To You, My Dear Child

This is what I wrote for

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To You, My Dear Child

My dear child,

When I first cradled you in my arms, I couldn’t believe that something so perfect could be borne out of love. The hours of sweat and anguish of unimaginable pain vanished in seconds as I looked into your unseeing eyes. And then you cried, so hard and so long that the nurses were convinced I was torturing you in secret.

That’s when I realized - motherhood is not for the fainthearted.

For over a year my life became an endless cycle of burps, poop and pee. I would sleep fitfully dreaming of clouds that looked like nappies. I looked like a cow, felt like a cow and smelt of curdled milk. It was as if the planetary positions had shifted and I had become a satellite helplessly revolving around you.

You evoked the strangest feelings in me. I was so afraid for you and was willing to go to any lengths to protect you from this harsh world. Anyone who tried to harm you became my worst enemy.

It was you and me against the rest of the world.

For you I let go of my dreams, my vanity, and girlhood, not out of duty but out of love. When you looked at me with eyes brimming with love, every inch of me tingled with joy… When you held my fingers for the first time…your gurgling laughter…the first time you called me Maa… these became the most precious moments of my life.

Of course you don’t remember the first day when I sent you off to school! The sleepless nights I spent in anxiety, worrying how my baby will cope in the sea of unknown. Waiting anxiously at the gate for you to come back…Scooping you up in my arms, nuzzling my head in your warmth….The dawn of awareness that I needed you as much as you needed me.

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“Eiee Didi, Dey Na!”

Glad2bawoman an online media company, is a community for women who care. With over 69000 members, they promise to become even bigger and better. Presenting this very interesting anecdote by Rituparna Mukherjee, editor

That’s Bengali for “Give it to me, won’t you?” Sounds suspicious, doesn't it? Well it would have sounded infinitely more dodgy had you been in my place on a crowded Garia-BBD mini bus, fighting claustrophobia while trying to ignore the enthusiastic clapping of three boys-dressed-as-girls.

Trams have been my saviour. They are empty, relatively quick and comfy. But today I had to take a bus. It always gets extremely crowded post Jeevan Deep and this is where three thin, dark, promiscuously dressed androgynous individuals leapt onto the moving bus cackling with laughter, screaming and shouting. At first I thought them to be boisterous girls - I have been around today’s teens for a good two years during my tenure as a teacher and trust me they are all about exhibitionism. Most of them at least. They have no qualms about yelling in a public place, attracting attention with their revealing clothing and generally creating a commotion. But then, once these people were right in front of me, I could see they were eunuchs, or pretending to be to make a quick buck- one never knows these days.

They immediately established that they were going to make money off the people in the bus. Started clapping and gyrating in front of the passengers, using terribly foul language, touching them etc. The usual. And since I was in the first seat next to the window, I was the first to be targeted, of course. They targeted the man next to me first. Clapping in his face, touching his hair, poking at his shirt, they made loud comments about how he was wearing a nice shirt etc. Told him if he didn't give them money they would do the unmentionable. Harrassed him to no end till he gave them 30 Rupees- for the three of them.

I usually ignore them. Sometimes that works. When it doesn't I get rid of them with a tenner. I don't want to be flashed or harassed - hence I think it is far better I give them a token amount and they go their way. I was doing a pretty good job of ignoring them by staring out of the window when one of them touched my arm. I looked at him/her and something made me smile. I didn't feel anger or annoyance...I looked at the very boyish face painted with lipstick and dark smears of eyeliner and I felt a mixture of sympathy and glee. Glee isn't the right word. What I mean is I found them funny so I smiled. The girl/boy was taken aback - and returning my smile asked very politely for money. "Eiee didi, dey na!"

“Eiee Didi, Dey Na!”

This, after the rude words and clapping meted out to the other passengers, was interesting to say the least. Still smiling politely and in chaste polite Bengali I told him/her "I’m sorry, I only had the bus fare. I have one rupee left but how can I give you just that?”

Look I am a Gemini, I can sound extremely convincing while rolling my eyes inwardly, which is what I was doing. My sympathy for them had been turned into irritation - I am not a patient person and I was in a noisy crowded place with a headache. My sympathy has its limits. However, my saccharine sweet exterior worked. The boy/girl looked at me and raised a pencilled brow, saying in rough Bengali, "Eiee Didi, I know you are lying. Fine, let it be – hey your bag is very pretty – I like it!”

I smiled again and looked out of the window. Soon a great commotion began behind me, a woman had tried to stand up for herself and upon being refused, the boys/girls had predicted her first child would be born dead. Sigh.

So amidst frantic yells of "Who do you think you are? God?" and "I will bash your face in with my fist” and other expletives and foul language, I decided I had enough and got up to leave. These individuals had now cleverly blocked the exit and were swearing away to glory - in Bengali and I found the situation most unbearable. Everyone in the bus would get that treatment, they declared, no one would be allowed to leave.

I was wondering how to get off the bus, simultaneously fighting a wave of panic at being blocked in by so many people who were yelling and screaming as well as three nut jobs who were clapping to add to the din when one thought crossed my mind- that my very proper boyfriend – who hates swearing of any kind, especially in the vernacular, would have died a slow death had he been with me. Like most men in India, he is also terrified of eunuchs and loathes their very existence with a passion. And I smiled for a second imagining his horror at the filthy Bengali, the crowd and the boys/girls. And Yay! The boy/girl right in front of me saw me smile, thought it was for him/her, smiled back and said - "Oh you want to get off the bus – hey move, move! Let her off! Eiee Didi, I really like your bag!”

I ignored him/ her. But now, now I was really smiling - a very broad smile - as I jumped off the bus that had slowed down considerably. A smile had really saved the day-twice! I am going to smile more from now on - it evidently is a good way to get things done. With my smile and my cheap purple cheap jhola, I avoided being harassed and threatened with Bengali cuss words thrown in for good measure. If i had reacted with angry words and attitude, I would have been treated the same way as the other passengers. Instead, I had been let off the bus. A smile goes a long way. ‘Tis true!

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The Gift of Gifting

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Whoever said “love don’t cost a thing” was clearly bullshitting and challenged in the grammar department. Whoever tried to console us with “it’s the gesture that counts and not the credit card bill” was in reality trying to console his surly lover, who refused to talk to him after he gifted her a plain gold ring.

If you love someone, be ready to spend. It’s even better if you go bankrupt while trying to win her over.

Girls are simple creatures. Look into her eyes, call them limpid pools, tell her that her beauty makes you asthmatic, her thoughts give you insomnia…Make sure you look intense, sigh deeply and tell her how hopeless you are without her. Love is about surrender. Convince her that you are ready to follow her like an obedient puppy and rest assured she’ll be whimpering – what have I done to deserve you. See! How simple it is?
To seal the deal, ply her with gifts. Start with cute knick-knacks, move on the mined metals and settle for polished carbon. There are a 1001 ways you can make a girl happy.

Depending on how much, how little, how long, how short you intend to love her, you can adjust your budget accordingly. If you are surviving on Bank of Mummy and Daddy, you head straight for Archies and buy cute lil mugs, teddies or baubles for her. Chocolates make her happy, a pretty clutch will make her happier and if you are really desperate to impress, gift a bottle of perfume. Stoles, scarves, hair accessories, tops, kurtas, tees, make-up, flowers, watch, gadgets, fancy jewellery…phew! You don’t even have to think for five minutes before you head off for the store, to pick-up something special for her. All you need is a big heart and a bigger bank balance.

Plus you are never short of occasions to make her happy. The first anniversary of jab we met. I just got my promotion, she just got hers, her birthday, her cat’s birthday, the-weather-is-so-divine day, Valentines’ Day and if you are married – every week is an occasion to celebrate! And the icing on the cake is the mind-boggling variety of presents you can buy for her.

And if you want to piss her off really badly, buy her kitchen appliances. See! How simple it is to annoy her?
Now let’s do a role-reversal. What do you buy for your man to make him happy? Let’s consider our options. Shirts in checks, stripes or plain, tees in navy, green, white, black or grey, perfumes/after shaves, wallets, belts and THAT’S IT! He doesn’t wear make-up, can’t buy cute hair-accessories for him, he hates pink, jewellery makes him feel like a sissy, the watch he prefers is too damn expensive, he’d rather buy his gadgets himself, he doesn’t read books but journals and the last time he wrote with a pen was in college! So, by the time you’ve been together for a year, you have exhausted every single option.

So, what do we do? We go the extra mile to make him feel special. We fast for his long life, cook for him and his friends, dress up and slip into painful stilettoes for his sake, cry and sometimes even laugh for him. The laughing at him stage starts once you’ve been together for decades. While all he needs to do is go to the Coach store and pick up that pretty clutch in jade!

Now do you agree how simple it is to make women happy and how tough it is to make him squeal in delight when he unwarps his present? Now do you realize why women complain of a headache?

And despite all this, they have the temerity to complain that it’s so difficult to make a woman happy?

Damn it, just buy her a nice, thoughtful gift that she can show-off to her friends!

Yeh Dil Mange More


After a whirlwind tour of Disneyworld, Miami and Tampa to study their sewage and drainage system, Shri Mange Ram More, minister of state for Sanitation, Sewage and Drinking Water, came back with some valuable suggestions besides a dozen bottles of Blue Label, perfumes and a Rado watch from Duty Free.

A man of impeccable integrity and a lover of hard work, Mange More jee decided to get down to work as soon as he landed on US soil. He spent hours at the airport, making a careful study of all the loos located in the vicinity, interrogating all the made in Punjab janitors. He arrived at the conclusion that no drainage system was good enough to handle Indian shit. Yes, Mange Ram had finished his work in barely two hours, what ordinary mortals would take weeks to finish. Not a man used to wasting Indian tax payers money, he decided to spend the next two weeks making careful, intensive study of Uncle Sam’s bounties, especially on Miami beach.

It was after an enriching day spent at Macy’s, that he stumbled upon an unusual sight. Thousands of American men, women and children of all shapes and size gathered together to celebrate Diwali. Such funny people, celebrating Ramjee’s homecoming party on July the 4th! he mumbled to himself.

He was even more shocked when he learnt that it was the state that had paid for this extravaganza! Since when did the state start getting itself involved with the welfare of its people?

That’s when Shri More hit upon the idea that he knew would surely change the future of his country.

On arrival he headed straight for the headquarters to seek an audience with his bosses.
Before presenting his path-breaking proposal he had made sure to leak it to the media and anybody who cared to read it.

Presenting Shri Mange Ram's Charter for Festivals.

Since festivals like Diwali are nothing but a sheer waste of money, it is hereby proposed that the state will bear the burden of aam admi and sponsor community celebrations.

Since there’s no such thing as free lunch, a Diwali surcharge will be added to Income tax.

The state funded fireworks displays will take place over the River Yamuna. Since the river is already overflowing with toxin gases, it is recommended that the Yamuna be set on fire. Large stacks of files that have been collecting dust for decades in government offices will be placed symmetrically on the river bank and systematically ignited by concerned officers.

Frustrated terrorists will be encouraged to burst their bombs on the other side of the river bank instead of testing it in Hospitals, courts and marketplaces.

There will be live performances by the famed danseuse Sushma Devi, seasoned puppeteer Madam G, mime artist Manmohan Singh and a magic show by Wizard of zero loss.

The venue will also have exciting games like “Jump the red tape”, “Guess your Neta’s bank balance” , “Locate your missing file” ……

Those caught in jams on their way to venue will be entertained by their traffic signals that will play poetry by Kapil Sibal and adult education by Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

A delegation of ministers will be sent to US every year, to pick up the choicest made in China firecrackers.

33% of the celebrations will be reserved for Dalits, Meenas, Yadavs, OBC’s, Scheduled castes and Scheduled tribes.

66% of the Diwali funds will be appropriated by the hard working ministers of the cabinet.

Diwali will henceforth be called Rajeev Gandhi pataka yojnaa.

By the time Madam finished reading the proposals, her eyes were brimming with tears of joy. She humbly requested Mange Ram to include the proposal for Manmohan Singh dressing up as Santa Claus on Christmas and going door to door, begging for votes.

It was decided that an inquiry commission be set up to gauge public gratitude post Diwali celebrations. It was also decided to appoint an adhoc committee that will present a report on how to ruin other festivals as well.

As usual the proposals and guidelines were presented a day too late, in keeping with Indian traditions. Just like this blog-post on Diwali that has come out a day after the festivities.

Ek machhar salaa….

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A man and his bunch of friends were shooting at a foreign locale when a grave misunderstanding occurred. Over 166 men and women were careless enough to get killed.

If you want to be safe and alive, you have no business being out of your house!

That man, let’s call him AK-47, was given a free stay at Arthur Jail, Mumbai and awarded death by cholesterol. Unfortunately the biryani failed to work its magic and he was doomed to a diet of runny dal and overcooked veggies.

Fortunately for AK-47, Mumbai high court finally managed to frame a sentence starting with death. But this is India. A death sentence increases your chances at being alive. In fact, it’s easier to die outside the jail than inside its four walls.

Waiting to die can get boring and waiting for someone to die can get even more frustrating. So, a mosquito inspired by Nana Patekar’s memorable “Salaa ek machhar aadmi ko hijda bana deta hai” decided to test its superpowers on AK-47.

The nation erupted with joy. It was decided that the Bharat Ratna be conferred on salaa machhar for delivering speedy justice. Unfortunately justice had other plans. Even dengue gave up on AK-47.

But I’m the one who sees the brighter side of the dark and have hit upon this brilliant plan. Why not train these suckers for anti-terror operations, put them on a diet of lauki juice and then unleash them on juicy, beef fed Jehadis? It will be a win-win situation for all. The mosquitos will achieve nirvana and the terrorists will finally get to meet and mate the 72 virgins. And the virgins won’t be able to refuse men drained out of blood, who look straight out of a Twilight movie.

In fact, I’ve thought of a name for these winged monsters – Squad Choos-lee.

Unlike commandos, squad Choos-Lee needs no helicopters and expensive firearms, can swoop in undetected and create a buzz! No bullet can kill them, no bomb can maim them and what’s more they do not demand hefty salaries or complain of lack of direction in life. They are happy as happy can be.

And God forbid if the sting operation fails they will not resort to blackmail and demand hundreds of crores.

What’s more, it will give the mosquitoes a chance at redemption. After centuries of infecting the tax-paying, politician fun-making innocents and their offspring, they can finally channelize their sucking powers for the greater good of humanity.

I humbly request the government and the Ambanis take my proposal seriously. I already have my first batch ready – thousands of Aedes and Anopheles breeding in AIIMS and Safdurjung hospital.

While North Korea and China waste millions of dollars on nukes, India will stun the world with their version of organic WMDs. US, the self-appointed saviour of the world, can outsource their drone attacks to us and we in turn can outsource it to Squad Choos-Lee!

Sigh! I can almost imagine those misguided zealots whom the world calls terrorists screaming - Thappad se darr nahin lagta sahib, machhar se lagta hai!

And the Nobel prize for peace will finally get a deserving winner, me.

Let's talk about Sex

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I’m in a mood to give parenting gyan. Not that I claim to have a Doctorate in parenting. In fact I barely graduated. After just one offspring I threw up my hands and said “Phew! Not again.” The prospect of having to scrounge for fallen leaves, ice-cream sticks for school projects and cutting up saris to design costumes for a fancy dress contest, all over again, gave me the heebie-jeebies. The tsunami of butterflies in your stomach just before exam results are about to be announced is not meant to be experienced twice.
Parenthood is one hell of a ride – you are constantly switching gears between heaven and hell. It leaves you traumatised but also gives you your biggest highs. We give our best years to our kids, yet we don’t regret it even once!

It will be safe to assume that I’ve been a reasonable parent. After all, my daughter has put up with me for eighteen years and hasn’t tried to run away even once.

When I was young, I would often fantasize about running away. But the fear of travelling IInd class kept my plans at bay. I spent most of my teen feeling victimised by my parents. Who on Earth expects their daughter to work hard, do well and make them proud, especially when there’s so much fun to be had! I dreamt of a town where Math had yet to be discovered and of course tall dark, devastatingly handsome men, who took an entire book to say “I love you”.

I still haven’t asked Tee, my daughter whether she has similar dreams.

But Tee like any other normal teen has called me awful, mean and all that blah besides the mandatory “Mum, you’re awesome”. We’ve had bitter arguments and there have been times when I’ve resorted to the most dreaded crime of all – nagging. There comes a stage in your life when you think your parents don’t understand you. There also comes a time in your life when you think your child doesn’t care for you enough. I have gone through both.
The other day over steaming cups of adrak chai, a friend confided that she discovered some naughty messages that her daughter had exchanged with a couple of boys. Strangers she had met online. Upset, she couldn’t help get rid of the feeling that her teenaged daughter had betrayed her trust.

Instead of telling you how she dealt with it, I will throw this googly at you. What will you do if you discovered some naughty messages/ sex clips on your teen’s mobile/laptop device?

Allow me to make certain presumptions before I proceed with what I have to say. Most of you will react rather than respond when faced with such a situation. Treat this as an emergency and resort to harsh decisions which will start with a long lecture interspersed with tears and end with a list of don’ts. It will bring out the worst in you and some of you will even consider spying on his/her online activities. You felt deceived and now it’s your duty to keep your child in check, right?
I feel, the moment we start judging our kids, we start losing them. Express outrage and rest assured your child will take pains to hide things from you. Say no and make sure that your offspring adds it to her must-do list. Start snooping and you will lose their trust completely.

We always have our children’s best interest at heart but there are better ways to express it.

You have to be their friend to understand what’s going on in their minds but before that you need to get off the pedestal you’ve placed yourselves on.

I fail to understand, why it is so tough for us to accept the so called mistakes our kids make! It’s as if we have made it our duty to mould our progeny into role models for the society and the moment they falter, we feel let down. Experience and age has taught me that there are no absolute rights and wrongs. They keep evolving with time. We have to accept that times are changing and stop ourselves from making, when-I-was-your-age lectures! Have you forgotten how annoying you found it when you were a teen?

S/he was eight when you first told him/her about the bad touch and good touch. It’s time to tell them, sex in not something to feel ashamed of. In fact if done right, it’s one of the most divine experiences. And believe me, the current generation knows more about sex than us. And since it is always discussed in school, it is natural that they will be curious to find out about it. If your child asks you what a Dildo is, for God’s sake don’t start sputtering with embarrassment. Look him/her straight into the eye and tell. Believe me s/he will love you for it. I know this for a fact.

Another friend invited her son and his college friends to her place. Even though she hated the idea of it, she offered them beer. The last time they had a party; the boys had snuck out of the house and bought cartons of beer. This time not a single one of them touched it. Since it was out there in the open it was no longer exciting for them.

We are scared to let go of our children, because we expect them to falter. Then we complain they are not responsible enough. We have to learn to let go. Being over-protective will do them more harm than good. Give them the freedom they crave for and watch them soar. All the values you instilled in her, all the good she imbibed from you – sit back and watch it bloom. Tell her you trust her judgement and it’s okay to commit mistakes.

So, if you find “Imma gonna whoop ur ass when I c u in skul” on her mobile, don’t freak out. Take a deep breath and say – It’s time we talked about sex.