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.

 

It’s Probably For The Best….

Life offers up platitudes GALORE. Some are self-generated and the others are ladled out by well-intentioned albeit unoriginal people.

But platitudes, clichés whatever we choose to term them, do serve a purpose. The first time I saw this scene in Victor Victoria, it struck me for a reason I wasn’t able to define or even decipher as a teen. But as an adult there have been times I have replayed it or its paraphrase in my head. There *are* moments in life where clichés seem to tell it like it is. Loud and clear.

For instance, while you were growing up if you thought of yourself as a dynamic, capable, individual who walks the walk and talks and talk and is hugely successful and has all the requisite things that label her as having arrived, well you could say that you were one of the multitude who did so.

What is also true is that you are instead a part of the multitude who are the housewives who bake, fuss about the laundry and the kind of fabric softener you need to use, which kind of flour is higher in fiber for your kids and how your husband needs a hot meal when he gets home. You have turned into a Betty Crocker of sorts and aspiring for Martha Stewartness.

You search for the man of house’s socks and wonder if you have enough baking soda to take that weird odor in your fridge away or if you should use some vanilla-soaked cotton balls instead.

And if by chance, one day, when you wake up and realize that parts of your life have become a cliché, you can either run for the hills or accept that yes; while unoriginal it does make up for things in prophecy and thereby gain some credibility. So you aren’t the Prada and Christian Louboutin-wearing, Centurion-card wielding, big bundle of hotness! Big deal

It’s not a bad thing to become a cliché. Not merely because there are others out there as well but simply because clichés are enduring and they are a truism. You might not have wanted to become predictable or a type but you have become who you could in life. If that means you cut out coupons before going to the grocery store, so it be.

While the “stand-out-in-a-crowd-types” try to maintain their individuality, it’s the clichés who silently rule the world. Or the household with the sweet smells coming out of the oven and the lemon-scented wood furniture at the very least!

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.

 

Realizations: Gym Diaries

For all the smart alecky stuff I’ve written about my gym experiences, one thing stands out sharply in my mind; people have no business not being healthy!!

The larger you get from eating unwisely, the flabbier you get from not having adequate activity to stay fit and strong; the longer it takes to get to even the starting point of good health. And it’s hard; to say the least.

Being a short and heavy person, it takes me that much more effort to leverage my body up when I’m trying to tone up my torso. My upper body gets in the way of my trying to tone up my lower body and due to a sedentary lifestyle, even my wrists and ankles aren’t as steady as they ought to be.  The problem is we seldom break down our bodies beyond the cellulite, chunky parts and consider the wrists, elbows and ankles unless we sprain them somehow. The fact that they need to be and should be strengthened as well does escape most of us. Ironical since they are the levers and fulcrums that keep the body moving.

Today I was feeling Sisyphus‘ pain. Imagine doing something that’s supposed to get you to a better place and feeling bone-weary at the end of it; then resting up just to do it all over again. The means justifying the ends or the ends justifying the means has also never been more garbled for me.

And all this contemplation isn’t because the sweat got into my eyes, burning me this morning but because each time I came up against resistance in my body, I kept thinking that all this could have been avoided.  And should have been. But hindsight is usually 20/20 and all it can do is help us learn from the choices of the past.

So here’s to more protesting muscles, sweaty and dishevelled me staring back in the mirror but hopefully headed to a lighter tomorrow when climbing stairs, swimming laps continuously aren’t going to be viewed with trepidation but as something that’s can be achieved as a norm and *not* as the exception.

PS: Tomorrow we will return to the usual tone of the blog posts. Reflecting too much on what could have been is giving rise to major existential angst and my brain is too tired from the hip hinges I did today.

 

Free-Range Vs Helicopter Parenting: Indian Scenario

I am all for being a hands-off parent. I really would like to be able to observe my child, see him grow rather than always be present while he is doing his thing. For someone who has been a SAHM from the first moment, it is quite a treat to be able to see your child interact with their environment, peers and the world at large without literally (and figuratively) pulling at the leash.

However and this is a big however, the concept of Free-Range parenting  isn’t always viable for the Indian mindset or for that matter the pan-Asian mindset.

While I cannot comment knowledgeably on a generic Asian temperament per se, let’s just say that it allows for a lot less permissiveness in the interaction between children, young adults with the adults they encounter. It’s not borne out of a compulsion of seeing the kids become “docile”, “controlled” or even submissive but out of a Father/Mother knows best funda which seeks to leave decision-making in the hands of an adult till the child reaches the sensibilities of an adult and can take independent decisions and their consequences.

And that’s ultimately what any parent worth their salt is concerned about- consequences. Children primarily lack the ability to make judgement calls before a particular age sets in and I personally believe that for quite a few people, that age usually starts in their late teens or early twenties. The reason being that while they reach this age the gamut of experiences that they go through are more definitive and they pay more attention to the learnings that arise out of it, rather than having the moral of the story outlined (if you will) by their parents the way it was done during their early years.

And let’s not even open up the can of worms that includes predators et al. The world is a difficult place to navigate even for adults. Children with their innocence/lack of experience aren’t always able to gauge with certainty who they should place their trust in. A child is a child for a reason. Despite being conditioned to be responsible, or inherently of a more compliant nature, a child can lapse into carelessness, callousness and self-indulgent behavior because knowing altruism, benevolence or how to do the right thing isn’t what the doctor ordered for a 7 year-old.

And to expect them to be any different is to expect munchkin-sized adults to be walking around while looking much cuter than the normal-sized ones.

And what does this have to do with being a Helicopter Parent Vs. A Free-Range one? Well as adults we learn about balances and being a parent is the toughest balancing job in the whole world. The tightrope walking kind of pales in significance because there isn’t always a safety net and the worst case scenario is far worse than any of us could begin to fathom. So it comes down to this…is it better to suffocate your kid as a helicopter parent or not know where your kid is or doing what and to what extent because you’ve eased up too much on the free aspect of free-range parenting? Isn’t even a mild case of paranoia a given for a parent? Or do we actually sleep better knowing a 10 year old will definitely look both ways before crossing the street or a 5 year old knows what intuition is and is guided by it?

So while I veer more to the side of helicopter parenting (much to my chagrin) on matters of education, teaching of good behavior and imposing of rules et al; there are times when I can wear the mantle of a free-range parent as well. And I can give a good amount of leeway only because I stayed close, watched every step and made sure the most avoidable dangers could be identified and well…avoided. Some days I hop,skip and jump all over the place being both kinds of parents because the situation and my innate nature demands it.

But know this, no amount of parenting will help if an asteroid hits the earth and wipes away all of humanity. All you can do is know that you are being true to yourself while you bring your child up and despite all the time-outs, angry glares and whatnot if your child is genuinely happy to see you first thing in the morning and runs to tell you about every scrapped knee to every new bug he spotted on the road, then maybe, just maybe you haven’t screwed it up.

Just something to think about.

 

 

I Know Tedaktal

Doesn’t make any sense at all? Well this is such a spelling that even a spell check might not help. So lemme reveal the actual word behind the mangled one- Pterodactyl. Whoo! that’s a doozy isn’t it? Given that it’s not even spelt the way it’s pronounced.

Anyhoo MLM’s learning about dinosaurs at school and is QUITE pleased about the whole thing. We watched Ice Age: The Dawn of the Dinosaurs with more enthusiasm and understanding than ever before and he pointed out a Tedaktal to me. Only because they were showing a scene where a pterodactyl was flying about that I was able to follow him.

But I also had the most informative discussion with him on the way back from school. It started out like this:

Me: What did you do today? Had fun?

MLM: Yes. I saw a Tegosaurus.

Me: You DID? WHERE?

MLM: Skoool!!

Me: What did it do?

Me: It eat plaaants.

Me: Ok…what other kinds of dinosaurs does your school have?

MLM: Taiserotops!

Me: A Triceratops?

MLM: YES! Taiserotops.

Me: What does it do?

MLM: Eat plaants!

Me: What else?

MLM: Me T-Rex.

Me: Really?

MLM: Yes… T-Rex eat ice cream, chocolate…(fades into mumbles since mouth is busy chewing).

Me: Shall we go home and watch the dinosaur CD?

MLM: YESSSSS!

Me: Oh crap…what have I done?

MLM: let’s go home, let’s go home, let’s go home ( into infinity)

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