Blog Archives

On tackling life when it’s a tightrope walk

I have not blogged as often as I would like to lately and it certainly is not for lack of things I want to express! The truth is that I have been feeling overwhelmed lately. It’s that point that I reach every now and then, when I have been piling stuff onto my plate…all good stuff that I really want to do and really enjoy and some not-so-good routine stuff that I need to do…but when I reach the point when the plate is overflowing and the panic attack begins, that is not a nice place to be.

At time like this, when the panic attack is at its vicious worst and I still have to maintain an exterior of normalcy as well as keep up the tempo in all the good stuff I have taken up, there are two options.

1- Strike! Withdraw, take a forced break, breathe deep and come back with renewed vigour.

2- Attack! Renew social connections. Call on the connections of the heart, all my friends who really know me. Talk to them, interact, laugh, cry and let the stress seep out of me.

This second option, strangely, works for me much better that taking a break while trying hard not to hyperventilate! All this interaction stuff can be done in this age of technology without taking even a moment’s break from the list of tasks. Getting positive reinforcement from people raises my motivation levels higher and the energy needed to push myself more is then easier to generate.

In the same spirit, I attack my blog with renewed passion. I cannot let go this…which has become so much a part of me. Which helps me connect to people I don’t yet know, that larger energy circle that I shall reach out to in the future.

Of course, there are some things that I end up compromising on. The gym, for instance has taken the back seat these past few days. I’m working on setting that back on track as well….

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Rewarded for trust: How my child surprised me and made me proud

Children are so incredibly resilient and we adults, parents included, underestimate them all the time. My kids never cease to surprise me.

Last night, Aadyaa started complaining of earache. Now that is bad news indeed, for it is an ailment that she has recurrently a few times a year and it is bad news! The earache is usually acute and takes a while to subside and means half a night of her howling in pain, while we scurry around trying to medicate, placate and allay the sinking feeling in our hearts. Over the past year she has had this problem, we have an arsenal of homeopathic, home remedies and mild allopathic medicines ready to combat it. For some reason, last night all the ammunition failed and Aadyaa and we were up most of the night in pain, hers physical and mine mental!

There was the added stress that she had her annual sports meet at school this morning. Something the kids look forward to and have been working really hard to prepare for. She would have been heartbroken if she had missed it and till midnight I was hoping the earache would oblige us and go away. Well, as you know, it didn’t. Surprisingly though, Aadyaa deviated from her pattern of howling through the night and was exceptionally tolerant of the pain. We read books, munched biscuits and chocos, chatted, sang songs and caught 15-minute shut eyes through the night, peppered with the various doses of medication we were trying out.

Eventually when she fell asleep past 5AM, we had decided that sports day happens every year and it wouldn’t be the end of the world if she misses it. On the other hand, she made me promise that I would take her if she woke up in time, even if it meant she simply sits in my lap and watches!

Morning came and we all got ready before we tried to wake Aadyaa up. Not only was she up and about, but she went on to complete all the activities that were planned at the sports meet, displaying her usual balance and poise at all types of physical challenge. No tantrums, no crankiness. Yes, I was pleasantly surprised.

Small things I observed today made me realize just how vital school, her routine, her friends and her teachers are to Aadyaa’s world. For instance, she demanded her teacher’s attention and sat in Mudita didi’s lap through the morning assembly. Once reassured by these minutes of comfort, she gave her best to the day’s proceedings.

I’m glad I decided to play along and let Aadyaa take the decisions this morning. I was rewarded for my trust and she gained another few notches of self-confidence. All in all, a good day!

Moments of reassurance and love from her teacher

Moments of reassurance and love from her teacher

The sheer joy of being in the moment

The sheer joy of being in the moment

On top of the world! Crossing the bamboo ladder with not an iota of hesitation!

On top of the world! Crossing the bamboo ladder with not an iota of hesitation!

So proud of you Aadyaa. Love you for what you are!

So proud of you Aadyaa. Love you for what you are!

 

 

 

Community celebration: A time and space for everyone to be happy! Happy Diwali

Festivities. The lights are bright and cheerful all around. Down there in the park, the revelries of the Diwali party organized in our apartment complex are still on. Card parties are yet to be attended, more drinks are to be had, more food consumed.

There is a lot to be said for community, even the gated sort that gets frowned upon so much by my fraternity of architects and urban planners. This evening, out there in the decked up lawns, I saw quite a diversity of people having some serious fun!

Two young people were in wheelchairs. The girl, who I have known, has cerebral palsy. She was all dressed up and flush with excitement. Because we have lived here together for so long, many of us stopped to speak with her. Two young girls, clearly hired help, were entertaining the other young man in a wheelchair. They were all three having a good time too, feeding him, wheeling him around the stalls and sights, laughing with him.

Our own house help and my mum’s, two young girls from tribal Jharkhand, were having a superb time eating from the stalls and watching the teenagers on the dance floor. My grandmum, Amamma, who is 82 and rather deaf also thoroughly enjoyed the evening. She has always loved outings and her low energies the past few years have kept her away from the bustle, she is simply too tired to attempt too much. Today, because she had to simply walk across a few steps, she attended the party, taking keen interest in all that was being sold, in what the kids were doing, relishing the aloo tikki and papdi chaat and finally, even making friends with another old lady who could speak Tamil!

Amamma, all smiles!

Sheer joy!

Children of all ages and sizes, of course, were a blas to watch. The younger ones had a choice of bobbing up and down in an inflated ‘bouncy’, playing a whole bunch of games, riding in a horse cart or on a camel. The teenage bunch were so entertaining. Some were dressed at their ethnic best, others made up in slick western wear, still others playing it really casual in denims. But most of them chattering, dancing away to the popular tracks the DJ was belting out.

I love the festive spirit that Diwali brings out. A lot of people in our complex have been donating clothes into baskets that have been placed by some good enterprising folks in front of the towers. This morning, I saw a sweeper stare longingly at some really cozy looking woolens that were inside the collection basket. He didn’t dare take any away and he started mutely. I could not help think about the irony of giving away clothes to an NGO with all good intentions when we are not able to help the people who work to keep our own complex in top shape. It was a small reminder that it is important to look after everyone around me in the spirit of generosity and festive cheer. After all, involving myself in the lives of the people who come to make my life easier, my cook, my cleaning lady, my driver, my gardener, my nanny, and truly wishing then well and giving them what they need and cannot afford, is the best sort of gesture for this season and a decent way of giving back to the community that nurtures me.

 

Can’t let FB replace real contact: Am resolving to call and meet the people that matter to me this festive season- Oct 19, 2012

I love social networking, but I realized how much it had changed my life when I caught up with a dear friend recently. She is not active on Facebook. In fact, she is only comfortable with visits and phone calls. Even sms and email is a no-no. In a way, she is how we are were before the communication madness hit the world.

This friend and I go back a long way to a time when we were snivelling, crazy children in primary school. We were a riot. Parents would be looking high and low for us while we played ghar-ghar under some row of bushes somewhere, or up in one corner of the terrace! We fought, we yelled, we played and we were mostly inseparable for some four years of our lives way back in Parel, Mumbai.

Yes, that was a different place, a different time. A world gone by. A world in which a landline phone was a luxury. And letters and occasional phone calls were how people communicated. Friends met up, like face-to-face met up, all the time. Despite lives being equally busy, I remember my parents took out a lot of time for meeting family and friends for outings, dinners, walks, or even just a cup of tea in each other’s homes.

So this friend and I live in the same city, sort of. She lives in Delhi, I love in Gurgaon. We speak on an average once a month, usually when one of her children is ill and she is stressed out. When you know someone else for most of your life, just speaking with them is comforting. So yes, we use each other as support, to boost our morale when we are down or simply to let off steam when we are mad.

We meet a couple of times a year. And we have no contact in any other way. No FB, no sms, no BBM, nothing. That seems strange at times. So many people who are merely acquaintances are reading my status updates and blog entries, looking at pictures of my children. They know about what’s happening in my life. I meet them and they comment on some pic they liked or someplace we had been to. And this best friend from my childhood is oblivious to the details of my life.

When we meet, the catching up is very very real, intense and pleasurable. We actually have to fill in for things that have happened over months. We have to share our ups and downs, our state of mind. We have to indulge in nostalgia, laugh about old incidents, discuss the health of our parents and children, remember my father’s fun loving ways (he was a big factor in both our lives).

But it’s not only the exchange of information that enriches the meeting. It’s the joy we feel at seeing each other…I love the familiarity of her voice, the expressions that flit across her face, the idiosyncrasies that are so endearing, the comfort that she knows me so well that I can say anything I feel and get away with it….it’s a different sort of joy from seeing a friend’s picture on Facebook or exchanging an email. Nothing substitutes for real contact, no matter how much pleasure we get from virtual interactions.

Of course, I am glad social networks exist we can connect to many more people. But because we have an easy way out, we don’t make the effort any more. A few other friends, who also still believe in the traditional modes of contact, continue to call and speak to me a few times a year. And I love those conversations. But I find I hardly ever make a random call to a friend nowadays. That act has been replaced with writing on someone’s wall. And at times, when I am down and out and just want to reach out, I find I am inhibited and don’t make that call I badly need to cheer me up. I end up thinking I have very few close friends and wallow in self pity for some time. But the truth is that I am ashamed to call a friend to whine when I haven’t called her in ages to just catch up! And it simply won’t do to whine on FB, would it?

Social networking has, in a sense, replaced quality with quantity. And sometimes that’s not such a good thing. So here’s to making a renewed effort to call and meet the people I think matter in my life! And what better time of the year to start than in the festive season…

Unplanned weekends, fun with friends and family, the best kind of relaxation! July 14, 2012

Our lives have become so hectic, so structured and planned that weekends end up being more hectic than weekdays. The feeling of being deprived of pleasures through the week means we over-commit to social obligations on the weekends. Plus, there are the mandatory chores to do. If the Monday blues hit you on Sunday night, it’s not only in anticipation of the stresses ahead but probably because you’ve weekended too hard!

That’s why it makes sense to schedule nothing for weekends. This weekend is turning out to be one of those chilled leisurely breaks. It started with an impromptu Friday night dinner our with family. It’s raining, let’s not cook, let’s eat out tonight! Amamma (my grandma), mom, Amma, Rahul, the kids and me enjoyed pan Asian fare at The Palms Club.

Slurp! The mandatory chicken sweet corn soup..some things never change 🙂

The mums and one supermum in the center 🙂 she’s a darling if there was one, braving a noisy meal out with the great grandkids ain’t easy!

Focused on the fare in front of him, Udai takes his food seriously!

Today was even better. I spent over an hour in the pool with both the kids and a smattering of Udai’s friends. A part sunny part overcast sky lent the perfect holiday atmosphere, the water neither warm nor cold and refreshingly inviting. Saturday morning meant not too many people in the pool, only some of us ‘early’ risers. Splash wars, some serious laps and frolicking with Aadyaa, including trying to swim with her piggyback riding on me- a sure stress buster.

An unplanned mid afternoon outing to grab some yummy desserts at Sakley’s in Galleria Market accompanied with a chat session with Rahul and Nupur was icing on the cake. More unplanned stuff happened. A relaxing head massage in the salon across the road and a super family evening drinking, eating and laughing with the cousin gang- 3 generations laughing together. Could a Saturday be better?

 

Conversations post 35- Glad that some things never change- June 26, 2012

Nostalgia is passé. Post 35, when you meet friends from the past, especially those buddies from college, you talk kids, ethics, life experiences and value systems. Your discussions veer towards perceptions and issues and incidents are shared in the context of making a point.
As Richa’s beautiful little girls hung around us (or pranced around us in the case of the younger one), the four of us- Upali, Richa, Julius and me- talked about the things that concerned us most. I was amazed to find that, despite living countries apart, what worried us all the most were common. All the issues we discussed pertained to the desire to see an improved world in the future. We talked of education quality, the value societies attach to learning and education, the business of education and healthcare, dealing with class issues in a society in rapid transition, parenting and how to help our kids to be good humans while utilising their potential and talent, how it is important for poor business models to fail so that there is a value attached to risk as much as there is to reward (great learning for me, thank you Julius!), can we ever outgrow the obsession for white skin (Upali returned to India after a gap to find the obsession had grown), why advertising and media feeds on insecurity and fear, you get the drift I am sure.
It amazes me and heartens me that there are others (and I have heard from many since I began this blog) that worry like me, that passionately hope for change. That recognise that the sharp edge of profitability must be balanced by the service of the larger good. That balance, not unconditional growth is the way forward. That creativity and design have a larger role to play for humanity to continue a meaningful existence.
I had planned to take pictures of this mini reunion, but I have not a single one. Conversation and food flowed seamlessly. Life was good. The hospitality the best (thanks Richa). Comfort levels high. I guess we’re not the posing types!

What kids love most about summer vacations is the unstructured time and absence of pressure! May 7, 2012

As the heat rises and vacations begin for the kids, I am taken back to the memories of how we spent summer vacations as children. In Mumbai, were we lived from ’81 to ’87, we had cousins from Goa visit us during summer and we traveled there at times as well. I was among the youngest in that group and I got teased incessantly. We played a lot of make believe games, full of role play and imagination. We played carrom, ludo, snakes and ladders and a host of indoor games. With my parents, whenever I could catch them (usually during travels), I played Scrabble and card games like Rummy, which my dad loved!

Wherever we were, home or in Goa or Bangalore (where my maternal grandparents lived), we were usually homebound. Days went by in a routine of breakfast, lunch and dinner interspersed with games, gossip, snoozes and snacks. Occasional treats like outings to the beach or museum did happen, but they were…well, occasional. We didn’t think of complaining. We were fine with the pace of our lives. Of course, we also said “I’m bored” 50 times a day like kids do now, but we were happy to be handed over another book to re-read, or another board game. Many a time, we were just asked to shut up and take ourselves away! And we did!

Later, in Lucknow, we had a teenage gang and hung out together doing stuff as varied as 100-piece jigsaw puzzles, endless card games, watching VCRs, talking and even reading together!

What made my childhood and especially the summer vacations a joy was the unstructured time we spent with our friends. Schooldays signified the shackles of a time-bound regime and holidays meant we could live in our alternate world till a parent or house help dragged us away for lunch or dinner!

Despite the plans I am making for my kids’ vacations, I know in this, the world has not changed. Udai and Aadyaa truly prefer the company of their friends over any class or scheduled activity. It is our failing as parents that we are unable to create safe, supervised space and time for this to happen all through the summer. We need to resort to some structured activities to tide us through! Hopefully, I will be able to negotiate a balance so they can enjoy both!

Unexpected meetings bring much joy: My day in Pune- apr 17, 2012

We had a day in Pune with a flight to catch at the end of the day to return to Delhi. Nothing much was planned as I knew a work meeting had to be scheduled sometime today as well.
As soon as I realised the meeting was at lunchtime, I called up an old friend Varsha and we spent a delightful morning walking around Koregaon Park’s mind blowing greenery, passing the boarded up shop that was the German Bakery of the bomb blast fame and then moving through the cantonment to Pune’s Main Street, where we were taken through some really quaint old Parsi bakeries. Clearly, Varsha was reliving the pleasures of her college day haunts. She also bought a stash of the famed Shrewsbury biscuits for the Delhi gang, declaring it her birthright to buy us this delicious stuff!
Post the meeting and an unplanned site visit, I had time enough to catch up with family as well. Aslesha, my cousin Sunil’s wife (uncle actually, but only a few years my senior and a favourite companion of my childhood years in Mumbai) was kind enough to pick us from the hotel and take us home, feed us and make us comfortable in her lovely home. To top it all, Air India was kind enough to delay their flight so I had the chance to meet Sunil as well when he got back from work and could spend some time with their daughter Maigha who is one if the most entertaining kids I know!
The call to inform me that the airline had preponed the flight (yes, crazy) sent us all into a tizzy. Now I sit checked in, at a sleepy airport, smiling at the days events, at the sheer pleasure of unplanned jaunts, catch up sessions with friends and family, the pleasure if the warm hug and unaffected smiles of those you love. Makes it so much more worth your time to visit another city. In that sense, I guess I am and will always be my father’s daughter, above the pleasure if sights, sounds, tastes and smells will always remain the pleasure of company!

Exhausting yet totally satisfying: A great party at home- March 30, 2012

At the absolute end of a marathon day of cleaning, organising and finally experiencing a birthday party for a four year old and a thirty six year old, I can safely say that I am wiser, richer (and not monetarily) and completely bushed!
There are many arguments for and against hosting a party at home. On the down side, it’s stressful, physically exhausting, chaotic, and you do get the impression that you haven’t spent enough time with your friends. And the cleaning up after a daunting task. The picture at the bottom shows you how much trash came out of a party for over 70 adults and 25 kids. And this is when only a part of the serving was done in disposables.
All this said, its simply not the same hosting a party in a commercial location. It’s not a personal space, you don’t get the same feel of closeness and camaraderie. Kids are a lot more comfy in a home than in a club or restaurant or banquet facility. On the commercial side, hosting a party at home is a lot cheaper (we calculated it would have cost us ten times outside). The garbage generated is probably one tenth of the wastage a caterer would incur, behind the scenes of course!
All in all, even though I am totally exhausted, I feel loved, happy and satisfied. Those who can come home, handle the chaos and the noise (and some garbage lying around); those who can be guests and also help out with the serving and washing dishes; those who do not stand on formality and accept us for who we are- those are the friends, the family who truly matter! Thanks all! And promise to post pics later!

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Action, performance and deep friendships at Udai’s sports day Feb 24, 2012

Today was all about watching the extreme sense of confidence in our children and the tremendous skills, flexibility and balance their bodies have achieved in the past year. Every time I have the occasion to observe my son Udai with his school friends, I am struck by how deep and genuine their friendships run. On sports day, it’s particularly gratifying to see how well they work as a team, how encouraging they are when their friends struggle with a challenge, how whole-hearted their enjoyment of the activities. The spirit of fun rubbed off on us parents as well as we tried out some of the activities, with some help from the kiddos! Reflecting the bonding between the kids is a genuine sense of friendship and camaraderie that parents enjoy as well. See for yourself…

A Shikshantar sports day is about displaying skills and having fun

Check out the poise! These are grade 3 kids; Udai is in grade 2

Deep run the friendships- Srijaa and Nitya watch their friends do front rolls

Candid conversations- Samsara and Khushi

Sharing secrets? Yugantar and Udai

Mums catching up

Watching the fun

Hoopla, gymnastics and finally, the obstacle course- Udai navigates it....

Mommies and daddies doing the obstacle course 🙂

Totally involved- cheering, clicking....

Two kites overhead flew in formation, inspired by the music and fun!

Beautiful flowers in the school!

 

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