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.

 

Tech-Savvy Woes

I’ve written earlier about the advent of Alexa in our lives. Red was in the market for good quality speakers and was considering buying Sonos and then suddenly got his head turned by the cute lil dot that now talks to us in a STRONG American accent and frequently gets our song choices wrong because she doesn’t get us much. And that’s funny because the offspring has his own twangy accent that sounds kind of like Alexa and yet they don’t always communicate correctly.

Properly enunciated crisp diction rings her bells though. Take for example, MLM wanting to hear Ra.One’s Chhammak Chhallo. He yelled out into the general direction of Alexa, “AlexaplaymeChamakChalo” and pat came the reply, “I’m sorry. I am unable to understand you.” El Brato grumbled, “Stupid Alexa” and then yelled out to me, “Ayu…come and tell Alexa the song I want to hear. It’s not listening to me.”

And there I was, speaking to the dot, yet again, telling her to play Chhammak Challo, said with tight lips and no hint of any accent anywhere. And she popped up saying, “Here’s ChamakChalo from VishalShaker”. I swear there was no difference between her and MLM but someone must have a hearing problem somewhere so I’m still running interference for them both and waiting till he asks me to tell her to play ‘Rashke Qamar’. Last time he asked her to play the song she played Paula Abdul’s Rush Rush

For my troubles, I get to hear the dratted song on loop till my brains start to leak out of my ears. *rolls eyes*

Signing off!

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Womens Magazines: The Serpent of Eden?

I used to like to read Cosmo and Marie Claire and Better Homes&Gardens until I realized that they weren’t reflective of my reality at all. According to Cosmo (and its ilk) life should be all about my body type, where I’m out on weekends at least 2xs a month and be having rip-roaring, toe-curling orgasms and have at least one LBD in my closet.

Whereas for working women and working mothers those things aren’t always viable nor always on our radars either. Even for the SAHMs, there’s so much to be done on a regular basis that while you may not feel like Cinderella, self-grooming can take a backseat and at times you do wonder if the gloss you used to sport has gone for good.

But the difference isn’t in the missing gloss, it’s in the new vision. Things change when you grow older. Midnight marathons of Evil Dead or Police Academy don’t usually provide the  fun factor. Going to a lounge can be fun for the first 30 minutes doing shots; but then you do want something cozier, less noisy and wine along with it. Dressing up to go out and eat seems tougher than dressing down to eat at home with the kid you try to get to sit in one place for more than 5 minutes at a time. Add veggies that the kid needs to eat and dinner time is one big negotiation fit for the corporate boardrooms.

And while calling women’s magazines as fluff is making a rather big generalization, it’s genuinely not all that realistic either. Sure, I get to know about couture, keeping fit and having a good time but the underlying glamor that seems to run through it all isn’t what most women’s lives are about.

For most of the working moms I know, and I know quite a few; getting their kids ready and off to school, maybe getting an hour’s worth of physical exercise and also using a hot iron on their hair is a pretty big achievement in the 2 hours you have in the morning. What a lot of these mags do is make us wistful for the life we think is not only possible, but is actually held up to our faces to emulate from. Sure, I’d like to be nicely made up whenever I step out of the house. I would also like be able to do decent eye make-up for a change instead of having lines that resemble a seismogram but is that it?

Having an exotic drink while sitting in Bora-Bora or knowing the right kind of Hermes scarf to pair with a power suit shouldn’t be the zenith of my aspirations. Or should it? But we also do yearn for that little elusive element in our lives. The one that comes with thoughts of lazing back on a tropical island or living in the lap of luxury somewhere, getting all whims and fancies catered to. And for me, most women’s magazines do provide that. Just up to us to choose what to grab and how much. And I’m pretty sure that I’m the wrong demographic for them because all I want to do is grab a book most of the times and curl up somewhere to read! I doubt I’ll be getting a french manicure anything this century.

 

Kids: Boon Vs Bane

The jury is still out on that one.

On one hand you can remember them as the cutest, cuddliest, chubbiest drooly monsters that walked around with a diaper-covered bum. And on the other hand you wish you could sedate them or keep them in suspended animation when they’re getting their best and most annoying bratty groove on.

At the risk of pissing off my husband, who is more predisposed towards liking the offspring and not wanting to punt him over the fence into the neighboring building, let me say that kids are the people who test your patience to the extent you want to chuck everything and join a convent or do a Hansel-Gretel with them and leave them in a forest clearing somewhere…preferably in a galaxy far, far away.

There are some day when praying for divine intervention does no damn good at all and the only thing that helps you get through things are longing glances at the booze cupboard or the promise of a weekend ending and school starting up again.

And kids really can be quite rotten. They are trying on the days they need to be angelic. They mouth off at the time when they need to be mimes and they stay up like owls on the nights you need them in bed and knocked out by 7:30 on the dot!

But if they always did what was expected of them they wouldn’t be kids at all. They’d be flitting about with wings and halos and spotless white clothes. Instead these oompa-loompas have decidedly tarnished halos and the wings which mimic the headless chicken scenario.

Oh well…c’est la vie.

 

The Malady of Summer Holidays

I’ve noticed that there’s a strange and inexplicable condition that happens to kids, especially mine over the summer holidays. They become deaf, louder, motor movements mimic being like marionettes with their strings cut or like mini Boomerang videos. Polar opposites but somehow they seem to be able to switch between them effortlessly enough.

The specific keywords that they don’t seem to comprehend are these:

  1. Get up.
  2. Slow down.
  3. Enough.
  4. No more (pool time, t.v., iPad, laptop, playing with water…till infinity)
  5. Get out of the pool.
  6. It’s late.
  7. Come home.
  8. Go away.
  9. SHUSH.
  10. GO. TO. SLEEP!!

Barring that it’s the same ol’ symptoms of childhood+boredom+curiosity all rolled into one delicious little buck-toothed package of silliness!

How To Talk So Kids Will Listen

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!!

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Oh Snap!

The brat has his little friends. They can be quite a handful from time to time.

One of them came over a little while ago and was practically nose-to-nose with the not-small t.v set. When I asked her to move back a bit, she scooched back barely half an inch. So I asked her to move back a little more and pat came the reply along with little arms akimbo, “if you don’t let me watch t.v. from here, why did you keep the sofa so close to the t.v.?”

After I did my goldfish impression viz mouth opening and closing my mouth wordlessly a few times, I remembered that I was in the role of the responsible parent and told her that it might spoil her eyes if she kept watching television like that, she again answered with a, “no! and glared at the t.v to come and spoil her eyes if it dared!

I don’t think the television will be taking up the dare.

 

Making Digital Media Your Friend

I started my kid out on digital media way too early in life. And I still regret it. But I absolutely CANNOT deny how wonder it has been for me as a mother and how helpful it is when I need more information, especially for my kid.

Today barring the frivolous stuff that he watches ( Spongebob and its ilk) he watches programs which fall firmly in the category of edutainment.

He started out with animated programs like Octonauts, Little Einsteins and is currently hooked on a program which I find very original and instructive without being too goody-goody- Wild Kratts.

The good thing about animation is it keeps things interesting for kids while not making it too stark. Like wild animals being trapped, poached or even tortured. And yet the message behind it is undiluted- respect all forms of life. Even a little worm does some good and even a gigantic whale is vulnerable.

My son has learnt about pangolins, aardvarks, giant squids and speaks of them so enthusiastically that I’m tempted to sit down with him and binge watch the entire series. He also hums tunes from Tchaikovsky, Handel and Grieg without knowing much about the composers but still being moved by their music.

I doubt I’d have been able to broaden his horizons like this on my own. Books help but young kids tend to a mix of learning styles until they end up favoring one style over the other.

Two thumbs up from my side. YouTube, Disney Junior and others stop the television from being the idiotic box in this day and age. So rather than fight the tube, we get the stuff on the tube we want the kids to watch. Easy Peasy!

Now excuse me while I go catch up on the Big Bang Theory reruns!

 

What I Learnt From My Kid’s School

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 Curve and 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’.

Here endeth the lesson.

Movie Review: Rustom

It’s good to watch movies. Good or bad. Gives one an idea about the kind of things film makers are thinking about and if they do have the pulse of their audience. With Rustom they succeeded in breaking out of the run-of-the-mill Bollywood masala grist and yet failed to craft a taut film that makes the movie goer sigh/nod in appreciation.

Based quite obviously on the Nanavati case that rocked the India of the 50s, the movie has a very staged look and feel with the characters not quite coming across as convincing in the roles they are essaying.

Akshay Kumar looks good in uniform. For a man his age he is in fine form physically but is rather wooden. He doesn’t come across as a Parsi at all and wears his uniform throughout the movie without it ever getting creased or dirty even while he’s incarcerated. Full marks to the jail dhobi!

Illeana D’Cruz looks pretty as a picture. Wears simple and elegant sarees and is quite effective as an ornamental prop. She neither carries the weight or punch that the role requires.

Esha Gupta smoulders like a femme fatale would and is by turns slutty and pull of pouty attitude. If attitude was the only requirement that the role had then she aced it and how! Barring that, she too has very little meat in her role and comes across as a spoiled rich socialite and not much else.

Arjan Bajwa is quite well cast. You can feel the smarminess come off him in waves and I can see him getting typecast as a Lothario in future projects.

People like Sachin Khedekar are rather miscast and arereduced to being ranting buffoons who really don’t belong in a biopic; even a loose one.

Anang Desai, Kanwaljeet Singh and Usha Nadkarni in their supporting roles add the necessary flavor and yet, despite it all, the movie leaves you wanting.

It doesn’t end in a manner which satisfies but neither does it disappoint in toto.

A bit of a limbo of a film and yet it’s good to see Khiladi Kumar embrace more roles of this ilk. He’s moved way past his Churake Dil Mera days...