The 3:1 battle


On a Friday evening, many aeons ago, my husband somehow managed to convince me to join him on his morning jog the next day. I agreed, but only in a moment of weakness, when my mind was not with me.

I put forth two conditions – the first was that we would walk and not jog, and the second was that we would not rise with the birds or beat the sun at his game. We would rise only when my eyes opened of their own volition. My dear husband agreed to both these conditions.

Saturday morning dawned bright and clear, and I was ready for this – walking shoes, cap and water bottle.

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We set off at a normal pace, and reached the gate of our condo. Another couple, good friends of ours, were also leaving for their walk. We called out cheery good mornings to each other, and went our separate ways.

About 10 minutes into our walk, my husband was nearly a hundred metres ahead of me. I called and asked him to wait. And he stood there, as I walked quickly to join him.

Me: ‘I thought we were supposed to be walking together?’

Husband: ‘Hmm. Well we are supposed to be together, but you are strolling rather than walking.’

The irritation that wives reserve only for their husbands surfaced in me.

Me: ‘Look at my heart rate. My Fitbit shows that I am in the cardio range. Can’t help it if the ratio of our strides is 3:1, three steps for me and a giant leap for you!’

Husband: ‘So, do you want me to stroll with you? I will hardly burn any calories.’

Me: ‘Nope. You go ahead and run, and blaze a trail. I will go for my own morning stroll. Bye!’

Husband: ‘Ok, bye.’

He sounded relieved. And..that was that. My husband’s form took off in a jog, I was not going to follow him. I took the opposite road.

After an hour of walking, I got back to the condo, and the other friends that we had seen earlier were also returning from their walk.

We smiled at each other, and they asked, ‘Where’s your husband?’

‘We took different routes’, I said, and smiled.

A really polite smile.

The better half


The sun was a bright orange orb, already quite low in the sky and sapped of most its intense heat, as I walked home yesterday. Silhouetted birds were already heading back to their nests.

My muscles ached, and I was eager to get back home and take a cold shower, but the last leg of my walk still remained. As I cut across the beautiful park, I saw that a wedding photography shoot was underway.

The bride’s gorgeous white gown was beautifully arranged on the lawn, as she looked up at her life partner with a smile. The photographer asked the couple to move this way and that till he got ‘that’ perfect angle for the shot; a picture that would be talked about and remembered for many, many years.

Courtesy – http://www.clipartlibrary.com

The bride and groom were lost in their own magical world, as they navigated the photo shoot in the real world. They caught me staring, and I waved out and wished them. They waved back with huge smiles.

And as I walked back, I thought about what a beautiful journey this young couple was about to embark on, and all that this journey would entail.

This also made me remember another very sweet old couple in their eighties, who visited our condo last year. Every morning, when I stood on the balcony to catch my breath after my kids and husband had left, I would watch them as they ambled over to the small exercise park that is directly below our home.

The sweet old lady would usually sit down on one of the benches. Her loving husband would then help her settle down, and also help her roll up her sleeves to allow the morning rays of the sun to warm her bones. He would then start walking around the park. Once he was done, he would join his wife. On some days, they would just sit in companiable silence, while on other days they would talk and laugh. Once the sun moved away from the park, the couple would slowly head homeward.

I come back to the now, and compare the two couples – one pair which is just beginning married life, while the other is enjoying the many memorable years together.

And between these two points, life happens – love, romance, petty fights, the big fights, hugs, cuddles, kids, milestones, vacations, hospital visits, ageing parents, laughter, grey hair, compromise..and lots more.

Each couple’s journey is different, but in the sunset years, I would consider it a blessing to have my spouse next to me, on a park bench, sharing the golden silence of a beautiful life lived together.

A new friendship


The sun’s rays are not stinging yet, and there’s a gentle breeze, as I head out purposefully on my morning walk.

I mentally tick off my paraphernalia – pedometer, phone, water bottle, sunglasses and cap. I have recently started taking a new and scenic route for my walks; the trail is filled with beautiful trees, chirping birds, and huge homesteads that are tucked away behind winding paths.

I hear the call of many different birds. They are busy practicing their calls – tweeak, tweeak…sings one, another warbles. I can’t see most of them, but I hear them through the rustling of leaves, and the fluttering of their wings. The cicadas are performing their chorus, while squirrel-contortionists flit about – now here, now gone.

The first part of my walk is all uphill, and I huff and puff my way to the top – the view from the top is totally worth all that breathlessness.

The trail winds left. Just at the end of that winding lane is a huge, sprawling homestead, which is surrounded by a lot of grass, a few trees and a blue swimming pool. The side that faces my walking trail is the backyard and I see clothes merrily fluttering away on the clothesline. A tall fence runs all around the property.

And each time I cross the midway point on the lane, my ears perk up, for there is the cutest apricot poodle in the homestead. He senses the presence of a stranger and comes tearing up the green slope to the fence. He lets off a few sharp barks that tell me that he knows that I am not from his area.

I wave out to him, and his beautiful eyes melt my heart. And he barks, pauses and watches till I am out of sight.

And this happens each time I walk there.

Courtesy – http://www.123RF.com

So, today, just as always, my ears perk up in anticipation as I enter the lane. My apricot poodle does not disappoint. He tears up the green slope, but surprise, surprise, he doesn’t bark. He just watches me with his black-currant eyes. I wave at him and keep walking.

I smile. I have just made a cute friend. We have each become a part of the other’s landscape.

There is a spring in my step, as the trail takes me downhill.

A brief sojourn on Monday


The week has begun, and yet another weekend has joined the archives of history. Monday is almost over in our part of the world.

My kids are back home, with schedules, tests and assignments for the week. My weekly plan sits in a neatly written list on my table. Somehow, the fun we had over the weekend seems to have evaporated. In its place is a seriousness, and a sense of purpose. The next weekend seems aeons away.

And between the two weekends, work we must.

It is around 7.30 p.m. and all of us are busy tapping away on our laptops or staring at our screens, seeking answers to various questions!

In just a little while, my husband walks in. He pulls out a plastic packet from his backpack.

He says, “These are jackfruit chips that my friend at work gave me.”

The jackfruit chips are from the friend’s orchard in Kerala, India – a region renowned for the quality of its jackfruit, and for the many delicious chips, jams, preserves etc that are made from it. Fresh jackfruit had been specially picked, sliced and fried into chips during the friend’s trip to his home town.

All of us crowd around, and open the packet of chips with great anticipation. We pop them into our mouths.

Absolutely perfect, crunchy, fresh and delicious. We dive in for more, rendered speechless for a few minutes, as we stand around the table and munch.

The freshness of the chips transports us to the backwaters of Kerala, and evokes memories of houseboats and cups of tea, of coconut trees and green fields, of kingfishers and the Arabian Sea, of serenity and peace.

We soon come out of our reverie. Back to Monday and reality. But just for a few moments there, we were away on a holiday, and come back refreshed. The week does not seem so long after all.

What’s in a gift?


I am racking my brains trying to come up with a gift for my husband’s birthday. I make a mental list of the various categories – wallets, pens, shirts, belts, shoes, perfumes and watches.

“Ah..that was easy”, I think.

Very early in our marriage, I discovered that my husband is not into surprises at all. He believes that his gifts to me should be chosen only by me..and not by him. And that is how it has been. I have chosen each one of my birthday gifts, and let me tell you, there is a certain joy to be had in choosing one’s own gifts.

So, back to my story. With all the gift-categories in my head, I ask hubby dear to let me know what he wants. I present each category to him.

Shirts?

No. I have way too many.

Shoes?

The ones I have are enough.

Wallets?

The one I have is comfortable.

Belts?

Why would I want another one?

Ties?

Don’t wear even the ones I have.

Pens?

Nope

Watches?

No

And in a mere two minutes, our gift-conversation is over, and I am back to the same confused state as before.

If the roles were reversed, I would have many more categories, and sub-categories, and specific requirements under each of them. I would spend an entire day mulling over my options on what to buy. Half the excitement is in planning, but my dear husband shows no interest at all.

I feel deflated. My kids are creating or buying their own gifts. They do not include me in their plans – and they are planning Dad gifts, not wife gifts. Sigh!

Later that evening, all of us settle down in the living room, busy with our own work and thoughts.

I ask my husband again about the gift. He says the same thing again – that he does not want anything.

A sly thought creeps into my head and slips out of my tongue.

I say, “Maybe I should buy something for myself to celebrate your birthday.”

My kids are horrified by the sudden emergence of this greedy mom!

“Mom, how could you say this?” they ask, still in shock!

My husband says, “Actually that’s a good idea”.

Image courtesy – http://www.stock.adobe.com

My son says, “Mom we will get you a gift for your birthday, but you can’t take away Dad’s gift.”

My husband and I catch each other’s eye and laugh.

And then my husband says, “I will tell you what I want – just cook a special family dinner with all my favourite items.”

And that’s exactly how we celebrate – with yummy food, a delicious cake, lots of love and family time.

Family – the best gift ever.