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.

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.

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!

‘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.

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!

Night time prowl…


I wind up all my chores, and by 11 p.m., I am ready to call it a day. I brush my teeth and wash. Time to stretch and relax.

The aircon starts its humming. I think about the day, say my prayers…and by now, should have fallen asleep.

But no, for some strange reason, sleep eludes me. I stare at the ceiling. I count. I name animals, flowers, birds and colours from A to Z. I am wide-eyed…!

I turn on the reading lamp to read. My husband clicks in irritation, as the light bothers him. I turn it off and decide to go to the living room.

I start strolling around the house. Our home looks different. It has a different persona at night. A thin, beautiful, golden slab of light shines from the gap at the bottom of the main door.

The cuckoo clock is ticking away. The sofas seem to be resting. I walk out to the balcony. All is quiet, just the occasional light from a neighbour’s home. Down below, traffic has petered out. A few cars glide quietly through the night.

The trees are silent, their leaves sway gently and reflect the lights from the street lamps.

I come back indoors, and walk to the kitchen. The refrigerator is humming. Everything is quiet and peaceful after the long day.

I walk up and down. I switch on the TV; it is still day in other parts of the world – news is unfolding, the weather is changing, clouds are moving, people are talking, stock markets are trading, companies are advertising, people are entertaining….!

I channel surf, but it’s all too much to process at this late hour! I switch off the television.

Picture Courtesy – http://www.dreamstime.com

I prowl like a cat in my own home, I pick up books and towels – even in the dark – and put them away. OCD at night! I giggle at what my family would think if they saw me cleaning now!

I let out a big yawn. I am relieved. Maybe I will sleep now…..but wake up with Panda eyes tomorrow! Sigh….!