Fitting Rooms

Growing up in India and learning about the frenzy summer season evoked in westerners always puzzled me. The Indian summer time in Northern Plains is exact opposite of frenzy. Its the time of year when it’s wise to lie low and just hydrate. The privileged may even choose to hibernate in Himalayas. There is no euphoria attached to our summers, just a sense of waiting  and sweating for that first sign of grey pregnant monsoon clouds.

It’s later when I traveled abroad that this mystery was solved. Summer indeed was a joyous season. Without the dry Indian heat and after long winter and short days,  this season did evoke sensations and feelings of indescribable pleasure. The energy is palpable, one does wish to soak in the sunshine and let the wind caress the soul. There is music and laughter accompanying Al fresco dining.

The only tiny spoke in the wheel of this summer happiness, their summer is synonymous with beaches and beach ready bodies.While one could lounge entire summer in India in forgiving kaftans and flowing linens hiding all transgressions, no such luck if you want to truly  own  western summer experience.

So now in Dubai,  gearing again for scorching  desert summer I was ready to hydrate and hibernate, under lovely  cottons, eastern way. The thought that I and my Roti rolls can luxuriate stress-free wasn’t bad at all. Regret, it was a Utopian dream.

Dubai,  the mecca of malls,  after a quiet and peaceful Ramadan unleashed it’s summer surprise on its hapless citizens. It’s aptly called Dubai Summer Surprise Sales. If one would think prancing in swimwear in a body which feels less human more whale, spoils the summer fun, then one hasn’t seen what monster these fitting rooms of summer sales unleash.

Trying to fit in all those fancy dresses, lingerie slashed by fifty percent on sale, royally spoiled the perfectly air-conditioned Dubai Summers for me.

To add to frustration the fitting room mirrors have cheery one liners staring back at you  ‘hey sexy’ or ‘looking good’. That is such a  bad marketing idea, I am not Sexy and I know it. All it did was to raise the temper while I ingested more calorie laden Frappe, moving from shop to shop for that elusive bargain which would fit and flatter perfectly.

I seriously thought  of telling the stores to not waste more print in fitting rooms, instead hire shrinks. That may result in successful sales.

Without any luck, I came to end of my tether. Back home,  I hugged my well rung and hung swimsuit as an old friend and promised not to cuss at it again. I  now await change of season, rather than change in size.






Lett’er soar



Dear Daughter, 

There you are at threshold of youth with unshakable convictions on life and universe. Princess of our home to be Queen of the world!  Here I am, a proud mother,  doing exactly what I didn’t set out to do, minder of home and hearth.

The modern feminist mantra says it’s all about choices,  if she can choose she has already broken an important barrier. 

Momentarily, I feel good and thankful that at least I belong to ‘women who choose’ . Then come the floods of doubt,  did I choose right or what was deemed correct. Was it the Indian woman psyche  or  just circumstances mixed with deep sense of responsibility towards parenthood, ironically setting a wrong example for children. 

Looking ahead, I do want you to understand that all I ever wish for you is to have a fulfilling and enriched life.  

True,  I didn’t provide you with a role model of working mom, but I shall endeavor to equip you with skills to acquire a profession you love.  I believe this passion and pride in your work will  be reason enough to not let it go so easily when life throws challenges at you,  in forms of clichéd homilies. 

You may have seen the household run by mother but you are completely alien to either the concept or conversations which go on lines of daughters are ‘big responsibility’. Hence,  I have  faith that your choices shall definitely be smarter. They will be without a chip on your shoulder or sense of misplaced obligations.  

You are being  raised along with a sibling of the opposite sex, yet without any qualms you have fought, shared and demanded equally, as you don’t know anything different. I pray that this trait remains in your core when you step into the world and demand your rightful place,  be it at work or home.  

The important pillar of your life, your Dad whom you adore and respect was also my choice. I hope you remember this when you decide to share your life and find someone special to rise in love. 

Finally, nobody is perfect and especially parents who learn on the job.  I wish you will learn from my mistakes and still think  independently and courageously,  to make some of your own. 

Always in awe of you ,my little wonder. 





After a roller coster countdown to a move with  shifting locations akin to a game of roulette, we finally landed in glitzy Dubai International Airport, with outside temperatures soaring as high as our emotions. 

It was a complex mix of heartache and excitement between the four of us. The Teenager was feeling adventurous and in Out of Africa mode, the Tween still carrying South Africa on his sleeve or rather on the Protea T Shirt he had worn. While we,  the parents,  felt a sense of deja vu, returning to the city where we first made our home out of India.

The exhaustive weight of being a decade and half older and weary nomadic travelers fell heavier upon us than the shipping container, that boxed our possessions.

The mandatory mode of drafting a settling down list and the perseverance required to tick all the challenging boxes, kicked in mechanically. 

We will work towards the end of list, hopefully without needing therapy! Meanwhile, year’s end is here. All enveloping vast beauty of SA is behind us or seven and half hours flying time ahead, to be precise. The need of the hour is to feel ready. Ready to embrace change, city, people, weather and opportunities. 

Dubai, with its unique set of virtues and vice, like a belligerent child demands attention. A new chapter awaits to be written in the Oasis of middle east. 

That home is ephemeral, cannot be more clearer to me than in this city, whose expat population exceeds UAE nationals by leaps and bounds. So, as tumultuous 2016 draws to an end in the glittering desert land of plenty , in spite of being uprooted,  I remain grateful. 

All I wish from New Year is to be a harbinger of permanence in greenery that surrounds,  bird song that breaks slumber and strength, to overcome the days sans these.    

The God Crier

RIP  Victims of terror around the globe.

The young children whose lives were snatched cruelly last eve in Nice didn’t even know what religion or believing meant! Their happy and innocent  childhood ended yesterday as it does everyday in all goddamm war torn lands around the globe. Where is Love,  is it not a word in religious text books?

Last year in an Indian village, an old Muslim man was lynched to death by an angry mob accusing him and his family of cow slaughter. Yesterday a suit was filed against the terrorized family by the accused murderous mob for the same act of cow slaughter. For the love of holy cow the poor man paid with his cruel death. Where is Mercy, is it not a word in religious text books?

The armed separatist movements around the world invariably exercise ethnic cleansing while demanding freedom! Free the mind first from prejudice and understand true meaning of freedom. Where is Compassion, is it not a word in religious text books?

It’s been said that world is getting smaller and more connected. Then stop with the silence already and start speaking for Humanity,  the real reason and rationale behind birth of all religions.

Once I visited a small town in SA called Hermanus. It’s a famous whale watching destination, many a time these marvelous mammals of deep see swim close to shores and people can view them while sipping their beers.

Now one would think it would be hard to miss seeing these big creatures swimming next to land but Hermanus authorities have made it sure that no one misses this spectacle and have employed a whale crier to this purpose.  A whale crier’s job is to blow a horn,  as a sign to all tourists on land that a whale is visible from ashore and they must leave everything and partake this sight.

Whale watching is an enjoyable and humbling experience. While I don’t mind the whale crier ever so often demanding attention, what I do mind and am terribly perturbed by are the self appointed God Criers.

These God criers now and again seek attention by blowing their guns, blowing people or themselves up. When will these gunmen understand that their calls are not drawing our attention to that elusive truth called God. God is not a whale. God is not what you perceive to show in your murderous depraved inhuman acts, you are not a God Crier.  Stop with the Sham.
Photo credit : Turkish Photographer Osman Sagarli.

The Quest

Seek no joy, Seek no pain
Never step up to a dance in rain.
Sands go slipping, river flow sifting
Chant through eternity embrace the nether space.

Circle of life, Passions to override
Never throw caution to wind and tide.
Skies come calling, sun sets nourishing
Silent path to  solitude blooms an inner spring.

Crystal emotions, Clear thoughts
Never a bowed fruit laden tree fought.
Hungry come cawing, thirsty crawling
Exhausted the exalted attains the end of quest.

Joburg Diary (Joburgnama) : Desi Girl

Landed in Joburg after having lived six years in non -Anglophone countries. Initially was a wee bit disappointed that I wasn’t being tested either on my knowledge of Shahrukh Khan filmography or on my  desperately acquired mime skills as I had been upon my previous landings in foreign lands. Then I felt my heart race in excitement with the coherent answers I was formulating, in a familiar tongue, to the routine queries of the immigration officer at O R Tambo International airport. He then proceeded to welcome me to South Africa, in English !

I had alway been eternally grateful to the Brits and my family, who had made  sure I was well versed in the language of the elite ,  English or Angrezi. To my utter chagrin despite being equipped with language of the Babus (Indian govt servants) ,  here I was, thrust into non -Commonwealth  countries where apparently sun had always set and English was hardly understood, Morocco and China. I felt bad but more so for the people of these nations. These people had no one but themselves to own up for any problems afflicting them in twenty-first century instead of resting the blame at the doorstep of British and their inglorious rule.

So when I stepped into the sunny Joburg milieu and realised that Queen had left but her language still thrived, my heart did a little dance. No not on a Beatles song but on the then current flavour , Latino singer’s Waka Waka.

I never knew the windfall that awaited long after the tutu clad Ms Shakira had left the Rainbow nation and its vuvuzela filled soccer stadium . Out of the multi colors that stood out , few were my own shade. The wily and clever shades that we Indians are, we still believe that although the sun may have set on the erstwhile British Empire it needn’t set on the Indian subcontinent.

In this southern hemisphere deep in downtown Joburg and also  in far-flung suburbs  there is an entire diaspora of Desis thriving and expanding the  * ‘apna  desh’. Selling *Dosas  to *Chaat to the ubiquitous *Chooran to digest it all and the unmentionable  pirated bollywood movies to add to the fun.  Somehow the street in this area too seem to echo the chaos and hustle bustle of India not to mention the street fashion back home. Here is where I forgot the alien belly wiggle  Waka Waka  and enjoyed the familiar belly delights to a *Balle Balle ! All the while I got to speak and hear my mother tongue Hindi and my husband Malayalam in the streets of Joburg.

Far from the privileged secure estate I reside in , these so-called Indian areas are designated as not so safe areas of Joburg. Yet I venture out there as  I am filled with a false sense of bravado, which  can only come when one is  amongst their own.

    • Desi – Hindi word to describe Indian Subcontinent diaspora or a cultural attribute.
    • Apna Desh – Our Country
    • Dosa – Rice pancakes , South Indian breakfast
    • Chaat – Spicy Street food capable of giving indescribable joy n hotness 😉
    • Chooran – digestive pills having their origin in ancient Indian medicines
    • Balle Balle – a phrase used in Punjabi songs to express joy.