The Purring Pet

The purring pet – For all my loved ones

31 years ago, one sudden day suddenly many things came to an end.  Sudden transitions occurred, sudden changes that demanded reaction, sudden adjustments in the course of life.

Amidst all these sudden changes, we had a new member in the family, fluffy white, tiny ears and those very vulnerable eyes! I tried giving him many a fancy name, but we ended up calling him Godai, very fondly!

Life moved on!

The new roads of life were not lit with familiarity. They were full of twists and turns and upward climbs that hid what was ahead of us.  We couldn’t see the outcome or where we would end up on the other side.  We couldn’t see the potholes and stumbling blocks that littered the path….Yet we raced on! paced on!

And..

At the end of each day when we would all get back home, Godai would be found waiting at the door, unfailing. He would walk up to each one of us in a way that he had some request! It was not as if he needed to be fed, or taken out for a walk or anything of that sort. His need was something different!

If he found a lap handy, he would jump into it! If he didn’t find one, he was likely to stand there looking wishfully until one was made for him. Once up on the lap, he would snug himself cosy, though a pet dog, he would purr like a cat with every stroke on his back and scratch on his chin! Every now and then he would turn around with wide open vulnerable eyes of adoration & that look of ultimate trust.

After a while, little by little, he would slide off the lap& the stroll away on business! Happy, safe & content!

Looking back I will probably call – “Godai’s wonder drug – a dose of purr”

Godai lived, loved and purred with us for fourteen long years! Way beyond his dog years….maybe, just maybe because he loved his purr moments……

Taking the lens away from Godai, I zoom out the lens to the wider world – I can see that we all need that wonder drug! Our purr moments!  Much to our misunderstanding purr moments are not exclusive to infants and pets.

The need for an impulsive hug, a warm lap, a hand held out, a comforter tucked in, a simple query about the day,  a bright smile ..not because anything is wrong, not because anything needs doing, just because they are beautiful expressions of care!

Amidst so many things fast changing, so much of pace and race if I could do just one thing for my loved ones…it would be this! I would like to guarantee all my loved ones at least one good purring every day!

For all of us like Godai, need our purr time, before we walk away on our business, happy, safe & content!

 

 

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“smile without guile – Shall we?”

littlePrinceCover

A young lad! 20 years, maybe 22! He stands lean, tall & dark, a certain sharp gleam in his eyes…always around with his smile as I walk into work each morning. Mop & bucket in hand, cleaning the office floor. Each day, I wish him a good morning & he replies with his nod, a mix of “am fine & respect.” One day to my good morning, he hesitantly walked up to me and asked if he could greet me the same! And I replied “yes of course!”

“Good Morning!” That’s how my friendship with this young lad began. And somewhere I think we wait for that morning smile to start the day!

Moving ahead with my narrative…

When asked about my favourite author, I never have to look far; it is Antoine de Saint Exupery. He is a whimsical, fabulous, thought provoking fable maker!.

“The essential, most often, has no weight. The essential most times is nothing but a smile. A smile is often the essential- The Little Prince”

The author Saint Exupery, apart from being the fabulous fable maker, was a fighter pilot, who fought against the Nazis and was killed in action. Before the World War II, he fought in the Spanish Civil war. From his war experiences he wrote yet another fascinating piece “The Smile” (Le Sourire).

Well, I do not want to validate the autobiographical truth … I love it & hence want to share it!

Saint Exupery was captured & thrown into a basement cell, sure enough from the contemptuous looks & rough treatment, long term imprisonment was just a sunrise away for him. With his inability to speak in Spanish, he tried to communicate to his captors that he was journalist but of course in vain.

The story as it goes….

“Then the miracle happened. Oh! A very discreet miracle. I had no cigarette. As one of my guards was smoking, I asked him, by gesture, showing the vestige of a smile, if he would give me one. The man first stretched himself, slowly passed his hand across his brow, raised his eyes, no longer to my tie but to my face, and, to my great astonishment, he also attempted a smile as he offered me a smoke. It was like the dawning of the day.”

As a reader, I translate the smile thus. This smile did not conclude the tragedy, it removed it altogether, as light does shadow.  The miracle was just a smile, altering nothing visible. The feeble oil lamp, the moist basement cell, the colors, and the smell, everything remained unchanged. Yet everything was transformed in its very substance.

That smile brought in hope.

Nothing changed, and yet everything seemed changed.

A conversation between them stirred up about family, children, hopes & plans. On two sides of the basement cell, from hopelessness to hope, tales of regret and many more….they discussed it all. As a reader, I began to feel that an invisible stream of blood had started flowing again, connecting all things. The two men, on the two sides of the bars had not moved either, yet a minute earlier, to me they seemed like aliens, now were into contemporary life, with a feeling of presence, a sense of connection.

 

Yes! My narrative this time is about the smile.

The unaffected, unplanned, natural connection between two people…

The last few months have been difficult for me, an uphill journey.

To rehabilitate myself, I have gone through family, friends, doctors, medication, prayer chants, and tons of self-introspection. I learned that we as people construct thick layers to protect ourselves. Layers that we define as our society, our dignity, our degree, our profession, our status, our acceptance, our need to follow norms, to be accepted so much so that we forget that underneath all this remains the authentic, essential little self. Maybe I will call it “the soul”. In my journey, I learned and believe that if your essential little self and my essential little self could stop to recognize each other, the world would be a better place.

We need to learn to rise above the layers, layers that insulate us from truly contacting the other, truly touching lives!

My favourite author Saint Exumpery speaks of that magic moment when two essential little selves recognised each other even in the most hostile situation and maybe closer home when the young 22, through his smile made me recognise him.

Each one of us has a treasure of those miracle moments in our lives….let us recall them more often, let us bring out our essential little selves freely! Let us attempt to touch lives truly.

Falling in love! Looking at a baby! Why do we smile so easily? Perhaps it is because we see someone without those defensive layers….smiles without guiles!

And lo behold the soul inside us smiles too……..

 

 

 

 

 

Woh Shaam Wali Chai……..

                                                                           Woh Shaam Wali Chai!

A regular after work day at the empty nest! The wise man & his wife! We usually try not to miss the shaam wali chai together…. However late, however engaged ! The evening tea at 42A, is not a cup of tea, it is conversation….as the tea imbues a rare and delicate fragrance… the cups look bright , full of flavour and the first flush always tastes so smooth & sweet. The flavours are neatly interlaced with conversation & the evening breeze rendering the liquor an amazing balance, as we share our day. From the serious regular, to the daily mundane, to the golf swings, dinner plans, fresh blossoms in the garden and most importantly the colour of the brew!!

On one such shaam wali chai…. our discussion went on to the ever enchanting Himalayas and the plans for the next visit. And I was like…”Can I go on a solo trip?”…. the immediate response from the wise man was “yes, why not….but why? How? & the purpose?” well I had no answer to any of those very basic questions! Except that one expression, ”wander lust!” The deal was loosely struck over that cup of shaam wali chai, that I could go, only on condition that I would do the complete planning!

Several evenings passed by, our evening cups warmly went past the serious regular, to the daily mundane, to the golf swings, dinner plans, fresh blossoms in the garden and most importantly the color of the brew!!

The thought of the trip remained in my mind, the plan around the day job for those few days off routine played in my mind too! I set my diary! I booked the hotel! Got my leave approved! ….and over yet another shaam wali chai, along with golden yellow brew I shared –“I am going to Darjeeling on the 14th!”

   Woh Nokjhok Wali Chai!

As the days kept progressing, over several cups of roasted tea (this is my favourite, the roasted tea delivers a distinctly hearty, bold character) & honesty, I felt a tad nervous every now & then! Usually the vociferous variety, I avoided running the plan in my head, leave alone sharing over the shaam wali chai! Will I be able to manage? Just incase I get lonely? Incase the car breaks down during the climb…..not so happy memories of losing friends forever in uphill & downhill drives – kept visiting me! And then “Make my trip” threw up an abnormally high ticket rate! And whew! Was I glad!! I didn’t give it up, coz of cold feet, but because it doesn’t make sense to book tickets costing twenty thousand to go to Siliguri!! Happy, relieved, and also sad….. went past the day! The diary reset, work resumed… when the travel desk called back! If I choose an afternoon flight – the cost comes down by half… “Madam jaldi boliye, yeh toh apke liye perfect deal hai!” And we all know how aggressive travel agents can be! And lo behold….I am booked! The roasted cups kept pouring in….the mind on overtime with plans!

Well! I am gonna make this – a one pair of denim & five shirts & one jacket holiday! Did exactly that and filled the rest of the box with the “just in case!!” Just in case – two more pairs of trousers! Just incase an extra pair of shoes! Just incase another jacket! Just in case 4 more pairs of socks! Just incase a whole box of medicines!! The just in case part can keep me up on the mountains for a month!!!! Yes! No! Maybe! All the lanes and by lanes of a woman’s mind!!!!! Indeed the Nokjhok of the mind!

  Woh Yaadon Wali Chai!

14th morning! I tell myself “I am ready!” and an uber cool uber driver drops me at the Terminal B of the Kolkata airport! After the initial routine details, I find myself a cosy corner and this time a cup of green tea!

“The Ocean at the end of the lane” Is the book in my hand! A forty something man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was bashful seven, had met the most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hadn’t thought of Lettie in decades and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back… A pond that was believed to be an ocean!! As I cozied myself around the scarf, I wondered, if we will have memories of such oceans in our lives, the childhood memories & fantasies! Putting the book away, my thoughts drifted to my first visit to Darjeeling with my parents! I was all of 7/8…indeed little, but still have such distinct memories of walking the hill roads. Being awe struck on the toy train, as it negotiated its way through the hills & valleys! The emerald green mountains….. lined like ribbons against the snow-capped peaks & the image of my father walking with all the three siblings, his tall frame & an umbrella in hand…! Still have pictures of the family of 5 at the Ghum station! 

Years later in 1992, it was a trip to Darjeeling yet again! The just married, no money kind of trip! The wise man of my shaam wali chai was a young man! Excited to show me his Darjeeling! The stay was at the most affordable, no hot water Hotel Capitol on the Mall road. We ticked all the boxes with our limited finances! Keventers! (only for the hot chocolate!) Glens (just for a cup cake!), the mountaineering institute, monastery, happy valley tea gardens……mall road & more!

My cup needs a refill ……and my flight seems to be delayed! As I get a refill, I smile and recall of the changing times- 2006, it was Darjeeling yet again! Now with the full family! The wise man, his wife & their two boys! More money in the wallet & more memories of Darjeeling! Guess one needs just a single visit to fall in love with this city on the foothills of the Himalayas & the ever mysterious Kanchendzonga!

Between2006 to 2017, there has been another addition to the family! Tanmoy has joined the family, to make it larger & warmer! My fourth boy! This young man is in love with the mountains & in many of our chats, this mountain goat has shared his version of the foothill city!

And today on the 14th of April I am ready to look through the kaleidoscope – of years, versions & memories into Darjeeling, into the snow-capped Kanchendzonga!

It’s time for my flight….I pull up back pack & put down my yaadon wali chai…..will I find “ my childhood ocean?”

Woh Baarish Wali Chai!

A safe flight! A safe landing! And a comfortable uphill drive later I wake up to one dozen anticipation….. Where is my ocean? Will I miss home? Or will I flow with the tide of green everywhere, mountains with cloud hats, tea gardens carpeting the rolling hills, waterfalls as embellishments, blue sky, cool breeze, hot green tea… mountains hiding behind the mist, invisible valleys, relent less rain, worn out roads…..

I hit the tea kettle in the room, in a jiff my cup of tea was ready! With the cup of tea …I pulled open the curtain that kept the sunlight away from my deck room! Well typical of the hill weather… who subah wali chai….was converted into the baarish wali chai! The sky was grey…the mountains lost in the mist… the wet roads & the steady flow of colourful umbrellas! I sat by the window, sipping my chai, I looked at my watch & did a quick run of the home schedule! All must be well!! Looking at the rain, I gave a quick pat on my back on my just in case packing!

My stop one in the drizzle is at the Keventers, for the hot chocolate! The place seemed frozen in time! I got my cuppa & walked to the terrace…the drizzle didn’t bother me….. The cool breeze seemed to take away all my apprehensions of lone travel!

With the temptation to sit around on the benches on the periphery, I ambled to the mall road…..the curio shops, book stores are all there! Oh! What a beautiful relief it is to find them!

A hot cuppa tea…will surely do a lot of good in the drizzle! I quaint terrace top tea boutique called the hermitage welcomed me! “A pot of orange pekoe please”. The mountains have a magnetic pull, to reach out to its inner mysteries & beauty! As I stared at the magnificence, I realized that listening is the most significant cornerstone of life lessons! We should listen to understand & not just to respond…..for understanding brings compassion! We must also learn to listen to what is not being said! For silence is powerful!

The drizzle is now rain! I take out my very favourite “Macao green rain coat! Slip it on & start my walk back!

My barish wali chai would remain incomplete without the green rain coat!

Woh Dosti Wali Chai!

The lazy walk to the brisk to the final run into the hotel lobby! “Mam, in Darjeeling you should always carry an umbrella!” said the young Tibetan guy at the reception. I had a glee recalling “my just in case.” Back in the room, I got off the green rain coat. The rain coat was a gift in preparation of my first trek to Ravangla, exactly at the same time last year! The gift was from the fourth home boy! Brewing my chai, and looking at the green jacket. I realize that friendship has no age, no religion, and no time! We so easily make friends with people, who make us laugh, find it easier to talk to people who don’t take themselves too seriously & understand the secret ingredient for happiness is humour! I have two such friends! The fourth home boy & the pretty girl chasing her dream in Delhi! To find such friends or have one such friend can make for such a perfect dosti wali chai!

                                   

Woh Anmol Ek Chai

Day 2 starts on a bright note! My morning cup is indeed anmol – as I draw the curtain, the magnificent Kanchendzonga in all its magnificence stood tall! No mist, no cloud…! 20 mins later I am in the car off to the Japanese peace pagoda. A signage asked me to take a Parikrama around the pagoda at the pinnacle. Beautiful artwork etched on sand stones depicting the life of Buddha and his relics, the four avatars of Buddha ( sitting, sleeping, standing and meditating) adorn the walls. The pagoda is a perfect amalgamation of serenity & spirituality! The prayer gongs resonated in the entire area! It is with a magnetic pull that I walked into the prayer room & it is the same magnetic pull that made me sit there for a long while, trying to play the drumming pad & chant along “Namu Myoho Renge Kyo” meaning “ “I honour the Universal Mystical Law of Cause and Effect.” The slow note of the chant calmed not only the breathing, but the mind & emotions. This is probably why meditation is so powerful. The influence of meditative calmness on the mind and body & its positive effects……This experience I shall carry long!

As I hop back into the car, my driver informs that the next destination is a small hike up the mountains! Excited, I tighten my shoe lace to reach this beautiful place called “Lamahata”. During the drive I am told Lamahata means” in the lap of the clouds.” With a name so beautiful, my eagerness knew no bounds! Lamahata welcomed me with rows of prayer flags fluttering ….the prayer flags as I believe are blown by the wind to spread the good will and compassion into all-pervading space. “Om Mani Padme Hum” on the flags! This chant is a beautiful combination of values like compassion, ethics, patience, diligence, renunciation and wisdom. A hop skip hike to the hill top & the site left me awe struck! Surrounded by pine trees rests a lake crisscrossed with prayer flags. No tourists, no crowd…just the deep embrace of nature! Looking through the pine forest, it appeared as if every two pine is a doorway to a secret world! Whispering pines, scattering leaves, wild flowers & the slight chill…….the rays of the sun through the pine & the entire sky as it reflected in the lake!                                                                      “Namu Myoho Renge Kyo”! ……………………….

 

An hour and half later when I reach my car, my driver offers me a cuppa before we drive back! On a tourist board I learn that Lamahata is as practical as “lama”-monk & “hata”- hut, making it monk’s hermitage! I look up that the hill & give Lamahata a new meaning – “forever beautiful”

    Woh Pyaar Bhari Chai!

 Back to the mall road, the sun sets on my last evening in Darjeeling…… I head to Nathmuls, for all the variety of chai! After all, the evening conversations, which are on hold, need to roll back! Shopping for tea, can be as interesting as choosing an evening dress! The choice begins with Flushes of tea! The first flush, the in between flushes, second flush, monsoon flush, winter flush….. to the flavours such as smooth, strong, roasted, fruity, to the colours of the brew…. White, green, oolong, black, orange…… I choose with a lot of care & love for all the special evenings in 42A.

Chai with some Glennary snacks would be the perfect combination…. So cheese sticks & ginger short breads are packed too! Some curios for the small corners at home & some selfies later, I walked back into the hotel! Some memories captured through the lens & some visions treasured in the mind! Aaj ki sham, although solo… I call it pyaar bhari chai!

Sipping my chai & looking at my just in case box – I know the answer to the why- the solo trip! It is important to know if one can be happy all by one self, find things to do & learn from the greatest teacher – nature……

My confession – I fall in love too often! With places, with people, with the little nothings & I am always broken hearted by goodbyes! I strongly do not believe in “non-attachment”… is there passion inside non attachment? Well no! I believe that we always leave tiny piece of us in the places we visit! And take a piece of the place in our heart……

I pack my box & am ready to leave……

  Ek Aakhri Chai!

Driving down the hills… the morning next, I feel my lungs inflate with the onrush of nature’s bounty –the sunshine, the breeze, the mountains, the trees, the beautiful people!

                                                                                     I think

                                                          “This is what it is to be happy!”

Tossed in Cheese!

             
 
Tossed in Cheese!

( yet again my football loving boys Anurag, Anirudh &Tanmoy)

Friday evening! With the boys in the car! We are out for a dinner. The conversation is without an agenda, travelling from the activities of the day, to the suggestions from Zomato on the restaurant to choose, and of course the standard boy talk about bikes, cars, football and computers!!! Sometimes I am left wondering, in humour, that boys have such little variety to talk!!! (Maybe! Maybe not!) . This observation is not completely baseless…coz whenever I have walked in, even in the middle of a conversation, I seem to have heard only this!

As the car rolled, the chosen restaurant for the evening is decided “The Corner Courtyard.” Zomato has awarded the restaurant 4.5 stars. The restaurant serves Continental & Mediterranean dishes.

So it’s “The Corner Courtyard!”

We were extended a warm welcome by the Manager, who led us  to a cosy corner in the corner courtyard!

So the corner is where my story begins….it’s the cosy corner in the corner courtyard, mom & her boys! I have with me – me at 46 and the three boys at 27, 20 and 16.

The restaurant is a niche little place, looked like an old house tastefully redone, keeping the essence of the old charm in place. The restaurant has mirrors of different shapes & sizes hung all around… when I entered, it was probably just a part of the aesthetic décor…but it had a different story to tell when I left the courtyard!

A rather polite steward placed the 12 page menu card before us & needless to say, at least, I was overwhelmed by the food jargons!! The boys were embarrassed each time I expressed ignorance of a certain cheese or a sauce! The steward was unmoved! He probably meets guests like me every other day! (Honestly speaking – a regular hungry man, out for some good food at the end of the day…will he really care to understand Hollandaise sauce!!! Arugula leaves!! or Bruschetta…) after much deliberation, we come to a conclusion on the first lap of the order! (By the way, I was caught & stopped before I opened my mouth asking for “make the soup 1×2 please!! – “20” knows his mom too well!!)

So the order – Soup: 2 portions of Chef’s special crème spinach, sundried tomatoes & bacon veloute soup.

Small plates or Appetizers: 2 portions of Chicken wings.

2 portions of mushroom poppers with wasabi & basil pesto

The first lap done! As we waited for the food to arrive, “20” informed that the coming weekend, he along with his friends was planning a road trip on their motorbikes! And the ease with which he shared his plan, it seemed it was a completely chalked out plan! He spoke with easy enthusiasm & I heard with an anxious heart. Multiple calculations / combinations started crowding my head! Motorbike/ highway / monsoon – didn’t seem like a good combination at all! So much so that I almost disconnected myself from his plan & found myself formulating plans on how to dissuade him from the road trip!

The soup arrived & so did the small plates! All the four of us jumped into the gourmet journey! Do not know what bacon veloute means, but the soup was thick, hot & nourishing with the extra dash of bacon! The mushroom poppers left us wanting for more. The wasabi is a perfect flavour for the monsoon anyways!

So the discussion comfortably shifted from the road trip to the present gastronomic trip! Now for the main course, the odyssey seemed even more interesting & intriguing. Once again I was corrected by my “chef son @ 20– that it’s not the main course as we commonly refer– but the “Entrée.” So Entrée it is!

“16” demands that he wishes to try mussels.

Entrée – 1 portion mussels & shrimp tossed in white wine & pimento crème sauce –served with pilaf & butter broccoli!!!!

“27”& “20” – seemed more under control with their orders. Hand rolled oven fresh pizzas! Pizza lover’s Margherita & Pepperoni.

“46″– is still worried about the road trip!!

While we waited for the “Entrée” to arrive, the boys went back to the thrills of road trips & especially when one has a 500cc Royal Enfield thumping!

Ah! I couldn’t hold myself any further! I asked “20” – about the plan! Prompt came the reply from the “16” – “Mom! he is not asking for your permission! He is informing you…….” Oh! Haven’t I heard this line earlier too….the rebel stage!

Two stages of Mom hood! Stage 1 ( age 10 – 15) where the boys seek for permission! One sudden evening, you find them as the perfect kids. Homework done, study tables clean! No tantrum over food – only to discover in the later part of the evening that it is actually winning the heart to get the required permission for a movie with friends or a dinner at the club.

Stage 2 (age 16 onwards- maybe 20!), here the boys think they have crossed the permission seeking age and in comes the “informing you stage.” Hence the “ 16” reaction.

I am quite – for my mind is still working combinations of the powerful engine, the highway, the monsoon & the age!

The food comes! And what a delight it is! The presentation! The tiny stem of fresh basil placed so tactfully on the bright yellow pilaf! The creamy pink of the shrimps work as a contrast to the pearly mussels! The pepperonis looked roasted to the right rich red & the olives delicate & juicy. We dig into the food…and but of course the conversation once again shifts from the road trip to the crust of the pizza and types of cheese! (Buffalo mozzarella, goat cheese, parmesan, cheddar!!)

”16” seemed to enjoy his discovery phase with mussels! Like a mom that I am, I made neat triangles of the pizza, placing them on the plates, no sooner did I find the plate empty! Indeed an evening of gourmet delight!

As the plates had only the crusts left, “20” the foodie in the group, made a quick choice of the dessert! It was a large portion of a Kiwi Lime Pie.

Now I go back to the road trip….

“So son when are you going on this road trip?” 

“Mom, we have planned it & it is not as if I am just informing you about it .I want to talk to you about it , share our plan in details with you, make you believe that I am responsible & being safe at all times is most important to me! I want you to listen to me, have trust in me & be comforted that I shall be safe mom.”

“27” comforted me with a twinkle and that reassuring smile!

Oh! A dessert has never tasted as sweet as it did now! The kiwi lime pie – looked fresh, the subtle taste of kiwi blended beautifully with the lime and the cream…. The lime zest gave the slight bitter… as we dug into it with 4 spoons…I felt happy! A happy meal! A happy mom!

Felt like I have completed a circuit in Mom hood! Asking for permission / being informed & now trust & comfort!

As we rose to leave the cosy corner – I saw our reflections on the multiple mirrors on the wall……A few greys I could see! And I also saw three strapping young men! I looked at my palm with a smile… there was a time when their hands used to fit into mine completely. Sometimes their grip would signal that they needed to borrow some of my confidence! 

Today! They stand taller than me….each made of their mettle!

My joys!

My happiness!

My tears!

My story!

My gifts of life!

 

 

 

Off the goal post!

   

 

                

      Off the goal post!

       (The football loving boys Anirudh , Anurag & Tanmoy)

It’s SOS!

Last night when I wished the boys good night they were watching football & this morning, I was woken up to football!

Just realized that being the only oestrogen at home… can come with its disadvantages too!

I have three boys who are madly in love with football & a husband (who thankfully doesn’t take it to the other extreme) I’ve always prided myself that I am a good “boy mom.” This, in the stereotypical sense, means I can handle the PS4 / binge watching Game of Thrones / loud laughter / dirty jerseys thrown around/ wet towels on the bed / unkept rooms / and forever empty snack tins !!

But this illusion has come crashing down …. And hence the scream for the SOS!

At home –

What is discussed? Football!

What is watched on TV? Football!

What is played on PS4? Football!

What is the most favourite birthday gift? Football jersey! What’s the gift the elder brother brings for his younger bro – Football!!!!

Where can I find the youngest when he goes missing? Football field

We can miss family meals over football! 

We don’t care about impending examinations or deadlines when it comes to football!

It amazes me, when I see the focus of these boys, when they are either watching or playing it on the PS!

The youngest takes it a different level – he plays for the school team & calls football his meditation!

 

And here’s a mom, who has no clue of the game! (The last vacation that I took, I was asked to shop for 12 jerseys! Homes & aways….!)

 

Oh! I try to be a part of it …. Try to impress! Attentively hear from one about a certain game or a certain footballer ….rattle it to the other in the hope to impress, but all falls in vain! And my curiosity boils back to – doesn’t Messi look so cute or isn’t Ronaldo rather good looking!! (And yes…..Messi & his contribution to UNICEF is something, I have taken interest to read!) If I try to recall names maybe I wouldn’t proceed beyond Messi / Ronaldo / Rooney/ Neymar/ Mullar/ Ronaldihno…..

I must also confess that the mood at any given stadium during a game of soccer is quite hypnotic in itself! That’s the be all & end all of my football knowledge!

And hence, I can no longer kid myself that I am doing a good job being a “boy mom.” Maybe I’m the type of mom who would be thrilled if my boys hated football and loved if they played tennis or golf! I really couldn’t care less about the 90 minute energy! To me, it’s an aggressive sport which ends up in dirty clothes!

 

But its SOS now….

What I really need to do is bend a little and fully embrace the testosterone coursing through my home……

I want to be a part of the passionate conversation! The excitement of wearing the team jersey and watching a game being played in a different country, in different time zones and followed with such mad passion! The boys seem to communicate in a language I barely comprehend. The endless football topics that interest them deeply …..

I need to educate myself on the game , need to know what such terms as these mean…Bending a ball , body swerve , close control , chest control, dribbling, side volley, glancing header & so on……..

And as I have started my journey on football….I find myself getting more & more intrigued by the complexity of the game, the competition , the money around it & why the world goes round over football!

To begin with, Messi is a lot more than just a cute face….there is some game strategy in the colour of the football boots…and the show case game this winter is the Champion League! And as I stare at the fixtures, I know that I shall have to leave the understanding largely to – as we call in our corporate language “on the job training!!” in this case understanding!!

And as I sign out – Manchester plays Chelsea tonight & am not gonna feel left out!

 

 

Distractingly Sexy

                  

                      Distractingly Sexy!

Whatsapp it is yet again, another trigger….another thought! A friend send me this image during one of those hectic days at work, and I promptly replied to him “Oh so thoughtful!” I further passed it onto my other friends & friend groups and all of us alike felt it was “hey good” “super like” “true” “nice”…… so on!

The image as it goes is (Fe) male – iron added for greater strength, ductility & magnetism!

Well these days the word sexy is used with much generosity, often to describe physical attributes! just physical attributes? Of course I differ! Taking a cue from the image, I choose to re define sexy. I call ourselves, us women “distractingly sexy!” Hey no, we aren’t sexy, because we look & behave like super models or aspire to be supermodels, we are sexy because we are who we are! educated, clearly capable, ever curious, adventurous, fun loving , ambitious , easy to tears, house proud & fiercely protective about all people we love, we are women in charge of ourselves with a continuous thirst to discover amazing things.

Four years back, one fine morning a pretty young lady walked into my office, she was to be my successor as I would move to a new role! Colleagues at the work place went abuzz, that “oh she looks sexy!” Well pretty she is… in every way of how she carried herself, her soft demure, unsure yet polite gesture, her immaculate dressing. We struck the magic chord from the very onset! While most times I found myself doing the official hand hold &hand over, we did find time for coffee breaks! We shared about our homes, families & passion outside work! Soon, I shifted to my new role & my new colleague took over her new job! And then one fine day, what seemed to be a regular day at work, I was invited to coffee after work! We sat across with coffee and cookies, but soon it was more conversation and less coffee! She opened her mind and shared her troubles of her recent past, trials, tribulation & that she was in the midst of setting things correct. Difficult emotional moments of life, which were put across with a lot of controlled pragmatism & a lot of hope for the future! She added that,since we work in the same organization, it’s important that she shares her life incidents,before any grapevine! Her honesty & her gut!Now that’s what I call sexy! The acceptance of the wrong, the strength to fight for the right & the strong belief in the heart that it will all be fine & most importantly not losing trust in people, love & friendship! Yes! She is distractingly sexy! educated, clearly capable, forthright , ever curious, adventurous, fun loving , ambitious , easy to tears, house proud & fiercely protective about people sheloves…..

Today, we are best friends! She is just a call away, when I get stuck with a draft of a letter or bigger issues like career plan! I am just a phone call away, when she is stuck with the draft of a letter to bigger issues like the way forward in life! And then of course we have our moments of “laughs, till the eyes water &the tummies hurt” and pedicures, shopping sprees, music & dance! We love us! We love our madness! We call ourselves “the un possible!”

Closer home, another friend, she lost her father at a young age. With this sudden life incident, suddenly her life fell apart! Overnight the family had to shift to a different city, where things changed drastically! She had just joined the under grad college and was looking forward to a city life of fun and friends, but all of 19, she found herself taking up a large responsibility of the house! Difficulties & hurdles kept coming like high tide in their lives! Much to the shock of the family, they discovered that the youngest & the brightest son was under the influence of wrong habits & wrong people! Clueless! She did not know what to prioritize! How to prioritize! All that was distinctly visible to her was her mother’s long tresses turning silver grey with each passing day! At the end of each day…..each member of the family would be in one corner of the bricks & mortar apartment trying to solve this life puzzle! It took them three trying years to get back to life & living!

She would meet me once in a while then…. And today after 25 odd years, when I meet her, she is a positive, vibrant lady….with lotlearning from the past! Lesson and learning that has made her a better person. 

Rewind button – Years back in that brick & mortar apartment & tram rides & walks…where ever we met she would hold my hand and put every trouble in words and wash it down with her tears! And walk back with renewed energy to take on the hurdles! Didn’t realize then, coz I was also just 19, today I know what a virtue it is to be able to cry easily! She always was & is a woman who has been in touch with her full range of feelings. I challenge the notion that crying is a bad thing. In fact, I think it is unhealthy to be so emotionally shut down that you think crying is a sign of weakness, something to find fault with, something you would never do because you are so “tough.” Real strength comes from recognizing all of our feelings and not stuffing them down only to come out in inappropriate ways!

Two friends two stories ….Two lives that positively touch many more today with their infectious zest! As I sign out of my blog…I sign out with “Hey ladies! Let us continue to be educated, clearly capable, ever curious, adventurous, fun loving , ambitious , easy to tears, house proud & fiercely protective about all people we love, with a continuous thirst to discover amazing things…. Let us continue to be distractingly sexy!

Perfectly Imperfect!

   Perfectly Imperfect!Tuesday morning, 6.30 AM, groggy eyed I drag myself from the bed to the couch in the living room. I need to wake my son, but prior to that I need to wake myself!

And my phone sends me a notification alert, and there resides in it the first feel good whatsapp message of the day. The message – “I am a mother! The officer at the driving school asked a lady, “What is your occupation?” The woman seeking renewal of her license seemed puzzled. So the officer said “Mam are you employed?” The woman replied “Oh! Yes! I have a full time job, I am a mother!” ….. And the message on the greatness & goodness of a mother went on for a mile! Insightful mother! Fabulous mother! Graceful mother! Selfless mother! Pass it to all mothers…..”

Honestly, I think I am a little weary of this hype on the “glorious mother!” How about some messages on the perfectly imperfect mother! Well that’s what I am! Just now lounging on the couch, still in my pajamas, I need those extra ten minutes of sleep just as much as my son needs! Or maybe will be happier than my son, if a sudden holiday is announced! I want to jump back to bed as soon as he leaves for school & try another quick nap!

There are days, I want to cheat on the snack box,pack the ready to eat cheese and bread & sometimes pass him a 20 buck to have a treat at the schoolcanteen! Perfectly imperfect…!

It was last week , when my 15 year old , couldn’t find his compass & ruler box ….I was just back from my days job…I had a choice , to start looking for it in the pile of his books or to simply ask the driver to go to the neighbouring store to fetch a new set! I opted for the easier! Lo behold, no sooner did the new one arrive, than the old one miraculously appeared from under the books! And I found myself perfectly imperfect once again!

The two boys are so sure that every time Dad is on a tour….it’s a field day at home! With food being called from the clubs to the fast food centres! And with the newspaper spread on the bed, there we go … chopping on the pizzas; sipping the colas with extra ice and watching TV shows! Oh! What a party it turns out to be! The boys are in their most chatty mood…..sharing their stories by the dozen and me so happy! All house rules broken! Junk food and junk food on bed !! Once again, being perfectly imperfect!

I have the best husband on the planet. My friends envy all he does for me. He does the grocery (he claims that I can’t manage my larder well enough and he’s got a point), he does the Sunday shopping , checks the bills, sometimes covers getting the younger one ready and to school in the morning, and truthfully though, I take over the sporty boy in the evening . After work I tend to have at least a couple of events per week so he covers those days for me. But we both work full time so you know the drill: we are stretched to the maximum!

And then when these “glorious mom “messages keep pouring in …morning evening night! I think I come under the pressure to be this super mom! Up by 6.00AM do the tight rope ballet till 10.30PM! Huh!  

I need to be a super mom! I need a solution! A solution that ideally can include the pyjamas & the couch, the extra sleep & the cheat days at the kitchen! As a writer and a dreamer my greatest weapon is my emotional sensitivity; for it enables meto dream, to imagine, to empathize and to feel! So I found an easier solution! Fantasy land it is!

Occasionally I escape to my fantasy life, and in it I have created a vision of a perfect Mom! Selfless Mom! Graceful Mom!! . 

This fantastic mom does all of the work on time so that her husband, children have more time together. She makes all the birthday parties and dinner parties photo worthy. She understands the common core curriculum (someone in the house should) and is always ready and informed with all homework and tutors. Ready with the extra help needed in making all A’s at school. She gets the boy to all of his after school practices and they always have enough cold water, sunscreen, and the correct athletic equipment! She never sends him to practice without having fed him a well-balanced meal. She is ready in her apron & kitchen mittens to cook up delicious dinners every night so that the family can enjoy meals at the dining room table and discuss the day. She is funny, witty, patient, best informed and the best friend to have! Hey! Now she is so much more than a best friend. She’s like a mom, a sister, a grandmother, a childhood girlfriend all rolled into one being… She is the best mom /wife ever.

Zapping out!!!! 

My eyes fall on the cushion covers that need a change, the cheese tin that needs to be replaced and the study table that looks like a war zone and I hear my boys fighting in the other room, and the door slams shut as my husband walks back in with the groceries that I will now have to put away (thank you again for shopping, darling) I smile wishfully and embrace the craziness and chaos around me! Thank God for those moments of being perfectly imperfect!

A dot called hope!

A Dot called hope!

A sudden call at 5 am in the morning was to inform that “ Pishe moshai” breathed his last at 4am the same morning. After a moment of silence, the first question I asked Ma was on how “Pishi” is doing! Yes! It is surely not a question to ask, when one losses a member in the family and here it was losing her own life partner.

Pisho, as we lovingly called him lived in Narendrapur with Pishi and their only son Abhijeet & his family!  A well established and educated family with a strong lineage of zamindari running in the blood! The extended family has always been proud of the land they owned, the heirloom and the humility to match. Staying all their life in semi urban Narendrapur (West Bengal), the influence of the village and  village life became a way of life for Pishi & Pisho.

Pishi and her daughter in law are teachers at a local school, Pisho & their only son Abhijeet advocates at the Kolkata High court and the two grand – children, students of a well- known School in the heart of the city! When we visited them at their home, I often found them orthodox in their thinking and maybe a lot more God fearing than any of us . Often I felt that despite their education and accomplishments they were much bound by the village traditions. I have always seen Pisho’s mother, in white sarees, her life devoted to an austere pursuit of religion. Her food habits different from the rest of the family, not for reasons of age and health, but more on the fact that she must lead an austere life. Such is the set up and the family seemed comfortable in this acceptance.  Pisho, the owner of a lot of land, was the uncrowned zamindar of the village! Villagers flocked around the house for advice. They expressed their gratitude through gifts like fresh vegetables and fresh water fish!

No one ever seemed to have a grievance to this life! No regret at missing the city lights! Movies, restaurants, shopping are once in a blue moon affair, to be completed before the setting sun. For the daughter in law of the village must be home before it “gets too dark!” I would be surprised! Maybe I have even tried to provoke Shukla (the young daughter in law) into thinking, if she missed dressing like I did! Meeting her friends over a cuppa! Going out for a late night movie or theatre or simply sitting back and doing nothing that’s call responsibility!

When Pisho fell ill, he was of course taken to the best hospital, provided with the best treatment till he got home. The next four months Pishi remained locked at home, shuttling between the bedroom, restroom and kitchen, in care of Pisho! He had developed the early stages of alzimers! He needed child- like attention. Life in that huge village home revolved around efforts to get him better!

It was on the 12th day of October at 4 am that he breathed his last!

And here I am asking “how is Pishi? How would she be!

On the 14th day, we reached Kolkata and then to the Narendrapur home, to attend the prayer service. The Hindu religion demands a detailed service. I walked in, nervous, tongue tied, as to what my first expression would be on seeing Pishi and the rest of the family! But I was taken aback! Found Pishi waiting at the gate, immaculately dressed in a crisp cotton sari; a small bindi adorned her forehead, a pair of gold bangles sat easy on her wrist and a slight smile welcoming us in.  Her first reaction was expressing thankfulness that we have taken time out to be there for the prayers. She asked if we had breakfast and took us around her other family members expressing the same thankfulness! I was speechless! Having lost my father at age 17, and seeing my mom turn black to grey in six months, I knew exactly what it is to lose a life partner! The rest of the afternoon, I watched her in awe…….as she sat down for the prayers, listened to the Bhagwad  Gita being chanted and walk around with a slight smile on her face, but yes prompt in wiping off the pearl that rolled off her eye, often hugged her grandchildren and then letting them go!

What is so extra ordinary about this story? Why doesn’t Pishi look devastated? why isn’t she relentless in grief?  Is she a rebel in the village? Is she relieved that Pisho is finally away from all pain? Was she getting fed up of the bedroom, rest room, kitchen story? How can she be so immaculate at the bereavement of her life partner? Where are the village traditions?

Maybe some among us would have ended judging her as shallow, if they did not know the patience with which the family took each day! How devastated she may have been at losing him. But maybe this external immaculate look is her own way of getting through these difficult and trying days! Maybe this is her mask to keep the family strong! Maybe that little bindi that adorns her forehead, makes her face a shade bright and amidst all she is able to bring that slight smile!

It was 5pm; I left for home, learning a big lesson of life! A crisp sari, a tiny bindi, a pair of cold bangles, a string of pearls are all trivial material things that should not matter, coz they have nothing to do with our inner self, but then we can’t forget that our physical form is strongly connected to our identity! It is how we interact with the world around us!

When Pishi put that bindi on her forehead, and did not choose to keep her hands bare, she told the world that she still has so much hope! Sometimes hope is the only thing in our bags!

A hope that every tomorrow shall hurt a little less than yesterday!

Yeh jo hai zindagi……..this life as it is!

                                                                 

Every ‘curry’ that The Lunchbox rustles up is an ambrosial of magic, of a transformative kind. Cinematic yes! Culinary yes! And as a viewer in me,yes!

The Lunchbox is a troika of splendid performances by Irfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur and Nawazuddin Siddiqui. A strikingly original, idiosyncratic and charming love story, The Lunchbox dismantles the established structures of the genre in ways that are at once startling!

What we see on the screen is bewitching; what we don’t is no less so. Even the absent or rarely seen characters cast their own spells and make the three what they are. Yes, they all come alive, the comatose Mr Deshpande who spends all his waking hours staring at the ceiling fan in the apartment. Saajan’s unnamed wife who would record, Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi episodes for repeated viewings; Sheikh’s non-existent ammi who strays into his cheerful conversations; and of course, the worldly wise, ever helpful Deshpande auntie. 

This poignant love story revolves around Ila, egged on by an elderly neighbor who we only hear but never see, seeks to use her culinary skills to wrest the attention of her distracted husband. But one afternoon, the lunchbox she prepares reaches the wrong man. The recipient is a weary government employee, Saajan Fernandes, a widower on the verge of superannuation, a man who appears to have been shortchanged by fate. Realizing, that her lunchbox has gone amiss, Ila sends Saajan a note the next day, thanking him for doing justice to her dishes. The latter sends a reply dripping with  Saajan’s characteristic coldness. But soon enough, the notes become longer, more intimate and unabashedly revelatory of their inner selves. As the film progresses, the viewer realizes that the Lunch Box is  a compelling study of despair and loneliness on the one hand and unrequited love and unrealized dreams on the other.. At its heart are emotionally fettered individuals who grapple with their ingrained fears and doubts even as they seek solace in the little joys of life that could set them free. 

The Lunch Box is a film of multiple pleasures — small ones and overwhelming ones and exquisitely crafted ones ….

A film that I shall not forget in quite a while, cause away from the love story , and the exquisite  detailing, what set me thinking is something different  and maybe some of you who will read my blog may agree or might not.

While Ila is strong lady with stronger shoulders, much under the juggle of home and family and Saajaan, a clock-obeying government employee who treasures silence.Both are individuals in their own respect and also just a part of the big human cog that seems to be fighting to make a life and living each day with the tick of the clock, not having a moment to stand and stare. It is at this point that a lunch box turns around their lives. There is beautiful bemusement to most of their actions, as if they, initially can’t believe the world they have made for themselves, and later can’t believe the world the letters are tugging them toward. 

Like Ila and Saajan, there are millions of us who are motoring along each day on moments, mishaps, miracles and magic! At the end of the day, it is the physical fatigue that puts most of us to sleep to wake up to yet another day like Ila & Saajan! But amidst this clock work, there comes these magic turns in our lives, when we suddenly find friendship and joy in a colleague, a neighbour, an acquaintance, a long lost class fellow, a relative, a co-traveler. When friendship develops, with a strike…when we feel this new found friendship to be honest and true.  The friendship begins with the kind of comfortable candour, candour that exists because the two are not aware of the individual lives and situations, and thus speak their minds freely! Like The Lunch box, such friendships gracefully unknot the trials, tribulations, fears and hopes of everyday people, like you & me.

Each of us in our span of life , have many a defined relation, which are fulfilling in every aspect, they give us love , security, family , home, warmth , so it is difficult to justify why sometimes these “magic turns” become so special , so important.  Such relations often change the way we interact with the world. Like Saajan, we sometimes blossom as human beings, like Illa, we want to explore the world around us. There is one particular note that  Saajan writes to Ila, where Saajan shares that one must keep recalling memories to keep them fresh in the mind and to keep the heart young….the following frame shows Illa helping her 6 year old daughter, get the doll dressed and narrates a doll’s wedding from her childhood!

Most of us like the protagonists are creatures of habit in our day to day life. Probably the security of home, family and love is so amazingly ingrained in us, that we often forget to enjoy the little things of life, always trying to look at the larger picture, a more secure future.  And the same “we” find ourselves recalling childhood memories, and the little nothings, nitty gritty of the past and future, in these magic friendships, out of the blue friendships!

While in the film , the director hints at austere life of Saajan, a widower  and Illa, whose life could be sans the warmth… and the film essentially qualifies as a beautifully crafted love story. But, my take is on the energy and positivity that friendship brings to their lives!  The alchemy, that friendship adds to our lives.  Maybe, we find it difficult to define such relations. I call it a delightful indefinable state, a feeling at ease with your companion. Believe me, wise are we, who fortify our life with such friendships, love and respect.

  I am neither a movie buff or a critic and the little that I watch, I find myself relating it to life around me, maybe far from the director’s intention. Thus is my take on this film.

“The Lunchbox is delicious and delightful! The delectable taste of this lunchbox and the trigger of thoughts, the celebration of friends and friendship …shall remain for a long long time….