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Turbulent Tweens

The word ‘turbulent’ here refers to the frame of mind of the parents of tweens and not the tweens themselves. Honestly, I can even begin to take a gander at what these self-involved little hoomans are thinking, with half their brains trying to not give into the sociopathy that kids seem to have a blueprint for vs the sulky, snarky era that apparently spans the way ahead during their teenage.

While I have often wished and wished hard, that I could be one of those parents who fawn over their kids most of the times; I am unable to suppress my gag reflexes at the thought of constantly thinking of TO as my “little prince”.

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‘My-little-pain-in-the-ass’ seems closer to the mark and I’ll tell you why. My usual interactions with him seem to go in these directions- A) I’m a slave driver and he’s a slave especially when it comes to getting him up in the mornings B) I’m not justified in asking him to bath properly rather than just looking at the soap and imagining himself as properly lathered, C) Expresing disappointment at the state of the loo post his using it (Ok now that’s the problem with most men but I’m trying to get him to be a bit more aligned to women in this regard), D) Me not behaving like we offer room service when the water bottle, glass etc is just two steps away. See? It’s not him, it’s CLEARLY ME!

This is the starting of the age when anything that comes out of my mouth is met with a “no”. And it’s not like when he was chubby, drooly and cute and saying no because it was a new word he’d just learnt and wanted to use it to death. Now the ‘no’ comes because he clearly has a setting activated in his brain that says keeping pushing that short, round woman in front of you till her head explodes. It’s not a fun time for me. And am told it gets way more interesting from here on. See how I effectively demonstrated the use of an euphemism? My English teachers are doing this somewhere-

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But getting back to my causes of being in a snit- the kid’s growing up. Acting dumber at times sure, but growing up. He doesn’t fit into my lap, he’s not soft and squishy anymore and it takes more and more work to not flick his ear in irritation every damn day.

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So pretty much on most weekdays and definitely on all weekends there’s a scene playing out which looks like this. For those of you who aren’t parents, that’s TO’s confused “What did I do look” followed by my “Eye of Shame/ I’m a part-time Medusa” look followed by TO’s nyah nyah attitude which in turn in followed by my “Now I’m seriously displeased look” and that’s all topped off with Red’s “Oh man! I have to run before they ask me to take sides” look.

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P.C: Paolo Nicolello@Unsplash
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P.C: Ruth Caron@Unsplash
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P.C: Drew Beamer@ Unsplash
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P.C: Dmitry Ulitin
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P.C: Bruno Figueredo@ Unsplash

S-I-G-H.

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Musing Bloglet#1

Life is often like a waiting area…you have to hang around before things happen and you can get where you’re meant to be.
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Bamboozled in Barcelona

I was robbed in Barcelona at the fag end of my stay there. It’s not that I hadn’t been warned. But the warnings had been expressly about being careful in crowded areas and essentially to be alert. But the universe sometimes has different plans for us despite everything.

Any woman will tell you that they are usually far warier than men when stepping out from home because women are more frequently on the radar of almost all sorts of miscreants. Keeping all the warnings in mind, I set out to explore Barcelona, alone for a bit and with my sister for the most part.

I can tell you what kind of a death grip I had on my phone. It was not only my lifeline back to home, it was my guide in a city where eloquent shrugs and rapid fire Spanish was the norm. My extent of Spanish was and still is restricted to salutations, please and thank you. Not much help when “grandpa” comes and robs you on the metro as I was soon to find out.

Even walking around a brand new city can be a bit daunting but I was so elated to take in the cool breeze, the lovely buildings and just the utter newness of everything that every day that passed without any incident led me to let my guard down a little bit more. And this is where the screw ups happen.

We are all more victims to our minds than the world around us. A “bad guy” typically needs to have a vicious air around him, it’s usually a man who is the perpetrator or essentially looks like trouble from the word go. People who look like they’d be more at home playing chess in Central Park and smiling kindly at kids aren’t the people you think about when mugging comes up.

Neither do you think that two innocuous looking women who insist very jovially that they are trying to get people to come to their flamenco show at the city’s square and are handing you roses because it’s a marketing gimmick, are either marking you out to their cohorts as an easy mark or will use the flowers as an excuse to come close to you and rob you blind.

If you really let your mind go there, paranoia will rule supreme. And it did for us, for a bit before our innate stubbornness reasserted itself and we said screw it! They’ve taken quite a bit from us; the peace of mind is ours to give away, or not.

Here is the thing- if you are traveling alone then be doubly cautious since the eager-beaver attitude you give off can make you stand out in a crowd. If you are traveling with a partner then you are slightly safer but the crooks work to divide and conquer. The safest bet seems to be to travel in a group because the more the people to manage, the lesser the variables in the control of the criminals.

So it boils down to common sense. Don’t do what I did and try and keep to this ready reckoner and trust your gut. It could mean the difference between being traumatized and hurt vs a safe and memorable trip for all the right reasons.

  • Don’t stop to click picturesque balconies and building facades so often that you might as well be wearing a neon sign that says “Fresh Off The Boat”. If you’re a clickomaniac like me, just control your impulses. Your internal camera (mind) sees way more things than that which you’ll end up posting on Instagram and Facebook.
  • Take a taxi when traveling with luggage that requires not only your focus but both your hands. Going through turnstiles at a Metro station and lugging your bags till the escalator or elevator is an inconvenience even if you’re built like He-Man.
  • Avoid interacting with strangers. You know where your important documents and articles are; no need to keep checking and rechecking just because a person with a kind smile tells you that you’ve been dropping euros like Hansel and Gretel did breadcrumbs. The kindness of strangers can be experienced in a setting more within your control. A bit of bird poop on your shoulder or bag isn’t going to derail your life especially if it prevents you from stopping in your tracks and lets another set the stage for a malicious act.
  • Avoid crowds as much as you can and do not be afraid to get in the face of people who seem to be pushing you or hemming you in. Seriously, think about it…who in their right mind wants to get into a cathedral at the speed of light. The structures have been there for centuries…5 more minutes aren’t going to make any difference.
  • Don’t make eye contact with strangers who come up to you. Just register who is around and the place where you are in, is it crowded, lonely and how close you are to a landmark and just keep walking. In a country known for their tourism, you aren’t the sole individual another can turn to for help.
  • Don’t overstuff your handbag or wallet. Keep it simple and neat and with everything within a fingers reach. If you have to stop to sort through your change and the notes, you are giving someone time to sneak up on you and part you from your money or any other important object from your bag.
  • Avoid areas which are lonely. There are optimum times to go sight seeing. Stick to those since those are also the times when the local authorities will be available to help you. Note: many smaller police stations are closed in Spain on weekends. It may make you go WTF but knowing that beforehand may mean the difference between wasting time waiting for a closed door to open and getting the right kind of help and in a timely manner.
  • Keep your country’s embassy’s address stored in your phone. You will need to go to them no matter how far away you are in order to get back home especially if your passport’s been whisked away.
  • Schengen visas are NOT going to be reissued by the country that issued them originally because those are the rules. You will need to either fly back to your home country or request the intervention of another country near by for asylum while you get a fresh visa issued. Keep in mind though, no country barring your own is obligated to let you enter. Don’t bother crying- if it’s not protocol, they don’t give a damn.
  • Do not attempt to evade immigration at airports by driving in or arriving by train to another country if your visa has been stolen. There is no guarantee that you may not be asked to show your papers. Failure to show your visa means deportation at best and a host of other issues at worst which may also include difficulty in getting a passport issued or even getting banned from international travel.
  • A visa is linked to the passport it is issued on. No passport, no visa. If a new passport is issued, its validity does not extend to the earlier visa. Again, don’t cry. It ain’t gonna help.

These and many many more things can help in preventing any loss or harm befalling you while traveling aboard but the people who carry them out aren’t doing this for a lark. It’s what they do. Their commitment to getting your money outweighs all moral dilemmas so try and not get stuck in the “why did this happen to me” rut.

If you aren’t physically hurt, thank your stars, take stock of the situation and immediately set about asking for help in cancelling anything that can be misused by others and then find a police station or a police officer and keep asking for help till they do what’s required or lead you to the people who can.

But don’t be too surprised if you get a blase kind of a response from the authorities. They will take their time to type out the report, they will listen to you impassively and then gesticulate widely with their hands and shrug their shoulders a whole lot but thay may not commiserate. They see it too often and are quite desensitized to the occurences. Keep a hold on your temper and just go through the essentials like filling out a police report and asking for copies in triplicate. You may be lucky enough to find a police officer who doesn’t say, “Doesn’t your embassy have a copier?” Your only job then is to get the stamped report in hand and move onto the next step- reissue of your passport.

I intend to go back to Spain. I don’t know when that will be but I will try and make it back. The place is gorgeous and I know I liked what I saw there. This experience was a wake-up call in many ways albeit one I could have done without. But we escaped without any scars and whatever hits our minds took, we will continue to recover from it. A little paranoia never hurt anyone while traveling. Go with the gut and be ruthless about your safety.

You can also check out these articles for the MOs used by the pickpockets.

Pigeon Poop Pickpocket in Marbella, Spain

https://www.worldnomads.com/travel-safety/europe/spain/barcelona-pickpocket-capital-of-the-world

Forewarned is forearmed. Truly.

Safe travels.

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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.

 

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We Need Trappings

I’ll be the first one to admit it, my kid’s sticktoitiveness comes and goes. He’s tried his hands at roller blading and then suddenly didn’t want to do it anymore. He’s resisted all attempts at learning to swim properly; preferring to channel an otter as his spirit animal instead.

Red tried badminton with him and that took root for a while as did squash and then it flooped. For now cricket fever seems to be gripping him and how! He’s been playing for a while now and dare I say is passable. Of course I wouldn’t know a good cricketer from a bad one. Anyone who’s shots connect more often than not is good in my book especially since mine never do. And when they do, they go places Red grumbles while he has to retrieve.

But more about TO- he’d been asking for a whole cricket kit so that it’d feel like he was really playing. We held off on thinking that if this went bust too we’d be stuck with a lumpy bag to get rid off or store somewhere till the yen to play came upon him again. But after we heard from the coach that he’d been making progress and was trying more often than not to learn the game rather than play “stylish” shots, we got him kitted out.

And here he is in his kickass cricketer avatar, looking like he’s already hit one out of the park! And this pretty much him throughout the day. We just need to make sure we duck while passing by.

So while I can take the game or leave it, it’s pretty damn good to see TO this happy at doing something. So maybe he stops playing, maybe he doesn’t. He gets to make happy memories now. Better flip flop as a child and learn the ropes than end up as a 30-something who can’t make up his mind.

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Money-Grubbing Altruism

Woman's face peeking out of a pile of money

It is a theory of mine that depending upon the kind of ride TO is in, his thought process changes accordingly.

I had a flat tire today and had to take an auto rickshaw to get around. I think the abundance of the fresh-polluted air got to him and he came up with such gems that I had to get them out to the unsuspecting world at large.

My child has questions about life and death. Mainly death. He knows it happens but not always why and if there are aspects which predicate it; if I can call it such. So this darling boy asked about certain key family members who are no longer with us and asked how it impacted those left behind and came up with a solution: he would learn magic and bring them back to life so everyone who was left sad by their passing would be happy again. Primarily his father, whose mother had passed away while he was still in his teens.

He then went up the generation ladder and said he would revive his great-grandmother as well because she’d been 97 when she passed and should live to be at least a 100. All noble endeavors. In theory.

Soon after caame the kicker! In this process of reanimating all the dearly departed he’d make a ton of money and then be rich! rich! RICH!!! and buy up all the dueling dinos that we (Red and I) have deemed unnecessarily expensive toys.

And in that instant I went from doing this-

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to this-

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Thankfully the ride ended soon after and apple of my myopic eyes raced home to tell his father about the love he has for his fellow-man and how he wants to bring joy in our lives.

Never a dull day with this one that’s for sure. They *never* tell you these things in those damn parenting books which is why I’m writing my own!

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Harsh Truths

TO learnt a rather tough lesson today- about life, death and how you can’t save everyone.

A pigeon had laid her eggs behind the AC unit on one of our window parapets. It was sheltered from other birds, the strong winds and still gave enough access to the warmth of the sun. 

In due time the eggs appeared and eventually a chick. We’ve been keeping an eye on le chick and seeing the day to day changes in him/her. But the chick was in the infancy stage still and not strong enough to fly.

Today TO came running to me to show me something “very bad” that was happening. A male pigeon was trying to attract the attention of mother pigeon and in the process, with all the flapping of the wings and the clawing that went on, the baby bird got shoved out of the nest and is now slowly dying.

It moved feebly in a rather pathetic creeping manner, trying to get away from the danger and managed to get itself further away from the nest. 

The mother flew away in the entire commotion and now we have a tiny life ebbing out on our window. It’s sad. And what’s worse is that due to the grills on our window we couldn’t access the bird and get it back to the nest and keep it warm somehow.

TO kept hitting the glass to shoo away the bigger birds but they kept at it and in time the baby bird was well and truly done for. And such is the unavoidable aspect of life- bad stuff happens, you don’t get to save everything and everyone you want to and yet there’ll be another nest here again soon. Maybe by the same mother bird. 

Resilience, circle of life or animal instinct, it’s all the same thing at the end of the day…you got to keep soldiering on. Or as Dory said, “Just keep swimming!”

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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!