The blurb ob by blob...

My photo
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!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month (CSAAM) - April 2011

There are monsters who walk amongst us. They prey upon the innocence of our children. They destroy their very childhood.

How can we make sure that they are not allowed to damage our children?

We can speak up about it. We can share stories and traumas. We can educate ourselves and in turn empower our children.

We can try.

Many of my blogger friends and I, have designated April as Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month.

If you would like to add your voice, or if you know somebody who would like to, please do any of the following:

b. posted as FB notes and linked to the FB page OR
c. posted on your own blog with the badge and "CSAAM April 2011" in the heading and linked to the main blog OR
d. linked or posted on Twitter tagged OR
e. sent via some/all of the above methods

Some topics are suggested here. Anonymous contributions are accepted and requests for anonymity will of course be honoured.

You can also show your support by displaying our logo on your website.

Please do support this initiative. Because unfortunately, monsters do not exist in fairy tales alone.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Just One of Those Days

It was already turning out to be one of those days.
At 8.30 in the morning!

Meltdowns should really come scheduled and never so early in the morning...or in a public space...or when one was headed out...or before bedtime...or ever, really!

The little boy stood his ground, engaging his mother in a staring match. He was a little bull. But she was his mother after all. He could have been a big, raging bull on a rampage, but that wouldn't change the fact that she was big mamma. Her bovinity trumped his bullishness any day!

The four-year-old mite had an opinion on everything and strong ones at that; be it clothes, food, toys and even TV shows, he had a strong set of likes and dislikes. Today, he wanted to take his other bag to school; the yellow one. It wasn't even his, literally speaking; it was a hand-me-down from his elder brother, that's why when he'd started school, Mamma wanted him to have a new one. But this morning, the little boy had decided that he'd been carrying Mon. Lightening McQueen for long enough, and it was now Master Mickey Mouse's turn. Plus, it was a bright, sunshiney, yellow -- his most favourite colour of all! Didn't his Mamma get that?

His Mamma lovingly pointed out that the chain was broken and needed to be fixed. If he took that, his water bottle, tiffin box and napkin would all fall out. Didn't her little boy get that?

When he continued to stand his ground, she tried a different track -- all his friends would laugh at him. Nope, that didn't seem to dint his innate sense of self-confidence either. "So what?" his eyes challenged her. "You're not taking it!", she glared back.

Sigh! Terrible Twos and Threes is what anybody ever talked or wrote about. They were absolutely no bloody match for the Furious Fours!!

By this time, the night ayah and the day ayah decided to join in Operation Logical Might. The morning didi showed him over and over again that the chain just wasn't working. He got that, but he didn't care. The night didi said she would take it home with her now, get it fixed and bring it back with her that very evening. But he wanted to take it to school NOW! He looked at these three women, perplexed and a little angry, didn't they understand anything??

Finally, Mamma's patience, having been stretched to it's very possible end, snapped and she gave him his marching orders. He was to put on his Lightening McQueen schoolbag, march down the steps, go give his Baba a kissie and leave for school; with a smile if possible, if not, well then just leave anyway.

He marched down the steps. Sobbing his little heart out. If there was one person in the whole world who would melt at his sobs and shivers, it was his darling dad; a man he had so tightly wound around his little finger that all he had to do was raise his wail to a C sharp and it would transform his father into a snarling, growling beast ready to mow down anyone who had dared do his precious cub wrong.

Papa Lion immediately roared for Mamma Lion and she came down, pinned Papa Lion with a glare and explained the situation, then she wearily sat down at the breakfast table and picked up a newspaper, hoping that the headlines would be less frustrating than the battle royale being played out on her domestic front.

The little boy waited for daddy darling to order someone to go and get the bag from upstairs, but this time, even daddy darling spoke the language of the three thick-headed women. That same old spiel about the chain not working. He wailed harder, but daddy didn't budge; instead, he grew more firm and fixed him with a I-know-better-than-you-so-stop-crying look.

By now, his grandmother, who was sitting and having breakfast and watching the entire drama unfold, finally went to pieces and gathered her cherished cherub to her breast and tried to calm him down. With soothing words and dulcet tones, she also tried to make him see reason. From the safe haven of his grandmother's arm, the little brat continued to give his mother the stink eye. Next, the chacha came out of his room, picked up the little boy and tried to distract him with hugs, cuddles and kisses.

The night ayah came downstairs to say 'bye' to the brat and she even showed him the plastic bag in which she was carrying the offending piece that had generated so much heat, tears and tantrums, with the promise that it was going to come back all fixed and in working condition. By now, the chachi had come out to take him to school, where she happened to teach. She gave him a big squeeze, dried his tears and proceeded to walk with him towards the door. They were followed by a chorus of "Bye! I love you's" and "Have a nice day's." Just one voice was missing.

The Mamma's.

She said it softly, under her breath. He turned at the door, looked straight into her eyes and...slowly lifted his little hand, curled up in a fist save the littlest finger of all -- katti, the accepted and acknowledged gesture for the silent treatment; to say as eloquently as possible, "I don't like you anymore" without actually saying it. In other words, the equivalent of giving someone the finger -- in a totally innocent and child-like manner, of course.

Mamma felt sick. Not because of all the high-voltage drama that had been packed into the space of just half-an-hour, but because she hadn't been sleeping well the last few nights. She felt a fever coming on. She drained her tea down to the dregs, excused herself and went to her bedroom. She called her yoga teacher and cancelled; told her husband that she was going to bed, put the phone on silent and tried to drift off to sleep.

Of course sleep did not come easy. She kept drifting between the hazy world of dreams and the harsh sunlight of reality and in both it seemed as if she was being haunted by a pair of big, brown, beautiful eyes, brim full with tears, sadness and accusations, "How come you couldn't understand me, Mamma?"

She remained in bed, flitting unhappily between both worlds, an unwanted visitor in either, when she heard the doorbell ring. She registered it as belonging to the corporeal world and realised that the day ayah, not wanting to disturb her, had gone to pick up the young one from school. She heard the door open. She braced herself to face those eyes again.

"Mamma??! Mamma!!?" she heard him call out. She heard the ayah tell him that his Mamma was in the room. She heard his footsteps approach her bedroom door. Through the haze of her fever, she saw the shape of a little boy standing there, bright, perky, happy.

And then she heard him say with every ounce of feeling that he possessed, "Mamma, I love you now again."

Monday, March 7, 2011

Book Review: Chanakya’s Chant, by Ashwin Sanghi

When I read the first chapter of Ashwin Sanghi’s latest book, “Chanakya’s chant”, my jaw had dropped, my eyes were bigger than rasogollas, I was breathless and I was hooked! The words ‘fast-paced’ and ‘thriller’ seemed woefully inadequate, absolutely akin to calling Madhubala ‘cute’ or Van Gogh’s painting’s ‘nice.’ I thought to myself, how the hell was I going to write a review for a book that just bloody grabs hold of all your senses and plays puppet-master with you, using your guts entrails as puppet strings; sometimes words fall short.

The brilliance of this novel lies in the fact that there are two stories in this book, from vastly different epochs, with a common theme treading through the two narratives...political lust.

The first chapter takes us all the way back to 340 BC with an event that ultimately leads to Chandragupta’s coronation – the assassination of Paurus, emperor of Magadha. The subsequent chapters go further back in time, from the moment Chanakya, born Vishnugupta, India’s very own Machiavelli and father of the Arthashastra, vows revenge against the corrupt and debauched king Dhanananda for the brutal murder of his father, Chanak. The political cunning of Chanakya and his abetment in establishing a unified Bharat under the able leadership of his hand-picked protégé, Chandragupta, forms part of the novel. Running parallel, in interspersed chapters, is the story of Pandit Gangasagar Mishra and his machinations to make Chandni Gupta, a smart, lovely slum child from Uttar Pradesh, into the most powerful person of the country – the Prime Minister of India.

Sanghi demonstrates that the core of political thought and strategy hasn’t changed much over the years. So while Chanakya had a bevy of Vishkanyas at the ready, Gangasagar enlists the help of dancer-whores and B-grade film starlets. While Chanakya sends a tantric with a penchant for theatrics into the court of Mallayaraja, Gangasagar deploys a pavement astrologer to ‘prophesise’ future political events in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Blackmail, misrepresented facts and figures, gossip, torture and the bumping off of inconvenient human obstacles are all old hat in the art of statecraft and still remain popular means by which to run/rule a country. After all, human flaws and failings haven’t changed over the centuries...if anything, they have just gotten worse with time. And this is what Sanghi brings out brilliantly in “Chanakya’s Chant.”

But having said all that, I have to say, that after a while, the story, or rather the stories, become predictable. I guess the predictability stems greatly due to the fact that we are a nation bred on the greatest epic of all time, the Mahabharata, and the greatest entertainment industry in the world, Bollywood. The Mahabharata is undoubtedly a masterpiece and as anyone who has read it knows; it is full of political intrigue, treachery, trickery, lust, betrayal, revenge, blood and gore. So thanks to this and Bollywood’s obsession with political pot-boilers in the recent years, such as “Hu Tu Tu”, “Gangajal”, “Godmother”, the “Sarkar” and “Rakhtcharitra” series, and the blockbuster, “Rajneeti”, to name a few, after a point in time in the book, the twists turn out to be less ‘twisty’ and shocking, and you actually begin to not only expect them, but to predict them. And yet, despite this predilection for predictability, at no point does the book get boring. You still find yourself turning the pages in a reading frenzy, just like you would while on your 51st Agatha Christie.

There were some gaps for me which caused much crinkling of the forehead. While Chanakya’s bloodthirstiness is properly delineated, Gangasagar’s lust for power remains a head-scratcher, as does Chandini’s. A glaring incongruity in the book is the many 21st Century-isms mouthed by Chanakya’s contemporaries, inducing many an eye-roll and sigh of “Oh come on! Really!?!” Case in point? Well, phrases like, “The problem is that most things in life that are pleasurable are usually illegal, immoral or fattening”, mouthed by the repulsive, two-faced Rakshas, minister to Dhanananda. Or another ‘gem’ said by Chanakya himself, “No one’s a virgin, Nipunaka. Life screws them all.”

Two things I sorely missed in the book, were a list of the characters and a map of ancient Bharat. These two appendices would have greatly assisted the reader.

But there is a treat in store for the reader – a track of Chanakya’s chant, the Shakti mantra that appears throughout the story. Recited in Vedic tradition by Kushal Gopalka, the track has been composed in two parts; the first part with traditional Indian classical instruments and the second part, a more electronic take with fusion elements to give it a modern touch – very much in keeping with the structure of the novel, where modern mirrors the ancient. The track can be downloaded from

It is one of the many joys of this wonderful, double-tale of political savagery and intrigue in India. The final moral of the story? Some things just don’t change.