It has been a while since I wrote. Been a while since I even thought of writing, to be honest. In the words of John Lennon, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans” and it it holds true even now, decades after he said it.
I turned a year older recently. Had my peeps around for a bite of birthday cake while TO manned or should I say preteened a live sundae counter. Kids were happy, dentists will be made happier still somewhere down the line.
The year started off well enough but came with a few hard knocks rather soon into the first week of January with us losing a loved family member and in March me losing someone very dear to me. My process of grieving is usually to write about my feelings or the person who has gone and pay them a tribute in some way but this time around it’s been rather hard and the words don’t want to come forth.
Apart from giving it time, I suppose there’s not much one can do but not everyone’s life is one we can celebrate in toto once they pass. Some lives you look back at and hope for all the turmoil they were in or caused, they gained a modicum of peace somewhere and didn’t feel agony or fear in their last moments. I find it a crushing thought to even imagine anyone I’ve cared about experiencing pain in their final moments. But one must try to accept what life throws their way, however jarring to the senses and move forward. I read an article sometime back about moving on vs moving forward; found it made sense. Posting it here for those who don’t mind a bit of gyaan but not an avalanche of it.
This morning when I started off with my morning routine of Wordle and a quick crossword, I realized how much TO’s influenced my life. The child isn’t a Ross Geller in the making from what I have understood. He can love dinosaurs and other buried prehistoric creatures without wanting to devote time in academia to truly enjoy it. The reptiles he loves have become integrated into our lives and our minds. One of the clues this morning in the New York Times Quick Crossword was Spitting _________ (a five lettter word) and I automatically filled in cobra. Once the crossword was filled, I found it was a different word entirely. Once upon a time I’d have been able to lead with the other word more easily but now life has a place which is dedicated to animal quizzes on road trips and amorphous plans around the world to see dangerous creatures or the slithering ones.
With summer break on the horizon along with exams, our days are busy and minds busier still. Hopefully the writing bug bites me again and I reenter the blogosphere properly and soon!
The problem with stereotypes is that they tend to persist, no matter how they started out. No matter how much of a fallacy it/they may be or how close they may also get to hitting the nail on the head. There’s a similar element with discrimination- it persists because it has a tendency to become hardwired into our DNA. Whether it’s something we personally subscribe to or not; it becomes a part of our environment.
The stereotype I dealt with was when I found out the author was a linebacker. I mean who expects a guy who crashed into others for a living, to be able to churn out this kind of a sensitive, hard-hitting, factual and yet engaging narrative. Aren’t all football players hugely built dumb jocks anyway? We’re all prone to judging and discriminating then; some more than others.
Often the stereotypes and discriminations go hand in hand- one feeds the other and keeps it alive. The dumb blonde stereotype could and possibly often does, lead to a blonde woman being considered as a good fit as a front office staff, ornamental and aesthetic but not necessarily one in a managerial position or as someone who could have a good amount of situational intelligence. A blonde guy could and often does get slotted as a Ken doll if he’s chiselled and happens to be a looker. Rarely does capability and potential enter the picture. And while this is a very loose kind of a parallel to draw, it’s one that exists up and down the country this book is set it.
Why go so far away? Right at home in India the stereotypes of and about the people in the Northern part of the country vs the Southern part have led to generations of ill-informed notions about people, their food, their lifestyles; which may not be accurate but often rear their head as discriminatory thoughts and actions.
And that’s why this book is so relevant, more than anything else, in today’s date. Because it forces a conversation about a long-standing, maladaptive, dysfunctional and degrading discriminatory system against a group of people. This ages-old discrimination has sadly become a way of life and the each side- discriminator and discriminatee both, living a self-fulfilling prophecy without always questioning it.
I don’t consider myself as a person of color because in my own country, everyone is like me. Just a few tints separate us on the melanin-distribution scale. If I were to go to a country that’s largely Caucasian then yes, I would be a brown woman there. But this book talks at length about why being colourblind is one of the worst things a population could be. Because being colourblind to the Blacks essentially ends up meaning being blind to their history, their struggle and their entire existence.
My interaction with people who are black was almost solely restricted to my classmates and people I would see around me, while living in New York as a child. We had Black History Month, we were told about Rosa Parks, Dr.King but all from the perspective of a child would understand. Sitting here in circa 2020, a couple of thousands of miles away from the BLM movement, I am not directly impacted by the injustices happening. But it pings on my radar. It talks about the state of the world, albeit restricted to one geographical area, where it’s possible to forget the core value of humanity and still be selectively humane to the rest of the world.
The reason this book took me a few days to finish is mainly due to me going back in time from 2020 to 1998-1992 (the years I was abroad)…I was trying to see if the child in me inadvertently picked up on vibes that the adult me now understands as any kind of oppression, ignorance or even outright discrimination. I can and I have.
The narrative of the black people and of the author isn’t just a lesson to be learnt from history about subjugation of a race of people in a specific country. It’s the notion of a person being less than human than another, purely on the basis of their features and skin color and how that’s become a staple tradition, becoming woven into the country’s historical tapestry.
The author, a black man from a family that never lived in the projects, went hungry or was ever on welfare, still feels what it likes to be a man with the skin color he has, when instances of police brutality, negligence and an overall suppression of a class and a race become the norm rather than the exception.
That essentially ends up being the crux of the book…to raise questions, to talk, to try and understand why things are the way they are. It’s not about currying favor for the blacks and get more than the liberals championing their “cause” but more about lowering the barrier and finding out why there still needs to be situations which call for the creation of the BLM in a nation which also touts the Emancipation Proclamation has a watershed moment in its history.
Whether you read the book or not, whether you feel that if sitting in a country that’s not the USA, this book’s relevance is less or lost; no one can argue that things can’t go on the way they are. There needs to be dialogue. Open dialogue where voices can be raised and blame placed but the kind of dialogue which spell out how people can and should be treated. There needs to dialogue about how extrajudicial measures need to be noticed and dealt with appropriately and how the rule of might needs to take a back seat to the rule of law.
Sounds utopian? Maybe. Possible. Probable even. But that doesn’t mean it’s not time things changed. In the US and whenever suppression occurs on the whims of those in power.
I have a couple of pet peeves that I have carefully nurtured over the years; hence the word pet. Here they are in no particular order:
Wet towels– thanks to Red and TO for making this a near constant in the household. Anyone touching my bed will think a chronic bedwetter lives here. Over time the amount of wetness has increased with sopping wet towels making an appearance every few days.
Food left uncovered– again…thank you Red for passing on this particular gene onto the offspring. There’s nothing more appetising than knowing that bugs were attracted to the grub we’re about to have and they might’ve partaken of it as well. Oh well..sharing=caring and all that jazz.
People who don’t punctuate and get their syntax wrong. C’mon…unless you’re being charged by the punctuation, please..for all our sakes…use a comma, a full stop, a semicolon and even consider capital letters just to break the monotony of the written word.
That’s all for now. I am off to a session that will help me connect with the energies of the cosmos and hopefully not care so much about non-punctuating, wet-towel using, food-uncovering people I share my space it.
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.
I wrote this post on a Word doc years ago and didn’t get around to publishing it. Discovered it today and publishing it because it’s still relevant and I’m still fighting for my space on the bed!”
Travails of Sleepytime
Many of us sleep alone at nights. And they are the lucky ones. The ones who don’t aren’t unlucky per se but they’ve lost that God-given privilege of rolling about on their bed all by their lonesome, unless something bad happens and well…that’s where couches (in conjunction with angry spouses) come in.
Why am I suddenly tripping on sleeping alone? Well let’s see now- the only child that I am, I graduated to a bed of my own at a fairly early age I’d say. And after that I’ve found that a bed mate (even a chaste one) just didn’t do it for me all in all. Something would happen that’d make me long to sleep. A-L-O-N-E!!
The current trigger is the hubby’s death grip on my coverlet. Boy! You think it’d be easy to shove a slender guy out of the way and dig out my wrap from under him. You’d think wrong. I’d have better luck excavating dinosaur bones somewhere. The sheet’ll be free once he moves. And he doesn’t move. Much.
Which leads me to another bone of contention. I’m a wriggler. When I get into bed for the first time I HAVE to wriggle till I mush out a nice cozy space for myself and get the place a bit warm in the process. Not everyone’s a natural bed warmer like my father. I remember some pretty cold winters as a kid when I’ve tried to sneak under his comforter because he radiates furnace-like heat when all covered up.
I sadly, warm up only the place I lie in and since I’m a twitchy sleeper by nature I seldom lie in one place long enough for it to get properly toasty. I inevitably used to wake up from a cold spot on the bed during the winters in various places I’ve spent my childhood in. Hyderabad not really having much semblance of a winter is definitely easier on my malfunctioning heating coils. Anyhow, I realized that sleeping alone is a gift that is never given again post marriage and during the times when you have clingy roommates in the hostel. But that’s a different cuppa tea altogether.
Take me for example- I frequently smacked the new groom across his face while we got used to sharing a bed. Now I can sleep pretty much anywhere. But he NEEDS to be on his left else he feels as if he’s deprived himself of a good night’s sleep. Don’t ask me why. It’s not as if the mattress people stuffed his side of the mattress with more foam and left spikes in mine right? But adamant he is and on the nights when I’ve occupied the left side, the following mornings have brought me face to face with Monsieur Le Grumpy.
Bonuses of sleeping alone #1 your posture can be anything at all and you don’t ever have to have people grumbling over you at odd times of the night about why you are mimicking the Karate Kid’s Crane kick in your sleep. So whether it’s a pose of a bird hatching an egg or a midget hatching a plan, your posture is your thing and you get to indulge in all sorts of jungle gym activities all while sleeping beatifically.
Advantage # 2- you can emit any kinds of noise from anywhere you wish and not be thought as disgusting or get an elbow in the ribs right in the middle of the gorgeous dream of you and….never mind who else. It’s a great and understandable provocation for bodily harm leading to murder if you’re startled away by a monstrous snort of your partner. That pillow never looked handier for smothering, am I right?
Drool is also another dread to have to encounter. Imagine while fast asleep, you roll over/ reach out and your hands, feet touch something cold, sticky and thoroughly unpleasant. It’s enough to recreate the bedroom scene in the Godfather!
Another reason to not let others in your bed, especially kids, is that they’ll never want to leave!! Mine starts out in his cot and somehow always ends up draped over my head, feet in my face, fingers tangled in my hair or moving around between the sheets like a wraith from the horror movies. Am convinced the hubby sleepwalks and then picks up El Munchkin and places him between us. And after a few attempts of his kicking his father (whose bones hurt your hands and feet when you make contact) my son’s permanently turned his limbs towards me. Courtesy my cellulite.
Apparently I often go *bleep-bleep* in the night after being kicked in the face or almost being pushed off the bed. I don’t remember them of course. I’m told about my runaway mouth across the dining table, over a cup of life-restoring coffee I’m; by a disapproving spouse in stern tones. But in my defense, I was in limbo you see. Formed of fatigue and memories of the days when I ruled my own bed and rolled around in circles, formed odd geometric shapes that were a puzzle to my mother.
For now I’ll just dream of sleeping by myself instead of tugging the sheet free (it aint gonna happen) and get a few winks in before the sheet usurper and the child repo agent (it SO feels like that) both work in tandem to have me lying awake through the night and working on another blogpost.
This is going into the category of a bloglet viz it’ll be brief.
There’s a book my husband bought me once the brat started pre-primary…it’s called How To Talk So Kids Will Listen And Listen So Kids Will Talk.Since the book did not mention anything about how to talk so husbands will listen and stop leaving wet towels all over the place; I decided not to do much about this book reco.
I already knew then and still know how to talk so my kid would listen- dress like a giant lollipop, have Play-Doh in one hand, the t.v. remote in the other and preferably enter riding on a dinosaur!
Maybe then….and maybe Utopia is just around the corner! Pshaw!!
Courtesy Facebook’s memories I get to know about how and what I was thinking not only on a time a specific time in the past but also how I was feeling. And when I wrote this post I was a bit more of an anxious mother, fretting about my kid’s school, academic “career” as it were and basically uncomfortable about not knowing what lay ahead. Fast Forward two years I’m still sipping at the font of wisdom that is Life and learning loads while my kid goes to school. Here’s how it is…
A child will learn at their own pace no matter what!
A teacher who loves kids (genuinely) will probably be able to teach more through affection and warmth rather than another more knowledgeable individual who is distant or doesn’t form relationships with the kids.
Digital media, chalkboard, flashcards are all props…native intellect needs to be stirred and awake for learning to occur.
Making things interesting is all fine and good but it helps that the biological age increases and life experiences help kids understand why they need to learn.
Getting a good night’s sleep and cutting off from anything academic goes a long way in learning taking place.
Physical activity- silly and unstructured or properly regimented aids in learning as well.
Learning can come from various sources provided it’s pitched at the right time and the right way.
Parents need the teachers’ presence more than the kids…just to be assured that all’s going as it should.
Taking a small step back from policing the child (even with all the best intents in the world) is a fantastic thing to do while they’re below the tweens.
Reflecting on what were turn-offs and stumbling blocks while we were students helps empathize and give the child space to assimilate their learning material.
Accepting that there’s a Bell Curveand your child will grow into a more permanent place in it, helps be good parents as well.
Trusting the people you entrust your kid’s physical, emotional and overall well-being to and yet realizing our role is constant in the whole scope of things.
Acknowledging that improvements- slight, steady or sporadic; are still a step in the right direction give you a good night’s sleep.
Long story short? The AC bus and the pool helps because trappings are important. But a teacher who makes sure your kid has a balanced meal daily and who can come back and share positive and negative feedback with indemnity goes a long, long way in knowing how to be supportive while your child learns about life. Be it from a tablet, a workbook or just from a walk in the park. Because a big part of being a parent is taking a backseat while your kid gets the controls of life just right. You have to deal with not always being able to call ‘shotgun’.
Ask a woman if she’s easier in her mind about being 36 years old versus being 36 in the waist and you can bet you’ll be on the receiving end of the MOST disdainful look which roughly translates to, ” Yeah right! AS IF! What kind of question is that anyhow? How DUH ARE you?!” and it goes on and on and on.
For someone who *is* 36 and enjoying it (so far), the fear of turning 36 in the waist wasn’t too far in the horizon. The girth has been expanding and innate laziness and a bad case of unstickittoivenessled me to think that henceforth denim (the wonder material and no, it’s not Lycra) might be something I could find and fit into with great difficulty.
And I’ll tell you why this is. The craze for skinny, low riding jeans for women seems to have taken over the world where the words comfort-fit are possibly the worst things you can say to a salesperson apparently. Each stack of denim, whether in the time-tested brands of Levis, Lee or Pepe, seems to have variations of skinny over and over again.
When a person like me, who hasn’t been remotely skinny EVER, heads over to shop for denim the sales people seem to gulp and summon their courage to tell me nothing is available in my size and probably won’t be unless I start to shop in stores which cater specifically to those of us who are more than reasonably well-fed.
I told Red I wanted a pair of new jeans on my birthday, the old one long having given up the ghost with all the thigh chaffing and splitting at the seams from my ever-expanding ways. He took it well although I suspect he had some scenes playing out in his head of me storming out of the trial rooms ranting about how only skinny people could shop off the rack these days for basic clothing yada yada yada.
And contrary to his usual manner of tasting his feet while he talks, he did not ask the sales girl to get me the largest size they had available. He merely gave me the floor and told me to pick what I liked and try it on. Phew…birthdays sure good days for husbands to learn tact. Sadly the next day they go back to square one.
Anyhoo, I picked a pair to try out and entertained scary thoughts of my own about all the huffing, puffing and jiggling up and down, hopping on one foot just to get the jeans on and then shimmying like you know who (the ladies who like to dance around poles with minimal to no clothes on) just to get the pants up to my waist when a miracle happened………….wait for it………………………………………………………………………………..The pants rose like magic (but not like extra-large clown pants) to meet me on their own. I was able to button the waist without doing the Lamaze huff-puffs and when I squatted to see how tightly the seams were being tested, they didn’t even whimper! Ask women how often they moon the trial room mirrors when test driving new jeans and you’ll have a bunch of women fit to cry their eyes out!
Manna from the heavens on the first pair of jeans?! Someone up there (or down there) wanted me to have a happy birthday for sure!
And what is the point of this rambling and avoidable description of me fitting into jeans? It’s not about the weight entirely. The older you get you do mellow but you also realize there might not be going back to certain things. A 28-inch waist for one. Not only because your kid would miss head butting your extra bouncy tummy and your husband would end up needing pillows to lean on instead of you but also because somewhere you made your peace with the flab. You certainly don’t want to nurture it but it’s there so what’re gonna do? You love to hate it!
Finding something that goes right, the way it’s supposed to, the first time around is a nice change from everything that you need to and have to work at. A pair of jeans that slid up the on the first try without any grunts out of you and were soft enough to sleep in as well, sometimes makes all the difference.
Now if it had turned out that my waist was 36 instead of my age, that would be a descent to a whole new level of madness and a totally different blog post altogether! We are talking a new level in the Inferno for God’s sake!
I can totally understand why certain people cross over to the dark side and embrace OCD. Well, given that we’re talking of OCD am guessing the embracing is a compelling act, ‘cuse the pun, por favor.
So laundry…yeah. It’s a necessary evil if you want to wear clean clothes and in case you don’t have a Centurion card to back up the expense of new clothes every day. The second biggest reason of laundry being a must-do is kids. You can always tell the significant other to turn the undies inside out and make do if he can’t find a clean pair (not that it *ever* happens in this household..ahem ahem) but you can’t tell your kid that they don’t have their favorite monster face undies or that their dragon tshirt that they wear as a uniform each time you go out to eat Chinese is still languishing at the bottom of their hamper.
But the act of doing laundry is something that has become a god-awful elaborate ritual. Earlier it was maybe putting the washing machine on a different mode for delicate clothes or a heavy load but now it’s a 3-4 step process in actually washing the clothes.
Take a gander at this-
Pre-treat whites and colors with separate bleaches for whites and colors respectively and keep aside for 5-10 minutes. But first test on an inner seam to make sure the bleach doesn’t bleach anything else except the damn stain and your son’s favorite tshirt isn’t missing a stegosaurus head or triceratops tail at the end of laundry cycle.
Use a special cuffs and collars liquid for the rings around the neck and well..wrists. These rings give me a slack-jawed look each time I see them. They rate right up there with the rings of the crop circles that has the world goggled. I just don’t understand how people who bathe regularly and one of whom I personally scrub till spanking red, gets rings around the collars. EVERY TIME.
Check on the pre-treated clothes and give a scrub if needed to get the stubborner stains out. It’s always needed.
Scrub seams, near the buttons a bit more delicately of the rest of the clothes.
Choose appropriate load in the machine.
Add appropriate detergent- powder on the days we’re washing jeans and everyday tees and the special liquid one for the Lord and Master’s clothes and school uniforms. Damn private schools!
Add fabric softener or yet more bleach depending upon how well each member of the family has fed themselves.
Finally, close the lid and send a prayer up to the Gods of Laundry and Washed Clothes that the clothes at least appear washed even if they don’t look sparkling clean.
And that, ladies and gents, is how I do laundry at home.
One the last few occasions I’ve asked Red to do the laundry (the last time was in mid-2015) his shirts still had the sleeved rolled up, I found 50 rupees in the pocket of his cargos and the drum of the washing machine was clinking like a Vegas slot machine when someone hits the jackpot all because the loose change hadn’t been kept aside.
Nuff said about why he will never do laundry unless I’m there to micromanage it entirely!
How do I get out this vicious cycle of cursing a blue streak while I look at the dirty clothes and wish there wasn’t any dirt, pencils in the world or that Indians didn’t need turmeric in their food?! I’ve actually thought about switching to all-white foods but I don’t see these two eating cauliflower and white sauce with rice forevermore.
In the meanwhile, Clorox will be my best friend for ever and ever and ever!
P.S: If this post reads slightly in the Cinderella vein, it is. Although instead of a buff Prince Charming, my version has a charwoman with a washboard.
It’s only 3 inches long but my big toe did come in contact with its great gaping maws…and this isn’t the first time there was a “dangerous” animal lurking where it shouldn’t have been. We’ve had similar incidentsearlier also.
Want to know what else is going on? Well there’s a mini Giant Octopus hiding behind the sink in my bathroom. Probably waiting to wrap its tentacle around my wrist when I reach for my toothbrush!
Or the crocodile that swished its tail at my nose last night when I turned over in my sleep.
The only saving grace has been the Stegosaurus (aptly named as Steggy) who was nice enough not to squish me when he landed on my head before MLM’s bed time.
Between coiled up snakes at Red’s feet during breakfast and Giant Squid’s surfacing in the shower cubicle, MLM’s toys are everywhere! Day and night and in every kind of scenario. The only place they aren’t in is the damn toy box.
Is this the same kid who used to go to Gymboree and do “clean-up, clean-up” after playtime was done? I can’t see hide nor hair of him anymore. It’s prehistoric reptiles and marine creatures as far as my myopic eyes can see and my toes can step on…sadly enough…