Sometime last year, I decided to chop off my hair. Not completely, but I started wearing it much shorter. It was summer in Pune, and this once mild Maharashtrian city now experiences crazy heat (it is already upwards of 41 degrees even though it is only the first week of April). I figured a shorter hairstyle would be easier to manage in the heat, quicker to style, and would also give me a new look. Nothing like a change in hairstyle to get an instant makeover, you know? Plus, if I wanted to sport shorter hair, surely I could, considering it was MY hair. I wasn’t hurting anyone, not even my hair follicles.
Turns out, a LOT of people are very interested in the length of hair a woman decides to keep. Continue reading →
“She cannot participate in the drawing competition,” the woman in charge declared. “It is the rule.”
“It is the rule that my granddaughter cannot participate in your competition?”
The woman scoffed. “No, dada, the age group is 5–8 years. Your granddaughter is much older. Many parents have complained.”
“Oh,” said my grandfather. “In that case, you wasted my time. You should have declared in advance that tall kids are not allowed, even if they are well within the age range.”
He had said that out rather loudly, and some of the people gathered nearby glared. They looked at me up and down as I held on to my grandfather’s hand, clutching my drawing board and colour-box that I wouldn’t get to use that morning. She must be well past the age-range, they surmised. Look at her grown-up body language. Look at her clothes. Continue reading →
Disclaimer: This post is not intended to offend anyone’s faiths or rituals. The belief in the evil eye is a subjective choice, and the “tips” to ward it off are intended purely in jest.
It is almost laughingly easy to “catch” the evil eye. Babies can catch it as soon as they emerge from the hospital which makes the kajal necessary even if the paediatrician advises against it. Pregnant women can pick it up any time, especially once their bump becomes evident, which is why they must remain confined to the house and avoid contact with the outside world. Vehicles can get affected unless you put up lemons and chillies in the front or some of those fancy, new-age gadgets imported from China. Heck, even homes—never mind how sturdily built with earthquake protection—can catch the evil eye, necessitating pujas and havans with generous dakshina to the priests conducting them.
So, how can you protect yourself from the evil eye? Here are the suggestions I have received over time and seen in action in my immediate and extended community. Feel free to try them out—at your own risk. Continue reading →
I have always had cats around at home. When I was a baby, the two house-cats would sit by my crib and watch me sleep. Mom tells me, “They would look at you as if you were the strangest thing they had ever seen, but also the most enchanting.”
Over the years, I have played with kitties, fed them, petted them, and mourned their passing when the inevitable came. I find that the company of a cat brings an unparalleled sense of comfort—there is something indescribably reassuring about a purring cat on your lap, his eyes heavy with sleep, oblivious to the stillness of the day.
Do you own a cat? Let me share five life lessons my cats have taught me over time. If I occasionally flounder at any, they loudly mew their disapproval and proceed to explain things all over again.
1. It is perfectly okay to ask for love. In fact, it is essential.
When someone is busy, try purring and gently touching their arms or legs. When someone is too busy, go and sit on top of their head or in their lap, hiding the obnoxious laptop, mobile phone or book they are reading. You deserve to be fondled, patted, cherished…loved. Continue reading →
“How come your eyes are so small? You can hardly see them behind your glasses. Don’t Bengali girls have big, beautiful eyes?”
Well, I must be a fake Bengali. I have small eyes; my hair is cut in a long bob; and I don’t eat much fish (tsk, tsk).
Since school, I have been inundated with stereotypes about Bengali girls. They are supposed to be excellent at music and dance, elegantly moving to tune and making the birds hush in revered silence when they open their mouths. My music teacher in school thought I had a pleasant singing voice and she endeavoured to get me to take music seriously. I did; I still enjoy singing in the shower. Once, during auditions for an annual school function back in Grade 3, the dance teacher pointedly asked me to “try out for the march-past rehearsals instead”. I cried for a whole hour. Continue reading →
Watch out, folks. Mobile phones are taking over our world. Our life. Everything that used to be pure and sweet.
I see people sending messages on WhatsApp in the movie theatre—a place they are supposed to immerse themselves in what’s transpiring on the big screen in front. They are incognizant not only of how they are wasting their ticket money but also of how their illuminated screens are spoiling the experience for others. “Are you watching this film for the first time?” That was what someone asked me when I requested them to turn off their screen. Are you guys habitual repeat watchers of movies in theatres? Have I been living under a rock? Continue reading →
In my professional capacity as Editor, I have worked with a fair number of writers: in-house, freelancers, agencies. I have fought over word counts, especially with the last two on that list. Some writers send in desperately forced 500-word-pieces to meet their targets; at least 200 words are mere fluff. In the health and wellness space, there are two “fluff” pointers that I’ve seen many writers champion.
- Get enough sleep
- Eat fresh vegetables and fruits
Ah, the miracles of rest and fresh produce. There isn’t much that they cannot cure, it seems, from stomach problems and skin conditions to quarrels with your husband and coming to terms with the loss of your pet.
Thanks to recent communication from the Indian Ministry of Health, I’ve discovered yet another superpower these two goodies have: curing depression.
Here’s how it works: If you are depressed or going through a “period of low mood”, don’t fret. Don’t listen to all those know-it-alls who recommend you talk to a loved one or a therapist. Don’t give it any more importance than you would to a sad evening when you’re upset because you ran out of cookies.
All you need to do is sleep for eight hours and eat fruits.
Check out, if you haven’t already, this insightful poster the Ministry recently shared on its Twitter handle.
Continue reading →
It’s unlike me to propagate life-changing advice. I usually turn up my nose at anyone who does, for come on, everyone has a life that is diametrically different from yours, unique in a manner unknowable by a generic life-coach.
But then, I am not a life-coach. I am only someone who has recently picked up a habit and is all aglow with its miraculous power.
Here it is: Continue reading →
Tomorrow, I will wake up before the sun.
I will make myself a cup of steaming, fragrant coffee and drink it sitting on the balcony, listening to the early risers among the birds. I will let my mind fill with beautiful thoughts about the dawn clouds, a little blue, a little white, just like human existence. I will have a whole hour or two to myself before I need to delve into the sweaty, rushed world of making breakfast, getting ready for work, and hoping I could instead lounge in my armchair, reading the eager book sitting on my bedside table. Continue reading →
It is becoming increasingly difficult to feel quiet. To cherish and celebrate quiet. Everywhere I look, the world is getting noisier, and an acceptance of the fact that some people might like to keep to themselves is thinning every second. Continue reading →