Jodhaa Akbhar

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Extravagance. That’s what this movie is all about.

But then the story is about one of the greatest Mughal emperors, known for his splendor.

So extravagance justified.

A fantastically crafted movie, this is another one of Ashutosh Gowrikar’s efforts to inspire patriotism.

Packaged with history and romance, the movie lives up to all the hype.

And talk about eye candies! And they’ve have actually attempted to act. In Hrithik’s case, his performance is effortless and laudable.

But though Ash looks stunning, I feel Tabu would have brought in more life to the character.

Akbhar is portrayed to have been striving to unite Hindus & Muslims…

A sensitive king who checks the Mughal atrocities in the battlefield…

A just king who wanders among his subjects in disguise to feel their pulse…

A courageous king who prefers to face his enemy one to one to avoid bloodshed…

An emperor who dreams of a united Hindustan…

Got me thinking, maybe India could do with monarchy!

Imagine…

No booth-capturing.

No bribes to anybody.

No corruption.

But then, no freedom of expression either!

Anyway, on the downside, the movies is too long.

The dialogues are so urdu-fied, its difficult to follow in some places.

But on the whole a visual treat (except for the battle scenes. Found them too gory).

Definitely worth watching.

I am going again. (Just to look at Hrithik! 😉 )

Valentine musings, belated…

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I’d meant to write this on Valentine’s Day, but was too swamped with things to write a coherent piece then…

Anyway here goes.

This has nothing to do with romance or the V day itself.

Just something that happened to me years ago, just before Valentine’s Day.

I was working late one evening. Bid my colleagues farewell albeit distractedly, as they made their way out of the office one by one.

Suddenly looked up from my comp to see the office deserted. Most of the lights were off, except for my cubicle.

I sat almost at the far end of the office and the main door seemed far away.

Suddenly a nameless fear seized me and I wanted to make a quick exit from the suddenly spooky place.

Of course, we had 24/7 security, but the guard sat outside, in the reception area.

The shadows loomed large from all the empty cubicles and I broke into cold sweat.

I shut my machine off and hastily gathered my things and raced towards the door.

Here, let me talk a little about the layout of the office.

Like I said, My cubicle was at the far end. To come to the door that leads to the reception, I had to go past a lot of cubicles, and the pantry and the restrooms. Then comes the conference room and the door to the reception.

As I shot past the restroom doors, a light caught my eye. The Ladies’ washroom door was fully open with the stopper on. The ladies’ toilet door inside was also fully open and there sat the portly security on the pot, with his pants down.

I screamed as I raced past the reception, only to find the main door firmly locked.

Panicking, I desperately searched for the key. It was in place on the top-side of the glass door. How I managed to open the door, ran to the car park & started my car is still a huge blur in my mind.

But as I reversed down the sloping drive way (I had just started driving then & was yet to master this without the hand-brake), “Madam!” A voice called in the darkness.

I braked sharply and turned around to face the shame-faced security guard. ” I am so sorry madam” he said. “I thought no one was in the office. I’m really sorry madam” He rattled on.

Still shaken, I waved him off. “Its ok,” I croaked and zoomed out.

Needless to say, I never saw him again. Somebody else had replaced his shift from the next day.

When I narrated this to my colleagues the next day, there was a laugh-riot. People were laughing about it for days. Someone even made up a story that the guard had had a major crush on me and that was his Valentine’s gift to me…

But one female colleague was totally miffed with me.

Why?

“He came all the way down to apologise. Why the hell didn’t you blast him for using the ladies’?” She demanded. “I don’t even feel like going in there now”

Each unto his own… oops.. her own..

Nature trial…

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I signed up my son for a nature trail for toddlers.

Finding the concept extremely cute, I hoped to create magical memories for my child to treasure.

The day dawned bright and sunny. I woke up early, got myself ready and tried to wake him up.

I was a nervous wreck in 30 minutes. I had to drag him for bath, kicking & screaming… He refused to wear the full-sleeved clothing prescribed to protect him from mosquitoes… Refused to drink the milk I placed before him… Refused to eat the jam sandwich I put in his plate… And demanded tea. His wail brought the roof down and I caved in. Brewed his tea with more milk than water (consoling myself that half glass of milk in some form is better than no milk)

Took his own sweet time drinking it, while I was getting palpitations that it was time for us to meet the group at the venue and we were still at home.

Suddenly he announced he wanted to stay back to play with his Thomas Tank engine. I dealt with that too.

Then came the resistance to wearing socks.

This time I completely lost it. I gave him a piece of my mind, grabbed his little feet, stuffed them in a pair of socks, forced a pair of shoes, dragged him out by the scruff of his neck and half carried him down the stairs and dumped him in the car. All of these while I was shouting at him for always dragging his feet and how I never get anywhere on time because of him, so on and so forth.

Just when we turned the street corner, I realised I’d left my mobile back home. “Oh hell! I forgot my phone!” I exclaimed to nobody in particular. “Me too”. Said a small, sad voice from the other side. “I forgot my green color toy phone”

Suddenly my anger vanished and I was filled with with remorse. It was not his fault that we were late, was it? said a small voice in my head. At 3 and a half what sense did being punctual make to him?

I decided to be more tolerant and caring for the rest of the trip. After all, we were making memories here, remember?

Once we reached the venue, which was a park in central chennai, I was dismayed to find that there was no sign of any group. Of course! said another voice in my head. You arrive half an hour late and still expect them to wait around for you?

“Blast! Quick, Come on out!” I instructed my son. “They’ve gone in without us. We have to find them”

He held my hand for dear life while we sprinted into the park. Suddenly, he tugged at my arm. “Let me go!” He screamed. Before I realised what was happening, he had freed himself from my grasp and had run up the play area and was climbing the ladder as fast as he could.

All my earlier frustration returned with full force.

“Get down now!” I thundered. “We’re late for the trail!”

“I don’t want trail!” he bellowed, matching my volume. “I want to play!”

I waited till he slid down the slide, grabbed him by the waist when he was half way down and ran towards the interiors of the park.

Finally I joined the group, disheveled and bent out of shape after all the running and fighting.

The minute I deposited him with the other toddlers, he tried to make a run for the play area again. This time I was smarter. I handed him to one of the organisers and told her to keep a firm reign, since my words have no impact on him. She was a friendly young thing who soon achieved what I’d been failing to do for so long. Control him.

She led him firmly to the trail path and spoke to him cheerfully on what were supposed to be seeing.

The rest of the trail was uneventful. Not boring in the least, though. Just uneventful for my son. He dutifully hugged a tree to hear it drinking water, saw spider webs, observed a bunch of caterpillars on the underside of a leaf (this made him sit up and notice), Saw the roots of an upturned tree and finally sat under a huge tree. By then he was sweating profusely & hungry too. Gobbled up the cookies I’d packed for him and what was offered.

After sticking all the dry leaves we’d collected on to a paper and tracing out leaf patterns, it was time to go.

“Erm.. Can we go through the front gate?” I asked the organiser who’d taken care of my boy earlier. “he’ll just run back to the slides again”

“No, ma’m! We have some more activities planned in our centre to complete this trail. Don’t worry! I’ll bring him”

When there was no sign of both of them after ten minutes, I traced my steps back to the park to find him on a high tower like structure and the organiser standing below, asking him to come down.

“Need any help?” I asked.

“No, ma’m. You go back. I can manage.”

Sure enough she brought him to the centre in no time.

The planned activity was to get each child to plant a sapling and it was given to them as a keepsake.

The girls in the group enthusiastically fought for their turn. And proudly received their plants like a trophy.

My son? He was nowhere in the scene. Unfortunately, the centre had a play area too.

Again, the same young lady volunteered to drag him for planting. He was forcefully deposited in front of the co-ordinator. He dutifully followed her instructions, but was ready to run away at a moment’s notice. But they held him back till he finished planting and watered the plant. In the time it took the lady to bend down to pick up the potted plant to hand it to him, he had streaked off like a bullet. So I sheepishly received it for him.

Anyway that was last weekend.

Today, we were running late for school (as usual!). He was walking down the stairs in slow motion, while I was waiting impatiently in the landing.

He stopped. “Amma, look!” he said. ” A snake!” It was a teeny weeny centipede. “Its not a snake! Its a centipede. Just hurry up! We’re late! ” I yelled.

He squatted down on the step to observe the insect, unmindful of my haste or rising temper. “See, its moving towards a plant.”

Oh! the irony of it is just killing me!!!

parties and tambrahms…

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I love get-togethers. Not the flashy-poolside-party where my-clothes/trinkets-are-superior-to-yours kind, but the informal meeting-up-in-a-friend’s -place-for-a-meal types. I enjoy the sense of bonhomie which comes when you totally relax with a group of good friends.

I recently organised an informal cake-cutting for my spouse’s parent. I invited all the aunts & uncles living nearby and a whole load of cousins…

All of us had a great time. The cousins got together to rag the younger ones. The kids fought over toys.

The older generation enjoyed it too. They bonded together over Kolangal or some such melodramatic serial and sang “Happy Birthday to you” heartily and had a great time chatting up with each other, enjoyed the meal and waved goodnight and drove away to their various homes.

A month later, a friend asked why I did not organise the same thing for my own father whose birthday happened to be round the corner.

Coming from a non-tambrahm culture, she just didn’t get it.

Tambrahms are not the partying kind. Formal or informal. (This is my inference from all the tambrahms I’ve observed during my growing up years. There may be exceptions!)

Especially in my family circle, affection is generally expressed by shouting at each other.

Having married into a non-tambrahm family, the peace the house exuded hit me like a thunderbolt during the first few days of my marriage. No one shouted at anyone. No one called anyone names. Everyone wanted to live peacefully with each other.

Light years away from my own cantakerous home.

So a small birthday party was openly welcomed in my husband’s household.

But my friend’s query set me thinking.

I just imagined the same scenario in my parents’.

The images which popped up were downright comical.

My father would have been extremely self-conscious and would have masked this by being grumpy and barking at anyone who happened be within a 5 feet radius.

Any two of my aunts would be bellowing at each other about something as inane as the recipe for a dish being served.

Someone’s son-in-law would be sulking because he did not get the respect due to him.

His wife would be stage-whispering to someone how badly he was treated by the hostess (that’d be moi) by not saying”Vaango!” the proper way.

My brother would have shut himself in his room because he hates all the drama and hates polite conversation with anyone who’s not his colleague.

And I’ll be caught right in the middle of the fireworks, trying to please everyone around, including the birthday boy…

And various members of the older generation would constantly interrupt my juggling of egos by asking me “Where’s your brother?” or “Why is your father so rude to us?”

There might not be a cake-cutting after all.

Oh, I forgot! I’d have got scathing asides from various people present about serving something made with eggs in a shuddh, brahmin household.

And after everyone has gone home in various stages of sulking, I’d have had an earful from my brother about how unnecessary the whole thing was and how it ruined his peace.

Thanks, but no thanks! I’ll probably need weeks of therapy to get over the trauma…

I’ll just make do with a breezy “Happy Birthday” to my father on the phone interjected with my query on a recipe of pacchaimavupodi upma!

Peace unto the tambrahm household!!

working from home

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I work from home. Which has its perks. Especially with a small child.

When I was young, working moms were rare. Most of my pals from school had moms waiting at home with a snack for the evening. After which they supervised their homeworks.

I think I was the only one with a working mom in my class.

My brother & I opened the lock and entered an empty house, made some jam sandwiches or simply changed out of our uniforms and walked to a nearby bakery to have Gold spot, cake & Fivestar. After which we went on to play & came home only when we saw our mom walking home from the bus stop.

Most of my friends envied us for our freedom.

But sometimes I used to nag my mom to resign, so she could be home when we get back from school.

She always reasoned softly that she was in a government job (which was difficult to come by those days) and she just cannot throw it away…

Later on, when I was a trainee, I saw a senior colleague give up her full-time job to be with her kids. Since I stayed close to her, I was entrusted the job of dropping off work at her place on my way home and picking it up on my way to office. (This was the pre-email era) We had strict instructions never to call her between 2 and 4.30 pm, because it was nap time for her kids.

All this put together, I decided to be a work-at-home mom too when it was my turn.

Fortunately for me its much easier with the world wide web.

But I soon realised working from home is not for the faint-hearted.

The boundaries between work and home are so blurred…

Its pretty stressful to hear a client briefing you on a new job, while your baby’s howling away in the crib.

I’m terrified of sounding unprofessional, so I once spoke to a client in a full-fledged business-like tone, pretending to take notes while I was in fact wiping my son’s derriere!

I try not to ignore him while I’m working, so often I work after he sleeps at night. Sometimes from 12 at night to the wee hours in the morning!

And as Murphy’s law will have it, the child always falls sick when there’s a short deadline.

Sometimes the child choses to be most difficult when all you need is ten minutes of peace to finish some work which was actually needed yesterday.

Of course, there are some understanding colleagues & clients who’ll ask “Is this a good time to talk?” the minute they hear a whimper in the background.

But I don’t miss working in an office.

No mad rush to beat the traffic to reach office on time…

No attendance register to give me a red line when I arrive 10 minutes late for work…

No layers of hierarchy for anything…

No twiddling of thumbs and getting bored when there’s no work…

No guilt trips if I check personal mail during working hours…

The list is endless.

But I do miss the general camaraderie and of course the lunchtime gossip-sessions.

But they seem a small price to pay for the freedom otherwise!

For starters, I can blog as and when I please!