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April 28, 2004 13:59 IST

My three-year-old daughter takes great pride in being able to identify celebrities who adorn our television screens and newspapers. Neither Amitabh Bachchan nor Sachin Tendulkar can ever appear on the idiot box without her loudly and jubilantly identifying them to everyone in the room. But when it came our prime minister, she insisted on calling him Atal 'Biryani' Vajpayee. 

It took hours of patient explaining to convince her it was 'Bihari' and not 'Biryani.' A few days later, I ventured to ask the little one what she wanted for dinner.

"Chicken Bihari" was her triumphant response. 

Ramananda Sengupta, Mumbai

Age matters

I am 42, married, have two daughters and look younger than I should. Many consider this an asset. As far as I am concerned, it's a pain. For one, marriage proposals keep pouring in since those don't know me think I am much younger than my actual age.

Recently, I donated blood for a colleague's ailing son, with whom I shared the same rare blood group. My grateful colleague expressed the desire of working in my home during my marriage. She was shocked to discover that event had taken place 14 years ago!

Another time, my father and I visited a newly-opened catering service to check out their menu and rates for a family get-together. The in-charge there readily agreed to a discounted rate because, he explained, it was an investment for the future. He hoped my father would engage him during the marriage of his son, me!

Rajneesh Anand, Jammu-Tawi

Food for thought

My cook, who has been with us for the last two years, charges Rs 400 per month. My husband and I work and my daughter, who studies in Class V, is looked after by my in-laws.

I was looking for fulltime help, so when my cook recently lost her morning job, I promptly approached her. I wanted her to work at my home from 7 am to 6 pm and told her I would pay her Rs 1,100. She agreed but said, "Since you give me Rs 400, give me Rs 500 more."

Generously, I told her I would give her Rs 550 if she wanted. I returned to my room and she continued with her work.

I was a bit confused by now, so I came back to the kitchen and asked her what was the total figure she would charge.

She smiled. "Rs 400 + Rs 500. I will take Rs 900," leaving me embarrassed over my poor grasp over math.

Bulu Joardar, Kolkata

A dash of patriotism!

I watch a movie almost every week, but I don't exactly remember when and which theatre began playing the National Anthem before screening the film. I just remember standing straight in respect as the anthem played in the semi-dark hall. And I do remember reading this was launched on January 1.

Last Friday, my cousin Adit, who lives in Pune, dropped in. After dinner, we decided to go watch a movie. Just before the anthem played, they showed a slide requesting people to stand.

I stood. Straight. Like I used to in school.

Around me, people were entering the hall and trying to find their seats. Some were rising lazily, cribbing about having to do this each time they watched a movie. Some were giggling. Some were talking to each other. Some were busy munching popcorn.

Some, though, were singing along. Like me. I like singing the National Anthem. It makes me feel great; I feel proud to be Indian.

After it was over, my shocked cousin exclaimed, "National Anthem in a theatre? Since when? This doesn't happen in Pune!"

Devyani Chandwadkar, Mumbai

Fear is the key
Mobile madness
What do you think?
Boys will be boys
Sugar free!
'When you need something, you must keep crying'
Meet the parents
Money, money, money
'Main Atal Bihari Vajpayee bol raha hoon'
'Hara Haara'

Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh

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