Sunday, August 23, 2015

The melody of life!

I grew up in a big, boisterous joint family where there was so much activity happening all the time! Ours was a sprawling bungalow with a garden running all around it, the office (of our family business) also housed with the bungalow and a small factory in the backyard.

Daytime was a constant buzz, filled with all kinds of sounds -- the men of the house trying to get the Priya and Chetak (the scooters of those time) running by kick-starting them, with our dog Pintu jumping and barking away in the background; the cooker whistling in the kitchen, we kids swapping turns cycling and swinging in the verandah, and the machines whirring away in the factory.

Powercuts were quite often, especially during the summer. Cooking and eating dinner by the candle light was quite common. The elders and older kids provided amusement with the game ‘shadows on the wall’ while the younger tots like me gave the sound effects for their actions:D

Post dinner, with no TV to watch, we all used to put out the metal kots (called khaatla in gujarati) in the angan and sit/lie down there under the starlight (which is very hard to find these days except at hill stations!), while baa (grandma) and bapuji (grandpa) used to sit in bamboo chairs in the verandah.

Once all of us had settled in and were passing around the plastic hand fans and newspapers, we would start with our favorite game – Antakshari!

We would split up in 4 groups and then my eldest uncle (whom we fondly call Pappaji) would do the honours with “baithe baithe kya karein, karna hai kuch kaam, shuru karo antakshari leke prabhu ka naam!” The first group would then start singing a song with the akshar ‘ma’.  And so it would go on…what fun it would be, there would be those classics which had to be sung without fail, such as ‘ramaiya vasta vaiya’ and of course those peppy numbers to which we all kids would jump out of the khaatlas and do the trademark dance steps, like ‘my name is lakhan’ and then the romantic ones where the couples would do a duet on / dance to while the rest of the family cheered on. 

Me being one of the youngest would have a limited library of songs and so will be anxiously waiting for that letter to come where I can finally sing the song I know! I recall my performances as very enthusiastic, albeit with a goof up of lyrics or pronunciation here and there, and followed by a resounding round of applause from the entire family leaving me all glowing and happy!:)

The other most awaited performance would be from baa who would only sing a song on much coaxing and would be blushing all through her rendition:D

There would obviously be the pro players of the game like my sisters who would inject various rounds such as rapid-fire, jodi round (you have to sing the song pairing one hero/heroine from the song sung by the previous group with a new one), situation round and the likes!

All in all it would be a most memorable time spent which made me in fact look forward to those power cutsJ

And today, while powercuts do persist, I see inverters in most homes which means life goes on as usual. Even where there are no inverters, family members are simply absorbed in their respective ‘smart’ phones – from kids of this generation, the response to a game like antakshari varies from silly to boring; they would rather tune in to their iTunes playlist than participate in a game like this! And do I even need to say about big, joint families…what I grew up in seems like another world altogether, there are more cars and gadgets than the number of family members in a home these days!


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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Bounce back!:)

Today I thought to write about those moments when we women feel low. I am not talking about major life tragedies but the more usual low moments we experience every once in a while in routine life. The former calls for a lot of fortitude while the latter is more of overcoming that moment, casting aside the negative thoughts and carrying on with life. So here goes:

Hubbies are naturally equipped to be compassionate and eloquent in grave matters such as the impact of the Iran nuclear deal, the proposed GST rollout, standing by Dhoni during his losing streak as captain…you get the driftJ
But come wifey’s moments of emotional distress -- side-lined for a well-deserved promotion, MIL’s badgering for a grandchild, the weight gain/grey hair appearance, overwhelmed with the work/life balance act, a botched attempt at single-handed 3 course cooking for the guests -- and the poor things are rendered clueless and helpless!

Their version:
The first time I proposed a solution she said can’t you just stay shut and listen to my feelings!
But the next time I was quiet and let her be, she accused me of ignoring her and saying nothing to comfort her!

Personally speaking, it’s my parents who have been my most solid source of strength and made me bounce back whenever I was feeling down and low on any matter, big or small.
It’s definitely harsh to expect hubby dearest to possess the same repertoire of reactions as my seasoned Dad, who knows just the right thing to say or do:
  • Sometimes he would acknowledge the tumult I am going through, telling me how proud he is of me not giving up, that faith is just what I would need to keep pushing on
  • On other occasions he would inspire me by sharing similar experiences from his lifetime and how he pulled through then  
  • And at times he would simply admonish me for making a big deal for no reason, snapping me out from my silly monotones

Neither can hubby dearest pull off “no-nonsense, get your act together” punchlines like that of my Mum, sample this:
अनुकूल परिस्थिति में तो कोई भी अछे से रह सकता है, विपरीत परिस्थिति में अछे से रह सके तो कुछ मत्लब!
(Translation: Anyone can live nicely in convenient circumstances; it is only worthwhile if you can live nicely in adverse circumstances!)

So away from my parents, not wanting to disturb my girlfriends either (as they too are busy dealing with their share of life’s messes), and to the great relief of my hubby -- over time I have managed to figure out how best to deal with the low moments myself. 

It starts with taking a deep breath, drinking a glass of water and then doing one / more of the below:
  • Go take a bath – the mind might still be on the negative thought loop while we bathe but the physical relaxation will definitely have some impact, you will feel lighter!
  • Listen or dance to a peppy playlist – ‘Peppy’ is key here, so have one such list handy. Think ‘Let it go’ from Frozen and ‘London thumakda’ from QueenJJ You don’t want to be listening to ‘Kitni baatein yaad aati hain’ from Lakshya and escalate your sadness to weeping! Given my awesome bad luck, if i play at random on the spot, such songs somehow show up, hence the learning of having a playlist ready at your disposal!
  • Watch / read something funny or inspiring – Nothing beats stress for me like watching an episode of Friends, even though I may be seeing it for the zillionth time! I also find the jokes and quotes in Reader’s Digest very engaging. The Minions and Aunty Acid quotes on FB are also awesome!
  • Skip the chore – On a bad day and with a messy headspace, I end up doing some blunder even in the routine tasks and that’s it!...the whole thing becomes a melodrama: nothing is right in my life, I am useless, why always me and so forth. Therefore, when feeling low, never ever take up an uninviting routine task like cleaning/washing etc.
  • Browse about some random/new topic – If I don’t have any book or bored of listening to the same playlist, I pick up a random topic and start reading up about it on Wikipedia/net. So in usual routine, I keep a list of such topics for reading later, or save interesting articles as bookmarks. For example, once I read up everything about Operation Blue Star since I never knew the whole story. Doing such a thing just fills your head with new information and your focus shifts.
  • Revisit happy memories – Again need to choose a bit wisely what you want to see, looking at videos of your last birthday celebration at your parents’ place will definitely make you more homesick. Instead some crazy video from your college days or that of an office party can cheer you up!
Stay happy,