Sunday, December 14

It is NOT your business

Hello readers!

So my darling husband (upon my repeated insistence) very generously read my last post lovingly written for him and his (only) reaction was that I have lost my writing spark and I am out of practice.

He obviously did not pay heed to the fact that I wrote the post more on an emotional and nostalgic plane than as a literary artefact.

But never mind that. He never was the romantic and mushy types anyway. As much as I would love to read something that he has written for me, his reading what I have penned is enough. After all, he does take care of me and pamper me in most ways feasible. He’s not a bad chap... Just different.  

Well, he’s become a dad and I’ve become a mom and while I can’t say it’s perfect yet (we’re still in the phase where we’re dealing with changing nappies and feeding and dealing with the cranky infant 24x7), it sure is a memorable time. Memories good and not so good. The good ones involve the baby obviously. The not so good ones are about nosy people and their gross insensitivity.

I have never really been fond of guests and relatives for the simple reason that most people I am related or acquainted with are selfish, greedy buggers. They couldn’t care less about me or my family and are only to be seen when they need or stand to acquire something. Obviously now that I have had a baby, it is common courtesy that they come to see me. The incentive is what is known as “badhaai” which literally means congratulations, but is synonymous with a gift (cash or any costly object) that the grandparents give as a token of happiness to people who visit.

Anyway, I shall choose to ignore that tiny (nauseating) detail, and focus on the more annoying bit - their stupid, intrusive questions.

First of all, I fail to grasp why people are interested in the mode of delivery. A normal, healthy baby has arrived in this world; rejoice! Why do you want to know how he came? Whether he was delivered normally or through a C section is none of anybody’s business. And even if your inquisitiveness cannot be reined in, at least do not react or comment when you receive the information! You really have nothing to lose or gain either way.

An increasing number of deliveries across the world are cesarean, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. All of us need to understand that it is either the mother’s choice (or the lack thereof) that decides this aspect. Most women I think would opt and try their best for a normal delivery but circumstances may require a change in plans. Like it happened in my case, and with a few of my colleagues and friends. And then there are those that voluntarily go for a c section given the number of complications that accompany a normal delivery: a displaced uterus (or other organs), episiotomy, excessive bleeding, etc.

I repeat, either way, it is none of anybody’s business. Except the mother, her caretaker and the doctor. What is destined will happen, what is best for the mother and baby needs to be done. That’s all that matters – the mother and baby. Nobody else.

So really, behaving like somebody’s died or something very unfortunate has occurred is not warranted. Not in public, and especially not in front of the mother and family. It is highly derogatory and irritating.

Second, people inspect the baby as if they are authorized personnel trained for this task, and then make snide comments about things like their features, body parts, hair and weight. Gawd! Don’t you friggin understand that the baby is the most beautiful creature on earth for the family, and nothing will change their perception irrespective of what anyone says?! Try and be appreciative of the baby and mother, and if that is not possible, forever hold your silence! Again, whether the baby has more hair on his head or less, and whether his nose is crooked or not is NOT YOUR BUSINESS.

Unless you are sponsoring his cosmetic surgeries.

Third, and this is the most irksome bit: people asking questions like “how come your stomach is still showing?” and “are you getting enough milk?”


WHAT???


How can you ask these questions???


No really…. HOW???


What are you going to do with both these answers?

I would really be grateful if people only said “take care” and f*cked off. My tummy (big or small) is my concern, and the adequacy of my milk is my baby’s problem. Both of which I shall capably and successfully solve, thank you very much. We will not blame you, and we will not come asking for your milk, rest assured. Your interference and officiousness is truly NOT necessary.  

All of these issues are highly personal, and can only be shared between people who are intimate. As a visitor, one needs to only meet and congratulate, wish well and leave. A baby is a miracle, and a new mother is fragile and exhausted. Cut both of them some slack and watch what you say or do. Why enquire and hurt someone when it is really not your business?

And trust me, it is NOT your business at all.

As I end this post, I request you to not behave this way if you have in the past. Anytime you feel the itchiness to ask these questions or make random comments, please chant this mantra…


It is NOT my business.


It is NOT my business.


It is NOT my business.


Thrice repeated slowly and honestly should be enough to calm your meddlesome mind.   

Janhit mein jaari.
(=Issued in public interest)


Best,
First-time Mommy aka Princess 

Friday, November 28

You're a Pa, Mate!

Hi Sweetheart,

Welcome to Fatherhood!

You’re an incredible person, and I can think of a hundred reasons why I love you.

Yeah yah, I know you don’t believe in having reasons to love somebody, but then you and I disagree on so many things; let this be another pleasant one… Just so that I can find ways to praise you and express how much I adore you. I never tire of it, and I don’t think you have any reason to do so either. “Neki aur pooch pooch” as they say in Hindi.

I have known you as a very different person as compared to the rest of the world. True, you are charming and you manage to awe both men and women alike. (Something that really worries me, given that people confuse gentlemanliness for flirting in the current century.)

However, it is my perception that you have given me a special privilege to know you as you are, and you keep a slightly more opaque exterior to the rest of humanity. Let me be blissful in this ignorance if I am mistaken.

I met an uptight, serious man while working at IBM nearly 4 years ago who left absolutely no impression on me. Since we were in the same team and cab, I struck a polite conversation with you, and was sort of surprised to learn that you could talk nonstop to an almost stranger about something I consider quite personal. Scarcely did I realize that you thought I was hitting on you! That was the last thing on my mind; I was only trying to be friendly to a new team-mate. But that is how destiny shapes up, right? Misunderstandings lead to new beginnings...

One thing led to another and I found myself chatting with you on IBM Sametime and going on coffee breaks with you – something that raised more than a few eyebrows in our gossip-crazy VnA team. I knew there was nothing between us, you barely spoke and I did not find much in common with you. But you knew that something would definitely happen – something I got to know much later. Your intuition is appreciable, young man. Keep it up.

We started meeting outside of work, you made special effort to meet me on my birthday; I knew something was in the air. You asked me out, and I said I needed time. You waited for all of 8 months as I made up my mind and on October 17, 2011, I decided I was ready to be yours.

That was not the end of it; it was actually the beginning of our struggle.

Neither of our parents was thrilled about our decision, for their own reasons. I still remember vividly how I tried to win your dad over on phone while you paced around listening to our dialogue in the University of Pune garden at dusk. You came over in a brave attempt to convince my parents, and I still marvel at your courage and straightforwardness. Phew... you've got balls, young man!

Countless strategizing sessions and convincing conversations later, we managed to win the support of my family, while yours remained hostile. That did not deter you, and you kept insisting we elope. Now I think, maybe we should have! It would be another adventure in our awesome journey together....

Amidst honor killing threats, we dealt with our own sweet and bitter fights. I got to know you better, and it was like knowing someone entirely different from the person I had first met… 

To cut a long story short, things kind of worked out and I found myself getting ready for our big day. June 29, 2012 we got married and started a new chapter in our lives. It was just like the movies – we won some, we lost some, we got better and sometimes we got worse. We annoyed and impressed and hurt and loved and disappointed and frustrated each other. 

Some days were just unbearable, and others were a delight. We created great and not so good memories and we learnt pleasant habits and hard lessons. But all the while, we stuck together and got stronger.   

We are so dissimilar, you and I. And yet, we stand united for all the things that truly matter. 

We crossed so many hurdles, both personal and professional, and we fulfilled so many dreams, both individual and shared. Buying bikes and a house and car, traveling within and outside the country, both of us getting promoted at work, and so many other milestones in our topsy-turvy lives… Well done, baby.

All those superb bike rides to CCD Chandni Chowk and back at dawn, wandering in the Goan streets for Lavazza coffee and warm apple pie, endless shopping trips in Phoenix mall and camp, our Mabi honeymoon and Kerala escapade, Baskin Robbin and Venky’s chicken cravings, fixations with sizzlers at Prem’s and Bounty’s… hours seem few when I think of you and the wondrous memories you’ve given me. They stay interspersed with the wicked moments where you and I upset each other, misunderstood and isolated each other… All the while, knowing true and well that we would always be together… But then doubting that too…   

You took care of me when I had my eye surgery done and I got a chance to pamper you when you banged your head against a truck and fractured your arm. All those countless times you took me on midnight dates before and post marriage and all the innumerable occasions when you fell ill and made me fret. When I was about to deliver our precious child, you held my hand through the unbearable pain and gave me strength. It was touching to see my agony reflected in your pretty eyes.

We have done well and we could only have done it together, no matter how much you and I highlighted (or minimized) our individual roles in these events when the going got tough.
And now, here we are, with yet another milestone in our lives. Probably the biggest one till date, I can say.

Our baby arrived into this world on November 15, 2014 and made us a family from just a bickering, love-struck couple. My passion for you has increased with this upgrade, and words fail me as I begin to thank you for taking such amazing care of me during my pregnancy. True, it wasn’t all rosy and idyllic, but I will certainly recall it with much warmth and happiness. You tried to make me happy and pampered me like a little girl. Thank you.
We now have a new identity, we are now proud parents of our little bundle of joy. This blessing, this gorgeous miracle is god’s gift to us and I am sure he is just as lucky to have us as we are to have him. We have great things planned for him, and he has brought good fortune to both our families while he was still in my tummy. With him gracing this world, I rejoice that all our lives will get happier and more satisfying.   

Thank you for giving me this lovely present – this beautiful ray of sunshine which will brighten our days and lives. It will be tough at times, but I am sure we will cope up brilliantly just like we have done in the past.

I love you Akhilesh Singh, and you’re a wonderful man… don’t you forget that, even when I am abusing the s*it out of you during my moody witch moments.  

I know you will be a better husband and father every passing day, and both Arush and I are glad to have you in our lives.

Stay happy, my darling. I will love you till the end of time, and later too.

Just yours for eternity…
Through phases of affection and squabbles…


Love,
Anuja   

Monday, October 27

I am...

Hiya!

I am laughing at silly things until tears roll down my cheeks. 

I am getting heavier and life is getting a tad tougher.

I am forgetting things; for someone as organized and reliable as me, this can be quite disturbing.

I am finding it difficult to sleep, and yet I can nap at most times. 

I am getting clumsier by the minute, dropping things and tripping and slipping for no apparent cause.

I can't concentrate, and I drift away into nothingness ever so often. 

I am finding the simplest of actions is turning out to be a challenge.

I am becoming more of a sweet tooth than usual, yearning for chocolates and sweets and ice creams every other day.  

I am sweating like I never have before, and I find the coolest rooms warm. 

I am able to control my temper a wee bit better, but I also get emotional and detached at times. 

I am more careful about my exercise routine, but I cheat on my drinks and junk food. 

I think my hearing and vision has slightly diminished, and my sensitivity has slightly increased. 

I get tearsome at the tiniest of stuff - when something is genuine, when someone is upset, when I am touched or hurt, or just about anything at all. 

I am meeting more and more pregnant people. 

I am being pampered by family, and my friends and colleagues are taking good care of me,

I am excited... and nervous... and scared... and hopeful. 

All at the same time. 

I am not going to be a child anymore, though my kiddishness will remain intact and become even more expressed now. 

I am 9+ months pregnant, and going to be a mommy soon!!

It's a new world, and a new experience. 

I am loving this feeling, this warmth, this affection and softness inside me.

Wish me luck! 


Cheerio!
Princess



Wednesday, September 3

Customer Service - A New Creed of Horror Stories

Hiya'all...

Just saw that my blog is 7 years old. Quite a thrilling thought! Thanks to you readers. Restekpa (= respect). And lots of love to you. 

Have been wondering about customer service for a while, and really wanted to write to you about some of my latest experiences as a consumer of various products and services. It's quite an alien concept in India to care for your customers, and you are viewed more as an inconvenience than God as the famous proverb goes. 

The first one is about my Thailand trip arranged by Flight Shop Pune (Phoenix Market City). This was a new agency that I tried, a change from my regular Makemytrip, Kesari and Yatra vendors. The reason primarily was cost, and also I found the itinerary better suited for my needs. Unfortunately, expectations were not met and I ended up pretty hassled during my leisure vacation. My travel executive Swapnil, who was very diligent during the entire planning and payment process, took off on a trip days before my travel and directed all my correspondence to his supervisor - an extremely unprofessional chap called Saurabh. It was all downhill from there. 

I reached Bangkok with no clue where our host was parked, and my husband sensibly bought a SIM card due to which we could connect with our India and Thailand travel representatives. After wasting quite a good amount of time and money, we finally figured out where the host was, and we set off for our first destination - Pattaya. The driver refused to stop enroute for lunch as was promised by Saurabh, and I was fuming throughout our drive famished, munching on some biscuits and fruit that I had packed for the journey. 

We reached Ibis Pattaya and met our local host who was pretty decent. You can read about my sightseeing experience here . 

However, what was really annoying was that they prohibited me to go to Coral Island owing to safety reasons. Now that should have been informed to us earlier so that we could have planned our trip better. The refund they offered was also not fair, and I was extremely pissed with this turn of events; I hate it when my travel plans go haywire. My husband and I did manage to make the most of our trip, though, but it was considerably tedious and upsetting.  

At Bangkok, we were told that there would be a city tour and we would be shown two famous temples - the Reclining Buddha and Golden Buddha. What actually happened was that we were only taken to the Jewel store, an exact replica of the Pattaya one which did not interest us one bit, and the Golden Buddha and Garuda temple. This made absolutely no sense to us, and we saw the planned destinations anyway, albeit on our our expense. Calling a hundred times from Thailand to the tour operator was absolutely useless and we wasted a lot of time and money, along with peace of mind on conveying our displeasure to Saurabh - who could not be less interested. 

After our return to India, I tried communicating with Swapnil, but that turned out to be like breaking my head on a brick wall. Obviously, since Saurabh was his supervisor. So, I had only one option left - I reached out to their manager - Jatin Sharma. Thankfully, this chap was more sensible and customer-centric. Not only was his manner polite, but he also offered me a just resolution. My decision remains intact despite that - I would not want to use Flight Shop again to plan any of my travel needs. 

Another experience, was at Just Baked on DP Road - a cake shop that I used to love during my teenage years. The joint served fresh and tasty pastries and snacks, expensive yet worth it. If you know me, you know that I have the majorest sweet tooth in the entire universe. When I last went to JB, they served us some stale pastries and I was not surprisingly disappointed and upset. Most people generally offer a refund or another pastry to appease a dissatisfied customer. Not this obnoxious man - he actually started calling me names. I cursed him loud and clear, and have not set foot in his store since. What a disgrace, how the mighty fall. I would not be shocked to know that they are out of business given that other cake shops serve much better ware at the same price and offer good customer care as well.

I could recount so many more to you, and I am sure you have your own set of stories to share. Go ahead! Let's all join our hands in mercy and pray that consumers get better treatment. Agreed, customer is not always right, but there's got to be a more courteous way to deal with them than hurting and losing them for life. 

Until we meet next!

Cheerio!
Princess




Wednesday, August 6

Thailand Sojourn


Ahem.

Yes. It HAS been 6 weeks that I haven’t written to you. Sorry. Big sorry. Like the super mammoth one. Guilty as hell, but all with good reason.

Being busy at work is stale news, but what’s absolutely taaza maal is that I was nominated for a popular award “Rookie of the Year” and I won with a thumping majority. My colleagues voted for me with all their love and goodwill, branding me the most talented, inspiring, motivated recruit of the year 2013-2014. Ten months in Hitachi Consulting and I thank God I came here every single day. My work and team are great, and as I enjoy what I do, work pressure is totally absent in my life. Good thing, I don’t need stress right now anyway.

Another piece of news is that I celebrated my birthday in July so my hubby and I took off to Thailand to celebrate. I brought in my last birthday in Goa so we had to make it large this time. While Thailand appeared an off choice to most people, we realized that we could do an international tour for the same cost as a domestic package. The only venues I am interested in India are Kashmir, Agra and the North East. July is not the most ideal time to visit any of these locations and voila, Bangkok-Pattaya it was!

A week in Thailand and let me tell you it was relaxing for sure if nothing else. Food and communication were a challenge even to a non-veg loving avid traveler like me, and that could be a serious concern for traditional, vegetarian tourists. KFC and McD’s abound there but none of them serves even one vegetarian option apart from the drinks and fries. Seafood is cooked and sold right on the streets of Bangkok, while the fancy restaurants are expensive and serve limited veg options. Akhilesh thoroughly enjoyed the chicken at KFC, but I did not relish it much. My birthday Thai lunch in Bangkok, I must say, was exciting – a Thai chicken curry with steamed rice and Crab spring rolls. Apart from that, I had to rely on the snacks that I had carried from India – my mum’s homemade delicacies and some other packed stuff.

To tell you the truth, Bangkok resembles Mumbai and Pattaya is like Goa, even the Bangkok-Pattaya motorway is identical to the Mumbai-Pune expressway. Shopping and sex are the main sources of income throughout Thailand, and that is evident on the billboards and streets. Semi-nude women (none of them sexy or alluring in my opinion) dancing and luring tourists embarrassed my loyal, loving hubby in Pattaya and the Alcazar show was also quite repulsive to him. Sadly, I was looking forward to it and it turned out to be disappointing.

Indians were not rare, and the loudest hoots and cheers came when “Nach Le” was played in the theater. Even in Bangkok, Indians came running to dance on stage when they were welcomed at Safari World… Some enthusiasm our lot’s got! And lack of hygiene as well. There were signs specially put up for Indian tourists to keep toilets and surroundings clean. It was shameful, but I was compelled to agree. It’s sad really, to see that we have absolutely zero bathroom etiquette, even the educated ones amongst us. These things need to be taught at home right in childhood, else we grow up and bring disgrace to our country and fellowmen.  

So, on to more pleasant topics… What did we see in Thailand?

Mini Siam, Pattaya – This lovely place has miniatures of a lot of famous spots around the world on display. While the absence of Indian monuments is striking (they only had a poster of the Taj Mahal), they have a lot of international and local attractions like the Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, London Bridge, Opera House, Colloseum, and Thai places of importance. This sprawling garden can get tiresome to tread, but the displays are beautiful, and the maintenance mind-blowing. We also discovered that Ramayana has a parallel story in Thailand as we were browsing the souvenir shops.      

Underwater World – This is one attraction you absolutely can’t miss in Pattaya. There are a variety of marine creatures here and it is very exciting to watch them all surrounding and floating around you. Scary, too! We went berserk taking pictures. Thank god for cams on cell phones! Since we were not allowed to go for the Coral island tour, this was certainly a must-visit for us.

Alcazar Show – The highlight of Pattaya, meant to be a cabaret, but it was sadly low on energy and enthusiasm. The colors, costumes and glamour were intact, and dance forms from around the world were included in the show. Indians, needless to say, were howling like idiots and taking pictures, even video-shooting the entire show, desperate buggers.  

Pattaya beach – Very clean, that is what I remember about the seashore. The water was transparent and crystal-like, and it was such a refreshing change from what we see in India. No rubbish in the water, no garbage on the sand. No shacks either, for that matter. There are some beach chairs, and you can only sit on them for a fee. That part was ridiculous, but I guess that’s the price you pay for the maintenance.

MBK Mall – This is a famous electronic and garment mall, similar to several other malls in Bangkok like the Platinum Fashion Mall and Golden Plaza, etc. While items are not dirt cheap, they sure have a lot of variety for smaller sized women and men. The worst bit is that all shops shut by 8 pm so you can’t saunter around leisurely. Street markets are on until late, but the malls will be deserted as soon as dusk sets in.   

Safari World and Marine Park – Another attraction you cannot miss at Bangkok. This is a zoo cum circus which offers full day entertainment to children and adults alike. We thoroughly enjoyed the Orangutan show, Elephant Show, Dolphin and Sea Lion Show. The ride around the Safari Park was quite amazing as well and I was reminded of my thrilling safaris in Africa as a teenager.

Bangkok Temple Tour – While Bangkok has over 4000 temples, there are some that are hot tourist destinations. First among these is the Golden Buddha temple which has an 18 carat golden Buddha statue that is about 10 feet tall and weighs 5.5 tonnes. It is quite a mesmerizing sight, this dazzling glowing piece of work, and you need to walk all of 3 flights of stairs to gaze upon its marvelousness. The second is the Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho. This temple is known to be the birthplace of the traditional Thai massage (but I only realized that while browsing just now). The temple has more than a thousand Buddha images, the most significant among them being the reclining deity 160 feet in length. It is stunning to say the least, and should you be interested, you can check this link - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wat_Pho
We also saw the Garuda temple in Bangkok – honestly all the temples and idols look the same, and I am not the historically inclined types. But yeah, the 2 mentioned above, surely were worth a dekko.  

We stayed at the Ibis in Pattaya and the Best Western in Bangkok, both very decent hotels right in the heart of town. Indian restaurants are many in Thailand, but the food was pretty average and obviously costly. Shopping for clothes and souvenirs was all we did, as neither Akhilesh nor I are very fond of this expensive pastime. Besides, you find everything everywhere these days so no item is a novelty.

A four hour nonstop flight brought us back to Bombay from Bangkok and we got back the 1.5 hours that we had missed while flying to Thailand. I managed to catch up a bit on my reading (“Only Time Will Tell”) but I could only finish the book a few days ago back in Pune-land. My fingers are now laid upon A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, and I have enjoyed watching movies like Hercules and Kick. Of course, family engagements and other domestic chores are back on…

So now you know what I have been up to these past couple of weeks. See you sooner next time. Hope you are enjoying the rains!


Cheerio!
Princess

Wednesday, June 25

Good, Bad or Just Meant to Be...


The sun grabbed a cushion of billowing white clouds and lazily opened one eye to the world. How would it be if he refused to get up and follow his daily drill today?

Humans despised monotony, hell, he was a god more powerful and free. But with great power comes great responsibility, as a famous movie said. And he was all ready to take on all the duties that he was bestowed with (hell, did he have a choice?)

She awoke with a groan, waking up early had never been easy for her. But she had to, coz he needed to get up and get ready for work. 

She was the proverbial black sheep, not good for the family reputation and community, but she was what she was. And she had no intentions of changing for anybody or anything. And yet, when she married the man of her dreams (or so she believed), she had to lay down to rest some of her dreams and lifestyle habits.

She was prepared for it, she said. And everyone believed her, since that is what she screamed she wanted. When someone raised a concern about how much her life would change, she convinced hem (and herself) tha it was all for the best…

She got him all that he wanted or desired. And that soon turned against her, as he started devoting more time and attention to those objects than to her. Such is life, when you try to fulfil the wishes of the one you love, he starts loving those objects more than you yourself. And then he claims, he never really wanted anything anyway, and that you have been an obstacle in his achievements, personal and professional.

She wondered how and where she was going wrong. Was it wrong to fulfil the wishes of the one you loved? Was it better to have him yearn and wait for his dreams? Coz her sacrifices were going to waste either way. There was absolutely no appreciation or thankfulness on any front.

She had always been independent, in thought and action, financially and logically. Yet, her biggest failing was her emotional dependency on the people that she loved. Him. More since they had committed to being each other's. And he either did not understand that, or he enjoyed making her feel lonely and empty inside.

She was confident, and yet in some situations, she felt as naïve as possibly Shashi (from her favorite Bollywood flick English Vinglish) on her maiden trip to the US. Her husband, who prided himself on his many qualities supported and loved her, and made her feel inadequate in turns. Making her hate him and their relationship ever so often. Her confidence was not as great as she thought when he was involved in the situation.

But then, that’s how some things are… You think you know what you want, and you struggle for it, and then you wonder if what you fought for and achieved was really the best that you could have got. Can we be assured of a better future if we refuse what is in front of us?

And what was in his heart...? Was it the same turmoil, or did he simply not care...???


Cheerio!
Princess

Friday, June 13

Beauty has an address! - Awesome Oman

( Psst.... !! This is an entry for the Indiblogger contest: Beauty has an Address... Please vote for me by going to this linkhttp://www.indiblogger.in/indipost.php?post=364596 and click "read post". Even if a handful of you lovely 115 followers do this, I could win a trip to Oman and share my actual, completely non-fiction experience with you!! )



What do you do in a country that boasts of a coastline of 1600 km? You take morning walks on the seashore, relax in the calm waters in the afternoon, engage in adventure sports in the evening and lounge around in the rocking restaurants at night! For a beach lover like me, this spells absolute bliss.

But the magical country of Oman has so much more to offer than just a beach experience.

Be it the majestic mountains that are a photographer’s delight or picturesque forests with wildlife galore. There are imposing forts with awe-inspiring history and there are friendly people in colorful markets. Bask in “Arabia’s jewel”, the royal capital city of Muscat with tall, golden minarets and peaceful lawns and flowers. The old capital Nizwa also has its quaint historical monuments and handicrafts that appeal to all culture loving tourists. Step into the magical world of Bahla and listen to the mysterious myths and legends. Or feast on the sight of the Wahiba sand that dissolves into the Arabian Sea. Finally, get away from it all at the idyllic Masirah island. And these are just a few of the many things to do in Oman… Beauty does have a marvelous address!



No wonder then that the tourism industry is flourishing in Oman. Being a travel enthusiast, it would be a dream come true for me to win an all-expense paid trip to this exotic destination. Amen to that!

So, if I were to indeed be the lucky one chosen for a holiday in Oman, here’s how my vacation would look like…

I would start my sojourn at Sohar, popularly known as the birthplace of Sinbad the Sailor and not just because the Arabian Nights is one of my all-time favorite books! This place was an ancient capital of Oman and is now a bustling port and marketplace (locally called “souk”). I would then head to the vacation capital of Salalah and spend some lazy time on the beach and explore the archaeological sites. Camel racing will be on my agenda as well. The traditional hospitality typical of Oman would welcome me and make me feel at home instantly, and I would continue my journey to Sur to taste the culture and traditions Omani style.


 After some bargain hunting for jewelry and souvenirs, I would move on to Jebel Akhdar, 'The Green Mountain' with scenic terraced villages. The highest point on the Arabian Peninsula would be the perfect location for a camping trip! Nestled in the lap of nature, I would then visit the beaches of Ra's Al Hadd, the nesting ground for the endangered green sea turtles.  

How can I not visit the capital city of Muscat? Of course, I would not be able to enter the beautiful mosques for religious reasons, but the museums, parks and glorious forts in Muscat would more than make up for it. I would like to watch the dolphins and go snorkeling while in Oman, and also enjoy a lovely barbecue on the beach at Marina Bandar Al Rawdah.  



I would also be glad to participate in some of the famous Oman festivals if the timing is right, such as the Muscat Festival, Salalah festival, Sindbad Classic or Offshore Sailing Race.

All in all, it would an escapade of my dreams.

As-salám aláykum, Oman. When do we meet?!!

*** 

This blog post is an entry into Indiblogger’s "Beauty has an address!" contest in association with Oman Tourism (http://www.omantourism.gov.om). Pray I win and thy prayers shall be answered, pretty people !!! :-)


Cheerio!
Princess


Wednesday, May 21

May Matters

Hiya!

Naah, won't start off again with the "Sorry for not writing in sooner." 

It's a fact and I may as well accept it (like it or not) that I am unable to connect with you, dear readers, more frequently. There are multiple reasons for this, and one of them (regrettably) is my laziness and addiction to mindless games on my cell phone. But hey, I've been reading and watching Roadies as well when I can, which is pretty rare given that we are now in the process of moving into our new apartment. Yeah! 

Yippee! Finally! The house we bought in Jan last year is now our home, and we will be shifting before this month ends. The house warming ceremony was a grand affair though we planned a modest pooja with few invitees. All god's wish. It looks fabulous with the delightful decor and lovingly handpicked knick knacks. However, I must tell you, while hubby is ecstatic at relocating, I still can't shake off the homely feeling that I get at our old rented flat that I am yet to feel at the new one. The new house is too spacious and posh. Time will iron the wrinkles out, I am sure. 

I complete 2 years of wedlock with Akhilesh  next month! How time flies... 

While our home front is kinda settling down, the national scene is also pretty joyous. Narendra Modi has won hands down and it is quite a record that he has set in terms of number of votes achieved. I really hope he lives up to the expectations and does the country and countrymen some good. The Congress has desecrated the nation enough and while no one person is flawless, NaMo seems the best of the lot. Ready for TsuNaMo, Indians?!!!

I  watched Revolver Rani yesterday- it's an engaging movie with a brilliant first half and wonderful performances. Kangana Ranaut is really grabbing meaty roles and living up to the character. Vir Das plays her love interest, and the story is fairly entertaining, though not as path-breaking as Queen. Too many songs, though. I missed the Amazing Spiderman, but I didn't hear rave reviews about it, so  no regrets. No other popular movies in the pipeline, I guess.   


Did I tell you I finished reading Roadies? (The journey X1 is over too, with my predicted winner emerging victorious - Nick. Kudos!) Basis Raghu's recommendation, I have purchased the Devil and Miss Prym and there are heaps of other books on my unread shelf such as Be Careful What You Wish For (Jeff Arch - Clifton Chronicles), And the Mountains Echoed (Khaled Hosseini), I Am Pilgrim while Siva still remains 1/4th un-done. Dozens of movies also lie unwatched on my laptop, and I wish I had a few dozen holidays to do justice to all of them. Plus go on a short holiday (yes, already!) to Mahabaleshwar if nothing extravagant. I am just so exhausted and rushed all the time, even weekends seem to last no longer than a few hours... I miss partying and dining out someplace fancy. I want to swim and sleep in late. I yearn to go clubbing and traveling. Walks, shopping and drives remain a dream. I wish I could apply for work from home for a week or two, but as they say, "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride."

Rest, well, whatever else there is, is fine. Work keeps me super busy and riding all the way to Magarpatta and back takes its toll on my body and mind. Shifting will help in that regard for sure, and will cut my commuting time by half. No travel plans for work yet, but you never know. I am also getting offers to write articles (freelance) and reviews for books and movies and websites (commercial). No time to spare :-(

Got your pay hikes this year? I heard a lot of companies are just about scraping through. Hitachi has given moderate increases and well, I am not complaining. For a person who joined merely 7 months ago at an ambitious package, there is nothing that I can crib about. Plus the day shift, autonomy, position and perks. It's a merry world here. Touch wood. 

And as if all of that was not enough, they cast me in a video for a contest by "Great Places to Work" - You can check it out here and please share and like it!!



Impressive, eh?!!

And so, there we end. See you later, alligator. 


Cheerio!
Anuja

Tuesday, April 15

Vote for a Better India (and other gupshup)

Hi everyone, 

As the biggest democracy goes to the polls, it's a crazy mesh out there of different political parties proclaiming their greatness and exposing the crap out of others. 

While I am not too politically inclined, I sure do plan to exercise my right to vote... and so should you. The Congress has done enough damage in 10 years and later, there is no point in blaming politicians if you could not take this tiny step yourself to make the nation a better place. The right people are doing the right thing by going as far as to declare a holiday so that employed citizens can cast their vote so as to not miss a day at work. Is it not our obligation then to stand by our country and do our bit?  

Pune has elections on the 17th - I urge you, please vote. I know of some folks who find traveling more important on this day, or cite excuses as silly as routine logistics to avoid taking the effort. It's not becoming, I implore you. Please do vote. Don't think it's only a matter of ONE vote. Every vote makes a difference. I know Arun Bhatia, who I thought a very deserving candidate, did not win majority votes and hence could not bring about change in the city. Take a cue - all our individual votes put together could bring your favorite political party to the forefront (not that either of them is blemish-free and faultless), but let's choose the lesser evil. Let's make that choice by casting out ballot. 

Modi or AAP, now that remains the question. Only if the "single largest party" in the country does not miraculously emerge victorious yet again. Rahul Gandhi is not someone who can handle this vast nation, so the choice is between Kejriwal and NaMo. Frankly, they have their pasts, their errs and their supporters. May the best man win. 

Having made my appeal, let me move on to the other topics at hand. First of all, apologies for the long absence - personal and professional commitments have kept me very occupied. I had my Udyapan / Ujawna for Gangaur and Suraj-rota (you'd have heard of it if you know about Rajasthani culture), and we're now planning a trip with the family to Jabalpur, my maternal native place. This shall be the first time my husband travels with the entire Rathi clan out of station, so I am looking forward to it as well as to the childhood memories of Bhedaghat and Sadar Bazaar, coolers and gardens. With our new home almost ready, housewarming is also round the corner and it seems like busy times are only going to continue in the recent future. Fret not, for I shall keep dropping a line as and when I can. 

Secondly, thanks a ton to all the new readers who have reached my blog and have made my day by sending me appreciation notes. I really am touched, thank you so much. Knowing that I'm touching your lives even without seeing you face to face means a lot to me. Do keep coming back and let me know what you feel about my writing. 

I'm now trying to make time for reading, and I've got One Amazing Thing on my bookshelf, Bhagavad Gita on my laptop and Ramayana on my cell phone - all English versions, obviously. The Sanskrit ones were very tiring and did not make sense to me. Better to understand what I am reading than merely to put a tick mark on these holy books. I am sure you know that the Mahabharata is my all-time favorite book, but I am reading the others on insistence of my dear mum. They're quite interesting too, thankfully, the websites that I am referring to. And then, conversations with my Ammi, Abba, husband and mum all turn out to be enlightening in their own unique ways. We thrash ideas around and discuss experiences that match or contradict what is passed down over the ages. Helps us bond, and helps us better comprehend these mighty tales. 

I recently watched Captain America - pretty good movie, but very stretched I think. English films ought not to be longer than 2 hours. Bhootnath Returns seems to have good reviews, but I don't have the patience for that right now. I gave Ragini MMS2 a miss, owing to the gross trailers and Sunny Leone's presence. I'd much rather watch a porn movie at home followed by the original Ragini MMS (neither of which I am in the mood to endorse).

Mango season is here, and it's fairly hot most afternoons. Best not to get out of the house between 12 and 4 pm, and get out those sunscreens and sunblocks. Naah, not me - I can't be bothered with all of that. I've got my hands full anyway with my loads of aches and cravings. I just don't seem to be getting enough sleep these days, though my darling spouse has opted for a (comparatively) earlier shift. Weekends also rush by, so I'm wondering how I will be able to cope with it all. That I get to watch Koffee with Karan and Roadies XI is itself a miracle, coz I am sure the clock plays pranks on me and shrinks 24 hours to 2. I wish I could have 30 hours in a day for starters, and sleep for 15. Hehe. Mulla kii daud masjid tak. 

On that note, let me say goodbye, time to sleep!

Don't forget to vote. 


Cheerio!
Princess





Tuesday, March 25

The Pain of Gifting

Whoever called it the “JOY” of gifting skipped a step.

Prior to the joy (if at all), comes pain, immense discomfort and a lot of inconvenience, effort and thought. The next step could range from ecstasy and gratefulness to annoyance and indifference.

Which is why most people give the act of gifting a miss and either request no gifts on the receiving end or give cash rather than an object as a guest. Saves all the people concerned from a lot of heartache and embarrassment.

I understand, I entirely do. It is a much better option than running around from pillar to post and finally presenting or ending up with some trashy items being shifted around from hand to hand over the ages.

I am writing about this for a cause.

The cause of loving people who have done everything possible under the sun for their loved ones and who do not know what else to do for the sake of affection and originality. 
So basically, people like me. Lovers of revelries for reasons small or major, and adorers of their moms and spouses and uncles and aunts.

Let me brief you first on some important aspects.

One, my mother and my husband are, fortunately or weirdly, pretty alike. I mean of course they’re both pretty but it does not end there. They care for me beyond themselves and I love them both to bits. Their mannerisms and habits are also similar in more than a few ways. Plus, both of them don’t like presents in general and are very balanced (read predictable) when it comes to celebrations and gifts. 

Which means that I’ve been dealing with this agony for over two decades now, though I have been only married two years.  

My husband celebrates two birthdays in a year (as if one was not enough) and one of them, the fake one, falls close to the day of love – Valentine’s. Now imagine my plight, I need to think thrice about the things that he has and does not have, should have or wants or needs. Not counting, obviously, the monthly and yearly anniversaries of our wedding and courtship.   

A Herculean task, indeed!

A cake and flowers no longer count as something sensational; it’s too formal and extremely unimaginative. My husband has no patience or aptitude for cards, poetry and the like (contrary to my mom, she used to dig that stuff). This rules out one of my unique and greatest gifting ideas.

Clothes, electronics, wallets and travel – we have done all of that as well. I was so confused last year about what to give him on our wedding anniversary that I went around polling people and got some fairly random ideas like Bluetooth headset and biker helmet. I finally bought him the second, but it does not feel like a gift really, if you know what I mean. More like a security accessory, a must rather than a casual feel-good present. But since my husband is not the romantic, rose-tinted types, I guess it worked fine in his case. Had it been someone rosy-hearted and hare-brained, this would be a concern.

Worse still, if you ask these folks what they would like as a gift, they either say “anything” or “nothing”. Both these answers are annoying. Why wouldn’t you simply say what is it that you are lacking at the moment and ease matters for the poor enquiring soul? Not to mention, it should suit his/her budget. I  know of certain leeches, who when asked about their choices, state incredibly ridiculous demands that make you want to slap them and ask them to get lost. Why, why, why do I have to deal with such horribly unreasonable people?!!

Seeking help from online sources is useless as well, coz there is absolutely no logic in the list of items displayed on the web, and their preposterous prices may as well convince you to forget the entire idea of a celebration.

And, before I conclude, let me also place on record the awe I feel about some of the gifts given to me, ranging from the utterly silly to the amazingly generous. Give me a decent book, a holiday voucher, good clothes or accessories and I would be pleased as punch. Give me ugly, used or non-usable stuff and I shall refuse pleasantly. 

So, there stands my agony, confessed and out in the open. If you find a solution, do let me know.

If not, carry on with whatever it is that works for you! Some pains just never end, though you want the good times to carry on forever…



Cheerio!
Princess

Monday, March 10

Women's Day 2014

Yello!



Belated wishes to  all the naari's out there :-)

Feels good to be pampered (obviously), but as I said on FB, I have no special hang-ups with men. In fact, I have had more and better guy friends than girl friends. I think women tend to get insecure about a multitude of issues and that leads to their downfall. But since I have already spoken about a woman’s troubles in my recent post, I shall not dwell on this topic too much. Instead, I am going to tell you about the marvelous day we had at Hitachi Consulting on March 7th, in preparation for International Women’s Day on March 8 (Saturday). 

That's Nivedita Nair from the facilities team welcoming me to work on Friday with red roses - such a sweet gesture on the occasion of Women's Day!

So, the theme was orange and I walked in to the office to be welcomed with a smile... and a rose! What a beautiful way to start the day! We were photographed and cordially wished by all... This is how lovely mornings are made.

Scarcely had I unpacked my laptop and started work, than it was announced that there were free beauty services available for all the ladies at work. Foot spa, hand spa, face clean up, make up - take your pick and get gorgeous! I opted for the face clean with Jafra products, and while it was not an "Aaha" experience, the thought and experience sure was special. 

A few emails and lunch later, we had a cookery contest - Magic without Fire. There were 5 teams and they had prepared delicacies without using the burner. The best part about these chef competitions is the tasting, and I was right up front along with the other lasses! Veg Mayo Roll with a creamy dip (that won the first place), Date and Coconut Laddoos, Indian Triangles, Fruit Salad with Cream, Pofru (poha and fruit) Payasam, and a variety of Veg Sandwiches - it was a delectable spread! Hats and tastebuds off to you, women!!

Next on the list was a session on "Inspire Others" by Prameela Kalive from Zensar - quite an illustrious woman, I must say. She has worked at DRDO with the likes of Kalam and her experience and profile is highly impressive. She drew upon some observations from Sheryl Sandberg's book "Lean In" and discussed parallels in her life. The bits that most resounded with me were:

1. Put your hand up - Don't expect people to know your talents, interests, strengths and also advocate you for new opportunities. Nominate yourself for things that you wish to do. Even if others resent you for this. And when everything keeps falling on your willing shoulders, speak up and refuse chances as well for things that you do not wish to do. 
2. Make your partner your real partner - Don't get annoyed when your spouse does a lousy job in the kitchen or with the kids. Let him learn, he'll get it right someday. 
3. When you are asked to fly in a rocket, don't ask which seat - (Most) women are not comfortable with ambiguity; we need complete details before we commit to anything. Sometimes, when there is an ambitious plan in the making, participate even if you are not completely informed or aware. You will learn loads and pave the way for success!
4. Don't try to be superwoman - You cannot juggle ten things and all of them brilliantly. Learn to outsource what you find tough, seek help from family and hire a maid! Know what to put on the backburner and what to focus on. If you do multi-tasking, something will be better and something below average - accept it. 
5. Don't forget to pamper the little girl within - This, I never forget to do, and my husband co-operates whole-heartedly. My hero!

... and then it was time for some lip-smacking Pav Bhaji and Rasmalai! Yumm yummm... Boys, I feel so bad for you as I feast on these snacks, but then that feeling slowly fades... Hee hee!! And it is replaced with further excitement and respect for Hitachi when they pull out spa vouchers and gifts for all of us women.  

Marvelous day, indeed! So thankful to Hitachi Consulting for organizing this great day, never before have I been regaled thus in my entire career spanning close to 10 years. 

Hope you had a cool day as well enjoying or serenading the women in your life :-)

P.S - Men's day is there, too... and no, it's not on April 1, it is (supposedly) celebrated worldwide on November 19. There you go! I bet you won't remember... hahaha.

Cheerio!
Princess 


Wednesday, February 26

Book review: The Hunt for Kohinoor

Hi readers,

Forget about stories that introduce a background and give you enough time and consideration to adapt to the plot. This one dives right in and maintains a crisp pace - one that needs complete attentiveness to grasp and enjoy. Not your light coffee-time read, this.




I was approached by Westland Books to read and review this book that was published in Dec 2013.

To be honest with you, I am not a regular patron of historic, terrorism and political stories so I found myself drifting off on a few occasions. But each time the authoress succeeds in sowing some excitement into the situation to bring the flighty reader back.

First and foremost, I was intrigued by the name of the protagonist – Mehrunisa. A quick search on the web divulged that Noor Jahan, the twentieth and favourite wife of the Emperor Jahangir, was born as Mehr-un-Nissa in 1577. She is called one of the most powerful and influential women of the 17th century Mughal Empire since she was a strong, charismatic and well-educated woman. Not unlike the Mehr in Manreet Sodhi Someshwar’s trilogy.

Trilogy season has kicked in big time post Meluha, I guess. “The Hunt for Kohinoor” is a sequel to "Taj Conspiracy", and I was a little hesitant to read the second book as I did not have the grounding and knowledge of the first one. Being the organized and structure-loving person that I am, I was secretly hoping that Westland would pamper me with both the books (!) However, I was assured and set at ease, and thus began my reading journey that took me on an expedition across Kashmir, the Hindukush mountains and Peshawar.

This was my first tryst with Sodhi- Someshwar, an IIM-C alumnus and author of "The Long Walk Home". “The Hunt for Kohinoor” is an interesting tale, albeit not a completely original idea. It reminded me of some Bollywood flicks and also very vaguely the Da Vinci Code. Just like Princess Sophie sets out on a mission set upon her owing to her grandfather, Mehr is cast into a dangerous conspiracy by virtue of being the daughter of a secret agent.  

I liked the metaphor “Snow Leopard” used throughout the book, and its relevance to the storyline. The description of the varied characters is also engaging. Their dreams come alive in their eyes and their realities hit you in the face as Mehrunisa Khosa’s journey is tracked over a span of 96 hours to save herself and her lost-and-found father.

The writing is fluid and boasts of a multitude of converging plots. More impressive for me, though, as an avid bookworm and language trainer, was the glorious vocabulary used throughout the story: opprobrium, fulminating, extant... Breathtaking! I don’t know who to applaud for this – the author, editor, some thesaurus or other individual. Whoever has implanted these in the paperback – fantastic job!

I do, however, wish that the book was smaller than 425 pages. I found myself skipping a few paragraphs and pages, not something I would do with a Jeff Arch or Chitra Divakaruni. Now that could be attributed to my lack of interest in geography and war history, but that is precisely the backdrop so I can't complain, so I flick a few pages and scan through the next chapter. The protagonist travels alongwith another agent and then a lover to unravel the secret of the “Kohinoor” and foil a gruesome plot of the Jihadis.

While reviews are still being published across blogs and mags, the writer suggests (as does Anubhav Sinha) that Priyanka Chopra would be ideal to play the role of Mehrunisa, should a movie be made. I wonder why that is a pre-requisite these days. Would be so much better if writers focused on writing a great book than making a good movie. 


My view: 5 stars on 10. And a special one star for the lexis. 

Have an awesome day, ya'all!

Cheerio!
Princess