Friday, October 6, 2017

An avalanche of apples!

Tut tut, click click, tut tut tut, click, click, click...

That was me typing furiously all this week looking up recipes involving apples.  After making a few pitchers of fresh apple juice, a pot of apple rasam and a bottle of spicy apple pickle, I ran out of ideas but sadly, not apples.  

Around this time every year, most Indian homes experience an avalanche of fruits.  It’s Navarathri season which roughly translates to fun, comradery and an unholy amount of fruits for most people. It is the season when Indian women systematically empty the local stores of all produce and buy fruits by the truckloads.  Interestingly, they will not eat a single fruit from that purchase. Say, a woman buys 100 apples.  She will distribute all of it to her friends who visit her golu giving the illusion of an empty fruit basket. 

Forgive me for this quick detour.  I have only recently started to appreciate how math is interwoven in our everyday lives so here is a brain-teaser for you. If I bought 100 fruits and distributed 2 fruits per person, how many friends visited my golu?  It is such a rush of power to know I can make my own word problems. 😊

Getting back to the fruit distribution conundrum, now that the woman had given away all her fruits, where do you think she was headed next?  To her friends’ homes, naturally.  It was her turn to receive fruits now so she would patiently haul her collection bag, visit every golu house in town and get her share.  Odd? Yes, but also totally fair.  

This is my story every Navarathri season too.  At the end of Saraswathi pooja last week, I was back to being in possession of over 100 fruits.  If you think, this is the sum of all my problems (oh wow Meena) you have never been a performing arts teacher on Vijayadasami day.  

I love Vijayadasami.  It is the one day when my students lose the strained, constipated smiles and seem genuinely happy to see me.  I get warm smiles and cozy hugs generously that day.  To me, it is the best gift ever but the parents of my students are not so easily impressed.  They are convinced that nothing short of multiple bags of apples, oranges, bananas, pears and clementine will convey their love effectively to me.  While I truly appreciate the sentiment, I do wish they will take pity on me and throttle back their love just a bit. 

When my doctor advised me to include fiber in my diet last year, I don’t think she meant this much. Any more fiber and I will have the shiniest colon this side of the States.  

Last night, I dreamed that I was being held hostage by a giant red apple who was holding a banana to my head. An orange was shoving a clementine down my throat.  I was so glad to wake up from the nightmare right at that moment.  It was scary stuff.  

After consuming apples in all possible forms for a few days, I did what any teacher worth her salt would do.  I threatened my students with extra homework unless they each took a bag of fruits home.  A little harsh may be but hey, it worked.  The mountain has now shriveled down to a manageable mound.  Hallelujah! 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Age is but a number!

It was a festive evening.  About 20 of us were gathered in a friend’s place to welcome the New Year together.  As is the norm, we surrounded ourselves with enormous amounts of food and beverages though I am not clear why since everyone but the Sankaran clan ate like a bird.  After the customary greeting at the host’s door involving air hugs and Colgate-worthy smiles, we all settled down for an evening of robust conversation.  It is an unwritten rule that once we cross the foyer, we go our separate ways – the macho men to the formal living room and the little women to the cozy family room.

There were new saree fashions on display in the room that evening which obviously required prompt admiration and in-depth analysis.  Boutique names were exchanged as well as new tailoring techniques in stitching blouses.  A few years ago, a ‘window’ in the back of the blouse was all the rage.  Bold women wore big, airy, wide-grilled window styles while the modest sported tiny windows at the top.  The ones with the tiny windows were never aerated enough but that is the price one pays for modesty, I suppose.  This year, it seemed ‘door in the back’ is the style to die for.  I am completely in awe of this new style.  It’s like magic.  In the front, you can see the blouse but go around, it disappears completely.  Exquisite fabrics basically held together by a couple of strands loosely tied with beautiful beads at the end.  One lusty sigh and it might all unravel like a badly kept secret. 

My experiences with tailors in India have not been good so far.  Every time I go on vacation, they seem to want more cloth than before and then give me a small handkerchief-like blouse in return.  It is like we speak in different languages.  Last visit, I stood before my new tailor and used my skill in playing charades to sign to her that I wanted a blouse that would cover all  the front and at least some of the back and the sides.  It was non-negotiable.  I put my foot down firmly and told her that I was NOT interested in doing any glamour scenes on the big screen and insisted that she used all the cloth that I bought.  From the look of the blouses she delivered, it seems my charades skill could use some work.   

As the evening stretched on, we realized that many of us were dog owners.  Nothing brings people close together than babies or dogs.  As most of us were out of the baby circuit, we bonded big time over our four-legged babies that night.  We went around the room and listened to each ‘mom’ proudly talk about her dog’s smart adventures.  Cute furry pictures were exchanged, tales of housetraining successes were shouted out.  We awwwed and ooohhhhed over each tale making every mom brim with pride.  

Alas, in all this drama, we neglected to notice one woman in the room feeling lost.  ‘I have a fish’ she blurted out suddenly.  Conversation stopped for a minute as all confused eyes turned to her.  She cleared her voice and said it again - ‘I have a fish’.  It took a minute for us to see that we were excluding her in the conversation and being the only woman there who owned a couple of dogs and a fish, I jumped in to set the score right.  She and her fish had the floor the next few minutes.  With slacked jaws, we listened to her concern that her fish might be constipated.  We tsk, tsked and offered to google for some solutions to her fish’s problem.  She basked in the attention and apologized for not having a picture of her fish to show us.  We wrapped up the ‘show and tell’ part of the evening with her promise that she will whatsapp the picture to us the very next day. 

Age is but a number.  4 or 40, we can still feel hurt when excluded.  We are happiest when we feel part of a whole and be included in a peer group.  There is so much love and friendship in our hearts that it is not hard to make room for one more, is it?

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Unprovoked confessions!

For a January 1st blog, this is not about my New Year resolution.  I am loyal to my one and only resolution ever - the elusive weight loss.  It is the one constant thing in my life that is overrun with changes.  So once again, I dusted my old resolution last week, went and enrolled in a nearby fitness center.  The front desk person recognized me from last Christmas and gave a warm smile making me feel at home. 

Okay, now moving on to something completely random.

I don’t know what is it about a kind face and a white piece of thread hovering over my eyebrows that makes my mouth flap non-stop in a verbal diarrhea.  The minute I lie on my beautician’s table, it is confession time at a catholic church.  At her simple ‘How are you Meena?’, the floodgates of my heart and soul open wide and dump on her truckloads of very personal and awkward information.  Poor woman!

Just last week, amid cans of wax and cotton strips, I found myself sharing my mother’s first cousin’s health problems with her.  When I told her in detail about the cousin’s recurring fungal toenail, there was such empathy and anguish in my beautician’s eyes.  If I didn’t know better, I would think that she knew my mom’s cousin personally. 

Next time I go to my physician’s office, I should remember to add her to the approved people on file to share my health information.  If you are wondering why, it is because short of letting her take my vitals, I update her thoroughly on my health status every visit.  I remember drawing an anatomy of a leg on a piece of paper one time to explain to her exactly where my leg pain was.  She didn’t mind that the drawing bore little resemblance to my real leg and looked more like a skinny sugarcane.  What was important was that she knew exactly where my pain was.

It is not just my health that I talk to her about.  We both have aging parents and that has strengthened our bond like gorilla glue.  From buying adult diapers to Bengay, we cover many colorful topics in that short window. 

I am not a secretive person by nature.  Holding on to secrets is practically impossible for me because my brain is not equipped to hold large amounts of data for long periods of time.  Having said that, I have surprised myself many times on my beautician’s table by talking about things that I didn’t know were stored in my brain.  For her every cheerful ‘so what’s new Meena?’, something very old will surface from my subconscious and fall right into her very patient ears.   

She must meet about 40 to 50 women in a day’s work.  Imagine the amount of useless information that gets dumped on her every day.  Wow!  If I were her, I will probably hand out ‘self-adhesive plasters’ for the mouth before admitting any clients in.  She is bigger than me, I must admit, though only in a figure of speech.

If you have never shaped your eyebrows, I want to assure you that it can be a very cathartic experience.  After a short session on her table, I walk out feeling cleansed in more ways than one.  Not sold yet?  Here is a better reason.  It is the most economical way to get a psych consultation and/or a counselling session.  J

If you have read through the above post, obviously, you are either a friend or family.  Who else will put up with my foolishness? I look forward to riding the next fun roller coaster year with all of you.  May you all have many opportunities to LOL and ROFTL in 2017.  Happy New Year everyone!

Here is wishing for another year filled with many things fun, ridiculous and foolish.