Saturday, July 25

Reviews of Momhood and everything else

Hello pretty (and patient) people!

Been over three months since my last post, and Aarush is growing up at a crazy pace. 

I have barely a moment to spare, what with the home, office and family taking up all my time and energy. 

I wonder how other moms do it. Other moms are wondering how I do it. But the fact of the matter is, I am cracking up with all the stress. Motherhood is not for the faint of heart, body and mind - let me warn you that. It's a hell lot of sacrifice, personal and professional, mental and physical. You will go insane and one look at your kiddo will wipe the frustration away. You will praise him to the skies, and he will prove just how mistaken you are. Totally unpredictable, these li'l angels (or monsters, depending on what day it is).

Yet it's a fine day, and we shall talk about good things. 

Aarush is a darling. Here is a picture of him. Do bless him, won't you?! 

Can't believe it's been more than 8 months since this little munchkin came into the world making me a mother. I wish I could say a responsible, loving and patient mom... But I miss that mark by a huge margin. He has fallen off the bed umpteen times in my presence, I often find myself losing my temper on him and others, and there are times I wish I could run away from it all and just sleep or read or do nothing in particular. However, at the end of the day, I always find myself blessed to have this darling in my life who loves and wants me unconditionally and completely. 

Such a rare thing in this world. 

He's bursting with energy, and is constantly crawling or on his feet, trying to walk. (Thinking if his pseudonym ought to be "Duracell".) His curiosity and intelligence have me dumbfounded and I get overwhelmed when I see his sparkling eyes and adorable smile. Neither his father nor I are that good-looking; wonder where he got his handsomeness from. 

From heavens up above, I guess. 

Becoming a mother stifles conversation coz all the mom thinks and talks about is her lil bub, so let me alter the topic and not bore you lovely folks. I've been doing quite a few things and I owe you a few reviews.

First and foremost, if you haven't watched Baahubali, you're missing something. It's possibly the best movie I've seen in ages and there was not one dull moment in the movie otherwise void of superstars and fancy titles. The hero Prabhas makes the men and women drool, what with those rugged looks and muscular physique, while the graphics hold you mesmerized. The women play strong roles too, in a plot that is not 100% original but creative and interesting nevertheless. 

*** spoiler alert ***

Some scenes are absolutely mindblowing. Like the one where Prabhas' Rudraksh armlet breaks as he flexes his bisceps, and the one where Katappa places Baahubali's foot on his forehead as well as the one where a headless body walks a few steps into the dusk.

You can look up some amazing trivia about the film online, but all a layman like me can tell you is that the movie is something you just cannot skip, even if you aren't a movie buff. It is so well made and well told, that everyone young and old will enjoy it.

And I cannot say that about Bajrangi Bhaijaan that so many Salman fans are applauding. Yours truly is a Shahrukh fan, but of late, I'd started liking Salman for his style and charisma. I was quite entertained in Dabangg and Kick, but BB was a dud for me. Maybe coz I'd watched Bahubali before, and had a benchmark in place. Either way, the music, story and acting, nothing really made a mark. The little girl is cute, no doubt, but surely a super duper hit movie ought to boast of a tad more.

Who shall explain that to Salman deewanas?

I tried... But never mind.

Want to watch Inside Out and Minions, but not sure when and how, what with commitments at work, home and family. Will definitely tell ya if and when I manage to sneak them into my schedule. Right now, I just about get to watch recorded videos of Splitsvilla 8 on MTV - hideous bunch of youngsters this time apart from Prince and Utkarsh. Oggling at Rannvijay is all that keeps me motivated.

And moving on. Books. Did you know: There is a special term for the act of buying books and then leaving them unread - Tsundoku. Having committed this heinous act, inadvertently of course, I decided to set things in order and sincerely finished Chetan Bhagat's Half Girlfriend, something I bought in impulse (not a CB fan, you see) but fortunately didn't regret. I find his books appeal more to the Indian youth who do not pass off as real readers but folks who ache to share reading as one of their hobbies.

Well, that's quite an achievement CB, so no offence. Plus remarkable movies have been made on 2 of your books, so nothing I yap will take away your success. However, I confess I was pleasantly surprised when you decided not to kill the heroine in your 0.5 GF story, would've been too darned predictable. Although, I would've liked it more with a more realistic end where Madhav Jha doesn't get to meet Riya at the end. Yeah yeah, I know that would not go down well with the majority of your optimistic, romantic audience. Yet my twopence. Not a bad read at all. Well done.

I am now on Kavita Kane's Karna's Wife. A couple of pages down, and I'm impressed already with this Puneite author's vocabulary and writing prowess. Don't know if the credit goes to thesaurus or fancy editing, but good job and a good change for sure from the regular, repetitive 100-word vocabularies in most novels. I understand this book is fiction, but I am very excited to see how it unfolds. So far so good.

And have I told you about our favorite Ambience hotel in Model colony? I went there for my birthday on the 23rd and we ordered sizzlers (without sizzle or taste). I've been there a zillion times and we love the food there, but I advise you to give the sizzlers and desserts a miss and go for the starters and main course in Indian, Mexican and Italian instead.

What else? Well, in a nutshell, here is it all...

Sujata Mastani is yum, and so are Marvel cakes from Kharadi. German Bakery Wunderbar has decent service and food. Garnier, Loreal and Olay products don't seem to be doing this momma any good. I am a regular patron of Ola cabs, but their cabs and services are deteriorating in terms of quality and dependability. Ought to say the same about Autowale. Uber is a tad expensive but reliable. And you might as well avoid the fake multiplexes in Pune like Rahul, Mangala, Neelayam cos they charge almost the same as the rest, but have poor quality public, popcorn, screens and seats.

And on that note, I say good night. Got to take my tiny tot to a Healthy and Active baby contest tomorrow and don't want to be thrown out coz mom didn't look energetic and fresh herself thereby disqualifying the kiddo.

Muahh ya'all. Sleep tight. Snuggle in the covers with your loved one and dream away.



Wednesday, April 15

Happy 5 month birthday Aarush!

Dear Aarush,

You're 5 months old and you've undisputedly made my life 5 times as lovely, 5 times as busy, 5 times as optimistic and 5 times as tough.

Okay I'm kidding, you don't really break my back so often but when you're at your cranky best, I suddenly forget just how rosy life is with you in it. Pardon my candor, I do hope in time that will be one of the things you learn to appreciate and accept about your mother.

I'm a mother. Gosh! That's so hard to believe. 

There are a hundred stories that I'd like to share with you when you're a little more grown up. Like the day just before you were born and my gynaec, at the periodic checkup, suddenly sprung on me that you were due in 24 hours. All this while I'd been expecting you and suddenly I felt so unprepared! 

And about how your dad fed you milk right from a katori when you were hardly a few days old and bawling with hunger. 

Or about how sad and sorry and helpless I felt when you used to cry your lungs out due to colic. No medicine helped, and we tried various nuske that failed. And then, I started wearing you in a saree and going for a walk, and you seemed to like that. But of course, by then you were more active and the gases weren't bothering you as much. 

And how much my hands ached coz of DeQuervain's and I could not even lift you without yelping in pain. 
However this post is not to recount all those few zillion tales that have made motherhood a special phase in my life. (For the good reasons, and the not so good ones too!)

Rather, it is to thank you for being such an adorable cutie and also to share some memorable trivia that I don't want you to lose out on courtesy our bad memories.

The first time I heard you, you were taken out of my tummy and the doc said "It's a boy". 

Duh, we already knew! 

No, we did not get your sex determined when we were at Thailand (though your dad did suggest it). In my heart, I always knew you were going to be my son and I nicknamed you accordingly.

Tears rolled down my cheeks when you were shown to me and I took a second to digest the fact that I was now a mother. 

The first few days in the hospital were quite tedious as you and I got used to each other, and your jaundice made it all the more difficult. I had to take some tough decisions as a mom, but you stood by me and proved me right. Thank you, honey. I will always stand by you, too. 

Everybody said you looked like your father and I hated them for it. Why couldn't you resemble me? After all the ways I took care of you, you might as well have taken after me! And yet, I gaze at you and you stare back at me with those sparkling eyes and dazzling smile, and I don't care who you look like. All that matters is, you're the prettiest thing I've set eyes upon and I love you more than my own life.

When I look at you now, I find it hard to imagine where all that time has flown when you wouldn't sleep all night and I'd hate it when someone gave me hefty philosophies about the joys of mommyhood. I lost my temper more than a few times in the first month or two, but not once did your adoration for me dwindle. You always wanted me close and that means so much to an emotional fool like me. Everyone can see the unique way you look at me, and it sets my heart a-flutter. Thank you, my child for making me feel like God. 

Each day I get to know you better, and I find myself more confident as tend to you and your needs. You are a smart kid, and you convey what you want or dislike with surprising genius. I can hardly wait to see how intelligent you become when you enter teenage and youth. My blessings are forever with you, and I will try my best to set you up for success in all possible ways. That's a promise. And a promise that has already begun. Be it in stimulating your senses or trying to communicate with you - we're well on our way, baby!

You love music. And why not! At the hospital, your dad and I held you and danced as we sang "Jaane jaa dhoondta fir raha" to calm you when you were weeping. And to think, your dad never dances! But he did move around, and that was good enough.  

How annoyed we felt when anybody said you had no/less hair! 
(Though now, I do agree. But nobody else dare say that!)

Such a beautiful thing it is, your laughter, when you feel ticklish or when you enjoy a particularly rowdy game!

Your adorable smile, your cooing and gurgling, the day you turned over and so many more pretty firsts! 

Each time we visited your paed, I was excited to see that you were well above average in terms of both height and weight as per the growth charts. I felt so heartened that I was doing well as a mother. Thanks a million times for making me feel adequate and complete.

I underwent immense pressure to give you formula and other foods but I remained firm and yet again, you were by my side, topping the charts and proving me right. Thanks a ton, sweetheart! We start solids with you in a few weeks, and then everyone can feed you all they want without having to verbally (and physically) wrestle with me. 

Everybody who saw you admired your beauty and energy. Some days you were cranky, and other days I felt like the luckiest mom on earth coz bringing you up was such a breeze. 

In time, we realised you loved "Ek charraiya" as a lullaby and you were fond of being outdoors, be it going for short drives or long walks. 

It's fun to watch you play with your Naani, and talk to Sangeeta bai. You're not so much at ease with most people, and want me to carry and hold you all the time. Quite a task, my healthy baby boy. You're growing each day, and every day I notice something new about you. 

We're not the only ones teaching you stuff, I'm learning from you, too. Trust, when you fall asleep in my arms, certain that I won't let you fall. Curiosity, the way you look at the simplest things in amazement and wonder. Openness and acceptance, the way you grin at random strangers and steal their heart. Care-a-damn confidence, when you behave the way you please, fart when you wish and wet the sheets without bothering what people will think. Patience, when you refuse to stop crying even for a second and I need to drop everything else, control my temper and figure out what will pacify you. Resourcefulness and creativity, to keep you engaged (and distracted). Parenthood is a Ph.D in itself.

And that's not all...

Liveliness, the way you don't stay put and quiet even for a minute, flipping over the moment you are placed on your back. Speed, given that I can now do most things in 30 seconds or less, which is all I have before you realise I'm not in the same room. Superstitiousness, each time you behave unusually difficult and cranky. Confusion, coz I wish you'd sleep when you're awake and when you're sleeping, I miss your chatter and bustle. True love, when you want only me even though I'm mad at you for soiling my bedsheet or behaving difficult. Religiousness, the way you love and calm down when you hear mantras and observe worship. Sensitivity, since I need to pick your obvious and not so obvious cues so as to ease your pain and end what's bothering you.

Our first trip together was to your Mama's place in Mumbai which turned out an absolute nightmare for both of us as you hated it and kept crying throughout, and we next went to Mahabaleshwar for an impromptu day trip - extremely tiring but an adventure to be together for the first time as a nuclear family. 

You are in love with all things godly, and we noticed that you enjoyed being in temples or chanting God's names. We started calling you Panditji and a passing baba also mentioned that you were an ancestor come back to life in our home.

Well, whatever it is, and whoever you might be, you're mine and I adore you more than words can say. 

Be strong. Be brave. Be healthy, happy and wise. 

I will always love you.

Only Yours,
Mom (aka Maa)

Wednesday, April 1

Aurat ki Taakat... and a Trending Video

So guess who got interviewed and published...

Indeed, your very own ME!! You can read my interview by clicking here

As awesome as that feels, I also realised that I've been extremely irregular in connecting with you fellas. This blog has given me some great feedback and some amazing followers, and I am not doing justice to you'all when I write once in a quarter. But you know how it is... New mommyhood is priority and I am already juggling a full-time career with that alongwiwth household responsibilities. So, when the man of the house decides to not chip in for any chore and the little one decides to not take it easy even for a moment, yours truly has to morph into Devi Durga and put all ten hands to task. 

Yeah, hail women power! 

Speaking of which, how many of you watched and appreciated and enthusiastically shared the new Deepika Padukone video titled "My Choice"? Watch it here before you read on and form your own opinion so that you do not get influenced by what I have to say... 

While Facebooking, I came across this Vogue video shared by multiple men and women touting it to be the next BIG thing. Somehow most of us consider it our moral duty to support anything hashtagged women empowerment. We become completely blind to the original message, especially when it is propagated by a glam babe. Within the first few seconds, I felt that the video was hyped and hogwash. If women can do anything under the pretext of feminism and freedom, then we ought not to judge men who live by the same ideology. Coz if a woman is permitted to have an extramarital affair and philander as she pleases, then why do we harass men under the tag of harassment when they behave likewise? The video stank of superficiality, though Deepika Padukone sizzled. Loved her hair in the video. 

Needless to say, it went viral and received a fair share of criticism and slander. Spoofs were made and people lashed out in their own way, a very fitting one by someone called (also) Deepika (full name Deepika Narayan Bharadwaj). Read here what she said to the Logical Indian.

So there, after Aamir Khan and his AIB tirade, you have Deepika joining the bandwagon and falling flat on her face.

Life otherwise has been pretty okay. Watching my bub (now 4.5 months old) is a miracle each day, and his smile sets the awriest of moods and toughest of times right. He's already proving himself a stubborn and smart brat, naughty and cheerful, super active and handsome. Let's see how the coming years groom him.

And I hear him whining in his sleep. Gotta go check.

Be back sooner this time, I promise. 

Until then, take it easy pal!



Friday, February 13

Book Review: Ramayana - The Game of Life : Shattered Dreams

Hi Friends, 

So, yet again I am honoured to be called upon by BlogAdda to review a book. This time it is "Ramayana - The Game of Life : The Shattered Dreams" by Shubha Vilas.

This book is a sequel to the first book in the series - Rise of the Sun Prince, one which I had not heard about owing to my very busy family life in the past few months. 

(Motherhood is a job that keeps one super busy and oblivious to the whole world!)

The prequel is said to be a huge success and BlogAdda sent me a copy of book 2 in the series to read and comment upon. Commenting upon the Ramayana, which has been read by millions the world over and written by some of the finest authors around the globe, is by no means an easy task. But given that BlogAdda and my blog-following well-wishers have immense faith in me, I shall attempt to give an unbiased and honest opinion. 

Truth be told, I was wondering how much I would really enjoy this book. One, I am not a big fan of the Ramayana, reserving my affection and curiosity instead for the multi-faceted Mahabharata. Two, I believe the Ramayana is a simplistic tale and the lessons preached by Lord Rama are impossible to adopt in real life. Three, I am firmly against the way Sita was treated throughout the story.  

Yet, reviewing a book is always a challenge and a sweet one at that. So, there. Maybe my view of the Ramayana would change with this book... 

While the cover illustration by Kunal Kundu is fascinating, the back cover reveals the plot of the book. Here are some excerpts, those that I couldn't have described any better myself: The book teaches us how to handle reversals positively; through Bharata’s actions, it teaches us to handle temptation; and through Sita’s courage, to explore beyond our comfort zone. This complicated family drama provides deep insights on how human relationships work and how they fail. With Valmiki’s Ramayana as its guiding light, Shattered Dreams deftly entwines poetic beauty from the Kamba Ramayana and Ramacharitramanas, as well as folk philosophy from the Loka Pramana tales, to demonstrate how the ancient epic holds immediate relevance to modern life. 

Shattered Dreams talks about the time when Dasharatha wants to crown Rama as king of Ayodhya and the following chain of events up until Rama, Sita and Lakshmana leave Chitrakoot for Dandakaranya forest. Kaikeyi chooses to redeem her two boons and Bharata atones for his mother's sinful behavior in this enchanting story. 

What struck me the most was the beautiful description of characters, events and emotions by the author. Shubha Vilas has done complete justice to the scene where Rama accepts exile and proceeds to inform his decision to the people who matter the most to him. The sorrow of the citizens of Ayodhya is also explained in a manner that keeps the reader rapt with attention. Bharata's anger and agony is worth reading and re-reading, as much for his sincerity and humility as it is for his love for Rama. He comes across as very endearing, and the number of times he has to prove his intent is enough to move any self-respecting individual to tears.  

I particularly loved Rama's introductory description and Ravana's egotistical pursuits. The exciting and fast paced narrative kept me spellbound. Quite a feat, I must say, given that books that the current generation brings to the top of the bestselling charts (read Chetan Bhagat) leave me confused and bored. 

To make an old and oft-heard story feel new and intriguing, now that's the mettle of a great storyteller. I wept when Rama was banished and my tears flowed faster when the plights of Lakshman, Sumantra and citizens of Ayodhya was described.

The story is well researched and filled with lesser known tales and anecdotes. For example, I did not know that Vidura in the Mahabharata is actually Dharmaraj, the God of death, cursed to be born on earth by Ani-Mandavya. Jayanta's shameful act and Manthara's reason for revenge were also unknown to me.   

Another highlight of the book is the trivia. There are footnotes and paragraphs that elaborate facts and lessons about life, destiny, sin and death.

Personally, I learnt a lot of lessons, and hopefully they will stay with me and guide me as I live my complicated life. Like how Kaushalya had learnt to accept her fate as a lesser loved wife and rather than creating family feuds, she focused on serving the community.

I also realized that I identify with Lakshmana who is quick to react and unable to accept situations patiently and calmly. I can totally relate to his experience and transformation from an angry young man to a helpless brother when Rama vowed to follow Kaikeyi's instructions.

A myriad of interwoven tales that connect the present to the past and future, and you begin to see a link in all the stories that you have ever read or heard as children and adults.

I thought that towards the middle, the book kind of lost steam. Or maybe that was the intention given the heavy start and resounding climax. The narration, however, could have been more lucid and attractive so as to keep the reader engaged. I also have a few concerns regarding the editing and language of the book viz punctuation and grammar, but that's plain old me you know... forever the perfectionist, grammar geek to the core. 

As usual, very little has been spoken about Shatrughana throughout the Ramayana and this book is no different. I am quite curious on that aspect, and I would have liked to understand his role in the Ramayana a little better had the writer dedicated a few pages to him. 

Overall, the book is a mighty good effort to make the Ramayana a wee bit more accessible and interesting to youngsters. It is not an exhaustive tale, in the sense that you will have to look up a few hints scattered across the pages to connect all the dots (if you're as particular about details as I am).  

How would I rate this book? 

Let me tell you this, parts of the book were so amazing that I went ahead and ordered the prequel for myself. Actions speak louder than words, you see! 

So, grab a copy and enjoy reading The Game of Life by Shubha Vilas - first the Rise of the Sun Prince and then Shattered Dreams. (Unlike me, I will now read the first 12 years of Rama's life before book 2 begins.) 

Jai Shri Ram!


AKA Princess

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Friday, February 6

Turn Back Time

There is something extremely desirable about a guy who is possessive about his girl. A little bit of insecurity works wonders when it comes to intimacy in a relationship.

At least Sheena felt that way. 

After all there has to be  some proof that a loves and needs his woman like no one else, she mused. 

Trust is definitely important but sprinkle a little bit of jealousy in a relation and it blooms and blossoms in its excitement quotient...

Now this certainly wasn't a justification for her obsession with him, she was quite proud of the fact that she was crazy about Russell. So crazy that she drove him nuts. So crazy that she sometimes drove him away.

He asked her the other day why she was so upset, so glum and she said she didn't know. After the silence that ensued, he made a very intriguing observation, "I think you are missing a passion in life." 

Her first reaction was annoyance at his arrogant confession but it was soon followed by bewilderment. And then she smiled. Maybe he was right; she was indeed feeling low and demotivated. She thought about it all night and it dawned on her by morn that for the last couple of years all she had been passionate about was him. 


The man of her dreams. The object of her addiction.

Sheena was so mad about him that even someone calling him by his nickname Ross angered her.

The realization that this was a tad extreme was not lost on her. 

Yet, she thought she deserved a special place in his life and nobody could be permitted to trespass.

And that's where the trouble began. Ross, unfortunately, did not think so. 

He was of the opinion that they had their own sweet separate lives and that's how it was meant to be despite the fact that they were engaged to be married.

It pained Sheena, his lack of interest in her life and his stone cold attitude towards her distress. It appeared to her that he cared more for random strangers and colleagues than her. Now which woman would be okay with this? Not too many, she told herself.

All her life, Sheena had wished for great friends and an exciting life. Her few good besties fulfilled this desire amply. But when she met Ross, she felt she had found her soul mate and her contact with them reduced. Big mistake. She devoted all her time and attention to him and he initially reciprocated. As time flew, her life became empty and his got fuller with other people and activities. No surprise then that his priorities and pastimes changed while her need for him only multiplied.

To make matters difficult, Ross was the strong and silent types who did not mind being alone. He enjoyed spending time with people but he did not want anybody to make his life complete. He was calm and content in his solitude and he did not feel the sting of loneliness. He was good to all, and better to strangers and acquaintances than her, believed.

It did not bother Ross when Sheena described how someone had asked her out the previous day nor was he worried if she did not call for hours. Maybe he did not need to, as she called him several times a day and often in quick succession while he was busy. He did not always answer her calls and texts, something that she complained about. He believed in freedom and space, like most other men. He had a woman he trusted, unlike most other men.

Sheena had been a lovely lass when he met her but of late she had started to nag. He did not know what he was doing wrong and he had no clue how to fix this cribbing. He liked his work and he got to meet some interesting folks there. Sheena seemed to resent his happiness and bugged him for trivial reasons.

All this while their wedding day was looming near. 

Was it the right decision?

Was it too late to turn back? 

Would it truly be worthwhile to commit his love and life to this person that he adored but occasionally found tough to bear?

And that was the question on his mind as he started his day. 

Time and destiny would show him the right way, he was certain.

He stepped on the sidewalk and checked his pocket to ensure he was carrying his cell phone. Damn, he'd forgotten it again. Sheena's latest gift to him, his favorite mobile handset that had cost her a bomb but she had not said so once. He turned back to the house and picked up his phone.

Ten missed calls. Two texts.

Must be Sheena. How had she stopped at two texts?! She generally sent no less than five.

Text 1: As expected, from Sheena. It read, "Ross, call me now!!!"

Text 2: Again, Sheena. "Jerk!!"

Ross grimaced. Sheena brought too much drama into every mundane thing. Maybe he should call it off with her... 

He dialed her number and waited as the phone rang once, twice, thrice. Why wasn't she answering now?


Ross: "What the hell...."

An unknown man: "Hi, is this Ross?"

Ross: (a little taken aback) "Yes. Who's this?"

Man: "Your number was the last dialed on this phone. The woman carrying it was hit by a speeding car and she is being rushed to Malcolm hospital in a critical state as we speak...."