Wednesday, January 23, 2008

am i daddy blogger?

am i a 'daddy blogger'? or are they called 'papa bloggers'? (some, who are not very particular about being politically correct, might call them soppy, middle-aged men dealing with a combination problem of a mid-life crisis and premature balding!)

when i look around in the blogospehere i notice that there are quite a few 'mommy bloggers' out there. so now i know about kids taking their first step, the kiddies day out, the tantrums, and so many other life-enriching details of kids and their moms. some of these 'supermoms' also maintain multiple blogs with one focused only on their kid. and they are maintaining these blogs in the midst of juggling with career, home, kids, family, extended families, pets, hobbies and so much more. (i have this hypothesis that most blogs dedicated to specific kids are maintained by moms with single kids. is this true?)

but i don't see too many 'daddy bloggers'. i mean, there are many male bloggers out there. but then we men are all busy saving the world, analysing the stock markets, dishing out economic theories, discussing the relative merits of new phone/car/laptop models. you know, the usual stuff. our wives are worrying about small details like bringing up kids, schooling them, managing the household, balancing the domestic budget; while we are busy worrying about the fiscal budget, global oil prices, global warming, the US presidential elections and such-like weighty matters.

and have you noticed how most mommy bloggers have some kind of sisterhood of their own. i don't know of any such brotherhood of male bloggers (and i don't think tys' and my new cult initiative with our membership of one each counts)! but have you also noticed how mommy bloggers have a legion of fan followers (and not all the fans are mommys or women either!)? so its not only the single lady bloggers who have scores of lascivious male followers posting appreciative comments and trying to sound intellectual and humorous at the same time. (again, tys and i are excused because we are only trying to woo members into our cult. ladies, did i mention earlier, but membership is free for you for a limited period only? and the limited period expires as soon as i get 100 lady members! that would ensure i also have about 1000 faithful male members too! :P)

but i must confess here that i do tend to keep waxing eloquent about my kids on my blog at every opportunity. which is very often. does that make me a soppy, balding, middle-aged guy who's fast approaching mid-life crisis? maybe. (well actually, yes.)

but the learnings and experiences that i have gained from my kids is something that i would never have had otherwise. and i am leading a happier, fuller life. thanks to them. and if i am called a 'daddy blogger' because of my irrational need to share this with the world at large and get my dose of daily attention and adulation, i think its a small price to pay :)

p.s. let me clarify, at the grave risk of losing many potential lady members, that the pic i have inserted in this post is not mine :(

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

the chief guest

i recently attended the annual sports day function at our kids' school twice! because the sports day for the pre-primary section was on a different day from the primary section. (click here to see the pics. and don't believe the slander you will hear that i was trying to get the pretty teachers on film instead of my kids!!!)

every year i worry about reaching office late because of having to attend the darned event! and how the financial markets will crash and the country's economy will slip a few notches if i reach office a couple of hours late! (somehow this sense of panic doesn't creep in when wake up late and crawl into office at an unearthly hour, late hour, i mean!)

but every year i only feel glad that i still managed to make it. (actually i should thank the 'big boss' at home for goading me into action with some well-aimed below-the-belt remarks about the afore-mentioned effects on the stock markets, et al!)

this year's events was no different. no actually, there was a big difference. and therefore this post.

there were the usual march-pasts, the drills, the yoga/karate/gymnastics displays, the races for the kids (which actually look like some cultural show more than races) and all that.

but what made it different this year was the choice of the chief guest by the school. normally they call some local dignitary or a school official or even a teacher from one of their group schools. but this year they actually had a student from one of their group of schools as the chief student! and not an ex-student who had made it big in the big, bad world, but a student from the current 9th standard (or 9th grade as my develop-world compatriots would call it) batch!

her name was neha bole and she was a state level swimming champion who had also won at many national level events. this was the first time i saw a school honoring one of their students in such a novel way. by inviting an athlete to be the chief guest at the annual sports day!

i think this sent a very apt message to all the students as well as the parents. about how we need to give due attention to sports. about how sports is important to make our children well-rounded individuals. about how sports can help in developing skills which can actually help even in academics. about how sport can also bring glory to the individual and to our nation!

Friday, January 18, 2008

please appreciate him!

(i couldn't resist doing this post in response to "Please Appreciate Her". those of you who do not like politically incorrect writing, and using humor to deal with serious stuff, please do not read any further. and if you do then it is with the express understanding that you absolve me of any liability whatsoever and that you promise not to sue me ever, on any issue! (just in case you thought you could trip me up there! hah!))

tomorrow you may propose to a man who doesn't work,
but you should marry with these facts firmly grounded in your mind...

here is a guy who is as educated as you are,
but who is hoping that you will earn enough for both.

one who dreams, because he is sleeping most of the time.
because he is less of a human than you are!

one who has never entered the kitchen just like you (and any other member of your family)
as he was busy goofing off and was never around to get into the kitchen,
and was busy trying to beat the system while he would have actually liked to lie down on the sofa in front of the tv!

one who lived and constantly fought with
his parents and brothers and sisters for the past 30 years of his life
but still wouldn't leave and live separately
because everywhere else he would have had to pay for boarding and lodging.

one, who has bravely agreed to leave behind all that,
his home, people who are glad to see him go,
to adopt to your home, your tyrannical ways, your constant badgering
your discipline and regimen.

one, who is expected to be man-of-the house from day 1,
while you cook and manage all the household chores,
oblivious to his predicament
as he come to terms with his new-found marital status!

one who is expected to wake up early, smile
share the bathroom, and say the right things every time
even if he is tired and partially drunk.
and yet never expected to shirk from his responsibilities
to be a supporting, caring, loving husband, father and hunter
all rolled into one,
even if he doesn't want to !
(he would rather watch the indians thulp the australians
at the waca)

and is learning the ropes, just like you,
to stop being clumsy and sloppy at all times
and knows that you won't like it
if he is not always appreciative
(but not of the good-looking neighbour)!

one who has his own set of friends, men and women,
but with whom he can't go out with for a late-night movie and drinking session anymore
because the lady of the house doesn't approve and won't appreciate it.
and would welcome you with a cold shoulder and
you would have to sleep in the living room couch for a few days
without the tv!!!

one who doesn't mind you smoking or drinking
but can't say so because you think/know
he is saying it just so that it gives him the excuse
to have that extra drink!

one who is doing his best to make this most important relationship work
cos else he will have to actually do some real work!

one who wants only one thing from you, as you are the only one
he knows in the entire house (or so he naively thinks)
your love and understanding (no regular headaches!)
your unstinted support (no haranguing him to get to work
while he is trying to work things out in his head)
your sensitivity (his male ego needs that regular boost)

but not a single woman understands this....

please appreciate him!

Monday, January 14, 2008

its all been arranged!

most marriages in india are still 'arranged'. as opposed to 'love marriages'. (also click here to read more)

for those of you who are not familiar with these terms, an arranged marriage is a typical indian phenomenon where the marriage is completely arranged by the parents of the bride and the groom (and usually paid for by the parents of the bride). and this also includes finding a bride for your son (who would otherwise not stand a chance of finding a bride on his own) or a groom for your daughter (who has, on last count, driven at least 6 boyfriends up the wall and around the bend!)
and no, i have never come across a same-sex, arranged marriage till date. i mean, there's only so much any parent would do for the apple of their eye!

the entire arranged marriage rigmarole is quite an involved exercise and the rituals and associated customs across different states, communities and sects are far too many, even for wikipedia to capture.

but most arranged marriages begin with the ubiquitous horoscope. if you venture out into 'arranged marriage land' without this piece of indecipherable gibberish, you have as much chance of landing yourself a spouse as a sea-lion has of marrying you because you remind him of his voluptuous neighbour! (no, maybe i wouldn't bet my money on that!)

this is usually followed by a terse, crisply worded matrimonial ad in some leading national daily. each letter costs money. and people in the know are able to decipher the meaning of the ads which usually read like this - "SM for 27/5'9" Handsome Goel boy MBA Rich/ Affluent B'ness F'ly seeks for V'B'ful Edu. Homely N.Manglik Girl BHP Em:, Mo:98200 xxxxx".
can't make head or tail of this ad? well, it only goes to show that you have a long way to go before you venture into the business of 'arranged marriages' :-)

most of the 'subjects' in these ads are usually blissfully unaware (thankfully for them!) that their carefree days are dangerously outnumbered and that most of the 'arranged marriage' seekers are perusing their cryptic descriptions, while they are innocently out on a steamy date with their boy/girl friend!

the responses to the ads are carefully and expertly filtered out by the wise ones (usually parents, uncles, aunts, or any remotely connected branch of the family tree). you can't have some cranky pervert trying to slip through this cordon to steal a peek at the 'apple/peach/pumpkin of your eye', can you?

the long-listed candidates are contacted and then the BHPs (bio-data, horoscope, photograph) are exchanged. this is followed by another more careful round of scrutiny and short-listing.

and then follow the 'meetings'. (some of the non-believers rudely term them the 'meetings' before the 'matings'!) this is when the 'boy' and the 'girl' accompanied by at least 3-4 members of the family from either side meet at some coffee-shop/ restaurant/ meeting-place to 'see' each other. this usually means that the family members politely introduce each other and then after some small talk, the 'boy' and the 'girl' move to another table out of ear-shot but still under the watchful eye of the elders. here they try to get to know each other as best as possible over tea/coffee/lime juice. both parties usually have a prepared set of queries which they believe will help them instantly evaluate the opposite party and thereby grant them a blissful marital life.

but its not always as easy as i make it sound here. one of my friends told me about how he 'saw' about a dozen prospective women before he made up his mind on the first lady he had seen. but by then she was already hitched! (my wife usually does the same thing when she is out shopping for clothes! its always the first dress that she goes back to, after she has gone through a few dozen options. and unfortunately for me, unlike the disappearing 'lady in question' in the case of my friend, the dress is usually still waiting for my wife! i am so glad she, my wife and not the afore-mentioned 'lady in question', did not select me through this arranged marriage routine! i wouldn't have stood a chance in hell!)

and finally if you have managed to make it through all these rounds and are still standing, and if the opposite party has also chosen to throw in his/her/its lot with you, the topic of marriage is broached. not by the 'boy' or the 'girl', but by the 'elders'.

the run-up to the actual wedding would be the subject of another post.

but as i mentioned earlier, majority of the weddings in india, even to this day, are arranged marriages. and they seem to work, not just for the earlier generations, but even for our own generation. and i am sure they would work for some time to come.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

just when i thought it couldn't get worse!

just when i was smug with the belief that i have had the worst flight experience in my life, the universe conspires to show me that i still have a long way to go!

i am trying very hard here in this post to see the humor in the entire episode, so help me along by laughing with me :-D

in my attempt to surprise myself, i reach the airport about 4 hours before my scheduled flight (jet lite S2109 from delhi, etd 2020). (my wife will shake her head in exasperation and say something like, 'why does it always have be either extreme'?) the lady at the check-in counter serves me with a smile and refuses to accommodate me in the earlier flight. i smile back at her, but i think the sub-text is lost on her. she instead chooses to smile at the next passenger in the queue.

over the next few hours i have managed to look at all the shops in the concourse, eat and drink as much as i could, finish reading the book i am carrying (the calcutta chromosome by amitav ghosh), read all the possible complimentary newspapers including the delhi times (and if you thought the mumbai times is pathetic, think again!).

and then i notice that all the flights are running about an hour late. only one of the airlines believes it necessary to make regular announcements that the flights are delayed because of congestion at the airport. (no prizes for guessing which airline it is). after some time i think the announcer was too exhausted to make any more announcements. and the person operating the controls for the display board also has lost interest in updating the revised times.

i sat and watched life pass me by. no actually, i watched passengers of all other flights stream by and depart for their respective destinations. and then finally i board my flight about 2.5 hours after the scheduled time.

and if you thought with that my travails ended, keep thinking again. it took another 15 minutes before we got clearance from the atc (air traffic control). that was after the initial 10 minutes lost in trying to trace one passenger who seemed to have disappeared. (my bet was that he was blissfully sleeping in some corner of the airport.)

and then finally we got airborne with the shrill engines reminding us of how well they have served humanity for a very long time! and then well into the flight the captain suddenly remembered that he had to apologise to us for 'all events beyond the airline's control'. and he ended his monologue by saying that he hoped to reach us to mumbai as planned unless 'the atc and events beyond his control' had other plans in mind for us!

after munching through some insipid fare being passed off as veg burgers and a cup-cake which had been pulled out of the oven before it was fully baked, we all decided to lean back and await our collective destiny which awaited us in mumbai.

and wonder of wonders! we landed in mumbai without any 'traffic congestion' or 'atc clearance' holding us up. but before we could start feeling amiable towards the airline, disaster struck. the plane taxied into its holding bay and then we had to wait for almost 15 minutes in the aircraft waiting for the ground staff to find the ladder for the aircraft! one of the passengers could be heard explaining very patiently to his wife that the ground staff seem to have lost their ladder and they are asking the passengers to either jump off the aircraft or sleep in in the aircraft until they found a ladder!

i finally reach home, at 2 am, three hours later than my scheduled time, tired and battle-worn, but glad to be back in one piece!

Friday, January 04, 2008

who's the villain here?

another new year and another shameful story besmirching mumbai's tag as a 'safe' city for women! two women, who were accompanied by their male partners, are molested by a group of over 70 men for about 15 minutes before a few journalists get help from a police inspector who chases away the mob. the two couples are taken to a police station nearby, but they choose to leave without registering a complaint.

now while the incident is a heinous act and the perpetrators of this should not be spared and all that... i wonder who is the actual villain here?

1. the people in the mob who commit this crime with the secure feeling that they are safe since they are part of a mob. and as recent incidents point out, people really believe that mobs are the best way to party! mobs allow the tiger to be unleashed from the whimpering kitty!

2. or the police, for the amazing faith they manage to inspire in the law-abiding citizens of the country! why do you think the victims of this incident did not want to press charges? and it was the same with the molestation case at the gateway of india last year! in fact the newspapers even claimed that the two couples were asked to go to another police station since the area where the incident took place did not fall under their jurisdiction! i guess registering such cases would not look good as far as the statistics go!

(all the 5 suspects arrested in last year's molestation case were finally let off because of lack of evidence!)

3. or the media! i'm sure the molested couples, already traumatised by their experience, would have been horrified to see their images being splashed across all the newspapers and television channels. and this would have only intensified their suffering and destroyed whatever little hope they had of trying to bury the entire incident as a bad dream!

now some people may defend the media action by saying that the media's job is to report facts and be honest about it and all that. but did anyone even bother to ask the permission of the victims before using their images to publish a sensational story? did any of the journalists pause to think of the mental trauma they would heap upon the unsuspecting victims?

so who is the true villain here? you decide!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

pani puris and women

have you noticed how there are always more women around a pani puri stall than men? ever wondered why?

now a pani puri might be called a 'gol gappa' in the north or a 'puchka' in the east (i don't think its exists in the south!) but the phenomenon is the same.

and as kids i remember how the girls in the convent across the street from our 'all boys' school would crowd around the street vendor who sold tamarind and wood apple and amla (gooseberry) and such like. i don't remember us guys having any such favorites when it came to food. i think the only thing that we guys showed a clear inclination towards in school was the 'much thumbed salacious' books we read surreptitiously. (this reads much better than saying 'we loved reading porn')

now most of us believe that this is because of our social upbringing which makes boys act differently from girls. but i tend to disagree. i think it has more to do with the way men are 'wired' differently from women. (most women will read that as 'men being weird as compared to women' and i wouldn't blame them :-) )

i notice this so clearly in our kids. our son is currently going through his cricket phase where he literally eats, breathes and lives cricket. i mean, he can't hold a bat to save his life, but when did that ever stop him? why, he even sleeps cricket. just the other day when i was trying to wake him up he mumbled 'its a four!'. he will catch any unsuspecting adult and start off with his own analysis of various teams and players and styles and matches and strategies and scores and what have you. we pity the poor person who's trapped and gasping like some fish stranded out of water!

but his sister cares two hoots about cricket. she loves music and dancing and dressing up and wants to try on different hair-styles. she loves coloring. she is not as keen on using the computer unlike her brother, unless its for watching her favorite dvds. (during our recent weekend trip, while all the young girls were dressed up and learning to groove to the latest filmi numbers , my son made his irritation clearly felt and went off to practice shying at the stumps by himself!)

and i don't think either my wife or i have put any of these ideas into their heads. we usually just go along with whatever they enjoy or would like to try their hands at.

i am convinced boys are just 'wired' differently from girls. don't you agree?