Thursday, December 31, 2009

Stock Taking : 2009

2009 hasn’t been Annus Horribilis for me, neither has it been Annus Mirabilis. It’s been an OK year. A year where you took some good with some bad. Lost some battles and won some. Improved in some areas you wanted desperately to improve on, and maintained status quo in some others.

So how am I better at the end of 2009 vs the beginning?

To begin with, I am fitter and more physically active than I was a year ago. It has involved many MANY loathed painful hours on the treadmill (I love gymming but I hate the treadmill), major cutting down on chocolates, brownies, cheesecakes and such like, a round of the GM diet, and carbohydrate-free dinners. But it has been every bit worth it. At the same time, I have come to terms with the fact that I’m a foodie, and resistance to food is futile and leads to depravation, cravings and over-indulgence. Therefore, I now eat whatever I feel like but in measured proportions. I avoid having desserts after dinner, preferring them to have sometime during the day instead if I must have them. I keep chocolates, pizzas and pasta for days when I’m really them. When eating out, I try to order healthy. For instance, I choose pasta in red sauce instead of cheese sauce. When I’m out eating Indian, I focus on the kebabs rather than the main dish. I choose brown bread over Parmesan Oregano at Subway (all bread tastes the same really!) And I’d like to believe, all this is making a difference.

I shop less and have cut down on impulse purchases significantly. I think I bought only 2 bags all of this year, no shoes that I can think of, and I’ve gone for months without buying clothes! Which, if you ask me is nothing short of miraculous. I now don’t go shopping just because I’m bored on a weekend. I’ve restricted my shopping to when I NEED to buy something or am feeling terribly low & depressed and need the kind of pick-me-up that brownies & cheesecakes can’t provide. (It helps, of course, if you become so fat that you’ve stopped fitting into clothes of any size, heels of stilettos crack under your weight, and no bags, no matter how over-sized, can help you achieve the I’m-not-fat-just-pleasantly-plump look).

And the biggest achievement of all, I have stopped using my credit card. Completely. I now spend only as much as I can fund at that moment (Serendipity, please clap for me!)

As a result of which, my savings are in better shape than they were a year ago. Yup, I’m finally learning the art of saving for a rainy day, and know what? Saving is not impossible or dreadfully difficult. It’s just a little bit challenging and can be mastered with a bit of self-control, which as we all know is a very rare and precious trait in women. So if you have a wife/girlfriend who isn’t a spendthrift, please fall at her feet RIGHT NOW.

My dressing sense has improved thanks to The Boy. Earlier, I wore clothes I liked irrespective of whether they flattered my body type. As regular readers of this blog may know, thanks to my constant cribbing about weight issues and my obsession with losing weight, I’m not reed thin. No scratch that. I’m fat as a cow….at least a piglet in any case….a potato in the least. And now I really understand my body type. I know which clothes suit me and which don’t. I know which parts of my body I should highlight and which I need to camouflage. My color palette too has moved from pink, bright yellow, bright blue and the likes to more warm and earthy colors like olive green, brown, deep purple, burnt orange, dull red, dark grey etc., with a couple of pinks & yellows thrown in occasionally.

Through 2009, I became completely indifferent towards a person I once felt tremendously wronged by. I don’t know if I’ve forgiven him entirely for what he did, or whether I will ever be able to do so, but as of now, he hardly exists for me.

I learnt a new language - Bengali!!

I have stopped comparing my life to those of others and wondering why the bad stuff happens only to me. I’ve realized that everyone has to deal with their own share of problems and I have no clue what another person’s problems are! What I AM sure about is that there’s a whole lot of misery and suffering in the world. There are millions of people whose are much worse off than I am. And I’m going to be thankful for the family, friends, opportunities, health and resources (financial & non-financial) that I’ve had and continue to have.

Still, there are number of improvements I need to bring about in my life. Since psychologists have already declared that New Year’s resolutions are doomed for failure, I abstain from calling them my resolutions for 2010.

I will visit my parents at least twice in 2010. Once a year is not what they deserve.

I’ll refrain from commenting on people and their actions until I’m sure I know them well enough. When did I lose my older non-judgmental self?

I’ll lose the remaining 5kgs, preferably 7. And then we’ll have a big fat cheesecake party…hallelujah!!

I will I will I will cut down on eating out.

I will become more regular at the gym. Regular as in 4-5 times a week, not 4-5 times a year.

I will make a budget every month and stick to it.

I’ll invest more.

I’m going to build on my patience. Right now it’s at zero.

I’ll get angry less often. I’ll try not to get angry at stupid people. I’ll try not to get angry when things don’t go my way. I’ll try not to get angry when things aren’t done the way I want them to be done.

I will walk more. A 10 minute walking distance is not reason enough to hop into a cab.

I’ll give more.

I’ll extend the understanding that I demonstrate towards my friends and acquaintances to The Boy and my parents.

I will write that goddamn book!!

I will get a better grip on my hypochondria.

I’ll take better care of my possessions rather than letting them take care of themselves - because I’m incredibly lucky to be able to afford all those things. I’ll pay better attention to my home rather than leaving everything to my maid and expecting my mom to be this angel who can foresee all my domestic problems and pre-provide a solution for them.

I’ll crib less about things that aren’t to my liking…because for everything that’s wrong in my life, there are at least ten things that are right.

I’ll love my parents, my sister & The Boy more - and show it through my actions – because they love me far more than I think they do.

So here’s looking at you 2010. Give me the courage to make that move which will start the process of me realizing two of my dreams – traveling through Europe and becoming an entrepreneur in 5 years’ time. And please help me be a better, happier and thinner person.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bringing in 2010

I grew up in the 90s. (Actually I was born in the 80s but I feel “growing up” in the non physical sense of the word really happens once you’ve crossed the 10-year mark. Besides, I recently heard someone in his mid-thirties describe himself as a child of the 80s, so that must surely make me a child of the 90s? :)

So anyway, to compound the fact that I grew up in the 90s was that I grew up in a small town. There were no New Year’s Eve parties that you could buy passes to. Besides, mum & dad didn’t believe in staying awake for the clock to strike 12, so New Year’s Eves generally meant sitting at home and watching the crappy New Year countdown shows on television with my sister. You know the ones where they’d get Bollywood starlets to perform and you’d really look forward to them as you'd have nothing better to look forward to?

Then came the US where there was no concept of exorbitantly priced New Year’s parties. (Thankfully, some countries in the world still believe in the right of every human to enjoy life irrespective of how much $$$ he makes!)

So New Years would be ushered in with friends, alcohol and loads of laughter & hugging each other.

And then came Bombay and it's New Year party culture that could set you back by a few grand easily, for a couple of hours of what was supposed to be fun but inevitably ended up being a disaster - the organizers would run out of food way early, there’d be drunken people all around you, falling over you, stepping on your toes, even throwing up all over you if they really loved your outfit or shoes!

Within a couple of such parties I realized that private parties at friends' places, or having a house party of your own if you were up for the organizing would be a much better way to bring in the New Year. And if hosting a party was way too much, you could always call a few close friends over, order in, curl up on your couch in your pajamas and bringing in the New Year with good food, good wine (or whatever the alcoholic beverage of choice), a great DVD, and loads of laughter & hugging each other.

And guess what, as long as there are friends, food, love, laughter & hugs who cares for exclusive New Year parties!!

How are you bringing in 2010?

Dirty Secrets

Last night when I was waiting on a sidewalk for a friend, I overheard a man talking, rather yelling, on the phone (to his friend I’m assuming) and his girlfriend standing next to him looking all pissed off.

Man : She’s talking nonsense! She’s saying “Why’s your brother’s replacement a girl? If your brother couldn’t go with you, why did you have to go with another girl? Now even I will hang out with boys.”

(The person at the other end must have asked what the big deal was if she hung out with boys, or something to the effect I suppose)

Man : You don’t understand! Knowing her, she’ll probably sleep with all the boys! She only wants to have sex all the time! Even when I’m tired, she keeps saying “let’s have sex”. She will have sex with all of them!

At this point the girl looks mortified, looks around at the people who’ve begun staring at her & walks off.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Avatar and on to Christmas with Family

The reason I’m not doing a full-fledged post on Avatar is because I didn’t like it. It was painfully long, boring, and the last 45 minutes or so were very Bollywoodish – one man taking on & defeating an entire army of villains, a miniscule clan armed with bows & arrows taking on the might of a humungous army with the most sophisticated weapons at its disposal & winning, and all that. I feel the movie is way over-hyped, and if rumors that James Cameron spent ten years making this movie are true, then well, I think those ten years were a waste for a good part. Because the special effects were all that the movie had to offer, to me at least.

Christmas was spent with family. It was a last minute decision to travel home, and I’m so glad I did. It had been more than a year since I last visited my parents (though they kept visiting me every 2-3 months, individually if not always together) and this trip made me feel terrible about being such an inattentive daughter to my parents. The three days that I was home, their entire lives revolved around me. Feeding me to the gills with all my favorite food (so what’s new with Indian moms?), making sure my every need was taken care of without me having to move an inch, making sure I was warm and my throat protected at all times, given that the temperature dipped to 6-7 degrees at night & hovered around 15-16 degrees at mid-day and my throat being exceptionally vulnerable to the cold.

Sometimes, it’s only when you spend time with your parents that you realize how much you mean to them, that they’re possibly the only people in the whole world who love you unconditionally and without expectations of being loved the same amount in return, how it’s always OK that you couldn’t do something that they’d requested you to do for them, and how even a short periodic visit by you can light up their lives. Parents really are mind-blowing people and mine never get their due from me, I know, because of the sheer fact that I must live in a different city than them. They want me to be back for Holi and I’m already scouting for tickets.

In the meantime, thanks Mum for the amazing gajar ka halwa (made with full cream milk, condensed milk, ghee, cashews & raisins :) and the plum cake. And thanks Dad for taking the trouble to dress up, complete with a blazer, to come pick me up from the airport.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

So I've Been Gorging on Plum Cakes

Between Friday & yesterday (Monday), I finished half a kg of plum cake all by myself. “Rich” plum cake to be precise. And promptly went and bought another half kg to tide me over till Christmas!!

Did I mention I’m trying to lose weight?

Oh well, I’m having myself a merry little Christmas right now.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Who's the Boss?

Remember the show about Tony Micelli, the housekeeper, Angela Bower, the career woman, their kids Samantha Micelli & Jonathan Bower, and Mona, Angela’s boy crazy mother?

Angela was an up-tight and work-obsessed career woman, her son Jonathan was quiet & shy, and her crazy free-spirited mother, Mona, was obsessed with men!! Enter Tony Micelli (Tony Danza) and his daughter Samantha. Tony, an ex-major league baseball player joins Angela’s family as a live-in housekeeper, and wins the family over with his easy-going attitude, his penchant for fun and his disarming smile. Soon there’s a romance blossoming between Angela & Tony among household banter and loads of laughter.

I'm a big fan of 'Who's the Boss?' It used to be aired at 6.30pm (or was it 6?) on weekdays and I’d watch it religiously. I was in school then (I’m an 80s baby :)

It was such a funny show! The best part was the chemistry between Tony Danza & Judith Light. It was brilliant! The sexual tension between them was palpable. And Mona was simply hilarious!

There were a couple of conventions that the show went against. For one, the role reversal - male live-in housekeeper working for a career oriented woman - was new for the 80s. Secondly, Angela’s mother, Mona was shown to be a sexually progressive woman. She was boy crazy and had an active sex life – she dated men across age groups, from college kids to men in their 50s! Such a female character was quite unusual for 80s television.

The show was laden with laughter and peppered with feel-good moments. Yet I feel it never got its due :(

Friday, December 18, 2009

Rich & Sexy

I want to be RICH and SEXY. I don’t want to be famous because I love my freedom to do the simple things in life, such as walking down the street, hanging out at coffee shops, walking into any store/restaurant without getting mobbed etc. way too much to give it up.

But I would LOVE to be rich so I can travel across the world without worrying about whether I have enough $$$ in my bank account, shop as much as I want to without having to worry about going broke, and live in the house of my dreams. In that order.

And I would love to be sexy so I can slip into any dress without having to worry about whether it would fit me, look smoldering in sexy lingerie, wear the sexiest cleavage revealing tops and the tiniest of skirts, and make heads swoon.

But as of now neither of these looks like it’s happening, so I’ll just sit quietly & plan that mind-blowing trip to Europe that may or may not happen someday, and dig into my hot gooey chocolate walnut brownie.

Shit, I won’t be able to gorge on brownies when I become sexy, right? And I'll have to live on water & sprouts inspite of having all the money in the world. Kinda like movie stars?

Life is such a bitch.

Photo courtesy

Thursday, December 17, 2009


If ever there was a lame attempt to save face, this (below) is it. This article was published in the Economic Times today.


HAAGEN-DAZS probably did not realise that a sign, meant to tempt the Capitals creme-de-la-creme to its premium international quality ice-creams , would instead put it in hot water.

A day before the US brand opened its first outlet at a south Delhi mall, it put up signboards around the area for an exclusive preview for international travellers with the telling rider, Access restricted only to holders of international passports . An Indian, who saw the sign and was turned away from the store, only because of lack of space due to a weekend rush, according to Haagen-Dazs , took a photograph. He emailed it to a TOI blogger; within minutes it had gone around the globe, inciting a hail of protest that left the company red-faced .

An error was made in the creative execution, Anindo Mukherji, MD of General Mills India, which markets the brand here, told ET, adding more precisely, It was a wrong choice of words, and we regret the error.

As there are no such things as national passports they are after all used only for international travel it was apparent that international was used as another word for foreign . And since the booklets only use once the holder clears an airport immigration counter is a proof of nationality , the clear implication was that only foreigners would be allowed for the preview . It was not, however, intended to be a case of reworking the old British sign, Dogs and Indians not allowed .

No one was turned away because of nationality, insisted Arindam Haldar, director, Haagen-Dazs . I was present on all days. If people were refused entry momentarily, it was only due to overcrowding as there was a rush.

Obviously, Haagen Dazs is here to tap the Indian market, not keep it out, but the words of the teaser campaign left the company vulnerable to the charge of apartheid. And it was compounded by the very poor choice of words by TBWA, the agency that did the teaser campaign.

Upon sustained queries to company officials about the intention of the campaign, it emerged that what Haagen-Dazs really wanted to convey was, Now get a taste of abroad right here in India . But by preferring several long words that are liable to be misinterpreted instead of short, clear ones, they ended up generating a lot of heat: something ice-cream brands, in particular, should steer clear of, if they dont want their market to melt away, thanks to offended sensibilities. Especially, since it plans to open 30 to 40 outlets in the next few years.


Let met tell you my issues with this argument:

  1. There are no such things as "national" or "international" passports. However, when one says "international passport holders", one generally means people who hold passports of countries other than the base country. Therefore, if you're in India and you're referring to "international passport holders", you are indeed referring to foreigners/non-Indian passport holders. This isn't rocket science, really.
  2. Phrases such as "Exclusive preview for international travelers" & "Access restricted only to holders of international passports" does by NO means imply "Get a taste of abroad right here in India". Not by a long shot. The only thing it implies is that Indian passport holders are not allowed in! Who are those guys over at Haagen Dazs kidding? Do they really think Indians are so dumb?
  3. Haagen Dazs has conveniently shifted the blame on to their advertizing agency, TBWA, saying that they chose a wrong set of words, but didn't anyone at the ice-cream company care to check what the agency had come up with & what was finally going out in the market?
Well, guess what...I'm not buying their explanation. Not one bit of it. It's lame and retarded and a desperate attempt to get the egg off their face. And I doubt any self-respecting Indian will buy it either.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Say It Isn't So, Haagen Dazs!

Haagen Dasz is one of the creamiest ice-creams in the world (thanks to its high butterfat content!!) With flavors such as almond hazelnut swirl, baileys irish cream, butter pecan, chocolate peanut butter, cookies & cream, macadamia nut brittle etc. they have you salivating across their stores.

It’s a super-premium brand, a couple of scoops of which can set you back by a few hundred rupees but every single bite you take will be worth your money. I love Haagen Dasz ice-cream. Therefore, I was shocked to read that Indians were not allowed at their first retail store in Delhi!!!!!

The store in Saket, New Delhi put up a sign saying : “Exclusive Preview only for International Travelers. Access restricted only to holders of international passports.”

This is for real, people. And it’s shocking not to mention outrageous. I wonder which idiot advised the company to adopt such a ridiculous policy, or whether General Mills, the conglomerate that owns Haagen Dasz, knows of this in the first place!

This is a direct hark back to the British Raj when “Indians & dogs” weren’t allowed inside restaurants and other “white” places. What’s even more disturbing is the fact that the franchise owner is an Indian from Delhi. Since the news leaked out, he’s taken the sign off and even insists there was no such sign in the first place, but the picture above proves otherwise. The man who took it, an Indian & a friend of The Times of India’s Rajesh Kalra, wasn’t allowed to enter the store inspite of being an international passport holder because he’s an Indian. So essentially this store was denying entry to everyone of Indian origin!

I can’t fathom what exactly Haagen Dazs was trying to convey through such a policy – that Indians are not worthy enough to be the first patrons of their store in India? That we can’t afford their ice-creams? Well, in that case the company should take their business elsewhere, should they not? Or that Indians will blindly lap up any product that has been endorsed by foreigners?

What would be the correct response on our part as a nation? Would a public apology from Haagen Dasz be enough, or should the company not be allowed to do business in India at all? The second option would mean a loss for Indian consumers – because Haagen Dasz ice-creams ARE heavenly - but then the company HAS adopted a racist approach by looking down at Indians as people who can’t afford their products or people who are still reeling under slave mentality and think a product that is endorsed by foreigners will surely be good. Should we as Indians encourage such a company to flourish on our land?

It would be very comforting to know that it's not the company Haagen Dazs that came up with such a policy but a stray Indian who tried to play on the racial insecurities of an entire nation that was once a victim of racism.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I Need a New Winter Wardrobe

Let me explain why.

Once upon a time I lived in a land far away where winters meant sub-zero temperatures, wind that was so chilly it would turn the tip of your nose red, snow, turtle neck tops, sweaters, jackets, woolen socks, caps & gloves!

Then I moved to a land much nearer home (a.k.a. Mumbai) where 20 degrees Celsius (approx. 70 F) was considered the thick of winter! The turtle necks, sweaters, jackets and the likes I had so lovingly bought in the land far away were permanently relegated to the dark recesses of the cupboard, only to be brought out for an airing once every November in the hope that temperatures would dip to a level that would justify putting them on without getting certified a freak of nature, and would promptly be sent back to the recesses they were pulled out of after the airing. To be brought out again next November.

Now I’m in a place where I can wear at least one of them at a time – turtle necks OR sweaters OR jackets. When I took them out for airing this past November, it struck me that they have suffered the ravages of time. They have faded & started looking really old. Not to mention most of them cannot accommodate a permanently expanding body anymore!

So, I went shopping for winter clothes with The Boy.

Mistake 1. Never go shopping with a boy when you’re having “weight management issues”. The clothes he will pick out for you will be incredibly sexy but you will not fit into any of them. They will make the tyres on your stomach look like the safety tube you wear around your waist when you’re leaning how to swim!! Not only will you end up miserable because you didn’t fit into any of the nice clothes around, the boy will never let you hear the end of it. He will poke and grab and pull every tyre around your waist till you are feeling positively shitty about yourself.

Mistake 2 – Don’t pretend you will fit into any sexy outfit the boy picks out for you and attempt to try it on in his presence. You will only end up embarrassed and imploring Mother Earth to open up and swallow you whole right then, given that The Boy’s girth is half that of yours and he fits into, AND looks amazing, in anything HE tries on!

The most intelligent course of action in such a scenario would be to pretend you don’t like the sexy clothes he's picked out for you, and that your taste in clothes is much more evolved and sophisticated than THAT. And then suggest you go eat something instead since all that hunting around for clothes has left you famished. Boys are sensible creatures you know…they will never stop you from eating (within limits, of course) as long as you promise them you’ll take yourself to the nearest gym and pledge a lifetime of emptying out your wallet and Swiss bank accounts to get yourself tortured.

Whether you end up dragging yourself to the gym later won't matter. Sensible boys can also be distracted easily ;-)

Cashmere Boyfriend Sweater - Gap, $98

Cashmere Shawl Popover - J. Crew, $129.99

Cowl Neck Sweater Dress - Banana Republic, $98

Puffed Vest - Gap, $49.99

Cropped Trenchcoat - Gap, $79.50

Mid-length Trench Coat - Gap, $88

Wool Trenchcoat - Banana Republic, $230

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It Happens Only in Kolkata

Setting: A Bengali wedding

Music being played: Bong songs. Followed by Bhojpuri songs (!!) Followed by Daler Mehndi. This cycle is repeated umpteen times & is interspersed with ‘Braaa-zeeel la la la la la la la la…la la la la la la la la…Brazil”

Football anthem? At a wedding??

Once again, I bow to the unbelievable species called Bengalis. There is no one else like them.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Is what I am right now.

I'm tired & sore from all that working out over the weekend (went back to gym after 5 months!!). Woke up at 6.30 this morning & couldn’t go back to sleep. Now, my eyelids feel like they’re made of lead. Aaaarghhhhh!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Birthday Wishes

To my rock. My own personal Superman! My big bottle of happiness. The brightest star in my sky. The most caring person ever.

And my rockstar girlfriend. My sister. My partner in crime (think brownies, cheesecakes & all things sinful). My home away from home. The most loving woman ever.

Happy Birthday to you both.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wedding Bells


Not mine.

But people around me are getting married like it's soon going to go out of fashion! There is a line-up of weddings in December & January. All fairly close people which means I need to show up at more than one function (the wedding), and I have a grave problem at hand…I don’t have enough Indian party wear! Heck, I don’t have enough Indian wear in the first place except sarees, which in my perpetual state of “healthiness” and my terrible draping skills, make me look like a freshly-fed cow!!

The thing is I don’t buy salwar kameezes for myself except for a kurti here or there, for work purpose, that I dunk over a white churidaar. Usually. Most of my salwar kameez shopping is done by my mom. She just buys a bunch of suit pieces, and my sister & I choose the ones we like when we’re home or when she comes over. Like most Indian moms, she has an amazing rapport with shop keepers who gladly take the rejects back.

The problem is most tailors don’t do a good job with party wear. In any case, you’d like to have some embroidery on your party wear, which is outside their realm. So one is left with no choice but to go to designers (boutique owner types) who milk you for all that you’re worth. But then, when you’re resembling a freshly fed cow, you’re not left with too many options.

Gah, I hate the wedding season!!