Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Aaruhi



"I am six years old!", said the tiny girl we met at the park. After a moment, she "corrected" herself by saying, "No I am ONE year old!". Her name was Aaruhi. She was adorable with her little pony-tail bobbing up and down as she skipped and jumped around in the park. Neil seemed to get along very well with her - at the park, this was rare.

After that, for about 20 mins Neil and Aaruhi played together. She would call me while climbing on some slides, "Aunty, mujhe pakkal-lo naa!". I asked her who she had come with and she pointed to her father who was reading a newspaper on a bench, absolutely oblivious of what his little girl was up to. I realized I was the only panicky parent in the park who was running beneath the maze of slides to track the pitter-patter of Neil's little feet. If I was allowed to climb up on it, I would have happily done so and followed him around too. 

As I was helping Neil climb one of the slides, we suddenly saw our little new friend strutting hurriedly towards her Dad's scooter with him. Within seconds, she sat on it and zoomed away - without as much a goodbye glance at us. 

When Neil realized she was going home, big fat tears started rolling down his face. He kept asking me to bring her back. I felt very helpless. I did my best to console him, but nothing seemed to help. 

Being with his grandparents that weekend seemed to help Neil get over his sadness. But the next weekend, he asked me about 'Aaruhi-didi' again. We went to the park, but she wasn't there. He was sad, but seemed to be better this time.


My little boy is a big, throbbing, walking-talking heart. With some people he gets along very well and seems to make long-lasting relationships. In the real world, I will struggle to explain to him how things work -

We live in a very dynamic world today. People come and go. They move schools, cities, countries, continents all the time.

With some people, you will make long-lasting, meaningful friendships. But sometimes you have to let them go. It is hard, but that's how it is. Some may not realize the impact they've had on you and may simply walk off. You need to let them go, happily. But when you are the one to leave, don't leave things unsaid. Say your good-byes graciously, sometimes with tears and warm hugs.

With some people, when u meet them again, nothing seems to have changed and you can pick up where you left off. With others, they are in a different time and world, changed completely due to experiences in life. All you can do is, live in the moment and hold on to the memories, experiences and the good times you share.. :)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Sugar And Spice!



Yes people. I am a mommy now. :D I haven't been posting anything on the blog for a long time coz I didn't find the words to express myself for the last one year. Today, I kinda do. Please expect more baby-posts on my blog from now on :D. I promise to keep it interesting for everyone.

Nine months of exhilaration and complete bliss. My husband, my family, friends and coworkers ensured my happiness was topped up with a lot more. I looooooooved the nine months that went by - most definitely the best months of my life.

No one warned me what the initial two months of motherhood are like. Unfortunately, I have never been around a new born baby and mother either. So I had no clue what it was supposed to be like. Thanks to a lot of close people who supported me through the initial months. All I was told by everyone were six words "Hang in there. It gets better". Best advice ever, coz that's all you can do in that time. 

Amidst the sleepless nights, the incessant, unexplained crying of the baby, nappy changing, wet burp-ups, crazy messy house (yes it still drives me mad),  visits to the doc, baby blues, (plus a LOOOT of other things that I'd refrain from mentioning here) and missing practically everything I was able to do just a few days back! 

Then one very early morning I woke up and got into the grind - starting with a nappy change and same old things I do everyday. I looked at my little boy who was studying my face intently, as usual, batting his long eye-lashes as he did so. He stared at me for hours as I talked to him or went about doing my work.

He whined a little, so I picked him up in my arms, expecting him to cry any moment. Instead, when our eyes locked, he narrowed his big eyes and gurgled softly. After a moment or two, he suddenly broke into this beautiful, inexplicably amazing smile for the first time. Instantly, all the pain and trauma of the first two months disappeared and was forgotten. My baby was puzzled when he saw me smile through blurry, moist eyes. 

It was that moment of enlightenment - when I understood what parenthood is all about. It is about selfless giving - (as said by Elizabeth Stone) - to this little piece of heart who will be forever walking out of your body. It is about what our parents did for us all along - all of their sleepless nights, patience and sacrifices. The greatest part is that they do not even remember the painful parts of parenthood. All they remember are the moments you smiled and were happy...

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Of Things That Matter Most...

(Dear readers, it has been ages since I updated my blog. I have had so many thoughts and opinions about so many things that I could not decide what to put up here. Some of the topics I have wanted to post on, have been on matters that may create a bit of melodrama here or some personal stuff too. So, I'd keep away from those. 
Some of my thoughts have revolved around home and my beloved city. In order to not bother everyone with my stories about Mumbai, I plan to start a separate blog. :) For now, here is a tiny post about an unforgettable incident that took place a few years ago...)

Even the smallest gestures in the world can make the most amount of difference. In a world where hatred breeds and petty matters are blown out of proportion, I have been also seeing another part of the world where people find absolute love and affection for each other.
 
Sometimes I actually feel it is sad that humans have words to express themselves in. We misuse them - more often than we think. With increasing virtual connectivity, we forget that it is not a must to put across each of our thoughts onto the online world or mobile phones.

There is a very old man in my husband's native place in Kerala - we call him Achu-eshan. He is very thin but extremely active. He has been with my mother-in-law's family for a very very long time. He took care of her when she was a little girl and used to be a caretaker of the family. Even today he plays the same role in the family very happily. He always has a welcoming toothless smile - no matter who he is greeting.

It was a hot summer's day 2-3 months after my wedding I was at this village for some occasion. It was Holi back home and I was a little sad as it was my first Holi away from my parents in a new, unknown place - where I was not familiar with a lot of things around me - the food, language, culture, festivals, etc. I was missing home a bit and it probably showed.

Achu-eshan speaks only Malaylam and back then I could not understand the tongue at all, so we would not converse with each other. He has probably never met too many people outside Kerala until now, so I was almost a complete stranger to him in every way. He was doing some work when I was trying to keep myself busy by reading a book. But I was not able to concentrate. 

After five minutes I was startled to see him standing next to me. His hand was extended with a little flower in his hand that he had plucked from the garden, as a gesture of compassion and friendship in a place where I was so out of place back then. It was so touching, that I will perhaps never forget it. This old man sensed the turmoil in my mind without exchange of any words between us, and tried in his own tiny way to soothe me and bring a smile to my face. Sometimes, only tiny things matter...

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Losing my wisdom...

I have always heard of kids having cavities and visiting dentists. Somehow, I never really had to go to one. Not that I took special care of my teeth all the time. But somehow I never had to go, except for an occasional cleanup. So, I have always heard stories, but never experienced anything bad. I had heard people get to eat ice-cream after a visit to the dentist. It sounded pretty hunky-dory to me. Little did I know why kids hate dentists.

My wisdom teeth sprung up pretty late. I do not know why they are called wisdom teeth. I don't remember suddenly getting wiser or anything. Two years back, my dentist saw nothing where my wisdom teeth were supposed to be. But they suddenly appeared out of nowhere and started bothering me. I tried to ignore the pain for weeks, but woke up one night with an immense pain in my jaw. The next day I decided to go to a dentist who asked me to get an X-Ray. It showed that one of my wisdom teeth in the lower jaw was growing horizontal and was causing the pain. They advised to get it removed.

I held it off for a couple of days. There was a wedding coming up and I didn't want to have a huge inflamed cheek in the pictures. But I could wait no more. One Friday evening, I finally decided to get them removed.

All the dentists in the clinic convinced me to get two of my teeth removed. After a while, I agreed. They came with needles and with no prior warnings injected stuff in my mouth. I winced. Have you seen those little rescued animals on Animal Planet who don't know what's going on when the vets hold them and give them injections and what-not. I felt like one of those animals. 

Then they led me inside a mini OR. I looked at the surgeon who was wearing a tie, his face half-covered with a mask. My hands shivering, I told him with my benumbed jaw that I was "tewiffied". I could see the nurses around giggling.

"Why?! The painful part - the injection - is over! Don't worry..," said the doctor. After some time, he looked at the X-Ray and said, "Ohh...this will take time. It is very deep and seems to be near a nerve. It will be very, very difficult". My eyes widened. He quickly said, "Difficult for us, not for you!!" How is that supposed to make me feel better??

There was a screen that showed visitors in the waiting room. I could see my husband in it. :) Perhaps the only respite I was offered. (Yes, people, this is an awww moment.) 

Through the course of the surgery, I could feel the doc pull and push at something in my jaw and another guy use the vacuum to suck the debris. The doc kept referring to the X-Ray and said again and again, "This is very, very tricky".

I wished they would give me a general anesthesia or at least shut up! Oh, wait, they didn't have to..I saw something the next minute - which I will censor from here. I was surely going to pass out then - no general anesthesia needed! That's when I knew, why I could have never been a doctor. 

The drilling and noises with pointy instruments, I will never forget! Each little thump made me vow that I will always take good care of my teeth and never want to come back again in this chair. I regretted the fact that I came to get the wisdom teeth removed, I could have lived with the pain, perhaps? And there was a wedding around the corner, did I want to look like a little pumpkin! He kept asking me questions every now and then.
A peculiar thing about dentists - they ask questions when you have a thousand instruments in your mouth and you cannot talk or even nod.

After the surgery, the doc sat next to me, gave a big sigh and said, "It is going to be tough for you to heal. It will pain and you will have massive swelling." When he said 'massive swelling' his hands went far out. My expression was definitely like a goat in a lion's cage, but he was undeterred by that. He was very,very honest. He went on for a couple of minutes about dos and don'ts which I did not hear. I just kept nodding. (No one told me how complicated this was before the surgery! All the consulting dentists had also seen the same X-Ray and they had said nothing!)

After getting a shot (perhaps for pain-relief - I don't know), I went out to the sitting room to my husband and sat next to him with my eyes wide after the ordeal. I tried to tell him that I will have swelling for three days, but he could not decipher my dumb charades. Little did I know I had more audience, an old uncle, who piped up and tried to guess what I was trying to say every now and then. I was ecstatic, each time he would get it right.

Then the post-operative doc gave us another set of guidelines and very scary things about how much pain I would have. This time my husband was with me. I asked him if he would remember what she was saying. They charged me truckloads extra for the complicated tooth extraction. I did not and most importantly - could not - argue for not being warned before the surgery. Which patient would argue in a state like that?

A doc came out after some time and gave me a very sad "you-are-going-to-be-in-a-lot-of-pain" look. He did not have a mask on, so I realized this was the surgeon who had pulled out the teeth. "Come tomorrow morning. I will give you another injection". What?? Why??! :( The real pain started 3 days after the surgery. The whole thing terrified me so much, that I have promised myself I will never go to a dentist again!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Simple Joy


I jumped off the treadmill and as I was walking towards the cross trainer, I held on to whatever I could grasp to steady myself. The last sprint had made me all woozy. I was here at the gym after a gap of almost 2 weeks. This is what a break does. I *hate* taking breaks, but I could not help it this time. Yes, I published a long blog post a few months back admonishing women for avoiding exercise. But here I was myself, back to almost square one! I looked at all the other runners and then at the men in the weight training section with amazement as they lift very, very heavy weights. I frown each time I see them, coz it is almost unbelievable! What are they made of, and what do they eat!

Today, as I ran, I saw a bunch of people at the pani-puri stall in front of the gym, across the road. These people are immensely mean. They devour their pani-puris with relish while staring up at the runners - like we are in some TV show. It is so funny, I wonder how it does not wake them up from their pani-puri reverie and join the exercisers.

After some time, a guy came on the treadmill next to me. One glance at him and I knew I was in for a bit of a lecture. I knew him and had heard this lecture once before and it makes me feel like jumping off the cliff each time! He had, perhaps forgotten that I had been an audience to it before already.

After about 4-5 minutes he started running like Flash. I could not see him (well, almost). After 10 minutes, while he was cooling down (at the speed I usually run) he gave me a smirk that said, "Eh! Weakling!".  He jumped off the treadmill while it was still on and I glanced at his monitor sideways. My eyes widened at the numbers. That is what had "inspired" me to do my last sprint - but it got me all woozy.

When I was on the bicycle, he was right there and as I expected he struck up a conversation. I knew the sequence of the conversation too. So, I only smiled and nodded.
He said he weighed 130 kgs about 2 years back and he's lost oodles of weight because of running. "It is all in the mind, you should push yourself. There are women who are of age 52 and run the Ironman Triathlons covering about 70K! You are not obese, you can run more! And you have to follow a diet. Eat carbs in the morning and only fruits throughout the day. And NO alcohol, ok? NO ALCOHOL at all!" Alcohol does this, alcohol does that, blah, blah..(As if I look like someone who gulps down big bottles of alcohol everyday) Sigh! I could see he was trying to encourage me, but it was not helping somehow!

I am like Po from Kung Fu Panda. Stairs are my biggest enemy. But running - I love. However, I can only improve at my own pace. I am out of breath in no time compared to other runners, but I am not embarrassed of that any more, because I have come a long way from where I was, 10 months back. Frankly, it is not running that I like so much, but I like the exhilaration AFTER the run which is awesome..

My biggest inspiration and the person to push me the most has been my husband. He aims for higher goals and it pushes me to at least think of achieving them. A humble confession - my New Year resolution was the TCS 10 K but I am nowhere near achieving it!

When I see my niece and nephew run around, it seems to be so easy for them to do that. Why is it that a task that was so simple becomes so tough when we grow up! The age that I am at, most of us are fit, our blood reports are normal, our hearts are ok, our lungs are moderately healthy. Then why is it so tough, I wonder. (I do not want to know the reason, lest it becomes an excuse for me to justify my slow progress and empathize with myself!)

For now, I enjoy running in sprints. When I run, I feel like I am a child again devoid of all inhibitions. I love the fact that I am ABLE to run again.  Those 20 minutes on the treadmill make me forget everything that stresses me out. And when I achieve a tiny new target, I feel like I have achieved something huge. :) I try my best to leave everything that is not-so-important and make it to the treadmill for at least 20 minutes. For me to be able do the other important things, those 20 minutes hold a lot of significance. And of course, it helps me sleep better and on time.

My new friend at the gym tried to encourage me. But when I only hear of 50-70K runs, I start panting! But he did succeed in pushing me to start aiming towards being better - even if it means starting all over again. Even today, I get everything from muscle sores to fatigue. But this Po is not willing to give up yet. All of those who are in my league, I do not want to overwhelm you by big numbers that other people achieve. But I'd love to push everyone to experience the simple joy of running...



Saturday, May 7, 2011

Eat, Pray, Love* - all at the same time!

After gulping down my last sip of lime juice, I felt I would burst. This lime juice was topped off after a cup of milk-coffee. I knew there was paneer in my tummy now. (I know it's gross, but that's what happens when you mix milk and lime). The barrage of food items had started after a deep afternoon nap. We were on a social visit to some of my uncle's friends. I could not say no and ended up stacking spicy chat, aloo aur paneer ke pakode, coke at one friend, then dhokla and coffee at the next and then chips-and-what-not and lime juice, at the third. Each time I would try to say, "No Aunty/Uncle", they would somehow manage to force me to gulp down more. I could almost imagine them pushing food down my throat using a shovel. "Lo aur khao!"

In India, (be it ANY community) one way of articulating love and respect for your guests is by feeding them. “Atithi Devobhava" - guest is God. But the polite, toned-down way of offering food to guests in the past, has now been replaced by a fervor to feed guests.

On the other hand, the atithi needs to relinquish, eat whatever he had been asked to and pray that his poor tummy will be able to sustain it all. If you are a guest and say no to what your hosts are serving you, their faces go tiny and all scrunched up. So, you have to be a good guest and show your love by munching through everything.

When a poor diabetic person goes to friends and relatives to distribute his daughter’s wedding invitation cards, they try to convince them to take a chooootusa bite out of an array of sweets - (Chalta hain!) not realizing that many such small bites at every house can be more harmful for him! But what to do, we are like that only*!


My dad is super-strict about not wasting food. So on more than one occasion, I have been stuck between an over-enthusiastic hostess and my dad glaring at my plate, knowing I was ready to give up. But I was a kid then and eating yummy, oily, junk food was fun.

It is quite a mind-game. You are offered the first serving. If you say ‘no’ to any of those items, they say, "Taste toh karke dekho! Pinky ki special dish hain". So you have to take it - to make Pinky happy. If you are washing your hands when your dish is being plated up, God alone save you! You need to be around and wary as to how much they serve you. If you finish any item, on your plate, a hawk-eyed hostess will jump up and serve you more of that item before you can say no. If you do get a chance to say no, they will say, "Kyunn?? Achha nahin laga??" Oye?? That's blackmail!

When they load your plate, you have to finish it. If you waste it, it is not only bad manners, but also means "Aapko achha nahin laga!" If you hesitate, (because you are my kind of a person who simply cannot stuff too much at one time, but is able eat more times a day) then they will ask you the most often-used question to embarrass the guest, "Oooh diet, huh??" Arre, I don't have that sort of a capacity, baba!

Sometimes, when I go to places where I know I will end up stuffing myself, my strategy is to convince my host that I have eaten quite well. (Heck, I hope they don't read this!) I have tried this, but failed every time. The next thing I try to do is to sit at such a place at the dining table where the hosts cannot easily access my plate to heap food unless they use a slingshot. And sweets! People just don't believe someone may not have a sweet tooth! I certainly don’t, especially for the ghee-soaked, strong-smelling ones. But I have never been able to convince my hosts.

I
t gets funnier around your own wedding time. It is a custom for all relatives, friends, neighbours to invite a to-be bride or groom and his/her parents for a meal before the wedding and only the groom and bride after the wedding. Luckily for me, my relatives, friends were generous enough to understand, that it is tough to visit a million places and hence threw me a combined treat. Traditionally, the bride/groom are fed incredibly beyond their capacities, so much so that they develop (a beginning of) chronic health problems around this time. It is supposed to show exuberant love to them, which is lovely. But people, we are a generation conscious of our waist-lines and wedding is definitely not the time when we'd like them to get inflated!

After my experiences, I sat back and gave it a thought. Guess what? I realized that I do the same to my guests! When someone comes over, I feel immensely guilty of not being a good hostess unless I make them scarf up a lot of food. If someone's come over for the first time, I feel obliged to make them hog more - else I may come across as inhospitable. If they refuse point-blank, I do feel a bit disappointed. I hate it when I don't have a range of things to rattle off to offer my guests, hoping they would say yes to at least one. What is it about us Indians that makes us feel like that!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

When I am stereotyped…

(Hi readers, the following stories are 100% true. Also, my view-points don’t apply to all…just a certain, but a substantial set of people!)

Having stayed in Mumbai for a long time, when I moved out, I was in for a big surprise. I never looked at Mumbai from any other perspective than a place that is a big city bustling with life, a place where I lived my school and college-life, a place I call my first home and where I can shop and eat to my heart's content.
If I try to describe what it is like to live in that city, I could end up writing a book. But that's out of scope for this entry. :)

The first place I shifted to was Pune, where I met people from a lot of places in the country – places I didn’t know existed in India! Initially, I was completely taken aback when I was stereotyped for the first time in my life…

The B-effect
People assume we are related to gangsters who stand with guns at every corner, selling cocaine out on the streets. They think all Maharashtrians in Mumbai sit at the feet of the Thackerays to elicit gyan from them. They believe everyone on the streets in Mumbai is out to deceive them. (I have been cheated by autowallas in other places a thousand times more than in Mumbai!) You need to be on your toes in every big city – be it New York or Mumbai. But this is what Bollywood movies have done to the city and I pity the people who actually believe them!

The languages
People tell me that Marathi is a very crude language (after listening to the autowallas or maids talk the unpolished, rural version) and that Mumbaiyya Hindi is rude. The Hindi is not exactly rude, it is quite informal. The origin of this version is probably on account of the convergence of South Indians, Maharashtrians, Goan Christians, Gujratis, Marwaris and many other sects. All of these people speak different languages at home and cannot really speak the original, grammatically correct, “uptight” version of Hindi. A slightly closer version of this language is what I hear in my second home – Bangalore, and I love it!

The “Embarrassment-to-Mumbai-family” (who are originally not even from Mumbai!)
Once I was asked that if someone calls Mumbai, Bombay, while they were in the city, would they be beaten up? To answer that, I’d say, you would not be beaten up, but you maaaay get queer glances, coz most of us are into the habit of calling the city Mumbai now. Somehow, people got used to the change in name of Chennai, Kolkata, and other cities rather quickly. But Mumbai stayed Bombay for a lot of us. Let’s just tell the Thackerays that people like the older English name better, so please keep your minions quiet. (Oh, and did you know that their own name is Anglicized?!)

Girls in Mumbai
I have a friend who happened to step out of her house in Mumbai for the first time for her corporate training. She, too, went through the initial shock and surprise. Someone asked her when they heard she was from Mumbai, "Oh, so u must have seen the red-light areas, no?" (!!!)

Another instance was when she went to ask a group of fellow (guy) trainees if they wanted to go to Smokin' Joes (a pizza chain). Their eyes grew wide, said no and giggled behind her back.
Later, she asked one of them why they reacted like that when she had asked them if they wanted to eat pizza. His jaw dropped at that and said, "Oh you were asking us for a pizza meal?? We misheard you. We thought you were asking us to come to the Smoking Zone! We assumed, since you are from Bombay, maybe your female friends there smoke often and you don’t have company here!" Really????

Most of my friends stay with their parents and we have been brought up the way most Indian girls are. Of course, there are differences in what we see around us having stayed in the city, but maybe we tend to pick up the good lessons from that! Come on! It really is hard for a girl, to go to discotheques at 12 in the night and come back home drunk while staying with her parents. I thought that was pretty obvious. People were quite taken aback when they knew I was from Bandra, yet I had never been to a discotheque in Mumbai in the 21 years I’d stayed there!



I have seen some people go pipe dreaming when they come to bigger cities. The freedom is great, but the values don't change much for the local people! We are, after all, pukka Indians, we simply stay in bigger “villages”. I know of a girl who comes from a place called Krishnapur. (When you hear the name, you'd first feel like its some quaint old village). Having stayed in another metro for a couple of years, she now smokes like a chimney and drinks like fish! That, in turn, changed my perception about some people who migrate to the metros and get disoriented. How does that pinch, huh?