30 Apr

Election Day

Election day today – the largest and most expensive election in the world. We are at dadi’s, getting spoilt in her Raj. She cooks, she directs, she beckons and she reprimands. Kiki is skipping along singing Happy Birthday, in the tune that she has made up all by herself. Dadu hands you gold coins that you think first about sharing with your best friend, Ansh, and later about hiding. Your dad and us go downstairs to vote – you’re still in your pajamas – not happy about this at all, whilst kiki is being fed her raab by Samik. We enter the polling station, I go in to find my number, you watch and learn how your mama gets work done. You declare you don’t want to be prime minister, and you don’t me to be one either. On further discussion, you finally agree that I could once you’re 18 years old.

You get an indelible mark on your finger by the guy who’s doing it for the adults. He refuses to at first, then your mother convinces him that it’s a good thing to teach children the importance of voting and he concedes, while the rest of the polling booth staff smiles as your face lights up with joy. We go back upstairs and you are thrilled to have a bath in the bucket with Papa whilst we pack up and rush everyone because we want to leave before the traffic hits. Dadi rushes upstairs to cut ajwain leaves from her plant for our chutney tomorrow night and an aloe vera stem that we need to get replanted so we can use it for Kiki’s and your baths. We reach home and are each filled with the utter anand that coming home brings, even if it’s only after less than 24 hours.

14 Feb

At the seaside

1. Family and friends
2. Food
3. Beach

In that order. Our favourite things about Bombay. Of course, the list goes on and on.

But well. What we’re saying is, nowt lovelier than spending time at the seaside…

Sometimes, there’s more plastic and people than you know what to do with. But every time, you can find your own little spot of sand castled beach. A little spot where the water is ours, the kids can dig, and I can dream. And take a million pictures of the kids digging.

My idyllic seaside getaway includes rough, winding coastal walks, hidden away smugglers’ caves (some with long lost treasure still in them), derelict lighthouses that might start beaming anytime to save ships too close to demon’s rocks, low roofed, cosy pubs that serve potato wedges, shady sandy coves and shops that are full of art, nautical bits and bobs and ice cream – all of which are found in the next best place in the world – Cornwall. In Bombay, we might not have everything in the check list above, but what we do have is coconut water, pani puri and most importantly, unlimited sunshine 99% of the time – which I think ought to even the odds… somewhat.

As I never tire of saying, possibilities seem endless, dreams suddenly within grasp and all of life’s heaviest burdens insignificant – at the beach. Here’s to spending more time doing the things we adore but think we have forever to do…

A little piece of my heart will always belong to Cornwall…

8 Oct

A bit of boring

My husband was talking about a day being boring and Arjun picked up the word immediately. Anyway he picks up things really quickly, but things he’s not supposed to are doubly quick. My first reaction was to say to the pair of them what my mum always said to us. Only boring people get bored I said. There’s so many things to do and books to read and adventures to have, how can one have anytime to be bored, I recited almost verbatim. Thinking to myself how much of our mums we tend to become. Whether he agreed or for Arjun’s benefit, J said immediately, you’re right mumma, asking Arjun if he’d like to soak some overnight oats with him, and off they dashed to the kitchen.

Soon after, the entire family fell like dominoes to the onslaught of a nasty flu doing the rounds. Flu sounds mild, but this one included temperatures going up to 103 which occurring in an 11 month old is anything but. Coupled with the fact that we were unwell, sleep deprived and had no support of that gorgeous institution called the school, the week was dreary and uninspiring to say the least. I caught myself thinking longingly of that boring afternoon when I was lecturing the boys. You know where I’m going with this. Yes, a bit of boring is nice. Predictability is fabulous. Routine is wonderful. It’s shocking the clarity you get when you’re a proper grown up. It all comes down to us – and our loved ones – being healthy and safe and happy. That’s what my most mysterious self is wishing for and thanking Him for, every single day.

22 Aug

For the love of desks

Desks. I’ve had all sorts. My love affair with them started when I schooled at Bishop Cottons in Bangalore – one of my favourite schools – I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have attended a lot of them. We had those traditional wooden desks that opened and closed, inscribed with the initials of generations of girls before us. The school turned 125 years old when I was there, so there’s no telling how old these desks were. Some were alike, most weren’t – but they all had a comfortable space inside them to keep your things cosily and smelled marvellously woody and musty. I remember arranging all my belongings tidily ‘tucking in’ pencils and erasers with the felt cloth that came with my glasses. In the midst of ink pots and fountain pens nestled in blotting paper – ah the joys of writing with a fountain pen. I would be ever so disappointed when my ‘place’ was changed – and I remember trying to drag my ‘own’ desk across to the new spot more than once rather than make another my own all over again.

Next remarkable desk was the one I ‘built’ in my attic as an 18 year old. Had a mini vintage lamp and a pin board over it and I had hours of anand presiding over this desk. Have had so many when I moved to the UK, a lovely one overlooking the Tay bridge when I was at uni in Scotland with pictures of my nieces tacked above it. My very first desk at ‘work’ was in a company I eventually stayed with for nine years and changed six jobs and five desks within. The first of these was in a tiny room filled with books which I shared with an elderly Englishman who taught me more than he’ll ever know. He and I became the most unlikely of close friends. And the last one was in my very own office – the best one so far, which my friends Tony, Chris and Marty helped arrange and rearrange at least three if not four times. Wooden, grainy and old, ingrained with the work accomplished and thoughts thought of so many before me, it inspired and cheered me on as I did some of my best work. There’s so much that goes on on a desk – much more than work. It could be called the steering wheel of life. A place where one can run their own empire from.

These days I have no one desk, more’s the pity. They’re all borrowed and temporary and unremarkable. It’s a sign of things up in the air, of things needing to be cemented. Oh to settle down, Bombay – how I long for a desk.

2 Aug

Celebrating moments

They say you ought to enjoy the moment. They say pictures are less important than the here and now (speaks in my husband’s voice…). But they also say memories are meant to be celebrated (the other they). How does one remember anything these days? With all the information overload we have every minute of every day…

I say taking pictures is one of the more important things you do. Writing about them too. Luckily for me, this is a break from ‘work’. I’ve always loved documenting things.

The most beautiful things are not associated with money;
they are memories and moments.
If you don’t celebrate those, they can pass you by.

Pictures can be unforgettable, while depicting nothing out of the ordinary. 

Maybe I have to admit – there’s no need to take quite so many. Not just because the cloud is finite even though it appears not to be, but because it’s so much easier to travel light.

21 Jul

Six needles

If we ever move back to the UK, one of the biggest contributing factors will be… mosquitoes.


I’m often told by my staff that we are the most mosquito paranoid family they’ve worked with. It’s a common occurrence in our house to find J brandishing the mosquito zapping racquet in the middle of the night with a torch in the other hand. Arjun is allergic to mosquito bites so one tiny bite gets blown into the size of table tennis ball, accompanied with kids awake in the middle of the night and tears :(.

So much so, when Arjun went through the hitting people phase, and we told him it was wrong to hit anyone – he said to us instantly, ‘except mosquitoes’. And we had to agree.

I tell J, who tracks down the pests with strategic plans akin to robbing a bank, there are bigger problems in the world and if this is his version of hell – he has a great life!

Oh… because mosquitoes have six needles with which they saw into you, drink your blood and sometimes make you sick. Just FYI.

Protected with the Forest Essentials mosquito spray and patches…

14 Jul

Of life’s missions…

So my lovely mother-in-law invited us to an idol installation ceremony. What is that exactly? Well, what it says on the tin. When a temple is brand new, the idols are installed by the people who paid for them (and their families in tow). There are cute little traditions followed like bathing the idols and then actually cementing them in with little spade like things. You are very honored indeed if you’ve been chosen to install them in a place where they stay for all of eternity.

We were more than happy to be part of her special day and partake in all the little ceremonies. I’m not a very religious person but I definitely believe that Hindu temples have pretty awesome vibes. My best friend says they are a cumulation of all the pilgrims’ good intentions and positive thoughts when they walk in through the doors. My mother in law, who is extremely religious, told me doing this was one of her life goals getting ticked. Having an idol that would bless tens of thousands of devotees with her name inscribed below it long after she was gone.

Makes you think doesn’t it. What are our life goals? Are we even close to ticking them off? How it must feel to want and work really hard towards something and see it in flesh and blood or mortar and stone…

29 Jun

Home away from home

We are very lucky to have two beautiful countries we call home. This summer, we visited the UK for the first time as a family of four – and it was every bit as wonderful as I’d imagined it would be. Coming back can be nostagic and make us miss the loveliness on offer here, but equally makes me realise how fortunate we are to live the dream in Bombay.

More about our time in London, Basingstoke and Cornwall soon… leaving you with my favourite family picture taken in the garden of my favourite home in the UK.

27 Jun

Simple monsoon moments

I for one love the rains. When we lived in the UK and everyone would greet each other with a ‘horrible day’ when it was raining, I was all chirpy and happy. Many of my Brit friends said it was just ‘odd’ to be so cheerful when it was raining! But here in Bombay, everyone loves the monsoon season. And rightfully so! The monsoon staples here are tried and tested. Hot chai, something spicy, muddy puddles, flooded roads and Khandala!

21 Jun

Babymoon: Maharaja style!

We were very fortunate indeed to have our second babymoon in the Umaid Bhavan palace, Jodhpur. (Our first was in gorgeous Greece, but that’s another story…). Taj is well known for their hospitality but I have to be honest, they pulled out all stops in pampering us this time.

We would start our days bright and early (courtesy of Arjun) and head downstairs to the most scrumptious breakfasts accompanied by peacocks and live music. Next stop: the pool set in the lush gardens with a splendid view of the palace.

The staff not only designed exquisite meals for us but also engineered afternoon games to keep Arjun occupied so we could get some much needed alone time. It was every bit as romantic as staying in a palace can be!

I love travelling and seeing different parts of the world – but travelling within India is just a different level of luxury and has got to be my absolute favourite.