Category: life lessons

Plan, prepare, perform

Plan, prepare, perform

The great annual International Blogging Festival kicks off in another few days. Bloggers across the world will be writing, reading, sharing  and encouraging each other all of April. It’s like one big happy party. And I’m not going. Obviously I’m feeling a little sorry for myself – a bit like when I was invited to a party and all my friends were going and I knew it was completely ‘my thing’ but mum said I couldn’t go. Except this time there’s no mum to blame. It’s just me. I wish I’d planned ahead and I wish I’d scheduled my posts and I wish I could have joined in the fun.
But I didn’t and I can’t.
Here’s a lesson for you dear H and N. ‘Not again,’ I hear you groan, ‘Not another ‘lesson’ mama,’ I see you making quotes in the air, but this is a lesson not just for you but for me too and has to be reiterated. I promise to keep it short.
If you want something really badly, plan for it, prepare for it. If you do not, you’ve no business to feel sorry for yourself.
Spontaneity is fun but for the important things in life, preparation is the key.
It’s a bit like cooking. Remember the time we started off making cookies assuming we had all the ingredients and then got stuck because we ran out of butter. Oh we did go ahead but the cookies weren’t half as good as they do turn out normally. You remember that?
And then, N, you remember, there was the drawing competition on Independence Day a few years back? Many of your friends came to me asking for help with ideas. And they went home and practised. You’re good at art. I know that and so do you. So certain were you of your win that you didn’t give the contest a second thought. You knew you would do well. And you lost. To a girl whose art wasn’t half as good as yours but who was better prepared. Remember how she’d woven quotes on freedom in her drawing? The judges made a mention of that, I well remember. I also remember how you’d cried, heartbroken.
Heartbreak is a great teacher.
You did not forget. Next year you did prepare and you won too. How you’d jumped around in your happiness! That, dear girl, is proof enough, if you wanted any.
It isn’t enough to be smart or good at something. Preparation marks the difference between success and failure.
I hope you always remember that. I hope you remember that feeling of losing something that was so well within your grasp. And I hope you never let that happen again.
As shall I.
For this time I will watch and enjoy the fun. I shall blog hop to my heart’s content and cheer all my friends. It’s going to be one crazy, exciting month.
Oh and while on lessons – here’s anther one. Age doesn’t insure you against making mistakes. The good part is that nothing stops you from learning from them either.
#Women at work – The fruit seller

#Women at work – The fruit seller

I see her busy at her shop right across the road from our apartment building. She has a small outlet stocked with fresh flower and fruit. Somedays I see her attending customers, somedays she is polishing the fruit with a piece of cloth or arranging them in meticulous piles.

I pass by her shop some half a dozen times a day and she never fails to give me a smile. She knows I love flowers as do the kids. She also knows I prefer gerberas and roses for my vases as against the ones she keeps – marigolds, Indian roses and jasmines which are used more often for religious rituals. And yet when I am buying fruit and she has a specially pretty rose she hands it over to me with a ‘take this for the kids’.
And so H and N here’s a lesson for you – Take pleasure and pride in whatever you do, no matter how small your job, how tiny your business. You don’t need to have a lot of ‘things’ to be generous. All you need is a big heart.
When most shop keepers take a siesta break (a ritual in my city), she doesn’t go home. She sits quietly enjoying her break. Her hands keep busy as she picks out flowers from a basket on her lap and threads out colourful garlands, readying for the evening rush.
Somedays she talks to me. A lot of it is in Marathi but I nod along even though I don’t understand all of it. I ask her why she doesn’t shut shop for the siesta. 
And she says, 
“My husband passed away recently. When he was alive, he was always pestering me. ‘Why are you always at the shop? I need you here at home to serve me lunch. I need you to sit with me while I eat,’ he’d say. 
I’d get annoyed and I’d tell him – the children are there to take care of you. How much can a woman do? I have the shop to look after.
But he would have none of it. We’d have arguments but I did go home each day.” 
I nod along, the feminist in me not quite happy with the story.
She continues, a trifle wistfully,
‘Now he is gone and no one asks me to come home. I have children, son, daughter-in-law but they don’t know if I’ve eaten or not. I’m happiest here at my shop.’
I don’t know what to say. The feminist is a trifle confused and chooses to stay silent.
And here’s lesson number 2. This one is for me: Relationships are complicated. No one relationship is quite like another. It is easy to pass judgement, to give advice but different things work for different people.
I cannot end the post without wishing everyone a very happy Independence Day. And I’m glad I wrote about this lady today. Isn’t she a symbol of Independent India? Of doing her own thing and being at peace with herself?
Despite so much that is not quite right with our country, we do have things to be proud of, things that set us apart, make us special.
Today, I shall focus on all that IS right with my country and it is that which I shall be celebrating.

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!
Linking up with Parul for the #Women at Work bloghop. If you have a story about a working woman do share.
A basket of tomatoes and some life lessons

A basket of tomatoes and some life lessons

Picture Credit: PIXABAY
The other day I was at the vegetable vendor’s picking out well.. obviously – vegetables. As I moved to the tomatoes I was joined by a boy of about 14. He dug into the basket turning the tomatoes this way and that, picking out some then dropping them back, then picking out some more. Finally he asked me, ‘How do you know which is a good one?’
Deja vu struck.
While we were growing up we lived in a joint family. While my sister and I did our chores (my mum saw to it) most of the mundane outdoor tasks were handled by others in the family. It might have had to do with the fact that we lived in a crowded area and mum wasn’t certain we could negotiate the roads safely on our own.

One day, perhaps the house help wasn’t around or maybe because my mum decided it was high time I learnt to do this, she handed me a bag, some change and asked me to go buy vegetables.

I mean, seriously? Vegetables? The teen me was completely appalled. I could imagine going out and buying stationery or books or sweets or clothes. But vegetables? What a mundane, unfashionable, low brow task to be saddled with! My entire teen self quailed at the idea rejecting it outright.
I refused.
“If you can eat vegetables, you can go buy them too,” said my mum and I saw her face settle into that familiar determined look my sister and I disliked and dreaded. If you know even a little bit of my mum you will know she can really dig her heels in, specially  when it comes to, what she thinks of as, teaching us a lesson.
I didn’t stand a hair’s breadth chance. So there I was with the most embarrassing jhola (cloth bag) in one hand and the money in the other off to buy vegetables at Chantu ki dukan – that’s what the vegetable vendor was called! I bent my head, praying I wouldn’t bump into anyone I knew, as I threaded my way through the crowded street.
I cannot recall what I bought. I just remember picking up a handful of something, mumbling out, ‘Half kg of this’, handing the money and walking home in a blaze of self-consciousness.

And here was this boy, how easily he asked for my help and how gladly I gave it! Standing side by side in a rather companionable silence we picked out tomatoes. I wish I had been more like him when I was his age.

So dear H and N, here’s the lesson for the day:
People are more likely to offer help than laugh at us if only we cast aside our nervousness and ask for it. We might be laughed at for pretending to know something but the moment we voluntarily expose our vulnerability and  enlist someone’s assistance we create a bond putting them firmly on ‘our side’, so to say.
No matter where you are – at a new school, at the library or in the sports ground, don’t be too shy or scared to enlist people’s support, even if they are strangers. Ask for help and you shall get it in greater measure than you ever expected.
Have you ever been in a situation like this, where you’ve been to embarrassed to ask for help? Do share. I’d love to add your experience to mine when I talk to the kids.

The truth about lies

The truth about lies

Dear H and N,

You remember the other day we were reading Matilda? The formidable Ms Trunchbull was yelling at her and Matilda tells a tiny white lie to save herself. You know what a white lie is, don’t you? It’s that small harmless lie that hurts no one but might actually save someone.

A question in your worksheet asked, “Did you think Matilda did right?” Both of you were in complete agreement with her, given that Ms Trunchbull was such a tyrant and she was but a child.

We talked about honesty and H, you were pretty accurate when you said, ‘If a lie doesn’t harm anyone, it is okay.’And N you had added, “When mamas tell babies to drink up their milk or their bones will break, it’s okay na, even though bones don’t ACTUALLY break if we don’t drink milk, right?’

Yes well you are right. 

Or are you??

Listen to this story before you make up your mind…

Imagine you have a friend; a special friend who is always with you. He talks to no one but you and no one can hear him but you. He’s a bit magical in that he always knows right from wrong. He has a problem, though – he cannot keep quiet when he sees any dishonesty – even the tiniest most harmless one. He’s a bit crazy like that.

Each time you are dishonest — even a tinny tiny bit, even when you’ve simply kept quiet when you might have spoken up — he bugs you and bugs you and bugs you till you feel really bad. Just when you are feeling relieved you’ve warded off a horrible yelling or a punishment he reminds you that you’ve done it dishonestly and makes you feel bad all over again.

And so you get angry and tell him to shut up. “I know it’s not the complete truth but THIS time it doesn’t matter. It’s just a tiny lie,” you say. But he doesn’t listen. “A lie is a lie,” says he, over and over again. Finally you’ve had enough and you’re so angry you tape his lips.

With each little lie another bit of tape goes onto your friend’s lips. 

Over the years it becomes a habit, this ‘shutting up’ your friend. His voice becomes more and more faint, till you can hear it no more and you’re lying without even thinking. You forget you ever had a friend. Finally there comes a time when you’re all grown up and you have a big complicated decision to make where the right and wrong is all mixed up and you cannot make out one from the other. “Aha!” you think then, “my friend can tell me, he has the magic that tells right from wrong”.

Then you remember, with a bit of regret, you’ve taped him up. “No problem,” you think as you start to painstakingly remove it all. Finally, the tape is off but what is this?? He still cannot speak. After years and years of silence he has lost his magic voice.

What do you do then? Of course, you might come to me or to papa but we might not be around by then. Besides, we haven’t been with you all along like your friend and may not have the right answers. What then? You’re quite stuck, right? It will be a hard hard task to teach your friend to talk again and by then it just might be too late.

We all have this friend inside us. It’s called the Conscience. The thing to do, dear children, is to keep your little friend up and fighting fit. Let him yell at you and bug you till he gets his way. Yes, he will make you confess you broke that plate, and get you yelled at too, but then he will also free you from endless days worrying about ‘what will happen when mama finds out?’. And that extra tight hug she gave you saying she was glad you owned up – totally worth it, wasn’t it?

Listen to your little friend with all your heart because honesty, complete honesty is, and will always be, the best policy.

Love and hugs always,

Ma.

#Microblog Mondays – Just Do it!

#Microblog Mondays – Just Do it!

Friends who have been dropping by would know for the past year or so I’ve been hooked to Zumba. I’ve blogged about it often. I can never get over the miracle that I can survive a dance class. Nor can my friends, it seems, since they use every opportunity to pull my leg about it, in a way only comfortable old friends can.

One day after a specially good session I happened to remark, ‘This track I can dance to, in my sleep’. And that was how I put my big fat foot right into my mouth. A little later, when the instructor asked ‘Who knows Bailando and can lead the class today?” I heard a bunch of voices chorusing out a name – yeah mine!

Damn!! Damn!! Damn!! was all my blank mind went while I tried to hide away wishing I would completely disappear. It’s one thing to stand in my inconspicuous corner and do my own thing and quite another to stand right there before the class. It’s like saying just because you can chat up friends you can deliver a speech – not quite the same thing huh?

This here was my nightmare.

However before I could protest, the music had struck up and there I was blundering my way through, forgetting steps I’d done scores of time, steps I knew well, steps that I did pretty well in my small corner! I wish I could say I was suddenly magically perfect like in the movies. I wasn’t. Let me just say I survived and wasn’t booed away. The girls are too sweet.

The best thing though is, that the dreadful dread is gone….. for ever. I might never do it again. But I know I can do it, I did it once, right? That’s so hugely liberating.

We shy off from doing things – fun challenging things – making a huge deal out of them. Sometimes we fear we will be less that perfect, sometimes we’re victims of our own self-image.

Breaking through all of that is freedom.

So from my new-found perspective I can tell you to dance that dance, sing that song, deliver that speech, run that race, get that LBD. Draw, paint, try a trek, take a dip in the sea – as long as you’re having fun and can laugh at yourself, chances are you’ll get by pretty well.

Don’t wait to be earth shattering. Don’t wait to be perfect. Don’t postpone joy.

Linking to for the letter D for ABC Wednesday

And to Mel’s # Microblog Mondays where we’re discussing superpowers. Do drop by.

Meet me on Instagram @obsessivemom06

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