Let’s celebrate the men in our lives!


We celebrate womanhood all the time. This Women’s day, let’s celebrate the men in our lives:

Men who may forget to get us gifts, but not to pick us up late at night while we’re at yelling them about it

Men who may not profess their undying love for us, but fret about our well-being in ways words could never do justice

Men who may not sit us down and declare how proud of us they are, but brag about us all around town

Men who, even when they’re kids, sacrifice their little joys just to see us smile

Men who go to wars, juggle careers, work every bit of their fibre, so that they could provide a better life for us. And all this without a shred of complaint!

We love you. We respect you. We may not need you. But, our lives would be nothing without you.
It is true that women are one of the greatest creatures on earth. Just like men!

Happy Women’s day!

Valentine’s Day UNregistry: what NOT to get your woman on V’day


VD is the one day I shove the feminist in me and openly declare that I need pampering. And gifts are a big part of it. We can all wax eloquent about the joy of gift-giving but we know it’s bupkis when compared to the joy of unwrapping one. Finding a good gift for a woman is easier than finding a graphic scene in an Irving Wallace novel. As much as Men’s health magazine would have you believe, you need not delve deep into our core beliefs to get us one—A pretty, well-fitting dress that none of my friends have. A shiny-but-not-too-tawdry pair of earrings. A relaxing day at the spa followed by a home-cooked meal. Simple joys of life are all what we crave for.

Yet, men over-think it every year. Fights ensue. Insecurities are disengaged from their deep seats. Year-old issues are roused from the dead, ultimately leading to questions of the “where is the relationship going?” nature. In short, no action. Just angry reactions.

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Subtlety is overrated

I know that men are inundated with choice which could paradoxically limit their ability to choose. By flagging some of the options as verboten, I hope to ease the situation:

1. Gift cards

This includes all food coupons, department store cards (Victoria’s secret too), Amazon and iTunes cards. We get it. They’re utility-based gifts, but that’s something you give a long-distance friend when you forget his birthday, not someone you’re having dinner with that night.

2. Teddy bears/ figurines/statuettes of any kind

As much as we need to support our knees when we see one, we don’t want you to give us cuddly things. It just makes us look vulnerable. And we want to be pampered without appearing vulnerable. Same goes for figurines, but in a different way. Anything that could adorn a showcase in the house is best left for the wedding registry.

3. Chocolates

We love chocolates. Any shape. Any form. I am sure many men do too. That’s precisely why we don’t want them. Plus, you could get them at a Walmart.

4. Home appliances 

You might think that an easy-bake oven is the perfect gift for your wife/girlfriend who loves baking. Maybe for Christmas, sure. On VD however, no allusions or even mild winking at gender stereotypes. Even though we’ve all seen that scene from “The father of the bride.”

5. DIY books

Books on how to change a tire or fix the motherboard on the computer might speak to our feminist side, but remember how we decide to dump that side on VD? It’s best to steer clear of any procedural books for the day.

So, yes. The gift should be feminine, not feminist. It should be useful, not utility-based. It should make us feel pretty without being confining or stereotypical. And it shouldn’t look easy. That’s all it takes to make a woman happy.

Or you could just say that you don’t want to exchange gifts this year because spending time with her and seeing her  lovely smile trumps a million gifts. Your take.

The end of a wordless argument


Image courtesy: bergheimfollies.blogspot.com

I wrote the first part of this story a while ago. Ram and Kausi are having problems in their marriage, which sends Ram in a strangely introspective spiral. This final part is from Ram’s POV, and starts off with a disturbing memory.

I had been flipping channels, finally giving in to Scarlett Johansson’s charms in Match point, when the little one had crept in, her fingers furiously digging her nose.

“You know, amma* is going to leave the house. She said it to the phone”

I remember wrestling with the kick-to-the-crotch missive my daughter delivered and the urge to stop her from making pipes out of her booger. She could be a manipulative puppy dog sometimes, but that was not it. Her cherubic face had a shadow of almost nonchalance. It might as well have been Morse code to her.

The facts, meanwhile, have been adding up like numbers on that building in Union Square. The household has’t exactly been cackling with familial warmth. The kids are either the only ones talking or the only issue being talked about. And now, Kausi has plans to flee. Great!

Kausi slams her notebook down, her lips pursed tight—which actually means she nailed the killer conclusion for her piece—and gets ready to sleep. You had to live with Kausi to learn these quirks, and how they could throw you off-kilter sometimes. She would be in the midst of a nerve-wrecking tirade about something I did, and the next moment, laughing about some slip-of-the-tongue she had while tearing me the new one. You had to keep up with her train of thought. More like a missile, really.

What could she possibly be missing in her life? Her writing career has never been better. Her dance students were going international. Our kids have her looks, and our brains. I’d like to think that must be making at least half of Cabbagetown envious. It has to be something else. Could it be that I don’t spend enough time with her, and express the hell out of myself, like all those fluff pieces keep spouting? No, It couldn’t be that simple. Who leaves the house for that? What do those hacks know about my marriage? Didn’t they also peddle the “women are more spiritually evolved than men” crap?

Wait! What am I thinking? Talking has never cut it for me, and I am already double-down. I need to dazzle her, sweep her off her feet, and stop thinking in clichés. Jewelry is out. Of all the stereotypes about women, Kausi had to defy the one most amenable to gifts. She has way too many sarees⁑, for my contribution to count. So, it comes down to the thing I hate the most—a vacation. Why do people feel the insufferable need to travel? Well, I guess I could take her to Florida. Yeah right! She’ll probably amp up the alimony and use it to have me killed—once she stuffs her 401K with it—if I took her from Atlanta to Florida. It’ll have to be international; European maybe. Some pretentious sounding place like Venice or Greece.

I could push the tender meeting to next week. The kids could stay at the Raghavans’, their creepy teenage son notwithstanding. Kausi’s students could wait a week to become the next Mallika Sarabhai. Wow! I’ve really outdone myself this time. A weeklong trip in Venice is at least quality time raised to ten. I can’t wait to see Kausi’s almond eyes split wider open with joy, when I surprise her with the tickets tomorrow.

Unless time isn’t the mother lode of my mess. What if it’s one of those global problems, gnawing away at the marriage, going hitherto unnoticed. What if she’s gone past the point of no return? And, just like that, I feel my marriage closing shut on me again, this time, pushing my ten thousand dollar vacation wedge mercilessly out of the way. Kausi stirs beside me; she has never looked more peaceful. Her peace added to my turmoil. She probably found an answer—an answer this peaceful can’t be good news. How am I going to live without her? Who is going to stop me from stepping out in a maroon shirt and grey pants?

But, whatever happens I am keeping the cuter child; she can handle the teenager.

The little one woke me up from my sleep—patchy at best—by doing the trampoline on my belly. The scene before my eyes shoots my morning crankiness in the eye—

Kausi is busy packing. Her stuff. The kids’ stuff. It doesn’t make any sense. Why would she leave without talking? I don’t hit her. I didn’t cheat on her. Heck! I don’t even smoke. I am a loving father. That’s it—

“Where do you think you are going?”

“I am taking the kids to Raghavans’ place. We can talk after that.”

“No! I want to talk right now. You can’t just leave me. Why are you doing this to me? What about the kids? I am not signing any papers.”

The kids look like they saw a unicorn grow fangs. I don’t care.

Kausi gives me a bewildered glance, her first this morning, while dragging the luggage out—“Papers? What papers? Why are your eyes so red? Look I don’t want to—

“You know what! Fine! You want to talk; let’s talk. I am glad you finally discovered you could piece words together. But, you can regale me on the way to the airport. I was sick of not being able to spend time with you; sick of complaining to my friends about you; sick of waiting for your ‘aha!’ moment. So, I booked us a trip to Venice. And, no, you don’t have a choice. I am prepared to kidnap you if it comes to that.” Her eyes shift guiltily towards the kids, but she’s quick enough to resume the bone-piercing look at me—like only a dancer can.

Is it my turn to speak? I venture, nonetheless.

“But, the kid told me-that’s the reason why-Oh! I get it now-I don’t know what to-should I pack my-what time did you say was the flight?”

The kids don’t look away as Kausi envelopes me in a kiss so raucous that I taste blood in my mouth.

I am so glad my tickets are refundable.

( * : Mother; ⁑ : Indian garment)

Four things I would do if I were cheated on!


I like to plan things—down to the shreds. It gives me a feeling of faux-security, a vicarious control over my future. You don’t get a second shot most times. I have my proposal all planned—I decided to go with the shrieking and jumping up and down bit, followed by a twinkling tear to go with the diamond. I recently perfected the move I would use to handle the bum making lewd gestures, if he were to come within arm’s distance. And my Nobel acceptance speech has been ready for ages, save the few tweaks I make every time I read William Zinsser (His ‘On writing well’ is a delightful read).

It’s just something I do. Regardless of how unlikely the event is. Which brings me to the topic of my post: what would I do If I were cheated on? This one probably belongs to the hall of fame of unlikely events, but is certainly possible. And, yeah, now would be the best time to call me a twisted, paranoid lunatic for planning my boyfriend proposing to me and cheating on me in the same breath. But, this is a brain child of not only my neuroses; it’s mainly my compulsive watching of Mad men. There have been legends about men philandering, but nothing quite like the spectrum of skirts Don Draper has gotten himself into, scared the living hell out of me.

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My wife walked in on my fivesome! (via google images)

I don’t pretend to imagine what one endures when they gain knowledge of this horrible fact. Even constructing a scenario gives me the chills as I see myself doing things that would need Bobby Donnell to keep my ass out of jail. But, whatcha gonna do? The topic is such that it shoves the vilest of human emotions bubbling to the surface. A relationship hinges on mostly intangible attributes, the most valuable of them being trust. When some jerk stamps all over this already intangible mess, there is very little legal respite you’ve got. I checked it out. Adultery as a crime has no teeth unless you live in Michigan or are willing to settle for $10 in Maryland.

As much as I picture unleashing my feral side at the thought of adultery, I know I am not capable of violence. But, I am no saint either; no turning the other cheek for me. The least I can do is be prepared. So, here I am, shrugging off a thousand sanctimonious voices advising me that life cannot be planned, to present my cheat-sheet—a bite-sized guide for the future me reminding how to get a good deal out of the whole adultery business.

1. Make a kick-ass pre-nup

This should keep most men in their pants, when done the right way. Granted that this is a preventive measure, but what the hell, I am allowed to cheat in semantics. Invest in a good lawyer and make an air-tight prenup agreement; chances are if he’s ready to sign it, you wouldn’t need it at all. If not, you can sleep peacefully knowing you can make him pay through his teeth whenever you want.

2. Leave him

Stop reading what Prudence from Slate magazine has to say. Don’t bother what your shrink has to offer more than a couch to cry out the initial weepies.  Just dump him alright. It’s just not worth the rigmarole of forgiving and starting over. No matter how evocative his pleas of undying love for you, tell him he can shove it up an orifice of his choice. You don’t give second chances; not in this department.

3. Shop! Shop! Shop!

As much as you feel like listening to Adele, shrouding yourself in an introspective bubble, break out of it. Take a shower. Let him do the “what went wrong?” song and dance. You—soak in a spa massage, get those Zooey Deschanel bangs you thought you were too old for. Or that red silk Valentino number you wishfully gave up tiramisu for. The phrase ‘nothing to lose’ never had more meaning.

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Douches come in all sizes and shapes (via google images)

4. Learn to identify a douche

You can’t always thwart infidelity, but you can learn to weed out the riffraff early on. For example, if your guy has a friend who needs relationship help three nights a week, he’s probably screwing you over (with a guy/girl? don’t ask). If he is okay with you having ‘headaches’ every other day, yet wakes up looking like a million bucks, he’s probably getting some on the side. Also, if his face takes up as much space in the media as the state of Florida, there’s a good chance he’s the power-driven, alpha-male prototypic philanderer we all hear of. Nothing condones infidelity, but if you approach a tiger like you would, your garden variety cat, then this cheat-sheet is of no use for you!

PS: This post is just a light-hearted take on an emotionally catastrophic event; I do not mean to trivialize it. 

PS1: I am not a rationally closed off femi-nazi who thinks infidelity is a male turf; women cheat too (the relative numbers are irrelevant here). I am sure men go through hell when it happens. So, I give you the stage. Take potshots. Make your craigslist sugar daddy jokes. I’ll root for you.