Tag: friends

Keep your friends close

Keep your friends close

On my blog here, I generally haven’t been very forthcoming with my opinions on happenings around me in the country or the world. All I talk about is my small little universe here with the twins and the Husband. It does take up most of my thoughts (I am obsessivemom, remember?).
That’s not to say I don’t have opinions. How can I not, living in this age of information overload? We have unlimited access to news 24X7 and yet the truth remains ever more elusive. How weird is that! It might have to do with the fact that our media is so highly polarised. We get umpteen versions of the same truth. No matter what side we’re on we find more than enough information to sustain our point of view.
And so we end up believing what we want to and can continue to stick with it and argue about it without even considering that a different viewpoint might exist.
Many times when I’ve been reading a piece that doesn’t resonate with me I’ve shut it down in disgust because it made me so very frustrated and angry. I’ve unfollowed and unfriended for my peace of mind simply because some points of view unsettle me so.
However, there’s a bit of a danger in that, a danger of the formation of an ‘us’ and a ‘they’ – people who think what I think and those who don’t. That certainly cannot be healthy.
So how then do I get a reality check?
I get mine through friends. Friends who come from different backgrounds, belong to different parts of the country, friends who think differently, who support different parties, who come up with arguments different from mine and who argue vociferously.
I keep them close.
You should too.
The other day I was out for dinner with a bunch of them. Between spoonfuls of cheesy pasta and some first class biryani our conversation veered towards a recent political development. Before we knew it we were in the middle of an argument, a rather heated one. Ten minutes later we were back to the biryani and the baby potatoes and all was well with the world.
And that is how it should be.
As long as you don’t make each argument a point of prestige, as long as it’s not about winning or losing, as long as you’re willing to be convinced, to admit you didn’t see it like that, that you didn’t know a certain fact. It will be fine.
There will be times of course when you won’t agree at all and days when you won’t part on a happy note. But that’s fine too because you’re friends and you bond on many many levels not just on that one political or social point. And so you will come back to each other sharing exam woes and teen troubles while laughing over ‘fat’ jokes even as you plan breakfast outings or lunch dates.
Just as pasta and biryani share my plate happily making it richer for the difference, so can different thinking friends stay together and make your life that much richer, make your viewpoint broader, more tolerant.
Keep your friends close and your ‘different thinking’ friends even closer.
End note: If you find me getting into an argument with you it means I consider you a dear friend, a very dear one.


How can I not be grateful? #gratitudecircle

How can I not be grateful? #gratitudecircle

When I sat down to write the last post of the year, which was supposed to be my gratitude post I drew a blank. Gratitude posts don’t come easily to me. However, later when I was posting the new year wish on my Facebook timeline I realised the one thing that had cheered me through the year had been my friends and family.
And there it was – that one single thing, which I mentioned ever so casually, was the biggest blessing anyone can ever want – the love of friends and family. And this year has been more bountiful than ever because I met up many friends, actually many many friends, some for the first time, in person, face to face.
In all of my ten years of blogging I hadn’t ever met any of my blogger friends, in part because I am in one rather isolated corner of the country and part due to my own rather unexplained reluctance to do so. It was momentous then, that I met Shilpa a dear BARmate right at the beginning of the year. And we chatted for hours like familiar friends, easy and comfortable.
That set the tone for the entire year.
A friend from my journalism days dropped by. Seriously, there really is no gossip as delicious as office gossip. I caught up with who-had-moved-where, who-got-the-pink-slip, who-moved-to-television and who-will-always-stick-to-print. I do miss all of that sometimes.
Then came another friend from my Mumbai days. She was my roomie in the working women’s hostel. She’s the one who would ‘save’ tea and breakfast for me while I slept in on Sunday mornings, the one with whom I trawled Churchgate pavements for books and Fashion Street for clothes. She’s the one who made hostel life bearable.
I travelled to Delhi during the summer and met up with a bunch of school friends. The years fell away as we chatted about dreaded teachers and well-loved school mates and made as much noise as we made during ‘tiffin-time’ at school.
I spent a few days with my first ever mommy friend. Our kids were almost the same age and we reminisced how we celebrated when they first went to play-school, how we’d felt at once bereft yet relieved when we had those two hours of me-time. It’s amazing how the toughest days make the best of friends.
Later in the year, I ventured to the Pune Lit Fest, meeting up another writer friend who was soon to launch a book. She’s the one who prodded me to write my first ever story for the Chicken Soup series. I wrapped up the year at her launch event feeling very proud and very happy for her because I know exactly how hard it is to write a book with two sons and a house to run.
But the most momentous occasion of all was meeting up with my cousins – the Super Six. We recreated a two-decade old childhood photograph and it was absolutely the best thing to have happened. I wrote about it here.
Lastly, most importantly, each time I have been happy or upset I have had all of you to unburden myself to. We haven’t met and we may never meet, yet how can I not be grateful for your presence?
I might not have broken any records, or won any lottery, but the year was crammed with scores of super-happy moments. How can I not be grateful?
Thank you 2016.

Friend, buddies and influences

Friend, buddies and influences

Much as I tried H and N were never the perfectly behaved children I would have liked them to be. They had their good moments and their bad. They could embarrass me thoroughly in public making me question my upbringing and then do something so sweet, so thoughtful, so completely unselfish that my heart would fill with love and pride. Their being Geminis might have something to do with it!
However hard these ups and downs might have been, they taught me one thing – that there were no really ‘bad’ kids. Having seen so many shades of my own I believed firmly that all kids had bits of good and bad in them.
And so when they were younger I encouraged them to include all other kids around them when they played. The quiet ones, the shy ones, the naughty and boisterous, the spoilt and the generous ones – all of them. Despite their quirks and shortcomings they all stuck together. Also, once I got to know them I learnt to like them all.
It helped that we were a bunch of like-minded mothers who looked out for all the kids and reprimanded them too, as they would their own.
However, I find things changing as the kids grow. They are no longer small children nor are their friends. All of them have suddenly developed personalities of their own, rather strong ones, at that! They have fixed ideas of what is cool and what is not, what is good what is bad, right and wrong and that, sometimes, doesn’t coincide with what I think is right or age-appropriate.
I hear some of the older girls giggling over ‘crushes’ and  when N tells me about them, all I can think is “She’s just ten!” — too early to be listening in on stories of crushes. I hear words like ‘loser’ (how I detest it!), ‘jerk’ and much worse. One day N asked me what a b*****d was. Then we had this very lengthy discussion on why I must object each time they says sh**. ‘Everyone says it’, H argued, ‘even adults say it.’ He’s right of course and yet I’d much rather not have that language at home.
With peer-pressure peaking, I have to confess I have begun to think about how other kids influence H and N, specially the older ‘cooler’ lot, who the twins idolise. I find, now, that there are children whom I wish H and N just wouldn’t hang out with. Yet it doesn’t feel quite right to brand a particular child ‘bad company’, to ask the children to stay away from him or her.
What makes it more complicated is that I do see the good in them too – some are extremely well-read and well-informed, one of them is a crazy Harry Potter fan (a definite plus for me), one is a computer whizz, another one is passionate about animals and has loads of interesting nuggets of information. I like them for all those things but I feel they’re not quite right for H and N.
So what do I do?
I understand that there will be good and bad influences around them all the time. I cannot control them. I know that. So can I continue to stick with my idea of ‘people aren’t bad, habits are’? That’s what I told them when they were younger. Or am I being too idealistic?
Should I accept that along with the good comes bad and let them be, even while I continue to remind them of the rights and wrongs and hope to God they are listening? Will that help at all? Are they capable of seeing the good from the bad rather than idolising people as a whole? Or are they just too young to evaluate people objectively?
I could engage them elsewhere and minimise interaction. But that needs just so much energy and mind space. Sigh!

Apologies for off loading my worries here but I’m a bit lost. Am I over-thinking this whole thing?
Picture credit: PIXABAY
Linking up with Nabanita’s #MommyTalks.

Finding gratitude during exams

Finding gratitude during exams

And so September bids adieu. And with that come exams – the first ever for the kids. I find myself unable to think of much else while the kids can think of everything else except academics.

I find them reading story books, making song lists, comparing computer game scores and planning ‘what to wear for the dandiya night’. Apparently they have picked up none of my exam anxiety and for that I have learnt to be immensely grateful.
I find I need at least three or four of me to help both of them while keeping them apart and managing the house. Early this week just as the arguments were turning into a complete impasse who should arrive but the husband! I don’t think I was as happy to see him arrive on our wedding day. Was I grateful!
He has such a calming influence on all three of us.
He took the kids out shopping (for all kinds of exam stationery) and they settled down to their studies.
He was only here for five days and was working for four of them yet we were happy to have him home. He’s gone now. And I think we will survive. I am already looking beyond the next 20 days to vacations when we will be travelling to join him.
By the next academic term we hope to be together.
I thought that was all I had for the gratitude post this month but as I write I realise I have more, so much more. Last evening while I was struggling with Marathi lessons with the kids (a language they now know better than me), I was dragged off for an hour of Zumba. I have to admit that one part of me was pretty incredulous that I could leave the kids between their exams for something as frivolous as Zumba. However, it was all for the best because the kids were anyway having a field day laughing at my pronunciations as I tried to quiz them.
And so I am grateful to friends and family who always rally around pulling me for impromptu breakfasts, long morning walks and short evening chats, keeping me sane.
I am now looking forward to October – the latter half of course.

I’d love to know your thoughts on academics and how they effect the kids and you. How important are they? Were they a trial for you when you were young or did you breeze through them? Do you find it difficult to get your kids to study? How different is it from the time you were a child and now?

If I seem overly and rather unnecessarily stressed do forgive me but academics have taken over all of my thoughts of late. Do bear with me for a few weeks.

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and with Mel at  Microblog Mondays.
                                                
Friendship lessons

Friendship lessons

I spent over two decades of my life in a North Indian town with barely any exposure to the outside world other than the books I read. None of them told me what to really expect out there. However, when I left for a job in Delhi I had firm views on just about everything, hanging on to prejudices and preconceived notions that come with lack of exposure. 
That’s how I would have gone through life had the powers above not been on my side. Fate has, since then, worked overtime to systematically rid me of all my said ideas.
I used to dismiss Punjabis as loud and crass. And God gave me a friend born and brought up in the gullies of old Delhi. Her FB status once read ‘Punjabiayn di battery charge rehndi hai’. She was loud as the loudest yet she was also generous and thoughtful and always available when I needed her. Before I knew it I was borrowing from her memories of her grandmom and quoting in Punjabi, pathetically stilted Punjabi I might add, not everyone can get that endearing accent quite right.
I thought South Indians were closed and conservative. And God gave me a roomie straight from Chennai. Together we traipsed around the streets of Mumbai walking at Marine Drive or shopping at Fashion Street. She taught me that South Indian food went beyond idlis and dosas. She could talk books till the sun went down and came up again. She has since then, set up her own library. We could laugh at our respective accents and would compare how ‘love’ was pronounced in each of them – her luvv to my lau.
I thought Maharashtrians were stuck up and spoke weird Hindi. Along came a friend who was completely unstuck herself. I discovered that there existed a tumhi along with the tu and got a glimpse of the proud Maratha history, way beyond Bajirao. We argued about everything from books to religion over hot cups of chai at a different roadside joint each time. I found my Hindi turning into a taporier version – no longer chaste yet nice and colourful and way more interesting.
I thought army wives came with a chip on their shoulders and I got a friend who taught me to appreciate their discipline and the way they stood up for their own. I grudged them their ‘benefits’ but stories of hazardous postings, sad accidents and lost lives made their tribulations only too real. Another one would laugh with me at the Army Wives’ ‘parties’ yet go hunting for the right sari because it was ‘flower theme’ at the meet. ‘It’s crazy but it’s so much fun. I love it,’ she’d say.
I thought SAHMs were all about shopping and kitty parties and God turned me into one making me want to kill anyone who asked ‘How do you kill time?’ Oh and along the way I also questioned where’s the crime in a ladies’ day out or shopping (unless it’s excessive, and then the trouble is with the ‘excess’ not the shopping).
Finally there came the biggest, craziest most miraculous mind changer – I thought kids were a nuisance and God gave me twins. Nuisance they most certainly are, but they’re also the best thing that ever happened to me.
Dear people know that stereotypes may be true – after all they are stereotypes for a reason. However people are different in a million ways and are definitely more than just a bunch of generic qualities.
So make friends – all kinds – across ages, and sex, race and city and nationality if you can. Open up, meet, talk, debate, argue, empathise. That’s the very best way to remain non-judgemental and open minded.
God knows we could do with some tolerance.