Street play at sundown


High up in the sky, the moon is a sliver of silver on a late evening sky that is still blue. The moon seems to be gliding peacefully far above, totally oblivious to the goings-on below.

Down here, there is a sense of desperation, as people try to make the most of the last few hours of the weekend before the work week starts.

The market street looks chaotic. People, street hawkers and vehicles jostle for space, as they strive to reach their goals for the week.

Splashes of colour in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables, sarees on display and vibrant colour baskets dot the crowded street.

Everybody seems to be in a hurry, there is a sense of urgency to people’s actions, to the last calls of the street hawkers attempting to close sales for the week. Then again, there are those who stop at local street food stalls to partake of chaats, pizza and other Indian snacks.

There is a sensory overload – a blurring motion picture of rainbow colours, the loud hum of human chatter, the aroma of street food, the weaving and the jostling…..!

Amidst all this chaos are the balloon sellers, who walk up and down the street carrying ballons, toy ferris wheels that spin merrily in the evening breeze and other toys that entice children, whose eyes trail the balloons even as their bodies have gone on ahead with their parents, who hold them in vice-like grips, lest they get lost in the teeming crowd!

We have to pause frequently as we walk down, simply because there is no way to move.

That’s when we stop to enjoy this evening street play!

Advertisements
Posted in Everyday moments | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Trapped!


The roads are jammed, and most drivers have switched off their engines. I stare absently at the scene outside. An old lady is standing under a bus shelter. As I watch, she pulls out something from the waistband of her saree. It is a small cloth bag of the drawstring variety. She rummages inside and pulls out a few betel leaves and pieces of broken areca nut. She patiently tears the leaves and folds them, places the areca nut in the center, and puts it into her mouth. Her eyes have a faraway look, as her hands tighten the drawstring pouch and tuck it back into her waistband. She chews the leaves, and is deep in thought.

I watch in fascination.

A young girl soon joins the old lady. She is in her teens. As I watch, she stretches her arm into her bag, and pulls out her smartphone. She is soon completely absorbed in her own world!

I laugh at this contrast.

The old lady has stopped pondering. She looks around now, and looks at the young lady, who is completely oblivious to the goings-on around her; her neck bent at an awkward angle.

This makes me think. When did we become this way? When did we stop looking out at the world? When did we trap the world into a smartscreen and start looking for all solutions in that small screen. Instead of looking out and going out into the world, we have brought the world into our palms, to the point where we don’t need anyone or anything else to keep us occupied.

Image courtesy – http://www.dreamstime.com

As I watch, the old lady chews her leaves and watches the world curiously. Her eyes fall on me. She smiles – a toothless smile, her mouth stained by the red of the betel leaves.

I smile back. There is still hope!

Posted in Everyday moments | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

‘Tis more about the popcorn


The school holidays have begun. Time expands itself to fit our mood of purposelessness and lassitude. We laugh in glee at the clock, for we are the masters now!

We decide to go watch a movie at the neighbourhood multiplex. And when we enter the complex, the aroma of popcorn is tantalizing. For me, it is more about the popcorn now, and less about the movie.

We stand in line and buy huge tubs of salted popcorn and drinks. We scan our ticket and walk into the dark hall, our hands carefully balancing the popcorn and drinks, eyes scanning the alphabets for our row.

Soon, we settle into our seats. With a gentle tug, the popcorn tub opens. Movie trailers play….and finally the movie begins.

My eyes are glued to the screen. My hands and mouth are in perfect sync. Delicious handfuls of salted popcorn are seamlessly transferred from the tub to my mouth. The popcorn is perfect, and crunchy.

Now and then, there is a surprise caramel popcorn masquerading as a salted one! I take sips of my drink. The plot thickens and the popcorn tastes even better as the movie winds through the good and the bad, the laughter and the tears.

Just when we are about halfway through the movie, I realize that my stock of popcorn is almost over. I now slow down and relish whatever is left. An acute sense of disappointment remains.

Sigh! It is done.

Now, I settle down to the task of movie watching!

Posted in Everyday moments | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Mom


Whichever way I turned this last week, there was only one theme – Mother. There was ‘mommy love’ everywhere. If there was an energy meter that could measure this love, it would have probably burst!

Cards, gifts, letters, cookies…..and a million other ways to express one’s love for one’s mom!

When we were kids, if we did something wrong, one look from mom had us quaking…for we knew what was coming. The same mom would, with a twinkle in her eye, hide a gift for us on our birthdays.

She made the loveliest and yummiest foods at home, but also watched us like a hawk to ensure that we ate our veggies, even all those ‘healthy’, green ones!

She spent hours helping us with so many projects, but never hesitated to have us go up and apologize if we had said or done something to hurt someone.

Image courtesy – http://www.istockphotos.com

She never interfered in sibling fights, but always had a kind word or a hug to share after the fights, when we moped.

Her greatest joys came from our achievements, however small. Her eyes always lit up in excitement. She told us repeatedly that we could achieve whatever we envisioned; and gently admonished us when we stopped trying. She jumped for joy when we succeeded, but held us close to her heart when we lost – comforting us in the way only a mom can.

She inspired us with her positive attitude and her energy.

Even now…when I speak to her, she is the first one to ask me about ‘me’, and what I have been doing.

And that’s what it is…Moms are the ones who teach us our values. They are the needles in our moral compasses, always telling us the difference between right and wrong, good and bad; teaching us about humility, letting go, having the courage to stand up for oneself, having the strength to accept and rectify one’s mistakes…and many more.

Mothers prepare us for life – sometimes with love, sometimes with a gentle nudge, sometimes in anger, sometimes with strictness…..but always rooting for her children. Always!

And that’s why all these cards and gifts can express only a fraction of that love…!

Posted in Everyday moments | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Silk Skirt


The molten afternoon sun pours into the living room, playing hide and seek with the furniture and the curtains.

I narrow my eyes into a piercing look that will somehow help me thread the sewing needle that is in my hand.

On my lap is a multi-coloured silk skirt that belongs to my daughter. I am in the process of removing ‘the tuck’; meaning letting out the stitches that have been used to tuck-in excess length.

This skirt was bought four years ago. Silk skirts are usually sold as material, which we then get stitched into skirts. The material usually comes in one standard size, which can fit any age from 10 to 18 years.

And therein lies the magic. The tailor stitches the skirt, with multiple folds within, for a small girl of ten. As the little girl grows, one layer of tuck comes out each time she gains height.

And that is what I am doing this afternoon. As the sun catches the golden threads in the skirt’s border, my eyes are scrunched in concentration, a ‘stitch-picker’ and a needle-thread taking turns.

It takes a good hour to go around the whole skirt, while being careful not to damage the beautiful material.

I smile as I think about my childhood. My sisters and I had skirts that lasted us for nearly a decade. Being the ‘middle-child’, I would both receive my older sister’s skirts, as also pass on the ones I outgrew to my younger sister.

The silk skirt was the dress of choice for most festivals and important occasions at home. Our mom would braid our hair beautifully, and tuck-in a strand of fragrant jasmine flowers. We would wear glass bangles to match our skirt, a small chain around the neck and jimikkis in our ears.

During such festivals, when our grandma used to watch us, she would share memories of her own childhood and silk skirts.

Girls wore a lot more jewellery in my grandma’s time than we did as kids. When her mother braided her hair, she would weave-in strands of a very fragrant flower called the thazham poo (fragrant screwpine) that would leave the hair smeling heavenly.

I smile fondly at all these memories. I come back to the task at hand. I remove two layers of tucks, and realize how time has flown, and how soon my daughter has grown.

Lots of things are changing, but some traditions don’t change, and I hope they continue with my daughter too!

After all, these are the threads that connect us to the past and to our future, and give meaning and depth to our lives.

I thread the needle again, as I get ready for the last round.

Posted in Everyday moments | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Out of bounds


When we were kids, there were certain things and areas in our home that were out of bounds to us – our Dad’s bookshelf, his stationery cupboard and his files; our mom’s wardrobe and steel almirah, and our aunt’s knitting basket!

My Dad could sense if his files and papers had moved even an inch, and I don’t need to even talk about my mom’s antennae.

On rare occasions, we were given the privilege of peeking into my mom’s wardrobe or seeing my dad’s important papers and stationery.

These treats usually happened on long weekends or holidays, when my Dad would decide to clean his cupboard, or when my mom decided to clean hers.

We were allowed to watch and help as long as we were careful and didn’t behave irresponsibly.

We could barely contain our excitement, when we saw the creamy white paper or pens and lovely paper clips that our father had. My hands wanted to possess one of those notepads – to write (not sure what??).

If our Dad was happy with us, we would usually get something from his treasure trove. He would sometimes read out quotations from his notebook, or show us pencil sketches from his college days.

The things we collected thus were so precious, if only because our father had kept them so beautifully. We felt honoured to receive an old notepad or empty diary or a fountain pen.

When our mom opened her almirah, we would gaze in wonder at her beautiful silk sarees, neatly hanging in a line. There was the beautiful fragrance of sandalwood that gushed out of the wardrobe from the fragrance pouches she used.

Image courtesy – Dreamstime.com

Shiny sarees, the occasional sequinned saree, ornate jewelry boxes – we got glimpses of these as mom took out stuff, cleaned her cupboards and put them back in.

There was also a small, square, metal piggy bank that our mom had. It had the picture of a happy family on one side, and for the longest time I thought that it was ‘our family picture’. The piggy bank had a complicated locking mechanism, and we watched our mom pick out the key from a bunch of other important-looking keys to unlock the piggy bank.

When the cleaning was done, we usually went back to play or to study; knowing that those areas were out of bounds to us again….till the next time.

Posted in Everyday moments | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

A Tech Tutorial for Grandma


It is late in the afternoon. My mom is visiting. My son has just come back from school. He chatters about his day, hugs his grandma, washes up and disappears to his room to change.

In a few minutes, he comes out with the iPad to play games on it – only for the 10 precious minutes that he has been allotted every evening. He doesn’t want to waste even a second.

I watch the intensity with which he plays the game. His eyes, hands and brain are all alert; his eyes flitting about, taking in all the action, his reflexes sharp. At that point, only he and the game exist.

My mom finishes her afternoon coffee, and brings her smartphone to check her messages. She swipes the screen and starts reading.

Then she clucks in exasperation. I ask her what it is. She says that the messaging app has vanished. Hearing the cluck, my son pauses his game and ambles over. My daughter also joins in. They ask her what the problem is. She shows them.

They sit on either side of her to explain the finer nuances of a technology that comes so naturally and easily to them. She is overwhelmed by it all.

They patiently teach her. One step at a time. My mom’s eyes light up! She understands more than she did before. My daughter writes down the instructions for easy reference; lest the same problems show up again.

My mom preserves the document carefully. She then asks my children all her doubts – technology transfer is happening, a tech-tutorial is in progress.

My kids are both amused and filled with love and patience. My husband and I don’t get to experience this special love; a love that is reserved only for the grandparents.

Image courtesy – http://www.123rf.com

They patiently explain the three dots on the top right hand corner of the screen. My mom’s concentration is now absolute.

She loves technology she says, and marvels at all it does. She loves her grandchildren even more she says, hugging them.

Posted in Everyday moments | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Carpet of flowers


This afternoon, as I rushed to complete a few errands, my eyes saw that the road was filled with beautiful pink flowers that had fallen from a nearby tree. And, as I watched, the flowers continued to fall, swaying gently in the wind and gliding to the road. There were many.

They had served their purpose, giving generously of their beauty, expecting nothing in return. A few of these flowers had also fallen on some green bushes that lined the road. And even after they had served their purpose, these flowers still decorated the bushes and brought them to life!

My attention then shifted to the tree. It was in full bloom, wrapped in pretty flowers, gently swaying in the breeze.

I paused to take pictures. This got me thinking.

Life goes on. Days fly past. Morning quickly becomes night. ‘Things to do’ lists grow, shrink and expand at an alarming pace. Life’s pauses are few and far between. Technology rules. Necks are bent forward in a permanent posture of seeing and experiencing the world through one’s smartphone. Fingers are so used to touchscreen technology that we even try to zoom into physical copies of photographs.

Mother Nature is busy too! But where is the time to notice her beauty or her generosity? The miracle of sunrise and sunset are only used to pace our day, time our workouts or fix our various appointments. There is no time to enjoy the appearance of stars on the dark, velvety sky every night or appreciate a glorious sunny day! Weather reports are again to plan one’s schedule rather than to appreciate the lashing tropical rain or a grey, cloudy day!

We need to take small breaks – to stop, to appreciate, to rejuvenate and to be grateful!

Posted in Everyday moments | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

‘Homecoming Meal’ Philosophy


I was talking to one of my friends last week. She had just returned from a two-week family holiday. She told me all about the trip and the fun things they had seen! And then she said, “After all that travelling and eating different types of food, I just wanted to get home and eat some rotis and sabzi (vegetables).

That got me thinking.

I have heard so many people say the same thing – after being away from home for many days – that they want to come home to a simple, home-cooked meal. For me, that meal is plain curd rice and lime pickle.

Courtesy – http://www.shutterstock.com

So, this ‘homecoming’ meal is different for different people – some people want rotis, some want bread, some want rice!!

What it boils down to is not the nature or content of the meal. What matters is that we are back home, in the comfort of familiar environs and smells. The home-cooked simple meal is a testimony to our everyday lives, our routines and the daily rhythm of who we are and what we do.

The meal is the bridge that slowly eases us back into the main artery of our crazy, everyday lives. This ‘homecoming’ meal helps take away the blues!

Yes, the ‘homecoming’ meal is significant. There’s a deep philosophy behind it.

Posted in Everyday moments | 7 Comments

Circle of friendship


When we first go to school, we are reluctant to let go of our parents’ hands. We stare at this new world that is inhabited by other kids, from the security of our mom’s lap or dad’s shoulders. The world outside is scary, so strange, a little exciting..and many other things.

Three or four days into school, we take tentative steps towards friendship, with that girl in the cute pink frock or the boy with the dinosaur shaped lunch box!

Courtesy – http://www.shutterstock.com

Soon our evenings are spent with friends, playing tag, playing with toys or learning to ride a bicycle together.

We plow through primary school and birthday parties with friends, sharing innocent secrets and giggles. We then move to the teen years, where friends become life, and family fades into the background. A time when we learn so many things, a time when we experiment with identity, looks, cliques; a time when we try to be noticed or not noticed at all. A time of tumultuous friendships sometimes, and great moments sometimes too! By this time some friends have been there with us forever, some have vanished!

Then on to university, where more friends get added, many new shared experiences happen; more serious talk happens – about life, career prospects, marriage…!

Then out in the world to earn a living – new dynamics, new friendships, a taste of independence, hosting parties, more relaxed in friendship, more comfortable in one’s skin.

And then marriage, befriending other young couples, visiting each others’ homes, going on trips with them.

Then, when kids arrive, friends become other parents – comparing notes on food and child-related topics, all the time. When friendships only revolve around kids.

As the kids enter their teens and become independent, there’s more time for and with friends. By this time, we are settled in our friendships and views. We have a close-knit group of friends, whom we meet regularly. Friends who have our backs; where there is absolute comfort, where there is no worry about being judged, or about food or cooking.

A kind of friendship where one can just be – talkative or silent, eat in or take out, laugh with or cry with…so many, many beautiful things – when one feels complete in a warm circle of friendship!

It takes time and effort to get there, but when you do get there and find that circle, life is perfect!

Posted in Everyday moments | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments