There’s a Tablet in the house !

“Can you play the tanpura before you go?”, Amma (my mother) asks. I have just settled her in bed for the night and have switched on the night-light when she makes this request.

“Of course,” I say, reaching for the Tablet kept on the nightstand. I switch on the Tanpura App and within seconds a soft, sonorous drone fills the room. Amma smiles with pleasure and within minutes she’s fast asleep. I wait for a little while before leaving the room, reducing the volume a bit.

“Paati’s (Tamil word for grandmother) asleep?” asks AA, my niece, as I pass her on the way to the kitchen.

“Yes. Let the tanpura play for another 10 minutes or so and then you can use the Tablet if you want to,” I tell her.

“Okayyyyyy, ” AA drawls out her thanks.

“And after you finish, AA, I’d like to use it for a while. I want to catch up with the news,” calls out her mother and my sister-in-law, SV.

“Okayyyyyy. I won’t take more than 10 minutes; just want to check my FB and mail,” AA replies.

When I look in to say goodnight to SV and AA about half-an-hour later, I find that they are sharing earphones and watching something on the Tablet intently. I smile and head for bed thinking how quickly a device that everyone in my family had not shown any interest in, had suddenly become the most convenient and coveted thing in the household.

That device was a 8″ x 5″, book-sized, Dell Venue Tablet sent to me last month as part of the Dell blogger review programme.

Dell Venue Tablet, Product Review

The Dell Venue Tablet

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Pregnant pauses: Conversations in a doctor’s waiting room

Few things terrify me or make me as self-conscious as walking into my doctor’s waiting room.

No, no, it’s not because of my doctor. Dr. V, who is my GP is an absolute darling and I am half in love with him. He’s punctual. He’s thorough. He listens to what I have to say, does not medicate unless absolutely essential. And whenever I’m not well, he calls me up to check on how I’m doing. And never once, in the 15 years that I have known him, has he given me an injection :-) So if my doctor is such a nice guy, why am I so scared of walking into his waiting room? Read on…

One of the places that Dr. V consults from is a clinic near my house. It is not a particularly well-managed clinic, but since the timings and location are convenient for me this is where I go. Dr. V’s consulting hours at this clinic overlaps with that of Dr. K, a hugely popular consulting gynaecologist and a fertility expert. To give you an estimate of her popularity, let us assume that for every patient of Dr. V, there are 30 for Dr. K ! While the former’s patients are mostly elderly men and women, the latter’s patients are women in various stages of pregnancy.

Source: Microsoft Clipart

Now imagine walking into a room full of pregnant women and their accompanying family member/friend and feeling every eye on you. I don’t know about you, but I feel very self-conscious. I didn’t always feel like this, but my visits to the clinic and interactions I’ve had at the waiting room over the years, has made me so.

These have been interactions based on certain assumptions on the other person’s part. Assumptions made automatically, and perhaps even unconsciously, because I am a woman in the reproductive age range, and who is visiting a clinic where a gynaecologist is consulting. Assumptions played out at the clinic in a tragi-comic way, and navigating which has been quite a task as I have found out, starting with the reception desk.

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I am a survivor !

My house looks unnaturally clean and dust free. Well, as clean and dust free as a ground floor flat in Mumbai can possibly look like. The bright and newly painted walls enhance the clean and airy look of the house, as does the freshly polished, gleaming furniture. As I survey the house, I can’t believe how calm and quiet it is. This calm and quiet is not indicative of a storm to come, but of a storm that has passed. A storm called “repair and paint the house” ! And a storm that I have just about survived.

It all began with the realisation that I had ignored my house for 5 years. Mumbai’s humidity and monsoon had taken its toll and something needed to be done. That something included some minor repairs, electrical work, polishing the furniture and, of course, painting. So the contractor was contacted, an estimate of the cost involved (gulp !) taken from him, the final cost haggled over and agreed upon, a work schedule drawn out… and we were good to go. Or so I thought.

Work began on October 1st and from then onwards it was a roller coaster ride of small and big hurdles that would that would test my patience, and sometimes my sanity too. At the end of each day, I would breathe a sigh of relief and say “Ok, I’ve survived, and tomorrow is another day.” Each day brought up something new—some funny, and some not so funny. So, while I am certainly not going to recount every little thing that sent my blood pressure soaring, let me share with you some of the more memorable ones, and the ones that make me say, “I am a survivor”.

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One evening @ the service centre

One doesn’t always have to go seeking entertainment, you know. Sometimes, entertainment comes to you or it just happens around you.

This story begins on the day my loyal cell phone of 5 years finally decided to give up on me.

I was quite heart-broken for we had been through a lot, my cell phone and me. I had clung on to it in spite of its many eccentricities, but that day it just stopped working. And I knew that it could not be repaired.

So off I went and got myself a new one, and that too a smartphone. This also meant that I could not use my old SIM card and would have to visit the nearest outlet of my cell phone service provider to get a micro SIM card.

So there I was waiting for my turn to be served and trying to read. But the snatches of conversations that I overheard was too interesting and after about 10 minutes, I switched off my Kindle and listened unabashedly to the exchanges happening around me.

Like this one.

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The nosy co-passenger

It was going to be a long journey to Mumbai, I told myself, as I surveyed my co-passengers in the train compartment. A family of four, comprising an elderly woman, a young man, a young woman, and a toddler (along with 4 large suitcases and 5 bags), were struggling to adjust their luggage under the seats and themselves on the seats. The elderly woman was the boss. No argument there. She decided how and where the luggage was to be placed, the seating and sleeping arrangements for her family, etc. She bullied the man (her son), was quite nasty to the woman (her daughter-in-law), and kept calling the child (her granddaughter) an idiot. She picked a fight with the coolie and shouted him down with the choicest abuse and sheer volume. She had a “Lalita Pawar” (for information on who she was, click here) kind of look about her with a screechy voice to match, and it didn’t take me long to name her that.

Yes, it was going to be a long journey to Mumbai in a Sleeper Class coach of the Mumbai-bound Madras Express. It was the year 1997 and a beautiful November morning in Chennai and a perfect day for travel. But somehow with the arrival of my Lalita Pawar,  the day just didn’t seem so beautiful any more.

Once settled, Lalita Pawar turned her attention to her co-passengers. And that was my cue to hastily bury my nose in a book. It was a look that I had seen many-a-times during my travels. It was a look that promised to dig out personal information from a co- passenger, particularly a young woman travelling alone. In fact, I could almost see Lalita Pawar rubbing her hands with gleeful anticipation when she saw me. Though I could feel her eyes boring into me, I did not look up from my book.

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What’s in a name?

None of us have a say with what we are named as, do we?

It depends entirely on what our parents (or whoever else had a say in this matter) wanted to name us. But sometimes, even the parents (or whoever else had a say in this matter) do not have a choice in choosing their child(ren)’s name(s). For instance, the Tamil Brahmin (a.k.a. TamBrahm) Iyer community from Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu, follows certain pre-ordained rules. You wouldn’t find these rules in any book or magazine, as it is part of the oral traditions of the community passed down from generation to generation.

I make an attempt (albeit a tongue-in-cheek one) here to codify these “scientific”, and quirky, rules on naming children born to the TamBrahms of Tirunelveli district. My qualifications for doing so are due to my being (i) a TamBrahm from Tirunelveli District, and (ii) a recipient of this oral tradition. :-)

Some common TamBrahm names. Designed with the help of Wordle

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