Monday, January 06, 2014

The F* word

Today Isaac asked me why the F* word was bad? 

This is how the conversation went;

Isaac: Why is F* a bad word?

5 second silence 

Me: Well, do you know how daddies and mommies make babies?

Isaac: They eat a lot, and that makes babies

5 second silence with me not trying to laugh 

Me: Well there is something else that parents need to do to make babies. There is a nice and crude way to describe that process. And F* is just a crude option.

Isaac: OK

There were no further questions. Either I totally confused him, OR I really did answer his question (for now at least), but I am glad it went no further because I don't know if I could have possibly made that leap from 'eating a lot' to actual details of  the birds and the bees. 

That very hungry Caterpillar

One of Augie's favorite books is the "The Very Hungry Caterpillar' and unlike Isaac who obsessed about all the candy that lucky caterpillar got to eat (never mind the stomachache it got as a result of that binging), Augie spends a lot of time on that pre-climatic moment that the caterpillar becomes a caccoon. Only that Augie doesn't think it is a caccoon. He thinks the caterpillar just chose to end his feast by eating one big nut. My favorite moment every evening is when he proclaims, "Look Mummy, caterpillar eating a nut."

Monday, March 30, 2009

'Midnight Ink' on vacation!

I am temporarily retiring this blog site and will be blogging at

Monday, March 09, 2009


I never had such fun at a museum as I did at the permanent Dalí exhibit in St.Petersburg, Florida. It's a tiny museum with about 70 pieces, so you don't need to rush from one room to the next. The exhibit centered on the influence of Sigmund Freud and surrealism on Dalí's work. It was mesmerizing and bizarre, and played on my mind for days.

Here's some "did you know?" stuff that I found interesting -

* When Dali first met Gala, she was married to a surrealist poet and in a ménage à trois, not odd considering that the surrealist movement was anti-family. They met at a weekend party hosted by Dali, by the end of which, Gala had chosen to leave her husband and daughter to stay behind with Dali.
* There were nearly 300 instances of Gala in Dali's paintings, and he intertwined their names when he signed his paintings.
* Dalinean symbols such as the grasshopper, ants, water, elephants and keys appear repetitively through his work - symbolizing death, fear, sexual desire...
* Strangely, Dali was fixated with his brother's death although he was born 9 months after his brother died.

Two paintings that blew my mind - Gala contemplating the Mediterranean Sea which at 20m becomes the portrait of Abraham Lincoln. There is so much to be said about all the little symbols he has inserted into the painting, but you need only to squint your eyes and see the profile of Lincoln to acknowledge Dali's talent.

The second painting is the Hallucinogenic Toreador. The Wiki entry describes it best:"Examined from a distance, the body of the second Venus reveals the face and torso of the toreador (bullfighter). Her breasts as his nose, while her arms transform into his mouth. Their long skirts make up his white shirt and red scarf of the Toreador. The green layer makes up his necktie. His eye is found within the face of the second Venus. The soft white area unveils a tear slipping from his eye."

Florida Americana

The past week in Tampa and Orlando was an immersion in Americana. Here is a sampling -

* Patriotism is hard to miss. We dined at a local diner, which had 9/11 murals on every square inch and table mats with quotes from George W. Bush.

* Driving in Tampa felt like a Hitchcock movie. Often for more miles on end, all we saw were strips of shopping malls with flickering fluorescent signages followed by RV and trailer parks.

* City-dwelling-gourmet-food-snobs that we are, we had little choice but to patronise not one, not two, but *five* all American fast-food/casual dining chains! We indulged in saturated fat gluttony at (drum roll please)...Denny's, Waffle House, Cracker Barrel, Chili's and Sweet Tomatoes. The food was underwhelming and at times resembled a penitentiary meal. Never the less, you can't beat southern comfort food - grits, buttery biscuits and breaded steaks.

* We saw some breath-taking wildlife at Homosassa Springs State Park. Manatees lolling around in the warm spring waters, flamboyant flamingos resting on one leg and America's national bird - the bald headed eagle. Like the park ranger said, "This is the real Florida". Move over Miami!

* Florida has always been a winter haven for retirees, but I wasn't expecting to see so many polite 70 year old toll booth attendants along the highways. Clearly retirement in Florida isn't just about wealthy old men playing golf or angling in some river like I had come to imagine.

* And the quintessential Florida experience would not be complete without a trip to Disney World. For Tariq and I, it was a trip down memory lane, remembering our respective first visit to Disney World in the 80s. Little has changed in 20 years. I had flashes when I could recall what it felt like to be a squealing 8 year old again.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bitter Sweet

I have 3 more days left at the firm and I am filled with such conflicting emotions. Today, it dawned on me that it may be years before I head back to work again.

The primary reason to quit is because Tariq and I think the timing is perfect for some extended travel that we have always talked of doing. Also, being a working mom has been incredibly hard.

When I was pregnant with Isaac, I told myself that having a child would not (and should not) alter my career plans. The last 18 months was an emotional and physical tug of war. At times my mind was on a hamster wheel debating and justifying the dual roles.

I am still making peace with my decision - I am telling myself that my financial independence, the MBA and 8 yrs of work experience is a small trade-off for the larger role I will get to play in Isaac's life.

I am also hoping this year of adventure and travel will open my eyes to other possibilities.

PIC: Tariq shot this sunset picture in Northern Florida where he is cave diving this week.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Isaac hard at work

I shot this home video a couple of weeks back on a lazy Sunday morning. Tariq and I were relaxing while Isaac was hard at work. I love how he tries not to miss any corners.

Isaac's first best friend


Isaac is slowly building his own social life. He spends most afternoons with his first 'best friend' - Sacha who lives in our building.
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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

25 Random Things About Me


The other day I got tagged on FB and was asked to write 25 random things about myself. I found the process of thinking and typing this very therapeutic. Reposting my note here -

1. I lived 12 years in Lagos, Nigeria which I think back of as a dysfunctional childhood. Since armed robbery was commonplace, we lived in heavily guarded apartments, weren't allowed to ride bicycles on the streets or walk anywhere. I didn't have a single Nigerian friend. I studied at an all Indian school, my family moved in an all-Indian social circle and we were discouraged from interacting with our neighbors.

2. When I was 3 years old, I briefly attended pre-K at a Nigerian school where my hair and skin made me a novelty. My classmates pulled my 'straight' hair and pinched my 'brown' skin.

3. I trained in Bharatnatyam for 10 years, rebelled against it in the 10th grade and now regret not having followed through.

4. My love for travel started early. By the time I was 18, I had been to 13 countries and kept detailed journals about it.

5. In school, I wrote an essay about the Taj Mahal without ever having visited it. It won me a UN essay writing contest. Hah!

6. Ever since I was a little girl, I daydreamed endlessly about decor, design and textiles. After visiting a friend’s home, I would mentally rearrange the furniture. In college, I spent hours drawing blueprints of ideal homes.

7. Living on the west side of Manhattan, I have become mesmerized by architecture, particularly French Beaux-Arts buildings built in the late 1800s - early 1900s.

8. My fondest memories and closest friends are from the 5 undergraduate years studying and boarding at a Catholic college run by nuns. We were perpetually sneaking out for parties, breaking into the pantry, scheming our next escapade and getting caught despite the best laid plans!

9. I was a sprinter in school, played softball in college and have run 2 marathons.

10. My childhood love and the man who I idealized for many years, is behind bars for a crime I am not convinced he committed.

11. Growing old scares me. I am 31 and filled with dread that half my life is already over. Being diagnosed of some debilitating disease or becoming physically dependent on life support machines keeps me awake at night.

12. I am undecided about religion and spirituality. I was a devout Christian at one point but now am actively questioning the need for organized religion. I haven't declared myself an atheist or agnostic, but am experimenting with disbelief.

13. I love my adopted country and respect America's ideals of liberty, justice and freedom for all. It’s not perfect - I disagree with its foreign policies and global policing but believe this country is growing in the right direction - growing beyond ignorance, racism and sexism.

14. I am proud to be Indian but loathe the corruption, and general apathy towards infrastructure, poverty, sanitation and civic duty.

15. I am grateful for every romantic relationship I have had (really!). Each one taught me something about myself and crystallized what I both needed and wanted in a partner.

16. I feel lucky to live and work in Manhattan. It is a vibrant, liberal and culturally rich city that I am proud to call home.

17. A couple of times during a Yoga or meditation session, I have had transcendental experiences where I recall subconscious memories.

18. I met Tariq at a trade conference in Boston. I knew right away. Without knowing anything about him, I called my friend and proclaimed, “I have met the man I am going to marry." He is the most handsome, romantic and intelligent man I have ever met, and I am deeply in love.

19. I wasn't into children and lacked any maternal instinct till Isaac came along. I will be the first to admit that it is so much of work, but being a mother has shown me what unconditional love means.

20. I have never liked loud places - clubs, bars, lounges.

21. Materialism annoys me. At 25, I made a conscious decision to steer away from acquiring possessions.

22. I laugh loudly and don’t care what others think about it.

23. I have never bribed anyone (and the few times I tried, it just sounded awkward!)

24. I am very organized – I file, label and index everything.

25. Here’s a profound thought - I spent my 20s focused on building a career only to realize that professional success does not equate to personal happiness. My goal for my 30s is to stop, take stock, and to pursue whatever it is that truly inspires and motivates me.
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Friday, January 30, 2009

Riding the Fairway elevator

Fairway is more of an Upper West side institution than a grocery store. It's been part of our weekend ritual for over 3 years now. It sells the most affordable and genuinely fresh produce sourced from family farms - olives from Greece, cheese from Vermont, fresh orange juice from Florida, farm-raised lamb from New get the idea.

Who says grocery shopping can't be fun? Unlike Whole Foods and other very clinical supermarkets, Fairway is a madhouse. The signs are quirky and cheeky, the butchers are flirty and the check-out queues resemble concert ticket lines. This NYT story has a picture of the elevator that we ride since we have a stroller to push around. It can get as crammed as a Mumbai commuter train, and thank heavens, lasts only 16 seconds!