Archive | September, 2012

About youth, ageing and poolside musings

26 Sep

My friend Priya and I are poolside mums. Mums who sit by the pool and watch their children swim even as humidity eats into their hair shaft and the sun streaks their faces in uneven colours.

We are poolside mums who, as a mark of respect to our slowing metabolisms, have trained our eyes to turn blind each time a plate of delicious and without doubt, deep friend snacks, passes us by.

The only difference between Priya and me is that she has spawned swimming champions while my children, who are late bloomers, look like they are struggling to keep themselves from drowning in the shallow side of the pool.

Priya and I were talking about how we find it a bother to go to too many social engagements lately because of changing priorities as also the effort involved in primping ourselves for them. When you closely begin to resemble a creature that is lying awash on the beach having suffered an oil spill you suspend all thoughts of a night out in favour of a comfortable evening in bed or in front of the idiot box.

Truth be told, things weren’t always this bad. There was a time when going to a social event entailed a brisk scrubbing of ones face, slipping into a natty outfit within seconds and dashing out while dabbing on the gloss in the elevator. But a decade (or two), and a couple of kids later, this means spending hours in front of ones wardrobe figuring out what outfit will flatter ones form best and then spending another eternity in front of the mirror, slathering on war paint. Given all that it entails, ‘going out’ is a  process, it isn’t merely a social act.

I think that the most important transition period in a woman’s life is when she is in her 30s.  This is usually the decade that will bring on more make up on her dressing table and more indecision to her life. While some of us will bridle this indecision and our inner conflict and ride it out, there are some who will fail to do so and be at cross-purposes with ourselves.

A new survey conducted in the UK has revealed that middle age now begins at 55, thereby bringing much cheer to those who have been in mourning since they turned 40 or live in fear of it.

Delighted as I am about this redefinition of middle age, I cannot pretend that my body is going to buy it. My body as I know, is fully intent on matching the profile of its chronological age. On the occasion that I do step out at night, I brace myself for the tell-tale signs the next morning will bring. The calves will hurt, the soles of my feet will sting, the eye bags will pop up, and the skin will take on the colour of the Yangtze River.

Of course, I do wish that I could stumble upon the fountain of youth one day for ageing isn’t something I look forward to. But I take solace in the fact that I am not the only one.

Call it perversion if you will, but I must confess that I feel secretly comforted when I look at the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz and notice (gleefully) that age isn’t sparing them either.

Since I too have no choice but to give into the process of ageing,  I have made my peace with it the same way that war veterans make peace with the casualties/handicaps that war has rendered on them.

In any case, growing older isn’t as bad as it is made out to be.Now that I am nestled comfortably in my thirties (and not too far from my forties), I find that I use lesser make up but am more sure of myself; I seek lesser excitement, more contentment; I worry less, I rejoice more. I now choose comfort over fashion and longer hemlines over shorter ones.  I have come to realize that the only way to fight age is to accept it, wholeheartedly.

The way I look at it, the only problem I have with growing older is that Ranbir Kapoor is younger than me. Other than that, I am quite alright with it. After all, youth fades, substance remains. Now if you will excuse me, I need to go and look for that substance.



Call me, maybe?

19 Sep
Even he misses calls and messages

Even he misses his phone calls and messages. (picture courtesy: The Hindu)

The other day, the husband, who moonlights as an ‘international man of mystery’*, sent me this irate SMS from foreign shores, “One can even find God. But cannot get you EVER EVER EVER on a phone. Totally impossible.”

A similar incident has unfolded in New Delhi today involving Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, who have accused  Mamata Banerjee of not returning missed calls and messages. While the PMO’s office has accused Banerjee of not responding to his missed calls, Banerjee has gone to town claiming that Sonia Gandhi never reverted to her SMS informing her of her decision to withdraw support over the reforms concerning the FDI in retail.

I never ever imagined that I would be writing this, but  it has dawned on me that Sonia-Manmohan, Mamata and I, share similar problems.

I am tired of being accused of missing phone calls and messages by the husband and my friends. These mobile phones were supposed to simplify our lives and not enslave us or give us all, one more reason to exchange blows over.

Look I am not denying that I like my mobile. It is the first thing I look at as I drag myself out of my bed every morning and the last thing I cast loving glances over as I sleep at night.

When my babies were born I was keener to look at my phone for missed calls and messages than at their white shriveled up faces. I feel unhappy if my sms/bbm and whataspp have had a quiet day. I feel let down and unloved if I look at my phone after a long gap of an hour or two and don’t see the red light blinking.

However, I own the phone and I do not wish to be owned by it. I don’t like being reachable or being answerable all the time. Just as busy people with real jobs are allowed to miss calls and cannot instantly respond to messages, I feel, as a stay-at-home mom (or homemaker as they call it to make themselves feel better), I too have my telephone rights.

I may be spending a good part of my day at home but that does not mean I am sitting by my phone, putting nail varnish or petting my dog all day. I am not always free to answer calls and it isn’t always because I have some anti-ageing face pack slathered all over my mug.

In an office, it is easier to walk from one meeting to another with your mobile in your bag/pocket but when one is at home one does not carry the mobile around like a Macaw perched on one’s arm.

It also needs to be said here, that although I may not be a ‘lady who lunches’ or a kitty party type, it does not mean that I am under some self-imposed house arrest either. I could be in a noisy place where sophisticated ring tones can go unheard or  at a PTA or in midst of an important conversation with the Pest Control guy. Who knows? I could be astral traveling, as I usually do, when I am in the car with my noisy kids. A bat would not be able to pick up the sound of a ringing mobile when my kids are around, then how can I, a human being with limitations imposed by evolution, manage to hear the damn thing ring.

So really, working friends, Indians and husband, you get paid to work and get ‘understood’ for missing calls.

I speak for many women like me who don’t get paid for work and get flak for missing calls. Don’t accuse us but empathize with us (I am hoping there really are other women like me out there.)

* In the words of my friend Fahad.

Samsung Galaxy 3 and the Korean sense of humour.

12 Sep
Samsung Galaxy 3

Galaxy 3

I have been gifted a Samsung Galaxy 3 by the husband who is exceptionally generous when it comes to buying me gadgets. Even though my i-phone had met with a curious accident involving the geriatric dog and his bladder, I had made my peace with it and was loathe changing it.

If you are the curious about the nature of the accident then I will have to tell you that my demented dog chose to relieve himself in the same corner of my room where the i-phone was getting charged.  Can’t really blame the dog for this heinous act when the husband, in his infinite wisdom, had decided to leave my precious new phone on the floor, while it charged itself.

Needless to say that the phone’s uric acid soaked features were never quite the same again. In spite of that, I was reluctant to part with it having established an easy familiarity with it since its arrival into my life.

But, what woman has the heart to go about using a defective i-phone when their spouse walks about the house looking wounded that a gift given by him with much love, is gathering dust on a mantle piece. I had to make the shift.

I was told that the Galaxy 3 is far superior than any other phone on this planet and has applications Apple could only dream of. Even as I shifted my sim card, I fought a sense of guilt that comes with abandoning an item made by Steve Jobs in favour of a well thought out modification made by a Korean company.

When Apple won the lawsuit against Samsung in the United States, a part of me was glad for it. The other part of me felt like a plagiarist for endorsing a plagiarised product. As far as the instrument itself was concerned, it had very good battery life and a large screen but no other features in it impressed me much due to old attachments (to a cell phone, no less!). In due course, I started having some technical issues with it. The husband dismissed it by saying that all my phones were jinxed and he would not like to get involved.

As a befitting response to such apathy I have allowed that man to go on a vacation to North Korea where concentration camps abound and no communication with the outside world is allowed. But more about that in my next blog.

I took my phone to the Samsung store to figure it out better and to vent my feelings about it to their sales staff. They were paid to listen to irate customers, I thought, so why not go and give help him justify his living.   “I am very disappointed with this phone, ” I told him. He looked nonplussed. “I think this is just an over hyped phone, there is nothing special about it and my calls keep dropping on their own. Why should I pay so much for something that does not deliver ?” I asked indignantly.

It was a rhetorical question of course, but the salesman decided to address it. “Ma’am, you see, our phone has been priced so high because it brings you close to nature.”

Nature? Really?

“Yes ma’am, you see, it is shaped like a pebble. It is for nature lovers because it is rounded around the corners. See?” he said tracing out the curves of the phone with his finger.

If I liked pebbles I would find myself a pebble. I would not allow a small fortune to be spent on a Samsung phone just because it has soft pebble like edges.

“Ma’am it is also very smooth, like a smooth pebble,” he went on with his ridiculous sales pitch, possibly thought out by a Korean advertising professional of exceptionally low IQ.

So why would I not take a walk in a garden if I wanted to be close to nature. I would sit by a beach if I wanted to be close to nature. Or never use a mobile phone if I wanted to be close to nature. But this?

I could take it no more and I began to crack-up. Mistaking my suppressed laughter of irony for the happy giggles of a satisfied customer, the salesman elaborated on the voice feature of the phone.

On my way back home I put the voice feature to test to see how it worked.

Here is the message I dictated to the phone

“Hey Parul are you meeting me today?”

The message that got auto typed: Hi pal I meeting you today (Korean English la?)

“This phone is just so idiotic”

Auto typed message: This phone is a Sony. (Running down competition huh?)

“The husband is in North Korea”

Auto typed message: The husband is not good. (For once they got it right!)

Take the kids with Alayna to the park.

Auto typed message: Gig tickets to give in a line at the park.

“I am losing it with this phone.”

Auto typed message: I am feeling good with this phone. (How sneaky is that?)

“I will give you two tight slaps.”

Auto typed message: I will give you toothache slabs.

“My sister is at work.”

Auto typed message: Manchester is at work. (Just how rude is that?)

These are like the subtitles of a pirated film purchased in Kuala Lumpur.

So now you know. I have a phone that is either a compulsive liar or writes incorrect English.

But I shall ignore that, as I want to be close to nature.




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