Family Matters

Sew Cruel

I’ve been trying to teach myself how to sew for a few months now. This desire to operate a sewing machine didn’t stem from any designer aspirations as much as it did from the frustration of having busted seams on the sleeves of once favourite tops and altering tight/loose clothes into better fitting ones as opposed to giving them away to smaller/larger friends and relatives.

I can now hem neatly, and a lot of my older clothes are more wearable now thanks to my alterations. 
A week ago, I got started on my most ambitious project yet, to stitch a basic saree blouse. I’d taken the measurements from a blouse I had already owned and things were going swimmingly until I had to measure out the sleeves. I ironed my alavu blouse’s sleeve to get the perfect measurement and lo – the iron box had left a large gaping hole in the silk sleeve because I hadn’t the basic sense to reduce the temperature on the iron while switching fabrics from cotton to silk. 
It took my eyes a good two minutes to adjust to the horror which was this crooked hole marring my otherwise beautiful, floral printed silk blouse. I thought about crying, almost did and nearly gave my new hobby up altogether. Then, in what felt like a Tim Gunn inspired trance, I removed the sleeves completely, and carefully hemmed the edges, making the half sleeve blouse, a sleeveless one. The final, altered product looked as good as the original, if not better, and I don’t think any project that I had undertaken thus far in my life had given me the amount of satisfaction that this sleeve operation did. In my obvious excitement, I texted my sister photos of the blouse with the hole, and what it looked like when it was fixed. 
It feels brilliant to know how to sew, I told her. Isn’t it the most useful thing in the world? I can teach you, you know. Basic hems and stitches to fix holes and stuff in case something like this happens to you too.  
Oh that won’t be necessary, she told me silkily. I know how to use an iron. 

Thoughts on a Saturday

A few weeks ago, I attended a dinner party organized by a group of my father’s friends. It was standard as far as dinner parties went – nobody could completely recognize everybody, the kids were bored out of their minds and everybody laughed uproariously at jokes that weren’t at all funny.

While all of this was happening, one of the guests came up to me, and asked me what I was doing at work. When I did tell him what I was doing he smiled sympathetically and told me, very gently, that it wasn’t good for anything, and that I should be considering alternatives if I wanted to make money, and if I really wanted to succeed. Look at me, he said, and went on to list all his dazzling achievements which he dazzlingly achieved during his dazzling days in the practice and even after he left practice, before he asked me if I had an exit plan in mind, and whether it was as dazzling as his own.

I started to make a bad joke about raising cows only to get cut off with a serious response about the potential of organic farming, and how his own organic farm (that will do dazzlingly in the future, I’m sure) is shaping up instead. Thankfully, my exit plan appeared a few minutes later in the form of his kid who wanted ice-cream and I slipped out of sight to another corner in the room with the hope that I wouldn’t have to see him again.

I get really unnerved when people who are senior to me discuss their career accomplishments with me, and more so when it is accompanied by advice (which is usually unsolicited). I think it probably is because of the fact that my personal definition of what constitutes an achievement has always been very fuzzy. I don’t know if that is because of the way I was brought up. My parents were never the ‘punishing’ type – failures, and awful marks would be met with disappointed faces and the statement – “It’s your future. We can only do so much.”. Good performances, and academic success was met with happiness, but they were never really surprised or even labelled such performances as “achievements”, or whatever it is that gives you the ego that comes along with having accomplished something.

My sister and I have never let good performances really get into our heads, but I remember the time when I’d just passed CA – I was extraordinarily smug and possessed the arrogance of someone who had touched the moon by building a ladder made entirely of toothpicks. My mother went on to prick my ego balloon by telling me that passing CA was the least I could’ve done, given my background – My father is a Chartered Accountant, and even if that wasn’t a factor, I attended the best classes one could attend/money could buy, had access to every book I’d ever need and the best environment required to study – The only odds I had to overcome were my own tendencies to sleep on my textbooks and not pay attention to my teachers and the fact that I failed despite everything that was provided to me was more of an achievement than my passing. You milked a cow and got milk, my mother had told me. Tell me about the day you milked a cow and got orange juice, and I’ll let you have an ego then.

Today, I’m still looking to really achieve, do things in ways that only I could’ve done, but it seems stupid to say oh, I want to achieve without even knowing what I want to achieve. I know quite a few people who seem to have it figured out, who seem to know exactly where they will be, ten, fifteen years from now. I don’t. What I do know, though, is that I don’t want to be in my forties giving unsolicited advice to young people about how they should be living their lives.

And that, I suppose, is as good a start as any.

So, How's Married Life?

If I had a rupee every time I was asked how married life was, I’d have had a dollar in my hand right now. Initially, I tried answering this question with sincerity, but it turns out “Married life a? But it’s only been 3 days” is not an answer that is popular with the masses, so these days when asked the question on text, I offer my standard reply of “Oh it’s great. I’m having a really good time!” followed by numerous smiley faces. Being interrogated about your “married life” during socializing I’ve found, is more of a challenge because unlike text messaging, it is difficult to ignore the assorted follow-up questions that tail my standard smile-and-“it’s good!”-answer (Standard smile because if I were to show exactly how happy I am being married, most people would think I’m on a pretty potent blend of recreational drugs).

Say Crack Again.

The questions are more or less typical depending on the person asking it – unmarried acquaintances and friends want to know everything about my new domestic setup, older couples want to know if I am “having fun” (after which they say “Enjoy this time, you will not get it again” the same way one would to a prisoner on death row), and grandmothers want to know about the goings-on in my bedroom.

A couple of days ago though, I was asked if I’ve learned anything. I have actually: To begin with –

I Am Not A Domestic Goddess (Also the title of my upcoming Romance Novel)

The eight months or so that I was engaged, my father gave me a free hand at office to take time off whenever I wanted to. I suppose it was wise on his part to leave me alone because:

a. I am counter-productive to his practice as is, and

b. having a distracted me around would’ve made his office like one of those sitcoms where there’s this strict boss but everything goes wrong for him and the audience finds it hilarious and keeps laughing except it’s not a sitcom and there’s no audience and he might lose all his clients and we might be too broke to have the wedding and OHMYGOD LET ME OUT OF THIS NIGHTMARE.

So when I wasn’t in the middle of wedding shopping or wedding running-behind-the-tailor or wedding hanging-out-with-fiance, Amma said I should take the time to learn a few things about “running a household” and “taking charge of the kitchen” or she wouldn’t be able to step out in society without being referred to as The Mother Of The Daughter in Law Who Can’t Cook Haha and then be scarred with that reputation forever. I was quite enthusiastic of course – I had been watching a lot of Nigella and surely Domestic Goddess-ness couldn’t be that hard (especially considering the number of cupcake bakers on Facebook); and so I decided to take the time to learn new things. Unfortunately, all I learned was how to mercilessly burn three pans while endeavouring to master a brownie recipe and leaving a permanent stain on my mother’s new frying pan trying to make Aloo Methi. While I’d like to think of these things as tangible memories that I’ve left behind for my mother so that she can recall fond memories of my presence in that kitchen and then cry some happy tears, my sister tells me that the moistness in my mother’s eyes are not from bittersweet happiness, but relief.

Whatever.

A day or two after the husband and I came back from our honeymoon, I decided the time had come for me to exhibit my skill in the kitchen. Unfortunately, before I could as much as light the stove, I tripped over the metal door stopper and scraped a lot of skin on my foot resulting in a fair bit of bleeding (I held on to my trademark ladylike composure though, I doubt anyone could’ve hopped, skipped or squealed with the grace that I did) and I had to be taken to the hospital by my mother-in-law for a proper dressing and a really nasty tetanus shot. 

Amma dropped by the next day, and my mother-in-law gently patted my head and told her about how I was a poor thing who had to unnecessarily experience pain and go to the hospital, all because I had wanted to cook something. “Imagine what would’ve happened” said Amma thoughtfully, “if she had actually cooked”

[More lessons on married life shall be posted here as and when they are learned]

Band Baaja Bridezilla

[Originally written for & Published in Outlook India (Web). The theme is a little recurring, but what to do etc]


I got engaged to be married last November. The engagement was a rather unique event, since it happened without the boy actually being present. This was because of multiple reasons, including the fact that my fiancé was in New York at that time and my parents, understandably, wanted to close the deal before he understood what exactly he was marrying into.

Anyway, once he came back, our parents hosted a party for friends and family to introduce us as a couple. On the day of the party, because of a gaffe on the part of the salon where I got my hair done, my fabulous blow dry looked fabulous for exactly 10 minutes before I ended up looking like Cousin It from the Addams Family. I wasn’t happy, but after the first 10 minutes, I didn’t let it bother me. This evening wasn’t about me, or the fact that I resembled a sari-clad scarecrow. It was about the fact that people wanted to celebrate two individuals who had just decided to spend their lives together! Right?

Wrong.

Throughout the evening and for quite a few weeks after, I got a lot of people coming up to me to laud me on my not breaking down (“I don’t know how you did it!”), to the point where you’d think I’d just single-handedly saved a village from a Tsunami while discovering the cure for cancer and breaking Michael Phelps’ freestyle record simultaneously, as opposed to have just had a bad hair day. Some more optimistic people, in their bid to cheer me up told me, “At least it wasn’t the wedding!”, because God forbid there’s a slip in the way I looked on that day, then you know, my whole life is likely to be in tatters.

A wedding today, has evolved, no, mutated from being a celebration of family and commitment to this major party where the focus is only on one person— the bride. In case you haven’t noticed, there aren’t any wedding magazines around— only bridal, with maybe half a page (if they’re feeling generous) dedicated to the other sundry details, such as the concept of marriage, or the groom. Every single one of those bridal magazines insist that you can never be good enough for ‘your big day’, never mind that your partner liked you the way you had been all this time. You might be skinny, they say, but are you a toned skinny? Your skin might be clear, but is it glowing, sun-kissed and radiant? Your outfit might be pretty, but is it Designer (and roughly the cost of an island in the Maldives)?

No?

Me neither, which apparently makes me a poor naive country boor hick-bumpkin, because clearly I wasn’t aware of the fact that I have only one day to be happy, or that there are going to be photographs (PHOTOGRAPHS!) or that my wedding album is the only legacy I can leave for the next seven generations that are poised to spring out from my uterus and that unless I want to be referred to as “Double Chin Kollu Paati” by my great grandchildren, it becomes my foremost responsibility to do everything I can to resemble Indian Sari Princess Barbie.

Comrades, I confess. I’ve been dreaming about my wedding even before I was engaged, okay, even before I was even legal. Yes, I wanted the pretty clothes, I wanted the big party, but most of all, I wanted to be happy. Today I’m on the other side— I’ve seen enough sarees to go colour blind, looked at enough decor themes to make me wonder if I’m organizing a wedding or a full scale Disneyland musical, listened to enough wedding “advice” to compile an 8 book series and it all makes me want to burst multiple blood vessels, when the truth is that I am over the moon about getting married. You see, Bridezillas aren’t born. They are made.

It’s only when you take a step back do you realize that it’s just one day. One day. All that really matters is what is going to happen in the days, years and months that follow and not whether your earrings are colour coordinated with the stage arrangements. I really don’t want to go into my wedding like I’ve been preparing for some covert siege attack (or a reality television show) where failure will result in dire consequences. I don’t want to remember my wedding as a day where I lost whatever little left of my hair worrying about arm fat or the caterer, but as a day where I had fun, and I was happy. If that means not having my Disneyland perfect wedding, then so be it. I’d rather have a Disneyland perfect marriage.

Like A Telephone

In March this year, my parents announced that they were going to start looking for a “suitable boy” for me. I wasn’t particularly surprised, but I did try, initially, to give them the “I’ll find a boy myself” dialogue, which was met with my parents roaring with laughter, after which I stopped trying to give them that, because who was I kidding anyway – I wasn’t capable of finding my own phone most of the time, so suffice to say that finding “suitable” boys wasn’t really a part of my skill set. 
Fast forward many, many tantrums (me) and abnormal blood pressure levels (my parents) to today, I am engaged. I KNOW, RIGHT?! It’s been a little more than a month since I’ve been engaged. I waited this long for it to sink in, but it still hasn’t.  Maybe it was a little too much on my part to assume that there was going to be this great change which involved the skies parting and a holy game show voice from the heavens announcing that my life was to change forever. Life is still the same, but a little different, kind of like consecutive Harris Jayaraj songs.  
A lot of people to whom I broke the news to are really happy that I am getting married at the age of twenty four, which I find pretty interesting because to be honest, I had been secretly preparing myself for the “You’re getting married NOW? But you’re only as old as a baby-foetus!” speeches.  So when people tell me I’ve made the right decision by deciding to wed now, it sounds great, like I’ve put a great deal of thought into it, outlined pros and cons in some important looking notepad (with flowcharts!) and everything, but truth be told the primary reason I decided to get married now is because I wanted to look nice (while I still could) in the wedding photographs. Like, priorities.

Speaking of weddings, I would be lying through my teeth, gums even, if I said I had no idea about how I wanted my wedding to be before all this really happened. I had a vague idea, ok no, I had a good idea, ok fine, I had been planning the entire ceremony in my head the last couple of years, including invites, a wedding food menu, three alternate colour schemes for the decor, what I’d wear, everything. Well, almost everything – I hadn’t thought about this one minor detail concerning who the boy I’d actually marry would be. Insignificant stuff. 
So naturally, at the start, I was pretty protective of my very own fairy tale wedding that I had conjured in my head (and in my Pinterest account), and when people started giving me suggestions about what to do, I’d give them the same reaction that most people would when you ask them to surgically alter their baby’s face. But soon I realized how much WORK all of this was and that if I was to get into everything, I’d be well on my way to getting permanent residence in the asylum at Kilpauk. It was at that moment, that my inner organizational genius awoke and I realized, that the key to planning a successful wedding is efficiency, a resolve of steel and advanced organizational skill. Once I attained this moment of enlightenment, I most efficiently dumped as many responsibilities as I could on my mother before she could realize what was happening.  
Yes, I might not get to choose my invites, I might not get to choose my wedding food menu, I might not get to choose the décor, and I might not get to choose most of what is going to happen around me those two days, but I’m not too worried about it. After all, I got to choose the boy. 

Lost In Translation

Every
once in a while, I get all Indiana Jones And The Cave Of Horrors and try to
clean my room up. Now what usually happens in my pursuit of organizational
nirvana (you know, the kind that I can take pictures of and post on instagram
and brag about on twitter) is that I bring everything that’s inside shelves
onto the floor and in the process, discover some boxes of chewing gum that
probably dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization, Salman Rushdie novels
whose pages one to three are very soiled because I kept reading it again and
again trying to understand what he’s saying, but failed miserably and
eventually gave up on reading, lots of notebooks filled with either
miscellaneous calculations for currency swaps or long winding sentences. Then, just
as I’m about to begin the actual cleaning process, my mother calls me to eat
and I end up forgetting all about my mission to make my room fit for human
habitation. Eventually, our Man Friday who comes in the next morning just puts
everything back in its old place, exactly the way it was before – He has a
special talent when it comes to recreating a mess.
So
yesterday, when I was seriously pursuing my new favourite hobby of time-wasting-on-Pinterest,
I saw a couple of organization blogs which immediately kindled my inner
Organizational Goddess (whose appearance is only more frequent than my inner
Baking Goddess – trust me, you don’t want to ever call her unless you need to
like, burn a kitchen down or something) and keeping in line with protocol, I
started pulling down stuff from shelves when I chanced upon an envelope of
photos that I’d printed and meant to put into an album but like most things I
mean to do, I’d conveniently forgotten about it. So like all people who try to
find excuses to stop cleaning after they make a giant mess, I absolutely had to
go through those pictures and get nostalgic about whatever it was.
It
turned out they were pictures from our family’s vacation to Hong Kong &
Singapore from a couple of years ago, also known as those 12 days I didn’t have
any internet and it turned out internet is overrated when you actually
have a life. AND THEN I REMEMBERED THAT I NEVER WROTE ANYTHING ABOUT THAT
VACATION ON MY BLOG WHICH IS SO SAD, IN FACT, SADDER THAN THOSE
K.BALACHANDAR MOVIES THEY SHOW ON KTV EVERY WEEKDAY AFTERNOON WHERE EVERYONE
DIES.
Anyway.
The
most striking memory from that vacation is when we got to go to one particular
city in China, called Shenzhen, which was apparently the China part of “Made in
China”. It was pretty amazing – apart from all the crazy manufacturing that
they did, it was also the place where they made all the fakes, and not just
designer bags or whatever (That said, the FakeLouisVuitton and FakeGucci bags I
saw were so genuine looking that I’m pretty sure they even made fake FakeLouisVuitton
bags). I mean, they make fake EVERYTHING. They even have this sort of park
where they have fake 7 Wonders of The World. Like Fake Eiffel Tower, Fake
Pyramids, Fake Taj Mahal – it’s faking awesome (See what I did there?).
But
this story is not about those gorgeous but fake Chanel 2.55 bags I saw there.
This is about how, on our way back to Hong Kong from Shenzhen, we were detained
by passport control at the Train Station, who took us into their office for “questioning”.
My father was very confident that we just happened to be part of their
compulsory random check, and asked us to keep cool, but my mother was totally
freaked out, as if the authorities suspected us to be armed and dangerous
Russian Ninja Assassins who were trying to spark a Nuclear War, which is crazy
because we’re not even Russian. My mother got completely paranoid and suddenly
started chanting Hanuman Chalisa and MantharaRajaPadam Sthothram under her
breath in between high pitched whines in Tamil that involved calling the
Chinese Passport Authorities “Shaniyan”. Very cool.  
In
the middle of all this I was sitting and copying a Chinese character from a
flyer that was next to me, on to the back of my wrist with a black ball point pen.
About
fifteen minutes later, the Authorities confirmed that we were neither Russian nor
Ninja and let us leave. Just as he let us out, one of the guys at the door,
pointed to my wrist and smiled, which I thought was awesome – maybe my attempts
at copying Chinese characters was what had actually changed their minds and forged
a new bond of trust. I beamed back, fully convinced that I had done my part as
a Future Ambassador to the Country, when I realized his smile was less smile
and more smirk. Two more guys spotted my ballpoint-inked wrist and started giggling. Some Engrish and lots of dubstep dance moves later, I got to know that the flyer that was next to me was about the symptoms of Bird Flu and the character that I had been so intently drawing on my arm was the Chinese symbol for…Diarrhea. 
On the bright side, at least I didn’t use a permanent marker. 
PS – In case you want to suggest a fun tattoo idea to a friend, here you go: 泻

Why I Don’t Swim Anymore And Other Excuses

If I were to think of the one thing I’ve spent most time and energy on while growing up, it’s definitely on coming up with excuses to avoid taking sports related classes. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching sport. There’s the drama, the sentiment, the thrill and great looking caucasian dudes taking their shirts off. But when it comes to playing, it’s just total trauma because I am an athletic disaster. No really, I’ve been told I have negative hand eye co-ordination, the stamina of a dead squirrel and that I’m generally doomed to be a total failure in sport by like 8 different instructors thus far. So if you think about it, I’m kinda like Abraham Lincoln except for the minor detail about him eventually overcoming his failures and becoming President and me still being a failure.  
My mother thinks I have a talent when it comes to coming up with excuses – but the one thing people don’t usually understand about great excuses is that they aren’t made. They just happen. When I was 5, my father apparently had this vision of me becoming a swimming champion (on an unrelated note, I see where my hyperactive imagination comes from) and just like that, I was enrolled into swimming classes at Savera. Have you guys seen the pool at Savera? In case you haven’t I MUST describe it – IT’S CREEPY AS HELL. You know, in normal-people-land, swimming pools are just like giant tubs with blue tiles, because that’s how they’re meant to be. But no, the pool at Savera has like mosaic sea creatures. They start out as friendly seeming fish in the shallow end, become mosaic mermaids (or whatever) in the 5′ – 7′ level and finally, very evil looking giant fish in 12′ deep, dark end. For a really long time I was convinced that the deep end had these bloodthirsty sharks which ate children. And were invisible. 
As if the invisible shark pool wasn’t intimidating enough, the swimming instructor (Terror Sir) was the stuff nightmares was made of. In our second class, he pulled us out of the nice, safe, shallow end and made us (about 6 of us, mostly 5, 6 year olds) line up near the deep end. And then, he pushed us in. Just like that. When you’re like roughly three feet tall, this is crazy scary – imagine being pushed in to this crazy mosaic fish pool (which probably had invisible sharks) with no warning, no floating aids and NO TRAINING. When I came back home after class that evening (I managed to escape the sharks thanks to my mad grab-the-nearest-adult-in-the-water-and-holler-until-he-helps-you-out-of-the-water skills) I was a mess. I begged, I pleaded, I even did the kicking that I was supposed to have done in the water to get out of swimming classes. My mom was unfazed ofcourse, even with my dramatic re-telling of how I nearly drowned to death. “The next time he makes you jump in, just say ‘Jai Anjaneya!’. Nothing will happen!” 
(In case you are wondering, I actually tried this the next class – Instead of my usual 500 decibel shriek, I went in with a 500 decibel JAI ANJANEYA! war-cry. I got out and didn’t burst into hysterical sobs after I was out of the pool – This was a huge deal, and not surprisingly, it caught on among my peers as well.  Pretty soon there was even like this mini-contest among us with respect to who can say JAI ANJANEYA! the loudest while jumping in. I still sucked at swimming though.)
Basically, my parents just wouldn’t let anything deter them from their ambition to mould me into an Asian Games hopeful, which was really sad because I hated swimming, as much as I hated the times Terror Sir would like dunk my head in the water as punishment whenever I displayed my incapability in the water, which was all the time. I played sick (“Swimming will make you feel better!”), I played scared (“Anjaneya is there no? He’ll take care of you!”) and I even played the bad girl card – I kicked Terror Sir right on the stomach in the pretext of improving my freestyle. This did not go well either, because he went and told my parents that I had the legs of a swimming champion and that I should extend my classes.  
Just when I thought I had run out of excuses, one evening we were let into the kiddy pool for an entire hour because Terror Sir was too busy terrorizing his senior students for some competition the next day. The kiddy pool in Savera is also a piece of work – it’s a small pool made even smaller thanks to a GIANT Shiva-Parvati statue bang in the middle with a chlorine Ganga spouting from Shiva’s head. Some kids took it really seriously and would insist on playing “Temple Temple” during our splashing time and we’d form this line and go around the statue and drink some chlorinated water as our Prasadam. Anyway, so there we were, obediently circling Shiva-Parvati-Chlorine-Ganga when one of the boys (I’m just going to call him Oneboy cause I don’t remember his name) started yelling for his mother. Oneboy’s mom showed up looking all tired and exasperated snapped at him asking what the matter was. Apparently, Oneboy really really really needed to go use the loo on the other side of the pool to susu. 
But Oneboy’s mom just rolled her eyes and was like “Why can’t you just do it there?”  
Oneboy yelled right back at his Mom – “That is only in big pool! I can’t susu on God, okay!” 
My mother who was nearby, overhearing all this, quietly told me to get out of the pool – and just like that I was relieved from swimming classes. Goes to prove that if Lavanya cannot come up with an excuse, the excuse shall come to Lavanya. 

On Cows

The family made a trip to the ancestral village (and many many temples) last weekend. I jumped at the opportunity, ofcourse. It was my one big chance to write that moving documentary on India’s Rural Landscapes, which would eventually pave it’s way into becoming the inspiration behind the script of the next Bharatiraaja movie, and stand as our family’s greatest achievement, and maybe even overshadow 1970s-IIT athimber’s letter to The Hindu. “Did you hear?” they would say in the next family gathering (I say gathering and not get together/function, because ours gossips at deaths too. But not about the deceased of course. We save that for the next death. Keep it classy, people) “She wrote a moving documentary on the rural landscapes of India which eventually paved it’s way into becoming the inspiration for the next Bharatiraaja movie!” 
“Really? How nice. Did you hear Calcutta Paati’s grand daughter eloped?” 
Because you know, only a true achievement would be discussed before someone eloping. 
Unfortunately, the only landscape I got to investigate the entire weekend was that of my digestive system’s since I had (most predictably) succumbed to travel sickness. But, but. During my  fleeting stay in the village I discovered something that could change my life forever. 
Cows. 
Lots of cows. Managing cows. Mooing cows. Healthy cows. Cheese. Paneer. Milk. Ramaraj. Maybe not Ramaraj, but it was definitely something that could change my life forever. Even if it didn’t, it seemed like a pretty great excuse to sell to my father at that time to avoid the heart burn/attack/pain/brain hemorrhage etc of writing CA Final in case I flunked again, which was a very real possibility.  
“Appa, who takes care of all these cows?”
“In the village, I think every one has their own set of cows. I don’t think one person owns them all.”
“Is there a Dairy Farm close by?”
“No, I don’t think so. But considering the number of cows here, and the space available, there should be.”
“I think I should start one. It would be a great alternate career if results aren’t in my favor.”
“Hahahahahaha! Definitely. If you’d known this was what you wanted to do before, you needn’t have studied so much! But let me ask you something, you’re sure you’ll go around telling people that you’re taking care of a bunch of cows?”
“Ha. I thought about this, so I came up with an excellent name for my organization.  I’ll call it Kamalapuram Pasu Management Group. So if anyone asks anything, I’ll be like Oh, I’m the Director at KPMG!” 
My father laughed uproariously for twenty minutes.

“Hehe.” I offered.

“You’re joking only no?”

“Not really.”

And he laughed for twenty more. 

PS: BY THE BYS! Results did turn out in my favour! I’m a Chartered Accountant now! But I still think the Dairy Farm is a great idea.
PPS: Pasu is tamil for cow.

Birthday Bumps

I turned thirteen not too long ago. Fine, close to 10 years ago. I don’t remember much of how I was at that time, which, knowing me, is probably a good thing, but what I do remember is my thirteenth birthday. 

Very clearly. 
My parents had just arranged for what they called a  “small family get together”, which in our family’s case almost always translates into a mini mob of close to 70 people. So there I was, birthday girl, in my orange shirt and super flare grey jeans (I just confirmed that with the photos) which made me look about 2 feet shorter and wider simultaneously, being all happy and birthday girl like and getting a lot of cash from wallet-happy relatives while waiting for more wallet-happy relatives to assemble so that I could cut my beautiful cake. No seriously, it was beautiful. It was yellow, with white frosting and it had my name on it. I was in love. Let me clarify something here – when I was 13, actually, even 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, I had a love-love relationship with food, which explained my extraordinarily startling resemblance to a sintex tank. Then things changed, but more on that later. 
Fifteen long minutes of staring at the cake later, the crowd had gathered, the candles had been lit, a bunch of 3 year olds next to me had started licking the icing off the sides and my mom handed me the knife. I blew the candles out among the awkward singing, when my 6 year old sister started screaming, and it wasn’t just any kind of screaming, it was the kind of high pitched screaming that should be patented for use by ambulances and firetrucks. The crowd became silent. She didn’t stop screaming. And then there were tears. And screaming. 
My mother was the first to react. “Did you stamp her foot?” she asked me. 
Thanks mom. 
“No!” 
“Then what is the issue?” 
“Ask her!” 
“Kannamma. What’s the issue?” 
Sidenote: Don’t you just hate it when a birthday ruining brat is called cute names? 
“Ammmaaa.” She said in between sobs. “She’s cutting the cake! ” 
“Yes, kuttima. It’s her birthday no?” 
“But I want to cut the cake!”
“Your birthday was in January, remember? You cut a big cake no?” 
“Noooo” she cried and started bawling even louder.  
My mother picked her up and tried to calm her down by calling her some more cute baby names and some enthu relatives even gave her birthday money (when it wasn’t even her birthday!). I tried to quickly cut the cake while she was distracted by the money, but there was no escaping her CIA spy camera eyes because the moment I picked the knife up, she started wailing again. 
My father finally decided to intervene. “You have to do something about her voice! My glasses are about to shatter any second.”
“I’m trying! Kutti, you can also cut the cake ok? Let Akka cut, and then you cut. Ok?” 
More screaming. 
“Enough!” my father proclaimed. I was overjoyed. Finally, the brat could be locked up until my party was over. 
“Lavanyaaaaa, let Vathoo cut the cake no? Look at her, she won’t stop crying. Be mature now. You’re grown up no?” 
“But Appaa..”
“Please? You’re a ChamathuKutti* no?” 
And so, the ChamathuKutti, very very reluctantly handed over the knife to the now beaming, evil, little birthday spoiling monster to cut the cake. Like, between the two of us, I’d have rather been the Cut-The-Cake-Kutti than the ChamathuKutti. 
That was in 2002. Flash forward to this Friday, 6th January 2012, when my sister celebrated her all important 16th Birthday. The cake arrived right on time for the party and this is what it looked like.
Moral of the Story : Karma loves only ChamathuKuttis. 
*Chamathu Kutti – Generally obedient and sweet little kid which I totally am, by the way. 

Bullets

Some people were asking me to write and some other people were asking me if I was too busy to. The thing was, I used to be all My-Blog-Grammatically-Correctest and made a decision that if I ever were to write blogs and all, they had to be like publishable. Then I realized that I don’t really have anything like that the last three years I have been writing here anyway, so yes, I’m afraid all of you all have no choice but to put up with another update of my life you didn’t really ask for.

1. I just realized all the cool people are doing and saying what all the uncool people were/are doing and saying to be cool. I am sure all of you all have noticed the widespread usage of worst spellings and SunMusic I love you Arthy by G.Siva SMS language floating around in all these social networks and being used by cool people. I had always been one uncool only, but one word which I have major issues against, but everyone (cool people also!) seems to be using is Hai. There is something about that spelling which disturbs me. This is the first time I’m saying it out loud, by the way. Had I said it before, I assume my extremely well educated, late grandfather would have made me sit down for a sermon about how I am being unnecessarily elitist and how the French spell and pronounce Anglaish worse than the Indians do, but they’re proud of the fact that they can speak a language apart from French and never poke fun of their countrymen but we’re the ones who do and also that Hi isn’t even a proper word to have a proper spelling and that I should be proud of the fact that we came up with the phonetically superior spelling, much like the Americans who came up with program and color instead of programme and colour.

I am glad we never had that discussion. Also, Hai (Two Ramya Iyengar Bakery sandwiches says you cringed).

2. I am sure all of you all are aware of the fact that the family put one numbers trip to our Ancestral Village, the village where aforementioned grandfather was born. If you weren’t, it’s ok. My family put one numbers trip to our Ancestral village. I had always been of the opinion that Thamizh Movies exaggerated the whole village scene but I got mild metaphorical current shock when I realized that they don’t. The village I went to looked just like the one in that 1980s movie where Ramaraj has all these unnatural feelings for Cows. And Kanaga. We went to the Banks of one of the tributaries (8th standard geography I remember, see) of  Kaveri/Cauvery/Caveri/Kauvery as well. It was very smelly, but it was also very cool. Maybe it was the smell of coolness.

3. Then what. Oh yes. I worked in my father’s office for a couple of weeks on an assignment. I had two other colleagues working with me. One played the mridangam and the other was 7 feet tall. But both of them were petrified of my father so I was very glad to know that we shared common ground.

4. I hope all of you all aren’t of the opinion that I write numbered paragraphs all the time. Because I don’t. Sometimes I put bullets.