Search my WHIMS n WISHES!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Me, Maid and Madness!

Busy, crazy, hectic, stressful. Some adjectives describing my life and yours!
Domestic chores; surviving unruly traffic on potholed roads; deadlines, grumpy bosses & difficult subordinates in office; scouting for good school for kid and her admission tensions, participating in her various games & activities, attending birthday parties; entertaining guests, socialising on weekends...Wooof!!! Multi-tasking is the name of the game!!!

Imagine you were granted a wish...something to get respite from this madness...What would you ask for? If in India, (as I am), it would surely be a LIVE-IN MAID!!!!! A much in demand 'commodity' in today's urban nuclear families who do not have the support system of the joint family our previous generations were so accustomed to.

Once you are fortunate enough to 'acquire' one, life would be a cake walk ...or so you would think....!

The other day my husband and I were discussing the day’s editorial on the current economic scenario- recession looming over our heads, leaving no industry unscathed. (These days, we wake up to stories of joblosses, paycuts, recruitment freezes splashed all across newspapers and media every single morning). My husband stated in his characteristic deadpan style that the maidservants were the ONLY recession-proof professionals in the current scenario!

Though it was a statement made on a humorous note, the words struck a chord and made me think….

I tried to analyse my maid's case. For convenience, let's call her M.

Working Hours :
For five days a week, M's working hours are five-six hours per day. Her employers (i.e WE!) are out of home at 9AM and back only after 7-30PM). On certain occasions when my husband / I have come home unannounced during the afternoons, we’ve found her either watching TV or sleeping. Sleeping so deeply that we’ve had to wait for five to ten minutes before she obliged us and opened the door…looked at us groggily in her sleepy daze and stated point blank that we hadn’t informed her that we would be coming home (in a slightly offended manner conveying her irritation at having her afternoon siesta disturbed). On one ocassion, I just couldn’t tolerate her insolent tone and subtly rebuked her that lest she’d forgotten, the home happened to be mine and I was free to come and go as I pleased!!!!!

Phone calls. To her mother, daughter, cousins, uncles spread out all over the country...M has informed her umpteen relatives to give her a 'missed call'. She has gleefully told them that she would call back!!! I wanted to scream and tell her ...lady, it's our hard-earned money that you're blowing away to maintain your social network!!!! My plight (refer to Para 1) was such that I could only mildly admonish and tell her to restrict her calls to a total value of Rs.50 a month. the next telephone bill told me, my admonishment had indeed fallen on deaf ears!! Upon reminding her, I was told with a non-chalant shrug that she has no control over emergencies.... Well well welll!!!!

Employee Health Benefit (beauty, nutrition): 'Health is weath' is M's motto in life! We discovered this over a period of time, accidentally!
My sister, during her visit, noticed her applying something on her face during afternoons and nights. I enquired and her reply left me speechless.
She had supposedly started developing pimples on her face ONLY after she joined my home. Prior to that her face was now the onus lay on me to revive her lost glow! To be frank , I really dont remember having noticed her flawless complexion or lack of it, when she joined me a year back. So I had to give her the benefit of doubt!

So now she uses raw tomato juice in the afternoons and Haldi & malai paste at night...and in a self satisfied tone told me that she was benefitting from this treatment! For your information, the tomatoes, malai and haldi are all sponsored by me!!
I wonder why I hardly remember to use the cold cream at night regularly!!!! Shame on me...

Last week my husband volunteered to do the weekly vegetable shopping. And predictably forgot some regular items. One of them being lemon. M expressed extreme dissatisfaction that 'Dada' hadnt got all the stuff. When I sternly informed her that I would get them during my next visit to the store and she HAD to make do with whatever was available, she proclaimed that she needed the lemons for her daily dose of 'neembu-paani' -a must to keep her blood pressure normal !! By then my blood pressure had soared and she got a taste of it instantly!!! Result - sulking and gloominess for the next 24 hours.

LTAs & Mandatory Offs : Her to and fro ticket fares to her village are obviously borne by me. And though her departure date normally coincides with ours, during our Puja vacation, though my husband had taken a leave of just 4 days and i had been off from work for 9 days, M HAD to take 20 days vacation. She wanted a month's leave. When I refused, she informed that she wouldnt and couldnt settle for less than 20 days as she had social and religious obligations to meet!!! Well duty could wait....if only we had that privilege!!!

Life, as is evident, hasnt become a cake-walk. Sometimes I wonder whether the comfort of having a live-in maid is worth the money and effort! Managing her various demands, mood-swings sometimes becomes a tad too much after a tired days work!

But juggling a multitude of domestic chores in addition to the office work, was taking a toll on my mood and stretching my ability to it maximum a live-in maid has become, not an option but, a necessity! So what's the guarantee that M's probable replacement would be any better than her? At least she's honest (apparently so), forgetful but responsible, cooks edible food and most importantly, is affectionate to my kid!

Do I even dare ask for more??

Dada - A Bengali word which means elder brother
Haldi - A Hindi word which means Turmeric. It is an Indian spice as well as a natural antiseptic & skin conditioner
Malai - A Bengali/Hindi word which means Milk cream and is a natural skin moisturiser
Neembu-Paani - A Hindi term which means fresh lemonade

Friday, December 05, 2008

Trivia or Truth? A peek into our 'Education Industry'

In India there is a myth….which may also be interpreted as a joke. That when you conceive your baby, you register her/his name in the school or playschool of your choice to ensure admission a couple of years thereafter.

That it is a myth or a joke, was a misinformation.
It is neither... Well, at the most it is an exaggeration...but definitely not a myth neither a joke!

I realized this recently when my daughter completed three years and we started enquiring about schools. Browsing through the websites of various reputed school, another fact which hit me was that in some cities of our country (in my hometown of Kolkata, for example), she would have lost an academic year because she falls short of the ‘CUT OFF’ date for admission by 4 days!!!

Yes! Had she been born 4 days earlier she would have gained a year, at least academically!!

If only I knew, I would have asked the doctor to advance the Caesarian operation by four days ! Huh!!!! What a joke!

Yes, in our country that is what school admission procedure is all about.
Well to make matters worse, in some (read ALL METROS) cities, money is the solution to all hurdles of education. The more you ‘donate’ the better the school your child gets admission in. A Lakh or so for your three year old!!! Too expensive? Who cares.....

And of course I forgot the recommendation part….an MP, MLA, or for that matter any ‘angootha-chhap’ politician or someone with some clout in the society or government will make the admission process a cake walk.

The admission process begins in another day or two…commencing with the form distribution, followed by interview (of the parents and their two and a half to three year old unpredictable, temperamental kids!).

I am tensed and anxious! My husband is cool and unperturbed! And the person (albeit a miniature one but a person she sure is!) in question, whose academic future or non-future is to be determined in a month or so, is NOT EVEN AWARE that the first judgemental event of her life is about to happen.
I guess, amongst the three, the onus of worrying and anxiety falls on me…!!!!

Angootha chhap-A Hindi terminology used colloquially to imply illiterate individuals who place thumb impressions on written documents in lieu of signatures

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Last night I cried.
No, I was not struck by tragedy. Neither was any member of my family and friends…for which I thank God!
We are unharmed by the horror that ripped apart so many lives and shattered hundreds of families. But still ...despite being apparently unscathed, I could not stop my tears from flowing....
I cried while struggling to put my three year old child to sleep.
I cried looking at my sleeping baby.
I cried thinking of a two year old motherless child in a faraway land who was forced to become ‘the child of the entire nation’.
I cried thinking of the times he would want a mother to play with, be mischievous and throw tantrums typical of a toddler….but wont have the indulgent mother looking on.
I cried thinking of the pampering, scolding, admonishing that a two year old is subjected to by loving parents but which he’ll be deprived of.
I cried as he will not even have the memory of his mother’s love, father’s care…
I cried for an unknown orphan in a faraway land.
I shivered in fear as I looked down at the other sleeping child cocooned and safe in her mother’s lap.
Is she safe?
Are any of our children safe even in the haven of their homes?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Terror on Television

There was so much angst, sorrow, disgust to express ….but I had no words.
Stunned, we watched the devastation unfold ‘live’. The sheer audacity, meticulous planning, the cold blooded killings of hundreds of people by young boys just out of their teens, left the whole nation and the world speechless with horror. Who were these people who had no qualms, no conscience and were daring enough to not even bother to hide behind masks we so associate with terrorists and gunmen?

What started as a ‘minor’ attack (or so we thought) took the shape of a bloody battle in the following two days. The common man on his way back home, the urban elite having an evening out, tourists and business travellers, the waiters and staff of cafes and hotels, brave men in uniform, a rabbi and his family from a faraway country….all apparently unconnected till the 26th of November ‘08. But a common destiny brought about their gory end for no fault of theirs.

I salute our men in uniform. Some of our most able, honest and senior officers laid down their lives combating terror. India needed these brave honest men to fight...not only terrorism, but also the rot infested system they were part of and yet had the guts and integrity to fight against, to safeguard the interests of the nation. The NSG , who fought a valiant battle against urban guerilla warfare, despite all odds.
But some questions asked by not only me but every angst-ridden Indian …why couldn’t the Government mobilize their services IMMEDIATELY instead of waiting for 10 hours and hundreds of deaths later? Why aren't our Police armed with sophisticated weapon instead of measly revolvers in these terror infested times?

One more question which has been bothering so many of us? Where is the ‘saviour’ of the Marathi Maanus’? Why haven’t we heard even a single word from this gentleman who created havoc trying to safeguard the interest of 'his' state & its people and tried to divide the nation based on regionalism if not religion? Instead of wasting his force, energy, manpower and abundant political resources on non-issues, why could this gentlemen not fight the menace which has struck his city time and time again.

We are calling the war on Bombay as India’s 9/11. I find it an odd nomenclature. India has been unfortunate enough to be living with terror and terrorist attacks decades before 9/11 was even conceived. And what is more shameful is the fact that despite the ‘experience’, our power hungry politicians are still groping in the dark as to how to go about the process of eliminating these pseudo ‘warriors-with-a-cause’. Our esteemed politicians are perpetually busy, pointing fingers at one another, determining the religion of the terrorist, rather than realizing that these killers have no religion. I wonder how power poisons people to the extent that they also lose their conscience to act with basic honesty and integrity. Human lives cease to have value in the eyes of our politicians as serving their self interest is of highest priority. Can sheer greed for power and position do this to a section of people WE have chosen to represent us and lead us? Is the rot in our whole system so deeply ingrained?
True, terrorist attacks are not directly the result of corruption in politics. But the negligence, indifference, callousness, lack of synchronisation in the intelligence system have aided the strikes not once but every time...and every time they have been successful in their murderous intents, the failure of our system has become glaringly obvious.
Every time urban terror has struck India, there is an initial uproar, fervent superficial security measures, lot of talk and mudslinging between political parties and finally inaction. No steps are taken. No law is enacted. No concrete arrests are made. No kingpin terrorist is ever caught, put behind bars and hanged as he so rightly deserves. Public memory is short lived. Life continues. Other than those, whose lives are shattered by these episodes of mayhem and murder, life goes on for us others, with a nagging fear about the uncertainty of life …we are only armed with a prayer on our lips each time someone steps out of home…

But is this how it ought to be? Is this why we elect these people to their chairs?

Today India is anguished and outraged. But are we doing anything worthwhile or constructive? We, as an united entity, need to channelise this anger, fury and make our chosen leaders realize that they are in the position where the common on the streets cannot and will not be taken for granted. They are accountable for their actions and inaction to us. Just a perfunctory resignation, change of portfolio does not reassure us anymore. We want an end to this prolonged nightmare which has claimed lakhs of lives. We want a normal life. We want our children to step out of home, assured they’ll be back safe and sound. We want them to grow up in a world we can call beautiful, in a nation which is safe and secure with capable, honest leaders at the helm of affairs.

Are these too much to ask for???

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Holiday Hangover...

First and foremost - Thank you all...for all the wonderful words of praise and encouragement that you've sent my way...

I had been away from blogsphere for almost a month....
A month which had started with the anticipation of Pujo vacation, followed by Pujo shopping. Then came the cleaning and washing spree - a must-do before the festive season sets what if the festivities are not celebrated in this house itself? Moreover, I have this fetish of returning after vacation to a sparkling clean and tidy home..otherwise the already down-in-the-dumps post-holiday mood crashes into a state of severe misery and depression. My husband calls me "Baatik-grostho" which if translated into English would be something of a mild psychological disorder.

And finally came the week before the trip.

Last moment packing, last moment shopping, last minute office work, instructions to the was a week bustling with activities. To add to all the craziness, just three days before the journey, the cooking gas decided to get over at late evening 8:30pm. And what with the 21 days Gas booking cycle and all (as if the Gas Company has been authorised to ration the quantity of cooking I do at my home!!!!!), and as already mentioned in my last post, the microwave being stranded at the service centre, I was left with no fuel to cook!!!! I was just short of having a nervous breakdown when my husband walked into the house after office and was quite unperturbed upon hearing the calamity that had befallen us!! And that made me even more mad, if that's possible! Well not only was he least bothered, his very patronising suggestion of "we can always eat out the next few days" had me boiling mad! I left the house hyperventilating (I always do when I'm tensed and without a clue as to what is to be done).

Suddenly I had a brain-wave, patted myself on my burst of commonsense, went to the nearest local market, asked around for a "Chhota Gas" and finally said yippee when I could locate the right store. There stood only one set of locally made, crude mini-gas cylinder with a burner fitted to the top. To me it was the most precious and coveted object at that moment! Very unsafe, but in circumstances like I was, it was like a God-sent! Lucky me...had I been two minutes late in reaching the shop, I would have missed it. Another sullen faced man frantically entered the makeshift shop in search of a similar "Chhota Gas" just as I was making the payment and expressing my doubts over its safety! The sullen-faced-prospective-buyer must have been in the position of my husband...bombarded by the wife to take some proactive disaster management measures and was decent enough to actually make an attempt to do so ... in glaring contrast to my husband, who had found the situation and especially my condition, quite amusing. Well.. though I brought the "Chhota Gas" home with a lot of fanfare, I couldn’t rest in peace till I somehow got the Gas Boy to deliver a full cylinder before I left for vacation. Well a price though!! This was one occasion when I had no option but to indulge in bribery!!
I wonder when basic amenities like cooking fuel will become a matter of right for any ordinary citizen instead of us having to resort to bribery or the black market!

Thereafter, reached Kolkata for the much awaited vacation without any further excitement or untoward events.

As usual, Pujo vacations are never long enough. So ten days passed in a jiffy. Short, enjoyable, hectic..with Momo's (my daughter) double birthday celebrations, Pujo rituals, Pandal hopping, Belur Math trip, meeting family, Bijoya Dashami lunch & dinner parties, Lakshmi Pujo, the vacation was chock-a-block with activities. There wasn’t a moment to sit, relax and let the holiday mood to seep in...Pujo vacations are nothing but a mad mad sea of hundreds of activities that just have to be packed in during the five days.

Durga Puja, I feel, is not only about religious fervour. It is a blend of art, creativity, skill and a celebration of our life in general! By art and creativity, one has to see to believe the awe-inspiring craftsmanship and skill that go into making the Pandals which are just temporary structures dismantled after five days of the Puja. It's a shame that they have to be dismantled. We should have a museum to preserve these masterpieces by the unsung master craftsmen. What is more fascinating is the conceptualization of the themes for the Pandals which are both topical as well as innovative.

For example, one of the Pandals I had visited was based on Global Warming and the entire material, colours etc were environment friendly.

Another Pandal was a prototype of Tata’s much-maligned Nano factory at Singur. This pandal, which looked like a factory from the outside was tied with a chain and a lock to symbolise West Bengal’s industrial doomsday. Wish circumstances were different and Bengal had had the opportunity of celebrating the launch of Nano from its backyard......

The variety, the beauty and the grandeur of the clay idols of the Goddess and her entourage leaves one speechless. They too are immersed, as is the custom, at the end the the Puja. If one happens to pass by the Ganges the day after Dashami, one finds thousands of remnants of the grandeur ... the carcasses littering the water and adding to the already over-polluted river.

As I said, THE PUJA is a time for celebration ...not necessarily and exclusively religious It is a social potpourri where the whole community and society, irrespective of religion, caste, creed get caught up in a festive gaiety so unique to this particular festival. I am not exaggerating when I say irrespective of religion - I have seen Muslim families in Kolkata dressing up, renting cars and going from Pandal to Pandal, enjoying the lighting, decorations, and in general getting immersed in the celebrations. That is what I feel is unique and the very essence of any celebration…where no one ought to be left out! Happiness should not be ethnicity/religion specific….it should be all-encompassing!

Lastly as I end this piece, I can't help but write about a section of the society we love to hate but without whose tremendous support, the non-stop travelling within the city, commuting between my two homes (parents and parents-in-law) in two corners of the city would have been nothing short of a series of nightmares. THE KOLKATA TRAFFIC POLICE!!!
I was amazed and very very pleasantly surprised to see their super-efficient handling of the enormous bulk of traffic. Fantastic manning of the roads, supported by widely publicized road maps leading to the Pujas, aided by SMS helpline resulted in smooth flow of vehicles. The whole scenario could have and would have turned nasty if this daunting task had not been handled deftly…Kudos to the Kolkata Police…

We're back in our Hyderabad home with suitcases bursting with gifts of new clothes and various goodies. Life has gone back to normal. Office, home, cooking, …the list is monotonous and common! The holiday hangover is gradually receding to the background and the orderliness of day-to-day life is coming to the forefront. Ordeliness is boring and commonplace...but that's reality, I guess!!!

Looking forward to next week’s festival of light …DIWALI!

Bibliography :
Baatik-grostho-A Bengali terminology referring to a habit bordering on obsession/fetish for a particular characteristic/way of life;
Durga Puja-The most important festival in the Bengali calender celebrated during September/October;
Pandal-A structure made of bamboo, plaster-of-Paris, canvas and various other material meant for housing the Idol of any Hindu deity;
Pandal-hopping-Pandal visiting spree to have a look at the decor and the Idols;
Belur Math- Headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission, founded by Swami Vivekananda. Situated about 15kms from Kolkata on the banks of the River Hugli;
Bijoya Dashami-The fifth day of Durga Puja, after immersion of the Goddess, friends and family meet, exchange greetings and offer sweets to one another;
Diwali-A major Hindu festival celebrated all over India. Fireworks, Lighting of oil-lamps, candles and worshipping the Goddess Lakshmi /Goddess Kali are significant aspects of this festival

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hyderabadi Hiccups

The City of Pearls and Nizams, forts and monuments, dotted with lakes and rocky hills... Steeped in history and culture, here the confluence of multitude of religions rendered it a novel charm of harmonious co-existence. Life was graceful and slow-paced. ‘Tehzeeb’ and nawabi etiquette were true to form in all strata of society…be it the lowest rungs or the upper echelons of the social hierarchy.

Hyderabad was all of the above and more…Hyderabadi way of life was unique because of its multifaceted hues.

Then came the windfall. A whirlwind of growth frenzy and development brought about a metamorphosis… And Hyderabad, in a span of few years transformed itself to Hi—tech city aka Cyberabad.

The city changed … and how!
The indulgent way of life had to give way to breakneck speed.
Hyderabad became a ‘happening’ place to be in - with almost every IT giant one can think of, making Hyderabad its major hub; with a booming real estate with massive projects coming up; with SEZs mushrooming in surrounding districts; with a swanky airport of international standards to boast of; with bright, young professionals flocking to the city from all over the country and different parts of the world.

What more could Hyderabad ask for? Unfortunately, MORE..MUCH MORE - better service, better work culture, sense of punctuality, a positive and proactive attitude, to say the least!

The new makeover was too sudden and at too alarming a speed. The common man, used to the nawabi culture and an inherent attitude of indolence and procrastination, COULD NOT and DID NOT keep pace with the speed of transformation.

My husband and I are part of the burgeoning professionals who have made Hyderabad their home in the recent past.

Moving to any new place is a mammoth and tiresome task, settling down to new environs is not easy.
But in Hyderabad, the difficulties are several times more, thanks to a pathetic, uninformed and lackadaisical local service sector…
- be it a driver who oversleeps and forgets to report to work; or
- a car mechanic who responds to a complaint of a broken silencer two months later, expecting that the repair job would be waiting for him ; or
- uninformed / untrained sales personnel at departmental stores who respond to a request of the modest eau de cologne with a blank stare followed by directions to a shelf stacked with Colins cleaner.

I can cite a zillion such instances which I have been experiencing in the past twenty months that I have been in the city. Some, on hindsight, are so comical that one forgets how exasperating and irritating they were when they had actually happened!!

An illustration :
Last year, just after shifting, I called a carpenter to fix a shelf. After at least a dozen phone calls and half a dozen visits to his workshop, he finally took pity on my desperation, and obliged me by coming over to ‘have a look’ at the dimensions and estimate the raw materials needed. It was the humblest of shelves, with no ornamentation, just utilitarian to keep my printer. A job of not more than half a day. Well, after his first ‘visit’, he decided to disappear once again. Again I resumed the phone calls and trips to his workshop. Finally he relented. He came with the materials, started the job, made the two supports to which the plank of wood was supposed to be fixed, cut the plank of wood as per the required dimensions. And before he could proceed, he received an ‘emergency’ phone call and with the ongoing job and materials scattered all over the floor, he again did the disappearing act…NEVER TO RETURN, despite several dozen attempts at contacting him..
A fortnight or so later he called me, demanding payment for the material and work (he seemed to have been afflicted by selective amnesia, choosing to conveniently forget, that the work, for which he was demanding payment, remained unfinished). I burst out in anger, ranted and raved. But to no avail. That was the last I heard of him or from him and I was just too tired and disgusted to care.
The plank of plywood was later utilized as a makeshift shelf where I dare not keep the printer!!
Please note that the carpenter did not even bother to collect money for the raw materials he bought!!!

Some not so comical ones…
For the past one and a half month my microwave is out of order.
Initially, the oven door had come off. The response to the complaint lodged with the call centre was snail paced. The technician decided to turn up a good ten days later. He reported that the door needed to be replaced which would be done within two days. I was surprised, as the door, to me, looked in fine shape except for the joints. But the technician would know better…or so I thought!
Another week or so passed by and when I again called up the fellow (I had been wise enough to have stored his mobile no.) he informed me that new doors of that model were out of stock and he would come and repair the existing door! Well, if the existing one was repairable why bother to prescribe replacement in the first place, I asked, but to myself. I was too happy that the microwave would be operational the next day. So I did not dare ask too many questions. The technician turned up two days later, repaired the door, collected Rs.400/- and left. My maid informed me (over phone as I was at work) with great pleasure that the ‘mesheeen’ was working.
She was the happiest as the chore of heating food is so much more simplified with the ‘mesheen’ in action!
But our happiness was short-lived.
The door was fine, but now, due to his inefficiency or lack of skill, the technician had dismantled and reassembled the machine in such a manner that it was not working at all. Another technician came after a week of phone calls and we were finally asked to send it to their workshop where it is still being ‘repaired’ (or further destroyed!!). Our wait is on…

My three year old goes to one of the better playschool cum day-care centres in an upmarket locality of the city. The school has great infrastructure, pleasant teachers, adequate outdoor play areas which satisfied my husband and me enough to entrust them with the responsibility of our baby for almost ten hours a day. Last week while I was discussing the activities of the kids with one of the teachers, I casually mentioned Montessori method assuming it to be common knowledge. I was shocked and amazed that the terminology was as alien to her as Greek is to me.

These instances, you would say, can happen in any Indian city. Maybe….though I’m sceptical that the levels of service in any of our other BIG cities can be this poor. What makes the lack of professionalism and efficiency all the more glaring is the cost factor - The charges for the substandard services doled out are exorbitant and could be amongst the highest in the country. The price charged for the sheer indifference, complacency, lack of interest and absence of adequate skills, is mind boggling..

Well, from all of the above, you would conclude that I hate the city. Strangely enough, I don’t. Though neither am I magnanimous enough to love it.

A city like Hyderabad, with its peculiarities and nuances, grows on you. Its myriad contrasts are almost a microcosm of the India of today-where development and backwardness co-exist with glaring obviousness.
But to rise above the average, retain its growth spurt and make it a city of high standards, a remedy for the HICCUPS IN THE LIFE OF A COMMON MAN IN HYDERABAD, has to be developed.
Because hiccups may be just a mild discomfort, but if they persist, life becomes sheer HELL and are indications of bigger problems to come!!!!
Bibliography : Tehzeeb - An Urdu word which means manners / etiquette

Monday, September 22, 2008

Of Babas and Babies...

A mother of an almost three year old, life in the past three years has been a roller coaster ride of amazement, wonder, exasperation, anxiety and tests of innovation & imagination..

My little girl is a veritable chatterbox who, every morning, starts talking with her eyes closed, even before she’s fully awake…

She was an early speaker and by the time she was two years old, she just about repeated anything and everything she heard. So we had to become careful of what we uttered and self censorship was essential.

One fine morning, I heard her call out to my husband by his name instead of the usual ‘Baba’. And throughout the day it was repeated everytime she wanted to call out to her father. Asking her not to call him by his name was ignored.
Both my husband and I initially found it funny and sweet but realized that the habit HAD to be nipped in the bud. It was just NOT ACCEPTABLE!
But we were at a loss of how to go about it….because making it an issue and admonishing or scolding a two year old would be ineffective or worse, counter-productive.

A few days later an idea struck and I thought to myself…why not implement it….

I started calling my husband “Baba” making sure that my little lady got to hear it every time I called out. We stopped correcting her when she called her father by his name and decided to ignore it for the time being…
The little mimic that she had become, our strategy worked and “Baba” was what she resumed calling her Dad.
Well, all’s well that ends well, you would say.So very true…

But the twist in the tale is - I carried on calling my husband “Baba” and continue to do so till date… it's become habit!!
Bibliography - Baba : father

Monday, September 15, 2008

Shopping & Nostalgia

Sunday evening...
Pujas just a fortnight away. ..
A true blue bong has to finish her “Pujor Bajaar”!!!
The realization dawned that I had to do my Puja shopping and HAD to do it TODAY as days for my Calcutta trip were literally numbered.
Four hours later, I was back home, with bulging carry bags and a much lighter wallet.

With swanky malls sprouting in every nook and corner of almost all neighbourhoods, shopping in our metro cities nowadays are all about comfort, variety and indulgence. Be it shopping for clothes, eatables, electronics ….with retail boom leaving no corner of urban India untouched, shopping is not the same as ..say…what it was just half a decade back. We have every global brand offering us the best bargains, the widest choice, the latest trends. Could we ask for more?
A tired me says YES with capital letters.

"Silly woman", you would say, "aren’t you satisfied with the convenience, comfort, the simplicity of walking into a mall and walking off with what you wanted, all in a jiffy!"
The answer to that would be NO, I AM NOT…I don’t like the malls with their almost identical ambiences, the same brands on display, the dead-pan, expressionless salepersons. I love the uniqueness in the smell, sound, taste, feel, dialect of every bazaar. I hate the modern malls which are little more than mere clones of one another. You would call me a regressive, nostalgic fool craving for the past.

Well…that’s the way it is with me and thank God, that my good old city with its old world charm still retains the flavour, albeit in bits and pieces….where makeshift stalls give the mega malls a run for their money..EVEN TODAY! Where the bazaars are still teeming with people queuing up for fresh food instead of the frozen stuff of the supermarkets!

Well, I’m talking about shopping in good old Calcutta. Being away from my city, I miss the haggling and bargaining, where bargaining to the last rupee was more a matter of pleasure than monetary loss or gain. It was almost like a war of words and tenacity, spiced up with wit and banter, between the zealous salesmen and the potential buyer. The whole atmosphere was almost carnival like with neighbouring stalls vying with one another for the attention of the shoppers passing by.

The gradual upgradation from “Bonti” ”Didi” and to the present “Boudi” which sometimes gets replaced by Didi (when the hawkers are in a doubt regarding my marital status) are something so unique and yet ubiquitous to roadside shopping in Kolkata. Another decade or so and I would reach the “Mashima” stage!! For the grossly uninformed, these are the different forms of exuberant greetings a hawker uses (depending on the age of the prospective buyer…) to call out to the customers.

Well.. no nostalgic remembrance of Calcutta shopping is complete without the mention of the rolls, phuchkas, jhaalmuris……how I missed them all this evening when I had to satiate my post-shopping hunger with a measly masala corn.

Bibliography: Bonti:little sister; Didi:Elder sister; Boudi:sister-in-law; Mashima:Aunt

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Scribbling Pad

Here I am in the blogsphere ..teeming with thousands more...carving out a little space for myself in this virtual universe called cyberspace.

But why exactly am I here??

Frankly speaking...I dont's again one of my whims.

I am not here to sermonize, educate, or for that matter for any larger than life issues or any social cause.

I am just here to see what it feels like to have a virtual scribbling pad...

I dont know how long I'll continue the scribbling...but as of now, it's caught my fancy and so i decided to become a BLOGGER!!!

So friends go ahead on...this is one place where freedom of expression is at its truest form. You can opt not to visit my site but you cant stop me even if you want to!!!