Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Married To?

For the one year and a couple of months I’ve been married, I’ve been getting all kinds of reactions to the fact that I have retained my maiden name. In some cases it’s become such a big deal - like my grandmom who thought I was doing something illegal by not changing my name. The same granny also thought to tell me of all the problems that can arise in a marriage by ‘small’ things like these (this she told me in hushed whispers and concerned tones). I tried explaining to her about how my identity is my own, and that getting married does not mean I change a name I’ve lived with and been associated with for 25 yrs of my life. I also had to tell her (hoping it would make her comfortable with the idea) that I had the Fellow’s support in this decision and that it wasn’t something he really bothered or even thought about.

But of course we had to think about it. In the organisation we are in, change is slow. Formality is abundant. And so if I’m married, I’m automatically Mrs. Last-name-of-the-chap-I’m-married-to. In the beginning, it irked me to no end, to be constantly referred to as Mrs. XYZ. Then I decided to not waste time getting annoyed since these people obviously hadn’t heard of retaining your own identity (and Women’s Lib, but that was asking for too much). But the more I saw around me, the more amazed I was. It was like the women didn’t want to think on their own really. They were mouthpieces for their husbands; their image depended on the rank their husband was at and his position in the larger hierarchical group. Everything they did was keeping their husbands future (and present) in mind, even if it meant not having a brain of their own (or using it). I don’t mean that anyone should go out of their way to prove a point, at the risk of someone’s career. But at least be sure of who you are, outside of your spouse.

Today I just got more proof of how the women around me have somehow lost themselves in their relationship, so much so that who they were or can be is pretty much forgotten - I was sitting in a school Principal’s office, and she was going through files full of CV’s of women applying for a teaching post. However, apart from the sheer number of applicants, the one thing that struck me was that along with their name, each and every one of these women had added “Wife of So and So”.

And I was left wondering - when applying for a job, unless you’re Rabri Devi, how does it matter whom you’re married to?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Silver Lining

So the Fellow is really busy with some huge show his organisation is putting up. I mean, apart from 12-14 hour work days (which begin at 6.30 in the morning), he’s also been working weekends (which does mean no parties, so yay for that at least).

But even with the thankless hours the Fellow had to work, and having to float around the house alone most of the day, it was all ok. Why? Well, at least the Fellow would come back home to me every evening and I could talk his ears off while he tried to finish his game on the PSP (all the time hmm-ing away, pretending to be listening to me).

And now it’s gotten all warped. 3 days back he left for a couple of hours’ work, and ended up staying away for 2 days. Today he returned (mainly to refresh his overnight case) for about 45 mins, and then went off again. I’m not sure whether he’ll return tonight. Or tomorrow night. Which is very uncool.

However, since I’m the optimistic kind (ok. So I also twist the truth at times), I decided it wasn’t all bad. I mean, when the Fellow called and texted in the middle of the day just to say hello, I couldn’t stop grinning (then he said he wasn’t coming home, so I sulked. But that’s not what I’m talking about here). It reminded me of the days when we were dating and were living in different cities. I didn’t realise how much I missed those long lo-ong phone calls and those constant texts to and fro, talking, arguing, dreaming. And I know I missed the anticipation and the waiting for him to call – the skipping a heartbeat when I saw his name flashing on my phone when least expected (or when expected), is a feeling that nothing can match.

And so, even though I really miss the Fellow, and am annoyed he isn’t here to hold hands with (it’s cold. And my hands are freezing.), I’m seeing the silver lining on the cloud. And I’m waiting for his next call.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Of Khan

My Name is Khan proved to be an interesting watch. I say interesting, because the movie was not something I expected. And then it was.

To begin with, Asperger’s Syndrome seems to have been researched with some degree of competence. This itself was a huge relief, since Bollywood isn’t exactly known for its accuracy, especially as far as psychological disorders go. Then there was a view of America beyond New York and Las Vegas. I personally loved the move from shiny buildings, well manicured lawns and big cars to rugged mountains stark deserts, buses and pick-ups. It was also a delight to watch American cast members doing more than just providing a backdrop for the ‘main cast’ and definitely refreshing not to hear them converse in Hindi (or sing the National Anthem like KJo got them to do in an earlier movie).

And then, there was Shahrukh Khan. I wouldn’t be exaggerating when I say that the movie is all him. From his even-toned and stilted narration to his jerky walk and unfocused gaze, SRK has outdone himself with this movie. I mean, we’ve all seen him play lover-boy, a role he can do in his sleep in movie after movie. In fact, after a while he stopped being a character and just remained the superstar. Not this time. Even though you keep expecting SRK the star to make an appearance, it doesn’t happen. No cocky grin, no swaggering towards the camera and no sappy dialogues. Instead, you are charmed with an innocence that makes you smile in a nice way. The character has been defined well and SRK lends his own belief and faith to it.

I would like to talk about Kajol too, but I’m more of an SRK fan. Also Kajol wasn’t mind-blowing or spectacularly different. She had her usual fare of tears, laughter, hair-flips and shrieking. Probably the one thing different in this movie was her lack of makeup in more than once scene (and then you can see some really huge pores I tell you!).

This was the unexpected (no, not Kajol’s pores).

So what were the clich├ęd bits? Well, most of the second half for a start. I mean, it wouldn’t be a Hindi film if the hero (no matter what his condition has been described as) doesn’t give a speech about good versus evil, save people’s lives, work wonders under the most difficult of situations, become an international hero and a source of inspiration and change the thinking of at least half a million people (give or take a few). Oh and also manage to get injured and have a tearful reunion with his wife as he lies in a hospital bed. Add to that a happy ending (no, the reunion wasn’t it) and you know Karan Johar couldn’t help himself. I mean, he did stay away from chiffon sarees and Punjabi aunties this time round. I guess, his love for drama could be excused this once.

Overall, go see the movie. Just for Khan. From the epiglottis. Khhh-an. Watch the movie. You’ll understand.

300

This is my 300th post. Woohoo! Usual gyan giving continues from the next post, once my semi-euphoric state subsides and I get my ice-cream (and I convince the Fellow that I truly want to go on a weight loss program).

ODing

I’m going to see My Name is Khan in a couple of hours. But before I watch the movie (and then give opinionated gyan about it here) I wanted to get one thing clear – no matter how good, bad or simply annoying, the film turns out to be, I’m a tad bit fed up of the movie already. I mean, it’s everywhere you turn.

So there are the usual PR tricks and gimmicks and promotional tours happening on all forms of mass media. But then a political party had to throw themselves into the circus and everyone went into verbal diarrhoea mode. Especially SRK, who decided to do it on Twitter, and honestly, ended up sounding like he was stoned and depressed. That, or someone had stolen his identity. And then, all Bollywood personnel on Twitter were going gaga over the movie and its makers and joined the bandwagon. Oh, and not to be left behind (I mean it is a journey after all right?) everyone from travel agents to suitcase companies and shoe makers is latching on, making the whole thing beyond anything.

And so, even though I love technology and all the joy that it brings with it, I’ve been really wishing I lived in the age before television, radio and twitter. At least that way I wouldn’t have to OD on MNIK (and Rahul Dulhaniya Le Jayega. But that’s a whole new post).

Saturday, February 13, 2010

If You Want Something Bad Enough…

…chances are you’ll get it.

If any of you reading this, also read this post you’d know exactly how much I was looking forward to (and felt about) a certain party tonight. Let’s just say, I was less than thrilled about ruining my Saturday evening at a party which was doomed to be a failure from the very beginning.

But somewhere between then and last night, the universe decided to intervene. Don’t know what it was – maybe we’re just nice people who don’t deserve torture of this kind, or maybe the combined weight of several people sulking and whining and cursing seemed to take effect. Whatever it was, the very people, who were all jumpy about having a red hearts and candles kind of party tonight, decided, yesterday, not to.

Now, as much as I’d like to ascribe it to divine intervention and last minute common sense (ya right), I’d be lying. In truth, the big boss’ mother is on her death bed and yesterday it struck the women behind the party plan that it was rude to party in such a scenario. Duh!

Whatever it was (and I’m truly sorry for the boss’ family), there is no party tonight. Yay! The weekend is turning out to be a good one finally and I’m in the mood to spread the cheer. Have a good weekend people.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Bombay and Birthdays

I don’t really need a reason to miss Bombay (as will be apparent to anyone who reads this space and/or hears me talk for extended periods of time) But sometimes I just happen to find myself in a situation, that absolutely makes me wish I could dissaparate (Harry Potter style), to the traffic jammed roads, super-crowded local trains, neighbourhood bhel and sandwich chappie and of course the shiny shopping malls.

I didn’t realise how much I relied on those gross symbols of consumerism and brand names till I didn’t have access to them anymore. Seriously. All I wanted to buy yesterday was a nice birthday gift for a friend’s one year old daughter. And did I find anything? No. Ok, so maybe I am a little neurotic when it comes to giving birthday gifts – it has to be perfect and special in at least one small way for the person. I can spend hours deciding what to buy, even though I hate shopping as a rule. So imagine my frustration, when I couldn’t find one remotely decent gift for a baby in this whole town (and just when I had started appreciating it a little).

And then I missed Bombay like crazy. I mean, if I was there, I would have had a tough time deciding what to give the baby from a wide range of ‘oh this is so cute’ stuff. And here, I had the option of ugly tee shirt vs ugly dress vs ugly toy. Shudder.

So finally I had to resort to the artsy-craftsy soul in me and make something at home – a challenge by itself given the limited resources available (this makes me miss Hobby Ideas and my favourite stationery shops in Bombay. Sniff).

Anyhoo, cutting a long story short, I gave the kiddo (well, actually her parents) a gorgeous photo album made of hand made paper (which I had picked up on a whim some months back somewhere) and painted a birthday greeting inside. Maybe someday, when the little one is older, and appreciates memories and birthdays more than she does today, she’ll want to sit with this album and go through the pictures of her first birthday. I know I would.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Valenteen's Eve Party

No, it’s not a typo. Valenteen is what I typed.

But let me start whining right from the beginning – when I got that dreaded phone call, asking all the ladies (of the squadron) to assemble in the evening at X place. This meant only one thing – the women were going to plan something and/or spend at least one hour discussing random nonsense. And right I was. It was all nonsense.

Apparently, this over-enthusiastic-not-happy-with-two-parties-a-week group of women decided to have a Valentine’s day eve party. Now, the very idea is revolting at several different levels, beginning with how, one of the ladies kept calling it Valenteen’s day – something that made me want to giggle out loud (and I never giggle out loud) and then tell her she was getting it wrong so she would stop making a fool of herself (in a horribly self-satisfied sort of manner too). But I like to stay away from politics and the evilness some women thrive in, and so continued sitting quietly in my corner coming up with this blog post

Now this party, it was decided, would be a pot luck party. As far as I understand, it’s called pot luck because everyone brings a pot of something and you hope to get lucky and get some good food. But that’s not how we do it here. Luck is an alien concept. And so a detailed menu was planned (mainly involving super-boring food that you see at every party here) and before they (the annoying aunties of the group) could hand me a task way beyond my skill and/or motivation levels, I volunteered to do the salad. For a moment they were confused. Then I threw in words like macaroni and mayo and all was good. After all this meant I was making ‘English food’. Yes. I know. When I heard the phrase for the first time, I had the same reaction and confused look on my face. But I’ve come to terms with it. You will too.

The rest of the meeting post my salad moment is pretty much a haze. I remember tea being served with something hot and spicy to eat (who forgets food huh?). I also remember someone mentioning games and paper dance in the same sentence. There was also something about singing romantic songs at the party, at which time I barfed in my head and imagined the Fellow’s face when I told him about it. Oh, and red balloons – the heart shaped ones, candles and roses were definitely talked about. I know this, because the laughter inside my head got so loud it broke through the haze of disinterest and boredom.

So now, I have to attend a Valenteen’s day eve party on Saturday, have to wear red and black (yes that was discussed too), hide the rose I’m supposed to give the Fellow, forget about a gift I’m also supposed to get for him, may/may not have to play some ridiculous couple-y games (depending on how good I am at timing my bathroom break), eat terribly boring, run of the mill food (except for my English food of course) and then come back and write a long blog post about it!

Damn commercialisation of love and stupid over-excited women.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Cooking up Memories

I’m a true blue Bombayite. Street food runs through my veins. I’ve grown up on the golas at Juhu beach and the cornerwala sandwich bhaiyya’s veg sandwiches (with a slice of buttered bread and chaat masala with boiled potato on the side). And if there is one thing I miss about the city where I’ve grown up, it’s the food. In the one year that I’ve been away from Bombay, most of my home-sick moments have revolved around acute cravings for some or the other kind of food (mainly street food, with the random Mainland China and Basillico thrown in).

And today I finally did something I’d thought I’d never do. I decided to give into my food craving. How? By making the food myself. Yes. I know. Sounds undoable right? But I didn’t even think of attempting to match Bombay street food standards. All I wanted to do was calm down the craving monster in me, so that I didn’t spend the next 3 days whining and complaining (about this at least).

So I made Pav Bhaaji.

And while I made it, I thought of the super-heavy super-hot tava on which the street style bhaaji is and how it was impossible to stand too close to it. As I put in the pav bhaaji masala and the correct smells wafted up to me (yay), I was reminded of the sounds and smells from Khau galli, as we went to Fashion Street from college - the sizzle and splash of water on a hot tava, the rise of steam covering everything, and the smell of butter melting mingled with that particular aroma that only Bombay street-side bhaaji has. Then there was the pav. The butter soaked, hot, melts-in-your-mouth bread, which was a treat just by itself, making you want to overeat to the point of explosion. Sigh.

Somehow, even with all the flashbacks to a happier time, when I sat with friends by the side of the road licking pav bhaaji off our fingers, I managed to finish cooking. And surprisingly, I managed a decent enough job. Of course, the bhaaji could have used some of the red food colouring used in Bombay and the pav some more (lots more) butter. But it worked. My craving was appeased and I had the pleasure of licking some bhaaji off my fingers today.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Baking It

Ever since i saw the movie Julie/Julia, i've had this super-strong urge to cook. At first i waited to see if it would die a natural death (in a couple of hours after watching the movie). But it didnt. It just got stronger. And so i decided to give in and stocked up ingredients (mainly chocolate and cocoa) and tools (measuring cups, pans etc).
Then i went in search of recipes. And did i find them! I had to finally come up with an exclusion criteria to make life simpler for me. So i simply excluded all those recipes which had more than 7 steps and which listed even one exotic ingredient (due to problems of unavailability mainly). Once i had a couple of recipes which i thought looked doable, even for a baking novice like me, i took a minute to pray to the oven and cake mix gods and did my thing.
Suffice to say, my first cake was a success (owing to the fact that the Fellow loved it...and not because he loves me. His love for chocolate cake is much stronger and very finicky). I was totally thrilled. And it gave me the confidence to try more stuff out.
So in the last couple of weeks i've made chocolate chip and walnut brownies (twice), chocolate chip, walnut and oatmeal cookies and chocolate pudding. I'm now developing the urge to make some caramel custard. And it's not all about desert. I have at least half a dozen recipes for bread, including French bread, Whole wheat bread and bagels. But i'm still trying to build up the courage to make something as simple yet difficult as bread. And once i start, i know i'm not going to stop. So i need to be careful.
Anyhoo. What i really wanted to say was that i'm thinking of starting a food blog. You know, just to share what i make and tell the drama that ensues behind scenes (including burnt cookies and stakeouts in the kitchen).
But then, i also thought of starting a photo blog. Hmmm i think my new hobby shall be starting up new blogs, and then getting newer hobbies to keep the blogs running.