Wednesday, December 24, 2008

its finally feeling like christmas

The festive season is upon us……shops, malls and homes are festooned in red, white and green……for me, it’s the favourite time of the year……the chilly evenings and mornings adding to the air of festivity, anticipation of celebrations and time spent with family and friends….the sweet treats, candy, cookies and cake…


I make my own Cards ……so for a few days, i was busy cutting, block printing and sticking paper to make them.......also planned on making cookies and some savoury eats….and cake of course…. the planning begins in November……however, like all best laid plans, they go awry….some due to my own fault……and sometimes things just get out of hand……the panic and falling to pieces is all part of Christmas……it wont be Christmas for me, if everything moves on like clockwork!!

This year, K and I will be celebrating at home……we couldn’t make the trip to Bangalore to join Amma and my brother’s family….work and other commitments have kept us very busy……so its bittersweet……while I love doing up the house, cooking and having friends over….sometimes I just wish I could be with Family….that’s what festivals are all about right??


Its not Christmas, till I put the tree up….and between all the things that were driving me crazy,  I stayed up one night till 1.30 a.m to get the tree decorated……I couldn’t bear another day in a bare home……as I stepped back to watch the lights on the decorated tree……it simply tipped forward and fell flat on the floor……for what seemed like an age, I stood there….teary eyed, as I watched the decorations scattered on the floor, the tree with the lights still blinking, asleep……on the ground!! For a second I wondered if I should turn off the lights and deal with it in the morning……but I couldn’t bear to wake up to a mess……so I took a deep breath…..and got to work….first to untangle the mess of beaded garlands and fairy lights….and pick up all the baubles that got flung across the drawing room!! I stayed up till 4.00a.m, but I was finally done……just the sight of that made me feel so much better……next was to tackle all the other stuff that was overwhelming me……both for work and for the festivities….. putting my management training to use, I drew up a time quadrant to plan my work….to do lists make my life seem so much better!!

christmashamperLast Year's Goodie Hamper for friends and family.....Viennese butter cookies, muruku, rich plum cake (store bought) and eggless date and fruit cake

I realized that fretting over time that has gone by, wont accomplish anything…yeah I am a dim light bulb sometimes!! Last evening I made some mixed berry/ raisin and cashew cookies (recipe coming soon) and as I sit here to type this up….the rich fruit cake I have attempted for the very first time is baking….filling the house with an amazing aroma……I have a fudge to finish!! And then am all set…..yesterday was K’s turn to turn a year older….he always feels ill on his birthday and this year was no better……tho he isnt as bad as last year!! We’re having a smallish combined celebrations tomorrow…..


To my dearest friends, family and readers, I wish you, the Joy and Peace that Christmas embodies………wherever in the world you are, have a wonderful Holiday……Love and Happiness always!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

feeling cranky............

There are days when I feel like putting a stake through people…..i seem to be having a miserable 24 hrs here….it’s just one of those days!! when nothing really is blowing up in my face… I mean nothing major…yet nothing is going as planned!!
Let’s begin with the net connection in the office!! It fluctuates between barely there to no trace of it at all….the system is constantly searching for network, and just when you’ve patiently downloaded something, in the last few seconds, the application times out! Aaarrgghh……
My outlook express seems to have a life and a mind of its own….i am after almost a month, unable to get the configuration correct…..i spent 2 good hours today trying to explain this to an online tech support agent, and all I got was stock answers that made me really want to reach for that stake!! Why do they not probe you? Why do they not try and trouble shoot? Why do they give stock responses? I guess I will never have the answers to these questions……it is like the Immaculate Conception, which you will have to just accept…..
Maybe my irritation is multiplied by the fact that its that time of the month again….it brings with it the overwhelming need to lie in bed, with a hot water bottle to ease the backache and cramps and total silence….any little rustle is enough to tick me off….yesterday, despite my want to just cut everyone out of my life for the moment, we woke up literally at the crack of dawn to take amma to the airport….already the whole household, (read Amma) was so worked up about the security arrangements at the airport after the Bombay attacks and reports in the papers and news channels that all airports were on high alert….there is a little background story to the high drama of a few days ago….. Amma not knowing what she wanted to do…go back or stay…. Train tickets aren’t available till January and this meant, despite her apprehensions of not wanting to fly, we had to book her ticket on a plane…. So she spent days watching the tv, scouring it for news on airports and flights…. Any little mention in the newspapers, was pored over with a magnifying glass… really she has to use one to read…the newspaper said “airline asks passengers to report 3 hrs ahead” finish……… regardless of the fact that it was for Singapore airlines only…she went crazy ….. no amount of reassurance was doing her any good….. it’s the way things are…this is the fear that terror has put into our minds…and this is what we have to deal with…call it irrational…. But this is real….
Anyways, on Sunday morning, after a fitful sleep, we woke up, got dressed and drove on the new Outer Ring Road to the airport…I am pleased to report, that the Shamshabad airport is now a mere 25 mins away from home….the road is partly finished and is magnificent…ofcourse my heart cried for the destruction of all those rocks… but that is what brought the airport that much closer to me! We found a Kingfisher baggage handler and handed amma over to him, asking him to take care of her and help her board the plane….we do it every time….and she acts so independent that they wonder why we fussed so much in the first place!! Security was a breeze, all those involved were relaxed and that was a good thing…
we got back home and I tried to hit the sack, but couldn’t……ordered food…. despite all my food charts, I binged…. Felt like a beached whale, and craving only a snuggle with my hot water bottle, I slept like a baby… awake a few hours later, just to feel like I could sleep and never wake up again….a couple who we know, they own this fabulous European bakery in hyderabad….not your regular hole in the wall, but pretty fabulous….they were having this advent thingie they’d invited us for….having stood them up a couple of times before, we made a polite appearance….it is Christmas season already!! Carol services galore yesterday… trees are up….decorations are happening!! And I need to get my act together on the cards if I want to send them out before this festival season ends!!
K and I had dinner outside together…at my favourite but completely outpriced Italian place…..even that bowl of creamy pasta couldn’t comfort me…...i bought myself that damned water bottle I was hallucinating after….and that’s the only thing that lulled me to sleep…..
This morning when I woke up, I sorely missed amma….and I think that’s what set the pace for a cranky day today….
Edited to add: as I got out of office, I stopped at a flower shop and bought myself…one dozen roses in a lovely deep pink…..and 6 stems of double lilies…..i felt instantly better….got home…plunged them in water…and now as I sit typing this, the roses are sitting pretty on my nightstand….and the whole house is smelling wonderful from the lilies……

Friday, December 5, 2008

Men and (the business of ) beauty

Cosmopolitan india, fast developing india, young india, is seeing a new side to the beauty business…. Not just is it a multi million dollar industry just waiting to be tapped, it is seeing increasingly, the presence of men….. I am not referring to the metrosexual or any other type of man, who takes time out to groom himself….i am talking of men delivering beauty services…..

A couple of years ago, at the neighbourhood beauty parlour which is the branch of a very famous chain, I asked for a pedicure and in response I was asked “do you want ladies or gents ma’am?” not knowing if I heard right, I begged her pardon, to be told again like I was the biggest moron around, that she was asking if I preferred to have a man give me the pedicure… not knowing really if I wanted some random man to be touching and feeling up my leg, I said no. so there I sat, getting my pedicure done, by a girl who huffed and puffed and there sat next to me a lady, engrossed reading a glossy, getting her’s done by a man….both were so matter of fact and went about their business so normally, that I looked like the only village yokel who seemed to notice….

So the next time I was asked, I said either, and a man turned up to do my pedicure… except for the fact that they have more strength and therefore can give you a longer and more forceful foot massage, I didn’t see any difference…..

Increasingly, there are no more “parlour girls”….atleast at the places that are a little swank or wannabe swank and most of them are unisex….infact walk into a unisex parlour, and most often, except for more intimate services such as waxing, there are men and women to attend to you….the transition has happened…..i don’t know for good or bad…but it has….walking into a salon for a hair wash, cut and blow-dry, I am greeted by a “stylist”…yes, they’re not barbers any more…. Or hair dressers….. but stylists….they greet you in smart jeans and tees…. With something that resembles a holster at their hips….with a tonne of stuff they’re going to use on your hair….clips, combs, brushes and scissors….

Firstly, it seems funny, to be sitting next to a man who’s getting a little tuft of hair at the top of his head coloured blonde….he’s chatting away on the cell phone, while two women apply colour and brush and a bit of aluminium foil to his hair…..i feel extremely self conscious…. Then I relax… I am making a big deal of nothing I feel….infact I begin to feel rather silly….. if this is the way things are, then so be it…..

I am ushered into a “shampoo chair” a smartly dressed young man….with a dozen charms on his wrist, hair all spiked up with gel, and chewing gum, runs his hands through my hair…. I almost froze…. He shampoos it, conditions it and then wraps it in a towel…..i am ushered to the “cutting chair” …. There’s something about the way he went about his business….i changed my salon after 13 long years….it just got too difficult to drive half over town for a very expensive haircut… I turned to this one, a few kms from home…asked for their best person, told him to just trim what I already was styled in and he followed my instructions to the T… I do recognize deftness when I see it….

I mention it to a friend, the second time I went in for a hair cut…. She just rolled her eyes and said, “the best haircuts are given by men anyway….and I have been getting my hair done by a guy for the last 3 yrs now…..”

A year and 4 haircuts later, I ask for the guy with the charms on his wrist by name…..not because of anything other than the fact that he knows his job very well….. I finally don’t think of him as some random guy snipping and blow-drying my hair… but as my stylist…. Its taken a while…but hey!! If this is the way things are, then so be it…..!!

what next? I don’t know… J a facial perhaps?? Thank god I don’t do those….. that would be a little too much for my old fashioned self!! 

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

on shaky ground....

there was an sms alert my colleague got at 5 pm today…it said there was a shooting that took place in Hyderabad, while investigating with regard to the Bombay Terror attacks, an Ex SIMI activist, shot at the constable and a red alert has been sounded in hyderabad. As soon as we heard this, I checked online to find this….i informed K and left for home immediately…..

now safe in the confines of my home, I type this to say, I had a shaky few moments………not knowing what this was….exaggeration or the truth, or the look of things to follow, I was only too happy to drive back home…..last night, it took me a few seconds to compose myself, before u got out of bed to go to the bathroom….iamgining people holed up there, some amidst dead people, hiding at the Taj so that the terrorist would miss them, is a constant vision I imagine…..

I don’t like it…and I tell myself I am being unreasonable….i wasn’t even in the same city as what happened…it doesn’t seem to help…..i don’t know if I should feel silly about my eagerness to return to the safety of home, or relief that nothing happened, or what… false bravado here anyways….

Monday, December 1, 2008

what next?

we're so quick to blame everyone but ourselves..... every one else owes us explanations and apologies.... then why do we get pissed off when we're delayed / detained for a security check at malls/ theatres/ airports etc ? how many times havent we used the "do you know who i am?" bit to get out of situations we think are questioning our self inportance? how many of us are willing to "pay" to get work done, big or small? its no wonder then that they could have bribed their way through while enterring the country.....

are we done with all the celebrities who are no experts on matters of security / disaster management/ governance? there was one with 6 celebrities and one ex cop....and they never allowed the cop to answer anything or make any point...when he'd have had more things of objective knowledge than any of them.... i am not a snob... i am not saying these celebs shouldnt be on panels.... but by just getting them, arent we trivialising the whole thing? not really wanting to explore some ideas at the end of the panel discussion?

why are we just going overboard trying to pin the blame on the politicians?? yes we elected them and yes they damn well be answerable.... but by making them the "cause" of this disaster.....arent we sending out a clear signal that we are loving this name calling and blame games rather than sitting down to take action.... to make some foolproof action plans that dont remain in name alone? or do we play the "i want answers"...."how could this happen" outrage to empty us of all our anger so that there's none left to channelise constructively??

this whole thing has made me so scared....scared for my life and the ones dear to me....with all the images of blood and gore and possible and impossible real and imagined and quite possible terror attacks, i sleep so uneasy each night....holding onto K for dear life and not wanting to be alone.... if this can do this to me.... just imagine what it would be like for the people who actually lived through all this and or lost someone they know?

while the media did a good job of keeping us informed.....they need not have fed us the blow by blow details... i am sure the terror outfits benefitted a lit out of it all.... they held out for more than 56 hrs... some inputs from the relentless news coverage must have helped,  i am totally appalled now at how they've made advertisements about their "live coverage" of the mumbai terror.... really... is this needed? and why did they have to zoom in on the faces of the dead heroes lying in their coffins? 

at the end of all of this, i am glad this ordeal is over. yet i am not quite sure it is going to be the last disaster we will deal with. its now time to take action. to give shape in a lasting, concrete manner to all the ideal ideas that we have and make something solid out of it....we need to work out a solution that works for us all.... and we need to do this without wasting any more time.