2024 Olympics….

1.3 billion people in India and we had 10 Indian swimmers make it to the Prelims of the Olympics.( Hakimuddin Habibulla, Virdhawal Khade , Nisha Millet, Rehan Poncha, Ankur Poseria, Sandeep Sejwal, Shamsher Khan,Shikha Tandon,Gagan Ullalmath, Sebastian Xavier).

2016 Olympic Hopefuls (may be a few more but I got these from Google.) Sandeep Sejwal, Shamsher Khan, Shikha Tandon, Gagan Ullalmath, Sebastian Xavier, Shivani Kataria, Damini Gowda, Mana Patel. Didn’t want to disturb our coach for info. He is probably asleep as he needs to make 6 am swim-practice tomorrow. This is just so you get the idea of how many actually make it. And how many don’t!

800 swimmers took part in last years District Meet for Mumbai. We have 7 long course ( 50 meter) swimming pools in the whole of Mumbai. MGMO, The most accessible to us, is leaking. Khamghar Dadar is a BMC ( municipal pool). Only accessible after 8 pm. The rest are private clubs, so join them or be damned.

This is the Sport my son has chosen. This is his passion. This has been our lives since he was 5 years old. It is something I wouldn’t wish on any Parent. The Practices are gruelling, Early mornings and late nights. Diet so so important, children eat their meals in the car on their way to school or on their way back home.There is No Dessert. At least 7 hours of Sleep is imperative for the swimmer. Parents get barely 5 hours if lucky.

At 11 years he has to learn discipline and time management for his studies and make it to 11 sessions of swim and strength training. This is Not just him, every swimmer that is now in training for the  Swimming Nationals in June/ July2016. Every swimmer in the past has had it as hard and the pressure builds up. Many Burn out by the time they are 12. By the time the Board Exams come, many have stopped competitive swimming. So all those hours, all those sacrifices made for a chance at a medal, will seem in vain. Its just metal in your drawer. The key is to last, the key is to not fall into the trap of early winnings. Young children have an inherent disadvantage of getting over-confident. I keep telling my child that he has to be so focused that with every loss, he will learn to do better. But how many losses can a parent accept? How many times have I wished that he would just stop!

Swimming in India will get you limited work, If you are Schedule Castes then the National Medal gets you a Government Post. If you are a national winner you can become a coach in India at Clubs or Schools. You can start your own swim academy, but that needs major funding. OR  You can impart your knowledge to youngsters to fund your new passion, like GOLF, as Rehan Poncha does.

Very few have got swimming scholarships abroad because what they need is a very high SAT score.Those that leave, will not come back to work in India as US returned or UK returned coaches. The swimming accolades are added Points to your college application. Your 8000 word essay and your CAS project is what gets you into Universities abroad and  with the hours put in with training, many have missed the opportunity to study as hard and therefore a missed chance at a Foreign education.

For Example: Aahanksha Vora. Best Athlete National Games 2015. 6 gold medals. Head Girl Cathedral. Havard only wanted her  SAT Scores. The rest was all added frills. She is someone I truly admire. Yes, she made their swim team. So maybe we see her representing India at the Olympics in 2020.

Nothing wrong with Indian Universities. The good ones that lead to The Great Indian Dream only want  marks of 98% upwards. And there are nearly 30 million of those students in India  ( slight exaggeration)

So if I think that our son will make the 2024 Olympics. I don’t know. What I do know is that he will have to put his Education first.He has a better chance at getting into a great University with great grades. If he has mastered the balance between his passion and his future, then I will still wake-up, wake him up, feed him, drive him to practice, until he needs me to.


The Little Prince

I don’t think I have been so excited since I discovered Whole Foods at Colombus Circle New York. All Organic, All Natural and the variety of Yummy Food. That was a great day.          And then came the acknowledgement on Twitter from Mrs Funnybones… A new lease to my avatar existence.

After Twitter was enforced on to me, I was advised to tag who I thought would be relevant to increase my followers for My Cause. That to with a message in 140 letters. Impossible.

In my spare-ish time,I have trolled Twitter for Celebrities I have met or been acquainted with in my Past-life as Assistant to 90s Make-up Artist Genius Michelle Tung.                 This is how I can approach many of the Faces you see with Helmetgirlbandra.               Please do not try this on your own, they may not be as forthcoming…

Twinkle Khanna, Tina, Mrs Funnybones. Actress, Wife, Mother, Writer and Candle-Stick Maker. All one and the same. Bollywood Royalty. Stunningly Beautiful. Honest, Forthright and Really Down to Earth.( Ask the Oberoi school mums, that watch her at the school coffee shop). She has a boy and a girl, so do I. Our children study at OIS. Her Favourite Book is The Little Prince, My favourite book for Angath was The Little Prince. And that’s where the similarities ends.

She has an amazingly popular column. Read by millions. I have a Blog read by a few. She writes how I think.I would love to be able to write as confidently as Mrs Funnybones.       Her Husband a Superstar in Bollywood, Mine was a Rockstar of Bollywood in the 90s.  There was no relationship forged between us at her Mums home two decades ago.              BUT she acknowledged me aka Helmetgirlbandra. Maybe a one off. Who knows?                    I’m smiling Cos I have Nearly arrived.


Getting right on it

Bandra_Buzz the Bandra fortnightly papers. Full Page. Its AWESOME. I’m more in your face, than riding along side. Its great and with this attention I have become the Go To Girl. The one with the Solutions…But let me explain..

I have a few (which I can count on my one hand) very hot and popular actresses from the film industry helping me. They sweetly re tweet for me. Helmetgirlbndra has Nearly 100 followers on twitter that have been forced by association to these Celebrities to follow me. Instagram is doing better cos I have the whole of 6th and 8th grade Oberoi International following me.

These Stats are not going to change as fast as I want.Unless I do something really stupid and or controversial. (That was my 90s.. Story for another time.) I have been approached to Buy my Followers. If people see more followers, the will follow me. I’m guessing Like Pied Piper. Know how that ended.

So for those they have approached me to have the Speed Breakers on Carter Rd painted. Give me the Paint, I will do it.

Start a help-line for reckless driving, give me a plan to approach the elusive and very busy Bandra/Khar/Santa Cruz Representative.

Want me to join Politics, so I can help you pass, the extension of your Balcony on the 10th floor. Or Send a warning to your very noisy 6th floor Neighbours, that constantly have Parties and don’t invite you. You will have a long wait. Or come home, mi case es su casa!

Get your Friends Mother in front of the line for a C T scan at Nair hospital. We managed it at Baba Hospital Bandra. Phew.

This is my journey and I hope to be able to pass your message on Real soon. But until I can, I will do what I do best. Listen, Nod in sympathy and give you a hug.


Ride to Sobo.

I had to visit a friend in town.Kamal had the car. I knew  that it would be quicker on the Scooter. Sun block on. Checked for license. I took off from the suburbs. I was heading to Tardeo. I wanted to eat at Swati snacks. Pure Veg. I had a craving.

If you don’t ride, you will not notice every little detail of the journey.

Every pot hole, every racing car trying to cross the just turned yellow light.

The riders tend to gravitate to the extreme left between the pavement and the buses. Traffic was at a crawl, but we had a rhythm.We were well mannered. We gave each other inches to crawl pass. If our side mirrors touched we smiled and shrugged. We met at every red lite. The volume of riders changing at each junction.

It was not a race, it was a journey of equally confident riders respectfully showing each other the power of their 125cc-250cc.

Town and back in two hours. Amazing.

Best Deals

helmet girl 2 142We all love a good deal. There is something about Discounts and Sales that attract us like Moths to a flame. At a sale there is no window shopping. It is shopping for the Future. In case we may need it, in case we lose weight, even tried shrinking my feet to fit into a pair of shoes i loved, because they were on sale.

Republic Day Sale, Dhanteras Sale, Diwali Sale, Till Stocks last Sale. How many have actually noticed that the latter has been up at certain stores in Bandra for years? I personally love the Phoenix Market City 60% all off on every store Sale. Nike, Sketchers, Puma, Adidas ,all at more than half price. Who cares if it was a year old design. It was on Sale.

Flipkart Sale and Amazon Sale are so convenient. You don’t have to leave home. You do your Research months before and keep the original prices in your head. Then you pray the goods you order come with all components. Flipkart is dead to me. They still haven’t delivered my Niece Baby Bag. Nearly 2 years..

Vijay Sales rocks at giving The Best Deal. Like Croma they have their own brand. It May be made in Korea or China and last till their extended warranty of 3 years but their prices are unbeatable. You may not want to buy from the Grey market as there is no bill. We like getting a Bill. It is our security if anything goes wrong. They Have to come address our complaint if we have a bill. RIGHT?

Best Deals are like Best Prices.Its like the Stock market. I have shares that i want to buy at the 2007 rate. Post Crash. I have a black book where I have kept large cap and mid cap stock prices since then. Then 2010 was good to invest but children shifted to an IB school my Trading money went straight into paying school fees. I wanted tips,i read the papers, i watched the stock predictions on TV, i was addicted. I would Wake up, wait for the bell at 10am and see the BSE rise and fall at the 3pm bell.Many hours and days spent waiting for the Right Price…

For people living in Bandra, we have Sahakari Bhandar that has amazing deals on Washing detergent. If there is a one plus one offer on soap, I buy Four and love getting four free. Even if i have no space to store it.. who knows they may run out and i always need washing detergent.  Extra virgin olive oil. Buy a litre get another free and gift that to someone you love, cos it was on SALE. The staff are courteous and knowledgable. You need to be a member to get updates on their Sales or Specials of the Day.

Wednesdays is Reliance SuperMart day. Borrow your friends SUV, take tonnes of shopping bags cos you will buy so many things that you wont need for half of what you would have spent at Natures Basket. This is like Costco. Big bags, big bottles, everything is big. Even their shopping cart is huge. On Wednesdays Its on Sale. Every Wednesday.

I love Natures Basket. Its convenient and well located and has a wide range of organic,hygenically packed fruits and vegetables. But if you want the best deal 6am near Dadar station, on the street near the open drains, gunny bags of fruit and vegetables are off loaded. Those prices you cant beat in the whole of the Bay.

However, My Best Deal is when i redeem my Points to clear a shopping bill. Nothing sweeter than that.

Why the fake face?

Will we be loved any less if we actually spoke out and said what made us uncomfortable?

I speak my mind. Its an affliction. It can make people around me uncomfortable. The ones that know me and love me, nervously laugh it off.. But isn’t it better to say exactly what you want instead of letting it become an issue. I find it so much easier to just Say it! I’m 43 and I think I’m probably off 3 peoples Christmas list. : )

If you see a friends husband get too close to another woman, would you go up and say ‘What’s going on? or Where’s your loving partner?’ Or something silly like doing the two Finger pointing I’m watching you.  If you see a child,whose parents you know well, behave badly. Will you correct that child?  If you are invited to a small dinner party, will you RSVP and mention your allergies? If your close friend hurts you, will you say ‘I didn’t like it when….’ Will you ignore it and say it’s not my business, and then keep these as topics for conversation at your next lunch ?

Everyone talks. If you are told something and then it’s followed by ‘please don’t repeat it!’ Or ‘it’s just between us’ then know I can’t keep secrets. First I will tell my closest girlfriends then I will tell my husband. But if something was mentioned in conversation without the added pressure, it wouldn’t be something I’d want to share. It would be like any conversation. It would be boring. Not news worthy.

I hear it so often ‘ don’t tell Lisa, she cant help blurting it out.’ Damn right I cant, I hate uncomfortable pauses when 5 people from 7 friends are invited to a dinner and we have to pretend that there’s no dinner. When someone Poaches another friends staff and everyone just ignores it. When you see children being down right rude to their mothers and you smile and walk past so quickly. When a friend is down on their luck, will you help and then discuss this?

‘Please don’t repeat/ do you know what/ Did you hear what he/she said/ Just between you and me. . If you have witnessed something first hand and you have the courage to Say something at that time, it will not bother you any more. It will not become Gossip. You will never have that Fake Face. You will Smile.. I know because I smile a lot

Maybe I shouldn’t interfere!

The children are older and getting more confidant. I thought it was time to teach them a few things because it was Valentines. The question repeatedly asked was ‘What was the point?’   So I took them to the florist at St Andrews, explaining on the way, If you like someone: friend/best friend/girlfriend/wife/husband,you buy them flowers and make them happy. Let them feel special on this Day..(Note that I have missed out Boyfriend cos she is 9).

Angath,the hopeless romantic, the kind soul, got caught up in the moment and bought Two. One for his Bestest GF and one for his GF in school. Yes, we giggled. I was impressed he was going to walk into school and head right up to Her and say ‘ Will you be my Valentine?’ Just like in the movies.  His sister was smart. She bought it for her teacher.

That evening I hear the children arrive, I was excited my boy was growing up, he was learning the Art Of Wooing! Rushed up to greet them. He still had the Red Rose Bouquet in his hand. Petals wilting, plastic wrapper torn.

She got shy! ‘Its all too much, Lets be friends’ she said! She broke up with him..   And I looked at Leia’s face and there was that look saying ‘ What was the point?’                        This was my fault.My Heart pounded. I pushed this. I have forgotten how it is to be 12.

Sadly he looks at me, I say ‘Mama didn’t get flowers’ He kindly asks me to be his Valentine, shrugs and gives me the Bouquet. I gladly accept, slightly teary.FEBRUARY 2016 320