Friday, December 26, 2014

Indirect speech

So day before yesterday, Viv and I threw a Christmas eve party. It was a small one, just family actually (the three of us, my sis-in-law who is also our neighbour, his second cousin and his wife) - and sis-in-law's housemate whom she'd invited as she had no plans. The tree was up, the decorations were in place. (Well, mostly, since Xena was the one who'd put them up.) We'd bought gifts for everyone, wrapped and put them under the tree with their names. Xena and I were wearing hairbands -- mine had two Santas and hers had two reindeers. The whole family was dressed in red and white.

I had prepared some Christmas-themed games - pictionary, dumb charades, etc. It had been a long time since we'd played it, but it was super fun. Viv was in his element as usual, and hence very entertaining to watch. The Christmas-themed movie title he got had two words, and that was pretty much the only straightforward miming he did - showed us two fingers. After that, things went the Viv way.

He split the second word into two and to show the first part, he sneezed. So we guessed the usual sneeze-related words - sneeze, cold, allergy, pepper, etc. Somehow we managed to guess that he was trying to show 'achhoo'. For the second part, he pointed to his bum. So all of went, "bum, butt, ass, posterior, etc." He kept pointing and we realised he's trying to show us something to do with pants. Something to do with pants? No. Jeans? Yes. A belt? The loops for the belts? No. The label at the back? Yes! Then he tried to mime 'name' by showing a strip across his forehead. The name of a brand of jeans? Yes. Levis? No. He showed a martial arts pose. Bruce Lee? Yes, but shorten. LEE? YES.

Then he asked us to put the two parts of the second word together, and then sat down because according to him, he was done and we were to do the rest. Errr... Achhoo Lee? Yes. ACHHOO LEE? YES. WHAT?! THERE WAS NO SUCH... WAIT... SERIOUSLY? WHAT THE...?!

We'd got it, you see.

Yup, the movie was 'Love Actually'. And instead of showing directly, like a normal homo sapien, a heart for the first word and letting the audience easily guess the second word on their own, Viv in his trademark style had taken us on a trip involving sneezes and jeans. Jai ho.

And though I 'tsk-tsk-ed', he knew and I knew and we all knew that DC is always fun because the insane lateral thinker is in da house.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays, bewdas!

PS: The pics are not of our home (we wish!). They were taken in a mall.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Random review: PK

*mega spoilers ahead; read only watching the movie*

Viv and I rarely manage to watch Hindi movies in the theatre together. One of us has to be home with Xena, so we take turns and watch them with different people. I honestly can't remember the last time we had watched a Hindi movie in the theatre together.

But PK was different. I knew I wanted to watch it and I knew I wanted to watch it with him. Such is the reliability of a Rajkumar Hirani movie. (I used to be like this with Shah Rukh Khan movies, but then I saw Ra.One and my life changed. I decided to go into utter denial which I am continuing -- that if I don't watch an SRK movie, it doesn't exist. Hence, I can continue to worship him.)

So the sis-in-law kindly agreed to babysit Xena, while we went for the movie. We fed Xena dinner and put her to bed by 8:15 pm, and went for the 9 pm show, so that there wouldn't be much for SIL to do other than keeping an ear out for her waking up and crying.

So here are my random thoughts about the movie.

  • Ok, first things first. PK is a thoroughly entertaining movie, with Hirani's trademark humour, catchy concepts (think 'jaadu ki jhappi', 'Gandhigiri', 'aal iz well', and now 'wrong number' in this one), hilarious dialogues and endearing characters that engage the audience. I'm not sure if the movie will change the people it wants to change, but it will make them think for sure.

  • I like the fact that Hirani picks movies with very relevant and prevalent themes and is not afraid to challenge things. His movies are very touching, and they do change people, even if it's in the slightest of ways. Though I feel that his earlier movies were much more influential than this one probably will be, but this is more a reflection of the topic this time than his movie-making skills. What a talented dude. He can write, direct, and edit, and yet not screw up any part of it. (Most Bollywood buffs would know that he was the model in this very old Fevicol ad.) 

  • What I love the most about his movies are how they can make you laugh like mad, and also cry like mad. Though it's interesting recalling how his last four movies affected me. I cried the most buckets in Munnabhai MBBS, then a little less (but still substantial) in Lage Raho Munnabhai. I had a lump in my throat in 3 Idiots, but I sailed through PK without much ado. 

  • Overall, I liked the movie and found it very entertaining. However, there were several tiny things that were distracting me, and adding up to make the entire experience not as enjoyable as it could have been. Warning: The next few points are kinda nit-picky.

  • Speaking of lead actors not looking nice, Aamir too didn't look all that nice. The bulging arms were just too much. Maybe they'd have suited someone taller, but on him, they just looked weird. In fact, I felt that they made him look shorter than he is, especially in the scene where he's pouring milk over the shiva linga.

  • I wasn't too happy with the bhojpuri lingo they had given Aamir. First, I thought he wasn't really pulling it off that well (my Dad was posted in Bihar for more than a decade so I grew up listening to a lot of Bhojpuri) and secondly, I felt that it was taking something away from his acting. Like the effort he had to put into memorising the dialogues was showing through the performance, and not in a good way. (It's like when Irrfan Khan is asked to act in English. Such a waste of a great actor.) They did hire a very good language coach for him, but the outcome was disappointing. Aamir just couldn't pronounce 'expression' as 'esperason' as taught by the coach. (In the movie, he ended up saying 'experason'). Fortunately, the dialogues themselves were hilarious (think "Woh kauwa nanga baitha hai..." and the different meanings of the word "achha"), so they kinda just sold themselves.

  • Harping on the Bhojpuri, I was really annoyed at the song 'Love is a bhaste of time'. If he can say 'love' and 'mirrorWA', why can't he say 'waste'? Sigh. The tune is very catchy though!

  • Speaking of catchy tunes, I found the 'Tharki chhokro aayo re banke mhaaro mehmaan' song HILARIOUS. I'd heard the song before but somehow I thought it was 'ghar ki chhokro' and dismissed it as something in some local dialect. But the picturisation and the lyrics were hilarious. Sanju Baba was toooo good. He really killed it as band wala Bhairon Singh. And my heart is aflutter at Vidhu Vinod Chopra's statement that there will be a third Munnabhai movie!

  • I was so amazed when I found out that all the costumes Aamir wears in the movie belong to real people on the streets. The costume team was asked to roam around and buy interesting clothes off people! Watch this video for more interesting trivia about the movie.

  • I wish they didn't have a love track between Aamir and Anushka in the movie. Seriously, it was totally unnecessary.

  • Why, oh, why did Sushant Singh Rajput have to do the trademark SRK open-arms pose in the song with Anushka? No one should be allowed to do that anymore. The original pose was done in a different era, and yes, we all swooned, but no one, not even SRK, can pull that off anymore. No no no no. NO. Please. Go back and watch DDLJ. Preserve the sanctity of the pose. Just don't try to replicate it.

  • The bride-cat-letter scene was a giveaway. I'm sure most people went, "Of course! I knew it!" when they "revealed" what had actually happened. I'm still wondering if they could have done it in a more subtle way.

  • Did anyone notice that Parikshit Sahni has changed his first name to Parikshet? (Viv works in colour correction for movies, so we end up sitting for the entire end credits of most movies, and that's how I caught this one.) This one's not for numerology for sure. ;)

  • UTV has released an entire bunch of behind the scenes videos on YouTube for curious folks like me. It's amazing how a simple scene lasting just a few seconds can be so complex to shoot and nail. The fat-barber-butt-pyjama scene took 11 retakes! I pity the poor actor!

  • Ranbir Kapoor's cameo was such a welcome surprise! And I know that this might offend Aamir fans, but at some point during the movie, my mind did wander over to the 'who else could play this part, and maybe better?' zone, and I could only think of Ranbir. I hope they do a sequel with him in the lead.

  • But first MunnaBhai 3. Please. 

Bar rating - * * * 1/2

* Run for your life! And do not look back.
** Once-watchable (if you have nothing better to do).
*** Good stuff, watch it in the theatre.
**** Awesome! Watch it in the theatre AND buy the DVD!

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Christmas gift (of gab)

Xena - Mama, did you ask Santa to get me a ladybug bag for Christmas?
Me - Oh, right. Let me call him right away. (fake dialing on my phone) Hello, Santa? Could you please get Xena a ladybug bag for Christmas this year? (pause) Yes, yes, she will be good and finish all her meals... (turning to Xena) OK?

Xena (looking at me most suspiciously) - Mama, can you put Santa on speaker?

Thursday, December 04, 2014

A trip to Baliwood... finally!

Om swasti astu, bewdas!

That was a Balinese greeting, by the way. And also my way to tell you guys that I had not fallen off the edge of the earth, but was chilling in a very beautiful part of it, enjoying the company of my parents who finally visited me after much cajoling, pleading, threatening and emotional blackmailing. Finally the Bali dream came true. And though I have been inundated with deadlines since we came back, I'm pleased to report that I have completed the travelogue on Bali (unlike that of the previous holiday - Amsterdam/Paris, which I will complete at some point!).

Hop over to Hopscotch to read about why Bali was a dream (in more ways than one).

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Emoticonal Quotient part 5

When regular bewda of the bar Arun told me that my emoticonal puzzles provided much delight at a party recently, I was thrilled. I'd forgotten how much fun it was to do up those puzzles! I told him that I really should do some more. And since there is no better time than RIGHT NOW, here is the 5th one in the emoticonal puzzle series.

There's a leeeeeetle catch though. All the songs are from Himesh Reshammiya movies. No, I don't mean the movies he gave music for. I mean the movies starring him. Yep. Muahahahaha.

Painful? Well, think of me. I had to listen to some 20 of his songs to find these 8! (My Mom didn't judge but going by her expression, I bet she was wondering what had happened to my taste in music.)

Enjoy! :D

Catch-up #7

Bonjour, bewdas!

No, I'm not still in Paris mode. Just that I like the alliteration (and the deep significance) in 'Bonjour, bewdas'.

So here's my catch-up post, aka my way to convince myself (and some of you) that the blog, though coughing and spluttering, is still alive. The last few weeks have been crazy busy, with most of my time devoted to my attempts to convince my parents to come visit me. Xena's health still doesn't permit us to visit India with confidence, and they had last seen her in person when she was 1 year old. Of course, we Skype regularly, but some of the things that 3-somethings say and do just HAVE to be experienced in person. Of course, it's a Herculean task to convince my dad to abandon his organic farm to come visit me, so I didn't even try. I just asked Mom to come. My Mom, my ever hopeful Mom, has been telling me that there will be a direct flight between us "very soon". She has been saying that for about 7 years now. I see no sign of a direct flight yet.

On some levels, I understand. There are truly no good flight options for her to get here easily. It's a pain for her to do so many transits, sit in an airport by herself for several hours, and then make her way here. But after a while, I lost it and told them they were simply making excuses. Okay fine, cataract surgery is a valid reason not to travel, but long after that, so-and-so relative is going to have a baby, just had a baby, baby's 21-day ceremony is coming up, etc. are not valid reasons at all. I think Dad was busy tending to his garden, and Mom was busy tending to him. The trip was not going to happen. I was starting to lose my patience. So I did what every dignified cool-headed daughter would do. I did not slam the phone down on them twice. I did not accuse them of loving Xena less than my in-laws did. I did not say that I thought that they thought Skype was enough to see their daughter and granddaughter. I did not stop calling and emailing them.

Ok fine, I did do all those things.

But the result - Mom's here! She is! OMG I still can't believe it. She's here and my Dad is on his way in a few weeks! I didn't even invite him, knowing fully well that that's the only way to get him here. Okay fine, I also told him about the Gardens by the Bay, one of Singapore's newest attractions which apparently sends green-fingered people into a frenzy. But still.

Before Mom got here, I was working crazy hours trying to get my deadlines out of the way so I could roam around with her. After all, I don't have the energy to do all this phone-slamming, emotional blackmailing, etc. all over again and honestly speaking, I don't know when she will be here next. Hopefully we will be in a position to make an India trip next year.

So Mom's here and the three generations of girls are having a blast. Mom might be Xena's grandma, but Xena's going all grandma on her. She used to 'toko' my mom-in-law about her dupatta, and now she tokos my mom about how the saree is a not a nice attire because "it shows the tum-tum". Hey bhagwaaaaan.

Speaking of the saree, we had a Diwali party in our condominium and I got to wear my most favourite attire in the whole world -- the saree! I tried my best to meet Xena's standards and not show any tum-tum. I think she was satisfied.

We also had a cool Halloween party on Friday, organised by a committee of four -- a German-Turk, a Serbian, a Mexican and representing both India and Singapore at once -- yours truly. Instead of having the kids go to 50 houses and come back with 873643760928709472987 pieces of candy each, we decided to exercise some candy-control measures. We set up four game stations where the kids could play Halloween games and win candy -- restricted to 5 pieces of candy per kid per game. We also had a pot luck dinner and it was fab. I have to admit that unlike the Easter party fiasco, being on WhatsApp really helped me during the Halloween planning. Some of you have been asking me how my new life with a smartphone is going and I have to say -- still great! I don't have a data plan, which means that when I'm in the bus or anywhere outside, I don't have my phone buzzing the heck out of itself. I check it only at home on wifi, and it's all within control. My life is pretty much still the same as before. Well, except for some disturbing WhatsApp groups where I have been added and people are sending each other sardarji jokes. Like, seriously.

Speaking of bad jokes, I heard that are some pretty bad ones in 'Happy New Year'. So I have decided to go into hiding, which I do every time SRK does a bad movie. Pretty often then, you might say. And I'll nod and agree. As I told my dear friend Starbreez, with whom I watch most SRK movies, I love him too much to go and watch 'Happy New Year'.

So that's what's been happening at the bar. How have the bewdas been? :)

Thursday, October 09, 2014

The phoren trio

Okay, so I am now officially 'phoren-returned'.


When I was growing up in India, 'foreign' or 'phoren' as it was known as where I grew up, was a noun. It was a place. Even movies used 'phoren' whenever they wanted to refer to any place outside India. Remember the scene in Hum Aapke Hain Koun where Mohnish Behl comes running to Alok Nath and reports that "foreign se abhi abhi fax aaya hai"? Like seriously? You can't say the name of the city or even the country? You're holding the frickin' faxed document in your hand. It really says 'From: Foreign'? Anyway, my point is that this is how it was. Unlike today, back then, phoren for me was this very faraway impossible-to-get-to place with awesome clothes and yummy chocolates where the cool people of the world lived.

I used to have close brushes with phoren during some of my summer vacations when my mom's sister would fly down from London with suitcases full of clothes, toys and chocolates for everyone in the khandaan. And to me, that was the real phoren. London. Over the next few years, under the influence of Bollywood and more Bollywood, New York and Paris also got added to the phoren list and this trio was what defined phoren for me. And I dreamt that maybe, just maybe, some day I'd travel to these three places. Or maybe just two of 'em. Or one perhaps?

But things changed. 16 years ago, I got the scholarship to come to Singapore and it became my base, my home. And I could go anywhere I wanted. So I did. I checked off London from my list in 2003 (I'd been working for a year and saving up for it), New York in 2006 and finally last month, I went to Paris. After I'd climbed up the 704 steps up the Eiffel Tower and paused to take a breather, I looked at the view, speechless. And the little girl in me only had one thought - I've done it. I've been to phoren.

And now with that kiddy-bucket-list-item out of the way, big fancy cities don't hold much of a charm for me anymore. I'd like to explore the nooks and crannies of the world. Though my dad's job took us through a lot of places in India, there is so much unexplored territory there too. Like the northeast.

So yeah, now the big dream is to really see the world. But the sad truth is that seeing the world can be expensive. Viv and I generally live a very simple life, but the one thing we do set aside money for every year is a good holiday. It's a little more difficult now with Xena, but we have been managing and hopefully can continue. I find that nothing opens up the mind like travelling. There is so much beauty to marvel at, so many people to meet, so many unknown things to discover about ourselves, so many journeys to experience, and so many experiences to live.

And it is humbling to see what a tiny speck we are in the grand scheme of things.

Every time we travel, we meet so many elderly couples who have retired and their children have moved away and now they just travel the world. And Viv and I look at each other and think, some day that might be us. Hopefully. Life is so unpredictable that sometimes planning anything seems silly and futile, but hope is what the world runs on.

In the words of RL Stevenson - There is no foreign land; it is the traveller only that is foreign.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Not your average Joe(har)

Regular blog bewdi Prathima sent me this link of a Karan Johar interview, where he makes fun of his own movies. I love KJ and his movies (except KANK, which, bleah, I cannot forgive him for) but I also love his personality. His brutal honesty and wit in this interview had me in splits, especially the part where he talks about how translation can ruin a Hindi song, using 'Yeh kya hua' as an example.

Thanks, Prathima. This is the video of the week at the bar:

Friday, October 03, 2014

Two of a kind

Me (pointing to a pair of twins in a book we were reading) - Oh look, twins!

Xena - Mama, what is twins?

Me (thinking about how best to explain this) - Ummm... twins are two people who were born together...

Xena - What.

(She says 'What.' with a period at the end instead of a question mark when she totally doesn't know what I'm talking about, or thinks that I'm talking nonsense.)

Me (trying again) - Errr... twins are brothers/sisters who are the same in age.

Xena - What.

Me (trying to think of the simplest way to explain without getting into the identical/fraternal technicality) - Umm... oh I know. Twins look like each other.

Xena (thinks for a while, then says with an air of finality) - Mama, I look like you. So we are twins.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

From a Bhai-gone era

It's the Mary Kom success party, happening in Priyanka Chopra's sprawling lawn. All the biggies of Bollywood are there. Needless to say, Sayesha Smitten Showbiz Kitten has procured a pass to the event in spite of being on the blacklist.

In a corner are seated Karan Johar, Rohit Shetty and Subhash Ghai, animatedly discussing something. "I bet they are talking about the Ram Lakhan remake they announced last week!" says SSSK and rapidly approaches them with her notepad and pencil.

SSSK - Hello, everyone. I am SSSK. Reporter. Karan is of course familiar with my work.

Rohit and Subhash look at Karan. He shakes his head.

SSSK - Anyway, I thought I could get some bytes from you about the Ram Lakhan remake you announced.

Subhash - Ah yes, we were just discussing that.

SSSK - I figured. So... Ram Lakhan was a cult film. What would be different in the remake?

Subhash - Well, it's set in today's time, not 1989, so a lot of things would be different. I'll just let these youngsters make all the decisions.

Karan and Rohit - Really??

Subhash - Of course. I just have one condition as the co-producer. I'll make an appearance in the movie at a sudden and random juncture. I need to do that. I'm sure everyone will understand. I mean, even the IMDB page of Ram Lakhan lists me in the cast as 'man singing on motorcycle'.

Subhash walks away, whistling merrily. Karan and Rohit give each other unsure looks.

Karan - Yeah, we'll see about that. Basically, this is a fresh perspective on an old revenge saga so we will rewrite many of the scenes. There will be more family functions and songs, and maybe a little bit more crying... you know, after Ram's and Lakhan's dad is killed by the bad guys...

Rohit - And as everyone is crying, maybe some cars can explode in the background...

Karan - Yeah, sure... You da man. And my plan is that they will cry and cry and cry, and then the whole family will move to London.

SSSK - Erm... like in K3G? Is this going to become like one of your NRI movies?

Karan - Well, we don't have the details worked out yet, but yeah that might be one of the angles. You know, to modernise the movie.

SSSK - Speaking of modernisation, aren't the names Ram and Lakhan a bit old-fashioned?

Karan - Yeah, we thought of that, but we need to keep the title so people know it's a remake. Anyway, Main Hoon Na also had a Ram-Lakshman duo and no one objected. We might just change the rest of their names though... you know from Ram Pratap Singh to something a little cooler, like Ram Yashwardhan Raichand or something...

Rohit - Err... maybe. But we will definitely change the girls' names.

Karan - Oh yes, Geeta and Radha simply won't do. I mean, the new Radha is different. The new Radha likes to party. The new Radha likes to move that sexy Radha body. We will obviously have a disco number with both brothers and their girlfriends.

Rohit - Ah yes, and then some cars can explode in the background.

Karan - Sure, sure. And I also have this vision that when the brothers have a fallout, cheerleaders with pom-poms will be singing, "Ram-Lakhan ka jhagada!"

SSSK - Err... you mean like "Rahul-Anjali ka jhagada"?

Karan - Well, kind of. But it will be different. I mean, the clothes will be different. We're getting Manish, of course. And because Ram-Lakhan are supposed to be gareeb, he will come up with some gareeb outfits for them.

Rohit - Errr... we might reconsider that. Manish Malhotra's gareeb outfits are not exactly gareeb I think.

SSSK - I agree. If anything, they are ajeeb-o-gareeb. Ha ha ha!

Karan gives SSSK a dirty look.

Meanwhile, Jackie Shroff and Anil Kapoor walk over and join them.

Rohit - Hi, Jackie. Hi, Anil. We were just talking about the Ram Lakhan remake.

Jackie and Anil sigh.

Anil - So you're serious about it? You're really going to do it?

Karan - Yes, but not without your blessings, of course.

Jackie - Well, you have mine.

Rohit - We do???

Jackie - Yeah. As long as you cast Tiger as Ram.

Anil - What?! Then I want Harshvardhan as Lakhan.

Karan - Who is Harshvardhan?

Anil - What?! This is an outrage! You don't know who Harshvardhan is?? He is my son.

Karan - Wait, you mean Arjun Kapoor is not your son?

Anil (gritting his teeth) - Aaarghhhhh. That's why I prefer Hollywood to Bollywood.

Karan - Err... we want to take relatively established actors...

Anil - Well, they are RELATIVELY established, aren't they? Tiger is his relative and Harshvardhan is mine!

Rohit - Errr...

Jackie - I agree. Wait, let me call Tiger, you can audition him right now. TIGER!!!!

Tiger Shroff is seen bounding towards his dad, with a young lady in hot pursuit.

Tiger - Dad, help!

Jackie - Who is that??

Tiger - I don't know. She stalks me everywhere and keeps saying she has a question for me and if I answer that, she'll leave.

Jackie - So just answer her question na!

Girl - Oooh. So can I have an answer today?

Tiger (grinning) - Yeah ok fine. The answer is - yes, I'm single.

Girl - Hainnn?! That was not my question.

Tiger - What?! Then what's your question for which you have been stalking me day and night?

Girl - I just want to know the shade of your lipstick.

Tiger - Lipstick?! What lipstick?? I don't wear lipstick. Have you gone crazy? She has gone crazy. Someone get her out of here. I don't wear lipstick. My lips are naturally pink.

Girl (rolls her eyes) - Oh come onnnn!

Tiger (resignedly) - Ok fine. It's Candy Yum Yum by M.A.C.

The girl squeals joyously and leaves.

Jackie - Offspring... Sigh. Anyway, Tiger, they want you to play me in the Ram Lakhan remake.

Rohit - Er... we don't...

Jackie (ignores them) - So what do you say?

Tiger - Thanks but no thanks. I don't want to be compared to you.

Rohit - Errr... also, we are going to cast Danny as one of the villains. And you look so much like him it will really confuse the audience.

Jackie - Argh! I'm SO SICK of hearing this!! He doesn't look like Danny, okay? Okay!

Tiger - Please, dad. People have even said I look like Priyanka Gandhi. So I think we should just be okay with Danny. But I can't do this film.

Tiger leaves.

Jackie (irritated) - So whom do you have in mind for the leads?

Karan - Well, we were thinking of casting two guys who already have proven chemistry. You know, like Siddharth-Varun or Arjun-Ranveer.

Rohit - But then we felt that Siddharth-Varun are too chikna for the role. We need actors with grit. And facial hair.

Karan - Ok, Arjun-Ranveer then. Actually we have spoken to them about it. They watched the original and then told us that they were... umm... more interested in playing Bishambar and Bhanu, the bad guys.

SSSK - Hmmm, why don't you consider Ajay Devgn maybe? He is a seasoned tough cop.

Rohit - No can do.

Karan - Hey, why not?? Ajay would be a good choice actually!

Rohit - No. My contract with Ajay for 'Singham Returns Again', 'Re-return of Singham', 'Singham Returns Once Again', 'Singham Returns Yet Again', and 'Would You Believe It Singham is Returning Again' clearly specifies that he can't do any other cop roles.

SSSK - Wow. And what about the girls? Who's playing them?

Priyanka walks towards them.

Karan - Speak of the devil... We actually have Priyanka in mind for Geeta's role.

Priyanka - Geeta's role? You mean the one played by Dimple?

Rohit - That's right!

Priyanka - And who's playing Radha?

Karan - Most likely Alia or Shraddha or somebody. One of those youngsters.

Priyanka - What?! I'm not playing the older character!

Karan - But Priyanka, you are...

Priyanka - Silence! Mary Kom ki sari training ab bhi yaad hai. Mujhe old bola toh yahin par baja dalungi.

SSSK - She will send you into a Kom-a. Ha ha ha!

Rohit and Karan give her dirty looks.

Karan - Ok ok fine. How about we cast Parineeti as Radha?

Priyanka - I said I don't want to play the older character!!!

SSSK - But... but she's already your little sister. And the whole world knows that.

Priyanka - Hmmph ok fine.

She walks out, just as Rakhee walks in.

Rakhee - So you're very very sure you want to take Jaya Bachchan for my role?

Karan - Errr... yeah.

Rakhee - Don't take a hasty decision. Give it some thought. I can still do it. Watch this. (stands up dramatically and raises her hands) "Mere Ram Lakhan aayenge. Zameen ki chaati phad ke aayenge, aasman ka seena cheer ke aayenge!"

Karan - Ummm... that was from Karan Arjun.

Rakhee (looks confused) - Really? Why did I always end up with two sons seeking revenge?? (walks off)

Madhuri, who had been waiting for her turn, approaches them.

Madhuri - Karan, I really think you should cast me back as Radha. I mean... that movie is in my blood. Even now I can recite all the dialogues and songs... "O Raaaamji.... Mera piya ghar aaya, O Ramji!"

Rohit - Err... wrong song, Madhuri. That's from Yarana.

Madhuri walks off, looking pissed.

SSSK - Speaking of songs, the original had some superhit songs like 'My name is Lakhan', 'Tera naam liya', 'Bekadar bekhabar' and 'O Ramji', etc.

Rohit - Ah, yes. The songs will need freshening up, so instead of Ae ji o ji, lo ji suno ji, we will have 3G, 4G to appeal to the youth of today. And of course, we will have some cars exploding in the background.

Karan - And we will release the movie in Pakistan too, so we are having Ali Zafar sing 'Mere do anmol ratan'. We will slightly change the lyrics to 'Mere do anmol watan'.

SSSK - What about the most popular one - 'My name is Lakhan'?

Karan - Sigh. If the Dabangg folks had agreed to a collaboration, we wanted the song to be 'My name is Makhan'.

SSSK - Hain??

Rohit - There are already two cop brothers in the movie, you see. Chulbul-Makhanchand.

SSSK - Oh.

Karan - But they said no. So we will retain 'My name is Lakhan', but with additional lyrics.

SSSK - What additional lyrics?

Karan - It will go something like this... "My name is Lakhan. Le KHAN... KHH... from the epiglottis."

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Double trouble

Old bewdas of the bar might know why I always say that I don't love Viv for his jokes, I love him in spite of them. I just went back and read this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this and gosh, the man has cracked some reeeeeally bad PJs.

And his latest was performed smack in front of the 3.5-year-old Xena, with no regard whatsoever for the consequences. I was going through some Hindi flashcards with her when we got to the 'o se okhli' card.

Viv - Xena! You have okhli, and Poppy has Oakley too! Ha ha ha! Let's tell Mama!
Xena - Ha ha ha! Let's tell Mama!
Me - :/

It was therefore no surprise when I discovered that Xena has most definitely inherited and/or absorbed this trait from her Poppy. Here are some latest ones from her:

Me - Xena, please don't take your toys into the bathroom. They might fall in the toilet!
Xena - Mama, I want to put them in the toilet.
Me - Huh?! Why??
Xena - Because it is a TOY-let. Ha ha ha!

Me - Xena, we're going to the minimart now.
Xena - No Mama, it's not minimart.
Me - Huh? What is it then?
Xena - Mickey mart! Ha ha ha!

Xena - Mama, when Ryan (her friend) cries, what does he become?
Me - Hainn?
Xena - Cryan! Ha ha ha!

Me - Xena, come sit on the kitchen counter while I do the dishes.
Xena - This is the counter?
Me - Yes.
Xena - It can count from 1 to 10? Ha ha ha!

Xena - Mommy, when Poppy mops the floor, what does he become?
Me - What?
Xena - Moppy! Ha ha ha!

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, does it?

*thunk thunk thunk*

Monday, August 25, 2014

Bhatt of jokes

It's been quite a few weeks since the bar had a 'video of the week', and here's the perfect video for the comeback.

Is she cool or is she cool?


Monday, August 18, 2014

A smart cookie

A few months ago, I had blogged about smartphones and why I was so wary about getting one. I was happy with my Nokia whatever-model-it-was. Until one day it stopped working. Like many mothers, I would also like to blame the toddler for the breakdown of any appliance. It was HER water bottle that leaked in my bag and ruined my phone. (It's a totally different matter that it was ME who put her water bottle and my phone together in the same compartment of the bag.)

I still have to give it to the phone though. It coughed and spluttered and revived itself, and chugged along for another four months. And then SOMEBODY dropped it. I won't say who that SOMEBODY was, but I can tell you it was the same person who was silly enough to put a water bottle and a phone in the same compartment of the bag. And from there, it went downhill. Like a cat, it died and resurrected itself some nine times. The most effective strategy I used to revive it whenever it died involved a lot of thought and precision -- I had to determine the exact height from which to release it so that it neatly divided itself into four components, which then had to be immediately put together and the phone would become fully functional. For another three and a half hours.

It was in the middle of this that I wondered if it was time to recontract with my service provider, who would then put me out of my misery by giving me a new phone with my new contract. I figured it was best to get a smartphone, but without any smart features that would distract me and/or Xena and turn me into a smartphone-wielding zombie. At the same time, I could take good pictures and perhaps use WhatsApp only on WiFi for all the events I organise with others who only use WhatsApp. It would surely avoid stuff like the Easter party fiasco. And guess what? It was indeed time to recontract. So we went to the shop and had a look at all the phones. There were a few free phones they were offering with a new contract and Viv, after using his HTC to read reviews and comparisons, remarked how good some of them were. "The smartphone industry is getting really competitive," he remarked. I nodded smartly.

Anyway, they offered me a $50 voucher for the new contract and told me I could use it to offset against the value of my new phone. We picked the Asus Zenfone, which they were offering for $48.  The first thing that struck me about the phone was how big it was. Wait a minute, weren't phones getting smaller and smaller at some point? Weren't the smallest phones the coolest phones? When did they start getting bigger again, and most importantly, where was I? Anyway, with a beating heart, I held my new phone and observed it as it did cool and scary things that I was not familiar with.

"So now I need a screen protector." I said, brimming with the confidence that only people who have never had smartphones exude.

"Oh no, don't." said Viv. "It will interfere with the resolution." I nodded smartly again as if I really understood how it would impact my life.

Viv doesn't like any phone accessories. I have to admit though -- his phone actually looks sleek. Kinda naked, but sleek. So I knew where the conversation was headed.

"Ok, but I surely need a cover for the phone." I declared.

"No, bad idea." He said.

What was with all this negativity, dude? I decided to fight it out.

"I need a cover."

"You don't really need a cover. It makes the phone look ugly."

"I need a cover. What if it falls and breaks? WHAT IF I DROP MY BRAND NEW PHONE AND IT BREAKS?" I tried to make a strong point by speaking in all caps.

And then he provided me with the solution. A solution so simple and elegant and amazing that it reminded me all over again why I married this brilliant Homo sapien. A solution, which I think should be immediately shared with the entire humanity so that billions of deprived smartphone owners all over the world can partake of its amazingness.

"Don't drop it." He said, shrugging his shoulders.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The jungle look

Xena (pulls out two combs and hands one to me) - Mama, come let's comb our junglee hair.
Me - What?! My hair is junglee?
Xena - Yes.
Me - And yours?
Xena - My hair is junglee too!
Me - And Poppy's hair is?
Xena - Handsome. 

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Hǎo jiǔ bú jiàn!

In case the title made you think that Xena somehow overpowered me and assumed full control of my keyboard, let me assure you that it is not so. The title simply means 'Long time no see'. In Chinese. Woohoo! Yes, I'm learning Chinese. Mandarin, to be precise.

A few weeks ago, somehow, the universe conspired to firmly plant me in a Beginners' Mandarin class. Well, this is what happened. My sis-in-law, who is staying with us now, had signed up for the class and then she got a part-time job and the timings clashed and she couldn't defer it and the stars aligned and bam, next thing I know I'm asking her if I can take over.

I must have been out of my mind when I asked her that because my July and August schedules are already jam-packed. I'm doing four projects at once, and one of them has daily deadlines. And Xena has been sick almost the whole of July and has lost another kilo, adding to my stress. So it was not exactly a great idea to completely ignore the existing contents on my plate and pile on one more thing. But somehow, somewhere, a hypothetical, rolled-up Chinese newspaper was thunking my head, reminding me that this was a sign and that I had always intended to take up Mandarin again.

Yes, I said 'again'.

You see, exactly a decade ago, I had enrolled myself in Cambridge Language School for a 10-week Mandarin course. Viv, who just happened to be with me as I was enrolling, suddenly found himself signing up too. I was thrilled. Here was my chance to show him his aukaat - his level. Muahahaha. My mom once told me that she thought I was very intelligent until she met Viv. Sheesh. Great. Thanks, Mom. So here was my chance at a face-off. To show him what stuff this first-bencher nerdy class topper was made of. He rolled up his sleeves too. Next thing we knew, we had become one of those obnoxious couples. You know, the kind that sits together at the first bench in a Beginners' Mandarin class and kicks everyone's ass? Yeah, that one. Needless to say, everyone hated us. Except the teacher, of course, who loved us. And somewhere along the way, in spite of it being a very difficult language to learn, I forgot about competing with Viv, and started truly enjoying the lessons.

Our teacher ("lăoshī") was from China and she spoke in very pure Mandarin. She was also exasperated at how, in her words, "so many Singaporeans kill the beautiful language with their bad pronunciation". So under her influence, here I was, telling my friends that they spoke bad Chinese, while they gave me looks that could only be interpreted as, "Please go back to your country." I know better now. And I can seriously tell you that the most brutal murder of this beautiful language happened at the hands voices of the back-up singers of the song 'Ajooba' from the movie 'Jeans', who sang "Ooowaanee oowaanee!" instead of "Wŏ ài nĭ wŏ ài nĭ" ("I love you, I love you").

Anyway, back to the topic. At the end of the course, I carefully kept my books and notes in my bookshelf. And never saw them again. Sheesh. It was sad because even Viv and I never practised together. So our Mandarin rusted. Into microscopic pieces. Until it was no more. The thing with learning a language is that you need to keep practising. You need to keep talking in that language. In Singapore, I rarely get that chance because everyone speaks English. (In fact, many of my Chinese Singaporean friends tell me they themselves rarely speak in Mandarin, even at home.) And when I did attempt to speak the language, I got laughed at. I blame the damned tones. Ugh, the tones. You see, unlike other languages, Mandarin has this amazing feature. The same syllable can be said in four different tones, and they all mean different things. So you might end up calling your friend's mother a horse because the word for both is the same, but the tones are different ("mā" means "mother", while "mǎ" means "horse"). My teacher told me that "mā-ma mà mǎ" means "mother scolds horse". Try saying that. Trust me, at the end of it you won't know if the mother is scolding the horse or the horse is scolding the mother!

Anyway, so here I was, back in the same boat I'd boarded a decade ago. I'd missed one lesson (the first one that my sis-in-law had attended) so I was a bit nervous when I entered the class. And obviously there was only one question in my mind -- would I be able to... bag a seat at the first bench? Of course, I got one very easily, because the first row is the 'danger zone' and no one wants to sit there and put themselves at grave risk. Especially during role play when the teacher asks the first person on the first bench to start off a conversation in Mandarin. The back benchers have nothing to worry about, because by the time the teacher is done making sense of what the front benchers are saying to one another, and correcting our 2727364638 mistakes, it's time for the lesson to end.

And yet, week after week, I sit there with courage in my heart, struggling with the tones and the grammar, attempting to string together one coherent sentence. Why? Because I love it. It is a very fun and interesting language to learn (well, the spoken form, at least). One of the perks is also that now I know what Xena says when she tells me something she learnt at school. The other day, as I attempted to stuff an apple slice that was approximately 0.0008876 mm thick into her reluctant mouth, she pointed to it and said "píngguŏ!" And I understood. Omg. I mean OMG. I understood what my kid was saying in Mandarin. I can't even begin to describe the thrill I felt. The other day I was at a shoe shop (where else?) and the shop assistant said, "Nĭ yào shénme size?" ("What size do you want?") and I was so thrilled that I forgot to say "sān shí jiǔ" and said the very boring "39" instead.

Learning Mandarin also helps me make much more sense of Singlish, which I'm fluent at, but never really saw the 'behind-the-scenes' of. For example, the simple "What do you want?" in Singlish is "You want what?" which makes so much more sense when you see that it's a word-for-word translation of "Nĭ yào shénme?" (Nĭ being you, yào being want and shénme being what).

I have two more lessons to go. And after that, I'll be on my own again. I don't know how much better I'll do this time. Maybe a little, maybe a lot. For all I know, I'll be signing up for another refresher in a decade's time. But for now, all I know is that I'm really enjoying it. Especially the fact that I don't need to learn it; I want to learn it.

Good night, bewdas!

Wǎn ān!

(Sorry, I don't know how to say "bewdas" in Mandarin. I don't think I want to ask my lăoshī either.)

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.