Monday, 16 December 2013

Crossed her path today...

I am not saying that just because I live in Delhi, the brutality of the gang rape hit me harder than any other woman in this world. But you know something happened last night which sort of made me feel the brutality a little bit closer than it ever had. As someone who has moved a zillion times on Delhi Roads, when I read the name of the Bus Stop from where she boarded the bus to the route it took while the horror was being committed, I sort of connect instantly. I have never personally stood at that particular place and I am sure whoever is there everyday, even now, must be remembering her each time.
But last night, just as my phone showed the time as 00:00 and thus the date changed, through a strange coincidence, I was getting down the flyover which ends at the place this girl was thrown by the monsters, along with her friend. I was in my car, secure with my husband. There was a lot of traffic (it is a busy road even at midnight), my children were sleeping at home safely, my parents had just messaged me goodnight, my brother and his wife, who I had spent the evening with, were constantly in touch with me on my phone if we have reached or crossed the toll etc.. But just as we got down the decline, I was fully aware that this was the exact spot where she was abandoned to die, exactly an year back. I did become part of the National outrage post this crime and expressed solidarity and anger and irritation and helplessness. But somewhere, like everyone else, I had moved on. I celebrated my children's birthdays, I took three holidays, I danced crazy at parties, I laughed my eyes out with friends, I married off my brother and did many other things which a normal person had done, is doing and will do.
Why then when I turned my gaze to the left to once see that place, something stopped inside my heart. Did I feel shallow? Scared? Hurt? Shameful? Guilty? I have no idea. All I felt was a numbness. I immediately turned to look at my husband who is the guy I share my life with. There was nothing unusual on his face. He looked at peace as we would soon reach home. I took solace in his calmness and decided to not share the sudden hollowness with him. The moment passed and I was soon worried about usual things like why is he driving so fast and how will I wake up early tomorrow morning. Did my connection with that horror emerge just because I was at that exact place where that girl was?
Yes. It was a way to let the woman in me know that this city could let me down at any point of time leaving my kids, husband, brother and parents totally helpless. It was a way to remind the mother in me that I am raising two sons who I have to teach to respect the gender their mother belonged to. It was a way to rekindle the human in me to stop for a minute and experience the enormity of this date.
Spare a minute to shut your eyes and say a small prayer for that family who have lost one of them because a bunch of fellas decided to do so!

Monday, 18 November 2013

After effects of Shaadi

The dust has settled. The guests are gone. The Thank You calls have been made. The maids have been satisfied with enough 'Bhai ki shaadi ki mithais'. Now is the time to reflect upon the last few months that went in making an Indian Wedding a perfect one!

I am not implying that we had a 'perfect' wedding, but the whole point is that no matter what you do- A wedding can NEVER be perfect. And that truly IS the real beauty of it. I was not supposed to write this post but you don't know how much pressure I have upon me to write it. The regular consumers of my blog who met me at my brother's wedding (held on 10th November-This year) told me they await a sequel post on an earlier one where I had merely forecasted the likely repercussions of organizing a wedding. So here they are- the truths behind everything we anticipated, everything we were prepared for, everything we weren't prepared for and everything that ought to happen as weddings do not happen between two individuals- they happen at various social levels!

1) Sending invites is the most thankless and risky part of the entire game. First you need to collectively decide WHO all are important and then you need to collectively convince each other why the one who are UNIMPORTANT are actually so. This is the time you come up with logics like- "Oh he didn't invite me in his cousin aunt's grandson's mundan, so its okay to drop them from the list!". 

2) Continuing with the invites, all those who make to your-To be Invited- list then start acting pricey and possessive with their postal addresses. You ping them, remind them, urge them, request them- they will not send you the addresses till it is too late for the courier companies to reach their doorsteps. Oh and if you have asked them to give you addresses of their extended families- be prepared to beg forever!

3) There are always at least three things that we 'leave' to be done closer to the date and when we get closer to the date- those three things are not done as we do not have enough time to do them.

4) The vendors providing you services like band, baaja and bistars are the lot that have some typical traits: 

Six months for the wedding- "Sab ho jaayega Sir"
Four months for the wedding- "Badi jaldi macha rahein hai aap"
Two months for the wedding- "Phir aa gaye aap?"
Two weeks to the wedding- "Aap Kaun?"

5) Wedding jitters aren't natural, they are man made. If you attend a party month before a wedding in your house and you are having a good time, the society conspires to invoke jitters in you. They corner you and ask- "How come you look so relaxed? Preparations are done?". That is when you start feeling guilty if you are truly a fool to be enjoying life so close to the big day!

6) Emotions again are man made. Of course they are natural first but see how they are man made: Every time I went out shopping for myself and the shopkeeper came to know that I am the groom's sister he would say- "Dulhe ki behan hain aap? What will people say if you wear such a light color? You must look like the Dulhe ki behan!". Now you come back home and emotions consume you. You pick up your phone and type a Whatsapp message to the Dulha saying- "I am so happy you are getting married"

7) At all the functions you have a smile that sits on your lips. That smile is meaningless. It is so cosmetic that even biggest cosmetic companies cannot package it ably. Along with that smile another thing that doesn't leave your lips is the word- Thank You. Either people are congratulating you or complimenting you. I am so embarrassed to share that a couple of times when I met people at the functions I started greeting them with- "thank you....." realizing that they had neither congratulated nor complimented. But being a creative person I quickly added- "....for coming"

8) There is not just labor that is going in to make a perfect wedding, I realized that there is also blood! The real after effects are more physical. A limping husband, a bruised son, a cold infected self are just some of the things I can mention.

9) They say that you come to know who really care for you at the low points of your life. I say if you want to know who all are the people who truly stand by you- host a wedding. I am so glad that today I know exactly who are the people I will never leave in their good or bad times. So what if we realized that such people are actually countable on fingers- at least we know WHO they are :)

10) I know that managing relatives as guests is a huge task and as part of that hugeness- I am not touching that touchy topic :)

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Are you serious about making a change? Someone I know is :)

My father's elder brother- Shri M K Tyagi- that is my Tauji has joined a political movement.He is one of the likely candidates from a Delhi constituency. When the political party he is attached with announced on Social media that people can get back to them if there is any flaw in his candidature, I got thinking. As his family member I have seen closely, everything that Tauji has stood for, all his life. But it is fair that most of you do not know him so you will not understand why we want him to get chosen and run for a victory this December.

I have been thinking ever since. Hence I came up with an idea so you know what kind of inspirations I have around me. I asked him a few quick questions so you know him a little better! As his niece all I can say is that his principles have guided each one of us to stay together and united. 

Read my short interview with him (I had asked him to keep his answers crisp- very youth ishtyle):

Me: We all want to contribute to a better India. How do you think we youngsters can do it?

M. K Tyagi: By following the law of land

Me: All politicians are same! Corrupt and mean. Why should we vote?

 M. K Tyagi: Voting is necessary to exercise option of NONE OF THE ABOVE if not any thing else 

Me: If there is a choice of getting our work done quickly by greasing some officials palms, why shouldnt we do so?

M. K Tyagi: As you too are then committing an offence. Also by greasing we are making public servant corrupt- Arent you then part of the problem?

Me: What role has your IIT education played in your values?

M. K Tyagi: Competing and excelling at the National level gave me a lot of confidence

Me: If you meet Manmohan Singh for two hours, what will you ask him?

M. K Tyagi: In line with my email dated 19-07-2010 to the Prime Minister I asked him: Why did he not act against corruption to prove Winston Churchill wrong when on the eve of India's independence, Mr Churchill said: 

..........Power will go to the hands of rascals, rogues and freebooters. All Indian leaders will be of low caliber and men of straw. They will have sweet tongues and silly hearts. They will fight among themselves for power and India will be lost in political squabbles........

Me: Some quick facts about you:

One thing about yourself you would like to change?

M. K Tyagi: My Physique

One trait of your  personality you are proud of?

M. K Tyagi: My Integrity

You relax by.......

M. K Tyagi: I meditate. Listening to Arnab Goswami also relaxes me!

For you your family is. ....

M. K Tyagi: My Strength

You will never. ......

M. K Tyagi: Violate teachings of the Bhagwad Gita

I feel empowered that there is someone I know who can actually bring a change. It is not about promoting my family, it is about believing that mere rhetoric is not enough. Lets stand together- vote for the right people- believe in the system rather than just criticizing it- Lets just make this happen guys!

Monday, 30 September 2013

Retired from work...not from life :)

Thirty Eight years is a long long time! These are the number of years that my Mother In Law has given to her organisation. Today, 30th of September, she is retiring from work. It is SUCH a big deal. Not just for her but for me- her daughter in law. Let me explain why :)

For the five years of my decision to stay at home to raise my children, I have been privy to a lot of reactions from people when I tell them that, "No, I am NOT working but my Mom in  Law is." It is a rarity as usually (at least with most of the women around me of my generation) it is the other way round. So far I have just smiled and told them- "Yes. That is the way it is in our house."

But from tomorrow morning, things will be different. Because while I am still at home-raising children- Ma will also be around full time. I know for sure that she will take some time to adjust to the newness of sitting at home after so many years, but am I used to her presence? NO. I am so NOT. From tomorrow, I will have her around me-
not bossing around as that is not her nature- but she will be there spending time with me, depending on me, eating lunch with me, going to the market with me, receiving land line calls, answering the door bell, signing on couriers, haggling with the maids, tending to V and N's homework, deciding what should we make for dinner, planning weekend etc etc etc. 

All these things so far were things I would do carelessly and lazily. Now for the first time I will get a taste of being a Bahu who has a Saas right next to her. But you know what makes it easy? Its her :)

Now that she has promised me that she will regularly read my blogs and my stories and also be active on Facebook (I am making her account today itself), I can address her here,


Welcome Home. We salute you as you successfully end such an important phase of your life and we assure you that this new journey of yours too will be laden with happiness and joy.

Thank you for being a Mom in law who is less strict than my own Mom!!

With you,

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Honeymoon on Facebook, never ends!

Saurabh and I have very busy mornings. With two school going boys, they are bound to be.

We put two alarms- wake up almost together- I head to the kitchen preparing their lunch boxes and water bottles- Saurabh roams around the house getting other things in order- we wake them up- spend ten minutes cuddling them- its time for their shower which is my duty- Saurabh then dresses them up- I recheck their bags and diaries to ensure they are equipped for the day- Saurabh drops them off to the Bus stop. 

These last crucial fifteen minutes when Saurabh is out, I spend checking the Facebook News Feed. And everyday I regret it. This is clearly something I shouldn't do. I should rather make a cup of tea and read the newspaper. But I wait for Saurabh to get back. Just so that while he eats his breakfast and reads the main paper, I sit next to him with my chai and Delhi Times. But on more than one occasions per week this chaitime is interrupted with my impressions from the Facebook peep I just indulged in. So we have a typical conversation where my disinterested and practical husband is seriously 'trying to read' and I am taking out my frustrations:

Me: This ABCD is always checking into airports. How much does he travel!
Him: Hmmmm

Me: (Knowing well that Saurabh isn't probably listening) And this XYZ got married six months back! But their Honeymoon has not ended it seems. Did you see the pictures they put from a holiday?
Him: No. Okay.

Me: (Still adamant to have his reaction even though we have had this discussion a million times) Guess what? That PQRS has yet again posted pictures of the food they had last night! How many times in a week can anyone eat at a restaurant?
Him: Hmmm. 

Me: (Obviously irritated) Why didn't you become a software engineer? Why couldn't you settle abroad? We would have also posted such exotic pictures then.
Him: (Reading and reading more)

Me: Say something!!
Him: I had already finished my education when you decided to marry me. Why are you asking such a silly question?

Me: Hmmm. 
Him: And baby, if you will go by people's Facebook lives their honeymoon will never end! 

Me: (Glad that we are having some 'meaningful' dialogue now) So does the reverse logic work too? We travel more than them but I have not posted pictures of my last four holidays! So are they sitting in their homes and wondering that my life isn't as exciting as theirs?
Him: I don't care what they are thinking. And I don't care how happy they are looking on Facebook. You read the paper. Log off the Facebook.

Me: How the hell are you so practical and I am not?
Him: (Looks up at me for the first time with a smile) Because I know this ABCD or XYZ or PQRS will never post pictures when he/she is cleaning utensils in their apartment. And I am not posting anything happy or sad about myself. Think about it. (Gets up and leaves for work)

Me: (Typed this Whatsapp message to him but deleted as I know his love isn't dependent on it) You are the ONLY reason I remain sane!

Image courtesy: Google Images

Friday, 23 August 2013

India and I- do we have the same neighbors?

Last few days have been busier than I had asked for! The 'Love Across Borders' anthology consumed most of my time and energy. With the amount of buzz that has been created around this book you are aware that it was a simple attempt of some authors from both sides of the border to tell tales of how common people from India and Pakistan- the two most controversial neighbors in the world map- could strike friendships and send messages of peace. Now while this book was well received and our efforts greatly appreciated, something was happening nearer home which had striking resemblance to the problem at the real border.

Last to last weekend when Saurabh and I returned from our usual Sunday welagiri we were greeted with a peculiar problem. The place where we park our car was laden with tree branches and leaves. Obviously there was no place to park and hence Saurabh started to find the culprit who had dared to fall a huge tree right outside our house. After some inquiry, we realized that our very next door neighbor was responsible (incidentally he was parked in his balcony observing Saurabh move here and there asking people who had fallen the tree). So anyways, he requested this neighbor to 'kindly' clear the mess from front of our house so we could at least park our car. Now those who do not understand the gravity of this situation must know that to have a proper space for your car around your house in Delhi is not a need. Its a luxury! Cutting the long story short, this usually docile neighbor hurt his ego big time when my usually quiet and non interfering husband asked him curtly to 'clear' the parking space as those sharp branches and wires (yes he even cut some cables in the process) could result in a Tyre puncture. He did come down and manually tried to pile up the scattered mess but while doing so he passed a comment which is still ringing in my ears. He advised Saurabh to be SOCIAL.

Both me and my husband have studied in English medium schools and thus we could not understand how Saurabh could be UNSOCIAL just because a) he did not want a tree to be cut b) he did not want a punctured car the next morning c) he had asked the same guy who had created the mess to clear it.

However we did not dig further into an argument as our relationship with this particular household date back to more than 25 years! But since then something has changed. And it has changed gravely. The neighbor in question's Mom was quite pally with our Mom but she doesn't look her way now. The neighbor in question's wife was okay pally with me (I strike conversations with neighbors very sparingly and my MIL tells me how some of them think I am very shy!) but at least twice since then she has ignored my smiles quite unabashedly. I am not saying we really miss them but the whole point of raising this situation in my blog here is the uncanny similarity between the scenario in my personal neighborhood and my country's.

Imagine this: Saurabh and that guy are the two governments.The elders in both houses are like our armed forces. Me and his wife are representatives of the state and our kids are the common janta or awaam. Other neighbors are different countries.

The governments think that they were put in a nasty situation and it was necessary to raise relevant concerns when normal protocols of living together in harmony were harmed- being rude and polite is a subjective term.

The armed forces are only concerned that their own Government's stand is protected; they do not care if the friendship of 25 years is ruined because all they will do is guard their own territory with might or mind.

The representatives are crushed in the situation as even if they want to, they cannot disappoint the Government or Forces' stand.

The other countries take advantage of this hostility and as a result that huge mess of a fallen tree is now a safe dumping ground for everyone's garbage (Its been more than two weeks and that pile is as it is- right in front of our eyes, in between our two cars).

But what about the common man! He is the observer- assimilating the whole situation from the outside, not getting directly affected except of course when he is targeted. Well for them, all four parties should make sincere efforts so they understand the situation in the right perspective and not be misled by colored opinions.

This is what we have done in our rule- We told them the situation as is and asked them to tell us who they think is wrong. They answered that they have always been taught to not just keep their house clean but also ensure that they do not dirty someone else's. 

I guess this exactly reflects the sentiments of how a common man feels these larger issues can be resolved.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Counting my blessings


That is the number of people who recommended my entry to the IndiBlogger awards. But I have actually already won. Sounds Oh-So-Filmy? But true that is. For someone who writes about absolute no issues, such unprecedented love is an award in itself. 

You know why I asked you to vote or comment? As over the last one year whenever I have met some of you, you have always first spoken about my last blog post. Its almost a ritual that these people will meet me, say Hello and then say- "Oh what you wrote on that post actually........". 

So I thought why not see how many feel what all. Its not easy after all to call each and every one and ask- "Exactly why do read my blog?"

Lets come to the point now. The purpose of this post is to fulfill my promise of mentioning each one of those who left a comment about the blog in a post. But I still thank the 76 who took the pains of clicking the 'like' button. Unfortunately I don't know who are those 76 so I cannot acknowledge you by name. 

Did I just write Unfortunately? Well, it may be fortunate as I am going to write 'absolutely true from the heart lines' about the commenters (this isn't even a word) and I warn you this can get hopelessly emotional. But this is my ONLY chance :)

This is not in any particular order. I am enlisting people as and how I know what to write about them. In brackets is what they wrote :):

Anindita Rathore: She is my Ambi. A super fantastic artist herself. A super strong girl. And one of those parts of my growing up years who I treasure very close to my heart. Girl, I am always around and you know that :)

(There's no one like her to tell a story - I look forward to reading her blogs... making us smile and laugh and pensive and thoughtful and vibrant and alive!) 

Brijendra Mathur: Babloo Mama :). I have three real Mamas (maternal uncles) of my own. But I can never forget that when I got married and there was a ritual where the Mamaji of the bride has to make her sit in her husband's car when she leaves her home, it was Babloo Mama who did that for me. Your encouragement, support and love for me is something I remember since I was about seven years old? Please stay the way you are!

(sincerity in writing....efficiently nostalgic....definitely straight from the heart.)

Sairam Ranganathan: He has been the room partner of my husband in college and we call each other Half Roomies :). Sai, you must always know that you are one of the very few people who Saurabh and I will inform about anything good or bad that happens with us. And this says a lot as we actually have very FEW like you!

(Look forward to reading it.. Great Stress buster and makes me feel ohh this happens with me/I have seen this..)

Saurabh Tyagi: One cousin who I have such a huge bank of memories from childhood with that only we know how much fun we have just revisiting them! He is one person who if I talk to even after 2 months, it feels like we have been in touch forever. And I love the fact that he loves his name sake (my husband) as much as he loves me. Bhai, you know that we rock! Just keep the love intact. Oh and thanks for giving me such a sweetheart in Surbhi :)

what are you made of? where do you get these ideas from? Brilliant!

Abhiney Singh: Abhiney somehow is that one person for me who I feel- agar yeh hai to sab theek hoga :). I can both laugh and cry with equal ease with him. Thakur, you aren't just my husband's best friend. You are the only one person who anchors our stupidities and insecurities while being tremendously calm. :)

(just the way we Indians love it - Action, Emotion and Drama. Loved Parul's writing, I wish her all the best with her writing)

Madhur Chhabra: I am so proud of him! He has set up such an amazing place in the name of Misty Mountains! Its sad that my kids' motion sickness is keeping us away from him but hey we are planning something soon!! Madhur, every time I cried on campus, you would just pass by and say- "You look awful when you are sad". I still keep your words in mind whenever I am sad:)

(always finding a way to smile and giving of us many reasons to be blessed with her exuberance. Her blogs always bring a smile to me. for being who you are....cheers! :) )

Priya Mathur: One of the early encouragers who almost pushed me physically into starting a blog. I love the way she keeps me grounded by just texting that I should "Keep going on" every time I achieve a milestone in my writing journey. Priya, keep reading and texting :)

(Ur blogs... for me, they are often like a mirror to a lot of women, specially those who are also moms ;)  )

Dhruv Sahai: My faithful reader who likes each and every word I post on Facebook. Solid encouragement as we have met only a couple of times. We are soon competing against some mad people in a Hamburger eating contest!!! Thanks for bringing out this madness in me :).  Oh and do I need to book tickets to Bhopal in December? Am I even invited??

(your blogs have been amazing to read and show us a better way of dealing with our lives in a lighter and more positive way. Reading your blogs off late have been my favorite way of procrastinating at work. Cheers!)

Hitesha: An author herself. A fighter and a lovely, warm person. You are married to one of the most craziest friends I had during my hostel days and I love the way you guys are together. Keep writing girl. You deserve a lot of happiness!

(For moments you connected with, laugh about and tear up over...)

Vandana Singh: She is the epitome of resilience, patience, maturity and kindheartedness for me. Whenever in doubt, just pick up the phone and call her and she will advise you most objectively. Aunty, just stay around always. There is nothing I can do for you but there is so much I cant do without you :)

(Such a delight to read always! Take us away to a world so known yet unknown!)

Kriti Thapar: A small bundle of joy. The little girl in the gang :). Such an infectious smile. Such warmth when you are around. Just keep rocking.....

(Touches all the right nerves. Always. :)  )

Bhavani Ramesh: A fellow blogger and a batch mate from MBA. We are similar as we have both opted out of a mundane 9-5 rut. But we are different as she is actually fulfilling my dream of travelling to unexplored places! Thanks Bhavani for that message in my inbox. Even if I do not pursue it, it cemented our association. 

(an honest blog, all you get is the real story and that's what brilliant... 

keep going parul, and hope all your inspirations keep you writing for many many many years...)

Rahul Tyagi: Whatever will be said will be less so why say what just cannot be put in enough words :). Rash, you are someone I will blow a flying kiss to when the world is watching me one day. Even if that day never comes, you know that God put us together for a reason- we are incomplete without the other!

(Brilliant. Inspiring. Amazing. Beautiful. Stress buster. Motivating. Astound. Dumbfound. Flabbergast. Resplendent. Scintillating. Satisfactory. Splendid. Out of adjectives to describe. Not everyone is blessed with the art of expression as you are. I rest my case. All the best.)

Saurabh Bhatnagar: I am obsessed with you! Need I say more? I do? Come home :)


Wednesday, 10 July 2013

The Grandfather V and N do not have

10th July.
This day is the birthday of my father in law. 
I have never met him.
He expired three years before I got married and came to live in his house.

Whatever connection I have with my husband's father is through everything that I have asked him or his mother. Please note, that its only what I have asked. As Saurabh and Ma, usually never bring him up. I understand it. But I am curious to know how he was. How he spoke, how he reacted, how he ate, how he prayed.......So I have a connection. I miss the presence of a father in my house. I will never know how it is to have a father in law! Yes, I do miss him.

When V and N happened to me, I knew what they were going to miss in the absence of a Dadaji especially when they see friends or cousins or neighbors with one. I knew it will be just them who will not enjoy this relationship. I did not grow up with either of my grandfathers, but Saurabh did. So I have heard fond stories of  them pampering the kids bad and how my parents in law were kept away from all the mischief. When I brought Viraj into his house for the first time, I took him in front of Papa's picture and cried for 5 minutes. I cried because I know he was very fond of kids. All of Saurabh's cousins tell me tales of Papa spoiling them or going out of the way for their well being. Just the thought that his real grandsons will miss all this, pained. 

Hence Saurabh and I consciously took the onus upon us to keep some sort of a connection alive between our sons and the Grandfather they do not have. 

  • I have made him a star. However cliched it may read, but it has worked in our case. Often when I am waiting on our terrace for Saurabh to come back home, me and the kids have spoken to the star that looks the brightest. Kids love the fact that Dadaji is also waiting for Papa to be home.
  • Every festival, birthday or a happy occasion isn't complete without V and N acknowledging their Dadaji's picture. They are encouraged to share every news (good or bad) with him and they are assured that he has heard them.
  • We visit a blind school where Papa contributed every month on his Birth and Death anniversary. V and N believe that whatever food or goodies they distribute there goes into Dadaji's tummy.
  • We tell them how he would have loved to take them for rides on his scooter. Or how he would have scolded their Papa if he ever saw him scolding them. We tell them that he would have fetched them from their Bus stop or accompanied them for their cycle learning days. Its our effort to let them know that wherever he maybe, he must be missing all this too. But God needed him more than us as he was just so good that even God couldn't do without him :)
  • They do have paternal grandfathers, from both Ma and Papa's family.  Luckily since Saurabh is the oldest in his family, all these Dadajis have spent exclusive times with my sons without any distractions of having other children around them. This meant a lot for me in the initial years as at least this word held meaning when they touched their feet or went around the house holding their finger.

I am aware that I can never fill the gap that God created in our lives. But this morning when Viraj wished his Dadaji a Happy Birthday- he turned to me and said- "I am going to tell all my friends that even my Dadaji has a birthday"- I felt happy that we have been able to keep him relevant in his grandsons' hearts.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Did Lootera loot my ears?

This blog is NOT about movie reviews. Hence please do not expect to read what to look out for in this film or how the songs influence the progress of it. This account is actually the wholesome experience I had while watching it. Its worth a share as I do not think Ill ever experience something like this again. After all some crucial lessons have been learnt.

Dont really know where to begin so I will start by telling you that two hours into the movie (it being two and a half hours long), I had a 'laugh fit'. Heard or experienced this ever? Basically its a condition where some trigger induces uncontrollable laughter and within minutes you so lose control over yourself that even when the trigger is long gone, you cant help but keep laughing! So I experienced this condition yesterday and I must warn you that it got so worse that I was hoping the movie doesn't end suddenly as the lights in the theater would embarrass me further. You can imagine how bad it was when I tell you that  the dupatta I was wearing (Yes! I was wearing one) was drenched with tears that were rolling out due to my incessant laugh!! So what the hell was so funny? The movie was certainly not. You must have all heard how 'intense' and 'picturesque' the movie is. No one must have told you yet that its funny! So why the hell was I laughing?

Well...largely because I am a little silly when it comes to digesting stupid things thrown at me. I am stubborn about NOT accepting them so I am known to give tough reactions to stupidity. Be it in a person or any damn thing that confronts me. So let me take you back to how it all began in the hall.

Most of you reading this watch your movies in multiplexes these days. Even I do. How many single screen halls remain in Delhi anyway? I have fond memories of watching our films in Paras or Sapna or Chanakya or Priya. But these days its a simple click and pay and park and watch era. However, Saurabh and I do watch some movies in this one single screen theater near our house that is still surviving the multi screen tsunami. The movies we like to watch here are usually the ones which have high mass appeal or the ones we hear are going housefuls. We actually still love the Balcony watching experience and we love to watch those rare flicks where the hall is FULL house. For instance we insisted in watching Dabangg in it as we knew the real fun of that flick will be with some hooting coming from the front stalls.

So there we were on a Sunday afternoon with Saurabh's Mom (who is a compulsive movie buff like us) at Vishal Cinemas.

To our delight, the hall was almost full. The seats were rickety, the crowd was mixed. So while we had people like us, we also had people who bring huge families to watch movies along with half their household articles as if they will never go back home. We settle in to our seats and as the screen is showing some Bomb disposal warnings and hysterically funny documentaries on 'Mere pati sharaab kab chorenge", we realise that people on the right of Saurabh and people just behind our backs will be the nuisance factors throughout the 3 hours. These are the down sides of such a Hall but usually this subsides as a 'good' movie picks up pace.

Yeah so now the movie begins. Some exotic locales emerge, a visibly healthy Sonakshi appears and some heart warming Father-daughter moments are served. I am the most emotionally charged fool among Saurabh and his Mom so I up my expectations that some heart wrenching cinema will touch me today. Then enters Ranveer Singh. Now before I share further, I must tell you that I absolutely adore Ranveer. I loved his energy in his first release and I have been following all his reality show appearances as I find him charming. So he appears on screen and apparently starts delivering dialogues. Now when you are watching a Movie in theater, do you bend forward to try and hear whats going on? Of course not! The Dolby surround ensures everyone hears the same sound. But I seemed to be getting lost in what Ranveer was saying! After about half an hour of his appearance I turned to my Mom in law to ask her what Ranveer just said. She looked at me in that darkness and said- "I couldnt hear!". We sat for another 10 minutes thinking maybe only we are stupid. But we soon  realized that everyone else he was talking to, we were able to hear! we just couldn't hear what the hell he was saying. I usually NEVER disturb Saurabh in movies so I kept sitting quietly sharing empty glances with Mamma as she looked equally lost. The movie moved slower than the tortoise in that old story but we kept sitting as most of it was shot outdoors. Every time Ranveer would appear, I would start rubbing my ears to at least catch one word of what he spoke. But hard luck. And in at least two such scenes the mobile phone of the guy sitting behind us rang and probably he was as bored as us, why else would he talk in normal pitch about his inability to pay the rent of his apartment this month as some "achanak kharcha" came and he had to also do some "dawa daaru" of his mother. When Interval happened I gave up on my attempts to hear the dialogues. Anyways by that time I had lost out on many a useful conversations between the lead pair. Little did we knew that the worse was about to come. All the scenes there after were shot in the dark. My already hassled Mom in law turned to me and said:

"What are they trying to show? That there was no electricity in the 50s?".

I soothed her discomfort by telling her: " This is aesthetic cinema. This is shot like this to add to the whole dramatic appeal."

 Poor thing sat back quiet. Just then a scene came where Divya Dutta, Ranveer and Sonakshi are in a room. A front stall guy started shouting loudly:

"Arre light to jala lo. Baatein baad main kar lena Ranveer Bhai. Light to jala lo"

My Mom in law who felt vindicated turned to me and said: "See even others are complaining. I wasn't wrong!"

So henceforth the struggle was not just in hearing. The challenge now was to even see with concentration!  We kept sitting as its rare that we walk out of movies. Usually we choose our movies with a gut feel and were sitting in this one as some friends had strongly recommended it the previous night. These days I always watch KRK's movie reviews on YouTube and I had warned Saurabh that its a "Maha" bore film. Anyways the movie kept changing scenes. All the Ranveer scenes were like blank spots for me as I wasn't making any efforts to see or hear him. Just then the "laugh trigger" happened. Some confrontation seemed to be ensuing between him and Sonakshi and he shouts- shouts for his standards. Because I usually talk in that pitch-

"SUNO. Meri baat SUNO".

As I heard the word SUNO I forgot the difference between the education levels of the front rowers in that hall and we the Balcony goers. I spoke up loudly, finally :

"Abey Sune kaise? Sunaai hi to nahi de raha!!!" (How do I listen? I just cannot hear anything)

Rest is history. I dont remember a scene after this. I started laughing due to the sheer audacity of Ranveer Singh to insist "SUNO". It was so ironical. As if he was talking to me! I had struggled for over two hours to SUNO him and here he was saying once again- SUNO!!

The movie ended. The ordeal ended. My MOM in law removed her glasses and wiped dirt from them. They had been put to some serious use today. However she missed hearing aids more!

Lessons learnt:

1) Believe KRK's reviews.
2) Make this post reach Ranveer somehow so he can be told that he honestly has a problem in being audible.
3) Our gut feel is right. Trust it!
4) Do not give up on single screen halls. They are the places a movie is judged by its true audience.
5) Being intense isnt the excuse for making boring cinema.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Kiddie Birthday Parties Tamasha

If you have babies you know what I am talking about. If you are yet to have babies- this is what is in store. If you will never have babies- what do you miss anyway?

So what is a kiddie birthday party?

It is a place where there are many many replicas of your own children accompanied by parents (who are just like you), celebrating the birthday of their counterpart and imagining themselves in the shoes of the 'star of the evening'.

Two kids have ensured my frequent attendance to these parties and you cannot stop the observer in me from noticing things that are so strikingly common to all of them!

Disclaimer: If I smell of being bored by the sheer monotony- you have the correct smell!! 

1. There is always a Tattoo guy at such events. Even though the popular tattoos are Doreamon and Spiderman's face among the children, he will always first make the ugly dragon. Your kids will come running to you and complain- "Uncle made Dragon- AGAIN". And then you end up filling them up with confidence to go back to the 'Uncle' with their second hand and insist that he makes what they want! 

Trivia: Whenever you will look at this Tattoo Uncle, he will be eating!

2. Magician and his antics are almost embarassing. Every single party will have a unique magician who will tell your kids that the REAL magic mantra is the one he is telling. So my kids alternate these mantras at home by saying- Abra ca dabra or giilly gilly hocus pocus or Choo Choo Mantar jajantar.

Trivia: The magician is usually doing his show for the elders of the party. The kids are running around him, not chanting the mantras on time and there will always be at least 2 adults adhering to chanting them!

3. Next time you are at such a party, don't stand in the background when the cake is being cut. Try and remain closer to the action. You will always over hear one mother telling another- "Oh we had the same cake for ABC's party this year". So what is what I want to tell them!

Trivia: The candles which burn like Diwali crackers require immense patience. The birthday kid is scared of them while other guests stand patiently for it to douse before the real proceedings can begin.

4. The most common games played at EVERY party are Musical Chairs and Passing the parcel. Even the kids are bored of them! But its funny to see how some kids play them as if its a matter of life and death. The parents almost make the game seem like an Olympic race scolding the child if he fails to find a seat when the music stopped. 

Trivia: You can gauge how much these games have been practiced from the very fact that kids as old as four years have developed cheat codes to win them. Some are compulsive cheaters who join in the fun even after they have been declared out!

5. Balloon factories should be banned from existence. My childhood memories of going gaga over a balloon start and end at the India Gate visits. Wasn't it more fun to play with one in such an open area? At these parties where we are all struggling for spaces to even stand, almost each and every kid is falling and running and fighting and bursting and sliding with a balloon.

Trivia: If the balloon has made its way into your car too, it will burst loudly and at least for once scare the shit out of whoever is at the wheel!

6. Obviously when there are kids, and small ones at that, they HAVE to be accompanied by parents. Now if the parents are known to the host parents like they are close friends or family or colleagues, then they will sail through the two hour ordeal but when they are unknown like those of school friends or bus friends- hats off to them for enduring these get-togethers.

Trivia: Spot such fathers punching- God knows what- into their smart phones and mothers sitting cross legged on corner chairs with a practiced smile on their tired faces with a pile of prizes their children win in various games or the masks and whistles that they collect party after party.

7. Its impossible to not let your child know what you are gifting their friend. They obviously know and the first thing they say when they hand over the gift to its owner is the utility of it! So if its a game they will tell the Birthday boy or girl- " Ma got you a board game. We will play it together!" OR "Its a dress. Blue color!"

Trivia: Needless to say this but if you are recycling the gifts, you better NEVER let your child know about it. Or he will go and announce at the party- "This is a gift I got on my birthday. I wasn't using it so Ma got this for you!"

8. The kids of course go to these parties for the cake and the balloons but there is one more thing which they cannot ever miss out on. Its the Return Gift! When you announce that its time to leave, the kids will point out the table where they have eyed the wrapped gifts (its easy to identify them as they are usually wrapped in the same paper). there is no way that you can slip out of these parties without meeting your hosts (like sometimes you do at weddings) as you are aware that if you reach home without the return gift, your child will bring you back to the party venue to collect his/her right! 

Trivia: "Ma whats inside this? can we please open it Ma? Please Ma. Okay just a small glimpse? Ma I know what is inside, do you want to confirm it? You never let me open it Ma! You are the worst Mamma in the world!" - Your little one will keep saying this on your way back till you relent and say : "Open it and keep quiet!!"

Friday, 14 June 2013

The questions I have been this Summer of Love

As my debut Novella officially launched and I started getting reviews for it, everyone surely asked me one strange thing:

"Is this a real love story of or....someone we know....hmmm...ummmmm"

I have now practiced an answer for this oft asked question but it makes me wonder, where this question is stemming from? So I shall answer this here too, in case you are too shy to ask me directly! But later....

Another startling observation people are inquisitive about is:

"How did you find the time to write all this?"

Now my turn to go Hmmmm? Its easier to answer this one though. I love doing this so there was no question of 'finding' time for it. Its as important for me as managing my sons, my home, Saurabh so why keep one on back burner for the other?

The question that most offends me is when they want to know if this is just a TIMEPASS or I seriously wish to take this ahead?

Well, I guess there is no point and matter in answering this one. Unless I come up with my second one, who am I to get offended about this doubt? So Ill let my next book answer this on its own. And yes if you want to know- Work has begun on it and its not a love story :)

Coming back to the first question now, this is NOT a real story. It is pure fiction. But whats real about it is this:

I as a person truly believe that you will, some day, end up where you truly belong. Its not about us finding
or wondering or fretting if this or that is right or wrong for us. If its the love that you belong to, it will find you on its own.

 If Nitya had not believed it, she wouldnt have left that trail. 

If Prabhat had not believed it, he wouldnt have set out on this journey.

If Meeta had not believed it, she wouldnt have motivated her man to do so.

If you do not believe in it yet.....why dont you pick it up and read :)

Friday, 17 May 2013

We are together in our "Wait for Papa"

In today's time, this subject will read so outdated. I am aware that these days all the kids who wait for Daddys to come home, are also used to waiting for Mommys to come home. Well, most of them at least. However, due to some bizarre and unusual twists of planetary placements a.k.a positions, my kids have been bereft of the experience of 'waiting' for their Mom. So they are still in that era where, like me and my younger brother joined our Mom, they join me in waiting for their Dad to get to them after a hard day at work.

Life does come a full circle, as this particular activity of the day has distinct memories for me- varying in nature at every stage of our growing up. My Dad always came home at 8:30pm. On Tuesdays he came at 9 pm, as he halted at a temple for that half an hour. When we were very young, and there were no phones, Mom would inherit a different pace in whatever she was doing just when it was 8:30! A glass of water was ready and she tried to wrap up her regular work. We lived in a joint family and unless he was terribly off the mark in arriving home, we as kids would mingle around with family not noticing if Mamma was worried or okay. Sometimes she used to take us to the terrace which over-looked Delhi's Ring Road and we would try and spot a Chocolate colored Maruti 800 (as there would be few on roads then, amongst Ambassadors and Fiats). For me particularly, my Dad's arrival was THE best moment of that day as he would want to see ONLY me when he entered. As we grew up, and moved out of the joint family set up, as soon as the clock neared 8:30, we would be at our best behavior. We took out our books at 8 o clock and disappeared in our rooms so Mom was less equipped to list her complaints regarding us to him. Nothing changed for Dad though as I clearly remember his voice when he entered home and asked Ma, "Parul Kahan hai?".

Cut to today now.These days we have phones. Times are way different from the times of my parents. There is no fixed time which we can freeze for my husband's appearance everyday. Saurabh sends me a whatsapp message when he leaves from work. As soon as he does that, I check google maps to see how congested his route is. I mentally calculate estimated time of his arrival and fill up that time gap with odd jobs.Then if he is stuck in bad traffic, he calls me and we finish our 'daily updates' conversation to save on time as he is bound to get late. He usually takes an hour and half to get home and even if he is late by five minutes, I have an option of calling him and finding out the reason of every minute's delay.

All this while, I have the same feelings that maybe my Mom had in her. I wish he finds less traffic. I wish he reaches back safely. I ensure he sees a smiling me so he can relax from the minute he steps in, post a tedious trek. Like Rahul and I spent our time inquiring from our Mom- "When is Papa back?"- V and N too ask me when I am expecting their Dad. But the change of times is clearly visible in how they interpret his arrival time as I mention it in hours. Some of their interesting calculations are these:

Viraj: He will come when the first innings of the IPL game tonight will begin?
Nevaan: He will come after Balika Vadhu or before it?
Both of them: He will come when you finish dinner (around 7:30 pm) or when you serve us and Dadi dinner (around 9pm) 

These obviously put a sense of time in them till the countdown of seeing their Daddy home, begins. Technology has lessened the gaps created due to anticipation and ambiguities between my children and their Dad but their daily excitement of running across the room to see their Hero at the door each night- is something they share with me in exactly the same proportion!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Ke aayi ab apni bhi baari......

Okay hold your breath for the biggest news from our fold! I remember the last two times I said this was first in 2006- to announce the seeding of my first born and then 2008- to announce that we have another baby coming along, in case you didn't wish me for the first one! But this time the news is BIGGER! It relates to our first baby- Rahul- who is set to step into matrimony at the end of this year :). The bride of the year is Nishita! I wont say much on her or she ll call me up and say- "Parul Di, mujhse pooch to lete aap! Main aapko aur mirch masala bata deti!". All I should say is that she and her family have fit into ours - like the most perfect missing link :). 

And just in case you are curious, Nishita has by-hearted my earlier post on my version of an 'Ideal dulhan' for my brother and we will be conducting a reality show like function, with her on the hot seat, where she can answer every bullet point. Await invitations ;)

So, madness beckons our household where Venue, menus, functions, their sheer scale, invitations, phone calls, sherwani shopping, ghodi booking, coordination with umpteen suppliers is already taking its toll. Oh yes- I know its still seven months away! But all of this needs discussions and re discussions so each one of us is on the same page! And the icing on the cake is that my parents- who are obviously one half of the crucial stakeholders (the other half is Nishita' parents), are located in Ahmedabad. Thankfully they have handed over the power of attorney (boon of having two lawyers in the family) to Saurabh who will now represent Papa in the court of......this wedding! So while this madness will continue even after a week of THE day, lets concentrate on the things you cannot imagine I have been thinking about!

  1. The questions- "What will I wear?", "How will we go?, "What will we gift?"-  which were so pertinent to every other wedding we attended have assumed graver meanings as they will all apply to us. Now people will wonder- "What will Parul/Rahul wear?", "Will they invite that particular relative of mine?", "Shall we ask Saurabh/Parul if we can gift this?". I wish one could marry off their younger brothers in a pair of denims!
  2. All the glittery wedding and sagai pictures you see on facebook? Now we will be in the center of those pics! Isnt it a norm to put the important people in the center and automatically stand like bent brackets around them when one is getting clicked?
  3. Till the day doesnt come, everyone we will meet will ask- before saying a Hello-"Kaisi chal rahi hain taiyariyan?". And we will all give a practiced answer : "Bas chal rahi hain"
  4. On the functions, a halo will appear on our heads which will easily indicate to our guests that we are the ones they need to ask/blame/question for running taps, missing phones and crying babies. Thankfully this being the last shaadi of our family, they are all aware that these things are NOT in our hands!!
  5. We will be checking into various Chatarpur farms, Hotels and banquets in the initial months (venue selection), then Chandi Chowk and Karol Bagh (for invitations), then South Ex and GK (for shopping), then parlors (for our own overhauling) and finally our cousins and their kids will be checking us in, on our own functions!
  6. Every conversation will begin and end with a new word that is customized for EVERY marriage. A word that will almost have a meaning by the end of it all- "RahulNishita this and that....RahulNishita here and there....."
  7. Even after months of planning we will still miss out on a lot of things which we ought to have done two months back. For all such mistakes and more- Saurabh is our excel sheet cum alarm clock cum notepad cum reminder alert cum taskmaster who will even turn back time to ensure things happen the way they should have!
  8. V and N are super excited to get a Mami home. Although they call her Nishita Didi as I am sure their Nishita Didi has secretly asked them to do so. Why else, when I have told them to call her Mami now, they insist that 'Didi' is just fine! Oh by the way, since Nevaan is an exact replica of his Rahul Mama in habits- he once mentioned that he will also get married to Nishita Didi when he grows up!
  9. At the end of it all......we wont be able to please each and everyone still. Some will complain about the date, some about the food and others about the colors of the plate. But like this post isn't perfect (see it ends with an abrupt 9 points), weddings too are supposed to be- Imperfect but fun :)

Friday, 12 April 2013

To V and N....with love :)

Rise, fall and you rise again
I stand at a distance and stare at you
my hands are unable to reach you love
but my heart beats right next to you

Write, erase and you write again
I smile at every word you ink
I dont poke you for your mistakes today
as you rewrite it before I blink

Yes, no and a yes again
I cringe as to why like this you were made
I still go by whats best for you
as I am the one you will blame

Smile, cry and you smile again
Together you are but so apart
I try my best to shape it for both
with the heart that He split in parts

Keep, lose and you find again
But I will never let them go
Whenever you need your memories together
Till I exist, they are under my pillow

 Near, far and far away
One day you will take the flight
I will then call you up baby
to ask if we did it all, right

Monday, 8 April 2013

Rejected? What the hell??

Its easy to say that one should take rejections in their stride. Trust me, its a very bitter pill. Now that I write and make submissions at a lot of places, its encouraging to get responses which are positive. But yesterday when I got a mail from someone who said- "We are afraid we will not be able to accommodate your piece this time........please keep submitting in future....this is not a comment on your style of writing........we love you but just that we do not love you right now.......". Yes, I made up this last line but the politeness with which this rejection came was so poorly disguised in encouragement, that it taught me an important lesson.

It made me ask myself as to why the hell am I not taking this in a good spirit? I know why! Because I have been loved way too much first by my parents, then by my sibling, then by Saurabh, then by his mother and latest by my sons! I haven't told any of them yet about this mail and I already know their reactions(listed below) which are my life lines, my motivations to keep making mistakes, my reasons for not accepting the fact that someone can REJECT me!!!!

  • My Dad keeps a track of what all I am doing with my new writing career. Yesterday too, he probed me on our phone call if everything was alright with me. I did not tell him about this mail. He will read about it now through this post and definitely feel as bad as I have felt and say to me : "Arre unhe aata hi nahi padhna. Tu chinta mat kar. You are a star"
  • Saurabh also isnt aware of this mail. Now when he will read this blog he will call me to know what exactly happened and why I didnt share this news with him. I can hear him say : "You cant expect everyone to like you babe. I know you are the best!"
  • Rahul is the biggest spoiler of the lot. He will read this blog post late tonight. Then he will wait for me to wake up in the morning. Then he will call me around 10 am and say: "@#%$& reject kar diya? Di you send me the story. I will bloody get it published"
  • My Mom will get to know about this from Papa. She will casually mention it in our daily call and comment : "Are you alright? Keep writing okay? If they dont understand, someone else will"

Does this mean that we should stop loving our kids, harden ourselves so we can teach them to take failure in their stride? Oh not at all! It just quietly and profoundly (is this even a word?) tells me that I should prepare V and N like this- "What you may mean to me, you may not mean to the big bad world outside- the day you decide to make them privy to your innate thoughts, beliefs and creativity. But I know that you are damn good and Mamma will always keep you insulated when others judge you". It keeps me going now and it will keep them going then too :)

Image Courtesy:

Friday, 22 March 2013

My Holi Dodge!

I grew up with cousins till I was 10 years old. We lived in a joint family in a good South Delhi locality. We were about 8 of us all of varied age groups- ranging from toddlers to college goers! Every festival in the Tyagi Mansion was a riot! How will it not be when there were way too many kids and adults like my Dad and his elder brother who were always party to whatever craziness their kids were doing! When they were not scheming the pranks, they were  safeguarding us from complaining neighbors. With such a support system to back our mischief, our guts were fanned regularly.

The inspiration of this post is that one balloon which attacked me day before and wiped the dust off old memories! Memories of using this same trick to irk every passerby who dared to enter our territory. Not to forget that we were strategically placed on a 3rd floor terrace to carry out our (mis)adventures. You must appreciate that when at least 8 kids are targeting an unsuspecting victim, it must take tremendous team work and understanding to also hide in unison. However, repeated Holis assured everyone living around that it was this particular household that was at the center of all silliness. How we chose our year on year victims was also quite scientific. Whoever looked up and scolded us the most- was naturally the target of maximum mess. I can never forget one Khanna Uncle (is there any chance that he will ever read this blog post?) who was so mad at us for making him a butt of our Holi pranks that for atleast 5 days before every Holi, he used to come out of his house with Henna applied on his head, so if we target him with a balloon, the mehndi will spread on his face and he could have a better case to come and fight with our parents- parents who if were unaware of what their kids are upto still protected us with impromptu excuses like: "Our kids? None of them is even home!" or "Holi par balloon nahi throw karenge to crackers burst karenge kya? Aap chai pijiye!"

Now we are all grown ups. We all have kids who are roughly the same age as I was then. But its their hard luck that they are not together in a joint family set up :). They will never know what fun it is to grow up with older cousins who make you smart simply by being themelves! Trust me all these episodes have made me wiser in dealing with Holi myself! I am going to teach V and N to never target scooters or bikes or people with phones or an old age person or an aunty with a kid blah blah.

Day before yesterday in the evening, when a balloon landed on my feet, I realised that  I am quite a pro in dealing with this! How? This is how....

  1. While I was at some distance, I could see a small kid looking first at me and then up-again at me and then up- I knew a balloon awaited me.
  2. As I neared the small kid, I said to him- "Agar gira na mujhpe balloon, Ill teach you a lesson"
  3. Poor kid made some gesture to his friends on the Top floor of the building and rushed inside his home. He probably meant- "From now on , I am not your friend guys!"
  4. As the kid rushed in, I knew I will be thrown at now- FOR SURE! So I had to come up with a plan to avoid severe damage both physically and reputation wise! This is, in case, my threat which scared the ground floor kid had not scared the Top floor ones!
  5. As I was right under the 'terrace of menace', I moved as close to the wall of that house as possible so even if they throw it, they cannot aim my head. How silly it is to aim someone's head anyways.
  6. Just when I thought I had moved out of the danger zone, IT landed on my feet- luckily not a drop of water on my clothes.
  7. I kept walking as if nothing happened. Now this is the best way to tank someone's best efforts! Ignorance. If you will react (like start running in anticipation or keep looking up while warning them not to throw)- trust me- You will definitely be thrown at!
  8. Ya so, as soon as the balloon landed and I kept walking at my normal pace- the kids felt no need to hide. When I moved atleast 15 steps away from their house, I looked back. They were all hanging from their railings waiting for a victim who would show some respect by getting angry or irritated.
  9. Thats when I shouted- "Do this again and you are all gone!". See the logic is simple. Denial is the first way such people will react if you confront them. Catch them red handed and look them in the eye. Dont smile and encourage them (unless ofcourse you are happy to be targetd again when they brand you their "most accomodating victim")
  10. Yesterday as I stepped out of my house and was still at my gate, the ground floor boy ran inside as soon as he saw me. 
  11. I walked past the house with tremendous confidence (from the inside I was trembling) and the kids above kept hanging on the railings.
  12. I am sure they were saying to each other- "Ye boring hai yaar. Lets not waste a balloon on her!"
  13. Good BOYS!! :)