What Do You Practice?

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'How can you just lie there all day?' Read the rest of this entry

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The Bumpy Road to Happily Ever After

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A Wedding Day Promise.

Research has it that marriage may test one’s sanity, but living into old age with a partner also lowers the risk of dementia.

Since the institution of marriage does not come with a handy instruction booklet, after the hazy cloud of blind love faded into reality, we realised that ‘happily-ever-after’ included smoke alarms that cheered on my cooking expeditions, gifts that were meant to surprise became shocks due to misunderstandings of tastes and choices, weird habits that our rose-tinted vision had refused to take note of and normal conversations that snowballed into disagreements and very soon grew into full-blown arguments.

But the bumpy, sometimes steep and otherwise uphill road that we encountered helped strengthen our bond as did my culinary expeditions that strengthened the husband’s digestive system.

When I chanced upon a folded piece of paper that contained a hastily scribbled recipe of a dish that had once — by some strange stroke of luck — turned out as expected without any incidence of accidental burning or charring or meeting friendly neighbours after the smoke alarm raised pandemonium, I decided to surprise my family by pushing my luck yet again.

Luck was once again on my side as the dish turned out to be perfect in taste and appearance. I could almost hear the fanfare music as I placed the garnished masterpiece.

Unfortunately, the music was only audible to my ears as the husband failed to notice amid discussing worldly matters. Sid intently listened to his father’s words as he mindlessly chewed more than the recommended 32 times and forcefully swallowed them when he wished to throw in a question or two about the topic under discussion.

Little Princess was the only one who noticed and screamed her disapproval.

Half way through the meal and between the orations of worldly affairs, the husband took note of the screaming silence emanating from my side of the table and was quick to understand that something was amiss. He looked about for cues from the curtain to my hair. Since it was obvious that I was bound to show no interest in playing a game of 20 questions or throw in clues, he settled for something safer and went on to throw a few compliments about everything except the dish that had been painstakingly cooked and served with love.

Considering that this was an incident that took place more than a year back and that its details are vivid in my mind’s eye to be revived over the table every time I make the lucky dish that had once gone unnoticed, the husband is absolutely sure that living into old age with his partner is definitely going to keep dementia at bay.

He explains that the trick is in dividing the task between the two of us.

I could fill up every brain cell with important events (like the one mentioned above) that have taken place since the first time we met to be brought up as and when the occasion (read argument) demands, while he will keep track of the state of our finances and other less important factors of our life.

As of now, he only worries about keeping his sanity.

 

The above is an extract from an article published in the Gulf News. For the entire write-up you can check here.

Wishing all of you a very happy and relaxed Sunday.

 

Drawing the Curtain on 2017

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New-Year-2018-Wishes

From the introduction of the iPhone X to Sid calling out to ‘Siri’ more than his mother,

From the discovery of the largest batch of Earth-sized planets to the wonderful editor at Gulf News finding my work worthy of publication,

From the first robot ‘citizen’ Sophia to Little Princess taking her creativity from the walls to the paper,

From the #MeToo movement to the honor of being invited and interviewed by a popular anchor from a regional channel……

2017 has been a year that brought joy, hope and new friends. As for the other side of the same coin, I choose to look at those experiences as speed breakers that helped me slow down, reflect and learn.

Thank you my dear friends and virtual friends from the WordPress family for all the support, suggestions and taking time to read my work and leaving your feedback.

As we move the many moments of 2017 into the tomes of history, here is wishing you and your family better health, more smiles, progress, joy and a lot of optimism this New Year.

How was 2017 for you? Would love to hear about your memorable moments of the year.

 

Is the Keyboard Mightier than the Pen?

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I am gloating with pride as Little Princess tries her hand at writing her first word – her name –  in lopsided and irregularly formed letters.

“You know my alphabets?” she questions referring to the alphabets that comprise her name.

I wish I could explain that her parents had a big hand in deciding her name but she has given that privilege to the school identity card and uses it for reference.

It is about then that I notice Sid struggling to read his handwritten work. I am caught unawares as my eyes take into the untidy hotchpotch of words that have been scribbled mindlessly. The unrealistic mother inside me who refuses to acknowledge what the eyes see manages to clutch on to a twig of positivity and interpret it as the first step to the long road to becoming a world renowned doctor.

I rush to share my Eureka moment with the husband who seemed nonplussed.  I wonder aloud if the friendly pharmacist downstairs will be able to decode his writing.

“Pharmacists have caught up with the digital era and have stopped playing guess games with sloppy hand-written prescriptions.” he reminds me. “You should buy him a cursive writing book,” he suggests turning his attention back into the digital world.

I wonder if cursive writing books are available in stores these days.

E-mails and texts have replaced snail mail. Perfecting cursive writing is not among the joys of schooling anymore and the digital keyboard has replaced the treasured ‘Hero’ ink pens and Camlin/Nataraj pencils of the pre-digital era.

A cousin who lives in another continent recently shared a picture of his handwritten script on social media.  His perfection for the art and the knowledge that handwritten scripts are going the way of the dinosaurs had garnered his picture more ‘likes’ than he intended. I will have to ask him to e-mail me a copy of his hand written script so that I can treasure it as a relic for the digital world has snatched the joys of handwriting but  made the world a smaller place.

In the meanwhile, I need to download a few cursive writing practice sheets from a student resource website so that my son can at least decipher what he writes.

Of Sunshine Vitamin and ‘la dolce vita’

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If there is anything worse than seeing your doctor when you are quite sure that something is not right, then it is the endless wait in stark waiting rooms with your mind galloping like an untrained horse into infinite conclusions about the undiagnosed state of your health.

I sat in the spotlessly clean waiting room twiddling my thumbs, crossing my fingers every time the mind paused at an irrational conclusion or possibility. I absently picked up a glossy magazine hoping to distract the direction of my thoughts. The picture of a perfectly happy lady with shining locks and skin glowing with health stared back at me only to add fuel to my racing thoughts. I went back to staring at the growing crowd of sick people in the waiting room reconciling to the fact that at least I was not the only one nursing my health woes.

It had all begun with a chance encounter with an old friend on social media. We were colleagues and later on became neighbours and good friends. After she moved out, we gradually lost touch with one another until she found me on social media through a mutual friend. A few phone calls later, we decided to meet up.

 

Our meeting was as warm as the sunny afternoon only marred by the revelation that the dreams and ambitions of this young woman had been hindered by multiple sclerosis. An acute deficiency of vitamin D had put her at a high risk and hastened the progress of the disease. We had a good time together reminiscing about old times, but the elephant in the room could not be ignored. Her parting advice to me was to listen to my body, trust my intuitions and take advantage of the sunny skies and cool mornings.

I took her advice and ensured that we spent our weekend mornings at beaches and in parks until we looked like a family who had just returned from a sun-kissed vacation in a hot tropical island. The exercise helped burn a month’s worth of every variety of food that had transformed into stubborn adipose tissue. The days that I could not make it, I sulked, until the husband suggested that I spend 15 minutes in the sunny balcony chewing on food. Research has it that chewing food thoroughly until it becomes absolutely free of lumps before it is swallowed can burn up to 2,000 extra calories every month if you keep at it.

It was about then that I had begun to notice that strands of hair fell loose and formed an untidy mess whenever I let it loose. As if to add to tangled woes, I caught myself nodding off between telling ‘Little Princess’ a fairy tale that usually resulted in a muddled up and confused happily-ever-after ending of another fairy tale.

At first, I brushed it aside and tried to be in denial. When I found my thoughts going back to my friend’s words, I tried to convince myself of the varied possibilities that could be a convincing reason for the sudden and unexplained hair loss and lethargy. Finally, I found myself at the doctor’s doorstep.

A battery of tests ensued and the results showed a deficiency in iron and Vitamin B12 that was due to a lack of animal protein in my diet. Heeding my friend’s advice, the mornings spent on the sunny beach was worthwhile after all as a deficiency of the sunshine vitamin did not show up. It is ironic that we live in a country that is blessed with abundant sunshine and the primary source of vitamin D is just outside our door, up in the sky and yet in this life full of care, we find innumerable excuses not to get outdoors and exercise our way to health.

The 30-day Fitness Challenge was a great opportunity that had brought the couch potatoes, the health freaks, families and friends to bond and sweat over varied workouts and physical activities under the canopy of the bright sunny skies in parks and beaches all through the four weeks. With studies indicating that 30 days of physical activity stands a good chance of creating a permanent lifestyle change, the challenge has laid the foundation for every individual to beat the odds and aim on prioritising one’s health through the year.

While I hope that my dear friend challenges the odds and bounces back to an active life, I have myself made a few dietary and lifestyle changes that have shaken off the lethargy, although I am still working on looking like the glowing, perfect lady with her shiny locks and radiant skin in the glossy magazine.

For all the rest of you, just in case you have forgotten, here is a reminder — take care!

 

Good Morning Friends, Wishing you all a very happy Sunday.

Sharing a post that has been originally published in the Gulf News.  You can read it at :

http://gulfnews.com/opinion/off-cuff/that-sunshine-vitamin-and-la-dolce-vita-1.2133951

A Competition Called Life

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Classroom

“Seize every minute of this day”

“Don’t watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going”

There is no dearth for motivation on social media. Reminder in 50s and 100s every morning is a good thing so that we put on our running shoes and throw ourselves into the breathless crowd that is racing against time to achieve set goals and targets.

On a weekend morning, we decided to seize the day treating ourselves to an early lunch followed by a visit to the shopping mall.

After clicking pictures with a robot that walked, talked, sang songs and did all that was expected of it, we took a cue from Sid and made our way to a bookstore to get our dose of food for the brain (while we seize the rest of the day).

Little Princess settles in the seating area with an improvised Peppa Pig storybook that appeared to be bigger than her and did a snort with every page turn.

Sid already had his nose in a fact finder.

It was then that we bumped into a friend who was leaving the store balancing a bag full of books. After the pleasantries, I enquired about his wife and son.

“They are at home preparing for his Olympiads” he said, “I am here to pick up some additional reference material for the KenDoku competition that is soon to follow.”

“Some books on logical thinking and the public speaking course that he takes,” he explained, “we let him play chess during his free time so a book to perfect the game too,” he finished.

I was reminded of the robot that we clicked pictures with as it had gone about perfecting all that was expected of it as the proud father gave us an account of the rigorous effort that went into preparing their son to keep pace with the pell-mell rush to stand out in the rising competition.

I looked at the husband hopelessly.

Sid spent his evening reading books, playing with friends, attempting hard to get a tennis ball across a net with a racquet – none of which qualified as academically enlightening.

Even his weekly swimming classes were not geared on getting him to swim the English Channel but to be able to save his life or another if a situation may arise.

Disappointed at being unable to exercise our bragging rights in this area of parenting, we bid him adieu after managing to lend our ear with a smiles and nods.

On our way back, I find myself questioning my ‘unambitious’ parenting ways.

Little Princess has learnt to snort.

Sid rants on about his new find – ‘Monday with the Mad Genius’ – a fact finder about Leonardo da Vinci. The ‘Salvator Mundi’ that was sold for $450.3 million has piqued his interest.

Questions and doubts that build up into a full-fledged quiz about his newly acquired knowledge ensues, leaving me fumbling and scrabbling at Google’s doorstep.

My son may be far from the mad rush of competition where children are dragged from pillar to post perfecting every task among the endless ones on offer, but I am glad that I find myself in this blissful scrabbling mess as Sid embraces childhood at his own pace – one fact finder at a time.

 

 

Navigating the Parenting Labyrinth

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'Do you feel dominated by your mother?'

It is 9 PM on a school night. I peep into Sid’s room where peace and quiet has reigned beyond safety limits.

A quiet room with both my children inside it is the perfect recipe for disaster.

Disaster this time is a room that had transformed itself into a kabadiwala’s (junk dealer) warehouse with my distressed-looking son in its midst. Little Princess is creating another piece of art that should perfect the warehouse look.

“My Hindi project that has to be submitted tomorrow is missing,” he manages between tears.

When my phone had gone missing, I had spent the morning combing every corner of our home. The husband and Sid had managed to track it down to my handbag using iCloud.

It is a pity that iCloud will not help him track his project that had been painstakingly completed but misplaced due to his disorganized ways.

“You can start over. NOW.,” I say in my wagging-finger firm tone.

“But I remember keeping it with the Five-Star in the clear folder,” he explains.

“You have 12 hours left. Start over. Now. Now. Now,” I repeat like a broken tape recorder.

His tear-stained, sleepy eyes tug at my heart strings but this will be his lesson in organizing his ways.

Studies have shown that nagging mothers raise successful children and my son will gladly agree than I will be stiff competition for my Indian counterparts in the ‘nagging’ category.

The mention of Five-Star gets Little Princesses attention.

“I want Five Star. Now,” she concludes.

“A Five Star after your teeth have been brushed clean can turn creepy crawly germs into party animals that will spend the night feasting and digging wells in them,” I explain in my sweetest tone.

Nagging variations are improvised based on the situation, mood, age and place of occurrence.

“I want….,” she cries as I sense the beginning of a tantrum.

“Lets go find teddy and put you both to sleep,” I conclude firm on my decision as she seems to be on hers.

As authoritative parents who are willing to understand and reason with our children while firmly adhering to positive reinforcement and discipline, ‘No’ is a word in our parental dictionary that we sometimes use without actually saying the word.

 

Sid brandishes his marked and completed Hindi project the next evening.

“I did it better the second time,” he rejoices.

As of now, I know I have rented a space in his head with my firm tone and wagging-finger Mommy look for at least the next few weeks until he gets back to his disorganized ways.

“Self help is the best help,”,” I explain as he makes a hasty exit sparing himself the self-help lecture that I wish to impart.

I make a mental note to learn the use of iCloud in tracing my phone that does disappearing acts when I need it the most or my son will team up with the husband and I might find myself at the receiving end of the self-help lecture!

 

Counting my Blessings and Sharing Some

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On a recent day, a big plastic donation bag that had ‘Clothes for Compassion’ printed on it accompanied the day’s newspaper.

I embarked on the task of combing through the clothes that were put away.

Some were a delightful find as they tickled a long-lost memory, some were the privileged firsts and the others were a jab on my self esteem reminding me of the hopes that I harbored of fitting into them some day.

Suddenly, the sentiments attached to every piece of clothing superseded the need to warm a lesser fortunate person this winter.

A friend whom I visited recently had transformed her home into a museum dedicated to the many accolades and pieces of memory that celebrated her only daughter’s childhood – complete with the dates inscribed behind them.

Basking in the sun in her balcony was her daughter’s first potty chair with a tomato plant growing out of it.

It made me wonder if a harvest of tomatoes from the plant would relieve fond memories of the mornings that her daughter spent emptying her bowels on the sanitary throne.

So I politely took a rain check on her invitation to stay back for lunch.

As Mother considered her sole purpose on the Earth as cooking up delicacies for her family, decluttering was a hobby she picked up during our growing years when the many priced possessions that lay gathering dust exceeded the things that were actually in use.

Choosing a deserving owner from the maid, the watchman, the guy who exchanged a big bundle of clothes for a small steel vessel and the kabadiwala was a task she undertook during our absence.

Sharing is caring says Little Princess.

So, finding myself somewhere in between my friend and Mother, some precious memories and hopes have been (painstakingly) parted with, for these unused clothes will not only provide warmth to some less fortunate person this winter but may be a reason to light up someone’s face with a smile and create a beautiful memory once again!

 

 

The Internet of Cooking

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If cooking is art then Mother is my favorite artist.

Every dish that her magical hands whipped up acquired an ethereal grace that transcended even our gluttonous ways to appear beautiful.

When I left home, armed with a book detailing Mother’s recipes that could put Era Longhi’s grocery list to shame, I assumed that Mother’s genes and the precious book were all that I needed to whip up a perfect meal.

Within three days of my cooking expedition, the smoke alarm cheered on my efforts – not once but thrice. The same recipe yielded a fresh new dish every time – the only constant was the burnt brown color.

Years of trials ( or blunders) and my not-so-smart kitchen have strengthened both my cooking abilities as well as the husband’s digestive system.

In the kitchen of the future, cooking woes will go as far as toggling between applications on your phone that manage your smart kitchen appliances making it appear as if the Autobots and the Decepticons have ‘transformed’ their ways to whip up the perfect meal while you kick up your feet after a long day.

The camera in the oven will beam you live videos of the food that is cooking.

Your smart pan screams a warning if you have added more salt than recommended causing your hungry stomach to roll in panic but will soon uplift your spirits complimenting you with a “Marvelous” after you have flipped the pancake just right.

The smart refrigerator warns you about the expiring food inside it listing recipes conforming to your taste for the usage of the same.

As if all this is not spooky enough, experts are now working on aiding communication between these smart appliances.

If cooking is aimed higher than a boiling an egg then it is best recommended that kitchen novices work on strengthening their toggling skills for the shortest way to your partner’s heart is just a smart kitchen away!

Bottled Luxury

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Drinking water: Mountain Spring / Sparkle Creek / Garden Hose.

My maternal ancestral home stood on the fringes of a paddy field. The well in the backyard was the main source of water for the household.  Bountiful rain ensured a good supply of mineral-rich ground water that filtered through multiple layers of sand before it seeped onto the well’s surface. Grandmother’s kitchen was lined with pots of well water for consumption through the day.

Being the filter-water generation of kids, my cousins and I cringed when our eyes caught a stray leaf or specks of dead red ants in our glasses of water during our stay at our grandparents home.

The friendly old lady in the neighborhood once explained that the secret of her unfailing sight at the age of 70 were the ants that enriched her drinking water. When she lived to be a 101, we wondered if the frogs, roaches and rats that co-existed with her in her home were the untold secrets of her healthy existence.

Today, bottled water, like everything else on the grocery shelf, ranges from regular treated water that can just quench your thirst to the exotic designer brands that can elevate your social status.

Like the oxygenated water that claims to improve athletic performance and the rich burp that follows a good gulp is the value-added bonus.

If you wish to taste the freshness of the Arctic with your exotic dinner, there is the 150000-year-old melted iceberg water, bottled complete with the taste of snow. After all, depleting a few tonnes of iceberg is not much in the grand scheme of things.

If you are the doting spouse who forgot to pick up the diamond ring on your way to the celebratory birthday dinner, there is the Swarovski-studded bottled water that can give your partner glittering company and quench your parched throat until the ring makes an appearance.

If excess money is burning a hole in your pocket and luxury is on your mind, then an elegant mix of spring water from Fiji and France along with glacier water from Iceland laced with 5mg of 23-karat gold dust will be your perfect accompaniment to a lavish spread. Fanfare music will be the only thing missing when your taste buds are brought to life in the delight of its crisp, filling taste.

But if it is just thirst that you want to quench, then try the extensive range of treated water that comes in shapely plastic bottles available at your favorite supermarket!