Welcome to my crappy world...

Welcome to my crappy world...
The inner landscape is often full of oxymorons...at least mine is!

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

One Hairy Day....

One thing that has remained constant amongst the world humans under this lockdown (forced & self) is their involuntary quest for both introspection and extrospection. Whether we want it or not life has boiled down to the bare essentials even for the fortunate ones.
while we women fight for equal treatment as that of our male counterparts, nature has done its bit in making us realise that women and men are just a few levels of androgens apart. All thanks to the salons being shut. Some of us who are not that good at DIY techniques can give a complex to the males in the locked house with bushy eyebrows, noticeable moustaches and a dash of beard. Amongst the thousands of forwards being forwarded during this lockdown, there was one such forward that resonated with my current feeling so I too mindlessly forwarded to the other groups without knowing there would be a backlash by a man stating that I shouldn't engage in gender discrimination.
 I knew it was an exaggerated joke but little did I know that a self-deprecating joke had something to do with gender discrimination. Turns out it has a lot to do with that!

This post may not go very well with women who find waxing, threading and other dreadful methods therapeutic but will definitely ring a bell with those who don't understand why we do it but do it anyway.

Ladies, do your gentlemen get waxed?
Mostly, No
Gentlemen, do your ladies get waxed?
Hell yes!
A few every week, few every fortnight and the others, ok never mind!
However, irrespective of the frequency the question remains- WHY?  Because all the other ladies do. It's almost like a screening test for most to even make friends..."Oh she hasn't waxed her hands"... "Oh My God! She has worn ankle-length leggings and her legs look like Amazon jungle". In my defence, I am just thinking aloud here.

Recently my neighbour barged into my house because I normally don't invite people in. Hey before you judge me, I have two monkeys so if you show at my doorstep without my invite you are in for a surprise. The same kind of surprise when u see my unwaxed hands and legs.
So back to my neighbour, she asked if I would want to accompany her to the parlour to get the hands, legs, armpits waxed because there was some offer going on. I told her I just get my eyebrows and upper lips done and that too once in a fortnight so these offers don't help much. Also, they don't even give you that light massage on your eyebrows after they are done (Ah the little pleasures of a sleepless mother) like back in India so lesser motivation. I asked her to carry on.

She immediately realised that I had miserably failed in her screening test so she immediately decided to hug me with her sarcasm. "hahaha I know these waxing sessions are so torturous but I have to go today. I somehow managed wearing long sleeves till today"
And I  kept wondering, manage what?
She might have thought to put things into perspective for me before she left so she asked me a thought-provoking question (actually it provoked two ), "Doesn't your husband say anything? Don't you want to appear neat?"

My first thought, "How on earth is painfully getting your hair plucked which is god-gifted just to please somebody appearing neat???"
Second thought- She doesn't know that my husband recently got to know that I pay 40 dirhams just for eyebrows and upper lips. I recently made him wait in his car while I pit stopped at a parlour and
I was back in ten minutes. He was so surprised he asked if it was closed. I told him I was done with my eyebrows and upper lips so I had come to collect my wallet to pay them 40 AED. He was so puzzled.....40 AED for ten minutes job? No, he didn't dare say it aloud because I think aloud for him too at such circumstances.

However, he did ask what I had got done so I told him, "eyebrows and upper lips".
He kept gazing and finally asked what does upper lips mean..?
I had to explain! So I told him, we women too get facial hair that we need to take care of or else I will end up sporting a moustache unless he didn't mind me giving him a complex.
He gazed again only to break into a burst of loud laughter...
All this while he was imagining me with a moustache and not falling prey to my sarcasm. That moment I felt, this man doesn't deserve even this. Yes, that liberating moment when u feel u need to take a no-filter selfie. Trust me I was so strong for ten days that I had made up my mind to never ever undergo this painful thing again. Thought I will break the stereotype. Then on the eleventh day, all my facial hair was back and so was I in the parlour to get them trimmed.

This time around due to the lockdown I realised I am so relaxed about my facial hair because there is no peer pressure (exempting the DIY women). This feeling and the backlash made me wonder about our obsession with waxing or threading. Waxing apparently dates back to the ancient Egyptians, but they had a more egalitarian approach. Men and women both used to get waxed. The fact that most men don't do it anymore proves that they have found easier methods of self-grooming. Or have we tricked ourselves to believe that hairless body parts make us feel confident and not like an outcast?

Nonetheless, hair or no hair, we always know how to justify what we want! Also, an ode to all the skin-deep relationships. Turns out a few are not so smooth after all(pun intended)!

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Particulars & Purposes!

The Oxford dictionary says,"A meeting is an assembly of people for a particular purpose". Let's delve deeper into the particulars and the purposes.
Going by the above definition, I have been attending meetings ever since I was a toddler. How? Let me tell you. As a kid, I have always enjoyed going to birthday meetings, because the purpose was always clear, "To eat the cake!"
It's pretty much the same even now, just that eating cake is not as simple as before especially when birthday meetings are planned as meticulously as a wedding where cakes are based on themes. The last birthday meeting I attended had a theme, "Love your animals" so as you might have guessed it the cake was a bone shaped vanilla cake which looked almost like a bone. To say the least, I wasn't pleased.
Talking about young adult days, when I used to attend conferences/lectures just to appear intellectual amongst my peers. Here too, the purpose was very clear- To ask random over smart questions at the end to prove that I wasn't dying to go for the coffee break.
A little fast forward to the BORED Board room meetings at my workplace. Here too, the purpose was clear (most of the times), but always long and boring. So, let's not talk about this one.
However, the purpose of attending meetings was clear at all these instances.
First, go to parties, eat the cake, come back.
Second, go to conferences, yawn tactfully, ask questions, come back.
Third, attend board room meetings, convince the client that nobody gives a duck about their requirements, have tea and snacks served by the client, come back.

The meeting I am going to write about now is the most fun meeting I have ever been to because this one has no purpose!
Unfortunately, I am a parent representative for a parent support group at my daughter's school who is in her kindergarten, that's right kindergarten. The day I formed a whatsapp group for all the parents, somebody suggested we share pictures of ours with our little ones so that we get familiar with each other. I quite didn't like the idea. I was thinking, 25 parents 25 pictures, do I have the space to donwload or do I have the interest?

Yes, the same feeling you get when you receive those Good Morning, good afternoon, good evening and good night images on your family whatsapp groups. You dare not ignore them all the time!
Needless to say, the pictures started pouring in. One parent shared a picture of her's and one of her daughter's, like two separate photos (now, the count went up to 26).
Another parent shared a family picture and had the courage to caption it and label it. The caption said, "We are Anaya's parents". 
As if anybody cared!
Then the labeling part, one arrow directed towards her dad that read, "Anaya's Father", another arrow towards her mom that read, "Anaya's Mother". Yes, there was every chance to get confused over there. Not to forget the third arrow pointing at Anaya herself. Poor thing, I thought.

Now, the fun part!we get a meeting invite from the school principal. I was wondering why have a meeting?the circulars are posted on the portal and for other important things like exchanging pictures of parents we have whatsapp. Nevertheless, I went for the meeting with my hair all shabby and a bag that had more diapers than money, only to see all the other parents suited up! Yes, suited up on a holiday! I am sorry, I am one of those lazy kinds who would just oil my hair while attending a Halloween Meeting. Don't give me that look. It can be a scary sight if you are not from the Southern part of India. Coming back to the Parent Support Group meeting, they also had writing pads and multi colored pens and what not. The meeting began and the questions began to hurl at the principal. 

One parent goes, "Ma'am the uniform pants' elastic is way too tight. we have been getting a lot of complaints from the parents and we need to do something about this." 

The principal seemed to be a pro at handling questions like these. She calmly said, "wrap it around a big fat pillow and leave it overnight. I am sure it will loosen up". (Just like her mind I thought)

The parent also seemed to be a pro at this. She said, "Ah Ah tried, not working".

Then the principal suggested her to go for a bigger size of trousers to which the parent denied saying that the length can be a problem.

By now, I could see the mother hiding inside the principal had popped out so she said with utmost confidence, "Put it in a turbo washing machine, I am sure your problem will be solved". Luckily for me, the parent noted it down(may be with a red colored pen).

The next parent I am assuming must be a bank employee because she asked for a receipt from school for having collected 5 Dhirams for lemonade festival. This time, the principal noted something down. I am sure she wrote, "Go to hell".

At this point, I could sense that the principal was standing at the edge of the cliff and ready to jump. Trust me, the next parent really pushed her.

The showstopper parent said, "Ma'am, the school has said a big no no to plastic lunchboxes and water bottles, but my son is way too attached to his old plastic sipper. Kindly help."

Though the verbal communication of the principal said,"Ma'am it's high time we teach our kids to adopt green practices, don't you think?", her non verbal communication said,
"Suck it up and deal with it"
So, the purpose of this would be to go to my next parent support group meeting ( Yes, I still have the guts) and find its purpose.

I recently read somewhere that a top tip for handling panic attacks during a meeting is to accept that it's happening.

9 months and more...

Motherhood is probably every woman's desire to be experienced, so has been mine. Its a different thing that you are best prepared to embrace it when it comes unsolicited. It not only brings a bundle of joyous occasions, but makes you believe that destiny is not something that is entirely in your hands. I am writing this blog the day before my little buddy is arriving and I can't put in words the calmness inside me. The past 9 months and more has not been less than a roller coaster ride with the unplanned emotional outbursts to nauseous mornings to coping with your partner who has no clue about your crazy hormonal changes. Of course, it was topped with everybody around you telling you to be active so that I will be able to have a normal delivery.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Living between the "quotes"

"Time management is an oxymoron. Time is beyond our control, and the clock keeps ticking regardless of how we lead our lives. Priority management is the answer to maximize the time we have". what a great phrase by John C Maxwell!

As if life was that simple...

As if life and the society at large weren’t enough to fill our lives with oxymorons, we have these anonymously or famously quoted phrases that we come across quite frequently. Some can give you a new perspective, some can inspire you and some can really make you sick in your head.
When I look back at some of those quotes that have inspired me, I feel I have somewhere failed to read between the lines. I say that because  if moral policing with rebellious people, can be done only by reverse psychology, the morality gets imbibed in impulsive people like me by the motivational quotes that randomly appear before them and never by elderly guidance; you know the ones who tell you, “they have seen life so basically you don’t have to see it”.

For the impulsive me, I feel these quotes are most of the times the universe’s conspiracy to question my decisiveness.Few random experiences to tell you all how confusing my journey has been, but looks unapologetic retrospectively.

The “Trophy” husband
One of the quotes that put things into perspective recently for me was “winning is something, but participation is everything”. Now, its another thing that I took it quite seriously and ended up having more participation certificates than the winner trophies. All this never really mattered until I got a trophy husband who has almost won everything in his life, plus knows to cook. So, whenever I get trolled offline by his kith and kin about how lucky I am, I reiterate this magical phrase (in my head  of course) that works wonders for my ego- “blood is thicker than water”.

The forbidden truth
I think the two most decisive moments in a woman’s life is one at the twelfth grade and the other while choosing a life partner. Another famous quote goes something like..

"Remember that creating a successful marriage is like farming; you have to start over again every morning"- H. Jackson Brown, Jr. 

Fortunately or unfortunately, the quotes on marriage somehow rings a bell only after you are married. On that note, drum rolls for all the married bravehearts.

Coming back to the twelfth grade when you have to make a career choice, I was exposed to the maximum motivational quotes. I have always envied people who know what they have to do at the age of 18. It’s right when they say “things forbidden have a secret charm”. No, I am not referring to those  who push the door that has a "pull" signage and vice versa. On a serious note, I chose to apply the forbidden theory to my career which may or may not necessarily be the wisest thing to do according to my parents, in my defense they should be happy that I didn’t apply it on my marriage.

Since, I was fond of creative things, I was thinking of architecture. The elderly guidance that can make a teenager sick in her head like “oh civil engineering is not for girls”, “you should opt for something safe like architecture or computer science and get a safe job”. So, the feminist in me who liked the forbidden fruit obviously opted for the forbidden. However, handling relatives and family friends who know nothing about being civil, I mean civil engineering (pun intended) was another task in itself.

Pressure "Cook"er
Another commonly used phrase in a patriarchal society is “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Now, I didn’t know how to cook before my kids were born so I had to start from the brain. So, I washed his innocent brain instead of the vegetables according to the popular belief in love marriages. 

Constants & variables
some quotes are so contradictory that it takes the mickey out of you. If one quote reads, “keep your friends close and your enemies closer", the other as per spiritual ecosphere says, “don’t ever let negative people rent space in your head”. By the time, one understands what’s positive and negative to them and apply these theories, the dynamics of the relationships would’ve changed, and it often leaves you self pitying about how you are still the same and everybody around you has changed.

Some of us are optimists, some pessimists and some are somewhere between these two. However, all of us want the best out of our lives. Ever since I have started questioning every theory around me before accepting or denying it, very few quotes have appealed to both my left brain and right brain and I am ending my words with one of them by Steve Jobs…

“you cannot connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So, you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever!”

Again, if life was that simple...

On that quote, happy introspecting!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

When we were "hip" and could "hop"

“it is never too late to be what you might have been”. I realized my childhood dream of learning the basics of at least one dance form during my adolescence and thus enrolled to a one month salsa class organized at our college. According to me, there are two types of dancers, one that dances like no one is watching and the other kind who dances like every living or non-living organism is watching. My Capricorn husband who was my then and the only boyfriend I have ever had belonged to the latter kind. “When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change”. Alas, that challenge doesn’t look like one when you are in love.

Capricorns always like to know everything about the territory they are entering into so my Capricorn boyfriend decides to watch a video of the dance form and asked me “what if you don’t have a partner? To which I replied casually “they will assign” and he immediately enrolled to the class who until then enjoyed dancing only at Ganesh Visarjans without being socially awkward.

So, after the video it was time for the “google it” drill, that read “a dancer shifts their weight by stepping, the upper body remains level and nearly unaffected by the weight changes. The weight shifts cause the hips to move and my husband almost had an imaginary slipped disc. I somehow managed to convince him saying we will get some wonderful memories to narrate to our kids and now the most domesticated sun sign had to fall for it so he agreed.

After the initial warming up, the instructors started off by explaining the preferred dress code that included formal shoes for men and heels for women. Now, my partner is 6’ 2” tall and I on the other hand feel sometimes that my daughters will grow taller than me in a few months so heels sounded visually comforting. However, my partner is one of those who don't mind wearing a pair of formal shoes to a pub during happy hours but while dancing??? and that too when you are trying to separate your hip from the upper body? I had begun to lose my battle here. “so, you can put this in your resume?”, he added. His first dig at ruining my dancing dream.

Also, in this dance form there is a lead dancer and there is a follower; so the instructors decided to make each one of us dance with different partners each day just for us to get the hang of it or it may also be because it is a form of social dance like you dance to socialize. So my partner grins “you are a south Indian not a Cuban”. For those who don’t know, we south Indians bond over a cup of hot filter coffee.
He reluctantly agreed because there were two other tall girls who looked like Anne hathaway and Deepika Padukone, but the reluctance showed more on his face than the excitement so my friends were like “so cute” and I was like “yeah, my foot” and “my foot” was not the slang but a reaction to the stampede that had begun while doing the basic Salsa step with my partner. The only step where the feet movement is not rhythmic is when you turn your partner around so you can guess what must have happened with our height difference. I was sautéed deliciously. I guess the instructors had already given up on us by this time which got proved in the next incident that I am going to narrate.

Then the partner switch was proposed by the instructors and I was like “ok, let me get this right and teach him when we do it again”. Just, when I was gearing up to the offer, I heard my guy vehemently decline the offer by saying, “No, we are here to dance only with each other” and my friends were like “Awwwwee” and I could read the instructors’ faces though smiling, but actually said “yeah man, we are all uncultured people to dance with random people”. There was only one other girl in the room whose partner was a Capricorn (yes, I usually take note of everybody’s sun sign) who looked at me with empathy because Capricorns can trade anything to keep their reputation intact and here my Capricorn was actually safeguarding the other girls from stampede and his reputation from being sautéed.

So, then it was happily ever after since we danced like nobody was watching us because there was actually nobody watching us! Now, we do have a nice story to narrate to our kids.

This write up is dedicated to all those girls whose partners look obedient even in their passport photos, but only you get to meet their spirit animal.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thank You God for This!!!!

Today my research based article is based on something that is an undisputed favourite of all Indians, few of its neighbouring countries and all the food connoisseurs from across the globe; something that unites people beyond cultural and social barriers. Yes, I am talking about Pani Puri!
                           Whenever I get Pani Puri attacks, My husband gets a panic attack because I need to have at least one come what may to tackle it.
This lip-smacking savory consists of a crisp sphere made using either wheat flour or semolina that is stuffed with a variety of fillings depending on the place where it is being served; then generously dipped in flavored water which again varies from place to place.
We all have something that we secretly or not so secretly hate to share. For some, it might be your louis vuitton handbag, your Kanchivaram saree or your Apple products. However, for me, it is my plate of pani puri so much so that I cringe with pain even when my three and a half-year-old daughter (who is the pani puri of my eye) picks up only the puris from my 12 Dhirams plate of Pani puri that is generously served with 6 puris. My husband who has been funding this indulgence of mine since 12 years has had false hopes off late of demotivating me from eating lots of pani puri by orally converting Dhirams to Indian Rupees before me.
The filling or the flavoured water tells a story about that place. It is predominantly the boiled potatoes with spices that are available everywhere. There are variants to this as you visit different parts of India. Western India has Ragda filling(thick white peas curry), some parts of South serve this with boiled peas, grated carrots and diced onions. Some new age eateries claiming to make this healthier serve them with sprouts. The pani (flavored water) can be dominantly made out of tamarind, raw mango, chilies, mint leaves, dates, Garlic, and the list can only get innovative.
The world record of serving Pani Puri in the most number of flavours to be precise 51 flavours has been recorded by the Golden Book of world records. This has been jointly achieved by Indori Zayka & Dainik Bhaskar from Madhya Pradesh, India under the guidance of master chef Neha Shah on July 12, 2015, at Vidorra restaurant.
A lot of Indian cuisines have multiple folktales to describe their origin as the facts are somewhere lost in the pages of history. Similarly, there are 2 such interesting narratives that talk about the origin of pani puri. It is believed that phulkis first originated in Magadh (Present day Bihar) at a time when several traditional specialties of the region like chitba, pitthow, tilba & chewda of katarni rice were evolving.
                                                  Another legend associated with this dates back to the era of Mahabharata. The newly wedded Draupadi who married the Pandavas was put to test by her mother-in-law Kunti. Since the Pandavas were on exile, she wanted to test her daughter-in-law's culinary skill to manage with scarce resources so she gave some leftover potatoes with very little wheat dough and asked her to prepare a dish to cater to the hunger of all her five husbands. So, this was when the new bride invented Pani Puri.
Thank god my mother-in-law didn't choose to use this trick because her Daughter-in-law definitely couldn't have satisfied her own hunger in the first place forget about one or five husbands.

Talk about experimentation, this watery bread provides a huge scope for it. Those of you with a sweet tooth can bless your taste buds with chocolate coated pani puris filled with drool-worthy creamy fillings. You can find them served at the famous Kulfi House in Dubai.

Well, the pure non-vegetarians are also taken care here with the butter chicken Pani puris served as appetizers at many house parties.

The dish has also got jazzed up & you can have vodka Pani Puris. Of course, it can get lethal after a few puris so try this at your own risk.

Molecular Gastronomy, a subdiscipline of food science that seeks to investigate the physical & chemical transformations of ingredients has also reinvented Pani Puris in various ways; from deconstructed Pani puris to this street food looking like a sci-fi dish just out of a chemistry lab, they make it too pretty to eat. You can visit Spiceklub, Mankhool or Tresind Restaurant at Sheik Zayed Road to witness this molecular drama.

So far, we have addressed the desi, videsi, non-vegetarians, fusion lovers, cocktail lovers, but hey! what about the cleanliness freaks? They are the most important ones to keep this dish alive for the generations to come. Well, in the wake of Swatch Bharath campaign, there are pani puri vending machines installed at an eatery joint in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. These machines are available online too for purchase. 

Phulkis, Paani Ke Batashe, Gol Gappa, Phucka, Gup Chup, Pakodi, Pani Puri...many names one soul. This simple streetside snack has undergone many makeovers with exciting fillings from healthy juices to Chinese, Thai and Mexican spices. It is also showing up on fine dining menus different from its humble avatar for those who feel like clutching their pearls while witnessing the table etiquettes going for a toss.

However, for those who don't mind calling out "Bhaiyya Ji thoda aur theeka banao" even if it was George Clooney making this snack, for those whose Pani puri  marathon is incomplete without asking for that extra sukha puri at the end, it is gratification time for this savoury that has shown many of us to find happiness in the smallest of things in life.

Thank you, God, for Pani Puri!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Angry Eyebrows!

A few years ago, while I was still recovering from my cesarean delivery and had barely analyzed the features of my one-day-old baby girl, I could hear only one conversation running in the room, "Whom does she look like?". It was of course only my husband who had contributed to her genes according to his kith and kin. The twentieth time I heard that question, I frankly wanted to scream that she looks like a potato right now! I love my daughter but how can a day old baby resemble anybody! I think clashing of ideologies began that day and doesn't seem to cease anytime soon.

Child rearing is like those baby soap ads which looks all glossy and glamorous only on Instagram and Facebook and that too when others post them. 

Parenthood is already imposed with so many practical hiccups that sleepless nights are just too mundane to talk about. Your toddler wants to poop only when you are having your food and these two activities have coincided so many times that I no longer understand the difficulty of others when I can comfortably talk about healthy bowel movements while serving food to my guests. 

Talking about the generation gap, I feel I have one with my husband who is elder to me by a full 3 months, forget about my parents and in-laws. I am sure all the ladies out here will agree with me that most men have a tendency of becoming these idealist protective fathers especially to daughters and can get only worse if you are staying in a foreign country. My toddler started her pre-school about 6 months back and I have been depending on my husband to get her ready for school from the past few weeks due to my advancing pregnancy (Yay! the second one is on its way{Pun intended}). My daughter couldn’t have felt more South Indian as her dad generously applies a gallon of coconut oil on her and when I say on her it's literally all over and you know how he convinced her? He has told her that her teacher will not be able to catch hold of her for any mischief she does because she can easily slip away and I watched it helplessly because Dr. Benjamin Spock says that parents should always pose like a team in front of their kids and trust me I felt nothing short of Saurav Ganguly in front of Greg Chappell. 

A week later she was playing around when we were watching a regional movie, which had a scene where a forest officer couldn't catch the thieves because they were disguised as local tribes with lots of oil all over their bodies and my daughter immediately got all excited saying "Just like me and my teacher" and my husband jumped with joy saying, "Yes, very good observation!". That is when I felt the apples don't fall far from the tree.

The battlefield can get only messier when it comes to the already messed up education system. My husband studied in a Kannada medium school till his tenth grade and then suddenly was enrolled into an international residential school because his parents felt his academic career can be better and he, of course, had his hardships due to the transition and overcame them due to his sheer quest for ambition and hard work. On the contrary, I studied in a CBSE school till my tenth grade and then suddenly joined a pre-university college where Geetha Gyana Yagnas used to be conducted every Saturdays because my parents felt I was losing on my traditional values which I successfully entrenched, thanks to my quest for clarity of thought. So, clearly, the confusion has always prevailed. We want our kids to be globally relevant yet retain the juxtaposed traditional concepts. This requirement has posed so many questions in my mind while growing up and still does that I feel at odds when I get free parenting tips especially from people whose current status is that of a non-parenting one!
                                                               However, parenthood is one such battlefield where the middle ground has to be found inevitably and we have to bow down to Dr. Spock and play a reluctant team player many a time. So, we decided to enrol her to a school that has an ICSE curriculum, a territory unknown to both of us. 

As I tread through these ideologies feeling like a bundle of contradictions who is always the villain in the household and whenever my daughter asks me "Mom are you still wearing those angry eyebrows?", I wonder if she will ever know that her mother's eyebrows are the proudest set of eyebrows whether trimmed or not which probably may never get noticed. Well, that's why my mother laughs whenever she sees me juggling with these thoughts. I can literally hear her say in my head "been there, done that!" and now it's my turn.