Category Archives: Pet Peeves

#A2ZChallenge Catch-up: W is for Water

Dear Water

As I looked on, the Brahmaputra showed me the full stretch of his expanse, and I was humbled. Were you a sea masquerading as a mere river? Were you THE mighty river spoken of only in myths and folklore? I could see in my mind’s eye the huts on stilts at a distance, and it looked like seafarers lived in them, not everyday village folks with regular real estate decisions. Then, again, when I saw the Zanskar and his emerald green waters from the mountains, I was stupefied. Not only were you called Zanskar, but you were of the bewitching Indus, creating curves of beauty imprinted on Ladakh’s unique landscapes. Such beauty in all your avatars, oh water.

But, this is not about that.

This is about the dance we do.

Eight what? What of Eight? What did you say?

I have been told by the ancient wise that drinking water can solve such a range of human challenges, it is not jocularity. Emotional upheaval? Here’s some water. Mad at the wi-fi, take a water break. Big presentation, take a sippa da water. Made a statement, sip that water for swag. Everything – from our epidermis to the follicle, from the nail to the liver, from the kidney to the knuckles loves water apparently. Even though we are 70% water, we still cannot get enough. And that brings me to ze rule. Of Eight. It started with eight glasses (the most widely split measurement in the whole Milky Way, I mean, what is a glass??), 2.5 litres, or eight cups or eight 1-ounce glasses was it?

I have heard everything. That does not mean I have done diddly squat. I can barely get through a measly bottle a day. And like every aspiring swimmer there is, I have bought gear. Oh, have I got gear. Ceramic, enamel, non-toxic stainless steel with trippy caps and key rings, and a little hook for the ladies’ purses. All of the jazz. None of the water.

Shakes and Bladders

The truth is what lurks within. Literally. The bladder. I feel mine is a major anatomical anomaly, with some cross-wiring in its internal modems and fluctuating capacities. Out of nowhere, it becomes code red. When you least expect it. And when you have to. Like in a public bathroom, or in the middle of an uphill trek with only barbs and wilderness around. Or when you are wearing a jumpsuit (note to the department of abominable apparel creations). Or when you are with your six-month old on an airline, while on descent.

Pee buddyWhen I walked the Oxfam trek, they handed us a “stand and pee” contraption, because everyone knows women in India have it tough (I mean, specifically, the state of pee places; no giant sociological opinion, nope). The idea is that you can pee anywhere you want into a little cardboard tent. It is as important an invention to India’s state of toilet-readiness as iPod was to the smart devices outbreak. So, a moment of silence for these guys.

And a big BOO to whatever it is in the universe that makes people mess up public toilets the way they do. It’s like someone’s bucket list to clog every drain there is, and leave a pebble trail. Which, unlike what happens in Hansel and Gretel, IS NOT made of bread crumbs. Less said, (also less seen, less inhaled) the better.

In the process, I got initiated into core and glutes strengthening even before I knew what these were. Hanging and squatting over the toilet seat or holding my daughter up in a handhold worthy of being recognized as a ballet move. All this, while maintaining zero contact with ANYTHING. Stronger arms, biceps, triceps, glutes and finer motor co-ordination. Full points for that. Terrible score for my bladder, which clearly missed the evolutionary train.


Full of it.

W is for water


#A2ZChallenge: U is for Unsolicited Advice

Dear Unsolicited Advice,

CC to “Bag of Salt”

Unsolicited, from Latin, “sollicitus”, meaning, “I have a finger to put in every pie so we can all eat better pies.” Some lexicon liberties might have been taken in that statement.

Here is some unsolicited advice for you, Unsolicited Advice.

Why are you so needy? You show up everywhere, on about every issue in the world, also on all the insignificant others. Advice is, as it is, is going through a global retrenchment and protectionist wave. Most people will take advice only from their own trusted fools, and anything from any other living or non-living entity will be met with derision, disdain, and most importantly, inaction. And that will be your entropic end.

Set yourself up for success

Given the general aversion to advice, and its lofty cousin, gyan, one must acknowledge that no one really seeks you out. Textbook definition of unsolicited. This is like the Buzzfeed article that crams your feeds from everywhere, and you compulsively read, only to feel tainted by a strong after-taste of “that did not just get written.” If you want to be taken seriously, be like The Smithsonian Magazine, so that your advice holds up against the best. Don’t just say, “Always feed the baby to the tune of the Mayan calendar, and every Thursday”, say that you know for a fact that Mayan feeding schedules are used extensively in the Jolie-Pitt household. How are they called now though? Jolie-Ex-Pitt or Pitt-Ex-Jolie?

A version of this is also “It worked for me so by the powers vested in me by the castle of Grayskull, I now pronounce you He-Man”. Sorry, I mean, it will work for you. It’s a universal law.

Get your research mojo on. Don’t just be silly. There’s enough of that on everyone’s FB group pages, which we join voluntarily and with full volition.

Where is the Off Button on this thing?

Everything needs to be turned down, out, off, over or under for a while. It is a necessary fact of vitality and function. And so, you shall be no different. Who appointed you Atlas and left a celestial sphere on your shoulders? (Greek mythology is super complicated and, the word now is, Atlas was not, I repeat, not holding up the world. Sorry to rock your world, no pun intended). Anyhow, you can have your day off! Just resist the urge to get in your prescriptions through the door. The world will live. Its ok to make biryani in a  pressure cooker (no, I won’t call it pulao, get yourself a lawyer), and ok to give the child a full-throttle no-apologies chocolate cake at 9 pm and ok to do Yoga in the evenings. These things happen once in a while (and not in your turf), and that’s the time you get your time off. However, when someone asks you, “Tell me everything you know that I am doing wrong right now in your entirely subjective position”, don’t hold back. Kick up your heels and knock yourself out.

Time and place, and screen presence

In real estate, they say, the only three things that matter are location, location and location. I am suspect of the numeric part here but I get what they are saying. For you too, unsolicited advice: same deal. You need to nail it for awesomeness. Like when Don Corleone says, “A man who does n’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.” Or when The Joker says, “If you are good at something, never do it for free.” Or do it like Hobbes and magically make life lessons sound like an order for your favorite ice-cream (though, honestly, only Hobbes can do that).

Let all your advice sound like a gigantic motivational poster that can only do good. The worst it can do is maybe, just maybe, bore someone, that is the maximum collateral damage. It won’t be counted as annoying, know-it-all, alien pearls of wisdom that we just said, “Thank you, but no thank you” for. Lets not put the vice in advice, y’all.



Unsolicited Advice

#A2ZChallenge: L is for Lizard

Dear Lizards of the world, or at least the ones in my house

Ok. I cannot be writing to you because we are not on talking terms. So, I will just write these completely unorthodox verses with no pentameter of any sort, iambic or otherwise. As an ode to our long-standing stand-off.

There was once a lady, who does not have a name

Mainly because she is of dubitable fame

She is intensely scared of reptiles to the point of turning blue

“Such irrational fears”, her mother (and now her daughter) often rue


However, in that class of animals too, she had her special few

Crocodiles and gators only live in the waters she knew

Snakes and boas and their ilk too had shown little interest so far

They were busy scaring people in planes, raising the bar

Turtles were almost non-reptilian, and borderline cute, in appearance

So, then, to her, they were of minimal consequence


Then along came the lizards, also called the common house gecko

Everyday, she prayed to God, chanting, “Bahut darr lagta hai mere ko.

Let this day too pass, without a sighting of your mini Komodo dragons.”

Alas, yet, out they would be, in splendor and all aboard the bandwagons.


In corners, in shelves, up in the lofts, behind the chairs

Solo, orchestra, ensemble, operatic and often in pairs

Spotted, corrugated, young, intrepid, as many options as online retail

But consistently with four legs and a blood-curdling on-again, off-again tail


As ironic as life can be, to her too, they took a special shine

Seeking her out, showing their love through many a sign

Either sneaking up, or dropping off from a suitable trigonometrical height

To land on her hand or arm, or head, at all times of day or night


No broom worked, nary garlic nor baking soda, cider vinegar nor egg-shells

Could break these mighty gecko-ey, lizard-y, T-rexy, slimy spells

One day, came the grand-nephew of the Piped Piper of Hamelin, with his résumé

But the compensation plan and health insurance did not work out, to her dismay


To this day, she yells, standing atop furniture and the heads, shoulders and toes of whoever is close

Her children tell her about the lizards’ ecological balance, but all they hear is “Ewww, Gross!!!”