The Intouchables

3 in the morning trying to put my li’l tubcake to sleep had me randomly switching channels and what a find I stumbled onto.

The Intouchables, a french movie about an unlikely friendship between a rich quadriplegic and a reluctant caregiver. That the one is the black and the other white is just incidental to the story. The movie goes beyond race into something more simple and rare.. a true friendship that transcends social class and physical disabilities.  And what could have been a maudlin fare full of drivel and sniffling characters  instead becomes this extraordinary story served on a refreshing platter of honesty and humor.

This hilarious, heart warming flick is easily on my top 20 movies to watch on those Moody Blues days.

And it set off another train of thought.

How friendships (not the I-scratch-your-back-you-scratch-mine kinds nor the I-need-your-help-else-I-don’t-remember-you type kinda ho-hum friendships but those that are tried/tested & stand true) are struck in the most unlikeliest of places with the most unlikely of people.

Unlike family you can chose your friends.

And most often we end up choosing friends based on mutual interests, networking opportunities or associations. Nothing wrong really. But then gauge the quality of these friendships against the random ones with whom you can just pick up a conversation or the threads of that friendship after a long separation like you were never apart. With whom you can talk endlessly about nothing and yet come away satisfied like you have just unlocked one of the mysteries of life.

Friends with whom you just struck a rapport not based on any of the commonalities but the differences that made you seek the other.

How these friendships are like that first cuppa coffee on a Monday morning that helps kick start the day.

How these friendships are like those old comics you go back to long, long after you have outgrown them.

How these friendships help you revel in your quirky individuality and not let you be another face in the crowd.


Being open to the endless possibilities of life and being aware in the moment is one sure way to strike such unlikely lifelong friendships.

Live in the now.

You are bossy

Nearing an important milestone number wise I no longer accept the tried and tested. What works for you may not necessarily be right for me. I have my beliefs, value system, ideas and dreams and I’m no longer willing to let go.

As a woman, one is generally told to tone down the voice, sit with legs crossed, cross the t’s and mind the dots when in conversations, never ask but request, always value relationships over money even if it means you may end up a doormat, children over career, yadayadayadayadayayadada.

You think this are old fashioned thoughts and no longer the case.


Think again.

Case 1:

Watching the latest episode of this English song-based reality show featuring Indian singers on one of the newly minted channels brought all these common generalities to fore.While the program provides a terrific platform for singers to showcase their talent, it also brings out a lot of old fashioned prejudices that still exist.

PYTs in totthering heels and dodgy makeup but poor vocals are always given a Thumbs Up by most of the male judges if said PYTs swing ‘foxily sexy.’ Ordinary girls with power house voices are given the go bye. The guys are soley judged on the performance and attitude. Say what?!

The theme for the particular episode, which sent a chain of never-ending thoughts go klutching klutching, was Saturday Night Fever type va-va-voom songs. Now this obviously meant a lot of swagger and sex appeal.

While most of the male contestants were unapologetic about their attitude and oomph and even reveled in compliments about their risque shining through the performance, some of the girls were clearly embarrassed to be told by the judges they were sexy or hot. In fact, one of the contestants remarked, “My ears are ringing right now,” and looked like she was ready to be swallowed by the nether world.

And this when she was wearing a short, cross-back style dress and looked set to party and be the wild child.

While the male panelists on the judging panel complimented her on ‘her moves’ the female panelist asked, ‘Why are you apologetic about being sensual? What is wrong with being sexy if you own it?’

Case 2:

Time for the usual annual review and this mid-management level female marketing executive decided it was time for her to voice her concern about the poor hike doled out during the mid-term, poor compared with her male peers from the same department, and those that she felt had done far less than she.

She requested for HR representation at the table as well besides her immediate supervisor who was conducting the review. She came armed with stats and examples of her outstanding performance. She gave the reviewing board examples of her ‘beyond-the-call-of-duty’ in several of the exhibitions and client meetings she had been a part of or lead. 

This approach helped her get a better hike and a letter of public commendation from the company chief executive.

However, during an unofficial chat with the HR person she was told that she had a dominating, bossy personality that unsettled male colleagues. There were no asks but the comment was casually flung into the conversation.

Imagine her reaction after.

Case 3:

A senior female sales executive decides to return to the workforce after taking a hiatus from work after the birth of her baby boy. Now that the boy had turned five and was settled into a regular routine attending school she felt ready to tackle the workplace, and accordingly had upgraded her skills sets. While she felt reasonably confident in handling job pressures, it seemed the companies were not ready to accommodate her. Casual questions about how she was going to deal with pressures at work after being off the grid were thrown her way along with the support system she had in place.While some companies were willing to take her on they were unwilling to match her salary with the previous job she held. Other companies were sceptical about her intention to take on full time work. 

She finally gave up the idea of seeking full time employment and opened her own consultancy, providing sales services for generating leads, market intelligence, business analytics and digital support.

Though she is doing well now the attitude shown by companies threw her off kilter especially in the light of a chat she had with one of her male proteges who had taken a few years off to pursue his passion. He went backpacking around the globe and became a volunteer teacher in several of the countries he visited to fund his trip. Instead of showing scepticism about his intention to return to the work force the interviewers felt he brought international exposure to the table.

Three different instances but each instance still highlights the glass ceiling, visible and otherwise, that women in the workplace have to break.

Having been through a maternity related hiatus recently I can tell you the ceiling exists for real but it is not unbreakable. If you prepare yourself to break this glass ceiling with a sledge hammer, if need be the wall is yours to be broken.

First, FIND A MENTOR – Do not wait till you are into a few years into your career  or in the mid-management level to find a mentor. Read HBR’s 10 Must Read Titles including On Managing Yourself and Your first 90 days at work for invaluable tips on building your career and choosing the right type of mentor who can be your guiding light.

If you are lucky your mentor may chose you seeing the potential you have to shine. But most times you have to actively seek a mentor to help you navigate the corporate minefield before it becomes your playground. Chose wisely.

Chose a mentor who understand your industry well or who know the role you are currently executing and who is a leader in that field.

Chose a mentor who will help you align your personal value system with the needs in the corporate sector.

Your mentor can be categorised as technical, a life coach or a strategist depending on what you need.

Be a Mentor yourself. Chose a protege(s) who you can groom in your chosen field. Mentoring another person opens your eyes to the possibilities there are of doing things differently or better as you see the same humdrum stuff/routine through a new prism.


(To be continued)

In the Meanwhile, take time to read this fabulous article… It is as much relevant after 40 as it is in your early 20s.

Have a great week !

Post partum depression or lack of expression

5 months post delivery and I’m still reeling from the after affects of this whole ‘pregnancy’ not-so-glow-but-very-very low thingie.

I sit down to write and a vast canvas stares at me, ridiculing me in my hazy state where the right words don’t spring out as they would have sprung earlier.

I talk to people and have a vast deal to opine about, i’m an opinionated women, but there are plenty of ahem, pregnant pauses, before the right word or phrase comes in a hasty rush – often the wrong one at the wrong time or I just look blank, panic stricken wondering where the very expressive lady of yore has disappeared to.

My physical blotches are slowly disappearing but mentally I just seem to have one huge blotch of nothingness.

Trying to read at warp speed, digesting the words and trying to regurgitate later isn’t as easy as it used to be.

I’m in a perpetual state of brain freeze.

Life comes a full circle

After all that waiting my express delivery finally arrived….. Healthy and kicking in full gusto.

A baby Boy.

wee bit disappointed since it was a gurl methot all along.

but the lil termagnet already has the whole house wrapped around his teeny fingers.

and lo my world as i knew it has changed.

the kindle gathers dust as the NYT best sellers await my return

the oven lies unused. the fragrance of grilled chicken and cakes replaced by his poopy and his indescribable body scent which even beats the fragrance of the first rains on wet mud.

where an earthquake couldnt rouse me a whimper does

i’m no longer the subject of an envious sigh accompanied by a snide ‘look at her sleep, the sleep of the innocent’ …..

i’m on my bed listening to the sounds from the cherub…heavy breathing, a gargle, a snortle, gentle gurgles

i watch him for signs of hunger and get his pouts and smiles, eyes still closed

a coo

i pick him up to nurse him, wonder if he’ll be thankful for being born or ungrateful for the life given

i wait for his eyes to shut but see him explore the world with round, wondering eyes and a thoughtful frown.

i walk the night

warmth lulling him to sleep

i do what millions of mothers do around the world

what generations of women did before me transgressing continents and culture

i do what women will continue to do long after i’m gone

i’m a mother now

i have come full circle

Short Selling

“I don’t know much.  I’m just a housewife. I’m a mother. I haven’t done anything but cook, clean and take care of you and yours.

I have zero talent.”

And went conversation.

The never ending conversation remained the same. Endless, meaningless talks with no one to argue against her.

Her children had settled down. Her husband had taken up a part-time job as a consultant to beat the monotony of watching endless news debates, empty walls and silence.

She went on long walks in the evening. She opened her mouth to talk to her husband of oh-so-many years but she had lost track and touch with what made them special.

Her kids had moved on to busy lives of their own. A call, a message, a whatsapp forward – their endeth the conversation.

Young couples in the apartment they stayed in looked at the couple with envy and a sigh. Ah, companionship. If we get to that stage of life with a beatific smile. We have arrived they thought.

She was that sprightly 50+ lady, vivacious, gracious and zestful.

If only they knew.

The loneliness.

The lack of self worth.

She opened a tattered cardboard box and pulled out earrings she had made from shards of glass. They glimmered in the sunlight throwing multi-colored diamonds on the wall.

She pulled out the little trinket she had made for her daughter and smiled. Her daughter had worn it for a week before discarding it for another trinket she had created.

The doorbell rang.

“Hello Aunty, we are having a yard sale. Do you have anything you would want to give us? ” smiled the 18-year old girl and her friend from next door.

She turned around and saw the box with all the earrings, trinkets, bracelets and other accouterments she had made over the years. She invited them inside and sat down looking at the box. Abruptly she gathered the scattered items and stuffed them into the box, silently handing it over to the girl. The earring fell out which the girl picked up in wonder.

“Oh my God Aunty. Did you make this? Could you tell us how? Do you have more of them?”

She smiled and nodded her head.

“No beta, these are very old. I made it for my daughters but it doesn’t hold any value now.”

The girl stared at her friend, thanked her and left.

She sighed.

Another part of her had been cut away.

She began to tidy up and begin preparations for the evening dinner. Not that they ate much now. A simple repast of roti and sabzi with some salad was all that was needed. Yet, she found comfort in the ritual of kneading the dough and rolling out the rotis to put them on the tava and watch each roti fluff. How her daughters would gaze in wonder as they saw the roti fluff over the stove. “How do you do it Maa? You must teach us too.”

The doorbell rang. She was surprised. Her husband never came back this early.

She washed her hands and scampered towards the door wiping her hands on the kitchen towel.

She switched on the  lights and peered out of the window. It was the girl next door with someone.

She opened the door and looked inquiringly, “Yes beta?”

“Aunty, this is my friend. He has a boutique and an online store that specialises in handicrafts. I showed him all the trinkets you gave us for the yard sale. He wanted to speak with you.”

“Hello Aunty. I’m delighted to meet you. When I saw the trinkets I knew I had to meet the lady who made it. You wouldn’t believe me but there is a huge demand for products like this, especially among the younger generation.”

She looked on in disbelief before saying, “But beta…..”

“I understand Aunty. You must be busy with all the housework. We can look at small orders at first, and then when you are comfortable you can start sending us more volumes. I would also like you to meet two NGOs we support to teach this craft to the women who come there. If all this sounds too much, we can take it a step at a time. But please, please say yes.”

“I have no talent you know,” she began but the girl and her friend took her hand in their own, and smiled.

User Manual: Your Body

So after the dreaded first trimester finally passed I summed up the courage to tackle my fear.

Will my body be the same ever again?

Now if you aren’t a woman or a ubersexual or metrosexual male you just won’t get this obsessive compulsive disorder we women suffer with body image, and usually a bad one.

After tiding over blotched, acne-ridden face and baby fat all through the teenage years to gain some semblance of self confidence well into my late 20s and early 30s (so sue me I’m a late bloomer) my body was finally something I was proud to own.

No I wasn’t still into the ‘my body is a temple’ phase but I was confident enough to wear a swimsuit to show all my curves in its glory, flaunt hot pants (tho’ I don’t claim to own a Kim Kardashian kaboodle) and lounge about in PJs without listening to the voices that inhabit my world.

Ah, I revelled in being a woman.

I was unsullied by the ugly stares, the groping hands, the hoots and the whistles.

After all, if dogs barked would I clamp them with muzzles or ignore them.

I was free to be me.

Wild, Free, Beautiful, Curvy, Independent, Wilful, Boisterous, Careless, Smart, Goofy, Whimsical, etc etc…

And then kaboom…..

I was bloating

I was swelling up

I was cranky

I was hypersensitive

I was ultra emotional

I had weird tastes

I hated myself

I hated the world

I saw a tadpole leering at me from the scan monitor. I saw an alien taking shape living and breathing inside of me. I saw what looked human roll about and wave.

I was caught.

My swollen belly held a miracle that no amount of science could explain. I was overwhelmed for perhaps the second time in my life!

So I get tightness in my rib cage and spend sleepless nights, tossing and turning, my belly cramping at times, my legs swollen, my face looking like a bee-stung disaster, back hurting, standing hours on end to have a normal work life, not giving into my sweet tooth (the worst), eating fruits (even worse) and gorging on greens (better).

Biting into bullet sized vitamins, retching up (the leitmotif of my life now), jabbing myself with injections to prevent hypertension, monitoring consumption, no consumption of alcohol…….is it worth it I wondered?

The net is filled with articles on what to expect week-by-week and month-by-month but it doesn’t prepare you for the reality of it.

I looked around and life was just the same for everyone else except of course the mater who couldn’t but up the care and concern (God bless her). Friends had their lives, holidays and concerts were a part of the normal life; mid night calls and mid night rendezvous still happened, catch ups did as well. I was out of it all.

No amount of empathy can prepare you for the vile bile that rises with rapid regularity every single morning for the first three months and more.

No one tells you about the overwhelming gratitude you feel about being born a woman to experience this phenomenon or prepare you for the anger of having to suffer alone and making you wish men were seahorses. But then it would mean mankind as you know it would cease to exist. Does a man have the patience to suffer through even if he does have humour?

My clothes don’t fit anymore.

I have taken to tracks with a vengeance and stoles too.

Ah, I also discovered I do have a sense of humor for days when things go really wrong, when hemerroids and back pain make you wring and grin like this is something you enjoy in the due process of motherhood; when nightmares haunt you about your state of readiness to be a parent; when news alerts tell you about yet another rape or molestation; when you wake in a sweat to realise this is for real…………………………………… you turn around and you listen to the other half snore, turn around and take you in the arms, you smile.

After all if it were the other way around, you can bet your last rupee or dime or whatever currency you trade in,  woman you would have been up all night nursing the baby carrier (your other half) through all that angst.

So cheer up I say, celebrate being a woman.



And life as I know it has just come to a STOP.

I’m pregnant.

Unplanned, unexpected.

Mood swings.

Dark swathes of depression during the witching hours, is this me? Am I ready for it? Is this my body? Does anyone care?


Wow, so I finally did it (note I don’t say we).

This is it.

Life as I know it has changed.

And I’m still struggling to come to terms with it.

No more impulsive holidays with just a backpack

No more long drives

No late night meetings

No dances or dandiyas

Pigmentation marks. Acne. Scaly skin. Dandruff. Swollen Face. Fatigue.

And I can’t drink, smoke grass, watch horror flicks, get into fights to chase away these blues.

I’m beginning to resemble a tuber and a rotten one at that.

My stilletoes are out.

Flat shoes keep my swollen feet from getting more swollen.

And heh, guess what?!  I just can’t complain.

After all how many get to be a mother.

With a shelf life nearing expiry and alarming stats (A woman dies from complications in childbirth every minute – about 529,000 each year — the vast majority of them in developing countries not to mention miscarriage, genetic abnormalities, and so on and so forth)

Last count the world’s population was nipping at  1.14% per year, about 133 million babies born each year (123 million and counting this year) and my baby (when it hops out) will be one in the count.

I should count myself lucky, they say….


Eat well

Eat for 2

Eat 300 calories more

And don’t worry the nausea stops

You will get the pregnancy glow

You won’t look like a well-fed sow or cow (choose your bovine)


The morning sickness be damned

The pretty 30-year old neighbour who looks 16 to the jaundiced eye be damned

The gym going other half be damned

The well meaning aunty with the religious texts be damned

As I labour along, the whole world be damned!

Let me wallow in my misery, bask in the miracle of having a child inside, delight in the wonder of how the body changes, frown at the well-meaning platitudes, sulk at not being able to fit in (anywhere) anymore…..

After all I get to be pregnant but once!

Unless of course my body thinks it is an assembly line and the next one is in production……

The Twilight Years

“My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-seven now, and we don’t know where the heck she is.”
Ellen DeGeneres


The first time I read this quote I couldn’t stop laughing thinking what a wit Ellen was and cursing myself for never coming up with anything wittier than ‘mud in your eye’ or a tongue sticking out.

More than a fortnight back this same quote was no longer as funny but just a trigger to get me crying buckets.

You see my 95-year old grandfather, my Nanu, had gone for a walk and we really didn’t know where the heck he was.

What followed was a week of pure torture, much worse than anything the Chinese or Torquemador could have conceived (and from here say they seem to have conjured everything (in)humanly possible).


Well I bet they never imagined what a fevered mind could conjure up.

Those seven days were agonizingly slow in passing. Every passing second seemed to stretch into eternity, every ring on the phone brought us new hope only to be dashed and every passing old man seemed to have more than a smidgen of resemblance to my missing grandpa.

We cursed ourselves for not being mindful enough (when in fact stopping short of strapping him to the bed we kept an eye out for his every movement from the time he woke up to giving him his meals like clockwork to not letting him step out of the house to not letting him have his bath by himself – my mother was the primary and only care giver – to bundling him up like he was headed for the North Pole to regimenting his lifestyle so he hit the sack by 10 every night) , for not getting a leash, for not getting a GPS tracker, for not installing a CCTV camera, for not telling the neighbours about the slow onset of dementia, for not putting him in an assisted care facility that would have had care takers 24/7 and so on and so forth.


And while the self guilt and mental blame game went unhindered we also filed a police complaint.

Surprisingly, the police were very co-operative. They filed a complaint after the stipulated 24 hour waiting period. They issued an all city alert.

We called everyone in our contacts across the country to help us search or aid in the search.

We went on Social media to launch a campaign called Find Nanu on Facebook.

We tweeted.

We instagramed.

We Whatsapped.

We scoured hospitals and police stations.

We went to NGOs (Nightingale Dignity Foundation comes to mind, they are doing a phenomenal job of taking care of people with dementia and alzheimers as also Auto Raja Foundation).

We discovered that there is an elderly helpline  1090 / 22943226.

We discovered that there is RVM Foundation which picks up destitutes on the streets and houses them till they find their real homes or takes care of them until alternate arrangements are made.

We made posters and plastered it all over the city, wherever we thought in our fevered imagination Nanu might have walked. You see we truly didn’t know where the heck Nanu walked to.

We hounded ex-journalist friends to write stories.

We contemplated issuing a missing persons alert on the telly and in the papers.

We planned on inserting flyers and have it distributed through local paper vendors.


THE LEADS (false but keeping hopes up)

And we waited.

That first call came from a girl who called at 1 am to inform us she saw someone looking like Nanu at a spot 8 kms away from our residence. SO rush, rush. Only to find it was a drunk who looked a lot like him.

Next came a call from the railway station and the hunt was on. Not him.

Then was the call we dreaded (or thought we did) from the morgue to identify an unidentified corpse. The good samaritan cop volunteered to check the body and thank God, it wasn’t Nanu.

We realised what was worse was the Not Knowing, the tormented imagination of a overtly stressed mind and emotional heart, the fact that we were snug in our beds while some one we loved and cherised was all alone battling a strange world, loneliness, hunger and thirst.



We got a message on Facebook from a stranger who urged us to go to a spot 22 kms away from our residence along with the stranger’s number and contact details.

A call ensued.

Hope had slowly receded but not quite.

We put out a message asking for volunteers so we could have more legs to cover a vast area that was park land, wooded and dark. Friends came, family rushed, acquaintances called, good samaritans volunteered.


seven days after he had disappeared, my 95-year old Nanu was finally found.

Here is how….

Bangalore Mirror covered the story, the before and the after.


Always treat the Elderly like you would a teenager: Tell them the Do’s and Don’ts but equip them to cope (in our case we mollycoddled Nanu so much that we never bothered telling him the location of where we stayed or the address in the belief we would always be there to take care).

Quit with martyrdom and guilt, if assisted care or old age homes will keep your elders in safe environs, so be it.

Invest a little time and effort in making sure they always have an ID card on them (a friend told me how her mother had stitched an ID tag on all the clothes that mentioned the name of her dad, who had dementia, with address and emergency contact numbers).

Invest some time in getting to know your neighbours, the local cops and the hospital. Had we told our neighbours about my Nanu’s condition of partial memory loss perhaps some one would have brought him home the minute they saw him sauntering out alone on a walk.

Invest some money in getting a GPS tracker or a CCTV camera.

And yes, social media is great to get the message viral but what clicks is Good old Print……

And the most important lesson, BELIEVE IN THE GOODNESS OF PEOPLE.

What we received throughout this terrible ordeal has been overwhelming support from friends, acquaintances and strangers. People who called and messaged each day to enquire about the progress of the HUNT, about help they could provide, who gave us tips and leads and always, always kept out hopes alive.

THIS IS MY THANK YOU to all those out there who prayed, supported us and helped us sail the tide of bad karma.




Facebook Fatigue


Gorgeously dressed bodies lolling about on beaches, canoodling in night clubs, more selfies

People I remembered as hunks having balding pates and bigger paunches strolling down beaches and puffing up hill

Once hot women trying to look hotter and younger

Ibiza, Shanghai, Scotland, Paris, Tanzania, Ivory Coast, Washington, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Macha Pichu, New York, Himalayas, Ladakh, Uttaranchal, Uzbekistan, Gobi Dessert, Dubai, Turkey, Afghanistan (yes that too)

Lovey dovey couples striking poses, once-self-proclaimed enemies now bffs

Change the world, stop the war, stop rape, conserve the environment, feed the hungry, liberate the inner child

Sign a petition

Join a movement

Like even if you don’t like to



even it just means telling the whole world and the Martians (like they care, yes they do exist havent’ you read, really where were you) that you are happy/sad/lonely/hurt/intelligent/bitch/asshole/loaded/mental

that you burnt your biriyani

that you can boil water

that you can cook maggi noodles

that you woke up early to make breakfast for your lovely wife

or you stayed up late to make out with your doofey husband

Ah facebook

life doesn’t exist outside of it

friends don’t exist without it

you fart, you sneeze, you orgasm, you burp, you are alive

Yay facebook

So what happens one fine day when you wake up and see your life has passed you by on facebook

where everybody has travelled everywhere


had kids

got divorced

got promotions

lost jobs

lost lives


RIP facebook


Still Alive