A Photo a Week Challenge: Babies

What a wonderful topic and one that, coincidentally, is similar to something I had been working on for my own blog! This provides me with the opportunity to combine the two and it makes me happy:)

As some of you know, our baby girl recently turned one while our son will be turning five next month. I keep thinking where did time fly and wonder if it is hurrying past me a little too fast. Days flow into nights, some being more chaotic than others. Do you know what I mean? There is never enough time to get anything done, yet somehow everything does get done. It’s a different story that the house is no longer clean and my ‘to do list’ just keeps getting longer!

I have heard people, who have more than one child, say how their  kids are different from each other, and while it made sense, I never could grasp the meaning in its entirety till I had a second one. Our son and daughter have been different from day one, if I may say, and it is a whole lot of fun watching them grow with their distinct styles! The son- never slept in his crib till about 5 months old and preferred my lap; took his own sweet time to crawl and walk; would sit at a place and be busy with his toys, keeping himself engaged for a good amount of time; never picked up anything off the floor and put in his mouth during the crawling phase or never played with the power outlets; very friendly with no fear of strangers which meant no tears at social gatherings; a gentle boy. Even as a toddler, he was a wonderfully polite who never let us feel the ‘terribleness’ of the ‘terrible two’s and three’s”. He still is a sweet little kid who is gradually exploring independence. The daughter- has been the perfect sleeper from day one, sleeping in her crib long enough to let her tired parents get a shut eye; transitioned from crawling to ‘almost’ standing without support’ quickly; has quite a few shiny pearls that make her laugh more adorable; can never be found sitting at a place for more than a few minutes and is always busy; wants to cry at the sight of any stranger; wants us to keep her company at all times, if possible; finds the tiniest possible things off the floor and puts them in her mouth; loves toying with the power outlets! An energetic kid who keeps us on our toes at all times and teaches us things we did not learn the first time around:)

They are so different and yet bond with each other perfectly, probably like all siblings do when they are younger. They seem to understand each other in a way that is unique and precious and such a wonderful thing to watch. The brother is caring and very protective of his ‘little dolly’, as he calls her often and the little one is in awe of her elder brother. In the mundane inanity of daily life, my babies spark joy and make me look forward to the next morning.

 

Thanks for stopping by! Posted for nancymerrrillphotography.

December photo a day challenge: Simplicity

   The first snowfall of every season feels special, even if one has seen many. There is something ethereal about the silence that descends when the snow falls, gently kissing the bare branches, or the leaves that are here to stay. There is innocence and simplicity in that. This morning as we had our first proper snowfall of this season, my little ones watched with joy and wonder. It was a good moment to capture.

 

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Thanks for stopping by. Posted for citysonnet.

The power of love

   Last year, when we found out we were expecting our second child, it made us ecstatic. But that ecstasy was somewhat short lived as we realized the pressures of bringing up two little ones (our older one was just about 3 years old at that point) in a land where we had little help and no grown ups (read- our parents) to guide us and hold our hands when we would falter! And then there was the fear of our little boy’s reaction, though I knew that he would be the best big brother one could hope for. And I was not wrong. Ever since he found out that his Ma’s tummy had a little special someone for him, his curiosity knew no bounds and neither did his love. Kids ask the strangest questions and at times their thoughtfulness takes you by surprise too! Our boy had the usual inquisitiveness about the new member and his actions often melted my heart. If we were out buying him clothes, he would without fail mention that we should also get something for his sister. If we were eating out, he would ask me to make sure that what I ate was not too ‘jhaal’ (hot/spicy) for the one in my tummy. And every night before going to bed  he would kiss his sister goodnight and wish her a good morning just the same way. Every single day.  Emotions at times ran high as the good man and I tried to make space for our baby girl and our voices would rise. Not a scream or any kind of verbal altercation …just raised voices of two freaked out people trying to get a lot done in a short span of time! But, if the little boy happened to be around, he would come rushing by and gently remind us to not raise our voices as there was a baby in Ma’s tummy and loud voices could hurt the tiny baby’s ears. And the day I slipped and fell down in the bathroom at 11.30 pm, four days before my due date, our little boy showed us love and gave us strength that I could not have imagined. A million things were rushing through our minds as we called the doctor and got ready to leave for the hospital while a visibly disoriented little guy was trying to take everything in his stride. My parents were with us and he put up the bravest face he could manage in the middle of so much chaos and trepidation, and waved us goodbye as we left for the hospital at around midnight. I did not have a lot of time to explain everything to him and he too did not ask for any. I watched him as we got into the car and while my heart was racing for our baby girl, it was also beaming with pride for our little guy. Baby girl was fine in the tummy and when we came back home in the morning after being kept at the hospital overnight for observation, I could see his face just light up and the first thing he asked was if his baby sister was alright.

   Our baby girl turned one a few days ago and the little guy was very ill with a viral fever. He still blew up a balloon and drew a little something for her special day. Every day has been a treat watching them together and while I know that this is so because they are both still little, it warms my heart. Our little guy has grown so much and we couldn’t be prouder. It is a matter of time before the “i don’t like you-s”, “he is mean”, “she is not letting me do that” set in and the expression of love might not be so simple then! But for the time being, I am soaking in this unadulterated love… a love so different, so unique…this love between a soon to be five year old big brother and his one year old sister. It has taught me to be kind and brave, no matter what. And it grounds me in humility and puts the faith back when hope seems to be drifting away in this crazy life.

 

A Photo A Day…15 days or so

As I recently mentioned,  I have started a ‘a day, a photo’ project of sorts in an attempt to semi chronicle events and moments of our daily life. This is my second share, from the last 15 days!

 

 

 

It has been rather fun documenting moments,  though many of us probably do it anyways, knowingly or unknowingly. I have been doing it since our son was born and I had a good-ish cell phone. Like many and unlike some, I was doing it without the intention of publishing it on Facebook ( I had an account once!) or Instagram ( though I must admit, a few have found their way here, and I still use it) and so was and/am under no pressure to add filters. I was getting a bit tired of the ‘candid’ photos posted that clearly were not candid, ones that were heavily posed for and photos which showed only the best of the best!  I did not have such picture perfect moments to share and I had started to feel a bit low, in spite of knowing that everything and everyone was/ is not that impeccable… life is not meant to be so🙂

Thanks for stopping by and I hope we capture more ‘imperfect moments’ that make our lives perfect!

 

Friendly Friday Photo Challenge- Balconies

   I realize I write a lot about the days gone by and I wonder why that is. During the planning phase of this blog,  I was clueless for a long time about the direction I wanted it to take and while I still don’t have a niche, many of my posts involve stories from the past, sometimes woven into the theme and sometimes as the theme itself. It’s not that I live in the past or want to live in the past. I think it’s more of an attempt on my part to hold on to the wonderful memories and remember the people, while creating a path into the past for my kids through those.

    Trying to make a life in this adopted country of ours has its own excitement as well as intrinsic challenges, and trying to find a balance can sometimes be tricky. There are  things that, to be very honest, I do not miss about my country but then on the other hand, there are so many things tugging at the heartstrings that sometimes it makes me question decisions about the chosen path. But that’s what’s life is all about…you probably can’t have it all and that’s okay.

   For this week’s Friendly Friday Photo Challenge I rummaged through my archive and could not find any beautiful balconies, and that made me wonder why and also gave me the idea of starting to photograph them…thanks Amanda! I looked at some of the other posts for the prompt and what a visual treat it was…as is generally the case:) But I also did not want to miss out totally and not post anything. So I am posting these two pictures that are personal and not architecturally appealing in any way, shape or form but balconies that tell stories dear to me.

 

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This is the balcony at my parent’s ‘flat’ in Kolkata, lit during ‘Diwali’ (the festival of lights). During this time of the year, which is actually a month away, one will find balconies, patios or any outdoor space in households celebrating this, lit up giving neighborhoods a wonderful cheery look. Along with fireworks that are on display everywhere and people all decked up, it surely is a night of gaiety! While I have not been home in a long time during this time, memories are galore- my favorite being the setting up the tiny candles and then going out and watching them from a distance to see if more could be fitted in!

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This is a photo of the balcony at our current apartment in New Jersey that I light up this way every Diwali (and also Christmas and New Year) to bring a slice of ‘home’ to our current home. Home is a feeling, a place of memories past and present, a feeling that calms your mind and soothes your soul. And I enjoy decking my balcony, even if it is with these simple lights during festivities and we enjoy Diwali as well as Christmas, Halloween and Holi and while I do reminisce the rustic pleasures of growing up in simpler times and under simpler circumstances, I thoroughly am enjoying this phase as well-making memories with my kids in a land far away.  While my husband and I do not try to shove ‘culture’ down our kids’ throats, we hope, with time, they will come to learn and like tales about their heritage, and find a way on their own to enjoy such festivals and embrace the differences and likeness of celebrations across all cultures and continents.

Thanks for stopping by and hope your week is going well:)

Organized Chaos

   It says ‘morning shows the day’. Not going into the philosophical meaning of this age old saying and instead sticking with the very literal sense, there are days where it seems that it was tailored to fit me! Well, we all feel this way, probably more frequently that we want to, don’t we?

   The other day it was a crazy morning as usual where the school going kid was not waking up and the little one was generally jumping (well, almost!) in her crib and the alarm was going off in the good man’s phone that he was unable to turn off with sleepy eyes. I took a couple of deep breaths and the rest of the clan managed to calm themselves down in their own ways and I was able to drop off the kid at school, miraculously, on time. Oh, by the way, I got honked on way to school too…and I was not at all at fault!

   We came back home and then ensued round two. I made my morning tea that I usually take with two biscuits (the ‘English’ biscuit, by the way) and I balanced it precariously on the edge of the cup and right when I was about to take my first sip, I saw it had fallen in the tea and given the tea a rather heavy and crumbly consistency. And that was that.  I got up to continue with my day’s work while the little one thought it would be a good idea to  crawl over to my flip flops, put them on her lap and take a nibble!  While I managed to prevent that from happening at the nick of time, I stepped on one of these tiny- yet- strong -enough -to -injure -a -grown -up- cars and let out a huge scream, internally, (yes , that’s possible!) as I did not want to scare the life out of the crawling baby. I limped a little for the rest of the day.

   It was time, soon, to pick up the little boy from school and I realized all my everyday pants were in the washer ready to be dried! AAAAHHHHHHH. I decided I would go out wearing what I was and would avoid eye contact with anyone once I was there. And how do you think that went? I met more parents than I ever have in the last one and a half years and they thought it would be good to exchange pleasantries (they are really nice people, nothing against them) and so there I was, in my pajama bottoms, talking about possible play dates. I am hoping that this has happened to people before me!

   Once home, lunch and bath time went by pretty uneventfully and I managed to out down the little ones for their naps. Now, they are usually good with their nap time, sleeping easily for an hour or two. And I needed it to happen that day as I wanted to get going on the dinner before going for my Yoga class in the evening. Take a guess how long nap time was? If you guessed 25 minutes, I give you a round of applause! I took a very deep breath, let all the worries out and the three of us had an awesome afternoon. We  rolled on the floor, got silly, had tickle fights and afternoon snacks, most of which my little one preferred to eat off of the floor and we sang songs as well! I remembered to run the dryer and got dinner started, that the good man finished cooking later. I reached my Yoga class 7 minutes late and had to wait outside…who reaches a Yoga class late??? It rained heavily later and I did grocery, got drenched and got grumpy.

   And then, when I reached home and turned the door knob, I was greeted by  peels of laughter and just like that all my crabbiness, from being late for yoga class and getting drenched among other things, just vanished. A goofy face and a toothless laughter hugged and squished the stress out of me and I counted my blessings.

    It’s chaos everyday and I call it organized chaos. And I love it, on most days. We all have/had such days where simple things go wrong and tiny things irk us and toy with  our inner peace. The frailty of human nature! How easily we let ourselves get lost in the transience of  moments that might be flawed and fret over that what is going to pass soon. Reflecting upon our current blessings escapes our notice in the mundane ups and downs of daily life. I wonder if we are a little quick in letting out big sighs and rolling our eyes!

 

    There are things that we would, ideally, want a little different in our lives and it is true that we let that get to us sometimes. It bothers us, makes us sad, makes us question past decisions and overall leaves a sour taste in our mouths. But, then when we pause to look around and see all that we have, does it not fill our hearts with gratitude and does the restlessness not disappear?   Piles of unfolded laundry mean our families has enough clothes to wear, accumulated dishes in the sink mean our families has enough to eat, paying bills means we have a roof over our heads and jobs that provide for all of that, text messages and phone calls to return mean there are people who care, giggles and crayon marks on walls mean we have little ones growing up. I really could not care less about how I look, what cars we drive, the gray on my hair, that jeans which I no longer fit into and judgmental people. What about you? What brings you happiness in your daily life? How do you deal with tiny things that disturb the so called balance of our perfectly imperfect lives?

 

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance “-Eckhart Tolle. 

 

Thanks for stopping by and hope your week is going well!

Of light, lamps and load shedding

   The other day I was admiring some lampshades at a store and at the same time thinking about how ‘load-shedding’ (electrical outage/power cut) was fairly a regular occurrence during my early childhood and now as I am typing this, I am wondering why did that thought crop up at that moment! Anyways, I have always had a fondness for lampshades, big or small, contemporary or antique and I absolutely love candles, candle stands and good old fashioned candle holders. We currently live in an apartment with two little ones where there is not much scope for pretty lamps and shades but that doesn’t mean that I can’t admire from a distance. Lighting candles is almost out of the question too but once in a while, when I am cooking, I like to keep one lit in a corner.

   The early years of growing up,  memories of which seem to be getting clearer the more my life gets away from the city I grew up in, were part structured and part whimsical- as I suppose everyone else’s was/is. There was a set routine that we all followed from daybreak till when we hit the bed at night and even the unplanned seemed to follow a pattern at times. Unannounced guests who would be staying for days was normal and so was being reprimanded by the friendly neighbor for breaking his glass panes with a cricket ball. Life went on and we rolled with it. And ‘load shedding‘ (power cut/electrical outage) followed us around!

   Ask anyone who grew up in Calcutta during that time and they will all tell you their load-shedding stories. Be it the sweltering heat of the hot summer days or the humid evenings, load shedding was omnipresent. It could show up any time and play with all the plans that you had made- be it a post lunch siesta or watching that movie on the television you had been waiting for a while or getting ready for the wedding you had been invited to. Or finish that dreaded homework that was due the next day.

   On evenings when we would be vigorously studying (every single household with school going children in Calcutta, if not the whole of India had this in common) for the next day at school and scampering to get some homework done, it would suddenly get all dark and a collective murmur would fill the entire neighborhood- “Aabaar load shedding” (aabar means again in Bengali)! Summer evenings and nights, when it mostly struck, would find adults on the streets chatting and complaining,  kids who had finished their homework hanging around and there would be a sort of almost merriment. Mosquitoes buzzing around, a distant bark of the street dogs, the tinkle of some passer by’s bicycle provided the background score to such sultry nights. But for the likes of me and many I knew, it meant finishing that homework in the light of the candles or lanterns and cursing oneself for not having finished it on time. It used to be insanely hot  and humid and while I kept on going grudging, I remember Ma or Baba would patiently sit with me, with a handheld fan and keep me company, trying to make it less uncomfortable as I toiled in the flickering lights. And it often happened that my brother and I would go to bed and it would still be all dark. Twisting and turning from the mugginess,  we would drift in and out of sleep while also trying to be awake to hear the sudden spinning of the ceiling fan. Gradually, the fever and the fret of the world would  dissolve as Ma Baba would be there right by the bed, with those fans, trying to ease our discomfort.

   Those days of load shedding and hand fans are a matter of the distant past and now I am irked by the slightest change in the settings of the thermostat. Time changes a whole lot of things and it changes people and their perspective. As Ma Baba get older, they continue to hide their discomfort from me, lest I get worried. But unlike those nights, when load shedding made it difficult to sleep, I now am very much aware of their plight that has been shaped with old age, ailments and partial blindness. And I can no longer drift away to sleep in peace. Air conditioning fails to comfort me the way those tiring hands did.

   As I was going through my archive looking for ideas, these stared me at the face and tales from summers long gone, came rushing by.

Does this happen to you? What stirs bittersweet memories in you?

 

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candle and decor

 

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Thanks for stopping by and have a lovely rest of the week.