Unconditional Love

Dearest Bubboo,

You are growing up so, so, so fast, I can’t keep pace with you, with all the new things that you are learning and doing every day. :) I can’t believe you are going to be ONE next month!! Where exactly did the time fly?

Of late, you have learnt to crawl to me, wherever I am in the house, put your arms around my feet so that I am rooted to the spot and can’t move. Then, you look up at me with puppy-dog eyes or a goofy grin, as if to say ‘Lift me up, please na, Momma?’ How do I resist so much of sheer cuteness? I don’t, at least nine out of 10 times. I pick you up, hug you tight, and play with you till you are sated, and then move on to my chores.

The cuteness continues even after I lift you up. Then, you go to no one else. You want Momma all to yourself. Any attempt to extricate you from my arms is met with a turning away of the face, putting your arms around my neck, and patting me on the chest. The message is clear – ‘I will be here, nowhere else. I want to be with Momma now’.

You are not really a clingy baby. You love playing with your Appa and your grandparents for hours together. But then, there are times when you want me to be around. There are times when you just want to be cuddled by me, just like that. The way you communicate that makes me feel on top of the world, as if I am the princess of a very rich kingdom. You make me feel that way.

Sometimes, I am so busy trying to be my own person and being a mother to you that I end up looking like something even the cat wouldn’t drag in. Hair all out of place, eyebrows not done, face unwashed, and so on and so forth. You still have that special smile of yours for me. If that cannot make me feel special, what else will? You teach me to look beyond the exterior of a person, to what he/she really means to you.

I am so glad you are mine. I am grateful for this chance to mother you. I adore you for the unconditional love you shower on me.

May there be a lot more cuddles and hugs, in the times to come.

Loads of love,


Chocolate Paan, From Mysore With Love

There’s this little grocery store in Mysore that sells ‘Chocolate Paan‘. That is what the shop calls it, at least. This is not the ordinary meetha-paan-with-chocolate-syrup-wrapped-in-a-betel-leaf that any paan centre anywhere can make for you. This is a proper chocolate – white chocolate, to be precise – filled with all the intricate flavours of a meetha paan. The white chocolate exterior is delicately sweetened, considering the sweetness of the meetha paan inside. To make it even more clear, the white chocolate shell contains a stuffing made of ground meetha paan.

Put it in your mouth and bite into it, and your taste buds will be assaulted, in the most wonderful kind of way. Unlike most ‘unique’ products that have only a ‘novelty value’ and fizzle out in terms of taste, this chocolate paan is mouthwateringly delicious. It is difficult to resist temptation and eat just one! Good that they are so reasonably priced, then, right? Just Rs. 15 per piece.

How do I know all this? Thanks to this Facebook page.

I had been intrigued by the chocolate paan ever since I read about it on Hottebaaka, a few months ago, especially because the post praised it to the high heavens. Since there was no one travelling between Bangalore and Mysore, sampling this delicacy remained a dream. Till last night.

As if the Universe conspired that I should have the chocolate paan after dinner last night, the OH got a sudden work-emergency call on Thursday, requiring him to book his tickets and leave for Mysore immediately. He remembered this little chocolate-ey dream of mine, looked up the place, and got a few home for me. Need I tell you that they tasted extra sweet to me? ;)

DSC06131Thank you, OH. :D May there be the mutual fulfillment of many such little dreams of ours, in the times to come!

For those of you who are interested, the shop that sells this is Badri Maruthi Stores, in Shivrampet, Mysore. The Facebook page says the paan costs Rs. 8 a piece, but we were charged Rs. 15 for the same. They come packed in little plastic wrappers, tied up neatly like a goodie bag, and are super easy to carry for friends and relatives. Ideal for gifting too, I would say!

You like the idea?

Of little sweet gestures, and of love

So, the OH has been away working in Delhi again, and I have been feeling like an army man’s wife all over again.

Recently, the OH sent over some toys he had picked up for Bubboo in Delhi with a friend who was travelling to Bangalore. ‘He will come home and give you a bag,’ the OH told me. ‘There are some toys for the princess, and there is a little something in there for you too,’ he said. ‘For me? What?,’ I asked curiously. ‘Just go through the things in the bag. You will know what I have sent for you,’ he said. And so, I waited, with bated breath, for the friend (and the bag!) to arrive home.

When they did arrive, I found what had been sent for me – a pretty pink toy rose with a pink handle. It is a battery-operated thing, with a tiny bulb hidden inside the rose, glowing when you turn a switch on. The rose is beautifully made, with what looks like minute pink plastic pebbles.

I am touched by the gesture. Immensely. I know the OH has a busy life in Delhi. The fact that he chose to shop for toys on a weekend when he was free means a lot to me. And it means even more that he thought of me while doing so, and sent over something to show that he cares.

The rose sits on my computer table as I work, now. It is a sweet reminder to not feel very low whenever I am lonely.

The Great Bubboo Lick

These days, whoever and whatever comes near Bubboo is rewarded with many wet little licks from her. Bedsheets, pillows, nappies, toys, her hands, the OH’s and my hands, dresses, wiping cloths – nothing is spared.

The OH and I take our cheeks to her mouth, and she gladly obliges. We come away happy, with big wet patches on our cheeks.

They are precious to us, these wet patches. They will do for kisses, for now. :-)

Of Blah-ness, An Anniversary, A Birthday, Books, And Bubboo

Life has been quite blah for some time now. There hasn’t been anything exciting happening, except for Bubboo’s smiles and chatter. I am not complaining – I love being Bubboo’s mother – but sometimes it feels as if my days are revolving only around the changing of nappies and dresses and wiping up spit and changing diapers. I try to go for a 20-minute walk once a day, but on some days, even that is not possible. I try to whip up quick meals in the kitchen whenever I can. Any other free time is spent in reading or taking a long shower. Everything seems very blah, though. I am busy, yet not busy. I don’t really seem to have anything to do. It feels as if it has been ages since I went out leisurely with the OH, ate out, explored the city, or just talked to him without time constraints. The fact that the OH has been super busy at work hasn’t helped one bit.

To top it, Bubboo has been sick. She is recovering from a bad cold and cough, and has been extremely cranky. Children’s illnesses take a toll on their parents, especially when they are too young to articulate their aches and pains, and this illness has taken its toll on us, too. I seem to have caught the bug as well, and a sore throat and running nose have made me feel even blah-er lately.

Our anniversary came and went in January. The OH was flying to Delhi the very same day, and we didn’t get the opportunity to do anything special. The same was the case with my birthday last week. Plans for a relaxed lunch or dinner outside didn’t work out, and the day just went by routinely.

The last weekend saw me splurging on some books, mostly new authors, some interesting titles that piqued my curiosity. I ended up buying a few pre-loved books on a lark, without reading any sort of reviews about them. Then, the OH’s late anniversary-cum-birthday gift arrived, as a surprise – another lot of books from my TBR list – which I had been hunting for since forever. He knew the names and had asked his cousin in the US of A to get them for me. She landed in India over the weekend, and I was surprised to be handed a bag full of books!

In the midst of all the blah-ness, such little things have been the bright spots in life, for sure.

I now have a whole lot of interesting-looking stuff to look forward to reading.

Here’s hoping these lovelies help me ward off the feeling of blah-ness soon…

Am I mom enough?

This is so eerily similar to what I want for Bubboo, I had to post it here. It is as if the author took a peek into my brain before she wrote this. Beautifully put.


It’s so tempting to get riled up by the Mommy Wars, isn’t it? The Time magazine cover story about extreme parenting, Are You Mom Enough?, featuring a beautiful mother in skinny jeans nursing her preschool-aged son, is infamous by now. It made me, along with the rest of the Internet, explode with righteous indignation. Mom enough? How dare they! This isn’t a contest! But, wait … what if it is? And I don’t even own skinny jeans!

The story also made me think about what I wanted to teach Andrew—I mean really teach him. I’m not talking about the trendy must-dos that crop up each year about feeding and sleeping and discipline, insecurity porn concocted just in time to fill a fresh generation of parents with self-doubt. No, I’m talking about the things that I want to impart in average, totally inextreme moments, when my breasts are covered and my skinny jeans are in the wash.

Here’s my wish list.

I hope I raise a child who says “thank you” to the bus driver when he gets off the bus, “please” to the waiter taking his order at the restaurant, and holds the elevator doors when someone’s rushing to get in.

I hope I raise a child who loses graciously and wins without bragging. I hope he learns that disappointments are fleeting and so are triumphs, and if he comes home at night to people who love him, neither one matter. Nobody is keeping score, except sometimes on Facebook.

I hope I raise a child who is kind to old people.

I hope I raise a child who realizes that life is unfair: Some people are born rich or gorgeous. Some people really are handed things that they don’t deserve. Some people luck into jobs or wealth that they don’t earn. Tough.

I hope I raise a child who gets what he wants just often enough to keep him optimistic but not enough to make him spoiled.

I hope I raise a child who knows that he’s loved and special but that he’s not the center of the universe and never, ever will be.

I hope I raise a child who will stick up for a kid who’s being bullied on the playground. I also hope I raise a child who, if he’s the one being bullied, fights back. Hard. Oh, and if he’s the bully? I hope he realizes that his mother, who once wore brown plastic glasses and read the phonebook on the school bus, will cause him more pain than a bully ever could.

I hope I raise a child who relishes life’s tiny pleasures—whether it’s a piece of music, or the color of a gorgeous flower, or Chinese takeout on a rainy Sunday night.

I hope I raise a child who is open-minded and curious about the world without being reckless.

I hope I raise a child who doesn’t need to affirm his self-worth through bigotry, snobbery, materialism, or violence.

I hope I raise a child who likes to read.

I hope I raise a child who is courageous when sick and grateful when healthy.

I hope I raise a child who begins and ends all relationships straightforwardly and honorably.

I hope I raise a child who can spot superficiality and artifice from a mile away and spends his time with people and things that feel authentic to him.

I hope I raise a child who makes quality friends and keeps them.

I hope I raise a child who realizes that his parents are flawed but loves them anyway.

And I hope that if my child turns out to be a colossal screw-up, I take it in stride. I hope I remember that he’s his own person, and there’s only so much I can do. He is not an appendage to be dangled from my breasts on the cover of a magazine, his success is not my ego’s accessory, and I am not Super Mom.

I hope for all of these things, but I know this: None of these wishes has a thing to do with how I feed him or sleep-train him or god-knows-what-else him. Which is how I know that these fabricated “wars” are phony every step of the way. I do not need the expensive stroller. I do not need to go into mourning if my “sleep-training method” is actually a “prayer ritual” that involves tiptoeing around the house in the dark. This is not a test. It’s a game called Extreme Parenting, and you can’t lose if you don’t play. And, really, why would you play? You have children to raise.

Life, Many Years Later

Sometimes, you come across words or pictures that resonate with something deep inside you, that touch a chord in you. You recognise an instant bonding with the picture or words in question. You feel like something vague that had been within you has been given a physical form by someone else. That is exactly what happened when I found a certain photograph on one of the number of photography pages I ‘like’ on Facebook.

This picture captures exactly what I think about old age and marriage. It encapsulates exactly what I want my marriage and old age to be like. It is such a beautiful moment, etched on film in such a candid manner, a moment that I want to live, at a later stage in my life.

 Photograph reproduced with permission of the owner

I want to be the old lady in the picture, sitting at her front door, with her old man, talking away to glory. I want us to be lost in a world of our own, oblivious to the goings-on around us. I want us to have loads of stories to share, lots of things to talk about – after all, we would have grown old together. I want us to still be the best of friends, who can talk to each other about anything and everything. I want us to not care about our humble abode or clothes, for us to find comfort in each other. I want us to be still eager to spend time with each other. Physical ailments or worries, I want us to be able to set them all aside while we are together, and just live in those moments. I want us to be able to put our feet up at least for a short while each day, and just lose ourselves. I want us to recognise the preciousness of such moments, still. I want us not to be defeated by the challenges that life will, inevitably, throw us, but to be strengthened by them.


Title courtesy: This post, which I was instantly reminded of on seeing this picture.

Of memories and coffee mugs

On a balmy evening in January 2010, a few days before our first wedding anniversary, the OH and I set out mobile phone shopping. He wanted to buy a new cellphone for me as an anniversary present. I had been using an ancient one before that, which had started going bonkers. We chose a slide model, in spite of being advised against it by friends, as I was in love with the sleek and elegant image that it presented. It was not fancy – just a basic slide model with a camera and a good sound system, for music. We had fun making the choice, and both of us jumped upon this particular model almost at once. Before we walked out of the store, though, we wanted to test the phone camera one more time, and the assistant said she would take a picture.

Right at the billing counter, without any posing or preparation, a photograph of the OH and me was taken – his hand on the back of my chair, grinning, and leaning towards me, while I was smiling at the camera shyly. We had just become good friends from the new-husband-and-wife that we had been before that, and I think that shows in the expressions playing on both our faces. I made that picture my profile display pic on Facebook for quite a while after that, and that says a lot because I am not really the often-uploading-personal-pictures-on-Facebook type. It was one of the very few pictures that I had put up after my wedding, and it received a lot of love from friends and relatives.

Till date, that picture remains a favourite for both of us. The OH says I look like a cute wife in it, utterly besotted with her husband. I love the way he seems to be sweetly protective of his wife, in the picture. We are dressed in outfits that we love on each other, too – him in a jeans and tee, and me in jeans, white top with pink Kashmiri embroidery, and a pink stole that I picked up while honeymooning in Thailand. Till date, it is one picture that never fails to bring a smile on my face, whenever I look at it. It is special, maybe not appearance-wise, but for the both of us, moment-wise. Isn’t that how most memories are made? Effortlessly, without pretense, without preparations, without posing, just a direct-dil-se moment?

Well, the phone has since conked off, in spite of my attempts to salvage it a couple of times by coughing up huge sums of money, which would total up almost to the cost of the phone. That was something my ex-colleagues didn’t understand when I told them about it, but I couldn’t help. Anyways. The phone is gone now, but the special picture still remains special.

So, when, for the OH’s last birthday, after much contemplation, I decided to order a customized magic coffee mug online, it was this picture that I wanted on it. It would be this picture, and a birthday message, that would appear (magically) on an otherwise blue mug when hot coffee would be poured into it. We are not the very mushy sort of people, especially when it comes to gifts, but this one time, I decided to make an exception.

The mug arrived after a lot of glitches, but it did arrive. I almost gave the surprise away to the OH, but I didn’t entirely. He loved the mug. He has been using it for tea, coffee and milk, day and night, and watching, fascinated, as the picture appears on it. I have loved watching the little-boy-lost expression on his face as he does so.

And a few more beautifully sweet memories have been made.

On discovering the joys of Skype

It has been over a week since the OH left on an official tour to Delhi. Yes, again! The Delhi office of his firm is extremely short-staffed at the moment, and the OH is having to face the brunt, knowing the ins and outs of the transactions going on there thoroughly. The Delhi weather has been, infamously, bad and this trying period has taken a toll on the OH. Indirectly, it has taken a toll on me, too. The last month or so hasn’t been easy on me, with the OH only popping in home for a day or two before rushing off to Delhi again. Amma has been staying over at my place and, while that has helped, it hasn’t stopped me from feeling an ache in my heart at missing the OH.

‘I feel like an army man’s wife these days,’ I keep telling the OH. I have been unable to share the little things of my life with him, the way I used to. I have been unable to pull him to the balcony after his return from work, and ask him to just stay put with me in the refreshingly cool breeze. I have been unable to surprise him with a tub full of hot water, with salt added to it, for his feet after a tiring day at work. I miss pestering him to rub my feet on a cold morning. I miss the little treats – sometimes a strand of jasmine, sometimes a chocolate, sometimes a packet of bajjis – that he used to bring home for me every now and then. I miss having him to comment on a dish that I have made, which he would do in the most diplomatic of ways.

We used to talk on the phone whenever he found the time, or whenever we simply needed to hear each other, till last weekend. It took a friend’s innocent question – ‘Do you guys Skype when he is on tour?’ – to realise that we have never done that! I don’t know why we never really got into it, in spite of Skype being installed on both our phones! Last Saturday, we decided to try out Skype – the saviour of long-distance relationships, as we have heard many of our friends put it. And, it turned out to be a wonderful, wonderful experience.

Like kids over-excited at finding something new, the OH and I explored Skype conversations throughout the day. And the next day, too. Then, once a day, at dinner time usually, after that. He took me on a walking tour of his guesthouse in Delhi, and showed him the inside of the refrigerator there, which was pathetically empty. I made my afternoon cup of masala chai with him online once, and shared it with him virtually. He showed me the children in his guesthouse surroundings playing football in the rain on the weekend, thoroughly enjoying a rare shower in the city, a respite from the heat. I showed him how the skies in Bangalore, too, were darkening and the clouds were getting ready to pour. He showed me the kadhi chawal he had for lunch one day, and I showed him the saree I was planning to wear to a poonal ceremony in our family the next day. He made me carry my phone to the balcony, so that he could see the plants in our little home garden. He was overjoyed to see the basil he had replanted, before he left, blossoming. I was intrigued to see the sticks of meswak that he had picked up, out of curiosity, on one of his bored-weekend-street-walks in Delhi. He asked for my opinion about the bed sheet that he bought there, and I asked for his, on an amateur pencil sketch of mine. He commented that I had put on weight while he has been away, and I said that he looked darker but fresher without my constant badgering.

Since that day, Skype has become a part of our daily lives, and it has brought some much-needed cheer to both of us. We have sung songs for each other, poked fun at Amma sleeping with her blanket drawn over her face, shown each other our miss-you and happy-to-talk-to-you expressions, and what we have been having for dinner. It hasn’t been able to recreate the warmth of the OH’s hug or his smile, but it has come quite close. The past few days of Skype conversations have been reminiscent of our long-distance courtship days, if they could be called that at all, when he was in Bangalore and I was in Ahmedabad. It has been like falling in love with each other, all over again.

Thank you, Skype. You have changed a pair of stressed-out married adults into gushing teenagers, if only for a brief while every day.

Of the OH, considerate men, and bearing babies

One fine day, after observing a pregnant woman with her daily aches and pains and worries, the OH tells me: ‘You know what? God should give both parents a fair share in the process of childbirthing, no?’

‘How exactly do you mean?,’ I ask him.

‘I mean – when the woman is tired of carrying the baby, she should just tell her husband. God should have designed partners in such a way that a couple can hug and the baby can shift from the woman’s tummy to the man’s. Then, the man can bear the child till he gets tired. He can then shift it back to the woman’s belly,’ the OH replies.

I am too caught up in imagining this scenario to say anything.

‘After all, a husband and wife are supposed to be equal partners in everything in their life, no? Why not in this, too?,’ he asks.

I nod mutely.

Why doesn’t God give such considerate men a chance at bearing children? ;)