Category: #MondayMusings

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Last November I went home on a short trip for my college reunion. It was the first time I was there without the children and it felt strange, too quiet. One morning I took my cup of tea to the swing on our terrace.

It was a cool morning and the sun felt good on my face. The tea was hot, with a hint of ginger, a little sweeter than necessary, just the way I liked it. Multihued bougainvillea bloomed cheerily in large planters at the far end of the terrace. The freshly watered plants gave off a delicious petrichor.

This wasn’t the house I grew up in. My parents shifted from our University home to this, their own bungalow, about a decade ago, when they both retired. And yet how easily I called it home. The children of course had known no other. This was their nani’s house. Each summer when we went to visit, they marked the room on the terrace  as their territory, forbidding anyone to go there in their absence. Such was the sense of belonging. But me? I moved out long ago. I don’t have many memories in this house, there’s no history.

How has this house, where I spend just a few days each year, come to mean ‘home’?

Perhaps it is because of the sounds of the city that seep in uninvited – the North Indian lilt in the call of the vegetable vendor on the road outside or the maids exchanging gossip and greetings in a familiar language before they rushed off to their chores.

Perhaps it is the flowers that bloom in profusion no matter where my parents live. From our first home in the old city where together they sifted mud and gravel, adding just the right amount of sand to coax out the largest roses, to the carpet grass in our second home that they lovingly tended spending long hours with gardeners discussing which seasonals should go where, to these gorgeous Bougainvillea here on the terrace, we’ve always had flowers.

Perhaps it is the odd pieces of furniture that have survived the moves, like this swing that I sit on, each creak familiar, each squeak telling a story, every languid move bringing with it a memory of long hours lounging on it mugging up for a Geology exam or solving Math equations.

Or perhaps it is simply the sense of space that ‘home’ has always had, the sense that I can never quite get in my flat, no matter how large it is. I go around opening doors and windows somedays when I get claustrophobic, in the vain attempt to make it feel larger. I get nowhere, perhaps because the feeling is only in my head.

Or perhaps it is the comforting presence of my parents as they sit talking, bickering vigorously about everything from why he shouldn’t travel so much to why she shouldn’t stay so long on Facebook.

Perhaps it is all of that.

Perhaps home is not a physical place after all but a feeling, a feeling that I belong.

 

Man maketh the clothes #MondayMusings

Man maketh the clothes #MondayMusings


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A few weeks back I attended the investiture ceremony at my niece’s school. There she was, right in the front, in her spotless white salwar-kurta, her hair in a neat little bun, a smart cap on her head. My heart filled with incredible pride as I watched her march by and accept the head girl sash.

Her salwar-kurta reminded me of my school days. Till we were in class ten we had uniforms – a sky blue blouse with the school initials in a beautiful cursive on the pocket, neatly tucked into a matching sky blue skirt. I still think of it with happy nostalgia perhaps because school was my absolute happy place. Also, that sky blue was so very different from the white, grey and navy of all other schools. We were ‘different’ and that somehow translated as ‘better’ in our young minds. We were a cut above the rest and that uniform was an inherent part of the feeling.

In class eleven, the school did away with uniforms since we were now technically in Junior College and we were free to wear whatever we wanted. That was our first taste of freedom – freedom to wear our own personalities, our first tentative steps in the world of ‘fashionable’ wear.

And yet, so in love we were with that uniform, that a bunch of us continued to wear it at least few days every week. It seems strange now. Why would one choose a uniform, that of a junior class, when one could pick simply anything from the wardrobe? But we did just that.

By the time my sister got to junior college the no-uniform rule was gone and the girls were given a cream and blue salwar-kurta ensemble. How everyone resented that! First there was the whole idea of a uniform and then this – no smart skirts, but this shabby shapeless thing.

Even my classmates and I, who were by now in Colleges and Universities across the country, hated the thought of girls from our alma-mater wearing that ‘behenji’ dress. It somehow diluted our cool-quotient, or so we believed.

How very wrong we were, thought I with the wisdom that comes with age. I looked on as my niece accepted the flag from last year’s office bearers and delivered the Thank You speech. She did so with amazing flair. The way she marched, the way she spoke, the way she carried herself, I barely noticed her clothes, nobody did. All we saw was an accomplished young girl, solemn and earnest, eager to shine in the new role she was being entrusted with.

She completely rocked that salwar-kurta!

In that moment I realised how stupid we were and I was so so proud of the level-headedness of this new generation that wears the LBD with just as much panache as the salwar-suit.

Clothes are after all, just an enhancement of our inner selves, nothing more. Mark Twain was way off the mark when he said Clothes maketh the man; definitely not true for young women, not any more.

 

Linking up with #MondayMusings at Everydaygyan

Fitness lesson No1 #fitnesscapsule

Fitness lesson No1 #fitnesscapsule

‘I am going down with fever,’ thought I as I sat down with my breakfast this Monday morning. My head throbbed, my body hurt and I could barely feel my legs and arms. All I wanted to do was go off to sleep and it was just 10 am. The clothes on the stand, the mess on the table and my laptop all seemed to be staring at me, daring me to ignore them and make for the bed.

Monday mornings are not the most exciting part of the week.

I love weekends. Who doesn’t? I love the fact that I can wake up late, relax and spend time with the children. However there’s one small cloud that hangs over all my Saturdays and Sundays – my diet-exercise routine goes for a toss, completely.

And so it was this weekend too.

I started off pretty determined to stick with my resolution but then the grey rainy morning washed away all thoughts of a walk. I lazed around in bed and consoled myself with the thought that I’d eat sensibly through the day. I cooked separate meals for the children and for me. Puri aloo for them, sautéed vegetables and chapatis for me. However, once the food was out on the plates, their’s looked so scrumptious and mine so spartan, that I ended up eating more from their plates than my own. In my defence, take a look at this.

To make matters worse I went without exercise all of Sunday too. My excuse – ‘It’s raining!’ I could perhaps go with this excuse all of next month!

Come Monday and my over enthusiastic conscience, that had conveniently slept all through the weekend, woke up and asserted itself rather aggressively. And so I put on some exercise videos and, determined to gain lost territory, I worked out for over an hour picking out the toughest routines. Sweaty and tired I went on to the kitchen and spent another hour on my feet prepping, cooking, struggling to make something as palatable for my spoilt tastebuds as I possibly could with my limited skills.

By the time I was through and finally sat down to breakfast, I was regretting giving in to my conscience. 

So here’s my very first learning:

Never ever over-exercise to compensate for a lazy day. Click To Tweet

And a corollary to that: Never ever fast after a binge because it will probably make you vulnerable to another bingeing session.

There really is no other way than going slow and steady when it comes to losing weight. If you fall off the wagon get back on it slowly. I am on my feet again today with the promise to take it one day at a time, to make time to exercise on weekends, even if it’s 15 or 20 minutes and to not kill myself if I do falter.

Share your fitness story if you have one – did you ever stumble along the way? How did you get back?

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Linking up with #MondayMusings at Everydaygyan

The truth about love and growing up

The truth about love and growing up

A few days ago N came to me one night with a comb and a bunch of rubber bands. She said she’d seen a ‘hack’ on Youtube and that if she tied her hair up in tiny ponytails she’d have curly hair by morning. It was a bit nostalgic for me because I remembered my mom doing the same for me, although my hair used to be way shorter and we didn’t call it a ‘hack’ back then. I sat her down and I rolled her hair into tiny ‘bunlets’ (for want of a better word) and fixed them with rubber bands.

She woke up next morning and opened out her hair. Instead of falling down to her shoulders it stood out in a short wavy mass upto her ears. She pranced around for joy exclaiming ‘Oh I love it, I love it, I love it,’ and ended up with a, ‘It looks so good na, just like yours.’

And I couldn’t help but laugh.

I have to explain here that I have rather weird hair, neither straight nor curly. It’s kind of flyaway thin and wavy, impossible to keep in check. N’s on the other hand is nice and straight. But there she was, thrilled because her hair looked like mine!

This reminded me of a quote from the film The Truth About Cats and Dogs:

You know how someone’s appearance can change the longer you know them? How a really attractive person, if you don’t like them, can become more and more ugly; whereas someone you might not have even have noticed… that you wouldn’t look at more than once, if you love them, can become the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen.

Although spoken in an entirely different context it does hold true. Doesn’t it?

N’s teens are round the corner and the day is not far when she’ll want to be and do all things ‘not me’, but for now I revelled in her guileless affection.

And then there’s H. For all his grown up ways, his continuous (but failed) attempts at mastering the eye roll and his ‘don’t hug me in public’ he still seeks me out (probably on his way to the refrigerator) and gives me a hug or tweaks my cheek, the way I used to when he was a toddler.

They turned twelve this summer and yet I continue to see them for the babies they once were. I can now somewhat understand the very cliched comment that kids never really grow up for their parents. At times like these I do want them never to grow up, for the days to just stop so I can keep them close.

Of course I know that’s not possible and when this wave of sentimentality has blown over I will want them out of my way just as much as they want me out of their’s but until then, I’m going to savour the feeling.

 

Linking up with #MondayMusings at Everydaygyan

Slowing down

Slowing down

This past week has been one of the busiest, not just for me but for the children as well. After the rather lazy Diwali vacations we were all struggling to come to terms with our schedules. The weekend promised to be even busier what with the children’s hobby classes, a PTM to go to (which takes up all morning with some 10 to 12 teachers to be met) and two birthday parties.

My head was reeling as I tried to schedule pickup and drop timings for both the children while also trying to make a few hours to help them with their studies and also adjust the maid-timings!

My SIL called up to chat and raved about a must go-to exhibition that she’d spent three hours browsing through. She offered to accompany me if I could make time over the weekend. I am rather reluctant for such a plan on a busy weekend but this time I was sorely tempted. A quick mental check and I figured I could squeeze it in.

A little later, however, on an impulse, I cancelled the trip. Yeah I flip-flop a lot.

Sure enough, as I picked up H from his guitar class, the exhibition had lost all its charm even though barely half the day was through.

Instead of running home to let the maid in, I called and instructed her to get the keys from the neighbour and took H off for a coffee/drink at a close by cafe. I was done with the driving around. I ordered a huge Latte while he got himself a tall glass of Iced Tea. There was still an hour before N had to be picked up and so we settled down for some one on one conversation.

We talked about our tentative move to a new house next year. He said he’d miss his classmate who lived close by and we planned future play dates. We discussed his teacher’s comments at the PTM that he needed to mix with other children apart from his two closest buddies. He told me about his much-hated football coach who had been nasty yet again to another friend of his.

We got back relaxed and in good time to pick up N. Not going to that exhibition proved to be one of the best decisions I made.

There was a time I would load up my day with a list of things to do and would go through it systematically. At the end of the day the ticks on that list brought a huge sense achievement.

However, I can no longer do that.

I find I cannot go through a list of back-to-back tasks as easily as I used to. Click To Tweet

The physical effort might not be too much but the mental effort of not just planning but also of getting the children ready, the constant calling out to them, of sorting their hundred tiny disagreements and listening to and solving their myriad problems is exhausting. And so I’ve learnt to take things easy, to slow down.

As we drove back home the image that remained with me was of H carrying the tray with our drinks, his tongue stuck out as he concentrated on not letting them spill. Nothing I’d have found at the exhibition would have been as precious.

 

 

Linking up with Mackenzie at Reflections from Me #mg

On my other blog: Beat About The Book

Not everything is awesome #BookBytes 6

Not everything is awesome #BookBytes 6

I’m sharing a quote from the book 1984 by Gerorge Orwell. The first time I read it I must have been in my early teens. I have little memory of it perhaps because I would have had little or no understanding of it. Then I read it again some seven or eight years ago and […]