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 😀 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 😀 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 😀 😀

And then we had a great time for the rest of her visit. Well, we did not budge from the house 😀 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 😀 Well, if I never knew it till now, now I know where I get my “animated persona” from 😛  I also realised where I’d inherited the palm-on-cheek “ouch” pose from 😛

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 😀

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! 🙂

Child Development, Nutrition and Inter-personal Relationships :)

The officer at the Driving License counter asked the lady “What is your occupation?” The woman seeking renewal of her license seemed to be puzzled. So the officer said “Ma’am, are you employed, have your own business or…….. The woman replied “Oh, yes!! I have a full time occupation. I am a mother.”

Officer: “We don’t have ‘mother’ as an option for occupation. I will write it down as ‘Housewife’. That takes care of all questions.”

This had happened long ago, and was forgotten. Years later when I went to get my license, the Public Relations Officer was a somewhat pompous woman. “Your occupation?” she asked in a rather authoritative tone.

I just had an inspiration and replied “I am a researcher in the field of Child Development, Nutrition and Inter-personal Relationships.” The lady officer stared at me in amazement. I calmly repeated my statement and she wrote it down verbatim. Then, unable to conceal her curiosity, she politely asked “What exactly do you do in your profession, Ma’am?”

I was feeling good about having described my occupation so calmly and confidently. So I replied “My research projects have been going on for a number of years (mothers never retire!!). My research is conducted in the laboratory as well as in the field. I have two bosses. (One is God and the other is my entire family). I have received two honours in this field (a son and a daughter). My topic is considered to be the most difficult part of sociology (all moms will agree!!). I have to work more than 14 hours every day. Sometimes even 24 hours are not enough and the challenges are tougher than many other professions. My compensation is in terms of mental satisfaction rather than money.”

I could see that the officer was thoroughly impressed. After completing the licensing formalities, she came to the door to see me off. This new viewpoint about my occupation made me feel much better on my way back home. I was welcomed by my 5 year old research assistant at the door. My new project (my 6 month old baby) was energetically practicing her ‘music’.

I had earned a small victory over the Governmental red tape today. I was no longer ‘merely a mother’, instead I was now a highly placed functionary in a service vital for mankind – Motherhood!!

‘Mother’ – Isn’t it a great title?

P.S.: Thanks for this forward, UmaS 🙂 I felt this was too fabulous to not share! Please, share this as much as you can, as widely as you can. No one will book you for plagiarism 😉

And to the “mother” who said all this: you are fabulous!

Onam…the king of festivals ;)

The oonjaal beside the athappookkalam 🙂

Ellaavarkkum ente hridayam niranja Onaashamsakal 🙂

Onam…the favourite festival of the Malayali 😀 Onakkodi, athapookkalam, oonjaal, pulikali, onathallu…and a grand sadya 😀

He's generally good humoured...wasn't served promptly at someplace, i guess! 😉

Onakkodi: It’s the most sought after part of every Onam — a new apparel! On a Thiruvonam day, every Keralite wears a new dress. The head of the family is supposed to gift onakkodis to all members of that family. Well, the head of mine gave none. So well, I bought it for myself 😛

Athappookkalam: For 10 days, every single house adorns a ‘flower-carpet’…to welcome Mahabali, the cute, pot-bellied cousin of Santa Claus (they look so similar; only, this guy has no white beard, doesn’t ride on reindeer-sledge nor says ‘ho’ ‘ho’ ‘ho’! 😀 ) Kids wake up early morning, go hunting for flowers and come back with a variety of them — this is the one time no one screams at one another for ‘stealing’ flowers! 😉 We didn’t make any — for lack of space (both in and outside our house) 😀

Oonjaal: Temporary swings are put up in the courtyard…and all the kids have a swinging time! There was no swing at my place…but well, I’ve been having one swing of a life lately, so no issues there!

D

Tiger tiger, burning bright!...a pulikali in progress 😀

Pulikali: This is the most fun of all…doesn’t the picture say it all? People (mostly kids) dress up as tigers/leopards and dance all the way…in the middle of the road 😉 (I feel I resemble a meerkat more — in both looks and behaviour — than a tiger…so, have never participated. Moreover, it’s just for guys 😀 )

Onathallu: This is a spoof on the whole concept of ‘sharing’…we just hit each other real hard and call it Onathallu, just for the heck of it. I’m more of a receiver than a giver 😉

And then…the sadya! Aaaah…the most satisfying part of the festival 😉

P

That's the top-view of my dining table. Am drooling at the sadya; granny wasted no time in just drooling, though! 😛

A full-course lunch, with banana chips, jaggery chips, pappads, a banana, 3 pickles, a ‘kichadi’, a ‘thoran’, an ‘olan’ an ‘aviyal’, a ‘koottucurry’, ‘parippu’, ‘sambar’, ‘pulissery’, ‘rasam’, ‘buttermilk’ and 3 varieties of payasam — all served in a plantain leaf! Now you know why Mahabali has a pot-belly 😉 I’v developed one too…now, dieting it away!

And oh yes! During Onam, a roughly 4-km stretch in Trivandrum is fully illuminated from 6.30 to 10…for 10 days. The crowd is amazing…and only increases by the year! I went for a walk with my brother “light kaanaan“…it was fun! I had a beautiful, fun-filled Onam. Here are a few pictures he clicked…

P.S.: It was Amma’s birthday on 12th! We walked into the kitchen at 12 a.m. to wish her and lo! She was chilling out — literally! She was almost inside the fridge…though I’ve no clue what she was thinking! A cool birthday? And when my brother and I sang “Happy birthday to you…” and “Santhosha janmadinam Ammakku…” in unison, she gave a start, wheeled around and stared at us. She then blinked thrice. Then her eyes lit up and with an “Oh…12th!”, she thanked us and graciously accepted our hugs, kisses and the gifts 🙂 Oh yes, shall convey each one of your wishes to her 😉

The 1993 Grand Slam…

the grand slam...only, it wasnt a racquet in hand, and my dad wasnt in white shorts 😀

…was served by my dad — and received first, by me somewhere on the back of my right thigh, and after approximately 3 seconds, by my brother at more or less the same spot on his 😀 !

It was some time in April 1993, during our summer holidays! We used to live in this awesome house set in the midst of 1.5 acres of white sand and lush greens…in the then little town of Guruvayur! I was 8 then (my brother, 11) — a naughty, impish girl who used to create havoc within the house all the time, and when thrown out, amidst my brother’s friends! 😀 .

We considered ourselves the luckiest among my cousins (who all lived either in crammed apartments in huge cities or in little rooms put together in 2 cents of land and called a ‘house’!) 😛 and I used to walk around singing praise of this beautiful house and the space around it.

All sorts of pranks, mischiefs and tomfoolery were allowed for by dad and mom. “Ee praayathil nalla akramam venam pillerkk”, they used to say (It’s the age when kids should be naughty). 😉 We used to dress up the poor cow in its own dung; we used to hide behind bushes and throw huge, but dead, Eveready batteries at poor Raman Nair, the old-man-with-bracket-legs, who used to look after the trees and the soil spread over 1.5 acres; we used to steal mom’s starched sarees from her cupboards and make tents with it (we thought she never knew!); we used to pack pepper leaves in small packets and throw it on the road, catching some poor betel chewer unawares! We used to go to the temple every morning just to get the yummy prasadam; we used to make mud-pies (i actually tasted one!) and serve our friends; we used to play lagorie/seven-stones (i used to get badly hit by the guys!); we used to catch thumbis and then guilt-ridden, let them go; we used to build tents and make dad inaugurate them, urge him to step in (every time, it would be too low for his height, too fragile and would collapse over his head) and blame him for the destruction; we used to frolic all the time in the wide, deep pond without the slightest fear — until I drowned once! But that was never an issue. I decided never to drown again…and we continued our swimming adventures 😀

Didn't quite have the time to notice dad's expression...but am damn sure it was something like this -- an evil grin mixed with surprise, anger and that just-up-from-sleep blankness!

The only thing NOT allowed: we were warned never to scream while dad was asleep. And that’s just what I did that day in April 1993. 😀

We were playing police and thief. When it was my turn to be thief, the ‘police’ came chasing and I ran for my life (and loot)! Went rushing into the kitchen from where mom shooed us out. The only place left for me to run into was my parent’s bedroom…and, forgetting the fact that dad was enjoying his after-lunch nap, I let out a blood-curdling scream and ran into his room. By the time I’d half-circled across his bed and reached the other side, he was up! The first thing he got in his hand was my grandfather’s walking stick.

I ran, he swung. The timings clicked. That aristocratic-looking smooth, 1-inch diametre stick kissed me — violently on the backside of my right thigh.

Silent. Breathless. Motionless.

Too late to realise, my brother pushed me ahead. Dad swung it high again. My brother found himself in exactly the same spot I had been approximately 3 seconds ago. The timings clicked again. Apparently, the stick was highly confused in matters of sexual interests! It kissed him too! 😀

Silent. Breathless. Motionless.

We both strode across the huge hall, entered our room, locked the door, went to our respective beds, pressed our face down into our pillows — and screamed in pain!

Some slam it was! Oh my god! I felt like I was a sheet of crumpled paper that had been floating around and suddenly settled down in a fire, flames licking at me with their rough tongues!

My dad never hit us ever again. In return for that favour, we never screamed while he slept. 😀

Now, tell me this — do you have a ‘hit’ story that can beat this one (no pun intended) ?

P.S.: In 1993, the Grand Slam was Steffi Graf’s too! The US Open, Wimbledon and French Open 😀

those smells…those songs…and…… those memories!

Ever wondered how the most inconspicuous things in life bring you memories that matter most? Like a smell that reminds you of a certain day or place…a song that pull you into a time machine and shoots you back into the past…a scene from an ad/film that reminds you of a similar day/situation in your life…i dont know how many of you experience this and how often…but i do…almost everyday, all the time! Sometimes i wonder if i have a future at all 😀 …i always seem to be flitting between the past and the present 😉 .

The other day, i heard the song “agar thum mil jaaye” from the film Zeher, i was so reminded of the concrete paving at the park where i used to spend time with 2 lovely friends of mine in Dombivali, Mumbai. We used to go there every evening around 6…and just sit there staring at stars, guys and the love-bit couples who always used to find seats behind the board that said ” ” (yes, you guessed right; it was in hindi, which I don’t really think i read right)…

Then there is the feeling of getting wet in the rain…no matter where I am, i’m always reminded of GOA, PVR and Krishh…that day we were at the beach–my bro, ma best friend and my sunshine–we had so much fun till it started pouring heavily, and we had to rush off to PVR for cover. Wet from head to toe, we sat inside that freezing theatre, watching the worst film ever made!

The sight of the “next” electronics store reminds me of a broken foot and 100s of Mumbai’s foot-over-bridge steps that i crossed with it!! Oh the fun we had that June!

Tin Tin comics remind me of an Alliance Francais classmate whom i hated!

Barista reminds me of a slapstick joke that made a friend spurt out a mouthful of coffee over the clean walls there!

Odonil reminds me of a long-back crush!!!

All films that have babies and adoring parents remind me of Amma and Achan…and i wanna go home…to kerala…trivandrum…ooooh…i so miss them…i soo love them too!!!

Best of all: there is this weird smell (not a stink)…i dont know how to describe it (wish i could attach it to this post)…know what it reminds me of?? hehehe…you wouldn’t guess! it reminds me so much of my playschool bathroom!!! Hahaha…no, i repeat this isnt a stink. It was this squeaky clean place (where i used to spend most of my time to stay away from ABCs and I23s…)

And posts like this reminds me of my Alzheimers…i dont know what i’m writing…i logged in to write something i really wanted to let you all know…but it’s totally slipped ma mind…am not in the best of ma senses, i guess…missing home beeeeeg time….sorry for a bad time, guys! Imagine you never read this, please! 😀

P.S: This post will be edited and re-posted when the “senses” are bac 😀

There’s more….coming soon!