The Scorpios

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bangalore Calling

Another call centre book? Err, emm, ok, let me read. These were my first thoughts as I saw the book. But after the first chapter I was eager to move. Wondering at every point, so where does this lead to? What is this character's story? Will this loop close at the end of the book? 15 stories that does just that. Set in the backdrop of the call centre phenomenon, the lives of these 11 and more characters get entwined with one another. One person's cacophony is another person's music. The seemingly invincible CEO or even the resourceful Admin head both who are at the helm of affairs in their respective purview, have their own demons to beat. The insignificant maid has her own story and in her own way she has affected the life of one particular agent. There are links- one to one, one to many, many to one. One sees events happening in isolation and in the subsequent chapters, is taken back, zoomed out to see it in a larger context. Ultimately these stories blend into one big story, or perhaps a part of a bigger whole? Go on, read more details on flashnewstoday.com in the new book review section

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro

For someone who has loved the movie without even understanding the underlying black humour pointing at the corruption within the system, it is a treat to be able to read a thorough analysis of the same. A book that takes one through the journey of the movie from the time it was a twinkle in Kundan Shah's eyes to the conception, the collaborative making to the final cut. I remember the movie from Doordarshan era and while I was re introduced to it through Jai Arjun's book, I trawled through you tube and watched the various bits of the movie yet again. I am glad it is still funny to me, even more since I could now understand the black comedy even better. Jai Arjun has humanised and de fantasised the makers and actors for me. I could appreciate the efforts that went behind the making, just to make it look so effortless for the viewers. I could feel their frustrations as the scenes didn't do well or the conditions were not conducive and the weariness of going through the motions to make people laugh. Go on here at flashnewstoday.com for a more academic review and allow me to be whimsical over here- my own space. Book- Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro Author- Jai Arjun Singh Publisher- Harper Collins Price- Rs 250

Mice in Men


Can a single moment of truth or act of kindness or bravery change the lives and attitude of people for ever?

Apparently it does very little to rouse the unknown positive or sometimes even otherwise character traits of a simple, ordinary person.

Mice in Men by Anirban Bose, author from Ranchi (err my town), writes 10 tales of such men and women who rediscover their surprising character traits.

Bansuri Lal becomes Bahadur Lal in true sense, a psychiatrist finds himself at the receiving end, and despite the tempations of fate, an ordinary boy does something really and truly great.

A simple Balloon seller is at the recieving end of the largesse of a struggling doctor, or perhaps it is the other way round.

The world's greatest Oiban is perhaps autobiographical, a heartwarming story which I as a parent can identify with- to a child the parent is the greatest. And perhaps to a parent, that is all we care for? That is all the greatness we definitely want? Or rather, we cannot do without?

10 such tales with unexpected twists in the end.

Title- Mice in Men Author- Anirban Bose Publisher- Harper Collins Price- Rs 199

Monday, March 28, 2011

April is CSA Month


All through April 2011 we bloggers are blogging about Child Sexual Abuse Awareness.


If you would like to add to the discussion or know somebody else who would, please note that we welcome entries a. mailed to csa.awareness.april@gmail.com OR

b. posted as FB notes and linked to Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month Page OR

c. posted on your own blog with the badge and linked to the main blog OR d. linked or posted on Twitter tagged twitter.com/CSAAwareness OR e. sent via some/all of the above methods The list of topics is available here. Anonymous contributions are accepted and requests for anonymity will of course be honoured. I will probably be hosting at least one guest post and encourage you to do the same for non-blogging friends. Please remember to send in a mail with all necessary links or just your input to csa.awareness.april@gmail.com so that we can track your contribution and make sure that it is not inadvertently lost or something. You can also support it simply by adding our the logo of the initiative in your blog's sidebar.

Grab the below code to do so

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Karma Bites Me Back

We always took pride in our English speaking skills and would make fun of my Mom's and assorted aunts' Bihari English.

So yesterday was the day of retribution.

It took me a lot of unlearning to stop saying kan-gaaa-roo. But sometimes I do slip back into that mode and yesterday says Tejas-
Kangaaaroo? it is Kain-ga- roo Mamma!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Toys

So the kids finally got their beyblades after much of searching for them out of stock toys and tears of frustration from the kids' end.
And the husband got a dart board for himself.
The kids have appropriated the dart board and play with them and during one such play, one dart vanished.
Dadda- why are you touching my toy?
Ojas- why are you playing with my beyblade?
Dadda- err....

Friday, March 18, 2011

An End and A Beginning

So there. I have done it before and I have done it again today. And they are calling me back. Well, they made a mistake once and they are doing it again! So perhaps it was not a mistake.
It does feel nice to be called back. Because it makes you feel good about yourself. And you realize perhaps you were valued after all!

I have gone through a gamut of emotions the last 3 months. And today I am feeling truly very very sad.

Most importantly, I was happy and content here. I was at peace. I had an easy time. The less work pressure left me with a lot of time to devote to my children, a much needed thing during the last 4 plus years. I was taught, I was given respect, I was cared for. I loved the twisted sense of humour of my lunch companions.

I learnt new things. And most importantly I tasted many new and varied things in my line of work. I learnt my wasabis and galangals and even beefs without eating beef in the real sense. I ate my first centrefilled gum here. I have eaten more types and quantity of chocolates during the last 4 years than my entire lifetime perhaps. (And I hate to go- it will cut off my perpetual chocolate supply for ever)

I carved a niche for myself in presentation making.

I did many things and perhaps it is time to do more. Enhanced role, more responsibility, more learning.

Wish me Luck!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What Did You Do In School Today?

Invariably Ojas answers- hum learn kiya! I learned.
Something about his answer just warms my heart. Both he and Tejas then go on to explain the various activities they did in school, but the key message remains- I learned!
Are we doing that?
Are we learning?
Are we just doing our mundane activities or are we learning something new anyday?

I simply love the attitude and I learn this from him!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What Happens When I Hear a Certain Type of News?

My limbs begin to shake, a sick feeling begins to start at the pit of my stomach, I lose focus in my work, I break up into a cold sweat and an extreme weariness takes over my entire self.
Yes, this happens the moment I hear that the maid is not coming.
I have reached a certain stage in my life when the tone of the entire day depends upon the arrival of this all important person in life- the maid. Until she comes, I have something nagging at the back of my head. Every happy episode of the day like coming to know the bonus figures or getting a surprise phone call from the kids seems to be clouded by something. Until I hear that the maid is safely inside the house happily working and banishing the dirt demons of the house. Then on, the day seems bright and sunshiny and I appreciate the joy in the little little pleasures of life-like a gulabjamun served at the office lunch or simply completing the task of a bill payment.
I am an total disaster when the maid goes away. I curse, I cry, I fume, I scream at every available person or non person.
I then use all resources to hunt for availabe maid- anyone who is willing to do just dishes. I call friends, neighbours, maids who have phones. I beg, cajole and follow up if they agree to come which is not very often.
Then I collect myself and begin to say to self- ah well, atleast she will be back tomorrow or the day after. Atleast it is not permanent. Just do it today. I then go about the laborious task of attacking dirty dishes, washing clothes and say to myself thank God I have a machine, scrub sink tops and say to myself atleast because the maid is not there, the sink top is looking cleaner. The husband vacuums- ah another positive- atleast the house gets to have the monthly vacuuming done because of her absence. And after that initial starting prolem, on pure inertia I do the jhaadoo, pocha, bartan, kapda the next day and the next until the maid madam arrives.
And I vow to myself, never again will I let myself get into this situation.
And so the hunt for the second maid begins. She will be my back up. A lower salary one. The one who comes early morning and does atleast half the job. The one who will go the extra mile if the second one takes leave. The one who will never take leave without informing me. Or rather, will never take leave. The one who will live at walking distance, will have a phone and will come even if I call her to work at odd hours. Basically, she will be accessible at all times, all days, round the year. Even though I do not need her. I just want her to be there. Eventually she will become my main maid and the current one will become a back up and I, from this position of power, will negotiate with her on her awful timings, or chores that she gives a miss or even cut her salary if she takes too many leaves.

But it is not easy.
My Standard Operating Protocol for Maid Hunt
1. Spread the word- talk to the maid encyclopedia of the building- the one who knows about every available maid, the building maid, the neighbour's maid, iron wallah, security, fish waali who has the advantage of knowing about maids in other buildings.
2. Go from flat to flat staring at their doorstep- if there is a pair of chappals which are likely to be a maid's, ring the bell even if you have never ever spoken to the occupants before. Ask for the maid without preamble. Because- they understand how it is like to be maidless. But, don't say you want their maid to work- say you want to ask their maid to find someone- because maid poaching is another feared thing- some people clam up the moment you say words to that effect. The drill is same when you speak to the maid- give flat number, timing when you need a maid, give a brief overview of the work load and extract a promise from her that she will bring her friend to work for you, then pray for the miracle.
3. Stare at every possible person in the vicinity. If they look like a maid- accost them.
4. Follow up- with 1 & 2 & 3 above.
5. Now when a maid comes you need to judge- do you tell the entire workload and fix upfront or just give a sketch and as she enters your home give additional responsibility and may be increase the salary thereby. Do you straightaway come to a final figure or negotiate upwards. Remember, there is no sure shot here. Some walk away the moment they hear the figure and you will never feel like calling them back even if you had a higher budget, while some will negotiate. Some name their price while others wait for you to open your trap then size you up.
6. Even if one agrees to come and work, the story does not end. They may not turn up and you lose a day and a half worth of maid hunt. So keep the search on even then.
7. Even if they join work, there is no guarantee that they will last the month even. Believe me, I have changed 6 last year and have already experienced 2 this month alone. Therefore, rinse, repeat until you get a feeling that the new one has settled.
8. And as you begin to have good thought for her and start thinking of giving her a big bonus inspite of she not completing even a year of service, or start thinking of giving her a hike as she completes a year, or plan to give her some more work because, after all, the workload isn't as much as you initially spoke of- she throws a googly and quits.
9. Rinse, repeat 1-8.
10. Now a word of caution- never hire 2 people from the same family- if someone dies or someone is born, both will take leave at the same time. Also, even if with each passing maidless day you increase your walkaway salary for the new maid, the next one will throw a figure which is phenomenally higher. No matter how much impatient you are to hire, never hire someone if you plan to throw her out eventually after you get a better one- her gang of friends will never let you hire another one and you will be stuck with her ultimately.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Gaming- 1000th Post

The kids have got majorly interested into playing games on the mobile. Without any formal training from any of us. I thought I could postpone this disease for sometime but no. It has struck and done irrevocable damage. To save our mobile phones, I bought them a cheapo 100 bucks hand held gaming which lasted exactly 24 hours and was so very boring. Every piece and every button got separated into its 3 components. Finally I managed to buy the HCL gaming (thanks AD) and turns out the batteries last for just 3 hours. Needless to say the 2 kids are blaming each other- battery finish kar diya. Contrary to popular believe I have picked up only 1. Let me see how long this lasts. Then I will venture to buy the second one. Until then, they are, much to my surprise taking turns in playing 1 game each. Bonhomie...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Chanakya's Chant

Last month Kiran had a contest running on her blog wherein we had to send our favourite Chanakya maxim. The winners would receive a free copy of Ashwin Sanghi's Chanakya's Chant to review.

Without knowing anything about the book, without taking a sneak peak of the various reviews, I sent her my favourite quote that established women power across -

"Women have hunger two-fold, shyness four-fold, daring six-fold, and lust eight-fold as compared to men"

I received the book 2 days later and turns out that the book does talk of the rise of a woman to power.

From the word go, I was hooked. It was the kind of book that makes one want to turn to the last page and see how it ends.

There are 2 tales running parallely- one about 2300 years before our time which details the ascent of Chandragupta Maurya to the throne of Pataliputra under the sole guidance of master strategist and politician Chanakya and one of the present day- the rise of Chandni Gupta to the post of PM under the mentorship of Pandit Gangasagar Mishra- A professor by profession but a politician by heart.

I cannot decide which tale gripped my attention better. Because everytime the switchover happened, I would find it difficult to come to terms with the change. I would curb the urge to turn over to the following chapter and continue reading the story of the same era. The Chanakya era was according to me better written and had a better flow, the present era was a little disjointed - akin to a collage of news snippets, yet I appreciate this endeavour to use these snippets to keep the larger flow of the story intact.

Chanakya's era ends with a chant and the heart of the story in the current era begins right from the chant.

There are parallels that can be drawn for both stories but the most interesting aspect of Chanakya's era was the so called chemical warfare that Chanakya wages against the enemies- the use of his knowledge of deadly chemicals and the respective antidotes to fight the war. I guess historically this would be a first? Correct me if I am wrong- this is not the use of common garden variety poison throughout the course of history but a very organised and methodical approach to the handling of the deadly chemicals.


While reading the Chanakya section was like my school history classes unfolding before me, reading the present day story was like taking a lesson in the current day political arithmetic, conspiracy theory and political+ economic game - ie going back to the root of it all- the Arthashastra- pun intended.


One realises as one reads both eras- the story is the same, politics, corruption, oneupmanship, greed, quest for power- the protagonists are different.

I wish there was a map detailing the geographic relevance of the Chanakya era as compared to today- it helps to visualize better- like it did for me in the Mughal series.



If you are someone who was always fascinated by the story of Chanakya, or if you are someone who understand and appreciate how present day politics work or if you simply like a good story well written for today's audience go for this book. It will not disappoint you.


Perhaps there is a lesson here, perhaps there is an inspiration here, or perhaps there is just a thrilling story here. Anywhichway, it is a treat to the reader.

Also reviewed Here


Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Meet the Dancers

Tejas did the rain dance- dancing and swaying to its a rainy day together with an umbrella pop and Ojas was in the Michael Jackson dance troupe. They did their steps perfectly but I wish they were focusing on smiling and dancing rather than appearing so serious!

But I know they had fun practising for it. Inspite of missing a whole week of practice- they came back and performed with perfection- so the teachers told me.
Meanwhile in another news, Tejas has surprised his class by reading a newspaper section completely by himself and Ojas has received the remark- very good handwriting in his homework book.
In response to praise for Tejas- Ojas spent a good 20 minutes reading 4 story books and instructed me to tell his mam that he has read 4 story books on his own!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

My Views on Women's Day

errrr
Forget it, I am just not cut out for writing such stuff. Instead let me just write what I did today which I do anyway irrespective of it being women's day or not.

Just wore a nice dress with this jazzy dupatta which made me feel instantly good about myself...

...because I was going out for lunch with friend AD.

We did lunch - where else- at Barbecue Nation and stuffed our faces until full.

In the evening, I am meeting another friend NS- funny thing is that it is more like a playdate- and funny because all our life we have been having so called play dates with each other and now we are doing the same with our children.

And I am also reading Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron and appreciating the making of a well loved comedy.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Frog & Toad


R Mami gave the kids 2 books from the frog & toad series- frog & toad are friends & Frog & toad together.
These reader books are by Arnold Lobel and talk of everyday situations that all of us face.
Whether it is the cycle of eating, cookies in this case where frog & toad try their best to stop eating the cookies and keep saying one last piece and continue without stopping. Isn't it what all of us do- kids and adults alike?
Or the way our minds seem to go blank the moment our kids ask us for an impromptu story.
Or how we expect seeds to grow into plants the moment we plant them and then spend the next 3-4 days looking at the spot eagerly and the moment we stop looking- out props an entire bunch of saplings.
Simple stories that bring out the concept of hibernation or a habit of making lists and crossing outthe activities.
Fun stories that the kids enjoyed listening to. One of the few story books they have which consists of many chapter books in a single book.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Ojas Teaches Me

Teja & me had a big argument over the homework. He made a vague promise of doing a page of his home work provided I fulfilled his request. I did and he didn't do his page. So we argued into the night until finally Tejas did his one page.
Post that, Ojas whispered into my ear- Mamma, you must kiss him now!

Friday, March 04, 2011

Currently Reading

3 books parallely. One book on world myths & legends, another chiklit set in the US and the most gripping one - Chanakya Chants by Ashwin Sanghi which runs parallely between two eras.
I am really finding it difficult to fight the intertia while switching from one era to another or one country to totally another realm.
For the moment I reserve my comments on the books, they deserve a proper review not a sneak preview. Which is taking time because of the parallel processing that I am doing.
Chanakya chants- because I am eager to read that, and the rest because I need to finish them and return to the library!
So how do you read?
One book at a time until you reach the finish line?
Or multiple books at a time- if so how many can you easily manage?
How do you feel after reading one genre... you want to read more of the same or are you eager to switch to something totally different- I find myself virtually living in the time frame the book was set until a while!
How many people compete with you in the household for the same book- I am glad I have no competition in this regard though I would love to share the same book with someone else also so that we could have a good discussion on the books. It is fun when some girls from the neighbourhood drop by and discuss the latest books they have read. Makes me wish I had married atleast 5/6 years before I actually did and therefore I could have had a daughter in her tweens and we would be reading the same books and discussing clothes and TV serials and all that interesting things.
Ah well.
On another note, my Nokia N8 has arrived, courtsey J & C from Nokia. They have been extremely perceptive about my keen desire to possess the orange colour rather than the black one- err- courtsey that blatant post. They have invited me to participate in their phase 2 of promo activities and watch this space until I get a briefing on what I need to do and admire my phone too....

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Adultish Sarcasm

Mamma- How did you learn to play the brick game on my mobile Ojas?
Tejas- I will tell you. He learnt through his buttocks, not his brain.

Now where did that come from ?

Meanwhile, I am ashamed to say that my kids have become expert on the N8 touchscreen while I am still breaking my head over it.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

A Romantic Interlude

The husband makes an unscheduled drop to my office, armed with chocolate cake from Coffee Day.
We romantically eat 1.5 large pieces together.
The husband smirks- Did you go to the gym today?

Does he prefer me fat? I ask. Why is he doing his to me? And I was not even in the mood to eat chocolate cake.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

This Blog Has Been Removed

Yes that was the message I got when I logged on to see my blog yesterday.
The blog had disappeared from the face of google. Was not even appearing on searches. Neither on my dashboard.
When a scheduled post did not appear on my email, I got suspicious and logged on to the blog. Imagine the shock. Colour draining from my face, stomach cramps and restlessness and crankiness and all that. I rooted around, did searches, mailed to friends to check the blog. Looked for the xml I had saved yonks ago and could find only a word document of posts.

And dear Monika called from Lavasa the moment she heard of it. So sweet of her. Like a mother hen she did lots of virtual clucking and hand holding and smsing into the evening and adviced me to go to bukvorm who put in a very strong word to those who matter. Soundest advice I guess as perhaps that worked because blogger forums had a very negative picture of getting back your blogs quickly.
Parallely I went to blogger help and posted a request to bring my blog back to life in their forum and also logged my blog name on their spreadsheet.
I called google and they assured me that going through the help forum is the surest and fastest way to get the blog back and that there is no contact person to whom I could voice my concerns.
Meanwhile Cee the expert put her head on to it and gave me lots of links to go through and offered a massive help to try and figure out things for me.
I bugged people, cried on their virtual shoulders, pestered everyone including the husband to work the magic through his team.
Friends mailed me asking about the site.
Thank you all of you for missing the blog as much as I did. I realised how important it is to me. Even though I have a back up of all posts on a word file and on email and comments on the email, it is really not the same - because the blog also is made of comments in real time. I couldn't possibly post back all comments on each post.
I agonised the entire night. And had vivid dreams of typing the url and finding my site back in action.
This morning I woke up and straight went onto the site. Voila, it was back.
The first thing what I did was-
Go to dashboard settings- basic- blogging tools
and Exported my blog onto an xml.
The xml took some time considering the years of work and loads of pics on them.
And then I made a private blog (yeah blogspot again as this seemed the simplest and quickest at that point of time) and imported this xml onto it. Being a private blog, it is not open to spam comments which could be a reason for blog removal or perhaps some maintenance issue where my site got caught.
Now I am evaluating a few options-
1. Put an alternate blog version on wordpress.
or
2. Go to my own domain.
What say readers?
Meanwhile as a standard operating protocol, I will back up my blog every week. And import it to the private blog.
Comment moderation would help? Atleast I can avoid spams being posted.
I went through my emails & spam comment inbox in blogger and rooted out spam comments and deleted them dilligently from the blog archives.
The world seems a happier place today.