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Wrapping up, with twelve things I like to do

I am working from home today, already done with the mandatory call to the my overseas parole officer, children are busy partying in the pajamas, and husband is taking one last lunch with the men before he gets confined in estrogen central for two weeks. By the way, did you notice? The world didn’t end today. That means back to balancing parents-parenting-co-parent with work and Cliffmas, and of course virtual socialization and writing. This morning, a dear friend shared Marlo Thomas’s article “Twelve things to do when it’s cold outside“.

Marlo says “Closet Cleaning”. Thank you, but no thank you. My closet doesn’t get cleaned in the middle of the winter. There is nothing I can put away, there is nothing I can donate, yet. My closet cleaning will have to wait until we draw curtains on Winter, or for that matter, Summer. End of the season children will have a lot to donate, because they are most likely to outgrow all that stuff by next winter. Also, the bill ‘No More Hangars” was passed into law, thereby controlling clutter. I clean up my pantry before the holiday season starts. By Holidays I mean, when we kick off the Holidays sometimes in second week of October, for Diwali, not late November during Thanksgiving. The deep cleaners clean up the rest of the house, and clean up the pantry, and paperwork. I like a clean pantry, and a clean oven before I start by winter baking. So, that’s not happening now.

Speaking of cleaning, there is one part of the house that I never volunteer to clean. Our fridge. On any given Friday, there will be at least five cups of Nesquick, and three cups of coffee in the fridge. It’s my husband’s job to dispose that stuff. I don’t do it, partly because I am bound by habit. When I was little, I would take a sip of my milk and run to school. My mother would put it in the fridge and give it to our servant’s daughter when they came later for work. It didn’t bother my mother that she gave left overs, and it didn’t bother our servant that it was my left over. On rare days that I was finished, she would get a fresh batch though. She didn’t like it much, it didn’t have cream in it. Same thing with my lunch box. She would wait for me to come from school so that she could eat my left over pastries. Sometimes I saved pastries just so that she could taste them. Last year when we visited India, my children wanted to know if grandma had slaves in the house. Oh no, grandma corrected, they are my household help. But back when I was growing up, Bai was the maid servant, not help/assistance, and Bai was a term used to address servants only until Mallika Sherawat danced “Jalebi Bai”! Moving on, Marlo suggests accent wall coloring. In my opinion, winter is not a good time. First of all, the sun is softer than the rest of the year. Bright and festive atmosphere rules the mood, and you might end up picking a color you will regret later. Texturing won’t give the desired results, some parts drying faster than others. I would wait till Summer, or at least Spring.

But I am inspired by Marlo’s article, here is my twelve for when it’s cold.. no matter what cold means for a Californian.

  1. Middle of the day is my witching hour, but it’s nothing a cup of coffee cannot fix. It’s only in winter that the afternoon is so cold, I actually enjoy the warmth of the coffee. After I pour out my coffee, I leave the lid of the Espresso ajar, letting the steamy aroma of the ground coffee escape, and fill the kitchen. Heavenly!
  1. Colors! Red, green and gold in a shade that complement my olive skin. I don’t like the loud reds and greens of Spring and Summer, but the winter shades exude warmth that I can carry off. My closet is filled with dresses in these colors, though I prefer the legion of my black tops over blue jeans with a scarf on a regular day.
  1. Red. Taylor Swift’s red. Not her album, even though the little one croons “trouble trouble” nonstop! I mean her signature red lipstick. I didn’t wear red lipstick until recently. I am told Merlot is more my color by the Divas behind the coloring desk makeup counter. But, no thanks, this year I will rock the red that I like, not what you think I will like, or people will like on me. Red is RED this year.
  1. Yellow Gold Jewelry! Admit it. If you are an Indian girl, you own a stash of yellow gold jewelry no matter how much platinum you wear now. That’s how we roll in India. I have my fair share, accumulated before/during wedding, and daddy dear adds on here and there, on my birthdays. Winter is the only time where they actually blend in with my clothes, and the surroundings. Bling is not blingy enough when your neighbor is wearing green and gold ornament for earrings!
  1. Those parties is pretty clothes, where they serve an itty-bitty dish on a huge platter. It’s done so well, for a moment you wonder if it’s only for display, or for consumption. But after coming home, hungry girl raids the pantry, dips a piece of Panettone in coffee because a classy dinner is beautiful, never filling!
  1. Cuddling in the bed with my girls in the mornings. The two week vacation is the best part of our winter! There are no extracurricular activities, there is no school, mommy shuttle takes off while daddy plays chauffer. Work isn’t very crazy, and most importantly, California sometimes isn’t that cold, you can actually hit the beach for New Years, and hike most of the days. These are truly the days I relax and unwind without planning the next thing.
  1. Red toes with gold bands! Underneath those boots and soft socks is a beautiful pedicure of red and gold that I rarely get to show off, but I love painting my nails in those festive colors anyway. Christmas begins with the toes, and it only fades and chips after new year’s, right when I take the lights and wreaths off.
  1. Boots! I didn’t wear boots till I was thirty, and when a coworker asked me, I proudly said “Never in my life”. Of course I got a lecture on how I haven’t lived yet, and bought my first pair of uglies. Hooked on since then, the collection is growing. Not just me, all three of us are slaves to boots. In this house where mother doesn’t wait with fresh baked cookies when children come home from school, the mother-daughter bonding happens over shoes!
  1. My skin! I never break out during winter, and all the discoloration of spring and summer thanks to my nonstop outdoor activities fades away, giving that luminous look. I am not the facial and bleach kind, leave alone the botox and filler kind! But winter heals my skin, prepares it for another brutal summer come next year. It’s nice, once in a while not to have my badges of youth!
  1. Pajamas! I love sitting in the house in my pajamas, wearing soft socks, sliding on the wood floor sometimes like a little child, and not worrying about anyone knocking on the door. At six. Reading something on the sofa, relaxing already in the evening, without having to dress decently and stand guard to the children scootering and biking outside. Bliss!
  1. Food. I love every winter food, as long as it’s not meat based. I love the warm creamy sauces, mildly spiced, melting in the mouth delicacies. I love the personal sized cakes in pretty containers, I love the cookies from around the world, I love the Tiramisu in any form, and most of all, I love the Panettone! Religiously I buy every single dessert item at Costco and Trader Joes, and enjoy each one without worrying about the weight they would add. Winter clothes are forgiving, thankfully, and come January I can hit the gym without guilt!
  1. Private calls to my parole officer, Mommy dearest. It’s nice, to go on a video chat with the rest of the family, but there is nothing like mommy-baby time. Dad sleeps early, thanks to the time change, and I get to work from home, thanks to the occasional rain that disrupts Californian life. We talk a lot, sometimes for two hours, and even though we don’t gossip about anyone, it’s nice to have that privacy.

And there I hit the “H U N D R E D”! I have lost many of my Sulekha blogs from 06-09 era, and have completely lost many pre-2003, but here it is, hundredth on the blog spot, before we end 2012. Thank you reading my blogs, and becoming a part of my mundane life, however boring it is at times. I love you all, for loving me.. and encouraging me, especially this special friend who has read each one of my blog and commented..

Chasing Happiness #36

This morning, read an article called “The mom stays in the picture” by Allison Tate. “Too much of a mama’s life goes undocumented and unseen”, says Allison.

I loved the essay Allison wrote, but as the writer of the blog that “Documents and Dramatizes” the mundane moments of my life, I couldn’t relate to her thoughts. In this family, mom stays in the picture, always, unless she is wielding the camera. This mom has loads and loads of pictures with her children on every computer and every smart phone in the house. There is us, in our pajamas, hair all frizzed out in a hotel room. There is us, without make up, having breakfast with a backdrop of sink full of dishes. There is us, pillow fighting in unmade beds. Most of the times the hair in not done, nail polish is chipped, and the face is bare. Sometimes, I am just fat. Pictures of us aren’t picture perfect, but we smile and show our big teeth, braced teeth and baby teeth in all of our pictures with pride. I am their mother, and they, my daughters, this is how we are, and there is nothing we are ashamed of! I will go ahead and show up in the pictures, with my children, with my parents, with my friends, and with my husband.

I don’t have a problem being me, but others do, sometimes. One of my friends called me recently with triumph dripping out of her words. Epic fail, she said. I see the silver shining in your hair, you can’t fool me anymore, she added. Oh, OK, you noticed the picture. I am writing blog after blog documenting my transition from youth to middle age, and I am trying to hurt your plastic sensibilities via my words, but if you didn’t read it, that my dear, is an epic fail for me. Anyway, come Christmas, you will receive my holiday card featuring my sun-blessed silver dusted hair and happiness dripping through the ends of my eyes. It’s not fair that you think growth spurts in kids are cute, but my transition from youth to middle age is repulsive!

Pictures in the past decade are on the computers all over the house, and someplace in the clouds too. But I still have a box of pictures like they did in the era of dinosaurs. Those prints have documented our wedding, our life in apartments, our first child, our parents’ first visits. There are pictures of me with my parents, my friends, and with the door of my closet filled with Rahul Dravid’s picture. There is a picture of me wearing someone’s bracelet. Like the sisterhood of travelling pants, this special person left me the bracelet for summer. I wore it like I owned it. Time took its toll on the bracelet and on the friendship we shared, but the picture has sealed that memory forever.

There is a picture of me with my grandfather. He died two months after we took that picture. That’s the one and only picture of just the two of us. I didn’t comb my hair in that picture, but if I had said no that day to the photographer, I probably would have ended up with no time capsule of sorts with my grandfather. I don’t have any pictures with my other grandparents. There are pictures of grandparents, and then there are pictures of grandparents with their grandkids. But we have nothing that shares the special moment between us. Probably that’s the reason I have loads of pictures of my children with their grandparents, documenting their every activity.

I have a picture with my best friend. Everyone has one, but mine is special, because there won’t be another picture with her, ever. She is a Moslem. A few days after we took the picture, she started wearing the traditional wear, Burqa to hide her face. According to the diktats of her religion, she couldn’t take pictures any more. But the picture of us remains as a document of our friendship, and of her beautiful and carefree youth. We grew apart after we chose different career paths, and haven’t seen each other in the last decade. She is not on social media also, so we are not connected virtually. I tried contacting her through friends of friends, but so far it’s been an epic fail. Till I reconnect with her again, that picture will be the only reminder of the relation we shared in our teenage years.

Most treasured pictures of all, they are of a too tired, and worn out from epidural mother who hasn’t had a decent shower with her newborn. When I saw those pictures, I wished that I had freshened up my face or fixed my hair at least, but there they are, stark reminders of the moments after giving birth, full of pain, and pleasure as life progressed and I stepped into parenthood. Happiness of sorts, documented. I never shared them with the world, not even with my mother. They are in the box, one day for my daughters to see and know how their mother looked when they entered the world. But today, after I read the article, I ended up discussing the article with my ‘sisterhood’ and ended up sharing the pictures with them.

Of course my friends told me that I look beautiful with the new mother’s glow. They are left with only one option of applauding the warmth of love between me and my new born when I share such a vulnerable moment with them. I have acne breakout today, because over the weekend, I ate like a teenager. I have acne, I told my husband, and before he reacted, I added that I feel ugly when I have acne. Poor guy, he walked to the other room saying you look beautiful. I leave people with no other option than telling me what I want to hear sometimes.

But not so long ago, the world’s most beautiful woman Aishwarya Rai was not so lucky. Every magazine clicked the picture of her double chin, and the baby fat. They were very critical of her weight gain, called her an elephant, even made a youtube video and compared her with Victoria Beckham who bounced back to her size zero (or is it zero-zero?) immediately after giving birth. Aishwarya reminds me.. I worked near one of the famous portrait studios in Pasadena. One of my coworkers visited the gallery one day, and came back to me with a picture of a woman in peacock blue sari and wedding finery and told me to get my picture done just like that because I wasn’t going to stay beautiful like this always. It was Aishwarya’s picture from Devdas. I think if she had known about this incident before, the youtube video of her picture with elephant sounds wouldn’t have felt like an insult!

But not all moments are filled with self love and confidence..

As a mother, my life also revolves around my daughters. On Halloween, I took exactly forty-seven pictures of my girls using a heavy duty camera. I don’t give that camera to the children to take my pictures, but I have a smaller and easy to use camera for them if they wanted to take good pictures. Then there is the smart phone with a state of the art camera. Technology has advanced so much that I don’t even need anyone to take my picture. All it takes is a touch of the finger to enable front facing camera before I click myself. But I still didn’t document my first tryst with red lipstick.

I have destroyed a lot of my teenage pictures too, thinking I didn’t look good. Now I regret doing so, for ruining the time capsule of the precious casual moments of life. Perhaps that’s why I tell my daughter not to check “fix acne” in her middle school pictures, and ask her to smile with her braces showing- I want her to be proud of all those changes body goes through. Also, when I look at my childhood pictures, I notice that I have more pictures with my mother than with my father. Perhaps my father needed Allison to write a blog for him saying “Dad needs to stay in the picture!” He was young, handsome and I resembled him more than my mother. Maybe that’s why he didn’t feel the need to document our relation? We have professional pictures, but not many casual pictures that documented our everyday life.  I don’t know how I looked taking a nap on my dad’s shoulder, or walking to school with him. That reminds me, I also don’t know how I look with my parents as an adult. Just the three of us. They consider it rude to pose like that. They include the grandchildren in every picture, and we can join in if we wanted to. They have not expressed any desire to take their pictures with only me. Maybe they don’t think it’s cute to document three people transitioning to the not so cute phase of life in one picture?

So next time I see them, a picture of us, just the three of us! One graying, one platinum blonde, and the other with platinum highlights. That should be a keeper..

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Chasing Happiness #34

When I opened my eyes and searched for the morning light in distance, there was none today. It was dark, and cold. I heard the usual morning sounds of the newspapers being delivered, of the neighbor starting his car and letting it warm up before he drove to work, and the clanking of the charms on the leash of my neighbor’s dog. I didn’t want to get out of the warmth of the blanket and take on the world and my multiple roles for the day.
On mornings like this, I want to lie down in the bed and wait for someone to make coffee for me. I want to lie down in the bed and wait for the morning light to wash away the darkness of the night. I try to wake up, remembering the schedules that would be affected if I got distracted, but the whole body hurts and I drift back into sleep. I have the rare fortified flu, one that the daughter brought home, one that husband strengthened and gifted me with all his love and affections.
Between Nyquil, Dayquil and Spiced Apple Cider, life hasn’t been fair in the past week, but it’s already November, and we are not allowed to whine about things that don’t matter. Instead, we should focus on the beautiful things in life, and be thankful for the gifts life gave us. I am thankful for the sun, moon and stars for aligning in a favorable way, and earth for completing all its mandatory rotations and revolutions without being distracted, but then, I am supposed to take all that for granted, and move to other things in life that don’t matter on astronomical proportions.  From today to Thanksgiving, it’s twenty-one days, so I will make a list of twenty-one things that I am thankful for.
I am thankful for the Great Housing Depression.
I will not brag about my investment with equity, nor will I brag about the virtue of patience I displayed by extending our sweet life in the townhouse till the bubble burst, but I will share how life has changed after the Great Housing Depression. I am an Architect, but I DON’T design houses. My first and last residential project was done and gone when I was in my first semester. I work for commercial and retail projects, and but when the housing bubble started bursting, we were affected too. Without new houses, there was no necessity to build new shopping malls, and the little remodels and renovations were also put on hold as most companies grappled with the drop in consumer spending.
In the Spring of 2009, my career came to a screeching halt. During the brief time when there were no job vacancies for Architects, and companies that I knew and worked for were shutting down, or merging with other companies, I grew delusional about having any future in doing what I did best. I went on Federal Unemployment Benefits. It wasn’t so hard dealing with what life had to offer, but it sure was hard dealing with the people life had to offer. Many of them who I called friends, felt entitled to brag about their minimum wage job to belittle my new unemployed/ seeking employment and projects status. I refused to be bogged down by such people, even though it hurt momentarily to be put down like that. The economy had the power to take my employment status away, but not my education, and yes, this too shall pass.
Solopreneurship kicked in, and I have never been happier even though things haven’t been rosy always. There are times when I am swamped with work, and then there were periods of lull. I survived on hope, and will continue to do so. It is beautiful, to shut down myself in the home office, and work while everyone at home is still asleep, and the phones haven’t started ringing yet. It is beautiful, to sit in a sky scraper, shift my gaze from the freeway below to the mountains I hiked in the Summer with children. Most of all, it’s beautiful when people talk about layoffs – being the single employee of my company, my job security rocks! 
Patience and hyperactivity can never be friends, and I have always taken it for granted that there will never be a dull moment, professionally and personally. Between the periods of lull, I did not sit and watch TV in my pajamas, munching on popcorn. I did not read a book cover to cover in one go, neither did I go on lunch and movie dates with my friends. I reignited my passion of writing, I even compiled my writings into a book. I was proud when my picture appeared in local new magazines, and shared the television interview date with everyone I knew.  I blogged, I day traded, I wanted to open a motel at one point when my dad gently told me motels weren’t the nicest idea, I wanted to develop technology but my mentor told me that the six million loan, if not paid within a year, will never get paid. From the bucket list of things that I wanted to do, I tried anything and everything.
Looking back, if not for the Great Depression, I wouldn’t have found the courage to lead, and to take charge of my life, my career. Post bottom of housing depression, life has changed a lot. Like the composite indexes of the economy, I have hit personal highs and lows, and with every low, found the energy to bounce back even higher.  So, Great Housing Depression, thank you for letting me climb on the rocks from the bottom, and for teaching acceptance. What acceptance? You might laugh at a Stepford mom who is balancing home, children, beauty and volunteering, but trust me, those women work hard and get very little gratitude. It is hard to look happy and presentable doing a thankless job. Thank you, for baking cookies for my child’s classroom, and for correcting their homework, filing paperwork, and fund raising to bring iPads in the classrooms, calling other parents to support/educate them about Measure S. Schools in my city are what they are because of your efforts, and teachers couldn’t have achieved this success with your day to day help. House prices are inflated because of the good schools. People who love their houses and schools work hard and earn money, rarely commit crimes. So, all thanks to you, we are the sixth most fashionable city in the world, and safest city too.
Thank you to my two girls, husband, parents and in-laws for loving, spoiling and pampering me, and letting me keep the prefix “only” against all titles that you gave me. It means a lot to me to be the only daughter, only daughter-in-law, only wife and only mother to my children – and yes, I understand all of you had other options! Thankful for the friends who have been like a family to me- living in a country far away from my family, their love and support matters a lot.. Thankful to the warm breakfast on the table before I leave to work in the cold and dark of the winter mornings.. Thankful to the smile that lights up on your face when you spot my car pull over… Thankful for picking up my call before three rings, it tells me you waited for the call even though it’s only been twelve hours that we talked last.. Thankful for my some friends that I have never met in real life, but have become an integral part of life..
Most of all, thankful to have that special person in my life for becoming my unicorn while I chase the rainbows..thank you, for believing in me, trusting my abilities and providing me vital insurance coverage of sorts when even I had stopped believing in me. 
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Chasing Happiness #33

The evening sun softly sifts through the blinds of my window, warming up my reading corner. Reminded gently of that time of the year when the sun sets early and dinners are a prelude to the romance with black and white words in imaginary worlds, I smile as I sprinkle the pumpkin spice in my coffee, the aroma transporting me into the season of baking, of nutmeg and cinnamon, of vanilla and orange zest. I love fall, and all the things that come with it. Only a few more days, and I don’t have to hit the snooze button on my alarm that blares in the dark early mornings, thanks for daylight savings.
It’s hard, the life of a working mother who wants the best of both worlds.  I want to have my career, my own identity, and my own life. But I want to park my car at that curb to see my child walk out of the school gate with a heavy backpack, and capture those uncensored emotions on her face. I want to greet Darcy with a smile on my face in the evenings. I want time to read, and write, and if possible, relax. I am a greedy woman. I want it all, and I will do anything to have it all. I won’t call them sacrifices, I will call them trade-offs.
Rolling back the clock reminds me of the discussion I am having with esteemed ladies of my generation about rolling back the clock and erasing the changes that nature bestowed on us, and stress enhanced. Every baby added to the brood gifted a little cushion between the bones and muscles. Every smile added the laugh lines. Every frown added wrinkled on the forehead. Happiness spilled through the eyes, and they called it crow’s landing. Silver dust shines through the crowning glory, like a fairy blessed me. I have submitted myself to nature. Life has been too busy, and too crazy for me, I add more than I can manage, and the tradeoff I did was to never pause in front of the mirror to notice those changes.
Those are signs that I have lived.
But it’s not easy, surviving a visit to the mall, or going to my hair dresser, and sometimes even going to my doctor. Bowing my head in front of nature and accepting the changes gracefully is apparently a sign of weakness. The visit to the mall ends with the lady at the cosmetic counter showing me the fine lines that my unmagnified mirror fails to bring to my attention. The visit to the hair dresser makes me feel incomplete just with a cut and dry, because I sinned, I show the silver on my hair, and I don’t color and highlight the way she wants to. Ear hurts, I tell my doctor, and distractedly he looks at my face, suggests that I visit his spa where they cater to all needs (I changed the doctor, that’s a different story). I am sorry, but I will offend all of your sensibilities by not paralyzing the muscles on my face and chemically altering the color of my hair just to form an illusion about a youth that is on the last lap. I wish I could tell all these people, there is a magic mirror on my wall too, that tells me that there is a Princess in the land, much fairer than the queen, and the queen refuses to be her rival.
I don’t understand this obsession about restoring self, and immortalizing self physically. One of my friends asked “what would you leave behind?”  She is a dentist, so I joked and said the teeth that you pulled out.  Teeth can’t even be cremated, so I am right. As for me, I have a daughter who looks like me, and another one that is me. Between both of them, I am immortalized. Other than that, I contribute to the society in my own little ways. That little strip mall, that chain store, that office where they build new technology, and most of all that building where the rocket scientists work- I have majorly contributed in building them-renovating them, and hopefully in the next thirty years that I plan to be active, my legacy will include a landmark building. But right now, as I struggle in the middle, and try to rise like a phoenix out of the ashes of the great housing depression, I refuse to make the lines on my face a priority in my life.
Don’t mistake me. I don’t roam around with armpit full of hair, and ugly clothes, mismatched shoes. I do take care of myself and shine and sparkle, fill my closet with a thousand beautiful things that I will never need in this lifetime, and the shoe rack is my Achilles heel. On Sunday mornings when the Stepford ladies are busy baking breakfast for their families, I sweat under the Smith machine of our gym. I do wear sunscreen and slap on some lipstick before I get out of the door. What I don’t want to do is live in an illusion that the fountain of youth can be restored. I am proud of who I was, who I have become, and who I will be. Like my mother (and also mother-in-law), with her grey hair, I might look beautiful too.
All this talk about rolling clocks brings my attention to another clock of sorts, the biological clock. It’s not easy being a middle aged woman who is on her last lap of fertility. Don’t say ouch, but it is true. No matter how much you cover your grey, at thirty-six, the chances of having a healthy baby are significantly lower than when you were thirty. But still, there is one more shot at having a healthy baby till a woman hits forty, and then menopause. Surprisingly everyone in my family is taking a second chance, and in some cases a third chance this year. There is enough pressure on me to give it a try too, especially from my grandmother who thinks my life is incomplete without a baby boy- I should experience the pains of motherhood also, she says, not just the pleasures. I tell her I am done, but I don’t know if I am done. I might be done having babies physically, but emotionally there is still some love left to share. Someone special might fill that space one fine day, and at this point I am pretty much open to all adoption, foster parenting, or even mentoring.
But first, let me clear off the items on the checklist for now. The list is too long, and the day is too short!

Chasing Happiness #32

A week after we moved in together, we drove up to San Francisco from South Bay, and when I saw those houses lining up the hill covered in fog, I turned to my husband and said, that is how our house should be. A house up the hills, every room with a view. It is every girl’s dream, of four walls and a roof, of windows and doors, but mine were slightly different. What was metaphorical for sheltered life for others was figurative for me, four walls were four walls made of steel and stucco, covered in gypsum board. Ever since I enrolled into Architecture and drew the first line for the imaginary project, I have been imagining my own dream.
But life happens. Priorities changed. A pregnant woman couldn’t drive up and down the hill, a young mother couldn’t live far away from the freeways and train lines, a mature woman should know better than buying a house without a good school district. We bought a dream of happiness and promised to morph into Mr.Truman and Mrs.Stepford so that we could live happily ever after with our piano playing, math master mini-mes. But, keeping up with our legendary record of moving every two years, we grew restless after the first two years. I promised myself, it won’t happen this time, I will put pictures on the wall, create memories in the house so that it becomes my time capsule that I will always want to preserve. That was last year, when I decided to be ‘home for the holidays’.
A year later, the restlessness has found feet and a mind of its own, and the low interest rates aren’t helping either. It seems logical, to have another home for the holidays, or after the holidays, or sometimes in the future. We talked. It’s a simple life we have. We talk, and we talk about everything in our hearts and minds. We decided that we will move. Upgrade or downgrade were the only two options. We were not sure which direction to take, and the teenage drama queen wasn’t any help either when she didn’t lift her head from a book she was reading and announced it didn’t matter as long as she didn’t move into an apartment because apartments were crappy. Apparently her friends told her that, because she was too young to remember her life in the apartment.
MLS listing scans told a different story, inventories in my land have reached their lowest in the past five years, and though that time people questioned our timing to buy during the ‘great housing depression’, inventory was at its highest then, and when I looked for a cute little house for my cute little family in a cute little neighborhood, a thousand options came up. It was a bitter sweet moment, to know that you timed it well then, and to know that now might not be a great time. This time it was not the schools that I wanted, and it was not the proximity to the freeways either. I wanted a house of my dreams. A lot that was three times bigger than the house, a lake and a trail for a morning run, a beach or a mountain to gaze at, and living in Orange County, the possibilities are endless.
There it was, my dream house.
Breathtaking views- Check.
Historic/ Character- Check.
Artistically and aesthetically done outdoor hardscape/ landscape- check.
Architectural features inside with state of the art amenities- check.
If the pictures were anything to go by, between the views of canyon and mountain and valleys, I sold my soul to that little cottage with dark hardwood floors and sunlit walls.
Mumtaz Mahal had found her Taj Mahal, and Shahjahan obliged, drove her up the hill, over the cliff and away from civilization where the wide toll road turned into a street made of mud and gravel after cautioning us to turn on daylight headlights. Sandbags lined the houses because the first drop of rain had dropped from the California sky that afternoon. Turkeys, goats and roosters roamed freely in the yards, and as we went up and down as we were strapped to a car ride in Disneyland, we finally arrived at our destination. The house that I, as an Architect would be proud to showcase and had my sold my soul to, based on MLS pictures was at the corner, but the children refused to get down from the car. No one said a word till we got there, because everyone was being very sensitive about the other person’s feelings.  
I didn’t have tears in my eyes, neither did I tell anyone that they were not being supportive. I had my own list of fears and concerns that I kept to myself. The toll road would add up to the expenses. A quick walk to Starbucks would take more than an hour. We couldn’t pull the car in and out of the garage every few hours to go to work, run scheduled pick-ups and drop offs and extra-curricular activities. Dinners out will have to depend on the season and driver’s mood, because rain would lock us down, and so will bad mood. It will be a different life that none of us could adjust to. We won’t own the house, the house will own us. We drove back, and never was I so happy to return to civilization, the safest city and the sixth best place to live. If could, I would hug my San Simeon and say, you are home, really-truly.
That doesn’t mean I won’t scan MLS listings anymore.
A house on a hill awaits, but the hill won’t be that high, that’s all.
Talking about dream homes, this year I built a house. Architect mommy had always felt that only commoners who bought ugly houses with great rooms that don’t heat and cool efficiently gave their children ugly store bought doll houses. I promised myself that I would custom build a dollhouse for my girls. But when I had money, I didn’t have the time, and when I had time, I didn’t have the drive. This year my younger one turns six, and from what I observe around me, she is one of the last six year old girls who still buys posing dolls with hair that can be styled, and plays with them building stories.
One afternoon, when I saw the dollhouse in pastels at Costco, I took a deep breath, and loaded that box in the cart. From the moment that we loaded it into the cart to the time I finished building it, she sat there, with two screw drivers in her hand, asking me “are you done?” every five minutes, without fail. I burned midnight oil, balancing work-scheduled pickups along on a Monday. But when it was done, the happiness on her face, the excitement with which she brought all her dolls downstairs and introduced them to the new house made it all worthwhile. It would matter to me that it’s not unique, but for the person I assembled it for, it was very special.
The “Chateaux” I assembled was a stark reminder of the life I lead. It wouldn’t matter that the builder has passed the same plan through the photocopier to reduce and enlarge so that it brought in maximum gains to him, but inside each one of that house was a unique family, building its own memories. Looking at the dollhouse my mother shared my childhood memories with my daughters, of how they got a local carpenter get some plywood nailed and glued together to look like rooms for dolls, and how I expressed my imagination by coloring them, and adding on to them with the cardboard covers of my used notebooks. “What about you?” asked my daughters, wanting know what kind of dollhouse did their grandmother have for her dolls of Sandalwood. “We didn’t have dollhouses”, said my mother, “We had huge backyards, and we were allowed to play till sun down”.
 I smiled, and told them to go play with their dollhouse, thinking about the people in my city who owned houses that looked just like my daughter’s dollhouse.

Chasing Happiness #31

It’s a ritual. On the first day of school, no matter how tightly scheduled our work commitments are, we always take the morning off to drop off the kids to school and go for a coffee date. After the coffee date, we let life take over, and absorb our senses in the drowning noises of the mundane life, waking up at the alarm, and sleeping just enough to survive the next day on three cups of caffeine. It’s called work life balance, but I like to call it mundane, because I strongly feel that my life is capable of magnificent. Loving spouse, pretty and intelligent children, and a house have redefined and refined me, but haven’t completed me.

There is more to me that I have met already.
My loneliness and I have a date on the first cold and windy morning of fall. First we congratulate each other on surviving another summer. We celebrate the warmth of fuzzy jackets and tall boots, Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Panettones with it. “They drive me away from their lives, and you want to reunite with me, warms my heart, this love”, she says. “They drive me into your arms, it suffocates me, too much love, too much warmth, I love the ice cold side of my heart”, I say.

I do, I do love my ice cold side. A cold heart that stops me from fine tuning my work in those two bonus hours I scored that day. A cold heart that stops me from setting a lunch date with husband, or a girl friend. A cold heart that stops me from channeling the inner domestic goddess to whip out a batch of snacks to wait on the counter for the children coming back from school. A cold heart that stops me from massacring those ants creeping up the backyard concrete like a brown band of soldiers. A cold heart that stops my thoughts, my guilt. A cold heart that wants me to sit on that chair facing the window and just stare without thinking of buying bird food because I spotted a dove that visits my backyard, or get tricked into the guilt of doing something that others would appreciate and reward me with their happiness.

Speaking of happiness, Chasing Happiness began this January, but as seasons rolled, the original goal was revised and revisited. With fall comes a new pact, to redefine happiness with a quote from philosopher Immanuel Kant :

Rules for Happiness: something to do, someone to love, something to hope for.”        
Rule #1: Something to do.

Oh, there is a lot to do. I live a blessed life where the list grows as the love grows. There is always something that’s not done, there is always something that needs to be done, now. I should edit my novel, write my blog, and contribute to that real estate blog I am writing. I should also read a novel while I cheer on the children who kick and punch. I should listen to Lang Lang, but before I should listen to R1’s piece that she wants me to critique. An untrained ear is a better critique than the one who knows the note, she says. Thankfully I don’t take it as an insult and add learning to identify notes as they are played to the long list. I should cook dinner, I should try that new restaurant, I should try a new drink with unidentified beautiful things floating in it, and I should organize more.

But before that, I should go to work on time, ensure that I am the star I am used to be, be punctual at all scheduled pick-ups of the day, and try to eat healthy. Something to do? I have a lot to do, and I didn’t even add scan through pictures of friends of friends on Facebook, go through random articles posted by my friends, and of course worry about the inflation being brought with QE3, rising cost of milk and bread, and gas. The other day, a friend shared a movie clip where a woman and child sit isolated in a different room of the house, and based on the aroma coming from the kitchen, try to identify the food that was cooked. One day I want to make something so beautiful. That would start a list of unrealistic expectations though.
Rule #2: Someone to love

Thankfully I am past my teenage years where I had to wait for somebody to love. At this stage of life, I know love is an emotion just like sorrow, and it can be shared with anyone and everyone. I love my husband, I love my children, I love my parents, I love my distant uncle whom I haven’t met since childhood, and that second removed cousin whom I haven’t met, and all my friends.  Sometimes I fall in love with the feeling of holding a baby in my arms, and I pick up my neighbor’s baby. Sometimes I fall in love with a furry cat, and I run my fingers through one of my daughter’s furry toys. Sometimes I fall in love with the man who provides me healthy insurance while I liberate myself from cubicle slavery, manages the mornings with my children while I report to work when the phones don’t ring and emails don’t pop, loves me and my many moods unconditionally and during those times I just call the person I am married to, and say I love you.

Rule #3: Something to hope for

I am an eternal optimist. Somebody sold me a promise of hope and change four years ago, and I gladly believed. I don’t hope to lose ten pounds, or to have better children or to have a better relation with my spouse because that’s not something that you hope for- that’s something you work for. Years ago, as an Architecture student, I read a book on the details of Twin Towers in New York. After we got married, I told my husband that before we go to those snowy places to sing our own Bollywood song freezing in chiffon saris, I want to visit Twin Towers. He said it’s not going anywhere, neither are we. We couldn’t go to where it was then, and haven’t been to where it stood now. I hope for a future where hopes like those aren’t shattered. I hope life stays beautiful, and the world too, for me and my children, and the generations to come.

There! I have a lots to do, lot of people to love and lots of hopes in life. Thoughts like these bring lots of happiness to the ice cold heart that wants to curl up in a corner of a dark room in the name of creativity and warm it up. There is more to me, but there is more around me right now. Let me go talk to the neighbor, pick up my children, reply to the work-related emails, enjoy a lunch date with my husband and continue to steal moments on my smart phone to read the latest smut, and check Facebook pictures of the perfect lives of others, and chat with my mother to know the latest happenings in the family, yes, that includes every little news about the second removed cousin that I haven’t yet met.

My loneliness is calling me, my chaos has drowned me.
Silence calls, but white noise sends a loud and clear signal to report.


Chasing Happiness #30

Come tomorrow both of my girls will be in school, one in seventh grade, and the other in first grade. Like all the mothers, I am in shock and awe at the speed of their growth. Like all mothers, my heart misses a beat when they wave me bye and disappear among friends. I made it easier on me, wrote a thousand words to sum up my emotions about this transition. I wrote a letter to my daughter.
Guess what! I got a response. The generation that texts in ten characters or less managed to dish out a little less than thousand words. She has it on her blog, but I am not prepared to connect our blogospaces just yet. Without intruding into her space, I am posting the contents of her blog here, with all due copyright mentions.
Dear Mom and Dad, 
Seventh grader means one step away from the top of the school, and two from high school.

All my friends have already mastered the art of rolling their eyes and flipping their straightened hair, while they wave good-bye with their perfectly manicured fingers, and smile with their heavily glossed lips. So I think this year, a LOT of my friends are actually going to wave good-bye to their parents. (This will be the first time in the past seven years that their kids actually turned their head in their direction!) Please don’t expect to turn my head, flip my hair and wave you bye with a perfect smile on my face, because chances are I’ll fishtail braid my hair that I forgot to diffuse, and my nailpolish is chipped because I forgot to coat it after the last Sunday’s manicure.

I’m no Greg Heffley, who turns a tomato red when his mom says goodbye to him. But don’t expect me to be a pink pony either, who will jump up and down, and say “Bye Mommy! I’ll miss you.” I understand that you will cry on the first day of school, what with keeping up with the family tradition of crying for every new step the kid takes. Get over it! It’s just the next grade. They would have passed me even if I got all C’s on my report card, and I brought home a perfect report card, star studded CST result, which proves I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself in seventh grade.

Let’s not forget about you Daddy. One moment, you tell me that I can be a mathematician, and the next moment you go gaga over how much I have grown from my diaper and nursery rhyme days. I’m neither old enough to think about my career in math, nor baby enough to open my Cat in the Hat book with you. Let’s make a deal this year. I’ll help you memorize the hottest and coolest song of 2012 ( I still can’t believe you don’t know who Liam Payne is!), and you help me memorize my theorems in Algebra 1 and 2.

Aren’t I thankful you guys are too busy to volunteer in my classroom? It’s tiring to keep up my act of a perfect child when you are there following my every step. Thank you for not being that helicopter mom who emails the teacher a hundred times just to see if I have turned in my assignments on time. I might forget on Day One, maybe even on Day Two, but I’ll fix it before it gets anywhere NEAR the Aeries Parent Portal. Trust me. Been there, done that, and made it into Principal’s Honor Roll twice. Proves I must be better than a lot of other kids ( No offense to my friends who submit their assignments on time!)

Don’t worry, I won’t hide a makeup kit in my locker (It’s overflowing with clothes and shoes I innocently forget to bring home.) And please don’t worry, I’m not going to search for anything inappropriate on my laptop, or my engraved Itouch which discharges, and resets itself to the year you were born. You know me, I can barely clean up my room, let alone the history on my computer. It’s still laziness, but makes your job a WHOLE lot easier.

I forbid you from being my friend. Thankfully I have a lot of friends whom I can talk to about my teenage crisis. We love the hormonal drama and mood swings. We don’t want you to lecture us about how it’s a normal part of growing up. It is special for us, and we would like it to remain special. But I love coming crying into your arms once in a while and hearing that it will be okay.

Going to seventh grade is a big change for me. More privileges, more responsibilities, and more work. Maybe that would translate into more slacking, and more irresponsible behavior, but hey, I talked to both of my grandmothers today. Surprise, surprise! My perfect parents were not at all perfect children. And you turned out just fine. I’m sure I’ll do too. Let me steer my own ship, but if I get lost in the fog, beam me from the lighthouse.

Till next year,
Copyright © Rea Rajesh Josh

I got another letter from her sister, and then was asked where her letter was. Oh baby! Mommy didn’t write you a letter. Even if mommy wrote one, she wouldn’t share it with you just yet. You don’t have to know that mommy pushed you a year ahead (she pushed your sister a year ahead too, but then your sister actually fits in physically), and now it worries that your feet don’t touch the ground when you sit on your seat, and you are smaller that most of the kids in your class, not just younger. But you know what, mommy will seal her worries in her heart and never let them out. You just go and make mommy proud without any of her words of wisdom.
May the force be with (both of) you!



Chasing Happiness #29

Dear daughter,

It’s a good fifteen days before the Almanac announces a curtain call on Summer of 2012, but back to school nights and registration mornings unofficially dictate that we should stop hiking up the mountains, waddling in the pools, walk barefoot in the golden sand and embrace academic life. It’s always a bitter sweet moment to send you girls to school come September. On one hand, I am happy that I can work peacefully, without the white noise that you guys provided, and on the other I will miss those erratic piano beats, crazy words that were exchanged between you sisters, and your loud music that certainly isn’t my taste.

Expectations change with every passing year. This year will be no different. I will expect you to be honest, truthful and responsible also. But I don’t expect you to be perfect, neither do your teachers.

Please don’t study. I know the pressure you are under where each one of your friend is following the rote routine to master the textbook aiming for a hundred percent during testing. You don’t have to get a hundred percent if that’s what it takes going forward. Understand the subject. Learn it. If you are learning about Greece, you don’t have master the textbook to understand the subject. Read along with the teacher when she teaches the class. Pick up a historical fiction that outlines the syllabus you have. Read and enjoy the different perspective of the same subject laced with dialogues, and grandeur, and some imagination. Watch a movie. Imagine yourself how it must have been. How Caesar must have been as a person. How life must have been during those times. His mundane, his magnificent, and his thoughts as he ruled.

Realize that your textbook is a guideline of what people your age should know about – not the entirety of what you should know. Your grandfather wrote textbooks. Your grandmother is working on one right now. Ask them, and they will tell you the process of how textbooks are written. How they tread the path of history, carefully outlining what can be safely discussed and understood in a classroom full of students with diverse backgrounds and varying levels of intellect. Don’t let an outline define history to you. There are more people than the listed ones in the textbooks any given time. Their roles were equally crucial in changing the course of time. Just because it is controversial, you cannot deny yourself the pleasure of knowing them.

We have never forced culture or religion on you. There are absolutely no limitations on you when it comes to expressing yourself. You have the freedom to wear any color, any design, and any brand as long as it adheres to the policy imposed by the school and general decency. Don’t go by what your friends wear, don’t go by what your friends think of what you wear. Be yourself, be the way you like yourself to be. Those who aim to please others will never succeed, even Vera Wang has her detractors. When you look at yourself in the mirror (that is if you have time before you dash off the door half asleep!) slap on that smile. Your smile is the only accessory that I never want you to lose in some locker in the school hallway. Everything else with a dollar value can be replaced.

Please don’t gossip. I don’t want to know who the friend of a friend likes. I don’t want to know about your friend’s father who punishes her if she misses the grade. Tell me about you, yourself, and your own issues. Talk to me, always. I want to know about your likings, your confusions and your time management issues. I want to know what troubles you. I want to know what affects your performance. I want to know how I can make life better for you. If the friend is affecting or influencing your life, I need to know. But if your friend is expressing herself in ways that you don’t approve, please don’t talk to me about her. Like you, she is trying to find herself, and her method might not be the same as yours. Respect that, and let her paint her nails black, and get streaks of blue in her hair without judging her in front of others.

You are an inch taller than me now, and strangers ask us if we are sisters. But let’s not trick ourselves into being each others friends. I will never be your friend. There is nothing wrong being your mother. Your grandmother and I always had, and still have a very open relation where she knows about everything that happens in my life including news about what pissed me off that day. We never had to pretend that we were friends before we started sharing everything with each other. It was an easy transition, to show her how I danced to a certain song in Kindergarten to how I danced for a certain hit number during my teenage years. Never a shame to be her daughter, never in need of a sham called friendship. Let’s take pride in being mother and daughter.

Manage. Please learn to manage now. It’s not easy to think about life sciences and cell division when you are lost in Aria, but that’s how life is, and always will be. Lose yourself in music. I like seeing you lost, your eyes closed and fingers flowing smoothly over the piano keys, half of your nail polish chipped, and your hair tied in a bun. It overwhelms me emotionally to see you like that sometimes. It scares me also. This thing called life is cruel. Even if you choose to play piano for the rest of your life, you will have to learn to manage your time, and prioritize your commitments. School teaches you that art, and if you submit yourself completely, you might even master the art before you graduate!

Please be alone. Every day. Even if it is for ten minutes. Without music running in the background. Without talking to a friend or texting one. Without reading. Without playing with your sister. Connect with yourself. I had too much energy to do that when I was your age, but when I finally said hello to myself in my thirties, I wondered where I was all those days, and why didn’t I break the ice before. Don’t let that happen to you. Close your eyes, and lose yourself every night before you sleep. Dream. Where I don’t matter, your sister doesn’t, and your father doesn’t.

Don’t compare yourself with anyone. You are far too precious to be compared with anyone else. I like you the way you are. Your grades, your actions, and your thoughts- set higher goals for all as you want them to be, but not to be better than someone. I don’t care for anyone else in the world. I am too self centered that way. Other than you and your sister, no other kid matters to me. If you have a perfect grade point average in your view, that is perfect enough for me. I don’t have to know what the other 98% have. I never will want to. Just you, your view of perfection, and your score against it. That should be the ultimate comparison.

Another small promise while we are running a laundry list, please don’t talk about what you want to be when you grow up. Growing up is fun, let’s focus on that. If you want to take up culinary arts as an elective, go ahead. Don’t think of how it looks on a college application. If you want to take up computer sciences, do so because you are interested. Not to please your father. He is proud of you and loves you the same whether you write a novel, or write a cryptic code. Same applies to college. At the right moment, you will know what you want to be. We will support you with all our hearts (and bank balance) to help you achieve what you want to. It can be anything from making a movie to making upma on top chef. Put your heart in and succeed. Your dream and your future are far more important than our bragging rights.

At your age, I know it is hard to read something that was not said within one-hundred-forty characters. But I still love my thousand words, and one day you will too. A thousand more for a different moment, let me conclude now, wishing you and your sister the best for the coming academic year. As usual, your father and I will sit at a local Starbucks after dropping you off to school, my eyes still wet because I obviously shed some tears when you waved bye and disappeared among your friends, not once looking back. It’s even harder this year, your little sister going into a classroom where her feet don’t touch the ground if she sits on her seat. But I will find my strength, immerse myself in work till both of you come home with colorful stories about your new teachers, new friends, and new classrooms.

It amazes me, the way you have grown and matured every passing year, first day of school being a reference record of the speed of those changes. Wishing you the best for the academic year..


Mom (and Dad because I know it takes at least two to raise a child in this house)


Chasing Happiness #28

“Don’t talk to strangers” “Don’t accept packets from strangers”, my mother told me as I prepared for the journey to begin my life with a man I had married eight months ago, still a stranger to me in few ways. My father slipped a hundred dollars into my purse and said “Don’t buy shoes in Singapore. You might need this money for the cab ride home if your husband cannot pick you up”. With a suitcase full of clothes, a hundred dollars, passport and dependent visa, I boarded a plane to San Francisco two days after giving my last exam to finish my Architecture Degree. It was so hard to live in a world away from him after I got married, but it was even hard to leave the world I had lived in when the moment came.
That’s right, thirteen years ago, young me came to this country to live with a man I didn’t meet eight months after marriage. The last images we had of each other in our minds were of our weddings, dressed in our finery, and the moment that we said good bye to each other with a promise to see each other, soon. Soon wasn’t soon enough, and during that time the images stored in the heart faded, memories grew stronger. It was a busy life, wrapping up all my work, finishing up assignments, writing a thesis, interning at a place that felt like a jail. But we wrote letters when we had time, sent telepathic messages when we didn’t have time, and let the clouds moving across the Pacific say the unsaid. He would call me every day, we would report everything about everything, and spend hours listening to each other breathe. Looking back, I think I know why we don’t have a Mercedes in that garage of ours.

Here is something I wrote on the eve of our “domestic partnership”. Those were the days where the desire to hold each other and listen to our hearts beat in unison mattered more than anything else in the whole world.

“I am mid-air.. Somewhere between San Francisco and Singapore. Miles away from those who were my family, and miles away from the guy who will start a family with me.” “As I prepare to land amidst the fog of the city and of the mind, I am not sure, if this is the place I want to call home. I hope, and I silently pray for strength at all times, good or bad.”  “As we landed, the Customs official asked me if I had anything to declare. I almost said love and desire, but not to you”.

That day when I landed I didn’t know what to expect from the life I was going to live, but two Degrees, two houses, two kids, three cars and six California zip codes later I don’t know what the worry was about. A few miles from where I live, they say dreams come true. I say Amen, mine have, of a wonderful career, beautiful children, flip worthy houses and a loving husband. Life is still in transition, but my happiness needs to be documented today. I know I talk about the mundane, about the chaos that surrounds me, but I am sure I would be complaining the lack of if not the overdose of.

Today is no different, a blanket of chaos surrounds me, work needs to be brought to a phase where the client can be billed, daughter needs to be prepped for the picture day, and the registration for the next grade, and a birthday party at the most claustrophobic place on the face of earth (Chuck-e-cheese) awaits in the evening. I haven’t forgotten, that mandatory call to my mother once withing every twenty four hours needs to be made. Thirteen years, I have kept that promise. Sometimes she nags me for gaining some weight, not working a novel I told her I would, and sometimes she says I am jealous of the chaos that surrounds you, and sometimes she proudly declares that she is so glad she is over all this mess, and can travel every quarter without having to worry about the multiple schedules.

I don’t even know if I will stay awake till the stroke of midnight to clink the glasses and kiss my husband a very happy anniversary and congratulate him on a successful domestic partnership. That fleeting moment in the morning while we divided and conquered the children and chores might end up being celebration enough if circumstances demand it. Of late that’s how we find our Friday romance. The little café in Paris still awaits for me with the best of its Cappuccino, but I have to wait till the hair grays some more, pocket greens some more. I am sure when it happens, it will be memorable. 


Till then, we will share a drink at Starbucks at the happiest place on earth while the kids take a roller coaster ride with their favorite Disney characters. Happiness today will be leading a life where there is nothing to regret, plenty to celebrate.


Chasing Happiness #27

Worry not Indian men! You will not be bombarded with permanent penis enlargement (guaranteed) advertisements in your Yahoo mail box anymore. Times have changed. Technology has evolved. Knowledge and science have empowered us in seeking out of the box solutions. Also, the newer generation of Indian women has learned to adapt to circumstances. They have collectively stopped the movement that their mothers started and the revolution their young aunts and sisters started, and have started a new evolution.
Evolving as the fairest and tightest maidens ready to do anything for their man’s pleasure.
They have spent hours and hours studying a tongue and groove joint, and have decided that there is no point wasting time trying to sculpting the tongue, it’s time to alter the groove. Behold ladies, in India for the first time, vaginal tightening gel to ‘empower you’ (at least according to some Bollywood actress that you didn’t know existed so far). It certainly has empowered her – after shedding her clothes in movies that no one heard about, she is a mother of twins now, and has become an overnight internet celebrity among people who want to know WHO endorses such products.
This morning, I mentioned to dear Darcy that there is a new product in the market to tighten the vagina. He continued sipping his coffee, poker faced thinking this was bait for a heated feminist discussion that I had already rehearsed in my mind. Just the day before, I had given someone a piece of my mind when she said the girls should also stop dressing up provocatively and hitting the streets in the midnight where bad men with bad intentions lurk. This is almost the same as calling for a ban on guns because guns kill people, and calling a ban on spoons because they make you fat. Just because some men didn’t get the value based education from the women in their family to respect other women, all women shouldn’t turn into their ideal women fearing their wrath.
Might be an internet joke to rile up the feminists who are still not done discussing the vaginal fairness cream said dear Darcy, and I had to prove it to him that I was right. A quick internet search brought up an advertisement for 18 Again. The scene opens with a married woman bringing her husband’s lunch box while he is all dressed up to go to work, and is chatting with the other family members that includes grandparents, parents and teenage siblings. For a minute I thought Darcy was right, and this was a prank. But lo and behold, I feel like a virgin.. the woman starts singing, pouting-preening-seducing her man while the family watches intrigued, happy to be the part of the show, recording them, nodding appreciatively.
I didn’t see a mother-in-law (the old couple is the grandparents and the feeling like a virgin is too young to have teenage boys making her MMS) anywhere, probably she would have told the woman to let the man go to work. Seduction Salsa can wait for a few hours. What is it with Indian women and the dirty dancing when the husband is ready to go to work? Even the vaginal fairness woman hides her husband’s keys to stop him from going to work. How do these ladies plan to pay for all the vaginal tightening and brightening if the husband is home during working hours? This EMI generation clearly thinks and lives in the moment! Anyway, the couple danced around the very traditional South Indian house while the family cheered on, and as usual, when it was time to kiss a flower popped out of nowhere keeping up with Indian tradition of not kissing on screen. End of the advertisement, the grandmother logs on to the website probably to check the ingredients and side effects, cross effects with her medication before ordering one for herself.
It’s not like rest of the world is not tightening and brightening. They are doing all that (China seems to have a whole range of tightening products), and much more, they even have home repair kit for artificial virginity. I am not making this up at all! Check out Jezebel! The link to the product doesn’t work anymore, I hope the company went underwater too. Indian women haven’t given much thought about the hymen, but once they are done with this fair and lovely fad, that will be the logical next step for them. When that happens, prepare to watch the advertisements at prime time with your family!
A fair and lovely daughter comes home after a long day at work, worried. Mother asks her, what is it and she lowers her gaze. Mother gives an understanding look, walks to her closet and brings a repair your hymen kit. The daughter smiles, disappears into her room. The next morning, arranged marriage party comes to visit her, she smiles, he smiles, and they all smile, grandmother gives the mother an understanding smile, and the mother gives an understanding smile to the daughter, the wedding date is fixed. Next shot the girl is a bride, and as she leaves with her husband, she hugs her mother and says thank you ma. Father looks appreciatively.
Darcy reminds me gently that I should stop watching such advertisements, because iPad history saves all of them, and suggests videos based on my previous views. Sigh. Yes, I will erase it off my history, and get back to my work-workout-vacation life where work is always a work in progress, workout is a thirty minute ritual, and vacation is sweaty children biking on the streets without worrying about darkening their shade of brown. By next week I wouldn’t even remember anything about this, but it hurts to see these young ladies take a step back while their predecessors struggled to bring them twenty steps forward giving equal rights and opportunities and freedom to express themselves.
I feel like a virgin.. on a different level!
Anyway, for those who want to spend their afternoon singing I feel like a virgin..HERE!

Edited to add this link given by Captain:
Enjoy! My thoughts exactly was my response..