Monday, January 14, 2019

The Sins of the Middle (aged)

Well, more aptly senior citizens than merely middle-aged, but since this post concerns our middles, well...
The RE used to be skinny. Extremely so. For a very long time into our married years together. That he was a heavy smoker  probably contributed to the skinniness. Circumstances forced him to stop smoking, and we had a man who actually had an appetite. Waist sizes went up, slowly, and after many years of abstaining from all forms of alcohol, beer was rediscovered.
Retirement and grandfatherhood found our erstwhile skinny man approaching my size and weight, (although I remain the heavyweight champ in our house), and now we are a comfortably matched Dadu Bear and Dadi Bear.
Last year we went with our younger daughter and older granddaughter on a road trip to Agra. Much fun was had, but even more fun happened at bedtime, when Grandpa realized that he had forgotten to pack his pyjamas. The four of us were sharing a large room which had a huge double bed for grandparents and grandchild, and a curtained alcove with a single bed for our daughter, (and one huge bathroom). Modesty was required! It was too late to go and buy a pair of pyjamas. Our daughter had a brainwave: the RE could wear my spare palazzos! So our man retired for the night in comfortable beige cotton loose pyjamas, which just happened to have sequins and pintucks on the hem!
         I'd spent several days last week worrying about the whereabouts of my blue Levi jeans. I thought they'd been laundered, but I couldn't find them anywhere. I checked the hooks on every bedroom and bathroom door. I checked the laundry basket. I even checked the RE's wardrobe, but no. His size 36" Levi jeans were on their hanger. But wait a second, he'd been wearing blue jeans the last couple of days too. ( He owns several pairs in various stages of wear and tear). I checked the pair draped over the chair in our bedroom. They were a size 38. They seemed to be mine. I asked the spouse if they hadn't felt odd when he wore them.
(I had obviously hung them up in his wardrobe). The poor man has been suffering from sciatica for a while now, and thought that he also had some mysterious major ailment which was causing this sudden weight loss, as the jeans were obviously much too loose for him!!!!!
I was very glad to reassure him that such was not the case, and tried on the jeans to demonstrate to both of us that all was well!
          We were all at lunch at my older daughter's place when the jean story was shared. My younger daughter, extremely loyal to the RE, said that I also had to post about all of his clothes that I have pinched (I'd say borrowed) over the years. Yes, but I insist that I only borrow/pinch clothes that he doesn't wear! In the interest of accuracy I concede that I have (sort of) pinched his black fleece jacket, and his black Levi's crew neck pullover, which he only wore the year we bought it. (I bought a similar one in navy blue a year later). The man is still thinner than I am, so the only other garments of his that I can pinch (and do) are his thick socks, a great comfort in winter. Full disclosure!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

The Wisdom of the Infant

Babies know what they need
For their well-being
And it might not be
what you think they need!

On Holi last year our little one
Was tiny, just over six months old
A little bewildered by the strange,
Colourful behaviour of
otherwise sane adults
And her older sister, who completely
Revelled in the revelry.
She was thoroughly upset by the noise
Of dholaks and loudspeakers
In the neighbourhood.

People came and went,
And we were all supposed to go
To our oldest child's home
For further fun and food.

Grandpa and I decided to let her nap
And take her there later
But the young one wasn't happy
A nap in the noise was difficult
But only possible in Grandma's arms
And only in vertical hold.

We survived, somehow,
Baby slept lightly, not allowing
The slightest tilt bedwards.

Cut to late December,
almost ten months later.
She spends the day with me
While parents and sibling
Are out, doing whatever
They have to do.
Playful, chattering,
Exploring, inspecting....
But then sleep comes,
Time for her sole nap of the day.

I hold her, and rock her,
And she falls asleep
But cries whenever I try
To put her down.
The people she knows
Vanish while she sleeps.
This smart infant isn't taking any chances!

Granny decides to nap too,
Infant on top of her,
In a cosy coccoon of cuddly comfort!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Princesses have gone, the kingdom is desolate

The little princesses flew across the skies
nearly a year ago, to live in our city,
one tiny, just a few months old,
on her very first visit to our home.
The older princess, still little, not yet four,
with boundless energy, (our very own Tigger)
and a million questions about
Life, the Universe, and Everything,
reminiscent of her father at that age.

A magical year, watching them grow,
infant to toddler, little girl to bigger girl,
sisters learning to be with each other,
and, praise the Lord,
enjoy each other's company,
for a while, at least!

The princesses lived a few miles away from us,
but were quite accessible, especially the little one
who was our favourite reason for a pit stop
at their place, hoping that she wasn't napping!
The big one went to school, but on weekends
she was usually ours, to indulge and enjoy,
take out on expeditions, feed 'palatha', daal chawal,
and chicken momos at Mainland China.
We had our rituals, her endless baths in our tub,
favourite story books, and her grandfather being
the fairest of them all!
We were well educated by her about Peppa Pig,
and other characters we didn't know about.
We were good about rationing screen time,
and found her to be most creative with blocks.
Waking up to questions about how do fish sleep?
Google was my best friend for months!

The tiny one learned to sit, and crawl, creep, and stand
especially around their mirror top centre table.
Her reach extended inch by inch: every glass and cup
was endangered by her grabby little hands.
Whatever you happened to eat or drink was fair game
for our avid little puppy.
As were cell phones.
Big people seem to use them all the time:
so this little person had to grab them too, if she could.
Speech appeared, a few words, mostly proper nouns,
and lots of babbling, at full volume!
Inimitable and unforgettable.
And once she learned to walk,
she would be walking all day,
almost every waking moment.
Toddle toddle, waddle waddle,
as Big Sister would say.

I thought I'd take her for a walk,
when she came to stay just before they left,
but it seemed as though she was taking me,
trotting along at speed, deciding where to go,
as fast as those little legs could carry her.

There are bits and pieces all over the house
that belonged to the little princesses.
A book, a toy, a  globe on which much Geography
was discussed. The big one has been quite
a globe-trotter for her years, but if you mention a country
that you've visited and she hasn't, be prepared:
A mournful "I've never been to Australia/Sri Lanka/Africa"
will follow!

It's endless, the missing.
The baby/child-proofed house will eventually
get back to 'normal',
but missing feels like the new normal
in our desolate kingdom, missing and memories...

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Happy feet

On a cold windy day
this January, a stroller,
a grandmother,
an infant, well clad,
not quite five months old.

From behind the stroller
All that grandma can see
are thick gray booties
wiggling joyfully.
A happy baby
on a cold windy day.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Much Ado About Prawns

Our social life sometimes becomes a little too much for our (ageing) digestive systems, particularly the RE's.
This last weekend was a case in point. We had lunched at a Lebanese/Middle Eastern restaurant on Saturday, and the leftover prawns came home with us and were promptly kept in the fridge. We were out for lunch again on Sunday, had a late nap, some theplas with our tea, and then ate bhelpuri when we were out watching a movie. An (almost) midnight dinner followed once we were home.

On Monday morning  the weather was wonderful: cool, cloudy, and there had been some rain too. It was calling out for pakodas, but I did not succumb to the lure of fried food early in the morning, and settled for besan cheelas instead. By lunchtime, though, the RE thought that rice and dal would be easier to digest, so we had that with a salad. Dinner was light too. We decided to ask the maid if she was interested in the prawns, since there seemed to be no possibility of the RE having them. (I'm a vegetarian). He also had a couple of glasses of fresh lime with soda. Digestive system obviously not happy.

The maid took the prawns home on Tuesday. On Tuesday the RE has an upset stomach. He is travelling the next day, but doesn't want to a) consult a doctor; b) take Imodium; c) start a course of Norflox. Hence we tackle the situation with bananas, coconut water, Yakult (a probiotic drink), and really thin khichdi for lunch. By evening he pronounces himself better, and has a normal light dinner.

Early on Wednesday morning he leaves. I go for a walk. Our maid is usually in by seven-fifteen or so,
but by the time I realize that she isn't in yet, it's already seven-forty. This particular girl does not have a cell phone, so there's no way I can contact her. I do the dishes and as much clearing up as I can manage before the yoga teacher comes. I have a busy day ahead of me, and am out till evening. An underlying anxiety remains. I sincerely hope that her absence wasn't caused by the prawns.

Thursday morning dawns cool and damp. There was a storm at night. I go for my walk, hoping to see the reassuring sight of the maid heading towards her first house of the day, but no such luck. I am now quite concerned and fairly anxious, and also feeling very guilty.Why didn't we just chuck the prawns in the dustbin? Why did we get them packed in the first place? I sincerely hope that no one in her house is seriously ill because of the wretched prawns. I water the plants. I pick up the newspapers. I make myself a cup of tea, all with mounting anxiety. At seven forty-five the doorbell rings. It is the maid. (Thank God). She says she had a terrible stomach ache the previous day. I die of guilt. I ask her if she had any prawns. She says that her husband had them all, and he's fine. (More thanks to God). She doesn't eat prawns!
Image courtesy:

Monday, April 2, 2018

Yet another pigeon post.

The solitary sleeper was not the confirmed bachelor I had thought him(?) to be.
He was smarter than I had imagined, but I think I have triumphed over property-grabbing avians.
In recent days, a pair of pigeons would flutter away whenever I opened the bedroom balcony door.
I wondered vaguely what they were doing there, knowing full well that two pigeons couldn't roost or build a nest on the a/c pipe.
It so happened that my regular house help is away on leave, and the substitute help is somewhat rushed, so the bedroom balcony wasn't being cleaned regularly. While hanging out the laundry to dry one morning, I notice a couple of twigs on the floor, and am inspired to peep under the outdoor a/c unit. To my horror I see a floor full of twigs and leaves and detritus: so this is what the pigeon couple was up to. The next morning the girl is told to clean thoroughly underneath both the outside units

The second picture shows the actual amount of nesting material. Sorry, Mr. And Mrs. Pigeon. If you were sparrows I'd more than welcome you to nest in my balcony, but I have no great fondness for the avian species that is overrunning our cities. Better luck elsewhere.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Do Not Disturve

That was what I had written on a piece of paper which I stuck on our bedroom door, when I was five or six. Of course my brother and sister had a good laugh at my expense. But that was what I thought it was. And in my mind, "disturve-ing"  people was not a nice thing to do. My mother hated waking up people, but it's one of the things mothers have to do. I think I enjoyed my kids' school holidays especially for this reason: not having to wake them up!

And then, for two days running, I inadvertently woke up the solitary pigeon that sleeps outside our bedroom window. On Thursday my older daughter took me out on an impromptu shopping and lunch expedition, which was great fun, but then I had to hang out the laundry in the balcony after I got home at four-thirty. At seven o'clock I decided to take the clothes off the line, completely forgetting that the solitary pigeon retired at six p.m. (Pigeon or no pigeon, I'd rather not have laundry hanging out all night). As soon as I opened the balcony door the pigeon flew off. I don't know if it came back later or not. Yesterday again I did the laundry rather late in the day, and it wasn't dry when I left home at two in the afternoon. I got home at nine. This time I remembered the (damn) pigeon, and tried entering the balcony from the guest room side. (Our bedroom and guest room both open onto a common balcony). But once again I did "disturve" the sleeping bird, who flew off immediately.

And then, today, a friend on Facebook posts this picture:

"A woman cuts the hem of her kimono so as not to wake a cat."

I do not love the pigeon. But I do feel sorry for disturbing its sleep.