Grandmom’s treat


Gone are those days when summer holidays with cousins meant dinner in the backyard, near the well, which every home had. The area around the well usually had a cement floor, in one corner of which was a washing stone to wash clothes. Each home usually had a few coconut trees, and maybe some mango or neem trees.

Dinner with cousins was a fun time, when we would all sit in a semicircle around an aunt or grandma, who would have premixed sambar rice or curd rice in a huge vessel, which she would then pass into each of our cupped hands. We would each have a banana leaf with some vegetable or pickle or papads as accompaniment(s) to the main rice dish.

We would laugh, exchange jokes and talk animatedly as we gobbled up all the yummy food that was given to us.

Cut to the present. We are at my mom’s and my kids and all their cousins of various ages are excitedly making plans for dinner. They decide that dinner with cousins equals pizza. They are soon deeply engrossed in the wide variety of toppings and crust fillings – vociferously debating the merits and demerits of each. The order is finally placed, and soon all of them vanish into their virtual worlds.

My mom, who was busy with her chores when the pizza conversation happened, comes to know about the pizza plans only after she has made her aromatic rasam and has started prepping vegetables for dinner.

When the pizzas are delivered, my mom brings her rasam and leaves it on the table. She tells her grandchildren that they can have the rasam like a soup if they want.

The aroma of melted cheese, bell peppers, olives and all things pizza waft around our home. We sniff appreciatively. The kids go berserk. This is their version of our ‘childhood dinners by the well’ story. The topics of conversation are so different. They talk about memes and their favourite shows and references from these shows. But the camaraderie is the same.

Once the pizzas vanish, my son fills a small bowl with my mom’s rasam. He sits down on the couch and takes a sip. He smacks his lips and slurps the next spoon. “Wow, grandma, this is simply delicious”, he exclaims!!

This is cue enough for the other cousins. All of them fill cups of rasam and sit down to slurp noisily, relishing the taste and sharing silly jokes, while reveling in their grandmom’s love. My mom watches them, a smile playing on her face.

My sisters and I reminisce about the passage of time. As we walk down memory lane, our kids are busy creating their own memories for the future.

Couple goals


It is eight in the morning and I realize that I have slept-in. I get out of bed, wash up and walk lazily to the kitchen to wish my mom a good morning.

My mom greets me with a cheery good morning and makes frothy filter coffee for both of us. We head back to the living room to sit down, enjoy our coffee and have our first chat of the day; chats that can be silly or profound and chats that can easily slide into blissful and comfortable silences too!

But today is different. As we sit down, I exclaim loudly, “Amma, look the monkeys are back.”

We take our coffee cups and head to the balcony window and watch in silence. There are two monkeys, husband and wife perhaps, sharing the joys of a beautiful morning. They are seated on the balcony’s grill, facing away from us.

As we continue to watch, they gradually turn to face each other. As we watch they bend and touch their heads together. A beautiful moment, where no words are needed. Maybe they are sharing a beautiful secret, maybe they have just fallen in love, maybe they are reliving nostalgic memories……!

And in just a few minutes, one hugs the other rather protectively. The sun has slowly started its ascent across the sky, but our monkeys stay put for nearly an hour, enjoying the morning, enjoying each other’s company and revelling in their love for each other.

My mom and I look at each other and smile. What a lovely way to start the day!!

Mooo….


The curtains in my sister’s living room are billowing in the strong breeze and my niece comes running towards me, giggling at the sight. She buries her head in my lap and exclaims that the curtains are funny. Her smile and enthusiasm are infectious. I giggle too!

Just as quickly as she came to me, she now runs away to play with her toys. She is soon back with something hidden behind her back.

“See what I’ve got Pemma (mom’s older sister)”, she says. She slowly brings her hand in front to show me a cow puppet which she is wearing.

She asks me, “Do you know what this is?” I tell her that it’s a cow. “Good”, she says.

Wanting to impress my niece with my mimicry skills, I lower my voice and moo to her cow in my best voice, “Hello cow…moooo how are you?”

I ask her cow to reply. Pat comes the response, “Pemma, it’s just a puppet, it cannot talk”. Hmmm. I quickly change back to my normal voice, feeling silly and also grateful that I did not have an audience to watch my enthusiastic performance!!!

Three long years


It’s been three years since we travelled to meet our family. Three years where family emotions and bonds ran on the fuel of video calls and texts, spilling laughter and many tears along the way.

We are finally here, at home, reunited with parents and siblings, nieces and nephews.

We visit all the rooms in our home, reacquainting ourselves with the simple yet delightful pleasures of the smells, the shapes and the textures of its various nooks and corners.

There is a big void in my father-in-law’s room. It feels strange that he is no longer a part of our lives, regaling his grandchildren with humourous anecdotes and keeping them entertained with many stories. A small smile plays on his lips as he observes us now from the confines of a photo frame.

The aroma of shallot sambhar flirts with our nostrils, as super soft idlis get steamed in the kitchen. My husband steps out of the house and comes back in a few minutes with piping hot, golden and crisp medu vadas that have been fried to perfection. The vadas rest on a square piece of banana leaf and are accompanied by a generous helping of coconut chutney.

These vadas have been an integral part of our breakfast ritual over the years on all our trips back home, lovingly carried out by my father-in-law. As we tuck-in, we feel his presence and hear his voice asking us to eat more.

So much has changed over the last three years, yet some things don’t seem to have changed – giving us hope for the future while still connecting us to the wonderful memories of the past.

The bigger half


I open the beautiful gift box, not knowing what to expect. My eyes light up in sheer delight and my face breaks into a big smile.

Inside the gift box are two smaller, rectangular boxes. One box is filled to the brim with a South Indian savoury called ‘mixture’ and the second box is filled with perfectly golden yellow boondi laddus, a sweet delicacy.

The gift is from the mother of one of my dear friends. My friend’s mom has made them for me. I feel so happy and touched to have received such a special gift. I thank my friend’s mom, and carefully store the boxes in the kitchen cupboard.

Boondi laddus were an integral part of my growing up years. My mom would always prepare this sweet during Deepavali, or to mark the various milestones in our lives. Memories of perfectly fried golden boondis come rushing into my mind now and make me nostalgic.

Later in the day, when I head to the kitchen to have my afternoon cup of coffee, I find my husband pottering around the kitchen. He grins and asks me where I have put away the ‘mixture’ and the boondi laddus.

I show him where they are. Soon, we tuck into yummy spoonfuls of crunchy ‘mixture’ with our coffee.

My husband then opens the laddu box. He asks me, “Do you want one?” I ask him if he would share a laddu with me? He agrees, albeit reluctantly, as he wants to eat one whole laddu all by himself. He takes one out and breaks it into two.

He asks me which piece I want. I say, “The bigger half.” He says, “How can there be a bigger half? You mean the bigger piece, don’t you?”

I have no time to answer, as I have already popped the laddu into my mouth, and relish the feeling of the crumbling boondi, the raisins and the cashewnuts. My husband’s expression mirrors mine. The laddus are simply delicious!

We look at each other and smile. “Another one?” we say in unison. We look like guilty children as we pop another one into our mouths!!

The first soup


My son comes into the kitchen with his usual refrain, “Is there anything interesting to eat?” I point at the fruit basket, the biscuit tin and at some jars with Indian savouries. “So boring”, he says.

And like a predator he walks around the kitchen, scouring every cupboard and the refrigerator for ‘interesting food’.

His eyes fall on some packets of instant soup. His eyes light-up and he asks “Could I have some soup?”

I am busy preparing lunch and ask him to be patient. But he nags me. I give in when he says he will make the soup himself; his first attempt at cooking anything in the kitchen. I have no problem with that.

He stands next to me and reads the instructions multiple times. He hires me to be his assistant and asks me for measuring cups and ladles. I sigh and agree, albeit reluctantly.

With his phone next to him, he stirs the soup as if it were a magic potion while following instructions perfectly. “Continue stirring till the soup comes to a boil and then keep on simmer for 2 minutes”, he reads out aloud.

He constantly asks me to check the soup’s consistency. When I pronounce that it looks ready to be served, he looks at the instructions and realizes he has 30 seconds left. He continues stirring with his eyebrows furrowed in concentration.

Finally, he switches off the gas and transfers the soup into three soup bowls. My husband and I have the first spoonfuls.

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

And before we can say anything, our son announces, “It’s perfect”, with his eyes closed and his head turned upward, as if he had made the soup from scratch. His smile of satisfaction is priceless. “I am happy”, he announces.

My husband and I nod in agreement. More than the taste of the soup, we enjoyed watching our son go through the process, and his apparent delight. He has now taken on the role of ‘instant soup maker’ at home!!

Scissor, Paper, Stone


My husband and I are seated in a restaurant. As we await our food, my husband reads the news while I attempt to complete a game of Kakuro that I had begun earlier. My stomach growls in hunger, as my mind feebly attempts to fill-in the various numbers in the fast blurring grid.

Suddenly a sweet and shrill voice sings, “Scissor, paper, stone”. I look up and see a little girl of about seven, who is seated across the aisle with her family. Her voice is so musical and brings a smile to every face. But the girl is oblivious to all the attention. She is engrossed in playing the game with her little brother. The siblings play with one hand and keep score with the other hand. The game progresses at a rapid pace – amicably at times and with some typical squabbling at other times.

Soon, the kids stop playing and start eating. They ask their parents for chocolate milkshake! I notice that they have been told to share a glass of milkshake. Each sibling has been given a straw.

Photo by Anastasia Ilina-Makarova from Pexels

I am curious now. If my kids had been in a similar situation they would have argued about how they would split the milkshake.

The sister, who is the older of the siblings, seems to be in command. She measures with her finger, and makes a few lines on the outside of the glass where water drops have condensed. Then she tells her brother to drink the milkshake. When the level reaches the first line, she asks him to stop. It is her turn now. They take turns to drink, as the sister carefully monitors the situation.

I am in awe of her ingenuity and at how efficiently she seems to have managed the process of sharing! The kids go back to playing their game and I go back to grappling with those elusive numbers.

I suddenly yearn for those times with my children when they were younger; when they would play such games and kick each other under the table at restaurants, or laugh at the silliest of jokes and make weird faces at each other. The years seem to have flown past. But for a short while there, we had an opportunity to relive the past.

And as our food finally arrives, the siblings and their parents leave the restaurant. I laugh when I see that their tiny fingers are still keeping the scores for their Scissor, paper, stone game.

The long wait


The golden rays of the sun stream into the house on this cold, winter morning. She goes around the house with a spring in her step and a smile on her face. She checks all the rooms and ensures that the fresh linen sheets are tucked-in perfectly. She pauses in front of her daughter’s room. Her eyes mist over.

Had two years really flown by?

But she quickly snaps out of her reverie, and walks to the dining table. She checks all the dishes and smiles when see sees the extra place setting. She hugs herself in excitement.

In just a few minutes, her husband calls to tell her that they would reach in a few minutes. She opens the main door and waits. Soon, there is a flurry of movement and the loud babble of excited voices all around.

Her eyes search and stop, not on her daughter’s face, but on the little baby she holds in her arms. Her heart melts as she sees her grandson for the first time.

She is overcome by emotion, as she carries her grandson and immerses her face in his soft and cuddly baby skin. What a long wait it had been! The pandemic had made all of them miss out on so much. But the important thing was that they were here now. She would make the most of it.

After a grand family lunch and lots of laughter and a few tears, her daughter and son-in-law head to their bedroom to catch a few winks. She spends the afternoon playing with her adorable grandson.

And she suddenly remembers. She opens the bedroom cupboard to take out an old stuffed Teddy bear that had belonged to her daughter. She also pulls out a knitted sweater that her daughter had worn as a baby. She had washed and kept them ready a few days ago.

She gently eases the sweater over her grandson’s head. He looks at her with his big eyes, and time stops for a moment, for he looks exactly like her daughter had done at that age.

Wearing her daughter’s sweater!

He picks up the Teddy bear and holds an animated conversation with it. The Teddy bear seems to have lost an eye, but listens to the babbling of her grandson in rapt attention. The wise old bear seems to understand every word!

The wise old Teddy bear!

She draws both her grandson and the Teddy bear into a big embrace. She is content today, as the memories of the past meld seamlessly with the present – when time seems to have both stopped and moved on at the same time.

Mom – Things to do – #…..


My daughter lives in a different time zone these days. What this means is that – as a mom – I have a new item added to my things to do list! If I told you what the task is, you would laugh and say, “But that’s so easy.”

I agree. The task is that I have to wake my daughter up on the days she tells me to. Simple right? Just before she sleeps she drops a message on our family group, asking us to give her a wake up call.

So, as a good mom, I set an alarm on my phone with reminders to back it up. At the appointed hour, and when my alarm goes off, I promptly call my daughter.

Photo by Krivec Ales from Pexels

The phone rings for a while and then I hear my daughter’s voice from the deep recesses of her blanket. “Hi, mom”, she says.

And then there is silence. The video of my daughter’s phone faces the ceiling and I talk to the ceiling. “Are you awake?” There’s a small grunt (or did I just imagine that!)

I keep talking and virtually prod her to wake up. After a while, I give up and hang up in irritation. And the same pattern repeats a few times each week.

The next time my daughter calls me, I express my frustration at talking to her ceiling. I also ask her what the point is of trying to wake her up in this fashion. I ask her why she can’t set her own alarm and wake up to it?

Pat comes the reply, “But mom, when you call me you are an interactive alarm. You talk and prod me awake, but my phone alarm can easily be dismissed and doesn’t nag me. Please mom…”

I laugh. Hmmm…Mom the interactive alarm indeed!

Where is Dad?


My little niece is two and half years old and is at that sweet stage where she talks non-stop, is curious about everything and is eager to talk on the phone. She only knows me, her aunt, virtually. But thanks to technology I am happy to watch her grow and enjoy spending time with her, albeit virtually.

I was on a video call with my sister yesterday, when my darling niece announced that she wanted to talk to me. We spoke for a bit and played some games where she asked me to mimic various animal sounds. We howled and barked, meowed and chirped, quacked and laughed our way through a long list of animals.

Finally, when my niece tired of the game, I asked her where her brother was. She told me that he was in school. I then asked her where her Dad was?

Image courtesy – Clipart Library

Pat came the reply, “Dad has gone out and is now inside Mom’s phone.”

My sister had just been talking to her husband before our video call and my niece had observed her father on the phone!

Perfect answer!! My sister and I shared a good laugh. My niece giggled too!