Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Of Nike

Dee and SAB have done this fun tag where they listed seven weird things about their partners. And even as I was reading their posts, I was making a list of all the weird things Nike does.

So without much further ado, here is the list:

1.   Nike is obsessed about his hair, or specifically, about losing his hair. He used to oil it EVERY SINGLE DAY, much to my irritation. After much whining on my part, he now oils his hair every other day only (and says he will blame me if he loses his hair!). And he uses an expensive, special oil meant for hair growth. Now all this will make sense if the man had thinning/balding hair but he is blessed with a head full of thick hair so I just don’t understand his paranoia. He’s even calculated how much it will cost for him to undergo hair-weaving treatment if the need arises, and says he felt relieved when he found out it was well within his means – and he was NOT joking!
2.   His attitude to money is very weird. When he has money, he will blow it up like its Christmas every day. If he likes something, he will buy it without even looking at the price tag. And when he doesn’t have money, he will happily sit at home and not spend a penny the whole month! He has lakhs owing to him from a previous employer – after a few months of trying to get the money from him, he’s simply shrugged and given up. Sometimes, I think about it and feel bad for him, but it really doesn’t bother him at all. He recently lost 15000 bucks and it didn’t pinch him much. ‘It’s just money’’ is the thought that defines his attitude to it.
3.    He’s bloody good at everything he takes up! When he takes up something, he shows incredible commitment towards it and works very, very hard at it. When he started DJing at IIMB, he ended up getting professional offers! Six years after IIMB, people mail him to tell him they were at a party, and that they wished he was there to play music. He started cooking when he was in Singapore and within a few months he got so good that when friends hosted parties, they’d call him up and ask if he could bring along his special biryani or his kebabs to the party.
His latest love is photography. He’s been into it only for a year and a half now, but he’s been featured in the Flickr Hall of Fame, has been shortlisted for a National Geographic contest, and even been paid hundreds of dollars by Getty Images for his photos. He has thousands of people visiting his Flickr and FB pages and each photo of his gets hundreds of comments. Gah!
4.   He LOVES shoes. He’s like a male Carrie or something. He can’t resist buying shoes every few months. If we happen to be in a mall or a market, he will inevitably go and check out some shoes. He recently bought a pair of shoes and he loved them so much he wanted to buy another pair of the same, only in a different colour this time!
5.     He swears by the wisdom of ‘prevention is better than cure’. If he so much as coughs or sneezes, he will completely give up on cold water, take a medicine and stay indoors. If he runs a slight fever for one day, that is enough for him to start on antibiotics. That said and done, he handles illness very calmly – doesn’t curl up in bed and moan for mother like someone else in this house (ahem) does.
6.    He looks good in just about everything. When we first started shopping together, I’d be alarmed at some of the stuff he’d pick out because it looked too weird or funky. And he’d try it on, and he would totally pull it off. If you think this is a biased wife speaking, then ask Samee. The first time she came shopping with us, she was gob smacked at how Nike looked good in everything he tried on. After seeing this for a few years now, she’s told him she’d like him to be her model if she ever gets a designer line out for men.
P.S: If you think it’s a good thing, it’s not! For my self-esteem, that is. I forbid Nike from trying on anything when I go on a mission to buy jeans. The experience is traumatic by itself without the man effortlessly fitting into every single pair in the showroom. Hmph!
7.   With the exception of biryani, he cares very little for food. He never craves for a particular type of food, like other normal human beings do at times. If you were to tell him that he will be denied a particular food for the rest of his life, he wouldn’t be too bothered by it. All this with the exception of biryani of course.
I can write much more about Nike and his eccentricities but I think I have done enough damage for one day. ;-)

Friday, December 02, 2011

Two Years and Counting

Today we complete two years of being married. And it's been a great ride so far*. 

We had a small, pleasant dinner with family today. In a few hours, we are off to Kerala for a holiday. We intend to relax by the lake side, where I will read and my husband** will take pictures. We will spend a day in a houseboat which will be all to ourselves***. And we will explore Kochi. I am really looking forward to this, and I need to go now and pack so that I am not short of books, clothes or sunscreen (in that order!).

For our anniversary, Nike gifted me the entire Tintin collection. *big grin*. I ordered a whole bunch of things for him but they are all coming from abroad and the shipment has been delayed so I can't talk about it till they are here. :-(

Since his gifts have been delayed, I decided to order a very special cake for now. I happened to hear about this lady who makes gorgeous novelty cakes and got in touch with her; we discussed themes in great detail, she sent some designs and finally this is what she made for us:

Isn't it the the most fabulous cake ever? I'm totally, utterly, completely wowed by it. 

* On the days when we fight , I console myself by saying that atleast we haven't yet killed each other. Though my family and friends predict that it will be Nike who will eventually kill himself for having to deal with me! With friends like this.....
** It took me two whole years to start referring to him as 'my husband'. For the longest time, I couldn't bring myself to say the word. So much so that I would tell random people that he was my boyfriend or my friend, simply because I couldn't say the word out loud. I've finally learnt to say it, and I'm now enjoying how it sounds.
*** Well, except the boatmen and the cook of course, and I wouldn't want to get on to any houseboat without them!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The One in Which I Italicise. A Lot.

The Pondicherry trip was okay. I would have enjoyed it a lot more if Nike hadn’t cribbed through the two days. Sure, we didn’t get anything to eat on the train to Chennai, and the bus to Pondicherry broke down, and the next bus we got on to had standing space only, and Auro beach was dirty and stinking and Auroville was closed by the time we got there, but STILL.

In Pondicherry, we didn’t do much. We stayed at a lovely heritage home. I love these old heritage homes, with their high ceilings, wide open courtyards, wooden beams and heavy doorknobs, and this one was all that and more. They served vadas and dosas and idlis for breakfast and it was all just perfect (see how I italicise all those words like I’m an Indian Writing in English, which I am, but I meant like a published author writing literary stuff, you know).

Anyway. We ate a lot in Pondicherry. We went to all these places where they served Creole cuisine. The food was expensive but very good. Nike complained that Creole cuisine seemed no different from the generic Continental cuisine but I said that was okay because Creole = French, and France is a part of the continent. He wasn’t reassured so on the final day he said we should eat the local cuisine which was Chettinad cuisine. And I said no, the local cuisine is Karaikudi cuisine. No matter, he said, and took me to Anjappar where we asked for Chettinad Chicken and got served Pepper Chicken instead. We enjoyed it until we found out it was Pepper Chicken and not Chettinad Chicken, and then we felt quite betrayed and disappointed. I theorised that we should never eat at chain restaurants that open branches abroad because then their focus is on their foreign branches, while the poor locals have to deal with sub-standard food and service.

We drove down to Auro Beach one evening, and it was dirty and stinking and Nike said “Gah! Vizag beach is a hundred times better than this” and I felt inordinately pleased; though in retrospect, I’m not exactly sure that was a compliment. We then drove to Auroville which was closed by the time we reached there but I was determined to enjoy the tiny little villages we drove through, except that Nike started a long discussion about why people would want to leave everything to come and live in an ashram in the middle of nowhere, and I gave him millions of reasons why people would want to do so, but he didn’t find any of the reasons convincing so I told him sternly that he shouldn’t judge other people by his own warped world view, but I don’t think he cared much for my words of wisdom. Oh well!

We walked up and down the promenade quite a bit, and it felt good to just sit and watch the waves crashing against the rocks. We also drove around the quaint French Quarter, which was simply lovely, and it made me want to go and live in France. Though I suppose I could as well go and live in Pondicherry! Apparently, Pondicherry is also home to 153 temples – which isn’t really surprising because there is a temple.on.every.single.street – but we didn’t visit any.

Our bus ride back to Chennai was eventful, to say the least. We got on to a bus which went by the bypass road instead of the ECR, and then the conductor convinced us to get off at this place called Perungalathur which is on the outskirts of Chennai. The auto drivers asked for 500 bucks!, yes you read that right, 500 bucks! to take us to the city.

Instead, we decided to take the local train, which cost only 12 bucks for the two of us, and where I had my own Alaipayuthey/Sakhi/Saathiya moment. I got into the ladies’ compartment and Nike got into the adjoining general compartment, and then I realised that my phone, wallet and ticket were all with Nike. And so at the next stop I ran into the adjoining compartment, which could as well have been a men’s compartment since it had only men (duh!), and pushed my way through the men, all the while urgently calling out for Nike. Every single person in the compartment was staring at me, and when I finally found Nike, there was a hushed silence, and I felt like they were all waiting for me to do something filmy, (like maybe hug him and burst into tears?). Instead, I took my wallet, phone and tickets from him, and ran back to my own compartment, leaving our audience very disappointed. Such drama in our lives, I tell you!

After this, we reached Chennai safe and sound, and made it to the wedding in time. The bride was looking absolutely radiant and lovely, and the groom was looking decent, which is saying a lot for him (BJ, I hope you’re reading this). We congratulated the happy couple, thulped the yummy food and headed back to the hotel for a night out with the gang. It shows how much we have matured over the years that everyone stayed sober that night. Well, that’s not really true, but nobody got drunk either and we all turned in by 2.30 that night, and some of us even woke up at 5am that morning and made it to the wedding on time, while the rest trooped in for breakfast. This new-found discipline and punctuality is a sure sign of old age.

So that’s all about Pondicherry and Chennai. I had more adventures on my way to Bhubaneswar and I had a great time at home in Vizag for Deepavali but for now, I’ll leave you with this much. How was your Deepavali?

Friday, October 21, 2011


  Finally, finally, finally I have my life back! 
   So here is what happened in the last one month:   

  • I had a good trip to Kashmir. A very fruitful work trip. I also met some really warm, wonderful people and made new friends. And managed to do a bit of sightseeing. Kashmir, and its people, are totally enchanting, and I’m going to be back soon.

  • I also went to Dehradun for two days on work. I spent most of those two days in the airport but it was a good trip work-wise.

  • I finally managed to get started on one of the personal projects I was ranting about in the previous posts. It’s just a start, but it’s a good start, and it’s given me some confidence that I can do it. There is more work on that project coming up in November but now I have the confidence to handle it.

  • I gave the GRE, and did pretty well, considering I had absolutely no preparation. Since it’s the new format the results won’t be out till mid-November, but at the end of the test the computer told me that the equivalent score according to the old format was in the 1500-1600 range. I understand that’s a very good score, so I am quite pleased with my performance.

  • I also sat for an exam for one module of my distance learning course, and I didn’t do as badly as I expected. I think I stand a good chance of passing. So that’s over and done with. And I am not taking up the next module till January so I get some breathing time.

·         After all these trips and exams came Nike’s brothers wedding. The wedding was in Delhi but there were a lot of pre and post wedding events that kept us busy. It was a lot of fun, with people coming down from across the country to celebrate, and there were so many people and so many festivities it made me quite dizzy. But lots of fun was had, everything went off very smoothly, and the happy couple is now in Europe on their honeymoon while we continue to be disoriented and tired and suffer from the empty house syndrome.

I’m back to work, and I’m still a little disoriented from l that’s been happening, but I’m slowly getting back into the groove, and looking forward to a more relaxed life where I go to office, do my work, and relax in the evenings. Day before, after work, I met up with Srinu (who’s here from the US) for a brief while and then hung out at Gloria Jeans at Inorbit with Samee.

Yesterday, Nike and I went to a random Telugu movie – it’s called Pilla Zamindar, and while I’m loathe to call it a bad movie given its interesting concept, it’s a badly made movie with awful production values, so it’s probably much kinder to think of it as a tele-serial. We then went out for dinner; ArmyMan was supposed to join us but he ditched in the last minute (and today he calls to ask if I want to meet for lunch on a day when I’m swamped at work!!!). And after dinner, we came home and watched an episode of Dexter and I even read for a while (‘The Wish Maker’ by Ali Sethi).

It’s been so long since I’ve had such normal, relaxed days that I am truly relishing this time. Sometimes, I feel guilty about wasting my time when I should be studying/ working on my personal projects/working to meet some deadline – and then I catch myself and tell myself that I don’t have to feel guilty any longer, my time is finally mine. Life is good!

Tonight Nike and I leave for Pondicherry – I’ve been wanting to go there forever, and we’ve finally found the time and opportunity to make a quick trip. From Pondicherry to Chennai for BJ and Maggu’s wedding – I’ve been telling them how happy I am that Maggu is finally make an honest man of BJ, and that they mustn’t forget the key role I played in bringing them together, and I’d love to tell you guys the story but it isn’t fit for family forums like this, really. I will be meeting the rest of the gang in Chennai too and it’s been so long since I met them so I’m really looking forward to this.

From Chennai I am going to Bhubaneswar for two days on work. AND from Bhubaneswar I am going to Vizag for just one day, but that one day is Deepavali, and for now, I can live with that. I didn’t think I would get to go home for Deepavali, what with the festival falling bang in the middle of the week, and the travel to Chennai and all, but things somehow came together and I’m going to be in Vizag for just that day and I’m happy. It’s not that we celebrate with a lot of dhoom-dhamaka - Samee is scared of fireworks and crackers and while I really enjoy them, I’ve given up on them for the past couple of years – but I haven’t been home for a single festival this year so I am happy I am finally making it to the last but one festival.

Oh! And my poor, neglected blog turned seven this month. SEVEN years, y’all! 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Like A Yo Yo

I wrote this post last Tuesday but was too busy to publish it till now. Also, when I wasn't too busy I was too lazy. Or forgetful. Such is life.

Warning: Long, whiny, annoying post ahead. Please feel free to skip and head to the last 3-4 paragraphs; actually, no, I INSIST that you skip the whole sorry post and head directly to the last 3-4 paragraphs.

The last week, everything in my life was going wrong.

At work, I had undertaken a new task in mid-August for a 4 month period, pushing back my main project by those four months. Yet, a month after I had made my new work plan, I was unable to secure a single appointment with the people I needed to meet; basically, I had nothing to show for all my efforts for the past month, I was behind my work plan, my main project was getting delayed, my work load was piling up, and all of this was increasingly stressing me out.

To make things work, my work from home policy had also been changed. Earlier I worked from home about twice a week, so the 3/3.5 hour commute I did wasn’t so bad because it was only thrice a week. But the idea of spending 15-17 hours a week commuting, the very thought itself was enough to make me want to cry.

And then you know the distance learning course I am doing? Well, I covered only about one-fourth of the portion I am supposed to have covered by now. And my exams are in the first week of October *This is the cue for full on panic attack* So I had this assignment to submit last Tuesday, and I spent ALL NIGHT up working on the assignment, and due to a genuine confusion about submission timelines, I missed the submission deadline by a few minutes. Which means I have to defer the module and take it in another session – so the studying I had done for this particular module, the time I had spent working on the assignment, the money I had spent on registering for the exam, they were all down the drain; not to speak of how awful I feel about not being able to keep up with what I had set out to do.

And remember those two personal projects I had mentioned in a previous post (I know that by now they are all beginning to sound the same)? Well, I haven’t so much as started on them, and one of them is due to end on September 30th. And the other one a couple of days after that. Argh!!!   

To make things work, I was constantly disappointing my family. Amma is in IIMA on a Faculty Development Programme and she wanted me to go visit her in Ahmedabad. I booked tickets to go, but every weekend, either or both of us had various commitments and the tickets kept getting endlessly postponed. Finally, I never went, and she’s heading back next weekend. She was there for over 3 whole months, and I couldn’t make the time to go visit her for even one weekend. I can’t even begin to describe how awful I feel about it.

And Nike’s family was disappointed that I was too busy to be involved in the wedding work (Nike’s brother is getting married in October). Cards, menu, shopping, decoration – whatever the task, I cry off saying I have to study or work. So I’m sending the message that I am not interested in being a more active part of this wedding.

Meanwhile, my social life is non-existent. I have seen an average of one movie a month since moving to Hyderabad in April – earlier I would watch a movie a week. I go out for dinner or clubbing about twice a month – again, earlier this would be once or twice a week. And for other stuff – day trips, picnics, plays, concerts etc. – I haven’t had that life since I moved here. I hadn’t met some of my closest friends in MONTHS, despite living in the same city. I hadn’t met Pinni in so many weeks.

And by Thursday, I couldn’t take it anymore. It felt like my life was completely unravelling. That night, my friend A called up and casually asked me how I was doing and I was * this * close to breaking down and sobbing. All this stress and panic got so bad that I started feeling rather unwell; I woke up on Friday morning feeling so tired that it was exhausting to even get out of bed, and I called in sick to work.

And then, the much needed break happened. At noon on Friday, I got confirmed appointments for meetings in Kashmir! This was so many birds with one stone – first, my new task at work was finally taking off, and I know that once the first meeting happens, it’s easy to get the other meetings; second, since I would be in Kashmir the whole week, I would not have to commute; third, working on the field actually saves me a lot of time (because I save time commuting, save the time I need to spend with family, save time in meetings and administrative work at office, and get back to my room much earlier) and gives me more time to study and focus on my personal projects.

And finally, I get a short holiday in Kashmir!

I felt so much better that I immediately planned activities to correct things and prod them along in the other areas also. This weekend, I did wedding shopping and planning with the in-laws, visited Pinni, met friends for dinner, and got started on the . Next weekend, Amma will be in Hyderabad and I intend to spend time with her.

I am writing this post from Kashmir (I landed in Srinagar on Tuesday afternoon) and already, I feel so much better. I’m calmer, more peaceful, and more confident about my ability to handle this phase. I just need to stretch myself a little for the next one month, and I will be fine. So all’s well that ends well.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ding Dong Bell

Because that’s as good a title as any for the nonsensical post that is to follow.

So I’ve continued to be insanely busy through August too. My work has suddenly picked up pace. The distance learning course continues to be demanding – lots of readings, regular assignment submissions etc. On top of this, I have taken on two personal projects – both of which require significant investment of time, effort and money. And because we are no staying with the in-laws, we have all sorts of family obligations to fulfill. It’s a classic case of biting off way more than I can chew.

I like my days to be full and busy – but this is too much, I say. I constantly feel sleepy and exhausted. The sense of being hassled accompanies me all the time. My social life has come to a standstill. If I so much as plan to go out for dinner on a weekend, I start to feel guilty about the billion things on my to-do list. And to add salt to the wound, some of the things I have been working on fell through, and that put me in a blue funk for a while. The worst part is that this situation won’t change till November.

Alright, now I’m done with the whining.

The best part of this month was that Nike and I took a short holiday to Cambodia. Yay! So we got engaged on August 15th two years ago – and since we just need an excuse to travel and since this August 15th holiday gave us a long weekend, we took another 3 days off and set off for Cambodia. I wanted to go to Kerala since I had already been to Cambodia, but Nike was keen on Cambodia, and because of all his dashed birthday travel plans, I graciously gave in to his wishes. I also made it very clear that next time, I get to decide our holiday destination, mutual agreement be damned. Ahem!

So Cambodia – which was just Siem Reap, actually – was all things fun and interesting. We stayed in this lovely little boutique hotel with a nice pool, and the most marvelous staff, and a four poster bed. It was wonderful. We had a really good guide who took us around the most important temples around the Angkor Park region for the first two days. And on the third day, we got this super-sweet and super-talkative driver who took us to the temples in the outskirts, and to the floating forest.

On the last day we just got long, luxurious massages, hung out with other travelers, shopped at the local markets, and just soaked in the very touristy atmosphere of Siem Reap. It was a lovely holiday, but it was also tiring and too short. And since I had a bad cold from the time my flight from Bangalore took off, I had pretty much drugged myself throughout the holiday, so when I came back home I was rather disoriented. I’ve been saying that I need a holiday from the holiday, but nobody listens to me.

Now I must be off, for tonight we are going to the old city area to check out the Ramzan festivities, and eat Haleem. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

An Appeal

Smart Ass Bride in her recent post highlighted an urgent need. I am replicating her post below:
The UN needs 1.6 billion USD to save the lives of famine stricken Somalian refugees, especially the women and children. So far, they have been able to collect only half that amount.
Image credit : thehindu.com
Here is Ban Ki Moon’s appeal to the world’s people – it includes me and you.
This is a wake-up call we cannot ignore. Everyday, I hear the most harrowing reports from our U.N. teams on the ground: Somali refugees, their cattle and goats dead from thirst, walking for weeks to find help in Kenya and Ethiopia; orphans who arrive alone, their parents dead, terrified and malnourished in a foreign land…
..That is why I reach out today — to focus global attention on this crisis, to sound the alarm and call on the world’s people to help Somalia in this moment of greatest need. To save the lives of the people at risk — the vast majority of them women and children — we need approximately $1.6 billion in aid. So far, international donors have given only half that amount. To turn the tide, to offer hope in the name of our common humanity, we must mobilise worldwide.
Let us *please* awaken to the fact that we can do more than sparing a thought for them. The horror the images invoke in us needn’t be a one moment thing. We *can* do something here. We are not powerless to watch and let this go. My dollars and yours matter – Please do donate.
With as less as 7$, we will be able to provide a malnourished refugee child with ready-to-use therapeutic food. For 100$ we will be able to give someone a survival kit. These are not staggering figures, this is money we can spare – we don’t have to wait for our governments to donate.
You can donate online at the UNHCR website. You have the option of making a monthly gift or a single gift. I was able to make the payment successfully through the global portal for directly donating to the UNHCR. If you live in Australia/Canada/HK/US/China, you’ll also be able to donate through your national offices
Sometimes, cynicism / plain apathy overtakes us at these moments and makes us feel that there are people dying in our own country, that this might be beyond us, that the agency’s implementation and rescue efforts might not be flawless etc. That doesn’t preempt us from doing out bit. Nor will our arguments help that baby in the picture.
We feel helpless many times, when we are actually powerless to do anything but seethe and let it pass. This is **not** that time. We are not going to travel and deliver help directly, but we are empowered just the same.
Please spread the word on Facebook and your blogs. And do leave a line if you donate. It wouldn’t be boasting if it inspires another person to do the same! So much of our lives are laid open for all to see – in blogs, in Facebook posts. Why hide the best of us, especially when it can make a difference?
If you do not have a Visa/ Mastercard and would still like to donate, I can do it for you instead and forward the receipt to you. Please do leave a line in the comments section or drop a line at ramyachatter AT gmail DOT com.
I can’t help thinking that it could have been me or my family. Thank you for taking time to read the appeal.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Such a Busy Month

So July has been a very, very busy month. I’ve spent the entire month in a constant state of exhaustion and limited sleep, and I feel very overwhelmed by all that I have on my plate. At the same time, I can’t lay claim to efficiency either – I waste most of my time surfing the internet, reading blogs, obsessively checking my mails, and taking long naps in the middle of the day. So I waste the whole day, and at night I start hating myself for wasting the day and not making the slightest dent in my list of things to do for the day, and I promise myself that I will work hard the next day and make up for it, but that tomorrow never comes. Sigh!

So yes, I’m very displeased with myself at the moment. But let me tell you what all I have been upto in this month.
  •      Spent the first five days of July in Bhopal for a conference. The conference was interesting, and it was a great networking opportunity. But it was also very tiring. I managed to make time to meet up a friend in Bhopal and hang out with her, and to do a bit of shopping, but didn’t have time for sightseeing.
  •    One of the main reasons why I feel constantly overwhelmed and short of time is because I have enrolled in a distance learning course which is very intense. It requires atleast 20 hours of study per week, and because of timed assignments, there is no scope for slacking. So I spent the next five days of July slogging my ass off, and putting in night outs in order to finish an assignment for the course. I ALWAYS underestimate the work involved, and overestimate my capabilities, so this last minute slogging and night out are, and always have been, an inevitable part of my life.
  •    Once the assignment was over, I hightailed it off to Bangalore. My friend Amu was moving from Bangalore to Gurgaon, another friend L was moving to Chandigarh on a project, Swas had had a baby and couldn’t meet us as much as before, and I was already in Hyderabad; so this was like one last meet-up for the Bangalore gang before everyone headed off in separate paths. I had a great time in Bangalore, catching up with old friends and taking in this much-loved city but at two days, the trip was too short.
  •     As soon as I got back from Bangalore, I had an important personal submission to make. So the next five days saw me putting more night-outs and slogging my ass to finish the submission. In case you are wondering why I am perpetually doing this, kindly refer above comment regarding underestimating work and overestimating myself.
  •       The very day after I completed my submission, my SIL went in to labour. I spent the whole day at the hospital, awaiting the birth of my niece. Baby A was born at 14.40pm on 15th July 2011, a tiny little thing, weighing 2.6kgs, red and wrinkled. Nike is a thoroughly smitten Mamu. The next three days after her birth saw family coming down from different parts of the country and even the world (that was her father coming from the UK) to see the little one, so that kept me busy too.
  •     The baby shares her birthday with Amma. Samee and I are still not sure if that’s a good thing! So I was supposed to go to Ahmedabad that weekend to join Amma for her birthday, but the birth of Baby A saw me cancelling the tickets.
  •     I finally managed to relax, watch a movie, meet up some friends, and catch up on my work – for all of FOUR days before Nike and I headed off to Vizag. We were in Vizag for four day, and the days were very hectic, though it felt very good being home. I came back just today morning to Hyderabad – I’ve left home to go to college 10 years ago, and even after all these years, every time I go to Vizag and its time for me to go back to Bangalore/Hyderabad/wherever I am living at that period, I always, always keep wishing I could stay home one more day.
  •     I got back just today from Vizag, and already I am dreading the assignment submission that is due next week. I am WAY behind on my coursework, and the only way I can finish the assignment on time is if I put in double the usual time required this week to catch up on the coursework, and spend the weekend writing my assignment. Meanwhile, I have lots of work pending on the office front, and that is adding to my panic and frustration. Sigh!

So amidst all the work, the studying, the submissions and the travel, my personal commitments have taken a backseat. I am not replying to mails or calls, I have a few writing commitments which I have fulfilled, blog posts have been ignored. I really need to get my act together, stop wasting time, and be much more efficient and disciplined if I want to finish most of my pending work by this week and start off August on a fresh note.

Till then, ciao! 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Special Needs Dog and Other Stories*

I am sorry to say Nike has a special needs dog. I am sorrier still that it was I who discovered that it was a special needs dog. I’ve been living in this house for over two months and yet the silly dog barks every time I come down the stairs or go up. You’d think a dog would get used to a person in two months’ time, but not this dog. I confided to Nike that I felt the dog was rather underdeveloped mentally, and he agreed with me, but we decided to keep this to ourselves so as not to hurt the sentiments of the others in the family.

But the events of the last weekend led to this sad truth coming out in the open. I was alone at home, and the dog R kept howling continuously. Thinking he was afraid of being alone, I went and sat near him but the howling continued. I finally started talking to him in a soft, consoling manner, and that seemed to calm him down somewhat. I then decided to pat his head. If you knew what an absolute phobia I have of animals, you would realise this was a very brave move on my part (you’d also realise the extent of frustration brought upon by the dog’s non-stop howling); but as soon as I reached out to pat its head, it jumped angrily at me.

This was of course sufficient incentive for me to turn tail and run upstairs, and shut the door to drown out the howling. When everybody else came home in the afternoon, I described the dog’s inexplicable behaviour, and Nike pronounced “R is retarded”. We then googled for ‘how to tell if my dog is retarded” and proceeded to try out the first simple test. It involved calling out the dog’s name and observing if it responded consistently. Of course, R decided not to respond at all for the first 10 calls of its name; it then responded at the 11th call, but then it also responded when we called out ‘mango’ and then lost interest and went to sleep.

We were very discouraged by this and didn’t have the enthusiasm to try out the next test – also what was the point. The next day, the dog barked the daily maid – this poor maid is devoted to the dog, walks him all around the place, keeps talking to it while she’s doing her chores, carries him in her arms like he’s a little baby, and even buys him sweetmeats from the corner store. And R bit her!

It’s the Dog, not the Doorbell!

In the ensuing debate about whether R was a special needs dog, or simple a badly behaved dog, the MIL told us a story. When the moved into their new home, the dog went berserk every time the doorbell rang. My MIL assumed that the dog didn’t like the sound of the doorbell and changed it. But the insane barking continued. My MIL, who is given to thinking the best of others, continued to replace doorbells, hoping that when she found the right doorbell, the dog wouldn’t go mad every time it rang. It took over a dozen doorbells before she finally gave up and accepted that ‘it was the dog, not the doorbell’. (And yes, R still goes into a mad frenzy EVERY SINGLE TIME the doorbell rings, irrespective of who is on the other side of the door).

Despite all these events, we still want to give it the benefit of doubt – that it’s just a badly behaved dog. Next week a trainer is going to come to meet R and assess if he is a badly behaved dog who can be trained, or if he is incapable of being trained. I will keep you updated on the verdict. Till next week then!

* I wanted to title it ‘The Retarded Dog and Other Stories’ but I was afraid that wasn’t politically correct, and I didn’t want to offend anyone. But throughout the text, you can replace special needs with retarded, if you wish.

Where are the other stories, you ask? Well I did have two other stories to tell, but I was so carried away by this story that now I don’t have the time for the other two. Maybe some other time (Your sigh of relief came a tad too early, dear reader).

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Birthday Blues

Friday, 10th June 2011 was a momentous day – Nike turned 30! And the day was an unmitigated disaster. Of course, being the 30th birthday, the day was at a disadvantage to start with. Now I believe there are two ways of celebrating milestone birthdays – one is to go wild and crazy and make it a birthday to remember; the second way is the other extreme, where you lie low, hope no one notices its your birthday, wait for the day to get over and for life to return to normal.

Nike started out deciding that he would enter the 30’s with a big bang. In an ideal world, he would have wanted to ring in the 30’s at Vegas with his friends. But its not an ideal world, so he settled for a road trip across Lebanon with his friends instead. Of course, as I am only human, I was jealous, and tried to encourage them to do said road trip across Germany or some such less exotic destination, but my ploys were in vain. But then all the upheavals in the Middle East began, warnings were issued, and the Lebanon road trip was cancelled (Let it be said on record that I did NOT rejoice; I felt really bad for Nike, and even felt as guilty as hell).

Then Nike made plans to go visit the UK with a cousin, spend some time with his brother-in-law there, and drive around the countryside. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out either. Undeterred, Nike decided on a road trip to Ladakh with his friends. By this time, I was skeptical of any of these plans working out, so I didn’t die of envy at the thought of Nike going off on a bike to Ladakh while I slaved away at office in the Hyderabad summer.

Ladakh is the sorriest story of all. Nike put in a lot of effort into coordinating among different groups of friends, and a group of friends finalized the Ladakh trip for June. Then, one of Nike’s best friends, A, said he couldn’t make it in June, so could they go in May instead. I warned that May was a dicey time to do a road trip to Ladkah on account of the road conditions, but they decided to go ahead in May anyway. Leaves were taken, tickets and accommodation were booked. After Nike reached Delhi (and was to set out to Kalka early the next morning), he found out that the road to Ladakh was blocked due to an avalanche.

His friends decided to go to Dharamsala instead, but Nike headed back home, deciding to save those leaves and use them in June to go to Ladakh. Unfortunately, due to various circumstances, none of Nike’s friends could do the Ladakh trip in June. The poor guy was so keen on it that at one point, he was considering doing the road trip solo, but thankfully decided against it!

By this time, I was being eaten away with guilt – I was envious of his trips and that’s why he couldn’t go, so its somehow all indirectly my fault, get it?. So I suggested making it a weekend getaway – but for Nike, it was Ladakh or nothing at all (and I couldn’t take so many days of two months into joining a new job). I even suggested a day at a resort in the city outskirts, but both of us aren’t really into that sort of a thing, and of course he wasn’t enthusiastic about it. And so it was that the birthday was going to be in Hyderabad.

The next tricky part was the gift. He wanted a camera bag! I couldn’t think of a more boring and forgettable gift. So I suggested I would enroll him for a two day paragliding course instead – he wasn’t enthusiastic about it. I then suggested buying him a guitar and enrolling him for guitar classes - he wasn’t enthusiastic about it either.

Two days to go for the birthday and no gift yet – I was beginning to despair. I then hit upon the idea of making a scrapbook. I spent the day reading up how to make a scrapbook, and then left work early that day, and headed out to buy scrapbook supplies. I spent the next day and two nights slaving over the scrapbook, but I had grossly underestimated the amount of work required for it, and so it wasn’t complete on time.

I had decided that we would have dinner at the Faluknama Palace on his birthday. The views, the setting, the service, the food – if reviews are to be believed, all of it is completely unforgettable. So I called many days before the 10th to book a table for two, only to be told that the entire palace had been booked out for a wedding! Damn it! Why couldn’t people get married at some other time? Why do they have to do it bang in the middle of the husbands 30th birthday?

The next plan was to send him 30 roses. However, on the night before the birthday, when a discussion came up about flowers, he said he didn’t like being given flowers at all. He said it was silly, and it was a waste of money. Now, I knew he didn’t care for flowers, but I had foolishly assumed that if it was for his birthday, he might actually like the gesture. But he was rather vehement in his dislike of receiving flowers and his opinion on their wastefulness (despite my protests “But you can put them on your desk!”) and so I hurriedly cancelled the flowers.

Anyway, in the midst of all this chaos and confusion, his birthday arrived. The mother-in-law baked a delicious cake for him, which he cut at midnight – apparently it’s a birthday tradition from his childhood and it made him very happy. The next morning, I wanted to serve him breakfast in bed, but since my culinary skills are very limited, I asked him if he’d enjoy being served bread-omlette with juice and the newspaper in bed. He said he would rather eat dosas at the dining table, and that was the end of my breakfast in bed plans – anyway, we woke up very late that day, so if I had made the breakfast, it would have ended up being brunch.

After breakfast, I shut myself up in the guest bedroom to continue working on the scrapbook, but Nike knocked repeatedly till I had to let him in and he ended up seeing the scrapbook without my completing it! He said it was a ‘lovely gesture’; and instead of being content with that, when I pressed him for more he added “Its rather like a child’s craft project, isn’t it” and then “You aren’t very artistic are you” and even “What is this thing on this page? Haha…that’s funny!”.

We then got ready to go out for lunch, only to find out that his parents had taken one car for the doctors appointment and the other car had been sent off for repair. We waited for well over an hour before one of the cars came back, and by the time we set out for lunch, it was well past 2pm, and we were both VERY hungry.

As luck would have it, we were stuck in a horrendous traffic jam, and reached the restaurant at 3.30pm. Luckily, the place was still open – possibly our only piece of luck on that day. Our drinks arrived and tasted awful – turns out, the bartended wasn’t around! Thankfully, the food was good, and we enjoyed lunch.

After lunch, went to pick up the next surprise for Nike – a camera cake! Getting the camera cake had been a major hassle – I had googled for and printed pictures of camera cakes, and then gone to three bakeries around town (and sent friends to another two) before I found someone willing to make the camera cake. So when we went to pick up the cake I was very nervous and excited. Thankfully, the cake turned out beautifully and even Nike was very pleased with it. Though he did comment that it was unhealthy and we shouldnt eat too much of it!

As we set out home after picking up the cake, we kind of got lost, and accidentally ended up in a one way. And promptly got stopped by the traffic police and received a fine. I wanted to tell the policeman “But its his birthday today!” (In case you were wondering, I didn’t). We finally reached home, Nike’s cousins joined us there, he cut the camera cake (which received much admiration from everyone), he showed everybody the scrapbook (which again received much admiration inspite of its incomplete status and gratified me sufficiently), we played Taboo (which Nike and his team won for the first time in the 18 months we have been playing against each other), we ordered in biryani for dinner, we played dumb charades in the lawn, and then everyone left, and Nike and I went for a drive.

After we came back home, I sent him a mail titled ’30 Reasons Why I Love You’. I assumed he would be touched and emotional. Maybe he’s respond with 27 reasons why he loved me. He read it and said “That’s very sweet of you. Now lets go to sleep”.

And thus ended the day. Next year, I’m just going to stick to a simple cake, and biryani for dinner. And the darned camera bag for a birthday gift!

P.S: Oh, and we finally decided that I would gift him a tattoo. It has him very excited!

P.P.S: He did mention that despite all the things that didn’t happen/went wrong for his birthday, he had enjoyed himself and had a good day. And that’s my reason #1 – it doesn’t take much to keep him happy. I should learn from him. Oh, and also, I told him I want to go to Paris for the my 30th – it’s a good 3 years away, but a little advance planning never hurt.

Monday, June 06, 2011

No Post

A terrible tragedy has occurred today in the family of someone closely related to us. I have been feeling very shaken and disturbed all day, and now have a splitting headache. I sat down to write, since writing usually calms and soothes me. But today, I have no words. My thoughts are with those affected by today’s awful events – I can only hope and pray that they find the strength and the courage to move on with their lives.

I am not even sure why I am blogging about this. I am closing comments on this post. I will be back soon, hopefully on a more cheerful note.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Feminism 101

Every time I write/talk about something which is typically seen as a ‘feminist’ issue, I get some very strange responses which make me so angry and irritated that I am usually left sputtering in rage, and unable to give a calm and rational response. So this post is an attempt to address some of these questions/misconceptions about feminism once and for all.

1.   Feminists are frustrated, man-hating lesbians or divorcees: Actually, a majority of the feminists I know (including myself) are married to men or have male partners, and are very happy in their relationships. Some have children. Some feminists are lesbian. Some are divorcees. What I am trying to say is that feminists aren’t necessarily of a particular sexual orientation or marital/relationship status. In fact, feminists aren’t of a particular gender either – I am proud to know men who are feminists; and I am sure many trans-gendered people are feminists too.

Digression: I should also add here that lesbians don’t hate men. It’s just a sexual preference. Straight men don’t hate other men; straight women don’t hate other women, so why in the world would one think that lesbians hate men (or that gay men hate women).

2.      There are land mines in Africa/ orphans in India/ uncared for old people in China/ poor people around the world. Why don’t you speak up for them? There are a lot of problems in this world that need time, attention, money and resources. Different people feel strongly about different causes – it does not make other causes any less important. For example, my friend feels strongly about the environment – it does not take away from the critical nature of other problems such as poverty or unemployment or casteism. Similarly, just because I feel strongly about issues related to women does not mean that other issues are less important – it is just that I do not feel as strongly about them, and am therefore unable to dedicate as much resources to them.

3.      But men are victims of rape, abuse and oppression too! There is no denying that many men are victims of various forms of abuse too. And that is very unfortunate. But the reason why feminists talk more about women being abused is simply because the incidence of abuse against women is significantly higher than the incidence of abuse against men. However, what is stopping you from talking about it and raising awareness about the issue, if you feel so strongly about it? Such a discussion­ is much needed and would be very welcome.

Also, abuse against men DOES NOT make abuse against women any less horrible. The crime is reprehensible, irrespective of who the victim is. In fact, this touches a bit upon the topic of equality. When men are victims of abuse, it often becomes a topic for jokes. And that is very unfortunate – because an abused man suffers as much as an abused woman does – and it is awful when such suffering is turned into a joke. This fear of becoming the butt of jokes forces many abused men to stay silent. In an equal society, where we are not bound my patriarchal norms of how men and women should behave, abuse against men will be treated with the same amount of seriousness as abuse against women.  

4.      Men and women are not the same. Feminists are stupid to suggest such a thing.  Let me make one thing very clear: feminists do not, in fact, suggest that men and women are the same. Physically and mentally, we know that men and women are not the same. What feminists suggest is that men and women should be equal, in the sense of having equal opportunities and equal rights. Equal does not mean same.

For example, a lot of people ask me why women should have reservation on buses if they are the same as men. Women do not need reservation on buses as long as they have equal right as men to traveling safely in a bus without fear of being groped or pinched or harassed in any other form. Go on, ask all the women you know if they would prefer to have reserved seats in buses, or an environment in which, even without reserved seats, one can travel safely without the fear of harassment.

5.      The myth of the bra-burning feminist. Every time I get worked up about something which is seen as ‘feminist’, my friends chant “burn burn burn”. They do that to rile me up, and it works, every single time! But essentially, the bra-burning of the 60’s feminist movement was symbolic. Symbolic. You can look that up here.

As this article puts it “The symbolic act of tossing those clothes into the trash can was meant as a serious critique of the modern beauty culture, of valuing women for their looks instead of their whole self. ‘Going braless’ felt like a revolutionary act - being comfortable above meeting social expectations.”

Also, apart from the teeny tiny irrelevant little fact that there is a lot of literature out there about bra-burning feminists being a myth, with no basis in actual events, none of the modern feminists I know have burnt their bras. I know that sounds unbelievable, but its true. And it shouldn’t be so surprising because good bras are expensive and hard to find, especially in India. So I’m keeping mine, thanks!

Feminists who are reading this, please pitch in with other points which are relevant to this discussion. Everyone else, feel free to ask any other questions you may have.