Category Archives: Parenting

#A2ZChallenge Catch-up: W is for Water

Dear Water

As I looked on, the Brahmaputra showed me the full stretch of his expanse, and I was humbled. Were you a sea masquerading as a mere river? Were you THE mighty river spoken of only in myths and folklore? I could see in my mind’s eye the huts on stilts at a distance, and it looked like seafarers lived in them, not everyday village folks with regular real estate decisions. Then, again, when I saw the Zanskar and his emerald green waters from the mountains, I was stupefied. Not only were you called Zanskar, but you were of the bewitching Indus, creating curves of beauty imprinted on Ladakh’s unique landscapes. Such beauty in all your avatars, oh water.

But, this is not about that.

This is about the dance we do.

Eight what? What of Eight? What did you say?

I have been told by the ancient wise that drinking water can solve such a range of human challenges, it is not jocularity. Emotional upheaval? Here’s some water. Mad at the wi-fi, take a water break. Big presentation, take a sippa da water. Made a statement, sip that water for swag. Everything – from our epidermis to the follicle, from the nail to the liver, from the kidney to the knuckles loves water apparently. Even though we are 70% water, we still cannot get enough. And that brings me to ze rule. Of Eight. It started with eight glasses (the most widely split measurement in the whole Milky Way, I mean, what is a glass??), 2.5 litres, or eight cups or eight 1-ounce glasses was it?

I have heard everything. That does not mean I have done diddly squat. I can barely get through a measly bottle a day. And like every aspiring swimmer there is, I have bought gear. Oh, have I got gear. Ceramic, enamel, non-toxic stainless steel with trippy caps and key rings, and a little hook for the ladies’ purses. All of the jazz. None of the water.

Shakes and Bladders

The truth is what lurks within. Literally. The bladder. I feel mine is a major anatomical anomaly, with some cross-wiring in its internal modems and fluctuating capacities. Out of nowhere, it becomes code red. When you least expect it. And when you have to. Like in a public bathroom, or in the middle of an uphill trek with only barbs and wilderness around. Or when you are wearing a jumpsuit (note to the department of abominable apparel creations). Or when you are with your six-month old on an airline, while on descent.

Pee buddyWhen I walked the Oxfam trek, they handed us a “stand and pee” contraption, because everyone knows women in India have it tough (I mean, specifically, the state of pee places; no giant sociological opinion, nope). The idea is that you can pee anywhere you want into a little cardboard tent. It is as important an invention to India’s state of toilet-readiness as iPod was to the smart devices outbreak. So, a moment of silence for these guys.

And a big BOO to whatever it is in the universe that makes people mess up public toilets the way they do. It’s like someone’s bucket list to clog every drain there is, and leave a pebble trail. Which, unlike what happens in Hansel and Gretel, IS NOT made of bread crumbs. Less said, (also less seen, less inhaled) the better.

In the process, I got initiated into core and glutes strengthening even before I knew what these were. Hanging and squatting over the toilet seat or holding my daughter up in a handhold worthy of being recognized as a ballet move. All this, while maintaining zero contact with ANYTHING. Stronger arms, biceps, triceps, glutes and finer motor co-ordination. Full points for that. Terrible score for my bladder, which clearly missed the evolutionary train.

Signed,

Full of it.

W is for water

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#A2Z Challenge: V is for Viral Fever!

Dear Viral Fever

(Not to be confused with the social media viral fever. This is the original gangster which leaves your legs feeling like plutonium dumbbells and your backbone like if someone embroidered on it with iron thread)

There was a time when you had influence and clout in all circles. Your name meant something, and people would stop and listen. I fear much erosion. It’s just not the same anymore. You are not even an also-ran today. So, here is my almost-eulogy, because you are still around, and much feared, in a few limited demographics.

With great virtue, comes a great viral fever

You were always a good fever. I remember in the days of your or my youth, how being sick at school was actually an ignominy, but being “down with a viral fever” was top-shelf. Everyone would find a way to leave a “get well soon” message without Whatsapp. Some would even stop by after school to inquire, at a safe distance. You would bring plates of hot, runny kichchdi, everything else room-temperature and one hour more of mom time daily. At least one person would be in full attendance, either via shifts or one full person on duty. This was the king of respectable sicknesses. Your halcyon days. Don’t get me wrong, you still regularly knock everyone out, but the atmospherics has slimmed quite a bit. The emoticon has gone from “All hail” to “Meh, whatever, get in line”.

The elite microbes take over

At a microbe convention somewhere, the virus community felt they needed to mix things up a bit. They had had a good run at school and other community establishments, but some microbe with an advanced degree in risk management, took it onto itself to “Make Viruses Great Again”. Hello, all kinds of elite viruses. They had their own four-letter alphanumeric acronyms, task forces, government funding, wait lists, bumper stickers, preventive helmets and what nots. The only thing this achieved was make washing hands cool. Now, every community establishment has a cool interactive touch screen about all the ten movements involved in washing your hands in the ONLY ONE WAY that the World Health Organization approves of. A classic anticlimax. In the bargain, the original gangster viral fever also kept losing ratings, because it was not mean enough. It had become a parody of itself.

Those terrible, terrible remedies

Calling in sick for a viral fever is worse than the sickness itself. It does not carry the entitlement it used to, and everyone, with our own personal MBBS degree, automatically assumes that an antibiotic exists that will fix it. When, in fact, an antibiotic has as much power on a virus, as Netflix has on timely sleep. NADA. Or when you are supposed to be healed by such timeless quotidian magic as “Feed the fever”, “A fever will leave in seven days if treated, and in a week, if untreated”, or the evergreen, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Why do we even have medical schools, anyway? I could just do with these and regular viewings of House M.D. Too much drama and elevator misuse in Grey’s Anatomy.

So, Mr Viral Feevs, you can be out-virused by anything today, and there is much diversity in the sick leave “hall of fame”. Someone has signed off on “intestinal disillusionment” and “thoracic heartbreak” in some office today.

You are still a force to reckon with in daycares and schools though. Ask any mother of little creatures. Or don’t. Mothers are now immunized against such platitudes like “this flu has been in the air”, “this is the luck of the draw”, “you are a working mama so this had to happen” or my personal favorite, “have you done steam inhalation yet?” They are your fans, Viral Fever. Every year, you do the “hafta vasooli” with Mamas Incorporated, and they still dread you. Especially in those summer months, when “flu is in the air”, and all those other months when “there is that bug going around”.

They said Thanks. Just kidding. They DID NOT.

Signed,

No virus were harmed in the making of this gibberish bunkum

Viral Fever

#A2ZChallenge: F is for Frozen

Dear Frozen the movie

You have been a good movie. I love the break from tradition, and you were one of the first to go there. By now, most of the queens, princesses and village seamstresses have had their little retelling interventions, including the Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Maleficent, Rapunzel and even Gretel. Some of these have gone full dark, with ninja Snow Whites and witch-hunting Gretels hopping around dystopic, sepia townscapes on important looking horses with good dental condition.

I love you movie

As a movie, you are kick-ass. Sister power is the most awesome thing ever, and has always made women look gangster. Long before Beyonce’s Lemonade. That true love’s only qualification is that it’s true. There are no other boxes to be checked on this form. Such sacrifice as we never thought we would make, and more love than we ever imagined we could receive will touch our lives, and make every moment soar. In the last few minutes of your story, all this came alive for me.

The child though

The child in me adores Elsa and Anna and and Kristof and Olaf and Marshmallow. I walked away moved by the movie and all its messages. Women, men, snowmen, overbearing guests, unlikely friends, good looking A-holes, slipping through sand, second chances and redemptions. The other child, my actual child, a five-year old girl, however – COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THING. She watched the movie and her mind came out chrome-plated and snow-flaked with Frozen. Now every reference, of good or bad, heroism and sacrifice, pink and blue, idli and dosa, is heavily steeped in the Frozen frame of reference. I tell a story of Malala and pat comes the question, “Why do you need to go to school if you have ice powers”. I speak of igneous rocks, ready to answer if fjords can be made from snow and igneous rocks. Cumulus clouds are merely Elsa’s extra snow supplies. If there are airports, there are planes to icy castles and if there is hair, it is snowy silver. Everyone else’s hair is all wrong, and Elsa’s wand might help fix you.

And the merchandise and music

Avoiding Frozen merchandise even after all these years is not a listed option. Toothbrushes, underwear, school bags and bedspreads are passe. A place in my brain close to the Amygdala has been hijacked by repeated Frozen merchandise exposure. I can no longer process regular items of everyday use without seeing green gowns or transparent blue shrugs. The rods and cones in my retina have become Elsa and Anna. I have been contacted by John Hopkins to advance the cause of neurosciences, on this account.

Then the business of THAT SONG. It was ok reading The Gruffalo’s story every night for 7.4 million nights straight, with a passable quality of voice overs and hand animation. I am saying its ok but if Hercules was up for his 13th task, this would be it. The Guiles of Gruffalo or the Gruffalo Groundhog Day, it might be called. But then “Let it go” happened. And by happen, I mean it played on loop for as much time as it takes for Rajma to cook, or a more fathomable reference, since the last T-Rex walked this earth. We now charge the MP3 player by directing plugging the wires into a small windmill we have installed just to meet this power surge. It is still playing.

Let it go, let it go. Turn away and slam the door. That’s the song, and my recent selfie confirms that my ears have now been replaced entirely with words from this song, appearing in C minor.

Signed,

Shaken, Stirred and Frozen

PS: Apologies to Julia Donaldson, The Gruffalo is an amazing childrens’ book and I actually laughed non-stop every time for the first 65,000 times.

disney-frozen-decorations-dFhMS5-clipart

P for Parenting. Not for Partnership.

Parenting has nothing to do with having made a baby or taken one in. No one knew that better than Mrinal. She was raising a daughter, who she was not fully in love with yet, on account that they had not spent enough time together. She was torn between her responsibilities as a provider who must not stop to think and the giver who must not be afraid to love, and feel all the terrible pain, guilt, sense of deficit that comes with it. She always called to ask after Chaya, but was handicapped to talk to her beyond a few minutes. She would have faked it, but this was her daughter. That is a different territory of test.

For the first time in Chaya’s eight years, Mrinal was going to be her only care-giver. What a shit storm was brewing.