What 2015 Taught Me

Something about the year-end makes all of us look on in anticipation onto the next year. All around, everyone is in a holiday mood. A brand new calendar! How wonderful! The chance to start things afresh! Someone once told me, ‘hope is for losers’. Is it? On the contrary I think that one who doesn’t have hope, has lost it all.

For me, 2015 has been a year of awareness. I started the year with a bout of ill health, which confined me to bed for almost a fortnight. One can deal with such confinements in various ways. Either one can moan and groan their way through all the days, which honestly is not my way of dealing with things. I am the kind who likes to make the most of a situation. So in between popping pills and sleeping them off, I took the opportunity to introspect. Many link introspection to brooding. But that is not always so. For me introspection is an honest conversation with myself. Honest being the keyword. Those few days, left to myself, I could actually re-look at what was happening in my life in a calm way and re-list my priorities. I can’t really pin point the moment, or the cause, but since then I have been more aware of what I have done with the days that have followed.

People who are familiar with the terms of yoga and meditation will know what I mean when I say that I have never felt so collected and aligned. So much of how we deal with our daily life comes from within us. The way we perceive, the way we react, and the way we accept. And we all have to set our own pace to reach that point when it all starts getting clear to us. That point when we reach a certain degree of peace within. It is not that we will not have hurdles to deal with, its only we learn to gauge the amount of reaction that every situation warrants.

As the year ends, I know I have learnt to pause and think if it is worth losing my cool over some issues. ‘Ignorance is bliss’ has taken on a new meaning. If I can ignore some things around me, I know I can be blissful. I have reconnected with simple activities which give me immense pleasure. They may not have a purpose, and they may not be of worth to anyone else, but , it is soul food for me. It could be a walk by myself, or playing a board game with my kids, or reading a book which brings a giggle, or just meeting up a dear friend to chat over a cup of tea. I have consciously steered clear of people who stir up negative emotions. My writing has also ensured that I keep a lookout for happy memories to share, which indirectly keeps positivity in my day to day activities. And while there are miles to go, somewhere within I know that I have hopped on to a track which is right for me.

Wishing all my fellow bloggers Happy Holidays and a Very Happy New Year! Hope that the new year holds all that is dear and important to all of us. Peace, Love and Good Health. And the right track for each and everyone.

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Of Doors, Doorways and Windows

 

 

Spent a few days in Rajasthan last week, travelling to Udaipur, Kumbhalgarh and Chittorgarh. Home to the Sisodia Rajputs, the forts and palaces give one a glimpse of what life must have been centuries ago. Doors and windows have always caught my attention and I couldn’t stop myself from photographing some of them.

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People Study

Types of people one definitely will encounter on any jogging track no matter which locality:

  • The lone runner / walker, who will be walking in anti clock direction while the rest of the people are going along clock direction. Hereby causing breaks in the rhythm of everyone’s walk.
  • The one woman, who takes immense effort and pleasure to get her full make up on before coming for her walk, only to have it running down her face while she runs on the track.
  • The inevitable He Man who glances around, every two minutes to see if anyone is ogling at his steroid induced muscles.
  • The group of loud men who crack horrible jokes and guffaw and bellow at those said jokes themselves. They are the ones whom all wish to avoid but cant, and so make sure that they are at the other end of the walking trail.
  • The group of loud women who crack equally horrible jokes as the group above and add giggles to the entire exercise, thereby ensuring that the peace of the morning is lost.
  • The quaint group of senior citizens who keep bottles of water to reserve seats on the park bench for their ‘friends’. They may even bring snacks to share.
  • The group of teenagers, showing off their exercising techniques to their friends, when all of them are well aware that the walking track is nothing more to them but a courting ground.
  • Someone like your’s sincerely who is smiling a secret smile observing all this.

Girls Galore

1-20151208_164023I come from an all girls’ school. Just five hundred of us in the whole school, spanning pre-school to tenth grade. But if anyone of you thinks that being in an all girls’ school is dull and boring, then you are very mistaken. We studied, we fought, we played pranks, we broke rules, we got into trouble. And through it all we also stood together as a class. I am sure that women, who have had the experience of one, will agree with me totally. We had some marvelous years and some equally hilarious memories to take away from our school.

Coincidentally, we also had an all female staff. Except for the four peons and two watchmen who graced our premises, it was an all female domain. I remember one year, when we did have a male instructor for basketball. Though none of us know the real reason why he left his position, we like to believe till date that he was intimidated by the number of women around him and decided to escape.

We were very fortunate to be taught by women, who were ladies in the true sense of the word. Graceful and elegant, they set an example, which was inspiring to say the least. And yet they were firm and stern enough to keep us on track and not allow us to get pampered. Today when my daughter comes home from school and describes her class teacher’s dress and accessories, I smile as I am immediately transported back to my school and our keen observation of our teachers. I think it must be a very feminine trait to observe these details. I don’t recall my son recounting these things to me. We not only knew the dressing styles of each teacher but also their other individualistic traits. We knew exactly whose class we would be able to get away with murder and whose class required total silence and attention.

And yet these were the women who were our mothers away from home. I am sure they too knew each child’s pluses and minuses, the way we knew theirs.

Most of my classmates have been together through all the years of school, which makes it thirteen years together. We know each other in a way, few others do. We have been together at an age when we didn’t know how to put up false fronts. That came later in life. So it would be truthful to say that these are people who know me at my rawest.

My batch had always made an effort to keep in touch. We had group emails even before social networks made their appearance. The arrival of Facebook or IMs only made things easier for us. Today we have a Whatsapp group with 28 girls, out of the 45 who graduated together. Some choose not to be on these chats simply due to professional inconveniences. But they are still in touch. I feel so fortunate that we are connected in spite of being in different parts of the world. Our relation has evolved over the years. From being classmates and good friends, today we are a support system to each other, at least emotionally. From discussing books, teachers, boys, makeup, PMS, parents, and movies, we have graduated to discussing our homes, spouse, children, perimenopause, grey hair. It’s been such a beautiful journey. And I wake up every morning and look forward to my cup of tea and the scores of messages awaiting me. It sets a good tone to the day. If I feel perturbed, I know I can put it down in front of these girls. I know I don’t have to think and speak here. I can just be.

When we are at school we are so conscious about what our friends think about us. Ironically these are the same friends and probably the only friends, with whom I can be totally myself today.

PS: We still discuss books, teachers, movies and boys.

 

 

 

Inked

1-20151206_195221-1I was watching my daughter arrange her school bag. As she carefully arranged her box of pens, my mind was transported to my school days. Today kids use gel pens. Ours was an era of fountain pens. Till I was in the fourth grade, I used pencils to write at school and home alike. In the summer break before we started fifth grade, we were asked to buy a fountain pen and practice writing at home with it. I remember the splatters of ink on my hands from the leaking pens.

A fountain pen requires a lot of dedicated upkeep and accessories. For one, you need a pot of ink handy to replenish the pen as when the ink gets over in the pen. Next is an ink dropper. There was always a debate if a plastic ink dropper was better than a glass one and vice versa. As we got used to a fountain pen, many of us received one, which had a built in pumping device and didn’t need a dropper. The nib had to be kept clean to get an even and smooth writing. Even then there was no guaranteeing the pen’s wayward ways, and one often landed having a big blob of ink staring up at you, from an otherwise spotless page. That is where the blotting paper stepped in. I remember it being available in a silly pink colour. The sort of shade, which pushes you to doodle hearts on it with the said fountain pen. And then don’t forget the ‘ink-eraser’, in that unidentifiable shade of blue, which was supposed to erase ink markings. It managed to make a nice little hole in the paper but didn’t do anything to the ink.

The most stressful part about using a fountain pen was the availability of ink. There were three school-goers in our household and one deed, which no one owned up to, was who had used up the last bit of ink from the communal ink pot? There used to be frequent squabbles regarding the same. Ultimately each of us kept a pot exclusively for our own use.

In school, our class teacher had come up with an arrangement, which actually made us all more alert about refilling our pens at home. There was an inkpot bought by our teacher and kept on her table. If any one of us had an empty pen, we were allowed to refill it from that bottle, but at a price. We had to pay a token amount of money (I cant recall exactly how much). The money collected thus was used to buy a new bottle. Since we all had very limited pocket money, all of us were loath to use it on something as mundane as fountain pen ink. So we made it a point to check and refill our pens at home itself.

I remember all of us having ink marks on our hands, especially the index finger. Our uniforms too were recipients of similar splattering. But we also could boast of beautiful handwriting, which only comes with the flow of a fountain pen. A Parker fountain pen was the incentive for many a test result. Today I rarely see anyone using one, and some sport it as an expensive accessory.

My two children are 6 years and 4 months apart. While people talk about how having children with less age gap between them is an exhausting task, no one actually talks about the perils of having children far apart. When I was pregnant with my second baby, all I heard was how good it was that the older one was old enough to understand and in some ways give me a helping hand in keeping her entertained. To a certain extent it was true. My son has always liked babies, and he was super excited about the idea of having a playmate. When he came to the nursing home to see his baby sister, his face fell when he realized that it would be sometime before she could actually play with him. Yet they bonded so beautifully over rattles and mobiles (the ones that hang over the crib and not the phone).

For me it was a different journey. The penny fell when I brought my younger one home from the nursing home. That night seeing both of them sleeping peacefully, I felt a wave of panic surge through me. I was responsible for two human beings! My spouse travels a lot and most of the chores involved in bringing up both of them fell on me. And of course Murphy’s Law states that if there is a very sick child at home or any kind of crisis, the husband has to be travelling and the emergency comes up only in the middle of the night.

With my daughter starting Pre School, I got my first day alone at home after a gap of 6 years. And the day she started first grade, I actually felt strange eating my lunch on my own at home. I had got so used to a pair of sticky hands holding on to me for the past few years. Honestly speaking, for all my grumbling about the lack of space, I really didn’t enjoy that lonely meal much.

In a few months, my daughter will be starting 7th grade and my son will go away to university. Attending a class meeting at her school today I realized that it was almost as if my two kids have been running a relay race. The older one finishes one lap and passes the baton to the younger one. He got done with diapers and potty training and then she came along. He finished the next phase and then she took over. He must have just got done with his orthodontic treatment and we are already looking at our school schedule to start the younger one off on her braces. And now that he is ready to graduate from high school, she is ready to begin the rigors of study, which will prepare her for Xth grade.

When my daughter graduates from high school, it will be 20 years of schooling that I have done alongside them. From the day my son joined preschool to when the little one moves on to university. And while it’s all too familiar the second time round, it’s also so different. We know we are dealing with a different individual. And it never ceases to amaze me how my two kids are so different from each other in their habits and tastes. 

PS: My biggest grumble is that I have had to do two extra rounds of school in addition to the years I have put in my schooling.