Monday, January 30

Little miss writer, Valar..

Valar blogs ,she writes stories,likes cooking, has a keen interest in archeology and loves reading Secret Sevens and Famous Fives.. And she is all of eight years! Amazing right? She has been blogging(with the help of her doting parents) from 2009(wow!). GenX sure is talented! Without further ado, presenting to you a story written by this wunderkind..
 
  Fantastic Four:The Mystery of the Strange Lane and Lady
Story and  Illustrations (in MS paint) by Valar


      Chapter 1: Georgina is Mad

Georgina scowled. The rains raged on and on. “When will it stop?” asked Georgina, “its been awful not having a meeting for three days”.  Grumpily she switched on the t.v. Click click went the remote.

“Ah, at last, the weather forecast”. The rain will stop in ten days”.  “TEN DAYS” yelled Georgina, “I’ll be old by then”.

Suddenly, driiing-a-driiing went the telephone.  Georgina picked it up. It was Teressa. “Oh Hello George, meeting tomorrow, 4.30 to 6 o clock”. 

Now, the Georgnia who was scowling was jumping about yelling “Yay”.


 

Chapter 2: A Meeting

Georgina rushed to the little shed. “Password” came three voices from inside. 

“Storm” she said, and entered. She found that she was the last to come.

“So”, said Stacey, “what’s up?”. “We have to think of something”, said  Teressa, “or else we will go mad with boredom”.

“I have an idea” said Barbara, “how about we get out our autograph albums and get as many autographs as we can.  We have one week’s time.  Whoever gets the most autographs will win”.

“Superb idea” yelled everyone.
 
 
                                                   

                                Chapter 3: Autograph Mystery

Monday and Tuesday passed. Teressa got twenty five autographs. Georgina got twenty four, Barbara, thirty and Stacey twenty. On the last day, Georgina was collecting more autographs when she saw a strange sight. She saw an older lady going to the bus stop. She wondered why. 

“It is very unusual for an old lady to come out in heavy rain to the bus stop.  Anyway buses are not running today.”. So Georgina shadowed the old lady.

The old lady went into a little lane and disappeared just when Georgina turned down the lane. There were no houses and all the shops were closed.  There was a big bronze tiger statue at the end of the lane.

“I only turned eight seconds after the old lady, no one can disappear that quickly” thought Georgina. Georgina pondered over it.

Georgina went out of the lane, still puzzled. One minute later, the old lady reappeared. Georgina approached the lady and asked for her autograph. She gave it – “Dorothy Jerkins”. Georgina ran back.  “What a tale to tell the others.

Looks like a job for the fantastic four”.

She called Teressa. “Hello. Tomorrow meeting, 4-5.30.  I got something exciting to tell you all”


Want to know what happened next? Head over to Valar's blog  for the rest of this story (and for many more stories..)  Here's wishing the little lady loads of luck and hope to read her books someday!

Friday, January 27

Zero Percentile -2.0 Missed IIT Kissed Gurgaon by Neeraj Chhibba - Review




Neeraj Chhibba is out with his second book, Zero percentile-2.0 Missed IIT Kissed Gurgaon. I had reviewed his first book (review here) and had found it racy and perfect Bollywood material. ZP(2) is the sequel to ZP(1) and chronicles the lives of the Pankaj, Motu ,Priya and their friends( Nitin, Arjun, Jaanvee  and San). 

The book starts with snapshots of the lives of the main characters (all except Pankaj) in 2006, who found a software company called PureConsultants . The company is developing a product called Babe ,which is touted to be a game-changer that will catapult the company into the big league. Each individual in the management has a different problem to grapple with – Nitin is afflicted with HIV and has money problems ; Arjun’s daughter is special and has to deal with problems on his marriage front; Jaanvee is not sure of her feelings San , and Motu and Priya have their own issues . The author takes us through the problems of each individual elaborately. T he first 100-odd pages are a sure damper in terms of pace of the book. I was left wondering what the point was of going into excruciating details of problems some of them faced. Also I thought the issue with Nitin and how he gets ostracized and slammed on news channels because he is afflicted with HIV was just over the top.  Nothing much happens during this period, but  one knows something has gone wrong because of the absence of Pankaj from the narrative. 

Then, the narrative flits back to 1998 and chronicles the events that lead up to the formation of PureConsulants. The pace starts picking up at this point and we get to know why Pankaj was missing from the first part. We  also get to know that Pankaj was one of the co-founders of the company Numerosoft  and then something goes wrong to changes the equation between friends and causes PureConsultants to be born. 
The third part of the story starts  in November 2008 and PureConsultants goes through an adrenaline-filled hostile takeover bid. Will Motu and his loyalists manage to fight off the takeover bid or will they succumb to the machinations of their secret enemy ? Umm.. You’ll need to read the book to figure that out. 

Narrative-wise the last part is the most exciting as Neeraj gives a day-wise countdown to the prospective takeover. The writing is choppy and a labored ( especially the first part). The ending also seemed a little too melodramatic and predictable.There are lots of references to the first part and it might make sense for people to read ZP(1) to understand all the dynamics at work.What works the best for the book is the pace and the fact that its a breezy read. Neeraj also explains the workings of a software company, and that makes for interesting reading. That said, I certainly liked ZP(1) better than this one.Overall, an ok read.

 I’ll give it a 3/5 for this one.


Wednesday, January 25

To crib or not...

While we are done with buying most of the Aww-scho-cute  baby stuff , the chap and I are undecided on the baby's sleeping quarters. We decided a while ago that the baby probably wouldn't  need a nursery to itself for the first few years,decided to convert the spare room into a guest room ,went ahead and  got painted it a gelusil pink.The colour is pretty hideously barbie-land and I often wonder what we were thinking when we chose that "Mera-wala pink". I don't remember having a room for myself when I was growing up, but then things were different those days and a-little-spanking-never-hurt-anyone parenting technique ruled the roost. I have had my ear twisted a few times (just before the dreaded math exams or right after the report card made an appearance at home), and other than a few strange mannerisms, I think I turned out okay. Mostly. Sometimes I am glad that I don't live in the US  where some parents live in the constant fear of their offspring dialing 911 the case of a prospective... ahem...mild roughing-up episode.

But things are not that simple, are they?What if twenty years down the line the baby ends on a couch of some shrink moaning "I am a mess because my mom didn't give me my own room as a baby,and when she did give me one it was a  hideous pink room. And now I have identity issues." So kind peepals and mommas who have contemplated such existential questions before please tell me this - When does a child need a room of it's own ? Now the second existential question that is giving me insomnia is this - Are cribs really a bullshit idea or what?

For the first few months of the baby's existence cribs don't make sense and that a never-ending cycle of pooping-peeing-nursing frenzy will make sure I act as the resident crib. Most people I've spoken to tell me that co-sleeping for the first few months is ideal. Some advocate installing a "Thooli". I don't know what it is called in English/Hindi , but can describe the thing for you. Its a cloth that is draped like a cocoon and hung from the ceiling. As rudimentary as it sounds , there are pre-stitched thoolis available (with hi-fi spring action) that makes life easier for mommies.No more swinging thoolis till cows come home.The problem with this option is that it they can only accommodate the baby for a few months, after which I need to think of other options. 

And then there are baby bassinets and cradles.We are not keen on both because after a few months what do you do with them.. store onions and potatoes?Then there are cribs..Will toddlers still want to sleep in a crib after they learn how to crawl / roll over? And how safe are they really? The cribs I managed to find here all have some kind of a wheel attached it it and seem pretty flimsy.And they cost as much as a normal bed does , so I am wondering if it makes sense to buy one (when they will be used only for a few years). A crib ,however can be used like a play pen and be quite a life-saver ( I can get my other work done .. yay!) once the baby gets to a stage where it can amuse itself with toys. As of now , I am leaning towards the crib, but am still confused about what to do.

So much for a thesis on baby sleeping arrangements.Which leads us back to the fundamental question - "Are cribs a bullshit idea?"Mommas who have used cribs before/are using them now what do you think? 


Check out this video of one of my favourite stand-up comedienne spouting wisdom on parenting.. Somebody gonna get hit real bad!



Have a super week- Bu-bye !

Monday, January 23

The neem leaf story..

Another one of those priceless Mother-isms...

Mom: Your grandma says you shouldn't be going out for walks at night. 

Me: Ummm..Why?

Mom :You know there are bad things hovering the air that'll upset you..

Me: Like what? ghosts? Bad spirits? What kind of strange stories you come up with!

The mother  looks to the father for moral support (and mostly for someone to endorse her view). The chap

and the father are trying their best not to get drawn into this conversation.

Mom : Ok, be like that and not listen to me as usual . Even grandma  and xyz aunt says you need to tuck a

small leaf of neem into your hair before you head out after dark. Neem wards off bad things, you know.

You won't get startled if you see bad things on the road.

Me: Bad things like what ? A man smoking and another one peeing against the tree. Ma, neem is just an

antiseptic. I don't think it can keep away bad things , even if there are bad things in the air!

Mom :  Oh, you stupid girl. Always arguing and asking questions..We oldies say things from experience.
 
By now the father and chap are rolling their eyes (a tad inconspicuously because they don't want to be caught

out) and I am trying my best to control my laughter.

Mom :  Of course , it is true - that's why even grandma and xyz aunt also said the same thing.

By now I can't control it any longer and burst out laughing , followed by strange guffaw-type sounds. Yeah,

the menfolk decided that  a good laugh outweighed the merits of showing solidarity and all.

Mom: Ok, all of you  laugh at me! But it is true.

The best course of action, I decide at this point , is to say ok to her. 

Me : Fine, I'll do it.

The mother relaxes finally and a look that can only be described as "Finally she sees sense!" settles on her

face.

So if you are out in the streets of Chennai and see a girl with a neem leaf tucked into her hair, you know who

that is :-) Yeah, mothers are priceless !

Friday, January 20

Yay! finally..

I grew up devouring Mills and Boons at such alarming rates that at one point my dad was concerned about my bankrupting him . I haven't read an M& B in ages , but  still have fond memories of  curling up all night and tucking into stories of blue-eyed Timothy having a steamy escapades with blonde Lucy and such like. And now.. I have my own version of Timothy and Lucy (just that they aren't blue-eyed or eat scones for  breakfast or are blonde)  going into print this weekend.My first novella will hopefully hit the bookstores by Valentine's day!My publisher just sent me a snapshot of what the cover would look like  and I thought I'd share it with you guys. 


So yeah, "Seven across" is the name of the book .. and is a desi romance novella. Hell, ya..that's my name on the cover ! I wrote this book when rejections were pouring in for my novel and a strange feeling of unrest gripped me through the one month I wrote this book in. A year later, this baby is ready to be born and I feel like a  new mother , all anxious and jittery.

The blurb behind the book reads.. 


Small town girl Ramya finds the big city fascinating, especially so her boss Abhay. A make-over cannot erase her essential persona, but the attractive Thomas does make her feel the first stirrings of a romance. Abhay and Thomas are good friends, yet the undercurrents are far from positive. The two share a tormented history and Ramya discovers there is more to both men than meets the eye. Thomas does make her heart beat faster and Abhay is not what he seems. Yet Ramya feels the pull of attraction to Abhay as well. 


Who is Mr. Right?

The book will be available on Flipkart and IndiPlaza online and at bookstores like Landmark, Higginbothams , Connexions etc. Indiplaza will probably run a Valentine's day offer ,where you can order the book at a deep discount.You can find more info about the Red Romance imprint of Desi romances on the Publisher's website (www.pageturnpublisher.com).

Please order the book,spread the word around on blogosphere... and save a starving(!), impoverished(!!) writer ;-). Oh, another thing.. I don't have an FB page for the book yet and am using the much-neglected and bastardized personal account for all communication regarding the book. So if you are on FB, please add me on..Gosh! I am sounding more impoverished by the minute.

Edited: You'll find the link to my FB page on the sidebar. I figured how to do this after my drama!As far as technology is concerned ,I am clueless and am starting to turn into my parents!


Thursday, January 19

Thank you and more random things about me ...

This post  has been in the offing for a while now..I should have done it sometime back, but being the routine procrastinator that I am (lazy,lazy me..) , I have been putting it off. A big thank you to  Meera , Deeps and Uma for being so sweet and giving me the Versatile blogger award. Thanks so much, ladies..  Lately, I've discovered so many wonderful new bloggers and want to pass this award to both veterans (who have already got this award many times, I am sure) and blogs I've started following recently ( some of them don't even know that I exist!).




The rules of the award are as follows:
1. Thank the person who nominated you for the award (Thanks Deeps, Uma and Meera)
2. Nominate 15 other bloggers and inform them of the same
3. Share 7 Random facts about yourself
4. Add the Versatile Blogger Award picture to your Blog Post

 I'd like to pass this award to..


Jyoti - Her blog is the veritable amalgam of foodie and bookish posts. Everytime I visit her space, I am drooling uncontrollably !And I am not even talking about her awesome photographs here ..

Vidya - A mommy blogger who is very popular. Her posts about the "V" family antics are  totally "aww..." inducing.

Hema - A book blogger whose blog is a haven for book-lovers like me. It does help that she reads a lot of chick-lits and her recos are awesome.


Asha - A veteran blogger who writes meaningful, informative posts(a lot of them are about culture). So many of her posts have been chosen by blog adda.

Smita - One of my oldest readers! Smita's blog needs no introduction and her popularity( 400+ followers) is a testament to that. Her book reviews and posts about her lil' one are a delight to read. I wonder how she manages motherhood, juggles a day job , reads a tonne of books and manages to keep her blog updated..

Divya - A new mommy whose posts are delightful and spunky. Just hoping that she gets time to write more.

Divya - Her sense of humour rocks and how! Another extremely popular blogger who needs no introduction. Too bad I started reading her blog only  recently.

Violet - A book-blogger whose podacasts are super fun. A must visit for bibliophiles.

Disha - A new blogger who I started reading recently.Her posts are super fun!

popgoesthebiscuit - A blogger I recently discovered, whose posts I relate to immensely. Head over to her space and spread some TLC,guys.

Bikram - Who doesn't know Bikram's blog? He's just everywhere..His blog posts and photographs are just awesome. A super- networker ,I wonder how he manages to churn out so many posts and visit our blogs so regularly.

Manasi - A best selling author and a mommy blogger whose posts I love reading.Wish she would write more!


Inba - She doesn't know that I exist , but I've been a faithful reader for sometime now. Her posts are witty and full of humour. Another blogger who I wish would blog more.


Madhu - I head to Madhu's blog when I need my daily fix of awesome photographs. A blog started I following recently.

Shalini - A blogger whose photographs and posts are warm and personal. Perfect accompaniment to a cup of chai.

Oh, I could go on and on.. and list out a zillion blogs I enjoy reading. I would have also loved to pass the award back to Uma, Deeps and Meera because these are bloggers I enjoy reading, but wonder if that is allowed ;-) 

Now , the most difficult part of this award..7  random things about myself.

1. I am a huge foodie and love anything sweet.At buffets, I always start out with deserts and then make my way towards the main courses.Weird right?

2. I am too blunt for my own comfort. If i don't like something, I won't mince my words and be nice for the heck of it .This has often got me into loads of trouble and is something I really want to change about myself.

3. I love collecting books(and reading them). My dream home is one which has wall to floor shelves all filled with books and ... more books. 

4. I love colours , but strangely Black and white are my favorites. I am a gemini and such contradictions pop up very frequently( baffling me routinely).

5. I abhor creepy crawlies of any proportion and refuse to co-exist with them. First on the hit list are lizards- eeeks! (ditto, Uma!)

6. I am a smell junkie and  fall in love with anything that has notes of vanilla in it easily. My perfumes, lotions, candles, room fresheners,pot-potpourri -everything  that has a smell  associated with it has vanilla in it.

7. I was a tomboy (and a  certified nerd) in school, but over the years have realized that I am more girly that I would want to admit.However, I still can't hold a conversation about make-up techniques or accessories for more than 3 minutes.

Phew.. That was tough! Now a round of applause to everyone..

applause Pictures, Images and Photos
























 


Thursday, January 5

How you doin?

Hola, peeepals. New year parties all over ? Hangovers finally banished? Apppy New year to all..The chap and I had the most "happening" New Year celebrations in the history of our lives. We graduated to "that middle aged couple that hangs out at boring apartment parties where kids dance to Chammak Challo and Gasolina , with their parent's chests bursting out with pride and screaming- that's my kid on  the stage!". Yeah, we cheered random kids that won painting competitions and suchlike and wondered aloud if this is what life reduces us all to...finally. Holly,molly.. before we know, we'll be attending dance rehearsals and fraternizing with other middle aged people.And discussing schools and educational system in India and nappy rashes and nipple creams and pooping behavior of babies.Gosh! And how did we bring in the New year, you ask .. Well, we promptly fell asleep by 11:00pm , after deciding that a New year was no big deal.Comes every year, right? Gosh! again. Does this what impending parent-hood reduces people to ?

Anyway, the lil one's been creating enough drama for the past 3-4 days, that one hasn't really had the time to dwell on the implications of becoming "that embarrassing middle-aged couple" or blog hop (sooooryyy!).It looked like the baby was in a hurry to get out and join us for the Pongal and Republic day celebrations, until we coaxed it into remaining indoors for a few more months.Well, I am on medication to prevent pre-term labour and after a few days of insane contractions and cramping things are back to normal.Or so we hope. I am now on a "strict rest" regimen for the next one week, and needless to say its doing wonders to the already grouchy self. How much can one sleep in a day, I ask? So much to do before baby comes and I am forced to watch the speed of my walk! Bah! Maybe,its time i get back to the manuscript that has been languishing in my laptop for the last 2 years. I have managed to write a "colossal" 12,000 words in the last 2 years and have edited it almost 25 times.I realise that can't claim a "writer's block" ad-infinitum.Time to bid adieu to the lazy me and start writing again. I also realised that it is insane to keep waiting for my first two books to come out and then start writing.75,000 words to go..Here I come, biatch!

Along with all this drama, I got to learn that I might not be diabetic after all and that the glucose tolerance test results that implicated me as a shameful sugar-maniac was a sham all along. My doc is now urging me to eat like a normal person, because I have just gained a paltry 4 kilos in the last 8 months.So,I am hogging  full -throttle to make sure that the baby gets more fat and is not some skinny little thing like what the mom used to be once upon a time.The worst part of this development is that I am  now nauseated at the thought of sweets. After I had stuffed my face with some sweet mom had made I felt so sick that I swore that I would never eat  anything sweet ever in my life. Just a week ago I was craving Kesari and rava ladoo and donuts and pastries and whatnot.Now, all i want is my salads and healthy stuff. Crazy, I say!

Books-wise I am saddled with the most boring book in the history of mankind ( The nanny returns) and am wondering why some books become such big hits despite being so difficult to finish ,whereas other good ones sink into oblivion.I am officially off chick-lits as of now and can't stand another book with a pink cover.I did finish reading a good book a few days back (Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert).The feminist in me had a field day reading this book on marriage.A full-fledged post coming up soon on my thoughts on the interesting things the book broaches.

Umm.. what else? Did i mention that I am totally in love with Dexter (from the sitcom and not the cartoon). I find the serial fascinating. A little too morbid to be watching at this juncture, but heck how can one not find a serial killer-blood splatter analyst fascinating ? And just like so many other things in my life, I discovered the sitcom so late (after 6 seasons getting over). I am done with two seasons and am hooked big time. Its a different matter that I felt horrendously embarassed when my mother walked in when Dexter's victim was parading around naked (butt show and all).To my mother's credit,she just said " Oi, look at him all nanga-panga".Needless to say I have never been this proud of my mother before. Sometimes, parents are forced to do grow up too ;-) What say?

Rambling over..Over and Out. Have a super week ahead, peepals ;-)