Saturday, December 5, 2009
Let’s start with ‘packing of the bags’ scenario. Try telling a fifteen year old fashionista that mosquito repellent, sun block, sensible shoes and other boring gear, not mascara, stilettos and fashion mags, are the 5 things you must carry when traveling, and you are asking for some serious trouble here. Be prepared to be called frumpy, dumpy and dowdy when you insist that the ‘T back on shorts summer look’ will cause a riot in a dusty little town called Karwar. Arguments on the logic of wearing Oshos on flight will invariably snowball into an avalanche of tempers until you finally gave in out of sheer exhaustion. So I did what every sensible parent does…I left my teen to her devices hoping that she would eventually learn her lessons, the hard way. In the next room, my eleven year olds had a totally different perspective of what goes into a holiday suitcase. Swimsuits, beach toys, Captain Underpants, Secrets of Droon, Baby Sitters Club, Archie comics, Uno and no underwear was the scene here. If talking sense into a teenager is tough, just try telling your tweens that they can’t take their Transformers and Barbies along. Their still-cherubic faces will instantly burst into tears making you feel like the meanest mommy ever. After much squabbling over everything, we land at the overpriced resort swarming with pesky mosquitoes, bored staff, and unappetizing food only to discover that I had forgotten to pack my new Anne Klein swimsuit, had only two decent T-shirts, and oops! It was the time of the month…I am a whisker away from bawling my lungs out when a frosted Marguerita appears out of the blue. ‘Happy Holidays mommy!’ three sunburned munchkins hold out the best peace offering ever. ‘We’re working on your hammock’ winks my partner, and magically my dream comes true, even if it’s for a few days…
Saturday, October 24, 2009
So when I received an invitation embossed on scented silk, nestled in a box of Belgian chocolates, accompanied by a bottle of Merlot and a three day stay at the Taj Village, I wasn’t too surprised at my Puneri pal turning posh…Way to go! I thought, happy that the Marathi manoos was finally shedding his solemn soul and gearing up to bhangda like the others. But buried underneath all the luxe was a tiny note that insisted, ‘no bouquets, no presents, only blessings allowed’ I went numb. She can’t be serious I told myself. How on earth am I going to recycle those horrendous gifts I had saved up especially for these kinds of occasions when you can palm them off without getting caught? And what’s with the no bouquet business? But it was the next sentence sent my BP soaring through the skylight… ‘The couple’s wedding Wish List is registered at Macys, Bloomingdales and Saks…’ with that, my heart stopped beating. And I never quite recovered to attend that posh Puneri wedding.
Gone are the days when weddings were simple, sweet and to the point. Boy meets girl, okays vital stats and education, girl shyly accepts proposal. Family huddles over Streedhan and other finer details. You go shopping for 5 silk saris and some gold. On fateful day, a grimfaced priest finalizes your destiny, relatives shower you with blessings, bouquets and Rs 101 tucked in envelopes. And then without further ado, you were off honeymooning in Goa ready to take on the world!
‘Marriage is not to be taken lightly, young girl’ my grandmother would seize the chance to sermon me every time a relative took the saat pheraas. ‘It is not something to laugh about’ I got walloped for sniggering at geeky NRI cousin’s wardrobe malfunction during his jay mala. She almost disowned me when I turned up in blonde streaks and a backless choli. Needless to say, my own affair was a solemn, stiff upper lipped, typical Maharashtrain wedding.
But things change. The old must make way for the new. It’s the order of the universe.
So glitz up your glam quotient, deck up in those diamonds and get ready to pirouette down the aisle in your Jimmy Choos. Go on, make it a big fat Indian wedding complete with blessings, bouquets and recycled gifts…and keep everyone happy!
Sunday, September 27, 2009
No, she didn’t break hubby’s favorite crystal decanter nor did she ask for yet another raise. She just stood there serenely chopping onions and declared, ‘Memsahib, Diwali is a month away’ Whaat! Four weeks from the most stressful time of the year!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love celebrating festivals. I love celebrating anything for that matter –like losing weight, buying a new outfit, getting a new diamond, you get the drift. But over the years, this insane pressure of dealing with festivals without chipping my nail polish and losing my sense of humour, is driving me batty. And there’s simply no way to escape it.
Not even a legit reason excuse like PMS or Maid Malaise works.
‘Memsahib, this time don’t forget that I’m taking one week chutti. Whatever you want to do, you do now’
I cringe. The wretched woman’s right.
Last Diwali was an utter embarrassment.
I had forgotten to pencil in 'Spring Cleaning' in my Diwali List and had landed up hosting a fancy family dinner that went bust thanks to a bunch of eagle eyed senior citizens who spotted one two many cobwebs and mothballs for their appetite.
‘It gives the house a lived in feel, don’t you think?’ I had babbled desperately. ‘Like a medieval castle or something. Have some more basundi, I made it myself’ I fibbed desperately, hoping to distract them.
Needless to say, those starchy seniors failed to see the humour in this case.
‘Tsk, tsk, this new generation just doesn’t want to take care of their homes. All they do is get these fancy sounding careers, employ maids and party all night long! Why in my days…’ One particular nasty geriatric geezer began rambling through her life that was an endless saga of producing children by the dozen, cooking for an army and pandering to the whims of her draconian in-laws. And how she had been sooo satisfied with that…
Sure enough, this was the bugle call that brought on the War of the Women.
Within minutes my dinner table had turned into a bloody battlefield with one generation pitched against the other, each stridently shrieking forth on women’s so called responsibilities...
When a male made the biggest mistake of his life, ‘why do you women always want to be Super Woman?’
I don’t know what happened to my brother after mom and wifey were done with him that night. But I can assure you, that nothing unites women faster that a man trying to tell them what to do…even when he means well.
So, this Diwali I’m doing what my maid does, and jazz off to Jamaica…Happy Dusshera and Happy Diwali all of you!!
Monday, September 14, 2009
Welcome to the Parent Trap.
‘Only when you become a parent will you understand our dreams’ was my mother’s constant refrain every time I drove her up the wall with bizarre acts of teenage rebellion and abysmal grades. Today, these very words have come back to haunt me as I struggle to parent three rambunctious kids who are hell bent on becoming a tattoo artist, a chocolate maker, a VJ and sometimes even a beach bum. Any suggestion of a sensible rent paying profession is met with utter disdain and total disregard. Needless to say, unlike the rest of my friends who have their children’s lives under control, my dream of being the mother of a Nobel laureate looks rather slim at this moment.
‘Get a grip!’ Mama Mia, my veteran mommy pal lectured me; ‘after all, it’s just a mere child. What does it even know what it wants?’ she looked me square in the eyes and laid down harsh reality…
‘Understand that the journey to greatness begins in vitro. One must listen to Mozart, exercise, eat healthy and think positive’ her words shook me up. All I had done during my pregnancies was watch horror movies, weep copiously, eat popcorn and lounge about in my pajamas all day!
‘Next, be an involved parent. From carefully vetting the school, to what the child eats, to what he thinks to what he dreams of, you must know everything!’ this was insane. I almost keeled over in shock!
‘And remember, only the best will win’ she continued sagely, ‘Brain Gym, Vedic Math, Abacus, chess, music’ she rattled off, ‘and don’t forget tuition classes if you wish to give a shot at the IITs. As for your tattoo artist aspirant, there are a myriad ways to quash her dreams’ Mama Mia assured me with a bright smile.
Hallelujah! I had just been saved! My future seems much brighter as a respectable parent when suddenly it hits me. Wait a minute; my parents never, ever, really hounded me the way I’m all pumped up and ready to make mincemeat out my kids’ dreams.
My life flashes before me.
All the terrible mistakes, the missed opportunities, but what stands out the most is the complete freedom and space to find my true calling.
Is it really that bad if our children choose a less valued profession that makes them truly happy?
Follow your heart is what the wise men tell us.
By all means follow your dreams dear parents; just make sure you don’t hijack someone else’s in the bargain…
Friday, July 24, 2009
It isn’t my birthday. Is this a hint for me to get my accessories act together? I opened the hallowed book with trembling fingers…
A is for Appliqué Aprons from Martha Stewart, a must when showing off your culinary skills to your guests.
C listed the lowdown on Chanel, caviar and crystal when hobnobbing with the crème de la crème of society.
G had the scoop for the Gucci gals who can’t get enough of glamour and guys….
Did you know that polkas are in and stripes out? But polkas and stripes together could make haute couture? That blue is so passé, it’s red hot tamale time today. Brocade is in, sequins out. My head spins.
Suddenly my cozy, overstuffed, artistically mismatched home begins to look like a pathetically rundown Willy Wonka warehouse. Instead of a magical Persian rug, I see faded, threadbare wool. My avant-garde blue sofa looks tacky and so out of style. The carefully crafted feng shui garden looks like a kindergarten patch. And the less said about my psychedelic print wardrobe, the better…my blood runs cold as I remember last night’s party.
Did Botox Babe really mean it when she gushed over the lava lights? What about ‘in your face colors is such an original concept!’ Isn’t that supposed to be a compliment? And ‘you carry off blue sooo well dahling!’ was what Prada princess had purred loudly pointing her French manicured finger at my outfit. A shiver slithers down my spine. I will not take this challenge lying down. My reputation is at stake here! This is no ordinary read. This book holds the key to making or breaking my social standing!
Half a dozen Brazilian caffeine fixes later, I have devoured each and every nugget of information on every single accessory that exists on this planet. I head out armed to the hilt with the Guide, a song on my lips, hope in my heart and my platinum priority credit card, determined to accessorize my life to the T...
I can still hear the dreadful shriek that pierced the air that evening,
‘Arrghh! What happened to our home? Help! We’ve been robbed! Why is everything checkered?’ I simply took a deep breath and turned to face my fashion challenged family.
‘Nothing dahlings, it’s just time we got our lives accessorized’ and feed them a perfectly color coordinated cordon bleu dinner that blows their accessories angst away.
That is, until the next Amazing Accessories Guide royally decrees that melamine dinner plates are passé and that bone china are in, once again…
12th August Femina magazine issue Candied Confessions column
Friday, July 3, 2009
RUCKUS ON CAMPUS
SSC topper scores 2000%!! Non SSC students barred from State Colleges. Failed students go nuts….I wake up screaming my head off. That horrid nightmare is back again, terrorizing me. I am one of the thousands of weeping, glassy eyed parents running desperately from pillar to post just trying to get my child into a decent college while a potbellied politician plays havoc at will! What if my 10th grader doesn’t get into the college she desires? What if the only college she gets is located in a god forsaken taluka 2 hours away? What if nothing works and I have to sell the house to pay donations? By dawn, I look like the living dead…‘Memsahib did you go to the mandir?’ Laxmi Bai jolts me out of my stupor. ‘How many times have I told you to do puja? Huh?’ she pauses and takes a deep breath before slamming into me. ‘Mrs. Mehta has gone to Vaishno devi three times, Balaji four times just so that her ladla Sunny gets the car of his choice… and you can’t even go to the temple once for your daughter’s 10th std results… Hey Bhagwan!’ The sour look she gives me sends me reeling over the edge. I have never felt so afraid in my life.... Am I such a bad parent? Will my child have to pay for my transgressions? Isn’t merit worth anything at all? Perhaps it’s not too late to send out an SOS. I’ll leave right away, catch the overnight and prostrate myself at the Lord’s feet. Surely the gods won’t refuse a desperate parent! My canny maid reads my devious thoughts in a flash. ‘It’s too late now and we need that seat by hook…’ a crafty look crosses her face, ‘or by a crook…’ The next thing I know, I’m standing outside a monstrosity of a mansion draped demurely in sari, clutching a box of barfi and the troublesome mark sheet, waiting my turn in a serpentine queue. ‘My Pappu works for the minister sahib. As head dhobi, he knows his sahib inside out’ Laxmi whispers conspiratorially. ‘Remember memsahib, hand him the barfi, tell him that you admire his stand on reservations, never mind your real opinions’ her eyes bore into me, ‘keep them to yourself!’
I squawk, ‘But the truth…’
‘Forget it! Do you want the seat or not?’
I nod quickly.
‘Good! You will then burst into tears and fling yourself at his feet!’
Did my helplessness feed that fattened ego enough to relent? Or did my child actually secure the seat on merit? I don’t think I’ll ever quite find out; just truly thankful to have made it across the finishing line. But one thing I know for sure, I’ve turned over a new leaf. And so should you... After all, it’s pretty clear that one needs more than just merit in this country. You need divine intervention every single step of the way. And yes, do remember to note down your dhobi’s cell. You’ll need him when junior tries to get into that prestigious engineering college in the 2% open category. So, the faster you learn how to access these Holy Hot Lines, the saner you will remain when it comes to the Annual Ruckus on Campus....!!!