Saturday, December 22, 2018

Watch out

So the strap of my smart watch broke and I'm really suffering because no matter what, I always track my 10K steps a day and religiously make up for any missed steps over subsequent days. It's an Actxa watch and I can't find a replacement strap anywhere. Viv thinks I should get an Apple watch but I don't want the fancy-schmancy features -- a step counter + heartbeat monitor will do just fine.

Today Xena decided to contribute to the discussion too.

Xena - Mama, I think you really need a new smart watch.

Me - I know...

Xena - I can buy you one for Christmas!

Me - You can?

Xena - Yes!

Me - How?

Xena - With my tooth fairy money!

Me - Ooh! How much do you have?

Xena - 8 dollars!

Me - Oh, so you will buy me a smart watch for 8 dollars?

Xena - Or less.

Me - Or less?!

Xena - Yeah.

Me - Errr... I don't think 8 dollars are enough to buy a smart watch.

Xena - Hmm... Maybe you can use some money from your piggy bank?
(I have a piggy bank into which I pop stray coins as and when I find them. No one, including me, knows how much money is in there.)

Me - Ooh. How much money do you think is in there?

Xena - 40 dollars.

Me - 40 dollars? Are you sure?

Xena - No. 41, I think.

Me - Oh.

Xena - Or I can make a strap for you!

Me - How?

Xena - With paper!

Me - Oh!

Xena - But you can't let it get wet, ok? Otherwise it will break.

Me - Uh...

Xena - Or we can just take your old watch and tape it to your wrist! I think that will be the best!!

Me - Okay!

Monday, December 03, 2018

Puppy love

I am at the playground with Xena and her friends. All of them are about her age. One of them, Archie*, just can't hold his excitement back. "Xena! Aiden* has been writing love letters to you!" He exclaims. She continues swinging on the monkey bars.

Seeing absolutely no reaction on her face, he turns to me, "You know, Aiden is in love with her." Not knowing what to do/say, I smile and nod. Not satisfied with my reaction either, he turns to Aiden, "Tell her! Tell her today!" Aiden is obviously not ready to tell her yet, so he doesn't say anything.

Archie looks very disappointed with the world, full of such unreactive people. He turns to me again.

"You know, Kyle* also loves her?" He gives it one more shot.

"Oh, really?' I finally say.

"YES." He leans back on the slide, finally feeling validated.

It's getting dark and I tell Xena that it's time to go home. "Bye," she says to everyone.

Aiden starts walking with us. "Xena, I have to tell you something. I am in love with you."

Yep, he declares it right there, right in front of me. I approve of this boy.

Xena nods wisely. The boy doesn't ask or wait for a reply. You can tell he expects nothing. I approve of this boy more. We bid goodbye and part ways.

All this is new to me. I am not sure I am equipped to handle this. I feel old. I can't remember how my head worked when I was 7. Should I ignore this as child's play? Should I talk about it? I decide to be Captain Obvious and simply repeat what we already know.

"So Xena, Aiden is in love with you. And Kyle too, according to Archie." I say casually as we walk home.

"No Mama, Aiden is in love with me. Kyle loves me. So it's okay."

"Oh okay. Are you in love with either of them?"


"Are you in love with anyone?"



"You and Daddy."

"Oh. All right, then."

*names changed to protect the identities of the kids, one of whom Xena might bring home to introduce to us one day, who knows

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Leading Bhai example

They say that couples that are together for too long start to behave like each other. Sometimes, the effects last even after they split.

Today, I saw the proof.

Why does this... 👇🏽

...remind me of this? 👇🏽

Bhai-Kat this song, I say!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Thinking out of in the box

Because eating at the dining table is too mainstream...

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Rolling with it

As promised, here's part II of my earlier post.

Over the last few months of skating, I have encountered a lot of interesting people. This post is about them.

The bus folks
So Xena and I take a bus to the beach where our skating rink is. Ideally, we should be skating from home all the way to class but we are not yet comfortable with the idea of that, given that there are several roads, slopes and an underpass we need to cross. So we take the bus, lugging our skates, safety gear and helmets along. I have a skating rucksack which holds my gear and helmet and has two slings on the outside for the skates to hang from. The whole thing is about 7 kg in weight, and then there's Xena's bag with her skates and gear, bringing the total weight I carry on my back to about 10 kg. Ow ow ow. (Xena carries a small bag with our water bottles and a snack box.) We get a lot of fascinated stares from people as we get in, carrying all that. Most think I am a soccer mom taking my kid to a class before they spot the giant skates and do a double-take. And because I'm mostly dressed in tropical Singapore's national attire (shorts, a T-shirt and flip-flops), I do not look like a skater at all. It's very amusing to see the looks on their faces as they try to figure out what's going on.

The magician teacher
When I was in levels 1 and 2, the instructor who taught me was so fantastic, I can easily call him one of the best teachers I've ever encountered. You know how the difference between loving something and hating something can just be that one teacher? Yeah, he's that guy. Extremely patient, totally goofy, and with the eye of a hawk, he can point out little technicalities that make a hell of a difference -- bend your left knee a little, speed up a bit more before you do the move, lean to the right, keep your feet parallel, etc.  I think of him as a magician. Here I'd be, struggling with something, and next thing I thing I know, one quick glance and 4-5 words of wisdom from him and I'd have mastered the move. 

The badass-hardass teacher
My current teacher, who is like a stunt artist on skates, is a toughie. Even though he's probably the youngest of them all (he's still studying), he's the most no-nonsense. Maybe that's why he prefers teaching the higher levels; he simply can't deal with the nonsensical chatter that accompany 3-4-year-olds. Almost all the students (including me) are a little scared of him so when I moved to level 3 and was assigned to him, I was terrified. But I got over it after about two lessons. Somehow a mutual trust had been established. And now I can totally appreciate his teaching style too. It works well for me. He doesn't praise; a 'not bad' or a thumbs-up is all he will flash your way to tell you you're not a complete disappointment. But he's a total rockstar.

The dadsplainer
Some of the kids' dads stand around the rink to watch the lessons. While most are content just watching or proudly taking photos and videos, some will start shouting out instructions to the kids. It really infuriates me when these folks try to dadsplain over the instructor's teaching. Some have the audacity to literally walk into the rink in the middle of the lesson to deliver their lecture! Some leave their kids in tears. (Come to think of it, I've not encountered any momsplainers though. Hmmm.) I can see that sometimes a third person's perspective can help see where you're going wrong but that perspective doesn't need to come in right in the middle of the lesson.

The hubsplainer
Not that there are a lot of adult female students in the rink, but once in a while you do encounter one who's trying her best to learn but simply cannot because the hubsplainer thinks that he's such a good virtual skater that he knows better than the instructors. Someone ask these guys to join the lessons themselves. I think hubsplainers are the main reason why we don't see many mommy skaters. If Viv ever hubsplained to me in the middle of my lesson, I think I'd bop him on the head with my helmet.

The curious mommies
I cannot tell you how many times I have been approached by mommies of my little classmates asking about my experience with the lessons. Most of them seem very keen to join the classes but sadly, it never happens. Some cite age, some kids, some a hectic schedule, some fear. I want to bop them (lightly) on the head too and say, "You want to do it, right? JUST DO IT!"

The 'which state in India are you from?' ladies
Okay, so if there is any group that I want to bop on the head more than anyone else, it HAS to be these Indian ladies. I have always found it irritating when people you've literally just met want to know which state you're from. (Surprisingly, not a single man has ever asked me that; it's always the ladies) I feel like it's an attempt to bracket you in some kinda category before they get to know you. For me, the state is insignificant and maybe more like a 4th date kind of a revelation, if at all. And it has to come up organically, if at all. My face, name and accent probably don't betray any particular state and I guess it drives them mad. But how does it matter which state I am from?? It's infuriating when someone approaches to ask me how I got started on skating and as I'm talking, I can see the gears inside their head turning, not absorbing a bit of what I am saying, but just wondering if I'm from the North or the South or the East or the West or the Centre. And as soon as I'm done talking, they smile and ask, "Which state in India are you from?" Most of the time I immediately drop my friendly demeanour and say, "I'm from Singapore. I came here as a teenager and it's been 20 years now. So yeah, I'm from here." And then they will say, "No, but BEFORE you came here, which state were you from?" Gaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh! And that's when I skate far, faaaaar away from them.

The fast kid
So there is a 7-year-old boy in my class who is the fastest kid I have ever seen on skates. He's also in level 3, so a lot of times we have our lessons together. Sometimes, towards the end of the lesson, the instructors conduct fun games for the kids to improve their speed and reaction time, like catch or ice and water (if you get caught by an instructor, you freeze till another kid comes along to thaw you) or polar bear (a hilarious game that tests the skill of falling safely; as soon as an instructor approaches, you fall and get into a crouching position with face, hands and legs tucked in; you basically turn yourself into a polar bear camouflaged in the snow so you can't be caught). Sometimes, by virtue of being an adult, I'm made part of the catching team. Initially I was quite slow but I started getting better and ONE DAY I CAUGHT THE FAST KID OMG. I was so pleased with myself. That was the highlight of my day. Can I put it on my skating resume, pretty please?

The blessing uncle
Okay, this is really cute. One of my little classmates' grandpa had come to watch the lessons. During the break, he came over to me, put his hand on my helmeted head and said, "I want to bless you for what you are doing and how well you are doing it for your age. I know many ladies would like to do this and you're setting a good example. I'm really happy that you are doing this." I was a little amused at the "for your age" bit, but I know he meant well.

The people who mistake me for an instructor
As we learn right next to the beach, we get a big audience — joggers, cyclists, dog-walkers, couples on dates, families on beach outings, etc. Many people are curious and fascinated about the lessons and want to find out more. Sometimes, they mistake me for an instructor and start asking me about the class schedule or fees. Normally I tell them that I'm just a student (getting very amused looks) and point them to an actual instructor, but there was this one time everyone was busy and I was taking a water break when this couple approached me to ask about fees and stuff. So I just skated over to get a flyer and gave them all the details and answered all their questions! Muahaha!

Roller-skating uncle
Saved the best for last. Whenever I feel too old in class, I look at this 70-something uncle who glides into the rink on his old-styled roller skates, puts on Chinese classical music, wows everyone with a dance routine and glides back out. What an inspiration!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Wheels in motion

So Xena started inline skating lessons a few months ago.

But this post is not about Xena's skating.

It's about mine.

Xena's skating lessons happen during the weekends next to the beach, and initially I'd arm myself with a book, or take photos and videos of her, or chit-chat with other parents to pass the time while she was in class. Viv would be away at cricket most weekends anyway.

Then one day, as I sat there, my eyes alternating between Xena in class and a (terrible) book I was reading, I asked myself, "Why am I here when I could be there?"

I knew that the minimum age for learning was 3. But was there a maximum age? The lessons looked like they were obviously catered to very young kids, with plenty of fun and games all around. In fact, the instructors do not even go by their real names, but nicknames that feature various food items! You can only imagine how much more fun and approachable a teacher would be if they asked you to call them Watermelon instead of Walter. Some of the instructors, by the way, are about half my age so it was with a beating heart that I asked if I could try it out. They were very welcoming and told me that they taught all ages.

So I went for a trial to check it out. And as soon as I got the skates and safety gear on and started skating, I knew I was exactly where I was meant to be. Even though I was nervous and wobbly, I was high in the clouds. That feeling was incredible and something I still find hard to describe. Maybe it was the first time since Xena was born that I was doing something that was for myself and myself only. Maybe because at that moment, I was no longer Xena's mom. I was nobody's nothing. I was just a person trying to learn something new and fantastic.

Once you learn the basics (rolling, falling safely, etc.), there are five levels you need to pass. There are several skills/stunts in each level, and as you progress, the skills/stunts get harder and harder. However, the process is extremely rewarding. One weekend, you're staring in total awe as your instructor demonstrates something really cool, telling yourself, "Oh goodness, I'm NEVER gonna be able to do THAT!" and the next weekend you're casually doing the exact stunt while chit-chatting with your 4-year-old classmate. It's the perfect combination of awesome teachers and a very sincere student who just really wants to learn. We've all heard the phrase 'practice makes perfect' but this is the first time that I am literally seeing it work. Skills that I struggle with initially become better with practice. The difference is visible, it's measurable. Of course, it's only been a few months, and there is still lots to learn, but I am so excited that it shows. I wait for weekends, I have dreams of skating, I go through techniques in my mind whenever I can. It's like falling in love — I'm constantly thinking about it. And I get depressed on Sundays (not about Monday; I love my work) because the next skating lesson is soooo, soooooo far away.

The classes are split not by age, but by skill level. It's mostly kids, of course, and a few stray adults who turn up once in a while. It was a little strange initially when I was in level 1 and the only adult in the class. Some of the kids would turn and give strange looks to "someone's mommy who has suddenly put on skates and gear and joined the class" while others would earnestly ask if I was one of the instructors. But now, we're all friends and even the littlest ones address this 'classmate' of theirs by her first name.

Except for this one little girl who doesn't. She's not 100% comfortable with me being in the same class, and things took a turn for the worse when both of us passed level 1 on the same day.

That little girl is my kid, Xena.

"But Mama, you joined a month after I did! How could you pass level 1 on the same day as me???"

Oh boy, and here I thought I was competitive.

So I tried to explain to her that as a kid I used to roller-skate (kinda true; I did discover an abandoned pair of roller skates — the old-styled self-balancing kind — during a summer vacation at my grandparents' and that summer they became my primary mode of transport, but only from room to room and sometimes up and down the stairs), that some people already have a good sense of balance that helps (kinda true too), and that some skills are easier for adults to grasp (omg not true at all when it comes to skating), but the most important bit was that she shouldn't compete with me, or anyone else for that matter. She's coming to terms with it, but I have to keep reiterating that her only competition should be herself.

"Don't look at others. You can be inspired by them, but don't compete with them. Think of what you were last weekend. Are you better than that today? If not, work on it." I tell her. She nods. Hopefully she will take my advice. Because this advice will help her loads in adulthood.

In a way, I think this whole skating thing has been a life-altering thing for her as well. It teaches her perseverance, resilience and helps her deal with failure (some skills are really hard and can take weeks and weeks to master and you will fall, and fall, and fall again). It helps her see that age is just a number, as there are kids tinier than her who are at higher levels. And very importantly, it helps her see me as a completely separate individual and not just her mommy.

One of the other significant things that has happened is that I am learning new things about my own body. I have never been very coordinated (ask me to sing but never to dance!) or flexible, and I have a bad knee from a fracture (which actually happened 20 years ago but it was so bad that it still hurts sometimes when I skate or walk uphill on the treadmill). So all these years, I have always slightly favoured the bad knee. However, the thing with skating is that you can only pass a skill if you can demonstrate it using both legs. There are literally checkboxes marked 'left' and 'right' that the instructors will tick for each skill. So that has pushed me into pushing my bad leg a bit more than I usually do, with some very unexpected results. For some skills, I have found myself performing better with my bad leg in charge, something that has surprised even my instructors. Very interesting.

However, I remain the extremely practical person I've been, and constantly tell myself that being surrounded by kids doesn't mean I am one and that I can throw caution to the wind and go ahead and break a few bones like it's no big deal. Like the mommy of my 6-year-old classmate gently reminded me, "Old bones heal slow."

So I try my best to remind myself of my old bones when I feel a little too adventurous.

It's not easy, to be honest.

My first time doing a "fish" — a basic slalom (obstacle) move 

Mommy and baby out for an Urban (skating on the roads)

Stay tuned for part II of this post, where I'll introduce you to the weird and wonderful types of people I have encountered in my two months of skating lessons. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

This job stinks!

This afternoon, we were preparing for Xena's Hindi exam. One of the topics is 'occupations' and the list has a lot of words that we don't really use in our daily lives, no matter how much we converse in Hindi. Words like kumhaar, kisaan, darzi, dhobi, gwala and halwaai hold no meaning whatsoever for kids living in Singapore. So Xena was struggling a little, trying to remember all of them.

Me - Okay, what is darzi?

Xena - Uh... postman?

Me - Nope. That's daakiya. What is darzi?

Xena - Uh... I don't know...

Me (showing a sewing action) - Look! What am I doing?

Xena - Sew...

Me - Correct!

Xena - So darzi is... a... 

Me - Yes?

Xena - I know! A SEW-ER! 

Monday, September 10, 2018

Nailed it

So we have been attempting to grow our own cherry tomatoes (Xena calls them cherry tommy plants) with a moderate level of success. We planted seeds that grew into four plants (christened Tommy, Tammy, Timmy and Tom by Xena) and so far we have harvested 3 gorgeous tomatoes, while 3 more are ripening on the plants.

We have also been trying our hand at composting in order to reduce waste and 'create soil' for our tommies. The other day, Xena and I were talking about the Singapore landfill situation and what we can do about it. We tried to think of all the non-recyclable things we throw and whether they can go into our compost bin instead.

Xena - Ooh Mama, can we add cut fingernails to our compost bin??

Me - YES! (Yeah, I had come across this when I was researching composting.)

Xena - Ooh. I have a GREAT idea. Let's have a small box in which all three of us put our nails after we've cut them. Once the box is full, we can add it to our compost pile!

Me - Err... sure! A bit gross but hey, anything for the planet, yeah?

Xena - Yeah! And you know what we can call that box?

Me - Uh... what?


Me - ...

Xena - Like mailbox? NAILBOX. Ha ha ha!

Me - :|  

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Flight of fancy

Xena wanders into my room, holding her bowl of pasta that she's been struggling with for about 45 minutes. I'm taking a break from my work, so she eyes my work chair, places her bowl on it, rolls it over, places a regular chair in front of it and sits down. I'm ironing shirts.

Xena - Mama, look! I'm sitting in an airplane, eating my airplane food.

(Ouch. That's a below-the-belt blow to my cooking.)

Me (*in full parent mode*) - Oh really? But why aren't you belted up?

Xena (quickly grabs a pillow from my bed and places it across her chest) - Now I am belted up!

Me - Good.

Xena - Mama, you're the captain of the plane.

Me - Hmmm... And why is the captain of your plane standing up and ironing clothes inside the plane?

Xena (thinks) - No, Mama, the buttons on the shirt you're ironing are the buttons to fly the plane!

Me - Ah ok ok.

Xena (watches me turn the shirt over) - And when you turn it over, the plane changes in direction.

Me - Nice.

Me (watching her take her time with her lunch) - Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. As we are going through some turbulence, you need to quickly finish eating your lunch.

Xena (giggles and takes a bite) - Oh, I like the announcement. Can I announce too?

Me - Ok. What are you going to announce?

Xena - Captain of the plane, this is your passenger speaking. There is a lost diplodocus on this flight. Please help to find it.

Me - But how can a diplodocus fit into a plane?

Xena - It's a tiiiiny diplodocus.

Me - Ok. Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. I have been informed that there is a lost diplodocus on this flight. If you spot it, please inform a flight attendant.

Xena (rings the 'bell' and looks at me) - *RINGGGG*

Me - Wait. I'm the pilot AND the flight attendant?

Xena - Yes.

Me - Ok. Hello, ma'am. You rang the bell? Did you happen to spot the lost diplodocus by any chance?

Xena - I *am* the lost diplodocus!

Me - Oh, you are?

Xena - Yes.

Me - Ok, let me go inform the captain.

Xena - Ok.

Me - Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. I have been informed that the diplodocus has been found. Does anyone know how it got into my flight in the first place?

Xena - The captain forgot that she had brought along her own pet diplodocus.

Me - Oh, I have a pet diplodocus now? And that's you?

Xena - Yes.

Me - And why are you on this flight?

Xena - To help you.

Me - Help me? What can you do to help me?

Xena - I can change into a dog!

Me - You can change into a dog?

Xena - Yes. Woof!

Me - You're a dog now? And why are you in the flight?

Xena - To find dangerous things in the flight.

Me - Like what?

Xena (points at her towel hanging over a chair) - Like that.

Me - That is a dangerous object?

Xena - Yes.

Me - It's a towel.

Xena - Oh yes, I forgot that it's my own towel.

Me - Hmmm... this dog and its owner don't have very good memory now, do they? One forgets she brought along her pet diplodocus to work and the other thinks its own items are dangerous objects.

Xena - Hehehe yeah...

Me - Ok, so what else does this dog do?

Xena - The dog has ice powers and it can make a person who is feeling hot feel cooler, and it can sniff very well and also hear all the bad guys' plans.

Me - But how will it tell anyone about the plans? It's a dog.

Xena - It can talk a bit. Like woof woof hello woof woof!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Catch-up #12

Hello, bewdas and bewdis!

I usually do a catch-up post right after I receive a concerned email from a bewda or two asking why I've fallen off the face of the Earth. So thank you, A G, for your email and getting me back to this page. Sometimes, even the most regular bloggers need a little nudge (or a kick in the ass) to get going.

So I thought I'd do a catch-up on what's been happening.

- We got back from a holiday in the Gold Coast a couple of weeks ago and it's officially my new favourite Aussie holiday destination! I'm currently trying to update my travel blog with the details. However, I'm also inundated with deadlines this month, so everything is in a mess at the moment. I hope to sort it all out soon.

- Speaking of holidays, someone please suggest a nice holiday getaway for (a) Northeast India and (b) Kerala. These two have been in my travel bucket list for too long and I don't know where to start. We will only have 3-4 days, so ideally I'd like to focus on only 1 or 2 cities at the most instead of trying to bhatko firo everywhere with a map and a bag of thumbtacks.

- Like the rest of the world, we had been following the ordeal of the Thai boys stuck in the Chiang Rai cave. Every single day, Xena would come back from school and ask me if there was any update on their situation and I would tell her whatever I'd read. We would then talk about how the kids must have felt in that dark cave with no food and little hope, and how they'd have coped. My head is still reeling at how the whole thing played out. Absolutely mind-blowing. I think I will remember this as one of the significant world events that happened during my lifetime. Something to tell the grandkids.

- I organised a 'back to school' reunion for our batch of university friends as this year, we complete 20 years in Singapore! 16 of my batchmates turned up, and one of them even flew in from India just for this. It was unbelievable walking down memory lane with the same people, but two decades later. Two decades. Man. I can't believe it. Sometimes I wonder if coming to Singapore as a teenager was written in my stars so I could successfully carry out the whole 'do Engineering but don't be an Engineer' thing in peace without getting any Sharmaji ka Engineer-MBA ladka talk from concerned relatives and neighbours and watchman bhaiya and doodhwale chacha. Or maybe it was the kaaynaat plotting for Viv and me to meet. (We'd never have met if we hadn't gotten the same scholarship to come study here.) Or maybe it was just for KK hospital to give me a second life. Whatever it is, these twenty years have been spectacular, full of ups and downs and laughs and madness and I wouldn't change any of it.

- I watched Sanju and was very disappointed. Other than Ranbir nailing Sanju's looks, there wasn't much to the movie. Why do they call these things biopics when they change names, change storylines and totally omit important details of the person's life? Not to mention that I wanted to slap every single female character in the movie. Why are they so badly written? Why didn't Anushka, Sonam and Dia roll their eyes at the script and go, "Thanks, but no thanks"? Also, you expect so much from Rajkumar Hirani that when he starts going down the Imtiaz Ali path, it's very disappointing. I read somewhere that he's writing MunnaBhai 3 now, though a trailer had released some seven years ago! Guess that's abandoned now. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

- I saw the trailer of Dhadak and no, no, no no no and no. Ishaan shows promise, but Jahnvi no no, no, no, no no no. Call me harsh, but no, no, no no no. Maybe the movie will prove me wrong, but if not, Jahnvi should stop herself before she goes down the Abhishek Bachchan path, and do something else with her life that she's good at and that she enjoys. I have been told that the Marathi original Sairat is very good and I'm thrilled that it's on Netflix. Will catch it when I get a breather.

- Meanwhile, we started watching Sacred Games on Netflix on a friend's recommendation, and boy, is it addictive. Kinda like Da Vinci Code meets Game of Thrones. We have watched only a few episodes though, so don't post any spoilers! And I know Radhika Apte is getting rave reviews for her performance, but I don't know why I don't get the RAW agent wali feel from her. (Not that I know any real RAW agents, but still.) I keep thinking of Sushmita Sen in Samay and how she came across as such a strong character and how I'd have loved her or someone with that kind of powerful presence to play this role. But maybe there's a twist somewhere about why she is the way she is, and I'll be a convert once the season ends.

- In completely unrelated news, Xena and I have joined inline skating lessons and there is so much to say about it that it will need a whole other post. Soon soon!

Until then, be good. But not too much, ok?

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Happy Meal

We were having breakfast at McDonald's by the beach.

Viv (to Xena) - When you're in secondary school, you can work here during your holidays.

Xena (excited) - Really??

Viv - Yes. And Mummy and I will come here and you can serve us food.

Xena (thinking) - Oh, I cannot serve you food.

Viv - Why not??

Xena - You will have to give me a kiss and a hug first.

Amen to that. 😃😍

Friday, May 18, 2018

Going loony

No no, don't go by the title of the post. Though it sounds very similar to my previous post's title, I'm not about to inflict another stunning "song" on you. This post is about entirely something else.

Like almost the whole world, I was a big fan of Hergé's Tintin comics as a kid. Well, even now for that matter. The only difference is that now I know that the author's name is not pronounced 'herj' like I did as a kid, but air-zhay.

I couldn't wait for Xena to get started on Tintin. So when I found out that a neighbour was giving away a lot of books, including five Tintins, I JUMPED. Not just with indignation that someone should be giving away their Tintins, but also with excitement. You see, my Tintin collection is probably still at my parents' house in India and considering the number of times my sister and I had devoured them as kids, I don't think they are in a state to be used by Xena. So I JUMPED and got the Tintins from my neighbour.

With a flourish, I handed them to Xena. I waited with bated breath for her to fall in love with them instantly.

She read a page and a half and then returned them to me.

"I don't understand anything." She declared.

Of course. I should have known.

Even though they are comics, I'd momentarily forgotten how grown-up they are. There is a lot of geography and politics and social commentary and other elements I was unfairly expecting a 7-year-old to grasp on her own. So I told her how much I used to love the books as a kid, and read one out to her. It took us about an hour to get through about 10 pages because I was pausing and explaining literally every dialogue and every scene, and also answering questions like "Is this a bad guy? Is that a good guy? Why does Captain Haddock love whiskey?"

So over a few days, we read and re-read all the books together. Slowly, she started to laugh at the parts that I had laughed my guts out when I was a kid. It started to feel like a worthwhile effort. She would giggle whenever Thomson and Thompson made an appearance, or sympathise with poor Snowy and the number of accidents he had.

"Mama, Snowy is not really talking. He's a dog. He can't talk. But he can think. The speech bubbles are showing what is is thinking, not what he is saying." She 'explained' to me. I nodded.

And now, finally, she's on her own. Consuming Tintins at such an alarming rate that the library can't keep up. Thankfully, like me, she's also re-reading them a lot.

Last week, I popped by the library and got her 'Explorers on the Moon'. Unfortunately, they didn't have the prequel — 'Destination Moon'. Nevertheless, she was thrilled to see a new one. We have been reading it together because it has way more complex concepts than she has gotten used to. And because she hadn't read 'Destination Moon', she needed a lot of background information.

The other day, Viv was reading it to her while I was making dinner and a thought struck me. Did Hergé actually write the two Moon books before the 1969 Moon landing? As a kid, I had never really given it a second thought, but now I was dying of curiosity. So I flipped to the first page to see the year of copyright and I almost fell down in shock.

Not only had Hergé written the books before Neil Armstrong and co. got to the Moon, he had written it even before the Space Race had started, even before Sputnik I had gotten to space! A quick Google search revealed that the Moon books were printed in strips between 1950 and 1953, and converted to books in 1954. I'm still reeling from the accuracy shown in the books, given that space travel had not started, and people didn't know much about the Moon, and there was no Google.

Even though he had consulted aeronautics experts in order to write the books, a lot of it was his own imagination and extrapolation of things people had not seen or experienced, e.g. the details on the Moon, the blobs of Captain Haddock's whiskey floating inside the spacecraft and how astronauts on the Moon would be 'hopping' instead of walking.

What a genius.

And oh, I also found out that after the Apollo 11 landing, Hergé sent Neil Armstrong this picture as a gift. Hilarious!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

You drive me crazy

You know how some people enter your lives and change it forever? I had that happen to me recently.

So a bewdi of the bar emailed me sometime ago with the subject 'Not a stalker'.

I found it and the rest of her email hilarious. After exchanging a few emails, we met in person a few weeks ago and bonded over Bollywood crap and motherhood woes. I wasn't even all that surprised to know that she's from Bangalore. My blog and Bangalore really do have some pichhle janam ka nata, even though I have never lived in the city. In fact, the majority of my inner circle in Singapore is comprised of Bangalore folks that I met through my blog.

I was fascinated to discover that her store of random Bollywood trivia far surpasses mine. And then I found out that it's not just limited to Bollywood. She also sent me a video, which has changed my life forever. Which, if not shared here immediately, would be a grave injustice to inhumanity.

I am proud and honoured to present the life-altering song 'You are a doctor; I am a driver'. I can assure you that Vennu 'It's my life whatever I wanna do' Mallesh can't hold a candle to 'legendary producer, director, musician and singer Mr. Rajkumar'. (Not my words; this is exactly what the YouTube description says.) However, it may come close to the 'If you come today it's too yearly' song by the other legendary Rajkumar (who, btw, is definitely a doctor and not a driver).

Here you go. This kind of driver a day can really keep the doctor forever away.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Billions of blistering Bollywood barnacles

I was working on my computer with some random 90s' songs playing in the background. Xena was doing her homework.

Thanks to Youtube's autoplay feature, suddenly 'I am very very sorry tera naam bhool gayi' from Chand Ka Tukda started playing.

Xena started bobbing her head to the beats. All of a sudden, she stopped and looked up.

"Mama, this song..."


"Signora Bianca Castafiore can sing this to Captain Haddock!"  

Sunday, May 06, 2018

I'm shook

Every Monday morning, after I pack Xena's snack box, I stick a little sticky note on it. It usually features a random drawing with a speech bubble wishing her luck for a test, or just to say hello from mommy.

(Hey, don't judge. I drew these at 6 in the morning, ok?)

She really looks forward to my notes and from what she tells me, some of her classmates do too. She diligently brings the notes back and gives me constructive feedback on whether the drawings were cute or not, and what I can do to improve them. Sometimes she asks me to explain things, like what the motion lines that I sometimes draw around the arms and legs of the characters indicate. 

Yesterday, I was looking through one of her classroom workbooks that the teacher had sent back. She had to write three words ending with -ook, and draw a picture to show one of them. I was so amused (and impressed) to see that though she could have easily drawn 'cook' or 'book', she chose to go off the beaten track and drew 'shook' using the motion lines we had discussed.

Takes right after her dad, I can see.

Monday, April 30, 2018

The swan song


April has ended, and it has done so on a bittersweet note.

Doing the A-Z blogathon this year was a super fun ride, and I know I'll miss thinking of and hunting for crazy songs to regale you with. At the same time, I'm also relieved that it is over. Because it sure was exhausting. I was battling multiple deadlines at work, Xena had lots of assignments and tests to prepare for, and with Viv gone on his annual teerth-yatra business trip to Vegas, and me having to manage everything, it was not easy. April never is, and I ask myself every year why I do this and whether it would be considered cheating if I simply did the blogathon in another month instead. (Yes, it would be.)

But this year's A-Z blogathon felt different. I know it doesn't make sense, but it felt easier as well as more difficult to come up with songs rather than random thoughts for the 26 letters. I also picked up the amazing millennial skill of gif-making, which I am still so excited about that I want to go put it on my resume.

In the last one month, I have watched wayyyy more bad songs than anyone should ever have to. And that too, multiple times before deciding they were worthy, and then multiple times again when creating the gifs. Yes, I am scarred for life.

And YouTube is not helping. My current YouTube 'recommended for you' list is mortifying. If anyone saw it, they'd look at me, tsk, shake their heads and walk away.

Another side effect was that the songs would get stuck in my head, and even if I woke up in the middle of the night to get a glass of water, my brain would be humming 'Gali gali mein pani hai' or 'Barah maheene line mari'. Whenever I'd be in a cheerful mood, suddenly I'd hear 'O happy in my heart dil dance maare re' in my head. And it's not just me. My lovely songs have touched many lives. When Viv came back, I made him watch the Dreamum Wakeuppum song, and 15 minutes later, I heard him singing to himself, "Dreamum, wakeuppum, breakfast mein uttappam".

The song that got really badly stuck in my head was the susu song. I had to literally shut my mouth so I wouldn't end up singing it aloud — Xena would pick it up in a flash and share it at school, especially in Hindi class and I'd be that mother that corrupted an entire class of kids.

There were some songs that didn't make it to the list for emotional reasons. For example, there are several Sridevi songs that would neatly fit in this blogathon, but I just couldn't get myself to make fun of her songs. Not that I am a fan, but it's just too early.

There are so many other songs that didn't make it for various reasons, and I'm wondering if I should do this for next year's blogathon as well. I can't let these precious finds go to waste. They have to be shared with the world, especially with the folks whose lives have not been touched by these gems. Like a friend said, "Yeh kaunse patthar ke neeche ke khopche se did you dig these songs out?"

Thank you all for your emails, comments, messages and encouragement. They meant a lot to me and kept me motivated throughout the blogathon. I will now go and respond to all the blog comments, after which I plan to go into hibernation for a while and then focus on updating my travel blog.

I also need to immediately go and listen to a LOT of normal songs so that my YouTube recommended list goes back to its old glory. Coke Studio, here I come.

Thanks for the love, bewdas and bewdis. I will miss you like mango.

PS: Btw, do let me know which songs touched you in particular.

Z is for 'Zindagi main tujhi par lutaunga'

No, I have not forgotten the promise I made in my 'Gali gali mein pani hai' song. How could I end the blogathon without a song from the so-bad-it's-good Jaani Dushman: Ek Anokhi Kahani? In fact, how could I even think of ending a blogathon like this without a naagin song?

For the uninitiated, Jaani Dushman: Ek anokhi Kahani is a naag-naagin movie from 2002, starring...

[let me take a deep breath for this]

...Akshay Kumar, Manisha Koirala, Sunny Deol, Sunil Shetty, Aftab Shivdasani, Sharad Kapoor, Sonu Nigam, Arshad Warsi, Armaan Kohli, Aditya Pancholi, Sharad Kapoor, Atul Agnihotri, Jaspal Bhatti, Rambha, Raj Babbar, Amrish Puri and Johnny Lever.

Yes, you read that right. Basically, the producers just went around ringing a bell and yelling, "Role le lo, role le lo!"

This song is a love song between our Naag and Naagin. They are somewhere up on a mountain.

The fog clears, and we are introduced to producer ka beta Armaan Kohli, also our main Naag-man.

Check out his naag-eyes.

Manisha Koirala, our Naagin, is singing 'Aaa jaaaa', though the background reminds me of Frozen's 'Let it go'.

And here are our Naag-Naag-Naagin on heaven's door.
(Not my original joke btw; read 'naag-naag-naagin on heaven's door' in some joke/meme somewhere and fell down laughing)

This movie had a huge VFX budget, and the producers made sure they got every penny's worth. 

The number of background changes in this song is mind-boggling. You name it, you see Naag-Naagin dancing there. 

After dancing on many, many substrates, they finally reach the one that will bring them their doom. 

They decide to dance on top of a cave, not realising that...

Right under them is a poor sage, aka Amrish Puri, trying to meditate. 

But how can he, with these two dancing like this? 
Oh boy. Mogambo khush nahin hua.

Enjoy this song, and after enjoying it, please go and enjoy the movie too. It is amazing and has amazing scenes like this. 

I will go so far as to say that you can't call yourself a true blue Bollywood fan if you have not watched Jaani Dushman: Ek Anokhi Kahani. 

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Y is for 'Yaad sataaye teri neend churaaye'

Today's song has a strong social message.

It teaches you that you can be anything you want to be.

No, wait. Let me rephrase that.

It teaches you that you can be anything you want to be — as long as your bae is agreeable to spending her life doing nothing but dancing in apsara costumes for you.

The song is set at a beach, with ladies in colourful costumes, dancing amidst carefully balanced colourful pots, carefully balanced cardboard sitars and random background explosions involving leftover colours from Holi.

No, seriously. Check this out.

A David Dhawan movie featuring hero no. 1 and heroine no. 1, and no budget for real sitars??

Anyway, so our heroine starts a random hugging dance with her cardboard sitars, waiting for our hero...

...who has come running to the beach... right after his convocation. 
(No, she didn't attend his convocation. Phir dance kaun karega?)

And because he is Govinda, his degree scroll is.... a flute. 

Our heroine has been told, "Jab tak tere paaon chalenge, Govinda ki tarakki hogi.

And she is taking it seriously. 

For it is true. 

See? He is now a navy guy. Because she never stopped dancing. 

Please take a moment to admire this bit of choreography. He literally runs away from her to do his signature step and runs back to her. Wow.

He looks all set in life, but she knows her job is not done. Gotta keep dancing. Maybe only then will be become like maybe an army officer and maybe he will marry her and she can finally stop dancing. 

Oooh, has her dream has come true? 

Nope, not yet. 

'Cos he still has the air force to conquer, you see. 

Out comes the apsara costume. If this won't get him flyin', she doesn't know what will. 

Aaaaaand... bingo!

Behind every successful man is a dancing apsara. Enjoy. 

Friday, April 27, 2018

X is for unknown (and hence you will have to put up with whatever song I put up)

Ok guys, I tried.

But there are no Hindi movie songs that start with X.

At first, I thought I'd cheat and feature that song from that movie Style and call it 'Xcuse me, kya re?' Or pick a song like 'Ek sawaal main karoon' and call it 'X sawaal main karoon', or 'Ek sapna maine dekha' as 'X apna maine dekha', but it all got a bit too... algebraic.

And then I thought — if I'm cheating, I might as well go all the way.

So I decided that X is unknown, which means this is a wild card song, which means any song will do, which means I could just pick anything from my very long 'almost made it' songs' list.

This song is from a 2012 movie called Aiyyaa, in which Rani Mukherji plays a Marathi girl obsessed with a Tamilian boy. She has bizarre dream sequences involving the two of them, such as the one featured in graphic detail in this song, a song that can only be described as Rani Mukherji's audition video for The Dirty Picture.

It's a pity that Aiyyaa released a year later than The Dirty Picture, because if this song had come out first, there was no doubt that Rani Mukherji would have been a strong contender for the role of Silk. Just check her out in the song and you'll know what I'm talking about. (By the way, isn't it delightful to see someone so out of her comfort zone and yet so comfortable in it?)

So the song starts with a normal-looking Rani Mukherji...

...before she transforms into...


If her actions are shocking you as un-Rani-esque, just check out these lyrics:

Dreamum wakeuppam critical conditionum
Hey earthum quakepum hil dul sab shakeupum
Face to faceum dharti putram
Top to baseum kama sutram

There is also talk of thunder thighs and mattering size. 

Thighsum thunderum 
Downum underum
Sizeum matterum
Thinkum wonderum

It only gets worse. 


Heart beatnum dhol peetnum
Love lust double kasht
Bada dheetnum

The two pictures below very aptly describe how many Rani fans reacted to this song. Shock and awe. Pure shock and awe. 

Yeh... body heatnum
Hot seatnum
Calling fire brigade bhi defeatnum

We must also take a moment to admire Prithviraj's mindblowing outfits in the song. Please, do not miss them. Well, I guess you can't. Even if you want to.

Enjoy this nightmareum called Dreamum Wakeupum. 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

W is for 'White white face dekhe, dilwa beating fast sasura'

Today's post is for my friend and Sayesha's bar ki longtime bewdi Sandy who messaged me at 8.51 am yesterday to politely inform me that the V song was too normal and too lovely to be in this list.

(Hey, but I never said this blogathon was for abnormal songs only! In fact, to be honest, when I embarked on the A-Z blogathon this year, I thought I'd have a mix of songs, some terrible, some great, some memories, some favourites, some anecdotes, some analyses, etc. But then the whole damned thing took a life of its own. I blame the gifs. You cannot gif a good song.)

Anyway, to make up for yesterday's 'normal' song, today I have the most abnormal song that I could possibly think of. And whattawow that it starts with W (though it is known as 'Dil dance maare' in the circles where it is, um, known).

Do not let the song title fool you. This is not a song from a Bhojpuri movie. This is very much a legit Bollywood song from a legit Bollywood movie starring no fewer than four A-listers.

Presenting from the 2008 movie Tashan, the most bizarre song we have seen/heard in recent times...

White white face dekhe dilwa beating fast sasura chance maare re
O very, o very, o very happy in my heart, dil dance maare re 
Dil dance maare, dance maare, dil yeh dance maare
Oye happy in my heart, dil dance maare re!

And here we have our lead trio, wearing three of the most ridiculous wigs to ever have been manufactured on the planet.

I see this and all I wanna say is, "Taali aur harmonium ek haath se nahin bajte, Saif."

We are also introduced to the infamous size zero butt of the one and only Kareena Kapoor.

She really looks like a Barbie doll here. And that is not a compliment.

And we have Akshay Kumar, who, um, is wearing and doing heaven knows what.

And then the three of them dance together. To the most bizarre lyrics ever. 

O can't stop my feet
Zulamwa kare hain jaalim beat

Why does this step remind me of some daad khaaj khujli ad?

And what dance step is this? Did they decide to choreograph it themselves?

The mind-blowing lyrics continue. 

Rose ke jaisan pink pink
Humre gaal gulaabi
Sky jaisan blue blue
 Tohare nain saraabi

Bhola chehra jaise moon
Kali zulfen jaise cloud
Ab na aur chhupaya jaaye
Dhadkan ho gayi very loud

Kali zulfen?? Say what?!

Can you imagine what must be going through the minds of the firang background dancers? Like WHAT IS GOING ON HERE? They are lip-syncing so they obviously have learnt the song and can understand it in snatches. This is what they'd have understood from the first stanza —"White white face beating fast chance very happy in my heart dance". 

I mean, it's nice that they have employment, but they look almost as ridiculous as our movie stars. 

Oh, here's the best part of the lyrics. 

Haan tohra dil ka theatre ma
Dil deewana boooooking advance maare re
O very o very
O very happy in my heart, dil dance maare re 

Too bad that what happened to the movie Tashan in the theatres was quite the opposite.

This one's for you, Sandy.

Baaki bewde log bhi dekh hi lo. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

V is for 'Vaada karo, nahin chhodogi tum mera saath'

I think it was the year Mom broke the news to me. Along with my heart.

She told me that Meena Kumar's dancing feet in Pakeezah belonged to Padma Khanna.


And that was my shocking introduction to the world of body doubles. And that's also when I started questioning everything I saw in the movies.

Now this song, from the 1973 movie Aa Gale Lag Ja, is a very popular and catchy song, made catchier by the fact that the two main leads, dressed up as Aladdin and Jasmine, performed the entire song on roller skates.

Or did they? *suspenseful music*

As a kid, I'd heard the song a million times on the radio (and loved it with all my heart, and still do), but seen it only once or twice. After finding out about body doubles, I'd started wondering if Shashi Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore really knew how to skate (back then, it was an otherworldly skill to me). I remembered this song last week when I took Xena ice-skating. So I made a mental note about carrying out a proper investigation into this ghotala.

So let's get cracking.

Okay, so it's obvious that he is a decent skater...

...and it's also obvious that she can't skate very well. In fact, throughout the song, you will see that she prefers to strut instead. Now the real question is -- is she even wearing skates for the struting?

Looking at her confidence in this dance move, I'd say maybe not.

And that's most definitely not her! Body double to the rescue!

But soon, you realise that okay, she can skate a bit. But thanks to the clever choreography, her amateur moves are all tucked away. Whenever she's about to fall, he comes to her rescue, and it's masked as a dance move.

And when he's not there, the bar is. 

Nothing like a bar to pick you up when you're down, eh? Any kinda bar. 

Suddenly you realise that they are actually in a skating competition. With judges and trophies and shit. 

No wonder they decide to up their game... by incorporating random acts of violence into their skating. He shoots her veil off. 

But she's not the one to take it lying down. She comes at him with a knife, but he manages to protect himself. Using nothing but his... CHEST HAIR. Take that, lady!

C'mon, get your skates on and enjoy the ride. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

U is for 'Ui amma, ui amma, mushkil yeh kya ho gayi'

As we all know, everything flies in Bollywood. Dupattas, scarfs, handkerchiefs, flimsy plotlines, everything.

But what you're about to witness, from the 1983 movie Mawaali, is one of its kind.

One, a sari flies off. No, not from a clothesline but from a person's body. Said person was alive and well and was wearing the sari at the time the incident was reported.

The 5-metre-long sari just came off her body and flew up into the sky. Just like that. Up, up and away.

It's like Draupadi and the... antiKrishna?

And here's the bigger shocker — it wasn't just anybody's sari. It was Jaya Prada's sari. Jaya Prada, whose name itself immediately brings a sari-clad bhabhi figure to mind. How Jaya Prada consented to shooting an entire song in only her blouse and petticoat is seriously beyond me.

And we also have Jeetendra, looking rather lecherously at her. 

So at first, she's feeling all conscious and has both her hands over her chest, while Jeetendra does his usual Jumping Jack routine. 

Ok, she's now feeling better and only needs one hand across her chest. 

Some more weird dancing and now both hands are off!

Of course, the lyrics offer a perfectly valid justification of this bizarre incident.

She sings: Ui amma, ui amma, mushkil yeh kya ho gayi...

He sings: Tere badan mein toofan utha toh sari hawa ho gayi!

Ah ok, that explains it. Thanks, Jeetu. 

Suddenly, she spots some clotheslines along the beach, with many many clothes hanging to dry. Wow, a buffet of sorts. So she decides to use the beach as her personal changing room...

... and models a couple of outfits for him. 

Finally, she finds and puts on a pink sari and starts dancing again. 

But her joy is short-lived. 

Vastra-haran round II happens and the furious washerwomen take off with the sari. 

She then decides to go back to her original yellow outfit. 

Okay, what's happening here? Not sure if he's trying to murder her or baptise her. 
Please also note random bikini-clad firang women splashing her. 

And finally, after much sari-free dancing and prancing...

The lajja wastra miraculously returns!
Krishna's also had it with these two, I think. Le, pehen le, please. 

And oh, in case the tune sounds really familiar, Bappi Lahiri used this as the standard for the 'Ooh la la' song in The Dirty Picture to capture the glorious '80's wala music wala feel.

I'm sari for making you watch this. 

Monday, April 23, 2018

T is for 'Tu mera Superman, tu meri lady'

This song, from the 1988 movie Dariya Dil, has to be seen to be believed.

Told ya. 

Yup, it's Govinda and Kimi Katkar, in Superman and Spidergirl outfits respectively. Just casually flying, ya know. 

And I have to clarify that is is not a superhero movie. It's just a regular movie, with some irregular moves.

"Tuuuu meraaaaa Supermannnn!" She sings.

"Tuuuu meriiiii..." He starts off and then realises he cannot say Spidergirl because she's only just wearing the outfit, you know, and doesn't really have any superpowers, and also has too much hair to fit into a Spiderman mask anyway, so he completes it with "laaadyyyy".

Yes, let's put it all together, for it is incredible.

Tu mera Superman...
Tu meri lady...
Ho gaya hai apna 
Pyaar already...

And as if this wasn't enough to undermine her, we have the following wonderful words.

She sings: Humdard hai tu, kamzoro ka hai sahara...

He sings: Tujhe mere liye ambar se gaya hai utaara...

So he's there to be hamdard and sahara to the kamzors of the world, but she's just there to hang out with him and do mid-air dances with him.

Yep, they sure do some very high-level dancing. 

And not just any dance. The most ridiculous airborne dance you can think of.

They fly in, um, all positions.

But... they are not high all the time. They also get down and dirty.

This only makes me wanna say one thing — "Gogoji, aapka ghaghra."

Oh, by the way, look at this picture closely. So Superman DOES wear a chaddi inside too. 
(Yes, your whole life has been a lie.) 

Winners of the 'Weirdest Ballroom Dance Move Ever' award. 

So the hamdard and sahara of the kamzors stops dancing when he sees a woman being assaulted...

...and comes to the rescue. And how. Whattawow.

The kamzors are thanking them, but they find themselves unable to wave goodbye without continuing their dance. It's all about keeping the momentum, yo. 

Watch it to believe it.