Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Dear Khalil :)

So... how do you like it?

If your pace a couple of days ago is anything to go by, I’m quite sure you’ve managed to read backwards to the most recent post by now :)

I hope you’ve had fun reading this.... and probably gotten to know me a little better in the process.

Oh and by the way, I owe you a big ‘Thank you’ too. I got back to this blog after a good five years thanks to your request. Re-reading and reminiscing was fun in its own way! Also helped me to realize that while some of my circumstances and perspectives have changed, the quintessential cuckoo-ness is still alive .... can’t even describe how much of a relief that is!!

I’ll be waiting to see your writing turn up somewhere like this soon. Don’t let the past hold you back from something you so obviously enjoy.

Kintsugi, remember??


Friday, January 11, 2013

Dude, what are YOU complaining about?

Delhi gang rape accused says police tortured him

A headline that popped up on my newsfeed just a few minutes ago...excuse me while I (unsuccessfully) suppress a snort.

Torture?? Really now???? Any metal rods lying around? Entrails? Clothes?

You should've begged the police-wallah and called him "brother".... at least, that's Ass-haram Bapu's philosophy.

The more I read about the Delhi gang-rape and the moronic statements issued by the "men" of our country, the more convinced I am that it's only the facade that's different...the mindset is essentially the same.

For shame.

In the meantime, I'll echo the words of a young lady on a recent Malayalam talk show.... "For a change, keep your boys in after 6 p.m., and let your girls go out."

To all the genuinely decent Indian men out there..... please speak up and act. This is an attack on your credibility and integrity, as much it is on our freedom.


Just another painted and dented lady.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I googled...sorry, goggled at this!

Apparently, an advanced journalism class at Yale thinks that Watergate would've been a piece of cake in the Google era. 

Is it just me, or isn't it apparent that the 'human source' factor + actual manual effort cannot be eliminated in journalism????

On second thoughts, what ARE those @$$es doing at Yale while I'm sitting here??? :-/


You can read the story here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

And today....

...another little girl's lost her life.

This time, it's her dad who's the culprit.

WHAT THE ****!?!?!?!?

Though all that I have read so far of Baby Afreen's father suggests, scratch that, screams of an unbridled psycho, it doesn't do anything to calm down this absolutely sickened, disgusted feeling i have right now.



'Coz the scumbag wanted a boy and the kid had the audacity to be born a girl.

Yeah. I know. Laughable. But one very innocent baby paid with her life for it.

Will somebody please tell this delusional rear-end-hole (and the rest of his tribe) that it is HIS effin' chromosome that decides whether his woman births a boy or a girl????

I dunno why we would even want to go through a farce of a trial for this..... a pack of rabid wolves would be too good for this guy.

R.I.P. Afreen..... and the many more like you who never make it to national news.

Friday, March 16, 2012

R.I.P. little girl....

It's kinda ironic that the day I pulled out and published a draft on one of the most hyped female births in the country, another little girl lost her battle with the aftermath of brutality.

Rest, Baby Falak...... and sleep painlessly.

Neglect, abuse, pain, and suffering.

What happened to you was exactly what I pray every child should be protected from.

To B or not to B?

I know this is pretty late but I really don’t think BetiB had a choice in the matter.

I mean, really, what could the poor kid possibly do about being born into the best known family of Bollywood?

It was kinda amusing actually. The media in this country (or anywhere for that matter), doesn’t really need any excuse to make a hue and cry and get the cameras rolling (hidden or otherwise)....but this was beyond crazy. Let’s have a quick timeline scan, shall we?

2007: Is Aishwarya pregnant?

2008: Is Aishwarya pregnant?

2009: Is Aishwarya pregnant?

2010: Is Aishwarya pregnant?

2011: Is Aishwarya pregnant?

Mebbe there was even a meme floating around saying “Ash, y u no pregnant?”

She’s got my sympathy actually.....A uterus becomes public property the moment its owner gets married in this country. But last I heard, folks are getting more media-happy and less finicky about the married bit..... call me a feminist tight*** but I resent having my privates and periods or the lack of them becoming the subject of even family discussions, so I can’t even imagine having it splashed in the glossies and tabloids...... chin up sistah, I’m with you.

2011: Aishwarya is pregnant!

Ho hum...what’s new..... waitaminit, different word order!!!

Aishwarya goes for scan (Drumroll)

Aishwarya meets doctor (Oh wow, didn’t know a pregnancy involved all that!)

Aishwarya comes back from scan (Hallelujah chorus, anyone?)

Boy or girl for Bachchans?(Not a problem for the rest of us y’know...we pre-order)

11-11-2011, the chosen date!!!

Bachchans anxious about new arrival (yeah, yeah, whatever....)

It’s landed...err...arrived...scratch that, she’s BORN, born I say!!!

And to all those phoney pundits who predicted a boy.....hooohooohahahaha!!!

I know, not very elegant...but even Zahra the Magnificent occasionally departs from protocol.

Ash not ‘too posh to push’

Ahem....I for one was pretty certain that she wouldn’t be pole-dancing to an item number, but people y’know..... always have to have the details.

Am not really pointing fingers at the Bachchans doesn’t look like they’d be kept out of the spotlight even if they asked to. And fine, Ash is generally considered one of the best looking in the world.

But why all the hype, yaar?!?!?!?!

By all that’s wonderful, we ARE the second most populous country in the world, in case you didn’t notice.

Which by default means that...err...procreation is something we are pretty (Cough, cough, ahem...) adept at.  And do a LOT of. We even tell the world how to do it. Vatsyayana anyone?

Which therefore points us (okay, okay, ME) to the conclusion that Ash’s having a baby shouldn’t really be a headline grabbing event. Even after the Ash factor is, umm, factored in.

Yeah, the step-by-step listing is an ex-analytics-drone hangover.

And now the spotlight is on the baby’s name.

Apparently Junior B has told the media that they’re looking for a name that starts with “Aa”. Fodder enough for the next round of guessing games..... Aarti, Aashna, Aashika, Aaliya, Aardvark...what will it be?

Yes dear reader, the last one is an animal.....decidedly not a pageant-winner in looks. I have always emphasized that this blog is for those with an intellectual turn.

Okayyyyyy fine, that was a lame attempt to explain away the single-digit readership.

But back to the point.

And now it’s Oprah-behn who’s supposedly going to be revealing BetiB’s official handle to the world. Oh well, sari-clad-emotionally-charged-yankee-twanged introduction alert!

All I gotta say is watch out while giving the job to a lady who owes her name to a mispronunciation.

Update : This lay in the drafts section long enough for Abhi-Ash to make up their minds (apparently).... so welcome to world Aaradhya Bachchan!! 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Before the ink dries

Paul is dead.

The psycho psychic octopus silly..... I'm not grieving a dead love or something.

And in case you'd like to refresh your memory, here he is.

The hype and hoopla surrounding this particular cephalopod was understandable..... after all, what are the odds of getting an entire series of game winners right, time and again?

What got me to post today was something else, though.....

True to form, the media has played up the 'tragic passing' bit ..... But as far as I know, the Malayala Manorama is the only paper to devote 25% of the front page to it!

Am too busy thanking God though.....

....last I heard, there wasn't anything about Paul's 'Malayali connection' in that article.

For the uninitiated, the Malayala Manorama's made a fine art of digging into a celebrity's past and coming up with the sole recorded (E.g.: In Timbuktu, in 1878....) instance of his/her passing within a kilometer of a Mallu. And if there were any head nods or hi-hello's, things automatically progress to deep and long relationship with Kerala status. You can imagine how it takes on a soul-connection twist if there's some back-slapping involved.

And as far as I can remember, Osama (yep, him of the bomb-slinging, cave video-making fame) is the only other living being of global repute to escape the net.

As for Paul, there's still time.

Time enough to dig out a Joji/Kader/Biju who took care of/ cradled in his arms/nearly fried/wept for Paul.

I'll be watching that front page.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Enna Koduma Saar Ithu?!?!?!

I’m a coupla months into the new job now, and all’s well so far. Please note that the operative phrase is ‘so far’. :) And the next time someone asks you, it IS true..... Switching to classroom mode is near impossible after you’ve gotten used to an office routine.

Yours truly finds her head swaying dangerously within twenty minutes of starting a class, like she’s a teetering coconut tree/pissed drunk/a hired cabaret dancer/whatever….Zzzz!!

No, that wasn’t supposed to make sense.

The net result is that my similarly fresh-in-the-system colleagues get some free entertainment at my expense. They think that my eyeballs drifting in opposite directions are a treat to behold. Well, I guess you gotta keep yourself entertained when there isn’t one remotely cute guy in the vicinity.

Change that to ‘one guy on the right side of forty’.

Gloom. :'((

Anyway, this post is to commemorate the fact that I’ll always find a proverbial haddi in the kabab platter that I call my professional life.

The haddi in this case is a trainer who periodically saddles bestows his excruciating self on an unsuspecting batch. Dude’s a doctorate holder in Management who, quite interestingly, treats MBAs like the scum of the earth. The cherry on top is that he also can’t stand private commercial banks and everything they stand for.... that should give you a good idea of where I stand in his version of the professional food chain. ;P

The only definite ‘learning’ I can boast of after his sessions is that I’ve indefinitely postponed all plans of entering the academic side of management. I swear I haven’t come across a more pompous know-all. All of us are secure in the knowledge that nothing we can ever say or do is correct or astounding enough for his liking.

Add to that the fact that his name sounds almost exactly like popular lingo for the posterior.

Cackle, cackle!!!>;-D

Note: Despite the jibes this IS a lament of sorts.

FYI, the Zahra Code of Conduct is explicitly against ridiculing accents and poor grammar, but the rules were amended recently to exempt bombastic profs who pretend to know everything and massacre the language too.

Aadiyo-vishwal taarchur yat its best-eye-sayyy....

Here’s a sampler…. Read aloud for maximum effect.

Prof: Yinn dhee kaanteksht aaff this try-ning, yoo are yekspected to no dhee sigh-nergeezz aaff bizznuss praacess.....

Zahra: Eh?? Vaat-yoo aar saiyying-eye-say....

Prof: ....Akkaarding tuyoo, vaat dhees sigh-nergee eess?

Colleague: (Fairly coherent answer)

Prof: Oooaahh…..vyyy yoowall aar taalkingg lik-eh vanilla yumbeeyaayys?? Yinn yuwar carriers (sic) widh-dhees UFO (Unidentified Financial Organization) yoo shudd gobee yondha sir-faze aaff yish-shoes....(proceeds to repeat colleague’s points under the guise of the correct answer) ....blah blah blah.

Zahra: Hai bhagwan, main vanilla se tutti-frutti kab banoongi? :-/

Prof: Drone, drone....shaaar yuwar yuck-speriyenss with the group no? Yennydhingg yoowandoo shaar?

Zahra: Vaat....I mean...what? Err...Ummm....(How about “I’m a recovering alcoholic”?)

Note: “Yuck”-speriyenss is closer to the truth than he thinks.

Zahra: (Gas, globe and gyaan. All delivered at the speed of....well...sound.)

Well, whaddya expect??? I'm an MBA, okay??

Prof: (Gas, globe, and the effect that Zahra is a prime example of a useless product of a useless management education system, with a useless commercial bank ex-employer to boot....)

Zahra: Sighhhh....can’t win ‘em all y’know....

The fact that I narrowly missed being interviewed by this man is proof enough for me that there is a God AND He luuuuuuuuuuvvs me :D

The second point in favor of that claim is that my current boss is a person who’s actually got a reputation for being sane. And all that I’ve seen so far confirms it….. yeah, it’s too early to tell, but who cares?? Carpe diem, folks!!!

Interesting aside: Trainer dude keeps sporting a series of grimaces while talking....I first thought he was in physical pain, but then realized that it was an indicator of the seriousness of the topic.

On second thoughts, it could actually be a bad case of hemorrhoids.

Tricky things, these.

Prof: Dhink shtraaatejickalee....dhink lie-kku seenyur maan-age-urrrssss....bakwaas bakwaas bakwaas.....

Zahra: Yes, yes, I swear I will....but for the love of God, let us go!!

Finally, the class ends…or rather, is forcibly ended by a bunch of cranky, irritated, new recruits on various pretexts.

And so we live (barely just) to fight another day.

Not that we particularly want to.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


What happens when these two meet??

Some awesome conversation, a quick ooru darshanam, and a whole lotta laughs about shared quarter-life crises..... Here's an amen to many many more.
Buddy, you know who you are :)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Of Days When We Were Happy And....

Go on, say it.

If you are a product of the school syllabus of the eighties-cum-nineties like me, you would have ended that title with “…And Gay”.

Well, mentally at least.

I know most of these meanings existed long before I was born…but, aahhhh….for those innocent (well, almost) days when we chanted rhymes starring people in near-obscene states of happiness.

When fairies used to be these perfectly sweet little winged creatures that little girls and boys could believe in. And be friends with. Even want to play with.

Get your mind out of the gutter. This instant.

And faggots were meant to be gathered and burned with no question of an activist in the scene. I know some folks who’d still like to believe that, but that’s another post.

Of times when we weren’t old enough, or in my case informed enough, to burst into furtive titters while reading about Master Bates in Oliver Twist. In case you didn’t get that one, read it again…aloud.

Damn, did I tell you to say it out loud in your office cubicle? Really now…

Or when the gender opposite of ‘hen’ did not imply an anatomical reference of any sort.

When I could play badminton, and yell over the fence “Bhaiyya, can you pass that co….”…. errr, never mind. Today I have to bite my tongue by the time I reach the end of ‘shuttle’. Sigh.

When references to your pussy had nothing to do with your body and everything to do with your grouchy pet feline.

And buns were, well…. just buns y’know?

Don’t even get me started on nuts, balls, and screws.

When referring to your male colleague with the phrase “Good head....” wouldn’t need a withering glance at a giggler before continuing with "...for numbers.”

Really. It’s hard enough just trying to be nice to people.

When discussing who got the biggest ‘O’ didn’t draw any scandalized gasps from eavesdroppers. Y’see, doughnut boxes demand complete attention.

No, we weren’t comparing tha-a-at..... Yeah, I’ve heard pigs have it for much longer than humans do.

Hold it right there buddy, if you’ve got more questions of that kind, you’ve come to the wrong page.

Yeah, you heard me.


Phew…..Where were we?

Oh yes, this might interest you.

My introduction to G-strings came via a stentorian middle-aged schoolmaster…..and nobody screamed bloody murder ‘coz the aforementioned string was on a guitar.

Guess I’m better off than a friend who was nearly lynched for casually mentioning that he was “fingering A minor” the previous night. Hmmm.

I’ve also heard choirmasters tell their singers to “Pay attention to others’ parts”. Better still, some say Look at others’ parts”. (Wicked grin)

Seriously, the number of somethings-that-can-also-mean-something-else today makes an ordeal out of every conversation. Like, look at the ruckus Tharoor-saab kicked up with a reference of the bovine variety.

Cut to a decade from now when I (might) put my (possibly) hapless (and currently imaginary) offspring through their paces in the Queen’s language.

Kid 1: Ma, how’s this sentence? “Squirrels collect nuts for winter”.

Zahra: (Horrified) Wha…??? WHERE did you learn that??

Kid 2: Mama, Doctor-uncle asked me today if I was afraid of a prick!!

Zahra: (Hyperventilating) Ohmigod, and I thought he was a decent man....Stay calm. Breathe. Breathe. And what did you say???

Kid 2: (Proudly) I said “Of course I’m not scared!!”

Zahra: (Weakly. Very weakly.) A..a..and?

Kid 2: He gave me an injection!

I can see a very strong argument for mass sterilization and consequent blood pressure control here.

On a final note, let’s bow to the masters of double entendre....that’s John Cleese and Groucho Marx in my book.

Gotta admit, this line cracks me up every time I hear it.

“If I said you have a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?”

Hey, that’s what he said!!!


P.S. – To all those shady souls who’ve come here after typing ….well, shady searches…… get yer kicks elsewhere!!

Friday, July 2, 2010

The E-word makes its entry

That's right, I'm finally....



Hurrah, yee-ha, and yippie-ay-yay to that.

I don't have to join for another month, so that gives me 30 days of pure, unadulterated goof-off time. Like I didn't have enough already. Just that this time I can lounge around with an easy conscience.

Now doesn't that feel good or what??

It was quite a wait while I was at it, but worth it all in the end. Despite the false alarms, near-misses, and HR botch-ups, I finally have the kind of profile I was looking for, in the city I want to be in.

It doesn't take much to make this girl happy, people.

And to you all Pollyannas out there who thought that the aforementioned 'E-word' was 'engaged' or its variant; Be very, very scared. It's hard enough chasing off all those eminently unsuitable specimens of manhood that are thrown at me these days.

In the meantime..... ta-ra-ta-rum-te-da-de-doo.... and a cherry on top.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Vindicated :)

A few months ago, I had put up this post which talked about a major career decision I'd made. I'd also given a pretty clear indicator of who was responsible for that choice...or rather, forced me into that choice.

The months since have not been very easy. A freelancing opportunity does give me a small yet steady cash stream, but that is no substitute for a full-time job. More importantly, it is nowhere near what I plan and hope to achieve in a career. Explaining a break like this to a prospective employer is no cakewalk. Especially since, "My boss was a jerk" as a reason does nothing to improve my chances even if it is the undiluted truth.

The sole upside is that I have reason to believe that the job quest will soon be over..... until I know for sure though, I'm gonna be keeping my fingers, toes and eyes crossed. :)

But this post wasn't meant to be about any of that.

I've had mixed reactions to the choice I made. A handful agrees with me. Most have gone on to add "bonkers" to their list of adjectives describing yours truly. There have also been folks who were kind enough to suggest that I could afford to do this since I am the spoilt only child and daughter at that of a family that's comfortably off. I use the word kind 'coz they made sure I heard those suggestions second-hand.

Such tact, such consideration...... charmed, I'm sure.

I have wondered a couple of times if I should've hung on a little longer......just for the sake of avoiding a gap on an already undistinguished CV. Interestingly, I was the first person to leave our ten-member team...... within five months of my resignation, the strength had come down to half.

Two (including yours truly) had openly stated the actual reason for leaving, and the others had made it known that the superior was the reason they looked out for alternatives. That soon became common knowledge in a 200-strong department. Now what would you expect to happen in the year-end appraisal after the team lead sets such a blistering record in less than six months?? I got to know today when I caught up with a colleague on chat.

The blithering @$$ got a promotion.

He got an effin' PROMOTION!!!

My reaction was laughter AND dismay. Did the guy have a secret 'forced attrition' target or something? Like "Sir, I have helped reduce manpower costs by driving my team insane and chasing half of them out of the organization"??? And a 50% weightage perhaps, for "Will aim to hamper productivity by yelling for no reason, calling for aimless meetings, and offloading bullcrap by the ton on any subordinate who refuses to think I'm god"???

W.r.t. those goals, I'm in a charitable mood right now...that should explain it.

I think the best phrase in modern lingo to describe my reaction can be summarized as WTF.

Strong language I know, but I think it's only fitting for a person who drove me to spew cuss words left, right, and centre within a week of starting to work for him. My bemused colleague tells me that she's rethinking her priorities now..... her idea of career progression techniques needs a complete overhaul after this y'see.

As for me.....

I'm still unemployed.

I'm still uncertain about how my future will shape up.

But I haven't felt SO DAMNED GOOD in a long, long time.

Y'see, I now know for sure that I took the right call then. Screaming bloody murder to anybody who paused for a second, and leaving the place for good. Making sure that the Dept head knew exactly why I'd quit, and telling him explicitly that being a junior is no reason to put up with narcissistic bullying.

I don't think I'd have forgiven myself if I'd stayed on, believing that the system would look after such characters, and then seen this development. The only disappointment is in some seniors who let this happen..... somehow, I'd hoped that they'd see the light. But then, I guess commercialism, careers, and corporate ladders don't work on those principles.

I know I have a lot to learn, and I'm not naive enough to think that the bad guys will always be nailed in the end. Mebbe my attitudes will also change over time.

But today, I'm happy. Happy and a wee bit satisfied too, 'coz I stood up for what I had to, and in a way, my stand's been vindicated.

And right now, that is all that matters to me.


On this day....

..well, yesterday actually, seeing that it's well past midnight..... errr, where was I???

Wait, let's have a go again at that, shall we??

It's thirteen years to the day since we came back to India for good...what a journey it was before, and what a journey it has been since.

Why thirteen? Why not ten? Or five?

I didn't have a blog then.

Zahra, you smartass.

Why not wait for the fifteen year mark?

Who knows what life holds? Really..... I can't remember ever using this line for myself, but here it is... There's no guarantee I'll be around then.

Thirteen...for starters that's precisely half a lifetime ago.

Yes, you've calculated my age. I'm thankful, really.... most folks think I'm a few years older.

I would like to believe that I am essentially the same person that stood on the threshold of teen-age at that time...... but the answer to that is yes and no. I hold certain views, opinions, and attitudes today that I wouldn't have thought possible for myself even two or three years ago. The thought is exhilarating and a little scary too. As far as I know, I haven't reached that stage in life where consistency is the norm than not, so maybe, just maybe, that comment was premature.

Back then, I had a very different idea of what my life would turn out to be. And today I'm nowhere near that image. Can't say I'm disappointed at how things have turned out..... but I can't help a faint shiver of disappointment either. Perhaps I'm still in love with the starry-eyed optimist I was then.

My relations with my parents have changed. Inevitable I guess. Things said in a fit of temper have a greater potential to wound now, than when the accuser was thirteen. On the flip side, dealing with each other on a one-to-one basis has its plus points. But there's no change to the sense of dismay I feel when I realize that our viewpoints on some important issues differ widely. I still haven't found a way to convey that my being accepting of more than one possibility does not mean that my fundamentals have eroded.

Therefore, I keep a part of myself locked away, neatly boxed and stowed deep inside. Telling myself that expressing my individuality's not always worth somebody else's pain. Then secretly resenting myself and them for it. And then feeling guilty as hell for even thinking that way. Then back to the slow-burn routine.

Ah, well, some battles never have an outcome do they?

Say what you will about burning bridges with abandon.... I say that can happen only when I really and truly know what I want. And that doesn't look set to happen for another thirteen years at least. :)

But there's one thing I really wish hadn't changed....something I nearly don't have the gumption to own up. I had a lot more faith in my ability to keep fighting and cock a snook at people, even when they put me down. The non-conformity is still there, but I've been having these moments when I'm almost apologetic about it..... Unthinkable. This calls for drastic action and quick.

So here we are. I don't think we have done too badly after all. Even if having the extended khandaan around has sharpened my migratory instincts of late. ;)

No comments on that one :)

Shabbat Shalom, two-day weekends and more filter kaapi to y'all.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The silver cord...

..will be severed and the golden bowl broken, the pitcher by the well shattered and the wheel by the fountain crushed.*

That each one of us will keep our appointment with the Maker is a given, and my grandfather honoured his tryst a couple of weeks ago.

Appachen was my last surviving grandparent. Since his passing I've had this growing certainty that a chapter has been firmly closed despite my efforts to resist it. A sense that one of the last links to my childhood has been severed...... A permanent change in the way I view my maternal home and surroundings. In all honesty, it's not just the loss of a person that I'm grieving, but the loss of a way of life, of stability as I knew it.

It's at times like these that you realise how much a person can dominate a home without even raising his voice or moving around much. At 83, 'sprightly' was hardly the word that I'd have used to describe Appachen, but his mind was clear, his thinking sharp, and his opinions as firm as they'd always been. I can't recall ever having entered Amma's home in Kerala without a grandparent around, so current circumstances will take some getting used to.

It's hard to walk past his room without the customary peek to see if he's awake or sleeping. I found myself pulling an extra chair into the living room the other day, despite a vacant seat...... the empty one is Appachen's armchair, y'see. I can still hear his voice when the family sings hymns for the evening prayer..... I know where he would've paused, in every line of every song that we've sung together. Hesitating a moment before starting the Lord's prayer, waiting for him to lead, as he always did. Keeping an ear cocked for the tap-pause-tap rhythm of the cane he used in his last year.

I had only known this extraordinary man as my Appachen first. The 'Matthews' of his acquaintances and peers introduced himself later. A breakaway from his agricultural roots, he had plunged into the world of business and shipping in the Middle East at a time when 'Persia' was still an exotic mystery to most Malayalees, leave alone Indians. :) Perhaps I should also mention that he was only 23 at the time.

The career took off brilliantly, and he was still seeking new frontiers at a time when most men begin to think of retirement and their twilight years. I still don't think I can fully comprehend the impact this one man has had on the livelihoods and careers of many hundreds of people; his legacy is immense. Appachen was one of the very few men I knew who openly credited a supportive and capable wife for his successes. When Ammachy died close to a decade ago, the flame dimmed and sputtered considerably. I could see that her passing had wounded him deeply, but it did register somewhere in my 16-year-old mind that a woman who could claim that kind of devotion was a rare and lucky one indeed.

You might be tempted to categorize this post as the tribute of a favourite grandchild, but I do not think that would be correct. Appachen had enough old-school chauvinism in him to make it subtly but definitely known that his grandsons gave him a little more joy than his granddaughters. :) We girls can't really complain that we lacked anything, even though I would have liked for him to be a little more demonstrative. His pride in our achievements was unbounded though..... education and a career were must-haves for boys and girls alike.

Looking back, I think the major source of my pride-tinged resentment was the fact that I never got the 'grandchild' treatment as much as his other grandkids did. Even when I was as young as ten or twelve, we did have some very mature conversations on life, peers, and family. Perhaps I should be glad that he saw it fit to treat me as an equal sometimes. But another little voice in my head insists that equals are all around, but only he could've been a grandfather to me.

Make no mistake, there was no lack of love or respect on either side. We did have our share of fun and games, as well as dorky stories that my Ammachy considered highly unsuitable for young ladies of genteel breeding :) The chorichu-malle game was my prerogative with Appachen, and many a family car ride was swept along in gales of laughter and hooting. For those of you who're wondering what I'm talking about, take any two words (a name for instance) and interchange the first syllables. The resulting phrase can range from ho-hum to hysteria-inducing stuff. Eg: Muthoot Bankers would become Bathoot Moonkers.... get it?

I told you it was crazy :D

Appachen's laughter at such times is crystal clear in my memory..... a very gravelly and deep, slightly raspy "Ha ha haaaa" followed by a silent chuckle.....and a smile that lingered long after. Strangely enough, that was the sound that came to mind when I heard the damp gravel roll across the lid of his coffin, after we'd laid him in the grave. The way he'd laughed when we teased him and Ammachy for getting married on a 14th February, all those years ago before Valentine's Day was even heard of in India.

I had mentioned a sense of stability earlier, a feeling of being moored firmly, which I now lack. When he was alive, I viewed the protection of Appachen's love for his family as being similar to what I felt for my home:

No matter which corner of the world I'm in, it is there.

I know it is strong. I believe nothing can shake it.

Once inside, I am safe.

Needless to say, I now keep trying to pull the frayed ends of that loop closer together in any way I can. There are brief moments of respite. The smile that is forced to my lips when I see the photo of me and my brothers furtively eyeing Appachen's birthday cake, while he solemnly smiles for the camera. Running my hand along the armrests of his favourite chair, where the polish has worn off from years of use. The inexplicable comfort of seeing his battered Bible and spectacles on the bedside table. The cluttered desk which makes me feel that he's just around the corner.

Which he is. Someday I'll lift that curtain and join him there.

Until then Appacha, you'll be sorely missed.


*The reference is to Ecclesiastes 12:6 in the Bible, which is widely used to illustrate death in the context of Christianity. Simply put, death is viewed as a cutting of the cord that binds us to earth, allowing us to go back to our home with the Father.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Of Colours and Internal Affairs

Whoooaaaa…..23 days into the new year already???

And here I am, still not done breaking all those resolutions.. :P

There's so much happening all around, so many things that I want to pen my thoughts on..... But somehow, when I sit down in front of this screen I dunno what to choose and why. Mostly because it’s just a passing thought or thoughts in clusters of 2 and 3.... enough to trigger the typing itch, yet not enough to justify an entire post. And for the record, no, I really haven't bought into 'tweeting'...not just yet. :) Simply 'coz I can't imagine who would be interested in my limited-character take on life, events and everything else in between.

Am still enjoying the feeling of being home, with a job hunt on in full swing. Granted, I don’t exactly have too many recruiters beating my door down with offers but I believe things will work out in their own time. And did I tell ya, writing’s helping me look after cashflow needs?? :)

Yep, that’s right…found a few freelance biz writing assignments on the net that needed doing and it’s going along nicely as of now. Would love to earn a living off this full time, but I think it would be a good idea to stick to more ordered jobs with some security for a little longer.

Late December’09 saw the only instance of Zahra giggling at an attempted act of terror. True, I wouldn’t have done that if the guy had actually got away with it, but honestly, a Chaddi-bomber????


I’ve heard of lingerie that will knock your socks off, but this is the limit.

WTF are these demented lunatics thinking of?? I mean, the bloke’s only (or chief) incentive is the promise of jannat and 72 dark-eyed virgins. (Note: Ex-colleagues tell me that’s waayyyy better than what they can expect in this year’s bonus review...hmmmm) Assuming the bomb actually did its job, he would’ve been greeted by 72 dark eyed AND extremely disappointed virgins. Raw deal, if you ask me.


Pun. :-*)


But then, it looked like everybody and their aunt was airing their lingerie closets, so one Nigerian and his chaddi became hapless victims of public amnesia. Pardon me for the political incorrectness but I thought the whole bra colour campaign on FB was a hoot. So.....what next? Posting the colour of your Speedo to spread awareness about prostate cancer?

Seriously ladies, how am I gonna help the cause of breast cancer awareness by posting the colour of my bra on a public domain??? Not to mention the possibility of some dude coming along and clicking “Like” against my post. :-S


Let’s not confuse ‘supporting a cause’ with…err…just ‘support’, sistahs. So far, I’ve seen the whole gamut from white, black etc etc to ‘nothing’ as well (honest gal there!) but interestingly nothing that says “Shell-beige with rose scallop trim” or something like that. Oh well, I thought we lived in an adventurous age. All said and done, if it got women thinking about a very pertinent issue, fair enough.

Btw Dionysus I fling my chappals at your head for your comment on this topic on FB :-P

On a more serious note, those FB posts made me pause a moment and consider my good fortune in just being able to wear one of those contraptions. :) Seriously. I have not experienced cancer first-hand or second-hand and hope I never have to, but I realize how deeply this part of the anatomy is linked to my very concept of Zahra the individual…to my femininity itself. The way it is for many women.

May all those envious glances at Victoria’s Secret catalogues be untouched by sorrow.

In the meantime, come terror, cancer, hail or high water, always remember what your mamma told you:

Semper ubi sub ubi

Err…Clean ones, please.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Of Christingles and Christmas

Merryyyyyyy Christmas everybody! :)))

Yessirree, it really does feel like yesterday that I sat down to write these same words on the blog.

A very different yesterday at that....different hopes, dreams and expectations of who, what and where I'd be by this Christmas. In all honesty I don't think I've moved beyond 5% of the then status quo, and that has a bittersweet feel.... however, self-justification and defense is for New Year's Eves and that's the way it shall remain.

I attended a Christingle service last night..... a lovely time of light-hearted banter, games, sharing and some serious reflection to boot. It amazes me how a campfire always seems to bring out the deeper side of me...if such a thing exists at all :)

For want of time, I'm gonna let you read about the custom of Christingles here...but there's no reason you can't see what it looks like right here's a pic.

But it was during the service that I came across something that seemed to express it all perfectly.... so much that I'm just going to share that with you and hope that it does all the talking....

"We thank you, Spirit of love

Not for perfect lives, perfect bodies,

perfect love or perfect families.

Today, as we reflect on a small, tender baby

unable to care for himself,

born to young, unsure parents in a rude shelter

surrounded by the poor and outcasts

we give thanks for imperfection.

For the times of waiting, of not knowing.

For the times we pondered in our hearts

whether we could do what you asked of us.

It is those times that the Christ-child comes to our hearts

to give us peace and courage,

to give us to know what we should do next.

How we can best care for ourselves,

for one another, and for this fragile world.

As the wind howls and snowflakes dance down,

we give thanks for the knowledge that imperfection

is the ground in which God sows



and Growth.

We give thanks aloud and in our hearts for the ways in which we have seen those miracles of love."

May all the gifts of the season be yours, and may you have a wonder-filled Christmas and 2010!!

God bless us everyone....


Pic copyright:

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It's official.....

....Zahra's one HOT babe ;-)

And I mean HOTTT, baby!!

Whaddya looking so surprised for??

Of course I am..... Running a fever circa 100 degrees for two days is no joke buddy!

(Wicked, wicked cackle....)


Pic copyright: James E. Daniels (

Sunday, November 22, 2009

English short, music long

Before you think my grammar's gone kaput, the title's a part-reference to what an artiste I heard yesterday said.... specifics later in the post.

Last night was the penultimate performance of this year's Novemberfest..... this time it was a Korean group called Gong Myoung...yeah, I know, try saying that aloud without smiling :)

By the end of their performance, I was ready to swear that these 4 guys could make music out of just about, they'd already performed with an empty 20 litre water can, and a hollowed out walking stick!! Brilliantly versatile, amazing coordination and an array of instruments I'd never seen before. Do catch this group if you get a chance..... you won't be disappointed, I assure you. It's all instrumental btw, haunting, soothing, foot-tapping and peppy all at once.

But this post wasn't meant to be just about the music.

It turned out during the show that only one member of the quartet could speak some English. While telling the audience rather haltingly that this was their first trip to India, he mentioned that his "English languag-ee short, Korean languag-ee long". A fairly accurate way of conveying his relative skill in each language. He was a good sport about it though....made an effort to introduce the team well, and connect with the audience. The audience, for their part, was ready to cheer on his efforts and laugh along.

Which is perfectly fine, but just one little thought niggled at the back of my mind....

What if it was an Indian guy standing onstage and speaking like that to an Indian audience??

Unfortunately, I think there's a 99% chance that he would have been criticized to shreds by the listeners.

What is it about us Indians that allows us to generously overlook the linguistic shortcomings of a foreigner, but remain adamant about the supposed English fluency we expect from a fellow Indian?? Kinda funny, 'coz We are like that only seems to work pretty well for everything else.

Is it because English has become a second or even first language to virtually everyone in an urban or semi-urban setting? Or is it because of the English = Educated mindset we have?

Y'see, it doesn't seem to matter as much to the same people if the speaker can't manage his mother tongue fluently. Oh and that's not all, we have a big and I mean biiiig issue about regional accents too...... a damned-if-you-have, damned-if-you-don't attitude is what generally prevails.

From personal experience, I have been told on a few occasions that I speak with a mallu accent. Fine. But what beats me is that it's often said in that Oh you poor thing tone.

Why, people, whyyyyyy???

For crying out loud, I was taught by Indian teachers (mallu and otherwise), learned my lessons under the eye of mallu parents, talked in Malayalam long before I learned English...of course I'd have an accent!! Granted, Indian accents pro'lly don't sound that great with Western languages but then again, that street goes both ways. The other version is when I'm told I speak English well "for a Malayalee"....... hmmm, let's not get into that right now. Btw, this is an experience some non-mallu friends have gone through as well, so I guess that Unity in diversity thingie's not total hogwash after all.

Some views on this would be great. Coming back to the music, we're gearing up to swing with the Afro-Brit band Osibisa tonight..... will keep y'all posted.

In the meantime the only thought in my mind as I left the Music Academy last night was that languages really don't matter..........when the music's "long".


P.S - In the meantime, do check out this Kurbaan review...had me in splits!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sufiana kalaam...kamaal hai!!

I love the way something or the other keeps happening to remind me why I missed this city so....despite all the fun in a Delhi or a Mumbai....especially a Mumbai.

Among many things, unlimited access to filter kaapi is of course a given. The other is Music with a capital 'M' :)...and a crowd that relishes it in style.

Caught up with the MMA's Israel in Egypt at the start of this month. A choir backed by a symphony orchestra.....and the violins made me weep for all the right reasons.

And today was the kickoff of the Hindu November Fest - a five day music program featuring Indian and international artistes of various genres. Day one featured Abida Parveen, known to most as the foremost Sufi artiste of today...... and man oh man, she is known for a reason alright.

Yours truly is a self-proclaimed ignoramus on most things musical, but I know good music when I hear it. Even if I don't understand a word of what's being sung....and today Abida Parveen won over one more fan :) Where did those 2 odd hours go??? Amazing voice, power, richness and style........... and kudos to the Chennai rasikas who proved beyond a doubt that they are among the most receptive (and appreciative) audiences in the country when it comes to the arts.

Yes, an occasional jingoistic jiggle on my part is more than acceptable...especially since I'm not asking Ms. Parveen to sing in Tamil!! (Like a certain ageing politician would've if he were in this part of the country)

Lots more coming up in the next few weeks folks...shall post as and when I can. I love this season and this city!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I was sad I hadn't new shoes.....

..... till I saw a woman wearing Manolo Blahniks. And then I grieved some more. :((

Sound familiar?? Oh, I know that one about seeing a man with no feet, but scenes like the one above seem to happen more often to me. Put it down to an irrepressible tendency to see the 'up' side of life if you will ;-P

I've been getting plenty of that homily all my life on being grateful for what I have, and sparing a thought for those less fortunate....while I totally see the validity of that point, one niggling little itch remains. No matter what I do, there are some things I can't really be thankful for....some irritants just won't go away.

Abate perhaps, but never vanish.

Lessen, but never heal.

Heal...heal...heel..??? GAAAAarrgh...the Manolos!!!!

Errr...excuse that please, I do go off the deep end sometimes.

Blessed are they who effortlessly glide over such trivialities.... personally I think a pair of designer shoes would help the gliding considerably. I'm not making a case for blinkered pity-parties here, but methinks there is something to be said about matters like these.

That it is important to get the bigger picture, but it is also equally important to accept that certain things will never cease to matter.... or bug the life outta me. Like the fact that I wear thicker glasses than any other person I know. And that it will serve as a conversation starter 90% of the time. That I can't remember what it feels like to wake up in the morning and NOT fumble for my specs by the bedside. That I may never know that feeling again in this lifetime.

That was just one of my pet demons by the way..... you don't want the rest of them unleashed, trust me :)

It could be any number of things for the rest of us. The one little thing I've learned from my (??) experience to date is that it doesn't hurt to crib occasionally. Mind, there's a fine line separating 'occasional crib' and 'chronic whine'.... I'll leave you to draw yours. And don't go anywhere near that spoilsport called guilt while you're at it.

In the meantime, I'm going to window-shop at the pricey designer store downtown...a very effective coping mechanism by the way.

The shoe thingie was just an illustration, but it does bring me to another pet peeve of mine. For the life of me I can't teeter walk elegantly decently in a pair of high heels to save my life.

Aaahhh wellllll.......

Sunday, November 8, 2009


A little note to very specially acknowledge a very special young lady.

A person I've known about for years but actually got to know only in the last coupla days..... and what a riot of laughter and giggles these last two days have been :)

Thank you sweetheart, for the gift of your laughter and the generosity of your spirit in sharing it with us. For reminding me in the nick of time that life was very promising and beautiful, when I was your age not too long ago.

Most of all, for reassuring me that '18 till I die' is not too bad a state to be in every now and then.

Keep the faith. And let the light shine on as the sparkles float around.

Pic courtesy

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Till the haze clears

While I've been prattling on about trees and music and rain and festivals, about everything and nothing in particular, there's just one wee thing I didn't mention.... In the meantime, I'd also gone ahead and committed the equivalent of professional hara-kiri.

I quit my steady job in Mumbai....

...without an alternative offer in hand.

Grade A looniness eh??? Trust me I've thought about it...and only time's gonna tell whether I'll pat myself on the back for this or take a flying leap off the balcony. Y'see, I've often heard that most of life's problems come from saying yes too soon, or no too late.

So I said no.

No to being lambasted for questioning (politely, that too) the sense in doing an incomprehensible assignment. And then being expected to work my backside off on any and every madcap project dreamt up by anybody and his uncle.

No to being told directly or indirectly that I am an incompetent idiot, when I know I am neither.

No to being expected to put up with insane deadlines, vague guidelines and virtually nonexistent role definition.

No to being pushed to a stage where I know I'm not giving more than 20% of what I'm capable of to my job....and where I just don't see any point in giving the other 80%.

In short, thank you very much, but I've had enough of suffering fools gladly.

Yes, it's true.... people leave their bosses, not the job. And mebbe someday I'll be immensely grateful to those who...errr.... made this possible ????

So Zahra's finished serving out a notice period, and is back in Chennai-land to ponder and plot her next moves. Frankly, the path ahead is kinda hazy right now...and I might just make some very drastic turns along the way..with fingers, toes and eyes crossed, and praying really hard for the best. :-)

For now, the Mumbai chapter stands closed...more of an experience than a city, if you ask me, but one I'll always be grateful for.

So long, Mumbai......and thanks for all the pav.


Pic courtesy

Thursday, September 24, 2009

And the wheel turns again

There are some things and events that gently and unmistakably point out the passage of time. And remind us of how life comes full circle in different ways every day.

Like the gulmohar tree I see from my living room. Splashes of fiery reds that intensify in sync with the blazing summer. A moist, green mass in the monsoon….so rich and verdant that the slender branches seem to bow under their burden.

Like the roly-poly little fella in the next building who emerges one fine summer morning in a spanking new uniform and polished shoes. Hair neatly combed to frame a sullen little face. Understandable, since he had all the time in the world to play and laze around till yesterday. But summers come and go, little kids soon become not-so-little kids…… and I smile a half-smile at nobody in particular when I recall that this is the third time I’ve seen his back-to-school ritual.

Like sitting down to update my blog, and then realizing that’s it’s been a good three months since I wrote last. And grudgingly acknowledging that Philip and many others had a valid point about the huge intervals between my posts. ;-P

Like the arrival of a Ganesha in our neighbourhood, with eyes as gentle as his girth is massive. Who is welcomed with shouting, singing and chanting that starts at one in the a.m. and goes on for all of next day. Which is a prelude to a ten day frenzy of colour, prayers and ardent believers. Not to forget traffic jams.

Like hearing the clack-clack of dandiyas in the neighbourhood, and realizing that we’re well into the festive season already. So let’s gear up for another round of festivities, praying for a peaceful and happy one at that.

Season’s greetings to y’all!!

P.S – That was a blanket wish, folks… so excuse me till Pongal of 2010!!!


Listening to: ‘Piya tora’ from Raincoat……ahhhh, Hariharan’s voice!!! :-)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Then and now...

*Started writing this one fine June afternoon....and sat down to finish it yesterday :). Oh well, procrastination's one of my nicer qualities....

It’d been a regular Sunday so far.

Church in the morning……after staying up reading till 2 a.m.

A quick trip to the local book stalls for the week’s supply.

A leisurely brunch and cuppa coffee at her regular hangout.

And back home by two in the p.m.

Oh well and all that, she thought. This is the way it’s been for a while now. Hard to explain yearning for company, for a trip, for a casual conversation, yet being reluctant to call a buddy or just head out. She puttered around the room, telling herself for the thousandth time that this was the weekend to get the room tidied up. Oh yeah, it is. So’s next weekend. A fleeting moment of amazement when she realized that it was almost July.

What would the rest of the day be like? Sleep? No. Though she eventually will, she knows that. Call a friend? Mebbe later. A quick jaunt to the mall downtown? Perhaps, but the weekend crowd of loud families and clingy couples was the last thing she needed.

Better read a book till I decide.So she stretched out on the bed, keeping the windows wide open to catch the cool breeze.


Karen Carpenter’s soulful alto rose from the laptop perched on the desk.

Perfect. The only singer she’d ever aspired to sound like. Soon, she was deep into the plot and subplots of the battered spy thriller.

She awoke suddenly, startled by a coolness on her arm. Confused for moment, she saw that the room was much darker now, the curtains flapped wildly, and Karen continued to sing. Make believe, the song name registered somewhere at the back of her mind.

But then is then, and now is now…..

And right now, it was raining…… the sweet, moist scent of the earth was heady alright. As was the cool spray that had woken her up. She could never explain how rain always, unfailingly, triggered off a series of images in her mind.

Of her much younger self stretching her arms out of the window to ‘catch’ the rain. Of running around outside with her cousins in a ferocious Kerala rainstorm, of an era when she could go topless (or bottomless, for that matter) without anybody batting an eyelid. Of praying hard for heavy rain on school nights, so that she could stay in the next day. And then feeling guilty at having her prayers answered, as she watched a street urchin trying to stay dry under the straggly limbs of the nearest tree.

Of more pensive evenings, when a teenager watched the simple beauty of an afternoon shower, and wondered why people and life itself had to be so complicated. Of the bright cleanness of the trees after the rain, of a green so intense it hurt your eye. Of silently crying in the dark a few years later, as she heard the rain pound relentlessly. They’d buried her beloved grandmother that evening, and the thought of the rain pelting that lonely grave, and battering the flowers was almost too much to bear.

Of deliberately prolonging the five minute walk back home from college, if it so much as drizzled. Of watching from her hostel window in another part of the country, as the rains misted the landscape into impressionist masterpieces. Of breathing in the damp, cool air one Easter evening, and wondering if it was just her or if life really was a bitch.

As always, the montage released a sharp, short pang of homesickness. And sadness. A longing to be truly footloose and carefree once again. Secretly, she enjoyed the rain even in the huge metro, despite the whole city turning into a squelchy bog. Despite the ordeal of her commute and the massacred footwear. No sense in spoiling the magic of the moment by thinking of day to day issues……Mundane practicality would rear its ugly head whenever, wherever.

Meanwhile, Karen Carpenter was almost through with her song.

…And now is all that matters, anyhow

I totally agree, she thought, watching as the rain caressed the earth and sang its love songs once again. As it had always done for eons past.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Little bundle of.....??

Recently, I was having this perfectly ordinary conversation with a colleague of mine when she casually dropped this line…..

“You know, my mom had tried to abort when she was pregnant with me, but that attempt failed. So she carried me to full term.”

Mentally, I’d gone all slack-jawed while keeping a normal face on the outside (or so I believe). But such was the impact of that one line that I’ve even forgotten the context in which it was said. The colleague in question didn’t seem too fazed, but I was reeling from what I’d heard. Needless to say, the rest of the conversation went over my head.

How do you deal with the knowledge that your mother tried to get rid of you when you were in her womb???? We’re all conditioned to expect being wanted in some capacity or other.....Most of all by our families.

No doubt, abortion was, is, and will always be a question with no right or wrong answers. I’m against taking a life, especially when the target in question cannot fight back or speak up. But I also think that the mother in question is the only one who can take a call on the matter. That too only in certain circumstances.

Well, I’m not going to debate the rights and wrongs of an age old issue here. Fine, so you tried to abort your baby for reasons best known to you. Assuming your child survived an abortion attempt, is it really necessary to let them know about it later? Does the parent in question even have a clue about the emotional crapload they’re dumping on a kid’s head??

Granted, from what I know my friend seems to have had a normal, happy life with her folks so far. But how does it feel to know that at some time, however long back, you were not wanted? That the ones responsible for your existence actually tried to eliminate you from the scene? And yes, this friend will have certain health issues for life, thanks to the botched abortion.

I guess this is better than what another friend of mine went through. Her teen years weren’t very smooth, what with her being the much younger child and her mom having a successful, demanding career. One particularly nasty mother-daughter spat stopped dead in its tracks when her mom yelled, “You know something?? I never wanted you. I knew it wasn’t good for my career. I would’ve aborted you, but your grandmom wouldn’t budge.”

We could only watch the trauma she went through while trying to come to terms with that revelation. She’s married now, with a child of her own. On the face of it atleast, she seems to have made peace with her mother. It’s not something I can ask about despite being a close friend.

I really don’t know.

And I can’t judge either, though it’s really hard to restrain myself from doing so. Mebbe it’s coz I’ve never seen an unborn child being regarded with anything other than joyful anticipation. Anxiety yes, but of the positive kind.

I guess there are some situations in life where the bliss of ignorance is the best alternative.