Friday, April 17, 2015

Living Life Queen Size

This is a post towards Housing.com

Everyone knows that the first time you do anything, you need tons and tons of courage to take that first step forward. Especially if that one step means changing your entire life! And we do come across many such crossroads in our lives - one of which is when you leave the home you have lived all your young growing up years to become an independent adult.

I am sure we can all relate to the feelings and emotions that course through our hearts at that point - apprehension of actually, really being on our own, alone, fear of not being able to manage fending ourselves, excitement at getting a chance of living life on our own terms, pride of having been able to take that step.

I moved out of my parents' home quite early on. Professional college not only taught us the ropes in the academic world - it also taught us what taking care of ourselves really meant. It meant that when you walked into your tiny rented apartment you shared with 3 more (similarly mortified) strangers, you could not call out to your Mom that you were famished, and find hot, delicious food on the table. It meant that every scrap of paper, every piece of clothing that you left on the floor, was still lying there waiting for you when you came back tired and irritated. It also meant that water bills, electricity bills and anything that had to do with you paying for something, was your responsibility.

Four clueless individuals (including me), with no experience of living alone and armed with glorified visions of 'living on our own' thrown together to fend for themselves, DO NOT make for smooth, dignified existence. Needless to say, we had hilarious moments of learning in our lives.

The first few days we made do with basic amenities, which meant a bed, some bed spreads borrowed from Mom, a couple of towels and (the so important) bucket, mug and toiletries. And we guarded them with our lives!

As we learnt more things about surviving on our own, we discovered packaged foods, and also how to keep them hidden from plain view. We also learnt that parents sending food to us DID NOT mean that we ate all of it ourselves. Gradually, we learnt the art of keeping count of spending. We learnt that money somehow had this uncanny ability to stretch itself out during the last few days of the month - which meant that the last 100 Rupees in the wallet stayed untouched during the last lap of the month.

We also learnt to clean! Yes, frequencies were a matter of much heated debates, but we did learn how to keep our corner of the room clean. Bedspreads on the beds were protected (with requisite threats and violence if required) from dirty feet of others - even if that meant spreading out last week's dirty sheet ON TOP of the current one!

The landlords were a sweet middle aged couple who sometimes took pity on us and called us over for dinner, only to be shocked at the amount of food that we puny skeletons (we then were) could tuck into our bellies. We were given tips on how to wash clothes, how to keep them from flying off in the wind when drying them, how to fill out water in the morning so that we are not left high and dry (literally) in the middle of a shower.

The years spent in that little apartment, with well-intention-ed, but clueless friends amidst all the chaotic learning, were perhaps the best lessons we have learnt as young adults.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Make way.... the "Smart" phone is here!!

Have you noticed how people end up buying the kind of stuff that are an extension of their own personalities? It is more so when it is something that you are literally going to be living with - let's face it - today you do end up spending more time with mobile phones than you do with flesh-and-blood counterparts right?

In such a scenario, it would be relevant to spend oodles of time researching why a certain phone would suit you or not. 

The recently launched ASUS ZenFone 2 is one such phone we discuss today. While my technological knowledge is matched only by my uncanny ability to speak fluent Mongolian (that, folks, is my way of saying I know neither of the two ), I will still attempt to understand 5 ways in which my life can be made easier by this phone - just in case someone out there was planning to gift me one :-). 

  1. Speed : The ASUS ZenFone has 4 GB RAM. Now what that translates as to me is that I can, without much hair-pulling frustration, move between the cake recipe on a sumptuous blog post, and the videos that my friends send me on whatsapp - while also navigating through Google maps. Simply put, there is far less waiting time between the apps. Heck maybe the laptop can be given a miss when travelling!!
  2. Battery Life : Phones today are the lifeline to people who have to be moving, yet have to be accessible all the time - and I am no exception. Whether it is our kids, the babysitter, the office, the better half, one needs to be connected all the time. Who isn't familiar with the pangs of fear that strikes our hearts when we have the battery in the red, with not too much time to charge it? Ask and you shall get, apparently! Lo behold - this phone charges itself like Superman on an energy drink!! 
  3. Pictures : How many of you have had the disappointing moment when the baby gives you a killer smile, you try to capture it, and baby decides to squint right when the flash goes off? What say you get a camera with zero shutter lag and no need for a flash? Yeah! That should do it, right? Picture perfect.
  4. No hanging : Need I say more? Switching off and switching on the phone to get the damn thing to un-hang may just be a thing of the past with this phone. Just this one feature could be a life-changing experience.
  5. The looks : Judging by the pictures, the phone would be drool-worthy. From the high screen to body ratio, to the shining metallic back cover, this is a luxuriously fine looking piece of art, which at the price, looks much more expensive than it actually is. Wouldn't hurt to be seen holding it huh?
Well.... that's my list, am sure there are more.

This was a post about ASUS India .

Home is where the Heart is

I had finally made it back home. The delayed flight, the extra few hours spent in horrible city traffic, and my few days of separation from my family was wearing me down. With each passing minute of delay in the flight, in the traffic on the road, I could feel my heart beating faster than ever before. I was supposed to have reached a couple of hours earlier. 

One would think whats a few hours after three days of being away, right?

Wrong! Every minute was taking me closer to being paranoid - even though I was constantly in touch with the kids on phone. Random negative thoughts crossed my mind 
  • What if the kids are not well? I'd just called them... they seemed fine....
  • What if they go off to sleep before I reach? ..... Well, it is a school night ...its better that they do... I can see them tomorrow.
  • What if they were angry with me for being late?
 I was thinking of every imaginable thing that could go wrong if I wasn't there with them.

I reached the doorbell, and before I could ring it, I heard shouts from inside.

"Mummmmmmeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee......." Music to my ears. My little kids ran to me vying with each other to get into my arms. I had to switch from standing to hug my older one, to kneeling to get to the little one. Sloppy kisses and lots of deafening 'I love you's, I was able to disengage from them enough to get out of my travel clothes. I was so glad my husband had kept them awake till I reached home.

My older one, the seven year old girl, gave me a good night hug and rushed to her bed - she had school tomorrow and it was well after midnight. My two year old, however, had other plans. He snuggled up close to me and brought out his favorite book. And then he said something. Something that sounded like "Wound-wound-shircle" .......

I asked "What, baby?" And he repeated the same. I look around to see if my husband heard him too... then I looked at what he was pointing .... sure enough, he was pointing to a very large, very round circle indeed!

I shouted out to my husband.... "Did you hear that? He knows a circle!" 

I was happy and excited, till I saw my husband walk in with a smile.... he had heard it earlier!! I had missed the first time he said that!

Husband laughed and said, "He knows a Wectangle and a Twi-angle too"....... with a look that I usually have when I report a 'first time'. 

He then proceeded to hug me, and tell me we had so many more firsts to come - the first fallen tooth, the first day at school, the first scraped knee........ and we would be there, to share the news with each other. Needless to say, my son must have said many words by now.... but I will fondly remember "Wound-Wound-Shircle" for as long as I live.


This is a post towards Housing.com

Monday, April 13, 2015

Warm tales and cold Banana Fritters

This is a post written towards Housing.com 


During the course of living life in the urban world, life as I knew it had changed. People kept telling me that it was for the better. Yet others who knew me well told me it was but a passing phase, and I would feel much better. But I knew the truth - that I was moving fast into a routine where I didn't even have time to feel.

I was working hard, trying to blend in a demanding career, a family with two growing children, and still recovering from the death of a parent. The acquaintances in my life would have thought that I had it all - a career, a loving family and a happening life. That I was reeling under pressure to keep everything afloat, was truth only known to me.

It was during one of the much dreaded work trips to Mumbai (I live in Delhi, and these work trips added to my stress, as I had to leave behind the kids for 2 to 3 days) that I decided to finally call up a friend I hadn't spoken to in years - since we parted ways from college. Completely expecting the person on the other end of the call to pick up the phone, exclaim some nicety, and then hang up after a future promise ("we have to meet some time"), I picked up the phone and called.

I was in for a surprise. She insisted we meet - no, its not late; no, we don't have to worry about traffic in the city; no, the conference can end whenever, but Mumbai never sleeps. 

So it was settled - we were to meet, after 15 years! She also managed to call up other mutual friends nearby, and I walked into a cosy gathering of 4 friends. I was tired, looked as if I hadn't seen a bed or a comb in weeks, wearing terribly boring work clothes that were crumpled beyond limits. The reception I got, however, took my attention away from anything even remotely pessimistic - I was among friends. The same friends who cared not if I was successful in my career, who did not judge if I was a little conscientious than most parents, who was overjoyed just to see me.

The evening progressed into much lived, and relived moments of our growing up years, all the time we thought the simple problems in our lives would end the world. We had warm soft drinks and beer (the ice got over) and cold snacks - but it was the best meal in days! One of my favorite snack as a child was hot, sweet, banana fritters (called pazham pori in Malayalam), which I was eating (albeit cold) after years - the taste of that simple, uncomplicated dish brought out tears that one of the friends noticed.  

 As the night progressed, she started telling me about the difficulties that she had been able to live through, and goaded me to talk. And talk we did - late into the night, infact till dawn broke. And I discovered, rather, re-discovered my love of life. I knew I had a long fight ahead, but the stopover with people who loved me for who I was, unconditionally, put things into perspective for me. 

I got back into the stressful rigmarole we call life, but at my pace, with my priorities leading the way - I did not let the essence of what I had always been get eroded by what I may consider important; and I think I owe a lot of that to my chance meeting over warm hugs and cold banana fritters.

Monday, September 1, 2014

a letter to my Crush

In an attempt (a tad rebellious maybe) to be honest to the only thing that screams "THE REAL ME" - my blog, I continue to write truthful letters. This is the second one



Dear Complicated,

I know of no other name by which to call you, as you had always complicated my thoughts. I write this letter so that I may finally, honestly, claim that I told you how I feel - even if I am relieved by the fact that you may never read this letter, or the fact that you may read it, but never know that its you I am talking about. See? I told you it was complicated.

The first time I saw you, I wanted to see you closer - maybe look into those eyes that were so intriguing. Of course, the stuttering fool in me ensured I could not speak even a few decent lines in your presence. Yes, you were intimidating - and I don't say this only as someone who had my heart on my sleeve - you seemed to have that effect on many people!

We spoke - many times, as our paths crossed often. I guess I noticed every movement, every glance, every syllable from your mouth. I had played it over and over in my head  - in slow motion, wondering each time whether you meant something when you said random words, or passed amused glances my way.

You were tall - tall enough that I could spot you in an crowd. I could recognize the sound of your voice, your laughter - and your bike from a distance. I knew all your best friends, and even became friends with them. But you? You I could not befriend - maybe because I was such a klutz around you, or maybe because you already knew how I felt and didn't feel the same way.

I have moved on - life has that to its credit - I found my love, my happiness and where I belong. But you, my dear Complicated, will always make me dreamy-eyed and weak-kneed.

Love,

The one who chickened out.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A letter to my best friend

Before I begin this post, I want to report what happened to me for the last few months. I was abducted by aliens, who tried to test my IQ levels by attaching wires to my head. They then discovered that there was actually nothing they could find, so released me. I think they are a happy lot now, since they think all humans have the same level of intelligence that they found in me.

Well, that really didn't come out the way it should have, but what the hell! I have decided I am going to write a few posts without editing it in my head. So anyone who is still out there reading this, go ahead at your own risk!

I have been inspired to take on a challenge from a blog I have been reading in my sabbatical.... errr..... alien abduction. Shail's blog has been one of the blogs I have been hooked to for a long time. And maybe, this challenge might help me kick my butt to write a little more often.

So, about this challenge - its aptly called a 30 day letter challenge, where we write letters (Yes, those things we wrote - not typed - to people who stayed far away, or people who we couldn't talk to in person. Case in point - the smuggled in love letters). And the first of these letters are to a best friend - so here goes!

Dear B.F.F. (that's what they call you these days, I am told),

Till a time in my life, when asked to name a best friend, I would have rattled off a string of names still leaving me thinking that I'd left out a few. Those were good times - when the biggest worry one had was that a notebook had been misplaced, or that lunch time was still two classes away! But these times didn't last, and along came what they called the young adult ( the 'adult' bit being debatable) phase - where we made world shattering discoveries and mind numbing decisions. But the good thing was that this phase also brought you along with it.

We've all heard of love at first sight, haven't we? But is there something called friendship at first sight? Because only that could explain the phenomenon we had. First time we spoke, we knew this was way more than pleasantries, or even just hostel room-mates. We had what could be called chemistry - one that was explosive and soothing at the same time. Well okay... explosive for everyone around us and soothing for us when we got in trouble together.

There were fights, weren't there? Little ones that made us miserable and big ones that made us take irrational stands. But when it came to standing up for me, you had done it - whether  I was right or wrong. You walked with me, when it was against every shred of survival to do so. You fought with me to stop me from making decisions obviously clouded by love, hatred, foolishness or alcohol. And when I eventually did do what I wanted to, you stood there to pick me up and dust me off to face another day.

Life may have taken us on strikingly parallel paths today, with so similarity, yet so much geography between us. But the most wonderful thing about you and me is just that - it doesn't really matter how far away you are - you are always the first one I think of calling when I have a secret to share. I can only hope that I have been as giving as you are, in this crazy journey we call life.

P.S. You know we should have just run away together!! :-)

Your crazy friend

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Why the Success of Queen is so heartwarming.....

The world and their aunts are raving about Queen. I had tried to keep away from as much of the review as I could - for the simple reason that I didn't want to create hyped up expectations. But it was difficult to do, with everyone talking, writing and debating about the movie, and Kangana's depiction of a first-of-a-kind coming of age film of a woman.

Ofcourse the film delivered - passed through flying colors on every expectation. Let me attempt a list without giving away too much of the story...
  • Bang on depiction of the much talked about middle class, protective, loving, yet patriarchal family (asking the fiance whether she could work, the little brother tagging along everywhere she goes etc)
  • Kangana's face acting as a wonderful canvas of emotions - shock, frustration, fear, awe, resignation, anger, realization, and ofcourse, disillusionment, enlightenment and sheer joy.
  • The dream supporting cast - beautiful and bold women, sensitive and easy-on-the-eyes men. (yes indeed, there are guys that can make you swoon just by blinking their eyes)
  • Oodles and oodles of inner strength and courage - not to mention humor
But this post is not a review, it is an awed realization that we have, unanimously, as a nation, welcomed the movie with open arms. A movie which has shown 'culture' and patriarchy on a lighter vein. We have not taken to the streets protesting that the movie has 'corrupted' the minds of our 'behen-beti'; or that there are semi-nude sex workers sharing screen space with the protagonist. We have laughed at the chest-beating auntyjis and the overbearing mummyjis and the confused desi-turned-pseudo-videsi groom.
 
In the theater, it was a welcome sight to see women and men of all ages living through the ordeals and little triumphs of a lovable young woman, who is an unwilling, unaware champion of equality. Yes, she strikes a chord with many of us, but whats more is that, she made us think.
 
This is a post written with a smile that comes from realizing that all may not be lost, yet. For surely, a society that can look at the portrayal of a woman breaking free of years of patriarchal conditioning, can, someday, accept that this will happen in real life too. Right?