Category Archives: UAE

A stitch in time that would have saved a ‘Messi’ day

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Needle work and me — we have a very complicated history.

I wish it was a beautiful complication like Sleeping Beauty that culminated in a happily-ever-after.

Mine always wound up in a tangled disaster. The school deemed it compulsory to take up ‘Needle Art’ as part of the ‘Art’ curriculum. We girls did not take up this cause and wish to make a choice between ‘Innovation’ or ‘Robotics’ as my children can on this day as this was a time when a sewing machine, not a computer, held a pride of place in every household.

Grandmother had a flair for creating magic with a needle. Mother inherited grandmother’s culinary skills, but not her dainty fingers that worked its magic on pillowcases that still adorn some of the beds in our ancestral home.

It makes me wonder where I stand with respect to inheritance.

Mrs Sharma, our art teacher, had explained that needle work only required choosing the right needle from the kit and then developing an endearing friendship with it. Together, you and your needle, she had said, can sew wonders.

I became friends with the scissor. It was an easier friendship — one that did not require choosing from a box full of them and cutting was easier than stitching.

After weeks of creating absurd patterns, I once happened to embroider a single perfect red flower — so much so, that my handiwork brought tears to my eyes. After all a teeny-weeny part of grandmother’s gene had seeped in and had finally been rendered awake.

When I excitedly showed it off to the teacher, she turned it over and shook her head in dismay. Her eyes only saw the tangled mess on the behind. Needle art had to be perfect on both sides, she had said sighing. On that day I understood that it was impossible to make a grown-up happy as in their search for absolute perfection, the beauty of imperfection was lost.

I spent the rest of Mrs Sharma’s classes with my dear friend — the scissor.

When the Fifa World Cup fever gripped the world and our household, Sid pulled out his lucky Messi 10 jersey from the depths of his cupboard. That day, I noticed a single stitch by the shoulder that screamed red. ‘A stitch in time’, I heard Mrs Sharma’s warning, but chose not to take heed and did what I usually do — pretend that my eyes had not seen it.

Day after day, my eyes unintentionally caught sight of that single stitch, but I quickly averted my line of sight and continued the exercise in pretence even when one stitch ran into three.

On the day of Argentina vs Iceland match, the jersey ripped open at the shoulder. That evening, as I faltered with a needle and a thread, Lionel Messi missed a penalty kick and his team settled for a draw. By now, Mrs Sharma’s finger-wagging look had rented a permanent space in my head.

Even in sport, there are some aspects that can be logically or scientifically explained — like Pele’s famed banana kick (an off-centre kick that causes the ball to change direction midair before dropping to the ground) that works under the Bernoulli effect while there are others that have no logic at all — like a torn ‘lucky’ jersey, that could not be worn by a little Messi fan sitting half a world away, that is believed to have stood between Messi and his missed penalty.

As Sid sulked, I gingerly requested the tailor down the road if he would undertake the trivial task of sewing the jersey. The kind gentleman took less than a minute to complete the task and even refused to charge me. I stood there embarrassed coaxing him to accept something.

“It was a breather, a minute away from monotony,” he said smilingly.

I thanked him wondering if I could ever say that for myself.

 

Dear Friends, this has been published in the Gulf News. To read the article click here.

Wishing you a wonderful Sunday!

 

 

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Swimming against the tide of multitaskers

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It takes a village to raise a child but only a pasta advertisement starring Roger Federer to get Sid to wonder if his Indian-pancake-craving taste buds are willing to try Barilla pasta.

During the T20 World Cup, the little Dhoni fan wondered if ceiling fans back home can operate with a remote after watching the Indian Captain’s ‘smart’ fan advert while Little Princess pointed to a sunscreen lotion at the supermarket that an IPL team promises was their secret to a blemish-free tan-free complexion even after sweating it out in the sun for hours at length on the field.

With the football fever gripping the world, luckily, the footballers are not multitasking and the focus is on the game.

Whether it is being Captain Cool who can endorse brands as well as lift the T20 World Cup or an age-defying Tennis star who can cook Barilla pasta between securing the No.1 spot yet again, from a supermom whose KPIs (key performance indicators) at work are as good as her perfectly run household to being able to toggle between Twitter, Instagram and FB in the company of real friends  – Multitasking is the word of the smart world.

But what if you think it is okay to take a break – even from what you believe is your passion – simply because there are tasks screaming for your attention and people who need you more.

And so I decided to take that break from what gives me inexplicable joy and wings to wander far.

While I retrace my footsteps that are longing to get back into the wonderful world of the written word, thank you my dear friends for leaving your feedback on the Thank you! post.

Happy Sunday!

A special thanks to my dear friend, Nithya, who took time to read at least a dozen old posts reminding me that ‘world of words’ is never far behind!

Thank you!

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When Little Princess’s world expanded from the confines of our home into the exciting world of Kindergarten, she first tasted the sweetness of friendship and the bitterness of fights.

Soon enough, she found her ‘best friend’. The girls were inseparable; however, the days when her bestie did not show up, the void was occupied by another ‘best friend’ who suited her needs for that one day.

As for us grown ups living in a virtually connected world, making friends is a mere click away.

It takes people with a singular passion for the written word to contrive an alluring world of fantasy and imagination that are skillfully woven into delicately beautiful strings of meaningful poetry, prose and stories.

And I am glad to be a proud citizen of this creative world.

It has been two wonderful years since I wrote my first post (after months of contemplation) and hit the ‘publish’ button.

As I fumbled through the expanse of the blogosphere, I found new friends who read, encouraged and paved the path for me to tread on my journey with hope and confidence.

Realizing my dream – one post at a time – has given more meaning to life as it opened doors to sweet friendship and unimaginable opportunities.

Thank you, dear friends, for your time, support and your valuable feedback.

It means the world to me!

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To the Mother with Love

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It has been more than a year since my cousin’s wedding and that dreaded phone call from Father. While I presumed that my parents were enjoying the grandeur of a big fat Indian wedding, Mother had been silently nursing a gnawing discomfort in her stomach.

By the end of the three-day celebration and after concerned relatives had packed and left, Mother’s agony pushed her to visit a doctor.

Hospitalisation in a place far from home quickly followed surgery.

Mother has always been petrified of doctors and hospitals. Whenever the situation to visit a doctor arose, she would cook up a list of excuses and if that failed she escaped into the confines of her sacred space — the kitchen — and cooked up a storm.

Entrapped in the trance of her culinary magic, we succumbed to her excuses. In hindsight, we had come to believe that Mother had a solution to all her problems — just as she always had one for ours.

Her efforts were always taken for granted until it was my turn to wear Mother’s hat.

I now know that patience is a virtue and not a boon that a new Mother is granted after the birth of her first child; that none of the objects that are strewn about after a busy morning grew legs and walked back into place and that it takes love, attention and effort to transform a house into a home.

Post her surgery and recovery, we have understood that Mother is no magic machine and like one of us, she too requires to be cared and sometimes coaxed into ensuring that she is well taken care of.

While she has learnt that her one-size-fits-all remedies might only give her more time at the hospital dreading needles and doctors, away from her favourite space — the kitchen — and to find it topsy-turvy after she makes a comeback.

After her new-found life lesson, Mother made that much-needed dental appointment. She must have been a dentist’s dream for she has quickly elevated to becoming a priority patient.

Dear Mothers, your efforts are often taken for granted as it is your children’s way of reassuring themselves that you are always there for them.

While you continue to love, fret and worry for your children even years after they have left home, it will give your children immense happiness and relief if you were to take care of yourself too.

Here is a reminder that you are a woman like no other and will always hold a special place in your children’s heart!

 

Dear Friends,

This is an extract from the article published in the Gulf News. To view the full article please click here.  Wishing your Mommy and all the lovely Mommies in the blogosphere a very happy Mother’s Day. 

 

A Walk to the Post Office Down Memory Lane

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'They're extinct now but when I was young you'd find these everywhere...let's go to the next gallery they've got a 'bobby on the bear' and a 'postman' there.'

As I go about like clockwork with the very boring but constant sequence of actions in life that calls itself routine, I hear the familiar ‘ping’ on the phone.

This should be Mother sending in her good morning message with one question that when answered will quickly be followed by a series of ten or more questions that usually revolve about the general well being of my family here and me.

This ‘ping’ could also be a message from a friend or one more to add to the endless stream of messages from the seemingly polite but consistent banking or business sectors who have shown keen interest in my welfare and prosperity.

In the days of yore, the midday cycle bell that announced the arrival of the postman was one Mother looked forward to and got us children racing one another to bring home heartfelt stories and messages transcribed in flowery handwriting that had travelled far inside sealed inlands and envelopes.

If our postman was the bearer of the dreaded telegram, he waited until the seal was opened to unveil its brief contents. He offered his condolences if the news was bad, but good news ensured a cup of tea or a sweet and a tip.

This was a time when red post boxes dotted every street. A time when we poured our heart, vented our sorrows and shared our joys and woes on paper and when securing a government job was the final destination in every job seeker’s journey.

In a shrinking world where we are under the spell of technology locking our eyes with screens rather than humans and establishing firm relationships with devices rather than people, are we tunnelling our lives into the confines of our digital caves?

Even as we embrace the ease of the technological revolution and social networking, should not we exercise prudence in its use driving home the same to the generation that will follow us? Will robots be the most valuable companions of our future when we wake up from our digitally-induced dream? Will I, like my mother, wait hours to receive a single line of hope from my busy daughter?

Another ‘ping’ and I pick up the phone and smile at Mother’s messages, quickly typing in a sweet response. I know that my answer to one of her queries will balloon into a full-fledged conversation.

But that is what makes a conversation with Mother so special.

 

Good Morning dear Friends, hope you are all having a wonderful Sunday. This is an extract from my publication in the ‘Off the Cuff’ section of the Gulf News. For the full article please click here.

Change Begins at Home and it Begins Now

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When I enjoy writing quirky pieces of humor then why are my thoughts and words directed to a well of seriousness?

Is it because they involve a blood-curdling, stomach churning atrocity on an innocent eight-year-old and now an eight-month-old girl child?

Is it because it took a #nirbhaya, #kathua, #unnao and so many others that went unreported for lawmakers to be forced into taking more stringent legal provisions against these hideous crime?

Is it because I enjoyed a carefree childhood surrounded by adults who only saw a little girl at play and absolutely nothing more?

Is it because? Never mind.

While we raise our voices against the din of injustice, are we doing enough to bring a change in our own homes?

What about those men who deem it their right to a place on the table first with a piping hot meal served to them with all the women in close attendance to wait on them while even the pregnant woman gets her turn only after the men have had the lion’s share?

Or that parent-doting son who sucks up every iota of his parent’s attention and love simply because he becomes the rightful heir to the Patriarchal throne while the daughters are a mere responsibility who have to be safely married off.

Or the daughter-in-law who silently bears the brunt of becoming the inevitable punching bag of the men and even the other women in the family for every misfortune that has occurred since her arrival into her husband’s household.

If we do not stand up against these barbaric acts against women and the girl child now, we are not human enough.

Change begins at home and it begins now.

Save the Earth! It is the only planet with chocolate….

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"The doctor said I need more calcium, so I'm switching from dark to milk chocolate."

What do you do when you know that global warming could target one of the sweetest solutions you have always counted on — that chocolate (or the cocoa plant) is at a risk of extinction in a few decades?

I decided to drown my melancholy in an entire bar of chocolate that I realised at the other side of my criminally-calorific break must have been saved up by one of my children.

Luckily, the brain had me covered with the build-up of the goodness of endorphins and serotonin that magically transformed my guilt and melancholy into an inexplicable feeling of warmth and goodness — albeit temporarily.

The word ‘chocolate’ itself feels like an invitation to joy, happiness and a reason to smile, unlike words like ‘eggplant’ that causes a certain adult and a child in my household to try hard to keep up a straight face and suffer from a sudden onset of ‘loss of appetite’ while the other child — who is still on the road to learning the tricks of the trade — is seen to scream her disapproval.

Chocolate comes wrapped in the pleasures of delicious moments that trigger sweet childhood memories.

Being the Five-Star and Dairy Milk generation of kids, my cousins and I willingly shared our clothes and sometimes even our homework but fought tooth and nail for a fair share of the rare chocolate treat that was painstakingly divided to the last millimetre.

On the bright side, it was during these rare moments that we put every apparatus in our mathematical instrument box and our math skills to good use.

Summer vacations meant freedom from school work and hovering in stealth mode near my aunt’s refrigerator trying to get our hands inside the colourful tins of chocolate that it treasured — the wrappers of which were saved away between the pages of our notebooks where both its ‘chocolatey’ scent and memory lingered on for days

Along with chocolate are coffee, potatoes, apples among many others in the global food chain that are found to be at a risk of extinction. While the company, Mars, is working on using scientific methodologies like the gene-editing technology to aid in developing plants that will be able to survive in the expected conditions, we have one more ‘sweet’ reason to do our bit in saving our home from the devastating effects of global warming.

As for me, the gnawing grief is making a comeback with the effect of the ‘happy chemicals’ waning. Now if you will excuse me, I need to grab another bar.

 

This is an extract from the publication in the Off the Cuff column of The Gulf News. For the entire article please click here.

Wishing you all a very Happy Easter!

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Off the Grid

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'I lost my homework on the cloud.'

The children had been invited to a birthday party.

A minute after the husband dropped us off after agreeing to meet at the same point after the party, catastrophe struck.

It came in the form of an Earth shattering realization that I had left the better part of my brains, my eyes, timepiece, GPS, camera, my Swiss Army knife, my digital toy all rolled into one – the smart phone, back at home.

I had to solely rely on my brains – or whatever little that I had brought along – to weave my way to the venue as the e-invite and the host’s contact numbers were safely tucked away in the digital confines of my absent phone.

Even as I tried hard to shake the free-floating anxiety that kicked my imagination to life and conjure up a few dozen disasters, I was pleasantly surprised that my memory of the place along with the old fashioned method of asking directions when in doubt was all it took to get my excited children to their destination.

I watched the children do funny dance moves, jump trampolines, shoot zombies unobstructed by the lens of a camera. And I must admit, it felt unhurried and carefree.

Out of habit, my hands habitually dug into the handbag for the phone but stopped midway when I heard my finger tips – enjoying an unanticipated holiday – singing my praise.

By the end of that day, I had real memories and a bunch of new ‘real’ friends.

I am no smart phone addict but it felt intimidating to be left out of the loop, but strangely liberating to make real conversation with children or another device-free Mommy without the interruption of the beep of a message or a phone call.

This leaves me thinking back in wonder about my younger, pre-mobile days when I walked the streets, lost my way, boarded the wrong bus but got home safe and sound.

My children might never have the privilege of getting lost in this well-connected world or feel liberated from the shackles of the grid unless they, like me, are forced to spend a phone-free, live-in-the moment day with only anxiety and real humans for company. 

 

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Dear friends, hope you all are having a wonderful Sunday.

Research has it that an average human swipes his phone 80 times a day. As much as our phones are a smarter extension of ourselves, it is time we ask ourselves if the digital grid is enticing us into a digital fantasy that is robbing us off reality.

What do you think?

 

 

Fashion-ing the Ideal Parent

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"I'm looking for a book on how to raise kids easily, but I can't seem to find it anywhere..."

Sid can compete with Maggie Noodles where dressing up is concerned.

The exercise consists of snatching the first pair of clothes that falls in his line of vision; this lesser activity multi tasked with more important activities  that usually involve a bat and a ball. The rest of the grooming routine usually requires gentle or loud reminders from one of his parents.

So we were as shocked as he was when he was shortlisted for a Fashion Show at school – the proceeds of which will be used to fund the education of underprivileged children in India.

That evening I caught him staring at the mirror spiking his spiky hair.

By the next morning, I was concerned. He had brought out the entire cupboard on full display matching t-shirts with pants as I am usually known to do.

Later that evening, we sat in the audience and watched him walk the ramp along with his partner, pausing to pose and give a half-smile before making an exit.

On our way back home, he was full of excited banter about the fun time backstage and his new friends.

As soon as we got home, he rushed into the washroom without a reminder. As I looked out of the window to check if the Sun had miraculously set in the East, he appeared to be relieved having washed off the hair gel and make up.

My son was back to being his disheveled self, ready to curl up with a book.

Every experience – the good, the not-so-good and awesome childhood experiences contribute to making our children the adult that they become; developing values that will anchor them to safety whenever the storms of uncertainty and change threaten while reinforcing a solid foundation to building a fulfilling life.

As a mother, I wish to drag my children back into the protective embrace of my womb, but I remind myself that the my greatest gift to them will be the wings of experience that will help them learn to fly high and drink life to the very lees as we guide them unhindered by the weight of our dreams and expectations reliving the fun, silliness and joys of childhood with them.

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Wishing you all a Happy Sunday!

Why are Women Terrified of Cockroaches?

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Science calls it katsaridaphobia.

The husband calls it a silly overreaction.

I can only say that this six-legged creature single-handedly sums up my personal insect hell.

With the school term coming to a close, families chose this time of the year to move back to their home country or make another apartment their home.

This move has shook up a few other families from another kingdom that must have been  thriving and breeding undisturbed in the dark crevices of drain pipes or have been forced to relocate too after the depreciating chemical barriers have been re-erected by the real-estate staff, who are seen prepping the house for its new tenant.

One roach decided to take an evening stroll and managed to invade the carefully-guarded, pest-free, chemically-barricaded fortress that I call home.

That night I sleepily walked into the bedroom and caught sight of this unwelcome guest scampering  about the white floor on its spiky appendages.

In an instant, I was wide awake, sleep gone, eyes popping out of sockets, breath caught midway between the lungs and the nostrils, adrenal medulla overworking – pumping in adrenaline for fight or flight reaction.

The mind trying to shut out the image that is crawling and wrecking my system.

When I had mustered up enough courage, I rushed to find to the husband.

On hindsight, I marvel the reaction and the multitasking power of a shocked human mind and body.

Only that my mind had been rendered that shock by a creepy crawly as big as my pinkie.

The husband was amused. He found the creature and sent it off to insect heaven.

The only relief has been that the children were locked in dreamland and hence did not witness their mother outperform them in a state of utter frenzy.

The following morning on, my paranoid eyes have been searching for unwelcome family members and a search party of the deceased invader as the hands have been cleaning better and disinfecting effectively.

But try as I might, I cannot understand why women who have crossed frontiers, shattered glass ceilings can be reduced to a shaking, shrieking, chaotic lot when it comes to cockroaches?

 

Good morning Friends, Wishing those on the other side of the world, a happy weekend while wishing my friends on this side of the world, a great beginning to a new week.