The Almond Tree

This book review by Trisha Ray is part of The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program. To get free books log on

Rating: 3.5/5

In war, there are no winners. There is only bloodshed.

The Almond Tree traces the rollercoaster-like life of AhmedHamid, eldest of 7, an Arab-Palestinian growing up in Isreali-occupied territory. Ahmed has a gift for science and numbers, graduating from school with a scholarship. But circumstances change one night, triggering a series of events that slowly destroy his family.

I’ll be frank with you: this is not a happy story. The author,Michelle Cohen Corasanti, lulls you into a false sense ofsecurity, and just as you begin to think that things are starting to get better for Ahmed, you get a literary slap in the face. Isuppose there is no other way to tell a story set in the backdrop of the Israel-Palestine conflict. The staccato tone of this book keeps you grounded in reality (yes, I am aware this is a work of fiction but it imitates life pretty well). Ahmed watches as the violence and horrors of the conflict gradually corrupts his mother and siblings, and with only his father on his side, he forges ahead, from the slaughterhouse to the hallowed classrooms of MIT (Massachusetts, not Manipal).

It is not easy to write about a conflict so steeped in complications that it has been deemed in academic circles as “irresolvable”. Corasanti is careful, for the most part, not to delve too deeply into the political antecedents, deciding instead to focus on the human element. She shows how the same set of events can have profoundly different impacts on different people. On one end of the spectrum is Ahmed: who takes the Gandhian route and decides to let go of his fear and hatred and instead work within the boundaries of his circumstances toward a promising future. His brother Abbasis his polar opposite. He decides to fight fire with fire, eventually joining the Hamas. One point to note, however, is that Abbas seems to be demonized by the author. Her choice is interesting because it reflects a very old moral debate. Is Ahmed the better man to have ignored the conflict? Or isAbbas better man to have fought for the freedom of his people? Are the darkest places in hell truly reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis?

Bless You.

I want you all to experience what I do when I read Dagny Sol. I turn into a sponge that wants to soak in her wisdom.  Her words inspire me to try harder and expect less in return. To live deeper,  cherish more and be the sunshine that we crave for in our lives. 

In this post she talks about how a simple word of blessing, a genuine thought of goodwill towards another person, an authentic hope that someone would find joy, is one of  our life's most fulfilling accomplishments. 

A freelance corporate trainer, Dagny Sol also blogs here 

A couple of years ago I read a newsletter from one of the inspirational websites I keep stumbling upon from time to time. The fact that I still remember the gist of the mail’s contents shows how powerful the message was. Yet, there was nothing spectacular about the message. It was as simple as a child’s spontaneous hug; as soothing as a gentle, misty rain after a parched, dusty day.

The mail contained an excerpt from Kate Nowak’s book May You Be Blessed. In this excerpt Kate talks about the unfolding of the events that led her to write the book. It is a simple but powerful story. Let me recount it as best as I can, from memory.

A few days after her father's death, she had gone grocery shopping. She was standing in an empty aisle of a large store when she suddenly sneezed. Almost instantly, from the next aisle she heard a voice call out, "Bless you," and then another, and another, and yet another. In the span of a few seconds, she counted eleven different voices coming from every possible direction in the store, blessing her.

For some reason, perhaps because she had recently lost her father and was still feeling lost and vulnerable, this simple event made a deep impact upon her. She knew that the idea of blessing someone when they sneeze is rooted in superstition, an archaic belief that in the act of sneezing the soul is thrown from the body, and a blessing is needed for spiritual protection. Hence she also knew that saying “Bless you” when someone sneezes is more a polite, automatic response than a deliberate calling down of blessingand grace on the person. Even so, she was overwhelmed.

Baramulla Bomber- Read At Your Own Risk

This book review by Trisha Ray is part of The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program

Plot- rating - 3/5

Quantum Physics meets Bible and Vedas in Background of Kashmir and Cricket

This super snazzy description paired with that sexy cover photo will pique the interest of even the least bookish. It’s the literary equivalent of a suspiciously colourful cocktail at a bar with questionable rep. You have no clue how it’ll taste, or if you’ll even live to see another day, but damn it, you’ll just have to die trying. That said, I must confess I went in with minimal expectations, given my previous experience with amateurish attempts at thrillers.

Baramulla Bomber is the author, Clark Prasad’s, very first novel. We follow the meteoric rise of Mansur Haider (the titular Baramulla Bomber) through to the ranks of the Indian national cricket team, in the backdrop of a joint terrorist plot involving both China and Pakistan; spanning Oslo, Mumbai, New Delhi, Kashmir, a little cove in Scotland and Islamabad; along with the underlying theme of ‘primordial sound (aka Om)’ and a bunch of people called the Guardians. Confused? Well take an aspirin, down an espresso and forge ahead.

First, the positives-The author irrefutably has an impressive repertoire of information. There aren’t many novels in the market that deal so extensively with Indian intelligence (no pun intended), and it’s a nice plus seeing our (surprisingly competent) security forces and government portrayed in a positive light. The plot has all the potential of being the sci-fi espionage thriller it promises to be, and a cast of consistently good-looking, tall and multi-talented characters. I was genuinely intrigued by the entire concept of primordial sound and its ability to both heal and annihilate. The entire book was littered with factoids about warfare (from border skirmishes with Pakistan and China to US’s invasion of Iraq) and religion which were enough to sustain my interest, despite the negatives. 

Making your death a truly memorable moment of your life

Death is a very special occasion in our lives. Like birth, it is a once in a lifetime occurrence. Unlike birth, people have seen you for a lifetime before your death. So, when you finally breathe your last after keeping the world on tenterhooks, it’s hardly a surprise to see the world erupt in a tsunami of carefully crafted grief. Nelson Mandela’s was one such demise where millions took to social media to express their admiration to honour his extraordinary life. 7.2 million tweets were generated and 39 million Facebookers shared something besides their selfies. Of course, you have to be a Mandela to have David Cameron, Obama, Bill Clinton call you inspirational and a hero of our times. You can always trust an American senator to accord the highest possible honour and call Mandela “George Washington and Abraham Lincoln” of his country. An enthusiastically grieving Tweeter even went to the extent of RIPing him using Morgan Freeman’s picture. I suppose it was their skin tone and their being around for a while that confused the guy, but both have stature – one famous for playing God on celluloid and the other to South Africans exploited and discriminated against in their own country. 

Image courtesy - Twitter

It was as if everyone, from media houses to the common man, was impatiently waiting for Madiba to bid goodbye, for them to finally vent their grief that they had been storing for so long. In fact New York Times’ obituary had been in the works since 2007. You can imagine their immense relief when he finally obliged. Quite like Tendulkar, an innings a tad short of a century. But unlike him, Mandela got only one chance.

It pays rich dividends to keep the world waiting and not taking them by surprise by popping off suddenly. Everyone gets time to collect their wits, keep the right things ready and not sob like a blabbering fool trying to cope with unexpected loss.

Here lies the catch. Of what use are all the kind words eulogising you and singing paeans to your greatness, when you are no longer alive to read them. Who, beside you, cares enough to google all 1687970 articles, 7.2 million tweets and 39 million Facebook updates written in your honour! It was like everyone around you was waiting for you to die to admire your life.

What a terrible waste of your demise if you can’t experience even a fraction of that hysteria that you generated with your departure!

Madam, there’s a drone hovering in your backyard.

For all cyber junkies and Amazon faithfuls, the week couldn’t have started on a better note when Amazon announced its ambitious plans of turning into Dominos. Before you start counting the toppings on your pizza and your calories, let me clarify that it is the 30 minutes delivery or else that Amazon plans to emulate. The very concept that Domino lifted from your trusted Kalu’s kirana store that delivers Kurkure, 6 bottles of Banta and three unopened packets of Haldiram’s Masala peanuts, in ten minutes or else you call Uncle jee again. As for Chicken Makhani Tikka pizza, you’ll still have to rely on your neighbourhood Pijja corner.

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos revealed the giant online store is developing a drone-based delivery service called Prime Air that will deliver orders half-hour after you click the "buy" button.

It is comforting to know that The Federal Aviation Administration operates at the same efficiency levels as its Indian counterparts and will take at least 4-5 years to sort out the rules and regulations for these commercial drones to be operational.

I feel, for Amazon to succeed in their ambitious plans they have to change their products’ profile. For instant delivery of books, we already have Kindle versions that take under 2 minutes to download. Why would I pay the extra money for speedy delivery of gadgets, shoes, toys when I can either walk down to the nearest store and pick it up instantly or be a little patient and save money!

It has to be a craving that demands instant gratification. Like when you’re stuck in a traffic snarl for over four hours, frothing like an over-fermented toddy; before you can scream – Saale, tere baap ka rasta hai kya, a drone appears in the horizon, snaps a pair of wings on your shoulders and off you fly away from this unholy mess and into your wife’s waiting arms, the car be damned. Or you’re climbing the Everest and longing for Maa ke hath ka khana or even Maa. In just 30 minutes you can head to the nearest cave and gobble up Rajma-chawal with your Maa beseeching you with – Beta, sweater pehno. You’re stuck in a dull meeting with your Boss’s screechy voice driving you up the wall and you wish he relocates to a Tibetan monastery and never comes back and voila Amazon drops the complete series of the Dalai Lama’s teachings on his head! Imagine you’ve been kidnapped by Maoists and are tied to a tree waiting to be executed, wouldn’t it be brilliant if Prime Air airdrops Arundhati Roy to mediate on your behalf! Instead of deploying the state police to stalk his lady love, a certain Saheb can use drones to snoop on her.

The Ketchup Worshiper

When the beauteous and talented Janaki Nagaraj asks you to guest post for her blog Memoirs of a Homemaker you just can't say no to her. Her Poetry blog is avidly followed and rated amongst the top. 

After much procrastination I came up with this saucy post.....
Courtesy - Google images

The title says it all. This is going to be a dedication to those unique specimens to whom the thought of food without ketchup is like a movie without item-numbers. A magic potion that makes broccoli bearable, fries scrumptious, bread-pakoras slurpcious. With ketchup on your side, you feel invincible, courageous enough to stab a heap of boiled spinach and manoeuvre it towards your mouth, say yes to the boiled piece of chicken that Mrs Mehra has so lovingly prepared in your honour. It’s your best friend who never lets you down.

One of my earliest memories of school is of a classmate who ate everything with ketchup. Be it parantha, boiled eggs or even sandwiches. Having spent most of my formative years partaking paranthas, puris, kachoris with jam, I found this habit of hers rather weird. This was till I discovered the sinful taste of Maggi Chilli Garlic sauce and then I was damaged for life.

Let’s just say it was love at first lick. One look at it and I knew we were destined to be together for ever. I mean, who in his/her right mind can resist the taste of sweet and tarty tomatoes tingling with chillies and garlic. The heady burst of aroma and taste is capable of uplifting even the most insipid to sensuous highs.

To read more, click here...

Challenges Teenagers Face

If Nirbhaya's brutal assault and subsequent death shook the nation and brought us out on the streets to demand justice, the Roast Busters case, a sordid sag of under-aged girls being exploited for sex, brought New Zealanders on the streets to raise their voice against its rape and victim blaming culture.

Khoty Mathur, author of Never Mind Yaar and a concerned parent, talks about this alarming trend of teens veering towards dangerous territory for the sake of few cheap thrills. A long time resident of Wellington, she also blogs here.

We all know that freedom has a price. It is rarely free.

Take the recent “Roast Busters” case in NZ. Young men of eighteen slept with under-aged girls - as young as thirteen and fourteen - in 2011 and then boasted about it on facebook, naming and shaming the girls.

What came as a shock was the role the NZ police played in the whole sordid affair.

Apparently, the girls were so inebriated they didn’t know what was happening. The difference between the rapes that hit the headlines in India recently and the Roast Buster rapes is that the youngsters were known to one another.

This post lets you know the facts of the case but isn’t about being judgemental. It is about the challenges teenagers and their parents face today.

Teenagers, whether in NZ or India, are getting a taste of freedom as never before and it is important for them to know the responsibilities and consequences that go with it. I am aware that in India the majority are content to go for healthy, light hearted fun, are busy trying to excel at studies or are under strict parental authority. Yet, the videos about boys from ordinary homes misbehaving with girls on Delhi roads were pretty alarming.

What can parents do about their young with raging hormones who indulge their own desires uncaring of the feelings of their victims? Mike Cagney, who has worked with scores of abusers, says abusers go ahead because

– it felt good at the moment

– was gratifying

– they couldn’t stop

– they felt they could get away with it.

He says almost 80% regret it afterwards. [I wonder - Do they realise how disgusting and unpleasant the experience was for the victims and that isn’t a nice feeling?] Before they become repeat offenders (who regret it afterwards) he talks to them. Here’s the entire radio interview. Perhaps we, as parents could pick up some pointers on how to prevent our own teens from becoming abusers instead of feeling helpless in the face of their unchecked raging hormones.

What about our normal teens out to have a good time with friends? The ones who are definitely growing up and need to be out amongst their peers more often than with parents, and yet, need to have set boundaries?

Teenagers are at an age when their bodies are changing and evolving. Parents watch their little babies growing up. But while they mature physically, mentally they still have a lot of growing up to do. Some parents marry them off! But most parents, brave souls, take on the terrible teens.

We understand it isn’t easy growing up and that in spite of their temper tantrums, their harsh criticism and manipulative behaviour they need to feel safe and loved. We know they face hormonal changes and grappling with new emotions is confusing and exhausting.

So you think you’re smart!

So, you thought you were smart when you mortgaged your gold tooth and a kidney to buy that much hyped smartphone- a technology so smart that it compressed the world in your palm. All you had to do was leave smudge marks all over the screen to access information crucial to your existence. Like finding out through Facebook that Mrs Sharma was taking off to Buenos Aires for a three week sojourn and reading your husband’s will miss you sweetie, in one of the many comments. That Delhi has been hit by an earthquake yet again and people were so traumatised that they had to wake-up in the middle of the night to tweet about it. Then you were so engrossed in forwarding Lol, this is too funny yaar, jokes to all your 65 Whatsapp contacts, by the time you looked up, you realized you hadn’t exchanged a word with friends you were out lunching with. Since you’re a strong believer of making up for lost time, you smile sexily for the selfies you take with your friends, click photos of all that you ingested for lunch and coolly post them on Facebook.

Just as you step out of the restaurant, your mobile pings. You narrowly miss colliding into the pillar as you discover to your delight that it’s the much awaited mail from your client. You hastily punch in a reply and press send. It’s when he immediately replies WITH PLEASURE! in caps you find out you’d accidently keyed in ‘I look forward to sleeping with you’ instead of speaking! Wasn’t it last week you’d texted “Happy Birthday, dead husband” to Ajesh, your friend sniggers. You direct your iciest glare at your friend and mumble “He knows, I meant dear” through gritted teeth.

You’ve often wondered if smartphone technology meant you to have spindle shaped fingers. The last time you used your stubby fingers to surf the World Wide Web, you ended up sending a friend request to your daughter’s boyfriend and now she won’t talk to you. To add insult to injury, your phone has an autocorrect feature that insists on behaving like your Mom, completing words and sentences before you can finish them and embarrassing you in public.

You have a sinking feeling that your smartphone has succeeded in its evil design in making you stupid. Why else would you be walking on the pavement like a zombie with your eyes glued to the screen and a silly smile pasted on your face, unmindful of manholes and potholes? But isn’t it how normal beings behave these days – each lost in a world of their own making, oblivious to their surroundings. A new world order where people prefer gazing at their phones to smiling at strangers and trying to make friends…Where drivers are more concerned about replying to texts than road safety. 

A definitive guide to preventing rapes

The CBI, India’s highest investigative agency, has been in pursuit of truth since 1963. An unbiased agency that knows no allegiance and is impervious to political pressure, it is every common and uncommon man’s only hope for justice. So, when its revered chief Ranjit Sinha, in a rare show of candour makes a profound statement about rapes and asks women to enjoy if they can’t stop it, one has no choice but to sit up and take his advice seriously.

Dear women, it’s time you started treating rape like our law enforcement agencies do, as a harmless extra-curricular activity. It’s almost legal, just like Mr Sinha would have betting be treated. As such it was your damn fault that you got raped. Ask any respectable police officer and he’ll tell you when a woman is not covered from head to toe, she wants men to rape her. So, when you venture out of the house for work or pleasure, you are clearly being adventurous. And if you’re not wearing a sack, you are obviously asking for trouble.

If you are stupid enough to get raped, be prepared to be called a slut who did not get paid. According to Delhi Police, expert on sexual crimes, 90% of rape cases are mere business dealings. So, if you were 'really' raped, you would never complain for fear of media and society. Only ‘loose’ women with dubious reputations go to Police stations to file complaints against sexual assaults. Nice women quietly go home and cry.

According to a Policeman’s code of conduct for women – nice women – certainly do not consume alcohol. When a man drinks, he turns into a sex-crazed Neanderthal, incapable of controlling himself. Conclusively, women who drink and place themselves in the company of men having a drink are sluts looking for trouble.

It is a known fact that no respectable lady gets raped in India. Even an underworld don will not like to touch a woman of respect. And if you are in Bharat, no man will touch you even with a barge pole. It’s because in RSS’s Bharat Mahaan, every woman is treated like a cow and every cow is your Mother. Therefore every woman is treated like a mother. Get it?

Monsters of the Matinee

Ms Tee went to watch Thor and came back bubbling like an active Volcano. 

In India, if you’re planning to watch a movie at a cinema theatre, you are requested to leave your sense and sensibilities behind. No, I’m not talking about Krrish3 here- I’m too snobby for Hollywood rip-offs. I’m talking about the esteemed variety of movie goers that treats the theatre as their living hall and believes silence is meant for lambs. Since I am usually the silent one, trying her best not to combust with outrage at the manner-less of the manor born, I prefer turning into the observer surrounded by a halo of thought bubbles. Once you detach yourself from all things worldly, the ground becomes fertile for some Animal Planet-like observations. 

Here I give my list of pathological behaviours seen in movie audiences-

1. The UPPERCASE variety

Their mobiles are like an extra appendage, or a buzzing tumour on their ear. There is the ‘mildly considerate’ type that will whisper into their phones like they are on their honeymoon. The most common strain of this pathology however presents itself as loud, self-important conversations. If cornered, they will shout out expletives and ask loudly if the offender knows who s/he is. Do not try and reason with them by asking them why they’ve even come to a movie hall if they aren’t going to actually watch one. They are stubborn and the only way to deal with them is to find a seat as far away from them as possible. Maybe hide their phone when they go for a bathroom break. Whatever works for you.

2. The Child on a Sugar High

The most common and by far the most annoying, they are the common cold of movie hall pathologies. They are present everywhere. I watched Black Swan accompanied by constant wailing. First, why would you even bring your infant to a movie as psychologically damaging as Black Swan? Second, this is INDIA: The land of domestic help. If you can leave your children in their care for the better part of the year, 2 hours should not be a problem. If you’re lucky, your local annoying child will only take laps of the entire hall. If 13 black cats have crossed your path, you’ll get a screamer. Fingers crossed.

3. The Canoodling Couple

Dark, air-conditioned, comfy: ideal conditions to get your freak on. Just one problem- there are a hundred-something other people in this space with you. I have no objections if you book those two corner seats in the back of the hall. They even call those seats “couple couches” in Odeon BIG Cinemas. However, if you sit in the 5th row, bang in the middle (no pun intended), you are asking to be pelted with popcorn. If you’re a gentleman, you’ll take her someplace nicer. If you’re a lady, you’ll insist he does.

Made in Phoren Festive Fervour

My first Diwali outside the country was a Shakespearean tragedy. I blame my craving for the desi and my penchant for adventure to get the adrenaline flowing. You have to be brave or desperate or both to venture out of the comforting confines of your home, only to put yourself through three hours of excruciating torture, fittingly titled, “Jab tak hai Jaan”. At that time, spending our valuable dollars on Indian cinema’s Granddaddy of Mush’s swansong was the closest we could think of making our Diwali memorable. It was memorable all right but for all the wrong reasons. By the time we were done with the movie, we barely had jaan to walk back home. But what does one do in a city, where lighting up diyas inside your apartment can set off the fire-alarm…. where mithai is either frozen or so vividly coloured that it’ll put even Govinda’s wardrobe to shame… the most hyped Diwali Mela is more like a school function where you blink back tears as you listen to an off-key, heavily accented rendition of Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram as you spoon in a mouthful of lamb biryani….where your friends and family are so far away that they can only offer you comfort over the phone!

Your safe, quiet, picture-perfect, wine-sipping, steak hating life in Brisbane is no match to the chaotic but vibrant, stressful but exciting, noisy yet comforting existence in Delhi. It’s a treat to watch Delhi brighten up like an about-to-wed bride, weeks before the festival. There’s a sudden spring in her step, her complexion starts glowing and she surprises herself with her indefatigable energy to shop, shop and shop some more.

It’s surprising what nostalgia can do to your memory as it filters out the unpleasant and retains only the positives. Gone are the memories of getting stuck in nasty traffic snarls, getting your toes trampled at the market crammed with eager Diwali shoppers, scouting Big Bazaar looking for the perfect gifts for your household helps and the noisy celebrations with Yoyo Honey Singh for company. All I can recall is the joy I felt when I saw my city look her most beautiful on Diwali night and the taste of the festive treats. Why, I even managed to miss the “Madam jee, bakshish” brigade!

The not so Immaculate Conception

It’s how we define good news defines the various stages of our life. We all start as our parent’s good news and continue being the harbinger of good news in their life. After all, this is the sole purpose of our lives, to be our neighbour’s envy and parent’s pride! It’s what good news is all about, to induce various shades of envy in people who mean little or nothing to us.

As a trying-to-be-funny-blogger once said – one wo/man’s good news is another wo/man’s cause for acidity.

There comes a stage in our life when we fall in love and get married (not necessarily in that order). In India, once you’re married, your sex-life becomes a matter of public discussion. Whether it’s your colleagues commenting on the dark circles under your eyes, or the snide comments the hickey on your neck invites or the knowing look in your friend’s eyes as she surveys your expanding décolletage – your bedroom antics become the source of entertainment for one and all. As the months turn into years, your love turns into a responsibility to keep the family lineage alive. If you dare ignore it, everyone you know and might not know takes it upon themselves to constantly remind you of your failure to contribute to the world’s exploding population. And then one fine day you’re so fed up that you walk up to your husband and say – Darling, let’s do it, I’m ovulating.

So, when you are finally ready to make the announcement, it’s news so good that it doesn’t give acidity to others but you – an acidity that doesn’t last a couple of hours but nine whole months!

When I first held the lab test report confirming my pregnancy, my hands were trembling with joy. Yay! We were finally going to have our own baby, who will be only too glad to take on the responsibility of becoming the caretaker of our joy. Phew! What a relief.

I celebrated it with a neat little puke in the corner.

Do Pious Women Go to Heaven?

Image courtesy - Google images

With her eyes downcast, as she follows the man she has promised to love till her last breath and takes the seven circumambulations around the sacred fire, a woman has no idea this is what she’ll be doing for the rest of her life – running around in circles. Only the sacred fire gets replaced by the ones she loves and will learn to love with time. After all, she is the nurturer, the one who makes the house a home, the banisher of dust and her family’s moody blues, the expert haggler who returns victorious with an extra bunch of coriander, the Sunday morning Aloo-Parantha maker who brings cheer to life of others.

With time she learns to stop protesting and start appreciating his unusual taste in movies and gives up her love for Chinese cuisine because he can’t think beyond dal makhani and karahi paneer. His sisters become hers. His Mom becomes her Mummy dearest who insists on regaling her with exploits of the greatest thing alive – her son. Even as her eyes glaze over as she hears the story of how Bunty won a year’s supply of Bournvita when he stood IInd at the Quiz Contest, for the 35th time, she doesn’t grumble because she knows this makes her ma-in-law happy.

She was conditioned to believe that children are gifts of God. So, when all she experiences is revulsion at the sight of runny noses and smelly diapers, she castigates herself in front of the mirror and proceeds to surround herself with posters of overweight photoshopped babies with blue eyes.

Over the years she and castigation have become best friends. She still can’t over the guilt when she felt like banging her head on the wall for having created monsters who look like her in-laws… For harbouring violent thoughts when her husband innocently asked – isn’t this the second time in the week we are having lauki koftas? For faking sickness at office just so that she could get a few hours alone, at home…Feeling secretly relieved when he said that he’d be gone for a fortnight….

Not all women are natural born givers, who gladly sacrifice their happiness for the sake of others. Not all of us are adept at pushing our needs under the carpet. Some of us play along for the sake of pretences, some of us protest too much, while a few seek retribution by making life hell for others. Some of us try to have careers that our education demanded of us. But what we all share in common is that awful sense of guilt for not being a good-enough mom, daughter and wife.

Axe Them If You Can't Beat Them

Also on The Unreal Times

It was a fateful morning when Kumari Ashanti Kumari (KAKU), chief agitator of Peedhit Nari Bachao Yojana, chanced upon a revolutionary product. A spray that claims to make ugly, jeans hanging-underwear-showing, hormonal and insecure boys, desirable to all the hot aunties of their locality, but in reality does exactly the opposite. Mostly preferred by boys who think bathing is so last century and attempt to mask their body odour by dousing themselves with copious quantities of this deodorizer, they are able to have a universal effect on women – make them breathless.

What a divine coincidence that this product is called Axed!

A light bulb lit up right above KAKU’s head! What if she could tweak the deodorant’s chemical components and make it stink so bad that when sprayed on oneself, it makes people around you literally breathless and senseless! With a spray that makes you reek like an open manhole, she could save her sisters from the clutches of lecherous men with no self-control or conscience.

After months of painful research and development, she finally had a product that could make you smell like a Mumbai commuter’s armpits. Ashanti sprayed 177 girls of all shapes and sizes with this vile product and discovered much to her delight that it had the desired effect on men! It knocked their breath out of their lungs.

It’s Love, Stupid!

Google images

There’s an imbecile in all of us, dying to come out at the first hint of love. My first brush with the incredible stupidity much in love couples display was as a 10 year old on a summer trip to Mount Abu. It was one not so fine morning, when we stepped into the sightseeing bus crammed with eager tourists armed with cameras and Uncle Chips, that I first encountered this strange species - a motley group of honeymooning couples coochie–cooing like crows in heat. One of them must have spotted the terror in my eyes. Before I could scream Mummy, save me, I was perched firmly on their laps. The next few hours I was privy to the most inane conversations ever heard and embarrassing public displays of affection. Every time the bus halted they would scurry off to the nearest cliff and pose Khajuraho style with me as the hapless spectator. Needless to say I was traumatized.

Love spares no one and I knew I was infected when Nadeem Shravan and Altaf Raja songs started making sense. I discovered the true meaning of insomnia in “Mujhe neend na aaye, mujhe chain na aaye”. With a stupid smile plastered on my face, I would walk around aimlessly, often banging into pillars. A firm believer of keeping my options multiple, I would be in love with at least 4 guys at a time. A lost- puppy look on my face and a playlist of the cheesiest romantic songs constantly playing in my head, I was dying to feel like a heroine in a Mills and Boons novel, touched for the very first time.

I was in search of my tall, dark, obscenely rich and brooding, silent and tortured hero! When I did find a guy with looks to kill, he’d open his mouth and spoil it all. The silent brooding one was dull and the rich one was yet to be born! But that did not deter me from crushing over guys I had no intention of confessing my love to.

Finally I did find love and with it the imbecile in me. Every time the phone rang, I would run towards it like PT Usha on steroids, sink into deep depression if he didn’t call me every two hours. I would look for pathetic excuses to call him again and again. Mind you, these were the pre-mobile days, so I had no way of driving him up the wall with “do you miss/love/care for me?” texts! I found everything about him incredibly endearing including his body odour and would feel hurt if a friend passed a snide remark on his cute flappy ears. Silly girl, she’s just jealous!

If poverty is a state of mind, fodder is food for thoughts that cross the mind

Courtesy NDTV.Com

The union of Murderers Arsonists and Rapists (MAAR) registered a strong protest after ex-Bihar chief minister Aloo Prasad was taken to Ranchi Central jail. The jail, named fondly after Birsa Munda who died here of cholera, will be home to Aloo and his 44 thieves. MAAR spokesperson Sushil Gunde expressed concern at this alarming trend of disqualified elected members invading their sanctum sanctorum and promised to dismember the members’ members.

In a country where criminals get more protection than law-abiding citizens and a judicial system that’s so slow and complicated, it is a miracle that criminals actually get convicted. Getting into jail is no cakewalk – it requires a clever combination of perseverance, enterprise, willingness to get caught and pissing off influential relatives or elected members, disqualified or otherwise. “Just as we were looking forward to enjoying the fruits of our labour and spending a peaceful, bribe free, inflation free and rent free existence in prison, our peace of mind is shattered with the arrival of these VIP inmates. It sucks that jails are now reserved for former politicians and businessmen. Where will poor run-of-the-mill murderers, thieves and rapists go?” exclaimed Gunde.

Besharam Kundu, a long time veteran who has spent 26 blissful years behind bars for stealing his neighbour’s goat rued: “there was a time when the high and mighty were forced to sup with petty criminals like us. Be it a serial killer or a pick-pocket, we were all made to share the same stinking lavatories and have the same watery daal with undercooked rice. My stomach still grumbles at the memory of that momentous day when all 420 of us went down with cholera after feasting on six day old kheer served in honour of the jail-warden’s birthday. Not anymore!” he spat. “We now have to put up with disgraced barons, real estate magnates, high profile ministers who arrive with much fan-fare and are treated like damads visiting their sasural. I fear, they will damage our cholera reputation ”.

The Dark Cloud over Nina Davuluri's win

Courtesy - Indian Express
Nina Davuluri is the best publicity the Miss America pageant could have hoped for. A carnival of beauty that has been long shunned for parading women like cattle and judging them on the basis of genes inherited from their parents. It’s nothing more than a procession of Barbies in bikinis and high heels with perfect hair, flawless makeup and disturbingly white teeth and uniformly boring when they mouth rehearsed wisdom to the 25 questions they had prepared. Or like Jon Stewart of The Daily Show so eloquently describes as a wonderful mosaic of sizes 0 to 2.

Why just America, beauty pageants across the world are dull! I can’t remember the last time I sat through one.

In India the reaction to Ms Davuluri’s historic win came in stages. It began as a trickle of self-congratulatory posts on social media for sharing the same gene pool as the first made in India, Miss USA. A few hours later it turned into a tsunami of outrage after BuzzFeed shared a tirade of racist tweets directed at Ms Davuluri. It did shock a lot of us that the world’s most powerful nation had citizens with Geography so poor that they couldn’t differentiate an Indian from an Arab and had heaped unflattering epithets like Ms Al Qaeda on her!

Interestingly, a lot of us returned the favour in equal measure as we went around dissing America as a nation of dumb racists.

It was convenient for us to ignore the fact that there will be as many opinions as there are people and if you go looking for ugly underbelly kind of stuff, there are people who will collate and find it for you. So, why get upset over the riff-raff that is carefully screened and used as proof to dump on the whole nation! If a set of Americans found it impossible to accept that an immigrant was chosen as America’s most beautiful, there was also the panel of judges and audience that selected her to represent first New York and then their nation internationally!

Just like no single template can be used to describe a diverse culture like India, we cannot paint the world’s third most populous nation with the same brush.

Kyonki Dadajee Bhi Kabhi Driver Thhe….

Courtesy - The Unreal Times

Episode 18678 - Rajnath shows concern for Adwhiney

Telecast Date: Friday the 13th - 15th 2013

Minutes after Moody is anointed as the new chariot driver of the Kamal family for the Great Chariot Races, he rushes to rejected driver, Dadajee(DJ) Adwhiney to sort out their differences and seek his blessings. Adwhiney has yet to come to terms that despite being the head charioteer for decades and causing riots like his arch rival Moody, he has been discarded like a banana peel. The patriarch refuses to accept that at sexty-three, fast and furious Moody is Lotus family’s only hope for a win in the marathon against the evil Gundi family. Unfortunately, at 85, Adwhiney jee the Iron Man (Louh Purush) of the K family is rusting.

As he enters DJs chamber, Moody overhears him seeking tips from Afridi on how to remain 18 forever. Moody blushes a deep shade of saffron before rushing headlong to DJ jee’s feet. He tries his best to mute the noise of bubbling ladoos in his heart because he can’t bear to see Adwhiney burst into tears, yet again. DJ is no mood to forgive Moody for putting a brake to his race to the finishing line. He is distraught that he will never be allowed to run over the economy like Gundi family in his out of control chariot.

PM, Sonia Condemn Condoms For Their Irresponsible Conduct

Image Courtesy -

A day after the comptroller and auditor general took the Union health ministry to task for the 10,000 missing condom vending machines (CVMs), India TV, a channel dedicated to matters of national importance like “khatarnakh bhatak” stunned the nation with the video footage of the vending machines walking away in a huff! It’s still unclear how inanimate machines that had dedicated the rest of their lives to vending weapons of mass protection had come to life to express their dissent.

Speculations were rife about the reason behind this sudden uprising and which foreign hand to blame this time. Some even went to the extent of expressing their doubts about the patriotic leanings of these made in China machines! “Is this China’s ultimate revenge against India for desecrating their cuisine with Gobhi Manchurian and Chinese Bhel” thundered Arnab Goswami!

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was quick to condemn the condoms and added that they will not succeed in their evil designs. When asked to clarify about the exact nature of their evil plans, Manmohan Singh added that condoms have advantage of surprise and assured that he’ll continue to condemn them come what may.

Sonia Gandhi sent a stern warning to the missing CVMs saying once caught they will be injected with power to corrupt them absolutely.

As panic spread throughout the country and everyone got jittery anticipating the surprise condoms were contemplating, a few enthusiastic twitter addicts went ahead and predicted boomsday. Ms Arundhati Roy, a staunch supporter of Comrade Condoms issued a statement stating that she’s in touch with their secret spokesman who has revealed that they intend to make it large before the big bang.

Salman Khurshid, Minister of Unnecessary Affairs tried his best to pacify the nation by saying that “boomsday predictions are absolutely absurd”. The angst of these misguided zealots can be addressed by simply applying an ointment. He further added that his office has contacted M/S Vaseline to make them smooth and lubricated and if possible offer them six fruity flavours as a bonus.

The CAG conceded that "The wayward behaviour of CVMs may be attributed partially to the poor self-image and Mr Khurshid’s healing touch may just do the trick”.

Assaram Clears Juvenile Test with Flying Colours

 This post was published on The Unreal Times, dated September 4, 2013
Image Courtesy - Google

Since it’s mandatory in our country for all sexual offenders to be juveniles especially if they are expecting little or no punishment, Jodhpur Police issued a search warrant for Baby Assaram’s birth certificate. The controversial Baby has been in news lately for molesting a 16 year old girl. Assaram in true spirit of the guilty denied all charges. After all he’s been touching many lives and their wives inappropriately for decades and has received nothing but adulation, donations and unnecessary security cover from the government!

A staunch defender of bhaiyagiri and its effectiveness against rape, the self-styled godman tried to do his bit for women’s equality by sharing the blame equally with his teenaged victim. Incidentally Assaram has always had an interesting relationship with young boys and girls. He either gets them chopped into pieces or tries to rape them! He also specializes in grabbing land and women foolish enough to be his devotees.

In our country only a man with such impeccable credentials enjoys political patronage and his many offences are treated with selective deafness and blindness.

With so many feathers in his cap, it’s shocking that Assaram doesn’t look like a peacock! But what’s more shocking is his appearance that belies his descending age. The bushy greys framing his innocent face effectively camouflage his youthfulness. It is a terrible tragedy that despite using Saundarya nikhar and Kesh Poshak, bestselling herbal remedies by his own ashram, the Guru of all things nasty looks so old and wrinkled. He’s now contemplating switching over to Madhuri Dixit’s secret to youth – Olay Regenerist.

What to do, we are like that only!


We Indians are a free spirited lot and don’t believe in masking our true selves with needless niceties. We love to flaunt our bad manners like a newly acquired SUV that honks imperiously in midst of barely moving traffic, expecting the annoying twerps blocking the way to get crushed under its wheels or take wings and fly out of sight.

We are always in a hurry to get somewhere. That’s why we shove, jostle, stamp on unsuspecting feet to get ahead in the queue and almost push that gangly boy to the Metro tracks just to be the first one to get into the coach. The moment our plane touches down for landing, regardless of how many free pegs of whiskey we have downed, we spring into action and start taking down our hand bags from the overheard compartments, completely ignoring the airhostess’s plea to remain seated. And before the aircraft can come to a halt, we start running towards the exit as if we expect the cabin crew to set the plane on fire, if we don’t disembark on time.

Yet, we are never on time. Rather, we expect time and the punctual fool to wait for us while we saunter in two hours late without even a hint of remorse.

It’s because it’s never our fault.

So, if we turn up late without having the courtesy to inform, it’s because of the damn traffic jam. If we make a nasty dent on the car in the neigbouring parking slot at the mall, it’s because the idiot had parked it wrong. If we dump our garbage in our neighbour’s compound, it’s because it looked dirty anyway. If we merrily film a girl’s cleavage as she bends down to pick up her pen, it’s because we were trying to teach her a lesson for wearing a low-cut top. If she’s out of her house, on her own, she is meant to be groped and pinched. If she dares retaliate, she’s being an unreasonable bitch.

Inside her mind

This morning as I was moving up and down the slider in my Pilates class, I winced in pain. The image of my fingers getting horribly crushed in the machine had just flashed in my mind and I was trying to imagine life without fingers. I let out an involuntary shudder before lifting my toes to the ceiling like an inverted ballerina.

People give wings to their imagination, mine is in an out of control spacecraft.

There is no way I can pass a manhole, without picturing myself inside it. What if the lid is not strong enough and I fall in its abysmal depths never to come out again! Crying, shouting for help before collapsing in a cesspool of human refuse….Will anyone miss me? Will my husband marry again? What happens to Tee! How will she manage life without me? What if she’s actually happy that she’s finally managed to get rid of me? Was I not a good enough mother to her! Does anyone really love me! I stop only after I collide into a gentleman, profusely apologize and head home with a heavy heart.

I discovered my true worth after I fell inside a manhole.

When we were just married, I used to start crying every time he left town for an official tour. In fact, I cried for three days non-stop when he left for the first time to Houston for two months. The women reading this post will understand why! We excel at imagining the worst. If he’s not picking up the phone, he must have been kidnapped by the Al Qaeda! If he hasn’t called up ten minutes after landing, his aircraft must have skidded off the runway.

Women are born worriers. Not just content with worrying about our loved ones, we worry on behalf of our neighbours, their dog, the nation and the universe. We nurture our fears like little puppies, despite knowing that only 0.009% of them will come true. We just can’t help it! We pursue our fears with single minded passion and wallow in misery.

We are willing prisoners of our paranoia’s.

If she’s watching news clips of flood ravaged Uttarakhand, or the horror unleashed by a tornado or tsunami, chances are she’s imagining herself there, alone, injured looking for her missing family. She doesn’t stop there. She blinks back tears as she thinks of the countless lives lost, the misery of those who survived and how life will never be the same again for them.

The accursed generation

Seldom do you meet a man who's as humble and unassuming as Suresh Chandrasekaran, One of the best that blogosphere has to offer, his language is graceful, humour understated and he always has something substantive to say. There's no way you can skip through a C.Suresh post. Such is his grasp of the language and subject that he holds your attention till the last sentence. An IIM graduate, he gave up the lure of the corporate world, to pursue his heart's calling, a path very few will dare to tread. His many fans rightly believe that it was Life is LIke this that deserved to win Indian Blogger Award for the best blog in the humour category.

In this post, Suresh talks about his encounters with the exotic PC and prays for an escape button for a generation enslaved to this digital monster.

A-P-P-L-E --- Apple; B-O-Y --- Boy……

“Yes, Teacher”

There we were sitting deferentially at the feet – metaphorically or literally depending on your school – of the teacher, who was the repository of knowledge that you did not possess. Faintly at the back of your mind is a glimmer of hope that, someday, you would be the font of knowledge from whom those younger than you would drink even if you did not choose the teaching profession.

Now that you have been through the education mill with straight “A’s (All Right already! Mainly “C”s and a smattering of “B”s if you want to be THAT literal about it) and come into the ripeness of years, you will at last occupy the seat of wisdom – or so you think.

H-V --- Have; G-R-8 --- Great ……

Uhoh! Every generation up to now has reached a time when it teaches after having been taught. I belong to, probably, the only one that started off learning from the old and now has to be a student of the young. Great …umm.. I mean gr8. Sorry, Teacher!

I blame it all on that thing that we used to call the computer. I still cannot bring myself to call it with all those pet names that the young use for it – as though it were a friend, boon companion or alter ego. The scars of my early run-ins with that thing are still fresh in my mind.

I Have Some Good News

When Indiblogger, India's largest, most popular network of Indian blogs and bloggers announces its first ever Indian Blogging awards #IBA2013, you nominate your blog in haste and repent in leisure. One look at the sheer number of blogs competing for the top spots and the stalwarts in your category, you start preparing yourself for heartbreak. You look at the illustrious panel of jurors and mumble - No way will they even care to look at my blog! It makes it worse that so many of your friends and supporters have high hopes from you and you don't want to let them down.

So, you try to make yourself and others believe that everything is Maya and we are mere pawns in the chessboard of fate. You pray for amnesia for you and your friends so that they don't try to drown you with their waves of sympathy after the results are announced.

The D-Day is 15th August and you come to know that the awards will be announced at 6.PM IST. Even though it's past your bedtime in Australia, you wait with baited breath. You realize you're shaking. Then you see so many of your friends Rachna Parmar, Alka Gurha, Bhartiya Grihanee, Rekha Kakkar, Ranjana Shankar, Saru Singhal, Deepa Sunil, Vidya Sury walk away with top honours and you erupt with joy. Now you're tired and since you honestly don't expect to win, you try to get some sleep. But that little flame of hope refuses to die and flip open your iPad.

My Experiments With Mallu Porn

Google Images
Since Porn is what men watch and women frown at, I thought, what better way to rattle your senses than get a good, Indian girl to write about her encounters with the unmentioned kind. Well, Red Handed is no ordinary girl. She's sassy, witty and authors the incredibly funny blog by the same name. Her humour is the no-holds-barred kind and it's tough to keep a straight face while reading her posts.

In this post she talks about the much loved Mallu Porn....

In the words of the celebrated writer Ruskin Rushdie “Mallu Porn is like Fashion, a national self induced epidemic”. Recently an acclaimed Hollywood director M.Night Spielberg was caught watching Mallu porn in his iPad during the international premier of his ‘Love in the time of Size Zero’. TMZ tried to get his comments on the subject but could only reach one of his assistants who on the promise of anonymity told “Not everyone is into Jenna Jameson or Tory Black. Even in the west, men are craving for bootylicious sistas from the Deep South, but are instead rewarded with sticks with makeup on.”

Mallu porn is a rage you cannot escape. It is like the closet from Narnia that has to be entered into to understand a world that is on the other side. It is like Hitler’s moustache. You wouldn’t find it pleasing but you also wouldn’t want to tamper with it. It is a religion, a secret society, of which you unwittingly become a sworn member.

I had committed the cardinal sin of remaining untouched by ‘THE’ Mallu porn for what seemed to be my 23 years of existence. Blasphemy doesn’t give you a free pass just because you are a woman, especially if you happen to belong to the land that started it all. It’s like living in Paris and never visiting the Eiffel Tower. I just had to dip my toes in the vast pool that was Mallu porn to know whether it would give me shudders or warm yet sensational goose bumps that would revitalize my views on porn. Now don’t be shocked when you hear about a woman watching porn, for in the words of the famous Meryl Moanro “Women have as many prurient interests as men. We just keep those interests a secret.” It starts with a bite of the bug called curiosity and then turns into an educational tryst because unlike men, women don’t get high on porn but merely find it amusing. If you ask me, I would choose porn over televised sports any day!
Google Images

India sends Mahawati to Broker Peace Talks with Pakistan

This post was also published on The Unreal Times, dated 9th August

Tired of condemning, not tolerating and still trying to frame a fitting reply to dastardly attacks by Pakistan, India finally decided that it has to move beyond severing cricket ties, to teach Pakistan a lesson. No more Aman and Asha and trying to buy their neighbour’s affections with Sallu and SRK movies. It’s time we showed them who the Big Boss is! After 55 adjournments and 56 walkouts in the Parliament, it was decided that the only way to deal with the world’s favourite headache and enfant terrible, Pakistan, was sending over a strict Nanny.

So, the hunt began for a woman with a towering personality capable of turning decorated officers into her personal shoe-shine boys. With shoulders strong enough to bear the weight of Anaconda garlands. A heavy-weight personality who could make grown-up feel like errant kids with a mere lashing of her tongue!

And guess whose name our esteemed Parliamentarians came up with? Who else but Kumari Mahawati, Uttar Pradesh’s very own Statue of Liberty!

Forbes ex most powerful, India’s Prime Minister in waiting, she’s also the only woman to feature in Thumka Book of Records for the record number of memorials she has built to honour herself. Sister to all Dalits and blister to the Yadavs and their henchmen, Behenjee also happens to be the only human alive to wear garlands heavier than Bappi Lahiri’s gold chains.

Who better than UP’s ex CM, to give a fitting reply to Pakistan’s ex minster of external affairs, Hina Rabbani Khar! What’s a few Birkins compared to Mahawati’s mammoth collection of handbags!

May You Rest In Peace

Courtesy -

I am not afraid of dying. I mean what’s the big deal in dying? You are too dead to care if the Rupee will rise again, if you’ll fit into those jeans again, if Rahul Gandhi becomes our PM, why everyone is so concerned that you invest in a flat in Noida’s Sector 3456….

In fact, it’s your friends and family you leave behind, who have to deal with grief or relief depending on what a good/bad job you did of not annoying / annoying them.

Unfortunately for all of us, death is an inevitable that we cannot escape. The final must-do in our bucket list. Besides giving up on the tax refund you claimed in 2002.

For someone who loves writing and opining, words fail me when it comes to expressing my condolences. I guess it stems from the knowledge that whatever I say to express my regret and sympathy will sound hollow when compared with what s/he is going through. And the last thing a person in grief wants is sympathy.

Some of us are so tongue-tied that when a friend or acquaintance shares the news of demise of their beloved Dadajee on Facebook, we simply click the “like” button. I mean that’s what Facebook is, a communion of like-minded individuals who spend 80% of their online time complimenting each other, sharing motivational quotes and feeling relieved that there is a “like” icon when there is nothing to say.

Dadajee could have been 90, miserly, cranky and a chronic bed-wetter and you’re sure that his family and especially his wife cum tea maker cum cook cum temper absorber cum diaper changer of 70 years are secretly rejoicing. Why, you even saw them bursting crackers last Diwali!

The Happy Prince – A Desi Adaptation

A secret survey was conducted by Her Majesty’s Services, also known as the Caged Parrots Inc. (CBI), to find out how many subjects of her Kingdom wanted Clown Prince as their Clown King.

It had been over nine years since the day she handed over the reins of her kingdom to the gentle-as-a-lamb Silent one. While he kept busy with his 1300 speeches, her council of wise men turned the flying Maharaja into a sitting Pauper, improved the education system and industry to generate more unemployment, introduced legislation to make rotten foodgrain even more scarce, gave the economy a Greek makeover and bestowed upon countrymen the right to be silent. She had assigned the wisest one, Sir Foot-in-Mouth to groom the Prince to become the king of beehives and Boss of small things. He had been sent to the homes of the poorest of the poor, made to lick their runny daal clean, sleep on their charpais and swat the same mosquitoes. He was made to give fiery speeches and convince his ignorant subjects that he was the right one. He rode far and wide, to sing the greatness of his Mom’s reign. Such were his convincing powers that his subjects promptly elected other corrupt leaders to steal their own money.

What greater way to greatness than letting him fumble and bumble, make a royal fool of himself and be applauded for it! The council of wise men sang the Prince’s praise, danced around him and stuck out their tongues at the Silent one.

Heir He Is

I make my debut on The Unreal Times, to rejoice the birth of the Royal Baby. Reproducing the post here for your reading pleasure.

Hours after a terrified Salman Khan saw Taher Shah running towards him and hugged Shahrukh in panic, the Duchess of Cambridge went into the world’s most awaited labour, at St Mary’s hospital. Meanwhile, Britain saw its biggest Labour party right outside the hospital. It mostly comprised of eagerly waiting news anchors and cameramen who hadn’t shaved and bathed for days. It was reported that they raised quite a stink.

Blame the Royal Baby or rather his 0.0000000067% Indian genes. When the baby finally deigned to make an appearance, it was at Indian Standard Time, more popularly known as aap 5 minute ruko, main paanch din mein ayaa! But when the RB (Royal Baby) did arrive, it got more coverage than Uttarakhand floods, Arizona wildfires and the Egyptian revolution – aII put together. And why not! In a world plagued by constant strife and struggle, where hope is like a lone fallen branch in gushing waters, Royal Baby is our only hope for a brighter future. Even the hopeless Indian Rupee rose by 7 paise to celebrate the royal delivery!

When the exhausted but ecstatic Kate held up RB and murmured “your heir has arrived”, she did confuse the balding Prince William who briefly thought the wig he had ordered online from Tirupati has made an appearance.

Yes, Body Image Comes From Parents!

How does one introduce someone who's already so popular! I'll still give it a try for the sake of the selected few who have yet to read Rachna Says. If you like reading incisive commentary on social issues and are looking for parenting advice, I suggest you read Rachna Srivastava Parmar. A spirited woman with strong opinions and stronger principles, a young mother of two, she's also a professional content writer and a fantastic cook.  The last bit was specifically added to wrangle a dinner invite from her.

In this post, Rachna raises pertinent concerns about this generation's unhealthy obsession with physical beauty and letting it mess with their self-esteem.....

Little girls even before their teenage years are dieting these days. Ask any adolescent and chances are that she is unhappy with the way she looks. Food is a cuss word for her. It makes her fat! Fat is ugly; it is undesirable! She wants to look hot and hip just like those models that prance around on TV, adorn the cover of magazines, are arm candies of all the hot guys she loves and play out larger-than-life roles in her mind’s eyes. Young ladies are depressed, deflated fighting this battle to look a little more thin and a little more fair. The marketers whose sales are on the rise are laughing their way to banks. And no, they are not the only ones to blame. Yes, they promote an aspirational standard of beauty in society to peddle their wares – read beauty products, fairness creams, health foods etc. But, you my dear sweetie, yes YOU the parent are equally responsible. What you look at me incredulously? What did you do?

For starters, children derive their comfort, their self-esteem from their parents first and later from the society. And as a recently shared advertisement openly pointed out, children mirror their parents’ behavior as well as thinking and aspirations. In their formative years, you are the one they turn to when they are teased. You are the one they look to for affirmation for their own self-worth. And what do they get? Do they find a parent who actually teaches them to love their incredible bodies and self? Does the parent convey to them that they are accepted and loved just the way they are? Does the parent love her own self is a question worthy of asking?

Yes, we have moms who are obsessed with losing weight. They have deadlines --5 kgs. in one month for a wedding they have to attend. They are so unhappy that they are unable to appreciate the perfectly good looking bodies that they have. I have seen so many gorgeous women stressing out over that extra inch or couple of kilos that they still (imagine to) have extra. They don’t eat right, are obsessed with weight gain and get even more depressed when they don’t achieve their crazy targets. Binges and more guilt follows. All the while, your child is absorbing that only a particular size of body is good and desirable. That fat is bad, and thin is good – at any cost!

The Big Mystery Unveiled

It’s big, shapeless and ugly and is always hanging-out with her. Yet, she clings as if her life depends on it. You wonder, what she sees in that monster that refuses to leave her side. You’ve often noticed her hands caressing its soft folds. Oh, how much it disgusts you! You’ve often wondered what it holds in its dark cavernous folds. Admit it! You’ve been tempted to take a peek inside, when it’s alone, on its own. But you dare not! What if its mistress finds out and swings it like a mace and fells you flat like a dehydrated tree!

Crrunnnchhh. You can almost hear the sound of your bones cracking.

Looks can be deceptive. How can a big, wobbly, soft thing be capable of such menace? Blame the possessive mistress, who guards it “the handbag” like a lioness guards her cub.

The lady has a symbiotic relationship with her bag. Right since she was a little girl, who loved draping herself in her Mom’s dupatta, trying to balance herself on high heels, peering at her image in the mirror, her lips smeared with lipstick, adjusting her pretty little purse on her shoulder, trying to look all ladylike. From school socials, to her college days, to her first date, her first interview, through the ups and downs of her life – her shoulder bag was her constant companion.

Her handbag is her blanket of comfort that protects her from the unknown and the unseen. It’s dark, cavernous folds crammed with her most intimate possessions, stuff she might have to use if she…..

Just like my Mom

Courtesy -iStockphoto

When I was your age, phones were clunky, televisions bulky and computers hulky. Yet they occupied very little space in our heads. Our house was cluttered with knick-knacks and memories. Appliances were uncomplicated, so were our lives. Sleep was not a challenge but something we enjoyed. Happiness was free and did not come with “terms-and-conditions apply”.

News was in no hurry to break and would patiently wait until next morning. Tele soaps were meant to be watched by the entire family. When we talked, we looked into each other’s eyes rather than look up occasionally from our mobiles. Words had yet to shed their vowels and their warmth. Sentences were not hurried missives. We talked because we needed to and not because we wanted another toy.

Time was elastic not brittle. Despite entertainment that was clumsy and prehistoric, I-am-so-bored had yet to make an appearance in our lexicon. Relatives had yet to be anointed with the annoying tag, family weddings were not meant to be endured but enjoyed. Private space was not guarded like a bastion and certainly not shared with online strangers.

Gay meant happy. Hit and run was still a game we played and enjoyed. We imbued our idols with a halo and did not put them under a microscope to analyse and jeer at their flaws. Scepticism was a prerogative of the old and the wrinkled. Youth had ideals. Lampooning our leaders was the sole preserve of the likes of RK Laxman, rather than a national sport. We used to race against the wind not time. We felt free not constricted and were content with our routine-ridden existence.

We couldn’t wait to grow up and become our Mom and Dad. We were impatient to take charge of our lives.

We did. Or so we thought.

For Blogger or For Worse

She is BlogwatiG. When we met last year on Blogosphere, we had a Jab We Met moment and decided we have a sizzling chemistry. It's been over one and a half years and we haven't changed our minds or our husbands. A tigress who prowls the big bad jungles confidently and roars her disapproval every time she encounters injustice, she is never afraid to fight her own and her friends battles. A blogger of repute and founder of the immensely popular forum IndiBlogeshwaris, she is my Kohinoor.

Of course, she never tires of pulling my leg and does exactly that in this guest post......

“It’s been over a year. I think the time has come to take this relationship to the next level. You know you mean the world to me. And I would never do anything to hurt you. I’d rather hurt myself…….”

Her eyes, limpid pools gently strumming the ripples of love and admiration, bore testimony to what she’d just heard. Deep in her heart, she knew, this was meant to be. Her heart ached for she knew every word that was bespoken was true. This treasure was hers to keep.

“And hence, this is what I have for both of us. Good times or bad, this will sail us through”
Dear Lord, could this be what she thought it was? Nothing quite prepared her for what followed next. She opened the sealed envelope with trembling fingers.

“This is what I’d like to call B-NUP, a Blogger Nuptial.”
She was speechless.

“Well considering that you have been blogging for years before me, this seemed like a step in the right direction.”

She stared in disbelief at the contract that read thus.

To whomsoever it may concern. 

  1. It is agreed that the bloggers in question will visit each other’s blog and lavish praise even if they have been having a hard day. This particularly stands true when the maid has not come in to work, phir bhi Bajate raho! 
  2. It is agreed that no blogger will be allowed to be more famous than the other at any given juncture as it amounts to unpleasantness. In the event that one blogger has more fan following than the other, the lesser known blogger to be compensated with a share in the famous blogger’s social net-worth. We believe this would be Zindagi ke saath bhi, zindagi ke baad bhi.
  3. It is agreed that all comments will have to be followed with tiny hearts and 'awwwwws' to enforce the love and affection the bloggers feel (or not). PDA is encouraged and every ‘love you’ will be taken as the ultimate example of dedication, Kyunki yeh bujhaye sirf pyaas, baki sab bakwas.

Prince William Chhe

Juo ae Rajkumar William chhe!

It was when the Buckingham Palace-is-the-world’s-most-expensive-old-age-home joke was cracked for 568544th time that Prince William could no longer hold his post Chicken Tikka Masala bile-and-spit in the jewel encrusted spittoon (a once-upon-a-time gift from the Maharajah of Golconda). Trust one of the minions to confuse the king-in-waiting’s aikthoo as the family’s jewels and rush it to Sotheby’s for a grand auction. Since Sotheby’s, the most expensive kabaadi house in the world, refuses to take anything by face value, they sent it to the labs for testing.

When the lab reports arrived, Chief Curator Archibald Hairsome collapsed on the carpet and almost sent the million pound vase from Ming Dynasty crashing. Thankfully it landed on his head. He is now recuperating in the same hospital where the Royal Baby is expected to make an appearance.

Since the matter was of utmost secrecy, a messenger boy was sent through one of secret tunnels to convey the shocking discovery – The Duke of Cambridge, William and scoundrel Harry have Indian ancestry.

Britain’s second longest reigning monarch, world’s most cruel Mom, Ekta Kapoor’s inspiration, will be giving up her dear throne to a half-blood prince!!! Great Britain will finally have a monarch with ancestral links to a country they colonized and exploited for over 300 years.

An irony so ironical that you could wipe the rust off it…

When Soilitude was an Alien Concept

In India, solitude is an alien concept. A subcontinent bursting at its seams with over 1 billion lives, it is tough to escape the busy chattering, impatient honking, loud celebrations and fumes of sweaty bodies. Our cities are constantly expanding and mutating to accommodate the influx of eager souls with dreams to make it big. It’s common to see families huddled under flyovers, silently watching revelry of the young and the impetuous, drunk on life. Enterprise flourishes in all shapes and forms, in every nook and corner – from children peddling magazines to the memsahib in her chauffeured car, to the hawker stands that feed the hungry and the tired, to the glitzy shopping malls where the trendy head for a good time.

Even if you are living alone, with your family pining for you in a far off city, your newspaper-wala, milkman, home delivery guy, cleaning lady will make sure your bell is always ringing, their smiles, and inane talks filling the silence of your one bedroom apartment in a high rise.

In India, the concept of loving and caring is sharing your moments of sadness and elation with your hundred odd relatives and friends. A wedding ceremony is less about the couple about to begin a new life and more about guests who are out to have a good time. A battalion of Tais, Buas and chachera bhais, who appear in droves only during celebrations and mourning…

You can be lonely but never alone.