When Parents Grow Old

Nothing prepares kids for the time their parents grow old; nothing is as devastating as that. They react to it as though the parent has betrayed them. My personal take on the subject is rather like Anthony Powell’s who said “Growing old’s like being increasingly penalized for a crime you haven’t committed.”

My kids groan and talk down to me, they have more information and they do not hesitate or mince words when they tell me that.
It is very strange, growing old is inevitable, but the reactions are so strong against it. One has to accept it, and I do, for most part. My hinges and joints need oiling, I need my pills, my brain is chock full of old incidents and concepts, which growing information and technology has made redundant, and I can get repetitive. My kids groan and talk down to me, they have more information and they do not hesitate or mince words when they tell me that.

Read the rest here

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Ode to my once slim waist

Ode to my Once Slim Waist

Where are you my long lost friend?

My true partner through many bends

My slim fit jeans miss you dearly

So do many of my lovely kurtis

I should not have taken you for granted

Please know that I have since repented

Chocolate, fries, butter broke our marriage

You left me and I expanded, it’s tragic

I am a changed girl now, I swear my friend

Fatty food does not charm, I’ve made amends

Must our love be so shallow and transient?

Please forgive me, let’s once more be friends

Together we made quite an impression on men

Drinks spilled, temperatures rose, all eyes froze when

You and I swayed into a room, we did not have to try

To use wit, work hard for impact, Oh now I could cry

I know I did not treat you with love and care

So you left me for more youthful figures

But they are self absorbed and shallow

Come back my love, I’ve since mellowed

Together we shall flirt, we’ll do it with flair

Dance, exercise and I’ll treat you with care

You are the love of my life, you are my muse

See, I wrote you an ode, so do not refuse


Doctors, Hospitals and My New Year Eve

And yes this post is simply to cater to my Drama Queen soul, since I spent my new year eve in hospital.

Yeah, I need serious sympathy here.  You all are allowed to have any of these responses.

1. Gasp, OMG Ritu, hope you are well

2. You poor thing

3. You are such a brave person.

And if you join my two sons and DIL in scolding me, blaming me for taking my health for granted and any such response, we will have issues.  I may even go to the extent of not speaking to you any more.

I kid you not, I have been scolded, I have been threatened with dire consequences ad nauseum.  My diet is being monitored.  Entirely unnecessary I assure you.  I am shocked, chastened and entirely scared.

I had some kind of a heart problem.  And I thought it was gas.  I never knew that gas and acidity are signs of an impending heart attack.  Well one lives and learns …

And I got some awesome free ka gyan – on new year eve

1. Heart problem???? Women don’t get it

(Oh yeah? tell my ticker that!  Hello heart, you are female, please realize it and stop acting up.  By the way, isn’t this such a sexist comment?)

2. Doctors lie you know.  How do you know its your ECG report in your file?

(Errr do you love watching conspiracy theory movies?  I love the thought that someone else’s ECG will have a place of honour in my medical files.)

And then my visits to hospitals come with their own highs and lows …

I tell you they are EVENTS!

On 29th  night I had rajmah rice and had a spell of acidity.  I dismissed it because well – if you have beans in the night you deserve it.

The next day I went to work after popping a lot of antacid.  It worsened to the extent that on 31st Kid#2 pronounced that I looked like shit and I needed a doctor.

People who know me will not need to read any more.

I have this perfectly firm belief that I am invincible and I never need a doctor.

EVER

So I was bullied, scolded, cajoled and convinced that we were going to the G.P. in the neighbourhood.   Him I can handle.  So I got into the car – and got driven to the hospital.  Kid#2 and I got into a fight.  Especially when we were told the OPD did not function on Sundays and I was to be taken to the emergency.

I cheered up somewhat when I saw the Costa Coffee outlet.  I thought that once we met the doctor, we would get a coffee at Costa and then drive back.  It was new year eve and I looked forward to wearing my cute new dress.

Bas itna sa khwaab …

Of course it did not work out like I planned …

Doctor said ECG

I said no, I want something for acidity

Doctor pulled rank

I dug heels

Suddenly we had two nurses and 3 doctors around me.

Outnumbered, I shut up and submitted for the ECG

Result … I had an impending heart attack and needed an angiogram.

Pouf!  Rebellion vanished.  The son heaved a sigh of relief and signed a bunch of papers for my angiogram.  I looked at him reproachfully, saw the concern in his eyes and suffered pangs of conscience.  He is a good man!  And I am a brat.

So I got wheeled into the angio theatre.

Ever seen Sci Fi movies?  Swear that room was out of one of those sets.  We had this huge machine with humongous pipes branching out of it.  Some of those pipes ended up in monitors that actually wore surgical masks.  And someone gave a command at the machine.

Them monitors dipped, turned and approached me from various different angles.

Surreal …

My ticker quailed.

That was not enough.  They shaved me and then stuck a needle right erm in that neighbourhood.  Not pleasant.  Then some ink was stuck into me through the needle.  The doctor – a chatty pleasant person – set up a running commentary as she explained what she could see.

She and I were watching the same monitor … but she saw a heart

I saw an octopus

She told me my main arteries were clear.

So I did not tell her that what we were looking at was an octopus, not a heart. Why spoil a good thing?

She told me that some stupid capillary in some distant branch was acting up.  It was completely blocked and they would try to clear it with blood thinners.

I perked up.  I was going to get that Costa Coffee …

NOT!

I must place on record here that I never got it!

What I got was 24 hours in CCU, 24 more hours in a hospital bed and then was sent home

Cest La Vie …

I spent new year eve in CCU 😦

By ten in the night I told kiddo “You go and get drunk or whatever!  I’m going to sleep.”

I mean I was rigged up with drips and monitors that beeped and pinged and such like.  I wasn’t going any where, so someone needed to have fun.  I mean it was new year eve for heaven’s sake!  So why deprive him?

He resisted the urge ( I love him for that ) but eventually gave in, after leaving his number with every nurse in the ward and even scribbling it on a post it and putting it on my bed.

I slept.

The next day I got shifted to a room.  Ahhh bliss (or so I thought!)

Minor hiccup no. 1 : No Times Now.  Such a huge hospital and they dont subscribe to Times Now !!!!! Blasphemy

Minor hiccup no. 2 : Hospital Food

Minor hiccup no. 3 was discovered in the night

I was on a drip and it did unpleasant things to my bladder.  And the nurse would not remove the drip.

I had to get my pajamas changed since I could not control it.

I begged and pleaded but nurses are nurses.  They listen to doctors and not patients.  So it was either live with a leaky bladder or take matters in my own hands

I had a bottle of Aquafina on my bedside.  Every ten minutes I spilled water on the bed and the pajamas and called her.

I kid you not, I kept a close watch on the wall clock.  After every ten minutes I spilled some water and called her.

Finally she removed the drip.  Phew

I had a good night’s sleep.

The next day I got the news that the blood thinners worked and I could go home.

So now I can proudly say that this hospital visit is almost as eventful as the last one, you can read about that one here 

 

 

 

 

Of 500 million friends and a few enemies

“You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.”  

The Social Network

I learnt today that someone said nice things about my book to my face, and wrote nice things about my book.  But this person was saying another thing – verbally to a common friend.

It first surprised me and shocked me.  If you don’t like my work, say it out openly.  Please do … it is easy and honest.

Then I thought it over and realized a few things.

1. I need to thank the person … spoken words are impermanent.  The written will endure.  Thanks mate!

2. I have arrived!  I inspire hate and envy.  Oh boy, I am a diva!.

3. I have enemies.  How cool is that?

Thank you

This quote needs a repeat …

“You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.”  

The Social Network

My Victory Dance

Well I tried, and I tried and tried to be a saint, to not dance a victory dance over the ashes of painful memories

Naah Forget It!

This is my victory dance, and I am dancing it.

And if I step on toes, break a few bones, draw some blood, it does not matter. I have to have my dance.

I HAVE SURVIVED

To the person who told me that my sons would grow up to be losers, since they did not have a Dad –

You misjudged me and you misjudged my boys. I never said that your kids would not amount to much – but they have NOT! Why? They had a mom and dad! They should have been like Sachin Tendulkar or Shah Rukh Khan, since they did not have a broken home.

I did not tell you to STFU then, but you made me cry. You made me sit up nights staring at the boyish figures asleep in bed and wonder if what you said was right. To be afraid that may be what you said would come true.

Humph!

To the person who said “Ek din muh chupa kar royegi, koi aansu ponchne wala bhi nahin hoga” just because I listened to the boys and believed in their dreams instead of being negative about them. I am laughing, I am smiling, I am living with them in their dreams. And of the dreams that did not succeed – well we lived them too. I have not hidden my face and wept, I have never needed to.

Any crying and full on drama that happens at the Phoenix House happens openly. Oh we have wars – but no heartaches. Even at the peak of temper we know we love each other and belong to the same family.

To the person who thought I give my sons too much bhav and they would grow up spoilt and pampered. That these boys I adore would use me and throw me. Hey they are my sons, and they love me as much as I love them, so fuck you.

And to the various suitors/prospective husbands who thought, rather expected that I should

a) Give them my complete salary
b) Bring up their kids
c) Send my boys to hostels because their kids came first
d) Look after their parents and leave mine

All for the dubious advantage of having a husband – what for, I don’t know

Look me in the face and answer the question

Did you really think I was dumb?

And

Who’s the WO – MAN eh?

This victory dance is because now both my sons have graduated, got good degrees and have reached adulthood without being delinquents, commitment phobic men, drug addicts or alcoholics INSPITE OF ALL THE FUCKINGLY CREEPY PREDICTIONS MY SO CALLED FRIENDS AND WELL WISHERS DISHED OUT

What not to do when you travel

There should be a travel primer, hard bound with instructions, you know, something like the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy.  I would carry it, and even pack in the towel.

Even without that we managed pretty well apart from a couple of things … may be more, but who’s counting eh?

1. I don’t own a credit card.  There I said it!  I refuse to own a credit card because when I did, I maxed it and spent a couple of years paying the dratted thing off, with a humongous amount of interest.  I don’t like paying for bankers’ perks, (they already have a great salary package) so I don’t keep a credit card.

2. I overshopped – no surprises there.  Have money, will spend being my motto, that is completely unsurprising.

3. The banks went on strike – and I had just a couple of grands in my purse.

… EEEKS …

4. Tried to be enterprising and even agreed to sell my next book short to get some money – but that plan fell through.

5. Banks started working one evening and I withdrew as much as I could.  Collective sighs of relief from Kid#2 and me.

6. Just when I thought I could point my wand at the Travellers’ Map and say ” Travel Managed” we missed our train back.  On our last day in Bangalore it rained.  It bloody rained!  Our hotel was 4 kilometers from Majestic Railway Station and we could not get there in 1.5 hours.  How idiotic is that?  The Rajdhani is never late, people, and I can vouch for it.  I reached the station ten minutes late and it was gone.

7. Sat on the platform and hyperventilated.

8. Got to know of another train to Delhi from a station an hour’s drive away. Lugged suitcases and got a cab – drove to the other railway station.  Sat in cab while Kid#2 talked with coolies and black market guys.  He came back and said “I won’t let you travel 3rd Class A/c Sleeper.”  Even though I protested, I am Aunt Scrooge of the house, I would protest, but he was adamant.

9. Rang up nephew who lives and works in Bangalore.  He was thrilled.  He had a barbecue party going on and he said, “Great news!  Lets party!” :O

So we partied … after I cashed in my debit card on air tickets the next day.

10. The next day both of us got to the airport 4 hours before the flight … see we can learn lessons, when they are pounded into us.

 

To everyone who expressed surprise at the fact that it did not rain during our vacation …. It did … on our last day of vacation

AND HOW!!!!!!!

 

 

Strength

“I am strong, see my muskels” my first born loved to flex his puny biceps and strut around.  He actually looked like a skinny starving waif.  Wrap a tattered dhoti around his midriff and hand him a begging bowl and voila! You would have a poster boy for UN’s third world starving country propoganda posters …

Any mother who has reared sons knows the fascination they have for flaunting their muskels, never mind if it is a puny bicep they are flexing.  In their minds they are G.I. Joes, He Men or even Arnold Schwarzeneger.  Mine thought he was all of them and more.  Yo Joe!

I would dutifully admire them muskels and tell him MY BABY STRONGEST

He needed to hear that, I needed to tell him that convincingly.  That is what strength meant  to us.  I was the mother, he was the son, the alpha male and second born was the baby.  In some ways it is still the same.  We were a unit, our strength was our love for each other, and complete loyalty.  It still is.

What is strength?  I don’t think it is those biceps and the six pack abs.  But show me them muskels and I will drool over them.  I am human ..

Strength is those battle scars we bear, the testimony that we have gone through hell, survived and are ready to fight again.  Those scars may be physical, out in the open for others to see, they may be hidden,buried deep inside, coloring all that we see, think or experience, affecting us emotionally, mentally and psychologically.

Or they may be stretch marks from our pregnancies, the knee that got skinned from a fall in the playground … We endured it, it healed perhaps incompletely leaving a mark.

But we survived, and went on to laugh, play, love and live again, did we not?

The point I am making here is that we all are survivors in this battle called life.  We have gone through pain, walked on hot coals and bear testimony of the ordeal.  We have strength.

So dear reader please let us admire each other, we have been through a lot.

“I am strong, see my muskels”

Our self created demons

 Warning : Lecture Alert

 

My family keeps telling me to STFU and not state controversial stuff, but being the kind of person I am, I cant sit on the fence and let things go past me.  I have to take sides.  I have to get into the arena and join the fight.  Its true you know, one grows older and gets more adept at public behavior but the person inside still stays on.

Our biggest self created demon is LOG.  We as a nation believe in collectivism.  Hence what the society says, what relatives say, what neighbours say becomes a huge deal to us.  I was a people pleaser at one time, but when I went through a grim phase in my life when putting food on the table for my children was a huge deal, I realized that public opinion would not fill our stomachs.  Hence now I care a flying f… about what people say.  In fact if they dont like me, it does not affect me at all.

Another huge self created demon is SYSTEM.  I find people blaming just about anything and everything on the system.  I have a huge problem with this since the system is US.  We make the system and we have the power to abide by it, making it stronger, or weakening it by not kowtowing to its demands.

There is yet another malaise that infects us.  We hate successful people and will readily believe the worst of them.  May be their success scares us or embitters us.  It makes us resentful and leaves us with no excuse to slack off and not succeed ourselves.  Celebrity bashing is just an overt manifestation of this malaise.  Deep down we would be happy to believe that the success came through unfair means, so as to justify our own ordinariness.

We are the LOG (people), we make the SYSTEM and we have it in our ownselves to be great and succesful, so why this negativity, this cynicism, this blame game?

Uff enough said.

Jumping off the podium ….

Pride or Self Respect?

This is a question that often comes to my mind ..

 

The day I entered my marital home, there was much excitement (naturally) and my mother in law was busy giving vadhai (gratitude) to all the helpers and sundry workers.  It is customary to give some cash and mithai to people like gardener, domestic helper and so on when something as momentous as your son getting married and a new bride entering the home.

Well, there was this young boy who supplied milk to us from the near by village.  Ma in law gave him some money, and a box of sweets.  He blushed red, got confused, but then accepted it when my ma in law told him that she was as old as his mother and he had to accept in good grace.

The next day his mother came with him, and demanded to see the bride.  I was called into the living room.  She blessed me and handed me an equal amount of currency as gift.  Confused I touched her feet – I am after all a well brought up girl and touching elderly feet is no big deal!

After they left, I felt impressed by the boy’s khuddari and I said so.

But my elders thought it was unbecoming pride …

I still wonder

Decline

There once was a princess.  She was rather pampered by her family, never allowed to take any decisions, or shoulder responsibilities.  Her father always said, “Oh she is a princess.  She will rule.”

Since she was gorgeous, when she grew up, she had many suitors.  But the pampered princess could not make a decision.

Sadly for her, her father died.  Her brothers found her a pain and consulted their prime minister on where to marry her off.

She was married off into a kingdom far away

She hated her new home.  They believed in simple living and high thinking.  There were no pretty things to wear, silken sheets or attendants and servants to attend to all her needs.  On the top of that, her husband was not impressed by her beauty.  He found her a pampered silly immature little girl.

But the princess was hurt by his indifference.  While flatterers and yes men would not have won her heart, his indifference stung her and perversely made her fall in love with him.

Desperate to win his approval, she sought advise from certain courtiers who had accompanied her to her marital home.

Some told her to smile and fawn on him…..

Others told her to show indifference …

Yet another told her to fight with him  ….

Or cry ….

Or go back to her maternal home in the hope that he would miss her

But one said,

My lady, you have to understand your man.

This kingdom is not near the river, it is not in the hills.  The terrain is rough, and fierce tribes live here.  Survival can only happen if every one works.  So it takes team work to live in this kingdom.

Many civilizations have come and gone in the river kingdom of your father.  You know why?

Because 50% of the populace thinks that they do not need to work, they can live off the people who work – just because they are royal or noble.  Or because their fathers or grandfathers did something really great.

So the other 50% start resenting this.  They start feeling that they should not work, because worthless lazy bums will benefit from their work.

And the kingdom goes into decline.

Your husband wants to see you making an effort, he wants to see you behave responsibly.

…..