Plane Lucky

Standard

'This is you captain speaking...I have just been fired...so...good luck!'

Do you remember an ancient way of travelling – making a journey without a ‘Travelling Update’ on your social media account. (Don’t look at me! Just borrowing somebody else’s brainwave from FB)

While we are on the ‘ancient’ talk, did you hear about the 80-year-old Chinese woman who delayed a flight for nearly six hours after she threw coins into the plane’s engine for good luck?

Lady luck, after all, stood by her after the Shanghai police refused to take action and unforgiving passengers spent their waiting time clicking selfies with her and uploading them on social media.

Wonder if a superstitious Indian has tried a hand at good luck the Indian way – tying a string of hot chilies and lemon, after they heard about a pilot’s artificial arm that came loose during landing or of the pilot who realized that he was not qualified to land the plane in fog just minutes before landing and decided to turn back.

Could the leaking bag that contained curry powder that set off smoke and fire alarms in an Air India flight, that caused 12-hour delay, be the result of a more grounded and refined lucky charm by a superstitious Indian?

Luckily, no one found out. Not yet.

As for the lucky people who are enjoying their summer break travelling around the world, here is a reminder to make your ‘Travelling Updates’ and upload pictures for there are those on the bright side making the most of uninterrupted rare moments to take a peek at them all, just as I made the most of the last 40 minutes of ‘Spider-Man: Home Coming’ browsing social media with my little ‘Spidey’ fan taking a snooze beside me after more than an hour of jumping, walking and exploring a nearly empty theater.

Wishing you all a safe and happy holiday!

Advertisements

On the Bright Side

Standard

'Look on the bright side. Global warming is heating up the water, helping to evaporate all the oil.'

“Awesome Mausum (weather in Hindi),” came the melodious voice of the RJ on the car’s radio followed by the weather update of 42 degrees and 42% humidity.

Really? Only 42 degrees? It surely felt like 62.

But when the husband broke into a sweat rubbing his hand after touching the steel buckle of the seat belt and the children groaned on their ‘hot’ seats, I was relieved that it was not a case of hot flashes but just normal UAE temperatures at this time of the year.

A stray thought of tapping into the heat and try cooking the family’s favorite Indian pancakes on the bonnet of the car crossed my mind, but other than Little Princess I was sure that no one might find the idea hot enough.

Soon the interiors of the car began to feel like a very bright sunny day atop the Himalayas under the influence of the cool fabricated air and we glide through the road that is free of traffic jams as for this time of the year, air fares compete with the rising temperatures and the traffic jams take to the skies.

Environmentalists claim that global warming could make the heartland of the global oil industry – The Persian Gulf – suffer heat waves beyond the limit of human survival making the region uninhabitable before the end of the century.

Then, would the Burj Khalifa make its way to Mars giving visitors one more reason to visit the red planet?

 

As for now, I should live in the moment and enjoy the ‘bright’ holiday season, the empty roads, the ‘hot’ summers offers and make merry (hay) while the sun shines. I abolish my ‘tall’ woes and join in with the husband and Sid on a heated discussion of whether Roger Federer might make the record breaking win with the eighth Wimbledon title as Little Princess mimics her brother’s words inside the cool confines of the car.

 

Chocolate-Coated Memories

Standard

2274d3d4ff436586a1c04f0811a7cb4f--chicken-soups-love-chocolate

A friend who has recently moved into the UAE confessed that she allowed herself one full bar of chocolate a day. In order to appease her guilt, she relished one half in the morning and polished off the other half through the rest of the day.

Being the ‘Five Star’ and ‘Diary Milk’ generation who fought tooth and nail with our sibling for the bigger half when we just chanced to get our hands onto one, weren’t we all guilty of such sweet pleasures?

During our school vacations, my cousins, brother and I waited for the arrival of our uncles (who lived abroad). We gave them our best smiles and a cheerful welcome as our eyes strayed towards their big suitcases that would soon get a ceremonious opening,  spilling the many fantasies they contained.

The many bars of chocolate that later filled the better part of my aunt’s refrigerator led us to believe that our lucky uncles lived in a fantasy land where bars of chocolates grew on date palms.

But upon my arrival into the UAE on a hot summer afternoon and –  40 plus degrees, a new home, the new husband who politely accepted the burnt and sometimes bizarre-tasting results of cooking skills I thought I possessed (not with practice but genetically acquired), a new job and new friends later –  it became evident that only dates grew on date palms and chocolates occupied huge racks in supermarkets and they all came with a price tag attached.

As the world celebrated World Chocolate Day on July 7, 2017, let me confess that to this day, chocolates tasted best when they were sneaked out of my aunt’s refrigerator and gobbled up, one bar at a time, while hiding from the prying eyes of my brother – who sat in another dark corner doing the same.

Are you a chocolate lover?  What is your chocolate-coated memory?

 

Dear Friends, Good morning.

I have been taking some off-screen time due to conjunctivitis. I will be catching up with all your wonderful stories, that I have missed last week, over the next few days. 

Wishing you all a happy Sunday!

The First-Child Experiment

Standard

a9fb7c0dbfd8f635fde747c9d18bdda0

As I clumsily balanced the extraordinary bundle of joy – my first born – in my inexperienced hands, tears of joy, pride and happiness had only blurred the vision before me, not the blueprint of his future the husband and I had developed over the previous nine months.

I saw not just tiny fingers that were clasped tightly together but those that would master not one but many musical instruments or would they clasp the scalpel and go on to revolutionize Medical Sciences?

My eyes drank into his perfect features and wondered if he would become the face of World Cinema.

Or would he be the next ‘Armstrong’ to step onto the moon of the next inhabitable planet in another galaxy?

He could be anything.

Or still better, he could be everything.

My smile and eyes shone with pride as the doctor who had stood witness to innumerable such extraordinary moments of proud parents, smiled politely.

Over the next few weeks we understood that our son who carried the weight of our dreams on his developing shoulders cried, threw up, screamed for attention at 2 am like a baby should.

I made sure I bought more bottles of disinfectant than Formula as every toy, every dress, every piece of furniture he touched or might touch were wiped squeaky clean.

The husband suggested that I sing him nursery rhymes as lullabies so that he would be ahead of his class at kindergarten.

Every new event was researched, all of them captured and celebrated.

Then came along Little Princess.

She has thrived four years sans bottles of disinfectant and meals that did not include at least three types of food from every group in the food pyramid.

We did not rush to the most qualified Pediatrician and bombard him with questions when the thermometer showed her temperature to rise by 0.005 degree Celsius.

No extraordinary techniques or extensive research were required as she sailed from one developmental milestone to another, not because she was less difficult but because as parents, we were.

So when her kindergarten teacher complained that she was too busy tearing the sheets of her neighbor’s book as her class progressed with alphabets, I feigned an expression of shock for how was I to explain that I let my second-born shred a handful of paper while I spent evenings helping Sid with his homework or the fact that she had learnt 20 lines of Sid’s elocution poem by heart than the alphabets that her class had progressed with.

But I knew, as it has been with everything for my second born, this too shall pass.

Published!

Standard

Dear Friends,

I am very happy  to inform you that I am taking my passion for writing a step from my blog to the ‘Off the Cuff’ section of the Gulf News. After reading my work, the Editor has willingly agreed to publish it.

Today, the first post was published. Please read and let me know what you think. Wishing you all a happy weekend.

Organically perplexed

Thanks to extensive marketing techniques, coupled with a drastic increase in the educated lot of customers opting for anything that claims to be produced organically, we now have even a new brand of bottled water that claims to be organic

Published: 17:12 June 29, 2017Gulf News

Pranitha Menon, Special to Gulf News

Every morning, after the cows were milked and fed, my maternal grandfather would walk up to the vegetable patch that bore the fruit of his hard work and his passionately green fingers, a basket in hand. He would scrutinise every one of his beloved plants, pulling out an unwelcome weed or a half-eaten ripe vegetable — the remnants of a stray mole’s dinner after it had eaten its fill, as he carefully chose the day’s harvest.

Most of what he brought back would get a touch of grandmother’s magical fingers and become lip-smacking dishes for a hearty lunch. The rest would be dried or pickled and carefully stored in enormous jars that would join the many others in the dark confines of the attic and found their way back into the kitchen only on a rainy day.

At home, father made his way to the vegetable market every evening with a cloth bag in hand. The place would be abuzz with vendors who occupied every inch of the sidewalks, selling their day’s fresh harvest. I watched father make his choices — sometimes striking a bargain and at other times giving into their demands.

There was the old lady who had spent the day picking and bundling up fresh herbs and leaves that father bought without a second thought and almost always paid a rupee extra earning him a blessing in return.

There was the smiling coconut vendor who gave away a tiny piece of sweet white coconut meat to children who accompanied his customers, a goodwill that earned him many customers with happy, hungry children in tow.

Those were the days when ‘organic’ was confined to the Oxford dictionary and goodwill was yet to become a marketing technique.

Left in a dilemma

This week, when I was at the supermarket, I spotted bunches of fresh green palak leaves stacked to perfection on one side with its equally-fresh organic counterpart stacked on the other. I was left in a dilemma as to whether it was healthier to feed my family to cubes of cottage cheese simmered in blanched and pureed palak leaves that have been treated to a good healthy dose of pesticides, or a crisp green batch of the same that have been treated to manure (or dung) from organic-fed cows and generously watered with freshly-treated sewage water.

As my not-so-green fingers and pathetic gardening abilities, that I have not inherited from my maternal grandfather, forbade me from growing my own batch of herbs, I thought that my family will be better off on a diet minus the delicious ‘palak paneer’. I instead chose a batch of perfectly-rounded, red hydroponic variety of tomatoes. I have not bothered snooping around at Google’s doorstep trying to find faults with the hydroponic technique of farming, as ignorance, in this case at least, is bliss.

As I glanced upon the white glistening crystals of organic sugar, I willed my mind not to think of the not-so-organic techniques employed to give it its beautiful white sheen.

At the poultry section, I came across a variety of eggs, priced exorbitantly, that had a picture of a fat, healthy and happy hen that appeared to be smiling. Upon checking, I learnt that the smiling hen had actually been put on a vegetarian diet as the owner had decided to go on a mission to improve humanity’s brain function and immunity with this brand of eggs. We must applaud the owner for this creative marketing strategy and forgive the fact that this person is just earning some extra bucks in the process.

Thanks to extensive marketing techniques, coupled with a drastic increase in the educated lot of customers opting for anything that claims to be produced organically, we now have even a new brand of bottled water that claims to be organic. Yes, you heard it right — ORGANIC water.

There is already the Smart Water that apparently improves brain function, Vitamin Water to boost your health and Diet Water to make you skinny.

What could be next, a new range of gluten-free water or trans-fat-free water?

Thank goodness that even in this world of ruthless industrialisation and inhumane marketing strategies, somebody still cares about our health.

Pranitha Menon is a freelancer based in Dubai.

http://gulfnews.com/opinion/off-cuff/organically-perplexed-1.2050884

Not My Cup of Tea

Standard

zen_tea_240113-800x566

In India, a cup of tea is the most common beverage to kick-start your day.

Extensive promotions of Western-style coffee bars that have sprouted across the country luring the ‘cool’ generation with lattes and other caffeinated beverages are yet to rob a country of its love affair with a hot glass of ‘chai’.

In my family, tea is more than a ritual that you begin your day with.

It is the elixir of life itself.

The deliciously warm magic potion became a joyful addition in times of happiness, an aromatic balm that can soothe your sorrow, a faithful companion on a bored day, a welcome addition to the warmth and flavor to a plate of crispy ‘pakoras’ on a rainy day, a soulful mate fueling your thoughts in times of quiet intellect or simply because you crave for yet another cup.

It has been the essential and integral part of the rhythm of life for every member of my family – except me.

I was the Horlicks baby who had the audacity to throw up at the mere sight or aroma of my family’s favorite beverage.

I gradually got used to relatives stop midsentence an intense session of gossip and stare with their open mouths unceremoniously showcasing their tea- stained dental makeup when they heard me refuse a hot cup and chose to sip on water instead. Mother was bombarded with questions as a few handy tips were thrown in along with plotting ways to introduce me the beverage before I turned into a complete anti-tea outcast.

A few had gone a step ahead and declared that my I-don’t-drink-tea ways might even come in the way of my happy marriage, an area of research that even the acclaimed Stanford University is yet to prove – the correlation between a happy marriage and passionate drinking tea.

Luckily, my in-laws or the husband are blatantly unaware of this prophecy as they are more than happy to lend me a cup of coffee during tea times at home.

To this day, I have friends and family who don’t waste a moment to comment on my antisocial untea-friendly ways as I politely refuse a cup and stick to my choices.

Over the years, I have fine-tuned my tea making skills with variations as per what the occasion demands. I have even come to enjoy ‘the Sulaimani’ or the spiced black tea.

So if you happen to visit us at home, be sure to enjoy a steaming cup of cardamom or spiced ginger or mint tea but with a traditional filter-‘kaapi’ lover for company.

But I love You Daddy

Standard

Happy-Fathers-Day-Clip-Art-Images-2-1024x695

What had been a mild cold and discomfort soon turned into a full-blown migraine headache. If I knew that the rest of the afternoon would be spent nursing it in the confines of a dark bedroom, the husband and Sid were well aware that they free to do all they wish without the bickering lady of the house to remind them (some 200 times) that books, newspapers, pens and pencils were yet to develop legs to walk back into their places or that post a school day no miracle would get homework magically completed or that passion for your nation does not essentially include multitasking your son’s homework with cheering for eleven Indian men who were set on leaving no stone unturned to bring back the ICC Champions Trophy home.

So, when I made a comeback into the world that I had temporarily left for a good two hours, the vision that greeted me threatened to bring back the migraine in full force.

Father and son were dressed in their favorite ‘Men in Blue’ jersey as were the eleven men on the television. Father multi tasked between his e-mails on the laptop before him, watching and cheering the cricket match, helping Sid with his homework while his eyes occasionally strayed in the direction of a busy toddler in an undeterred creative spree.

Sid completed his Math problems between cheering and throwing in his views on the ongoing game.

To my annoyance, a single instruction from the husband got them cleaning and clearing up with the living room back to its former glory. Sid had not only acquired a few cricketing tips that he begged to enlighten me on but had surprisingly completed all of his studying and home work for the day. Little Princess, who had missed her afternoon nap, was surprisingly fresh after an extra dose of shredding the day’s newspaper.

I spent the rest of the evening pretending to deal with post-migraine blues while nursing my guilty conscience as I questioned my ‘no fun’ parenting skills as much as I was left in a dilemma if I must risk thanking the husband or be offended for showing Sid better means of spending an afternoon post school.

I think I will wish him instead.

With Father’s day just around the corner, here is wishing every little girl’s first hero, every boy’s friend, foe, boon, bane, banker, coach, adviser –  all rolled into one, my children’s father, my father and all the wonderful fathers of the world – Happy Father’s Day!

Recycling Slogans for a Greener Planet

Standard

world_environment_day_2015_by_shovinked-d8w2dnr

Little Princess took a cutout of the Honorable Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, embracing the French President in a bear hug at their meeting in Paris where they together put a common front on the need to fight for climate change, for her ‘news clip of the day’ at school.

The rest of the evening was spent repeating the words, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi says, we need to save our Earth.”

What was left unsaid was that as Mr. Modi vowed to protect the environment just as Mr. Trump dumped the Paris Climate Pact while the self-assured new diplomat from France – Macron – had gone a step ahead and recycled Mr. Trump’s slogan –  ‘Make our planet great again’.

As we leave the future of dear Earth in the hands of our political leaders hoping it gets a much-deserved new lease of life and a breath of fresh air –  are we doing our tiny bit to sustain our home – for us, our future and our children?

Little Princess and her class decided to celebrate Environment Day with puppets made from recycled material. I wondered what could be ‘effectively’ recycled – the cozy couch that was the husband’s favorite seat, the television or could it be Sid’s cricket bat?

We settled for Sid’s old socks, old newspaper, lots of old buttons and yarn. Even my cousin (God bless her) did her bit and recycled her daughter’s doll’s dress (without her daughter’s knowledge of course) for me.

The puppet which was carried to school with much zeal has not yet returned and the news clip continues to make its trip to school and back untouched.

But when I left an empty can of milk by the kitchen counter, Little Princess picked it up and dumped it in the little bin that holds old plastic and cans that will soon be dropped at the nearest recycling center and she jumped up and down saying, “Prime Minister Modi says we need to save our Earth.”

Okay, I have done my bit!

 

References : http://gulfnews.com/opinion/thinkers/macron-finds-his-feet-in-a-world-of-strongmen-1.2038431

App-ily Procrastinating

Standard

6ce07f3a602c3c527a8814b5752a2a73

If gravity is the force that keeps your feet firm on the ground, then procrastination is the force that keeps you from doing anything and everything other than the task at hand.

At the beginning of every week, I would decide to do at least three blog posts (one for the blog and two just to be ahead of time) along with a list of other tasks.

The beginning of the week is spent on research – extensive research about everything under the sun except the topics in question.

The middle half finds me locked in tasks like attempting complex postures under the guidance of a yoga instructor on YouTube, whose hands and feet are extraordinarily elastic, leaving mine as mere unmovable extensions of my body; an hour of breathing exercises to clear my mind as I reminisce on my many plans to make the world a better place, that in turn drives me into watching loops of inspirational videos that begin with real ‘inspirational gurus’ and end up with stand-up comedians .

The end of the week finds me looking at everything in a new light – one that I hope can magically twist itself into an interesting topic to blog about.

I look at fussy Little Princess chew on every morsel of food 78 times and wonder if it is my cooking abilities I must work on or improving my pathetic time management abilities.

Ah! that is when I turn to the modern miracle – an app – the instant life saver, your aspirin, Neosporin, doctor, weight watcher, tracker and so much more rolled into one.

And Google (as always) has just more than one that will rescue me out of my procrastination ways.

The Yelling Mom ‘yells’ a tune of your choice from an array of obnoxious alerts reminding you of scheduled tasks.

Finish combats procrastination by sorting scheduled tasks into short-term, mid-term and long-term due dates.

Procraster app uses prompts and short-term rewards to help tackle tasks one at a time.

So, now I have not one, but three ‘anti-procrastination’ apps on my phone waiting for me to update the list of tasks to be accomplished.

I know I need do that NOW.  Or at least today. Okay, may be tomorrow.

Wait, a detailed in-depth research on how to go about doing it would be a great start or perhaps another app, that will kick a start to my anti-procrastination one.

Dear friends, wishing you all a wonderful Sunday and a happy week ahead. For all you procrastinators out there, I hope these apps will help make your life more productive ( I don’t get paid for advertising those) but just in case you are already using it, I hope you feel better that there is one more addition to the ever-growing procrastination club.

Spinning Trouble

Standard

31b3b1be2e3cb181bbe2b26fa464f323  1d8ec4537c75af5e5e0fbb3b18f8b71b

When I caught Sid playing a game of desk cricket (a solo form of the game that required neither audience, fellow players nor rules – just a pencil doubled as a bat that struck the worn eraser that became the ball) between math problems, I, like the zealous parents of the screen-addicted generation of kids who hoped to improve their children’s attention span and even spin out the genius that hibernate in deep crevices of their busy minds, bought him the most popular toy that is all the rage.

Now, he is seen spinning that little piece of plastic between solving his math problems.

If you are blatantly unaware of the ‘fidget spinners’, you must pinch yourself awake for the world is spinning back to basics having progressed from the age of 8K televisions, quantum computers and 6D video games to little ball-bearing plastic devices that can be rotated around your fingers enticing your busy mind into its futuristic magical spell.

My early mornings were, for a short while, a culmination of physical exercises that involve crawling, crouching with arms stretched out sweeping the darkness enveloping my son’s bedroom and my entire being telescoped into the single sensation of touch trying to locate his spinner, that I feverishly hoped, will exercise my creativity after the puppets I made for Little Princess’s literary week at school became aliens instead of cats.

I went back to listening to Tibetan monks when I heard that the toy claimed by its manufacturers to boost concentration (without tests on rats and guinea pigs) has been banned from classrooms after it became a raging distraction among students.

Physics achieved its purpose when a physicist from Denver warned the spinning generation that a harmonized cascade of at least 10 million fidget spinners (lined with thin circular magnets), aligned in the direction of their spin is enough to throw the Earth’s center of gravity out of alignment causing widespread effects on the climate.

It is no child’s play that 5 million have been sold already.

Just in case the prophecy of the concerned physicist is true, we need not lose sleep over the effects of global warming or a nuclear attack to claim us.

A few million kids fidgeting in unison with little pieces of plastic will do.

No kidding that!