Catching up with an old friend

Chat with old friend who found me using Facebook Friend Finder ….




Old Friend : OMG, so you are a hot shot author now.

Me : (Trying to be modest and underplayed) Yeah, I have a couple of books published

O F : Well, you always wanted to be a doctor

Me : Yeah, didn’t everyone else?  It was a done thing those days ….

O F : What?

Me : Adults would ask, “Beta badhe hokar kya banogey?” and we would chant, Doctor, IAS, IPS, Engineer. 

O F : You always said Doctor

Me : The idea of cutting people open must have sounded like fun to me

O F : So how come you’re not one?

Me : (Trying to wriggle out of admitting that I dropped out in the second month of med school) You wanted to be in IAS, and now you’re in marketing.

O F : Well, it pays better and does not get me posted out of Calcutta.  You can’t take a Bong out of Calcutta

Me : So how’s Didi?

Nice try … but he did not take the bait.

O F : (Still persisting) Never thought you’d be working in corporates and writing novels.

Me : (Uncomfortably)  Erm I work in one corporate only.

O F : And your marriage broke

Me : (Wishing I could strangle him through the computer screen) Yes

O F : You are Ritu Jain from Imphal and from Hindu College aren’t you?

Me : (Scowling) Was.  Now I am Ritu Lalit

O F : (I could sense the avid need to learn more gossip) You have changed so much!  How could you?  He was your big romance, how come?

Taking deep breaths, reminding myself that I once actually liked this bloke, and preaching myself tolerance…

Me : That was then, this is now.  You’re right.  I changed a lot.

O F : Like how?

Me : I got infected by Black Spider venom.  So I have this uncontrollable urge to kill or destroy old loves and old friends.  It is a problem but I am learning how to control it, and to live with it.  

O F : You’re not serious?

Me : Try me

Facebook, I owe you big time.  Haven’t had so much fun in ages 😛

Livin da vida loca


Circle of Life

Oh I simply love the songs of Lion King, remember Circle of Life?  Can anyone who has seen the movie ever forget Simba’s huge eyes as he takes in the world, along with the background score by Elton John?

Sigh …. It reduces me to mush!

Cut to the present.  Circle of Life in the Phoenix Household … Well it turns everyone into anything but mush.

However nice and sweet the parent (autocrat) is, just the parental role has the dumb and hapless subjects (children) … well you can call them prisoners/minions and whatever else you may want to name them, chaffing against authority.  Just being parent, you tread on their corns.

And how.

I was anything but the nice and sweet parent.  I am bossy, snooty and anything but reasonable, unless I get my way.  So there!  Boys, I do admit it, but if you rub it in, I’ll screw your happiness.  I still hold some aces, remember that!


The first thing one got as a New Year gift this year was Accu Check.  For the healthy young readers (Oh how I envy you) it is a home diabetes test kit.  One has to puncture a finger, and put a drop of blood on the test strip and it crunches out a number for you.  That all important number tells you how many sins you can commit with impunity in your diet for the day.

Day 3 of returning home from the hospital.  (Kid#1 is in Dubai.)  (Kid#2 is sitting on the bed watching me trying to puncture myself.)  I suffer no martyr complexes; I do not like injuring myself – even if the cause is as noble as my own health.

Kid#2 : Let me do it

Me : You don’t need to test your damn blood.

Kid#2 : What? Why should I?

Me : (Surprised) Exactly.  So why do you want to do it?

Kid#2 : (Rolls eyes) To you.

Ah, okay.  I hand him the darn kit and show him the finger.

Kid#2 : Stop being rude!

He punctures me and smears a whole lot of blood on the strip.  The machine goes ballistic and crunches out Er: 6 or some such thing.

Kid#2 : Oops we have to do it again.

Me : (Naively) Okay

It was four more stabs to three more fingers later that I realized I was victim here.  The old parent was being subjected to torture.  He was using the damn kit to settle some scores!  Damn, I should have learnt my lesson after he took my damn blackberry away two summers earlier!  Circle of Life  


Kid#2 : What’s for dinner?

Me : I think I should avoid dinner.  Some soup would be great.

Kid#1 : Minchow?  We have Minchow soup.

Me : Ah I love Minchow.  Its tangy.

Kid#2 : Ma can’t have it.

Me: Why?

He mutters something suspiciously like “Because you like it,” as he flees the room.  Yeah yeah, I guess I must have stopped you from gorging on too much cake or eating chocolate before bed sometime in the past.  Circle of Life.

CASE 3 (Yesterday)

Kid#1 : There is nothing tasty to eat at home.

Me : So go out, get something good and don’t bring it home.  It is too tempting.

Kid#1 : (Ignoring that) I am going to bake something.

Me : (Keeping quiet.  If I protest, it will aggravate him to the extent of dishing out a five course meal which I can’t eat.) Mmm, Hmmm

I switch on Anthony Borden.  If I have to suffer, I may as well suffer well.  I try to ignore the sound of batter being mixed, the oven pinging, though the smell of chocolate brownie baking reduces me to a puddle of drool on the floor.

Kid#1 : I love the smell of baking that fills up the house

Me : (wishing that the Crucio curse could be inflicted on people in the muggle world.) Don’t you think the brownie is burning?

(It wasn’t, but I HAD to give back some …

I got a miniscule portion of the cake, which was promptly taken to their rooms in the first floor.  I was left on the ground floor inhaling the smell of freshly baked brownie.

Circle of Life








Not Every One is Tim Allen

See what a steady diet of Tim Allen does to us!

Kid#2 is a Mechanical Engineer now. Well the first thing he did was get himself a tool kit

I kid you not, he got it and did a dance! It is the same dance I do when I lose some millimeters from my derriere or the DIL does when she is trying out a new dress!

And a Williams hammer

Apparently in the land of tools, Williams is God. It must be for the price a simple hammer from that company is sold. We used to make do with a simple iron head attached to a wooden handle.

And now he is eyeing a damp patch on the wall. He is asking how much it costs to get wood planks, he is eyeing more tools like a power hammer and a planer

And I am being supportive, though I do have moments when I have qualms about the roof falling on our heads. Tim Allen did all that and he survived. So did the house.

I hope we have a budding home improvement guy at home.

I do!

Wait! Was it Tim or was it Al who did things right?

Tim Allen is cute …

Any way Che Sera Sera

What not to do when you travel

There should be a travel primer, hard bound with instructions, you know, something like the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy.  I would carry it, and even pack in the towel.

Even without that we managed pretty well apart from a couple of things … may be more, but who’s counting eh?

1. I don’t own a credit card.  There I said it!  I refuse to own a credit card because when I did, I maxed it and spent a couple of years paying the dratted thing off, with a humongous amount of interest.  I don’t like paying for bankers’ perks, (they already have a great salary package) so I don’t keep a credit card.

2. I overshopped – no surprises there.  Have money, will spend being my motto, that is completely unsurprising.

3. The banks went on strike – and I had just a couple of grands in my purse.


4. Tried to be enterprising and even agreed to sell my next book short to get some money – but that plan fell through.

5. Banks started working one evening and I withdrew as much as I could.  Collective sighs of relief from Kid#2 and me.

6. Just when I thought I could point my wand at the Travellers’ Map and say ” Travel Managed” we missed our train back.  On our last day in Bangalore it rained.  It bloody rained!  Our hotel was 4 kilometers from Majestic Railway Station and we could not get there in 1.5 hours.  How idiotic is that?  The Rajdhani is never late, people, and I can vouch for it.  I reached the station ten minutes late and it was gone.

7. Sat on the platform and hyperventilated.

8. Got to know of another train to Delhi from a station an hour’s drive away. Lugged suitcases and got a cab – drove to the other railway station.  Sat in cab while Kid#2 talked with coolies and black market guys.  He came back and said “I won’t let you travel 3rd Class A/c Sleeper.”  Even though I protested, I am Aunt Scrooge of the house, I would protest, but he was adamant.

9. Rang up nephew who lives and works in Bangalore.  He was thrilled.  He had a barbecue party going on and he said, “Great news!  Lets party!” :O

So we partied … after I cashed in my debit card on air tickets the next day.

10. The next day both of us got to the airport 4 hours before the flight … see we can learn lessons, when they are pounded into us.


To everyone who expressed surprise at the fact that it did not rain during our vacation …. It did … on our last day of vacation

AND HOW!!!!!!!



When north meets south : India Untravelled Part II

Day 2 at Wynad, on our way to the Muthanga Wild Life Sanctuary


Kid#2 after unsuccessfully trying to make himself understood to the driver : Are we still in India?  Why does he not understand me?

Me : Because he does not know Hindi.  Try English

He does and gets better results and says in a surprised tone : Damn!  Hindi is our national language, so why does he not understand?

Me : Because he does not need to learn it.  Every one here speaks Tamil

Kid#2 : After thinking this out : So Tamil is the language here?

Me : No, there are many, Tamil, Telegu, Kanadda, Konkani, Malayalam and may be a few more …

Kid#2 :  Hindi works wherever you go in North India.  We have no other language.

Me : Bull!  We have many … Braj, Haryanavi, Punjabi, Dogri, Rajasthani etc etc

Kid#2 : But every one understands Hindi.  Do people here have a common language?

Me : Hating to admit it but … : I don’t know

Silence for a while …

Kid#2 : I feel I am foreign here, people eat stuff I did not know about, people wear clothes which are strange

Me : Whaaat??? What strange clothes

Kid#2 : I have never seen so many people wearing dhotis and sporting moustaches in the north

He is right you know


Something about India Untravelled

India Untravelled is a social enterprise that aims to bridge the marketing gap between socially responsible rural tourism offerings in India & urban travellers looking for authentic experiences

The unexpected

A great deal of humor comes from the unexpected. A frail old woman opens her mouth and you are shocked into a giggle because the voice that emerges is deep baritone and manly.

An upright dignified man stands up and lets loose a ripping fart.

The charm of the unexpected.

Twists in tales, riveting suspense etc also depend on the unexpected. So do memorable incidents from childhood, it makes a tale worth repeating

For me, that happened as a girl, its an experience that I will carry to my death bed. I have always been fascinated by spooky stuff, ouija boards/planchet and tarot cards are right up my alley. Possibly because the ayah and the cook in our home were nuts about spooky stories, and I knew more about bhoot, pret, pisaach, dayans etc (our version of witches vampires zombies etc) than my school lessons.

So one day I saved up a lot of money and went and bought an ouija board.

There was a party at night and the adults partied in the hall and the kids were in my bedroom. The adults told us “Oh go ahead, play some board games.”

Yes, you guessed right, we did play a board game .. we took out my ouija board. We switched off the light and sat down in front of the fireplace. The smell of coal and pine wood was overpowering and we all looked like demons lit by the orangeish light of the fire.

We placed a coin on the board right between the spaces marked YES & NO, tried to empty our minds, each of us with a finger resting lightly on the coin. We tried asking questions, but the coin would move a few millimeters and then stop, yes right between YES & NO. We wondered what to do. My cousin complained, “Even the ghosts dont want to play with us.”

Another one said, “I want to go to the bathroom.”

We all stopped him by saying, “If you go right now, the ghost may just overpower you on the way – you know possess you.”

So he shut up and sat. Then we concentrated on calling the spirit of Chanakya. The coin moved about an inch to the left. Gasping we quickly drew lots on who would ask the questions first.

One cousin wanted to know if he would live abroad. The coin came alive wavering between the two points stopping at YES.

Cheering madly we started asking all sorts of questions, including if our horrible principal, Sister Lydia wore a panty under that nun’s habit.

Yeah! I mean we’re family and our average age was around 11 to 14.


I remember that Dony (my brother) wanted to know if he would get selected for the school team.

Another cousin wanted to go to England. It was his life’s ambition ever since his older sister got married to a man there ..

Both got YES

Then I asked if I would go to medical school. My parents really wanted me to become a doctor. The coin wavered between YES and NO for a long time.

Then my cousin said impatiently, “I have to HAVE to take a dump. I can’t do this anymore!” and left.

The coin stopped moving once he left. That was unexpected and disappointing. The older cousin said, “I am going to bash him up, he’s been pushing the coin.”

That really hurt gullible me, who believed that the spirit of Chanakya had entered the coin.

Then there was another unexpected surprise. My mother and other ladies threw the door open, caught sight of the board and freaked out. One of the servants had come a few minutes back to serve us snacks and had seen what we were up to and ratted on us. The board was confiscated, punishments doled out to us and we never called spirits again.

The strange thing is

1. The cousin who wanted to go abroad has spent the last twelve years in Hong Kong

2. The cousin who wanted to go to UK is a British citizen and rarely comes back.

3. I was admitted into medical school, but could not handle blood and disease … so dropped out

May be Chanakya or some other spirit did come into the coin.

BTW the “have-to-take-a-dump” cousin still does not admit that he pushed the coin.

Internet is fun

Cast of Characters :

Phoenixritu, a 50 year old female

Kartikeya, a 20 year old youth

Walk ins : 3 dogs and a cat

Online : Various cousins

Curtain opens to reveal a double storey house, with Phoenixritu lying on her bed propped up by overstuffed cushions and bolsters on the lower level, and Kartikeya sitting flanked by dogs on the upper level.  The furnishing is modern and eclectic.  In the background, soft tones of Kandisa is playing, the sound emanating from the laptop..

The camera pans the scene and then focuses on the laptop and mobile lying next to the lady.  The youth picks up his phone and quickly punches some keys.  Downstairs the mobile next to Phoenixritu pings.  She picks it up and stares at the screen.

Message : I am still waiting for your move on Words with Friends

She looks up at the roof, and grins.  Then she pings back

I am miffed.  You said ABACINATE was not a word even though the app accepted it.

He laughs.  Then punches a few more words.  Her mobile pings again

Accha baba, sorry.  I checked it up on  Now PLAY!!!

Phoenixritu shifts slightly in her bed and then opens the app on her phone and studies it.  She thinks a bit.

Meanwhile Kandisa loses its voice.  It is drowned by the thumping of some rock music from the first floor.  She plays her move and then switches her music off.  She plugs her phone to her laptop and goes online.

A Skype window opens :

Cousin ! from UK : Hey Ritu, what’s cooking?

Phoenixritu : I made dal with capsicum, something Monika posted on the web.  And I am thawing kheema, will make some mince cutlets.  What did you cook?

Cousin 1 from UK : Steak and kidney pie.

There is a short pause.

Phoenixritu : (Scowling) Show off!  Just because you guys in Glasgow have no power cuts and can bake all the time …. (Sniffs a bit) Anyway just post the recipe on your blog.

Cousin 1 : Pulling out her tongue : Jealous Cat! Stop being childish.  I will mail you the recipe.  So what’s up?  Kuch naya …

Phoenixritu : Picking up the sleeping cat and positioning it in front of the camera : This is news!  My new pet, her name is Arya!

Cousin 2 from Toronto: There I told you Didi.  Ritu has regressed into childhood.  She has once again started picking up strays.

Cousin Bro from Hong kong : Nah she was always chickish!

Phoenixritu : So?  My life, my house, my decision.  Big Deal!

Cousin Bro : Such a brat!  Grow up!

Phoenixritu : Growing Old is Mandatory

All cousins in a chorus : Growing Up is Optional

Cousin Bro : Yeah yeah we all know that one.  Bored of it.  Think of something new

Meanwhile the cat has had enough, wriggles out of her grasp and jumps on to the laptop. Phoenixritu screams and grabs the laptop and the phone before it hits the ground.  The net connection goes.

She lies on the bed, clutching the laptop an phone, looking shocked.  In a few minutes Kartikeya comes running down

Kartikeya : What happened?

Phoenixritu : Nothing.  The darn cat nearly killed my laptop and phone.

Kartikeya : Hongkong wala Mamaji said something happened to you and you screamed.

Phoenixritu : Sitting up and shaking her head dazedly.  Yeah disaster almost happened.  My phone nearly went.  My net, my games, my whatsapp, my twitter, my facebook, my mail.  I nearly died!

She shudders at the thought of disaster that could have happened.

There is a sound of something falling in the kitchen.

Both run to investigate.  

The cat has thrown the kheema (minced meat) which was on the slab thawing on to the floor.

All the dogs and the cat are happily sharing the meal.

Phoenixritu : Dont scare them.  Let me get my phone.  I have to take a pic and upload it on Facebook

Kartikeya : Ma, that was our dinner

Phoenixritu : What?  The photo is more important than dinner.  We can always reheat lunch.

Kartikeya : Sadly : Damn I wanted mince cutlets.  Dont forget to tag me on that photo

Phoenixritu : Sure.  I will also tag the cousins.

Kartikeya : By the way, I know you are cheating.  Where do you get words from.  Digamy … DIGAMY???  What does it mean anyway?

Phoenixritu : Second marriage after the death of your spouse.  You should research these words ….

-: Curtain falls :-

Isn’t Internet fun? For less than  Rs 200 a month, one can be connected to friends and family, get recipes, play games, and even connect the phone to a computer and access fast internet and unlimited browsing with the awesome Vodafone 3G speed. 

This post is for the Vodafone Internet Is Fun Contest

Petville at Phoenixhouse

As long time readers of my blog know we are dog lovers, at least my boys and daughter in law are.  I like them, but they are so clingy and my soul is the sort that can’t handle clingy.  So I love them, but not the way they do.  They will cuddle endlessly with the dogs, and even have them sleep on their bed.  I keep on controlling the urge to tell the dogs “Go grow a spine!”  Heck I did that with my sons and they grew such a strong one, that now I have to chase after them for some hugs and cuddles.  Talk about overdoing the damn independence bit!


Yeah, they find summers too hot and laze around on the rug in the day, lolling in the airconditioned comfort of my bed room, while I am slaving in the office.

We also have fishes and turtles.  Excuse me for not posting a pic of them.  The aquarium is dirty and the damn maintenance guy has not come for weeks!

About ten days ago, I met with an accident at a busy intersection.  Slight damage to the car but none to self thankfully.  While I was standing on the pavement frantically dialing the mechanic and the son to come and rescue me I saw a small kitten, barely a month old.  She leaped out  from under the tyres of a Tavera.  I caught her.  The poor mite was shivering and howling.  Well, it kind of went with my mood.  I was suffering reaction from my accident.  There was no way in hell that I would leave that kitten to the mercy of traffic and wild animals.  Kid#2 came charging in to rescue me and saw the little thing and said, “No way!  We are a dog family, are you shitting me?”

I stood my ground.  The kitten needed a home and I was giving her one.  So the kitten came home.  For one whole day she mewled and hid in various places like under the bed and in the kitchen cabinet, while we brainstormed for a name.  I said Socks, since her feet are white.  Yeah, I save my imagination for my novels.  The family trashed this.  Boys being what they are suggested Pussy.  Yeah, they would 😉

One day went by, and the kitten got friendly with the dogs.  Or rather she started bullying them.  She plays hunt a dog.  The game is simple if you are a feline.  You hide or climb to a spot of great height.  Then you wait until a canine passes by.  You jump onto the hapless creature and make it jump in surprise.  If the canine retaliates, you jump or run away and then play catch a doggie tail in your mouth.

Needless to say the dogs were shocked and bewildered.  But it was good bonding for both the species.  The cat was yet un-named.

Then Kid#1 who was avidly following these events from Dubai came up with a brilliant name for her.  He said she reminded him of Arya Stark from Game of Thrones.  I found it apt.  Well the option I had threatened to stuff down their throats if they did not come up with a name was Jalebi Bai.  Arya was better, way better.

So, dear readers, introducing Arya, the latest denizen of the Phoenix Household

Yes, we have belled the cat.  Its the only way to prevent locking cat in the wardrobe or in kitchen cabinets.

Practicing her fearsome look

The best part is the conversion of my Kid#2.  The first day when Arya was a mewling bundle of terror and nerves, he complained, “We are a dog family. How can we adopt a cat?”

And now he spends the most time playing with her!

(She loves to sleep in the fruit bowl on the dining table)

Safe to say, we are an animal family …


“2 women bloggers on an ‘exotic’ beach in the middle of June!  Can you imagine that?””


I looked at my son stuffing his mouth with his double cheese double meat patty and double everything burger enviously as my stomach did a flip flop in reaction to the food he was ingesting.  Damn!  Did I ever eat like that and still remain slim?


I popped a Digene into my mouth, his food was giving me acidity!


He considered this and glugged his soda.  “They are bloggers … so they won’t be hot stuff.  No offense Ma, but too much time on the computer makes the butt so – well so ‘not so hot!’”


Years of parenting has made me adept at ignoring unflattering observations from the cretin I have spawned.  So I ignored this and went back to the screen of my laptop and studied the Indiblogger contest announcement.


“Kyra will be there too!”


He perked up.  “Kyra who?”


I looked at him chomping on that burger, wrestled with my conscience and I won!  I said sweetly, “Kyra is my very good friend.  I met her online ages ago.  She has dark brown hair and eyes and a very curvy figure.  And she wears short dresses that flatter her erm … make her look oomphy!”


She was Elena first, now they've changed her name


He looked at me totally disbelievingly.  Then he did the unthinkable, he accused me of lying, almost


“You’re overdoing it Ma.”


I waved that away.


“What is more, she is an outdoorsy kind of person and she is offering me an all expense paid trip to the beach.  We’ll play beach volley ball and build sandcastles, sip pina coladas and ….”


He choked on it.  “Why?” He asked, “You are not the outdoor type.  You think the sun will give you wrinkles.”


Then he squinted his eyes and stared at my face.  “For your age, you don’t have many.”


I melted.  I am a sucker for flattery from my sons; they don’t compliment me very often.  I even forgave him for eating that horrendous burger so early in the morning, in front of me.


“That is because I don’t go out in the sun much and also because I read an awesome article years ago when you were two or three.  It gave me a lot of gyan.”


“Mumma come to the point.”


Okayy.  I admit I have become a tad bit long winded with age.


“Well apart from all the gyan it gave me the article was named “Wear Sunscreen”.  So I slather it on!”


“Sometimes you talk like a firang”, my irreverent spawn commented.


“No I don’t.  Long time ago people laughed at the NRI types who carried mineral water with them.  Slowly we came to understand that it was important to drink clean water and now we always carry a bottle of mineral water with us when we go out.  The same way sunscreen is important.  We get good Indian ones too, that don’t burn a hole in the wallet.  Like Lakme.”


“Where does your Kyra come into this?”


That stumped me a bit.

“Oh she wears Lakme sunscreen too, when she romps on the beach like one of those California beach babes.  It is one of those ….”


He read it off the screen of my computer “The Lakme Sun Expert Fairness + UV Lotion with SPF 50 gives complete UV protection to your skin, no matter how strong the rays are!   I must admit Kyra is gorgeous.”


I looked at him reproachfully.


“Bye Ma, all the best for the contest,” he said as he actually ruffled my hair very paternally.  I mean, I am the parent here!


I watched as he slung his bag on his shoulder and just then his phone rang.  He picked it up, winked at me and said, “Hey Kyra!  How are you doing?  Yeah I’m just moving out.”


I started at him open mouthed.  He covered the speaker with his hand and waggled his brows at me


“Romp on the beach with Kyra?” he whispered to me and walked out.


This blogpost is in response to the Indiblogger Lakme Diva contest