Monday, April 27, 2015

Of little people.

So it was true.
Every 99% accurate test in the world said it and to add to it, the doctor confirmed and smirked that most 99% accurate tests could be believed 99% of the times. Heh, dark humor, a voice in my head acknowledged it.
Preparations began almost immediately. Calling parental units, bookmarking, subscribing to newsletters, going overboard with the organic shiz(nah I didn't do that). This whole phase can get very confusing if you don't stay alert, by the way. Like people would ask you how far along you are in terms of months, your doctor in terms of weeks and trimesters(which have often come out as semesters from my mouth no kidding), so mentally you are like this is 17th week, a month has 4 weeks mostly, so 4 months over for sure and you get the drift. So at times you feel like KEEP CALM AND TRUST BABYCENTER. This whole pregnancy "wonderland" is a phase in itself. Everyone around is extremely considerate and concerned about you, which turns 360'degrees in exactly a year's time but let's take this one by one. This phase also gets very interesting in the sense that all science and sense known to mankind comes to a standstill, and people make extremely certain judgments about gender of baby based on your rotundity and complexion, and of course, THEIR experience. And there are the labor tales. Looking at you being pregnant suddenly reminds everyone of their delivery table and *that* narration comes out in the most gruesome and melodramatic way.
So anyway. Laddoo(and that's how we are going to address her on social media) was an easy baby, so I knew zilch about morning sickness, diabetes and everything else pregnant ladies complain of. Infact, I cooked meals for the two of us till the week before I delivered. Life looked good and I thought I could keep this baby inside forever if allowed.
And the whole thing got over just like that and out she came. It wasn't easy. And I wouldn't be exaggerating if I said it has been the most difficult thing I have had to do till now. And truth be told, no one said it would be easy, but you don't realize it till you see it yourself. I have not even a faint memory of how she looked seconds later, thanks to fatigue and being drugged. So all those mommy posts I had read saying it was the most beautiful moment and how they wept tears of joy at this miracle called birth - that TRP winning episode was not at all aired on my cable channel. I felt like an angry customer who wanted his money back.
All I wanted was sleep. And food. For God's sake YOU FED ME ICE CHIPS WHICH WERE QUITE DELICIOUS THANK YOU BUT I NOW WANT REAL FOOD. But they brought me a hungry baby instead. After every hour. And it looked somewhat like this -
[1am. Scene at hospital few hours after Laddoo is born.]
Nurse: Ooh the baby is crying. I think she needs you. She is hungry maybe?
Me: But I just fed her 15 minutes back. For 15 minutes. Which means I practically just put her back right now.
Nurse: Oh she must have pooped then. Yes, she has!
Me: But she drinks like 4 drops. Like DROPS.
1.45 am.
Nurse: Ooh the baby is crying. I think she needs you. She is hungry maybe?
Me: *looking at baby* Girl, we need to talk.
So the thing about Babycenter is that these guys send updates quite methodically every week saying this week your baby is the size of a grape, peapod, watermelon and all. But not one email about "what to expect immediately after delivery", "10 ways to make sure your husband suffers along with you", or "how to make your mom let you eat what you want to eat and not just garlic". DUDE BABYCENTER. WHEN WERE YOU PLANNING TO TELL ME. And so, for the next fortnight or so, I pretty much pulled all-nighters. And then got used to it.
Today, she is all of 15 months old and controls me like my parents couldn't have in all these years. When she sleeps, I feel like I don't know what to do with my time now. She amazes me with the way she thinks at this age despite the 3 decade gap between us. And she does make life worth every hour of labor that existed ever. For you, a thousand times over, S!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

81. The Dabbler

If you haven’t known enough Tam-Brahms or Bengalis in your life, then you ought to know that both cultures almost make it an unsaid mandate to give their children some form of classical vocational training – be it dance, music, painting – where the normal kids were getting to sleep an extra hour or play video games in their spare time, we TamBrahms were making sure our kids went to Paattu(Carnatic Music) class or Dance class. When I say Dance class, I am somehow, with no scope of a doubt, assuming that you, in full cognizance, understand the fact that I am referring to some form of classical dance, lest you are painting pictures of our kids going to Shiamak Dawar school in your head. 

As if what was in place was not enough, we TamBrahms created our own Mini-rat race.

The choice of vocation decided for the child largely depends on what is available in your zip code, proficiency of the teacher, and to a miniscule portion, the aptitude of the child. Some kids are found to have shown early signs of innate talent. I remember this 70-year old neighbor of mine proudly explaining why she decided to send her grand-daughter to Bharatanatyam classes. Turns out the little baby was moving her eyeballs left and right when she was 2 days old and still, very much in the hospital. Clearly much more talented than some of us who lay there mute in our cribs, staring at the wall? Alas, my parents were not blessed with such a gifted child, and had to decide themselves as to what I was to learn. The closest we got to Carnatic music in Delhi was that we found a Kannadiga flute teacher. It was settled, then and there, that I would learn flute.

Here’s the catch about being trained in these arts – you are expected to climb the ladder. What starts with singing in front of random ladies and performing in temples, paves way to a much more ambitious path of performing in concerts. Anyway, I was never the disciplined kid who would sit and meticulously practice flute for two hours daily. Whenever it is that I played, it was nice to see some appreciation come my way, but I would never sweat blood for it. I started training when I was 7 and trained for a period of about 8-9 years, never really realizing the importance of practice. The few times that I was asked to play in front of enthusiastic relatives and friends, I would strategize my way by maintaining a fairly better hold of certain Krithis than the others in my repertoire, using a Round Robin algorithm to select between the krithis. It was only after I moved to Chennai that the magnitude of what I had missed struck me – people my age (a lot of times, the ones even younger to me) were singing/playing so well – they were giving concerts, performing on the All India Radio, winning laurels – THIS was competition. SO knowledgeable. SO hardworking. And they had all started roughly about the time I did. There was one thing that clearly set us apart – Practice. What I had lost could not be won back, but I could look further ahead down the road and repair whatever I can. I could try finding a good teacher and resume practice. For starters, being married to an accomplished Carnatic violinist helps in ways more than one. :)

Here’s a recording of a recent performance of mine – A happier interpretation of Kaadhal Rojaave/Roja Jaaneman from the movie Roja (Would love to know what you think about it. Please leave your feedback in the comments section).

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

80. Sirf ek main. Aur sirf ek tu.

Some movies make your skin crawl. Some movies make you cry like no one was watching. Some movies put you to sleep faster than reading 'The Secret' would. Only some movies make you feel special. Very special.

From the makers of the saddest movies in Indian cinema comes another excruciatingly plebeian melodrama.

Ek Main aur Ekk Tu is one movie that made me feel special, simply owing to the fact that it gave me that one experience, the probability of occurrence of which, in the future, were as close to zero as that of Kim Jong II really dying.

It gave me an empty theater.

6.42 pm. The movie was to start at 6.45. By now, my hopes had metamorphosed into desperation. I was hopeful that some random drunk guy would think it better to collapse in the theater than pass out on the road ; some random old-age couple might have nothing better to do in life and might turn up ; and of course, my greatest bet - all desis who packed themselves like sardines to watch Ra.One, could clearly bring their posterior for this one. As it turns out, I was inhumanely let down by all these aforesaid people. At one point of time, I had my doubts if they would even screen the movie.

Ek Main.. and What Happened In Vegas have as much as the word Vegas in common. It would be illegal to even talk about the two in the same sentence. Faint memories of the movie still occupy some space inside my head, and in a feeble attempt at evacuation of the same, I write this review. There is no such thing as a new or fresh concept in the movie. Of course, the movie has an open ending, which has been spoken about at great lengths and has been pounded upon like an old rag on a washerman's stone(probably because we are trained to not expect such unusual things in KJo movies, which are a hiss and a byword in present times).

I haven't heard too many people referencing Taare Zameen Par for a mild similarity with this flick, but I was forced to compare given the high standards set by parents, so on and so forth. Kareena Kapoor refuses to come out of her 'Geet' character from Jab We Met. It's almost as if that's the only thing she has to write on her resume. "I was the happy-happy girl and I did it so well, and I am going to do it all over again. I will accept only those scripts where I am the happy-happy girl and I can do it so well, and I will do it all over again". My sympathies are with Imran Khan, who is as catatonic to acting as a Raj Koothrapalli to women, and makes Rahul Roy in Aashiqui look like the god of acting. Ram Kapoor adds nice rotundity, but that's that.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

79. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara


1. Every movie review on this blog carries a disclaimer.
2. Text ahead might contain spoilers, but hey, I am sure 3/4th of the world has already see the movie by now.
3. A movie seen late, gets a review, late.

As fate would have it, this is the second Hrithik Roshan movie this blog is reviewing. 

ZNMD is an interesting flick to watch(but just once!). Three friends get together on a supposed Bachelor Party, setting them on to experiment adventure sports they dread most, making them unveil their hidden fears. A comparison with Dil Chahta Hai inevitably crosses your mind looking at the tension and friction between Arjun and Imraan. Such a comparison does unimaginable damage to the movie, which Zoya Akhtar seems to have quickly grasped. 

  • Hrithik Roshan sports a Dhoom 2 look. Yes?
  • The chemistry between Arjun and Imraan is unmistakable and thoroughly enjoyable.  Abhay Deol plays Ms. Goody Two Shoes and is the glue between these two. 
  • I can't even get to writing it, but Nazeeruddin Shah and Deepti Naval are wasted :( For whatever it's worth, the two have enacted their parts beautifully, though I did want to put some life into Naval's character.
  • When all of the world is singing Senorita, I can't see why Roshan sings Senori"thaa". :D Abhay Deol's unrestrained singing and his clumsy dancing bring a whiff of fresh air to the song. *drool*
  • Katrina is aptly cast in the movie, movies-set-in-foreign-locations being her forte, thereby bringing out her talent to nonchalantly carry off her American Hindi.
  • Why in the name of God was "Saare jahan se acchha" played before they were about to skydive?
  • Farhan Akhtar is adorable. Kalki Koechlin has enacted her bit well, and adds that posh-ness to the setting.
  • The ending scene while the credits are rolling, is completely utopian in my view. The compulsive need to show that all was cool between Kabir(Abhay) and Natasha(Kalki) as the movie ends. Disappointing. Life doesn't work that way. 
  • iLOLed at Bagwati :D

The movie is certainly nothing out of the ordinary, but is definitely worth a watch. If nothing, you'll atleast feel the desperate need to skydive before you die :)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

77. Yet another love story

This post/story has been filched from @Gillette's blog. At the risk of sounding conservative and 15th century-ish, I will whole-heartedly agree with the father's views on this. 

Dad speaks, Simi listens and Life just goes on!

"Karthik, dinner's ready." My mom called out while I was listening to My Sacrifice by Creed on Radio City. She came near and in a low voice said, "I told your dad about it." I felt like a 10,000 volt stupor hit me! "What?" I was flabbergasted, "Ma, I wanted to tell him myself. I had it all planned out. You've just...god! You women kind can never keep secrets, can you? Ok, what did he say?" I asked anxiously. "He said nothing. Probably he wouldn't even talk to you about it until you start." I knew it was going to be a bad night. Heated arguments, sentimental issues, guilt pricking and unwanted tensions; we had had none of these in our house. But I saw it all coming down in one night.

At the dinner table
It took me sometime to come out of my bedroom, for the dinner table seemed like a battle ground to me! My hunger died with the very thought of talking to my dad. But I knew I couldn't escape it and I had to face this some day or the other. My dad sat next to me. I gulped the air that was stuck in my throat and with head bent down I had my eyes fixed on my plate. Even after five minutes, daddy spoke nothing! So I gathered up all my courage to break the ice, "Appa, I wanted to tell it myself. I was actually..." "What's her name?" he cut me without looking at my face. "Simi" I answered, "Simi Jacob Thomas." There was a smile on his face. "Bring her home tomorrow evening", he said. It made me smile too, for I felt glad to hear something like that while I expected a huge argument to spurt out. None of us spoke anything else that night. It turned out to be a total anti-climax of what I had imagined! I got back to my room after dinner, but couldn't sleep for most part of the night since I was dreaming with open eyes about the day that was to come the next morning!

The day did come
The day did come; probably one of the most important days of my life. I told Simi that my dad wanted to meet her and also that he wasn't fussed up or anything like that and instead smiled about it. Simi didn't know what to tell, she too was very happy I thought. A year and a half of our secret relationship, a secret known to the world but hidden to our parents, was about to pay off. So, on that day, we just didn't care about whether we had completed our work or not. We left office at 4.30 in the evening, just to make sure that we don't get stuck in that dreaded Hosur road traffic. Simi left her car parked in the office itself and we both went in my car. That wasn't the first time I had driven with Simi in my Honda City, but somehow, all along the way home, my dreaming about the car being decorated with flowers and a big "Just Married" sign on a heart shaped board, made that ride very special to me!

We reached home by quarter past five. Summer time; my dad was sitting on the swing in the lawn, reading a newspaper. He got up as he saw us coming. "Namaste Uncle", Simi said folding her hands. My dad smiled back. "Hello, nice to meet you", he greeted her, "come, let's go inside", he took us in. My mom was watching tv in the hall and as we entered she got up from the sofa and switched off the tv. "Get something", my dad said to my mom and within minutes a lot of things were ready on the tea table. "Please have it" my dad said and we both started munching. "Aunty, I really like this. Kaduburight? Karthik gives me every time you send it in his lunch box. In fact, I've eaten almost every dish that you cook. You really cook very nicely aunty." Simi said looking at my mom. My mom just smiled back as a thank you to Simi's compliments.

Setting the stage!
"Sorry child, I forgot your name." My dad said. Simi was busy eating, but she'd heard it. "Uh? Uncle? Simi. My name is Simi", she replied. "Aaah! Simi Jacob Thomas, right?" My dad asked. "Yes", Simi replied and looked at my face with her eyebrows slightly raised. I did nothing else but show my teeth. There was a wide smile on my dad's face too. "What?" I asked him. "Karthik Subramanya Shastry weds Simi Jacob Thomas, somehow sounds very funny to me", he said. The smile on my face slowly reduced in width and finally when I saw the expression on Simi's face change as she took a bite of the kadubu, my smile completely died out. My dad was quick to react. He looked at Simi and said, "Oh please don't feel offended. I don't mean to hurt you. But child, I'm going to ask you a few questions and also tell you some things over which you'll need to think calmly." Uh oh! Something's coming! I told myself. Simi seemed to have heard what I'd just said in silence. She kept the half bitten kadubu back on the plate.

The talk!
"Simi. Since how long do you know Karthik?" My dad started shooting.
"About a year and a half" Simi replied.
"Do you think that's enough to know him?"
"I guess so. Yes. That's quite enough." Simi nodded her head up and down.
"Hmm...Tell me one thing, do your parents know about this?"
"No uncle. I was about to tell them; after we took your permission."
"And how did you assume that I will say 'yes'?" My dad was still smiling. But the expression on our faces had taken a U-turn from extreme bliss to total awe by now! Although both of us knew that we would have to face our parents' opposition, the way my dad had reacted since the night before had sprung up some positive thoughts in both of us. So this was a bit of a shock indeed.
"Simi, Simi. My dear child. I know most of what I tell you will make you feel like not listening to me. I just want you both to have the best and I know very well that it will not be so if you happen to marry." Our faces now looked like the sad emoticon that we use in our Office Communicator. But my dad continued :-(

"Where do your parents stay?"
"Kozhikode, Kerala."
"What does your father do?"
"He retired as a Branch Manager in SBI last month. Now he serves as an evangelist at a church nearby".
"How many siblings do you have?"
"We are four. I have a brother and two sisters."
"You must be the youngest", my dad was bang on!
"Yes", Simi replied, a little surprised. I knew, like me, she too wanted to know how on earth he got that!
"I pity your poor dad. He seems to be a pious man. If I, being the father of the boy, feel so sad about this whole thing, I can imagine how much pain that man will go through." My dad let out a long sigh. Somehow the things he spoke started to get on my nerves and I thought I had to do some talking.
"What's wrong with this dad? I don't understand why you people should be worried. Simi and I like each other, we understand each other very well, we both have good jobs in hand, what else do we need?"
"I was waiting for you to open your mouth", my dad said in a sarcastic tone. "See. You are talking only about you both; that you like each other, that you have good jobs. Then, tell me honestly, when you have decided about everything, why do you need my permission, or even her parents' permission? You can as well marry and later just inform us, right? If you feel that you will anyways go ahead no matter what, then I see no point in discussing this anymore." My dad stood up.
"No uncle", Simi interrupted, "I want to listen to you." I looked at Simi with an evident frown on my face. "Please, let us talk about it. I too want to know what you feel about this." She requested my dad. But I wasn't keen on listening. I just sat with my face turned away, staring at the door.

My dad sat down. "Simi, marriage is not a child's play dear. At least in our society, it's not centered just around two people. If you had, for at least once, thought practically about your relationship, you wouldn't have carried it so far. You both are in love and that will make you think you can get along anything that comes your way. Child, married life in itself has thousand and one problems. You have to make sure that you don't invite more problems just by taking a hasty decision.

"The first thing is, I'm more than a hundred percent sure that your family will not whole heartedly accept my son as their son-in-law and after this marriage, believe me, your relationship with your parents and siblings will never be the same. Even if they come to accept it at a later point of time, they will just be pretending. Some relationships if broken, take a long time to patch up and if they had been very close, it takes a lifetime. Coming out of home and living a life of your own sounds very good like in movies and stories, but the truth is, you cannot stay away from your parents forever; at least not until they are alive."

Simi was listening without blinking her eyes. "After that, come your individual dogmas. You know, his mother celebrates at home, almost every festival that's listed on the almanac. She will feel uncomfortable to let you around and get you involved. Even if she and you get along after sometime, I will guarantee, it will be limited to our house alone. You will never be invited to any function that will happen in our relatives' homes. At first, you might feel ok about it. But when Karthik will feel the pinch in his heart to know the fact that his wife is not welcomed in his relatives' places and because of that he too cannot attend those so very fun filled family gatherings that he was always a part of, he too will start to repent.

"Then there are your food habits. You are a meat eater and my son is a pure vegetarian, well at least I think so. But I don't know if he has started that too."

Simi was already feeling guilty I guess. "No, he doesn't eat. But I have stopped", she said.

"See. You have lost a part of yourself. You know, for your love to carry on with the same fervor forever, you should accept the person you love as he or she is, without being directly or indirectly forced to change for the sake of love. In my opinion, that's true love and everything else is just a compromise. You have given up eating meat, good; but every time you come across that, you'll always be tempted. It's perfectly ok and it's because you have been brought up in such a culture where it is almost compulsory to eat meat, whereas my son has grown up amongst people who dislike even the sight and smell of it.

"And then, you both are connected by English, a language that's not the mother tongue of either of you. I am not telling it's a bad language, but you know, it is always the mother tongue that gives you the personal touch, the closer-to-heart feeling while you talk to your, be it husband or any other person. Don't tell me that love knows no language; it is all theory and is only good for the books. The day you see a couple in love talking in your language and having those sweet little verbal fights or name-calling, in words that you can best express only in a language that is closer to your heart, you will know what you are missing.

Simi was static. "Next thing is about your kids. My mother used to tell me a proverb in Kannada - Appa amma eradu daari aadare, makkaLu naaku daari anthe, meaning If the father and mother go in two directions, their children will go in four. I don't know if I've put it correctly in English but I hope you've understood it. Forget your kids, you yourself will not be able to tell them whether they have to go to the church or the temple, to be a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian, to speak Malayalam or Kannada and many such things. Finally they end up growing in a big confusion about their language, their God, their culture and everything about themselves. They might even someday curse you for landing them in such a situation. You might say that they will choose the best of both cultures. But that can happen only after they have matured enough to take decisions on their own. But again, I bet they will not be able to do that too since they wouldn't have gained a complete understanding of either of those.

"Deep down inside, you feel that you are doing something wrong and that's what has kept you from telling your parents or else you would have told it on day one that you like this guy and might as well marry him. But you feel your parents might be hurt if you do that because you know very well that they can never see him as the right guy for you and from my point of view too, he's not. Trust me, even your parents wouldn't deny if you can prove it to them that he is the right person, but in this case, you'll not be able to do that! I just guessed that you must be the youngest because if you had somebody younger to you, a sense of guilt which makes you feel that you might just be setting a bad example to the younger ones, would have stopped you from thinking about Karthik as your life partner. But again good and bad depends entirely on your perspective and for youngsters like you, it is mostly influenced by your friends outside rather than the people at home.

Looks like he's not gonna stop until she walks out, I thought, still looking away. I did not interrupt only because Simi had stopped me from it. You asked for it Simi. Now you have it. I wasn't anymore interested in disturbing her.

"I too feel that I've slipped somewhere. If only I had talked about all such things to my son a long time back, he would have been more careful in choosing his life partner. But I never realized that he had grown up so much and today I feel I'm paying for my mistake. You know, you should make your children do what you feel is right until they turn 16. Then on, till 30, you should just tell them what they should do and let them do what they feel is right and after 30 there's no use of telling too. So now, I'll only have to give my suggestion and heeding to it or discarding it, is left to you both.

"I know that a lot of people of your age fear arranged marriages these days and that fear is because you feel you don't know that person properly. But then, why do you think we have the concept of engagement. Get engaged before at least six months of marriage and you can get to know each other fairly during that period. If you don't think it will work out, you have lost nothing, right? Now if it doesn't work out once, it's never that you will not find someone better. You'll always do and sometimes you will realize it after you get married to someone who you then thought was the best! In case you love somebody with whom everybody around you and especially your parents will be comfortable with, engagement is just a formality.

"Anyways, I can already see from his face that he is not very happy to listen to me. So let's finish it off. But a sincere request from my side - before you listen to what your heart says, just give a chance to your brain to think about it." My dad finally finished his lecture!

Nobody spoke for a moment. Finally Simi broke her silence, "Uncle, now I realize why it is important to discuss with elders. No doubt, I had never thought about many things that you told now. Please give me some time. I will definitely think about it. Thank you very much for letting me know your point of view", she said and stood up. Oh Mistress of assertiveness skills, you forgot to paraphrase - I wanted to tell loudly but somehow controlled myself.

"Sure dear. I know it's not easy. Take your time. And thanks. I'm happy that at least you said you will think about it. God bless you", my dad blessed her as Simi touched his feet before leaving.

"Karthik", he looked at me and said, "go drop her till home and come back."
Sigh! Don't worry. I'll not run away with her.

And then, it was evident..
Simi did not speak to me for some days in the office. I had sort of understood what she wanted to convey. My dad had brainwashed her. If only I had never let her talk to my dad I thought. But Simi was anytime more mature than me. She had taken time not only to think about it but also to speak with her parents; and the story on the other side was no different. Luckily, I did not get an invitation from her father to talk to him! Finally Simi told me, what is usually told by girls, that we would be better off as friends rather than being a husband and wife. But it was really difficult for me to look at her as "just a friend". Fortunately I got an onsite assignment at that time which kept me away from her for almost 10 months. I somehow managed to get over the gloom during that period. It was only after that I realized my dad too was right in a way. True. At least sometimes in life, you got to listen to your elders.

Today, Simi and I are married; to different people of course, and the best part is that we both have found very good friends as our life partners. Instead of whining over what could not happen, we have just moved on with so many other beautiful things that actually happened and of course, we are more than satisfied with whatever we have in our lives. It's like they say, if it had been any better, it would be a sin ;-)

That's it!