Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Nostalgia Toast

Nostalgia on a toast!

I loved my summers, which we spent at my grandparents' place in Bangalore. My cousins from Bombay and Coimbatore, my two sisters, and I would spend a few lazy weeks, playing elastic, Hopscotch, bouncing a ball from a pillar and counting till we missed, playing hide and seek, and solving the crossword puzzle of the Deccan Herald and eating!
That crossword puzzle must have started it all. My cousin, and I particularly would compete to see who would get the paper first and solve the crossword. We would try to get up as early as we could, take a shower, gulp down our milk and wait for the newspaper man. Which was a good thing. The not so good thing was, in our eagerness to be the first, we sometimes woke up before 5am, and though my granny never showed it, I'm quite sure those tears i saw were not so much from happiness, but from despair. She must have thought "Oh no the brats are up, couldn't they wait till I had one tiny sip of filter kaapi couldn't they?
And ofcourse, being a grandmom who equated love with food, she had to think of a quick and filling pre- breakfast meal which would please us and yet not distract her from the cooking of the actual breakfast. I remember her in the kitchen, smearing slices from two jumbo loaves of bread, with homemade butter and chutney powder. While they would be toasting on the tawa, she would be washing the grinding stone for the chutney and setting the pressure cooker up. We would be given the very important task of getting the toasted bread to the table. The towers of bread slices would vanish in no time, and each one of us would be in a corner, eating, talking, fighting or reading and of course one of us would be solving the crossword puzzle while the other one would sulk and resolve to get up even more earlier the next morning.
Every once in a while, I make this, not just because I like it but because it takes me back to a world only I know about. My happy place! Today I made it almost the way my doddamma would make it, I curled up on the chair and I savored nostalgia with every bite I took. and Time actually stood still for a wee while.
This is a memory that uniquely binds the seven of us even though we are all in different parts of the world and I'm so glad for it. If this had a happiness quotient that i could rate, I would give it a perfect 100.

Grannies are the best, always!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The precise art of saying hello!

I looked at her, she looked at me. She came towards me, with a very determined look. I cringed knowing that I would goof up again. Was I sweating? I hoped not!

Was it going to be on the left or the right, left or right?

She inched towards my left while i inched towards her right.

So intent was I on getting it perfect,

that I never realised when she changed directions!

Clash!!! splat!!
*$#& a bruised cheek, an even more bruised ego!!!

Many years back, I had written this after a cheeky air kiss greeting went amiss.  A hello seemed to require a lot of precision and grace, just to safely connect.

Last evening, at the Lohri gettogether at my apartment complex, I realised not much seems to have changed with me, since then. Atleast with the ones I didn't know well.

I seem to have confused quite a few, when I decided to change mid track and offered my hand instead of my cheek. I'm sure kissing my hand was not the greeting they had in mind. And when I thought it was time for a cheeky greeting, I got popcorn and gajak. On my cheek!

So that's why you see all my enthusiasm in my smiles, while I buy seconds and tick all the criteria in my mind : do i know her? distance of a cm, an inch, a foot? side hug, full hug, bone-crushing hug? right cheek, left cheek, no cheek?


I'm kidding. I love you all. And you will be patient with me while I make up my mind, wont you?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

It's hard to say goodbye!

              For the past few weeks, I've woken up with a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach. The 'before exam' feeling. A myriad of emotions consuming me the entire day, surprising me. I can detect feelings of dread, anxiety, selfishness, happiness, wistfulness, pride and hopefulness. 

               I remember a moment from 18 yrs ago, pacing in the labour room of the hospital, trying to be brave. Trying not to curse all the ones who had raved about babies and conveniently forgotten to mention how excruciating the pain would be. It is a pain that knocks the socks off you and makes you want to punch everyone around you. There's a nurse somewhere who's lived to tell the tale. At one point after a painful spasm, I got up, and told my mom "I can't do this, let's go home". Mom's  fiercest "Have you gone mad?" look and the next spasm sent me crawling back on that bed. It was a long moment of weakness and after 4 hours I managed to deliver a scrawny looking baby boy. That, then, was the bravest thing I had done. Or so I thought. 5 years later I did a repeat performance and had my second son. Proved one thing to me that TIME played its part in dulling the intensity of the "I'm going to kill someone if this doesn't stop" kind of pain and makes you focus more on the "Oooh, look he smiled, he walked, he burped" moments. 

             I had many similar moments of breaking down, recently. Of giving up midway between packing stuff for my 18yrold, who would be leaving home to study in another country. His bags did get packed eventually. And he did leave. And I did smile through it all.

Everyone asks me "So how does it feel, How are you? "

" I miss him", I answer truthfully. 

They console me in various ways:

"At least you have another kid to distract you", they say

"With time, it will pass" they say

"Be happy and proud, he will do well"  they say

"At least you had him this long, mine left at 16", they say

           I am grateful, I'm really proud of him and my mind knows it.  My mind rationalizes with its predictable logic : "It's a good learning experience, he's worked hard for it, You knew this day would arrive eventually. Be happy. It's just a temporary good bye, and he will be home during vacation time." 

That's what everyone says, don't they? 

But how do I convince my heart about it? 
How do i make it understand that things will no longer be the same? 
That 18 years of being together cannot be taken care of with a goodbye and a hug. 
That I will spend the next 4 years and possibly more with a prayer on my lips, of sending positive vibes into the universe, of thinking nonstop: "Please be nice to him, please let him make sweet friends, please let him not fall sick, please this.. please that". 
That it will take time for me to see his empty room and not feel the wistfulness. 
Of seeing his favorite food and not think of him. 
Of cooking meals for three instead of four.
Of having silly conversations
Of troubling him just because I can

          Seeing my 18 yrold off to college, on his way to an independant responsible adulthood, is a 'hard to describe' feeling. You feel immense joy, you feel pain, you want to hold onto the past a bit longer yet you want your boy to blaze ahead. You feel guilty of the time you should have enjoyed him more, than worrying about whether he fitted a particular mould or not. You've started to enjoy his company again and are loathe to let him go, but you don't want to be the one holding him back.

Once upon a time, all I needed, were my arms to keep him safe, NOW, all I can hope for, is the shelter of an unseen hand over him. 

Does it hurt? It does.  Would I have it any other way? Probably not. 

There are so many things that i have taken for granted. There are so many things that I will have to say my goodbye to. And that takes time.

His "whats for lunch today, Amma, hope it's something good?".
His music. 
His dry humor. 
His quiet ways. 
His infuriating habit of leaving his wardrobe doors open because he's conserving his energy! 
His cheekiness. 
His absent minded antics. 
His shrug and his monosyllabic ways. 
His rolling eyes at some 'lame' joke I crack
Those little moments of a day which mean so much to me.
The new stuff he tells me about
The lovely change in the relationship between us

How do i say goodbye to all this and so much more? 

Everyone has their way of handling themselves till their heart and mind speak the same language. My sister never entered her son's room for weeks after he left home for college. Another would spend hours looking at pictures. My younger son is digging through his brother's desk and unearthing treasures. As for me, I write.

And as I listen to my boy's voice over the phone, hearing him talk about his dorm and college, I try to bring a smile into my voice, while a hundred things run through my mind, "He sounds so tired. Did he eat? Has he made a friend? Will he put a sheet on his bed (what?)? ".  Love is such a strange emotion. It makes you laugh and say all the right things, while your heart is breaking inside. 

Motherhood has trained me well. It also brings into perspective my parents' love. Of how hard it must have been for them to let each of us go. Letting my son go is no doubt the bravest thing I have done so far.

Time is magical. Just as it had dulled the pain of labour, so has it filtered my memories of his journey from a baby to adulthood. It has taken away the angst ridden days, and left me with so many happy moments. In a little while I will get used to a new way of living, using modern means of communication to interact with him. It won't be the same but it will be better than nothing. And soon I will be one of those who will console another parent with soothing words of advice.

And in 5 years, when the next one sets out,  saying goodbye will pain just as much. 

And life, from now on, will be a series of 'welcomes' and 'goodbyes', of visits with deadlines.

But then time helps you adjust. And I'm going to take all the time I need.

Because Time is my new best friend.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The pursuit of perfection.

As long as I can remember, there has been this need for perfection.

Sometimes this is a need in me, and at other times, more often than I like, it is how others would like me to be.

Perfection in an image, in perception, in love.

Perfect mothers, perfect friends, children, spouses .

Perfection even in expectations.

That's when things begin to distort themselves.

And things fail, one after the other.

Perhaps that's when I need to look at the gorgeous butterfly and remember how that came out to be.

And see the miracles that is found in everyday life.

And if i don't find that butterfly, maybe I should just close my eyes and take a deep breath. Mist that glass and clear the distorted images away.

and smile.

Because everything can be perfect if you only let it be.

Wondering what brought that on? I'm clueless too.  I found this in my drafts, ignored and neglected. Since my unfinished posts may soon outnumber the published ones, so here goes that finger on the 'publish' button :)


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Cards and more

This post is a long overdue one.

The 9yrold loves to create stuff. Sometimes he does it by himself in a creative spurt, and sometimes it is brought on by me.

In March, during their spring break, he had this brainwave to sell handmade cards. I sat down with him, and we drew, cut and pasted. I wanted to show him how we could up-cycle certain things available at home and create something useful out of it.

We made the card envelopes from the paper shopping bags  of most branded products. The cards were also made with existing bits and pieces of paper. Of course it was done in many sittings because his attention span and my back decided to play truant.

Once it was done, we had to decide on pricing. I was amused to hear him confidently declare to a potential customer, that his Minimum Retail Price was Rs. 15/-. He gave discounts to those who bought two or more and a special discount to his closest friend nearer home.

Thankfully the people who did buy were encouraging, and for quite some time, my son could be seen dreaming aloud about starting his own card business! He also has a backup plan. If the card business fails, he plans to sell my crocheted stuff.:))

Frolicking Fish
Frolicking Fish (his creation)

The bag envelope

A paper present

Flowers and colors

I love this very original creation :))

A card he made for me, 

Which ones did you like best? Do tell my budding childpreneur :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

a dash of color!

When we lived in singapore, I used to walk, as much as I could. From where I came from, paved footpaths and green grass is a rarity, so Singapore was a walker's paradise.

You suddenly chance upon a brightly painted building.

It instantly brightens up your mood.

These pictures brought back some fond memories.

Change of the right 'kind'

It was nearing the end of the academic year. My 9yrold son and his classmates were given work to do at home. They were asked to write little notes about each classmate on pieces of paper and bring it to class the next day. It was amusing and enlightening to see the 9yrold tackle this with great enthusiasm and dedication. Abhay was funny and nice while Saakshi ran well. Pranav was excellent in sports and Arjun was clever. He got stuck when he came to one particular classmate, U.

“I cannot write anything nice about him, Amma, In fact no one’s going to write anything good about him. He’s very very naughty.”

This boy U had been the subject of many a dinnertime discussion. How U refuses to listen to the teacher and how he troubles the children!

“Surely you can think of something” I prompted.

“No,no, he’s the same boy I’ve been complaining about. He troubles everyone, never listens, not even to ma’am. Ma’am has refused to talk to him so many times, but he just doesn’t change.”

“You will be very excited to see what everyone’s written about you tomorrow, I wonder how he will feel” I said, not wanting to push him, but feeling a little sad about U.

The next 15 minutes passed with him sighing loudly because he just didn't know what to write. Finally he wrote, “ I think you can really run fast if you want. And I know everyone would like you more if you really want them to’. 

The next day, my son came home with 31 colorful scraps of paper. His classmates had called him helpful, sweet, funny and kind. A few raved about his soccer moves. There were a few too who wanted him to speak softer (my ears thank you, lil ones).

I loved this exercise that the kids had to do. It was not indicated what they could write, but almost everyone found it within themselves to think up a nice comment about the other. And if you looked hard enough, even the meanest person does have something worth liking. He may just not know it yet.

As if to drive the point in deeper, that evening, as I strolled near the play area, I overheard this conversation between two children. “ I wish people were more kind”.

And this is precisely what I think we need more of: Tolerance, kindness, graciousness, a spirit of Ubuntu! 

What is Ubuntu, you ask? It is a philosophy of African tribes that can be summed up, as "I am what I am because of who we all are." In simple words, it means that we cannot function as isolated humans individually and that we need to be interconnected.

And I cannot help feeling that displays of kindness, are getting increasingly hard to come across. Even the playground is a mini battlefield, with a lot of ego play and rage simmering. 

If I were to change something, I would alter the mental makeup of people. A little more kindness, a little more of compassion, cut back on the bitterness and rage and add generously the spirit of oneness.

A good starting point would be to do a kind gesture everyday, it could be helping a mother carry her groceries to her doorstep, or teaching a friend soccer or helping the maid with her kid’s admission! 

Go on now, pick up that phone and speak to a person you've been meaning to, and make them happy.  

Now that is very very doable, don’t you think? It's definitely a time for change. 

This can well be my submission for the 'time to change" indiblogger contest.