Nostalgia


And so it begins. The much awaited and anticipated trip of the year. Next week am off to Mumbai with S. Hubby will come later in the month. We shall be in Mumbai the entire summer. I have been planning this trip for quite some time now. By planning I mean micro-detailing, breaking it down into weeks and days and making a list of things I need to do on those days. This method has hardly been a success in the past, but then one can always hope.

The highlight of the trip is going to be spending some quality time with my grandma. When was the last time I had a sit-down with her? The last I remember is 2009, right after S was born and she was with us. A year after that I had travelled to Edinburgh and even though I have been going to India on holidays, time with her had been short.

Now that she is at my dad’s place, I hope to rekindle and perhaps create some more memorable moments with her. The time she spent in the nursing home, I was engulfed with the most distressing nostalgia and helplessness. ‘Missing her’ wouldn’t cover it. There was this deep emptiness inside me and the thought that I wouldn’t get to spend a relaxed time with her whenever I visited India. It felt like I had to let go of a deep part of me. Time spent with her at the nursing home was limited to an hour. And when you know you have only a fixed time to spend, you can’t really think of all the things you want to say. There was no time to lie down idly and listen to songs and ghazals, there was no time to listen to her little nuggets of wisdom, there was no time to be lazy and be in each other’s company and just be. There was no time to discuss the subtle differences between the urdu ghazal words. There was no time to discuss Lata or Christie or Hardy. Most of the happy memories from my childhood have revolved around her. The summer vacations were spent partly in her home. Being in her company was enough. We didn’t have to do anything special to feel happy.

It has been predicted that this year will have a lot of rain. This looks like the perfect setup to have lots of chai and gupshup with aaji.

Day 16: Dad and I


On a saturday few weeks ago, I was having the perfect morning. I had got up late and was browsing blogs and sites while sipping coffee. Just then I saw my dad online on Skype.

When my dad is on the computer, there is usually some music playing in the background. Love for music is something that runs in the family – especially old hindi movie songs and ghazals.

This morning was no different. As soon as the call connected, I heard one of Mehdi Hassan’s song playing at a high volume. I hadn’t heard this one in a long time. Relaxed as I was, I tried to remember when I had last heard it but couldn’t grasp any memory of it. The tune sounded familiar, I was sure I had heard it before or something similar to it.

I finally gave up and said, “This song sounds familiar, isn’t the tune similar to some ghazal or some other song that I might have heard? I’m sure I have heard something like this before. It definitely resembles some song.” “Yes” he nodded gravely, “It resembles this song itself.” We both cracked up after that. Once we had stopped laughing he assured me that there is no other song or ghazal with the same tune and since I hadn’t heard it in a long long time, I couldn’t quite place it.

First impressions


Let me begin with saying that I am amazed at the kiddo’s nature to adapt. He was an angel during the flight. I think he actually enjoys the travel – the experience. He is always super excited when we travel by train or even by bus. Although, I think he was a little overwhelmed with all the emotional welcome and affection thrown his way by his grandparents and other relatives. He recovered soon and on our entire trip from airport to home, he was a chatterbox – counting the buses, autos, trucks and tempos.

I, in turn had a little adventure. I made my husband pick up someone else’s bag – (not on purpose!) when we got them off the conveyor belt. Thankfully our own bag had our number on it and the bag’s owner called us before we left the airport. Luckily for me, the saint had to deal with the security officers 🙂 After this minor mishap, I truly felt that I have landed in Mumbai! 

Kiddo’s cousin, my SIL’s son, is eager to play with him and surprise surprise! the kiddo plays with him too. In our last visit kiddo had turned into a human magnet and stuck to me all the time whereas now, both are behaving as if they are kumbh ke mele mein bichade hue bhai. I am hoping things will be so for the rest of our trip. I doubt whether he will be the same when the rest of the family joins in for Ganpati. I am trying to prepare him, as much as possible, for the number of relatives who would soon join us for Ganpati festival.

Two things have amused him a lot:

  • The ceiling fan – he can look at it for hours and he wants to switch them on every time he walks into a room
  • His cousin’s antics – enough said! 

It is a truth nationally acknowledged that a grandchild who lives abroad must be in want of continuous overwhelming attention from his/her grandparents on his visit to India. He must be showered with constant affection, love and gifts on a daily basis. I have come to believe that the line between affection and obsession is very thin indeed.

In such cases as this, the grandchild soon falls under the impression that he is a superior being who should be worshipped and be the centre of attention. Given the current situation the kiddo will soon be the above example.

As for me, I am hit with nostalgia and I go awwww at even small things…a familiar lane, atmosphere, even the vegetable and fish vendors lining up a street. Having said that, I also end up cursing the heat, pollution, dust and such sundry stuff that is part and parcel of Mumbai. At one time I am craving to travel local trains and at the very next, end up frustrated at the crowds that I would encounter.

Family and friends are eager and excited to meet us and hopefully we will find time to meet everyone. All this attention makes me feel as if I am a celebrity or at least someone very important… hee hee.. soon I would be waving and blowing kisses at random people I see on the road. 🙂

Parental anxiety – should you force your child to do things?


Imagine this: I am working in the kitchen and kiddo is playing with his puzzles. I get a call on Skype from my parents and I see that they are eager and excited to talk to my son. But kiddo doesn’t rush to the laptop. Perhaps he is engrossed in his game. Or maybe he needs some time to warm up to them but for whatever reason, he won’t budge nor raise his head so that they can take a look at him. He is just not feeling it. Repeat this scenario with his other set or grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, great grandma, in short, everyone.

And I can’t help but feel it. Can he not just wave at them? or at least say a quick hello? Feeling the pressure and not wanting the situation to get any more awkward, I tell him to come and say hello, show them some random toy, tell them what you did today, just anything. But as soon as I say those words, I feel guilty for making him perform an act just to satisfy other’s desires. He has told me quite a few times that he does not want to talk and has refused to come into the room. At other times, he is over excited and eager to talk to them and cannot contain himself. But in situations like these you can’t help but feel a bit awkward, guilty for your kid’s sake and even a bit pressurised, can you? I know kids can’t be expected to make small talk and I have absolutely no idea how to change this situation without the risk of manipulating him into talking.

Another incident: A couple of weeks back, we had been to Gambado, which is a soft play centre. There we met a colleague of Saint’s and his family. His son is about the same age as kiddo. His parents kept nudging and telling the little boy to play with kiddo. Now I had never had to deal with the situation where I have to tell kiddo to share and play with others. He does it on his own. Being an only child, I find it amazing that he has the will to share his toys with others. But I know that yelling, scolding or even repeatedly telling your child to share something with another or play with someone is not going to make them do it. It has to come from instinct, compassion and generosity. In the playgroup I have seen kiddo waiting out patiently for his turn to play with a toy and after sometime when the playworker tells him nicely that another boy also wants to play with the said toy, kiddo has promptly let go of it. Kids do listen, nice and easy.

And then there are other similar issues of my misguided anxiety – whether he is eating enough, if he is cold and should I make him put just one more jacket. After all, mothers know best? You do however know that things are going to get bad if they just are. He will catch the cold if it’s meant to be and that is not because of the jacket, wet hair or being barefoot.

I know I have to let him be. All I can do is facilitate his activities or offer him a choice and not push him into doing something he is not ready to do but hell, it is hard especially when all I need him to do is just talk and respond.

I am not being paranoid today, just a bundle of nerves with all these questions. Any ideas? advice? suggestions? All welcome!

What do housewives do?


‘What do you do all day! except washing utensils and cooking whatever groceries your husband brings home’ asked a relative some time back. Note the contempt. It was said with a sneer even.

‘Nothing! I just sit around all day, read books, watch TV and eat ready meals heated in the microwave’ was my retort or something like that. After all I am just a housewife.

It is a falsity universally acknowledged that a housewife or a stay at home mom has no work and just sits around all day being lazy and making merry.

The working woman is the one who does all the work at office and at home! The housewife should in fact be ashamed to stay at home and be a burden on her husband – as he has to work hard to provide for her.

For the work of the housewife cannot be seen, evaluated and appraised. She doesn’t get a pay check at the end of the month to prove she’s done any work.

Here are some of the chores/housework that takes place automatically/mechanically/magically at my home:

  • The house is always clean – the rooms, furniture, upholstery are cleansing agents – they clean themselves. They do not need a person dusting, washing and swiping at them.
  • The delicious food gets cooked automatically and magically finds itself served hot on the table. Three times a day.
  • The clothes, when spoiled, find their way to the washing machine and when the machine is done, go and hang themselves on the stand. What’s more, when they are all dry they walk up to the closet and fold themselves neatly in the shelves; some of them even place themselves on ironing stands and get themselves ironed – again to walk into the closets in neat folds.
  • The groceries are automatically replenished. Perhaps the refrigerator has a mechanism with the superstore to refill the items.
  • The trash – when it finds itself stinking unbearably walks out into the trash-cans outside the building.
  • If you are in India, the door is automatically answered 20 times a day for salesman, postman, neighbours, watchman, sundry people and their requirements are answered.
  • The phone is answered by an operator.
  • The small baby in the house dresses, feeds and cleans himself without any help from the adult. Or perhaps the fairy mother takes care of the child and looks after his needs.
  • The kids raise themselves with good values, discipline and nutrition. If the child has good values, is well-behaved, obedient and generally a good boy all around – then it must be his inherent nature and he is born with it – the stay at home mom has no influence or contribution in it at all.
  • Note that if you are living abroad, the maid, servant, driver, etc. is all rolled into one person – the housewife. There is no maid to do your daily chores of washing the dishes and clothes. You have to do your own groceries shopping and carry them from the shop to your house.

So then what do housewives have to crib about?

Today if a woman chooses to stay home it is usually because she has the option and wants to care for her children. The fact that despite being well-educated and worked hard enough to make a career, these women have made a conscious and rational decision to give up their jobs to take care of their children, I think such women should be respected for their choices.

Longing


Wistful
Wistful (Photo credit: Rich Renomeron)

One of my best friends and colleagues at my old firm got a promotion. I just received her mail. Happy as I am for her, I can’t help but feel a tinge sad for myself. I could have been in her position. Hell, we both would have been celebrating our promotions right now.

It’s not jealousy. I am truly happy for her. She is one of the best persons I know and I am very happy to have her in my life. I am also very content to be at home and watch my son grow. The individual inner self though who is not a wife, mother, daughter, daughter-in-law, is wistful. At the moment.

Where had I been?


I have been regularly missing this space. But I would try to here more often now.

So an update about family first. My son is now comfortable in playgroup. His dad goes to drop him and I pick him up. He is excited to go every day and wakes up early without complaint.

As for me, I thought I would get some time for myself and I can do activities like going to the library, maybe catch an early morning show, perhaps even go shopping. Who was I kidding? I have been more busy now than ever. The time that kiddo spends in playgroup, I spend in frantic household chores. Cooking, cleaning, laundry! One hour from my morning is spent in picking him up from playgroup and coming back home. Yeah, I got busy and I still don’t have me time. 😦

In other sad new, my grandma took another fall and got her other thigh bone broken early Sunday morning. She was operated and is still in hospital.

In further sad news, our visa expires in April. We have no idea yet whether hubby will find more projects and our visa would get extended. I so so want to continue our stay here. This place is the longest we have stayed together after marriage, the place where kiddo took his first step, said his first words, even started school. And no doubt this place is absolutely positively beautiful. I think we haven’t explored half of Edinburgh, let alone Scotland. We both are collectively anxious and nervous. Please do pray for us.

On a small positive note, my FIL has started a blog. Here’s the link. Do visit and comment. Thanks 🙂

The Birthday Week


One day is not enough to celebrate your birthday, seriously.

There is too much excitement, you receive assorted gifts in the coming days from friends and relatives and mostly there is too much food to be hogged and you just cannot do it in one day!

When we are small, we have birthday parties, one single get together with friends and family to celebrate your birthday, grab the gifts, eat cakes and other delicious food. And then you are done. The excitement is over. Just like that. But as you grow older, the birthday parties are rare and not organised every year, the number of gifts dwindle and in general it’s not a big deal. 

To recreate the fun, we (mostly me and my uncle-aunt) decided that birthdays should be celebrated for the entire week – a few days before and a few days after the big day. It should be a more elaborate event. Like Diwali – each day you have something to celebrate, more fun, more sweets, more food – in all a darn good time over a few days. We started having impromptu dinner parties at home and restaurants, ordered takeaways, indulged in roadside chats, paani puri, ice creams – the reason always being, someone’s birthday was due in a couple of days. That way you could enjoy for more than one day and eat all your favourite foods and specially feel special and important.

Why am I suddenly being nostalgic and ranting about this. My birthday falls in this first week of August. Fortunately this week also marks the beginning of Shraavan. Although we are not following Shraavan, no non-veg food can be consumed during this entire week as festivals are marked throughout. Be still my heavy heart, we can still have fun with the veg food. Afterall, ghaas-phus can be made interesting.

 

So am officially announcing the commencement of celebrations for my birthday, besides, the world is a better place because of me. I have already started my celebration with mutton chops, Pomfret curry and strawberry wine. Go ahead, stop fretting, stop worrying, indulge yourselves, eat out, have fun, go on a holiday you have been longing to, meet your loved ones, have that tempting plate of food (to hell with the calories) and have a great week. In case anyone asks or you have guilty pangs, blame it on my birthday.

Things I wish/want for my birthday:

  • Mental peace, an anchor, something to hold onto – to rest my mind from the tangle of thoughts that obstruct my clarity of vision and judgement.
  • Get a hold on as many books as I can since I have the feeling that this is the only leisurely time I will ever get to read and relax.
  • A job: Something that will make me productive again – something to which I can apply my mind to and feel satisfied with the results. I miss those deadlines, pressure and anxiety, yes I miss feeling miserable.
  • Self actualisation: My grandma will agree with me that age has not brought me what it is supposed to bring in people  – wisdom, astuteness and some personality. I can’t at times find any changes in myself from when I was a teenager. Anger has always been my downfall and letting it get the better of me has often led me into trouble. People will not bother with who is right and who is wrong – they will only pinpoint at the person who is angry and shouting – and mostly that is me. Still need to change that.
  • Physical exercise: Have never done it, nor likely to do in near future unless advised by the doctor. But I always feel good after a coming back from a walk or running after the brat.  Need to do that more often. Need some fresh air and here it is plenty.
  • Music: There was once a time when I lived and thrived on music. I used to carry my Walkman to college and listen to songs during my commute. I used to go to sleep at night listening to songs. Nowadays I hardly ever turn on the music. Nursery rhymes, Thomas, Chuggington, Tom and Jerry are the order of the day. I want to make an attempt to listen to more of my favourite songs. Find that iPod!
  • Take a break: from my routine – from cooking, cleaning, other household chores, being a mother and care taker. I need a break. I mean a real break from all that I am doing 24/7. I need a carefree life for sometime for at least a few days. I know it will come soon but till then need to hang in there.
  • Chocolate: It helps, really it does. One bar of dairy milk can work wonders and I have been indulging since quite some time now. I want to dig up more recipes for all sorts of chocolate milkshakes, cakes, etc for this summer. A girl needs her chocolate, that’s the bottom line.

That should do for now. 🙂