Friday, 24 December 2010

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Still on the BB, just couldn't resist this Gender Tag:-)

I’m still on a break; that part of it hasn’t changed but I did take some advice to heart where many of you advised me not break away completely, to post an odd picture or a forward or do any tag which comes my way. It did make sense to me. And when Masood and Deeps tagged me with this gender tag I was thrilled. I really didn’t want my archives to show July 2010 as zero.

Now this tag originated from IHM’s page and the past week saw this tag on almost every bloggers’ page this side of town[as in within our circles]. And I was not going to let it go without a try.
The tag is called ‘My Sins against Gender-Stereotypes’. We are supposed to list at least ten things you have ever wanted or done which your gender is not supposed to.And you must tag twelve blogging friends or else you will be cursed to wear blue clothes pants if you are a woman and pink shirts if you are a man – for next twelve years. So here goes……



# When I sit down to watch TV, the remote control will be in my possession. Heaven save anybody who takes it and tries to change the channel;-/.

# When I was younger I had a Hero Puch[a GEARED bike mind u]; while I didn’t mind the bigger vehicles overtaking me, woe betide anybody on a TVS or a sunny who overtook me. I would be incredulous at their audacity and within minutes fly past them to mark my presence and then turn back to smirk at them before speeding away into the horizon.

# I am more partial to the fragrance men wear….I find most perfumes for women too fruity or ‘sweet-sweet’.

# I make the lamest of excuses and am genuinely perplexed when others look at me with raised eyebrows.

# Only when somebody calls my name out atleast 3 times do I answer. The 1st 2 calls just don’t register, honestly.

# I don’t mind cooking but it astounds me how I manage to use up every spoon and utensil to make a single dish & oh how I hate the cleaning up afterwards.

# I love receiving flowers but would never think of buying them for somebody. What a waste of money really!!!! Instead I’ll buy them expensive cake and hang around hoping they’ll share it with me.

# I don’t mind splurging on the latest electronic device but will think 10 times before buying a frying pan.

# Other minor details like washing cars & huge water tanks, taking care of utility bills, splashing in the dirtiest puddles, taking apart fixing electronic gadgets, flying kites, driving the family everywhere, joy-riding on a Yahama rx100 when my friends father was having his siesta[my best friend Neetu & I would stealthily push the vehicle to the corner of the street and then take turns riding it], bringing friends home without warning are all the other crimes which I am guilty of.

I enjoyed doing this tag and had a grin on my face the whole time I was penning this down. I do realize this isn’t exactly what IHM meant when she created the tag but my fingers wouldn’t cooperate with my brain and let me pen awesome stuff about me and the result is before u;-(.
Meanwhile, majority of all the 12 bloggers I’m tagging here on various stages of Blog Breaks or posting very sporadically, I'm trying to interest them back in with this tempting tag:

Amrita[I really hope u'll get back with this tag:-)]

Anita[Go on, unleash the truth on us;-D]

Blunt Edges[Get back soon, waiting to read ur take on this;-D]

Dil se[Do take it up:-)]

Horizon[It's tradition; I always welcome my 'newest' visitors with a tag:-)]

ISH[please dont make ur blog private...I have no other way to get to High Heel confidential;-(]

Lostworld[I'd like to read ur take on it;-D]

Ramesh[please make it a sunday post.....I've no doubt u'll make it worth our while;-D]

Samvedna [I'd like to read ur experiences:-))]

Suma[high time u got back on the wagon;-))]

WannabeWriter[If u dont do this tag I going to be 'katti' with u for life;-/]

Wanderlust[Why do u keep disappearing;-(]

And dont forget to paste the signature image onto the tag:-))

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

On a BB

There’s too much happening in my life right now and I feel so terrible that I am not able to post regularly. Earlier I used to post twice a week but now I find myself putting up a post once in 2 weeks…...that too with great difficulty.

The realization took a few weeks to sink in and especially after the exit of my lifeline read maid;-(. Past 2 months have been hectic; been busy with guests, the kids’ exams and housework. I feel like a total jerk when I go to the pages of blog friends & realize I hadn’t been there for weeks. Where is all the time flying???
It reached the heights when Anjuli mailed me saying that she was going to mention me in one of her posts & I go to her page in the last week of May to see her participating in a month long blogathon which had just a few days left. I didn’t realize it had been that long I visited her. And I was hopping mad at myself for missing out on the prize she gave away. And what’s worse now is that I realize the lethargy I feel reflects even in my commenting; and that’s really getting me down coz I pride myself on being good commenter.
Blogging was something I started when I had a lot of time on my hands…the company I was working for was going downhill & there was no work at all on some days. It was fun then. I felt privileged when people came on their own and started commenting on my posts. There was so much to say then. Once I left the job the number of posts dwindled but I bravely plowed on. Infact I must be the only ‘regular’ blogger out here who’s been at it for almost 3 years and still not reached her 200th post.

At first I thought I’ll end it all as in stop blogging but I just couldn’t bear the idea of a total termination. I have ‘met’ so many like-minded people out here who have become good friends now. Nope, no way was I going to give it all up.

And so now I’m toying with the idea of a blog break. The summer hols are coming up and I’m going to be terribly busy anyways; nope, not going to be specific and say that I’m going to be away for 2 or 6 months but just hope it’s not going to be for ever;-(.

It actually breaks my heart to do this but I need to get a few things in order. I'm not going to take ur leave and all that jazz coz I wouldn't know how to....so in short, take care everybody, be good, work hard, party harder, drink lots of water and dont do things that I wouldn't do. I hope to be back as early as possible.



And oh, just an afterthought; there are so many of u out there who pass this way, read and go away. Do drop a line, it will make me feel really good and who knows it may be just the inspiration I need to get started again:-)).

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Dune Bashing is so cool really!!!!!

My friend was here in Dubai last week with her son on vacation. They were here for a mere 5 days but the amount of activities we packed into those days left me with no time for anything else. And after she left I needed around 7 days to recover; that’s why no posts for 2 weeks;-P

It was lovely having Chaitra staying with me; though we’ve known eachother for almost 15 yrs there were so many firsts. I have tasted her cooking many times in the past but she never had what I made until now, we spent hours talking and discovered surprising changes in eachother, old times were discussed and reminisced in detail as was marriage and motherhood. And when the children took to each other easily we were overjoyed.

We did the usual sight-seeing and among the experiences was the Desert Safari which stood out; now this is a trip which is a must-do on a tourist’s list to get a feel of Dubai. It is a half day trip where we are taken into the desert and shown what desert-living is all about. Well ok not that ‘real’ but close as they come and they focus on the good bits which makes it bearable. But even then it was summer for goodness sakes.

So when my friend requested me to go along I told her an emphatic NO….for many reasons. For one I like to take my trips in comfort and spending ½ a day in the sweltering heat was not my idea of fun. Secondly there is something called dune-bashing wherein before reaching the camp we are taken into the ‘proper’ desert[where for miles you see only sand and sand-dunes like in the movies] and the 4 wheel drive you are traveling in is made to thrash up & down the sand dunes. The driver deliberately jerks the vehicle up & down and the passengers get a kick out of it.

Now this is what scared me the most. I’m a poor traveller with a motion-sickness problem; infact I’m so sensitive that I get funny feelings in my stomach if I rock too hard on the recliner in the living-room. Yes really;-/. When I was a child the problem was so bad that I always had a plastic-cover tucked away in my school-bag for emergencies. Now I’m like sooooo much better but the fear is still there. The only vehicles I can breathe easily are in the auto and the train, the rest are just tolerated for their uses.

Oh well coming back to the main subject at hand……dune-bashing was precisely the reason why I never wanted to go on a desert-safari in these years. My friend was disappointed ofcourse but understood my fear & didn’t make a fuss & so I call the one person I know in this area of expertise to arrange this trip. In spite of the short notice he agreed to arrange it but was aghast to hear I had never been on one in these 10 years I’ve lived here. And he literally ate my head….he coaxed, cajoled, waxed eloquently on the exhilarating desert-safari experience and made it sound like I would not have lived my life fully if I didn’t go on one. Inspite of my fears I wondered if I was missing out on something all these years. Then suddenly something he said just overpowered all of my doubts and I recklessly agreed. I thought what the heck…..in those 7 hrs of supposedly pure unadulterated fun what’s a mere 20-30 minutes of dune-bashing. Right?????

So armed with a light lunch, anti-motion sickness tablets and plastic covers we boarded the vehicle. My better-half who has a bad back and my younger daughter opted not to come. My elder daughter and my friend’s son were so excited. On the way the vehicle stopped to pick up a Portuguese couple and soon we were on our way. After an hour or so when it didn’t look like we were reaching anywhere soon I gave into my thirst, opened a can of Mirinda & took 2 tiny sips.

Almost immediately we reached a camel farm where we clicked pictures of camels & fed the curious animals with bread and the rest of the Mirinda[yep they love fizzy drinks] after which the dune bashing started immediately. It didn’t take me 3 minutes to come to the conclusion that drinking the Mirinda was one of the idiotic decisions taken in my entire life. I bravely pasted a smile on my face but went a deathly white. While the rest of the group shouted “Whooo-hoooo” and “faster, faster”[show-offs, they were all slying looking at me everytime they were saying it;-/] I was grimly hanging onto the thoughtfully provided handles on the top. The driver, a Syrian had this curious habit of saying “bye-bye” in a sing-song voice everytime he going to plunge down the side of the dune; the car would then slide down the slope almost like as if it would topple over and my stomach would plummet in the same speed making me swallow uncomfortably.

My daughter was laughing delightedly and shouting “Faster, faster” with a half-crazed look on her face. I looked at her wryly wondering how she could be so different from me, then narrowed my eye-brows suspiciously and thought back to the time she was born. After all she did lie in the nursery along with many other kids, was there a possibility my own flesh and blood got switched with this brat. Goodness I really have to discuss this with the better-half….maybe a DNA test…..

And I puked, but not before I fished out the plastic cover and buried my face into it. Just when I was congratulating myself for hitting it right into the cover the vehicle bucked & it spilt. If you are thinking “yecch, ewwwwwww……sick” just imagine me. The vehicle stopped, there was a deathly silence filled with pity, guilt[u know coz they were enjoying & I wasn’t] & a sour Mirinda stink….I was so embarrassed & hopping mad at myself. Everybody scrambled out eager to get away. My daughter loudly criticizes “Mama, you didn’t hold the plastic cover properly, you should be more careful”. Giving her a piercing “wait till I get you alone” look I stumbled out & cleaned up. The rest of them walked around clicking pictures and I breathed deeply drinking in the surprisingly cool breeze in the middle of the beautiful barren land.

They were standing at the edge, contemplating sliding down the dune and ran the idea by us. We vetoed it ofcourse.

The rest of the trip went off fine. We reached the camp, witnessed a glorious sunset, rode on camels, got henna tattoos on our bodies, carried falcons on our wrists, watched a documentary on Sheikh Zayed[the founder of UAE], gorged on Arabic food, watched belly-dancing & other curious forms of entertainment. The belly-dancer was gorgeous and not at all like the thin fair creatures you see on tv; she was a mature, dusky Moroccan woman whose graceful movements mesmerized us from the start. I could see Nikita watching all her moves closely and had to hide a smile when she whispered sadly that she wont be able to do a particular dance-step; well I had to agree coz the belly-dancer was balancing a long stick horizontally on her generously endowed upper torso;-D

When I think about it now I’m so glad I took Nikita along. I almost didn’t coz I didn’t want Naina to feel bad[Naina[6yrs] I knew for sure wouldn’t have enjoyed the dune-bashing, and so when I explained how it was going to be she willingly stayed back with her father]. Nikita threw herself whole-heartedly into having fun and reveled in the whole experience. She even got up to join the belly-dancer along with the others at the end of the performance. And in the middle of everything she found time to make a sand-castle too; I smiled in indulgence at her boundless energy but it was wiped off almost immediately when I realized she was using up all the water in the unattended Aquafina bottles, to make it;-/.

As for me I’m glad I went for it. So many times I say NO without thought and miss out on different experiences. I doubt I’ll ever put myself thru another round of dune-bashing but I don’t for a moment regret the one I experienced and there is this decision I made that I will open my mind to all ideas and experiences and give them a fair chance. Who knows I may even end up enjoying a few like this one. All but for one thing….it will be a long time before I drink Mirinda again.

And as to how the friend finally convinced me to go on this desert safari…..





He said something like “Just think about it, you can blog about the whole experience when you get back” and believe me when I say, that very minute all my reservations went flying out of the window;-D

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

The Long and Short of it

Sometime last week UAE got her first GOLD ATM and is the first country after Germany to do so. Abu Dhabi's Emirates Palace Hotel became the first hotel in the world to install "gold to go, a gold vending machine," The exterior of the machine is coated with a thin layer of gold and offers customers 320 items to choose from, ranging from gold bars that can weigh up to 10 grams, to customized gold coins. The Gold rates are constantly updated[every 10 mins] inside the shiny machine courtesy, a built-in computer connected to a dealer which sells gold online.

We discussed the news here in surprise and delight…….I mean, what next??? Imagine pushing money through a slot and getting gold in return. A definite jump from the age-old method of visitng a jewellery shop and selecting a piece after hours of careful scrutiny. Most of us got a kick out of it and are hoping they'll place a few of them in Dubai too......u bet 80% of the population will want to try it atleast once;-D.

Now that I think of it, UAE is always in the news for one record or the other. For a country which was just a desert in the 60’s to transform into the most happening hotspot of the Middle East in mere 20-30 yrs is a record achievement by itself. While the late Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan is credited with both holding the young United Arab Emirates together after the British withdrawal in 1971, and overseeing the development of his own state[Abu Dhabi] during his 38-year reign, Dubai is treated as the brainchild of Sheikh Rashid Al Maktoum and his visionary son, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the current ruler. Honestly, it’s hard to pick another country which has experienced such rapid changes in modern times.

Most of us are aware of the World’s tallest tower Burj Khalifa which was inaugurated early this year; at 2716.53 feet (828 m) high the Burj Khalifa located in Dubai has 160 floors & more than 500,000 sq m of space for offices and apartments-setting the new world record for the Tallest building.
It's about twice the height of the Empire State Building; you can see its spire from anywhere in Dubai[95km any direction] & lays claim to the highest occupied floor, the tallest service lift, the world's highest observation deck - on the 124th floor & with the world's highest mosque & swimming pool located on the 158th & 76th floors.

Spending more time on this line of thought I was staggered to find out so many biggest, largest, tallest, richest and fastest records of UAE that I simply had to put them down here…

Biggest man-made islands: The Palm Islands, Dubai are the world's biggest man-made islands and form the shape of a palm tree when seen from the sky. It houses a variety of tourist attractions like restaurants, spas and theaters, as well as residential homes.

Tallest hotel: The Burj Al Arab now synonymous with the image of Dubai is the tallest hotel in the world, standing at 320.94 m (1,052 ft) high from ground level to the top of its mast; built on a man-made island, the hotel shaped like a sail, has 202 suites, 28 'double-height' storeys and covers a total floor area of 111,480 m². It’s the world’s only 7 star hotel and every tourist takes atleast 1 picture with the imposing structure in the background as proof that he’s been to Dubai;-D.

Highest Date Palm cultivation: The UAE is recognised as the leading cultivator of date palms: In 2009, UAE received the Guinness records certificate, which reads: "The world record for the most palm trees planted in 10 years is 42 million and was achieved by the UAE."

World’s richest city: In March, 2007, the Forbes Magazine declared Abu Dhabi the richest city in the world. Its 420,000 citizens, who sit on one-tenth of the world’s oil, are worth about $17m apiece.

Fastest growing city: Dubai has been declared one of the fastest growing cities in the world; 15% of all building constructions during last 10 years in the world were done in Dubai and about 15 to 25% of the cranes of the world have been playing with 70 billion € have been currently invested in building projects there.

Among the other note-worthy records ….

The largest seashell mosaic: On 17 January 2010, Guinness World Records® was present in Dubai, UAE to adjudicate the record attempt for the largest seashell mosaic. The mosaic which was made entirely from seashells resembled Dubai’s police logo which is a dhow sailing on sea waves. The 60,000 seashells mosaic was built in 32 days and 59 persons took part in gathering and classifying the seashells.

Largest Acrylic Panel: The Dubai Mall aquarium was awarded the Guinness World Record for the World's Largest Acrylic Panel; at 750 mm thick, the acrylic viewing panel is built to withstand the enormous pressure of 10 million litres of water used in the aquarium, but transparent enough to give visitors clear views of the 33,000 plus marine animals on display.

Largest awareness ribbon of flowers: The largest awareness ribbon made of flowers was 28.71 m (94 ft 2 in) long and was made of 105,000 pink carnations. Unveiled on 16 November 2007, in Dubai, UAE, it was created on behalf of the Dubai Healthcare City to raise awareness for breast cancer research.

Largest inflatable sculpture: The largest inflatable sculpture in the shape of a bottle was 1500 m³ (52,972 ft³) in volume. The bottle was 25 m (82 ft) high and 11.9 m (39 ft) wide and was created by Vitaene C at the Dubai Shopping Festival in Dubai, UAE, on 28 January 2007.

Largest parade of Mercedes-Benz cars: The largest parade of Mercedes Benz consisted of 153 vehicles and was organised by Gargash Enterprises with the support of their customers. The convoy started in Dubai and ended at Endurance City, Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa, UAE, on 21 April 2007.

Tallest Flagpole: Abu Dhabi has a flagpole staking its claim as the tallest in the world, at 123 metres.

Costliest License plate: Another record-breaking feat for the capital came in February 2008, with the sale of the most expensive car plate in the world. License plate No. 1 was bought at auction for a staggering Dh52.2 million by Abu Dhabi businessman Saeed Al Khouri, breaking the previous record of plate No. 5, which was sold to his cousin for Dh25.2 million.

The world's largest cylindrical chocolate bar - weighing 370 kilos and measuring 2.25 metres in circumference and 82 cm in height was unveiled at Hamarain Centre as part of the Dubai Food Surprises event in Dubai.

The Not-So-Remarkable But Nevertheless Records……

Largest Cardboard Box Pyramid: Lulu Hypermarket in Dubai has built the ‘World’s Largest Cardboard Box Pyramid Display’ out of thousands of Air Wick Automatic Spray units.

Largest Kandoora: At 2008's Dubai Winter Shopping Festival, millions flocked to see THE WORLD'S LARGEST KANDOORA

Most clothes pegs clipped on one hand in one minute: is 48 and was achieved by Mohammed Ahmed Elkhouly (UAE) at Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai, UAE, on 21 April 2007.

World's biggest shopping trolley: Measuring 639cm in length, 250cm in breadth and 900cms high, it took 15 people five days to build it, and was constructed by Century Mall.

Largest Banner: The world's largest banner measuring 20,000 m² (215,278 ft²) was created for Sorouh Real Estate PJSC (UAE) by Ad-Air Group Plc (UK) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on 22 October, 2007.

Largest mattress & bedset: Intercoil International who make beddings and orthopedic sleep products in the Middle East, won an accolade by the Guinness Book of World Records for manufacturing the largest mattress in 2000 and the largest bed set in the world, during DSF 2007.

Longest chopsticks: In April 2008, the Guinness Book of World Records sent a certificate to Dubai's Marco Polo Hotel confirming the hotel's entry for the longest wooden chopsticks in the world. At 22.5 feet long, the pair of chopsticks in Dubai beat the record set by China's Shenyang Province.

Highest amt of Cans crushed: The Coca-Cola Company sets the 69th new Guinness World Record in UAE for having the highest number of Burn energy drink cans crushed[61,106 cans in three minutes] during a monster truck show in Dubai, UAE, claiming a record announced by Guinness World Records.

The future records in store:

The largest Airport: The Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai is planned as the world's largest passenger and cargo hub, ten times larger than Dubai International Airport[this one is impressive by itself] and Dubai Cargo Village combined. With a 100,000 parking slots this air facility will also bear the distinction of having the largest parking facility in the world. It is 50% complete and if everything goes according to plan it will be fully operational by 2017.

Rotating Tower: The Dynamic Tower is due to be up and running by the end of 2010 will be the world's first moving building! This amazing 80-story tower with revolving floors will give the building a shifting shape, and will house 80 different suites and will never look the same twice, according to developers.

Longest driverless train: The Dubai Metro launched into operations in September last year is now only partially working; once both the red and green tracks are complete, Dubai Metro will enter the record books as the world’s longest as in lengthiest driverless train system.

UAE maybe a tiny dot on the world map but there’s no doubt about the fact that she’s keen to make her mark. Money has never been an issue in this part of the world; dearth of a good idea the only holdup. As of now the recession has been hard on the real-estate & automobile sectors but there’s no doubt that it is only a temporary hitch; the best my dear friends is yet to come.

P.s: I got some of the information from here, here, here and here. There could be a few records I may have missed out, so if any of you who know more drop me a line I’d love to add it here.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Aaa bayle mujhe maar

I don’t have a single thing to tell you other than the fact that I’ve been cleaning and scrubbing and mopping and washing and rinsing and……..yeah, yeah I know you’ve heard it all before and its beginning to get boring listening to the same ole nonsense sad story again and again.

And oh to crown it did I tell you that I’ve got a cold again…all that working in the water you know;-(…ok…ok…..no I’m not, yet again going into detailed explanation of my symptoms.

But other than these 2 things I really have nothing to write about….infact my fingers are vigorously protesting against being forced into typing simply to fill the page.

Most of the time if I’m not complaining loudly about my misfortunes to the better-half I can be found using my broken vocal cords crooning & trying to needle him. Tell you what, I’ll sing a song….like I said I love singing when my throat is bad and walking around pretending to be a duplicate Usha Uthup. Now the thing is I have no clue how to upload it into blogger. Let me google it and see if it can be done. I know videos can be embedded but no idea how to make that video….in this case audio.

[An hour later]

You know it took me so much time to read up all the stuff on how to record and embed it in blogger. And guess what, when I'm adding the audio file what I'm doing is making a PODCAST....sounds hep huh;-D.

Goodness the things I do to make a post, I wanted to sing Dumaro dumaaaa but the thing is I just know the 1st 2 lines.....gimme some time.......

Ok here’s the song….now don’t laugh, it’s a very special song for the better-half & me actually. The very 1st [or was it the 2nd] wedding anniversary, the better-half and I spent it apart with me in Bangalore & he in Dubai. We were quite heart-broken naturally. When he called to wish me I told him to switch on the computer & play a particular file…….he called me back after sometime & the response was very gratifying;-D.

It’s a .wav file around 4.3mb, sorry it so big; I did try to convert it to an mp3 but the laptop kept insisting that the system administrator had to give permission[to download the software] & the SA is right now working hard to bring in the supper, somewhere on the other side of town;-P.
Ok go ahead and listen but before that I need to convince u that .....
...if u find the song off-tune, please go immediately and get checked up. I'm sure there's something wrong with ur ears.
...if u find the lyrics all jumbled up..... u r way out of touch with the new stuff, u bet I'm singing the latesht remixed version.
...and the trembling excitement in the voice, its pure stage-fright adrenaline, I assure u.

p.s: Honestly this is the best thing about blogging; I learn something new everyday:)

p.p.s: The few of you who’ve come here the 1st time & didn’t follow what I was rambling about I need to tell you that this post is a sort of continuation of a previous post…infact 2 posts.....yep its a never ending story;-P

p.p.p.s: The title is a proverb in hindi which loosely translates to...."U r asking for it"

p.p.p.p.s: Bring in the brick-bats gently…….if you didn’t like it, start of with “Nancy it was ‘nice' but......”.

[20 mins later....]

p.p.p.p.p.s: Ummm......the much-hyped podcast is not working........while I figure out how to fix it, u can listen to the song here[if u want to ie;-P].  

[a day later...]

I still havent figured out how to do it.....I mean the links are added as per instructions from 'Blogger Help' but it doesnt show on the main page, no idea why;-(. Is there anybody who can throw some light on this?????

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Alister Cameron says blogging is not about writing posts....

I was frantically googling “How to maintain a spic & span house, especially when guests are arriving in 15 minutes“ when I came across a few quotes on Blogging. Entranced, I did some digging and came up with some more interesting and candid views about blogging. Some were astute while others were plain hilarious. Here, judge for yourselves:


“Your blog is your unedited version of yourself.” – Lorelle

"The heart of blogging is linking...linking and commenting. Connecting and communicating - the purpose of the Internet." ~ George Siemens

"Blogging is hard because of the grind required to stay interesting and relevant." ~ Sufia Tippu

"Blogs are whatever we make them. Defining 'blog' is a fool's errand." ~ Michael Conniff

"Bottomline of a successful blog is what else but solid contents" ~ Partha Bhattacharya

"The ease and appeal of blogging is inspiring a new group of writers and creators to share their voices with the world." ~ Unknown

"Blogging is not rocket science, it’s about being yourself, and putting what you have into it." ~ Unknown

“Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers.” ~ Brian Clark

“People have often described me as a blogger. I generally shy away from the term because, to me, bloggers are boring, self obsessed narcissists who use their website mainly as a means to discuss the inconsequential minutiae of their day to day lives.” ~ Anonymous

“I believe the term “blog” means more than an online journal. I believe a blog is a conversation. People go to blogs to read AND write, not just consume.” ~ Michael Arrington

“But there’s a bigger trend I’m seeing: people who used to enjoy blogging their lives are now moving to Twitter.”~ Robert Scoble

“The bottom line is that blogging is like sex. You can’t fake it. You can’t fake passion. You can’t fake wanting to engage with the public. If you do, it will ultimately be an unsatisfying experience for both the blogger and their readers.” ~ Kevin Anderson

“It should feel genuinely good to earn income from your blog — you should be driven by a healthy ambition to succeed. If your blog provides genuine value, you fully deserve to earn income from it.” ~ Steve Pavlina

“The more popular a person thinks he is in the blogosphere, the thinner his skin and the thicker his hypocrisy. This should be exactly the opposite: the higher you go the thicker the skin and thinner the hypocrisy.” ~ Guy Kawasaki

“In China, blogs enable millions of citizens to express their opinions with reduced political risk simply because of the sheer number of like-minded opinions online. Facing these independent voices, the old ideological machine starts to crumble.” ~ Xiao Qiang

“Yes, blogging is entertainment. It is performance. Each blog post a show, sometimes an opera, sometimes a 30 second commercial. Like a show, it may start with a bang, lead you along from song to song, have a great climatic moment, then leave the audience wanting more.” ~Lorelle Van Fossen

“As I have repeatedly written in one form or other, blogging is not about writing posts. Heck, that’s the least of your challenges. No, blogging is about cultivating a mutually beneficial relationships with an ever-growing online readership, and that’s hard work.” ~ Alister Cameron

“Unless you restrict your reading habits to a really small segment of the blogging population, or you are a blogging machine like Robert Scoble, a feed reader is only going to give you a small window of what is happening in the blogosphere.” ~ Andy Beard

“I read blogs every day, for all sorts of reasons, but I turn to blogs especially when I want to hear alternative viewpoints — for example, information on a particular medical treatment from the viewpoint of patients receiving it, rather than doctors administering it; reports from the battlefield seen through the eyes of soldiers rather than politicians; thoughts on a particular technology from the standpoint of engineers rather than executives.” ~ Jim Buckmaster

“Blogging is an art, same as any other method of self-expression. Some are better at it than others.” ~ Hugh Macleod


So many people, so many views, I simply enjoyed browsing through them. There were lots more but my guests were arriving like in 3 minutes so I reluctantly closed the window but not before saving the links. U know me, always considerate;-D. So if you are interested, you can check them out here, here and here.

Now you tell me, what does Blogging mean to You???????????

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

oohh meri phooti kismet

I'm in trouble, deep trouble.......the last week has been a nightmare. I'm freaking really!!!!

Sometime last week my friend’s maid got caught by the police and they[the police] inturn called M & husband to the police station. There they were given 2 options: pay up the fine or stay in jail till the case is tried. The maid was working illegally for them u see. Dammit 98% of the maids are working illegally here, everybody knows that & are still using their services.

You may proceed directly to the next para but for people who are interested, some gyaan about how the system works here: There are 2 ways to get maids legally working for you in Dubai or shd I say UAE.
One, we sponser one from our home country or any country but it works out very expensive & not only that we are totally responsible for her[if you hear a few horror stories from employers you’ll never feel like sponsoring one ever].
The other way is to recruit one from a cleaning company and they may send any nationality…….again they charge per hour and are quite expensive compared to the 3rd option which is illegal but the most popular option.

Here we put an ad in the newspaper[all this is illegal mind you but around 90% of the population has done this atleast once in their lifetime] stating our requirement & our location and wait for response. Now, there is large number of women who would have come under a maid’s visa after paying a lot of money to their Arab sponsors. Ideally they should be working for them but they have an understanding with the sponsor where they work independently & make more money this way. These maids work as part time or fulltime help for a nominal amount[compared to the other 2 options]; they are happy with his arrangement and we are also happy but the fact remains what we are doing is illegal but we don’t think too much about it until something like this happens.

Coming back to the topic, now M & husband had no choice. They paid up the fine and were allowed to get back home on the same day. My poor friend sounded shell-shocked when she called me to tell the whole story. The fine was bad enough and on top of it all she saw scenes like people being led into different cells handcuffed, how the policemen were doing their duty and making good amount of money legally, how she who had never been to a police station in all her life felt being treated like a criminal.

The only thing which set them apart from the rest was that they had the money[no cheques, only cash] to pay upfront and get out of here without spending too much time in the suffocating environment.

What does all this have to do with me???? Dont ask, just dont ask I might just start crying in self-pity. All this happened on the better-half's birthday. I was actually planning to get a cake & get the kids to decorate the house when M calls me & tells me all this. I was totally shocked to say the least. Yeah well, all of us know that every now and then the police do an over-all cleaning of the society where they round up all the unsuspecting souls standing at the bus-stop, etc. The ones with valid visa's are let off & the rest are carted off to jail. And there they languish till either their sponsor’s pay the fine and bail them out or they are sent back to their own country. But this is the 1st time I hear that even the people who are employing them have to pay fine.....and that too a hefty sum of dhs.51,000[works out to 6 Lakhs+ in Indian Rupees] is not an amount the common man will have lying around in his house or even in his bank account.

And so there I was sitting in shock thinking about how it could happen to anybody when the better-half walks in & He could make out something was amiss & within half an hour got the whole story out of me. And that was it. If I had any inkling I was going to set off a chain of events I wouldn’t have ever told him this. His reasoning, he doesnt have dhs.51,000 to waste on something which could be avoided….the maid had to go, Period. So here I am in front of u, a tired, haggard looking Nancy with wrinkled fingers[all that washing] sitting and typing a post hurriedly before the kids come back from school... oh pleease overlook all the typos.

I'm so desperate really.....and I see no way out. When I picture myself mopping floors, cleaning bathrooms, washing utensils, changing bedsheets, taking trash out, doing loads of laundry, ironing, watering the plants + what I was already doing and that is cooking, getting kids to study, taking them down to play, squeezing time to write posts inbetween & looking after the family's needs as a whole, my heart squeezes in terror.

Long ago I made peace with myself when realised I'm not one of those people who can multi-task and finish up with work ahead of time. I'm clean, I'm thorough but I'M SLOW. So slow that even if I’m given me a head start the tortoise will end up winning the race[now u know why my rate of posting is so low].

So I hired a maid and never looked back. When I was working she used to work fultime for me & now since I'm at home she comes in for 2 hours & takes quite a bit of weight off my shoulders. Both she and I were heart-broken….it was a typical parting scene in the end with both of us holding each others hands & reluctantly letting go. As the tip of her fingers left the tip of my fingers I realized how much I loved her & how crushed I was to let her go..……honestly she was worth her weight in gold;-(. Years ago I had written about her here.

And do you know what the funniest bit is …….nobody else, simply NOBODY ELSE sacked their help after hearing M’s story, JUST US. The only satisfaction I derive from the whole fiasco is watching the better-half walking on eggshells around me. And oh yeah he finally got around to taking me to get new furniture for the living room and our bedroom. Buttering me up I know, but I'm not going to let him off the hook in a hurry. And M, I'm not going to forgive you for a looong time.....and I absolutely forbid you to confide in me your problems esp the ones which have the potential to create mayhem in my life. And if anybody of you dares to comment how the better-half is right, u better watch it.

And, and I've got guests[remember holleyland] coming to stay over this weekend.........ohhhhhh somebody wake me up from this nightmare!!!!!!

*Title of the post: roughly translated as 'ooh my rotten luck' in English

Monday, 19 April 2010

Have the last Laugh

What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul. ~Yiddish Proverb

Were you aware that April 2010 celebrated the 34th anniversary of the National Humour Month????? Seems like a dude named Larry Wilde, took it upon himself to declare it as such sometime in 1976 and it has remained so to this day.
"Since April is often bleak and grim and taxes are due on the 15th, it can be one of the most stressful times of the year," says Wilde, author of 53 books on the subject of humor. "Besides," adds Wilde, "it's the only month that begins with All Fool's Day -- a day which has sanctioned frivolity and pranks ever since the 1500's."

Just think back and see if you can remember when it was last you laughed and laughed till your belly ached and tears were running down your cheeks. For me it was during my teenage years with my equally crazy friends in college. Actually my teenage years were a very difficult phase and unlike many people who say ‘I wish I was back in school’ I never want to go back there but the fact remains that when I look back it is the laughter I remember more than the tears.

We laugh for many reasons…..mostly when someone or something is really funny but sometimes we also use laughter to hide our pain and to avoid ugly situations. Psychologists believe that laughter is a releasing emotion which powers out pain; it does not change the facts or the circumstances in our life but alters the way we relate to it. Like psychologist William James says “We don’t laugh because we’re happy. We’re happy because we laugh.”

Even Readers Digest’s been saying it for the past 40 yrs and they are right; Laughter is the best medicine, the antidote to all ills. Unfortunately it is an emotion which has not got its due. Did you know its been proven that a lack of a good sense of humour leads to loneliness and depression; which is why Laughter therapy and other related rehabilitation methods are much ‘happening’ nowadays.

Within my friends’ circle I was always the comedian and had this knack of making people laugh with my one-liners and expressions. I particularly remember an incident in my final year in college where we had a sort of a beauty contest within our class towards the end of the year. There were around 15 categories and the idea was to nominate all students atleast once; with titles like “Ms Beautiful eyes” and “Ms Enchanting smile”, each category had 3 nominees. Around 4 of us sat together to write down all the names amidst fun & laughter. Just as we were almost finishing up with the work I could see the other 3 looking vaguely uneasy and avoiding my eyes. They then leave me to tie up the loose ends and scurry out of the room together. I had no clue what was wrong. They come back in 5 minutes & say ultra casually that they want to add 1 more category to the contest. It was the “Ms Humorous”[or some vague title like that] category. Then it dawned on me that it dawned on them that my name did not feature any of the other categories and so they dreamed up a category where I would not look too out of place & fitted me in.  I won that category easily ofcourse…..like 48 votes out of 50. 49th vote was mine where I had politely voted for somebody else but I’m still hunting for that 50th person who thought I was not funny.

TV serials like ‘Everybody loves Raymond’ and ‘Two and a Half Men’ are a riot and I keep aside everything to give it my undivided attention. I love watching ‘America’s funniest videos’ too though my amusement here is tinged with a bit of guilt. I even sit along with my kids and watch “Tom & Jerry” and “Bugs Bunny”; though I enjoy the show I love watching the kids’ laughing more. Jim Carrey is a favourite with the better-half and I just don’t understand why. I agree he’s funny looking but how long can one watch a person pull faces in the name of acting.
The only humour(???) based programs I avoid are those ‘bakra’ kind of stuff which sometimes almost all the time makes the common man look like an idiot.

Laughter and humour have more benefits than we’ll ever think….
# We make friends easily
# It’s contagious
# It defuses potentially tense or violent situations
# It lowers our stress levels
# Enhances relationships & can improve productivity at your workplace
# Get u more comments on ur posts;-D
# Burns calories & reduces blood sugar levels
# It’s even supposed to boost our immune systems & relieve pain.

But more importantly to be able to laugh at our own self, to see ourselves with all our failings in the right perspective, is the ultimate victory.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Going Home or should I say, Coming Home

You know what……I have this weird feeling that the better-half knows more about my blog than he is letting on.

There I was minding my own business and tearing out the hair on my sparsely populated head alternatively, when out of the blue he asked if I wanted to celebrate Easter with my parents in Bangalore[and mind you this happens after I wrote my previous post about the kids giving me a hard time].
I looked doubtfully at him…. “Everybodys’ saying it’s really hot out there in India”.
He holds my gaze & says casually “I’ve got a deadline coming up at work so I can’t come.”
My eyelids dropped to hide my expression & said carelessly “Alright, the kids will be really thrilled”.
I then walk sedately to the bedroom, close the door, let out a silent whoop & do an uncoordinated war-dance. I’m quite considerate that way; he’d have been so hurt if I did it in front of him.

A few days later we were packed and on our way. Quite honestly I was looking forward to a few days without the better-half. I don’t know how it is with most of you but most of our vacations to India are very hectic with 15 days in Kerala[his parents stay there] & 15 days in Bangalore[my parents]. Atleast 2 weeks whizz by with dentist appointments, medical checkups and Bank work and Insurance and goodness knows what else. The rest of the 2 weeks will be spent visiting all the relatives, neighbours, ex-collegues, acquaintances and SHOPPING. In all this halaboo I hardly get any time to spend with my friends….actually I do manage to make time but the better-half will look at me so mournfully like I’m abandoning him, making me feel so guilty.

So this time I was looking forward to lot of ‘stretching late into the night’ conversations with my mother, shopping with my sister[I select the clothes, she pays for them…heeehaw], leisurely lunches and chai conversations with my friends; not that I drink tea but you know what I mean.

One thing I realized as soon as we reached Bangalore[dunno why but I just cant say bengaluru] is that my mom was not joking when she said it was hot. The kids and I hardly slept thru the 1st night coz we spent all the time dragging the bed from 1 corner to the other for the best position where all 3 of us would get equal amount of cool air from the old rickety fan. And just when we were dropping off to sleep an army of dogs[sounded like it really] decided to bark at the same time causing the kids to jump up in fright. I myself was quite startled but put on a calm fa├žade and explained to the kids that the dogs were having a birthday party and were singing Happy Birthday for one of their friends. It was not possible for the dogs to hold it during the day as people & vehicles kept going up and down the road, right. It was the right track to take for they calmed down immediately but it boomeranged on me coz I spent almost 1 hour after that answering questions ranging from what flavour the birthday-cake was and where they got the money to buy party-hats.

The 1st few days we hardly ventured out of the house but even then it was not at all boring. Elections for the civic polls were going on and I quite enjoyed the aggressive way each nominated party were going door-to-door campaigning. One of the popular candidates fell at my fathers feet[yes, like in the movies] and pleaded with him to give him the vote. Another candidate, a lady told us we could contact her for any problem anytime of the day/night and she’ll be at our gate within ½ an hr. Some of them were accompanied by bands which played loud music. The children watched all the drama goggle-eyed while my parents and I lazily discussed merits of each party over snacks and coffee[nope dont drink coffee, I gorged on Mama’s delicacies].

I realized the extent of their[candidates] single-mindedness only after the elections. That night the electricity went for 2 hours….and after that everyday our houses were plunged into darkness for atleast 1-2hrs. My heart went out to the SSLC students who were preparing for their final examinations the next day. Most people have invested in inverters and generators but some stubborn old-timers like my father still hung on to their candles and emergency lamps ;-/. In a way it was quite nice coz we used sit out on the verandah and talk about old times and new. My kids after the 1st day preferred to stay indoors. The mosquitoes were after their blood and left more than a few marks on their legs, hands & face.

The worst was when the electricity went off in the middle of the night. As soon as the grrring whirring fan wound down I would be up alert and hurriedly hunt around for a newspaper to fan the kids. I rather wave my hands side to side for 5 hours continuously than have them wake up and continue with the conversation about doggy birthday parties.

My friends were thrilled to hear from me but for some reason or the other we weren’t able to meet up all together. I met them just once on a one-to-one basis but spent a lot of time talking on the phone. It’s not the same anymore; what with kids and additional responsibility but our affection for eachother is unmistakable. We call eachother 15 times a day and still have so much to talk about[my mum gets so irritated even now;-D]. We can cut a conversation abruptly without explanation and call back to receive the same warm response. Girl-friends are the best, really.

I really have to tell you something here……I didn’t miss my blog as much as I thought I would. My parents are not connected to the net[it’s a long story] and I did wonder how I would live without checking my blog every hour everyday for comments. Honestly it was not so bad but yeah some nights when I didn’t get sleep my thoughts were not about God or my husband, it was about how best I was going to explain my taking off suddenly without letting u know. Yeah well ok so I'm contradicting myself;-P

Easter was wonderful with my parents and sister but dunno why my heart was not in it. I had this dream that morning that the better-half arrived at my parents’ home and gave us a lovely surprise. Spent the entire day jumping everytime the doorbell rang. I did call him to sneakily check and didn’t quite believe him when he said he was on his way to office. Easter Sundays are like any other working day in the Middle-east you see.

As days passed I realized I was missing the better-half more and more; mainly when I was doing some tedious paperwork or standing in some queue or the other. Even the kids who so eagerly looked forward to their vacation were now talking about how they’ll greet papa at the airport when they get back. When he pre-poned our flight date by 2 days I didn’t quibble at all. I even teased him about his eagerness to get us back without letting him know how I felt.

And at the airport yesterday when the kids hugged him tight, waiting for my turn I beamed at him inwardly thinking “I can get a good night’s sleep finally”.

Now coming back to what I wrote earlier…..any idea how I can find out whether he is reading my blog??? And before you ask, nope I cannot ask him…..a year or so back I swore on my refrigerator I’ll never again ask him directly.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Just some random kids' stuff

Naina: Mama I had a nighmare last night.

Mama looks at her concerned.

Naina: Mama, do u know what a nightmare is???

Mama: Yes i know, shall I explain???

Naina: Ofcourse I know what it is, I wanted to know if u knew.

Mama looks irritatedly at the all-knowing 6 yr old who thought her mother didnt knw the meaning. Nikita snickers, understanding her mothers indignation very well .

Mother[a bit worried now]: Tell me wht u nightmared about

Naina: No...no...no...

Ma: Why, why cant u tell me...was it so terrible?????

Naina: No no it was a nice nightmare.

I wish I had one of those eyes rolling emoticons to express my feelings. I didnt ask further abt the nice nightmare since I knew for sure it would be a long-winded description of a prince who fought off demons to win her hand and they lived happily ever after;-/
************************************************

Nikita goes for Arabic tuitions but Naina doesnt but she needs to learn too. Since Naina just needed to know the basics I ask Nikita to teach her. Nikita doesnt show the slighest interest. So to awaken Nikita's interest I tell her that just like how I pay Sabha didi[Arabic tuition teacher] to teach u, I'll pay u to teach Naina.

Now Nikita is interested. And we agree she'll get Dhs.10 per month if she taught Arabic to Naina. So she starts to teach Naina...soon Naina is not very happy at her sister's bossy ways and refuses to learn under her guidance. Nikita is depressed and approaches me for a solution.
I tell her "If u want the 10dhs u must find some way to make her learn".

After a while I find both of them peacefully doing Naina's arabic lessons. I was impressed with Nikita's capabilities and curious. Later I ask her how she managed to get Naina to sit thru

She replies sheepishly "I told her I'll give her half of what I get if she allows me to teach her"
*************************************************

If  I have 7 oranges in 1 hand and 9 in the other what do I have???? asks Naina to her sister.

Mama who overheard this was very happy that her children were studying even before she told them to take out their books. "My children are growing up and recognise their responsibilities" she thinks fondly and moves closer to listen to the answer.

"It means u have very large hands" Nikita answers and both fall back onto the couch and laugh gleefully.

They were quizzing eachother from a Tom & Jerry jokebook;-/
*************************************************

After 45 minutes of heightened activity I order the kids to take a break from the wild games they were playing. So they flop down on the floor and rest.

After 2 minutes.....

Naina: Its so boring

1 minute later..

a deeeeep sigh indicating boredom

after a minute

Naina: "I wish we had 2 brothers."

Nikita nods understandingly while Mama raises eyebrows

Nikita: We could name them Phineas and Ferb

Mama: Huh!!!!

Naina: Havent u seen their cartoon??? For them "there is no such thing as an ordinary day"

I looks up & silently thank the good Lord. Our days are extraordinary enough without adding 2 boys & creating bedlam

Nikita: Or I wish we had 10 sisters...then we could be the 12 dancing princess.

Mama[gets up agitatedly]: U two have too much free time in ur hands. Go get your holiday homework both of U.....NOW.
***********************************************

Nikita is engrossed in a book & I make the mistake of passing by...

Nikita: Ma, can u scratch over here please......[pointing to the portion between the 2nd and the 3rd toe]

...not there, a little bit to the left,

...no no no a bit lower

....higher, higher

Nikita[exasperatedly]: uff not like that........u r so old, its high time u learned how to follow instructions[in the same tone we use to tell her off;-/]
************************************************

In normal households mothers will sit their children down gently, point to a globe or an Atlas and tell them about different places and facts abt the world. In our household.......

Location: Bathroom

Activity: One of the kids will be sitting on the pot to pee

Mama[impatiently]: Finished???

Child: Not yet

Mama: I dont have the whole day, I've got work to do

Child: Its on its way.

but even after 30 seconds..... nothing

Mama: U r not doing potty are u???

Child: No Ma..I just need to pee

Mama[at the end of her tether]: How long doesn it take to pee??? Anybody will think its coming from the Himalayas???

Child[interestedly]: Himalayas???? Where is that???

Mama: Himalayas are mountains found in the northern most parts of India................detailed explanation follows.

And this is how they learnt about Africa, Australia, China, Sahara Desert, River Thames, the Ganges........
*********************************************

To keep them out of my hair I organised a story-writing competition and this is what Naina wrote...

One day when it was snowing Tom went out to post a letter he saw an enormous sight. He saw a bundle of cats sitting on chairs and it looked just like a party. He began to join in but the cats pushed him out and Tom became very sad.
Then Tom had an idea. He went to them and said " Please" and the cats said ok.

Moral of the story: Always say please before doing or taking something.

;-D.......dont miss the words in italics; incase u r wondering Nikita didnt have the patience & gave up half-way.

*************************************************

The Final exams are finally over and the kids have 1 whole month of holidays before they start their next session. I have my hands full and am running around like a hen without a head. Wish me luck.....there's another 3 weeks before school starts.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Please excuse me while I clear my throat

Ever noticed this peculiar habit of mine…everytime I’m sick I take great pleasure in describing my symtoms to you whether you want to hear it or not. As usual it’s my throat the infection attacks; no cold, fever or blocked nose just a throat pain and this irritating need to clear the throat all the time. And ofcourse with the throat rubbed raw the voice sounds like….like…a baritone minus the timbre. Called a restaurant to order some lunch & the waiter eagerly replied "ok sir, I’ll send the order right away". I hadn’t the energy to correct him……clearing the throat every 10 seconds is tiring business you know.

While the better-half was channel-surfing 2 days back I happened to glimpse Usha Uthup & gestured frantically[my throat’s bad remember] at him to stop there. When he looked enquiringly I rasped how I was just thinking about Usha Uthup that afternoon and voila she popped up on tv at night. What an amazing coincidence!!!

“And why were you thinking about Usha Uthup???” asks better-half curiously.
“Oh just this afternoon I was singing this song and thought I sounded like Usha Uthup." I croak airily.
 He didn’t say anything and I took it as an invitation to perform.

I clear my throat and croon “Dum maro dummmmmmmaaaaaa…….” and look at him triumphantly.

The better-half looked like he wanted to say something but he knew me too well and the mood I was in…….and quietly changed the channel. I ferociously chomp on some crystallised ginger to ease my urge to chew his head off.

[Cut]

A few days back my mom’s friend calls from Bangalore and tells me she was going on a trip to Holleyland and wanted to visit us on her way back from there.

I was like “Eh, I’ve heard of Disneyland and Al Naser Leisureland….….but what is this place you are talking about………..oooohhhh you mean Hollywood”

She was like “No, no Hollyland”

And then it clicked, she was talking about going on a trip to HolyLand…....about visiting Jerusalem, Israel and other places where Jesus lived and preached.

The better-half who understood immediately was laughing at my bewilderment. Ignoring the ruckus behind me I got into my best host-mode and croaked “You are welcome to visit us anytime Aunty, we’ll take care of everything. You just tell us the date and flight timings”

“Oh I know you don’t have any problems about me visiting you, just thought I’ll warn you I’m bringing 4 friends along with me” replied Aunty blithely.

A fit of coughing attacked me and I limply gave the phone to the better-half who also didn’t find it quite funny anymore. Entertaining 5 old ladies for a week was no joke, was it;-D

[Cut]

Surfing thru the channels uninterestedly I chance upon a pretty looking starlet mouthing a long dialogue. I paused to listen and was thinking to myself that if she was the heroine then how is that I haven’t seen her around before. The actor facing her trying to look suitably puzzled asks “I don’t understand what you are trying to say, Nancy” and I knew immediately that she could be essaying any role but the main role.
No character named Nancy in a movie ever had a leading role. If it is a Malayalam movie all Nancys' were the hero’s sister or friend who either had a dreaded disease or got raped in the middle of the movie. If it is a Hindi movie she probably was the vamp who performed 1 cabaret song and died[from a gunshot] immediately afterwards and if its an English movie she usually is the housekeeper or a lawyer.

"Why couldn’t my parents have named me with more thought? Why couldn’t they have named me Meghana or Nidhi or Niveditha….I soo like those names." muttering to myself I make a mental note to tackle my mother about it when I next speak with her.

I'll get off here and let you watch Usha Uthup singing "Dum Maro Dum Aaaaa"…….I quite enjoyed watching her after a looong time;-D


p.s: Ummm....I may have exaggerrated a bit here and there but don’t waste precious time wondering what the post was all about. Most people rest when they dont feel well but I get all charged up and attack. I was not at all in the mood to blog today but somehow if I don’t put up atleast 1 post a week…I feel guilty. You see, I love to pretend that all of you miss me. Now if anybody wants to disagree with me, feel free…..I’m just spoiling for a fight.

Monday, 8 March 2010

How Blogging helps me…

 
It’s been a mere 2+ years but it seems like I’ve been blogging for ever. Blogging has taken over my life in such a way that I now look at my life in 2 categories; Life before My Blog and Life after My Blog. *And my subconscious produces an image of my better-half looking at me incredulously* well ok I’m kidding but you know what I mean, right!!!!

When I think about the person I was before I started blogging and how I am now……nope, I’m not going to say I’m a completely changed person but there’s definitely been a difference. And I proudly list them out below:

Blogging has resulted in Improved Writing: Initially I started out writing for myself and so didn’t bother too much about legibility, syntaxes or continuity. But gradually the fact that many people were reading my posts started to dawn and that did make a difference to my writing. I became more careful about how I presented my subject and tried hard to bring clarity in my thoughts which I feel has resulted in improved writing; I can’t say for sure though, the only person who can tell me that is YOU.

Blogging made me more focused: I used to be somebody who had problems concentrating on a task to the finish but blogging is something I have not tired of even after 2 years. I pride myself on the fact that I complete what I start…..all my posts have concluding paragraphs don’t they???? Infact I never realized how much patience I had until I clicked NO on the word document I wrote on Global Village & watched the whole post disappear into nothing. I put my head down and wept. Unlike most posts which come out of my head, I had gone thru a hundred links for this one. I sat down the next day again, hunted out all those links and wrote the whole post painstakingly from scratch. I don’t ever remember putting in this much effort even for school exams.

Blogging helped me accept compliments more gracefully: I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is but compliments make me uncomfortable. Say for eg, somebody complimented me on a particular dish I made I would go all flustered and immediately explain that the vegetables were really fresh, how the masala was handground and brought all the way from Kerala and thats why it was so good. The better-half would time and again tell me there was no need to go into long-winded explanations and just accept the compliments at face value. When I started getting compliments for the posts I wrote, for a long time I never really believed them. I would scrutinize the post and shake my head in wonder; they made me feel happy ofcourse but I thought all of U were being kind. Gradually the realization dawned that people would not keep coming back again and again if they didn’t like they were reading. Now I have begun to accept them gracefully both here and in life.

Blogging helps me with my children: I never interacted with small children in my teenage years; infact I remember deliberately keeping my distance from them. When I had 2 kids of my own I’m not going to say I was awful at child rearing but reading many mama blogs gave me innovative ideas how to keep them occupied, make interesting snacks they’d like to eat and helped me reach them at their wavelength. Inshort blogging about my children, their perspectives and inturn receiving valuable input & compliments from ALL of you boosted my knowledge and confidence.

Blogs keep me updated: There are days when I don’t watch the news on tv or read newspapers. But reading blogs really help me keep up with both technology and current affairs. And the links provided at these places give me all the information which I’m sure I would not get in any newspaper.

People & accomplishments: Reading about ordinary people & their extraordinary achievements always leave me inspired. There is something about reading it in blogs….sort of makes it more real than reading what is written rather dryly in the papers.

And finally….

Blogging is restorative: Honestly in many ways it’s been rather therapeutic for me. Blogging about people, places and Pluto myself really helped me express myself & in some vague yet definite way I’ve learned to appreciate the few redeeming qualities I have. Now if I weren’t blogging imagine how much I would have had to shell out for a psychologist to arrive at the same conclusion;-D.

Now you tell me, how has blogging proved beneficial for you?????

Monday, 1 March 2010

Every Woman is Special!!!!

Butterfly, Lakshmi and Varsha tagged me to write something for International Womans Day on March 8th. I racked my brains the whole day to write appropriately and went to the main site to check their rules when I saw that the contest was ending the same day. I gratefully grabbed the straw and decided it was not possible to do justice at such short notice.


Contest or no contest the thought refused to go away, I idly googled for information and International Women's Day website said
“International Women's Day (8 March) is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.”
The difficulty was that I personally didn’t know anybody who matched this description and just as suddenly it hit me how blind I was. I was searching far and wide for inspiration when one of my closest friend’s life-story was something which always touched me.

We were a group of eight in college and Chaitra and I were part of this big noisy party. As years passed the numbers dwindled and it became a smaller group of 5. Chaitra and I were the only ones who took English literature and so it was not so strange that we became very firm friends by the end of our college-days.

Immediately after college she found a job in an educational centre and soon found a vacancy for me in the same place and our friendship only became stronger. She was a very good-looking girl, looked years younger & one could always find boys hanging around wherever she went. But she was much more than a pretty face; even in the early days of college she was determined to make something out of her life. But a bit confused, I felt or else why would she have gotten out of one broken relationship to jump straight into another. I didn’t approve at all but stood by her when she had to take the extreme decision to go against her parents’ fierce disapproval and marry the boy. I remember shaking in my boots when she dragged me to her parents’ house after her wedding as she couldn’t face them alone. Her mother broke down and demanded why I as her best friend couldn’t have advised her against the relationship. I felt terribly guilty then as I too felt my friend who had everything going for her could have waited for better things.

Everything which had to go wrong went haywire after marriage. Her father-in-law who was a strong support passed away, her parents refused to forgive her for going against their wishes and she found herself pregnant earlier than she planned. She had a terrible delivery and swore she was never going to put herself thru that ordeal again. All her dreams of climbing the corporate ladder fell thru when she was forced to leave her job after her child was born. Her mother-in-law made her life miserable and to top it she had put on so much weight after the delivery that her self-esteem fell. Imagine almost 80kgs on a 5’2 frame…….she once told me in tears how she hated looking at herself in the mirror. It was a hopeless situation, I remember thinking.

Once the initial shock of being confronted with one bad thing or the other passed, she grimly charted out a stringent plan. She was determined not to let circumstances over-whelm her. Her 1st objective was to lose weight; she joined a gym and under the guidance of a trainer exercised single-mindedly and ate all the right food. She lost all the pregnancy fat and achieved her objective in just 6 months flat and never slipped again. Next she looked for a job and found one after a lot of effort[nobody was keen to hire a new mother you see] and stuck thru it even though it was not what she was looking for as she needed the experience it offered.

Meanwhile the situation at her in-laws place where she stayed with her husband was deteriorating from bad to worse. She received absolutely no support from anybody and her husband had his own constraints. The biggest blow was when they were asked to leave the parents home and told to manage on their own when they didn’t have the means to do so. Her husband who part-managed the family business till then was suddenly out in the cold.

I can only imagine what my friend must have gone thru. She by nature is a private person and did not make friends very easily. She never let me know anything[I’m here in Dubai remember] and filled me in only when I went home for vacation. Not that I would have been of much help but atleast I could have lent her some support.

She was shattered but didn’t break; they moved into a small house near her parents house[by now her parents were on speaking terms with her] and she entrusted her son to her mother for the time she was away at work. Her parents were not very happy about it and shouldered the responsibility reluctantly . Chaitra knew about her parents reservations but couldn’t afford to let her pride talk so she pretended not to notice…..atleast her son was in the hands of somebody she could trust.

The next few years brought many life-defining moments both happy and sad and she took them all in her stride. She worked hard and learnt from her mistakes. Breaking away from the family proved to be a blessing in disguise. Her husband who had a casual attitude towards life woke up to his responsibilities; what’s more, recognized her for the woman she was and provided her with all support.

Now I marvel when I look at her. She is a poised and confident woman; nobody believes it when she says she has a 9yr old son. She stood by her mother when she underwent an open heart surgery and helps her father out financially. She is her parents’ strongest support, an irony really as all their life her parents were pinning all their hopes and aspirations on their son and sidelining her. As of now she is working for Dell as their ‘Regional Sales Manager’ and has 45 employees reporting to her. Need I say anything more???? And oh she won the 'Best employee of the year' 2 times consecutively.

I am so proud of her, my heart sort of swells when I think of her and always remember her when I need motivation. In the end I didn’t have to go far at all to find a woman who inspired me….she was there all the while, just within my little world’s reach.

This world is filled with amazing women like Chaitra who is somebody’s mother, daughter or wife. I am so glad she is my very good friend.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Layali Dubai

Last weekend we spent a whole evening at the Global Village. As you are aware of….oh you were not???? You are kidding……simply everybody knows!!!! You don’t…..Ok then I’ll start at the beginning –

Dubai is a shopper’s paradise alright, but a month-long extravaganza more famously known as the Dubai Shopping Festival[DSF] has millions of visitors flocking to Dubai between January & February every year. What started off as an initiative by the government to boost trade in the country has now transformed itself into an annual event; almost every shop, every Mall and souq in the city participates enthusiastically by announcing genuine sales and exciting promotions with the intention of enticing customers into emptying their pockets then and there .

And mind you its not all about shopping, there are also carnivals, street shows, concerts, children’s entertainment, fireworks, film festivals, extravagant raffle prizes and the famous Dubai World Cup horse race all offering a welcome break from the shopping frenzy.

And one of the major attractions is the Global Village[GV] which in 1996 was a small area along the Dubai creek which housed a mere 10-12 stalls selling handicrafts & wares from different countries. The novel theme gained so much popularity that now 14 years later around 45 countries from all around the world participate to showcase their merchandise, culture and cuisine. Like they say here; it’s probably the only place in the world where you can buy an intricately-woven Indian pashmina shawl, a Japanese bonsai and fresh Canadian Maple Syrup all from the same place.

Since the Global Village opens only in the evenings[4pm-1am] it is simply not possible to cover all the pavilions & enjoy the entertainment provided all in one day…..unless ofcourse we hurry really fast but then you end up more tired than a happy tourist.

The most popular pavilion - Chinese Pavillion
The most widely- accepted among all the pavilions are the Chinese and the Indian pavilion, which ofcourse is always crowded; people throng these pavilions like as if they’ll never get to see anything like it again. Though Africa, Thailand, Iran, Vietnam, Egypt and UAE do come a close second in terms of popularity.
The African Pavilion; the cheetah's mouth was their stage where they performed their traditional arts
It’s really fascinating, once inside a particular country’s pavilion you are sort of transported into their world. If one side of the pavilion has traditionally dressed traders selling clothes, handbags and footwear, from the other side yummy and exotic aromas will be enticing us to try the special dishes from their country. Another corner could be selling anything from paintings, dried flowers, intricately carved furniture or cleaning mops. And the outside of the pavilion will have a stage where performers will showcase their country’s traditional dances or arts.
They had these lovely Egyptian paintings on papyrus here, ready to be framed
Even though the Indian Pavilion is a must-see place we give it a miss due to lack of time or leave it till the end as we are familiar with most of the merchandise they display. And the fact that many media channels lie in wait to thrust their mikes into people’s faces to ask silly questions & riddles, all the more make us want to stay clear of the place;-P. Every year my mum will ask “I watch the DSF special on tv everyday and I keep searching for u. Everybody is there except u" she accuses me. And I’ll be like “Ma puh-leeeeze”!!!

A traditionally dressed tea- seller outside the Syrian pavilion

The children ofcourse start out enthusiastically from home but run out of steam half-way thru because of the amount of walking we have to do. Luckily there is this huge amusement park right next-door with all the wild rides & games which succeeds in rejuvenating their tired spirits;-D.
I don’t shop much, usually am just content to soak in the electric atmosphere but there’s one thing I always end up buying in dozens every year……magnets…yeah those fridge magnets….they are a major weakness;-(. Half the time I end up buying the same stuff what I pick every year and then studiously avoid looking at the better-half’s wry expression the rest of the way home.
 
No clue which pavilion this is but the picture was looking so good I had to include it

And then ofcourse we all crib……about the outrageous amount[dh10 per person] they charge as entrance fees when in the initial years we could wander in and out as we pleased or the fact that a simple shawarma which costs dhs3.50 in the bylanes of Dubai is a whopping dhs7.50 inside the GV. But it doesn’t ever stop us from going there again and again. Honestly the DSF doesn’t feel complete without a trip to the Global Village.

Years back in 2000[I think] the better-half & I were at the Global Village watching the Red Indians in their traditional attires sitting around, idly strumming their curious looking musical instruments, when a group of Arab men came and stood beside us. The leader of the Red Indians quickly got his troupe together and they gave this impressive performance on the spot. Curious at what prompted the spectacular show we turned to look at the Arab men and immediately recognized the present Ruler of Dubai HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum standing tall and regal among the group of men. Although he was the crown prince then there was no fanfare or body-guards announcing his presence; he watched the performance for a few minutes and left like how he came…quietly and with no fuss.

This whole concept of the DSF and the Global village is actually The Ruler’s brainchild….he has pulled out all the stops to ensure that DSF remains a memorable occasion for everyone who participates in it. Every year there are more & more exciting events & prizes added; today it attracts more than 3 million visitors to Dubai every year. There is a lot more than I mentioned above like the Carpet Oasis where you’ll be spoilt for choice as you have over 150,000 carpets from different parts of the world to choose from. And the Gold Souq is a place you wont forget in a hurry, it is said that the Gold traders here sold jewellery worth Dh10 million each day and what’s more they give away 1 kg of Gold as Prize to a lucky winner everyday.

If any of you are planning to visit Dubai, do try to make it during this time when there is excitement in the air and the weather is at its best. I assure you that you’ll never go back disappointed.

Most Indians are familiar with the gulf countries but years back I remember meeting an American who never knew there was a place called Dubai. What about you, have you heard about the Dubai Shopping festival earlier???? Have you been here for it???? Are you planning to?????

*The title 'Layali Dubai' means DSF in Arabic
** 1 Dollar - 3.50 Dirhams