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….!

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The afternoon mystery parcel…


My day is usually crazy till around two in the afternoon. By then, my batteries need recharging.

By 2 pm, my mind slowly starts switching off, and my eyes start crossing, as words on my computer start blurring. That is when I head to take a power nap.

My power nap usually does not last more than thirty minutes, but if I do not get my quota for the day, meet me at your own risk.

Image courtesy – Cartoonstock.com

Immediately after my power nap, I have a nice strong cup of filter coffee; and I am then ready to take on the rest of the day, the children’s arrival from school, cooking, writing, household chores and the hundred other things that one needs to do!

However, in the last month, the schedule for my afternoon power naps has gone awry. The reason for it is quite simple.

Between 2 and 3 pm every afternoon, the door bell rings, and a mystery parcel arrives by courier. I sign and take the package, keep it on the side table, and try to go back to ‘power nap mode’.

But, if there are any afternoon-nappers around, you would all agree with me that if a power nap is interrupted, one can never go back to that zone again!

These mystery parcels are the result of my husband’s sudden interest in and realization of the ease and convenience of online shopping.

Sometimes, the mystery parcel is as small as a match box, sometimes it is big and fluffy. Being rudely awakened by the door bell on most afternoons as I am, I don’t even bother opening the packages. I leave them for when my husband gets back.

Yesterday afternoon, three different packages arrived. When my husband got back, I pointed them out to him and sighed, saying that it was a nuisance to receive so many packages.

He took two of the three parcels and asked me to open them. One was a connector cable for my laptop that I had said I needed, as the old one was not working properly.

The other package turned out to be a zoom lens of the clip-on variety for my smartphone to help me pursue my passion in flower photography! This second one was a surprise gift for me.

I think I may just have to train myself to push my power nap to later in the afternoon, when the gentle rustling of leaves, and the rhythmic call of the cuckoo bird will lull me to sleep; where I will dream of parcels that may hold more surprise gifts for me!!!

Not so remote problems


The afternoon sun pours into the living room, leaving long streaks of gold on the floor. The flowers in the vase on my coffee table sway gently in the breeze.

Everything seems peaceful, but I am not. I am repeatedly clicking my tongue in exasperation. “Why?” you ask.

I have problems with my remote, remotes rather!

I have an elegant remote-holder next to me, on a side table. It overflows with remotes that help us stay entertained, with movies, soaps and lovely music.

Each device has a remote, and there is a ‘universal remote’, who’s the boss!

All’s well when all these remotes are behaving well. However, it’s not always like this, is it?

So, I have decided to watch a short film that was recommended by a friend.

Despite the latest gadgets surrounding me, I have to now battle with the remotes. Of late, the remotes have become quite rebellious.

The main TV remote has to be directed at the TV screen for a continuous period of 5 seconds, with the power button pressed, for the TV to sense it. It was not always like this. It used to be a good remote. We changed batteries, tried hitting it on the palm of the hand (isn’t that the universal cure for faulty remotes?) and also pleaded with it to work.

But this is the way it behaves now!

Our next remote is the smart remote for the smart TV. All is well here, except that something keeps rattling inside the remote. And ever since the rattling started, the ‘forward/right’ button has stopped working.

Courtesy – Openclipart

The one good thing in all this is that some of the features of these two remotes overlap!

Which means that before I start watching the short film, I have to use the ‘point me for 5 seconds before you see a flicker remote’ to switch on the TV.

I then use ‘the not so smart remote’ to click on youtube. I then navigate with the pointer on the mouse to reach the magnifying lens, which is the symbol for the search function.

If only it would point and click. Instead, the arrow runs wild on the screen, as if playing a game of hide and seek. I click in exasperation, as the pointer disappears from the screen.

I have to do it manually now. The right arrow on the not so smart remote does not work, I use the up, down and left arrows to reach ‘search’. Phew!

At this point, the naughty pointer arrow is back from its break! The system opens up a keyboard for me to type-in my choice.

I move left, up, down with one remote, then switch to the second remote, where 5 seconds are wasted before each letter is selected, then back to the other remote!

And this crazy thing goes on for two to three minutes, and I whoop for joy as the short film finally gets loaded.

“We have to get these serviced,” I mutter to myself, as I become one with the characters and their lives; and at this time, my problems seem remote!!!

10000 steps in Kaziranga


We are shivering in the morning cold in Kaziranga. We are on pins to get started on the Elephant Safari that will take us through the thick bushes and grasslands, to see the famed One-horned Indian Rhino.

Nearly a hundred people await the arrival of 32 elephants. The sun has started its journey across the sky; the early morning mist is slowly clearing.

Soon, the four of us are on our elephant, a beautiful and majestic creature. ‘Tara’ is her name, which translates to star.

Our Mahout has been with Tara for nearly 15 years. Man and elephant are one. He gently prods Tara into the grasslands, as she stops to pull out grass with her trunk, on and off.

We soon see the beautiful One-horned Indian Rhino, majestic, graceful; and oblivious to all of us. Some of them busy chomping down their breakfast, while some others are staring away into the distance.

Enroute we also see deer, jungle fowl, eagles and huge water buffaloes.

We enjoy the safari thoroughly and get back to base, after two hours in the grasslands.

We are famished, and get back to the hotel and settle down to a heavy breakfast and many cups of hot Assam Tea.

As we prepare to get back to our room, I casually glance at my phone.

My pedometer shows 14550 steps walked, and the day had barely started. I am puzzled. My first reaction is that the App has stopped working.

I try walking with the phone, and the App updates the steps taken just like it always does.

Aha…..then it strikes me, the pedometer has also counted the steps taken by Tara, our dear elephant.

I laugh out aloud, and realize that my 10000 steps for the day are yet to begin.

Shopping Basket Philosophy


I am standing in line at the billing counter in the supermarket. I have left my phone behind at home, and feel that I am missing an integral part of myself.

With nothing to swipe or refresh or read, I look around; my eyes taking in the bright displays, and the stacks of biscuits and chocolates and bottled water and potato wafers and moisturizers and tissues and cream bottles.

My eyes take in the contents of the shopping basket of the person standing in line before me – it has canned drinks, potato wafers and a loaf of bread. My brain immediately arrives at the conclusion that this person is young, maybe a student, looking forward to an evening filled with some school work, fun, watching TV or going out with friends. I am envious!

My eyes travel across the aisle to the adjacent billing counter. I see the contents of another shopping bag. Baby food, a good dose of veggies, eggs, bread and milk.

Young mother!

Then I look at my own shopping bag. Vegetables and more vegetables, band-aid, bread, tissues, milk, biscuits, snacks, cleaning supplies, pasta, wraps…! Hmmm, a mother stocking up and trying to avoid another trip to the super market soon!

Image Courtesy – http://www.123rf.com

When I was a kid, the only equation that I had with the shopping baskets my parents carried was to keep track of the little paper bag of candies or chocolates, which my parents bought for us every week. Everything else in the bag was irrelevant.

I see it now with my kids. They keep a hawk-like watch on what they have bought, sometimes totally oblivious to everything else.

The contents of our shopping basket reflect the stage of life we are in. Each shopping basket has a story to tell!

For example, why has the lady behind me loaded three baskets with fruit? I start speculating – is she going to make jam or fruit preserve or juice? Has she bought them to gift someone or is it for a celebration of some sort!!!

I look at her, she smiles and nods.

I move up the line. Very soon, I checkout, pick up my bags and head homeward – back to my children, and the realities of school assignments and deadlines, cleaning and planning.

My shopping basket theory takes a back seat, as I empty my bags, and grapple with everyday issues of putting away the shopping, and planning what to cook tomorrow!

Wisdom from 150 Beans!


I am flipping the pages of one of my handwritten recipe books. The book is yellowed – with both age and stains from the kitchen; from having balanced the book near the cooking pot or from having turned the pages with hands coated with dough or turmeric powder or a hundred other ingredients.

Against each recipe is a small note in my handwriting, which rates how the recipe turned out.

This book has recipes from my grandma, my mom, my mother in law and my dad’s sister.

Today, I can stand in front of the stove, and estimate the quantities of ingredients mentally, I can gauge by the aroma, if all is well. Skills that have been acquired over many years.

But there was a time when I was a novice cook, navigating the world of recipes with precise measurements and quantities. Life in the kitchen revolved more around the science of cooking rather than its creative side. My tools were a set of measuring bowls and spoons.

I remember one evening, when we had a potluck dinner with our friends. I had to prepare a vegetable side dish for around 40 people.

I used this very same recipe book then. However, I had scrawled down the ingredients and quantities, but had not written down how many people the recipe could serve.

Then began the complicated math. The recipe said 2 carrots, 15 French Beans, 3 tomatoes, 1 onion and so on. To me this seemed like the quantity for around 4 to 5 people.

Being an expert at the math of cooking, I multiplied the quantities by 10 to serve 40 people. When I wrote my new quantities down, the 150 beans seemed out of place………..and thus it began – my journey towards learning that cooking is more about intuition, and less about precise quantities.

Courtesy – http://www.123rf.com

It has taken me many years and many errors to get here. There have been times that the dishes looked good but tasted anything but! Then again, there were dishes that crumbled, but tasted delicious.

It has been a long and enjoyable journey. Today, as I stand in front of the stove, I add salt and spice with practiced ease, I can see and tell, smell and diagnose what is right or wrong. I am a better judge of quantities.

After all, it is the wisdom acquired from 150 beans.

Smart Charades


My mobile phone rings, and its call is insistent. I drop what I am doing to pick up the call. It is an important call, and I settle down with pen and paper, jotting down notes, and doodling unconsciously, eyebrows furrowed and shoulders hunched forward, my concentration absolute.

Image courtesy – fotosearch.com

A few minutes into the call, I sense rather than see a presence. A momentary lapse of attention, and I refocus. In another minute, the presence becomes palpable, I look up to see my son waving at me.

And then the game begins. A game that has its own unique rules. A game that I call the Smartkids game. I am sure that most parents are familiar with this game – maybe each of us plays different variants, but the basic game goes something like this.

The parent is on an important call. The child now tries to sneak-in a request to do something that he or she would normally not be allowed to do, when the parent’s attention is fully focused on them.

So, back to my call. My son waves. I wave back, and I signal that I am on a call, as he can see. The game of dumb charades begins.

My son signals for permission to play games on the iPad.

I shake my head and mouth a ‘no’. He has already used up his quota for the day.

He shows his ten fingers and the clock. 10 minutes and makes a pleading expression.

My eyes roll an exasperated NO in capital letters, bold font!

I am trying to keep my wits about me – to hold my telecon together.

My son goes away, but he is back with a pen and notepad. He writes, “Please, at least 5 minutes.”

I scribble a hasty big NO, font size 72.

Another PLEASE…and I am teetering on the brink of an eruption.

I stand up, and with violent hand gestures, and rolling eyes, I signal a final DECISIVE NO.

I can picture myself, trying to hold a sane conversation on the one hand and trying to play a rather difficult version of dumb charades on the other.

My son shrugs and frowns. He walks away. My call ends at the same time.

Game over. Phew! I have lost a few rounds in the past, but now I know how it works

My son knows that there will be other calls on other days, when I will falter and give in.