Haircut During Covid! My Experience

A little background

A year ago, I had written a blog, ‘Five Reasons Why You Should Get A Short Haircut Once In Your Lifetime’. Sharing the link. To give a recap, I had written about how my natural hair is curly and since I have got it smoothened once,  I now have to keep getting some treatment once a year to make it look neat.  I had also written about my husband’s obsession with short hair, and how he kept telling the stylist to make my hair, “really short” and I kept saying, “not too short” and the poor stylist did the best she could!

Before the haircut

Cut to 2020.   September 2020 marked 1 year since I had got any haircut,  trimming,  or treatment.  My curls and waves were coming back, and not in a flattering way.  I always wash my hair in the evening after coming back from office, and even though there has been no office since March 2020, the habit of washing the hair in the evening continued.   Old habits die hard!   Even though I always use a drier, I still end up feeling cold sometimes and any sign of cold would again trigger a scare…

I was originally planning to get a haircut in March. In March, covid started. During that time, I was watching a lot of news from Italy.   The leaders of the country were scolding people who went to the salon.

‘You will die with your hair set!’

‘You will look beautiful! In a coffin!’

I took those warnings very seriously.  I judged people who went for haircuts and posted pictures.  Was it worth the risk? Was it necessary? I asked.  I forbade my husband from going for a haircut too. I offered to cut his hair (an offer instantly refused!) and he ended up buying a hair trimmer which messed his hair up!  By September, I was totally frustrated with my hair and I wanted to go for a cut.  My husband told me that this time, I should get the really short haircut he wanted me to get last time.  I was hesitant for many reasons. Covid is the most obvious. But there were more.  I knew that such haircuts will not work on a half wavy, half smoothened,  unruly, have not left the house in seven months kind of a hair.  The stylist will surely ask me to get a treatment.  The question is, am I willing to spend so much money on my appearance when all I am doing is sitting at home? The few visits for essentials and drives are in a  mask and headshield anyway, so why waste money?

To this, my husband asked, ‘Do you want to look good for yourself or for others?’

And this got me thinking. He is right…

I also thought that it is a good opportunity to do something bold and experimentative. If it doesn’t suit,  I don’t have to go anywhere.  Not without a mask anyway.   And so I went ahead…

During the haircut

The parlour that I go to is very reputed. They had shoe covers,  temperature check,  PPE thing to put on (which they charged us with) and they were sanitizing everything continuously.  I never doubted that because I know they are good at their service.   There were a couple of other customers, all wearing masks and sitting distant from each other.  I did not feel uncomfortable at this point.

As expected, the (senior) stylist suggested the cysteine treatment which I had done last time. My husband showed her pictures and gave her strict instructions  about how he wants my hair to look. She said, ‘Ma’am was scared last time so I did not make it too short!’

I told her, ‘Just do what he says this time!! Anyway for the next few months, I am confined to home! Even if it looks bad, it doesn’t matter!’ This made her feel bad  because she immediately said that my hair had looked good last time, and she will surely make it look nice this time too.

“Yes of course, you are one of the best stylists I know!” I complimented her.

She told me that the treatment and haircut in all will take 3-4 hours, and that I will have to come back the next day for the first hair wash. I was aware of this drill.   Basically, 3-4 hours in the parlour for two consecutive days.

My husband never gets haircut done from big salons. He is a very simple person and he says there is nothing special about cutting a man’s hair, and that what these people charge is ridiculous.   I don’t know if I mentioned this in the last blog, but this salon happens to be in the same building as my husband’s office.  So after dropping me there, he goes to finish his work. I always joke with him:

“Do you want my haircut and treatment to take longer, so that you get more time to work?”

The first day at the parlour was relatively peaceful. The only two other customers left soon and it was just me and my husband. My husband decided to get a haircut too since he was there. The stylist asked him about his weird hair and if he had cut it himself!

It reminded me of how as women we are always asked the same thing about our eyes brows, ‘Last time kaha se karaya tha, bigad gaye hain aapke eye brows!’

I was hoping to get a good discount, but there wasn’t much.  I guess if I see from their point of view, their business has been so down that they probably cannot sustain themselves.  So the treatment ended up being as expensive as last time.  Throughout the hair cut, my husband kept saying ‘boy cut’ to the stylist, which scared me!!

The second day, the day of the hairwash, there was a man who came with his son, and both father and son removed their masks.    I told my stylist to tell them to wear their masks,  to which she said that they can’t because in the past customers have scolded them and asked them to’mind their own business’. This is really unfortunate and shameful . I wish people had more sense.  I felt worse for the poor guy cutting the unmasked man’s hair.  My stylist moved me to spot furthest away from the irresponsible man.  I kept complaining about him though…

The hair wash, the air conditioning and the cold substance in my hair for two consecutive days did make me feel cold. I had a headache the next day.

Am I one of those stupid people who risk their safety for a haircut? I asked myself.

But this is a warning to those who are planning to visit the salon.

  • The salon may be well kept and sanitized but there may be stupid customers around who don’t wear a mask, or remove it or wear it in a way that does not cover their nose.
  • The hair wash and the air conditioning may give you a cold, which if you are like me will make you wonder if you got corona.
  • If you are wearing a very thick mask,  they may not get the angle from the sides close to the ears. So you may have to either wear those disposable ones they provide, or remove your mask and cover your face and nose with it (for few seconds), which is what I did.

Other than this, it was a  good experience for me. Although I would certainly not recommend my mother and my mother-in-law to go to a parlour until the pandemic ends, not even home service!

But yes, I appreciate that people have a livelihood and they are taking the necessary precautions to make it as safe as possible.

Post haircut

I had always wanted bangs in my hair, something I did this time.   My hair is really short now. What you see in the picture is what it is, all there is! There is no hair in the back that I have tied.  There is nothing to tie, and nothing to comb! The bang looks stylish but when I am in the kitchen or doing any work on my laptop it irritates me and I pull it back.

From the back, you can see my neck. It is kind of cool because now people can see my necklace from the back too! Some advantage of short hair!   I have only got compliments so far, and ofcourse a change is always welcome. I think men like short hair. At least the men in my life.   My husband loves the haircut. My father liked it too, and admired my husband for suggesting it! A few days later, my father was saying something about ‘Badi badi khushiyan hain chhoti chhoti baton mein’ in the context of our new look. I think my husband’s hair is also looking very nice because he got it done from a stylist this time. Although he feels that it is the same!

I would say this is a good time to experiment, since we are not going out much and can recover from disasters if any! At the least, it has brought some novelty in the boring, monotonous and nothing to look forward to days.

I have never had my hair this short since the time I was 10-11.   I have always been so conscious of my looks.  I feel bad about random comments from random people.  I doubt myself.   But my husband has always been fond of the way I look.  His affection has boosted my confidence . That along with the age factor (if not now then when) has made me bold!  I think it is only because of him that now I don’t care about so many things, like wearing glasses more frequently, not wearing heels. I guess this is what being comfortable with being who you are means.

If you had a haircut during covid , do share your story in the comments. Would love to know!

 

 

Dolly Kitty and Whatever: Confused, Messy and Unnecessary!

How to make a ‘woke film’?

  • Female sexuality = A woman can cheat. A woman can instantly leave anyone who does not satisfy her sexually, even if it is the father of her two children.
  • Throw in an element of caste
  • Throw some Hinduphobia
  • Throw some gender identity crisis for a child
  • Make the women abuse because it is cool!

And Tada! The mess is ready!

Half an hour into this movie, I told my husband,  ‘Movie ka kuch sar par pata nahi chal raha hai’.  Something in Dolly (Konkana’s) demeanor reminded me of ‘Lipstick under my burkha.’   It was only after watching the movie and doing some research, I realized that both movies were directed by the same person, and that the central theme was supposed to be female sexuality.

Except that ‘Lipstick under my burkha’ was a very interesting, refreshing story. Ratna Pathak’s storyline was very compelling.   Sharing a link to my review of the ‘lady oriented’ movie. One of the things I liked about it was the ending.   Nothing drastic happened.  They were not trying to make a point.  They were not forcing us to believe anything. They were not trying to convince us.   They showed us the raw desires of four women of different age groups going about with their routine (dual) life.

This is where Dolly Kitty differs and fails! Unfortunately,  this movie forces its  skewed narrative of female sexuality and empowerment in our face.

SPOILER ALERT!!!! Please do not read further if you plan to watch this movie. Come back once you watch it!

Dolly (Konkana) is a married, middle class working woman, a mother of  two sons who is planning to move to a newly built luxury apartment soon.  She likes to steal money from her office and lies to her husband about selling her jewelry in order to pay for their dream flat.  Dolly falls for a delivery boy and ends up sleeping with him. She then realizes that she was not ‘frigid’. She just did not find her husband attractive.  This revelation makes her decide to leave her husband!

Kitty or Kajal (Bhumi) is a small-town girl who has reached the big city to pursue her dreams. When I say dreams and you are thinking that she wants to get a good job, update her skills, and get higher education, you are wrong.  Her dream is to lose her virginity! Bhumi looks too mature and well kept to portray a naïve, young, poor, unsophisticated little thing.

Conclusion of the movie

A married woman who confessed to having her hymen stitched before marriage to deceive her husband, after cheating on him decides to leave him along with her two sons because:

Hey! My body my choice!   I live for an orgasm!

Dolly was abandoned as child by her mother for a lover, something that traumatized her. She probably knows the impact it has on a family. Why does she choose the same path? What effect will this have on her kids? What is her financial plan?

Who cares! 

A young woman working as a call center executive who provides phone sex/ companionship services to lonely, frustrated men gives a speech on how she is not ashamed of her job, and how something similar should be created for women. The makers also show women empowerment by installing a model of vagina, and showing blood stained bed sheets as a sign of losing virginity. This only further adds to the myth that all women bleed the first time!

There seemed to be a plot about the real estate scams of Noida but the writers forgot about it towards the end of the movie. Even they could not try to keep track of the messy storylines! In a bizarre finale, Hindu goons end up killing the only two characters of another religion!

Is this women empowerment?

There have been movies made on female sexuality in Bollywood. The best I can think of is Astitva. The movie had a plot, a strong storyline and hard-hitting dialogues.  I can never forget the conversation between Tabu and her chauvinist husband, in which she questions him. It was so powerful.

In Dolly Kitty… Dolly’s husband is made to show the villain because he tried to touch his wife’s cousin and the makers believe this justifies her cheating on him and leaving him.   In a pathetic scene, the poor husband tells her that they should work it out, even try counseling but our empowered heroine is done with him. They also want us to believe that the young delivery boy is noble because he promises to marry her!  After leaving her husband, Dolly magically allows her son to play with dolls and dress up a girl, something she has so far been disapproving of.  Dolly’s husband is also a villain because he tried the phone sex app,  the same app that Kajal justifies for women.

Let us reverse the gender in all of this. Would we appreciate a movie where a married man with two kids cheats on his wife and leaves her because he does not enjoy sex with her?   Kajal advocates apps for women where women will get two minutes of companionship from unknown men. Is this what women want?  Is this what men what?  Is this all anyone wants from life? Few minutes of gratification? In a time when we talk about mental health, lack of fulfilling relationships and loneliness arising out of casual flings and what truly matters in life, what kind of a message is the movie trying to give?

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Let’s smash the hypocrisy

Me and you.

 

 

 

Married Daughters Want Rights In Property, But What About Their Responsibilities?

In a significant judgment, the Supreme Court Tuesday ruled that daughters will have equal right in the parental property as son even if their father died before the Hindu Succession (amendment) Act 2005 came into force.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said, “Daughters must be given equal rights as sons. Daughter remains a loving daughter throughout life. The daughter shall remain a coparcener throughout life, irrespective of whether her father is alive or not.”

Source:

A random discussion on the above judgment led to a debate. A friend of mine said that women want ‘equality’ in everything that benefits them, yet when it comes to their duties they ‘conveniently take a step back.’

When I asked him to explain further, he told me that his sister does not ‘keep’ their parents with her ever.  Except for someone occasional visits, the maintenance of parents is his sole responsibility.

Why should she get a right in the property, when she does not have any responsibilities? He asked.

I happen to know his sister too. The sister says that her husband ‘does not like’ her parents living with them. He also says, ‘Aise thode hi na hota hai!’

The sister is not in any way a weak person. She puts up a good fight with her husband. However, when things worsen with her husband, the people to get the most affected are her own parents. Like most parents of Indian daughters, they say:

Beti damaad khush to hum khush. Hamari wajah se jhagda nahi hona chahiye

So many married women tolerate a lot in their marriage because they feel the stress will affect their parents.

I am not surprised since most Indian husbands and their families retain the rights to ‘allow’ the wife / daughter-in-law to see her parents .   On the other hand,  the husband’s parents are naturally expected to be living with the son and his wife. I recently watched the movie, ‘Shankuntala Devi’ in which the late Shankuntala Devi’s character asks her daughter and son-in-law to live with her after marriage.  The son-in-law is shocked at this proposal.   She then asks him would this be such a preposterous expectation had she been the mother of a son?

Has the family of a boy ever said:

Beta bahu khush to hum khush. Hamari wajah se jhagda nahi hona chahiye!

I have seen ‘progressive’ families have very hypocrite thoughts. They like to flaunt how magnanimous they are that they ‘allow’ their daughters-in-law to visit their parents without any restrictions. Some families do not forbid, however they frown upon how the bahu is not ‘samajhdar’ enough to understand her responsibilities because she is still so attached to her parents’ home. The same people praise their own daughter for being so loving and caring towards them.

When a woman marries into a family, the family does not become her owner. It is silly of them to expect that she will stop visiting her parents because now she has a new family.  When a husband stops his wife from meeting her parents, he should remember that the wife may comply because she does not want to ruin her marriage, but she will not respect him for trying to disconnect her with the people she loves.

Instead of comparing how much the wife does for her parents vs. her in-laws, how about we for a change ask the same question to the husband?

Yes, rights vs responsibilities is a very good question. And to answer my friend, yes, I agree that married daughters should take the responsibility of her parents.  I think there was a Mumbai high court ruling also which held that a married woman must take care of maintenance of her parents. I agree that equality in rights means equality in responsibilities as well.

The only unfortunate part is that we not only have to fight for our rights, but for our responsibilities also.

 

 

 

 

 

Lockdown Post 4: How Is The Eye Brows, Hair and Housework Growing Oops Going!

When I was 18-19, I used to be very conscious about my looks.   I would get my eyebrows threaded every 15 days. ‘Only extras’, I used to instruct the beautician.  I would add, ‘Patla nahi karna!!‘  My eyebrows were never thick or even dark to begin with, so this was a doomed request.   Every time the beautician would say, ‘Do-teen maheene tak  bilkul chhod dijiye, tab hi full growth hoga!”

And I used to wonder, ‘Where will I hide myself for three months!!’

As I got into late 20s, the frequency of getting threading changed to once in a couple of months.  In between there were home beauticians.  But in the past two years everybody rejected me saying ‘Minimum 500 or 1,000’.  Hence, back to salons! It was irritating because the choice of parlour unfortunately depended on the availability of parking, and not on the service.  The actual threading would take 10 minutes, but the waiting time would be longer. I was never a parlour person.  Eye brows was the only thing I got done. And every beautician who looks at my eye brows always gasps in horror, ‘Kharab ho gaye hain. Last time kahan se karaya tha.’  And my answer invariably is Aapke yaha se hi karaya tha!’

To get rid of this pain, I bought a trimmer last year and stopped going to the parlour completely. It was a big relief. I have not even bothered to use the groomer for the past four and a half months!!  I am sure this is beyond the ‘full growth’ any beautician would dream of!

My hair also has to be compulsorily smoothened ever year. Otherwise, it gets wavy and curly from the roots, and straight from the bottom!  I would tell the stylist, ‘I want my curls to come back’ and she would say, ‘Then you have to leave it for a year or so!’

And I would think, ‘How can I go to office looking so untidy and messy for one year!’

The curls are 60 -70 percent back! I think by the end of 2020 it will all be back! The contact lens which I abruptly stopped using in March turned into a stone! I have not ordered a new pair since then!

I guess it is somewhat liberating to not have to worry about looks!!

And even though I hate doing all the housework and cooking by myself, there is a certain amount of peace in not having to depend on anyone. The calling, the waiting, the not showing up without any communication, I don’t’ think I miss it!

So my question is are we getting comfortable with this new normal?

P.S.

Actually, I should call it, ‘Unlock Post’ since there is no lockdown currently in my city. But you know what I mean….

 

Indian Matchmaking! Entertainment, Entertainment, Entertainment!

It was hard to miss articles / memes on this show. Even before I had watched it, words such as ‘cringe’, ‘casteism’, ‘sexism’, ‘elitist’, ‘fair’ , ‘regressive’ etc. used in the  context of the show made me skeptical about watching it.

In the first five minutes of the show, I was wondering if the show was a satire.   I then realized it was not, and I was a little shocked.   Next thing, I know I binge watched and finished it in two days. Some thoughts:

  • It is tough to find a partner

Not everybody gets married at 25. Not everybody meets someone organically and falls in love AND marries the same person.

There are elderly couples shown in the beginning of each episode who have been married forever. I found them really cute. As one of those ladies rightly said, ‘Someone has to introduce you.  A friend, Parents…’

I agree. The matchmaker is also just a source.  In the time of Tinder,  why should we frown upon the idea of a matchmaker! It is just a personalized, customized and super expensive or Premium Tinder as someone said on the show!

  • The show is not the problem. Our hypocrisy is

Until a generation ago in India,  people  believed that a partner is someone chosen for you, just like you don’t choose your mother, father, brother, sister.   People accepted their spouse as destiny and lived with it.  We don’t anymore, of course!  We have options.  Men and women both reject each other.  Since the show was about arranged marriages, critics have labelled it as regressive.

Rejecting based on looks or social status is not something specific to an arranged marriage.  We reject people every day because we don’t like them. In school, college,  tuition classes, gym, office dating app or any place else where men and women meet physically or virtually. We may not spell it out for them directly:

I want someone who is above 5’3 and you are clearly not!

I want someone with minimum this much salary and you are below my standards!

I think I can do much better!

We reject people even without knowing it. Like the guy  staring at the girl, but the girl does not find him interesting enough to even acknowledge.

We do this. It has been done to us.  This is how it works.

“The girl should be taller than 5’3”

This line made me laugh. I am not 5’3.  I remember so many people telling me since the time I was 12-13 that I should do monkey bars so that I become “at least 5’3″! Even if I don’t grow beyond that, it is fine!

  • My partner. My choice!

When we are young, we are shallow. We want our partner to be someone who makes us look good. Often  the superficial qualities we look for in our partner is a manifestation of our own insecurities.    I was told I will not find a tall guy because I was short!  I have heard dark-skinned guys say that they only care that the girl should be fair, because they have been told they will never get one!

I have rejected guys at 24-25, because their English was not good. Looking back, I feel that should not have been the criteria. Elders do the job of counseling marriageable children, and tell them that these things do not matter.   They may be right.  But the point is, as much as we should not let certain things bother us, if it still does,  then marrying someone who we don’t find attractive (physically, intellectually)  is also not fair, to either person.

It is not at all easy! All said and done, if anyone reading this is single and searching let me tell you that marriage is a lot of work, no matter who you marry!!  There is no right person or right choice. You take a decision, and live with it (or not!)!

  • Characters on the show

I don’t know how much of the show was scripted but certainly the characters were real people. My favourite person was Nadia. I found her very pleasant and felt bad for her when she got stood up.   Initially I found Aparna and her mother difficult until I saw Akshay and his mother!

I found Aparna and her mother entertaining.   I would like to say a lot about Akshay and his mother, Preeti but I would refrain since these are real people and not actors!  I have some views on “Pretty, rich boy” also but I guess it would not be nice to share it!

I know a lot of people liked Vyasar and Ankita but I don’t have any opinion on them. I was shocked that someone like Ankita said that she could understand that the man she met (forgetting his name) did not mention that he was divorced to her because it was their first meeting, and she may tell people about it! As if being divorced is a crime that should be hidden!

Pradyuman’s sister was sensible . I liked  how she told her brother when he said that the girl was not for him, ‘Why should she be for you!’

She made another interesting point. At the initial matchmaking stage, most people give a lot of importance to ‘being able to have a conversation’ with someone.  I did too.  This may again be a very overrated thing. If you are having a great conversation with someone in the first meeting, please be aware it may just be superficial!! People pretend!!

  • Sima Aunty! The viral sensation!

I found her hilarious! Long time back, one of my friends had asked me to watch ‘A Suitable Girl’ on Netflix in which Sima Aunty’s daughter gets married,  (and two other girls).   I watched it after watching ‘Indian Matchmaking’.  It is a nice documentary. Very realistic, non-glamourous and emotional. Sima Aunty is more of an anxious mother than a matchmaker in that one.

  • Filmein Sirf Teen Cheezon Se Chalti Hain, Entertainment, Entertainment, Entertainment!

Netflix bhi entertainment se hi chalta hai! All said and done, the show is very entertaining. I enjoyed watching it.  I am not the kind of person who would binge watch  anything as I find watching television for more than two hours a day irritating.  But for some shows, I make an exception.

This was one of them!

 

 

 

 

 

Lockdown Post 2: Are You Safe And Sane?

For someone who blogs regularly, it is difficult to not blog at all.

But it is difficult to choose a topic during lockdown. Sometimes I feel like writing about something and then I wonder is the topic even worthy of a discussion during the lockdown ? Because the truth is all we think about is corona! After avoiding to talk about corona for fear of spreading negativity, came post 1. Here is the second post in the series.

Few random thoughts:

1. Sanitization

It happened more than once that I tried to wash a newly purchased packet of rice / something else with water and soap and the water went inside. This was followed by leaving the contaminated product out in the sun if the damage could be mitigated (in case of rice) or throwing it out completely (in case of Maggi). I mourned for quite some time as everything is precious and scarce these days. The sanitization itself is an additional chore, and also its aftermath.

2. Fruits anyone?

I have stopped buying fruits. With vegetables, at least you have the consolation that you can cook them. With fruits, no matter how much you wash you will still feel scared. Not you, I mean people like me who are paranoid. Fruits and salad were part of my daily routine. I am missing them. Also missing sunlight and walks. I am having rice twice a day because I am too lazy to make roti on a daily basis. I do make puri or paratha occasionally.

3. Fried stuff

Nice things like chicken nuggets were out of stock on Milkbasket for the longest time. Then one day I discovered that it was available. So were frozen French fries, veg nuggets, sausages. I ordered those because I was so tired of my cooking and wanted something ‘nice’. I usually never keep such stuff at home. I buy it for parties only. But this has become a habit now. My husband and I have tea in the evening and he either fries these frozen things or makes some pakodas. Today, I decided to skip the evening snack. Thought this was an unhealthy habit to indulge in. But I started feeling hungry, and then gave in to the temptation. I felt  that maybe I should just worry about staying sane these days and if anything is helping like chicken nuggets or vodka so be it! (This thought keeps changing depending on how free I am. Sometimes I reflect upon long terms effects on health and other times I just think that I should worry about surviving corona for now).

4. Maids and cooks

I so badly want to call them. But I am too scared. I will wait. Maybe I will think about it after June. In every society whatsapp group, everybody has been fighting on this topic. My maid made the dilemma simple by announcing that she does not plan to work in my building anymore! Apparently, she got new jobs during lockdown and decided to fire her least favourite employer! I don’t know how I will find a new maid in lockdown! The corona induction which will be challenging even for an existing maid will now become even more challenging with a new person. This time, I was smart and instead of asking on the society whatsapp group and getting judged, I directly checked on Mygate to see which maids are coming. I managed to do an interview on the phone and got a new recruit who may tentatively join from June 1st. The maid’s husband who was helping with the translation told me that she will work for a month and then “decide” if she wishes to continue!! Beggar me cannot be a chooser so be it! I will have to be on my best behavior for that one month and control my corona OCD and regular OCD if I want the maid to consider me after her one month probation!

5. Exercise

I have a cross trainer at home which I had not been using in a while. I have finally started working out regularly. But sometimes my energy is so low, and I get tired easily. I get breathless. Then I wonder if the breathlessness is because of the exercise, or corona! After I torture myself with that thought for some time, I move on to make dinner and worry about getting corona from vegetables!

6. Cooking

A lazy and incompetent person’s daily menu looks like – khichdi, tehri, pasta, fried rice, maggi, repeat! I think I already mentioned that I am making rice twice a day in some form because roti is too much effort. Pre-lockdown I ate lots of green vegetables. Now paneer is the savior and potato has become a staple. I have realized cleaning green vegetables is such a task, and husband never liked them anyway. So let’s just stick to chhole, paneer, aloo.

Chicken gravy is suddenly not that appealing as I have to be the one cleaning chicken. It reminds me of some twenty years ago when our family had moved to New York. My mother used to get the whole chicken and clean it and cut it and after doing all of that, who would look forward to eating it! Now I can understand that was probably the time she stopped eating chicken completely. She cannot even eat it in a milder form like nuggets! Of course, we are responsible for it!

The cooking and the impact it has on a couple’s life inspired me to write a short story, ‘Marriages are made in kitchen’ which I published on Kindle.

7. Netflix / Amazon Prime/ Hotstar

I have been watching Homeland. I do not watch much of anything else as my attention span is low. I do find myself playing songs on Tata sky – 9XM, B4U music, and MTV beats a lot and put on Crime Patrol on Sony while doing my work. It reminds me of the time I studied for my CA exams, and I needed some noise so I used to put on music or some channel which I was not really watching but it used to be on.

Speaking of CA Exams, I had a dream recently that I failed it. I qualified as a Chartered Accountant eight years ago, but I continued to dream about failing it even after passing the exam. The only difference is I had this dream after a long time, maybe after 1-2 years. The hopelessness I feel in those dreams is always very real and when I wake up, it gives me great relief to realize that I am a CA. I have also been dreaming about getting admission in a college!  My husband finds this very funny. Because of my father’s constant transfers, getting admission into a new school was a common thing for me, and I always dreamt about being in a cool school / college / institution. But those dreams stopped once I finished college.  I also had a dream about meeting guys for marriage! There was no guy in the dream just the process (Again husband finds this amusing. He says he doesn’t dream about such things. Rather, he doesn’t even remember what he dreams). And today morning I dreamt that my father was asking me to come home, and telling me my mother was waiting for me and I told him I was having ‘difficulty’ travelling. When I woke up, I was completely confused. Which city was I in? Which city were my parents in? Why was I not visiting them?

I guess the lockdown has ripped us all of our identities. Who are we? Where are we? What are we doing? What stage of life are we at? The subconscious mind is trying its best to place us somewhere in our life. It has no idea of the future. So it has returned to past.

8. Thappad movie

Some of you have mailed me to write about the movie. I have watched it but honestly I did not find it too convincing. There was a video that Tapsee made for promotion wearing a purple salwar kamiz in which she is talking about some taunts we may heard before – Something like thappad ki salami. I found that video better than the movie. I will write about the movie some day. Like I said, I am finding it difficult to focus on anything.

9. Way of life

I watched some viral videos wherein they say that work from home will become the norm. Companies will realize that the rent was unnecessary all along. People may move to smaller towns since working in big cities will no longer be attractive. Of course, even if this is true it will be a gradual process. But still, it is scary. Working from home especially for women in India is so challenging. Some stay with in-laws and have enough to deal with. Even if that’s not the case, the expectation is that the woman should do all the house work and take care of everyone. Going to office, meeting friends, stepping out makes the day livable!

It was nice to wear nice clothes, put on lipstick, meet people as opposed to changing from one pyjama to another! Hope the world as we knew it does not change drastically once all this is over (whenever that would be).

So this is it for now. Please share your thoughts. Would love to know what’s keeping you going.

P.S. Title Courtesy: My sister who told me that in the U.S. when they are emailing, they are writing ‘Trust you are safe and sane’.  I told her here we just write, ‘Trust you are safe.’

Sanity was a luxury even pre corona…

Corona: How Is The Lockdown Treating You

Where do I start this post. I did not want to write on Corona. I wanted to write about it but in  the past tense.  Once it is over. Once we know we survived it.  I was too overwhelmed. I have not written anything in a while.   But before I write about corona let me tell you what kind of a person I am since most of you do not know me personally.

My usual routine

The following are things I did in my every day life (even before corona):

  1. Washing the hands 100 times a day for more than 20 seconds easily. I remember one time a girl in my office washroom told me “Tanvi, that’s enough! Your hands will fall off!”
  2. Not touching elevator buttons directly. Ever. I use keys. Or even better. Wait for someone to press it whenever possible. Use office ID card if there is no key.
  3. Speaking of office, incidents where people come to my desk with prasad or sweets are absolute nightmares. I cannot put something inside my mouth without washing my hands.   I cannot tell them, ‘Hey wait. Let me go to the bathroom and wash my hands while you can still wait here.’ Not taking something from colleagues is considered rude so I have no option but to take it. Actually any kind of food sharing is very difficult.Some people take sweets and put it on their laptop. How could they!
  4. People coming for handshakes. Again. Nightmare. I go wash my hands immediately.
  5. People using my laptop, my phone. Traumatic. I clean it with a tissue. Too bad I cannot wash them with soap.
  6. You should watch me go for lunch. I wash my hands. Then go to heat my food. Then I wash my hands again because I cannot possibly eat after having touched the microwave. So then I wash my hands again. I open the washroom door with my left hand. Then I balance my lunchbox, phone (which is lying on a table outside the washroom) in my left hand , follow the elevator protocol as mentioned in (2) all to make sure that I do not touch anything with my clean, right hands until I touch my food. If I have to lift the chair before eating, again I use my left hand.
  7. I go to theatres fully covered. Full sleeves.   I do not want germs on my body. Gold seats are difficult because then you have to remove your shoes. So I wear socks.
  8. I have to take a shower every time I come back home from anywhere ‘outside’.   So, if on a week day I go for a movie, I have showered thrice. Once in the morning, once after coming back from office, then after the movie. It does not matter if it is a night show and 1 am.
  9. No ‘outside clothes’ can be mixed with home clothes. ‘Outside clothes’ go in the machine. Nothing is allowed on the bed. Nothing. No purse. No mobile. No outside clothes.
  10. If I take a cab, those clothes also go in the machine immediately. I do not sit on the home sofa with those clothes. Basically anything that has gone out of the house needs to be disinfected first.
  11. If I come back from a vacation , I have to shampoo my hair and wash all clothes immediately before I do anything else.   Even the clothes I have not used. Yes, there are extra clothes because I always overpack. I put things that I do not necessarily need but pack them anyway thinking what if my stay gets extended for some reason. So, if I have travelled back from ‘foreign’ after a 36 hour journey I will still follow this routine, shampoo, wash clothes and disinfect the suitcase before doing anything else.
  12. People putting suitcases on the bed is a sight that haunts me.
  13. Grocery jhola gets washed each time and hung out in the balcony. So do purses.
  14. Eggs, milk packets also get washed.
  15. I wash my glasses with soap twice a day.
  16. If I drop anything on the floor like a hair clip it’s pretty much discarded.
  17. I cannot do things like having chips in the car during a long drive, or in the plane.
  18. I have a sanitizer in all my purses.
  19. I never eat sauf in restaurants because I believe people would have put their hand in it.
  20. My domestic helpers are not allowed to bring their phone inside the kitchen. They have to leave it on the shoe rack.   If they get a call that they have to pick up, they must wash their hands again. I monitor this.
  21. Most of my maids quit.

This was me. Pre-corona. You have OCD! Are you crazy! What’s wrong with you. These were the terms people used for me.   It was a good life.  People were normal. I was different.  I was okay with this.  It is not that I wanted to be like this. But I could not help it either.  It was like a disease.

Post Corona, other people became like me. They were advised by credible people – doctors, leaders,  nurses to be like me. If my normal was like this, what should my corona version be like? When the world is coming to my level, what should be my next level?

Insanity

Yes. This is the only word for it. The term ‘paranoid’ reached new levels. Two weeks ago, I had cough and cold and shortness of breath.   The last one has been a sign of the dreaded virus.  In my case, it was because of my anxiety.  My husband also had a cold.  I kept watching news from Italy.  Videos of people dying.  People begging other people to stay home. To be scared. I cried.  I told my husband I was scared to be in quarantine.  I was scared of the hospital washrooms!  I was scared to be alone for days and then die alone.  I told him  to not take me to the hospital if I get sick and let me die at home.  He told me these things are not a matter of choice. If you get too sick, you have to go to the hospital!  I told him I will get corona  by going to the hospital.  A cold is infectious. So is insanity. Soon, my husband and I were having conversations about what to do in case one of us dies – how much time to wait for before remarrying, taking care of each other’s parents, investments etc!

Two people stuck at home  sharing the house work with no maid, no cook and no distraction.  I was running out of essentials.  The thought of my husband going out to get something made me more anxious.   The thought of not having food at home was not comforting either.  Anything and everything made me sad.

Physically, I recovered quite quickly. So did my husband. Gargling and steam helped.   I started feeling better. But palpitations, and shortness of breath continued.  I had to make a very conscious effort to tell myself to take it easy. Whatever will happen will happen.  I spoke to a few friends, and I am glad they made me feel better. But here are some things that I noticed during this time:

  • Maids and cooks

I saw a lot of posts about women putting each other down . Saying things like ‘So and so woman is still making her maid come. How lazy could she be.’ ‘Such and such woman doesn’t know how to cook, her poor husband! This serves her right!’ ‘Apne ghar ka kaam karne mein kya problem hai!’

There is a reason our society is patriarchal. Women!

First of all, cooking and cleaning is not a woman’s sole responsibility. Why blame only the woman!  Why shame only the woman!  Maybe she gets no help from anyone else in the family.  Maybe she is lazy.  Big deal! Mind your own business!  This was not the right time to speak ill of other women’s cooking and cleaning skills. Actually no time is good to do that.

Also, some went on and on about giving ‘paid leave’ to the maids. Some said that maids should be ‘educated’  to not travel to their hometown as it would spread the infection further. Such discussions soon turned into unpleasant arguments in society WhatsApp groups.

  • Senior citizens

This is the most vulnerable group. A lot of us live away from our parents.  With online players not delivering in time,  how do we get essentials to our parents so that they don’t have to step out?

The people in my parents’ society delivered groceries to their doorstep, so that they didn’t have to go to the society store.   Someone or the other would call them to ask them if they needed anything. I am grateful to them.

  • Scarcity

I never knew I will count the laung and elaichi and decide that the evening tea was not worthy of it, only the morning tea. I never knew I will put less tea leaves so that it saved one extra trip to the store.  I never knew I would say things like ‘I will not put lauki in the pulao, as I have already put aloo. Let’s save lauki for tomorrow’. I had never thought I would be delighted to find something as undesirable as lauki available in milkbasket, add it to my cart before it gets out of stock as if it is the biggest delicacy.  I never knew that the chilli garlic sauce I bought by mistake, and was too lazy to return will become the savior of the fried rice for days to come.   I did not know that my habit of being lured by the ‘one plus one’ offers on phenyl will turn out to be a wise decision.

  • Cooking

I once watched an interview of Vidya Balan in which she said that she disagrees that cooking is a ‘life skill’. She said when people say  what will you do if you have to cook, she responds, ‘duniya bhar ke restaurants kyun khol rakhe hain!’  I applauded her for saying my man ki baat. In normal circumstances, I cooked only when the cook went on leave.  Even when I did, it was fancy stuff. Chicken. Chilli paneer. Lots of spices. Lots of sauce.  Lots of good things.   Cooking is bad enough.  Cooking with limited ingredients is like a sure shot failure.  I am calling my mother every day, and asking her what would be the best use of what I have.

Travellers

I was upset that India allowed international flights. That’s how it came here.  I wanted the Government to ban flights coming into India for a very, very long time.

“Why do these people have to come here and bring the virus! Everybody stay where you are! ” I said to my husband.

And then I thought of my family in the U.S. My sister, niece and her husband whose visit I am looking forward to. My mother-in-law who is stuck and wants to come home badly. When those ‘travelers’ are our family our thoughts are different.

You and I in this beautiful world

So yes, I am surviving like most of you. My hands have cuts.   I think I need to reduce the hand washing.   I want boroline.  I want Vicco turmeric.   I want green chilli.  I want more green tea.  I want maggi. Those things are not available. Maybe they are.  But it means my husband has to walk to a supermarket.  I am trying to save him that visit.   But he may need to step out tomorrow to get lemons. And eggs.  I drive him crazy once he comes back. Wash your hands. Wash your legs. Shower. Shampoo.  Put your clothes in the washing machine.   Don’t touch anything.  I used to irritate him pre Corona too. Until now, my husband used to complain about how I drive him crazy with my weird habits and he just cannot cope with it.  But now, I have the license to impose all of this on him!  My sister was telling my mother how I have prepared for corona all my life.  Well yes, being me is finally paying off!

I was telling my husband they should create some more wards in mental hospitals also because I will surely need one soon. Staying at home,  not being able to do anything nice,  zero interaction, zero sunlight, fear and panic is making people sad.  If any of you have anxiety like me, please hang in there. Stop watching the news. I did that. And it made me much more peaceful.  You don’t know what will happen next anyway.   Irrespective of corona.  There was a lot happening in the world.  Even before corona. Don’t overwhelm yourself. If you cannot handle it, it is okay to accept that. Do the sari challenge if it helps! I did that too. Distract yourself. It does not make you insensitive or stupid.  Do whatever it takes to maintain your mental health (also).

My gratitude to doctors, nurses, police, delivery people, sanitation workers,  drivers, grocery store owners, and everybody else who does not have the privilege of sitting at home right now. You guys are heroes! I have no words for the grief of people who have lost their loved ones because of this. It is too painful, too unreal, too unimaginable. We had read about the Spanish flu. The plague. Those were things that happened in olden times. In a different world. To people who lived long, long time ago. It could not possibly happen to us.

I was praying to God the other day, ‘Please, we are sorry.  We are all sorry for everything. Now please end it.” Wish that you and your families are safe. No matter which part of the world you are in, I pray that this ends soon.

Writer Shilpee Prasad’s Review Of Dance To My Tunes

Book Title : Dance to my tunes: A collection of short stories
Author : Anthology by Tanvi Sinha
Price : ₹ 150
Note: The cover is as beautiful like the stories dancing in 105 pages inside.

The categories of story is close to my heart, woman centric ones. During my teens, I was like, “writers are Agatha Christie, Emily Dickinson, Subhadra Kumari Chauhan and the league”.

As I grew up my prospective changed. And the list outlined. Tanvi you helped to revamp my interests and love for books.

Full Review on the link below:

Dance to my Tunes

Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan: Would You Let Your Kids Watch It?

Yesterday, my cousin told me that she wanted to watch this movie. She was not sure if she should take her eight- year-old daughter. She told me that mothers on one of the groups  were judging how some people got kids for the movie which was not ‘appropriate’.

I think I have been living under a rock. I had no idea about this movie until yesterday. But more than the movie, I was curious to find an answer for her.

Can she take her kid to watch it?

My take on the movie

First of all, I would like to say that the movie was not that great. It was very entertaining in parts. And of course, we have to appreciate that Bollywood has dared to be so bold.  I felt that Ayushmann Khurana’s Karthik Singh was too filmy to be believable.  He was a let down. I know they had deliberately kept the movie light so that it does not get preachy. But even still, I think the overall package did not conclude well.  For example, ‘Badhai ho’ was the right amount of drama, emotion and comedy.  But this movie was made in a rush I feel.

Aman Tripathi who played Jitendra Kumar did a restrained and expressive performance.  His family consisting of Neena Gupta and Gajraj Rao, the couple from Badhai ho, and extended family of Sunita Rajwar and Manu Rishi did a brilliant job. Special mention for Maanvi Gaagroo who played the woman who could not find a groom.  The family dynamics was far more entertaining than the actual plot of the two men being in love and trying to convince their family.  In fact, by the end of the movie, I felt more for the poor Goggle than the lead pair!

Acting by everyone (except Ayushman) is awesome.. This was certainly not Ayushman’s best.  Neena Gupta is getting prettier day by day.

But nonetheless, this was an important film and just because I did not like it so much, does not mean it does not get credit for the message it wished to convey: Homophobia.

Can’t they just change?

When I was 11, my family had moved to New York City. Prior to that, I was studying in an all-girls convent in Patna.  It was a big change for me.  In the next few years, I would hear new terms such as ‘gay’ ‘lesbian’ ‘homo’. At that age, kids even in a developed country like the United States would use these words to insult their classmates.  I was dumb when it came to sexuality even by Indian small town standards. There was no way I could compare to the exposure these kids had.  I had a friend who was born and brought up there. Intelligent, sensible and empathetic, she used to be my ‘go to’ person for all the questions.  I have blogged about her before.

Me: Why do they have to have such strong feelings. Why can’t they at least try.

Sarah: Try what?

Me: Like assuming a girl is a lesbian. But she is still a girl. Why does she have to like a girl only!  Can’t she at least try to like a boy!

Sarah: Can you like a girl, no matter how much you try?

In my defense, I was just 13-14. But I was lucky to have someone at that tender age with whom I could expose my ignorance, and not be judged.

The movie has done an excellent job explaining what I had asked my friend about 20 years ago.

  • Can kids watch this movie?

The movie has a U/A certificate which means parental guidance advised below the age of 12 years.

My cousin’s daughter is 8. What should I advise her?

 What Bollywood offers in abundance:

Kissing

There are two kissing scenes between the lead pair. But do we not have kissing scenes between the hero and heroine? Do we not take kids for those movies?

Item numbers

We expose  children to songs like ‘Main to tandoori murgi ho yaar, gatka le saiyya alcohol se.’ It is so normalized that we do not even give it a second thought.

Crass humour

Bollywood is full of movies that makes fun of fat people. Dark people. Slapping women was common until now, thanks to Taapsee’s upcoming movie. All Bollywood heroines are so beautiful.  Romance movies which is what Bollywood produces the most are about pretty people falling in love. We expose kids to fat shaming,  skin-color shaming, and the idea that it is important to look good to find love.

When so much of wrong is okay, what is wrong in a love story of two men with a good message?

If I take all this into consideration, I do not see anything wrong in letting kids watch this movie. At least this movie conveys the right message. I hope this is just a start.  There should be so many more.

A plus point for the movie was the way it started.  The lead pair was a couple in love living in Delhi.  There was no explanation. No justification. They were who they were. Without making a point.   I hope there are many more movies that normalize homosexual relationships and not just ‘coming out’ and acceptance.

So would you take your kid?

The only thing that one should consider is if your kid is at an impressionable age, would this be the right medium to expose them to homosexuality? Would you first see the movie yourself then decide? Would you give your child a little background first? Would you let them watch first and answer the questions that get triggered? Or would you do what Indian parents do the best – Forbid them from watching such movies, and convince yourself that they will never get to know about it anyway!

I have also heard  people say that talking about something to children means ‘encouraging them’ so they would rather ignore the topic altogether. Also, I am sure some people feel that kids may get some ‘ideas’ that would end up shaping them so better not take a risk.

I loved a dialogue from the movie.  “Hum na gande log hain na acche log hain. Hum bus log hain.”

I would like answers in the comments. I don’t have any answers because I don’t have children and have no idea how to deal with such situations!

But I do have to give an answer to my cousin…

 

 

How To Survive Valentine’s Day!

Statistics suggest that so many break-ups happen around Valentine’s Day. This day is not just torturous for single people, but also for people who are in relationships. Expectations, unnecessary comparisons and social media declarations of ‘Aww!’ ‘I am so lucky’ ‘I have the best husband/boyfriend’ can make people feel quite miserable about themselves. The only people who actually benefit from this day are businesses that sell teddy bears,  cards , roses, chocolates and other gifts.

If you are feeling low before Valentine’s day, please read the following. Hope it makes you feel better. 🙂

  1. It is just another day

I don’t remember the story behind Valentine’s day. My earliest memories of Valentine’s Day are from my college days when I was teased that my birthday (14th November) comes nine months after Valentine’s day! I also remember a teacher accepting that he could not possibly teach on this day because it is like a “tyohar” for us!  I think the first time I heard about Valentine’ day was when I was a teenager.  This day should be celebrated if it makes you happy. But if it is an add on in any way,  then please choose to ignore it.  It is not at all important and probably people in the generation before us lived happily before knowing about it!

2. Don’t expect much from your partner

Anniversaries are important. Birthdays are important. But if he/she does not give you a gift or  forgets about Valentine’s Day, do not make an issue out of it.  There are bigger things to fight about!

3. Being Single

If you are single, and you feel bad looking at couples on this day, just remember you have something that these people don’t have. You have hope. You have hope of meeting someone.  You have hope of finding love.  Enjoy that thought!

4. Don’t be harsh on yourself / your partner

No matter who you are, whether you are in a good relationship or a bad relationship, you are about to dump someone, you are newly single or single for a long time, just remember that another human being, even someone you love or is supposed to love you is just another human being. Human beings have limitations. They will hurt you, they will not understand you, and they will do things that you don’t understand.

5. Love yourself

Valentine’s day is about love and we start analyzing our love life more on this day than required. Please don’t take drastic decisions on this day! And if you are worrying too much about how to spend the day when the whole world seems to be screaming about celebrating it, and you have nothing special planned just do something nice for yourself. Like a spa!

Most importantly , don’t feel bad.  No matter who you are and what situation you are in. Relationships are tough. Always.  Don’t let this day make it worse for you.

For all those who have plans for this day, wish you the best! Have fun!

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