Wednesday, January 11, 2006


I was host of my book club last night--and it was a blast, especially for me. We were discussing "Reading Lolita in Tehran" by Azar Nafisi --my idea of a truly fun read (great writing, original insights, and best of all, the book's about discussing books).

The party -- well, a book club sounds stuffy and with all that wine consumption, it's anything but -- got off to a good start. My dear friend Virunya'd come over--making "the great escape" from her crying toddler who she'd left with her husband. And --oh joy!--she'd made cookies. My own toddler, Raina, was tucked in at 6:45 p.m. (Hey, wait a minute, isn't this blog called 'Raising Raina'? And this is how I introduce her to the world: She's in bed and her mommy's getting ready to party! But we will talk more about the angst of motherhood --that's the direction this story's heading anyway.)

I cut up some bread, put out the Brie, preheated the oven for all the frozen goodies I was going to, ah, bake, the white wine was in the fridge and the doorbell rings. There's Karen and her friend, Nicole, who I was meeting for the first time. Nicole's an instant hit as she's brought over dark chocolate brownies. (Bring me chocolate and I am your friend for life.) Karen starts mixing the salad, the wine's poured and the conversation gains animation.

Food in plates, we start discussing the book and all's going well. Then Karen makes the mistake of wondering out loud if there was a case for the U.S. to go into Iraq and "bring democracy" there. Oooooh boy! Looking back, it seemed I was like a bomb waiting to be set off, or, to use a less warlike analogy, like a burst dam. All these words were spilling out every which way with such force and passion. I began my diatribe against: 1. The revolution in Iran. 2. The War in Iraq 3. George W. I go on about the mindset of the Islamic fundamentalist, as if I've personally psychoanalysed several dozen. I elaborate and postulate and rant and rave--and I love every moment of it.

Later, I told my husband about Virunya's glazed eyes, Nicole's vigorous nods (to keep herself from falling asleep?) and Karen's silence (out of boredom?). Maybe I am exaggerating. I am sure they got to intersperse a comment or two here and possibly, there. But largely, it was moi on the podium, carrying on a wonderfully animated conversation with myself.

I notice I've been doing that a lot these days -- talking, i.e. I talk to my bikini waxer like I'm in confessional. I have lively chats with strangers in grocery stores. One of my newest friends is my daughter's daycare provider. I've become the very person I used to fear most in my school days--the chatterbox.

The chatterbox talks incessantly either because 1. She likes the sound of her voice 2. She likes her own opinion best 3. She doesn't want to listen to anyone else (why should she when her opinion is best?) She also believes she's the only person with anything truly interesting to say. And oftentimes, she's the mom of a toddler.

OK, maybe that's my copout. It's the trend these days to put on the martyred mom's robes and blame your lack of individuality, intellectuality, fashion sense --and anything else you can think of--on Motherhood. But this much is true. I wasn't a chatterbox before turning Mommy. Now, I am.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

One has to start somewhere

Sooooo, a deep breath and here goes.

I was a writer by choice, education and profession, but ever since I became a newspaper reporter back in 1997, I have found it increasingly hard to write a journal. I switched from reporting to editing a few years ago, hoping that I could rejuvenate my ability to put thoughts onto paper--or failing that, on a blank screen. The process goes something like this: I think a whole bunch of things (profound, that!), wait for an opportunity to pop open a new page on MS Word, put my fingers on the keyboard and wait some more for the words to just start flowing and the fingers to start tapping. I stare at the blinking cursor. After a few minutes of staring blankly, I notice that the cursor is blinking in quite an accusatory fashion, as in "Why are you wasting my time?"

So why do I think I can write a blog? Darn it, one has to start somewhere. It might as well be here.