Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Celebration Time

Life is full of all kinds of new experiences that often take us by surprise and the recent one was one such. We had blithely planned to meet for the joint celebrations of the birthdays of the youngest members of our families-my sister’s and mine-with our brother and his family joining us, to add to the fun quotient. What with it being exam time for the younger kids (one of the ‘budday’ gals included) it was decided to keep it short and sweet, to spend minimum time away from books, that is. Also, and keeping in view the fact that while we all live in the NCR, it’s precisely that-NCR with no two people living in the same state. So if it’s a rushed get-together, with time being a constraint, the commute time plays a vital role. With us in Noda, my sister in Delhi and our brother in good ole Gurgaon, a hasty meeting, albeit birthday celebrations, have to be planned judiciously.

And so it transpired, that despite three homes in the NCR, we decided to descend on CSOI, the conveniently located Officers’ Club of which my sis and her husband are members. Barely thirty minutes’ driving distance from all our homes, we thought we’d meet, have some snacks together, generally wish the two young ladies and then beat a retreat. After all, ominous exams loomed large on the morrow’s horizon!

As is a mother’s wont, I generally checked with sonny boy if he’d change out of his casual Tantra t-shirt, which looked a trifle crumpled after the day’s wear but he stoutly refused. It looked just fine, he said and I decided not to press the point. The birthday girl was well turned out and I was just trying to cajole the lad to don a smarter t shirt, but he stood his ground. We left for the venue around 7 p.m; rendezvous time being 7.30.and managed to make it in good time, though we were still the last to reach.

I walked in with spouse in tow and wished my little niece, looking chirpy and pretty in a smart dress. I looked back to see if my own birthday girl had made an appearance (in an almost identical dress!) and was surprised to see that the kiddos were nowhere in sight. When a few minutes had elapsed and they had still not showed up, I walked to the hall’s door, wondering……it was impossible to get lost in so small a place, a place they had visited many times before. Just then, the two arrived, and sonny boy said, with an abashed grin, that he had been stopped at the entrance because of being attired in shorts!! Somehow, he had managed to convince them and made his way in. We nodded happily as they settled down.

No sooner had they got seated and begun munching on the hot crispies than an official looking man approached our table and said that shorts weren’t allowed. My brother and brother-in-law said in unison that okay we’d keep this in mind next time but the fellow just stood there, glowering. We exchanged looks, not sure what to do next. The platefuls of snacks kept arriving so we got temporarily, and justifiably, distracted. The fellow also seemed to melt away but not for long. He was a determined adversary, a great warrior. He came back in five minutes, accompanied by another official, who parroted the same line-shorts not allowed.

With wisdom born out of such situations we all realized that these buggers meant business. Also, the fact that at the end of the day, rules were rules and if these chappies were sticking to their guns, it was only fair that we accede to their request. So very rapidly, we beat a retreat and decided to shift venue to my sister’s place, postponing the revelry by a few minutes.

It’s another matter that that this turned out to be a great decision as not only did we relax and enjoy the warmth of home ambience much more, but finally ended up having a sumptuous dinner and a wonderful evening of prolonged celebrations and togetherness.

As someone so sagely said, all’s well that ends well!

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Oh! the joys of parenting and ah! its vexing moments!!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Rainy Rapture

Walking through the rain, what an exulting experience that was! Pouring, unceasing rain that came down in torrents, breaking the tranquil calm of the atmosphere two minutes before…it seemed magical! The transformation that happened within seconds, in front of my fascinated eyes, was unbelievable. When I had got into my car, to do the customary round of the local market, the air was still and the sky overcast but there was no hint of rain. So much so that it seemed eminently wise to dash across and finish the mandatory, Saturday recci before the kiddo, home for the week end, woke up and one’s precious time (whose precious-ness quotient can only be gauged by a parent whose children live in different cities) was wasted.

So, equipped with a to-do list, as is my wont while on such errands, I set out; if not exactly whistling a tune or doing a jig, pretty much near it, as it was an unbelievably pleasant morning. Just right for an outing, I told myself, clutching the purse in one hand and the umbrella in the other; the latter more a matter of habit than any real apprehension of rains. But a short ride of 15 minutes later, when humming the tune playing on 92.7 was all that was on the mind (mundane grocery and fruit-veggie shopping never transporting most of my ilk to any kind of rapture that shopping for clothes, shoes, accessories and what-have-you invariable does) I found myself at the nondescript entry point of the humble market. Even as I prepared to step out gingerly, so as to avoid any crevice in the ground, I noticed the sudden change in the immediate surroundings and became aware of nature’s watery onslaught. Rain, thick and fast, the kind that one doesn’t normally witness in or around Delhi, was all around me. lt was raining the proverbial cats and dogs and the landscape (read Noida roads) were suddenly, cataclysmically inundated!! Frailer hearts would have quailed at the sight, the meek would have deserted the earth, but not yours truly. Ever the adventurous sort, not given to easily throwing in the towel, I ventured out of the car, unfurling my dainty umbrella to brave the odds.

The torrential force hit me like a physical blow and I fell back for a moment. But the very next, looking the spate full in the eye as it were, I equipped myself to face the situation, and holding my bag while balancing my feet precariously on the fast-disappearing ground under my feet, I tip-toed my way into the market.

Oh how wonderful that felt! Walking in the face of cascading rain, the water doing a neat tangential spray on me as the surface of the umbrella deflected the misty spray my way, making me want to break into a tango. Not since I was a naughty kid, or perhaps, an audacious adolescent, or okay let me concede a sedate middle-aged person…well that’s immaterial. Not in a long time, did I remember a moment so magical, so refreshing, quite so fun-filling and so absolutely exhilarating!! Adding to the zing was the sense of achievement-for, as far as the eye could see, I was the only shopper, with nary a competitor. In fact, even the shopkeepers had withdrawn to the safety of temporary refuge, abandoning all idea of profit and commerce and I could see tell-tale signs of hastily-beaten retreat, as many a stall could be seen covered with tarpaulin or water-proof material of all kinds.

I waded in resolutely, encountering bemused looks from all sides-some may even have doubted my sanity!-but I had not a care in the world. It was too rapturous a moment; the sheer exuberance was too precious to be wasted on such trivial matters. My feet couldn't see where they were going, the place was ankle-deep already in muddy water, a misty film had formed on my glasses so vision was impaired, the bottoms of my trousers were drenched the footwear soaked and past rescue but the predominating feeling was one of ultimate bliss!!

Ah, the simple joy, the inexpressible pleasure of walking in the rain!!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Two ends of the spectrum

Two extreme comments in less than forty eight hours' difference!!
At a family wedding from one-who-knows (extremely bright IITian-turned bureaucrat) "McKinsey is the best company in the world to work for!!" transporting me to heights of maternal pride and bliss.

And this morning, from one-who-should-have-known (an ex-Symbiosis Pune guy) "McKinsey? What does it do? Why didn't you join some other company? Campus placement nahi mila kya?"
(The last with a distinct touch of sympathy)

As they say, munde munde matri bhinna (every mind thinks differently.) 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Magical May

It seems just the other day when, clutching my finger tightly with her tiny hand, the little one walked towards the bus stand, school bag perched firmly on her back. 7.15 A.M and we’d be off, to the corner down the lane we lived in, straight walk and a right turn, ten minutes in all-and waited for the familiar bus to amble into sight. Attired in their smart school uniforms, the pristine white of the starched shirt off-setting the navy blue skirt, admirably complemented by the white socks and polished black shoes, these little girls-yes more of them converged at this point from different directions –made a pretty picture as they waited for the bus to carry them forth to school and enlightenment. As the mother of one such girl, I would study their excited faces, listen to their endless chatter or simply observe the quieter ones, who preferred standing under the shady tree that grew right there, as if its sole purpose in life was to shade them from the morning sun.

They say a lecturer’s job is a cushy one. One is not sure if that is applicable in today’s day and time, but in those halcyon days of the early nineties, this sure was true. A normal working day meant leaving home around 9 A.M and after a ‘tiring’ schedule of two to three lectures, being back by 2 P.M, at the latest. Such were the timings, that a working mother didn’t suffer the pangs of conscience that have become a part of the collective working mothers’ psyche now; that she wasn’t spending ‘quality time’ with her kids. For here it was a perfect setting: early morning, escort the little ones to the bus stand and come afternoon, be right there to pick them up! As sonny boy grew older, this ritual kind of waned but in the case of the little gal, it pretty much remained the same-right till the time she was in the 4th or perhaps 5th standard. No matter where I was, no matter what the schedule or season, I would turn homeward the minute the hands of my wrist watch indicated that 3 P.M was approaching. The foot on the accelerator subconsciously pressed harder as I would make my way home on those ‘specially hectic’ days when one had to work oneself to the bones (read for more than four hours) and my tryst with the bus stand seemed threatened. But no matter what the task at hand, I always managed to be there, in the nick of time to pick up daughter dear. On most days, this routine used to be different (as I would come home first and then walk to the bus stand after lunch) and it was only on ‘extra heavy’ days that the need to go there directly arose.
In other words, this rendezvous was sacrosanct and over a period of time, became a habit.

Cut to the present. So much water has flown under the bridge!
May 2012.
For more than a month now, we followed a fixed routine when we went out together but the scene was quite different from the mom and li’l girl one all those years ago. The day now started with the not-so-little-one and me getting ready, but not for school and college respectively. Instead, we would both be headed for similar destinations-our workplace. No more the school uniform and black shoes…instead, there was sober office wear and formal shoes, complemented by a smart bag hung from the shoulder, as my girl would step into the car along with me, a mature, adult companion, walking shoulder-to-shoulder (a head taller, actually!) making interesting small talk as we made our way to her drop-point: the Noida City Centre metro station. She took off for work every morning after being dropped by me and I carried on to my office, two equals in the corporate world. At the end of the day, and again my timings were so well coordinated, I invariably found myself at this modern ‘bus stand’, waiting, as her mode of travel would bring her back home.

As the saying so tellingly goes, the wheel has come full circle. A lot has changed: the little one has grown up and found her vocation; she doesn’t need to be accompanied every day, it’s just a practical arrangement, a pretext to spend some extra time together, but what has remained unchanged is the immense joy and pride I take in watching her take confident strides into a world just waiting to be conquered.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Band Baaja Baaraat

Well, the first wedding of the third generation of clan Kadam Kuan, that much-looked-forward to event, is finally over. As is wont, any occasion that is awaited with undue fervour, leaves a sort of emptiness in its wake. The eager anticipation, the shopping, the choosing of gifts, the options related to what the family would wear (once the kids had decided whether it would be Western or ethnic, that is) the colour coordination, the footwear and accessories to match, the endless chats with other cousins, checking on who was coming and when…the count down was truly exciting.  And what was especially impressive was the single-minded focus with which gen Y-all interestingly born between 1987 and 88-planned to make it to the wedding..

The wheel having come full circle; these five youngsters are all working men and women now, attending this event was especially difficult for the three girls-living in far off Calcutta, Manipal and Bombay .One a fresh MBBS graduate had joined internship and had no leave due, the other, a dentist had similar challenges and for the third, who had joined the Banking-Insurance industry, her job was literally a nine-day wonder. Taking leave for all three was tough but whoever said When there’s a will, there’s a way must have had these youngsters in mind. Their determination and sincerity paid off and each of them arrived in style, on the morning of the wedding. The young guys, in the meantime, were already in town, one luckily working from his Gurgaon office those days, the other having winged in from the United Kingdom a week before.

All in all, the stage was set as the very popular Bhaiya prepared to don the shervani and lead the baaraat. The entire clan descended upon the venue, resplendent in their trendy best, and then followed what can only be described as marathon dancing by the selfsame enthusiastic lads and gals. We, of the older generation, looked on benignly, but now and then, were pulled into the merry circle, while the even older generation beamed from the periphery. A good hour or more later (the groom’s dad having finally beaten the crazy traffic of Delhi on a week-day and arriving) the frenetic dancing ended. In stark contrast to the swaying movements, and with measured steps, the baaraatis converged at the hall’s entrance and were welcomed with warm smiles and traditional, flower garlands.

It was pretty much a regular, big, fat Indian wedding but what distinguished it was the large number of cousins who had made great efforts to be there, from different parts of the country and even more heartwarming was the spirit with which they met one another after long gaps. The magic of the extended family was palpable, the joy writ large on each face, very heartening. The sense of kinship and bonding were  tangibly felt by everyone.

Truly, a memorable occasion!!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Ah friends....

The fortnight from the last week of Feb to the first week of March had a magical quality-spent as it was in the company of some of the dearest friends I have made along Life’s winding way. And it was special in more ways than one-for after three decades, four young girls who had shared more than just a room-whose dreams and aspirations, plans and crazy ideas had all been similar-converged at one point and shared space, albeit for a brief interim. Oh the joy of reconnecting with long-lost friends, friends with whom one’s association goes back years and years, who one has shared the better part of one’s life with…and the occasion was no less special, as it was the wedding of the first one of all the offspring-another first for the four chirpy ‘gals’ of room number 4, PWCH, 1979. A first of sorts in many ways, and therefore that much more important. From the Sangeet to the recci around Dilli Haat and GIP Mall, from catching up with other mutual friends to the latest gossip involving some hapless hosteller of those days, we did the gamut. And emerged refreshed and rejuvenated.

And then, the very next weekend, spent with another very dear, hostel friend-again, one of the closest and dearest that I have-transported me to the good old days once again. There was endless chatter, rollicking laughter, easy banter and yummy food. Truly memorable, and went on to prove how the intervening years-decades really-have not taken away an iota from the ‘giggling girls at heart’. Once back in the same company, the years simply fall away and it’s amazing to see each one of us revert to that carefree persona when inane conversation and senseless giggles become the order of the day. Incredible how we, responsible and sedate middle-aged creatures of the world, with careers to boot, have remained the unspoiled, unsophisticated, naive (in many ways) people, untouched by all the rough and tumble of life. Or is it that temporarily we revert to that persona while the rest of the time, we are worldly-wise and cynical and very much in sync with current times?

Good question to debate…..but whatever the answer, what is a fact is that such lovely interludes pass off in a trice. Even this lovely week-end got over too fast and soon she winged it back to the Wild West (!) but not before we had created some wonderful memories.

Which will keep us going till the next such meet happens.