Monday, May 29, 2006

Chocolate Therapy!

This one is about chocolate. By now we all know that chocolate and wine are the best way to keep healthy, to keep young, to avoid heart attacks, ward off contagious diseases, keep away insurance salesmen with bad breath and god knows what else. Maybe if you investigate the matter thoroughly enough you will find that chocolate and wine are the doorway to immortality. Till now I thought it was drinking wine and eating chocolate that was good for the health but now I have found out that what does you more good than eating chocolate is to rub it all over your body. Yes, there is this article in one of the Sunday papers that gives you a blow by blow description of how to do it and all the benefits you can look forward to. Here goes.

It’s called Chocolate Therapy and involves a Chocolate Fondue, which is put together from grated cooking chocolate, full cream, icing sugar, and orange peel. Sheeesh! And instead of eating all this (Oooooh Yum!) you rub it all over your face and neck! A spa at Kemps Corner actually offers you this treatment because, as the spa manager says, “Cocoa extracts have a unique biochemical composition which stimulate the fat burning process, lipolysis, and restore the skin’s fresh appearance.” (Buzz magazine).

Sounds good? Well the only reason I am not going in for an external cocoa treatment is that I am not a cat and can’t lick off the face mask after I am done. What a waste to have to wash all that creamy chocolate away. Maybe I will just up my daily intake of dark chocolate instead because the same article informs me that eating chocolate not only keeps heart disease and high blood pressure at bay but also doesn’t get in the way of weight loss. Whatever that means. Maybe that you can eat a few bars every day and be sure of not ending up resembling an ocean liner. Seventy per cent Lindt, here I come!

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Youth and Age

The police are getting to be very civilised these days. I had to visit them in order for them to okay my new passport and was asked to present myself at the nearest chowky last week. The only minor lapse occurred when I called to ask if they were open and if so, till what time. The receptionist or whoever answered the phone barked, “It’s all written on the form!” When I said sure, but couldn’t he tell me anyway, he barked a second time, “It’s all down on that form!” OK OK, I said, I will take a look at it and come along at the right time.

After a short wait in a small and rather cramped parlour with a bench at one end and some chairs along the wall facing the bench, we were asked to sit down in the investigating officer’s room. Polite doesn’t quite describe the guy who "interviewed" me. He was required to fill in some forms with mundane details such as where I was born and how long I had lived in Bombay, and seemed positively concerned and friendly while doing that. The second officer by whom I had to get the form signed at a later stage, was even more chummy if that is possible.

He looks at my mother and then at me and asks who is who. I tell him, well, I am Uma and I have come to get police clearance for my passport. I point to my mother and say "That's my mother." He shakes his head and says, “Mother is looking younger than daughter.” Such a nice guy, I tell you. Needless to say Mother could not have been more pleased. This statement just about vindicated the one made a couple of years ago when my mother had taken her mother for an outing to the race course and the elderly gossipy women who used to gather there had (according to my grandmother’s maid Saru) remarked on how my grandmother looked younger than my mother.

It figures, folks. My grandmother looked younger than my mother and my mother looks younger than me. That can only mean one thing. That I look older than my grandmother. Ok, what’s all this psychotherapy about if it doesn’t teach you to accept the facts of life? Right then, to answer your question, yes I think I can live with the truth.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Christmas Pud

Mother just read the previous blog. She said, "I don't really care for that telegram. I would prefer the Queen to send us Christmas Pudding."

Sunday, May 14, 2006

A letter from the Queen

Dad was reading out stuff from the papers yesterday. "In three more years," he tells Mother, "We can qualify for a congratulatory telegram from Queen Elisabeth II who recently celebrated her eightieth birthday. She sends it to all couples in the commonwealth who have celebrated their sixtieth year of marriage."

So we agreed that Mum (who is 76) and Dad (like Queen E. also 80 years old), no matter how furiously they quarrel and get on each other's nerves should definitely first of all, try to stay alive for the sake of the telegram and secondly try to stay together for at least the next three years. Then the telegram comes. After that they can part ways. Dad can go on his jaunts all over the world (which Mother who is a homebird, hates to do). Instead Mother can stay back and continue to supervise the plumber and the carpenter at their work and get the washing machine and the AC fixed when they give way and tend to umpteen other chores. But there is the matter of the royal telegram. Who gets to keep it? Well we decided that rather than fight over it they can neatly tear it in half and each of them gets to keep a piece.

And meanwhile for all who are interested in Queen E's tireless efforts to keep up goodwill in the world - she is a patron saint (oops not saint but patron queen) of 600 charities in the world has sent over 100,000 telegrams to individuals who hit a century, 280,000 telegrams to couples celebrating their 60th anniversay (so in three years time my parents will probably be the 460999th to get that royal certificate) and has given over 78,000 christmas puddings to her staff. (They dont say in how many years). In November 2007, she will be celebrating the sixtieth year of her own wedding to the man who called her a monkey on one occasion.

Follow up (Mum's point of view)

Saturday, May 06, 2006

When Life Gets Surreal

Was feeling kind of sad yesterday evening. And even as I became aware of it, I saw how little most people like to acknowledge feelings like sadness. How we mostly cover it up with jokes, with hectic activity or in numerous other ways. I couldn’t quite figure out what made me feel like that yesterday – kind of down. Maybe it was the cloudy sky which greeted me during my daily sunset meditation. Or generally thinking of the world. Maybe it was Arun K’s phone call early in the evening. He had called after ages. Back presumably from shooting some film other.
“I’m feeling so old,” he starts in a morose tone of voice and just as I begin to chuckle, he hastens to explain that it has not so much to do with the body, but more to do with the mind. Not being able to quite cope with the outside world any more and the cult of violence, "and Indians being so bloody uncaring – they don’t give a damn about anything." He sounds more and more depressed by the second.

A couple of hours later, as I sit watching the dark clouds piling up in the sky, Parvati hands me a mug of tea. "Looks like rain", she says, and I nod. “Quite true.” She says aggressively as if she had not spoken a word and I am talking to myself “WHAT IS TRUE?!!” This is definitely not a day for smiles. She looks moodily around and stomps off and I ask myself what kind of day must have had, to sound like that.

Then I think about the photos of the Mahajan family splashed in the press these last few days and the crying wife and his daughter and the aged mother weeping at the funeral. I also think of the smug looking brother who looks quite pleased at having “goli chalaoed” his sibling and it occurs to me, how surrealistic life is becoming. It's not just about one brother gunning down another. (Actually what is it that makes a crime by a blood brother seem so much worse than a crime committed against any human being by any other – considering in some remote way we are all related!)

The surrealistic feel is augmented by the thought of the brother who was shot. And I ask myself is any of this real ? Are politicians real? Is there really a live person behind the cardboard cut outs you see on the roads, towering over us at election time? Do those pasty smiles come from a human being? When the people in magazines and movies start to seem more real in fact than your own friends and neighbours you do wonder what is happening to the world.

Then for some reason, I think back to two women I had casually happened to see out of a moving car a few hours earlier. One, walking down the road in a bright yellow sari with a plastic shopping bag in her hand. She looked like she’d been out buying groceries. The other emerged from a building, and walked towards a taxi across the road. The woman in the yellow sari had a very ordinary face and wore spectacles. She had a string of mogra in her hair. The other woman had red-gold dyed hair and wore a fashionable salwaar kameez – a designer brand no doubt. And I must say it was the woman with the mogra in her hair whom I found a more comforting sight. Somehow the groceries in her hand and the flowers in her hair made me feel a bit more alive and real myself.

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