Monday, 22 October 2012

Yash Chopra, My First Romance Teacher

It was Yash Chopra who first introduced me to the world of romance during my pre teen years. Well, not in person, but through his movie Chandni, which released in 1989, starring my all time favourite actress Sridevi.

At the age of 11, I was hardly concerned to know who Yash Chopra was. All that mattered was watching a Sridevi movie on the big screen. The subtle romance between the lead pair Sridevi and Rishi Kapoor against the backdrop of breathtaking Swiss landscape was a visual treat to my eyes. And Sridevi looked gorgeous as she swayed sensuously in beautiful chiffon sarees during the song Tere Mere Hothon Pe. For the first time I realized that sarees too can make someone look sexy. As the movie progressed, it evoked some strange sensations inside me that I had never felt earlier. It was something new, something inexplicable.

That night, I was never the same person as I was before. All of sudden, I wanted to know more about love, romance and relationships. I wondered, how did love happen? My discussions with school friends started revolving around this subject. I started digging various film magazines to learn the names of other romantic films. I started comprehending the lyrics of the romantic songs. Mills & Boons became my evergreen favourite romantic fiction novels (By the way, I am still a diehard fan of M&B and love to read them whenever I can lay my hands on them).

Since then, any Yash Chopra release was a must watch movie for me. What followed then was a series of movies like Lamhe, Darr, Dil to Pagal Hai and Veer Zara, which further reinstated my penchant for love and romance. And there were movies like Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Mohabbatein, Mujhse Dosti Karoge etc which I watched only because they bore Yash Chopra name in the promos and promised to provide enough fodder for my romantic soul. I was looking forward to watch his last directorial venture Jab Tak Hai Jaan, but his sad demise has dampened my spirits.

Yash Chopra and romance were synonymous to each other. He redefined the essence of romance. He was unknowingly responsible for creating romantic junkies like me. Somewhere deep in my heart, I know that romantic movies wouldn’t be magical again without Yash Chopra.

Sunday, 14 October 2012


Food Trivia
Contrary to the popular notion that samosas are Indian origin snack; they are actually believed to be originated in Persia and commonly known as sambusak in Middle East countries.

(Fried Pastry with Potato Filling)

Preparation Time:45 minutes
Serving Size:10-12 pieces


For stuffing
6-8 medium sized boiled potatoes
Half cup boiled green peas (optional)
1 tbsp fennel seeds (saunf)
1 tbsp salt or as per taste
4 tbsp coriander powder
1 tbsp dry mango powder
1 tbsp garam masala powder
3-4 finely chopped green chillies
½ inch finely chopped ginger
A pinch of turmeric powder (optional)
3 tbsp oil to make stuffing

For dough/outer shell
2 cup maida
1 tbsp oil
Water to knead
1 tsp salt

For frying

  1. Mix maida, oil and salt and knead into dough. Beat it on a hard surface 3-4 times. The dough texture should be medium soft, somewhere between the texture of the dough for chappati and puri. Cover it with a cloth and leave it aside for 15 minutes.
  2. Mash all the boiled potatoes.  Add green peas if you wish. Mix well.
  3. In a frying pan, put 3 tbsp oil. When it gets heated, add fennel seeds.
  4. Once the fennel seeds change their colour, add green chillies and ginger. Fry them for few seconds.
  5. Then add all the spices including salt. Fry all the spices for few seconds.
  6. Add the boiled potato and peas mixture.
  7. Keep roasting till the mixture and spices blend well with each other.
  8. The stuffing is ready when it starts leaving the sides of the pan.
  9. Allow the stuffing to cool down for some time.
  10. Divide the dough into 10-12 medium sized balls.
  11. Take one ball and roll it to a size a little bigger than a puri. Then cut it into 2 equal halves.
  12. Take one part and apply water on the straight edge.
  13. Join this part together to give a shape of a cone, with one straight edge overlapping another one.
  14. Put the 1 tbsp stuffing inside this cone and press it down gently. Add more stuffing if you require but leave some space on the top to close the shell.
  15. Apply little water around the edges of the cone. Close the cone gently and seal it well.
  16. Repeat the same process with the remaining dough and stuffing.
  17. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan until it is hot. Put 2-4 samosas inside the oil and fry them on a slow flame till they start changing the colour. Then increase the flame to medium density and keep frying till the samosas turn golden brown. Place it on a paper towel to drain the excess oil.
  18. Serve it hot with tomato ketch up or any type of chutney.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Indian Woman – To Be or Not To Be

A 17 year old high school teenage girl was gang molested in Guwahati.  If we leave aside the Assam Police who took their own sweet thirty minutes to reach the crime scene; it is the incongruity of the public and the reporters who captured the video, which is more preposterous.

Baghpat  Khap Panchayat in UP bans women under 40 to go for shopping and using mobile phones. As if this was not enough, these women were also ordered to cover their heads whenever they step out of their homes and get escorted after sunset. 

A teenage girl was rescued from abductors and then raped by policemen in UP. A wife was brutally beaten and tortured by her husband in Goa.

These are merely few incidents that I have pointed out here. You pick up any newspaper or an online news website and you will find a number of similar incidents these days. As an Indian woman, I feel ashamed, helpless and petrified. What if any of these happens to me? It does not matter whether I live in a city or a village, whether I am at home or out, whether I am educated or not, whether it is a day or night, whether I am wearing a traditional outfit or a modern one. This can happen to any girl or woman anywhere at any hour.

Sometimes I feel culpable of being a woman. It used to infuriate me when people expressed grief over a girl child's birth. But now I wonder if it is the gender of the baby that they really woe about. In fact it is the constant struggle in the future life of the girl that bothers them. The notion of weaker sex is enforced and strengthened time to time at multitudinous occasions. The woman folk often face wrath of immediate family members or society at large to fight for their rights.

The cases of molestation, rape and domestic violence robs a girl or a woman of their physical well being.  But what about the emotional and psychological trauma which occurs as a result of aftermath? Who addresses the lifetime tribulation of humiliation, fear, defenseless, vulnerability, guilt, rejection, anger and so much more?

I agree that such incidents do happen in the other parts of the world. But if you look deep inside your heart, you will be inclined to accept that these occurrences are more rampant in India. Blame it on the government, social infrastructure of our culture or the mindset of the people, the bottom line is that I feel intimidated and unsafe in my own country as a woman and a mother.

I often ask myself, “Indian woman – To be or not to be"?

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Romancing the Food with Nigella Lawson

I don’t know how many of you have heard of Nigella Lawson.  She is a British food writer and journalist but famously known for her cookery shows and books. I first watched her on BBC channel where she was presenting her own cookery show Nigella's Kitchen. I was simply awestruck and my fingers froze on the remote.

NO. It was not the recipes that caught me unaware but the presenter, Nigella Lawson. My eyes were only watching her style; I was least bothered with what she was cooking.  I felt as if she is romancing the food, slowly seducing her way to the viewers.  She literally flirts with food but at the same time her eyes hold an intimate connection with the audience. She looks coquettish with her voluptuous body and sizzling appearance while she seeks and gives an appetizing pleasure to the food lovers.

She comes across as a warm and charming woman with certain X factor. She can be described as tangy, zesty and fruity just like her diverse recipes. Her dulcet saccharine voice with a teasing tone sounds music to ears. She tempts you, lures you and invites you to taste her ambrosial cuisine. One look at her and you will know that she is an epicurean and an overly food extravagant. When she handpicks her ingredients or breathes in the aroma of fresh fruits, you just want to be with her right there.  Towards the end of the programme, she is shown waking up in the middle of the night to satiate her midnight appetite.  I tell you the hell breaks loose at that one moment. Here is a lady who is not at all shy of indulging her senses into the divine pleasures of food at any ungodly hour.

I can hardly comment about her recipes, but Nigella Lawson herself leaves with you a scrumptious impression and you end up craving for her more.

Cooking Tips

  1. The knife becomes sticky after cutting bhindi. Rub some salt on the knife and wash thoroughly.
  2. If you run short of lemons while making a salad, use a mix of vinegar and black salt. The salad will taste yummier and stay fresher for a long time.
  3. Add a teabag to chickpeas while boiling them in a pressure cooker. You will get the rich dark blackish brown colour.
  4. While cooking onion gravy for the egg curry, sprinkle few drops of water every few seconds. This will give a rich aroma and texture to the dish.
  5. Add some ajwain to the besan batter prepared for the pakoras. They will get a distinct flavor.
  6. Add little milk to the beaten egg for a fluffier omlette.

Sunday, 3 June 2012


Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Serves 1 glass


1 small lemon or half medium size lemon
2 tbsp sugar
½ tbsp black salt
½ tbsp dry mint powder
A pinch of roasted cumin powder
1 glass chilled water
Few ice cubes

  1. Squeeze lemon juice into the glass of water.
  2. Add sugar and black salt. Mix well till they dissolve in the water.
  3. Add dry mint powder and roasted cumin powder. Stir well.
  4. Add ice cubes and serve chilled.

Saturday, 2 June 2012


Food Trivia:
Did you know that cauliflower is available in four different colours: white, purple, green and orange?

(Cauliflower Potato Vegetable in Green Gravy)

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Serving Size: 1 person


1 cup cauliflower florets
½ cup potato diced and cubed
¼ cup fresh or frozen green peas
1 cup green coriander leaves
1 green chilli
¼ inch ginger
1 small clove of garlic
½ tbsp coriander powder
A pinch of garam masala powder
Salt to taste
½ tbsp cumin seeds
A pinch of aesofotida
A pinch of turmeric powder
1 tbsp oil
3 to 4 drops of ghee

  1. Make a paste of green coriander leaves, green chilli, ginger, garlic and coriander powder in a mixer grinder. You can add water to it so that the consistency of paste is on thinner side.
  2. Put a pressure cooker on the gas and add oil.
  3. Once the oil is hot, add aesofotida, cumin seeds and turmeric powder.
  4. When the cumin seeds splutter, add the green paste and stir it till the water gets evaporated.
  5. As soon as the consistency of the green paste thickens, add the cauliflower florets, potato and green peas.
  6. Mix and stir the vegetables till they are coated in the green paste. Add salt.
  7. Add little water, almost to the level of vegetables.
  8. Cover the lid of the pressure cooker and allow 3-4 whistles.
  9. When it cools down, add garam masala.
  10. Add 3 to 4 drops of ghee.
  11. Serve with chappati or rice.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Terrible Two's, A Mother's Woes

My first encounter with the term Terrible Two's was while watching a child care programme on TV. I did not pay much attention to it since my daughter Anushka was just a few months old then. I will cross the bridge when it comes, I had thought.  I have reached the bridge now. Anushka turned two few days back and this birthday has brought a load of new nuisance and surprises with it.

For those who are not aware of this funny jargon, let me make it simpler for you. Terrible Two's is a phase in a child’s development where s/he plainly refuses to understand the meaning of NO and throws some unimaginable tantrums. This so called definition is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more to it if you try to fathom it.

So, how can my daughter be different in that sense?

For a start, Anushka is becoming fiercely independent. She no longer wants her mamma to feed her. She wants to see how she can create a mess with food, eat less and drop more on the floor. She wants to try a particular food with spoon though it is meant to be eaten with hands, chappati being one of the examples.  And if you hand over a spoon to her for dal or vegetables, she would poke the food as long as she can and till it starts dancing out of her plate. She wants to soap herself during the bath. She wants to wear her dresses on her own. This is a good development but exasperating when you know that she will take half an hour for a job which you can do just in 5 minutes!!!

Next, she is jealous of her mamma relaxing and taking a break from household chores. The moment I sit on the sofa and close my eyes for a while, there she comes with her preschool books, nudging me to teach her. Before you think that she is such a sweet child who is interested in books from so early days, hold on. She has learnt every book by heart and knows each picture in and out. I am tired of teaching her same thing repeatedly. And I do not want to buy new books because they will meet the same condition as the old ones –each page dissected from its original place.

What do I say about her mood swings? One moment she goes gaga over the new crayons her papa bought her and next you know, she throws them away, crying at the highest pitch of her voice because mamma refused to let her paint the walls.  And I thought it is only us women who have mood swings thanks to the games that our hormones play!!!

How does she vent out her anger or frustration? She loves to watch us scream in pain when she would appear out of nowhere and bites us anywhere she pleases to choose.  And I must say sometimes she makes interesting choice of our body parts to dig her teeth into.

She is a big time attention seeker. Her highness needs to be entertained and kept engaged every second of her waking hour. Or else, the TV remote control would be snatched away. Newspaper and magazines would be pulled out of our hands. Laptop keyboard would be hammered nonstop till we switch it off. And so on.

Anushka has mastered the art of switching between being an infant and toddler. She would listen to the instructions carefully and execute them thoroughly to your utter surprise. You would think that she has matured. Few minutes later, she would not heed anything I say, no matter what. As if I am talking Latin and Greek to her. As if I am talking much above her intelligence level. She would look innocently at me and just give a million dollar cute smile. I fail to comprehend if she is mocking me.

Exploring things around her is her latest pastime. Fearlessly. The word dangerous does not ring any bell to her. She would precariously sit on the armrest of the sofa seat or climb on the edge of chair to get hold of something on the dining table. As if some sixth sense tells her that there is someone behind her back to look after her. I wish we adults had the same liberty and daring to act before thinking. Her favourite amusement is to play hide and seek games with her mamma. Especially during  brushing the teeth, potty training, changing diapers and change of clothes. She makes me run to and fro after her. I have a gut feeling that she is challenging me into losing all those extra kilos piled up on my body after pregnancy.

This girl drove me crazy even before she was born and hasn’t stopped yet. She was born 17 days after her due date with a C section operation. She would not sleep a single wink during the day during her early months. She crawled at 10 months. She walked at 17 months. And now, she hasn’t started talking much yet. I mean I sometimes feel adult abused by her. I wonder why people just talk about child abuse. What about the mental and physical harassment games that the children play with the adults?

I understand that Anushka is just being her age. It is a normal growing phase for her. I also know when and where to discipline her. These days would soon be sweet memories captured in my heart. It would not be long before I miss her pure and innocent joie de vivreBUT all the things apart, this Terrible Two's thing is giving me a ride of lifetime…

I am going to leave you to read this beautiful and the most appropriate poem on Terrible Two's I came across on a website

There's crayon marks on my walls,
and toys up and down the hall,
There's something that used to be a couch, its true
now it's turned into just a cool-aid stain for two.

This morning i found a toy in my shoe,
but then again i guess that's nothing new,
There's a girl who screams" no, no!"
until my anger starts to show,
There's a girl who wants a cookie and whines until she gets,
I do have to say she's getting good at those little fits!

There's "Sponge Bob Squarepants" on my t.v. all day long,
I swear I'm gonna scream if i hear another "Blues Clues" song!
She tells me NO! when i say it's time to sleep,
and there never seems to be a time she don't make a peep!

Everyone says it's a natural thing she's going through,
But i swear i don't know what I'm gonna do!
These terrible two's are going to kill me!
i guess I'll just hope it gets better when she's three!

Monday, 28 May 2012

Love whom you wed

Come…Fall in Love. I was 17 when I watched Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. I was completely smitten by the characters of Raj and Simran, brilliantly portrayed by Shahrukh Khan and Kajol respectively. I fell head over heels in love with the concept of falling in love. My heart searched for my Raj everywhere I looked around.

17 years later now, I laugh at my naivety of believing that real life is a replica of reel life. I did find my Raj. My husband.  I did fall in love with him. But after marriage. To be precise, arranged marriage.

I was no different from the most of my counterparts whose parents found a "right" match for their daughters. The parents believe that their experience and instincts about a certain guy is far above their children's wish to marry a person of own choice.

Isn’t it hilarious that the same parents who are apprehensive about love before marriage now give a license to love uninhibitedly to the engaged couple?  I can imagine the couple standing in front of the family, their heads bowed down and parents ordering to them  "Go, fall in love". As if it is so easy. So convenient. No big deal.

I would not irk you with the pros and cons of arranged marriage vs love marriage. Personally, it is of the least concern to me. However the bittersweet journey of falling in love with your spouse in an arranged marriage is undoubtedly interesting.

A friend of mine recently got engaged, it has been hardly a fortnight. And she is already discussing about honeymoon plans with her fiancĂ©. I mean, this person whom she is going to marry was a complete stranger to her a few days back and she already claims to be deeply in love with him. Just like that, only in 15 days!!! Could it be possible, she left me pondering.  I agree that there are instances of love at the first sight. But then is it the case in every arranged marriage? At least, I did not fall in love with my husband on the spot. It took me few months to ascertain my feelings for him. There was a sweet progression from getting to know him to loving him. The only hitch being that it would have been difficult to back out, if my feelings would have turned otherwise.

Love after marriage is risky but you want to explore.  You are unsure but you are already committed. Love is in the air but you hesitate to welcome it so soon. You are afraid but you want to trust. You may dislike something but you want to give a second chance. You want to make it work. You are ready to compromise. In short, you agree to be in love and be happy with whom you wed.

Falling in love. Getting married. Living happily ever after. Sounds terrific but elusive. Marriage is a different game altogether.  A couple discovers and rediscovers different aspects of their relationship throughout their marriage. They can grow out of love and they can fall in love all over again with their spouse.

Eventually it is the journey of love and trust which is important in a man woman relationship, how does it matter how and when they fell in love – before or after marriage?

Friday, 25 May 2012

O thou art fairer….

Fairer underarms, Nivea Whitening Deo.  I switched off the TV. I could somehow bear the fairness cream advertisement few minutes earlier. But this was simply too much, beyond my tolerance.

There are a plethora of fairness products available in the market these days. You just name it and you will get plenty to choose from: cream, moisturizer, face wash, deo, talc, body lotion and so on. Pardon me, if I have forgotten to mention any other. I have lost the count actually.

Our country is obsessed with fairer whiter skin and the cosmetic companies have just hit the nail on the head. We are no more slaves to British but they left behind something disgusting.  WHITE IS BETTER THAN BLACK. We still look up to the goras and treat them as the superior species in the name of athithi devo bhava. Do you get a special treatment when you visit their country?

Look at the matrimonial advertisements in the newspapers "wanted slim fair educated bride". The matrimonial sites too are not far behind. The profile information seeks a field called "complexion". Take our daily TV soaps. Few of them are based on a girl with dark complexion; how the society treats her and how her skin colour takes an upper hand over her qualities. What do I say about the beauty pageants? Beauty with a purpose. Why are the most of the contestants usually tall, slim, attractive, good looking and fair? I can hardly think of any Bollywood actress who has a dark complexion, yet commercially successful and popular. It has been always the likes of Aishwarya, Kareena, Katrina, Priyanka etc who take away the applause.

We can’t really blame these cosmetic companies if they are milking profits out of the mindset of the people. Their advertisements more than often have a common theme: "Use our product and you will get an elusive groom, job or success". They are encashing on the most vulnerable emotions of the human nature.

As if this was not enough, we now have fairness products for men as well. I would not be surprised if these companies next bring out the fairness cream, soap, oil or body lotion for the babies!!!

A cousin of mine once argued that these fairness products give hope to a person. I countered argued that they raise a hope for a problem which people never knew existed in the first place. Plus this false hope brings harmful side effects with it.

If people are falling for such illusions, it is a drawback with their thinking. Shilpa Shetty cried "racial discrimination" in Celebrity Big Brother show. A little soul searching will make you realize that we all are racists somewhere in a small corner of our heart. Why don’t we respect an individual for a person s/he is rather than what skin colour s/he is? 

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Hospital Bag for Child Birth

You are close to your delivery due date. You are nervous, scared, anxious, happy and excited. You have lots to take care of before the baby arrives, especially if it is your first baby. You want to be thoroughly prepared for the D day and hence checking off things on your "Things to do" checklist one by one.

Does your checklist include packing a hospital bag for you, your baby and your partner? If no, then don’t panic. If yes, then have you made sure you haven’t missed anything?

The ideal time to pack your hospital bag is around 36 weeks. However if there is a complication in your pregnancy such as risk of premature birth of the baby or if there is a scheduled C section, you may want to pack the bag accordingly.

A small bag pack which is easy and convenient to carry should be enough.  However you can prepare more than one bag according to your convenience and needs:
·         Before and After Birth
·         For you, baby and your partner

It is advisable to check with your hospital if they provide any of the items you plan to pack. This way you can save extra space for other items. The hospital may also give you a do's and don’ts list for packing, which may help you avoid packing unnecessary items.
You may stay in the hospital for about 2 to 5 days. Here is a detailed list of items you can refer to pack in your hospital bag.

·         Hospital pre registration and admission papers
·         Medical reports and birth plan
·         Hospital and other emergency contact details
·         Health insurance cards
·         Cheque book
·         Map to reach hospital
·         Personal journal, if any (optional if there is extra space in your bag)

·         2 to 3 comfortable nightgowns, depending if you want to use hospital gown
·         2 to 3 loose fitting garments
·         Bathrobe
·         Slippers
·         1 to 2 pairs of normal socks
·         1 to 2 pairs of warm socks
·         Maternity items such as nipple cream, nursing bras and nursing pads
·         Regular underwear or C section panties
·         Sanitary pads or maxi pads for post partum bleeding
·         Personal care items such as toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoo, shower gel, hand sanitizer, body soap, lip balm, massage oil, deodorant, comb/hair brush and hair bands
·         Medical prescription and medicines
·         Eyeglasses or contact lens/solution whatever you use
·         Towels
·         Focal point object such as a picture of your children, your favourite music CD, movie DVD, stuffed toy or anything that offers comfort to you.
·         1 comfortable going home outfit along with a comfortable pair of flat shoes
·         Favourite snacks
·         Books/Magazines
·         Cell phone and charger

·         At least 2 pairs of comfortable clothes
·         Basic toiletries
·         Address book
·         Snacks
·         Reading material
·         Cell phone and charger
·         Video Camera/ CD Player/ Laptop
·         Extra Batteries (make sure they are fully charged)
·         Cash

·         1 going home outfit
·         Blanket
·         Cap
·         Socks
·         Mittens
·         Woollen clothes /jacket for the cold weather
·         Pacifier
·         Nursing pillow
·         Bottle feeding items like formula milk, bottles and extra nipples
·         Nappy bag comprising of diapers, wet wipes, nappy disposal bags, diaper rash cream, hand sanitiser, changing pad and an extra pair of clothes
·         Infant car seat

This list will take off burden from your shoulders and will keep you focused for the birth.

Grow up, Indian TV viewers!!!

12th March 2012 was a milestone date in Indian Television industry. The consummation episode of Bade Acche  Lagte Hai (BALH ) was telecasted on Sony TV at 10:30 pm that day.  As far as I know, the 17 minute long love making scene in the episode was first of its kind in any Indian TV soap. The icing to the cake was a lip lock between the lead pair Ram Kapoor and Sakshi Tanwar.

The episode stirred a huge controversy overnight even though the indicative promos were shown well in advance. Was such a hot consummation scene really required in the first place? Definitely yes for Ekta Kapoor to increase the TRPs. But what about the public reaction? Various newspapers and news channels portrayed it as an embarrassment and humiliation to viewers. Some of whom said that they were mortified to watch the episode with their families.

Now my question to such viewers is who asked you to watch this particular episode with your elders, other relatives or kids around? Didn’t you take a clue from the promos?  The promo itself was so bold. Plus BALH is aired after 10 pm with a specific audience in mind.

And I really can’t digest all those blah blah on spoiling the kids, shame to Indian culture and stuff. If so, then what about all those skimpily clad girls in Bollywood movies or items songs like Jalebi bai, Sheela ki jawani, Munni badnam or Channo?  What about sexually suggestive advertisements these days?  What about Sunny Leon's history and semi named photos appearing in the news? What about all those soaps with extra marital affairs and premarital pregnancies?

If the episode has caused such a big mental discomfit, why BALH love making scenes were being replayed on major news channels in the name of controversy? Why did the newspapers publish articles about BALH with a picture of lip lock between the lead actors?

What about Khajuraho temples? What about Kamasutra - India's gift to the world? What about inevitable exposure to social networking sites and internet?

At least the channel was sensitive enough to telecast the episode as a late night show.  Whether people agree to it or not, romance and sex sell. Everyone wants to see both but no one has guts to admit it.

Indian TV is maturing. So should the audience. It is up to them to decide whether they want to perceive BALH consummation episode merely as sex or celebration of love between two people.                         

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

My Domestic Goddess, My Maid

"Leave aside everything else. You should first search for a maid. You would not be able to survive even a single day of your life without them."  A dear friend advised me when I rented an apartment in Pune after my return from Denmark.

I brushed aside her comment mentally since I had stayed in Denmark for 3 years without any domestic help. I certainly used to feel the need of a maid there at times but had gotten used to the Danish way of living. So I was in no hurry to find a maid, albeit I did plan to pamper myself with the luxury of having one.

"Didi, are you new in the neighbourhood? Are you looking for a maid? I am ready to do it."

I couldn’t believe my luck. No knocking at neighbours' door, no request to security at gate, no spreading around the word for a maid. Ha, there she was at my doorstep, just like that.

But my luck didn’t last long. She was gone within few days without any prior notice. Apparently she kept asking for money almost daily and I had refused to meet her frequent demands. Little did I know that it was a lesson for me.

I felt my energy drained out on the very first day of maid's absence. I was hardly able to cope up with cooking, dusting, laundry, dishes, sweeping, mopping AND my 2 year old daughter who needs my undivided attention. You see, there are these little additional chores in India which take away lots of your time. While I was in Denmark, I never had to boil milk before using it, I never had to fill up the water bottles for the refrigerator, I never had to use filtered water for cooking, I never had to dust furniture daily and so many other things. We were yet to buy AC and Washing Machine. It meant that I had to do the laundry as well as tank up the air coolers with water daily. On the top of that, my sweet hubby comes home for lunch which he never did in Denmark.

Calm down, take it easy. You have done it in Denmark; you can do it here also. I assured myself. Second day. Third day. I somehow survived. Fourth day and I was physically shattered. I was desperate now. I panicked. I left messages and humble requests with my neighbours and security that I was in need of a maid. I practically ran after every maid I came across in the building.  Somehow all of them were busy and had no time to take up my work. Their demand was huge but supply was short.

Finally my neighbour's maid agreed to meet me and fixed up an appointment at 3 pm, the time when she was free from her day's work.  I waited for her in anticipation, twitching my fingers and pacing the floor restlessly. Will she or will she not?

And she came. I prepared myself for a tete-a-tete. But it turned out to be my interview. She interviewed about me, family, my earlier whereabouts and everything that did not matter. She listed down her conditions before she could accept me as her employer.

1.       She would take 2 leaves a month.
2.       She would take a long holiday of about 4 to 5 days in a year.
3.       She might be late to work at times in case she needs to go to teacher parents meeting at her children’s school.
4.       She would try her best to arrive on time but she may be 10 to 30 minutes late in case lift is busy or she is chatting with her friends.
5.       She would not prefer me to interfere with her work or follow her around in the house.
6.       She would need one month’s salary or equivalent bonus during Diwali.
7.       She would charge extra payment if I have guests at home for a longer duration.
8.       She would need a cup of tea while she is working.
9.       She would give me a missed call if she has something to inform me and I have to call her back immediately.

And there were some unspoken conditions too which we both knew and understood to be taken for granted.

1.       Meals once in a while
2.       Advance payments
3.       Tips from the guests
4.       Saree on special occasions or festivals

And so on….

Should it not have been the other way around? I mean, it is me who is hiring her. It is me who is going to pay her.  She asked me to take a decision by evening because she had offers from other households also. She had paid me visit just out of courtesy and respect to my neighbour where she worked.

No options left, I accepted her terms and conditions. Phew, she could have even made me sign an employment agreement and I would have gladly signed it at that point of time.

I was amazed at the number of English words she had used during our conversation. She was dressed up elegantly from tip to toe and there was not even a single outline of tiredness on her face. She looked as fresh as morning dew. How on the earth does she manage it? Anyways she promised to report to work from the next day onwards.

My happiness knew no limits when she appeared on my door the next morning, with a purse dangling in one hand and a Nokia touch screen mobile on another. As if some Goddess herself had decided to bless me in person.

Well, it has been few days since she is working now and I must admit she is not so bad at her job. Though it is a different story that she hardly takes half an hour to finish her work and rushes off to another house in a jiffy. She is a chatter box and there is no pause button on her tongue.

 Let me give you a glimpse into some interesting tits bits of our one sided conversation:

"This Nokia phone was given to me by a bachelor for whom I cooked. He liked my cooking. He also sold his computer to me at a cheap price for my kid." (Read: The same logic applies to you also. I expect gifts every now and then)

"Did you use the vessel scrub by any chance? It has some leftover food over it. I like my scrubs neat and spotless." (Read: Keep a separate scrub for me or clean the common one after every use)

"This pressure cooker is not well maintained. You should put lemon water in it and leave it overnight". (Read: If you do not maintain your vessels, it adds to my work. I have to put extra efforts to clean it)

"One of my madams had her in laws staying over a month. I agreed to work only because they were a couple. She did not pay me double salary that month. I left their work." (Read: You better remember this when you have such guests)

My husband has challenged me that if this maid lasts over a year, then he would take me out for a romantic vacation. The wait and watch game has started. Let us see who wins.