15 September 2014

reclaiming the hijab and femininity

"my femininity is not for public consumption"
this is such a gorgeous line, from this article on women reclaiming the hijab to counter patriarchy and fundamentalism.

if i had been so articulate at 18, this is what i would have said to all those who questioned whywhywhy. it is so so liberating to not be seen by what you wear, your figure, your hairstyle. yes, at first, i felt like i was suddenly this asexual being, and many many guys (and girls) would simply shy away from me, or would treat me as they would an older, married lady. this was okay though, as i got my bearing as a freshman in university, in a different country, a different planet perhaps. 

being 'me' suddenly had so many more facets, such as what i studied, where in cairo i lived, who my room/flat mates were, what i read, which city i had come from. i am not saying that these facets are not there to people who are not veiled. i just felt that they came much easier now that my femininity was out of the equation.

today, some 20 years later, i am totally 'me', and my femininity is definitely not for public consumption :)

#microblog mondays

12 September 2014

the indian definition of 'pastry'

so we went to a couple of bakeries/cake shops yesterday on a quest to find me some cheesecake, which i have been craving for quite some time. it was a half hearted quest, as kandivali is honestly not the place for cheesecake, but i figured i would just get something else in the worst case scenario. all i could find was a slice of  red velvet cream cheese cake, which was yummy, but not the cheesecake of my cravings. i have always wanted to taste red velvet cake however, so i was quite happy.

what i wanted to note, and what has struck me since i moved here four years ago, is the lack of pastries in bakeries, and the use of the term ‘pastry’ to mean a slice of cake. fruit tarts, chocolate danishes, eclairs and pies are all missing in most bakeries/cake shops here. they will have whole cakes sold by the kg on one side, and slices of the same cakes in little plastic containers on another side. these are called ‘pastries’. i was initially very bemused by this. traditional indian bakeries will sell a wide variety of indian biscuits, puffs and breads, and a few varieties of sponge cake. i know there are a few bakeries that do have danishes, croissants and so on, but these are situated in the more posh areas of the city.

similarly, the indian use of the word ‘souffle’ is totally different to the original baked dish.. it refers to a dessert that is a type of jelly/pudding with a scoop of ice cream in the middle!! hah, i wonder what would happen if i actually served someone an original cheese souffle?! come to that, even the word ‘jelly’ is used differently here -my MIL refers to any fruit puree i make for the kids as ‘jelly’, and i was once offered some ‘mango jelly’ that was in fact, a concoction of fruit and milk!!

there must be many other words and terms that have totally different meanings here.. i will try to note them down as i come across them!

08 September 2014

shower versus bucket

i got to use the shower today after EONS, and it was pure bliss. it actually felt like a micro massage!! i am getting used to taking a bath with a bucket and mug (as is the norm here), but showering under a warm spray of water will always be like coming home. and yes, i know that using the shower is much more wasteful, but still, it feels so darn good. unlike hk and other places, here water is not provided to individual apartments directly from government water pipes. instead, government water is provided to each building in its storage tanks at certain times of the day, and this water is then distributed to all the apartments. in our apartment building, this occurs only twice a day, for an hour each, so we have to fill our own internal storage tanks to ensure water is available to us 24-7. 

anyways, the point is that there is simply not enough water pressure for the shower to work with individual storage tank water, sigh. the shower only works when the water is coming from the building water, and that is the time i need to take the twins to playgroup. today being a holiday, i was in the shower :))

more info on microblog mondays here

04 September 2014

random list of books

something else making the rounds on fb (i spend too much time there, i know) is making a list of 10 books that have stayed with you, without thinking too hard and in no particular order. how could i not do this?
1. the fountainhead, ayn rand
2. cloud atlas, david mitchell
3. burnt shadows, kamila shamsie
4. the poisonwood bible, barbara kingsolver
5. harry potter series, jk rowling
6. the gift of rain, tan twan eng
7. the notebook, nicholas sparks
8. an equal music, vikram seth
9. me before you, jojo moyes
10. life of pi, yann martell
11. the da vinci code, dan brown

i put 11, i just can't take out a single book from the list. and there are dozens more that keep coming to mind, so this is totally random, but these are definitely great books that came to me at different phases of life and stayed with me for various reasons :))

it is so interesting to note how different books appeal to different people.. and how even good friends can have such different tastes!

micro life

mel, awesome person that she is, has started 'microblog mondays', to reclaim our blogging spaces, and hosting our thoughts (status updates, tweets and so forth) on our own blogs. since it only needs to be a few sentences long, it is a great way to get back into blogging. many a time i find myself composing a status update in my head, and i think that eventually i will blog about this. eventually never occurs, of course. i am so excited, and have so many thoughts running in my head, that i could theoretically write several of these microblog posts right now :))

had a long overdue conversation with c last night, it was good. and it was pleasantly surprising to hear that she is suddenly moving along in worlds close to mine (work wise). it made me feel a tad less alone (i cannot recall the last time i used 'human rights' in a face to face conversation with someone), and also shed some glimmers of light on a world that i could eventually slowly maybe step in myself, here in india/bombay..

i have been reading ruth ozeki's 'a tale for the time being' and enjoying it. good writing, good characters, interesting plot and structure. i told z that it was 'good but not great'. i won't give you any definitions for such praise, as it is totally subjective, and varies from my mood to the time etc. more than half way through the book however, suddenly last night, it got great! the reason was the appearance of the personal diary and letters of one of the characters, a kamikaze pilot in ww2, which are totally awesome. now i simply have to finish the book before i can concentrate on anything else. this occurs with greater frequency nowadays.. to the detriment of so many other things i should be doing!! i have no self control when it comes to reading fiction.. i remember the very first time this happened, was book four of harry potter. i began in the evening, read into a good part of the night, and then simply could not go to work at my summer internship the next day. i called in sick and finished the book :P total bliss. if only i could get paid to read all these amazing novels!!!

27 August 2014

missing my parents, and writing

the twins are two! i started writing a post about this milestone a week ago (knowing that it could take me some time to get my thoughts down, and to 'find time' to write!!), which of course i haven't completed yet. but today, on their second birthday, i am missing my parents. i know how much they must want to celebrate with their grandsons. at this time last year, my mom was here. during every phone conversation, my dad invariably asks me when i am going for a visit, or tells me i should just send one/both of the twins over there. i truly envy all those people who have their entire families in one country, or even just one city. i don't dwell on this too much usually, as it could get quite depressing, and also because anyways, i am just thankful to have my family, even if they are far away. today however, i want my parents to be with me :s
"First there was nothing, then I was born... Yet that is not so. Human lives are not pieces of string that can be separated out from a knot of others and laid out straight. Families are webs... A birth is not really a beginning. Our lives at the start are not really our own but only the continuation of someone else's story... [the thirteenth tale, by diane setterfield]

i want my family, my parents and siblings to witness the twins' lives, which are also the continuation of our collective story.. 

a random career test was making the rounds on fb, and i succumbed to it expecting nothing but humor for my troubles. the screen told me that my destined career was to be a writer, to use words to tell a story, describe the world around me. huh. while not bowled over by its accuracy, i did see it as a sign from the universe, nudging me back to the path I had chosen so long ago. just yesterday I wrote that work is taking a back seat.. perhaps one reason for this is also because I am suddenly thinking of it as ‘work’. I need to make it my passion again, which is actually important to me as a person.. without it, I will be adrift.. additionally, i will be a better mom for it..

26 August 2014

david mitchell's new book, being 'that' mom and other random stuff

again, i have been meaning to write for ages. there have been so many thoughts crowding my head, which i needed to just put down, so i could process them later, and move on to other things [thoughts]. there never seems to be that right time though, or the right energy, or the perfect flow of words to screen. and so here i am, just vomiting it all out, in the 20 minutes i have before needing to go pick up the twins from playgroup.

** ok, first of all, i randomly saw an online banner yesterday announcing the release of a new novel by david mitchell -the bone clocks, which is reviewed to be even more awesome than cloud atlas. OHMYGOSH. i simply don't have the time to gush over my love of david mitchell yet again.. but i am ecstatic to read his new book :))))

i never imagined that i would be that mom, with those kids. you know, the harried moms with the kids who run around screaming in the mosque, or attempt to board every escalator they can see, or sit and have a tantrum in the middle of the mall. the ones who laugh and run faster when anyone tries to grab them or stop them from sticking their finger into a moving fan. 

i have tried time outs, locking them in the bathroom, shouting, scaring them with the sound of the blender/drill/bogeyman. all to no effect. everything seems to be a game for them, like they inhabit a huge amusement park. they are constantly running away from me and my restrictions- a now even tries to get out from the wrong side of the rickshaw, directly in the path of other vehicles.

the other day, at the doctor's office, they were creating so much havoc that the doc called out for an injection to administer to them, resulting in m immediately climbing onto my lap and demanding that he be given the injection first. i don't know whether to laugh or cry. 

trying to decide on a school for them is taking up a lot of mental energy. more so because i feel they are so young right now -i want to delay the world of routine and discipline and structure as much as possible. i just want them to play and discover things on their own. i just read this post on homeschooling, which made me even sadder at the need to put them in nursery from next year, when they will be just short of three years. i hate the entire system, and i hate that if i don't put them in nursery next year, they may not get into the school of our choice later on..

work is taking a back seat right now, which makes me feel super guilty. if i was more disciplined, organized and not so lazy, i am sure i could do better. i see so many moms who say that they get more writing/work done now, after having kids, and i am sooooo envious. i seem to have so little free time, and in that little time i want to read novels, play words with friends and catch up on whatsapp. i need more hours in the day. argh.

ok, 20 minutes are up. gotta go!