Roadtripping

We don’t travel as much as Red or I would like. It’s our fault actually…didn’t get the offspring used to anything but comfort so the mere thought of zipping along for 7 hours or more to get to someplace he can get to in 3, starts the ‘are we there yet’ litany and am not good with litanies. At all!

Although, my ‘put on your seatbelt’ and ‘use a tissue, ‘cover your mouth when you sneeze’ can rival even the most nagging kids on a ‘are-we-there-yet’ loop.

We tried to get him understand the value of such trips by talking to him about it and went nowhere fast. Kids of today don’t get enthused about seeing windmills-moving or otherwise. They’d rather make faces and take selfies with silly filters…thanks for making a entire generation drop a few IQ points Snapchat!

Rivers, lakes and flora are treated with a ‘Meh’ unless it’s truly spectacular and a hotel room counts only if they have a tv with the kiddy channels easy to find.

Last year we decided that there were going to be more trips in our future, more time spent travelling to get to the destination and to do a good mix of travel via railways and roads so the offspring knows more about India overall than which airport has the KFC counter and which doesn’t.

And so the 1st trip of 2018 was to be a road trip. And we were off! With little delays and all the double checks to see if the water and gas had been switched off and the milk and paper cancelled while we were out.

We decided to split a 14 hours journey over 2 days so the driving bit wouldn’t tire any one person out and we could also get to see places we hadn’t hit while we were growing up.

With all the breaks needed when a kid is chugging down juice and water and shovelling down packets of nachos, we managed to make pretty decent time and are now in a place I’ve never really had on my radar-Bijapur.

It has a lot of ruins and ramparts of the forts built during the time of a ruler by the name of Adil Shah.

Seeing the people is like going into a time warp. Middle-aged and old men walking around in Nehru topis and dhotis with signs of the present seemingly in the John Deere, Kubota showrooms and not the jewellery and sporting goods stores that have become a part of the landscape of what were earlier called the tier-two cities in India.

We got turned around in one part of the city at night and had to navigate through market places teeming with people and bullock carts and horse buggies. But the eagle-eyed kid who can never find his slippers could spot a Dominos pizzeria in the crowd. Go figure huh?

I haven’t seen a single Audi, Merc or Beemer yet. I have seen Bajaj Chetaks, Lunas and loads of cycles. A far cry from Hyderabad where I can come across a Triumph Bonneville, a Mustang and too many luxury cars to count just walking across a parking lot.

Not everything is well maintained but it has a charm and that’s what we wanted to capture and give the brat a taste of.

More to follow…next stop: Belgaum!

Movie Review: Padmaavat

Dropping the “i” from the title didn’t provide much relief to the Karni Sena am guessing,  but it certainly generated more buzz around an already buzzing hive of wasps and hornets.

But getting back to the movie- it’s epic! In its grandiosity, its conception and sadly, its mediocrity. And yet, it still works. And how!

IMHO despite being the eponymous character, Deepika doesn’t have as much screen time as one would think. She occupies screen time in dialogues uttered by other characters and hers is a stiff upper lip that Brits may kill for. She runs and glides along wearing a steely resolve and heavy ghaghras and looks pretty. She is stoic in the face of widowhood, childish and raw in the face of love and courtship and soppy in the arms of her husband at times. But hey..I didn’t live all those years ago..who am I judge how Rajput women conducted themselves. Maybe I should ask the Karni Sena *taps chin ponderingly*

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Shahid Kapoor- he’s a hunk with a body that’s made to be flaunted and the kolh-rimmed eyes are HOT! But in the role of the honor-bound Rawal who is the upholder of values, traditions and legacy of the clan, he falls short. He isn’t believable after a point. You keep waiting for him to finish speaking so Ranveer gets to repartee. And repartee him good!

Ranveer Singh- the mainstay. The obsession, the mockery, the clowning around and the utter disdain for anything beyond his own hedonistic pleasure is brought to life by this man. It’s highly dramatic, that’s true, but the other male leads in Bollywood (barring Aamir Khan) don’t really have the acting chops to pull off this kind of lunacy and bullheadedness on-screen.

Jim Sarbh- with his sly gestures and words (and good looks) the character of Malik Kafur is quite entertainingly portrayed by this Parsi hunk. Now I want to see Death in the Gunj as well to see how he tackles different roles.

i-like-people-who-dont-fear-death-laughing-colours-trying-29371441I have wanted to see the movie for a while now. Just held myself back because watching in a movie hall meant no fast forwarding of songs I didn’t want to sit through. Lo and behold! Amazon came to the rescue. Since I’d visited Chittorgarh town and fort eons ago; watching a dramatized version of what may have happened there, with dollops of creative licenses taken with the lives of the original characters had pinged my curious nerve a few times.

Am glad I gave into the impulse to watch it because it is entertaining. It’s longish, it’s slow, it’s got bits that didn’t need to make the final cut- like the Bin Te Dil song. It’s a good peppy song but to devote screen time to it wasn’t entirely the best call. It’d already been established that in the movie Khilji was a womanizer and took his pleasures where he could find them. It was just more time of seeing Malik Kafur (Jim Sarbh) lust after Khilji while still doing his hedonistic bidding.

So what does recommend this movie? The scale on which things have been conceptualized and carried is quite a lot to take in when you see how movies are used to being made in India. The acting isn’t the worst part of it either. It sticks to what is required- drama, drama and more drama. It’s not just grand, it’s grandiose but it does evoke interest, curiosity and a feeling of paisa wasool. So go on and stream it…it’s worth one bowl of popcorn.

 

Of Middle Fingers And Snakes

I recently changed my ride from a hatchback to an MUV. When I say recent I mean just a few hours ago.

I was picking up the offspring from school and he was happily frolicking in the backseat, bouncing with joy and making crinkly sounds in the plastic covers that I’d not had a chance to take out as yet. All in all he was a happy camper. And as the case is while he’s camping happily, he asks me a series of ‘Do you know’ questions. Today was no different.

We started with a question trap that I’d inadvertently fallen into when I told him I’d seen a monitor lizard cross the street very close to his school. After interrogating me about the size and the gaping maws and the venom of the said reptile, he gave me a disdainful look when I told him I’d only paused briefly while trying hard not to squish the lizard when it scurried off into the bushes. It, unfortunately, hadn’t stopped long enough to give me its life history and venom potency details.

Then began the story of reptiles and their offspring. We spoke of ovi and viviparous snakes; something I’d rather not have spoken of at all. All while I was enjoying the smell of a new car, listening to songs on brand new speakers…which apparently is the most apt time to speak of baby cobras.

Anyhoo, on special request he agreed to stop talking about king cobra babies hatching and killing grown people and then he threw me for a toss! Here’s how he did it-” Hey Ayu…do you know a boy in the 2nd grade showed someone the middle finger in school and then he got into trouble?!! Have you shown (he said showed but my grammar mode refuses to let me be ungrammarly) the middle finger to anyone?

And this is where you cross the realm from being a good, honest parent into one who lies to their kid because isn’t 8 too young to be flippin’ the bird?! Or talking about it?

I told him piously that NO I hadn’t and what did showing the middle finger mean anyhow? I was told very solemnly that it’s a very bad thing and kids can go to jail for saying it. And that’s when I had to know more about this oh-so taboo word that sent kids to jail. So I did a dramatic,” Oh no…really??!!” And pat came the reply-YES!! It’s worse than saying F***!! I never say F*** because you told me that saying F*** is a bad thing so I never say F***. Ever!!”

I think some days the universe has a smartass mode it activates just to give parents their comeuppance and to prevent them from being smug-knowitalls!

Book Review: Sita’s Ramayana

I haven’t ventured down the path to graphic novels at all. Parted ways with comics after grade school and just the written word was enough to hold my attention without needing the bells and whistles that illustrations provide.

However, the senses must be appeased and of late I’ve wanted to have more visual stimulations while reading. Amazon came to the rescue with their curated list of graphic novels for beginnings, spanning genres (Go Amazon!) and I picked up a book that I’d heard a lot about but avoided reading purely because of my own biases.

I need to mention these biases because they form a part of what leads me towards and away from books with topics such as these.

As a child, many of my Sundays were dominated by watching the dramatized version of Ramayana on the telly. Apart from the slow pace and the excessive posturing or smiling on part of the characters; it always felt like Ram was quite the goody-two shoes and his wife excessively pure and perpetually giving in to his whims and fancies. Added to the mix was my mother’s staunch belief about not just looking at one source as the definitive stance on how things might play out. She advised me to read other books which gave contrary views on Ravan, Sita and Ram instead of taking them as flawed or perfect in entirety.

Growing up in a country that largely espouses one religion, it’s tough to express one’s own contrary thoughts about a historical, mythological figure without ending up on some evangelist’s hit list or having to dodge trolling from all and sundry who seem to have drunk from the same spiked punch bowl of jingoistic fervor; not having one original thought in their heads, ever.

Here endeth the anecdotal part of the book review. Onto the actual book itself. It’s a delight. Visually. It’s a delight in its simplicity. Samhita Arni (the author) and Moyna Chitrakar’s (the illustrator-storyteller) collaboration is a visual delight that doesn’t detract from the story that has been retold many times over. The book is actually two-fold in that the words and pictures both paint a story that’s being told simultaneously; without one tripping up the other. They are in sync beautifully.

The narrative is very simple but not simplistic and manages to convey a lot of emotion without spelling everything out. The injustices of war, the machinations of man come to life in ink- both words and drawn.

I would recommend this book as a coffee table gift for friends and family. It doesn’t mean one is embracing their (Hindu) religious identity. But for better or for worse, Ram, Sita and Ravan are a part of our cultural identities. If not for that, get it for the artwork alone…it’s folksy, bold and timeless.

The Joys of Being Childfree

Now that’s not a word that means your kids are at summer camp or has Grandma babysitting while you take off on a holiday. No indeed. Childfree is a proper concept thank you very much and one that’s catching more momentum as well.

Today there are more people who consciously take the decision to not become parents, biological or adoptive, than there were a few decades ago. It’s not merely with an eye on the exponential rise in population and dwindling natural resources the world over, but also with a good look inside oneself that tells them that this is one area where they could take a pass. And happily so.

Having been a parent for a few years now and still a child for god knows how many more, I can honestly say that I applaud this decision. Not because kids are little monsters we have to groom into becoming humans but because the decision to give life is not one that should be taken lightly. Ever.

It is the highest level of responsibility an individual can ever expect to undertake and try to fulfill. Over millennia it has sadly become something that people do because it seems to be expected of them. Proliferation of the species aside, shaping and nurturing a child is something that ends only when the parent passes on. Even separated by continents, a parent can reach out and influence their child’s nature, emotions and ultimately behavior as well. That’s a heady thought to start with and when it occurs it’s a headier thing altogether.

This next bit is taken from Wikipedia verbatim “According to economist David Foot of the University of Toronto, the level of a woman’s education is the most important factor in determining whether she will reproduce: the higher her level of education, the less likely she is to bear children. (Or if she does, the fewer children she is likely to have.)
Overall, researchers have observed childfree couples to be more educated, and it is perhaps because of this that they are more likely to be employed in professional and management occupations, more likely for both spouses to earn relatively high incomes, and to live in urban areas. They are also less likely to be religious, subscribe to traditional gender roles, or subscribe to conventional roles.”

And it makes a lot of sense. There’s a shortage of resources, there’s a shortage of time to parent and see to it that a child doesn’t have to grow up too hurriedly, rise in crime and even with any dystopian constructs, there’s often a more pressing reason for not having a child. Simply, not wanting to.

A few monthly ago, the Holy See released a statement saying it was selfish opting out of having kids. And am sure quite a few religious and spiritual heads will concur. Proliferation of life can be and is joyous. But one can still proliferate joys and a quality life without bringing forth new life.

It is assumed that women yearn for motherhood. Some do. Some don’t. Some can be very nurturing towards others’ children and yet sleep peacefully every night despite not having a child of their own to tuck into bed.

These women come from a variety of backgrounds but by and large are enlightened enough to know where their fortes lie, where they can maximize on their potentials the most and have multiple avenues of not only keeping busy, but being productive and also being contented and downright happy.

So if kids aren’t *that* big a deal then why does the whole world and their Aunt Samantha go around having so many? Well…it’s like this. Seeing an extension of yourself (mind and body) have a corporeal form is akin to a miracle for most people. Myself included. No matter how many babies have come forth in this world and no matter how many would have come by the time the blog is posted, each one is special. They are the blank canvas that  reflect the glories of the world and not the vagaries and debaucheries.

But for me, I guess I just wanted another person to love. And now looking at my child there’s very few little I would do differently where he is concerned. But had I the benefit of hindsight before it became hindsight, I would properly think it through before opting to become a parent. Because I have also realized this while parenting -I would have been a good non-parent as well.

Acknowledging it isn’t a bad thing at all. Just honest. So if you are a childfree individual, that’s just who you are. Accept it. Don’t justify it.

You are still who you were supposed to be.

It’s Probably For The Best….

Life offers up platitudes GALORE. Some are self-generated and the others are ladled out by well-intentioned albeit unoriginal people.

But platitudes, clichés whatever we choose to term them, do serve a purpose. The first time I saw this scene in Victor Victoria, it struck me for a reason I wasn’t able to define or even decipher as a teen. But as an adult there have been times I have replayed it or its paraphrase in my head. There *are* moments in life where clichés seem to tell it like it is. Loud and clear.

For instance, while you were growing up if you thought of yourself as a dynamic, capable, individual who walks the walk and talks and talk and is hugely successful and has all the requisite things that label her as having arrived, well you could say that you were one of the multitude who did so.

What is also true is that you are instead a part of the multitude who are the housewives who bake, fuss about the laundry and the kind of fabric softener you need to use, which kind of flour is higher in fiber for your kids and how your husband needs a hot meal when he gets home. You have turned into a Betty Crocker of sorts and aspiring for Martha Stewartness.

You search for the man of house’s socks and wonder if you have enough baking soda to take that weird odor in your fridge away or if you should use some vanilla-soaked cotton balls instead.

And if by chance, one day, when you wake up and realize that parts of your life have become a cliché, you can either run for the hills or accept that yes; while unoriginal it does make up for things in prophecy and thereby gain some credibility. So you aren’t the Prada and Christian Louboutin-wearing, Centurion-card wielding, big bundle of hotness! Big deal

It’s not a bad thing to become a cliché. Not merely because there are others out there as well but simply because clichés are enduring and they are a truism. You might not have wanted to become predictable or a type but you have become who you could in life. If that means you cut out coupons before going to the grocery store, so it be.

While the “stand-out-in-a-crowd-types” try to maintain their individuality, it’s the clichés who silently rule the world. Or the household with the sweet smells coming out of the oven and the lemon-scented wood furniture at the very least!

Getting My Goat!

These aren’t those bleating goats. No Siree! They are those invisible metaphorical goats whose horns keep poking at you something fierce about stuff that irks you at the very least and makes you want to take a sledgehammer to stuff at times.

So back to all my irks…and there are quite a few…dirty nails, people who think from between their legs all the time, those who can’t hold their liquor and make crude passes, bitchy people…you name it and it irks! But an irk especially close to my heart is one about moms and their kids.

Let’s get something clear at the onset- NO ONE IS EVER READY TO BE A PARENT! Not in the truest sense. You buy into the idea but you never can imagine the gamut of the doodoo that comes your way; in and out of the nappy.

I have always had an extremely capable and proactive husband by my side while I make my way through the maze that parenthood is. I’ve never had a maid for my kid. Somehow it just didn’t click. Not for lack of trying either. It was one of those things. And for the most part I think the kid’s turning out ok. He wants to be a dragon when he grows up but no one’s perfect and life’s weird.

If life were normal, I’d be in Bora Bora with Hugh Jackman right about now! Anyhoo…*reluctantly puts fantasies in the box labelled “night-time fun”*

Today while my flesh and blood was frolicking in a kiddy play area in our complex after getting back from school, a nanny suddenly told me to watch her charge and vamoosed. Before I could blink she was making long-legged strides down the landscaped yard and going out of sight.

She had vaguely pointed towards the playground equipment and told me to watch the kid who till then I’d neither seen hide nor hair of. I took a peak around the corner to see a little boy, not even 3 years old, happily exploring the place and clueless about the fact that his caretaker was gone.

I called his name and said hi and apparently that was spooky enough for him because he jetted too; looking for his nanny and acting like I was the proverbial stranger that moms warn kids off from.

I chased the kid all the way to the place where the buses drop off our children and managed to grab his hand before he hurtled himself near an oncoming bus. Phew. My angry eyes did nothing for the tot or his nanny who didn’t even think to apologize.

I got the mom’s number from one of the other moms and called her and told her what had happened. Her thank yous were distinctly lacking in sincerity and warmth and that’s to be expected. No one likes people critiquing them or their choices; strangers doing it is even less welcome I’d imagine.

But while I don’t relish wearing the hat of the playground police, ever since I’ve become a mother I can’t *not* be anything other than a mother if any child seems to be in potential danger, negligent situation or anything that seems less than ideal.

Despite my gung-ho approach, my own child, close friends’ kids have still managed to get hurt, sometimes narrowly missing a major injury and therein lies the rub.

Maids, nannies end up being surrogates for parents but aren’t parents at all. Not to anyone else’s kids. They are hired help who may be good with our kids but handing them over to the kids without adequate checks and balances isn’t to our advantage and certainly not to our childrens’.

I don’t fault moms who have nannies. It’s a choice they make. And they live with it. I made a choice to go nannyless and it’s something I had to live it. Wasn’t easy by half! But try and have the measure of the person you’re handing your baby over to. They may love your child but be closet kleptos (as a dear friend found out recently), they may not have vices but their personal hygiene might entail a one-way ticket to a pig sty. Anything!

My personal view is this- safety in numbers works for us all. Adults and children alike. And when someone points out that your child wasn’t in the most secure position and was deliberately left vulnerable by the one person who was supposed to keep him safe; for Pete’s sake! keep your snit to yourself. People would rather be cuddling their own kids and sipping hot coffees rather than charging after a toddler barrelling towards an on-coming bus!

Loads of scary shit already going on in this world!

Here endeth the lesson.