Remembering an old friend who is always there

Remembering an old friend who is always there

As a child, I had only my siblings to play with and we played a lot. Both boys, they soon outgrew our backyard and dashed to the playground to play cricket with other boys. I was suddenly left alone. No companions to play with or talk to. After studies and homework, I went into a world of my own. It was then that books kept me company. They became my best friends. They kept me entertained and busy. Once a book came to my hands, it never left me until the last page was turned.

I thank my parents for feeding this interest. Wherever they went they came back with books, for themselves and us, kids. There was a constant flow of newspapers, magazines, comic books always. Those days if subscribed comic books like Chandamama, Amar Chitra Katha, Tinkle, Phantom, Mandrake, were delivered to doorstep on a weekly basis. It was such a treat to our appetite for books and reading. We used to wait for the day these books were delivered and compete with each other to read it first.

We also used to get weekly magazines and they came brimming with interesting articles, short stories and serials. My grandmother loved the Kannada weeklies but she preferred someone reading out the stories and serials to her. So I read aloud and she listened. Looking back, I am grateful for that opportunity for it improved my diction. I was introduced to the world of short stories and novels which came as serials in these magazines. Also the kids section came with puzzles, riddles and stories. I loved the crosswords. I used to look forward to the Reader’s Digest that came by post every month. I loved the real life stories, jokes and the vocabulary section.

Superhero comics like Phantom, Flash Gordon and Walt Disney comics were available in Kannada as well, then. Works of Enid Blyton were the first of English books I read. My love for mystery and adventure began with these books. Even today, I love to read Secret Seven and Famous Five series. Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew kept me on edge with their mysteries and colored my imagination.

Our home housed a huge library, there were books everywhere, covering all genres. Whenever we needed to research for our school projects or homework, we just had to look in those rows of book shelves and we were sure to find one that suited us.

Another avid reader who influenced me when it came to books was my maternal grandmother. We always found her with a book in her hand. She introduced me to books like Scarlet Pimpernel,  works of Georgette Heyer and Pearl Buck. Visit to her place meant more books to read. She read all sorts of books – fiction, philosophy, spirituality, mythology, Puranas, mysteries, romance. An expert in stories, her narration of Ramayana and Mahabharata and other stories is a treasure I cherish still. I learnt from her not to limit our interests to any particular subject, whatever age.

Taking up literature as a major subject in college kept my affair with books alive. The bond strengthened. I learnt here, to assess a book of its strengths and weaknesses. To look for hidden meanings in poems and read between lines. This phase of life was full of poems, essays, plays and novels.

Wherever I see books I am drawn. Just like my parents did, whenever I get a chance I buy books not only for myself but for kids as well. I hope the passion for books is rubbed on to them, for you are never alone when you are with a book. They not only keep you occupied, they impart knowledge,entertain, enrich and are always around if needed – just like a best friend.

Advertisements

Love unconditional

Love unconditional

I read an article today, The meaning of true love by Sadhguru of Isha Foundation. According to the article, love in relationships always comes with conditions and expectations. It is difficult to administer unconditional love. I agree and disagree.

I agree, unconditional love is an impossible dream in this highly materialistic world. Any relationship, however deep, comes with its own ‘expectation and benefits’ package. We are in love with someone and we expect certain behavior and reciprocation from them. I have not seen anyone who says ‘it is ok how the person in concern behaves or reciprocates my feelings, I will still go on loving’. That is in movies and dreams. Adult world has not seen much of unconditional love.

I disagree, though, that unconditional love, does not exist at all. It exists and to experience it, is pure bliss. I am fortunate to be experiencing this bliss of unconditional love daily, in a double dose.

You guessed right, children. Especially babies- their love comes from a heart that is untouched by the negative influences of the world. They just love, for no reason. That look of adoration they reserve for their parents (especially mothers!), will melt any stone- heart. That toothless smile of delight when they see someone they are attached to, that’s dipped in purest of love. Whenever my kids, as babies, gave that adoring look or smile, tears of joy have brimmed over accompanied with the thought what I have done to deserve this love. Again an adult mind at work, looking for hidden reasons. But the pureheart loves away, oblivious of this turmoil in the mother’s mind.

Over the years, my kids have seen the tougher side of their mother. I have been strict, given them time-out, disciplined them, scolded them, been adamant when it came to certain issues. But after all that, they come running to me with open arms, hold me tight and give that warm hug. And again, I am compelled to think, what have I done to deserve this. Until they see benefits and begin their expectations, it is a bond untainted.

I ask my kids why do you love me so much and varied replies pop out. You are always with us, you take care, cook, clean and do so many other things for us, you tell us stories, teach us things, but the best reply ever is, ” I love you, that’s all”. No reason or hidden agenda whatsoever!!

I always doubt myself, if I am capable of giving them back that affection they have for me. In comparison, my love to theirs, it is them who win hands down!! I accept, I can never compete with that kind of adoration, as I do have expectations from them – manners, discipline, respect – a mother’s list never ends.

Sometimes, too busy polishing their characters and traits, I stop myself. I just wrap my little ones in a bear hug and a big kiss on the cheek, that leaves them totally surprised but at the same time makes them feel so loved. Its their turn then, to enjoy that moment of bliss, a small return, now and then, to their gift of purest love.

Doha Life

Doha Life

October 2013, we shifted to Doha. It was a huge jump for us, leaving UAE, our home for almost a decade. We reluctantly packed our bags and bid good bye to our friends who were as good as family. Doha, the capital of Qatar, was not what we expected. Much smaller than Dubai or Abu Dhabi, everything about it seemed a little less compared to what we left behind. But ‘Destination Doha’ was inevitable.

Knowing that this shift was not easy for me or my kids,my husband suggested that we look for accommodation in a compound. A compound meant a group of villas and enough outdoor area for kids to play. We combed the city for a nice a compound. One compound which was quite close to  my husband’s office and the kids’ school, stole our heart. Villa was homely and the outdoors was simply beautiful with four rows of villas inside an Indian dominated compound. We moved in and set up our new life here. Used to the life of apartments, the roomy villa was a pleasant change.

576633_10152088480867265_1832163658_n

While we missed Abu Dhabi and our friends badly, we got busy in trying to strike friendship with our new neighbors. We were lucky, our kids had enough company to play with. I set out to know the ladies in the compound. One or two get-togethers and I found myself amidst a group of enthusiastic, talented ladies. I was glad that they were friendly and welcomed me open heartedly. Hailing from all corners of India, we have a diverse group, that brings in so much variety be it food, culture and topics of discussion.

IMG_2647

Because supermarkets and other shopping destinations are far off ladies here go shopping in groups. We book a taxi and then set off. These outings not only got us our groceries but also good times. I love the outings with these spirited ladies, be it

movies, concerts or just a coffee in a cafe.

Any place however dreary becomes tolerable if we find the right company. This compound and the people living here helped us ease into a routine, here, in Doha. Having very few acquaintances and friends outside the compound, this has become our little world. Kids are happy they have friends and ample space for a game of football or cycling. They love the community living and I hardly worry when they are outdoors as I know they are safe and one of us is always around to keep an eye.

Apart from friends, what I still miss is the public transport system in UAE. That gave us a freedom to set off anywhere, anytime. While in Doha unless you have your own transport, you need to book taxis, ahead of time. Spoilt to choice back in Abu Dhabi for restaurants or recreational activities, here we find those available in a limit.

But drawbacks doesn’t stop us from living a good life. Past two years we have made good friends, found enough activities to keep us engaged. The compound as always has been our haven. Our neighbors are not just neighbors but an extended family. It is a support system in itself.

Even though it was a reluctant shift, Doha is home  now. Life is not permanent here too, but while here, we are busy making memories and leading a meaningful life. There is still lots to learn and explore and we look forward to it.

Chuck the blues out with the junk

It’s one of those days when I feel low for no reason. My mind is just sad and doesn’t know how to cheer itself up. I just sit and brood. As it goes, whenever I try to reach people during these blues, none are available for a hearty talk. So again, I am forced to slump it out. I need to clear my mind, badly.

I stare blankly at tv not following one single dialogue or the story. Then switch it off because it adds to my irritation. I sit with a book but not for long for lack of attention. I can’t nap because of the nagging weight on the mind.

Best remedy, a blast of music, and few chores. My favorite, folding the piled up laundry and emptying the sink in the kitchen. Cleaning a room or a cupboard is also a form of therapy. When you throw unwanted junk, the room, cupboard and the mind is lightened up a bit.

The store room in my house was getting quite crowded but I had kept the cleaning, postponed . Its a congested room and I hate being there for more than two minutes. Bu then mood Blue hit me and I had to drive it out, somehow. What good chore than clearing up the store. So dived into the pile. Cartons filled with things kept in hopes of using them someday, beckoned me. I dug deep and pulled out all those plastic and glass bottles, unused ceramic cups- some with missing handles (don’t know why I kept them). All went straight to a garbage bag.

Next, under attack, three big plastic bags full of more plastic bags (Made a mental note to take the big jute bag to the supermarket, next time). Old toys, clothes, kept aside to be given to charity crammed the place. All pushed out.

The brooms, mops, cleaning liquids, detergents found their due corners.Packs of toilet rolls, tissue boxes, were assigned better places. Expired medicines, tablets, creams were chucked out.

Store room looked neat, with more space and some fresh air. Three big garbage bags with junk stored for years, were sent to the bin. I felt much lighter. The unknown burdens thrown away with the junk, gave a lift to the dampened spirit. Decluttering is the best way to clear the head as well, sometimes.

What recreation couldn’t accomplish a simple act of cleaning did, like magic. I notice the kitchen cupboard groaning under the weight of things crammed in. Next, in the hit list when the mood Blue strikes.

Cutting the long call short

Cutting the long call short

Once upon a time, my ear and phone stuck together, most of the time. Now people complain I don’t call them often. It is not because I don’t like to be in touch, but because long talks over the phone can be quite strenuous. The reasons are many,

  1. Time just flies – When on the phone, talking at length, the time kept aside for jobs just vanishes, as a result chores pile up.
  2. Aimless talk – Long talks end up in gossip and unnecessary chats about things/people. For the lack of subjects we discuss weather, what was for breakfast, lunch and dinner, which is irrelevant.
  3. Health – Recent studies have shown that usage of cell phone for long hours has ill-effects on our brain and overall health. Already short of memory my biggest fear is to lose it all. Better stick to shorter calls than be sorry later. I put the speaker on whenever I can.
  4. Kids – When on a call and kids are around, they take full advantage of the situation. Homework is incomplete, junk food finds its way to their mouths and tab, tv, PSP all go active. Scene is set for mischiefs.
  5. Respect the person at the other end – The friend at the other end, may be a busy person and has thousand things on his/her to-do list. If the person is equally free then long calls should be fun or else we will be on the ‘avoid’ list of people.
  6. Direct interactions – I love meeting people. Having a face-to-face chat with them is much more heartening. Calls are reserved for the dear ones who stay far and for people who we rarely meet.
  7. Alternative communications – With the advent of smart phones chat apps have gained much fame. We can keep in touch with friends using these apps also share short videos and pictures. We can send messages and respond when convenient, not necessarily immediate.

Even though it is nice to hear from our friends and families while staying away from them, we can still keep our talks precise. I do have once in a while long talks but on a daily basis it can be overwhelming. With fewer and shorter calls these days, I find more time at hand and able to manage my routine better. I have definitely more time for people who are around. Cutting the long calls short, I am more organized and that calls for celebration.

Fights that bond you, bright side of having a sibling..

With two kids, most of my time goes acting a referee between the two. Be it a fight, a debate, sharing things, eventually the referee steps in. Sometimes, if they are having a safe tiff (with no punching and name calling), I silently vanish from the scene and let them handle it on their own.

It is always difficult acting judge and give a verdict who is wrong. I so wish sometimes they don’t fight at all. Then realise, siblings are the best people who give you a practice of how to handle situations and people when you step out into the world.

Not everyone is nice to you, not everyone will see only the good in you and get along. People take advantage of weaknesses and cash on that. When I look at my son and daughter, that is what is happening. Where sweetness is required to getting things done, my son takes the lead. Weaves magic with those innocent eyes and sweet smile. If a head-on approach and attack mode is the need of the hour my daughter takes the forefront and get things done. What they don’t get is that I understand all that and let them have their way when it suits me. That is because I want to let them develop their abilities and then, learn some more. Its a competitive world out there and they should know how to handle people and know different approaches. They will surely learn from each other the knacks they are weak at. They compete with each other, who is first. They accept the victory of the other, which I am glad of.

They are learning a lot from these sibling interactions. They are learning to co-exist along with their differences. They point out each other’s mistakes and try to mend them (which usually ends with a tiff). They are learning how to get things done by each other, given their different personalities. They are learning to negotiate –  “If you want  me to help, share your magic pen with me!”. To compromise – share that precious toy, to get that most wanted aid. Most of the time it is best not to interfere, they should learn to handle these situations. Only, no bad words or physical fights. Arguments are allowed, very much.

They don’t fight always, there are great moments of laughter and peace. They play together, paint together. Study time is the same. They always have their food together. Their most productive conversations, funny exchanges, and sharing of events of the day happens at the dining table, with  me lending an ear at the background (that’s total entertainment).

I feel happy when they seek each other’s comfort when parents are villains. They are learning to stand by each other, giving silent consolation. Once, scared of my ire my daughter refused to come downstairs and her brother held her hand and guided her down the stairs, giving her courage. It was worth losing my cool, I felt, when I saw them bonded.

My headstrong daughter is learning she has to obey and respect her elder brother and acknowledge he knows more than her and has a lot to gain from that. My son is learning he has to love and respect his dominating little sister and guide her when necessary. Most of all, they are learning they are each other’s friends for life. The one cushion they can fall back on when life throws those punches at you. So, keep the fights, debates, disagreements coming, my babies, and roll in, that laughter and games – the foundation of a bond that’s one of the strongest.

Lethargy calls, block it with blogs..

Lethargy calls, block it with blogs..

I stopped blogging for three days now. Asking myself what happened. Started writing with a vengeance, am I done with it? Lethargy, I was addicted to, taking over again?

A fortnight back, I forced myself out of my lethargic recliner and explored the net for something useful to do. My life had come to a standstill with the daily routine day by day bogging me down. The routine had to be changed. For a long time now, blogging was an idea in the shadows of my mind. I kept it for a day when brainwave struck and prompted me to write. Brainwaves have to be stirred and created these days. So I stirred myself one to go check the net. I found the 30 day blogging challenge. I believe in signs and this was definitely a sign. The forced brainwave gave me the kick needed, to start. Accepting the challenge was the tough call. No more free time to laze around and watch tv. I took it up, just to see where I head.

Creating a blog and writing the first post felt amazing and I was hooked. I wrote daily with an adamancy of posting a blog better than the previous one. I did that for sixteen days at a stretch! And words came easily, just flowed. It was a wonderful re-discovery of what I am capable of.

But then lethargy was jealous. It attacked. Mind went blank, words that flowed went dry. Even the ones that came out felt meaningless. I was scared. That day I gave it a break. Kids and husband are at home for a week, I will spend time with them, was a good pretext to take that break. All day, with my laptop away and just relaxed, but with a tinker in the mind whispering that I shouldn’t stop. I knew the pattern, postponement was setting in. That night I got panicky, no way going back to the lazy routine. Woke up early next day, but the writer’s block wouldn’t go. Asked myself why  am I stubborn to write a blog, what has changed? Then I wrote it all, how blogging, in just a fortnight, brought discipline and direction to life. That day’s post was ready to publish.

Next day, guests. I was cleaning, cooking, getting the house in order. Whole day spent in the company of friends. Holidays are the only time we get to socialize, without giving a thought to tomorrow’s to-do list. It was a wonderful time with friends. But after wrap up, it was impossible to write with eyelids heavy with sleep. So gave it a slip again. Following day, feeling guilt all day that I let myself down couldn’t write a word. But forced myself again, completed the task before I went to bed. Again, the next day, I did not post a blog, just like that.

I had kept this blog as an end to the challenge. But writing it now, for a good reason. To accept that I love the positive changes in life and hang on to it. I look back, its just about eighteen days but feels like a long time. I don’t want to give up now and go back to slumping on that lazy couch. No more same old routine. No more falling lazy. After reading about writer’s block by other bloggers, I know it is common and it is ok. Doesn’t mean I have to stop. Not yet, hope never!