Monday, 27 February 2012

The three feet high knock.. :)

Bathing is a highly under-rated pleasure. Don't get your mind all wandering now. All I mean is the pleasure of peacefully cleansing yourself within a decent time-frame, undisturbed and undistracted. A few minutes of sopping out of the the accumulated grime and muscle tension is all I ask. And this could mean anywhere between 5 and 7 minutes. Anything in the double digits would just be a foolhardy extravagance! Especially if you are a mother, this pleasure is long denied and much appreciated. If you are a mother who feels otherwise, just stop reading here - because I begrudge you this indulgence ;)
My days go by in a typical whiff and a song. The kidlet has afternoon school - which means that my entire morning and mid-day is taken care of. Breakfast ,entertaining kid in the morning while supervising the help, getting her ready for school, and because by the time she leaves at 11, the day is already upon me - there are the dozen odd chores that I can just about manage to chortle into the interim 3 hours that she is away. Oh, and 45 minutes of these three hours are spent in commuting to her school to pick her up. If mornings are rushed, evenings are even more packed. There are classes to be taken to, birthday parties to attend, park -time to be supervised and last-minute groceries to be purchased. At the end of the day, most days, I feel like I've been pulled through a bramble bush backwards. Seriously. The feet are the most sullen, somedays my hair is also crackling in protest. Added to this, the child and me are usually by ourselves at this hour (husband travels much, comes home late etc.)- so I have the added responsibility of being delightfully educative and conversational when I would much rather be dipped in a huge hot tub of reviving blessed water - and some bath salts if it was not too much of an effort! Given the fact that I live in Mumbai, even if I had a bath tub in my house, there wouldn't be enough water to fill it with or even if there was - it would smell like a chlorine experiment, so I should stop dreaming now!
However a 5 minute balti-mug/sting under the shower bath should not be that difficult you would think. Gah! How wrong you are and how right Murphy was. This is how things pan out on most days.
Me : Baby, I'm going for a wash.
Kid : Ok, Mom. (She has already been plonked in front of the ever moronic 'Oggy and the Cockroaches' - Bad mother post - for another time)
Me : You sit there ok. I'll be out in 5 minutes.
Kid : Ok, Mom.
< I leave for the bathroom. Water has already been filled in the bucket. I'm afraid of the shower because between the sounds of the traffic, band-baaja-baarats outside and Oggy I can barely hear anything without having to compound it with the lull of streaming water, however nice that feels. I close the door, step out of my clothes and let the first flush of respite run down my face. My body is barely wet when....>
Kid : Mom..< I pretend not to hear>
Kid : Mo-aw-ohm
Me : Yes, baby, what happened.
Kid : Where are you? < This, when she is obviously standing right outside the bathroom door.
Me : I am in the bathroom.
Kid : What are you doing Mom?
Me : I'm taking a bath. I told you, na?
Kid : Mom. I need to do su-su.
Me : OK. I'll be out in a minute.
(Knock, knock, knock..the three feet high knocks from the other side of the door are continuous and ever urgent. There is no way of ignoring them)
I have no idea how I end my bath most days. All I know is that what I start as a relaxation routine typically turns on its head for me and I step out all hot and breathless most days. Ah, forget moisturisers, under-eye and hand creams I step right out from the car-wash to the mud pond if you know what I mean.
You know, while I was typing this I felt it may come across as such a minor gripe! But heart of hearts I really feel it is not. On those days - rare days - that I do get a few undisturbed minutes to myself - when I'm not being barged upon with neediness - I feel so much better equipped. To handle my self, my child and the cares of a family. And is that really too much to ask?

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Remembering Summers past.

And just like that, summer is here. Strangely enough the sound that slowly echoes summer to me comes from the ceiling fan! Yes, the slow moans suddenly give way to rapid whirrs and drown out not the quietude but the noise. For, me the onset of summer has always been associated with the suddenly fast fan :) And soon enough there would be the water cooler - and not that one which is associated with corporate offices nowadays. When I was growing up in a small little town in M.P. (incidentally now its become part of the truncated Naxalite Chattisgarh!!) water coolers would be stuffed with freshly dried grass called 'Khus' - I'm still not sure what sort of grass that was - but it had this beautiful soporific smell. The first blast from my water cooler could literally send me to wonderland! There is something about air-conditioning which can never quite compare.
There I am, at maybe age eight, airing myself out in maybe just a shameeze - that muslin cloth under-thing that covered me yet left me light. Those days these shameezes came with something called 'shadow-work' embroidery. There were pretty criss-cross patterns of birds and flowers peeping from under the cloth - if I close my eyes now - I can still see them! I am almost a 100% sure that my mother would not allow me out in such attire, but I have this really vague memory of being happiest when I was with my birds, dressed such.
Summers were these huge vast wastelands of time - and memory does not serve me well on the heat. I do not remember it. I just remember the whiteness. The entire landscape would turn many shades pale. The grass would dry and be prickly to naked feet. There would be unnamed fruits which would shed long stamens with pretty dried flower heads. The guava trees would be white - have you ever noticed the white limbs of a guava tree, puckered and covered with scabs of bark? I have. There used to be this particular tree (yes, there were many!) right next to my bedroom which I favoured above all. I knew all its limbs well, knew which foot to put where, the forks of the branches where I could rest. Shielded from the world. Sometimes the wind would carry across voices to me. But in summers it would be mostly still. The land behind our home would be barren, whatever crop that had been yielded, cut to earth, drying out the leftover chaff.
But there were the Gulmohars. And the few resilient bougainvillea - these collected dust, their veins dried, tired and gray - paper thin. But the Gulmohars were gorgeous - succulent petals - which tasted khatta - yes I ate them sometimes! Drops of breathless living red in an ocean of white and dusty brown.
For me the memories of summers spent in this particular home will always be about the smells and sounds and how things felt. It was a vast home - a British era bungalow, flanked on all sides with vast tracts of land. Things were bent and crooked, as things of a certain vintage are. Maybe I gloss over how the canvas false ceiling would threaten to upend under the pull of the giant swirling fan; how there were mosquitoes and macchar-daanis had turned yellow with overuse. Maybe I forget how stifling the slow movement of time was, how inane getting the water boiled in a copper boiler could be. What I do remember is the red-concrete floor with its unevenness, the mosaic floors which had pictures hidden inside which only a child could find -scratches that I had by-hearted. I remember the curtains that had to be pulled up from the floor to be put down only after poncha was done, the wooden columns of the showcase, the cane chairs - long bleached, and painted over green and then white with only their frayed feet letting on their truth. I remember Holi. Oh! Very much. A slow gaggle would start at our gate and then slowly wind down the lane collecting people and songs as it went. I remember the gulal streaked pathway - pink on red earth.
And there I leave it for now, my reminiscences of a much loved past :)

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Me love for the short month :)

Well, the pretty month is here. I really don't know why february doesn't get as much attention as it deserves. It is such a beautiful month really - of all months it is the shortest - just flits by without becoming too much of a bore. And even though it is silly season for some (Valentine's day, ahem!) it is a lovely time of weather too - for us in India. Winter is more or less abating, its neither too hot or too cold. Mornings still have that nip and the sunshine is promising and not yet bearing down on you.
February also happens to be the time of all things festival - and I do not mean the religious variety. Not withstanding the shenanigans of the JLF, there are other smaller and throbbing with enthusiasm city festivals like the Kala Ghoda Arts festival - which has something for everybody in it!! And I really miss going to the Surajkund arts and crafts mela at this time of the year...
Anyhow, this year, like the last few years I took the kidlet along with me for the Kala Ghoda festival on one of the first days..infact it was the day after they had commenced and things were still being set up, there were not too many people around (compared to the last day when it looked like Victoria Terminus at peak hour!). And, we were able to make a pleasant afternoon out of it, we spent time investigating the art installations - and I was amazed at how much a four year old can understand - my lil one totally impressed me with her understanding of the installations about noise pollution. Though she totally missed the point of a very clever installation called 'Under the Table' - and just as well! We ended the afternoon with a some 'chaat' very pleasant it was :) Yes, now you understand why the love for this small little baby month. I am totally inspired to take the kid to more such nice places (art galleries , museums and such ) - keeping it short and uncomplicated is the key - and the fact that now she is able to understand and articulate so much - I am really enjoying these little trips with her!
The other two cool things (cool in my book!) I did last month were taking out some much needed alone time to do some things that really invigorated me mind and heart. Went to watch 'Vagina Monologues' with a friend - and it was all that it is made out to be and more! What a lovely lovely show - and what a fantastic time I had - especially since I was with a friend and there was not a baby in sight! The other little me time I got was when I went off on quite a whim and the husband's blessings to attend a talk by authors at Kala Ghoda. Its been almost 10 years since I had been to something like this - and I really enjoyed the almost collegial atmosphere of the event. Baby steps, I say - time for Mama to come out of her, cocoon, eh?
Yes, bring it on february, I write my ode to you. I am ready to savour every promise you make, even if it just has to melt in my mouth :)
Poetic aren't we? Hope you have a lovely lovely time too!