Saturday, February 28, 2009

The splendid Ixora


Ixora was another of those flowering plants that I grew up with. We had a shurb right beside the driveway, and one of my favourite pastimes was swinging on the giant gates while sucking the nectar from the flower.
Soon after moving to Bombay, I spotted its familiar leaves in the nursery, and just had to buy the plant. Have been rewarded by many many many pink inflorescences. And the best thing about the plant is that when it flowers, the flowers are so abundant I don't mind when the kids pluck the flowers indiscriminately.
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Friday, February 27, 2009

Vegetable sandwiches

At a prominent bakery franchise –

“Do you stock sandwiches.”
“Which ones?”
The sales assistant pointed to a part of the glass topped counter that was opaque due to condensation. The unlabelled sandwiches gave me no clue about their contents.

“Do you have a menu?”

“Could you tell me what the Simply Veg Sandwich has?”
“I thought so. But which vegetables?”
“You mean vegetables like brinjals and ladyfingers?”

Thankfully, when I bit into it, the sandwich had something that tasted more like capsicums and tomatoes.

Bored, or dumb? I am not sure I care to find out.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Part-time mother

“How come I don’t hear you yelling at the kids as often these days? Have they suddenly become angels?”, my downstairs neighbour asked today. Since our bathrooms are designed to pick up and transmit the faintest sound, she has been privy to all the trials and tribulations my devils have put me through.

"Not really”, I replied. “These days, I think, I am just too tired to yell.”

Partly true, but more than that, I lack the mental bandwidth to get irritated when things do not go exactly as I want them to.

Maybe part-time mothers do make better mothers!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Latikas smile

Around the time Slumdog Millionaire was sweeping the Oscars on Monday, these three girls were happily playing with a kitten on the pavement outside Mahim station. I am not sure Latika's smiles were ever as happy.
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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What are they called?

“Teeth”, I said, when my son pointed to his elephant’s tusks and asked me what they were.

“Teacher says they are tusks.” It was a statement, but his look told me it was actually a challenge.

I hate these situations. Do I contradict the teacher and undermine her authority? Or do I admit I was wrong, and lose the right to correct him when he is taught something inaccurate?

I decided to go with honesty. “Your teacher is right. They are like teeth, but they are called tusks.”

“What are they called?”


Why do teachers go beyond the curriculum?

Drabble (n) - an extremely short work exactly one hundred words in length. The purpose of the drabble is brevity and to test the author's ability to express interesting and meaningful ideas in an extremely confined space.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I love you too

Was randomly scrolling the list of text templates preloaded on my mobile phone.
“I’m at a meeting, call me at ….”- honestly, why not just say you will call back?“I’m busy right now. Will call you later”- that was more like what I meant.“Thank you”- easy one that – more an acknowledgement of a message.
“I love you too.” I stopped short. Surely, I read wrong. What kind of person sends a message like that without even taking the trouble to text it out? Never again will I crib about my husband not uttering those three words to me.
Drabble (n) - an extremely short work exactly one hundred words in length. The purpose of the drabble is brevity and to test the author's ability to express interesting and meaningful ideas in an extremely confined space.
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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Enjoy the moment

You’ve loved striding about in our shoes,
from the time you learnt to walk.
Remember how you nearly twisted your ankle,
while trying on my heels?
There are just a few years to go before,
those tiny feet get too big to fit into my shoes.

Not too long ago, you could barely stand,
much less balance yourself on my feet.
Today, you whoop with glee while I
swing you up and bring you down again.
Today, I can do it a dozen times, but
soon, I’ll no longer be able to take your weight.

Till then, enjoy the moment.
Drabble (n) - an extremely short work exactly one hundred words in length. The purpose of the drabble is brevity and to test the author's ability to express interesting and meaningful ideas in an extremely confined space.
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Saturday, February 21, 2009

It happened on Valentine's Day

One of those pictures where you intend taking one picture but end up with something totally different.
Was concentrating on the floral display, but the bikers bearing down on the frail old lady peeping from behind the auto makes a more interesting story!
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Friday, February 20, 2009

Sixteen Things

Sixteen random things about me - though, I am not sure if anything can really be totally random -there has to be some order to everything, right?

1. Growing up, I wanted to be a scientist of some kind – graduated in Physics, but shifted fields after a year of Masters.

2. In high school, I actually wrote and directed a play that was staged in the most prestigious auditorium in Calcutta – unfortunately, I never thought to preserve the script, and have even forgotten the story now.

3. There was a time when I could effortlessly rattle off sports statistics – today, I am not even sure who is the captain of the Indian cricket team.

4. I never thought I would be able to accept my first child if it was not a girl. By the time the second one came around, I preferred the idea of having two boys to having a girl and a boy.

5. When I see a cockroach or a lizard, I either ignore them or flick them out of the way, and I find it quite hilarious to meet people who seem scared of those harmless creatures.

6. My current hairstyle is exactly the same one I had when I was ten years old – wonder what that says about my style quotient?

7. I absolutely love knitting and crochet – wish the weather in Bombay were more conducive to wool-craft.

8. I was foolish enough to travel to Brazil without knowing a word of the language or possessing an English-Portuguese dictionary – don’t get me started on how I struggled to get a glass of water at a restaurant.

9. The only exams I have ever flunked (and yes, I have flunked exams) have been the Hindi language ones – strangely, the first language I learnt was Hindi.

10. I had a massive crush on Stefan Edberg, the tennis player –does anyone even remember him now?

11. I got my driving license the year I turned thirty, and learnt to drive five years later.

12. One of the questions I hate answering is, “Which part of India are you from?” Do they want to know where my ancestors have squatted ever since they came down from the trees, or do they want to know where I was born, or where I spent my childhood, or where I grew up, or….. I am an Indian – period.

13. By the time I was three years old, I spoke three languages reasonably fluently.

14. I took my first swimming lessons less than a year ago, and love the pool now. Who says you are ever too old to acquire new skills?

15. The pair of jeans I bought for myself when I started working more than a dozen years back still fit me quite comfortably – let us not talk about all those intervening years when I struggled to even push my legs into them.

16. Among other things, I want to run a full marathon some day- that is probably the only one of my dreams that is ever likely to come true.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


No picture I have taken has ever done justice to these flags. They look really pretty fluttering in the breeze, but the camera has never learnt to block out the extraneous stuff the way the human eye does so effectively.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pluto was a planet

“Planetarium, planetarium. Eight planets in my planetarium”, sang my sons while putting together a Solar System jigsaw puzzle.

It was an idyllic moment- the likes of come but rarely- both kids gainfully employed, doing something constructive, and enjoying each other’s company. And yet, there was a tinge of regret.

Regret for that little planet who always tagged along behind his considerably bigger brothers, but was now barred from that group. Pluto, who’s identity as the ninth planet had so cruelly been snatched away.

Soon, my kids will be old enough to ask why Pluto is on their Solar System puzzle.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bombay High Court

One more reason why I love Bombay -
Classical facades of the like you can never see anywhere else in the country.
When the High Court is as awe-inspiring as this, you wonder how it can breed a judicial system where justice is always delayed and often denied.
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Monday, February 16, 2009

A word

Got this of Facebook - answers to all the questions in a-word only - it is fun, and pretty revealing.

1. Where is your cell phone? nearby

2. Your significant other? imagination

3. Your hair? wild

4. Your mother? worrying

5. Your father? missed

6. Your favorite thing? RayaNaman

7. Your dream last night? vivid

8. Your favorite drink? water

9. Your dream/goal? happiness

10. What room you are in? kids

11. Your hobby? day-dreaming

12. Your fear? fear

13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? happy

14. Where were you last night? bed

16. Muffins? no

17. Wish list item? time

18. Where you grew up? calcutta

19. Last thing you did? cleaned

20. What are you wearing? nightsuit

21. Your TV? off

22. Your pets? none

23. Friends? available

24. Your life? busy

25. Your mood? tired

26. Missing some one? no

27. Car? dinky

28. Something you're not wearing? perfume

29. Favorite store? bookstore

30. Your summer? hot

31. Your favorite color? blue

32. When is the last time you laughed? now

33. Last time you cried? weekend

34. Three people who email me? friends, family, work

35. Three of my favorite foods? cheese, pasta, veggies

36. Three places I would rather be right now? bed, gym, library

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Hearts for Sale

Giant Hearts for Sale

Putting together a heart - it is a team effort

Wonder what the Pink Chaddi Brigade would think of this?

The view from the back, is always more revealing!

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Pink Chaddi Brigade

Where you can defecate in public in peace, but are harassed if you as much as hold hands. Where public displays of affection are forbidden, but a favourite god is worshipped alongside his girlfriend, not his wife. A nation of over a billion conceived by bees buzzing around flowers.

Where giving flowers to your girlfriend on Valentine’s Day is anti-cultural, but harassing unknown women during Holi is perfectly acceptable. Where a lady cannot go into a pub and order a drink, but a drunk man can drive even with a suspended license.

India Yesterday.
India Today!

India Tomorrow?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Batman's wings

The five year old started drawing Batman the other day, and somewhere along the line decided that since bats had wings, Batman should to.
"What do the wings look like?", he asked.
"I have absolutely no idea", I replied, wanted to see what he would come up with.
He thought for a bit, then drew the same wings that he puts on his butterflies, and coloured them black.

Not only do I love the picture, I love the thought that went into it.
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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Shoeshine boy

[These pictures taken at Dadar station within minutes of each other elicited two totally different reactions in me. Here are the stories I would like to think they told.]

Shoeshine Boy - I

Who does that Navin Srivastava think he is? Coming into the company with his fancy degrees and upsetting everything. ‘Call me Navin’, he says, and now, even the chaiwalla doesn’t address me as Saab.
I was all set to become the Asst Manager when Khaporkar retired- after all, haven’t I been in this department twenty years? But that bloody Srivastava wants to inject fresh blood into the organisation.
I wish I could quit, but like the wife keeps taunting - who will employ me?
For five minutes a day, at least the shoeshine boy makes me feel like a lord.

Shoeshine Boy - II

Every action of his is like poetry. A quick swish to get rid of the dust. Rubbing in just the right amount of shoe-polish, polishing it vigorously with a brush. The final work with the rag to get that perfect sheen.
There was a time when people took pride in their work. Now they either demand advancement without merit, or want to start right at the top.
When I retire in October, the people I will miss most are these shoeshine boys. They are of the old school. Theirs is the work ethos that no longer exists in organisations today.
Drabble (n) - an extremely short work exactly one hundred words in length. The purpose of the drabble is brevity and to test the author's ability to express interesting and meaningful ideas in an extremely confined space.
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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I watched and liked ....

I watched ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ over the weekend and quite liked the movie. Sure, the movie is slightly sensationalistic in parts, but isn’t that true of practically any work of fiction – literary or cinematic?

If the critics were complaining about how the movie is not faithful to the book, I would concede their point. Like most successful adaptations, what the movie does is to take the basic premise of the book, and uses it to tell a story that works within the framework of a movie. Which is a good thing – the only movie I have seen which is 100% faithful to the book, and is as much of a classic of the book is Love Story. In every other case, the movie and the book tell similar, but not identical stories.

But the criticism being levelled against Slumdog Millionaire has nothing to do with the nature of the adaptation. People are tearing the movie apart because of its so called ‘unrealistic’ depiction of urban poverty. And that is a criticism I just cannot accept. The movie does nothing more or less than depict the reality of life of the urban poor.

An aging actor who has forgotten that ‘Angry Old Man’ doesn’t have the same ring to it as ‘Angry Young Man’ claims that the movie doesn’t depict the real India. It doesn’t, but can any one movie or even a series of movies capture the diversity of this country? Can he name even one movie in the history of Indian cinema that has captured every single facet of India? In his heydays, the said actor attained fame for his portrayals of ‘Slumdogs’– did he spend even a day interacting with the actual residents of a slum in order to ensure that his portrayal was accurate?

Critics claim that the movie is full of unrealistic moments – how could so much have happened to any one person, and what is the probability that he would be asked just those questions in a reality quiz show. I do not want to get into a debate of whether the incidents depicted probable or even possible – all I want to ask is why the same critics did not raise the same questions about the immensely popular ‘Rock On’? How many investment bankers of less than eight year’s experience live in the kind of apartment that Farhan Aktar had in the movie – yet, that was accepted as a part of the creative license enjoyed by filmmakers. Why then should the makers of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ be denied the same creative license that Indian film-makers enjoy?

‘Slumdog Millionaire’ is a gritty movie about surviving in the slums of India, and I, for one, would recommend the movie to anyone.

And as for the Oscars - ‘Jai Ho’. Slumdog Millionaire is no better or worse than many of the movies that do well in the Academy Awards, and if the jury feels that it is the best movie made this year, I for one would stand-up and applaud.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


“Mamma, can I shut this?”, asked the younger one with a winning smile. The lid of the box of baby-powder was screwed on tight, so I told him he could do so if he liked.

When, after fifteen minutes of unnatural silence, I went investigating, I found him coated in baby-powder, making patterns on the thick layer of baby-powder lying on the floor.

“I did not tell you to open the lid”, I thundered. “I only gave you permission to close it.”

“But unless I opened it, how could I close it?”, demanded my three year old.

Irrefutable logic that.
Drabble (n) - an extremely short work exactly one hundred words in length. The purpose of the drabble is brevity and to test the author's ability to express interesting and meaningful ideas in an extremely confined space.

Monday, February 9, 2009


Close cropped hair, ragged clothes, grime-encrusted body. She squats at the station, glass of tea in one hand, a bundle at her feet.Did she buy the tea herself? Did someone dispose it off because it was too sweet? Did the tea-boy take pity and give it to her?The bundle? Does it contain the possessions gathered over a lifetime? Is she minding it for someone else? Is she being used to smuggle stolen goods?
She stares vacantly at the bundle. Sips absently at her tea.
What does she think of her life? Does she think of it at all?

Drabble (n) - an extremely short work exactly one hundred words in length. The purpose of the drabble is brevity and to test the author's ability to express interesting and meaningful ideas in an extremely confined space.
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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Mothers' Day Okra

It was a Mothers’ Day gift that my older one made for at Daycare – a white pot with his name written in gilt letters, with half a dozen seedlings of what I was told were okra plants.

It made my kitchen window its home – its strategic location next to the kitchen sink making it near impossible for me to miss watering it every day.

Despite the best possible care, the seedlings perished one by one, till only one was left. I never expected it to survive either, and was mentally planning which plant to replace it with. But the plant was more tenacious than I gave it credit for– though it never looked particularly healthy, it clung on, and I gradually came to accept it as a fixture on my window sill.

A few days back, just as I was leaving for work, I thought I saw a flash of yellow. By the time I got back home, the yellow was gone, but two days later, the slowly swelling okra pistil was proof that I hadn’t imagined the encounter.

I am not at all sure if I will ever be able to bring myself to eat the okra- I will most probably just replant the seeds. But one thing I do know – this is the most precious vegetable I have ever called my own.
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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Dog among the Pigeons

A burst sack spilling grain outside a provision store,
Pigeons pecking away at it, oblivious to everything else.
A ceramic dog guarding the entrance to a store.
Does he wish he could scare the pigeons away?
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Friday, February 6, 2009

Sorting Newspapers

He definitely doesn't have an MBA in Operations Management from IIM-Ahmedabad, but what he does have is an intuitive understanding of how to most effectively use available and not so available resources.
Any wonder, then, that India has come as far as it has despite everything?
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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Photographing Shadows

And there I was with the camera-phone in hand, when I saw this rather interesting composition on the display screen. Took me a moment to realise it was me, and I think it is my best self portrait ever!

This was taken a couple of minutes later, when I was quite taken in with the novel concept. Like the patterns the leaves and the litter makes, even if I am a bit perplexed by the bulge in my middle.
No, I am not pregnant! And definitely not in my third trimester as the picture would have you belive.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The city is impersonal

Weighed down with grocery and a sleeping infant, I had been a fool to use the escalator–the older one got left behind at the top.
A bunch of college kids jumped up, ‘I’ll hold your baby. You fetch him.’ They looked decent enough, but… ?
I didn’t have to take a decision- someone took my son by his hand, and brought him down.
Before I could thank them, they all melted away.

The city is impersonal, they say. So what, I ask? When you find a helping hand, or a dozen, do you really need to know its name?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Strawberry fields forever

I've grown up on strawberry jam, and have had boxes of strawberries thrust at me at traffic lights. But these were the first strawberries I ever ate as whole fruits (well, I didn't eat too many of them - the kids did the honours).
And, I wonder why I never really bought them before!
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Monday, February 2, 2009

What is Love?

What is Love?

When your baby wraps his arms around you and lisps, “I love you”.
When your parent is lonely and depressed, and you wish a hug could travel over phone-lines.
When you find a single red rose abandoned on the kitchen table, “I saw this at a traffic light, and thought of you.”
When a person you have never met messages– “Is your silence because you have been busy, or is something the matter?”
When you see a beautiful sunset, and know who you want to share it with.

Love is what happens inspite of, not because of.

The Many Faces of Love - a new story a day, everyday in the month of February

Drabble (n) - an extremely short work exactly one hundred words in length. The purpose of the drabble is brevity and to test the author's ability to express interesting and meaningful ideas in an extremely confined space.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Would cows drink milk?

‘I am a cow, I like drinking milk’, declares my son while demanding his umpteenth glass.
Avoiding the gender aspects of how he could be a female of the bovine species, I ask if he ever seen a cow drinking milk. He hasn’t, but his acquaintance with four-legged herbivores is limited.
You got it wrong, I want to tell him. Cows produce milk, they don’t drink it.
But is that true? Unless she is unnaturally flexible or fixated on other’s breasts, she cannot drink milk unless offered to her.
Maybe she would like a strawberry milkshake in a tall glass?

Drabble (n) - an extremely short work exactly one hundred words in length. The purpose of the drabble is brevity and to test the author's ability to express interesting and meaningful ideas in an extremely confined space.


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