Friday, July 18, 2014

(Made) my day

Before putting Xena to sleep, I always ask her to tell me about her day. She gives me a detailed account of every little thing that happened from the morning till the evening.

Recently, she finished her account and then suddenly asked me, "Mama, let's talk about your day now." I was surprised but I started, "Well... In the morning, I made breakfast for you and Poppy... and then I packed your school bag and got you ready for school..."

"No, Mama..." She interrupted. "Please talk about YOUR day, not my day and Poppy's day."


Sunday, July 06, 2014

A bird's-eye view

It was only when I heard myself say, "Tree ke branch par ek blue bird ka nest tha" during a routine story-telling session with Xena that I realised it was not exactly Hindi I was teaching her. The plan is to have Xena take up Hindi as a subject in school and so the tree, branch, blue bird and nest were not going to help. So, much to my sister-in-law's amusement, I corrected myself by saying, "Vriksh ki shakha par ek neele pakshi ka ghosla tha" to a very surprised Xena.

Since then, I've started to consciously use more Hindi words. The other day we were looking at a bird resting on a window ledge. "Pigeon!" She said. "Kabootar!" I said. She was very amused at the word and kept repeating it.

"Xena, do you know there is a kabootar song?" I asked her.

(A big thwack with a rolled up newspaper on the heads of bewdas who immediately thought of the lotan kabootar song. Dhikkar hai tum sab par. Sharm karo.)

"Mama, can you sing it for me?" She asked.

So I sang "Kabootar ja ja ja" from Maine Pyar Kiya and explained to her that "ja" means "go".

"Why are you asking the kabootar to go away?" She asked.

So I explained to her that in the song there was a story, and in the story there was a Bhagyashree Aunty who had a kabootar and she wanted to send a letter through it.

"Just like postman uncle!" She exclaimed.


"Bhagyashree Aunty ne kisko letter bheja?"

"Salman Uncle ko."

"What did she write?"

"She asked him to come back."

"Where was he?"

"Errr... At a party."

"Why did she ask him to come back?"

"Umm... Because she wanted to meet him."

"The kabootar flew to Salman Uncle?"

"Ummm... No. It was a very smart kabootar. It did not know where Salman Uncle was, so it went in Salman Uncle's manager's car."

(Yes, I was surprised at my own memory.)


"Salman Uncle read the letter and came back!"

"How did he come back?"

"In his car. He drove back."

"And the kabootar came back in the car again?"

"Err... No. It flew back."

"Why didn't it come back in Uncle's car?"

"Umm.. Uncle asked it to fly to Aunty."
(Well, selfish Uncle did sing, "Tu yeh sandesa unko sunana, main peechhe aaya.")

This conversation really made me crave at least the song, if not the movie. Here it is for you too, bewdas. Let's reminisce about the time when underneath Salman Uncle's vest was not his six-pack, but ribs and hair instead, and underneath Bhagyashree Aunty's visibly bad make-up were visibly bad pimples. And oh, let's not forget the end of the song when apples that grew on grass tumbled away and turned her on.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A clinical report

Yesterday, I took Xena to her mothership for an appointment with Dr. T, her lung doctor. The slot we had got was for 2:50 pm, which meant that Xena would have to skip her afternoon nap. Parents of toddlers would know what catastrophe that spells. Fortunately, I was packing her hospital bag when I discovered a set of stickers inside. I was thrilled. Though Xena has tons of stickers, these looked new. I had no idea where they'd come from, so I was sure they would serve well in keeping Xena distracted in the bus. I usually take a small toy or a book for bus rides, but stickers are flatter and lighter and so much better.

We entered the bus at 2 pm, the exact moment when she goes to nap. Sure enough, in about 3.45773 seconds, she started getting restless and I took out my brahmastra. She was just as thrilled to see them as I had been. "Thank you, Mama!" She said as she took them from me. She examined them for a few seconds and then said, "Oh, Mama! I forgot to say 'Thank you!'".

"No, baby," I said, "You did say 'Thank you' to me."

"No, Mama! I forgot to say 'Thank you' to the nurse."

"Which nurse?"

"Dr. L's nurse. She gave me the stickers."

Oh wow. These 3-year-olds and their memory. Dr. L is her endrocrinologist whom we'd seen more than a month ago. After she said it, I vaguely remembered that her nurse had indeed given some stickers.

She played with the stickers throughout the bus ride and soon we reached the hospital. She was still fiddling with them when we entered Dr. T's clinic. Dr. T always likes to start off by making small talk with his small patients, and so does the nurse in his clinic. He said, "Oh, you have stickers! Where did you get them?"

"Dr. L's nurse gave them to me." Xena said.

Dr. T looked stumped for a while, and then said, "Oh you saw Dr. L? Hmmm... let me check what he said." He flipped through Xena's hospital file to look for it and really struggled because with all her gazillions of health issues starting from her birth, her file is the size of a Yellow Pages directory. I kid you not. His very competent nurse jumped in and in less than 3 seconds, had found the page he was looking for. He read it and then turned to his nurse. I thought he was going to discuss something Dr. L had written in the file.

"So Dr. L has been handing out stickers, huh?" He said to her. The nurse smiled and turned around to fiddle with something I could not see. Dr. T went back to examining Xena and then asking me the usual 2098437598435 questions about her. By the time we were done, the nurse had conjured up a rabbit toy, complete with long ears, out of... a blue surgical glove! (At first I thought it was a regular animal-shaped balloon, but Viv pointed out that it was a surgical glove. Mind. Blown.) The nurse even showed Xena how to make the rabbit's ears flap and then handed it to her. Xena was over the moon.

So that's what she had been doing when she had turned around. She had even drawn a face using markers. And the entire time, she had still been paying keen attention to everything he was saying because she recapped it for us very clearly (next appointment, medicines to take, etc.).

Dr. T looked at Xena's delighted face approvingly and then proudly grinned, "They are giving out stickers, huh? Well, we are giving out animals!"

"So it's a competition between the clinics!" I remarked. They laughed.

I was still smiling as we left the clinic. It was so cute and so heart-warming. In the middle of a busy day in one of the busiest hospitals in Singapore, a doctor and a nurse, without compromising their primary duties, had found some time to conjure up some fun.

For everyone.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Catch-up #6

Hola, bewdas!

I was going to start this post with 'How are you?' but it reminded me of the letters I used to write to my grandfather as a kid. I'd always - ALWAYS - start them with 'How are you?' until I got annoyed with it myself. So I switched to opening with 'I'm well and hope you are too.' So let me start my catch-up post with that. I'm well and hope you bewdas are too. I know several of you worry for Xena and send me emails whenever there is silence at the bar, and I thank you sincerely for thinking of us. So far so good, I'd say.

(Just a note that I reply to every single bewda/bewdi who writes to me. So if you have emailed me and not received a reply, please check that you haven't sent it to my old email address. That address had a totally unnecessary z somewhere, because in those days I was silly enough to join the bandwagon of adding a z after everything and actually finding it cool. Sheesh. Anyway, my new email address is visible when you click on my blog profile.)

The last few days have been crazy-busy. I've been wrapping up some projects, pitching new ones, going for Xena's hospital visits (regular check-ups, regular check-ups!), trying to get appointments with dentists and contractors (we are planning to renovate some parts of our home; I hope that it will be a neater place after that, but with a jumpy toddler in the house... who am I kidding?). The weird and wonderful thing is that in the middle of this chaos, I've also been able to slot in some time doing stuff for myself. My thoughtful sister-in-law Clueless, who's staying with us for a while, treated me to a pedicure last week. Complete with paraffin treatment and what not. (They put your feet in molten wax, sit back and pray that you don't scalded. Then they simply pull the solidified wax off your feet. Like a cast. I kid you not. I don't know if it does anything to beautify the feet, but it sure was an awesome phenomenon to witness). Clueless also persuaded me to go for a shade of nail-polish which I felt was too dhinchak, but it's grew on me, and after Xena's two thumbs-up rating (but then that woman would praise anything that's pink!), I really like it.

Thanks to Clueless' presence, Viv and I have also been able to watch some new movies in the theatre. IN THE THEATRE! We put Xena to bed and head off for a late show in a mall nearby, and then walk home. It's a 2-3 km walk and we actually get a real chance at conversation, without being interrupted every three seconds by Xena's alarmed accounts about her toys, "Mama, Poppy, Felix needs to poop NOW!!" (Why Felix needs to poop so much is honestly beyond me.) Anyway, we have managed to watch 'X-Men - Days of Future Past' and 'Edge of Tomorrow' in the theatre! And oh, did I mention that we watched these movies IN THE THEATRE??

Last night, as we exited the cinema just after midnight, we were stopped by a gang. No, we didn't have to turn in our phones and wallets. (Actually no self-respecting mugger would steal my phone.) If anything, they handed us a phone. It was a gang of friends having a surprise birthday party. They were crowded around a chocolate cake that had been placed on a supermarket trolley! They asked us to take a picture for them. Viv took it and then I realised that the plastic bag the cake came in was smack in front of the cake and though the friends were all in the picture, all you could see of the cake was the flame. They had already thanked us and taken the phone back, but I interrupted. I may be a lousy photographer, but I'm particular about composition and the story that a picture should tell. So I removed the plastic bag and rearranged stuff to make everything nice and visible and memorable. We redid the 'shoot', much to the amusement of the gang. We wished the birthday boy and moved on. I was reminded of the many midnight birthday celebrations we had during our university days, and how the birthday boy's/girl's hair, face and clothes were 'decorated' using a handmade mixture of cat food, flour, toothpaste and cabbage oil. They didn't call it 'birthday sabo' for nothing.

Aside from movies in the theatre, we also watched some DVDs I got from the library. We watch them accompanied by Breezers, after Xena has gone to bed. I quite liked the two recent ones we watched (Brothers Bloom and The Guilt Trip). I thought Brothers Bloom was particularly poetic, but Viv thought it was quite meh. The Guilt Trip, though somewhat predictable and armed with a really low rating on IMDB, was actually not too bad.

I have also managed to catch up on the trailers of the upcoming Hindi movies for 2014, and nothing seems really exciting. Ek Villain sounds a little promising, but after watching Hasee Toh Phasee, I'm of the firm view that in spite of Siddharth Malhotra's presence, a movie can be really bad. (I actually started disliking Parineeti after watching that movie.) Oh by the way, I'm going a bit mad over the songs of Ek Villain, especially Galliyan and Banjara. If you haven't, listen to them NOWNOWNOW. I do everything either humming the songs or playing them. Even Xena has started singing along with me. I'm seriously impressed at Shraddha Kapoor's rendition of Galliyan. I hope it really is her.

That's pretty much what has been happening here. And I'll wrap up this post with an extremely unusual ending.

How are you? :)


Friday, June 13, 2014

No fear

Viv and Xena were reading a book about a bug hiding under the bed and making strange noises.

Viv - ...The children heard the strange noises and got very scared...

Xena - But I'm not scared!

Viv - Oh yeah, why not?

(Both Viv and I were totally expecting a "Because I'm very brave!" kinda answer.)

Xena - Because I'm not in the book. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Have a Bolly good time VII

Edit: I have amended S-Z based on feedback from bewdi skirtsanddupattas. If you really want to know what happened, read the comments. The answers in the first two comments by Varsha and M are correct based on the old version.

The theme for the 7th Bollywood A-Z quiz is: Actors who were not the first choice. Can you identify A to Z?

Actor A starred as a murderer-lover in revenge saga B, a movie that cemented his position in Bollywood. This unconventional role had been turned down by his arch rival C, as well as not-so-arch-rival D. D's wife E was approached by successful filmmaker F for a role in movie G which he had specifically written with her in mind (even the character had been named after her!) but she turned it down, possibly because the movie started with her death scene. This role ultimately went to H, but not before it had been rejected by almost all the leading actresses of that time, including actress I. Actress I got rid of 80% of her eyebrows and appeared with a complete makeover in blockbuster J, a movie that had been rejected by beauty queen K because she wasn't sure that she wanted to be an actress. K's relative-by-marriage L had starred in M, one of the most iconic movies of all time, but he wasn't the first choice. The first choice had been N, who played a mix of good and bad characters in his movie career, and whose daughter O is now in the movies. M also carved the career of actor P who played the iconic baddie Q, which was supposed to have been played by actor R, whose son recently made his Bollywood debut. The producers were not too happy with P because they thought his voice was too weak to play the baddie they had envisioned, but P's dialogue delivery in the movie attained cult status. The movie also starred actor S who had rejected the blockbuster T that made a superstar out of L. S's son U played the good guy in movie V opposite actress W. V also featured A as a psychotic stalker, a role that had been rejected by actor X. Incidentally, X played a character half his age in Y, one of the all-time hits of Bollywood, which was based on a bestseller Z. To complete the circle, the first choice for this role had been A. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Old school

I sing a lot of old songs for Xena, especially before her afternoon nap. Lately, the song 'Kajra muhabbat wala' from the 1968 movie Kismat had been stuck in my head and I'd been singing a lot. The first time she heard the song, she immediately asked me which aunty had sung it. (I always tell her whatever trivia I know about the songs I sing for her.) So I told her, "Asha aunty and Shamshad aunty". Her immediate response was, "Woh kis tower mein rehte hain?" ("Which tower do they live in?") She thinks the whole world lives in our neighbourhood! Vasudhaiva kutumbakam indeed. :)

This evening, the whole family went a little nuts singing it over and over and luckily I managed to capture one of the instances on camera.

Friday, May 23, 2014

The warrior princess diaries - XV

I just realised that my last post in the warrior princess diaries series was in October last year. Of course, I have been blogging on and off about her, but posts in this particular series help me to put all the happenings together in one place, especially those about her health.

As usual, let me start with the health update. Since our last run to the hospital a night before her 3rd birthday party, we haven't had to rush there (*touchwood*) but we've had a couple of appointments with the 239847389745 specialists she's seeing. Her pediatrician was concerned at her poor growth (after years of waiting to hit that 10-kg mark, she's down to 9.4 kg again) and referred us to an endocrinologist. We saw him and he had a very very long meeting with us, where he explained a lot things. Genetically, she is designed to be tall because Viv is very tall and I'm above average, but if she follows her current growth chart, let's just say the numbers don't look good. He said that we will monitor her growth this year but if things don't look up, we might need to start growth hormone injections when she turns 4. We were horrified to learn that these injections will need to be administered to her every night for 10 years or more. Overall, it was a very depressing hospital visit. We have less than a year to somehow make her shoot up on the graph. I don't care so much about the weight, but I hope her height goes up soon. It's so scary, but I'm hopeful because Mom says I used to be very short as a toddler, but I had a sudden growth spurt in pre-teenage, and now I'm 165 cm. Fingers crossed the same (or better) happens for Xena.

Just when we thought we had to work harder on her eating, and I started listing ways to further increase her calories such as melting cheese over everything, adding more oil/ghee to her meals, we had an appointment with the gastrointestinal specialist that changed everything. He had put her on this anti-reflux medicine called omeprazol to see if it helped fix the issue of her throwing up. (Basically, the doctors suspect that reflux is causing food to enter her lungs, causing the frequent episodes of bronchiolitis, so we need to fix the reflux first, which in turn will fix the lungs and weight issues.) She was on the medicine for two months, but it didn't help at all. So now he had a radical suggestion for us. He said we need to look at the possibility of food allergies to see if anything she's taking is irritating her gut. Well, she pretty much lives on Pediasure, a very high-calorie formula milk. He asked us to cut out not just that, but all forms of dairy for a month. That means yogurt, cheese, butter, ghee, everything. In other words, anything that I was actually able to feed her or sneak into her food.

So for the last few days I have been crazily researching on dairy alternatives. Now that Pediasure is out, I not only need to match her caloric intake from before, I need to make sure she has enough calcium for her bones to grow. It's really really tough and I'm going slightly mad all over again. Fortunately, she has taken well to soya milk thanks to food colouring. At one point, she even asked me for milo. Viv was so amused and impressed when I mixed a drop of red and a drop of green food colouring to soya milk to make 'milo'! It's still the first week of the test and so far things look okay. She hasn't thrown up but I am not yet rejoicing because she's not eating enough; she's still only just nibbling on the dairy alternatives I've offered so far. She's very hungry for sure without Pediasure, because she wants to snack all the time, but there's very little she actually eats. Quantity is a huge issue at the moment, because she's happy to just have a lunch consisting of 10 banana chips. My fridge is now stocked with soya milk, almond milk, coconut milk, soya chocolate milk and what not. I've also become a crazy mathematician, trying to add up her calories and calcium RDA. If she loses weight because of this test, I will surely go mad. But I'm keeping my hopes up. I'll let you know in a month.

Okay, I'm done with the depressing stuff. Let's pretend the three paragraphs above don't exist, and move on. Someone sent me this very funny image, which I thought was so apt in my case. Mom tells me I was a picky eater and gave her more than a fair share of frustration, but my daughter is of course the mother of all picky eaters.

Xena loves the hospital visits for a special reason. The animal rides! She's too small to ride them by herself so she picks the animals, and either Viv or I accompany her.

Speaking of animal rides, a few weeks ago, she had her first pony ride! I'd met another blog bewdi who also has a 3-year-old so we made plans to take the kids to Pasir Ris park which has a tiny stable where kids can ride a pony. It was absolutely fabulous, and she loved it.

My little rider

I'd actually never been to Pasir Ris park before, so I was amazed at how big it was. The playground there was truly the coolest playground I've ever seen. Kids can do actual stunts there! Of course, there were also the regular playground rides, and Xena and her friend hopped into an 'hydroplane' piloted by another toddler.

This shot of her in the hydroplane amused me to no end. I don't even know what on earth she was doing, but it really looks like a 'Miss World wave'. 

We got her a proper outdoor scooter for her birthday (she had an indoor Hello Kitty one for the longest time, on which she would zoom in and out of rooms). She took to it instantly, and lately I'm finding myself actually having to run after her at times. That's my daily workout regime.

Xena and me, on our way to the beach

Fast and furious

In the later afternoons, after her nap, we sit down and play together. She makes me chai and vegetable soup using her kitchen set, sprinkling both with a generous amount of pepper, and we race cars and solve puzzles and build blocks and read books. She loves all her toys - the kitchen set, the race cars, the dinosaurs, the dolls, the blocks, so I have not faced a gender-stereotype issue yet. Play with everything I say, just not guns. I've noticed though that most of her clothes and toys tend to be pink. I suppose that's because people tend to give pink gifts to girls so that's one colour she's seen a lot of, since her early days. No wonder when we asked her to pick between the green and the pink scooters at the toy store, she picked pink. In general, I buy all sorts of colours for her, but I don't force her to pick non-pink stuff, if that's what she wants.

She got two doll sets on her birthday, so I merged both and made a whole family out of them. There's Felix and Fiona, and because Xena insisted that they were both 6 months old, I had to explain to her that though they are twins, because Felix doesn't eat much, he's much smaller than Fiona. Xena loves them to bits and every time she sits down to play, she uses her stethoscope to check their breathing, gives them their medicine, makes them poop, bathes them, and dresses them up.

When I asked her what she was doing, she said, "I'm giving the baby some medicine. Please don't disturb me." 

Recently, we even had an almost-scandal, involving Felix.
Xena - Mama, where is Felix?
Me - I don't know. Why don't you look around for him?
A few minutes later, she rushes over to me.
Xena - Mama!! I found Felix!!
Me - Good. Where did you find him?
Xena - I found him in the bathtub with Angelina!!
(Relax, bewdas. Angelina is Felix's bath ducky.)

Though she still doesn't watch any TV, she knows a few cartoon characters by name because of books and merchandise. Mickey mouse, Minnie mouse, Winnie the pooh, Hello Kitty, Dora, etc. I'm familiar with some of the characters, but not those in the new cartoons and movies. Sometimes she points to cartoon characters in the newspapers and asks me who they are and almost always, I have no idea. Her all-time favourite character is still Hello Kitty and now she has two pairs of Hello Kitty footwear, three Hello Kitty tops, a Hello Kitty scooter, a Hello Kitty toy camera, and loads of Hello Kitty plates and cutlery (anything to get her to eat!). She's even given all of us Hello Kitty names. She calls Viv Poppy Kitty and me Mama Kitty.

Speaking of cartoon characters, Viv had gone to Sri Lanka for a cricket tournament and came back armed with Mickey Mouse slippers for her. Here's a video of her talking about it, and also describing how a washing machine works.

We read lots of books together, and now she's making attempts to identify simple words, and even use a bit of phonics to read. I go to the library every fortnight to refresh her book collection. Being surrounded by books has also made her very creative and imaginative. Once I was reading the story of Dilly duckling to her. Dilly duckling was very upset about losing a feather until her mother told her that her downy yellow feathers would all go one day and she would become a white duck too. Xena later recounted the story to me and in her version, Dilly duckling relentlessly searched for the lost feather, found it and stuck it back on herself... using scotch tape!

Her speech is a lot more refined now, and she's stopped mispronouncing many words, which is nice but also makes Viv and me nostalgic about the days when she couldn't say them properly. She's now able to say 'r' quite clearly, and I am reminded of this incident from the time she couldn't. We were taking a walk when she came across a root sticking out of the ground. "Go over it, baby." I told her. She did. The next time it happened, she turned to me and said, "Go over it, mommy." Except that back then she couldn't quite say 'r' yet, and said 'w' instead. So what she said sounded exactly like "Go, overweight mommy." I was, of course, horrified for a second, before realisation hit me.

Another reason why she doesn't put on much weight is that she uses up a lot of calories talking. (Yep, it's my theory.) Seriously, 3-year-olds talk non-stop all day long. Almost every minute of her awake time is spent talking. She has theories and opinions and what not. This video shows her advising people to close their mouths when they look up at a bird sitting on a tree.

Here are some other conversations we had recently:

Xena - I don't want to brush my teeth.
Me - If you don't brush your teeth, they will become...?
Xena - Dirty!
Me - Yes! And...?
Xena - Smelly!
Me - Yes!
Xena - Just like a garbage truck!!!!
Me - .....

Xena (trying to draw with a light pink crayon on dark brown paper) - Mama! It's not working!
Me - Why isn't it working?
Xena - I don't know...
Me - Think?
Xena (thinks) - Hmmm... There is no battery!

Xena (watching the rain) - Oh no, Mama!
Me - What happened?
Xena - It's raining! Poppy did not take an umbrella! How will he play cricket without the umbrella??

I recently attended the sports day in her school, and my camera almost made a tumble for the ground because the moment she spotted me, she forgot the rules of the game and headed straight for me! But she did make the basket in the end.

At the parent-teacher meeting last week, her teachers told me she likes music and art, and also telling her classmates off if they don't tidy up after playing. They have appointed her as the manager of the library corner in the classroom, and she makes sure that everyone puts the books back properly. Viv and I are both a little Monica about different things, and I think she might have inherited it.

Almost every day, we do some art activity at home, and she really enjoys it. Here she is, drawing a face.

Just like how Xena talks all the time, no matter what she's doing, I sing all the time, no matter what I'm doing. Yes, ours is a very noisy household, but Viv balances it out by being the silent one. (Or maybe, he's just not able to get a word in.)

If a song gets stuck in my head and I end up singing it all the time, she starts to pick it up after a day or two. This video has me teasing her by singing the lyrics of Sooha saaha wrong. She patiently corrects me thrice.

Viv and I don't really celebrate days like Valentine's day, Mother's day and Father's day, but the school makes a big deal of the latter two, so this time when Viv realised it was Mother's day, he had this conversation with her at breakfast, while I was in the shower.

Viv - We will get a gift for Mama today. Don't tell her, ok? It's a secret. Shhh...
Xena (nodding) - It's a secret. Shhh...
5 seconds later, as soon as I stepped out of the shower...
Xena - Mama! Poppy and I will get a gift for you today.
Viv - :|

After I was done laughing, I only had one thought -- may such transparency in communication extend to her teenage years and beyond!

Sunday, May 18, 2014


Yesterday, I laughed non-stop for 2.5 hours.

No, I was not watching Andaz Apna Apna or anything. I was just watching the man play dumb charades after a very long time. Viv and I are both DC buffs and used to be fierce competitors in the inter-hostel DC tournaments during our university days. For the record, I beat his ass in the last tournament we took part in. Now I just get my money's worth by sitting back and watching him mime. As some of you would know, he's a timeless man. As in, he has no sense of time when playing DC or pictionary. Those who have seen him in action would know how very entertaining it is to watch him mime a very simple thing using his extremely complicated thought process that leaves everyone baffled.

A few years ago, we had a chaat party at home, followed by DC using Hindi movie names. I gave him the word 'shagird'. He started showing a kid with glasses, a baby, a magic wand, a big guy, a motorcycle, a baby again, a motorcycle, a baby again and so on until everyone was totally lost. Later, when he explained himself, the guessers wanted to kill him. Apparently, he was trying to show Hagrid from Harry Potter and somehow from there he was going to move to Shagird (like... HOW??).

Yesterday, we had a small dinner party at home. After downing rounds of ginger tea, shikanji and pav bhaji, we decided that there were enough of us to play some games. My first suggestion was, of course, a very excited "CHARADES!" I'd missed playing it, and also, I really wanted to see if Viv's skills had rusted.

There were five of us so we couldn't really form teams. We decided to play it in our usual way -- one person gives another a movie title to mime, and the rest do the guessing. The mimer then gives the next person a movie title and so on.

Someone gave him a movie title with the word 'body'. Instead of pointing to his body like a regular-normal-sane-non-crazy-human-person, he decided to take a different route altogether. He showed the sign to switch language, switched to Tamil, pointed to his sister and flicked his hand dismissively, trying to show "po di". True story. I swear. How he intended to get to 'body' from 'po di' is anyone's guess.

I was waiting for my turn. I had the perfect movie for him. It was a very well-known one, with the simplest title ever, and I knew he was going to turn it into something out of this world. So I whispered the title in his ear and he got started.

First, he indicated to the guessers that it was a two-word title and that he was going to split up the first word. Then he pointed to his side. The guessers went through "this", "that", "there" before they got to "he". He indicated multiples and they guessed "they". He indicated that they had guessed correctly. He then moved on to the second part of the first word. He pointed an imaginary gun at them and they immediately guessed "gun". He then finished with a flourish, showing the victory sign.

The guessers looked totally lost but eventually they realised that he was showing '2', indicating a sequel. They just needed to figure out what on earth the first word was. Much as they tried to put together "they" and "gun", they couldn't come up with anything coherent. Being the only person in the know of what was going on in that genius brain, I just sat back and laughed and laughed and laughed. At one point, I did want to stand up and say "Oh, is it Devgn?" just to rain on his charade, but I resisted. He kept slamming his hands together asking them to put the two words together, but they seriously had no idea what the word was. Then, looking frustrated, he tried to show "give" and "take" and did some really weird dance-type moves which no one understood.

And then finally, somehow, someone got it.

The movie was 'Taken 2'.

Told ya.

1...2...3... say with me... "Heyyyyyy bhagwaaaaaaan!"

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Terrific trio

"I feel like watching an old Amitabh Bachchan movie," Viv said. I nearly fell off my chair.

You see, this kind of quote never originates from him. It usually originates from me and almost all my friends, but him craving an old Hindi movie? That was something. And that is why even though I am not an Amitabh Bachchan fan, I promptly dug up his old movies on YouTube. We settled on Amar Akbar Anthony and after putting Xena to bed, started watching.

Though I'd watched it countless times as a kid, I realised that I'd not really noticed a lot of things until this viewing. Especially the unintentionally funny things.

- The very first scene starts with Pran returning home from jail to find out that his wife has TB. That wife then goes through a LOT of stuff in the next 22 years, including losing her family and eyesight and then getting them all back, but never once is her TB mentioned again.

- Oh dear lord, did they really show the three brothers tandem-donating blood to their mother?

- I always thought Amar was the eldest, followed by Akbar and then Anthony. It turns out Akbar was the youngest. Why? I mean, even if they thought Rishi Kapoor was best suited for the role of Akbar and looked the youngest of the three, why didn't they name the movie Amar Anthony Akbar? Okay fine, it doesn't have the same ring and the title song would be totally ruined, but still, why? [Btw, Wikipedia tells me that in the Telugu remake it was Ram Robert Rahim and in the Malayalam remake it was John Jaffer Janardhanan.]

- The movie moves at such an incredibly fast pace that it's almost comical. Take the scene where the brothers get separated, for instance. Akbar's foster father doesn't even wait for 10 seconds for the parents of the abandoned kid to turn up; he just takes off with the kid!

- Anthony's foster father knew his mother was called Bharti and yet he brought him up as Anthony. However, Pran brought up Parveen Babi as a Christian knowing that she was Robert's daughter. Hmmmm.

- I'd forgotten who was cast opposite Vinod Khanna! I was shocked to see Shabana Azmi in yellow flared pants. I kind of expected someone like Bindiya Goswami or Zeenat Aman. But then after her 'rescue', Shabana went right back to her bharatiya nari avatar, appearing only in saris after that.

- All of Vinod Khanna's angry scenes start with his back to the camera and a sudden turnaround.

- In all his movies from that era, Amitabh Bachchan just has to find a statue of some god and start scolding him for the injustice he has suffered.

- Amar calls Nirupa Roy 'maa' or 'maaji' to her face, but when talking about her to Anthony he says, "Maine kal jis budhiya ko khoon diya tha..."

- I suppose Vinod Khanna was the Salman Khan of those days, huh? In both major fight scenes, his clothes come off. Well, he still had a vest on in the first one, and only one sleeve came off in the last fight, but still.

- The scene where two lamps travel from the eyes of the Sai Baba idol to Nirupa Roy's eyes, instantly restoring her eyesight, will possibly be one of the funniest in Bollywood history. And I just didn't get why she suddenly started crawling towards the idol after that. Woman, you can walk. You just got your eyesight back. Why on earth are you crawling?

- Vinod Khanna and Rishi Kapoor are such handsome men. Why why why oh why did they have those pencil-thin KL Saigal type moustaches?

- Everyone in the movie kept talking about the incident that happened 'baees saal pehle', but when Zeenat Aman calls Pran from the church phone, she says 'Pachees saal pehle'!

- Anthony's foster father died of a stab wound, but there was no sign of any blood on his white robes when Anthony found him.

- What on earth was Helen doing in the movie? And Pran just let her go into the lion's den to die?

- Parveen Babi was so so so gorgeous. Of course she was known to be one of the 'western' type Indian actresses, but I was impressed at the panache with which she spouted the unconventional dialogues given to her - bloody, none of your business, bastard, etc.

- Parveen Babi was always seen in typical Parveen Babi outfits, but I simply loved the practicality of the one they gave her in the chase scene. A thigh-slit long skirt, perfect for her date with Anthony, but with shorts underneath for still looking ladylike during the sudden and rapid running away from the bad guys.

- All the leading women in the movie have such glossy hair. In Amitabh Bachchan style, why, god, why? Yeh nainsaafi mere saath hi kyun?

- You gotta hand it to Pran for his preparedness and quick response time. He goes to visit his daughter, armed with a bottle of chloroform, simply sees some window blinds flicker and immediately deduces that the bodyguard has held her captive in that room and knocks him out with the chloroform.

- I literally burst out laughing when Nirupa Roy started knocking on the doors of the operating theatre asking the doctors to open the door so she could give the pooja ke phool to the patient in the middle of his surgery.

- The villain telling Neetu Singh - "Tum doctor ho na? Isko hosh mein lao!" was classic.

- Why on earth did snakes keep sprouting all over the place? At one point it felt like I was watching a nagin movie.

- Holy cow. Now Viv wants to teach Xena to say "You see the whole country of the system is juxtapositioned by the haemoglobin in the atmosphere, because you are a sophisticated rhetorician intoxicated with the exuberance of your own verbosity."

- The movie had every fathomable element of a masala movie - brothers separated in their childhood and reunited in adulthood, brought up under three separate religions, three heroes and three heroines, many villains who just happened to know one another, gold biscuits, murder, smuggling, jail, kidnapping, mother losing sight and randomly gaining it back, and what not. And I had totally forgotten about the villain's good-guy twin brother; I thought that had only happened in Andaz Apna Apna. And of course, the police arriving only in the last 30 seconds of the movie. This has to be the most masaledaar of all masala movies.

Feeling bored? Watch Amar Akbar Anthony. Aka entertainment entertainment entertainment.