Saturday, December 5, 2009

HOLIDAY LIKE A KID

‘Mommmy! Holidays are here!’ someone screeched jolting me out of a blissful kid-free dream where I lolled about on a hammock, sipping a Daiquiri, writing my best seller.... Holidays! Good grief! I leapt out of bed, poured myself a huge caffeine fix and pondered the dismal state of things to come. My days were doomed! Schools, colleges, every single institution that I depended on to give me a few moments of solitude had shut their hallowed gates and packed up for the holidays!. How on earth was I going to handle a stir crazy family? There was only one way to tackle a tattoo obsessed teen, high strung twins and a psychotic maid– head out to the remotest island and sit out the impending domestic storm. But traveling with kids is easier said than done…
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

BIG FAT INDIAN WEDDING

From the mansions of Malabar Hill to Pune’s peths, modern Indian weddings have taken on a new avatar. Nowadays everything is Bollywood Dhamaka Ishtyle. From glitzy invitation cards to star packed sangeets to lavish wedding buffets with 17 cuisines, not to mention ample media coverage of the blessed event, Indian weddings have truly come of age.
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

MY DIWALI DILEMMA

My maid scared the living daylights out of me this morning.
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

THE PARENT TRAP

It’s truly amazing how a tiny bundle of life fills you with an insane desire to re-live your imperfect life, all over again.
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

THE ANGST OF ACCESSORIZING

Something landed with an ominous thud on my doorstep upsetting my morning cuppa. It was the bestselling A- Z Amazing Accessories Guide…Who sent me this?

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!!

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....!!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


It's one of those times when you are sooo swamped with everything under the sun that you just can't breathe...anyways just wanted to share a wonderful write-up on my book in Femina 17th June Pune issue..here it is...Enjoy!!
And do grab a copy of my book and let me know what you think!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

MY PAPPU CAN DANCE!!

Mid week and I was at one of those dos where everyone drips diamonds, sips Chantilly and speaks high brow. Conversation was flowing. We had finished oohing and ahhing over the incredible shopping that exists only ‘abroad’ and were now onto exchanging notes on how incredibly talented their children were. I daren’t open my mouth coz I really wasn’t asked. Besides, who the heck in that room really cared what talents my 3 brats had? And I definitely wasn’t going to go to town about my son’s talent for making weird musical noises from bodily orifices....
‘My Rohan has formed a band. It’s called White Noise…’ drawls Ms Phoney accent. ‘That’ sooo sweeet!’ purrs her pal, Ms Phonier, ‘so, where does he perform, besides of course at Zen, where they let just about anybody play dahling…’ Phoney’s pencil thin eyebrows shot up in shock and disappeared into her streaked scalp! A visible artic chill descended. Now everyone in that room knew that Phonier’s son Aditya was no longer Phoney’s son Rohan’s best pal. It had something to do with him snitching Rohan’s girlfriend, smashing his corvette or both…I held my breath and waited for Phoney to strike back. Phoney’s eyebrows slowly descended and a sneer twisted the corners of her thin mouth as she slowly spat out, ‘For your information, White Noise is on youtube and next month they tour the big Apple. It’s all paid for by their music company!’ Phonier smiled like a cat that’s just been handed a bowl of fresh cream. ‘Must be soooo nice to have your very own music company…’ She turns to the rest of the kitties, making sure she’s giving us her best botoxed profile. ‘Now my Aditya, dahlings, made it through Dance India Dance and all on his own’ she emphasizes. ‘Shamak said to me the other day, (dramatic pause here) this boy’s going places!’
Something crashed making everyone jump out of their Chanel makeup!
Phoney was frothing at the mouth! Her eyeballs are rolling and she looks positively demented.
‘Yeah right! I met Shamak this morning and he said the only place your Aditya is going to - is jail! Remember those million SIM cards you guys picked up, dahling?’
Phonier suddenly looks as if she’s swallowed a huge hairball. The botox crumbles and now, her Chantilly crashes to the floor!
What a waste of good wine, I quickly help myself to another generous glass before someone decides to remove the bottle, just in case. Within minutes, the Kitty Party has become a Catty Party. Suddenly everyone’s kid is the next Obama, Pink Floyd, Enrique, Picasso, Rushdie, Rowling, Brad Pitt, Angelina and Danny Boyle in the making that talent scouts are desperately chasing. By now, the wine has hit me and a false sense of bravado is coursing through my veins. I stagger to my feet.
‘Cheers! My maid’s Pappu is on TV! He’s starring with Bipasa Basu’ I blurt out gaily bursting into song, ‘Pappu can really dance sala!’. The room comes to a screeching standstill. Every kitty is busy thinking, ‘what the heck does Laxmi Bai’s kid have that my chunnu, munnu and pumpkin don’t have?’
Now dahlings, maybe it has a little something to do with talent and hard work and less with just being Richie Rich?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

MOTHER'S DAY...OUT!!!

I got a rather pleasant surprise this morning!!! Pleasant because normally I wake up to a household that seems to be in the perennial grip of a host of problems that could shake the combat boots off a seasoned general! Twins bashing each other over a ridiculous toy called scoobies. Maids mouthing off over which one of them works the hardest (I told them it was me) or Hubby dear quietly jazzing off whenever a catastrophe threatens to erupt, and so on. So this Sunday, when I woke up to the melodious chirping of birds and the aroma of fragrant tea, I honestly thought I had died and gone to heaven…
‘Happy Mother’s Day!’ the twins burst into my bedroom and jolt me back to reality. ‘We love you mommy! For the bestest Mommy in the whole wide world!’ two mushy crayoned cards, a box of my favorite Ferraro Rocher chocolates, a bottle of wine, red roses…I never got so much attention on my birthdays! I chock up with happiness. I am finally being recognized, applauded for my parenting skills! Could this be true? This is proving too much for me to handle. I gulp nervously. All those times I have been down right mean and nasty to my kids comes back in a horrible, blinding flash. I stumble out bed, feeling more Monster than Mommy Material and take a good, long, hard look at myself in the mirror. The mirror shivers and shakes as it begins to delve into my soul. I’m back to the moment I first held my babies in my arms…. So soft and cuddly, so helpless and small. So annoying when they stayed up bawling all night long. Diaper duties, feeding frenzies, numbing routines that made you scream. The first word spoken would be your name, you dream. But it was Dad and at that, you did scream. Time flies like a winged beast, fast and furious with every step. In a heart beat, life changes, and your little baby is all grown up… I’m back to the present, shaken and stirred. Strangely, there’s a zing in the air. I’m no longer a tired, worn out, fed up, grouchy, grumpy, soccer Mom who cooks and cleans all day wondering, hoping, and praying fervently for her brood to just grow up and leave her in peace! Instead, I see a person who’s been blessed with the most wonderful gifts from the Universe... Suddenly, their messy rooms look like Picasso’s studio. Their incessant questioning is another Einstein emerging. And their swimming obsession is a Phelp in the making... I can hear my kids fighting over those dratted scoobies again. And Laxmi Bai is screeching her lungs off trying to separate the bloodthirsty rivals. I take a deep breath and step into the battlefield vowing that from now on, I am going to be more Fun than Frumpy when it came to battles over Video games and French Fries. ‘Who wants to go McDonalds?’ ‘Mom’s lost her marbles’ I can hear them whispering excitedly, battle forgotten. Laxmi Bai opens her mouth to object to this utterly, unacceptable idea. ‘Take chutti today Laxmi Bai…it’s Mother’s Day’ I announce grandly, ‘Go and spend time with Pappu…or he’ll grow up too fast for you’
Happy Mother’s Day to my species!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

SLUMDOG HOLIDAYS ARE HERE!


Here I was happily sipping a chilled Chardonnay at one of those natty afternoon brunches soaking in the limelight as I held my audience spell bound with tales from my seaside vacations when a nasal drawl burst my happiness bubble. ‘Dahling!’ My blood freezes, it’s Gucci Babe smirking pityingly at me, ‘Snorkeling is for bachhas, honestly, there’s more to a holiday than staring at a giant fish tank!’ instantly my popularity plummets and I go from being the next Jacques Cousteau to a mere machhiwali. Gucci Babe tosses her glossy hair, pouts her perfect lips and shoves me aside. For the next miserable hour I stand ignored as she dissects every possible exotic holiday ranging from whiskey trails to bungee jumping to shopping sprees, down to every excruciating, annoying detail. The audience can’t get enough and now she’s spewing forth on some blooming Art and Culture Trail in France ‘that’s soooo hot this season dahlings. It’s a must do’.
It’s so unfair; the closest I’ve gotten to anything arty are my children’s paintings! Tears threatened to spill into my wine when my phone rings,
‘Hellooo Memsahib!’
I can’t believe it! It’s that dratted woman Laxmi bai! Why can’t she just leave me alone? I scuttle to a corner and hiss down the line
‘What is it now? I’m busy!’
‘Memsahib I’m taking chutti tomorrow, phirang memsahib coming to my house for holiday’ what on earth is she yakking on about?
‘Laxmi bai, are you ok?’ I’ve instantly sobered up.
‘I fine memsahib, but tomorrow I am having guests from Amerika. They stay with me, eat with me and sleep with me in my jopadpatti. I getting lot of paisa for this’ by now I am convinced she’s been sniffing something, the woman’s gone bonkers!
‘And why do they want to do that?’ I snigger.
‘Arrey memsahib, you don’t watch Slumdog phillum or what? Every phirang now dying to live in jopadpatti like Dev Patel.’
Whaaat! She’s definitely lost her marbles, I’m going to have to replace her, can’t have her hallucinating like this.
‘You don’t believe me memsahib, go read newspaper!’ and she angrily slams down the phone. This is ridiculous! I glance over at the gaggle surrounding Gucci Babe and a fresh stab of jealously sends me scouting for hubby dear and his blackberry.
‘Are you all right?’ Hubby’s never seen me get all sweaty and excited over a gadget before. I’m looking at the article, reading it and its unbelievable! Laxmi Bai’s right! A delicious thrill envelopes my body, I look over at Gucci Babe, she’s still at it. Well not for long darling! I grip my wine glass and sashay down to upset her little party.
‘That’s all very nice dahlings, but these holidays you speak of are sooo passé. One must do something off beat, something that no one except Angelina Jolie has done…’ Gucci Babe stops yakking and everyone else starts gawking.
‘You pack your bags, dump the five stars and go camp in a slum for the Oscar experience of a lifetime!’
It’s like I’ve unleashed a volcano; everyone suddenly goes ballistic, badgering me for details. I coolly reach for my cell and dial,
‘Laxmi Bai, please find me 20 jopadpattis. My friends want to take a Slumdog Holiday with you this summer!’
Happy Holidays ya all!!

Monday, April 13, 2009

REVENGE OF THE REUNION

‘You are cordially invited to the Reunion of the 1980 batch’ read the glossy invite. I went into shock. How did they manage to track me down? I frantically my brains trying to figure out where I had goofed up and got caught by the ghosts from my past. It wasn’t that I had something to hide, but heck, trying to justify your present state of mundane Puneri life to those globe trotting ‘Ivy League’ classmates wasn’t something that made me want to jump up and dance with joy!
‘But dahling, never mind those fancy, schmancy writing skills, you need to do something about your dress size!’ natty Nita twittered loudly in my memory, plonking her picture perfect derriere on a chair after acing an All India exam, winning the gold medal and effortlessly grabbing the hottest guy in school. I broke out in a cold sweat. There was no way that I was going to land up at the reunion looking like an enlarged image of my school days with a nonexistent career that boasted more of diaper duties than corporate deals. I needed a serious sabotage strategy if I were to survive the evening. There was only one way out of this. I would have to dig up dirt on everyone!
I sat down to google track every possible person I could remember from my past. The loyal lungoti yaars who shared everything from spankings to sandwiches; The nasty chosen ones who starred and shone in my dimwitted face all the time; The childhood sweetheart who never knew of my pudgy existence; The bathroom bullies who made sure I learnt bladder control when slammed against the wall and the class geeks who no one ever dared hang out with.
I burnt the midnight oil digging deep, uncovering the tiniest scoop and scandal that took place. By the time the reunion day dawned, I had a full dossier on almost everyone. And boy was I ready to spill the beans on anyone who dared inquire about my BMI and bank balance!
But time changes everything and alas!
My moment of revenge went out of the window the minute natty Nita waddled over, looking larger than Battlestar Galactica.
‘What happened to you?’ I squeaked, stunned by the number of double chins and saddlebags that lurched around the woman.
‘Nothing dahling, just got married to a Ruia and then sab kuch chot gaiya’ she twittered, flashing a dazzling rock and piling her plate with yet another pastry. I couldn’t help grinning. One down, few more to go… I sucked in my stomach and tottered over to the sweetheart for a heart to heart, only to have my jaw drop to the floor! His glorious, thick, curly hair that made the girls go ga ga, had simply gone with the wind! KAPUT! Not a single, silky strand remained, just a shiny, bald pate. Serves you right for ignoring my valentine’s card and not asking me to the Prom…’ I giggled, thrilled at the comical turn of events as the chosen ones fell to the roadside and the lowly lot sparkled.
That evening, middle-aged classmates dumped their degrees, diamonds and desperations slipping back into their school uniforms to re-live a lost childhood. Thank heavens for reunions! It is really, truly sweet revenge!!
DNA Sunday Funny Bone 12th April 2009

Sunday, April 5, 2009

VOTE FOR LAXMI BAI

The phone rang shrill, jolting me out of a nice warm bed. ‘Who in the blooming galaxy calls at 9am on a Sunday?’ I snarled. ‘Well no one except your mother’ mumbled my husband digging deeper into the blankets. I reluctantly rolled out, grabbed the wretched instrument and got blasted by ‘Gud marning memsahib. I not coming today!’ it was Laxmi Bai on the other end, all bright and early for a change. ‘And tomorrow and the phooool week’ she declared serenely through a mouthful of paan.
‘Why? Did somebody die?’ I asked nastily, expecting her to break down and pour out another sob story of yet another drunken relative throwing himself into the Mula Mutha.
She laughed, ‘nahin nahin, everybody ekdum phine. Arrey Memsahib’ she paused and dropped the bomb, ‘I now becoming corporator for my jopadpatti. Vote for Laxmi Bai everyone is saying!’
The phone crashed to the floor.
Minutes later my world crashed to the floor.
‘Whaaat! You can’t do that! What about me? What about us?’ My wild shrieks got hubby scrambling out of bed, lunging for his golf clubs, ready to bash my imaginary paramour’s skull. ‘But Laxmi, you can’t do this to me….’ I crumpled like a deflated balloon. ‘She’s dumped me, she’s gone, abandoned me…to become a politician!!’ It was hubby’s turn to laugh his guts out.
No, this can’t be true. I kept telling myself, I’m sure she’ll realize how much she misses chopping onions at my place and come right back. The week wore by painfully. Every pot I scrubbed, every new maid I interviewed seemed to fall short in every way. No one seemed to have that special zing, that spark and of course that sharp witty tongue which Laxmi Bai wielded with such superiority.
‘It’s all that Danny Boyle’s fault! He’s got everyone thinking they can become slumdog millionaires!’ declared my girlfriends sympathetically. We sat forlornly sipping our glasses of wine, pondering on the unfairness of it all. ‘The kids have lost weight, heck I’ve lost weight! Mother in law doesn’t grumble anymore and the house is too darn quiet for comfort!’ and I was about ready to jump into the Mula Mutha myself. When my London returned pal suddenly sat up all excited, ‘Aren’t you supposed to have a criminal record to become an Indian neta?’ she pulled out a magazine from her Prada bag, ‘Look it says here - only if you’ve killed or kidnapped someone, do Indian voters know you can handle anything’
I almost choked on the dim sum with joy! ‘That’s just it! You can’t become a politician in India unless you’re a liar, a cheat, a killer, a kidnapper, in short, really wacko. I picked my glass of wine, all tipsy with happiness, ‘my Laxmi Bai doesn’t stand a chance in hell! Her biggest heist has been a kilo of sugar at the most….’ And just as I had prophesied, the doorbell rang post elections and Laxmi Bai strode in red-faced. ‘No one voted for Work Hard with Laxmi …’ tears filled her eyes as she clanged about the kitchen, ‘everyone voted for Haath ki Safaee with Sarita’
But I still have my vote left and so do you. Let’s not let Laxmi bai down.
Let’s vote for the truth.

DNA SUNDAY Funny Bone 5th April 2009

Sunday, March 22, 2009

EXAMS GIVE ME FEVER!!



'Final exams begin on the….’ My heart begins pounding wildly as I scan the kids’ calendars. No! It can’t be? Is it already the end of the year? ‘Mom I need help with these sums’ a MATH paper comes flying at me. I stare stupidly at the pages and last night’s hangover comes back with a vengeance. What is all this gibberish? Who invented all this? Don’t people have anything else to do besides spend hours creating a bunch of problems for others? I smile weakly at the twins, ‘you know, it’s really very simple…all you have to do is…umm…well’ I’m desperately trying to figure a way to slime out of this embarrassing situation. Moms are supposed know everything right? Well not this mom! Heck, the only mental math I can do is when there’s sale on at Mango. That’s when my mathematical agility kicks in to snag a cool pair of shoes at half price on an over extended credit limit! Never mind that they still cost a bomb and that I really don’t need another pair or another handbag and some more perfume… ‘Mom! You’ve read it out ten times but how do we solve it?’ My twins glare at me reproachfully. A car is traveling at 180km/hr trying to overtake another; at what point will they be traveling at the same speed? They repeat the blooming question just in case I’ve spaced out, which I have. ‘It depends really…’ I mutter uncertainly. ‘On whether it’s headed to a mall or to work’ Hubby’s back from golf and stands there thoroughly enjoying my discomfort. The twins heave a huge, undisguised sigh of relief. ‘Daddy’s back! He’ll know how to solve it!’ This is so not fair! My heart breaks into million pieces and tears threaten to fall. It’s not my fault that the only numbers to catch my interest happen to be stamped on merchandise tags. It’s the blasted gene pool I come from that I’ve landed with the computing abilities of a kindergartener! It’s a do or die situation for me as I wrack my brains frantically to redeem myself. I’ve got to get my kids to think of me as the next Madame Curie, well at least till 6th grade, after that I’ll think of something else to dazzle them with, when I have a Eureka moment! ‘Let’s see if daddy can answer this one….’ I sneer maliciously, ‘when is the best time to grab a Tommy Hilfiger bag during the sale period? Do you pick it up at 25% discount or take a chance and wait it out for a week for it to get to 50%?’ Minutes tick by anxiously and the twins are on the edge now. ‘Come on daddy you know the answer to this one! Don’t you?’ The Hubby flashes a sweet smile in my direction and shrugs helplessly. ‘You know kids I think your mommy’s got me on this one. I really don’t know the answer’ he drawls. Something’s not right here! This is not what I expected. I was looking forward to a nice bloodbath where I would grandly launch into a mesmerizing analysis of how to shop smart during a sale. When his next words make my fevered brain pause its murderous thoughts. ‘It really doesn’t matter what speed the two cars are going at, they are bound to meet up somewhere, aren’t they dahling?’ And the look in his eyes sends my fever soaring even if it is annual examination time.

Sunday DNA Funny Bone 22nd March 2009


Saturday, March 7, 2009

WHO SAYS WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS?


Here I was this Sunday morning blissfully sipping my chai, trying to recover from the excesses of yet another midnight party when, ‘What is it with you women?’ My normally mild mannered spouse suddenly snorted angrily from behind the newspaper, jolting me out of my stupor. ‘One day you run riot over your rights to red roses, sexy lingerie and chocolates. The next minute you’re suing the living daylights out of us claiming sexual harassment if we send you a naughty joke!’ What on earth is he raving on about? I thought to myself. By now he had gone quite red in the face. It was obvious that the chappie was getting hotter under his collar and was probably in the danger of exploding pretty soon with whatever was bothering him. And where was maid Laxmi bai when I needed her to butt in? I stole a peek at the headlines and froze. Oh no! There was my mug splattered across the page, with the headline shrieking ‘Women rule the roost! Men are just two hoots!’ it was the Women’s Day interview that I had so eagerly given a few days ago that had turned up to ruin my day. ‘This, this takes the cake’ he jabbed angrily at the paper, ‘Sonja says, we women can never have headaches, we have to perform, come what may…ha! That’s news!’ he guffawed. That did it!

I was done battling a household filled with maniacal maids, never-ending geriatric grouses, fancy food fetishes, crazed kids while trying to look like Victoria Beckham. I was more than outdone trying to be super woman, bionic girl and cat woman all rolled into the XX chromosome! All I ever wanted was a few hours to write that bestseller. Tears stung the back of my eyes; I stood up shakily, adjusted my crumpled pajamas as arrogantly as I could, flicked back my bed head and glared angrily at the love of my life. ‘You men are truly from Mars…all you think about is food, sex and yourself, in that precise order’ I hissed in my iciest voice, ‘there’s more to a relationship you Martians will never understand.!!’ when Laxmi Bai barged in and mercifully pulled me into the kitchen before the pair of us launched into a full blown battle of the sexes.
Two hours and many soothing cups of chai later, here’s my maid Laxmi bai’s tale that changed our world -

A father decides to share the secret to his long and happy marriage with his newly wed son. Son, remember to lay down the rules of the house right from day one. On our wedding night I took off my pants and asked your mom to wear them. I can’t fit into them she confessed. And you never will coz I wear the pants in this house I told your mom and look at us we’ve been happily married ever since. Impressed, the newly wed bloke takes off his pants on his wedding night, asks his wife to do get into them and rattles off the same dialogue.

The newly wed wife smiles, takes off her pants.

Get into them darling she murmurs seductively.

I can’t! The husband gasps.

She nods, that’s right and you never, ever will darling if you don’t change that attitude of yours….

Happy international Women’s Day to all you gorgeous men out there!!

Published in DNA Sunday Funny Bone (Women's Day) 8 March 2009

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

ARE YOU READY TO PARTY?




I have a confession to make.
Weekends have begun to have a rather queer effect on me these days. The very mention of doing dinner and wham! I break out into a cold sweat... Ever since the expressway zoomed into our Puneri lives, a new breed of party animals have insidiously invaded our addas and taken Partying to an AXN art form, packing in chills, thrills and spills once night falls. It all begins with a very glossy, glamorous, out-of-this-world invite that completely seduces your simple Puneri soul making you forget the nostalgia of informal potluck dinners. ‘What am I going to wear?’ my acne, hives and allergies swing into high drive as I begin agonizing about everything from my mousey hair to my callused toes. Of course hubby, kids and maid Laxmi bai can’t seem to understand why I’ve lost my marbles over a simple dinner invite and insist on adding their two bit advice that ranges from – ‘it’s only a dinner party’ to ‘mommy you look beautiful even in your pajamas’ to ‘Memsahib, eating out is making you fat!’.
But the seeds of desire have been sown...
And the small town guppy will do anything to swim with the big city sharks. ‘This is outrageous!’ laid back hubby sputters, misses his golf swing and messes up his handicap when he sees the bill I’ve just run up at the latest designer boutique. ‘Hai ram! What have you done to your hair?’ Laxmi bai screeches when I walk in looking like a golden retriever. ‘Arrey you are an Indian, memsahib not some phirang!’ she spits contemptuously!
Annoyed, I storm out to the malls to find that one elusive gift that will earn me yet another exclusive dinner invite in the days to come. By the evening, I’ve found an abstract that looks suitably abstracted enough to gather serious appreciation from my host. By 8pm, I look like a million dollars, having spent nearly as much; I take a deep breath and step forth to make my grand entry into the elite circle…
Two hours later at the fancy venue, the only ones who have witnessed my grand entry are the waiters and the bandwallahs… who are presently trying very desperately to keep us awake by plying us with wine and song and constantly assuring us that the hosts will turn up any minute. ‘Are you sure we’re at the right place? Did you read the time right? I’ve got to catch a flight tomorrow!’ By now its 11pm, my stilettos are killing me, my make up is fading fast, my tummy’s rumbling and my yawns are getting louder. ‘It’s time to leave’ my exasperated hubby hisses, when suddenly the party animals descend. There’s no way one can exit now. The glamour, the paparazzi, the scintillating talk, all keep you hooked till you stagger out at an unearthly hour, a changed person. ‘Memsahib, this is Indian Standard Time. Kuch time peh nahin hota! (Nothing is ever on time!) Just go to bed, wake up at midnight and head out!’ Laxmi bai decrees through a mouthful of paan.
So that’s my mantra for the next Pune party.
Hopefully, I’ll be wide awake and rocking this time round!
Published in DNA Funny Bone Sunday March 1 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009

MY PINK CHADDI VALENTINE

‘It’s Valentine’s Day this weekend’ I announced gleefully to my husband throwing him a rather corny, seductive look. ‘Let’s paint the town red!’ The effect on the poor man was quite terrifying. He turned frightfully pale, ‘I don’t think it’s a great idea’ he muttered under his breath, glancing about fearfully. ‘You never know what these Ram ke Sena will do if they caught us buying a card…’ My vision of a candlelight dinner, red roses, chocolates, all the ingredients to celebrate eternal love, went for a toss. Instead, I shivered with fright, remembering the shameful incident that took place in a Mangalore pub recently when young girls were the target of the moral police. Can I safely walk down the street in a sleeveless top, wearing jeans, with my male cousin, clutching a bouquet of roses for my ailing aunt on Valentine’s Day without getting pounded into a pulp and molested by a bunch of zealots? I asked myself.
It’s comical that apart from battling terrorists, we must now spend our energies controlling the Indian Taliban that roams our streets, frothing at the mouth over red roses, spaghetti tops and jeans! Appalled, I turned to Laxmi Bai, my paan chewing, beedi smoking maid for some expert slumdog advice on tackling Valentines Day Vandals-
‘There’s only one way to straighten these goondas out…’ Laxmi’s kohl rimmed eyes hardened; she squatted down and lit up a beedi. Minutes ticked by as I waited anxiously for her Pearls of Wisdom. ‘Become a BANDIT QUEEN and ARM UP! Carry a weapon. The meaner looking the better. Flash it around conspicuously. A tiny whip in a handbag won’t set the alarms off, but they sure do pack a sharp sting!’ she rasped out angrily through a cloud of smoke. ‘Next, remember to HEEL IT. Those pencil thin stilettos you go dancing in memsahib’ She picked up a pair, ‘are deadlier than a knife!’ and slashed open my leather sofa just to drive home her point. ‘Then there’s the ever faithful CHILLI. You can never go wrong with this spice’ she whipped out the blood red packet from somewhere deep within her choli. ‘Next defense is the ACID TEST’ Laxmi was on a roll now. She raced to the kitchen and returned with a glass of water. ‘Take it one level higher. Keep a bottle of water handy and then fling it wildly at them, screaming Tezaab!!’ I stood up, adrenaline pumping; ‘Valentines Day here I come’ I shrieked wildly ready to battle a battalion of louts just to grab a red rose.
‘Calm down memsahib’ she laughed scornfully. ‘My nephew tells me there’s a better way to sort out these goondas’ and she whipped out a pair of bright pink chaddis! ‘Join the Pink Chaddi Army! Send a pair of your laciest, prettiest pink and not so pink chaddis to these hooligans and let them know who wears the pants in this country! That in a nation that worships Laxmi, Saraswati and Durga, they dare not awaken the MahaKaali! Or else there will a deluge of chaddis that’ll smother them to death!’ I was stunned. Pink Chaddis? Will this flimsy piece of lace stop these bloodthirsty mongrels? ‘Everyone’s sending in their chaddis. From Malegaon, Goregaon, Talegaon, Koregaon…all shapes, sizes…they’re pouring in like rain’ Laxmi Bai smiled, when suddenly, her eyes misted over, ‘I bought this new pair. Cost me my Ramu’s medicines. But Ramu insisted. He said, ‘Laxmi, you need to save your freedom right now…. before it’s too late!!’
POST SCRIPT: This is the piece that was to appear in the column but didnt...the more sedate version debates whether we should really Valentine or Not....let me know what you really think of this issue...post Valentine fever.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS....OR NOT...

Here I was happily hurtling through the haze of Xmas parties, merrily battling late nights, hazaar outfits and pounding hangovers, when one of those Devil wears Prada gal pals we women invariably seem to get stuck with, called up and ruined the final countdown to the New Year for me.
‘Sooo dahling what’s your New Year resolve?’ she trilled loudly, triggering off a headache. ‘I hope you’re going to do something about losing all that weight that’s settled on your hips this time’ she drawled on in a fake London accent. ‘And while you’re at it dahling, you must get yourself a complete makeover, it’ll take the years off your face’ 'And not to mention the smile of my hubby’s face' I muttered under my breath, imagining him trying to figure out who the heck lurked underneath all that greasepaint.

‘So what are your New Year resolutions’ I tried changing the topic.

That did it!

She proceeded to rattle off her freaky fitness program that involved every possible exercise that exists on this planet. Then came the excruciating details of the wondrous diet that keeps Madonna so well pickled and preserved, followed by a list of fat free recipe websites guaranteed to make one look like a celery stick in a week! An agonizing hour later, she was still at it, waxing eloquent about a fashion tip that makes your paunch vanish in minutes, when I finally hung up on her completely convinced that the size of some people’s brain is directly proportionate to their dress size… Aren’t New Year resolutions supposed to be inspirational? Why should they all be so sweaty and so darn competitive?

I decided to find out just what the rest of my pals New Year resolutions were. And boy was I in for a rude shock!

Half of my champagne swigging, table top dancing girlfriends had suddenly turned over a new and utterly boring leaf with dump the booze, stub the stub, battle the bulge and get fit and fine to enroll for Amazing Race Asia agendas! The guys were even !!!

The Art of Living, Past Life regression, Transcendental Meditation, Chakra Cleansing! Everything remotely spiritual had replaced bawdy jokes, burping competitions and beer bellies.

I guiltily poured myself a glass of Merlot and sneaked a peek at my pathetic and utterly ordinary resolutions. And they read like this –
I will wake up every single day at 5am regardless of late nights, cat fights and any other equally creative excuse to write the bestseller that’s supposedly trapped inside me. I will read more than just jokes, horoscopes, cartoons, agony columns and other enjoyable trash so that people actually believe I am an author. I will stop trying to squeeze my guts, glutes and everything else that’s fabulously forty into clothes from Planet Anorexia. I will wallop all those thirty year olds who dare address me as ‘Aunty, Bhabhi’ or any other name that makes them feel younger. I will defiantly shake my sagging booty with élan on the dance floor like Gloria from Madagascar. I will laugh, leap and love every single day of the wondrous year ahead, because I have decided to Live Life Queen size…and so should you, New Year resolutions or not..

(DNA Sunday 'Funny Bone' Column Jan 4th 2009)