Monday 29 September 2014

A saree and Golu Edition 2014

Some days ago, I had the privilege and pleasure of draping a Kanjeevaram which I was told, is as old as I am. Cobalt blue with a shocking pink border, simplicity and sophistication itself. No unnecessary bootis, heavy zari or embellishments. Certainly not the ghastly kundan and brocade work that appear on so many Kanjeevarams today. Call me a purist, but I haven't found anything to like in the fusion. Leave some things well alone, I say. 
The saree was light as air and exquisitely easy to drape. The fact that it belonged to my grandmother made me value it so much more. I told my mom I was taking it for my own. But even as I was wearing it, it ripped in a couple of places. So now it is in safe storage until we can darn and make it stronger :)
So what was the occasion? Navarathri, of course! Once again this year, the Golu was a joint effort between my mom, me and Y. I didn't manage to graduate to 5 steps this year (next year for sure!) but we had a lot of fun setting up the stand, unwrapping the dolls and discussing their placement, and having Ads lay out his cricket set just so, while giving us a running commentary (no one was listening!) of each fielder's position.
The whole process made me nostalgic for Golus in the years gone by, though of course we have become more professional now :) The last week was hectic with lots of people coming in batches for vetthala -paaku/haldi kumkum. Between work, Golu visits and hosting people at home, I went a tad crazy. If it hadn't been such a busy time at work, taking a few days off would have been the sensible thing to do.
We head off to Guruvayoor and Athirapally for a couple of days later this week - looking forward to the mini-break!

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Shifting expectations

A couple of years ago, I would have given anything for Ads to run out of the house every evening to play with his friends. Instead he would sit quietly at home, drawing endlessly or reading for hours. Now, I get annoyed with him for playing cricket (and talking about it endlessly) and wish he would start drawing again and reading.
Isn't it so unfair that every time he gets closer to the finish line, I promptly draw another one a little further away! Oh the unfairness of it all! I am ashamed of myself.
I told myself this when he came back from school the second day in a row with his snack untouched. His favourite whole-wheat chocolate cupcakes had been nibbled around the edges, fit only to be thrown into the bin. Amma they aren't nice any more, he claimed. I got my just desserts (pun intended).
When we came to India, I wished more than anything else for him to be sociable, sporty and brave. He has become all of these...and yet...I complain ever so often :(
The burden of expectations- I didn't think I was that kind of mom. Yet we all seem to do it. Or worse, sink under someone else's expectations.
Turning over a new leaf from today :)

Monday 15 September 2014

A birthday surprise

I was inspired by Uma's post here to finish something that had been lying in Drafts for a couple of weeks. The background is this. Neither the husband nor I ever felt the need to make a big deal of our birthdays, wedding anniversary etc. A more accurate way to describe the situation would be to say that whatever few desires I may have had on the "right" way to celebrate birthdays and such had died a silent death over the years thanks to S's studied lack of enthusiasm. Our arguments had become so stale. S would say - So you want me to make a big deal for one day and ignore you the rest of the year or what, and I would say - That's so silly. Obviously you don't have to do one at the expense of the other! Truth be told, I didn't care all that much, but sometimes I would feel that when I make so much of an effort with the kids birthdays and S's birthday, why can he not reciprocate? Lately, it had become a battle too hard to fight and I have just started making merry with his credit card - having completely given up on any other overt demonstration on my birthday!
Having said that, I must also describe a very heartwarming incident that happened several months ago. S and I were both travelling to the US on work. Since our flights were just a couple of hours apart, it made sense for us to share a cab to the airport. Checking in formalities over, I had to wait for the security check while S, whose flight was departing earlier, said goodbye and disappeared. An hour later, I finished clearing security and was heading towards my gate when S called. Í'm going to board in just a few moments, he said. Where are you? I replied that I was walking towards my gate. Ok, he said. Walk faster. I'll meet you midway. 
I was most puzzled. Why was he coming to see me when his flight had been called? A few minutes later, I see him jogging towards me. He is holding a couple of sandwiches in his hand. He thrust them at me. You'll be hungry soon and they won't give you anything on the flight for a few hours. Make sure you gobble this before you board. Ok, bye. Abruptly, he turned around, and ran back to his gate.
I was most touched. That he had thought of me, of how hungry I would become, and taken the trouble to get sandwiches, and come running to find me. Later, when I told him how sweet the gesture was, he shrugged it off. In characteristic S fashion, he said - I was only worried about all those hapless co-passengers - you might have slapped someone in your hunger!
Possibly for the first time in 14 years, I fully appreciated the small humble gestures he makes every day to show his affection. My guilt at constantly nagging him to celebrate my birthday only lasted so long, however :) Come August, I was once again threatening him with dire consequences if he did not atleast "get a cake" for me. Really...subtlety flew out of the window long long ago!!!
So, a day before my birthday, I was at my mom's place and S called to say he was home early because he was tired. I asked him to drop over at mom's for some tea. He landed up, and once the kids and my parents were all assembled, out came a chocolate cake from nowhere! I was most pleasantly surprised and for the first time in many years, got to cut a cake with everyone singing Happy Birthday to me. I rolled my eyes at S and said - see this is a such a simple thing I've been asking for. Why couldn't you have done it all these years?
S claims that it was my continual death threats that made him fear for his life- so well, looks like the extreme measures, yelling etc worked - though it took 14 years to bear fruit!

Wednesday 3 September 2014

North Kerala trippin'

In our quest to travel far and wide in our beautiful country, we (read I) hit upon a tiny village called Neeleshwar in North Kerala. It was exciting to plan a trip to the Malabar coast, having never visited that part of Kerala before. We were supposed to travel here in January, then again in April, but both time I had to cancel our train tickets because of work-related emergencies. Finally we were able to make it last weekend, by train to Kanhangad (near Kasaragod) and then a 20-minute drive by car to our resort.
Swaying palm trees, cool rain, and lush foliage awaited us as we emerged. I couldn't wait to explore the cottage and it's surroundings, and the view of the Arabian sea was simply superb. The pics say it all!

The agenda was to relax and do nothing. The rain helped; without it I might have been tempted to revert to my usual traveller mode of rushing here and there to see the sights. One Day 2, we visited Bekal Fort, a beautifully-maintained fort a few kms from where we were staying. Although it was gorgeous and green (the kind of vivid green I would associate with, say, Ireland) on a wind-swept, rainy day, I was disappointed to see no signage or information about the Fort itself, and came away no wiser than before (Wiki came to the rescue). The kids were thrilled to see large waves dashing themselves against the rocks.

We also spent an evening cruising along the Valiyaparamba backwaters in a houseboat, not a novel experience but oh-so-relaxing.
Great Malabar food, serene environs, the constant sound of the sea against the beach, raindrops rattling on the roof, masala chai and the company of loved ones - what more could one have asked for? As I completed yet another circle around the sun, I felt truly blessed.

Tuesday 2 September 2014

What a month!

It has been a sad, happy, busy, messy, disturbing and distressing kind of month. So much has happened in such a short time that even now, it seems surreal. My paternal grandmother, who has lived with my parents for as long as I can remember, also passed away within a  month and a half of my maternal grandma passing on. A hardy 93 year old who had the stamina, enthusiasm and mojo of a 70-year old, she always used to claim that she would cross a century, a claim we had no trouble believing! She used to gently scoff at her many granddaughters who each had "only" 2 kids apiece, and was forever encouraging me to try for a third :)
My parents were under enormous stress; just as my mother was slowly coming to terms with her mother's illness and death, she had to play ministering angel to her mother-in-law and start the whole round of ICU/hospital visits along with my father. Fortunately, help arrived after a few tense days in the form of my uncle and aunt from abroad, who were able to provide the much-needed moral and physical support.
In the interim, my mom turned a year older, Advaith turned 9 (that was the happy part of the month!) and my father-in-law came down with pneumonia! S came back from the trip to the US and rushed the same day to Chennai to do his bit for his parents. We cancelled Ads' party for a more favourable date, probably sometime in the next week or 10 days.
Today, for the first time, there is some semblance of normalcy. The relatives have departed for their distant homes, f-i-l is recovering and school and work routines are back to normal. The four of us made use of the long weekend to take a long-awaited and much-postponed break in Kasaragod in Kerala (about which, travelogue coming up in a couple of days).
What a month it's been! I'm glad its over. Still can't believe the paatis are gone. It is going to take some time to properly sink in.