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 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?

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


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.