Indulged


Life and its many moments keep unfolding each day. Most times, we are caught up in our routines and chores, not thinking about or dwelling upon what we do on a daily basis.

But yesterday was different. It rained non-stop, and the world outside was grey and wet. After a sumptuous weekend lunch, I retired to catch some shut eye. My power naps usually last exactly twenty minutes, not a minute more. That is my cue to get up and start the second half of my day, during which I also head to the kitchen to make our afternoon coffee!

But for some strange reason, I slept way beyond my twenty minute quota, and felt a deep laziness pervading my every pore. But the family coffee clock doesn’t stop, does it?

Soon, my husband made an appearance. He saw me napping, and left quietly. Then my daughter showed up in a bit and left too! I could sense them but was too lazy to open my eyes.

After a few minutes, when I was fully awake, I called my husband and said, “Can someone make coffee today?”

He said, “Of course, I can try…but it won’t taste anything like yours. Are you ok with that?”

Hmmm…the coffee taste is what it’s all about. I asked my daughter. She loves coffee too, and she has learnt from me…so there was still some hope!

She agreed enthusiastically. I watched the dull grey world outside, and mindlessly traced water drops with my eye, as they ran down our window. I waited in eager anticipation.

Photo by Josh Hild from Pexels

I mentally imagined my daughter heating the milk, and adding the decoction and just the right amount of sugar. There was a lot of noise from the kitchen. I could hear the clanging of steel. I wondered if they were making coffee or cooking a meal.

I hollered, “Are you guys done?” From their muffled replies I understood that they had spilt something!!! But I held my ground, and suppressed my curiosity to go and interfere. I sat up and smiled lazily….!

And in just a few minutes, my daughter walked in with a frothing cup of filter coffee. I took the first sip. Bliss and perfection. “You have nailed it!!” I said. My daughter smiled.

A rainy day, an afternoon nap, followed by a perfect cup of coffee not made by me! I felt indulged.

A lightness of being


It’s been raining on and off over the last few weeks. And as I stand on my balcony, there is the grey of a rainy day, the green of freshly washed plants and the sparkle of water drops all around me.

There is a heaviness to the day outside, as dark grey clouds hang low in the sky, waiting to unleash themselves. Even the vehicles on the road seem to be moving rather slowly.

I feel dull and incapable of productivity. Even my afternoon coffee fails to rev me up. So I enjoy this feeling of laziness, of not wanting to do anything, anything at all. I observe the world with no particular thought in my mind.

But the world seems to be functioning; people with their bright umbrellas are walking purposefully with bags in their hands.

I am a sloth. I am loathe to move. I feel a sense of inertia. I amble over to the couch and settle down. I open my messages and see pictures on our family group.

One of them is a picture of a bubble floating away on a rainy day. The shimmering bubble is light and free, as it floats with abandon, oblivious to the grey and wet day.

It is merry and totally free, for it has within it a lightness of being.

I quickly snap out of my reverie, and feel light and energized.

A stolen moment….


When the Indian Festival season starts, days and nights blend into each other; into a seamless round of parties, dinners and fun. The vibrant hues of the Indian saree light-up the landscape. There are shimmering sequins, and silk, visits to the nail spa and hair salon; and all this while preparing the hundred odd things that one needs for the festival season.

I am no exception, as I flit in and out of the house, draping sarees for every occasion. There is definitely magic in the air, people are happy and in high spirits. There is hope, there is a promise of another wonderful year ahead.

And in all this wonderful excitement, I have just dropped my son to his class, and head to a mall nearby, to run some errands.

I move with purpose, ticking off each item on my list. Somewhere, on those winding shop alleys, fresh coffee is being brewed. I ignore it and carry on with my work.

On the way back, I simply cannot resist. I do a takeaway and walk out of the mall. The mall is located on the waterfront.

I look at the water. There are many kayaks. Many teams are practicing – counting or chanting rhythmically.

I need this moment to myself, to do nothing, just till I finish my coffee. To absorb this peace of watching without acting, just enjoying my coffee and its aroma.

I settle down on the steps near the waterfront. Two sweet mynas are hopping about near me. They look quizzically at me. They are not daunted by my presence. They allow me to take pictures. After a while, they go into the bushes, and start pecking at the soil with their bright yellow beaks.

A beautiful morning – a bright and sunny day full of promise, clouds floating, kayaks gliding on the water, two smart mynas for company and coffee to top it all off.

This moment was mine..just to be, just to let go and to not think.

Soon, it is time to head back and join the main artery of everyday life; back to celebrating the festival season with friends and family – back to the fun and laughter!

Happy Deepavali to you all!

Shopping, paranthas & peace


My sister and I are out shopping. There is no specific shopping list; we are willing to buy anything that grabs our attention. Read – ‘as many shops as we can visit in one afternoon’.

Our children are with their grandmom, and we don’t feel any guilt. We wave cheery byes to our children, who are oblivious to our departure. They are enjoying junk food, and reveling in the joy of being totally spoiled by their grandmom.

We drive down to one of our favourite malls. We drive each other nuts by trying on hundreds of clothes, doing catwalks for each other; all the while catching up on family gossip, children, motherhood and other silly things that sisters talk about.

We reach a point where our arms hurt from all that exertion. We buy 2% of what we tried, but the satisfaction is enormous.

We need coffee. We need something to eat. And then, we find this small restaurant that has a skylight, and has huge stone slabs and steps that serve as tables and chairs. Multi-coloured cushions languish on various stones. Trees give us company. We order hot aloo paranthas and coffee. As we wait for the food, we soak in this place, this slice of heaven. Where, unbeknowst to ourselves, we’ve stopped talking.

We are immersed in our own thoughts. Life seems so simple and so uncomplicated in this quadrangle. A lazy bird chirps above us. Ants are busily climbing the walls.

Our food arrives. We relish it in silence. We are loathe to leave this peace, but real life beckons. We step out into the world, where people are rushing, vehicles are moving – nobody stops or pauses even for a second.

Fragrant pit stops


Last week, I had to rush quite early in the day to the supermarket for some supplies. Except for a few stores, most still had their shutters down. Even the escalators were asleep.

As my feet thud thudded down the escalator steps, the mouth watering smells of fresh baking came wafting up to greet me.

I stopped to inhale. Divine. Heavenly. As I went past the bakery, the baker waved out through the glass wall. I waved back and walked with a sudden spring in my step.

This morning, as I sat enjoying my coffee, the breeze brought the smell of incense sticks to me. It felt so soothing.

There are so many wonderful smells that greet us, but we have become oblivious to them, tangled as we are in the web of our busy schedules.

However, let it not be said that we have become oblivious to all smells. We do grimace when we smell something bad. We are ready to flap our hands and wave those smells away.

But do we ever stop to enjoy the lovely fragrances and smells that surround us?

Courtesy – http://www.123rf.com

The smell of freshly brewed coffee, the way the ground smells after the first drops of rain, the smell of freshly washed and sun-dried linen, the heavenly smells of spices blending as you walk past a neighbour’s home during dinner time (and when you try to guess what they are cooking), the smell of fresh grass, the smell of the breeze, the sudden joy of smelling a frangipani flower when you walk in the tropics, the smell of a baby, the smells of home…so many wonderful smells.

I vow to myself that I will try to stop and enjoy these simple pleasures more often.

Expressive lemur strikes a chord


It is a rainy day and we are at the zoo. There is a steady downpour. Our shoes make sloshing sounds in the water, throwing back drops of water on our trousers.

We walk around, looking at each enclosure. Most of the animals seem worn out by the rain. They are seated in their shelters. Some, like the hyena, continue to pace, back and forth, oblivious to the rain and the visitors.

We then move on to a series of inter-connected enclosures that house a few naughty monkeys and some ring-tailed lemurs.

In the first room, a fight seems to have erupted between the monkeys and two lemurs. They tease, chatter and chase each other frantically – up and down the branches.

The other ring tailed lemurs also watch this fight, their bodies braced for action. 

We smile and move on. The second room has a few lemurs, the loners, sitting by themselves.

When we reach the third room, we laugh out aloud, for seated all alone, right in the middle of the room is a lemur. Just look at his expression – 

We just love the look on his face. We wonder what he is trying to express.

Seems like he is saying, “Whatever!” 

This expression strikes a chord.

  • This is the expression I wear when I have not had my morning coffee.
  • This is the expression my children have when I narrate a joke that they find boring.
  • This is the expression when one has just finished a difficult exam.
  • This is the expression after a high-thrill ride you have been on (one that your children have forced you on..and you unknowingly said yes to!)
  • This is also me at the end of a long day.

I can relate to the lemur’s expression at many levels.

Bye little friend.

What time is coffee time?


My love affair with coffee did not start until my final year of high school. In our home, it was ok to drink coffee occasionally, but I remember smelling the coffee cup sometimes in my early teens, and grimacing in disgust.

I do not remember when or  how I came to love coffee. But I know that there was no looking back.  After that, any time was coffee time.  Strangely, coffee has also become an indicator of how healthy I am feeling on any particular day.  If I wake up in the morning and do not crave coffee, I know for a fact that I am coming down with something. 

Picture courtesy – Clipart Panda

I can wax eloquent about coffee,  but just thought I would jot down a few of my favourite coffee moments.

Coffee time is when I get back home after a long, tiring day of work.

Coffee time is ‘me-time’ in the quiet hours of the morning when I look within.

Coffee time is when it’s raining non stop and I sit on the couch and dream of everything and nothing.

Coffee time is also those hurried sips between chores on a chaotic morning.

Coffee time is catching up with friends on a lazy afternoon.

Coffee time is sharing some quality time with my spouse.

Coffee time is that ‘salivating time’ of anticipation when my filter starts percolating and the heady smell of coffee reaches my nostrils.

Coffee time is when my head is pounding and I know that only coffee will work that magic.

Coffee time is also trying to convince my son to smell coffee and become a member of the coffee club (right now he grimaces)….I am still working on him. 

Coffee time is family reunion time, after a wedding or engagement, when we gather for what we popularly call in the South – sweet, kaaram (spicy snack) and kaapi (coffee).

Coffee time is during picnics with friends, sipping from disposable glasses having lots of fun.

Coffee time is marathon catch-up sessions with my sisters..that stretch late into the night.

Coffee time is catching up with my mom, when I visit her.

Coffee time is …pure bliss.

Memory wiped clean


Certain combinations do not work well together. I am a self confessed obsessive compulsive cleaner; combine this with a dash of forgetfulness, and you have a crazy woman running around in a clean house looking for things.

Recently, we revamped our furniture. The kids are grown up and less likely to spill, soil or tear or doodle on the walls. All these years, our upholstery was in various shades of brown. Shades that effectively camouflaged chocolate and all other kinds of stains.

When our new furniture arrived, I put away everything and arranged all the pieces. A place for everything and everything in its place. Or so I thought.

This last week, I had to burn some music on a DVD. This was my last thought before I slept that night.  I put a reminder on my phone for 6 am in the morning.

When my phone reminded me, I walked straight to the cupboard where the blank DVDs are kept.

Unconsciously, I had gone to the place where the old cupboard containing the DVDs used to be.  In my state of semi-sleep, I was shocked. Where was the cupboard? It took a few seconds for the fog to clear. Oh yeah, new furniture and all that. I sighed in relief.

But then, a few seconds later I realized that I could not remember where I had kept the DVDs.

So opening and closing cupboards, the  crazy hunt began. So many things neatly organized, but no sign of the DVDs.  I had to go buy new ones.

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     Courtesy – http://www.openclipart.org

A few days later I found them safely tucked away, in a carton, with other cables and remote controls.

What’s to blame ? My cleaning skills or my memory. I decided to blame it on trying to start a day without coffee.

An Ode to my Dad


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This is a picture taken from my Dad’s notebook from 1959, where he meticulously wrote down things and quotations he found interesting.

This is an old post…it is now six years since my Dad passed away.  Felt like re-posting.

It is six years since my Dad passed away. He was there one moment, and gone the next.  Initial shock gave way to denial, and then a gradual acceptance; because this is the only truth, that whatever our journeys are, whatever our desires and goals, we all have to go some day.

Time, as they say, is the best healer.  We learn to move on by getting sucked back into the vortex of our lives.

But memories of my Dad tug at me from time to time. In bits and pieces, as audio files when I hear his voice, sometimes as movies, as I playback some incident from my childhood, sometimes in newspaper articles, sometimes in the words of another writer, I see my Dad.

My Dad, who used to hold my sister’s and my hands in each of his, as he dropped us at the bus stand, whistling to a small colorful bird that use to sit atop the electrical cables across the road.  My Dad would call out, and the bird would answer in return.  This was an important part of our morning routine.

My Dad, who taught us how to file a piece of paper by folding it just right, who insisted that we learn to type at an early age, who sketched my grand mom and aunt, sitting where he was, who meticulously copied quotations that he liked from magazines and newspapers into his spiral-bound notebooks, who took us on long walks and listened to our non-stop chattering patiently.

My Dad, a man of few words, with his fantastic sense of humour and lop-sided smile, a loving son who ensured that his mom’s supply of lozenges was always well-stocked, who spent time with his home-ridden sister to show how much he cared for her, who helped my mom around the house and whose punctuality put clocks to shame!

My Dad, who held a candle near the sewing machine, one whole night, when there was a power cut, as my mother sewed a dress for my school concert, with the monsoon winds howling under the door and rain lashing away at the windows.

My Dad, who taught us to love literature and music, who taught us to articulate ourselves clearly when we spoke or wrote.

My Dad, who taught us by example that it is not from money or material things, but from love and family that happiness is created and sustained.

My Dad, who respected every choice I ever made, and was always there to hug me, when things did not go as planned, who made coffee for me as I studied late into the night.

My Dad in his black blazer, going to work; trying his hand at cooking after retirement, humming under his breath, cleaning ‘this & that’ and chiding us gently, “A place for everything and everything in its place”.

My Dad, who I now see in myself, in my need to write, who I see in my son, as he uses his pencil to sketch, who I see in my sister’s walk and in my mom’s talk, as she has unconsciously picked up some of his mannerisms over the years.

His memories are beautifully woven into the fabric of our lives, forming patterns that connect us to him, in what we do, in how we walk and in how we try to live up to our fullest potential, because that was the only dream he had for each of us.

Love you, Dad.

Lunch


Wherever I go, I love observing people – especially in airports, railway stations, hotel lobbies, and in-flight. Each of these places is a different ecosystem by itself, where people from different walks of life converge for a certain period of time.

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This afternoon, my husband and I went out for lunch. We went to a popular restaurant in the vicinity.

We placed our order, and waited. My husband was busy on his phone, and I observed the people in the restaurant.

There was this family of three – husband, wife and a one-year old baby. The mom was trying to feed spoonfuls of baby food from a box, while the dad kept the child engaged. The Dad became an elephant, with a trunk and tried to snatch the baby’s food away, then he transformed into a lion and a horse. The baby gurgled and giggled, and finished her food. Each parent took turns to eat, while the other entertained the child. Been there, done it.

There was a man, who reviewed the menu for a good twenty minutes before he placed his order. I was curious to know what he ordered.

Then again, there was this man with his headphones connected and feet tapping, as he relished his lunch.

There was a group of college students, loud and cheerful, enjoying their lunch and friends’ company. Many delicious platters went past us to their table – a few sizzlers and many aromatic ones!

My tongue watered in anticipation. Our order seemed to take forever.  A tray filled with huge glasses of bright green slush went past. I wanted one of those. I wanted one of the sizzling platters too…but we’d already ordered, so I waited patiently.

Finally, our food arrived, and then my stomach and mouth took over, enjoying every mouthful. Different flavours and spices played different notes on my tongue. The food was amazing.

The table with the college students broke out into a birthday song for one of their friends, as candles were lit and wishes exchanged.

Looking out the window, I realized that the skies had opened up. We finished our lunch and settled down for a nice, hot cup of coffee.

A few people left, many arrived. More food, yummy smells. Melodious instrumental music played in the background.

I smiled. Another world, another ecosystem.