I am to parenting what Kim Kardashian is to modesty

8 Nov

wine

You would think that as your kids grow older you would get better at handling them. You would think that the old proverb about practice making perfect might begin to apply to your life at some point. Turns out, it isn’t so.

I am not getting better at very many things with time and figuring out my children seems to top the list. Cooking and husband being next. But let’s stick with parenting, since after my last book that documents my thoughts, experiences and blunders as a mother, I seem to have become an authority on parenting. Incidentally, it was titled Battle Hymn of a Bewildered Mother (plug alert:available on Amazon etc).Many publications have written to me over the past few months asking me to do columns on parenting for them. It takes much mustering up of candour on my part to inform them that I am no expert on child rearing and sorry to disappoint them but if they only flipped through my book they would know that I am to parenting what Rosie O’ Donnel is to Size 0 or Kim Kardarshian to modesty.

My older one is on the cusp of her teenage and in chronological years is 12 going on Rottweiler.  Her bedroom looks like a pawn shop with an assortment of strange, miscellaneous objects strewn over and under hear bed and more bizarre items tucked inside the drawers and cabinets.

She prefers her own company or that of her books and the mirror to human beings and as I have stated before her mother, from being the pivot of her existence has gone on to become something to be embarrassed about. This is fait accompli and I accept it with as much equanimity as is possible of me.

She has opinions now and most of them are the opposite of mine. The clothes I choose for her are “grandmotherly” and “laughing-stock material”, the books I like are “too retro”, the movies and TV shows I recommend are “childish and uninteresting” and the places I want to visit with her she would “rather sit in my room than go there”. She wants to ace in her studies and as admirable as her self-motivation is it is accompanied with high degree of stress, the victims of which are other unsuspecting household members. I have now started keeping industrial strength Kali Phos (a homeopathic remedy known for its calming effect) at home to keep all of us in a Zen like state to be able to cope with routine teenage onslaughts.

Most of our conversations end with me resigning to my fate or her storming out in tears and slamming the door of her room. The one thing that I have learnt with time is to keep it anodyne by discussing the weather, the dogs and our money plant. Those kind of things save the day.

My younger one is seven now and cannot understand why her once tolerable older sister has become an angsty, impudent, snarky stranger whose longest conversation with her in the past one year has been, “Get out of my room.” 

So perplexed and hurt is the little one by the pre-teen’s constant snubs that she has a dramatic outburst at least once every few days. Who do you think is at the receiving end of her paroxysm of tears and rage? Not the hormonal child sitting locked up inside her room, not the father in the office, not the sleep dogs under the bed or the maids in the kitchen. The beneficiary of her grievances and her turmoil is her mother as it turns out. Lucky me.

The little one’s histrionics are usually accompanied by sharp dialogues, which seem almost too clever for a child her age. Yesterday I got told that I loved her older sister, her father, the maids, the dogs and even the gold-fish in the house more than I loved her. Today during another outburst she asked me why I could not treat her at least as well as I treated the goldfish, who was allowed to swim and play by itself without having someone shout at her all the time.

In the denouement of this drama, after much persuasion, the child gave the waterworks a break and announced her new decision to me. “I am moving to another country, far away from you and the gold-fish and every mean person in this building. I am moving to California.”

The older sister could not show any restraint and rolled with laughter at the gold-fish example followed by this California announcement, much to the little one’s annoyance and then she added insult to injury by informing her that California wasn’t a country. Some serious amount of crying and door slamming followed this exchange. The situation resolved itself by my loading my gun and pulling the trigger on myself. Ha, if only. I had to turn to Kali Phos 6x as always, five times the usual dose does the trick for me.

And then people ask me if I am writing my next book yet.

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Online bookstores, it isn’t you, it’s me

8 Sep

Hatchards, London

The past few years I have bought more books on Kindle and Amazon than I have from a book store. As much as I loved the feel of a real book, when an e-book was merely a click away, it was a temptation hard to pass up.

I took care of my need to physically hold a book too by joining the legions of Flipkart and Amazon lovers and soon began to order discounted books that arrived at my doorstep in corrugated boxes the very next day. It all seemed so thrilling, almost like some book loving deity had deemed that people who liked reading finally deserved to experience instant gratification too.

As I went about adding books to my cart and book shelves, I got a little greedy along the way and began to order far too many pending reads at one click. This did not necessarily translate into me reading more but it did mean that my bookshelves began to overflow and I had to create space for my books in less decorous places such as the powder room and bathroom. Agreed the print size was less than satisfactory at times and eyes approaching middle age must value big font size over most other parameters that go into the making of a good book, but I was willing to take my chances at that price.

While I had reservations about Kindle to begin with, given how attached I was to the concept of physical books that had to be smelt and felt, I succumbed eventually because it made night-time reading possible for me. Kindle helped me to hide under the covers roshni deta bajaj ad style and engage in this offbeat style of bedside reading, because some of us are married to people with rice paper eyelids, who get disturbed by the slightest light in the room.

When I traveled outside of India and discovered new books by local authors in stores such as Waterstones, Hatchards and Kinokuniya (the latter two are book stores after my own heart) I promptly checked the local Amazon prices and triumphantly ordered them online too. This went on for a while until one day, I realized that most other people at these stores were also doing the same thing and walking away without buying hardly anything at all. It hardly felt fair that we were squatting on their carpets, leaning against their walls, sitting on their sofas and browsing through their books only to callously give business to online stores.

Hatchards

Back in Bombay, Danai, a much-loved book store in my neighbourhood had already shut shop and given way to a garish jewellery store that I resentfully turned my nose at each time I drove past it. But such developments sadly were a hallmark of our consumerist times and there was little one could do about it. As much as I was blaming the generation of snapchatters and instagrammers for not reading enough, it occurred to me that I too was complicit in the death of bookstores and maybe I could do something about this after all. Dania was gone but one had to ensure Kitab Khana and Crossword were spared a similar fate.

I write this post as a reformed woman who has been buying books at book stores both in India and abroad (ignoring the exchange rate) with full gusto. The thrill of taking a book home, one that I have just fallen in love with after reading its first page, far outmatched the thrill of receiving it at the hands of a delivery boy. Online book stores, lets part as friends, it was good while it lasted. I may still have to turn to you in moments of desperation and I need you to know you were great.

It isn’t you, it’s me.

Kitab Khana, Bombay

On ticking the Northern Lights off my bucket list and other stories from Lapland

17 Aug

This article appeared in the March 2015 issue of Hi Blitz

So overcome was I with anxiety tinged with just a bit of superstition, that in the days that followed my decision to travel to Lapland, I was afraid to reveal to my friends that my real purpose of heading towards the Arctic Circle was to see the Northern Lights. After all, it wasn’t uncommon for people ravenous with wanderlust like me, to have undertaken this journey to Finland under inclement conditions only to come back with post cards of the Aurora Borealis instead of real memories or pictures of the dancing lights. And I was reluctant to jinx my chance of seeing the Northern Lights by announcing it to the world.

We flew from Mumbai to Istanbul or Turkish Airlines and then onwards to Rovaneimi in Lapland, the northernmost end of Finland.

The wintery white landscape that sparkled like diamond dust beneath the starlit skies was enough to imbue our weary senses with a feverish thrill as our plane touched the snowy tarmac, a little after nightfall.

Little did we know that what awaited us over the next four sleep deprived days would alter our perception of life, beauty, nature and paradise forever because never before had one imagined a land so pristinely beautiful that it almost seemed otherworldly.

Santa's Village, Rovaneimi

Santa’s Village, Rovaneimi

After checking into our unpronounceable hotel Pohjanhovi we were driven in wi-fi enabled buses in the dark of the night (read 8pm) to the Sky hotel, one of Finland’s best dining destinations. Not only was I floored by the unexpectedly appetizing food served indoors at the restaurant but also by my own ability to stare at the star spangled sky atop a freezing al fresco terrace layered heavily with snow. This was done with help from a cup of brandy and constant movement of arms and feet resembling a Michael Jackson performance, to keep ones blood from freezing over.

The thing that struck me most of the landscape of Rovaniemi was that one had to pass through what seemed like a heavy forest smothered with powdery snow, to get to most attractions, making the overall experience even more romantic, by day as well as by night when the light of the moon wrapped Lapland in a veil of eerie yet calming darkness.

We traveled northwards and about an hour outside of Rovaniemi après dinner looking for the Northern Lights with a prayer on our lips and sleep deprivation in our eyes. My gut told me that after yearning to see the Northern Lights since the past twenty years of my life, it would hardly seem fair if I saw them this easily on my first night in Lapland. Sadly, my gut proved right and we headed back way past midnight feeling like war criminals made to stay awake as part of confessional exercise referred to as torture in certain communities.

The frozen Baltic cruise

The frozen Bothnia cruise

On our first morning in Finland and thereafter, we woke up at the crack of dawn, at 9.15 am each morning.  On our first day there we were herded in a bus to the Baltic seas, two hours outside of the city for the icebreaker cruise aboard a vessel called Sampo.

Operational since the early Sixties, Sampo ploughed open the frozen seas of Finland for trade vessels for 25 years before ending up as a tourist attraction. The colossal clash between the massive bulk of steel and the thick coat of ice is an extreme experience in its own right. What’s more is that you can spend an entire day clicking photographs of the white frozen beyond that will look no different than the white wall of your bedroom on your return to Bombay. But what can match the fabulous meals aboard the vessel, the icy winds outside it and the shards of ice below it as the mighty Sampo cruises along the frozen Bothnia Sea?

Here again, I said a little prayer for Mr. Remy Martin courtesy whom, most of us were kept alive on the deck of the boat.

Later, we were allowed to disembark in the middle of the frozen sea to take a plunge into the waters but only after slipping into a hideously fat rubber suit built to keep you warm and alive inside the waters. Since I am not tethered by vanity as such, I volunteered with a few others to look like the Teletubbies in those fat suits and floated about in the frozen waters till I could take it no more.

At night we were driven through the thick snow coated forest to an unbearably charming venue called the Be

Come snow or cyclone, we never stop posing.

Come snow or cyclone, we never stop posing.

ar’s Den, about 30 km out of the city. Numerous heads of state and other dignitaries have been hosted at Bear’s Den and I could see why the Fins were so proud of this beautiful lodge tucked away in the middle of nowhere.

This visit to Bear’s Den however, wasn’t for the faint hearted as it included an opportunity to partake in a traditional Finnish custom of allowing your body to get heated up in a sauna and then running out into the cold in swim suits and diving straight into the frozen river in front of the lodge.

We saw it, we saw it: The surreal Northern Lights,

We saw them, we saw them: The surreal Northern Lights,

This is something I would have happily ventured into if I was mature and brave or young and stupid; but since I am neither, my self preservation instinct stood firmly between me and this masochistic exercise and I happily cheered for the fearless among my group.
We kept looking towards the firmament for a sign of the Aurora Borealis but it was snowing heavily and there was no chance of seeing the lights in an overcast sky. On our way back to the hotel we were shown a DVD about the Aurora Borealis and we all came to the conclusion that if we did not spot the real thing, we could still claim that we saw the Northern Lights in Finland. We would, of course, leave out the finer details of where and how we saw them.

Our third day in Rovaneimi was spent zipping around on snowmobiles over the frozen Kemijoki River and enjoying reindeer paella and potato gratin by the bonfire. In the evening we descended upon the Arctic Ice Hotel, which as the name suggests has been chiseled entirely out of ice.

Not that one needed another reminder of the cold when one is in fact gallantly holidaying across the Arctic Circle, but one could not leave without taking a tour of this ephemeral architectural marvel. I walked through cavernous passages, chapels and rooms impeccably carved out of ice and drank what was served to me out of glasses made of guess what? Ice!

Realizing that I had a better chance at staying warm if I exited from the Ice hotel, I let some Finlandia vodka roll off my palette and headed towards the snowy, moon lit landscape outside only to discover that the Aurora Borealis was making an appearance yonder, towards the Northern horizon. I gasped with disbelief when I spotted the green hues dancing across the lower horizon and before I knew it the entire group had converged outside to aah and ooh at the dramatic skies above.

This also called for another celebratory round of vodka shots, of course, for everyone who had witnessed this rare phenomenon.

Huskies

Huskies

Our last day in Lapland was the kind of day that makes you thank the universe for your very existence. It was one of the most magical days that I have witnessed in my life where fresh snow, Santa Claus, husky and reindeer rides, berry juice and tea by the bonfire all came together to add to our bien etre’.

A short visit to Santa’ village in the morning ended up being an afternoon that we did not want to let go of as we meandered about in the powdery snow that fell generously from the skies. This village headquarters Santa Claus’s office where he meets and greets visitors from across the world and where sounds of Christmas Carols gently punctuate the air all through the year. This was also where we were treated to a gourmet Lappish meal inside Santamous restaurant. We sent postcards to our children from the post office next to Santa’s office and in our bid keep the child alive in all of us, eagerly clicked pictures with him. We also clicked pictures against the imaginary Arctic Circle line that passes through Santa’s village itself.

Paradise found

Paradise found

Later sitting in a sledge being driven by a pack of blue and brown-eyed huskies, we traversed through the curves and bends of a snow-laden tracks flanked by pine trees drenched in polar white snow. In that moment I felt that I was in the land of Narnia. This was the incandescent fairyland of happiness and wonders, where reindeers ran about, unafraid and where man not only respected nature, but also in fact, partnered with it.

The Shamans, who were the earliest inhabitants of this land, believed that everything had a soul. Thus, rocks and trees, foxes and reindeer, the Northern Lights in the sky and the knife in the reindeer herder’s hand all carry knowledge and wisdom within. Spirits are present in everything, wherever one wanders.

Santa & Me

Santa & Me

Could I ever leave such a mystical place and happily go back to the dirt and grime of the concrete jungle that is Mumbai? Let me put it this way, when our flight to Istanbul nearly got cancelled the next day, I wasn’t complaining. I was happy at the prospect of having to spend yet another day in this veritable winter’s wonderland, storm or no storm.

2015-01-28 13.05.422015-01-28 14.58.46

INFORMATION FOR THE BOX:

Our trip was organized by Yogi Shah of Villa Escape, Mumbai

There is enough vegetarian food to be had in Finland if you travel with Villa Escape. They make special provisions for it.

Dressing: Most Indians balk at the idea of being in sub zero climes but if one is better prepared to deal with snow, one can experience spring even in midst of a harsh winter. On a less philosophical note, four layers are all you need to keep you from turning into a frostbitten ghost of yourself. At least one merino inner layer, from head to toe, followed by some cotton layers and sealed with at least one snow proof outer layer, ideally with down filling is what will keep you protected.

Hotels: Hotel Santa and Hotel Pohjanhovi

Wifi: Practically every closed space in Lapland has free wifi including buses, restaurants, shopping malls and Santa’s village.

An English summer and the unbearable confusion of wanting to do too much

5 Jul

An English summer and the unbearable confusion of wanting to do too much

Posted by  on June 19, 2015

A setting for afternoon tea at the Ritz, London

“Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
— Samuel Johnson

So well, it is another glorious summer here in London, the English summer that so much ink has been expended on with consummate skill by writers far more gifted than me. Flowers of every conceivable hue are enthusiastically springing forth from the earth and unexpected places. There is something about London that tugs at me from all directions leaving me wanting to do far more than I can possibly manage within my waking hours here. As always I arrive in London with an entirely different set of intentions from the ones I end up living out.

The city is hosting some of the most enticing exhibits from the world of art, fashion and history. Mc Queen’s Savage Beauty at the V&A, the new Mummies at the British Museum, Surrealism & Beyond at the Tate Modern. World-class chefs are concocting meals that my palette can hardly wait to surrender to. The lush greens are beckoning me to take a walk and enjoy the coolest breeze that summer can bring. Charming high-tea evenings in Edwardian rooms invite me each time I walk down the beautifully time-warped lanes of Mayfair. Tony bars with their decorous air call out to me for a gin and tonic and British pubs urge me to let my hair down over Pimms, batter fried cod and chips. To compound my confusion, summer sales are upon us. Given that how formidable the Pound has become,  only a fool would miss a good summer bargain. All in all, London at this time of the year is a smorgasbord of all that is exciting, epicurean, eclectic and entertaining.

Exhibit at V&A Museum

And my children, well, they have their own agendas for the vacation that are collectively as far apart from mine as Usain Bolt is from the starting line halfway through a marathon. Z made me take her to the musical Wicked at the Apollo theatre the other day.  The husband had to travel on work unexpectedly and what was to be a bonding exercise between father and daughter turned out to be a theatre date between both my  girls and me, one that I got through only on the might of the cheap Pinot Grigio being served inside the theatre. Try sitting next to a seven-year-old and explaining a musical to them scene by scene and you will know why I needed the wine.

Besides, having exhausted my appetite for musicals a while back and irrespective of their grand production values, I cannot bear to sit through one any longer. I don’t see why somebody should have to sing along and say, “Oh my dear Galinda you are so beautiful, marry me” when the same can be stated quickly and simply without adding musical notes to it. In hindsight though, I am glad we went to the musical because those were the only two hours of our trip so far that my 12-year-old Z did not obsess over her pimples that have made a foray on her forehead.

Our younger one R wants to go to Peppa Pig world and the petting zoo and also paddle boating in Hyde Park. Call me heartless but the only thing I have managed  to accomplish with the kids so far, apart from the insufferable musical, was an edifying trip to the Science Museum. And a few trips to the sand pit in the park on their respective scooties, which incidentally is the most ingenious means of transport ever. I borrowed Z’s scooter the other day and rode is, much to her embarrassment and it was such a liberating experience. Apart from the fact that I did look like an oversized imbecile riding a child’s scooter, it was an overall pleasurable exercise. In fact I am keen to buy one for myself.

My children swear they will not acknowledge me publicly if they see me whizzing around on one. “How would you feel if nani starting riding on a scooter mom?” Z says to dissuade me from ordering one on Amazon. There are worse things that parents can embarrass their kids with than riding a scooter! I am determined to not let their inhibitions stop me from enjoying the few things my fragile joints will allow me to enjoy at my age.

Am headed to Scotland in two days. More from there.

The scooter

Flowers in bloom

A summer in London and the unbearable confusion of wanting to do too many things

19 Jun
A setting for afternoon tea at the Ritz, London

A setting for an afternoon tea at the Ritz, London

It is a glorious summer here in London, the English summer that so much ink has been expended on with consummate skill by writers

far more gifted than me. Flowers of every conceivable hue are enthusiastically springing forth from the earth and unexpected places. There is something about London that tugs at me from all directions leaving me wanting to do far more than I can possibly manage within my waking hours here. As always I arrive in London with an entirely different set of intentions from the ones I end up living out.

The city is hosting some of the most enticing exhibits from the world of art, fashion and history. Mc Queen’s Savage Beauty at the V&A, the new Mummies at the British Museum, Surrealism & Beyond at the Tate Modern. World-class chefs are concocting meals that my palette can hardly wait to surrender to. The lush greens are beckoning me to take a walk and enjoy the coolest breeze that summer can bring. Charming high-tea evenings in Edwardian rooms invite me each time I walk down the beautifully time-warped lanes of Mayfair. Tony bars with their decorous air call out to me for a gin and tonic and British pubs urge me to let my hair down over Pimms, batter fried cod and chips. To compound my confusion, summer sales are upon us. Given that how formidable the Pound has become,  only a fool would miss a good summer bargain.

Exhibit at V&A Museum

Exhibit at V&A Museum

And my children, well, they have their own agendas for the vacation that are collectively as far apart from mine as Usain Bolt is from the starting line halfway through a marathon. Z made me take her to the musical Wicked at the Apollo theatre the other day.  The husband had to travel on work unexpectedly and what was to be a bonding exercise between father and daughter turned out to be a theatre date between both my  girls and me, one that I got through only on the might of the cheap Pinot Grigio being served inside the theatre. Try sitting next to a seven-year-old and explaining a musical to them scene by scene and you will know why I needed the wine.

Besides, having exhausted my appetite for musicals a while back and irrespective of their grand production values, I cannot bear to sit through one any longer. I don’t see why somebody should have to sing along and say, “Oh my dear Galinda you are so beautiful, marry me” when the same can be stated quickly and simply without adding musical notes to it. In hindsight though, I am glad we went to the musical because those were the only two hours of our trip so far that my twelve-year-old Z did not obsess over her pimples that have made a foray on her forehead.

Our younger one R wants to go to Peppa Pig world and the petting zoo and also paddle boating in Hyde Park. Call me heartless but the only thing I have managed  to accomplish with the kids so far, apart from the insufferable musical, was an edifying trip to the Science Museum. And a few trips to the sand pit in the park on their respective scooties, which incidentally is the most ingenious means of transport ever. I borrowed Z’s scooter the other day and rode is, much to her embarrassment and it was such a liberating experience. Apart from the fact that I did look like an oversized imbecile riding a child’s scooter, it was an overall pleasurable exercise. In fact I am keen to buy one for myself.

My children swear they will not acknowledge me publicly if they see me whizzing around on one. “How would you feel if nani starting riding on a scooter mom?” Z says to dissuade me from ordering one on Amazon. There are worse things that parents can embarrass their kids with than riding a scooter! I am determined to not let their inhibitions stop me from enjoying the few things my fragile joints will allow me to enjoy at my age.

Am headed to Scotland in two days. More from there.

The scooter

The scooter

Flowers in bloom

Flowers in bloom

Interview with Shunali Khullar Shroff, author of Battle Hymn of a Bewildered Mother and a signed copy giveaway

14 Apr

Kiran Manral

Shunali and I go back a long way, in fact so long back is the way that memory mists over, and if I dare reveal when exactly that was, we both risk the real and tangible danger of carbon dating selves. Anyway, as life and things have an unfortunate tendency to do, we lost touch completely with each other and reconnected only recently thanks to that very wonderful malaise of the modern day social media, namely twitter.

shunali

When Shunali told me she was writing a book, a while ago, I was most delighted because not only is she one of the few writers who can hold a sentence, and hold it well, but because she also has a delightful turn of phrase and sense of that elusive drollness that is sadly lacking in most writing these days.

As for her book, I would be unfairly biased if I said anything…

View original post 957 more words

No Starbucks for my children till they are forty!

5 Mar
Loving and longing over coffee

Love and longing over coffee

I am at the Starbucks near my house. Although I don’t care much for the coffee here, this place has an agreeable vibe and I have found that with practice, it is not impossible to acquire taste for their awful brew.

I come to this cafe on days when I feel the need to lose context and be a stranger among strangers. There is something therapeutic about being around people who do not know you. This isn’t to say that I am a homicidal fugitive lurking around crowded places looking for safety in anonymity. Nor am I an abused wife (if anything) whose idea of breaking free is sit incognito behind dark Jacky O glasses and silently sip coffee in the neighbourhood cafe.

I feel drawn to such places because I love coffee and I love people watching and cafes beat any other public space when it comes to combining these two interests. Agreed this isn’t a talent that would look good on a resume’ but it cannot be denied that such a pastime does require a certain set of undefined skills.

The husband says that this just goes to show how acutely jobless I am, but great art has always had to put up with great criticism in its own time and so I take such remarks in my stride.

Be that as it may, you might agree with me that human beings are an incontrovertibly fascinating creation of nature and each person has is by himself/herself a story. I like to look at these people around me and imagine their stories.

For instance, there is a man of generous proportions sitting across from me right now and has ‘Ladies find me irresistible’ written boldly across his discoloured t-shirt. His hair is unkempt and his face unshaven. The physiognomy of this man reminds me of Ignatius, the slothful hero of A Confederacy of Dunces. If I was a mean person I would judge him for the generous, full fat, double whipped cream topping on his hot chocolate. But you all know by now that I do not have a mean cartilage in my body.

For now, I am shifting focus to what Irresistible boy’s life might be like. I can imagine him being a mamma’s boy, like Ignatius and I can imagine his Sindhi mother living by the slogan on her ‘baby’s’ t-shirt. She has probably never approved of any girl this man has fancied because he is clearly too perfect for anyone. Irresistible boy probably runs a business from home and it suits him just fine because this saves him the trouble of having to shave his face or look clean and presentable like other working class people who need to show up in an office.

I leave him to his hot chocolate and turn my attention towards this other couple that does not seem to belong to this neighbourhood. It is evident that they have chosen this particular hood for precisely that reason. The woman is wearing a red coloured blouse over skinny jeans but the word ‘skinny’ is in no way a reflection of her overall size. Her beau has removed one sandal from his food and is grinning at her while playing footsie from under the table. His hair is oily and overgrown and he is sporting a prominent moustache that conceals his upper lip but when he laughs, his pan-stained teeth take away the attention from it. He is looking at her lasciviously while his shoeless foot continues to busy itself under the table that is not large or low enough to conceal its private engagement with hers. She is smiling at him longingly and reciprocating his gesture with equal relish.  Call me judgmental if you will, but am compelled to deduce that their overall behaviour somehow bears witness to the illegitimacy of their relationship.

I am cringing and also feeling like an intruder and cannot bear to look in their direction anymore. If they were better dressed, would I still be cringing, I wonder. Are seemingly illegitimate couples in the throes of PDA more acceptable if they are cleaner looking, with better teeth and dressed in Prada or Savile Row tailoring?

I have repositioned my vision and am now looking at a large blonde woman who is finding herself a couch to sit on. She has enormous biceps and triceps that could easily make Salman Khan and Sunny Deol appear frail in comparison. Her arms are tattooed all over with what looks like angels and daggers that are adding to her formidable appearance. A puny man who is ordering their coffee in an American accent accompanies her. Perhaps bodybuilder lady is a personal trainer to a movie star. Or maybe she and puny guy are backpackers who are touring across the country. She looks like she must carry his backpack along with hers and is at no risk of being raped given her dimensions.

A senior actor in his late seventies has just walked in. He is taking slow measured steps to keep his balance as he walks towards the barista to order his coffee. Some people acknowledge his presence with a smile and he seems pleased that this much younger generation recognizes him.

A young couple sits at the far end of the long table where all nerds are seated with their laptops. I happen to be sitting on this table with my laptop as well. This boy and girl cannot be older than eighteen years and are visibly in the first flush of their love for each other. She has large kohl rimmed eyes and she is finding everything he says worthy of laughter. This couple can barely keep their hands off each other and there is nothing sneaky about their moves. On the contrary, in spite of their PDA, there is nothing cringe worthy about them. I am glancing in their direction now and then and I can see that they are playing the ‘who-will-blink-first’ game. A few seconds later, he has beaten her to it and she is somewhat pleased about it. He brings her iced-tea and now they are sharing the icy drink with two straws from the one glass.

A gaggle of ladies in afternoon jewels and sunglasses has just walked in, presumably after a kitty party in flowy georgette tops in bright colours with matching pop coloured lipsticks applied so liberally that they are compelled to keep their shades one throughout their post kitty coffee session.

This is a cue for me to leave the café.  Besides, the cacophony of the group is deafening the sound of my own thoughts, which is a sign that I must give my imagination a break and head home to my children.

As I head out I walk past a couple, the girl is in a school skirt and is fondly stroking the cheek of her boyfriend, also in a school uniform. I ought to be delighted to see love thrive all around me but I am walking away feeling a bit unsettled by the ages of the participants of this PDA (public display of affection, in case my mom is reading this) show.

I am also contemplating keeping cafes out of bounds for my children along with nightclubs and watering holes till they reach forty.

cafe1

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