Thursday, 26 December 2013

Guest Post - Bedroom Brawls by Sid Balachandran

This Sid needs no waking up. He's found sitting at his desk in i Wrote Those before the birds tweet the first tweet and is seen writing way beyond the last computer shuts for the night, at least on our side of the globe. Sid Balachandran is a super-man to many. He is a prolific and versatile writer, a fun and loving dad and an at-your-service husband, or so his blog reflects. His writings make you laugh at yourself, nod in agreement whole-heartedly and impress with the parenting gyan he has to share.

While he shuttles at mach speeds between the roles he plays in real life and the posts he writes in the virtual world, a lot of us sit wishing we knew the secret behind his energy. It could just be the home-mulled wine he drinks to spread good humour and cheer around.

Cheer reminds me! Seldom do you meet a writer who is as appreciative of your work as Sid is of those he likes to read. Goes to show he is reading and assimilating, apart from writing, and is willing to evolve as a serious writer even as he keeps his funny bone polished and ready to tickle and be tickled. Plus, he already knows What Guys Want and about Interpreting Women. All this, after Mr. Murphy helps him deconstruct parenting. I know he will go a long way, and for that I wish him luck.

Now, Bedroom Brawls is, umm ... ahem ... I'm not going to tell you. Go ahead and read!  


It’s one of life’s unpleasant truths. The fact that couples argue. Yes, some of them (or us) may deck it up in fancy phrases such as minor disagreements or misunderstandings. But the crux of the matter is that any couple in a healthy relationship will argue. And why wouldn’t they? After all, they are two different individuals, often from completely distinct backgrounds with their unique outlooks on life and its idiosyncrasies. And there is no other room in the house that hosts more of these “disagreements” than the humble bedroom. Before we let our ultra-imaginative minds wander off without a tether, I’ll just confirm that I’m not talking about the physical act of love. Or pillow fights. They both deserve separate posts.

Before I go ahead, here’s something that I usually both prefix and suffix most posts with. Yes, a disclaimer. The “activities” described in this post aren’t always a Man V/s Woman thing. It could even be a Man V/s Man or Woman V/s Woman scenario. 

Premier Inn, a rather well established hospitality chain in Britain, managed to put together a survey, not so long ago. The survey was mainly aimed at heterosexual couples that slept together (i.e. in the same bed). The results of the survey (about 2000 people were surveyed) showed that on average, couples fought about 167 times in a year in the bedroom, over a number of reasons. Of course, “fight” might be too strong and physical a word. So let’s coat it in a bit of sugar, and say, “bickered”. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons, shall we?

The attack of “the blanket hogger” 

In terms of “activities that cause boudoir discontent”, this probably ranks way up there. Let’s look at this example. Person W (hence forth to be referred to as Ms. W) loves to be wrapped up like an Egyptian Mummy, failing which sleep is quite arduous to come by. Person M (hence forth to be referred to as Mr. M) is not that fond of blankets in general. He’s more of a free spirit and will normally only use a blanket as the last resort. Kind of seems like an ideal scenario, doesn’t it? Fast forward to say 1 am. Ms. W finds herself shivering. She opens her eyes, only to discover that her blanket is now being hogged by Mr. M, who ironically gave her the long lecture about not wanting any blankets in the first place. Thereby ensures the vigorous battle for ownership of the blanket, which finally ends in a truce, with both of them agreeing to share the blanket, but not before they’ve both lost out on some quality sleep time.

Certainly, the obvious answer to this would have been for both of them to have separate blankets. But then, cuddling becomes a slight issue. Hence they prefer to have one large blanket. But here’s the thing, even with separate blankets, co-sleeping couples may still find that one of them has to invariably fight for their share in the middle of the night.

The Persistent Snorer

 Men do it. Women do it. Why I’ve heard 20-month old babies do it. From time immemorial, snoring has been the undisputed leader amongst the primary causes behind bedroom brawls.  But yes, of course men take the flak for it; well at least the lion’s share of it. And no, it’s not without reason. The thing about snoring is that it’s usually a one-way street. The only person that isn’t bothered by it, is the person who’s rumbling, rasping and grunting. I understand that there could be plenty of reasons for this “phenomenon”. Sometimes it’s a medical issue whilst some other times, it’s just too much of beer. But if your partner is a light-sleeper, don’t be surprised if you’re frequently woken up in the middle of your deep slumber with a series of pokes and prods. Of course, you could always gift him/her a pair of earplugs :). 

The Fireplace V/s The Icebox

 Some like it hot and some like it cold. The room I mean. The challenge is often finding the middle ground. And the weather or month rarely makes a difference. You need the comfort of a warm room to sleep, whereas your partner would rather have it feel like an igloo. The biting cold forces you to make more frequent trips to the washroom, when you’d rather be trying to sleep. On the other hand, a warm room makes your partner complain about how they find it difficult to fall asleep in a pool of sweat. The easier solution would be to try using a table fan for the Iceman (or woman) and an extra single blanket for the heat seeker.

The bed-space skirmish

I’ve been woken up, far too many times, from my deep slumber with the phrase “Get Off Me” ringing in my ears, No, it’s not what you’re thinking of ;) The thing is, I’m a sprawler. And of course, that means that my legs (and other parts - hands et all I mean) often cross over into my wife’s territory, sometimes even attacking her. Until quite recently, I used to think that I was the only one with such a problem. However some in-depth Google research and random survey results from strangers have shown me that I’m not alone.  If you still would like to continue sleeping in the same bed, my request would be to invest in a larger King-Size bed. Trust me, those extra 16 inches help. The bitter truth is that, when it comes to beds, just as with other private zones, size does matter. I meant a larger bathroom. What were you thinking about? :)

The Right - Left Predilection

 This might not be one of the most common reasons for most bedroom brawls. But it’s a matter of habit, and hence worth mentioning. Most couples in a relationship usually have their preferred side of the bed. And it often remains that way. The subject only crops up when one of you fancies a change in the side, for reasons unknown to the other person. We all have our reasons to choose which side of the bed we’d like to sleep on. For me, it’s usually the one closest to the door and away from the wall. What’s yours?

Switched On or Turned Off 

 This is another one of those seemingly teeny-tiny frictions that have the potential to fire-up discontent in the bedroom. Lights - On or Off. Even though we’re both bibliophiles, there are days when I want nothing more than to read. And ironically those are often the days she just wants to sleep. The tables have been turned quite a few times too. So the light becomes a bit of a challenge. Of course, this is one of the easier things to solve. Just makes sure that there are reading lamps on both sides of the bed. Failing which, you can always get one of those small reading lights that fixes onto the stem of the book. 


 Apart from the occasional delays, timing can make and break relationships. I meant the timing of going to bed, that is. Of course, there’s a saying that “couples who go to bed together, stay together”. But sometimes, it just isn’t possible to retire to bed together, especially if you have young kids. Or if you have different work timings. Talking about timing, another one that often causes a bit of tension is how quickly you fall asleep. If both of you are lucky enough to nod off to sleep as soon as you hit the bed, then this point isn’t really relevant to you. With most couples, some of the most delightful conversations are held under the darkened ceilings of your bedroom. However the thresholds for each person varies slightly and should you find yourself dozing off while listening to your partner, then be prepared for battle the next morning.

Come to think about it, it’s rather ironic that these seemingly trivial little rituals have the potential to cause displeasure in the bedroom. After all, a little loving tête-à-tête can provide amicable solutions to most of these.  But then, they do happen. Because sometimes the simplest things can cause discontent. And that my friends, is the ugly truth behind bedroom brawls. 

[Image courtesy: David Castillo | Photostock | Ambro | foto76 | WikiHow | Daily Mail |]

Monday, 23 December 2013

Christmas in the Heart

If only it was Christmas day when my first school held my orientation, I would not have cried and refused to go inside the exam room. It would have saved my mother the bribe of an orange Amul chocolate and I would have still got my 3-year-old self admitted into that school but without so much drama sitting on the steps outside.

The sights and sounds of Christmas would have helped. The reds, greens and golden would have warmed me up to the newness around. A Santa standing right behind the demure nun and her white habit, waving me inside along with her, would have quickened things. And an Xmas tree with all its goodies surely tempted me enough to speak out the correct answers like a really good girl.

But a good girl I have hardly been. Christmas is to blame. Really.

You name it and I can tick that sin off the list of popular 7 that Christmas made me commit. I have greedily made lists for Santa Claus, asking for everything which my parents could under no circumstances afford (Yes, helicopter variety!). I have proudly displayed my class notice boards to fellow-sections as the best decorated one, yet secretly coveted another’s buntings. Year after year, I have lusted for the plum cake and puddings soon as the winter set in. Why, have even stolen my own kid brother’s stocking gifts (That my parents always knew what Santa had dropped for him, and that I had been naughty even before they had woken up did not deter me!) 

I have done it all. And after all these years, I continue to do it even better now. 

The tiny tree is always dressed. The stocking (or a clean sock) is in place every 24th December, and the husband is reminded of the important date and its significance well in time. The weekend before Christmas is reserved for family. Just us, and everything that we like to do together. Because the image that all those years in two Christian schools have made me associate with Christmas is – Family.

And not just the one I have at home, but the one that we were born into at the time of creation itself – the Human family, sans all man made labels and shadow lines of difference.  

The greatest reminder of this beautiful thought came when I sat with my husband and son, listening to a carol singing competition at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Delhi, in 2012.

We stood in the queue, wondering if our son will maintain decorum during the show, already humming snippets of Noel and Silent Night and remembering our ventures with our school choir. Doing a little jig for Santa Claus is Coming to Town and waiting our turn to enter the hall. A few moments of being seated and the music, the singing and the audience singing along made us throw all other thoughts to the wind. Everyone suddenly seemed to know everyone, either from before or simply because they were singing the same song. Like us. There was merry clapping and happy foot tapping. Some got up to dance a little as my son stood on his chair, cheering every group of carollers as if it was his own team.

Not a word did he understand, but the festive spirit he imbibed.

I do not remember the last time I felt a sense of such warm oneness of being with complete strangers. Of a happy existence, and co-existence. I have also never seen the songs being sung uninterrupted and with no drop in fervour even when the lights went out. The few candles near the dais shone even brighter to keep the merry making alive. And to make me sing on top of my voice, something that I have never done before. 

There were no strangers in that hall. Just many hearts warming up to each other, and wishing each other well. Is there anything else that can shine brighter than that?    

Even as I try to be nice, I continue to be naughty too each passing Christmas. My Santa will always exist. I have to keep the child in me alive, to keep my child happy. To stuff a pillow in my tummy and go ho-ho-ho, or to remind husband dearest that although the paper weight was lovely, the gift need not really fit inside the stocking. No such rule, unless it comes straight from a jewellery shop. 

I will continue to carry Christmas in my heart, not just to spread smiles but also to make everyone see what I can about a Faith that I was not born into but one that I have opened my mind to - to teach forward and be taught by, both. 

There is magic enough in Christmas to make the littlest of pleasures into grand occasions. Warmth enough to welcome those from far and wide. And brilliance enough to light up a hall full of darkness, or human hearts saddened by the reality outside. I believe in Christmas. 

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas. 

Friday, 20 December 2013

Sponsored Video: UNICEF and Domestos for Improved Sanitation

Let’s start with a fact, and a statistic that shocks. 

2.5 billion people live without access to safe toilets. That is two fifths of the global population (37%).

Very hard to imagine, is it not? 

Here is something to watch now. Please click on the video link below.

The video features children discussing toilet sanitation issues that they are faced with in their everyday lives. The video also works at another level. It educates. It teaches us viewers some of the main facts about safe toilets and how we can help improve the situation. It gives us a peek into a reality far removed from our own, but as real as ours nonetheless – a reality where 2000 such children die from diarrhoea every day. Yes, every day! 

It saddens one to think that while at one end of the evolution spectrum we have reached Mars, at the other end something as basic and as essential as a proper toilet is still missing in so many people’s lives.    

Thankfully, there are some among us who are taking these statistics seriously.

Access to improved sanitation has been deemed a basic human right by the United Nations. In keeping with this principle, Domestos and the Unilever Foundation have joined forces with UNICEF to help improve access to basic sanitation for hundreds of thousands of people, by supporting UNICEF’s Community Approaches to Total Sanitation (CATS) programme. 

What is CATS?

The CATS programme is a behaviour change programme targeted at whole communities but aimed at improving individual toilet habits. It helps in promoting good hygiene practices by spreading awareness about the sanitation crisis besetting the populations of the world. Through education and information dissemination, CATS works towards creating a demand for access to proper toilets – a catalyst for reducing disease transmission and saving lives. 

The CATS programme is now in action in 50 countries around the world. School children in countries like Ghana, Nicaragua and Sudan are being provided with sanitation, safe water and hygiene facilities. In Vietnam too, 600 community and local Government workers have been trained already on how to implement community and school led sanitation programmes. The CATS programme has improved the lives of 13.5 million people.

How does the programme work?

Domestos is contributing 5% of its average proceeds received from the sale of specially marked bottles of Domestos in select countries. Proceeds will go towards UNICEF’s CATS programmes in the Philppines, South Sudan and Vietnam and will also go towards improving sanitation in India, Indonesia and Brazil.

This partnership is just one of the actions Unilever is taking to help meet its sustainability goal of helping more than 1 billion people take action to improve their health and well-being.

How can we get involved?

Here is how - 

1. Share the video link given above. 
2. Help spread the word (via your social networks) about the toilet sanitation crisis, its effects on children worldwide and the UNICEF/Domestos partnership.
3. Tweet your support for the campaign. Use the hashtag  #mumsfortoilets 
4. Donate to UNICEF’s world sanitation programme here

Using a cliché – We can do our tiny bit. Can we not?

[This post has been sponsored by Unilever but all thoughts are my own]

Wednesday, 18 December 2013


My everyday life with a tablet 2 Tablets

Tablet number 1.

Do you know what you see above? A tablet, of a fossil of a plant, older than the oldest tree in your colony. Someone was kind enough to get the stone tablet framed. And then foolish enough to sell it off in a garage sale. For the price of peanuts, I got this priceless piece of a fossilized fern. 

This tablet leans against my desk, tapping its feet and staring me down day after day, even as I try my best to meet stare with stronger stare. The fossil is always at it, to remind me of Time. Are you exercising your brain and your muscles enough to be called ‘of sound mental and physical health’? Are you taking your writing in the right direction? What is the latest technology you have learnt about? What do you do to call yourself a worthy parent? When did you last cook something new? Have you even won yourself something worthwhile ever? 

Or, are you that lazy bag of bones fast becoming a fossil like me – vertebral column on chair included!

And more often than not, I look away. Shuffle my feet in my two pairs of socks, scratch behind my ear where there is no itch, close my pen and eyes and go to sleep. The only way the tablet of the fossil stops telling me – carpe diem

Tablet number 2. 

When the fossil tablet, with all the thoughts that it generates in my head, gets too much to take I pop this tablet. Also, when sleeping on the chair instead of listening to the fossil’s ‘inspiring talk’ gives me a sprained back or neck. Of course, there are multiple other kinds you can swallow – some bitter, some to make your life bigger and better. I do this one, nearly every day. It relieves the pain enough...

But am I digressing off topic and towards an irrelevant musing, is it? Oh, that tablet! No, I do not have a tablet as technology defines it, where I can go tap-tap-tap and get things done sitting on trees or under bridges. Those squarish rectangles looking like mini-television screens but with enough nuts-and-bolts inside to make your life better. No, I do not have that tablet.  

But then, even if I did, I wonder if it could tilt, lean and rest back the way I like to most hours of the day - as a mother, a wife and especially when being a good for nothing bum.

Is there such a tablet?

There is!

Better Ways to use the new Lenovo YOGA TABLET

So I heard about the latest one. Really, does not sound like me at all, what with its flexibility and speed. But surely sounds like something I can use. Exactly something that I need to make the fossil tablet stop speaking to me about seizing my days and the pain reliever tablet from entering my tummy. Also, something that may make me a more hands-on mummy.

This new wonder-on-the-block looks promising. I can hold it with one hand or use its unique kickstand to let go and enjoy a hands-free viewing experience. Why, I can even make it stand up to my commands, and my son’s. I need this. I need it everywhere I go, for reasons galore. But mostly because of what you see in the pictures below.

Don't get me wrong. Not looking for a replacement for the super human mummy that I can be sometimes. But you see, not every time can I make fun and learning paraphernalia (including my ageing back) available for my son. That's when I need something else to exercise those tech-made muscles. To twist and turn, tilt or stand and do the deed for me, and in place of me. This Yoga Tablet to the rescue in all of the above situations, and more! It simply seems a Better Way! 

And you are still asking about the Ideal Tablet?

The Ideal is always something that stands the test of time. It’s makers don’t wait for tomorrow to start creating it, but make today what our Tomorrows can start using already. The most futuristic tablet that keeps the future generations in mind is the ideal tablet for me. 

The next generation works somewhat like what you see in this picture. 

And views things from that very angle. At least in my house. 

For those who like to start their young ones young, a dream tablet will be one which is unbreakable. Say, one which stands falling out of the baby cot or slipping onto the floor from the baby chair. One which can be dragged along to the favourite corner of the house to watch the rhymes. Which is water, food and saliva resistant, and scratch resistant for sure. 

It will be safe, perhaps made of friendly rubber and with screen flexible enough to stand a little twist, or the weight of a toddler deciding to use it as a pillow while listening to his lullabies. It will be fold-able, so it fits in their bags carrying their milk bottles and diapers. (I am keeping chewable out of the list, for now!) 

And most importantly, it will be made such that it is easy to navigate on and use by the 'younglings' who like to believe they are older in the mind. With their tendency to be independent even before they learn to pronounce their names right, a Work-it-Yourself Toddler Tablet would be great! 

I am sure there is someone not smiling off my suggestions. I am even sure that someone is taking notes right now and will be working on it real soon too.  

Look what I use. 

Those letters I trust. And I trust they are listening to this mother's plea too. 

As for me, like the fossil tablet hints - it’s time to move on. Get to the next level. Get a tablet, a real one! Something that far exceeds my abilities and hence something that a person like me needs. In the meantime, my son will wait his turn for that 'Ideal Toddler Tablet'. 

Now, who is playing my Santa Claus this Christmas?

[Written for Lenovo Yoga Tablet - A Better Way in association with IndiBlogger]

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

From Dishoompur to Dholakpur

When I read ‘Be a Child with your Child’ on BlogAdda’s home page, I smiled a wide smile. Do I need anyone or anything to make me turn 5 soon as my son says ‘Let’s play’? Not at all. It requires no external agency and no hard work to forget your age - to prattle to dance to play. All it requires is for your child to hold your hand, pull you up from your chair and drag you into his world of imagination. 

But, I was curious. I clicked, and I signed up for the activity nonetheless. It said it would involve my child as much as it would involve me, and that combination of co-play seemed more attractive than anything I could see foresee for the next few days. 

Soon enough, in came a mail congratulating me for being short-listed as a parent. I beamed. For the first time ever, a blogger community was congratulating me for being that – a parent. I must have done something right, in my past birth or this. Filled up the form well, maybe. Or is it that they had guessed what a darling my child was, thankfully unaware of what kind of a parent he had? 

So, what was the activity about?

Playing games with my child on a microsite for 10 days at a stretch, hosted by ICICIPruLife and Pogo. A session a day once completed would unlock a surprise game for the next day. The child will use the mouse and keys, sitting in my lap or with me by his side. Sounds fun, doesn’t it? It surely was!  

Chota Bheem on Pogo is a rare concoction of mythology, topicality and story-telling. An animation that presents the children with a character they cannot but adore, and his endearing friends fighting evil, saving the innocent, being naughty and always ending on a happy note. Also rare to see one sans incomprehensible violence, questionable language for tender minds or scary scenes delivering nightmares. An animation that celebrates all things good, including traditions and unconditional friendship. Our favourite pass-time, just before bed-time reading, night after night.

And now, he and I were to play games designed around his favourite character. Chhota Bheem and his friends were lost and wanted to reach Dholakpur. The journey involved going through 2 kingdoms. In each kingdom we had to clear obstacles in the form of games. What better! Sounds fun, was my first reaction. Little did I know, it was nothing close to what I had imagined. It exceeded my own expectations. 

What happened over 10 days?  

I was excited like a child. Not just on seeing my son’s reaction at every new game each passing day, but also because I wanted to test myself and see if I could still be called the virtual games champ – like my cousins used to crown me. Set record scores. Scream with joy. Do a little jig, and celebrate with a chocolate, or laddoos, in true Chota Bheem spirit. Of course, all of this and more vicariously, through my child’s reflexes and not mine.

When we were half-way there
The games seemed to be in ascending order of difficulty, but designed such that each game played made the child better versed to handle the next one. We played cricket together and arm-wrestled. We threw hammers and swum across kingdoms. In the meantime, Chintamani stood at hand, to guide in case we were lost. The education based video content was easy to read for children, and the site perfectly designed for smooth navigation and comprehension. 

At the end of every session, we rejoiced and shared our scores with the world. Why, even sent laddoos to other vitual players. What a way to celebrate a stranger’s happy birthday. What a way to be happy, birthday or no birthday. 

And what a way to ‘travel’ from Dishoompur to Dholakpur, by being a child with my child. 

[This post is my feedback for ‘Be a child with your child’ activity sponsored by ICICI Prudential and hosted by BlogAdda]

Friday, 6 December 2013

Lingerie Inside Out

Before some conservative organization reads the title of the post and bans me from the world of blogging, or from the world itself, you must read this. And before a protector of all-things-hidden-guarding-female-honour paints my face black and makes me sit atop a donkey, I must get my thoughts out on paper in full speed. 

I have lingerie on my mind. 

And I have been observing it for a very long time (I heard that ‘tch tch’). Even the phenomenon attached to it (if you sense a pun, you are the dirty one). 

I don’t intend philosophizing, but if I do stray from simply sparing a few thoughts about these ‘intimate companions’ into anything deeper than decency demands, you may close your eyes, or even mine. 

Experience speaks, first. 

Oh, for marriage purpose?’ the sales girl said with a knowing smile. Ear to ear, and looked at my tee. I stepped back. Was she going to hug me a congratulations now? She sure seems happy for me. And what does ‘marriage purpose’ mean? I did not have to exert too long. Out came boxes upon boxes, which started opening faster than hooks, on the clothes line, with very excited movements of hands. Hers, only. Even as mine kept themselves from going red. There was just too much to see.

I tell you! If marriages are made in heaven, in certain departments that which glitters the most is like a golden stairway to ascend to the clouds above (why would you sense a sexual innuendo here?). The glass top before me transformed into a dizzying array of sequins, stones, bows and even arrows, strategically placed in nooks and corners I did not even know existed on such bare essential clothing. The heart ruled the shapes, stars followed close behind. Some seemed gift-wrapped, others like fancy wrapping themselves. Oh lord, are those real feathers? Those metal tacks could scratch my washing machine! Barely any cloth, but what handiwork, as if God’s own craft. God’s own colours. Made in Heaven, indeed.   

It ended though, the picking. I exited poorer by more than just a gold coin. But richer with these thoughts floating in my mind – never knew how important lingerie is in the marital to-do list of things. Perhaps, right on top somewhere, in bold and beautiful letters, next to the ‘look for a mandap’ and ‘find the right guy’, in that order of merit. Reading – ‘Pick lingerie, for marriage purpose, only.’

Some years into marriage, and life takes over. Lingerie is just another piece of clothing. Usually. And certainly until the next visit to the mall. Mall?

Experience speaking, still.

Here you are slowly walking around the glossy floor, enjoying the free air-conditioning and feeling rich for no real reason. And suddenly what do you see? Is that Brazil’s carnival imported recently or the widest Xmas tree? Oh, it’s nothing but the lingerie section. Such a riot of colours and textures meet your eyes you cannot help but walk towards it in a daze. Mouth a little open under the spell, and very wide open even if you are a gentlemen trying hard to remain one, and feign looking away. 

How, in small shops, the lingerie is relegated a few shelves and a tiny table behind the bindi section, a left turn from the bathroom and next to the trial room. For propriety sake. But here, it’s a Wonder land (is that a brand?). Or an animal farm, with tiger stripes and leopard dots hanging by their tails. Oh my! Did someone in the trial room growl-grunt-roar a number out?

The old make way for new. Such is life. The purist white are going extinct, and ‘non fancy’ ones rest endangered. And why not! Freedom to choose and to express. Push-up, slap-down, make invisible, make visible or earn the bravery award and go … err … have a cup, of tea. Some straps are meant to be shown, some noodles to tease. All working for a singular cause - pumping, your self-esteem. For some you have to strain your eyes, for the price tag is certainly bigger than the piece. Where is it, the product, miss? Oh there, the sliver of orange hiding behind the brand tag, is it? I see. Um! Now which side up and which side down? 

Phew! I better stop, for all the bright right reasons. 

You breathe now, dear sir. Came here expecting your copy of ‘The Ultimate Guide to Unhook with Ease’, from the telly I mean. Well, madam, neither is this a give away. You may order online, where one is free on one. It's a stampede out there. 

Time to stop "linger-ee-ing" here now. Time for me to go.

Where? To the mall, of course!

What Makes a Marriage Successful? - A guest post by Rekha Dhyani

You already know what I think of Rekha.

Rekha Nair Dhyani is not a fellow-blogger. Before anything, she is my friend who writes, and writes without any contradiction between her within and without. Her posts connect with me, as do the thoughts she carries inside. She blogs at Dew Drops - a space which explores relationships, love, parenting and memoirs. Her blog appeals to the woman in me – all roles - mother, wife and daughter, combined.  

I happily publish her guest post for my humble space here. Yet again, she has me nodding in full agreement with her. 


My marriage is just over a decade old and I certainly do not have any right to preach about the success of a marriage. But I thought I should definitely share my thoughts on this. Right??? 

The success of any relation depends upon the amount of love, compassion, time and understanding that are put in by the couple sharing it. So does it mean that if we put in all of these ingredients, the final recipe will be as smooth as a fairy tale story? No. It’ll not be a plain smooth road, but a tipsy-turvy ride. There’ll definitely be ups and downs, agreements and disagreements, opinions and differences. The reasons: 

1. The two individuals involved are two different personalities. They have their individual likes and dislikes, mood swings, hobbies, etc., which are different from each other. Well, most of the time. 

2. The marital relationship is not just about the two of you, but it also involves an entire universe that has either conspired to conjoin you or have been trying to break you apart. This may or many not include your parents, and definitely include a battalion of relatives and self-proclaimed well-wishers. 

3. While you still manage to fight all of these, there are additional inhibitors who join in the war, courtesy your love (err I mean the physical part of it) for each other. Yeah, you got it right. These are your descendants. 

So for a good part of your life you’ll have to keep fighting against these antibodies and try to save your marriage. The personality differences do get accepted slowly but surely. The differences in interests/likes too will be handled efficiently by the two of you. An example to this effect, an anecdote from my life, I would love to share. 

One day (during the very first year of our marriage), on my way from office to home, I went veggie shopping. I thought to myself, poor guy has left his parents and is struggling to make a life with me; I must do something good for him. I had heard that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. So I promised myself to make a different dish and make him happy. I bought capsicums and potatoes and made a really tasty dish (or so I would want to believe). At dinner time, we both served ourselves and started eating. In between I asked him how the food was. He replied that it was good. That day we took a little longer than usual to finish our food. After I cleared the table, cleaned up the kitchen, I came back with a bowl of ice-cream for the two of us. It was then that he said that he can’t stand capsicum at all. The best part was when I informed him that I too did not like capsicum at all. This happened in a love marriage. Of course, during courtship you don’t discuss capsicum and potatoes.

Then there’s the flock of ultra-sweet and caring well-wishers and relatives. This category can be easily handled if the communication channel between the two of you is not choked. Always keep your communication with your partner crisp and clear. Let the well-wishers know that just because you respect their age and the relation doesn’t mean that you’ve handed over the remote control of your life to them. Give them each a sweet smile and a wild grin at the same time such that it conveys that visiting hours are over. 

Finally, you are left with the product of your eternal love, your kids. And I tell you this category is the toughest to handle for a variety of reasons. First of all, no amount of reasoning works with them. However upset you are with them, you can’t tell them that visiting hours are over and then shut the door. They make you wonder if you guys were in love ever. After all, that love is definitely worth another try. All you can do with these little pyaar ke dushman is to have patience and wait for them to understand and give you some space and time. Till then, enjoy stealing the few lucky moments as and when you can catch them. 

On Rakhshabandhan this year, since there was some confusion with the muhurat of tying the rakhi, sis-in-law gave the Rakhis to me and asked me to make the girls tie it on hubby’s hand in the evening or on the next day. The girls did tie it but it was loosely tied. So I started tying the knot when the elder one jumps in and asks, “Are you both brother and sister?” To this my man replied, “If you guys are hell-bent we’ll definitely be living like brother and sister in a short while.” 

This in no way means that all marriages are a cake walk. There are good ones, bad ones and ugly ones and each has to be dealt with separately. But for the most part of it, I believe it is good and both the partners must try and help it work out. 

For the bad ones, try some fixing and repairing, but I believe patch works do not work for long. For the ugly ones, jump out with all might and swim across. There’s life beyond marriage and kids. There certainly is.

So, what do you think is the secret behind a happy marriage?

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Games of Yore

I wrote about Games I Play some time back. That is, games I play with my family and friends, and which I consciously rescued from oblivion called cartons-in-store-ledges. Here, I sit and think back into my childhood. And when I do that, the reel that runs inside my head conjures up images of play-time, and more play-time (unless of course it was report card day and then the story is in a different tone altogether). Why? Since that is what being a child once upon a fun time was about. Playing … in gay abandon. 


Remember hopscotch? Stapu, as was lovingly called in our house. One chalk one stone, make that a flat-ish stone, and a life-size game board drawn on the street or on the driveway. Even on top of the roofs, kindly lent to us for a few hours. You could practice those jumps-on-one-leg, alone. Better still, call the whole neighbourhood to take turns at hopping, reaching 8, then standing beyond it all and throwing the stone backwards, ‘No looking, please!’ 

[To read more, please click here]

Monday, 25 November 2013

To Tarun Tejpal: The Alchemist of Desires?

Mr. Tejpal,

The cat is out of the bag. While they still try to ascertain if it’s black in colour or white, the crow has certainly flown away, never to return and sit as honestly, fearlessly and with as much dignity on letters which stood for all three – TEHELKA.  

Since news is all about numbers circled in red and flashed till the lights go off, let’s begin with what your site shows me. On searching for stories on ‘sexual exploitation’ covered by Tehelka, this is what I find. What a big number! More than 500 times, you have told us the truth and nothing but the truth, be it on trafficking of little girls or the ‘saint’ Assaram losing his halo. Losing his halo. Why, makes you think, does it not?

First – What you did, allegedly 

A woman journalist has accused you of sexually assaulting her on two occasions during a media event organized by the publication in Goa, earlier this month. Let’s put it differently. A woman whose father was your colleague once, and who is good friends with your daughter – someone who ‘had so deeply respected and admired you for years.’ If you fail, it will not just be at a professional level but at a very personal level too. You also know how shamefully that failure, if at all, will come about, for it would be proven beyond doubt that you assaulted someone who considered you a ‘paternal figure … responsible for offering me my first job, and always just a phone call away whenever I needed his advice on a story or life.’ 

After the first episode of what you call in your conversations ‘a drunken banter’ ... 

[To read further, kindly click here.]

Friday, 22 November 2013

The Lamp in the House

Rachna Says says her blog. I say, Rachna does not just say, but says it such that it cannot but touch you with its truth and beauty. Even as she manages all her loves and all the relationships at home – logging off on weekends, working, holidaying, packing lunch boxes, managing two boys – her journal on Love and Relationships is a constantly woven carpet of thoughts, with designs and threads picked from her immediate milieu.  

Her classic style of writing depends on no external frills to make itself charming. No added hyperbole or extra adjectives thrown in. No sensational revelation and not a single drum beat. Rachna’s writing is as pure and simple as it gets – and as warm as the person that she is. She is like my God-sister in the world of blogging. The wise one behind the 'relax and ignore' in my mail box. And Rachna’s blog is what my blog aspires to be one day – a space which talks about the everyday in a manner I connect with, as does every reader who stops by. 

No wonder then, that her request to be a guest on her blog was met with mixed emotions. A feeling of elation for being asked by a blogger of her repute coupled with a misgiving about my own writing skills. I did not want to be a spot on her blog, a blob of mindless writing trying to find footing amongst brilliantly thought-out posts. 

Out of exactly this stress context was born ‘The Lamp in the House’. I left it just as it was born. Unedited. Truest in sentiment. For nothing less can suit Rachna and her space.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

We Two, Our One

So many are roaming around breathless just now. They just finished talking to me about the Merits of Having Two Children, or more. Truth be told, I am a little breathless myself. For looking for air space to explain my views. Got none, their enthusiasm for me to deliver another child far exceeding my own will to make another bundle. 

But, I am happy. 

Not just because I finally know I can make people breathless, but also because the arguments used for forwarding the idea of having more than one child are something I carry my own answers to. And that, our decision of ‘we two and our one’ is not taken merely because everyone says so or that’s-how-it-is, but because we are the parents who reasoned between ourselves and decided to keep it that way.
And when I look around I realize that in this we are not alone. 

An increasing number of couples are opting for a single child. Reasons are aplenty ...

[To read more, please click here]

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Babe in the Air

Richa was the first person to drop a ‘keep writing so beautifully’ IndiMail, soon after my blog was born. Richa it was who sent me my first Liebster Badge too (and I celebrated, went out for dinner, did not cook). And over posts and comments and mails, one day, we grew to call each other ‘Soul Sisters’. Full of love and warmth to spread, and bubbling with energy that reaches me through my computer screen, she has been that constant ‘pat-on-the-back’ that I needed. And her 'well done' matters!

One look at The Philosopher’s Stone and you will know what I mean. She writes, of course. Writes wonderfully, always. But what inspires me the most is that she writes for the love of writing. ‘I write so I exist. I exist so I write’ is what she says. And it shows - prolific, talented, committed, writing-after-the-kitchen-is-wound-up and a long day at office done. I am yet to come across such consistently interesting and well-written short stories as I read on her blog. I am also yet to meet a person who merges her public journal with her personal life as elegantly as this woman here. 

So, when she tells me – I need a guest post, darling. You have 2 days, the topic is Travelling with Children and you cannot refuse - I do not take it as a threat. I take it as a compliment, for she adds, as usual in her ever-encouraging voice – I know you can. I trust you can. Just write!

And I write. About a baby in the air. A babe in the air, if you wish to call it that after you read the post. 

I do. I call it ‘Babe in the Air’ and for the rest, here is the link.

By the way, don't let the pictures down there mislead you. 

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

PT and Serendi-Pt

We joined our new school the same year. Different classes, for some we have to call our seniors. But the same year. Coincidence. After 9 years of the nuns working hard on me, I was in a co-educational set-up. Happy. He, after years of hopping schools as a ‘transferable case’ was finally in 9th standard to hop no more. I was in 8th. Close behind!

No idea that his class was next to mine. Or that we were welcomed in the same orientation. That we both shared apprehensions and curiosity of the new school together, but apart. We did not even know what the other looked like. 

Years went by, like they do in school. He did his thing and I did mine. Best student he would be declared every passing year, whereas my report would read ‘she tried’. He would travel to play, sing and debate for his school all over the country, and I would travel too – to school and back. He shone bright, I instead socialized. Apart, still. 

Fast forward! Standard 11th and he in 12th. Still ahead! 

And now this is important … 

A rumour somewhere, that he has his eyes on me (Even tried finding out from a cousin of his from my previous school, about me). I closed up mine, totally. Did open them, those eyes, sometimes to see admire him from behind the herculean century old pillars and wonder – Him, Oh I see. But why me? The peahen danced secretly, but gathered all her feathers the moment him she would see. He was told it’s the wrong bird, for she is taken already. Someone’s jealousy! So he wound up his feathers too. And we went about doing our thing. Apart, still, but proud in our own swings.    

And then there was no choice one day. No pillars to hide behind. 

We both hated PT. Coincidence. 

And sports day was fast approaching. Which meant our PTIs would don their caps and running shoes with salwar-kameez, polish their whistles, get all worked up standing under the cool shade of the trees as we tried to jog, crawl, trot, swim and sleep walk around the 500 mts track at 40 degrees. Hundreds in the field. Trying to look sporty, be sporty and win their races. And 2, just 2, looking for excuses to not do anything. Me and him. Apart though, still, not knowing that the other’s anatomy too was making similar excuses to skip the march past. To sit on the sides, in the shade and watch the world slog, left-right-left.  

He reached before me, to that certain step where I saw him seconds after he sat. Too late to turn back and no other place around. Fidgeting with my hair, re-buckling my watch strap and doing other mindless things that being conscious is made of, I reached where he sat. Trying to look away to look disinterested. Him and me, both. Failing miserably. The first encounter after the rumour, and there were 2 pairs of jelly legs and a pair of teenage hearts shaking and beating to the tune of – ‘Oh Lord! What next?’


A fortunate coincidence.

I am sorry for causing you embarrassment. I did not mean to, was never my intention. I just wanted to be friends. And we can never trust these middle men and women” said he. I looked up to him, literally, for he sat a step above, as had always been. 

Cool!” said I, as nonchalantly as I could feign it. Did not expect it. Who admits it, except a gentleman of the highest degree? My voice was not prepared. My heart even less. It skipped loops upon loops. What nice jaw line he has.Thank God for the drum beats of the march past. 

So, I guess it’s all OK then. No discomfort no turning away no need to make the visible invisible, right?” So he had noticed, thought I. Even me behind the pillars, and I turned red.

Yes” is what I said. This time my heart danced. 


Down he came to sit beside me. Two yellow dots on the grey steps. One still towering over the other. 6 feet. No, nearly there. But then, he was always a step above the rest. Wasn't he?

We talked, and soon we were speaking to each other. Drums and whistles and PTIs’ instructions no longer claimed our ears. “I quite like you, you know” and I wondered if he was proposing? “You’re okay too, actually!” and I could see our feathers opening. Not to flaunt or be a prude. No. Just to reveal everything that we wanted to. About ourselves. At this point. From inside. 

And that moment etched in my photographic memory. His too, or so he claims.

Thank God for hating PT. Thank God for a kind PTI. And for the fortunate coincidence of lame excuses of anatomy.

Thank God for Serendi-Pt. Serendi-Pt? 

Platinum – Pt. 

Did you know?
Rare material and hence highly valuable. For sure he is, my man I speak about. 
Resistant to wear and tarnish. Of impeccable character, I tell you! 
A by-product of mining and processing. Really! It does show, those manners, that polish! 
Non-reactive even at high temperatures. The calm in the storm of my tea cup. 
Catalyst for many reactions. He made me pick up my pen, again. And so much more.
“Little silver” but lots of love. 
It’s rare. 
It's so him.

And it’s been 13 years since we shared that berth. Married for 6 years, and with a bundle who loves to pull my ears. Especially when I don these you see in the picture above. The first ever gift in a little red box, from a fellow yellow-dot, who I fell in love with when no such plan existed.

On our day of love. Our day of Serendi-Pt.

[Written for 'Platinum Day of Love' hosted by IndiBlogger]

Monday, 11 November 2013

When Men Cook

Rekha Nair Dhyani is not a fellow-blogger. Before anything, she is my friend who writes, and writes without any contradiction between her within and without. Her posts connect with me, as do the thoughts she carries inside. Dew Drops has seen her cry for her Lil Love, pull her hair handling her tantrums, shed tears remembering her grandmother and stand tall fasting for her husband. This, interspersed with philosophical posts and travelogues. Her blog appeals to the woman in me – all roles - mother, wife and daughter, combined.  When ‘North met South’ a very loving person, rooted in tradition yet steadfast in her beliefs about her self, was born. Also was born a writer who speaks to your heart, because that is where her thoughts emerge from.

No wonder then, that her request to me for being a ‘Guest’ on her blog, that too for my 100th post, made me jump so high with joy that I write this here even as I am sitting on the ceiling fan. Thank you, Rekha, for considering me up there, and putting me even higher than I probably deserve. Now, I am hoping nobody will switch the fan on.

When Men Cook
She told me write about anything under the Sun. So, I wrote about men in the kitchen. Only, and only because it rhymes. And yes, I am trying very hard to be funny in the post. Do spare a few giggles, and more importantly, a few nods of agreement. My man may rest displeased, but I will certainly soar and sit up on the fan again! And truth be told, the view from up here is unmatchable and something I want to get used to. 

Without further ado, here is the link to the post:

Thursday, 7 November 2013

When the Daddy is away ...

… the mice are not out to play. Or are they?

Daddy has to go away sometimes. Travel for work as they call it. Boss says go for a 3 day conference, daddy goes for 5 – conference plus travel time plus reaching home in the middle of the night. 8 pm on the first day of his absence and you can see the child waiting for the bell to ring. Papa will come in a little while, you say. Dinner is had on the bed. Who will dip my roti in the daal, he asks a little perturbed. He senses that something is different. By bed-time, when the lights are dimmed, papa’s pillow rests unused. His eyes widen, sleep is knocking but curious questions abound. But I want to give good night 'kissy' to papa! What do you say? It’s not even one down, and there are 4 more days to go!

Between answering some and keeping quiet on others, the days pass. As the morning sun rises on the 4th day, daddy’s absence has become a given now, no matter how incomplete the picture at home may be. Children accept it I think, or do they? 

So, what do I do when my child’s father has to travel for work? Here’s a peep

[To read more, please click here.]

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Guest Post - Schooling Choices and Related Considerations by Jairam Mohan

The author of this post, Jairam Mohan is somebody who pores over excel spreadsheets and power point presentations in his day job, but believes that his true calling lies in boring people to their deaths. That is the sole aim of him updating his blog Mahabore's Mumblings quite frequently. Between him and his wife, they nurture and bring up their two year old daughter as well as the blog.

Schooling Choices and Related Considerations

This post deals with one of the most critical but one of the most under-appreciated and technically difficult topic of choosing the right school for your children. I have dealt with this topic in a bulleted manner, ie, have jotted down my thoughts based on broad categories to be considered when selecting a school for children. Please note that these categories are not prioritized in any manner and are in a random order.

Location constraints

Apart from the fact that Bangalore was my home town, one of the main reasons that my wife and me moved back to the city for good in April this year was because we wanted little R to be admitted in a school which she would hopefully not have to change for the rest of her schooling days. As is the norm with most schools nowadays when you enrol your kids for Pre Kindergarten in a school, the kid continues there till he/she finishes her 12th standard, and believe me, that is a good 15 years in a single place.

Why Bangalore? Because this was the city where we didn’t have to worry about shifting residences as we had my parents’ house where we would stay and not in a rented house where our locality would be based on the whims and fancies of some temperamental owner. While staying with my parents has its own pros and cons, when it comes to the choice of a school, this clearly narrowed down our choices, which probably was a blessing in disguise.

Yes, almost all schools worth their salt have transport facilities in the form of buses or school vans. But I have always been more than a bit sceptical about how the drivers of these school vehicles actually drive on the roads. I have been witness to more than a few avoidable and questionable driving tactics of these school vans in Bangalore and am therefore not too open to making my daughter travel in one of these, if I had a choice.

This therefore meant that we restricted our search to schools which were within walking distance from home or those which were at most 15 mins away by our own vehicle. Yes, geographical location and distance from home may seem like trivial and stupid considerations, but in our opinion it doesn’t help if children have to travel 1+ hour a day two times a day and are stuck in a school vehicle when they could easily be doing something else that is more constructive. 

Curriculum constraints

When it comes to choice of curriculum in Bangalore, parents have to choose between CBSE, ICSE or the Karnataka State Govt syllabus. The decision to reject the State Board syllabus is a no brainer since I did all my education in that syllabus and I can safely vouch for the fact that it is probably the most useless syllabus in the State if not the country. 

However, the choice between CBSE and ICSE was not quite as easy as it looked. While the fact remains that CBSE is probably the most popular among Indian parents, most schools in Bangalore don’t seem to have the affiliation, let alone the ones close to my place. However, having heard from reliable sources that the ICSE syllabus is more depth when compared to CBSE which is more breadth, we decided to go ahead with CBSE as first choice with ICSE being a backup option, considering the schools close to home.

Infrastructure constraints

Given that both my wife and I studied in schools run by Christian Missionary Trusts of the 1980s, we had huge playgrounds in our schools as well as access to sports facilities in the form of sports equipment, coaches and instructors for outdoor as well as indoor sports. Given the cost of real estate nowadays and the fact that we don’t necessarily stay in a locality in Bangalore where moderate schools can actually afford to spend huge money on sports infrastructure, we had to settle down to keeping our choices limited as far as this particular aspect was concerned.

However, we did enquire about the overall infrastructure of the schools and also spoke to parents of children studying there to understand if at least all the basic infrastructure in the form of decent classrooms, labs, computer labs, etc were available at these schools. 

While we necessarily cannot control how much of time our little one will spend on the playground versus the classroom, we want a school which at least provides her with the choice of outdoor activities just in case she is interested in the same.

Financial constraints

This paragraph has to be read in conjunction with the above one relating to Infrastructure constraints as the quality of the infrastructure almost directly impacts the financial requirements from the parents. In this day and age of these so called ‘international schools’ blossoming around all over Bangalore, school fees in lakhs of rupees has become quite common. Parents discuss schooling expenditure only in 6 figures and anything less is considered quite a travesty of social status as well.

Our (read my wife’s and my) upwardly mobile middle class upbringing shocks us to the core when parents we know talk of paying more than Rs 1 lakh for school donations and around Rs 50,000 for annual fees for Pre Kindergarten for their kids. I mean, isn’t Pre KG just a glorified name for Play School? What do these schools teach them or provide them for half a lakh of rupees a year? 

I mean, my daughter is okay if the school doesn’t have an air conditioner, or fancy desks and chairs to sit on and doodle. She is fine as long as the rest rooms are clean and the school staff is courteous and gentle with her, and that should not cost that kind of money in our opinion.

We therefore didn’t even bother enquiring more about a couple of these international schools which are quite close to our place.

Summary and current state of affairs

At the end of this crazy decision making exercise my wife and me finally decided that we preferred a regular school where middle class children were enrolled, with decent sized grounds and where students were at least given opportunities to participate in extra curricular activities. While we outright rejected the crazy costly schools, we have no choice but to settle down for the relatively costlier schools which had the necessary basic infrastructure that I talked about earlier.

At this point the short-list is down to three of which two application forms have already been bought. One Parent-School interaction has been scheduled for the 6th of Nov when hopefully little R will find her second home for the next 15 odd years starting June 2014.

It is difficult not to nod in agreement with Jairam's views or not go 'tuch tuch' when he talks about the 'business' of schooling these days. I share his shock at the numbers which have made Play Schools a luxury item almost - unaffordable and very different from the cosy ones we went to, as children. I am sure most of my readers can relate to this wonderfully composed post on this father's ideas of picking the right school for his little R. Would love to know what your experience has been!   

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...