20!

On New Year’s Day, Hubby and I completed 2 decades of marriage! Yup…we’re that ancient 😉 Dinosaurs practically 😛 And yet, when I look back, I can’t imagine it’s been that long! I realized that I’ve known him for 23 years, the same amount of time I knew my parents for before we got hitched! It just seems incredible, wonderful and weird all at once, if you get my meaning! My single days are so far behind me, they seem like a mirage…and now with Ishaan in the mix, they might almost be a distant dream 🙂 A pleasant dream, but distant nonetheless 😉

It’s been one hell of a ride! We met in Medical School and courted for three years before we married. We had, or rather I had a 4-day long, Big Fat Indian Wedding 🙂 Even if I do say so myself, it was quite an event in those days 🙂 One of the first Goan weddings that lasted for more than a few hours on a hot, stuffy afternoon 😛 A lot of people have since come up to me and my parents and shared how much they enjoyed it and remember the food and festivities to this day! It was a chaotic happy time, with the house overflowing with family and friends. A time of eating, drinking, songs and parties 🙂 It was a double celebration since my parents completed 25 years that same year, a couple of days after the wedding! I had ‘henna’ on my hands for the first time in my life and actually suffered a reaction to its fragrance! Or maybe it was just nerves 🙂 Go figure 😉 I remember spending the night before the wedding curled up next to my brother (he was 12), and other girlfriends, and him whispering in my ear, suddenly sober, “This is the last night you’re going to be sleeping at home.” And me staring into the dark, tightening my arms around him, not knowing what to say as the reality of separation began to sink in. It wasn’t like we were going to leave Goa. We would be just a 15-minute drive away, but in so many ways…worlds apart.

The first few years were ‘turbulent’ at best and that’s all I’m going to say about that 😉 We both had a lot of learning to do. Stuff you don’t get to know unless you live with each other and sometimes not even then. We were both young, temperamental and stubborn and neither of us would shy away from a good old-fashioned fight! We had points to prove and no-one was going to stop us! Over the years, we completed our doctoral studies and eventually moved to Bombay when Hubby took a job with P & G. It was the beginning of a new chapter. We had more money now (gone were those penny-pinching student days ;-)), and nicer houses to live in and for the first time in our lives we were able to indulge our shared passion of traveling! This was crucial to the ‘health of our marriage’, coz it is one of our very very few shared passions 🙂 I wonder sometimes that we were attracted to each other at all…we have practically NOTHING in common! Ask Hubby if you don’t believe me, he’ll be the first one to agree 😛

I like to think we’ve mellowed over the years 🙂 Well certainly some days more than others 😉 We still fight (I see nothing wrong with the occasional good old-fashioned clearing of air & minds!), but they’re nothing as serious as they used to once be and less than half as hurtful. We agree on many more things now and have grown closer through major life experiences, like every other marriage. Moving houses, deaths of people we’ve loved, changing jobs, Ishaan and becoming parents…we’ve been through it all and together we’ve survived. I don’t say this very often and hardly ever in public (it’s just not who I am), but Hubby is the Rock that my Life is built on. Oh I know, we shouldn’t be dependent on another person for our happiness and I’m not the sentimental sort…but hey, if the cap fits! That’s not to say that I’ve ceased to be an independent, intelligent woman, entirely capable of taking care of myself, rather that I enjoy being taken care of by the Man I love and who loves me more, especially on those days that I find it hard to love myself 🙂

I’ve been supremely lucky! (I have a way of being. Trust me, it’s a Saggitarian thing ;-)) I found the Man I love twenty years ago, and he loved me back! And twenty years of Life later, we still feel the same way 🙂 It’s taken blood and sweat and tears but it’s been worth it. I look back and wonder what I would change and honestly…I can’t say that I would change much at all, coz we wouldn’t be who we are today without having been through what we did. And I like who we are today 🙂 Very much 🙂

As I look ahead, I wonder what the next decades will bring. More challenges I have no doubt, some pain (unavoidable) and much happiness (hopefully). Bring it On I say! Together, We’ll Find our Way 🙂

Here’s our song 🙂 Way back from when we could still have rambling, relaxed telephone conversations about…you guessed it…Nothing!! 😉 Hubby’s favorite 😛

Boy! That takes me back! Onwards to 25!!

Homecoming!!

It feels so strange…visiting my own blog after long months away! That’s why the title! I didn’t plan for this to happen, and all I can say is I was too busy living Life with no time to write about it! 2011 has been another life-changing year (I’m beginning to seriously wonder whether there are any other kinds!). It’s been a roller-coaster of a ride from start to finish, at times enjoyable, at times – the pits!

If I had to summarize in a nutshell, here goes…Dad was transformed from an independent, intelligent (if crabby!) person, into a Shadow…a Man in retreat. All that remains now is a shell of his former self and all we can do now is wait and watch. Ironically as Dad retreats, his grandson blossoms in leaps and bounds. Everyday brings new words, new thoughts, new actions, and more mischief! He’s grown into a little man now! A mischievous man, an utterly exasperating man, a man with an inexhaustible penchant & talent for trouble 😉 In short, a man after my own heart 🙂 I watch them both and observe how Nature can be at once so brutal and magical. This has been the hardest part of 2011, watching helplessly while my Dad fades away. And yet in a true testament to the resilience of the human spirit, I’ve managed to find Happiness amidst the chaos. I’ve progressed from denial to acceptance and learnt that no matter how troubling the times, it isn’t in my nature to stay constantly unhappy. It’s too exhausting and not at all worth the effort unhappiness seems to demand. So instead, I’ve looked for and found Happiness in the little things and more often than not have been rewarded beyond belief 🙂 Ishaan helps…as always 🙂

I’ve surprised myself by making friends 🙂 Yes you read right…Friends as in plural not ‘A Friend’ 😛 Given that I had given up on ever making new friends here in Goa, I was over the moon to finally find a group of like-minded women who wanted what I wanted…that’s to say…wanted to have fun, plain & simple! A group of us Moms from Ishaan’s class at school got together and decided to make ‘Enjoyment of Life’ our one-point agenda 🙂 And boy are we good at it 😉 😀 Parties, trips, coffee mornings…we’ve been on a roll 🙂 So of course, Hubby had to go and take an assignment in Bombay, just as I was getting the hang of Goa! How typically Male of him 😛 And so here I am at the beginning of 2012, preparing for yet another move in a space of two years…this time with a 3-yr-old in tow!! I need your prayers people! Well, at least he’s got into a school in Bombay…a miracle of sorts 🙂

Oh well…c’est la vie 🙂 In October, we finally made the trip to Singapore with Ishaan!! He got to meet my girlfriends, the women who were with me, when we started the adoption process. The women who held my hands through all the waiting. He’s a great traveler!! Slept on both flights coming in and out of Singapore 🙂 We had a wonderful time at the Zoo and the Bird Park and just being together as a family,  just the three of us, in a long time 🙂 I can’t wait for our next vacation together 🙂 December was fun too:) Made our annual trip to Mahabaleshwar with family and had a blast!! Learnt that Ishaan away from home is a different story! A much improved story if I must be honest! He’s naughty but controllable and plays the part of  ‘Mama’s little helper’ to perfection 🙂 Spent a week in Bombay, settling Hubby in the rented 2-BHK we will call home come April. It’s going to be an enormous transition from my parents sprawling bungalow to the tiny 5th-floor apartment, but at least the neighborhood is quiet and the view from the windows is the green of coconut palms 🙂 I think we’re going to be alright, and it’s most likely going to be only for a couple of years until we move again 😉

I don’t believe in resolutions, probably coz I’ve broken every one I’ve ever made 😛 I do hope that my return to writing will be more permanent than temporary, seeing as it always brings me joy and fulfillment 🙂 So far 2012 has been promising 🙂 I’ve seen Sherlock Holmes (although technically it belongs in 2011 coz I saw it on New Year’s Eve, but Hey! Who cares!)… and fallen in love all over again with the extremely talented and quirky Robert Downey Jr 🙂 He’s always been a favorite of mine and he’s absolutely smashing in this second movie 🙂 I hope there are many more movies planned for the future. Take a bow – Guy Ritchie 🙂

I’ve been meaning to read Stieg Larsson‘s Millenium series for a while now, but was always put off by reports of it’s explicit graphic sexual and violence content. Didn’t have the stomach for it last year, but did finally buy the whole series on sale 🙂 Have just finished Reading Book 1 of the Trilogy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and am glad I finally decided to read it. A well-crafted thriller with interesting characters. Am on Book 2 now. Learnt that the author passed away after submitting all the three manuscripts and so never learned of their phenomenal success. Life is full of ironies.

A little something to ward of that 'Evil Eye' in 2012 😉

And so here we are again…at an end and a beginning 🙂 I rather enjoyed the end and I’m looking forward to new beginnings 🙂 I wish the same for you 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s to a good year People!!

NO. MORE. TEARS.

If you’ve lived long enough (and Lord knows I have), Death becomes as commonplace as, well just about everything else. I never thought about it until my aunt said something to the effect on Sunday, when we both lost a Man we loved dearly 😦 We were on the phone and I was mouthing the usual empty platitudes one does at such times, when she said in a voice shaky with tears, “Don’t worry Darling. I’m alright. Really. It’s a shock of course and so terribly sad but it’s become kind of a habit now.” That just knocked my socks off. We’ve lost most of our older generation in the last decade and so just like she said…we’ve become habituated. We have learned to grieve and carry on. Perhaps it has helped to know that they led long and fulfilled lives, for the most part. Sometimes, like in Anna’s case, it helps to know that he didn’t suffer when the end came. Either way, what it amounts to is ‘No more tears’. I’m all cried out and for now I choose to remember the good times and celebrate the happy memories.

‘Anna’ (meaning Big Brother), is what I used to call him. He was my Grand-uncle. Isn’t it strange how in the space of a second, everything is in ‘past tense’? Well…c’est la vie. Anna was the youngest of five siblings, my Mom’s youngest paternal uncle. He was adored as a child and if sources are to be believed, quite the ‘Brat’ 😛 He was intelligent, charming, a music-lover, a dog-lover, generous to a fault, stubborn, a chain smoker, an eccentric, a confirmed bachelor, part curmudgeon part wise-old-man, devoted family man, a chemist par excellence, temperamental, honest, funny, in-your face…the list is endless. Because he was so smart, he was sent to the US where he completed his Doctorate in Chemistry from Berkeley, much to the pride and delight of the entire clan 🙂 No mean feat that! His Mom had had to pawn her gold to raise the money to make it happen! He never forgot the sacrifices his family had made to give him a great education and perhaps that’s why he didn’t bat an eyelid, when he left a promising career behind in the US to come and set-up a highly successful chemical manufacturing business with his brother, one that they ran with passion and integrity for several decades. Because of their example, I still believe that it is possible to be successful in business in India, without resorting to corruption, despite all the evidence to the contrary these days!

I knew him all my life. He and Aboda (his older brother), were my childhood Santa Clauses 🙂 They spoilt me with love & gifts! Boxes of fireworks for Diwali, sweets, books, music, movies, joy-rides in the stately Ambassador (remember those!), anything I wanted I got! And later when we moved to Goa, cartons of foodstuff – tins of condensed milk, bags of Cadbury éclairs, packets of Jello and other goodies! The walkie-talkie doll he brought me back from the US still stands in her wooden case in my aunt’s house to this day! As I write, I realize how difficult it is for me to separate the two even in my memories! It’s always been that way. Aboda & Anna. Anna & Aboda. They were inseparable. I must say though that as a child there were times when Anna got on my juvenile nerves! He would buy mangoes or some other delicacy and then insist I sit down in front of him and eat one right there and then! There was no refusing him when he got into one of his stubborn fits! I didn’t always want to and it bugged me no end. I remember Mom saying how it was such a little thing that brought him so much happiness, ‘Surely you won’t deny him that darling? He loves you so much!’ I didn’t always understand then, but I do now. Of course he did. I did too, just my youth acting up!

When I joined Medicine, I remember how proud he was 🙂 He presented me with my first ever copy of ‘Goodman & Gilman’, that humungous treatise on Pharmacology, his biggest love after family! He adored both the subject and that book and for me any tribute to him would be incomplete without mention of it! He read that book from cover to cover, every new edition, until the end of his days, and relished the long discussions that followed with me. I can’t honestly say I enjoyed them quite as much 😉 For one, he always knew more than I did and for another I never quite convinced him that real life rarely follows textbooks! No illness in the family was spared and we are not a family stingy with our ill health 😛 Diabetes, Hypertension, Parkinson’s, Muscular Dystrophy, and now Dementia…we’ve given him enough reading to last him his lifetime! We had endless discussions on new drugs, side effects, doses and much else…I’m afraid I didn’t realize quite how much I’m going to miss them, now he’s gone.

For the last two years of his life, after his sister-in-law passed away, he led a very solitary existence. We were all of us caught up with our lives and I know I for one didn’t call him as often as I should have. The times I did, I found he didn’t have much to say anymore, his life being restricted by arthritis. He still read Goodman & Gilman though, watched a bit of TV and still worried about all of us, like the Anna of old. Some things never change 🙂 When we heard he had had a fall, we spoke on the telephone. I am so very grateful for that phone call now – it was the last time I heard his voice. He was fine he said, and not to worry! The doctor had been informed and my aunt was with him for the day. So the next morning when we received the call, we couldn’t wrap our heads around it at first. How could he be gone? We just spoke yesterday! You know, the usual shocked disbelief. It’s been four days now and I’ve had time to cogitate. I’m grateful now for the fact that he didn’t suffer at the end. No lingering on some unfriendly hospital bed, no losing his mind, no pain…just a quick release from what must have been a lonely existence. When you’ve lived long enough and seen what I’ve seen, believe you me, a quick release is something to be thankful for!

The last time I saw him was in 2009, when we visited with Ishaan 🙂 He was so thrilled to meet yet another generation of the family! I remember him telling Mom later how the pitter-patter of a child’s feet can fill even the emptiest soul with music 🙂 I wish Ishaan had had a chance to get to know him. I wish…oh so many things! My enduring memory will always be one of him sitting in his favorite armchair in the living room of the house he lived in all my life, with his spectacle case on the table next to him, reading G & G.

I miss him. Always will. That’s a given. Sometimes I wonder whether my heart doesn’t resemble a very holey piece of cheese…I’ve lost so many people I’ve loved and admired. They’ve left spaces that can never be entirely filled again. And yet here I am people. A survivor. And that’s what Anna was. That’s his legacy to me. And I mean to honor it and him for what time I have left, here on Earth.

No. More. Tears.

Love you Anna.

Peace & Happiness wherever you are 🙂

Parenting Dad…Happy Father’s Day to Us!

I didn’t realize yesterday was Father’s Day until Facebook let me know! Honestly, what did we do before Facebook? 😛 Not that it made much of a difference once I did know. Have never been one for celebrating ‘Days’. For one it can get expensive 😛 Before you label me an ingrate however, let me assure you that I love my Dad dearly, probably more so now than ever, as the time we have together becomes more finite.

I’ve always been Daddy’s girl 🙂 Mom tells stories of how he doted on me as a child, doing everything he could, even carrying me long distances even when I was 5!! That fact assumes true significance when you know that I was always a ‘healthy’ child 😉 My favorite story is the one in which I’m hurt by broken milk bottles and Dad is telling everyone off 😉 Hearing Mom & Grandma describe it, I imagine the blood gushing from my hands (although the exact details are hazy!), and a river of red all over the kitchen floor where it happened; Mom & Gran having hysterics; and Dad gathering me up in his arms, yelling at them while trying to comfort me and run downstairs to the doctor all at the same time. I like to imagine myself as cool as a cucumber amidst all this chaos! Yeah, yeah…I like to feel important now and again folks, even if it was more than…well, however many decades ago 😉

But I have memories of my own too 🙂 I remember very clearly running up the stairs just after I had got my 10th Grade results. Here in India, 10th Grade is a big deal. It’s the last year of school, after which there’s a public examination (in every State), and one enters college. I had done really well and was among the top 50 students in Goa! I remember feeling nervously proud running up those stairs…wanting desperately to make Dad proud and afraid that I might have still managed to fail him somehow. You know the feeling! I needn’t have worried, as I flung open the terrace door and blurted out my news, the look on his face was everything I’d dreamt of and more 🙂 I remember him hugging me (probably coz we’re not at all a touchy, feely family!) and saying “Well Done!” or ‘Congratulations” or some such. It’s not important what he said. Sometimes I think it’s not even important how he felt. I think the most important feeling that day was how making him proud made me feel! Validated, worthy, proud and loved 🙂 It’s a feeling I’ll cherish forever, one that warms my heart to this day 🙂

Needless to say, I don’t remember Dad ever ticking me off or denying me anything I wanted throughout my childhood within reason. It’s a wonder I didn’t grow up thinking I was the center of the universe coz I certainly was the center of his! Or did I 😉 You guys can be the judges of that! There was one occasion though that I remember as clearly as if it were yesterday, when I threw a tantrum (I was very big on tantrums! They may be best described as flamboyant if you get my meaning! Much to my Mom’s satisfaction, Ishaan is now paying me back with my own coin so to speak :P), and stamped on his newly polished leather shoes! I got a well-deserved whack for my troubles! Dad was very particular about his appearance. He had a large wardrobe of suits and was always spiffily attired! Debonair is the word that comes to mind 🙂

Dad & I...I was 6.

Over the years I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that no matter what I grew up thinking, my Dad is not God. He has his faults and like in all of us, age does nothing to temper them. I’ve also had to come to terms with how much I am like him! It makes me at once very proud and very scared. I’ve inherited his looks, his love for beautiful things; his interest in photography; his generous spirit of giving; his keen intellect and curious nature; his laughter and love of a good joke; his stubbornness; his ego; his love for debate; his mercurial temper and his love for a good drink and junk food 🙂 He’s given me all this and so much more, it’s hard to know where he ends and I begin. And now, when he’s old and tired and spent, I find the roles reversed. I find myself parenting the man who taught me everything I know. I lend him my hands and shoulders for support. I help him find words, find meaning and often himself. I watched like an anxious parent when he took his first unaided steps after the surgery and I still watch him to this day, ready to catch him if he should fall. I buy him the junk food that he once bought me 🙂 and smooth his brow when he’s worried and confused, willing away his troubles, wanting to bear his burdens as he once bore mine. How did it come to this? Perhaps this is the circle of Life…parents’ father children and eventually children father parents.

So on this Father’s Day, I want to say THANK YOU & I LOVE YOU to the BEST Dad I could have had 🙂 and I know that if I can be even a fraction of what he’s been and continues to be to me, we’re going to be Ok.

Love you Daddy! Always will 🙂

Freedom & a Dragonfly Symphony!

Today is the day! Liberation Day! Today, after 2 months, I’m FREE 🙂

Ishaan’s started school!! He’s Happy & I’m Ecstatic, as well you may imagine! I love my son, no really, I do! But, and I know you’re with me on this readers, two months at home entertaining a toddler, while coping with my Dad’s illness, was no picnic in the park! In fact, I venture to say, a more trying and effective form of torture has not been invented! Don’t quote me on this though 😉 😛 Don’t get all serious people, just trying to reclaim my sense of humor, that’s been MIA these last couple of weeks.

After what seemed liked a lifetime (I know, I know, it was only two months!), the morning stretched in front of me, long, promising, delicious 🙂 And to think I might have had to wait for another day! Yup! Imagine that! Sacrilege! There was a Goa ‘Bandh’ today (more on that in my next post), which basically meant no public transport and a general shutdown of private enterprise including schools. Government offices were running but probably on skeletal staff. Ishaan’s school however assured me that they were open and that it was business as usual for them, and since school is only a 10-minute drive away, we decided to give it a go. It was pouring this morning (like it has been these last few days), and as I cuddled Ishaan, I must confess to feeling both relief at having my mornings back and guilt at that relief 😛 This double-edged sword of a ‘Mommy-heart’ is just so…whatever!

Ishaan was happy to be back in school! He’s been asking to go ever so often during the holidays that I dared to hope, he meant it! Turns out he did 🙂 He kicked off his shoes, and marched fearlessly into class only to slip on a damp patch of floor & land on his tush! That was enough to start the waterworks, especially since Hubby was around! But he calmed down soon enough and was swept away in his teacher’s embrace as she cooed happily in his ear! God Bless all Teachers 🙂 So with Ishaan happy at school, I spent a lazy morning tackling stuff around the house. Things that I had let slide over time. One large garbage bag of thrash and one angry outburst from Dad later, it was time for a break.

Out in the garden, the rains had taken a break too. As I walked around, I noticed a new Water Lily bloom 🙂 A vision of beauty on a slender stalk that grows in muddy water…Nature is full of miracles. The sight of that flower was such Joy 🙂 It made me feel like everything was going to turn out fine. 

My Zen fix for the day!

I took a lot of shots experimenting with my white balance settings and as I made my way back to the house, I found myself serendipitously in the midst of what can only be described as a symphony of dragonflies 🙂 They whizzed and darted around the garden to some mysterious rhythm, inaudible to us mere mortals, stopping occasionally mid-air, occasionally on a leaf or a flower, those translucent wings beating a million times a minute!! Such grace, such precision, such beauty, such freedom! In that moment I wanted to be a dragonfly. I wanted what they had. An escape to Freedom and the joy of dance! I noticed soon that some were in a mating frenzy! Perhaps that explained all the energy and joie-de-vivre 😛

This took me by surprise! Didn't intend to catch them 'in flagrante'!

It’s been so long since I’ve had a moment like this, I’d almost forgotten what it felt like. The joy of it, the peace of it, the serenity of it. I did take some shots but mostly I just sat quietly and watched, and let them heal me in the way only Nature and her wonders can 🙂

A thing of beauty 🙂

It’s been a wonderful start to my week and I wish the same for you 🙂

Here’s to Dragonflies, Symphonies and the joyful Freedom they bring!

Happy Monday, People 🙂

A Tree Story

We just lost another prized ‘Breadfruit‘ to garden thieves!! This is the second time in as many months & I’m so pissed off right now…I advise you to maintain a safe distance from your screens, lest the rage finds a way to travel across space & time and strangle you 😛

But seriously, thievery of any kind just gets my blood boiling. It violates personal space and leaves a stoic bitterness. It’s scary too – to know someone has been where they shouldn’t have, where they had no right to be. Intrusion is never a good thing. It’s worse when I know there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s not like I have a hope catching whoever did it, and the only thing I can do, is ask the boy who waters our garden, whether he has any ideas. I suspect him, but I can’t accuse without proof can I? The feelings of helplessness do nothing to soothe the rage. Also of course, I happen to love breadfruit and so it’s personal on so many levels! Perhaps you think this is a lot of fuss over a few fruit…maybe you’re right. But I think not. It’s just one of so many things that seem determined to turn Life into an obstacle course right now. Also for reasons, I can’t really explain, I love our Tree 🙂 It’s like Family. You love them out of habit 😉

The Tree has a long, beloved history. In its first avatar, it came to us 31 years ago (It’s as old as this house is!), from my Dad’s native village, as a young sapling in a plastic bag. It was duly planted and revered and in 4-5 years, started giving us sweetly, spongy breadfruit, which we fried and cooked into vegetable curries. With time, our Tree became the beloved of many! Certainly, our entire family swore by the sweetness and flavor of the fruit, that we carried to them on our regular visits to Bombay, particularly during the ‘Elephant God’ Festival, which is peak season. Our now flourishing tree, was famous, for the quality and size of its fruit 🙂 Now, to be honest, as a kid, I had as much love for vegetables as the next kid…that is to say None! Things have changed now of course, and my love for the veggies has grown in proportion to my nausea of fish 😛 In those days, I never understood all the fuss about ‘some stupid vegetable’, which was large, round, heavy and a nightmare to carry in checked in baggage cause it looked like a giant green grenade on the security monitor! I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had to unpack for the security guys so they could make sure I wasn’t some terrorist on my way to plant a bomb somewhere. Honestly! Did the fact, that on seeing the fruit, they generally then burst into appreciative Oohs & Aahs help – uh, NO! But that was then.

The Fruit that was stolen!

About 10 years ago, the Tree grew so large, that it bent under it’s own weight. One side was leaning right into the first floor balconies of the Hospital next door! Something had to be done in order to avoid a neighbourhood feud, and so the branches were trimmed extensively, while we figured out what to do next. I remember it being a huge deal. There was talk about how the Tree would have to be killed or would die if it was uprooted and planted anew, I don’t remember exactly which. I do remember Mom being upset and in depth discussions on what was to be done next. The thought of losing the Tree was unbearable to Mom and indeed to the rest of the family. It had served us so long, so well and was practically one of the family! As is so often the case, Nature provides her own solutions 🙂 Great ones too…better than any we can think up ourselves, most of the time! Unbeknownst to us, Mother Tree had birthed a young sapling, which we discovered next to one of our Coconut Palms! She was obviously looking after her own future & just in time too! We planted the new sapling, where it still stands today, its large geometric leafy canopy making pretty shadows beneath. I love it. I cannot explain why exactly – I just do! It’s like a member of our family really and in its turn, continues to pamper us with high quality, sweet, spongy fruit that still travels to family in Bombay, much to their delight. Only these days, it does so in the boot of our car! Yeah – I’ve had enough of being mistaken for a terrorist! Not a particularly healthy way to live 😉

Our Tree

So you see, when some, a%^&*&#, loser, creeps in to the our garden and picks off a succulent breadfruit that was hanging alluringly at hand-plucking distance, I take it very personally indeed! Thankfully there are more fruit, way up among the higher branches safe from thieving hands but also from our loving ones! I hope whoever it was, meets his just ‘fruits’ (I know! Bad corny! Couldn’t resist!), and at the least suffers a terrible stomach upset!

Meanwhile, I’ve just spent 10 minutes gazing at the Tree and softly reassuring her that ‘All will be Well’. She didn’t whisper back (Oh that She would!), but her leaves rustled serenely, trustingly and I think she knows, we’ll both be OK. Who’d have thunk it? But that’s Tree wisdom for you…don’t fight the inevitable, accept what you cannot change, make the best with what you have and trust in Nature. She knows best and takes care of her own. Good things endure 🙂 Couldn’t have said it better myself!

Plant a Tree, People 🙂

Mommy Moments…

I’ve had my share in the time that I’ve been away from the Blog, as you may well imagine! ‘Mommy Moments’…mostly happy, sometimes tinged with sadness, often uplifting and always memorable. Full-circle moments that encapsulate everything it means to be a ‘Mom’. Is it just me, or do they tend to be tearful…happy-sad tears, eloquent in a way that words aren’t ? Maybe it’s just me.

Ishaan had his first Annual Day at school. He goes to a Montessori and their ways are rather different from mainstream pre-schools here in Goa, refreshingly so in my opinion 🙂 They actually allow for individual growth and development (Yay!!), and although I had a problem initially with the homework, once I realized they were not insistent on perfection or even completion, but focused instead on figuring out the child’s areas & level of interest, I relaxed, and have now learned to enjoy the ride. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that Ishaan now adores school and asks to go everyday 🙂 He surprises me this boy of mine. he does the most unexpected things. I ask him about his friends and classmates in school and all I get are vague looks and strange mumbles. I know a couple of children that he hangs out in class with from his teacher and I just assumed he doesn’t know the others. he is the smallest in his class and he doesn’t speak too fluently yet! Silly me! Well, after they had their end-of-term class photograph taken, he pointed out each child excitedly and told me their names! I was pretty impressed and not a little surprised, simply because he had never spoken of them before! And right away I see, he’s deep. He does things when he’s good and ready and not a moment before! Well, that can be a good thing I suppose, and yet not so good when I’m trying to get him to do stuff. As I see the tell-tale stubbornness of the ‘Ram’ emerge, I foresee a colorful time ahead for all of us 😉

Also he’s finally begun to do stuff from school at home – on a whim when we least expect it! I remember the first time he began to sing ‘How Much is that Doggie in the Window’, complete with “Bow-wows’ 🙂 (Remember that song?) – it took me a while to decipher what he was saying, but the tune was unmistakable! Who can forget that universal song of childhood?! And I thought to myself, ‘So, the boy can sing!’, and just like that, happy tears 🙂

And then the day, when out-of-the-blue, he counted numbers up to 20! We had been counting to 10 with him and then he just looked shyly at me and said “Eeleben, twelbe, thir-tin, six-tin, seben-tin, eigh-tin, nine-tin, twenty!” reaching a crescendo on 20, before looking up expectantly into our rather stunned faces! Needless to say, we were all of us, suitably impressed with my little Einstein 😉 Much hugging and kissing and noisy clapping ensued which must have gone to his tiny little head, coz it’s become a bedtime ritual of sorts, with him chanting numbers in his harum-scarum way to the imaginary music in his head, while we march upstairs to bed! My son the clown 🙂 and another ‘Mommy Moment’ 🙂 But I digress!

Back to the Annual Day then, where the kids gave an hour-long performance that showcased the things they had learnt during the school year. It was all very well organized I thought, except that it was open-air and extremely hot, but what’s a little heat & sweat for the children eh?! The week before, parents received emails and printouts of clear instructions on arrival, drop-off and pick-up times. I had been requested by a teacher to help in the award ceremony and was glad to help. They had picked four professions they were show-casing in the Concert – doctors, writers, economists & teachers and they wanted a parent from each field. Hubby of course missed his son’s first stage appearance. He was off holidaying on a business trip in Portugal so I took Mom who as you can imagine was only too happy to come!

We got to school and found seats on the steps of the open-air amphitheatre. The concert began with the lighting of the lamp, as do most events here on the sub-continent. I liked that they didn’t have any fancy guests, but the parent of their first student do the honors 🙂 The children put up a wonderful show. They displayed various skills they’d learnt, which when you think about it are still the basic R’s – Reading, wRiting & a‘Rithmetic! They made a book and read out of it, converted currencies (!!), did yoga, sang songs, separated foods into their nutrient food-groups and recited poetry. Ishaan was part of the Zoologist group! My son the explorer 😉 They put on a familiar tableau – Lifecycle of the Butterfly. There were about six kids, and the two youngest, (Ishaan was one), were given the job of getting on to stage (preferably without stumbling), picking up two large arrows and sitting on their mats with the arrows pointing the right way! It had been a long wait…and as I watched Ishaan finally cue up by the stage, I had to battle conflicting emotions. I was ‘Anxious Mom’, ‘Proud Mom’, ‘Happy Mom’, ‘Concerned Mom’ all rolled into one – a nouvelle feeling for me! One part of me was hoping he wouldn’t see me in case that upset him or made him so happy, he forgot his tiny part; while the other, stifled the urge to go up and squeeze the Life out of him! Aah…the travails of Mommyhood 😛 He did see me! He gave me that trademark shy smile that he has, when he’s trying to be a ‘big’ boy, but stayed in his place. Already I was a bundle of nerves with a lump in my throat, and he hadn’t even taken a step! An older boy helped him on to stage and led him to his place and I am very proud to say, he picked up his arrow and settled on his mat like a little angel throughout the performance which lasted about 5 minutes 🙂 Note to self: Get magic spell for making toddlers sit still from miracle-working teachers in school. When the tableau concluded with an older girl unfurling her silk cocoon to reveal a butterfly, my boy continued to sit in his place, until his teacher led him off gently, as the other children left, waving flags! Moral of the story: A man and his arrow are not easily parted 😉

The Man & his arrow!

He came back out a little later with all the children for the award ceremony. We four gave every child a medal – no firsts or seconds, no bests – just equals. I loved it 🙂 The ceremony concluded with the National Anthem, which is one of Ishaan’s favorite songs, along with Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and De Ghumake, the Anthem for the recently concluded Cricket World Cup. He sings it ever so often at home, as an effective distraction, usually when he wants to shut out my yelling, which is pretty often 😛 He did not however sing a word of it that day on that stage! I wouldn’t be honest if I said I wasn’t just a teeny-weeny bit disappointed, not because he didn’t sing, but because I thought he loved it so much he wouldn’t be able to resist! Moral of the story: Mothers don’t know everything. They just like to think they do 😛

Medals & the Anthem!

It was a wonderful, happy morning for all concerned 🙂 And in typical Mom fashion, the show had hardly ended before I was off day-dreaming about next year, when Ishaan would hopefully play a more active role! Living in & for the future…that’s Me 😉 In the car, on the way home, Ishaan has already moved on to his favorite thing in the whole, entire world – Cricket! As he chatters on about Sachin (his favorite), and Sehwag & Dhoni & Harbhajan (all members of the Indian team that won the World Cup)  and I pretend to pay attention (Yes, I do pretend! Quite often in fact and I feel no guilt so sue me :P), my mind wanders to how quickly he’s growing up! Conflicted Mom’ takes over…I want to freeze time so he stays like this forever – innocent, trusting, protected and happy. No, no! I want him to grow up, so I’m done with the raising and start to enjoy the just being (like that will ever happen!), be a star in whatever he chooses to do and still stay innocent, trusting, protected and happy. I want only the light, never the shadows. Aah…I want the world for my boy. Can you blame me?! I know, I know! I’m delusional! It’s alright. Comes with ‘Mommy’ territory 😉 

Loud shouts of “Muuuuuuuuuuumy!” in my ear interrupt my reverie…he’s catching on. He knows when I’m not paying attention…”Muuuuuuuuuuuumy!”…”What?! I’m right here!”….He always keeps me grounded this boy, never lets me stray too far away from the business of being a Mom 😉 He’s smart like that and rock solid. My anchor 🙂 Howz that for a Moment, eh? 😀

That’s it for this post…but more Mommy Moments to come. A big one…the Birthday!

Have a Fun Sunday, People 🙂

The Crazy Week That Was…

Do you know how sometimes, you blink, and a whole week has just gone by? It’s Monday again and you’re thinking…What?? Where did the week go? (That’s if you’re lucky! If you’re not, it could be a year or worse still your Life!). That’s what I’m feeling this Monday morning…exhausted and drained from a whirlwind V-day week. Luckily most of it was good, except for a close shave with Ishaan, which was rather scary. Haven’t had time to think much less write, and am far behind on reading my Blogs, so please forgive me friends! Now that Ishaan is back to school, hopefully, things will settle back down into a routine.

Monday (Valentine’s Day), was relatively quiet, and a staid start to a week without Hubby. In retrospect, it was lovely coz I had no idea of the roller coaster that lay ahead! It was also a dear friend’s Birthday and we made plans to have dinner on Tuesday with another friend, which was just as well coz for unfathomable reasons (mostly lethargy which is truly inexcusable :P), we haven’t met in the two years since I’ve moved back to Goa! And so that’s what we did! On Tuesday we met, first at her place for a long session of catching up and then had a great dinner at the Pan Asian Bowl, a restaurant with a great ambience & one of my favorite places for Southeast Asian cuisine in Goa that also makes a decent Mojito 🙂 Happiness all around 🙂 Did I mention my friend B is a whiz at crochet? She makes the hook fly, and weaves runners, tablecloths and doilies faster than you can say, ‘Fabulous!’ She’s also extremely generous and thinks nothing of gifting her friends with unique pieces over the years 🙂 She gave me two wonderful doilies on Tuesday! The best return gifts ever! I know…I have the BEST friends 🙂 Not to forget, she’s also works full-time as a Clinical Pathologist while raising a pre-teen daughter!

Examples of my friend's handiwork!

Wednesday, Ishaan had a holiday for Id. When we were young, I remember the Id holidays we got…we were always unsure of the exact day & date, because of the unpredictable nature of the moon! It added to the excitement and mystery 🙂 Ishaan was of course oblivious to any sense of excitement (he’s just too young!), and wanted to know why he wasn’t going to school (Now you believe me! He really is very young ;-))! I had to do something to keep him occupied and out of everyone’s hair in the morning, so we took a trip to the church atop Aguada hill in the tiny village of Sinquerim in North Goa, a 20-minute drive from where I live, which houses the famous Jail and Lighthouse. There are fabulous views of the Mandovi River and the Arabian Sea from the hilltop, which also houses the brick-red ruins of the Aguada Fort (Now a protected Heritage Site), built in the 17th century by the Portuguese. Unfortunately, the road up was congested with traffic – busloads of tourists who seemed to think their money bought them the right to saunter down the middle of the road without a care in the world! The price we pay for living in a ‘Tourist Paradise!’ 😦

View from the Gazebo on Aguada Hill.

After making our way to the top at snail’s pace, I decided to avoid the crowds at the Lighthouse and headed instead to the much quieter, indeed almost deserted Church. Most Churches in Goa are whitewashed and this one was no different. The grounds around were large but not maintained and the whole place had a distinctive ‘commune with Nature’ kind of feeling 🙂 There’s a small gazebo which offers a view of the Sea and the Jail located at the foot of the hill. I thought of the prisoners within its stony red walls…all that water and never a glimpse! Some punishment that! Ishaan was thrilled 🙂 He ran around and posed for pictures quite happily! We stood and stared at the Sea and then went off to explore the Church.

The Church

It was locked, but we ran into a few people. A father with his brood (all young), who were obviously chilling out like us on a school holiday, and a pair of sisters who were down from the UK & the US to collect the remains of their mother and transfer them to a family crypt. That explains why there were human bones and a skull in the garden, at one end of the passage!! The sisters seemed concerned that the children would be upset and tried to shield them, but in typical child-like fashion, they were totally unconcerned and only mildly curious! As for me, it was a throwback to my first year in Medical school when I first met a dead body, inhaled the overpowering odor of formalin and stashed a bagful of human bones in my locker 😉 All in a day’s work! Wonder where that bag is now?!

After a great morning, we had an equally happy evening. Wedding season continues in Goa and my aunts and uncle, who were down here for one in their family, came visiting. We had a wonderful time, chatting up and playing cricket with Ishaan! So Wednesday night, I was thrilled to have reached mid-week without incident and very happy. I should have known better!

Thursday morning started routinely enough, until a sudden wail punctured the air. I ran into the living room and Ishaan was in Pushpa’s arms howling his head off, bleeding copiously from his nose. He had managed to hit his face against the edge of our rocking chair and had a nasty bruise under his left eye, a cut upper lip and nostril! It’s a good thing I’m not squeamish at all – it wasn’t a pretty sight. He wouldn’t allow us to hold ice to the bleed for a while until he calmed down a bit (He was oh so brave!), and when he finally did, I was happy to see that nothing was broken and his eye was unhurt. After a while, when the bleeding had stopped and the hysterical household (read Granny and Pushpa), had calmed down, I took him to my friend and his pediatrician, so she could have a look, coz he still wouldn’t let me clean the wound. So I held him down while she cleaned the wound with Savlon and used a torch to examine the interior of his nose. No serious damage done and an antibiotic ointment was all that was needed, thank goodness. He promptly spat out his pain medication, but since he didn’t seem to be in any serious pain, I let it be. He was lucky to escape without a serious eye injury! Back home, he seemed fine except that he wouldn’t allow anyone near his nose.

The Buffet @ Fernando's

That same evening however, I took him to a dinner party in a wonderful restaurant in Raia (near Margao), called Fernando’s Nostalgia. I thought it would help us all get over the crazy morning. The setting was rather wonderful, with the interiors done up in the old Portuguese fashion, with terracotta figurines, antique furniture, old lamps and live music! There was a mini trampoline and a play area for the kids to play in where my wounded soldier played cricket to his heart’s content! I learnt that the owner Chef Fernando passed away 4 years ago, and that his wife was now in charge. Live music was provided by a singer on keyboards, who delighted us all with local Konkani favorites & the golden oldies…and I am talking serious oldies here…Cliff Richards & Engelbert Humperdinck, The Carpenters…you get the picture. He had a fabulous voice and took requests, which made for an entertaining evening! I danced to the peppy Konkani numbers with my son in my arms and I can’t wait for the day when he’s old enough to lead me on to the dance floor 🙂 He’s like me…loves music, loves to dance 🙂 An enjoyable evening, that really helped take the edge off Ishaan’s mishap.

Friday and Saturday were spent in the company of more visiting family & running errands with Ishaan in tow (NOT something I would have chosen to do!), and on Sunday morning, it was finally time to fetch Hubby home from the train station! Thankfully, the train arrived on time and then excitement took over as Ishaan spotted Hubby across the platform 🙂 There’s something so joyous about kids greeting their parents after a long separation! All these years while Hubby’s been jet setting all around the world, I’ve watched him come and go in mundane fashion. After a while, it’s just another part of the routine, if you get my meaning…but with kids, it’s very different. Their joy is a palpable thing – it’s almost a physical presence (the way they squirm and twist and want to leap into your arms :)), unabashedly enthusiastic and it’s infectious! A happy combination! After a boisterous reunion and the once over by Hubby, father and son were inseparable on the ride home.

I would have loved a quiet Sunday at home, but we had a ‘thread ceremony’ to attend and so after a quick shower, we were off to Margao again. Luckily, ‘thread ceremonies’, are not like weddings, and we were able to come home in time for a Sunday siesta…a must for any self-respecting Goan (indeed for any self-respecting human in my book!). And so that’s a wrap of ‘A week in the Life of…’ This week will be busy with work – I’m editing the Medical Bulletin for our State Chapter of the Indian Association of Pediatrics and that involves co-coordinating with plenty of busy doctors (always a nightmare, given that most of them don’t even check their e-mails, let alone respond on time!!). I have no doubt there will be a lot of frantic phone calls and last-minute panicked scrambling involved! But I have my own guardian angel S, (who dragged me into the project in the first place!), who enjoys this sort of thing and has mean convincing skills. I’m relying on her to see me through! Well, at least Ishaan will be back in school…Oooh! Fingers & toes, firmly crossed!

Have a great week ahead People 🙂

Epiphany

This morning I had a moment. You know – the kind of moment that arrives without warning, usually offering a calm oasis in the midst of chaos. The kind of moment that comes sometimes from recognizing the truth but mostly from just accepting it. Yup…an epiphany.

I had a rather thorny start to my day. Granny had a fall on her way to the loo early this morning at 4 am. I was completely unaware of the fact until I came down all bleary-eyed in the morning. Thankfully, nothing’s broken, just some nasty bruising. At her age (she’ll turn 85 in April) though, I’ll take bruises over a fracture anytime! Unfortunately in characteristic fashion, I had been rather short with her. It’s just like me that. My concern always seems to manifest masquerade as irritation, especially with those I love. I don’t why that is, except to blame it on some genetic character flaw beyond my control or maybe it’s a defensive mechanism to mask my fear of losing my loved ones. Whatever the reasons, suffice it to say, when it’s time for Ishaan to leave for school, I am not in a good place.

He is outside as always, playing cricket with our driver and Pushpa, utterly oblivious to all of Mom’s flaws for the moment 🙂 Oh that it would stay like that forever! Hubby calls out. It’s time to leave and there’s a flurry of Goodbyes to Pushpa, Grandpa and Grandma. It’s a familiar scene, repeated every Monday through Friday before he leaves. Just before he climbs into the car, I hug him and hold him close, tousle his hair and tickle him while he lays his head on my shoulder, in the crook of my neck (a perfect fit :)). He erupts with laughter and climbs onto Hubby in the car. The sun is shining and my boy is happy. His eye’s are sparkling and his tiny nose is all scrounged up, crinkled with joy 🙂 Suddenly I am in awe of this perfect moment when nothing else matters but the happiness that radiates from my son in great big tidal waves 🙂 I know, I know, it’s crazy…we’ve done this a million times before, but today, although I’m laughing with him and squishing my nose against the car window making funny faces, inside I’m still. Something is different.

Magic smile!

There’s a strange duality to the moment. I’m suddenly aware of its fragility. Of the power of laughter & the healing that comes with happiness. Somewhere deep within, a load feels lighter. There are a million good things in this World and a million bad, but there’s not too many things that can’t be made better by the sound of your child’s laughter 🙂 But the moment is also symbolic of the power my son has over me. Of how my happiness is now forever linked with his and my eyes get teary – whether from joy or sadness is hard to say. Probably both. It’s scary but I feel cleansed.

I stand still and watch the road after the car is long gone. He’s growing up so quickly…too quickly. And that’s when it struck me. It’s always like this between parents and children isn’t it. Children moving away, parents left behind, happy, concerned, and proud. Did I think it would be any different for me? This is how it’ll always be…him leaving, me watching him go…happy, concerned, fingers crossed, like mothers everywhere.

I take a deep breath and walk back inside.

Soul Sisters!

Today is the Birthday of a beloved family member and the one person closest to my heart on the Planet! My Mom’s sister, my aunt and most importantly my soul-sister 🙂 Perhaps it has to do with her being an Aquarian and my moon-sign being Aquarius, so that this special relationship was foretold in the stars 😉 But lets leave the stars out of it for the moment, the cosmic ones I mean! My aunt (I call her ‘Didi’, which means elder sister in Hindi), is unique, a star in her own right 🙂

The operative word in our relationship from as far back as I can remember has always been ‘Fun’!! When we get together or even on the phone, we just can’t seem to stop laughing 😀 to the point where our Hubbies have been known to ask us if we had lost our minds 😛 No fellas! We are ‘like that only’ 😉 She has a loud, hearty, infectious laugh that erupts from her like lava from a volcano (rather like mine :P) and I mean that as the best sort of compliment! You cannot be in the same room and not feel the laughter creeping up on you and sweeping you off your feet with its vigor! She’s funny and witty and can take as good as she gives.

Granny tells me and Didi agrees that she was a ‘first-class brat’, growing up! Especially when contrasted with my Mom who the entire family had christened ‘Ms. Goody Two-Shoes’, coz she NEVER did anything wrong and was consequently rather a pale, colorless character when compared to my boisterous, scallywag aunt!! Didi by her own admission was a ‘handful’ and more, still is 😉 Granny says she used to be very worried about how Didi would turn out, and hoped that she could just get her married safely and pass on the responsibility of her care over to some poor, hapless man 😉 She needn’t have worried. Didi proved quite capable of looking after herself and anyone else she had to! She’s a gutsy woman. Strong, sensitive, opinionated and unafraid.

The ever present ‘twinkle in her eye’, even as a child!

Didi has and continues to be a path-breaker. She had a love marriage, one of, if not the first one in our family, when the very notion was taboo. She was as I have mentioned a tomboy and getting into scrapes was second nature. She quit studying after 10th grade, coz academics was just not her cup of tea!! Bravo Didi!! At her wit’s end, my Granny decided to enroll her into singing classes, coz she had a great singing voice and hoping that would keep her out of trouble. She should have known better 😉 Or at least that’s what my Granny said for a long time after everything that followed! Here’s what I mean. Didi seemed to take to singing class in a way that pleasantly surprised the family and finally brought relief to my poor Granny’s frazzled nerves. (Ding Dong!! Warning bells anyone?!) And although this new-found devotion was partly due to the singing, much of it was due to the fact that she had met my uncle-to-be on the way to and from the class! Showing her smarts even then, Didi confided at first in her Granny, my Gran’s mother-in-law, hoping to enlist her support before facing up to her mother. Decades later, I followed in her footsteps, confiding in my Granny, and seeking her support before facing my Mom, when came the time to tell her about Hubby & I! Although my Granny finds it amusing now after 4 decades of a solid marriage, she wasn’t in the least amused then! She threw a fit when she heard and I won’t be surprised if Didi got a spanking (although I’ve never asked!). My uncle belongs to another community, (thankfully of Brahmins or it would have been disaster), and Granny was in no mood to listen or understand. For all she knew, her daughter was off gallivanting the streets of Bombay, with some loser she’d picked up off the streets!! It was her worst nightmare come true! It was a while before uncles intervened, calm prevailed, and a meeting arranged with the prospective groom and his family. They were married the same year that Mom & Dad were, and while there were misgivings on both sides (due largely to the rather large age-difference between my aunt and uncle in addition to cultural differences between the families), and a long struggle for Didi to be accepted into my uncle’s family, love prevailed! Doesn’t it always 🙂 In a rather sweet exchange, my uncle, who at the time was a chain smoker, agreed to quit smoking if Didi agreed to become vegetarian (his family is vegetarian). I think that particular deal worked out in Didi’s favor…after many years, she got my uncle to taste fish and chicken and her nephews have been converted into hard-core fish-eaters; but he’s never smoked another cigarette ever!

When I was born, she had been married for just under a year and lived in the port town of Kandla in Gujarat, where my uncle worked in the Indian Customs. I love the story she tells about our first meeting…a cousin and I were born two months apart and, as babies looked quite similar (as babies often do), except that my cousin was and still is much fairer than I am! She hadn’t seen either of us, and when she arrived all eager to meet her darling niece, they brought my cousin, all bundled up to her instead, and said it was me. We were both chubby babies, but Didi claims she knew instantly there was something up and that she was being had! She held my cousin but wasn’t quite convinced and her uncertainty must have shown on her face, coz when I was finally brought out…we took to each other like ducks to water 🙂 So you see, she recognized me right away for who I was and knew me instinctively. And over the years nothing’s changed 🙂

My earliest memories of her, are of her singing songs to me…songs she invented stringing together all kinds of endearments she’d invented for me! She still sings them to me today over the phone and I am unashamed to admit I adore them 🙂 She adores children and doesn’t have her own and that could have embittered her, led to depression and darkness. Instead, she loved me and my brother and her two nephews as her own and I mean ‘as’ and not ‘like’. There’s a difference you know. She filled our worlds with joy and jokes and laughter and song and when we were older she became our first best friend. She remains that 🙂 I can talk to her about anything and everything and although we do not always agree, I can always count on her for a fair hearing and good solid advice. She is never judgmental and often puts things in perspective, especially with my Mom, about whom she is fiercely protective! When my Dad and Mom were going through a rough patch after my brother’s Duchene diagnosis, I wrote her a letter. I was terrified that they were going to split up, and I said as much in the letter. I don’t know what I was thinking or what I expected when I wrote that letter, but I remember feeling that it was the right thing to do. And it was! A few days later, much to my joy and surprise, I received not a reply but Didi herself on our doorstep! On receiving the letter, in true Didi fashion, she had convinced my Uncle to drive down from Bombay to understand the situation and set things right. My parents, completely unaware of the letter, were shocked to say the least! I think her arrival made them realize the effect their constant bickering and arguing was having on us kids, like nothing else would have. Just one of the countless examples in which Didi has touched my life and made it better. Always made it better 🙂

She is my idea of an emancipated woman and here is why. For as long as I have known her, she has truly followed her heart and preserved her individuality. It hasn’t been easy (it rarely is), but, and I know she agrees, it’s been worth the effort and the pain. When she turned fifty, she began to write poetry. She writes in Marathi and has the wonderful knack of combing simplicity of verse with profoundness of thought. I like to think, her journey into the world of verse, led to a kind of renaissance in her life. She has often confided in me that writing keeps her going when things get tough. Over the years, things have been tough…sometimes financially, sometimes health-wise, but each crisis has been handled with dignity, humor and quiet resolve. For all her strength she is never far from tears both of joy and pain! I remember her crying for joy when she first met Ishaan and holding me tight and crying with me when my brother passed away. I remember her tears of joy, when I surprised her on her 60th Birthday, flying down from Singapore and appearing on her doorstep in the middle of the celebrations! I had worked hard to convince her that I couldn’t make it although she insisted later that she couldn’t quite believe it! As if I would missed a milestone like that!

It is difficult to put into words all that she means to me, certainly a single post will serve to do nothing more than scratch the surface. She taught me the art of picking out the perfect sari. She has an eye for the unusual & is unafraid of going for bold & brilliant colors 🙂 We had a ball shopping for my trousseau! She also has a knack for finding treasures on a budget. She’s a great one for budgets, Didi is! It’s a standing joke between the two of us of how she would gift me either tops of a ‘salwar kameez’ without their bottoms & vice versa, in an attempt to save on tailoring charges, expecting me to have something in my wardrobe that would fit the bill 😛 Still does! She’s always well turned out and has her own unique sense of style. She loves lipstick…deep red preferably and wouldn’t be caught dead without her lips painted and her cheeks rouged with the same shade! It’s been like that ever since I can remember. She has a wicked memory and her story-telling skills are legendary! She always remembers the stuff everyone would rather forget and is never afraid to share it, especially if she put a funny spin on it! She loves fiercely, is a loyal friend, a devoted wife, and is one of the most generous people I know.

This then is the woman, I honor today, on her Birthday! Over the years she’s seen me through every milestone, good and bad. Her spirit is my guide and mentor and her presence in my Life – vital and uplifting. We are very similar the two of us…we both take life more seriously than we let on, we laugh our guts out every chance we get, we live to write and we love our families with crazy abandon. We’re both a bit nuts and loving it! I like to think we share a motto too…Live & Let Live! I’ve already had a long conversation with her this morning and will probably have another before the day is done! My only regret is that we don’t meet as often as we like but perhaps therein lies the secret to our harmony? I don’t know, and I don’t particularly want to analyze either. It works, is all that matters. And so here’s to Didi, an aunt, a kindred spirit and a soul-sister!!

Like two peas in a pod!

“May your light shine ever so brightly, May the colors never fade,

May the spirit stay forever sprightly, And may it never rain on your parade!”

Happy Birthday Didi! Love You Hamesha 🙂