Murphy and his law … or maybe not


Pineapple-CakePadmini, or Puppy as she was called by all her friends was a nervous wreck today. October 7th this year was quite unlike any of the other years.

Vaishnav, or Vy, as her eight yr. old son was called by everybody had insisted that they celebrate his birthday outdoors in the lawns of the residential complex they stayed in. Puppy was quite surprised at the fact that Vy put his foot down and insisted that his birthday be celebrated the way he wanted to. The silver lining in this whole situation was that for some reason Vy wanted his birthday to be celebrated with very little pomp and preparations, spending as little money as possible and he even volunteered to help his parents with the entire preparations including setting up the table and decorations on the lawns, and he had also promised to help out with serving food to the guests who turned up at the party. His only condition was that Puppy would bake the birthday cake herself.

While Puppy loved the fact that her little one was growing up to be money conscious and loved cakes baked by her, the fact remained that she had never dared to bake a cake as big as was required to feed at least twenty five hungry guests that the invitees would make up. Despite her misgivings, she gave in to Vy’s demands and geared up for a tough baking day on Oct 7th.

However, fate, the universe, the stars and all planetary alignments ended up conspiring against her on that day and despite following the instructions of YouTube chef Sanjay Thumma to the ‘t’, her cake ended up a sorry soggy mess which was barely able to stand upright. The party invite began at 5 in the evening, and here she was at 4.30, ready to burst out into tears. She didn’t have the heart to tell a hyper-excited Vy that she had ended up ruining his favorite pineapple cake, but she didn’t have a choice. She knew that for kids in their ‘tweens’, prestige and their image in front of their peers meant more than anything else, and she didn’t want Vy to cut a sorry figure in front of all his friends at his own birthday party.

Everything seemed to be going wrong today, of all the days…

Surprisingly Vy took it quite sportingly when she showed him the 4 Kilo mangled mess that she tried to pass off as his birthday cake. He looked at it thoughtfully for a while, just dipped a finger in the whipped cream on the top and licked it, and then turned around Amma, don’t worry. You have done more than enough to ensure that I have an awesome birthday. Just wait and watch.

He then took her smartphone and started typing away furiously while walking back into his room. Puppy assumed that he was probably messaging his friends on Whatsapp telling them not to expect any cake in the party. But five minutes later, he came out of his room, wearing an old white sweatshirt and his boxer shorts.

Puppy knew that he probably was disappointed and was trying to hide the same earlier, but she didn’t quite expect him to cancel the party itself. Just as she began to apologize and asked for her phone to call up the nearest French Loaf outlet to order a new cake, he looked up at her Amma, I suggest you get into clothes which you don’t mind being dirtied. I have a surprise planned at today’s party.

The entire situation was getting more and more mysterious for Puppy and she wondered what Vy was talking about. In any case, by now, she had decided that she would do anything to compensate for the bad cake and dutifully changed into an old sweatshirt and track pants. In the meantime, JP, her husband had arrived home from office and had also been instructed by Vy to change into something that he didn’t mind dirtying. Being the sport that he was, JP, went ahead and did exactly what his son asked him to.

When the trio went down the elevator, they sure made up for a funny sight in their old clothes with an ‘almost ready to collapse’ soggy cake in hand. And in five minutes when they reached the Events Area where Vy and his friends had decked up a small table and the thirty odd chairs with various streamers and balloons, they saw that all of Vy’s friends and the parents who had accompanied them had all turned up in similar attire. Puppy’s questioning look to Vy was answered only by an all knowing smile.

This was just getting crazier and crazier…

Vy then put the cake on the table and stood in front of it. Friends, aunties and uncles, first of all thank you so much for coming to my birthday party. I will ensure that all of you will remember this party for a long time to come.

As you can see, Amma managed to bake up a storm, quite literally, in the form of this pineapple cake, which by the way has the tastiest whipped cream I have tasted in quite a while. But then, unknowingly, she has given me a wonderful idea to make this party the most memorable one I have ever had.

Saying so, he put his right hand into the cake, scooped up the cream and went up to Puppy

What are you guys waiting for? Attack!!!!

He took the fistful of cream and pasted it all over Puppy’s face, and all his friends followed suit with each of them grabbing fistfuls of cake and pasting it on their parents and on each other. Before the parents could figure out what was happening, they were all doused with the soggy cake. The next three odd minutes saw mayhem with kids, parents and even pet dogs attacking each other with cake in their hands, and as Vy mentioned, it turned out to be the funniest, most memorable birthday party their apartment complex had ever seen.

Puppy couldn’t control her tears; tears of joy which streamed down her cheeks for her wonderful smart little son had managed to convert an unmitigated disaster that her cake was into a fun, laugh riot of a birthday party.

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This post has been written for Project 365: A post a day where the idea is to publish at least one post a day based on the prompts provided. Today’s prompt was Tell us about a time when everything seemed to be going wrong – and then suddenly, you knew it would be alright.

The better (looking) half : Guest Post


Today my favorite Guest Author forays into relationships and marriages and cites some instances from his experiences as to what makes them tick and last for a long time. Read on to figure out his views on what makes relationships tick.

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I have been a regular reader of Just For Women (JFW) magazine. Before you conclude that I am a pervert, it is just that I want to know the view from the other side. The past couple issues of JFW have rather boldly dealt with advantages of live-in relationships and having friends with benefits. I am not going to dwell on the legal or ethical aspects of these relationships. There are two ways to look at the life we have been given. You can say that we live only once and we need to enjoy it to the fullest. You can also argue that we live only once and hence, we need to lead it meaningfully. Both of these are personal choices.

BH001Every relationship, romantic or otherwise, is an entanglement. We lose something of our self when we get attached to someone. Lord Rama chose to be monogamous not because the Hindu Marriage Act was in vogue then. He realized how miserable Dasaratha was in dealing with his multiple wives and mistresses. Rama chose to be married just once and he chose wisely. Have you noticed that after a few years together, it is difficult for us to make out whether a couple had a love marriage or an arranged marriage? It is not how you got to meet your loved one, but what you did once you got together that matters. Most marriages are finalized based on past accomplishments – salary, looks, lineage etc. Past performance is no guarantee of future success.

BH002The best love letters that I have written are the once that stayed in my mind. These were never seen and never heard. You know what, it was good for all the parties involved!

BH003There is a cop who regulates traffic at the Nelson Manickam Road junction. Very smart chap. My wife calls him “Her own Singham” for the ruthless way he deals with errant drivers. But, I am not perturbed. I know he can’t pick up and drop my wife and kids from assorted classes, parlors and social visits. He can tackle rowdies. But, he can’t tell a bed time story or wrap brown paper to the note books at the last minute on the way to school. I put up with my wife’s Singham fascination while she tolerates my flights of fancy about Sameera Reddy. A happy cease-fire prevails.

BH004So, who is the better looking half? Those of you who know about my uncanny resemblance to Thala Ajith will undoubtedly vote for me. My father has left on a tour of temples in and around Kumbakonam. My wife calls him twice a day and makes sure that he is well and is taking his medicines regularly. I don’t know about who the better looking half is, but I can certainly vouch that she is the better half of me.

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Now, if that isn’t wisdom gleaned from a decade and a half of a successful and fulfilling marriage, then what is. Leave behind your thoughts and opinions on what makes relationships tick in the comments section.

Letting go


A baby hand holding his father's finger

If you read my previous post “All grown up” here, you will realize that some experiences in my past, specifically the ones dealing with the passing away of my maternal grandparents instilled a sense of ‘detachment’ in me more than anything else. As years went by and as I had more such experiences in life where friends and relatives tended to ‘drift apart’ from me due to a variety of reasons I developed a sense of ‘detachment’ with relationships in general.

Not to say that I don’t get attached to people or to relationships at all, but it was more like me planning for the ‘worst case scenario’ almost all the time. And in the case of relationships such a scenario would either be the other person gradually drifting apart from me or even worse. While I understand that this probably can be viewed as pessimistic or even cynical by most readers, this attitude of mine has stood the test of time for me, and has probably been the single most effective method by which I have prevented myself from getting ‘hurt’ in relationships for quite some time now.

While I do realize that having such an attitude probably (many of you might even use the adjective ‘surely’) prevents me from ever having a completely ‘fruitful’ relationship with anybody, given that I am almost never completely honest with myself or the other party in a relationship and am always hesitant to give ‘my all’ to the relationship, the fact remains that this is one aspect of my personality which probably has been changed for good and probably cannot be changed back ever.

But then, getting married and subsequently having a daughter after six long years of married life have changed this aspect of mine to a large extent. Today, my wife and little girl, and to a smaller extent my extended family of in-laws mean much more to me not just because they are related to me but also due to the extremely intense personal equations that I enjoy with all of them. However, there still exist large parts of my personality which remain skeptical about my ability to be genuinely ‘attached’ to them given my bad experiences in the past. I almost always try and look for avenues where I can ‘let go’ of my attachments to any relationship I have…I guess that part of my personality has become so strongly fused with me that it will always remain a part of me forever.

One thing that both my wife and me are very conscious about and have been since our little girl came into our lives is the fact that we ought to remain extremely objective about our relationship with her and not allow ourselves to get inalienably or unduly attached to her. We always tell ourselves that end of day, she has her own personality and is going to develop into a wonderful individual person of her own. We need to perform our duties as parents, provide for all her necessities, inculcate good human values in her, teach her how to survive in this world, provide her with a decent education which will hold her in good stead, all this while remaining relatively ‘detached’ from her.

While readers may believe that this is probably an ‘escapist’ kind of mindset that we are exhibiting, both of us sincerely believe that this is the most effective way to bring up a child nowadays. Given the changes we are witnessing in the cultural landscape the day isn’t too far away when urban children such as ours will want their independence sooner rather than later, and it therefore would help if all urban parents learn to ‘let go’ of their children sooner rather than later in lives.

We personally believe that gone are the days when children relied solely on their parents to take the relatively more important decisions of their lives. And if anything, we parents should feel happy and blessed if they actually even allow us to be part of these decisions. Each successive generation exhibits levels of maturity and independence that easily surpass that of previous generations, and by the time my little girl reaches her teenage years, I am more than sure that she wouldn’t even think twice about living life on her own terms without necessarily involving us parents in her decision making process.

But then, what prompted this post, this ‘rant’ about children nowadays, and about ‘letting go’ sooner rather than later?

Given that I reach office at around 7.45 AM IST every day, it is either my dad (mostly) or my wife (rarely) who drop off my little girl to the play school where she is enrolled. However, on Friday I was working from home and I therefore decided to drop her off that day. Having heard stories that she almost always is more than happy when she actually sees the school and its surroundings and has absolutely no issues saying a quick bye and running into the school compound, I thought it would be a breeze. And the fact that she has been attending play school for more than six months now also gave me the confidence that this would be an easy task. But then life has a way of biting you in the backside when you least expect it, doesn’t it.

There we were, on the two wheeler, me telling my lil one to behave herself, have fun with friends, sing her rhymes and all that when we stopped outside the gates of the school. Unlike her usual self, she took her time in getting off from the vehicle and then without looking back at me, she started rubbing her eyes. The lady from the school gently took her by the hand and started leading her inside. She had hardly taken a couple of steps when she turned back, looked at me and started bawling her lungs out, teary eyed and all.

At that point in time, all my theories about ‘letting go’ and ‘staying detached’ got thrown out of the window. I immediately parked the vehicle, went up to her, lifted her up and the two of us stood there for a good 40 odd seconds when I showed her how her friends were already there at school and were waiting to play with her that day. And as is the norm with kids her age, she immediately wanted to go and join them. Thus ended the tears and the sorrow of separation for her.

As for me, while I am not having any second thoughts about my concept of ‘letting go’, I sure have realized that two and a half years is too young an age to actually begin ‘letting go’ of my daughter, and that I should give her some more time to ‘find her own feet’, so to speak.

Flangiprop


Comm5

A flange has been defined as a projecting flat rim, a collar or a rib on an object which serves the purpose of strengthening the object, holding it in place or enable attaching it to another object.

Now why in God’s name did I have to define something as obscure as a flange on my blog which is anything but engineering related in the first place? Read on and you will find out.

It goes without saying that love, affection, fondness, warmth, intimacy, endearment, by whatever term this particular emotion is known is what makes the world go round, it is what enables all of us to build relationships with fellow human beings and exist as a coherent society. Love is the foundation on which all our personal relationships are built upon, it is the life blood of all our interactions with our families and ‘loved ones’ (for lack of a better word).

It therefore follows that using the analogy that if life were compared to a running train, then love would be the wheels of this particular train, the foundation on which the train rests and keeps chugging along the rails. And just as any train wheel requires flanges to ensure that the wheels remain on track and don’t derail, similarly every love requires communication as the flange to ensure that our lives remain on track.

Comm2We have all heard of, and I am sure even know more than a few people in our lives who have suffered quite a bit due to lack of communication and even worse due to being over-communicative. I am sure that the battle-hardened war veterans among the readers are quietly smiling and nodding their heads when I say that all of us at some point of time in our lives have borne the consequences of good or bad communication skills having a major impact in our lives.

One of the things that most of us make the mistake of doing is to take the people we love for granted. After the initial euphoria of the first few days in the relationship, when all parties involved are getting to know each other and are therefore extremely careful about what is being told and communicated, almost all relationships enter into a ‘steady state’. This is the stage when each party in the relationship is comfortable enough with the other that most of the time; he/she is able to predict the reaction, reply or next moves of the other party. While this is a good sign and means that the parties understand each other, this ‘comfort’ is inherently fraught with a lot of risk.

Comm3The fact remains that as humans, we are all extremely emotional creatures driven by our moods. If I am in a bad, surly mood, then even the best of news would probably not be greeted with a smile. In such moods, even simple harmless questions may sound like deep rooted suspicions against my intentions. At the other end of the spectrum, if I am in a happy-go-lucky mood, then even the worst of news will be treated with disdain and events which would require urgent attention also might go unnoticed for long. That is the sad but true nature of our mood swings. And it therefore follows that communication at such times plays an extremely pivotal role in the well-being or otherwise of relationships.

Like I mentioned before it is the flangiprop, the prop which ensures that the message and the medium with which it is delivered has the appropriate impact irrespective of the mood of the listener or the reader of the same. I mean, despite various scientific experiments in the field of telepathy and intuition, the fact remains that as of today, the only effective means for humans to get their message across to others is to talk to each other or to write to each other. It therefore follows that all of us have to be crystal clear when communicating with each other, more so in relationships that really matter to us, as the stakes are a lot higher and more valuable in such cases.

Comm4So let us all take some time out, think clearly about what we want to say to our loved ones and more importantly how we want to say the same, for you never know that might just be the difference between getting a nice red Thai curry for lunch or some burnt karela ka sabji (burnt bitter gourd fry) for dinner. Let us all work on our flangiprop to ensure our lives are not beset with unnecessary petty issues.

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This post is written for WordPress Daily Prompts : 365 Writing Prompts where the idea is to publish at least one post a day based on the prompts provided.

Today’s prompt was “Invent a definition for the word flangiprop and use the word in the prompt”.

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(All images used in this post were sourced from Google Image search)

Guest Post : Wedding Bells


I have always had this issue with many North Indians considering everybody living south of the Vindhya mountains (or in modern times, everyone south of Andhra Pradesh) as ‘Madrasis’. While most of them don’t use this term derogatorily, the fact remains that they are doing a great disservice to all of us down south.

There are just so many varieties of South Indians that clubbing them together into one large dark skinned group is wrong and speaks of narrow minded stereotyping at its worst.

With that prelude, here’s yet another guest post by favorite guest author and this time he deals with his experiences at a Tamil Brahmin wedding with a few words of advice for couples who are inter-racial (at least from a South Indian perspective). Given that he has more than decade of matrimonial experience and happiness speaking for him, his advice is sound.

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Image courtesy: The Hindu website
Image courtesy: The Hindu website

Tamil Brahmins (Tam-Brahms) are of two kinds – Iyers and Iyengars. Iyengars follow Vaishnavite traditions while Iyers are Saivites. Iyengars in-turn are sub-divided in Vadakalai and Thenkalai. Iyers in-turn are sub-divided into Vadama, Brahacharanam etc. While superficially they seem similar, there are significant differences in rituals that these sub-sects follow.

We are Vadakalai Iyengars and our relative’s daughter was marrying an Iyer boy. Both are MBA grads, cosmopolitan and now settled in well paying jobs in Mumbai. It was a love marriage that took all the trappings of an arranged marriage. That seems to be the trend these days. The young ones want it both ways – all the fun of being in love and then enjoying the luxury of a traditional wedding! Right from the way the bride’s sari is tied (madisaar kattu), the mantras recited, the number of namaskarams made, the kind of food served, there are differences between Iyers and Iyengars. It was a pity that right through the wedding ceremony these differences spilled out as disagreements & arguments between the bride and the groom’s parents & relatives. While I hope & pray that the young couple have a long, happy married life together, I have a sneaking feeling that their parents & relatives will not make it easy for them.

All our romantic movies end with a wedding scene. Life actually starts then. The sequel is not always so romantic. In an arranged marriage typically a support system kicks in to smoothly complete the wedding ceremonies and the wedding generally happens with the blessings of everyone. In a love turned-into arranged marriage, one side or the other would have agreed only reluctantly to the wedding and this generally shows in the cooperation (or lack of) that they extend during the ceremony. Some of these disputes (though minor in nature) turn into long standing grudges and come in the way of a happy marriage.

For those of you in love with a person from another community, my advice is to talk to your loved one about what ceremonies that you are going to go through much ahead of your wedding and get everyone’s consent. In Indian marriages, we don’t marry an individual. We ‘marry’ the individual’s family! Getting to know everyone in your loved one’s family will make life much easier for you.

I was pretty much a rolling stone and nobody (least of all me) thought I will be marriageable. It was an arranged marriage. What helped I think, was the 6 months gap we had between our engagement and the marriage. It gave us a chance to understand each other and know about each other’s families. Once we married, both our parents stepped away and let us lead our lives. Both my mother and mother-in-law turned out to be good friends and I think their relationship transcended the formality of their roles. It is now 13 years since we got married and I think we are doing OK. My wife & kids complain about my dressing, my spending habits, my weight and pretty much about everything. But, that is quite normal and on par!