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.

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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.

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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.

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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.