I can never thank you enough for being you…

On June 3, I read this on Pepper’s blog and I could not stop myself from commenting. When I used to be an “active blogger,” I followed a lot of bloggers — all of whom I still do; only, I’ve stopped commenting on their blogs — because I sometimes read posts in bits and pieces and most times, I cannot comment because of lack of time or connectivity or some such. And, I definitely do not want to be accused of commenting only some blogs and not all ;) ;) ;) So, I generally lurk, read and slip away. Pepper’s post about the heat/humidity and the AC and her mom — I don’t know why it tugged at some corner of my heart, but it did. I commented and told her to give her mom a tight hug from me and tell her I would worship her :)

I don’t know why it touched me so much. Could be because my mom was here…and I was having an awesome “mommy time” with her :) Just the two of us — for the first time. I don’t remember ever having spent such days together — just her and me. The brother or father was always there :)

Well, she’d been worried sick about me since the time I moved house :D Every time I got on the phone with her, she would tell me that she was always busy till about 11.30 every night — and by then she’d know I’d be fast asleep…and that each night, after 11.30, she would sit and think of me living alone and worry about me for half an hour :D I thought that was funny; she did not think so.  So, she’d taken a vacation and come to spend 10 days with me.

When she came, she was recovering from a fever and wasn’t in the best of her spirits. And I was a little worried — because she seemed to have aged drastically, in the past 4 months that I had not seen her. And she was walking really slowly — which reminded me of my grandmom :( She looked at least 10 years older, and I told her that. Worried, close to being alarmed, I told her she needs to rest more, eat healthy and take good care of self. She kept telling me it was the fever hangover. Two days, I remained worried. She was not her usual self. I was glad I’d decided to take two full days off from work. Normally, when she is in the house, no matter which house it is, she takes over kitchen :) This time, I did not let that happen. I cooked, made her tea now and then, told her stories, had serious discussions, shared fun stories , and generally gave her rest.

The third day, on a Saturday, she recovered fully. The first thing she did was to walk quickly up and down my living room some 5 times to show me she is not old :D :D

And then we had a great time for the rest of her visit. Well, we did not budge from the house :D She did not want to go anywhere. So I joined back at work on Tuesday, and remained busy till 8 p.m. all those days. Thankfully, the work days were not as crazy as they normally are. So, we had pointless fun discussions, poignant serious ones and had much fun.

I taught her easy-to-make “rice items” — jeera rice, tomato rice, puliyodharai, lemon rice, etc — and she experimented with one each for each meal. Thrilled at how easy each was to make, she took copious notes of each one’s recipe and preparation methods. And then she called up my dad who’s been making his own meals — and for lil’ Bruce and my brother. I watched as she animatedly explained to dad how these were all easy-to-make but tasty recipes :D Well, if I never knew it till now, now I know where I get my “animated persona” from :P  I also realised where I’d inherited the palm-on-cheek “ouch” pose from :P

I had grand plans of taking her for a drive and showing off my new-found skills ;) But none of that happened. Since, I did not want her freaking out much, I had thought it’d be best to take her for a drive after the traffic died slightly. Which would only be after 9.30 where I live. Only,  the rain gods had their own plans. It rained torrentially all those evenings :)

While Pumbaa and I jumped around in joy at the torrential thunderstorms, Mom sat and comforted the scared Khloe. While I WhatsApp-ed and checked mail and chatted with folks on phone, she went about silently, dusting every nook and corner of the house. On work days, while I spent most of my time staring at my laptop, Mom cooked me yummy meals and put the house in order. While I was on calls, she peeled and sliced my favourite mangoes and “delivered” it in bowls right next to my laptop so I did not have to budge. While I stepped out one evening to meet a friend for a while, she sat in the balcony looking out for me.  While I played around with Pumbaa and Khloe, she folded all my clothes.

Needless to say, I did not notice any of these things till she was all packed and ready to leave. On the day of her return, with only 2 minutes to leave the house, she realised she hadn’t folded my clothes from the previous day’s laundry and looked at me with a most devastated expression, saying “Aiyooooo! Molde thuniyonnnum madakkeela! Sorry!”, with her signature palm-on-cheek pose! I was stunned! I had never even expected it to be done. And that’s when I realised that the folded clothes I’d been dumping into my cupboard each day was not the work of a laundry angel, but my Mom’s doing. That’s when I noticed the second bedroom looking spic and span. That’s when I noticed all the dust gone from everywhere. That’s when I noticed that my bed was made. That’s when I noticed that the past few days had been SO FULL OF LIFE.

At her apology for not folding my clothes, I told her she is a “chakkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkara, sooo cute you are!” and her eyes shone happily — and I was glad to see that she definitely did not look even a year older, forget 10 :)

Today morning, I still could remember vividly her expression when she said sorry for not folding my clothes. And for the first time in my life, I thought to myself, “I guess one needs to be a mother to be able to be like that…” Well, I don’t think I have it in me to be anything like mine! In fact, I have already reseerved truckloads of sympathy for my “someday” children :D

It’s just been a day since she left — and it feels like forever. I miss her sooooo bad, I wish she either did not come, or I’d gone with her back to Trivandrum! And I sooooo envy my brother for being able to live in the same house as she, even now :-| I think I must crib about being “lonely” now onward, so she’d come over more often ;)  And the next time she comes, I should get my dad and Bruce to come too — so she would not be in any hurry to return :)

Amma, I love you so much, and I can never thank you enough for being you — so awesome! :)

All on my own! :)

It was on 3 November 2012 that I passed my driving test and was branded a legal driver! A month later, I got the DL as well. And then, just twice I got behind the wheel, the husband in tow — once with the dear friend, Queen of Subtlety; once just good self. The first time, husband said he is at peace when she is driving, but I give him the jitters. After the second time, he refused to sit with me anymore. Apparently, he just could not muster the courage to sit with me :( He said I was free to take the car out by myself and go (like I needed his permission for that, pffft!). I joked that I would do just that and if I hit someone, I would give him a call. He said “Don’t call me!” Bah!

And that was when my confidence and hopes of driving the car my myself found their way slowly into the drains of Koramangala! Many months passed. I continued taking the bus and the auto, when not riding pillion or sitting on the left front seat. Every time I opened the wallet, I would see my DL. I’d think of how my mom also has an over 30-year old DL sweetly sitting in her wallet. began considering getting mine framed and hanging it on the wall!

And then, I moved house. Husband left the country to pursue studies. I was on my own. With two little kids :) And THAT is when it began hitting me. I felt handicapped. Everything was becoming difficult. And it freaked me out that if something were to suddenly happen to Pumbaa or Khloe, there was no guarantee that I’d be able to get them help as quickly as they may need it. I’d have to depend on autos and in this country, no one cares for animals and their lives :) Several people promised to come sit with me and help me practice. But no one ever found the time. And truth be told, I myself wasn’t confident.

Every morning, I’d get ready for work, leave the building, cross the road and wait for an auto — and I’d look straight and see my car in the parking lot. The frustration then, aaarrghh! Once every 2-3 days, I’d start the car, move it a bit, reverse it back into position and go back home. Just so the engine doesn’t forget it has the capability to come to life and move! As each day passed, I was itching more and more to just take the car and drive off.

On April 12, Saturday, the dearest friend finally took pity on me and accompanied me on a driving practice session. When I said I have not driven in a year and 4 months, I could see the :-o in the eyes and a “GULP” go down the throat :D We went on to NICE Road, from where I took the car and drove to Electronic City. We were hitting Bommanahalli and I was warned it could be bad. I expected mad traffic and madder people crossing the roads like it’s their courtyard. What I did NOT expect was to get bang in the middle of a MAJOR traffic jam :D Well, one had to get out of it, and I did. And then I drove all the way back to J.P Nagar, took the car into the apartment complex and parked it. Exhilaration like HOW!

Of course, I wasn’t perfect. My sense of judgement of the width of the vehicle…especially on the left side was not too great, and I had trouble stopping the vehicle from rolling back on a slope and not realizing/reacting quickly enough to hit the brakes. But I had a strange sense of calm, of not getting worked up and scared and unsure on the road. That surprised me! I expected to get unnerved and go blink blink in the middle of the road. I was extremely worried that my friend would be hanging on to dear life and being immensely uncomfortable — but apparently, that was not the case either. Hmmm, not bad, I thought. For someone getting behind the wheel after nearly a year and half, I did a decent job. We planned to practice the next day too, so I could address me ‘areas of improvement’ and start driving to work from Monday.

Plans are also meant to be broken. Practice session wasn’t happening. But I was not willing to lose that tempo and all that confidence again.

On Sunday, I woke up, made up my mind, took the car and drove off! Just me and the car. I started off from J.P. Nagar 7th Phase and went all the way to Koramangala — through the crazy main roads and via Silk Board (if you know Bangalore, you’d know how crazy Silk Board can get) — and came back home. No casualties, no scratches, no traffic holdups, no getting yelled at, absolutely no glitches.

And all the while, I could NOT believe I was driving on real roads (read scary Bangalore roads) all by myself. With no one to depend on. No one to support me if I were to get into a mess. And every once a while, I’d have a smile on my face and loudly go “YAY, I’m driving!” I got a few odd looks from people on the road — but what the hell. I was too happy to not go YAY.

I was BEAMING as I walked back home. Reached home, thanked my friend profusely for sparing those few hours the previous day (darling, you have NO IDEA how grateful I am to you, eternally so!), and then called my parents to tell them. Hehe. They were shocked. My mom of course did not believe I did something like that. My dad was thrilled and super proud of me. My brother was thrilled too. I was, of course, on Cloud 29 :D  Late evening, i again took the car out, to experience “night driving.” Starting Monday, I began driving to work. Yay.

AND.

I also took Pumbaa and Khloe in the car, ALL BY MYSELF, to a pet stay before going on a team trip the past weekend. All you people who told me it is ‘difficult, dangerous and impossible to drive with two dogs by yourself’ — ha! You all told me “someday when you have to do it, you’ll know what we mean” — I did it, as a mere 6-day old driver, and I STILL do NOT see what you ever meant. Always know that if you throw a challenge at me, it’ll be taken (even if a little late)! :P

I am at peace now. I can drive.

The pitter-patter of love

These days, I barely get time to myself. I shifted house recently, and there are so many pending chores, which I must get done but don’t find the time for, I’m beginning to get really annoyed at myself! It’s not easy; in fact, it borders on frustration most times.

And as if that was not enough, since the day I moved, everything seemed to go wrong for no reason. Mobile phone stops working. Then washing machine stops working. Then Wi-fi stops working. Then fixed-line stops working. And I call one customer care after the other, but no one comes until it’s too late and I absolutely need to get to office. Then bank transactions become a problem because mobile number changed. Everything takes over a week or two to get fixed, and I end up having to be immensely dependent on others who have better things to do in life than make customer-care calls on my behalf. NOT to my liking. At all.

And when there is so much work that I am ending up staying more at office than at home, all this gets tougher to deal with. Especially so, when I know there are two tiny tots all alone at home, all day, waiting for my return.

The past two weeks, especially, have been extremely tough. With an official travel thrown in too, at short notice. I’ve been coming home really late. And then staying up later, ending up heavily sleep deprived. Most nights when I reach home, I’m so dead tired that I’m scared to even lean against the walls of the elevator, lest I fall asleep there :P

And every single day, I walk out of the lift, into the corridor, towards my door — and I desperately wish I had someone to come home to. Well, ok…not just “someone”, but my mom (which would mean “food, laughter and comfort” readily available).

It’s about 20 steps, from the lift to my door. In that short span, I wonder why I’m doing this, why things could not be different, why I can’t just quit and go home to good old Trivandrum, why the hell there is so much work, how the hell I’m to find time for personal chores, how life is so devoid of joy, how I’m tired and do not have the energy to cook and clean up, how all I want to do is just make a beeline to my bed and crash…

This is about the time I reach my door, pull out the key, insert it into the lock…and invariably shake my head at the HUGE smile that’s on my just-a-micro-second-ago-grumpy-and-tired face.

Because I hear the pitter-patter of love, from the other side of the door, as Pumbaa and Khloe jump off the sofa and run to the door to welcome me home.

As I get in, it is a mad rush of Pumbaa welcoming me by jumping all over me and then skidding across the living room, grabbing his toy and rushing back at me…and Khloe continuing to jump all over me till I pet her enough.

Fatigue, annoyance, despair, sleep: everything’s taken care of! I’m a happy soul again. I play with him, I cook their food, fix something for self, I feed them, I clean up, I play with him some more. And then, I hug them both tight and apologize for being away too long, and thank them both for the understanding, the patience and the unconditional love.

It’s this pitter-patter of love that keeps me going. I don’t know what I’d do without it.

Image

Pumbaa and Khloe, back on the sofa, 5 mins after I sternly told them it is off limits. Sigh. Well, they let me cover it at least. :)

After 8 long years…

…after several instances of misgivings

…after wishing I’d not let interruptions stop me

…after cursing self for giving it up

…after agonizing over having lost it forever

…after realising there is no more the confidence that once came so naturally

…after many days of thinking and re-thinking

…after one trial that was not good, and another that was barely satisfactory

…it happened.

Once again, I got on stage. As part of the office band. And sang! This and this :) 

I will not comment on how I could have done a LOT better.
I will not comment on how one was way better than the other.
I will not comment on the pathetic sound system or the wrong pitch (which spoiled one) :D

I will just say I felt on top of the world!
People who gave me the opportunity — the ALKMS Band — I’m eternally grateful! Thank you! :)

My first ever ‘Karwa Chauth’

Yes, I admit — like I’ve admitted in this space many times in the past — I’m a true blue Malayali, and happily so. I love the yummy “Mallu food” as it is popularly called, I love Malayalam movies and songs, I love going to Kerala, and I love hearing someone talk in Malayalam around me when I’m out of Kerala. I love my Onams and my Vishus and my Thrissur Poorams and my Sree Padmanbha’s Arattu and my Pongalas (well, that one, not so much).

So, it should be no surprise to any of you that I had no idea about Karwa Chauth whatsoever. Well, that’s not entirely true. I’ve seen it in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Ishq Vishk and DDLJ (in that order), and never thought much of it. Those days, I was a happy, single girl and I dismissed it as something only married ‘aunties’ do (besides love-struck girls in Hindi movies). Plus, it was a North Indian ‘thing’ I had no clue about. Not to mention the fact that where Hindi is concerned, I’m like “bhaiyon aur behno…chor machaaye shor. chorine pidikal hamara kaam hey…hoom…hai”! All I knew was that Karwa Chauth had something to do with going hungry all day, cribbing about irresponsible husbands/husbands-to-be and staying up on the terrace all night, looking at the full moon like it is a blue-moon night :D Why, in fact, it was quite recently that I realised the word is actually Karwa Chauth and not Karwa Chatth — what with everyone doing something on the terrace and all that.

So well, when a friend said she was looking for a young married girl to share her views on Karwa Chauth and identified me as a prospect, I almost gagged. Had she not heard her sister’s favourite phrase “Know your audience, honey!” enough times already!? That’s when she rephrased the request and made it sound like it could also be a “fresher’s view” on Karwa Chauth. Had nothing to  counter that one!

So here I am. Writing an authentic piece on ‘My first ever Karwa Chauth’. Discovering this tradition and the romance associated with it. Using technology to walk me through the rituals and some amazing mehendi designs. And likely to actually celebrate it on a 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm screen, where I will be able to stalk the moon to the hour, minute and second of its rising, look at it through a 13MP camera that magically transforms into a “chalni“, and snoop around on the Moon for a shiny gift that is ‘Pure Jewellery. Pure Joy’. However, one must hope the husband volunteers to be the next Neil Armstrong because he will need to first find a spot on the Moon to dig one tiny hole to bury the gift along with a love note — written or spoken!

Right. Before you think I’ve moved from fluent Malayalam to broken Hindi to absolute Greek and Latin, let me clarify what I’m talking about.

Imagine Karwa Chauth. Reminisce on the family get-togethers. Go daft about the glittery attires and the mehendi-laden hands. Smack your lips at the thought of some awesome food at the end of a long hungry day! Agonise over how today’s busy schedules leave you with no time to follow rituals. Pity the daughters who will perhaps never know the joy that Karwa Chauth was in your younger days. Lean on the pile of nostalgia, and let out a long, deep sigh. Then, pull out your mobile phone.

Relive tradition through an app. Celebrate it on an Android. Gaze at the Moon, and then at your husband, through a megapixel sieve! Imagine that the Moon holds a treasure in one of its many craters, and your husband has the secret key to the treasure chest. Enjoy treasure hunts where he sends you hints through SMS. Romance him till he can no longer hold it from you. Walk with him, hand in hand, excavating the Moon till you find your special gift.

Thank Tanishq. For giving you the joy of having Karwa Chauth in the palms of your hands through this appImage

Thought I was just a ‘sample’ to review an app, I enjoyed the experience. I learnt that the sieve is called a chalni. I am enlightened to the fact that the Sasumaa is this amazing person who will send you an elaborate pre-dawn Karwa Chauth meal, and top it with gifts! I realise that fasting from the break of dawn, without eating anything till dusk falls, has some advantages — like not having to do any household work :D That ‘baya’ is a gift given to your mother-in-law or sister-in-law by you or your mother, and that it’s perhaps the ONLY day when the wives (at least by this country’s tradition) get to eat before their husbands, and that too, by being fed by them! :D However, the best part for most would be the Tanishq gallery the app gives access to, if you’re a jewellery lover!

So what are you waiting for? Karwa Chauth is almost around the corner.
Have some “app“ening fun and be over the Moon! :)

A Labrador and a Beagle under the same roof

In case you didn’t notice, there are two new pages on this blog now — one for Khloe and one for Pumbaa and Khloe — and of course, the evergreen one for Pumbaa. :D

This post is JUSTLY for all those people who melt into puddles when it is to do with dogs, and Pumbaa in general. Oh, or it that the other way around? :D

Yes, clearly, I have no time to blog, but I don’t want you to abandon this page :D Just because I’m not here. Pfffft!

Oh, and while i’m here, let me also say that this blog has successfully crossed 101,805 hits since…naah! No ‘since’. That doesn’t matter now, does it :P No, wait! Don’t try to find… Fine! Be that way.