Saturday, July 14, 2018

My Zen Mode


This post is being written for INDISPIRE Edition 230


Most of us go through life looking after home and hearth without spending any quality time with ourselves.I think it is very important to sometimes shut everything off from our lives and go into 'Me' mode. Switch off the WiFi, shut the door, lie down alone, close your eyes and reflect. The lucky ones can even take a vacation alone. Silence can be a good companion.
Being with myself and contemplating about life is my favourite hobby. Some people may say I am lazy but I think being lazy is underrated. Being lazy has its advantages. You are at peace with yourself and the world.

Sunset over the river Brahmaputra

This summer I decided to skip the usual touristy stuff. I packed my bags and booked my tickets to Guwahati, the town where I was born. I needed to spend time with my octogenarian parents. I was going to be with them for a month and do nothing except eat, sleep and stare.

Monsoon clouds threaten to disrupt my morning walk

My parents wake up at dawn. They walk 365 days a year, come hail or sunshine. Now since I had decided I was going to spend time with them and participate in their daily routine I too had to wake up at 4 am. It seemed impossible at the start but was wonderful when I got used to it. The view of the morning mist rising across the Brahmaputra and Umananda (the smallest river island in the world) sitting daintily in midstream was worth waking up to.

Umananda 

The flat in which my parents live has a balcony overlooking the ancient Ugratara temple and the Navgraha hills. While I am not at all a religious person, I sat staring at this beautiful scenery for hours. The green cover of trees housed many a heron and egret birds and watching the horizon was therapeutic for my soul.


The View From The Balcony

The best part was eating my mother's delicious fish and rice (Masor Tenga) and the post lunch siesta that extended to dusk. I did absolutely nothing for a whole month. No social visits, no shopping, no WiFi and no TV. It was as if I had reached my nirvana. I returned to the world rejuvenated and feeling like the Buddha.





Tuesday, July 10, 2018

A Brief Sojourn At Pine Mount School

My eyes were brimming with tears that threatened to roll down my cheeks.Sensing this  my sister tightened her grip on my hand.I was 6 years old and my sister was 10.We were in a Meghalaya State Transport bus winding our way up the khasi hills towards our boarding school.
Pine Mount School with its red tin roof is a residential school for girls,build upon a small hill surrounded by pine trees.It was established in the 1900s and has a reputation of producing well mannered girls with etiquette


I was the younger pampered one in my family,always up to mischief and playing pranks.When my parents decided to pack me off to boarding school I thought I was being punished.I immediately hated school and everything related to it.
I was homesick, sad and hungry all the time. Although we received healthy sumptuous meals, my mind would always revolve around food; maybe it was the pure mountain air that made me hungry all the time.


I disliked studies and the only book I loved to open was this big book of pictures that said ‘Scratch And Sniff’. It had bright colorful pictures of cakes, pastries and chocolates and I loved to sniff out the pictures.They threw me into a magical world of yummy grub.Ironically inspite of my dislike of reading and learning my favorite period turned out to be the library class.
During study hour we were supposed to sit quietly for an hour and do our homework but all I did was play with pebbles, grass and wild flowers.The teacher in charge could never catch me since I would hide all my treasures very cleverly under the desk and all she saw was an open desk top.

That's me standing behind the teacher!

My  four years in Pine Mount were mostly spent in the outdoors exploring the play grounds .I would engineer  all types of games ,conjure up stories for all and sundry to hear and design hunting sprees  for me and  my friends.We would go looking for all sorts of things from pine cones, nuts and wild berries to elves and fairies.I loved chasing dragonflies and butterflies but my favorite game was Hide and Seek.When the clouds rolled down the hills we would run and disappear into a cloud to reappear and surprise the others.What fun we had!And when it rained we wore our gumboots and mackintosh and splashed and jumped on the puddles.

The seniors at the boarding school would tell us scary stories to frighten us. They would say that the school was haunted by the spirits of the British soldiers who were housed there during the world wars. They told us that if we wandered about alone we would hear footsteps follow us and whispers in the corridors. These tales would be enough to make us pull our blankets above our heads at night and not think of breaking any rules.


I was too clumsy to take care of my belongings and although every clothing had my initials inked into them I would still end up losing most of my clothes. My sister however was the smart one. She became the head girl of the school. I admired her and pride swelled up in me every time her name was announced in the Assembly. I was a contrast of my sibling. I dragged on in academics till finally my parents made a decision to take me out of the boarding school to live with them in Guwahati. But this decision came at a cost.
Me and Kaberi,my sister
One beautiful summer day, when the sun was shining and everything around the little hill on which the school stood shone in its pristine beauty, I decided it was time to build a gigantic castle. To do this I needed a large amount of dried pine needles, dried leaves, twigs, mosses and grass. I employed all my friends in this enormous task of collection and we ran around all morning very engrossed in our business. When the formidable structure was near completion I stepped back and admired our handiwork .Now the only thing missing in this art installation were some bright flowers and I knew exactly where to find them. I went racing to the flowing tree and jumped and shook the low branches but unfortunately for me along with the flowers fell a whole bee-hive right on my head .



The next thing I knew I was in Shillong Civil Hospital and my face had swellings as big as custard-apples! The medicines eased the pain but the best part was that the whole school trooped in to wish me speedy recovery and I basked in all the attention and almost felt like the Duchess of Sussex sitting up on my hospital bed bee stings and all!
And thus was cut short my primary school years at Shillong and I was put in St. Mary’s Convent in Guwahati.  As my mother would say, ”Qui Sera Sera- whatever will be will be”.


Photo Credits-PINE MOUNT ALUMNAE 
and My Own Collections

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Stone Ages and Other Age Issues

People say, "Age is just a number", "You are as young as you think you are!" But people say all kinds of things! Someone said baby peacocks are born from tears and that GST was the magic wand our country needed. We live in denial most of the time. My close friends call me an ageist as I obsess over my age a lot. Nevertheless, selfies do not lie so I stopped taking those.

Age is a touchy topic, my view may differ from yours and you may act like the RSS (who cannot allow differences to exist) and send the vigilante knocking at my door.

A few weeks ago I had fever and I felt the submandibular gland swell up (that is the salivary gland on the left jaw line). Thinking it to be mumps, I searched the net and the symptoms matched.

Mumps mostly infect children. I felt elated that at least my body still thinks I was a kid and had invited a childhood infection to breed.

The blood reports were sadly negative. The doctor now asked for a CT scan and a sonography of the swelling. The pictures were not pretty. There were four or five of them all in a neat row strung into my saliva gland like a garland. Everyone who heard this replied with a shocked "What? Salivary gland stones! I am hearing this for the first time."Well so was I!
Well at least now, I know the cause of my silence in blogging. I had marbles in my mouth! 




Life in these stone ages is rough. I have to eat sour things 24/7 (sour food cause more saliva secretion). The sales girl behind the counter stared at my grey hair when I asked her to give me the sourest lozenges she had.

My double chin looks very "healthy" now with stones and all. It is painful yes, but I get a good reason to skip my walks and lay in bed dreaming that the ENT surgeon, who plans to literally slit my throat, may wake me up from my anaesthesia induced slumber and say, "Here are your diamonds, Madam".



 Here is a spoiler to my diamonds in the sky dream, Salivary Duct Stones occurs in middle-aged adults only. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Twilight musings

The morning alarm rings. I wake up with body ache. Something is not right with the left side of my body. My left hip joint is paining. My left shoulder feels stiff (O My God, I sound like a hypochondriac). In September, my blood test revealed I had hypothyroidism. So now, its hypertension, hypothyroidism, Perimenopause all rolled into one 50-year-old body!
My birthday celebrations this year was over shadowed with the nation celebrating demonetization, thanks to the PM's momentous announcement. So with creaking bones and all I move ahead to face the approaching new year.


I am not apprehensive about the future. After all, I have survived in this jungle for half a century. I have seen all species of the homosapien. Can there be any more earth shattering revelations left to witness?
If I was told I could go back in time, I swear by my receding and thinning hairline, I would refuse.
The bullying and peer pressures at school.  The lack of self-confidence at teenage. My confused 20s. Mastering the impossible art of being a good parent at 30s. To do all that learning, understanding, gaining insight into the complexities of human nature all over again! No, thank you. I think I am quite okay where I am right now, muffin top, double chin and all.
I have been there, done that. I do not have big regrets. Of course, I have taken many wrong decisions. However, like someone wise had said, "Sometimes a wrong turn can take you to the right place!" So no remorse what so ever.
Do not mistake this to be arrogance; it is just self-confidence that has come with age, exposure and with countless experiences big and small.
When I  was very young I secretly idolized my cousins. They were about10 years my senior. They looked very wise and grown up. I always felt small and humble in their presence. Today when I look at retired folks, a similar thought flashes across my mind. They look so confident and content with themselves. Well, it is only just a matter of time. Like this friend of mine who always use to say "Time and Tide Waits for None". And time, my friend, goes by faster than you can imagine.




The lessons I learnt so far (Well I am still learning, mind you): Treasure your days, they are numbered. Keep your life simple and keep your heart free of sorrow. Revere nature, it will be around long after you are gone. In this vast galaxy, you may be a small star but be a happy twinkling star.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Parenting

My father was asked to deliver my sister's lunch box to school. He was to say "Kaberi Das" and "4th grade" to the nun at the office. When my father reached the school, it transpired that there were two girls called Kaberi Das studying in the 4th grade! My father not having a clue about the complexities of classes and sections was then presented with both the girls. As the story goes, it seems that none of the girls was his daughter!
The nun, being kind and patient agreed to take my father for a short tour of all the sections of the 4th grade to identify the missing daughter. They walked down the corridor peering into all the classes and inquiring about the presence of a Kaberi Das in the class. However, the exercise proved futile.
By now, a very worried parent and the nun were desperate to resolve this dilemma. They were hurrying back to the office to check on the records when suddenly my father spied a familiar face sitting in the first bench of class 5A. It was the real Kaberi Das, his daughter!
It so transpired that my poor sister had been sitting in the wrong class for almost a whole month of the academic year with the wrong books and my very puzzled mother every evening struggling to make sense of the home-work  given.
The student, the teacher, the school and the parent had no clue that such a muddle that been going on.
Almost four decades have passed by since that 'confusion', and Kaberi Das has become Kaberi Bhuyan, a successful C.A, wife and mother.
My parents, whatever their parenting style, have produced two happy children.



Parenting has become a difficult job these days with all the information available. It is a tough choice between being a Tiger or a Free-Range Parent. Every child has a unique personality. No two children are similar (even from the same parent) and no parenting style can be 'the best one'.
I was never too serious about life and my parents didn't force things on me. I am still not serious about things but life is okay!
In the school where I teach, its Open Day for parents every Friday. I wait patiently for them to walk into my class to discuss their child's progress. As I sit and listen to them, I remember my 'lost' sister and my confused dad searching in the corridors of another school a long time ago and a smile spreads across my face.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Pink-Not A Movie Review


It had been a long tiring week and when I got home dog-tired on Saturday afternoon, my husband informed me that movie tickets for 'Pink' had been booked.


Pink hits you hard from the first scene. It is that kind of movie that takes over you completely. The film has a remarkable cast and some superb acting. I am not disclosing anything about the movie here.Walk into the theater with a blank mind and come out captivated. 
That it is a powerful movie is an understatement. Everyone needs to watch Pink. There are no two ways to this. It is that relevant a film.
For those who still need to read a review, please click on the link below.I wish to be a Lazy Blogger today.


Monday, August 15, 2016

My Mother's Cow

With all this 'tamasha' going on in India about cow crusade and 'Gau-Raksha',I am reminded of a funny incident from my childhood related to the 'gaiya' or 'goru' as we in the Brahmaputra valley call the cow.
By the way,'Goru' is also used as a harmless abuse in Assam.We use it to insult anyone who we think has less brains and is an idiotic simpleton.(If any member of the RSS is reading this,please ignore!)

 
                                                                                                   Gau Mata

Politics is obnoxious,let's not bring that up.Today I just want to share this cute little story about a cow.
My mother came from a land owning community in Kerala.They had lots of cows,goats,chickens, ducks around their house.When she married and settled down in Assam,she missed her 'mini Kerala zoo'.And so she kept whatever animal she could in our little house in Guwahati.
Guinea  pigs,dogs,cats,rabbits,pigeons,parrots,fish,all shared space with us during our growing up years.
One fine day my mother decided we had to own a cow too.Our 1200 square yard of grassy lawn seemed a waste with no cows grazing on it she stated matter-of-factly.The children could get fresh unadulterated milk and butter she reasoned.After a lot of cajoling my dad finally agreed to buy a cow.
The cow came with much fanfare.A shed was specially made for her and a Nepali help was employed to perform the cow duties.


                 And so we owned a cow.

One summer afternoon I woke up to loud heated arguments between my mother and kancha (the Nepali help).It transpired that OUR COW HAD DISAPPEARED!

My mother was in a fit.She ordered my dad to cut short his much loved siesta and go on a cow-hunting spree around town and not return till the animal was found.

After almost three hours of cow-hunt dad was finally back.He ordered my mother to serve him some  tea and said he had been successful in locating the cow. Kancha was bringing the lost cow back tied firmly with a rope.
 When the cow finally came home,my mother ran to the gate to receive her.But to her utter horror and shock it wasn't our cow!

                                                                     
                   I am the wrong cow!
Kancha was then asked to go right back and return the wrong cow from the place where they had found her munching merrily on the garbage.We couldn't keep someone else's cow my mother concluded firmly. 
And so off went Kancha to return the wrong cow.As luck would have it,on his way back, he was confronted by a couple of men who were out searching for their "lost cow"!They saw our Kancha pulling the cow with a rope and walking down the street.Nepalis in Assam are not very fluent in Assamese or Hindi so although Kancha tried his level best to explain things to them,they didn't buy his story and I guess it was too complicated anyways.The  men beat him up calling him a cow-thief. Kancha left our house that very day,"no cow,no Kancha"he said, refusing to take up any other domestic responsibilities.
What followed is any one's guess.My dad remained at the receiving end of my mother's mutterings and nagging for his failed attempts at  "Gau-Raksha"!   
 
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