31 October, 2015

connie - warmth.


Lovely people, meet Connie Hereford - warmth in the chills of Ooty, literally. This is an experience I mean to share with the world to show that wonderful people just happen to you. A big bunch of us friends, were on a weekend stay in Ooty. A couple of us early risers decided to take a morning walk downhill to get some fresh air and that's when we bumped into Connie - warmth in a bottle. 

We were being nice and courteous when we saw her walk downhill. We said good morning and she did too. She immediately put her hand into her pocket and took out a bunch of toffees and handed it over to each one of us. For a minute, I felt like I met Santa Claus. We just got to talking and I asked her what she does for a living. She said she makes jams and pickles and sells them. I told her I will swing by her home and pick up a few bottles when I leave Ooty. We exchanged numbers and she gave me directions to her place. She then held all our hands and said a prayer and blessed us and left. 

This is a 75 year old woman on a morning walk. Downhill. Happy, hale and healthy. 

The day went by and when we were leaving my husband asked if I'd like to so some shopping and that's when I was reminded about Connie. We had almost made the turn to the exit road. I called her and with a little guidance from Connie, we reached her home. 


Her home smelled of sugar. There was jam, cake and cookies in the air if you closed your eyes and took a whiff. She showed us to the box with the jams and I picked two bottles.padhu and I asked her where her family is and she said her husband passed away a long time back and her two sons were working far away. She had given them both an education by selling her jams and pickles. 

We were stunned.

I quickly picked out six more bottles and placed them on the table. She them brought out a cake and said it was for me. I looked at her and asked her, 'Connie, but what if I hadn't come?!' She replied, 'oh I knew you were coming dear. Jesus told me so. And he said you like everything chocolate.' 

Nobody could have pulled off that line on me. Nobody. My jaw dropped. 

We paid for the jams and said goodbye. While we were about to leave she mentioned to be careful about a particular aggressive lorry driver who was attacking three young boys that morning. She mentioned she tried to stop them but he hit her so bad that she may have cracked a rib. For a calculative minute, Padhu and I didn't speak. Then we asked her if she has seen a doctor. She said she has and asked us to leave before he came.

A single woman who lives with a dog took to a lorry driver who was beating up three kids. What guts. What priorities. 

We left and the car smelled of chocolate cake. The one that Jesus ordered. Until we reached Conoor and had the lemon tea, all we could talk about was 'What if, we hadn't thought of her?!' 'What if we had made the exit turn?!' 

Till we reached home we talked about how she defended the three boys when she had no one at home to even take care of her for an emergency. With the happy scent of chocolate cake we reached home. 

The jam was heaven in my mouth. Heaven on bread. Heaven on Varkey. And heaven till the last bit. I gave away a few bottles to some very appreciative friends. 

Connie just happened to us that morning. She is warmth in her bottles of jam, in her hugs, in her touch, in her actions and in her speech.

I plan on keeping in touch with her through letters. 




17 October, 2015

Colors week :)

Colors week has just gone by and we are so thrilled! 

We made a jellyfish out of my mothe in law's basket with some spiral balloons that were leftover from G's bday. Ain't little miss Jellyfish cute?!


We couldn't go through Colors week without have Mr.Dino be a part of it. G did some Q tip painting for the dino and button art for the flowers with his dad. Time well spent! 



For Orange day, we picked up some vadagam from the kitchen stash and made a pumpkin. We even had poo vadagam! 

26 July, 2015

Book Club in Tirupur

It is one of those things that would never have happened but it did. It happened by mistake but boy, am I happy it did! We have a book club in Tirupur and I'm in love! More updates soon...






















11 May, 2015

Breaking barriers

I woke this morning with my little boy's hands tickling my neck. With the added luxury of wanting to sleep late, I picked up my phone and called my mum. She ran upstairs and took my son along with her so I could get that little sleep I needed. It's her thing, she loves it. She does it every time and from the moment they leave my room and till I go downstairs after my bath, I hear them giggling, laughing, screaming and making noise in every which way. My mom makes sure she closes the door, but these noises are the noises that reach you beyond the door. My father usually gives his own touch of love by switching on the AC for me before he leaves but father and daughters is another story.

For five years, I've been studying the life of a woman who runs a home, a family. I've been trying so so hard to do it myself, my way but there are so many times I've realised that whatever you do you will be the woman with the element of feeling who waits. I'm either waiting for my son to go to sleep, waiting for husband to get back home, waiting for the tea leaves to boil, waiting for my sons lunch to get made (my in laws have added the luxury of a cook for me, so I'm in good hands both sides). As I type, I'm waiting for my husband to return from his ten day trip abroad. Practically, waiting became the hashtag.

After my mum left my room, I saw these flooded messages from various groups on Whatsapp. All for Mother's Day. It was either a picture of a woman and a baby, or a picture of flowers or a quote from Google or Pinterest. I opened and closed all of them and replied to the one I wanted to. By then, I heard a lot of giggling downstairs and decided to rush. Quick bath and bed made, I ran down to realise my son had had his breakfast, washed up and was ready to play in his kiddie pool with my father.

My mum made me my dosas and after breakfast she was on lunch duty. After a solid ten minutes, I put my son to sleep and my mum was on starters. Sunday, chicken day. So extra work.

I sat staring into my phone with no notification, opening and closing Facebook mindlessly. Then I realised my grandmother sitting next to me. She always sighed and made noises when I was on the phone. I put my phone down and realised I didn't have a conversation starter. Then I stared into nothing and realised something..

My mum probably woke up at 5am, swept the front shed, made coffee, cleaned kitchen... And a huge list of things and then WAITED to serve breakfast. Then she WAITED for my call. Then for me to come downstairs. Then to start making lunch. Then to wash the utensils after lunch. Then again, to get some sleep. Then to make tea. Then to plan dinner. Then to go grocery shopping.

We are the ones who complain our images on Whatsapp don't download quick enough. What amount a patience a woman should have to make sure you have a good day without any actual benefit for herself.

I spun myself a rule list.

When you have to use your phone for something, use it.
When you are mindlessly on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter or Whatsapp, quit.


Give your existence a meaning. The human connection is lost when you can apologise to a stranger you bump into and when you cannot start a conversation with your own.

Love grows through connection of souls. Yes, a facebook status lets your friends know that the woman near you in the picture is your mother. But make sure she does!

Break barriers and converse. Because, otherwise then there will be a day where you will stare out of a window and wonder what the human speech sounds like.




29 January, 2015

Room - Emma Donohue - Book Review

This book was a suggestion from two friends. It happened at a time when I couldnt spare the time for this genre. Im glad I read it late and I loved the book two ways. This being a true incident - I didnt want to judge anything about the book. Firstly, I liked how the author potrayed the incident through the eyes of a child. Second, I loved the attention to detail given to the book.

The book at one point is overwhelming and claustrophobic. Its unfair to say so because the story is based on this kidnapped woman who is forced to live in a room that is 11' *11'. She gives birth to the boy in the room and he knows nothing but the room. The woman lives a total of 7 years in this hellhole where her kidnapper provides food and electricity. It is painful as u read. She breastfeeds her five yr old son. They follow a strict regime and the boy, Jack hates falling out of routine. To him the materialistic things in the room are also people. He talks to them like to his mom. He watches a bit of TV and that is Outside - something they will never know for a while.

Up until the part where they escape, there is a tight knot in one's throat.  Once in the outside world, the boy's struggles to adjust with vision, hearing, speaking and how he weans from Jack and his Ma to just Jack and his mother is the end to the book.

The book brought about a thinking in me about how the entire world is at our hands and how we take everything for granted. I even got to thinking how much more can be given to children with limited things and space.

On the whole I loved the book. Hated the incident in real life. The book is captivating and scary. Im all mixed feelings about the book.

I do hope no one goes through something like this ever.

28 January, 2015

Me Before You - Jojo Moyes - book review

I'm deeply disappointed I watched the movies guzaarish and khoobsurat before I read this book. Inspite of having Sonam Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai and Hrithick Roshan flash in my head every time I read the book, I loved it. A well written book with very few characters, no confusing, storyline, heartbreaking tragedy, soulful relationships, love for family and of all, love portrayed well.

The book is based on a girl who takes up a job too make ends meet, being the only bread winner of the family. She is the happy go-lucky kinda girl. Silly, in her own way. Smarter than silly. She is the older sister who sacrifices too much. She is probably a part of every girl in every household. No one can hate Louisa. She accepts the job of being 'company' to a quadriplegic. Secretly she learns that her boss has petitioned to the Dignitas to kill himself because he cannot do much in his wheelchair. The family buys a time frame of six months and that's when Louisa is his company. 

The book is easy to read and is tough to put down. Loisa makes a lot of effort to help him overcome his solitude by starting conversations. Mostly, she is not entertained. Somehow she gets through to him and they become the best of friends. Their relationship is probably the kind where the boy keeps saying 'u silly girl' all the time yet falling in love with her confident silly ways. While she is optimistically herself! 

The story unfolds beautifully when Louisa convinces him to go on a trip and thinks she can change his mind to remove himself from the petition. They fall in love and what happens after is the end to the story. In between, there is a sister one cannot miss. And a boyfriend that no one would ever want. 

The book stays in my heart. After, I did some research about the Dignitas and it makes me shudder that it actually exists. I gave the book 5 stars. And I give five stars only when a book makes me cry.

A beautiful read. Not sure how men will react to the book. 

24 January, 2015

How 2014 turned out to be. What 2015 needs to be.

It felt like 2015 just started but I wake up to realising Obama is already on his plane here. Couldn't they just pack my friends from there and send them across instead? We'll have a great week and send them back, I promise. What a whoosh 2014 was! Went by so quickly like every other year, quick.

I started 2015 with a lot of promises to myself for me and for my family. Specially for Gnan. I promised myself I would read more. I've been keeping that up, thanks to e-reading and recommendations from friends. I started this book called The Happiness Project which is almost everything that was happening in my life. It's a book written by a person who built her own project for a year to remAin happy. She wasn't depressed, she just decided she wasn't happy enough. I was in the exact same zone for a while at the end of last year and this book came at the right time. I had done my own version of cleaning, making space, retail therapy (which mostly included adding western clothes that I no more wear often to the online cart and then closing the browsing tab) - aaah, the joy of window shopping. I almost missed those days of mindlessly wandering around in a Spencer plaza for free air conditioning and window shopping. I still had some place in my head that said, 'well, not enough!' I sprung into buying books at the end of last year and started reading. A few days later I felt better but after I finished every book I would wonder why I wasn't in that world. The Happiness Project almost switched on the lights and showed me the way to get out of the dull hole in my head. I figured out I could do so much more with my time. I wrote down a list of all that I wanted to do and two more lists. (P.s : if u don't like making lists or any kind of written illustration, pls don't bother. My head works this way) 

Notepad out. List one.

What didn't work in 2014. 

1. Switching off early.
I realised I had a plan for 2014 like I have every year but somehow I didn't keep up with them through the year. For example, I had challenged myself to read 12 books that year and I completed that challenge, in May. I had a solid six more months to have read another 12 books, but I didn't make an effort. I could have. I

2. Didn't blog enough
I just don't realised why I don't, or didn't. I spend a lot of time with the iPad in hand browsing random stuff instead of which I could have written. Nothing like the written word. 

3. Didn't exercise enough
Aah, well. Padhu and I end up saying we should, but we never do.

4. Nothing new
In 2014, I did nothing new. I didn't make an attempt to make a new friend also. Well, it's not like I meet a hundred people everyday but I didn't even make an effort. Somewhere, I was comfortable with the atmosphere and didn't make a move. 

5. Travel wise
After a heartbreaking cancellation of the whole Bali trip, I had given up on planning things. I decided I should never plan ahead cause somehow it doesn't work at the end. A series of other trips failed after that, assuring me I was right. 

Turn page. List two.

What worked in 2014

1. Potty training
The happiest days of a toddler mommy. If u r smiling, pls clap also? Thanks! It's that difficult. 

2. Staying out of closet trouble
I'm the one who likes to hoard a lot of stuff. And most of it is stuff I do not need. At the end of 2013, I took an oath to never add anything to the room that we will not use every week. For example - It was very difficult to say no to the nail cutter with the hippo on top. U press hippos butt and hippos mouth open revealing the blades to cut your nails. It took me a lot of effort to say no to that. I removed all that clutter from my room. When I read The Happiness Project, I smiled to myself thinking - haa, that was me - a year ago. It is true. I had to throw out 3 Apple boxes - a phone, iPad, iPod. These three r used on a daily basis and the boxes are such a waste of space. It was a heavenly feeling to throw out chargers. I had Samsung, Panasonic, LG, Nokia, some Korean company and at that point both Padhu and me were using blackberries sharing one charger. (Fighting over who gets to charge overnight was fun though). I kept my 2014 promise and didn't add any clutter to the room. I gave away all of G boy's old clothes, the carry cot and toys. Discarding is fun! 

3. Buying smart
I was the kind of buyer who always bought during the sales. And since I was pretty much stuck at home after the baby, I didn't bother to splurge on clothes. In 2014, I decided to put an end to that silly habit (not entirely) and buy what I like. Padhu hated it when I mentioned prices and silly discounts. I kinda gave that habit away (not entirely) in 2014. I deserve a pat on my back for that (not entirely). 

4. Shed the fighter cock feather
I'm a fighter cock. If u r smiling - either u know me too well or you r one too. I kept out of picking a fight with anyone (mostly Padhu). I never had the last word of any argument. I gave in, listened. Thanks to I don't know who! 


Turn page. List 3.

The third list I had written out was a lot less smaller initially. I added a few bits after I read The Happiness Project. The book helped in a way nobody would. Other than the author, of course!

List before THP

1. Drink 6 bottles of water everyday (up until 2012 I used to) 
2. Read more
3. Blog every week
4. Exercise
5. Wake early
6. Start Carnatic music classes for Gnan and me
7. Change Gnans bedtime stories (I'm sure even the hidden mosquitos inside the room are bored)
8. Start helping out Padhu in office

List after THP 

1. Drink 6 bottles of water 
2. Read more. THP says give yourself a number. So I gave myself 5 a month. If I do, I'd be at 60 at the end of 2015.
3. Blog every week. THP says give yourself a number. I'd rather go by something common to write about every week. Like a book I read, things I did with G boy, new people I've met etc. 
4. Exercise. My mum's orthopaedist has given her a stretchable rubber sheet that is used to exercise. I love and it makes every muscle happy. It a great tool to own for those who cannot afford equipment with three babies running inside the house. It's 220 bucks and I'm buying it as soon as I get out of home next. Did I say I love it? 
5. Wake early. Both Padhu and I have had issues with this one every time. So I set my wake time to 7am for those days Gnan goes to sleep before 11pm. For the days G sleeps later than 11pm, I'm allowing myself wake time till 730am the next morning. And for those nights that we get back home late or end up sleeping later than 11pm, I give myself 745am. I hope to stick to it. Poor Padhu does to.
6. Start Carnatic music classes for me and Gnan. 
7. Bedtime stories. (I bought a new show and tell book which involves his favourite things - farm animals, balloons and colours)
8. Start with Padhu in office - this won't be until June. G starts school and I have time to figure out where to start.
Additions.. 
9. Make an effort to dress well. I find myself being very lazy to wear the right footwear or jewellery. I ended up going to a wedding in my flip flops once because I was in a hurry. Not like anyone noticed, but seriously? Flip flops in a wedding is a wake up call. 
10. Avoid using my phone or iPad when G is awake. Almost all of us parents use our screens so much, we don't realise when our babies are saying the loveliest things. I missed out on Gnan saying 'caterpillar' and the way he explained how honey bees go from flower to flower and give us honey. I realised only half way. 
11. Write short stories. I used to. So I decided to brush that hobby back to life again. 
12. Learn something new - fondant figurines. 
13. Be Pragi. This is totally from THP. Her first rule is Be Gretchen. It makes sense when things go wrong. All you need to do is stop and ask what Pragi would do. Made so much sense cause somewhere down the years, I did lose the way many a times. 
14. Keep in touch. Well, according to my friends I'm the best at that. Well, to me, just not enough. Who says enough to friends? 
15. Gift each other. I used to. Brushing it back to life again, the habit.

Phew. Some lists huh! Hoping 2015 turns out well. 

P.s : today is Jan 23 and I'm done with 6 books this month. Thanks to e reading. I've cleaned clutter, which is lesser than the clutter I threw away in 2014. I still shop during sales, but only for the good ones. Who doesn't! G and I go on our usual evening walks. This week we are collecting flowers a color a day. Not like we live in a botanical heaven, but we are trying. My water levels don't seem to be reached. I'm working on avoiding the flip flops (though they are comfortable as hell and who the hell cares what is hiding under the saree). 

Reminders

Drumming prime ministers exist. 
Purple dinosaurs exist. My son's just said the ABCs.
Clouds will break into chocolate gems. (My niece wants kinder joy)
People buy orange cars.
An umbrella with a hole can still stop the rain some part.
Once a swimmer, always a swimmer. 
Photo frames are the best.
It's okay to want to buy something all the time. Keeps you wanting something in life.
Milk is the magic solution. (G boy says so. And after my grandma's legs condition, I think so too)
Speed dials change. Friends don't. If dad was 2 when u were in college, mum can be 2 after you are married. 
It is ok to finish Nutella in two days. It adds to the waist, the bum, the shoulders, the cheeks and also when shared with a baby brother - memories. 
A phone call is so easy. Visiting someone is easy too. 
When in doubt, always saree. Not fat, not thin - just right. Also, a dash of Kajal.
Happy birthday mags are good. Calls are better. 
For those times in need of space, hand over the playdoh. It's ok. No guilt.
When friends are far, there is always Amazon!
Any kind of therapy ends in retail therapy.. Baaaam. Book therapy too. 
House MD may have ended. Get over it. 
Two little bunny teeth are always smiling. Needs a little tickle to make a laugh! At the end of the day, that is worth a million! 







21 January, 2015

Touch.

There was a realisation phase that happened recently. I hadn't used a touch screen phone until last year. I was a qwerty lover and I relied on typing the hell out of the keys. I guess the touch screen brought about a brilliant change. Every time I would want to exit something on my qwerty, I'd press the red button and instantly I would be out. This happens even during my conversations with people, specially my husband. I would argue or reply and I would make it so sharp that the other person would not feel like replying after that. I loved it at that point and that was my red button to end the conversation. It was like the decision has been made and your opinion doesn't matter. It was abrupt, rude and I knew it. Most of the times, I was right but another opinion would never hurt. 

Then came the day the touch screen arrived. Everyone said it was easy and so I obliged. The thing about the touchscreen is, the touch registers a little slower than the pressing of the button on the qwerty. And when you want to exit an app, there is not button to abruptly leave. There is a back option that needs to be touched. I was fuming when the phone wasn't fast enough for me but later I slowed down. In every aspect. I'd wait to see how long it took and another 3 seconds wasn't hurting. I'd also wait to hear what people and Padhu had to say, consider it and then reply. I then decided that this also works. I've had the phone for over a year now and it's slower than when I bought it but now it doesn't matter. It has given me the strength to accept that everything cannot be controlled and letting go or waiting won't hurt. I tried applying the same in many aspects at home and there came a huge change, a peace of mind and a spotless home. 

Dear Other Realisations, 

Do arrive quicker.

Pg

Back to the grind

With the start of the academic year here, life is almost back to the grind. School is priority uno for both G boy and me. This year looks pr...