Monthly Archives: October 2009

>Aisa Waisa Paisa

>So you know how terrible I am at numbers and figures. But it wasn’t always like this. When I was a kid, I used to stash up my pocket money/money given on festivals, birthdays, etc. in different envelopes. So all my ten rupee notes would be in one envelope, twenty rupee notes in another and so on. And I would write the denomination and the number of notes on each envelope, I was so organised!

If you knew me from back then, you would be surprised to see what my wallet looks like now. You will find a note in each pocket of my bag, a little change here and there, a tiny bundle in the wallet. If you ask me at any point of time how much money I’m carrying, you will draw a blank. I never know the exact amount of money in my wallet and only have a vague idea of whether it’s “less” or “more”. And if someone ever flicked from my wallet, I would never know till the volume of notes did not change significantly. Pathetic, I know.

I wasn’t like this till very recently. Even when in college, I was so particular about keeping my cash well. I knew exactly how much money was in my bank account (and thankfully, still know that!), how much I was carrying with me in my wallet and would meticulously maintain the hisab for every penny spent, right down to the two rupees given to the PCO wallah. When I took a 360 degree turn from that and reached where I am right now, I have no idea.

And don’t for a minute think it’s because I have too much of it that I don’t care how much money I have with me. On some days, I feel so poor I can crib about it the whole day, nay, week. Some days, I feel super rich and splurge like there’s no tomorrow. You get the picture? Basically, I’ve begun to suck at money management. I never remember how much money I’ve spent, never remember how much something cost, never remember how much time the money I withdrew from the ATM lasted… I’m just so clueless about money.

And I don’t like it a wee bit. It’s like not knowing how deep the water is – whether it’s good enough to swim through, too much to drown yourself in or just ankle deep. Since I do not manage home finances, living in a joint family as I do, it’s not like I’m leading the family to financial bankruptcy because of my poor money management skills. I only have my limited resources to fool around with and that’s some solace!

I try to rectify my behaviour. Once in a while, I start putting down on paper how much money I spent on what and when, just so that I’m a little more organised, but the plan fizzles out soon enough. The problem is that since I do not have a steady flow of income that comes in at any specific time of the month, I do not have a time frame within which to evaluate my expenses and income. Okay, so that may sound like a lame excuse but it’s an excuse nevertheless.

Thankfully, The Guy is far more sensible with money than I am. He has an exact account of his money, wherever it may be. He knows how much we spent on an outing. He even remembers the prices of things we buy. As a couple we often resolve to budget our expenses, but it hasn’t ever worked out. We just roll along with the times – good or bad as they may be.

So tell me, how do you manage your finances? Do you have a monthly budget? Do you maintain a record of your expenses? Tell me, help me.


>Things that should’ve been posts but were not

>I have a zillion half posts in my head. I’ve written them in my head and left them unfinished (in my head) because I don’t think they’re anything more than half posts. In the absence of any full-fledgedpost, I’ve put together a collection of all these unfinished thoughts for you:

1. I should have written about The Guy and my 12th anniversary in the first week of October. Twelve years of being in love, not being married. But considering that both of us almost forgot about it, a post was not happening. I remembered with shock and shame some time in the afternoon that day how we’d both forgotten all about it, but both, the shock and the shame stayed with me for only a moment and we continued to enjoy a lazy holiday, not giving in to Archies’ card propaganda.

2. I should have also told you about all the Diwali shopping I did. I even clicked some pics to put up here but I wanted to click so many more and did not have the time to. The post was thus killed even before it was born! My pre-Diwali shopping had me going to various exhibitions for home décor and Diwali decorations. I picked up some tee-lights, candle stands, lanterns, garden decorations, a funky red kettle, platters, gifts, new curtains for my room and an onyx vase among other things! Here’s a peek at some of the stuff:

3. I should have shared with you some details of all the Diwali bashes I attended, but they were all so similar and I was so not enthused about them, that it seemed like a purposeless post. I could have, in fact, told you about how out of sorts I was on Diwali, how I celebrated the festival so half-heartedly because some part of me just wasn’t able to get into the spirit of things. Worst of all, I had a severe asthma attack at one of the parties forcing me to return home and spend the rest of the night wheezing and sneezing.

4. Nevertheless, I clicked a lot of pics on Diwali because there’s nothing like good times spent with the family. I dressed up in a silk saree and turned on the bling, even though the sexy blouse I was supposed to wear that day wouldn’t zip up. (No, it wasn’t the fat, it was the darned zip!) Anyway, I’m still bringing this quintessential Diwali pic hoping to brighten things up a little bit here.

5. One of the reasons why I’ve been blogging lesser is because I’ve been in very low spirits of late for reasons I cannot discuss here. It’s been not-so nice on most fronts but I’ve decided to bounce back despite all that. Ain’t in me to be down and out for too long!

6. But among the good things is my determination to get back to writing full throttle. Actually, I’ve been writing all this while but now I’ve made up my mind to earn some money out of it too. I’ve started doing customised cards for special occasions apart from continuing to write for print media. And as a lot of you suggested, I’ve started doing academic assignments online and getting back to my love for literature! I’ve also volunteered to do some writing for an NGO and may even be paid for it. I’m happy!

So what’s up with you?

>A plate full of memories

>Purely Narcotic tagged me to do this very interesting tag about food memories: Five memorable meals ever eaten: It could be anything that makes the meal memorable – the food, the place, the place you were in your life when you ate, the company, the weather, the ambiance – heck, the guy who served the food!”. Considering that I have such a large storehouse of memories, it wouldn’t be difficult to dig out some that are associated with food.

And the first one that comes to mind is of Sakhawat’s kebab and biryani. A lot of you may have heard of Tundey kebabs from Lucknow, but Sakhawat’s kebabs are far better than even Tundey’s! And I happened to have spent a substantial part of my life in a house that was located right opposite Sakhawat’s shop. The evenings at home were characterised by the smell of the kebabs wafting into the house. And it coincided with Dad’s returning from the court. Now, my Dad isn’t a foodie, but he had a weakness for these kebabs. He would come back home and steal me away for a quick bite of kebab and roomali roti and the day’s specialty. It was a great time for us father-daughter to bond and also great food to bond over!

When I was in college, I couldn’t get over the taste of palak paneer that my Mom made: simple, delectable and flavoured with mother’s love! The first meal at home after I returned from hostel had to be palak paneer. Nothing less, nothing more. I know the recipe by heart but I can’t come close to mom’s cooking!

Another palak paneer memory is from Cairns, Australia where I tasted the most amazing Indian food out of home. Surprising but true, the Indian restaurants there whip up better food than most restaurants in India! Or perhaps it tastes better because you’re so far from home. Imagine sitting in an open-air restaurant near the lagoon in Cairns and enjoying palak paneer and naan. It’s the best of both the worlds! I can’t quite forget what that meal tasted like.

And them there are the innumerable club sandwiches that I have had with The Guy. When I started dating him, I was already in love with them – the sandwiches, that is. And he would unfailingly get them packed from The Taj here in Lucknow. I still savour the sandwiches simply because of the memories they bring back of our dates!

My latest food memory isn’t of a food at all – it’s of coffee: cold coffee. It’s a memory that’s in the making. I don’t know how it became part of our routine, but there’s hardly been a day in the last two years when The Guy and I have not had cold coffee together in the morning. We aren’t breakfast people, but coffee is just as good. Some days, I have cold coffee just because I love the time we spend together gulping our mug-fuls and talking of the day ahead. I look forward to those five minutes as the most precious moments of the day.

So what’s your fave food memory? You can answer them, but I’d like to tag:
1. Maid in Malaysia because I’ve read so many of her payasam tales, I know she’ll have lots of food memories to share.
2. Chandni, because her tweets convince me she’s a foodie!
3. Goofy Mumma, who is quite fond of cooking, I guess.
4. Monika Manchanda, because if she can think of starting a food blog, she must have lots to share from her meal memoirs
5. Broom Box, because of the lovely food photography I’ve seen on her blog.

>"But you don’t look married!"

You bet I don’t because when I got married, I didn’t also go for plastic surgery! I’m sure you didn’t either, then why are married women expected to look a certain way?

Why is it that the symbols of wedlock must only be displayed by women in the form of sindoor and mangalsutra, bangles and bichiya while no one even notices the wedding ring on the men? I find it amusing when sweet, plump, inquisitive aunties check you out head to toe to find that one sign that will give away your marital status, if the girth of your waist doesn’t.

Over the years, I have consistently forgotten to wear the sindoor and I have no mangalsutra to flaunt. I wear the bichiya when it suits me and for reasons that have more to do with fashion than anything else. I have put on some weight since I got married almost six years ago, but ever so gradually that most people haven’t noticed it! And therefore, I get that line often, “But you don’t look married!” Not that I’m trying to look single, but I don’t think I need to look married either. I mean, if you know me you would know I’m married and if you don’t, how does it matter?

I’ve often thought of carrying a placard with me stating I’m married since I don’t look it and since people so want to see all married women to look it! Of course, all the while I think that, I have my tongue in cheek, so you needn’t worry about me ever really doing that!

What’s more amusing is that no one will so much as give a second glance to a man to check out whether he’s married or not. The mister will always just be mister – single or otherwise. But even the telephone operator wants to know when you give your name whether you’re Miss or Mrs! Does it make a difference? Is there a thought process behind this inquisitiveness or is it just conditioning?

Could it also be that this is a culture-specific thing? I remember I knew even as a child that a woman who was in a pale-hued saree and not wearing a bindi must be a widow. So it works both ways: while married women are supposed to dress a certain way, widows are also expected to dress a certain way. And to what purpose, I wonder. Why does the society need markers to demarcate married women from single and widowed women? How does a woman’s marital status affect her social status? And how does that affect discrimination against her?

Answers, anyone?

>Are you where you were meant to be?

>Am I where I was meant to be? No, let’s rephrase that question: Am I where others thought I would be? How does it matter what others think, but when they tell you that they never thought you would be doing this now and here, you begin to wonder – where did they think I would be?

Last night, over a long phone conversation with a friend, it came up – this line about ‘I never thought you would be doing this, living like that.’ And I started thinking of how I’ve actually lived my life in defiance of most expectations of me, unintentionally though. I haven’t lived up to the idea of ‘me’ that various people formed in their heads. How funny, no?

I have friends whom I lived with in Delhi and who cannot understand how I can live in Lucknow, live in a joint family, live knowing what I have left behind. They cannot imagine how I live like a party-hopper because they haven’t seen me live like one. I have a former editor who can’t tell me enough what a fool I have been for giving up the opportunities that I did. I have a family that tells me I’m not following my calling in life; members of that family tell me how law should have been my calling in life. I have school friends who think nothing of pointing out how I should give it all up (whatever they think ‘all’ encompasses) to be a mother. I have other friends who think I’m successful, pioneering, talented and quite close to the top doing what I was meant to be doing!

How strange that all those different pictures are of me! How did I morph into so many things at the same time and none of them at all?

When I was young, very foolish and very young, I wanted to be nothing but rich. Actually, I always wanted to be well-educated and rich. Polished and rich. Knowledgeable and rich. Smart and rich. And I never then thought I would work to be rich! Somewhere down the line the idea of financial independence took hold in my head and I wanted to do something. At some point, I wanted to be a lawyer but never wanted it enough. I had no idea what I could do to be rich, but I knew that the one thing I could do reasonably well was write. Things fell into place and I started writing. I was still not rich. I gave up writing after some time to be rich. Now I’m neither rich nor a full time writer! Of course, I’m still trying my luck at both! I always wanted to be my own boss and at least, that I am.

I never wanted to live in Lucknow. I loved this city always but I knew I could do so much better if I were in a place like Delhi. I met The Guy, married him and settled down in Lucknow. I was not meant to be here and yet I am. I did not want to live in a joint family. I live in one with six members now! How come I ended up doing everything I was not meant to? And yet, it never occurs to me till someone points it out to me…

Of course, we rarely live our lives that way we thought we would as kids. What did you want to be when you were a child? What did others think you would be? Are you there?