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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Realizations…Bite!

I am currently facing a gargantuan task. I have to sort out the images I have with me on my hard drive. The device is running out of space and I know I’ll keep taking more pictures so I have no option but to optimize the usage as soon as possible.

So, what’s the brouhaha about? I should be able to ruthlessly delete stuff, right? Well, it needs to be taken into account that I have certain OCD features which have prevented me from doing this in the past. I am a hoarder *hangs head in shame* so it’s pretty darn tough for me to throw anything away especially images of my child, taken from the moment he was born till the one I took of him yesterday.

As it is with fast moving bodies, you need to click a good number of images before you find the one which isn’t excessively blurry or the one which has your subject looking exactly the way you want them to. So it stands to reason that the human hurricane that he was before he turned 6, has way too many pictures which contain if nothing else, but a part of an ear, a pinkie or the curve of his butt. And it is now my “pleasure” to sort through those treasures and keep the ones which I absolutely can’t do without.

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Did I also mention that I need things organized in a said manner so I don’t have a mini fit looking at images all lumped together? The feeling of seeing a folder arranged into sub-folders which may or may not have their additional sub-folders is *quite* a joy. Neat. Tidy and most importantly, properly labelled. I’m quite the labeler. They make it easy to locate things in life like the trip you took when the child was 2 years old and it was winter. Or the images from when he was in diapers but sporting a bald look. It all adds up…to idiosyncrasies but it can’t be helped. It’s part genes and part malaise.

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Here I go, down the rabbit hole of images…..

Nom Nom Nostalgia

Whether it was because of my turning a year older recently or me seeing that my child is slowly getting into the big kid phase of his life; I have been nostalgic to the core. It’s a very visceral feeling for me.

For every parent there can be a near-constant contradiction when you see and interact with your offspring. On one hand you see them real time, the way they are now and who they’re growing into. And on the other hand your mind tricks you into believing that it’s still the same kid who laughed, drooled, kissed you without rhyme or reason and just came for cuddles because he felt like it.

In our case, MLM has transitioned to TO a while back and still I can see the beautiful little boy he was with his infectious giggles, silly antics and utter and complete abandonment in the activities we used to do together.

He is quite close to his father as well with me having to put both on timeouts occasionally when they keep acting like…well, males.

But as I look back at the little home videos I’ve been taking of this child since he was a few days old, his utter silliness seems to have been reserved for me. From dusting my face to putting on pots and pans on our heads as helmets and me watering him and saying he was going to grow like a flower; it has been a gift every single day.

And while I usually make the snootiest possible face when people wax on eloquently or get sentimental about their little ‘princes’ and ‘princesses’, I have to say that I get where they’re coming from. But I can’t call my kid a prince…it’s too bland. Mine’s a wizard! Because he fills our lives with his own magic and inspires me even when I’m threatening to punt him off somewhere.

Good lord, the heat’s getting to me. Such maudlin thoughts right in the morning. Whaddya gonna do? We’re people with kids…going gaga over them is Parenting 101.

Musing At The Waiting Lounge

I like tea. I like tea infused with herbs and flowers which many people (read husband) make a face at and deduce that either am a hippie, far-Left, tree-hugging kook or a pretentious individual who wants to stand out by ordering hibiscus tea when everyone else at the table is just fine with their latte, thank you very much!

But despite caffeine being the lifeblood, I really enjoy a good cup of tea from time to time. Brewed well, steeped just long enough and fragrant as well as flavorful.

Am sitting at the Chennai airport right now, watching humanity rush, loiter and basically mill about. A subdued cyclone brought gusty winds and heavy rains and suddenly I needed a tea fix. And while grub or anything at an airport is hideously overpriced but the heart wants what the heart wants especially with 2 hours to kill before a flight. 

So I chose a tea bar (yes…teas have their own bars now..le posh!) and found that they had a lemon-chamomile blend which seemed like a good choice. Alas…seeming and being are two ends of a spectrum at times. This blend is blah. And to top it off, it looks like a specimen one reluctantly gives at the doctor’s office and tastes like nothing. Just a big, fat nothing.I think I’m qualified to rant a bit because I’ve had the real deal and it was just lovely. 

Nearly 20 years ago, I was on a trip with my folks up in the hilly areas of Himachal Pradesh and we ran into a colleague of my dad’s who was a local there. He and his wife lived in a lovely, quaint wooden house and she grew chamomile…just because. 

She brewed it and added it to various things and also had it as a tisane. She also knitted some lovely woollen socks and gave me a pair; which I ended up giving to an ex-roomie because her toes were freezing off in Frankfurt in the middle of their rather harsh winter, but that’s another story for another day. 

My mother had that baggie of chamomile tea for years. It was fragrant, mild and soothing. It grew in good earth, without too many pollutants and was given as a going away gift by an extremely simple lady who didn’t know how that tea would travel with us over the next couple of years and become an anecdote each time it was brewed.

The only good thing to come out of this cuppa is the stirring of memories of a sunny days, hills and good people. 

Salut.

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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1998

5 girls met. Talked. Slowly at first and then incessantly. They sat in the last benches of most of their classes. Had some adventures. Loads of giggles, some fights. Went through a bunch of guys. Made other gal pals and 20 years later are still around in a pretty good capacity given that work, home, spouses, kids and pets do make their presence felt quite a bit on a daily basis.

College was such a melting pot. You had all the directions of the country converge along with linguistic and religious backgrounds and still found that you fit somewhere; with someone. And you wore each other like gloves and the fit just got better with time with a few mends here and there.

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There were classes where you each were at sea, and then those where you still had the chance to sail through. There were gaffes, bloopers, red-letter days and some days you’d rather really just never remember again. There were fests and fiestas where you met the next few months’ rides in the form of people (ahem..guys) from other colleges and also did a quick dipstick to see if you were on the right end of the social spectrum when compared to the rest of the lot out there. Fashion played a big role. Some were gawked at, some gaped at and some just grimaced at as a bad idea never to be repeated with oneself.

You had days when the homework hadn’t been done and the entire class (barring the usual goody two-shoes suspects) was asked to leave by the lecturer with clenched teeth and furrowed brows. There were classes which were bunked at the proverbial last minute to go watch a newbie director’s movie premiere with no money left for snacks ergo home made lunches came to the rescue…however lame the situation seemed.

These 5 girls had their own idiosyncrasies; they still do but they had FUN! They didn’t have stars in their eyes but didn’t really know what the world had in store for them either. They sat and laughed at the teachers’ often utterly ludicrous utterances and marveled at the sophistication and expanse of knowledge the others possessed. They wrote their hearts out, thought about new things; had their horizons and visions broadened by good books recommended by even better teachers and still managed to sleep through at least half of their graduation.

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Endless sandwiches were eaten along with innumerable cups of tepid coffee which kept the noggin running, however sporadically. They bitched, they gossiped, they cried, they guffawed with laughter and they made memories. In time they shared these memories with their significant others and introduced their friends to the new people they’d share their lives with thereon.

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Twenty years on, on the right side of the dreaded (?) 40s, it’s nice to look back and know there was a time and a place and people who made you carefree, kept you young, foolish (in the best way possible) and buoyant.

Here’s to you ladies…you know who you are.

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Salut!