Tag Archives: parenting

Christmas Cheer!!

untitled-1Do you still have that little Santa which you cherish from old school days. That day when you saw the shiny shimmery decorations on the classroom Christmas tree…you found him lying below, string broken winking at you. You quietly picked it and tucked it in your school uniform pocket. On the way back in the school bus you kept feeling the pocket and waited for home to come soon. You cherished this little friend for a long time. Probably that was the only Christmas momento you always had cause nobody ever had a tree at home…it was just meant to be in schools in those days.

You looked forward for Christmas parties at school, waiting to get that ladybird book from Santa. Eat oily crispy chips and moist plum cake.

Each Christmas you looked forward to visit probably the only Catholic aunty in the neighborhood. The shiny star at her door hanging and throwing light through the patterns cut into it greeted everyone. This star always danced on the tunes of BoneyM and the Jacksons.This star gave hope that the new year is round the corner.

Each new year you looked forward to burn the old man stuffed with hay and old leftover diwali crackers. Wearing a Santa mask and your dad’s old shirt and trousers, all stitched up.

Bang at 12 midnight you lit up this old man and had a campfire with friends on that cold last night of the year.

Christmas has some very typical memories with many of us…but today with more access to things and blurring boundaries we all celebrate Christmas with all the fervor and money we have.

Today when i decorate my tree at home with my daughter…i have all the fancy decorations, lights and frost…but somewhere I remembered my little friend from my kindergarten…that little Santa winking at me….yes winking…the paint from the eye was missing.

vid_20161212_193752-1-iloveimg-compressed


Daddy Dear …

sketchpad14

Most have stories for their mommies, I do too, but today its about my Pappa, thoughts of him dancing all over me..

He is a person that pushed me always a little more, a little harder…

“No i cannot do it,” i yelled and papa stood below replying “ what rubbish chal chal, you can!”

I stood there all shivering in the Panchgani summer cold in front of the newly discovered crater on the extreme edge of Tableland, the famous plateau. Here I was trembling in fear in the cool breeze but papa never gave up. He made sure that i climbed down that plateau through that half burrow , suspended- in- air -hole. And finally when i did, i saw him smiling, that rare dimpled smile.

My bonding time with him were the Panchgani summer vacations; we had his full attention then. He always took the treacherous and difficult route to climb a hill, always a self made path and never the clean motorway or even, the horse trodden path. My invariable complaints were, “why can’t we go the correct way? The way which everyone takes, why take this dangerous route and i get all bruised?”

Shelu, my elder sister loved these adventures along with all my rough and tough cousins but it was me that shivered in my pants, always. I part grumbled and part moaned that we discovered a new route and as I always trailed behind, it was pappa that kept a close eye on me, and did he keep pushing me..

First time when I was learning how to drive he took me out on a spin and asked me to drive. I began gingerly, at a measly pace of  10km an hour. I inched more than I drove. He whacked me on my hand and said when will you use the fourth gear? Well did that exist in my directory? I said ” how can one use that on Bombay’s narrow roads?”

He replied, unsurprisingly, what rubbish, put on the fourth gear. I did and promptly and drove straight on to a lamp post. He yelled – brakes! brakes! and my heels only found the accelerator. It was a misadventure , mildly put – head lights broken and doors jammed. But papa did not lose his cool. He took over the wheel and drove us back home. Till this day i have not learned the ABC of driving and i prefer to be driven than drive.

Pappa is a self made man – all hardworking and feisty. Short tempered, arrogant and generous. A true Leo who would go to any extremes for his comfort, food and family. A handsome man (think the younger Gene Hackmen) who had won many hearts with many a woman wanted to marry him. I do still come across a few who complain that he never agreed to their proposals and this the same time that I see my mummy feeling proud. A farmers son, he did his mechanical engineering and came to Bombay on the pretext for an interview for a government organization. He told himself that if he worked for somebody he would never grow in this city. So he never turned up for that or any interview and used the conveyance money to fund his (small) stay and began work for himself. First as a mechanic, then a driver and soon collected enough to start his small workshop. In spite of setbacks, he was to never look back and and today is quite a successful businessman. He made sure he gave us the best that he could. Once i called him to inform that i had sought my daughter’s admission into a well reputed (and an expensive school). He asked dryly ” why are you spending so much?” . I said that he taught me to spend more on education that anything else and now it’s my turn to further that tradition. That day, I could see him smiling on the other side of the phone, that rare dimpled smile.

That day after many years he shared one of his secrets with me. He told me that every time he visited my school he felt a shade smaller when he saw the rich dad’s dropping their kids in fancy cars. He told me that he ached inside to be able to drop his girls in a car someday. In time, he made sure that he did. Soon enough, he drove me and my friends around Bombay,

I have always seen him working hard and pushing the boundaries with a never-say-die attitude. He is growing old and still going strong. Yesterday he called me to say that he had sold his factory and will be retiring. I am happy for him – the money and the self achievement is truly his but deep within me , I feel hollow. While he was working, I saw in him as a strong, pushy, confident man, but today I feel saddened. Something , somewhere has changed in me and am deciphering the feeling..

Click here to Reply or Forward

The Good Girl

The Good Girl

“Let me try no… please I think I will fit …please mummy please”, I kept begging with mummy but she refused.

“Aare nai na babba, you take this ‘Naughty Rabbit Dress’…the other one is for Shelu… she will fit and she is my good girl!”, mummy said handing me the light blue dress (with a white bugs bunny embroidered on it with the words ‘Naughty Rabbit’ encircling it.)

I so wanted that ‘Good Girl’ dress. It was a beige and brown sleeveless dress. A happy looking girl embroidered on it with the words good girl printed across a colorful rainbow..

I loved the seven colors in the rainbow and I really really wanted it so bad but it did not fit me. It was loose and big and a perfect fit for my elder sister Shelu.

I kept sulking the entire way back in the taxi… mummy bought ‘The Good Girl’ dress for Shelu with that beautiful colorful rainbow and I got the silly ‘Naughty Rabbit’!

We went home and Shelu really loved the ‘The Good Girl’ dress .. she was beaming with joy (and she literally beams with her deep dimples when she smiles!). When she wore the dress I realized that yes mummy was right… this dress was actually for her Good Girl, Shelu. With her two long plaits, neatly oiled she so very much looked like the happy girl under the vibrant rainbow. It seemed as if it was made for her.

I feel ‘The Good Girl’ effect lasted forever with Shelu, very sincere and honest in whatever she did or said. I have never seen her do any mischief or any harm to anybody. She was always the well behaved and well mannered, it was the Naughty Rabbit who did all the wrong things and all the mischief.

I remember it was me all the time running and jumping but she was the one who use to fall and get stitches. She was the one who use to pray hard and study harder. She was the one to teach me dance moves and I use to win all competitions. She was better in drawing but I got more certificates. She was always better in everything … She indeed was mummy’s ‘The Good Girl’.

I now wonder what if ‘The Good Girl ‘ dress would have fit me?

p.s. My cousin burnt a hole in the ‘Naughty Rabbit’ dress while ironing, even before I put it on, I wore it nevertheless, secretly happy…


Why I don’t get lost more often!

sketchpad10Many stories are incomplete many dialogues are interrupted.

I wish I had said that,
I wish I had kissed him,
I wish I had stayed back a little more,
I wish I had gone a little further…

We often wonder what if … many such what if’s and why not’s!

I often wonder what if I had stayed back in Omaru (New Zealand) and got lost with the penguins. What if I sneaked out of the bed and took a flight to Amsterdam to meet Van Gogh. Often in the traffic on the way to office, I feel just go … go straight to the airport and take the next flight out to anywhere.

I always did whacky, all the time…

Suddenly took off to Lonavala (a nearby hill station) from Bombay rather than going to college to meet my love.

Landed up at a friends place midnight to say sorry and then drove back 50 miles.

Kept my friends waiting at home on my birthday and treated the street urchins to yummy chocolate cakes in a fancy Bistro.

Drove straight to Pushkar from Delhi 300 miles! It was better than standing in the long queue for those movie tickets.

Walked out of the hospital after a surgery and hours later I was in a meeting & next gorging at my favorite Kakori Kebaabs!

Went for a trip with office staff and then suddenly took off  to a nearby desert, calling my boss that I will not be turning up for work for the next few days!

Crept out of bed midnight and took the early morning flight in my pajamas to meet my love!

Sold my gold earrings and gave all the money to a boy singing in the train for medicine for his little sister and told my mom that I lost my earrings.

Resigned from my job one day and went to watch Vertical Limit with a friend and end up getting another job in the movie intermission.

Blew all my bank balance … got reduced to Rs 3/- and then called a friend with that from a pay phone and signed up a big deal!

Kicked a drunkard from a moving bus in dark hours in Ghaziabad! (Not very safe for girls in the night, rather anytime!)

Danced with a friend in a stranger’s wedding and ended up taking pictures and video’s … I am sure they will be wondering who the hell am I?

Go for a Christmas party and end up Proposing!

We all have stories and those whacky moments … I have endless

I never thought twice before saying or doing anything … then why now?

Have I lost my spark! that spunk or have I stopped living (at the edge)
Have I sobered, have I got domesticated?
Nope I don’t think so. I still fall in love everyday…

Now I just trip to see my little angel’s face everyday, to hug her all sweaty and smelly when she is back from school. All cuddled in bed with her, I don’t feel like creeping out. Now I like to dance with her rather than dancing in stranger’s wedding. Intoxicated with her smell and touch
…  She’s my Trip!

I know soon she will take off … and I will too!


Poster Baby!

After watching a Unicef commercial on TV, I told Xia (my seven year old daughter), that I really want to save a dying child. I really want to help a child and not simply send a donation without knowing what happened to it and did it actually save that kid in the commercial.

Suddenly a face floated across my mind, she was one of my many maids!

The day I hired her, a tall, thin lanky lady with protruding cheekbones and that typical pigmentation on her cheeks and nose (often happens to ladies in pregnancy).

Now I forget her name! And I do not want to call her by any other!

She was standing at my doorstep, looked quite sad and malnourished but had a brilliant smile on her face. It was that smile that started our relationship. I quickly hired her without checking any of her details. I was in a desperate need for a maid after Xia’s birth and there was too much work with very little help around.

The day she arrived she ate and she just ate! I thought probably that was a meal in many days! She was quick in her work and eager to help. Few days later I chatted her up and I got to know that she lived in the nearby Basti (a slum dwelling) and was abandoned by her family. Why? Cause her husband and in-laws wanted a boy child and she was a mother of two daughters! Where are they? I mean the daughters, I asked her… she had left them with her sister and had come to Delhi to work. She lived alone in the Basti in a small rented home. All this sounded very typical to me. This is what happens all the time, with poor people; was all that I thought.

What’s are your daughter’s names? “Katrina and Kareena,” she smiled! I smiled back and got back to changing Xia’s diapers.

Slowly the eagerness and briskness was turning into lethargy and slackness. All her vigor was thinning away. I often found her napping and now she looked healthier, with stomach bloating. Mamma (my mom in-law) came home visiting and she mentioned that my maid seems quite healthy than what she was! Even I realized the change in her… slowly that stomach grew bigger and bigger in the next two months! That ringed a bell! Is she pregnant? Yes she was, I had to confront her and the story spilled out that she was pregnant for the third time and that was the reason her leaving home. She feared that if it were a daughter again than she definitely knew that her in-laws would kill her little one! To escape this she had come to the Basti.

I did not know what to do? How can I hire a pregnant lady to help with my baby? Soon she will have hers! It’s not fare to make her work hard. She needs rest but she needs money too. If I ask her to leave she will work someplace else and probably even harder. I did not know what to do? She was seven months!

After a lot of contemplation and reluctance, I decided, she needs to go. I called her and made her understand that she needs to rest and not work so hard; her baby needs to be healthier. I gave her money, much more for her to survive till her delivery and asked her to go. Told her that she can always walk back once her baby and she are fit! She cried and howled, she did not want to go but I had to.

She was long forgotten and I got another maid from the same Basti, Asha, a cute chubby girl of sixteen. Asha and Xia bonded well. They often went to the park for a stroll in the afternoon.

One such afternoon our guard called up asking that there was a lady at the gate, crying and she wanted to meet me. Perplexed I asked the guard to send her up. The bell rang and there “She” was, once again. This time a tear rolling down her cheek but the brilliant smile was still there! She said the only person that came to her mind was me! My daughter is dying please help me!

I do not know what happened to me, I grabbed her hand, and walked straight to my car and asked my driver to take us to her Basti! I was in my pajamas and my driver was clueless. We kept meandering the small lanes of the never ending Basti. She kept directing my driver and it just did not end. Finally we were out of the Basti in the open fields and there on the outskirts were some ruins and broken huts… she asked to park the car there. I asked her where is your child … in that ruins. I ran inside that hut and there lay a small girl child wrapped up in an old sari. The child was not moving. She just lay there motionless. I feared she was dead. Her mother ran and shook her up… finally the child started moving and whimpering! I sighed!

The child looked like any of those poster babies that ask for donations to save a child! Malnourished, boney with big hungry eyes! Very easy to conjure up an image!

We quickly sat in the car and sped to closest clinic near my home. I walked into the reception and when I was asked for the patients name I was just going say Xia and then I realized that this time it was not my little one but somebody else’s. I did not know her name? We just wrote baby in the registration form.

I quickly ran up to my pediatrician. She asked to calm down. She looked at the baby and clenched her nose. I realized that there was a stink from the wrapped sari, probably it was not washed for a long time and the baby had diarrhea. The baby had no nappy, no diaper. She had soiled the sari. The doctor asked the nurse to clean her up and she quickly gave her saline and some antibiotics! The baby slept peacefully.

My pediatrician pulled me aside, she asked me who’s child was that? I realized that my maid was still in the car with my driver. She was too scared to come up with me, in that fancy looking clinic. I explained to the doctor that she was my maid’s daughter. My doctor questioned me that why did I come to this hospital? I could simply take this child to the nearby government hospital! Government Hospital? Where was that? I did not know, and why not this place? She said that its foolish of me to spend money on this child, such kids do not survive for long!

By this time my maid had gathered courage to come up with my driver. The doctor advised her to take good care of her child’s hygiene and medicines.

I bought all the prescribed medicines from the pharmacy and handed them to my maid.

Few hours later I dropped my maid back to her Basti with her soundly sleeping child and gave her some money that would keep her going for some months.

I just sat in my car and meandered out of the Basti!


Wanderer…

Mama use to call me dhoor! (Wandering dust) … he knew me so well!

I always have wandered… in my thoughts, in relationships and literally too!

I wandered in my Amchi Wadi collecting anything and everything that caught my fancy! When mummy took her afternoon nap… that was the time I slipped out into my adventurous trip of collecting aluminum foil, red and blue stripped milk bottle caps, colourful broken glass bangle pieces to make a kaleidoscope which pappa had promised and which never happened! Scrambling through wriggly Bombay monsoon earthworms to get those shimmery colourful glass bangle pieces (worn by my Marathi neighbors), from below the drain covers … I do not know how and why but that was the spot where I always found them!

I collected Monty uncle’s cigarette stubs too. The filter’s made a lovely sponge bedding for my dolls. I quite liked the activity of removing the sponge from the used stubs. The tobacco smell was quite intoxicating and I remember it was Four Square!

Once I came home elated with my pockets full of black beads, very excited and happy. Mummy got wild, threw them immediately.

I did not know that goat’s droppings looked like beads!

Pencil shaving also figured into my collection. In a vain attempt to make rubber (eraser)! Eraser from pencil shavings?

Recipe for creating Eraser:
Ingredients: Pencil shaving and Milk
Method: Mix and freeze!

So simple… but it never happened! We never ever figured why the rubber never happened? Probably we did not know the right proportions of milk vs. pencil shavings.

The afternoon naptime was also our playtime. Games of the 70’s were chor police, laghori, dodge ball, stappo (hopscotch), Queen of Sheba, and Goldspot!

What was playstaion or gameboy?

I often use to play marbles with the now Shiv Sena turned boys! I played with them then but then when I became Muslim girl I do not know?

I always use to chase all the young boys away and fought for kites that got tangled in our television antennas… I did not know how to fly a kite but I loved to collect the one’s that got tangled in our antenna!

We girls, a bunch of us from the second, first and ground floor played in the passage of the old and the new annexe buildings, known as Chaggan Mansion! The first floor passage was our den. During the hot, humid Bombay afternoon, when all mummy’s and grandma’s had their siesta, we girls came out to play in this passage … Bombay never had gardens or playgrounds … at least not where I stayed! Building passages were our play area, recreation zone. We girls often ended up fighting and neighbor’s came out yelling! Often we use to gossip and share secretes on that first floor passage.

The passage corner was also my haunt for collecting cigarette stubs thrown by Monty Uncle. Monty Uncle with that skull tattoo.

I remember Shalini, describing how she saw naked Monty Uncle humping over Pam Aunty. Shalini was Monty Uncle’s, domestic help and our playmate in the afternoon. We did not have to imagine Pam Aunty (Monty Uncle’s wife) naked cause she always was… in her see through nighties and deep necks!

Monty Uncle had quite a home! A small one room kitchen with a balcony. He had split his one room into two by a crafty, wooden partition. One part was the living room and the other a bedroom. He created great wooden masterpieces in his balcony turned workshop. The most interesting bit about his home was a hammock that hung across his bedroom over his bed! After what Shalini described, I always imagined Monty Uncle and Pam Aunty in that hammock and little Shalini sleeping below that hammock watching them!

Monty Uncle had an amazing pet… Peter Repeater the parrot! Peter was quite a prized possession in the Monty Uncle’s home and it was evident from the spot he resided. Monty Uncle had carved a fancy high, stool to perch his cage right outside the door. Peter the Repeater had a nice big cage all to himself on that fancy stool …we kids often use to tease him, probe him to repeat after us and feed him green chilies! I have heard people parking their dogs outside their doors, they are good guards but Peter was no less… whoever visited the door, Peter would screech and say “Hello aunty, Hello aunty” and I am sure that Monty Uncle and Pam Aunty would get alerted and jump of their hammock!

I often wandered to my storeroom, to a lost forgotten Godrej Steel Cupboard. There were many interesting things stored and forgotten. Some bottles of Chivas Regal and White Dog (gifted by my aunt from Canada… pappa never drank them but gifted them to his business associates), some porn magazines (belonging to my new young cousin brothers who stayed with us then) .. old fancy bell-bottom pants, funny conical padded bras, and all that 70’s stuff… Pictures of mummy in fancy frocks and pappa in smart shades. I loved to check out those old photographs and fancy clothes. I was quite amused by one black and white, Russian porn magazine. It was full of pictures. A story about three nude ladies and a fully clothed, three-piece suite-clad detective. Every time I wandered to the cupboard I found new booties!

One fine day … pappa came home and announced that he was shifting the Godrej Steel Cupboard to our factory office. When the Cupboard reached the factory, the guard called up pappa and announced that the workers have found some liquor bottles and he could only save a few from them…rest are all gulped and finished!

I wonder did anyone find those Russian Ladies?


Mom’s the word!

I know mother’s day is yet to come but my little thank you comes a little early!

My Darling, damp mummy is a hard core romantic and a live wire! Today I am really grateful to this aspiring mom who gave us all that she had to make what we are today! Best of the fashion, best of the schools, best of the college and today best of her prayers!  I know every mom does that, but trust me my mummy is special, nobody does the way she does … true Bollywood style!

My play school (you all know from the forbidden forest) was one of most sought after schools in Mumbai. They said that if you got through this one then you are sorted for life! A bit exaggerated, I know.

Mummy too wanted her daughters to study in this playschool with the forbidden tree and a leaking fountain, but ….yes every story has a ‘but’ and without these ‘buts’ you never reach anywhere! Well our ‘but’ was the principle of this playschool, Ms. Kanga. (A petite Parsi lady in pretty sleeveless frocks and varicose veins.) Ms. Kanga had a rule that all the kids admitted in her school should have ‘English speaking’ parents! Well, mummy and pappa both were well educated ‘but’ in ‘Gujarati medium’!

‘English speaking’, ‘Gujarati medium’, these terms I am sure we all Indians (who live in many states and speak many languages with many dialects!) know very well!

‘But’ mummy did not give up. The application form was rejected and mummy stormed straight into Ms Kanga’s office. Ms. Kanga refused to budge and so did my mummy! The decibel levels went high and one can imagine how high when one Parsi* lady argues with another Gujarati* lady! Mummy was shown the door but mummy being mummy refused to budge from her place. She decided to stay putt in front of the school gate next to my forbidden forest tree! Standing in the hot sun, in the admission month of June.

To add to the drama, Mr. Rain Gods also decided to add some special effects in the already filmy scene. Mummy got completely drenched and soaked in that already damp maxi, but she did not budge! She stood there right in front of the school gate with Ms. Kanga’s office window open.

Mummy’s stunt worked, Ms. Kanga, really got moved. (these Parsi’s* don’t watch a lot of Bollywood movies. They are still stuck with ‘Gone with the winds!’). Ms. Kanga rushed out with a towel to dry mummy up. She got her in her office, dried her up and quietly handed her the admission form!

p.s. Years later my cousin visited the same play school for her child’s admission. She mentioned my mummy to Ms. Kanga (who was really frail and old now) and she still had memories of mummy. She told my cousin that, I have never ever come across a Mother like her in my 80 years!

*Disclaimer: offense regretted.



%d bloggers like this: