Thursday, January 19, 2017

A suitable wife

Karan Johar is making headlines yet again. This time for his memoir 'Unsuitable Boy', which perhaps aims to inform all those who have been living under a bed without ideas about him and Bollywood.

I haven't read the book yet. I don't know if I would anytime soon either, because others' pillow whispers do not entice me.
However, the book's title seduced me. If I were to write my memoir anytime, I could easily borrow from his title, because often times I've wondered if I'm a normal common wife or a weirdo. And the fact is I can't subscribe to any one of the social definitions of a wife.
For instance, kitchen is my favourite place at home. Like all dutiful wives, I understand.

I love it spacious, open and inviting in all white, candle lit and smelling of pink roses at all times. How I love a book case, beside a huge glass window and me munching on cookies in PJs reading my fav authors slumped on the kitchen floor. The very thought turns me on. Seriously.
Well equipped, yes. All gadgets sleekly accommodated, please. A table with fresh flowers and birds-chirping music playing all-day long.
As for dishes, I love it all in porcelain. I'm fine with any cuisine. Thai, Indian, Chinese, Arabic, Italian... as long as it's ready-to-eat and am served.
My parents never considered it important to teach me kitchen skills and my mom-in-law never bothers. The husband has always been absolutely adjustable. He can survive on bananas and dates and make his own stuff. So I never bothered to care.
I hate planning meals in advance. Most often, I order food on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Eat out on Fridays. Cook on Saturdays, rest on Sundays and go instant on Mondays.
I had friends who took cookery classes before their wedding. It's time I check on them to see how different is their married life from mine. And then I have elderly cousins, who advice me on a wife's responsibilities about feeding her family.
Now, this gets me to the other so-called wifely duty - Maintaining relations. Calling up both families and asking upon their well-being at regular intervals. Parents and in-laws alone won't suffice. Chacha, mama, mami, ammai, tintu, mintu, chiku... the whole bandwagon. All well? How are you all? Is your nose running still? Did aunty go for her massage? Is uncle's gastro smelling bad... please!
Oh yes, and you need to know the aunt of your cousin's mother-in-law's third uncle's wife. If you do not recognise the person, you had it. First they attempt helping you recollect. Can't you remember, we had gone down north, along the road, by the paddy field, to a granny's house for her fourth daughter's third child's naming ceremony. That time, there, one person came to you and spoke. How can you forget him? Such as big man he is, and you forgot him!
All the chinus and minus and unis and ponies, young and old - I love them all. And respect a few who deserve it. But communication I reserve to my convenience. For two reasons: 1) Not with everyone can I have a conversation beyond a limit without losing my sanity. 2) Therefore, if I happen to speak only to a select few then like wild fire the news spreads 'Nisha calls them not us!'
So I play fair. Meet and greet and mind my step. And if you thought social media makes communication easier? That's a circus at a different level. Emojies and a husband are the perfect partners to my rescue.
Well, so that gets me to the point. Am I a suitable wife?
I asked my girl. "Do you think mama is a suitable wife?" [I started explaining to her the context but she was aware of Karan Johar's book already. My baby is growing up fast]
"Well, mama, no one can be perfectly suitable!"
Aawwe! my baby! I got up to hug her, when she said, "except for my papa, who is 10 on 10, always!"

Saturday, December 17, 2016

My drive with a Pakistani... around Kashmir

Would you hold a potato to an adult and ask if it's a potato, without risking your sanity? Well, today a cabbie asked me, "Are you Indian?" Even a blind can figure the Indian in me...

I hailed this cab and the grumpy-looking driver's first question was my destination. The second, which followed no sooner than I answered the first, was confirming my nationality. He turned back and threw a more scorn-filled look in acknowledgment. The young chap was silent for about 2 minutes, studying me through his rear-view mirror.

He turned and announced without ado, "I am from Pakistani Kashmir."


He continued looking at me through the mirror. His eyes bitter, yelling a hundred withheld emotions. Whoever said eyes speak, is so right!

"It's a beautiful place." I said.

He turned and queried with visible hatred, "Which place?"

"Kashmir," I said.

"Your government doesn't let us live in peace. Everyday killing. Only my mother and sister live there. So I moved them to another place, 21kms inside."

I smiled in reply. And received more scorn.

"You are a responsible son." I tried.

He didn't thaw. Instead, crinkled his brows in contempt.

I remained quiet for a few minutes and then tried again, "I have many Pakistani friends."

Now he turned back, possibly to take a new look at me, when I said, "They are all so nice people."

He nodded. "People are nice, madam. Politicians are causing problems."

I smiled. And lo!, the cabbie smiled too.

Then, there was no stopping him. He took a u-turn, changed the route to bypass traffic, shared with me his sister's experience at taking a driving licence, how he completed his graduation, how he loves Anil Kapoor and Akshay Kumar, how crazy his dad was about Amitabh Bachchan...up until how he's now waiting for an interview call from Dnata as he is tired of driving.

At the end of the 40-minute drive, the handsome chap [yep, once he shed his grumpiness, he was a cute fellow] refused to take the full fare.

"Not all customers speak, madam. You are educated that's why you speak differently..." He gave me his reasons.

I gave him mine. How his company demands he fulfill his target and how every fil matters at the month-end.

At last, he let me get-off only after I promised that I will ride with him again.

"On full discount, madam."
"Full discount! what's that? In all these years, I've not heard of discounts on taxi rides!"

"I will not switch on the meter madam," he explained and shared his mobile number.

God Bless him!

PS: A few words spoken with the right intention will work wonders!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Stupid adults...get some life people!

Column in Hitavada on Dec. 1

I never wanted to write this. But the stupidity in people - those who pride themselves to be educated and well-positioned - has gotten me here. Am helpless like them, but am ashamed unlike them.

I am not an expert or a scholar nor am I interested in dissecting the government's demonetisation policy [I stand corrected. It's Modi's demonetisation. It's not the  government's nor the nation's. It's the Prime Minister's I'm given to understand]

Demonetization is like a massive tornado ripping apart everything along its way - families and friends

I am appalled by the impact the new policy has unleashed - it's like a massive tornado ripping apart everything along its way - families and friends are torn apart because they fail to anchor themselves.

And, yes, I'm not interested in talking of corruption either - apparently, the root cause for the current scenario in India.

My only concern is the divide the new policy has exposed. The great divide in the hearts and minds of the adults - the stupid, immature adults. And to imagine majority of adults are divided is shameful.

Modi-ism is the new scale of patriotism his supporters use to silence non-conformists

I've seen WhatsApp group arguments turn into ugly fights and buddies spewing venom on each other and calling off their friendship of decades because they do not endorse each other's opinion.

Modi-ism is the new scale of patriotism his supporters use to silence non-conformists. Modi-ism has also become the new licence for non-supporters to blame every vice around in the country on the government. The chasm is so deep that there is no middle path. While, the supporters are intolerant of those who attempt to reason or question, the non-supporters are intolerant of those who try to explain.

Modi-ism has also become the new licence for non-supporters to blame every vice around in the country on the government

One cannot merely state facts or empathize casually any more. You need to check in which august company you are in - else you'll be left in the cold to prove your identity to begin with.

Simple jokes aren't tolerated. Previously those who laughed together at husband-wife, Alia and Rahul jokes, now reach for the others' throats. At an event when an innocuous joke was made about Trump and Modi, a woman booed the person aloud and announced "I will not tolerate anything about our Prime Minister and his demonetisation policy." In yet another group a demonetisation supporter complained that she cannot tolerate some communities speaking non-sense.

Religious and community divide has always existed in our country, but we'd always remained buoyant

This is dangerous. This is pathetic. This is sad. The undercurrent has always been there. Religious and community divide has always existed in our country, but we'd always remained bouyant. However, the current intolerance is unprecedented.

On the one level, if experts and scholars debate on demonetisation vis-a-vis its economic, national and future impact, then on the mundane level common man debate the policy  vis-a-vis religion, faith and political allegiance.

What's the use of having a booming economy and a corruption-free system, if common man cannot tolerate each other, if they cannot accept one another? If political allegiance dictates friendship and religious allegiance dictates patriotism, then we should be ashamed to call ourselves humans.

Politicians - those in power and those powerless - will never acknowledge this divide, for they feast on it. And with the by-elections on and the major one fast-nearing, they will only stoke it, with social media adding fuel to the blaze.

If political allegiance dictates friendship and religious allegiance dictates patriotism, then we should be ashamed to call ourselves humans

It's up to us common man to break ourselves free. To begin with at least acknowledging the fact that irrespective of whether we endorse the new policy or not we are all equally helpless. Either group knows just as much. Both supporters and non-supporters of the demonetisation policy are fed by the same news channels and social media. The only difference is in what they choose to see and promote.

Policies and laws do not make life. They only aide in living. It's people who make life worth living

And given the fact, that social media and news channels need to be taken with a sack full of salt, isn't it wise to use our own grey cells and be inclusive in our approach towards our fellow human beings. When you are gone, if you dream of leaving a thriving land for your kids, then it has got to do with a change in mindset now. Simply because, policies and laws do not make life. They only aide in living. It's people who make life worth living.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Woman of Substance

How do I introduce her to my readers? I thought long and hard. No one word, no one adjective befits her. She is vibrant, energetic, cheerful, stylish, ambitious, professional, emotional, grounded, religious, loving, responsible, accountable... she simply flows.

Preethi D'Souza - the lady with a beatific smile and beautiful eyes! Yep, that's what strikes one at first glance. No sooner than we settle down than she zooms off. No barrels held.
The sacrificial lamb she was
And you soon wonder, is she speaking of herself or someone else? Married at a tender age of 19 into a business family in Mumbai, India, Preethi, then a fresh graduate, looked forward to marital bliss. By 25, with three kids in her arms, she realised she was stuck in a 'loveless' marriage.


Doting mom... The three loves of Preethi's life

Preethi attempted her best to become the woman of her husband's liking. Whenshe failed, she turned to her mom, who advised her to stay put, as "it would bring bad reputation to her two younger sisters".
Proud mom... her best friends

The beautician is born
So what did Preethi do? The determined woman that she has been, she returned to Dubai and continued to play the wife and mother and, yes, decided to spruce herself up. She successfully earned an international degree in cosmetology - 'CIDESCO' - from Zurich.
A moment to cherish... one for the album

Later, she requested her husband to help her setup a salon. When he dillydallied on his promise, she did the best she could. Preethi distributed brochures detailing the services she could offer among residents in the community. Soon, she found herself being a 'mobile beautician' - she carried her kit and visited clients at their homes. The bubbly person that she is, it wasn't long before she became the talk of the town. So, she turned the maid's room of her villa into her salon. But as business boomed, some jealous eyes threatened her of legalities. So she quickly wound that up and applied for a professional licence and set up her first salon in Dubai in 2010.
A mentor and guide she turns
Her professionalism combined with her warmth drew women in hordes towards her. They came not only for beauty treatments but also to share their woes. Preethi would give them all a patient ear and advice the best she could enabling them to stand on their feet and become financially independent.

Taking a break...way to chill!

As her counselling sessions increased, she was advised by her women clients to start a Facebook page in order to reach out to more women. And thus was born 'Moms World'. With 4,000+ members, Preethi had her hands and days full. She even organised an exhibition in Dubai - free of charge - where her mentees exhibited their handcrafts.
Lessons from naivety she learns
So was everything honky-dory? Well, Preethi being a Giver, people did take her for rides, utilising her for their own selfish ends and turning her down when she sought help. But the lovely lady does not pause to delve into details. "I bless them. Let them go." Large-hearted, indeed!
Meanwhile, she opened a branch of her salon 'Mothers World' in the neighbouring emirate of Sharjah. Unfortunately, she had to close it down a year later only because she does not believe in taking loans. A prudent businesswoman!
A new career beckons her
Does that dishearten her? Well, no way. She's one woman who leads a passionate life. She's  a sought-after Emcee, being a regular at community and church events, apart from hosting regular shows. This drive in her to connect with the larger world has led to her latest venture - Preethi is soon going to have a own show titled 'Lifestyle With Preethi', on one of the prestigious TV Channels of Dubai, where she will talk about relationships, movie reviews, beauty, health as well as introduce entrepreuners and share their success stories.
A charming host...leading with grace

Currently, she is looking for sponsors for the show who would join her in her endevour to inspire common man.
Heartbroken but spirits high
For she indeed, has come a long way, in her 39 years. The only time her hazel-eyes cloud is when she recollects how her husband moved back to India taking along with him all her three kids and she did not have a clue even. However, she soon collects herself, and shares with me how proud she is of her teenagers - two girls and a boy - who are independent and raring to take on life just as she is. It was her daughters who gave her the strength to call off the marriage. A fresh divorcee, Preethi says, "I pray for my husband every day."
She's moved on and there's no stopping her. Preethi is in talks with investors to launch franchises of her salon in Indian and other UAE cities. "I hate woman who crib, who cannot take care of themselves and find excuses to live their lives," she spats.
A role model, indeed
"I was body-shamed once for being too skinny, without a figure. I was too naive, I took it to heart then. Later, I stopped self-pitying. Today, I workout every day. There was a time, when I used to hit the gym at 5am in the morning, when my kids were with me. So I don't take excuses when women say they have family and responsibilities. Only you can take care of yourself," she explains. Tall and well-built, Preethi can give any model a run for their money.
A role 'model'...

Preethi's recently auditioned for the latest Bollywood Theme Park in Dubai, taking her dream to act in Bollywood movies a step closer. "Not only Bollywood, I'm ready for Hollywood, too," she says.
In fact, her penchant for jewellery and modelling is such that she questions retailers obsession with celebrities. "Local retailers must hire common women," she believes.
So how do I introduce Preethi to you? A woman of substance!!
Oh! Yes, all this what you read is just an introduction. Preethi's zeal to live life  to the fullest, every second of it in the best possible manner, cannot be captured in this blog space.
Suffice to say, her passion and energy are infectious and her warmth is contagious!
Here's wishing her the best always!
Continue inspiring as you conquer all your dreams, Preethi!
God Bless!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

I'm ashamed of wasting my Friday morning

'Breaking News': "South Indian Silsila"...

What a marriage of words! The media played it up and the passionate lot lapped it up.

Ugly statements, I-told-you-so buffs, blessings, predictions, sympathy, pity, tributes, photoshopp-ed  pictures and cheeky one-liners... Enough!

So how do I know the order? I am also guilty of having followed it for some time yesterday morning, before realising my shamefulness.

I've had a soft-corner for Munju Warrier - purely on the basis of what I read and heard in the media - all pass-me-down information.

But how am I authorised to conclude anything about another's marital life? Whatever  happened the way it happened can be only understood if we go in and reside inside the conscience of each of the three characters involved.

One: That's impossible. So let's not judge.

Two: There is no right and wrong. There's only perceptions.

Three: I will not take sides with either camp [supporting Dileep or Manju Warrier] who claim with pride to have smelled the smoke or seen the fire.


In my 20 years of experience as a journalist, I've played a shameless part in 'making' actresses pregnant and zooming in on the underpants of models only to create 'silsilas'  in order to have a 'Breaking News' for the day so that I could visit the ATM at the month-end.

Hope this explanation vindicates me of the guilt and shamelessness.

Marriage is an intricate union, which can 'survive' if it pacifies the dictates of a complex mind and impenetrable heart. Some choose to 'thrive' than merely 'survive'. That's when they become fodder to the average lot.

Yes, I wish more power to Warrier. May her be ultra-successful and achieve the highest rewards in what she chooses to do.

Yes, I wish more power to the newly-weds so they find the happiness and peace and whatever else it is that they seek to have through this union.

Now to the passionate Indians:

As adults each one of us has the right to choose a partner when we wish to and walk away when we feel it's not worth it.

But majority of us are blinded by misplaced passion and superficial correctness of how a relationship should work, based on beliefs. And unfortunately that begins at home. We need to settle down at a certain age, we need to take the permission of 1,2,3; we need to choose from a.b.c; we cannot look at x, y, z...

All you parents who are reading this:

Please understand the duty of a parent is to ensure your child stands on his/her own two feet. It ends there. Period. After that how they lead their lives, if they make mistakes, if they reap rewards... it's up to them. That's why we are bloody born on this planet. To grow, not to be spoon-fed and leashed in and moulded as adults...

Okay, enough, I'm veering off the subject.

God Bless!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Why I love Arnab Goswami

Let me confess outright here. I am NOT a fan of journalist Arnab Goswami and his whirlwind  'The Newshour'.
He disrespects Indian Constitution, which he hollers to be the uncoronated custodian of. He invites people to his show to work them up so mercilessly, denying them their basic right of expression. Modiji could explain the Fundamental Rights to him. Or perhaps, Smriti Irani could do that better. In matters of the mind, after all wavelength matters!
People love to hate him and all the same hate to love him, too. He may be loud, brash, arrogant, ignorant, impatient...possibly all of these and more. His attitude of 'my way or the high way' riles people and yet they tolerate him, when in the 21st century they have an easy option of switching channels without having to work their ass off.
Somewhere within, people fear missing him.
How else can you justify the reaction that his resignation has evoked. I find it ridiculous when people heave a sigh of relief that he's quit but are eager to know what's his next move. They blame him of impatience and they have got not an iota of it. People are enthusiastically guessing his next venture, when he's gonna return, where and how and with whom. Not satisfied, they have suggestions, too.
This is the average lot. Average minds tolerate people that fit into their mediocrity. They encourage people with pity to let them be or praise and eulogize them as one among them out there trying to make it. But once they cross over the bar and 'make it', then the lot considers it their birth right to shred them.
Arnab connects with the armchair-opinion-makers
Let's get this straight... Arnab has successfully managed to touch a cord in the masses. He connects with the armchair-opinion-makers. On issues that disturb them but are lazy to act upon or are helpless to support, he does the shouting and protesting on their behalf. Period. They let him stroke their ego on national issues. But when they have to take sides, their little selves within rise up. And they accuse him, lampoon him and talk ethics when they could easily IGNORE him.
Simply because, it is difficult to ignore success. It's in your face. You can acknowledge it or discard it, but you can't ignore it.
Arnab Goswami has changed the face of Indian media. Whether it is right or wrong or you endorse it or not, or if he's set of a disastrous trend, notwithstanding. This is the truth. And it is his passion that's got the world talking!
That's why I love this man - Arnab Goswami the individual, the person.
I love his passion and his unwavering dedication. He's clear about what he wants in life and he's worked towards it, without a care to the critics. That's the trait of successful people. They are focussed and let nothing hamper their vision. If only all of us could have such clear intent and make our respective lives worthwhile doing what we love instead of making one man's decision a colossal issue.
He is just one among the 7 billion-odd people on a small piece of rock, which in turn is spinning in empty space.
So relax guys!
Live your life, while you have it!

Monday, October 24, 2016

When the husband's pantry friends test my combo

Ready for dinner out... One of those days when I spare the family of my skills :)

The man of the house walked in yesterday after work and instead of his customary, "hello, how was your day," he asked, "what's for lunch tomorrow?"

"I haven't thought about dinner tonight, you wanna know tomorrow's lunch?" I guessed something was amiss.

"If you haven't prepared anything, then I'll cook!" he volunteered with a smile.

"Oh! that'll be great. But I'd appreciate if you could first place that laptop bag in your hand down, sloooowly, carefully that's the finest china we have and then with all your might kick off those socks in your favourite corner, but be careful of your toe, my love, your sole was aching yesterday..."

By then he began executing the tasks absentmindedly in order, "Oh! don't bother, just fling your trousers on the bed and spread the shirt on the treadmill, sleeves placed wide across please. Now that you've taken over the kitchen, I'll sit here fanning the armpits dry."

"Yea, I'll make a nice sabzi for chapati now. What was that combination you gave me today?"

Oh oh!

"When did combinations start bothering you?"

"Chapati and sambhar! Come on, is that any combination."

"Says who?" Zap, I got clarity now.

"Nobody. I'm saying..."

"They've never seen you mix banana shake in upma with lemon pickle. And that yucky smelly combination of dipping bread in egg yolk ..."

"Who they?" he was alert now, feigning ignorance and attempting damage control.

"Whoever that is who ridiculed you for eating chapati with sambhar in office today."

"They have a point, isn't it?"

"Why the hell should I get their point? Did you drive in them my points?"

"Of course, I defended. I said, I like sambhar with chapati."

"Not yours. Mine."

Lunch time in office...I've carefully pruned the picture :) 
By then his sidekick walked in listening to our conversation, " Hey papa, at least you are lucky. You have a car and money in your wallet. You can go out and eat yummy food or order. Think of me, I'm stuck with what she sends."

They stand embraced in a hug, as if I'm the biggest catastrophe they're stuck with.

"Listen, you Chipmunks, I'm NOT running an eatery here to pay heed to your friends' comments. Yes, I am a lousy cook. And I have no intentions of wasting time upgrading my kitchen skills than I already do. Is that clear. You two have no choice," I was elated with my delivery.

"Hello, hello. My papa can cook," And they squeeze one another yet again, "Nice tasty dishes!. Come on papa, you make dinner!"

"He can't just start yet baby. He'll need to discuss with his pantry friends for acceptable combinations."

"It's okay, papu. If it's not nice, say, mama made. What difference does it make!"