humor

The Young And The Restless

boy-1841029_1280.jpg

 There are days when I look at my soon-to-be five-year-old and be awed about ‘how mature he is and how logical his thought process is.'

 

And as I sit there and virtually pat myself on the back for having managed to do a reasonable job with him so far, the mood suddenly changes. From someone who perfectly understands what you’re trying to tell him, to someone who pretends to be dumb - the swings in mood are both amusing and scary.

 

Amusing, if you’re an on-looker.  Scary, if you’re the parent.
You’ve probably heard that phrase -  The Terrible Twos. Well, I did too. And then I experienced it and found out the reason why they call it that. Of course, what I didn’t realise was that it would then turn into the ‘Terrorist Threes, where a lot of things (including the lovely glass Bric-à-brac in my showcase ) would develop a tendency to blow up without any warning.   But then again, a lot of people continued to tell me that things would only get better. Someone, even told me that the worst was over. And I believed it. Until he turned four.   Year Four too has been one of many discoveries and learnings, much like the ones before. And just like that, I’ve also discovered that my son has graduated from the illustrious League of Ordinary Toddlers to a gang of the Young and the Restless. If you too have kids in this age range, you’ll probably be able to relate to some of these. For the rest, enjoy the laugh. After all, one person’s **** is another’s entertainment ?
 
You will be subjected to almost-FBI type enquiries, at any point in time. Where did you go? What did you do? Who did you meet? What did you eat? Why didn’t you take me? What did you bring for me? I don’t think even my wife and I have asked each other so many questions about our daily activities, despite having known each other for so many years.
  https://twitter.com/iwrotethose/status/829684157336793089  
You’ll find yourself constantly pitted against your partner, despite your numerous conscious efforts and decisions to not say yes when the other one says no. Somehow, they always manage to find the weak link with the precision of a CIA Interrogator. In our home, I am always the weakest link.
 
Your phone calls will be constantly monitored and interrupted by a tiny dictator who orders you around. You will also discover that most of your phone conversations will frequently end with ‘I’ll call you back later, okay?'
 
Remember the time I told you about my adorable little munchkin using the wall as his canvas? Well, the little Picasso has moved on from there. Now, he’s into free art - where anything from the television screen to your white shirt is a possible canvas to express his artistic capabilities. Might be a great time to invest in a painting company.
 
 The moment you walk in through the door carrying a bag - any kind, really; from luggage to just grocery shopping - it will be scrutinised in great detail, and even more thoroughly than the security officer at the airport.
 
 You will also soon discover that they love reading. Yes, they used to earlier too, but most of the times they would just turn the pages of the book and just admire it. Now, they love it when you read to them. The same thing. Over. And over. And over, until you’ll be muttering the lines in your sleep. [Also valid for movies  - *sings the Minion theme song*]
 
At some point, you may also find yourself having to explain to neighbours about how the screaming in the bathroom is merely the result of failed attempts at getting your kid to brush their teeth.
 
Your cardio workout involves running after a tiny human being, trying to keep up with them. And sometimes, you will be holding the pants that they were supposed to be wearing.
 
You constantly find yourself negotiating - from food to sleep. It’s like living with a 3-foot tall salesman, who is damn good at their job and isn’t afraid to twist your arms to get what he/she wants.   Time and again, you’ll find yourself sitting outside the loo singing loudly so ‘someone’ can poop; that is when you’re not answering questions about what you are doing inside the toilet and if they can accompany you.   You will be always prepared for a tantrum at the most public location that you can imagine - from malls to train stations.  
You’ll wonder why they have to wait until the absolute last fricking minute to tell us they need to go to the bathroom. It’s always like an episode of ‘Nina Needs to go’  
The likelihood of them repeating something you said is directly proportional to the kind of the crowd you’re with. The more 'politically incorrect' the phrase, the higher the probability.  
Your idea of a holiday is now having a lie-in and breakfast in bed, without having to worry about anything else.  
You're constantly being threatened to be poked in the eye by an object they want you to 'see'

 

The probability of you wanting a hug from them is inversely proportional to them wanting to give it to you. Prepares you for rejection.
 
And of course, if you do happen to catch them on a good day, put on your most charming smile and ask them why they behave the way they do, you’ll probably get an answer like this:
‘Because I can!’
Suddenly, everything makes perfect sense. Your 'Because I said so!' now has a valid counter argument.

 

[tweetbox design="box04" float="none"]Someone smart said: Parenting guides should end with recipes for strong cocktails.You will need it.[/tweet_box]

Laundry, anyone?

cute-funny-laundry-words-Favim.com-144369-copy.jpg

Let me start this post by saying, I’m sure that my laundry breeds while I sleep. There is no other reason I can think of as to why the laundry basket refills at the rate it does. If my bank balance refilled as quickly, I'd be one happy camper. Of course, marriage made things a lot better - for the laundry, that is. Now, I’m forced coaxed to do it. Which brings me back to the days of yore - or bachelorhood, as I like to call it. Back then, the only time I actually did the laundry was when the following predicament presented itself to me - "Laundry today, or naked tomorrow"   

However, as I said, now things are different. So previously while I had enough time to go through a book while waiting for the laundry to be done, these days, I just put the laundry in the machine and then hobble around the house picking toys or getting other chores done. I'm sure that the reader at the back of the class (yes, you!) might be wondering why I’ve decided to bore you with instances of how my laundry habit has evolved over the years. Fear not ! I do not intend to.

 

The only reason that I’m talking about laundry today, is because it was as I was separating clothes - coloured from non-coloured, intimates from well…non-intimates - when a thought struck me. You see, along with the laundry bit, I also have trouble folding clothes. And as I was chatting up “Google-Devi” trying to convince her to accompany me in my online quest to find that magic folding board that Sheldon Cooper uses to fold his clothes, the lovely Sumeetha pinged me to ask for my "lessons learned" post. Something that I’d promised and (conveniently) forgotten because as it goes, life happens. But I digress.  Anyway, as I was separating the laundry today, I realised that it is quite possible that there is more to laundry than dirty baniyans and shorts.

Click here to read the rest

(Please leave your comments either here or on the lessons learned website)

[This post is written for the Project 365 program at We Post Daily aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. Today's prompt was: What was the last thing you searched for online? Why were you looking for it?]
 Image courtesy : Favin.com

Holy Matrimony!

Holy Matrimony!
Dressed in an elegant peacock-blue salwar suit, the girl stood with her palms folded, her head bowed in reverence to her favourite deity. As she gently said the prayer that she knew so well, her kohl lined eyelashes fluttered rhythmically with each murmur. She was in her mid twenties and had recently secured her dream job. Life was good and she lived in the hope that it could only get better.

A guide to wacky baby gear

A guide to wacky baby gear
The world of baby products is truly magical. You have all kinds there - weird, wonderful, innovative and often just plain bizarre. It is a world, where marketing is king and one where new parents can usually drown in. But as with everything, there is always a line. A line, that if crossed, can lead to some wacky and strange products, like these.

The Diners

telecommunications-restaurant-food-annoyance-technology-mobile_phone-aban828l.png

Let’s start with a bit of a Q&A session, shall we? Who doesn’t like eating out? You there…in the blue shirt? No? You…in that peach salwar? You neither? Well, looks like we all love eating out. And why wouldn’t we? Apart from the fact that we get to eat mouth-watering yummy food, it’s also an experience. The ambience of the restaurant, the cost factor, how the staff behave and plenty of other factors affect this adventure. But there's one primary point which can almost singlehandedly decided if your “restaurant experience” is going to be an enjoyable, stressful or amusing affair. And that is where you’re going to be seated.

I speak from experience. For once upon a time, I did man the tills for a very popular Brighton restaurant. Part-time of course. This goes back to the days when I was trying to juggle my Masters degree and two other part-time jobs (which was illegal by the way). Now, as you may have figured out already, I'm rather observant (Some people call me nosey. I prefer the word observant or information gatherer).  So from my high seat behind the till, I’ve observed various kinds of restaurant patrons go about exhibiting their unique mannerisms. Some were pretty. Some were pretty appalling. Some others were pretty disgusting.

Here are a few that I've encountered over the course of my "restaurant visits":

 

The “Sound Machine”

SodaheadBelches, slurps, chomps, smacks, scrunches - all in complete Dolby Digital surround sound is what you’re likely to be treated to if you are (un)fortunate enough to be  seated next to this patron. Add to this mix the patron who decides that it’s perfectly acceptable to snort and blow-their-nose loudly, and you are going to be treated to a cacophony of food-y sounds.  Make sure you carry those ear plugs. Or at least pieces of cotton the next time you eat out. Oh, and did I mention the covert fart-er. Just keep an eye out for that incessant shifting in the seat, which is a sure sign give-away.

The Uncivil Barbarian

bostonglobeI bet most of us have seen this type of patron. They are obnoxious, rude, boorish, loud, impatient and for the lack of another word, fairly uncouth. And of course they’ve made a lot of us cringe when they sometimes address the waiters with clap of the hand, snap of the fingers or occasionally even the dreaded whistle. Words such as “Excuse Me” and “Please” are considered a taboo and they’d rather be caught with their pants down before they even consider basic courtesy. Undoubtedly when you add a drink or two to the mix, they are some of the most unpleasant people to both deal with and be seated next to.

The Replacer

Ah, the humble replacer - where do I start?. They are polite and often very soft-spoken. But they take the “customer is always right” adage a bit too far. The Replacers believe that it’s their right to request the waiter to ask the chef to substitute enough ingredients till the dish no longer resembles the original. Slight changes are always acceptable to most restaurants, but the replacer (also sometimes known as the substituter) believes in getting their dish custom-made. It’s like how Harry tells Sally, in the famous romantic movie “When Harry Met Sally”:

Harry (imitating Sally): "Waiter, I'll begin with a house salad, but I don't want the regular dressing. I'll have the balsamic vinegar and oil, but on the side. And then the salmon with the mustard sauce, but I want the mustard sauce on the side. On the side" is a very big thing for you.”

IMG_3653-e1383859236113Of course, I agree that sometimes substitutions are required for dietary, religious or allergic reasons. But the replacer takes it a number of steps too far.

The Freeloader

theberyHave you ever been to a restaurant with someone who says “Oh! I’m not hungry. I’ll just order a salad or a glass of water”? I bet you have. Of course you being the genuinely nice person that you are offer them a taste of what you’re having. But the moment you look away or pop to the washroom, some of your potato wedges go magically missing. Or that lovely, succulent, spicy chicken wing that you’d saved for later seems to have a few unexplained battle scars. Of course when it’s time to pay, they just flash you the nicest smile and offer to share. But to be honest, most of us rarely ask them to pay an equal share. After all, officially they’ve only had a salad.

 

The Anti-Sharer

mouthopenstoryOn the other end of the spectrum, far far away from the Freeloader is the Anti-Sharer. They know exactly what they want and expect you to as well. And yes, they do not share food. Obviously family-style dining is not really their cup of tea. They are overly protective of their food and will watch like a hawk to ensure that nothing goes missing from their plate. Here’s a piece of advice if you ever encounter The Anti-Sharer. Do Not, I repeat, Do not ever ask them for a taste of their food. Your friendship (or date) could end right there.

The Over-Indulger

food-drink-pizza-food-pizzeria-italian_foods-italian_restaurant-cwln205lPersonally, I also refer to them as “the Take-away-er”. They always order a lot more food that they can consume and pay no heed to the waiter’s helpful comment of “The portions are quite large”. Unsurprisingly there’s always copious amounts of food left over after the meal, and you can be assured that they ask for a doggy-bag to take home that half eaten piece of steak or the quarter bowl of curry. Of course the dog never sees any part of this doggy bag.  Well, at least they don't waste the food. So can't really complain.

The VIP

business-commerce-customer_service-vip_treatment-bulls-conflict_resolution-buying-aton69lYou can identify the VIP the moment he or she walks in through the front door. They have an aura of arrogance about them and will expect to be recognised by everyone. They like to be fussed about and expect complimentary treatment, maybe a bottle of Champagne or aperitifs on the house. I’ve even seen some of them expect the chef to pay them a visit and make a fuss when the chef hasn’t been able to.

The Divider

restaurants-eat-eating-eats_out-meal-chef-aton2056lAlso sometimes known as “The Splitter”, they are given paramount importance towards the fag-end of a group meal. Adept at splitting a cheque in ways that would put Aryabhatta to shame, they also sometimes assume the role of “The Tipster” deciding what percentage to add to the final bill. They can also occasionally be Mr. Scrooge McDuck and decide to cut the tip to help round off the bill.

The Solo Diner

food-drink-loser-eat_alone-single-specials-menu-jknn472lI’m going to briefly interject before you “Aww” this patron and feel sorry for their lack of company. Some of them are actually solo diners by choice. I know people who don’t mind eating alone and instead take this in their stride and consider it as some well-earned “me-time”. The Solo diners  find solace mostly in reading, using their phone to catch up on the latest happenings or sometimes even watching a movie on their tablet or laptop. If you have a choice, always choose to sit at the table next to a solo diner. They are the perfect table neighbour, who minds their own business.

The Linger-ers

restaurants-restaurants-wait-waits-time-busy-lcan366lUsually a talkative bunch, the Lingerers are also sometimes very hard to understand. They seem to thrive on the motto “I’ve finished eating. So What?” and “So what if people are queueing outside the door? I think I’m just going to sit here and finish talking”.

The Party Animals

stock-vector-vector-picture-dining-with-wine-in-restaurant-62703475These patrons are often hard to miss in any restaurant. They are the bunch of overdressed people with flashy accessories, laughing away loudly and happily. They could also be sporting party hats complete with whistles and bells and honestly, you would be excused in requesting that you be placed as far away as possible from them. But they’re not without their positives. For example, they are likely to order giant-sized portions of food. So just take a look at what looks appetising and make your decision. It’s like modelling for food.

The Phone-ys

restaurants-eat-eating-eats_out-meal-chef-gra060314lNo, not the fake ones. I mean the ones who are so obsessed with their phones that they’d rather WhatsApp  a joke to the person sitting right across the table rather than talk to them. Of course they are also obsessed with updating their Facebook status, checking in on FourSquare, or tweeting away asking for suggestions on what to order. They also remember to check the Sports score whilst they’re waiting for the food to be delivered. I’m also going to add to this list, the patrons who believe in answering calls whilst at a restaurant and show no hesitation in having full-length conversations (often loud enough to be heard by all fellow patrons) whilst the sizzling food is on the table waiting to be devoured

The Food Connoisseur 

restaurants-artisinal-waters-water_bottles-preparation-drinks_menu-aban1296lIf you can get over the fact that they may appear at times a bit obnoxious and can be every waiter’s and some chef’s worst nightmare, the foodies are pretty good patrons to be around. They are well-researched, know their wines, appetisers, mains, desserts and accompaniments. They know how to pronounce Blaufränkisch (in case you’re wondering, it is pronounced Blahw-FRAHN-keesh) and will know exactly what  the best dishes are. If in doubt, just take a peek at what they’re ordering. You could hardly go wrong.

The Affection-ers

dating-restaurants-dining-dined-eating_out-waiter-rnin546l (1)I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen a lot of these in India. But they are a very frequent breed of patrons across the globe. They’re often couples with the clear give-aways being severe Public display of affections like hugging, curling, coochy-cooing and can often be seen sitting extremely close to each other. Sometimes close enough to make the other patrons in the restaurant a bit uncomfortable. Of course on closer observation, you may also notice the feet of one of PDA’er running up the legs of another PDA’er too. Another tell-a-tale sign is the way they try to feed each other food. Squirms

The Family

children-eat-eating-eats_out-meal-chef-gra050205lNo, not the Italian ones. I am talking about the good old family diners.  Before the parents who are reading this vehemently oppose me and call for my beheading, let me tell you this. I've been on both sides of the fence. On the Single/couple side, tut-tuting “family patrons" wondering why they couldn't leave their little ones at home.  And now on the “family-side” wondering why the heck fellow patrons give us the evil eye. I’ll be honest. If you have a toddler, dining out at a restaurant is hard work. Simply because no amount of coaxing, bribing or food will serve as enough ammunition to keep them in their seat. They’ll want to explore the restaurant, see what other people are eating and as sometimes luck would have it, scream for no apparent reason. Or make heck of a noise using the table cutlery as percussion instruments.

And so as a parent, I’m going to give you this piece of valuable advice. If you are a parent to a baby or a toddler, do make sure to check in advance if the restaurant is baby-friendly. If it is, you'll have a fairly relaxed meal along with the rest of the patrons.

Singletons and Couples - If you are "fortunate" enough to be sat next to a "family", do spare us a thought. It's not that easy. And yes, we deserve a break too.

 

The Food Picture-ers

7333383400_8fef28f71c_o

These are the patrons who believe in the motto “What good is food if no one knows what you’re eating?" They often demand the fellow patrons not touch the food until they photograph it and tweet about it. Food going cold is of no concern to them. I’m also going to add to this list, the patrons who love to take the ever-popular selfies and groupies. Yes, right in front of the food. Not to mention that rather disturbing duck face that you sometimes have to look at while trying to dig into that plate of roasted duck in front of you.

 

 

So, how many have you encountered?


So, what's your "superpower" ?

family_assemble__by_andry_shango-d6bk7bh.jpg

For as long  as I can remember, I’ve been a sci-fi aficionado. Particularly with a lot of affinity towards Superheroes (and superheroines of course). As a child, I’ve dressed up in my favourite (not to mention, self-made) super hero costume, jumped up and down on my parent’s king size bed, kicking the living daylights out of imaginary villains. And I’ve sprained many a joint as well, throwing uncomfortable round-house kicks and falling from the high wall of my compound. Despite my numerous injuries, none of which were imaginary by the way, I retained my dedication to all these costumed superstars. I even remember the phase, where I secretly hoped that my parents were some sort of retired superheroes who were maintaining normalcy (and secrecy), to shield me from a mega-villain. And yes, I was tempted to try and dig up any records which could potentially incriminate them as superheroes in hiding. But against my extreme desire to give into this temptation to  follow in the footsteps of the great Sherlock Holmes,  I finally resigned to the fact that my parents were just normal human beings. (I know, how boring right?) And that I had no super powers. Except the ability to fart and burp at the same time. Which to be honest, reveals more about my digestive capabilities than anything else. Oh, and the super power to put on weight by just looking at food. Anyway, I digress.

As I grew up, I had more sense knocked into me, and I started dismissing all those childhood episodes of “super-hero-ism’s” and ascertained that it was more to do with me being a single child. After all, I did have plenty of imaginary friends. So then, why not, super heroes and mega-villains. Fast forward to the present. I am now a proud Papa to an amazingly active and naughty toddler, who is often the main source of inspiration for most of my parenting posts. Including this one. And over the course of the past year, I’ve discovered that I’ve had some superhero-esque traits, all along. I just had to be a parent to release them. Now before you go about picturing me with my underwear over my jeans or trousers, let me make one thing clear. The only similarity between Superman’s costume and mine, is that there are times when the waistband of my boxers tend to play peek-a-boo over my jeans (as well described in my previous post, Fashionista). But that’s where the costume similarity ends. As for the powers, yes, there, “we” definitely have a few similarities.

Superhuman strength & stamina

super-hero-parentsNow, as some of my previous posts have boldly stated, I’m not what you’d call healthy. So having to often run after this little toddler of mine, is something that makes me huff and puff like the big bad wolf in those fairy tales. But surprise, surprise - I've discovered that I not only have the ability to carry my toddler son in one hand, but also a set of heavy grocery bags in the other and run after public transport too. As a parent, we can often go for a whole day or even more, without taking rest, just powered by pure adrenaline. After all, being the parent of an active toddler, means having to spend a lot of time on our feet. Because you can be assured that the moment we decide to put up our feet to rest, is the moment that something will go drastically wrong.

Superquick reflexes, alertness and the “need for speed”

dreamstime_xs_19205088-super-mom1As a parent, we are always alert. After all, there is a crawling/walking/running/tip-toeing mini-bomb waiting to go off, the moment we look away. But not on our watch. And this alertness manifests itself as an ability to react to changing problems or objects. Like, how quickly we'd jump into the water to save our child or how when s/he is on the swing, we know the exact moment when they’re about to jump off. Not to mention, the incredible power of hearing that we have, when our toddler is not within our eyesight.Oh yes, we parents can give “Mr.Spidey” a run for his buck, with our ability to suddenly dive to catch a toddler falling from the bed or from above the table, and the capacity to duck high-impact flying objects, such a sippy cup or sometimes even the mushy-mashy food that we just stuffed into their mouth. Of course, not to mention the speed with which we have to chase them around the house to make them eat or get them to do stuff. Even, “The Flash” would be so proud :)

Nothing every misses our eye:

de-niro-parental-controlUnlike the Man of Steel, whilst we may lack the synonymic X-Ray vision, when it comes to our child, we notice everything. And when I say everything, I mean quite literally, everything. Nothing ever escapes our vision and we are constantly on the look out for trouble, no matter what hideous form they  might take.

The power of Super-Jumps (and occasional flights):

Catwoman_jumpHaving a toddler in the house is like being in a metropolitan city, without the beauty of the architecture. Regardless of our toddler’s tastes, or our intentions to keep the house spotless, we will invariably find buildings and objects of varying shapes and heights littered across every room. Though it mostly doesn’t cause us much harm, every now and then we may feel a stiff pain when our feet connects with these lovely objects. And soon, we too learn to jump over buildings and obstacles.

We have our own version of short, cunning scientists

stewie_by_joogz-d45g3qaBattling cunning, smart scientists is in a day’s work for a Superhero. Here again, we are very similar in that aspect. We too deal with 3 foot tall scientists, who are constant up to mischief and forever looking for ways to destroy the peace of the planet, that is our home. The only difference is that ours are way too cute for us to be angry with them indefinitely.

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list. And as each child is unique and different, each of us will also have a special hidden super power which helps us "tackle" our cunningly sweet scientist. So in a lot of ways, each of us as parents are not really far away from playing superheroes, all day, every day…well, maybe bar the costume.

On second thoughts, I might look into investing in a costume. A six-pack sounds fancy :)

divider

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda. Your post must contain, ‘ I was tempted’.

wowbadge Image courtesy : A very vigorous and tiring Google search The brilliant image on the front is from  - http://andry-shango.deviantart.com/ I stumbled on his site via Google image search, and he is a true master designer

Fashionista? I think not!

Jumper_Pixabay.jpg

Fashion is such a weird and wonderful thing.  And I speak with all the authority of someone who spent hours watching Fashion Tv when it first launched. Though I should also quickly confess that my watching FTv had nothing to do with fashion and all to do with the gorgeous international models and well, let’s say, slightly skimpy sheer clothing. So as I was saying, there are fashion choices that don’t make sense to me. I mean, yes you need to look presentable. But somehow I doubt walking into an interview in a crisp, new suit with a cowboy hat (as they sometimes demonstrate on these fashion shows) will get you that job. Unless you’re interviewing for the position of Head-trainer at a ranch maybe.  

Though not a fashionista by any definition of the word, having lived in quite a few metropolitan cities, I’ve been privileged enough to observe some rather strange and  unique fashion choices. Whilst I am not going to go into a detailed report of those, I must say this. Perhaps the stupidest fashion choice I’ve seen so far, is this sudden invasion of the low-rise jeans over the past decade. Also known in my world as either “Wanna see my underwear?” jeans or “Wanna see my bum-crack?” jeans, depending on the kind of (or lack of) inner wear. And sadly this “bum-ster syndrome” as I call it, is something that seems to have affected both genders (and others) equally. Anyway I digress.

 

I went shopping the other day. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. “Now, that’s not a statement that you hear everyday from a man!”. It’s true. I’m not so much into this retail therapy madness. Ok, maybe if I am shopping for gadgets. But for clothes ? Meh. Unless I really have to, I won’t. You see, I’m a rather overweight chap (I prefer the word physically disproportionate or better yet, round. Round is a shape, no?). So finding clothes that fit is, well, an arduous task. No, it wasn’t always like this. But my love for food, combined with a lack of physical activity and a rather severe hypothyroid condition which went undiscovered for several years, all collectively resulted in where I am and my shape today.

 

Back when I was in the UK, finding clothes that fit was rather easy. In a country, where even the average teenager had a much larger waist size than me, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I actually fell into the category of “normal-sized” people. So in reality, when I suddenly had to go shopping for clothes the very first time since I’d moved back to India, I was quite optimistic. I naively assumed that with so many big brands vying for market share, they would all cater to the needs of people of all shapes and sizes. After all, the labels on almost all the clothes that I had ever bought in the UK, stated proudly that they were made in India. But oh no! I was about to discover a whole new world of shopping pain.

 

As part of this “impromptu shopping spree”, we decided to try one of the larger shopping malls in Bangalore. All the big brands were under one roof and surely at least a couple of them would have thought of catering to the needs of “large disproportionate” men such as myself. So off I hankered into the men’s section. A bunch of salesmen cautiously approached me with their measuring tapes in tow. “Can I help you, sir?” asked one of them politely. “No, I’m alright!” I replied, sharply dismissing them with a wave of my hand. Kind of made me feel like a king, that act. I was confident that I could find a pair of well-fitting jeans in no time. After all, I knew my waist size and height. What I didn’t realise was that my waist size didn’t exist for most of the “ultra-cool” modern brands. Not one to give up hope, I continued to hunt and finally managed to find 3 pairs that boldly announced the waist size that I was after.  With these tucked under my arm, I marched confidently into the trial room. Alas, my nightmare was only about to begin.

 

The very first pair I tried on, never actually made it past my “muscular” thighs. I carefully took them off and looked at the size. Yes, I’d gotten the waist size right. But what I’d missed was this tiny little tag on the label that said “Slim Tapered”.  On closer observation, it revealed all kinds of details about the pair, the key one being - “Slim through thighs”. “No wonder they didn’t fit!” I thought. But then again, I was also secretly curious to find out who that rather unique person was, who had my waist size and such pencil-thin thighs. The second pair fared much better. It actually made it to my waist. The problem started when I tried to button them up. I tried everything I could think of - holding my stomach in and even clenching my butt. But nothing helped. And then finally I huffed and puffed like the big bad wolf in the three little pigs, and managed to button it up. By this point, I was sweating profusely and I wasn’t even done yet. I still had to pull up the zip. After another five minutes of unsuccessfully trying to zip up the jeans, I stopped trying. Huffing, puffing and panting again, I vetoed yet another pair of jeans. Or rather they’d vetoed me. All my hopes now rested on the final pair of jeans that hung comfortably off the hanger. It stared mockingly at me, almost daring me to give it a try. Wondering what fresh hell it was about to unleash, I decided to give it a go. To my surprise, it not just made the journey up to my waist quite comfortably, but I was able to button it up well and good without having to decide which bone in my body I needed to break.

 

Whilst I was standing there with the triumphant look of finally having managed to find a pair that fit me, there was a loud knock on the door followed by a rather melodious “Are you done yet Sid? We need to hurry!”. I smiled and quickly bundled up the “fitting” pair of jeans. But not before I glared at the other pairs that were now hanging off the hooks. “Jeans - Zero, Sid - One” I said out aloud as I quickly walked to the counter to pay the rather exorbitant sum of money for this single pair of jeans.

 

divider A couple of days later, 

My wife and I had planned to go out for a nice dinner and I decided that this was the best time to cavort around in my new pair of “branded” jeans that I’d paid a fortune for. Just like in the trial room, the jeans once again, slid up comfortably. Quite pleased with myself, I turned around to look at the mirror to admire my rather snug fitting profile. And that’s when I noticed that my boxers had made an appearance, peeking rather coyly over the waist band of the jeans. Wondering why I hadn’t noticed this the other day, I did what any self-respecting man would have done.  I tried to pull up the jeans at the waist. But no matter how hard I tugged, the jeans refused to rise enough to cover the label and brand of my inner wear. As I frantically tried to think of ideas that would help me cover this up, I noticed a tag on the jeans . In bold red letters they exclaimed, Speciality Low Rise jeans - for the man who likes to flaunt.

 

As someone who hated (and still hates) the concept of low rise/waist jeans, the irony of the fact that I now had to settle for these sort of jeans, was not lost on me. So what did I do? Well, I did what any sensible man would do. I’m now the proud owner of a number of Calvin Klein boxer shorts. After all, the world says “If you've got it, flaunt it!”.Except that in this case, “It” refers to an expensive pair of intimate wear. Fashion is a weird thing indeed.

 

 

divider

Let me leave you with this parting image. Tada - the future of jeans :)

low-jeans-funny

I don't know how she does it !

mulher-maravilha.jpg

I am a hands-on father. But I confess, my morning duties with my son are largely restricted to packing his school bag, combing his hair (which is one of the toughest things ever) and taking him downstairs to wait for the school mini van. Collectively which takes, say 15 minutes tops. Yet, I complain. I complain because every time I put stuff in his school bag, he deems it necessary to pull something else out. I complain because every time I lay the comb on his hair, he wiggles his body like jelly. I complain because when I take him downstairs, he is running around in circles and jumping up and down the steps instead of waiting quietly. And when I return from this fifteen minute trip, which to me, often feels like an hour, I often spend the next 10 minutes complaining to my wife, that it’s so difficult and I need a break. My wife, J, who’s often just finishing off her morning coffee (which has been reheated at least three times since it was made) before leaving for work, often just smiles at me and says “I understand, Sid!” before she bids me goodbye for the day.

So imagine my surprise, when she suddenly informed me that she had an early office appointment on the 5th of the month, and hence I’d have to take charge of all the “morning rituals” for Rishi. She also added that she could get someone else to “help me”, to ensure a smooth flow of all the processes involved. Though the idea of getting someone to help did sound appealing initially, I vehemently dismissed her suggestion of “help”. After all, she did it alone every single day, along with getting herself ready for work too.

“How bad could it be?” I thought, with a smirk on my face.

On the day, i.e. today, J left quite early. And to help “facilitate” the morning process, as she called it, she’d left me with a detailed note, including the time it took for each activity, just to ensure that Rishi left on time. Of course, I didn’t need the note, but since she’d taken the pains to get it done, I thought I should at least give it a one time read. Now, whilst I am not going to detail the list here, I will give you a snap shot of what transpires daily in the morning, at least as far as Rishi is concerned.

Click to read it at a higher resolution

Pretty darn efficient, right? I mean, how difficult could it be? I was just about to discover the answer to my question.

Since it was my first attempt in singlehandedly trying to get Rishi ready for school, I decided to try and wake him up about 15 minutes early. After all, I didn't want him to be late on my watch. Curious to see how the “usually efficient time management system” worked for me? Read on.

Click to read it at a higher resolution

And then I glance at my watch. It boldly states the time as 09:05.

As I walk back to the flat, my phone beeps. It’s a message from J. It says “Hope everything is fine and Rishi left on time !”

After contemplating for moment (and also catching my breath from all the rolling  and tumbling running from earlier), I reply “ Managed somehow. I seriously don’t know how you do it!"

********

I hereby dedicate this to all the amazing MOM's that I know (and one's I don't too). If it weren't for all you lovely women, our kids probably wouldn't have made it to school on time. Ever. Oh, a big shout out to all the fathers who help too. And I have a pretty awesome kid too.

This post was selected as Screen Shot 2014-03-22 at 10.37.49 pm

The Runners

funny-runners-coloring-page.jpg

I first met Kajal through Write Tribe. Even though we read each other’s posts quite frequently, it was a particular post that actually “ignited” this friendship of ours - a post of mine called “Summer and me”. And then we got chatting via Facebook and before you knew it, we even discovered that we shared not just the love of writing, but also the love for movies. Kajal, in her own words, is what she terms as a “mind vagabond”. And to exercise the plethora of thoughts that fill her mind, she writes not one, but two blogs. The movie aficionado side of hers is clearly visible at Movie Massala where you can find her honest and unbiased critiquing of the latest blockbusters to grace the lovely theatres near you. Her personal blog, Rainbow Hues, is a diverse and colourful collection of beautiful posts written straight from the heart, and can range from  “put-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat” fiction to “relating-sitcoms-to-real-life-scenarios” to “modern-parenting” to “life-lessons”.

As a person, Kajal is bubbly, effervescent (no, she’s not a can of soda!) and totally in love with colours. After all, her life also revolves heavily around her beautiful daughter, aptly named “Dhanak”, which means, no points for guessing, Rainbow.

Kajal, I’m ecstatic at having been able to guest post on your lovely blog, and I sincerely hope, I’ve been able to do it justice. And with that, let's take a peek at what my devious mind has cooked up today.


I go for a morning jog.

What was that sound? Oh, was that you falling off your chair and rolling on the floor laughing?? Haha, very funny! Let’s get back shall we?

One of the best things about a morning jog is that you get to observe what’s around you. No, I’m not talking about the beautiful sunrise, the chirpy birds, the hot babe in those really tight shorts and even more tighter top or that buff young man, who believes that running shirtless showing off his six-packs, biceps, triceps and other muscles that I never even knew existed, is the only way to do so.

Click here to continue

I’d love to hear your thoughts about the post. Feel free to drop your comments either here or on Kajal's blog and I promise to reply soon :)

Mr Murphy gives me a flight to remember

travtoon-74-travelog_final2.jpg

I let out a sigh of relief. My international flight was scheduled for take off in an hour and I was thanking my lucky stars that I had been able to make it to the airport, even if it was with minutes to spare. I was flying back to London after a short break with my parents in Dubai, and despite having made the journey from my home to Dubai International Airport numerous times, my father had somehow managed to take a couple of wrong turns, which meant we ended up travelling half the way to Abu Dhabi (another emirate about 150kms away) before we were en route to the airport. But I really can’t blame my father entirely on this front. There are days when everything can possibly go wrong, and today was just one of those days. In retrospect, I should have guessed that something was going to go wrong, the moment I put my hand into the toiletry bag and realised that my shampoo had leaked. But being optimistic, I didn’t take it to heart, and just blamed it on my “rather unprofessional” packing skills. Of course this meant that I not only had to change my toiletry bag, but also my suitcase, since there was a large off-white stain seeping through the top, which I wasn’t keen on having to explain to anyone. So after 20 minutes of hastily re-packing everything (or as my mother calls it - dumping everything haphazardly) into  another suitcase, I was finally packed and ready to go. The only thing that was left for me to do, was to quickly change my clothes and we could be on our way.

Having broached the subject of clothes, there is a confession that I must make. Whilst on long-haul flights, or any flight that’s over three hours in duration, there are only two T-shirts that I prefer to wear. Since I’d worn one of them on my flight to Dubai a couple of days ago, this only left me with one other option. Of course, I had plenty of other shirts and tees, but consider this one of my, let’s say idiosyncrasies (though some of them call it being superstitious - a word that I vehemently dislike). As I pull down this particular t-shirt over my head, I hear a loud ripping sound. I glance down, only to realise that there was now a large tear where I had grasped the t-shirt (probably too tightly) to pull it down. That should have been my second sign, that the day was not really going to go according to plan. But once again, optimism took over cynicism and I swapped my torn T-shirt for another shirt. An hour behind schedule, we were finally on our way to the airport.

After the ceremonial good-byes were said and tears shed, I quickly ran to the baggage drop counter. Usually the queue for this counter is the fastest moving one, regardless of which airlines you’re flying on or which airport you’re flying from. I mean, that’s usually the benefit of having checked in online, isn’t it? And since I’d made it to the airport before the check-in counter closed (even if it was just minutes before), I was sure that my ill-luck was going to turn around. Alas, fate had other plans. The queue was moving at a snail’s pace and I was starting to get really impatient. I quickly waved to one of the airline support staff who was shepherding the queue and informed him that I was running really late for my flight. Though he initially gave me a look, which I could only construe as “So? That’s not my fault !”, I suspect good sense prevailed and he helped me skip the queue and drop my luggage.

As I quickly rushed through security and immigration, I heard a strange name being announced via the public-address system. It sounded strangely familiar, but vaguely alien too. After a couple of repeated hearings, I suddenly realised why the name sounded familiar. It was my name, but coated in a thick Arabic accent. I rushed up the escalator in an attempt to find a directional signboard which would direct me to my boarding gate. I quickly glanced at my boarding pass, which boldly announced my boarding gate as C49. I looked around to find out where I was, and noticed a large interactive panel, which stated “Looking for your gate? Find out here!”. Thinking that it must be a sign from above, I let the strange looking machine scan my boarding pass. And then it loudly announced, with almost a Scarlett Johansson-esque voice  “You are approximately 20 minutes away from your boarding gate. The gate will close in exactly 13 minutes”. Cursing my fate again, I take a deep breath, and make a run for it. Now, since I’m largely overweight, and can be categorised under the shape “Round”, I suspect that for an on-looker, I might have appeared akin to a rather large beige snowball, rolling towards its destination. But one thing I’ve always prided myself in, is the fact that I can run pretty fast. Well, faster than what you’d expect from a fat person. You know why? Because I always assume that there’s some lovely food waiting for me at finish line. And my "athletic" skills didn’t fail me this time either; I reached the gates (albeit huffing, panting and sweating like I’d just run a marathon) with 2 minutes to spare.

The pretty looking airline ground staff took one look at me and slightly wrinkled her nose. I knew why. No amount of Davidoff Cool Water or Armani Code perfume could mask that lovely odour that I was giving out. Silently I followed her through the air bridge and into the aircraft, where a pleasant looking steward directed me to my seat. As I walked down the aisle, I noticed that almost everyone was staring at me. I timidly walked up to the row that I was designated to sit in. As luck would have it, I’d been allotted a window seat. And not just that, the seat next to me was empty. I almost squealed with delight, because as any experienced air traveller can tell you, having two seats to yourself automatically qualifies you for an enjoyable flight. But again, fate, or in this case I call it, Murphy’s law, decided to rear its ugly head.

As I buckled up my seat belt, and took deep breaths to calm myself down, I heard the muffled sound of pointed heels against the carpeted aircraft floor. Assuming that it was the stewardess bringing me some water, I looked up with a smile on my face. But alas it wasn’t the stewardess. Rather it was one of the most gorgeous looking women that I’d ever seen (Of course my wife is way hotter). Now here’s a bit of insight into men and air travel, or rather any kind of travel. If we’re travelling alone, every one of us (and I mean every one) secretly hopes that we have a pretty companion as a co-traveller. If it’s someone who can also indulge in a bit of chit-chat, then trust me, we are really happy campers. And as a man, I couldn’t believe that I’d struck what we called the “travel-lottery”. Alas, it was one of those days when I could have really done without a pretty companion, or any companion for that matter. But Murphy is evil. Not only did he seat a gorgeous woman next to me, he seated a gorgeous woman who was talkative and rather flirtatious, next to me. And here I was, unable to continue the chit chat because I was conscious of my rather dishevelled appearance and body odour.

With a heavy heart, I excused myself, plugged in my headphones and pretended to fall asleep, all the while cursing my bad luck. Ironically, I did actually manage to fall asleep, and when I got up a few hours later, my pretty neighbour was deep in flirtatious conversation with a rather dapper looking gentleman, who was sat in the aisle seat in the next column. “That could have been me!” I thought, once again cursing Murphy and his dreaded law. And that’s when it struck  me. I did have a spare shirt in my hand luggage and all the other luxury toiletries that I needed, to re-invent myself and make an impact on this damsel. With that in mind, I gathered my spare shirt and the toiletry bag, and popped into the aircraft washroom. Now, if you’ve travelled by air, you’ll know that aircraft toilets have severe space constraints. So trying to dress up there, is not really the best option in the world. But since I didn’t have much of a choice, contorting my body in almost impossible ways, I managed to change my shirt and freshen up.  And that’s when I heard the familiar ding of the “seat-belt sign” chime.

Content that she’d have to put on her seat belt and hence couldn’t stretch over and talk to the other man, I happily walked over to my row. I heard a melodious giggle from the row of seats adjacent to mine (yes, the very one that that dapper man was sitting in). And that’s when I noticed that the pretty damsel was no longer sitting next to me. She was sitting next to the man, giggling away at what I can only assume was one of his jokes. Sighing, I glanced at what was originally her seat, i.e. the one next to mine. Sitting there comfortably with her librarian glasses and reading the bible, was an elderly nun.

Cursing Mr. Murphy once again, I slowly slid into my seat. It was going to be a long, lonely flight.


[This post is written for the Project 365 program at We Post Daily aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. The prompt for today was "Comedy of Errors: Murphy’s Law says, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”]

The curious case of the "serious" aunt

introvert1.jpg

I love to travel. Train, bus, ship, air - all kinds of travel gives me a thrill like no other. And as much as I love to travel with my better half, there are times when I prefer to travel alone too. Mainly because it gives me enough time to think and also lets me observe people. I’m also the sort of person who prefers (and secretly hopes) that the seat next to him remains empty. Except when travelling with my wife that is. Or when it is occupied by a really charming woman. The problem is that though I am not a great conversationalist, I am a pretty good listener. And I acknowledge. Which means, I am frequently hounded by  talkative people who are happy to have got someone to listen to their rather “serious conditions”. And I’m just too nice to ask them to shut up. Over the years, I’ve had the unfortunate “pleasure” of travelling with a number of rather unique co-travellers. But nothing spoils your travelling experience like having a fellow-traveller who takes everything seriously, quite literally (Also now popularly known as people "jinki #ConditionSeriousHai") My chance encounter with this rather “serious aunt” happened two weeks ago, during one of my solo-trips from Bangalore to Chennai. I had just plugged in my headphones and was scrolling through my iPad looking for something to watch, when I noticed a rather large shadow loom over me. I glanced up and saw slightly elder lady glaring at me. Confused, I threw a questioning look, to which she responded with a pointed finger. I followed her finger and found that she was gesturing at one of the straps of my laptop bag, a tiny part of which, was lying on the seat next to me. Nodding my head in acknowledgement, I tugged at the strap firmly, so that no part of my bag (or me) was touching the adjacent seat. Apparently satisfied with this, the lady opened up her large handbag and procured a pack of facial tissues. And as I watched, she dusted the seat and the arm rest with a couple of these tissues and eventually sat down next to me. Ignoring her, I started to put my headphones back on, when I heard the gentle squeeze of a bottle next to me. Out of the corner of my eyes, I noticed that she was using one of those hand sanitisers to “cleanse” her hands. She then took out a small cannister and sprayed it a few times all around her. And then she covered her face completely with a cloth face-mask (yes, the kind that became popular when Swine Flu was doing its rounds). I grinned, as I went back to fiddling with my iPad trying to locate something to help me pass the time. But little did I then know, that all the "entertainment" that I would require for the six hours of travel, was sitting right next to me.

After about thirty minutes of flipping through the iPad, having been unable to find anything interesting,  I glanced at the lady on my left once again. She had her tray table out and had laid out an A4 sized sheet of paper (which I assumed was her ticket printout) along with a laminated ID card. “Man, she’s so organised!” I thought, as I patted my shirt pocket to make sure I had a copy of my ticket. As the Ticket Inspector approached, she slowly put her hands into the depths of her handbag and dug out something that was neatly wrapped up in plastic. On closer inspection, I noticed that it was a pair of disposable sandwich gloves. She put them on and impatiently started tapping her fingers on tray table. When the inspector asked her for the ticket, she handed over the A4 sheet and quickly flashed her ID at the inspector. When he returned the ticket, she carefully wrapped up the ticket in the one of the gloves, put them together into another plastic bag and put this package into her handbag. She then pulled out her santiser spray again and gently cleaned the laminated ID card with a piece of tissue. Satisfied with her endeavour, she put the card back into her wallet and leaned back against her seat. Amused by the entire episode, I let out a slight snigger. She quickly looked at me and asked “So, you think this is funny? Do you know how many germs get passed merely through touching another person’s hand?” Too stunned to reply, I whispered a meek “Sorry” and quickly diverted my attention back to the iPad. As I scrolled through the iPad, I could sense that the lady was observing my actions. Not wanting to be at the receiving end of another outburst, I pretended not to notice her. After a little while, she said “Excuse me. It might not be my business, but I’ve been noticing that you have been scrolling through that machine for a while now. Do you want a tissue? I can see smudge marks all over the screen, even from here.” As much as I wanted to say “It’s none of your business!”, I quietly nodded, which prompted her to pass me a piece of tissue, using something that resembled a pair of tweezers. I mouthed a “Thank you” and in a bid to get her to look away, I slowly started vigorously rubbing my iPad screen in a circular motion, hoping that she wouldn’t construe my acceptance of her tissue as an invitation to chit-chat.

Unfortunately she did, and before long, she was going on about how her son had told her about an invention, a pair of gloves to be more specific, that would let everyone use touch-screens without the fear of “getting any germs transmitted”. Being an engineer and a techie, I really wanted to stop her at that point and tell her that the pair of gloves was meant to be an invention that would let you use your touchscreen without any problem even during really cold weather, and not meant to prevent the transfer of "hand-spread bacteria". But something told me that it wouldn’t be a good idea to start a technical conversation with her, and I remained silent, occasionally nodding my head. As the journey progressed, she continued to ramble on about seemingly trivial little topics that according to her, were “quite serious” in nature. These included but were not limited to how it was important to keep everything neat, the importance of being organised when travelling, how she was always concerned about health and getting infections from people, how she hated it if things were out of place and without any sense of order, be it a carpet that was slightly out of alignment with the floor tiles or a bookshelf that did not have the books arranged in the order of their height. She also added how it really drove her mad when “kids these days” (I’m quite sure she meant me) were always so engrossed in their little gadgets and not serious enough about their health, career and settling down in life.

“Oh dear lord!” I thought, as I absent-mindedly scratched the remnants of an old, un-healed wound on one of my arms. After a few seconds, I realised that she had stopped talking. I looked at her and realised that she too was scratching one of her arms. Unsure how to react, I slowly stopped scratching and looked at her. She continued scratching, all the whilst recoiling at the scar on my hand which had turned slightly pinkish, due my scratching. “Have you gotten that checked? Do you have a dog? Maybe it’s an allergy. Do you know if it’s contagious?” she asked with a distressed look on her face. For a moment, I almost felt that she was going to whip out her sanitiser canister and spray it all over me. I smiled at her and said, “That’s just an old wound. It’s taking its own time to heal.” “Oh no!” she exclaimed loudly. "How long has it been? If it’s been more than a month and it hasn’t healed, it might be infected. When did you last see the doctor? Has it been more than a few months? Then you might be diabetic! How old are you? When did you last check your blood sugar?” I stared at the woman, surprised at her panic attack. “Ma’am” I said, unsure how else I could address her, “Please calm down. This is a wound from when I fell down a few weeks ago. Each time it almost heals, I inadvertently scratch and it opens up again. That’s the reason. It’s not because I’m diabetic or have an infection.” 

That answer seemed to have satisfied her and she both stopped scratching as well as talking to me. Though a few minutes later, I did notice that she had pulled out a full-sleeved sweater from her bag and put it on, taking special care to ensure that no part of her hand ever touched mine. “What a nut-job!” I thought to myself as I looked at my watch. We would be pulling into Chennai in under an hour, and I couldn’t wait to get out of the train, away from this strange woman with her “serious obsession” with trivial things. As I sat there tapping my feet, I couldn’t help but notice a rustling sound beside me. Once again, curiosity got the better of me and I peeked out of the corner of my eye. The lady had taken out another one of her disposable sandwich gloves and was busy trying to fit her hands into these. From within the abyss of her large handbag, she brought out a rectangular bar which was enclosed in a shiny red wrapper with bits of white writing on it. A closer look  revealed that it was the “four-fingered” version of a popular chocolate brand. As I watched, she patiently opened the red wrapper making sure that she had cut along the designated dotted line with a pair of small scissors. Once this was done, she carefully folded the wrapper up in precise, neat folds and put it into a tiny plastic bag she had. She carefully took the chocolate, which was still wrapped in a shiny aluminium foil and made three tiny cuts on the foil. At this point, I stopped peering out of the corner of my eyes and was quite literally staring at her, wondering what she was going to do. And then, as I watched, she pulled out a ruler and carefully marked three vertical lines on the aluminium foil with an architect’s precision. Satisfied with her work, she carefully “snapped” off one of these “fingers”, all the while making sure that it had broken off in a straight line. I continued to stare at her, in the hope that she would realise that she was taking this "obsessiveness for order" to a whole new level. Unfortunately, she didn’t notice and continued to carefully peel off the wrapper of this lone chocolate finger.

As the train pulled into the platform at Chennai Central railway station, I slowly got off my seat and moved into the aisle to pick up my back pack from the top shelf. As I swung my backpack around my shoulder, I was struck with a rather cheeky idea. Now, I’m not usually one to respond to people who irritate me, but over the course of the six hour journey, I had borne the brunt of the lady and "serious condition" and I wanted to desperately give her a piece of my mind. I fumbled through my back pack till I found what I was looking for. As the train came to slow halt, I looked at the lady and showed her what I had in my hand. And as she watched, I haphazardly stripped the golden yellow wrapper off (on purpose of course), and took a large, un-symmetrical bite of the chocolate. Wiping the oozing caramel away from my lips, I smiled and said “Take a chill pill, ma’am. Seriousness is a very serious disease!”. As I turned to walk away, I felt my backpack connect with her arm. I glanced over at her and said “I’m sorry about that ma’am. If I were you, I’d wash your hands right away. You’ve no idea where all my bag has been.”

As I walked away with a million dollar smile on my face, I could hear the now-familiar squeeze of the sanitiser bottle echo from a few yards behind me.

This post is written for the #ConditionSeriousHai contest, organised by the site IndiBlogger in association with Cadbury 5 Star. Check out the Cadbury 5 star Facebook page here, and live a little less seriously.

 

Disclaimer: Though the lady in this encounter was probably a really "rare and unique" example, and in all likelihood, be hell bent on hunting me down after this post gets published, I do acknowledge that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a serious concern. Why, somewhere deep down, I strongly believe that I too have OCD. Why else does a tangled wire drive me up the wall? Or constantly check under the seat when I go to a movie theatre? We all have traces of it. But the lighter we can make of a situation, the more we enjoy life. For now, have Cadbury 5 Star and enjoy yourself.

Image courtesy Cadbury 5 Star Facebook page

 

Shoulda, woulda, coulda

8690084_orig.gif

8690084_origProcrastination is my middle name. Or it would be, if I had one. Luckily for me, I don’t. If there is something that I can put away doing indefinitely, I will. And this isn’t a new characteristic that I’ve suddenly picked up, now that I’m working from home. I’ve always been so, probably for as long as I can remember. Of course back then, I didn’t know the word for it. I used to proudly say that I was "Mr. Last Minute.com", as if I was some sort of super hero. However as I grew up, I was "made" to realise the various connotations and meanings that this ‘alleged super hero name of mine' could be misconstrued as. So I set about searching the magnificent English language and found this magical word which defines a part of me - a procrastinator. Mr. Procrastinator - if I didn’t know the meaning, I would have said it sounds like a cool nick name. Ok. I digress. So as I mentioned, my procrastination in doing things (or rather not doing things in a timely fashion) has been evident to me for a really long time. Back when I was a child (I still am - at heart that is), I always waited until the end of the day to do my homework, except when my mom lovingly asked me to (read : ordered) complete it before going out to play. When the exam schedules came out, one of the things we kids always unnecessarily concerned ourselves with was “how many off-days we had before a particular exam”. I too was interested in it. But only because I wouldn’t touch my book until the day before. Ok, that’s untrue - I would touch the book, but there’d usually be a small story book tucked somewhere inside that. Again, the only exception would be when my mother would kindly sit me down to work through some tests. And it wasn’t just studies. I’d been taught from a young age that it was good manners to wash my plates and utensils after a meal. I would put them in the sink with the righteous intention of washing them later, and then forget about it, until my mom would remind me about them. Taking out the garbage had also been my responsibility, one which I'd often conveniently put away till later. Now, there’s really no harm in that, unless you have a cat around the house, who loves to go through the garbage.

There are more important things in life : Image courtesy Google

Despite being given numerous talking to’s, I still continued to procrastinate. My parents finally just put it down to my “childish charm” and hoped that adolescence would teach me a thing or two about why I shouldn’t put things away for later. Alas, I’d say they didn’t have their fingers crossed tight enough. During my teenage and pre-twenty years, I was largely away from home. So needless to say, dishes piled up more frequently and garbage toppled ever so often (even without the cat). And studying was no longer just last minute, it became selective. I would often leave it, until the evening before exam. And even then, I would only learn selective topics, keeping my fingers crossed and hoping that I'd studied enough to pass. As for homework and assignments, they were often hurriedly scribbled work that I’d have put together whilst on the hour-long bus journey to college. Why, I even procrastinated in (actually I prefer the phrase “waited for a reasonable period before”) asking my now-wife JP out on a date. As for the hand in marriage thing, let’s not go there. Five years into marriage and I’m not really sure if I'd even proposed to her. She may have had enough of my procrastination and decided to take the “bull by the horns”, so to speak.

Once again my parents, together with my lovely wife, hoped and prayed that marriage would make me a more responsible person. Whilst they weren’t entirely disappointed on that front, my procrastination still continued. Things that I were interested in and found enjoyable such as reading, watching TV, playing on my Xbox, cooking, movies, eating out and all other such important activities were being executed in a precise and timely manner. Why, I even started cleaning up the dishes promptly and taking out the garbage daily. But I still procrastinated about other things such paying bills, doing the laundry and other trivial household chores. Another bunch of things that I dawdled about were social commitments in general and keeping in touch with certain relatives. Plus there was Facebook and Twitter. And online games. And the Internet in general.

And then out of the blue, I became a parent.

To date, fatherhood has been my single greatest teacher. And I still have miles to go before “I sleep”. I suppose I should be a bit honest here too. I procrastinated at procreating too. Ok, that didn’t come out quite so well. (Sid, enough with the unintended innuendos!) What I meant is, we both procrastinated and dilly dallied with the decision of creating an off-spring. Me more than her, I suppose. I wasn’t sure I was ready for all that responsibility. And I’d both read and been told about the nightmares of three-hourly feeds, unearthly diaper changes and the likes. But eventually I was convinced and we had a little one. Yes, for the first few months, seven to be precise, I hardly procrastinated about anything. It was like I’d been reborn. I did everything promptly and sometimes even without being asked. Frankly it was a rather pleasant surprise to all, including me. But that’s the thing with life. Some things are just too good to be true. And eventually, as the little one grew up, I slowly started putting things off again. During my watch, diapers were left on a tad longer than they should have been, milk bottles were sterilised at the last minute and so on.

Fast forward to the present. Our little one is all of 22 months old, and as you can see from my “M for Mischief series”, he is quite a handful. As a work at home father, during my main shift of 12-6 (he goes to play school in the morning, leaving me with some time to procrastinate!), I am frequently on my feet trying to play a combination of Super Heroes from Superman jumping over tall objects to Mr. Fantastic who can extend his arms  ( and other parts as required) to catch falling glass containers and plates. So there’s hardly any time for procrastination.

However you should know this about me. I am a staunch believer in the phrase “If there’s a will, there’s a way”. So eventually I always get around to doing what’s required of me, even if it’s at the last minute. Sort of like this post :)

Keep calm and procrastinate now ! Image courtesy Google


Disclaimer(s):

I know some parts of the post make my parents sound like they didn’t pay proper attention to me. That is untrue. If anything, they’re guilty of paying me extra attention. Kindly refrain from confusing my procrastination with laziness. That’s not to say that I’m not lazy. That I am. My procrastination arises from the fact that I am too engrossed in doing things that I’m really interested in at a given point, that I sometimes “forget” that I pushed something else aside in the past. Finally, I know some of those lines shed really bad light on my parenting skills. Please don’t call Child Welfare. I’m a decent parent :)

[This post is written for the Project 365 program at We Post Daily aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. The prompt for today was "Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda : Tell us about something you know you should do . . . but don’t"]

The birth of a Chef

i3Vp5BGS.jpg

The first  ever meal I cooked was a total disaster. Ok, disaster is probably an understatement. But it was absolutely inedible. So much so, that I had to bribe the waste bin to devour it. The year was 2006 and I had just moved to the UK to pursue my Masters degree. Though I’d been away from home for almost five years at that point, I had been fortunate enough to have had plenty of affordable takeaways near where I stayed. Which meant, I'd never had to cook. Moving abroad was an eye-opener in more ways that one. But that’s a topic for another day. Today it’s all about my tryst with cooking.  

Here’s a bit of a flashback into how much I knew about cooking back then. Something as simple as cooking rice was beyond me. The monstrous pressure cooker scared me (To be honest, it continues to haunt me even today, especially when I'm caught off guard by the howling whistle). Spluttering mustard seeds spooked the beejeezus out of me. I didn’t know that one should never pour oil into a hot pan that contained droplets of water. I even gave up drinking coffee and tea when I  moved from home, in the fear that I would burn the house down, if I had tried. In retrospect, I blame my mom. Though she was really forward-thinking in most aspects, she still refrained from asking the men of the house for any kind of assistance in the kitchen. And my father, foodie though he is, his association with food both starts and ends at the dining table. So I suppose it should come as no surprise, that I didn't know a thing about cooking.

 

However when I landed in the UK, in the quaint little seaside town of Brighton, which essentially was a student hub, I had no choice but to start cooking. Or rather acquire the skill of cooking. Now I’ve always been intrigued by the art of cooking. It all started off when my almost-similar age cousin started showing off his culinary skills. Everytime we visited their home, he would whip up tasty dishes. So, by peer-pressure, I decided to do some research into this. Back then, I was still at school, and living with my parents in Dubai. The Friday newspaper was always accompanied by a free Lifestyle magazine, coincidentally titled “Friday”. And they had a food section, spread across four pages, filled with mouth-watering images of glorious food. And they were all mostly international cuisines. Now, though I was born and brought up in a multi-cultural society such as Dubai, our “international food experiments” ended with pizzas and shawarmas. Apart from that, it was mostly Indian cuisine. So these brilliant food images with their fancy names intrigued me to no end. But here was the problem - I was more inclined to devour them, rather than actually attempt making them.

 

There was actually another reason as to why I experimented with cooking while in Brighton. My lovely wife, JP, (who was then my girlfriend) was also pursuing her Masters degree in the same university. And me being the hapless romantic that I was (influenced by a lot of rom-com movies and chick-lit books), decided that it would be the ultimate romantic gesture to cook her a lovely meal. Once again, though I have repeatedly said that I was forced to learn the skill of cooking,  the reality was I still had it relatively easy - because JP is (and always has been) a fantastic cook. In retrospect, an attempt to impress JP with my cooking skills, when I had a total of zero hours cooking experience, was always going to have a not-so-good ending. Whilst I am not going to go into a step-by-step listing of my disastrous culinary steps, I will say this. What I had originally conceived in my mind to be a romantic dinner of fried rice and cauliflower manchurian, ended up as an out-on-the-porch dinner with cups of instant noodles doused in pickle (yes, we still retained our Indian-ness) and chilli ketchup. Not quite as planned, but romantic nevertheless.

 

That evening was single-handedly the biggest contributing factor to me picking up the knives, spatula and saucepan with a view to at least master the art of cooking a decent enough meal. Some famous person once said that “In the journey of self-discovery, it is important to identify what stage you’re at presently”. Now, for me, that stage was quite evident - I still had miles to go before I could even climb a single rung on the culinary ladder. Though the realisation was a bitter pill to swallow, it helped me let go of my inhibitions and awakened me to the fact that I was indeed, an abysmal cook.

 

Being a bibliophile, I naturally assumed that cookbooks would be my first source of guidance in my culinary journey. Boy, was I wrong. Even the famed “Cooking basics for Dummies” didn’t help much, as I succumbed under the pressure imposed by the super-villains for the culinary world  - the “I-can-make-anyone-cry” onion, the “I-am-both-firm-and-squishy” tomato and “I-am-unbelievably-hot” chilli. Soon, I bundled up all the cookbooks that I had so gleefully borrowed from the library and returned them. Being an avid believer in the fact that technology has the answer to almost everything, I decided to befriend two new partners - Google and YouTube. Since I’d already discovered that cookbooks were not for me, I decided against reading the recipes. Instead, I watched clips of talented chefs using their magical knife skills and brilliant taste palettes to create some formidable dishes. After weeks of unsuccessful practice sessions, cut fingers and burnt hands, I was still no where closer to being able to put a single dish on the table. And that’s when I decided to swallow my pride and place myself under the tutelage of JP.

 

And on one cold winter afternoon, JP and I, embarked on a culinary journey, that would change my very outlook on cooking. I soon learnt how to skillfully use the basic kitchen tools without cutting myself in the process, how to identify what combination of vegetables worked well together and mastered the art of using spices judiciously. Within months, I successfully delivered my first complete Indian meal. Ok, so I still didn’t know how to make chapattis. But I assure you, my mutter paneer was spot on.

 

image

 

Soon, we started taking turns in the kitchen and my cooking became the talk of the town. Well, ok, not the town, but it did gain some popularity amongst fellow students. However my culinary journey felt incomplete. From not knowing how to cook rice to frequently delivering above-average dishes, my culinary skills had definitely improved. But in my heart, I knew that I wouldn’t be happy until I was able to successfully re-create at least one of those international dishes that I had read about, years ago, in that lifestyle magazine.

 

That’s when JP & I discovered the Food Channel. The Food Channel took us right out of our living rooms and placed us alongside (albeit virtually) culinary legends such as Gordon Ramsay, Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver, Marco Pierre-White, Rick Stein and many others. It also opened our eyes to the world of culinary competitions such as MasterChef and the Great British Bake Off. There started our love story with cooking, and there’s been no looking back.

 

Before I wrap up, here are some of my sample dishes:

 

image

image

image


You’re probably wondering what madness coerced me into rambling about my trysts with cooking. Actually, it was a Project 365 prompt. The prompt was : "Teachable moments -You have to learn a new skill. Do you prefer to read about it, watch someone else do it, hear someone describe it, or try it yourself?”. And as you can see, I pretty much did all of it before I was eventually able to add “cooking” as a skill to my repertoire . Featured image: http://www.morguefile.com/creative/Seemann

M for Mischief - Part 2

happy-baby-flower-cartoon-24909807.jpg

(Continued from M for Mischief - Part 1) I notice that the sliding door to the balcony is open. I get  excited since it's a territory that I don't usually get to explore. I have always been curious to find out what it is, that Ma and Pa are so defensive about. Strangely, I don’t discover anything unusual at first. I stand up on the step of the balcony trying to put my head in between the identical columns of bars that seem to block my view of the world beyond.  After a number of unsuccessful attempts, I sit down, tired from all the effort. A rather unpleasant squishy feeling on my backside reminds me that I have gone poo-poo. I look around and discover, in the corner, hidden from view, a row of tiny pots. There are a few green bits and pieces coming out of them. But it is what’s in the base of the pots that interest me. Something dark and soft beckons me, almost daring me to give it a go. As I put my hands in to the pots and try to squeeze the softness that adorns it, I hear my name being called out loud from the other side of the glass doors. In my panic to get out, I push the pot away and get to my feet. Before Pa can rush into the balcony, I walk into the living room and climb on the sofa. That’s when I notice my little muddy foot prints, all the way from the balcony ending right where I was standing, on the sofa.

At this point, I’m sure Pa is going to give me one tight whack. But he just stands there wrinkling his nose up in disgust. That’s when it hits me that he must have got a whiff of what was in my diaper. He gingerly picks me up and takes me into the loo, where he washes off my poo (Hey, that rhymed!). But not before I manage to get hold of the soap dispenser, a few tooth brushes and a tube of paste and throw it on the ground. After a quick (but rather vigorous) body wash, he gets me all dressed up again. I follow Pa as he rushes off to the kitchen balcony and puts my clothes into a rather large machine, throws in some white powder and hastily presses some buttons. Oblivious of my presence, he gets back in to the kitchen and closes the door after him. I do not make a sound and watch him disappear from view. I wait for a few minutes by the door to check if he notices that I’m missing. But if I know him well, he’s probably chatting away with those lovely  ladies and the handsome cartoon man. Now, even though I am only 22 months old, I believe in making the most of the time I have. So I go exploring this very tiny balcony. I notice there are three sets of buckets, one of them more brighter than the others. I open the lid and peer inside. Since the area is quite dimly lit, I end up putting my hand into the bucket in an attempt to discover its mysterious contents. As my fingers grasp hold of something slimy, I hear the balcony door opening. I turn around to see Pa waving his hand at me and muttering something which sounds like “Why…something….I…something ..you. something...bath…something…” I smile at him again as he picks me up and washes my hands with soap.

Holding me tightly, he warms up my milk and gives it to me. Since I am usually a slow drinker, this gives Pa about 15 minutes to get his act together. Once I finish my milk, I push the cup away and watch for a few minutes as Pa once again furiously types away on the laptop. Once I’m convinced that he’s engrossed in his activity, I slow slide off the bed and make a hasty exit. I quickly run back to the my favourite  place in the house - the kitchen, and look around at the kitchen counter for something interesting. After a quick scan, my eyes settle on a cylindrical glass container, that I've seen Ma use plenty of times. "There must be something interesting in it" I think to myself. Alas it’s a bit further away from the edge of the counter. Never one to step away from a challenge, I pop back in to the hall where I manage to get hold of a stool that Ma sometimes sits on. From experience, I know it’s pretty light and something that I can move easily. I slowly push the stool towards the kitchen counter, and climb on it. As I grab hold of the container, Pa shouts out my name, causing me to drop the container in fear. Needless to say, the container cracks into many different pieces and I look around in shock, only to discover Pa staring at me. If he was a cartoon character, I am sure at this point I would see fumes come out of his ears and his nostrils breathe fire. (I think I may have been watching too many dragon cartoons). As Pa comes over to pick me up, the door bell rings. Quickly grabbing hold of me, he runs to the door. It’s Ma. However one look at Pa’s face, and her smile vanishes. “What did he do now?” she enquires pointing at me.

Papa shrugs his shoulder, points to the kitchen and says “Oh, the usual!"


M for Mischief - Part 1

happy-baby-flower-cartoon-24909807.jpg

I am woken up, not by the cooing sounds of the neighbourhood birds or the tooting of the chugging train from the nearby railway station. Instead, unlike a lot of you unluckily people, I am fortunate enough to be woken up by a melodious rendition of “The Circle of Life” from my dad's phone. “Oh, my eyes feel like they’ve been sealed shut” I think to myself as I try and peer through them. My ma’s beautiful face sports a smile as she sings along with the artiste and chorus. I give her a sleepy smile and extend my hands outwards asking her to pick me up, which she does promptly. In a matter of minutes, I find myself being stood at the edge of the oval-shaped washbasin and listening to what I am led to believe is a part of a famous nursery rhyme. When my ma coos “…this is the way we brush our teeth…brush our teeth…” I automatically display my teeth and say “eeeeeee…..” so that she can brush them. When I eventually do get tired, I spit out all the white foam, that I’ve been told helps keep all the germs at bay. After a quick rinse of my mouth, I find my pyjamas being yanked and my pee-laden diaper being stripped off. I am placed on my “potty-throne” and asked to do my business. But no, ma doesn’t leave me alone. She talks to me constantly, all through whilst I’m on the “hot seat”. And I listen, with a smile of course.  As she continues to talk, without her noticing, I slowly extend my hand and grab hold of the spare tooth brush that my mom often uses to clean her earrings. Smiling innocently, I attempt to drop the brush through the gap between my “throne” and my thighs. "Nooooooo……!” screams Ma and springs forward. She manages to get hold of the tip of the brush before it disappears along with my “poo-poo”.

After being gifted a rather stern look, my soft behind is neatly washed and dried. As Ma fills up the bucket with warm water to give me a bath, I carefully sneak out to my nursery and get a handful of my toys to play with. I walk back to the bathroom with a plan to check if the rubber duck will float in the large oval shaped contraption, where I just went poo poo. Unsurprisingly, there is now a lid on it. Dejected, I throw my toys on the floor. Ma picks me up and places me on my “shower-seat” and starts the tedious process of cleaning me up.(Which by the way, I have never understood. Why take so much of pain to clean me up, when I am just going to get dirty again. Waste of time, if you ask me.) After my warm bath, I am given a nice pat down with a dry towel, and dressed up to go to school.

Pa enters through the main door, tired from his morning jog. I run towards him and ask him to pick me up. He refuses point blank and just collapses on the floor, a long red cable running all the way from the pocket of his shorts to both his ears. I am not sure what it is exactly, but I know it plays music. And I like music. I like to shake that “tooh”. I climb on top of him and sit on his stomach, which is hands-down the most comfortable seat in the house. During this period, Ma manages to get my breakfast ready and approaches me cautiously. Hearing her approach, I leap off Pa and run around to the sofa. Ma chases me around with a bowl full of this sweet, sticky, yet unappetising mixture of fruits and milk. This continues for about thirty minutes till the bowl is finally empty. But not all of it has been consumed by me. Half the mixture has been stuffed into my mouth, a quarter of the mixture is on the floor and the remaining is on the sofa and other furniture pieces around the house. Letting out a deep sigh, Ma wipes my face and removes the plastic bib from around my neck. I flash her my sweetest smile, as I stamp my feet on a puddle of this sticky mixture. “Sid, take him away, please !” says Ma through clenched teeth as she hastily cleans up the base of my shoe.

Pa carries me up to the lift and we slowly travel down to the ground floor. En route, we meet a lot of interesting people -  the grandpa from the sixth floor who is always smiling at me, the aunty with her huge handbag which could very well be my next hiding spot and the uncle who hands me a chocolate bar, which my Pa quickly pockets. Downstairs, my school van is waiting, and we rush towards it. As we approach, the door opens and my regular “aaya” smiles at me. Pa hands me over and shuts the door. He waves me good bye. I flash him a really toothy smile and wave good bye with the chocolate bar that I successfully retrieved from his back pocket.

Play-school is a fun affair. Four hours of fun and games with lots of singing and dancing. And then of course sleeping. This is yet another thing that I don’t get. I guess Pa and Ma sends me off to school so that they can get some peace and quiet. They probably hope that by the time I get back from school, I am really tired and I would just want to sleep. But that’s where they are wrong. I am growing up now, so I sleep less. And after all the excitement of school, I hardly want to sleep. But I do take a nap in the van on my journey back home. As we enter the apartment enclave, I see Pa waiting for me in front of the building. He is busy tapping away on his phone. You know, one of these days, I am going to try and throw that from the balcony. He is always busy on the phone. As Pa picks up my bag, I run into the building and say “tata” to the lovely security lady who sits at our reception. I run up to the lift and press the button. Pa hates it that I am now tall enough to reach the lift buttons. As we reach our flat, Ma joins us from her office for lunch. I’ve already eaten at school, so I just run around looking for ideas as to how I can mess up the house that the maid has just cleaned.

Whilst Pa and Ma have their lunch, I sit quietly watching TV along with them. After all, I think they deserve to get some energy in them, considering that I am soon about to make their life a bit more entertaining. Ma changes my diaper and leaves soon after. To an innocent bystander, it  might appear that I’m waving her “tata”. But the truth is that I am secretly plotting my next adventure. As Pa works from home, after a few minutes of playing with me, he soon returns to his online world. I don’t know what he does, but he is always furiously typing away. I decide to give him some “him-time” before I intervene. So I entertain myself for the next half hour or so, picking up all my toys, throwing them around and figuring out how to open them up.Thats when I spot my new best friend, lying all alone, in a corner under the cupboard. I slowly crawl under the cupboard and retrieve a closed ball-point pen. Popping the cap open, I look around to find a blank  canvas to display my artwork. I decide that the best place would be the recently painted walls and commence work on my piece of art. After a while, probably having realised that I had been unusually quiet, Pa comes searching for me. His jaw drops on sight of my “amazing” squiggly lined art work. Screaming my name out loud, he lunges at me trying to grab hold of the pen. Giggling, I jump on the bed and disappear into my tent filled with plastic balls.

With a sigh, Pa gets a cloth and a mug filled with water to try and wipe my artwork off the wall. Muttering a series of words under this breath, he sits on the small stool and starts cleaning the walls. I cautiously make my way across to where he sits and dip my tiny hands into the mug. In my desperation to free my hands before Pa notices, I trip the mug and out goes the water gushing all over the floor. Cursing, this time not under his breath, Pa hurries in to the kitchen balcony to get the mop. (I can’t understand this fixation that grown-ups have with a bit of water needing to be cleaned up promptly. I see them flocking to swimming pools and beaches, yet a tiny bit of water on the floor, and all hell breaks loose)  As he goes about cleaning this small pool of water, I walk out from my nursery and into the bedroom. His empty seat beckons me. Recently, Pa raised the height of the table, and I’m no longer able to reach the keyboard even on my tiptoes. But now that I can climb chairs, only very few things are out of my reach.

When Pa comes back to the room in few minutes, he discovers me busy at work on his keyboard, typing away furiously. Hollering my name, Pa rushes to the table. As I braze myself for a tight whack on my behind, all I hear is a loud whimper. I open my eyes to find Pa sprawled on the bed, clutching his ankle. I suddenly feel sad for him and flash him one of my cheekiest smiles. However instead of smiling at me, he glares at me. For a minute, I almost feel that he thinks I caused his accident. But then, my attention is quickly captured by a series of loud pings from his laptop. And then, the faces of two lovely ladies and a handsome cartoon man pops up. Before I can admire them any longer, Pa picks me off the chair and places me roughly on the floor. But not before I manage to nick his mouse. As he sits there frantically looking for it, I casually stroll out to the living room dragging the mouse behind me.

To be continued - I know, you hate being left hanging. But read part two of my mischievous escapades tomorrow. 

Sleeping with the enemy

person_sleeping.png

The luminous digital bedside clock says 01:00. I know, because I’m wide away nursing my right cheek bone with ice. "Oh, that’s going to be one heck of a bruise" I think to myself. Without making a sound, I turn around and glare at the culprit. He’s sprawled on his back, his arms folded behind his head as if he’s lying on beach chair in Hawaii. His legs are still twitching, probably as the result of the after-shock from having connected with my now bruised cheek. I glare at him, almost willing him to go for Round Two. Oblivious to my taunts, a slow whistle escapes his parted lips. I sigh, and get back into bed, contorting my body into weird angles, and try to catch a quick nap before the next attack. Welcome to Parenthood! Oh, and not to mention, the joys and tortures of co-sleeping with your baby. Now, just to make sure we don’t go off in a tangent and start to argue about whether or not co-sleeping is good for your child, let me put a huge disclaimer. I neither advocate nor condemn co-sleeping. Enough and more research has been done on the topic and there are two explicit sides to this argument. As for us, we’ve tried both, and due to a lot health-related concerns, we decided to stick it out with co-sleeping. Atleast for now. But the way things are going, that’s bound to change soon.

Co-sleeping with your kids, especially a toddler, is an art. And along with millions of other parents, I demand that it be recognised as one. To really understand what I’m talking about, you must have slept with the enemy, which ironically in this case, is your beloved off-spring. There are a number of positions that “the enemy” adopts to make sure he/she (or god bless you - THEY) can inflict maximum discomfort whilst they themselves enjoy this little game, so to speak. Of course, keeping with the “law of individuality”, each of them may have different preferences for warfare methodologies. And they change. As they grow, it gets worse before it gets better. So have some sympathy for us parents who due to reasons that cannot be revealed, have no other option, apart from to co-sleep with the enemy.

 

Mine, for example, started off with the “I don’t care about you” phase, where he’d just lie in a corner and not move around at all. To be honest, this was bliss. We were just less than a year into our parenthood at that point, and hence most of our information was gathered from the internet and parenting books. And not one of them mentioned this phase. Needless to say, that was the end of the “parenting by the book” phase for us. And as a new parent, I would find myself getting up frequently in the middle of the night, just to make sure he was breathing, and wonder to myself why he wasn’t moving around as they said in the books. Well, that lasted for approximately 4 weeks. You’d have thought we managed to get some sleep then, right? Oh no, we were still disturbed every now and then, for the feed.

 

That phase soon stopped and gave way to the “If you’re not coming to bed with me, then you have no space here” phase. Strangely enough this ultimatum did not come from my wife, but from my 12 month old son. I’m often the last person to go to sleep in my family. So by the time, I eventually make my way to the bed, I’m dead tired. Having to partake in a power struggle to reclaim my side of the bed was not something I was prepared to indulge in. So as parents do, well most of the time anyway, I quickly gave up my “night-time endeavours” (not what you think!) and joined the family in bed before it was too late. But here’s the part I still don’t understand. How can someone so small, take up so much of space? It truly defies all known laws.

 

But the troubles didn’t end there. Now that I was going to bed around the same time as him, he needed to up the game a bit. What’s more, we re-arranged the bed in such a way that one of the sides of the bed was adjacent to the wall. And then we shifted him to one of the corners which was brilliant in a lot of ways. For me, anyway. It meant that not only could I lie next to my wife (stop smirking!), I was completely away from him. But as some bright and intelligent person once said, never put doing the impossible past a kid, especially toddler.

 

Since then, we’ve been through :

 

  • the “Bridge” phase, where he lies horizontally between my wife and me, effectively shutting us away;
  • the “Over the face” phase, where he lies over my face/neck, sometimes drooling all over my neck, other times, just suffocating me;
  • the “I like your hair in my mouth” phase, where he twirls the strands of my wife's hair with his little fingers and then shoves it into his mouth; Fortunately I escaped this phase.
  • the “I’ve got my eyes on you” phase, where he suddenly sits up in the middle of night, and observes you like a hunter stalking his prey; Trust me, it really freaks you out if you happen to get up and see this.

And now we’re currently in the “inverted phase”, where somehow he invariably ends up lying in a direction opposite to us, so his feet are “scarily close” to our faces. "How bad could it be?" I hear you ask. This phase also incorporates the “Ninja phase” as we call it, where he feels compelled by some un-seen force to throw some savage kicks, which unfailingly always finds its mark - me.

As the clock nears the bewitching hour, I better wrap this post up, eat my dinner and rush to bed before I lose my spot. I guess Charles Darwin knew what he was saying when he said  “It is not the strongest nor the most intelligent of the species that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change”. He was obviously a parent :)

The "IT" factor

george-clooney-wallpaper-1024x819.jpg

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present the versatile, the handsome, the quintessential ladies' (and some men’s) man - Two times Academy Award winner, three times Golden Globe Award winner, two times People’s sexiest man alive winner (almost 10 years apart that too) - George Clooney.

george-clooney-wallpaper-1024x819

(*clap clap* Really? That’s the best you can do? No standing ovation? Shame on you people !)

Ok, so I haven’t really got George Clooney on my blog. Do you really think I’d be sitting here and writing for a living if I did? Well, writing maybe, more like Hollywood scripts. But more on that later. No, this post is more of my musing on why women (ok, I generalise, some women, make that most women) think George Clooney has got "IT".

 

Now, let me put up a couple of disclaimers here: This post is just the result of some social research conducted by yours truly, along with some help from "Mr.Google". And it’s just my opinion. You may choose to agree with it, or dish it if you want. I just mean for this to be a fun post and hope you enjoy reading it. Oh, and yeah, I’ve got nothing against the man. I think he’s a brilliant actor/director/producer/screenwriter and humanitarian. So let’s jump in shall we?

 

Some of you may remember this, because of my recent Facebook status message. The question was  “Why do women go gaga over George Clooney?” which included an amazing little snapshot of the man, which really made some women (including happily married ones) go kind of weak at the knees. No, I’m not being judgemental. It wasn’t really just what is often categorised as sex appeal; there is something more about the man that causes women to sit up and take notice. Even women who don’t know who he is (yes, apparently they exist).

 

Look at him - he is healthy and fit, but without the six-packs that seem to go hand in hand with almost every Hollywood heartthrob; he has, almost single-handedly, helped make salt-and-pepper hair fashionable, in an age where even the Superstars (especially Indian ones) resort to hair-dyes and the likes; and in an age where Botox injections are the norm, he is someone who never takes the extra effort to hide the lines on his forehead, the bags under his eyes or the laugh lines around his eyes. So yes, along with every other man, (and before you ask, we've all wondered about it. Some men just wont agree to it) I’ve often wondered, what is this “IT” that women say he’s got?

 

Yes, he’s improbably handsome, is famous and has a big bank account. But so do a lot of other big names. And after some interesting research (I know, I’m a tad curious occasionally), here’s what I think Mr. Clooney’s “IT” factor is. No - stop smiling now. It's not that. Actually it’s a combination of traits that makes him appear attractive.

Personality & Physical traits

george-clooney-hot-imageThough he’s been referred to as “sexy” a few times, GC (yes, that’s what he’ll be referred to as hence forth on this post) is more frequently described as stylish, charismatic, suave and friendly. If you look at any of the characters he’s played (even the more serious ones) or any of his interviews or even his award speeches, there is just one in a billion chance that you’d think he’s arrogant or snooty. He comes across as a charming person (might not be true, but he exudes that friendly persona well).

He’s extremely fit (once again, not the artificial six-pack kind of fit, but healthy fit) at 52, when most of us (me included) haven't been in that kind of shape since our twenties. His “dreamy eyes” (that was quoted by some of the women I spoke to, I have no idea what dreamy eyes are) have been described as both insightful and intense. A big part of his appeal is that he has this kind of bad-boy image with good guy looks. He is cheeky funny with the ability to be serious. Ok, I’m going to stop with the traits there, before I feel like I should jump off a cliff for having none of those traits.

Monotone Vocal characteristics

Whilst most women haven’t mentioned this, GC’s monotone voice plays an extremely huge part in his appeal with women. And there’s now scientific research to prove that. A study that was carried out at universities in California and Pennsylvania actually found that men whose frequency of voice varied the least reported the most …well…sexual relationships. And this goes hand in hand with the language they used, which when combined with their monotone voice indicated signs of being in control of a situation, more independence and dominance, in a good way of course. So for those men who’ve been blessed with monotone and controlled voices, do not despair or worry that you’ll send your partners or spouses to sleep with your controlled tones - one of the world’s most desirable men is the ultimate Monotone man.

Still not convinced - just watch these clips “What’s in your backpack?” from his movie “Up in the Air”. If you actually read it, it’s pretty dry and you may miss the whole point. But somehow GC, with his brilliant monotone voice makes you see the picture. And you’ll realise the impact of what I said. So turn up the volume and if you can take your eye off this brilliant action, close them and listen.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zqhiv64E_fQ

Scandal-less

By celebrity standards, GC is someone whose name is almost never heard being dragged through the mud. Yet, he’s in the news for all the right reasons. Yes, he’s probably had his share of “remarks” but for someone who is talked about as much a he is, GC has done remarkably well to keep his private life…well private. And that is one of the things that makes him really appealing to the opposite sex

Sense of Humor

clooney0508This is a tricky one. Humor is one of the first things that most women look for in a men. Don’t ask me why. I’m just stating the obvious answer to the question that has been thrown at women - celebs and non-celebs alike - “What do you look for in a man?”.

The irony is that humor alone will not get anyone through a relationship. It might help make in-roads, but it’s quite rare that it lasts. The key is to be witty. If you have the ability to think on your feet, not take yourself too seriously and make light of situations, it can often get you out of a lot of things. GC’s self depreciating humor is quite endearing. If you watch any of his interviews, you’ll notice that he uses his humor to effortlessly side step any of those unwanted questions that he doesn’t want to answer. And yet, the host or the interviewer is not offended in anyway. Now, that takes almost a lifetime to perfect, and just adds to his overall appeal. And his almost (might I add freakishly) perfect teeth doesn’t hurt either.Another way that he manages to balance out his humor is that he has the ability to make fun of himself as well as those around him.

Acts his age

george-clooney1Once again, in todays age, when people do everything in their power to try and retain their youth for as long as possible, GC comes across as someone who has never been afraid of his age. Actually, most people know him as the guy with salt-and-pepper hair. As one of the ladies I spoke to artfully put it, “He’s embraced his middle-age so gracefully. He’s not so young to be out of anyone’s league, and not that old to be undesirable”. He comes across as someone who is confident about his age and experience, and women seem to admire that in him. Here's an excerpt from one of his interviews in Playboy magazine - “You don't want to try to look younger because you’ll look wrong. You dye your hair, you look wrong. You wear a bad toupee, you look wrong. You wear makeup to hide things, you get your eyes done, you look wrong.”

And you know what, it’s worked brilliantly for him.

Impeccable Sense of Dressing

george-clooney-styleI don’t think a lot of us (including men) will argue against this point. GC is one of the most well-dressed celebrities around. And of course it doesn’t hurt that he looks brilliant in a tux or a suit. Though I’m no fashion expert, his general dressing sense is kind of the right mix of classic and modern, which goes well with his almost consistent hair-do.  And this is about a good time for me to remind you of something that I’d mentioned in one of my posts : Women are more attracted to men who take the time to groom themselves and dress well (Ref: Interpreting women - Guest post for Rekha Nair Dhyani) And as GC shows, grooming doesn’t always mean a trendy hair cut or that expensive suit; you could look just as presentable in black tee and denim jeans, provided you pay attention to the little details such as washing, ironing and general hygiene. But you’ve got to admit - the man looks pretty stylish even in a pair of shorts and a shirt.

Integrity

George Clooney is someone who has time and again spoken out on a number of political and social causes. And somehow he always diverts the media’s attention onto the actual situation. Typically in these cases, when celebrities try to be good-will ambassadors, they’re in the news a lot. However with GC, despite the media coverage that surrounds his humanitarian work, he almost never lets the story become about him. When he was awarded the Bob Hope Humanitarian award in 2010 for his work in Dafur and exceptional efforts to mobilize the entertainment industry in service during crises. He signed off his acceptance speech with the following statement:

061“ It's important to remember how much good can get done, because we live in such strange times where bad behavior sucks up all the attention and press. And the people who really need the spotlight: the Haitians, the Sudanese, people in the Gulf Coast.. Pakistan, they can't get any. When the disaster happens, everybody wants to help, everybody in this room wants to help, everybody at home wants to help. The hard part is seven months later, five years later, when we're on to a new story.
Honestly, we fail at that, most of the time. That's the fact. I fail at that.
So here's hoping that some very bright person right here in the room or at home watching can help find a way to keep the spotlight burning on these heartbreaking situations that continue to be heartbreaking long after the cameras go away. That would be an impressive accomplishment. 
Thank you."

Now, that shows a humanitarian with integrity. And that’s part of what makes GC the man he is I suppose.

_______________________________________________________________

In a nutshell, it's George Clooney's overall persona that makes him appealing. But my dear fellow men - Stop! Before you run off and get under the surgeon's knife in an attempt to look like him, remember this.

You don’t have to be Clooney, or look like him, to be just as appealing. It’s the qualities that he possesses that add to his appeal, and these are all qualities that can be a part of who you are as well. So the next time you notice a woman go gaga about a guy, instead of shying away or getting offended about it (well, maybe you can be a little bit), observe and take notice. It's not just looks that make men appealing to women. If that was the case I would still be single.

Oh! And I'm not saying everyone can be a George Clooney. I'm merely saying that he has certain traits that we can definitely inculcate in ourselves, should you find the need to.

Of course I’m not touching on his playboy-ish side on purpose. But then I suppose he knows what he wants. And you can’t really blame a man (or woman) for that. So as parting comment, I’ll say this. Just take this post in your stride. Feel free to just ignore everything or don’t even leave a comment if you don’t want. And of course, if you don't like George Clooney, a small insignificant article like this is not going to change that. So each one to their own :)

Though If I don’t see a comment on the post, I know just the reason why - it’s because I have pictures of Mr. Clooney plastered all over the page.

*All images and excerpts sourced from Google Images & Google Search respectively

BlogAdda Tangy Tuesday pick - 28th Jan 2014

Take Two - The cat and the tot

ghemotoace-par-pisica.jpg

I’m going to start this post with a confession. This has been the toughest prompts that I’ve had to tackle. But then again, it could have been because of the sheer randomness (or eerie similarity) of the two “objects” that I captured. So one lovely morning, armed with my cellphone, I walked out of my flat and into the open world. The objective was simple - capture the first thing that I saw. Since I stay in a gated community, most of the things I’d see if I walked out of my flat would be uninteresting things like buildings, buildings and more buildings. So instead I decided to capture the first thing that I walked out of the building.

The optimist in me was secretly hoping that it’s be something nice like green grass or beautiful flowers. So you can imagine discontent when the first thing I spotted was a cat preening itself right at the entrance to our building. Now by the time I got my state-of-the-art smartphone to unlock itself and get the camera ready, all I was left with was a few pieces of cat whiskers and fur. The cat was no where to be found. So instead here’s a picture of a similar cat from the internet. We’ll have to make do with that for now.

ghemotoace-par-pisica Though not extremely fond of cats, I was relatively upbeat. After all, I could write about cats. Grinning happily, I took the lift back to my flat. The wife and son were fast asleep when I’d departed for my morning photographic endeavour. As I opened the door, I looked downstairs and saw our door mat on which the word “Welcome” was neatly engraved. "That’s the first thing I saw. The next thing I see better be something I can write about” I thought to myself as I shut the door behind me.

20140110_193506Suddenly I saw a blur of white rushing towards me. I looked down and saw my son hugging my right leg tightly, still dressed in his fancy white pyjamas. “Great” I thought again. “I can definitely write about my little one”.

And then the actual prompt dawns on me. I was meant to link these two random objects together. “This could get ugly” I thought to myself, as I captured my son’s photo. After almost a whole day’s pondering over how I could potentially weave a post that included a cat and my lovely son with the same ink, I had come up with zilch. That’s when my wife stepped in. And opened up my world to the uncanny similarities between the cats and young kids, especially toddlers. So with that in mind, and lots of gratitude to my lovely wife, here are a few apparent ones.

Demand & cuddles: This one’s so obvious that I am wondering myself why I hadn’t noticed this before. Probably because I don’t own a cat. But both kids and cats demand their cuddles. And sometimes a tummy rub too. Forget kids, even I need a tummy rub too somedays, but the wife refuses. Ok, that’s another blog post. Both cats and toddlers love to be cuddled, petted and tickled under the chin. They know how to get your attention when they want it, and simply refuse to wait for it. At the same time, they’re rarely always in the mood for cuddles. Cuddles are to be given at their convenience and not the other way around.

They are forever curious and exploring Have you ever seen pictures of “that cat who stuck its head down the toilet” or “kid who got his head got stuck in the trashcan” floating about on the internet? Well believe it. I’ve seen it both happen. Both of them are known to be inherently curious and you often find themselves in rather sticky situations because of this. They love to investigate anything and everything.

Following you Another similarity between these sly felines and the little munchkins are they love to follow you around. Though not always, this phrase holds good most especially when you need to use the bathroom. Regardless of whatever you may be doing, they will attempt to come in. If you, by some fortunate timing, manage to shut the door, you will never escape the wailing and the thumping/ scratching against the door.  Sometimes it almost makes you feel like you’re a rockstar and they are your groupies.

The case of the missing objects If something small is mysteriously missing, there’s a very good chance that one of them probably took it. Of course asking them isn’t going to really yield much in way of information. The solution - check their mouth first. You’ll probably find it in there.

Super-regenerative nails (or claws) I’m not sure if it’s something they eat or if it’s some sort of hormonal activity going on, but a toddler’s nails seem to grow at alarming rates. And the worrying thing is that they’re often not afraid to use it, just like cats.

Toys Both toddlers and cats have their favourite toys and they slobber all over it. Further more all their toys make their presence felt everywhere. Talking about which, you can buy them all the expensive gifts you want, but they’ll find something as simple as a cardboard box more interesting. And yes strings, cat’s love to chase them; toddlers love to put them in their mouth.

Food Both cats and toddlers are really picky about what they eat. Even if you make or give them something they’ve gulped down on previous occasions, there are days when they sniff/look at the plate and then glance back at you as if to say “Really? That’s it?”. Talking about food, here’s another similarity. Both of them need to know what is it that you’re eating that they are not.  And very often, they’ll want it too. Here’s another one. No matter how many times you tell them not to play with their food, they will do it.

Naps Another one of those obvious things that you wonder why you never noticed. Both of them can be so active at one point and can fall asleep suddenly and in the oddest of places. Ironically in spite of probably being the smallest living beings at home, they take up the most space in bed.

Climbers If there is anything that can be climbed onto in your house, both your cat and toddler will have climbed then. Be it the chair, the sofa, the counter or even the dining table.

Your kind of people And here’s the final one. People who don’t have them (both young kids or cats) look at you in a very different way. It takes a fellow cat-person or a fellow parent to understand the trials and tribulations of having either one of them (or in some case (Bless them!) both of these)

Come to think of it, now that I have a toddler already, maybe it is time to get a dog.

Oh, and a disclaimer : No cats or toddlers were harmed for or during writing of this post.

[This post is written for the Project 365 program at We Post Daily aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. The prompt for today was "Take two - Run outside. Take a picture of the first thing you see. Run inside. Take a picture of the second thing you see. Write about the connection between these two random objects, people, or scenes. "]