Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Prelude To A New Year

This year has sped by, bringing excitement and unpredictability.
I lost some old friends to illness and accidents.
Discovered a large set of still older friends through the internet.
Brought a new life into this world.
Spent hours in hospital corridors and rooms.
More hours, housebound, joyful, tired, confused and delighted.
Held, nourished and nurtured my baby.
Was nurtured in turn, by loving friends.
Discovered the joys of a mini ipad and kindle.
Relied on internet shopping
Spent time outdoors in long walks
With kites soaring overhead and trees swaying in the breeze.
Learnt not to fear fear
Learnt to give freely of myself
And accept gratefully unexpected gifts
To welcome life as it appears
And not force its pace, nor ask it to slow down for me
And now, just as I thought I had learnt to deal with all possible situations (!)
The new year brings -
Travel, travel and travel, to places familiar and unknown
More people, known and unknown
And other challenges that I wonder if I'm ready to deal with.
I put aside my apprehension
For I know I will only be given what I can handle at any moment
Things that will help me learn and grow
I bid goodbye to a year full of surprises
And welcome a new year, with gratitude and joy.

(And what better way to end the year, than with this little video of Michael Jordan's)!!

Happy New Year!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

When The Going Gets Tough

I never realized before how much reading thrillers would come in handy.  Some days, everything that can possibly go wrong does, but then one can always remind oneself that things could be far worse.  Unlike my favourite detectives, I am not being chased down dark alleys, being shunted off to inhospitable cells, being shot at by men on horseback or attacked by ravenous crocodiles...

Today being a prime example.  I awake on this crisp clear Sunday morning to messages on my cell phone from the government teleservices - please change to one of three plans or your connection will be terminated tomorrow.  These messages began arriving at a gentle pace from Saturday afternoon and are coming in a faster, more frenzied way alternately in English and Kannada today.  I would be almost gratified at the trouble someone is taking to ensure my connection doesn't lapse if I didn't know that these are all computer generated, with a delightful programme that increases the frequency of messages as the deadline approaches.

Anyway, there's not much I can do.  The helpline number rings endlessly and no one picks up.  The website is filled with all kinds of details except how (and if) I can change to a new plan instantly online.  But... things could be worse.  I could come down with a migraine...  Well, now that I think of it, I do feel a twinge...

I put on my sneakers and the baby and I head out for our morning walk.  It's a nice day and being Sunday, there are even fewer walkers at this hour than the usual.  The trees are filled with little chattering birds, who are startled by our sudden arrival.  We are the first humans to tread this ground today.  Keeping a sharp eye for predators and spies (we see only one stray dog of a friendly kind, who doesn't really count) and fast moving objects of assault (namely the branches overhead which occasionally crack and fall to the earth), we move with our usual agility and speed, covering several centimetres per second.  We stop to look at the birds and smell the roses (which have no particular smell) and smile happily.  A mission successful.

As the first few other morning walkers straggle in, it's time for us to head home - for breakfast.  All goes well, except for my multiple sprints up and down the staircase to check if the garbage collector has come.  He is supposed to ring a bell when he approaches but strangely forgets to ring outside my house.  Anyway, that is dealt with.  The baby's breakfast is simmering and my tea is ready when I realize the toaster is jammed.  Not a matter of life and death of course, but one thing I hate is cold bread.  So I try and think innovatively - what would my heroes (and heroines) have done under the circs??  And I turn on the oven.  Of course, it's a bit of an overkill, and it takes five times as long before the bread converts into toast, but this mission too has ended satisfactorily.

The washing machine beeps in the background, spewing out some slimy scaly material from its innards onto the clothes and switching itself off.  It doesn't matter.  I reset the power and it is fooled into restarting from where it stopped.  The scales I will scrape off one by one by hand from the clothes (probably equivalent to practicing an ancient Shaolin exercise to focus the mind and develop concentration).

The baby begins to cry and my thoughts turn back to feeding him and myself.  Breakfast is finally dealt with and the baby falls asleep.  Ah!  Time for my bath.  At this moment, the gas delivery truck arrives, the gas man hauling off cylinders and rolling them down the road one by one.  It sounds like cannon balls being thrown on a bowling alley.  Fortunately my baby sleeps through the din.  My maid arrives, throws the cutlery from one end of the kitchen to the other (or that's what it sounds like).  The baby, of course, wakes up.

Meanwhile, I see a spider crawling on his cot.  Time for some quick action - a mug, a nappy, a few swift hand strokes and the spider is tossed into the garden outside.  Whew!

My cell phone beeps again.  My head begins to throb, but it's not a migraine.  Hurrah!  It's only eleven in the morning and there's plenty of time for more action on the front.  I am optimistic.  After all, this is far better than being marooned on an isolated tropical island with sharks for company.


These are a few of the mystery/action books that have sustained me this past year.  Some are gentle, some violent, but all are intriguing... (and all are part of a series) -

1) The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection, by Alexander McCall Smith

2) The Turkish Gambit, by Boris Akunin

3) Come To Grief, by Dick Francis

4) Twice A Spy, by Keith Thomson

5) The Shape Shifter, by Tony Hillerman

6) Inspector Ghote Breaks An Egg, by HRF Keating

Monday, December 15, 2014

Become Yourself

"So, hasn't motherhood changed you?", many people ask, expecting me to say that it has indeed.  In fact, I don't really think it's that easy to change oneself.  Certainly, dealing with a  baby is a different kind of experience from any other, but it brings out what already existed, unused, within me.  Things that lay hidden and latent have surfaced, and old memories of my babyhood sometimes come to mind (especially at trying times, when I remember how patient my mother was with me).

Of course, all new experiences carry with them the potential for growth and change, and I do feel I have grown in certain ways over this past year.

My physical and mental resilience has increased.  I am called upon to wake up at odd hours to comfort or feed my baby.  To leave whatever I have begun if he is excessively restless at moments.  To curtail my phone calls and end suddenly with, "Oh, I have to leave now," and hope that friends understand.  To walk, walk and walk - this is of course because both baby and I like to do so, but I would be happier if I didn't have to do it at 3 a.m.!

The strength for all this comes not so much from physical sources but from my spirit.  The more I draw upon this inner strength and align myself with what is fundamentally "me", the easier and happier all my tasks become (in fact I don't really view them as tasks any more).  This requires a certain mental vigilance and confidence in myself.  It also requires an ability to listen but not necessarily act upon the tons of advice or opinions one gets from well wishers.  It's hard because, after all, I'm a novice parent, but this is what seems to work best for me.

And so I have learnt to accept my own way as the best way for myself; the baby (who doesn't have an option!) doesn't seem to mind.  I have learnt to allow myself to grow (almost!) fearlessly in whatever direction my innermost thoughts and feelings tell me.  To listen and observe, and allow my baby to direct his and my own growth.

As the year comes to a close, I wish my readers a happy new year and hope that the coming year brings peace, joy and self discovery (of a happy kind!) for each of you.  I end with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young's hauntingly beautiful song,' Teach Your Children'.

"You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a goodbye"
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