The musings of a (not-so) single chick in the city. (Don't think that the term chick is derogoratory. We refer to boys by a number of terms). The travails in the life of an ex-miss-goody-two-shoes, ex-journalist, ex-small time model, ex-television actress, of being female in Chennai/ Pune/Bangalore, of ideas old and ideas new....

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Book names that stay with you

I once read a book called - "Floating Turds". I kid you not.

I remember that I read it over a weekend trip to an area where my family had lived in the past, when I had been a kid. My memories of the place and the people there have all been formed during the visits there, and nothing from the time of residing there. I had been very young, clearly.

In any case, this particular trip happened when I was almost in college, and I remember being insufferably stand-offish and bemoaning the idea of going back to this strange, old industrial township. I say strange because its a small town, a walled-off to outsiders small town and everyone knows everyone. Only people who worked in the PSU there and their families lived there. My father had worked there for a while when I had been a toddler and had a lot of friends. So, we were visiting, again.

The thing was, the kids that I played with on my trips back had all flown their nests the previous year, or were in the process of fleeing their small town existence that summer. And so, the trip was a waste, for me and my sister. And for my parents as well, because every house we visited had depressed parents talking about the kids who left, or who were so eager to leave, it made my parents feel bad for their friends.

The weekend was made worse by PMS and the acidity produced by the painkiller I was taking for the pain. So, I remember that I had stuffed a library book in my bag and pull it out. It had the strangest title, and it had been mere curiosity that had made me borrow it - how could someone get a reader for a book with such a title, I remember wondering as I scanned it out. Well, the writer had people like me to thank, I guess. The curiosity in humanity would never cease.

The book, notwithstanding its unappealing, nay, fairly disgusting title, was not a bad read. It was set in Los Angeles with an outsider vs insiders plot arc. Kind of Cecilia Ahern-ish minus Ireland.  The story happened amidst the shiny people of showdom and their preoccupation with the newest in -thing. Which happened to be a book about turds and whether one's poop floated or not. I kid you not.

Now eye-grabby titles are all the rage. But back when I'm talking about, fifteen odd years ago (This was an old book I had borrowed- so add another 5-10 years to arrive at the publishing and import date) , this book title, at least for India, was scandalous. I wondered who let this book come into the country and if they even knew what the word 'turd' meant.

So, while the book was an average read, the title clearly stands as a memorable one. It occurs to me that most people would have read such books in their past, where the Title called out to us, while the substance didn't match up. Kind of like a lukewarm date with a great looking person.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Mommy trials - Is breast the best?

I have read a lot, I mean, a lot, of parenting websites before giving birth. I thought forewarned is forearmed and so read everything I was recommended about pregnancy and parenting. I was full of facts and figures about pregnancy, pre-term labour, symptoms of pre-eclampsia, views of both the camps in the epidural or no- epidural debate (I'm a wuss about pain, guess what I chose?) , chances of cord-wrapped-around-neck - you name it- and I had read something about it.

But when I got to being the mommy part- after my child was born, I was stumped. I guess this is a malady amongst women of my generation, of these years, in the early Twenty-First century, give or take a couple decades depending upon the stage of development(read access to the internet) in the country. We get to soak in information by the Mbps full, we just don't think about what such a life-changing experience will actually do to our lives.

I see that younger girls in any family are better prepared because they see the older ones go through this. But most families have one or two children at most and so, most girls, are girls with no immediate woman family member go through the process of emerging motherhood in front of their eyes after they are grown up enough to appreciate this.  So they go through this process for the first time by themselves with no benchmarks/goal posts/I'm so fucking this up - in sight. But that is different story for a different day.

My main problem happened with breast-feeding - but it is not the problem itself that is my issue. It is the die-hards I had read before who had been insisting that this is the only way to parent- breatsfeeding or no feeding at all(starving baby will learn to latch on) road- and whose voices are the most stringent in the online motherhood, babyhood, early days, etc portals. I was so taken in by their argument, that I had, in my best intentions towards my as yet unborn child and worst inexperience with little humans and how they never do what you would reasonably expect them to - and hence the problems that might come my way, insisted that I would not buy and take a bottle and formula to the hospital along with all other supplies.

Alas, my child just would not latch on. No matter what I tried. Throw in hormones, tiredness from the pushing the 3.8kg baby out, and the bleeding and the soreness due to the stitches - oh yeah, the worst parts in the "What to expect while expecting" are all true. And I tried. So hard. I met three lactation consultants and was pushed and poked and squeezed - oh yeah- another thing they don't tell women who are about to be mothers- nope, breasts are no more about sex or sexiness- they are now baby-nutrition-machines and all sorts of women will take amazing liberties with them - nurses, doctors, visiting aunties and grandmas, servant maids, basically almost every woman who has been a mother and can claim to be an Indian, thinks she's an expert on breast-feeding and will try to help. By suggesting ways to hold baby, ways to put breast into baby's mouth, how to keep it there, how to stop a baby who won't release its hold, etc.

 We, my baby and I, eventually overcame our latching issues - but only after weeks of tears (Oh, why won't the baby latch on?) "Its been a whole day, we have to feed the baby something" to weeks of pain ( Where is the nipple-cream??? Arghhh), Let's try nipple shields, Breast - Pumping? Nope,  nothing works, to overflow problems ("I'm leaking again, where's the baby?"). We went through the whole gamut along with loss of hunger and hair(for me- the kid was just fine) due to the stress, the blues, the doubting Thomases, more blues, the breast-squeezing-and-shoving-it-into-baby's-mouth aunties, hassle of getting the birth certificate, sitting down and getting up, etc

Which is why I say - screw it! Is breastmilk good for the child? Undoubtedly. Is it necessary? Nope. Is formula easier? Yes. Is sterilising easy? Nope. Highly time consuming, monotonous, and if you don't do it right- the bottles become petri dishes. Want to do a bit of both types? Sure, why not? But if the kid gets too attached to one way, you can't get it to switch ways easily.

Any way you chose is likely to be stressful, and there is no right way. In all this stress, you only lose out on the sweet, innocent, beautiful baby's first few days, which will never come back.

Just pick your way, don't stress, and most importantly, don't judge a woman who picks a way different from yours and force your way down her throat or more aptly, down her baby's throat.

Baby happy and healthy? You are set.

Happy motherhood ladies!

Friday, January 23, 2015

The slow demise of the die-hard Rajini fan

I saw Lingaa recently and it was at  multiplex in Bangalore and maybe the location played a role in my experience, but I don't think it did. I think the whole Rajini movie watching experience has been changing slowly but surely over the years. And here I'm not speaking about the first day-first show( many first shows, given the advent of the multi-plex) experience, where  no matter the quality of the movie, the joint mob-feeling of euphoria and screaming establish the atmosphere of the movie-watching experience. I'm  talking about going to the theater a week after the film has been released, because you want to enjoy a thalaivar movie without the noise and really enjoy the punch dialogues and the masterful way in which he subdues the villains, helps the needy and the poor and basically gives you a warm fuzzy glow while exiting the movie hall, like Arunachalam, Basha, Shivaji, etc did for us.

I'm guessing that a lot of people are thinking this after watching Lingaa, but only a few are saying it, maybe because of a lingering sense of the years of hero-worship that they have done for the Super-Star of Tamil Nadu stops them from uttering such sacrilegious thoughts- It's time that our Thalaivar hung up his hero-role boots and do what actors do - act in roles instead of being the role the movie is written for and around.

Sonakshi Sinha is younger than both of Thalaivar's daughters and I guess that Anushka Shetty is about the same age, or at most, a year or two older than his eldest. It is quite disheartening to see him dance around with these young girls. One might argue that many heroes of the past have done the same, but that does not mean that it was tasteful or easy to consume for the fans. Those heroes who did it in the black and white era got away with it easier because of the forgiving nature of the technology in those times. But with extra high definition picture quality available these days, the camera is unforgiving in its capture of every skin crease, fold and frailty in movement, especially when trying to bust a move that the hero might have pulled off with elan twenty years ago.

Fans of this era who are more aware of alternate offerings of entertainment might choose to consume those than watch a Thalaivar movie. What Amithabh Bachchan learnt with his last few movies as a hero is what our Rajni Sir needs to learn, but I really don't want to watch our Thalaivar go through that painful experience. I wish that he would understand it by having watched his friends and switch over gracefully to roles that suit his age and gravitas. And that means eschewing young heroines completely in his movies, unless it is a movie like Cheeni Kum where the story mandates an older man and a younger woman falling in love. Else, unless his directors cast age-appropriate leading ladies, his movies are going to disenchant first and then slowly lose him his fan base.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

First time author Abirami M.Krishnan's debut novel hits the stands in one week's time (Drum roll)...& also eye-roll

That is the cover of my brand new, dare I say it, debut novel. I am afraid to use the word 'debut'. It implies that there are more to come. I hope that there are. In fact, I have another manuscript all ready in the rough that needing a lot of editing and rewriting, but, I'm superstitious by nature         (Don't tell my supposedly rational side), and I don't want to jinx it. 

Anyway, this one is being published by Hachette India and will be(finally) available in bookstores from the 25th of May. It is already available on pre-order from many, many online retailers. Check it out! 

P.S: Blurb and back cover coming soon.
P.P.S: Links to Flipkart, Amazon, Corssword, Infibeam, etc etc...can all be found on search

Friday, May 9, 2014

Laundering the news. And man, do we need it!

I have been working for the past few months at a job where I spend most of my day working on television news. Because of that, I see how skewed the news presented in our television channels is. It is biased news, paid news, infotainment and mostly, not really news.

 I accidentally stumbled upon this site called Newslaundry where they actually wash the news and give it in as neutral a manner as possible. They skewer everyone equally, the Congress, the BJP and even the AAP.

And they have several news based videos in their TeeVee section, like Clothesline, I agree and Can You Take It? 

If you are fond of news as it should be, as opposed to being a Times of India reader, then this site is for you. (And no, I am not being paid to promote their site on my blog :- ) I am a genuine fan) 

Why 2 States is just barely watch-able

I have always felt that of all the stuff  ( I hear some thing, wait, drivel, you say! Shame on you, he is the best selling author of thousands of un-pirated copies!)  that Chetan Bhagat has written, 2 States was the best. Maybe because the story was still the strongest emotional connect he had - his marriage to someone from South India. The IIT story, for him, was in the past, but his marriage was on-going. At least, that is my theory.
But, 2 States the movie, has managed to take even that little emotional connect the book had with its readers down to a barely-felt, ok-to-watch-once-when-one-is-totally -bored genre. But, thank fully, the director had the sense to add a strong father-son story line where the love-story-falls short; both Arjun Kapoor and Ronit Roy perform wonderfully in these scenes. The actor playing the Tamil father also does well in the few scens he has.
Alia Bhatt as a student at IIM, that too at Ahmedabad, is too hard to swallow. (I mean, people who manage to mix-up Prime Minister of India and Chief Minister of Maharashtra (on Karan Johar' show), will not even be allowed in the campus, methinks). But, to her credit, she passes in the role, because, she has tried hard to do a good job, even though they gave her a job at Sunsilk. I mean come on, too much for the sake of product placement.
Revati was wasted in her role, given her calibre, and Amritha Singh, though she shines in a few scenes, comes across as an over-acting-cringe-inducing performer. But, then that could be the director making her do that.
The movie's saving grace is that even though it lacks several appendages, is that the story, still, has heart. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Ella Meter-um Voduthu, Amma katchi valukkuthu - Auto meters are running in Chennai. I'm voting for Amma.

I am a Chennai-ite, and this has always meant dealing with auto drivers who are supremely dismissive of their customers, and us getting rides always depended on the rare occurrences of their condescension. This hate-hate relationship of customers with auto drivers was spawned by the drivers being encouraged in their exhortative behaviour by political goondas who owned and rented out thousands of auto-rickshaws.

One of my earliest memories (80’s) is of my father fighting with an auto-driver who agreed to go from Ayanavaram to Shanti Colony (Anna Nagar East) for 10 rupees, but demanded twelve rupees when we were halfway through, near ICF. My father, a man of principle, was unskilled in bargaining but very skilled at getting himself riled up, made the driver stop, paid him a full ten rupees for the half distance and walked my mother and carried me the rest of the way in the hot sun. No experience with auto drivers since has made me change my opinion of them as greedy and always bargain for more than the set kilometer rate, since then. 

But, these days my auto rides in Chennai are accompanied by a sense of surreal and furtive joy that feels like it will be snatched away any moment and I snap back out of my dream into reality where auto fares are back to normal. (Normal = exorbitant, see?). In fact I think that this ‘fair pricing’ won’t last and in fact, can’t last, because it is too good to be true. I walk away from an auto after having paid exactly 32 rupees according to the meter and I wasn't abused in face-turns-blue language and rage? Did the driver just nod politely and proceeded to bend down to start the engine? What the hell has happened to real life and more importantly, can this wonderfulness continue at all?

In an aside - Is that a vague sense of guilt I feel when I pay the price on the meter, like I have cheated the auto driver of his deserved extra (for which they usually work hard by arguing and playing a great game of negotiation) money?

Thanks to Amma, our own puratchithalaivi Ms.J.J, we pay what fair prices for auto rides as of the last one-two months, and the disbeliever that I am, I don’t think this will last. Regime change will happen, because while for me this is a change/difference big enough to re-vote her into office, it is not for a lot of people. Or the RTO offficers that are hounding these auto-wallas if they spot one without a re-calibrated meter now because of pressure from their bosses who are under pressure from Amma, will soon lose steam, because that is what normally happens, and slowly the meters will go into disuse and the earlier negotiation system will come back into force again. And normalcy will return.