Watching TV with a new friend


It is late in the evening. And small silver stars are glittering far away on a deep purple sky. The moon is a thin sliver behind translucent clouds that are floating gently across the sky to places unknown.

Our balcony window is wide open. A cool breeze blows into our living room, where all of us are seated or sprawled, watching a show on Netflix. There are two main characters in the show, and two factions have developed. My daughter is on one side, while my husband and I are on the other. We keep teasing our daughter, and she rolls her eyes in exasperation.

And…then, all of a sudden, my daughter points at the balcony floor. A lizard is on the ledge between the balcony floor and the living room. It seems to be watching the show too!

Photo by NSU MON from Pexels

I think out aloud, “Maybe the lizard has had a long day like me, and is taking a breather by watching TV”.

I ask my husband what he thinks. And pat comes the reply…”Nothing, it is just a lizard”, and he goes back to watching the show.” Men!!!!

My daughter chips in, “Hey lizard, please get your own subscription… it is better not to watch TV with these two people”, and points us out to the lizard.

All of us burst out laughing. Each of us reacted to the lizard in our own way, by projecting our emotions on the lizard. And that’s how we see the world most times, as a reflection of our own state of mind.

As I walk around the house, checking doors and turning off the lights, I wish the lizard a good night.

The Family Fingerprint


In many Bollywood movies of the seventies and eighties, there was a recurring theme of children or twins, who were separated in childhood, and who were then reunited at the end of the film. Many situations in the film usually brought about this reunification, however, one of the main factors that helped in bringing the family back together was a ‘family song’. When the said children in the movie became adults, and attended a party or wedding, one sibling entertained people at the party by singing the family song…and the other sibling, who was also at the party, completed the lyrics and thus, the family was reunited.

In our home, there is this one song that all of us love, and I often joke that if one of us is ever lost, the others would have to sing this song, and we would all be reunited, just like in those movies of old.

This got me thinking. Just like this song, every family unit has its own family fingerprint.

Image courtesy – http://www.shutterstock.com

The family fingerprint is a crisscross of emotions, behaviour patterns, feelings and likes and dislikes that characterize each family. Every family has early risers and late-nighters, coffee lovers and tea lovers, bookworms and movie lovers, obsessive cleaners and clutterers. The family fingerprint also has strong threads of unconditional love, hugs and prayers that support all these idiosyncrasies.

If one were to code all these details, each family would have its own distinct biometric pattern. A bundle of quirks that bind us together in inexorable ways. That special identity, which alone gives us the strength to go out and face the world.

And right now, as we stay at home and spend more time together, this family fingerprint only gets quirkier. Another phase, so much to learn.

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.

The silly moments in our lives


When I switched on the television earlier this week, a song from an old Indian movie was playing. I smiled. The movie had a scene, where one of the main characters challenges some of other characters to touch their elbows with their noses.

I remember how all of us at home transformed into contortionists, and spent some time trying this out. We looked really silly, and had a hearty laugh afterwards.

Our lives abound with such moments.

My son specializes in creating huge soap bubbles with the palms of his hands. He works hard at this skill, and it gives him a lot of joy each time he creates a bigger bubble.

Both my husband and I have the ability to raise our eyebrows in quick succession. Our kids have not inherited this ability. So, on those rare lazy Sunday afternoons, when we spend time doing nothing as a family, we show off these skills.

Sometimes, when we all happen to be near the mirror at the same time, we make faces at the mirror! A family of silly faces.

Courtesy – shutterstock.com

Even as kids we did many silly things. I remember how, after petty squabbles with our friends, the word in our language to announce to them that you were no longer friends was kai, which translates to vegetable.

To become friends again, all we had to do was to show a thumbs-up sign and say pazham, which means fruit.

So, great friendships were broken and sealed merely by saying the words vegetable and fruit.

Life was that simple.

During our childhood, our Dad made rhythmic beat sounds with his mouth, when we sang songs. Only when my kids entered their teens did I realize that what my Dad did was called Beat Boxing. But at that time, it was merely some silly fun we shared as a family.

Even today, when we take selfies, we all make silly faces at the camera, capturing those beautiful memories digitally.

Every family has its own version of silly. Silly times are fun for the whole family – to showcase skills that would never be used in the ‘serious’ parts of our lives.

And that’s why these silly moments are important. Because we can let our guard down, act silly, and take ourselves less seriously for those few moments!

The Bulbul’s message


We are at my mom’s, enjoying our summer vacation. We have just had a sumptuous lunch. The children and their cousins are playing a board game in one of the bedrooms.

All the adults are seated or stretched out in the living room, as the day curtains billow in the cool breeze. Each time the curtains billow, one can see the green leaves of the trees outside, glistening in the bright, afternoon sun.

Most of us are trying not to sleep after that heavy lunch. We chat on and off, the pauses and silences are comfortable ones – those that belong to family, to love and to familiarity.

A sudden sweet bird song cuts through this family web.  There is a pause, and the bird song plays again.

My sister says, ” Someone’s got a message.”

Hands and bodies reach out to their phones, like the arms of an octopus.

Most people in the room say that the ring tone is not theirs. The bird sound continues.

We quickly discover that there is a ‘real’ Bulbul bird sitting on our balcony, singing away merrily. We gently move the curtains to watch this beautiful bird.
             

                   Picture courtesy – Wikipedia

How musical it sounds! How could we even mistake it for a ringtone?

We laugh uneasily. The Bulbul gave us an important message today. 

Maybe we should take more time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, those that are not in any way connected to technology or smartphones.

Family time


I don’t know about all of you, but when the members of my family try to get ready to step out of the house together, usually one of these things is likely to happen.

  1. Three members are out the door, while one is still not quite ready.
  2. And on the rare occasion that we are all miraculously out at the same time, one of us has to rush back inside to pick up a life-saving item like a book or a bit of paper or a cookie.
  3. One of the children always decides to wear his or her footwear only after we are inside the lift, doing a one-legged hip-hop dance (hopefully there is nobody else other than our family in the lift).
  4. A sibling war breaks out just before we leave the house, so the siblings are glowering at each other in the lift.

There are many more such things, but let’s stick to these four items to keep it simple.

So, four individuals, sometimes irritable, sometimes glowering, sometimes indifferent – manage to reach the car park.  Based on the mood before we leave home, there is a mad scramble for the seats at the rear, with each of my children marking his or her own territory; getting quite predator-like in their behaviour.

Image result for family time car drive clipart

My husband and I get in, busy with our own thoughts.  As the car leaves the condo, the gentle swish of the air-conditioner sweeps the car, and teases our faces.  We watch the world outside flit past, trees, joggers, cyclists, mothers with prams, and many more.

My son takes the phone, and plays some lovely music.  There’s Billy Joel, Cold Play, One Direction, A.R.Rahman and many more.  The melodious music wraps all of us together.  We smile, and enjoy the drive, our petty irritations and squabbles completely forgotten.

 

Sibling tales #1


This is a story that happens in every family. When the entire family is heading out, there is always one person who is either looking for his/her missing socks or shoes or smartphone, while the rest of the family is standing at the door, simmering or annoyed or yelling or indifferent to this person.

The story is pretty much the same every time, but the character, who is late, keeps changing.

It happened in our home this morning too!

My husband, daughter and I were already in the living room, waiting for the youngest member, my son.

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Courtesy – http://www.123rf.com

My daughter’s irritation peaked, as my son, totally oblivious to all of this continued to belt out a song.

My daughter muttered under her breath.

When I asked her, she said, “He always delays us. He is always late…”

I asked her, “Have you never caused a delay? Hmmm?”

Pat came her reply , “Of course I have not.”

I asked her, “Since when?”

She replied, “From this moment.”

“Very funny”, I said, rolling my eyes.

At that moment my son joined us, still crooning. Business as usual. We managed to leave without a full blown war.

Ludo, digitally!


The kids are super excited that their father and I have joined them for a game of Ludo. We are a little rusty but quickly reacquaint.
There’s a huge difference, we are playing Ludo digitally on the tablet. We get started…the first thing that hits me is that there is no dice to roll, the application does all the hard work. Cleverly positioning the dice on the board, while appearing to roll it, is no longer possible. No scrambling on all fours to look for the dice that has rolled under the sofa.

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The kids are very enthusiastic….razor sharp observers..every move is planned and executed. Maybe it is age; or maybe it is a dulling of the competitive streak within me, but I am very passive in my play.
However, the children more than make up for it. They boo, they clench their fists, wish the worst for their sibling, cross their fingers & toes ….all wishing for that magical 6 or 4 or 1 that they want.
My shoulders silently shake in mirth. I can picture this scene 30 years ago, as my sisters and I bayed for each others’ blood, even for these simple board games. My daughter catches me laughing…her irritation peaks.
My son has assumed two Avatars for this game, the first is that of an aggressor…out to vanquish his sister; the second as a protector of his innocent mom, who he feels is so innocent as to require saving from the wily moves of the other players. He sacrifices a move to protect my coin, his sister smirks…’oh, how kind you are’! My son holds my hand reassuringly and glares at her.
The game goes on…they swear that they will not speak to each other. The winner does a victory dance, the other heaps curses…business as usual. The house is silent..the children are not talking to each other.

The next day…they are at a loose end, ego is sacrificed as they sign a truce and the game starts again.

Morning madness


When my children and I step out of the house at 8.30 a.m. everyday, we look like every other family, all polite smiles and greetings.

If anyone had stepped in to our home, just ten minutes before this, they would have seen our ‘morning madness’.

It’s like a classic Maths problem. Family N has 35 minutes in which to get ready. Family N has 4 members. Each member needs to complete 6 tasks within the 35 minutes, and share resources. What is the most efficient way of doing this…?

I am still looking for answers to this one. Add a yelling mom to this combination (whom no one listens to anyway) and things get crazier.

Believe me, I have tried to be the type of mom who is calm and composed, who can smile and get things done, but….

So, this morning, it was business as usual and the usual yelling and squabbles were on. There was a hunt on for a school worksheet, the bathroom door was repeatedly knocked-on and…you get the drift.

In my sternest voice, I had issued a deadline to my son. When I went to check on him ten minutes later, I was on the boil. He was standing on the balcony, without a care in the world. His face was turned to the Sun, with a smile. He stretched like a cat and closed his eyes and looked up at the sky. He moved his neck from side to side, touched the hibiscus plant, stretched some more and watched the birds and trees.

The yell that was about to erupt from my throat stopped midway, as I saw his smile. He was at peace, and enjoying a few minutes of quiet with nature, a few minutes where he probably dreamt of nice things.

Who was I to take those precious joys away? I felt calm and walked away. Surprisingly, my son was ready on time.

What’s the rush? Maybe there’s a lesson in here somewhere that I have to learn.

Kids and what they say


Children are so influenced by how we adults talk, the way we gesture, the way we modulate our voices and the way we behave.

It is fun to hear them unconsciously behave like their parents or older siblings by observing them on a daily basis.

One such funny incident comes to mind, as told to me by a friend.

We Indians are cricket crazy and when some exciting matches are being played, the whole family sits and follows the match closely. With lots of food and some full-throated yelling, it is no surprise that the young kids in the family also get caught up in all this excitement.

On one such day as my friend’s family sat and watched a rather exciting match, which had a nail-biting finish that saw India winning, a little boy in the family, who was all of 4 years old said, “I haven’t seen such a thrilling match in my entire life”.

Four years…a lifetime indeed! All the adults burst out laughing.