Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What is special ?

My son's preschool teacher recently sent their month's lesson plan and the topic of discussion this week was what makes each child special.This set me thinking......first about the word special,what it truly meant and what was special about each person in my family!?!Like any loving mother in the world,i feel every bit of my children are special,everything about them is special and every little innocent act is special in its own way.Of late my older son is into drawing&coloring.Like any preschooler, he is exploring his world through colors&i already feel he's definitely going to grow up to be a Picasso!when he is away at preschool,i go through his drawings& beam with pride at his wonderful creations.At 15 months i feel my younger son is a born basket ball player!!!balls never cease to fascinate him and he's always throwing them at the wrong places,like my dinner plate!behind the t.v & speakers or on top of the huge dining table towering in front of his tiny self.My hubby K, is paranoid about the ball bouncing behind his prized speakers,being the electronic freak that he is,he is always worried about the massive damage that those weightless balls might make on his 40 lb speakers!!now coming to K.What makes him special?I feel he is a genuine person with absolutely no pretenses.He doesn't try to converse with any kind of American or English accent.....He patiently repeats whatever he's trying to convey to the eager looking foreigner trying to decipher his thick Indian english.He doesn't care to see if someone is watching him not use his knife and fork on his pizza...I always try to display my table manners and meticulously cut my pizza into a perfect bite size while he is already digging into his 3rd or 4th slice!!!I pout my lips and take a tiny sip from my dainty glass while i hear K loudly banging his glass down after a huge gulp&wiping his satisfied face!One of my friend's from CA used to say,i like it when your hubby comes over because he never says, 'no no i just had my coffee/tea,maybe next time' and gladly accepts whatever i offer!Most people say no when offered refreshments at any friends place but not K!Most of all he just can not hide what he's feeling!When he's angry or worried or excited or Happy,he just has to let you know.....or rather let ME know!I always tell him I'm his emotional dump.Being one spares me from guessing whats hidden in his mind or trying to peep under his mask.He has no mask and he can never have one.The open book that he is,i can read him at one glance!This preschool exercise has helped not only my son realize what makes him special but has also had a therapeutic effect on me,reminding me to cherish all the special people around me.Maybe i should repeat this exercise every once in few months so that i don't get carried away by petty quarrels and forget to count my blessings.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Its all because of you.....

This is all because of you!!! how many times have we heard this phrase or how many times have we hurled it at others?putting the blame on someone during an uncomfortable situation is the simplest thing to do....We all do it sometime or the other.Right from childhood facing conflicts is an ongoing learning process and many times we as adults run away from conflicts more than kids.My elder son is extremely naughty and after a mishap we always end up asking"A ! was that you who did it?"once he told me with a very serious face "No! it was Elmo!!!" now he blames it on his baby brother!sometimes the poor chap takes ownership for things he was in no way connected!!!So i realized, after repeated use we almost come to believe in the blame game!!!So now he believes,whenever there is a mishap,he is connected to it in someway!!poor kid!I am trying to teach him to take responsibility for only what he did.More than the kids i feel we adults enjoy the blame game immensely!specially between spouses and partners!We tend to easily get tangled in the"who did what for whom and when" kind of webs.Its hard to break free from such sticky webs where Ego , emotions and deep rooted beliefs are inter-twined.Its easier to throw such phrases at your partners face because you know they are not going to hold a grudge against you for that.So you end up in a mess and when questioned about it, shout your favorite phrase"All because of you!!!" and walk away while you partner stares back with a "What? Me? How?" look!! and shrugs away with a "whatever".This saves us from the much dreaded anxiety monster for the moment.To understand this behavior pattern better,i read up some bits from Sigmund Freud.( i never imagined i'd come across his name again in my life after i wrote the last word on my psychology answer paper in my 1st yr in college!)According to him :" The purpose of the Ego Defence Mechanisms is to protect the mind/self/ego from anxiety, social sanctions or to provide a refuge from a situation with which one cannot currently cope." Now this sounds simple but on deeper thought if the habit of blaming continues then the mind believes what we say, like my son who started believing that he was responsible for all the mishaps because of repeatedly asking him if he was!this also breeds a negative ground for holding resentment and grudges which can slowly start eating your relationship.Most importantly i feel this affects the person who likes to throw the blame ball at others the most, because it instantly blocks the persons self growth. By putting the blame on another person he has given up the power to change and evolve into a better and stronger person.The most important lesson i learnt from this entire thought process is that We can not control everything that happens in our life,no one can!the only thing we can control is our reactions to events outside our control. and how we use that to evolve into a stronger person than we once were... I thank my 3&1/2 yr old son for giving me this food for thought and thereby teaching me this important lesson.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Shri Gurubhyo Namaha (Obeisance to my Master)

I have been wanting to write about my teachers for quite some time but somehow the thoughts kept slipping away from my quill.So i sat and wrote randomly about the 3 people who came to my mind.They must have definitely left an imprint in my mind or why would their faces pop up when i think about teachers?!

The first person i re-collect is my first music teacher-S .A middle aged man (middle aged when i was 5 yrs old!!) of very few words.I was his disciple for only 1 yr but if i have my musical notes in place even today,its because of him.His sheer dedication and patience was a big hand in making the foundation strong.His efforts to teach me a little extra has added to my minimal musical knowledge.I wish i had known its value then.If i had,i would have been a different person today.This is something i wish i had done during my childhood and regret it till this day.

*Thank you Sir for the short but enriching musical journey*

The next person and the main person whose memory prompted me to write this post is my art teacher in school Ms-R .R was quite a dynamic personality!She was tall,fair and beautiful but never bothered about her looks.She was always seen in a mix&match of cotton Salwar kameez.Her wavy long hair was always let loose after her daily wash and her eyes were always smeared with kajal.A cloth sack hung over her shoulder carrying her minimum daily supplies.No fancy handbags.R was a Shanti niketan product and was like a firecracker!she would burst with creativity and the sparks would fall on everyone around her.The kids loved her and she loved the kids!She would never teach the kids that roses are red and violets are blue.....Her art classes would be like a celebration of colours!where we would be prodded to explore with all the possible colours we could mix&make.My friends and I were quite chummy with R and used to look forward to her classes.She was the one who opened the door to a whole new world inside me!A world where i was the master and endless possibilities of creation lay scattered around me.Her encouragement was one of the main reasons why i decided to major in textiles&clothing and not study computers like all my peers.I have had many enjoyable moments with her and this one incident brings a smile to my lips even today...Like most school students i used to enjoy taking part in inter-school competitions one of which being"Vasthra" which was a theme based fashion show.Each school would have to come up with innovative costumes based on the theme given.I was a regular in her set of modals(for my sheer stage presence and nothing else!Height wise,heels was my savior) So this one year the theme was 'Kerala' and R had come up with really cool designs.My costume was an inspiration of the kerala folk dance 'Kathakali'.My skirt was similar to the costume worn by the kathakali dancer, something like an umbrella!The ends of the skirt was wired and it danced about as i walked.So here i was all decked up in my umbrella like skirt.The first modal walked down with a traditional lamp call the 'nilavilakku' and the rest followed.My turn came and i pranced forward in my umbrella skirt and as i struck a pose at the end of the ramp,the audience gasped!"AH"I was elated!i said to myself in my mind 'way to go girl!looks like you took their breath away!" as i headed backstage R ran up to me,grabbed my shoulder and cried"V! are you ok?" I stared back clueless and replied" why shouldn't i be? " "well you were about to go up in smoke" she continued animatedly.Soon more of my friends from the audience gathered around me and told me the story.The first modal had placed the lit lamp at the very end of the ramp just like how she was asked to and when i struck my pose my umbrella skirt was floating just above the lamp which was the reason why the audience gasped and waited with bated breath to see if my skirt would catch fire or not!!!So much for taking everyones breath away.I thanked God that he saved mine.Since that day R would giggle at the sight of me and nod her head, i would giggle back and we would have a good laugh.
*Thank you R for lighting the creative lamp in me*

The third and last person i am going to write about is Ms-N ,one of my professors in college.She taught us textile chemistry.She always looked like she would fall asleep any minute!Her voice was blank,monotonous, a complete drag and highly nasal!Sitting through her lecture with complete attention from start to end was a great achievement which most girls weren't willing to attempt.If anyone wanted to go see a movie,they would see if they had N's lecture that day because that would be their first choice to bunk!I would still attend N's lectures,not because i had any personal interest in N and neither was i remotely fascinated by textile chemistry.My interests lay only in her dress.She would often be attired in 'mekhla chadars' which was the traditional costume of Assam and which was where she was from.Each time a different colour and beautiful intricate embroidery.Her traditional attire lent a slight charm to her and added a bit of colour to her otherwise pale self. I loved her Mekhla Chadars and always wished i owned one.

*Thank you N for teaching me that life is not always interesting but you can always find something interesting in life*

Thank you S,R,N and all my teachers for making valuable imprints in me that makes me what i am today.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

When clouds hover over my head these thoughts run through my mind

The place where i live is surrounded by mountains and hence year round cloudy.It rains a lot and sunshine is a welcome sight!The air is chilly and people complain that they get depressed due to the dull weather and lack of sunshine.Weather has never affected my moods.When i came to this country many years ago i landed in a much warmer place that had sunshine year round!but my fear of a new place,new surrounding,new people and a new relationship made me build an invisible wall around me but i still made friends and had a good time. The sunshine didn't in particular add to my happiness or anything.My friends from school and college think I am an extrovert but in reality I am an Introvert.I take a long time to open up to people and share my life.I make friends easily,i laugh,i have a good time but I'm very cautious about taking them into my personal life.I have a very hard time opening myself up and sharing my problems.I am like a snail who hides in its shell.My hubby is just the opposite!whatever goes into his ears and his mind comes out of his mouth!His conversations have given me quite a shock in the beginning.The art of letting the thoughts go out is actually good.It doesn't trap the energy inside but i stay hidden in my shell,peeping out at times only to hurry back in at the slightest provocation.When emotions overwhelm me i go into silence.I love silence.It gives me time to dwell upon my thoughts.My silence may make me seem to be a moody or proud person but in reality silence is my way of gathering myself means I've gone into my shell and need time to assess my emotions.Two years back we moved from the warm sunny place to the mountains where it rains year round.Its been two years but my hubby still compares the weather and complains about the dark clouds that hover around most days but the clouds don't bother me at all!I am what I am and the clouds can't change me!I am still happy with life and i still hide in my shell,i still go into bouts of silence until i am refreshed and ready to face the grind.I know the rains can dampen happy picnics and outdoor fun but its the sunshine after the rains that bring about the rainbow!So rain or shine life is still fine!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

This little guiding light of mine...

"This little guiding light of mine
I'm gonna let it shine
This little guiding light of mine
I'm gonna let it shine
This little guiding light of mine
I'm gonna let it shine
Let it shine, all the time, let it shine...."

This song had been running in my head for the past 4 days,
a song i used to sing long long ago during my school
days.I don't know how i remembered this song suddenly,
but it just came into my head one fine moment!

"Hop into bed,turn out the lights,you shall have a party
in your dreams tonight,it's Pajama time!"I closed the
book with a huge smile on my face thankful that it was
all over.....but not yet!"One more time amma!pleeeeese"
my older son pleaded."This is the last time"I declared
firmly."The moon is up ,it's getting late,lets get
ready to celebrate,it's Pajama Time!"I started of for
the 100th time,trying to save the last bit of enthusiasm
in my voice.My head was reeling from reciting the words
over and over again.Just then i heard my little one's
wail.Ah!! a savior at last!and i jumped&ran to pick up
my 2nd son.My older son followed me with a frown.

I was the girlie-st of girls you could ever
find.I never climbed trees,always played with dolls,
loved to dress up and of course wear PINK!!!
and now i have 2 BOYS!!!The experience is over whelming!!
I still throw a wishful glance towards the girls toys at
the toy store but no!I am not given chance to even
stand by that aisle I would soon be pulled towards the
garbage trucks& Thomas trains."Which one should we buy?
"my hubby would ask my opinion...If you ask me,the
barbie doll with the Cinderella costume is gorgeous!
My heart would scream.but all I would say out loud is
" much do they cost?" The easiest and only
way known to me to select boys stuff.

"Just feed a baby around 6-8 ounces of
milk before bed to help him sleep through the night"
I slammed shut the parenting book,raised my
eyebrows&shrugged my shoulders,if only it were that easy.
I doted on the parenting books when i had my first son.
I read them every day and even revised them every once
in a while!but none of the stuff written in the book
worked for my baby!!It didn't the first time and it
doesn't work this time too with my second son.I never
the less read it&re-read it and keep reading it.
Even though none of the techniques in the book worked,
i managed to handle my son quite well.He is 3&1/2 yrs
now.With my 1st son's experience i am now quite at ease
with the situation with my 10 month old 2nd son.
Babies are different and they both still continue to
throw surprises at me but the overall journey is not
quite as anxious as the first time.

So what do mothers have that make them smile,laugh,cry,
shout!throw up their hands and call it quits,wake up the
next day and do it all over again?This is where my song
comes in!The guiding light.....the guiding light that
God has given every mother who needs no best selling
author to tell her how to put her baby to sleep,or to
take classes to love,care,connect and deeply feel for
the miracle she has given birth to.Its this guiding
light that leads her through dark tunnels and unknown
paths...She is still a normal woman and sometimes makes
mistakes but its the mothers milk that ultimately calms
the baby and in her heart shines the little guiding light.

This little guiding light of mine
I'm gonna let it shine
This little guiding light of mine
I'm gonna let it shine
This little guiding light of mine
I'm gonna let it shine
Let it shine, all the time, let it shine

Hide it under a bushel, no
I'm gonna let it shine
Hide it under a bushel, no
I'm gonna let it shine
Hide it under a bushel, no
I'm gonna let it shine
Let it shine, all the time, let it shine

Take my little light round the world
I'm gonna let it shine
Take my little light round the world
I'm gonna let it shine
Take my little light round the world
I'm gonna let it shine
Let it shine, all the time, let it shine

Don't you blow my little light out
I'm gonna let it shine
Don't you blow my little light out
I'm gonna let it shine
Don't you blow my little light out
I'm gonna let it shine
Let it shine, all the time, let it shine

Friday, April 2, 2010

Pattu Mami

Pattu Mami’s Filter Coffee

Pattu mami was famous for her filter coffee, or rather kapi to be precise. She lived in a serene village Agraharam (row houses resided by Brahmins) surrounded by beautiful mountains, lush green fields and gentle rivers. She was a great devotee of the Narayana who guarded the people living around him. Everyone loved the rich taste of her filter coffee and she was quick to offer a glass to whoever knocked at her door . Pattu mami was a simple soul elated by the simplest words or praise.”Pattu mami!when you temper your mor kozhambu(a tangy yogurt based curry),the aroma tickles the nose of the person even 4 streets away!!”Lalitha would remark when she comes to borrow some sugar or rice from Pattu mami.”Here Lalitha, there’s your sugar and here, taste some of my mor kozhambu too!”Pattu mami would immediately fill a small vessel of the tangy yogurt curry she had just tempered. She would never send anyone away without offering them a steaming cup of her frothy filter kapi. The taste of which never once altered. “No one can make filter coffee like you Pattu mami!” her neighbors would remark while Pattu mami blushed with embarrassment & joy. Just like her coffee, Pattu mami was also unaltered even after going through the many seasons of life. Her flawless skin still had a golden glow due to the repeated use of turmeric and gram flour instead of fancy soaps while bathing. Her activities mostly revolved around the Narayana temple and helping her neighbors in whatever way she could. Pattu mami had spent her entire life raising her only son,’Ananthanarayanan’, named after her favorite deity and affectionately known as Ambi. Well, now let me tell you! you can never go wrong guessing a Brahmin boys nickname! every family had an Ambi or a Cheenu or Mani! not to forget, Chandroo, Vaithi and Balaji! Anyways, Pattu mami’s Ambi was a soft spoken well mannered boy. Pattu mami, A young widow had spent every bit of her energy instilling good values and providing good education to Ambi by selling mouth watering snacks such as ‘muruku, cheedai, thattai etc…’After finishing his education Ambi had pursued his dream of joining the Indian army and serving the country and Pattu mami supported him whole heartedly though a tiny part of her squirmed in uncertainty that was always tagged along with being in the army. Ambi had asked her to stop toiling over hot oil making perfect spirals that people got addicted to. Her snacks were as famous as her coffee. He sent her money every month along with letters describing his adventurous life and the geographical beauty of the north where he was posted. He also wrote about the impending war and that he would be going to the battlefield anytime. His letters supplied enough material for pattu mami to strike up a conversation with her neighbors, friends and just about anyone she met. ”You know ,the place where Ambi is posted is very cold!!But he has to wake up at the crack of dawn even in that harsh climate, after all duty calls!!”Pattu mami would start of animatedly to anyone willing to listen. ”Poor boy going through so much hardship ,what with the war hovering around his head like a dark cloud” she would sigh ”but you know he has written that there is a small temple nearby which he visits whenever he gets time!”mami would add happily. So after Ambi’s loving order to stop making &selling snacks, Pattu mami kept herself happy by serving her Lord with her devotion and serving the village people with her signature filter kapi.
One sunny morning Pattu mami was returning from the temple after finishing her morning round of Darshan of her Narayana and chanting his name as she slowly walked the narrow street leading to her house, when she saw a green army jeep pull up in front of her house.”Ambi!” she cried happily. ”It must be my Ambi. He must have decided to surprise me by not writing to me about his arrival” She mumbled to herself as she rushed home.”Ambi! Ambi!”She called out reaching the jeep. Just then two perfect strangers stepped out of the jeep. ”You must be Ananthanarayanan’s mother?” one of them asked .”Yes! Yes! I’m Ambi’s mother! Are you his friends? Did he send you? Please come in!”mami hurriedly offered opening the house. “Yes we are his friends. We work with him. I am Babu and this is Pradeep”.One of them said. They quickly exchanged glances, pulled out a small box very carefully from the jeep and followed Pattu mami inside the house. ”Please sit down! It is very hot ,let me switch on the fan for you.”Pattu mami said panting for breath from rushing home and the excitement of meeting her Ambi’s friends. “Tell me, how is my Ambi? is he eating well? what kind of food do they serve at the Army? Only chapattis? Does he get any rice at all?” she poured various questions at them. ”You know he loves my onion sambhar and potato fry! and also my filter coffee! talking of which, let me get you some coffee. You boys have come a long way!”Pattu mami smiled and hurried inside to get her masterpiece. The gentlemen kept mum and exchanged glances. They could not be blamed because Pattu mami did not give them time to even say a word. She came back after 5 minutes bringing along with her the aroma of richly brewed coffee. Her hands balanced a tray with two tumblers of steaming filter coffee and a plate containing her spiral delights,’muruku’.”Here boys, help yourself and I’ll prepare lunch in a jiffy! I can’t let my Ambi’s friends leave my house on an empty stomach! “She said pretending to look horrified at even the thought of them leaving without partaking lunch. She placed the tray on the modest table in front of them and handed out the coffee tumblers.”Babu, why are you still holding that box? what is it? Did Ambi send it for me?” she asked with a smile.”errr……yes.”Babu mumbled. “OH this silly boy keeps sending me something or the other when I’ve told him hundred times that I don’t need anything except his welfare! My Narayana has given me more than I always wanted “She sighed happily. ”Ok what has he sent?” she asked curiously, smiling all the time. ”Himself” Babu said quietly .He slowly opened the box and pulled out a small silver pot covered with a red silk cloth. He held it in his outstretched hands with tears in his eyes and said, ”The war is over. ”The coffee tumbler slipped from Pattu mami’s hands and crashed on the floor, the rich aromatic coffee forming a puddle beneath her shivering feet.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

When you do nothing at all.....

I am a busy person.I am a mother of 2 active boys(an infant and a preschooler),I go through the usual routines of life cooking,cleaning,taking care of hubby and kids....wiping their tears,laugh at their innocent jokes and love my family with all my heart.This has been my routine for a long time but something was amiss...I was no doubt happy,i was doing my best...I was stressed out most days juggling kids and home but that was part of the game,But something was still amiss.One dark morning,i groped out of bed and looked at myself in the mirror toothbrush in hand.tousled hair,sunken eyes,shabby pajamas.I asked the person in the mirror,is this me?I shrug my shoulders and went about my routine.I brushed,showered,started fixing breakfast and lunch day had started.Soon the kids and hubby were up,I started attending to them.Later on I went into the restroom to help my older son wash his hand,The same person i saw in the morning while brushing my teeth stared back at me!The same tousled hair,same sunken eyes with a different pair of shabby pajamas!hmmm....well, that's me!I said and walked off.As i took a few steps,i realized...I was not me anymore!but i have started to believe that this new me is ME!!!too many Me's confusing me!Well to make it simple,I had been doing things for everyone around me that i had completely forgotten to do anything for myself!This was what was amiss in my life!I was so busy loving everyone that I had forgotten to Love myself!I realized,it is so important to love yourself to be able to love the people around you!!!So I decided to take out sometime everyday for myself....just be in touch with the true ME,not the wife or mother....So that someday,i can look at the mirror and smile at the person looking back at me and say"Yes! that's ME!!!"