CA Results Were Announced, And I Went Back In Time

This is a picture of Chartered Accountancy (“CA”) exam results. These are not my results. I qualified a long time ago. This is just something I found on Google.

What triggered this post?

CA results were announced recently. Some people I knew passed the exam this time and became a Chartered Accountant. I congratulated them. But I could not help but feel sad for the ones who did not pass. It also transported me back to time to my own CA days. The time spent in preparing for the exams, studying close to 12-15 hours a day. For the benefit of those who do not know, CA exams are very tough to clear and they are conducted in three levels. The passing percentage is very low.

This picture is of the website where results are declared. This screen, this colour combination, the buzz around the expected date of results, it all still gives me the horrors. I still have nightmares that I have failed the exams although it has been years since I passed.

What was it like to fail?

How hopeless I had felt! How I felt like I would be able to achieve nothing in life! I felt like it defined me. I felt like I was a loser. When you fail an exam you also think of all the sacrifices you make to study and how it all becomes a waste. The times that I could have been out, partying, enjoying, traveling was spent in isolation in books and what did I get in return?

Some people around me qualified before me. It hurt. I also wondered what would happen if I never qualify? What if it was just not meant to be?

How I look back in time

I used to be stressed during that phase of life. I was living alone in Bombay.   I had a job in a Big Four company where people took pride at leaving at 1 am 2 am on a daily basis. I was living in a PG accommodation.  I did not have a lot of friends. I was not a star at work. I was probably nothing. I was struggling.

But when I look back at that time now, I look back with fondness. I think about things now which I did not think meant anything then.

How I shampooed my hair in the morning so that my curly hair looked good

How I bought my first matt lip gloss from my salary which Kareena Kapoor advertised for

How I wore branded shirts and skirts, and kurtas. I loved my formal wear collection

How I wore sneakers for the commute in the local train and how I changed to heels in office

How I went to Carter Road and enjoyed a Frankie

How I went to Juhu Chowpatti and had pao bhaji

How I went to Bandra linking road and did street shopping

How everyone in the city was always running around. It was so vibrant.

How I was so thin when I started articleship and how chubby I became by the time I was living alone eating from ‘dabbas’

How I travelled overnight on Fridays even though my father didn’t like me night travelling, just so that I could see my parents Saturday morning

I was lonely. But then there was the sea…

The sea… It was calm. It was infinite. Sometimes it got wild… But is was always there. It remained despite everything it endured….

But when I look back today, I feel good.

I feel good because it was a part of my youth. My precious youth. A precious part of my precious life.

Why I say it is the not the same anymore

I am older. I have lost interest in the things I did that time.

Shampoo hair in the morning? Nah! Too much effort! I do it after work. Who cares about my hair anyway? I know ways to hide it…

I can go to a big restaurant and order more expensive food. But there was something satisfying about having a small lunch and saving money. Saving money for something big….. Surely life must have something bigger and better to offer in the future right?

There was something about that time.. The time when you are full of dreams. Full of hope. When you thought your life could be so much more…

What I want to say to the students who did not pass the exam

Should you try try until you succeed? Should you give up? If you leave, all the time and effort you invested will be wasted. But if you keep trying and it still doesn’t happen then what? Isn’t is wiser to move on to something else?

It is quite a dilemma. And it applies not just to CA exams but to other competitive exams also. It even applies to other things in life.

Should you try more because you already tried so much?

Should you not try anymore because you already tried so much?

Are you closer to success than you think? But what is success anyway? 

I would like to say this to all the students who didn’t pass this time

  • Pursue your dream. But remember that your dream will change with time as you change. And that’s okay
  • There is always a tradeoff in life. Everything comes at a cost.
  • Don’t wait for you to pass to enjoy your life. You will never be 21 again. Or 25. Or 33. Or even 58. Your life is happening now. And you are missing out on it.
  • No one thing defines your life. When one opportunity closes, another one opens. You just have to be positive and remain open minded.
  • No matter what happens, you always have the power to change your life. Only you have the power. Yes you will go through the cycle of bad exam results, bad appraisals, heartbreak, humiliation, hurt but you will make it.

It also got me thinking… In my 20s I thought it was not that great, but when I look back now, I wish I was more relaxed. I could have done so many things.

I will probably feel the same when I look back at my 30s that it could have been so much more….

I think we all owe it ourselves to make our lives better. I wont say be happy, because honestly I don’t know how to just be happy. It sounds like a forcible action, when it is instead just a nudge to take that one step that you are afraid to take for fear of unknown. Maybe the better way to say it is don’t wait for anything great or different or drastic to happen for you to do something that you want to do.

Time runs out…. Good or bad this is the only life we have…

 

 

 

 

 

 

9/11: 20 Years Later, I remember this day as a child in New York City

September 11, 2001

20 years ago, on this day I left my house, took a bus and went to my school in Queens, New York. Yes, I along with my family was living in New York at that time. My mother, a homemaker, stayed home while my father and my sister left the house to take the metro for their workplace and college respectively in the borough of Manhattan, NY.

The commute from my house to the school was about 20 minutes by bus. Probably a 5 minute walk from home to bus stop and then bus stop to school. When the day started, I had my usual concerns for the day. I was a teenager living in New York, who moved from India two years ago. I was at the peak of my teenage and self-doubt. I had an accent, was not at all good-looking and had given up on fitting in. I felt all the other girls in my class looked better than me, they did not have an accent which made them stand out.  Studies wise, mine was a school well known for Humanities. I did well in all subjects. But I was struggling with Chemistry.

This is how we feel about our life and ourselves. We focus on our petty concerns because we have no idea that something so devastating could happen next.

I thought the worst that could happen that day was a lesson in Chemistry I did not understand, or  a look at the popular girls in class and wishing in my heart that I was them.

Our first class was going on when the history teacher announced that a plane had hit one of the Towers of World Trade Center. It was a bizarre news for a bunch of sleepy students on a bright, clear day. It was difficult to make sense of it.

“What do you mean, a plane hit the towers?” A girl asked.

These are words you never think you would utter in your life. The teacher went on to say it was presumably a terrorist attack.

“It is sickening to think that this happened to innocent people, all they did was get up in the morning to go to work.”

There was some silence.

“Did anyone die?” A boy asked.

The class was pin-drop silent. The teacher took a moment to respond.

“Thousands of people work in that building. We don’t know yet.”

The silent room suddenly became very noisy. Everybody started talking to the person around them.  The teacher was the kind who loved to talk. It was an interactive session. The kids spoke their mind, their theories, their fears. He listened. He responded.

The next class I remember that day was Biology. By that time the second plane had hit. Both towers had collapsed.

The biology teacher simply announced, “I am sorry. I will not be able to teach today.”

She had tears in her eyes but she was composed. She stayed in the class while the students spoke to each other. She stared at everyone, expressionless. I do remember a couple of kids tried to speak to her. But she did not talk much.

Everybody responds to trauma differently. While the History teachers was all about talking and sharing, the biology teacher was completely silent. She was just not in the state to talk.

There was a huge window in the classroom. All we could see was a lot of smoke from far away. It seemed like the whole city was burning. I started feeling anxious. What was happening there? What happens when two enormous buildings fall? What was the extent of the damage? How many people were affected? I know my father’s office and my sister’s college was not too close to the World Trade Centre. But the extent of the damage was not known. What if they had a meeting there? What if they were walking there for some fateful reason?

The Pentagon hit happened. How much more? How would the day end? It was announced on the PA system that we would not be allowed to go home and will be made to wait in school until it was ascertained that it was safe to leave. Television screens in the cafeteria were playing the same terrifying visuals again and again.

I had read about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I had heard that terrorist attacks happen.  But they happened in history! They happened to other people! They happened in another part of the world! This was New York. It was a superpower. How could this happen? How could all this be real? Will I be able to go home today? Will I make it? 

It was a time when only rich people had cell-phones. I certainly did not.  Phone connections were jammed that time. Nobody was able to call anyone. I was desperate to speak to my family. The bargaining had started.

Just let them be okay. It’s okay if I am not able to speak to them. They should just be okay. Its okay if I have to stay in school all night. Its okay if my sister and father have to stay wherever they are tonight. Just let them be okay. Mom was home in Queens. But what if more attacks were planned? What if she was not safe either?

There was a huge queue at the pay-phones. Distraught students were talking to their family members. I waited for my turn. I called my mother on the home landline. She told me my sister had reached my father’s office and they were both okay. They will return home together. I told my mother I will be stuck in school until they allow us to leave. My mother told me she already knew that because other moms had told her that their kids said the same thing.

I don’t remember the exact time we were allowed to leave from school. But it was not too late. I remember it was still day, maybe 4 – 5 pm. In the bus I heard names of a “terrorist organization” taking responsibility. My knowledge of terrorist organizations up to that day was close to zero. A girl from my school told me her mother works in the World Trade Centre. I looked at her, horrified. I asked her if she got a chance to speak to her mom. “No, but I think she should be okay. She was on the lower floor. So must have got out.” The girl said quite matter-of-factly. I was surprised that she did sound more concerned. Was she is shock? Was she in denial? Was she just a positive person?  One guy on the bus said that another attack had happened in the city. Someone said it was just a rumour. It was all very strange , unreal and chaotic. It was as if we were in a Zombie movie.

As I got off the bus, I was scared to walk to my building. What If the building was gone like the World Trade Towers? What if I see smoke instead of my building?

I reached home. My mother gave me my meal.   After few hours my father and sister also reached home. My family was safe.

But there were so many that were not.

The next day was declared a holiday. The streets were empty. Quiet. Morbid. It smelled of smoke. It smelled of death. It smelled of devastation. I was 13. It had a terrible impact on me. Over the next days, we heard stories. Horror stories. I heard that a woman was driving near the Towers when a human head fell on her car windshield. I heard a man saw someone jump to his death. I heard that some 200 firefighters went inside and did not come back alive. I heard that people in the buildings were told to stay where they were, some tried to go down the elevator but were told to go back up and the one button they chose to press in the elevator determined their life and death. Some children lost both their parents. One day my sister came back home crying because she heard about a woman whose husband was missing but the woman was so sure he would come back, it was just sad.  I heard that there were some school kids in one of the plane. They were travelling for some competition, they were winners. They must have been so happy that they won and were representing their school in a big city like New York City. Such a proud moment.  The kids who lost the competition would have wished they won. To think that those children died in such a horrible way… There was a term my late grandmother used that still gave me goosebumps.

Kaal bula raha tha

She said this for everyone who died because they were at the wrong place at the wrong time. People who walk right into their death.

For many days after that day, I felt that there was smoke around. Maybe there was. Maybe there wasn’t. I don’t know. I felt scared walking from the bus stop to my home building. I was scared any plane could hit any building, any time.

Anything could happen!

There were stories of kindness, bravery and courage also but the magnitude of the catastrophe was so much that it was hard to focus on a handful of positive stories.

I recently watched the movie, ‘World Trade Center’, probably few weeks ago on Netflix.   I never had the courage to watch any movie on this terrible event. It took me 20 years to be able to watch something of that day.I have been a writer for over seven years now. I could not write about this before. I have thought of many times. But I just could not. It was too much.

And I am the lucky one who it did not impact! What must be the state of those who lost their everything that day?

 I read today about a girl who received different body parts of her father over the years, and had to bury him again and again. I could not read the full story.  There are such tragic stories that one finds it hard to believe that something so bad could happen. I appreciate the U.S. media which was very sensitive. There were no gory pictures taken. They respected the privacy of people who had died, those who were injured and their families.

There is no positive way of ending this article. But all I can say is that life is fragile. With every bizarre thing that could happen to us, it is a miracle that we are alive. A miracle that deserves some gratitude. As we sit in our homes, with our loves ones complaining about a number of immaterial things, something to remember is probably that no matter how bad things are, there is something to be grateful for.  Be grateful for you home, be grateful for those you love.  Be grateful you are alive. That is enough for now.

We are meant to live, but we are also meant to survive.

Image source

 

 

Siddharth Shukla No More: Why! What Is Happening!

The death of a young person. A very real person. Someone you have been watching on television for so many years that it seems like someone you know.

There will be speculations. Was it stress? Was it steroids? Was there something behind the charming smile and glamour?

It is not mere insensitivity to be asking these questions. It is worse. It is desperation. Desperation to find some answers. We do not want to believe that someone whole and healthy could simply die.

It does not matter why or how.  The only truth is that it happened and it cannot be reversed. Any other thought will only bring more pain to his family, if it all it is even possible to hurt more.

I have not watched Bigg Boss. I did watch Balika Vadhu. To think that Anandi, Shiv and Dadisaa are all dead is unreal. I have to read the line again to believe what I have written.

I watched a clip of Siddharth’s mother and sister today for the first time. The reporter was interviewing them right after Sidharth had won Bigg Boss. His mother looked graceful in her grey hair. Very grounded. Very sensible. She spoke so honestly. She said she felt happy that Sidharth won but she also felt bad for the boy who did not win. His sister said Sidharth’s favourite dishes would be made once he is back home, but she was happy that he has learnt some cooking on the show, and now she will make him cook.

My heart sank. How naïve of them! They had no idea what lay ahead of them. They had no idea how their lives would change forever.

How stupid of all of us. We make dinner plans. We make weekend plans. We make life plans. Everything shatters suddenly. All that is left is ruins.

Someone or something sinister must laugh at us knowing how we don’t know what comes next…

A random day becomes a date that marks your life before and after.

I overheard a conversation as I went for a walk in the evening. Someone mentioned Sushant Singh’s death.

At least it was not a suicide.

At least there was no foul play.

It was a natural death.

What is natural about dying at 40? I don’t know. But such is the world we are living in that it could be so much worse…

I know of so many people in their 40s or younger who died this year.  What is happening?  Why is it happening? Will it be an achievement for this generation to make to the 50s?

I want to say Sidharth Shukla lived a life bigger than most people. He had the most gifted looks, name, fame, money, talent, success. He had so many supporters. ‘Supporters’ not fans, his mother had said in the interview.

Why couldn’t God just let him live?

It’s very hard. Uncertainty hits hard.  The fragility of life hits hard. The cruelty of life hits hard. Death hits hard.

God has taken the very best once again.

Rest in peace, Sidharth Shukla. You were different from others. You were the one who stands out in a crowd. You lived a grand life. You were born to be a celebrity. You were a star and will always be.

But you were supposed to shine right here for a much longer time.

 

 

 

Recent Shows On Netflix: My Take

Sex/ Life

There are some shows I watch with zero commitment and diverted attention. Like when I am working or cooking or reading random things on Facebook and Whatsapp. I watch these shows out of curiosity, and I tell myself that I can leave it any time I want! I kind of even know I may hate it. But I watch it any way. The last show I watched this way was Bollywood Wives or ‘Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives’, whatever the name of that show was.

Sex / Life was definitely one of them.  I didn’t just dislike it because it lacked depth.  I disliked it because it was sooooo boring!  The only thing interesting about it was that Billie doesn’t actually cheat on Cooper but only ‘thinks’ about the good times she had with her ex, Brad. The characters are so unreal.  Billie is a very annoying, confused woman who has a perfect husband, lots of money, a big house, two kids and a nanny.

Her life is so perfect that she has ample free time on her hand to imagine what it would be like had it not been so perfect.

Brad is the classic bad boy.  There was some story about his father and why he had trust issues or abandonment issues. I missed that part because my maid was around and I just forwarded the show afraid of God knows what kind of nudity may come up!  So anyway,  Brad is your bad boy cliché – He offers good sex therefore he is commitment phobic and non- stable.  Cooper is the perfect husband – stable, emotional, sensitive, loving and a keeper. When he finds out about his wife’s journal, he doesn’t get jealous or insecure or mad, instead he tries to offer her the best sex and adventure that she had been missing.

He should get an award for being the most fictionaly character ever!!

Whether it is Bollywood or Hollywood there is always a bad guy and a good guy. The bad boy is the fun boyfriend who will break your heart. The good guy is the stable one who will have your back.  Can we stop showing rubbish, please!! It affects the mindset of younger women who are clueless about relationships!

Every guy has the potential to break not just your heart but you!

Relationships have limitations!!

It reminds me of a conversation I had with my friend’s mother who was secretly relieved that her younger daughter’s fiancé was not that good looking. She said her elder daughter’s husband was good-looking and rich and he was not a nice person.  She was of the view that a good-looking, rich man has more ego, and is arrogant and he would not treat his wife as nicely as a ‘humble’ man.  I shared this with my best friend at that point of time who was from the U.S. She told me that Aunty’s remark doesn’t make any sense.

‘All guys have a lot of ego, Tanvi even the ugly and poor ones.’  She had said. Sorry for the choice of words of my friend.  I know it is not a nice thing to say.  We were very young then, teenagers. But the point is there are no ‘safe’ parameters for determining how a person would turn out to be.

Anyway, the show got quite ridiculous towards the end.  It was almost comical.  I think a few times I laughed out loud.  Everybody has been talking about how good-looking Brad is, and the entire cast. I did not find any of the three lead characters attractive, but rather uninteresting and they lacked personality.  And regarding ‘the scene’, no it was not real.  It was prosthetics!!

A Big Little Murder

I randomly watched this show on my mobile.  I did not know what is was about. The first scene and I remembered the horror of when it had happened.  I went to DPS Vasant Kunj and Ryan International was on my way and very close to my school. I passed by it every single day. I followed the case closely in 2017.  Most people in the country followed it as it was so shocking and brutal.

The show is just two episodes and even though they have tried not to take sides and show ‘both sides’ since the trial has not yet begun, it is implied that the accused Class XI boy is guilty.

The parents of the accused came on the show although their faces were hidden because he is a ‘juvenile’ . I have hated this term since Nirbhaya. And have hated it more and more with every crime.  From drunk driving, rape to murder these ‘juveniles’ have done it all.  A monster who can slit the throat of a child or insert a rod in a woman’s vagina should not be allowed to breathe and feed on the taxpayer’s money.

The school kids said that the accused had once put poison in a student’s water bottle. The father of the accused is a lawyer and he at least applied some logic to defend his son. But the accused’s mother  was unbelievable! She was in blissful denial! She said that the cops have named her son, ‘Bholu’ because he is innocent! She went on to say, ‘Mera beta talented tha, mera beta keyboard bajata tha, itna achcha tha suddenly spoilt child kaise ho gaya?’

Oh God these mothers of abusive men!! They will never accept their son’s fault.  Her ‘Bholu’ slit the throat of a kid for God’s sake! It was infuriating to watch her defend her son after what he did to that little boy. Pradyuman’s parents were more respectful and calm throughout the show than these two.

The show talked about mental health and somewhere a teacher said the older boy’s killing the little child was a collective failure of the system. Someone should have identified that this young man was unhappy or being bullied that is why he became a bully. I disagree.  There should not be any excuse or sympathy for such monsters.  Everybody faces problems in life.  But some people are pure evil.  A potential killer watching this kind of misplaced sympathy may think of killing someone too in the hope that he will get attention  by doing such a gruesome act. Such killers should just be hanged nothing else! They are not worth our analysis and precious time.

They showed the blood-filled washroom which was very disturbing. I could not sleep well that night because it is scary to imagine any human being’s throat being slit. But to think that a little kid’s throat got slit, in school, in the washroom, minutes after he was dropped there by his father! It was all too much. I remember sometime in another interview the child’s mother had said that he was so cute, she always thought how adorable he looks.  It broke my heart. The father said that he will ‘probably’ not meet his son in this life but if he ever does, he would want to know that he got him justice.

I felt horrible that this child’s parents have to live in a living hell with the reality of what happened to their baby for the rest of their lives. I felt horrible that a little boy who must be scared of the dark crawled from the washroom after he was brutally cut.  But more than sadness, I felt anger towards the parents of the accused.  It seems they have a lot of money.  It brought bad memories of rich brats from school and college and the whole attitude of ‘Pata hai mera baap kaun hai’.  NCR has always been about being rough and flaunting money and power, and shamefully high on crime. I am grateful I now live in another part of the country where people are civilized and respectful human beings.

However, there is another thing that is deeply disturbing. The police originally wrongly implicated the bus conductor. It seems they were under pressure and they tortured him into a confession.  Similar to Arushi’s case.  It was only when the CBI took over, that they caught the juvenile. What credibility does the police have then? The Juvenile’s father used this as his defense too.

The Good Doctor

I am on the end of Season 2. This is such an endearing show!!  I have a crush on Doctor Melendez. I like Doctor Andrews too. Shaun of course is super cute and Claire is just adorable!  All the characters in this show are so well crafted! They all have personality. The show is very deep and the way Shaun learns things! The things he realizes are things that are supposed to be ‘obvious’ except that they are not.  The writing is very clever. It is a very versatile show and highly recommended.

That is it for now! Do share any recommendations or your views of the shows.

 

Mimi Review: Flawed, But Has Its Heart In the Right Place

Surrogacy – Ethical, emotional, legal and commercial implications

One of the first articles I wrote on Women’s Web on legal updates affecting women was on surrogacy. The year was 2016. The draft Bill banning commercial surrogacy had just been passed. Banning is always easier than regulation. This was my view in the article as well.

Article link:

But should the government not try to regulate the industry instead and address proper implementation of surrogacy laws? The fact that foreign couples and Indian homosexual couples / single parents would be denied surrogacy is even more discriminatory and confusing.

Speaking of exploitation, how many women in the country, poor or rich alike are married with the sole purpose of bearing a child? Everybody tells a man to find a ‘nice girl’, and settle down to start a family. At times, the same wife goes through multiple childbirths in an attempt to bear a male child, her consent being nobody’s concern.

Oh the zeal of a young writer! I had a lot of spark then. I was very clear in my thoughts.  My confidence was shaken as I read a comment from a woman. She had written that sex and pregnancy put women in vulnerable situations, and that I should think from the point of view of what a woman would go through giving birth to a child she cannot keep. I had immediately felt ashamed of myself.

Was I speaking from a place of privilege?

I cannot imagine what it would be like to carry someone else’s child for money. But I can also not imagine what it would be like to be so in need of money that one would actually go through something like this. What if you have no money to feed your kids?

Mimi: Low on Research, High on emotion

The writers of the movie have been too lazy to research the laws. Commercial surrogacy is banned in India. As per law, a surrogate should be married and should have a child of her own.  Foreign couples are not allowed to opt for surrogacy in India. Overlooking all of this, here is the story:

A foreign couple approaches a young and pretty girl, Mimi, an aspiring actress to be their surrogate. She is introduced to them by a driver, Pankaj Tripathi. After the initial shock, Mimi goes ahead with the idea because she wants to go to Mumbai with the money she receives in return. Her parents are not aware of any of this.   But Mimi is in for a rude shock when the foreign couple abandons their baby, once they get to know that the baby may not be ‘normal’.

What will our poor Mimi do now? She is a bin byahi Maa with a white baby in her womb!

Oversimplified everything

In one of the scenes, Mimi asks her doctor about stretch marks. As someone who wants to go to Bollywood, it is understandable that she would be concerned about her figure post pregnancy and childbirth.

“Shilpa Shetty ka figure kharaab hua kya?” The doctor responds, strangely.

Yes, doctor. Shilpa Shetty represents all Indian women! There are other such bizarre scenes in the movie where the tough questions are just brushed off to make everything look easy.

Acting

Pankaj Tripathi is flawless as usual.   Supriya Pathak proves yet again she is an insanely gifted actress. There is a part in the movie where Pankaj Tripathi is mistaken for Mimi’s husband. Supriya Pathak and Manoj Pahwa’s expressions for their disappointment in their jamai provided much comic relief.

Kriti Sanon has tried hard but she is not a natural actress. Her accent was horrible. Luckily for her, she is very easy on the eyes. Her face in almost perfect and so is her body.

The bad reviews

Most reviews have ripped the movie apart. Especially all feminist platforms. So much that I felt guilty for liking the movie!! But as always,  I will stay honest to my views.

What critics say – Poorly researched.  What I say:

I agree that the makers have not done research on the law. But this was not a documentary. It was a movie. On Netflix. During the pandemic. You know and I know that we watch any new movie that is released on OTT because theatres are not open yet and there is no office and there is nothing better to do.

So yes, by those standards the movie was okay for a one time watch.

What critics say – Insensitive and racist. What I say:

People have complained that the baby was referred to as ‘disabled’. It may be insensitive but that is how  people talk. It does not matter because the movie had a nice message and it was pro acceptance. People have also complained that the ‘white’ baby was followed everywhere and this was racist.

It reminded me of my childhood days in Patna. I was very little maybe  in fourth, fifth grade. A white lady had got her daughter admitted in Kindergarten. This was something very exciting for us as there were no foreigners in our school.  She used to come to pick up and drop her kid every day.  The lady was so beautiful. At least I remember her as very beautiful. It may be possible that she was not beautiful, but just white and wore different clothes from the rest of the mothers who wore saris and salwar suits. We were too little and found her pretty because she looked so different. So white, and so modern!! AS if right out of a Fairytale. We used to follow her! One day I spoke to her and asked her is she was from ‘America?’

Coming back to Mimi, I won’t call it racism if a pretty looking kid is followed around in a small town. It is more of curiosity and attraction to something exquisite.

What critics say – Patriarchal. What I say:

Critics have said that Mimi gave up her dreams for the baby and the movie glorified motherhood and Mimi as the ever scarifying Maa who has no life of her own. I disagree. She got into an unwanted situation and dealt with it. Were their enough people to raise her baby? Sure! What with the doting grandparents and even the driver’s family ready to give up everything for the baby!

But it’s okay that she decided to stay for the baby. She fell in love with the baby, probably. Women fall in love with the wrong men, and ruin themselves all the time! Why not for a baby! She could still become an actress. Who said an actress has to be 25 years old only, my fellow feminist writers? She could become something else too.  In the two hours that they had, the makers had a different plot and objective.

Women empowerment means different things at different points in life. Maybe sometimes just hanging in a tough situation, accepting it, staying strong and not running away is as empowered as a woman can be.

Who is a mother anyway?

The one who gives birth? The one whose genes it is?  Or the one who raises the child?

Devaki bhi tum yo, Yashodha bhi, says Mimi’s mother.

The movie had a beautiful message about adoption at the end. All in all, it was meant to be a movie that will make you laugh and cry.

The boredom of the pandemic and my strong views in favour of adoption and non obsession with ‘apna khoon’ made me like the movie. Do share your views in the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

Haseen Dillruba! They Are Just Another Married Couple After All1

I was not interested in watching this movie. From the trailers and name, I felt like it was some idiotic movie justifying an extra marital affair, with an unnecessarily sensational murder plot. The negative reviews didn’t help either. Never had I imagined that this movie would touch me. The suspense or the crime part of it is not the highlight of the movie for me, although the film is completely gripping and you will not get bored at any point.   To me, this was a story about just another newly married, arranged marriage couple, and I have never seen a more realistic portrayal.

Spoiler alert: I will not disclose anything related to the ‘murder’ but will include descriptions of the lead couple’s marriage in this blog. So, if have not watched the movie and you don’t want to know anything about it then don’t read further. Please come back once you watch it.

Simple boy ‘gets’ hot girl thanks to arranged marriage

Rani is the good-looking girl from Delhi. Reeshu is the average looking boy from Jwalapur. Rani may have had hotter boyfriends before with whom it not work out. Reeshu probably never had access to such a good-looking woman. Rani knows that she needs stability in her life now, and commitment phobic boyfriends will not provide that to her. Reeshu is on cloud nine to find such a pretty girl. Rani is well aware that she is way out of his league. She knows that he got her without any efforts, and therefore takes her for granted. Reeshu knows in his heart he loves her so much and will take care of her. What else could possibly matter?

But is love ever enough?

Sex life

Psychologists say that sex is 70% of the marriage. Which means that if your sex life is good, you may still have a lot of problems. However, if your sex life is not good, it becomes 70% of the problem right there! But what happens in an arranged marriage? How easy is it to build chemistry with someone who you barely know? What if the wife is far more attractive than the husband and he is fully aware of it? How difficult is it for him to initiate things? What if something breaks his confidence? What if he feels that his inner doubts and insecurity which he had locked up somewhere at the back of his head may actually be real and true?

Is it so easy to recover from something like this so early on in the marriage?

Bahurani is not (never) good enough!

In case you are thinking based on the above point that if everything is good in the bedroom, things will be fine, you are wrong! Rani is not just a wife, but a daughter-in-law and from the moment she wakes up, her entire lifestyle and habits is under scrutiny!

Subtle details in the movie – such as the mother-in-law chopping vegetables and frowning because Rani gets up late, Rani’s lack of interest in the kitchen causing further resentment to her husband, Rishu’s friend telling him, ‘Thoda raub lo Bhabhi par, routine set karo – itne baje breakfast, itne baje chai’ is all way too real in the Indian marriage set-up.

The problem with arranged marriages is that there is a lot of focus on finding the ‘right person’. But people have no idea what should happen once the marriage is solemnized.

What is marriage anyway?

Most people get married believing a myth.
They believe that marriage is a beautiful box full of things they have longed for… companionship, intimacy, friendship, etc.

The truth is that marriage at the start is an empty box.
You must put something in before you can take anything out.

There is no love in marriage.
Love is in people. And people put love in marriage.
There is no romance in marriage. You have to infuse it into your marriage.

A couple must learn the art and form the habit of giving, loving, serving, praising, of keeping the box full.
If you take out more than you put in, the box will be empty.

(Written by Dr J Allan Peterson)

So, what do you put in this box?

This is a tricky question for Indian women. I have written a book called, ‘Marriages are made in kitchen’. Most women do not think that men want them to cook all day. Most men are also not aware that this is their expectation, until they get married and they see that the wife does not cook (enough). Rani doesn’t really cook anything or have interest in housework. She doesn’t think much of it either. In a scene which I found cute, she politely smiles and nods at her parents-in-law, tries to pour tea from the empty kettle, and fetches bread and jam from the kitchen. She does not realize that she has committed a sin while the mother-in-law all the while stares at her as if she is unbelievable! Reeshu’s friend also convinces him to assert his wife into falling into a ‘routine’ where she should run after him providing his breakfast, lunch and dinner at a certain time.  

No wonder, Rani says, ‘Pehle batana tha na, Bawarchi chahiye’.

Though no one responded to her in this movie, typical response to this question would be, ‘Shadi kyun ki,?’  

Family dynamics

 Reeshu lives with his parents, and his bride Rani joins him after marriage. Reeshu’s mother is quite obvious about her disapproval for Rani’s habits and lack of participation in housework. She is vocal about it too. However, what truly breaks Reeshu’s confidence and heart is that Rani speaks to her mother about their relationship!

Again, very typical of Indian men. Their parents, their sisters, their brothers, their side of the family can poke their nose and ‘advise’ them on their marriage and criticize the wife from head to toe, morning till night. But the wife’s call to the mother is always the deal breaker for them!

Again, very realistic portrayal. 

So what is Rani supposed to do?

 The moment Rani shows interest in the kitchen, Reeshu’s heart melts. There is a scene in which Reeshu sees that Rani is doing a facial for his mother. So far in the movie, Reeshu’s mother is least interested in Rani’s ‘parlor’ skills. Yet, when Reeshu sees that his wife and his mother have finally got some common ground, and are bonding over something, his face immediately lights up. This is the level of detailing in the movie!  

This is how men are! Don’t ask me why but this is how it is. They want you to cook. They want you to take care of their mothers. And when you do it, they reward you with their love! You might think you are doing other things right, but these two things mean a lot to them!  

Practically impossible marriage?  

An unconsummated marriage. An affair. Wife is far from being an ‘ideal bahu’ by mother-in-law’s standards. Husband has started hating her. He is mean to her. Awful to say the least. The marriage is practically impossible. But you know what makes marriages survive?

People stay. It is as simple as that. (A line I have used in my book, ‘Marriages are made in moments’).

Kitne bhi tu kar le sitam, has has ke sahenge hum. Yeh pyaar na hoga kum.

Despite it all, Rani stays. ‘Love and hate are two sides of the same coin’. And who knows it better than a married couple! My heart breaks for Reeshu. A good guy who was happy to find a pretty girl, and he had thought he could keep her happy. He was not a good-looking guy. But he loved her. Or at least he thought he did. My heart breaks for Rani. She feels rejected by Reeshu. But it was Reeshu who felt rejected first.   Again, something only married couples know. Who did what first? Who initiated it? Who carried it forward? No one knows. What is left at the end is anger, hurt, distance, and more distance.

Hazaar rahein mud ke dekhi, Kahin se koi sada na aayi

Badi wafa se nibhayi tumne hamari those si bewafai

Bad boys versus good boys

I have been watching ‘Sex life’ on Netflix. Have not yet completed it. But one thing is clear. Whether it is Bollywood or Hollywood, men are compartmentalized as ‘good boys’ or ‘bad boys’. The average looking man who wears a shirt and pants and goes to office is considered good. The heroine’s ex-boyfriend with six-packs and a bike is always the bad guy.

This is not necessarily true, ladies. Please don’t think there are any ‘good guys’ just because they look ‘simple’.  All men are capable of being good or bad. All men have the potential of breaking you. There is no ‘good guy’ who will love you unconditionally. Other than parents, nobody will love you unconditionally. More importantly, I think the distinction instead of ‘good boy vs bad boy’ should be of husband vs boyfriend. Totally different expectations, and not at all comparable!

Janmon ke saathi, hum saath saath hain

 I know, cheesy line. But the only thing that matters, at the end of the day. The ‘saat pheras’, the ‘ek chutki sindoor’, it has some power after all. Believe it or not. All marriages seem impossible at some point, but you can still make it work. A lesson for anyone struggling in a marriage and wanting to make it work. No third person can break your marriage, remember that.

Reeshu and Rani were just another married couple, who got married thinking it will just work out naturally (it is supposed to), realized that it doesn’t work that way, doubted each other, doubted themselves, had their hearts broken, made mistakes, treated each other like ****, had themselves trampled over, yet in the end they survived it.

That pretty much summarizes marriage!

 

 

 

The Horror That 2021 Is…

 

I had written ‘lockdown’ posts in 2020. Lockdown 1, lockdown 2, lockdown 3, lockdown 4 and so on. These posts revolved around sanitizing milk packets, Maggi not being available in the market,  Zoom calls with family as boredom relief and complaining about doing housework without maids.

March 2020, my parents and so many other people their age received their first dose of vaccine. Maa Papa should stay home for another three months after getting the second dose, to be on the safer side. Sister should be able to visit from the US during niece’s summer vacation. I will start working from office….

The worst is over…This is what we all had thought.

Now, when I look back at my posts from 2020, I feel they were such a joke. What can we say of the past month and half? Numbers became people we knew. Covid hit home. And it hit hard.  People have died even when they did not have Covid. There are horror stories everywhere. In 2021, people just seem to die!  With the blink of an eye! Age is no bar. Fitness is not bar. People old and young have died.

I witnessed the first cremation of my life in February at my grandmother’s death. Yes, I was very  lucky to have seen something so devastating only at an ‘older’ age of someone old. But it has given me a whole new sense of perspective when I hear of someone’s death. Earlier I would think of the loss. The pain of not seeing your loved one ever again. The realization that you would never hear their voice, never hold them and never feel them again. The only way this nightmare would end is with your own death. Not anytime before that.

But now when I hear someone has died, and we are hearing so much now it’s almost unbelievable, the first thought that comes to my mind is that they have to deal with the ‘body’. Such a horrible term. Such a painful procedure. Such long rituals. Such empty 13 days or 4 days.

And yet to think that even that has become a privilege?

I watched the movie, ‘Ram Prasad Ki Terahvi’ and ‘Paglait’ recently. Both were good. My take here on the movies is death, nothing else. I don’t think any other movies have captured the ‘days that follow’. In Paglait, the mother talks about obtaining the death certificate of her son.  A death certificate of course has legal significance. But it is again such a painful thing – A piece of paper that states something so brutal. As if you don’t already know! The landscape of your entire life has changed! You do not need a piece of paper reminding you of it!

Back in February at the time of grandmother’s death, I was thinking that if someone dies, you should be able to close your eyes and not do anything for a long, long time. What you are getting is a lifelong punishment anyway. You should be allowed to shut your self down. There should not be any ‘body’, any rituals, any legal obligations, any funerals to be planned, any  anything. But then again, if you could wish for something, wouldn’t you wish that the death itself did not happen…

As a child, I went to a Catholic convent. We prayed before every ‘period’.   I was into the habit of praying before going to sleep at night. I prayed for the well-being of my family. My family was my father, mother, sister and me. I used to worry about my grandmother because she had to worry about so many people – her four children, their spouses, and their two kids each. Sixteen people is a lot to pray for!

I also had some concepts around death. Like if a whole family dies in a plane crash, that is not so bad. But if a person dies alone leaving behind a whole family that is bad. I used to reason that if at all there must be a concept of death, there should be some logic to it. Like people should die in families. Or there should be some pain / sadness threshold that should determine who should die. Bad people should die first. Death should make some sense!

I remember when I was very young, my father’s friend’s daughter (barely 14-15 years old) who went to my school died by suicide.   My father who visited the family the same day told me that Uncle looked so broken that he was afraid that Uncle may have a heart attack and die too. I immediately put my logic in place and thought that if the young girl and Uncle are both gone, how will Aunty and the other sister live? All of them should be gone… But wait.. what about the parents of Uncle and Aunty? Surely they should not be made to survive this? What about their siblings?

Someone has rightly said. Nobody dies alone.

People are changing jobs. People are getting married. People are having babies. I don’t know how any of that is happening. All I do is manage to get up in the morning, feel scared to look at my phone, skip a heartbeat when I receive any call or a message, somehow function through the day, pray before sleeping and go to bed only to have nightmares.

If there is a God, please have mercy!

Goodbye 2020: Will Not Miss You!

The world will be screaming Happy New Year in two days. 2020 was horrible. It was merciless.  People died. Lots of people.  Let us just accept how bad it was.  And just when we got hopes of a vaccine,  there was news of a deadlier strain coming up…

Really what is so ‘Happy’ about this coming year? 2020 has changed me I am sure the way it has changed so many of us.  For people whose loved ones were snatched away, they will never be the same again.   In that way, the rest of us who did not get the virus, did not lose anyone close must be the lucky and grateful ones who can complain about  anxiety, loneliness, boredom and isolation.  While a personal tragedy changes one forever,  a pandemic reminds us that it is not just life that is uncertain, but the entire world could crumple anytime.

I think this year has caused permanent damage to the way I see things.  I feel we are all just surviving that’s it.  That is what we were always meant to do.  And that is the best we will ever do.. 

Speaking of survival….

Roti: Most important thing

I pretty much cooked since March. My husband and I decided not to call the cook even after things got better. Cooking definitely takes up a lot of time. It is also never ending.  But still, food is something that can give instant happiness.  These thoughts inspired me to write my book, ‘Marriages are made in kitchen’. I think my highlights of this year have been the times I have ordered chilly chicken, chowmein pizza and momos at home!

Kapda: Why do we have all this stuff!

I started watching a show, ‘Minimalism’ on Netflix. I have been busy so I could barely get past the first episode. However, when I look at my two bedrooms full of clothes, makeup and accessories, untouched for 9.5 months of the year, I think why do we buy so much stuff!!! Do we need it?  I have a habit of buying new clothes before every vacation. Those dresses get worn once or twice.   I don’t even want to get into saris, and heavy salwar suits and how rarely we get to wear them! Of course, the only winner in 2020 was pajamas and track pants!

Aur Makaan: Where do you stay?

I moved house recently. I went from a bigger house in a small society to a smaller house in a big society. In this house hunt, I met people who vacated their houses on rent and left for their hometowns.

‘When will you come back to the city?’ I asked a lady. ‘Once my son’s school opens, or my office calls me whichever is earlier.’ She replied.

I also met a man who is selling his house because he has got permanent work from home now.

‘I will go back to my native (hometown) or go to Australia!’ He said.  And then I thought to myself, what would happen if this continues?  What will be the deciding factor where one would live when there is no office and no school?  You could be anywhere but anywhere is a scary place to be….

I read something on Christmas, ‘The things I want, cannot be bought!’ How true is that! Could it be any truer? (Read ‘be’ Chandler style)!

Magar mujhko lauta do mera woh bachpan, wok kagaz ki kashti who barish ka pani!

Let me tell you what I want. I want to go back to the time when six people lived happily in a two bedroom house where 10 people would visit for weddings and  holidays.  The time when our rooms were full of people, laughter, chats instead of stuff! I want to go back to the time when we would share a room with a cousin and talk all night.   Make Maggi at 3 am, and swear to sleep only to keep talking again. Wake up late, and have elders say how much we sleep. We would explain, You see, we slept only after 5…

Khairiyat poocho kabhi to kairiyat poocho..

There was a time we had landlines, which were mostly placed in the living rooms. People called and introduced themselves. No privacy.   Yet, friends who spent the whole day together in school called each other up every day and talked for long.

Tumlog ko itna kya baat karna hai? School mein to mile hi the!

Family members would say. And these calls were not free! Yet it was a price worth paying. Then came mobile phones. SMS.  Call charges were still high though. Initially I hated SMS. I would call people to respond to their message.  ‘It is annoying to type,’ I would say.  Then came Skype and WhatsApp.  There was no concept of call charges anymore.  From being the kind of person who didn’t like typing, I became the kind of person who didn’t like surprise calls.   I started texting people to check if I could call them.  They returned the courtesy.   It became a norm..

How many people can we pick up the phone and just call? How many people call  us  regularly just to ask ‘Aur kya chal raha hai?’

 

Muskuraye to muskurane ke karz utarne hoge

As kids we loved families. We loved to draw those stick figures with a round head. Shirt pant for Papa. Sari for Mumma. Girl child in skirt. Boy child in shorts.  But little did we know that families come at a cost. Marriage comes at a cost. And one person always pays the higher price.  The ones who chose self-respect often have to give up companionship.  The ones who chose the relationship have to compromise on their dignity. All for that occasional smile.   Sometimes that smile is not even for you, but for someone else.  What do you get in return?

Dil dhoondta hai phir wahi fursat ke raat din

I used to think that if I am home all day (despite work from home) I would probably read a lot and  watch a lot of movies. But fursat is good only when you are stress-free.  Otherwise, fursat can become your worst enemy.

In the middle of this year I thought, when will this end, when will I get  to go to restaurants, movies beaches and vacations!  But now I feel it may not change anything. What if the emptiness of this year is permanent? What if the hollow feeling is within?

What if everything we think makes us happy in life is just a way of escape?

Even though I am feeling very low about next year, I wish everyone a happy and safe year ahead. Do share with me in the comments the songs that best capture your feelings of 2020.

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday in 2020!!

The Silsila of birthday in Corona started in May with my husband’s birthday.  There was a lockdown.  I was at my highest level of anxiety and did not order cake, nor did I order any gifts for him. I made a cake in a karahi. I sincerely believed then that parcels carried potential risk. Neither did we meet anyone.  What I did instead was organize an online party for him from both his side of the family and mine.  Little did I know that it would be the first of the many online parties that would follow in 2020…. November was distant then, and I had thought things would be better by then…

My birthday was on Diwali this year so it was very special. I had a nice day with our families.  Before I complain about how I could not go out to a restaurant, or invite people over I should remember that 2020 has been about surviving.   I am grateful to be alive,  healthy and happy that I have not got the dreaded illness. It has been a weird year, and with the loss and despair that it has brought,  it has probably made us value little nothings more than ever.

How was it different from other birthdays?

I have become a little chilled out now. So yes there were two cakes,  a bouquet and lots of gifts and treats sent by close family.  For our anniversary in June, my husband wanted to get flowers for me but he was afraid I will kill them with sanitizers!

Being Diwali it was automatically vibrant and festive. I watched a woman take her little daughter to play with fire crackers. The girl was scared and her mother was asking her to at least try a phuljhadi. The daughter kept saying, ‘Dar lagta hai’. The mother told her that this happens every year. She feels scared at first, then she starts enjoying it and refuses to leave!

I thought this exactly described me from my childhood! As a kid, I always wanted to dress up in something pretty like lehenga for Diwali. But my mother dressed me up in Jeans, T shirt, Denim jacket, and fully closed shoes. She thought I should be safely dressed for fire crackers and not in some dupatta. I would always start out being scared, then excited and finally found jumping near phirki!  I distinctly remember a Diwali when I had upgraded from phuljhari to Anar, although the bum was still off limits. Something that always fascinated me was the rocket. I always wondered if it would fly into someone’s home! And then there was the gharonda which was a project we loved…

I feel that so many children from this generation may not be familiar with the beauty of Diwali…

New clothes, new makeup but stuck at home!

I received a lot of gifts. Now I am waiting for an occasion to actually wear the new clothes!  I have been complaining to my husband that we should go on a short holiday. I see people post pictures, and I feel like I am the only one stuck at home!  However,  I have not even started going to restaurants or supermarket or visiting anyone.

I spent a lot of time thinking about nearby places I could visit by car for a short tw0-three day trip. The journey should be short enough to not use a restroom on way, and the resort should be ‘isolated’ and ‘not crowded’ and ‘following covid protocol’.  Such a place probably does not exist!  I even imagine carrying my own bedsheets and pillow cases! My husband says this vacation is just a fancy thought in my head, and I will never be able to go through with it. Last couple of times I have stepped out to a store, I have returned to the car because people have not been wearing a mask.

My husband has a feeling I will make him drive to some place, then get irritated at people not wearing a mask, ask him to yell at them, hate everyone and then make him drive us back home!  Even for my birthday, we did not go out to any restaurant, just to our parents’ place. I especially get irritated looking at people whose mask is below their nose. The nostrils is not an attractive part of the face, and there is something very annoying about a mask that highlights the nose instead of covering it!

My Goals for this year

I read my blog from last birthday. Seems I was quite positive and was giving gyaan on Zindagi milegi na dobara and taking risks!  Taking risks has a whole new meaning in 2020 so I would not say that anymore.  I guess the only thing I did this year worth talking about was writing books.   Towards the mid of the year, I was very focused on being productive, making the most of work from home but now I seem quite content with being lazy and sleeping more!  I guess I underestimated the joy of getting up  minutes before logging in and having nowhere to report to! Of course I would love to go out,  but I don’t miss the traffic of the daily office commute.

I have also realized that I simply cannot watch Netflix etc. for long. I have never been a binge watcher and I assumed that was because I would rather go out than stay home and watch TV.  Now I know that even when I am home for months,  there is only a limited amount of shows I can watch. I have also realized I cannot read a lot of books.   I have a low attention span. Surprisingly, I like to waste time reading random things on the internet!

I don’t have much goals for 2021.   In fact, I can’t even think of anything! All I can think of is when will I go on my next vacation, when will work from home end and office will resume, when will I wear nice clothes, when will I order lenses next?

And yet a part of me is enjoying being in pajamas all day, taking a nap during work hours, and taking a shower at 6 pm!

But since it has always been a birthday tradition, let me list down some goals:

Stop being so finicky

I have mentioned about my obsessiveness with germs even pre corona in my blog. Now when I look back, I feel why was I always like this? Was I preparing for corona all my life!  My aim is to relax a little once corona is over.  There is also a possibility that I will only get worse post corona. Only time will tell…

Write more articles

I had made a conscious decision to focus more on books this year than blogs. But I ended up writing very little on my blog.   Some people have messaged me saying I should continue the articles and that they really enjoyed it.  I have that in my to-do.  Facebook reach of posts has declined a lot, which becomes demotivating for a writer.   But I guess, I should not think about that and just continue to write, the way I did when I started out.

Karam kiye ja. Phal ki chinta mat kar!

  • Get a dishwasher

I really want to stop the dependency on household helps.   I started calling my maid only recently and even though I cannot do all the work by myself, I think the dishes should definitely get a solution. This may not  happen soon but let’s see…

  • Visit cousins / friends more

I realized that this year just got over and I did not meet people enough . Will do that more next year.

  • Compile my non-fiction blogs into a book

Or maybe write a non-fiction book from scratch . I think after this year, I have become less scared of getting ugly criticism  or bad reviews.  I have realized that I am not famous enough to be hated, so the worst thing that can happen to writers like me is that people don’t read enough, for which we have to keep figuring out ways to improve the reach. At least the fear  is gone now!

  • Go to a cold place in India with my husband
    A vacation in the hills. Simla, Manali or Nainital or maybe Sikkim… Momos and pahad wali Maggie.

My husband went to college in Simla and some of our relatives are there currently, so this is likely to happen, of course covid willing! I also want to go to a beach in foreign and wear a swim suit.  I always wear shorts at a beach, I have not worn anything less than that as I feel too conscious. But yes, I do want to do that once in my lifetime!  Beaches remind me that I also want to go to Goa! Ever since I have got married my husband and I talk in terms of visiting places that we have visited before separately ‘but saath mein nahi gaye hain!’

Become something else!

I watched an IPS officer win KBC recently. I was very inspired and I told my husband I want to be an IPS officer too! I do this a lot. When I watched Dexter, I wanted to be a homicide detective, when I watched Homeland I wanted to be a spy, when I watch anything I want to be in that profession! My husband joked that I could still get the forms and study hard and become an IPS officer.  I told him I must have crossed the age limit.  I checked online and I had  crossed it indeed! Even though this was just for fun, I really wish we had more time to choose our career.  Deciding Arts, Science and Commerce at 15, and limiting ourselves for the rest of our life before we know what we want is harsh!

So I guess this one should be added to next life goals instead!

Bas itna sa khwab hai!!

So this is it for now. Everybody please stay safe. Covid has not ended yet.   Take care.

Image source

 

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!