Category: gratitude

Of friends and friendships

Of friends and friendships

Really, writing a post on friends and friendship is so very hard. Not because one doesn’t have much to say but because everything that one would say has already been said, over and over again, till all that remains is a bunch of tired clichés.

I’ve written about it often enough too. Friends have helped me become less judgemental, more accepting. They’ve helped me try out new things, offered a shoulder to cry on, heard out my rants and made me stick to resolutions.

As you grow older you move on from having a single all-purpose BFF, so to say, to a vast category of friends. As I try to write about some of them I’ll go with those that are top of my mind now.

It’s been a week since I got back from my hometown but I’m still a bit hungover so School Friends are bound to top the list. They are the best kind, aren’t they? I mean how can you not be friends with the girl whose plait got yanked by the teacher along with yours? Quite like Krishna yanked the reins of those horses in the battlefield of  Kurukshetra. School friends have been witness to the ultimate insults heaped upon you and not believed a single one of them. They are the ones who’ve known you from the time you were a plump tween battling the bulge and, if you are lucky, they are still with you as you turn into a middle age woman battling the bulge.

The thing is – to them it doesn’t matter.

They only remember you as the girl whose mum made the most smashing tiffin, the one who made a Bollywood parody out of Macbeth, or the one who could touch her tongue to her nose or one who couldn’t stop laughing even when she was sent out of class.

Those are the things that matter to them and that’s why they are special.

Neighbourhood friends were an integral part of my childhood but then as I grew and got caught up in academics and work I thought I’d didn’t need them at all, where was the time? Life seems to have come a full circle and I cannot imagine what I’d do without them.

 

Neighbours might not all be the sexy kind but they’re still a blessing

They are the ones who host you the time the door bangs shut just as you step out to put the trash. They also give you the number of the keymaker and assure you, you looked just fine in your frumpy faded nightdress. They take your couriers when you’re not around and even hand over the COD amount.
 They make rangolis at your doorstep and light diyas for you when you’re out for Diwali.
They’re the ones who hear/see your Taraka avatar with the children. They not only keep your secret but also keep loving you despite that.

How did I ever do without them!

And finally my very favourite kind – the Slightly Crazy-so-not-my-type of friends. This one is a bit of a peculiarity because you are pretty much poles apart and yet you connect at some strange level – the level headedness of one balancing the craziness of the other, mixing excitement and caution for a perfect cocktail that keeps you high but holds you back from going over the edge. These are the friends who got me to do things I’d never have done on my own. Things I would have wished I had done but never actually gone out and taken the plunge. But for them I would never have trekked to a fort with zero level of fitness, run a marathon (not a full one, just a baby one but id did get me walking), bought dangerously high heels or joined a Zumba class. What fun all of that turned out to be. I might soon be heading to Spanish class rather than slogging it out on Youtube as I’d originally planned.

Life would drab and dull without these crazy ones.

There, those are the friends I am grateful for today. Which are the friends you cherish most?

Linking up with Amrita for #ThankfulThursdays. Thank you for a fabulous prompt Amrita.

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Also linking up with Vidya’s Gratitude Circle Blog Hop. Do click on the link and head on over.

The best sound in the world

The best sound in the world

You know what’s the best sound in the world? The sound of laughter. And if it is that of a loved one it is even more precious.
As I sat in my room working at my laptop the other day, I heard my parents laugh out loud at something they were watching on the television in the other room. It brought an unwitting smile to my face, just like the sound of H and N’s laughter does, although in the second case there is also a degree of relief :-).
I love the sound of my parents’ laughter because it transports me to my childhood, to days of endless giggles and noisy arguments. My father would complain sometimes – ‘You make enough noise for ten people’, he would tell us. ‘We’re alive, that’s why’, my mom would retort. Over the years he pretty much got used to it and came to put up with our racket cheerfully.
I love to hear them laugh because it reminds me what a boisterous family we are and that perhaps that’s where H and N get their noisiness from. It’s definitely not from the Husband’s side! It reminds me then, that I really have no business to complain, that I should be more patient with them.
My parents’ laughter speaks of the wonderful camaraderie they share despite being complete opposites. I listen to them quibbling and then settling down with their books. I hear them discussing Rekha’s biography which mum is reading. Then as the news comes on their conversation becomes even more animated and veers to Akhilesh and Mulayam Singh Yadav. They’ve come a long way since when they first met in German class. I love how their interests have merged over the years, though my mum still draws the line at cricket.
I love their laugh because it reassures me that they are happy and healthy. It speaks of their spirit that the aches and pains of age have failed to dampen. I can already see my mum raising her eyebrows at the word ‘age’ as she asks, ‘Who’s old here?’.

They left last week but I still hear their laughter ringing in my ears  and I am grateful.
Picture credit : Pixabay
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.

Meri wali Diwali

Meri wali Diwali

Diwali to me has always meant being home. No matter where I worked, no matter how much the work pressure, Diwali would see me braving crowded trains, sometimes sitting through the entire 26 hour journey, to my parents.
Home, now is with the Husband and kids. The celebrations aren’t the same too. Just as much fun, but in a different way.
I clean (yeah I do that sometimes) and so do the kids. We buy pretty knick-knacks. N begins to think up rangoli designs way in advance and H always makes a late entry and wants to make one too. The diyas are bought, washed, dried and painted. The large ceremonial pot is cleaned and filled with water ready for flowers and floating candles. Gifts for dear friends are picked with care and are kept wrapped and ready. I go hunting for Ganesh-Lakshmi idols. In this part of the country solo Lakshmi idols seem to be the norm but back home the two gods were inseparable. For years I thought Ganesh and Lakshmi were a couple, wondering where Vishnu ji fitted in the whole picture!
Lunch that day is frill-free because cooking is not my forte. I try to stick to what I can handle – large chunks of paneer in tomato gravy, potatoes fried a golden brown, hot puffed puris and soft dahi wadas with tamarind-jaggery chutney. Basic stuff but it works for us. I make up by laying out the table as prettily as I can with my best china. Oh I also have the mandatory jimikand that makes your tongue tingle crazily but is must-have on Diwali lest you be reborn as a chhuchhundar
The husband fusses round putting up the lights and then goes mithai shopping with the kids. He completely forgets that he’s a diabetic and buys much more than we can consume. I pretend to be angry but I don’t really mind because I know we’ll be sick of them before the week is through.
In the evening we set out the idols and the silver coins, the flowers and the diyas. After we light the diyas we have a small puja ending with an aarti. I gave up most of the other rituals because I don’t have a knack for them. I simply cannot remember them all and I got tired of calling up my mom every year. I do try though, because it would be a pity if H and N lost touch with all that’s traditional.
After the puja we carry the diyas and place one in each of the rooms, with the hope that our home and our lives are forever lit up with their radiance. Then we’re off to visit friends, exchange mithais and gifts and watch the fireworks.
Later at night, we switch off all the lights and sit amidst the flickering  diyas and twinkling lanterns. We watch as the skies light up periodically in a shower of fireworks with H and N flitting from window to window calling out to come ‘see this one’. 
It is truly beautiful.
That is what I am grateful this festive season – that I can celebrate Diwali exactly the way I want. I love that I have complete liberty to weed out all I don’t like – the must-be-done-cooking, the craziness of spring cleaning, the long drawn out puja, the mandatory gifting – all of those things that stress me out and make me not want to celebrate at all.
That leaves me with only the good parts, surrounded by the warmth of family and friends, and makes me welcome Diwali with all my heart, just how it should be.

What’s your Diwali like? What are are the things you’ve done away with or added on?
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.