Beautiful memories

It’s Sunday, and Yay! I get to sleep in. No annoying alarm, no morning rush, just a relaxing stretch. Much against the recommendations of hundreds of social media reels that spout the wisdom of not reaching for one’s phone first thing in the morning, I do so. I fluff up a few pillows and check the news and social media. I forward a few reels to annoy my husband and a few motivational ones to my children. I lazily move to my messages.

When I click open our family group, I see a colourful sketch – my four year old niece’s artwork. My sister has added a small message saying that it was my niece’s stickman drawing of a recent trip that their family and their friends had taken. My niece had told my sister – while leaving the drawing on the coffee table – that it was a ‘photograph’ of their trip. Here’s the picture.

This stickman drawing – of eleven people posing – brought a huge smile to my face. I love the simplicity, the vibrant colours, the hairdos, the tilted heads, the smiles, the proportions, and the joy of the holiday reflected in how all of them are holding hands.

I am an avid photographer and love clicking pictures to add to our family album, much to the annoyance of my kids. But this drawing is different and truly precious because it is not ‘just another’ digital picture clicked on a phone during a holiday but a ‘photograph’ drawn by my niece after she got back home, that captures forever her memories in such a wonderful way. Happiness is in the simplest of things, isn’t it?


Family rituals

We are at a beach resort for a short break during Easter. It’s just the four of us – husband, kids and me. The last break we had together was before the pandemic, and now, this time together feels so special. My nest will have full occupancy at least for a few weeks and this makes me happy.

We laze around in the beach, play in the water and take long walks. We enjoy catching up on so many things.

My husband and I look at each other sometimes in incredulity. When did our kids grow up!!! There was a time when we constantly gave out instructions on table manners, finishing food, minding their posture and being polite.

Now, we are listening to their views on the world, we are seeing the world anew through their eyes. It is a beautiful and novel experience. There’s this constant back and forth of topics where we compare our generation and theirs. We get sneak peeks into their playlists and get the rare opportunity to listen in on one airpod and share a musical moment with them. We play silly family games. The games are more fun now as there is no squabbling between the siblings. They are a team now.

On the last day, my daughter remembers a ritual we have always performed on every beach holiday. We wait for the waves to recede and then on the wet sand, we leave our footprints. My foot is the smallest now. We laugh at this and head back to the hotel room to pack.

Courtesy –

As we gather all our possessions, my daughter suddenly exclaims and pulls out a small paper bag from her backpack. She hands it to me saying, “Oh Amma here’s a fridge magnet I picked up on one of my trips with my friends, to add to our family fridge magnet collection.” This is another ritual we’ve always followed – a small magnet to mark every trip we have taken.

I feel quite emotional. My daughter is making her own trips now, creating her own memories and making her own life. And I am so so touched that she remembers our ritual and that she wants to bring these new, vibrant memories of her travels back home.

An unexpected adventure

There’s a solar eclipse just about to happen in our part of the world, but it’s been raining non-stop from the morning. My hopes of watching this celestial spectacle have been dashed. I just hope that we get at least some sign of the eclipse; something more exciting than the dull grey that is visible outside now!

This reminds me of something that happened in the last week of March. I’d had a long day and had just gotten back home. After dropping my bags, I’d headed straight to the kitchen to start preparations for dinner. After dinner, I’d collapsed on the sofa. My feet had been killing me the whole day, as I had worn a new pair of heels and had walked quite a lot. And then…..

I took out my phone to check my messages. There were many messages from friends who had spotted the Venus and moon conjunction on the night sky. The pictures looked absolutely beautiful. I wanted to go down to the poolside and see this for myself. I invited my husband and son. They murmured disinterestedly. Well, I was excited and decided that I would go by myself.

The Venus Moon Conjuntion – picture shared by a friend

My painful footwear from earlier was just outside the shoe cabinet. I grimaced as I put the heels back on. It was just five minutes to go down, see the moon and come back. I could live with the pain. I headed down to the pool. I looked at the sky, but could not see the moon. I walked this way and that and tried to use the compass on my phone to look for the moon and Venus. I spotted one of my friends, who told me that I had to go out of the building to a certain spot to be able to see it.

I left the condo and had just walked a few meters, when I saw another friend who was heading towards our condo. We exchanged greetings. I soon discovered that she had also stepped out to see the moon but was heading back, as she was in her home clothes and had rushed out – just like I had – to the poolside. We decided to give it one last shot.

We were a team now, we had a goal. We set off. We reached the point where the conjunction had been visible to the whole neighbourhood earlier. But as luck would have it, we could not see a thing. We were not going to give up. We plodded on, me in my painful heels and she in her home clothes. My limping slowed down this grand endeavour of ours considerably. But did that deter us? Of course not!!!

We walked and walked all around the neighbourhood, our eyes alert and our necks tilting upward frequently. Our mouths, though, were busy catching up on all the news in our lives, our kids, spouses, travel and lots more. At some point on this looooonnngggg walk, my phone alerted me that I had walked over 17000 steps. We had walked a complete circle around the neighbourhood, but the stars merely twinkled at us in amusement, while the night sky watched us stoically. We called some friends to check again; one of them told us that the moon was hidden behind some clouds.

It was quite late. We decided to head homeward. We shared a good laugh. Though we had missed the celestial conjunction, we’d had a great time on this unexpected adventure of ours – despite the painful heels, the home clothes and all that walking.

A car ride with my son

My son and I had to attend an event last weekend. As we got ready to leave, the skies opened up. The rain showed no signs of letting up and we decided to cab it to the event. After a long wait for a cab, we finally managed to find one.

We got in and settled down. When I looked at my son to ask something, he had already put on his airpods and was staring ahead, immersed in his music. I smiled and looked outside the window, enjoying the rain and the water drops rolling down the windshield.

As the cab weaved through traffic, I took a quick trip down memory lane. When my son was younger, and when we would go on cab rides together, he would chatter non-stop about animals and share some interesting facts that he had learnt about them. We called it our own special Animal Talk Time or ATT. There were other things we discussed too! At times, I would plead with him to stay quiet or even slow down when he talked. He would constantly move about on the seat and keep talking, his eyes bright and his face animated.

But last week’s cab ride was very different. I looked at my son a couple of times, finding it hard to believe how quiet that little boy had become. He caught me looking and mouthed a silent “what?”. I nodded my head to say “nothing”. He just tapped my hand and went back to his music.

After the event, we went down to the cafeteria for a quick bite. He asked me what I wanted and found us a table. He made me sit there and went to get the food, asking me to relax. I felt pampered. He was back soon and we ate, chatting a bit about this and that. Many of my questions received monosyllabic replies.

When we were done, we headed back to the taxi stand. Soon, we were on our way home. Before he could put on his airpods, I reminded him about our ATT days. His eyes lit up and he agreed that those were truly fun times. He bent sideways and touched his head to mine, patted my hand again and went back to his music. I smiled and went back to my thoughts. It was a beautiful evening indeed!

Creatures of habit

We humans are creatures of habit, and I am no exception! I have ‘my corner’ of the couch, which I inhabit on and off at different times during the day. Seated on this comfortable couch, I dwell upon the deeper meaning of life and about the mundanities of everyday living.

From where I sit, I can see the neighbouring apartment complex in the distance. In the foreground is a tree with bright green foliage.

A flock of white pigeons gathers on this tree at various times during the day, much like how I take a break in my corner of the couch. Many of the pigeons sit down on different branches; maybe they have favourite spots that they each love too! From where I sit, they look like beautiful white specks on a green backdrop. They seem to gather for a quick catch-up with their friends.

Image courtesy – Dreamstime

Sometimes, they fly away in unison in a sudden noisy flutter. A few continue to stay back- probably to catch their breath after a busy day or to think deep thoughts.

During the pandemic, when we mostly stayed home, I observed and enjoyed the meeting of these birds each day. I always hoped then that we could meet our loved ones too!

Now, with life back to normal, I have less time than I did before to observe the pigeons. Like us, the pigeons too seem to be creatures of habit, and when I water my plants or sip my afternoon coffee, I see them on the tree at regular intervals, catching up with each other. I smile when I see them because there’s nothing like a quick chat or a shared joke with one’s friends to enliven one’s day!

‘The’ notebook

I was looking for a recipe for a special dish that I had to prepare this morning, for one of the rituals that we follow in our family. While I did remember the recipe, I did not want to miss out on some important detail, and hence went online to check.

The internet did not disappoint. I had so many options to choose from, a few of which were similar to what we prepare at home; but I was not satisfied. It was time to retrieve ‘The’ notebook.

Just before my sisters and I got married, my mom had written down our family traditions, rituals, recipes and many other interesting information in three notebooks, one for each of us. What was even more interesting was that she had painstakingly pasted paper cuttings from magazines and newspapers that pertained to our field of work and other inspiring articles and quotes which she thought we would find useful.

Right next to most of our traditional recipes, my mom had written down small tips on how one could enhance the recipe or had sometimes scrawled a simple ‘turned out well for me’ comment.

In the early days of my marriage, when I was attempting to prepare sweets and savouries for Diwali or attempting to make the famous idli chutney powder that is a staple in most South Indian homes, this book was my saviour. It was always in the kitchen for easy accessibility. Its pages absorbed my inexperience in the form of impressions of turmeric and other masala powders.

As the years flew by,  and as I could remember most recipes and rituals with ease, I moved this most important book to a special cupboard, where all my most treasured gifts go. The notebook snuggles there with my kids’ hand-drawn cards, beads, pebbles and other precious memorabilia.

When I took it out of the cupboard this morning to read the recipe that I wanted, a wave of nostalgia washed over me. It brought some beautiful memories of the early days of my marriage and how I would cook with the notebook propped on the food processor, with my favourite music for company.

As I put the notebook away carefully, I realized how many hours of my mom’s love and effort had been captured within its pages.

These days, recipes and all kinds of information are available online, but having mom’s hand written notebook is a beautiful way to connect to my past and to our rich culture, family traditions and all the wonderful memories.

Tiny fingers

We are at my sister’s place, enjoying the holidays. Life has become synonymous with a deep lassitude; a lassitude that comes from having had a crazy year filled with chores and deadlines.

My sister and I unwind by catching up on every conceivable topic. My little niece is always in the vicinity, adding much charm to our conversations, with her sweet thoughts and love.

My mom, her grandmother, has gifted my niece a little-girl nail paint set that has tiny bottles in many colours. My niece spends all her free time applying nail paint to her tiny fingers and toes, and also painting the nails of anyone else at home who agrees to her plans. And when she is not painting her nails, she is busy practicing her dance routine for her school’s soon-to-be Annual Day.

Soon, it is time for my niece to wear her costume and get ready for her dance performance. The entire family is going to attend the show. My niece flits about like a butterfly the whole morning, but sits patiently as my sister and I do her hair and make up. She is very aware of her lipstick and wears a strange pout to ensure that she does not smudge or swallow her lipstick.

All of us tell her that she looks absolutely gorgeous. She smiles and poses for pictures, and then says, “Let me see how I look.” There is a mirror on the inside of one of the wardrobe doors. As she evaluates herself, we are only able to see her tiny fingers holding the door. We await the verdict with bated breath.

After a few minutes, she comes out, all smiles, and announces, “I look beautiful.” We agree in unison and clap. We are soon on our way to a beautiful event and a memorable evening.

The playlist connection

There was a time, many years ago, when my son would get back from school and start chattering non-stop. He would follow me around the house giving me a minute-by-minute update on his day, about what had happened in school and about who had said what and what his responses had been to the comments made by his friends. He would intersperse all those reports with some interesting facts about animals that he had heard about, read about or watched on TV. While I would laugh and enjoy his chatter, I would also chide him to stop talking and eat his snack.

How quickly times change. Now, when my son gets home from school he heads straight to his room. I am the one who seeks him out and follows him, pestering him with questions. I get nods, monosyllabic replies and some rolling eyes when my questions exceed a mere few.

My son inhabits a different world now; a world which has his friends, music, school work, food and all his other interests. However, my little boy does emerge from time to time, when he seeks me out to talk. I cherish these truly wonderful times, where I try to listen without trying to solve his problems (as difficult as that may seem), and without passing any judgement.

Yesterday, I was in the kitchen, prepping for lunch. I had my earphones connected to some melodious 80s music. I swayed to the rhythm while my hands chopped and diced. Soon, my son got back home from a class. He waved, walked into the kitchen, took my phone and changed the song to something from his playlist. He mouthed, “Listen to this”, and was gone.

Image courtesy –

From a slow number the music switched to rock, and my whole body language changed. I felt energized and matched the chopping to the song’s beat. It made me smile. It also made me strangely happy that I had been given a peek into my son’s world!!

The way our children interact with us does change with time, and each phase is to be cherished!!

Grandmom’s treat

Gone are those days when summer holidays with cousins meant dinner in the backyard, near the well, which every home had. The area around the well usually had a cement floor, in one corner of which was a washing stone to wash clothes. Each home usually had a few coconut trees, and maybe some mango or neem trees.

Dinner with cousins was a fun time, when we would all sit in a semicircle around an aunt or grandma, who would have premixed sambar rice or curd rice in a huge vessel, which she would then pass into each of our cupped hands. We would each have a banana leaf with some vegetable or pickle or papads as accompaniment(s) to the main rice dish.

We would laugh, exchange jokes and talk animatedly as we gobbled up all the yummy food that was given to us.

Cut to the present. We are at my mom’s and my kids and all their cousins of various ages are excitedly making plans for dinner. They decide that dinner with cousins equals pizza. They are soon deeply engrossed in the wide variety of toppings and crust fillings – vociferously debating the merits and demerits of each. The order is finally placed, and soon all of them vanish into their virtual worlds.

My mom, who was busy with her chores when the pizza conversation happened, comes to know about the pizza plans only after she has made her aromatic rasam and has started prepping vegetables for dinner.

When the pizzas are delivered, my mom brings her rasam and leaves it on the table. She tells her grandchildren that they can have the rasam like a soup if they want.

The aroma of melted cheese, bell peppers, olives and all things pizza waft around our home. We sniff appreciatively. The kids go berserk. This is their version of our ‘childhood dinners by the well’ story. The topics of conversation are so different. They talk about memes and their favourite shows and references from these shows. But the camaraderie is the same.

Once the pizzas vanish, my son fills a small bowl with my mom’s rasam. He sits down on the couch and takes a sip. He smacks his lips and slurps the next spoon. “Wow, grandma, this is simply delicious”, he exclaims!!

This is cue enough for the other cousins. All of them fill cups of rasam and sit down to slurp noisily, relishing the taste and sharing silly jokes, while reveling in their grandmom’s love. My mom watches them, a smile playing on her face.

My sisters and I reminisce about the passage of time. As we walk down memory lane, our kids are busy creating their own memories for the future.

Couple goals

It is eight in the morning and I realize that I have slept-in. I get out of bed, wash up and walk lazily to the kitchen to wish my mom a good morning.

My mom greets me with a cheery good morning and makes frothy filter coffee for both of us. We head back to the living room to sit down, enjoy our coffee and have our first chat of the day; chats that can be silly or profound and chats that can easily slide into blissful and comfortable silences too!

But today is different. As we sit down, I exclaim loudly, “Amma, look the monkeys are back.”

We take our coffee cups and head to the balcony window and watch in silence. There are two monkeys, husband and wife perhaps, sharing the joys of a beautiful morning. They are seated on the balcony’s grill, facing away from us.

As we continue to watch, they gradually turn to face each other. As we watch they bend and touch their heads together. A beautiful moment, where no words are needed. Maybe they are sharing a beautiful secret, maybe they have just fallen in love, maybe they are reliving nostalgic memories……!

And in just a few minutes, one hugs the other rather protectively. The sun has slowly started its ascent across the sky, but our monkeys stay put for nearly an hour, enjoying the morning, enjoying each other’s company and revelling in their love for each other.

My mom and I look at each other and smile. What a lovely way to start the day!!