Happy new year then

Oh well. Today's the first day of Mia's potty training. Or non-training. So far all we have achieved is a sudden, definite preference for being nappy-less, announcing pee-pee-pee very loudly while pointing to nether regions and when I run to her, all excited, she scuttles away cackling gleefully. She doesn't get it that poo-ing is serious business.

However there is small comfort in the fact that she has instantly taken to her potty. She has so far put coins in it, made Charlie Bear sit in it and has even put -- and eaten -- her avocado sandwich from it. She has even given it two kisses. It's a start.


Write no wrong

I cannot write. Not here, not in my journal, not on napkins as I once used to. Not anywhere. At least I had a small break from nonwritingness and managed to finish The Book and submit it. It's been a month since the publisher sent me an email -- "starting primary edits" it said -- and I haven't heard anything since. Perhaps it's take really long for primary edits. Perhaps it takes longer when the MS sucks. Perhaps publisher is looking for a (gentle) way to tell me it cannot be published.

I cannot seem to be able to do anything. Partner gifted me a new sewing machine as a finish-the-bloody-book present. I've made some stuff -- couple of dresses for me and some pants for Mia. But now again I am in unmotivated land.

I've made a Christmas cake -- same recipe as last year except it didn't fall on the floor this time...or hasn't so far. I'm going to make some mocha cookies soon. And that's it. Last year I made chocochip cookies and truffles and packed them in hand-made boxes. This year - unmotivationalism.

I got a single opportunity to write an article for a magazine -- Indian one -- and I refused it. Can't write, no time and other stuff.

Speaking of no time -- my house looks like a pig sty. Only pigs like their homes. I cannot keep it clean. And anything I do -- bake, cook, sew -- only dirties it further.

Now I cannot finish this post. I've started so many posts over the last couple of months but somewhere around the second paragraph, it's delete. Or save for later. And the later never comes.

I don't know what's happening.


Oi, oi

Heaps to tell. But still got to hold off for a very little bit longer. Action, reaction, interaction soon to resume. Thanks for your patience.
So much to discuss. Parents first trip to Australia. Four months without cigarettes. Walking with 5 extra fucking kilos. Ginormous boobs. Wondering about fat men... Drinking skinny milk and why it's an insult and tastes like shit.
But. A very little bit longer.


Bloody easy cupcakes

This is Missy's butterfly birthday cake. Why butterfly? Simply because we have butterfly decals in her room that she loves and points to the first thing every morning.

I had enormous amounts of fun baking for her birthday. It also helped heaps that my mother-in-law did most of the house cleaning and every other possible work around the house to make the party happen. I simply couldn't have done without her. Mum helping out gave me the time to bake the butterfly cake along with some vanilla cupcakes, red velvet cupcakes and biscuits.

I hadn't considered putting up any recipes here -- not till after submitting the manuscript! -- but for a very dear friend who asked to "recommend a decadent cupcake recipe". I knew just the recipe for her and for you if you like decadence and cupcakes.


Hallow how are you?

I was watching True Blood season 4 (episode 3, 4) last night and I realised that the short-haired, memory-loss Eric Northman (extreme left) is just not doing it for me. He reminds me too much of Meekus from Zoolander (in green) to take him seriously. While Eric Northman with short hair was still quite the (delicious) devil -- please see that look in that poster, sigh -- I am not liking this lost-boy act. Yet. Overall I do like Eric oh-so-much, read this if you didn't know that already!

However, I think I much prefer my bad boys with long hair. That said I am totally enjoying the way Alan Ball has changed Charlaine Harris's original story. Some of the plot and character changes are heaps better than they were in the book. Looking forward to the rest of the season.

On another front if July has been a quite month blog-wise, it's been pretty much go on every other count. I've found I cannot write at home. So I pack Mia and various baby-belongings and go and sit in this cafe called Pampered Mummies. It's brilliant! There's a play pen and separate play area for kids, there are other kids to play with and most importantly, the staff more than often look after Mia (and other babies) as I write. I've done more writing at Pampered Mummies in two weeks than I've done in the last year.

Along with the writing, this month has also been about Missy's first birthday and the last of the Harry Potter movies.


Very different people


L-R: Cuffs, J Gillard, Collingwood and KP2
Snort. There was a time when I'd sit in my fourth-floor apartment, smoking, hurting and wondering if I'd ever meet my soulmate. My idea then was this, in short someone who'd be my  mirror image and would like and enjoy all the things I did. In hindsight I think I was looking more for a real friend who I had great sex with.

Well now I have a baby. With the man I love. One of my Criterion For Soulmate was that the man should most definitely dance. I love dancing and I had these visions (very Mills & Boon!) of us breaking out into impromptu dance routines when our favourite salsa number played on the radio (yes, yes, very filmi) or doing a mean tango at some party. Yes. I know it's all very dramatic but then if you've been reading this blog you should have noticed that I do have a certain propensity for drama, no? I love drama, Partner hates it. And as far as his dancing is concerned... I've been expressedly told that 1. I should not write about our personal life here and 2. I definitely cannot write bad things about him. So I cannot write about his dancing.


Quick note

Thank-you to everyone for the wishes on the Hello Beautiful post. For those who might not know, Indian blogger network IndiBlogger alongwith Dove and Yahoo! held a blogging contest called "What is real beauty?" The post I submitted (surprisingly) ended up winning the first prize. I'm pretty excited because it was absolutely unexpected. And welcome. :)

I might be somewhat infrequent here for a very short bit -- unless I can manage my time better and post something -- as I have a deadline pending. My publisher's finally had enough. I better get my butt moving. 

PS: There are some really well-written posts on the beauty issue here, check them out.


Past Imperfect

Mia will be ONE year old next month and frankly it's making me feel quite strange. There's the bit about where-did-the-year go. Then the bit where I go, "Oh my god, my baby is not a baby anymore!" Then I start thinking that it's been three years since I had a proper job, i.e. as a journalist. And I wonder if this is the end of my media career. But then I think I really don't want to put her in childcare unless we really need the money. Amidst all that thinking/wondering, I realise that soon it will be five years that I have been writing this blog. Well, this is more or less the same as Emancipation of Eve; I just gave the old blog a new name.

So much has changed over the last five years. It amazes me at some times and totally scares me at others. There are so many amazing bits. Mia, Partner, living here, a terrific rapport with my parents, a new family I love... In five years I've gone from smoking 10 (and more) joints a day, spitting mad at the world to not having had a cigarette in the last five days. I am wearing nicotine patches, but it's a start. The scary bit is that none of it was planned, everything just happened. So it could also un-happen right? That's what scares me but I'm not going to be chicken shit. Jo hoga dekha jayega. :)

Here's what was happening with me this day, on this blog in the (five) years passed:


How (a)typical

So it's just another regular evening at our house. We all -- Partner, his bff-since-school DocPal and me -- are in the lounge ('drawing') room except for Mia, who is asleep in her cot. We hope the baby would continue sleeping while the men watch footy and I read Tina Fey's biography Bossypants.

The men do the usual man-thing of discussing some stat (they are not so sure about) and abusing some umpire (they are very sure about). Sometimes though they look away from the TV screen long enough to stare at me. There are many points in the book that make me laugh out loud. I am stared at during those points. "You are a freak," they declare, Partner loudly and DocPal tacitly because he does not deny it either. Sometimes I read out bits from the book while laughing out loud, they stare at me harder.

At one point I have to stop reading. Tina has just written about some of her male colleagues pissing in various cups and keeping these cups randomly sitting about the office. Some of her other male colleagues -- another department, lower hierarchy perhaps since they didn't get their own cup -- have been communally pissing in a jar. Having worked in the media, I was quite struck by this. I tried to think of any time I might have seen any of my male editor's, various techie or other colleagues ever sitting around suspicious-looking styrofoam cups. The only cups I had noticed were the once that were supposed to be coffee but were actually rum-and-coke-during-night-shift.

Anyway. So I interrupt the boys and ask, "Have you ever pissed in a cup because you didn't want to go to the toilet?" Boys look at each other.

Partner says, "Geez, not in a cupppp, more like a Gatorade bottle."

I am disgusted and turn to DocPal -- who is a doctor afterall -- looking for some support, some signs that he too is similarly disgusted.

DocPal to Partner, "Did you fill the bottle?"

So why am I the freak?

PS: Bossypants, totally read it. I loved the bits about her childhood and starting out in television. The bits about her at Saturday Night Live were somewhat boring. And then I really fell for her when she spoke about motherhood etc. Sometimes it feels like she is really honest, at other times there's a bit of that's-bullshit-Tina but overall worth a read.


Personal arse licker?

I’ve just put Mia down for her afternoon sleep. I left her with her eyes closed, a little smile playing on her lips and her favourite tee shirt sleeve stuffed in her mouth. She loves sucking herself to sleep…on good days. On not-so-good days she likes to be rocked and patted in my arms. Except that now she has decided she needs to pat me back while I am patting her. Basically it’s a lot of patting and no sleep. I’ve been doing the patting-rocking since she was born and even though it can get tough sometimes – there’s my favourite show on TV, or guests waiting, or dinner getting cold, or I’m just too tired – I love it when she falls asleep in my arms. The way she snuggles under my chin, the way her mouth stays slightly open (even with the recently developed bad breath), the way her breathing deepens along with her sleep. I feel an immense sense of peace each time I rock her to sleep. Sometimes, I also feel an immense sense of gratitude that she was born in Australia and not in India.


I am pretty sure a whole lot of you saw Google's very cool doodle yesterday. I initially thought it was "invention of the guitar" or something but learnt later -- after Googling of course -- that it was to celebrate guitarist Les Paul's birthday. I hope you had much fun twanging away, I know I did. Apparently some people 'created' music pieces as well; though I've tried clicking on some of the links given in news stories, I haven't been able to hear anything. But anyway, it was an awesome surprise to discover the strings actually worked. I realised quite accidentally when I pointed the cursor over the doodle to read the mouse-over of whatever 'day' was being celebrated. Totally loved it Google, thanks.
Here's a cool photo essay in Times for a quick rundown of the noteworthy doodles. For those who want the entire doodlepedia, here's the link to all the doodle's ever on Google's website. It was good fun through the images and history, enjwoy.

Have a good weekend too; it's a long weekend -- Monday is the Queen's birthday therefore holiday as well -- here in Australia. Tomorrow I'm going to watch Dr Zhivago the musical, super excited. This will be my first, ever live musical. :D
PS: I hate Bing for searches, it's bloody useless.


Friday bookslutting

It's amazing the number of times it has happened to me; logging on to write one post, starting to read some other stuff, then following links and ending up with a completely different post. 'Reflective analysis' was a course subject for my Masters; you were supposed to reflect on your practice and I just couldn't get my head around it. I scored dismally in it. I think I can explain it much better now -- where an idea originates, how it changes into something totally else and how it influences whatever it is you are 'creating' -- and I'd do it without a bloody bibliography or deep-breathing exercises. We were made to do both in class. Most of the yoga-time was spent twittering (the real thing as against wrongly used synonym for tweeting) with these two Italian boys I was really fond of*. One was on a study visa like me and another was an Australian-of-Italian-descent, both quite gorgeous. Sigh. Anyway, now one of them is part of a band and I'd really like to see them perform. (*Fond of = in a hey-you're-fun kind of way, I was attached to Partner then as I am now).


Project Why

The girl on the extreme right is Tanjali. The picture was taken against the boundary wall of the Indian Institute of Technology, Ber Sarai, New Delhi. Tanjali and her family and a host of other beggar families lived (still live?) on the pavement next to IIT. That particular red light -- on the intersection of Ber Sarai and Outer Ring Road -- was where they earned their living. Tanjali -- and the other kid -- are both wearing tee shirts that I'd painted. It was part of a small project started through the Indian Shitizen, a blog that I stopped writing. That blog received extreme reactions from people.



Melbourne is getting colder by the day. The minimum for today is six degrees celcius with a max of 15. Mia is having her morning snooze – should be up any minute – and I am still sitting in my favourite flannel pyjamas and a huge, brown sweater that makes me look like a mini woolly mammoth. But it’s super comfortable. As I type this, I am looking out at the little space we call our backyard: There are browning willow leaves everywhere. The trees are nearly bare-limbed, quickly shedding the remnant of their leaves, preparing to go easy for the winter. If I look out of my kitchen window, it’s the same story. The kitchen window overlooks another neighbour’s backyard with its many fruit trees. There is not a single leaf to be seen on any of the trees and they look very cold.


Hello Beautiful

The stretch marks on my belly are erase-proof, my sagging breasts defy any attempts at upliftment and the daily-emerging wrinkles on my face make me really, really consider botox. I don’t believe I just mentioned “sagging” and “my breasts” in the same sentence. But you see, that’s what has happened. I am mother to an 11-month-old baby girl and since having my daughter, my whole concept of ‘beautiful’ has done a volte-face. It’s not about me anymore, not about what I consider beautiful. What then will I teach her about beauty?


Baby sense is tingling

Batman needs the Bat Sign to be flashed and Spiderman's spider-sense sometimes fails. Both of them could take lessons from Miss Mia, her baby sense never fails. EVER. At this rate, we will never manage a second baby. Not that we want one right away, but you know, it's good to keep up the practice. Only Miss Mia doesn't think so. :|


Kiss and tell

My first kiss was when I was 9. The boy was visiting one of our neighbours -- he was a 'Delhi boy' -- and he kissed me on my cheek. Before all the other kids who laughed. I promptly punched him and went and complained to his aunt that he had kissed me.

Then there was the dude in grade 8 -- who had a girlfriend and had failed twice in the same class and was supposed to be some sort of a Taekwondo champion -- who tried to kiss me after class. I turned my face at the last minute, the kiss landed on my cheek and I saw few other boys -- who'd been peeping in through the window -- run away. Despite the fact that I hadn't asked for the kiss, a HUGE scandal followed.

Many years and kisses-without-meaning later, Partner kissed me for the first time. Strangely that was the only time I have ever been asked if I wanted to be kissed.


Daddy's cool, yay baby

I have to say that despite all the negative stuff that's written about the Internet -- vis-a-vis children and the dangers of unsupervised surfing -- this particular technology has brought about some welcome changes to the relationship with my parents.

I've always felt that in the Indian scenario at least, there's always a certain distance in the parent-child relationship.


Can we have some penis?

The first time I’d really thought about it or noticed (the lack of) it was while watching a lingerie show on Fashion TV.

There were female models parading in next-to-nothings. Wispy laces, satin and silk and see-through garments that that were more see than through. You could see the nipples, the shading of the areola and even how one female models’ cleft was perhaps slightly longer than the other. I was watching and thinking how washing anything so delicate – and I mean the lingerie here – would be a bitch when this male model walked on to the catwalk.



I HATE housework. I have no idea how countless women before me have spent their entire fucking lives doing it everyfuckingday. I am LOSING it. It's getting bad, so bad. I woke up this morning contemplating writing a comparative post on the best detergent to remove red wine stains. FUCK.
I SO want to pick a fight today. Punch someone. Something. I HATE housework.


tried and tasted: Tomato, goat’s cheese and caramelized onion flan

(Even as I upload this post it begins hailing in Melbourne. Hail the size of dragée. The recipe that follows the post is perfect for this weather. Served warm it gives a feeling of snuggling under warm blankets. I do love that feeling.) 

What makes a good cookbook? Rather what do I think makes a good cookbook?
1.    Recipes that have been tried, tasted and that actually work when you follow the instructions.
2.    Instructions that are clear and give you an idea of what to expect. Eg. When making bread: Let the dough sit for 30 minutes is NOT as good as saying ‘let the dough sit for 30 minutes till it doubles in size’. Or when making a curry: ‘Fry the spices for 10 minutes till they give off a cooked aroma’ is BETTER than saying fry the spices for 10 minutes.
3.    Pictures that give me an idea of the finished product.
4.    Proper index that makes it easy to search for a particular recipe.
5.    But most importantly, a friendly cookbook. I don’t mind a cookbook with only 10 recipes, but those recipes need to work. They don’t have to be fancy recipes but rather recipes that make me come back and make them again. Eg. I haven’t read Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but I have a feeling I’d hate it. While I understand what JC did for “cooking in America”, I don’t like a cookbook that makes me feel like a dunce. I like a cookbook that says “You might be a dunce but here let me show you how to work with your dunce-ness and have something good to eat it at the end of it”.


Not a nice woman to know

My birthday was like any other day. We woke up to Mia’s babbling at 5.30am. Unlike when she was a ‘new’ baby and had me sprinting out of bed, her morning babble got the usual reaction from me. I slunk deeper under the doona hoping she would perhaps go back to sleep. I hope every morning. Every morning she continues the gibberish till she realises that no one has responded to her yet. Then there are a series of grumpy, staccato bub-bub-bub-bubs followed by a screech. BAAAARGH. It is an imperial command for us to respond without any further delay. I slink lower and Partner happily goes into her room, changes her, cuddles her and then brings her into our bedroom. My birthday was pretty much the same except that Partner entered the room dancing with his daughter in his arms and singing Happy Birthday. Mia thought it was a much better start to the morning and responded gleefully. Bub-bub-bub-bubbab-BUB!


Dead on target

Gulp: Skarsgård as Eric Northman
Should a book be made into a movie/teleserial or should it be left alone? Can the onscreen version sometimes better the printed version? If you have read a certain book, should you watch the movie/serial? Personally I am quite undecided on those questions. I love the Harry Potter books and it took me a while to warm to the movies and perhaps watch them out of loyalty towards the books.

However, when it comes to the Southern Vampire mystery series by Charlaine Harris -- the Sookie Stackhouse series or now as they're known as HBO's True Blood series -- I veer towards the TV series by just that much. I've quite enjoyed the books but I am really enjoying the televised version as well. Maybe it has to do with hottie Alexander Skarsgård who plays former-viking-now-vampire-sheriff Eric Northman. I love Skarsgård because he can play a devious vampire and still have the comic timing of Meekus in Zoolander.


So (not) MILF

Another four days and I’ll be 32. Frankly I don’t want to be 32 and if you asked me – even if you didn’t – I’m not ready for it. I’d barely turned 30 and now I’m being told it’s been two years since. When the hell did that happen? How? 

I’ve been in a bit of a funk for some time now, the blog silence being one of the resultant ramifications. There have been other ones too. Like not wanting to get a pedicure, a refusal to wear low-waist jeans and an absolute hatred for anything labeled ‘anti-ageing’.  
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