Category: random thoughts

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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.

 

Grateful for a familiar face #GratitudeCircle

Grateful for a familiar face #GratitudeCircle

This morning I set off on my walk a trifle reluctantly. The weather was perfect – cloudy and breezy, windy even, but not cold, with an occasional sprinkle of rain and yet I felt weirdly listless. My innate practical Capricornian side struggled with that feeling telling me I had no reason to feel that way or to miss my walk for it.

Yet the reluctance was right there more real than ever, holding my feet down, urging me to take the elevator back home. There has been the odd day when I’ve done just that – I’ve come down for my walk and then gone right back.

Do you know that feeling? When you feel vaguely discontent for no apparent reason? Perhaps it is stress or overwhelm, worry or mood swing or anxiety, but it pulls at me somedays making me want to do nothing at all.

I adjusted my music player in the lobby willing myself to begin that walk  when I spotted a familiar face – a neighbour who was also walking. She waved at me and smiled.

Most days I walk alone – one, because I find it hard to match paces and two, because I if I’m walking briskly I do not have the breath to talk. Also, if I can talk it implies I’m not walking fast enough.

However, in the middle of my tussle today, that familiar face was like the very life-line I needed and I fell into pace with her. She walks comfortably slowly and we chatted along. She was done way before me but by that time I had found my rhythm and was happily warmed up, well on my way to finish the walk.

At the end of it I had done one full hour. I was sweaty, happily tired and had successfully banished my listlessness.

All it took was a familiar face to get me going. Next time round I’ll remember to slow down and smile too. One wave, one smile may uplift someone’s day like it did mine today.

********

I’m so glad of Vidya’s Gratitude Circle that pushes me to get back to the blog each month.

Izzat is a strange thing

Izzat is a strange thing

I usually do not watch news on the television. I’m quite happy to wait for my morning newspaper or whatever I find online. News channels are so heavily polarised they leave me confused and utterly frustrated. I already have the twins who do a fine job of that, so no TV for me thank you.

But my parents were here and the evening news is their daily fix. So we sat around the telly and we watched. We watched a mob on a vandalising spree. It burnt down vehicles (about 200 odd), looted mobile phone shops and smashed glass facades of multiplexes protesting against a film. I sat there wondering why people would destroy multiplexes which had already agreed to not screen said film.

Do you hear me now when I say news is puzzling?

Meanwhile elsewhere in the country, protestors ran amuck brandishing swords, burning tyres, stopping trains, setting fires to buses and blocking roads.

One man tried to immolate himself in Varanasi.

Someone announced a reward of 1 crore to the person who could chop off the lead actress’ ears and nose.

Some others decided to pelt stones on a school bus full of children, the youngest of whom was merely four.

All for izzat, honour.

I flipped channels to land on another visual of Rajput women, heads covered, izzat fully in place, saying nothing mattered more to them, not food nor drink, but their honour.

And all of that honour was centred on the non-release of this one film. A film about a woman dead for countless decades. A film none of them had even watched. A film that the Censor Board as well as the Supreme Court, had watched, had gone over with a tooth comb over and over and over again and found alright.

So you see, this izzat is a strange thing. It gets tarnished rather easily – by a book, a story, a dialogue, a film, by a piece of art or fiction. And then it forces people to take to the streets to restore it.

At other times however, it proves to be unbelievably tenacious remaining clean and intact even when these same people make, watch and share suggestive videos or gyrate to provocative songs. It remains untouched when they line the streets and pass lewd comments. It isn’t sullied when they pull out women from cars and rape them or when they throw out their infants to die on the streets.

Strange thing, this izzat.

What’s even stranger and utterly disappointing is the reaction of the people in power, the administration.

Rather than resolving to make sure peace prevails, they choose to turn a blind eye. They looked the other way as a 2000 people strong crowd gathered and charged the multiplexes. They made sure police arrived just as the mob had done its bit and had dispersed. Bollywood style.

Four states went on to ban the film.

The Deputy CM of a state advised people to not watch the film in order ‘to maintain law and order’. Nope, it isn’t his job to ensure that. It is ours. And so we stayed away from the film, away from malls and multiplexes. And even though I’m not a mall person that irked, because this isn’t the country I was proud of, the country I taught my children to be proud of.

I’ve always chosen to be upbeat and optimistic. But this Republic Day I feel only lost and disheartened. Even as I dress up my daughter in the traditional sari for celebrations at school, I cannot find it in my heart to celebrate. How can I, when I see my freedom erode, bit by bit right before my eyes. And I wonder how many more liberties I will have to give up for ‘maintaining law and order’, for protecting the izzat of God knows who.

How far will you go for your 15 minutes of fame?
A loaf of bread and a lesson on ‘receiving’

A loaf of bread and a lesson on ‘receiving’

The other day a friend of mine, who is taking baby steps in baking, got me a freshly baked loaf of bread. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I am exceptionally fortunate when it comes to friends.

I’d have been fine with a slice or two, but she insisted I keep the entire loaf, ‘I baked it specially for the children,’ said she. I felt a little awkward but she insisted. After a bit of a back and forth and a promise that she’d charge me for it I accepted, with a heartfelt thank you. ‘I hope the children enjoy it,’ she added giving me a hug.

We are all a little awkward when it comes to receiving, aren’t we? I know I am. It’s like an obligation which, I feel, I have to repay. That’s the way I was brought up. The idea was ‘If you cannot repay a favour, don’t accept it.’

I grew up meticulously keeping hisaab, refusing favours and always remembering to give back if I did accept something. Receiving made me uncomfortable, a little smaller, perhaps.

We talk of giving all the time and I’m all for it, but isn’t receiving an equally important aspect? There has to be a balance of come kind, I presume. After all there can be no giving without receiving.

Five ways receiving enriches your life Click To Tweet

Here are five ways receiving enriches your life

  • You form an instant connection. Accept a favour and see how quickly you form a bond with the giver.
  • You give the other person the chance to feel good about themselves. Isn’t that just wonderful? That you’re bringing happiness to someone?
  • Oh and conversely, you feel good about yourself too. The fact that someone wants to give you something reinforces your sense of self. After all who would want to give something to someone they don’t quite like?
  • You learn humility because you’re accepting a favour.
  • And you learn gratitude.

 

As moms, parents, adults we are used to giving all the time. It would do us good to sit back and receive for a change. So all of you out there:

  • Receive help. Ask for it and accept it with gratitude.
  • Receive compliments. A simple thank you without putting yourself down does it.
  • Receive gifts, yeah why not?

Accept, without any thought of paying back, simply with an open heart full of gratitude and nothing else.

PS: In case you were wondering, the bread was absolutely scrumptious – soft, flavourful and ‘cinnamony’ with a mild sweetness and nuts and raisins that sprung a delicious surprise in each bite.

Perfect!

 

and with #ChattyBlogs from Shanaya Tales

Stressed out by technology

Stressed out by technology

The other day I went out for a spot of shopping. Since I’ve become a SAHM/WFHM going out is a bit of a treat. I look forward to it. So the plan was I’d finish the chores then sit at a cafe and watch the world over a cup pf coffee. The kids don’t get back home till 3 pm so I have plenty of time.
I left the house at about 11am. Half an hour later I realised I’d left my phone at home. And that was it. Just like that my trip was ruined. I rushed through the chores, getting impatient at slacking salesmen, worry clouding my mind.
What if something happens at the children’s school and they need to contact me?
What if the Husband calls?
What if my parents need me?
What if? What if? What if?
One part of my brain kept telling me I was being ridiculous, that nothing could go wrong in the space of two hours. And yet I couldn’t shake off the worry. The coffee, of course, was abandoned. I came home with a throbbing head only to find the phone lying innocently on my dresser with just the usual, inane, WhatsApp messages crowding it.
It might have something to do with the fact that the Husband is out of town. Being the sole person responsible for the kids makes me continuously anxious, perhaps. 
Or is it just that I am over-dependent on the phone? That I have fallen in the habit of checking it ever so often? That I need the content reassurance that all is well? I do know the kids are safe at school. How else would I let them spend the better part of their day there? That’s what the rational part of me tells me. And yet the worry doesn’t leave.
Our parents were happier ..
My sister and I went to a school some 10kms away, which by our small-town standards, was really really far. The bus stop was over a km away and we walked, on our own. We didn’t have a phone at home, not even a landline. My dad could be contacted in office of course, but that was it. And we survived.
The thought then was, ‘The girls are at school, what can happen?’ 
All I think now is. ‘So what if they are at school, anything can happen.’
That, when schools today are better equipped to handle emergencies, with full-fledged sick-bays and well trained staff.
Technology, I am sure was made to reassure us, instead it has made us so much more anxious. Maybe we simply need to put our phones away and learn to get used to it, to give up the urge to check them constantly, almost like we were expecting bad news.
Do you do this too? Do you check your phone often? Do you also feel insecure if you’re separated from it?
Linking up with Mel at  Microblog Mondays.
                                                

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 […]