Tag Archives: How to…

How to do the laundry in 11 easy steps

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1. Wait until all the laundry baskets in the house are overflowing, and household members are starting to complain about running out of undergarments/towels/pajamas.

2. Sort into piles –> whites/dark colours/light colours, and pick the one that’s the biggest and/or most urgently required by said members (e.g. kid has no more clean undies = do whites).

3. Stuff as many of the clothes into the washing machine as possible without the warning light coming on. Or so that the machine can still sort of spin around. Yes, it’s tragic that there are still whites remaining the basket, looking at you accusingly because they know they’re not getting cleaned until next week, but hey, you need the machine to keep working, right?

4. Allow the clothes to sit in the machine for a few hours after completion. just sort of… resting. C’mon. They’ve just been spun round and round. They’re literally wrung out. I’m just giving them a chance to recover before grabbing and pulling them all over the place again.

5. Transfer the wet (and rested) clothes into a basket. Now, depending on my distraction/multitasking level, they might be allowed to ‘breathe’ in the basket for a little while before being hung out to dry. Who said that works only on fine wine?

6. Hang the clothes out to dry in the balcony, and put clips on each of them. This process can take anywhere between 10 minutes (adult clothes) to eternity (little, tiny kiddie clothes… this is possibly the hardest part of motherhood that no one ever warned you about).

7. Allow the clothes to hang out on the balcony for a while. Fresh air and sunshine are good, no doubt. But use your discretion. If it appears like the birds are starting to use your towels as a soft and comfortable perch, or that your clothes are developing a fine layer of dust on them, it might be time to bring ’em in.

8. Drape the clean(ish), dry clothes over the sofa of your choice. My favourite is the single seater right by our balcony door, but of course, the furniture pick is entirely yours. Prefer a side table or the couch? Go for it!

9. Fold the clothes when the sight of them cluttering up your drawing room finally starts to get on your nerves. Or when unexpected guests arrive. Whichever one happens first. Now allow them to perch, neatly folded and sorted, on the center table, waiting patiently to be put away. (In case of the unexpected guests, transfer to bedroom).

9 B. If folded clothes have not already taken residence on your bed, transfer them now.

10. When it’s time to go to bed, you may either a) actually put the clothes into the cupboards where they belong (least likely) or b) transfer them onto the dressing table (most likely) where they will remain, and be used as needed.

11. Watch sadly as the laundry baskets refill at frustrating speed with the exact same clothes you so slowly and painstakingly washed in Steps 1 to 10. Return to Step 1.

 

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How to… be house proud

1.    The first step is doing up said house or flat to your absolute satisfaction. This means obsessing over every little change you make, whether it’s finding that exact shade of yellow paint for your bedroom walls (Daffodil Delight or Mango Madness?), or the perfect curtains to go with the oh-so-classy raw-silk cushions and art-deco lamps in the living room.

2.    This, of course, requires exhaustive research. Trawl through every home décor website for ideas, and then stalk sellers on eBay or Amazon so you can finally own that antique-finish Colonial-style oak desk (that’s ‘distressed’ just so). Make repeated trips to every local furniture/furnishings store, and collect catalogues and fabric swatches like they’re going out of style. Bring them home with you and obsess over which rug pattern goes with which embroidered bedspread etc. to your long-suffering family late into the night.

3.    Once the essentials – paint, furniture, carpets and so on – are in place, dedicate every free afternoon or weekend to ‘home improvements’. Hunt for the perfect plants (and by extension, the perfect planters and pots – nothing too earthy or too funky) for your entryway. Haunt every gallery in the city for that dream piece of art for your living room. Dog the footsteps of your carpenter until he creates that dream bookshelf for your study. And in any time left over, take on hopelessly ambitious do-it-yourself projects – there can be joy in suffering.

4.    Once the home is ready, have guests over regularly so you can show it off to as many people as possible. Clean and polish it from top to bottom before each ‘showing’, and then insist on conducting a guided tour of each room (going over every design decision you made in exhaustive detail) whether the guests are interested or not (pointedly ignore yawns or any attempts to change the subject). Once the guests settle down, make sure you hand out napkins, coasters, etc. and make loud hissing noises at the slightest sign of a food/drink spill; remember, prevention is better than cure.

5.    When you feel the house is truly ‘done’, every available space bulging with knick-knacks, curios and potted plants, and more importantly, it has been satisfactorily shown off to every single one of your acquaintances, it’s time to strip it down and start all over again. Pick a new colour scheme, or a new design concept (Persian passion or postmodern pastiche), and go back to Tip No. 1. After all, the house proud are happiest only when working on a new home project.

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How to… beat Monday morning blues

1.    Don’t do a Google search on ‘How to beat Monday morning blues’. You’ll just end up gagging on annoyingly upbeat advice such as ‘go for a brisk run’ or ‘take a cold shower’ or (shudder) ‘go to bed earlier on Sunday night’. All perfectly sensible suggestions, of course, but not really what you want to hear when you’re suffering from a bad case of the Monday-morning grumps.

2.    For the same reasons, make sure you stay away from chronically cheerful people at home or in the workplace (our condolences if your significant other is the sort who leaps out of bed in the morning singing ‘Walking on Sunshine’ at the top of his or her voice). Nothing makes a bad mood worse than being faced with excessive positivity and bouncy happiness, especially before you’ve had your second (or fourth or fifth) cup of coffee.

3.    Caffeine is your best friend. Load up on coffee – black, café latte, frappe, it doesn’t matter. Tea is okay at a pinch, but none of that wimpy green tea stuff. You want your caffeine strong and potent so that you’re too wired to sit still and are forced to be functional, even if work of any sort is the last thing you want to be doing. Note: sugary, chocolaty doughnuts, muffins, and other such junk food are always a plus (sugar rush!).

4.    Allow yourself to wallow. Sometimes you just need to let a bad mood be. Listen to mope-y music (emo music or sad-sack love songs, whatever works for you). Post depressing messages on Facebook or Twitter, and whine and grouse along with fellow mopers. Remember, you’ll feel a whole lot better if you can spread some of the gloom around – ‘misery loves company’ is never truer than on a Monday morning.

5.    Just stay in bed. This is, of course, the final recourse, for that Monday when absolutely nothing else works. Cash in on that sick day you were saving up, crank up the air-conditioner, snuggle down deeper into your duvet and go right back to sleep. If there’s a better cure for the blues, it’s yet to be discovered by man. (Warning: this particular remedy may cause unpleasant side-effects such as ‘No-job-itis’, so use sparingly).

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How to… be an online lurker

1.    They say that lurkers comprise about 90 per cent of the online population, so you probably think being one couldn’t be that hard. But it takes some serious dedication to spend hours and hours hanging about on various websites, forums, social networking sites, etc. without contributing a thing. Keep eye-drops handy to help those tired, strained eyes; flex that mouse-holding hand often, and invest in a comfy computer chair. You’re not going to be moving from that spot for a while.

2.    Remember – however moving the blog entry, however much you enjoyed the Youtube video, however exciting the conversation on the forum, the first commandment of lurker-hood is ‘Thou Shalt Not Comment.’ You can register on the forums/blogs, etc. In fact, you should – how else can you get access to everything and lurk properly? You can dream up comments in your head. You can even compose them on the page, but you never actually hit enter and post.

3.    Of course, just because you don’t participate, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get deeply involved in the flame wars / discussions on these websites. Drop by the site every few hours. Follow conversation threads obsessively and hit refresh repeatedly to see how the drama unfolds. Know all the regulars by their usernames, and have the ‘history’ of the online community down pat. In other words, treat it all like a soap opera that’s happening in real-time, and follow all developments with bated breath.

4.    As a lurker, you should be aware that your kind tends to get a bad rap from the average self-righteous net denizen. You might get called a ‘moocher’ who just consumes content and doesn’t contribute, or be painted as the sloth of the online universe, who can’t be bothered to do any thing more than stare at the screen slack-jawed. To this, dear lurker, you must just turn deaf ears. Only you know how much effort goes into lurking. And your (very frequent) visits still register loudly on page-view hit counters –they don’t just go up to the thousands by themselves!

5.    Finally, every lurker has that moment when he’s seized by a strong desire to ‘de-lurk’ and post something after months of silent snooping. Your heart starts pounding and your palms get all sweaty at the thought of revealing yourself to the regulars, but you can’t fight the temptation. So stick to the following rules: make sure you have a username like ‘Anon123’ (so it’s obvious that you’re a lurker at heart), restrict your comment to something inane like ‘lol’, and then return gratefully to your natural state – lurking.

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How to… be a packrat

1.    Being a packrat takes some serious dedication. No item is too small or too frivolous to be packed away “in case it’s needed in the future”. Cardboard boxes, plastic spoons, old, yellowing magazine clippings, broken hair clips… it doesn’t matter if you can’t immediately think of what they might be needed for. It just matters that they’re there, safely stored in a dusty corner of the storeroom or stashed away in a moth-bally corner of the almarah… just in case.

2.    A packrat often leads an embattled existence in the family, so it’s important to be prepared to fight for your right to store. There’s always that person who’s determined to throw away all the junk you’ve lovingly squirreled away over the years. So whether it’s an old rusty biscuit tin or a wad of wrapping paper, you’ve got to be ready to make a soulful case for a) the emotional value of said object (warning: this one can only take you so far) or b) how the last time you were forced to throw something away, it nearly lead the family to brink of disaster (acute spoon shortage! Wrapping paper emergency before a party! etc).

3.    Sometimes no amount of arguing or emotional blackmail works, and the Family Packrat Nemesis resorts to underhanded tactics such as (gasp!) clearing out the storeroom when you’re away. At such times, dear packrat, it is perfectly all right for the gloves to come off. Whether it’s digging through the trash and dragging your beloved items back into the house, or actually engaging in a less-than-dignified bout of tug-off-war when you catch the Nemesis in the act, no reaction is too over the top for the packrat protecting her territory.

4.    To avert such crisis situations, a packrat must have certain secret locations scattered about the home where the most valuable of the stash can rest safely for evermore. A truly accomplished packrat can hoard to her heart’s content in various forgotten nooks and crannies for years and years without interference, and is only discovered when moving house or re-painting the house or such. (At that point, refer to tips 2 and 3).

5.    Finally, nothing helps the cause of the packrat like being organised. A neat packrat is a packrat who flies under the radar. Granted, it’s hard – there’s so much stuff and only so much time to stash it all away in. But it’s worth investing in compartmentalised plastic boxes, serviceable shoeboxes or smartly labelled cartons in which to sort, stack and store it all. After all, it’s so much easier to defend organised rows of boxes than a rumpled mess of junk. And just think about how much more you can store in the space you save!

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How to… be a baby coochie-cooer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.    ‘Awwww’ is your new best friend. No other expression in the language better expresses just how cute you find the baby / baby pic / baby video before you or the baby anecdote you just heard from a colleague. Make sure to use the inherent versatility of the phrase… a simple tweak of the pitch or tone and you have the perfect response to every coochie-coo-worthy situation. And of course, when faced with the truly, unutterably cute, be sure to elongate: ‘awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!’

2.    A true baby-coochie cooer doesn’t wait to just happen upon a cute kid or baby pictures from a friend. Being proactive is a must. If a friend or relative has a cute kid, add them on Facebook immediately, so you have free access to their kiddie pics and can post ‘awwww’ comments at will. If a neighbour (or a friend’s neighbour) has a cute kid, drop in often and ‘awwww’ in person. Just try not to make too much of a pest of yourself (i.e. turning up without any notice at dinner time and refusing to leave till you get a peek at the kid).

3.    We now enter slightly murky ethical territory, so pay close attention. You don’t always need to know the person whose baby you’re coochie-cooing over on social networking sites. That is, babies of friends of friends (or friends of friends of friends) on Facebook are fair game for you to ‘awwwww’ over (not in the comments, of course; that would be creepy considering they don’t know you). Please note: overstepping your bounds on this one may earn you less than flattering titles such as ‘baby stalker’.

4.    When you really, really need your cute-fix, the Internet can provide in other ways. Go on Youtube and you’ll discover legions of fellow baby coochie-cooers posting adorable videos of their tiny tots (ignore the inevitable trolling and flame wars, and focus on the cooing and awww-ing). Then you have websites of baby photographers such as Anne Geddes, and forums created by your baby-crazy brethren. (Just make sure you take a break often enough to avoid Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and/or Cuteness Overload.)

5.    Finally, every baby coochie-cooer needs a real-life support group. By this I mean people around you who keep you regularly supplied with baby anecdotes and pictures (of their kids or their friend’s kids and so on, saving you some of that sneaking around on Facebook). Plus they join you in all the ‘awww-ing’, which is always most fun when enjoyed with fellow baby-coochie-cooers.

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How to… be a pop-culture junkie

  1. Be obsessive: You don’t just watch popular TV shows, movies, etc.; you immerse yourself in them. You notice and catalogue every detail and flaw (and rant about every tiny inaccuracy). You memorise entire segments of dialogue and own the soundtrack (no matter how obscure). You analyse every plot point and debate casting decisions as though you were producer or director. In short – embrace geekiness.
  2. Be proactive: A true pop-culture junkie doesn’t wait until the latest episodes of his favourite TV show eventually trickle into Indian channels (a six month lag? Shudder!). Or until a movie he’s been obsessing about for the past year comes to Indian theatres (possibly never). Online downloads are your new best friend. And if all else fails, there’s always a fellow geek in the U.S. or France or Turkey who can be your DVD supplier (thank god for eBay and Amazon.)
  3. Be argumentative: Cultivate strong opinions and then air them on online communities, forums and blogs dedicated to the icon/show/movie/book in question. Argue incessantly, incite flame wars, form rival factions and inevitably, splinter communities (with yourself as the supreme commander and moderator, of course). Remember, anyone who doesn’t agree with you is a troll.
  4. Be creative: Contrary to popular perception, pop-culture junkies don’t merely consume, eyes glazed over and brain disengaged. Apart from the long, rambling analyses and the intense arguments online (see above), there’s also the somewhat shadowy world of fan fiction (where rabid fans write their own stories based on the characters from a particular show/movie/book etc.). And then there’s fan art. And fan videos. And… you get the drift.
  5. Finally, spend, spend, spend. Whether it’s sci-fi movie memorabilia or classic movie posters or limited edition action figures or anniversary edition special disc sets, you’ve got to own them. They’re your badge of honour. Your point of pride. Fellow junkies judge your worth by them. Newbies worship you for them. You must bid obsessively on eBay; you must covet and collect and display with pride. It’s the price to pay for true junkie-hood.

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How to… be a clock-watcher

1.    The expert clock-watcher doesn’t just rely on any old clock on the wall of the office/school/college, etc. Who knows when it was last synchronised with Greenwich Mean Time? No, any clock-watcher worth his salt relies only on his own perfectly synced watch (checked once a week for perfect time and its batteries changed at the merest hint that it’s losing even a second or two). After all, absolute accuracy is essential to ensure you’re prepared to bolt at 4.59.59 p.m. on the nose.

2.    There’s a lot more to clock-watching than just the passive tracking of the time – preparation is key. You must work with single-minded devotion towards being ready to leave as the clock strikes that all-important hour – paperwork neatly put away (whether complete or not; out of sight is out of mind), your bag packed and ready to be slung over the shoulder at a moment’s notice, and finger poised on the shutdown button of your computer (it has to be pressed at that final instant and not a moment before; otherwise you just seem lazy).

3.    Such clockwork-like precision can only be achieved by organising your entire workday down to the last minute, and then sticking to the plan with complete ruthlessness. Regular mortals complain about delayed meetings/classes and longwinded colleagues/professors; nothing short of a raging tornado outside is going to stop a clock-watcher from keeping that deadline. People who get in your way do so at their own risk – you’ll just have to mow them down on your way to the exit gate (apologies can wait until 9 a.m. tomorrow).

4.    An important part of clock-watching is learning to carefully mask the actual act of, well, watching the clock. Only a wet-behind-the-ears newbie makes the mistake of obviously staring down at his watch dial (or cell phone) repeatedly (and longingly) in the middle of the boss’s speech. Very gauche and a big no-no. A master of the art knows that the watch glance must happen within a split second, in the middle of a perfectly innocent action such as rearranging your hair or opening a folder.

5.    And finally, the experienced clock-watcher never reveals just how aware of the time he is. If someone asks for the time, an instant response of “Two fifty three p.m. (and 45 seconds)” is a bad idea. Instead, make an elaborate show of blinking vaguely, frowning, checking the clock / wristwatch / cell phone etc. and answer off-handedly, “Around 3-ish?”. Then you can go back to working studiously – and watching the clock, of course.

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How to… keep your New Year resolution

1.    It’s all about picking the right resolution. For instance – ‘I will lose 10 kgs’ or ‘I will go to the gym everyday’ – is just not going to happen. You know it, I know it and your gym instructor knows it too. On the other hand, ‘I will not waste money on unused gym memberships’ or ‘No more fad diets for me’ are perfectly doable. And they make you feel vaguely virtuous at the same time. See what I mean?

2.    As a corollary, it pays to be deliberately vague while wording your resolutions. In other words, give yourself wriggle room. “I will wake up at 7 a.m. everyday so I can go for a walk” – not good. “I will wake up earlier in the mornings” – good. Because 8.29 a.m. is earlier than 8.30 a.m. and you did keep your resolution, so there!

3.    If you must make impossible resolutions that give you a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach even as you make them (“No more chocolate chip cookies!” and such), keep them to yourself. We’re entering slightly murky ethical waters here, so pay close attention. The idea lies in this deeply philosophical question – if you break a resolution that no one knew about in the first place, was it ever really broken?

4.    Ok, so you have an over-developed conscience and Tip No. 3 makes you uncomfortable on various levels (“I’m just fooling myself” etc.). Well, in that case, you simply need to enlist extra help – your family, your closest friends, you colleagues, et al. Whine to them about your resolution everyday. Ask them to cheer you on and support you by giving up alcohol/chocolates/burgers along with you. Whine some more. They’ll either end up actually helping or (more likely) beg you to just give it up please. Either way, you’re home free.

5.    Another sure-fire recipe – make resolutions for others (e.g. “Will teach the dog new tricks”, or “Will support the husband in quitting smoking”). The advantages are, of course, many. You get to feel the gentle glow of the selfless do-gooder because, after all, you’re doing something for someone else. And even if it fails, well, it’s hardly your fault if the dog/husband/friend/parent wouldn’t cooperate, is it?

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How to… be a drama queen

1. Drama queens (or kings; this is certainly not restricted to the fairer sex) must live life as if all the world really were a stage, and the spotlight were perennially shining upon them. Any event at any time of the day can be cause for Drama – no happening is too trivial or small. What the rest of the world shrugs off as minor irritants, the drama queen must turn into grand Shakespearean tragedy. The milk boiled over! Oh the horror, the horror! You missed the bus! The agonising pain of it all!
2. What drama queens needs most of all is, naturally, an audience. In any emotionally charged situation, they must find a way to be the centre of attention, whether it’s warranted or not. In other words, become the bystander who bursts into hysterical sobs or faints away dramatically at the scene of an accident or crime and has to be comforted/sedated/revived, etc. (while the actual victim sits huddled sadly on the sidelines). Or the guy throwing a massive temper tantrum for having been kept waiting for 15 minutes at a government office, while about 100 others around him have been waiting in quiet resignation for the last several hours.
3. Perhaps the greatest pleasure in a drama queen’s life is the re-telling (and re-living) of these moments of great personal strife and tragedy. An audience, therefore, is once again a prerequisite, and the more incredulous, the better. Because with each telling, the tale must get more and more improbably dramatic, and the drama queen’s own role must get more and more tragic/heroic, until it loses touch with reality altogether. Being a stickler for the truth is a strict no-no.
4. That’s why drama queens must always have their own posse (P. Diddy has nothing on them) – after all, they need to have a mobile audience unit with them at all times to provide round-eyed responses to their stories and/or splash cold water on their faces when the histrionics go overboard. And what’s in it for the posse, you ask? Well, they revel in all that constant drama – It’s like being part of a real life soap opera, and the gossip never runs dry.
5. When drama queens/kings run short on ‘real’ audience members (even the posse tires at times), they can turn to the virtual. The possibilities are endless online – dramatic Facebook status updates! Cryptic tweets about (vaguely hinted at) tragic events! And to the big one, darkly emotional diary entries on the blog! And soon the Internet audience is clamouring for more. What could be more satisfying?

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