Another Monday and another chance to make a new start for those of you so inclined. I’m a little blue this morning since Hubby has left for a week of travel and will be back only on Friday night 😦 I confess there are advantages to his being away – there’s just less work around the house – Go figure 😉 But that doesn’t compensate for the fact that it’s just Junior and me for the next 5 days, 24/7! *Pulling out Hair* already 😛
So this week is going to be a test of my nerves and they don’t last long in the best of times! A forecast of turbulence for Junior et moi I’m afraid 😛 Still we’ll labor on as best we can and THANK GOD for School! The weekend was nice. Yesterday was our Republic Day and they had the parade on TV. The usual display of dapper men in uniform and their formidable looking weapons – impressive and yet not as comforting, when I think that most of the problems that plague my country are internal and men with guns can do NOTHING to solve those But this post isn’t about that.
We took Junior to school yesterday to see the Vintage cars that were to be displayed there on the occasion. I confess I was eager to go coz I didn’t want to miss the photo-op! The cars were lovely – looking all distinguished and sparkling in the sunlight. I got a few pictures but not great ones because the light was just all wrong and there were swarms of teachers and students everywhere. Still we got to see a stunning blue Daimler that once belonged to Motilal Nehru (father of our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru), a bottle green Merc that had me drooling, a sporty Honda coupe, and a 1928 Baby Austin in a gorgeous cherry red! Will post pictures in my next post.
The cars worked up our appetite of course and we headed to The Fisherman’s Wharf for lunch. This was the first time we visited and we knew instantly it would become a favourite – a regular haunt 🙂 First – it has a play area for children…YES! Second – it has Happy Hours on Sundays which means you order a drink and get one free! Third – their Mojitos make me very very happy 😉 Fourth – the ambience is wonderfully relaxed and the staff all speak Konkani 🙂 Fifth – the food is pretty darn good 🙂 Such a find this – especially because for once the boys (who LOVE their fish), and me (not so much), can still all have a fantastic time in one place! Their authentic goan sausage pulao means I need never go hungry 😛
And so back to the Monday and to Mr. Monkton. This week I’ve chosen an illustration as a message to myself. Maybe even a warning! Since I anticipate an emotionally overwhelming week, it seemed only fair! Quiet reflection may have it’s advantages but on occasion a good shouting match to clear the air is very therapeutic 😉 What say Mr. Monkton? 😛
I apologise for the small size of this week’s image. Couldn’t find a larger one online
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 😉
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 😉
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 😛
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!
My name is H and it has been 26 days since my last post. Ouch!
Two days ago I received a message from a friend on FB asking whether and I quote, “the Blog was a ‘THING OF THE PAST’…waiting.” Then today I finally logged on to the Blog and saw the message from my first Blogging buddy Maura who ‘hoped I hadn’t quit Blogging and that all was well’. All is Well in a manner of speaking Maura, and No I haven’t quit blogging and I’m sorry I made you think I had, and here’s the post to prove it! The Universe conspires…how many times have I heard that. A long conversation with a BFF, this morning (quite a morning I’ve been having eh?!), also began similarly…”Where have you been? No posts, No pictures?! What’s happening?!” With so many people missing me and hopefully missing my writing…well it made me very happy but not a little guilty. In fact, I’ve been living with separation anxiety and dealing with the massive guilt of not having written a line in a long while, for the last few weeks. I started revamping the Blog a while ago…sorting through posts, streamlining categories and generally trying to make the Blog feel more cohesive. I should have realized the futility of starting such an exercise just before school closed for Summer holidays! All I can say to that now of course, is Live & Learn! What with Ishaan’s Annual Day, yet another wedding in the family (It’s almost like the new code in town – a wedding is not a wedding unless it’s spread out over 3-4 days :P), the start of Ishaan’s holidays and my loss of those 4 priceless hours of freedom, two huge Birthdays in the first weeks of April (Ishaan’s & Hubby’s) – my Life has been one, crazy, mad rollercoaster of a ride!! I have a lot to say with no time to say it in…and it’s left me edgy, nervy and not a happy camper.
Some things will not change for a while…the Holidays stretch looooooooooong & eternal (You know you feel like this too Moms! Don’t you deny it!), and my time will not be my own until School finally re-opens. Until then, the best I can do is snatch a few minutes here, an hour there and try to scratch together a few words. The reason this post is titled Confessions, is because this crazy time (like most crazy times do), has taught me a few things about myself. These are not startling revelations, rather stuff I always knew but have had reinforced recently! And since I have to start somewhere and there’s no time like the present, I thought I would just list a few here.
I SUCK big time at multi-tasking. I know it’s supposed to be a skill we women are born with, an in-built universal genetic code, but I must have been elsewhere or drunk while the Good Lord was distributing this particular skill-set! Juggling is not a skill I have acquired nor one I plan to acquire anytime soon 😛 I’m at my best when focusing on one thing at any given time, two things…I can usually handle, three things…I can still manage, but beyond that…amnesia, lethargy, procrastination and indifference, set in, leading to general chaos and resultant discontent!
I’ve had my FILL of Weddings!! Truly!! In my opinion, the only people who enjoy them are the Bride & Groom (if they’re lucky!); people who love dressing to their T’s no matter what the weather (which I observe includes all the teens and twenty-somethings); people who love eating a rehash of the same menu every season; young couples in love who either fantasize or have nightmares about their own nuptials; people who have the energy and inclination to make conversation with the same set of people over a period of 3 days; and busybody ‘aunties’ masquerading as matchmakers! Needless to say, I do not qualify in any category 😉 I’m not good with sameness and the amount of time I’ve been away from Goa has done nothing to endear its weddings to me. Au contraire, I’ve attended three family weddings in the last two years (more than I’ve attended in the last decade!), and I can honestly say – Give Me A Break!
I tend to live my Life in Phases. Perhaps it has something to do with being the Moon Goddess in a previous incarnation 😉 At any given time, I’m usually deep in the middle of one of these; the ‘Book & Reading’ phase, the ‘TV’ phase, the ‘DVD’ phase, the ‘Writing’ phase, The ‘Mad Photographer’ phase, the ‘Farmville’ phase (though in all honesty, this one is not a phase, more an addiction :P), the ‘Leave Me Alone or Risk Your Life’ phase (this one often runs concurrently with most of the above!)…you get the picture. While I’m in the midst of a particular Phase, everything else takes backseat, and I mean backseat. I can be very obsessive about whatever it is that has my fancy at the time and ignore most everything else. So when I’m in the ‘Reading’ phase, I have no clue what’s on TV, I don’t feel like taking pictures and I don’t write. I can’t! (Refer to 1). I’ve discovered over the years that this can be a fabulous if rather unpopular and uncharitable existence 😛
Disorganization is the one constant in my existence at the moment and it looks like it’s here to stay for a while. Thoughts imitate Life and though there’s a lot of buzz and static and noise…there’s very little coherence and productivity. It doesn’t help that inspiration always seems to strike when I’m least prepared or deadbeat, usually post midnight when I’m physical exhausted but can’t seem to silence the brain 😛
I live in what can only be termed ‘The Henhouse’ 😉 But that’s a whole other post!
I know the list sounds like a litany of excuses, and honestly it is that too. But it is also the unfortunate reality of my Life at the moment. I know people with much busier lives than me, with no support, still manage to get the stuff they need to get done, done. That leaves me wondering about my priorities. I know what they are, but I have a tough time sticking with them. Perhaps it’s my inherent flighty, easily bored nature? You think?! And yet, ever so often…someone or something will remind me of how much I love to write and of how I’m a much better version of myself when I do it regularly, and some force will propel me to sit down and write…like it did this post!
And so this post is dedicated to M, and to Maura & to A, who jolted me out of my laziness & complacency 😀 Here’s my reply to M’s short, succinct message, “Actually, the Blog is a Thing of the Future…soon!” So here it is, my comeback post of sorts. It’s not great but it’ll have to do. And you know I cannot sign off without thanking all my friends on & offline who haven’t given up on me and who have been patient beyond the call of duty. I love you all and I couldn’t do it without you 😀 And no, I have not given up Blogging and I hope that makes you as happy as it makes me 😉
See what writing does to me? As I write these last few lines, suddenly All is Well with the World and I’m smiling at the screen 🙂 Ishaan is outside playing cricket. Later tonight, a quiet birthday dinner with Hubby and hopefully tomorrow…a new post. Sounds like a plan? Now if I can just stick with it!! 😛
Just a quick note to let my readers know (you know I LOVE you’ll :D), that I’m revamping the site. This includes getting my Categories sorted, updating a few old posts, deleting posts that are no longer relevant…etc etc. You get the picture – Spring Cleaning!
I’m focusing on my enduring passions – Books and Photography. So am gathering all my posts to do with Books under All Things Literary, and reviews under Book Reviews. The plan is to get rid of the various pages I have (that don’t seem to be visited too often), and collate them under suitable Categories instead. Oh I know…it all sounds dull and boring (it is rather, now that I’m in the middle of it!), but hopefully when I’m done, I’ll have a more streamlined Blog as far as the content and layout is concerned. Well, that’s the aim 😛
While the process is on, I would like to apologize in advance for any chaos that may occur (probably will!). Things like double posts and posts that disappear and who knows what else! I’ve discovered that switching from ‘Page’ to ‘Post’ requires me to hit the ‘Publish’ button and so you will see a whole lot of new ‘old’ posts on the Blog as revamping progresses! Sorry for the inconvenience and confusion! I guess, what I want to say is, I hope you guys hang around and check out the changes as they happen and let me know what you think! I hope to be done by the end of the Week…when hopefully, your patience and my efforts will be rewarded 😛
This last weekend was a trip down memory lane. Bittersweet.
Saturday, we took Ishaan to see the Carnival Parade…or maybe I should say, the remains of what once used to be a great Parade 😦 I remember when I was a kid, we always went to watch the Parade. We went early to get ourselves good seats at a vantage point from where to watch the colorful floats, King Momo – the King of the Carnival, and the dancers 🙂 There was always a festive atmosphere in the streets and the locals were out in full strength – there weren’t many tourists then. I wonder now, whether it truly was the atmosphere, or whether it was just us children, finding joy in the little things as children so often do, seeing wonder in everything and allowing our imaginations to do the rest 🙂 I wonder, because I see the sorry state of affairs the parade is now in, the forced festivities and the feeble turnout (mostly tourists) that along its new & altered route, cheering along the motley ensemble. When did this happen? Just another icon of my childhood gone…Poof! Disappeared like so much smoke 😦
Ishaan however, unaffected by the loss of my childhood memory, enjoys himself! We walk along the route for a good 20 minutes, following a float that depicts a rural Goan village scene, complete with a well, a cowshed and three life-sized buffalo effigies, one of which is being milked for water from its udder!! That has even me laughing…water from a buffalo, like milk from monkeys 😛 The floats are accompanied by local Konkani songs blaring out from a concealed player. After a couple of repeats, they begin to jangle my already frayed nerves. Not so much the music as the heat though, which is murderous and has caused me to sweat like a pig (not an exaggeration!), and my blouse to stick to my back like I’ve just come out of the shower! My only interest in coming to the parade is to show Ishaan a good time and get a few good pictures. The latter though proves difficult, since we’ve missed a good part of the parade including King Momo, and most of what I see, I don’t care for.
They start the parade these days at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, a ridiculous hour for any parade (but especially in this early summer heat), and a time when Ishaan is enjoying his afternoon nap. Still we manage to catch a few floats…two circus cars with a few clowns and children (sweltering in the heat and their costumes, poor darlings!); a large Gorilla smothered in giant bamboo; and a gigantic praying mantis that moves up and down thanks to a guy that’s pulling a string attached to its behind! I’m beginning to wonder what the theme might be…Endangered animals and murderous insects comes immediately to mind 😛 There’s a float sponsored by Maggi, that has large product effigies covering the truck in their trademark red on yellow colors, with two Carnival masks stuck on to one side. Following the truck are a group of dancers dressed in yellow & red satin, trying to muster up some energy & carnival spirit. They’re not doing a very good job and I for one don’t blame them. Suddenly a fight breaks out right next to where we’re standing! A couple of guys get physical and everyone around joins in the shouting match, parade easily forgotten!! Thankfully, there are police around and as they appear, surprisingly prompt, one of the aggressors slinks away and all is quickly back to normal!
By 6 o’clock we are done and so is the parade. We walk to the car and relax in the cool blast from the AC…Heaven! Ishaan seems happy which makes the ordeal worthwhile 🙂 He thought the mantis was a dinosaur and I don’t bother to set him right 😉 On the way home though, I’m still reminiscing about the past, the way things used to be and how most things disintegrate with Time rather than endure – even memories.
Sunday on the other hand is fun. We are at my Dad’s ancestral home, in the sleepy village of Amona, an hour’s drive away from home. We’re here to witness a traditional ceremony called simply ‘Dev’ (literally translated as God), that has been taking place, probably over centuries. A few family members have gathered and the women are seeing to lunch, while the men get ready for the ceremony. I like the concept of ‘Dev’. In return for us going to the temples to worship, every so often, ‘God’ pays us a home visit! He comes to us in our homes and blesses us. Howz that for a great God huh? 😀 I remember the ceremony only vaguely from when I was a child. I seem to remember whirling colors on tall sticks, standing in the afternoon sun with my uncles soaking in the air of expectation. I remember throngs of villagers, sweaty bodies and a subconscious acknowledgement of religious fervor. I remember thinking, ‘This is fun!’
We get there at noon and Ishaan spends time playing cricket in the yard with his cousins. I watch as my uncles get ready to welcome God! Turns out, He doesn’t need much. A couple of wooden seating boards (‘paath’ in local lingo), some flowers, a few incense sticks, coconuts, a gorgeous brass lamp and some coconut pieces mixed with jaggery for ‘prasad’ later! My uncle decorates the final arrangement with a ‘rangoli’ (a decorative design using colored powders), in two colors, white & purple, and all is readiness. His arrival is announced by loud drumbeats and the family all rush out into the yard. I see Him arrive! He, consists of two brass hands, each one atop a tall, decorated pole (I see later they are painted red and decorated with pictures from Hindu mythology), wrapped in brightly colored, layered saris, one red, the other green with gold borders. The poles are held by two men in traditional dress, and coming into our yard they rest them on the wooden platforms. As one, the family bows their heads, at once welcoming and worshipping. We tell Ishaan to fold his hands and inexplicably my eyes are tearing up…I feel part of a collective whole, a solid core of belief, faith and joy. I feel protected and I know deep within – All is right with the world. The feeling is rather overwhelming, but thankfully private, coz I’m not an overtly religious person and I don’t actually believe in rituals. But it’s a powerful moment and I am moved.
A priest arranges a head on the platform, a silver God’s head, decorating it with flowers and we bow once again. Then he asks God to bless our entire family, keep us safe, happy and successful, wherever we are. To the thunder of drumbeats, the two poles are twirled in unison, a whirl of bright colors, and brought down on our heads, and I feel the light touch of the sari on the nape of my neck. I’ve been blessed! Then they’re off after a final salute from the family and we eat the coconut and jaggery mixture, before moving on to the mandatory fish-lunch! That’s it, a short and sweet ceremony of barely 20 minutes, that somehow manages to refresh and uplift sagging spirits. A divine boost, if you will 🙂
It’s a good feeling and as good a way as any to be starting off a new week with 🙂
On Wednesday, Ishaan had a school holiday. It was for ‘Mahashivratri’,loosely translated as ‘The Night of the Great Lord Shiva‘. On the day, all over India, people celebrate the festival by fasting, performing ‘Pujas’ and praying for the well-being of loved ones. Like everything in Hinduism, there are several legends about Mahashivratri. Some believe it is the wedding day of Shiva & his wife Parvati; others, that this was the night he danced the ‘Tandava’ – a divine dance symbolizing creation, preservation & destruction; still others that this was the night he manifested in the form of the ‘Lingam’ (the phallic form, in which he is most commonly worshipped to this day). Whatever one chooses to believe or disbelieve, it’s a day of worship, piety and celebration all rolled into one, like most Hindu festivals!
Shiva is one of the super Gods, part of the Holy Hindu Trinity of Gods, Brahma – the Creator, Vishnu – The Protector & Shiva – the Destroyer. They’re the big guns…like the Godfather, the ones that all the thousands of little Gods go running to in times of trouble (and believe me that’s more often than you think!). They grant boons, kill villains and reward devotees much like their juniors, but they just do it better, and bigger! He’s always been my favorite. I like his no-nonsense, down-to-earth attitude and although he’s not the best looker (what with the deadly ‘Eye’ in the center of his blue forehead, the deadly Trident in his hand, the matted locks of hair that hold the mighty river Ganges, the ash-smeared blue-skinned body and the snakes he uses for jewelry!), his charisma & the divine aura that surrounds him, attracts every kind of life-force. And he welcomes them all…the good, the bad and the ugly; offering them all his love, his advice, his protection. What’s not to like?
He’s wise and simple, often granting terrible boons to his devotees that help them become monsters! And when he gets angry…the ‘Eye’ opens and burns whoever has pissed him off to a crisp! Now that’s a power I could do with some days 😉 He once burned the God of Love, Kama (Cupid’s Hindu avatar), to a crisp, in a moment of rage, because the poor dear had shot a love-arrow at him, at the request of the other Gods, when they were trying to get him hitched again after the death of his beloved first wife, Sati. However in a typical God-like display of forgiveness, he later revived Kama at the request of Kama’s wife Rati (Goddess of the Moon), and his own second wife – The Goddess Parvati (she is the Mother Goddess incarnate and also a reincarnation of his first wife Sati! Confused? Don’t be…just go with the flow :P). I identify with this guy…he’s quick to anger, quick to forgive and bears no malice, rather like me 😛
Did I mention he’s big in Goa? Well he is and my family worship him at the Mangeshi Temple. I’m not big on rituals, but I’m surrounded by them and there is no escape. There’s an interesting story that I would like to share that happened a long time ago…when I was newly married. It’s a tradition for newly married couples on Hubby’s side of the family, to worship at the Mangeshi Temple. This involves getting up at the crack of dawn, bathing, dressing in traditional garb (a 9-yard sari for women & the ‘dhotar’ for men), and entering the innermost sanctum of the Temple, where the ‘Lingam’ is located, to worship. Inside there’s a well and at the end of the ritual, the couple draws water from the well to bathe the holy ‘Lingam’! Hubby & I for one reason or another hadn’t gone through with this ritual in the first year of marriage and frankly were completely unaware that it even existed! One day, we found ourselves at his ancestral house and were about to enter to pray to the family deity, when we were stopped in our tracks by a pair of black snakes allegedly cobras but I can’t prove it), that seemed to be involved in their mating dance! They were on the front porch and were in no mood to let us pass. We tried to go around the back (Yes we were silly! Young and silly, wanting to enter a house with snakes dancing on the porch!), but they appeared again at the back door, rather miraculously, and we couldn’t enter. Finally chastised, we headed home and narrated the incident to our in-laws as nothing more than an interesting anecdote. Should have known better (but we were silly & young!). My in-laws took a rather serious view of the whole event and my father-in-law set off immediately for the Mangeshi temple to discuss with the family priest and interpret the significance, of what to them was clearly a divine sign of some sort! The priest duly informed him that we had failed to perform the ritual ‘puja’ at the temple, and this was Shiva’s way of reminding us that we had forgotten! Snakes are Shiva’s pets so to speak! And so, off we went, obediently, into the inner sanctum, duly purified and properly attired to ask forgiveness for our oversight and blessings for a happy marriage. In true God fashion – He forgave & blessed!
There’s another great story that I like, about how he got his blue-skin. The Gods & their cousins the evil ‘Asuras’ (demons) were once involved in a quest for ‘Amrut’ (The nectar of immortality, Ambrosia), and were told that the last jar of the stuff was at the bottom of the ocean bed. They were also told that the only way to get it, was to churn the ocean and drain it, to reveal the hidden treasure. So off they went to the Holy Trinity and on their advice, used a giant snake tied around a mountain as the churner (don’t you just love these stories ;-)), and had a sage drink up the ocean (child’s play to a great sage that!). Still they churned, but instead of the Nectar, poison spurted up which would have killed them. Again, they asked the Holy Trinity for help and Shiva offered to drink the poison so they could get to the Nectar. And so he drank up and as he did the poison turned his neck & skin blue…and so he’s also called ‘Neelkanth’ (neel = blue, kanth = throat), in many parts of India, especially the south. He rides a bull…his faithful mount Nandi (an idol is found in every temple dedicated to Shiva), drinks ‘Somras’ (alcohol to me & you!) and is God to ghouls and humans alike! He is father to my favorite ‘Ganesha’, the Elephant God, and a great dancer! In his dancing form, he is worshipped as ‘Nataraja’, Lord of Dance.
He is Timeless – wisest of sages, granter of wishes, destroyer of ignorance, master of destiny, and keeper of the balance of the universe – in His name is hidden the secret of Nirvana.
He is, to me, the epitome of Cool 🙂
p. s.‘Om Namah Shivay’…this simple chant is used to invoke his name and may be loosely translated to mean ‘Holy Is Thy Name Shiva’.
p. p. s. I’m no Sanskrit nor religious scholar however, so don’t take my word for Gospel 😛 Google Him for more info 😉
Last week I forgot a birthday. That in itself is unremarkable. I do it all the time. I’m one of those people who remembers a Birthday months in advance and usually up to a week of the actually date…only to have it slip away entirely from memory on the Day itself! Truth be told, I have now reached a stage where I can’t even remember that I’ve forgotten (if you get what I mean!), without someone reminding me, like my friend did a few days ago! You know those nagging sensations one relies on…the ones that warn, ‘You sure you’re not forgetting something?’ or ‘Wait a sec, isn’t it so & so’s B’day today? What’s the date? Geez is it March already?!’…turns out those dim with age too (lets hope it’s just age and nothing more serious!). So you see, the whole thing is pretty hopeless!
With the advent of memory-enhancing tools like Facebook, one would think forgetting Birthdays, Anniversaries and any number of important dates and events would be a thing of the past…apparently not! Turns out, the mind only remembers what it’s focused on in the moment (at least mine does!), and so I am perfectly capable of logging on to FB, ignoring all important reminders, and heading straight to my farm for an hour of relaxing, brainless activity 😛 I know! That’s just me! These last two weeks have only served to make matters worse. It’s almost like 2011 has ushered in a period of frenzied activity. There’s been some cosmic shifting of gears and Life is taking on a rogue treadmill-like quality…repetitive, unending & perpetually rushed! Maybe I should just blame it all on Saturn? The scariest thing (to a lousy multi-tasker like me), is that it doesn’t feel like a phase. I look into the future and all I see is more of the same. When did Life turn into this giant hamster-wheel??
I know time-management is the key…whatever you may think, I’m not an idiot! But lets face facts here…I suck at it! I do! Being a ‘go-with-the-flow’ kind of person has it’s advantages but one of the biggest cons is that I suck at planning and sticking to schedules. I generally let my interests of the moment consume me to the point where I’m neglecting important but boring stuff, like helping Ishaan with his homework (although in principle, I don’t think toddlers should even have homework!), doing groceries, deciding menus (ugh!!), doing laundry, collecting laundry, returning calls and the like. Unfortunately, this level of involvement doesn’t affect my fondness for food, enhancing it instead to humongous proportions! There goes that particular weight-loss mantra 😛 No, what bothers me now, is that in all of this constant running around, the tables have turned and I haven’t even noticed! Suddenly I’m swamped in the mundane and it’s leaving me no time to do the things that keep me from losing my mind…writing, reading, taking pictures, having fun, breathing!!
But it isn’t just the physical activity that’s draining. The frenetic brain-buzz’s the real killer! There are many changes happening and innumerable decisions to be made…it’s causing serious brain-drain. It seems these days as if I’m always weighing pros and cons, considering alternatives, anticipating problems and researching solutions…whew! Who would have imagined ‘thinking’ is one of the most exhausting activities there is! Most days I live in a kind of fugue, moving from one thought to the other, one task to another, mechanically. Something’s gotta give! This is not a state of mind I want to be in for long, as you may well imagine. Who would?
Prioritize…that’s the key, but I find that easier to do with chores and the physical stuff than thoughts. Have you tried it? It’s much more difficult, given that, thoughts don’t obey any rules, popping in and out of the mind with irritating nonchalance! It demands an extraordinary amount of discipline and a steely resolve, none of which I seem able to drum up right now. So forgive & forget if this post irritates you as much as it’s irritating me right now! I’m just trying to write myself back into…writing. Trying to build up the discipline and gather the steely resolve, bit by bit, one post at a time. This post has been in my head for a while now, jostling for space with a million others, and I’ve only just managed to get it on paper, in short bursts of free time, over the last couple of days. It’s been frustrating, but I’ve got it done. I know I must find time (somewhere, somehow), to write at least 3 posts a week or suffer insanity. I think I can. I know I must.
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!
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!’ 😦
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.
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.
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 just wrapped up a rather hectic week, and here we are at the start of what promises to be another! The more so for me, coz Hubby is out-of-town on work and so Ishaan will be more clingy…welcome to my World! It’s already begun…he was all weepy today when I dropped him off at school. Hubby always drops him off in the mornings and I pick up in the afternoons, so I guess he was missing Papa today! He’s asked me where Papa was a couple of times, but for the most part prefers not to discuss it & refuses to speak with Hubby on the phone. He’s got quite the temper for a soon-to-be 3-yr-old! That comes from me I’m afraid!
So, it’s Valentine Day’s today…a day where everyone goes overboard with all manner of Love declarations and the online universe is flooded with all manner of Valentine status updates and the like. Me, I’m not a huge V-day person, coz I keep wondering about the day after…you know when all the Love is spent, what then? I do believe in Love (of all sorts), of course! I just believe it exists in the little things people do for one another ever day & should be celebrated every day. In the times we live in…certainly, we should celebrating Love in all its forms, every single day and in any way we can think of! Heaven knows we need it now more than ever! What saddens me the most is how V-Day has now become almost exclusively about Romantic love and gift-giving. Don’t get me wrong…I like gifts as much as the next person (who wouldn’t?), and I’m a huge champion of romantic love…I just hate the pressure that people seem to feel to ‘Get it right!’ It seems to me, that these days, all it does, is make those without partners, more miserable than they should be & those with partners somehow obliged to celebrate the fact even when they may not feel the need! A conversation I just had with a single cousin of mine, has convinced me more than ever that this is true.
This year I thought I would make a list of 10 things that make my heart race faster, that I Love & that don’t necessarily have to do with romance. I’m not going to include family and friends, coz really, that’s a given ain’t it? I love my family and friends 365 days of the year, 24/7! There! Now that’s out-of-the-way, let’s get to the list, shall we.
1. I love the way walking through a spritz of my favorite perfume (Gucci Rush at the moment), makes me feel 🙂 Until I saw it on Oprah (that woman has educated me in ways I didn’t realize!), I wasn’t aware of the best way to apply perfume. On her show I learnt how to spray a perfume-mist’ into the air and walk through it, so you the fragrance lingers on your body like a second skin. Have done that ever since and though it does take up a lot of perfume, I love the sense of decadent luxury it offers 🙂
2. I love the sound of the ocean. This is surprising even to me, coz having grown up around beaches, I kind of took the sea for granted and never paid it much attention. The beach was a fun hang-out and not much else. Now it offers sanctuary from the hustle of daily chaos. Have you listened to the ocean? Really listened? To the majesty of the waves? To the infinite mysteries hidden in those deep waters? That’s Nirvana, right there 🙂
3. I love the ‘crrrrrruuuunch’ of the perfect potato chip and the lingering taste of salt on my lips after!! The same goes for the perfect Margerita 😛 You know what I mean! In my book, salt is a true aphrodisiac 😉
4. I love the pungent fragrance of the freshly drenched earth after the first Monsoons. If I could, I would bottle it and use it rather liberally while melting on hot, dusty May afternoons!
5. I love birdsong! I’m not very good at identifying birds or their songs, but that doesn’t stop me from dropping whatever I’m doing and listening enthralled to their magical tunes 🙂
6. I love the comfort I get from re-reading my favorite books! I read many of them annually, The Lord of the Rings being one of them and I can’t think of a better journey than one through Middle Earth with my beloved Fellowship 🙂 Another favorite when I’m down in the dumps is Ms. Agatha Christie…I adore HP, coz we share more than our little grey cells…we share initials 😉
7. I love watching horses at a gallop…even if it’s in a painting! Maybe it’s the Sagittarian in me, but there’s just something about watching their fluid, poetic motion that calms me down and sets me free 🙂
8. I love cuddling up in my quilt, while the AC and fan turn the room into a pole-like freezer! Oh and I’m not talking about cuddling with hubby or Ishaan here. Just me, myself and I 🙂 Nirvana!
9. I love solitude! I cannot stress this enough and a lot of people think I’ve lost my marbles when I say this, but there it is…the simple truth.
10. I love my own company! In fact there are many times I prefer it to anyone else’s 😉
I would love to hear what’s on your list, if you care to share 🙂
Let me leave you with a picture that is a testament of my son’s love for his Dad…you know there’s Love there when they’re sharing socks 😛