Category: me

Birthdays gifts and badly kept secrets

Birthdays gifts and badly kept secrets

With Christmas around the corner I was going through my wish list checking to see what gifts I’d saved away, and I came upon this – a bunch of wallets, flashy ones – one with a peacock feather motif, another one all gold and shimmery and a third bright pink one. 

I stared at them. And I wondered. Not for the life of me could I fathom in what fit of bling I had ‘wish-listed’ these. My memory is not quite what it used to be, but I was certain I wouldn’t do this. It just wasn’t me. 

Before I go on, you need to know that my birthday is round the corner. And nobody  is ever as excited about it as H and N — not my friends, not my parents, definitely not the Husband (who once made the cardinal error of forgetting it, and is not likely to forget it in a hurry ever again) and most definitely not I. I mean of course I like it when someone remembers it but that’s where it should end. The hoo-haa is kind of embarrassing but then when have the kids ever worried about what embarrasses me? They start planning months in advance and they make up for everyone else … they create enough of a hoo-haa to satisfy the most hoo-haa craving person.
Every year they scrimp and scrounge to get me a small gift. This year they decided to enlist the help of Mr Moneybags – the Husband. I’ve overheard secret phone calls which they think I have no clue about and eavesdropped on whispered arguments which they think I cannot hear. 
They first convinced him to order a book from Amazon. The rather proactive Husband, did so right away and I received my birthday gift in November – more than a month in advance. 
I was suitably surprised at how apt their choice was and very thrilled too … but the children decided it came too early and so didn’t really qualify as a birthday gift. Now, they have taken things in their own more capable hands, or so they think, and they’ve been furiously surfing Amazon. Only – they have no clue that the things they ‘secretly’ save in a wishlist is my wishlist. That’s how those clutches/wallets came from – all N’s choice!

Since I made the discovery I’ve been logging in everyday to see a new set of gifts. They seem to change their mind everyday. The latest is this – a personalised ‘I love you mama’ cushion and a World’s Best Mom trophy.

I’m waiting with baited breath to see which one makes it to the final day.

Giving the heart its due

Giving the heart its due

Have you ever been in love with two people at the same time? If you have – tell me how do you pick? While the head clearly chooses one, the heart longs for the other. It only becomes worse when in your head you’re a practical Capricorn and think the choice is clear – obviously you follow your head, right? But despite your best intentions you cannot stick it out because your heart is not in it.
Here I am stuck between my two loves – the head says gym, the heart sings out Z.U.M.B.A.

The backstory:

This last year has been a bit of a downer on the health front. Tests revealed desperately depleted Vitamin D levels. The doctor prescribed strengthening exercises that were gentler on the bones. The head quirked an eyebrow at the heart even while nodding in wholehearted agreement. The heart sighed but knew it didn’t stand a chance.
Dutifully I gave up Zumba and took up gym membership. I could do this, I thought, after all these were the first friends of my fitness journey – my first loves. I said hello once again to treadmill and dumbbells.

… and I settled down

…. to the leg presses and bicep curls. ‘Look’, the head told the heart, ‘It’s not so bad, is it?’ The heart bobbed its head, like an employee who doesn’t quite agree yet nods to a rather overbearing boss.
The workout didn’t have the happy zing of Zumba but it offered the comfort of routine and as I began to gather speed on the treadmill and lifted heavier weights for longer counts the sense of achievement kept me going. Just as a a girl gives up the rush of a first crush for the sedate love and care of a married life, I began to settle down to my gym routine.

But it’s never easy

Right across from where i exercise there runs a Zumba class. Each time the door opens a waft of my favourite music floats out. As I watch the girls through the glass walls, twirling and jumping, I mentally go over the familiar well-loved moves along with them and my poor beleaguered heart feels a little squeeze.
In that moment the treadmill seems the drabbest thing on earth no matter that I’m running on it like I’ve never run before.
And I am beginning to feeling like that long-suffering employee who is finally deciding to hand in notice to his boss, like the woman who decides to give up her marriage to rush back into the arms of her first love.
The problem is – there is no overbearing boss, no boring husband – there is just me and my not-so-good knees.
My one hope now is that the vitamin tablets would have worked and the strengthening exercises would have done their bit. And then perhaps I can have a bit of both worlds. On a more serious note, if you have pledged your life to to exercise it pays to listen to your heart.
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.

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.
Of travel plans and travel anxiety

Of travel plans and travel anxiety

Its the summer break and that means my presence here at the blog shall become sporadic. As we ready ourselves to set off on our travels I am consumed with a bad case of travel anxiety. 

What if the taxi gets a flat tyre?
What if I miss the flight?
Did I miss packing anything?
What if my baggage is overweight?
What if I misplace my baggage?
What if I forget the ticket, the id?
What if I am not at the correct terminal?
What happens when I get there?
What if I don’t find a cab?

It’s endless… this list of tiny worries.

Without even being aware of it consciously, they nag at me for days before I set off. That, when I’ve been travelling on my own for over two decades. It makes me irritable and more likely to snap at the kids, not that they aren’t doing enough to drive me up the wall anyway. It wasn’t half as bad when I travelled alone, having responsibility of the twins just makes it worse.

I’ve tried imagining the worse case scenario and that isn’t scary at all yet the anxiety refuses to go.

I’m hoping putting this down here would make me see how irrational it is. 

Do you worry when you travel?

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