Birthdays today! 

Birthdays – until I had children I never thought it would be such a huge thing. Birthdays always meant celebration at home; sandwiches, mini pizzas, samosa ( as we grew older), wafers, and juice. 

Games at these parties were what my mother would come up with. 1 minute challenges, passing the parcel, paper dance, and some random dancing. 

Photographs would be clicked by my father and the roll would be given for developing once it got over. Some pictures would be great, some obscure, and some just laughable. But so much fun. 


Return gifts – would almost always be stationary. Pencil boxes, fancy erasers, sharpeners, pencils, colours. 

Today it’s a different world out there. There’s insane amount of planning that is needed to pull of a good birthday. Hats off to all parents who painstakingly put these parties together. From the decor to the food to the cake to the outfit that the child and parents wear needs planning. Birthdays were so much simpler when I was growing up. 

A friend asked me if I would be there at a birthday party and I asked which one. Then I realised I wasn’t invited to it so said no to my friend. Note how I say ‘I’ wasn’t invited, birthdays now are more for the adults to socialise than the children really. 

Since a bunch of others were invited to the party and I was perhaps one of the few mothers who wasn’t, I felt bad. 

I didn’t realise that I had carried this sadness home. After dinner I was sitting alone and trying to read when my son came up to me and asked what’s wrong. 

Me – nothing at all

Son – you are looking sad Amma 

Me- smiling, just thinking about something

Son- prodding, but what?

Me- some birthday party that we are not invited to

Son- whose? 

Me- I tell him the name 

Son- who is that?

Me- that’s when it struck me. While I may be feeling sad about not being invited to a party where everyone else has been, my child was right – he didn’t know the child at all. What sense would it make to be invited? 

Lesson learnt – don’t try and be everywhere with everyone. It’s not possible and you won’t do justice to either them or yourself. Choose well and stay happy! 

Help please! 

There has to be a limit to pushing my buttons. There will be a point beyond which I will snap. I’m a fairly tolerant person and it takes a lot to get me angry. But off late my help at home has been managing to do this very often. 

——–

I must have requested the dhobi on multiple occasions to never let our clothes be with him overnight. If for some reason he is unable to finish the work I have always asked him to return the clothes and pick it up the following day. Despite being told again and again he chooses to do just that. What would you think? Is he doing it on purpose to irk me? Or is he genuinely incapable of comprehending a simple instruction. 

——–

I have, sorry strike that, I had a help who was the Schumacher equivalent in housework. In less than 60 minutes she accomplished so much work that it often gave me a complex. Anyway, to cut a long story short. The one day that my entire family decides to wake up late and laze around madam decides to clean all the bathrooms before any of us could even saunter out of bed. 

Just as she was gathering her things to leave, I told her she’d have to come back given that none of us had had a bath. She looked straight at me and said NO. Unsure of whether I had heard right I repeated myself. She repeated herself, NO. If you all cannot wake up and have a bath on time I can’t help it, I can’t change my time for you, she said. Trust me I felt like I’d been punched. 

This was perhaps the only time I had asked anything of her. The next day she didn’t show up and the day after when she did she tells me she can’t work in my house because I don’t adjust 😵 really now! 

—–

The highlight has to be the help who worked for 1.5 days. In that short period of time she made me go through a gamut of emotions. She was brilliant at her job no doubt and perhaps thought she could use that to her advantage. On her second day at work as she was making the bed she tells me she needs an advance of ₹15,000/-. 

I’m not even sure on how to react so continue feeding my child. She asked again. I said, you’ve barely stepped into my house and you want ₹15,000/-? What she says next blew my mind. She puts the quilt down and says, ‘if you can’t give it to me then I’ll just have to leave.’ And just like that she walked out 😤

Be kind! 

One statement is all it took to rattle me and make me supremely uncomfortable. At a dinner we recently attended with kids in tow, another mom whom I was meeting for the first time said to me, ‘is he also 4.5 years of age?’ She asked this pointing to my son who was playing with a group of 4 other similar age group kids. ‘Yes, he is,’ I said looking at my son and smiling. 

She then goes to say rather loudly, ‘oh I thought he was older. He looks so much ‘bigger’ than the other kids.’ The word bigger stuck to me. Why say anything at all if you can’t be tactful in what you say? The rest of the evening, for me, was a blur. What killed me further was when my child came up to me and apologetically said, ‘Amma I will pull my stomach in like this, see.’ 


To all those amazing people whom I come in contact with – don’t do and say things that will scar my child or me. Another time a well meaning friend while picking my child up feigned a back pain and said, ‘ah looks like you’ve gotten big.’ He went on to make some sounds that clearly indicated how hard it was on him to carry my child. 

Did I ask you to carry him?? Why take it upon yourself and then trouble us this way? 

It is also so important that we as patents watch what we say in front of kids. Kids don’t learn to call each other ‘motu’, ‘ladoo’, ‘golu’ etc. if they haven’t heard it being said at home. 

So please, if you can’t be kind just stay away. It’s so much better that way. 

Two Sides Of The Same Coin

It was a little past 1.00 a.m. when the last guests left the Menon party. Sharmila

and Ajith were known to host excellent parties; the food, alcohol, music,

ambience, and everything else were always different and talked about. This party

of theirs was no different. Ajith had invited a couple of his University friends for

dinner and drinks. Sharmila left no stone unturned in ensuring that everything

was perfect and just as Ajith liked it.

 

“Thank you so much Sharmila. We haven’t had such a relaxing evening in forever.

The food was delicious. And you have such a beautiful home,” said Nisha as she

stood at the door bidding the hosts goodnight. “Our pleasure really,” replied Ajith

all smiles. “Thank you for coming. We should do this again,” replied Sharmila.

Feeling content with all that was done for the evening, Sharmila turned to Ajith

and smiled. “That was good. Everyone seemed to have had a good time. I have no

leftovers either, which means everyone liked the food as well,” said Sharmila.

“Good job, lady!” Ajith said as he smiled and walked into the bedroom. Sharmila

decided to leave the tidying up for the morning. She was exhausted with all the

work that she had done since morning. Her trusted aide Lekshmi would come in

at 7 a.m. and that would lead to the house getting back in order.

 

Sharmila filled two bottles of water for the night and entered the bedroom. Ajith

had already changed and made himself comfortable in the bed. She started

removing her make-up when Ajith said; “Good you wore this saree tonight. If you

had worn what you had kept out instead, it would have looked so dull.” “That

saree was also such a pretty one, Ajith. If I had worn it I am sure you would have

liked it. You only bought me that one also,” Sharmila replied, a note of tiredness

in her voice.

 

Ajith always wanted to have the last word in so didn’t give up on the

conversation yet. “Come on Sharmila. There is no denying that what I chose

looked amazing. There is no way you would have looked this way if you wore

that other one. You looked regal in this,” he said. Some way of complementing he

has, thought Sharmila as she nodded and smiled at Ajith. The last thing she

wanted was a full blown argument at 1.30 a.m. “Absolutely Ajith. Your choice is

always impeccable,” she said as she went into the bathroom to change.

 

By the time she was changed for the night Ajith was fast asleep. She lay in bed

thinking about the first time Ajith mocked her choice of dressing. Barely a week

into the marriage, Ajith and Sharmila were invited for dinner at a senior

colleagues house. Sharmila decided to wear a peach saree and looked absolutely

divine in it. It was decided that Ajith would meet her straight at the venue after

work. The moment Sharmila walked in and Ajith laid eyes on her she knew

something was amiss. Even before pleasantries could be exchanged, Ajith said,

“That’s a flattering colour on you but I don’t see that as a night colour at all

Sharmila. Also, the gold chain and bangles are a bit too much.” Sharmila turned

all shades of crimson; she had expected Ajith to tell her she looked good, or

atleast tell her the saree wasn’t alright in private, not in front of three other

people, one of whom was the hostess for the evening. Seeing her pained face, the

hostess came to her rescue and started asking her about where she had bought

the saree. That one memory was etched in her heart forever. In that one moment

he managed to crush her.

 

Twelve years, that was how long Sharmila and Ajith were married for. Ajith was

a self-made man who rose quickly in his profession and with that growth his

arrogance also grew. Sharmila, on the other hand came from a family that gave

her all luxuries when she was growing up. She agreed to the arranged match

when her parents told her about how well their horoscopes had matched. She

wasn’t a rebel and didn’t find anything wrong with Ajith after meeting him twice.

It was a wedding that was the talk of the town for months after it was over as

well. Sharmila was pleasing and had a very alluring charm about her, Ajith

matched up to her in every way possible. He was charismatic, witty, and

extremely successful. Children were never a part of the larger scheme of things

for him and nature sided with him. Like all other things that she accepted, she

didn’t push this either. When the tests came back saying neither of them was in a

great position to bear kids, she just accepted it and let it go.

 

What people didn’t see and sometimes chose to overlook was his overbearing

nature. He always had to be right, always needed to have the last word. Sharmila

and Ajith were able to happily co-exist because she never got into arguments

with him. She let him run her life as he wanted to. Over the years she also learnt

his whims and fancies. She supported him.

 

Sharmila needed a good nights sleep after the hectic day she had had. She slept

well and was awake by 6.00 a.m., her usual time. She enjoyed the time she got to

herself in the mornings. No noise, no chores, just time to sit and enjoy her cup of

coffee. That morning she decided to play some music as she sat in her balcony

sipping on the coffee. Kishore Kumar’s voice singing ‘Kya Mausam Hai’ wafted

into the balcony. This immediately put Sharmila in a good mood; she had another

long day ahead. The entire cutlery from last evening had to be put back carefully

and the house needed to be brought back to order.

 

“Got up from the wrong side of the bed, is it?” boomed Ajith’s voice. “I don’t

understand how this Kishore Kumar was so popular. Just antics, no singing at

all,” he continued as he switched off the music system. Sharmila on the other

hand absolutely loved Kishore Kumar’s voice. Taking cue Sharmila got up from

the balcony and headed to the kitchen to start the day’s work. “I enjoy his music

Ajith,” she said slowly as she walked past him.

 

It was a little after 7.30 a.m. and Lekshmi hadn’t arrived yet. The house clock

could normally be tuned to her arrival, she was always there at 7.00 a.m. every

morning. Lekshmi had worked in the Menon household for almost 8 years now

and was as good as a family member. Sharmila trusted her immensely and often

left the house under her care and supervision when the couple travelled.

 

Sharmila waited until 8.00a.m. to call and check on her. Her husband answered

the call and said she was unwell and would be coming in late. “She could have

called and told me that. I have been waiting for an hour for her to come. Where is

she?” Sharmila asked in annoyance. “She is sleeping, madam. She will come,” he

said before cutting the call. Irritated with the state the kitchen was in, Sharmila

started cleaning the mess and putting away things from last night’s dinner party.

“Where is my blue striped shirt, Sharmila,” shouted Ajith from the bedroom. “It

must be in the ironed clothes pile. Can you please pick it up from there, my hands

are dirty.” Sharmila said. Five minutes later Ajith shouted again, “I cannot find it

anywhere and I am getting late. I need to wear that shirt today. Why is it so

difficult to find things here.” “Coming coming, give me two minutes,” Sharmila

said as she washed her hands and wiped them on her pyjamas.

 

Ajith was standing with his hands on his hips with a towel wrapped around his

waist. He looked like a lost puppy but had the temper of an angered bull.

Sharmila looked around and couldn’t find that particular shirt either. She then

went into the other room and opened Ajith’s cupboard and started looking there.

“Is this the one you are looking for?” she asked holding up an ironed blue-striped

shirt. “YES, but you said it was in the ironed clothes pile,” muttered Ajith. “All you

had to do is look around a little Ajith, you would have found it,” Sharmila said

smiling. Ajith wasn’t in a mood to reciprocate the smile. He did say thank you

though. “Breakfast is ready, I am going to lay the table,” she said as she left the

room.

 

Breakfasts were sacrosanct in the Menon household, Ajith believed in having a

hearty meal in the morning before leaving home. With Lekshmi not being that

mornings breakfast was a quickly put together one. Sharmila in the little she had

in the kitchen had managed to make idlis, cut fruits, squeeze a tall glass of orange

juice, and had the coffee ready. Ajith sat down to have his breakfast and after

serving himself three idlis started looking around for something on the table.

“Your fruits are in the bowl, Ajith,” said Sharmila. “No, I am looking for the

chutney,” he said. The one thing that Sharmila hadn’t made he wanted. “Oh, I

didn’t make chutney. I’ve got the molagapodi (chutney powder) here,” she said

hoping he would be fine with that.

 

“Come on Sharmila. You know I like my breakfast to be perfect. It’s the one meal I

eat at home and that sets the tone for the day. One day of not having your man-

Friday around and you are lost,” he said in complete disregard to the hurt he was

causing Sharmila. “It will take me a few minutes to make some coconut chutney.

Let me quickly make it,” she said going into the kitchen. Ajith waited till she was

done and ate his idlis only with the chutney. “These taste really good, the idlis are

so fluffy and good Sharmila,” he said as he polished off three more idlis before

reaching for his glass of juice.

 

Once breakfast was done, Ajith was ready in five minutes for the day ahead. “You

have a good day Sharmila. Will see you by 8 this evening. Love you,” he said as he

left the house. He was gone before Sharmila could even respond to what he said.

She looked up at the clock and dialed Lekshmi’s number again. This time she

answered. “Lekshmi, what is this? You know we had guests last night. The house

is a mess. When are you going to show up?” Sharmila asked. “I’m coming didi.

Should be there in another 5 minutes,” she said.

 

Five minutes later the doorbell rang and in walked Lekshmi looking tired and ill.

“What happened to you? You were fine when you left from here yesterday,” said

Sharmila. “Sorry didi,” she said and walked into the kitchen to start cleaning the

dishes. Not wanting to indulge in talk now Sharmila left her to her work and

started tidying up the living area; fluffing the cushions, pulling out bits and

pieces of food and tissue from nooks and corners. An hour later the kitchen and

living room were back to looking neat ad tidy.

 

Sharmila walked into the kitchen to make tea for Lekshmi and herself. As the tea

was brewing, Sharmila looked at Lekhsmi and asked again, “What happened to

you?” Lekshmi didn’t say anything for a few seconds and then said, “same story

again, didi. He got angry about something that I cannot even remember now and

beat me up. Yesterday he was like an animal,” she said showing Sharmila her

scalp where there was a deep gash. “Oh god, Lekshmi. That looks terrible. Have

you seen a doctor? Did you get it cleaned? It will get infected if you just leave it

that way,” Sharmila said in panic.

 

“He broke a bottle on my head. I thought he would stop at that didi, but no he

was uncontrollable last night. Punched me in my stomach, pulled my hair,

mouthed such cuss words. And I still do not know why he did it all,” she said in

tears now.” Sharmila was shivering just hearing all this and wondered how this

girl puts up with it every week. She walked up to her and gave her a hug. Though

only a help in the Menon household, Lekshmi was like family to Sharmila. She

treated her like that and felt a personal sense of jolt every time something like

this happened to her. “Come, lets have our tea and then let me call and get an

appointment with Dr. Chadha for that wound of yours,” said Sharmila. “What will

I do if not for you didi,” said Lekshmi with folded hands.

 

As she was pouring the tea into the mugs, Sharmila looked at Lekshmi and said,

“Why don’t you leave him Lekshmi. This is what he does every week to you. What

is it that is holding you back?” Sharmila knew what Lekshmi would say; this

conversation between them had played out many a times in the eight years she

worked there. Sharmila was expecting her to talk about how when he wasn’t

drunk he was a ‘good husband’. He cared for the children, worked hard to

provide for their education, and even put aside some money to buy them all gifts

on Diwali every year. His biggest vice was alcohol; ever so often he would get

drunk and come home to beat Lekshmi. This was perhaps the first time that she

had come to work with such a bad injury.

 

What Lekshmi said stunned Sharmila. “Didi, I have immense love and respect for

you. May I ask you something?” she said. “Ofcourse you can,” said Sharmila.

“What is it?” After a few seconds of thought Lekshmi decided to go ahead and

speak her mind. “Why do you put up with it?” Sharmila wasn’t sure she followed

what Lekshmi asked her. So asked her, “Why do I put up with that Lekshmi?”

“Didi, my husband beats me black and blue after he drinks. The marks he leaves

are there for everyone to see and comment on. But what you face is no less.

Everyday you put up with what bhaiya says to you. I see how you want to react

but just keep quiet.” Sharmila tried to say something to her; she was angry that

Lekshmi would say this to her. She was overstepping the boundary. Not wanting

to hold back now, Lekshmi continued, “Didi, I have worked here for very long. I

understand everything that goes on. Just being beaten is not abuse. What you

face is also abuse didi. You chose to ignore it and live on, and so do I. We are both

foolish in our own ways. We both are looking to hold on to the niceness that

these men seem to have,” she said.

 

There was silence in the kitchen. Sharmila didn’t know what hit her from where.

She knew that there was truth in what Lekshmi had just said. Over the years she

had become a passive partner in the relationship. From choosing what she wore,

where they ate, what she did with her time and life, he decided it all. She

wondered then how so much had changed, when she had become this person

who was so unrecognisable now.

 

“We lead very similar lives didi. The difference is I wear the marks for everyone

to see and you carry them deep in your heart.”

Motivation 


Ok so I must admit that I’ve watched the fat to fit video of Aamir Khan atleast a dozen times if not more. It’s amazing to see the transformation that he went through all in a span of five months. I’m amazed and inspired.

The inspiration stayed with me until last evening, through the night I was thinking about it. Aamir Khan’s profession demands that he looks ‘good’ and stays fit. He has a barrage of people working on him. His diet, his every exercise is monitored and that is what you see before you. The results are the efforts of all those people who worked on him and with him to lose the weight and get fit. While it is inspiring it is also very deceptive. Losing that kind of weight, especially that stubborn belly fat ( ask me) is a Herculean task and I wonder if it is doable by you and me in five months. 

For Aamir Khan the motivation was the movie and obviously he had to lose that weight to play the part of the younger wrestler. What’s my motivation? Honestly I’m now at a stage, which I am hating, of having zilch motivation. Why should I lose weight? To look good? I look good as I am. To feel energetic? That doesn’t seem to push me enough. To lead a healthy life? I feel I am healthier than many other ‘thin’ ‘slim’ people around me. 

So what do I do? Where do I get that motivation from? I see so many older people wake up so early in the morning to get out for a walk. What pushes them? I wonder. Will that motivate me too? 

Never go Indigo 

I’m not a first time traveller, I’m not a fussy traveller, I’m also not one to take crazy policies lying down. Indigo, you have enraged the mother in me and I’m sitting in your flight from Mumbai to Goa and typing this out.

 

I walk into the airport almost an hour and a half before the schedules flight time. I am travelling with my two kids and husband. I walk towards the counter which has a board mzshowing infants. The help staff stops me and says, ‘madam yeh line only for mother and infant.’

I point to my 1.5 year old and say, ‘he is an infant.’ By then your staff has come close to me and asks, ‘you bought infant ticket for him?’ I’m not sure what that means even so say, ‘yes, he is an infant so I have bought an infant ticket for him.’

After this conversation I go and stand in the queue. The loader comes back to me and asks my husband to go to the other queue. Now this is where my issues begin. We are a family of four travelling together. Our tickets are in one mail, what sense would it make to split us up and leave me with two children, one of whom is by now howling.

I tried my best to request, ask, question, and even argue about this policy. I would assume you have a counter for special assistance to work efficiently and offer assistance. But this policy defeats that completely. If my husband were to travel with the infant would he not be allowed to stand in that counter? #sexistmuchisn’tit? #regressivepolicy

Also, when you are printing three boarding passes how is it going to make a difference if you printed one more. I would think it’s better use of the time and resources on hand. #timetorethinkindigo

While I was checking in your staff at the counter asks me to place my bags on the belt, now what’s the big deal about the separate counter if you don’t even help me with my baggage? You saw I had my child in one arm and a bag in the other. For that you say to me, ‘ma’am please ask your husband to place the bags on the belt.’ Come on, for picking up the bags you want my husband to stand around otherwise you were happy to shoo him away to another counter. #whatsensedoesitmake

I ask you why you have that special assistance counter? Is it for the mothers comfort? The child’s comfort? Because neither me or my children felt comfortable. Also, if I were to stand in that counter and check in and then had to wait another 20 odd minutes for the husband to check in, what sense does the special assistance make? I’m waiting around anyway. 

Also, indigo you are not doing me a favour by flying me. So please throw the nose up in the air and we are too good for you attitude out of the window. I understand you work on a low fare model but here’s what I suggest, increase your prices to match the better airlines and then see how many customers stay loyal to your airline. I know I won’t.

#disgruntledcustomer #indigogroundstaffbemoresensitive #nomoreindigo

Hello, not now.

“You must teach him to say hello if someone speaks to him,” said my mother. This was after a neighbour tried making conversation with my 4 year old and he just refused to open his mouth or even nod in acknowledgment. “But amma, he does say hello when he wants to,” I said defending him. “No no, you must keep on telling him that if someone talks to him then he must reply. He shouldn’t just walk away or turn his head,” my mother went on. I nodded, not because I agreed but because I did not want to get into a discussion just then.

This happened and then a few days later I met my son’s school didi who said, “R is such a sweet child. Whether I say good morning or not to him he comes up to me every morning and wishes me. He also wishes all the Bhaiya’s (guards and helpers) when he sees them.” Now isn’t this what makes a mother proud and happy and all things mushy? I was super elated to hear this.

Made me wonder, the same child wishes a set of people on his own and chooses not to wish some others. It really should just be his choice to make. I have never coerced or forced him to shake hands, hug, kiss, smile, or talk to anyone who he chooses not to. We must learn to respect them.

Watching this clip and reading everything that is being written about Prince George not responding to the ‘high five’ by Canadian Prime Minister is what made me write this now. Let the kids be….