Saturday, September 29, 2012


When you've lived 14 years in a country like Singapore, you get used to a certain (read alarmingly high) level of efficiency. It's so very different from the Indian way of doing things, aka the adjust maadi and chalta hai yaar way. I try not to be too cynical of the Indian way because it's great at times, but it does piss me off when Indian organisations operating here make no effort to catch up in terms of efficiency. It bugs me more because when non-Indians complain about such things, I feel like I should rise to the defense but I really have no case.

For some stuff in life, you have alternatives. But for others, you don't. Atta is top of the list. I don't have any source of atta around where I live and so we have to make that trip to Little India once in a few months to lug back atta, rajma, paneer and masalas. All that changed when I came across a website for ordering all the Indian groceries I wanted and more! I could not believe my eyes. Here, in front of me, was a seemingly functional website, where I could just click on the items I wanted and they would deliver it to my doorstop. Like real. (You will understand my amazement when I tell you that recently we ordered dinner using the website of a very popular Indian restaurant, and in spite of getting a confirmation SMS and an email, the food did not arrive. When we called, we were told that their records did not show any order. If these guys ran Pizza Hut or McDonalds, it would shut down within the hour.)

So with trembling fingers, and a heart that was beating fast with a mixture of hope and amazement, I placed the order (minimum $80 for free delivery). I received the confirmation email that the delivery would be made the next day, but from my experience with such emails, they don't mean anything in the Indian world. Add to the fact that the payment terms were cash or cheque upon delivery, I had little hope of the stuff making it to my doorstep. Ever.

The next morning, I received a call from them to tell me that they would deliver within the next hour or so.

[So the website was functional! 10 points!]

Frankly speaking, I'd had no hope, so I'd been out with Xena, lunching with a few friends when they called. I told them that I might not be home so fast and asked them if they could deliver a little later. They said their delivery zones and timings were fixed and asked me if it was safe to keep the stuff outside my door if I was not at home. I said ok, and only after hanging up did I realise that we had not discussed how I would pay them if they simply left the stuff outside my door.

[So they trusted the customer to make the payment later? Wow. 10 points!]

Anyway, I managed to be home by the time they said they'd deliver.

[They delivered on time! 10 points!]

After the delivery guy left, I checked the items and realised there was a mistake with the most critical item of all -- my precious atta!

[Wrong item delivered! Minus 20 points!]

So I called up their customer service hotline.

[No annoying automated service! No annoying music! A live human picked up! Within two rings! 40 points!]

"Hi, I'd ordered Pillsbury atta but some Aashirwad atta was delivered to me instead."

"You don't want the Aashirwad atta?"

[Duh! For annoying an already annoyed customer, minus 10 points!]

"No, I want my Pillsbury atta."

"You want your Pillsbury atta... Hmmm... Ok ma'am, we will make the replacement delivery on Thursday."

"Great, thanks!"

[No one came on Thursday. Minus 20 points.]

I called them on Friday. The hotline rerouted to some mobile number and the guy told me he was outside and would call me back within half an hour.

[Two hours. Nobody called. Minus 20 points.]

I was beginning to get really annoyed. The 5-kg bag of Aashirwad atta was lying on the kitchen counter, mocking me. Saying "Use me!"

I called the hotline again.

"Hi, this is about the atta exchange. You said you'd call me back in half an hour. It's been almost two hours and I didn't get any call."

There was a pause and then he spoke. His exact words were (I kid you not):

"Oh. Ma'am, I was just thinking about you."

[Ok fine, 10 points for the originality of the excuse and another 10 for making me laugh out loud.]

Thursday, September 27, 2012

You gotta hand it to him

So Viv is describing someone to me, and this is how he does it. His exact words, ok?

"She had two kids. An older girl and a handheld."

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The warrior princess diaries - VIII

The bar may have been silent for a while, but Xena has not. She is now saying actual words, which is totally awesome, and I have been busier than usual because I'm trying to teach her life-altering words like "Shah Rukh". (I'm not kidding, scroll down to see video). Ok, so here are the latest updates on the warrior princess.

For once, I have no hospital updates. There have been no hospital visits recently (touchwood) and her heart scan is in October.

In my last post about her, I had talked about some of the difficulties I was facing with her feeding, a.k.a she does not want to eat. Anything. At all. Things are a little better now. For a baby who only started eating solids at 15 months, I must say it's a milestone that she is now able to eat tiny pieces of cheese. However, the actual mealtimes are still battles, and she needs a lot of distraction while I feed her. Not ideal, but at least I haven't resorted to turning on the TV yet. And the other day, I actually managed to feed her some spinach-infested porridge!!!!! Dhakki tiki! Dhakki tiki! (And yes, my choice of words does convey my own true feelings towards spinach. And its hara-bhara khandaan in general.)

If I ever bump into Shah Rukh Khan, I will thank him for being responsible for at least one of the three meals that I attempt to feed her every day. You see, while I feed her, I let her browse through this old issue of Filmfare that has him on the cover. The first time I showed it to her, I said, "Look, Shah Rukh Uncle!" She said "Tah Tuk!" I believe she probably knows he was Datuk'ed by Malaysia! Aakhir beti kiski hai!

And here she is, saying "Shah Rukh" (or her version of it)

I got my first ever gift from Xena -- a dried leaf she picked up during our evening walk. I almost choked. No, not on tears of joy or anything. I meant literally. Because she tried to feed it to me. :/

She finally has a favourite toy, and to my utter delight, it's a Dr. Atom puppet! Dr. Atom is a character in a series of science books, and a science magazine that I write for. She loves the toy so much, some mornings she wakes up and the first words she says are 'Dottoh dottoh?'

That's Dr. Atom!

Here's her looking high and low for him, and then gesturing to say that she can't find him.

Speaking of waking up in the mornings, there is no feeling more powerful than being woken up in the morning by your baby. Especially when she uses a roundhouse kick aimed at your face to do it. (She absolutely refuses to sleep in her cot anymore.)

Like all babies of this generation, Xena is extremely tech-savvy. I wonder if even Apple is aware of some of the iPhone features that she has discovered and demonstrated to us. Example: She zoomed Viv's wallpaper picture so much that all the icons were not visible anymore. Believe me, we had to turn to google to find out and undo what she had done (triple-tapped the main screen).

So she has started talking a lot more. She can say "Mama", "Papa", "ball", "bus", "bird", "book" (actually to an outsider they call sound like "buh", but only I know which one she means), "cracker" ("tater"), "wow", and many more. One of her favourite words to say is "cow", which she likes to randomly say, often leading to embarrassing situations (for me). Like yesterday, when we were strolling at the beach, and she pointed at this jogger and loudly said, "COW!" The jogger looked slightly offended and started running even faster before I had a chance to convince her that Xena had not called her fat.

She said her first three-syllable word this week, and it was "banana" (or rather "badada", because she has a cold).

The following pictures are of her acting all stylo:

It was Viv's bday on the 9th, and as usual, he was away in Amsterdam to have hashbrownies for an annual conference (on hashbrownies). So I did up this collage of her playing a birthday song for him.

Great mommy, huh? Well, not all the time. Last week, she fell headfirst into a hamper full of soft toys (phew!) with only her legs sticking out. I was actually tempted to take a picture of the comical sight before rescuing her. Hmmm. On the evil mommy scale of 1 to 10, I think I might be a 25.

I end this post with her newest video, where she identifies and passes to me 8 of her toys on demand. Yep, proud moment for mommy. :)