Tuesday Tales

                                                               Memories -Jamshedpur

    I have been thinking about writing this particular post for some time now but it has been a bit difficult to gather my thoughts. It should not be difficult, right? We all have memories that are dear to our hearts and memories that we wish we could forget but we can’t. That’s what makes memories omnipotent…they are always there with the good, bad and the ugly. I guess I have reached that age where I look back at my childhood days with fondness, but they also come with a strange anguish, something that tugs at the strings of the heart in a manner that is not always joyful in its entirety. The joy is always accompanied by the longing- the agony of wanting to go back in time and relive moments and days that are so deeply embedded in our conscience that it toys with the current nature of reality.

   I am not very good with change…I have come to realize this. I accept change when the need arises and shape things accordingly but it takes time and while that can be good thing, it can also occasionally present itself as disconcerting. While I continue to adapt to life in this country, still learning the ropes after ten years, a part of me- the deepest part- lives thousands of miles away. The city of Kolkata and the small town of Jamshedpur are the two places that have seen me through the simple rites of childhood and through the defiance of teenage life and till today hold me in warm embrace of memories I made decades ago. And so naturally, they find prominence in any memory that I conjure up of the past to the point that the pining for the place and time gone by, hurts.

    I grew up as part of a large extended family-my father has 12 siblings- and I have always been super proud to be part of this crazy clan. I have had some of the best moments of growing up with these folks during our yearly trip to our family home in Jamshedpur and I have been fiercely protective of all that it has entailed.

   Times change. The house, a bungalow is no longer there. In its place stands a tall building that houses offices and a couple of floors have been turned into a ‘guest house’. The other bungalows in the neighborhood have all met the same fate. Families have left or have become just one more nameplate in the middle of the ten other that share the previous address of the ‘owner’, whose front yard had bougainvillea and the “champa” (Plumeria) welcoming anyone who walked through the small black gates. The big field that was the center around which the houses were lined, no longer draws children who used to be out every evening with cricket bats and balls and teams lined up for matches with rules that were tailored to suit the needs of the players. It has been fashioned into a parking lot of sorts for the cars and small trucks that the new residents and shop keepers own and small roadside stalls have opened up to cater to their chai-pani (snacks).

   I no longer can go there. My people have moved too and are now in Kolkata. Having spent 70 years of their lives in that once beautiful neighborhood, their lives have been uprooted and are now defined by and confined to a three bedroom apartment. I no longer can run up the stairs and go to the roof to smell the bel phool (a type of Jasmine) or watch the clouds float across the mountain range that could be seen at a distance. I will no longer be able to see the golden moon rise from behind the school building that stood at one end of the big field, its walls bearing the signs of the city’s political story.

   Landscape changes with time and I sometimes wonder if all of it is for the better. In the age of no cable, no colored television, no video games, no internet were we, and as an extension, life, more genuine, more palpable? Happiness comes at steeper prices now and yet, fails to satisfy at times. I also sometimes wonder if I have become too sophisticated for rustic pleasures and if my kids are ever going to know that kind of simplicity and joy.

   I long for that place, a place that no longer exists the way my heart remembers. And it aches  a bit thinking about that. But it also brings me immense joy reminiscing about that place and time and the people that made everything so unforgettable. I never somehow had a favorite uncle or aunt, but I have favorite memories with all of them and they have all nurtured, in their own ways, my growing up. I wish we all took more pictures at that time capturing moments that had us burst with laughter or cuddle under a big blanket in the front yard at night where we once had a ‘camping’ of sorts! It was honest and simple. My yearning for going back to India has not stopped and while I know that it is no longer possible, a tiny part of my heart still clings on to that hope. In this faraway land, where seasons dictate coffee flavors I reminisce and laugh on my own. I revisit the house and its rooms and think about the people that made the mundane, riveting.  I share stories with Neel who tries his best to be enthusiastic at most times! I am waiting for my kids to grow up so that I can share stories with them and through those tales, bring that place and people a little close to them.

   My memories inspire me and keep me connected to people I am many miles away from. They are part of my identity and they help me navigate where I am headed to. Memories make me who I am ( at least I would like to believe so), as they teach and guide; they let me fall back on them when need be and they also sneak up from nowhere to surprise me! They are my pathway to the future that may not have the exact idyllic scenarios from the past, but will hopefully help me shape ones that my kids will, one day, remember fondly.

 

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     “Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it”- Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Monday Motivation

  A lot has been on my mind of  late that keeps adding to the troubles of the ever- anxious me. Spring is refusing to spring here with the almost incessant rain and overcast sky. Even the coffee maker is having to work harder than usual to help with the mood around the house!

   But today is a bright sunny day and everything looks cheery! It was a happy ride to the school this morning and the smell of the freshly cut grass especially after the rains, one of my favorite smells, was exhilarating.

   I took this photo right outside my kiddo’s class this morning… flowers are starting to pop up all around and adding to the beauty that is Spring:)

 

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And the thought that I want to leave you with this morning is something I try to remember when overwhelmed with circumstances beyond my control.

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You are welcome to leave a photo of anything bright and colorful in the comment section, if you wish to!

Have a happy week, you all.

Tuesday Tales: Ma

   I was once told by a dear friend when I started this, that I should write daily… for reasons abound. And while I have sincerely tried to pay heed to that advice, I have failed miserably. Excuses can be many but the fact of the matter remains true. Much time has passed since I started this, what many may refer to as petty journal entries or ramblings of a bored mind or feeble attempts at photography as I have nothing special to share nor am particularly talented. And many a times I have been tempted by my insecurities to just delete all of this and move on. And the introvert in me has nudged me a lot too towards that end!  But I continue to stick around ignoring and, at times, overcoming my vulnerability and thoughts that mostly center around what-will-people-think! And the sticking around has helped. I have started getting the hang of blogging and its nitty gritties and am learning a lot in the process. Inspiration has found its way in and I am grateful to those who are making this seem less banal.

   So, in accordance with my current philosophy of being less- critical -and -more -accepting -of -my- flaws- and- moving- ahead- in spite of-what-will-people-think, I am going to be attempting Tuesday Tales. I plan to share tales of people who have filled up my pocketbook of memories with special moments and of past moments that catch me unaware and clean the dust off of forgotten tales. We all have people, adventures that we hold a little closer to our hearts than the rest, and then we also have moments that at times open a floodgate of memories to by gone days and make us look forward to more similar occurrences in the future. Most such tales are personal and will hold no significance for others but we all have much more in common than we think of and I am hoping some of my tales will also find you reminiscing of moments and people that are more memorable than others. Storytelling has been one of the oldest ways of connecting to each other or so I have heard. By sharing stories and commonalities it is possible to see that we are united in more ways than we realize and though it will not solve any global pandemonium, it might offer a bit of a respite from that:)                                                                       

   I tried thinking about who to start this weekly post with and I toyed with quite a few ideas but could think of no one but her. I had written this about her a couple of years ago and when she found out, she told me in these words ” tumi boddo bhalo, tai erom likhecho…shob Ma ra eki hoye…aami keu special na‘ (You are too kind and that’s why you think this way…all mothers are the same, I am not someone extra special). That’s my Ma…always seeing the good in others.

 

                                                                    Ma

She exemplifies nobleness of mind and spirit, of humility and courage. She keeps calm under all circumstances and has NEVER used words that hurt. She has struggled and fought her battles the best she could. She has been resilient when crowded with adversity. She has never complained about the lack of material comfort in her life but has made it richer through poetry and music. She has a beautiful voice and though age and illness have taken much of it away, her love for music remains strong. She gives without ever hoping to receive. She has an indomitable spirit that has only risen. She taught the best she could and gave/gives all that was/is possible. We have had our differences and we have had heartbreaks too and at times, it hurts to say,  my fondness for her has wavered…I guess most teenagers go through the phase of not liking their parents that much. But she has always welcomed me with nothing but love and encouragement. She is not exceptional for anyone but me, my younger brother and our father. She is our biggest critic and most ardent supporter and her faith in us is unwavering. With a heart full of love that is enduring and all encompassing, she lives life believing in the good that is all around. Unabashed in her honesty and humble in her beliefs, she is my everyday inspiration. As years roll on by and I settle in this adopted country, a twenty hour flight away from her, my heart aches a bit more. She yearns for her grandkids and I hear it in her voice everyday. At the end of our daily video chats, she says every single time ‘ Bhalo Thako, shobai Miley anonde thako’, that loosely translated into English means ‘ all of you stay well, be happy’. My heart fills with gratitude and pride to call her my Ma. 

 

 

My Ma with her grandson and granddaughter; me and my younger brother

  We all have people in our lives whose influence has played a significant role in shaping our ideas and beliefs- parent, teacher, neighbor, family member, a stranger who we happened to cross paths with, friend- they help shape who we are, who we wish to be. We are fortunate to be guided by such people, many of who are no longer around. But their words, their work continue to be with us and is a testament to their uniqueness, that we were fortunate enough to be touched by. Don’t you think?

 

 

 

Monday Motivation/Challenge

    Who hasn’t heard about the Monday blues…right? It affects, I think most, even my four year old (in his own I-can’t watch-TV-as-much-as-I want way maybe!) and is dealt with in, what I can assume, a variety of ways from heading straight on to procrastinating to trying to feel happy about a hopefully productive week. What do I know? As a stay-at-home mom, many think we have it easy. And, I would rather not engage in who has it easy and the whys and why nots associated with such a trending topic, that ironically has been a ‘trend’ since probably for ever! When I was a grad student, there was no time for the Monday blues and for a brief period after that during my internship, my  enthusiasm for the work I was learning about, took care of any hues of the blue. Things have been different for many years now, I have battled what I can only call a form of depression in a manner I knew best and with a lot of support and understanding from Neel. For someone who has always had a job and had hopes of making it in this new place, not being able to have one for whatever reason, has been and continues to be an issue that I struggle with accepting even today. And when I gave up looking for jobs, I tried to make peace with the fact that it was going to be okay. I can’t honestly say if it has been okay or not, but I have moments every day where I still find myself thinking about the big ‘what if’. But, I am beyond grateful for my munchkins who keep me busy and in spite of exhaustion that gets the better of me at times, I am loving and learning from all the madness and love that oozes out from the little ones!

    So, maybe I don’t ‘qualify’ for the Monday blues (though I have quite a few to set the record straight!) but nonetheless I sometimes need a bit of motivation to push me through the day…I am guessing we all do in our own ways. For the past couple of weeks, I have been beating my blues by taking photos on Mondays -photos of bright things, mostly around the house and, kids permitting, outside. Colorful things that make me smile or reminisce fondly. I have been surprised by how everyday things that we tend to not pay special attention to, are cheery in composition.  Cranking up music that I find myself humming at that time also helps! Here’s my thought- I am going to try and take photos every Monday, blues or no blues and share them with you and you are welcome to join in through the comment section! Maybe you can share how you beat the blues or what motivates you, how you seek inspiration or simply the photos!

 

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As I got down from the car this morning at my son’s school, this greeted me and felt as                                             if it had been set this way to cheer me up!

 

Colorful blocks, cars from an imaginary race and oranges, waiting to be                                                    washed…we are surrounded by colors!

 

A couple of things I had made a while back. for my son’s room, that I rarely                             look at when in there, but the colors caught my eye this morning.

 

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Though on its way out in many areas around here, its beauty is still                                                                          ethereal, don’t you think?

 

This was my Monday story and I would like to leave you with this thought. I came across this a while ago, reading ‘Consequential Strangers’ by Melinda Blau and Karen L. Fingerman and I keep revisiting this in my mind, especially under current global circumstances where ignorance and disdain seem to be the current mode of operation.

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Hope you all have a good week!

 

 

‘What’s the Word’ Wednesday

    I tried coming up with a better name for this weekly post (I have been thinking of starting this for some time now) but could not! Nonetheless, I decided to go ahead with this.  From now on, every Wednesday,  I will be posting a word  particularly meaningful for me that week or something  defining most of my thoughts or a word that I simply like. I also plan to post words that are probably not part of our everyday parlance a lot and maybe simple words from different languages (for example, those that are used in greetings) from around the world. Words that define our lives, guide us in our quest for a better tomorrow will also obviously be shared too. What’s the point of such a post, one may ask! I am not too sure, but I am eager to try out how much I can learn and re learn from this.  The essence of words shape not only our day to day workings but our bigger purpose in life too.

     It will be awesome if you could join in and leave a word that you like or has particular significance in your life in the comment section! I might also use the word in my next post (with full credit to you, of course!) and we can get rolling this way, together.

Here’s my first word for this post:

                                                                 PERSEVERE 

  • To persist in anything undertaken; maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles or discouragement; continue steadfastly.  (Dictionary.com)
  • To persist in a state, enterprise or undertaking in spite of counterinfluences, opposition or discouragement. (Merriam-Webster.com)

 

   In the face of all opposition, when you hold on and refuse to let go, you persevere and it has been my belief always, that one who perseveres, succeeds. Struggles are endless and they dampen our spirits,; at times obstacles seem insurmountable and yet most refuse to give up. That’s the power and beauty of the human spirit…it is indomitable and it refuses to succumb to adversity .

I would love to hear back from you.What words you like or dislike, what guides you, motivates you…anything.  Please feel free to join in with a word or phrase or saying of your choice. You can also use photographs, quotes..anything that depicts or captures the significance of the word.

Happy Wednesday, you all!