Thursday, July 30, 2009
I have never loved the stick-insect concept of beauty. Sour grapes? I think not. To me beauty was all about charm, elegance and a sense of timelessness. Both of these ladies epitomised my ideal concept of beauty to more than its fullest.
They were both featured in Vogue's Top Ten Beauties of the World list, putting India very much on the beauty map. Remember, this was decades before Vogue came to India, so in a way, it was the world celebrating our style icons, our visions of grace, poise and DDG looks. It was a toast to what India's modern-day treasures and an affirmation that we were not just about the exotic, like nautch girls, temple dancers and Khajuraho muses.
Rajmata Gayatri Devi is my own, personal hero. Leaving her beauty aside, I was always in awe of her grace and dignity. I wanted to be 'her' when I grew up.
I still do.
What a fascinating life she had! And I'm not just talking about living the charmed life full of royal parties and education in the best schools abroad. She was grace and graciousness personified. Her politics were gentle yet passionate. The dignity with which she conducted herself during her incarceration during Indira Gandhi's infamous State of Emergency, could only have come from a latent strength and self-belief housed within.
Rest in peace, Leela Naidu.
Rest in peace, Rajmata.
An era of grace and beauty has come to an end with your passing.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Now chocolate can turn the strongest of people into Circus-Trick-Performing-Pups/Clowns/Seals, and so these three boys, forgetting all sense of dignity and decorum, did the jump-and-snatch move. I am a chocoholic and I have no shame in admitting that I was mentally preparing myself to do the same.
SilkLotus: One for you (jump goes The Nephew) ... one for you (jump goes the EO) and one for you ... (stretch, jump and snatch goes the YO).
Then holding out two to me, "And two for Mamma!"
M4: Perfect! One for each butt cheek.
Yes, I did say I was shameless when it came to chocolates...
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
Saw this movie as soon as it was released with my two boys and we all loved it!!
For me, this is an odd feeling to have for the movie considering I didn't particularly enjoy the first two installments. And this is not the first time I've felt this way about a movie series. Like for example, 'Shrek'. The first two movies were fine, but the third was phenomenal!! But then, I guess if at first you don't succeed you keep trying until you get it right. And nowhere is that more apparent than in Hollywood...but I digress.
Right. Ice Age 3. Our frost-friendly friends, Sid the sloth, Diego the sabre-toothed tiger and Manny the woolly mammoth with his pregnant wife, Ellie are back in this crazy adventure about friendship, loyalty and the true joys of life; and those would be babies and friendship, yet again!!
Manny shows all the signs of being a father-hen as he prepares himself for fatherhood while Ellie is patience unlimited. Diego and Sid start to feel left-out from this pretty picture of happy-family-where-baby-makes-three and they start rethinking their loves. Diego wants to set off on bis own while Sid wants a family of his own. His wish comes true when he finds three dinosaur eggs which he believes to have been abandoned. Once the eggs hatch, out pops three snappy, energetic baby T-Rexes and when momma T-Rex finally finds them she is M.A.D.!! She takes her babies back along with Sid to a hidden, underground land where a few dinosaurs still exist. The gang ventures into the unknown to rescue their hapless friend, Ellie's 'brothers', Crash and Eddie, providing the perfect comic relief. Their mission is successful thanks to help from an unexpected quarter -- Buck, a one-eyed weasel possessed of a buccaneering spirit and a pirate soul. The definite show-stealer in this episode!
Of course this movie would not be complete with Scrat the squirrel, still out to save his nut. This time he encounters a female of the species who's out for the smae thing he wants as well! The tango to the finish is as enjoyable as it is hilarious!!
A great movie! The witty dialogues make it entertaining for us while the kids always love a good adventure story.
The EO's been begging me to take him again. I enjoyed it so much that you never know, maybe I might!!
But if you guys haven't seen it yet, GO! Go now!! Definitely worth the popcorn!
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Dear EO and YO,
Today, I did something I haven't done in a long time...I stopped and smelled the roses. Now before you, my curious, questioning, precious EO, ask me, "Where Mamma? Where are the roses? And where did you stop Mamma?"; and you my adorable little Bengali-Babu-turning-English YO ask, "Vere rojhejh, Mamma?", let me inform you that I'm being metaphorical. (I'm not going to explain this huge, big word to you now, because I'm hoping that by the time you read this, you'll know what it means. If not, look it up in the dictionary!).
I was sitting amidst a pile of books, papers and magazines, and sorting them out. You EO, were at school, thanks to yesterday's strike. You YO, were sitting nearby, quietly playing with your toys. Suddenly, it started to rain. You looked up and out the window, YO, and excitedly said, "Beeshti! Mamma, beeshti poachchey!!"
I am drawn to the rains. The grey clouds, the pitter-patter, the cool wetness of the air...they all do something to me. So I scooped you up in my arms, YO, sat you down on the window ledge and stood behind you, my arms wrapped tightly around your little body. We talked excitedly about how the trees were getting wet because the world was getting a bath. After our excitement calmed down a bit, we silently watched the rain fall. No words; just silently drinking in the sight, breathing in the atmosphere and totally being in the moment that was. At one point, you leaned right into me and I felt you give out a sigh of absolute contentment. If that wasn't enough to make my insides explode with a joyous, yet quiet sense of happiness, you suddenly looked up at me, reached towards my face and kissed me on both cheeks. The happiness engulfed me whole!
Bonding over cloud-bursts and rain-fall. I don't remember the last time I did this with you, my EO. And YO, this is the first time I really, truly sat back and watched with you, I think.
These moments. These are the moments that remind me about the many blessings of motherhood.
Sigh... You're both growing up so fast. Too fast!! You need to slow down so that Mamma can catch up.
And Mamma needs to stop and smell the roses more. Or at least watch the rain wash the trees. Or at least listen to the birds sing. Or watch the clouds drift by; or the stars puncture the velvet, black coat of night. I need to do this more often. And with you.
So here's to rain-fall, birdsong and star-light. Here's to many more such moments with you.
And always know that I love you both more than you'll ever know!!
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
For some spontaneous reason, July has been turning out to be my 'Get Long Overdue Things Done' Month. Whether it was pending tasks, articles and blog posts, it just started happening that way. Very uncharacteristic of me since I am the world's biggest procrastinator. No, it's not a fancy name for a dinosaur. It just means that I'm a lazy bum.
Today I had planned, in my head, that I was going to write two more movie reviews as my post. But then I read this and I changed my mind.
Tharini's post today was like a mirror being held up to my face. The honesty part that is...not the awesome part. (With apologies to Abha who tagged me weeks ago, I am still having trouble locating my awesomeness...)
I have been doing a lot of introspection about my relationship with my boys lately and I've come to the conclusion that it needs to be and can be a whole lot better, a whole lot funner, a whole lot wholesomer.
When the EO was a baby, I was clued into every facial expression of his, every sound, every movement, EVERYTHING. That's because as a first-time mom, I was obsessive, possessive and fierce! And I wanted to do everything for him myself. E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. I kinda touched upon it in this post here, but really, you have no idea.
But here's the thing. I ENJOYED it. I was so into my baby bundle and the motherhood jazz was my favourite tune. I taught him rhymes, told him stories, played with him, took him with me wherever I went. Oh the bond we shared! The feeling is indescribable!
But, I didn't do the same for my YO. Call it the Second-child Syndrome, or the First-time Mommy Effect, but there are gaping holes in my mommyhood the second time round.
While my EO was bilingual from day 1 on this Earth, the YO is still more comfortable in Bengali. That's because he is around the ayah most of the time.
The EO's education -- nursery rhymes, the alphabet, numbers, you name it -- was more complete, because I had immersed myself into it with full enthu and gusto. With the YO it's been more of a laissez-faire attitude, "meh, he'll pick up as he goes along." And he has, but with little thanks to me.
Also, when it was just the EO and me, I hadn't gotten into working too much. Just the occasional write-up here and there. But now, I have more writing assignments (for which I am truly, truly grateful...Thank You, God, Thank You!!) and I have discovered the joys of blogging and Facebook. On top of that, for my birthday this year, the MIM gave me a BlackBerry. I am so addicted to my laptop that it's not even funny anymore.
Seriously. It's not.
And that's why I've decided to change.
Lately, my relationship with the EO seems to revolve around homework and unit tests. His childhood is crumbling before my very eyes and the other day he actually started crying and said, "Mamma, you don't let me play anymore!" I felt so terrible, so sad, so miserable. Drat these damned unit tests! Drat this school system! Drat the education board!
So, I've been putting my laptop away when my boys are around so that I can enjoy them. After all, they still enjoy me and my company and who knows for how much longer that will be? I have some special YO time reserved just for my little one and I know how much he cherishes it, how much he looks forward to it...and so do I!
I still have time to blog. My working is more paced (not all the time though, after all, I am the original procrastinator, am I not? I need to live up to that by letting my work pile up sometimes, right?) I have also discovered little pockets of me-time as well. So it's okay. It's all good.
It's just that I've realised that I don't just NEED to be in the moment, I WANT to be, and the only way I can allow that to happen is if I let it. Me. It all depends on me.
So here's to my attempts at being a better mommy. A journey I started a long time ago and which I intend to see right till the very end!
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Since July 1st, I was all in a tizzy. It meant 15 more days before the release of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince"...the movie. Not since I laid my hands upon the final tome have I waited for something so desperately, that a mere mention of it was like a shot of cocoa to my left aorta.
Well, last night, my tizziness was finally quelled.
And I didn't love it.
But that's not surprising really, since none of the movies have even remotely lived up to the books. And that has never stopped me from waiting breathlessly for the next installment to come out.
What left me all meh about HP-6 was that it didn't stick to much magic at all. It was more a saga about the out-of-control love hormones of a certain red-haired boy wizard. And the teenage trauma, angst and desperation of a certain Slytherin boy wizard. The life of the Chosen One was not really the center of attention here. So while testosterone and oestrogen are running amok at Hogwarts, in the background there's old Dumbly trying to collect memories in his quest to save the world.
Now while I was okay with the raging hormones, after all, there's something about the entire series that makes the corner of my heart that is perennially 17-years-old, go pitter-patter, I didn't think it needed to be so in-your-face. There was a lot more that we needed to see...definitely more than the snog fests. Such as more info about Horcruxes. And how about an explanation about the whole Half-Blood Prince reference, huh? And maybe including the first-ever meeting between the Muggle PM and the Minister for Magic? That would have been a hoot!
See, as a true and die-hardPotterhead, I knew the nuances and the back-stories and the un-shown events. But I went with three non-readers who came away more 'confunded' than ever!
I loved Emma Watson (Hermione) in the movie. Her pain as a teenage girl in love with a boy in lust with someone else came through loud and clear. It spoke to all the teenage girls who have ever sailed in that boat. Rupert Grint (Ron) was the undisputed comic relief. Daniel Radcliffe (Harry), a bit too wooden for my liking. But the ones who stole the show were Jim Broadbent (Prof. Hoace Slughorn), Hero Fiennes-Tiffin (11-year-old Tom Riddle...also Ralph 'Voldemort' Fiennes' nephew!) and Frank Dillane (16-year-old Tom Riddle). These two Tom Riddles were positively scary!! Good-looking and menacingly scary! *shudders at the memory*
I am already waiting eagerly and excitedly for the final two installments of the movie. I am praying that my love for the Harry Potter series will one day be satiated by the start of an ENTIRE TV SERIES!! Drool! Smack! Slurp!!! Ooooo...dare I hope?!?!
And I know that I will see this particular movie again. How can I not?
I will just be shaking my head in pity that they didn't have a better script-writer.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
1) Kambakht Ishq
How do these movies even get made? Worse, why do they get passed? And why don't they come with an Idiocy Warning attached? You know, something which reads : Warning! Viewing of the following movie will reduce your IQ level by 98.5%. Be prepared to live the rest of your life as a dung beetle.
I can't believe I actually allowed a friend to talk me into the movie! It's the kind of movie where you want to shoot your brains out only so that you can have something to play with. Alas! Since I didn't have no gun, I plucked my chin hair instead! The dialogues were misogynistic, the plot as thick as the script-writer's hide, the acting repulsive, the music immemorable! The movie just offended me from scene one.
And Sly Stallone and Denise Richards? I mean really???? I mean, effing REALLY???? You guys needed a pay cheqe that bad! I actually cringed throughout their scenes...especially when Akshay Kumar touched the Sly's feet for his blessings!! I think I curled up and died right then!
Avoid! Avoid! AVOID!!! This one has chaos and disaster stamped all over it! It's three hours of your life you'll never, ever get back...
2) The Hangover
Ok...now THIS was funny!! This is the movie that got stupid right! The movie was inane and insane, from start to finish. But it worked!
The plot is one that's been done to death: guy getting married, whisked off to Las Vegas for his Bachelor Party by three varying specimens of the malehood. What happens the morning after the night before makes for some entertaining, idiotic and extremely watchable viewing!
Treat your man to this movie...you'll be guaranteed a lot of loving later on, in absolute gratitude!
Friday, July 10, 2009
It's because of the way she writes. There's a gentle humour emanating from her writing, like a favourite aroma. It makes you want to read her every morning so that you can start your day with a smile. That's the kind of coffee it is.
So when I found out she was writing a book, I knew that I would love it. And I knew that I wouldn't be able to to be objective about it. It's hard to detach yourself from something you love so much and write with a kind of un-sentimentality, but I'm going to try, nevertheless.
"Bringing Up Vasu: That First Year"...yes, of course I loved it! And not just because it's Parul's writing. But because it is really, REALLY good! It is. It's exactly what you would expect of Paurl...funny. And, here's the delightful thing about it, it's all kinds of funny. There's the tee-hee-hee type; the snort-cackle-guffaw kind; the LOL variety and the simple, pleasant, gentle-smile-about-the- lips style as well.
And here lies the problem. Sometimes, only a very few 'sometimes', the funny seemed forced. The spontaneity was missing and you felt that it had been written for funny's sake. Certain dialogues between Mira and her gal pals seemed contrived. As well as some of the New-Age schemes followed by the mother.
But I don't take that away from the book at all. I personally know how hard it is trying to sustain humour from beginning to end. It's a mammoth task and Parul has done a remarkable job!
But that's really nitpicking, because on the whole the book doesn't just work, it rocks. I found myself impatient to get back to it whenever I was away from it. There's so much to love about it! I was totally into Mira's life and adored her relationship with her adorable hubby. I understood her crazies, her lows and her obsession to her first-born, absolutely through and through. I cheered her on during her exchanges with the dreaded PNx. I cheered Vasu on at the Teddy Footprints interview. And I happily read and re-read 'The Letters From the Edge'; they were hilarious, touching and awww-some at the same time.
You will recognise Parul in the book. And I don't feel that that's such a bad thing. When you're writing about a topic that is not just close to home, but IS home, shades of you, your family and your life experiences are bound to pepper the tale you tell. So the Northie and Tamilian references...fine by me. The letters to Vasu remarkably like the ones Parul wrote to Adi...yup, I'm good with that too.
I'm good with the whole thing. More than good, actually! I'm so totally, absolutely, crowing-from-the-rooftops, jolly, damn good with it that I am hoping and praying for a sequel!
Parul, get cracking already girl!
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
It finally arrived on Sunday and I can't stop smiling to myself. Every now and then, I even break into an impromptu Happy Chicken Dance!
Had this been once upon a time, long, long, a helluva long time ago, I would have finished the book in one sitting. Now that old age, failing eyesight, a Mr. Man, two boisterous brats, tiffin-making and chaperoning car-pools make up the circle of my life, that is not possible anymore. I am half-way through it...and LOVING IT!!
But this is not a review. I will save that for the whole book. It's only fair. This post is about something my EO said to me.
The MIM and I had taken the boys out on Sunday for book browsing and lunch. When we came back, there was the packet that I had been waiting for ever since I knew it was on it's way. With a war-cry, I attacked the outer covering to unearth the book that I had been waiting for ever since I knew it had hit the stands.
My EO was watching me with interest. "What is that, Mamma? A book?"
Excitedly, I gave him the book and said, "See baby, see? My friend has written this book. See?"
He took the book from my hands and looked at the cover with shining eyes. "Is it about this baby?"
"Yes. Yes it is about that baby boy. And his mamma."
He gave a giggle of approval and then ran after his brother for a game of 'Catch Me If You Can' at break-neck speed.
I thought that was that. I was mistaken.
Yesterday, while I was taking him to karate class, he said, "Mamma, I have a story for that aunty."
"Which aunty, baby?", I asked perplexed.
"The aunty which wrote that book!"
I was shocked. "Parul aunty?"
"Her name is Parul? Which wrote that blue, baby book that you are reading?"
"Then yes, Parul aunty. I want you to give her this story."
So Parul, this is for you. From my growing-up-WAY-too-fast, not-yet-six-year-old sunshine, my EO. (Please note, it has been grossly edited of EO-speak, for the little dude tends to ramble on and on and on. I've cut through the meanderings and given you a spiffy, spruced up version. But how I wish you could have heard the original, complete with expressive eyes glowing, voice modulation and hand movements.)
The Bad Snake
Once upon a time, a big sister and her two small brothers went to a dark forest. There, they met a kangaroo. The kangaroo was very friendly and took them for a ride through the forest. Then they met a wolf. He wasn't a bad wolf. He was friendly and he too took the three children for a ride through the forest.
The three children made ten friends in the forest...the kangaroo, the wolf, a grasshopper, a bumblebee, an ostrich, a tiger, a fire-bee, a lion, a white tiger and an owl. Everyday they would play together.
One day, from the river, a big, black, deadly-poisonous black mamba came out!! He was very mean. He told lies. He started telling lies to all the animals. He said that the big sister was not a nice person.
The other animals were very angry with him for telling such lies and they threw rocks at him. He started to cry and said that he was very sorry and that he would never lie again. The other animals told him to go back into the river and to never come out again.
After that, the big, black mamba never troubled them again and the big sister with her two small brothers played with their animal friends everyday.
P.S. Notice the detail about the lying snake? I guess I don't need to be a psychologist to figure this one out!
Monday, July 6, 2009
I ordered cocktails for my folks, but decided to stay sober myself since I was going to take the boys for a movie after lunch, "Ice Age 3" (will write about that soon. Promise). The food was, as I knew it would be, D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S.
So why am I talking about a nice lunch out at a Thai restaurant? There has to be a point, right? Well yes, there is indeed one.
The MIM, my boys and I went to Phuket for a holiday, from May 31st to June 3rd. It was a supposed to be a nice, long, relaxing break, but we had to rush back early due to my FIL's illness. The boys loved the place and still keep talking about it. Every now and then, when I'm tucking my sweethearts into bed and bending down to kiss them, my YO will hold my face in his two, tiny hands, look soulfully into my eyes and say, "Mamma, notun baari chalo. Pliss, pliss, pliss chalo!" (Mamma, let's go to the new house. Please, please, please let's go!!) The EO joins in and I leave the room muttering something about 'soon', 'hopefully' and 'next time'.
They remember a lot about the place, that I know. But just how much, I realised on Saturday at the restaurant.
Each time the waiters brought over something that we'd ordered, I smiled at them and said "Thank you." The EO was watching with interest. Finally, he piped up and said, "Not 'thank you' Mamma, 'kapunkha' (Thai for 'thank you')." And then he sank back into the sofaish-seat with an adorable smile. I must have stared at him for quite a while, because my parents had to snap their fingers in front of my nose to bust me out of my state of shell-shocked wonderment! I could have cried!
How many other ways are you going to amaze me, my son? I wait with bated breath!
Friday, July 3, 2009
It obviously didn't work because yesterday he lied again.
I just looked at him in shock. When he realised that he'd been caught, he started crying; big fat tears of, not remorse, but fear, falling thick and fast down his cheeks. Since the slap, time-out and no-TV diktat obviously didn't work last time, I decided to go emo. I used the time-honoured, never-failed, mommy-weapon -- emotional blackmail (geez, I am so becoming my mom, it's not even scary anymore!!)
I stared at the EO, looking terribly pained and let forth phrases like "How could you lie to me? Me?!? Your mamma?!?" and "Do you know what you've done??? You've broken my heart. Mamma's heart is broken..." complete with heart on my hand.
After the rainfall, I let the sun in. The incident over, the apology accepted, we carried on with the rest of our evening. He was getting ready for bed and I was looking through the post when he suddenly comes and grabs my arm and says, "Is this your left side?"
"Mmmhmm", I say without even looking up.
My gorgeous son then stands on tip-toe, puts his ear to somewhere below my left boob and says, "I'm just checking to see if your heart is still breaked or not..."
And if that wasn't enough, what's the first thing he asked me when I went to his room in the morning? Sigh..."Mamma, is your heart fixed now?"
I hope they read this blog of mine before sending me to Mommy Hell...