A sentimental state of mind

It sounds like such sentimental trash. But it’s true. Old friends, true friends, good friends morph themselves to do and be exactly what you need when you reach out to them.

You could have last spoken to them years ago, last seen them a decade ago, last exchanged real news of each other’s lives even further away in time gone by, and yet, when you reconnect, all the good things are right there to be had, unconditionally.

Isn’t that amazing.

They will tell you the nice lies when needed — that the clothes look great, that the grey hairs peeking out suit you, that life is a shit, (sometimes!) that your choice of restaurant is impeccable even if they drove half way across town to get there — all in all, reassure you when you are all but crumpled, and make you feel like the best thing on earth when you have all but given up.

What would I do without them?

One day I shall perhaps flesh this out and give them names!

But until then, please know, all of you out there, whom I have been so inattentive to, for so many years, that without your love and support and ungrudging presence as and when I have called around, keeps me ‘on the path’, keeps me sane, keeps me happy, keeps me keen.

What more could I possibly ask for?!

The lives people live…

The lives people live…

My current station (and it is funny how often I’ve begun using this word), as a mum working from home, gives me a great deal of time and space to really look at the lives people lead around me.

And it doesn’t cease to amaze me with what courage, endurance and grace those who have the most challenging responsibilities, carry out the various humdrum tasks that make up most everyday lives.

The other day, anxious to get a second opinion about little T’s recurring chest infections, we decided to consult a friend’s paediatric mum. Although I had met her umpteen times at the school gates, when she would replace her daughter to pick up their little Z, seeing her in her own home, made me register her physical presence as though for the first time.

A small-built, large-eyed, long-haired woman, she embodied at the same time the easy, disarming, child-friendly mannerisms all good paediatrics (and a lot of the times, female ones) assume while retaining a hard-to-miss quickness of wit and for the lack of a better phrase, a cutting and impersonal ruthlessness of one imbued with a scientific temper in the way she surveyed habits, enunciation and living conditions. (More on this, in a bit.)

She ushered us in, in to her pleasantly sunlit sitting room and while asking me about T’s symptoms in great detail, she kept an eagle eye on T as she slowly got comfortable in the place, encouraging her to explore her terrace garden and stopping me from checking her about using the toddler bicycle parked in Z’s guest room.

While simply watching T in this fashion, she fathomed that although T did still carry the reside of a viral infection, she was definitely on the mend given that she was jumping around trying out the doctor’s furniture and that she was not wheezing while doing so and that she was talking to us quite animatedly in the midst of her antics.

In a couple of minutes, encouraged by the doctor’s sincere openness and generosity, T ventured into the recesses of the house and discovered there was an elderly grandpa resting in a room.

Although my friend had told me about it, I didn’t quite know how to broach the subject. But once my little girl chanced upon him, I got a great way to ask whether that was indeed my friend’s granddad.

The doctor said it was — her 98-year-old dad who had been living with her and the family for the last 10 years.

And then just as she began talking about him, her ‘professional’ face fell. She became, just the grown up daughter of her elderly dad who was thankfully (for himself and her), still mobile, coherent, expressive and communicative but at his age of course, frail, and in need of frequent rest.

And I thought, how ingeniously people and especially women find ways of carrying out their responsibilities as mothers and grandmothers; as wives and daughters, and when needed, all at the same time.

For not only does she care for her elderly father in her home (which she runs along with her husband), she also babysits her granddaughter when she is back from playschool and of course loans her home and all its well-oiled services to her lawyer daughter when she needs to run to court to attend to any pressing case.

And although each role doesn’t necessarily overlap with the other, in the work she needs to do and the attention she needs to give, she finds a way of somehow doing them all, energetically, with great involvement and in a spirit of optimism.

God bless her and all the other people I have had the opportunity to know in the last few years who do so much, without ever thinking they are, and without ever acknowledging how pivotal they are to the sanity, health and happiness of so many around them.

And I am proud to add, even if as a postscript, that this of course includes my wonderful, never tiring, ever loving mum who is now far more little T’s grandmum than my mum!

Celebrating ceremony

On festivals, birthdays and other anniversaries that marked our lives, my father would wake up earlier than usual to have a bath (or shower, as is known in most other parts of the world) after which he considered himself ready for the rest of the morning.

Although he didn’t care a hoot for any of the other prescriptions that he grew up with, this was one rule that was close to his heart. That one was not really fit to greet the world, until one had bathed away the night’s langour.

On such special days, before he went in for his bath, he would hover around his cupboard housing his neatly stacked rows of kurtas. And after some deliberation and sometimes consultation first with my mother and then me he would decide on the one that he thought best suited the occasion and his mood on the day.

At the time, all this deliberation used to crack us up. It was like watching a royal production that took its time and came on stage only when its sole actor felt really prepared for the lights.

But now, when I look back on it, I feel fond and proud — and deeply grateful to have grown up around someone like him who taught me to look for and respect detail; to value deliberations — and to give my all in marking special days for myself and those around me.

Putting it Together

“Putting it together,
That’s what counts!…

Putting it together
Small amounts…”

Dear readers mine,

It’s been about three months now since I plunged into the world of blogging — and my word, do I love it!

I don’t get to read as much of the wonderful writing out there as I’d like to — but in a funny way I feel more connected to writers and writing, everywhere — and progressively less fearful and anxious of publishing in this manner — a rather aptly, naked form in our hyper connected, post-modern world.

I really admire the searing honesty with which some of you, especially the parents among you, share your raw experiences — and I feel humbled by your courage and openness in sharing them.

They make me fell, suffice to say, less alone in my own ‘mountain climbing’.

I cannot think of any other experience so profoundly life-changing that is so poorly portrayed (or partially portrayed) in order to resemble at all times, a perfectly lit and perfectly composed work of art.

And yet the taboos against describing it, in its many hues, are many and deep-seated and understandably universally shared.

So thank goodness for humour and wit; grace and wisdom which help us re-tell and re-imagine our lives and help us transform those sometimes harrowing moments of utter despair and heart-break as parents into dazzling luminosity.

A clash of cultures

Being on opposite sides of the work-flex debate probably only fueled our already obvious differences.

The head of editorial and production at a large publishing and printing-house began the exchange badly by asking whether I thought I was the only parent in all of Delhi who had a child at home.

And worse, actually said, with all sincerity, that a three-year old child did not deserve to be called little anymore.

The immediate cause of her ire was that I, despite being shortlisted for what she certainly thought was a hot job at her organisation as head of copy, had the gall to enquire if I could do half days simply because I did not want to be at the other end of this large, sprawling city for more than a couple of hours.

Now, a few hours after the rather unpleasant and unbecoming exchange, I can actually feel compassion for her. And I don’t at all mean it sarcastically. (Well, okay, a tiny bit…: )

I mean this is what all of us are drilled with day in and day out.

The cost of living is rising, a good education costs a lot, the older you get, especially as a woman, and even worse, as a mother, the less desirable you are to the work force, children need to get used to the harsh realities of the world and not be molly coddled, they can thrive equally well in the hands of an ayah and so on and so forth.

I can’t dare say the first few concerns don’t affect me but I am quite sure that suitable work, preferably not too far from home and preferably not full-day, will eventually work out.

Simply because things do have a way of working out.

Or so I believe so far.

And until then I can bask in the glory of being told by our favourite cab company’s head on the same day as this godforsaken job interview that he was very touched when I corrected the little three-year old when she called him (as a lot of people unfortunately in this culture and this city do), ‘driver’ — as though he were a job, not a person.

He said it had meant the world to him that there was at least one young child who was being taught to not mindlessly replicate the predominant abhorrent etiquette of addressing those considered beneath their class or station, by their occupation, rather than their names.


My dear readers/viewers

Dear anonymous, readers mine,
Please, wouldn’t you, leave behind a line?
Whence you found
This space of deed and word
A little bubble
Floating from my mind

(Okay, terrible poetry, but please, do comment on how you came upon my blog, what made you read the entries you did and what you thought of what you found.)

The thrill of deadlines

It happens every time.

Despsite having planned it all well in advance, thought about, scribbled down, edited and rewritten all the various bits and bobs that are to become full-fledged copy, it’s only when the deadline is looming on the horizon that we, the two-member, geographically splayed editorial team of our small-sized, grand themed mag really get into the groove.

And I have to say, there is something about deadline pressure which is actually quite thrilling.

Working against the clock, being totally consumed by the act of thinking, pruning, rejigging, rewriting one’s own and each other’s copy, and being rendered unavailable, well nearly, to the rest of the world.

It reminds me of a writer saying that one of the greatest pleasures of work, and especially that involving doing what one loves, is exactly that. The gift of oblivion. The immersion into something that ensures the loss of oneself. At least temporarily.

Until the world comes creeping back, leaping back in.

Wonderful, wonderful world.