Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Winter Break

So, it's winter break here. Anyone with kids knows what a double-edged sword that is. On the one hand, you don't need to deal with homework, getting up early, running to after-school activities, and yogurt spilled in backpacks. On the other hand, your kids are home 24/7. With you. All day long. For a complete month plus a few days in case other holidays that get attached to this break.Yeah.

On Saturday, we eased into winter break mode by sleeping half the day, then watching movies and eating garbage the other half. I'm pretty sure it's acceptable to have chili cheese dip and tortilla chips for dinner on winter break. We watched Shrek for the 58th time, The Princess and the Frog (loved it lots!), Where the Wild Things Are (hated it!), and The Time Traveler's Wife. I really liked that one, but time travel movies always confuse me. I feel like I need to make a diagram so I can follow the messed-up timeline.

Because we had successfully messed up our sleeping schedule, we all overslept and missed a breakfast invitation on Sunday. Oops.

Today, the kids played outside most of the day. It's downright pleasant here at 20 degrees and we're enjoying every bit of sand and the lazy, languorous sunshine. I love cleaning my floor and the muddy footprints are just precious reminders that I have a houseful of love. And honestly, I didn't even notice the clogged and overflowing toilet. I carefully stepped over the huge pile of papers and toys on the floor as if they weren't even there. The food stains on the couch are hardly even visible in the dark and the extra 500,000 dirty dishes every day is nothing at all. I love that my kids are home all week! Now excuse me while I pack our bags for the actual break to India starting tomorrow, and thank my stars that I don't have to deal with all the precious and overflowing love by myself for all the 30 days of the winter break.

I will be back in a month's time. Be safe and be good!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Shop till you drop is an under-statement



I had to type this in even at the risk of sounding like a mother hen, a frustrated, middle aged and menopausal female, or whatever other adjectives you can come up with. I just couldn't let go of this one without sharing! OK FINE.. my life does have a lot of kids in it at the moment..so please hear me out.


YesterdayI ended up buying a bunch of Pokemon cards. Why? Because my kids sneaked them into my shopping cart while at the grocery store and I ended up buying them because I didn't notice they were there until we got home. How could I have possibly not noticed they were in my cart, you ask? Let me explain.

You haven’t lived until you’ve gone grocery shopping with six kids in tow. I would rather swim in a bikini, be a contestant on Fear Factor when they’re having pig brains for lunch, or do fourth grade math than to take my two kids and their(four) friends to the grocery store. I absolutely detest grocery shopping, I tend to put it off as long as possible. There comes a time, however, when you’re peering into your fridge and thinking, ‘Hmmm, what can I make with ketchup, Italian dressing, and half an onion,’ that you decide you cannot avoid going to the grocery store any longer. Before beginning this most treacherous mission, I gather all the kids together and give them “The Lecture“.

“The Lecture“ goes like this…
MOM: “We have to go to the grocery store.”
KIDS: “Whine whine whine whine whine.“
MOM: “Hey, I don’t want to go either, but it’s either that or we’re eating cream of onion-ketchup soup and drinking Italian dressing for dinner tonight.”
KIDS: “Whine whine whine whine whine.“
MOM: “Now here are the rules: do not ask me for anything, do not poke the packages of meat in the butcher section, do not test the laws of physics and try to take out the bottom can in the pyramid shaped display, do not play cricket with oranges and most importantly, do not try antics with the trolley on the escalator again.”

OK, the kids have been briefed. Time to go.

Once at the store, we grab not one, but two shopping carts. The two 'thin as rake' 7 year old boys sit on one cart while I push one cart and my daughter's friend pushes the other one. My daughter is not allowed to push a cart. Ever. Why? Because the last time I let her push the cart, she smashed into my ankles so many times, my feet had to be amputated by the end of our shopping trip.

At this point, a woman looks at our two carts and asks me, “Are they all yours?” I answer with a laugh, “Yep!" Make people feel good about themselves that's my motto!!

“Oh my, you have your hands full.”

“Yes, I do!” say I while the kids give me nasty glares.

We begin in the produce section where all these wonderfully, artistically arranged pyramids of fruit stand. There is something so irresistibly appealing about the apple at the bottom of the pile, that a child cannot help but try to touch it. Much like a bug to a zapper, the child is drawn to this piece of fruit. I turn around to the sounds of apples cascading down the display and onto the floor. Like Indiana Jones, there stands my son holding the all-consuming treasure that he just HAD to get and gazing at me with this dumbfounded look as if to say, “Did you see that??? Wow! I never thought that would happen!”

I give the offending child an exasperated sigh and say, “Didn’t I tell you, before we left, that I didn’t want you taking stuff from the bottom of the pile???”

“No. You said that you didn’t want us to take a can from the bottom of the pile. You didn’t say anything about apples.” The daughter is looking embarrassed to the core.

With superhuman effort, I resist the urge to send my child to the moon and instead focus on the positive - my child actually listened to me and remembered what I said!!! I make a mental note to be a little more specific the next time I give the kids The Grocery Store Lecture.

A little old man looks at all of us and says, “Are all of those your kids?”

Thinking about the apple incident, I reply, “Nope. They just started following me. I’ve never seen them before in my life.”

OK, now onto the bakery section where everything smells so good, I’m tempted to fill my cart with cookies and call it a day. Being on a perpetual diet, I try to hurry past the assortment of pies, cakes, breads, and pastries that have my children drooling. At this point the chorus of “Can we gets” begins.

“Can we get donuts?”
“No.”
“Can we get cupcakes?”
“No.”
“Can we get muffins?”
“No.”
“Can we get pie?”
“No.”

You’d think they’d catch on by this point, but no, they’re just getting started.

In the bakery, they’re giving away free samples of coffee cake and of course, the kids all take one. A toddler decides he doesn’t like it and proceeds to spit it out in his mom's hand. (That’s what moms do. We put our hands in front of our children’s mouths so they can spit stuff into them. We’d rather carry around a handful of chewed up coffee cake, than to have the child spit it out onto the floor. I’m not sure why this is, but ask any mom and she’ll tell you the same.) At least this time the "mom" is not me! Small mercies.

My kids’ attention spans are spent. They’re done shopping at this point, but we aren’t even halfway through the store. This is about the time they like to start having shopping cart races. And who may I thank for teaching them this fun pastime? My daughter of course. While I’m picking out loaves of bread, the kids are running down the aisle behind the carts in an effort to get us kicked out of the store. I put to stop to that just as my son is about to crash head on into a giant cardboard cut-out of an elf stacked with packages of cookies.

After standing in the cereal aisle for an hour and a half while the kids perused the various cereals, comparing the marshmallow and cheap, plastic toy content of each box, I broke down and let them each pick out a box. At any given time, we have a minimum of 5 open boxes of cereal in my house.

The shopping trip continues much like this. I break up fights between the kids now and then and stoop down to pick up items that has flung out of the cart. I desperately try to get everything on my list without adding too many other goodies to the carts.

Somehow I manage to complete my shopping in under four hours and head for the check-outs where the kids start in on a chorus of, “Can we have candy?” What evil minded person decided it would be a good idea to put a display of candy in the check-out lanes, right at a child’s eye level? Obviously someone who has never been shopping with children.

As I unload the carts, I notice many extra items that my kids have sneaked in the carts. I remove a box of Twinkies, a package of cupcakes, a bag of candy, and a can of cat food (we don’t even have a cat!). I somehow missed the box of Pokemon cards however and ended up purchasing. As I pay for my purchases, the clerk looks at me, indicates my kids, and asks, “Are they all yours?”

Frustrated, exhausted from my trip, sick to my stomach from paying the bill, dreading unloading all the groceries and putting them away and tired of hearing that question, I look at the clerk and answer her in my most sarcastic voice, “No. They’re not mine. I just managed to take them away from their parents because I thought it was a fun thing to do.”

So, up for auction is an opened (they ripped open the box on the way home from the store) package of Pokemon cards. There are 44 cards total. They're in perfect condition, as I took them away from the kiddos as soon as we got home from the store. Many of them say "Energy". I tried carrying them around with me, but they didn't work. I definitely didn't have any more energy than usual. One of them is shiny. There are a few creature-like things on many of them. One is called Pupitar. Hee hee hee Pupitar! (Oh no! My kids' sense of humor is rubbing off on me!) Anyway, I don't think there's anything special about any of these cards, but I'm very much not an authority on Pokemon cards. I just know that I'm not letting my kids keep these as a reward for their sneakiness.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Answer the following and stay sane!


I didn't post last night because I couldn't get an internet connection until 11:00 pm and I was too ticked off to write.

Something happened to my router. Or maybe it was my ADSL. Or something. Anyway, I couldn't get online. I learned something about myself when I couldn't get online. I have an addiction. When I couldn't log on, I started hyperventilating, freaking out that I was missing ...I don't even know what I was missing, but I was sure I was missing SOMETHING! Something big and important and terribly exciting! My heart was beating 200 times a minute and I started twitching. I, the person who used to say that computers were evil, was going through withdrawal because I couldn't connect to the cyber world. Aparna will identify with me here..shes been through this lots of times!

Anyway, that wasn't even the frustrating part. The mind-numbing, maddening, irritating, aggravating, annoying, exasperating, infuriating, riling, troubling, trying, vexatious (thank you thesaurs.com) part of my little extravaganza tonight was the two hours I spent on the phone in a maze of voice menus. TWO HOURS!

Welcome to Omantel
For English blah blah blah number one
I see you're calling from xxx-xxx-xxxx. Is that the phone number listed on your Omantel account?


ME: Yes.

Thanks. I'll just look that up. Now, in a few words please say the purpose of your call. You can say things like "I want to pay my bill", or "I want new phone service." To speak to a service representative, say "agent".

ME: I can't get online.

It sounds like you'd like to make a payment. Is that correct?

ME: Umm no. Duh. I have internet problems.

Lets try this another way. If you're calling about payments, say "payments".

ME: NO! Not payments. Internet service!

OK which service needs repair, phone, internet, tv, or none of those?

ME: INTERNET!!!

I think you said you're calling to repair your dial up service. If this is correct, say "yes".

ME: YES!

My mistake. Please say one of the following: phone, internet, tv...

ME: INTERNET! It's always been internet. It's still internet!

To get you to the right place, I need to know where you're calling from. Are you calling from the same number as your high speed internet line?

ME: Yeah.

I think you said, "phone services." If this is correct, say "Yes".

ME: NO!

To get you to the right place, I need to know where you're calling from. Are you calling from the same number as your high speed internet line?

ME: YES!

Just a moment while I look up your account.

ME: You do that. @@

I'm sorry, I do not understand. Let's try this another way.
To get you to the right place, I need to know where you're calling from. Are you calling from the same number as your high speed internet line?


ME: YES!

Main menu: please say the option that best describes the issue you're calling about. For set up, password or connectivity issues, please say "tech. support". For billing questions or account services, say "billing". To hear these options again, you can say "repeat".

ME: GRRRRRRRR!!! You've got to be kidding me!

I'm sorry. I did not understand. If you're having problems with your high speed internet and would like tech support, say "yes".

ME: I'm having problems with this stupid voice menu! Can I talk to an actual person? Do you have any of those there???

It sounds like you want to pay your bill. Is this correct?

At this point, I whipped the phone across the room and grabbed a beer.

I tried calling the customer service line for my router, thinking that maybe someone there could help me. I was on hold for 42 minutes. That's not an exaggeration. FORTY-TWO MINUTES! I heard Rhapsody in Blue, Moonlight Sonata, Beethoven's Fifth, Barcarolle, William Tell Overature, and Danse Macabre. I started comparing the pieces to the way my kids play them. I never did talk to anyone there.

I tried two more times and each time, after navigating their system for several minutes, I finally got through to an actual person. Of course, when I finally got a person on the phone, they didn't speak English! I guess they might technically have been speaking English, but it was so broken that it might as well have been Arabic, Greek or Ubbi Dubbi. Why? Why is this? And why do these people act so annoyed that you're bothering them with your obviously stupid questions? Where's the customer service? From the cashier at the grocery store, to the floor help at the clothing store, to the customer service rep. on the other end of the phone, more often than not I encounter someone rude, annoyed, or seemingly bored. What, can no one smile? Can nobody be helpful? Can't anyone at least pretend to care about your needs?

It's so rare to find a person who will not only help you with a smile, but who will go out of their way to give excellent customer service. Whenever I encounter such a person, I make sure to let them know how much I appreciate their help. I also try to find a manager so I can praise the employee that took the time and effort to give great service.

Anyway, at 8:30, I completely gave up, ran out to the City Centre, hoping to get there before they closed, and bought a new router. Voila! Problem fixed. I got back online at 11:00 pm.

It's been a fun two days here. I also learned that my youngest hasn't turned in numerous assignments at school. He's grounded until the second coming. Today the youngest of my neighbour's kids, who has been totally potty trained for over a year, decided to poop in the garbage can. Why? Why do they do things like this? For the love of all that is Holy, WHY??? I made her dump it out into a garbage bag. Then, apparently offended by the stench of her own poop, she figured she'd spray some air freshener around. Unfortunately she grabbed a can of lemon-fresh Pledge instead. She sprayed furniture polish into the air and it landed in a waxy coat on the floors. They are now more slippery than the ice skating rink.

Speaking of kids they have holidays for a week starting today. What are the chances they'll let peace reign? What are the chances I'll stay sane if they don't?

Monday, November 8, 2010

facebook, a pre teen and same old me


I have been elusive again and here's the excuse..

As I was sitting at my computer, staring at a blank screen, waiting for inspiration, I updated my Facebook status. "I hate when I stare at my computer screen and my fingers don't automatically start typing the brilliance that's in my head."

It's true. I always have awesome stories in my head, but when I go to write them down, the lure of solitaire or mahjong pulls me away. Sometimes I'm too distracted by the to-do list that plays a never-ending, continuous loop in my brain. Oftentimes, I'm too busy doing mom-stuff like reading to the kids, helping them with their homework, driving them here and there, signing papers, cooking, cleaning, laundry, and not to forget the editorial bit blah, blah, blah and can't sit down for more than five minutes at a time(wonder how I manage to keep my weight from falling!). But most of the time, I just have a hard time getting started.

So, tonight as I sat staring at my blank screen, Facebook called me to play. After I updated my status, Toshali commented on it, "maybe because you have a cookie in your hand :D"

Okay, so yeah, I had a cookie in my hand, but she didn't have to write it on my wall, for goodness sake! I mean, isn't there some kind of etiquette for these things? Everyone was supposed to think I was a tortured artist waiting for inspiration, not that I was too busy stuffing my face with choco chip cookies to type.

Toshali and I continued our conversation on my Facebook wall. I told her, "Be quiet and do your homework." We exchanged barbs online as I sat at my desk writing and she sat a couple of feet away on my bed, working on her homework. And you know what? I loved it. She could've worked in her room. She could've hung out in the family room, researching. She chose to hang out with me for a bit. Now I know she's a pre-teen and as such, prefers the company of her friends to dear old mom, but still there are those times when she'll come by me, plop down, and just chat. Sometimes we don't even talk. We'll just hang out. Other times, she'll make fun of me on Facebook. And it's all good. Keeping those lines of communication open is SO important even as our kids get older. Especially as our kids get older. Keep talking to them. And, maybe even more importantly, listen to them. They might just surprise you with what they have to say. I mean, I had no idea my daughter had been working so far ahead in her first year French class that she'd already learned to converse in that language and also sing a couple of french songs. Of course, I also didn't know she'd a whole new list of friends for her up coming birthday. See? Talking to your kids opens whole new worlds of information. So that adds to my to-do-list now doesn't it? Getting to know these bunch of new kids who have stormed into my girl's life in the past year!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Dressing woes

In the days BC (before children) I'd see kids in the store wearing the most crazy outfits and I'd think to myself, 'What on earth were their parents thinking???' Now that I have kids of my own, I understand. Kids like to dress themselves and it just isn't worth fighting over.

So, your child wants to wear a red sweat shirt, lavender(read purple) pants,I'm not sure why anyone would have purple pants to begin with..., yellow knee socks, boots, and a tiara in July. As a parent you have to pick and choose your battles. Generally it's best to save your energy for the more important things such as when the kids want to build a spaceship from parts they’ve taken out your sound system, blender plus a list of other gadgets or when the kids decide it would be a good idea to paint their bedroom door with nail polish. Stuff like The Hitting My Sister With a Smelly Sock Repeatedly Battle, or The He's Looking At Me Battle, just aren't worth the effort.

I've actually decided to stop buying new clothes for my kids. My son wears the same nasty old T-shirts day in and day out. It doesn't matter that he has a closet full of nice, new clothes. I'm sure his teacher thinks he's an orphan. And when I take the shirts away and toss them in the garbage, they somehow magically reappear in his drawer again and again. when he was younger, he did wear whatever I picked out for him. The only problem was - he liked to dress himself and 99% of the time, he put it on backwards. I mean, he's got a 50/50 shot of getting it right, yet his shoes are always on backwards and his tag is always sticking out the front of his shirt. I have not yet figured out why.

My daughter has nothing to wear. Again, she has a closet full of beautiful, untouched clothing, but I guess the clothes are invisible to her because when she opens her closet door, she sees nothing. She, more often than not, opts to wear my shoes as well. Hmmm maybe I could go raid HER closet for things to wear. I'm sure I'd look quite stylish in her little skirts( Hey dont you all dare check my weight!). This coming from a baby who didn't care what she wore as long as she got on shoes. First thing in the morning, she used to wake me up and bring me her shoes to put on. Before I change her nappy, I must slip shoes onto her feet. Pajamas and shoes. A diaper and shoes. Just shoes. And now my shoes plus the rest which she doesn't see!

My son's best friend and a regular at my place, spends most of his day just hanging out in his underwear. Maybe he's onto something. I'm sure it's very comfortable to walk around in nothing but your undies. But imagine ...well don't!

I have stopped blaming parents for the dresses kids wear!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

An official evening and a gauche..

I am sufficiently old and I don’t know many things. Unlike Francis Bacon, all knowledge is not in my province. Come to think of it, my province is pretty small. And among the many things that I do(did) not know is that mince pies do not have mince in them but little bits of sticky fruit.


So, I am sitting here at this east-west official dinner and everyone is interrupting everyone else with their travelogues and the tiresome effort it is to get a good room in a good hotel in Paris, one can’t really stay just anywhere, can one, when these little food items arrive and the hostess says, "have a mince pie." I take one and bite into it and fill my mouth with a reasonably tasty clot of sticky sweet fruit. "Hey," I say, "this is sweet." "Of course," says my hostess, "it is a mince pie." Most people in my position would have heard the penny drop, picked up the drift so to speak and shut up. Put a sock in it. Let it be. Not me. I soldier on, regardless of the flak. "Fancy that," I say, "I always thought mince pies had mincemeat in them, you know like kheema, not fruit, mutton or shredded chicken or something." There is this kinda hush situation followed by a crepe of embarrassment and then a fellow countrywoman turns to me and says, "you didn’t know mince pies are sweet?" "No," I say, "didn’t have a clue, always thought they were like steak and kidney pies, only squishy." She gives a dry, mirthless laugh, as if to say she didn’t know this was an evening for intellectual slumming, where did this one come from, what sort of people are they calling to parties these days, gatecrashers!!


"Where do you live, says another guest, you have never eaten a mince pie. " "No, I say, never, read about it in the books but never really eaten one. Come to think of it, never knew what black pudding was, always thought it was one of those caramel custard things burnt black. " Countrywoman gives a shrill little trill and says, "where do you live, in the boonies, she thought black pudding was sweet, oh this is funny." And all these people from my part of the world they are apologising for my faux pas and prattling on about their impressive relationships with mince pies and the westerners are all looking at me pitifully as if I was one of those drifters who had drifted in and shouldn’t have, and I am looking at this tableau in awe and wondering why I should be ashamed of not knowing there isn’t any mince in a mince pie. Peasant.


Member of the great unwashed. Plebe. So down market, country bumpkin. Guess where these
unspoken but highly articulate remarks are coming from. My own kind. They are red-faced for me and on the way back to the car park I overhear this lady tell her husband, that journalist is so gauche, I mean what will they think of us, we don’t even know what is in a mince pie. And the husband, he is nodding wisely and looking ever so worldly, like he was the world’s leading authority on mince pies and had been fed black pudding along with gripe water in Ludhiana or whatever. By 'they' the lady evidently means the western element at the party. By 'us' she as obviously means all brown billion of us, the majority of which she would not like to associate with, seeing as how they won’t be tops on their mince pie knowhow. If it wasn’t all so tragic it would be mind-boggling funny.

Before I got into the party I also got into my stride and confessed that I was 28 or thereabouts when I learnt that Steak Tartare was raw meat and that the exotic sounding Mulligatawny soup was derived from the Indian words “Mullak thani,” meaning ‘country water’, or simply, lentil soup. I had no idea that a scone was a round piece of cake rather than some exotic food item slathered with hot, melting butter. As for a macaroon I thought it was stretched macaroni. So
what? No one was impressed, not after I had mince pie on my face. With pieces of fruit in it. And then I turned to Allyson and I said, so how come they didn’t just call it sticky fruit pie. And I bet Allyson has no idea what puttu is anyway so we are quits!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Home is never an obligation


A house is a house is a house-until love comes through the door, that is. And
love intuitively goes around sprinkling that special brand of angel dust that
transforms a house into a very special home for very special people: your
family.




Money, of course, can build a charming house, but only love can furnish it
with a feeling of home.

Duty can pack an adequate office/school lunch, but love may decide to tuck a little
note inside.

Money can provide a television set, but love controls it and cares enough to
say no and take the roar that comes with it.

Obligation sends the children to bed on time, but love tucks the covers in
around their necks and passes out kisses and hugs.

Obligation can cook a meal, but love embellishes the table with candles and a potted ivy.

Duty writes many letters, but love tucks a joke or a picture inside.

Compulsion keeps a sparkling house. But love and prayer stand a better chance
of producing a happy family.

Duty gets offended quickly if it isn’t appreciated. But love learns to laugh
a lot and to work for the sheer joy of doing it.

Obligation can pour a glass of milk, but quite often love will add a little
chocolate.

This was my 100th post. Looking forward to more milestones. Share my joys, trials and tribulations as we skip along together.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Not the best mom..but a mom nevertheless..


I love my kids. I don't think anyone would disagree with that. I love them more than almost anything. They're the most important people in my life. But when the summer rolls around, they need to GET OUT OF THE HOUSE! My home is in a constant state of disarray (that's a nice way of saying that it looks like the aftermath of a gonu or a phet). And the fighting! Ohmygod, the fighting! They're at each other's throats all day long. I finally locked them outside told them to go outside and kill each other play so I wouldn't have to clean the blood off the carpet hear them anymore. That was all fine until I realized they'd flooded the car park with the fire extinguisher hose. I apologize to the watchman for the river running through the car park and the long red hose slithering like an angry snake on the floor, still gushing water as we talk. Hey, look at it this way, you just had the car park cleaned without any effort. Yay! Sorry (looking down apologetically). I couldn't even get mad at them for flooding the car park because I'd told them to go outside and play and well, they were playing outside. I didn't specifically tell them not to turn the hose into a snake and the car park into a lake.

Now, I love my bond, don't get me wrong. But really? Really??? Boys come up with the dumbest ideas! And not only do they think of stupid things to do, but they don't learn from them! They don't say, "Hmmm, that was a bad idea. I won't do that again." Nope. Instead, they think, "Hmmm, how can I make it more dangerous the next time?" There's always a "next time" with boys. Meanwhile, my daughters and their friends look on in amazement. They're not amazed that my son has managed some fantastic feat, oh no. They're amazed at how seemingly stupid the boys are.

What is it about the male brain? Do they have no concept of danger? Do they just not realize that they're most likely going to be injured? Or do they just not care because any amount of injury or punishment is worth the momentary thrill of flying through the air? I will seriously never understand the male brain. I guess I'll just have to thank them for keeping us females entertained and dumbfounded at the extent of their ummm, daring.

And, in the meantime, there are thirty-two hours and twelve minutes until my house can be cleaned and stay clean for more than twenty seconds, and the kids have some structure back in their lives! Not that I'm counting or anything.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Love - a high or a sigh?


Yesterday morning when I woke up I was still pissed off. So I decided do stop by his house and give him a piece of my mind. I was going to yell, scream, hit him, make him feel like shit. I had it all planned out. I drove to his house and rang the doorbell. He opened the door with a surprised look on his face. "Hey...?" he said, and gave me a hug. Damn, I thought. Why'd he have to hug me? I couldn't hit him then. I couldn't yell or cry or be angry with him at all. He has such influence over me it's disturbing.

We stood on his porch and had a big talk. I can't remember everything exactly but I told him how horrible he made me feel sometimes. How I felt like he was trying to replace me and memories of me with his girlfriend. I want him to have new memories, but I want him to remember old ones, too. I know at one point I started crying and he hugged me close to him. Then he told me that I made him feel like shit, too. A while ago. I told him to tell me everything that I had done wrong and everything that he was mad at me for... So he got it all off his chest. Everything came out. He was on the verge of tears, too. After we got all our anger out, things got softer. We talked about how we liked each other, how he's scared to be with me because he doesn't want to get hurt again.

As we talked, I was kind of flirting with him on purpose, like playing with his jacket strings and zipper and tickling his neck. At one point I put my hand on his chest, right over his heart. It was pounding. I let out a small laugh.
"What?" He asked.
"Remember when I used to rest my head on your chest and listen to your heart?"
He smiled.
"Yeah, I remember. It was your favorite thing to do."
And so I did again. He moved his jacket and pulled my head to his chest. His heart beat even faster. I smiled into his shirt and turned my head so that I was breathing him in.
"Are you smelling me..?"
I smiled again. "Yes. You smell good."
He laughed and asked what he smells like.
"Magic," I said.
I stepped away from him so that I could see his face.
"Do I have a smell?" I asked.
"Yes."
"What do I smell like?" "Good. Really good."
I sniffed my hair, and he chuckled and said, grinning,
"No, not your hair..."
He pulled my hair all to one side so that the left side of my neck was bare.
"Right there.."
He leaned down and smelled my neck, then began kissing it. He kissed my neck, each kiss getting closer and closer to my face. He was about to reach my lips when I turned away,
"No. I'm not going to be that girl again. The girl that makes the guy cheat on his girlfriend. I hate that feeling."
He looked down and nodded. We continued talking about each other. How much we loved each other's eyes, stuff like that. We reminisced on the night of our first kiss. He remembered what I was wearing, what the date was, everything. I started playing with his ear, something I do that began that night and which I have done ever since. Eventually both my hands were worked up in his hair and his were pulling me closer to him. Our lips were an inch apart. He leaned in closer and I put two fingers on his mouth to stop him. He groaned.
In a whisper,
"Come on..."
We gazed into the eyes of the other and it overtook me. In that moment I no longer cared that He had a girlfriend; it wasn't real, their love. But our moment was. I let him lean in once more and his lips brushed mine gently.

But that was yesterday. Now I'm just confused. He's with his girlfriend right now. Their families got together for dinner. He hasn't talked to me all day... I don't think he's going to tell his girlfriend about what happened... and I don't think he's going to break up with her.

His girlfriend: has been cheated on and doesn't know it. Her boyfriend likes and wants to be with me, his best friend. She doesn't know this either.
Him: likes and wants to be with two girls. Wants to be with me more than his girlfriend, but is scared to because I hurt him in the past.
Me: I'm in love with my best friend, but he has a girlfriend and even though he cheated on her with me he's not going to tell her because he doesn't want to break up with her.

I don't know what's going to happen. I asked him if he was going to take a chance and be with me, and he said, "Baby steps. I'll get there. Slowly. It might take a year; or more, or less.

Sigh.

This is not judgemental, this is just the way it is at times. Another attempt to understand the human mind.

Friday, August 20, 2010

How the wheels of society turn


THEY were not on the A list in social terms. More like a B or B plus. Not rich enough, not famous enough, not powerful enough. So, while they were pretty active on the city circuit they were never at the best places. Just second best. Sort of like there but not there, second stringers at best, desperately seeking the front row.

This irked both husband and wife so they devised a strategy to get themselves into the ‘in’ parties. They gate-crashed. If it was a top shelf gathering they’d be there.
Not in the clumsy or crude manner you might expect of barging in but with a little bit of panache. They’d call the hostess and say, "Awfully sorry, we were out of town and must have missed the invitation, but don’t worry we’ll be there, wouldn’t miss it for the world."

Once they called a host and said, "Our houseboy is such a nuisance, he never gives us the messages, no good help these days, hahaha, so sweet of you to be giving this dinner for the visiting MPs, sure you don’t need any help, we could get our cook to make something," On another occasion they gate crashed a private dinner by explaining how they had just landed from the airport and how they are so fortunate they got back tonight, right in time. And they always carried gifts or a bouquet of flowers to soften their entry.

The A list crowd were cruel in their comments but the ridicule was in private and even though they joked about the couple they never really came out and said, "get lost." Over the months the gate-crashing continued and the game took on a new twist. There was now speculation over whether the gate-crashing husband and wife would fetch up at a dinner or not.

And then one evening at a small dinner party for twenty of fairly important people the hostess looked distraught and uneasy. Guests asked her what was wrong but she wouldn’t say. Finally, she couldn’t hold back and she blurted out what was on her mind. The gatecrashers hadn’t gate-crashed. It was way past ten o’clock and there was no sign of them. she whispered. "They didn’t come,""Maybe they don’t think we are good enough for them," said someone half jokingly. And a legend was born.

Almost immediately the gatecrashers had been lionised and turned into society barometers. If they gate-crashed your party you were to the manor born, if they stayed away you were a has been, not worth the bother. The whole ludicrous scenario was further validated by the tacit approval of the giddy social circles. There was even an honour system that evolved in that the true test of your party’s worth and your standing lay in their gate-crashing you. If you invited them it did not count, it was a natural disqualification. They had to fetch up on their own. Things came to such a pass that the hosts would sweat with suspense until the couple fetched up or have a completely wretched evening because they had been dumped. Very soon the A list had been transformed according to this arbitrary yardstick and the gate- crashing couple had become famous and very powerful indicators. If they didn’t come to your party the message flashed across the city. These are yesterday’s people, not even worth gate-crashing.

Ah, how the rich live. You think I jest. You think wrong.

note: This is not about the White house gate crashers - Michelle and Tariq Silahi..though inspired for that news.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Where the mind is without fear...there lays real freedom


Nothing is as precious as one's freedom. Dreams, aspirations, and ideals mean nothing if one does not have the freedom to pursue them.

what does freedom mean?

For some it will mean graduating from school, finally getting out into the wide world, getting a job and earning money. For some it will mean throwing a bag in the car and getting out of the city into the wide open country to breathe good clean air. For some, freedom simply means not being imprisoned by responsibilities and commitments.

Freedom is certainly all those things and more.

There is an intrinsic need to loosen and throw off the shackles of circumstances and situations that people believe hold them back and curb their desire to fly. And yet, sooner or later, if you've headed out into the country for a break, you have to curtail your freedom again. You have to go back to the city, or to the job the next day, or knuckle down to the next task at hand, until the urge to break free overwhelms you again. So the cycle turns, and turns, and turns, leaving you more and more dissatisfied with what you have and constantly being reminded of that need to escape.

Real freedom isn't dependent upon external circumstances. Real freedom is right there in our own heart, mind and soul if we could only recognise it. The freedom from being controlled by boredom, or dislike of people we don't particularly get on with. Imagine the freedom from the need to own, control and to fear loss of people or things. Imagine the freedom from the suffocating need to be loved, respected, admired or valued. Freedom from being defensive and territorial. Yes, to be free is not just about being 18 years old and have a say at the ballots. Its not about tatoos and navel rings, late nights and drinking bouts. Its much more and its much before. Real freedom takes real courage.

Otto Frank's quote to his daughter Anne is relevant to all of us. "Always remember this Anna, there are no walls, no bolts, no locks that anyone can put on your mind."

Our country stands tall in her achievements, She has done it inspite of the politicians, the corruption, the red tape, the menace and the filth. I think we can rise above all this too and be free in the real sense. Happy Independence Day! The lines below made me proud, hope they will make you smile today!

WORLD HISTORY - FACTS ABOUT INDIA

India never invaded any country in her last 1000 years of history.


India invented the Number system. Zero was invented by Aryabhatta.


The world's first University was established in Takshila in 700BC. More than 10,500 students from all over the world studied more than 60 subjects.The University of Nalanda built in the 4th century BC was one of the greatest achievements of ancient India in the field of education.


According to the Forbes magazine, Sanskrit is the most suitable language for computer software.


Ayurveda is the earliest school of medicine known to humans.


Although western media portray modern images of India as poverty striken and underdeveloped through political corruption, India was once the richest empire on earth.


The art of navigation was born in the river Sindh 5000 years ago. The very word "Navigation" is derived from the Sanskrit word NAVGATIH.


The value of pi was first calculated by Budhayana, and he explained the concept of what is now known as the Pythagorean Theorem. British scholars have last year (1999) officially published that Budhayan's works dates to the 6th Century which is long before the European mathematicians.


Algebra, trigonometry and calculus came from India. Quadratic equations were by Sridharacharya in the 11th Century; the largest numbers the Greeks and the Romans used were 106 whereas Indians used numbers as big as 1053.


According to the Gemological Institute of America, up until 1896, India was the only source of diamonds to the world.


USA based IEEE has proved what has been a century-old suspicion amongst academics that the pioneer of wireless communication was Professor Jagdeesh Bose and not Marconi.


The earliest reservoir and dam for irrigation was built in Saurashtra.
Chess was invented in India.


Sushruta is the father of surgery. 2600 years ago he and health scientists of his time conducted surgeries like cesareans, cataract, fractures and urinary stones. Usage of anaesthesia was well known in ancient India.


When many cultures in the world were only nomadic forest dwellers over 5000 years ago, Indians established Harappan culture in Sindhu Valley (Indus Valley Civilisation).


The place value system, the decimal system was developed in India in 100 BC.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Women can read maps... its just not the priority!


Now that I have been working for well over a year, multi-tasking has become second nature to me. It sounds like a praise, but believe me, its not, its just a reflex action on which the conscious mind has no control.

How can this be a bad thing? Well, I now completely lack the ability to do less than three things at a time. When I sit down to watch a movie or a TV show, I am still working or thinking about working or feeling guilty about not working.

I decided to make a chart of my daily activities and how they get completed. lets read out a page...

When I eat breakfast, I am also checking my mail, dodging cereal into Bond's mouth(This is his moment of fun with me! Turning the mouth just in time to splatter the spoonful on the table mat! Till date the scores are even..so guess, I am not bad at ensuring that 50% of what is dished out does eventually find a place in his tummy.) and cleaning my kitchen from the party-night earlier.

When I am folding clothes, I am also taking up Q&As with Toshali, getting Bond's craft list into my memory and praying it stays there till the evening. Also ticking my check list on the pending phone calls that need to be made.

When I am driving, I am going through spellings with Bond, thinking about the work I need to do that day, and also trying to remember what I need from the grocery store. trying my level best not to miss the important 'for sale' signs.

When I am cooking, I am also on the phone. As all moms will agree that this is the ideal time for the kids to get their way. So usually the scene that continues with an on going phone conversation is like this :

Bond: "Mom I am going to play, will do the homework later."

Me: Glaring once, mouthing a shriek, gulping a curse and with no apparent reaction..finally shouting a huge "NO", only to scare mom-in-law at the other end of the phone...

Mom-in-law(from the other end of the line) : "I was just asking, GOD!! You really have become rude and insensitive since you took up that job of yours.. "

Me: Blurting illegibly, going crazy signalling with the rolling pin at Bond to get back in, while he coolly takes his cycle and closes the door on my silly face.

Mom-in-law hangs up and I am left with a rolling pin, a burnt chapati on the gas, unfinished homework and a hyper ventilating heart!

When I am going to the bathroom - wait a minute. I don't get to go to the bathroom for more than 27 seconds anyway, so that doesn't really leave time for much else. Except yelling down the hall at my daughter to pick up the phone that's been ringing since I entered the bathroom and nobody seems to mind the brain numbing ring!

The list is endless, please ladies feel free to add in all the multi-tasking you have been doing. We do not realise it unless we put it on paper(blog) like this!

Torture for me would be to sit me on the couch with absolutely nothing - no paper, no pens to write on my hand with, no articles to read. Then make sure the kitchen is messy and my kid's are watching High School Musical instead of studying for the upcoming quiz. Then just force me to sit there and do nothing.

After about 19 seconds I would begin to tremble. After a minute I would look like I was goingthrough detox. After about 5 minutes, you would have to strap me to the couch, because that would be the only way I would be able to not do anything.

What if it is like a drug addiction and I have to add more and more tasks to my plate? Where would I be able to draw the line? Is there a limit to how many tasks a woman can tackle at a time?

After being married for almost thirteen years, I am convinced that the only multi-tasking men can do is read while going to the bathroom.

And then they come up with books like 'Why women can't read maps'.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Unwrap the treasure trove



In every home there are things that are purchased primarily with the idea of not using them. This fact was brought home to me when I suggested the highly expensive silver tea-set on a silver salver bought a few years back should be trotted out now and then. This got raised eye brows from my husband, a "are you completely nuts?" look from Toshali and as expected a look of sheer excitement and pleasure from Bond!

The sparkling tea-set, after regularly exhausting 'Gerard Silver polish' to maintain the glory of the three piece set plus tray, sits proudly inside the side board. Never has tea been poured into the pot, milk into the jug or sugar into the bowl. I am told that such things are kept for 'special occasions', but nowhere is a 'special occasion' defined. I think tomorrow evening, I and Bond will make it a date with silver. I will seat ourselves on the opposite sides of the centre-table and pour tea from silver. That would be special enough for us!

The bar counter is full of crystal goblets, and 'Hard Rock Cafe' shot glasses. Each from a different country, each a memoir of a place visited. They sit too, waiting I suppose for the beautiful lips that visit our home, to touch their rims. But alas, the rims remain un-adorned. They are brought out only to be wiped and polished and put back in order to stare at the visitors who admire them from behind the glass barrier. The talk of bringing them out does not give raised eye brows, it gives a look of horror. Well he should know, he lugged them all the way from distant shores. He does make an attempt now and then, I must admit, but each time, he is thwarted with a caution. What if one breaks and the set is ruined. "Can you sit there comfortably waiting to see if some one drops it or the cleaner chips it washing up?" He asks. I think I can, but this question is one of those that does not await an answer, it just means the answer is NO. Well, Bond is too young to accompany me on this tryst..so I plan on adorning the rims myself.

What about the limited editions MontBlanc pen? It has not seen how a paper looks like since it walked out of the store in 1999. Actually I am not sure, if it has ever seen what paper looks like. The list is endless, there are copper utensils that have been passed on only to be polished and kept aside, there is trousseau that was bought knowing well enough that I would not wear it beyond the month of my marriage, so they lie as well, draped in white muslin cloth in a cupboard somewhere. There are linens that await an important visitor too, only to be forgotten when the visitor arrives. The suit that was tailored and perfected after various rounds of boring trials, it hangs on a hanger in its leather case, only to be aired once every season. The bone china dinner set in a pattern of pink china roses lies in its original packaging still. The list is truly vast and endless.

Go on, admit it. Your house has suitcases full of good things you have squirreled away for another day, or what we call the right time. there is a real silliness in the saving up. Things get out dated, new models spring up, there are better things to buy in the stores, and then all of a sudden we are disillusioned with what we have, but have never used. take it out now before it becomes passe, it will never become an antique, let me tell you, it will just become outdated!

Hoard memories, they are worth polishing and preserving, the stuff that we buy..let's use them, if we don't break them, the packers certainly will one day!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Absurdities then and now

Lines we have all heard as kids. Lines we know are ridiculous, and yet we repeat them to our kids. Knowing, they think we are being ridiculous.

"Eat the apple, c'mon now, finish it! You will get apple like red cheeks!" Even as a 5 year old I knew that the skin of the apple wouldn't climb up to my cheek and rub its colour onto me. My kids know that too, and yet I say it. This is not about racism guys, its just what I end up saying when they refuse to have an apple.




"Finish all the food on your plate. Don't you know there are so many starving children in the world!"
I was never sure how finishing my rice and fish was going to help hungry kids on the other side of the world, but it seemed to make sense to parents everywhere. It definitely makes a lot of sense to me now. Its my meal time mantra.





I liked to make faces in front of the mirror, when I was a kid. And you know what my mom said? Say it with me everyone. "Your face is going to freeze like that." And she'd say it all serious-like, as if she actually believed it herself. Have you ever seen a person with a face frozen with their eyelids pulled up, their fingers stuck in their nostrils, and their tongue hanging out? Yeah, I didn't think so. And yet, today, when my kids fight and make faces at each other, "Mom, didi is sticking her tongue out at me! Mom Bond's making a face at me!" thats exactly what I say.


"Don't make me turn this car around!"
You know how many times he actually turned the car around? Never. It was an empty threat designed to keep me and my friends quiet. And it worked everytime. For 90 seconds. Really though, in the history of mankind, has anyone ever actually turned the car around? Why would you do that? You'd still have to listen to the fighting and screaming on the way back home. And then, eventually, you'd have to go back out and complete your trip anyway.
But I still say this line to my kids, with variations in voice modulation depending on the need of the hour.


And finally there was the famous, " If your best friend jumped off a bridge, would you follow her?" Well I usually retorted to this one, because by the time this line was being used on me, I was a teenager and more vocal with my thoughts. So the retort would be on the lines of, " Possibly. How long are you going to stay with this line of questioning? Kidding! just kidding mom. I wouldn't jump off a bridge to get away from you. I mean , I wouldn't jump off a bridge just because my friends do. So, does that mean No, I can't go to the concert that everyone else is going to?"



Things have not changed much from this line of questioning as well. Today when my daughter asks for a mobile stating the fact that all her friends have one...why do I say.. you guessed that right!! Why do I say...God Help!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Rants and chore coupons

I have always been a grocery list person but lately, I always forget to bring the damn list with me to the store. And by lately, I mean since 2006. So yesterday, I came up with the brilliant idea to text myself the list! I mean, hello? I carry my phone everywhere! How smart am I?

Woot!
I forgot to bring my cell phone with me to the store yesterday.

We now have 5 bags of cupcakes and no salt.

I need to learn not to sweat the small stuff.

So what if I broke down and consumed a tub of tiramisu for lunch yesterday, what’s the big deal if we own three cordless phones but yet I am forced to shout "CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? WAIT, I’M MOVING INTO THE CLOSET. CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?" into my cell phone because I can’t find any of them?

Is it any biggie that my kids, who never see eye to eye on anything, finally found common ground in that they’ve mutually agreed to spend their summer screaming at, bickering with, and hurling insults at each other instead of, say, swimming in the pool?

No big whoop.

I need to keep it in perspective.. because there's a light somewhere at the end of this tunnel..., I might be forgetful, I might be cranky, and silly and moody and ogreish most of the time..and yet there is a light at the end of this tunnel.

When I was a kid, I was rarely grounded. Not because I was an angel, but because my mother was smart enough to realize that if she grounded me, that meant I couldn’t go anywhere and would be stuck in the house 24/7. The same house in which she lived. So, instead of grounding, my mother opted to become a screamer and much like anything she sets her mind to, she excelled at it. Accompanying the screaming was the eyebrow arch.

As with so many of her other talents like gardening, cooking and general housekeeping, I did not inherit all of my mother’s aptitude when it came to discipline. I am genetically incapable of arching either one of my eyebrows without bond interrupting me to ask if I’m having a seizure.

I can, however, scream. Maybe not to my mother’s decibel level but enough so that the vocal chords straining out of my neck are probably on Google Earth somewhere. However, I hate screaming. It always results in a mammoth headache. my screams go in one ear, bounce around the skull for awhile and exit via the other out of sheer boredom. My kids have learned to wait until my lungs collapse at which time they emerge from their cocoons, spread their wings and fly about their merry way. So in addition to screaming, because giving that up would be akin to giving up natural instinct altogether, I resort to grounding. I find my kids’ “currency” and garnish their wages. Fortunately for me, the currency at the moment is the same for both of them, specifically time on the computer and time with friends. This makes it very convenient and saves me the hassle of being creative with respect to individual consequences. A good thing because when the blood is gushing around my head and my eyes are protruding three feet out of their sockets, I don’t feel much like being creative. However, if you all have lost your way through my rants, let me make it clear that this is not a rant post ..nor is this about my forgetfulness. This is about that light at the end of the tunnel. Remember..

Yah, so amidst all the forgetting and screaming and grounding, my 37th birthday dawned. I woke up bored, and fearful of that extra wrinkle I might encounter while brushing my teeth. I was indecisive about whether to make it a big deal at work and carry some pastries, I was not sure about why it was my birthday at all, again , so soon, after the last time. So, with such random things on my mind I came out of the bathroom and headed for my coffee. And then in a sudden flurry of activity..things changed.



If you have succeeded in reading through the handwriting, some of you would have realised, that this is a chore coupon book. Toshali made this for my birthday. She gets no pocket money and so this is what she gifted me. Priceless!! You all would have also realised that I love head massages..if its a bit of more information than required, please ignore it! And now after the overwhelming love that I felt for my daughter, I looked at Bond..and asked," So, what have you for momma?" He replied, "When I get pocket money, I will buy you a perfume." He hugged me and smiled and ran away with the coupon book to tick his siter off. He ensures till date that all the coupons are delivered and keeps time as his sister massages my head with warm oil!!

Life is amazing!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

263,Prinsengracht

The land of sex and marijuana. The city where usually people go to have some 'fun'. Slip cakes and brownies, weeds and pots. Slip less ladies cavorting behind glass windows - a mindless job. This, apart from the tulips and the windmills was what I had expected as part of my trip to Amsterdam last month.

Amsterdam was much more than any of this. The canals with their beautiful boat houses, the windmills, the smiling people on their cycles and then the house that hid eight people for two years from the Gestapo. This post is about my feelings as I stepped back in time on entering Prinsengracht 263, Anne Frank Huis, Amsterdam.

I’ll probably fail at putting it into words, but it was definitely one of the most overwhelming experiences of my life. Not “getting married” overwhelming, or “having a kid” overwhelming, but overwhelming in the sense that I was standing in the same place where people hid for 2 years in order to save their lives. Standing and walking around in the same place where this girl wrote in her diary, not knowing what would happen to her family, to her. I felt as if I had stepped back in history. To the period that is evident only in the books on holocoust now.

The secret annexe, the thick black curtains on the windows, the narrow staircase, the single toilet that was used by eight people. The flush that could be pulled only after 12 at night and before 8 in the morning, the hollywood stars on the walls, the hope of a young girl amidst the chaos outside. The pointers on the walls by Otto Frank depicting the growth in height of Margot and Anne, the gas stove, the cots, the attic window. As I walked through the rooms, touched the walls, slid the curtains, sat on her bed, the thought of that young girl was never far from me. It was as if she was whispering to me, " You are free, I was not."

  • Birth Name: Annelies Marie Frank
  • Birth Date: June 12, 1929
  • Died:March 31, 1945
  • July 6, 1942: Frank and family moved into hiding place, "Secret Annexe"
  • August 4, 1944: Hiding spot found by the German Police
  • March 1945: Died of typhus at age 15 while in a concentration camp
  • AP: Anne Frank Saplings May be Planted in 10 US Cities (April 17, 2009)
  • The concentration camp was liberated one month after her death
"'Would anyone, either Jew or non-Jew, understand this about me, that I am simply a young girl badly in need of some rollicking fun?'" Friday, 24 December, 1943

"I've reached the point where I hardly care whether I live or die. The world will keep on turning without me, and I can't do anything to change events anyway. I'll just let matters take their course and concentrate on studying and hope that everything will be all right in the end." - February 3, 1944

"It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart. It’s utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death. I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more" - July 15, 1944

"You know what I do when I think I can't stand another minute cooped up? I think myself outside. You know the most wonderful part of thinking yourself outside. You can have it any way you like. You can have rows of roses and violets all blooming in the same season, isn't that wonderful!" July 15, 1944


"I don't think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains."
Anne Frank

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Guilty feelings got no rhythm..


I have been dreading this... I have been dreading to come to my page. In fact a few hours back, I was chatting with my niece and told her the same thing. We quickly resolved it and blamed the family genes, our stupidity, and our lack of persistence in anything that has any merit attached to it. So did I give up blogging? Not exactly..but I don't know what to write about anymore, my life lacks inspiration and also as I was telling her, "When the novelty of adulation ends it becomes just another chore!"

I am sure some of you wondered and the rest gave up. Absence without any cause or notice or justification is in a way very liberating. Perhaps you can't get away with this kind of behaviour anywhere else. There is always the risk of losing out on your follower base and readership.. but at times its ok not to give a damn!

And today when I write, I do it because I want to and not because I have not written for a week, and the pressure is building up. That in itself is such a pleasant feeling. So lets start this one here..

Talking about pressures, there is another feeling that almost always surrounding us, and thats 'guilt'. Especially 'mommy guilt'. Each morning at 5:00 am when its time to wake the kids up, the race begins.."UGH!! I shouldnt have stayed up reading so late!" Bond starts to skate around the hall, toshali can't find her brush, and there is always a fight that nips at my arms, shoulders and brain, till I want to flick the kids off! I want five minutes - just five freaking minutes - for my coffee before my brain starts functioning and I get you ready for school. "Flick them off!! God did I say that...?"

Suddenly there is a tooth brush closer than an inch from my eye ball, followed by a shriek" Eeeeeooowwwwwwwwwww!!!"

My fuzzy brain jump starts and the milk spills on the floor. "Toshali, what's the matter, cant you keep it down?"

"Mamma, Bond just dropped my tooth brush in the toilet!"

"Fine, great, well worse things have happened!!" I manage to say, as I mop the floor. The coffee seems to be working its magic on me at last. My dehydrated hands move from one lunch box to another as I remember the preferences, one dianosaur pack, one high school musical. And just as I zip up, Bond screams like a banshee and runs wild at me... the reason...nothing..its what he felt like doing! Running and screaming towards me like the sky had fallen down on him. As I turn around with a hand to my thumping chest, I see Toshali brooding over the turkey sandwich in her high school musical box. "You promised me some sweets this time!" Well I have a list of reasons that I can churn out to her against sweets in the tiffin.. but please dear God not this hour of the day! Why cant they remember that I was an actual person before I became a momma to them!

Then of course they hear my husband's footsteps. Like two soldiers they queue up. Bond even straigtens his hair and smiles at me. They don't suck the enegy out of him, because he doesnt feel the guilt over his behaviour with them. That's quite a thought early in the day. Yeah, I think I know what drains me most. Its not the kids running and screaming, Its my reactions to that, and the guilt I have over those reactions.. Hmmm!! The coffee is an exemplary invention!

So what is the point of this 'mommy guilt'? Why dont I accept that I am human and a single entity with one brain and just a pair of hands. Why cant I accept that I cannot do more than maybe three things at a time? I take a breath and run through the daily mental check list. Homework, folders, library books, field trip permission slip, water bottle, tiffin boxes, napkins. ALL THERE!!

Thats another day just beginning... I smile at the new found philosophy.. I dont need to be guilty for being the way I am. I am going to ponder over it some more and enjoy my coffee.

Friday, May 7, 2010

A must read...


Yesterday it was big day for my daughter at school. She was the topper in her grade 5 exams from her class and the 12th amongst 620 students who appeared for the same exam throughout the school. The annual academic merit awards were honouring them with certificates, plaques and scholarships. As the proud parents and well wishers cheered on, the chief guest who is an eminent personality in Oman gave a wonderful and humane speech.

A part of that speech was a letter written by Abe Lincoln to his old school headmaster. This was written as a parent who had put in his son to the same school, in which he was once a student. What stayed with me of yesterday evening, apart from Toshali's smile, was this letter. Sharing it with you here..


He will have to learn, I know, that all men are not just, all men are not true. But teach him also that for every scoundrel there is a hero: that far every selfish politician, there is a dedicated leader…

Teach him that for every enemy there is a friend. It will take time, I know a long time, but teach, if you can, that a dollar earned is of more value then five of found.

Teach him, to learn to lose…And also to enjoy winning. Steer him away from envy, if you can, teach him the the secret of quiet laughter.

Teach him, if you can the wonder of books…But also given quiet time wonder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun, and flowers on the green hillside.

In school teach him, it is far more honorable to fail than to cheat…

Teach him to have faith in his own idea, even if everyone tells him they are wrong…

Teach him to be gentle with gentle people and tough with tough.

Teach him to listen to all men…But teach him also to filter all he hears on a screen of truth, and take only the good one that comes through.

Teach him, if you can, how to laugh when he is sad. Teach him there is no shame in tear.

Teach him to sell his brawn and brain to the highest bidder but never to put a prize tag on his heart and soul.

Teach him gently, but do not cuddle him, because only the test of fire makes the fine steel.
Teach him always to have sublime faith in himself because only then he will have faith in mankind.

This is a big order, but see what can you do… He is such a fine little fellow, my son!



Toshali's picture is from a few months back ...
The handwritten letter is courtesy google images

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The giving tree

I am sharing a free verse written by Toshali for Earth day.




Oh, giving tree!

Why do you give us shelter

When we burn your leaves?

Why do you give us fruits

When we waste more than we eat?

Why do you give us wood

When we burn it for luxury?


If I were you, giving tree,

I would have emptied my branches of leaves

When these men came looking for shelter,

I would have become un-reachable

To hands that wasted my fruits,

I would have become as hard as a rock

To the wood cutter's axe.



Oh, kind giving tree,

You give us shelter,

You give us fruits,

You let us kill you for our luxury!


So friends remember,

If you cut one tree

Plant two more.




For the new readers, Toshali is my 10 year old daughter.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Life is what we make of it - Final part




"I walked away. Out of the door of our bedroom, out of our house. Past where little Stravos was playing with other children. I walked up to the top of the town and into a little bar. A place where only the old men sat and drank." As Isodora heard in rapt attention, Alanah continued, "I ordered raki, you know, the very rough spirit they have. I drank untill I could forget the way her round beautiful shoulder had snuggled against his chest. I drank untill I fell on the ground. They carried me home, I remember nothing of it. I woke up next day in our bed. There was no sign of Pegaso. I remembered her there in the bed and I got up to be very sick. There was no sign of little Stravos either. I went to work, but the smell of the petrol and the exhaust of the cars made me very sick again." Alanah suddenly felt tired, a wave of nausea swept over her and with that she again craved, after so many years, the wasteful taste of raki. Christina who was sketching, started humming a melodious tune and slowly Alanah composed herself again and after a short break of cold water, continued with her story.


"Magda had taken my child, my child! to her house. That night I had brandy, good Metaxa brandy to get me over the shock, and then I sort of crawled back to the petrol station, but couldn't talk to anyone, so I went home . Home! Huh! There was nobody there. Four days and nights of drinking, then I realised they had taken my child away from me. I heard like in a dream, that Magda's husband had gone away on a fishing boat to another island. And then the mind is a blank till I woke up in the hospital near the bus station."


"Come Isadora, sit near me, this is where your mother enters my story again. listen well and understand that missing year of her life, when she left her young family to be with a friend. I had given her name as 'next of kin' to the hospital authorities and they had telephoned her. She reached Lipsi the same evening." Saying this Alanah got up and hugged her friend of many years once again. Some bonds are eternal, forged without any reason, and yet they stand the test of time and blossom even in the coldest of winters. Such was the bond between Alanah and Christina.


"Pretend to be calm, pretend to be better, then they'll let you out." Christina had said to her, and that's what Alanah had done, pretended. It helped in the begining and she was let out of the hospital and sent back home. Pegaso did not speak to her, wouldnt tell her where Stravos was. Alanah could not raise her voice in fear of being locked up again in that wretched hospital, where every door closed in on her. Pegaso was living just across the road with Magda, Stravos was never to be seen, she could not go up to the bar and drink, as the whole town was watching her always. she bought a bottle here and a bottle there and drank till she passed out crying and being sick on Christina's lap. She never slept on the bed again, always on the sofa.


Every morning Christina would help her to take her bath, would wash her hair and tidy her up. She would speak of ordinary things like getting the grocery and in the same tone she would speak of going over to Magda's house and confronting Pegaso. Slowly she managed to get her message across to Alanah. And one day a tidy and relatively sober Alanah walked across the street to where Pegaso now lived. He asked her to go away, to leave him. She could stay in the house, but he had changed all the locks of the petrol pump. He said their son was living in Athens with his aunt and that she should never try and meet him as she would be a bad influence on the child. He was speaking as if to a person who had mental problems. Everybody except Christina treated her that way during those days, with quiet and patient concern mixed with a fear that she might suddenly jump on them. Pegaso said that he would sell the petrol pump and Magda and he would take little Stravos and start a new life somewhere. He would try and build a new and better life for Stravos away, he had said, from "this drunken madness".


Christina could not divert Alanah from the bottle, and she had to be put in rehab once again. "Once I knew I had lost everything, I didnt see any point in pretending." Alanah said. She had sold stuff out of the house and bought drink. She was in and out of rehab like a yo-yo. Taking advantage of her condition, Pegaso explained to everyone that she was an unfit mother. There was no court of law or social workers in the village those days. Alanah's not being sober was not helping either.


Little Stravos came back to Lipsi one day, and for a short while Alanah was allowed to see him for three hours every week. The visits were not a success though. Christina would tidy her up on these days and make her wear her best outfit. She always made Alanah carry a basket of baked goodies for Stravos. But still the visits were disastrous. She cried, you see, cried for the entire three hours over all that she had lost. She would clutch little Stravos and cry and tell him how much she loved him and needed him. She scared the boy out of his wits. Stravos started hating the meetings, he was fidgety and looked for an escape. He didnt recognise her anymore, how would he? He had never seen her like this before, and he was just a lttle boy.


These meetings continued. After the ordeal Stravos would look forward to going with Magda in the waiting car, an odd and unnecessary duty accomplished. Alanah would fill her bladder till Christina carried her back home. It was only after they left Lipsi, that Christina could start healing the bleeding wounds. There was not a fear now of them re-opening, you see. And so in the coming months as Christina worked in shops and cleaned floors to make money for them, Alanah got out of her stupour to realise the wastefulness of her actions. The tireless Christina who had just carried Isadora's picture with her to Lipsi was managing slowly to distract her friend. Old man Leros, who had a taverna on the outskirts of Lipsi gave Alanah work. And then one day a man, they all knew from the rehab, took his life. It sounds simple, but that was the day that Alanah gave up the bottle. It happened just like that. She had nothing to live for anymore, but she knew that unless she got her life in order, Christina would never return to her family.


Stravos would be almost thirty now. Every birthday Alanah wrote to him, to the last mailing address that she had, but till date there was never any reply. This had been the case with every every letter she had written in her life be it to her parents, her friends in Ireland or to her son in Greece, never a reply!! Suddenly she laughed and said, "Bless my stars !! I was not told to write to Christina from the hospital, else I would be still be locked up in the rehab!!" She didnt blame Stravos, how could she? He was a small boy, and she had been a nightmarish experience to him. How was he to know that she had mellowed down and could be courteous and polite to people? If he were ever to get in contact with her, it would be out of pity, and Alanah had never accepted that emotion from people.


"Dhen pirazi Isadora, Nothing really matters anymore." ended Alanah.

Isadora looked at these two weathered, and time worn women and smiled. She would find out where Stravos was, of course she would. The world was tinier now. But first she would go buy three tickets for a journey to Ireland. As the sun set that day there was healing for all as the painful gaps in their lives had been finally filled.