‘Tis the Season …

… to be jolly! Fa la lala¬†laa la la la la. Christmas really gets me all festive. I find myself humming carols through the day and generally feeling very upbeat. And now with kids at home, it’s all the more fun coz Santa’s coming to town!

Two December’s ago, when K was 4 years old, Santa got her a pair of lovely Barbie roller skates. Since then she has been convinced that he can read her mind and will get her exactly what she’s hoping for! Makes my job tougher as I have to keep asking subtle questions about the secret Santa gift and then try to fulfill the request. Sometimes I fumble and say something like, “go get those skates I got for your last year” and she will immediately correct me. “Santa gave me those!”. Sigh. But what’s childhood without these little white lies and a kid full of excitement and joy, right Virginia?

So this year too, two weeks to Christmas and our little tree is up in a corner of the living room. K has hung the tiny decorations and V watches curiously as the lights go on and off. This is her second Christmas so a little too early to worry about whether she’s been naughty or nice. Santa wont skip her for the world. ūüôā Though K does have a different view -” V’s been quite naughty this year. I wonder if Santa will get her something. Don’t worry Mamma, I’ll share my gift.” Moments that make motherhood so worth the while!

Evenings carols resonate through the house, either K & I singing full blast or the CD player or both. And thankfully our apartment complex gets as pepped us as me about Christmas. So we had a bunch of kids singing carols on each floor. And V made me carry her and follow them from floor to floor. She just couldnt figure out what they were upto. One dude with a guitar and all these kids singing. There must be some chocolate at the end of this, she must have thought.

And tomorrow is the Christmas Carnival – a full day affair with stalls and rides and games. The grand finale is a skit where K plays an angel. An angel that has been religiously attending practice every evening, no matter how tired she is. (There’s that love for the stage again!)

So wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and hope Santa fills your stockings with all sorts of goodies. And now this Santa will run off to buy some goodies for home.

Leaving you with a pic of the lovely tree at my workplace, which is on a floor above a popular mall.

Left Right Left

I was so caught up in the logistics of the entire event that I kind of forgot about the event itself. Till a tidal wave of nostalgia hit me.

It was my six-year-old K’s annual Sports Day at school. The athlete in her has not yet surfaced (yes, I¬†am hoping it does one day)¬†so she was participating only in the mass drill set for all junior kids. My mind was completely pre-occupied in planning to reach the school on time, arrange a car drop¬†and pickup for little V to her playschool, managing a classmate’s mom tagging along, coordinating the early pick-up after half-day sports etc. As things fell into place and I walked onto their athletics field, it hit me.

One, the sheer size of the field. Two, and more importantly, images of my those years of school sports days flooded my mind. And I was not just remembering moments, I was clearly visualising each one of them as though in a parallel world I was transported back to my school ground. Incidentally it is only a twenty-minute ride away and I cross it daily on my way back from work.

The images felt so real. Walking down the long path leading to the field, happy to be missing a few classes in the name of sports practice. Hours of striving for perfection in the march past. My teacher was an army colonel in disguise¬†I¬†was convinced. Standing perfectly still, waiting for the march past¬†to begin and desperately¬†wanting to scratch the itch on my calf thanks to hovering mosquitos. Pulling up our socks, stretching them till they gave up so that less skin was available for above mentioned mosquito. Being in the Red House that always came last on Sports Day and was hence condemned to be the fourth and last group in the march past. The ignominy meant more time in the mosquito corner. The freshly laid out¬† tracks with pure white chalk powder. Punishing hours in the hot sun, mastering the drill routine. Watching those who could really run, run. The big day and the all important ‘Eyes Right!’ that allowed us to scour the stands for a glimpse of our parents. The games declared open and balloons, just a few, released into the sky.¬†Back to the pavilion to cheer your house towards greater glory. Never worked for mine. ‘East or West’ my house is the best! Repeated again and again and again.

It all came back to me. And it all played out again in front of me. The same oath. The same chants. The same drill. The only addition was a mind-blowing display of yoga. We have moved forward in time to realise the value of ancient art forms.

Will her kids also do the same things I wondered. It suddenly felt as though this was a routine cast in stone. How could anyone dare to change it. How could they think they could better it.

Finally it came down to the basics. Kids running. As fast as they could. As best they could. Hoping and praying they crossed the finish line and brought glory to their House.

I wish more parents stopped looking down into their phones and looked up at their past. As it played itself out right in front of their eyes. Eyes Right.

Gift of Time

Ten years.¬†That’s a really long time. Or is it?

Ten years ago….

I was a young girl in love desperately trying to convince my parents to accept my choice. It was a long hard battle but finally both sides emerged victorious. My parents had the humility and generosity to say that they are not giving in but accepting and celebrating my choice. This gesture set the tone for all the new relationships that were being forged. My in-laws accepted me with such open arms that I continue to be thankful.

So, yes it is a marriage of two families in this country. But finally it comes down to the two of us. And I am truly blessed to have had the rollercoaster ride that the last ten years have been. As a young college student how did I know that this man was the one? And how did I get it so right? My first and only love.

Together we have set up home in five different places, each time starting anew with new hopes and dreams. Some homes brought us great joy and success, some not so much. But at each instance we stuck together and fought our battles together.

Over the years, with the arrivals of our two angels, so many things seemed to fill the space between us. So this year, as a toast to our tenth one together, we gave each other the gift of time. A day off from the routine. No baby bags, no work related calls on the go, no watch ticking away saying times up.

It’s so comforting that we could just spend the day with each other and have so much to say, so much we want to do together, so many comfortable silences. Shopping, a relaxed cup of coffee, more shopping, a leisurely lunch by the poolside of a classy restaurant, a movie with popcorn and coke, a tired drive back home to our welcoming angels.

I think we really needed this. To recharge ourselves for the next ten, then next twenty and so on and so forth.

We should really do this more often, he says. I silently nod and smile.

So no diamonds or gold or gadgets or exotic trips…. just a simple gift of time.

Here’s to 10 years and many many more, my love!

And the journey begins…

My little girl has been shown the golden path to enlightenment! Or in other words, she has started play-school today ūüôā

So while I did my homework on the various options around home, I finally went with the place that matched most of my requirements and also my gut feel. It’s close to home, the timings are convenient, the place is homely and the lady running it gives you a feeling of warmth and sincerity. She’s also not charging exorbitant fees like some of the chain schools do nowadays.

On Day 1, Momma and big sister accompanied little V to the school. The entire family has been excitedly telling V all weekend that she will be going to school. For V, till now, school means just the bus-stop to drop or pic-up K. So the look on her face is clearly asking what the fuss is all about. This morning she was a cool customer Рbathed and dressed and accessorised! (Big sister lovingly handed-down her old favourite little doggie shaped bag for V to take her snack box!). I bet she was thinking that Christmas has come early this year. Why else are Momma and Didi willingly taking me out somewhere instead of scurrying off to office and school.

She’s the youngest in the class of 12 kids by a whole six months. Thankfully the owner/teacher is willing to have her so early. We just want to give her a couple of hours with kids and also as a very valuable side-benefit – give grandfolks some breathing time from babysitting.

Like a kid in a candy shop V explored the room full of educational toys at her whim and fancy. She was also keenly observing each of the other kids – watching their routines and sometimes emulating. It’s amazing how quickly they pick up what’s acceptable or expected behaviour from the group.

An hour into playtime her body clock reminded her that it was time for her daily 10am snooze. Just as she was trying to convince Momma to give her a bit of milk and rock her to sleep, she was distracted by the colourful slide and see-saws. That’s always more fun than sleep!

 

After another hour, the triumphant trio of Momma, K and V declared day one of school a huge success and started on the victory march back home.

It’s exciting… yet a tinge of sadness…they grow up way too fast and the world around them is changing even faster. There’s only one way to keep up and that’s by setting off on the journey of life and learning as soon as one can.

Full House

So after a week of doing nothing in Goa, we moved on to week two, a week that was to be a complete contrast to the idle days of sun and sea.

It started with an overnight train journey to my hometown. Once upon a time I used to love train journeys, especially when we moved from the economical wooden plank sleeper class to the comfy confines of an AC coach. I don’t¬†remember exactly when this subtle upgrade in bookings started but it’s difficult to reverse it now. There’s always some¬†convenient excuse – too hot, too noisy, maybe it will rain and we’ll get leaky windows! But off-late, AC coaches have been my nemesis. Am surely allergic to the blankets or the sheets or just the air! I invariably leave the train with a stuffy nose and mild fever. Anyway, it’s for the kids,¬†I¬†told myself and hoped for an uneventful journey (last time K developed an ear infection and howled the whole night!). Luckily the girls slept¬†peacefully and I could hear the hubby snoring on the upper berth. I spent an uncomfortably cold night shuttling between K’s berth and V’s berth. It was way too cold in there.

The morning brought in my 35th birthday which eventually the clan remembered ūüôā

The next few days were a cacophony of aunts, uncles, cousins, cousins’ kids. And the brilliance of the concept of ‘joint family’ dawned on me again. The kids took care of each other. They ate together, played together, slept together. They didn’t miss TV and most definitely didnt get bored. Ofcourse for kids these days, games dont always involve significant movement of hands and legs… they sometimes involve some very Angry Birds!

The old wooden swing was installed. In its hey-dey and even today, the ten feet by four feet beast could host at minimum a dozen of us – sitting, standing, screaming. K and V (on my lap) loved it!

There’s something wonderful about sitting up late into the night with family, chatting about the good ‘ol days. An aunt or uncle or sometimes both simultaneously, is always willing to dig out old stories, anecdotes of small incidents made huge (with an generous sprinkle of masala!).

So after week one where the four of us were confined to each other, week two was all about going our own ways and enjoying the comforts of a full house. Ying and Yang.

Holiday means Nothing

In order for someone to be your soul mate, your idea of a vacation must match. So I love that my dear husband and I agree that when we get some time off, we should simply do nothing.

It has now come to be that our holiday dates are decided by an another supreme authority Рthe school. I made it clear to my dearly beloved colleagues that when school shuts for two weeks, I would disappear for two weeks. My time with my girls. And two weeks at one destination is a little too much even for a bunch of lazy folks like us. So it was Goa for week one.

This time we had five full days to stretch, pull and drag around our laziness and inertia. What joy! And I chose the Park Hyatt as it is an outstanding property with a pristine private beach, large pools and most importantly a kiddie delight called Camp Hyatt. I simply love the facilities Рtoys, books, art and craft sessions, movies, games, etc. Cant expect a 6-year-old to stay idle for too long, so this is a real boon when the sun is too bright and hot outside.

So despite pre-trip resolutions to get out of the resort and see the ‘real’ Goa at least¬†once, we never did! Have saved the churches and flea markets and plantations for the next trip :-). This one was all about pure R&R. So we, especially the girls,were content with our set of activities – swimming in the pool, sliding into the pool on the water slide, rolling in the sand on the beach, collecting shells, hours under the bathroom¬†hand shower, jumping on the soft mattresses and pillows, eating, snoozing… bliss!

This was V’s first time on a beach… must have felt like an endless sandpit to her! Loved the way she set about exploring it on her own terms – feeling the wet sand, rolling in the dry sand, taking cautious baby steps into the water as the waves lashed against her tiny feet. Fearless, curious, adventurous.

K, the seasoned traveler, had packed her backpack with her favourite books, crayons, her ‘secret diary’, toys for V and some knickknacks¬†including her latest craze, Uno cards. As soon as we reached our room on Day 1, she declared the antique¬†style writing-table¬†to be her sole¬†property. All the contents of the bag were carefully placed in various drawers, mentally categorised¬†I¬†am sure. She loved sitting at the table writing little notes to herself¬†or us, doodling, playing games with imaginary friends – that corner was her world. She loved her Didi at the Camp – making shell cards, paper flowers and other colourful trinkets. But like the rest of us, most of her time was in the water! Except when Daddy was pretending to be a shark ūüôā

We all needed this precious time together, away from the daily routines. Father bonding with daughter, sister bonding with sister, Mother enjoying the view and the space. ūüôā

Next time will see some Goa. Promise.

My Annual High

One thing which excites T and me to no end is planning her birthday party. It starts as casual chats a few months in advance, just bouncing ideas off each other. Maybe this theme. Maybe that. Then about six weeks to the big day, we narrow down the wish list. I subtly knock off ideas which I know are near impossible to implement (‘how about an underwater world with dophins?!’)¬†or cartoon characters that I detest (sorry Mr.Bean and Powerpuff girls). We both firmly draw the line at anything overly girlie – no princess and fairies for us please. What will all the boys do?! Ok, once we partied with Dora. But she’s an explorer!

So finally Momma gets a month to get down to her creative, resourceful best. There’s no place like home and there’s nothing as much fun as home-made!

So I design the invitations and the Chief Guest proofreads and approves.

I put together a guest list and T adds a dozen ‘my best friend’ names.

I think of ways to decorate the room and T raises the bar each time.

I search high and low and online for interesting return gifts suiting our theme. She reserves one for herself. Sometimes two.

I suggest games we can play at the party. She adds the condition that she’s allowed to play and maybe even win. We agree that she should just handover the prize to the winner. But the games are special to us. Daddy is always our Games Host. T loves to have him in charge and regaling her friends and entertaining them with his made-for-the-occasion humour!

I put forth a menu. T doesn’t plan on wasting time eating. Sigh.

I pick out a couple of interesting cake designs and convince the bakery that they have the skills required to make it happen. T has ofcourse pre-approved the design.

I make the calls, mail the invites, tally the rsvps. T adds a few more ‘good friend’s to the list.

And this way, together T and I have partied with jungle animals, Dora, Chhota¬†Bheem and my personal favourite,¬†a Painting Party… where each artist was given a canvas, paints, brushes and all the room in the world for their imagination to run wild.

This year we have invited some Pirates. Much fun shall be had. As always. It is our annual pilgrimage together and my personal annual high. I sometimes wonder who has more fun – me or her. We are like ebony and ivory so the final outcome is some amazing music.

So Ahoy Mateys! See you on the other side.