Showing posts with label friends. Show all posts
Showing posts with label friends. Show all posts

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Of saying goodbye and savoring life's special stuff

We've spent the last two days hanging out with my sister, Nikki's C Paachi, who flies out to the US today for higher studies. While I restricted my goodbyes to a semi hug and a rather eloquent grunt in my characteristic expressive style, I'm sure C knows that we're all going to miss her lots. What makes this whole going away business a little better is that she's going to be back in under six months to get married (hurray!), an event everyone in the family is quite looking forward to. Nikki had a fun two days spending time with C Paachi and her grandparents which got me around to thinking about how important it is for kids to spend time with family growing up, to know that there are other loving, dependable adults they can confide in and look up to, apart from their parents. I'm hoping Nikki gets to spend a lot of time with close family as she grows up and have been making an effort to get together with family I have in and around town whenever I get the chance. It is specially fun and also a little touching to see Nikki bond and thoroughly enjoy herself with my little nephew R, who's a couple of years older than her. I have a photograph of C Paachi with R and Nikki in which C is holding Nikki and R is standing next to her. The snap beautifully captures R grinning mischievously at Nikki while she grins right back with an equally saucy, exhilarated expression on her little face, a testimony to the fun times they've shared. We're lucky that P also has a large extended family, with lots of kids close to Nikki's age and even though she was too small to really interact with them the last few times we met, I'm sure she'll enjoy her time with them as she grows older.

I shared these thoughts with P last evening as we drove back home after saying goodbye to C and we got around to talking about what we'd like Nikki to grow up with, the important stuff, the stuff that really matters. We were both agreed on the importance of family and close friends; I hope Nikki has a wonderful, loving set of friends she knows she can rely on and turn to anytime as she grows older. Growing up, we were always moving cities and I would often be the new girl in town or in school or in the park, the girl who was left out of birthday parties and sleepovers and movie nights because nobody knew her well enough yet. Sure I would settle in eventually, get to know people and make friends but it was always difficult those first few days when everybody was comfortable in their own little groups and you were the only outsider who didn't fit in any where. In retrospect though, I feel this has always made me appreciate my friends more and I am truly thankful today for the wonderful group of friends I have.

A love for books and reading is another thing I hope to pass on to Nikki, followed closely by a love for music. There is no greater joy than losing yourself in the wonderful world of a beloved book, retracing the adventures in an old favorite, the thrill you feel when you connect instantly with a new book or the quiet anticipation of an evening tucked up in bed with a mug of hot chocolate and a good book left half way. Except perhaps, the joy of waking up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee and the strains of a ballad by Richard Clayderman on a Sunday morning. Or some smooth jazz or perky funk beats on a Friday evening as you wait for dinner guests to arrive. Or the instant mood lift as you listen to an old favorite on a rainy afternoon or on a long drive back home. So Nikki gets a generous dose of  Floyd and U2 along with Wiggles Dorothy the Dinosaur and she seems to enjoy both equally well! Of course The Papa Man ensures that there's a generous dollop of 'Tere Liye' and 'Singh is King' thrown is as well and both those numbers have little Miss Nikki doing a vigorous shake-that-booty each time!

I am hoping to celebrate all of the major festivals in a big way now that Nikki is here. Before we had Nikki, festivals were equated with days off, a chance to get away from the stress and pressure of daily life but now I look forward to spending these special days in a leisurely manner with Nikki. Enjoying the beauty of colors on Holi, basking in the warmth of family and togetherness on Diwali, always a gala family event, discovering the magic of Santa Claus at Christmas, making modaks together for Ganesh Chaturthi and beautiful jhankis for Janmashtami. Festivals, also mean holidays and holidays are another important part of growing up happy! Long and lazy summer holidays, short winter breaks, even weekend getaways, I want to ensure we take some time out every now and then to get away from our regular routines and travel the world and spend time together, sometimes to meet new people and do different things, sometimes to just enjoy a slice of solitude.

Which brings to me to the importance of enjoying  your own company and being comfortable with yourself. That wonderful place where you know you can step out and have a great time over coffee with friends knowing equally well that you can go right back and have just as wonderful a time all by yourself. I hope I can teach Nikki that. Along with the power of dreaming big, beautiful dreams, believing in them without being afraid of failure and taking risks. Living the most exhilarating life and being the best person she possibly can be. And always knowing that two people, mom and dad, will always be there for her no matter what.

This list could go on and on so I thought maybe I'd leave it at this. Or maybe I'll keep coming back and adding to this if I feel I've missed out on something that really should be here. What about you though? What are those special things you know you want your children to grow up with?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Its party time baby!

"What a great weekend!" remarks P breezily as we down the Monday morning coffee. His remark is met with a stony silence and an icy glare. "Fun, food and bonding with friends!", he goes on, blissfully unaware of the stony s and the icy g. Did you have a good time too honey?" Bad question. Worse timing. He's still picking up the pieces that resulted from the emotional volcanic eruption that followed that innocuous remark.

Flashback to where it all began, a seemingly idyllic start to what promised to be a fun weekend. It also marked the start, at long last, to the revival of our dormant-since-baby social lives. Or so I thought. We had been invited to a dinner party (NOT a kiddy b'day party which is all we've been to since Nikki arrived) and we had happily accepted the invitation since it was conveniently located at our friends' home and not a noisy, smoky, baby- unfriendly location. Sob, Hard Rock Cafe I MISS YOU!
After a week of careful planning and preparation Nikki's weekend schedule was worked out and we were all set. We were going to take her along of course since no reliable baby-sitting options were available. The soiree being conveniently timed for the soir (har har) we thought it would be fairly easy since Nikki these days has been going to bed by 8pm and pretty much sleeping through the night...pause for UNHEX mantra chant....with just one feed required in between.
Nikki of course had other plans.

Saturday morning dawned bright and early and I set about Nikki's daily routine, cheered by the thought of the evening ahead. I had all the happy optimism of one who is blissfully unaware of that-which-lies-ahead. Especially when the future course of that-which-lies-ahead has been pre-decided by a willful 7.5 month old who has very clear ideas on how a Saturday evening will be spent. First of course, she refused to sleep all day grinding my fanciful notions of 'two naps that will leave her well rested for the night' into the dust beneath her little feet. Then she refused to feed properly burying my other fanciful notions of a well fed baby even further down. It was a scene set for disaster and I should've probably called it quits right away. Instead I got dressed for dinner. Hah. We arrived bright and early at the venue with some more fanciful (we would've learnt by now you'd think)plans of putting Nikks to bed at our friends', having managed a decent feed before leaving our own home. Nikki, having vanquished the sleep fairy and hung her out to dry all day was by now bouncing off the walls and would have none of this putting to bed business, and decided to make her displeasure known by bursting into heart rending howls. I quickly retreated to the guest bedroom and pulled out my standard bedtime bag of tricks. After about an hour of rocking,singing lullabies,and other permutations and combinations thereof after which Nikki seemed to become increasingly cranky I finally decided to feed her. And it worked! Except that the feed went on for one whole hour. In the meantime wafts of delicious rajma chawal and chilli chicken were making their way down the corridor and into the guest bedroom and I could hear my stomach growl. In all the frenzy of getting Nikki's routine sorted before the party I had forgotten to feed myself properly and was ready to munch on my friends nice looking pillows by now. The sounds of other people having fun and laughing was only adding to my misery. P was trying to help by smuggling in peanuts and chips but they only served to whet my appetite for the REAL stuff that I was missing, and by the time Nikki was done, my wallowing in self pity had reached its zenith. I finally emerged leaving a blissfully asleep Nikki in the darkened and sound proofed to the best of my ability guest bedroom and proceeded to join the party. My friend, the hostess, herself mother to a sprightly one year old, had done her share of night duty and could empathize with me. Though dinner was long gone she took pains to heat everything up for me again and make me comfortable. I had just about finished wolfing down the grub, when Nikki, sleeping fitfully after a day of hyper-activity decided that alarm bells needed to ring again. P & I took turns the rest of the evening rocking her to sleep and she finally fell into a deep sleep just minutes before we left. Which obviously meant that she was roused from slumber when we left and wide awake by the time we reached home. The night was a blur of feeding and desperately trying to make her sleep by the end of which my head was spinning like a top.
But the next day was Sunday, the day of rest, right? No siree! Coz this particular Sunday just happened to be the Sunday when we had invited friends over and a large number of them at that. The day passed in a blur of crazy preparation during which even I did not entertain any notions, fanciful or otherwise, of getting Nikki to rest. Tired by all this brouhaha Nikki decided to call it a day 15 minutes before the guests arrived. You know what happened next. I spent the next one and a half hours feeding and putting her to bed while P put on a solo act with our guests. The rest of the evening passed pleasantly enough but it was a long evening and when we were done, so was Nikki. With her sleep for the night. So it was a repeat performance of the previous night and Monday morning saw me looking like a dehydrated raccoon with all the lack of sleep and ensuing dark circles.

Which is why when P breezily remarked "what a great weekend!" as we sipped the morning coffee on Monday, it was met with a stony silence and an icy glare. He went on of course, blissfully unaware of the stony s and the icy g. But we've been through all that before haven't we?

Monday, October 12, 2009

The way we were

There's been a disturbing story in the newspapers recently about a family in Mumbai, in which the father held his wife and daughters captive in squalid conditions and regularly tortured them for reasons that defy logic or reason. What shocked me more than the story of this family itself, was the fact that none of the neighbors of this family, or other building or society residents had done anything to help the unfortunate family, even though several were in the know of what went on in their flat. Its a sign of the times we live in I guess, where all of us are so boxed into our own worlds and lives that we've stopped connecting with each other the way we used to. I'm as much a part of this as anyone else, though I like to think I've changed, or at least I'm trying to since Nikki's birth.

Pre baby our home was mostly an overnight pit stop as both of us clocked crazy hours in our mad run on the corporate treadmill. Our friends in the society we lived in were friends we knew from elsewhere, b-school or work or somewhere else, but nobody we'd made friends with just by virtue of living in the same building for almost four years. Or even on the same floor for that matter; our neighbors always seemed rather nice but nobody had the time to socialize. I remember returning home after a party one Saturday night to a loud and merry celebration emanating from the apartment opposite; it was their seven year old daughter's birthday and the party was on in full swing. P remarked wistfully about how, in his childhood home, it was unimaginable that a child would have a birthday and the next door neighbors wouldn't be invited.

It used to be like that when I was growing up too. My dad was in the Navy and spent several months at sea. Since mom also worked, my sister and I spent a large part of our growing up years at my mom's parents who lived in the same city. They lived in a shady, tree lined Mumbai suburb, in a little society with two five story buildings. Each building overlooked a little garden overflowing with Rajnigandha plants, a tiny pond and a rock garden, meticulously tended to by the society residents. Being a small society, everyone who lived there knew everyone else and over a period of time it had become like an extended, close- knit family. All the kids had formed one large gang and evenings were spent playing hopscotch or hide and seek. Often, the younger kids were coached in badminton or chess by the elder, more experienced lot. On weekends we'd be in and out of each others houses all day, as a result of which weekend meals were always a veritable smorgasbord of cuisines covering the length and breadth of the country. Breakfast with the ground floor Tam Brams, lunch with the Bengali music lovers and high tea with the nice Catholic family who brought Enid Blyton high teas to life! Oh and a quick stopover at our Maharashtrian neighbors to sample Aunty's weekly pickle. Festivals were always great fun with everyone coming together to celebrate in style. I have fond memories of Holi especially, when celebrations would start a full fortnight in advance with all of us meeting on the building terrace every evening to plan our Holi strategy. The end objective was destruction of the gangs of kids from neighboring societies and hours were spent every evening filling up water balloons and stocking up buckets and pichkaris. On Holi day itself it was understood that we would be out of the house all day battling it out and return only post dusk, weary soldiers. My mom never worried about all this, and this was a time when there no mobiles. It was understood that as long as we were with the society kids and within the building premises, we were taken care of. Even the building watchman Makkhan Ram (yes that really was his name!)was part of this large family, cursing at us good naturedly as we'd climb the solitary coconut tree next to his watchman's hut on weekend afternoons and pelt the roof with marbles.

I think life was just simpler back then. I can't imagine letting Nikki go unsupervised the entire day a few years from now, even when she's old enough to play by herself. In fact I think, no I'm convinced, I'm going to be one of those mums skulking in the playground bushes. The milieu I live in today is very very different of course. Though I like the society I live in very much, even with its many amenities it really doesn't make up for the fact that few people here really know each other. Most relationships are superfluous, transactional at best. I would love to bring Nikki up in the kind of environment I grew up in, with a web of close relationships and people who knew each other acting like a blanket of warmth and security, always at hand. Maybe for that I'll have to go back in time. Back to the days when the lack hi tech, fast paced lifestyles were more than made up by the warmth of close relationships and the simple pleasures of everyday life.