Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My husband’s woman friend

The first person my husband introduced to me, soon after we became man and wife was a woman.

He waxed eloquent about her efficiencies. His comments did little to arrest my sultry senses despite the cacophony at the wedding venue. If my disdain did little to stop her monologue, the wedding protocol failed as much.

Within minutes, I learnt she was a mother, a wife, an employee and, of course, was to be the default family friend.
Yes, ‘educated’, too.

My initial reservations about her were misplaced quickly as she took it upon herself to settle us into our married life. On hindsight, I guess, it was more of the casual I-don’t-fancy-older-women statement by the husband that made me like her.
She ensured we visited her every week, which I obliged as I had no other acquaintance in the new city. And she quickly put me at ease with her nineteen-to-the-dozen talks. From where to shop the best linen tops to which supermarket sold tomatoes at a cheaper rate, she knew it all.

Yep, she also detailed me on which banks offered the least-risk-associated credit cards.
Thanks to her, I cultivated a tolerance for numbers, a task even my best Math teacher failed to achieve.

A health freak, she had only salads for dinner, and forced us to eat the same, too, on our weekly visits. If we missed out on a week-end, she expected a convincing excuse.
Every weekend morning, as an alarm clock crying, would come her call. ‘You guys still sleeping?

You may please look for us in this picture

A month later, she landed home with a couple of guys and had the husband enrolled with the local cricket team, which played only over the weekend. “Exercise is the last thing on your mind, when you are newly-wed…” she reprimanded.
When I started job-hunting, she whole-heartedly took over the project. Decided which interviews I would attend and what salary I should negotiate on. “You’ve got media experience, then why the hell should you take up any job. Wait for a media opening,” she counselled.

Meanwhile, she introduced me to the local reading club and got me membership at the library.
I began admiring her. A super woman, indeed!

She has influenced my current home management technique as well. Every Saturday she planned what would be cooked the entire week. Cut onions; made ginger-garlic paste; cut at least three different vegetables; marinated meat & fish; made dough for chappatis… all went into the freezer in small containers marked for each day of the week.
On week days, she took a half-an-hour break after she returned from work at 5.30pm. Kids’ study-time, which she was hands-on, was from 6pm-8pm. By 9.15pm dinner was served for the family. Washing clothes was also done after the kids packed their school bags for the following day.

Not one school programme of her kids would she miss. “These are all memories for them.” She would avail leave on loss-of-pay or compensate by working over the weekend, but she ensured she was present to cheer her children.
I turned to her for any small hiccups I faced. I trusted her completely. She became my role-model!

A couple of years later, when I was expecting my baby, she took over the role of my mom. From cooking my favourite dishes to shopping for maternity wear and giving me the only-women tips, she was the one-stop guide that I looked up to. 
I secretly wished I could be a woman like her.

During my last trimester, as we sat chatting, she causally asked, “So Nisha, have you decided on a name for the baby?”
After a few minutes of baby talk, she said, “I pray that you have a baby boy.”

Excuse me!
At my puzzled stare, she took my hands in hers and said softly, “If the first child is a boy, then there’s no tension, you see. The second can be any.”

I didn’t know if I was carrying a baby boy or girl at that moment. But I knew I had lost my respect for her - That woman.

[Wedding cake and picture by Priya Sheen]

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Scene 1: A Character in office packs to leave early, because he has an evening flight to take.

Scene 2: A Character in office prepares to leave early, because he has an evening flight to take.

Can you identify the characters?

If you have got the answers, you may please get about your work.

If you have not, then carry on reading to find out how to add flesh and bones to give faces, torso, limbs, toenails [please leave the soul aside] to these characters.

First step is to spot the difference in the two sentences. The word ‘packs’ is replaced with ‘prepares’.


Yep. Character in Scene 1 invariably only packs up. Right from the moment he occupies his chair all he does is pack.

If there is an interesting cricket or soccer match, he packs up within an hour of making his presence felt.

If he has a parent-teacher meeting at his child’s school, he packs up immediately after breakfast.

If he has a board meeting, he packs up two days before with files and projects…

PREPARED by others.

Now if the others fail to prepare, will he miss his board meeting? Probably yes. But he still does his job of packing up. He simply packs the OTHERS up.

Got the characters? Please feel free to replace the He with She.


Just in case you are curious to know what inspired me to write this. Well, it’s a real-life situation. I will not name the boss or the employee. The employee submits his request for annual leave thrice in six months. The Boss finds excuses ‘valid’ enough to have him postpone each time. Finally, when his leave is granted, he books a flight on his last working day so as to avail the maximum hours at his destination.

That morning: As the employee is all excited chatting up his colleague, he receives an email.


Pls look into the attached files.  Also ensure the admin department’s issue is closed today.

And, yeah inform the team that I’ll be back next week. I’m off for a much-needed break.

Have a safe trip.



Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Anupam Kher – what a man!

I met Anupam Kher at the just concluded Emirates Literary Festival. What a man! Sitting amid the glamorous and eloquent Shobha De and a hi-profile moderator – the Indian Consul-General Sanjay Verma – he not only held his own, but did it with elan.

Those of you who know him, may wonder why I was surprised? Possibly, I expected a Bollywood star… though I always believed he is an Actor. This is after considering his body of work that includes a few mindless craps that passed off as comedies, too. And which, he says, he will continue doing.
He was there as the author of ‘The Best Thing About You Is You’. Infact, he was the best thing that happened to that panel discussion.

Consider this: At one point, when he failed to get the right words to express himself in English, he checked with his co-panelist Ms De. He couldn’t have given a damn for his image for seeking help in public. He was just being himself, as he professes.
Similarly, he was all hands and feet, driving his points home,  as Ms De was perched with poise, replying measuredly with that occasional wave of her manicured fingers and Mr Verma sitting imposingly with one of his feet resting over his other knee, throwing one-liners at regular intervals.

When Anupam Kher recalled how he discovered media clippings about himself in his father’s old trunk, I heard the box creak.
The entertainer in him couldn’t be shoved under the microphone!

When he described how he enjoyed paratha and egg, he just stopped short of licking his fingers. Interestingly, the context in which he said the paratha episode needs a mention. Apparently, he finds some people on Business Class on flights ‘comical’. “They will sit beside me, holding an Economic Times copy, ordering black tea without sugar and ignoring me for the whole duration of the flight only to give themselves away with a daft query at the end ‘So you are going to Delhi’?”
So, he loves being recognised and is not ashamed to say so!

And yes, I couldn’t but notice his radiance. A self-confessed positive person, I’m convinced he practices what he says, for only a free spirit can command such respect and adulation with serenity in public.
Exchanging a word with anyone who wanted to speak to him and posing patiently for pictures, he obliged all his fans at the venue. When he accepted my book, he asked , "Where's my name?" Hesitatingly I addressed the book to him and signed as fear gnawed my insides shouting at my audacity to surpass my station. But even as his staff urged him to leave and the crowd was getting more demanding, he stood still and read what I scribbled, in the worst handwriting I’ve ever written, teaching me a lesson. Believe in what you do!

Disclaimer: [For those of you who doubt the reason for my opinion thus]:  I would have written this piece as is sans the last interaction. I owed myself one from the day I watched his autobiographical play ‘Kuch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai’.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Nirbhaya case accused escapes life...A shame!

So the main accused in Nirbhaya case is no more. He gets away from trial at the high-security prison. He escapes life when he was allegedly under suicide watch.

So was it suicide? Well, let investigators and officials do their work.

In the event it was, indeed, a suicide, the ‘how’ did it happen, needs to be answered at least to the victim’s family, even as the fact remains that it means just one accused less. Simply because, it is presumed by one and all that anyway he would have been hanged.
So what difference if he did it by himself. If reports about the reason for him getting brutal with the girl are any truth then he has remained true to his salt. If the girl’s defiance and her bite hurt his ego for him to go fatally berserk, then he was unlikely to have his end prescribed by others.

Now, even in the event it was not a suicide, there is serious explanation required. Security lapse is appalling. Pathetic. A case that crossed boundaries to reach across continents; one that is helping revise dud laws to protect its women; one that continues to see unparalleled discussion, being handled with such disdain will be unpardonable.
This is a case that is often introduced as the one that stirred the nation’s conscience. Then we really need to ask whose conscience it has nudged? If this case has not stirred those people who protect the system, then what will?

This would put India to shame once again!
Nevertheless, just in order to see some hope in his end, let’s assume it will put pressure on his accomplices and many others roaming free fancying innocent females.