Archive | August, 2014

Diary of Frankly Anne – The karma of greying

21 Aug

Shades of Grey


Dear Diary,

Spotted some stark grey hair strands today. Seriously disturbed. I am not prepared to grow old just yet. Why have these strands turned grey overnight? Is it because of bad karma?

I book at appointment with my hair stylist, ironically called Karma, in the hope that she will have a miracle fix for grey hair that did not involve dying or colouring. Karma always has a solution to my problems. I mean Karma the stylist, not the other one. She inspects my hair and is surprised that between my last visit to her and now some of it has indeed turned grey. But it isn’t premature greying, she consoles me. She tells me that at our age it was bound to start turning grey. This is not very consolatory at all.

Agreed, I will be growing another year older this year. I would tell you my age, but I think that might be a mistake. Honesty is a good policy when age is concerned only after you are eighty. Any time before that a woman should hide her age or at least keep people guessing. Besides, if I told you my age, we would develop trust issues between us because as Oscar Wilde says, ‘One should never trust a woman who tells one her real age. A woman who would tell one that would tell one anything.’

So there. But let me just tell you that I have always been considered older than my years. It started at school when I was around ten-years-old. I came back after the summer break only to notice that everyone in my class had shrunken in size. Unexpectedly I was asked to take the last bench, a move that I took to most despairingly.  Someone ought to have made me feel good about growing vertically back then but we live in a cruel world.

Over time I got used to being relegated to the backbench, or the last in the queue as it were. This I could deal with but the ignominy of being asked to play a boy’s part during the annual day concert only because the boy who was originally assigned the role had been taken ill with jaundice, was something that was going to stay with me for a long time. Although when I look at my picture albums and notice a faint but definitely there hair growth on my upper lip and my knit brows, I wonder now if it was naivete’ that made me believe it was my height alone that was responsible for landing me the boy’s part.

If this wasn’t a life altering event, there were more that included uncles and aunties in my parents’ circle  fondly asking me to watch over their petite daughters when we went for evening walks or picnics.

Be that as it may, I soon got over such slights because of my mother who made me believe that there was no one lovelier than me this side of the Hindukush. As time passed, these delusions that mom passed on to me found deep roots within my psyche and declared permanent residence.

If I looked older and stronger than others because of my height and frame, it was all right with me.

But now, at my age, this MATTERS. I want to finally be considered younger than my age. It is pay back time world.

I am Googling ‘Ways to reverse premature greying’ and the key remedy according to my research is the one that says ‘Don’t stress as stress causes greying’.

This bit always manages to enrage me. What do you mean don’t stress? What do you want me to do, take long eager strides across mustard fields towards my old age? Embrace it the way Bollywood heroine embraces Bollywood hero just before the end credits roll? Of course I am stressed. Have you ever met anybody who was dying of some illness or had severe health issues and on being told that stress was the main contributing factor towards their disease, decided to suddenly be happy, cheerful and optimistic about it? Probably not.

Au contraire, such a statement only makes matters worse because even if you were stressed earlier you were ignorant of what it was doing to your body. Now not only are you stressed but you are also stressed that you are stressed and that the stress is going to exacerbate your condition.

So not stressing about this matter is clearly not an option. There are some Chinese acupressure options that have shown up on my screen which are looking good. What is also looking good are some options that suggest that if I chew ginkgo biloba leaves daily, apply curry leaf oil every night for ninety nights in a row, spend the better part of my day doing head stands, do positive affirmations of the nature of ‘My hair is slowly turning black, my hair is slowly turning black’ by not merely saying them out aloud but also feeling them, there is a good chance that I will reverse the greying.

I will not be writing for a while hereafter as you can see, there is so much to be done.

Now please excuse me while I get to work.

Yours etc,

Frankly Anne


The credit card statement

12 Aug
Follow your Bliss and the bills will follow

Follow your Bliss and the bills will follow

It is that time of the month. My credit card statements have found their way into the husband’s inbox.

Any man who is expecting a credit card outstanding that is pleasing on the eye after a six week long vacation  is a man estranged from reality, a man with a utopian bent of mind.

More so if those six weeks made allowance for a side trip to America, truly the land of the (guilt) free (shoppers).

His body language gave it away as soon as he walked into the house. But he will not make it easier for me by just stating the cause of his anguish. He will leave it out there for me to wonder, like any good FBI agent would do before he begins with his inquisitions.

He broke it to me just as I sat down to break bread. Here’s your credit card statement, he said with a mien that was far from casual.

“What do you have to say about it?” he questions.

“Well I think this isn’t bad at all. It includes my shopping as well as the kids. “Our” kids.”

“Right. And you don’t think this is extravagant?”

I replied in the negative. “Buying necessities is not extravagance. Besides, I don’t think this credit card statement is very bad at all because I could have bought a croc Birkin.  And since I did not, I have saved you  us a fortune.” Notice the clever use of  “us”.

“Birkin? Why would you buy a Birkin? You have yourself told me you don’t care much for it. How does the Birkin even figure in this conversation?” Now he is looking all puzzled.

“Yes I agree with you on that I was not even considering buying a Birkin. But am just saying.”

“Saying what?”

“That this credit card statement could’ve been a lot worse had I been into Birkins and even more so if I had been into exotic skin Birkins.”

“This is truly the worst logic ever.” He is looking at me incredulously now.

“Maybe sometimes, just sometimes you can find it in you to praise my endeavours to be smart with money.

Instead you red flag this modest credit card statement!!!! I am hurt.”

“Modest? How is this modest? I don’t know what to say to you!” He is about to throw in the towel any minute now.

“There is no pleasing you. This is it. I think I should have never given up my career to raise our kids. Then I would not have to explain my credit card statement to anyone.”

“Where is that coming from now for god’s sake?”

“It is coming from a place that has opportunity cost written all over it. Had I not chosen to be a stay at home mother…,

“Oh ok ok I get it. Fine baba. I ll say nothing now. At least just go over the bill calmly and confirm that these are your expenses.”

And so it is that what could’ve been an acrimonious exchange between man and wife turned into a mature conversation between two adults.

Maturity always wins.

And a woman’s logic.


A brief vacation in Malta

8 Aug


I am not a beach person. I have very low tolerance for heat, sand makes me dirty, marine algae creeps me out and I do not even want to start on what sea air does to my hair. This is the reason that as a family we are mostly ending up in cool climes during our getaways. This however, does not imply that the rest of my family has an aversion to sand, sun or the sea. Although, what this does mean is that they have not realized that the reason we rarely end up on a beach is because I am not a fan of it, which works well for me because this way, no one accuses me of being a vacation bully.

When the husband and our kids were discussing a vacation in Malta, I decided to overlook my feelings about my idea of an ideal vacation for once, because you see, even bullies have their weaker moments when they succumb to introspection and the subsequent guilt. Besides, our friends from Bombay were to meet us at Malta airport to spend the next few days exploring the island with us and that was reason enough to look forward to this trip.

And so it is that I found myself tightening up my seatbelt on a Malta bound flight from London, which cruelly enough, was enjoying a nippy week. It took a lot for me to give up that nip for an African summer. (Malta is just across the ocean from Africa).


Sleepy lanes

When we drove out of the airport in Malta, the car felt like a furnace and I could actually feel my scalp crusting up like a wood fired pizza surface.

At first glance, Malta, an archipelago on the edge of Europe and staring directly at Africa, seemed like a quaint island stuck in a bit of a time warp. Our car drove through narrow meandering lanes flanked by derelict houses in honey coloured limestone from a bygone era. This landscape was unlike the rest of the continent for it wasn’t the Europe of imposing medieval and gothic architecture; instead it looked like a deserted albeit beautiful country, one which had quietly withstood the ravages of time and made its peace with it.

We checked into the Corinthia Hotel, St George’s Bay and were escorted to our rooms so many pieces of luggage that one would have thought we were doing a transfer of residence to Malta permanently along with all our lives’ belongings.

It did not take us long to realize that people in Malta did not believe in dressing up, which was a relief really.

Our rooms overlooked the entrance to a wide, sweeping bay where the turquoise Mediterranean Sea glistened under the unrestrained Maltese sun.

Bay View

The view – St George’s Bay, Malta

Before you knew it, the Madre, the friends and your truly were dangling over the balcony with our cameras in an effort to capture the view. I have never understood this kind of urgency in camera enthusiasts such as myself. One knows that one is to spend the next five days looking at the same view and yet one has to trip over themselves to take pictures at the first opportunity, as though the next morning the sea will pack up and shift venue.

The arrival of smart phones in our lives has compounded the task because one has to, now, juggle between the phone and the Nikon DSLR because every moment must be captured several times over and if possible immediately uploaded on social media so everybody can see just how much fun one is having.

When it comes to food, Malta is almost at par with Italy because of its physical proximity from Sicily. By the time we decided to head out for an early bite, the heat of the day was giving way to a gentle evening breeze and even though my hair was frizzing up like I had Lenny Kravitz’s genes in me, I began to feel more optimistic about this holiday.



The next morning we headed out towards Valetta, the capital of Malta, which is not only achingly beautiful but also a UNESCO World Heritage site. It reminded me of Rome in some ways because wandering the streets of Valetta one could easily be lead to believe that one was inside a gigantic museum. One came across baroque churches, street markets, old-fashioned shops, narrow winding alleys and piazzas with live music and fluttering pigeons, and cafes with temperamental waiters (the Italian effect).

Our avuncular waiter was serving us with the attitude that he was doing us a favour and only turned up his efficiency when he noticed that we were winding up our meal and the time to tip was at hand.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge lived here

Samuel Taylor Coleridge lived here

Just as we were done with our meal of beer and pizzas, my eyes fell on a charming Maltese townhouse with the words ‘Samuel Taylor Coleridge lived here’ hung outside it. This is what I love about Europe. One can stumble upon literary shrines and other historical gems quite unexpectedly in almost every part of Europe. Hemingway dined here. Picasso painted here. Dali sat here. Oscar Wilde resided here. Somerset Maugham lived here. Jack the ripper got arrested here. KATA TON DAIMONA EAYTOY (in other words Jim Morrison rests in peace here). Where else in the world does one get to see this?

I sprung up from my chair, pupils dilated , mouth gaping and dashed towards ST’s house while the philistine in our group rolled their eyes at me for making such a song and dance about a dead poet’s residence.

On our drive back to the hotel the older one, our eleven-year-old had her moment of pupil dilation when we drove past a sign that read Pembroke Grove. “Oh my god, this is Pembroke grove!!!” she squealed. “What’s so special about Pembroke Grove?” I asked. “Oh Cheryl Blossom lives there,” she replied. “Who is Cheryl Blossom?” “Mom, d-uh, she is that girl from Archie comics.”

What could I even say to that?

If I could be happy about a dead, although distinguished poet’s house, I suppose my child had the right to be happy about an undistinguished Archie Comic character’s house.


Cheryl Blossom

Cheryl Blossom

City of M'dina

City of M’dina

The next day we headed towards Mdina, which was unlike anything, I had seen before. Driving through the tumbling terrain of Malta, the city of Mdina appeared in a distance and rose atop a hill like a castle in a fairytale illustration. Founded by the Phoenicians nearly 4000 years ago, this was the oldest spot that I had ever been to in all of Europe. What was remarkable was that it has been continuously been inhabited ever since.

A calming silence hung over Mdina and at first glance it seemed unlikely that the houses in the walled city, also knows as the ‘Silent City’, were inhabited at all. And yet, nestled between the stoned terraces of the buildings were some lively restaurants. There is nothing like a good chilled rose’ and rich chocolate cake to take the edge off a hot day and we indulged in both while the teenager among us, the madre’, made use of the wi-fi and got busy with her i-pad.


As the sun began to set, our entourage perambulated the precincts in the quest of a perfect shot and got several delightful ones. With wine running through my blood stream, it was easy to stalk a bride and groom who were posing for professional pictures in the courtyard with great concentration. I was keen to get some good shots of my own. Of course, I had to ask them for their permission, which was easy after I paid the bride a compliment by telling her that she looked stunning, even though it was only partly true. She looked like she could do with a lip plumper and some Moroccan oil to ease the frizz in her hair. The groom looked like he could have done with a lifetime membership to a gym. But it was not my place to bring these facts to their notice. Besides, the bougainvillea spread across the limestone facade made the couple easy on the eye and I managed to get my perfect shot.

Malta was turning out to be better than I had expected. Tomorrow we were going to spend a day at the sea.

It was going to be a day that would reveal the story of a knight in shining armour, a damsel in distress and a boy who looked like Enrique Iglesias. More in the next post.

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