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Sunday, December 8, 2013

On Turning Sixty

The other day my maid who’s been with me for a year asked me how old I am. I told her to take a guess. She said 45? I started to giggle, and told her to look again at my grey hair which I’ve recently stopped dyeing/ colouring. She turned around and said that is no indication .... one can become prematurely grey. I told her I had a daughter 29 years old and that I'd just turned sixty.

She wouldn't believe me and thought I was joking. For that minute I felt really good, she’d made my day! Maybe I didn't look my age but certainly not 45!

Sixty sounds old but I don't really feel it, actually it's hard to believe I am that old ..... how did it happen? Of course I don't want to be called old, neither do I want to age fast.

I am not saying that things will not change or will remain the same from now on, in fact I think about the future a lot and what is in store for me. More is yet to come. I still have two daughters to be married, and then hopefully to be a grandmother … and still in the transient stages of settling into a permanent home myself.

This is life.  We are transient anyway so why want permanency? Very philosophical ... a trait that comes with age.

Having reached 60 I definitely feel grateful. I am much more confidant, optimistic and outgoing than before, specially as a child when I was serious, anxious, withdrawn. You should see some of my old photographs, I rarely smiled!

The gamut of experiences, most of all the higher education I got changed me as a person. It opened up new ideas and exposed me to the options of different ways-of-life.

Though I never made a ‘bucket-list’ I've had quite real fulfilling years so far.  But now for the years to come I’ve started hoping for some different things (which I hope happen in the next five years) at least :-

1. To be physically fit: to be able to continue my walks and yoga and keep in reasonably good shape, and not worry about belly fat!

2. To become more spiritually inclined: pray more, do pranayama and meditation ….which means a lot of self-disciplining.

3. Have a more minimalistic life. To get rid of all the clutter and keep only bare essentials ..... eat simple food, smaller meals.

4.  To help my husband open the old trunks and sort out all his parents’ stuff lying in storage for years! To offload all my stuff to my girls, like my jewellery and clothes.

5.  To acquire some of my husband’s organizing skills. To be able to spend more time with him and do some travelling together ...

6.  Catch up on a lot of reading which I missed doing for many years.  To have leisure time.

7.  To see both my daughters happily married and reasonably well-settled and content in their lives.

8.  To be content myself.

This list makes it look like life is only beginning now. My husband who's also turned sixty around the same time … I hope he's in sync with me on this, all these serious points would become more fun.

Monday, November 11, 2013

A lone bird

This photo was taken in Dubai on a
foggy morning in 
January 2013

a lone bird
paused in flight
seeing the brooding gray
stretching in front

amid the gray
dawn breaking
through the seamless fog
only severed light
coming through

croaks, squawks, chirps



taps the window
to get direction

take shelter

waiting before
taking flight again

rises above
having wings

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Refreshing Green

Plants have been a fairly major part of all my homes. Potted plants formed my balcony gardens when we lived in apartments, and when our homes had outdoor gardens I felt doubly blessed.

I always put in my best efforts to care for and nurture these plants (with a vested interest, selfishly, knowing the pleasure they would provide me in return).

Some indoor varieties always made up part of my interiors as well, in living rooms, kitchens and even bathrooms, bringing in nature to give a fresh, vibrant feeling.

But uncharacteristically, when we moved to Chennai, I held myself back and decided not to keep any plants in this flat here, for two reasons: one, I wanted to keep life simple, and secondly, so as to not have to worry about who's going to water them during my recently fairly frequent travels. I've just been pacifying myself with the greenery outside, the gulmohar and peepal trees our balcony oversees, and the neem tree which literally droops into it.

But how could I not have any greenery inside the house?! To try and add some green inside I replaced the potted plants by cut stems of a variety of greens, mainly money-plants. I grew up hearing the saying that if you stole a piece of money-plant and it grew and flourished in your house you would prosper and get rich. I don't know how much truth it holds (it certainly doesn't seem to have got US anywhere! at least, yet) but do know for a fact that these plants are hardy and thrive with a minimum of fuss, while adding the required refreshing, green hues to my immediate surroundings.

Balcony Garden

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

After every shower of rain ...

After every shower of rain
the drive gets strewn with red
the rain brings down
the summer blooms of
the gulmohar
while a confetti of petals
spreads a red carpet below
some flowers lie silently
giving out the last of their
delicate beauty
until day's end.
The fragrance of the wet earth
remains, leaving one
happier and lighter.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Music, a gift of God

Musical instruments used to be around in our house ….. a harmonium, a set of tablas, a sitar, a guitar… my father always hoped at least one of us three kids would pick up something seriously … my youngest brother does have a very good natural ear for music, and plays a number of instruments well, like the guitar, or keyboards, or tabla.  But all impromptu, he doesn’t read music. Plays really good jazz, just makes it up as he goes along.

I was exposed to some amount of music within and on the fringes of my family. My mother and also father's sister played the Sitar. As a child I remember attending music performances with my parents (this was in people’s homes), where kids would sit and listen, or otherwise drop off to sleep on their mothers’ laps out of sheer boredom, more like being serenaded to sleep. One of my mother's brothers is quite an accomplished Sitar player, and gives performances.

So it was natural that as a teenager I learn to play the sitar.  But sadly, after three years I gave up.  I often wish I had taken my training more seriously, and continued with it. But with this little exposure to music I’ve at least become a fond listener, if not a player!

I listen to Indian classical music, and some evenings, depending on the mood, some western Jazz. And of course a lot of Bollywood music. I enjoy going to concerts whenever I get a chance.  There’s nothing quite like attending a live performance. But I always envy people with knowledge about different styles of singing Ragas, etc.

I wish I were a singer. Not the performing kind but one who can at least break into song and sound reasonably in ‘sur’. I do often sing along with songs played on the radio or TV, though sounding quite besura.

Anyway, the nice thing is that having had some little exposure to music in my family, I’m now getting to know about the musical side of IS’s family!

As a child IS learnt to play the piano, but didn't keep it up beyond junior school.  Since the days of The Beatles he's always enjoyed listening to Western pop/rock/blues.  His father used to enjoy Western music contemporary at that time (a favourite being "Eternally", composed by Charlie Chaplin, with first line of the song "I'll be loving you eternally ...").  As someone put it, Music is a connection to people who've gone ...  His mother was more comfortable with Indian classical, as seems to have been the case with most of her family.

IS's niece Vrinda is a Hindustani classical vocalist. This is not a recent discovery, we’ve known she was training to be a singer when I first met her in the mi-80s. IS's mother’s side of the family (Konkani Saraswat Brahmins) had more or less severed relations with his mother when she married his father, a Muslim. But a few relatives did make efforts to get back/keep in touch with IS’s mother and him, this niece’s family included.

Before a visit to Bombay a couple of years ago IS made contact with Vrinda again, and she (and her husband) visited us in Bandra. Such a warm, knowledgeable person. After she updated us on some of IS’s mother’s family background our conversation converged to music.

She explained her style of singing very simply, singing little examples to us in the process.

Vrinda’s mother Aruna Rao is IS’s first cousin, an artist herself in the field of literature, painting and music.  IS met her many years ago in Bombay, and when much younger, he also remembers briefly meeting Aruna’s mother, his mother’s sister!  Though she lived till 1986 (when she was 89 and IS was 33), imagine they met just once or twice!

I listen to Vrinda now and then and although we hardly meet, keep connected to her through her music.  At this stage in my life I seem to be getting more inclined to immersing myself in music.