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.

 

Bloglet: Boomerang Bantering

Every now and then I use slangs with TO and often it comes back to me in a very amusing way. He was using selective audition with me today when I was asking him to do a couple of things around the house. I rolled my eyes at him and told him not to be a doofus. And bang comes back the reply, “You’re a doofus!”

I walk off and mentally tell myself to wait for it and sure enough comes the query,”Ayu, what’s a doofus?” I tell him it’s a silly person and he mulls it over and says, “Ok..you’re a doofus Ayu”.

Ah..summer holidays..such a joy!

Blissful Calamity: November 2010

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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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.

Book Read GIF

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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!

Don’t Have Kids…

but be around them. Children are Nature’s balm. They may come across as incomprehensible, demanding, whiny brats who you often fantasize about leaving on someone else’s doorstep, but kids have something we end up losing as adults- an ability to laugh at the silliest and simplest of things.

Take a little boy who’s recently become a friend of mine. He’s suffered an irreparable loss. That of a parent. He’s asked all the questions kids do when they don’t really understand death. He’s cried. He’s been sad and am sure he’s looked up quite often when the doorbell’s rung, hoping to see a particular someone. But while adults around him grieve and struggle to let go of their pain, shared and individual, he has his armor on and it’s keeping him safe. And the beauty of it is that it’s intrinsic 

He’s laughed at oranges that rolled off a table and went under a couch, a squishy grape that hit him on the chin while being deseeded, a wobbly banana that could no longer hold its pose and fell down with a splat or the little toy engine that went off the tracks and into the belly of an alligator.

He laughed again when he remembered what seemed like utter and complete silliness to him and seeing him we laughed as well. And felt a little better. Because unalloyed laughter is precious. And rib tickling, clamp-your-hand-over-your-mouth kinda laughter is infectious, uplifting and makes things seem just a little bit better; even on the really tough days.

Thank god for children. Thank god for all they find silly and thank goodness for fruits that’ve stopped being firm. It would seem that there’s plenty to be thankful for at the end of the day after all.

9

Red and I completed 9 years in our parenting journey. They have been a lot of things but never dull. 

We were handed a longish and skinny baby who filled out quickly enough and we couldn’t stop nom-noming on his cheeks, his nose and all his little limbs.

You have never been digustingly mushy and annoyingly gagworthy till you have a kid. The most absurd nonsense erupts from your lips. Goo-goo gaga seems normal. You string together the weirdest rhymes and play horsey and never think of your dignity at all.

Your offspring could be a bald, drooly, raspberry-blowing run-of-the-mill infant and you beam the instant you lay eyes upon him and think…isn’t that the most beautiful baby the world ever saw?! And the annoying baby talk starts all over again while the baby in question gazes at you in mild exasperation.

Time passes…baby gets weaned off, learns to poop at the right time, the right place and thankfully in the right way. He goes off to school and you keep watching for tears and separation anxiety; never realizing you’re the one going through it. The child will bounce back sooner than you.

Kindergarten gives way to grade school and then a laptop-toting 9 year old tells you exactly what they want for their birthday right down to the guest list, food menu and how they want to celebrate.

The next day you’re dragging their butt out of bed so they can get back on the school grind and the child is suffering from a post-party hangover. They are stuck to the floor doing a 500-piece dino puzzle and you’re giving them a minute-by-minute update of how late you’re getting and how the bus won’t wait and you see the same tot who looked at you with fuzzy eyes and no idea of how the world works. He’s not really 9..he’s still your baby.

Awww

A Post From The Past

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.

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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!

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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.

Nighty night!

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Saying When

I am a daughter of an never-diagnosed, almost-OCD father. And I mean that in semi-jest. Growing up, life was a series of bedspreads which had to be redone because of a semi-wrinkle towards the edge of the bed and the litany of “Perfection is NOT an accident.”

My mother, God Bless HER!, isn’t OCD but neither does she countenance sloppiness beyond a point. The kitchen is her domain and that is kept neat enough to pass a health inspection but not that neat that you can literally eat off the floor. I mean, who does that?

Life as a teenager was one of rebelling against having to put everything in neat piles in my closet against wrinkling my nose at the actual garbage dump I saw in the rooms of some of my friends.

Fast Forward to circa 2005 and I started dating a nice guy. I mean Nice Guy. But an unconcerned slob nonetheless. As long as he can find his shit (figurative one), then he doesn’t see the need to have after-school and school piles of clothes. Neither does he see the need to ball up his socks to make room in the sock drawer so things look and are neat. I never anticipated that while dragging my kid out of bed and out the door in the morning I’d have to locate spectacles, men’s underwear all the while letting the caffeine surge through my veins to insulate me against another day as a mother and wife.

The last 6+ years of my life have gone in maintaining more than basic hygiene and some modicum of order because of a baby. This baby has grown from a toddler to a grade school kid and isn’t much inclined towards tidying up unless his mother gets into her dragon avatar, complete with flashing reptilian eyes and slashing her spiked-tail. He’s more the sweep-it-under-the-rug kind of person, or chuck it under the bed. Breeding tells. Genes will kick you in the balls.

August this year my kid went off to school for 8 hours a day. This opposed to the 2-3 hours he has gone for the past 4 years. And I rejoiced. By doing nothing! Zip. Nada. And it felt goooood.

I let clothes pile up. Folding them but never completely closing the loop by either putting them away in the right closets. The couches became refugee camps for the clothes in our house. The futon in my kid’s room for his stuff and the dining room couches for a myriad of clothes, toys and God only knows what!

The house wasn’t a total dump but disarray was definitely the name of the game.

See, as a product of two slightly compulsive people who married a totally laid-back guy I’ve battled nature vs. nurture for the last 10 odd years. You can’t make your spouse over into a form that pleases you. You take the good with the bad or undesirable. And you make your peace with it either with post-kid-going-to-sleep whiskey or some rants in a random blog post or some disgruntled sulks aimed at said spouse when he finally gets back home.

And trust me, being inert doesn’t take much doing at all. It’s just a question of mind over matter. You stop minding it so it doesn’t matter!

You choose to not segregate the laundry piles and sit down to watch Modern Family because, hey! Phil, Cam and Jay are definitely more entertaining than putting away tiny t shirts which can (and will) yield to small hands pulling them into an untidy heap in a New York minute!

Watching New Girl is better than grumbling at the absent spouse who doesn’t give a rat’s ass that his well-ironed shirts are placed with care and consideration so the collars don’t get squished. He’ll shed his sweaty track pants on top of them anyhow and leave the closet door open as an additional insult to injury.

And so I let it slide. Disarray begot disarray. Piles moved from one couch to the other but never got unpiled. Till last night. After 2 months of being on a quasi-vacation from the must-dos at home I said WHEN.

I tidied up. Moderately. I mean I didn’t have a religious epiphany. I just looked around and saw that if I kept my overbearing-about-cleanliness parents and butt-scratching-mess-making husband out of the picture; I was actually a person who liked stuff tidy. I like it tidy enough for it to look pretty.

When I switch off the lights for the night I really don’t want to have to go hurt locker across the living room just to get my book, phone or any old thing from 5 feet away.

And looking at things in their own place makes my space look bigger and brighter than it actually is. And armed with that knowledge, I cleaned up. And will continue to clean up some more till the piles stay in their infancy and not get a chance to grow to an adolescent or let alone an adult stage.

It’ll never be the kind of home my folks would and could keep. And it won’t be the semi-bachelor pad my husband makes the house over the weekend but it’ll be space where I prevail and which reflects what I wanted growing up: the room to make the optimum kind of mess.

It’s funny being an adult. Some days you can feel yourself grow into your skin. It’s a surreal but a satisfying incident at the end of the day. At least you aren’t hopping on one foot till you hit your side of the bed because you stepped on the mini-dragon obstacle course your kid effortlessly designed all while getting ready for lights out.

Cleaning up is *not* a chore.

Amen.

37

I usually write a blog post every year on my birthday but didn’t get around to it this year. Reason? I was busy and happily so. 

From the cutting of the cake (usurped by the offspring) to a 2-margarita lunch with a good friend, to the usual suspects barging in to wish me a happy birthday; it was a good day full of good moments turned into good memories.

What’s been happening since I hit 36? Well, work is rewarding as ever. I play multiple roles and am a self-titled bouncer and I have to say I like it! 

I don’t think saying ‘NO’ to people is the draw there. It’s more about having some semblance of order and things being systematic; quite a few things I regularly struggle for in my everyday life.  And while that makes it sound like I live in perpetual chaos, it would be fair to say that the “order in the disorder” is a good way to sum up my home front.

A good friend of mine always says that she can turn her OCD on and off and I’ve embarked on the same path. There are days I can spend oodles of time straightening up, making more space and keeping things tidy and there are other days when areas of the house look like we’re ready to hold a good ol’ fashioned garage sale!

The biggest change for me is going to the gym from January of this year and while the results are not earth-shattering, they are steady and they are real…what more can you ask for while stomping your way to 40?

More books are being read, more pictures are being taken and more is being learnt about the self on a fairly regular basis. And new goals, essential and non-essential, are being set to explore more meaning, more fun and to mark the passage of time in more memorable ways.

So this is me at 37…looking forward to 38.

Salut!

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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