Category Archives: UAE

Fashion-ing the Ideal Parent


"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.


Wishing you all a Happy Sunday!


Why are Women Terrified of Cockroaches?



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.

Sneezing Away a Beautiful Winter Weekend


"Hey, you have got great empathy!"

The awesome months of winter are welcome with an endless stream of outdoor activities — along with coughs, sniffles and examinations.

I am grateful that we are spared the ‘examination’ bit as my children are yet to enter that phase of schooling, but there is no sure way of escaping the sneezes that develop into a cold and then a fever that makes a burning entry in the dead of a cold winter night when I have to toggle between checking temps, administering medications and comforting a delirious child while fighting off the urge to allow my drooping eyelids succumb to sweet slumber.

It is a joy to see the scorching days of summer give way to cool winter mornings.

Every year, the husband and I resolve to take advantage of the weather and include a walk into our routine, but I have long since made peace with the fact that sticking to resolutions is not in my stars. Nor is a slim, trim and hour-glass shaped figure.

Spooling the tape back a few weeks this winter, I wished to make weekends special by spending as much time as I could outdoors. Once I had zeroed in on one of the many events that would hold the interest of my children and us, I meticulously planned out the weekend.

My enthusiasm failed to ebb even after the husband appeared to only show interest in the culinary options available in the area or when I heard Little Princess sneeze.

By Thursday evening, Little Princess had bright red patches on her face, a sore throat and a rasping cough. We spent the early hours of our meticulously planned fun weekend nursing a sick child who quivered with soaring temperatures.

The rest of the weekend and the next four weekends were spent with paediatricians and general practitioners as we took turns borrowing the nasty cold from one another. I whiled away waiting time at the hospital catching up on the details and pictures of marathons, food fests and other events through the eyes of reporters and photographers of the newspaper and social media.

On the plus side, the frequency of our visits encouraged the friendly staff at the hospital to welcome us with more-than-just pleasant smiles. I also learnt that a doctor’s job was no easy task with getting to meet and greet sick children and exasperated sleep-deprived parents.

With a few weeks left before the mercury rises and our household making a return to some form of normality, we are hoping to go to any place other than a hospital. The husband is hoping to catch a movie, but there is no extensive planning involved for I am not looking forward to catching one of my children sneezing away our weekend plans — yet again


Hello Fellow Bloggers, hope you are all doing well. This is an extract from a piece published in the Gulf News. Please click here for the entire article.

Wishing you all a great Sunday.

The High Cost of an Impromptu Visit to the Supermarket



On a cold winter evening, I snuggle in the blissful comforts of a warm bed with a book for company. But bliss can only be complete with a steaming cup of filter kaapi.

The intoxicating aroma of the ground beans cloud my caffeine-deprived mind nudging me to drag myself out of the warm comforts of the bed and pay tribute to the beans.

As I pour hot water into the filter and the gentle drip of thick coffee become music to my ears, I remember that the milk has all been used up.

There are  two options before me – a phone call and an extra buck can bring the precious bottle of milk right by my doorstep in about the time that I can chide about my unorganized ways or I can save the buck and get some exercise with a quick walk to the supermarket where I can pick up a fresh bottle of my choice of milk – from among the low-fat, full-fat, double-cream, half-cream options.

A quick browse of the counter beside it and then every counter and asile after and before it will soon stack the cart with everything that I would and would not require on another rainy day.

Realization and regret on my impromptu shopping spree strikes only after the bill has been handed over. I force myself to see the bright side of the situation, thanking my stars that I had chosen to carry the card instead of digging deep into my pocket.

I must confess that the free tutelage on haggling from the experts in my younger days during the many visits to the local market have been wasted by the supermarket revolution.

I, like the rest of its loyal customers, will queue up with a cart full of what I think are the choicest picks from the zillion brands and trillion varieties made available, willing to part with a big chunk of my bank balance and shed tears of joy when they surprise me with a gift voucher that will ensure that I am back on yet another shopping spree with a paltry discount in return for more than a decade of loyalty.

As for my caffeine-deprived, cold evening – my choice has been made and so has the phone call. I am sure the delivery person will be at my doorstep even as I dig deep into my wallet to fish out the extra buck and the music of the dripping coffee has come to a halt.


Some Siri-ous Thoughts about Technology and the Generation Gap


"Would you mind if I ask SIRI for a 2nd opinion?"

It was hilarious to watch the Italian grandmother’s reaction when she heard the smart assistant give precise answers to her queries even after she called it ‘Goo Goo’. This viral video took me back in time to an afternoon when Father and I had visited the community centre back at home where a crowd had queued up to witness a new piece of technology that was up for public display and demonstration.

This was a time when the Oxford dictionary and common man understood the definition of ‘mouse’ as a rodent with a pointed snout and a long tail that usually kept the occupants of the house running after it when it made an unbidden visit and technology was at its infancy and we were yet to trust complicated computing machines that could supposedly ease our workload. We looked in awe at the wonder gadget — the mouse — placed inside a locked glass enclosure to be carefully removed and attached to the keyboard by the ‘mouse expert’ during the hourly demonstration.

When computers replaced typewriters and swivelling cushioned chairs, the outdated wooden ones, Father, for whom the change presented a bit of a learning curve, spent evenings at one of the many internet cafes that had sprouted in the vicinity. These cafes had dial-up internet connections that grated and whistled noisily while the operator-cum-instructor imparted precious knowledge on the complex technique of sending electronic mail.

Much later, we rejoiced the day Father brought home our very own personal computer. Patience was a virtue for after the dial-up had finally made the connection, it took just one wrong number on the landline phone to terminate it.

These childhood tales have now metamorphosed into hilarious bedtime stories that get Sid to laugh incessantly and beg for more instead of getting him to sleep.

Earlier this year, when digital class was no more an option at his school, Sid got his tablet. The thought of my son owning a piece of technology that threw open the doors of the internet world was daunting. While he excitedly spent the first day exploring its features, I hovered about explaining the perils that the limitless world of the internet posed. It was about then that he discovered the virtual assistant — Siri.

At first, he was curious about the robotic voice behind the glossy black screen. Little Princess joined in the questions that ranged from ‘Hey Siri, Who are you?’ to ‘Hey Siri, do you like ice cream?’ This was soon seen to gravitate to academic doubts and questions like ‘Hey Siri, can you find my Math notebook?’ I must admit that it hurt to see that my son found ‘Siri’ more resourceful than his mother, but it was concern about the misuse of technology if left unmonitored that I restricted screen time.

Even though Siri has always resided in the complex interiors of my phone, it was the hilarious answers that my children sometimes got in return for bizarre questions that got me to activate the virtual assistant on my phone. It was impressive to get ‘Siri’ to pull out selective emails, send messages, make calls and set alarms with a simple voice message. But my family was not very happy to be woken up at 2am after the phone jarred to life with what appeared to be an alarm that had been accidently set during my trials.

While the older generation is hesitant to adapt to technological advancements, the children, for whom technology has been an integral part of their existence have taken to it like ducks to water. Father, who had been both worried and excited when he was handed a sleek, shiny smart phone called me up asking me to accept his friend request on social media. Sid is now working on a science project that involves moving suspended objects that can be controlled by an application.

I wonder where that leaves the middle generation — who can rock in a fetal ball of nostalgia at the sound of dial-up connections or talk about heavy desktop computers as if they were dinosaurs, but continue to be enthralled at the pace of technology and is striving hard to keep up pace in the virtual world as much as the real world and real people. Siri is sure to have one or a hundred and one answers to that question too!


Hello Friends, hope that you all are having a wonderful weekend. The above is a piece that was written for the Gulf News and has featured in today’s ‘Off the Cuff’ column. You can read it here. Wish you all a wonderful day ahead.


Snippets for a Better Tomorrow


"I wish you'd start recycling your old newspapers..."

One activity that I love to unwind with over the weekend is to sit down and catch up with a pile of a week’s worth of newspaper. A little tower of them, when I have to make up for the previous week as well. It just about feels like you are catching up on an entire series of that popular soap or the highlights of a series of matches that everyone is talking about but you were too caught up in the web of chores and responsibilities to sit back and enjoy. The advantage is that you never miss the details and you save the stress of figuring out that nail-biting, heart-thumping finish as you have already heard it.

I am also among those people who cannot drink in every inch of the newspaper or a magazine without cutting out (read tearing out) an interesting article for later reference or to enjoy a read of the same at another time.

My cutouts for that week will depend on how I feel like on that particular day.

If it is a period after a stint of holidaying and binging, my cutouts would range from  eating right or eating less to a series of yoga postures that seem graceful when performed by the toned woman in the pictures but close to impossible when it is your turn to try. Sometimes it is sport and other times a dose of inspiration.

Instead of cutting out just the article of interest, I usually save up the entire page.

Little Princess is delighted to see her mother tear up paper and just to keep my catching up going without untoward tantrums  from her side, she gets her turn at tearing after I am done with mine.

Now these saved-up snippets overflow from shoe boxes that occupy the uppermost deck of the cupboard. Having realized that the tomorrow has never come and those life changing alterations that I had once resolved never became, I recently took a quick peek into one. I was left in a fix as to what part of that paper inspired me to save it up. I am even left wondering if Little Princess swapped hers with mine.

Now, I might need another weekend to deal with those.

The Bumpy Road to Happily Ever After


A Wedding Day Promise.

Research has it that marriage may test one’s sanity, but living into old age with a partner also lowers the risk of dementia.

Since the institution of marriage does not come with a handy instruction booklet, after the hazy cloud of blind love faded into reality, we realised that ‘happily-ever-after’ included smoke alarms that cheered on my cooking expeditions, gifts that were meant to surprise became shocks due to misunderstandings of tastes and choices, weird habits that our rose-tinted vision had refused to take note of and normal conversations that snowballed into disagreements and very soon grew into full-blown arguments.

But the bumpy, sometimes steep and otherwise uphill road that we encountered helped strengthen our bond as did my culinary expeditions that strengthened the husband’s digestive system.

When I chanced upon a folded piece of paper that contained a hastily scribbled recipe of a dish that had once — by some strange stroke of luck — turned out as expected without any incidence of accidental burning or charring or meeting friendly neighbours after the smoke alarm raised pandemonium, I decided to surprise my family by pushing my luck yet again.

Luck was once again on my side as the dish turned out to be perfect in taste and appearance. I could almost hear the fanfare music as I placed the garnished masterpiece.

Unfortunately, the music was only audible to my ears as the husband failed to notice amid discussing worldly matters. Sid intently listened to his father’s words as he mindlessly chewed more than the recommended 32 times and forcefully swallowed them when he wished to throw in a question or two about the topic under discussion.

Little Princess was the only one who noticed and screamed her disapproval.

Half way through the meal and between the orations of worldly affairs, the husband took note of the screaming silence emanating from my side of the table and was quick to understand that something was amiss. He looked about for cues from the curtain to my hair. Since it was obvious that I was bound to show no interest in playing a game of 20 questions or throw in clues, he settled for something safer and went on to throw a few compliments about everything except the dish that had been painstakingly cooked and served with love.

Considering that this was an incident that took place more than a year back and that its details are vivid in my mind’s eye to be revived over the table every time I make the lucky dish that had once gone unnoticed, the husband is absolutely sure that living into old age with his partner is definitely going to keep dementia at bay.

He explains that the trick is in dividing the task between the two of us.

I could fill up every brain cell with important events (like the one mentioned above) that have taken place since the first time we met to be brought up as and when the occasion (read argument) demands, while he will keep track of the state of our finances and other less important factors of our life.

As of now, he only worries about keeping his sanity.


The above is an extract from an article published in the Gulf News. For the entire write-up you can check here.

Wishing all of you a very happy and relaxed Sunday.


Of Sunshine Vitamin and ‘la dolce vita’



If there is anything worse than seeing your doctor when you are quite sure that something is not right, then it is the endless wait in stark waiting rooms with your mind galloping like an untrained horse into infinite conclusions about the undiagnosed state of your health.

I sat in the spotlessly clean waiting room twiddling my thumbs, crossing my fingers every time the mind paused at an irrational conclusion or possibility. I absently picked up a glossy magazine hoping to distract the direction of my thoughts. The picture of a perfectly happy lady with shining locks and skin glowing with health stared back at me only to add fuel to my racing thoughts. I went back to staring at the growing crowd of sick people in the waiting room reconciling to the fact that at least I was not the only one nursing my health woes.

It had all begun with a chance encounter with an old friend on social media. We were colleagues and later on became neighbours and good friends. After she moved out, we gradually lost touch with one another until she found me on social media through a mutual friend. A few phone calls later, we decided to meet up.


Our meeting was as warm as the sunny afternoon only marred by the revelation that the dreams and ambitions of this young woman had been hindered by multiple sclerosis. An acute deficiency of vitamin D had put her at a high risk and hastened the progress of the disease. We had a good time together reminiscing about old times, but the elephant in the room could not be ignored. Her parting advice to me was to listen to my body, trust my intuitions and take advantage of the sunny skies and cool mornings.

I took her advice and ensured that we spent our weekend mornings at beaches and in parks until we looked like a family who had just returned from a sun-kissed vacation in a hot tropical island. The exercise helped burn a month’s worth of every variety of food that had transformed into stubborn adipose tissue. The days that I could not make it, I sulked, until the husband suggested that I spend 15 minutes in the sunny balcony chewing on food. Research has it that chewing food thoroughly until it becomes absolutely free of lumps before it is swallowed can burn up to 2,000 extra calories every month if you keep at it.

It was about then that I had begun to notice that strands of hair fell loose and formed an untidy mess whenever I let it loose. As if to add to tangled woes, I caught myself nodding off between telling ‘Little Princess’ a fairy tale that usually resulted in a muddled up and confused happily-ever-after ending of another fairy tale.

At first, I brushed it aside and tried to be in denial. When I found my thoughts going back to my friend’s words, I tried to convince myself of the varied possibilities that could be a convincing reason for the sudden and unexplained hair loss and lethargy. Finally, I found myself at the doctor’s doorstep.

A battery of tests ensued and the results showed a deficiency in iron and Vitamin B12 that was due to a lack of animal protein in my diet. Heeding my friend’s advice, the mornings spent on the sunny beach was worthwhile after all as a deficiency of the sunshine vitamin did not show up. It is ironic that we live in a country that is blessed with abundant sunshine and the primary source of vitamin D is just outside our door, up in the sky and yet in this life full of care, we find innumerable excuses not to get outdoors and exercise our way to health.

The 30-day Fitness Challenge was a great opportunity that had brought the couch potatoes, the health freaks, families and friends to bond and sweat over varied workouts and physical activities under the canopy of the bright sunny skies in parks and beaches all through the four weeks. With studies indicating that 30 days of physical activity stands a good chance of creating a permanent lifestyle change, the challenge has laid the foundation for every individual to beat the odds and aim on prioritising one’s health through the year.

While I hope that my dear friend challenges the odds and bounces back to an active life, I have myself made a few dietary and lifestyle changes that have shaken off the lethargy, although I am still working on looking like the glowing, perfect lady with her shiny locks and radiant skin in the glossy magazine.

For all the rest of you, just in case you have forgotten, here is a reminder — take care!


Good Morning Friends, Wishing you all a very happy Sunday.

Sharing a post that has been originally published in the Gulf News.  You can read it at :

Counting my Blessings and Sharing Some



On a recent day, a big plastic donation bag that had ‘Clothes for Compassion’ printed on it accompanied the day’s newspaper.

I embarked on the task of combing through the clothes that were put away.

Some were a delightful find as they tickled a long-lost memory, some were the privileged firsts and the others were a jab on my self esteem reminding me of the hopes that I harbored of fitting into them some day.

Suddenly, the sentiments attached to every piece of clothing superseded the need to warm a lesser fortunate person this winter.

A friend whom I visited recently had transformed her home into a museum dedicated to the many accolades and pieces of memory that celebrated her only daughter’s childhood – complete with the dates inscribed behind them.

Basking in the sun in her balcony was her daughter’s first potty chair with a tomato plant growing out of it.

It made me wonder if a harvest of tomatoes from the plant would relieve fond memories of the mornings that her daughter spent emptying her bowels on the sanitary throne.

So I politely took a rain check on her invitation to stay back for lunch.

As Mother considered her sole purpose on the Earth as cooking up delicacies for her family, decluttering was a hobby she picked up during our growing years when the many priced possessions that lay gathering dust exceeded the things that were actually in use.

Choosing a deserving owner from the maid, the watchman, the guy who exchanged a big bundle of clothes for a small steel vessel and the kabadiwala was a task she undertook during our absence.

Sharing is caring says Little Princess.

So, finding myself somewhere in between my friend and Mother, some precious memories and hopes have been (painstakingly) parted with, for these unused clothes will not only provide warmth to some less fortunate person this winter but may be a reason to light up someone’s face with a smile and create a beautiful memory once again!