I’m back… for now

Yes, I’ve been AWOL too long. For one, I gave the kids my study table and have begun to use the escritoire I got in the truckload of stuff from my parents last year. I can’t use a desktop on it and so have begun to use a laptop. I find that damn uncomfortable and it gives me a back ache so I finish office work and log off. I also re-uphosltered the office chair with a bit of Fabindia fabric I had lying at home. It isn’t very cheerful, but its calming and I am happy with the way it turned out.

There is a certain joy in knowing that three generations before you sat at this very desk - minus the laptop of course.

I’ve been away for a wedding where the Bean was a flower girl and the Brat a page boy. A cousin got married and I love her and was thrilled to be there. It went off beautifully and the groom is a great guy. The kids looked lovely and I sadly took no pictures because I was too busy with various duties around the wedding and didn’t really carry a camera. I also managed to drop my dad’s camera a number of times and not even notice that I’d lost it.

This is one of the first few family weddings where I mostly wore cottons and wooden jewellery. It turned out pretty well and the colours I chose – hot pink and tangerine were a nice spot of brightness and different from the usual silks. We needed a spot of brightness because the Bean got a bad attack of asthma a couple of days before we left. So we cancelled the train tickets, much to the kids’ disappointment and booked flight tickets. I was still a little unhappy because she was on the nebuliser 5 times a day and I couldn’t see how we’d manage that in the chaos of a wedding. But we did. The Brat has an eye allergy and needs drops a couple of times in the day. But come hell or high waters, I was attending the wedding even if I had to hire an ambulance. Most of the times I had a wheezing Bean in my arms because the humidity hit her and the weather there always gives the kids a bad cough. So she’d run around like mad and then come back for a dose of TLC.

I really had hoped the kids would sit still because they’ve not been inside a church in at least 2-3 years and have no idea how you’re meant to maintain silence there. But they behaved perfectly well (except for the once that the Brat pretended he was poking his eyes out and the couple of times he stood up and called out to me that he needed a Styracosaurus and a Diplodocus for his collection) and did me a lot of credit. At one point the Brat lay down in the lap of the father of the bride and went to sleep. The Bean came to me quietly when her sash opened up. I thought she wanted to stay with me but she got it re-tied and dutifully went back to sit with the rest of the wedding party. The day we left so many folks came up to me and said a special bye bye to her. She’d walked around and befriended them and told them stories *shudder* and built her own relationships with absolute strangers.  The quiet little Brat too had made some friends. And the funny part is that I didn’t know most of them.

It was great fun catching up with the cousins and I am rather sorry that the paternal grandparents kept me and my parents at bay for all the years before this. I could have spent so much more time with the family that side. I cannot get over the sense of loss of time and I sorrowfully watch my kids take the same cycle. Someday they will be free of us and their grandparents and will be able to meet their cousins outside of the family and have an independent relationship with them, free of prejudice and politics. I just hope it is a little sooner than 30 years from now.

We landed in Madras and the Brat looked out of the car window and began counting coconut trees. “I want to live in a place with coconut trees, mama,” said he and I grinned. A kid born and brought up in the northern plains feels the tug of coconut trees. Must be his roots calling!

It was a busy visit from the word go. Moving from venue to venue, organising, decorating the church, checking out the grounds, organising the games, everyone had something to do and in between all this I had to find a quiet spot, plug the Bean up and give her a shot of life.

The OA who arrived a day later came covered in huge red blotches and suffered in silence until we got him an injection the next morning. By evening he was covered in the rash again. It’s funny and sad because he’s one of those who takes pride in the fact that he is rudely healthy and as a result has no compassion, time or patience for those who do. I remember him looking at the Bean in utter shock when she was diagnosed with eczema – What? his daughter suffering from a namby pamby allergy type of thing? What was an allergy either way and why did people make such a fuss about it? So I was torn between worry and going nyah nyah nyah. We found a really cool doctor though, who gave him the shot, allergy medication and then said – Here for a wedding? Medicine and alcohol don’t mix well, so I’d say skip the medicine and go for the alcohol!

We also met an unbelievable number of cranky people this time. Old men at medical stores who took 35 minutes to bill us and yelled at the OA for not having exact change of Rs 371 ready. All while the OA stumbled through in broken Tamil and tried to smile.

I saw a lot of good too. We stayed at the YWCA and one morning while feeding the ducks a blind lady asked me to help her cross the road. I walked her across the beautiful complex and at the gate was caught by the famed, rude Madras autowalas. Except that this time they were not ripping me off. They wanted to help her as they regularly did. But I said I’d take her across since I’d got her this far and to my amusement, they didn’t trust me with her and followed me until I took her across the busy road, deposited her at a bus stop and settled her against the railing there. When I returned, a grizzly old auto driver stuck out his hand – “Good job madam. Which country?”  I took off my sunglasses and hat and glared at him and replied in Tamil -“Very much this country only.” I think they heard my accent and concluded that I was bullshitting them.  But this wasn’t the first. I got asked atleast 10 times in 4 days, where I was from. I’ve often got that in Delhi too, but never at this rate and intensity – usually just once every quarter.

The Brat and Bean on the other hand have watched endless cartoons dubbed in Tamil and the Bean has told G’pa that she wants to learn to speak Tamil from him. He nodded absently and speaking it pretty poorly himself, proceeded to forgot all about it. He was too busy feeling thrilled about the fact that he is looking rather young and fit these days. If he’d not balded so early he’d have been one of the best looking G’pas around. With ma gone to the brother’s place, I was running around taking care of him. Twice he got asked if I was his wife. Each time I was horrified. Do I look that old in a saree?! To which each person hastened to reply that its very common in those parts for older men to have younger wives and what with the custom of uncles marrying nieces, the resemblance is also there. I refused to accept that quick excuse and was damn put out. One lady tried to make up for it by quickly saying that I don’t look old enough to be a mother. Eh? Excuse me? I look old enough to be my father’s wife but not old enough to be mother to a  6 and 4 year old? Let it go, Lady, you’re only shoving your foot further into your mouth. Another said they knew my mother and I am the spitting image of her. Yes, I am, but I’m about 20 years younger, you know! yeah yeah, laugh it up you lot.

This trip I saw the change the years have wrought in my father. He calls it a night early and takes the kids home, letting the OA and I hit the pubs at night with the other cousins instead of being the life of the party, singing, playing the guitar and burning up the dance floor. It hit me when I walked into his room and saw three beds, his grandchildren, his blind mother on one and even the fulltime nurse who stays with her. I really missed my mother in that moment. He shouldn’t have had to do that alone and I said I would take the kids back to my room. But the kids clung to him and he shooed us out and that is how he spent  his 4 days. Putting the Bean on her nebuliser when I was helping with the arrangements, taking his blind mother by the hand to her meals and feeding her, taking the kids to watch the ducks and for walks in the compound, and trying to give me and the OA a break. He is going to be 60 this year and he is the sandwich generation, taking care of his 84 year old mother and 4 year old grand daughter in the same breath, without batting an eyelid. It’s a life lesson right there and there will be more related to this coming up in some days. It opened my eyes, made me rethink some things and really appreciate him for the person he is. And maybe aspire to be more like him and give more to family.

Wine. I wanted to organise some wine for a party and I was told you can only get it from a bootlegger or a five star. Excuse me? What is the deal?! The bleddy thekas have men falling out of them at any time of the day and there is no wine to be had for love or money? Can anyone tell me what the logic behind this is?

And the trip had Beanisms galore. I was screaming at her each time she went to the fish pond – Don’t do that, don’t bend so low, you’ll fall in and drown.

To which she finally replied – And I’ll die and then you’ll have to pray to God for a new baby and say “God, give me another chance. I promise to take better care of this one.”

Yes, total wtf moment.




60 thoughts on “I’m back… for now

    • 🙂 i know… but i did warn you guys when i told you that the sil was ill, that i wont be blogging much. somehow lost the enthusiasm. a seriously ill person in the house tends to put things in perspective…

  1. I loved the phrase
    “he is the sandwich generation, taking care of his 84 year old mother and 4 year old grand daughter in the same breath”
    My mom did it until 2 years ago and until i read this did not give this aspect much of a thought. Beautiful writing as usual..

    If you are using a laptop and have a wireless you can pretty much sit anywhere and work. When i feel my back sore, i move to my bed prop a couple of pillows and continue 🙂

    Take care…Did miss the posts though 🙂

  2. You’re back! (jumping up and down on my seat!) I’ve just joined my new place of work which is anal about blocking internet access and for some reason, yours in the only site that I manage to get through. Those are long days when you dont post!
    Hope your SIL is better

  3. good you’re back. the sudden absences are a bit unnerving.
    loved the part about the sandwich generation. i can see it in my parents too. they still baby us like we’re little kids and we can and do expect them to sometimes drop everything for us. plus they also take care of old and of late often ailing parents. it’s a lot to live up to and i hope we can one day do the same for them along with giving our kids the same sense of security and comfort we get from them.
    hope the bean and OA are fine now.

  4. Oh wow! U r back….could gather from your response about SIL. Good to know that she’s on her way to recovery.
    That grand ol’ table looks wonderful with the money plant adding color…

  5. Bwahahaha at the Bean’s last line. That girl just gets better and better. I’m suddenly wishing I was a child again to have her as my friend. *grin*

    I’m hoping the SIL is ok now – it was a long absence of yours that I was really hoping nothing bad had happened.

    A break is good and it sounds like you had a good time despite all the drama. Glad to see you back 🙂

  6. Can i pls pls pls have your desk? I have been looking for something like that for my room….sigh. And bean is an absolute star….

    • Sure. I’ll will it to you. Think you can wait for me to be dead? I think it should be soon. The Bean told me she won’t get married as long as I am alive because then she will have to move out and I will miss her. Something tells me she will soon be wishing me dead once she realises what she’s promised me 😉

  7. Ok – I love your blog, but I love you more. That desk is beautiful to write on for short periods of time, but it does not look very ergonomic. So yeah, do spend less time on the laptop esp if your set up is not ideal.

    As for Beanie’s neb, I am sure you have heard it all, but in case you have not – get her to run a lot, swim a lot and play a wind instrument. That’s the advice I got for #1. If it helps, after being on allergy meds to control her attacks for 3 years, at age 5, she outgrew it. Now we use the neb once a year, if absolutely needed.

    Welcome back!

  8. good to know sils well! and good to read you again!
    i understand what u wrote about ur relationship w/ the cousins. the net/fb has brought a whole bunch of 2nd cousins in touch. nice to know that we are free of the prejudices of the earlier gen. like leaving the relationship dormant for all these years stopped the festering….we do not have the negative equation our parents/grandparents shared. and weddings in this new gen help to build the bridges, bring fb cousins face to face!

  9. “God, give me another chance. I promise to take better care of this one.” That four year old has the wisdom of a forty year old sometimes with the things she says! Gosh!

    I love your work space, it has inspired me to move my butt and make some headway on the space I have been procrastinating on for the last three months while continuing to sweep stuff off the dining table and plonk myself there in the meantime.

    And I didn’t miss you at all! I’ve been away myself and I came back today to see a brand new post 😀

  10. the roots call and how. jia had been gently asking me to take him to cal during pujo. that’s perhaps the one time he remembers as happy family time. lo and behold. he’s off for the xavier’s fest end of this month. my FB update today is his SMS to me confirming his trip !! love to brat and bean. and to you and OA as well.

  11. Whaaa…… t!!!!! Completely unacceptable MM! Please have mercy on poor souls like me who are addicted to your writing.

    Was laughing loudly when I read the bean’s retort! From where does she get these! 🙂 Hugs to her.

    Glad you are back.

    Your work space looks cool! When do we get the home tour?

  12. Nuh-uh. We demand a photo. Of the flowergirl. 🙂 I hear you on the paternal cousins. The desk – I have one too and it is now purely decorative. It is absolutely unergonomical. As for the laptop, just get an external wireless keyboard and mouse and you’ll be fine.

  13. If I didn’t hate TV so much I would ask that the Bean have her own stand-up show or camera following her. What spunk. This aunty is salivating for the time she and her generation grow up to be the women the world needs.

  14. Oh yes about the wine . tell me about it – we wanted to get some for my sisters mehendi and it was sooo difficult. It has to be either from a 5 star hotel or some weird far away place. Finally we settled on Vodka and Beers.

    And the TASMAC shops? Most are so shady , alcohol buying is outsourced to the men most often.

    The easiest way to get wine is to go to Pondicherry and stock up for posterity 😐

  15. So…first I check everyday to see if the mad girl is back. she is not. then she writes a beautiful post out of the blue and what with the beanism i completely forgive her and am ready to hug her back, but then she does a backflip and says she’s gonna wean off the net!!! I can allow that if it is to write a book, else, katti! jao! huh! mazaak hai kya!!!

  16. What an expedition this wedding was, with all the illnesses and chaos and confusion. Hats off to your dad, and also to your grandma for having the spirit to come and attend this wedding:) Hope you’ve recovered sufficiently from it all. Big hugs.

  17. MM! AM so glad you are back and good to hear that SIL is doing better too…

    And dont even think of Weaning off the net! As it is there is something incomplete without reading a post from you for days together… Take a poll and you will see 😀

  18. How much I love that desk.
    And yes, been there. Some random idiot I met at a wedding came up to me and told me I was looking so young! I didn’t know what he meant. Only later on did I realise he was mistaking me for my mom. I still haven’t forgiven him.

  19. It’s funny, but this past weekend, I experienced the sandwich generation syndrome too. My mother was down in Goa visiting me, with the sole intention to pamper me, help sort out my home/kitchen and give me lots of TLC. Also down was my granny, and it was heartening to see my mom reach out to us both in such different ways 🙂

    I hope that 20 years down, I have at least half the grace and ease with which she fits her various roles and plays them all so well.

  20. You are sounding a bit morbid – talking abt weaning off the net and dying…
    Maybe your SIL’s illness is making you feel like this weary. Or I am over-analysing.
    We all pray for her to recover back to normal and you going back to your cheerful self. Pls take care.

  21. I was about to ask you if u could pull out the posts related to your bro’s wedding and post them again.. i remember they were very nicely written…but then ur SIL fell ill and somehow felt this is not a good time to ask..

    could you do it now??? and please dont stop writing.. I am addicted to ur posts.. would love it if u could open up ur old blog (disable the comments)..

    feel free not to publish this..

  22. Good to see you back after a long break & glad to hear SIL is getting better too.Sometimes it’s ok to take a break ,even a long one (although we will miss u & your posts sorely) but you can always come back .I have recently reconnected with blogging friends through facebook after 3 years & they welcomed me like I was never away.I must admit I hadn’t expected it:)For the Bean’s asthma, do try homeopathy.I did after having to give her nebulisation & antbiotics almost every month.My daughter is on immunity pills & is much better.The episodes have drastically reduced.Also , someone told me that they grow out of it as they get older.

  23. My dad calls his a sandwich generation. Though I think it will apply to all generations in some way or other.

    I don’t think its fair that you think your blog will not be missed. 🙂 I am very sure you had hundreds of hits even on days you weren’t posting. I know I keep checking.

    Four years and I still miss my desktop and even I am trying to regulate my time on net. My connection was down for couple of days and I swear I did not even miss it. Not enough to call and register a complain.

    And lastly, even if you do not like the idea of writing a book, one day you will have enough Beanisms to write one.

  24. This post is so full of emotion, my eyes welled up with tears. For you being so brave to tend to an asthmatic Bean ..I don’t have a lot of knowledge but it sounded very scary as to how bad it got. I hope she is much better now. Reading about your father – it saddens me too to see my parents slowing down when I have seen them healthy, active, conscious and proud of their good health. Loved how he takes care of the kids, his mom and tries to relieve you too. U helping the blind lady ..i think I can go on and on. Loved this for so many reasons.

  25. Wanted to read the whole post.but got stuck The picture,I had the same one as a kid,so did my amama and now aku(my son) too uses it.I just loved the picture,gave me a warm feeling 🙂

  26. mm… when is ur bday. need to count the days… is it gonna be a long wait??? hey btw… r u pregnant again??????????? ;-)))

  27. Whatever it is , take care – you don’t need the heartburn any of this may be causing ! Hugs – take care but not to say I won’t be checking – will wait till 28 😉

  28. Hey mad momma

    I guess my comment got lost, ‘coz I don’t see it.. so reposting.

    So, I came here late last week to catch up on posts…n seems like I missed a lot of action . so here is a bunch of Qs for u…

    When your saying weaning off the net, you’re not saying ur not going to blog anymore are u? I know I’ve not been regular with commenting, but that’s only ‘coz I’m working atleast 14 hours a day. Life’z gotten busy, but I do read you when I find the time,

    Hope the SIL is doing better? n baby button is taking good care of his momma 🙂

    I wish I had had the chance to comment on the Open Letter post, but you have closed comments, so, won’t say anything now except I really wish we Indians stopped this northie vs southie crap! If you don’t mind, can you please share the link to sahana’s write-up ?

    Love to the mad family and special love to B-squared!

  29. hi MM, been reading your blog fr a long time. you write well.
    i am so sad you decided to write less. i m guessing you r getting a book published. is tht right?? tht must be the reason fr staying away frm blogging..
    anyway, i hope u write more

  30. Hi MM,
    This comment is not about this post but was not sure how to contact you as I do not see your email anywhere….maybe I am not looking right, no?
    Anyways, I was reading this book – Awkwardf Memoris from Actual India (lin here: http://www.amazon.com/Awkward-Memoirs-Actual-India-ebook/dp/B005L9VJJQ) yesterday and was absolutely appalled reading this so called reflection from a trip to India. I felt the need to go upto the author and slap her for such a disparaging book. It was a free ebook (no suprise there!) and hence I downloaded it. But so shockingly depreciating of Indians and the country. Not that you are book police or anything but felt that something had to be done in a public forum and hence this comment.
    Well, now that I have unloaded I already feel better. I don’t expect you to do anything so feel free to delete this comment, but I just want to create an awareness somewhere – I already wrote a review about it.
    Thanks for reading this rambling vent!

  31. whoa wha happened!! i missed so much drama :). loved loved loved your open letter. very well written. saw it doin the rounds on twitter but didn’t get the time to read until today. hope your sil is doing better, and do come back, 🙂

  32. hey MM,
    i just joined your blog, and im already reading you weaning off the net! pls dont!
    i didnt stop reading your blogs, they simply connect to our daily lives and people we meet and of course the children..with out a doubt.

  33. Please dont wean of the net. Else your followers have to organise a protest and may even go for a fast requesting your return

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