Friday, July 25, 2014


Before selfies became an art, a photographer’s research area, a psychologist’s study, they were something that we did covertly. The duck face selfies, the funeral selfies, and the half naked selfies that essentially are supposed to centre around the new ear ring - are a relatively new fad. Long before these trends became popular, we had the silent, hidden, old fashioned, selfies –not called selfies but selfies they sure were. Yes, I clicked my first displayable selfie in 2005 or 2006. And when I displayed it shyly to my husband fishing for a compliment, he asked me, “Motte, did you smile yourself?” I mean he didn’t say did you smile FOR yourself? He asked did you smile yourself? I knew what he meant, but I asked, does someone else smile for you? And gall aye gayee ho gayee, but naal di naal meri lassi ho gayee. ( That picture not displayed here. I don’t want any riots on FaceBook. As it is, the world doesn’t seem a very safe place to be anymore.)

A few weeks ago, at a wedding, when I thought I was nicely dressed up, and had some tolerable makeup on, and when I thought it was a good occasion to get myself clicked, I handed over the phone to Rasan to click some nice pictures of mine. She is the one who gives me all my cover pics for the FB, she is good with the camera. However, only she knows or God knows what happens when she is clicking me. She forgets all her art. Or perhaps the teenage is fast catching up with her? I thought she would act like the paparazzi, and click some pictures when I was not looking, and in the process capture some nice shots to keep. What she came up with was some real ugly mug shots with my chin drooping, eyes popping, my fat displayed and hair disarrayed. Thank God, she didn’t make a point of taking the picture of the right ear. Then I called out to Jai, and he is, as you know by now, being raised as a mercenary kid. I had no money to spare, so he didn’t do a good job at all.

Finally I had to resort to, yes, clicking selfies. With age fast getting on to my side, my needs are also diminishing. I just need an angle that shows off a dimple and a mole, perhaps the one from where the cheek looks slightly thinner, chin singular, eyes slightly bigger with eyelashes prominent (sans that grey eyelash, of course), hair less grey and neck slightly longer – and the dupatta has to be in place and the background people have to be minussed. That’s all that a girl asks for.

Vanity, ah vanity !!

P.S. – By the way Microsoft word still shows selfie as a non existent word and gives me “sulfide,” “sulfite,” “sheltie,” “self,” “shellfire,” as alternatives. More on this later, I like "shellfire" !! But I wonder why selfie has not joined the MS Word default vocabulary.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Jai's Lunch Boxes

Jai forgets his empty lunch box (god knows if he leaves it empty or throws his lunch away and then on purpose forgets his lunch box) daily at the school. I end up buying bulk packs of plastic sandwich boxes to compensate. And I have been requesting him to bring back those 10 odd boxes.

Conversation today:

Mampi-Would you bring the boxes back or you want me to show up at the school, yell at you and then bring those boxes back?
Jai- (hands folded) please !!
Mampi- No drama ! Would you or would you not, dude?
Mahesh - (who happened to be around when this conversation took place, in his usual polite tone) - the boy said he would bring the boxes back !
Mampi- (ignoring the father) I am talking to you Jai, would you or would you not ???
Jai- (quietly) You heard the Rooster !!

(For the past three days, Rasan has been roaming about with a book on Chinese horoscopes - Going by the year of birth, Jai is a Horse, Mampi and Rasan are Tigers, Mahesh is a Rooster )

(May 15, FB)

The Martian Rooster

So while I was busy acting the good mommy and the witty mommy, and was posting stuff about his kids, the Resident Rooster was readying for the flight. He informed me two days ago that he plans on buying a one way ticket to Mars. I don't know where he heard it from that there are 40 men and women (they are all Indians of course; maybe there will be more now that there is apni sarkar in the centre) who have bought this ticket. I searched the internet to discover that people are indeed vying for that one way ticket. Now how he would get that ticket is entirely his problem. I, like a true bhartiya pativrata nari, offered him my company. He, in his quintessentially polite way, said, "Mampi, you, precisely, are the reason why I want that ticket !!!"

So much for selfless love !! Bah!!

(May 23, FB)

The Procrastinator

Mampi-Jai ! Stop postponing things. (in Punjabi I said, 'ਪੈਰ ਘਸਾਉਣੇ ਬੰਦ ਕਰ')
Rasan- Jai, you are so lazy. You while away your time doing nothing.
Mampi- Jai ! You are such a procrastinator !!
Jai - What is a procrastinator??
Mampi - Go look up in the dictionary.
Jai - I don't have the time !!

Rasan chokes on the morsel in her mouth and yells (not subtly at all), "Irony Irony." She has been reading 'Macbeth' lately. Thank God she didn't yell "Blood, Blood!

(May 31, FB)


Narinderpal was hardly 4’-8.” Her face was small, dark wheatish, and she would tie her very curly, very black hair in a plait. She gave the impression of being a little school kid – only until she opened her mouth. Her voice was too heavy for her height and looks.

We were together in the GNDU campus during our M.A. days. I was from Goraya, so I had to live in the university hostel. She was from Sultanwind, and still liked to live in the hostel. The top floor of the B wing ( I think it was B) was assigned to our class. Her room was right opposite the shared washroom, so we would often stop by to say hi to her. Her smile would extend right into her small deep-set eyes.

She idolized me – I never thought I was worthy of her attention, or of her hero worship, but she somehow looked upto me with a certain devotion that would invariably leave me slightly embarrassed. It never flattered. Sincere though they always were - I was always looking for ways to escape her compliments. She would love the way I made notes, love the way I planned my studies, love the way I carried myself, loved the way I handled the stage – but I somehow always wanted to escape that praise.  She would like to walk with me, but I was always kind of self  conscious walking with her –she was so short and thin, I was taller and plumper. (okay, fat perhaps)

She had a huge crush on our very handsome teacher who taught us "Saint Joan." Oh my, didn’t we all? She would look at the tall Sardar with moonstruck eyes while he would animatedly deliver Joan’s speeches and Bluebeard’s exhortations. (Why did I always think Bluebeard must have looked like him?)

M.A. I happened, and then M.A. II flew by. My father passed away just two months before our exams were to start. Narinder would offer support whenever she would find me sitting and crying alone in my cubicle. She would force me to come to her room, and would talk to me. I still remember she said, “Manpreet, you will die crying, stop this and focus on your exams now.” I would be amazed to see where she got the courage to scold me. I had always respected her, but she became some kind of a go-to person in those days. We somehow finished our exams and parted ways, with promises to write to each other. Yes, those were the days when we would actually write long letters to friends.

I began writing to her, as I wrote to all my friends during the hot summer days awaiting results of M.A. She would write back in her small, neat and emphatic handwriting. Then her letters stopped coming. I still wrote – angry some times, anxious at others – but I kept writing to her, asking her - "Narinder - Nanni/Nannu (we used to call her) - where are you? What's happening?"

Three months, or was it four months? I received a letter from her brother. It read something like, “Dear Sister, who are you writing all those letters to? She died three months ago!!”

I did not have the courage to ask what happened to her. I just wrote a letter of condolence to him.

She stayed on, in my mind, I always wanted to write about her, her voice still is around me. We were never very close, but she somehow still lives somewhere in my heart.

(June 13, FB)


Am I the mirror in which you wanted to see yourself ?
And on purpose you shattered me? To see your multiple selves ?
So why does it now scare you to hear that nightly noise from those numberless shards?
(June 21, FB)

Moms and Chaos

Jai is getting ready for school. His father is with him, sitting cross legged on the floor. Jai puts his foot with his shoe on, on his father's thigh. "Papa, tie the laces."
"Am I your servant?" retorts the father. "Well, that's what fathers are for," the boy is quick. Meantime I reach there and overhear the talk. "Aha, so what are mothers for, my sweetiepie ?" I ask and plant a noisy kiss on his unwilling cheek. "Mothers are for chaos." he is ready with the response.
"Umm, to remove the chaos from your life, right?" I ask, expecting him to say, yes, fathers cause the chaos and mothers tackle it.
"To remove some and to create most," he says dispassionately.
I am ready to shed tears !!! Bade beqadar ho ke tere kooche se hum nikle. Swere swere !!
(posted on June 25 on FB)