Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Broken record

So one day, I found myself added to my school's WhatsApp group. I didn't know such a group existed. And they didn't know that I existed on WhatsApp. Anyway, other than the very annoying 'good morning' memes, 'interesting' forwards ('drink coriander juice every day and you will NEVER get cancer') and Santa-Banta jokes, it hasn't been too bad. A lot of reminiscing. A lot of leg-pulling. A lot of laughter.

You see, my Dad moved a lot when we were kids, so I ended up going to some 7 schools in 12 years. I conditioned myself not to get too close to my classmates, because it was too heartbreaking to have to move two years later. But this was the group that I was the longest with - four years. That too, when we were in the 15-18 age range. So obviously, this is the group that knows me the best, the group that I remember the most, and connect the most to. So I got a warm welcome, and within half a day, someone shot this question at me.

"So Sayesha, do you still like toota-phoota songs?"

"Toota-phoota songs??"

"You know, the dukhi aatma kind of songs?"

"What?! When did I like dukhi aatma kind of songs??"

Before I could even protest properly, they were all nodding in WhatsApp unison. Seriously? That's how they remembered me? That's how they ALL remembered me?

And then I tried to remember. It's true that I used to sing a lot of songs back then. On demand. In competitions. Anywhere and everywhere. I tried to jog my memory and think of the songs they had heard me sing - 'Tere bina zindagi se koi', 'Tere dar par sanam...', 'Rulaake gaya sapna mera', 'Dil kehta hai chal unse mil', 'Saare sapne kahin kho gaye', etc. etc. And I had to admit that most of the songs I sang were sad, or at least kinda romantic, but sad. But it was not because I was a dukhi aatma. It was because these songs had the most amazing, heart-touching lyrics.

So I decided to stand up for myself.

"Heyyyyyy! I liked songs with meaningful lyrics, okay??? I did not sing random toota-phoota songs like 'Tum toh thehre pardesi' and all that!" I protested.

I could sense their amused smiles in WhatsApp unison.

Hmmmph.

And then it struck me. Sometimes, it's your school friends who really know you the best, who can sum you up in a way that no one else, not even you yourself, can. And sometimes, it's okay to just accept it graciously.

So yes. I like toota-phoota songs. What can you do?

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go and put my latest toota-phoota discovery called 'Tu hai ki nahin' from Roy on loop. 34798236948327043280 times.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Frozen in time

"Let it gooooooooo!"

One day, Xena came back from school, singing this at the top of her voice. I was surprised. That song was not familiar to me. So I asked her to sing the whole thing.

"Let it gooooooooooooo!" She hollered. "Kyaanadaaaaa any more!"

"What anymore??"

"Kyaaaanadaaa."

"Canada??"

"Kyaaaanadaaa."

"What's that?"

"I don't know."

"Who taught you this song? What song is it?"

"Belle taught me. It's the Elsa song."

I know Belle is her best friend at school. But who on earth was Elsa?

"Who is Elsa??"

"She's Elsa." Explained Xena, as if that was enough.

And then I found out. Elsa was some kind of princess in some kind of animated movie called Frozen. I don't really keep track of English movies all that much, and I'm definitely not a fan of animated movies. (Except for Finding Nemo. Who can hate Nemo?)

But this Elsa seemed to be a global craze among little girls. So much so that the director of Frozen Jennifer Lee has publicly apologised to parents for the song 'Let it go", which ironically the girls can't seem to let go of, even though it's been a year.

Over the next few weeks, Elsa became more and more prominent in our household. I was amazed Xena was so into her, in spite of not having watched the movie or knowing anything about it. I googled to realise that her "kyaaanadaaaa" was 'can't hold it back'. She refused to believe me. I played the song on Youtube to prove my point, but she simply refused to acknowledge that that was the Elsa song. When I persisted in my attempts to correct her, she protested saying, "But Belle says 'kyaaanadaaaa anymore'." Oh. Ok. That's settled then.

In the last few weeks, we have attended numerous Elsa-themed events and parties. I have bought her an Elsa dress, Elsa hair clips and an Elsa bus card holder. (Well, actually, it was Santa who put the Elsa card holder inside the ladybug bag he gave her for Christmas, but don't tell her that.) She also got an Elsa stationery set as a Christmas gift from a friend of mine who remarked, "I figured I couldn't go wrong with Elsa". And of course, she has already asked for an Elsa cake for her 4th birthday.

Elsa is now a household name for us. She comes up randomly in all kinds of conversations. As does her sister Anna and some kind of snowman in the movie called Olaf. Sample these:

#1
Me - Xena, why is your bag on the floor?
Xena - Because I'm Elsa.
Me - ???

#2
Xena - Mama, Belle is not my best friend anymore.
Me - Oh no, what happened?
Xena - I told her I am Elsa and she is Anna. And she said she is Elsa and I am Anna.
Me - Oh dear.
Xena - So she is not my best friend anymore.

#3
Xena - Mama, I'm Elsa.
Me - Oh yeah?
Xena - Yes. And you're Anna.
Me - I'm Anna? Okay!
Xena - No no. Hmm... Daddy is Anna.
Me - Why is Daddy Anna?? Why can't I be Anna?
Xena - Because you are Olaf.
Me - ????!!!!!

When I try to discipline her jungle hair into a tidy ponytail or braid for school and she protests, I just tell her that Elsa always has her hair neatly tied in a braid, and it works most of the time. I don't know how long this craze will last, but I'm milking it for all its worth. The best thing that Elsa has done for me is what her teachers reported today -- she didn't want to eat lunch, and they told her that she needs to eat so she can be Elsa. And eat she did. (Note: This did not work at home. Of course. What was I thinking?)

Some day, when she is older, we will all sit down and watch the movie together. I wonder when that would be, and whether she'd still be as crazy about it.

Now if you'll excuse me, Olaf needs to go and shake the song out of its head.

Let it gooooooooo!
Kyaanadaaaaa any more!



Thursday, January 01, 2015

Annual report - 2014

Wish you a very happy new year, bewdas!

Yesterday, we hosted a small new year's gathering at our house where a bunch of us recapped the year and shared our resolutions for the new year. One of my friends reminded me that I still haven't written my usual annual report post for the year, so here it is. But before that, I need to hunt down Bubblegum and Arun, two of the regulars at the bar. They had posted their resolutions for 2014 in the comments section of this post of mine, and I need to ask them how they did.

My resolution for 2014 had been a super generic (and 'safe', one might add) one - to strive to be a little better than I was in 2013. In every sense. I'm really glad to report that for the most part it did happen. Of course, I have to start with Xena. We were definitely less stressed about her in 2014, as she fell sick less and was mostly able to keep her blood oxygen levels in the normal range even when sick. Of course, we had one frantic run to the hospital, that too just before her birthday, but compared to the gazillion trips in the previous year, this was nothing. 2014 was also the year her weight touched the elusive double-digit milestone of 10 kg at the grand age of three, when most babies achieve this before they can even walk. She did go back to 9+ pretty quickly after that, and has again inched her way up, but still stands at the magic number of 10 kg. Her eating has been a lot better, though she still rejects 99.9% of all foods, and we still need to put her in her high chair with a book and feed her all her meals, and even milk. But generally, it has been a good year for her. *touchwood*

Work has been fantastic. Thanks to the deep faith shown in me by ex-bosses and ex-colleagues, I got some really interesting projects. I had been writing and editing mostly primary level science books for about a decade now, but 2014 gave me the opportunity to delve into a bit of fiction (kiddy-level, of course), and also a bit of Mathematics for overseas markets. Both were kind of challenging, but beautifully fulfilling and enriching.

2014 was a year when I worked hard and partied hard. Truly. Compared to previous years, I organised/hosted more parties. First, there was Easter, then Diwali (I got to wear a sariiiiii! YEAYYYYY!), then Halloween, then Christmas and New Year's Eve. I got to organise lots and lots of games at these parties. I also had a chance to attend a friend's baby shower, where they had some fun games -- design and wear a diaper using toilet paper, pictionary of baby-related phrases and make a play-doh model of a baby. It was refreshing for me to not be the organiser of the games, and my super competitive streak (I can actually be a little scary in that aspect) took over. I won the first two, and was the runner-up in the third --only because the winner violated the game rules and added to their model a sperm and an egg with a plus sign in between! Hmmph. (Yes, I may be very Phoebe for the most part of it, but put me in a game and I can be SO Monica.)

2014 was also the year when I ticked two important items off my travel bucket list - a trip to Paris and taking my parents to Bali. The latter was very very important to me, and I cannot be any more thankful for the fact that we did the trip and made it back safe and sound.

We also got to spend a lot of time with family. My sister-in-law, who used to live on the other end of the island, moved closer - literally 5 minutes from us. We have been playing badminton! Viv's second cousin, who lives here, got married and his wife is a total sweetheart. So we have all been hanging out together as a big happy family. My parents visited after 3 years, and my mom-in-law visited too. (Yes Appa, we missed you. Please come see your monkey granddaughter this year.)

Viv and I watched a LOT of English movies at home in 2014. First, the nearby library has a lot of movies that I can rent for free. Then, there's a DVD rental place within walking distance of our place. We have also been renting a lot of movies on iTunes. Xena is still off TV, so we put her to sleep (her bedtime is about 9 pm) and then sit down and watch our movies.

Three of our closest sets of friends had their first babies in 2014, and even though all three live in different parts of the world, it is so awesome and so exciting for us. It's like Xena suddenly had three siblings!

It was a good year for Viv too. He did a lot of Insanity. At 6 am no less, justifying the title of the workout. Om Shaun T, Shaun T, Shaun T Om. He also scored 144 runs in a division 1 cricket match. He was the opener and last man out, and we were very very proud of him. I know he is very appreciative of the fact that he can be out for cricket during weekends, but sometimes I just wish he played only 20-20 and wasn't away for the whole day. Just then, such instances happen and they renew my support for him and his love for playing.

So that's what happened in 2014. As for the 2015 resolutions, I'll try to be a little less generic this year.

- We're planning some major renovation this year, and though it's going to be a real pain and a lot of work (think hacking of walls, floors and wardrobes, getting rid of furniture, moving stuff into storage, finding temporary accommodation), but at the end of it, we hope to have the nicest house that we possibly can within our means.

- I need to continue experimenting in the kitchen to create high-calorie stuff that Xena will be less reluctant to eat. Her endocrinologist said that if she can hit 11.5 kg by her 4th birthday, we'll have a stronger reason not to go for the daily growth hormone injections. Of course, I don't see her putting on 1.5 kg over the next 3 months, but I'll do the best I can.)

- Viv and I plan to continue what we have been doing all along - keeping Xena away from TV, phone and ipad screens and letting her have real interactions with real people. This needs to be on the resolutions every year, because it is a little hard to implement with all the screens that people of all ages seem to be bent over everywhere we go. So far so good though.

- Exercising is another thing that is perennially on my resolutions list, because again, it takes effort. In 2014, I didn't go to the gym as much, but we hit the swimming pool more times than we had ever done in any of the previous years (mainly because of Xena's love for the pool, of course), and I enjoyed it. I need to learn how to do it properly though. (I swim with my head above the water at all times!)

- I'll take on more challenging and interesting work this year. At the same time, I'll try and not go overboard with work, and not burn all of my weekends on it. I'll try my hardest to make some time for intentional vella-panthi, something I've never really indulged in, but something that I have begun to think is really important.

- If all goes well, 2015 might be the year when Xena finally visits India. We ourselves have not been there for the last five years!

- I plan to work more on my spoken Chinese. At the moment, I'm probably still qualified only for the beginner's level, so I won't be taking the intermediate classes, but I'll try and refresh what I learnt last year using online tutorials.

- I'd like to pick up a new skill, something creative and fun. And going by my recent inclinations, it seems to be nail art. Will do a post on that as soon as I reach pro levels!

- And lastly, I'd like to plan and be part of more get-togethers, plan more outings for Xena, keep in touch with family and meet up with friends more often. The airline tragedies this year have hit us all real hard, and underscored the fragility of life. Anything can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time. Cliched as it may sound, we need to live every moment.



Friday, December 26, 2014

Indirect speech

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

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

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

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

We'd got it, you see.

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

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

Merry Christmas and happy holidays, bewdas!


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

Monday, December 22, 2014

Random review: PK

*mega spoilers ahead; read only watching the movie*

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

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

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

So here are my random thoughts about the movie.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • But first MunnaBhai 3. Please. 


Bar rating - * * * 1/2

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




Sunday, December 07, 2014

Christmas gift (of gab)

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

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

Thursday, December 04, 2014

A trip to Baliwood... finally!

Om swasti astu, bewdas!

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

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

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Emoticonal Quotient part 5

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

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

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

Enjoy! :D



Catch-up #7

Bonjour, bewdas!

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

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

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

Ok fine, I did do all those things.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 09, 2014

The phoren trio

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

Confused?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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