Monday, August 3, 2009

boasting & more

I don't know if this sort of thing happens to you, meaning, starting something and then letting it slip to the back burner? Like I started this blog and then felt, overwhelmingly, that what's the point, why should people ever, ever want to read what's happening in an average person's totally average life? This thought so took hold of me that I abandoned updating my blog completely. So how come I'm at it again? I think it's to do with cutting down on grains. No, no I'm not completely crazy. There is a connect. It's the 12th day running where I have tried to go back to optimum eating and exercise, and succeeded to a large extent. This for me, bascially means reducing my rice intake. I've also gone back to the multivitamins and calcium that I know I must take, given my advanced years. Also, every single evening, I have walked for 30 minutes --- pushing it up to 45 minutes on a couple of days. As a result of all this, I have dropped 1.4 kg in 11 days and am feeling better. And so it's a matter of boasting that's brought me back to the blog: I've just been too good. Of course, it's a long, 'starving' road ahead. Still. I'm hoping to cut 6 kg by September end. Then I will buy some fitted clothes, no longer hold my tummy back during all public interaction and generally go out and meet new people who will all go away thinking, Wow, she looks good (even if they add, for her age, as ps in their minds). What I hate most about this 'good' lifestyle is the adding of yoghurt (vile) and vegetables (more vile) and movement (even more vile) into my daily life. But am doing it. So far, so good. Am also trying to work on my mind by trying to think positive. Maybe, that's a bit overstated. More accurate to say, am trying to not let the day to day heebie-jeebies get me down. Trying to get a bit of that duck's back so can shrug off murky, disturbing waters. Do send me your stories on battling weight and negativity... Till next time.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Family Ties

My father's going on past 75, and rapidly past his sanity, or so it seems to his near, dear and far ones. He is clinically healthy, assures his doctors. All who live with him (including super-specialised doctors), and those who stay more than thousand miles away, tend to view these clinical practitioners with suspicion. One day of living with him, and it seems an open-and-shut-case. In all these years, I have never met a more hyper-human being. Visiting grandchildren are breathless at being dragged out of bed, rushed through a shower, driven off to monument or park and herded back within 5-10 minutes of setting foot in park or monument to be whisked on to lunch, raced through the food, followed by a forced siesta, only to be woken up within minutes and taken out to relatives... They usually stagger home near-comatose. When we were growing up, we always created a mild stir of curiosity at railway stations and airports. On an average, we were about one and a half to two hours early. He always said it's better to be early, followed by a screaming (only he screamed) argument with my mother. Now, things have taken a turn for the worse. He was to send me the form for my son's passport-renewal. He called me 4 times (not counting the times that he casually added this at the end of something else) to tell me he was sending the forms. Then he dictated (yes, dictated) an email message to the long-suffering "internet fellow" in the neighbourhood telling me where to fill in what, and what pen to use. He doesn't like to approach his son or daughter-in-law to do such tasks on the home comp. He has a special rapport with the "internet guy" who calls him "uncle" in Assamese. Following the email, he called to tell me in detail what he had written. I said this was unnecessary since he had already sent the email. He said, That's true but stilll, no harm... He then posted me the form with each signature slot marked out in pencil; and 3 pages of instructions on How to Fill The Form, all written neatly under headers, 1,2,3 and so on. This was followed by 2 calls to check whether I had got the courier. At 7 am the day after I received the packet, he called me and asked if I could get a pen (ballpoint) and go through the form with him... I told him firmly that I would not do so; I would call if I got stuck anywhere. Hearing my tone, he agreed. Reluctantly. It's been a day. He'll call in the evening... He never allowed his son to carry his driving licence, saying, he's sure to lose it. He made a photostat copy, laminated it and gave it to him to carry instead. One day, the son, 48, who has got himself through school, college, medical school and is a practising gastroenterologist and father of 3, argued that he was reponsible enough to carry the original licence. The argument grew heated and, according to my father, he snatched the licence from his hands. My brother lost it two days later and father (since his son didn't know how) had to refile. For days, he fussed about having to do all this again and again at his age with the triumph seeping through. His son said he has a right to lose his own licence. All this may sound funny but in real life is not at all so. What's alarming for me and near, dear and not so near ones around me, is that it has been felt that I am poised to overtake him... I asked my teenaged son in the morning if he had called Ma'am so-and-so (had asked him twice the day before and once the day before that; the days being Saturday & Sunday, he had said, Ma'am was unavailable on weekends). This was Monday morning...'Amma! Were you staring at my eyelids?! I have just this second opened my eyes. Even Kaka (his grandfather) would have allowed me 2-3 minutes more!'
'Yes,' I tell him, 'you're so right. I'm way behind. He would have called Ma'am himself.'

Friday, May 15, 2009

on marriage & divorce

The man (divorced) says to me, 'You've been married for 18 years? You're practically siblings now!' Yes, therefore I can't divorce. I mean, how does one divorce siblings? I've nothing against the institution, don't get me wrong. What I don't understand is why, if there is no infidelity that you know of (what you don't know, can't hurt you) , no regular beatings or drunken brawls and such like, does a long-term marriage break up? It takes a few years, just months maybe, to know a person. So logically, the break up should happen quickly. Otherwise, 'married-life' simply becomes 'life' and one goes on, though ups and downs, much as you would with a blood relation. The man (divorced) says to me: 'There's boredom. Why be in a life that's killingly routine? The lack of surety in a new relationship, is half the thrill. One can't live the 'now' safeguarding against potential loneliness in old age!' Hmm... Of course, divorced-man-in-relationship has a point. I try and think of Divorce due to Boredom. I'll have to divide the children, the dog, the bed, the house, cars, the books, househelps, bank balance... It's exhausting. And then there's the additional task of procuring a Prince Charming (or even a Prince Decent) who will be ecstatic about a 40-plus, not-thin, not-ugly-but-not-beautiful woman with two teenagers. It's too much. I'll just let it be and stay with the semi-old man and keep the children, the dog, the bed, the house, books, cars, househelps, bank balance intact. Do let me know your thoughts on marriage, old and new.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I have just been told Must Never Wear dull colours and churidar kurtas. Ok, so I'll just burn half my wardrobe. I noted with interest that others in the department have been given more damning verdicts. For example, 'Must Never Wear short kurtas and over-tight clothes' always wears short kurtas and over-tight clothes. Well, almost always. She'll have to burn her entire wardrobe barring the stray saree. This is part of an exercise I've started among the girls (how much can you do with a shirt and trousers, so no boys) in my department to get each other to spruce up and fit in with the Lifestyle Etiquette Palette (LEP). Please be honest and write exactly what you think, I told the girls. They did just that. To a T. I don't know about Godesses of Grooming, but I may have created Enemies for Life. I hope not. The Lifestyle group COO, Mala, is adamant on 'looking the part' (meaning must fit into LEP). I agree, to an extent. Of course it may be excessive for the Cosmo Editor to report for work in a thong bikini, but she need not wear shapeless, muddy brown, salwar suits either (she actually wears little black dresses, with cleavage and all, and doesn't even keep pulling at them). It also works wonderfully to have the Harper's Bazaar Editor always (yes always) in dresses, shoes and accessories, all with labels I would wear on my sleeve. She hides them on the undersides. Totally LEP. The thing is, Mala too looks the part. So she keeps the straight face, and makes eye contact when pulling people up for shoddy, horrible-hair, make-up-less turn-outs. I mostly look out of the window, at some unimportant papers on the desk, at my colleagues clothes, intermittently or throughout, when delivering lectures on the subject. Sometimes I make eye-contact and say (sternly lying) I need to do my bit too. In real life, it's more like a big slice. At Good Housekeeping we believe that there is no cutting corners in basic grooming. Honestly, when month after month, we urge our readers to be their best, look their best (look good-feel good), I do feel the guilt weighing me down and rush to the salon for long overdue facials, pedicures, hair trims and so on. Once, I even did a Rs 2,500 super facial which ended with a plastic-y mask freezing over my face. I feared I would suffocate. I didn't, and became radiant. Sadly, I could dazzle only my colleagues (not all) since the day was spent at work. I do think, all of us in office, and most people I know, need to make that extra effort to look their best. It's worth it. And the good part is, it's so do-able now. Do read the Good Looks section in the magazine and tell us if it helps. Till next time.

Monday, April 27, 2009

One glass of warm lemon juice (without honey or sugar), 1 cup of (tasteless) green tea, 2 cups of (Sugarfree) tea, 1 glass of (vile) vegetable juice --- Loaded with all this, Virtue and my lunch of 3 (small) rotis and methi saag, I arrived at office. All hell broke lose before I could even press the switch-on button of my comp. It was going to be one of those Hell-in-Office days. Grappling with panic, I asked Anup to quickly get me a greasy chicken patti from the cafe downstairs. The crisis continued and by mid-morning, I felt an acute need to finish the 3 (small) rotis and saag. A little later, by way of a much-deserved break, I went up to the cafeteria and had another (not-so-small) roti, kadhi and chicken, washed down with a Diet Coke (today, I absolutely need one). Back at my desk Anup asked if I needed a coffee. Yes, yes of course, and please get me a paan as well. At 5 o'clock, the girls ordered samosa and chaat from Gupta dhaba downstairs. I said, absolutely not, I cannot have samosas or chaat. I had a double egg sandwich, instead. Staggering home, crisis far from over, I had 4 glasses of chilled white wine (I really need it) followed by a dinner of Kerala rice, sambar and sabzi, touched up with home made ghee. Exhausted by a hard day's work, I fell into bed, and dreamt of making pizza from scratch.... Some months ago, I was on a diet with nutritionist Ishi Khosla, and needed to note down my eating history each day, including the teeny meeny bite of pizza. Such nightmare days of eating would have set off convulsions in Ishi. I'm glad to spare her the pain. She's a good sort and effective too. Believe it or not, I managed to drop the 15 kgs that I was carrying around as excess baggage when I was listening to Ishi. But now we don't talk amy more. I just eat. And drink. Here's a basic truth for all Good Housekeeping weight-loss aspirants: you have to simply control your eating. No amount of speed-walking, jogging or gyming is unlikely to see you past the creamy chocolate mousse or double cheese pizza. There's no hidden trick to facilitate control-eating. You just have to do it. It's difficult. But that's it. Since I parted ways with Ishi, I also ended my love affair with the weighing scales. I don't know when we will be friends again. Till then, I eat on.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

In the car to the office this morning, I was thinking of relationships and what strange unexpected twists and turns they may take in the course of a person's journey through life. I remember we had carried a story on verbal abuse in a marriage; it was a lift from our US edition but I thought it might find an echo. Sure enough, a reader wrote us a wonderfully sensitive letter saying that she had just walked out of her seven-year marriage largely because she could not take the verbal abuse any more, and that she was heartened to read the article on the issue. Abuse in a marriage of course takes on various hues. Verbal abuse is difficult to 'measure' or label and is relative. What seems to be black and white is of course, physical abuse. But here's a thought: is a shove, a push, a slapping on the arm 'physical abuse'? Is a one-time event 'physical abuse'? And more significantly, could the trigger have been too much or enough to provoke the abuse? Here of course I am not referring to the habitual wife-beater but more the one-time perpetrator. I have come across three cases of physical abuse in the last few months. In each, while the psychological horror of the act virtually paralysed the victim, neither the victim nor the friends and supporters, paused to examine whther there was any possibility of the provocation being enough to push a normally sane individual over the edge. I am not advocating or supporting abuse in a marriage at all, however these are things to consider before slamming on accusations of vile spouse-beater. Having said that, in all three cases, this would really be more of an academic discussion since the scars from the abuse remain and continue to haunt each set of individuals. Their relationships may not be over for life, but have definitely been changed for life... If you visit this blog space, do leave your comments or thoughts

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


For the 2007 anniversary issue of Good Housekeeping we had Kajol and Karan on the cover... Some may think that's an unusual pair to be featured on GH cover. I mean, isn't it a magazine of and for women who play out successful roles as wives, mothers and professionals? Where does friendship, and that too between man and woman, find space in this world? But the cover worked and we got plenty of responses not just to Kajol but to the fact that we had pegged it around friendship. I was delighted. Of course, women, even GH women(!), have a life that goes beyond home, family and office. Friendships can bring Happiness, a core motivation, and part of the stapline of the magazine... Recently, I have had some jolts on the friendship front and that's what set me thinking of this. I felt let down by someone who I had considered a friend: Someone who brings you joy and laughter, a person one can let one's guard down with, someone you can call when in need without a second's pause, someone you can think out loud with and say whimsical, contradictory nothings to, knowing it won't go further and will be taken in the right spirit... Of course, 'let down' is a relative idea but I still feel bad. However, to take life lessons on holding back trust is something I'll skip; the hurt's too little to change myself at this late age! The incident of course had a good side: I remembered all those who I like sufficiently to want to keep in touch with, and called them up, jlt. They of course, poor things, were happily surprised, quite unsuspecting of the trigger. It also made me value someone who keeps up with her vast network of friends, her work and life situations, notwithstanding. I'm happy to be part of is special network.

To get back to the purpose of this blog... When I started off, I planned on making it a chatty, funny interaction. Clearly, I have meandered offtrack. Will try best, next time!