Showing posts with label relationships. Show all posts
Showing posts with label relationships. 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?

Friday, January 8, 2010

That bittersweet chocolate called life

Since I was cruelly cut off from the joys of blogging last month, many a post that I had penned on the happenings in December didn't get its fair share under the blogosphere sun. Here's one such that I intended to post the day we got cut off, a snippet from some happy days spent in December:

Nikki and I have been having the time of our lives these last couple of days! My grandparents, Nikki's great grandparents, are in town and right about now life totally rocks! I've always been very close to my grandparents since they pretty much raised me when I was little, with both my parents away at work. Even though they lived far away from us, between the two of them they always made sure either one was at home with me, so that I didn't have to be alone with the maid. I'm sure it wasn't easy for them, shuttling between cities and managing two homes. Their youngest son, my uncle, also lived with them then and was a student, so they had to manage that bit as well.
Additionally my dad was in the Navy which meant frequent transfers were a way of life, but they were always there when I needed them. As a result, some of my fondest childhood memories are built around happy times spent with my grandpa and grandma.
Like learning to read with my grandpa which got me started on the never ending love affair with books. Or playing house with my grandma who went to great pains once to organize a doll's wedding for me replete with miniature puris and aloo bhaji for the dolls :)
Or my first day at kindergarten when I was howling for my Aajoba (grandfather in Marathi)and the teacher who didn't understand a word of Marathi (my dad was posted in a little coastal town in the South then) thought Aajoba meant mother in Marathi. I don't think my mom was very amused, when, a few weeks later the teacher addressed her as Aajoba at a parent-teacher interaction!

As I grew older and started spending more time in school, my grandparents started coming to stay with us less often. But I would meet them at least once a year during the summer vacations when either they would come to stay with us or we would go to the little army town where they lived with my uncle. Those summer vacations were the stuff dreams were made of. Apart from the full on pampering that my sister and I received large doses of, our grandparents also let us live our Enid Blytonian fantasies to the full by joining us in 'nature walks' (romps in the nearby park), organizing tea parties with the neighborhood kids and pretending not to notice when we would prowl around the house spying on other house guests, on an over dose of Five Find Outers or Secret Seven.

The annual trip to my grandparents remained a regular feature over the years, even though with time the duration of the visits grew shorter every year. With mounting work pressures and crazy schedules, it became difficult to fit in enough time for a long, langurous vacation at my grandparents but we still tried to squeeze in at least a weekend or two. But when I found out I was expecting Nikki even that became impossible what with my doctor's strict travel restrictions.
After Nikki's birth we decided we would take her for a visit to my grandparents' once she was three months old, and I started looking forward to the trip eagerly. But as luck would have it the swine flu wave hit hard just then and Nikki's pediatrician warned us against traveling with her, especially to far flung places where it would be difficult to get immediate medical attention. So we decided to postpone the trip to when Nikki was a little older. My grandparents were having none of it though and decided they had waited long enough to see their first great grand child. They took matters into their own hands and those who know my grandparents well, will tell you that when they do that there's not much one can do but give in quietly.
And so it was that early December saw a 90 year old great grandpa and an 84 year old great grandma get on a plane and travel halfway round the country to meet their great grand daughter.

I felt a surge of emotion when I saw my grandparents at the airport, they looked so frail and vulnerable emerging out of the airport even though my dad was right beside them, so lost among the throngs of people swarming around them. It had been some time since I'd met my grandparents and I was a little taken aback when I first saw them; Aaji (Marathi for grandmother) was bent over slightly with age and Aajoba looked much older than when I had last seen him. But all my anxieties were dispelled after we'd spent some time together, they were as full of life as ever! It's a testament to their superb fitness levels that even at this age my grandparents are supremely fit and can enjoy all the pleasures life has to offer; they don't have too many restrictions on food even though they eat light, they can read & write just as well as the rest of us, enjoy music and movies and my 90 year old Aajoba still wakes up at 5am every morning, like clockwork, for his 40 minute daily walk. It's like a virtuous circle; with all their faculties in the pink of health they enjoy life to the hilt, which in turn boosts their fitness levels.

Nikki took to them almost instantly, especially Aaji whom she greeted like a long lost friend before bounding into her lap where she stayed for the rest of their stay, choosing to give me the complete cold shoulder. Aaji took to feeding Nikki all her meals and even insisted on giving her a massage or two which she did with great adeptness. Aajoba would entertain her for long stretches of time, sitting with her in our little balcony and singing silly little ditties that would have her in raptures. I loved watching Nikki with them, feeling so blessed that she could spend so much time with people who were just overflowing with love for her. And it was so amazing to see how effortless they made the whole parenting thing seem; whether it was handling a minor bump or bruise, a feeding related frenzy or sleeping troubles, Aaji just breezed through it all, making it seem like a total cakewalk! She also had this wonderful repertoire of age old games that were a fantastic combination of fun & learning, and that Nikki thoroughly enjoyed.

And yet amongst all these slices of happiness I just couldn't help the occasional morbid thought that flitted in persistently as I watched my grandparents in the twilight of their lives. Was this going to be their last trip to my home? Would this be the last time they saw Nikki? When would they get to see her again? When would I get to see them again?
Thankfully I snapped out of this morose space soon enough to snap back to reality, where I was surrounded by so much love and happiness and decided that I was going to make the most of the here and now. I've also resolved that I'm going to try and ensure that Nikki gets to spend as much time with her great grandparents as possible, so we're going to see a return of at least some bit of that annual summer sojourn.
I've also been extremely trigger happy the past few days, with my digicam constantly appended to my right hand as I click snaps to the galore and make tons of videos to capture all the memories so I can show them to Nikki later or watch them myself a few days down the line, on a lonely winter afternoon when I feel a little bereft thinking of my grandparents thousands of miles away. In fact I think I'm going a little berserk with the picture taking coz Aaji just remarked that in this trip I've seen them more through the lens of the camera than through my own eyes.
So for now, I'm going to set the camera aside and just go and soak in the sun while I watch Aaji & Aajoba play with Nikki, and fawn over her every move even as they reminisce about my own childhood so may years ago and make it sound like it was only yesterday that I was a little girl myself. And as for all those precious moments that remain unshot by the camera, I'll just capture them in my heart.

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?