Red roses, candlelight dinners, sweet murmurings of ‘ I love you’. These dreamy ideas of romance, hyped in mushy films, glorified in glossy magazines, compel and convert the sanest, most pragmatic amongst us into believers of love of the commercial kind.

The most sensible among us give in to expressing love in floral terms, in sugary bites and in soft, mellow light that releases the invisible love hearts that cartoon characters readily radiate.
It is a heady combination, after all; imagine the fragrance of roses, the high sugar levels after devouring the chocolates and the dim lighting that gives everyone a luminous halo making them more appealing than they actually are. It is a combination that takes over the senses and releases ‘those’ hormones. Under the influence of this intoxicating cocktail of clichéd notions of romance, how can a girl not fall in love in a guy? Or the other way around.

No wonder card-makers and other smart people who have diagnosed this weakness in the heart are laughing all the way to the bank! No wonder, Rose Days and Éclair days were made and are still flourishing. Yes, it is that time of the year again. Valentine’s day is upon us, causing nervous anticipation and palpitations for some of us. In the urban world, it is hard to escape the messages leaping out enticing, inviting and tempting one to go ahead and indulge your loved one. With all this brainwashing, the most rational among us women cannot help getting hypnotized into starry-eyed expectations.

WILL HE OR WON’T HE? Is the question…

As Valentine’s Day nears, the question popping into our heads is WILL HE OR WONT HE…send me flowers, buy me chocolates, take me out to somewhere romantic? Will he get me the perfume I really want? That dress I saw in the shop window? At least something heart-shaped that spells out his love.

Well, what if he doesn’t bring you any of these lovey-dovey tokens of affection? What if he forgets that it’s Valentine Day? Or worse what if he doesn’t even know what the fuss is all about? What if this ‘unromantic’ man has no idea of what the world expects of him? What if he scores zero out of ten when it comes to bringing home a bouquet of flowers or the ‘right’ present. Or remembering days of the romantic kind. Sounds a little familiar?

Is this ‘unromantic’ man, the man you love?

Are you going to write off your man as a loser in the love stakes?

But, let’s take a closer look at him.

Ask yourself, when you are ill in bed, does he bring you a hot cup of tea or warm soup? Does he also hand you your medicine to pull yourself together? Does he nurse you back to health?

Ask yourself, when you are tired and worn out, is he the first one to run out and get a takeaway meal without you asking for it? Or better still, does he take over the kitchen and rustle up a comforting meal?

Ask yourself, has he has seen you in the worst possible physical state in the brightest of lights? On a bad hair day with greasy locks, grey strands? On a low day complete with zits, puffy eyes, and dark circles? On a rotten mood day when you are ready to explode? Has he looked at you completely unaffected and with affection?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, it’s time you redefined the meaning of romance… for yourself.

If you answered YES to any of these questions, you would know the difference between being IN LOVE and LOVING somebody.

To see someone with all their inadequacies and put up with their idiosyncrasies, still loving them for what they are, is ROMANCE isn’t it? Charming little gestures in everyday life can be romantic, can’t they?

And it applies to us ladies too doesn’t it?

You, yourself may not be the kind of girl who goes for mush, fluff, pink and all things girlie.

What if you your ideas of romance are yellow lilies, nibbles of cheese and lounging on the grass in the bright sun? What if perfume gives you a headache and you’d rather eat in bright cheerful lights where you can see what you are eating? Does that make you less romantic?

This Valentine’s Day when everyone is going overboard to buy heart shaped balloons, diamonds and planning a cozy, intimate weekend away…take a few minutes to really dwell on your ‘unromantic man’ and your life with him.

Valentines day is one day when your man will be put under the spotlight and his skills at expressing his love will be put to the test. You may give him hints to do what everyone does, you may force him to change himself and he may even reluctantly do what everyone is doing, just for you. But at heart you know that he doesn’t really believe in any of these ‘conventional’ displays of affection. He may not be able to verbally express himself, he may not afford the presents that the world expects him to splurge on, but his actions in everyday life may the proof that you really need of his love.

So, this Valentines Day, what do you do when you find yourself with an ‘unromantic’ man?

Well, this day may be the perfect day to look back at all the remaining 364 days of the year with your man. Why not look at every single thing that your man has done for you that went well beyond flowers and chocolates?

It may be the perfect day to scratch the surface and recognize ‘love’ for what it truly is.

This Valentines Day, don’t be disheartened when your ‘unromantic’ man is at his unromantic best. Cheer yourself with the reminders that while other people celebrate their love on just ONE day; you really revel in love every single day of the year. Love-that is known and felt by you. Romance that is spelt differently by you.

Why should media, business, marketing and showbiz dictate the terms of romance and love for you?

And if you really, desperately want to celebrate Valentine’s Day, but don’t want to depend on your ‘unromantic’ man…do it yourself!

If you crave the fancy chocolates, why not buy some yourself and surprise him? Why wait for Valentine’s Day to eat chocolates, anyway?

If you really want that dress, why not go shopping yourself, try it out and then buy it for yourself. At least that way you get exactly what you want and something that definitely fits you. If you really want a candlelit dinner, why not just light 2 candles at dinner after the children are in bed and order a nice home delivery? As for the heart shaped balloons, the lesser said the better. As everyone knows, in 2 days time, they will POP.



019-cartoon-foods-free-vector-imagesLiving in a hostel was all about being on a budget. Of spending within limits, of finding the cheap shops, eating joints and bargain shopping. Our favourite eating places were the restaurants around the hostel. Eat-all-you-can ones were high on the list. These are some of our much-loved hangouts, in no particular order:

  • SHIVALA : That I actually remembered this name is testimony to the fact that this Udipi restaurant was very popular amongst us. It had all our favourite South Indian delights plus fruit juices of all kinds including Ganga- Yamuna [orange and mosambi combination]. We never wasted anything and had absolutely no qualms about sharing from one plate, tearing and sharing a common dosa, sipping from a communal glass and finishing off each other’s leftovers!
  • WAIKIKI: When we craved Chinese food [which was often], this was where we headed. In the rainy season, watching the rain and sipping hot sweet corn chicken soup with plenty of soy sauce was simply divine. One day, the guy charged us extra because we had helped ourselves to too much soy sauce. They also had Parsi specialities of all kinds. How can I forget the Frankies- to die for especially the mutton one.
  • KAMATS: This was just next-door and our veggie friends went there while we went to Waikiki. A hot favourite was their tomato omlette- a besan pancake with tomatoes! Oh and their cold coffee with ice cream and their thali. The list goes on……….
  • MONGINIS : to grab a quick slice of cake or a humungous black forest pastry, this was our dessert place. So also was the ‘halwai’ in Bora bazaar…. cannot remember the name.
  • BHAT THALI: this was the eat-all you–can, unlimited thali place. For the princely sum of Rs 30, you could eat all you could stuff and scoff, without bursting. Rajasthani/ Gujarati food- a full thali experience, with waiters who came in rotation murmuring ‘ Rotla’, ‘Rotla’, Rotla’ or something similar. We starved ourselves before coming here, not just to keep the stomach empty, but also to save up for the Rs 30. Yet we always felt we could not do full justice to the price we paid for it. Rs 30 was a big deal back then.
  • CANON PAV BHAJI: As we ‘xeroxed’ our copious notes, a favourite pastime was devouring the  spicy pav bhaji, eating it standing at the counters by the roadside, watching Mumbaikars passing by.
  • TOASTED SANDWICHES: OOOOOh! How good can a sandwich be? Well, you have to eat this one to know. Fresh bread slathered with butter, green chutney, tomatoes, boiled potatoes all toasted and then generously lavished with a special white butter of some sort and more of the green chutney…..all from a roadside vendor with a makeshift setup, opposite VT.Blissful! and definitely competing with the Canon Pav bhaji.
  • ST GEORGE”S MESS: This was for food better than our hostel canteen. The dal fry and special dal fry [with a huge dollop of butter floating on top] with hot chapatis within the ambience of the hospital [past stretchers, police ‘mamas’ in the Emergency department] was a special outing.If I remember correctly they even had 2 gulab jamuns with their special thali!
  • AAREY MILK COLONY COUNTER: This was the place to have ice cold flavoured milk from little glass bottles. A must for last minute top up of nutrients just before exam time, it was a pleasure standing at the wooden kiosk and slurping away watching the activities around the VT area.
  • VT CANTEEN: A late discovery. It was the place where tea was served in a silver tea set  with a touch of the British Raj days.

There were some places that we always wished to go to. Alas, one place has remained an unfulfilled dream. Bade Miya kebabs: how we longed to go there. But often told that it wasn’t a place for unescorted females like us, this remained out of bounds. Some places were out of question as they were out of our budget. But when we started internship and got our first pay, it was time to pay a visit to Gaylord’s –the place to be. Feeling rich with Rs 1200 in the pocket, we decided to treat ourselves to dessert at Gaylord’s, near Marine Drive. We sat outdoors as apparently there was an extra charge to sit indoors. One friend ordered an ice-cream costing all of Rs 40 which was the most expensive on the menu and when it came it was a tiny bowl of the sweet stuff which she ate relishing every mouthful. Of course there were plenty of other little foodie delights – eating toasted bhutta [corn on the cob] and chana jor garam at Marine drive, masala peanuts from the newspaper cone, chaat at Chowpaty, missal from the college canteen, tea from a glass tumbler in the canteen…………Of course we ogled at the nocturnal stalls that cropped up in the lane leading from VT. The pavbhaji vendor hacking away at his bhaji and reducing it to a pulp, the egg bhurji wala slashing away with his metal spatula and making that clanging sound on his tawa inviting us to sample his wares. These were definitely out of range even for our seasoned immune systems. Eating on a budget had a charm of its own. It was being together with the group of friends, talking and sharing over food that we loved. It doesn’t matter if it wasn’t exactly gourmet food, but for me it will always be one of my favourite things and a cherished memory.


imagesLife is about moments and memories. Celebrations in a hostel are the most unique and unforgettable of life’s moments. I have skipped straight to these because these were some of the most exhilarating experiences in life and nothing can recreate them.

Birthdays in the hostel were events in more ways than one. Especially in the early years. If Enid Blyton captured the essence of boarding school through St Claire’s and Malory Towers, hostel life was all about living those kinds of dreams.


A birthday was always celebrated at midnight. Bleary-eyed friends trudged up to your room and woke you up just before the clock struck 12 and Voila! There was a cake complete with bright, iced flowers in multicolour, candles to blow out and strains of ‘Happy Birthday to you’ reverberating through the corridors. Birthday bumps were followed by the most boisterous and enthusiastic singing, with overturned buckets doubling up as drums. The rest of the hostel slept soundly like nothing was going on!

Holi in the hostel was like no other. Coloured water entered the rooms and filled the corridors. Buckets of water were splashed all over the walls and there was total mayhem.

Dahi- handi and Ganpati processions were celebrated outdoors by boys and men dancing and having a good time. But for the girls it meant being indoors and watching enviously through the windows. Dancing to the loud, upbeat music on the streets was definitely a male bastion. But the music was such that the girls always wished they could dance to it. It was invigorating and energetic with a beat that invited you to get up and do a jig. Finally one year, it got a bit much for some girls in the hostel, who could not contain their longing to let their hair down. So when the music played, these spirited girls just gave vent to their heart’s desire. In the landing between two flights of stairs, they danced as the deafening music outside got louder and more frenetic. We cheered, clapped, whistled [another male territory] and laughed hysterically as we gathered around them and egged them on. Tying dupattas on their heads as bandanas they looked like boys themselves and never have I seen such passionate ‘tapori’ dancing or such dance steps!

There was no dearth of entertainment in the hostel. There was only one television set in one room in the entire hostel. The common room had one but one had to make special efforts to go down to see it. No mobiles of course. Some radios. But what we lacked in electronic devices we made up for in more ways than one. Talking over a cup of chai was one. We could talk endlessly, gossip tirelessly, share jokes mindlessly and laugh uninhibitedly. Sitting on our cozy beds in our comfy gowns there was nothing as pleasurable at the end of a tiring day at college. There was a kind of sisterhood that slowly developed between us that just cannot happen when one does not live in a hostel. There was a comfort level that you usually felt only with family members and that steadily increased as the years rolled by. A lifetime bond formed uniting to memories of shared experiences……………………….

Daily Prompt : Work? Optional………………. LADY OF LEISURE [LOL]

Well, what is work? To different people, ‘work’ has a different meaning.
Ask a physicist and he or she will tell you that work is the displacement of the point of application in the direction of the force. In English, this means if something is made to move from one place to another with a force, that is work. So in theory, if you lifted a suitcase off a floor, that is work.
Ask a housewife and she will tell you that work is what she does in the house all day long, year round, cooking, cleaning, looking after the family.
Ask her housewife neighbour and she would not call this ‘ work’ but just her duty. Ask another housewife and she would not call this work but a ‘labour of love’
Ask their husbands and they may or may not call their wives’ efforts ‘work’!
Ask a critic and work to him/ her is to find fault with others’ work.
Yes, WORK means different things.
But ‘work’ loosely means anything you do for a living or essentially to make money to fill your stomach, to have a roof over your head and protect yourself from the forces of nature.
So if money were not in the picture, if money grew on trees, what would I do? It’s hard to imagine that because I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth.
But if I were a Lady of Leisure, what would I do?
To work or not to work is the question.
Would I do anything at all? Would I lift a finger? [That by the way, would be ‘work’ as per physics’] or would I just lounge around doing nothing?
Say, if I ‘worked’ out in the gym, would that be work?
If I ‘worked’ my new designer dress at a rocking party, would that be work?
If I worked at being glamourous and fashionable, would that mean I work?
No? You are right. All play and no real ‘work’ would make me a dull person.
So,Yes! I would work those brain cells [though it wouldn’t be ‘work’ in physics]. I would try to work out what works for me. And once I’ve found the answer, I would definitely work in the real sense, whatever that is. As I said ‘work’ for everyone means something different, but we all probably agree that an empty mind is a devil’s ‘work’shop and I certainly wouldn’t want my cranial ‘work’space to be that.


                                                           GREY MATTER   ‘Hair Dye’: Two words that to me have signified a mask of sorts. A cover up, a pretence, a need to stop the inevitable. An urge to appear what one is not. A fight against nature! An unnatural defiance to halt what is meant to be! I have always had a few grey hair since my early twenties and every time I saw these little silvery shiny strands in my thick black mane of hair, I would deftly snip them to the ground, cut them to their roots and keep hacking at the tiny stumps that grew back as stubborn spikes. Over the years, the whites grew in numbers until it was hard to keep up with their growth. I mean how much grey hair can you keep cutting down. Especially the ones at the back. Eventually, I accepted the grisly fact that hair ‘dye’ was the answer. Everyone was doing it and it wasn’t even called dye anymore. Hair colour it is………..which sounds so much more glamorous, fun and most of all YOUNG! And, it comes in virtually all the colours of the rainbow. I was spoilt for choice. Do I choose a chocolate, walnut, mocha, cinnamon or chestnut brown? Sounds like a coffee shop menu! Perhaps, I should spice up my life and go in for a honey copper or a deep plum or soft cherry? Or should I up the ante and opt for a little more adventure with flaming henna red or a hot mahogany? What goes with my personality? Am I a demure dark coffee or a vivacious burgundy? What goes with my Indian skin tone? Is blonde and platinum out of bounds? ‘Midnight blue’ sounds exciting too. No, too outrageous! How about highlights and lowlights? That would mean going to a salon. I was going to do it at home. After much deliberation, I decided that I would stay safe and stick to something that matched my own hair colour or what it used to be. But mind you, no jet black for me. That was how the ‘aunties’ and ‘uncles ‘in my childhood dyed their hair. So unnaturally blazing black, that one could spot a hair dye job from yards away. So natural darkest brown it was for me. Safe, not boring! Conservative, not orthodox! Month after month, year after year it became a routine. The gloves, the brushes, the mess in the bathroom, the stray stain on my ears, and of course the disgusting odour of ammonia and peroxide for a few days and nights afterwards. But it was worth the trouble. All the greys were swiftly coloured as soon as they poked their way out of their follicles. Concealed from view and wiped away from my memory. As soon as they raised their ugly grey heads above ground, I painted away their existence. This would continue if it wasn’t for the time I was compelled to stop colouring my tresses, a few months ago. Yes, I stopped. I did the unthinkable. I went au naturale; I paused for a break. I gave my hair the chance to emerge out of its synthetic refuge. In its full crowning glory, just as nature intended it to be! It must have been a shock for people to see me without my disguise. To me, it was just I, the person without any embellishment. Me, minus any pretence. Me, with all my imperfections on show, no holds barred. To my own surprise, there was no shame, no embarrassment. In fact, it was a relief at not having to constantly hide what is very much a part of my personality. Perhaps it’s part of growing up, not just growing older. Of getting wiser not just being clever. Here I am in all my splendour displaying my light and dark locks, without a care in the world about what others think of me. It’s amazing to see how comfortable I am in my own skin or should I say with own hair! Perhaps, the best hair colour for me is ‘sensuous salt and pepper’. I’ll save the ‘midnight blue’ for another day!