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Coupland etc.

I decided to clear my head a bit. And re-read some Douglas Coupland.

Now think over this one. Really think over it.

After you’re dead and buried and floating around whatever place we go to, what’s going to be your best memory of earth? What one moment for you defines what it’s like to be alive on this planet. What’s your takeaway? Fake yuppie experiences that you had to spend money on, like white water rafting or elephant rides in Thailand don’t count. I want to hear some small moment from your life that proves you’re really alive.

And then this passage that gave me the kind of goosebumps money can’t buy. So. Who is yours?:-)

Everybody has a ‘gripping stranger’ in their lives, Andy, a stranger who unwittingly possesses a bizarre hold over you. Maybe it’s the kid in cut-offs who mows your lawn or the woman wearing White Shoulders who stamps your book at the library—a stranger who, if you were to come home and find a message from them on your answering machine saying ‘Drop everything. I love you. Come away with me now to Florida,’ you’d follow them.

No, not going away to Florida anytime soon. Too pregnant with posts, too head-first in life for that.

Back with more than quotes soon.

 

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Laziness Leads to Poetry

I love this poem to pieces and I would feel greedy if I didn’t share it with you all. And you would not be wrong in assuming that I have an Adrienne Rich habit.

No one’s fated or doomed to love anyone.
The accidents happen, we’re not heroines,
they happen in our lives like car crashes,
books that change us, neighborhoods
we move into and come to love.
Tristan und Isolde is scarcely the story,
women at least should know the difference
between love and death. No poison cup,
no penance. Merely a notion that the tape-recorder
should have caught some ghost of us: that tape-recorder
not merely played but should have listened to us,
and could instruct those after us:
this we were, this is how we tried to love,
and these are the forces they had ranged against us,
and theses are the forces we had ranged within us,
within us and against us, against us and within us.

– Adrienne Rich

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What It Takes

..to bring me back is being roundly called A USELESS, YOOOUUUSSELESS WOMAN by this Bloggaqueen.

And I love her. So if you were looking for a catfight – shoo.

On the other hand, if you like girl on girl action, stick around. (Oh. God. I may have just asked for choicest UP waali gaalis)

As soon as I’m done stalking yet another person I don’t know on Facebook, I’ll be back.

In a more dignified manner than Arnold. Hopefully.

Edited to Add: 100,000 hits. High five. After almost three years, I’m upto MM’s daily traffic;-)

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Today

..was a most wonderful day.

Today India won the ICC World Cup after 28 years and The Indian, The Norwegian and the bi-racial spawn jumped up and down in their living room while De Ghumaake blared. Our new neighbours who were literally just moving in, stopped to stare through our window at this insane display. They might just ask for their deposit back. Bye. Nice seeing you through the windowpane.

Today and the 30th of March surprised me because I am not a die-hard cricket buff. Not really. There is the rather apparent fact that I just cannot resist a great party, but the surprise has stemmed from how moved I have been by these sporting displays. It lifted itself so effortlessly beyond nationalism, beyond a people’s pride and gave us such pure glimpses of grace under pressure and grace in defeat and victory.

Today was wonderful because the Viking woke me up with a perfect cappucino and worried about “our team”. Can you tell that he takes his PIO card very seriously? The wannabe-Indianness in him is unfailingly endearing, especially given that I laugh and scoff my way through the Winter Olympics biathlon with a “seriously! Is all this snot and spit dangling off their faces supposed to MAKE me want to watch???”

Today, it really mattered to be with someone who cared as much about this outcome as I did. Someone who comforted me when it looked grim and who whooped and cheered the boundaries and the sixes with the same enthusiasm.

My son happily spent the entire day watching this thrilling match with me. I translated the Indian national anthem for him and I choked up with tears. He looked concerned and I had the chance to explain to him, in simple terms, how strange and difficult it is sometimes to not live in a country that possesses your heart so fully. How the smallest things can sometimes trigger a longing so powerful that it can knock you off balance.

Today I heard myself say, “I’m sorry, Arvind, but Mamma is so happy that she quietly needs to say a really bad word now.”

And he grinned back at me and said, ” It’s cool. I know you’re happy.”

Armaan drank my adrak chai and danced to Gal Meethi Meethi Bol. The Viking informs me that he also stood on our windowsill and flashed *GASP* our new neighbours. We can’t afford trauma compensation, I told him dryly. I’m hoping that this won’t reveal itself to be pattern of behaviour for the times he feels slightly neglected.

I smoothly transitioned into my mother when I calmly turned on my squabbling kids and said, “If you’re going to insist on fighting, take it outside. Kill yourselves there. There’s a match going on inside.”

Today was about the awesomeness of social media – the comments, the bonding, the virtual high-fiving across continents and timelines. The thrill in knowing that so many were foregoing sleep and routine to watch and hope together. Even before victory was a certainty, the day was touched by joy and and a sense of uncomplicated oneness. An absence of malice. (Ravi Shastri, of course, excelled in milking malice from commenters, but really – he has only himself to blame.)

Today, I had no clue who Poonam Pandey was and I have still not bothered to google her. She may or may not be naked when I make her media acquaintance.

I wondered idly if Rahul Gandhi could possibly be as goodlooking as he appeared on television. I giggled because he looked impossibly bored by the women who insisted on “entertaining” him.

Today we ate takeaway and dinner was ice cream. With champagne for the adults.

Did I already say it was a fantastic day? Right then.

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When in India..

This post almost never happened because of all the sighing over the warmth. Not the hospitality, but actual HEAT, yo!

The perfect temperatures in Bombay these past couple of days, the joy of sun on my arms, my face, the ever-so-mild burn on the back of my neck, the perspiration that starts to dot your upper lip. I missed it all.

All the snow, snowmen, snowfights and sexy winter gear cannot make me love winter. I need sun. And light. LOTS of light. Or I go Seasonal Affective Disorder on your ass. SAD. See?

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Textbooks in Intercultural Communications will tell you that India, like many eastern cultures is “high context”. Essentially meaning that “many things are left unsaid, letting the culture explain. Words and word choice become very important in higher context communication, since a few words can communicate a complex message very effectively to an in-group, but less effectively outside that group”.

Bollocks, I say. Edward Hall has not done business in India in 2011 where they will sit across the table from you and volley with, ” What’s in it for us? Show me the value add.”

All that was missing was Jerry Maguire jumping up and down like a lunatic shouting, “SHOW ME THE MONEY.”

In my work avatar, I am Norwegian through and through. I cringe every time someone brags without restraint and all the chest-beating that goes with self-promotion makes me want to giggle into my cutting chai. I miss Norwegian self-derision. Stop talking, dude. Now let your work talk.

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“Now we will be smearing you with a de-tanner.”

“Err…No you won’t. I’m happy with my skin colour, thanks.”

She looks at me in total bewilderment as if to say, “WHAT? YOU DON’T WANT TO BE AT LEAST MEDIUM LATTE COMPLEXION?” (Or cumbleshun works too.)

No thanks, I’ll be the Bru kaapi I’ve always been, I try to convey wordlessly.

Suddenly her face relaxes into a smile as if she has been let in on a huge joke.

“Skin will look much nicer, madam.”

“I don’t need it.”

Her large eyes are pools of pity.

“Yes,” she says, “You do, Madam. You do.”

When you meet me, don’t bother to tell me I look rather wan. I have been bleached within an inch of my life.

What can I say? Being half naked in a spa, before a complete stranger weakens your sense of certitude.

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The Birth Story

Every child loves their birth story. I loved every aspect of mine. The part where my father took to tears of relief and happiness after some pretty intense and long labouring on my mother’s part and especially the part where I was told again and again how desperately they had wanted a girl. Me.

Never mind that my father’s visions of a sweetness and appropriate sparkiness in a pattupaavada were dashed too soon for his own liking.

I have always struggled with Arvind’s birth story. I have struggled with a way to be honest without passing on the sense of despair, the torment and the bewilderment I felt right after he was born. All I have ever wanted him to know was how much he was loved and wanted from the minute he was a cell lining my womb.

His birth was our birth.

We were flung headlong through this tumultous passage into parenthood and before we could pick ourselves off the floor and  focus on nurturing him and loving him, we were sent into the trenches to fight for him and speak his case.

We didn’t have playdates. While other mothers complained about getting through the fogginess of breastfeeding, we were reading articles about brachial plexus avulsion that my grieving father sent me. We started physiotherapy on day 10, there was surgery in the sixth month and life a-twixt it all.

But there is a birth story.

Of a large baby who came as if from a planet rich in iron ore, screaming his protest at his cruel eviction. Nurses marvelled that he suckled so effortlessly. I was so giddy from the experience, so besotted with my new love, so high on every hormone known to man that all I could do was stare at him. His face was never squishy or doughy in the way newborn faces can be. To me, he looked like delicately crafted bone china and every little feature was perfection.

On the first night at the hospital, (the Viking and my mother had to go home) the nurse on duty gently reminded me that I had been awake for almost 48 hours and that I needed rest. I will take good care of him, she said as she wheeled him out into the hallway. I fell into an almost drugged state of sleep only to be rudely awakened by the forceful wailing of a child.

My child. My breasts ached and I sat bolt upright in bed, desperate.

If you haven’t had a third degree tear and a brutal episiotomy, I’m going to spare you that information. But stay away from google is all I will say. And don’t try to walk, because.. well.. you really can’t. At least not without feeling like someone is driving spears through your delicate parts and right through your brain. Nothing pretty here. Move along.

To date, I don’t know how I dragged myself off the bed and hobbled through the room and down the hallway, desperately holding onto something, anything that would take me to my disconsolate son. There was no maternal heroism driving me, only the sheer force of necessity. (There. Motherhood in a nutshell. You asked.) He was bright red from the the fierce effort of his screams, but the minute he heard my voice, the minute I picked him up a held him close, he was completely still.

Like he had been expecting me all along. Like this comfort was the real and only deal.

If there was ever a parental contract, this was the moment I signed on the dotted line and said, “I do.”

The moment I knew I would be up for the whole, complicated deal, no matter what it demanded, no matter what it took.

It wasn’t just love, my darling, I tell him. It was knowing that you and I had come through several lifetimes to this point again. This point we clearly knew so well and recognized instantly.

You were born an old soul, I tell him. Your eyes were filled with knowing then and older people have later marvelled at your dignity, your wisdom beyond your years. Your sense that there is a world of special secrets that you are privy to.

And your father who saw the horror of your birth live, up close and personal and never let on or crumbled? He bounced in the day after, took one look into the crib and said, “Well, if it isn’t the cutest kid EVER!” and after we marvelled over every little part of you for hours, he promptly fell asleep in our hospital bed with you on his chest. Which is pretty much the way he still likes it – you piled on him. Him, drinking it in and loving you with unconditional zeal.

Then there was your grandmother. You were her first grandchild and she will still gloat that she held you before I did. That she knew immediately that you were the most wonderful child in the whole, wide world. You were her birthday present that came two days early and you would grow to be the child closest to her in spirit and heart. On her 51st birthday, she was granted two hours to visit us. I spent a good part of that time pretending to shower and sobbing for everything I could not repair and control. Feeling wretchedly guilty for the crappy birthday my mother was having and all the worry that would now also be a part of her life.

I came out and she was still sitting on the worn hospital sofa, holding you, unable to take her besotted eyes of you and alternately having conversations with you while you slept and sending quiet prayers while holding your tiny arm in her palm.

Turns out that you were the most amazing birthday present she ever received and that it wasn’t as crappy a birthday as I might have thought it was.

If you could have spoken then, you would probably have told me that already.

Happy 8th year, my special little prince. And happy birthday to your Ammamma. Between the two of you, I’ll never be short on lessons in love. Now go listen to one of our favourite songs.

“They never die – that’s how you and I will be”

 

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Desiderata

Desiderata – by Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.

Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

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I’ve been reading and re-reading this today in an attempt to be sane. To stay anchored.

It is one of those days when I am suddenly hit with the blurry pace of things and all I want to do is nap.

All I want is to be held so that I can empty my body of its tears and get on with the business of living.

I will things to slow down, imagining that if I think the thought long enough, the rest of my frantic body and manic mind will co-operate. They don’t.

So I read. And I re-read. I take huge gulping breaths and I go for a walk to pick wildflowers. I create my own bubble of quiet.

And I remember the wonderful moment today when my youngest child cupped my face in his sticky, stubby-fingered palms and planted a vanilla ice-creamed kiss on my lips. How the sun, high in the sky, made his smile shine as if surrounded by an aura. How I burst out laughing when he began performing his throaty ditties in the umm.. “personal” aisle of the store.

The moment when I was so silly that my oldest son rolled about on the sofa in gappy toothless glee, his entire body racked by chuckles.

And the man for whom the answer to “love me?” has always been “always”.

It is still a beautiful world, I say quietly to myself.

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