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.

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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.

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”.

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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.

Monsters that hiss


I am in a deep sleep; deep in dreamland, deep in nothingness, totally oblivious to the evening that has just passed or to the day that is about to break in a few hours. And in that transition period, when today has not yet passed the baton to tomorrow, I am suddenly being shaken awake.

Completely disoriented, I wish the person away, whoever it is. In a few minutes, my head clears a little, and I can hear panic in my daughter’s voice.

“Amma, Amma, wake up”, she says in a whisper that is also strangely shrill.

I groan in irritation. “What is it?” I ask, dragging the words from my sleepy brain.

She says with some urgency, “There is something in my room that is hissing.”

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I am jolted-awake now. Hi…ssss…ing? My brain, though, is slow to react. My daughter repeats it and insists that I come to inspect.

“I heard it twice”, she says. I get out of bed and tie my hair up into a tight little knot. This somehow gives me the energy and the strength to find the source of the hissing monster in our house.

On the way out of the bedroom, I turn back and see my husband, happily asleep. I tell my daughter that we will wake him up as well, one more member to the team.

Why should I be the one to hunt down hissing monsters late at night? I prod him awake. Nothing. I tell him about the hissing. He mumbles and says something incoherent, with his eyes partly open.

I prod him again. But he has already dropped off.

Well, I am irritated now. This irritation preps me to track down the source of the hissing. I march to my daughter’s room and carefully inspect her table and the areas near the window, from where she says she heard the hissing. Nothing, nothing at all.

And, just then, both of us hear a loud hiss from the table.

I burst out laughing. The hiss was from a brand-new automated air freshner that pumps out a fragrant spray at preset intervals.

My husband and I had set these air-fresheners up in all our bedrooms just that evening, and we had forgotten to inform our daughter.

“Amma, you know how scary that was?” She says laughing with relief, and also at the absurdity of this late night sojourn.

I turn off the freshener, and walk back to my room, still irritated that I was the one who had to go looking for hissing snakes at night.

The next morning, my daughter and I share details of our midnight adventure with my husband and son. My husband then says, “I told you last night that it was the air-freshener”.

Ahhh…that was the mumbling we heard. I roll my eyes.

Soon, my kids leave for school. My husband is about to leave. He goes to the bedroom to wear his tie. I follow him, and start making the bed.

His back is to the dressing table, and suddenly there is a hiss, and he jumps, startled.

That was air-freshener number two.

I laugh.

The look on my husband’s face – priceless!

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!!!

A slice of family history


Thanks to messaging apps and social networks, families and friends have come closer. There is a joy in reconnecting with cousins, aunts and uncles, and knowing that you are family.

This afternoon, on my husband’s maternal cousins’ group, I saw a few photographs. Some of the cousins had visited the family’s ancestral home, and the village temple nearby.

The house, though occupied by other people, has stood the test of time – teakwood staircases and doorways, and lots of memories.

As I saw the photographs, my husband casually mentioned that he was born there, in that house. While I knew that he was born in that small village, I had not made the connection to the house.

That transformed the way I looked at the pictures. This was a part of our family history. My imagination soared.

Then I imagined how my husband would have walked up and down these wooden stairs on chubby legs, being chased by an aunt or his mom; how he would have played with cousins and watched the hens clucking in the yard. The home had a barn, where there was a beautiful cow named Radhamani, who was loved and cherished by all the family members. After my husband’s parents moved to the city, most school holidays were spent in this house.

Four other cousins were also born in the same house. Lots of stories and memories there.

I only know the husband I met nearly two decades ago, but starting from the ancestral home he was born in, and the lovely family who surrounded him, there were so many factors that have made him the person he is today.

It was nice listening to interesting family anecdotes, and to realize that there was a time, when my husband and I led independent lives, unbeknownst to each other.

Wardrobe Woes of an Indian Woman


One of the biggest challenges of being an Indian woman is the lack of wardrobe space. I know that women from around the world have this problem, however the wardrobe woes of an Indian woman are compounded by the fact that we are spoilt for choice in terms of the sheer variety of clothes we get to wear – from sarees, ghagra cholis, anarkalis, salwar kameezes, churidhars and skirts, to Western wear!

Add to this equation the simple fact that there are hundreds of types of stunning sarees from different parts of the country to choose from; sarees that are vibrant and rich in their texture, material, designs and hues. These sarees are ‘must haves’ to ring in the hundreds of festivals we celebrate.  Throw in accessories and all the other types of clothes – both Indian and Western, and you can begin to understand our problem.

So, this morning my dear husband calls me to express his annoyance about how he has very little space for his ‘few’ (he stresses this for effect) striped, checked and plain shirts in various shades of grey, blue, white and ‘pale’. There are a few splashes of colour from his T shirts that offer some visual relief.

I go over to inspect. I try to look sympathetic but fail miserably. Instead, I feel guilty. I have encroached into two racks in his wardrobe, my ‘better’ bags and clutches rest there in comfort, while a few new sarees nestle in the other rack. I honestly tried to fit them into my wardrobe, but the sarees kept falling out!


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He rolls his eyes in exasperation. Wardrobe space is like prime real estate! But how else can I organize my wardrobe with all the clothes and accessories? “Some kind of encroachment is inevitable”, I justify.

 These things do get aggravated when I go shopping during the holiday season. My hubby looks firm. My mind wants to offer to remove some of my stuff, but my heart worries about where I can find space.

He says, “You should start purging the old stuff.”

But that’s the point. Sarees, especially the silks, get better with time. I do not reply.

He is in a hurry. He says, “Do something about this.”

I nod meekly. My wardrobe woes continue.

Music & Lemon Bee hoon


Yesterday, I happened to hear a song from a new Bollywood film, and was hooked!  I played it repeatedly, and needless to say, the song stayed with me through the day and into the night.

This morning, as my husband sat down to have his breakfast of Lemon Bee hoon, the song lodged itself in my brain again.  I told my husband about the song, and played it for him.

Morning craziness being what it is, I soon got busy with my chores and went looking for the ten-odd things that go missing every morning – read socks, notebooks and paper ….sigh!

When I got back to the table, I asked my husband (about the Lemon bee hoon), “Did you like it?’

And he replied, “It’s okay. Nothing great about it.” (about the song).

“Is it really that bad, does it lack salt or should I add more lemon?” I asked, feeling quite deflated.

My husband’s eyes widened in surprise, when he realized that we had been talking about different things.

“Oh…did you ask about the Bee hoon? It’s very good!” he said.

I smiled.

The same song has come roaring back into my head again.  This one will play itself out in my head till the next song gets in.  And till then, this song will always remind me of Lemon Bee hoon.