NaPoWriMo – Day 6

After a wonderfully Happy Day yesterday, it’s back to routine today! How quickly the wheels turn eh?! Not that I’m complaining – a little routine never hurt anybody and is an excellent way to de-stress after a busy week. Have spent a quiet Saturday at home – lazing around, unwinding, watching TV (haven’t done that in a while!), and playing with the brand new 5-yr-old 😛

I’m so glad we decided to keep it simple for his Birthday 🙂 He’s rather a chilled out boy even though I don’t often say it out loud (you know what they say – Say it, Jinx it!), and was perfectly happy to have dinner with close family, cut a Batman cake (the one thing he really wanted), and eat as much fish as he could possibly stuff into his mouth at one time 😛 No magicians, no tattoo artists, no theme, no fancy decorations, none of the hype that seems to have taken over the Birthday Business (and that is what it’s become!), these days, certainly here in Mumbai. I did wonder about having the big celebration – we can afford it and it was his 5th Birthday after all, but every conversation I had with him convinced me that if I did go ahead, it would be more because I wanted it than he did. He didn’t care either way except for the Batman cake! In school, they have rules – nothing sweet, just fruits and if one would like to bring gifts for the children, they must be books worth not more than a hundred rupees (a minuscule amount by any standards!). I’ve heard a lot of parents complain but never the children!! They don’t seem to mind at all 🙂

I know, I know…this is supposed to a poetry post 😛 It’s just hard for me to skip the process which led to the thought which led to the poem, you know what I mean? I guess it just got me thinking about what they say, “Be the change you want to see!” I’m happy to be taking baby steps along that path 🙂 And when I remembered this picture I’d taken a couple of years ago – things just felt ordained – you know?!

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And 3 CHEERS for our Children!! They at least have their priorities right! Now if only they could hold on to them when they become adults 😛

Have a Happy Sunday People 😀

Transitions

Am back (for those who care ;-)), but still in transition!

The last time I lived in Bombay it was 2005. Seven years later I find myself back in the city, just a lane away from where I last lived, starting a new Life – that’s twice in a space of 3 years…sigh. But, c’est la vie!

The city feels different – not as friendly as before, the people – more on edge and aggressive, the traffic – chaotic as always and the rickshaw drivers disappointingly rude 😦 I don’t remember them being that before. Can’t wait until we finally manage to hire a driver – it’s a necessity rather than a luxury. Or perhaps it’s just that seven years being a long time, the City’s tell-tale signs of wear & tear, are now more apparent to my critical gaze. It could also be that the last time I was here; I was in my thirties, free of children and raring to go. Life was all about working and travelling and having a good time. A far cry from who I am today, above all, a mother concerned about her child’s safety and education, although travel and fun are always on my menu 🙂 Still with everything that Bombay struggles with on a daily basis, I suppose the fact that she survives is in itself a victory of sorts. I hope to survive too – emerge victorious and phoenix-like – conquering the chaos and craziness – finding my own sanctuary of sorts. Not too much to ask for, surely?!

But on to pleasant things and thankfully there are those too 😉 The fact that I finally have the freedom to run my own household and more importantly kitchen, is a feeling I would not trade for anything J I’ve always enjoyed setting up house and although this is the first time I’ve done it with a 4-yr-old in tow, it’s still been exciting! Ishaan has been quite the peach – as well behaved and obedient as a child going through a huge change can be expected to be. He’s changed house and school with an ease that makes me so very proud and yet inexplicably sad, perhaps coz it means he’s really growing up and I didn’t think it would be so quickly!! Children really do bring a whole new perspective on Life – they make the hardest things seem bearable and yet manage ever so often to complicate the simple stuff 😛 Walking, talking paradoxes 😉

The 15 days we’ve spent in Bombay so far have been largely about setting up house and getting Ishaan accustomed to his new school. The latter had me worried, not the least because he was moving from a small, protective environment into the big bad world of a ‘Proper School’, by which I mean a large school with older children, something he’s never experienced in Goa. And yet, after the initial week of crying – he’s taken to it like a fish to water 🙂 He’s learning too and at a speed that never fails to take me by surprise! He’s showing a serious interest in writing (almost overnight!) and finally much to my relief and unbridled joy – in reading 🙂 Hallelujah!!! His own transition from a toddler to a pre-schooler has been thankfully smooth so far!

And what of mine from ‘side-line observer’ back to ‘woman of the house’? Happily – it’s been smooth too and expectedly effortless 😉 This whole move has made me realize once again that most of the stress and fear of change is in our minds. It’s all a matter of perspective and attitude! That’s not to say that’s it’s been a cakewalk, not in the least. Just that by concentrating on the positives I’ve learnt to deal with the considerable negatives. My worst fears were of leaving my Goan circle of friends behind – a group of mothers that have provided me with succour and support and endless amounts of fun!! Don’t get me wrong – I have friends in Bombay – good solid ones that I can count on and love to pieces and am assured loads of fun with, but that doesn’t lessen the pain of leaving behind the girls that have pretty much made life over the last year lovable. I miss them and I confess that the thought of meeting up with them during holidays will see me visit Goa much more than I probably would otherwise!

There’s one thing that’s made me very happy in our new home – the fact that because we’re on the 5th floor, and surrounded by the leafy tops of several coconut palms and other trees, there are birds on call outside the window 24/7 🙂 True, mostly crows and pigeons (not my faves although I’m learning to love them), but there are robins too and bulbuls and one evening a whole flock of parrots flew as if possessed, in screeching symphony before settling down to roost. It was awesome 🙂 And then one day I spotted a copper-breasted barbet that I had never spotted in Goa! Small miracles – what would Life be without?

We’re back in Goa now for the holidays and we’ve slipped back into the slow, lazy routine that so irked me before. This time though it’s a welcome relief from the daily grind in Bombay and I’m grateful J I’ve been out with friends and am having a ball, but I am looking forward to Bombay with much less trepidation than before, if not with explicit eagerness 😉 How quickly we adapt if only we allow ourselves the freedom!

So, here’s to Transitions – with their good, their bad and their ugly. May they be ever educational, stress-free and welcome. And for the bad bits – remember there’s always a Mojito waiting at my place 🙂

P.S. I never thought this piece would be quite so upbeat when I first began to write but am so glad that it turned out the way it did!! Unexpectedly pleasurable 🙂 Probably coz I’m posting this a good month after the actual move 😉

 

Navigating Landmines…

Tough and treacherous – Agreed?

When the field is family and the ticking mines are people you love…What then?

Lately the feeling has been growing on me, especially after the scary story last week. Obviously I’m nowhere near over it…don’t think I’ll ever be. It simmers within and boils over unexpectedly and in mysterious ways, when I’m least prepared and often on poor Ishaan :(I’ve become quite short with him this last week and I don’t like it. Since my usual inappropriate strategy of ‘denial’ & ‘burial’ doesn’t seem to be working…I guess I have to finally face stuff head on. Easier said than done…I hate confrontations and am a total ‘chicken’ when it comes to discussing serious issues with the family. We’re all like that actually – Ostriches!

But this living on tenterhooks – tip-toeing around issues, skirting boundaries and testing the waters – preparing ground as it were, not for any one thing in particular, but rather for everything, makes for an exhausting existence and I’m done feeling tired without any physical activity to blame! Ever since Dad’s accident, the need for ‘change’ is omniscient. I feel like I need to be doing something I’m not, being someone I’m not, changing things I’m not. I think what I mean is that I have this nagging feeling of having to ‘do’ something, anything, but without a clue as to what that something might be. In my head, vague ideas and imaginary scenarios float about, where I’ve been very clever, said & done all the right things and rather like a magician waving his wand, made everything alright, whatever ‘alright’ means. Doesn’t help much ‘coz as I’ve mentioned, all solutions at the moment are imaginary!

Yesterday unexpectedly, Mom and I had a talk. It started ‘coz Dad’s Parkinson’s was acting up more than usual and he called from the shop saying he needed help getting back home, ‘coz he felt like he was falling (a common symptom). The shop thankfully is within our compound and just a few minutes walk from our front door, so Mom rushed over with a walking stick belonging to Grandma and brought him safely home. Dad rested and the two of us sat at first silently pensive in the living room until we got to talking. As I mentioned, we are not a family of ‘talkers’, we don’t ‘discuss’ stuff with the intention of reaching consensus but merely for the enjoyment of arguments, (well my Dad & I do, my Mom hates arguments and will go to pretty much any level to stop them), and so ‘talk’ rarely helps instead leading to fights, discontent and sometimes tears. Luckily this was an unusual day and Mom, (who is otherwise one of the most reserved people I know), opened up and shared both her fears and plans for the future. As so often happens in such cases, we realized that we had both been thinking and worrying about the same things, just separately! We even seemed to agree on possible solutions! Ironic huh? But such a load off my mind and my soul 🙂 Such a relief to know that I am needed and that I am doing the right thing by my parents.

There are big changes coming. Not in a hurry but they’re coming. It’s inevitable really, coz deny as we may…the only constant in Life is change. Change by itself has never frightened me. I can go as far as to say, I’ve always enjoyed change and hated monotony. My parents however are the exact opposite (perhaps in the manner of all parents?), they abhor change of the tiniest kind and resist it with every breath in their frail bodies. It’s surprising the fight that lives in old bones! So it’s a huge comfort to know that we seem to be on the same page about what the future may hold. I would never do anything that changes my parent’s lives without their complete acceptance and agreement and so it’s good to know that I won’t be 🙂 They need time of course and their concept of time is very different from mine…I say hours, they say months, that kind of thing! Still, this time Mom seems determined and since she actually initiated the conversation, I’m daring to be hopeful 🙂

And for navigating this particular land-mine in satisfactory fashion and coming out tops…Thanks Mom!

The ‘M’ Words: Agony & Ecstasy – Part II: The Other ‘M’

I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster this past year, more on some days than others! With all the stuff that’s been happening in and around me, the hormones have just served to make ‘normal’ chaos, (if there is such a thing) more chaotic!! That’s what they love – these omnipresent, seemingly innocuous yet exceedingly powerful chemical molecules with the funny names – drama, flamboyance, excess, so that a simple disagreement sets off a crying jag, tiny obstacles seem like Mt. Everest and a bowl of ice-cream has become the entire tub before you know what hit you! Every woman who’s gone through puberty, will know what I’m talking about…and most men too of course coz you’ve loved, lived and suffered with us 😉

The last few days are an excellent example…I went around the house, moody, morose, glum, angry, irritated and edgy. Fought with every adult unfortunate enough to cross my path (Hubby bore the worst of it, of course! Who else?!), burst into tears at the slightest provocation or none at all (most uncharacteristic!) and yelled at my poor boy until both of us were a tangle of limbs and sobbing. Oh come now! Like I had ANY control! [Also, I do think the earlier they start training for what lies ahead, the better! You know you agree! I’m sure all future girlfriends would agree, except they’re too young to read this post or perhaps not born yet :P]. Think, a guy who knows what to do on those days when you’re re-incarnated as ‘the screaming banshee’, by which of course I mean nothing more than that he should be skilled in the art of disappearing, ‘coz really, what is there that he can do except get out of your way? 😉

The rollercoaster is getting deadlier with time methinks, maybe it’s a combination of the state my life is in at the moment and an increased awareness of the fact that I am now most definitely labeled ‘peri-menopausal’ not only by doctors, but almost everywhere I turn. There’s no escaping the inevitable, is there? In literature, in quizzes, in movies, at parties, in society (where the fondness for labels makes me sick to my toes)…I am now neatly slotted into the ‘40-plus’ or ‘peri-menopausal’ category (the two go hand in hand), defined by typical behaviors and expected to fit into some universal ‘Menopausal’ mould. You know what I mean right? You lose your cool over something and suddenly everyone around you is nodding their heads knowingly; the understanding, clucking sympathetically as if privy to your deepest secret; the polite, looking away sheepishly and the bold, sniggering and raising judgmental eyebrows! And all of them whisper, but not so softly that you can’t hear, “Poor thing, she’s just not herself these days. The ‘big change’ you know! Poor thing!” Shamefully, I must admit, I’ve done my share of whispering too before I knew better. But not anymore. No indeed, ‘coz ‘peri-menopause’ comes with its own particular brand of wisdom and a healthy dose of a ‘devil may care’ attitude, if you let it! So now, I do pretty much as I please and blame it on the hormones baby! A silver lining, if ever there was one! 🙂

That is where the ecstasy comes in for me really! From the freedom that comes when you surrender, let go, release inhibitions and embrace the change J. I’ve never been the ‘maternal’ type (another label I don’t get), so that part of ‘M’ (am going to refer to it as ‘M’ coz am too lazy to type the full word every time :P) that means ‘no more kids’, doesn’t bother me in the least. There are easier ways to have kids if one still wants to J. So although, I’ve heard and seen and met women with horror stories about ‘flashes’, ‘sweats’, fatigue, depression, hormone replacement and all the rest (I am a doctor), I’m still looking forward to having a ‘whole uninterrupted month’ in which to do as I please! The last time that happened is too long ago to remember 😉 So, as said rollercoaster ride gets scarier with every passing month, I look forward to getting off this one, if only to get on to another! Variety is the spice of life and all that 😛

Oh I know, I’m being simplistic, maybe frivolous even, but this is just my particular brand of humorous armor and it has stood me in good stead through a whole lot of upheavals and crises. I don’t see any reason to abandon it now, at a time in my life when I need it most. Do you? I’ve watched the women in my life go through the ‘Change’ (sounds alien that :P), unaided and confused, dealing with it as best as one can, in a time when speaking about ‘M’ or any other ‘female problems’ was just not the done thing. Open discussions were especially taboo and so I watched my Mom and my aunt struggle stoically, with depression, with unpredictable moods, with physical discomfort, while never once thinking to confide in each other or a doctor. My aunt was on antidepressants for a long time, without knowing she was even on them or why! She thought it was all a part of her BP medication! I am sure she wasn’t unique in her generation. Of course, all of the understanding I now have, is in retrospect (like most wisdom is). Back then I just thought my Mom had lost her head and was a pain! I am so glad that I live in somewhat progressive times, when ‘M’ is no longer the mysterious entity it used to be (indeed the research out there seems monumental and infinite!) and where knowledge, information, treatment and support are available freely, if not in our own homes, then in the form of friends, doctors and the Internet :). I am thankful for the fact that I don’t have to go through it alone, unless I choose to.

Until then it’s back to unpredictable moods, unexplained tears, unexpected rage and untold misery for a few days every month! As the rollercoaster careens wildly and I’m holding on tight, hanging on for dear life!! Let me leave all my women friends with this wonderfully uplifting thought (well uplifting for me ;-)) – This will happen to you too! When it does just remember this “Real women don’t have hot flashes, they have Power Surges!”

Meanwhile, enjoy the ride, people 🙂

P.S. I’m sorry my titles seem to be getting longer and more thesis like! I promise, short and sweet from here on 😛

Slow and Steady…

This being my first post of 2010 and consequently of the decade, I wish I could have come up with a more imaginative title, but well, if wishes were horses and all that jazz…

So instead, here I am, and indeed here we all are, once more, at some imaginary threshold,  that allegedly holds promise, has potential, renews hopes and dreams…another chance to sort out the chaos of our lives, our souls, our stories. I say allegedly, coz it isn’t really the year that hold anything is it? Even an idiot like me knows that! No, it’s US! We people, that  hold promise, have potential, renew our hopes and dreams – US! ME!

This year, this decade, this time in my life, in many ways, offers me an opportunity to make a new beginning, if I want it. It says to me – Don’t be afraid, let go your fears, you’ve earned the right to have an opinion that goes against the tide and not have to apologize for it!

Free yourself, It whispers – don’t cling to the old, make way for the new – new friends, new experiences,  new ideas, new goals, new horizons…a new way of being the same old me 🙂

Persevere, It cautions – change is good, but reactions to change may not always be…friendships may sour, ideas – crash and burn, children –  rebel, family – dissent…hang in there, all good things to those who wait, but also to those that work to make them happen!

Smile :), It urges – there’s always a reason to smile! Haven’t had trouble finding one so far through all of Life’s craziness…the thought of a new book, the fact that we have water and electricity (believe me, in Goa, that’s a good enough reason to party!!),  gin and tonic (heaven!), Ishaan dancing to the latest Bollywood hits :), the perfect morning cuppa, Pushpa – my help, my life-jacket , my oasis of calm in a frenzied day 🙂 and so many many more…

The rest is up to me, really!

I can’t explain why exactly, but I feel more up to Life’s challenges at this point in time than I ever did before. It’s strange really, cause I’m in unfamiliar territory and I mean that quite literally – have moved back to Goa and though it’s home, it hasn’t been for a while (14 years to be exact!) and so is new in pretty much every way! I’m a Mom – which is  a totally, utterly, enchantingly and often exasperatingly overwhelming experience, again in every way! I’m dealing with the reality of Life without my brother – my soul mate that I lost (and sometimes I still cannot believe it’s true!) a year ago. It seems like yesterday…but I have found lately, that I can actually remember him with a smile 🙂 It still hurts, I think it always will, but it no longer paralyzes, ain’t that something?!

But I feel no fear – and the fact that I don’t feels weird! I should be quaking in my boots (if I ever got a chance to wear them in this awful unseasonal heat that is!). Instead I feel calm resolve, a feeling that is odd, not alien, just odd given the circumstances. I feel determined to make things work, I feel confident they will – is it the stars?? Probably!! Maybe when Saturn turns retrograde or Uranus trines Jupiter or some other planet slips up – I’ll be back to the quaking 😉 But somehow, I don’t think so…I feel like the proverbial turtle – slow and steady…winning is not a goal I have ever aspired to in Life…enjoying the journey though, now THAT is non-negotiable!

And to borrow from my favourite jingle – I Am Loving IT!!