Been a long time since we rocked and rolled

….

I was listening to Jackson Browne the other night and like most people growing old faster than they appreciate, it took me back to my first year of work. For those who don’t know, it’s the song playing as the credits roll in the first episode of FRIENDS. I love the lyrics and it’s one of those songs I go back to every five years or so.

A friend did a Facebook poll asking which show we still missed. Some said Frasier, some HIMYM and others, Seinfeld. I never did enjoy Seinfeld’s sense of humour, and Frasier was always ‘older people’ with older people issues.

FRIENDS on the other hand, came just when we were at the very same stage, starting out, building careers, seeking soulmates… and it followed us. Marriages, divorces, problems with conceiving and so on.

At some point I’d merrily assumed they’d hand hold us through life. And we’d grow old together. But that didn’t happen. As yet another couple I love, splits up amicably, I am both sad for them as they lose what they had. And happy for them as they find a solution in a civil way. Okay, sorry, rambling.

Enjoy.

Jackson Browne’s Sky Blue and Black

Lyrics, for your reading pleasure.

In the calling out to one another
Of the lovers up and down the strand
In the sound of the waves and the cries
Of the seagulls circling the sand
In the fragments of the songs
Carried down the wind from some radio
In the murmuring of the city in the distance
Ominous and low

I hear the sound of the world where we played
And the far too simple beauty
Of the promises we made

If you ever need holding
Call my name, I’ll be there
If you ever need holding
And no holding back, I’ll see you through
Sky blue and black

Where the touch of the lover ends
And the soul of the friend begins
There’s a need to be separate and a need to be one
And a struggle neither wins
Where you gave me the world I was in
And a place I could make a stand
I could never see how you doubted me
When I’d let go of your hand

Yeah, and I was much younger then
And I must have thought that I would know
If things were going to end

And the heavens were rolling
Like a wheel on a track
And our sky was unfolding
And it’ll never fold back
Sky blue and black

And I’d have fought the world for you
If I thought that you wanted me to
Or put aside what was true or untrue
If I’d known that’s what you needed
What you needed me to do

But the moment has passed by me now
To have put away my pride
And just come through for you somehow

If you ever need holding
Call my name, I’ll be there
If you ever need holding
And no holding back, I’ll see you through

You’re the color of the sky
Reflected in each store-front window pane
You’re the whispering and the sighing
Of my tires in the rain
You’re the hidden cost and the thing that’s lost
In everything I do
Yeah and I’ll never stop looking for you
In the sunlight and the shadows
And the faces on the avenue
That’s the way love is
That’s the way love is
That’s the way love is
Sky blue and black

Some news

So I’ve been lying low for a while because we moved out of the country. Yes, years of fighting it, fighting to move back to Delhi, letting Delhi seep into my pores and run in my blood stream and all of a sudden.. nothing. I’ve left home. And I’m adrift and lost.

Lest you think I’m too busy to post – that isn’t the case. I could sit up after a surgery and type with one hand if I wanted to, while a drip rattled against the keyboard and half my body groaned in pain and …. I think you get the picture.

But it’s not that  – I’m busy, but not just busy. Apart from setting up home, getting paperwork in order, sending kids to new school and hating it, doing my own bloody housework (gah!) and holding on to my fucking day job, I am also busy wallowing in self pity and self-inflicted misery and I am not ready to share anymore right now. I might be back tomorrow. I might not be back for six months. Until I have processed this change and dealt with it, I am not comfortable sharing it.

I know you will understand. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you earlier considering it’s been going on for a while. But this – this is something I’m just.not.dealing.well.with.

Stay well, stay cool.

#ChhodAayeHumWohGaliyan

Goodbye, Carmen

CarmenCarmen left our home today (January 14th). It’s rather aptly a cold, grey, rainy morning as she leaves our home, taking all light and color with her. Why is she called Carmen? Not because she’s a gypsy at heart. That would be too obvious. She was christened Carmen because she’s a car, men! Simple.

She joined the family a few days after the Bean joined the family. The OA had booked her and sold our other car and we’d been waiting for more than a month. I went in to hospital cursing him for the bad timing. He wanted a red Verna ‘because I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to afford a red Ferrari’. Hyundai didn’t have enough orders for a red Verna to paint up a batch so we kept waiting.

The day the doc declared me fit to leave hospital, we took a cab home and I insisted on going straight to the dealership. I did a dharna there with a 3-day old Bean in my arms (explains so much about her!) and refused to leave until they gave us our car. When I opened my shirt to nurse her, junta cleared the showroom double quick and begged the OA, ‘Please take ma’am home, we’ll get you a red Verna asap.’

Carmen arrived a few days later. She was worth the wait.

From some of the highest motorable paths to forced off-roading, her gypsy soul took her places few sedans go. Cousin K and I learnt to drive on her and she showed us how a fantastic turning radius can change your driving experience and save others’ lives! And once in a while I’d take her out of the Gurgaon traffic and on to the Faridabad highway and let her stretch her long legs, the wind in my hair, just two slightly reckless girls having fun.

As she left this morning I ran out to see her come out of the garage and turn the corner to the exit gate. Low slung, shiny, soundless, she glides like a model on a ramp. I grinned through my tears – in her head, she thinks she’s a red Ferrari.

Have a good life, Carmen.

Happy 2015

Happy New Year blog readers! If any of you are still reading, that is!

Where have I been? I’ve been watching my old man grow experiment with facial hair. From a very controversial moustache, to a rather academic grey beard, this year has seen it all. And I’ve been making playdough figures with the Bean. We also did some awesome jewellery since I’m allergic to most metal. The Brat has been cycling like its going out of fashion. Come dusk, I head out to hunt him down and drag him home kicking and screaming (not) that he wants ‘just fifteen minutes more’. I love how kids can imbue that fifteen minutes with everything. If you don’t give it to them, their life is over.

This morning I was dragged out to watch his latest stunt and I realised standing out there in the warm winter sunshine, that my son is already doing things I have never done and probably never will. Take that, you overbearing parent!

There’s a lot happening in my life right now and I’ll update you once it all falls into place. Suffice to say I had an awesome X’mas with the mad sibling aka Tambi and his two little baby boys. Scratch that. I barely spoke to the sibling – I was only interested in his babies. I relived my days as mother of a toddler and took his babies for walks down the small town roads, showed them crows, pigs, dogs, squirrels. Sat out for an hour at a time just watching them, not talking. Played little baby stacking games, told them fairy tales… sigh. Yes. It was lovely.

This year I’ve made no resolutions. Mainly because I seem to have done fairly well last year. I’ve lost 3.5 kgs with some sensible eating. I had promised myself that I’d start some formal exercise but I haven’t managed to do that. I do end up walking an hour or so and I like what I see in the mirror. I’d be happy if I were thinner (who wouldn’t be?!) but I’m pretty comfortable at this weight too.

I also accidentally lost some drama from my life too. Was removed from the lives of some people who I was having some trouble getting a long with. I don’t know where we went wrong but I realised that things just weren’t working out and we were more adversarial than friendly. As I sat there wondering how to solve the issue, it solved itself. I find myself much calmer and relaxed. I also revived two old friendships and am so happy to fall into their warmth and comfort.

Yes, 2014 was a crap year for most of us, self included. But at the beginning of 2015 I feel a lot calmer than I’ve ever felt before.

I wish you a great year, good health, love, the comfort of good friends and contentment. May you always have enough.

No longer sorry

amy

I saw this on Pinterest today and it spoke to me.

A few days ago the Brat walked in with a recipe book he’d borrowed from a friend’s mother. The OA and I took one look at him carrying a book bigger than his body and fell over laughing. But here’s the truth – he loves food and he wants to learn to cook.

This brings us to an uncomfortable situation. I am home more often than the OA and most often it is I, tossing up a salad or a sandwich for a quick meal. And so naturally the kids are drawn to watch me cooking. If it’s on a slow day, I’m tolerant of their presence in the kitchen. If not, I tell them to get the hell out of my way if they want anything to eat, because I have to get back to work.

The OA on the other hand, enjoys cooking and encourages them to join him in the kitchen. Having the disadvantage of only recently taking up cooking as an interest, he watches and records hours of food programming and even after all these years, doesn’t know as much about food as I do, theoretically. How did this come about?

I grew up with a feminist grandmother who didn’t believe every woman needed to know how to cook. What every woman should know, she’d often say, is how to earn. And once you’re capable of supporting yourself, you can decide if you want to cook or hire a cook. And so she, my mother (who is a superb cook) and I, hired cooks and went out to work.

But no matter what your family environment, there is no denying social pressure on a woman to cook. My in laws were horrified that their son had not married a Havell’s appliance (please see the series of advertisements here if you haven’t already – they’re fantastic). And I cannot begin to count the number of women in my own generation who felt there was something wrong with a woman who didn’t enjoy cooking, didn’t feel her heart burst with joy at the thought of homecooked meals for her children and didn’t rush to pour out hot dosas every time a belly somewhere growled.

I was young and gave in to pressure easily so I bought recipe books, and cooked when I got a chance (less than most others because wild horses were usually required to drag me to the kitchen) and even joined cooking e-groups etc for the tips. I am now a competent cook, guests expect a fairly good table at my place and I know a good deal about cooking – but I still hate the drudgery of it. Still get tired thinking of even brewing a cup of tea, still hate joining conversations on methods of layering a biryani.

At some point I realised that the OA too, was fighting his own demons. He had a love for food and cooking that had never been discovered or encouraged. He’d walk into the kitchen while I was cooking and try to be helpful, end up bossing me around (because of course I *was* doing something wrong) and be sent off with a sting in the ear for his pains. And so I established a tradition – he began to cook our Diwali family dinner. It started out pure vegetarian, the entire family revolted and the next year it was beer batter fish. Over the last year as the kids have grown and he has more time on hand, he’s been cooking more and more and I’ve eased out of the kitchen almost entirely. The kids make their own sandwiches, the cook does the daily fare and if the OA wants something fancy, he makes it.

It took me years to get to this point where I could back out of what is a traditional female role and encourage the OA to step up to the plate and do what he enjoys doing. The patriarchy screwed us both over and yet we took so long to make this handover. It wasn’t easy watching the cook begin to take orders from him, guests turning to him to ask what was on the menu, and the kids coming to him with their requests. Particularly because working or SAHM, mums run the kitchen in most homes – I felt like a bit of a failure even though I hated the chore to begin with. I continue to handle the day to day running of our home since I work from home, stepping in when the cook is absent. But on the whole, if someone comes in bursting with the excitement over something they want to eat, they know who to take that excitement to, and its certainly not me.

And so it was that the Brat staggered in with his massive recipe book and a demand that we cook something out of it. I looked at him with deep love and much affection and said – You have to be joking if you think Mama is getting up to cook complicated stuff.

And sure enough, he and the Bean nodded and turned to their father, taking it in their stride. ‘Oh yes, Mama dislikes cooking and finds it boring. Dada, you enjoy it, so lets plan a meal. Anyway, you’re the cooker in this house. Mama is the doctor.’

And the three of them bent their heads and began to pore over the book. I turned back to work and heaved a sigh of relief. It is done. I am no longer the default cook in this home. And the next generation has already come to accept home cooked food as Papa ke haanth ka khaana and not Ma ke haanth ka khaana.

I feel a twinge of something and suppress it. I think it is social conditioning calling and I’m not home to receive it. It really was this easy and if only I’d stopped fighting my limits some years ago, I’d have not wasted time making elaborate meals and trying to ‘fit in.’

I’m off to sign off the cooking groups and sign up for a few more on my interests. When I get home, there’ll be a hot meal cooked by husband and kids awaiting me. Life is good.

In times of crisis

The true test of atheism is whether you turn to your ex-religious beliefs in a moment of crisis or not.

A few months ago I discovered a lump on my thigh while bathing. Being the person I am, I promptly ignored it and got back to having fun and raising my kids and reading books. Until it turned into too big a problem to be ignored – big enough to show through my tracks and tights. So being the ostrich I am, I took to wearing skirts and dresses. Until I realised that winter was coming and I really needed to wear some jeans.

So I went and got it checked up and sure enough it turned out to be a tumor. 99% benign, the doctor assured me, but needs to be removed anyway because it might grow to a stage where it will be beyond hideous. And when removed, leave behind a hole in the leg that might require the insertion of a pipe to drain it.

I checked my schedule, found a day that was fairly suitable and checked myself into hospital. And that’s when my hands began to freeze and I began to shiver. I have a 9 year old and a 7 year old. They’re too young to be motherless and that idiot OA – could he be trusted with finding a good replacement? Sure he knew how to pick a good wife but would she be a good mother to my babies?

Around me the family panicked and began to pray. The tumor was to be excised and sent for biopsy. The moment I entered the hospital, I was mentally back at that place where I delivered my two babies via cesarean. I was still a believer in those days and so I had prayed. And as I prayed I felt more and more panicky – hell I was a shivering blathering mess by the time I got on the OT. Each time they did something that caused me pain – gave me an injection, shifted me, I wondered where this God was who I was wasting my breath on. When they removed the Bean they also took out a tumour and once again I asked why God had not protected me but had sent me this tumor to deliver along with a child.

The years went by and I questioned religion, faith, God, and people failed to come up with answers. And so it came to pass that I was once more on the operation table and this time, I did not have a god holding my hand. I was alone. Holding my own hand. Believing only in my own ability to stay calm and in the expertise and intelligence of the doctors handling my case. (An aside – when people go in to hospital and a surgery is successful, they thank God. When it goes wrong, they blame the doctors for their incompetence. Why?)

And strangely I felt more calm and in control. I just had to trust the doctors to do their job well and cooperate with them. I joked with the doctors about being ready to kill for a cup of coffee (I’d been fasting for more than 12 hours by the time the surgery began) and the next moment I was out like a light. When I woke up to a pain in my thigh I realised it was all over. Of course being the control freak I am, I was lucid and clear eyed the moment I came to. No talking rubbish, no babbling – in fact I immediately began to monitor my glucose. And pestered them to send me back to my room. When they finally found the staff to do it, the idiots took me to the wrong floor and finally I sat up on the stretcher to guide them and sent them into a tizzy! Dad says he heard someone getting really mad in the corridor and knew I was being wheeled back.

Twenty four hours later I was let out of the hospital and I came home, ready to take care of my body and my family.

We sat around the dining table that night, discussing religion, God, belief systems and quantum theory. Dad had just had a long debate with his own very religious siblings over this matter a few days ago and he summed it up with – ‘Religion is just a bunch of adults squabbling over whose mama’s cake is the best.’

The Brat looked up from his chicken and said, ‘How can you say your mama’s cake is the best when you’ve not tasted anyone else’s mama’s cake?’

Exactly. A child sees what adults refuse to see. How is it that the religion you had the fortune to be born into, is the one correct one? I’d be more likely to believe you if you’d tried and converted to another based on its merits.

And that’s how it is. I’ve tasted one cake, the OA the other… and then we both sampled a slice of atheism and somehow it fits our personalities and temperaments a lot better than anything else ever has.

I’m fine, thank you for asking. Still finding it a little hard to walk, sit, lift and also my throat hurts from the pipe they inserted. But I’m on the mend and yes, I’ll update you once the biopsy results are out. Stay cool!

Why we have kids…

Growing up in Munnar, one of our biggest pleasures and privileges was watching our parents get ready to head out to a dinner party. The fireplace in their bedroom would be lit. We’d be in bunny night suits – they were like onesies. Bathed and fed and ready for bed.
Ma would be struggling to run a comb through her heavy mass of waist length hair. My handsome dad would be tuning his guitar, without which he wasn’t allowed to walk into a party. I’d be strutting around in Ma’s vertiginous stilettos. Tambi would be watching my dad strum, absently singing Wonderful Tonight, smiling at ma.
Tambi and I truly believed he’d written the song for her and would fight you to death if you disagreed. Eric Clapton be damned.
She’d catch his eye in the mirror and blush. And then I’d regretfully give her back her heels and watch her slip her beautiful feet into them, her slender neck barely able to hold up that massive bun. A spritz of Paloma Picasso and they’d kiss us and leave in a cloud of perfume and romance. Out into the crisp, cold darkness of the mountain air.
Fast forward 30 years and I find that I’m unable to dress for a party unless there is some music to go with it. I have an iPod set up for it since I don’t have my own troubadour. The Bean is prancing around in my heels and threatening to break her neck. The Brat is sprawled across my bed, looking at me like I’m the most beautiful woman on earth. Just as I looked at Ma in her black slim jeans and white swing top. And this is what we have kids for – for those few moments when we’re perfect in someone’s eyes. And this is what childhood memories are made up of – perfume, music, magic and a nip of winter chill.