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.

 

What Dreams May Come

For every student who dabbled in Psych, Sigmund Freud is a part of the study one couldn’t escape. He was the pit in the cherry or any fruit that you had to eat around and eventually spit out. And now I’m doing justice to both my Psych and English Litt backgrounds by using metaphors and also showing my subtle dislike for the man.

Image result for snake dream meme

But dislike aside, pioneers usually pave the way by being the first one to *do* or propound something. In the course of time people run with it, either disprove it and tear it down to build anew or to use it as a foundation for their thoughts and research.

Image result for freud dream meme

Why am I talking about the dirty old man of Psychology on this fine, breezy morning? Well, he spoke and researched at length about dreams and their meanings and I can barely count the number of times I’ve seen non-psychology students get his book and flip through the pages and try and find a meaning for the dream that they had.

Image result for freud dream meme

I have rather vivid dreams, complete with background scores and set decor sometimes. We all pick up cues from our environment all day long. Some we’re aware of and others hover on the edge of our consciousness and come out full force when the guards are down aka asleep.

Image result for dream gifs

It’s not only the bad dreams that startle us or make us think. Prima facie even a “happy person” who’s looking forward to something fun and positive could have a dream that makes them think, “why that dream? what could it possibly mean?” And the answer can sometimes elude us and at others it’s right there in front of us.

Image result for freud dream meme

I have no idea why I dreamt what I did last night. I don’t even know for sure if it was negative in it’s connotation. So many things get tainted with a negative slant because of fear, misinformation or just because of stereotypes when it could actually be a far more benign thing.Image result for freud dream meme

And sometimes a dream is just that, a dream and not something that needs to be dug into deeper. I’m playing Roberta Flack’s Set The Night To Music while typing this post out…it could mean nothing or it could mean the nights have to be waaaay more chillled out for me going forth.Related image

But one thing seems certain, my kid needs new toys. If I find another reptile while I’m brushing or making the bed or see him search for poisonous snake pictures and videos on my phone then the blame’s squarely landing on a particular pint sized person who clearly overshares his interests with his reptile-fearing parent.

Image result for excuse me do you have a minute to talk about our lord voldemort

Mommy over and out!

 

Selectively Linguistic

My native language is Bangla. Am not entirely proficient in it. I can speak it but the “purists” can usually gauge that I’m not one of them. Apparently it reeks of being an “outsider” aka from outside the hallowed boundaries of West Bengal.

I can manage to read and write it but it’d be better if I didn’t. I can manage better with Gujarati and can more than scrape by in Hindi. Not counting English here since it’s the global ‘must-have’ language we were brought up to regard and revere.

Red’s native tongue is Telugu. He’s proficient in speaking, reading and writing. The less said about his spoken Hindi the better. I’ve written a few blog posts trolling it and he hasn’t been a happy camper.

The Offspring (TO) has chosen English as the language he’s most comfortable with and is sticking to it with the tenacity of barnacles on a sunken ship. See…all those years of cramming figures of speech in my head finally did some good.

Anyhoo, back to TO. He has been spoken to, yelled at, cajoled at, cooed at in both the languages Red and I speak in but somehow it was the whole water&duck’s back scenario.

But every now and then, he slips up and answers, verbally or non-verbally, in response to a question asked in Bangla. And it makes me annoyed and smug at the same time. Would it hurt his otherwise perpetually busy mouth to speak a few words in other languages? Especially if they’re a part of his cultural make-up? But noooo…one cannot hope to prevail upon children of today over these sentimental issues. They (the kids) are pretty pragmatic and don’t see much value to doing the ‘little things’ which make their folks giddy with happiness.

This morning over breakfast at a resort we’re staying in, I asked him if he wanted a repeat of his soupy noodles. I asked him in Bangla and he shook his head no. I asked him again just to be sure and he said “No”. When Red asked him a bit later, he still said no. So no was the way to go.

But am onto his little tricks. He pretends he doesn’t get what I’m saying when I speak in a different language but I know better. No kid can spend 7 years being scolded in a language and not pick up bits and pieces. No sirree!

Although, and am just playing devil’s advocate here, given his Bong genes that are predispositioned towards food and gluttony, he could just have memorized every tense of the phrase containing the words ‘eat’ and ‘more’. Going by my luck with this boy, it’s far more likely that’s what he did.

There go dreams of my conversing with him and teaching him the mix of Banglish (Bangla+English)+Hinglish (Hindi+English) I usually speak.

I is sad. I is annoyed. These kids! #smh but since every parent’s goal is to get their kids to do things without telling them 20,000xs or throwing stuff at them; as long as he answers back in ONE language I guess that’ll have to be enough.

Siiiiigh.

Oh God! You Ape!

The Offspring (TO) had his second brush with the Big Questions- where did all life come from, does God exist et al? The first one was when Red’s grandma passed away.

Apparently the child who can believe in different categories of dragons, is having trouble believing that a “Supreme Being” created Man.

He got off the bus one day, engaged in a minor aggressive strap fight (hitting someone with the strap of the bookbag) with a classmate. The reason? The classmate sided with another child who said God made the Earth and people and is R-E-A-L. TO took exception to all of the above and then the problem began in earnest.

Most parents tell their kids that God exists and He should be deferred to because he made the whole universe etc etc. For Hindus, we have a whole smorgasbord of Gods to choose from and we even mix it up depending on the days of the week or festivals or situation that’s on our radar. Might sound flaky but it isn’t. Just years and years of indoctrination in following and believing in a way of living that works for most of us.

Red and I discussed raising TO to either believe or not believe and decided that we wouldn’t stop him from getting exposed to religious practices that are a part of our traditions and surroundings but neither would we fill his head with stuff about Heaven and Hell.

However, we have not got around to taking him to temples or any places of worship either; proactively. If it’s happened, it’s been purely incidental. And in the process we have a child who has questions about a LOT of things but who essentially perceives the world mostly in black and white.

His thinking hasn’t allowed much of gray to seep into his cognitive palette (ooh that’s a nice example of a neologism) and he tends to be rather absolute as for the most part.

When I was listening to him talk about the “incident”, I asked him how he knew there was no God or that He/She hadn’t created the World and he said that he’d learnt in science that homo sapiens came from apes. And that all life started from small “things” in water and then they started to grow and change and we got reptiles, birds and dinosaurs. The conversation unfortunately lasted too long while being expounded on dinosaurs but that’s par for course. *rolls eyes*

Then came humans who were weird looking (am paraphrasing here) and who crawled and then they learnt to stand up and walk straight. Then we got apes and “normal” human beings.

I kept trying to ask him in as many lay terms as possible about the point of origin of creation etc and finally simplified it to stating that reptiles, birds, mammals are all different from each other so how did all these different forms get created. For example, where did the monkeys come from? And pat came the reply- from monkey parents. Can’t top that can you?

So cheers to you Darwin and whoever and whatever created the world. We’re sticking to our monkey parents, thank you very much!

P.S: Maybe when he’s 30 I can tell him my theory about the galactic amoeba who may be responsible for the whole kit and kaboodle!

Lost In Translations#501

TO has an accent. We’re not sure which country it belongs to. It’s a relic mishmash of whatever animated programs he’s grown up watching. 

He, however, doesn’t know Hindi; a language he loves listening to songs in. His pronunciations are decidedly foreign and poor dear Alexa often has problems deciphering what he wants.

The new addition on the playlist is Dilbar. TO pronounces it as Dill(the herb)+Bar(the place where people go for a drink). Needless to say Alexa’s response of, “I don’t know about the DILL-BAR. Dill is a herb ah blah blah and bar is either blah blah blah”, wasn’t unforseen. By moi. TO was part- disappointed and part-annoyed that Alexa wasn’t “getting” it.

I was called in to speak Alexan and translate the song name into something darling Alexa could make sense of and finally when the song played I got the epithet of “My favorite mother’ and a hug…the rewards of a job done perfectly.

Hang on…I have to go again…someone’s trying to tell Alexa that there’s something called  ‘Abytoepaarteeshoeroueeaye’. My translator’s ears are picking up signs that it may be Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai. I’d better unconfuse the gadget before she blows a fuse.

Ta!

Lost In Translation#498

Kids extrapolate things based on their own frame of references. Mine does it quite a bit and even more so with words of a different language.

He loves music and at different times we have played hosts to quite a few different earworms of his. One of his old favorites reemerged due to a shuffle in his playlists and we were both humming along with it when he started off with that singsong tone he singsongs more whenever he has a question to ask me, “So A…is the Bulleya song about…?” And I reacted with a mother’s instinct and one honed from dealing with these particular gems- “No baby, it’s not about bulls. It’s about a poet and thinker (because early morning rushes are rushed enough without stopping to explain what a philosopher is) whose words have been put to song and who people sing about.”

And sure enough, came the expected rebuttal which led to this bit of head scratching fun-” But it says Bulleya…BULL-eya. Are you sure it isn’t about bulls?”Am positive! Baba Bulleh Shah didn’t have anything to do with bulls.” “Baba??” That’s what you call P (his nickname for my dad). Why is he called Baba?” “GO TO SCHOOL. BYE BYE. HAVE A GOOD DAY. LOOK IT UP ON WIKIPEDIA.”

Mom over and out. Oh how I miss Red when he’s out of town.

Your What Now?

Yesterday the offspring went back to school after a little over a 2 month break. Part of the back to school celebrations was a movie before the school opened AND a chocolate milkshake at CCD after school opened. I wasn’t in favor of milkshakes in this weather (rainy, gloomy at times and full of sniffles as far as the ear can hear) but hey…gotta keep the troops happy. More importantly it was to acknowledge and reward the rather difficult decision that was accepted by MLM of there being no television Monday to Friday and being allowed access to t.v. only over the weekend and in a measured manner.

I enter CCD and ask for a milkshake while MLM bounds about like a puppy let off their leash…he has his nosed pressed against the glass with the eclairs and chocolate pastries inside and looking like Oliver Twist. Whereas his mother, aka well-fed me, looks like I caused Oliver Twist’s situation in life. But more about my gluttonous ways later. Now, and this usually ends up happening to me (viz an inexplicably weird and slightly dumb situation) on asking for the milkshake I get this reply, “Madam…our BOGO is not there”.!!!

Reading something and hearing it read out can often have different reactions in people. Even when I read BO-GO, my mind processes ‘buy-one, get-one’. My mind doesn’t phonetically sound out the letters. So hearing BOGO, I said HUH??!! The guy behind the counter gestured in a downwards and sideways sweeping gesture and again said, “Our BOGO is not there.”

Image result for lost in translation meme

By this time, thinking of him lacking in some ahem…parts or “things”, I made a really sad face before it hit me that the BOGO offer wasn’t available any longer. I was so relieved to have understood him that I positively beamed at him and said NO PROBLEM! Which may explain his odd looks at me…since when do customers get happy about knowing that the free stuff stopped?

Image result for DUH mem