Monthly Archives: June 2011

Marvin’s World: My Daily (And Nightly) Health Nags

And now that I’m a self-confessed Android junkie, I’ve progressed from games to the other delights that the Market offers. Out of curiosity, I went looking for what this ‘techy’ bazaar had to specially offer a woman. I was hit by a barrage of menstrual-cycle linked apps. Of course, a mobilephone is a daily companion and who knows the value of a calendar better than a woman who has to figure out clothing, commute, food, grooming and schedule by predicting her body’s cycle?

Of the apps I looked at, WomanLog Calendar appealed the most to me. The app begins with a 5-step process (of which 2 are the ‘Welcome to this app’ and the ‘Congratulations, you’re in!’ announcements). The only really key part of this process is step 2, where you enter your average menstrual cycle length and the average length of your period, both in days. After that, you pick the beginning day of the week, set language and you’re done.

The app then opens up into a pink * cringe at the stereotyping* calendar. You enter your period cycle by clicking on a date, which takes you to a push-button screen. Here you can select the start & end dates. In addition you can also include details such as birth control pill consumption, Basal Metabolic Temperature (BMT), sexual activity, weight and notes. Other features include charts tracking weight and temperature.

Thoughtfully, a password-protect feature has also been provided to keep those prying eyes (or fingers) away from such intimate details. This is particularly interesting since a mobilephone is open to far more scrutiny and non-secure access than a computer.

Once I got over the pinkness of this app, I realised it was probably a must-have addition to Marvin. I’ve just added it so I can’t tell how good the charting will be, as yet but I see no reason they shouldn’t work right. The paid version, WomanLog Pro Calendar also lets one enter mood, cervical mucus (presumably to track infections) and provides notifications, which sound like great features to add to an already decent app.

WomanLog Calendar is a product of Pro Active App and is available for download in the Android Market and the iPhone App Store.

I haven’t been particularly health-conscious but the past few years have made me painfully aware that I’m not a teenager anymore. I spend most weekends catching up on a massive sleep debt accumulated during the week. The Android Market had something to say on this.

SleepBot Tracker Log sounded like it would be a stern mommy-figure type, wagging its finger in admonition at the unhealthy lifestyles of today. But instead, it turned out to be a sensible, easy-to-use app for the sleep-deprived advanced smartphone user segment of today. On installing the app, the first thing you can do is take a Sleep Debt Index Quiz, which looks at how sleepy you are likely to get in the afternoons, during phone conversations, commuting and other such drowsiness-striken situations. Based on this, you are given a Sleep Debt Index which tells you how sleep-deprived you are.

You use the app to track your sleeping patterns by clicking ‘Sleep’ when you fall asleep and ‘Wake up’ when you do. Alternately, you can also manually input the times of these two events. SleepBot logs the hours slept & napped and tracks the sleep debt you accumulate. You can change the settings to reflect what you think is optimal sleep amount for you.

Over time, the app graphs your sleep records to show you the fluctuations in your cycle. Other features include auto-flight mode (avoid calls in sleep), auto-silence during sleep, WiFi off when sleep button pushed, idle threshold (to determine when sleeping) and sleep/wake reminder text.

There is also a wealth of handy somna-related resources such as a Caffeine Content Chart, Sleep-inducing foods and a Bedside Necessities list. SleepBot also offers information on the nature of Sleep Debt, Sleep Disorders, Diagnostic tests and associated health problems. And finally, it offers quick tips on sleeping well.

All in all, SleepBot feels like a comprehensive sleep-related app and a very relevant one for the typical target user of smartphone. SleepBot Tracker Log is a product of SleepBot and is available for download in the Android Market.


* This is a one-off app review on XX Factor since it involves women’s health. For more, see Marvin’s World.

The Best Kind Of Guy Friend

You know who the best kind of guy friend is?

You can admit to being madly in love with him and he’ll look at you in the eye and tell you the truth if he is not. And after that, he won’t stop taking your calls or meeting you.

If another guy breaks your heart, he won’t mash him to pulp but would consider it if you asked him to. And he definitely won’t bond with that guy no matter how many interests (and ex-girlfriends) they share!!!!

He can call you whiny, drippy, weedy, dependent, clingy and over-emotional but NEVER when you’re actually crying.

He’s willing to be your date when you’re stuck or stood up but won’t feel too bad if your boyfriend shows up again and you decide to go with him (again!).

He’s quiet. Or talkative. Charming. Or devilish. Thoughtful. Or forgetful. But he doesn’t change his treatment of you depending on the stage in your relationship.

He doesn’t dangle girlfriends or admirers under your nose all the time.

He’s a guy but he actually cares about what you feel. All in all, he treats you like a buddy but remembers you’re a girl.

Now that’s a guy really worth having as a friend. 🙂


* A version is posted to Yahoo! Real Beauty. This post appears in an earlier avatar on this blog here.

XXFactored Jun11: Living In, Female Sanitary Products, Appropriate Parenthood, Male Orgasms & A Playboy Bunny

June feels like a good month. It’s the first time I have ever welcomed a monsoon in Mumbai.

I’ve been doing some writing, outside of these two blogs. My commentary on relationships has been getting an interesting (read masaledaar…look at the comments) response at Yahoo! Real Beauty. But the site’s new Recommendations section also featured a style post, a book  review and 2 app stories, all by me. FriendsOfBooks carried my list on 10 Great Vacation Reads For Children. I did some advisory content work on the topics of Romance, Relationships, Love & Sex (sorry, I can’t explain more due to the terms of the contract).

And in between all that, here’s what I was reading:

  • Notes On Living With My Ex-Boyfriend For Eight Months: Egad! When living in goes wrong. It was strangely comforting, though….to know that you don’t stop feeling or living. (via ThoughtCatalog)
  • ‘Should I Be Embarassed To Buy Tampons?‘ : Funny, I always thought it was very thoughtful of local chemists to newspaper-wrap sanitary napkins on sale. Was I being unknowingly regressive? Or do we just not *have* to shout out every little detail about our bodies? (via TheFrisky)
  • Dads, Hug Your Daughters!‘ : Pertinent but preachy? (via TheFrisky)’
  • ‘Man Takes Revenge At Girlfriend With Abortion Billboard‘ : Does this make you go “Aww, how sweet!” or “Ooh, touchy, touchy!”? (via YourTango)
  • Just in case you ever wondered…’What A Male Orgasm Feels Like‘ (via YourTango)
  • Indian parents seem to be caught in that unfortunate tug-of-war between the conservative ‘ladki se paisa nahin lenge’ attitude and pro-feminist/independence world for their daughters. (via Twitter)
  • The 5 Stages Of Most Relationships ‘ : Rather depressing how many of these are true! (via Maxim)
  • A rather funny (and annoyingly familiar) flow-chart on ‘How Men and Women Argue’ (via Maxim)
  • The story of an ex-Playboy bunny‘: Actually a rather good read. (via The Good Men Project)

Modern Couple

Yay, one of my favorite shows is back on air! Modern Family, Modern Family, Modern Family….! I particularly enjoy the character of Gloria (even if the boy thinks she’s a bit of a gold-digger). The promos show her husband Jay whupping a  piece of meat, chanting some kind of tribal beat while Gloria spurs him on with

“Higher! Faster! Louder!”

The episode has been aired so I think it’s okay to talk about it now (but if you haven’t seen it, this is a spoiler alert) Jay infuriates Gloria with his irreverence and condescension to her culture. Instead of an apology, he teases her further by pretending to commune with the spirit of her dead grandmother. In the argument that ensues, Jay goes through the meat-thumping ritual that Gloria says ‘drives death away from meat, to honour ancestors’. In a snide aside she adds,

“I just made that one up. Colombians don’t do that. We are not lunatics.”

When the guests arrive at that evening, they are greeted by Jay with his shoes around his neck, which is, he explains, another Colombian custom. (another Gloriaism, of course).This followed by Gloria’s comment that,

“You mess with us, we mess with you.”

I pointed out that the ‘we’ she refers to is not Colombians but women. It cracked me up of course, a sentiment not echoed by the boy (of course). Shortly after, he brought me to a point of hair-tearing with stupid jokes, not listening to what I was saying and being a man in general.

We were just sitting down to a meal. He had taken charge of a small bowl (read: heat in microwave, needed to be done thrice, with supervision from me). When we opened the microwave, the bowl was too hot to hold. I didn’t complain and of course he tried to pick it up, hot as it was. Still cool, I suggested that putting a cloth, like say, the edge of his tee-shirt might be the way to carry it to the hall. And that’s what he did. Delicately holding out his tee-shirt apron-style around a tiny bowl.

We got to the hall before I touched the food and said it wasn’t hot enough. Frowning, he carried it back (still in his tee-shirt) to the microwave. And he heated it up again. No guesses about how that bowl of food finally made it to the table. I waited till he put the bowl down to remind him of the kitchen towel, the rest of the food sitting on the counter which could have been brought in while waiting for the bowl to cool and a few other options. And when I finished, the Modern Family end score came on.

We mess with you, indeed. I only wish I’d had a camera handy.

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*If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram

Mother World: Aishwarya Rai’s Pregnant

So India’s contribution to otherworldly beauties is pregnant. My first thought was that it wasn’t either parent who announced this news but the grandfather (and indisputably the more famous Bachchan). I wonder if someone were to ask the younger Bachchan how come he didn’t say anything, his reply would be, “No Idea!” Unfortunately I don’t know anyone who’d care enough to retort, “Get Idea!”

Aishwarya Rai is this generation’s dreamgirl (though I still think Hema Malini, the original, trumps her). A sweetheart is your own personal Aishwarya Rai and a woman with a bad attitude may be sneered at with the words,

“She thinks she’s Aishwarya Rai!”

Now I wonder what the holders of such popular notions will think now. There is a certain reluctance to objectify women at least openly, after they’re married and have kids. La Rai has certainly passed the first of those and still reigns supreme in the Indian man’s dreams. But what now, when this same man is faced with the sight of a baby bump and possibly bloated arms?  Will the siren suddenly be placed on the Mother India pedestal? We’ll just have to wait till next March to tell.

On a personal note, it is rather heartening to see a woman in the limelight follow the unconventional path of marrying late, marrying a younger man (well, by a year), continuing a career where she clearly outshines her spouse and doesn’t start spurting out babies immediately. Motherhood at thirty-eight, definitely cool. Well done, Ms.Rai.

The Battlefield Of A Woman’s Body

Yesterday I heard a true story straight out of school. A pair of lovebirds coochie-cooing in the back benches of the classroom had everyone else hot and bothered. Eighth standard does seem rather young to be making out. But the hormonal teenage years are different for each of us so different strokes for different folks I guess (pun entirely unintended!).

A bunch of their classmates got together to ‘end this behaviour as it was making them uncomfortable’. The gossip doing the rounds was that guy would french-kiss the girl and slide his hand up to places that other people didn’t feel comfortable talking about. What’s funny is that these obviously took place in secluded places. The classmates had no qualms snooping onto the couple and watching them do things that suddenly, curiously they were uncomfortable discussing.

More curiously, their idea to end this went so far to approach the girl to tell her that her behaviour was not right. Correct me if I’m wrong but it takes two to make out (and several other things), doesn’t it?

It turned out that the girl took a dignified stance that it was no one else’s business (such self-containedness at that age!) but that if bothered people so much, she and her boyfriend would consider toning it down. She was not apologetic but rather proud of the fact that she had something special with another human being. Quite tragically, they broke up a year later when the guy cheated on her.

I wonder what how her classmates must have reacted. Given their self-righteous (not to mention chauvinistic) stance earlier, might they not have thought it served her right? Something else that struck me were the girl’s belief that her heart and her body belonged to the love of her life. Adolescence brings out the worst the dramatic in each of us. Yet, curiously enough, we never really hear a guy say those words, do we?

Our bodies seem like nothing more than property for men to have territory disputes over. And the invasions start pretty damn early.

Why ‘Cougar’ Doesn’t Mean Cool

This is something the boy called me on my second date and laughed when I frowned. Awhile ago, it popped up again in a conversation and sparked off a wave of laughter. I glared. He grinned and said,

“But the cougar is a beautiful animal!”

No, the man just did not get it.

Here are some of the descriptions I found of the word, on Urban Dictionary:


“A 35+ year old female who is on the “hunt” for a much younger, energetic, willing-to-do-anything male. The cougar can frequently be seen in a padded bra, cleavage exposed, propped up against a swanky bar waiting, watching, calculating; gearing up to sink her claws into an innocent young and strapping buck who happens to cross her path.”

“An older woman who is past her prime & who is attracted to younger men, often as an act of desperation or as a last resort.”

“A Cougar is a female, usually between thirty and fifty years-old, who enjoys the sexual company of younger men. Cougars are only usually interested in men under the age of twenty-five. Also, Cougars are non-committal, choosing to move from mate to mate without ever settling down. It is not uncommon for the same Cougar to attack (sleep with) many different men in the same group of friends.”

I struggle with labels and for one single reason – because they rarely evolve as human descriptions should and often stay limited to the associations that they started with. This is also why I’ve never liked most popular descriptions of men for women, notably one that reminds me of a fluffy, yellow-feathered bird.

A cougar describes an older woman and one who it is acceptable to see as a sex object. This much is actually fine and inoffensive. But overlaid on that are perceptions of desperation, of cheap behaviour, of non-committedness and a generally predatory aura. While some of those may seem appealing within an erotic fantasy, no one (man or woman) wants to be described in those terms.

There is an almost tangible movement in popular culture today, pushing the idea of an independent woman acquiring male attention from the always most attractive age group – the 20s. That prototype has existed for years (think Hugh Hefner surrounded by nubile bunny-eared beauties). This is no more than a female version of the same archetype and it’s not pushing sex or freedom, it’s about power.

As a recipient of all the benefits of women’s liberation and empowerment, I enjoy financial independence, the virtue of fabulousness, the heady high of choices and control over my own body. My only problem with this, is that it’s cold when it gets into the realm of relationships. I don’t like the idea of treating human beings, male or female as acquisitions or status symbols. Whether men have been doing it for decades or not doesn’t change things. I can’t see how a relationship that is about exchanging power for money/fame can have anything to do with love, trust or any of those things that make a relationship great.

To come back, that’s why the description of cougar stings. If the original thought be true, it shouldn’t matter what
gender a person is, for them to be appealing to a large number of the opposite sex (younger or otherwise). It’s not an age no-bar situation. Age and experience have after all molded one into a person of confidence, ease, polish and independence. Attraction is flattering when it happens because I’m me, not because I fit the current fashionable norm of appealing. So yes, ask me my age by all means. But don’t call me a cougar.

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*If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram

The May-December Couple

If you think younger men are a cinch, think again!!!

This idea-toon on Stripcreator, the Idea-toons gallery, Facebook.

*And…yes, the Idea-toons are back!! Remember the little girl in a green dress? With her pasted-on smile and Rude & Red ideas on men? Okay, I know I’m not little by any definition of the word. But let’s just say she represented who I was inside my head? And *koff* perhaps that part of me has grown up. The little girl has seen flings, crushes, commitment-phobias, jerky men (and women). She’s in a steady relationship now (well, as steady as a relationship can possibly be). She concedes (with much reluctance) that men could be human too. She agrees that  sometimes, just sometimes, very, very occasionally they may have the teensiest bit of a point (and no, she’s not thinking of THAT point). She has changed.

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*If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram

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