Tuesday, December 25, 2012

'Tis the season to be jolly!

Merry Christmas, bewdas!

Time sure flies. The first pic is from yesterday, the second from last year's Christmas. :)

Friday, December 21, 2012

The warrior princess diaries - X

So I haven't posted in almost a month and the world is supposed to end today. So I have to post. Something. Just in case.

We had a great vacation in the US in Oct-Nov. Of course, we were really really nervous about how Xena would take to such a long flight. Before flying off, I had posted on my Facebook an apology in advance to all passengers travelling with us, warning them of the turbulence that was expected as we were going to unlease mini-typhoon Xena upon them. Well, our little typhoon was mostly well-behaved and the long flights were not much of an issue, but hurricane Sandy did slightly affect our holiday. A few of the flights got cancelled so we had to adjust our itinerary a bit, but overall, it was fabulous. Xena got to spend lots of time with her cousins, especially my sister's two kids. What amazed me most is that even almost two months after the end of the holiday, she remembers "didi" and "baby", and always asks me where they are. I tell her the truth. Didi and baby are sleeping. She must think she has Kumbhkarans for cousins because whenever she asks for them, they're sleeping.

Of course, I went camera-crazy when I was there because who knows, when the cousins will meet next! This is my absolute favourite photo of Xena and Aishu. It's a total coincidence that they have similar tops!

It was Xena's first time celebrating halloween. Well, our first time too. I had taken along a ballerina costume for her, but it was sooooo cold we piled on layers on her until you couldn't tell what she was supposed to be. She didn't seem happy about that (see photo below). Trick-or-treating was really fun. Of course, I confiscated all her candy. And ate it.

Though it got really cold sometimes, overall I loved the weather. The weather is one of my favourite things about the US. We really enjoyed the lovely fall colours.

We also managed to catch up with some very dear friends in New York. I miss them. Wish they lived closer to us!

Oh, 17 Nov was World Prematurity Day. I wouldn't even have known there was such a thing if I didn't have a little preemie warrior of my own. There's a prematurity awareness ribbon too, and I did up this photo to celebrate the incredible fighting spirit of the li'l warriors.

In other news, she's still rejecting all solid foods. If she had her way, she wouldn't even drink any milk. One would wonder where she gets all the energy for her monkeying around. I, for one, strongly believe that she photosynthesises. We have tried everything, offering her every possible kind of food (she rejected even Kitkat; who rejects Kitkat???), totally starving her till she asked for food/milk herself (she chose to remain hungry the entire day) and enticing her with cutesy food. I bought animal-shaped biscuits for her, and what did she do? She examined each biscuit, made the correct animal sound (moo, baa, woof woof, meow, oink, quack quack, etc.) and handed it back to me, expecting applause. And I just noticed two days ago that she has tiny biceps. Great. I am sure she got them from all her 'Talk to the hand' gestures whenever I offer her food.

Her doctor suggested that we put her in playschool to let peer pressure make her eat. We have actually noticed that she does eat a bit when other kids are eating. So we went to some eight preschools and have finally picked one. She starts in January. They gave us the smallest uniform size they had, and well, two of her can fit inside that.

I am excited about her starting school. So far it's just been her and me, and I wonder how she will cope in a drastically different environment. She's quite friendly and social, so I am sure she will adjust well. As long as she starts eating, I'll be happy.

She's been up to all sorts of mischief. And what's really hilarious is the way she tries to copy us (except when we're eating; she never copies that!). She saw me accidentally drop a spoon and say, "Uh oh." She flung her penguin soft toy with all her might across the room, looked at me and innocently said, "Uh oh?" She also loves to wipe spilled water for some reason. In fact, wiping is apparently so fun in a toddler's universe, she asks me for water, spills it on purpose and then gleefully wipes it. Oh, and looks at me expecting applause. (Yes, I oblige.) So yeah, making her wipe whatever she spills is not a deterrent at all.

I try to find something new to do with her every day. Sometimes totally random things. Like walking around with her standing on my toes. The first time I did that, she thoroughly enjoyed the joyride, and very graciously invited me to stand on her toes so she could return the favour! If only, baby!

I have also started her a bit on the alphabet and though she can say a few of the letters, 'W' is her absolute favourite. I'd have thought it was the hardest of all to pronounce, but she loves it so much, she spots it everywhere. Even upside down. Yesterday, she saw the 'M' of McDonald's and excitedly pointed and said "W!!!"

She has now mastered shapes and spots them everywhere. Even I hadn't noticed there were so many heart shapes around us. She has pointed out what she calls "aht!" to me on milk bottles, T-shirt labels, ice-cream tubs, newspapers, toy packaging, books, and what not. It's amazing to see the world from a toddler's perspective. Yes, darling, there is so much love all around. We grown-ups are just too self-involved to see it. But we're lucky that we have you, to point it out to us and remind us.

So yeah, if the world does end today, I will have no regrets. I am thankful for everyone and everything I have, and particularly my little one who shows me every day how funny and amazing everything is.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tech support system

It's been a while since I did one of these posts, but here it is, guest starring Xena's cousin (yep, he's Aishu's brother).

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

KJ wali movie

Ok, first things first. I was kinda sure that Student Of The Year would be a massive flop. Debut movie of two star kids (kids of David Dhawan and Mahesh Bhatt no less). The ingredients seemed perfect for a superdupermega flop. Think Saawariya. Think Sadiyaan. So when I found out that the movie was a big hit, I was curious. I also wanted to see what Karan Johar was upto, and whether his filmmaking style had changed at all. In all honesty, I had absolutely loved Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, and mostly liked Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (in spite of a very irritating Kajol) and Kal Ho Na Ho. It was only Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna which had shaken me to the core. How could KJ direct SUCH a terrible movie? I mean, when you go to watch a movie, you have to care for at least one of the characters, right? In KANK, I couldn't be bothered with any of the whiny lot (and I was shocked that SRK played such a whiny guy!), and I was kinda hoping everyone in the movie would die quickly so I could go home. My Name Is Khan didn't do much for me either. I felt sad. 

The main reason why I had liked KKHH was that it had made me laugh and it had made me cry. I cried when little Anjali got the word 'ma' in her extempore competition and SRK saved the day and said, "Lekin hamaare paas Papa hain, aur woh bhi kaafi acchhe hain." I cried when a heartbroken Anjali sang "Tujhe yaad na meri aayi" in the rain. I cried at the last scene, when SRK mimed 'I love you' to Kajol in her bridal dress. Ok, I may have also also cried a little bit at how insanely handsome Salman Khan looked in the song 'Saajanji ghar aaye'. Anyway, my point is -- it is not easy to make the audience cry. Crying for/with a fictional character had made me feel human, feel real. If I could cry for a fictional character, I was not dead on the inside. Phew. And at times, when I feel myself getting too cynical, I crave to experience that feeling. But somehow watching KKHH on DVD is not the same as when I had watched it in the theatre. Maybe it's just a certain age and stage in your life that such movies move you the most. 

It had been a while since my Bollywood buddy Starbreez and I had watched a movie together. So I took the holy name of KJ and convinced her to go with me. What about Xena, you ask? Viv and I have a new arrangement. He watches English movies, while I watch Xena, and I watch Hindi movies when he watches her. It works great, because if we really like something, we recommend it to each other and then find other friends to watch it with. I think it will be a while before he and I can watch a movie together.

Okay, first things first. The story. It was definitely weaker than KJ's usual stuff, and at one point just seemed like a day-to-day account of college. Even the competition, which is the central theme of the movie, kinda seemed silly with  a kiddish treasure hunt, and boys and girls in the same swimming competition. Just when I tried to justify it as Bollywood fluff, it was addressed towards the end of the movie. That took me by surprise.

The actors. Okay, I SO did not see that coming. These kids can act. Well, they're not great actors, but I expected them to be really really bad. I was glad to be proven wrong, for all three have made confident debuts. Kudos to KJ for moving away from his bag of established stars and putting his faith in total newcomers (star kids of all actors!) for his directorial comeback.

I started off with a softer spot for Varun Dhawan over Sidharth Malhotra. Because you know, Varun is better looking. But as the movie progressed, Sid also grew on me, and by the end of the movie, I actually liked both of them equally. But I will still maintain one thing. Varun is better looking. And oh, he's a great dancer. Alia Bhatt is very very cute. Flawless skin, symmetric features, nice hair, cute dimples, beautiful smile. And boy, can she pull off red lipstick. By red, I mean RED. And just when you dismiss her as just a doll, you realise she's not too bad as an actress.

In several places, the movie reminded me of Dil Chahta Hai (friends falling out over girl issues, reminiscing and meeting in a hospital) and Jaane Tu (story related by a gang of friends).

The movie was light and breezy and funny in places. I remember laughing at a number of scenes in the movie, but strangely, I couldn't remember any of them by the time I came home. The only one I remembered was the next day, and it was "Bas bolna tha - Be Punjabi!"

I don't know why KJ likes to rope in Kajol for guest appearances in his movies. There she was, appearing out of nowhere in the Disco Deewane song. Frankly speaking, she looked awkward and totally out of place. Kajol fans are now going to throw their hands up and close the browser. I'm sorry. I used to like her at one point. I really did.

I loved the songs a lot more after watching the movie. But, I still can't get over the idiotic lyrics in Ishq wala love. Oh, did anyone else mishear 'Waise wala love' as 'Paise wala love?' I really really wish it had nice dreamy lyrics that justified the Kashmir backdrop. Who takes the cast and crew to snowy mountains to shoot something called 'Ishq wala love'??? 

Bollywood has progressed so much, but one thing will never change. Songs shot in the snow will ALWAYS have the hero nicely bundled up in layers and layers of sweaters and scarves, but the heroine will always be in a translucent chiffon sari and sleeveless blouse, or a sleeveless short dress. Sigh. If you look carefully, at one point, you will see poor Alia literally shiver as she lip syncs the song.

Rishi Kapoor got a lot of rave reviews for his portrayal as the gay dean, but I thought he was ok. I was just glad they didn't make him over-the-top gay, like they do in a lot of movies.

Ram Kapoor. Ronit Roy. Gautami. What's with all the TV stars in the movie? KJ showing loyalty to his friend Ekta Kapoor? But they were all well suited to their roles, so no complaints. 

Overall, the movie was watchable. I did not enjoy it as much as the two obnoxious teenagers sitting next to me and saying the dialogues ahead of time. Of course, I found it really silly that for someone who has obviously watched the movie, they put their hands together and fervently chanted "Come on, Abhi! Come on, Abhi!" during the race. Sheesh.

The best moment in the movie for me was the scene during Rohan's brother's wedding, with just instrumental music playing in the background as the characters interacted with one another without saying a single word. Beautifully done, and reminiscent of KJ's old signature style. 

PS: I just realised that if I wasn't so mad at the chap who plagiarised my emoji posts, this would be my third consecutive post on Student Of The Year!

Friday, November 09, 2012

Emoti(c)onal abuse

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

But not when the imitator puts his frickin' watermark on your work.

We got back from our US holiday on Tuesday, and I found several emails and messages from the bar's bewdas about content from my emoji pictionary posts (particularly this one) being spread on FB pages without any credit given.

Those who have followed and played the emoji posts would know that idea of using emoji icons to play pictionary came from my friend Pizzadude and I have since posted several such posts on my blog.

The first page I was informed about was the ROFLIndia Facebook page with the following post:

As you can see, ten songs have been featured using emoji icons and the post has 1,555 likes, 1,450 comments and 3,261 shares as of now. Hell, it even has a watermark. Great.

Here are the relevant posts from our blogs where the ten songs have been taken from.
Songs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 10 are from this post on my blog.
Songs 6 and 7 are from this post on my blog.
Songs 8 and 9 are from this post on Pizzadude's blog.

Over the last few days, it has been shared again and again on different FB pages. Here are just some which were sent to me by the bar's bewdas:

https://www.facebook.com/SocialKonnekt (link to post)
https://www.facebook.com/page4bollywood?fref=ts (link to post)
https://www.facebook.com/SrikanthGopisetty (link to post)

Each of these pages have hundreds of shares, likes and comments.

UPDATE (11 Nov 2012): Kanan has sent me yet another post on the ROFLIndia FB page!

Every single song featured in this has been lifted off this post on my blog.

I wrote to ROFLIndia.com to complain (since they seem to have an actual website in addition to an FB page), and to ask them to either give us credit, or remove the plagiarised post from their Facebook page. Of course, I have not received any response.

I have checked up Facebook's copyright infringement policy on this, and I don't think they will be able to verify page by page and remove the content. Some of you suggested that I should at least write a post on it and so I did.

Many thanks to all of the bewdas who took the time to write to me about it. Not only does it show that you care, it also affirms the fact that this is truly an infringement and not just my imagination. While I am not implying that no one else could have thought of the same idea of playing pictionary with emoji icons, I am sure you would agree that the fact that each of the songs in the Facebook post and the icons used to represent them are the same as those on our blogs is indeed remarkable. And so is the fact that there is not a single song on the Facebook post that has not appeared on our blogs. That's too much of a coincidence. What, they couldn't come up with even a single one themselves?

Of course, it's not like I was going to make a book out of my posts. The posts were written in fun, and were indeed meant to be shared and enjoyed by Bollywood fans. What bugs me is the fact that it was so shamelessly copied without any credit given to us.

Even if they didn't want to bother asking us for permission, how hard is it to put a little credit line at the bottom?

I probably can't blame the subsequent 'copiers' and 'sharers' as they probably didn't know it was stolen content, but to the first person who copied it off my blog (and is probably and hopefully reading this), I send you a thousand e-curses.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Trophy with Karan

So 'Student of the year' is a hit.



Ok, I know I'd said I'd do an SSSK post if the movie bombed, but SSSK also needs to pay her bills and sometimes has to write about hit movies too. So there.


It's the 'Student of the year' success party in Karan Johar's sprawling lawn. Sayesha Smitten Showbiz Kitten (SSSK) has managed to sneak in, even though she doesn't have an invite.

She hides behind bushes and shrubs to eavesdrop on the attendees. She spots the lead duo Varun Dhawan and Siddharth Malhotra, getting drunk in a corner.

Siddharth - Abbe Varun, woh dekh! Siddharth Mallya is here.

Varun - So?

Siddharth - Man... I've always been so jealous of him. Saala kitna ameer hai! Meri toh shakal par hi likha hai - gareeb insaan. No wonder even in the movie, I was cast as one.

Varun - Big deal yaar... Tu bhi rich ho jaayega... After a few movies...

Siddharth - But yeh toh paida hote hi rich tha! I mean, hum dono ke naam kitne similar hai, lekin kismat kitne alag hain. Siddharth Malhotra. Siddharth Mallya. Bas end different hai. Hotra. Llya. Damnit.

Alia Bhatt walks in.

Alia - Hey guys, what's up?

Varun - Kuchh nahin yaar, Sid is drunk and senti...

Sid - Hotra. Llya. Hotra. Llya.

Varun - Shut up yaar. Hotrallya hotrallya. Sounds like mootralaya!

The guys double up in laughter. Alia looks puzzled.

Alia - What is mootralaya??

Varun - Soch, Alia...

Sid - Shauchalaya?

Both of them double up in laughter again.

Alia - What is shauchalaya now??

Varun - Kuch kuch hota hai, Alia. Tum nahin samjhogi. It's toilet humour.

Alia - You guys are soooo drunk. Do you have nothing better to talk about?

Varun - Of course we do. We were thinking of hooking you up with Siddharth Mallya.

Alia - Huh??

Sid - Yes, if you get married to him, you will be Alia Mallya.

Both guys guffaw again. Alia gives them a dirty look.

Varun - And you should have two kids, and name the boy Kalia and the girl Dahlia.

The guys are literally on the floor, laughing away.

Alia - Can't believe I had to pretend to be in love with you dorks. They should give me a national award.

Alia makes a disgusted expression and walks off.

SSSK spots Ram Kapoor and Ronit Roy.

SSSK - Ram, Ronit, question for you. You guys are very successful tv soap stars who are now seen a lot in movies. Compared to your saas-bahu backgrounds, what do you about to say about your renewed success?

Ronit (a little high) - Hmmm... Renewed success... Ah... SSSK my dear, you forget something. Suc-saas bhi kabhi bahu thi.

Ram Kapoor (also high) nods violently.

SSSK - Uh... okayyyy... Excuse me, gentlemen...

SSSK spots Rishi and Neetu Kapoor.

SSSK - Rishiji, Rishiji! I'm SSSK, I've interviewed you before.

Rishi - Ah yes, I remember.

SSSK - You're doing so well in the second innings of your career. Whom do you give the credit to? Is it Neetuji's undying support?

Neetu Kapoor beams.

Rishi - No. All credit goes to Sonam Kapoor and Deepika Padukone.

SSSK & Neetu - HUH?!

Rishi - You see, after they made those derogatory remarks about Ranbir on Koffee with Karan, I got really mad at him, and he got really apologetic and to make up, he's been signing me in all his movies since. So yeah, all credit to Sonam and Deepika.

Neetu - Ghar chalo. Abhi.

Rishi and Neetu leave.

SSSK looks for Alia and finds her, fiddling with her phone and looking bored.

SSSK - Hi, Alia!

Alia - OMG you.

She has obviously not forgotten the first time she had met SSSK.

SSSK - I'm a reporter. Can I ask you a few questions?

Alia - Uhhhh... Ok. Since everyone else is busy interviewing the two guys...

SSSK - So tell me about the Radha song. I mean, it starts off like a regular Radha song... You know, panghat and all... And then suddenly "Radha wants to party and move her sexy body"???? How do you think Radha-Krishna devotees will take to this?

Alia is horrified. She has not been trained to answer tough questions like this. She hurriedly looks around and beckons her dad. Mahesh Bhatt quickly walks over.

SSSK repeats her question.

Mahesh - Look, this song is about women's liberation. All these years, we have seen the same kind of Radha songs. Radha sitting in a pond and lamenting about how the natkhat kanhaiya stole her clothes while she was bathing, and how she can't come out now because he's perched on a tree with her clothes.

SSSK nods vigorously. She always approves of any perching on trees.

Mahesh - Well, enough is enough. Radha's not gonna sit there anymore and catch a cold. Clothes or no clothes, she's just gonna step out and show off the sexy Radha body and go party. It's time for her to scandalize the natkhat kanhaiya until he says, "Bas kar, meri ma(mi), ye le apne kapde!"

SSSK - Hmmm... Alia, what do you think about all this?

Alia (taken aback) - Ummmm... I think... If uh... Anarkali can leave apne saajan Salim ki gali and disco chali, Radha can go party too? (looks at Mahesh Bhatt for approval, who nods, and then whisks his daughter away)

SSSK finds Karan Johar, looking smug and pouting.

SSSK - Hey Karan, I'm SSSK. Reporter for The Akh-bar. Could I have a short interview, please?

Karan (pouts) - Sure.

SSSK - I read that you came up with the words 'Ishq wala love' lyrics. What's up with that? What on earth is ishq wala love??

Karan- Oh God, I'm so sick of answering this question! Varun! Siddharth!!

Varun and Siddharth hop over. Alia also joins them.

Karan - Guys, that irritating question is back. You please answer it this time.

Varun - Hmmm... Ok, Here goes. You see, love is of different types.

Siddarth - Like... You know... You love your girlfriend and your doggy in different ways.

SSSK - So you wanted to be specific that your love for Alia's character is ishq wala love, so that the audience doesn't think it's doggy wala love?

There is complete silence for a few seconds. Alia looks disgusted again.

Varun - Well, you know... It's like this... Parents ke liye we have respect wala love...

David Dhawan suddenly appears.

David (to Varun) - Parents ke liye respect ki toh baat hi mat kar tu! Agar mere liye thoda bhi respect hota toh tu mere banner ke under launch hota!

Varun - Papa, please! I didn't wanna be just another star kid who debuts under his dad's banner.

David - Hmmmph! Mere saath debut karta toh picture aur bhi badi hit hoti. At least title ke liye mera suggestion le liya hota...

Varun - Dad, please. 'Student number one'??? Can you please get over your number one wala hangover? That was the 90s and it only worked for Govinda movies.

David - What?! Aaj bhi movies mein number one chalta hai, and it's not just Govinda movies ok? Big superstars also use it ok?

Varun - Like who?

David - Ummm... Like SRK's RA-ONE and Salman's ONE-ted. And Aamir's...

Varun - Yeah? Aamir's?

David - Uh.... Aamir's ONE+ONE+ONE idiots. There!

Varun thunks his head on the bottle of beer he's holding.

David - And all of those movies were huge hits.

Varun - Please. RA-ONE wasn't.

David - That's only because SRK didn't take my suggestion of changing it to 'RA number One'.

Varun - Papa, this movie is a hit na, phir kya problem hai??

David - Arre, reviews are saying all three of you are superstar material. I would have made you the only superstar. Varun Dha-ONE! Dha-ONE and only!

Varun thunks his head again.

David - I even had a title song ready! Wanna hear?

Varun - God, no!

David starts singing.

Main toh college mein padh raha tha
Main toh classes mein sadh raha tha
Main toh Siddharth se ladh raha tha
College mein padh raha, classes mein sadh raha tha, Siddharth se ladh raha tha!
Mujhko prize na mila toh main kya karoon?

Main toh books ko phaad raha tha
Main toh Alia ko taad raha tha
Main toh handpump ukhaad raha tha
Books ko phaad raha tha, Alia ko taad raha tha, handpump ukhaad raha tha!
Mujhko prize na mila toh main kya karoon?

Varun looks at Siddharth in despair. They let David continue his song, and disappear from the scene, singing "Khisko, deewane..."

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Gana wala song

When I heard the song 'Ishq wala love' from the upcoming KJ movie 'Student of the year', my first reaction was... "WHAT THE...?!" Then I calmed down and said in a more dignified manner, "Oh, what a nice tune. Ruined by atrocious lyrics." Ok, at least they didn't make Himesh sing it. He would have changed it to "Oooooo....Ishqqq walalalalalalalalalalalalala sonnnnnggggggg!"

Anyway, I came across this spoof of the song which I wanted to share with the bewdas. Though the singing in this version is not great (it's quite bad actually), the lyrics are way better than the original. Enjoy! (Please watch the original first, if you already haven't.)

PS: If the movie bombs, I'll do an SSSK post on it. Pakka.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The warrior princess diaries - IX

Okay, so I always start these posts with updates from Xena's hospital visits so I can get the unpleasant stuff out of the way and move on to the really fun stuff. However, this time, the hospital news is the best news. The hole in Xena's heart, which had not closed at her last scan, has now closed by itself, so she won't be needing any surgery. I don't think blogger has the font size that I want to write this in, so I will just use the regular font size, borrow Gogoji's ghaghra, and dance to 'DHAKKI TIKI DHAKKI TIKI DHAKKI TIKI!' Though she still has about 7 more years of follow-up at the hospital, this had been one of the more serious issues. With this out of the way, I can now focus on my research paper titled 'Human photosynthesis -- How Xena gets all her energy without eating anything'. This research paper also features poetry, and below is a sample I wrote on Xena's behalf, while Viv was away on work in Paris: 

Papa, I think you should come back soon
Mama's going all crazy and hyper
She says if I refuse another meal
She'll refuse to change my diaper!

To be fair to her, I won't say that she doesn't eat anything willingly. She does eat some things. All her toys for instance. She has tried to, at some point or the other, devour all of her toys, be it plastic, cardboard, rubber or fabric. To the point that I have to classify the toys and voluntarily hand her select items. One day, I actually found myself saying these exact words, "Baby!!! Don't chew on the book! Cardboard is not edible! Here, take this plastic duck instead." (Yep, I'm wondering the same thing as you. They actually let me write science books for children??)

On the advice of many parents, I decided to try out some iPad apps to persuade her to eat. So I enter a search for this app called 'Babycards' and the app store, perhaps familiar with the plight of several such exasperated parents, asks me, "Did you mean Bacardi?" Sure, I thought. It may not help her with her eating, but it might just help me with her non-eating.

Speaking of apps, you know how babies these days are born with the ability to proficiently use Apple products? Mine is one of them, and one of her favourite activities is quitting apps on the iPad. And how. She actually says "Buh-bye!" to the apps as she quits them. I think she is ready to be the new ambassador for Singapore's courtesy campaign. (Yes, we have a courtesy campaign in our country. We are very very rude as a people.) We also have a kindness movement, a clean public toilets campaign, a speak good English campaign, and a 'Folks, please be patriotic and have more babies for the country' campaign. I swear I did not make any of that stuff up. If you don't believe me, ask google.

Anyway, going back to Xena and phones, I was puzzling over why my phone's dictionary was not allowing even simple words when I realized that she had secretly changed the dictionary language to Malay! I think I should get a 'Bahaya! Jangan dekat!' ("Danger! Keep Out!" a sign often seen at construction sites) wallpaper to keep her away from my phone.

It's not just my phone that needs that sign. Xena can't stay in one place for more than 7 seconds. She wants to go everywhere. Except the kitchen. I don't even have a safety gate for my kitchen because for some strange reason, she never steps inside. Maybe she knows that her greatest enemy lurks there -- FOOD. And because she photosynthesises to get energy, she believes that the rest of us do too, and hence she does all she can to prevent us from eating anything in any restaurant we go to. I was extremely impressed with the staff at Indian Wok though. The wait staff realised that there was no way Viv and I could eat in peace because Xena wanted to go here, there and everywhere. And so they took turns to carry her and play with her, while we managed to have an actual mealtime conversation after ages. At one point, they even took her inside the kitchen, presumably to meet the chef, who I hope told her that food is not as evil as she thinks it is.

A few years ago, I would look at such 'unruly toddlers', shake my then judgemental head and say, "Look at that toddler walking all over the restaurant! Sheesh. I mean, how hard is it for the parents to keep their kid in one place??" Now I shake all over. With laughter. At the thought of anyone thinking that a toddler can be made to stay in one place.

Of course, her extreme mobility has its advantages too. I can eat all the junk food I want and not gain a single gram. In fact, Viv and I were talking about the Insanity Workout package some of the guys at cricket were using, and it suddenly hit me -- I should market and sell my own Insanity workout package. It will be a set of 11 DVDs featuring me chasing Xena around. Cheap. Effective.

And when I'm tired of chasing her around, I simply praise the malls for having these things.

The photo below was taken today. She's wearing a traditional Maharashtrian outfit that Viv's aunt gave her. Anyone knows the name of the outfit? I'm tempted to say the generic "Lehenga choli" but I bet it has a more specific name.

Lastly, wish us lots of luck as we embark on her first flight to the US next week. We have been meaning to do this trip for a while now, as I haven't seen my sister in years, and Xena hasn't seen her cousins, umm... ever. I'm not yet excited. I will only be excited after the most challenging part is over -- the flight and keeping Xena entertained on it. True, she has done Singapore-Perth, but back then, she was only 8 months old, didn't walk around, slept a lot, and didn't expect entertainment. Singapore-New York will be something. Any tips on preserving the sanity of the unsuspecting passengers and cabin crew we're going to unleash her upon?

Saturday, September 29, 2012


When you've lived 14 years in a country like Singapore, you get used to a certain (read alarmingly high) level of efficiency. It's so very different from the Indian way of doing things, aka the adjust maadi and chalta hai yaar way. I try not to be too cynical of the Indian way because it's great at times, but it does piss me off when Indian organisations operating here make no effort to catch up in terms of efficiency. It bugs me more because when non-Indians complain about such things, I feel like I should rise to the defense but I really have no case.

For some stuff in life, you have alternatives. But for others, you don't. Atta is top of the list. I don't have any source of atta around where I live and so we have to make that trip to Little India once in a few months to lug back atta, rajma, paneer and masalas. All that changed when I came across a website for ordering all the Indian groceries I wanted and more! I could not believe my eyes. Here, in front of me, was a seemingly functional website, where I could just click on the items I wanted and they would deliver it to my doorstop. Like real. (You will understand my amazement when I tell you that recently we ordered dinner using the website of a very popular Indian restaurant, and in spite of getting a confirmation SMS and an email, the food did not arrive. When we called, we were told that their records did not show any order. If these guys ran Pizza Hut or McDonalds, it would shut down within the hour.)

So with trembling fingers, and a heart that was beating fast with a mixture of hope and amazement, I placed the order (minimum $80 for free delivery). I received the confirmation email that the delivery would be made the next day, but from my experience with such emails, they don't mean anything in the Indian world. Add to the fact that the payment terms were cash or cheque upon delivery, I had little hope of the stuff making it to my doorstep. Ever.

The next morning, I received a call from them to tell me that they would deliver within the next hour or so.

[So the website was functional! 10 points!]

Frankly speaking, I'd had no hope, so I'd been out with Xena, lunching with a few friends when they called. I told them that I might not be home so fast and asked them if they could deliver a little later. They said their delivery zones and timings were fixed and asked me if it was safe to keep the stuff outside my door if I was not at home. I said ok, and only after hanging up did I realise that we had not discussed how I would pay them if they simply left the stuff outside my door.

[So they trusted the customer to make the payment later? Wow. 10 points!]

Anyway, I managed to be home by the time they said they'd deliver.

[They delivered on time! 10 points!]

After the delivery guy left, I checked the items and realised there was a mistake with the most critical item of all -- my precious atta!

[Wrong item delivered! Minus 20 points!]

So I called up their customer service hotline.

[No annoying automated service! No annoying music! A live human picked up! Within two rings! 40 points!]

"Hi, I'd ordered Pillsbury atta but some Aashirwad atta was delivered to me instead."

"You don't want the Aashirwad atta?"

[Duh! For annoying an already annoyed customer, minus 10 points!]

"No, I want my Pillsbury atta."

"You want your Pillsbury atta... Hmmm... Ok ma'am, we will make the replacement delivery on Thursday."

"Great, thanks!"

[No one came on Thursday. Minus 20 points.]

I called them on Friday. The hotline rerouted to some mobile number and the guy told me he was outside and would call me back within half an hour.

[Two hours. Nobody called. Minus 20 points.]

I was beginning to get really annoyed. The 5-kg bag of Aashirwad atta was lying on the kitchen counter, mocking me. Saying "Use me!"

I called the hotline again.

"Hi, this is about the atta exchange. You said you'd call me back in half an hour. It's been almost two hours and I didn't get any call."

There was a pause and then he spoke. His exact words were (I kid you not):

"Oh. Ma'am, I was just thinking about you."

[Ok fine, 10 points for the originality of the excuse and another 10 for making me laugh out loud.]

Thursday, September 27, 2012

You gotta hand it to him

So Viv is describing someone to me, and this is how he does it. His exact words, ok?

"She had two kids. An older girl and a handheld."

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The warrior princess diaries - VIII

The bar may have been silent for a while, but Xena has not. She is now saying actual words, which is totally awesome, and I have been busier than usual because I'm trying to teach her life-altering words like "Shah Rukh". (I'm not kidding, scroll down to see video). Ok, so here are the latest updates on the warrior princess.

For once, I have no hospital updates. There have been no hospital visits recently (touchwood) and her heart scan is in October.

In my last post about her, I had talked about some of the difficulties I was facing with her feeding, a.k.a she does not want to eat. Anything. At all. Things are a little better now. For a baby who only started eating solids at 15 months, I must say it's a milestone that she is now able to eat tiny pieces of cheese. However, the actual mealtimes are still battles, and she needs a lot of distraction while I feed her. Not ideal, but at least I haven't resorted to turning on the TV yet. And the other day, I actually managed to feed her some spinach-infested porridge!!!!! Dhakki tiki! Dhakki tiki! (And yes, my choice of words does convey my own true feelings towards spinach. And its hara-bhara khandaan in general.)

If I ever bump into Shah Rukh Khan, I will thank him for being responsible for at least one of the three meals that I attempt to feed her every day. You see, while I feed her, I let her browse through this old issue of Filmfare that has him on the cover. The first time I showed it to her, I said, "Look, Shah Rukh Uncle!" She said "Tah Tuk!" I believe she probably knows he was Datuk'ed by Malaysia! Aakhir beti kiski hai!

And here she is, saying "Shah Rukh" (or her version of it)

I got my first ever gift from Xena -- a dried leaf she picked up during our evening walk. I almost choked. No, not on tears of joy or anything. I meant literally. Because she tried to feed it to me. :/

She finally has a favourite toy, and to my utter delight, it's a Dr. Atom puppet! Dr. Atom is a character in a series of science books, and a science magazine that I write for. She loves the toy so much, some mornings she wakes up and the first words she says are 'Dottoh dottoh?'

That's Dr. Atom!

Here's her looking high and low for him, and then gesturing to say that she can't find him.

Speaking of waking up in the mornings, there is no feeling more powerful than being woken up in the morning by your baby. Especially when she uses a roundhouse kick aimed at your face to do it. (She absolutely refuses to sleep in her cot anymore.)

Like all babies of this generation, Xena is extremely tech-savvy. I wonder if even Apple is aware of some of the iPhone features that she has discovered and demonstrated to us. Example: She zoomed Viv's wallpaper picture so much that all the icons were not visible anymore. Believe me, we had to turn to google to find out and undo what she had done (triple-tapped the main screen).

So she has started talking a lot more. She can say "Mama", "Papa", "ball", "bus", "bird", "book" (actually to an outsider they call sound like "buh", but only I know which one she means), "cracker" ("tater"), "wow", and many more. One of her favourite words to say is "cow", which she likes to randomly say, often leading to embarrassing situations (for me). Like yesterday, when we were strolling at the beach, and she pointed at this jogger and loudly said, "COW!" The jogger looked slightly offended and started running even faster before I had a chance to convince her that Xena had not called her fat.

She said her first three-syllable word this week, and it was "banana" (or rather "badada", because she has a cold).

The following pictures are of her acting all stylo:

It was Viv's bday on the 9th, and as usual, he was away in Amsterdam to have hashbrownies for an annual conference (on hashbrownies). So I did up this collage of her playing a birthday song for him.

Great mommy, huh? Well, not all the time. Last week, she fell headfirst into a hamper full of soft toys (phew!) with only her legs sticking out. I was actually tempted to take a picture of the comical sight before rescuing her. Hmmm. On the evil mommy scale of 1 to 10, I think I might be a 25.

I end this post with her newest video, where she identifies and passes to me 8 of her toys on demand. Yep, proud moment for mommy. :)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The un-Saif decision

SSSK is sittin' in a tree

Sayesha Smitten Showbiz Kitten is perched on a tree outside Saif Ali Khan's house, furiously taking notes on her notepad. He is having a discussion with his wedding planner when a furious Kareena walks in.

Kareena - Saif! Yeh shaadi nahin ho sakti!

Saif - Huh? Kyun itna ghisa-pita dialogue bol rahi ho?

Kareena - Dialogue nahin, sach hai. I can't get married to you.

Saif - WHAT?! Why not??

Kareena - Uhhh... I think... uhhh... that you're not mature enough...

Saif - *I* am not mature enough? I am forty-frickin'-two. I have been married once. I have two kids. Hello, maturity??

Kareena - No, I mean... you are... uhhh... always making juvenile remarks.

Saif - What? That's not true! Ok, give me an example.

Kareena - Fine. Every time you see Shahid, you look up at the sky and say "Mausam kharab hai." Can you stop doing that? Bahut cheap lagta hai!

Saif - Well, I'm not the only one taking pot shots at the competitor's flops. He does it too! He said to me that we had zero onscreen chemistry in Agent Vinod and to get the chemistry in, we should remake it and call it Reagent Vinod!

Kareena (rolls her eyes) - Gawwwwd! SAIF!!! Don't you see it?? That's why I broke up with him! Can you please behave your age at least??

Saif - Ok fine, I will. But tell me the real reason why you want to call off the wedding. Aakhir kyun??

Kareena - Kyunki... Kyunki... Main Heroine hoon!

Saif - Toh? Main bhi toh hero hoon!

Kareena - No, I mean I'm playing the title role in the movie Heroine. It's going to be a big hit and I will become a bigger heroine than ever before. Everyone will want to sign me! But if I get married, that will be the end of my movie career!

Saif - What?? What nonsense theory is that?

Kareena - It's true! Hero ke baad Jackie Shroff became an even bigger hero. Hero no. 1 ke baad Govinda became an even bigger hero! Heroine ke baad I'll also become an even bigger heroine.

Saif - That's rubbish. Coolie no. 1 ke baad Govinda became an even bigger coolie kya? (guffaws at his own joke)

Kareena (irritated) - Offo! You know what I mean, Saif!

Saif - No, I don't! All preparations are done and now you want to back out? Let me call Karisma Di, she will talk sense into your head!

Kareena walks off in a huff.

Very soon, a whole bunch of actresses turn up at Kareena's house, armed with banners that say, "Kareena, tum shaadi karo, hum tumhaare saath hain!" They enter Saif's living room and wait around for Kareena.

SSSK quickly climbs down and enters the room along with the crowd. She is thrilled to find Sunny Leone in a corner of the room. She needs to verify some stuff.

SSSK - Sunny, hi! So is it true that you asked Pooja Bhatt for your male co-actors' health certificates to prove that they had no STDs before starting to shoot for Jism 2?

Sunny - Haanji.

SSSK - And then what happened?

Sunny - Well, Pooja said that things work differently in this industry, and that it would all be just acting. I wouldn't actually need to DO anything that would... ummm... warrant a certificate.

SSSK - Oh ok. And how did your co-actors react to that?

Sunny - Woh dono boley, "DAMN YOU, POOJA."

SSSK - I see, I see. I also see that your Hindi is getting better. So what brings you here?

Sunny (starts off speaking in Hindi and then gives up midway) - Main yahan aayi haigi kyunki... main cause ke towards solidarity dikhaani hai. After all, I'm like the only Bollywood heroine who made her debut AFTER she was married, yeah?

SSSK - Hmmm... I never thought of that... But then, your first film Jism 2 was a miserable flop. How will that help convince Kareena that married heroines can also have hit movies?

Sunny - Errr... uhhh... I have other offers. I am sure they will be superhits.

SSSK - Achha what other offers do you have?

Sunny - Erm, Mithunda has cast me in a movie that will launch his son Mimoh...

SSSK - Erm, didn't Mithunda like already launch him twice, once as Mimoh and once as Mahakshay?

Twinkle Khanna (suddenly appears, speaks and disappears) - Maha Akshay. Oh please. Like that would make him a bigger superstar than my Akshay...

Sunny - Maybe third time lucky haiga?

SSSK - Hmmm, maybe. So what's the movie called?

Sunny - Finding Mimoh.

SSSK is not sure if she wants to laugh or cry so she pretends to have spotted someone and excuses herself. She wanders off and bumps into someone she doesn't recognise.

SSSK - Hi, I'm SSSK. Reporter. You are...?

Poonam - Hello?! I'm Poonam Pandey!

SSSK - OHHH! Our own OCS! Sorry, I didn't recognise you in all these clothes.

Poonam - Well, even I wanted to strip to show my support for Kareena, but then I thought shaadi-byaah ka maamla hai, toh thoda family-oriented hona chahiye... But yeh OCS kya hai? Outstandingly Courageous and Sexy?

SSSK - Errr... No, actually it's Obsessive Compulsive Stripper.

Poonam storms off.

SSSK looks around. Almost all the heroines are there - Priyanka Chopra, Katrina Kaif, Vidya Balan, Deepika Padukone, Anushka Sharma, Sonakshi Sinha and Sonam Kapoor. Behind them is a fleet of married actresses - Karisma Kapoor walks in, accompanied by Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Twinkle Khanna, Sridevi, Madhuri Dixit, Lara Dutta, Raveena Tandon and Juhi Chawla.

Kareena enters and looks around in shock.

Kareena - Saif, what's this? Yeh sab kya ho raha hai?

Karisma - Bebo, I called everyone and asked them to come with me so they can convince you that your career won't be over because of marriage.

Kareena - Didi, please. Look at the married ones! They are already standing in the back row! Their careers are over!

Aishwarya - Excuse me? Heroine ki heroine ke liye I was the first choice.

Kareena (nastily) - But what happened? You got pregnant and then got fat and now... Do you know that you're now being referred to in the industry as Gol Bachchan?

Aishwarya - I'm trying, I'm trying! What can I do? I can't help it. I'm enjoying food. I mean hood. Ummm... Mother-hood to be precise.

Lara (bitchily) - Oh please, that's such a lame excuse. Look at me. (twirls to show off her figure)

Kareena - Yeah so you're married and you have a kid and you're thin again. But do you have any movies??

Lara - Ummm...

Kareena - I rest my case.

Karisma - Arre, actresses can make great comebacks after marriage.

Kareena - Didi, please. What happened to your own great comeback 'Dangerous Risk'? Lived up to its name, didn't it??

Karisma (turns red) - Ahem, you mean 'Dangerous Ishq'.

Kareena - Same difference! You would have enjoyed a longer career if you'd stayed unmarried. You know it.

Karisma (starting to get upset) - That is not true. My career was not short because of marriage. My career was short because... because I found out about eyebrow threading too late!! (bursts into tears)

Juhi - Hey, I did a lot of movies after I got married.

Kareena - But I don't wanna do bhabhi type roles!

Madhuri - Kareena, look at me. Married. Two kids. And I'm back in showbiz!

Kareena - Oh please. I don't want to be a judge on some random dance reality show.

The fleet of married heroines retreat, unable to convince Kareena. The front row steps up.

Priyanka - Kareena, it's different now. Married heroines can have hit movies. I mean, Kajol did Fanaa after she was married. It was a superhit.

Kareena - But that was an Aamir Khan movie! You can cast him opposite a pencil and it will be a hit.

Katrina - Come on now, you know that's not true. Give Kajol some credit.

Deepika - And now even almost-50 actresses are making a comeback. Look at Sridevi. Her upcoming English Vinglish looks all set to be a hit.

Kareena - Hmmm... that is true...

Sonam - Times are changing, Kareena. Talent is what matters now. Not marital status, or looks or body weight. I mean look at Sonakshi. She is a hit heroine even though she is totally F-A...

Sonakshi and Aishwarya - HEYYY!

Priyanka - Ok let's all be objective. The audience is different now. None of us is perfect and yet the audience loves us. I mean... Katrina - can't speak Hindi. Vidya - too aunty. Deepika - horrible accent. Anushka - stick-thin. Sonakshi - Fat. Sonam - Can't act. But the audience has accepted us. They LOVE you, Kareena. What makes you think they won't accept you after you're married?

The other actresses glare at Priyanka but nod hard at Kareena.

Kareena - You do have a point there...

Vidya - Also, we're all in our 30s. We all want to get married soon and yet continue working. Very soon all of us will be married. There won't be any unmarried good actress left so producers will HAVE to cast us! Isn't that right?

All actresses - YES!

Kareena - Is that true? You will all get married soon?

All actresses - YES!

Kareena (charged up) - Hmmm... You're right! High time we actresses also got the same treatment as the actors who are in their 40s and going strong. Fight's on, sistahs! And Saifu, so is the wedding. (smiles)

Saif beams, profusely thanks the crowd and walks off with Kareena.

The unmarried actresses high-five amongst themselves as they watch Saif and Kareena leave. Priyanka sums up their collective thought.

"Another one bites the dust. Iski halkat jawaani, aur uski second-hand jawani... Kareena ke career ka toh 'The end' ho gaya! Rejoice!"

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The warrior princess diaries - VII

So I finally met bar bewdi Bubblegum who is now in Singapore. She told me about a journal that her mom had kept documenting her childhood and how much she enjoys reading it. Talking to her inspired me all over again to record Xena's antics with more regularity so she can grow up and read all that she did as a baby. I also realised that the last princess diaries update had been in March - five months ago! Thanks to Facebook, I do have the records which I just need to compile for the blog.

  • As usual, let's get the hospital stuff out of the way first. Xena is still rejecting solids, and not gaining weight at all. She's probably at the 1st percentile and is going to slip off the charts if she doesn't start eating and gaining weight. We have been meeting her doctor and dietitian, but their plans will only work if the baby opens her mouth, isn't it? She's also started to reject milk, perhaps due to her molars which are sprouting like crazy. In fact, she's even lost a bit of weight. I keep trying out new things, and some days she eats 2 spoons and other days nothing at all. I have tried everything in the book and more. I can't even begin to describe the frustration that comes with trying all kinds of food and all kinds of strategies only to have your baby turn away her face the instance she sees any food approaching her. And yet, she puts all non-food into her mouth instantly. How she knows what is food and what is not is anyone's guess. I guess I just have to keep trying. For now, I think she's thriving purely on photosynthesis. 
  • Thankfully, she's doing all right with her milestones. She started walking at the expected time and babbles a lot. She can identify quite a few things - car, bus, ball, duck, dog, iPad, penguin, lion, snake, parrot, etc. No, I don't actually have snakes and penguins walking around in my house; these are her soft toys. Earlier, she'd point and say "Tah!" for 'car'. Also for 'cat'. And 'tree'. And 'sky'. And 'fan'. Yep, they were ALL "Tah!" She can't say the full words yet, but now she says 'baw' for 'ball', 'duh' for 'duck', and 'dodo' for 'dog'.
  • Viv comes home around 8 pm, and she's either sleeping or sleepy by then. However, the moment she hears the click of the main door unlocking, she immediately sits up and says, "Papa!" I am jealous. I never get that. She only uses "Mama" as a distress call. When Viv was in Papua New Guinea, she looked for him all the time and everywhere. She thought he was playing a prolonged game of hide-and-seek with her. One day, she even tried to look for him inside the fridge!
  • I took her to Hokey Pokey, an indoor playground for babies and kids, and she absolutely loved it. Here's a picture of her in the ball pool.

  • Viv has found a brilliant way to make her brush her teeth. He lets her brush his teeth, while he brushes hers. The first time I woke up to see that scene, I couldn't stop laughing.

  • She's super duper active and I have a tough time catching up with her. This video was taken just before she started walking. Within 2 minutes, she gets her toy car into two accidents, reads a book, crawls, cruises, claps, walks, babbles, tries to snatch away mamarazzi's camera, and oh, also indicates how tall her papa is.

  • She absolutely loves playing peek-a-boo with me using the curtain.

  • I'm now using all sorts of funny tactics to get her to eat. Since Viv and I are following the no-TV rule very strictly, I use other distractors. Once I got her to eat breakfast by showing her the same picture of Imran Khan in a Filmfare issue over and over again, and saying, "Look Xena, a baby! Oh look, another baby! Hey, yet another baby!" My apologies to Imran Khan and his family. Then there was this time I literally bribed her into having dinner. I gave her my wallet and with each note she pulled out, she ate a spoonful. But I soon ran out of cash, and asked her if she accepted credit cards, and she didn't. :/
  • Why do babies throw everything? Food, toys, everything. To give her credit, I must say that she has established that she is not TOTALLY heartless. Agreed, she is brutal and merciless with her toys, but she does say "Bye!" to their mutilated carcasses before flinging them out of her play yard.
  • Xena loves to mimic anything and everything. Here she is, mimicking my mom's fake coughing.

  • Xena thinks I'm a cool/hot (delete as appropriate) chick. I asked her "Where is the bird?" and she immediately pointed at me. But then she took her 'When in doubt, point at Mama' tactic too far. I didn't mind being a bird the first time, but I did draw the line at "Where is the cow?" :/
  • Xena loves to turn on switches, whether it's the one to summon the lift or the one that controls a light or a fan. She will insist that I lift her up to the level of the switchboard, and she will turn the switches on and off, all the while looking at the lights and fans to see what has changed because of her actions.
  • Here's a collage I made to showcase Xena's teeth - from zero to 7 (clockwise from top left).

Friday, August 03, 2012

The high flier

Here's the full account of Xena's first proper encounter with soap bubbles during her morning walk with papa and mama.