Friday, October 17, 2008


Diwali is round the corner and I’m already breaking out into humongous hives at the thought of the festive madness that will be invariably unhinged on me, however well prepared I think I am...
Within this week, after you’ve packed off hubby and the kids with a warm hug and tiffin, your day will begin to take on a strange and ominous turn with the unexpected, early arrival of your usually invisible maid, Shanta bai.
‘I will be gone for a week, starting tomorrow’ she announces imperiously clearing her throat, chopping the onions viciously just in case you have any brave thoughts of objecting to her decree. You almost pass out in the palak paneer.
‘But…what about the spring cleaning, the saaf sa faee?’ you ask meekly. She shoots you another nasty look chopping the onions even more loudly, making them quiver with her rage.
‘I don’t know memsahib, but I’m getting my house painted and I need chutti from tomorrow’. ‘Take two weeks after Diwali…’ you stutter piteously, picturing yourself returning, suntanned from a glorious holiday and morphing into a human dishwasher! But it takes a lot to sway the hardened hearts of these Shantabais. Your world comes crashing down as this modern day executioner proceeds to make mincemeat of your holiday plans. You begin to tremble, tears are a wail away, finally after much deep breathing; you do what every woman has done a million Diwalis before - You fling yourself at her mercy, begging her to turn up on Laxmi Pujan because you’ve got the entire family descending and you sure as hell can’t possibly cook aloo gobi the way she does! Shantabai smirks happily, she knows she’s got the goose where she wants and sighs dramatically,
‘Teekh hai bai, Alright, I shall come, but then I must leave early everyday till then!’
You can’t nod fast enough in agreement before she cooks up another ingenious excuse and hurriedly throw in the baksheesh of your old mobile phone to clinch the deal.
You settle down gratefully for a well deserved cup of tea thinking foolishly that the storm has passed.... The next few days float by peacefully, when a newer danger rears its fearsome head… The festive fever has brainwashed every shopper making even you buy stuff an idiot wouldn’t want. As you proceed to empty out the stores, your credit card is on the verge of swiping the smile off your hubby’s face, and you are in real mortal danger of financial freefall, but you can’t seem to stop yourself. So you head home with yet some more scented candles to mollify your mightily miffed male over a mere matter of money. Just as you finish setting the scene for the romantic evening that is supposed hypnotize him into seeing the right figures, the phone rings in the next death knell. It’s your mother in law, bursting a clogged artery coz she’s just heard that you’ve voiced this grandiose idea of making chivda, chaklis and ladoos at home!
‘Best left to the experts if you want me alive and kicking’ she rings off grimly.
It’s the second time in the week that you get weepy, your eyes well up, when something sparkles brightly in the candlelight,
Happy Diwali darling!’ and you know that this festive secason, you are going to be perfectly alright…
(DNA Pune, 'Funny Bone Column' Sunday, Oct 25th 2008)

Sunday, October 12, 2008


There’s definitely something fishy in Pune’s waters, besides just the left over ganpati idols and sewage. Something far more sinister that’s changed my laid back, beer bellied, cricket obsessed, middle-aged male friends into these uber healthy creatures I don’t recognize any more!
Let’s begin at home.
Of late, my husband has developed a sudden and frightening interest in getting FIT. Of course there’s absolutely no harm in aspiring and perspiring to knocking off those middle-aged pounds, we women do it every festive season. But it’s just the sheer testerone packed intensity of his schedule that makes me break out in a frightened sweat!

Yoga and Karate classes alternate days a week, walks and swimming every evening, add to this freaky fitness regime, the pressure of rising and shining bleary eyed at 5 am six days a week to put in an entire day at the office!
‘This is exactly what happens when men are about to hit menopause’ an older friend let on when I moaned and groaned on the state of my sleep deprived life, ‘and what’s worse, it gets worse’ she added knowingly. ‘Soon after, he will attend an Art of Living Course, go off meat, then alcohol, next, it’s lights out at 9pm, no Seinfeld or Comedy Central…’

My blood ran cold as I flashed back to last night’s passionate golf dinner debate about the benefits of lauki ka juice in losing weight. Was there more pulp to the juice therapy than what I imagined? The next day got progressively worse by the hour...

No Carbs after 6’ advised a svelte zero size friend munching on a celery stick.

‘No wine’ added another, tossing out my happy hours.

‘Work out every day, come rain or shine’ panted the third as she revved up the treadmill speed yet another notch.

‘Battle those bulges if you want your man to stick around’ sneered the fourth smirking pointedly at my ample assets.

So what on earth are we going to do if our middle aged men suddenly turn into a six pack Casanovas? That did it!

I gritted my teeth, marched down to the nearest cycle store and got myself the fanciest bike available. There’s no way I’m going to let him outta my sight even for a lauki I vowed, setting the alarm for the unearthly hour...

Now my middle-aged mind is very strong but I can’t say the same about the body, and so all I managed this morning was a half opened eyelid…to see my man still snoring away peacefully. ‘Aren’t you supposed to be at Karate?’ I growled.

‘Nope today is Sunday, I’m trekking today with the boys’ he mutters, and that’s when the coin dropped!

All these alpha males are having an affair…with themselves…rediscovering what it was like when they were not so potbellied, balding and forty years old!

The revelation was such a relief that I not only went back to sleep but actually did that trek with him and came back convinced that male menopause isn’t such a bad thing, provided you keep a 13 gear bike handy to track your rejuvenated man down saddlebags or not...
(DNA Pune, 'Funny Bone Column' Sunday, October 5, 2008)