Women are from the Kitchen, Men are from I-can’t

Also Published on Huffington Post India


I love watching cooking shows on TV. For every Nigella who clogs a thousand arteries as she adds a mammoth cube of butter to the bubbling sauce, there’s a Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, Vikas Khanna, Heston Blumenthal vying for our tastebud’s attention. In the world of star chefs with cult following, there are more men than women shining bright in the galaxy. Yet, in real life, men who cook (other than fixing Maggi) are as rare a sight as Modi in India. Imagine being invited over for dinner by your friends and you see the husband slogging away at the kitchen while the wife regales you with stories! In all probability your eyes will pop out in surprise, much like a champagne cork.

Of course there do exist men who love to cook for themselves and their family, but they are more an exception than the norm. I am lucky to be married to the exception. When I tell my friends he’s a fabulous cook and I get to have breakfast in bed on weekends, I get the ‘you must be kidding’ look from them. Interestingly, you’ll hardly hear any man say, he’s lucky to have a mom/sis/wife who cooks. It’s because cooking is still considered a woman’s job. In the age of equality where a woman is as busy as her partner, she may not have to see the inside of her kitchen too often thanks to her cook. But keeping the house clean and the family well-fed even if she’s fed up of it, is still her responsibility. Little wonder it’s the woman and not the man who gets into ‘deep depression’ if her hired helps ditches her for greener pastures.

Behind every successful woman is her hardworking bai.

Frankly I don’t blame men who can’t differentiate cumin powder from coriander and don’t know where the spoons are kept in the kitchen. I blame the women in their lives who insist on treating them like babies incapable of taking care of themselves. Why else would a wife who leaves for a month long vacation at her parents slog for weeks to cook and freeze meals for her dear husband? Why else would a man who’s on a work tour, buy new shirts instead of bothering to wash the used ones? Because all these years he’s gotten away with it!

Women have a perfectly logical excuse for this ineptness. His presence in the kitchen is more a headache than a help. If he cooks, he leaves the kitchen in a mess! A lot of women’s idea of bagging the ‘best wife of the millennium’ trophy is to make their husbands ‘the most inept man’ of the century. And they apply the same logic to their own kids as well. If I make my Twinkle cook a meal, I’ll become a terrible Mom. 

How to Martyr Yourself to Fashion

Pic courtesy - HindustanTimes.com

Once you start writing for pleasure, you get into the awful habit of observing people around you. You note down their peculiarities, eavesdrop into their conversations and get a glimpse of their exciting lives of truant maids and unfaithful husbands. An addictive pastime but sometimes you end up displeasing others with your not so flattering observations. It’s the same reason why some of us love reading advice columns (mostly concerning sex) in magazines and dailies where shy adults confide their love for masturbation using a banana skin. Or a gentleman complains about his wife who makes him wear lingerie and bangles and ties his hair into a pony, every time they make love. No, I absolutely did not make these up.

What I am going to write about has nothing to do with people’s bizarre sexual fetishes. It is about the Indian woman’s love for dressing not according to her shape, but just her state of mind. Go to any mall or multiplex and you’ll see a parade of jiggly bottoms and generous tyres spilling out of dresses two sizes too small. I’m always in a fix how to react. While a part of me says a silent yay for women who dress for themselves and not others, the other part of me wonders if they have a mirror at home.

I understand what a liberating feeling it is to slip into an apparel that makes you feel fashionable and sexy, the rest of the world be damned. But knowing what’s in fashion may not necessarily look good on you, is also a great liberator. Just like tights. Someone wise once said, drunks, children and tights never lie. In fact, they betray your secrets and indulgences in the most embarrassing manner. Just because Cheenu looked drop-dead gorgeous in that halter neck red bandage dress and got 450 likes on Facebook, doesn’t mean it will transform you into her glamorous avatar. What she didn’t tell you is, she only eats seeds and leaves and when she’s feeling adventurous, adds a pinch of sugar to her tea. And if your friends insist you look fabulous in that leopard print jumpsuit that makes you feel asthmatic, they are lying. While I understand girlfriends are meant to make you feel good about yourself and call you gorgeous even if you’re anything but that, an occasional dose of honesty is needed. It forces you to move your complacent ass out of your comfort zone.

Learning and Unlearning to be a Mom

Also published on Huffington Post India

It was just a few months back when I was tossing and turning, unable to sleep on my makeshift bed inside a darkened cabin, the sky an inky blue outside. I was feeling angry at myself. It had been two days since I had been crying non-stop. This wallowing-in-misery-woman was so unlike me. There’s no escaping misery. But it doesn’t take me too long to bounce back to my normal cheerful self – but not this time. 

For weeks I had been telling myself, I’ll be able to cope better this time. But as we got into our cab, ready to fly in a few hours to a country thousands of miles away from our daughter, my dam of resolve broke. The first time was when she had just started her 1st semester in one of the most difficult to get into colleges in Delhi. My husband and I flew off to Australia where he was to take over a new position in his company. Remember the baffling pain you felt as your pelvic bones contracted and expanded to expel your little bundle of flesh? As our plane took off, I felt the same pain but this time it was in my heart.

As a mother there are certain things you must learn. You have to let go of your child even if it breaks your heart. The sooner you do it, the better it is for her. Like the time she came back home crying, complaining about the bully in her school bus who’d trouble her needlessly. As much as you’d want to hunt that boy and beat him to pulp, you’d steel yourself before looking at her and saying – you have to learn to fight your own battles, my love! This is certainly not the last time when someone will try to make you feel weak, feel like shit, but despite the feeling of helplessness, you have to get up and fight.

When at times she’d feel wronged and blame others for her trouble, you had to be harsh and say maybe the problem lay with her and not with others. You cannot cluck protectively around her forever. There comes a time when you have to tell her, not everyone will love you and that’s perfectly okay! That it’s okay not to score top grades but not okay to not have tried your best. Every effort however herculean will not fetch results.

The first time she wanted to go for a late evening party with her friends, you had to put your fears aside and say yes and then overcome the urge to text her constantly to find out if she’s okay. I have kept awake all night, waiting for her to text and say, she’s reached her hostel safely. When I finally did call her, close to dawn, sick with worry, I didn’t know whether to feel angry or relieved when I found out she’d forgotten she was meant to text me! The awareness that she may not care as much as you care for her is heartbreaking. But you learn to live with it.


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