Monthly Archives: March 2016

Slow on the uptake

I am out for lunch with my friends. We are a noisy bunch, as we tuck-in to yummy food and girly gossip.

Just before we say our byes, one of my friends and I visit the powder room. I wash my hands and look for paper towels. Can’t find any; but there is a dryer. So I place my palms under the dryer, waiting for warm air to gush out.

Hmmm…no warm air. Upon closer inspection, through the translucent glass of the so-called dryer, I see a roll of paper towels.

“Ah! A paper towel dispenser”, I say.

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       Courtesy -www.shutterstock.com

My friend then tells me that it is sensor-operated, and that she had tried waving her hands before the sensor to activate it, but in vain.

There is a symbol that shows a palm, and below it is a small button. I press the button, and one paper towel comes out.

We laugh.

Then we discuss why the sensor doesn’t seem to be working. My friend shows me how she waved her palms at the machine. I wave my palms frantically.

We laugh and proceed to take our bags. There is a gentle whirring sound. We turn around to find that the machine has sensed all those waving palms, albeit slowly.

The machine is spewing out paper towels, one after the other, almost like a saree. We are in sudden shock.

We are close to the machine, and afraid that it will start spewing more if it senses our movement.

Like a pair of guilty children,  we back out with minimum movement.

We come out, catch each others’ eye and burst into fits of laughter.

Chic and smart…I wish

There is a heat wave in the region, and I feel irritable. Aircons, cold water and staying indoors are only temporary solutions. I sit in front of the TV, my mind far away, seeking some respite.

A light bulb flashes in my head, and I know just what it is that will help me combat the heat. I mutter to myself, “I need a new hair style”.

With more confidence I announce, “I am going to revamp my hair style.”

My kids merely glance at me and turn away; my husband gives me a puzzled look and goes back to the sports section in the newspaper.

Sigh!

Anyway now that I have a plan, I pull out my phone and search on Google for ‘hair styles for thick, wavy hair,  medium length’.

Google images does not disappoint. I see hundreds of beautiful hair styles, styled to perfection. There is the casual look, the formal look, the distressed look, this look, that look and many more.

I am smiling in excitement. I narrow down to four, but my eyes keep going back to one particular hairstyle. Medium, layered, casual, chic and smart.

I imagine myself with that cut, and I immediately give myself mental airs for chic and smart.

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              Courtesy -www.jantoo.com

Ok, so I save the image and call to check at the salon if they can have me. They give me a time slot.

At the appointed hour I present myself. The pampering starts soon after I am assigned a stylist.  The shampoo is relaxing. Soft music plays in the background. I am asked if I want tea or coffee.

Just water, I say. The water comes with an oatmeal cracker. A few fashion and lifestyle magazines are placed before me.

Soon, I am immersed in the world of fashion, mentally trying on accessories and clothes.

After the shampoo, the stylist asks me how I would like my hair cut?

I show him the picture on my phone. He says, “This texture and the texture of your hair are very different. Your hair is very thick and this won’t suit you.” (Did I tell you that the texture of my hair actually belongs in the coconut fibre family; so rough).

I feel deflated. I ask him, “What about a shorter length with layers?”

“Hmmm”, he considers, before letting me down again, gently, “You have lovely hair; however, because it is so thick a short cut would not suit you.”

“What do you recommend?” I ask, meekly.

“Stick to the same cut, I will layer it more”, he says.

An hour later, with more layers and less hair on my head, I walk home with blow-dried hair, feeling good about the curls.

I walk home. The scene has not changed. My husband looks at me and knows that he has to say something.

The best he can do is, “Oh, they curled your hair?”

My daughter says, “No change Amma. You look the same.”

Son doesn’t look.

I tie my hair up in a knot and it’s business as usual.

A tale of two wrist watches

I have a plastic box in my wardrobe, which contains two wrist watches.  The watches are old.  Each of these watches has its own story.

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The bigger watch of the two belonged to my Dad.  After his death, my sisters and I chose a few items from my Dad’s belongings.  I chose a shirt, his books of quotations and this watch. For quite a while after my Dad’s death, I teared up each time I saw these things.

” Can material things ever make-up for a person’s absence?” I asked myself.  But over time, I realized that material things may not fill the void in your heart, but they can bring back wonderful memories.  As the pain of separation wore away, in its place came fun memories that I shared with my Dad.  The way he would take off his wrist watch the moment he came back from work, placing it on his cupboard at a specific place, along with his pen.

In the wee hours of the morning, when my sisters and I peeked at the world from inside our quilts, we would see our Dad humming to himself and winding his watch.  I still remember how his hand felt, and how the watch was positioned on his hand.

He changed the leather strap twice, if I remember right.  We gifted him watches when we each started working, but till the end, this watch was his favourite.  The watch that marched with him, every second.

So many things in this simple watch.

The other smaller watch was my ‘first watch’.  I was in high school, and I still remember I had gone out for extra classes to school.  It was the Indian festival of ‘Sankranti‘ in January, and I walked in to the yummy smell of ‘sweet pongal‘ being cooked.  I remember my parents calling me to the dining table.  They asked me to close my eyes, and to stretch out my arm.  I still remember my Dad wrapping the watch on my hand.  A simple, elegant watch.  They told me it was for my board exams, to help me manage time.  It was a great surprise, and I remember how happy I was.  I hugged both of them.

These two watches are so precious, for they connect me to my Dad, and to my parents for all the dreams they had for me, and believing in me always.

Love you Amma and Dad.  Thank you for everything.

Pain in the neck

I was on a cleaning spree last week. I dusted, lifted, cleared, evaluated and purged. It was going well.

I lifted a carton to move it to a new place, and felt a sudden painful twinge at the back of my neck. I put the carton down and realized that my neck had a sprain. Hmmm..

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        Courtesy – http://www.123rf.com

And then for the rest of the week, I realized, painfully,  how many times my schedule required me to bend, peer, turn and look up; and that almost everything took extra effort just so that I could protect my neck from issuing sharp and painful alerts. Even reading was painful.

One small twinge, and even everyday tasks had become laborious and difficult.

As with such pains, my body righted itself quite soon, and now I can shake my head, dance and party. I can read, without having to massage my neck frequently. I can!

Just realized that we take so many things for granted.

Mom’s cooking

Indian cooking is elaborate. Every dish requires time to perfect. Most dishes involve multiple processes such as wet grinding, pounding, roasting, seasoning etc.

We Indians celebrate many, many festivals each year, and the high point of these celebrations is the food. Every festival has specific dishes to celebrate it.

Most Indian women, atleast the one’s from my mom’s generation, are walking recipe books.

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       Courtesy – http://www.wikihow.com

My cooking skills took shape only after marriage, and rather than consult any recipe book, I would just pick up the phone to call my mom.  Our conversations went something like this.

Me: Hi Amma

Mom: Hi…How are you?

Me: All good. Can you tell me the recipe for this sweet dish (some name)?

Mom: Sure…it’s very simple. It is 1:1:2.

Me: Wait..what’s 1:1:2

Mom: It’s the ratio of the ingredients.

Me: Mom, can we start with the ingredients?

Mom: Aha…of course…

And she gave me the recipe, baby step by baby step.

Over the years, I have become quite an accomplished cook, and know all my ratios.

But I am still trying to achieve that finesse in my dishes, which my mom seemed to achieve with ease; and that perfect aroma when all the ingredients have blended just right. 

Even yesterday, I called my mom to ask for her Vegetable Biriyani recipe. Just listening to the recipe brought back memories of cousins and happy Sundays, uncles and aunts and afternoons of play.

I could remember the smell of my mom’s Biriyani wafting through the house – chillies and ginger and mint and garlic and coriander and onions….and cloves and cinnamon and bay leaves…and many more lovely ingredients.

Mom’s cooking…always the best!

Life and its many moments

Yesterday, after a nice Sunday meal, as I relaxed on the couch, I saw a beatific smile on my husband’s face. Turned out  he was having a ‘Moment of tenderness’ looking at an old image of our kids.

This got me thinking. Our lives are made up of many such moments – some funny, some poignant, some embarrassing and some painful.

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        Courtesy – http://www.zirtlife.com

‘Passage of time moment’ – when you look at an old photo and realize how time has flown.

‘Moment of realization’ – when your children say the same things to you that you said to your mother, and you catch yourself dispensing the same advice as your mother.

‘Moment of horror’ – the day after your visit  to a  hair stylist – when you are not able to set your hair the same way, and each peek into the mirror makes you feel terrible.

‘Moment of tenderness’ – when you look at your children while they are asleep, and all your love bursts forth.

‘Moment of irritation’ – when you know that you are coming down with a bad cold, and your head and nose announce it.

‘Moment of stupidity’ – when you come back home from the supermarket without the two main items you had gone to buy.

‘Moment of aggravation’ – when you are typing a message, and your cell phone battery drains.

‘Moment of nostalgia’ – when you see an old dress that fit you at one point in time.

‘Moment of joy’ – when you receive a card from your kids or a gift from your husband.

‘Moment of giggling’ – when a dear friend calls and you let off steam.

‘Moment of solitude’ –  when you read a good  book on a rainy day

‘Moment of contemplation’ – thinking about the deeper meaning of life, while sipping delicious coffee.

And many, many more such. What other moments do you have? Would love to know.

Boring is ‘cool’

I am rushing home from the supermarket, my hands loaded with plastic bags. Just as I enter my apartment complex, a school bus drops off a group of kids.

All of them look tired after the long day, as they slowly amble home.

Two boys, probably between 10 and 12 years of age, walk ahead of me. 

Can’t help overhearing their conversation.

Boy 1: Come on, say yes. It will be fun.

Boy 2: Hmmm….not sure. Have to think about it.

Boy 1: I think you are very boring.

Boy 2: …..(walks quietly)

Boy 1: You know what? Your brother also feels that you are boring.

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           Courtesy – http://www.123rf.com

I feel a small frisson of anger.

Boy 2 says: You know what? I think my brother and you are both right. I am a bit of a bore….

Boy 1: (Looks surprised and grins)…You’re cool, man.

I grin and walk home.