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I am not a fashion blogger

The Swedish fast fashion giant H&M finally opened its doors to Chennai yesterday after a year and a half of having a presence in India, and a few months after it opened in Mumbai. If you’re from here, you’d that this is astonishingly quick. We’re still waiting for Forever21 to start shop, and for Zara to stop selling fur lined jackets during Chennai summers. I had no plans of going on opening day for the same reason I avoid zoos during school holidays, but after swiping through the barrage of posts on my instagram that morning, it became increasingly difficult to resist, and I caved in at around 4 pm. My sister, who has as many opinions as she has clothes, came with me.

Out, Damned Spot!

The store covers two floors, with one floor (ground) stocking women’s clothes and accessories, and the one on top for men’s and kids. We entered through the ground floor, and the first set of clothes we saw were from their Autumn Winter ’16 collection. Think sateen bomber jackets with patches on, short, sparkly lurex skirts and jumpsuits, sheer blouses and other clothes that are categorized under party/festive. I personally categorize them as ‘clothes I’m too old for’. My sister picked up a beautiful, slinky emerald dress from their conscious collection but closer inspection revealed a medium sized, murky stain. There was only one more piece in her size (small), and unfortunately, even that had a stain. My sister loved the dress so much that she tried scratching at the stain in the hope that it would go away, but it didn’t. Later, when we explained the situation at the billing counter, the sales assistant had a go at scratching it as well, and then put it away. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. In hindsight, we could’ve just asked for a discount.

Such Fashion Much Wow

What really surprised me about the H&M store was the crowd there.We knew we’d encounter groups of squealy girls (who were squealing about finding clothes in extra small sizes), but we had no idea that everyone there would be so…well dressed. Like I don’t think I’ve ever encountered so many well dressed people from Chennai per square foot until that day, and it didn’t help that my sister and I were in old kurtas and pants because well, it was H&M. Who dresses up for going to a shop that’s renowned for selling cheap, trendy clothing?

h&m chennai, h&m, H&M india, H&M chennai review
Aren’t they the prettiest earrings?

Clothes in, Clothes out

Between my sister and myself, we got a dress, a pair of pants, three tops, and a pair of earrings, all from their conscious collection . It’s also worth noting that they have their conscious bins in the store. If you bring in a bag of old clothing (brand no bar), they will recycle it for you and give you a 15% discount on your bill. So if you’ve a lot of stuff that you want to get rid of, I’d recommend this approach! I’d also recommend you read about the dangers of the fast fashion industry, minimalism, and the growing tribe of women who are adopting the capsule wardrobe approach. I’m personally a huge fan of a particular sustainable shopping method called ‘steal from your sister’. It really works.

A Small Sizing Problem

The store stocks an impressive collection of basic dresses, tops and tees in their trademark you-can-see-my-bra-in-this-right jersey and nasty-but-will-last-a-long-time polyester blend materials, and clothes from their sporty/nautical LOGG brand. There was also a nice denim section, a compact plus-size section, and a lingerie department which we couldn’t see much of because the massive queue for the few trial rooms had invariably spilled over there. We did see some cute swimsuits, though. I hope they plan to restock them more often, and that it wasn’t an opening day thing where they never restock and the stray bottoms that don’t sell just wilt on the hangers for years to come. The store has a decent selection of work wear, active wear and maternity clothes as well, but it must be said that the smaller sizes are fewer in number (we feel you, squealy girls), although I’m not sure if it was because the morning crowds snapped them all up.

Now, do they have the full collection from their catalogue? No. If you look at the website, you’ll know that only 40% is in store. Like, their shoe selection was bleak – apart from a few basic pumps, the only other option was shearling booties, which make zero sense unless you’re a trendy sherpa taking a break in Chennai. Still, it’s not entirely hopeless, and knowing this city’s luck with fashion, that’s as good a start as any.

2014 in Review

Another year is upon us! As it is with every new year that sneaks upon us every December, I hate it already. I was very sure that 2014 would be crappy, but looking back, it wasn’t as crappy as I had initially expected it to be. Here is a personal roundup –

1. I used a planner for the whole year – I’ve been buying a planner every year the last five years but 2014 was the first year where I actually used it to plan my day as opposed to my usual ritual of writing one sentence and then using it for bookshelf beautification. I think the key to like, really making the most of your planner is by using it purely on a day to day basis. Don’t waste time on filling out birthdays in the “Months” section because it’s 2014, and we’ve all got facebook for that.

2. I learned to be more ambitious…and more open to failure – Failure and me, we’re like those two people who aren’t really friends, but have like 3571 mutual friends and keep commenting and annoying each other on our common friend’s wall posts. We don’t know each other, but we know each other, you know what I mean – the dude is always lurking. This year, I finally sent out that friend request. I started a lot of projects this year, some were great, some were O-K and some, I don’t even know what I was thinking. But all of them, I started with the knowledge that it was TOTALLY OK if it bombed. That really gave me the freedom to go all out and enjoy myself doing those projects and yes, I didn’t do as well as I would’ve liked, but I had fun, I learned a little more about myself and it’s all so much better when failure is a friend. I do not, however, recommend this “friending failure” approach where academics and exams are concerned.


3. I made an effort – So 2014 wasn’t really the greatest year where my friendships were concerned. I had always been lazy in that department, but this year a few things happened where I really was affected to the point where I had to totally rethink the way I created my friendships, and how I maintained them. I started from scratch again, did some spring cleaning for the old, neglected ones, and went out and actively built new ones. I honestly am happier now for the effort that I made. Looking back, I’d like to think of the stuff that went down the drain as the hair that you lose when you shower – it wasn’t strong enough to begin with, and I know that you’re attached to your hair and all, but it’ll be gross if you go try pick it up and put it back, and it’s just hair anyway, it’ll grow back newer, and maybe even better. Analogy mairaatam irundhaalum feeling-a please purinjukonga*.


4. Marriage can be awesome if you’re lucky – I think this is the year where I really felt like damn, so this is what it feels like to be married. Marriage is awesome though. I mean, we are polar opposites, my husband and I, and yet we are having plenty of fun. What annoys me though, is when people expect me to wax eloquent of Arranged Marriage. Every time I/we maintain that I/we got lucky (which I/we did), people get really disappointed, like those old Chinese Men with the long mustaches in the Martial Arts movies because I/we failed to defend Arranged Marriage’s honour. “But you two had an arranged marriage” they say, “and you two are happy!” We are. We really are. But we also know that Marriage (arranged or otherwise) is kind of like jumping into the sea from the Titanic. Sometimes you get the lifeboat manned by an experienced boatman, sometimes, you’re left in the freezing water with someone who’s on a wooden plank that’s big enough for the both of you and yet won’t let you on it while holding on to your hand and claiming to love you all the same.

I’m full of analogies today.

5. I READ MORE BOOKS – I read 20 books this year out of the 24 I had aimed, and that, for me, was the least crappy thing about 2014.


So that was my year. How was yours? Awesome? Crappy? Non-crappy? Just Ok? Here’s hoping 2015 is better 🙂

HAPPYY NEW YEARRRR 

* – Sorry, but I can’t translate this. 

Those Two Marks

Much hullabaloo was raised yesterday on the many methods of gentle persuasion that schools are employing to ensure that their students are watching the Prime Minister’s Teacher’s Day address that will be aired on DD today from 3 pm to 4.45 pm. Here is one example:

The more you read it, the funnier it gets. Photo Credit @masalabai

This is where this post stops being about our Prime Minister and his speech.

I studied in PSBB, where we took our “annual day” very seriously. We were so serious about it, that we didn’t even call it “Annual Day” like the other schools did. It was the school Anniversary. The Anniversary, like most weddings these days, was essentially the same programme that was performed over a span of three days at one of the biggest auditoriums in the city. Day 1 was for students, Day 2, parents of Nungambakkam and T.Nagar branch, and Day 3, parents of KK Nagar branch. Each year, the programme would have a different theme based on which the teachers had to conceptualize dance/music/theatre performances.

The anniversary usually began on a Wednesday, and after the three days of performing, the weekend was off for the participants to recuperate and begin school refreshed. This was something I got to know only after I saw my sister participate – she has participated in the programme every year she was in school, apart from giving the School Pupil Leader address during her last year. I was a non participant all my years in school – I quite enjoyed being one too – my holiday began two weeks before the anniversary – amidst the wonderful chaos that would ensue in the auditorium with multiple practice sessions and cross-batch bonhomie, I would get about 7 free periods during the day to catch up on sleep that I didn’t need. I did do a voice recording for a Tamil play as Avvaiyaar in Standard XII because the girl who was supposed to do the part got a sore throat, but I’ve never been on stage because I couldn’t dance, I couldn’t sing, and while I could emote, I “wasn’t stage friendly”, which was basically polite for “we can’t have hippo sized students on stage”.

ANYWAY, once the programme was all done and we got back to routine and extra classes to make up for those we missed, there would be an Anniversary Quiz. The quiz, based on the theme and the performances in the anniversary, would be for twenty marks, which would later be shrunk to two, and added to the marks that you’d already scored in your Half Yearly exams. Most of the questions were from the synopsis of the programme that was attached with the invitation, and the questions that weren’t from the synopsis were always vague and open to interpretation, like, “What are the benefits of honesty?”

Everyone cared about the Anniversary Quiz, whether they were hoping to turn their 38 into 40 (“The Anniversary Miracle”) or their 98 into 100 (“The Anniversary Centum”). I was a recipient myself of The Anniversary Miracle when I got 38 in Economics (40 was pass) in Std XII and it was this completely, completely, pointless quiz with academic consequences that prevented the school from calling my parents up.

The reason I took the trouble to write all this down, is not because I wanted to write a lofty sounding post about how sometimes you need to know more than just the subject (such as the benefits of honesty) to get through school, or because I have problems with anything that the Government is trying to do (if you do want to read my opinions on the Government read my columns where I write under the pen name “Siddharth Varadarajan”), but because, for the first time, it feels like my school has prepared me for the future.

Humans of Chennai

My in-laws’ driver, a DMK Party worker, took today off to be at the party headquarters. “If there is a victory,” he said, “there’ll be a big feast”.

“If there is a loss?”

“They will need men to go yell in the counting centre to count again”

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. 

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.

10 things I learned during my internship

(Not too long ago, I was searching around in my computer for academic material when I stumbled upon this. I had noted this down after a particularly exhausting audit season to remind myself why I was where I was.)

One of the prime conditions in the Chartered Accountancy course is that all students are mandatorily required to undergo what the Institute terms a “rigorous articleship”, to “prepare the student to tackle professional challenges head on.” There’s an important lesson here – DON’T BELIEVE THE PROSPECTUS. But we’ll come to that another day. So here’s what I learned about internships the last three and half years of my particularly, er, rigorous, articleship training.  
10. Making/getting coffee is also part of the job description:
Sure, you’ve topped school, your classmates are industrial scions and you drive the same car as your boss. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make you the boss. Expecting to be given challenging assignments the second day you’ve joined doesn’t really happen, no matter how shiny your academic record is. Getting coffee and learning to operate the photocopy machine will definitely be a significant part of your first few months in the office. On the plus side, your mother can now include “Makes excellent filter coffee” along with that part about you being the perfect blend of traditional and modern values on your tamilmatrimony profile. 
9. Networking and friendships:
It’s important to make friends with the people you work with. Even if you’re not going to be exchanging “Frendz4ever” bracelets every August or sending each other “Oram-nnu peru vechavan Nera podraan aana Nehra-nnu peru vechavan Orama podraan” type SMS forwards every morning, it’s necessary to be cordial. Remember that you’ll be spending 8+ hours at work, 5 days a week, so apart from the fact that life would be that much more painful if you don’t get along with the people you work with, you never know who’s going to end up where. That checked-shirt full naamam Varadu boy the rest of you made fun of might just become the Commissioner of Income Tax. Or worse, your husband. 
8. Dress well, dress appropriate. 
I worked in a typically conservative tamil brahmin office where the youngest partner was about 52 years old and the oldest, 80. So I didn’t really have much of a choice when it came to adhering to the Salwar-Kameez-with-Dupatta dress code. It’s not very likely you’d be under similar constraints, but if you are, I’d recommend you embrace your inner housewife. What? We both know what you want to do after you finish your CA is to become a housewife. Seriously. I know. 
7. There will be times when you feel like jumping out of the nearest window.
It happens to all of us. Hang in there. And no, whatever you do, don’t try to push your boss out of the window. They almost always survive. 
6.Mistakes WILL happen. 
And no, it’s not the end of the world. In fact, it’s the very purpose of your internship. You’re there to make mistakes. Goof ups are an integral part of the time you spend there, and the more the merrier! Ofcourse, there’s something about learning from your mistakes. Or something.
5. Be grateful to your boss.
The man is literally paying to let you screw up on his behalf. 
4. Remember that there are people who’re going to be better than you at work. 
Deal with it. In fact, ask him/her for help with your assignments sometime. Happiness comes from triumphing over your ego. Greater happiness comes from seeing other people do your work. 
3. Never regret the choices you make here
There’s no going back, anyway. You don’t have a degree, do you? 
And even if you do, there’s no going back. HA!
2. You ARE going to get yelled at.
Your brain’s exact whereabouts will be questioned, as will be your general ability to locate and extract hair follicles. Also, part of your job description. 
1. You ARE going to get better at the job. 

Noise

My classes begin at 6.15 AM, which means I have to get my car out at 6. The last few months, a few mongrel type dogs have been living under our cars. We had always had the odd dog(s) living underneath our cars for the last few years and I had never been afraid of them because of the fact that all of them had developed conditioned reflexes. All I had to do was say shoo! and they’d disappear without much fuss.

The first morning I got down to drive to class, I noticed that there were two dogs underneath my Swift. I rapped the car and said a loud shoo! One dog ran out. Another came out, looked at me, and snarled. You know that split second feeling when you know something mildly awful is going to happen and that you have to run but can’t, because that nerve which connects your brain to your legs has suddenly disappeared?

It’s called fear.

Before I knew what was happening, I was in my first dog chase. Not only was I running at speeds Usian Bolt’d have been proud of, but I was hollering as well (think capital letters in font size 72). Thankfully, my darling mother rushed out to see what was happening, but before she could figure out what was happening, I leaped sideways into door (full matrix style) and closed it.

“What happened?”

I panted in reply. I couldn’t breathe, let alone speak.

“Dog…”

“Where?”

“Dog..”

She gingerly opened the door and peeped out, but I couldn’t bear to look. What if the dog had gathered its dog army and was just waiting outside to pounce and rip us apart? What if Amma got the first hit? I’d have to save her. And then the dog would get me, which was probably part of it’s evil plan anyway. I’d get rabies! Or worse, I’d have to get my leg amputated and I probably couldn’t wear jeans ever again, which would be thoroughly depressing because then I’d have to donate my Guess pair. I could see it, no I could smell it. I was going to become a denim deprived amputated motivational speaker who spoke about overcoming the pitfalls of destiny. Or something. On the bright side, Amma might let me bunk class.

She stepped out, and I followed her closely (I’m brave like that) but instead of the vicious dog, it was Balaraman, the watchman next door.
Enna Aachu?
(what happened?)

Naai ma. Paavam Lalle romba bayandhidichu
(Dog, ma. Poor Lalle got scared.)
(Also, yes, Lalle. I know. Another day, children. Another day. )

Naai enga? innum irukka?
(Where’s the dog? Is it still there?)

Illiye. Lalle veetu pakkam odicha, naai dho, annanda therupakkam odichu
(No. She ran towards the house, the dog ran towards the street)

And no, Amma didn’t let me bunk class.

Golu

Golu was very well done this year. My mother surpassed the standards which she had surpassed the previous year. It was grander, more colourful and very besh-besh worthy and with the exception of Abhiramapuram maami who had upstaged everyone by substituting sundal with bruschetta (no kidding! we plan to one up her next time by serving sundal bruschetta, and yes, you heard that here FIRST!), it was safe to say that ours was one of the biggest in our circuit. The thing is, Golu is more than just a part of Navrathri for my mother. It is a competition, and my mother wants to be sole owner of the “my golu is bigger than your golu” prize. Every year, apart from running about town collecting “rare” dolls to her already mammoth collection, she goes around houses looking at golus, making painstakingly detailed mental notes about what she could have done, what she couldn’t have done, what she should have done, what she shouldn’t have done…you get the picture.  

Front view, Golu 2010. On the left side there was the mini krishna leela and on the right, the dinosaur village park. Both are missing due to lack of space in the frame and general laziness of the photographer.

A couple of days back, I was talking about the festival with one very favourite akka of mine, when she brought up the topic of theme golus. It brought to mind a rather distinct memory, which I didn’t share with her then, but thought I’d write about. 

It was Navaratri of 2005. My mother had dragged me along to go Ayodhya-Mandapam-adjacent-street Maami’s. She had kept a theme golu, the theme being “the 12 alwars“. It was quite a creative display, really – she had five small padis with the regular golu and the alwar stories going around it. 

Now, every golu that I visit, I usually have this policy of looking around for a minute and then going “waaw”. It is painless, and always ensures that I get extra sundal to eat so that I’d have atleast have something to do while the older people gossiped about that maami’s daughter. Unfortunately, I was unable to exercise my patent charm at Ayodhya-Mandapam-Adjacent-Street Maami’s simply because of the fact that she insisted (read forced) us into listening to her tell the story of all 12 alwars in the same tone I use to recite tax provisions when I mug. Not very pleasant, to put it mildly. As if that wasn’t painful enough, maami gave us a paper with, wait for it, a QUIZ. It had 12 questions (keeping with the theme, apparently) and the one (out of the two of us – me and my mother) with the most number of correct answers would win a prize, namely the pink plastic boxes that she got as vethlapaaku from some other maami the previous year and decided to recycle. Which was pretty smart on her part, come to think of it, although it might have been weird if said maami had found out what she was up to. 

I digress. 

On our way back home, I wasn’t too happy – apart from “losing” the quiz (which wasn’t much of a surprise. I had written “Andal” as the answer to all the questions) the sundal that maami had so affectionately stuffed me with was already giving me stomach trouble. Neither was my mother. Just as I was about to ask her if she was experiencing the same amount of pain that I was, “How di?” she interrupted. 

“I think she gave us leftovers from yesterday, ma”
“Chi! not that. How do people keep golus like this? Theme and all. Everybody will talk about her golu, I’m sure.”
“Somebody should talk about her sundal. It’s a potential lawsuit.”
“We should keep a theme next year.”
“Are you kidding? Too much effort. Our golu is nice the way it is. Besides, nobody cares, ma.”

At that moment, there was a flash in her eyes and I knew exactly what was coming. 

“We are having a theme golu next year”  
“Maaa…” 
“Enna? You want gelusil?”
“Noo! This theme business is torture!”
“It’s simple enough. You just have to think of something. We can’t do alwars. What about ramayana?”
“Too much work.”
“Mahabharata?”
“Too much work.”
“I know! Nava-rathri! The number 9!”
“Too much.”
“No di. Nava thirupathi. Nava grahas. Like that. It’ll be new! It’ll be different! Everyone will talk about it! What do you think?”
“I think I need gelusil maa”

By the time we came back home, my mother had pretty much visualized the whole set up of how her golu was going to be next year. She was very excited, in fact, the only thing she didn’t do was jump out of the car in her very pattu podavai and run around saying “Eureka! Eureka!” which might have resulted in a vaccuum cleaner or two being aimed at her direction. But still, as far as she was concerned, she had achieved a new pinnacle in creativity and couldn’t wait to share it with Paati.

Amma! Maami aathla enna theriyuma!
(“Amma! Do you know what they had at Maami’s house?”)

Paati stared for a bit at both of us. It was hard to ignore the excitement on my mothers face and the nausea on mine. 

Oosipona sundal” 
(Bad sundal)

“Aiyyo. Theme golu!”

“Theme golu a? Oh, they just showed it on TV. Some Maami in Adyar had also kept theme golu.”

“Apdiya? What theme? Even I have an idea for a theme.”

“Oh, it was nice. Nava rathri no? So she had kept number 9 as the theme. Nava graha set she had, then she had kept Nava thirupathi, one padi for nava rasas. Like that. It was very nice.”

Sometimes, people ask me how I so consistently bulb all the time. It takes a great amount of effort to not say hereditary. 

Crush

My sister was watching TV when the channel started playing a song from Alaipayuthey.

It was probably the millionth time I was watching it, as well as the millionth time I had that stupid grin on my face when I saw Madhavan prance about awkwardly. More than Madhavan, I think that grin was for Karthik, his character in the movie. Karthik pretty much epitomized every thing I’ve ever wanted in a guy – charming, intelligent and most importantly, he wasn’t afraid to get what he wanted.
So actuall-a paatha (Simbu in Vinnathaandi Varuvaaya. Yes. Same feel) my first crush wasn’t Madhavan. It was Karthik.
Who was yours?