Archive | April, 2012

Two girls, two jackets and Amsterdam-Barcelona

30 Apr

I am one of those people who have to use a newly purchased product right away. If it happens to be an item of clothing or an accessory one can wear on oneself, sometimes even the drive back home from the store is too much to wait.

There are times I have created an opportunity to go out only so I could put my shopping to use right away. It was serendipitous given my foible that I had to end up running a company with a partner who was no different in this regard. We were in our twenties, we worked really hard and found ways to reward ourselves now and then with short spurts of heavy retail therapy. And so it was, that one-day we bought ourselves two spectacular leather jackets. It was late October; the so-called second summer of Bombay and leather was the last thing one would want against one’s skin. Thus having made the purchase, we found ourselves confronted with the rare dilemma of finding an occasion to be able to wear them. Being practical by nature, I believe it is a well known Virgo trait, I offered we travel abroad to a cold country, a solution my business partner and friend reluctantly agreed to. Incidentally, she is also a Virgo.

We had our hands full with work but with such compelling matters as two unworn leather jackets at hand, we had little choice but to embark on our short break right way.

P had left the onus of planning this break on me and I was supposed to be grateful she even showed up at the time of departure. We arrived in Amsterdam the next morning and spent the following days just walking along the canals in the cold of November, posing for pictures now and then, not so much for the obvious beauty of the city, but for just how well turned out we looked in our chic boots and matching jackets.

It was awfully cold I remember with not even a hint of the sun and by the second day we were pretty miserable. We took refuge in Rijksmuseum and saw all the works of Rembrandt and later at the Van Gogh Museum where we came face to face with his works along with that of Paul Gauguin. We spent hours at the Anne Frank Museum reliving the tale of her bitter-sweet years spent inside that house. We ate disgusting food, mostly, and bought flowers for each other. We shopped a little, passively inhaled fumes of hemp that are so integral to Amsterdam and sat by on benches watching life quietly go by in the sunless wintry day. But we had no regrets as we were indeed, putting our fabulous new jackets to good use. It was money well spent.

Having had our fill of Amsterdam we took off for Barcelona on the fifth day of our holiday.

Barcelona was spectacular and welcoming, the streets were buzzing with life and the subtle warmth of the winter sun added much cheer to the city. This was in the pre Euro days and much of Spain still spoke Spanish and hardly any English.

I had assured P that language would not be a problem as I had learnt Spanish for a year at university and “language is like cycling, you never forget it” as my handsome Spanish teacher used to say. I knew it would all come back to me. I had chosen to forget that Spanish had never ‘come’ to me in the first place and so ‘coming back’ wasn’t really much of an option. But I am nothing if not an optimist and since P felt fortunate she had a linguist like me at her disposal, I did not want to disappoint her.

We spent our first day feeling amused at Picasso’s works at the Picasso Museum just off La Ramblas, the lively, albeit touristy epicenter of Barcelona followed by a trip to the surreal world of Salvador Dali. P and I were in love with Barcelona already and wanted to send postcards home informing our families that we had made up our mind to live there forever. (Sadly for us, it wasn’t in the Vicky Christina Barcelona sort of way that we fell in love with the city, for there was no Havier Bardem in sight and the movie hadn’t yet been made.)

In the meanwhile a realization had dawned upon us both that my skills as a ‘linguist’ had deserted me. We were unable to even communicate with the cab drivers beyond the few lines the hotel concierge had scribbled for us on a piece of paper. I could recall only the following Spanish phrases:

Yo llamo Shunali (I call myself Shunali)

Hijo de puta (son of a bitch)

A que hora es (what is the time)

Esta’s loco (you are mad)

As you can clearly see I could not get by much on those four phrases alone though I did try using all of them.

The only thing we could manage to do without speaking in Spanish was to shop and we shopped endlessly at Avenue Diagonal and La Ramblas where dogs and customers are treated with equal delight by the friendly sales staff.

If it weren’t for a Jordanian singer who was also staying at our hotel, who chose to befriend us over breakfast, we would have not managed to get very far from our hotel at all. She spoke Spanish and knew the city well and we imagined she offered to show us around because of our irresistible personalities.

Thanks to her we were finally able to touch and feel Gaudi’s fantasia and bizarreness’ and gasp at the beauty of the Sangrada Familia. Over the next few days the three of us hung out together eating, drinking, attending flamenco performances . It was P who brought it to my notice that Miss Jordan had only offered to show us Barcelona as she wanted us to pay for everything, including her meals and tickets to a concert at the famous theatre, Luz de Gas. There really isn’t such a thing as a free lunch I tell you!

We managed to lose her and on our last night in Barcelona we decided it would be a shame if we returned to Bombay without hitting the nightspots about town. The concierge had highly recommended a popular nightclub to us and when P and I walked in at 10 pm we felt that we had entered the ballroom of an old age home. There were old happy Spanish couples waltzing all over the place and P and I giggled at them shamelessly as we sat on the sofa sipping red wine and making jokes. P said she felt like she and I were kids attending the naval ball in Bombay. It was all I could do to stop myself from choking on my wine and we both left the nightclub still giggling like schoolgirls. The bouncer smiled a telling smile at us and said, “Come back later ladies your time starts at 2 am. In Barcelona first old people party then young people party”. Damn, it was only 11 pm and we were just so sleepy from the red vine but we were so determined to come back that we set an alarm for 1 am at the hotel and passed out on our beds in our party clothes. It was hard but we managed to drag ourselves out of our cozy beds, glug some espresso shots and return to the night club, this time with the marks of the bed spread embedded on our cheeks.

The nightclub had had a makeover since we left it just 3 hours ago. It was alive and full of young people, there was a fabulous DJ playing house music and we managed to dance the night away.

On our flight back home, a co-passenger asked us if we had spent any time on the beaches of Barcelona. “Beaches”, P and I exclaimed unanimously. “Barcelona had beaches? ” We looked so stupid now. Two dimwits from India who had spent a week in the city and leave aside beaches were not even aware there was an ocean nearby.

On the other hand, we could not have worn our jackets on the beach anyway. As far as we knew, this trip was to be able to wear our jackets. The beaches would have to wait until we bought bikinis and set about on another holiday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The global effect

29 Apr

The word ‘global’ is so powerful. It evokes the feeling of instantly being at par with the rest of the world. It makes one feel an integral part of the protoplasm of the universe. In spite of myself, I fell prey to that word recently.

At the Heathrow duty free in London, I was lamely looking around, lamenting the death of the shopaholic inside me when I decided to hit the skin care and make up section. I was met by the lady in-charge, a handsome woman whose skin had surely seen better days and she began to introduce me to the new range of skin care products at Estee Lauder.

I find having to listen to sales pitches mind numbing and was about to walk away from there when she handed over a jar of something called the global age defying crème and told me calmly but authoritatively, “Try this. You will be happy. Trust me.”

The woman had deep lines on her face from where the Danube could have flowed easily and she was asking me to use this crème and telling me to trust her? Like hell I was going to buy it.

I am extremely skeptical of clever copy. Whenever I read something that says ‘extracted from deep within the something found in the Amazonian region blah blah blah’ or ‘breakthrough technology using the roe of the rare xyz fish’ or ‘made with the regenerative elements of the newt’s eye’… the cynic in me raises its unbotoxed eyebrow and dismisses the product right away.  For me, it is not so much about the act of charging the purchase to my credit card as it is about being ‘conned’. I feel clever copy almost always cons.

I was about to walk away from there when my eyes fell on the lovely backlit image of Constance Jablonski, she of the exquisite cheekbones and the bluest eyes that were ever seen on human form. For those who do not know as they concern themselves with more important things that happen to the world, Jablonski was the Face of Estee Lauder in 2011. If there was even a less than a fraction of a percentage of a chance that from some angle, I could look like this after using this crème, I was going to take it. Maybe that was the whole purpose of calling it ‘global’. Maybe it was going to overcome the genetic race barriers embedded in our DNA and transmogrify me into this Caucasian beauty.

And so it is, that I have allowed myself to be conned, for the promise of youth is much too hard to resist. The ‘global’ crème now sits on my dresser and by next month this time, who knows, I just might end up looking like Constance Jablonski. Watch this space for such developments.x

And then some more

26 Apr

Dear all,

The response to my post of yesterday has been most uplifting. Some of you are wondering about the urgency on my part to shoot off a letter of acknowledgement in the prime of my life. My friend Mallika asks if I have been drafted and am being sent off by the army to be slain in combat in Iraq and that the prospects of meeting with such fate have made me write a post of this nature.

Let me assure you, I am not about to meet my maker anytime soon. I am sure at least some of you are relieved with this bit of information. The reason I wrote the ‘letter of acknowledgement’ to my readers was because I did not know any other means of politely asking everyone to kindly write their comments on the blog site instead of writing them only on social media.

I have also been trying to work out ways to increase my page views. One of the bright ideas that hit my brain was to stop writing altogether and merely publish Sunny Leone’s pictures on a daily basis. But since I will run into copyright issues with that, I figured if I just start thanking you guys, at least you will feel compelled to come back to these pages out of a sense of courtesy, if nothing else.

By no means am I implying that I do not feel grateful to all of you. I absolutely do. And I missed out on some names yesterday and did not want to offend my readers by reposting again and again. So here is my chance to do that. A big, really big, thank you to Raj Nayak, who is as wonderful a friend as he was as my boss at Star TV and to the sultry Sagari, who is not only Raj’s wife but also my child’s teacher and a fantastic one at that.

A special thank you to Sheetal Mafatlal, my delightfully witty and articulate friend. Thank you girl for all your encouragement.

Thank you Priya Bhimani, my eternally young and quirky friend who shares my sentiments on a lot of things I blog about.

Abhilasha, my army brat, I could not have left you out, for you are the youth who speaks the language of the youth which may B hard 4 me 2 comprehend but knowing TAT I have found an audience in U means, all is not lost yet.

My famously published friends Kiran Manral and Swapan Seth. I am not sure you guys read this space, but since I am in the mood to be grateful, thank you for being so gifted. I hope some of your writing skills rub off on me too.

Neelam Kumar, who is also a published author and poet, thank you for finally figuring out the workings of your smartphone which has enabled you to read my blogs.

My highly talented friends and tiger mothers Manasi and Nandini, am not sure you still read my blog but just so you feel guilty about it, gracias to you too.

Supermoms Nitika, Rupal and Monica, mucho gracias to you for diligently reading my blog getting others to read it too.

Phew. I will not be doing this every day. Hope I have not forgotten anybody else.

DISCLAIMER: In case I have forgotten to thank anyone living or dead, I want to clarify that such oversight was not intentional.

Yours etc,

Shunali Shroff

 

A letter of acknowledgement to my blog readers

25 Apr

My dear readers and my handful of followers,

This is not an Oscar speech though it is sounding like one. These are not the words of a pompous or presumptuous blogger (coz I am not there yet). These are just words of gratitude I genuinely feel for each one of you, including the people I have forgotten to name and the people whose names I do not know.

I am so grateful that you find the time to read and make comments about my blog. One day when I am a published writer (can I not even dream about it?) I shall mention each one of you from my early months of blogging in my acknowledgements. I will have to, of course, start with thanking my dear friend Mallika, a really ‘cool’ girl of many talents and moods to match. It was Mallika, who kicked me in my derriere for not doing anything with my life, apart from raising my children, tolerating my dog and being polite with the husband as and when he made himself available. She asked me to start blogging “if nothing else”. As you can see, I am sticking to my part of the bargain, especially the “nothing else” bit. So thank you Malli.

Thank you dear husband for being such a sport and for bravely facing the onslaught of my words. I am just so proud of you for so many varied reasons(I mean it). It f it wasn’t for you, I would have had to go looking for a muse or make up stories about men who are funny.

I can’t not thank Kaveri. K, thank you for being my sister and putting up with my blog for that reason alone. I love you even though you give me crappy ideas to blog about. The latest being “Babe, write about alcohol.”

Thank you to my most amazing GFs Simi and Amrita for telling me 15 years ago that I should write and waiting for 15 years thereafter only to see me do a measly blog.

Oh and of course there is the lovely Rose, the hilarious Bonnie, thank you dolls for encouraging me so. Then there is Saanthia (my youngest and bravest reader), a special ‘thank you’ to you darling.

How can I forget to mention my dear friend Shital who praises my writing to me on the BB chat, a place where no one else can see it!! Seriously, thank you for being so encouraging, and I mean it especially since you know some people at Random House.

Tina and Sandeep thank you for your consistent feedback which I so eagerly await. Tina, your comments crack me up and Sandeep, yours give me deep insight and sometimes make me see the better side of things. If you could write a few more words the next time, I could easily pass them off as my next blog post.

Namrata, Tina K, Tanuka, Neelam, Aparna, Sunil S, Dilshad and Katy, love that you bright and wonderful people are reading my blog and thank you for your feedback. A special mention to ‘The Rewarian’ my friend from Twitter who has so kindly offered to help me edit my posts. My fabulous friend Soni Aggarwal deserves a huge ‘thank you’ for remembering to  retweet the link to my blog no matter what part of the world she wakes up in.

Apparently the success of a blog is also gauged through the number of comments against the post and with all of you commenting in person,on Facebook, Twitter, BB chat etc in spite of the fair number of people who seem to be hitting my pages, I am looking pathetic as a blogger as there are very few comments on the site itself.

There are many other wonderful readers of my posts too who give me feedback on the various social media. Thank you all from the bottom of my shallow heart. It means a lot to me that my posts are read.

My parents deserve a mention too for being the most wonderfully amazing parents ever. And also the coolest. There is a reason they are called the Khullars, if you say it fast enough, it sounds like the Coolers.

Food wars and why it is so hard to win them.

23 Apr

I have just finished baking a batch of blueberry muffins for my older child who is blessed with about 28 sweet teeth in her nine-year-old mouth. Since there is so much emphasis on whole foods these days I have taken extra care to use healthy ingredients such as oatmeal, milk, canned blueberries and organic cane sugar. Sounds gross doesn’t it? But don’t judge me till you have walked in my shoes. We had an episode last week where the child complained of such high intensity stomach cramps that the pediatrician had to be called in to examine and mercifully it wasn’t a case of appendicitis. It was, however, a case of amendicitis, if ever was such a word. My daughter had been officially told to amend her food habits in favour of high fibre foods by the good doctor.

It all started exactly four years ago when kindergarten snack provided by the school was discontinued for first graders. I had a happy face and absolutely no frown lines on my forehead at that time. But arguing about the contents of the school lunchbox and the Indian parliament sessions like scenes that enfolded in my house between my child and me have taken their toll and on some days I think I closely resemble  a Shar Pei dog.

My child feels persecuted because I refuse to give her Maggi, Sunfeast pasta and Oreo cookies in her snack box unlike some mothers from her class. We bargain with each other daily and since I am not one to completely relent, we meet each other “halfway”. Which means that I give her one healthy snack and one smaller snack of her choice along with it as added incentive and she usually brings the healthy snack back home with her. Hence the “halfway”. And hence the stomach cramps.

When we were kids, I cannot remember my mother ever stressing about what to pack for my sister and me in our lunchbox. She had it all worked out on a template and since we were not fussy children we ate almost all of what went to school with us in those boxes. Sandwiches, home made cakes, wraps with veggies inside them and cookies and crisps only when the domestic help went on their annual leaves and their reinforcements had not yet arrived. Bringing back uneaten food was not an option. Freedom to bring back uneaten food home usually came at a price, something I dare not mention here for fear that Amnesty International might chance upon it and decide to have a little word with our mother over this matter belatedly.

We were so busy being obedient kids back then that our mother could have given us a bowl of flaxseed each for lunch for all we cared and we would have eaten it without giving it a second thought. Of course our mother would never stoop that low, or even if she did I am not about to mention it here for she reads my blog now and then when she has nothing better to do.

Ever since I became a mother, I reserve a special kind of rage for fast/packaged food companies that have taken over our world. When kids see Mc Donald ads and signages all over the place, what else are they going to ask for, certainly not broccoli with hung curd dip! All the television channels with no conscience show Maggi noodles ads with a sweet looking self congratulatory mum who surprises her children with bowlfuls of Maggi every day. I can bet my kids fantasize about that mother and wish they could trade me for her. Maybe the husband sneakily indulges in a similar fantasy himself. As if.

Well anyway, the point I am making here is that the current environment does not make it easy for kids to develop healthy food habits. I wish all schools would ban children from bringing junk food and I did not have to look like Cinderella’s stepmother for shoving  healthy snacks down my older daughter’s fussy throat. I don’t mind the Oreo’s or Lays once in a way but I am not giving into junk on a daily basis.

I know somebody who has raised her children on raw broccoli, vegetable smoothies, organic high-fibre bread, no milk, no processed sugar and only organic whole foods. Her kids eat those foods with such joy that I have stopped feeling sorry for them. This organic mommy never introduced her kids to cooked or junk food. They got used to and developed a taste for whatever was introduced to them in the early years.

I would not have any such luck however had I had walked down the same path as this ‘Wonder mom’  for I could not get my kids to like green veggies just as I could not get my dog to take to dog food. We have a special meal cooked  for him daily because he would not have it any other way.

And so it is, that the food wars will continue, till they have children of their own. I mean the kids, not the dog. The dog can’t have children of his own as he had to be ‘fixed’. And no, he wasn’t being punished for being fussy.

Shoe-be-doo

21 Apr

 Vir Sanghvi wrote a column last week attempting to explain why women were obsessed with shoes.

Here is an excerpt from Vir’s column:

I’ve been trying to work out why women are so obsessive about shoes. Part of the reason must be that they need more shoes than men. They try and match their shoes to their outfits so they need a greater variety of options than men who will rarely venture beyond black, brown and sneakers. Part of the reason must also be that shoes, like sunglasses and handbags, are designer products that are shape-neutral. If a very fat woman walks into Chanel, she is unlikely to find anything that fits her. Designers tend to make clothes only for women who are tall and slim. But even a less than perfectly-proportioned woman can wear expensive shoes and beam with pleasure when her friends recognize her red soles.

But I do believe that it goes beyond rational thinking. Women who are obsessed with shoes are not motivated by logic. They just know that they must have yet another pair of very expensive shoes. It is a compulsion rather than an obligation.

Put it down to wiring. When God made men, He wired us differently. He told us not to worry too much about what we wore on our feet.

But when He made women, He threw in a shoe gene that made them lust after footwear irrespective of the price. And then He sent them Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin to make their dreams come true.

With due respect to Vir Sanghvi’s good observation, here is what I have to say as a worthy representative of my sex.

Women like and collect shoes for the same reason that an art collector buys and collects art for beautiful shoes are not just shoes but poetry in leather. Or fabric, as the case might be.

I am rather ashamed of this story. But it is a story worth being told. A little after our second baby was born, I had this bizarre dream in which I am looking out of my bedroom window and I suddenly notice the sea rise in a tsunami like wave. Our building is at a good distance from the sea and we have no sea view to speak of. But this is a dream to let’s stick with the script. Still looking out of my open window, I watch the tide rise and move forward, drowning building after buildings that lay on its way to our building. Now I can see it is only a matter of seconds before we too will be swept under this tsunami. Panicking I run to my husband and ask him to take both our girls to the terrace of the building for safety. I then grab our dog and dash to my room, open my shoe closet and start to figure which of my shoes need to be saved and taken to the terrace with me.

I missed the climax of my dream but I did not miss the message in it. That I will sacrifice anything for my shoes. I have fairly large feet that have figured in my blog before. Calling them platypus feet would be doing justice to their dimensions. Maybe I am insecure that I won’t find shoes my size easily and that explains my response to the tsunami in my dream.

I do not want to get into what this dream speaks of me as a wife or a mother or even a dog owner. Maneka Gandhi would disapprove that I would even dream of risking my dog’s life during a tsunami in favour of saving  shoes made of animal hide. But this is how it was.

Shoes don’t merely lift a woman’s carriage they lift a woman’s spirits too. We buy them till we run out of places to store them. We collect them with the same pride that people collect Razas and Husseins. We suffer in them, we suffer for them.

With our shoe closets spilling over, we promise our dads, husbands or boyfriends that we will not buy any more shoes. But we throw away the shoe box and sneak them into our homes in our hand bag anyway.

Sometimes the shoe pinches, at times the heels numb our calves with strain and at times the shoe that fit us well a few weeks ago seems like it has gone too big. But we don’t discard them. It is just reassuring to just see them in the closet now and then and to know that they are around.

Maybe Imelda Marcos got judged harshly when she said “I did not have three thousand pairs of shoes. I had one thousand and sixty.”

The world is full of women like her, she just got found out.

Maid for each other

18 Apr

I have been away too long. The kids’ nanny has taken off for a few days and I am having to move my limbs in the direction of my children. Usually, when the nanny is around, I get by with just sitting on the couch and moving my eyes and occasionally my arms in the relevant direction. I run my house much like Zubin Mehta conducts an opera. Occasionally I throw away the conductor’s stick and turn into a tenor, much like Luciano Pavarotti  did(God rest his soul) and raise my voice at the highest pitch possible. Thank goodness that sound can travel for I am spared the effort to move around when I have to summon kids/dog/staff/poultry etc from the other room.

So panicked I was at the thought of the nanny going away that I began to fix up lunch appointments with as many people as I could in the days preceding her departure. I fixed lunches with the same urgency a person in the know of an approaching apocalypse would reserve for meeting up with his near and dear ones.

And so it was that I caught up with my friend S at Yoga House, this quaint place in a narrow lane just off the coastline in Bandra.  Yoga House comes with a high ceiling, wooden flooring and a Zen like air and I had to do everything I could to hold back from really liking this place. See I always do that, avoid totally falling for some place in Mumbai because it all starts of well but for most cafes and restaurants in this city the writing on the walls usually says “you will be disappointed by next time this month.” But something about Yoga House told me this place was different.

So coming back to my friend S, she is a woman of many interests and that is what I really like about her. She follows her passions, obsessively. Oh no, she is not a stalker or anything because stalkers also follow their passions obsessively. Her passions are cooking, art, reading, religion, not necessarily in that order and she does not merely make drawing room conversations about them but follows them with all her heart and might I add, money too.

So anyhow, S and I made ourselves comfortable on the floor cushions inside the yoga room and talked about life, our kids, our husbands and of course our domestic help over helpings of health food served by waiters in a mental state of shava asana (corpse pose). Yeah, the food took forever to arrive and some of it never arrived coz the waiters were like the undead. There, but not quite.

Lunches between girlfriends our age is much like labor. Just as one can expect a baby at the end of labor, one can expect the conversation to eventually veer towards maids and other domestic help in the end.

S and I have had maids who were related to each other. Now as any woman will know, this connection can only bring two people closer. I used to think it was a bit tack to waste time talking about maids with friends, but after watching the nobility in Downton Abbey concern themselves endlessly with the lives of their servants, I have no shame in indulging in maid talk anymore.

You see, since we are talking, might as well tell you that I had woken up with a nightmare that morning. My nanny was to leave for her village the same night and I dreamt that she has informed me that she is not coming back. I swear I woke up in cold sweat and after composing myself, I decided to have a conversation with her over my morning tea. She had been looking a bit maudlin since a few days and though I had enquired about it a couple times, she usually dismissed it with a sad smile saying all is well.

This must have been working itself out in my subconscious and therefore led to my nightmare of her quitting. Indeed Sigmund would have looked at it in a different manner and found some perverse way to link it with my repressed desire or something. But since Freud is dead and gone why go there?

You can only imagine what mixed emotions I might have felt inside me as she confessed to me that she indeed was quitting and did not intend returning from her village. I marveled at my inner intelligence that had shown me the trailer of this conversation in my sleep and thereby made me have this conversation in the first place. But I had not been in awe of my own brain long enough before reality struck and I began to imagine my life without her. Anyway to cut a long story short, it was some kitchen politics between the cook and her and the issue finally got resolved in my favour.

I had to narrate this to S to get this off my chest and to impress her with my inner intelligence. She said this one thing, which I shall try and always remember, “These people have no attachments. No loyalty. They are loyal only to their stomachs. The blood that runs in these people is rather cold.” I hate to say this, but I tend to agree with S as over the years I have come to realize that these words spoken by S are true. And if Khalil Gibran had only included a page or two on Domestic Help in ‘The Prophet’ we wouldn’t have to learn these lessons at our own expense. **

S and I came to the topic of staff salaries and grumbled about the new mothers in Juhu and Napean Sea who were paying crazy salaries to nannies who were neither efficient nor professional.  I am all for being fair to workers but this sudden salary jump led to a lot of poaching and inequality. S wisely observed that some of the women made their husbands feel so grateful for having indulged them by procreating that the overly dominated chap thought nothing of dishing out incredible salaries just to keep his child bearer happy. “It is almost like they are making their husbands pay a price for putting them through childbirth and they could not be bothered to do much work for their children thereafter,” remarked S. She was probably right.

But I was no such woman. I was the mother who secretly felt threatened by her nanny when her baby so much as cooed in her direction.  I may be conducting the opera of my house from my couch, but my heart was in the right place. As these thoughts ran through my mind, I began to look forward to my nanny’s weeklong departure because delicious hands-on bonding with my children awaited me.

** Since it is highly unlikely that Gibran will wake up from the dead to compose a verse on maids and nannies anytime soon, my friend Swapan Seth would do well if he could shed some wisdom on this manner when his book ‘This is all I have to say’ goes into a reprint. It is the modern day version of ‘The Prophet’ and you could all do well if you learned just a thing or two from Seth’s understanding of life.

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