Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Valentine's Day vs SAD (Single's Awareness Day)

Writing after AGES and hence, let us start with a few confessions first.

- Yes, I was guilty of holding a cynical opinion about blogging at first.
- No, over the past six to seven years, I often debated the idea of starting my own blog and mostly refrained from it, not just because I was badass lazy, but also because of my personal ideological conflict.
- Yes, I am married to this 'veteran blogger' but that never influenced my decision to blog or not to blog.
- Yes, I first felt compelled to write post-marriage, when I had to talk about 'marriage' (okay okay, now you don't have to remind me that my profile reads "India's not-so-well-known feminist"! I know that already!! :P)
- No, I could not blog since I started two years back for a reason that I am not comfortable sharing in this post. I might be comfortable sometime in the future, if you stick around that long with me. :D (Now, did I already lose readership of the curious cats? Mewwwwwww! Aww you are so cute, wild and adorable. Now, please purr?)
- Yes, I am writing about relationships again! Whenever I feel compelled to talk about relationships, my hand itches really bad.

"So ladies and gentlemen, we will be taking off shortly. Please make sure that your seat belt is securely fastened and be aware, we have no emergency security exits. The use of all radio transmitting devices is strictly banned at all times unless you are tuned into '(blah...)FM'. All portable electronic devices such as iPods, computers, cell-phones must be turned off during take off, landing and in between, unless you are listening to us there.
Welcome aboard Weekend Live with Bunty aur Babliiiiiiiiii..!"

This is how we often started our radio show which was aired on the weekend drive time hour of 'the largest South-Asian radio station in North America'. But more than the radio frequency, the important point here is, this was our show. My husband and I used to anchor as RJ Bunty and RJ Babli. We were 'recently married' then. No one on-air knew about our relationship with each other. But being a real-life couple, we had no inhibitions. We made passes at each other. We were humorous and funny. We laughed and sang together; pulled each others' legs. We flaunted our 'boldness'; thoroughly enjoyed our liberty to make flirtatious comments towards each other, our license to encourage a fan's caller's fantasy about ourselves! Everything - 'ON-AIR'. Goes without saying, listeners loved our chemistry. Fan following was clear in the number of calls our show received on or off air. Fan emails! Kind messages! Sponsors lining up! We soon became popular. We had one hell of a time! That is what you'd think.

We were very popular and loved - yes; but in reality, we also had one hell of a time. Errrr.. In the sense of one heck of a time! We were this perfectly sweet fun-loving couple at home. The drive to the station was beautiful if we took the bridge across the bay (read the longer route) avoiding the regular boring freeway (the shorter route). We were always up for such random romantic drives. These, like many others, were things which we always agreed on. So, we cherished the drive on our Audi Cabriolet with the hood open; loved the ride on (flaunting) my hubby's terrifically hot motorcycle to the radio station. But all our fights used to start once we stepped inside the studio. Since we were in an actual relationship, we had high (and often unjust) expectations of each other. So, we often quarreled over the 'fun-topic' (yes, we used to have one on each show for discussion with the listeners); you speak slow / you're too fast; you talk too much / you don't let me talk / you don't talk; your song / my song; you start / I start; you take the first call / I take; to have a script or no-script; etc. This used to go on all the time! On-air we were this cool relaxed lovey-dovey co-RJs but off air (mostly when we played songs or ads) we would throw paper balls, empty water bottles, cellphones, wallets etc. at each other (in a very serious manner, to fight). The topic of fight was always such trivial and silly, that we normally would not have fought over, if we had any other co-RJ and not a life partner hosting the show together. Thankfully, we used to take care of the board-ops ourselves during our shows and we mostly interviewed our sponsors over the phone. And during the 6 mins we had to interview an advertiser live in our studio, we behaved ourselves. In case if ever any doubt arose, the guest might have assumed: 'oh he flirts with her (or the listeners) all the time! RJ Babli (the decent single lady) must be showing him some attitude - that's all'! :P So, we were never caught red handed.

Years later, the hubby became busier in his career. We stopped doing the show together (for several unrelated reasons whatsoever - may be a separate blog post for that) and a weekday drive time show was offered to RJ Babli alone. We said we will miss each other on radio and all, but we (well, at least I) actually breathed a huge sigh of relief. Oh now we have one less thing to fight over!

When I started doing the show in reality I realized what missing him really meant. How much I missed those moments; how much I missed his pathetic PJs; or how much having him on my show really meant to me. Listeners often called and said I was brilliant but they missed the Bunty aur Babli chemistry. I don't blame them. The show lacked it's magic. RJ Babli was still bubbly, sweet and pleasing but she lacked her USP. She was missing her weirdness, unpredictability, fun and natural humor that he could successfully encourage in her, perhaps unknowingly!

No, I do not have the show any more. But I am really blessed to have him in my life.

And here speaks "India's not-so-well-known feminist", thank you, stupida! Now should I say wish you a very happy valentine's day too?! :)

Monday, March 19, 2012

It's a li'l fishy!

Well, it's a li'l fishy because two other li'l artists of Color Hut have created these beautiful underwater fish and have declared something like "my fishy is the best fishy in the whole world"! These paintings are really beautiful and very vibrant in color, depicting the true 'self' of the artists themselves. Both of these painters belong to different batches because of their age group but they painted so beautifully that their paintings have got to be the 'painting of the week'!

This is painted by a very cute artist who is 4+ yrs old and she simply 'loves to play with colors'!

And this is painted by a 7 yrs old 'princess', who giggles joyfully and sings along all the carols she learnt in her school, while painting in my art class.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Happy Monarch

And here goes a very happy (Monarch) butterfly by two amazing artists! They have painted this butterfly with some basic shapes that they learnt, and also with a lot of excitement to capture the flying Monarch in the pages of their art copy.

Artists' profile: One is four and a half yrs old; and the other one is nine! The younger one is passionate about the color 'pink' and painting, while the elder one is eually interested in cars and Karate, along with 'art'.
These young artists are really eager to know your 'review' of their painting. So, please be generous with your comments :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Climax (Bittersweet Chocolate Cake)

From when does baking a luscious chocolate cake need any excuse?? And in case if the chocolate cake is also one of the healthiest versions of the breed you can find on earth, would you still need an excuse to bake it or at least gulp it down? What if I assure you that it is one of the simplest recipes to bake too? Hypothetically speaking, you are one of the most logical rational beings on the planet who does not do anything without a 'reason'. Well, although I am not clairvoyant, I can already see your Monday blues turning chocolatey as and when you mix the ingredients on your bowl, make the batter for the cake, pour it on the baking pan and eagerly wait for the hot cake to be ready to serve or rather, gulp-gulp!

I call it the Climax (Bittersweet Chocolate Cake)!!

Magic Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour or 'maida'
3 large eggs
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (I used semisweet)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup boiling water
2 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Baking the Climax (the cake, I mean):
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Line bottom of 9-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides with waxed paper, or lightly butter bottom and sides of pan, or, lightly spray your vegetable cooking oil (I did this. eeee!) on the bottom and sides of your baking pan. I use a metal baking pan but you can also use the foil trays.

Chop the bittersweet chocolate bars (for quick melting) and place them in a microwave-safe container. Microwave at 'medium' (50%) for 1 minute; stir. If necessary, microwave at MEDIUM an additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, until chocolate is melted and smooth when stirred.

Beat the eggs first. Combine all purpose flour, baking powder, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, vegetable oil, water (in the same order) in a large mixing bowl. Beat at medium speed with electric mixer for 3 minutes, or use your hand/fork and whisk for 10 minutes. Combine the melted chocolate and 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder Stir in chopped walnuts. Pour into prepared pan.
Combine rest of the granulated sugar (1/4 cup), brown sugar and cocoa (2 tbsp) powder in small bowl. Sprinkle over batter. Pour boiling water over all. Do not stir.

Bake 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center halfway to bottom comes out clean. Serve warm with lots of love! Savor! Gulp!

P.S. I did not do any decoration as I was too eager for the first bite. I would suggest you to sift some powdered sugar over the cake and decorate with crispy walnuts, take a picture of your cake and share it here!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sea of poppies

My father has a very interesting collection of books. In there, you will find the complete works of William Shakespeare, Rabindranath Tagore, Will Durant. You will also come across a number of encyclopedias by branch of knowledge. And then there are books by Osho, Autobiography of a Yogi, etc. - he has them all! I consider myself to be the ignoramus illiterate one in the house, and have been able to go through only a salty small insignificant drop in the ocean of knowledge. But that is not our topic of discussion for the day (may be some other day).

My father's collection also had numerous books on painting and photography, which I grew up browsing. One such book had a picture of a field of tulips on its cover that caught my attention right from childhood. The colorful tulips were so vibrant that for a long long time I believed such pigments existed only in books. The garden looked like a rainbow as the red, yellow, white and magenta tulips literally waved as the winds from some celestial land came down to kiss them.

Later, I read that the picture was from the Kuekenhof Tulip Garden of the Netherlands! These fascinating tulips made their Bollywood appearances in movies like 'Silsila' (who can forget the super hit song ‘Dekha Ek Khwaab’ featuring Rekha and Amitabh, both for its enchanting melody and the beautiful tulips in the background). We have also seen them in ‘Hello Brother’ (featuring Salman Khan and Rani Mukherji along with the tulips in the song ‘Teri Chunariya’). Other than the book on my father's shelf and these few Bollywood movies, my only brief encounter with tulips so far has been in Germany.

One fine day, I was amazed to find (what appeared at first glance to be) a field of tulips in the Bay Area... near my very home! However, I realized soon after that these were the California Poppies, the state flower of California. In the crepuscular haze of dusk, the garden looked like a dream. Here is my very own sea of poppies!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Fruits of Marriage

If you ever heard the slogan 'It's better to be single and sad rather than married and miserable', if you always thought that marriage was not your 'cup of tea', if you wondered about the gains of marriage from a true women's point of view, if you never dreamt of marriage from your early teens and had your 'oh my gawd' moments or sleepless nights, if you enjoyed your solitude and never wanted to be two, if you shivered at the very thought of you having to adjust living with a guy (read the typically insensitive, unfashionable, unorganized, unnecessarily overrated breed of human species) post-marriage, if you have been a single and happy woman with your lovely wings spread across the town and beyond, this post is just for you!

And in case you are already married, my deepest sympathies are always with you, and yes, welcome to the club sista! Here I share with you a glimpse of my life story and my two cents of wisdom about marriage and husband!

Few simple reasons why I reconsidered marriage and signed up for it (okay, other than the trust, companionship, emotional security, commitment, eternal love, finding the right one and happily ever after bit) -

To get the occasional foot rub – You don't get professional proficiency here but hey, you don't pay for it either! It all comes with the package! Plus, where else would you get it exactly when you want it the most, may it be by the end of a long, cold and tiring day.

To get customized massage – If you tell me about the spa and massage parlors as alternatives, well, would they be open late in the night and provide the service on your very own bed so that the massage can end in the ultimate relaxation and a rejuvenated state of mind where you sleep in peace, the best sleep you ever had? Very amateur indeed, might not come with fragranced candles, aromatic oils or soothing music that would transcend you to the unfathomable world of pleasure and ecstasy, but it may range from erotic and sensual to a pair of robotic hard stiff hands trying to make sense of 'the art of massage' on your body. This might be so unrelaxing that you may loose the desire to get your next massage for another month or so! So, what is your gain in here? Well, your mind gets so diverted in the process that you forget about the back pain that you ever had!

For some warmth – If nothing else, now you can tuck your freezing toe against his in the night. Disclaimer: you are in trouble if he expects the favor back from you!

For a lot of convenience – Marriage brings you a part-time volunteer chauffeur, an emergency car mechanic and a lifelong technical support if you married an IT engineer. And guess what? He does it all with a lot of 'love' and 'passion', even if not for you but for the 'technology', and anything even vaguely related to technology and engineering!

To stop playing the hard-to-get – Marriage always makes you more attractive to other men! There is no longer any moral obligation to conform to men's hard-to-get fantasy for a woman. Now you are genuinely 'hard to get' for all the men sans your husband.

For the real peace of mind -
Now you can politely refuse having coffee with that super cheesy colleague of yours just by uttering those golden words “I am married, you know!!”, followed by a compelling smile.
You do not any more have those curious aunts poking nose in your love life.
Even if you refuse to share details of your romantic life, your aunts no more worry that you might become a nun!
Those family friends do not spread rumors about your sexual orientation any longer just because you refused to marry their 'all-perfect eligible bachelor' son! Now you have your husband as a silent proof of your real sexual preference.
Suddenly all those 'friends' disappear who kept trying to make you jealous (and in turn bored you to death) with the telesoap-ey romantic stories of their boy friends, fianc├ęs and husbands. Now they know that you too have a husband and you know what exactly does the package come with!

To finally have that witty guy who also laughs at your PJs – Oh yes, dear God, girls have the legal right to be humorous and hilarious as well!

To avail the couple discounts – You no longer need to 'look for' a boy friend or a girl friend to avail couple discounts at the gym, library, dance class, airlines, hotel, costco and so on (and these days there is a couple discount for everything under the sun you may think of).

Gentle reminder: I am speaking from my life experiences and please keep some tissues handy in case if you tend to get very emotional. Now let us talk about a few bonus that a marriage comes with (yes, along with all that is going on in your mind at the moment) -

Increased vocabulary – If you got married to a 'dude' or even a simple guy, he would definitely add up to your slang vocabulary. His contributions in this regard are enormous even if he is the decent one and does not swear at you. He does it at any given opportunity, more like a soliloquy. So, if he misses the traffic signal, if the droid reboots for no reason whatsoever, if the office laptop takes too long a time to boot up, if the phone gets disconnected in the middle of a conversation, if the milk spills over, if he really loves a dialogue in The Big Bang Theory or Two and a Half Men, you get to include a new word into your slang vocabulary.

Consistency in your life – Marriage is a huge commitment. Even if you are humiliated to the infinity, now you can no more break up a relationship just because he is playing angry birds in a 'supposed romantic dinner at a restaurant' with you sitting across the table. You consistently learn to tolerate your sole mate being unmindful in your company and getting engrossed in some birds and pigs killing each other.

You learn new perspectives on men – Now your husband tries to convince you that 'sensitive guys' are always gay or metrosexual; metrosexual men do not get married to a single woman but rather dates the expensive sex workers; all real men love video games.

Now you have a patient listener – So finally you have a true friend who is also a great listener, with whom you can share your day-to-day stories with! Now you have an empathetic listener to share your opinions with! Oh the husband is a great listener as most of the times he puts a deaf ear to whatever you say by default.

You learn to re-purpose your furniture – If you always thought bed is the place for sleeping, doing romance or reading books before you fall asleep, your knowledge was genuinely 'limited'. Bed is also the place for surfing, charging your laptops, phones, and keeping your office clothes.

Now you have a permanent company to go shopping with – Read again, I said that now you have a 'permanent company to go shopping with' and not a permanent company to shop with! Well, now you can shop for endless hours in a shopping mall only if there is an Apple store nearby and he gets to spend the entire time in there.

Hubby helps build your emotional strength – Now you can cry as much as you want to during an emotional movie and go unnoticed without being leg pulled for it or even being offered a tissue. There are high chances he had fallen asleep at the right time during the movie and noticed you only after your tears have completely dried. Romance is not his genre of movies, you see!

Wonderful surprises – You might have heard romance is a routine post-marriage, but there are also ecstatic surprises! You often reach your 'O'-moment when you suddenly find the dishes are washed and the laundry is taken care of. “If diamonds were as plentiful as pebbles we shouldn't stoop to pick them up”, says he!

You get to see variety in life - As your techie hubby spends 80% of his life in front of screens, often to take a break from his computer he migrates from one screen to another! So it's either the PC, iPad, Droid, TV or the IMAX theater screen.

A real frank relationship – Well, did you ever feel that you often 'pretend' when you are in a relationship with your boy friend? Did not you have to pull your tummy in while trying out the new dress that he bought you? Did not you wake up early in the morning and wore some natural looking make-up just to make yourself look pretty when he wakes up? Well, husband solves all these problems as you share a more intimate relationship with this life partner! To prove this point he does not any longer hesitate to fart or burp aloud without feeling too embarrassed. Appreciate how earnest he is in his efforts!

Oh, am I being too cynical or sarcastic here? Oh dear God, no! How can you ignore the golden points that if you are married,

- You can always blame the hubby for the misplaced things in the house,

- You can skip bathing for a day or two without ever being noticed,

- You are considered the world's greatest chef just because you cook better than his mom does,

- You need not be embarrassed about forgetting important dates in case they do not show up on your Google calendar or Facebook. Men are historically known to be better at forgetting important dates than you are!

- Your husband would always respect you a lot for your religious beliefs and practices as his bar is usually set pretty low.

- He is always super-enthusiast to explain to you The Matrix or a Star Trek episode even if he is watching it for the twenty seventh time!

And last but not the least important at all,

- Husbands often zone out. No worries in case if you shared with him something that you should not have. He might have zoned out by the time you came to that topic and might have been completely disoriented to even notice what actually slipped out of your tongue!

Wish you a happily ever after...