Men and women read these and LOL. What’s happening to our sense of humour? We smile over dead people, rapes amuse us and we feel happy at someone’s downfall? Get creative with it, people.

You can’t mock someone and use the phrase ‘Just Joking’. You can’t tell me I have a paunch like a pregnant woman and get away with it. You really can’t accuse me of adding too much garlic in Chinese food, tell me it is not done like that and then laugh like I don’t know anything. There is a line, and you should know where to draw it.

People joke about Blondes, Irish and Sardars. I really don’t think the people in question are not offended by the humour. They laugh because they don’t know what else to do.  You need to know the thin line between cool and uncool. These jokes are not only personal attacks but they also display lack of imagination. You want to be humorous right? – Get creative and make people laugh. I am sure there are racist jokes that even the subjects laugh at – find them but don’t belittle them. Good timing and appropriateness can be an asset. Sarcasm and demeaning someone can be a liability.

We need Santa Banta back. We need more of The Big Bang Theory. We need movies like Queen and cartoons like Garfield to make us laugh. Humour is a serious business, if you need to say ‘just joking’ after telling the joke then you perhaps should not be cracking it.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I is for... Indian Cuisine

There was a time when India was introduced to Dominoes. Everyone from Raju to Ramya fell in love with it and their favourite cuisine became Italian. It easily replaced Chinese because Chilli Paneer and Chowmein were not cool anymore.

Then going abroad became cheaper and Sushi was introduced to our colourful plate. A lot of people fell in love with Tuna and Salmon wrapped in rice and loved to flaunt the new language they learnt – Teriyaki, Sake, Wasabi, Miso soup...

Arabic Hummus, Fattoush, Falafel, Shawarma were tongue twisters and they became our choice for a good night with Sheesha (Hukkah). Burritos’, Fajita, Enchilada, Nachos combined with a generous jug of Margarita added zing to our life since that spicy Salsa and Guacamole took us back to Indian fare. And when asked which was our favourite cuisine, the answer always was some firangi khana which not only got a great response but was also a good conversation starter.

But after 4 varied meals in a row, we always crave for some Dal Chawal. The yumminess called Tandoori Chicken is hard to replace. And when it comes to sweet cravings, nothing can replace mom’s Halwa or piping hot Gulab Jamun. No matter how cool you sound when you say your favourite cuisine is Mexican, you would always cringe if you get that every day for a continuous week. Am I wrong?

I’m in love with Indian cuisine. I hate my pasta without lots of chillies, I can’t stand the Chinese Chinese and let me not even start with the rawness called Japanese food. Arabic and Mexican are yummy but for how long? In the end I always go to Chicken Biryani and Palak Paneer. Nothing in the world can replace Tamater ka Shorba and Kheer (rice pudding). After all, who will like to have French Fries with Ketchup when you can get flavourful Aaloo Tikki with spoonfuls of Mint Chutney?

Are you like me... slurping after reading this post? Well, my job here is done!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

H is for... Husband

When you get married to the right person the husband or the wife becomes the centre of your life. You can’t imagine your life without him in any which way. Something like that happened to me as well...

Frankly speaking I never ever thought about marriage before I did get married. I met a Boy who had the sweetest heart and fell in love with it. The next step was marriage and we just did it. Just like that without weighing in the pros and cons, thinking about the in-laws, planning the future, thinking about kids, knowing the unknown – we jumped into the bandwagon and tied the nuptial knot.

It was only when I stepped into an unknown house did I realise what I had done! Since I had no prior thoughts and hence absolutely no expectations, everything turned out to be beyond perfect and so I did not feel much change. The only change I noticed was in the Boy and how wonderful he actually was.

It has been five years and I’ve noticed that I’m a very difficult person to live with. I control everything, I’m extremely moody and I cry at the drop of a hat. I mean, if I were my husband I would have been one tortured soul. But here I see a man making efforts day in and day out to make me smile each moment. When I dominate, he manipulates! When I cry, he clicks pictures to make me laugh! And when I’m in the worst of my moods, he would just make all the right moves. Do you understand what I am talking about?

In the last two years my health has deteriorated beyond control. On some days I’m literally dependant on him to move around. Obviously it worsens my mood swings. Somehow this guy hasn’t given up. I see him each day working hard to make my life easier. I feel guilty and proud at the same time. When I was getting married to him, I had no clue he had all these qualities as well.

And so, H can only mean Husband to me. They say they have the best husband in the world but they don’t know what it means. You see mine and you’ll know what the finest spouse really stands for!

P.S. I am in an extremely emotional mood today and hence this post. On some days H can also mean Asshole Husband!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

G is for... Google Baba ki Jai*

*Translates as Hail Google...umm Guru?

It started with a Garmin GPS in our car. Bahrain roads were new to us and this sweetheart helped us to no end. 'In 600 metres take a U-Turn,' she would say in her sweet voice. We took her directions and blessed her every time we got lost. But then her software became obsolete and she took us via old dingy lanes. Poor thing, all kinds of expletives were used to curse her!

With the invention of Google Maps on all our phones, getting lost is not a problem anymore. I remember the first time we went on a holiday; we took a picture of our hotel and the lane it was situated in so that we can always find our way. Now, thanks to Google baba, we would always find our way. Isn't it amazing how these inventions have have made our life so much easier. I mean, we could never think of going to an unknown city without doing any kind of research. Now we can just pack our bags and venture out. You open the phone and it tells you the nearest ATM, closest Indian restaurant or whatever you want to know.

Not only roads, Google has made recipes easier. From Tandoori Chicken to Kahlua cake, Google has been a big facilitator in defining the kind of cook I have become. Google News, Google Translate, Google Docs... they have made our life so easy.

Googling effectively  was the one thing I learnt during my MBA days . Now I know what kind of words to put when I am looking for a particular thing. Usually I'm pretty smart in digging information from the WWW. All thanks to my post graduation in business administration!

Google even brings a smile with its auto-complete. Just check out the following. These brought a smile to my face; go to Google images for more Google auto-completes!

And so I say, Hail Google!! Even Blogger is a publishing tool by Google. Double hail Google!!

Monday, April 7, 2014

F is for... Foul Language

Once upon a time jokes were actually funny. Now they just have swear words and we laugh at them like there’s no tomorrow. Seriously, what’s up with this profanity and its incessant use in our everyday language?

You see, I grew up in a city in Northern India which is well-known for its rich culture and sweet Hindi blended with gentle Urdu language. It is world famous for even swearing tenderly. While growing up I did not use any foul language. Till today F*$k and A$*H*&^ are the only two words I use – that too with asterisks! 

When my husband sits with his boys, all they do is use the F-word in combination with mothers and fathers. It amuses them till no end. If they don’t use, their party is dull and monotonous! I read somewhere that taboo words are a way to vent out your emotions. Does that mean men who don’t talk about their personal life in public use more swear words to express their inner feelings? And does that mean that women should start cursing more to help their partners articulate their personal thoughts? Wonder how that discussion would go...

Surprisingly, these words are used with equal zeal to display happiness and anger. For example:

  That is fu&*^%$ awesome news!
  What the f&^% were you thinking?

Also, when you add the F-word, your order/anger/emotion is taken more seriously. For example:

  That is annoying.
  That is F*&^%($ annoying.

I mean, the F word is so versatile. If you know how to use it well, you are a pro in swearing. And apparently making people laugh. Look at Russel Peters, hear his language and you will know what I am saying. Jesse Pinkman of Breaking Bad used B&%$# a whole lot. I am sure you know how popular he was (I'm an ardent fan as well!!)

So, should I too, like the rest of the world start using foul language to display my emotions in a better way? Oh, I can’t even say Shut Up like the way it should be said... how would I say F&^% you!

Let me not even bring the C-word in this sacred space. How much I abhor it! What about you?

P.S. I am still traveling. I will be back tomorrow and then I'll read all your wonderful blogs :)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

E is for - Excitement!

Warning - You might be super jealous after reading this post. FYI, I am wearing an evil eye bracelet to protect myself ;)

So, did you see the ICC World Cup 20-20 Semi-Final between India and South Africa? India won...Yippeee!! So, would you be watching the Final match on Sunday? I will be watching too. Just that... I will be going to Dhaka and watching it LIVE from the Sher-e-Bangla stadium!!!!

No, no, no. This is no April Fool prank. Let me tell you what happened: A few days back the Boy entered a lucky draw happening on our cable subscription website. There were a hundred lucky winners and we were two of them. Why two? – well, it’s a long story which ends in two mammoth discount booklets instead of one. We sold off one. Yes, we made a profit from a very useful prize!

He got so excited that he entered all lucky draws that were/are suppose to happen on that site. One of the prizes was 2 of 10 tickets, return flights by Emirates and a 5-star hotel stay for ICC Twenty-Twenty world cup final in Bangladesh (mind you, the teams are staying in the same hotel!). We did not win the first draw. Apparently someone canceled and we got lucky. So now, you can look for me when you watch the match!!

This weekend was suppose to be awesome in Bahrain as well.  The biggest annual event of the country is on and we had bought the best seat tickets for Formula 1 race. This year they have scheduled a night race with Scorpions and Avicii as performers. We were damn excited for that too. So this news did not excite me at all. The Boy then convinced me that this Dhaka thing was FREE!! Plus, obviously it was cricket. And so I prayed for the likes of Dhoni, Virat, Yuvraj, Jadejas and several others whom I don't know at all to do well and reach the finals.

I've been glued to the matches since we got the news. When India won the semi-final I was jumping with joy. I just wanted to hug and kiss Virat Kohli! Seriously, I've never been this excited for a match! I don't know how excited I will be if India wins the World Cup as well. Anyway, now that I've made you jealous enough, I leave you all with a recent picture of us. If I do manage to come on the screen, I might laugh out really loud. Please clap for me! 

Moi with the Boy who's sporting Dhoni like grey hair now!!
P.S. I have scheduled the A to Z posts so you will be able to read behind my back. I might not be able to check my blog because, you see, we might not be able to afford Internet in a 5-star property (unless that too is free)! When I return, be prepared to be tortured with several pictures from Bangla land!

Friday, April 4, 2014

D is for...Dieting!

The whole world seems to be on a diet. Green tea has taken over Butter, Ghee and Chocolate Mousse. And if you do consume these in large quantities, several cups of Green Tea after a meal makes up for everything. Yes, everyone has interesting tips like these. Over the years I have learnt a lot as well. Let me share these with you absolutely for free: 

* Find a table next to someone who has ordered a salad. You might develop taste for it since the food on the other table is always better than what you have ordered.

* Weigh yourself for a few nights before going on a holiday. When you come back, weigh yourself in the morning. That way you will put on less weight.

* Beer has fewer calories than any cocktail. It makes you feel happy and rejuvenated. Not only that, you even burn calories by laughing/crying and dancing around like morons. Stick to it. 

* The worst thing about dieting is that you start calling frozen yoghurt, ‘Ice Cream’ and salad, ‘Meal’. Deal with it.

* Surround yourself with people who weigh more than you. Being the thinnest at 70 kgs is an awesome feeling. 

* Start loving the mountains. You can cover your beach body in layers and fool everyone.

* The best Aasana for pictures is this - stand side ways, breathe in, tilt one leg slightly and bend your elbows. This is an instant way to look atleast 5 kgs less.

* Start following several religions. Muslims fast during Ramzaan, Hindus have their Navratras and Jains finish their meals by 4. You might eat regular meals for only about 50 days in a year. 

* Always blame your genes. Nothing is more satisfying than putting the fault on the parents.

* Last but not the least, botox is becoming a trend. Be happy that you are naturally large and saving so much money!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

C is for... Contest and a Cause

We had guests at home since a few days and so, I hardly got time with my laptop. Today, when I sat snug in my usual place and thought of writing something on a word starting with the alphabet C for the A to Z challenge, I happened to check Indiblogger.

And guess what, results for this contest were announced and I won the first prize for THIS post! Surprisingly I was not so thrilled because I got that satisfaction when I was trying to gather funds for a good cause. Also, I was sad to see that not many people had written for the same and the contributions made were really less.

A rather blurred screen shot of the contest page

I’ve done a lot of thinking and I fail to understand why this happened. Normally, when we have contests on the same website we get anywhere from 150 to 400 entries. The prizes for this one were as awesome as any blogging activity for shampoo/oil/social application. For this particular contest we had to inspire our readers to give loan to the needy. You could give as little as Rs. 500 (for Indians) or 25$(for foreign nationals). They were not asking us to donate, nor did they tell the bloggers to contribute; they just asked us to write! And most did not. Yes, I will make you feel guilty about it! If you can write a eulogy on a particular oil without even using it, why can't you write a post on small borrowers? *Hint: You can still write about them. The contest might be over, but life goes on.*

Coming to the lenders, when I was talking to them about the firm that sponsored this contest, I faced three problems – One, people thought it could be a scam i.e. the loan will not reach the right people. Two, people pledged to contribute but conveniently forgot. Third and the only genuine reason for not lending was that people had already given loans to their house help/employees and so, they were already doing their bit. 

I was obviously ok with the third. But the fact that people thought it could be sort of a ponzi scheme was ok to start with but frustrating when they did not contribute even after explaining a lot! I mean, there are hundreds of microfinance firms in this world. How come we do not know anything about their operations? The sponsor, which is a 4-year old firm, has all its facts mentioned clearly in black and white. Normally, they connect with NGOs that choose genuine borrowers. The borrowers usually form groups. If one fails to pay back, the whole group suffers. Therefore, in almost all cases, the loan has been repaid. It is as simple as that. 

Secondly, either you don’t commit or you don’t forget! I had to send umpteen reminders to various people. A lot responded well in time and I am really grateful to them for their help. I understand that life can sometimes be very busy and I'm really, really glad that they did take out time to do this. But the ones who did not, hmm, I don’t have anything to say to them. *Hint: You can still contribute whenever you want.*

I am very happy for Blogwati G who, I think, was able to inspire a lot of people from blogosphere. Her post has reaffirmed my faith in this community. Otherwise, seeing the number of entries, my faith was somewhat dwindling.

By far, as a participant, this was the most satisfying marketing activity I have done through this blog. It actually feels useful. Although I wish everyone was as enthusiastic about it as any other challenge. This cause is close to my heart and so the quest doesn’t end here. I would try to keep encouraging people to Loan a Little and Change a Lot. You will too, won’t you? 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

B is for... Blogging - my love!

You may know me in person but you may not know me at all;
you know me through this blog, and you know me inside out!

We all live dual personalities - one for the world outside and one for our closest people. Sometimes there is a third person inside you who doesn't come out unless there is a creative outlet. I guess that happens with writers, painters, singers... I may not be a writer per se... but I do write moderately well. So, scribbling here  gave me a platform to speak from my heart and I fell in love with it.

I started this journey in 2007 when a cousin of mine told me what it was. I was hooked from the first moment. She told me to customize it and make it theme based. I am glad I did not take that advice. I made this a personal blog and wrote whatever I wanted to. Initially I forced my closest friends to read. Thereafter it was open to strangers. I read a few blogs, commented and replied to their comments. Some stayed, some left, but the circle never stopped growing and I met some wonderful people through this medium. 

In the last few years I realised that nothing sells without good marketing. Bloggers tweeted, promoted their posts on facebook, pinned, instagrammed, the works. Of course most of them write well - afterall content is king. But if you need hits followed by a good rank on Google, you need to push your page. So I decided to stick to promotion on blogging communities and wait for the right time for known people to come here. Anyway, I'm assuming, they will just come here for some juicy gossip which I am certainly not ready to supply!

Apart from being my best friend who listens, this blog is such a morale booster. So many people come here and make genuine remarks. Some laugh, some smile and a few others nod along. I do have regular readers - mostly people who have decided to remain anonymous! But I am not complaining. Just the other day a dear friend told me that she checks my blog every night - I had no clue whatsoever. Hearing that made me feel so good - just like those umpteen visits by random people do.

And so I keep coming back here, several times a day, to acknowledge its presence and confess my love!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A is for ... Aunty - I am not!

When I was a kid, I thought sindoor (vermilion) and mangalsutra (a piece of jewellery symbolising Hindu marriage) led to children. Yes, I was a smart kid and knew birds and bees didn’t make babies. Similarly, anyone who was married had to be addressed as aunty. Ok not similarly, I just wanted you to know how superbly aware I was as a child!

So, anyway, this whole aunty culture in India is so annoying. Firstly, aunty is not even a word. Secondly, why can’t a random person say ‘excuse me’ or just refer to me by my name? If I am your father’s sister, bua is great. If I am your mother’s relative, maasi is my favourite name. But aunty... we do need some rules in our country.

The worst part is that this categorzation comes as a side effect of being married. Before marriage I had no clue that suddenly your face starts to wrinkle and from a sweet didi(elder sister) you become an aging aunty! It has been 5 years and I am still not over the fact that a few kids call me aunty. I am afraid to make friends with older people; because their overgrown kids might just end up calling me aunty. What will I do then? - abuse them and start a sentence with ‘What’s up, Yo?’ Oh hell, how else am I suppose to tell them that I am as cool as them and I break bad too!

When parents teach their children to respect elders, they should give them a guide wherein they should specify whom they are allowed to call aunty and who should just be who she is! A cute looking 30-something lady should certainly not be referred to as an aunty. If I am not your friend’s mother, then refrain from calling me an aunty. Lastly, if I am at a counter and you need to walk past me, ‘excuse me’ is a perfectly nice way to get ahead. Anything that starts with aunty will be met with a frown and a possible foot squashing.

However, there are a few exceptions to the rule. If your father is a handsome looking man and you’ve inherited your mother’s awful looks, then I am your aunty. If you believe in buying presents and flowers for women who could be your aunty, I would welcome you with open arms. 

That is it – only for gifts and a cute looking man will I stoop to aunty level. In all other situations I am your hot neighbour, a crazy friend of your mother, a cute-looking stranger, angel if you may please – but not an aunty!