Archive | March, 2012

On Separation Anxiety

29 Mar

On Separation Anxiety.

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On Separation Anxiety

29 Mar

My husband and I are either going to buy a dog or have a child. We can’t decide whether to ruin our carpet or ruin our lives. ~ Rita Rudner

“The hand that rocks the cradle usually is attached to someone who isn’t getting enough sleep.”
~ John Fiebig

I am to travel to London briefly next week. The thought of leaving my children is rustling up much anxiety in me and marring any chance of looking forward to my trip. I have no doubt that my children will be well looked after by their doting dadi. And yet I suffer coz the ‘heart has its reasons that reason does not know’.

Becoming a mother is really the hardest and yet the most rewarding thing in the world. Cliché? Yes. But true. I don’t think I have slept a full night’s sleep since our first-born came into the world nine years ago. I should have been warned before I had my babies. Someone ought to have told me that I need to choose between sleep and motherhood.

My body wakes up on autopilot in the middle of the night and I sleepwalk to my kids’ room to check on them every single night. This includes the night when they are doing a sleep over at their grandparents’. On those nights, I wake up and look up our dog.

I thought I was obsessive bordering on psychotic till I observed Coco the other day. Coco is my sister’s Chiwawa and she has had a litter of three tiny puppies out-of-wedlock a few weeks ago.  I had gone over specially to see how the puppies were faring. Seeing this irresistible heap of three tiny Chiwawa babies I bent over to pick them up. The worry on Coco’s face as I adjusted her little one in the palm of my hand, the concern that they may be scared or hurt, was only too apparent on her face.  She scampered around me constantly as I sat on the couch, to make sure her baby was safe. When I put her pup down on the floor finally and let him make his way towards his bed she turned back to look at me, imploring me to help him climb inside it. When I took a cue and did exactly as she wanted she rewarded me by wagging her tail and tenderly touching my shins with her paw to thank me.

Then she climbed in after him herself and began to clean up and stroke her other two puppies while they took turns hanging onto her teats till their little tummies could expand no further. Having had way too much to drink they collapsed and rolled over on their backs, unable to move thereafter. This time Coco sat upright watching over them for what seemed like an eternity. The carefree Coco we knew a few months ago has ceased to be the alpha female of the house and is only just a mother now. Her whole personality has undergone such drastic transformation that is it hard to believe that she was anything else other than a ‘mother’.

Very soon these little puppies will find their new homes as my sister and her husband already have an animal farm situation in their apartment and cannot possibly add 3 more pups to it. I wonder how Coco will deal with it then. These puppies are her raison-d-etre.  I hate to imagine her suffering once they are taken away from her one by one.

Has nature really meant for it to be this way? Will she forget and get over this separation? If this is a dog’s life then it really must be a life of suffering because I see no difference between Coco and me. We share the same emotions. We feel the same way. Then what kind of karma merits a dog’s birth I wonder?

Suddenly my own anxiety about being away from my kids for a week seems ridiculous to me. Am just thanking my stars I am not a dog. Not in this life anyway.

 

 

 

Nirvana and Nokia by the Ganges

24 Mar

From Zinfandel to Zen at Ananda in the Himalayas

23 Mar

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We have just returned from our most holistic retreat to date having spent a few days at the famed spa resort -Ananda in the Himalayas. Ananda in Sanskrit means, “bliss” and as it turned out, this well-appointed resort nestled in the Himalayas, lived upto its name in every conceivable way.

On the day we arrived, we were warmly received and handed over a roster of our daily schedule that briefly made us feel like what gentleman cadets at the IMA (Indian Military Academy) must feel like on their day of induction. I had come here expecting to wake up late and have breakfast in bed without the usual schedules and routines that are regrettably a part of our lives in the city. But here was something that suggested I show up at yoga sessions and/or morning treks at 7 am.

Once in our room I promptly put the schedule away and slipped into the lovely white kurta pajamas provided by the hotel. The husband had asked for two medium sized kurta-pj sets for both of us the. Only a man can be that insensitive, ordering a ‘medium’ size for his wife without bothering to ask her if she would have preferred a ‘small’. “But you are not small, we are nearly the same size,” he insisted when I made him call housekeeping. Now he was adding insult to injury. I may well be a ‘medium’ but I like to believe that I am a ‘small’. Fat don’t like to be told they are fat and short don’t like to be told they are short and medium don’t like to be called medium. Indignant, I went away into the balcony and saw a peacock at work. So there it was,  in all his plumed splendour, chasing after a peahen that had a headache and wanted to be left alone. The peanhen was probably saying “Not today darling” in peacock-speak. But did he care? No. The male of the species never disappoint, one way or another.

I took in the sweeping view of the lush surroundings from my balcony and came back into the room only to see a peacock preening at himself in the mirror of our room. It was the husband, if you must ask, in his whites, giving himself the eye and smiling approvingly at his own reflection.

Over lunch at the patio, a little later, we were surprised to see that we were the only ones consuming wine and wondered what the afternoon had done wrong to not merit a few salubrious toasts from the Spaniards and the Russians at the tables around us.

It took us a day to figure out that though Ananda served alcohol, its guests preferred the meditation class at 5pm and the evening yoga session to sleeping through the day and waking up hung-over in the evening. Unlike them, we learnt this lesson at our own expense.

We bumped into S and F, friends we knew from Bombay, who had been at Ananda a few days already.  While we spent most of our time thereafter at the spa or on our spiritual refueling, we had all our meals together amidst chatter and much laughter over malts and zinfandel. S is quite the mistress of spices and F, the mister of vices. Had it not been for their wonderful company, the husband and I would have gone into coma from all the calm at Ananda.

The most rewarding moment of my trip however, was to watch the husband make his ends meet every morning during out yoga session quite literally. The man who is known for his devotion to the gym was about as flexible on the yoga mats as the Monoliths at Bath in England. He had never been interested in yoga and I suspect he thinks yoga and other alternate practices for the mind and the body  are either for mendicants or for gays. Since he is neither, he never gave it a shot.

He would have been better off signing up for the ‘beginner’s group’ but I convinced him that he would manage the ‘intermediate level’ with ease for I had lofty plans. I wanted to use the video footage of him at the yoga class for the ‘Funny home videos’ contest on Zee TV.

At the meditation class where we were asked to observe our breath for 20 minutes, he complained of a feeling of something spinning in both this cranial lobes at the end of the session. I knew right away that they were his excel sheets spinning inside his head, yes the same ones he could not access as he had promised us that he would not attend to any work over those three days. As one can clearly see, God and excel sheets both work in mysterious ways. And so it was that we had to submit ourselves to the hedonistic pleasures at the spa to get away from all the meditative introspection.

The massages were so relaxing that one had to fight sleep while the treatment was on. I find sleeping through a massage to be a real waste of time. It is like sleeping through a concert. You miss the whole performance with all its subtle moments if you pass out with pleasure in a concert as on the massage table. Anyhow, if there is such a thing as ‘too much of a good thing’, we did not subscribe to it and overdid the massages till we were sore from them.

On our fourth day at Ananda, we decided to do a trek to the Kunja Devi temple up in the mountains, roughly 8 kms away. We took in the most breathtaking views on our way up. The Russians in our group and the husband were faring rather well what with their beefed up bodies, but some of us Indian types, including myself were a sorry sight on those mountain goat tracks.

At the summit we had some garam garam chai and braced ourselves for the 300 steps that lay ahead of us leading to the sanctorum where the deity resides. I am not a ‘pilgrimage’ kind of person nor am I ritualistic, but the energy inside that temple was indescribable. I cannot remember last when I felt like this inside a temple. This was my Zen moment of the trip.

Back in Bombay, I have spent a few days dragging my legs around the house like an invalid. The ‘bliss’ had given way to soreness of the muscles from the hike and my feet felt like lead. The nirvana moment seemed like a thing from another lifetime.

Perhaps it was time to check into a spa again. Already.

23 Mar

This is a wonderful post I stumbled upon about everybody’s favourite Television Show du jour – Downton Abbey. Undoubtedly Maggie Smith is most delightful aspect of this show. Her golden moments, can be relived in the video attached with this lovely post.

Marilyn R. Gardner

My love affair with Downton Abbey began during the Patriots/Broncos NFL playoffs game in January of this year. Our friends introduced us and so smitten were we that we moved back and forth between the first episode and the massacre that was the football game.

It took ten minutes of Thomas’s scowl, O’Brien’s bitterness and caustic tongue, Mary’s arrogance, and Anna’s integrity to fall in love. But what sealed the deal was Violet the Dowager, Countess of Grantham (called Lady Grantham by most) played by the legendary Maggie Smith. She commanded every scene she was in and had more “quotable quotes” in one episode than most American TV shows have in an entire year.

As the football went down the field, usually in the hands of the Patriots, Downton Abbey entered our lives with its upstairs/downstairs story line and quotes that beg for memorization.

So here are some of my…

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Detox and the death of Venus

13 Mar

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I ran into a friend of mine at a soiree about two weeks ago. It was a sit down dinner and while we all did the sitting down bit to perfection, the folds around the abdomen of some of my gender in attendance did not quite manage to sit down much, in a manner of speaking. We have made our respective contributions to the planet by creating life. The process has left its telltale signs on some of us, signs that even the magical Spanx (it is the ultimate corset) cannot suppress too well. Jogging, gym routines, dieting etc have the same impact on our midriff as the moon on the sea. Like the tides in the sea our abs expand and recede, but they never really go back to their prenatal state, sadly. I have always hailed Botticelli’s women for this very reason. Botticelli and other artists of his time considered a mildly protruding belly to be a sign of beauty and femininity. It is a pity therefore that we are born a few hundred years too late, in an era where women with androgynous bodies or body parts are considered beautiful. This is truly the death of Venus. That evening of the sit down dinner my friend S stood out from the rest of us by the sheer might of her sylphlike figure that seemed to have been poured into her McQueen dress. She looked slimmer and fresher than ever before and even as I felt happy for her, my happiness was accompanied by a sudden loss of appetite. I began to feel remorseful about the three samosas I had done justice to while watching the violence of Agnipath just a few weeks earlier. The samosas seemed to dance in front of my eyes and were soon joined by the dessert I had been tucking into every now and then at dinners and the many French fries and chicken nuggets I had been polishing off from my children’s plates at birthday parties. Rhonda Byrnes says that we only get fat because we have fat thoughts. I promise I had been having thin thoughts the whole time I was pigging out. Clearly The Secret is a load of BS for my thin thoughts have not served me too well in the past. Either that or my weighing scale has not read The Secret. Over dinner the same evening I decided to hold back a bit and eat smaller portions. However, two units of wine later I found myself relishing the soufflé’ followed by lamb chops with mash and eventually the dessert. Moral of the story: Never make promises to self and follow it up with wine. Anyway S is extremely generous and happily mailed the secret of her svelteness to me few desperate text messages from me later. It is called the Clean Diet and is a strict detox programme endorsed by many ‘thin and glowing’ people on it’s website. I promptly went through the ‘diet recipes’ and realized that a trip to Nature’s Basket was imminent.Part of the reason this detox program has aided weightloss for me is because the list of foods it recommends are so hard to find in India that just walking around the aisles in gourmet stores has toned my calves and burnt off some cellulite even before I could embark on the diet. There are things like Agave syrup, Chia, Kale, Quinoa and a few dozen other exotic ingredients in the Clean Diet plan that are very hard to pronounce correctly let alone find in stores. I did not find most of these ingredients and decided to use my own logic and get going with the diet anyhow. And I have. I can get by in the day on the smoothies and quinoa with meat or veggies but I am loath to eat the insipid pureed raw vegetables for dinner every night. With that kind of unappetizing pulp for dinner, one is likely to go off living, to say nothing of eating. But I did it. I ate that green paste that looks and tastes like cud, night after night and lo and behold, within 5 days I had dropped a kilo and half if not more. I would have lost more had the husband not returned from his trip and asked me to join him over dinner. Noticing that he had gained a little weight around his midriff I proudly found myself boasting about the virtues of this diet not missing to draw his attention to my newly acquired self-control and receded abs. The same night over dinner, I had to exercise self-restraint till I turned purple as I saw him generously tuck into pan-fried noodles while I sat there swallowing my own vegetable pulp. As soon as he left the table I helped myself to the noodles with the desperation of a person who had just been released from an Auschwitz concentration camp by some stroke of luck. Next day the same thing happened again. I realized that now I was eating more than ever before what with me eating my diet meals along with meals cooked for the husband. Since my will power is nothing much to write home about, I have stopped having meals with my husband or with my kids. I eat alone. The dog who usually sits at my feet when I dine has also deserted his favourite place next to my chair. Sometimes while he is eating his meal he turns back to look at me with an unmistaken look of pity mixed with admiration. As for me, I may feel bovine at times on account of the pureed greens I am resigned to consume over dinner, but better to feel bovine than look it. Si?

P.S I have made the mistake of interrupting my 21-day detox plan with a week’s interlude to stay with my food-loving Punjabi parents. My mother takes offense when I turn down food that is constantly sent my way. She imagines that I am looking frail. She tells me gulab jamuns and cakes are good for health as “sugar gives us energy”. And through emotional blackmail calorie rich food is finding its way back into my stomach. I am tempted to remind her of the time she was channeling her inner Twiggy way back in the 70s and 80s by giving up food altogether. But I don’t, for what chance does a flashback, logic or detoxing stand in the presence of a mother’s love? And so it is. I will have gained my weight back by the end of this week and all that penance of the previous week will have been wasted. But at least my mother will be happy.

The weekend the husband baby sat and the price I am paying for it

6 Mar

A few weeks ago I decided to travel out of Bombay leaving my kids and husband behind to bond with one another. This was a luxury previously unknown to me as I willingly signed up for the traditional role of the homemaker soon after the stork had visited us for the first time. Even though we have both stuck to our roles of breadwinner and homemaker with unmatched zeal and commitment the monotony of our respective roles does take its toll on us at times.

The husband is the ‘Up in air’ guy. I don’t mean I am married to George Clooney (sigh), but the gentleman who is the father of my children and my husband spends the better part of his life at airports and in planes.

Therefore this two-day get-away was just what the doctor ordered and the husband and I looked forward to the approaching weekend of role reversal with much enthusiasm.

That weekend, it felt wonderful to not have to be bothered by the kids since I was convinced that the husband would be doing a fabulous job as a hands-on daddy.

Usually the kids begin to ring me with all sorts of annoying issues ranging from not wanting to eat “dal subzi” and “where have you hidden the ipad” to “she is not letting me do my homework mamma”, as soon as I have stepped over to the other side of my threshold.

But this time, the phone did not ring even once. No complaints about the food, about each other; no pestering to allow me to let them watch television for longer than their appointed 30 minutes or to convince me about the futility of a daily bath. My god it felt incredible to have happy kids for a change.

What was the husband doing to keep them so happy I wondered as I congratulated myself silently on his success as a weekend daddy?

The weekend daddy too sounded chuffed having spent time so fruitfully with his girls, fostering the father-daughter bond between them.

I came back to Bombay full of gratitude to the husband and with promises to myself to leave the kids in his good care and travel more often.  When I reached home I met a very self-satisfied father. I would even go so far as to call him self-congratulatory in fact. “The girls behaved impeccably in your absence,” he informed me after our initial tête-à-tête. I beamed from ear to ear taking this as a personal compliment. So all my effort in child rearing over the years was beginning to pay off.  The sacrifice of my productive youth over the altar of parenthood had not been in vain.

I was savouring the compliment when he started to speak again thus, “I feel they are far better behaved in my presence than they are when you are around.”

Whaaaaaat? Did I hear right? So all that praise was being lavished on himself? I had to get to the bottom of this. I enquired about how time had been spent in my absence. Here is a summary of what happened after I left on Friday evening.

The girls watched television for over an hour (??!!), ate their dinner without blinking in front of the TV, cuddled up with their father and went to sleep as soon as they were told to. Hitting the sack as soon as they were ordered was unusual indeed.

On Saturday after breakfast they were driven to a mall where they were allowed to eat whatever the hell they wanted and buy whatever the hell they liked. Their father showered them with love and affection and got it back in an unusual measure. The daddy took his girls on roller coaster and carousel rides the girls took him for a ride in return by throwing tantrums inside the toy store. Unlike me, he is a doting parent and he succumbed.

That same night were asked to eat whatever was cooked at home for dinner without cribbing and they obeyed like newly recruited military cadets working overtime to make an impression on their new training commander. They knew that their good behaviour would not go unrewarded the next day.

Sunday followed and they spent hours swimming together. The younger one had a cold and she was especially pleased to be rid of her mother for the day because there was no one to prevent her from getting into the water.

After lunch the girls convinced their father to take them to yet another mall, one they had never been to before. The new mall was practically empty and the salesman wore forlorn expressions for want of business. Their worries were put to rest by the three members of the Shroff family who wasted to time in helping them out by purchasing a bag full of accessories, shoes, tiaras, handbags etc etc.

The girls fought over who would hold their father’s hand and he was so overjoyed at his new-found popularity that he just stopped short of having a nervous breakdown with too much happiness.

The kids nanny was most amused by the activities over those two days and told me the children were on a constant sugar high and were even giggling in their sleep in my absence.

And now, the husband loses no opportunity in reminding me that the girls don’t listen to me and that they are the modicum of perfect behaviour ONLY in my absence and due to his presence. Sometimes he finds a way to say this to me even when he calls me from overseas and we are discussing the weather. “Tokyo is freezing. It is 3 degrees. The girls don’t listen to you at all. They did everything I said at once. I am going to try the bars at Ginza. I bought you some rice cakes…blah blah”.

I was about to lose my endurance last night when he said the same thing to me for the gazillionth time.  I was tempted to tell him that “one swallow does not a summer make” but then, that is not the wisest thing to say when you want to go to Marrakech on an all girls trip for a few days in April. Or is it?

 

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