person standing using red umbrella

Ramblings on a rainy day

It has been raining incessantly since last night. Can’t help but write these brilliant lines by Robert Frost

“The rain to the wind said,
You push and I’ll pelt.’
They so smote the garden bed
That the flowers actually knelt,
And lay lodged–though not dead.
I know how the flowers felt.”

Sitting in a high rise, sipping on a cup of hot coffee, one can only romanticize the idea of raindrops falling on pretty flowers in the balcony. The reality is harsher. I look down on the “Kachcha” (mud) houses behind our complex and they are totally submerged under water. How do they see this rain. Surely not the same as me. Such is life.

Achcha Bachcha

Much has been written about Sushant Singh Rajput’s unfortunate death. Every day a new sensational piece of information is added to the already confounding situation. Each day a revelation and yet inconclusive. Everyone is just speculating.

My heart goes out to his family. Neither they were quite informed about his life when he was alive, nor do they have any clue about his death. There was a tweet where someone said that he was burdened with being a son of a toxic Bihari family. While I strongly oppose the tweet, there is a contestable point for why I wanted to write my pov about it.

While the kids are provided with all kinds of luxuries, the comfort of expressing themselves freely is rarely extended. Kids are taught to be accepting in nature and questioning is hardly entertained. We have always been told to not to talk back to elders. Not even when one has a valid point. The term ‘healthy debate’ is practically non existent. The kids who follow this are labeled as ‘Achha Baccha’ and as a result poor kid tries to manage this label whole life. They continue on the ‘please everyone’ phase in their adult life as well. The frustration builds up in that person as he/she tries to live upto his/her image. I know so many people who are extremely well behaved with everyone but are super angry person in the closet.

There is nothing wise in celebrating parental autocracy. Look at our movies, they reinforce similar ideas. Please read this famous dialogue of the blockbuster Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham…”Mata pita ki aagya ka palan karna hamara dharm hai“. I am sorry if this is right than we will raise robots only and not a human being. The boy who was told to be “good” and study hard for engineering might never give himself the option of ever pursuing a career in arts. The little girl who was taught never to question, could end up in an abusive marriage and not have the courage to speak up or argue because all through her childhood she was made to believe that good girls keep people around them happy. If we need women to break out of the exhausting idea of selflessness, then pressuring them to “be a good girl” is exactly the sort of thing that needs to stop.

The onus is on us parents and guardians to go beyond focusing on their milestones of growth and development. We should ideally raise them to be as emotionally capable as intelligent, if not more. Allow your kids the opportunity and luxury of an argument; let them challenge a perspective before you diss them for not being a ‘achcha bachcha’. I sincerely feel that communication is the key to any successful relationship; be it with your parents, kids or partner. And NO, “aaj kya khaya”, “kya banaya” does not recompense the gap. There is much more than just inquiring whether you have eaten or not for an effective communication. Ask them how they feel, how their day had gone. Participate in their emotions. Do not listen with an intent to reply, listen with an intent to understand the emotion behind their words. Tell them about your experience through the day.

A heart to heart talk can alleviate a depressed mood and leave a heart warm enough to face any problems, small or big.

Grown ups or just Older?

Not so long ago, we all were watching a hollywood super hero movie, a largely safe bet for family viewing. As the climax drew closer, the leading man and his damsel in distress got a little too close for our desi family’s comfort. There was uncomfortable shifting on the sofa. The tension in the room weighed heavy and the kids hardly knew where to look.

I frantically started searching for the remote. The stakes of what was about to appear on screen were much higher than whatever universe-threatening evil force the hero was fighting against! The lovebirds passionately started moving towards each other. I hit the remote button just in time. The screen changed to Patanjali advertisement; Swasthya twacha ke liye gaai ke shuddh doodh se bani cold cream. The channel gets changed again after couple of minutes and the movie skips forward to the fighting once more. Another day our kids did not have to watch two grown-ups kiss on screen.

Indian parents are some of the most vigilant gatekeepers of objectionable content in the world. They can shout at each other in front of their kids and scar them for entire life but would never allow them to watch remotely adult content or any sort of PDA (public display of affection) on TV or talk about it. 90 per cent of kids have seen their parents holding hands only when daddy’s down two pegs at some random wedding dancing to “Ae meri Zohra Zabin”. Most parents see no reason to allow the child to understand the matured content in safe environment, which is their house, as it brings unnecessary awkwardness. I mean, why have ‘The talk’ when you can ignore until your kids grow old enough to figure it out themselves.

Needless to say, we have all grown up in shuddh desi houses where TV watching was a ritual with remote-control, the weapon of defence, in Dad’s hands. Anything remotely adult, change the channel…handled…done!!

Ever wondered why Indian TV shows are mostly about Bahu becoming Makkhi or a Saas turning out to be Zehreeli Nagin. It’s not that there is dearth of creativity in our country. The real reason behind it is this awkwardness between parents and kids. Demand and supply you see. Even the TV serial producers don’t want to mess with the great Indian family time. Forget about kids, even the parents don’t get to see what they are legally allowed! In India, from teenagers to 35 yrs old single men and women living with their parents are referred to as kids for some reason. So these ‘kids’ find other avenues for all the information and poor parents at the max comment on Facebook post, “Comment me 6 type kare aur kamaal dekhe!!”

Thanks to Netflix and other internet based services, things have changed in last couple of years. Our parameters of indecent, immoral and the general sense of hawwness have evolved significantly. Bollywood also has stopped shying away from on-screen kisses, and intimate scenes and bold dialogues have made their way into mainstream cinema, becoming more than just a cheap prop to promote B-grade movies.With flexible timings and multiple viewing facilities, we can watch what we want without getting judged.

Children should be protected, but not made to live in an alternate reality that leaves them unprepared to have a healthy, adult life in the actual one. Streaming has changed the way we consume entertainment. Before the internet, entertainment time meant television time, which necessarily meant family time. But that’s not the case anymore. If there are four people in my family, and at any given time, all can be found in different parts of the house, watching what they want.

But yes, still I can’t sit through an intimate scene on TV with my kids or my parents in the room without itching for the remote control. This awkwardness is just too deep rooted 🙂

 

A French Affair

I will never forget my visit to Paris this summer. After having a fantastic week in Switzerland, we were all excited to explore this cosmopolitan capital city of France. From a week in Mountains and lakes, coming to Boulevards and Bridges, I personally quite liked the contrasting characteristics of Switzerland and Paris. While the former takes your breath away with its peaceful nature, Paris sets your adrenaline high the moment you get on your feet.

“Dear, It’s afternoon…I think you should tone down your Make-up”,  a rather quick comment come from my husband.

“No way, after all we are in Paris, the fashion capital of the world, itna make up to banta hai“, I smirked. I am sure Da Vinci had said something similar to Mona Lisa, hence the smirk/smile.

Trust me, no matter how expensive dress you wear or what kind of make up you put on, you can not match up with the fashionable crowd in Paris. It was June and the weather was sunny and unusually hot. I literally had to wash my face before reaching Eiffel Tower or the pics would had come out to the likes of an advertisement of a lost lady.

“I told you so”, comes another quick comment from hubby dear.

“Whatever”, I frowned.

Paris they say, is the city of Romance. Adventure, Architecture and Culture too. Though me and husband were all in for the adventure, architecture and culture minus romance!! The mood was salvaged by the positive bright vibes of the day outside. The streets in Paris are always springing with life. Multiple cafes with extended chairs and tables on the pavements with street artists at every nook and corner are playing or performing for your attention. The city is home to the world’s finest and most luxurious fashion designers and cosmetics, such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Dior, Yves Saint-Laurent, L’Oréal, Clarins, etc. If Mona Lisa went shopping here at Champs Elysees, there would had been no mystery left behind her smile as she would had not been smiling but grinning from ear to ear adorning at least five bags of her favorite cosmetics.

Surrounding the banks of the Seine River, Paris has a way of romancing visitors with its elegant beauty and magical ambience. Monuments like the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame,  Arc de Triomphe, Sainte-Chapelle grace the city and make it incomparable world wide. We completely enjoyed walking  up and down on The Champs Elysees, which by the way is pronounced nothing as it is read. Sitting at the high point in Paris, the Basilique Sacré-Coeur has a special aura. The Esplanade that leads up to the church is a popular area for people to hang out and is often graced by very talented street musicians. The Bohemian spirit of Montmartre is still found in its charming squares and cobblestone streets. Many wonderful artists at the square make lifelike portraits with  impeccable art. We had our kids sketched by one of the gentleman.

After couple of days in this lovely city, while walking on Pont Alexandre III, Paris’s most elegant and grand bridge, we finally decided to visit Louvre Museum and find out the mystery behind the smile of Mona Lisa ourselves. The large crowds outside the museum confirmed that no one goes back from Paris without a visit to the Louvre. Its huge and surely would had taken few weeks if we wanted to see all of it. Our target was set, we wanted to see the wing which houses the famous painting by Leonardo Da Vinci.

The line for the ticket was huge and the heat haze had set our temperatures high. The conflict of whether to take audio guide or not, pushed the tempers to one more degree. Adding to the woes, my younger daughter managed to set the language of the audio to French. Clueless of the directions, bickering over everything, we stumbled upon some great work of Art….sculptures like The Winged Victory of Samothrace, The Venus De Milo, Dying Slave, paintings like Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss, The Coronation of Napoleon…. You name it, they have it. Louvre impressed me highly with a collection that spans work from ancient civilizations to the mid-19th century.

The arrow pointed- first floor for Mona Lisa. I wanted to rush immediately while my husband was more interested in photographing the sculpture of ‘The Dying Slave’ by Michelangelo. Leaving him to cover naked man, I scooted towards Room No 6. to see Mona Lisa. The portrait hangs behind bulletproof glass and there were thousands of jostling spectators. It is the most famous painting in the world, and yet, when I saw her up close, I was baffled by the small subdued portrait of an ordinary woman. Neither her clothing is remarkable nor the surroundings. So what is it that makes the painting historical!

When I looked at her mouth, she wasn’t smiling as much as when I looked at her eyes. I feel that the magic of Mona Lisa’s painting is that it seems to react to our gaze. You question what is she thinking! She smiles back mysteriously. I looked again ….her smile seemed to flicker. I glanced away, and the enigmatic smile lingered in my mind. In no other painting  have I ever seen such motions and emotions intertwined.

As I was getting caught up in the mysterious smile of Mona Lisa, my husband called out for me. I turned and saw him clicking a pic of me. I smiled for a moment and than immediately hardened my face. My husband’s face drooped more.

It was our last night in Paris. We had heard that there is a light show at Eiffel on strike of every hour after 10 PM.  Light drizzle had made the weather pleasant. We found a great spot at Trocadero and settled for a while. “Smile now dear!” my husband said. I made faces and started going through the photographs he had clicked earlier at Louvre in our camera. Each and every one were exceptional, capturing details of  the displayed artifacts. But the painting of Mona Lisa was blurred, and the focus was on me!

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It was time…The lights of the Eiffel Tower sparkled through the misty rain. He placed his hands on my shoulders and I softened. After all we had promised to embrace each other’s passions and peeves  during our Saat Pheras. Kids were running around enjoying the magical moments of glitzy sight. I am sure a cupid was at a constant vigil in the Paris skyline that night. Let me re-emphasize, Paris is the city of Adventure, Architecture, Culture and Romance too.

Little Girl

I said, Oh Mother I want something to eat

And you had said with big eyes

Your little brother is yet to sleep

My dear, just wait for a while

Why don’t you go and play outside

Stay around don’t wander afar

Also keep the front door ajar

Pressing the gurgling stomach, walking on the brown grass

I looked out for a friend, she studied in my class

No one was out to share a story

Moon was shining with all its glory

How much could I had talked to myself

My thoughts wandered and so did I

Saw colorful flowers at a distance under that tree

Thought how beautiful will they look in your pleats

Oh Mother with my small hands

I picked up those petals for your hair

Red Pink Purple and Blue

All of them just for you

As I was about to turn around

A hand came and grabbed my mouth

That scary black shadow took me away

Disregarding my pleas and shouts

I called out for you.. but my voice was suppressed

What happened next I may not readdress

For it was much more worse than hell

Won’t be able to take that pain again

He hurt me where I can’t explain

Oh Mother…breath was low…life was in jeopardy

How can one have intentions so lowly?

Where were you Oh mother…didn’t you hear my plight

Why didn’t sweet brother sleep early that night

You might have cooked some sweet delight

And must have come out to see where was I

Your heart would had sunk when you didn’t find your little doll

She might be around! You might have thought

But your sweet pie was not here anymore

Like those flowers I was crushed to the core

My hands, my legs, my body; were behind that door

It’s just that my life was no more

Oh Mother! I was no more….

~N~