Senti bhi hoon, aur mental bhi

Something utterly adorable about your parents sending you rather drunken watsapp messages from their college reunion.

And something akin to maternal pride when one of them receives an award for being a distinguished alumni.

I believe this is what they call the circle of life.


The fledgling

Academic question. Not at all personal. *koff koff*
In fact, I’m asking for a friend.
At which point does one cut the cord and stop missing one’s parents?

Years ago I would sob every time I left for college and my parents spoke to one of my professors about it. He was very nice about it and told them an anecdote about how the eagle keeps removing the feathers it lines its nest with, until the nest becomes too uncomfortable for the fledgling to stay.
My parents are failures clearly, because it’s been twenty years and they’ve only made the bloody nest more comfortable. Of course it is all their fault – raising their child to be dependent and dysfunctional when she is not within an 800 km range of them.

I have a couple of plans in mind now

  1. Act increasingly nasty when I next see my parents, forcing them to fight with me, vitiate the environment progressively so that by the end we’re all happy to see the back of each other.
  2. Be nasty to my kids starting today so that they hate me. This nips the issue in the bud and they don’t end up being miserable babies at the grand old age of 37. This whole business of being a good parent is overrated and misunderstood. You must raise them to hate you so that they don’t miss you too much.

If you have other ways to handle this mess, please give your solutions in the comments box. The winning comment will get – oh, I don’t know. Tear-free evenings?

Sing it, sistah

I’ve blogged about bad boys before. A friend’s comment on Facebook reminded me of them again. Girls only fall for the bad boys, she said rather regretfully.

They do. The first bad boy I fell for was my dad. Curly haired, leather jacket wearing, chain smoking, guitar playing, voice of an angel, vicious temper, impulsive, passionate, quick smile, wicked sense of humour, he was the original biker doing 20-day bike trips. What’s not to love?

I fell for bad boys after my dad too, although as I’ve mentioned before, I married the OA, the quintessential dependable guy who waits in the wings until you break your heart over one of them and then sweeps in, picks up the pieces and walks into the sunset with you in his arms. I married him because he probably reminded me of the gentle, steady man who raised me, my maternal grandpa. My rock.

Anyway, the reason girls fall for bad boys, is because they’re the king of the grand gesture. Banging at your hostel gate at midnight on your birthday, with a cake (yes, that’s my dad again), writing you songs (an ex), choosing to spend their last rupee calling you instead of buying toothpaste (an ex again) and so on.

I saw this advertisement today and it reminded me of my parents. You know those cute little naked babies that feature in the Love is… cartoon strip?

My dad used to make them up for my mum, sketch them and create one specially for her, every couple of weeks, depending on what the current ‘affair’ was. She showed them to me years ago and I don’t know if she still has them. She’d collected them all carefully of course. The art work was good and the idea and his sense of humour shone through. They were a grand gesture in those days. And it worked. He swept her off her feet. He still does the most utterly cute things for her and it doesn’t matter that my brother and I will never be in the inner circle. There’s enough warmth from that fire for the two of us to stand by the side and warm our hands.

Here is the advertisement – watch it to know what caught my attention. It is particularly dear because of the soundtrack. “I can’t help falling in love.” I have a nice clear voice (even if it doesn’t bring in awards at the moment!) and Dad has an awesome Neil Diamond voice. We sing this song very well together and the Bean has begun to sing with him. It’s the cutest sight – She sings Summer Wine with him.

By the by, the other day we were listening to Adele singing Lovesong. I was on the first floor singing softly along with it. The OA was on the ground floor getting the kids to do their homework or something. He shut off the music and I just adjusted my volume to make up for it, singing loud and clear. And the Bean came running to the foot of the stairs – “Is that mama or Adele?”, she said.

The acoustics were flattering I guess, because for once I let my voice soar, and sang with all my heart. And felt a pang for the talent I’ve let lie by the wayside. The blog I’ve abandoned. The career I don’t have. The home I’ve left and come away. I put all the pain and hunger into my voice and it showed. I sang while the OA and the kids stood at the foot of the stairs and listened to my voice in the stairwell.

When it was over, the OA looked up and said mildly – Why are we wasting your voice? Why haven’t you gone back to training it?

I don’t know. I think I’m incapable of devoting my energy to more than one thing at a time and for the last ten years it has been my kids. I hummed lullabies softly, intent on lulling them to sleep, not impressing them.

Years ago while singing the Brat (who only spoke hindi in those days) said – Mama, tum kitna ganda gaati ho. Mat gao.

We laughed it off, but I think I slowly stopped thinking of my voice as special. I was a mama who happened to have a voice and it didn’t matter.

Over the last month or two, as I sit here in a strange country, missing everything that was dear, the house to myself, I sing loud and clear and I enjoy my voice. For the first time in my life, I sing for myself, not for my parents, my music teacher, my friends, an audience. No, just for myself, and I love it. I take pleasure in it and I feel my lungs expand and my range grow.

Someday I will go back to training. For now, I’m back, baby.

Err.. just my voice. Not necessarily back to blogging. Just know that I think of you guys and want to blog, but it’s too raw and too harsh and I don’t want them trolls coming back!

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.


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

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.

Rain drenched and sated

When the Brat turned a year old, I got the entire family to write letters to him and those were posted on my old blog. My dad’s letter said -‘Your father is a great guy, but there are two things I can teach you that he can’t – trout fishing and playing a guitar.’

The Brat turned 9 this year and G’pa has neither taught him the guitar nor taken him trout fishing. So we planned to go to Munnar this summer, to show my kids where their mother grew up and the lawns she learned to cycle on. The original plan had been to go with the mad sibling, aka Tambi and his family. But their trips to India are always rushed and my kids are growing really fast and I don’t have the luxury of time. So we booked our tickets and and decided to go ahead without 40% of the group. And then Ma broke her leg. Clearly she couldn’t join us.

So we dithered. Clearly we were not destined to go without Tambi and Family!

And while we dithered, flight tickets got more expensive and hotels got booked out. So finally we decided to use the tickets we’d booked and go south only. Stopping off in Chennai to catch up with family and a cousin who is due any moment now (yayy! More babies in the family).

Our last visit to Kerala was baby-free and we wished we’d brought them along. So we fixed that by a quick trip to Pondicheri and then on to Cherai Beach, Kerala. My dad decided to keep to the program and he came along with us.

It was a bad time to go to Tamil Nadu for sure, because the heat had me sapped. Pondicheri was fabulous and the hotel was lovely, but nothing made up for the heat.

Early mornings and late evenings were spent in the pool or on the beach and afternoons were spend reading in bed. The Brat has taken to Tinkle comics and I heaved a sigh of relief. I’ve always worried that our children will turn up their noses at what we enjoyed, as poor fare. And yet here is a brand new generation reading a brand new Tinkle, a holiday session, laughing with Supandi.

Lost in his book

Lost in his book

The Kerala leg was simply fantastic. Heavy rains, lush greenery, everything screaming GODS OWN COUNTRY. I sat by the window and watched the rains pour down, the sea lash wildly at the shore and the skies darken dramatically, while we all sipped on hot chocolate. And then it would clear up and we’d all run out to play. I fell in love with Cochin too – the port, the ferry… the Jewish area. Everything had so much more character than the high rises and sameness that I returned to. I almost always have post holiday depression, but I find its getting harder to handle over the years. And this time I was wiping away tears as we drove to the airport. The city gave me a grand send off with grey skies and driving rain. If the kids hadn’t been in the car I’d have sobbed like a baby.

The last time I visited Kerala I remember observing that men in Kerala wear mundus even now. Which is fantastic. It’s perfect for that weather. Makes me wonder why so few men in the North wear kurta pajamas or dhotis. Temperatures soar here too and it must be so much more comfortable than trousers and jeans. Oh well.

Also, it’s interesting how Kerala is home to so many more communities than any other place – each one retaining its identity. Syrian Christians, Mappila Muslims, Jews, Goud Saraswat Brahmins who are native to Cochin and so on. They’re specific to this area and co-exist fairly peacefully. They’ve managed to do it while retaining their culture. Why is the rest of the country unable to do this? This is what one would call truly cosmopolitan.


Breakfast buddies

2014-07-12 12.54.35

Made by man meets made by nature


Because there is nothing as hypnotic as staring into the depths of a pond


Backwaters ahoy!






Daniel Craig. Or not.


The Bean hanging on to my hat as she takes in the seaview from the hotel reception


I like big eggs in my biryani and I cannot lie

IMG_20140628_085739 IMG_20140628_095022 IMG_20140628_110446



No votes for me

For years ours has been the go-to house because I’ve been a work from home mum and parents feel safe sending their kids to a place where they won’t be left to maids or where they’re sure there are no unknown males. The last couple of years have been ground floor homes and I often smile over my cup of chai as I see the bunch of cycles thrown at my door, higgledy-piggledy. Kids running in randomly with an Aunty, paani, request. Pile ups at my door as they rush in from school while their mothers beg them to at least go home for a quick wash.

Increasingly though, that crowd is thinning out. Because ours is the only home where the kids don’t have a TV in their bedroom. Our TV is out in the common area and even so, kids who come over to play are encouraged to pick up one of the many games lying around. I don’t actively prevent them from watching TV, but I usually pull out a board game and start them off. Or an art session. Or suggest that they all go for a swim. Or a cycling race around our complex. If we do put on the TV its not for uncontrolled endless viewing but because we’ve planned a specific movie evening with popcorn. And once the movie is over, the TV goes off.

The Brat is almost 10 and his friends are into Playstations and the like. We don’t have one. The Bean’s friends are allowed glitter nailpolish and heels – at 7. I don’t subscribe to those either.

Friends drop in at all hours but on school nights I have a strict curfew and I don’t know how others let their kids play basketball till 9 pm because heck, my kids won’t wake up for school if they don’t get to bed on time.

Snacks at my place are fresh fruit, milk and peanut butter or tuna sandwiches. At other homes they are Maggi, Chocopies and jam biscuits with aerated drinks. I also insist that they all sit around the dining table and eat instead of taking it into the nursery and spilling crumbs all over the beds.

Clearly our place isn’t winning a popularity vote.

I know my kids would prefer that I loosen up but it seems people around me are loose enough for me to have to stay tight to maintain the tension it requires for this tent to stay upright. This is not easy. I am liberal by nature and in my politics. I hate policing the kids and this is not the way I was brought up. But I see little kids wearing glasses earlier than ever, I see overweight kids (they were so few when we were children) and I see all sorts of ailments and lifestyle diseases becoming more common than we realise. I hate being the strict aunty. I love having a houseful of kids and the sound of them playing and chattering is truly music to my ears. It doesn’t disturb me in the least.

While all kids love to get out of their own homes and go to another’s for a change, I am well aware that my kids prefer the laxity in other homes. The endless TV, the junk food, the lack of supervision by parents, the over flowing toy bins, not being embarrassed by their mother who insists that all the kids help tidy up their room before going home (just as I insist my kids do when we’re visiting someone). It’s tempting to let it slip, to go back to being the most popular aunty like I was when I spent hours reading to kids when they couldn’t read and were mostly surrounded by maids or with grandparents who couldn’t play hide and seek with them.  But it would go against what I strongly believe in and I struggle to stay on this path.

Interestingly (and of course they don’t know this yet) I think the OA and I will be among the less hysterical parents when they do begin experimenting with drugs and alcohol. I believe obesity, modified foods, sugar, refined flour, additives, food colouring and lack of proper supervision in their formative years are more likely to harm our children than the odd bottle of beer. I do believe in instilling healthy food habits and lifestyles so that when they do grow too old to listen or care, they’ll have healthy habits and hopefully healthy bodies. I believe if they have some amount of discipline and health on their side it will be easier to fight or even experiment in some sort of controlled moderate manner. I’m proof if anything, of someone exposed to sex, drugs and rock and roll, only to turn out a complete teetotaller who is nonetheless entirely tolerant of people who make those choices. Of course there are no perfect solutions or easy answers. And so I bumble on and hope for the best.

All I know is that right now the cries of children in Palestine is making it hard for me to think straight. Signing off on a fairly bleak week. Try and stay safe and have a good one, you.

Here’s a mother who punished her daughter by selling off her Katy Perry concert tickets on a closed Facebook page. What do you think of that sort of disciplining? I’ve often been strict and taken away privileges etc (which is why my kids think I’m a mum from hell) but I don’t know if I’d have publicly shamed the kids, specially in their teens. That said, if I had to pick an extreme I’d pick discipline over nothing.