The Scorpios

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Monday, March 31, 2008

An Hour on Earth on Earth Hour

March 29th we switched off all lights (except the fridge, as hubby pointed out). We drove to the beach and spend a good hour and more, wondering how much of the beach can be saved and for how long. With the callous, indifferent and uncaring attitude of most of the residents. I don't know how much difference we can make by this gesture but it is a matter of being sportive for your earth. Probably a sneaked up loadshedding would have helped. We would have grumbled but managed for an hour. We would have come out of our homes and chatted with other residents and complained and gone back to our homes when the hour was up. The TV channels should have stopped transmission. Radio Mirchi was campaigning for it, News channels flashed the pleas but atleast in my complex inspite of my mailer, nobody was concerned, and we live so close to the beach. My hubby said we are the only ones who have gone dark. As if I was to blame for it.
Probably in some way I was. I could have taken a stronger stand. I could have requested the secretary to take a firm step and shut off the mains. No one would have been any wiser. By hook or crook we would have participated. In our own ways, we do make efforts in our apartment to save power. We shut of alternate lamp posts after 8 pm every night. We do not switch on all lights on the corridors. We have energy saving lamps so therefore we have a set of conscientous people. So we could have participated. Why be forced to do so when you can on your own accord, though? K got his boys in office to switch off the non-essentials during the hour. He also has energy saving hours/ days priodically in his office.
Anyway, we went to the crowded beach dressed in our Saturday best. The kids enjoyd jumping off from the seating area.
My stupid question to hubby- why do the pushcarts selling icecream and the raw mango/ channa etc park themselves together at regular intrvals down the beach. My stupid guesses - either they want to socialize or they want to create mini one stop pitstops at regular intervals or they want to stay close to each other so that incase one feels that they have eaten too spicy stuff, they can neutralise it with icecream.
We then celebratd by driving down ECR and dining at the Delhi Dhabha- part of the triad of restaurants- Asia Garden that serves Thai, Malaysian, Chinese etc, Malgudi and Delhi Dhabha all part of the Savera group, who also owns the Kabab court on the same road.
I had been given my farewell lunch at this place in 2006. The place is much developed now. The parking lot is well organised and the place looks inviting.
There is the customery well at the entry point. A garden walk leads us to Malgudi on the left and Delhi Dhaba on the right and the Asia Garden is on the 1st floor at the entrance.
Astrologers seat on the left- with a parrot and a tiny rabbit and another palmist. We missed the potter who is there during the afternoon. There was a portrait artist who does it for Rs 49 in 20 minutes. Since he was leaving by 10.30 pm and had time to do only one, we did not do it at all. There is an ancient style bare swing and Mom and babies had a good time on that. On the right, there is a fish pond and the kids were fascinated by the coloured fish. The pond is visible from Delhi Dhabha and they spend a good time with their noses pressed to the glass from the inside and jostling their way with a couple of kids in the restaurant.
There is a horse cart without the horse and a tiny lotus pond with a bell, a pond which you may risk falling into, it is so small and hardly distinguishable from the lawn grass. There are pushcarts at various points that serve as service points and a visible kitchen.
A garden party was on and the bamboo framed sofa size seats made the whole setting look very inviting. A huge screen was relaying something I don't recall and the whole atmosphere was very comforting and homely. There are cottages made of mud each labelled Uttar, Dakshin, Madhya, Purab, Paschim. Only Uttar is occupied with ethnic wear from Sanskruti-this is a Kutch home-office outfit from somewhere in North Chennai and very visible in all exhibitions. She has good dress material but the readymades are not too great. Very oversized (like the owner) and disproportionate- atleast the M & L sizes. There is an Auroville type store also.
The Delhi Dhaba interiors are based on the movies theme with lot of contemporary movie posters and chair backs adorning portraits of the stars.
We had butter chicken, tandoori, rotis & biriyani. The portions were small albeit tasty. We had gulabjamuns which were too soft and almost like a gulabjamun halwa in sugar syrup. The food could have been better - the expectations were raised but I was sort of disappointed - the taste was not addictive, I want to go there again for the sake of the concept but not for the taste. And moreover I did not feel bursting to the seams after eating inspite of 1.5 naan/ paratha which is usually more than sufficient for me.
We watched Race yesterday- again sort of hyped expectations, but falling abruptly flat in the end. I ended up feeling a little cheated, wanting for more, as if I did not get the entire paisa vasool- like a Jab we met or a Guru...everything was very formula-ish and fast paced as if the director is in a great rush to finish the movie. But it did keep me interested and it was the blink and you miss the links in the story kinds. Some of the songs were danceable numbers- the kids danced to them giving their seal of approval and cried for more. Anil Kapoor's double meaning cheap dialogues were totally tasteless and unnecessary. Katrina looked stylish but dumb and I don't know why Bipasha cannot put some realistic expression on her face. She can do great - I liked her during the reality shows but her diction is poor and expressions are incongruous in movies. The beard suited Saif- for the role he was playing and between him and Akshay, I was not sure on whose side I was in the movie. It is timepass movie but you won't miss anything if you don't see it.
This morning K gave Tejas a hair cut in his sleep. We didn't have the energy to get it done in the salon. He screamed so much last time that the passerbyes from the street peeped in to watch!
Have stacked up a few Danielle Steels- trashy but since they are a long read it is good in the toilet.
I have grand plans of buying the entire Archer/ Sidney series for my collection in the near future. I would love to rediscover the stories because I am sure I have forgotten how they progressed.

Friday, March 28, 2008

About the Patna Home

Home is what a person makes of it. It’s about people and not about the place. The hostel or the quarters that we loved so much and considered as our homes or the school we were so “at-home” with is no longer the same. Go back to your school after years, you will find that the teachers are different, the setting is different and the mood is different. It is no longer yours. It is all about people and not the place.
Patna- my hometown, where my grandparents lived- both sets. I have always loved to holiday at my maternal grandparents’ home. Whereas if we were to stay at my paternal grandparents’ home, separated by 15-20 minutes drive and a railway crossing (bridge today) from maternal home, I used to not be very pleased. It’s not that I hated being there. Children don’t do hate. They just don’t enjoy or like things very much. I had a lot of affection for my grandparents but just that I enjoyed my stay in the maternal home more- why, would be a subject of another post.
In 2006, my Mom who had just moved over to the paternal home a year back after Dad’s retirement invited us to come over for a 2 month stay as I was on my maternity leave. To tell you the truth, I was apprehensive. For one thing, I hadn’t been there for a stay since perhaps 1996 after my grandma’s death and after grandpa died the house was put up for rent and I had taken a flying visit in 2004 just to look up the place and get the mangoes plucked. The place was in a mess. The tenants had mucked up the entire house and it looked dreary and not at all inviting.
Moreover there had been thefts atleast three times and I was not the least bit comfortable about going there. Infact for atleast 2 years I had pestered my parents to sell the place and look for a place in Delhi or Chennai. I simply did not want to visit them in Patna.
My mom assured me that we will like being there. With many grains of salt and doubts I went to Patna for a holiday with the kids (the husband joined later on). The true meaning of home is what people make of it dawned on me then. Mom had really in the words of my Dad's sister - “naksha badal diya thaa”- she had changed the whole house and made it ergonomically and aesthetically sensible and inviting.
The front balcony was grilled for safety and a mini sitting area created there with garden chairs and table. The drawing room had 2 sofa sets and carpet instead of the usual 6 chairs in my grandma’s time. The inner lobby was recreated with a study table, diwan and a book case converted into showcase/ crockery rack and decorative stuff on the top. All rooms were furnished with beds & curtains. The kitchen was redone with marble and the kitchen top extended to create more workspace. The store area was provided with a small table for placing stuff and a larder in addition to the shelves that were already there. The table was also used as a mini dining area by my kids last year. The dining room was redone- putting a crockery rack, a diwan because the huge dining room was also a socialization centre, tables for electrical equipment. The puja area was shifted from the dining room floor to the bedroom – a mini puja area created using a small cupboard. The backyard was cleaned up and plants planted. The bathrooms were redone and geysers, A/C and inverters provided. Mom made the best of waste and impressed people with the way she utilized space. The place is today much live-able and I look forward to going there now. Only thing I need to be smart enough to go in winter or pre-winter to escape load shedding and the heat! Adding to the pluses of a comfortable home which is not stifling like an apartment, I had never realized the huge shopping potential the place had. I have lightened my bank balance the last 3 visits I have done, to a great extent. You would have read about it. Let’s face it- Patna doesn’t have fast food joints, good restaurants but I binged on Mithais, home cooked food from parents & grandparents /Mama-Mami’s homes and had a lot of Bihari home-made snacks. Patna does not have branded wear or shopping malls but I freaked out on Saris, dress material and cheap but decorative sandals. As you know, take me to any part of the world and I can manage to shop, I more than managed there.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Another Role to Play

Yesterday afternoon I made my first client visit stepping into the shoes of the outgoing Account Manager. I have been nursing hopes of doing Account Management for the last 9 years. This company has placed their trust on me to handle this major account from the development side. I am not expected to do the complete sales role but only interact with R&D for development projects. Actually a sort of extension of my current role in Marketing for this particular category.
Nevertheless, I will be the face of my company for the development arm, a role which a Sales person traditionally handles. So ultimately I get the best of both worlds- Marketing- the role that I love and where my skills lie, and Account Management- something that I have been dreaming off both as an experience and as a notch to add on my resume and also to test myself and my capabilities.
For I am aware that Sales is a dirty role.
For starters it comes with the baggage of sorting out a lot of logistic issues- you cannot just meet clients and send reports- all the dirty job of tax forms, forecasting, order processing, follow ups fall on you.
You have to show your teeth to the client inspite of the fact that you really want to grind your teeth on their face. You need to bear with courage and politeness even if the client is abusive and using filthy language for you or your organisation. You need to make a hundred calls and run after the client for minor feedbacks. You cannot blame them if they don't give a feedback but they & your team will definitely blame you for not collecting feedback. You have to arbitrate between the organisation you represent and the client who believes you are on their side. A friend once mentioned- serving 2 masters is the phrase.
In that regard I am lucky that only the glamorous part has fallen in my lap. By default & design. As I mentioned, I was the logical choice to take up this role because of my current capacity in which I am handling the same category in which this client is present.
My first visit in this capacity yesterday. I got a taste of what it is all about. The client took my class in terms of voicing out all the grievances and complaints they had against us. Some valid some not at all valid but I had to agree to all of them, this being my first visit.
On the positive side, I managed to probe and sort of elicit a brief from them for one of their large brands. Touch Wood.
Wish me luck. As I mentioned, I had been hoping for this role for a long time. My understanding of the product and the business was high in my previous company but I was never rewarded with a role in Sales, something everyone who knew me knew that I had been hoping for. I was never considered good enough for wearing an Account Manager's hat and they never never gave me the chance to test their theory.
With my comparatively low level of understanding of our product in this company, I am allowed to play the role which is crucial, this being a big account for us. I am truly thankful and grateful.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Woman Chases a Man Down the Road

I turned my car into the road that leads to the main road. In front of me a number plate comes into focus- 6363. That had a familiar ring to it. I check the car- a grey colour wagonr. But off course, this was our classmate JS. I honked repeatedly to catch his attention and waved with my hands out of the window hoping that he would see his rear view mirror. No luck. He turned right into the main road and so did I. I chased his car till the intersection. Good Luck! It was a red signal. Oh No! He was taking a U-turn and I was to take the right turn. No problem. I will follow suit. Let me chase him down. I could always take another left turn and be back on track towards home. I followed his car still honking and waving and tried calling my husband to get JS on the line and tell him I am following his car (I didn't have JS' number). But before my husband could pick up the phone, we reached the red light and I drew my car next to his. The windows were tinted and I couldn't see a thing. I inched along and looked through the front windshield. To my shock it was someone else. Meanwhile husband picked up the phone.
What is JS' car number?
6336, why?
No, I just thought I saw his car, bye!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tell Me

Please solve my doubts...
1. If one is wearing a black shirt and another a white one and sleeping at night with the lights off, will the mosquitoes bite the one wearing white or black?
2. At the age of 2 plus, is it ok not to force feed kids if they are absolutly, stubbornly refusing? Especially if you realize that they have had some fruits, bread, biscuits & juice over the last 3 hours.
3. If one parent is scolding the kids, should the other parent or any other person present intervene if tke kids look up to the others to "save them/ support them"?
Especially when the naughty fellows are able enough to tell that the other guy did the mistake.
4. Does a diet which include 2 meals of milk (kheer/ cornflakes etc) and 1 glass of milk at bedtime suffices as "enough milk gone in the system" or more is needed?
5. Is it ok to give more than 1 egg per day to kids of 2 plus years?
6. Is it ok to give non veg (fish) everyday to the kids of this age group? Is sea fish better or river fish?
7. Is it ok to top milk with stuff like chocolate powder/ malt beverages at 2 plus age? Most malt beverages do not recommend to be given below 3 years old. Is it better to allow them to get used to plain milk at this stage?
8. Is coffee or tea ok for 2 plus age group? When is it ok?
9. Is powder milk better than the dairy wallah milk packets? I know that milk packets are also pasteurised but I have people putting doubts in my mind.
10. What fruits can be eaten at night- banana? grapes? Or is there no specific time for fruits to be eaten?
11. Can lettuce be eaten at night?
12. Is honey good or bad for kids stomach- studies say it is good for the stomach but a doc told me not to give during diarrhea. Also someone else told me that honey precipitates loose stools and the net says honey helps during diarreah. Who is right?
13. If the kids sleep after a light dinner of dosa/ roti-veggi around say 10 pm and a glass of milk at around 11 pm and wake up next day at 9 am- does it mean I am not feeding them enough and they must be under-nourished and poor things they must be suffering from hunger pangs? Especially because until last month they were used to getting a bottle feed at around 7 am in their sleep. I tried changing it to spoon feeding them milk while they were sleeping so that the stomach is not very empty when they wake up but they simply turned and slept on their tummies. So I gave up after 2 days and began giving them breakfast the moment they woke up. Is topped the morning milk feed all together. Am I right in doing it? They are not cracnky at all infact they are taking their breakfast with more eagerness.
14. Last Dec onwards they were doing their potty / susu in their baby pottys. From last month we hid their potties and started forcing them to use the toilet. They refused to use the western loo even with the baby seat but are ok using the Indian one. But they started constipating- they would go every alternate day and are not at all regular (earlier they used to go every morning). Now I am being blamed for spoiling their routine- by removing the potty and also by removing the bottle so that they are not getting enough milk and are constipating. Where am I going wrong. Is in't it time they get used to adult loo? They will be going to school soon. School will definitely ensure they get used to loos but travelling is tough until they get used to doing in adult loos.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Snatches of Conversations

Isn't it like the Lilypie pic
Dadda- Tejas, Dadda massage
Tejas- No, Eshu tired!
Me- Eshu give me kissie
Tejas obliges.
Me- Eshu, one last kissie
Tejas- No, last kissie no! No kissie
As we were walking into food court of Ascendas building, I tell Ojas- Wipie. (meaning wipe your feet). I wiped my feet to demonstrate
Ojas did not notice me wiping my feet and he simply wiped his hands on my kurta in response.
Tejas - Mausi paani, Mausi hand wash, Mausi bathroom etc....
Mausi- Ask your Mamma
Tejas- No, Mamma tired.
We went to Coffee Day last evening. We ordered a strawberry frappe for the kids and Hubby ordered a green apple soda. Tejas tried attacking the green apple and hubby told him, no baby juice is coming. Undeterred, Tejas finished up the green apple and once done exclaimed- Now, baby juice ok!
Nani- Ojas give kissie
Ojas- No, kissie Evening
Whenever Ojas refuses food, I tell him "Mamma Going" and pretend to walk out of the house. Initially he used to get scared and start eating obediently
Nowdays the moment I get thir food Ojas says- Mamma going?
Or if Tejas does not eat, Ojas says- Eshu, eat, Mamma going!
I ask Ojas, Some more duddu?
Ojas- No, enough!
Ojas goes to the dustbin and peels a banana. He throws one section of the peel in the dustbin and says- wait! some more!
Tejas loves doing double riding on Ojas' cycle.
He was begging Ojas for "double" and Ojas was giving him the royal ignore. After much persuading, he relented saying- ok, only one
After one round, he shoved him off the cycle.
I was going to the bathroom
Ojas asked- mamma going?
I said- yes
Ojas- Bye (he knew I will be gone for a while I guess!) , then for good measure he added- chip, chocate (get chips & chocolate- something he tells us everytime we go out)
Tejas pretends to switch off the light switch on his book.
And then says- Sleep

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Blogging From Mumbai

Waiting at the airport Coffee Day Lounge. Treating myself to a chicken club sandwich and tall glass of frappe. The club sandwich here is a must try- oodles of cheese & mayo with chunks of chicken and absolutely bround bread, generous amount. Half way into it I am already full. I don't think I can do a dessert now.
The day was perfect as of now. Touche'
Watched rerun of airtel darde disco & koffee with karan and a CID episode on Jet.
Had a lovely Mc Meal- the one in which you get 2 toys free.
The presentation went off well without hitches and a lot of praise from the client for the efforts and the good work done- he mentioned it was worth the wait, inspite of us being late with getting all global products. Let's hope it translates to good briefs and business from the client.
A thought- do you think kids sense that the Mom is going on a trip? The little ones jumped on my trying-to- sleep form for almost an hour after the lights were off and woke me thrice for "susu" & "paani" - a record so far. Tejas insisted on sleeping with the handbag I had packed for next day and Ojas insisted on putting the string of a drawstring pouch round his neck while sleeping. Not to forget that each of them were having coins in their hands. I could not take a wink until I had persuaded them to remove them and sleep and until I had removd all coins from their reach. When I woke up at 5 am, I took both of them for toilet visits and inspite of that, half an hour later, Tejas woke up crying 'susi'. Ojas woke up screaming. I had a tough time putting them back to sleep.
Bought an auto & bus toy each and a small basket yesterday for them to carry their wares. They loved both public transports. Infact they slept with them yesterday and I had a tough time pulling out toys from under my bum or back everytime I shifted.
Adding to the height of blog commitment- I was downloading data sitting in client's office right before the meeting. I could not resist checking the blog and very much wanted to do a mini post. Unfortunately the client came and we had to enter for the meeting.
The only blip for the day is that my phone is acting strangely. I can hear people who call but they cannot hear me. So all my planned phone calls to Mumbai friends are gone and I am resorting to blogging.
The client's office had people dressed up in their holi best- lovely ethnic kurta pajamas. Extremely nostalgic moment for me- who hasn't enjoyed a proper Holi for years.
Reminds me of 2005 when Good Friday & holi came back to back. We had discovered the existence of the twins on Good Friday- 25th March when we went for the consultation after doing the home test a week before. The next day was Holi and my apartment friends had forced a treat out of us in our home. We had got takeaways and I had gone to sleep out of legitimate exhaustion before the party was over. The ladies had very sweetly completly cleaned up before leaving!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Polythene Packets

I confess I have a fetish for polythene bags. I swear it is hereditary. Runs in the family. Infact the affection for shirt dabbas also run in my family. My uncle used to joke that if there are 2 shirts to choose from, my grandpa will pick the one that has the better box.
Inspite of all the hulla I do on being environment friendly and refusing polybags whenever possible, old habits die hard. I cannot resist a good poly-bag sometimes. And after the kids, the ordinary opaque white ones have served me well as trash bags.
The choices are limitless. You have the thin noisy ones that will wake up a sleeping child. They get worn out pretty soon and you cannot re-use them for too long. Then there are the waxy finish ones which have a smooth feel and pastel shades. They look sophisticated and are ideal to put gifts in, despite the name of the shop printed on them. I personally love the pastel shade sixth sense shop bags. The good quality thick glossy plastic bags given by men's clothing stores especially are highly durable and stay fresh for long.
It takes me a lot of time to pick up the right polybag whenever needed. The lovingly and carefully sorted and folded bags placed safely in the cupboards out of the reach of greedy polybag hunters. I face an emotional situation everytime I have to part with one. Each bag has a story to tell. Memories are evoked when one chances upon a long preserved bag, guess works are done as to how the bag found its way into the house, what was purchased, where is that item now. I once used a shopping bag to trace the phone number of the shop in question.
Paper bags of Fab India have a great feel-good factor. The crisp brown-paper smell, and the stiffness of the bag- 2 factors that work in favour of them, but very low durability. The Titan bags are lovley for that matter but for the size.
I once bought a diamond ring from Ishi's. They gave me a stiff plastic tote bag in white and purple that I still cherish.
Jute bags of the Nalli variety offer great utility value but for the looks. I prefer the Hidesign drawstring cloth/ satin bags and make it a point to ask for them everytime I purchase something at Casablanca, Pondy. Unlike the Nallis they do not discriminate between value of purchase and the bag they give. Cottons in Gurgaon pack the purchases in cotton drawstring pouches of several patterns and sizes. A Singaporean colleague carefully selected patterns and colour combinations for the gifts she purchased for her family.
The Metro shoe bags serve the purpose of packing my sandals while travelling.
I even had a mini argument with a stall owner in the craft fair at Kalakshetra for not giving me his memento cloth bag for my purchase!
I guess the love for poly bags could be a starting point of what develops as a fetish for handbags, purses, wallets etc at a higher level! That explains why I am always in search for the perfect handbag.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Train to My Destination

There is something about the train whistles in a fast moving train amidst a green foresty landscape that makes me go weak in the knees. They sound romantic and thrilling, mysterious and exciting, makes me feel part of some action, dynamic and ever-changing. The rhythmic chug chug of the wheels on the tracks and the musical whistle sound to go with it and a view from the open window... My idea of bliss.
The typical Bihari style poori-aloo bhunjiya and mango pickle were our inevitable train dinners. Sometimes a well garnished chole with raw onions and lemon replaced the bhunjiya and a boiled egg accompanied the dinner. Open the packed dinner and all the aroma trapped in the headspace of the pack hits the senses automatically generating a larger appetite. Mom recalls we both sisters finished the entire stock of pooris in one go and there was nothing left for her. From then on she made it a point to pack extra. Smart Tip- she makes the dough using milk instead of water. The pooris stay good for even 2 days.
Solo or in a group, I have never had a problem with passing time- I can spend endless hours day dreaming, looking out of the window and I really do not need the company of co-passengers. I have carried a stack of books and spent the entire 2 days on the top berth because there was absolutely no space on the lower berths. I have carried cuttings of Hindu crossword to solve on the train. I can do without company unless they are really interesting or perhaps I can be a mute listener. Pearls of wisdom are doled out by great individuals during long train journeys. Heated discussions over political parties, corruption, strategic plans to revolutionize India, technical knowledge, trivias on trains and the inevitable discussion on the eccentricities of each state. Discussion groups are formed, sides are taken, great singers collaborate to form instant bands using available surfaces for background music and several card games are played.
Nothing beats a sleeper class window seat. The panorama of view streaming by, the blast of cool air hitting the face and sunlight brightening the compartment, not to forget the innumerable purchase opportunities at each station. A/C coaches take 75% of the fun away from the train journey. You can't bargain with the hawker in peace, the coach is always dark and there is absolutely no scope of fresh air. The only bright spots are hassle free journey with no one trying to wriggle into your seat whether you are asleep or awake, no need to carry extra baggage of blankets during winter, marginally better security, slightly better service with less incidents of water getting exhausted, relatively cleaner toilets and no stinky sweating in summer. These hygeine factors make me book A/C coaches every time I travel.
Last December I took my first train journey after 2004. And to think I have been doing train journeys ranging from once a year during work life to atleast 3 times a year to & fro during hostel days. Time constraints and logistic problems with the kids make me go for the boring and regimental air travel each time. You pay a hell lot of money and then you need to arrive an hour in advance else thy may not allow you to board. You take a little extra luggage on you and you end up paying a hefty price for it, you need to sit cramped into a small space, rupee by rupee you get a comparitively bigger space in the train. You need to consume the lousy refreshments on board- for that same amount you could have eaten a large buffet. The airhostess will disturb you for juice and candies even if you have dozed off and by the time you catch up on your 40 winks, it's time to put your seat in upright position.
If only we had better and faster trains, I would have loved journeying on them.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Don Pepe on Saturday

Mexican outfit at Cathedral Road, right above Hot Breads. Housed in Copper Chimmney & Zaras building.
Semi casual ambience. Like a cross between a Cascade and Pizza Hut. A stained glass window on the floor gives a view of Hot breads below.
We tried 5 diffrent steaks- served with either pasta & bread or Mexican rice.
At about Rs 250 average, each stake is good enough for 1 plus persons.
Plenty of chicken on each plate, little rice/ pasta and potato fries/ 2 slices garlic bread.
The apple pie is a must have. So also brownie with icecream. The desserts were a little over priced though. Dinner for 5 plus 2 kids worked out for Rs 1800/-
We ordered chicken wings and Eshan ordered a 2nd plate as soon as it was over.
They got their individual plastic mugs to sip water.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Work Politics

What would you do if you come to know from the client that your meeting has been postponed, I hope your Account Manager has informed you? First you try to brush it aside saying he must be busy, he will call me. Then the client makes it a point to tell you that I informed him 3 hours ago. You can't fool a client who worked in your company with the same Account Manager a few years back. So now, the internal politics are out in the open.
Time for ITW to stand up and raise her voice. She calls up the bosses and updates them. She is asked to take the account manager's pants off in a conference meeting with the Sales head and entire Marketing team.
He has done this before. He pushed me to get samples from abroad last year. He fudged dates- altered his previous mail in a new forwarded mail and thankfully I had the good sense to check the original and report to the boss. He never presented the cracker samples to the client and told me that he wanted to give it due importance. I will present it separately. I am still waiting for the presentation to happen.
He did it again. He never informed the client that a team from Head office is travelling for this meeting. He infact mentioned that ITW is coordinating for samples, not making the concept presentation. He wanted me to leave behind extra set of samples to show to another client. I refused to let him peddle it anywhere until I make the presentation fit for the new client.
Is it not urgent & important to inform me that the meeting is postponed, right away? More so because I am booking tickets and hotel too. He also asked me if I have grabbed portions from a Global presentation? WTF? Does he think I am like him? He infact presented a complete presentation from his previous company to our clients! Without bothering to remove the logo! Cheat, but cheat intelligently.
We had a session with him this morning to sort out issues. He said that he forgot to raise the project in the intranet for the creative to take charge, I could have called him to remind him. He asked me why I didn't update him on the status at various stages. I told him I forgot, but you could have reminded me, I am just a phone call away. Aren't we quits! This time I played the game by his rules. Never call him, never update him until he asks for it. He never fixed the meeting date until I called him and reminded him. And since his Global boss was coming, he decided to prove a point to him and rush me on my presentation and do it before he arrives, to look good in front of his boss.
I told my boss clearly, if he would have taken me into confidence and asked me to bail him out on this one, I would have gladly obliged. Instead he tried to push me to the corner, shifted the blame on me and never kept me in the know. Then I pay him back in his coin.
Afterall I am a Leo, I have to live up to a reputation. And I am taking lessons from my Scorpio sons to pay him tit for tat.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Must Have Chocolates

Experiential, Delicious Chocolates with a Surprise...
The course of my job takes me to a chocolate expedition. Rather brings the expedition to my desk.
Lindt Peperoncino- Chocolates with a mild pungency of pepper in the throat. Careful before you pop the entire square in. Gives a slow but sure burn.
Lily O Briens Desserts- Bite size Chocolate cupswith dessert experience. A must have and don't even think of sharing. Lemon Sorbet is the surprise, I have never seen anothr lemon that blends so well with chocolate.
Sainsbury's Whole Cherry Chocolate Liqueurs- Dark chocolate filled with cherries & brandy. A melt in the mouth experience leaving a burning sensation in the throat. 1 piece and no more for me. But for somone who is used to hard drinks is lured into my room to badger me for more.
Vosges Chocolate- Exotic ingredients, lovely pack and raises chocolate eating to an- awakeing all 5 senses experience
Gulliver Coffee Beans- Roasted coffee beans coated with chocolate. Available in India- Nuts n Spices, Fresh @ stores. They have done a fin job of bring down the bitterness of the beans
Richfield Kiwi chocolate bar- Pieces of kiwi hidden withing a slab of chocolate. I loved it. Much better than the Cadbury's Black Forest which is more of cherry and cookies embedded in chocolate.
Ritter Sport Dark Chocolate Mousse- A little too bitter for my taste but that did not stop me from eating.
I haven't opened the rest of the packs to comment! More will come when I taste them

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Another Tag Done- The Game of 5

These tags are a good way to keep the blog alive when you are swamped with work.
An important presentation to do, agreed for Monday deadline to bail out the Sardarji Account Manager who conveniently forgot to fix up a date with the client in advance and we have to do a rush job. He tried hard to pin down the blame on me but unfortunately could not succeed in his gundagardi. And we managed to find out that he was trying to shunt me out of the meeting by portraying that I am "coordinating for samples" and not doing the whole damn presentation. He infact never told the client that I am travelling to Mumbai just for the presentation. He took Monday appointment from the client and has told me the meeting is on Friday itself. The idea is I travel on Friday, the meeting does not happen and he keeps the samples and the presntation and does it by himself on Monday. Smart! We pulled some strings here and things are smooth as of now.
and now for the tag...
From Bangalore Mom, Timepass, Art Navy & Cuckoo
The rules of the tag are- 'Link 5 different posts of yours. Tag 5 other people to do it. The 5 posts should be about Family, Friends, Yourself, your love and anything you like!!
Family- Parents/ Grandparents
Friends-or lack of many of them- difficult to locate a good post on friends, so I better do it soon Yourself- Working Mom
Your Love- engagement story
Anything Else-Factual Fiction
I am not tagging anyone because probably everyone I know have already done it. So any one who hasn't done it yet please take it up and link me to it as the tagger!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Alphabet Soup Tag

Time I move my butt to do the tags that have been piling up like a month old laundry.
Alphabet Soup From Art
A -Available? You kidding? after all this long? Is in't it obvious?
B-Best friend- Hubby (before he became my Hubby!!)
C-Cake or Pie? Cake any day with chocolate even better, chocolate sauce, best of the lot.
D - Drink of choice: Ice Lemon Tea, Lemon Masala Soda, Frappe, Any juice
E-Essential thing used everyday: Lipstick on work days or whenever I am going out. Otherwise soap is definitely used everyday!
F-Favourite colour: (Midnight!!) Black
G-Gummi bears or worms: If push comes to shove gummi bears else neither
H-Hometown: Patna
I-Indulgence: Chocolate my nemesis and cake (see above as in C)
J-January or February: January- more holidays
K-Kids and names: Ojas & Tejas
L-Life Happens
M-Marriage date: December eight (rhymes well! with the question)
N-Number of siblings: 2
O-Oranges or apples: Oranges both as fruit and as colours
P-Phobias: flying cockroach, falling down from height, Reaching that uncontrollable stage of loo pressure and all you get is a dirty toilet
Q-Quote: Khudi ko tu kar iss tarah buland ki har takdeer ke pehale khuda khud bande se poochay bataa teri razaa kya ( make yourself so determined that before writing every aspect of your future, God Himself asks you what is your wish)
R-Reason to smile: Happiness from within
S-Season: Spring & Winter
T-Tag three people: Alan, Gauri, Ceekay
U-Unknown fact about me: Let it stay as that
V-Vegetable you do not like: Turnip
W-Worst habit: Crying for small things
X-x-rays you have had during health check ups and during the ligament tear
Y-Your favorite food: Non veg
Z-Zodiac: Leo

Monday, March 10, 2008

It Helps to be a Minority

  1. When you are the only one who doesn't mind using the Indian loo when everyone else is queued up for the western one.
  2. When you are the only Christian or Muslim who will take an extended RH from work unlike the rest of the Hindus whose mass exodus will cause problems in the working system.
  3. When you are the only adult among many who preferred potato chips over banana chips and you end up having the entire pack to yourself.
  4. When you are th only one who does not go to the conference and end up being among the only few coming to work. Like a holiday at your workplace.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Learning Sessions

1. Ojas pointing out parts of the body...
Mausi- What is this?
Ojas- Hands
Mausi- What is this?
Ojas- eyes
Mausi- What is this (pointing to the leg)
Ojas- Ummmm.... Pajama!

2. The kids teasing mausi-
Mosquito, Mosquito, Mausi-quito...

3. Learning Names
I went about teaching the kids names of all of us. They ask Nani's name?
I say- Nalini
Ojas obviously thought I am playing with the word "Nani"
He says- Nani la la la (not Nani), Nani name, name. As if I am on dumb idiot who could not understand what name implies

4. Tejas- Mamma, phone
Me- No, Take Daddy's phone
Tejas- No, Dadda pitti (Daddy will beat)
My phone is what? junk, and dad's phone is maha- precious!!

5. They reverse their tricycle making the warning beeping which a car gives in reverse gear

6. If one of them has taken something that the other wants, instead of fighting for it, they just touch it or grab some air from that direction along with chak chak sound and keep it with them. If we pretend we have eaten their ears or bum they put their finger in our mouth, take it back and stick the bum or ear back in place (along with chak chak sounds).

7. Their high chairs and tricycles are good for climbing and picking things from top or switching fan/ lights. If they want to protect their toys, they climb up and put them in the top shelves. Tejas leaves a warning to us-No touch, ok, Eshu's

Thursday, March 06, 2008


The Security at my workplace was instructed to give me a sticker for my car- one reminding me to wear my seat belt and the other not to use mobile while driving.
Thank you site manager for reminding me to be safe for my sake and for the sake of my family.
For reminding me that a machine at my disposal is to be used responsibly and carefully. For reminding me that safety is not a joke. I, an educated, responsible, adult should have known better.
How do I expect to set a good example to my kids when I am not doing the right thing? So ultimately it boils down to practice what you preach.
So, for every troll that attempts to push me towards the side and overtake me, I say better safe than sorry, no panga with idiots who have nothing to lose. I chew my pride and allow them to pass.
A colleague recalled an incident where driving through a snowed road, the car skidded and the back seat passanger who was without the seat belt got ejected out of the back windshield.

Many years ago, a bus hit our stationery vehicle from behind and the car dashed against a truck loaded with bamboo poles a few metres ahead.

Seat belt facts

  1. If unrestrained in a crash at 30mph, you will be thrown forward with a force up to 60 times your own body weight
  2. Adjust the seat properly. Place the lap belt as low as possible over the hips – not over the abdomen. Ensure the shoulder belt lies on the chest and over the shoulder. Do not leave any slack in the belt
  3. Do not interfere with the correct function of the seatbelt by fitting any comfort devices that are not recommended by your vehicle manufacturer
  4. Use seatbelts even when travelling at low speeds or going on a short trip
  5. Chances of being killed are almost 25 times greater if one is thrown from the vehicle
  6. The forces in a collision can be great enough to throw one as far as 150 feet – about 15 car lengths
  7. Seatbelts can keep one from:
    -Plunging through the windscreen
    -Being thrown out the door and hurled through the air
    -Scraping along the ground
    -Being crushed by own vehicle or oncoming vehicle
  8. In almost any collision, one is better off being held inside the vehicle by seatbelts
  9. Less than ½% of all injury-producing collisions involve fire or submersion. If fire or submersion does occur, wearing a seatbelt can save one's life.
  10. If involved in a crash without seatbelt, one might be stunned or knocked unconscious by striking the interior of the car. Then the chances of getting out would be far less.
  11. One's better off wearing the seatbelt at all times. With seatbelts, one's more likely to be unhurt, alert and capable of escaping quickly.
  12. While wearing the seat belt, when reaching for things that will take one away from the steering wheel, it’s safer to pull off the road at an appropriate location
  13. Holding the driver firmly, the seatbelt gives him the chance to keep control of his vehicle and prevents him from getting ejected off the vehicle
  14. In incidents involving heavy goods vehicles, the major cause of injury is contact with the interior of the cab. Wearing a seatbelt significantly reduces this risk
  15. Edited to add a tip from Suki- in case your car is upside down after an accident, the seat belt should be opened by pressing the button and pulling on the belt at the same time. Just the release button might not work in those circumstances.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


A colleague once told me, never buy stuff for your kids in front of them. It makes them think everything can be bought if you fuss hard enough. Buy things for them when they are not observing. A part of me agrees and a part does not. I can imagine kids just loading stuff at random in the shopping bag, expecting parents to pay for them at the counter. Easy!
Why kids, sometimes I feel less guilty while paying via credit card compared to when the bank notes leave my purse. Or when hubby pays for something, I feel less concerned than when I pay for it, even though my money is my money and his money is also my money!
On the other hand, how else one teaches the value of money to kids? Or is it fair to inflict the worries of money matters on the kids? I remember when Dad used to talk of salaries getting delayed I used to worry sick how he will run the family. I remember filling up the annual income in admission forms and back calculating whether it is sufficient to pay for our needs. With limited understanding of savings, I used to worry unnecessarily. I really cannot decide which is the right way to balance it and convey the message that they are secure, they need not worry about issues for which they are too young but also not be totally oblivious to the ways of the world.
That brings me to the subject of allowances. Should I give pocket money to the kids or let them ask and I buy for them, thereby exercising control over where they put their money? Sue wrote an interesting post which talked about how she used her allowances and how thy grew as she grew.
At what age is it right to give allowances? I remember not having regular pocket money because I never felt the need to buy anything for myself. Hubby talks of getting "bus-money" of which he used save some by the weekend due to round figure fare issues and how they used to buy a treat for themselves with it. Does pocket money teach kids how to make that rupee go farther or do they just fritter it away in excesses?
Suppose I go by the principle of buying on request basis. What are my choices?
Do I buy whatever they request or do I ration them out?
Some of the allowed and not allowed stuff I have in mind based on what kids usually ask for would be-
1. Books/ Magazines- definitely allowed but rationed to an extent. First they need to exhaust other options like library- school & local, friends and internet. I will allow a few subscribed magazines/ comics, the rest could be read on the net. Collectibles like asterix, tintin, amar chitra katha, Enid Blytons allowed but I will try to make them hunt for a good bargain. Since I am a book freak myself, I am generous about it but calculated too. I will encourage them to build their own library because I know the joys of reading and re-reading books.
2. Clothes/ Shoes- Allowed not just for birthdays or festivals. Something I cannot control because we both are clothes horses ourselves. We don't wait for occassions but buy as we like it. Most of us have been encouraged to wear clothes/ shoes till they get completely worn out. We were taught to preserve new clothes and use them ultra- sparingly until we realized that it has gone out of fashion or we have grown out of it and we never managed to wear them to our heart's content. Today I realize that is not the best way to do it. Apparances do matter and grooming is important. I would like to encourage my kids to understand that, so that they don't end up being totally devoid of interest towards self-maintenance- kind of "badshauk". I have seen people who wear their ordinary clothes for a wedding or the most out-of-date style regularly because they do not want to give them up. Instead of controlling numbers, I will perhaps focus on getting better bargains, have a fair mix of varieties and keep an eye out for discarding stuff that start "looking old". Replenish on need basis rather than occassion basis. and buy sensible rather than outrageously expensive.
3. Toys/ Games- Heavily rationed unless they are educational- like kalaiedoscope/ monopoly, scrabble or game of skill like carrom, chess etc. I will wait for birthdays to get them as gifts- may be drop heavy hints to allow people to buy them before I take the money out of my purse. A big no-no for game CDs unless they want to make a career out of them. A few allowed as stress- busters but no excesses on that.
4. Food/ Treats/ Chocolates/ Snacks- Allowed - We both are shameless foodies. But here's the deal- no control on any fruit they want, no control on home made stuff- cakes, desserts, snacks, eggs, milk products, home made juices. But serious objection if they are used to substitute the regular meals. As long as they have healthy meals, they can freak out on snacks in-between. Any new snack will be tasted, experimented and judged. Being from the food industry, I want them to develop a taste for and relish all kinds of food so I have no objection for trying any new product. They can select what they want to eat but quantities will be rationed. Chocolates will be rationed on weekly basis, same for packed juices/ cakes. A monthly or fortnightly meal outside with family allowed.
5. Memberships/ Communities/ Signing for Extra curricular activities- Allowed if related to books, sports, quizzing, performing arts, community work etc as long as it does not interfere in their regular activities and is not over or dangerous. If a group of friends want to take off on their own for a trip, I may not allow that unless we are convinced it is worth it or unless they are old enough. Agreed travel widens the perspective, makes one independent but I have to allow that based on thir age and how responsible they are.
6. Music/ Video CD's/ DVD's- Allowed but a few months after the release, if they still want it. I will encourage them to buy the original stuff and not go around downloading because I want thm to enjoy and appreciate quality sound and listening experience rather than listen just for the sake of listening.
They say kids have a lot of pester power in major household purchases. This lot is getting smarted day by day. So how as a parent am I going to match their step and still exercise control is the question.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Mush Post

I will have to admit that I have become one of the many who admire my husband for his business acumen. I have known it for a while that he was sharp but seeing him in his element at close quarters and mutely participating in the decisions he is taking and strategies he is devising, me, his boss, is forced to grudgingly admire him. I fail to understand where he learnt all this, it was for sure not taught in our MBA school, if it was, what was I doing when they were teaching all this?
So where did he learn it? During his first job? Where he set up a medical transcription unit under the hawk-eye of the European settler? Or in the latter one when he started travelling abroad closing design-software deals with diamond merchants & Prestige brand owners or in the last one where he was the VP Sales and partnered with Government/ Private companies for launching software products/services? I don't know when he imbibed all the learning and don't know how he is managing to multitask in our new company when he cannot do simple tasks like watching TV & keeping an eye on the kids and replying to my query at the same time!
I always thought I was the smarter one because I could multi task, I could read books when he couldn't, I could differentiate brands and odours and tastes and I could get a good bargain or find a better store or write better english but I now set my ego aside and admit that he is the smarter one- street smart and worldly wise.
He has been invited by our MBA school to be a speaker in their STAR panel where they will invite one person each from sports, civil services, media, young entrepreneur field and the likes. He refused but then promised to attend incase they cannot find any other entrepreneur to participate because the school must hear from someone who has achieved to an extent rather than somone who has just started.
Psst...I post this in grudging admiration, knowing that he is never going to read it!

Monday, March 03, 2008

On How Much is Too Much

The blogosphere is discussing about the priviledges wrt education across timespans.
Here I record my two-bit on the subject.
Three decades ago, the only concern for parents was all-girls/ boys school or co-ed school among the so many convent schools in a town like mine. You either take that or end up in a co-ed government school. A metro was more advanced in the sense, public schools and co-education was the accepted norm and the debate was always between the merits of either kind and the fantastic class X results that each school boasted of every year. The fight was between CBSE and ICSE with or without State Board added to the pool. But in Bihar, State board was not even discussed as an option.
Teaching methods were not debated. The syllabi was not debated and standard of teachers were a given or rather expected to be the best considering the ranking of the school in the city.
Today, the parameters have changd. The bar has moved. And the factors that go into selecting a school for our child has changed. We have a school for your child depending upon the method of education you want for your child. We have a school for montessory philosophy, another for regular, another for academic-bent school and another for holistic- philosophy. To each his own.
Loosly comparing it to any product in the market, the consumers have a choice of specifications (variants) to play with but not enough volume of schools(production), branches (SKU's) or seats (capacity). Today it is not enough that you register your child when the time comes. It is not even enough if you go there when your child is 6 months old. You end up in the waiting list. You need to register when you are carrying your child. Then you can be assured of a seat. We faced this- we had gone in 2006 for admission in 2009 and were waitlisted and a friend got admission for her unborn kid but not the kid who was of age for nursery. There are other schools of normal fees structure that will admit students within 5-km radius only. Fair enough for those who live within that radius! And there are others where we pay exorbitant sums and then confer with the Delhi/ Mumbai counterparts and breath a sigh of relief that the scene in Chennai is not as bad as other cities and consider ourselves lucky. Let's leave out the logistics, availibility and finances of admissions and park these thoughts here for the moment- more so because getting the right school according to my perspective within our affordibility bracket has been relatively easier.
My perspective about selecting the right school is driven out of other factors, some shallow and some profound like-
1. Do I feel a kinship with the surroundings? Will I like going back to it everyday for a large and the most important part of my life? Will my face light up with anticipation each day when I walk in here? I am assuming that if I like it, my kids will also like it, considering that they are too young to decide for themselves. This is my first factor because this is what my school meant to me. I loved the space, I loved the building, the classrooms, the playground. I loved it when it was hot and I loved it when it was raining and we walked under the trees teeth chattering under our umbrellas and in our raincoats. Chatting nineteen to a dozen while boarding our buses to go back home. We loved the sand pit and we loved sitting under or climbing on the mango trees (the fruits of which we were strictly forbidden to pluck). Well, I eat my words, even if Ojas & Tejas cannot decide for themselves, they can definitely express their comfort or otherwise. Ojas has definitely taken to the idea and Tejas is still suspicious about the school. What was most heartening was that kids were refusing to go home after school and parents had to literally cajole and coax them to go home! That's my idea of a good school.
2. What is the quality of teachers? Their commitment levels? Are they teaching because they are passionate about teaching or because they have to? Probably I am trying to be idealistic but really, such people do exist. A colleague mentioned a teacher in The School who was so commited to teach there that he returned from abroad to join as a gardener until they had a vacancy for him. My ex-CEO used to take training workshops for the employees and clearly his energy and passion for people development was evident. Such people are rare but they exist and even a handful of such teachers will make a difference. Not that I can judge that from outside or reading the prospectus but I am hoping word-of-mouth and grapevine will alert me. And there will be a lot of PTA opportunities for me to judge. Today, a parent is not a parent of the student but also a consumer, a brand ambassador and more. A parent is expected to participate in the child's education not just be mute spectators or help with craft/ needlework stuff. This school assures that PTA meetings are also meant to take our voice to the administration. I am hopeful. Rather than shaking in my shoes at PTA's fearing what they will feedback on my children, I am hopeful I will look forward to the opportunity of a constructive interaction.
3. Holistic rather than completely academic - We used to be told, pay attention to your studies and don't participate in all extra-curriculars. If you are weak in a subject, keep working hard over it. Today the methodologies have changed. We are talking about focusing on our strengths and managing our weaknesses. We are talking about uncovering and tapping into our talents and following our passions. For parents who wish that their child focuses on academics, have endless tests to take and practice till they are perfected for the boards, there are options. But for parents like me who wish for more than just studies, there are options again. I have not been great shakes at anything other than academics. My school gave opportunities in the form of annual days and cultural days but no more than that. The school which I have chosen for the kids offer opportunities to take classes of choice and appoint instructors to train. They promote movie viewing on some Fridays and do a lot of activity and project based sessions- hands on, experimental and experiential, so to speak. I am not for a moment trying to disregard my education. It was the best of the lot in the city, a respected school and had earned a name for board results and quality of teachers. But today, we can do better than that. To me, a child is a mass of clay waiting to be moulded into shape. And we parents are facilitators or enablers helping the clay take it' s shape. The child needs the right opportunities that we parents can direct towards them. As parents, it is our duty to ensure that the opportunity is given, what the child does out of that depends on his ability, talent and willingness. But as a parent, I will strive towards getting the suitable opportunities available to him. Again it will be what we think as a right opportunity until the child can think for himself. Prodigies do exist but they are few in number. For the moment, I am not taking any risk and covering all possibilities. Giving my children more options so that when the time comes, they can choose between careers rather than be able to think of only doctor or engineering.
4. Infrastructure- We cannot escape technology. Any school that cannot keep up with the latest is out. Computers were in the nascent stage towards the end of my school life. Today kids know what a laptop is before classifying a PC as another computer. (Educational) toys in my time meant picture boards, mugs to pour water into a bucket (and believe me I refused to do that out of shyness in KG class), a rocking horse but today we have choice. Is the school keeping up? I would expect it to.
A friend congratulated me on the "huge investment" we have done- she meant school admissions. Well, the fees is definitely more than the other schools but the distance between the other best school that I had registered is not so much. And if that extra money gives me a self satisfaction, I am all for it. This school has a feel-good factor that I was looking for and that's enough for me. I am shallow probably but that's about it. And after all, how choosy can one get?

300th Post - Marks us famous

We get a mention here at Indian Shitizen