Music: My best friend

Nothing felt quite great. Life, in general, had hit rock bottom.

I remember battling it out at work everyday. All day, hoping the day would end soon. And when it did – I remember feeling a lump in my throat, as my mind went vacant enough to realize how truly terrible things were. My ride back home was about 30 minutes. But everyday, during that phase, I turned up the music and drove till I felt better. And you know what, it almost always did.

Music has been a dear friend since forever. I know, I know…we all love music. Who doesn’t? But for me – music has always meant much much more.

For me – songs have filled in places that people could never fill…express emotions I didn’t know a thing about…make me realize how beautiful a moment was…add purpose and clarity…and sometimes…fill a void that seemed impossible to overcome. Music has always been my hero. My best friend.

And hey – it isn’t just about the sad moments. Most of the happiest moments in my life so far felt even more magical because of music.

I clearly remember the song that played when we got married. His eyes gleamed as we looked at each other. I remember that it was then that it hit me – “It is all happening!”, I thought.

When we threw Dad a surprise retirement party – we chose some of the best retro music from his college days. It was amazing to see him and his friends enjoy the night with their favourite music. Smiling, laughing, dancing…a side of him I had totally forgotten, given his long workaholic stints with jobs before.

We went to Paris a few years ago, and planned our trip in a way that would ensure we could see one of our favourite bands perform LIVE – Coldplay. After a wide array of ups and downs – we made it. Throughout the concert, we screamed at the top of our lungs as our favourite songs played. One after the other. A beer in one hand, and each others’ hands in the other – life could not get any better.

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I remember when my daughter was born. She popped out early. Way early. Nothing was ready. Nuh-uh. Not nearly there. And there she was – wanting it out already. I was in early labor, and I distinctly recall Bono mumbling ‘With Or Without You’ in our car stereo as we drove to the hospital ER like a scene out of an action movie. It all happened too quickly. She was born soon after we landed at the hospital. I pinched myself to realize what had happened in a matter of hours – but it still felt like a dream. “I need to wake up”, I thought. A few days later, as we swaddled that tiny baby up and left for home in our car – he turned up the car stereo. It was a perfect drive home with the little one. We both were in love all over again…with the little one, and this thing called life.

Music has always had a therapeutic role to play in my life. It has always found me, and vice versa. And I continue to rely on this companion for the rest of my life…to make things more meaningful and everything bizzarely beautiful. If I could spend all my life doing nothing but listening to music – I’d be in paradise. And THAT’S the plan for years down the line.


 

“Music can change the world, because it can change people” – Bono

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Let’s be silly (a bit longer)

I faintly remember running around in our backyard chasing my sister. She had a new eraser I had set my eyes on. Then there was this day where all I recall doing was to sit in the sun and eat chilled mangoes. Well, that always got messy. Another time – I watched my sisters and brothers coordinate their dance moves to the latest peppy musical number. It looked so awesome that I thought they all had a great chance at getting into the movies. Then I remember getting stung by a bee once, when mom was away at work – I cried and cried. Well, atleast until the neighbor lady offered me some ice cream. The pain magically disappeared. The park opposite our home had these gigantic sunflowers. That’s how I always drew them – sunny, fiery yellow and big! Every evening, we would eagerly wait for 2 of the coolest things life could offer. The first was the ice cream guy – who came ringing a bell into our lane – a sound we longed to hear all day. The second was this guy who would give us kids an amazing 2 minute-ride on his mini-ferris wheel for 5 bucks.

I have tons and tons of inane memories from when I was a child. Some amazing glimpses, that almost like movie cuts, take me back into time. These memories are so real…that it is hard to believe how life has changed. Oh, those glorious years!

When I look at my nearly 2 year old daughter today…the thing that amazes me the most…are the things that amaze her. And I can totally see her thought process…

  • Move over toys. Here comes an empty box that makes this super sound when I bang it with a pen.
  • Oh this CD case is amazing. Look how mommy flips when I turn it upside down and all the colourful discs rush to the ground.
  • Wowie. Water in a glass. I can spill it, throw it, use a straw to drop-by-drop smear the table with it, put paper in it. A world of endless possibilities.
  • An empty bottle and cap…or better still…a can!

It really doesn’t take rocket science to amuse a toddler that young. The most random things get her busy and engaged for minutes together. Life, as a toddler, is really quite simple. And then the adult in me got me thinking – when last – was life this simple for me? I thought hard. And all I could think of was memories from childhood that I described at the start of this post.

Sure…grown-up life has been amazing. School, college, job, another job…and so on. A world of  many interesting things and people await my daughter. She has so much to look forward to. But is there’s any phase of life as loving, fulfilling, non-committal and unADULTerated as childhood? Nay!

I hear other parents (who have kids my daughter’s age) speak eagerly of sending their toddler to a prep / play school. Help them “grow”, “learn”, “adapt”…and so on. Do I want my daughter to imbibe all these qualities? Yes. However, as a parent, I see a life full of “grind” ahead in my baby’s life – and I, for one, am in no rush to rush her into it.

This brings me to the point…why rush kids into play schools? Trust me – I’ve thought about it. I’m the kind who’d over-think, and then think more. For now – I’ve taken the call to not stand in the playschool admissions’ queue already. When I mentioned this to another new mommy a few weeks ago – she gasped. “But why would you do that?”, she asked – almost implying that I would be depriving my child of her potential with this decision. But my thinking goes a bit like this…

As long as my child is stimulated enough (mentally and physically) and has a support system that allows her to stay-at-home for another few months – MUST I rush her into school already? Will straight joining school (and skipping play school i.e.) hamper her growth as an individual? I really have serious doubts.

I have been observing kids of all kinds…and specifically comparing those who go to playschools and others who join school directly. There are absolutely no traits that I see standing out differently. Some go to playschools and are still shy. Some stay at home, and still love mixing with other kids in the park. Bottomline – all kids are different. Playschool or not. Some good at X, and others at Y, and another set at Z. Eventually, they all go to school, They all “grow up” and shape up just about fine. It is this weird peer pressure that forces us to think otherwise.

Academics, promotions and the works…let’s face it…life gets serious as we go along. It is only a matter of time…when my daughter will have lesser play time, a daily routine, must have hobbies, bed time, wake up time, essential academic potential, needed social skills – what not. I, in all probability, will be the first taskmaster breathing down my daughter’s neck to help ensure she is giving it all her best. Until then, I am deeply committed to leaving the CONTROL out and letting her make room in her life for all things that are crazy, mindless, silly and kiddish.

While others fret about play school admissions, I am sitting on this one for now…and plan on letting life cruise in toddler mode…just for a little more time.


Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things.

 

 

The very okay choice of not being a parent

“How long have you been married?”, the lady asked. “It has been 6 years”, she replied. There you go again, she thought to herself. She knew what was coming next.

“Ah wow. That’s long. Kids?”, the lady went on.

“No”, her reply was short and simple. But clearly, not enough. “Oh. No kids yet? Why not”?, the lady said – puzzled and raising her eyebrows.

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Let’s face it. As seen world over, but even more so in our close-minded Indian society – your personal life is a punching bag (that everyone gets a shot at) and the topic of your marriage (and related things) a national obsession.

With changing times, I today see more and more couples from our generation breaking free from the societal baggage…taking calls differently and making new choices. Choices that may not be conventional. Choices that may be hard. But most importantly – choices that are their own.

Figure this. Looking around, I see so many folks give up their 9 to 5 jobs to start-up and live their dreams. Then there’s that new bunch of people who give up their high paying jobs for working with a charity. I know so many single men and women in their late 20s and 30s – all waiting to find the right life partner. More and more couples skipping the medically recommended “ideal timeframe for having kids”. Couples choosing to have only one child. And even more so – couples that are taking the decision of not having any kids at all. This includes my best friend, who recently told me that she and her husband were not going to have any kids of their own. Given how much she is into my baby daughter (always buying her things and spoiling her silly) – this came as a surprise to me. Those kissable cheeks, tiny fingers, twinkling eyes…how could she not want one?

“I love kids, but I just don’t think I want to own the responsibility of having one myself”, she clarified. As someone who is super kicked about their recently acquired motherhood status…her decision amused me for a bit. But brainwashing my best friend to change her mind on this important decision was not my plan. Why?

She is my best friend, and after a short chat…I understood what she meant.

Having children has all sorts of implications on our lives. Physical, emotional and financial. Being a new mommy, I had recently been through a lot of this myself. Today, I see putting many of my own preferences and likes at the absolute backburner – not because I HAVE to. Simply because I WANT to. I pick a lot of stuff that is overbearing for me to handle. A lot of “responsibility”. All of which, at the end of the day – I LOVE. It’s a CHOICE I make. My friend, admittedly, was not cut out to go ahead on this journey of ultimate self-sacrifice. And that is HER choice.

This choice of hers doesn’t mean she is immature. Nor is she irresponsible. And I can assure you – she is anything but selfish. But somewhere – I see how her decision fits into what SHE wants to do with her life. And why shouldn’t she be entitled to that? Having a child is not meant to be a chore that one’s got to get over with. Or go ahead with – simply for the fear of “what will the world think of me?”.

As for my best friend, she’ll always have my daughter to pour her maternal instincts all over. They get along like a house on fire. If that makes her happy enough – game on.

A lot of Indians live their lifetime trying to find that conventional mould of what one would qualify as a good wife / husband / brother / sister / son / daughter…and so on. But that’s changing. Perhaps this is why so many Indian families are turning nuclear. Living away from family. DINKs (Double Income No Kids).

Loving the family and recognizing that relationships matter…is an inherent part of how Indians are raised. But our generation is now willing to walk the tougher road by making themselves and their choices heard with the elders. And that leads to mutual respect. Like in this case…my best friend’s family has accepted her decision…and continue to love truly love her – with or without a baby in the picture.


Come mothers and fathers

Throughout the land
Don’t criticize
What you can’t understand

Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin’

Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For your times they are a-changin’

We have all gone MAD

It’s official. We are losing it.

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See that crowded office elevator with eight people in it? Surely you see how six of them are busy tapping away on their cellphones? Oh, then there’s that friends catch up session you had last weekend. Did you manage to put out that Facebook post on “lunch fun” tagging each other alongwith that group selfie? Oh, and let’s not forget how Instagram-worthy your steamed fish looked when it arrived…well…the filters helped. Remember those crucial five seconds you spent on the phone when you halted the car at the signal for 15 seconds? Newspapers are no more our loo companions. Hey the phone is the new kid on the block. Office emails, Whatsapp chats, Twitter chatter, games, and probably a gizillion of other social networking apps out there – they are all a part of our family time today. The dinner table. The TV huddle time. Those last few minutes of the day when you just relax in the bed and do nothing. And God forbid – talk!

Let me table this thought right here: When was the last time you managed to pass five minutes of spare time without touching your cellphone? Think hard.

I realised this sometime back.

I’d got home from work and sat with my baby daughter as she played away. I absolutely love this precious time we spend together after I’m home after a hard day’s work. We hang out, we have fun. Now coming back to that day. She was being typical baby herself and trying to get my attention to give her a hug. Every three seconds. (Yes, more on that later). Next up, she wanted me to hug her bunny. I was busy checking out something on Twitter and unknowingly kept ignoring her. Cut to bedtime. She rushed towards me with her bed time storybook. I, on the other hand, was busy checking office emails. She tried longer – and I was brilliant enough to hand her the teddy she so loves. Genius! She forgot all about the story and went to play. Soon after…she fell asleep. It was just about then that I got done with my phone and notice the ‘us time’ I had just missed. This was a one off incident, but it did get me thinking.

As a working mother, I’m game for being all with my kiddo once I’m home. Sometimes, work continues to drag me even then – but days like these are rare and accommodating your baby to your lifestyle is always a good thing. And there is ofcourse that occasional time when you decide that is is okay to be human and want to check Facebook to check what everyone you know if upto. But – what about the mindless attention the entire world is giving to their phones?

Are cellphones or the internet really the only things left connecting us all? Is there any life beyond?

Sure – it is fun, it is engaging. And in many many ways – a necessity. Technology is a great enabler for the lives that we lead today. But striking a balance is crucial here. On some things, the offline flavour just tastes better. Like what?

As a kid, there were many crazy games we experimented with. Whatever happened to hide and seek? When was the last time you saw a bunch of kids playing hopscotch? Remember the good old newspaper? Or those things called (real) books?

Make no mistake – one needs to move with the times, else suffer from the high probability of going extinct. The TV, the cartoons, the XBOX, real time online news…are all very good. But somewhere…we are trading this all for some great and compelling experiences…experiences that were better the traditional way. And eventually – losing it all.

Hypocritical me. Because I, for one, have multiple email IDs, fairly active Facebook and Twitter accounts etc etc. Am I saying I will switch off? No way. Let’s get real. I just think it is important to give yourself that time out and sometimes – just consciously log off.

Detox drive. Day 7 today. I trying to consciously avoid obsessively checking my phone for notifications, or posting updates, or figuring work emails. Believe it or not – when I pick up the cellphone again after that break – the internet is still there. Patiently waiting for me.

Logging off for now.


Video killed the radio star.
Video killed the radio star.
In my mind and in my car, we can’t rewind we’ve gone too far.

Let’s roll…

It’s been a while since I thought of joining the rambling club.

But it just never happened.

There was never a good time. Well, actually – there’s never ANY time at all! But it’s probably time to deal with that differently now. I realized that even if my days were to be 30 hours long, I would still be whining about never finding enough time. How much is “enough” anyway?

Well, something’s gotta give. And not everyone’s going to get. Between this all – I need to make time for things and people that mean much to me. Trust me – there aren’t too many of those.

It’s funny how years pass by, and suddenly, you find yourself mindlessly steering in a direction. Next up – inconsequential questions. “Did I really find this place on a map and drive towards it?”. The way I see it – there’s nothing to mull over really. As long as one decides to stick their neck out and course correct. Find new routes, and places to be. Hopefully the drive comes with a view to kill.

Guess we’ll know now…

It’s time to roll!

*Turns up the music*


I dig my toes into the sand 
The ocean looks like a thousand diamonds…strewn across a blue blanket
I lean against the wind…pretend that I am weightless. And in this moment I am happy