Friday, April 25, 2008


I have a warm fuzzy feeling in my stomach. I feel blessed to have known some of the wonderful people I know. I am sure it is no coincidence that so many of them are employed by the same employer - mine.

There is my boss, for instance. I have written paeans to my past bosses, and you wouldn't think I would get so lucky a third time. But this guy is a gem. He has looked out for me, treated me with respect, trusted my abilities, and encouraged me when I needed it. When I did not meet an objective, he went out of his way to reassure me that it wasn't my fault but due to other circumstances, that it wasn't my failure at all.

On an unrelated track: I have been working for some time on trying to get colleagues together and organise a one day stint at a summer camp that this exemplary voluntary organisation, Friends of Children, is hosting. I got my company to sponsor the day on the condition that I would get enough volunteers. I started out tentatively, even sceptically: after all, Friends of Children has held its meetings in our cafeteria for years now, and apart from the Guy and me I've hardly seen anyone from our office attend (except one person who left the company a long time ago). It didn't seem like many people would be interested, but then I needed only five to make it work, and I promised myself I would find that many.

So here's the punch: I have spoken to about a dozen people, and not one has refused. Granted, there are still some days to the event, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed, but I am overwhelmed and grateful at the response.

And this charming lady - whom I already had great respect for, due to her professional attitude - offered to donate some stationery to the camp, and even got a couple of friends to chip in.

And then there's the Friends of Children volunteers themselves. Devoted to their cause, working hard balancing full-time jobs or responsibilities at home with all their volunteer efforts, yet with their sense of humour intact. One of them, Venky, seems almost saintly to me. His dedication is amazing: I believe he was involved in volunteering almost every weekend, and he had a baby at home! I have had long animated discussions with him about their work. Now he has given up a well-paying job in an IT giant and is off to manage a programme training youngsters in rural Karnataka to make them better employable .

These are normal (I decided against the word 'ordinary' here) people I know (despite my ideas of Venky's saintliness), yet they decide to benefit lives they touch. Whenever I feel disappointed in humanity, I should come back and read this.

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Tag...

from the very Mad Momma!

Last Movie You Saw In A Theater: Mithya. Still waiting for something good to come along.

What Book Are You Reading: I'm ploughing through two: A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft and Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations. For lighter stuff, read Stardust recently.

Favorite Board Game: Monopoly

Favorite Magazine: I don't read any regularly. I do enjoy Businessworld and the odd Marie Claire, but these days I get most of my reading done online.

Favorite Smells: Chocolate, coffee, sandalwood, jasmine, musk

Favorite Sound: The Guy's voice, birds (especially the cuckoo) calling, waves

Worst Feeling In The World: Physical pain. I have been through heartbreak, the death of a parent, loneliness and despair: but I feel defenceless against cramps.

What Is The First Thing You Think Of When You Wake? Where's the Guy? Or, what do I have to do today?

Favorite Fast Food Place: I keep cribbing about the long queues and bad service at Mc Donald's, but no one seems to do fast food better.

Future Child’s Name: I'm enough of a child still, and I like the name I have.

Finish This Statement. “If I Had A Lot Of Money I’d…” quit my job.

Do You Drive Fast? When I drive, I do it very slowly.

Do You Sleep With A Stuffed Animal? Yes, the Guy. (He's stuffed enough, most of the time.)

Storms-Cool Or Scary? Scary if I'm alone. Should be cool if the Guy is nearby to cuddle with.

What Was Your First Car? Is. A third-hand Maruti Alto that seems perfect.

Favorite Drink: Tea. Also like Coke, coffee, soy milk, Bournvita on cold evenings, orange juice, sweet lime juice, and margaritas.

Finish This Statement, “If I Had The Time I Would …..” write more.

Do You Eat The Stems On Broccoli? Yes. On cauliflowers too, if you want to know.

If You Could Dye Your Hair Any Color, What Would Be Your Choice?I've never coloured my hair - I'm not sure I ever would.

Name All The Different Cities/Towns You Have Lived In. Guwahati, Diphu, Delhi, Gurgaon, Pune.

Favorite Sports To Watch: Sports? Me?

One Nice Thing About The Person Who Sent This To You: She's a feisty woman and devoted to her children.

What’s Under Your Bed? Nothing that I know of. If I were Calvin, there'd be monsters.

Would You Like To Be Born As Yourself Again? Yes, only smarter.

Morning Person Or Night Owl? Tough one. Night, I guess, though I could slip into a morning routine too, given a few days.

Over Easy Or Sunny Side Up? Sunny side up

Favorite Place To Relax: My wicker chair.

Favorite Pie: I don't think I've tried enough to be able to decide. Bring them on!

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Chocolate chip is an all time favourite. Also love Baskin Robbins' coffee almond fudge

You pass this tag to Grail and Chandni.

Of All The People You Tagged This To, Who’s Most Likely To Respond First? Chandni? If not, it'll be Grail.

Oh. My. God.

No, I haven't forsaken my atheism. But I still turn to these words when something momentous happens.

The F-Word blog has linked to me. I am overwhelmed, not least because this was one of the first feminist websites that I started reading regularly, and it's still one that I read nearly every day.

Let me go sit in my corner and let it sink in.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Outwitting the Guy - II

I accuse the Guy of not having informed me of some detail.

"I did!" he protests. "I came by your desk and said so!"

"And was I there at the time?" I ask.

Phone Conversation of the Day - III

What are you supposed to say when someone calls on your phone (by mistake - wrong number) and asks, "Phone kahan laga hai ?/Who's speaking?"

And what answer could I give that would satisfy them? My flat number? The country I live in? My almost-impossible-to-get-right-on-hearing-it-the-first-time name?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mothers are Best Friends, and Fathers are...


That's right. This article in the Economic Times discusses how mothers of celebrities, celebrity mothers, as well as other less-famous mothers are so obsessed with being friends with their children that they do not adequately parent them. The article exhorts mothers to be parents, not friends, and gives valuable advice such as mothers being friends with their children "leaves the children without a mother who can guide them" and as "kids need a parent, not another friend, this leaves them motherless."

So if the mother becoming a friend leaves the child parentless, what is the father doing? And if there isn't any father around, isn't that part of the problem? (Unless the fathers of all the children the psychologists and other experts in the article studied, are dead.) One of the experts apparently attributes "the rise in the number of mothers wanting to be their children’s best friend to a lack of time and to parents finding it is easier to let children lay down their own rules." So if this is about parents not parenting well, why is there no mention of fathers?

We can view this in either of two ways: a) mothers are to be blamed when anything goes wrong - even when they are at their child's side doing their best, it is their fault; b) fathers aren't parents at all.

Either way, there is something wrong.

I Can Live With...

Two meals a day
One change of clothes
One Guy
One room
and a bathroom with water on tap
One window to look out through
One door to shut out everything with
Something to achieve each day.

Monday, April 14, 2008

What's New...

about rape or child sexual abuse? It happens often enough, all over the world.

What is new, and heartrending, is that this eight-year-old girl went to court against her father, who had forced her into "marriage" with a thirty-year-old. She had no support from relatives or friends, so she went up to the court by herself and asked for divorce. Where does a child get that kind of courage?

How You Get Here - III

To all those who get here wondering whether a woman should change her name after marriage: I hope my words help.

To the person who searched for an answer to "i want some romantic words i can say to my husband": you gotta figure that out yourself, woman. If you can't, well, there's something more at work here than lack of articulacy, don't you think?

And the person who wants to know "how to respect (his/her) boss": leave that to the boss to figure out, I say!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Flash Fiction - III

I put the date on the document I am writing and stare at the word “April”. I look out of the window over a flat dry land, dotted with tall ugly buildings. Smaller buildings – houses – are colourful, as if to break the monotony of the brown landscape. Others are big and imposing, in different shapes and constructed entirely (or so it seems to me) of green or blue glass. If I walk out of the comforting environs of the AC, I know the air will be hot and dry too, and the sun will beat down harshly. Is this April?

I have only been in Gurgaon for a few months. All my life before that I lived in Assam. Have you ever been there? Picture lush green fields rolling into the distance, flanked by darker green hills. In the morning, you can see a veil of mist on the hills. There is a river overflowing its banks, rushing madly down its canal. Look at those flaming trees: the yellow and red blossoms overwhelm the green leaves. In the distance, storm clouds gather. If you listen intently, you can hear, faintly, the roll of a drum.

That is the April I had known. That is the April of my Assam, when we all dress up in our homely best and visit each other’s houses. Where we young people practise our music and dance ahead of the Bihu festival, and become drunk with joy and the fragrance of flowers. Where we celebrate whatever little we have, celebrate that we are alive and have family and friends with us.

But I am not in Assam now. I am here, earning more money than I had dreamed and going home to an empty house. But back there, they must be preparing for Bihu. I will send more money than usual this month, for my sisters to buy new clothes. Maybe Ma will send me pitha
[1]. She must have started grinding the rice now, and will be thinking of me, wiping away tears as she remembers how much I love the til[2] pitha that she makes so well.

But here, April is just a word on a calendar, a word I write on a report to mark when it was completed.

[1] cakes made of ground rice
[2] sesame

Monday, April 07, 2008

Another Attempt at Flash Fiction

What is it about being a married woman in India, that you are immediately expected to produce babies? I have been hearing well-meaning questions, advice, suggestions, predictions since right after my wedding – not only from older relatives, but also, to my surprise, from friends, classmates, colleagues – people of my age who seem to think that I was only waiting to get married before starting off on a protracted orgy of unprotected sex.

I had sex for the first time with a man I had only met twice before, whom I had got married to earlier that evening. I got a new home where I often still feel like a guest and a new family I hardly know. The only thing that hasn’t changed in my life is my very satisfying job. I’m doing better than ever: I love the excitement, the challenges, the travelling that takes me away from my new home. When I am at work, I can forget I am Mrs Ahuja: I am only Nandini, the same ambitious, gregarious girl I was over a year ago.

Now that a year has passed, relatives offer concern and advice. Today at dinner, my mother-in-law suggested that my husband take me to a doctor. I tell her that I have a gynaecologist friend who has a clinic near my office: I will go there after work tomorrow.

She urges her son to go with me. He refuses: he has a late meeting. I sigh silently in relief, my mind on the abortion I had three months ago.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Trinity Isn't the One

I just read this fascinating article by a father of three daughters who is incensed at the gender inequity in movies. Why is it never a woman who gets to save the world?

Which is why it's even more gratifying when a Nagesh Kukunoor makes a Dor.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Reasons Why It’s Great to Be Married

… that I’d never really thought about before I got married. Marriage gives you access to:
  1. Sex on demand
  2. A ready partner to go to movies with, go dancing with, or try out that new restaurant with. In situations when the partner may not be quite so ready, a healthy dose of guilt is usually sufficient to convert them
  3. Someone to blame if anything goes wrong (I told you we should have done it this way. You never listen to me!)
  4. Someone to give you a cuddle when you’re feeling glum
  5. Someone to hold on to at night when you’ve just woken up from a nightmare
  6. Someone who thinks you’re the tops: terrific ego-booster
  7. Someone to cook for you and bring you breakfast in bed (in case of the latter, however rarely)
  8. Someone to cook for. It beats cooking for yourself, and while a steady diet of Maggi noodles may be satisfying, it doesn’t pass as healthy
  9. Someone who will share your journey with you, including your journey of weight gain, so that you can assuage your guilt by looking at them and remembering how skinny they used to be
  10. Someone you can crib to about how annoying your mother is (because you aren’t as disloyal as to crib about her to anyone else)
  11. Someone to egg you on when you are shopping, so that you don’t feel quite so guilty for spending three thousand rupees solely on clothes for yourself
  12. Someone to share with that you find a particular person hot (though it probably isn’t advisable to do this very often)
  13. Someone to call up/walk up to when you absolutely have to talk about something right now
  14. Someone to call up/walk up to when there isn’t particularly anything you want to talk about
  15. Someone whose quirks reassure you that you’re normal

To The Guy

I don’t know how I can love you more today than yesterday:
But it seems like I do.
I don't know why this time you encouraged my dream is any more special than last time:
But it seems like it is.
I don't know why I feel you love me any more today than you did last month.
You were just as patient then.
I don't know why I feel you're even more easier to talk to:
I used to talk about everything a year ago, too.
I didn't think it was possible to have become better friends:
We were best friends two years ago!