Grand Slam Headache


At 3 a.m. this morning, I woke up feeling uncomfortable. After cutting through many layers of sleep, I realized that I had a 100 on a scale of 1 to 10 type of headache.

I popped a couple of Panadol Extras…but the headache seemed to be on a mission.

I applied Vicks and Axe Brand oil, sniffed these, massaged my head…nothing, absolutely nothing worked.

As luck would have it, it was a crazy day with many appointments. I managed to get through most of them.

Early in the evening, I tried lying down, thinking it would help, but sleep eluded me, and when I stood up – the sledgehammer was back. I moved around without purpose, wanting to be rid of this headache that was making even everyday chores appear herculean.

At 8 pm, I decided to tie one of my stoles around my head. And, believe me, it gave me so much relief. Freeing my hair from its rubber band also helped.

The band on the head helped me focus and I felt some semblance of normalcy returning.

When my husband walked in from work, he looked at me strangely and asked, “What’s with the Rafael Nadal look?”

“Oh, that..I have a Grand Slam Headache”, I replied.

We laughed, atleast my husband did, but it hurt me to laugh. Ouch!

A mid-ocean brush with divinity


We are on holiday in Bali. The ocean sparkles- turquoise blue and emerald green. Small waves play about in white swishes, as we head out in a glass bottom boat, to our snorkelling site.

We are very excited as we peer through the glass bottom. Our guide points out various things – both around us and in the water.

We arrive at the snorkelling site. When I jump into the water, I feel the waves bobbing, and suddenly feel nervous about the depth. Swimming in a defined pool is ok, but this…!

I keep asking the guide to stay close to me. There are a few people who dive-in as we arrive. It can’t be that scary, I tell myself.

As we go down a few feet,
we are overwhelmed by the sudden explosion of colour. The Creator is such a great artist; fishes in shades and combinations unimaginable, flit or swim gracefully around us. I feel the tension ebbing away, though I still feel a tad nervous.

After a few minutes, I come up for air. And there is another loud upward splash in front of me that nearly does me in. I scream out and flail my arms.

The splash slowly takes the form of a young lad, probably in his late teens.

He winks at me and says, “Hi! I am the Ocean God. Pleased to meet you.”

I laugh. I love his humour and its spontaneity. 

I continue to laugh as I dive back in, more relaxed now, ready to see more.

Oops…too many seeds


We had guests for dinner over the weekend. My carefully planned menu turned out rather well.

There was one rice dish, which had a number of seeds – mustard, cumin, cardamom, peppercorn and star anise, in addition to various vegetables.

There were enough leftovers to last us till lunch the next day.

After eating the leftovers the next day, my son asked me why I hadn’t cooked anything new. I promised him that I would cook something that he liked for dinner, as I did not want to waste food.

He readily agreed and ran away to play. When he came home he sniffed the air appreciatively, and asked me what was for dinner.

When I told him, he let out a whoop of joy, and then said, “I was so scared that I would have to eat that ‘seedy’ rice again!!!

I laughed and told him the meaning of ‘seedy’!

Has this happened to you?


1. You are on holiday, and busy taking pictures with your digital camera. You keep getting a flashing message – ‘Not enough memory’. And then the dilemma to decide which of the old photos to delete, especially when you are not sure if you have a back up at home!

2. You call the hotline of a service provider to resolve some problem. You press 0, 1, 3, 2, 5, 6 and then wait while ‘all the customer service assistants are busy’ and after nearly 25 minutes,  just when you hear the annoying music pause and the ‘oh-it’s- happened-at-last’ click of someone connecting, your mobile runs out of charge!

3. You go to the supermarket and come back with your trolley super-loaded with things that you need, and a lot of other things that you don’t and then realize that you’ve forgotten an important thing like dishwashing liquid or toothpaste!

4. Your child dislikes a particular dish and absolutely refuses to eat it at home. When you are invited to dinner at a friend’s place, and the friend has prepared the same dish, and your child wolfs down two portions and you wonder what just happened!

5. You are already running behind schedule. You miss the bus by 1 minute. You cab it and get stuck at every red signal. When you reach your workplace, all lifts are in floors above 15 and moving upwards!

6. You badly need a cup of coffee and think longingly about it as you rush through a chaotic morning. Finally, finally when you sit down to enjoy it, you get a call…and the coffee grows cold.

7. Your kitchen sink has clogged, the TV remote has disappeared, the kettle has stopped working, all of these happen on a single day and you wonder if there’s a conspiracy.

8. You have booked tickets to a much-anticipated movie and you miss the first 15 minutes – as you couldn’t find the house keys, and all along it was in your bag.

9. You had five pairs of lovely scissors till yesterday. This morning, you are not able to find a single pair!

10. You’re on a call and have to write something down. You walk with the cordless to get a paper and pen. You can’t find a plain sheet and use the newspaper. The pen you found runs out of ink after you write two words….

Has any of this happened to you? Would love to hear about them.

Superhero saves the planet


When my daughter was born, life was different shades of pink. From pretty frocks to hair bands to pretty bonnets, pink ruled our lives.

With doll houses and dainty Barbies dotting our play room, little did we realize that all this was about to change, when our son was born.

The landscape now had pink oases of Barbies interspersed with metal planes, Transformers, cars and vehicles and plenty of dinosaurs roaming the terrain.

My son was in a perpetual state of motion – flying planes, fighting imaginary warriors and as a super hero, fighting hard to save the world.

A funny incident, related to this, comes to my mind.

The kids had their summer break and kept busy with their toys and games.  One of my daughter’s Barbie dolls had fallen into some wet paint, and so, had been washed and put to dry between the grills of the balcony.

Two of my son’s friends had come over to play and the boys were busy role-playing, as they spun webs, fought with plastic swords and ran about.

My son’s eyes fell on the Barbie. I was very curious to see him staring at it. He  called out in one of his super hero voices to his friends, “Come and see what I found!”

“We have found the enemy. Let’s capture her and save our planet.”

The innocent Barbie was whisked away and thrown under the cot, relegated to the darkness there.

Atleast, till his sister came to know about the incident. And then, all hell broke loose.

The Big Fattening Indian Wedding


If you have attended an Indian wedding,  these are only some of the things you would have experienced – vibrant colours, lots of jewelry, lots of people, foot tapping music, dance, love, emotions, flowers and FOOD. Lots and lots of food.

While the bride and groom are busy with all the rituals that will solemnize their wedding, extended family and guests have fun, enjoying the delicious food and snacks that are served throughout the day. All calories that were burnt before the wedding, to enable one to look good in the wedding pictures, get added right back on the wedding day, in the form of sugary sweets, deep fried & mouth watering snacks, ice creams and all other calorie-loaders. Sigh.

Also, weddings across the country are fixed according to Indian calendars, where certain days in certain months are considered very auspicious.

Needless to say, wedding halls do brisk business during these periods, and one has to book months in advance.

Some wedding hall complexes have three or four wedding halls on the same premises, and on auspicious days, all such halls host weddings.

Another important fact that you must know about Indian wedding hospitality is that there is a ‘no-guest-can-leave-without-eating-a-heavy-meal’ committee, (The Committee) that waylays you even before you meet the newlyweds, and sends you to fill your stomach.

Having explained all this, I will now narrate an incident, from when I had just started working. One of my colleagues had invited a few of us from work, to her wedding.

So, all of us met and went to the venue. Just as we entered the hall, The Committee, shepherded us straight to the breakfast hall. Some of our weddings happen quite early in the morning, like 5 am or 6 am. So naturally, we did not object to this gesture. We had so much fun, eating the huge spread. When we could eat no more, we went into the main hall.

Imagine what a shock we got, when we realized that we were at the wrong wedding. Someone quickly told us that there were two other halls in the same complex.

We were quite embarrassed and slipped out quietly. We found the other hall, just 30 metres away. There again, The Committee was waiting for us. We evaded them and went to greet the newlyweds.

We had to eat another meal in a span of two hours, a quiet heavy one at that.

Relax, Nothing’s Under Control


Our group of eight is flying from Nairobi to Oman, with a changeover at Abu Dhabi.

We have a two-hour gap for the changeover. Our flight from Nairobi takes off after a one-hour-fifteen-minute delay. We are not overly worried, we can still make it, we reassure ourselves.  Pilots do make up for lost time, at least some part of it, we discuss.

The post-holiday weariness is evident in all our eyes. The energy we traveled with, the endless photographs we took, the curios we picked up, the local flavours that we experienced and wondered at, all these seem so far away now, though we’ve just wrapped up a wonderful holiday.

We board, and sleep on the long flight, a dreamless sleep of fatigue, punctuated by in-flight meals that our tired bodies require.

We land, and anxiety hits us as we have only about 40 minutes left to disembark, and board the next flight . But, we are going to take on this challenge, yes, we are.

There are a few passengers sharing our plight as we make a beeline for the exit. We charge out and run, our sleepy legs jolted awake with cruelty. Our razor sharp eyes blindly follow the transit boards.

Eight people racing, up escalators, down others, running on travellators, with duty free shops and boarding gates whizzing past. We are close, ten more minutes left. There is a long corridor stretching ahead and we run, run, run.

We are sure that when the ground staff see us, they will hold the flight.

Just as we turn a bend, a member of the ground staff from the airline waits for us, waving.

Relief pours out in rivulets of sweat as we run with a sense of purpose now.

When we reach him, he says, “Are you taking Flight so and so to Oman?”

Eight heads nod vigorously.

“Relax! The boarding gate is closed, and the flight is taxiing on the runway readying for take off. We are putting you on the earliest available flight, which is at 2.45 a.m tomorrow. Just another five hours”, he says.

We just broke some Olympic records in sprinting there!  Eight indignant faces stare back at him, gasping for air.

We resign ourselves and settle down for the long wait.  The laughter comes much later, as we recollect our sprint through the airport.

Letter’s on Auto Loop


Back in the day, when fax machines were used extensively by corporates, a funny incident happened at my workplace. I remembered this earlier today, when I heard a ringtone that sounded like a fax machine’s answering tone.

In those days my job involved a lot of communication with customers and, consequently, I had to send out numerous faxes.

Since many departments shared a fax machine, we had a runner, who would collect the documents from various units and then fax them to the respective numbers.

Our old runner had taken up a new job elsewhere, and we had a new runner, who was still learning the ropes.

He was an enthusiastic young lad with a sparkle in his eye and smile on his face.

It was a ‘business as usual’ kind of day at work, probably a day or two since the new runner had joined work. I called him to send off a fax. The process we usually followed was that once the fax was sent, the runner would come back with the document and confirmation slip, which would then be filed.

He was gone for a long time, but I had a lot of work to complete so couldn’t go and see what was taking him so long.

Just a few minutes later, I received a call from the customer to whom the fax was sent.

She was frantic and said, “I have received 20 copies of the same document. Looks like your fax machine is on auto loop or something. Can you check please?”

I ran to the communications room to find the runner still by the fax machine.

I asked him if there was a problem with the machine.

He looked puzzled and said, “I have been trying to send the letter, but it keeps coming out on the other side, I’ve tried more than 20 times.”

I burst out laughing. When I asked him, he said he was using a fax machine for the first time, and another runner had told him how to feed the document into the machine, but had not told him that the document would come out at the other end after being scanned and sent.

I explained the working to him and we shared a good laugh.

When the Tiger Mom Froze


Truth be told, there is a Tiger Mom lurking inside me, that manifests now and then, when my children have school deadlines or competitions.

A couple of years ago, my son made it to the finals of a quiz contest.  The Tiger Mom in me surfaced as I helped my son prepare. We had lists and sub-lists. During this time, we traveled the world looking at pictures of monuments, memorized dates, learnt about animal record-holders from the biggest eyeball, to the longest tongue to the shortest lifespan.

We developed techniques to remember country flags, and famous personalities. We learnt nursery rhymes and studied picture clues.  And finally, finally, I felt my little cub was ready for the contest.  Phew!

A couple of days before the contest, when he came back from school, I pestered him with questions about quiz-preparations they had done at school that day.

He briefed me on the topics his team had revised and then asked me, “Do you know what IAS stands for?”

I froze.  

We had not prepared for three letter acronyms.  Was this a new topic? My brain was in a whirl, as I wondered what acronyms I could teach him in two days?  UN, WHO, UNICEF, IAS (Indian Administrative Service), what else ?

I said to myself, “List time.”

When I looked at my son, he smiled and said, “Don’t worry mom, I know what IAS stands for, it stands for I Am Starving – IAS.”

I laughed at the joke, but more from sheer relief!