Category: Relationships

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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.

 

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

#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.
Mama vs Mama

Mama vs Mama

This post is dedicated to my dear cousin brother.  Every few days Hrit gets this huge doubt, “Mama is Bobby Mama a boy or a girl?” (Sorry about that Bobby) I presume I must have been preoccupied each time he posed the query. I brushed off his question with a.. “Of course he’s a boy.” or, “Boy, boy.. now finish your roti.” or even “He’s a boy baba.. now no more talking.. close your eyes and sleep.” However, the query kept coming on and on. I was rather puzzled because it wasn’t like he hadn’t met my cousin. In fact they got along pretty well. So I asked, “Why do you keep asking Hrit?” He replied finally, “If he’s a boy how can he be a ‘mama’? He should be a papa, isn’t it?” Hmmm that explains it all.

Yadu, Vihaan or what????

Yadu, Vihaan or what????


That’s our brand new brother – the one we were talking about earlier. Isn’t he cute? When N and I went to meet him we just couldn’t keep our eyes off him. He has misty grey eyes, deep red lips and an awesome shock of thick black hair. He really is the cutest thing we’ve ever seen. He’s got these amazing dimples and smiles and giggles all the time. We just love him. He’s called Yadu but that’s not his final name. Can you beat it, he’s six months old and mama and mami still haven’t managed to decide on a name for him. Bade nana insists on calling him Yadu and so that name’s stuck till he finally gets properly christened.

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 […]