The Road Not Taken

Note: This is hardly an original title but extremely apt nonetheless, especially for this particular post. Somehow this post was particularly difficult to write. The words didn’t flow the way they usually do and I’ve made more revisions than I’ve ever done before, left it cooling on the rack as it were till I decided to just get it done once and for all. Read on…

I’ve often touched upon the nomadic life I’d led as a child. It was never dull whatever else it may have been. It was hectic at times and sometimes trying but never dull. And in the process the one thing I always wondered about was whether putting down roots somewhere was really everything it was cracked up to be and if it was something I’d be able to aspire to one day. Because after 9 schools and 11 cities you really wonder at times where it’s all going.

There was a point of time when I thought I’d got it figured out. I was much younger but without the rose-tinted glasses. Work was shaping up, other aspects of life were also pretty much where they needed to be. And then they changed. Not entirely drastically but they changed and the path that was taken has led up to today. And it’s been a good one for the most part. But a part of me wondered about the shape of things had the divergence not occurred. The all too elusive what-ifs occasionally rear their head and you can’t help but extrapolate things and wonder if you’d have been able to follow the blueprint through and where that might have got you.

Now nostalgia is just fine on it’s own, indulged from a few hundred kilometers away but when you get down to brass tacks and walk in the same paths the younger you did, sometimes it’s just not the same at all. Imagine a place, a cafe if you will, was something you zoomed into regularly like it was home base. The food tasted great, the drinks even better and the time spent there was memorable. And then one day, you walk in there after a few years and it’s not really special anymore. It’s run-of-the-mill. The place isn’t run down or shady…it’s just not what you want anymore. The younger you sure, the older you…not so much. And that can be a slightly bittersweet realization for those of us who sometimes want to desperately hang onto the vision of something the way we remember it.

I remember visiting my college with my best friend a long while after we finished our graduation.While the original structure was still standing, the new extensions to the building made it look more like a transport hub than the college where I spent 3 very significant years of my life. And while I’m not opposed to change, there’s change and there’s CHANGE. And as we grow up and older, some changes are inevitable and often seem irrevocable.

Nostalgia works well for some time but the deeper you go into it at times you realize that you aren’t acknowledging the most often critical part of whole situation- that you’re the  one that’s changed the most. Older, maybe wiser, definitely healthier (we’re a body positive blog folks) and once you get to that point; at best nostalgia can be a joyful interlude but one best kept brief. Because there’s so much happening now! The future maybe unknown but the past is something we’ve already gone through. Reliving it or attempting to kind of seems like walking backwards to me. Best to grab onto whatever’s happening now and hang on for the ride.

Here endeth the lesson.

 

Summer Reveals

TO tells me a lot of stuff but he doesn’t always share stuff I want to know about…how he’s doing in school, something new on his radar or just things he’s thinking about.

Now that we’re in the vacay mode, he’s sharing stuff from his school backpack. His drawing book came out today and he came and showed me stuff he’s made all year long. All 3 pages of it.

So here’s a glimpse of the “mindscapes” of a child-

The Stare

I have an almost-10 year old. He’s lazy like his father and me. We aren’t the gung ho types who jump to it and proactively clean and get shit done. We get to it when we can’t find things and usually at the last minute. Sort of defeats the purpose of being a housewife I guess but my parents’ cleaning gene escaped me but I wasn’t about to let it escape my kid. Not entirely.

We’ve made a deal; once he gets up in the morning he has to make the bed. Properly. Of course that’s when hands start to hurt and the bedspread seems to be made of cement rather than cotton but I’ve decided to be firm. What am also being firm about is the extent of halfheartedness I’ll allow in the task.

Today he went around the bed like a puppy chasing its tail in trying to get the bedspread to stay on the bed evenly. To say it looked like one of those asymmetrical dresses that seem to be the rage, would be downplaying it. Half the bedspread was covering the floor and the throw pillows were thrown on the floor and living up to their name and there was a little man brushing his hands with accomplishment saying, “Done!”

But I have learnt one thing from my father if nothing else…’The Stare’. My father is the master of ‘The Stare’. His stare is so potent that I could feel it burning through a crowded room, aimed right at me like a smack on the head. Btw, the beauty of this is that you don’t have to actually smack or even raise your hands…you frown and let your face settle in its most disapproving pattern and let it rest. The victim…erm the target is drawn by the vibes given off said face and is browbeaten into doing your bidding. It’s magic at its best. It’s a thing of beauty that I hadn’t appreciated while it was being leveled at me.

Over the years the stare as been leveled at others found to be lacking, an errant boyfriend here and there, friends who’ve been dressed inappropriately or when he thought I was dressed like a hobo (aka too casually for college and the sobriety of Chaucer and Matthew Arnold). And the stare burns into you…it’s like a Dark Mark that hovers till you’ve ceded to its commands.

Today, after TO kept playing tag with the bedspread I leveled my stare at him and after a few studied shrugs of nonchalance and innocence, he said, “OK FINE!!!” and made the bed. It could still do with a few tugs here and there but at least the bed’s covered and not the floor.

See, they don’t tell you these things in the parenting books. This stuff’s invaluable! Of course the stare’s something every married man is familiar with. They are also more familiar with the menacing tones of the phrase, “We need to talk”…

I think I’ll just dole out the evilness today…mwaaahaaa

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Happy Hump Day…

My day started a bit sluggishly. Alexa was chirping her annoying wake-up alarm that Red sets up but rarely wakes up to. I wanted to pretend that I had no To-Dos on my list and woke Red up and told him to get TO ready for school. And he did. TO even brought me a cuppa and gave me a kiss before leaving for school…ah the luxuries of life!

Certain days I am charged up to tackle things and tick stuff off lists to an extent that it surprises me. Red calls it my “caffeinated” state. I imagine it’s a bit more annoying to him than my usual levels of caffeine infestation (?) but it is what it is.

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I washed my hair, fueled up the car, got groceries and am halfway down the Must-Do list#1 and looking to make a solid dent in the Must-Do list #2.

Being a SAHM isn’t a chore. We run the place. We have more leisure than people realize, especially if we have the run of the house to ourselves entirely. But that can also lead to complacency. You could start streaming stuff while you do dishes, or sort laundry and some days you’ve binged watched an entire season of Bones before realizing that 2 laundry hampers are not empty and your husband doesn’t have clean shirts for the next day.

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But I have something egging me on…this week ends with the last day of school for TO. And then it’s a mini-vacay at my folks’ and back home before we figure out what to do with our time.

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Things will eventually fall into a more sedate pattern and more often than not, I’m going to be sprawled out on the floor next to him, licking the business end of a spoon while we snort down ice cream and watch some inane movie for the 99th time.

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So before that state of languid bliss (pshaw!) descends for the next 2 months, I’d like to get a feeling of accomplishment under my belt..however minor. Otherwise my days usually are exactly like this; on loop!

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Happy Humps To You!

Nostalgia Endures

My father moved around a lot while I was growing up. And it was a good way to live, everything considered. Met new people every few years, or met the same old faces in different cities and towns and had a good time catching up.

India of the late 80s was a vastly different place from what it is now. And while that is a rather DUH kind of statement to make, it’s still very true. In 1988 my father moved to US for a few years. And we were as FOTB as they came. While my folks still knew something about the country and the people, I knew bupkiss. And when the learning began, I was like a sponge. Red still likes to say that I’ve yet to leave the accent and thought process behind although the country was left behind decades ago. With emphasis on the decade. Husbands!

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For me it was a magical place. Imagine if the height of television watching till then had been the weekly mythological serials that the whole family lined up to see on Sundays and then cut to an 8 year old totally having a braingasm in front of a telly with more than 2-3 channels (back then) just for cartoons!

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And there began the journey with music. Till then music was what my folks played on the turntable or what was on the radio or the Bollywood stuff on the t.v. There had been a brief exposure to BoneyM as a tiny tot but that was quickly forgotten as well.

Suddenly there was VH1, and MTV and music videos galore. And it was amazing. It played 24/7 and all you had to do was listen and you’d find something that stuck to your mind. Good or bad it stuck.

Things which kids are exposed to in their formative years always stays with them. And so the 90s with its big poofy, hairsprayed hair (for both men and women) stayed with me. The ripped denim, Gene Simmons’ make-up and guitar smashing and for some reason Slash’s weirdly placed bellybutton…all made an impression. I don’t like B-52 but remember their music. I don’t like any songs from Shakespeares Sister but can listen to Stay on a loop at times.

And that’s why even after all those years, after having spent more time away from that influence rather than time with, I still fall back to that music when I feel restless and fidgety. Listening to Winger (never heard any other song except Miles Away), Skid Row and even Heavy D…all seem very very comforting. Because that’s what music does to you. It transports you to new (and old) experiences, emotions and by the time you descend back to yourself, you’re set. For that moment.

I have a varied playlist on my phone and every now and then when I hit shuffle it comes up with things which really make me stop and listen purely for the nostalgia quotient. And that’s when reality intrudes with a rather jarring sound- that of DJ Snake’s Magenta Riddim because small hands found the phone and thought it would be fun to shake things up a bit from the boring U2’s With Or Without You….kids!

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Nom Nom Nostalgia

Whether it was because of my turning a year older recently or me seeing that my child is slowly getting into the big kid phase of his life; I have been nostalgic to the core. It’s a very visceral feeling for me.

For every parent there can be a near-constant contradiction when you see and interact with your offspring. On one hand you see them real time, the way they are now and who they’re growing into. And on the other hand your mind tricks you into believing that it’s still the same kid who laughed, drooled, kissed you without rhyme or reason and just came for cuddles because he felt like it.

In our case, MLM has transitioned to TO a while back and still I can see the beautiful little boy he was with his infectious giggles, silly antics and utter and complete abandonment in the activities we used to do together.

He is quite close to his father as well with me having to put both on timeouts occasionally when they keep acting like…well, males.

But as I look back at the little home videos I’ve been taking of this child since he was a few days old, his utter silliness seems to have been reserved for me. From dusting my face to putting on pots and pans on our heads as helmets and me watering him and saying he was going to grow like a flower; it has been a gift every single day.

And while I usually make the snootiest possible face when people wax on eloquently or get sentimental about their little ‘princes’ and ‘princesses’, I have to say that I get where they’re coming from. But I can’t call my kid a prince…it’s too bland. Mine’s a wizard! Because he fills our lives with his own magic and inspires me even when I’m threatening to punt him off somewhere.

Good lord, the heat’s getting to me. Such maudlin thoughts right in the morning. Whaddya gonna do? We’re people with kids…going gaga over them is Parenting 101.

39

So here we are again…had to be, right? Birthdays being the yearly thing that they are. I am happy to report that the girth hasn’t kept up with my age. It would make turning 40 *quite* traumatic.

As time goes by, I find that I settle into these little traditions on certain days; birthday lunches with good friends. Bonding over booze is something that we cannot ever take too lightly. The same goes for importance of Bollywood music as it turns out. More on that later.

A good friend and I made a pact this year to discover new places (eateries) and try them out all through the year. And that’s been going on fairly steadily. I also try to make it for as many of the movies that I want to watch. Just got to head back before T.O gets back though and make it look like I’ve been busy folding clothes and doing laundry all day. Moms aren’t allowed to have too much fun without their kids or so the thought process goes.

Have more leisure time on my hands since I stopped working and most days are a heady mix of streaming something on Netflix and reading. It’s actually become a lot of rereading but books never go out of style. Especially John Sandford.

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My relationship with being healthy is an out of sight-out of mind kind of thing. If I’m not focused on it, it’ll never happen. And I end up losing focus very quickly in this area. Note to self: find out if ADD can happen selectively in a person’s life. All I can say is that I’ve not been patronizing unhealthy foods as much as I used to.

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diddly squats

This past year has been one that’s been quite memorable. More facetime (not app,the actual kind) with friends and a bit of travel here and there.

I’ve basically trying hard not to make too many plans. I’ve always been a planner. Long before summer break came about, my suitcase would be packed up and I’d enjoy the process of planning for everything I’d be taking along with me. The little joys as it were.

But while planning is fine, sometimes in planning too much you kind of miss the day-to-day. And the day to day is what adds up to everything else when you sit back and look at everything that’s been done. So that’s the focus now. Plan but at a slower pace and sometimes just let things happen. My kid broke a hand. We dealt with it. He’s now swinging from monkey bars and swinging cricket bats with equal ease. Can’t plan for every eventuality and when stuff crops up, you deal. Simple. Red left his job, took a sabbatical and then got back on to the grind sooner than we thought. The only plans we made uber seriously, were about securing the future for our child and us. Everything else was icing on the cake.

So while I’ll never be the fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda person, I’m still going to (try to) take it easy. Maybe. Possibly. I’ll make a list… Sheeesh!

A quick look at the day itself and the night after.

Jager Bombs!

The jingbang who help cut the cake every year

Salut!

In Bits and Pieces

I have a MAJOR quirk. I NEED things personalized down to the last detail to feel comfortable in a few things that I dabble in. For eg: the phone I use will need the font, wallpaper and ringtone done ‘just right’ before it’s ready for use. The same applies to my blog. Aesthetics or functionality; whatever be the case.

Till now I’d kept my rather obscure photoblog separate because it wasn’t texty and dealt with only pictutes but the need to have everything under one roof has been nagging me for a bit. So the photoblog will gradually be integrated into this one and there you have it. Quirk handled!

For now, enjoy (or not), the endless cloud pictures I just can’t seem to help myself from clicking.

Ta!

Movie Review: Badla

The first thing that strikes you about this movie is that Indian film makers are more than capable of churning out good flicks without the whole song and dance routine that seems to encapsulate Bollywood movies as a genre. Badla (Revenge) is a prime example of that. An adaption of the Spanish movie The Invisible Guest, Badla is fairly well-tuned game of cat and mouse played between Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu. But who’s toying with whom is the question that gets answered all the way in the last scene of the movie. And it’s worth the wait.

Based in London and in and around green but grim parts of England, the locales lend themselves to building up the tension in the movie. For once AB doesn’t have bombastic dialogues and fiery rhetoric that dominates the scene. I for one, like this older avatar of AB. His stock-in-trade character of ‘Vijay’ seemed very hackneyed and cliched and without much depth. Not sure calling him fine wine would do justice to his craft, but it’s great to see an actor embrace so much variety at his age and not get typecast to being a grandfather or only an old guy in his movies.

Taapsee with the stubborn tilt of her chin and non-compromising stance comes across as a woman who’ll fight tooth and nail to prove her innocence. She’s another actor who soaks up the essence of every character she plays. She’s defiant, she’s brash and she’s selfish and yet you don’t end up hating her. She’s quite human.

What could have been better was the entire role Amrita Singh played along with Tanveer Ghani (her husband in the movie). They had zero chemistry and their banter was trite and banal with both they seeming to be reading their lines for an audition rather than doing their final takes. One remembers the fiery Amrita of Chameli ki Shaadi and Aaina and wonders where that spontaneity has gone. Her somber dialogues too, fall flat and her emoting is not what it used to be.

Tony Luke (Arjun) is fairly believable as a self-serving, adulterous husband who’s trying to make the best of a bad situation. But one wonders if someone like Vicky Kaushal might have brought more gravitas to the role or even been perfect for it.

But this is one movie that people should watch because the lapses are very few and they don’t impact the flow of the movie enough to break our attention away from what will happen next. You remain hooked, wondering who’s going to walk away as the winner and who gets to have their Badla in the end. Although truth be told, things begin to present themselves fairly quickly in terms of what’s what. It’s hardly The Mousetrap. The ost is subtle and has hummable songs with AB rapping on the opening song Aukaat.

What is evident is this- more directors like Sujoy Ghosh, Zoya Akhtar, Soojit Sircar, Aditya Dhar (Uri), Anurag Kashyap et al should be making as many movies as they can and travesties like Zero and reboots of Judwaa shouldn’t be allowed. Bad things happen in the world these days, let’s not add to more trauma for the unsuspecting people out there. Make good movies people, like this one!

Rating: 3/5

A Bit Of Silver And Grey

In the last couple of years my reading material has been fairly unchanging. It’s been the likes of John Sandford (love his work), Carl Hiaasen (cannot get enough of it) and some new authors I came across courtesy the Kindle store. Amongst them Jana DeLeon stood out because while her work wasn’t “hardcore literature” it wasn’t silly fluff either. It was a humorous and quite likely an accurate look into the lives of people in a small town on the bayou in Louisiana.

Each character is well-fleshed out without cutting corners and being lumped into a group of hicks and rednecks who keep chewing tobacco and spitting on the ground. I mean stereotypes only take you so far after all.

The chief amongst them are two old ladies who were counterintelligence back in ‘Nam and came back home without anyone having cottoned onto their true colors. Over the years they’ve become older, more idiosyncratic but are still sharp as tacks and quick on their feet…most of the times.

I’m mentioning the old people here because in the books I’ve grown up reading, old people are relegated to a secondary status. It’s the cheerful grandma who bakes cookies or the grumpy grandpa who eventually gets the sulky teen to realize some truths about life. But these characters are not always flesh and blood. They are bit players. They add flavor but in a restrained manner.

The other series of books which recently caught my attention are by Amanda M. Lee about a family of witches who live in a small town in Michigan. Notice the small town motif? They have a great aunt at the helm of the family and while she’s not an evil witch, she isn’t above bewitching things to punish others or to get her own way. Whether it’s selling her home made hooch (again something in common with the old ladies of the bayou) or growing “glaucoma medicine” aka pot, under the eyes of the law, or wanting a pet pig she’s a character all by herself and rightly so.

The eccentricities that the old people can lay claim to because they’ve seen their share of things in life are nothing short of mindboggling to banging your head against the wall in frustration-types. And you just can’t make them back down and play ball with the rest of the lot. Not in real life and not in stories either.

Am glad that this segment of people have found their representation in books because we’ve had enough of rosy cheeked grandmas and fairy godmothers. We haven’t had enough of crocodile-walking, bike-riding, dentured women who can’t read without their bifocals and can down moonshine with the best of them!

Go silver!