Friday, June 7, 2019

SHORT STORY - Don't stay late at work

It wasn't so loud in the day. But at that time of the night, the tick tick of the digital clock was obnoxiously obvious.
She gritted her teeth in anxiety, looking from the clock to her boss and then back.
The blue suit sat across the table, a stray pen in one hand and the phone receiver crouched between his ear and shoulder.
Oblivious of the girl sitting across the table from him, he spoke into the phone…
“Now here’s a better one…Why does Santa come with a huge sack?"
She grimaced, trying to ignore his voice. This never went well, really…the same dirty jokes, the constant bawdy banter, never upfront...but still, non stop dirty talk.
“No. Take another guess, d******d!” he spoke to the person at the other end of the phone.
He sneakily glanced to see if she was listening in. She wondered if there was really another person at the end of the line.
“Ok. I’ll tell you then,” he continued… “its because he comes only once a year.”
“Haa haa haa haa haa haa. Got that??? Comes!!!!" His obnoxious laughter echoed and bounced across the walls of the room.
"Ok. Here's another one..." Oh my god. He went on and on.
It was a sneaky and underhanded manner in which this man harrowed his young interns. She had been warned...but she needed the job.
She couldn’t take it any more. She glanced at the clock. Five minutes to twelve. She needed to leave. Much too late for anyone to be working.
Standing up with haste, her ID badge cluttered and fell to the table.
Pausing midway between the call, he looked up at her.
“Sir, I need to leave.” Mustering courage, she spoke.
He covered the mouth piece with one hand.
“Sit. This will take only a few minutes. I’m talking to an old friend.”
“I think you were informed that this job required late hours.”
“But sir…” she opened her mouth to protest once more. But he signaled for her to sit down and swiveled his chair, faced the wall and continued his inappropriate banter.
It took another three minutes for him to finish his call.
“Ok now, let me have a look at the file…” he said, turning around noisily, in his fancy chair.

His heart literally stopped.

The gorgeous face of his intern was now a peeling mass of rotten, melting flesh…
...eyes, flaming red, as hot as his jokes...
...her curls snarling and hissing and coming towards him like wild forest snakes,
...butchered stubs for fingers which dripped blood.
Her sad, apologetic she extended those stubs and clasped his neck.It must have been his last breath when his eyes rolled over one last time and spotted her ID.
Her nice passport photo, with her designation...Assistant Secretary, and then her name below it…
The next day, a janitor found him, face down on his table, eyes still open.
They said that his heart had stopped beating somewhere between 11:59 and 12:01.


Saturday, July 28, 2018

3 must-see series for women on Netflix and Amazon Prime

So transition from TV entertainment, to the internet is complete. Now I am just one phone call away from disconnecting my cable subscription. In the meanwhile, the last I heard was that a bunch of you were hissing at the umpteenth season of a shape shifting reptile who is ruling the prime time nowadays. Or if you don't have the stomach for it, some of you, I hear, are having to eat an insipid diet of kitchen wars and neighbourhood gossips. I was beginning to think that there was no hope for female kind at least in the entertainment business...until I came across these series.

So I implore you to finally cut the umbilical cord between you and terrible content being churned out in the name of are 3 series which you must catch up on the Internet. Strong, interesting and layered female characters, women who you can laugh with and at and most importantly, stories which stay with you long after you have turned off that WiFi button.
A story about two old ladies in their 70s living in California, USA. How interesting can a couple of women in their seventies get?  Well, you are about to know.
Image result for grace and frankieThe series begins with the reveal that their husbands who are business partners are also...wait for it...homosexuals and in love with one another. And if that was not all, they want to leave their female spouses to marry each another. Reeling from this shock much late in life, these woman are forced to live together in their beach house which they co-own. And while it may seem that this is the end of the road for them...wait up sisters...the fun is about to begin.
From getting in touch with their exes to making new successfully launching a vaginal lubricant as well as a vibrator for older women and getting in touch with their sexuality...this series is truly an eye opener and inspiring for millions of women out there who have given up on themselves.

Pushpavalli (her name, ironically, means 'Creeper') is a single woman in her 20s who has developed a single minded obsession for a man she met briefly for a few days in her home town, in Bhopal.

Ever since, she has been plotting and planning to plant herself (pun intended) into his life. And with a lot of conniving, bribing the local Chai boy aptly named T-Boi, she even succeeds. But she will not stop at mere re-acquaintance. Pushpavalli has got it inside her head that the man will love her right back. And we all know how that turns out.
Image result for pushpavalli
With each passing episode, we realize that Pushpavalli is becoming more and more obsessive and will stop at nothing, including self-harm, misleading and lying compulsively. The height of her plight is when she actually resorts to kidnapping the man's diabetic pet and pretending to search for the pooch along with the man. Do you think what she does is wrong?

So, a lot of you may argue...why should Pushpavalli and her criminal tendencies be of any interest to us? 

Well, because Pushpavalli knows exactly what she wants and she will stop at nothing to get it. Even if it means breaking into the house of the man she is obsessed about. She may not be honest with others around her...but this woman is very in touch with her feelings and she is honest with herself. Move over you slimy, slithery shape shifting female characters in the name of entertainment. We need some more real women like these.  

Image result for the marvelous mrs maiselWhile her husband aspires to become a stand-up comic, this one can make you pee in your pants and she knows it. So when her husband leaves her with two kids to traipse into the sunset with...well, yes...his secretary, she takes matters and the mike into her own hands one drunken night and from there on begins her journey into the male-dominated and fiercely protected territory of stand-up comedy. Crackling dialogues, some wonderful chemistry between the characters, excellent writing...something which you will rarely, if at all find in the limpid stuff which is being meted out today, in the name of TV. 

Start with these series and then ease into the more serious stuff.

NOTE: The images are all sourced from the internet.

Monday, February 26, 2018

What we learnt from Sridevi’s life, her roles and why her death is a loss for women

It will be needless to say that Sridevi’s death is an irreparable loss not only to the movie industry, but to a generation of women who grew up during the times when movies were largely about machismo, unrealistic male protagonists and largely sidelined and stereotypical female movie characters.

Sridevi commanded a presence like no other heroine of her times could. Movies and characters were woven around her and she brought to the table, a lot more than entertainment. This was, in itself a feat, which no other female actor could accomplish.

She came as a breath of her fresh air in an industry which was used to doling out weepy mothers who needed their sons to pay for their cough medicines to sisters who needed their brothers to avenge their rapes to married women who needed husbands to run their home and hearth.

Every character she played in all her movies, there was a strong woman inside of her.

The titular Chandani…she taught us that it was better to walk off from a toxic relationship rather than settle for the abuse.

Pooja from Lamhe, she knew exactly what she wanted and came armed with a game plan for it.

The fiery and streetsmart Anju from Chaalbaaz, one of my favourite characters…she taught us how to live life exactly on our own terms and kick ass, whenever required.

Her Shashi Godbole, from English Vinglish taught us that nothing…and no one in this world, can stop us from getting where we want to be. She taught us about grace and humility and that no matter who you were or where you came from, you could leave your mark on this world.

With her swan song, Mom, she taught us that it was always best to take matters in our own hands instead of waiting for some messiah to save us.

What she gave the film industry, and most importantly to all of us women…were characters from which we could draw inspiration and most of all, strength.

Sridevi never played second fiddle in any of her movies. In fact, even during a time when she was surrounded with megastars like Amitabh Bachchan, Rajnikant, Sunny Deol, Rishi Kapoor and Anil Kapoor, she single handedly took over the screen whenever she came on it. I can’t think of a single actress who brought such a plethora of female characters to Indian movies.

Apart from movies, her life too, played out exactly what she wanted. She did the roles she believed in, married the men who she wanted to, in spite all the odds, took a backseat from her thriving career and gave her hundred percent to her daughters, who I am sure, are as strong as her and finally, came back to give us two well written and unforgettable characters, that of Shashi Godbole from English Vinglish…and Devki, from Mom. This was just the beginning…but the end came, much too soon.

In Sridevi, it’s not one actress that we have lost. What we have lost is all those future women characters who could have continued to inspire millions of young women to come in the future. Her loss, if anything at all, has left a Sridevi shaped hole in this universe.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Review: Origin

Origin Origin by Dan Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

1. Great one time read. It goes on and on towards the end, I thought, but I still wanted to finish it since it was quite enthralling.
2. While reading, I thought that the end will be lame but I was pleasantly surprised. Of all his books, the end of this book brought home a few truths which are staring at us in the face.
3. If you want to read Dan Brown, be equipped with your Wikipedia page open on your computer or mobile phone. There are so many historical facts thrown in and most of his books feature some real places. It is quite a treat to look them up while reading the book, so as to a clearer picture of the proceedings in the novel.

View all my reviews

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Recipe - Thukpa (from Ladakh)

So my husband returned yesterday from Ladakh and he told me about this exquisite and delicately spiced noodle soup which they had as a staple diet throughout the ride.

This is what it looks like and I tried to make it today.

Here's the recipe:
It's quite simple.
1. Boil just a handful of noodles with a bit of salt.
2. Heat oil and add some minced garlic and chopped green chillies.
3. Add a cup of onion. Cook till translucent. Add chopped tomatoes. Cook well.
4. Add veggies of your choice. Cabbage, French beans, mushrooms, cabbage, corn, carrots etc. If you want the non-veg version, add shredded chicken.
5. Saute and let them turn soft.
6. Add garam masala (just a tad pinch), red chilly powder (pinch), black pepper powder, salt and chicken masala (even for the veg version). I also added some Maggi magic masala.
7. Add water and let it boil, like soup. When it's done, add the noodles and top it up with coriander. You can add a spot of vinegar too, if you want a tangy taste.
Check on the net. There are many variations of this recipe.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Review: Maya's New Husband

Maya's New Husband Maya's New Husband by Neil D'Silva
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read and finished this book in a day. But I wished I had waited to read it. That's because currently, my pet dog has a terrible skin condition, the sky is dismal and dark and it has been raining for a couple of days and my maid just infirmed me that a dead body washed up by the shore at a beach close to my residence. There is enough in the world, already to be mortified about and then there's this book. It's just added an extra layer of 'dismal' to my mood. Then why the four stars?

I normally associate horror fiction with ghosts lurking in the cupboard and beds moving around in the middle of the night and that sort of imaginary stuff. So when I picked up this book, I fully expected to read it with my eyes closed, as I normally do, when I am encountered with a stray horror movie on the TV screen. But this book is not that sort of horror. This has nothing to do with those things we cannot see or comprehend. It is about the ghosts that lie deep within us. Monsters who walk around us, live and eat and breathe with is, in the garb of human beings. And the possibility that this can happen to any of us, that is the most horrific feeling of all.

To begin with, if you are a fan of crime and gore and shows like Criminal Minds and Dexter, and movies like the 'chainsaw massacre' series are your thing, this book may suit your 'palate'. Pardon the obvious pun. You'll know what I am talking about when you read the book.

The book had me hooked from the first page. It's quick and fast paced, breezy reading. Though, I skipped a lot of paragraphs simply because some parts were too gory for my taste. Honestly, there's no suspense in this book. From the start you know what is going to happen and you just have to go along with this journey till it meets it's logical end, which is also quite predictable. So don't expect a literary masterpiece, this one. But yes, with its simple and lucid language, and a breezy pace, the book makes for a quick and easy read. The writer has very effectively brought the scenes to life with his narrative.

I don't recommed that you read it on a plane or train ride. Choose a nice sunny day, when everything seems perfect. So when you are finished with this book, you can get back to the rainbows and ribbons, happy sunshine and chirping birds (alive) outside your bedroom window and not feel so dismal after all.

View all my reviews

Monday, May 8, 2017

My favourite ad!!!

If you are a reader and live to read, you will instantly connect with this ad. It's the best...of course, as is the product. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Gifting ideas for mothers (and no, I'm not talking about juicers, mixers, jewellery, clothes or perfumes.)

Mother's Day is around the corner. What are you thinking of getting for your mom? A very popular departmental store is advertising special gifts for Mother's Day. Mixers and juicers and blenders and bakery items et al. Stereotypical, isn't it? Their marketing team needs to delve deeper into the 'mommy psyche' in the modern age jewellery, kitchenware, clothes, makeup, chocolates, flowers...oh my god! The most stereotyped and overrated gifts for mother's day. Think deeply...think like your mother. What she would like...and you will realise that there is a wealth of items out there which are not even being considered as potential gifts.   Here are some items which can make for some excellent gifts for your mums. Feel free to add to this list.

1. Apple TV/ Chromecast

These are fantastic gadgets which convert your phone into an instant transmitter and whatever you see on your phone is mirrored on your TV. So you could be watching a movie on your screen and with the help of these gadgets, all you need is a wifi connection (which most of us have) and viola...transmit any video from your phone to the TV set. I recently bought a Chromecast for my mother and grandmother. They have become online content addicts. They watch plays, old movies and what not available for free on youtube, movies, documentaries which are never ever transmitted on TV. These gadgets are easy to use and cost between 3000 to about 10000 and some even more. But they are worth every paisa. A makes for a truly wonderful gift...and I speak with personal experience.

2. Kindle/ Kobo/ Nook et al. (E-book readers)
I know a lot of women who love to read. An ebook reader is a blessing for all of us who love to read. E-readers are a technological marvel (after air conditioning) and a blessing for all those of us who live to read. And honestly, for all those of you who like to read, it doesn't matter whether it is an ebook or a normal paperback. Words are the same. This is a perfect gift for all those mums who love reading. Just also get her an unlimited library subscription of whatever gadget you buy for her.

3. Sports Shoes and fitness bands
I have to admit. The older generation is a lot more health conscious then the younger lot. My mother and grandmother as well as my in-laws, they don't go a single day without their morning walks, yoga sessions etc. A good pair of sturdy walking or running shoes can add a spring to their step and motivate them further. The same goes for fitness bands cum trackers which are quite a rage nowadays and can help keep them a track of their daily activities.

4.  Colouring books and brush pens
Colouring books are a fantastic stress buster. I've tried those myself and I am hooked on to these wonderful colouring pages. Colouring books will make for great gifts for Mother's Day. Best stress busters ever.

5. Membership for her favourite hobby class
They may have wanted to do it for so long but they won't do it. Unless you don't prompt and prod, they will think that paying money for a hobby class, that too for their own selves, it is a complete waste of money. So why don't you sign them up for something which they truly love doing? Some of them want to learn the keyboard, some want to learn French and yet others want to sample with scuba diving. Find the thing she loves and just set her off on this new exciting hobby. She will discover a whole new side to her.

Do you have any more ideas? Please feel free to add to the list. Let me kow what else can make for some excellent presents for your mom! Add in the comments section and I will update this list.

Please note: This article is purely written as a personal choice. I have NOT been paid by any of the brands which have been mentioned in the article and this is NOT a promotional piece. It is purely for information.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Dog and the Elephant

This beautiful story came to me as a forward on facebook. At one time or the other, we have been riddled with self-doubt. We constantlt compare ourselves with other people and things...even in circumnstances that we cannot control. Therefore, this story makes such a wonderful point and puts things in perspective. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Instant Dosa Mix Recipe

So I found this excellent recipe for an instant dosa mix on Hebbar's Kitchen. A page which I follow on youtube. This is a quick and easy mix.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

When they found Sridevi's lost sister

When I was a girl, my father had subscribed to the magazine 'Cine Blitz' which was delivered, each and every month, to his office address. One evening, my father came home looking very excited.

Opening his Samsonite briefcase (yes, those were the days when all respectable office going people had to carry a briefcase), he brouhgt out the latest issue of Cine Blitz. Now remember, those were the days of limited TV and there wasn't much of a concept of Page 3 back, so we got most of our filmy gossip in magazines. Month on month, we would wait for the issue to be delivered. And we would take turns to devour the filmy gossip. 

So coming back to the point, calling out to my mom, my dad waved the magazine in front of me looking very excited. 

Actual Cover of Cine Blitz
"It seems that Sridevi had a beautiful sister hidden away somewhere and no one in the world knew about it."

"What?" I was more excited than my mother. There she was, on the cover of this magazine. Flawless complexion, beautiful beautiful woman. An apt sibling for the superstar. How could she be hidden for so long? And why did she have to reveal herself now? You can see for yourself, how beautiful this unknown woman was. 

I don't remember exactly how and when this was revealed but a few days later, we came to know that this was not Sridevi's sister. She wasn't related to Sridevi in any way. And what was the most shocking news? She wasn't even a woman!!!

As we shocked as we all were, it turns out that this was one of the most elaborate pranks ever played on the readers of Cine Blitz. This was an April Fool prank. The person behind this face was none another than the fabulous actor Anupam Kher!!! Can you imagine the balding actor passing off as a beautiful woman? And this was long before photoshop existed, mind you. A big salute to the make-up artist and the photographer. Mickey Contractor and the Late Gautam Rajyadhakshya. 

As I sat, today morning, sipping on my chai and thinking about April Fool's Day pranks, this was the one which came instantly to my mind. In my opinion, on of the best Fool's Day pranks ever. 

I got the image from the internet. This was the actual cover which came out that month. 

Friday, March 31, 2017

How to combat swimming pool chlorine

Dear friends, 
As I write this, the summer is beating down outside my window and not a single leaf moves on the gulmohar tree next to my house. Isn't this the most opportune time to bring out your swimming costumes and dive into the pool? Swimming is one of the best exercises ever but unfortunately, I can't reall say the same thing about its effects on your hair. If you are not particularly careful, you may end up with an athlete's chiselled body and hair looking like the cow's chewing cud. 

I remembered an article which I had written long ago for some magazine which spoke about hair care for swimmers. I am reproducing it here for all those of you who swim but don't know how to take care of the chlorine in the water. Here they are. I hope these tips are useful to you.

Before your swim, wet your hair
If you are a regular swimmer, you must have seen the showers that surround the pool. They are there for a reason more important than pool decoration. Hair soaked with fresh water is less likely to soak chlorine. Douse that hair well under the shower before you jump in.

Keep it covered

Always make sure that you wear a rubber, swimming cap. It is that messiah that will keep out most of the damage done by chlorine water, even if it cannot keep all the water out. And please don’t complain that it’s too tight because most sports stores have swimming caps in all sizes…even if you have a big head. Speedo has some beautiful swimming caps. Try their range. The effects of chlorine remain in your hair even after you are done swimming and drying up. Cover your hair up when you go out in the hot sun with a scarf or a cap/hat to prevent chlorine from doing further damage to your hair. And this in fact can be your cool fashion statement for the hot months.

Pre-swim conditioning
If you are swimming in the sun, you can comb in a bit of conditioner to your hair before you wear
your cap. The heat of the sun will help the treatment penetrate better and also, when you wash your hair post the swim, they wont dry up as much. 

Post swim TLC
After your swim, rinse your hair thoroughly with fresh water and condition them again, only if required. A lot of us tend to skip the post-swim hair wash which causes the straw hair effect. Once you are done, gently pat your hair dry instead of rubbing or scrubbing it. Squeeze the water out of the hair and in case you want to blow dry it, use only the lower setting of your hair dryer as strong heat can dry out your hair. If you swim almost daily, once a week you must apply a deep conditioner and allow it to set on your hair for the required time.

Say no to hair colour 
If you are a regular swimmer, your hair will be subjected to enough dose of chlorine. Why would you further want to destroy it by subjecting it to colours, treatments and perms? Go a bit low on the chemical treatments during the swimming season. Your hair needs a breath of fresh air and you should be giving it just that after your beauty swim.

There are a lot of hair masks etc. that you can use to pamper your hair. Make use of all your grandmother's tips and tricks to keep that glow in your mane. I'll dig out some tips and put it up in the next post. Till then toodeloo!

Thursday, March 30, 2017


At the time, it seemed very large and it was quite heavy. It was a hand me down, from someone who obviously didn't live or breathe to read. It was a very old edition of the 1001 Arabian Nights. 

The book was unforgettable in so many ways. 
It was so heavy that my two little hands would ache just by carrying it around.  
It was perhaps as old as the Arabian Night stories. The pages were yellowed and frayed at the edges, the spine was almost coming off and the book had an 'old book' smell to it, if you know what I mean. Most book lovers will recognise the musty odour of an old book. 
But even inspite of its sad condition, it was the most beautiful book to me. A sky-blue hard bound cover, approximately a foot long and two inches thick, the book had the most beautiful hand drawn illustrations. 

I must have been five or six when my mother gave me the book. At the time, I was just about beginning to decipher the alphabet. My mother would read parts of it every night and the unread parts, well, I would only imagine those with the aid of the lovely paintings in the book. 

A few months later, I began to read on my own. The book was so special to me in so many ways. I was an only child and that book was my first friend in times when my parents were at work and there was no one else to play with. I travelled continents, made friends with imaginary princes and princesses, empathised and lauded Princess Scheherazade and hated King Shahryār with the same aplomb. 

And simply becuase it was so large and there was so much to read, the book stayed with me for quite a long time. I read it from cover to cover, not once, not even twice, but many many times. At the time, I knew each picture and sketch from the wonderfully detailed book. 

As time passed on, as it always, I graduated from the Arabian Nights to Enid Blyton and then Nancy Drew and then Hardy Boys, Sidney Sheldon and then many many more. Gradually, the book, heavy as it was, it stayed in some dusty corner of our attic and honestly, I don't even know what happened to it. Perhaps it turned to sand, like the landscape of much of of its stories...or became food for the hungry rats which always seemed to thrive in my attic. Perhaps my mother handed it over to someone else who would be influenced by the rich tapestry of the story telling and go on to dream many technicoloured dreams like I did. I don't know. 

But one thing remains for sure. My first book, the torn and tattered 1001 Arabian Nights, it laid a foundation of vivid imagination and multicoloured dreams, the carpet on which I still fly around to this day. 

1. This post was inspired by the IndiSpire edition 164 of "Which is the first book you read all by yourself, and what happened to you after that?" #MyFirstBook
2. Pictures are courtesy of The Project Gutenberg website on which a copy of the 1001 Arabian Nights resides for free reading. 
You can click this link to read this lovely book.