Saturday, November 14, 2020

What heart emojis actually mean

1. Regular red heart when you "truly love" someone or are being passive aggressive and want to communicate a gentle yet supremely effective "fuck off". 

2. Purple heart when someone acts courageously and makes a foolish choice but since you're a friend you support their idiocy. 

3. Orange when someone supports someone who I shall not name and they're your friend or father and you're basically obliged to love them. 

4. Black when it's a love hate relationship and you're trying to tell them that without actually offending them and hoping for a red heart in return (not the passive aggressive one). 

5. White when you wish someone peace and love but the platonic kind, you know what I mean right. 6. Heart with a dot underneath when you want to communicate that the other person is haemorrhaging all the love you have for them and they better get their act together pronto or else. 

7. Two small separate hearts communicates that you love them but refuse to hug them because COVID baby. 

8. Two hearts kinda doing a jig together when you don't care if you get COVID from hugging, kissing or being outright lewd with them because - "If I'm gonna get the bastard COVID baby it's gotta be your COVID" 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Sherlock my baby cat

First of all here's a collection of videos of Sherlock, the kitten  in case I forget to add it later! 

This little guy was born on the 2nd of September 2020 in Connie Shabu's house and I shall get into all the annoying little details of how he finally became my youngest. 

So to start with I always thought cats hate me. I was once bit and had to get the necessary shots. A few kittens scratched me wildly in Cyprus. I still liked them because let's face it they're just so cute. 

I once came across a ginger kitten barely a few weeks old who kept following me after I got out of my favourite Kebab restaurant. (If you're ever in Dubai, I'll take you there!) I picked him up gingerly knowing full well that I was almost guaranteed to be bit but I have a terribly stupid amount of courage when it comes to things I love. He didn't bite. He didn't jump out of my arms but I couldn't convince Anshuman to take him home. It broke my heart that I couldn't rescue that little fellow.

Fast forward to almost a year later. I kept gnawing at my husband's brain and even though he held on to his conviction that he hates cats for the longest time, in the end I cajoled him into allowing me to try "Trial adoption". I researched all over Facebook rescue pages and after talking to a few people destiny led me to a Godsend angel called Connie. A stray cat had given birth to four identical kittens (3 girls and a boy) in her house and she was trying to find homes for them. I'm terrible with names and of course I forgot hers . I saved her number as B&W Cat Lady. We had a good laugh about it when we connected on the phone. 

I asked her to give me the most laid back kitten she had. She recommended the male as he seemed the most friendly of the lot. She came home and we could barely see each other's faces because of bastard Covid. My boy got out of the crate and seemed comfortable in my arms. He went around all over the house meowing away. I was just amazed at how tiny he was and is. He seemed quite comfortable and explored the living room at leisure. 

And then I let the dogs out of the bedroom where they had been locked up and all hell broke loose for a couple of minutes. The poor kitten hid under the bar and refused to come out. He stayed there for almost half a day and I only saw his face when Anshuman came home and gave him some treats. I mean I tried giving him treats but he bit me. I expected that. It really upset me at the time. I love cats and they bite me. My husband does NOT love them and they curl up against him like he's some cat whisperer. I'm tenacious if nothing else so I patiently waited for my turn. Anshuman loves Sherlock. I thought it would take him seven days to fall in love with a kitten. It took him less than seven minutes. Please watch the video for proof.

It took about three days for Sherlock (I named him at 3 am one night. All good ideas hit you in that mildly anaesthetised state at 3 am) to come out of hiding and begin to interact with my two dogs. He obviously has no idea how small he is. I suspect he knows how sharp his nails are so he slapped everybody every time anyone came close to him. My poor Pablo had it the worst because he was dying to play with Sherlock and the little midget was not having it. 

By the end of his first week Sherlock fell in love with Mili my Jack Russell baby. She didn't try to play with him even once but she patiently tolerated his attentions and now he regularly cuddles up with her and takes long naps. The only time I can actually cuddle him is when he is fast asleep. Kisses are a big no no but I kiss him anyway. Of course he rockets out of my grip in about three seconds of realising that the kisses have begun. I'll teach him. Pablo, my French Bulldog used to hate being kissed as a puppy. I taught him. Now he takes it like a man for about thirty seconds then rockets out of my grip.

Sherlock is my dream kitten. I saw about a million cat videos and he did one better than all of them put together. He is the funniest, most curious and mildly weird boy. The first few days he constantly 'talked'. I swear I got tired of talking to him because if I stopped responding, he just 'talked' louder. I think he just had a lot to say about everything he saw during that time. He still talks but a lot lesser. Now he talks when he is pooping or eating. Don't ask. I don't know why he's so happy doing those things and needs to express himself. I'm just glad he is eating well and his digestive system is in perfect shape and he is healthy and happy.

Pablo and Sherlock are fairly good friends now and even though love is distant it is possible, I think. I hope. Last but not the least, I realised my dream of being a cat mommy. I now have three adorable people to love and kiss and squish and take good care of. Touchwood, I'm so blessed. If you don't believe any of what I just said, please watch this.

Sunday, October 04, 2020

Name and nicknames

I was born twelve and a half pounds and drank half a kilo of cow's milk, unwatered of course because I wouldn't stop bawling like a famished banshee and my poor mother wasn't able to feed me yet. 
Mummy describes my features as - "You were so fat you didn't have any features on your face. Two tiny holes for a nose. One slightly bigger hole for a mouth which constantly howled and ate. And two thin slits for eyes. So all in all it was a sphere with a few holes thrown in. All the Doctors came to see the fattest baby ever born in the Municipal Hospital in Muzaffernagar." Yes, I've always been a bit of a freak show.
But I digress from the title of this post. I was named Dimple, not because I had an actual dimple but after Dimple Kapadia who made her debut in the film Bobby with Rishi Kapoor. One of my parents must have liked her and found the name cute, but their parental instincts were bang on because dutifully in my teenage a little dimple appeared on my right cheek and stayed there. 
So for four years I only had that name but then I had to be put in school and another more 'formal' and 'appropriate' name had to be found. They settled on Parul and I'm a hundred percent certain they had no idea what my name actually meant. I guess it sounded right and appropriate and formal enough. Almost fourteen years later I joined the esteemed National Institute of Design as a "Facchad" or Fresher. One after another senior asked me what my name meant. I faintly remembered someone once saying it meant 'beautiful' so I hesitated and blurted that out many times. Of course it doesn't mean beautiful. It means graceful which is kinda the same thing but not quite. It is in fact the name of a flower in that picture up there. I've seen a lot of yellow flowers exactly like that in Dubai and frankly I like them better. Yesterday I googled Parul and found the below on Wikipedia. 
"Parul is a five-petaled flower known for its beauty. The name also appears in the Bengali folk tale Saat Bhai Champa. In the tale, a king has seven sons and one daughter. Towards the end of the story the children turn into flowers. The daughter was the flower "Parul". The story and the flower Parul also feature in Rabindranath Tagore's Rabindra sangeet. The folk tale is called Seven Champa Brothers and One Sister Parul. Parul means graceful. In the Sanskrit language "Parul" means 'A cute nature girl' aka Dr. Parul Kakar. The linguistic origins of the name are uncertain—some claim it is Sanskrit. More typically it is assumed to be of Bengali origin."
'A cute nature girl'? No. I think that's just Dr. Parul Kakar assuming she's cute.
 As the Bangla folktale goes a king had three queens and no children.  A "Sadhu" (ascetic) gave him three magical mangoes and only the youngest queen had complete faith in the magic. While the two queens remained childless despite eating the mangoes, the youngest gave birth to a whopping seven little boys. The jealous queens buried all of them in the royal garden. The eighth child, a little girl was born a little later and the maid took her away before a certain live burial. The little girl Parul grew up in the forest and eventually avenged her brothers and brought them back to human form from the flowers they had become where they were buried.
Now, that little tale made me smile. More power to little girls who grow up to be powerful avenging angels! While I was in Ahmedabad I heard my name called out many times and when I looked around, more often than not there was a harried parent running after a little girl wandering around oblivious of the dangers of being a little girl in the big bad world all on her own. Parul is a very popular Gujrati name and I hope all those little Paruls grew up to be powerful women. Some of my Bengali friends know and can sing that song in the folk tale in which my name is mentioned. Even my mum in law can sing that song! 
It is traditional in Bengali families to give a child a 'Bhalo naam' or formal name and a 'Daak naam' name or a nickname. People don't do that a lot these days but I think it would be nice if they did. So, I have an actress's name and a Bengali or Gujrati name but I'm none of those things and yet they both somehow make sense.
Over the years I've been given many nicknames for various reasons and I thought it would be fun to put them all down.
My mom has called me Dabba(box) and Dabbi(little box) and Rasmalai, Balushahi, Rasgulla (Indian dessert) at different points in time because I think she saw me collecting coins in matchboxes and because she thought I was sweet. Well, thanks mother I'm diabetic now and I still collect things and boxes and things in boxes.
My father affectionately calls me 'Kutteyyy' still. So, basically his way of expressing affection is calling me 'dog'. But it's the way he says it. I mean I call my French Bulldog Pablo 'Pig'. But it's the way I say it. Plus Pablo in fact has a pig's soul.
My father has three best friends from his college days. I call them Jaggi, Raju and Lambu chacha ( that's not his real name. He is 6ft 3in tall). Jaggi chacha used to call me 'Dushtani' (loosely translated - 'naughty girl') just so I'd complain to my mother,"Mummy, Chacha 'Duthani' keh raha hai!!" and everyone would laugh so he said it a lot.
No one gave me any nicknames in school although I was often called Gahlot because I was in the same class with Parul Sahai. Goes without saying that we always call each other by Surname to this day. We sat together for a whole year in 10th standard and our Mathematics teacher Mr Mudassar, a really really sweet and a really really patient man with a lisp would invariably call out,"PAUUL!!" and we would get interrupted during some inane and yet inexplicably crucial conversation we were having and say in unison"YES, SIR!" He would then specify the Surname which was invariably Gahlot. Sahai was a very diligent student. She was very good at numbers. I, on the other hand threw away my Math textbook with glee at the end of final exams every year. I scored a glorious 52/100 in the 10th Board exams. You cannot even imagine the extent of my joy at that number 52. I seriously couldn't bring myself to genuinely care about X or Y. And I have zero memory of what I scored in all other subjects. That's genuine hate.
And then came NID and the nicknames pretty much kept flowing all through the years I spent there. I'm just going to number them because there are too many.
1. Feedback Polly ~ Shaz Ahmed or Kaushik Sarkar or both from my batch came up with that name because I had this habit of going to everyone's table and saying something or the other about whatever they were working on. I think it must have been really annoying for my batch mates who had to put up with unsolicited feedback, hence the nickname. It used to upset me a lot back then but now I think it's so funny. I would love to officially apologise to the batch of '93 but of course I won't.
2. Parules and regulations, Foot rule, Ruler ~ Tarundeep Girdher my senior called me all of that because he is a really funny guy like almost all Libra men I know. His birthday must be around the corner.
3. Rul ~ Rajib Ghosh called me that because he was always too busy working to pronounce my whole name. Now he is busy being a big shot at Microsoft and I'm still Rul. The bugger won't even bother writing a capital R so it's just rul. Damn you, Gajib Rosh!
4. Prool ~ Most of my batch mates still call me that. I think it's just easier to pronounce and it's fun yelling,"PROOOOL!!!"
5. Drac ~ My roommate for two years Shailaja Shah still calls me that. Drac is short for Dracula. I have irregular front teeth reminiscent of the fictional vampire. I have always liked my irregular teeth as they are and the thought of having them corrected never crossed my mind. My mother thought so too and despite many suggestions to the contrary from people over the years fortunately she let me have my original Dracula teeth for life.
6. Fila ~ Ripul Kumar, my senior and overall terribly nice guy still calls me that because I had two Fila sweatshirts that I absolutely loved and spent most of my winters in. He was in the photography club and enlarged a picture of me in the dark room because I pestered him incessantly. I was not in the club and even though I knew the basics of developing black and white film, I would have definitely messed up even if I could sneak into the dark room which was kept padlocked. So, he did make that print. I still have it. Thank you, Rips!
7. Pearl, Desert rose ~ Deborah Zama calls me that. Mostly because Pearl sounds like Parul, not because I'm some fresh water pearl. And desert is where I live now. Rose because Debbie is a sweetheart and I don't ever remember her saying a single mean word about anyone. She's just that nice. And everyone's heard Sting's 'Desert rose'. I should find that on YouTube and listen to it.
8. Shakkarparul ~ I'm not allowed to reveal anything about this person because he/she is an intensely private person and I don't want to lose a very dear friend. All I can say is it's a South Indian who loves Shakkarparas a North Indian sweet which came up in conversation and now I'm Shakkarparul. This has to be one of my favourite nicknames though.
9. Pa ~ Amit Rastogi, the man responsible for helping a lot of us NIDians make some easy moolah selling Cellforce cellphones on the streets of Ahmedabad calls me that because unlike my friend Rajib Ghosh he is too lazy to pronounce the rul.
10. P ~ This isn't a nickname but a lot of people do this especially when they are texting. I don't know why but I really wish they wouldn't. I mean take a cue from the busy Rajib or the lazy Amit and just call me Pa or rul. Parul is still the best option though. And P sounds like Pee and no one wants to be called a body fluid. I mean imagine if suddenly one day I started calling you 'sweat' or 'spit' or 'blood' or 'semen'? 
That ends the college years.
Now moving on to the Anshuman. He has a lot of nicknames he uses for me including Kaaloo, Daantu, Little Baby Babaghanoush (his favourite), Parulena (my favourite), Bhaloo (Not my favourite). I must share the story of how Anshuman got his name. His parents took him to school and told the teacher his name was Abhishek. "No, it is Anshuman Gaikumar (Anshuman Gaikwad, the famous cricketer)" So, he named himself in true Aries style.
My friend Kuntal Bhogilal used to call me Bulbul. I had forgotten all about it but then my bro in law Mukul recently reminded me and inspired this post. Apparently Kuntal called me that because of my high decible phone voice. I still have a high decible phone voice. How else would anyone know how happy I am to talk to them. I like Bulbuls. There are two that come to the garden everyday and the only ones intelligent enough to know that there's food in the bird feeder. Sparrows are rather daft.
Anshuman's first cousin and my close long distance friend calls me Turtle for obvious reasons. I'm slow and sometimes I prefer to hide rather than have actual conversations with people.
And the last is Athene. My ICQ chat name was Athene, my favourite Greek Goddess. She is the Goddess of war, wisdom and skill who aids and inspires Odysseus in battle. She appears in his dreams and sometimes disguises herself at crucial moments when he needs her help. Athene is my role model. Of course I have zero attributes that she does. But hey a woman can dream! And you! Yes, you millennial! ICQ was a chat software in the Nineties! And read Odyssey!

Tuesday, August 04, 2020



In the smallest crevices of my flesh
Pain has made a comfortable home
It remains with me
It joins my flesh and bones
Flows through my blood
And my heart does to it what a spongy duster does to a blackboard.

Silence is the name of another family friend
It creates space of an infinite universe
Between the heart and the mind
This silence is like fungus in my mouth
It only grows voluminous and demonic
It reminds me wordlessly of all the noise.

And how can I forget love
That tiny expanse of five minute morning
That little peace of half an hour darkness
That memory of a smile walking away from me
That promise I can believe in.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Repeat Offender Syndrome

Live to tell ~ Madonna

Some of us have a habit of listening to the same song till we literally get sick if we hear it one more time. I call it the 'Repeat Offender Syndrome'. I've had it for a very long time. I remember torturing my childhood friend Sushmita with Live to Tell by Madonna for more than a hundred times at one go. I was lying on the bed in my parents' room and the cassette player was on the floor and when the song finished I hit 'stop', 'rewind' and 'play' in exact time for the song to begin again. Sushmita still hasn't forgotten that evening. She will never forget that song or me in a hurry.

I'm ready ~ Bryan Adams

I was sitting in the air conditioned Animation studio at NID at some point in the late Nineties and this song played live by Bryan Adams was on repeat by someone who might have been my musical soulmate. I have no recollection of who it was but I'm forever grateful to that person for giving me the opportunity to fall in love with this beautiful song. The next day I jumped into an auto rickshaw and ran into the music shop on CG Road and bought the Bryan Adams Unplugged album which in fact contains many other gems like "If ya wanna be bad - ya gotta be good" of course you've got to try to be good but if you want to be bad you have Got To Be good. I love that.

I jumped into an auto again and directly inserted the cassette into my Sony Mono Cassette Player. It was a red little thing with a big sound which never ever cracked no matter how much I cranked up the volume. I had been kicked out of the hostel for not having finished my course in time so I lived in a basement room with a tiny window through which the sun never shone. I had zero issues with that fact because it allowed me to sleep for an inordinate amount of time whenever the heck I wanted. But I digress.

I had a talent for being able to hit 'stop', 'rewind' and 'play' in exact time and I used it in abundance and numerous times found myself slow dancing to this tune all by my lonely self with an imaginary man. This unique talent of course became redundant along with my many other talents as technology changed with time. But there must be something to that famous fanda "When you really wish for something with your whole heart the universe conspires to bestow it upon you" because soon after I met my future husband. And yes, we did dance to this song many times and still do.

I was listening to it in the car yesterday and I thought to myself why I got so addicted to the song and never ever got sick of it. I think it's the low whistle by Davy Spillane who collaborated with Adams on the album and the live orchestra consisting of students from Julliard. I mean the words are ordinary but Adams sings them with such passion and of course Spillane's instrumental brilliance kills me. Every single time.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Birthday ballad and Lockdown love song

Does that look like the face of a forty six year old? I don't know, but what I do know is that I look like I spent every second of every minute of my life in grave pain when I wake up in the morning every fucking day. (Don't worry I've had a pretty interesting and mostly happy life) But the thing is my dogs and my husband are for some reason convinced that I'm the most beautiful woman in the world and I'm more than happy to encourage their love soaked delusions on a daily basis.

To be completely honest I haven't looked at my face for more than a few seconds a day ever since the bloody virus showed up and most of the world had to go under house arrest. But I'm one of those people who loved the opportunity to be at home and live with a set routine day in and day out, never ever leaving the divine comfort of my home. So, I completely stopped caring about what I looked like. The thing is you only get worried about how you look when you step out in public and actually want to resemble a human being and a woman. Lockdown to me meant the ultimate freedom of never having to wear a bra. It might be shocking to some of you but most of us women hate those things. I'd love it if men had to wear a corset every single day of their life. Then we'll talk.

But then, June 23rd, 2020 began approaching and I began to get anxious at the thought of looking at the mirror more than a few seconds so I decided to get all dolled up but I'll be damned if I'm going to go to the salon to get "unwanted" hair removed from my body. And as you can see, the universe presented me with two beautiful zits on my face for my birthday and no amount of concealer or foundation could hide them. It's been four days and they are still present and correct but whenever I get a pesky zit, I always remember my dear friend Cybill (He's a boy) who suffered from acne and often said with a wonderful smile,"I love my pimples." He's all grown up and a father of two gorgeous girls and just as handsome as he was in college minus the acne.

So you know, the lockdown has been wonderful because I care so little about how I'm perceived by the world. And my hope is that, that will continue to be the case when I do come out of voluntary hibernation.

The day began with a flurry of messages on various apps but Facebook decided to behave badly and even though I tried my best to respond to all the wishes I missed some because they just would not appear and that little frustrating circle kept rotating like a useless broken wheel. My mother in law beat my mother and phoned me at exactly I0:30pm which is exactly 12:00 midnight in India. This has never happened before and when I asked my mother how could she possibly get half an hour late in wishing me, she replied with an embarrassed giggle," Main Crime Patrol dekhte dekhte late ho gai!" (I got late because I got engrossed watching Crime Patrol) My mother's favourite TV shows include the aforementioned and Savdhaan India, both fictionalised versions of true crime stories. She binge watches them. I’m  convinced that my morbid curiosity about serial killers is probably the fault of my genes inherited from her.

The doorbell rang and I received a little bag with bath salts, bath bombs, soap and two pieces of my favourite Pave chocolate cake from Shakespeare cafe (Just in case you ever want to buy me cake). There was a note with it and that's my favourite part of the gifts Natasha sent me. I miss handwritten notes and letters so terribly. It is one of my deepest wishes to receive a letter in the mail. People my age will understand what it means to read a lovingly written letter by someone who cared enough to spend the time and make the effort. I once started writing a letter to my father when I was distressed about something while studying at NID. I never sent it because I knew how worried he would be but the act of writing it consoled me to such an extent that there was really no need to mail it to him.

The doorbell rang again after a while and these flowers arrived with a note that simply said, "NIKKIPON!" This word has a very interesting history. When my husband and brother in law were kids one of them stuck his hand in a shoe and gently caressed the other's arm with the sole and kept saying,"Nikkipon! Nikkipon! Nikkipon!" Kids do the darndest things so it's pointless trying to make sense of it all the time. There's no logic.

Anshuman continued this time tested method of irritating a person silly with me. And believe me it is sooo irritating and yet somehow so incredibly funny to the person who's doing the irritating. I opened up the plastic wrapping and a litre of water poured out onto the dining table and the floor. I mopped and cleaned. I had to cut the stems of the flowers for which I used a scissor and ended up cutting my finger which bled all 

over the kitchen counter. I praised myself for having organised the medicine cabinet recently making it easy to find a band aid. Prior to the said organisation, I knew I had about a Hundred and Twenty Seven bandaids, I just didn't have a way of locating one before bleeding out and possibly dying. And no that's not the infamous "flipping the finger". I swear I just wanted my friends to know I hurt myself on my birthday so they would go,"Awww!" They're the only ones with enough patience to read my blog and understand my deep seated need for being mollycoddled.

The flowers withered eventually and I think after telling me to collect the dried flowers, Anshuman put them in a blender and hit frappe. They ended up in a pretty ceramic bowl smelling like lavender because he poured essential oil into the mix so essentially I now have pot pourri masala which smells like Lavender. I like Lavender and last I heard Anshuman burnt the masala in my stone oil diffuser.

It smelled nice and I'm used to my husband's penchant for pyrotechnics. Moral of the story is that I loved the flowers he sent. I loved the purple roses and the purple gerberas and the white roses and the lone red rose bud which got stuck in there accidentally by the florist. Most of all I loved all the effort he put into thinking about how he could make them last as long as possible. I mean he grinded them into a fine powder but I could appreciate the thought.
Natasha sent me two pieces of cake. I ate one before Anshuman got home from work. I cut the other one and blew out the candle and made a wish and sang the birthday song for myself along with the husband. I always sing for myself on my birthday and am often the loudest. I mean, why wouldn't you sing for yourself? You must. I fed Anshuman a tiny piece of cake and ate the rest of it. I'm not good at sharing things. I can give away my things very easily but I don't do well at all with sharing. It still kills me when I have to share food because I'm an adult. I have declared more than once at a restaurant that I will not share my Creme Brulee. I'd rather get six separate desserts than share mine.

And the last thing that happened that night was that I smelled something burning very faintly. I went downstairs to the kitchen and realised that I was craving a late night Maggi and had left it simmering on low flame. There was smoke everywhere and I had to open all the windows. The pot was charred so I threw it out. I decided to stay downstairs in the heat and humidity without air conditioning on one of the hottest nights of the year. I sat on the couch sweating for almost three hours and eventually closed the windows thinking Anshuman will never find out but when I did a sniff check the distinct fragrance of burnt noodles hung in the air like a little kid who always tattles on his naughty classmates.

It's really quite useless trying to hide things from someone who knows me like the back of his hand so I wrote him a WhatsApp message at 4:00am on 24th June, 2020 apologising for being an idiot.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

For the love of cricket

I used to despise cricket for a very long time. At first I was just disinterested but I think the intense hatred specifically began one evening in Simla on our honeymoon in the month of October, in the year 2000 when we were supposed to be going out and my newly minted husband was so engrossed in a cricket match on TV that he paid zero attention to the fact that it was getting late and that words were falling out of my mouth. So, naturally I blew up at him, following which I began to comb my hair and he took a picture of me. I know that the sequence of events sounds bizarre but that's how things happen in real life as opposed to Korean Romance Dramas. When I saw that picture after it was developed I hated it and complained so much about why he would shake the camera and take a picture of me so out of focus. Then Mukul, my cinematographer brother in law from the esteemed FTII saw it and instantly loved it. I had to look at it again due to Mukul's stamp of approval which I always take very seriously especially about image making. Here's that picture. I fell in love with it. Eventually. I stuck it in an album that I made myself painstakingly, and lovingly captioned it 'Caught looking in the mirror at the Peter Hoff Hotel in Simla'. Clearly I didn't need the memory of his cricket watching and my consequent eruption in my brain but as you now know, it fucking stayed.

In the following years Anshuman continued to watch cricket and I continued to sulk/blow up at him. Then one day I glanced at this big, blonde and cute dork called Andrew Flintoff on the screen and was instantly smitten. I found it really adorable the way his tongue was always hanging out of his mouth. Actually, I later read that he thinks  he is ugly and it's possible that most people would agree. But I think I liked him just the way I would like a big furry blonde Golden Retriever pup with his tongue hanging out looking utterly adorable. My husband, who happens to be extremely shrewd took this opportunity to watch any match where a 'white' team was playing by repeatedly reassuring me that,"Andrew Flintoff will definitely bowl the next over, baby! Just wait!" And that's how I began watching cricket in all earnestness waiting for my sweet Freddie to show up on the screen with his tongue duly hanging out. Anshuman owes this man an immense debt and acknowledges it. Freddie actually has a house in Dubai and spends a great deal of time here but I've never had the pleasure of seeing him in person. One day.

Over the years I began to understand the very basics of cricket. I mean I still don't know what on side or off side is and I can't tell when someone gets dismissed LBW. I know they show it in the graphics and all that technical jazz but I'm always very impressed when Anshuman almost always gets the LBW decision right. Of course he played cricket all through school and was Captain of the college team so he has a lot of experience. I still remember him playing an inter office indoor cricket match. He hit a six and I was so thrilled that I was jumping all over yelling his name like a groupie before I noticed that everyone including his colleagues were watching and that I was no longer a teenager suited to such behaviour and that I was an embarrassment to my husband. I'm still so happy thinking about that day and have never regretted my actions. Not once.

I think cricket commentary might be the most soothing sound second only to the waves in the sea. Sunil Gavaskar is my favourite commentator. He has an extensive vocabulary and a voice that has the ability to lull me to sleep on the sofa. As someone once observed Test cricket commentary can have an even more soporific effect. Thank you so much for having been my companion on many sunny days.

Sri Lanka is one of my all time favourite places. If I could, I would retire amidst the lush green beauty of Nuwaraeliya or at least see it again. My favourite Sri Lankan player is Sanath Jaisurya. I have zero memory of ever having seen him play but what I do remember and love is his billion watt smile. The man could light up a continent with that grin. And who doesn't like Kumara Sangakkara, such a gentleman and so well spoken. Anshuman once gazed at my face for a while and said with a smile," You look like Sangakkara." My response was a baffled,"What??!" My husband still grinning said,"What? He's a very pretty man!" Well, I'd have to agree with that. Sanga IS quite pretty. And so is his country. Please visit when it's safe to do so. And everything is super cheap so shopping there is like heaven. I'll stop now.

I noticed Faf du Plessis when he started playing for Chennai Super Kings. I loved the fact that he looks neither nervous nor calm and the only way to describe him is professional. You know that when he walks in he's going to do his best and he rarely fails. I've always enjoyed his game. Plus he's ripped. No wonder they paid him to do an underwear ad. Beckham should bend the knee to this man.

And then there's the other South African who is truly a red blooded and insanely passionate little guy called Dale Steyn. I love the fact that when he runs in to bowl I feel like he might actually butcher the batsman and go right back to bowling the next ball with that same crimson face as all the blood rushes to his head. Commentators often refer to him as a tiny stick of dynamite and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if one day he actually explodes and destroys all ten of the opposing team's batsmen.

Yes yes I was going to get to him. Kohli, the best batsman in the world and all that. I've heard all sorts of superlatives and praises being sung for the Captain but I love him the most when he's getting mad like the typical Delhi guy that he is and spewing the choicest of abuses in Hindi. He often gets into 'arguments' on the field and has been, and will be criticised for it but if you take the Dilli out of a Dilli boy's dil (heart) he wouldn't be what he is. Of course he's a brat and someone should occasionally slap him on the back of his crew cut head and tell him to wait before he bursts into a song of abuses on the field. But that still remains to be one of my favourite parts of watching him on the screen. I enjoy trying to lip read what he yelled/muttered under his breath in Hindi. The TV crew helps these days by slowing down the visual which makes it so much easier and so much fun. Ben Stokes has repeatedly claimed in the media that Kohli is not really spitting the Brit batsman's name at the opposing team's players and often the India boys themselves.

And last but not the least the man responsible for inspiring today's post ~ M S Dhoni. Recently I wrote a post on Facebook stating the fact that people born under the sun sign of Cancer are truly wonderful. My mum in law joked saying I was blowing my own trumpet. Well, I was but that's not all that I was doing. There really are some amazing people born in late June and July months including Faf, Jayasuriya, Steyn, Gavaskar, Ganguly and MSD. It's his birthday today and it made sense to write about cricket and my all time favourite cricketer. He's a typical Cancer who doesn't want to draw attention to himself but clearly enjoys it when it's showered upon him. When asked repeatedly why he doesn't show emotions on the field he simply said,"If you do that they'll write about it tomorrow." He remains unfazed in the face of immense success and I love the fact that his power only becomes obvious when he's hitting the ball. Like an axe murderer I might add. I don't see him caring too much about appearing elegant. I think the only thing he cares or thinks about is winning. And that's what any game is all about, isn't it.

MSD came to Dubai to play a couple of IPL matches and of course I wanted to go see him. Anshuman assured me that he would get free passes. I was neither convinced nor content with what he said and nagged him repeatedly about the passes. As the days went by I missed seeing a couple of matches that he was in and then finally when it became obvious that passes were not going to materialise my darling husband bought two tickets for a Chennai and Delhi match at a price that would have made my mother shake her head at me and proceed to tell me how utterly spoilt and irresponsible I am with money. And she would be right. (P.S. Mummy, I've improved so much since the world shut down) But in the event that Anshuman had failed to procure those tickets I might have stabbed him in his sleep.

On the day of the match I wanted to make a big placard and carry it to the stadium saying," MSD! MSD! MSD YOU'RE MY LSD!" My husband almost always suspects that he might be embarrassed in public thanks to the woman he chose to marry so he forbid the placard. He reasoned with me by saying that in a country where illegal drugs can get you into huge trouble, carrying a placard like that might actually get me thrown in jail and he would not bail me out or pay for a lawyer. I pouted a bit and let it go. I saw MSD play. He hit two fours and a six.  Chennai won. I was happy as a kite.

Last night at exactly 10.30 PM my husband said to me ever so sweetly,

"It's your boyfriend's birthday today, baby"

"He's not my boyfriend!! And I really like his wife!! And his birthday is in one and a half hours."

"But in India it already is!"

So, here's to you MS! Even though in India it's already over, here in Dubai I can still wish you a very happy birthday! Live long and prosper!