Posted in close to heart, m@dness

The Year of Awakening- 2019

To begin with, unlike 2018, this year has been kinder. I am resisting the temptation to use other nice adjectives, lest I jinx it! As I write this post, Tango looks at me thinking when will she get up and coddle me; Cookie is running around, trying to coax me into going after her; Ami is doing practice work from school. 1 can speak; 1 hardly; 1 cannot. So, how can I convey that I need some time to finish things I started? Well, that was what most parts of my year involved. Mastering the art of Work Life Integration.

Image result for work life  balance women

2019 has been the year that I decided what really I want to do, professionally. I realised that I can really love the job I do. With multiple roles to fulfill and countless deadlines, a friend asked me how I manage with a full time job, consulting gigs, family etc. I had to laugh. In the beginning of the year, I had no clue how this year would be and no idea as to what I wanted to do professionally. Now, towards the end of 2019, I am in a happy place, fully understanding what I am capable of and what makes me tick!

Last year, the brother explained why planning was so crucial and how you can actually negate exigencies by planning. Although it did not make much sense then, today it is clear to me and it indeed is true. I know because I learnt it the hard way. Life is bound to throw hurdles, what you make of it is entirely upon you and nobody else. The way I see it is quite simple, if I care about something enough, I would do things to ensure that nothing happens to it and I’d never make any excuses to avoid it. It matters to me so I’d do what it takes. Be it my circle, profession or things I love. Period.

Eg; Exercising? Another day! Food? Bring it on! Get the flow?

Coming to what we call burnout culture, the new craze of being busy and being  exhausted by work and the world. Most people I know are busy. They are busy at work; busy at home; busy on the commute or just busy. And I am not complaining. Am just laughing at this new term. Twenties and thirties and even mid forties are about working hard so that you have a better quality of life later on. I don’t mean kill yourself , ignore your health and make money! I mean, move around and make things happen and be busy. It really is okay. Like I said, make time for things you cherish; things that inspire you and makes you happy!

Whether you call it Work Life integration; balance; jenga; or harmony, the truth is that humans fundamentally crave a simple and similar desire to create easy joy and meaningful engagement between the interconnected roles, relationships and responsibilities that make up their lives. World. Inc does not need another term that talks about creating a seamless,meaningful existence that is common to all areas of an individual’s life. Personally, in the era we live in, it is not difficult to achieve this as we are all mostly technology enabled and so much can be achieved on the go. In the end, it all goes back to, how much do you want it?

To all those who still think I have an army of maids at my disposal and full time chef and “support” from the family, you will be disappointed to know that I have in fact none of these. What I do have is a family that knows my jobs are important and a husband who knows that raising the kids and managing the house is his responsibility as much as it is mine. And like Danielle Steele says,

“There are no miracles. There is only discipline.

As for me, this year turned out decent. Resolutions you ask? Just one. Be a better person than yesterday, holistically. That covers attitude, health, wealth etc right?

Happy 2020. Fancy number there, let’s make it a year to remember! Nicely.

Posted in close to heart

The Beginning

It rained the night before I was born. Not unusual, given the month, but unexpected. The otherwise depleted nursing home was swarming with people coming in just to take cover from the pluvious rain. Amma must have screamed and cried, quiet likely the only emotion she had when concerning me. I had cried too, for I didn’t want to be here. Nope.

The doctor who managed to get me out, checked for abnormalities and clearly missing the signs of an emotional breakdown, went ahead and gave me a clean chit. Then, they cleaned me and handed me over to my mother’s mother. It was she who first held me. I remember my grandmother mentioning years later that the doctor came out and said to her that my mother had indeed delivered a doll for her to play with. Indeed.

Taking one look at my not so straight bush of hair and definitely not so red cheeks and the lower half of my body wrapped in a not so clean towel, she’d prayed that my father wouldn’t be too unhappy. The child being a girl. Das was too high on  joy and the packs of Charminar cigarettes he had managed to smoke away while amma was pushing me out.  He couldn’t have cared less. He was a father, once again! The elder one being a boy was more than enough for him. After all the boy would take care of all his needs when he grows up. What was the use of two boys anyway? Men, sigh! Malayali men, sigh sigh!

Before handing me over to him, my grandmother gave me a kiss and I’d woken up to cry in protest. Through his sleep deprived eyes, Das held me, uncomfortably and awkwardly. He looked around and called out to my brother. My brother who cared a damn, was visibly annoyed because he hadn’t slept last night, thanks to the mosquitoes in the Ambassador, buzzing all around him and more so because he thought that all the attention his mother and grandmother had showered on him would now be directed to this thing. He thought. Stupid.

I was constantly being moved from one pair of hand to another and I’d stopped crying because I was tired of crying- yes, even then. Amma was the only one left to hold me and when she did, I’d realize that maybe she hadn’t wanted me born either. After all, maybe she knew already that the risk she took wasn’t worth it. Maybe.

I hoped it did. Eternally hopeful.

It was overwhelming and frightening because suddenly I could feel all that anger and hostility of everyone around and gathering every ounce of fear I had felt, I’d screamed, terrified.

How do I know all this?

It is the curse I am born with. I remember everything.

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Posted in close to heart, m@dness

If We Were Having a Cup of Tea

Imagine, a quaint cafe overlooking a busy road. It looks very posh from the outside, but regulars know that the place is anything but formal. Image result for cocoa tree kochiThe old timers will have so many stories about; the short and stout, cute looking chef with that cliched chef cap, walking to every table and asking about the dish they were having; of college and school goers taking a pause near the entrance to whiff that familiar, sweet smell of freshly baked cakes and brownies; of young lovers sneaking into the farthest corners of the cafe to whisper sweet nothings into each other’s ears or just to cuddle; of the bunch of usual supercilious snobs who act all hoity toity; the first timers who would just explore the cafe, nibble at something, pay and leave; of the other set of unusually usual, regular bunch of them who always sit at their favorite tables ordering the same “seafood pie”, “Mississippi Mud Pie”, thin “chocolate excess shake” lemonade and of the girl who hated coffee but still sipped on “Irish Coffee” whenever she visited.

Now, if we were there having a cup of tea there,

I’d tell you that…..

….I cut my hair short. Really short. I didn’t like it but I am sure it will grow back. Soon, hopefully.

….I am on this No Carbs diet since 2 weeks and the weighing scale has been kind to me. I may not look different, but I do feel some change 🙂

….I want to go back to cycling. I want to cycle like how I used to 18 years ago. What fun it used to be on our Ladybird cycles.

….I need to be more healthy. I want to. Health issues with people in my office and with people I know have got me panicking like crazy. I plan to get a complete health check up done soon but am postponing it because am bloody scared!

….Ami likes going to school on some days and on some days she hated her uniform. Most days we stick to the morning rituals, but there are days when I cry to work too because she wants me to stay back and spend the day with her and Cookie.

….slowly but steadily, am reading books. I was a bit fascinated and was pulled towards the world of Netflix and Amazon Prime, but managed to push that to weekends and do more reading on weekdays 🙂 Pat on the back for that.

….I am having a lot of dreams these days. About people who used to be a part of my life long back; about places I have been to but cannot recall; about Tango and random lines!

….this very special girl I know who will be getting engaged very soon to a boy, who also I know. I cannot express how happy I am because I know these 2 are made for each other and they will be soo happy together!

…..Ami amazes me every day, with all her questions, all these retorts she conjures up, all the things she soaks up from her day-to-day life. It feels like just yesterday when she was a tiny, mewling, always feeding baby. She’s now a little girl, ready to go out into the world. Will I ever get used to just how fast she’s growing?

…. Cookie freaks Tango! She has this ability to scare Tango. I am sure he prays that Cookie never gets bored because if she does, then he is her toy. Oh, the things the poor dog has to go through for her entertainment! God help him!

…..I am taking back the control of my house from the maid. She is on a 45 day break to cater to her daughter’s wedding and although I found it difficult to come back home and cook and wake up early and cook and all that, I have managed to survive and realized that I do not want to be dependent on someone else to run my house. I really have mastered the art of Work Life Jenga!

…I am actually lecturing people about doing whatever makes them happy. As long as nobody else has to pay for it in terms of money or emotions, I think people should just go for it.

….I miss having someone to talk to, rant, abuse etc. On a daily basis, life gets to you and you know that acquaintances aren’t friends. People I used to spend life with are busy with lives of their own and I honestly do not have time to find new ones and I do not want to. I wish I could go

and I’d ask you about how are you doing in Life lately? Are you fine? Happy? Surviving?

I’d also tell you that I miss having someone to talk to, rant, abuse etc. On a daily basis, life gets to you and you know that acquaintances aren’t friends. People I used to spend life with are busy with lives of their own and I honestly do not have time to find new ones and I do not want to. I wish I could go back to that quaint cafe and hang out with the unusually usual regular group and sip on some Irish Coffee.

A cup of Tea…shall we?

Image result for friends+cup of tea

Posted in close to heart, RoMa Chronicles

As you begin school!

My little one, suddenly you aren’t so little anymore! Today is one of those days when I silently cried on my way to work. It is an overwhelming feeling to send your kid to school. Accomplishment and heartbreak, all at once. Both Ro and I can still picture the day we first held Ami in our hands. With her, it really was the first of many things! So many things. Image result for mom sending kids to school illustration

4 years later, as she is off to school; dressed in a uniform and swinging her bag, I can only pray that she gives it the best shot and realises that learning is a continuous process. In the next decade, as they progress from school to college and transform into independent, bold and strong beautiful women, I hope they learn;

To accept failure with grace, compete in a healthy manner and win without bragging.

To realise that disappointments are fleeting, just like triumphs. “This too shall pass” can get you out of just about anything. Nobody really keeps track of these things, although it may seem that everyone is interested in your life, it isn’t so. (Hoping that FB conks out by then!)

To never underestimate the power of “Thank You”, “Please” and “Sorry”. Whether it is the security, waiter or a maid, thank you is you way of acknowledging the effort they have made to make a moment of your life, simpler. When you say please, you are asking for help and people will remember you for your humility. Sorry is a way of telling people that you apologise for an act or behaviour and you want to be forgiven because you consider that relationship important.

To be kind to people. Young or old; rich or poor; tall or short; just be kind.

To accept that life is mostly unfair! Some people are born lucky, some have to work hard for everything they want. However, hardwork will pay off eventually and when it does, there will be nothing like that sense of achievement. Believe me dear, I have been there done that and proud of everything I have achieved, till date.

To know what you want in life, be it a toy, food or clothes. Have enough to keep you grounded and going , but not spoilt for choice.

To stick to a decision once it is taken. Be responsible for your thoughts, words and action. Once you have decided and made a choice, don’t waver.

To appreciate even the little, most insignificant things in life- be it a small, pretty flower; a fine tune; unexpected rain; hot tea or a good night’s sleep!

To be mildly curious about the world and to be wise enough to understand the thin line between being curious and being inquisitive!

To read. What a world that is!

To be courageous when sick, work towards being healthy every day and be grateful for the healthy life!

To treat all living beings with respect.

To spot superficiality and artifice from miles away and spend time with people and things are truly authentic and genuine.

After all this, I hope I have the sense to discern that their success is not my ego’s accessory, and I am not Super Mom. I will try my best to raise them the way I can, irrespective of what they will turn out to be, I hope that they will be remembered as good human beings!

First Day of School

I wonder what you’re doing right now
and if everyone is treating you kind.
I hope there is a special person,
a nice friend that you can find.

I wonder if the teacher know just
how special you are to me.
And if the brightness of your heart
is something she can see.

I wonder if you are thinking about
me and if you need a hug.
I already miss the sound of your voice
and how you give my leg a tug.

I wonder if you could possibly understand
how hard it is for me to let you grow.
On this day know that my heart breaks,
for this is the first step in letting my baby go.

-Wendy Silva

P.S– Ami did not cry or have any teary eyed puppy face when I dropped her at school. I was the one trying hard to show her that I was made of steel! She did squeeze my hand tightly when I let her go…..

Posted in close to heart, m@dness

A Place Called Home

“What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.”
― Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I stand in front of a structure that used to be my home. It is also the only home I ever had and will have. A million memories come flooding in and I swallow hard so that the people with me do not ask me the reason for my muddled eyes. I do not want to let them into those memories, it is all mine. I walked into “Lotus” the first time, when I was 4 years old. It was summer of 1990 and I was the brat who was running around the house, climbing walls and trees like a monkey. The house was pink in colour back then, living up to it’s name quiet well. There were coconut trees, a mango tree and a rose apple tree and I remember trying to learn to climb the coconut tree and falling and failing hard. The porch used to have a hammock which would be the bedroom when playing “house-house”. The sit out was where amma and ammuma would wait for me to return from school. That’s a post for another day.

I stand in the middle of the room we used to call “drawing room” and trace my finger across the cracks and creases that adorn the walls now. Everything about the house is old now; the walls, the structure, he furniture, the paint, the people and the memories.  In all honesty, I have come to say goodbye to the house and wander amongst the multiple corridors and rooms one last time. The house, with its stark rooms, cleared of all furniture, like a widow who has been stripped off of her finery. I stop as though I heard the hushed conversations of tiny girls. Nah, it was my mind taking me back to the times that my girl gang and I played “dark room”, “house-house  and dressed up Barbie dolls.  From school to college, I don’t think I have a single friend who hasn’t been to my house and cozied up to its warmth like it was their own.

This aged house and its walls, doors and windows have seeped my laughter and tears,  dreams and sorrows; the very fabric of my being. As I tread around, I can almost hear snatches of conversation, peals of laughter. I can almost smell wafts of familiar scents and feel the non-existent furniture; the swing in the pooja room, the easy chair, the sofa set older than me, the hallway whose high beam were filled with books, as though my senses are conspiring, pleading, to will the house, to come alive again.

Nooks and corners of the house stick themselves on to the collage of my memory. The back verandah or “work area” that had 3 doors; “ammini’s bathroom” that had a major role in the conversations that the brother and I had; the stand at the corner of the dining room which held the blue colour tape-recorder on which we used to record songs that we all sung, the IBM washing machine that used to run around,  the double bedroom with the barely noticeable bathroom and the pooja room, which was bursting at the seams with cupboards, suitcases, the easy chair, inverter and all sorts of odds and ends; so that the beds looked like an afterthought. It would seem that each of us; Achan, my brother and I, had left a bit of ourselves there.

The walls of this house have soaked up my laughter and tears, my dreams and fears; held my secrets and the very essence of my childhood. You are special to me and will always be the only place I call home. for within your four walls I will always be a child. You will never know me as an adult. For you, I will always be the tomboy swinging on the gates without a care in the world.

A house is brick and mortar and everything else that goes into its making, but it is also something a lot more. A little like how we are not just our physical body and features, we are also the sum of our thoughts and dreams, our memories and scars. Now, as I walk in and out of the rooms, I imagine the spirit of the house leaving it. I step out to lock the door and hand the keys over. I take a sideward glance as though the cage that was once home to over 30 lovebirds is still there.

As I walk down the lane, barely being able to see a thing, I begin to accept that a moment can mean a thousand different things; indelible impressions can be left on people and places  and I suddenly understand the innate depth of a memory. I know I can’t stop time. I can’t capture light. But I know I would love to delve deeper into my treasure chest of memories.Maybe someday that which we lost to time, will come back to us and remind us of a forgotten past and gift us a smile or a tear maybe.

Home is where the heart is was..



Posted in close to heart, The Chronicles of A

Gender Inequality Is In Our Head!

My elder one, Ami is turning 4 in a few months and she is one of those Curious George types.  She has to ask at least 50 questions a day and since she is learning to talk in English, it is mostly why, what and how questions. This morning I was teaching her about Gender- Well, Boys and Girls, Male and Female to be precise. Here is a gist of the conversation and then I’ll get to my point:

Me: Ami, Amma(Mother), Ammuma (Grandmother), Suma(Aunt) are all girls or females.

Ami: Okay.

Me: And Acha(Father), Appoopa(Grandfather) and Kochacha are boys, males.

Ami: Ok Amma. So all boys are males and girls are females.

Me: Yes. Yay! High Five!

Ami: But Amma who is a girl? And who is a boy?

Me: Huh. Hmmm Girls have long hair and all that and boys are rough and have short hair.

Ami: Oh! But I am rough and have short hair. SO I am a boy eh?

Me: <Gupling> No Ami. You are a girl and so is Cookie. Let me think and give you an answer to who is a girl and who is a boy ok?

Ami: Ok Amma


Image result for gender stereotypes

She turned back to playing and I was left thinking about the idea we have in our heads about males and females. Why did I say that girls have long hair when I am thinking of chopping away my mane? How can I say boys are rough and tough with short hair when our Babita Kumari and Kiran Bedi are proving us all wrong. That’s when I realised that gender differences and indifference are within us, in our head. It is on us parents to teach our future generation the actual difference instead of just passing on the adage of what has been drilled into our head. Pink for girls, blue for boys. Boys play with cars and trucks, girls play with dolls and brush!And all this blah blah about women representation and reservations need to be shut down!

I was bought up by my dad who donned the role of a mother, just like that. He learnt to cook, tie my hair, listen to girl talk, answer teen queries and every other thing that a mother is “supposed” to do. And me? I used to run around in shorts and tshirts and play with boys, climb trees, ride cycles and do everything except pee on the road! Then why did I reply in that manner to Ami?

It must be the stereotypes that are drilled into our brain from the time we are born. No matter what we do, or where we go or how we are raised, these stereotypes will tag along. And it is not just the information passed on from one generation the other, it’s not just one movie, it’s not just one TV show, it’s constant exposure to the same outdated concepts in the media over and over, starting before preschool and lasting a lifetime! Unfortunately,  gender stereotypes in movies and on TV shows are more than persistent; they’re incredibly effective at teaching kids what the culture expects of boys and girls. What makes these messages stick ,and harder for parents to counteract is that they’re timed for the precise moment in kids’ development when they’re most receptive to their influence. Think of preschoolers who are just beginning to identify as boys or girls. The characters they see on TV and in movies often have an obvious masculine or feminine appearance, such as a superhero’s big muscles(Little Singham, Johny Bravo) or a princess’ (Rapunzel, Anna, Elsa)long hair. These characteristics also are often associated with specific traits.For young audiences who absorb ideas from the media on how to behave and what to become, these characterizations can lead to false assumptions and harmful conclusions.

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Now, kids have this amazing, natural ability to see the world as limitless, but when adults signal that certain things or behaviors are off limits for kids based on their gender, their worlds get smaller and smaller—and that’s not just sad, it can be damaging as well. Obviously, every parent has the best intentions, but sometimes it’s possible to unknowingly promote stereotypes that can fence our children in. Its not just in India, but around the world as well. What is disheartening is to know that. although we have stepped into the 21st century and there are heated discussions about feminism and glass ceilings, there are still very consistent forms of patriarchy all around the world.

So what can I do or what can I say to my girls so that they don’t get caved in and caught up in this ever rolling ball?

Well, at least for the sake of my girls, I’m going to look at it as a window of opportunity to really address these attitudes and beliefs before they become cemented later on. How?

  • There is NO boy toy and girl toy. Girls want to play with a car, so be it!
  • Football and hockey isn’t just played by boys. Go, play!
  • Pink is not just for girls and blue isn’t just for boys.
  • Show my girls the people who have broken stereotypes and marched ahead.
  • Choose books wisely.
  • Chores of the house are divided equally. There is no such thing as a job that acha does or amma does.

We just seem to think of gender as a binary function when we are all non-binary. The age old saying of let boys be boys and girls be girls must really be questioned. And so, off I go to tell little Ami that if you pee on the road, then you are a boy!

Wink Wink.

Someday soon… Hopefully

Image result for breaking gender stereotypes






Posted in close to heart, The Chronicles of A

Going from One to Two

One of my closest friends is pregnant with her third and another one I know is pregnant with her first. The former can’t remember what month she is on and the latter knows the week and date to the t. And me? Well, I am going from one to two and boy the difference is night and day. I know many articles and blogs have been written about the difference between first and second pregnancies and I will not talk about whats there. This one is for what it has been for me.

Before I start, Ami, my girl, you will always be special. It is not just because you are my first born but because you were my teacher, the reason for me having so many of my “first” and “aha” moments. For teaching me that unconditional love is the purest form of love.

There is something about the first time that is just sort of magical. With us, it was just Ami and me. When Ami was born, I didn’t shed a tear because I was happy to see my friend of nine months finally in my hands! I was filled with an anticipation that will likely remain unmatched for the rest of my life. At every step of those nine months, I knew what week I was at, what fruit size the baby was in my tummy, what were those measurements on the scan report, what to eat, what to avoid, what made the baby uncomfortable, when was the baby most active etc. I would write down the changes each month, make a number of checklists, list of baby names from month 2, had a hospital bag ready by 7th month, thought about what dresses to buy, what to wear and my the list can go on! To cut the long story short, I was too occupied and happy and excited to think about anything else but my baby.

This time, its different. I wouldnt say it is a bad thing but things are very different. From announcing my pregnancy to getting that hospital ready, everything has changed. I have become paranoid! No, I’m certainly not worried about what fruit size my baby is or what week I am on or what my baby is feeling or doing. I am on 33 weeks and I haven’t done any shopping. I haven’t decided a name, I havent thought about anything at all! Checklist you ask? The only checklist I have are all work related! At this pointI’d like to say to you Baby 2, that its not because I dont love you already, it is because I am too worried about your well being! Now, because I know what its like and have been there done that, I know the risks, I know the signs, I know its not a cakewalk. Remember though, that I am like this because I love you to bits already.

Last evening, I spoke with my mommy-of-2 friend because I had to speak to someone who had the experience. I wanted to ensure that I was normal! I have been thinking about what would happen to my family if something was to happen to me? What if something went wrong with me? What is the husband going to do with a 3 year old and a new born and a dog! I mean, he cannot even take care of himself for a day without goofing up! I had never really thought of dying and have never been afraid except for now. The thought had began to affect my sleep, my work and my whole life. I would on some days look at AMi playing and silently shed a tear. My friend said its okay. It happens and its perfectly fine!

This morning, as I woke up and made tea, I realised that even if I didn’t consider myself of any value, those few human beings certainly needed me around. I suddenly felt very wanted. My fears seem to slowly fade away. Today, I live.

So, my advice to the moms going from one to two, take it slow. One day at a time. To feel scared is normal. It just shows you care too much for those human beings that need you. To the first time moms, enjoy while it lasts! Savor every moment, cherish every kick and nibble. This one is special.

See you after I go from one to two 🙂

To my Two,

I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my babies you’ll be.