Sneaking Out

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It was past 2AM, Minie slowly crept out of the bed, quickly stuffed her bag, winked at herself one last time in the mirror and started climbing down the stairs. She had been planning this escape since two days so silently and quickly, she walked past the living room and turned towards the kitchen to jump out of the kitchen window.  She slowly opened the hatch and just as she climbed onto the kitchen counter, her dad quietly said, “Something tells me you are not sleep walking Minie!” She jumped up like a scared kitten and almost fell off the counter.

With no remorse but a goofy smile and mischief in her eyes, Minie turned around and faced her father, “ummm… well dad, I was practicing sneaking out of the house, like they show in the movies!!! I wanted to see if I can manage without waking you guys up. But clearly, I failed.”

Namit replied, “You want me to believe that you are not running away but just practicing. Come on Minie! I’m your dad, give me some credit for wisdom that comes from age, if not for brains.”

“Seriously dad, you can check my bag,” she opened and showed her bag pack, it was stuffed with crumpled newspaper.  Namit just couldn’t help but laugh at that. He pulled out an ice-cream tub from the fridge and father and daughter sat at the counter having ice-cream at 2AM.

“Please don’t tell this to Mom, she will freak out.”

Namit said, “you know that’s not the rule, we never hide anything from each other. In fact, if you were doing this experiment, you should have given us a heads up – ‘Hey mom-dad, I am going to do a movie-style experiment one of these days so please don’t freak out. Once it’s over I will give you the details.’

Minie nodded her head at her father’s logic and said, “Next time, definitely. By the way Paa, how did you wake up, I was extremely quiet, didn’t switch on a single light and nor did I jingle any of wind-chimes on my way down.”

Now it was Namit’s turn to look sheepish and goofy, “Well! I, umm, I modified your old baby monitor and made it into a security device which alerts me of smallest of movements in your room. I only activate it at night and it was meant only to alert us of any intruder in your room.” Minie’s mouth was wide open.

Namit closed it and continued, “So tonight it beeped for the first time and it took me sometime to realize that it’s the security device beeping. By the time I got out of my room, I saw your silhouette inching down the stairs. So I just followed you and waited for the right moment to surprise you!”

Minie couldn’t help but laugh and admire her father’s ingenuity. With the ice-cream polished away, they both went up to their rooms with the promise that they’ll tell the full-story (with all the theatrics) to Mom tomorrow.

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Burning the candle called “Nostalgia”

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My first memory as a living being is a very very faint one, in fact, it’s more like a feeling than a memory – I think I vaguely remember holding my younger sister for the first time. I was a little over 1.5 years old and I have this feeling that when I held her for the first time, I was immensely happy and even more curious, waiting for the sleeping bundle to open her eyes.

For each phase of my growing up, in my mind, I have created these huge memory chests and whenever I’m homesick or low, I open these chests one by one and ensconce myself in this blanket of memories that I’ve woven with love and fun.

One of the biggest and my most favorite chest is the early childhood one. Growing up with a sister who is in the same age group as me was always full of fun games and petty fights. We two were always in a world of our own, always fighting but still inseparable. In school also, though we were one class apart, we did everything together, all my friends were her friends and her friends were mine. All our teachers also knew that we were sisters. In short, we two were a package deal.

I don’t think there’s a single corner in our house where we wouldn’t have played. We’d dance around in the puja room or there was telephone there so the fake telephone call game. Then at times, we’d jump around in the kitchen or squish in the tiny window seat there and just talk nonsense or go to the attic and make up some games. Most evenings we’d just run around on the terrace chasing each other or playing thikri-dav or riding our tricycle (riding was more like me bullying my sister – I was taller than her, so if she wanted to ride, I’d just lift up the tricycle and never let her ride).

Just like all kids, despite our numerous toys and games, we’d want to play with the stuff growns up use. So our mom use to deliberately leave her talcum powder on the dressing table (everything else was under lock and key). We’d use her old duppattas and put powder and play fashion-show, fashion-show. Or we’d create our own houses from those duppattas and play neighbor-neighbor.

On rainy days we’d simply sit at the window making up hero-heroine chase stories with raindrops or sing the rainy day song “aav re varsad” at the top of our voices till mumma came in and shushed us J

There is a lot more in this treasure trove of memories and every time that I’ve taken this trip down memory lane, I’ve come back to present day desperately missing those simpler times.

That being said, nostalgia is like a candle that we should burn only when there’s darkness. If we keep re-living those days in the hope of capturing them again then we are just setting ourselves up for a huge disappointment. It’s a candle’s fate to burn out some day and when that day comes, you will find yourself lost in darkness where you won’t have enough family or friends to help pull you out because while you were busy living in yesterday, everyone present today was busy going ahead.

And that’s why, while I still try to capture the past when I meet my sister, I have learnt to have fun on my own too. When I’m by myself in the house, I dance like crazy on some random songs (sometimes even without any music). Or when I’m at the gym, I think of silly silly things that I can do with my sister or my husband (most of the women in my gym think I’m crazy because most of the time I’m starring in the mirror and smiling at myself). Most weekends, my husband and I, we play silly games and laugh like children over small small things. Sometimes, I call over all the kids in my neighborhood and we play cards or color/color or all sorts of kiddie games.

Among the many vows I’ve taken in life and all new-year resolutions I’ve taken so far, I can proudly say that I’ve stuck to one of them – playing all kinds of games and laughing over silly things. I’d like to play more often but being a grown up (by my birth date I am one but one can debate its accuracy till kingdom come:)), I can’t just act like a kid all the time.

Riding the happy wave

Riding the happy waVE

I’ve read very often and been told as well that when you get married, you change over time. The initial newness and excitement carries you over the first few years in one happy wave but things change, people around you change and of course you also change. This change happens even faster in a love marriage because the process of discovering your partner, who he is and what he likes is already halfway done since you knew each other before marriage. I’ve known my husband for 9 years now – first friends, then in a relationship and then married. And of course, we have changed a little over time, with responsibilities and other pressures but one thing that hasn’t changed is the happy wave we’re in. Don’t get me wrong, like any normal graph, there are crests and troughs in ours too but the trend line is going upwards only. The reason, which I discovered unintentionally and innocuously, for this is very simple.

We had gone to see fast and furious 7. The theater wasn’t full but the rows around us were. As usual, I got all emotional and weepy when the last scene came and the movie was paying homage to Paul Walker. It was the scene at the beach when everyone’s serious and Vin Diesel is saying: “We don’t say good bye to family”. I am about to drop a few big fat tears when my husband quietly whispers in my ear, “We don’t say goodbye to family, we say AAVJO.”  I just burst out laughing and the whole crowd around me is irritated and appalled at this (apparently!) grown woman giggling like a child in the middle of a dead-serious moment. We both were still laughing about this as we walked out of the theater and the mall.

I’ll never forget that moment not just because of the epic dialogue from my husband but mainly because it made me realize that no matter what we go through or what we become in future, one thing will remain a constant, seeing me sad (whether its because of a movie or our fight or whatever) he will leave everything else and try and make me smile. And seeing him sad, I will do anything to bring a smile to his face (agreed, I don’t have a sense of humor like his, but will try, even if its just a cliched thing like showing him a funny video).

Our happy wave continues because, instead of remembering our differences everyday, we try to bring a smile to each other’s face. I hope this continues in future as well, no matter how we change or what we go through.

Home

home

Its been 12 years since I have left my parents’ house (5 of which I have been blissfully married) but in my mind my home has always been here. And its because my mom’s abundant love (in the form of hugs, kisses, cooking, shopping, etc.) and care are here and my dad’s resilient support and faith are here.

Coincidentally, my parents’ apartment building’s name is Paradise and it is indeed one, where I feel very peaceful because of two reasons – a) here I function on auto-pilot, I don’t have to plan anything or worry about what to do next. My mom’s established routine, the familiarity of her ways and the fact that I don’t have any responsibilities or any household decisions to make here, just lifts an invisible burden off my mind; b) it brings back so many memories of childhood that in its throes, I forget to worry about my work or other commitments.

Last week, my husband was here visiting my parents. One afternoon we were sitting inside my room and I just turned around and told him that my dad’s back from office and he surprisingly asked how I knew. I told him that I heard his keys jingle in the hallway. My husband teasingly said, “At times, when I speak to you standing right next to you, you fail to hear but this faint jingle, you heard!” And to that, I replied with a broad smile, “instinct that is born out of years practice, put in so many years and see how I read you darling!” 😉

During school days, I remember, me and my sister, we used to eagerly wait for that jingle and though we knew my parents had the keys, we used to run to open the door. And there were times when we were making a mess of the house, so we used to keenly watch out for the jingle so that we could run and fix things before getting caught 🙂

For me coming home is this happy cackle of extremely loud talking and even louder laughter filled with lots of reminiscing. And over the years, coming home involves a lot of long talks with mum – shopping with her, learning a bit of cooking from her, a bit of gossiping, and lot of heart-to-hearts.

As I head back to my other home (the one I strive to make like this one – full of love and warmth), I pack my bags with a heavy heart but also with the hope that someday when my parents come to my home, they will feel like they’ve come to “Paradise”.

Cheers to greener pastures!!!

green grass

There is something to be said about living with a careless abandon. During one of our everything-under-the-sky chats, my colleague mentioned living like a nomad and that one comment brought an onslaught of memories from my days of living like a nomad.

My so-called nomadic exploits began with my shift to Mumbai for my graduation. Ofcourse I wasn’t a nomad in the correct sense of the word but more like a carefree girl with little responsibilities and no home cooked food. 🙂

Greater part of my graduation days were spent in living in dump in a government hostel and it was more Dharavi-style than nomadic. However, rat infestations and cat dumps aside, Mumbai was my first venture out of my safety cocoon at home. The first year was filled with my baby-steps into this “careless abandon”. The responsible nerd in me was slowly being replaced by a girly, gossipy, college girl who was loving the hustle and bustle of a big city. Over the 3 years, as I shifted homes, hostels, and friends, I realized I am not the trinket collecting types. I collected memories, both good and bad. I collected lots of life lessons by stumbling head-first into troubles and also by leading people out of some.

The second-phase of my nomadic lifestyle came when I joined work after my MBA. I was once again back in Mumbai and this time, (supposedly) more wise. Now I had my own money to splurge and splurge I did, big time – dinner parties, movies, concerts, plays, shopping sprees and some memorable trips with friends.

My time in Mumbai meant never having to worry about cooking or cleaning the house or not having to worry about anyone/anything. Given that I met my husband during my MBA and that we were slated to tie the knot soon, my careless abandon phase came to an end and I moved on to greener pastures :).

My time in Mumbai probably seemed very appealing and I appreciated that phase of my life because that time had an expiration date. If it would have been my state of affairs till eternity then I would have probably spent my life pining for the married-status. You see, grass is always greener on the other side.

Having crossed over to the greener side, I sometimes look over at the other side and wonder was that greener or is this greener? I couldn’t answer that question with a 100% certainty until today. I think it is not the grass that changes color, it is me who is coloring the grass greener with my exploits and intentions.  And no matter which side I am on, if I choose, I can surely color it greener right where I am standing.

Thanks VK for helping me realize this :).

Sappy and Predictable Endings!

happy ending

What’s with happy endings. Right from the start of every movie and every book, I know that in the end everything is going to be alright but still I get upset when the characters go through a bad patch and I get equally (some people would argue even more) excited as the characters when the happy ending comes.

Even though I know that every movie or book is going to have one of the standard endings – Boy-girl fall in love, then some fights, ego struggles and the in the end some major epiphany from the protagonists and alls well OR hero chasing some criminals, meets his gal under cover, fights off the hooligans, saves the damsel in distress and on the way realizes his love for her and as end credits roll in he’s driving away with the pretty lady in a nice car.

No matter what the story (read cliche), I go through the entire journey of the characters, their ups and downs and I savor the happy ending and most of the times, I come out of the movie theater with tears in my eyes.

I guess, in the end, happy endings, no matter how ever unbelievable, just make me feel good about life and add fuel to my ever-filmy imagination 🙂

There is happy and then there is happiest

happinessHappy is when I sit at my window and see the rain falling against it
Happiest is when I go out and dance in that rain

Happy is when I login at office and see that I do not have much work for the day
Happiest is when I login at office and see a congratulatory/appreciation mail

Happy is when I get the recipe right in the first time
Happiest is when I get the food to taste like my mum’s

Happy is when I finish all the dishes and the kitchen sink looks clean
Happiest is when I look at my sink and its clean since my husband did the dishes

Happy is when I get a quiet weekend with just my books and movies
Happiest is when that quiet weekend does not involve even a smidgeon of household work

Happy is when I do something nice for someone
Happiest is when that nice thing makes that person genuinely happy

Happy is when I call my family/friends to catch-up
Happiest is when someone remembers me for no reason and calls to catch up

Happy is when I look at all my childhood pictures of me and my sister
Happiest will be when I get that one day to spend with her looking through all our pictures together

Happy is when I look at all the likes and comments I get on my pictures/posts
Happiest will be when I’ll be able to stop looking for other people’s approval and accept myself for what I am

Happy is when I kneel down to pray to God and wish for all good things for my family
Happiest will be when I can learn to pray without any wishing/asking for anything from Him

Happy  is when I live up to the stated expectations of being a daughter, sister, wife, and daughter-in-law
Happiest will be when I understand their wishes/expectations without them saying anything and live  up to them