This woman business

So I have been busy. And quiet. And not really the best mommy to this blog. Yes, there have been stray book reviews and reblogs and some guest posts, but you know what I mean.

Well, all I can say is I am sorry, but you – loyal reader of this blog have been on my mind. May be I was conserving. May be I felt depleted. May be I wanted to be one less version of me.

Here’s the good news. I have a book out!

I am quite sure the book will not tell you much about ‘How to be a woman’. I don’t know how to write that sort of thing, as I’m still figuring it out. What I do know is that being a woman is a serious amount of admin. I am sure being a human is too, but if you factor in hair management (everywhere, all the time), ovulation management (once a month for most of us), relationship management (all the time, for all of us), parent management (even if you produce half a dozen kids, your parents will still treat you like a child), pregnancy (at least once in a lifetime for some of us), and marriage (hopefully not more than once in a lifetime) – you know what I am talking about.

We are all born with a daughter tag; the rest get added along the way: sister, cousin, friend, girlfriend, wife, mother, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, ex-wife, boss, subordinate, grandmother, step-mother and whatnot. With every tag comes more admin and more ways of being.

But no matter what you do, the nagging feeling of something left undone is what constitutes being a woman for the most part. Some of us forget to marry, others forget to have kids, a few marry the wrong guy but forget to tell him that, a few walk away but forget to move on; meanwhile our mothers are still figuring out what we do for a living and asking us to comb our hair. And while filing taxes should be on autopilot by now, we still have trouble finding proof of all our investments.

And so there are always checklists crawling beneath our epidermis,  reminding us of things left undone. This obviously does nothing to assuage our inadequacies, and the stakes continue to be raised every single day, no matter what we do or don’t do.

How does one then get ahead?

Even if you may have wrapped your finger around money, savings, ovulation, fashion and a career you truly belong to, things like hair and love still remain beyond your control. Some of you may have figured out man, marriage, baby, career, home, and a botox and tummy tuck plan. This book is for the rest of you who don’t necessarily believe that marriage and babies are the happily ever after for a woman. For those who are still dealing with imperfections and happy to say “I am enough”.

We all yearn for just that right blend of purpose, independence, common sense and madness and even when we get there, we are never sure we are there really. Our sense of self, which is quite delicate, tends to get into an insidious loop of fragility with the slightest aberration in our plan. To make matters worse, your legs are never waxed the day you bump into an ex and perhaps that’s why you are clad in a tent and can’t appear breezy as you intended to.

One would imagine that with one set of parents, siblings, one marriage, one baby, few books and around a dozen jobs and cats behind me, I must be spiffingly together. Not. And this book will not end with how you can get it all together, because in the end, no matter what you do, you really can’t.

What it could probably do for you is remind you that it’s the same shit everywhere. That thousands, millions of women who you look up to, adore, role model on, have been there, done that and are still figuring it out. Same shit, different place.

(Excerpted from The Whole Shebang.To preorder: )



Conversations with a daughter who wants a SAHM


About a year-and-a-half ago, my daughter Myrah (then 2-and-a half-years-old) asked me one day, “Mama, kya tumko office uncle pyaar karta hai? (does office uncle love you?)”

I had no idea where that came from and didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. She was trying to figure out how important my office is, as in there must be someone who loves me out there or else why would I go to work 6 days a week (even on most public holidays) and that too at weird hours?

Since then, the imaginary office uncle often pops in and out of our conversations. For instance, “Can’t you tell office uncle to give you chutti? Tell him you want to spend time with Myrah.”

I wonder why she zeroed in on the office uncle, and not some office aunty!

Next, she asked me if I have friends at work. In other words, am I going out to have fun with my friends?

I returned to work five months after Myrah was born. The one thing that kept me going was my 24-hour maid, the full support of my husband who has his own business and works largely from home (though there are the occasional out-of-town trips) and of course my so-called weird hours at work. I can spend the entire day with Myrah and then leave for work around 4.30pm… It’s a different matter that I get home by 2am and have to be up by 7am to get her ready for school.

I am happy I can spend so much time with her, which I couldn’t if I had a regular 9 to 5 job.

But obviously, Myrah wants more of me. Just the other day, she declared that she doesn’t want to be like me, that she doesn’t want to go to high school, college and office and would rather have fun at home. The larger picture being she would prefer me to be a stay-at-home mom.

My mother has always been a stay-at-home mom and though she never lacked anything, she always encouraged me to work and be financially independent. So I guess, this is a kind of cycle. Stay-at-home moms want their daughters to work while daughters would want to be stay-at-home moms.

At the time when I was growing up, having a housewife mom was the norm. Barring one or two friends whose moms were working women, all my friends came from similar backgrounds. And all of us have turned out to have full-fledged careers. But some do opt out along the way. There’s this MBA neighbour who did start working after her son was born, but quit after he started throwing regular tantrums and had behavioural problems. Her son is a happy 10-year-old now and she is too complacent to get back to work.

Also, there’s this fashion designer friend, who after two kids, has recently started teaching at a design school two days a week now that her sons are no longer toddlers.

I too, am tempted to throw in the towel. But I guess I just have to hang in there for Myrah to grow up a bit, when she can realize that it is indeed important to work and be financially independent. But she is learning to figure things out her own way… For more than a year now, she has christened me as Mohua Gupta Fernandes. It would go like this… “I am Myrah Fernandes. My papa’s name: Craig Fernandes. Mama’s name: Mohua Gupta Fernandes.”

I don’t object, even though officially I am still Mohua Gupta. If my daughter is happy with adding Fernandes to my name, so be it. I’m sure in a few years, she would be want to retain her maiden name and also juggle a career and family successfully.


About the author:
Mohua Gupta does the job of delivering news (mostly bad) to Mumbaikars first thing in the morning. In other words, she works for a daily newspaper.