The blurb ob by blob...

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Mother, writer and daydreamer. Also chocoholic and chick-flick lover. But mainly mommy. To two boys, at that! When not escorting my Elder One (EO) to karate class, I'm trying to get in as many cuddles as possible from my Younger One (YO). And when not doing either, I'm hard-at-work trying to maintain a steady relationship with my laptop. And as for the Man I Married (MIM), well, let’s just put it this way – even though we share a bedroom, our most meaningful conversations are held over the cell-phone!

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bring It On, 2009!

My last post for the year.

A recap would show that this year has had it's highs and lows. It started off on a very frightening note with the FIL being hospitalised for 40 days, 25 of those days hooked up to a ventilator. But he's home, better, fitter and more cautious.

I lost some friends, not physically, but metaphorically-speaking, and the thought of that still hurts like hell, especially since I still see them around.

But, on the up-side, this is the year that I started blogging in earnest, and the friends that I've made across the wires makes up ten-thousand-fold for the ones I've lost. Blogging has been such an enriching and rewarding experience for me, that its gifts never cease to amaze me. Each and every one of you have made me a part of your life, and even if I start rambling on and on you'll never fully understand just how much that means to me. I thank you all for letting me be privy to your worlds and for being a part of mine.

Professionally speaking, 2008 has been kind to me too. I got published in "Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul" (a dream come true) and I bagged a regular column in a newly-launched magazine (another dream job!) For this I thank my Muse and the Goddesses I pray to and whom I derive my strength and creativity from. Everything I do, I dedicate to You.

Unfortunately, the year ended on a bad note. First, I lost my Boro Jethu and as I type this, an amiable uncle-in-law is in the hospital.

And of course, 26/11 happened. The direct result of that is that I am a more terror-struck, cynical, hyper and shit-scared parent. I have not forgotten my pledge. As soon as school reopens, I promise to visit the EO's school to talk to the principal about introducing activities that will help inculcate nationalistic pride in tomorro's generation.

And thank you, to the Gods Above, for my charming EO and pixie YO. I owe You a debt of gratitude for letting them be mine.

So goodbye 2008. I will remember you, for reasons good and bad. You've been a memorable year.

And bring it on 2009! With all your blessings and memories-to-be, welcome!

I pray that the coming year is full of joy, good health, peace and magic for all of you! May the year ahead show us a way to make the world a safer, healthier and more hopeful place to live in.

God bless!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Eve and Day

This Christmas Eve was 'special' because I discovered two facets about myself...I am old and I feel cold.

Yes, me! Moi! The last person to bring out the sweaters and socks in college in Delhi! While the general Bong population on campus would be in monkey caps, the Southies in layers of sweaters and the other Northies in well-coordinated winter outfits, complete with jaunty berets, stylish scarves and mom-made mufflers, yours truly would be wandering around in a shawl. That's it. And it wasn't a show of bravado. It wasn't because I lapped up the awe and envy of my hostel-mates and class-mates (well, I did enjoy it, but that wasn't a reason! ;p) I have always revelled in cold weather. The nip in the air, the crispness of fall and the onset of winter...aaah! I always put it down to being a winter baby, born in New York in the month of January, with snow all around...And then there was the move to Bangalore, the original AC city! How could I not love and bloom in the cool and the cold?

And here we are in in Kolkata and my immuno-system seems to have gone bust! My very first winter here and I developed a pneumonic patch in my lungs! To add to all that, I discovered I was pregnant with the EO! So much for strong medications! And ever since then, at each and every 'change of season' or 'turn of the weather', there I'd be coughing my lungs out and sneezing my nose off. I still didn't 'feel' the cold, but the cold obviously found a good home in my bones and lungs. And that is why, I have to bundle myself up in woolens and invest in socks. The MIM, if he could, would get me and the boys into monkey caps, but so far I've been able to resist.

So this Christmas Eve, our gang of maddies and I, made our way to Tolly Club to bring in Christmas the way we knew downing spirits to up our own and going berserk on the dance floor. The sight that assaulted our eyes was enough to send shivers up and down every bone in our body...well at least the female bodies. As far as the male bodies in our group were concerned, the sight warmed the cockles of their hearts. The skin show that was on view that night could have easily rivaled a day on the sunny, sandy beaches of Rio de Janerio! Hey, don't get me wrong, I have nothing against itsy-bitsy dresses...carried off well, they can look supremely sexy and sensuous. Of course seeing someone in one often gives rise to feelings of jealously, but I still say that I have nothing against a teeny-tiny dress. But on one of the most frrreeezzzing nights of the year? Brrrrr!! I am telling you, these dresses started barely two inches above the nipple and ended two inches below the butt! And here we were, dressed head-to-toe, mostly in a slimming black, and covered in velvets, silks and wollens.

And the figures! Reed thin, stilettoed and no stockings to boot! Weren't they defying the very laws of physics and biology? We were the well-insulated lot, naturally as well as artificially, but why were we shivering not just in our skin, but in our socks?

The average age of the HUGE crowd? Between 15 and 19, I kid you not. Just mere smatterings of 25-75 year-olds. So, now you can well understand why I also felt old :(

Well, we tried to come up with different theories to answer that question, but after quite a few rounds of brandy, whiskey and vodka. It didn't seem to matter so much any more. I never made it to the dance floor, on account of my shoe strap tearing, but I certainly rocked the chair that night with my groovy shoulder shakes, butt jiggles and hip(po) wobbles.

Yup, it turned out to be a Merry Christmas eve after all.

Then, after what seemed like only an eleven-second snooze, I was woken up by three very chirpy, bright-eyed, smiling faces. The EO, YO and Nephew were up and about and waiting for their Christmas presents. And Santa has been very, VERY generous this year. That's what happens when Daddy Clause decides to go shopping with Mommy Clause and goes three times over the budget! Men! I tell you!

We took the our sons and the MIM's cousin's kids to Saturday Club. We had invited these friends of ours to meet us there with their kids. There was Christmas Carnival there for the kids. The arrangements were the same as every year, but the kids had a blast and at the end of the day, and that's really all that matters to a parent!

So Christmas was indeed merry, despite my advancing years and my absolute intolerance to the Northern winds that blow.

How was yours?

All This Holiday Hogging...

Ever met a human pig?

Well then, come up and see me some time!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas To One and All

In the true spirit of what this Holy Day stands for, and in light of the mountain of terror our country has been subjected to, I wish for you all, my friends from all over, peace, joy, love and above all, hope.

May these troubled times just be a bad reminder of 2008.

With love in our hearts to you and yours...
M4 and family

Monday, December 22, 2008

"Mirror, Mirror on the Bathroom Wall..."

M4 : (through a mouthful of toothpaste and singing/mumbling/frothing in a falsetto voice) Winter is here, winter is finally here!

Mirror Image: Hmmm. Yes, I can see that!

M4: Excuse me? Meaning?!?

Mirror Image: The extra layer of insulation you've packed on speaks volumes about the volumes of festive cheer you've been consuming!

M4: Oh you kill-joy you! 'Tis the season to be jolly and all the other jazz...

Mirror Image: There's jolly and then there's folly. You my dear, have regressed quite a few letters back!

M4: Hahaha-blah! You think you're so funny!

Mirror Image: You'd be rolling on the floor laughing if you could only see what I really see! It's downright hilarious!

M4: Hey, so I might have indulged in an extra piece of rum ball or four, so what? It's the season of merry-making! I am revelling in the winter cheer and I'm not ashamed if my body shows it! That's what we have sweaters for!

Mirror Image: Your body was all set for winter before it even arrived in all its nippy glory!

M4: Henh?!?

Mirror Image: Your boobs, my dear. They seem to have gone south for the winter and from the looks of it, I'd say they've take up permanent residency there!

M4: (picks up vase and takes aim...)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cliches, Proverbs, Homilies, Old Wives' Tales and Other Crap

"A son is a son until he takes a wife,
But a daughter is a daughter for all her life."

Looks like I've married the only exception that proves the bloody rule!!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

"A Handsome Prince Came Riding By..."

Last night was the EO's school concert, put up by students from Nursery to Class 2. And it was wonderful!

It started off with a classical dance performance by some of the girls in the older classes to the Ganesh Vandana. They were lovely and graceful and as always, whenever I see a classical dance performance, my heart hurts a little bit and it just can't stop sighing!

Next, the Nursery tots put up a piece called "Friends Forever". The little babes were dressed up as various animals from the jungle. They parade around stage, wave happily at the audience and then they talk about Santa. They wonder who the big guy in red will pick to help pull his sleigh and they each start singing about their strengths. Soon, little Rudolph makes an entrance (this was the EO's part last year, but is was a closed door school show, so we parents didn't get to see it). He wants to pull the sleigh too. All the other animals laugh at him and say mean things and our tiny, shiny-nosed reindeer is very sad. Of course there's a happy's a Santa Claus and Rudolph story for cryin' out loud (not to mention there are more than 150 four-year olds involved!) So Santa arrives on the stage and asks Rudolph if he would like to pull his sleigh. Rudolph says yes, the other animals beg forgiveness and ask if they can be friends, Rudolph says yes again and there's a lot of singing, dancing and merry-making on stage. To say that the animals were adorable is obviously an understatement! We were witnessing cuteness overload on stage!

The MIM, my Maa-Janoni and MIL started discussing the vast reserves of patience these teachers have. After all, dealing with seven sections, each with 25 students in the class and making sure that all the kids are not just on stage but get at least 10-15 seconds of visibility time, is no joke! No sirree! Hats off to them!

After an impressive violin recital by one of the senior students, it was time for the Prep classes to troop on stage! Pa-pa-pa-pum-pum-pum!! This was it! What my little boy had been practicing so hard for, for one whole month! It started off with the EO being one of the contenders for the Prince's role. Now the EO is a fidgety boy, very restless. I knew it must have been a tough decision. But they saw the spark in his eyes and his class teacher took him under her wing and turned him from a fidgety frog to a galloping, swashbuckling, sword carrying, velvet-swathed prince charming. The entire Prep section was on stage, once again, that's about 160-180 students, and we were astounded by the perfection.

When it was time for the prince to gallop on stage, my eyes were glued to the wings. Maa-Janoni had already caught a glimpse of him waiting there. He took his entry a few seconds too early and realising his mistake, went back to wait in the wings again, for his proper cue to start. And then, the right cue and the dashing prince came galloping out and went round and round the enchanted forest. Looking phenomenal in shades of blue, I can't even begin to describe what I was feeling. It was so much more than pride and joy. The physical pounding in my chest was so real, so tangible yet so bearable I didn't care if I burst. He didn't miss a beat, a word, a step. His lines were clear, his enunciation perfect, his diction impeccable. This is why most of the teachers wanted him all along...because of his command over the English language. I am so very grateful that they kept the faith and didn't lose patience. That they polished his strengths and overcame his weaknesses and presented the work of art that I had the great good fortune of gawking at last night.

And when it came time for the kiss, we heard a nice, loud smooch being planted on the pretty princess's forehead. They were wearing lapel mikes after all, so we heard everything really well!

They were all adorable. And yes, I was an incredbly proud Mamma last night and I thought my EO looked particularly dashing, even though his cape seemed so long I was worried that he would trip over it. However, I am not the kind of person who'll say he was the best in his production even if he wasn't but just because he's my son. No. Unless it's true, I won't say that. And truth be told and all feelings of motherly pride aside, he wasn't. The child who stunned everyone with her acting prowess was the Wicked Old Fairy. She was brilliant!

The rest of the show comprised more solo and duet performances from senior students, who acted as the fillers while the props were being changed behind the curtains. Class 1 put up a very cute production of 'The Shoemaker and the Elves'. The Class 2 choir sang a wonderful mix of popular English numbers and an impressively harmonised medley of 'Purano Sei Diner Kothaa' with 'Auld Lang Syne'. The show ended with a lkarge group of Class 1 and 2 students dancing the garba and bhangra.

In the grand finale, all the lead characters danced onto stage doing the bhangra to 'Nach Baliye' from the OST "Bunty Aur Babli". Now this is another onbe of the EO's top favourite songs. Plus he loves to dance. So you can imagine how happy a certain little prince in an over-long, dark blue, velvety cape was! He started dancing so hard and having such a good time on stage, he soon left the others way behind and was stomping about merrily in front of the stage. He had to be pulled back in time for the curtain to come down on them!

This reminded my of the Bro, when he was way back in Class 1 and he did something similar...and that too, while dancing the bhangra! Maa-Janoni, Daddy Dearest and I keep talking about the similarities that the BRO and EO share. Once again, I was shown just how much!

After the curtain went up once again, we all stood for the National Anthem. And then it was truly curtains for a wonderful show, put up by the cutest, sweetest bunch of kids ever!

Congratulations teachers, staff and management. Your efforts were tremendous and they showed. And best of all, the little ones shone in every respect possible.

Thank you for this!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snippets About My Snippet

There's much I need to write about. Lots I need to share. But as I look down at the curly-haired, fever-flushed little boy who's finally sleeping peacefully on one of Mamma's thighs, his deep and laboured breathing pounding in my ears, I can only think about him.

So, here are a few little tidbits from my baby boy's life. Take it away YO...

~You know how we parents resort to shouting about and showing off imaginary birds, insects and animals doing weird and wonderful things like flying in the sky, crawling on the walls and eating food (gasp! gasp! how stupendously surprising and wonderfully creative!) to our tiny little tykes when they're being all wriggly and refusing to put on clothes or fussy and refusing to eat? Well, the YO paid back the MIM in full measure a couple of weeks ago! After peeing, my little semi-nudist decided to run in circles around the living room. After the MIM successfully caught a squirmy, giggly little boy, hoisted him on his shoulders and took him back to bed to get some pants on him, our Artful Dodger points to the wall and says, "Baba deko, deko, tikki!" (translated directly from Bong baby-speak: "Baba, look, look, a lizard"). The MIM takes the bait, looks up, slackens his grip and the half-naked boy is on the loose again!

~Both my boys love listening to music. A lot of my taste has rubbed off on them (thank the Gods that Be!) and they've collected their own favourites as well. One of the EO's current favourites is "Jaane Kyun..." or the "I'll be alright" song from 'Dostana'. The other day, in the car, I suddenly hear this little voice singing over and over again "Jaane Kyuuuuuuunnnnn, Jaane Kyuuuuuuunnnnn..." He thought no one was listening and when he caught me looking at him and smiling, he got embarrassed and tried to hide his face. Aah, my little jaan, didn't you know that you can't hide from the ever-watchful gaze of mom? Especially the cute stuff!

~Being the only Bong in a class full of Hindi-speaking toddlers, I knew that my YO would pick up bits and pieces of Bollywood's prima langua sooner rather than later. But I still couldn't help but be amused when we were at the store and he suddenly piped up and said, "Baari jayegaa!" Aww! (I want to go home!) And he even kept some Bong in it ('Baari' is 'home' in Bangla) to make sure his language-challenged Mamma understood!

~Because the EO is allowed to watch TV (of course I strictly monitor TV programs and viewing), by default, the YO has started watching certain programs/movies earlier than when the EO did. For example, the YO is a complete Potter-head, just like his mom and elder brother. How much of it he understands, I have yet to understand, but he hums the theme music incessantly! At the YO's age, the EO was in love with cute, adorable Dora and her handsome cousin Diego, and enjoyed the antics of Noddy and his friends in Toyland. But the YO prefers Little Einsteins and Ben 10 to Oswald and company, thank you very much! Well, the EO and the Nephew were watching their evening quota of TV and lately they've been showing the promos of "Madagascar:2" during the ads. Today, I was reading something about the making of the movie in the newspaper with the YO on my lap. He recognised the faces of the friendly four and immediately started jumping up and down on my lap, clapping his hands and screeching, "I like tho moob ith, moob ith!" (The Madagascar theme song, "I like to move it, move it!) Yes, my little one, I can sure see that you do!

Get well soon my love! It breaks my heart to see you this way!

Monday, December 15, 2008

And the Award Goes to...

Moi! Three tmes over! AM I on a roll, or what? Nah, it's just that I've got some great friends out there who really like me...and I ain'ts complainin'!

It's pouring awards and felicitations and I guess the time for Oscar worthy speeches has come upon us once again!

This most amazing award was given to me by the amazing Goofy Mumma and according to her friend Shalom from Red Moonrise, this award acknowledges "the values that every blogger shows in his/her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary and personal values every day."

Wow GM! Me? Really?!? Thank you so much! I don't know what to say, except that it means so, SOOO much to me that you feel this way about my blog. And that in itself, is more than any award!

And my awardees are the Mad Momma, Bohemian Rhapsody, IndieQuill, Orange Jammies and Sunny Days . I truly believe they embody the spirit of this award. Pass on the torch my incredibly wise friends.

My grateful thanks to my Namesake and to Monika,Ansh for bestowing upon me this wonderful award. Thank you both, I am overwhelmed! You two are wonderful friends, I cherish your presence in my life and I hope you both know that.

"This award is given to a blog that invests and believes in PROXIMITY - nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award."

Right, and my pick of eight Sia, Wordjunkie, Pseudo Intellectual, Of This and That, Mystic Margarita, Itching to Write, Karma Calling and my dear Noon.

I hope I've sent you some festive cheer, so 'deck the blogs with words and awards, fa-la-la-la-la...' and pay it forward!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Lean, Sweet Fighting Machine

My sweet and sensitive EO demonstrated his karate chops today and was rewarded for his efforts with a green belt.

So bye-bye yellow, hello green.

It may seem funny that the YO seems to have picked up more karate than him just by watching the action sequence in 'Kung Fu Panda', and that the EO refuses to defend himself in a fight with his cousin, resorting to tears instead, but it still doesn't take away from the fact that my EO got a green belt today.

And I am one heavily chuffed Mamma!

Yay my sweet, I am so proud of you!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

To New Friends....

Yesterday, I had the wonderful pleasure of meeting some of Kolkata's finest bloggers. (OK, one wasn't a Kolkata blogger, but she originates from here, so there!)

I first went over to Dipali Taneja's (of this and that) home. Gracious, soft-spoken and very welcoming, my brood and I loved her on sight! Within a couple of minutes, he two brats made themselves at home and my EO embarrassed me thouroughly by announcing that he was hungry and he asked Dipali to make him an omelette, his most favourite food in the entire, whole universe. That's right people, I don't feed my kids, which is why they resort to begging when we go to other peoples' homes. As Dipali sprang to the kitchen to make my hungry child an omelette, I was busy giving him the stink-eye and shivering in my wedges, wondering what other child-related embarrassments were in store for me as the evening progressed.

After my hungry little ones guzzeled their orange juice, ate their food, washed up after themselves and paid their respects to Dipali's parents, we proceeded to The Meet! I can't even begin to tell you how excited I was...I'd been looking forward to this th entire week. Our wonderful hostess was Sunayana of Sunny Days. She is warm, funny and just pure masti personified. And the Bhablet! What do I say about him? Words fail me! He is just soooooooo gorgeous, that really...words fail me! Sue, if you're reading this, he really shouldn't be wandering around kaala teekaa-less! Those eyes have totally won me over. He was totally dumbstruck as he silently and unprotestingly watched his kingdom being raided by these two goons who had suddenly appeared from nowhere. But by the end of it, my boisterous dynamo, the YO, had the timid and gorgeous Bhablet, admittedly tentatively, trying out flying leaps and somersaults on the bed. Sue and V, I sincerely apologise for whatever influence my little brat may have had on your little gentleman of a darling!

Soon, we had the other troopers coming in...Eve's Lungs with her two daughters, one of who happens to be studying in my Uni alma mater and Mystic Margarita along with hubby, but sadly minus Popol.

We talked, stuffed our faces, watched the three boys make masti and talked loads more. We talked about our blog personas and other bloggers we love and missed...our virtual friends all over the world!

When it was time to sing "So Long, Farewell...", I was surprised to find everybody passing out gifts and little tokens of love. These wonderful people even had presents for my little ones! I am ashamed to say that I carried nothing with me. Shame, shame, SHAME!! I have a lot to make up for! At the risk of sounding like a B-grade Bangla movie, I went empty-handed but came back 'full-hearted'.
When I started blogging, I never ever imagined that I would be making new friends at my age, but the wonders of blogging never cease to amaze me. One of the many gifts blogging has given me.

My brats and I had a blast and I can't wait for the next one.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Pop Goes the...

I have a zit. Right on my forehead. It sticks out like a, what else, but as the bloody pimple that it is.

Blessed/cursed with oily skin, pimples have always been the bane of my post-puberty, facial skin's being. And now with age, these blighters have just gotten more stubborn. Pretty much like the mother ship from whence they spawn.

This particular one has been around for over a week and shows no sign of sprouting a head, wrinkling up into decrepitude and ultimately leaving my face with a reminder that it was there, that it had visited, existed.

The YO has been fascinated with it and stares at it for long seconds before scurrying off to admire something equally disgusting, like crow poop or dead bugs.

Yesterday, he finally pointed to it and asked me: Eitaa ki? (What is this?)
Mamma Mia: (wondering how to explain 'excess secretion of facial oil, ergo a pimple, a zit, a kill-joy', finally resorts to...) Eitaa beththaa. (This is a boo-boo [a 'hurt']).
The YO: Beththaa? (Boo-boo?)
Mamma Mia: Hmmm. Mamma-ke shaatt-shaatt korey dao. (Make Mamma feel better.)
The YO: (tenderly, lovingly, gently, so-sweetly-I-could-crush-him-to-my chest-and-die-smiling-ly, strokes his tiny, chubby hand over the offending eruption) Shaatt-shaatt. Shaat-shaat. (No real translation for that, will just have to go with "There-there. There-there.")
And even more tenderly and lovingly, he plants a soft, gentle kiss on It, the Zit.

And then, suddenly, out of the blue, he whacks me hard on the forehead! At that spot! On It, the Zit!! I mean WTF?!?

Before I could recover from speechlessness, he raises his finger to It, the Zit and in a stern, gruff voice...he actually SCOLDS it!!

The YO: No! Paap! (Paap, in Bong baby-speak is what we say when we are scolding certain toddlers who don't behave. We also use the word whenever anything has 'hurt' our little darling's head, body, etc on their voyage of discovery. For example, if said toddler bumps his head against the wall or something, to pacify said now-screaming toddler, we scold the wall with a loud 'PAAP!!')

Right, so the YO, scolds my pimple and smacks it again!! Seriously...WTF?!? Then he raises his voice and scolds it even further, "Tumi Mamma-ke kaammey disho? Nooo! Paap!" (Tumi Mamma-ke kaamrey diyechcho? -- You've bitten Mamma! Nooo! Paap!)

His expressions were worthy of the Mastercard ad...priceless.

And I'm pretty sure my face, with it's weird mixture of ringing pain and eyes full of teary love, was quite the same as well...priceless.

Another Action Update...

For a seriously superb blog where you can help out with not just Mumbai, but many other issues concerning/troubling our country today, please visit:

My sincere thanks to Orange Jammies pointing this great blog out!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Rock of All Things

I hang your name
about my neck
and it dangles
between my breasts.
Sometimes a pendant;
yet reassuring me that
it's there.
Sometimes a boulder;
burdening me
with the very idea of
your existence.

or coloured glass,
it changes face
with the varying moods
of my love
and indifference
and reminds me
of your place
in my Book.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Zoo of Misery and Wretchedness

We went to the zoo yesterday. The MIM and I with our two brats, BILly Boy with his wife and two brats.

I wish, I really, really wish that I could say we had a blast, but personally, I didn't. The kids were excited to see the animals, of course. Plus, it had been a very long time since we had all gone out together like this in a group, so that was fun too.

But the animals. Oh, those poor, poor animals. Now I have nothing against zoos and circuses -- PROVIDED THE ANIMALS ARE WELL CARED FOR. My eyes and sensibilities were assaulted by one miserable sight after the other.

I've always loved the zoo. Some of my happiest memories are of visiting the Bronx Zoo when we lived in New York and of going to the Mysore Zoo when we lived in Bangalore. I used to think it was quite thrilling that we could get to see wild animals so up close and personal. As I grew, I also believed that the zoo was a safe haven for many of these animals. A zoo was one of the few places where all animals could be looked after, nourished and cared for like beloved pets. I safely assumed that endangered species would multiply and thrive in such a protective and loving atmosphere and that soon enough, we could knock their names off the endangered species list.

But yesterday, I felt these miserable creatures were better off in the wild. I could see the rib cages of the lions. Kings of the jungle, these mighty beasts are supposed to be. Instead, they were nothing more that mere skeletons of their glorious memory. It pains me to say it, but the word that best describes them is 'fleabags', lying there in the sun like limp, stinky dishrags. The giraffes, those tall majestic creatures were trying desperately to lick the 'chunaa' off the walls -- a clear sign of calcium deficiency.
The pool water in the hippo enclosure reminded me of a sewer. The same was the case with the water bodies meant for the storks, cranes, ducks and other water birds. The Calcutta Zoo used to attract migratory birds from as far as Siberia and the MIM was telling me how in the winters, there would hardly be any space on the lakes. because the birds covered every available inch of space there was...and let me assure you, the space is considerable. And now? Just a few flocks here and there and dirty water as far as the eye can see and the nose can smell. Not surprisingly, word about the bad acco and services must have travelled by squawk and chirp of beak to all the four corners of the globe by now.

Not just that, the place is filthy!! The zoo is a major winter attraction here in Kolkata. Families pack picnic lunches and lovers 'chat' behind the bushes. Is it so bloody difficult to throw a used thermacol plate or an orange peel into the dustbin that's right in front of your f*****' face! The whole place was worse that a pigsty, because even a pig worth his pink wouldn't give the place the time of day, unless he was put behind bars like his more unfortunate brethren of the animal kingdom.

And no sign-boards. Anywhere! No maps, no arrows to point us in the direction of the reptile house, the zebras, the lions, the monkey cages...nothing! 'Hello! Anybody there? Could we have some attendants and zoo officials out and about please? No? Say what? They're all at home sleeping on a Sunday morning. Well! What a novel idea, I say. And what about the rest of the week, what do they do then? Oh sleep!! Well good for them!'

Will I go back? Yes, of course I will. If only to see my YO clap his hands and exclaim excitedly, "Maakee, maakee" (that would be 'monkey' folks) and hear my EO try to roar like a lion. To hope that my paltry ten-rupee entrance fee will at least buy a packet of peanuts for the baby elephat.

And if possible, to 'accidentally' push someone responsible for the plight of these creatures, into the tiger's den.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Fat-Busting Diaies: Days 3 and 4

Wednesday morning, I had my 3rd session at the slimming centre.

By now, familiar with the "go to toilet" and then weigh myself routine, I did that and waited for them to compare my previous recordings and tick me off for gaining a quarter of a quarter kilo, but hallelujah, I had actually managed to maintain it since Friday's reading. Well, considering this weekend I was rather sinless compared to my usual weekends and that I only ate grapefruit for dinner, I wasn't too surprised. But I was worried about the sausages I'd had on Tuesday morning for breakfast. You never know what attacks you when, where and how. And since my thighs are prone to expanding at the mere aroma of pepperoni pizza and freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, I had every right to cross my fingers and be worried.

I had a small session with the physiotherapist, where he asked my to show off my amazing flexibility and astounding suppleness. I had to sit with my legs stretched out in front of me and touch my toes. Then he asked me to stretch beyond toe and foot area, which I did, my mountainous mound of abdominal fat notwithstanding. Hoping for some praise and because I have serious self-esteem issues, I actually asked him if I did well. Like an over-zealous school teacher he actually said that I could do better! Yeah, I know! I probably could if I didn't have a built-in insulation plant where my tummy should be! When he asked me it I was doing the all the 'physiotherapy' he had given me, I lied through my fat ass and said 'Yes'! And yes, the guilt-trip kicked in almost immediately!

Day 3 was a thermoslim session. Nurse Strong-Arms was in an exceptionally chatty mood. She's quite nice actually, but she went rather ballistic when it came time to 'knead' my stomach like fatty dough. She saw me wincing and acknowledged the fact that she was being rather 'rough'. Oh phew! And here I was thinking that maybe was just charged with too much caffeine or an early morning meal of maacher-jhol-aar-bhaat or something! After the ironing, the kneading and pounding (oops! I mean massaging of course!), it was time to cast my stomach in paste (oops, now I mean slap on a coat of tummy pack!). And in that darkened room, while the goop on my stomach hardened, I took a 'beauty nap'...literally!

I woke up just seconds before Nurse Strong-Arms appeared and peeled the paste off in one swift motion. I am so, SO thankful I don't have a hairy stomach!

After the pee-pee and weigh-weigh routine, where it was gleefully noted by Sunny Chica that I had lost 200 gms after the session, I was taken for the personal body-sauna session. Wrapped in cling film, a loofah-like towel and the heating pad, I sweat it out and watched TV for a while.

After the third and final round of loo-and-weighing-machine, the Sunny Chica sat me down and gave me a detailed diet chart. She was far too sunny for my liking. In fact, she had gone quite beyond 'sunny' and had entered 'bubbly'. Bubbly like a thoroughly shaken soda bottle with too much fizz and no point. I argued with her and she sweetly asked me what my problem was in following the chart. I told her what I dad been feeling since session 1, that if I had wanted their type of 'diet' regimen I would have gone with the Atkin's or the South Zone or the Ford diet plans. She tried to calm me down and I just nodded and pretended to give in, because I wasn't in the mood to argue. As I folded the diet plan and put it away, she asked me to bring glasses and bowl capable of holding a certain amount of liquid and food. I thought of the YO's milk bottle and seriously contemplated stuffing that next to my tracks and T-shirt for the next day's session.

I left feeling disappointed and lighter. It was time to go home and stuff my face. Which I did.

With four different types of fruit. That should give Sunny Chica something to munch on!!

Friday was session #4 and this time it was a weight-loss session.

I was asked to hand over my Diet Diary, which I did so, rather reluctantly, I must admit. I was dreading the remarks. Geez, these sessions were starting to feel more and more like school.

It was noted that I had gained 600 gms. I felt like the chubby child caught with her hand in the cookie jar. I seriously do not recommend these sessions for the easily-embarrassed!

I reconnected, literally, with my old friend the Ther-Ther and we were all a-buzz for the next one-and-a-half-hours or so. I was watching a lovely naach-gaanaa programme on TV when somebody else came in for her Ther-Ther session. Not being in a particularly charitable mood, I didn't even offer her the remote. But she seemed to be enjoying my choice so luckily that didn't turn into an awkward session.

After the mandatory trip to the loo and the weight-taking session, I was sent back home with my diary, a cheery wave and a "See you on Monday!"

I waved back, grabbed my diary and walked out reading it. There were actually tick marks next to my good food choices and circles around the wrong ones! Did I mention before that it felt like school?

"See you on Monday," they said.

Yeah, I'll be waiting with bated breath!!

Another Small Action Update...

I have updated my earlier post with a new online petition.

Please sign and spread the good word...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Friends and Tagore...

I have always maintained that friends are my lifelines. They fill my life with light and laughter. The past week being what it was, I thought we needed a chance to escape for a few minutes from the all madness and destruction and lose ourselves in stories of our children, work and the latest movies.

So, on Saturday, 29th November I called some of my friends over to the Saturday Club (yes, teeheehee and all that) with their kids, for tea, snacks and loads of adda. Three of the five fabulous women were able to make it, their broods in tow, and a great time was had by all -- the kids and the moms. The children ran on the lawns, the wind whipping their faces, their laughter ringing in the air and the sight and sound of them enjoying themselves, literally filled our hearts with gladness.

Yes, I'll say it again...friends are my lifelines. Thank God for them!
On Monday, the MIM and our boys, bundled ourselves into the car and drove down to Shantiniketan. Every year, on the 1st and 2nd of December, there's an art mela there called the Nandan Mela, which attracts art lovers from all over the state and even serious aficionados from other parts of the country as well as the world.

This is the second time I have ever been to Shantiniketan, a place that holds a special space in my heart. Aside from the fact that I love, worship and tend to deify all things Tagore; my Maa-Janoni and her younger sister, my favourite aunt, both studied there. Through their memories and reminisces I have walked the raangaa-maatir poth and danced in the Basonto Utsab countless number of times. I have 'seen' Maa-Janoni stun the spectators into awe with her histrionics on stage and 'heard' my Choto Mashi serenade the trees, birds and audience into raptures with her tremendous vocal talent.

The MIM and I have bought a small piece of land there, where we one day, God willing, plan to build our dream country cottage. A place where we can run away from the city to breathe pure, fresh air. Where we can let the boys run, cavort and tumble in wide open spaces. Where we can take friends and chat the nights away, sing out loud to the night sky and for a few, blissful days, let the wind cary our worries and stress far, far away.

This year, my very close friend was also there, with her hubby, her two sons, parents, in-laws, elder sister and her daughter. There were other friends there two. When the EO met his friends, the reunion was straight out of the movie 'Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge'. They younger boy, A2, who is closer to the EO in age, and the EO ran towards each other with open arms, screaming each other's names. The only things missing were a 'sarson ka kheth' and a banjo. To say that the sight was both hilarious as well as heart-warming is obviously a understatement.

After lunch with my friend's family, the MIM went off for some work and we hung out together the entire afternoon and evening. The MIM met up with us at the mela in the evening and the ambiance was electrifying. Unfortunately, for the past couple of years, the big, established names in the art world haven't been participating much, but that in no way takes away from the spirit of the fair.

After the mela, a cosy night back at the place where we were staying, an early night to bed and in the morning we woke up fresh and rejuvenated. We had planned to drive back after lunch, but my friend called us up, urging us to leave as soon as possible since a drivers' strike had been called in Bolpur.

We had a sumptuous breakfast in the garden, under the winter sun (I recommend that everyone should do it!) We piled our stuff into the car and left, earlier than we had planned.

So much remained undone, but we can always go back. Barring a few hiccups and thanks to some lucky breaks, we reached home in time for lunch.

And all to soon, my idyllic retreat ended and we were back to reality.

And reality bites! On the bum, no less!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Action Update...

I am overwhelmed by the response to my earlier post. I got so many words of encouragement from so many of you!! Thank you!

One thing is clear, everybody wants to do something. I have never been good at leading, but I've always been a very good team player. Tell me what I can do, and if it's in my power, I will do it! And Pseudo Intellectual, I didn't ever mean to be's just that when I wrote this, I had this big visual in my head, of Mommy Bloggers marching up the steps of Rashtrapati Bhavan to keep an appointment with the President of India and discuss how we can make our country safer for our children. That's all. I need you on my side, I hope you do know that! And I don't have anything concrete on my hands now, everything is still hazily sketched in the mind... The moment things take shape, you know you'll be one of the first ones to read it here!

I need to thank many of you for linking my post to your blog; Parul, Goofy Mumma, Button's mom and wordjunkie.

I have decided to start small; tiny, baby steps if you will. I am spreading some information about some great websites that are up. For some positive action, here are a few blogs/sites that you could visit:

Now with schools gearing up for Christmas pageants and the holidays, I feel it won't be a good idea to approach them now. So, after the break, I have decided to go to the EO's school and ask the principal about teaching the pledge to all the students as well as starting with the NCC. I don't know how it will go, but I do know that I am going to try. Just like this, if we all visit the schools our children study in, or we studied in, and put our proposals forward, we can feel good about trying. And if our efforts don't work, then we can think of taking it to the next level, like a nationwide campaign, or an online petition. I know that the Mad Momma has a very valid point when she says that a pledge is not enough to instill nationalism, I would still like to try. It could be a start.

The torch is burning...let's keep it alive. And not just a flicker either, but a huge roaring flame that will keep the darkness at bay!

Here is the pledge that I keep going on and on about. My heartfelt thanks to the Mad Momma for giving it to me ...
India is my country and all Indians are my brothers and sisters.
I love my country and am proud of its rich and varied heritage.
I shall strive to be worthy of it.
I shall give my parents, teachers and all elders due respect, and treat everyone with courtesy.
To my country and my people, I pledge my devotion.
In their well-being and prosperity alone lies my happiness.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Let's Do Something!!

I am sick, SICK of these as***les trying to blow our country into smithereens. I am sick of my backyard turning into a war field. I am sick of worrying about family and friends living under the threat of terror. I am sick of feeling guilty for bringing two beautiful children into this f***ed-up world.

We can rant and rave about the politics and politicians of this country. We can scream ourselves hoarse over issues like corruption and nepotism. We can sign all the online petitions we want condemning killings, murders and rapes.


Something to ensure that the tigers don't die out in our children's lifetimes.
Something to make sure that we have clean water to drink and fresh air to breathe till eternity end.
Something to make sure that the flora and flauna of the world can thrive and grow in all their natural beauty and splendour.
Something to make sure that the d***-heads don't strike again.
Something to make sure that out five-year olds don't come and ask us what a 'bomm balast' means.
Something to make sure that watching the news need not be a censored event in front of your children's eyes.

But what?

We can wear all the black armbands and badges we like; burn all the candles we want; walk in all the protest rallies there are; cuss at all the politicians that exist; ...but what can we do to make our citizens more proud of their country? What can we do to instill more pride in our armed forces? What can we do to become a more tolerant yet vigilant and tougher nation?

Over the past few days, I have read some excellent posts by mommies all over the world. Mommies angered over the ease with which these terrorists could gain access into our country; mommies scared by the sheer intensity of the hatred that these gun-toting bastards propagate ; mommies outraged by irresponsible men chosen to lead and govern us; mommies scared shitless and witless over the kind of world we are bequeathing to our children.

This is what I propose to all the mommy bloggers out there who want to make a difference:
~Let's start a forum, like Mommy Bloggers Against Terror or Mommy Bloggers for a Better World. [let's get a better name to start with! ;)]
~We should write a petition to the Prime Minister and President of our country, asking them to pass a law to make the pledge of allegiance to our Motherland absolutely and strictly COMPULSORY in each and every school throughout the land. Nationalism is not inbred, it is instilled.
~We can visit schools and make presentations to the principles asking them to start an initiative with the Indian army, where they can invite army officers once or twice a year to come to school and give an interactive talk to children from class 6 and up, about what it is that they do. Our children need to know, understand and be grateful.
~Let's form clubs in school geared towards protecting the environment. This should be made a part of every school curriculum, just like moral science and SUPW.
~Let's teach our children to be more vigilant.
~Let's revive the concept of pen-pals in school, onbce again.
~Let's start across the border friendship initiatives amongst the schools. We have inter-school cul-fests in our cities, why not amonst the SAARC nations? Let's get sponsors for exchange programs.

I don't know... What else? You tell me... Please share your thoughts. ideas and suggestions with me. Please tell your blog friends to read this particular post of mine and to pass the good word around. If required...let's start a new blog!! We blog, we write, we connect -- from all over the world. Let's do this too!

I'm sick and tired of sitting in the back-seat, waiting for things to happen. Let's take the steering wheel in our hands and move forward, in the same direction with the same goal in sight.

Let's do something!

Friday, November 28, 2008

As***le Terrorists! I Hate You More Than Ever!

My two boys are busy hugging and kissing each other as I write this. The Nephew joins them. There's a funny love-fest going on with lots of raspberries being blown on each others tummies, endless hugs and the sound of musical laughter...

And my vision is blurred. The tears have come of their own accord at this sight that has been played out before my eyes millions of times before. But today, in this atmosphere of bloodshed and unrest, it just punches my heart in a very different way.

My precious loves! What kind of world have we brought you into?

The Fat Busting Diaries: Day 2

What with the situation in Mumbai, I did not feel like blogging about this yesterday. Very frankly, my heart is still not in it, but I did promise to record my personal Battle with the Bulge, so here it is, Day 2 at the Slimming Centre...

I was informed that the day-before had been a 'Zero Session'. At first I thought all that zapping and buzzing had yielded zero results, hence the name. But no, it was a 'freebie', a session to give me a taste of things to come. Yesterday's session, my treatment process started in earnest. The Buzzer, which is what I decided to call the machine (at first thought I'd use The Vibrator, but then I remembered that oops, a contraption by that name already exists!!) is for the weight-loss program. Yesterday, was the first session of my Thermoslim Therapy. For fun, I've decided to call it Ther-Ther. Also because it reminds me of this Bengali colloquialism, 'thhawl-thhawl', which loosely translated means, wibble-wobble, which unfunnily enough, is exactly what my tum-tum does.

So The Buzzer and the Ther-Ther were to be my fat-busting buddies.

The Sunny Chica was asking me about my Fat Book, which I didn't get. That made her considerably un-sunny. She weighed me and noted that I had GAINED .55 kgs over-night. Something in me just withered and died. I felt like somebody had whacked me in the face with last night's dinner-plate laden with home-made Chinese food! So she asked me to write down on a piece of paper, what my diet normally looks like on a day-to-day basis. Now I kid you not, but I actually am a very healthy eater. It's the evening round of namkeens that play my nemesis and of course my chocoholism, but I don't sin everyday. Normally it's lots of fruit, salad, milk, bowls of daal and roti-sabzi at night. I eat smart and I thought Sunny Chica would give me a pat on the back. Instead she looked at my sheet, nodded and said that she would give me a diet chart? WTF?!?

Seriously! WTF?!? If I had to go on a diet and exercise for an hour-a-day at home, WTF was I paying them for? I could have joined Talwaker's for the amount I paid them! This is why I am a gullible, stupid fool, ladies and gents. This is why I am the biggest sucker in all of Suckerdom! Probably the biggest sucker that ever existed!

I was made to go into the Ther-Ther room, where the day-before's nurse-like person measured, in excruciatingly embarrassing detail, the flab content of my stomach, hips and thighs. The Ther-Ther is supposed to be my salvation to inch-loss. As she was taking the measurements, I couldn't help but remember what the MIM had said the night before. "Inch-loss? All they're going to do is hold the measuring tape that much more tighter after your entire treatment is over and then present you with your 'successful ' results!" Maybe I was being paranoid, but it did seem to me that she was indeed holding the tape rather loosely. Sigh! I guess I'll find out eventually!

I was asked to "go to toilet" after which my Ther-Ther session began. My T-shirt was pulled up and tucked under my boobs, while my tracks were pulled down to mid-thigh region. She asked me to lie down on the bed and then she took out something that looked suspiciously like an iron, switched it on and started 'ironing' me with all her strength! What was she trying to do? Flatten my tummy into trimness? Squeeze the flab out of me? What? And what if somebody wanted this therapy for their butt? Oh! Spare me the nightmare!

Now, I noted that there was a buzzing of a different tempo happening where The Iron and my flab made contact. So, I an safely come to the conclusion that the buzz about all theses weight-loss centres is simply buzzings of different natures and at various speeds, tempos and vibrations. Very interesting!

She moved The Iron all over my stomach, which was bobbing up and down like a disgusting sea of flab. I watched the wibble and the wobble, the jiggle and the jaggle in morbid fascination. God! My stomach was so flabby and wobbly it wasn't even funny or was just shameful.

After half-an-hour of ironing, Nurse Strong-Arms (that's what I've decided to name her), massaged my tummy. She did everything from kneading the flab like dough to doing karate chops that bounced right off my stomach and hurtled towards her face. After that, she mixed some kind of paste, which looked like papier-mache and tons of glue, spread the goop all over my tummy, put a towel on it, covered me up and left the room. Since there was no TV in the Ther-Ther room, I dozed off for about 10-15 minutes. When I snapped out of my snooze, I felt a tightening about my stomach and at that moment, Nurse Strong-Arms walked in, peeled off the now-hardened goop and voila! A cast of my stomach! Did they expect me to take that home, put it in a glass box for all to see and admire? I hoped not.

Luckily, she threw it away asked me to adjust my clothes, "go to toilet", weigh myself and go to room number 3. Sunny Chica was there to supervise my jaunt on the scales and noted with tremendous glee and satisfaction that I had lost .35 kgs. She looked at me expectantly thinking that I was going to go all "Gee! OMG! Goodness Gracious! How wonderfully clever y'all are, to squeeze SOOOOO MUCH of my fatness out of me in just one hour! Imagine what two hours could do!?!" But no. Not me. How was I supposed to be sure that it was due to all the ironing-kneading-and-moulding and not because of my "going to toilet" twice that resulted in this 'miraculous' weight-loss? So I just gave a half-smile instead.

I then went to room 3, which was the same where The Buzzer resided. I found a giant-sized roll of cling-film and a pair of scissors there. Just how many wonders were in store for me? Nurse Strong-Arms came in, slapped some cream onto my stomach and wrapped my tummy in three rounds of plastic. I was then made to lie down on the bed, where they put a rubbery-like half-body suit on me and switched on the machine. The TV was also switched on for my benefit, So far so good. And then, things started to heat up a little bit. Then came the trickles of sweat. So I was right. I had indeed been wrapped up like a kathi roll so that I could be baked into a pool of melted fat. Looks like my microwave idea wasn't that far off the mark!!

As I sweated and hopefully some areas of my body melted, I felt that this wasn't so bad. It was like my tummy's personal sauna happening. After around 40 mins, an aide came in, switched off the giant-sized heating pad and unwrapped me. I wonder what the MIM would have made of it! ;p

After that, yes, another trip to the toilet, another trip to the scales and with the presentation of a diet chart by the now-unsmiling-and-dead-serious Sunny Chica, I was sent home, with a reminder of my appointment with the doctor in the evening.

Yes, come 5 p.m. and I was back in the place that seemed all set to become my second home over the next couple of weeks. The session was with a gynaecologist whom I recognised as somebody who practices in the same hospital where the boys' paediatrician practices. That was very reassuring, I have to tell you. He was nice and sweet and asked me lots of questions. He recommended that I get my hormone, thyroid and insulin levels checked, which didn't seem unreasonable at all and which I should have had done by now anyways. After all, it's been two years since the YO was born and that was the last time that I had any kind of testing done.

So, next week, I will be off somewhere to get myself poked with needles and Operation Blubber Be Gone will continue...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mumbai Meri Jaan

I'm a Bangalore girl, through and through. But I have strong bits of New York, Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai in me too. And I am just crazy in love with Mumbai.

And right now, my beloved Mumbai is bleeding. I know that I am not the only one weeping tears of blood.

My prayers go out to all the Mumbaikers now. My prayers for peace are passe. They are now for sanity to prevail...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Yay! Yay! Hip Hip Hooray!

I'm celebrating two successes today...

~For the first time today, my YO actually WANTED to go to school! He was impatient and started yelling at me to me to put on my 'shujj' and 'thalo, thalo', pulling me towards the lift! So obviously, there were no tears this morning as he was taken out of the car and carried inside. He got out all smiles and happily walked to his class teacher...without even looking back once! Yeah, that last bit makes me kinda sad, but get this -- my YO actually WANTED to go to school today! Yay!

~The karate belt exam is next month. The EO is a yellow belt. His friends are getting a green belt and I was under the impression that he wasn't going to the next level, which did make me slightly upset, yes, but which I could also very well understand. After all, he just turned five, he doesn't practise at home, his attention does wander and he was absent for quite a while over the last few months. But today, I was informed by the sweet kid who takes their classes (yes, a college kid who happens to be a black belt) that he is indeed getting a GREEN BELT! Hip hip hooray!

Champagne anyone? I can't help it, I'm a proud Mamma today!

P.S. Buri nazar wale tere munh kaalaa!

The Fat Busting Diaries: Day One

So, I went for my first session today to the Slimming Centre. And what a day I chose, too! Today apparently is World Obesity Day! I'm not sure if I should be congratulating other fatties like me and sending out a box of chocolates or kissing the hands of the slim'n'trim and worshipping the ground they glide on. Is there a particular greeting that I should be using, like "Happy Obesity!" or something? And more importantly, who do I say it to? The fat or the fat-free? Maybe Archies has a selection of appropriate cards which will throw some light on this issue. Anyway, today was my first day of Operation Blubber Be Gone!

I went in at 9.30 a.m. and was greeted by this short, thin young girl with a huge smile. She was chirpy and bright and thoroughly irritating. I mean, why wouldn't she be sunny? She was thin! I christened her Sunny Chica. She sat me down in the Counselling Room and started talking nineteen-to-the-dozen and giving me a headache. She addressed me with the familiar 'tumi' instead of the formal 'apni' and added a 'di' to my first name while using it. In fact, she told me to think of her as her 'choto bon' (younger sister). Okkkaaayyy! Too much happy-happy on an empty stomach was happening for my comfort. But then, I wasn't there for any kind of comfort now, was I? She took my details again and filled them into another form, congratulating me for using my maiden name as well as my married one. She went so far as to butter me up saying that she had learned something from me today...that women shouldn't let go of their maiden names after marriage. Pooosh!

After all the sugary sweet talk, she went on to tell me what a wonderful day I'd come on and how it was World Obesity Day and all, and therefore they were offering huge discounts on all their services and how I should really, really go for their special schemes and sign up for some more thermoslim sessions for my hips and thighs... Oh boy! I had fallen for it the last time, which is why I was there in the first place. I wasn't going to walk into that one again! I sweetly shook my head and said I wanted to see how these sessions worked out for me first, so thanks but no thanks...and I mentally patted myself on the back for not caving.

Then she took me to her colleagues and they took my weight...again and repeated the instructions for me...again, because hey, if I was fat I must obviously be stupis as well. They all used 'tmi' to address me, which I really am okay with, I just found it surprising that they didn't ask if they could first (it a polite familiarity, you know, "Ei! Tumi bolchchi, kichu money koro naa please!" -- I hope you don't mind me using 'tumi', if you don't mind...) Anyway, semantics be damned, bring on the slim-antics instead!

They finally took me to a Slimming Room. The room had two beds, each with a strange corset-like body suit laid out on top; a TV, and a strange machine that had loads of knobs and pirates eye-patch-like black pads attached to it, looking like octopus tentacles. Here, a nurse-like prototype took measurements of all my flabby areas...yes, butt cheeks, sagging belly, flapping underarms et al! I was then asked to lie down on the bed while she pulled my shirt up and tracks down so that she could strap me into the corset-like thingummy, after which she gelled the pirate patches onto my fields of rolling fat.

I must have been a very scary sight. Strapped up as I was, I probably looked just about less frightening than Hannibal Lector, but give me a mask and I'm sure that can be corrected! Imagine if you dare, a flabulous, short woman oozing excess flesh from ever undesirable quarter possible, strapped into Scarlet O'Hara's lingerie, which is incidentally held together by velcro. Not only is the sight unappealing, unsexy and unappetising, it might make you want to skip a meal or two or all. If that is indeed their intention, then they should put mirrors on the ceiling. I'm sure nothing would work up a resolve to never touch food again in this lifetime more than the sight of fat thighs that I just described.

So as she was gelling me down and strapping me up to black pads all over my hips, butt and thighs, I asked her, "Eitaa diye ki hoi?" (What does this do?)
She very helpfully said, "Eitaa on korle, ektu feelings hobey." (You'll get some 'feelings' once this is switched on.) 'Feelings.' Oooh! Intriguing! Feelings as in...? Of a sexual nature? Of the spiritual type? Of the emotional kind? Man, was she a bundle of knowledge and information! 'Feelings'! Phooosh!

And then, without even giving me a chance to count-down, she switched the contraption on. No blast, no bubbles, no fanfare, not even Aquaguard type of music to signal the start of Operation Blubber Be Gone. The electro-whatchamacallit was switched on. And I lay there with these funny zzzzzz vibrations zapping me at the places the pads touched my body. They came at one second intervals and lasted for about a second each time. So this is how they 'mobilise' the fat. Well who would have thought? But here's another thought...wouldn't it just be easier to wire me up to my fridge or microwave? Imagine the sizzling of those fat cells! Wouldn't that cause one helluva meltdown?!

So, as I lay there with the Ballet of the Buzzing Bees happening under my skin, I decided to follow the antics of the interns at Grace Hospital. Something was just so wrong with the entire picture in that Slimming Room. Me half-naked, padded up with tingly sensations swirling around my cells as I focused on Doc McDreamy's gorgeous face floating in front of me. It was like a weird S&M bondage fantasy gone all wrong!

After 45 mins of shock therapy, where I didn't even get to see how the episode ended, I was unstrapped, ungelled and fully-clothed once more. I was asked to "go to toilet" after which I would be presented with a Daily Diet Diary and have a session with the physiotherapist. Another broad-smiling dame called me into the counseling room, where I was handed the said diary. I have decided to name it, "Mamma Mia's Daily Remembrances of Gluttony and Guilt." Now, I know that's quite a mouthful, so for short, I'll just refer to it as my Fat Book. She explained what I had to do and then she started off with the World Obesity Day discount spiel too. I smiled and repeated what I had said to Sunny Chica.

And then it was the physiotherapist's turn. A young guy walked in. A definite cutie, but not hottie. He started flipping through my chart and measurements and obviously I cringed inside thinking about the figures of my figure that he was checking out. He then asked me to touch the floor and clasp my arms behind my back (one over the shoulder, the other via the side). I did both with ease. I may be a fat momma, but I'm a flexible momma. He then asked me about body image and I gave him a duh! look and then after that, he hit me. Oh no! Not physically, of course, but with, wait for it...with an exercise regime! Yes!!! Half-an-hour of brisk walking, spot jogging for ten minutes, jogging on a step for ten minutes and 20 counts of a particular asana.

Hellllllllllooooooooooooooo!!!! If I did this on my own everyday, anyway, I wouldn't be flabby in the first place! I wouldn't be coming to you guys at all! I wouldn't need your presence in my life! If it was all about the exercise and the eating right, I wouldn't BE HERE!! If suckers like me actually follow the "physiotherapist's" 'suggestions' no wonder there are these great big hoardings allover India proclaiming miraculous results! Geez!

So this is why they took so much money out of me. To sham me into working out everyday, to shame me into thinking about what I put into my mouth on a daily basis and to collect rent on the use of their TV sets for an hour-and-a-half three times a week. Boy! Am I stupid or am I stupid?

Am I going to lose weight after my 17 sessions? Well, if my Fat Book guilts me into moderation, maybe. If I follow the physiotherapist's orders, definitely. Will I be happy about the kilo-kill that I hope to achieve? If I can get into my pre-preg clothes, then of course. Will I be happy about this very expensive method that I've chosen to go from Fat-n-Flab to Fit-n-Fab? Nope, no, no, nope.

And here's why...

I think I would have gotten better results at a gym or playing a sport or simply by taking evening walks everyday. I definitely would have been healthier and in better shape at the end of sixty days, rather than having the fat buzzed out of me and being conned into a work-out regime at home.

At least that's what I feel right now. I may have to eat my words. In case I do, I just hope they're fat-free!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, Mera Dil Gayey Jaa!

I love music. After my boys, it's my second most favourite thing in the world. I can sit at a musical conference/concert all day and night and not notice the call of nature, feel the pull of a stiff back or feel the need for a good cup of elaichi chai. I studied to the soulful tunes and notes of classical music at night during my ICSE and ISC. Yes, I was a night owl. And during those stressful times, Pandits Ravi Shankar, Hari Prasad Chaurasia and Ustad Amjad Ali Khan would ease the tensions away. The musical ghosts of Verdi and Tchaikovsky were constant companions too.

When I moved to Delhi for my BA and subsequent MA, one article that I insisted on taking along with me was my parents' first-ever two-in-one. It had FM radio and a cassette player. What more did I need? It was my faithful friend and fixture. It shifted rooms with me, cooed me to sleep, coaxed me out of my slumber, kept me company during term papers and dissertation, sang me love songs during the first rush and blush of a crush, and sobbed with me during many a heartbreak.

Music is my soul food. And I have an eclectic taste in music, if I do say so myself. It all depends on my mood. So sometimes I jazz it up with Diana Krall, feel all lazy and bluesy with Norah Jones, let my heart ballet with Mozart or pretend it's an apsara for Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, rock it with Scorpions, melt to Josh Groban, lend my voice and soul to Rabindrasangeet, blast it with Bollywood...pretty much let my soul do whatever it's feeling like at that very moment. Yes, I'm very indulgent when it comes to feeding my soul with music. (Yes! Yes! I'm indulgent to my hips, waist and thighs too with chocolate, so my body can't complain that I love my soul more!!)

Often though, I forget about the power music has over me. It's soothing, healing and restorative powers. It can cure almost everything, I'm sure. There's a great deal to be said about music therapy...

So, in all the madness of daily life, project deadlines and two sniffly boys and one middle-aged type fighting for this Mamma's attention, my soul's cravings had taken a backseat. Oh the chocolates were still coming fast and furious because when the body wants, it gets. The body's hunger cannot be shushed or shut up. But the very essence of a soul is it's patience. It waits silently and sufferingly. Dangerous, yes, because there's a pressure cooker effect building up slowly and surely, but for the most part, it is quiet and patient.

This morning, the MIM put on some of my ABBA favourites from the movie 'Mamma Mia!' at eardrum shattering levels. And I sang. No, no, that's wrong. I belted it out. From my gut, from my very insides. From my very soul. I sang loud and proud, at the top of my voice, matching the decibel level of the iPod. I could feel all the black and blue clouds swirling over my head parting to make way for starlight, moonshine and fairy dust. My spine immediately straightened itself and I felt so tall, I could probably catch a floating cloud.

And I felt the unmistakable sting of tears rick my eyes. Not because I sang well. Good God, no! But because I just realised, again, how happy music and singing makes me. I felt so bloody happy! And it was a kind of no-strings attached happiness. The happiness just existed and radiated like the sun. No need for meaning or thought or deep philosophy or dissection. It was happiness. Plain and simple.

And the song that was playing? Very appropriately, 'Thank You For the Music."

Seriously. And happily. Thank you indeed.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Irresistable Pull of the Ghungroos

I wanted to be a professional Odissi dancer.

It was not some odd-ball, little girl fantasy. While other little girls wanted to be mommies, nurses, dancers and beauty queens, I would get a far-away look in my eyes and imagine myself decked-up in full Odissi-style splendour, dancing on stage before God, guru, family and friends.

There's a history there. I was learning ballet and tap in New York and having a blast learning both. When we moved to Bangalore, I remember being introduced to the gorgeously splendourful and entrancing world of Indian classical dance. While I was awed by them all, the Odissi performances captivated me the most. I felt like I was privy to the celestial dance of the apsaras and my heart was moved beyond measure.

Then and there, I decided that this was the path I was meant to follow. I sent Maa-Janoni on a wild quest to find a teacher or school for me where I could learn this art. But it was not meant to be. Bangalore was teeming with Bhartnatyam and Kathak classes, but not Odissi and I was stubborn in my refusal to learn anything else. Today, I regret my stubbornness, for had I learned either one of those dance forms, at least I would have been blessed with some form of dance in my life.

And then, the wonderful happened. Protima Gauri, my Odissi icon, opened Nrityagram. I was in the 8th grade. I wanted to leave everything and go there. I was serious. I sobbed, wailed, ranted and raved. I stopped eating for many days. Daddy Dearest was still living in New York in those days and my Maa-Janoni was at wit's end, trying to deal with me.

I never made it there. For a field trip, yes. For the yearly Vasant Habba celebrations, yes. But never as a student.

And it is the biggest regret of my life.

And Odissi still remains my life's biggest yearning.

Lately, the pull of the ghungroos and dancing beats has become too strong to ignore. I don't know whether I'm becoming pre-menopausal (I still have a couple of years to go before I hit my mid thirties, for cryig out loud!) or whether it's a mid-life crisis. But I do know this. I have to sign up for classes and learn. Even if it's for a year or six months. I know I'll never make it to the stage as a pro... I mean hey! At my age and bulk, who am I kidding?

But, I can still dance for me. And for the Gods.

A Room of My Own

Clearing out my study table drawer the other day, I suddenly realise what I miss. I miss having my own room. A lot.

I know, I know, I'm married and I live and share a bed and bathroom with an over-grown boy. I have too. It's one of those unstated, unwritten laws of marriage. But still, I miss having my own room.

And I'm not talking huge, big, gigantic room with a walk-in closet that resembles the floor area of a Ritu's boutique. Just a little haven of space that is mine alone.

Where I don't need to accommodate another person's stuff. Which reflects my personality, my quirks, my obsessions and delights. Which smells of sandalwood on some days, roses on others and green apples every now and then. Which would have a secret stash of Classic Ultra Milds, Juicy Fruit Bubblegum, Twix bars, nimki and Cavendish & Harvey sour cherry drops. Where I would hang snaps of me and my boys that reek of mamta, maternity and motherhood; make a collage out of post-cards and pictures of famous Impressionist paintings; and have a huge photograph of New York's Central Part displaying the gorgeous, golden-flame colours of fall in a full blaze of glory.

A small space to call my own and make my own. To mould and shape to reflect the inner passions and whimsies of my soul.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fat Poem

Hey diddle, diddle,
The fat and the frizzle...
My thighs shake all on their own.

My tummy's all lard,
Of the jelly-type, that too...
And my hips are way past over-grown.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

When Fat Cells Eat Up Your Grey Cells... become an idiot.

And I, dear friends, am an idiot. Of the biggest kind (a certain pun intended...) Carry on gentlefolk, to read my story of how I allowed myself to be absolutely and thoroughly bemuddled into joining a weight-loss centre.

I got a VLCC gift voucher as a gift from a credit card company.

Now, everybody knows how much I crib about my weight...and why not? I am fifteen kgs overweight. I was never slim and trim, but I was never such a hot-air balloon like figure either. It's one of my major causes for depression. (Yes, I do suffer from depression...there! I've said it out loud and I feel strangely lighter...but the battle with the little demons that surround me, leave me feeling tired, unhappy and soul-less. {I can't believe I've just admitted all that!})

But as I was saying before I started rambling, I am overweight and I have tried to do things about it before. I started going for walks soon after the YO was born, and everybody said that the results were showing. And then, I just stopped. The only available time on my hands was the evenings, but that time is heavy traffic-time for me...chasing after the kids, sometimes dropping & picking the EO and my friend's sons from karate class, feeding my boys, putting them to bed...I felt very rushed. I know it's not a good excuse, but it's the truth.

Next, I joined a gym for a month. I didn't even go regularly, but in twenty-one days I lost three kilos! That should have been incentive enough for me to keep going, but I didn't, because the gym timings were in the morning and that meant I had to go after dropping the EO off to school and before picking him up. That meant, the being away from home during the only exclusive time I had with my YO. And I thought bonding with my teeny-tiny babe was more important than those then 10 extra kilos.

But now that the YO has started school, I have been toying with the idea of going back to the gym. And then this voucher fell into my lap. It gave me a 30% discount on slimming or beauty packages, plus Rs. 5,000/- worth of treatments free. Never one to pass up a freebie and considering that this was also going to help carve a slim-waisted figure out of a lumpy mass of fat and flesh, and also not to ignore the fact that there's a VLCC centre just half-a-kilometer away from home, I decided to drop in.

The lady, sales rep, centre manager or what-have-you, knew her spiel backwards. And even though I am not a naive bumpkin and went in there knowing that to avail of those beautifully-worded freebies I'd have to shell out some amount from my pocket, I never imagined that I would be thwacked in the face with the astronomical figure of Rs. 40,000/-!! This, Ms. VLCC claimed, was how much it would cost me to lose a measly five kgs (hah!) and to tighten my tum-tum and thighs (that had me really interested) in x-amount of sittings. I shook my head politely and said that thanks, but no thanks I would just take the weight-loss package that guaranteed to have me 5 kgs lighter in time for Christmas.

But Ms. VLCC was not to be outdone. She carried on trying to convince me to go for ten sittings, instead of 20, for the thigh and tummy toning thingamajig. That still meant Rs. 20,000/-. Her well-toned upper arms, which she purposely flaunted in that sleeveless kurta, obviously worn to woo desperadoes like me who craved for an unflappable pair, seemed to mock me. My resolve was weakening, I could tell, but to my credit, I sat firm.

Finally, a last ditch effort by Ms. VLCC....and I caved. The thought of slimmer thighs and being able to fit into a pair of jeans that didn't have an elastic waist-band to accommodate a growing person inside of me, was just too good to pass up.

Yes. I am indeed walking around with a post-it stuck to my forehead, loudly proclaiming me to be a "SUCKER!!!"

And thus starts the story of how I allowed myself to be bamboozled into joining a weight-loss and slimming centre. Just so that I could get some freebies. And hopefully feel lighter around my 'problem areas'.

And I must say, it's already working. My bank balance is already feeling lighter by several thousands of rupees! And so is the inside of my head...those grey cells must really be dwindling in number!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Other Pandora's Box

I'm talking about my study table drawer. And the study table that housed it, warmly and snugly.

That table bore my diaries bearing reams and reams of my poetry, text books, tomes on mythology and various versions of the Mahabharata (am an avid world mythology and Mahabharata buff), poetry books, multi-coloured pens, and so so much more, with smiling patience and quiet strength. It would hold my cup of milk and plate of fruits, my constant breakfast for years, for me as I got ready for school/work.

The study table that was part of my growing up years and teen years when I was in Bangalore. Where I used to do my homework and not study. Where I sat for hours with the cordless phone and gossiped with friends and flirted with 'then' boyfriends. Where I shared many a kiss with my first boyfriend who used to sit there and write my name in calligraphy, over and over again. Where I sobbed my eyes out into my folded arms after many a tiff with Maa-Janoni, many a heartache, many lost dreams and crushes that were crushed. Where I poured my heart out in anguished rhyme and angsty blank-verse.

All my precious treasures were kept under lock-and-key in that drawer. Letters, photographs, knick-knacks, scraps of poetry, ciggie boxes and other bits and pieces of myself. I've carried the key around with me obssessively from city to city; to Delhi where I did my B.A. and M.A., to Bombay after I got married and finally to Kolkata where I still am.

My desk sat pretty in 'my' pretty, pink bedroom in Bangalore, waiting for my touch, my hello, my mere a true, long dear friend. And like the good, faithful friend that she was, she kept all my secrets to herself, never for a moment, ever betraying my counsel.

Two years ago, she was shipped to Kolkata along with my parent's belongings and now she sits in a corner of Daddy Dearest's study, proudly displaying his heavy tomes of law and Bengali literature, writing paraphernalia, spare set of specs, notepads, his precious fountain pen, a picture of the Goddess of Learning, his wallet, letters...oh, I could go on and on! There's just so much of his personality spilling over it and from it.

Except from the drawer. That drawer is all mine, all me. It holds a part of me that's been locked away for almost five years now.

Daddy Dearest and Maa-Janoni have been after me to open the drawer for over a year now. Obviously. Daddy Dearest needs to use it. They've even threatened to call a locksmith to break it open and change the lock. I keep telling them I'll get to it, but I just keep putting it off.

I don't know why. Because it holds a part of my youth, safely and carefully tucked away from the prying eyes of the world? Because there are things in there that I don't want my family to see or that I am not ready to see again? Or is it me? Am I afraid to get all mushy and sentimental about my youth which I realise is well and truly over? Am I afraid to kiss 'goodbye' to my good ol' days? I don't know why. Maybe I'm just not ready.

Until today that is. Maa-Janoni is in Kerala, sight-seeing with a friend and Daddy-Dearest is in Bangalore, returning sometime at night. I promised my Maa-Janoni that I'd drop by and water the plants and do the puja on her behalf. After dropping the boys off at school, I went over and did the needful.

I then stood staring at my faithful friend for the past so many years. I decided to relieve her of my secrets and treasure, that she has so faithfully held on to for so long.
It was like opening a Pandora's box. Memories flew about my head. I spent the next hour laughing, crying and smiling over the cards, letters and posts written to my by friends and loves, many now lost, some still a part of my life, older and wiser. I found little gifts and hand-made pincushions (made by my hand), bits of poetry written on scraps of paper, old photographs of the ex before the MIM, letters from his parents, an empty cigarette carton, a book of stickers (I used to love collecting them), a book I bought just before the wedding "How to Love Your Man" (blush! blush!), pens and so much more of a me I had forgotten.

The trip down Memory Lane was bittersweet. I am surrounded by an air of nostalgia about me. All I need right now is a cup of latte with an old friend to take that walk with.

They're all so far away.

I guess I'll go solo on that latte. I have many letters left to be read...

Edited to add: I did go out for that latte after all, and not solo, like I thought. I had the glorious pleasure of my YO's company and together we got gooey over a chocolaty doughnut and my foamy, frothy latte!