Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Band, Baaja and Bollywood

By Aswathy Kumar.

' Bollywood?' 'What kind of a theme is that for a seven year old girl,' asked my husband as I laid out my grand plan of hosting a Bollywood themed birthday party for my daughter. I agree, Frozen or Monster High should have been the most popular and obvious choice but if you ask me, so very cliched and overly satiated. And it has never really been my style to follow trends, blindly. I knew I wanted something different, yet something that was familiar.

So why Bollywood, you may ask? Well there are a couple of reasons. First and foremost being that I was obsessed with everything and anything Bollywood. From the extravagant costumes, the oh-so mushy love scenes, theatrical break-ups, breathtakingly beautiful scene settings to the matkas, jatkas,  tumkas and even the painstakingly long melodramatical endings. I am what you call, a die-hard Bollywood fan. And it wasn't until I walked in on my toddler jamming to the beats of the popular 'desi girl' soundtrack, while still in her playpen and clad in nothing but her diapers that I realized that I had somehow passed on my little obsession. 

Let's get started!

When you think of Bollywood, probably the first thing that crops into your mind is a scene straight out of a Karan Johar movie; lavish, extravagant and simply over-the-top. But this was no blockbuster and I knew I had to keep in mind that this was after all a 7year olds birthday party. I had to make sure that I was right on budget and not do anything too crazy to turn it into a mini version of the infamous big fat Indian weddings. 

Staying on budget meant no professional invites for Veda and #DIY was the way to go. For the invites, all I needed were some gold colored gift-wrapping paper, gold swirly ribbons and a few peacock feathers. I simply designed the invitation on the computer, took some coloured print outs that I simply stuck on to the gold colored wrapping paper which I then rolled up to look like a scroll. A swirly ribbon and a peacock feather to finish up and voila, my invites were done and good to go.

Gold coloured wrapping paper, swirly ribbon & peacock feathers were all I needed to jazz up       these invites 

The Games

Thinking of games were easy. All I had to do was take a few classic birthday games and simply indianise them to add the Bollywood touch. Pin the tail became kissa missing tail ka (story of the missing tail), passing the parcel became Haathi you are not my saathi (elephant you are not my friend as in this case, the parcel in question was an Indian elephant, perfect for a bollywood themed party) and even the traditional limbo got a desi touch by simply getting the kids to move to some seriously foot-tapping Bollywood beats. 

    Kissa missing tail ka, Haathi you are not my saathi & desi limbo:
    Simply Indianise the classic birthday party games to add the desi touch 

I also added a game for the poor dad's who gave up their soccer games and PS 4's to cheer on a bunch of screaming 7 year olds. All I needed was a string, a sari and a timer and we had a completely unique game of sari wrap. (The winner, the dad who tied the traditional sari the fastest and the neatest. Though at our party we simply awarded the one who was the most innovative.)

   How about a game of Sari-Wrap for the supportive dads

The Food

Okay so I am 100% desi but deciding the food was a lot harder than I thought. Though I was certain I wanted to add a few desi elements but I knew I had to make sure that the flavors were kept simple and not too overpowering to suit the 7 year olds' palate. And as expected the Potato and peas samosa, chicken tikka sandwiches, Gulab jamun, Gajar ka halwa served in cupcake wrappers and the aalo murg cutlets were all a big hit. ( I also added pizza and cupcakes just to be extra safe that I jazzed up with a few DIY desi cupcake toppers.)

The decor

In other cities you could walk into any store and pick up cups, plates, streamers, banners and what not to fit your particular theme. But not in Yangon. A few hours of shop-hopping and I realised that there were only a few handful of shops selling standardized birthday party goodies and felt instantly glad that I had chosen Bollywood as my main theme this year. With Bollywood the number of DIY decor ideas were limitless and there was no pressure to stick to any single colour scheme. Red, blues, green, gold...all were thrown in to transform our garden into something straight out of a Bollywood movie. 

A few add ons...

    A Rangoli station to keep the little ones busy

   No Bollywood party is complete without a few matkas to some dhol beats

The invites were sent, menu finalised and games all planned out. The stage was all set but I knew no bollywood party would be complete without a few matkas, jatkas and a splash of colour So in came the dhol guys playing some foot-tapping beats and a rangoli station to keep the little ones busy. A few disco lights and a dance floor and we were all ready to rock the night, Bollywood style. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

I am JUST a stay-at-home mom

My answer to all those who see me and say, 'Oh she is just a stay-at-home mom.'

By Aswathy Kumar

'I am Aswathy and I am a stay at home mom'

I stood amidst a crowd, shaking hands with a skinny girl who just introduced herself to me as the new marketing manager of a private firm in Yangon. She stood before me, clad in her floral top and ill-fitting trousers. Her hair tied up in a messy bun and I could see that her makeup had slowly started to wear off. She had reapplied her peach coloured lipstick and it was obvious that she had come straight from work.

I on the other hand had come from home. My makeup fresh, hair blow dried and my little red dress crisply ironed. "Oh a stay-at-home mom," she repeated fidgeting with the ends of her blackberry. I could see that she was nervous. I remained calm, far too familiar with the routine that was about to follow. I knew that now since I was in the JUST a stay-at-home mom category the topics were automatically going to shift towards housemaids, cooking and my adorable six year old daughter. I would be complimented for the expertise at which I adorned my daughters curls with butterfly clips and asked to share my famous lasagne recipe, as if those were the only skills I pocessed. I would be complimented on my dress, though in her mind she would attain a new sense of relief that the only reason I looked better than her was because I was JUST a stay-at-home mom and had way too much time on my hands. My husband would be complimented too. He would be called lucky for having such a beautiful wife as if that was the only synonym that best described my existence in his life. I would be perceived as someone stupid, someone who spent all day watching Kardashians while painting my toenails. 

That's right! I am JUST a stay-at-home mom. Six years ago, I took a conscious decision to give up my journalistic career to raise my baby girl. No one told me to neither did I ever feel pressurized. It was a decision, I took almost instantly that there was no way I would choose to proof-read articles from over enthusiastic freelancers and write about the potholed roads of Delhi for the umpteenth number of time (yeah, my beat wasn't glamorous like crime or politics) over my little one. It's not that I didn't like my job. I loved it! Up until now, the four-page supplement I was in charge of was my baby, my one true love. I loved searching for the perfect stories to adorn its white pages, teaming it up with catchy headlines and vivid pictures. I loved holding my four-page wonder every Wednesday morning, admiring it's glossy sheets and inhaling it's musky smell. But just like an unfaithful spouse, I felt no remorse bidding adieu to my old love for the one that now lay peacefully in my arms. 

Now I am not going to sit back and blatantly lie that my day starts at 6 and ends at 12 every night and that I get no time for coffee breaks or to do fancy luncheons with my girl pals. I do. My daughter is six, way past the drool, poop and diaper stage. She is in school six hours a day and there is no longer the need to interpret her burps, farts and gurgles. She is independent, confident and tells me exactly what she wants. So I am not going to sit back and ramble on and on about how tough it is being a stay-at-home mom. But I indeed am going to sit back and take credit for the young girl that she has become and the adult she will grow up to be. Polite, kind, respectful, disciplined, brave, fearless...And trust me, I can go on. 

I agree, what I do is not a job. I don't get a salary, have no fancy visiting cards to flash and have no titles to trail my name. I am JUST a stay-at-home mom, probably JUST healthier cos I have time to hit the gym and swim an hour every day; Smarter, coz I have time of read the news and keep myself updated with everything that is current. My language skills, possibly better coz I read a new book every other day and write; my social skills way way superior than anybody glued behind a computer in a glitzy cubicle. 

So have it! I am Aswathy, JUST a stay at home mom...and super super proud of it.