Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z is for zombie

So we have come to the end of the A-Z blogathon, and the title of the last post pretty much describes what the month of April has rendered me into. I feel truly zombie-fied. April has been tough. Managing Xena, work-related deadlines, daily blogging, household chores, preparing for the upcoming renovation, selling furniture and sorting/throwing/donating stuff accumulated over two decades, was no fun with Viv travelling.

And just when I started my joyous rendition of 'Mera piya ghar aaya, o Ramji' upon his return, he dropped the bomb on me -- he's travelling again in June for the Apple conference (smack in the middle of our home renovation), making me instantly change my song to 'Pardesi, pardesi, jana nahin'. I'm now thinking of ways to get back at him. Maybe I'll ask the contractor to paint the whole house a neon pink while he's gone. Xena won't mind, I'm sure.

So, this is my last post before I shut down my computer and prepare it for take-off and landing in a new house -- our temporary accommodation for the next two months. In spite of the insanity, I have thoroughly enjoyed writing the blogathon, more than last year in fact. Last year, I was having the panic attacks by myself, but this year I had a lot of company for the blogathon, and the discussions reassured me that everyone else was also having the same panic attacks. Phew and yeay!

Also, contrary to my belief that the universe had moved to Twitter, the blogathon gave me assurance that people are still reading blogs. They may not be commenting as much, but they are definitely reading. The numbers show it. Thank you, bewdas, for reading and for cheering me on. If you liked any particular post more than the others, please do let me know.

Thank you for your emails and your comments. I have replied to all the emails, and I hope to respond to all the comments by next week.

I was touched when some bewdas said that they will have withdrawal symptoms once April is over. To be honest, I'm already feeling quite emo about it, and I'm pretty sure that I will wake up tomorrow with quite severe withdrawal symptoms. Who knows, maybe that will inspire me to blog a little more in non-April months.

Until the next post... So long, bewdas, and thanks for (reading) all the fish (posts)!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Y is for yesteryears

Xena likes to listen to me singing really old songs, many of them from black & white movies of the yesteryears. And after about 3897498289 renditions, she is able to sing along with me.

I prefer teaching her oldies rather than the newer ones. (Most of the newer ones are not very child-friendly anyway.) On the other hand, most oldies have simple tunes and very catchy and easy-to-remember lyrics. So far, we have done 'Dil ka bhanwar', 'Kajra muhabbat wala' and 'Mera naam Chin Chin Choo'.

This is her singing reciting 'Mera naam Chin Chin Choo'. 

By the way, I'd heard 'Mera naam Chin Chin Choo' many times before, but only now did I realise something. The song perpetuates the misconception that Singapore is/was a part of China!

Take a closer look at the first antara:

Babuji main Cheen se aayi
Cheeni jaisa dil laayi
Singapore ka joban mera
Shanghai ki angdaayi

Lately, I've started to go through the lyrics and explain the meanings of the songs to her. I hadn't done it for the earlier songs I'd taught her. Good for me, because I wouldn't know how to answer "Mama, how can one aunty's eyeliner kill another aunty?" and "Mama, what does she mean by 'heart like sugar' and 'youth of Singapore and lazy stretch of Shanghai'?"

Yesterday I was teaching her 'Ek ladki bheegi bhaagi si'. I sang it very very slowly, pausing regularly for her to understand and grasp the lyrics. Whenever I'd come to a word she didn't know (which happens very very often), she'd stop me and ask.

Me - Ek ladki...
She - A girl.
Me - Good. Bheegi bhaagi si...
She - What is bheegi bhaagi si?
Me - Wet. It was a rainy night, so she got wet.
She - She didn't have an umbrella?
Me - No.
She - Hmmm.
Me - Soti raaton mein...
She - What is soti raaton?
Me - Sleepy night. It's raining, and it's night time, and everyone is sleeping.
She - Hmmm.
Me - Jaagi si...
She - Awake?
Me - Yes. The girl is awake on a sleepy night. Ok?
She (reluctantly) - Ok...
Me - Mili ek ajnabi se...
She - What is ajnabi?
Me - Stranger.

And that's when all hell broke loose.

She - The girl talked to a stranger????!!!!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

X is for xĭhuān

I was racking my brain, thinking of what to write with X. 'Xena' would be too predictable, and I'd already done 'Xerox' last year. X-ray? X-rated? Xenophobia? I even briefly considered 'xylem zamana' but I didn't want to be chased down the streets by readers armed with the modern equivalent of the jhaadoo or the belan. Selfie sticks, maybe.

And that's when I remembered the goldmine! The Mandarin language is bursting with words that start with X! I went through google of course, but I wanted to pick a word that I had learnt in my Mandarin classes. After careful consideration, I picked 'xĭhuān', which means 'like'. I thought I'd make a list of random things I like, and revisit this list a decade later to see if (a) I like the same things; and (b) if Xena likes the same things.

So this is my 'wŏ xĭhuān' ("I like") list.

Wŏ xĭhuān:

- sadakchhaap pani puri
(though well-wishers tell me that I'd better be careful. The tummy's resilience is no longer what it was when I left India in 1998. Besides, I haven't been to India in the last 5 years!)

- floral dresses

- strappy high-heeled shoes
(the heels have to be just right though; not too low and not too high)

- making adrak/masala chai and cold coffee
(company is compulsory)

- cheesecake

- Cadbury's fruit & nut dark chocolate
(I can finish a big bar by myself within minutes. I kid you not.)

- Sour cream & onion rippled potato wafers
(they have to be rippled; no rippled, no eat)

- the Harry Potter series

- the colour purple

- blogging

- picnics

- organising parties

- Bundaberg ginger beer

- Mexican food

- nail art

- vacations

- the rain

- winters
(mild ones; living in Singapore has rendered me incapable of handling real winters)

- watching movie trailers in the theatre

- Bollywood music
(any kind; well, almost any kind)

- singing

- cooking

- long walks

- being organised

- fitness
(not the working out part so much, but the results)

and last, but definitely not the least...

- being mommy to Xena. :)

Monday, April 27, 2015

W is for wish

Dear Pickles,

I don't know when and whether you will read this, but here I go anyway. A long long time ago, when you were all of 1, your mommy Maya, Aunty S and I participated in this old-fashioned thing called an A-Z blog marathon, and we decided that we will all write a post on the same word, expressing our take on it. We then decided to make it more meaningful by choosing the word 'wish' with each of us making a wish (or wishes) for the three little tots -- you, A and Xena. So your mommy has written this for A, Aunty S has written this for Xena, and I'm writing this for you. (We agreed to post them simultaneously at 10 am IST.)

It would, of course, be presumptuous of me to assume that what I wish for you is what you would wish for yourself. We can make all the wishes we want for our children, but we have no control over the future and we don't know how things will turn out. But parents can be just as stubborn as kids (as you will discover) and so here I have 8 wishes for you.

I wish you:

- love, respect and appreciation for the gift of life your parents gave you
Everyone talks about the sacrifices that parents make, and children are probably sick of hearing them. Some cliches, such as 'You'll know when you have your own kids' are actually true, as uncle Viv and I, and your parents, have discovered after stepping into parenthood. You will discover that in good time, but for now I hope you can see that the life you have is truly a gift from your parents, and I wish you the wisdom to love it, respect it, appreciate it, and live it fully.
- a heart full of love and kindness
The world is a beautiful place. But at times, it can get ugly and scary, and full of hatred. The Internet especially, can sometimes become a horrible place full of unkind comments. I hope that by the time you grow up, all this blows over and you guys start afresh, with love, tolerance and kindness for one another.

- a life full of fewer gadgets and more real interactions
I hope that by the time you grow up, people around you are looking at the views and one another more than they're looking at their digital devices. I wish that given the choice, in your world, a kid picks a friend over an iPad (or its futuristic equivalent) any day.

- a cleaner and greener world 
The generations before you have royally screwed up the Earth. We are sorry for the state we have left it in for you guys. Though we are trying to make amends, it is a tad late. We hope that by the time you guys grow up, you will be more aware and will have more knowledge and resources to undo the damage done, and make the Earth clean and green again. And in case you guys have to relocate to Mars, remember our mistakes with Earth, and don't make them there.

- good health to enjoy your life
Eat healthy. Drink plenty of water. Exercise. Trust me, the payoff is much better than it looks on paper.

- a vocation that fills your heart with joy and makes you look forward to Monday mornings
Your parents are PhD-armed heavy-duty academics, and in our days (gosh I just made us sound so old), that would have meant an automatic and compulsory PhD for the offspring. But you were born in an era and a family that believes in freedom of choice, and I hope you find something that is your true calling, and yet provides you with the means to enjoy your life the way you want to. Some of us (*ahem*) take a while to get there, and I want to let you know that sometimes it is a winding path with ups and downs and confusion and uncertainty, but you just need to keep going and you will eventually get there.

- a love for travel
I hope that you will like to travel as much as your parents and we do, for nothing opens up your mind and heart the way travel does. From what we have seen, the people you meet and the cultures you experience during your travels change you as a person. In a good way.

- good friends
Last but not the least, I wish you good friends you can share your life with. It doesn't matter if they are two or twenty in number; what matters is that you can be truly yourself with them. Just the way Uncle Viv and I are, with your parents.

Love always,
Sayesha Masi

Saturday, April 25, 2015

V is for vocals

"You know, when your sister was a baby, her cry was so melodious. OooOOooO." My Mom said.

"Wow. What about me? Was my cry melodious too?" I grinned.

"Errr...." was her reply.

Fine. Apparently it was more "WAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!" than my sister's gentle "OooOOooO".


So I didn't have a great start to my vocals journey. But unlike my OooOOooO-ing sister, I have loved music and singing ever since I was a kid. Mom used to sing on radio when she was young, so it was a dream for me to do that some day. Except that my music teachers at my primary school didn't quite think so. The male teacher was still okay, but the new female teacher couldn't stand me. Once, we all auditioned for a singing part for the school function. I'd barely sung 3 words when she put up her hand and dismissed me with a pained expression. Her final pick was this girl called Desdemona (parents must be fans of Shakespeare, methinks). Fine.

A few months later, we had a chance to do a musical play on radio, and the story was that of the rabbit who fooled the lion into thinking that there was another lion in the well. And guess who was chosen to sing the parts of the rabbit? MOI. Not Desdemona. MOIHAHAHAHA! I still remember the song. It was very jingle-like and it went, "Is bhayaanak sher se humko pana hai chhutkara, is bhayaanak!" Radio dream? Check. Of course, my mom sang 'Raina beeti jaaye' while I sang 'Is bhayaanak' but still.

That was the high point of my 'musical career'. The song never left my head. Even when we had some random minister or school inspector visiting the school and we had to wear saris and sing, "Aap aaye chaman mein vasant aa gaya, kokila gaa uthi swaagatam swaagatam", in my head, I'd be looking at him and singing, "Is bhayaanak sher se humko pana hai chhutkara, is bhayaanak!"

In high school, I did sing for inter-house and inter-school competitions, but my real exposure to singing came during my university days when I successfully auditioned for NTU's Indian musical band. For four years, I worked with highly trained people and learnt a lot. Of course, they were very supportive and tried their hardest to camouflage the shortcomings of this amateur singer. Some songs were too high-pitched for me, and nobody could hear me sing. Well, dogs, perhaps. And they literally used to lower the scale for me. (I know some of them are reading this, smiling and nodding their heads. Hi, guys!)

Then in 2005, I had a chance to audition for Antakshari. Here in Singapore, in front of Annu Kapoor. It was just the first round, so all he was asking people to do was just sing the mukhda of one song and go. He asked me the same and I started with 'Mera kuchh saamaan'. I was about to bow and leave after my mukhda but he asked me to sing another one. So I sang, 'Tujhse naaraaz nahin zindagi'. Surprise surprise, he asked for another one. So I sang, 'Tere bina zindagi se'. He seemed lost in thought for a while, and then said, "You like Gulzar songs, don't you?" I nodded. Then he said something like he didn't think I'd do justice to 'energy wale songs' and dismissed me. I didn't make it to the next round. Obviously. See, how I planted the axe firmly on my foot because of my dukhi aatma songs?

Fast-forward 10 years. Music is still forever playing in our home. I'm either listening to songs or singing them. All the time. So Xena has been exposed to it since a very young age. When she started talking, I couldn't wait for her to start singing. I'd sing the opening lines of a song and let her provide the ending word. Of course, sometimes she'd just say 'POOP' after my enthusiastic "It's the time to..?"   Of course now, she's a lot better and sings along with me. For some strange reason (and to my delight), she seems to like old songs. Mera naam Chin Chin Choo, Kajra Muhabbat Wala, etc.

Last year, I briefly entertained the idea of finally taking formal music lessons. But then the idea of learning Mandarin appealed to me more, and I only had space for one class in my water-tight schedule.

Besides, why stress myself with formal lessons when I'm having so much fun just singing, especially with my new singing partner Xena?

Friday, April 24, 2015

U is for Urdu

I absolutely adore the Urdu language. I believe that there is no language that even comes close to being as poetic as Urdu is. When I was a kid, my mom was the proud owner of a lot of ghazal cassettes. It does seem a little surprising now because frankly speaking, her Urdu was and is quite hopeless. She didn't understand a word of it, but she listened to ghazals all the time because of how soothing and melodious they sounded.

I, on the other hand, was more into the lyrics of the ghazals that were constantly playing at home. Of course, back then, there was no Google and so there was no way to find out what the lyrics meant. I had a Muslim friend in school, but she used to get very stressed whenever I'd ask her something like, "So what's the difference between ikhtiyar, ibtida, intehaa, imtihaan, istakbal and inteqal?" The look on her face translated into, "Please stop. We don't talk like that. Nobody talks like that."

So I stopped asking her. I'd write down the lyrics and try and figure out the meaning based on the bigger picture. Then I'd encounter the same words in another ghazal, which helped to either prove or disprove my hypothesis about what the word meant. Over time, I had quite a solid grasp of the language, especially the poetic parts that featured in songs. When I travelled to Pakistan, my knowledge of Urdu came in very handy. I was accepted instantly everywhere I went, and even though it was a business trip, it truly was one of my most memorable travel experiences.

Even in Bollywood songs, I could feel a stronger inclination towards those that featured Urdu poetry. Of course, now you don't get a lot of those because baby doll is sone di, and uski desi look pe mar gaye gore gore chhokre. However, there are still some new songs which I do enjoy, and lately they've been mostly songs of Arijit Singh. I suppose he gets picked for such songs, because his voice quality really does justice to poetry. I was listening to his song 'Jiya' from 'Gunday' some time ago, and I made a discovery. I'd heard it a couple of times before and each time I'd thought these were the lyrics:

Ishq ka tu haraf 
Jiske chaaron taraf 
Meri baahon ke ghere ka 
Baney aashiyan

It roughly translates into this: You're the letter (letter as in letter of the alphabet) of love, around which my arms make a home.

But when I was listening to it this time, I realised it was not 'aashiyan' ('home'). It was 'haashiya' ('margin', as in the margin on a piece of paper). The beauty of using 'haraf' and 'haashiya' together without compromising the rhythm or melody, and the analogy of her as the 'haraf' and his arms as the 'haashiya' blew me away.

However, I didn't know whom I could share this very random joy with. Viv would just look at me blankly. After all, he's the one who thought the solution to the problem in the ghazal 'Dard jab teri ataa hai, toh gila kisse karein?' was 'water'. So I was compelled to blog about this, so that readers far and wide can read this, shake their heads and go, "Say what?"

Jokes aside, if you like Urdu poetry and Bollywood, you must-must-must listen to 'Jiya' for the amazing poetry of Irshad Kamil (he has a PhD in Urdu poetry omg) and the soulful voice of Arijit Singh.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

T is for traffic

"Your link is making my blog traffic boom!" My sis-in-law sent me a message.

Ooooo blog traffic! I hadn't thought of blog traffic in ages. I used to look at it some ten years ago when blogging was really 'in' and I used to blog every single day and each post had some 50-100 comments. Her comment made me curious about my own blog's current traffic, so I went in to peek.

Here are five amazing observations I made:

Observation 1: The veshti issue
Okay, out with it. Which of you bewdas landed on my blog searching for 'veshti'? Huh huh huh? To my utter surprise, it is one of the most common search terms people have used to land here. Second only to 'sayesha' and 'sayesha on the rocks'! Don't believe me? Please refer to the screenshot below, which shows the most popular keywords that have made people land at the bar from May 2010 to April 2015.

Observation 2: Phoren readers
I'm very aware that most of my blog readers are desis, especially of the kind that live abroad. I was not surprised to see US, India, Singapore and UK in the top five pageviews by country. In fact, I'm pretty sure most of the readers are my university friends because many of them do reside in these countries. What really took me by surprise was the large numbers originating from Germany! I can't think of who in Germany could be reading my blog and why.

Observation 3: The emoticonal bond
So it looks like the most popular posts are not those where I've poured my heart out, or talked about Xena or Viv. The most popular ones are the emoticonal quotient quizzes I'd done, which concerned bewdas informed me were plagiarised so many times over that one day I just woke up and stopped caring.

Observation 4: The search is not over
Long time ago, I used to regularly share the keywords that people used to land at the bar. There were some really funny ones, such as the guy who tried to find 'Sayesha bartender Bhai' on LinkedIn.

So I took a look at the current list, and it's still quite funny what people search for before they land here. Sample these (the first one really cracked me up!):
  • govinda ke pitaji kaun hai
  • mahesh bhat ka bhanja image pic.
  • Veshti
  • bhaigiri stetus
  • last year of colz senti dialogue
  • friends in lko who bored from his lif
  • gana guess karo
  • pillsbury atta vs ashirwad atta
  • www.goda akbar lau store xxx video
  • rahul dravid autograph wallpaper
  • Gana wala song
  • Bhaigiri status
  • Guess Hindi songs from emoticons
  • where can i get pani puri in singapore
  • dadi ke marne ki jhuthi khabar aap urmi ko itna bada
  • chal chalo chalo cute baby freeze open expression images
  • mom and dad poems in hindi
  • its entertainment dialogue ringtone
  • Senti boys
  • skydiving scene in zindagi na milegi
  • Goa bhi eh
  • bhai giri stastus in hindi
  • kya mast jai life serial fainting scene
  • why should i care what other people think
  • hbd sayesha
  • men give flowers rose white bucket
  • tujhye kya lagata is takiya par bethta h
  • whts aap shayri of gulam ali sahb
  • rohini in zindagi na milegi dobara
  • jab we met dialog in wriiten
  • apun ka status
Observation 5: Who is a millionaire? (Hint: Me)
And at some point, something special happened. Quite sneakily. In the last 5 years, the bar reached a million pageviews. And I had no clue. I noticed it only now. Thank you, bewdas! A big thanks to you for reading my Ramayan-Mahabharat posts in the TLDR age of 140 characters (for the record, I'm not on Twitter; I'm not capable of stopping at 140 characters), and a bigger thanks to those who actually make the effort to comment.

And a very very special shoutout to my veshti-wearing German bewdas. Danke!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

S is for sacrifice

If you think this post is about all the sacrifices I have made as a mother, well, think again.

Last week, someone I know posted a very old photo of herself with Shah Rukh Khan. I looked at the photo and then I looked away. It was too painful.

In May 2004, the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Awards were held in Singapore for the first time. Back then, I was just two years into the workforce, and living with two female housemates, the second of whom I didn't know very well. One day, she was on medical leave and as I left for office, I popped by her room to check on her. She said she didn't know what she was going to do all day and that she was already feeling bored. So I lent her my DVD of Kal Ho Na Ho. I also put a box of tissues next to her. You know, just in case.

When I came home that day, she said a big thank you to me.

"For the movie?"

"Well yes, but mainly for the tissue box."

It was then that I noticed her red eyes and the half-empty tissue box.


And that's when we really bonded. Over SRK. Who was incidentally in Singapore at that time for the IIFA awards.

So on an impulse, we decided to go and do a night-out outside the Grand Hyatt where he was staying, and someone get a glimpse of him. The real him.

I still can't believe it, but the area outside the hotel was quite empty, and most of the 'crowd' consisted of elderly Malay ladies who didn't really know who was who, and because they sensed that I knew, they'd turn to me ask me every time a car pulled in. And I'd say, "Um... that's Ritesh Deshmukh." and they'd scream "REEETESH!" Even Ritesh, who was hardly a well-known face then, looked surprised to hear his name. You owe me one, buddy.

So we hung out all night, because that way we got to see all the stars as they came back from partying. We saw about 40 of them, and I'd blogged about it here.

But we didn't see SRK that night.

We saw him the next morning, when we went to have breakfast in the same restaurant as he was having it. With Karan Johar and Jaya Bachchan! In spite of my sleepless zombie-fied state, I was having a hard time trying to control myself. We were civil enough not to disturb them while they were eating, and only when they had stepped out, did we ambush them. Karan and Jayaji promptly vanished, and SRK was probably getting late for something.

"Can we have a photo with you, please?" My words tumbled out.

He looked at me with his trademark SRK piercing eyes and said, "I'll give you three seconds. Okay?"

Three seconds. Gulp. Not enough for us to click two photographs. It was NOT the age of selfies, remember?

We looked at each other. Okay, that was one second gone.

"Go!" I pushed her in front of me.

"Are you sure?" She asked.

"Just go."

So she did, and I took a very nice photograph of SRK and my housemate. It was one of the biggest sacrifices I'd made and I was surprised at myself. On hindsight, I didn't know why I did it. I was the bigger fan. In fact, my K post in the 2014 A-Z blogathon was about why I love him so much in spite of his horrible acting in most of his movies.

It has been more than a decade. From time to time, I think of the incident. I wonder if she even still has that photograph. I try to be large-hearted. I try to see how happy my gesture had made her. I tell myself - jab SRK dil mein hai toh photo ki kya zaroorat hai.

But at the end of the day, whenever I remember my sacrifice, I only have two words for myself.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

R is for reading

Some time last year, Xena started reading. Not just repeating what I was reading to her, or preempting the words because we'd read the book 23985789437 times, but actually using phonics to read simple words.

I'm so glad that she enjoys reading, is always excited to go to the library, and often picks a book over a toy. I'm also amazed to see that the skill of reading, something that we take for granted, also has its own steps and process.

When I look back at her journey of reading, I feel happy. I'd started reading to her when she was barely a month or two old. At first, when we gave her books, she'd just bite and chew them, but soon, she began learning how to flip the pages, she started recognising objects and characters, she started asking us to read the book to her a million times. When she had severe feeding issues and we had to resort to distraction to feed her, we didn't want to use the TV or iPad. Books came to our rescue again. (Though I do hope she starts to eat without any accompaniments and assistance soon).

I thought that I'd do up a post of videos and photos of Xena's journey of reading for my own cataloguing.

This is us, reading together, when she was about 3 months old. 

Trying to decide which page is the tastiest

Pretending to be reading

And not just baby stuff, okayyy? 

What do you mean - it's time for milk? Mama, this book is unputdownable!

When we got the bumbo seat for her, sometimes we'd give her a book...

... and she'd read for a while...

... and almost doze off if it was too boring!

Sometimes, she wouldn't eat even with a book...

But check out for appetite for girly magazines!

Yeayyy new issue!

She spent many many seconds, at times minutes, in her play yard with her books.

Some books were sad...

...while others were full of suspense.

And some were so engrossing that it didn't even matter if they were upside-down. 

Lifting the flaps of lift-the-flap books

Her high chair - the place where she reads most of her books!

Identifying the letters of the alphabet (age 1.5)

This is how we used to read until she started recognising words. (age 2.5)

Her hilarious observations in books left me in splits (age 2.5)

Listing what the very hungry caterpillar ate (age 2.5)

Using phonics to read words by herself (age 3.5)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Q is for quotes

The A-Z blog challenge has been a lot fun so far. I managed to pester quite a few friends into doing it this year. One of them even started a WhatsApp group with some of us. We are about two-thirds into the challenge, and I was just looking back at all our buzzing discussions about it. The urgency, the panic attacks, the post-posting discussions, the 'Halp! What should I write with this letter??' the 'I didn't know this about you!' the 'Yikes, it's 11:45 pm and I haven't posted', the number of times I went 'omg', etc. etc. I keep scrolling and reading and laughing and getting senti, and I thought I'd share some direct quotes about the blogathon that my friends and I have exchanged. Just so you guys get a peek at the madness that goes on behind the scenes of what might seem like smooth sailing.


Friend A - So I'm in for the blogathon! Just convinced Friend B to do it too.
Me - Hey, I thought I convinced her!
Friend A - Ok maybe it's you.
Me - Lol hahahaha. I wrote her a loooong email asking her to blog okayyyyy!
Friend A - Ok you win. Because I only WhatsApped her.
Friend A - Wait, you never wrote me a loooong email??? I'm mad now!


Friend C - Still wondering if I should do the A to Z blogathon...


Friend B - So glad you guys bugged me to do this.
Friend A - I can't decide which is more fun - writing the posts or reading others' posts!
Friend B - I want to slow down to re-read each post after April is done.
Me - We should do this twice a year!
Friend B - Hi MONICA!


Me - I'm having E jitters. I got nothing so far.
Friend A - Wait what? You're the organised one. I thought you'd have drafts lined up for the next 10 posts. I imagine you just waking up and hitting publish each morning.
Friend B - Or at least have ideas all listed out on an excel sheet.
Me - Nooooo omg! I'm dying.
Friend B - Yay, you're like us. :p


Me - Hey do you remember what I told you I shortlisted for my E post? Can't remember at all omg!
Friend C - Email.
Me - Ohhhhh right! But what about it ah?
Friend C - Lol. That you didn't say.
Me - Omg I'm dead.


Friend C - I still have to think of my H post.
Me - H is strangely difficult, isn't it?
Friend C - You should just say - H for husband. And link to his tag. 'Here you go, all the ridiculous amount of space he's occupied on this blog.'


Friend C - Do you have your I post planned out?
Me - *crying emoticon* Need to google first.
Friend C - Google what?!
Me - Google for words that start with I.


Friend B - My food posts will need at least 3 more posts to finish!
Friend A - That is cheating! You should write one Mahabharat food post and move on. Like Sayesha's Ramayan posts.
Friend B - People will TLDR and move on.
Me - What is TLDR?
Friend B - Too Long, Didn't Read.
Me - My first post was so long I didn't even bother to proofread it myself.


Friend B (on a sunday morning) - You girls still haven't posted? Haha. I can chill until then. :p
Me - Abbe sunday is off day. Don't scare me.
Friend B - Hahaha is it? Phew! Yay!!


Friend A (after we all got senti about missing one another) - We miss you too! But I'm glad we're doing this, on so many levels.
Friend B - This almost feels like we're sitting around a table and chatting.


Friend A and me (to friend D who did not take the challenge but wrote a guest post) - Why you do guest post for Friend B? Why you no do guest post for us??
Friend D - *gulp*


Friend C - Dude, I'm behind on everyone. Barely keeping up with myself. We're not even half-way through! *crying emoticon*
Me - I knowwww!
Friend C - Why are there SO MANY LETTERSSSSS??


Friend B (at 10:50 am) - O?
Friend A - Sayesha is all done. Sayesha, you make the rest of us look bad!
Me - Nooooo, I only do it in the morning because I have to get Xena ready and out, and gym and shower and blog and then start work by 10 maxxxx!
Friend A - Ok ok. Back to Friend B's question. O for?
Me - Orange? Ostracized? Ostrich? Ogre? Oh no? Offer? Oscars? Ooh la la? OJ? Om?
Friend A - Om Shanti Om.


Friend C (who is single) - If we do the challenge again next year, I'm banning Xena posts! She provides you with too much inspiration!
Me - Lollll. Well, I made her. Ahahahaha. You go make one too. Deepika Padukone says you can.


Saturday, April 18, 2015

P is for picnic

Not a lot of people know this, but I absolutely LOVE picnics. There is something so fun and relaxing about eating outdoors on a mat, that even if it's a pot luck picnic, the preparing and lugging of the food and drinks to whatever godforsaken venue you've chosen, doesn't matter.

Chinese New Year fell over a long weekend this year. And I found myself signed up for not one, not two, but THREE picnics. Three days. Three picnics. And all of them involved pot luck. I actually wondered at one point if I'd survive the hat trick picnics, or have any energy left for the third one. But all went wonderfully well and we had a lot of fun.

Picnic #1
Group: University friends
Venue: Swan Lake, Singapore Botanical Gardens

Fortunately, many of our uni gang are still in Singapore, so we keep having reunions. It is great to get together with folks you've known as teenagers, tending to kids of their own. The idea of this picnic started when a friend's preggu wife was craving aloo puri. So it was decided that the aloo puri shall be had outdoors, with 15 families, near the Swan Lake. Those who had helpers volunteered to bring the puris (imagine rolling and frying gazillions of puris by yourself!). I took aloo matar. There were several kinds of yummy aloo sabzis that day.

I'd not been to the Swan Lake area before. To my surprise, there were actual swans in Swan Lake!

The lake was also home to countless catfish, koi fish and turtles. And feeding them was allowed!

Xena, of course, went berserk with joy at the thought of feeding other living things. 

I literally had to hold her by the scruff of her neck, otherwise she'd have jumped in to swim beside them and feed them.  

She also enjoyed a game of football in the huge open spaces that the Botanical Garden is famous for.

While she chased the ball on the ground, her Poppy was practising high catches with his buddies.

We also spotted a huge monitor lizard. Yikes!

Picnic #2
Group: Neighbours
Venue: Siloso beach, Sentosa

Xena's playground connections have earned us a couple of friends in the neighbourhood. It's so great to find like-minded neighbours, isn't it? So we absolutely had to do a picnic with them too. Sentosa island had some lion dances and other performances, so we thought it would be nice to go there. And even though we knew it would be packed, we packed. It wasn't that bad though, and we found a clean and empty stretch to settle down. I'd taken quesadillas and egg rolls, and the others had got parathas and bhel puris (one of the guys mixed and dished out the yummy bhel puris on the spot! Yum.) And of course, there was alcohol. 

Xena really digs digging, so she kept herself busy. 

The sun started setting, and it was time for us to wrap up. 

Sentosa by night. Beautiful. 

On the way back, we caught a very grand lion dance. 

The drums were quite loud, but the kids enjoyed it nevertheless.

It was not called the LED lion dance for nothing!

Picnic #3
Group: Family
Venue: East coast beach

Now that the sister-in-law has finally been pulled over to the east, there is no reason for us not to get together at the beach regularly. It is literally a 10-minute walk away from our place. We have decided that no matter what, every month, we will have at least one family picnic at the beach. The first one was held on the third day of Chinese New Year. Upon Viv's request, I made 239842365 kg of tomato rice, while SIL made baingan sabzi. Her phone has a great camera so she took these awesome pictures. 

Digging tools are such a great babysitter! Look, Viv and I are actually sitting together, having a grown-up conversation!

Soon, she realised that the big party is happening on the mat, so she called us over. 

Digging with Poppy

Digging with Mama

It's not even been four months to the year and we've already had at least seven picnics. I'm looking forward to many more this year!

Friday, April 17, 2015

O is for office

I work in horrible conditions.

My office is a tiny cramped space, shared with several other objects (ironing board, sewing machine, Xena's books, Viv's gym equipment, a closet full of Viv's cricket clothes, an old computer table that we need to trash, random objects that Xena has decided to decorate the floor with). There is no air-conditioning, no ceiling fan, and the only source of moving air is this EuropAce standing ventilation system, which has many fancy buttons - evaporator, ion, timer, oscillate and speed - none of which are functional anymore. Except the on/off button. There is no point buying a new one now, since our home renovation will start in two weeks, and an air-conditioner and a ceiling fan will be installed. (The fact that after it's all nice and fancy, it will cease to be my office and become Xena's room is another thing.)

So yes, as I was saying I work in horrible conditions in a rundown office. I can, of course, walk to the 'pantry' to 'grab a tea' any time I want, except that when I walk into the pantry, I'm greeted by the sight of a pile of dishes that need immediate attention, and an empty tea jar because the useless pantry lady (aka me) forgot to buy tea.

Like many offices, April is a crazy month for my office too. Not because of the financial year-end work though, but because I'm the only employee doing everything. And it doesn't help at all when my khadoos boss walks in when I've just settled down to do some tedious work, breathes down my neck and says, "Mama, come let's PLAY!"

Usually, due to Viv's annual trip, I plan my work for April really really meticulously. But Uncle Murphy always visits around this time of the year. Isn't that the best time ever, especially this year, with Viv travelling, and my 298472398423894 commitments (Xena, work, play dates, daily blogging, cooking, cleaning, selling furniture, donating stuff, packing to move in two weeks, organising a neighbour's baby shower, etc.)? Grrrr.

I can plan and schedule as much as I want, but I can't control the delays on the publishers' side and because, in their words, "the final publication date is, of course, immovable", I've been finding myself working crazy hours. And sometimes they change their mind and the concept itself undergoes a change because Marketing wants something else. And it's always in April that I find myself going mad. MAD.

It's also around this time that Xena, the usually super sweet angelic Xena, goes all ballistic on me. Refuses to eat, refuses to drink milk, refuses to sleep, refuses to wake up for school. And of course, refuses to let me work. Her motto is "As long as I'm awake, not an iota of Mama's work, whether it is cooking or the dishes or her writing work, shall be done."

In stark contrast, she lets Viv work all he wants. Of course, his work can all be done on his laptop and there's not much for her to pull, tear or scribble on, compared to the A2-sized hard copy proofs that I work on. So on the rare weekends that he doesn't have cricket, I lock myself in my office and let no one in. Surprisingly, if he wants to work on his laptop, she lets him. If he wants to vacuum and mop, she lets him. Grrrr again. Grrrenvy, in fact.

A few weeks ago, in the run-up leading to his trip, he said he needed to go to his office during the weekend.

"Sorry. No can do." I said. I had a big deadline that weekend.

"I'll take her with me." He said.

I laughed. I guffawed. I rolled on the floor. Then I rolled my eyes.

"You will take her to work?? To your office? You will take THIS child to your OFFICE for a whole DAY and you will get WORK done? HA HA HA."

But he said he will figure out a way to keep her occupied and so they went. I wished him good luck.

Of course, I was hoping to hear about how he couldn't get ANYTHING done, and had to get back home in two hours. And as you guessed it, that didn't happen. He sent me pictures. Pictures that made me almost fall off my desk.

Here she is, happily eating her snack at his desk. While he works.

Here she is, happily colouring. While he works. 

Here she is, posing with her afternoon milk. While he works.

Here she is, ACTUALLY DRINKING IT! BY HERSELF! While he works.

And this one just takes the cake and the icing and the whole cake box. Here she is, napping. NAPPING. IN HIS OFFICE. While he works. 

Why, Lord, why? Why him? Why not me??


Thursday, April 16, 2015

N is for nail art

In my resolutions for 2015 post, I'd mentioned that I'd like to pick up a new skill - something creative and fun. And that it was most likely going to be nail art.

So yes, I've started. However, I've not really had the chance to delve too deep into it. I understand that YouTube and Pinterest have thousands of videos and images on the subject, and if some day I have the time, I will most definitely go through them and pick up new ideas. But at the moment, I've been doing basic stuff and having fun with it. It really helps to have a willing guinea pig, aka the sis-in-law, who really doesn't mind any colour or pattern, and has made even me (someone who used to stick to pinks and maroons) more open to really quirky colours.

Therefore, it was only natural for me to think of posting some of my nail art pics for the N post.

It started with me trying to jazz up a boring pink shade on my nails on a rare afternoon with no deadlines. 

I really liked the duotone design and before I knew it, I'd bought blue and purple nail colours, which I normally wouldn't even dream of!

The diagonal lines felt a little boring, so I tried the 'cloud effect' with some dotting tools.

More clouds

I'd been sending pictures of whatever I'd been doing to the sis-in-law, who got super excited and came over right away to get her nails done. 

I did this on her nails. The silver strips were also bought online along with the dotting tools. Unfortunately, the strips didn't last more than a day (in spite of a top coat), so I went back to using only nail colours.

The next time we got together for more nail art, she wanted this polka dot design. It looked funky and she pulled it off so well!

She even wore something matching to work the next day and sent me this picture!

This is one of my favourites. I'd done this for a ladies' night out with some mommy friends (aka 'let's-throw-the-kids-at-the-hubbies-and-go-drinking'), where I was in a purple top and white capri pants. 

I like the idea of accenting just one nail and painting the rest normally. It's also easier and faster, especially because I'm still not good at painting the nails on my right hand!

Another accented design. I'm wearing my gym clothes in this picture. My nails matched them exactly. Totally unintentional!

This was me trying a marbled effect. It didn't turn out that great. I guess I need more practice.

A closer look at the marbled design

And the last one is the latest. I did it on Monday for my birthday party, to match my birthday dress!