Friday, 15 November 2013

The one about the thing called parenthood and a test

I came across a new-parent test on the Daily Mail yesterday. It cracked me up enough for me to want to laugh uncontrollably, but I couldn't as I was surrounded by a number of unknown faces. So, I launched my body into a shaking fit, the kind that happens when you try to repress a full-throated laugh. I'm just glad that I wasn't eating anything. Choking is no fun, I'm guessing. 

If you are a parent, plan to become one, have one or seen one, this is for you to read. My favourite part? The grocery-shopping test.
  • Go to the local supermarket. Take with you the nearest thing you can find to a pre-school child - a fully grown goat is excellent. If you intend to have more than one child, take more than one goat.
  • Buy your weekly groceries without letting the goat(s) out of your sight.
  • Pay for everything the goat eats or destroys.

The writer Bianca London has hit the nail on the head. Although there is some obvious exaggeration -- like trying to put a live octopus in a bag when a kitten would have sufficed -- the message is clear. Parenting is not easy (but it can be fun IMHO).

Monday, 28 October 2013

I'm livin' life in the fast lane

When I planned to launch 'That fleeting moment' two months ago, I had no idea how rapidly my life was about to change and days, even weeks, were about to become fleeting moments.

Days are a blur, and I am having to dive deep rather frequently, come up to catch breath and dive back in. I cannot believe October is almost over. Believe me, it was August just a few days ago. In the past couple of months, I've seen life change course like a flooded river -- I welcomed a new member in the family and lost her (my precious niece spent a mere four fleeting weeks with us before she departed), accepted an exciting job offer, realised (yet again) I don't suffer fools gladly, resolutely changed priorities and made some life-changing decisions. I hope these are the right decisions for me and my family. I also hope I can look back some day and feel proud that I made them.

What lies ahead? Life in the fast lane, at least for some more time. Then, I will stop and smell the roses. I know it'll be sooner than later. Once again, I'll cruise on auto-pilot.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Get off the pot

Me: "Oh, your warm and soft fingers. The son likes them very much."
Hubby (looking smug): "Really? Why do you say so?"
Me: "I can think of no other reason for him to ask only you to wash his bum after he has done the job."
Hubby (looking crestfallen): "You are disgusting."

Just another conversation between a couple trying to teach their son how to clean his own butt.

It doesn't escape my attention that when we achieve this goal, we'll be cutting off the last tissues of the extended and invisible umbilical chord we share with him, setting him free from any physical dependence on us. Nonetheless, it's not really a shit-or-get-off-the-pot situation, but a shit-and-get-off-the-pot situation for now.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

That fleeting moment

This blog hasn't been my most-loved child and it's so blatantly obvious that I cannot even afford to make a fool of myself by offering an explanation. I've been thinking about ways to force motivate myself to be more regular in visiting my little nook on the internet and here's my fix - That fleeting moment. The plan is to post a picture every other week with a brief description. It sounds doable even though I'm not big on photography and own an ordinary point-and-shoot camera. Nonetheless, I'm going to make a jab at making this project a success. So, without much ado, here's the first installment.

That fleeting moment - Aug 2013
The rain drops fall on my window pane
The landscape in this part of the country is a far cry from the landscape I'm most fond of, the Himalayas and its foothills. A recent road trip to Coorg made me change my mind, though. I think it was the rain, which had the magical effect of making the landscape look prettier than ever. I whipped out my poor-man's camera and started clicking. I love this picture because the lens decided to focus on the foreground, which explains the sharp rain drops and the dull scenery. Who would have guessed I clicked it on a lark?

Monday, 22 July 2013

Hooked I am (or once was) to...

It wasn't until 2007 that I started reading blogs.

On a rainy day in 2007, a colleague mentioned that one of his college classmates had a widely read blog, but he didn't think it packed much punch. I decided to check it out. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I got hooked to the blogosphere. Over time, I've shifted loyalties with impunity. Here's a gist of how it all started and where I am today.
  1. She started the fire. Her blog was the first I ever read and I was instantly hooked to it. I lost steam after a year or so, around the time her first book came out. I read it with religious reverence. I don't read her blog any more, but I do follow her on Twitter.
  2. Claire makes me cry (or smile) with her writing. I found her around the time she lost her father, her only surviving parent, and like a devout pupil, I followed her through the sometimes-sad-sometimes-exciting journey of her finding her feet again, finding true love, and becoming a mother and a published writer. She doesn't write a lot these days. I don't know why, but I'm guessing the movie deal for her autobiography is keeping her busy. She's also the one person I've never met in person that I am most comfortable communicating with. Also, she always replies.
  3. Rohini hasn't written a whole lot this year, but whenever she writes, she makes me happy.
  4. This blogger is one mad momma and I love her for being exactly that. I like reading about how she's raising her two kids. I am also jealous of her tastefully done house. If only...never mind.
  5. Holly is one of the wittiest persons I've discovered on the internet. Until last year, she was writing about mundane things in her signature witty style. The she got pregnant and the blog became all things pregnancy. She had a baby last week and hasn't blogged since.
  6. Johnny is a funny, funny writer. I love how he describes even the most inconsequential things in a way that can make you choke on your saliva. 
  7. Ashish is a stand-up comedian and a 'seriously serious funnyman'. 
  8. Sahil writes film reviews in a comic or graphic novel style. Sometimes, his reviews are way better than the films.
  9. This is my Sunday morning fix. 
  10. When it comes to food, the oddly spelled the kitchn gives me inspiration. If it's Indian vegetarian food that floats my boat on a given day, I go to Archana or Nisha, or just attend of the many classes Deepali conducts (she's the reason my pesto or Hubby's carrot cake is a raging success every time it's put on the table).
Talking about food, I'll leave you with a picture of what I made this morning -- a layered chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and sugary decorations. The boy was so excited, he had only cake for breakfast and lunch, and asked me to pack some for his school lunch tomorrow. So, yeah, I guess it was a success.
Cake chronicales

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

The one about the guy upstairs, or fairy tales

I’m not a closet atheist. Never was. I’m not agnostic. I’m not sitting on the fence. I’m an atheist. I grew up without religion, without the notion of god or a superior being. I’ve always questioned things around me – from the everyday mundane to the great mysteries of life – and I’ve always found rational answers. When I’ve not found answers, I’ve found credible explanations of why an answer may not exist.

I respect others’ religious beliefs, but by announcing the lack of mine, people assume I’ve opened myself to scrutiny at all times by all and sundry.

Only a few times have I met people who have accepted my beliefs without questioning them, who have chosen to value our friendship and ignored the lack of harmony in our religious beliefs. Mostly, I’m questioned relentlessly – for years, in some cases – to the point of intrusion of personal space, to the point where I am left with the only option of choosing my beliefs over that person. People are downright disrespectful, and taunt ­– oh, yes, the taunts! They never stop – me forever.

I’m not being defensive about my beliefs. I will defend them until the day I die. At the same time, I don’t go about questioning others’ beliefs, and I don’t understand why I should be at the receiving end every time I meet them.

One’s fairy tale cannot be better than another’s. Some people don’t believe in fairies.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Holding on, regardless of who we are and where we come from

“Hold on to him,” called out a warm voice.

I turned around clumsily, trying to balance the weight of my almost-four-year-old son in my arms. I had just alighted from a cab and Hubby was piling up our bags on the airport trolley. It was a magnificent day – the sun was shining softly and a cool breeze was flowing effortlessly.

“Hold on to him.” I heard her say again and, this time, I saw her. She was a smart-looking middle-aged woman and she was talking to me. We smiled at each other.

I’m usually not one to carry kids, but I do make an exception once in a while. My little boy had spent the better part of his day in his stroller, which we had pushed for kilometres trying to catch every sight of the beautiful town of Niagara. His body had become supple and malleable with slumber. So, I had picked him up.

“You know how they all need a few hugs some times,” I smiled back.

“Yeah, they do! But this will last only so long. He’ll grow up and pull himself away,” she said with warmth. There was not an iota of melancholy in her voice or facial expression. Surely, this story had a sweet ending.

“That really happens?” I was curious.

“Oh, wait until he’s a teenager. Mine would just not let me around him when he was about 15.” There was something about her that was drawing me to her. I wanted this conversation to continue. Her warmth was contagious.

“Wow! Really?” I heard myself say. We were already standing together, like people who knew each other for a long time.

“But they come around. He is 22 now and I get a kiss from him every day.”

I smiled. I wanted to steal her effervescent smile and make it mine.

“So, hold on to him while it lasts.”

My heart found its feet again. I grinned again; only this time, I was reminded of my teenage-self and how I thought my folks ‘didn’t know anything’. I had come around too, albeit in my late twenties.

I hadn’t realised that we were already walking together, physically and metaphorically. We were two women – both mothers – from different generations and cultures, linked by an invisible bond. I saw Hubby waiting for me at the gate. I looked at her and she nodded. I smiled and started walking faster. At the gate, I turned around, waved at her and said the customary ‘Have a nice day’. She waved back. I entered the airport to board the flight that would take us to New York, a melting pot of cultures.

That was the last time I ever saw her. Our interaction had lasted a minute or so, but it had given me the opportunity to partake in the wisdom of a seasoned mother.

I’m glad that I had an opportunity to experience a culture where people lack inhibition in talking to strangers. Now I know that regardless of who we are and where we come from, some things don’t change.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

I was that Mom on Monday

On Monday, I picked up my son from day care at 1pm and took him to a McDonald's nearby. We chatted while we stood in the queue. When it was our turn, I asked him to place the order. Big responsibility for a three-year old, but we were at McDonald's. He chose to have ice cream for lunch. When the cone was handed to him, he was overjoyed. His eyes had a twinkle and his walk, a bounce. It’s an ordinary thing to take place, right? Wrong. Not all kids experience this.

I had an unconventional childhood. My parents believed in empowering kids as early in life as possible. Add to that my mother's acute arthritis, which she got when she was just 26 years old, and you get a bunch of self-reliant and go-getter girls. As soon as our folks felt we were capable of doing something on our own, we were made responsible for doing it. For example, when I was in class 4, I was made responsible for fetching the milk from the dairy. I remember going to the bank on my own when I was in class 8 or so, initially to have the passbook updated or to deposit a cheque, and then to withdraw cash, etc.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining. On the contrary, I'm glad I received this upbringing, however unconventional, because this has made me the person I am. I attended tons of hobby classes, went swimming and skating, and read at numerous libraries either by myself or with my sisters or friends. My father often took us to the zoo, the planetarium and the Museum of Natural History, and for movie screenings at the dozens of international film festivals New Delhi plays host to.

Nonetheless, the child in me sometimes wanted the life that everyone around her had. For example, the seven-year-old me yearned to be taken out by her parents for maybe a cup of ice cream or be read stories at bedtime. I dreamed about how it would feel to have a parent pick me up from school or look us over while we played at the playground. At the local bus stand, I would see mothers buying their toddlers ice cream. These are mundane, everyday acts that nobody notices, except a child with a longing.

On Monday, I picked up my son from day care and bought him ice cream. I was THAT mother.

When I was growing up, I decided that when I would become a mother, I'll be a combination of what my parents were and what they couldn't be. They were always there for me and so will I be for my child(ren), but I promised myself that I will be around for the mundane, everyday tasks as well.

So, if you see a mother out with her son, arduously trying to avoid stepping on the red-coloured tiles because ‘hey, Mom, they must never be stepped on’, don’t think about how silly she looks, but about how her innocuous hopping fills her child’s heart with joy. Some kids don't experience this.