Saturday, 24 January 2009

Tu Cheez Badi hai Mast Mast

Don't get thrown off by the title of the post...It isn't about Raveena Tandon..the forgotten Bollywood Actress...Its about A-la Maid or Au-pair.

If you still haven't figured it out, let me elaborate. Its about Maids and Domestic Helpers in India (Calling them servants is considered politically incorrect in today's world).

I have had a love hate relationship with this breed since I took the reins of running our household. Thankfully I never had to deal with them immediately after my marriage since MIL was handling that headache.

Better Half (BH) was being transferred and promoted with precision every year and so I like a dutiful wife followed him to the corners of India. This brought me in contact with the domestic worker breed from various places. Even if the language and custom changes with every area the personality of this breed remains constant wherever you will go.

They are people you cant live without. They are a topic of discussion between womenfriends and neighbours and are ranked even higher than all other favourite topics like Rising costs, gossiping about relatives and many such others.. In todays world we can't live without them...

I had my share of good, bad and ugly kinds with some languising in the non commentable category since my communication with them lasted in Monosyllables.

The good ones made my life very easy...I had one maid in Baroda who arrived so precisely at 6.30 am each day that I never had to set my alarm, she was quick with her work and polite with her tongue and someone whom I will always remember.

Another good one was named Lata in Pune..she became more of a friend than a maid...her sheer grit and determination of bringing up 2 young children single handedly whilst hiding from her drunkard husband who frequently beat her up really made me respect her a lot. She could speak broken english and her honesty was always admired by many people she worked for.

As always the list of bad and ugly is longer. Falling into that category is a maid who lived with me. Her parents were nice people and so looking at them I hired her. She cooked really well and worked hard...but her only drawback was that she fell into wrong company of other maids and got carried away. And a couple of others I had to give the boot just because I got suspicious after my house got burgled twice and I lost quite a few of my prized possessions.

With our life becoming faster and with more and more women joining the workforce, the domestic help has become one of our most valuable asset at home. Most of us beg, cajole and even revert to emotional blackmail with them to keep our work life balance. They are an anchor of sanity at home when we are rushing off to our jobs and careers.

Here in UK, the concept of domestic helper is no longer viable option in terms of cost. Also with people friendly gadgets who do most of the work, this breed which actually was much in demand in earlier times has become nearly extinct.

Inspite of my good and bitter experiences with them I am glad I do not have to depend on them now. Life is much more simpler and with life not so rushed as in India, the domestic chores are a minor blip on my radar.

Friday, 23 January 2009


I have recently purchased a pair of boots after searching for months together since, I am really finicky about the heels and by the way did I mention that they were on 'SALE'. A sale sign is like a flame which draws moths like me to it. I am sure women will identify with what I am saying.

All around me fair damsels of all ages were foraging through the shoes on Sale checking out the highest possible heels. Some were even as high as a length of 'Apsara' Pencil and equally thin.

It has always been a mystery to me as how do people really manage to walk in those heels. I remember during my school days a girl wearing too high heels usually came from a well to do family with an access for choosing her own shoes. In my case my sister and I were herded by our pater to a all too familiar shoe shop in the Bazaar and were given a capped budget. Any chance of going overbudget died its own death when our father gave a withering look and we hurried on to buy something else. Not that he did not pamper us but I failed to understand his budgeting rules at that time.

Here in Lancaster every morning on my way to work I see smartly dressed women wearing pointed heels and walking briskly...I am so jealous of them since I cannot mention High heels and walking briskly in the same sentence leave alone actually doing it .How do they manage it??
I believe some women are genetically programmed to wear high heels and mere mortals like are left in awe. The high heels erstwhile called as Stilletos (named after a Stileto Knife) look more like a weapon to me rather than shoes. I have had many a daydreams wherein I am walking gracefully in them without having a single mishap. Dont forget the daydream part.

Its not that I do not have a pair of heels but I just sneak into them when there is not much walking involved and also when am sure my feet will be free of them in a few hours. Even in that short period I am inwardly praying "God let me not break an ankle today" or " Dear God I think I stabbed someones Feet just now" and "Oh God My husband is unnaturally red right now......I think I just stepped on his foot'.

I got enamoured by heels after watching 'Sex and the City'. Carrie Bradshaw sure did have a shoe fetish....her Manolo Blahniks were a dream. Dont forget 'Imelda Marcos' the lady who collected so many designer shoes that now they have opened a Museum of her Shoes. What is it with Women and Shoes?? Our X chromosome somehow makes us crave for things which men cannot fathom.

The shoe designer 'Christian Louboutin! completely understands our perspective when he says
"I like women to see my shoes as objects of beauty, as gems outside the realm of fashion, with their own universe. Shoes are not an accessory; they're an attribute. With Louboutin's and a pair of jeans or an evening gown, you're dressed,"

Ah Shoes Glorious Shoes!!!!!!!

Thursday, 22 January 2009

'Gran Torino' is Grand

I came upon the movie 'Gran Torino' by chance and decided to watch it just because it was directed by Clint Eastwood aka 'Dirty Harry'. I had recently watched 'Changeling' another movie directed by him and had been really impressed with it.

The movie starts of with Grumpy old Clint ( Walt Kowalski) at his wife's funeral. It seems he is angry with the world. I was a bit reluctant to go on but with the want of nothing better to do on a Sunday afternoon I decided to continue. The film starts at a very slow pace and people who lack patience will start fidgeting to see a codgy old man slurring racially tinged epithets and in general angry with the himself and the world.

First 30 mins and I was hooked. My better half who can master the art of 'snoring away to glory' in superb movies like 'Lord of the Rings was glued to the screen as well.

The film is set in Detroit and 'Walt' a retired automotive worker lives in a immigrant dominated neighbourhood. His neighbours are a 'Hmong ' family with Thao and Sue as brother and sister living with their mother and Grandmother. Walt looks down upon his neighbours since they are asians but eventually befriends them and takes Thao under his wing to make a Man out of him.

The film also depicts the changing face of America, with gang wars and the innocent people caught in it. The film has some funny moments even though they are peppered with Racist comments, it does not come out as hateful.

The slow change in Walt's attitude towards his neighbours...and receiving the same love and respect from them is what makes the movie great. Throughout his life 'Walt' could not become close to his sons and rejected religion and carried the burdens of the Korean War and the people he killed there. The sudden outpouring of kindness from his neighbours because he defended them from Hmong and Hispanic Gangs evokes a sudden change in his attitude and he finally confesses to a 'Padre,' who keeps popping in the film numerous times about his pain and that he was not able to be close to his sons.

The Car 'Gran Torino' is a symbol of his memories which 'Walt' wants to hold on to and finds it difficult to accept change. Clint Eastwood comes back as a action hero and looks credible even at the age of 78 and his toughness is more verbal than physical and makes it pretty realistic.

The high point of the movie is the end... which I dont want to spoil for people who haven't watched it yet. Also do wait and listen to the song 'Gran Torino' which is on when the credits roll in (You can hear it here)....It is one of the most hauntingly melodius song I've heard in a long time. It is written and sung by Clint.

I am disappointed that the movie has not garnered even one Oscar Nomination. I would recommend watching this movie and am sure it will change your perspective on a lot of things in Life.

Hats off Clint Eastwood for making such a wonderful movie and hope that you make some more like these.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Farewell to a Tumultuous Year

Whew!!! one more year gone....seems like the older you grow the faster the days go by....

In retrospect, the year has been one of the most chaotic and enriching at the same time.

It was year of making new friends, losing a few, finding long lost friends, going nearly broke, starting a blog and growing tougher.

It was also year of strengthening of marital bond between Moi and better half....

It must be the first time in my life that I am taking stock of 365 days spent on this planet. Maybe am getting wiser-( I can already hear a lot of cackles from Hubby dear, Harya and Sush....)

I made friends from across the globe....which was an eyeopener in terms of cultures and language. Even got a chance to make weird hand getsures to communicate with friends from the far east (Most of them can't understand our accent and we theirs). Got used to the sexy British accent (believe me its not even close to what you hear on BBC) where money is pronounced as muny and Bus is Boos (Got the picture) and completely bizarre scottish accent which makes you doubt your grasp on English. Living in India I never would have gotten a chance to know so many things since we are so wrapped up in our own little world's there.

I also completed a year at my first job in UK...yipeeeee. And found a long lost friend in Glasgow (This is for u Sushmita) who has helped me cope through difficult times with her sunny personality and words of encouragement. Hubby darlin graduated and became a double MBA (Me the proud wifey). We got a 3 years Visa for UK and moved into a cosy apartment in town. Travelled quite a bit across the country and have played host to endless number of friends who needed a roof over their head.

I had my downs too....some friendships got strained...(I have still not been able to understand the reason) and my emotional heart took a beating. It also toughened me up and changed my perspective about friendships. Also came to a stage where we were nearly broke....but things improved and have stabilised now (Its a scary experience to be broke in a foreign country).

All in all it was a great year personally, inspite of its ups and downs and I look forward to having even richer experiences in this New Year.

The Award goes to....

Hello Everyone I would like to award the Brilliante Weblog Premio Award to 'Cynic in Wonderland'.

I simply love the way she writes and every post is superb.....everytime I read her blog...I am laughing my head off...Keep up the good work...

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

"Can I be your Friend ?" Syndrome

Too much connectivity with people can sometimes prove to be irksome...with the launch of social networking sites it has become more and more easier to be connected to people with a click of a button.

Friends of friends suddenly want to know whats new in your life....people whom you have not seen in like a decade suddenly come back in your life, which is good most of the times.

I have heard so many of my friends complaining that they frequently get messages like 'Will you accept my friendship?" or " I would like to be your friend" from people trawling the webworld looking for cheap thrills.

Same is the case with online Chats...... I am a chataholic who likes to chat with friends back home.That is my only link to India and people since, I am a lone worker at both the places I work and I crave conversation to break the monotony.

Somehow (I could never figure this out) but some of my orkut contacts got added to my Gmail chat list and people whom I had added on Orkut for some inane reason could see me online and chat with me on such contact used to chat with me very infrequently with typical Hello's and Hi conversation.

Few days back this contact was online and the chat started off normally ,l I assumed the conversation will ebb as usual but I was mistaken. He started getting real personal and asking me questions about when I plan to have childrenand blah blah blah ....which kinda put me off balance... my immediate reaction was anger...but I gave an excuse of loads of work and logged off...

What is with people and boundaries??? Do they never understand the word - chat etiquettes or rather online behaviour....just because we cannot see each other physically does not mean to just ignore boundaries and limitations in conversations.

Dont forget you creeps and despos....that such a kind of thing will come back and bite you in the ass so, grow up!!!

Thursday, 8 January 2009

'Defiance' - A story about leadership and courage

I have recently been reading quite a bit about 'holocaust' - which refers to the extermination of Jews by Nazis during the 2nd World War. It started with the book 'Schindlers List' on which the famous movie was based. Then I read a book called 'I escaped from Auschwitz' written by Rudolf Vrba who escaped from Auschwitz with his friend Alfred Wetzler and informed allies about the Mass Murder taking place in the concentration camp. The 32 page detailed information which which they dicatated to horrified Jewish Officials in Slovakia came to be known as the Vrba-Wetzler Report.

Yesterday I saw the movie 'Defiance' based on a true story starring Daniel Craig. It is about four Jewish brothers who escaped from their Nazi Occupied Village in West Belarus in Poland and joined the soviet partisans to fight the Nazis. The brothers rescue around 1200 Jews from the ghettos in Poland.

The movie shows the courage and determination of people who want to live and die like free human beings against all odds.You can find more about 'Defiance' here.

Both Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber have acted superbly. The ego clashes amongst them and their own beliefs in justice seperate them, though they both believe in the same goal of not dying at the hands of Nazis.

After watching numerous movies about the holocaust in which people were slaughtered like animals it was a welcome change to see that there were also people who escaped and did fight the Nazis. They were not helpless individuals but rather men and women who took up weapons to save their own lives.

Even though the movie has some controversies attached to it. I would give a thumbs up to the director for giving us a different perspective of those difficult times.

I would recommend watching this movie and salute the Bielski brothers for their acts of courage.

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