Two mysterious clocks


The holidays are here, and all of us are staying up late every night, and sleeping-in each morning, totally oblivious to the rising sun or the chirping birds or the gentle morning breeze.

So, you can imagine our shock when we woke up yesterday morning to find that our bedroom clock had fallen and shattered on the floor! There was glass everywhere. Even as we cleaned the shards, we puzzled over how it could have fallen, and how none of us heard even a small tinkle. My kids came up with weird theories, and we all had a hearty laugh.

Later yesterday, my husband and I went to the supermarket to buy a wall clock for the bedroom. After the usual evaluation of designs, and suitability to the decor, we picked a wooden clock with block numbers and distressed paint. My husband was not entirely convinced about the distressed paint, but I convinced him that the look was in.

Once we got back home, we affixed a battery and mounted the clock on the wall. It looked rather nice. When I read the time this morning, I realized that the clock was showing 2.20, but soon forgot about it as I got busy in the kitchen.

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

Later in the day, my husband called me and told me that the clock was going backwards. He had noticed that the clock was showing the wrong time and had reset it, only to realize that the clock was moving backwards.

It was oddly unsettling to see that the clock was moving back in time. When it was mid afternoon, our clock had travelled back to 9 am. I tried to remember what I was doing at 9 am.

I couldn’t exactly remember, I only had this realization that ‘that’ moment in time was gone, it would never ever come back, even if I tried to turn back the clock.

I suddenly felt very wise, and passed on this wisdom to my children, asking them to make the best use of the here and the now. They laughed and muttered that mom’s in one of her philosophical moods. They hugged me and walked away.

But this clock gave me pause, to value my time and to value each day, for I can wind back the clock, but never time itself.

Just a few more minutes…


I am sitting on the living room couch, poring over some manual, when my son walks in. His t-shirt catches my eye; it says “Just a few minutes”.

This gets me thinking. This phrase ‘just a few minutes’ plays a very important role in our lives. As kids, when our Dad would wake us up on school day mornings, especially during winter, my sisters and I would furrow deeper into our blankets, and mumble from the recesses of sleep, “Dad, just a few minutes more, please?” On somedays, we were indulged, on other days, not so.

Image courtesy – canstockphoto.com

Now, as a mother, when I wake my kids up every morning, “just a few more minutes” is their constant refrain. And I find myself behaving exactly like my father did, playing both good mom and bad mom.

But those ‘just few minutes’ are indeed very special. Minutes to savour and treasure, a few moments to prolong the joys of sleep, of not having to leave the blanket and rush into the mundane.

We hear this phrase in many other situations as well – when kids beg for a few more minutes of television time, or phone time or play time.

Then again, when one is working out on the treadmill or elliptical trainer, one has to push oneself to the finish line with these same words – “just a few more minutes.” The most difficult few minutes – minutes that truly move at a snail’s pace.

Then there are those days as school kids, when we waited for the “just a few minutes” before the school bell would ring, so that we could come home and play with our friends.

And then, there were all those super important moments in our lives, where time stood suspended and we had to wait “just a few minutes” for final exams to finish, for graduation gowns to flutter, for the first job offer to come our way, for marriage and vows, for the birth of a child.

We can never forget the anticipation, the wait and the joys of all those moments, and the “just a few minutes” that preceded all of them.

And that is how it will always be, where we try to condense the boring moments, and try to wish them away, while we try to stretch the pleasurable moments, and constantly strive to maximize the joy from them.

And now, as I sip my afternoon cup of coffee….I relish every sip. After all, what are “just a few more minutes” in the grand scheme of things.

Mysore Pak every 365 days


It is that time of the year again. Deepavali. The festival of lights.

I have been busy all morning, melting ghee, sifting flour, and preparing sugar syrup of just the right consistency. Stirring the mixture with my right hand, and then with the left, not pausing even for a minute.

When the ghee (clarified butter) meets the sugar and the flour, the aroma that wafts around the house defies description. It makes my kids come running into the kitchen, and causes them to hop about in excitement.

Just after my wedding, my mother gifted me two, big, stainless steel trays. I bring out these trays every year, during Deepavali, for the specific purpose of making Mysore Pak.

The trays are greased and ready to receive the mixture that I am stirring. As I stir, I realize that 365 days have flown by in the blink of an eye.

A year that was packed with activities, school projects, dinners and lunches with friends, work, daily chores, meeting loved ones, shopping. A year that was just like every other year – filled with a mix of rainy days, sunny days and windy days!

The mixture is slowly thickening. I realize that my children have grown taller, and that some of the children I know from their kindergarten days have now gone to University.

This is a ritual, this Mysore Pak, a family tradition, which my children will hopefully carry forward one day.

The mixture thickens, and I feel the drag as I stir. I pour the mixture into the trays. In a few minutes, I cut the mixture into square pieces.

Time seems to be flying, but now and then, it stops, maybe once in 365 days, for us to mark some event or festival or milestone, to tell us to stop and enjoy these simple moments.

To bite into a perfect Mysore Pak that melts in the mouth. To know that we have another 365 days coming up, to do the best we can and utilize our time wisely and focus on what’s important.

Happy Deepavali!

A view from the balcony


My living room clock shows 6.30 p.m. The day is winding down. Children, who have played outdoors all evening, are heading back to their homes. The birds have returned to their nests.

The world is still aglow, lit by the setting sun. There is a certain calm to this hour that you wouldn’t find at any other time during the day. People are getting back from work, a spring in their step; looking forward to an evening of being at home, in their own space, relaxing and unwinding from the stresses of yet another day. Pets greet their owners with absolute joy, children fling themselves at their dads and moms to be bearhugged and cuddled, or to be thrown up in the air and caught in a tumbling mass of giggles.

I go to my favourite spot – my balcony – and stop in amazement when I see this.

This building can be seen from our balcony. I am totally amazed by the fact that the molten sun is reflecting off only one of the numerous glass facades of the building.

There is something miraculous in this moment, a splash of vibrant orange against a backdrop of grey, a great moment in an otherwise ‘business as usual’ type of day.

From where I stand, the sun has already slipped out of sight. But I am lucky to have been a part of this moment of sheer golden bliss.

Another simple moment captured, and filed away.

The Great Wall and Time


The sun’s heat is scorching. We walk at a steady pace, completely awed.

We are at the Great Wall of China.

Before we reach the starting point, our guide briefs us about the Wall and its history, and loads us with many interesting nuggets of information. We agree on a time to meet, and proceed on our long walk.

The valleys on either side watch us in silence, as we walk, stop and marvel. How was this feat even possible!

At every turn, the wall winds up and down into the rugged terrain, an off-white line that stretches away into places that the eye cannot see.

We feel humbled. We walk up steps, climb down others, pausing for breath, pausing to take pictures, wondering, only wondering.

We can picture the soldiers at their viewing decks, and the invading armies.

My son and I sit down, as we wait for the others. There is a deep silence. Except from two crows that caw on and off, all is quiet. Our hats give us some semblance of protection as the sun’s hot rays reflect off the stones.

I look up at the clear blue sky and smile. A merry little jet is whizzing importantly across the sky, leaving behind a fluff of white lace.

Time seems suspended between history and the future.

The Wall is unchanging, a witness to thousands of years of history, culture and human development. The jet is too busy to stop, it is after all, busy carrying people to appointments and meetings.

The word ‘time’ as I know it seems pointless, as I sit on the Great Wall, knowing that even after we are all gone, this architectural wonder will still remain.

If I had the time….


This evening, as I stood on my balcony gazing up at the sky, I admired the fluffy clouds moving gently across the sky.

I smiled, as I remembered a game that we played as kids, when we would lie on our backs on the lawn, with the most beautiful blue sky spread above us, with cotton-puff clouds scattered in various patterns.

We called it the Creator’s garden. Based on the shape of the clouds on a particular day, we would make predictions about what the Creator had planted. From cauliflowers to pumpkins to beans and carrots, we played this silly game over and over again.

Lazy holidays under the sun, watching flocks of birds fly overhead and colourful butterflies flitting about.

I asked myself why, as adults we don’t have the time for such simple pursuits that give so much joy.

I then asked myself this question and tried answering it – “If I had the time, would I spend time on such simple and fun activities?”

Yes….! If I had the time I would….

– chase raindrops on the window pane with my fingers

– cut okra slices, dip them in paint and make flower patterns on the wall

– blow soap bubbles on a bright, sunny day and chase the bubbles as they glisten and fly away

– eat a huge cotton candy

Courtesy – istock
– try hanging upside down on the sofa as we used to do as kids 

– play and fight with my siblings over board games

– watch the night sky and stars, sitting in our backyard

– laugh at old family jokes that are repeated ad nauseum

– splash water by jumping into one puddle after another on a rainy day

– laugh at silly things

– eat sugarcanes and mangoes, with friends and siblings on a hot summer’s day.

Sigh! If only I had the time….

What simple things from your childhood would you do, if you had the time?

Would love to know…

An Ode to my Dad


Featured image
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.

What is time?


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        Courtesy – cmcacorner.com

There is one sentence that I hear very often  -“I don’t have the time.” I say this a lot too!

The days just seem to fly. The New Year is already 16 days old!

What is this thing we call ‘time’? Why don’t we ever have enough time?

What is time? I ask myself.

Time is a resource. Each of us has been given a certain number of years, months, days and hours to live on this planet. We call this ‘time’.

However, ‘my’ time is not ‘your’ time. Each of us has ‘time vouchers’ of different denominations.  These vouchers keep depleting in value, and unused vouchers can never be reclaimed.

Time is a ‘synonym’ for our lives. We should put it the best use possible.

We should spend time on things that actually matter. We should take the time to laugh, love, hug and cuddle.

We should take out time to dance in the rain, sing in the bathroom and ‘de-phone’ ourselves.

We should spend time reading, meeting family and going on long walks.

We should spend less time worrying and more time smiling.

We should allow time to burst into a hundred fragments of children’s laughter. We should allow time to curl around our hearts with beautiful music.

We should allow time to tease our tongue with new food flavours. We should allow time to tip-toe all around us when we fall into a nice deep sleep.

We should allow time to gallop with us as we strive to attain our dreams. We should allow time to give us the equanimity to accept what is.

Our life and time are one and the same. So let’s harness this resource we have, to do all the things that truly matter.

The Inexorable Passage of Time


Call it what you may, but I have this compulsive urge to know the time at all hours of the day.  Our home has wall clocks and time pieces in every room, sometimes even two or three in a room.  These, of course, are in addition to the clocks on all the tablets, the smart phones and the set top boxes.

In addition to all these gently ‘tick-tocking’ clocks, our trip to Europe saw us bring back the famed ‘cuckoo-clock’.   As the initial excitement of watching the cuckoo peeping out of the little door to announce the time wore off, the cuckoo’s sounds became very important to me, to know what time it was, especially at night.

I have a special relationship with each clock in my house.  The one in the living room above the TV console has been set to run ten minutes ahead of actual time.  That’s the clock all of us follow for school, so we are ready by 8.00 a.m and then derive silly satisfaction from the fact that it is actually only 7.50 a.m. now. Somehow we’ve managed to cheat time and snatch back 10 whole minutes of our lives.

There is an old-fashioned clock in our kitchen that needs to be wound every morning; the clock’s comforting tick-tock in the kitchen accompanying me as I bustle about.

The most recent addition to our clock collection is a pyramid-shaped talking clock, which announces the time once every hour. This clock is positioned next to my bed, just for me, to know the time at night. I wonder sometimes if my sub-conscious mind ‘times’ even my dreams.

Tick tock…go these clocks, the silent witnesses to our lives.  They hold the keys to our everyday milestones – breakfast time, school-going time, yoga time, me-time, lunch time, family time…..and many more.

Then there are the races we run against the clock.  Running late, forgetting things, looking at the watch and the clock and the phone, and secretly hoping that the one that shows the slowest time is the accurate one.

And the times when ‘time‘ makes its presence strongly felt – as alarms!  Alarms for exams, for classes, for baking, and for reminders about events that need to be scheduled for later.

And every single time, it is about ‘time’, that companion who lives with us, watching us with silent eyes, as we rush about our lives, sometimes happy, sometimes sad, sometimes excited and sometimes crazy.

All is known to ‘time’.