The years are creeping up and the first indicator is the fact that I didn’t even care to get this post ready in time and am three days late! But I’m cheating and backdating it!

If you’re wondering how I celebrated, it was good fun. My parents showed up to surprise me – revenge for us surprising them on the 9th of September which was their 35th anniversary. It has now reached a stage where we start to worry if no surprises pop up every couple of months. They brought me a beautiful white chikankari, kalidaar kurta and I can’t wait to wear it and feel all Anarkali-ish. My Salim took me out to dinner on the 24th to bring in the birthday and the 25th, to see it out. Dad felt his beloved daughter deserved more than a kurta and some shoes so he bought me an old handpainted book shelf I’d been eyeing for a while. I feel rather grown up, collecting my own vintage, antique bits of mismatched furniture. The Salim in my life also asked me what I’d like for my birthday and I unwisely only asked for red velvet cupcakes. Which he bought me in dozens from Cakeaway (forgetting altogether that we knew the nice guy who runs it and frantically corresponding only via email) and decorated the dining table with at midnight, surrounded by an odd collection of candles collected from around the house. I wish I’d asked for a Ferrari! The picture below was taken just before we stepped out for dinner.

It’s been a strange year. I’ve built some relationships I didn’t think I would and have seen cracks in some that I had not expected. And I’ve taken them in my stride surprisingly calmly. What is important is that in each tough situation I’ve spoken my mind, held nothing back and now am building each relationship on my own terms. I’ve never believed this possible, but it is and I’m feeling a strange sense of exhilaration as it happens, weirdly peaceful too. Yes, even you readers can see a newer, calmer me.

The last year has taught me that you’re never out of the job market no matter how long you ย stay off fulltime work. Maybe what I’ve learnt this year is to let go of fear. To remember that I obviously have something special to offer if I’m still getting the odd company pick up the phone and call an old retired has-been and ask her if she’d like to come back to work. I may not make pots of money but at least I’m not knocking on doors with my resume as I’d feared.ย I’ve regretfully turned them down.

The Bean still comes home too early for me to leave her alone and I’m not comfortable with her going to daycare, yet. Maybe another year for her? But the few extra hours I spend with her show up brilliantly and every time she uses a big word, everytime she uses a kind word or every time she does something just essentially Bean-ish, I feel a shiver of satisfaction run through me and I can’t wait to see the explosion she will grow up to be. It’s going to be totally worth it.

But more than that, I’ve been getting my physiotherapy done and I don’t see myself being fully fit for another year. The OA has been watching me dither and is amused. At other times, not so much. He’d like to set off on his own journey of self discovery but he can’t while I am freelancing. And he knows how much pain I’ve been in so he is monitoring me with an eagle eye – am I wearing heels under that saree? Did the physiotherapist come today? Why did you bunk a session? And he’s very keen that I spend the year focusing on health and not on rushing off to make money.

I find it easier to be a work from home mother although over the last year I’ve worked even less than I ever have before. I find myself tired and fatigued and am wondering what new mineral or vitamin I might be lacking in. On the other hand, I spend hours outdoors, I make crafts with the kids and am frantically backpaddling. A far cry from the days when the Brat was two months old, strapped into a carrier on my chest and being bundled around in Madras autos while I conducted interviews for magazines. I now feel that work can wait, my children can’t. And as times goes by, I feel less and less apologetic when people ask what I do at home. I don’t bother to correct them and tell them that I work from home. Instead, I love messing with their heads and saying that I spend the day sleeping, watching daytime TV and going to the spa. The OA shakes his head ruefully and pretends he doesn’t know me.

My relationship with my parents has undergone a change too. I’m far less harsh with them. Frank, yes, but more tender. I’ve recently seen them begin to grey slightly and what on the OA is stylish, on them, brings out the worrier and mother hen in me.

I’ve also got for more comfortable with my body this year. Begun to wear more dresses, crazy pajamas and a lot more sarees instead of the ubiquitous salwar kameez. My streak of conservation and recycling is growing and I find myself more annoyed by people who do something ridiculously token ย like attending a tree planting or turning the lights off for earth hour, while doing nothing concrete and consistent otherwise. Yep, getting more and more protective of both, my birth mother as well as earth mother.

At the beginning of this post I decided to read last year’s birthday post and see if I’ve kept any of my resolutions. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I have! First, the biggest of my resolutions – I’ve learnt to be still. This one is an achievement because I do have a bit of a hyperactive nature and fighting it has not been easy. I still find my hands itching to stitch on a button as I watch TV, my eyes itching for a book as I sit in the park and let the kids play, but I have forced myself to unwind, to stop seeing multitasking as an accomplishment and recognise it for the overworking of body and mind that it is. The mind is at rest and so much else has fallen into place.

Two – The OA called to say he had invited a few people over for dinner and I of course had a nervous breakdown for three minutes. And then I did manage to organise a good menu, clean up the house, arrange potted plants, snacks, shift furniture to another room (Sometimes I’m idiotic) and get rid of all the muck created by two carpenters I had working. Clean up smashed glass (don’t ask) and get the Tata Sky guys to rewire a room and clean up after them. My knees were shot to pieces and by the time the guests came I was fading on the carpet, but I was proud of myself. We all have our personal goals and I’m getting there on mine.

Three – Didn’t join any club for pool membership this year, but we went to Corbett over the Independence day weekend and I did a lot of good swimming. Given a proper 2-3 month session, I think I’ll be decent.

Four – The house. I’m afraid I’ll jinx it but I’m even more afraid of becoming one of those superstitious people I hate. So here it is, I love this place. It’s just the right size, I love the garden, I love walking barefoot in the grass and watering my plants, I love my fishpond, I love the terrace in winter and it makes me want to roll out papads and churn out chilli pickle. I love the way we wave goodbye to people from our front door and don’t have to take the lift back up. I love how I can sit in my bedroom, hear the beep beep of the car locking and know that my husband is home. I love how the kids around the neighbourhood drop in to play and sit around my table having milk and cupcakes. I love how I’ve planted my massive plants into the ground and given them a hope. I love how I’ve added to the greenery and have creepers growing on to the house from 3 different sides. Even if we have to move out of here sometime, I’ll have had beautiful experience, it has changed me for life, and nothing can take that away from me.

Five – I no longer qualify as a teetotaller. Don’t get excited. I’ve not exactly turned into a lush either, but I have the odd Sangria when we’re out for dinner and might accept a Breezer when we’re entertaining at home. Invariably I don’t finish it, but hey, it’s a start!

Six – I planned to wean off the net and I’ve done a fairly good job of staying offline and reading. I know you guys are complaining but I’m very much at peace. I don’t take phone calls anymore either and most friends are going nuts but I’d rather meet them than have a phone chat. End of matter.

Seven – I am now volunteering left, right and centre. This is a big deal for a journalist who works for a byline. I don’t get any credit for what I do and what is more, I’m working myself into a place where I’ll soon be doing only free work and have no time left to earn money. And no will to leave those volunteer jobs and get a paying one because I’ve invested emotion in them.

All in all it’s been a good year and I’m feeling age creep up on me in the pleasantest way. I can’t complain. Goodnight folks!


98 thoughts on “34

  1. Wait, so I missed it again. Happy birthday, MM. Im sure it was an abfab one, from the way you describe the year that went by. But holy sh*t, its been a year since you quit?!
    *takes hat off* at all that you have accomplished.
    That one point on learning to be still? That one touched me the most, because its something I have been struggling with for so long now. And as I embark on my own year of stillness and self discovery I hope that I can look back on it in a year and have as much knocked off..

    Happy birthday again. Big birthday hugs all the way from Goa..even if we’re three days too late!

    • Meh… what’s a birthday but a reminder that your bones are creaking a little more? ๐Ÿ™‚
      Thanks. And yes, that was the toughest one for a hyperactive woman like me. To tell myself that it’s okay to not be busy all the time. I know you’ll do a great job of your year off… and I hope that someday all of us will sign out of this 9-5 system and find a better way to live.

  2. Happy Birthday MM. Nice to see the way you are growing. I for one have realized that we need to sculpt ourselves constantly along with our kids. Here’s to many more of these.

  3. What a lovely post. So many times I got goose bumps reading it. Big big big hug, you are wonder se full and I love you ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Here’s to an amazing year ahead MM since your past year seems to have gone well (except for the knee) ๐Ÿ™‚
    I rmbr the strange kinship I felt while reading about the tattoo you got for your 30th bday and I had just gotten mine in my 29th yr (it was on my before-30 bucket list) and today reading the last line I felt the same way, its not so bad growing old…

  5. Belated birthday wishes. You write fabulously and my jaws are dropping reading how much you have accomplished in one year. How do you manage to look so fabulous and do all the things you do with 2 kids? This will always be a mystery, I suppose. Love love love your blog!!!

    • haha! I’m 8 kilos above my pre-baby weight. So I’m not looking fabulous by my own standards. That said, Ive decided to be gentle on myself. I am more than just the sum of my parts blah blah. I don’t do half as much as many others do, but the difference is that I appreciate every little thing, be it what I do or what others do. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for the compliments. You make an old lady happy!

  6. A belated happy birthday to you! ๐Ÿ™‚

    You look fab in that blurred pic. ๐Ÿ˜€

    I loved this post, MM. You sound so calm, at peace, at home, and in love with your life. Glad to know that you are in a good place. God bless.

    Multi-tasking might be the need of the hour, but I know how much it takes a toll on you ultimately. It is a skill, but not a desirable one. I’m trying to unlearn it, too. Highly difficult, when the whole world demands that you multi-task.

    A white chikankari kurta sounds fab. I have been hunting for the right one since long. Would love to see a pic of yours, if possible. And, I am in love with the anarkali dress that I got recently. I am loving the way it makes me feel, and would love one in white chikan. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Red velvet cakes have been another must-have for me, too. I have never tried them out, and have been wanting to do so for ever so long.

    A vintage bookshelf?! Super wow!

  7. Belated Bday Wishes MM. Peace, happiness and a feeling of being content.. you so clearly have them all.. wish you good health & times that just get better n better. And you didn’t mention pinterest ๐Ÿ˜‰ isn’t that a beautiful place to hang around.

  8. Belated wishes MM… 34 ain’t old… It’s the new 25 or something like that! I love how you have set goals for yourself and not measured them in terms of the kids… and I also adore the pride you take in your job well done as a mother. No excuses no regrets.. You are always raring to go with rockets strapped to your seams! Here’s to a year older & a year wiser.. U with sangria me with vodka ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Happy belated Birthday MM!! I love the way you described your house. Sounds so peaceful!! So any plans of a home tour atleast the fishpond..please

  10. Happy Belated Birthday MM! It sounds like each year is helping you get closer and closer to the core of who you are, your words ring with clarity. I hope that this year brings you (and the OA and the brat and the bean and the rest of the family) great joy and happiness =)

  11. In my dream last night was the Bean. It must have been a long dream, because in it, we spent the entire day, pottering around your house, talking, playing. The Brat was his usual calm self but the Bean was being the livewire she is. We discussed a lot of things. I think ShahRukh Khan visited us, sometime during the day. We played at the park and we ate khichdi that you cooked and served us (yes, yes, YOU cooked). What I remember most vividly from the dream (and a scene that kept repeating itself) is the Bean’s gorgeous, big, happy smile that lit up her eyes and the dream had a lot of those smiles. I woke up with a big grin today.
    Yes, I am the loony aunt who really must visit your city soon and meet your babies again.
    Happy, happy birthday. This is a lovely post. Loved both the pics, your dresses look lovely and you look so gracefully hot (you know what I mean?) in it. Hugs.

  12. Dear MM,
    Happy birthday… my very best wishes for a wonderful year! as usual it was a lovely post – have to read it again!! the part about the house, was so nice to read – don’t know how to say like u but kind of made me so peaceful!!! – want to see some pictures.. come on MM post it like a good girl..
    Is OA very tall or u are very short??? ๐Ÿ˜€

  13. What a lovely post MM. Belated Happy Returns of the Day. I turned 33 on 23-Sep and share quite a few traits with you – being frank is one of them ๐Ÿ™‚ What are your resolutions for this year?

  14. MM,

    I have loved all your posts ever since I started reading them more than half a decade ago…
    But for the first time, I felt like giving you a hug and a kiss on your cheek …so here you go …. HUG ..KISS…
    So much of peace, content, happiness and goodwill in this post and you are doing such a good deed by spreading all of this around …Let me tell you, being a once-in-while delurker myself, I know that the comments are probably 5% of your total readership or even lesser…
    You should feel great for yourself that you are blessed with such amazing writing skills and we thank you for being gracious enough to share it with all of us……


    Also, you are only 2 years older than me, but I always feel that you are much older that me bcause of your mature writings and also probably because of the older kids that you have. Your birthday posts bring me back to reality with a thud of ” OMG..she is more or less my age and how matured she is ” sigh ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    I wanted to re-read your last birthday post, could not find it.
    But during the search landed on and read all over again Bean’s 3rd birthday post and realized I have gone from “Wow ..what a cool mom she is ..I will try to become one like her when I am a mom” when I read it the first time to ” It is easier to read MM’s stories and feel happy and guilty in one go because I am mom now and nothing like her ๐Ÿ˜ฆ ” ๐Ÿ™‚
    Your kids are blessed and lucky to have a mother like you who goes all the way to make every day of their lives meaningful and joyful and jots it down too so that the kids can later walk down the memory lane by just reading these writings ….

    Love ,

    • thank you, thank you, thank you. What a lovely comment. I was almost too embarrassed to press publish on it! I think I’ll just re-read and soak it in.
      And just for you, a quote – Don’t compare your behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.

      I have days when I am exhausted, sarcastic and couldn’t care less. Just because I don’t blog about them doesn’t mean they don’t exist. We’re all being the best mums we can be.
      PS: I linked back last year’s post within this one.

  15. me and ma are both fans of your garden…
    and we got a lovely glimpse of it in this post.

    as a friend used to say, for the birthday: keep on trucking mate

    • Your Ma? Reads my blog? Wow! But no garden pics in this post.
      I’m not posting any garden pics for atleast a year. This garden was burnt to a crisp because the last tenants didn’t even bother to do a token watering in summer. I am planting trees, training creepers, laying lawns..making a fish pond. It’s going to be a long while before I can show it to anyone. ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Happy Birthday MM.. and I ‘see’ the changes you’ve written about (I started reading you right around the time you started blogging). Here’s wishing you a very peaceful year ahead and hope the knee gets better very soon! Anniversary wishes to your parents too ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Happy birthday again, sweetheart. Two things that made me smile:
    1) Red velvet cupcakes. Had to write a bio last week, and put them down as one of the 3 things that make me very happy.
    2) Your multitasking comment. Switched off the telly to read your post with complete attention. We’re getting there!

    You’ll look gorgeous in your anarkali–send us a picture! Many hugs, much love and an MM-style joyride ahead.

  18. Happy birthday MM ๐Ÿ™‚ I feel like I’ve known you for ages and each year you seem to get more and more wiser (and yet cooler too :P).

    As I near 30, I’m hoping I can find that kind of peace with myself and life in general. You’re a wonderful person and I hope the next year is as brilliant (without the knee pain!!) as the last one ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Happy Birthday MM, may this year bring blooming flowers, healthy knees, unbridled laughter, loads of good books, time to reflect and grow and be all that you are meant to be!!

  20. Happy BDay MM…lovely quotes…going to share some of it with frnds. Hope you dont mind..
    I love the adreline rush during multi tasking and has a big grin when everything gets over successfully. Completing 30 on 13th Sep, I felt a little calmness in me and reading your post gave me the confidence that i will also overcome the fear/anxiety of staying @home looking after kids rather than going to office…

  21. love, hugs and luck. Yup, take of those knees, yo. We want you pottering in your garden for as long as you wish. Have loved all your posts, all these years and your blog is really the only one that now remains on my reader.

    You, OA, the kids…you’re the ultimate family. Cheers!

  22. Happy Belated Bday MM…Every time i read your posts… i feel so grateful to have somehow bumped into your blog.
    Its so so easy to identify with what you write, for two reasons:
    1.What you write is honest, and it can be seen very very clearly
    2. I have this i-have-to-be-busy streak in me …just like you… but like you rightly said, i have been thinking to myself over the last couple of weeks, is multitasking something really to be proud of? Why cant i just relax? Why do i feel that i HAVE to accomplish maximum in a given time?
    You have answered many questions here. i really look up to you for living the way you want without caring about what others make of it..
    Have a great year ahead! Cheers!

    • Zinal, society and media and everything else constantly push us to achieve more. I’m tired of the number of women achievers on magazine covers who will talk about how they work out and they do X and Y and Z and are at the top. No one gets to know that her MIL watches the kids, their mother does the her chores and someone else does something else. We struggle and struggle and just end up tired and wonder why we never have as much as others seem to in their lives. I’m done with that crap. And I’m in a good place. I will do what I want, when I want and I will not be answerable to anyone else. If they feel I am wasting my life, that is their problem. Not mine.

      • Couldn’t agree more with you.. These over-achiever women have their mothers, their maids, their chauffeurs, their nannies, their house-helps, their cooks to take care of the sundry while they focus on ‘achieving’

  23. Belated birthday wishes, MM! I hope you have another great year ahead ๐Ÿ™‚ This is a lovely lovely post – sparkling with lots of happiness ๐Ÿ™‚ You guys look great in the picture and I love the quote-posters ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. Belated birthday wishes MM. I loved the statement you made “work can wait, my kids cannot”. Also the resolution about being still…that one is probably the toughest for me too. Infact the papers carried an article on the “Slow Movement” taking more momentum these days…how our minds and bodies need to stop multitasking and taking life in a little more slowly than what we do these days. Loved it.

  25. Wish you a belated happy birthday, and a great year ahead!
    I loved, loved, loved this post. Not just your writing (I am an ardent admirer of your writing), but also the quotes in between. Needless to say, I agree with each one of them.
    How one can be passionate and yet be still – I have to learn that yet. At any given point of time I have a hundred things buzzing in my head. And it is really not helping. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  26. Belated Happy Birthday Anarkali! You create magic with words. Right from the word go, the post weaved a spell on me, unfolded like a beautiful story and left a delicious lingering taste…. I feel you are at a wonderful place in life, happy and content.. and that shines through the post. Touch wood! May you always be… And now, where is my red velvet cupcake?

  27. Belated happy birthday. I’m amazed that you could stick to the resolutions you took on your last birthday. I should take inspiration and plan something similar. Just wanted to say you inspire people like me, so please don’t go silent completely (Unfortunately/fortunately, I’ve not joined facebook, twitter etc.).
    Have a great year and many more ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Actually I didn’t make any attempt to stick to them. I’d forgotten that I’d made them. I think the desire to do all that came from deep within and I followed through because I felt the need to.

  28. Belated happy birthday MM! Wishing you a life of health, peace & joy!
    Loved the post. Every word of it!
    Even in the blurred pic both of you look fab ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. Happy Birthday MM.

    And Diptakirti is right… you have ads… I am now being tempted to see Jeniffer Aniston’s secrets!!

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  30. Y’know, after having read your blog for a while now. I sense a slowing down even in the general tone of your post. They’re not so rushed, with words tumbling over each other if you know what I mean. They’re calmer, more peaceful, more at ease with themselves. And, alas, I sense the end is nigh for the blog ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    A rather garbled comment this, but hopefully you’ve understood what I’m trying to say. And belated Happy Birthday! It sounds like you had a wonderful day. May you have an even better year ahead.

  31. Happy birthday MM…though wishes are coming in late but they are truly heartfelt. I am also a stay at home mommy working from home and I am getting into that space where I am at peace with my decision. You inspire me…We want to read your blogs often!!

  32. belated b’day wishes! loved the post and the pics!

    and how mature you sound. i hope it is temporary madness and that you will get back to your train hopping routine ๐Ÿ˜›

  33. A very happy belated birthday to you!!!! Been a fan of your blog for a long time! I will send you an email soon.

    Love you!

  34. Hey MM, lovely post as always.Happy birthday and hope the rest of the year is awesome!!!
    Ever since I stumbled on your blog, I’ve been a fan. There is something about the way you write. Your writing always brings out a such a warm and happy feeling in me. This post also struck such a chord on so many levels. This past year, I’ve been finding myself, uncluttering my life and holding close what really matters. So while reading your post it really was like reading my thoughts, but put so much better than I could have.
    Here’s to you and many more wonderful posts…

  35. Belated Happy Birthday MM.. You and OA are just a beautiful couple. You look like 18 year old in that gorgeous dress.

  36. Belated birthday wishes…heartfelt and heartiest. I have no clue why I haven’t followed you for so long, in spite of many of my blog friends being ardent fans and followers of your blog. Consider one more added to the list ๐Ÿ™‚

  37. Kudos to you for keeping up all those resolutions! *takes a bow*
    Believe it or not I’d saved the Stay-at-home-mom wala pic on my system to mail it to you. And you found it already. ๐Ÿ™‚

  38. And Happy,Happy Birthday MM! May you continue to sit still and be at peace always. ๐Ÿ˜€
    P.S. You look absolutely *hawt* in the dress! โค

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