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!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Distant Music That Plays

It's that
wisp of music
that keeps my ears
the wind brings
it to me;
my sons' smiles.

It's the kind of music
that keeps your heart
never getting enough.
Like a first-time lover.

It's the kind of music
that keeps your spirit
waiting to soak up it's beauty.
Like an Impressionist painting.

It's the kind of music
that keeps your soul
searching for the perfect rhythm,
and partner.
Like a lost sheep.

It's that kind of music
that keeps you
desperate to catch,
and claim for your own.
Like the Siren singing at sea.
Like a childhood memory.
Like a first kiss,
a good kiss.

It's that
strain of music
that haunts me,
calls me,
taunts me.

I sleepwalk my life away
as the Piper plays
and I follow.

Maybe I'll wake up
when I hear the full song.

But for now,
it's that
strain of music
that sings to me
like a desert warbler,
pining for her love
in the scorching heat;

like a nun
at prayer,
yearning to see God;

like me
in waiting,
waiting to blossom to life,
to love.

I Don't Understand


How come
it's so easy for you to
ask for my heart
only to kick me in my empty chest
without looking up even once
at a face streaming with tears,
it can flood your very existence...
at a pain so visible,
it can sear right through you...
at a love so open,
so all-encompassing,
one can't help but melt in return.

Don't bother looking now.

My eyes are vacant.
And there are maggots
where the heart
used to be.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Question and Answer Time : A Tag

I have a load of tags lined up and if I don't get to them soon, then I'll be writing tags for the rest of my life! So, here's your very own M4, shaking off some of her laziness and tackling Mystic Margarita's tag. Thank you MM, for choosing me! I hope you likee-likee...

The rules for the tag are:RULE #1 People who have been tagged must write their answers on their blogs and replace any question that they dislike with a new question formulated by themselves.
RULE #2 Tag 6 people to do this quiz and those who are tagged cannot refuse. These people must state who they were tagged by and cannot tag the person whom they were tagged by continue this game by sending it to other people.

1. If your lover betrayed you, what will your reaction be?
Sobs, self-imposed exile and self-pity.

2. If you can have a dream come true, what would it be?
To become a world famous, respected Odissi dancer.

3. Whose butt would you like to kick?
Too many to list...mostly politicians!

4. What would you do with a billion dollars?
Charity and investments. And a world tour!

5. Will you fall in love with your best friend?
I didn't, but I would strongly urge my children to.

6. Which is more blessed: loving someone or being loved by someone?
Loving someone all the's not as easy as it sounds.

7. How long do you intend to wait for someone you love?
Till my heart stops beating for him.

8. If the person you secretly like is attached, what will you do?
Write poetry.

9. If you could root for one social cause, what would it be?
Making this world a greener, safer and friendlier place.

10. What takes you down the fastest?
MCP attitudes. Arrogance.

11. Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
Locked up in my boys' room and making them do thier homework.

12. What’s your fear?
Dying young, alone, unloved and unremembered.

13. What kind of person do you think the person who tagged you is?
Brilliant writer, brimming over with passion and honesty. Someone I would like to call a friend for life.

14. Would you rather be single and rich or married and poor?
But married and rich is so much better!

15. What’s the first thing you do wen you wake up?
Curse the alarm clock.

16. If you fall in love with two people simultaneously who will you pick?
The person who loves me back.

17. Would you give all in a relationship?
But naturally.

18. Would you forgive and forget someone no matter how horrible a thing he has done?
Forgive...depends on the nature of the crime. Forget...never, because I can't. I seem to have an in-built horrible-things-storage-unit in my brain.

19. Do you prefer being single or in a relationship?
A relationship...but I confess, I don't mind being alone, but I hate being lonely.

20. List of 6 people to tag:
Dr. Preeti Sharma
Pseudo Intellectual
The Mad Momma

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday Schooling and Snoozing

Scenario 1: The EO and the Nephew have just finished watching an episode (or rather, half an episode) of Power Rangers : Jungle Fury. Thoroughly inspired, the EO put on his Black Power Ranger suit and the Nephew suited himslf up in the uniform of a medivial knight. As always, they turned to me to fill in for the missing characters. I yelled out, "Watch out! The Dai-Chi is coming! Help us! Save us! Please!" Immediately the EO stopped and shook his head. "No Mamma. It's Dai-Shi, not Dai-Chi. And he's in Jungle Fury. This is Operation Overdrive", pointing to the logo on his chest. Sigh! And I was so smug in my knowledge of Ben 10 and his alien alter-egos. I was proud of the fact that I could differentiate between a Decepticon and an Autobot, and also confidently name who batted for which team. Seems like I still have a lot to learn!

Scenario 2: The YO still has a stuffed nose and is very cranky. The MIM was trying to get him into a better mood as I went in for a wuick shower and shampoo. I heard the MIM playing our song for the YO, the beautiful Love Theme from 'Mask of Zorro', and an instrumantal version of the theme song from 'The Godfather'. Two of my eternal favourites..."I want to spend my lifetime loving you" and "Speak softly love". The MIM played them over and over again for our red-nosed little one. Then he statrted knocking on the bathroom door asking me to take a peek. I do. And what do I see? The YO, fast asleep, soring softly and gently as the sweet music played near his head. It was a perfect, beautiful sight. And thrilling to boot! I rejoiced seeing my son fall peacefully and happily asleep to the soft strains of music...a character trait inherited from me, no doubt! I love falling asleep listening to music. The MIM...not so much. As for the YO, well, he's a boy after my own heart. From my own heart!

Au Revoir, Paul Newman

Paul Newman passed away last night. He was battling cancer. Cancer won, but he put up one heckuva fight.

Mr. Newman was probably the only man I would have willingly gone grey for. If anybody came to me with an ageing potion and said "Swig this and snatch any man of your choice from your grandma's generation" I would have happily and quickly done so. For him. For ol' blue eyes. For the most loyal Hollywood husband. For the nicest, most charitable and philanthrophic man in America...nay, the world! For Paul Newman.

Goodbye Mr. Newman. Thank you for the movies. And for being the exception to most Hollywood rules. Thank you for being you.

And now, excuse me as I start my search for "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" as my heart sings a sad song and sighs a tear or two or hundred.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Of Boot Polishing, Maska Maroing and Ass Licking

Pakistani President, Asif Ali Zardari told Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin that she is gorgeous and if the photographers insisted, he wouldn't mind hugging her. That was supposed to be a 'witty' comment.

Umm, someone refresh my memory, but didn't the guy just lose his wife to a bullet a little less than a year ago? A once-upon-a-time Prime Minister of our neighbouring country? Yeah, I thought so.

Elsewhere, not too far away, our venerable PM, Dr. Manmohan Singh, decided to do a little shoe-shining of his own. He sincerely assured the President of the USA, a Mr. George Bush, that we all 'deeply love' him! Really? I don't recall declaring my undying love for the President of Bloopers and Howlers Inc. Did any of you guys send him a Hallmark card, by any chance?

So these two representives of the Indian subcontinent had me appalled and disappointed at the same time.

I am still shaking my head in disbelief!

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Many Corners of Sanity

The little one has a cough; the kind that racks his little body and bludgeons my insides.

I have a runny nose and a TERRIBLE case of eczema exploding on my hand.

I promised my friends a surprise party for the MIM...tomorrow.

I have huge deadlines just around the corner.

Durga Puja is just around the corner.

Ma-Janoni's diamond year birthday is around the corner.

The YO's 2nd birthday is around the corner.

BIL-ly Boy's birthday and the Niece's birthday are around the corner.

I have to submit a write-up on stress and stress management.

Can anyone else hear the Gods laughing?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Happy Happy, MIM!

Today is the MIM's birthday!

Bonne Anniversaire, mon ami, mon amour, mon amant!

This Sunday's Report on Fears, Tears, Smears and Smiles

Some time back, when I started writing regularly for my blog, I wondered if I'd ever run out of things to talk/write about. The Powers That Are, are definitelylaughing hard at this one, considering that my blog is facing a backlog. I think there's got to be some irony at the rhyme and same letters of these two words, but it eludes me at the moment...

Well, I've decided to dedicate this post to this Sunday that the MIM and I spent with our two boys. Just a couple of incidents that I wish to record for posterity. Because, as I said elsewhere, I am so afraid of forgetting...

1) We wanted to take the boys out to a new restaurant called Machaan. It's supposed to have a jungle theme and everything, so I thought the boys would get a hoot. Not exactly near our place, but a longish drive on a Sunday afternoon is pretty nice. As we were nearing the place, the latest mall to open in Kolkata, called Mani Square, we saw these huge hoarding of a new entertainment section that's opened up in the Mall, called 'Scary House'. I got all excited about it and in the process, got the EO all jumpy and squealy and non-hungry, the same boy who was begging me for a snack exactly as we were walking out the door and to whom I said, "Wait for a little while baba, we'll be eating soon." Anyway, we get there and head straight for the 'Scary House' and something that I really should have anticipated greets my eyes...a list of people cautioned not to enter -- including children below eight! Wooooops! Teary tantrum alert! The man's face from behind the counter looked down at him, smiled kindly and said, "I'm sorry, you can't go in. You'll be too scared!" A very indignant EO placed his hands on his hips, faced the face and siad in a big-boy-voice, "I'm not scared! I'm five years old!" And to drive home his point, he raised his hand, with five fingers splayed apart, to emphasise his new age!

2) Well, once the floodgates opened, they were pretty hard to shut. So we headed to Machaan, the origanl purpose for making the entire trip in the first place. It was a Sunday afternoon, of course there was waiting! For 45 minutes! Since the EO was busy crying up an appetite and it was already quite some time past the YO's lunch time, we decided mot to wait and eat at the Food Court instead. But the place did look swell! There were 7 feet tall statues of tribals standing guard outside the restaurant and in the window display there was a huge elephant and a tree with a puma perched on top. I called my boys to come and take a look, but the EO, for some strange reason is terrified of mannequins. I am talking cringe-and-cower-and holler-for-mommy afraid. He can't explain his fear, and I am trying desperately hard to help him overcome it. I thought he'd get a kick out of seeing the animals. Big mistake! The tribals scared the beejeezus out of him and I was rewarded with a fresh and even louder outburst this time round! Considering that this incident sat upon the heels of the Episode of the Brave Five-Year-Old Big Boy in Front of the Scary House, I have to admit that the MIM and were thoroughly amused! Yes! We're a bad, bad Mamma and Baba! (Snigger, snigger! Smirk! Chortle, chuckle!)

3) While I was busy and happily buying junk food for our little family to gorge on (please don't look at me like that! Weekend treat! It's allowed!), the MIM was busy hanging onto the YO (seriously, the kid needs a leash!) and trying to reason with the EO at the same time. When the EO's sobs started to ebb away, he finally made a grand pronouncement and stopped his stream of tears, "They didn't let me go in the Scary House and that's why I'm sad!" Awwww! My poor baby! Soon enough, my child, soon enough!

4) I let the YO start off with some french fries and sauce. He was thrilled that we were allowing him to dip the fries into the sauce himself and chomp down on the golden-yellow potato public! Without a bib! But naturally the sauce ended up smeared on his face...covering the entire tip of his nose, spots on his cheeks and his chin! Together with his wide, happy smile, he was the perfect picture of a cute and cuddly clown! So, of course I had to get in on some of the ketchup action and give him a could I not?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Schooldays Are Finally Here...For the YO

Yesterday was the orientation day for parents at the YO’s sooner-than-you-can-sneeze-and-get-blessed, Montessori school. The place also happens to be the EO’s ex-school. The first ex in my young son’s life.

Sitting there, I felt many emotions running up and down my esophagus and buzzing around my eyeballs.

The first identifiable emotion was, of course, déjà vu. Was it really only just three short years ago, that I was sitting with other eager-faced and nervous parents, taking in my surroundings as well as every single word the EO’s future-teachers were telling me then? Alright, this time I felt more experienced and worldly-wise, after all, I had been-there-done-the-same-things…hence, the déjà vu. I had already heard the rules, been a part of the school, seen a son walk in a toddler and out a little boy.

Then there were the unmistakable twinges of guilt…they came hand-in-glove with the déjà vu. It was only three years ago that I, along with a bunch of other parents who had little babes-just-out-of-arms, was getting an orientation on how best to push my tiny tot out of parental shadow and into a future of ABC’s, 123’s, Do-Re-Mi’s and Mother Goose…and here I am getting ready to do it all over again. Were we rushing them through their childhood and shoving them towards independence too fast? What was wrong in having my beautiful little boy wrapped around my legs as I stood in the kitchen getting his milk ready? For just a while longer?

I felt many, many twinges of sadness. My youngest is ready to test his wings and fly out of the nest. My baby is growing up. Well and truly. He is ready to have a world of his own, away from home, away from me. He will now, at the tender age of 23-and-a-half months, have a life that will not include me. (Yes, that sniffling sound is coming from me.)

I also felt like a fossil. I was surrounded by young girls! A couple of them looked like teenagers! Having gotten married in my exact mid-twenties, producing two babies in my late-twenties and crossing a certain decade in my life to enter a new chapter in my living history, I felt old. Dinosaur-old, all dusty and fossilized. Most of the moms there were first-time moms. I am pretty sure I’d be encountering some pregnancies before the year was up…as was the case during the EO’s time. Seven us had gone ahead and opened up our manufacturing units again for the second time “Since the first one’s already in school and learning to be self-sufficient.” Yes, that was a popular refrain back in those days and I’m willing to bet good money that I’ll be hearing this popular ditty all over again. My only sorrow is that I won’t be the one singing it this time round!

So, anyways, I’m going back to school again. No, no, not in the way you think. The class has been split into three smaller batches, allowing the kids to get used to the whole experience and not get overwhelmed by big numbers. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I accompany the YO and sit with him in his class for an-hour-and-a-half. Then they’re on their own for half-an-hour a day from Thursday onwards until most of the little dudes and dudettes, across all three batches, have settled in reasonably well. This will most probably take a month, and there are many holidays to consider as well…Durga Puja and Diwali breaks. After that, once the teachers are satisfied…three hours a day, Monday to Friday.

Welcome to the other world, my little one. God bless you, my YO. May you spread your infectious smile to all who come in contact with you and win many hearts and friends. May you have fun and learn all the things I want you to learn…about the value of sharing and friendship, good manners and respecting your elders, table manners and getting down in the grass and rolling around.

Run with the wind against your face, dance with the trees, laugh till your tummy hurts, cry and get your rages out, calm down and embrace those who love you, learn to fight your own battles. I’ll be watching from the sidelines, with pride in my heart and tears in my eyes. I’ll be cheering you on and sending up fervent prayers for your safety and health.

I love you, my sweetheart. And I watch you with bated breath...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Birthday Blast...the Party

Here's an account of the party and one particular Mamma's emotional roller-coaster ride ...

The party was really a blast with almost full attendance although I must admit, that before it started, I had three big scares.
(1) When I arrived at the scene of the party, a restaurant names Comics, I found that it still wasn't ready and the MIM was looking hassled but trying to be patient. I nearly lost my cool! They had promised to hand over the place to us by a certain time and I land up 15 mins before the party is scheduled to start and see diners still eating there! And it seemed to me that they were taking a lot longer than they needed to! "Sure! Eat at a more leisurely pace, why don't you? You'll only have 30 pint sized hooligans climbing into your food like storm troopers, waiting to attack!" I mean, really! Didn't they see a beautiful, crest-fallen little boy and his his about-to-turn-into-Medusa Mamma waiting for a party to start? Had it not been for the MIM, I probably would have let off some steam that would have put the sizzlers to shame!
(2) The day started off sunny and bright and beautiful, but of course, just as we left for Comics, the heavens had to open up and it start to pour! I'm talking tigers and wolves, not your mingey-mangey cats and dogs. A friend helpfully sms-ed, "Looks like it might get waterlogged!" Thanks for that, I thought to myself, how comforting, how reassuring! But it was a worry! Such a worry! Some of the EO's friends were coming from really far and I knew there was no way they could make it for the party if it continued raining! I was ready to burst into tears at the thought of just a handful of people showing up for my baby's party. I can't even begin to tell you how much he had been looking forward to this day! Everyday without fail, for the past two months, and I do mean EVERY SINGLE DAY, he would ask me, "Today is my birthday?" So, finally the time had come and since the possibility of it turning from blast to bust loomed large, my heart started to a pouting lower lip. I didn't think I would be able to handle the EO's disappointment, I just wasn't strong enough! So what did I do? Since I couldn't take it out on anybody there, I did the next best thing...I had a serious, furious one-to-one with God! (Yeah! We're buddies, so I can do that!)
(3) To keep the little tyke occupied and to add a new perspective to the birthday party, I had organised a team colouring competition. I had asked the party planners to make 7-8 BIG Ben 10 and his friendly, alien, avatar cutouts, which groups of 3-4 would colour. I saw only one big sheet, with four not-big drawings, three of them Ben 10 in different poses! That was it! I lost it! Here, I knew I could create a scene and I called up the party planner and asked him politely but firmly, WTF?!? He gave me some half-baked explanation which just didn't cut it! It was obvious that this was a last minute effort by his artist and to make matters worse, it was so untidily done!

Well, it looked like the rains turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because it gave the party planning people (I want to abbreviate them to PPP, but I'm done talking about them!) time to set transform the place into a soon-to-be-madhouse-masquerading-as-a-birthday-party.

Shortly after 4.30, the first guest blog friend Monika, who kindly accepted my very last-minute invitation and whom I meeting for the very first time, along with her adorable and very well-behaved son, Ansh. Then the EO's two closest friends, A1 and A2. And after that, the guests came steadily trickling in and the party was soon rocking, rolling and rollicking!

There was a small ball pool, which I had organised for the tiny tots around the YO's age, but the big boys and girls loved doing the 'Cowabunga!' dive into the pool too. There was a mime show as well (since they've become jaded to the puppet show and magic show these days, I tell you!) The mime artist was friendly and very interactive and the kids had fun mimicking him.The colouring event got over all too quickly (as I had anticipated when I saw the half-hearted drawings in the first place), but the communal experience on one big sheet was a novelty for them and so they had fun...and I guess that's what matters!

At this point in time, the place could have passed off as party-time-in-the-monkey-enclosure-at-the-zoo! The noise! The kids! The fun!

Generation G (i.e. Grandparents, or GPs) walked in right about then as well. That's two sets of GPs, three Grandaunts and one Granduncle. I was waiting for them before cutting the cake. So we quickly had the 'Khoi Bag' ripped open (the Bengali version of the pinata)...two huge, thermacol Ben 10 cut outs, joined together by a sturdy bag in-between, stuffed with candies, colourful pencils, erasers, bouncy balls, miniature animals, dinky cars and other small toys for the kids to have fun collecting, but which they forget about once they've finished gorging on their loot of toffees.

The Ben 10 cake was gorgeous! A gooey, sinful, chocolate concoction with icing on top! We always get it made by a friend of a friend and she never disappoints!

After that, the food fest started. And Comics really delivered! In the veg section we had mini pizzas, penne pasta with tomato sauce and grilled paneer shashliks with butter rice. The non-veggies had assorted sandwiches, drums of heaven and chicken tetrazinni. After all that running around, stomping about and good-natured screaming at the tops of their voices, the kids had definitely worked up an appetite...and so had the mums and GPs, their nerves having been thoroughly frazzled by the jolly jamboree.

What was wonderful was that 95% of the invitees turned up! I gave God a mental double thumbs-up and sent up a heartload of grateful thanks. (See! I told you we were buddies!) Many of the kids who had come to the party were from the EO's class and this was the first time I was meeting most of the moms. I was beyond touched that they accepted my invitation, since I had basically stuffed the party invites (a picture of Ben 10 along with a poem) into their childrens' bags along with a letter of introduction.

After the last child had taken his return gift and the last mom had said 'We must stay in touch!', the EO, the MIM and I bundled ourselves into the car (I had already sent the YO home with his cousins, the BIL-ly Boy and SIL), tired, exhausted, fatigued, but tremendously, thoroughly and absolutely thrilled.

But more onslaught lay in store for me and my nerves at home -- the presents!

But, that's another story! Or shall I say post?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Happy 5th Birthday my Darling EO!

My darling EO,

Happy Birthday, my sweetheart, my jaan, my heart’s delight, my soul’s song. Happy Birthday my beloved first born.

One more year has passed since you came into my life and enriched it beyond every stretch of imagination. I still can’t believe sometimes that I was the lucky one, chosen, yes CHOSEN, by the Powers Upstairs, to be your mom. My great good fortune. My luck. My destiny. To be your mamma.

A smile from you lights up my insides, my world, my life and I know no greater feeling. And then you laugh with unrestrained joy and my heart melts into a happy pile of mush. That is the power, the sight of your smile and the sound of your laugh have over me.

The power your tears have over me is equally devastating. I either do my best to hold it together as I gather you in my arms and hug you close and once you’ve calmed down, I run off to the bathroom and start sobbing, or I start shouting at you to toughen up, because I’m at my wit’s end when I find you behaving like a cry baby over something that seems so trivial and inconsequential…and I hate myself for it afterwards. I tell myself I won’t do it again next time, but I fail miserably and end up hating myself even more.

Why my sweetheart? Why these tears? You are such an intelligent boy, so what is this stubbornness that makes you refuse to listen and understand when we patiently, softly and lovingly try to explain why you should/shouldn’t be behaving in the manner the situation of the moment demands? You start bawling, your obstinacy reaching unbelievable heights of inflexibility and your father and I lose it, wondering what we’re doing wrong. Later f course, we point fingers at each other, swearing you’ve inherited that particular strain of pig-headedness from the other. Personally, I think you’ve got it in double measure from both of us!

You are such a sensitive, caring child. I see it everyday in big ways and small. In the ways you worry yourself over your father’s comfort and mine. In the way you look out for your younger brother. In the way you look up to your cousin brother. In the way you look out for your classmates…rushing to their defense if they’ve done something naughty and your class teacher is about to give them a little lecture, entreating on their behalf not to scold them, and also squatting next to a hurt and crying buddy, wiping away his/her tears, offering words of comfort and a shoulder to lean on. Your class teacher in Nursery, Meghna Ma’am told me last year and your Prep teacher, Richa Ma’am confirms this.

Everyday, an expression, a gesture or something you say, will take my breath away…you wonderful, sensitive boy, you! And though there are times when I want to see you tougher, stronger, so that no one can take advantage of your vulnerability, tease you mercilessly and reduce you to a quivering pool of tears, there are times when I want you to stay exactly the way you are. We need kind, generous souls in the world…you are the reason that my faith in the innate goodness of humanity is still intact. I need your heart to beautify my world

Your love for music became more pronounced than ever. You’ve been going to the Calcutta School of Music conducted Junior Music class for exactly a year now. Three months ago, your music teacher told me that you were ready to ‘move on’. I looked at her rather stupidly; not really believing what she was telling me because CSM doesn’t admit students into their music classes unless they’re six years old…and you weren’t even five yet! And so I brought that little detail to her attention and she said that you were ‘musically mature’ to handle it! And she suggested the violin…no less! So, after the pujos, a-hunting we will go, for a pint-sized violin, for the perfect fit!

Thanks to the commute to and from school, we are glued to FM. You have picked up an amazing array of songs and can identify them from their opening notes. While you have some absolute favourites that haven’t changed in ages, each new song that you hear and fall in like with, becomes your ‘fravrit’ for the moment until the next one comes along. As of now your most loved list includes songs from Dhoom 2, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, Chak De India!, Bhool Bhulaiya, Om Shanti Om, Jodhaa Akbar, Thoda Pyaar aur Thoda Magic…amongst many, many others!

Your love for Tom & Jerry, the Transformers (esp. Optimus Prime) and Ben Ten has me in splits! Whenever you get together with your cousin and/or two closest friends A1 and A2…your little adventure games revolve around the capers of these comic creatures. Your story-games are delightful as well as tremendously imaginative. The way you root for Tom whenever he’s getting hassled, beaten or confounded by that little mouse has me shaking with quiet amusement! It reminds your Manuku of me when I was your age! It used to be one of my favourite cartoons at your age too! In fact, your Daduku enjoys watching it with you and the two of you laugh at their madcap antics! When you’re having a bad day and/or are sleepy, you then burst into tears at Jerry’s Machiavellian ministrations…promising all kinds of vengeance on the poor cat’s behalf, your little body shaking with anger! And when you watch Ben Ten and he’s turning into one of the aliens, esp. Four-Arms, you spring up from your seat and go through the moves, turning into the alien superhero yourself! And as for Optimus Prime, what can I say? You want to be Optimus Prime! Your fascination for him has become legendary, so much so, that A1 & A2’s mom as well as your Kakima bought you the same present. And then, yesterday, on your birthday, when your father and I took you out to buy your present, you stood transfixed in front of the OP display. We had a doozy of a time picking out a present for you; you had a big OP, your world was complete, you wanted nothing else!! Well, we finally bought you a movie you picked out…Jungle Book 2, a basketball hoop, a box of tattoos that you can colour and stick on and a Transformers 100 piece puzzle. We know it’ll be a while before you pay any of these presents attention since your ‘dhyaan’ and ‘gyaan’ rest solely on OP now! Does it worry me? Well, initially it did, but now that I know you understand that these are only cartoon characters and not real, I sit back and take delight in your delight. It's cute. It's sweet. It's you.

You are five years old now. ‘They’ say that you’ve officially lost your God-connection. The rules that apply to the rest of us, now apply to you. You are now old enough to do ‘pronaam’ to your elders, you can get a ‘janam kundali’ made, and etc. etc. If God whispers to you, you won’t be able to hear. Humph! Your eyes and heart tell me otherwise my son…you will always be blessed with the God-connect my little love! If anything my precious child, you have strengthened my connection with/to God more than ever. Thank you!

This past one year, you’ve gone through six career changes…chef, Optimus Prime, Kung Fu Panda, Four-Arms, your dad and Shah Rukh Khan!

This past one year, you’ve graduated from a white belt to a yellow belt in karate. And now you seem happy there. Orange doesn’t seem to appeal to you!

This past year, you've taken to sleeping with your favourite toys. You slept with OP throughout last night. And it was clutched tightly in your hand as we transferred you from your cousin's rom to your room after your aunt's birthday party got over, even though you were fast asleep!

This past one year, you fell in love with Krishna. You want to hear his stories all the time. You want to help your Manuku dress up the litle Gopala she keeps in her puja room. You want a yellow, silk dhoti, a flute and a peacock feather just like him. You are my little natkhat Nandlala!

This past one year, you transformed from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in your Nursery class play to Sleeping Beauty’s Handsome Prince in your Prep class play.

This past one year, you have enriched my life’s meaning even more. You have deepened my faith in good and God. You have made me love you even more.

God bless you my darling boy!
My 'big' boy! My five-year old boy!
I will love you forever and beyond!

Your Mamma

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Birthday Party Countdown

Date : September 13th, 2008 (the day before the EO's 5th birthday)
Event : The birthday party
Theme : Ben 10
Venue : Comics, a restaurant
Guest List : 32 kids with moms, some dads, a few ayahs, a Kaku and Kakima, 2 sets of grandparents, 2 grandaunts and 1 granduncle
M4's state of mind : fragile...very, very fragile

Yes, we'll be leaving shortly for the big hullaballo. I am running around like a headless Mamma with no hands, desperately trying to save every last shred of sanity that is systematically being eroded from my system. After this afternoonish/eveningish party, there's a late night party at home to bring in the SIL's birthday (yes, she and the EO share a birthdate! Thought it would be cute then, now not so sure!!)

Will post about the events if my sanity remains intact!

And now as the Rabbit in Wonderland famously sang..."I'm late! I'm late!"

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Little Pleasures : II

~ Watching your school-going imp kick off his shoes and make himself comfy in the car, stretched out like a prince in the backseat; head on your lap and feet on grandpa's lap.

~Having your little imp scramble from the front seat to the back so that he can sit on your lap.

~Having both of them fight for their territory on Fat Ma's Lap, (not unlike Noone's Land, except that I am not 'Noone' but yes, the area of my lap could host a small country, or township at the very least!)

~Watching them grudgingly and silently reach an MoU over their territorial rights -- "This thigh is your thigh, this thigh is my thigh..."

~Watching the elder son suddenly jump up at the first few bars of a favourite song and noting with warmth and amusement how the younger boy reaches out for his dada to pull him down so that his big brother's head can rest on HIS tiny, adorable lap! Then not missing the manner in which a little arm is thrown over the elder brother's chest in a gesture that is as casual as it is protective.

~Noting with satisfaction and joy that the sky is baby blue, the clouds are huge and fluffy, the trees are dappled with sunlight and that your entire world is safely ensconced in the seat of your lap!
~Having your little one make his way to you from across the room with twinkling eyes and knowing smile as he plonks himself next to you and demands that you play "bom bom boyey!" (bum bum bole)

~Hear your elder love's voice pipe up and vehemently demand "Mitwa!"

~Watching the heated and furious argument take place as the names of these two songs are shuttled back and forth. "Mitwa!", "No! Bom bom boyey!", "No! MITWA!", "NOOOOOO! BOM BOM!"

~Helping them reach a settlement before you grow deaf and watching them with unmasked joy as they take delight in the songs of their choice.

~Suddenly feeling your arm being tugged at by a small but very determined little hand that belongs to your younger love. Allowing him to pull you into the wide kitchen space for a "Dancey?"

~Watching your little one dance with unbridled joy and passion and totally following his lead...not caring who watches!

The 'Great' School Debate

The MIM's alma mater's admission process is slated to start soon and the whole world, his wife, second cousin once removed and her transsexual neighbour are all waiting with bated breath to see what I do.

Sigh. I still don't know, but I just might go MIA for a while and take a nice, relaxing break in a mental asylum somewhere. Any suggestions?

My dilemma, you ask? Let me begin from ABC...that's where Maria-before-she-was-von-Trapp would have started.

When the Bro and I moved to Beantown from the US of A, we both went to different schools. They were both new. In fact, coincidentally, we both happened to be the third batch to pass out from our respective schools. Now, Beantown was an absolutely new palce for Maa-Janoni and she didn't know any better. She relied on the research done willingly and helpfully by my Choto Mesho. As we got to know people, and after introductions were exchanged and people found out which schools the Bro and I studied in, the reactions would either be (a) "Huh? Never heard of it!", or (b) "Why?!? Why not try for an RST or an FGH or an XYZ? I'm sure your children still have a chance!" The RST, FGH and XYZ being the 'old', established, century old, once-upon-a-time British institutions that wouldn't have allowed brown-skinned kids like us to walk in through the front gate. Maa-Janoni stuck to her guns and now she has the last laugh as both these schools are two of the most sought-after in good ol' B'lore now. I then went on to study in one of those stuffy, ex-Anglo-now-CSI-run schools, simply because I wanted the experience. There are pros and cons to be said for both. And I know first hand.

But the thing is, because my mum trusted her judgement and let us continue where we were, did the Bro and I turn out the worse for wear? If anything, I think the Bro and I got a superb education. One of the biggest things a new school has going for it is that it tries harder. They are more sincere, use newly researched methodolgy where education is concerned, pay individual attention to the students and there always seems to be a sense of brightness and purpose radiating from the walls.

And now, years down the path, I am the one faced with the same dilemma that Maa-Janoni was faced with all those many, many, oh-too-very-many moons ago. The MIM's ex (as in school people! I mean really! ;p) or the present school where the EO already studies?

The new school has so many things going for it, brightness and spanking new walls aside ;p ...the biggest being that the EO is well-settled and just loves it! I quite love it myself, even though it's not 100% perfect, but 94% ain't bad, right? So do I take him out, put him through the trauma of settling in all over again and risk the fact that he just might hate it there?

But what if he eventually falls in love with it? Do I let him miss out on the prestige of being a part of a pedigreed, heritage school? Many in-laws and Kolkata-born-bred-raised-and-mated friends look at me as if there's even a choice in the matter. For many Calcuttans, as far as schools and schools of thought and go -- Old is Gold.

And so, the great debate rages on. I had round number 584 with a friend yesterday, and an early morning bout with His Majesty, the FIL.

I think it's safe to say that I'm almost brow-beaten to within 15 inches of my life. And forms haven't even been issued yet...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Of Facial Hair and it's Implications

7:05 am, Wednesday morning. Have successfully made the EO, who is running very late, finish the last drop of milk and shooed him off to the bathroom to er, um 'download' shall we say and then take a bath.

As I am furiously scrambling around the kitchen, wondering what to stuff his tiffin-box with, I hear a hight-pitched voice announcing to his grandmamma, who happens to be in the kitchen, by the way: "Aami boro hoye shave korbo!" (I will shave when I grow up!)
Maa-Janoni and I, together : Kiiiiii???? (What????)
EO : Aami boro hoyey aamaar muckhta shave korbo, bectopaas diyey. (When I grow up, I will shave my face using bectopass.)
Maa-Janoni and I rush to the bathroom where the EO is sitting on the 'throne' from where he is making his grand proclamations. I ask him again what he said. He kindly repeats for this obviously dumb fool of a woman. So then I ask, innocently, "Bectopaas?"
EO: Hein, bectopaas. Jerokom ad-ey dekhai, TV-te. (Yes, bectopaas. Like they show in the ads on TV.)
Me : Ooooooohhhhhhh!
EO : Ok mamma? Aami jokhon boro hobo? (Alright with you mamma? Once I grow big?)

Me (to myself) : Why so fast, my love? Why this hurry? Why so fast? Why?

Side note: Yes, yes! I so did know that he meant 'Vector Plus shaving stick' all along. I made him repeat it because I thought it was just too darned cute!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Attn: Brain Shutdown in 3...2...1

The Times of India, Kolkata
Monday, September 8, 2008

Thinking Too Much Can Make You Fat
“Intellectual work causes fluctuations in glucose levels, making the body crave food to restore brain’s fuel : glucose. Brain cells need twice as much energy as other cells in the body.”

Really? I mean, REALLY?

As if I didn’t have enough on my plate already (quite literally, I assure you!), they now want me to worry about how much I think?!? No wait, that would be tantamount to thinking right? After all, worrying is a kind of pensive thinking.

So now, when I sit down to write my blog or perfect a poem or just plain old try and choose between Maggie, Sunfeast Pasta or cucumber sandwich for the EO’s tiffin, I am in essence, putting on weight?

This is too much for my poor brain to process right now. Oh geez! I guess I shouldn’t even be trying to!

Maybe that’s what ‘They’ want. The nameless, faceless, working-in-secret-laboratories-and-dungeons-thinking-up-ways-to-destroy-the-world ‘They’ and not the-Ones-who-reside-in-the-heavens-and-Laugh-at-humanity’s-idiosyncrasies ‘They’. So, maybe They want us to believe this new piece of scientific research and have our brains process it, think about it, mull over it thus growing fat and lazy and unproductive in the bargain, and ultimately dropping off the face of the Earth as gravity gives way to brain-fat. Wow! There’s a conspiracy theory for you! Ok, maybe the gravity vs. the brain-fat bit is a bit much, but we could die of other weight-related complications and diseases. Think about it! Oops! No, no! I don’t want to fatten you up for the kill!

Whew! I’m going to have to watch what I think and consequently say now!

Maybe we didn’t record what Descartes said properly all those many years ago. Maybe the now oh-so-famous and oft-quoted, oft-rehashed and oft-reworked line, “I think, therefore I am” really isn’t that at all. Maybe it’s actually “I think, therefore I’m fat!”

Hey wait. This might actually be a good thing. I'm serious! This latest bit of scientific info certainly does explain a lot and I'm also pretty sure that we could put it to good use. After all, now that it's out there, we might as well benefit from it! 'Let (us) count the ways...'

~ This could be the new watchword for Weight-Watcher’s Anonymous, “I’m not fat, I’m smart!”

~ I can now eat chocolates guilt-free. Because that’s not what I have to stress over anymore.

~ In fact, if I pack on the pounds, I can actually blame my brain and not my insatiable love for chocolates, hot buttered popcorn and nachos with garlic-mayo dip.

~ If somebody makes a snarky remark about my weight I can get all superior and say, “That’s because I am so much smarter than you!”

~ If you ask me for my opinion on the Singur matter and I just don’t feel like giving it to you, I can truthfully say, “Sorry I don’t feel like thinking about it. I’m watching my weight.”

~ Given a choice, I guess I would so much rather watch what I think than what I eat!

~ This gives new insight regarding the vacant expressions on catwalk models.

~ A little knowledge is no longer a dangerous thing. In fact, quite the contrary! Too much education could kill you!

Yes! This piece of information could actually be a good thing after all.

I don’t know anymore really. I’m watching what I think!

What do you think? ;p

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Out of the Mouths of Babes : III

Being a Sunday, the man welcomes the opportunity to laze in bed. His son, thrilled to have his beloved father home, hops, skips and jumps over to him. He puts his elbows on his father's chest and leans on him, looking adoringly into his eyes. The father gets an important education about the son's favourite boy-super hero, Ben 10. Lesson over, boy turns around to go. Father playfully whacks him on the bum. The little boy puts his hands on his adorable butt cheeks and laughingly, yet dramatically, runs round and round the room in circles, saying, "Oooh! Oooh! My bum's on fire! My bum's on fire!"

When the tornado finally comes to a halt, father and son collapse in a fit of giggles!

Aah! Sundays!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Ravishing (?) Ravs

So many worthy and justifiable posts happening about the guys that 'rock'...namely Farhan Akhtar and Arjun Rampal. Yes, they're on my sweet-dish too; caramel coated, chocolate covered and rolled about in roasted almonds. Along with some other delectable pieces, like Johnny Depp and Hritik Roshan. A connoisseur's delight! (You hear a funny noise, you say? Oh! That's just me smacking my lips in true vixen style!)
Anyway, the Man I Married has been watching me express my not-so-subtle interest in all the man candy with emotions ranging from disdain to derision, from to HAHAHOHOHEHE to hohum. The smiles on his face have essayed many roles too. Let's see...there's been the Snotty Sneer, the Sardonic Grin, the Stupid Smirk and, oh yes, the Grumpy Grimace. Sometimes, Sarcastic Snorts and Mocking Laughter make an appearance, but only if my declarations of unbridled ardour seem especially outrageous to the MIM.

All these various smiles and guffaws have made their appearance in our marital existence and played their part really well, ever since I let slip to the MIM that Johnny Depp and I were spiritual soulmates in another lifetime. I think I also may have mentioned the fact that in another birth, I was Hritik Roshan dancing muse.

Yes, I have also had opportunity to mock, grin and sneer in all these years of wedlock as well. A certain someone by the name of Raveena Tandon has been the object of devoted affection for my husband. But ever since she's fallen off the map of Bollywood, my samples of jests, jokes and jibes have been gathering dust amongst a pile of other unused or dormant feelings and expressions.

I had resigned myself to this fact since it seemed like it would be a while before anybody else could ever be spectacular enough for my sweetie, when two nights ago, we were watching a news channel and suddenly, there she was! The Raveena herself, looking rather remarkable and quite living up to her moniker of Ravishing Ravs.

Immediately, the MIM's back straigtened, his eyes unglazed themselves ("All the better to ogle her with Grandmaa!") and his hand went up to his head to straighten his the remote chance that she had somehow acquired bionic vision that would enable her to zoom through the satellitosphere and settle on this ardent suitor of hers, clad in tattered tee and shabby shorts, but hair firmly in place. Who knows, maybe that one little detail, the not-a-hair-out-of-place-even-though-it's-time-for-bed detail, might be the deal-clincher in the MIM's favour. And a smile that hadn't seen the light of TV glare and felt the evening stubble of the MIM's facial landscape in eons, suddenly made its appearance...the Drooly Doggy Style, oops! I mean Smile...hehehe!

I felt the beginnings of Snotty Sneer twist the corners of my mouth. As the interview progressed, the Sneer, long unpractised yet not forgotten and therefore comfortably familiar, settled itself happily on my face. But soon, the Sneer made way for Open-Mouthed Outrage. I glanced over at hubby and noticed that the Drooly Doggy Smile had become a Perplexed Pucker.

She was so mean! No, no! Mean is nice, compared to how she was behaving! She was rude, condescending, loud (as in volume-wise) and down-right nasty! The journalist (I don't know who it was, she was off camera and I didn't catch her name), asked her a series of questions (silly questions, I admit) of the "Who is an over-rated actor?" kind, in rapid fire style. She answered all of them, but her attitude was obnoxious!

And from the baffled look in the MIM's eyes, I could tell he thought so too. I even said as much.

Ever the loyal admirer, he rose to vociferously yet ineffectually defend her.

I welcomed the Sardonic Grin on my face and noted that she had brought Gusty Guffaw along with her for the sheer pleasure of mocking the besotted, bespectacled, boyishly-behaving MIM!

I love it when tables turn, whirl and salsa!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Bad Mummas Anonymous

She was new. You could tell. She sat amongst the ring of women looking scared and teary-eyed. She caught a couple of women trying to catch her eye and when they saw her looking at them, they gave her a sympathetic smile. Could they hear her heart playing drum riff too? Why couldn't it calm down and stop knocking against her ribs? At this rate, a few were bound to break!

Finally, it started. A kind-looking, grandmotherly woman stood up and said, "Welcome to our September meeting. We have a new sister amonst us and let's all give her some encouragement. Stand up M4, and tell us your story."

The woman gulped a few times before finally standing up on wobbly legs. She took a deep breath. She was here, wasn't she? She had confronted her inner demons and now it was time to face her fears. She looked up. The circle of women all looked at her expectantly, kindly, non-judgementally. Most of them were either in their late-twenties or early-thirties and she recognised the similar looks of pain, etched against their mouths, the looks of guilt and remorse lined about their eyes. There were some slighly older women there, who looked more relaxed and content with themselves. Maybe they had all completed the program and had learnt to forgive themselves, but they still attended the meetings to keep their faith and cool intact while keeping the guilt at bay. Then they were at a place in their lives and minds, where she wanted to be. And she knew the first step towards that was to open up. She knew she had to get it off her chest, so she started.

" Hhh--elll-lllo", she stammered to a start. My name is Mamma Mia Me A Mamma. M4."

"Hello M4", the group welcomed her.

She took a fresh gulp of air which nearly choked her as it collided with the words that came tumbling out..."And I'm a Bad Mumma. I neglect my second son so that I can spend time with my first!" And she looked at her wacky, purplish-painted toe nails. The colour made her think of a bruised heart and two soulful eyes belonging to a curly-haired imp. The reason she was here.

She was waiting for the rotten eggs, putrid tomatoes and smelly shoes, or some boos and name-calling at least. Nothing, She looked at the gathering through lowered lashes. Everyone was nodding sympathetically, knowingly. Ok. So she could get through this after all.

" Yesterday, I decided to take my elder son out for an afternoon movie, the new one that had been released last Friday, WALL-E. I normally take him on Saturdays, but we all had plans that day, so we couldn't go then." She realised she was garbling, but she knew she had to get the words out. "Well, a friend of mine and I hadn't met in a long time and I hadn't seen her new baby in ages. In fact, I saw him once, when he had just come home from the hospital and that was over three months ago, so she invited us over for lunch, saying that it had been ages! I agreed and asked her whether she and her elder son would like to go for the movie with us after lunch. She readily agreed. I was really happy! I love going for movies, especially with friends and family and most of all with my son. Tthe happiness on his face is indescribable. The best part was, that when he left for school, I didn't tell him our plans for the day. It was all going to be a surprise. And I had this big goofy grin on my face thinking about the big goofy grin that would soon be on his face when we would pull up in front of his friend's house just a couple of hours later! Then I suddenly realised. I would be away from home from 11a.m. to 7 in the evening!! Eight hours! Away from, aawwway fffrom, frommmm..." She couldn't continue. She felt the tears start to flood her eyes and voice. She noticed some of the women had their eyes closes at memories of their own. Some were dabbing the corners of their eyes with their hankies. Some were looking fixedly at their twiddling fingers.

The kind looking woman who had asked her to share her pain, gave her some gentle encouragement. "It's ok. You can do it. You can say it. Go on now dear. We all know and understand'

"My, mmmy second-born!!", she wailed. "And he didn't even understand. My baby loves to go out! He looks forward to it the whole day! But I couldn't take him for a movie. He's not old enough yet. But still, that didn't stop his mamma from making plans that were going to keep her and his elder brother away from him for virtually the entire day. He just followed her around with his happy face all morning, dancing, being cute, repeating new words and phrases. Just being adorable and loving...the way he naturally is. When it was time for me to leave he sweetly asked me, "Mamma, dada ante jacho?", which means, 'Mamma, are going to fetch dada (back home...not said, but implied)'. I said yes, picked him up for a quick cuddle and kiss and left. His endless stream of 'Bye Mammas' followed me all the way down the lift. As the car pulled out of the garage, I looked up at the balcony and what should I see, but my little one with his face pressed against the grills and turned slightly upwards so that he could fit hit chin and nope through the gap, his little hands clutching onto a grill on either side of him. His eyes were following the precise movements of the car. I rolled down a window and started yelling my head off, 'Bye baby! My sweetheart! I love you! Byyyyyyyyyeeeeeeeee!' Nothing. No bye, no wave, no flying kiss. He just looked at me soulfully, like a monkey put in a cage at the zoo. And just as the car was about to disappear...I noticed that a little hand went up...and waved!"

And remembering the image from the day before, she started sobbing as if her heart would break!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Showing-Off the Blues...

So after the MIM and walked into my Ma-Janoni's place (yes, we're still here and the carpenters are still there!), he went to kiss our sleeping muppets, and then he unpacked, changed and we sat down for some unwind time in front of the TV. My parents left us alone so that we could chat and catch up.

The MIM and I always 'watch' TV together at night. I usually have my laptop open and he surfs mindlessly from channel to channel searching for something to hold his attention. It's his way of destressing, so I don't interfere much.

Anyway, last night, I decided to keep the laptop shut and concentrate on my sweetie instead. I sat down next to him, got comfortable, put my feet up on the coffee table, did some foot rotation and wiggled my toes. Then I sighed. Loudly.

No reaction.

So I cleared my throat. Loudly.

Still nothing.

I coughed. Loudly.

Zip! Zilch! Nada!

So I put snuggled up next to him and he absent-mindedly patted me on the head, without breaking his zombiefied eye-contact with the TV set.

Finally, I had to say it, "You haven't noticed my wild and wacky toe-polish, have you? It's sparkly, witch blue, for cying out loud, how could you not notice?"

The MIM had the grace to look sheepish, but then when he actually saw the colour, he looked horrified!

Ahh, men!

From Burping to 'Shararat-karo'ing

Have you seen the new Tata Sky ad? The one with Aamir Khan in it? Where he's got this ardhnari-maanav thing going on.

Now, I love Aamir Khan. He's one of my all time favourite actors. He's my Tom Hanks of Bollywod. 'Lagaan', 'Dil Chahta Hai' and 'Taare Zameen Par' are cinematic delights. 'QSQT' caused my heart to skip a beat or two, even 'Mangal Pandey' was paisa vasool.

However, my all-time favourite Aamir Khan oeuvres are his Coke ads...the ones where he puts on the skin of different Indian stereotypes and entices us to guzzle my favourite black bubbly. I love them all so much, I wish they would air again and never be taken off! He got them all so spot-on and each one was hilarious! My personal fave? Oh, undoubtedly the Nepali tour guide! Perfection indeed!

And then of course he burped. On TV. As a server on a train who doesn't miss an opporunity to swig back some Coco-Cola during a 2 second sojourn through a dark idea many other passengers also seem to have had. Now, logic defies how so people can lap up a quarter bottle of a cold drink in two seconds without their hands oing the bumpity-bump in the dark. But this is TV land and we all do tend to suspend our disbelief. Now, who could the Coke-chor be? Twenty odd burps from Indians of various communities, backgrounds and creeds are supposed to give us the answer to that one. There's supposed to be a nationalistic message hiding behind all the collective burping somewhere. Apparently, no matter which part of the country we're from and on which rung of the social ladder we belong too, we all steal a sip of Coke in the dark and we think nothing of holding a burp fest in a train compartment!

And so he burped! On TV.

And now this. A half-man, half-woman Punju concoction fighting over Tata Sky. Where he makes out with himself.

Please AK...stick to the movies, or at least get better ads created for you!

To the Airport and Back

Yesterday, the Man I Married came back home after a five-days-four-nights trip to Bombay. He's been away quite a bit. The weekend before, he was in Puri and then too, it was for five-and-four. So that means, we only really got him last week for two whole days, Wednesday and Thursday. Actually, cancel that. His office got him for two whole days, while the rest of us for a few hours pre and post snooze time.

The MIM doesn't travel much. In fact, he doesn't travel at all. Maybe a day-trip every now and then where he's back by nightfall, but believe me, even those are few and far between. There are times I actually wish the MIM had business trips taking him away for a couple of days a month!

Anyway, after ages, and I literally mean ages, like three years or thereabouts, I had the opportunity to go alone to the airport to pick-up my man. And it was wonderful! The hour-long drive to the airport at night was lovely. I have always had this thing for night-drives...goes way back to my childhood. I love watching the twinkling lights of a big city. I may suddenly focus on a single light coming from an apartment somewhere and I am suddenly filled with this curious desire to know about the family that lives there; how many people there are, who does what for a living, their names, their joys, their sorrows... I know I'm strange at times, but I do wonder! How great it must be to be a God or Goddess and just know. To know everything and everyone. They have the Third Eye, probably a super-powerful, high-magnifying, ultra-modern, ultra-everything telescope, Infinite Wisdom and I'm pretty sure that They don't need Google Earth.

So as I was saying, the journey to the airport was one of the best kinds possible...relaxing and full of whimsy. Stray thoughts sauntered into my head and stayed for a while, before flying out through an eardrum and making way for others to whirl about.

I got to the airport with 25 minutes to spare, so I bought myself a ticket to go and sit in the arrivals lounge. With a steaming, hot, wonderfully aromatic elaichi chai from the Nescafe booth in one hand and Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan's "You Are Here" in the other, I made myself comfortable and looked forward to delving into the whines and epiphanies of 25 year-old Arshi. Except I found that I couldn't concentrate on the book. After reading the same three words for the fiftieth time, I decided to shut the book and let my gaze and attention wander instead. I looked at the faces of those waiting for their loved ones, their expressions and I wondered about the thoughts lurking about in their heads. I looked at this adorable brother-sister duo munching away on their chips and my heart flew to my EO and YO, so I made a quick call to Ma-Janoni to find out if the EO was asleep yet and whether the YO had had his dinner yet. After two affirmatives, I went back to my idle sport of people-watching. A striking-looking mother and her attractive late-teens-early-twenties daughter came and sat down right next to me. The daughter bit into a crusty, warm patty and the aroma seemed to invade my nostrils and trickle down to the pit of my stomach. Probably not the yummiest thing in the world and very frankly, not my favourite thing to eat either, but at that point in time, it smelled down-right delicious. I can happily say that I did not cave into temptation and get myself one. Oooh I am proud of my will-power!

I then saw the announcement board flash the green lights next to MIM's flight number and the letters quickly swiched from 'EXPECTED' to 'ARRIVED'. I waited for five minutes, got up and walked over to the steel 'fence' separating the passengers from their families. A not-very-young-but-definitely-not-old woman walked up to her husband?/boyfriend?/lover? who fondly told her that he couldn't recognise her because she looked like a teenager. I glanced over at her face and it was a joy to behold! I then turned my attention towards the stream of passengers heading my way, searching for one special person in particular. And then I saw him at exactly the same moment his eyes spotted me. He our gaze met, held and we smiled. I actually forgot to breathe for some time, because he was looking so handsome. Then he came closer and I say that he was also looking very, very tired.

But his smile said it all. Not that he was glad to be back in his beloved Calcutta. Not that he had missed his babies more than words could express. Not that he was looking forward to meeting his parents and brother after his trip. All that went without saying. But right then, at that moment, his smile was for me and me alone and it said that he was happy to see me there, waiting for him with a similar smile on my face.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Of Bookworms and Bookshops

Do you know where I love hanging out most in the world? (Oh alright! Besides snuggled between my two munchkins of course!) Bookshops!

They are my most favourite places in the whole wide world! No shop can ever be too big, or too small for me. I’ll elaborate on this point a bit later.

First of all, the why. And there are many becauses. The waiting-to-be-inhaled, soul filling, smell of books. The fragrance of ink, printing press and triumphant-joy emanating from a freshly published book. The brilliant mish-mash of colours. The unusual, sometimes beautiful and sometimes strange, titles that seem to call out to you with their different voices. The always-tempting blurbs that make you want to find an empty snatch of floor-space so that you can tuck your legs under you and start reading then and there. The satisfying feeling that you are in good-company…fellow readers, word lovers, spirits of dead authors, thoughts of the new ones, all right there, swirling around you.

When I am in such august company I experience either of two, distinct feelings. Either I am overwhelmed by the talent and genius that I am surrounded by, drowning in, gasping at and feel small and insignificant; or I am inspired enough to try my hand at it and I want to grab the opportunity, start searching the very core of me so that I may spill my guts and bleed my soul and write something of fantastic, take-your-breath-away proportions and I want to do it there and then!

But of course I can’t, I don’t. I come home and do either one of two things. I either start feeling stupid and silly at all my grandiose notions and so I shake my head, a little sadly, a little self-deprecatingly; or I sit down and reach for my notebook and start to churn out feeble poems which should never see the light of day!

Occasionally, when I do manage to write something that I would be more than proud to take credit of, I feel like showing off a bit. I do a little jig and I want to read it out immediately to someone. That feeling soon passes when I realize that there’s nobody I can call who cares enough, or is interested enough in poetry, to listen. So I switch that feeling off, and reread my newest poem for my hopefully sometime-to-be-published collection of poems.

Which brings me back to bookstores. I love to hang out in the poetry section, the children’s fiction section (the mythology segment especially) and amongst the Indian writing in English. Shows you my tastes, huh? Yes, it runs from the lyrical to the juvenile to the phantasmagorical to the happening. I spend time going through cookbooks, sometimes salivating and often storing a tip away in the corner of my mind. I leaf through the classics that I haven’t yet read but promised to myself that I will…eventually.

Yes, I’m a happy person in a bookstore. A free spirit in her element. It’s like a pub for me, where I can drown my sorrows in a tome of Eliot, or at least chuckle them away while admiring the whimsical drawings of Beatrix Potter.

In Bangalore, I used to love walking down M.G. Road, just so that I could pop into Gangaram’s…three floors of book-happy bliss! Another favourite was this tiny little shop, tucked away between other shops, looking dusty and innocuous, but full of precious treasures and an owner who knew just where to find what; Premier Book Shop. Soon opened Strand in Manipal Centre, and I loved the openness of the shop as mush as the openness of the always-there smile on the owner’s face. I left Bangalore before Crosswords opened on Residency Road and Landmark in Forum. Of course I visited both places and came back on full high.

Here in Calcutta, I was first introduced to Oxford, on Park Street and it still happens to by my favourite in the city. I used to go to Crosswords on Elgin Road but the staff there is rude, uninformed and unfriendly…yanking away from the whole experience and I so hate leaving a bookshop sad and disgruntled. The first Landmark, now of course renamed Starmark, is in Emami Building on Lord Sinha Road and it still rocks! I sort of feel lost there…but in a very, very satisfying and not-at-all frightening way. And the latest Starmark to open in South City Mall has the pleasure of my company at least twice a week. I just walk amongst the books as if they’re all my own, dear friends. There’s a new gigantic bookstore that’s opened recently, on Prince Anwar Shah Road, very near South City, and it’s called Odyssey…and I’m sure that’s what awaits me there! It’s big and huge and is calling out to me whenever I pass by. I’ve just managed a very quick stopover and I can truly say, I’m impressed!

So, now you know some of my favourite hangouts. What about yours?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Five Years Ago, Today

Exacly five years ago, today, I was still pregnant with my about-to-be first-born. I was nearing the end of my pregnancy and growing more and more excited with every passing minute. I just couldn't wait any longer to meet the little person that I had been growing, nurturing and sheltering like a tender sapling, a precious dream.

I was big (duh!!), but I was glowing! I could see it myself! Hormones, excitement, nervousness. Hmph! That wasn't it! I was surrounded by a halo of love and I could feel it's warmth seeping into my very bones, making me luminescent and radiant. In my adulthood, if I have ever been close to being, feeling, sacred and pure, it has to be without any doubts, during the last few weeks of pregnancy just before the birth and immediately after.

Five years ago! Really? That long? Sometimes it seems like yesterday. At other, more frightening times, it seems like another lifetime ago! How mind-shatteringly terrifying that feeling is! I don't want to forget! I don't want it to be so long ago, over and done with! I still want to bask in its aftermath, its glow, its essence.

Five years ago. Already.

Why so soon?