Welcome 2016 – The year of imperfection

The daily grind has this ability to stealthily wean you off the core attributes that define you. Your inner calling. Some of us have just about enough silence to hear the faint inner voices. The rest of us create a din in which the inner voice slowly dwindles away.

There was a time when I relished solitude and every single opportunity for solitude that I stumbled upon. I would rush to seize a book and read as much of it as possible, even though I may have a read it a bazillion times in all the years gone by.

I saw some of the subtle changes coming and I missed seeing some. My library membership going unused for months. My diminishing usage of flavorful words in conversations :). I started finding a spare hour unsettling as there was so much to be done. The spare hour fuelled a need to prioritize long pending work tasks or home chores, and thereby to friction. Tussle. Working mother guilt added lot more layers to this – my urge to spend every waking hour outside work with S. It depleted the person in me. The days became longer and the nights became shorter. I was with S, but I was not. While she was wholly with me. There were other signs. The signals my body gave. Tantrums of me and my loved ones.

And then the numerous thoughts of quitting. Conflicting with dreams built up over the years. The determination, the sweat. The feeling of void in the stomach when I had decided to move out of my career. These made it difficult to jump to either side and I kept sitting on top of the fence.

The real call came when I started running out of stories for S. I embarked on a month off to slip into nothingness. To experience the sound of silence, just as I had, three years ago during my sabbatical. To make amends with my oldest paperback friends once again. To just experience the passing by of a day, in all its hues. The simple charm of routine. The comfort that nothing (other than S) can wreck havoc on your unhurried schedule. Rambling meals. The heaviness of a 9 hour drugged sleep without the shrill of an alarm waking you up. Meandering books. Offbeat movies. Stumbling conversations. Art exhibitions. Puppet shows. The month was planned across a Srilankan visit, Bangalore laziness in all its glory at parents’ place and the final stint at home – comforting Pune sunshine in the biting cold.

It takes time to mend old ways. So I started my break with a to-do list which went like this –
1. Bring back health on track
2. Write
3. Read
4. Plan terrace garden
5. Complete art projects
6. Catch up on ‘movie to watch’ pile
7. Organize photos repository
8. Give away old clothes and toys of S

At the end of the month which is today, I am glad to say that I didn’t do any of the above except walk everyday and just spending time with S, K and my parents. The days just slipped through the cracks. Which is exactly how I realized I had wanted it. Yes time was peppered by a couple of books and movies here and there, but nothing concerted and planned. Nothing to break the monotony. No SOS calls or a problem dying to be solved. Nothing on rush mode. Yes there were distractions. Social media. Yet it co-existed in an unobtrusive manner. A companion when I needed it. Though I may not have wanted to resort to it as much.

That is probably what this year is going to be all about. Of imperfections and of the raw beauty hidden in it. More vulnerable moments. Allowing myself to open up more before I ones I care for. Going with the flow, but not hesitating to break into a slow rivulet rather than moving with the speedy current. More respect for the body. More early mornings. More aimless long walks. More awkward silences. Not wanting to be the best in every single thing, every single time. It requires numerous inner demons to be conquered and its definitely not easy to erode years of mental conditioning. More unknown answers to questions asked by S. And more struggle to find the same. More often than not, she and I are not looking for answers; we are just trying to hold simple moments together with some meaning. More attempt in some ways to create a sense of differentiation between the individual, parent, spouse and the worker. To bottle up and seal off work sometime during the day. So that you are eagerly waiting to open and lap it up the next day. More distinguishing lines between days and nights. More moon gazing. More random recipes that appear ridiculous to all but me and S. She surrenders completely and unconsciously for things I have loved all my life. Raw Maggi and sago vadaam maavu. Fried Mor Molaga stems. More train journeys and lesser flights. And to regain the ability to sleep on a train. More Tamil music. More books finished cover to cover in a single sitting.

Such resolutions have been made umpteen times. However there is a difference now. All the above without pressure or compulsion to achieve the same. A resolution, if only, to be imperfect. Sounds like a mirage but we shall see. That will be another post at the end of 2016 🙂

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A lot can happen over coffee – My entry for the Get Published contest

Plot idea:

This story is about a couple, who get deliriously attracted to each other, have a whirlwind romance and decide to share a lifetime, battling family opinions. Although hopelessly in love, they are both highly temperamental and perhaps not ready for the challenges of living a married life. Foibles and frustrations cost them their togetherness and eventually lead to a split. Family pressure that couldn’t win its battle in preventing their union, manages to accomplish a formal separation.

But that’s where this story really begins. They bump into each other a year later, causing those same butterflies to relentlessly flit around in their heads. For the single question that rings in both their hearts is whether their separation was worth it. Whether sticking around would have been a better choice to make. Whether they had really got over each other. And most importantly, do they really stand another chance.

Excerpt:

She left office and was waiting impatiently for the lift to arrive, her faux leather bag clutched in one hand, and a working laptop in the other.  The plush lift arrived and she threw a quick glance at the people she was going to share the lift with. And then saw him. Composed and unruffled, he looked as charming as he had done on the day they had first met. Just at that moment, his eyes looked up from his Blackberry to the woman who had just boarded the lift. He looked clearly intrigued, even a little amused, and attempted a half-smile. She fumbled and just about managed to look confused.

In the twenty second journey together that followed, their minds unconsciously did a wild run through all significant moments they had spent, and the heart-breaking separation that had then seemed inevitable. She was in a heap of emotions, desperately trying to put up a show bordering between irritation and nonchalance when those clearly were not the emotions on top of her mind. On top of her mind, rather annoyingly, was pure worry about how she looked right now, and whether her recklessly loud heartbeats were audible to everyone around. He hopelessly continued staring into his BB, but couldn’t help the flutters in his heart that she had just caused.

It was a year since they had separated. After a year of marriage. A struggling marriage following a sensuous courtship. The inter-cultural marriage for which they had fought everyone who mattered. The marriage that had eventually succumbed to their own’ lack of compatibility’, as the lawyer had so effortlessly put it.

The lift reached the lobby and they stepped out, more slowly than the others. “Coffee? For old times’ sake?”, he asked, with what appeared to be genuine warmth. “Why not?”, she felt the words tumbling from her mouth. And they stepped into the coffee shop, both their heads spinning with excitement and anticipation for what lay ahead. All for old times’ sake.

 

“This is my entry for the HarperCollins–IndiBlogger Get Published contest, which is run with inputs from Yashodhara Lal and HarperCollins India.”

If you like this excerpt and would like to read more of the story, please go ahead and vote for my story idea at http://www.indiblogger.in/getpublished/idea/577 (click on the red heart!)

The Sabbatical Story

S is the only person in my lifetime with whom I have spent every waking minute for a year and a half. Waking minute may be an understatement here, we probably dream about each other as well. I had not planned for this long a break away from work, but so it happened. Overall, its been a great journey, though we have had our share of pitfalls, frustrations and disappointments. Its been a great journey because I got a chance to re-live my long forgotten childhood. Things I either wasn’t exposed to, or which I didn’t have the time to explore and enjoy. Most of my life, was spent busy studying and building a good career. As the offspring of a conservative Tam-Brahm family with no much fortunes to speak of as inheritance, you could probably take a blind guess on how programmed my life would’ve been. Thanks to S, I rediscovered bubbles, butterflies, and fairy tales. Eating to your heart’s content, the magic of morning garden time, and waking up free and bright on a Monday morning. I found my art for making funny faces which made the baby laugh uncontrollably. I found the amazing ability of a good ginger-lemon grass tea to break the stupor of a drugged afternoon nap. I found the art of healing my headaches on my own, without taking a pill. And the art of figuring of why the headache came in the first place (I have not yet developed an ability to prevent headaches, so let’s leave my spiritual quest there). I learnt to bake and realized that no matter how many cakes I baked, the excitement while opening the oven door to get the first glimpse of the cake did not wane. I am not saying I am a pro, but the cakes I bake are nice and tasty and enough to excite me and the kid. She devours them, even the wheat based ones (if you still didn’t get it, I am now gloating about my capability to bake maida-free cakes. Sorry!). I cherished reading every single day, whenever baby napped. I stumbled upon the amazing ritual of having coffee in my balcony. Such an irony that though we made sure we bought a flat with a balcony, we never ever found the time to have a relaxed cuppa, in all these years. The evening caffeine kick was at the office for sustaining our sleepy nerves and the mornings were too much of a rush.

                       

I had certain epiphanies and made some stubborn choices. Like I would stay at home for a couple of years before getting back into the (big bad) corporate world. I would not raise my hand on the baby, ever (although a number of my family members are waiting with bated breath for the day when I will lose my temper, just to prove me wrong). I would not wallow in self-pity for choosing to stay at home while others seamlessly pursued their career choices. I would not compare my spouse or kid with others. In the time I choose to spend with S, I would not just ‘appear’ to be available, armed with a smart phone or laptop. I would be available to my kid well enough to have a conversation with good eye contact. I would not push my kid into learning from a tender age (read educational toys, educational books, and all things educational). Kids are anyway naturally hyper-inquisitive, and have the ability to pick up a tremendous amount of skills themselves, which is one thing that amazes me till date.

                       

If I am going to rant on like this, saying that stay-at-home mommies’ lives are all about rainbows and bubble baths, then I am just overly romanticized and been wearing pink tinted glasses all along. Saying that I have absolutely enjoyed every single minute and every single day of my sabbatical would be like someone saying their favourite writer is Chetan Bhagat. A naïve, constricted view. I have realized that no matter how much ad films and magazine covers glamourize the mom and baby combo, its not entirely the truth. Those glossy pictures you see are a Kodak moment. There are other moments before and after that. I wonder why we relentlessly target the seven year itch for married couples while we still do not exhibit complete frankness about the roller-coaster relationship that one shares with children. One reason I can think of is that children, at least till the age of five, are beyond human weaknesses, and love you unconditionally, no matter what. Something like pets. The only difference being is that the amount of care and attention children demand are way way higher than your furry companions would.

                       

There are times of the day where S and I are inseparables, cuddling away to glory. There are also times on the same day, where we have got so tired of each other that we mutually agree to get on with our own separate activities. The third slot is the toughest – one of us has got tired of the other one. The other one is still eager to get along. No brownies here for guessing who’s who. Just picturize a killer client who keeps you on your toes 24/7. Calls you at the weirdest possible hours. Doesn’t let you eat your food in peace. Forget food, you probably even miss drinking enough water and postpone loo-trips. That’s the pressure full time baby-raising can put on you. The only big difference is that the baby will give you a joyous gurgle at the end of the day, that has the effect of Ctrl-Z. Your lunches have to be planned well so as to attract minimum disruption. At least for the first six to eight months, you are reeking of baby food, Dettol and J&J. You feel like going to the mall to distract yourself and the baby, but the baby is too small. After few months, the baby is too cranky. After that, the baby is quite mobile and insists on running the length and breadth of the mall, making you appear like a joke to people around.

There are days when I yearn for the office goers look. A look practiced over the years, of posh Fabindia kurtas, unruffled silk dupattas, and printed salwars, with not a single nail chipped, eyebrows trimmed well at all times, coordinated earrings, footwear, bags, and ensemble completed with a smudgy kohl and an everyday lipcolour. Aaah, the simple things I wanted from life. Of course, sitting through office was by no means a la-la ride. We had to work our bums off. Pester clients, talk sensible stuff all the time, manage projects impeccably, hold attention spans, create favourable perceptions everywhere. Have an updated Linked in account, network well at corporate get togethers and be uptodate with the day’s business headline. Act as if you are born to handle crisis, at all levels, between your subordinates, superiors, clients, whoever. Move around with a Zen-like smile till you reach that place called home. Where the Zen in you crumbles, and all rules break. You are once again human, a daughter, a wife, a mother. You make up for all the calmness in daytime by unleashing the real ‘yours truly’ at home. Strangely, a part of me even today longs to return to this lifestyle. The lifestyle I used to crib about every weekend while I was working. The lifestyle I so badly wanted a break from. The lifestyle I had decided never to recommend to anyone. We humans are a fickle minded lot. We unconsciously adapt ourselves even to unfavourable environments, so much so that we even manage to create a comfort zone within it. We nevertheless keep cribbing about the negative conditions as that gives us some form of catharsis. Finally, when pushed out of the comfort zone, we miss those trying times badly.

During this break, I did try hard at times to don the avatar of a supercool mum and wife. Efficient, never clumsy, who knows her plain olive oil from extra virgin olive oil. Who rattles off clever tricks and tips to solve any household trouble. Who appears glamorous even while shes cooking. Harmonious and blended, with the ease and grace of a geisha. Who can switch fluidly between discussing money market instruments and idli batter recipe in a jiffy. Who makes lovely cakes without a spot in her apron. Who can say intelligible things like ‘The roasting and browning of the pumpkin is key for giving this soup its special taste’…and so on. But I was miserably unsuccessful. Though I did learn some survival tricks at the kitchen and the art of churning out my own dosa batter, I still have a long way to go towards being the queen of the hearth.

Despite all odds, when I look back at the motherhood experience that has been so different from the rest of my life, I am surprised that the only aftertaste I have is contentment. Of having invested time to bring up S in my way. I know some of this might get eroded but at least I gave it a good enough shot. Babies, though extremely demanding, come with inbuilt stress busters. Like a beautiful smile thrown at you. An unexpected peck on the cheek. An trusting finger curling around yours for security. Making you feel so so important in their scheme of things by wailing for you when you are away. Makes me forget, at least temporarily all the good nights’ sleep that I have missed. The innumerable diaper changes. And every other hardship. Maybe that’s why mothers generally develop short term memory loss. Makes life that much more beautiful.

I am now harbouring thoughts of slowly getting back to work. There are obviously mixed feelings. Thank you S, for having entertained me. And for giving me another chance to grow up once again. Only, this time around, I will take my own sweet time to grow up.

Why wish for a girl child

Ma, you tell me Papa and you always wanted a girl.
You told me to study hard, to find my rightful niche
You gave me all the freedom you couldn’t have
Why can’t I then stay late to finish that job at work
Why can’t I freely drive the car I bought
Why do I need to keep reporting my whereabouts
To you, or Papa, or Brother, or Husband?
Why do I need to justify going with my boyfriend
Why can’t I enjoy a girls night out
Why can’t I go dressed as per the latest trends
Why am I solemnly reminded at every step that women are equals
Why does it take so much verbal reinforcement
Of a statement so utterly meaningless and flimsy

Why did you tell me times were different before
When women were suppressed
Did you mean we were actually safer
Was staying at home much better
Than losing your life or breaking your spirit while trying to live this ‘equal’ life
I am torn between the values you gave me
And what I see in the world I live in
I don’t understand why we need to suffer so much agony
And loss of freedom
Just because we are women
Women with a heart
Who choose not to commit
Dirty crimes on men.

The law is blind
Goodness is dead
What for do we have goddesses in this country?
So why at all did Papa and you wish for a girl?
What were you planning to offer me in this world?

Gharonda

It’s been a really long hiatus from blogging this time. As clichéd as it may sound, I have been ultra busy with something, and that something is very predictably going to be the topic of this post.

The husband and I have started our house hunting yet again for the third time in the last four years. Now don’t give me that look. We are not into house hoarding. We bought a couple of houses in the past, which we had to sell due to totally different reasons. So this time around, I am keeping my fingers crossed, hoping this purchase will last longer than the earlier ones. Long enough for the walls to bear the stubborn pencil marks tracing the height of the growing child. Long enough for the rooms to be weighed down with the echoes of laughter and joy, of love and hope, of arguments and anguish. Basically, long enough for the house to become a home.

House-hunting, I feel, is akin to spouse-hunting in a number of ways. You feel the vibes, positive or negative, within the first ten seconds. You start fantasising. You start comparing the current one with the ones seen till then. You become anxious if you very badly want it.  You become touchy if nothing works out for a long time. You wait with bated breath for the right one to come riding one fine morning. Just like that. Unannounced, sweeping you off your feet.

Though I never had the fortune (or misfortune) of checking out multiple grooms before settling on Mr Right, the house hunting left me with much more on my hands than I could handle. Further, the tiring and stressful process of house hunting with a toddler in tow was made infinitely amusing, intriguing and frustrating, all at the same time, by the broker fraternity. They are, no doubt, an interesting lot. I understood certain tenets about the broker community. Their’s is a tough life in a highly competitive, disorganized sector, where transparency and work ethics are extremely rare. The brokers struggle to swim their way through turbulent waters, the bigger sharks gobbling up the smaller ninnies along the journey. As a result, many of them resort to umpteen tricks of trade to keep their hearths running warm.

Some excerpts of our routine albeit amusing conversation with brokers:

Scene one:

We were ushered into a seedy looking house with chrome lights and all, filled with empty beer bottles in every possible nook. The floor was strewn with cigarette stubs. So as not to appear extremely rude, we gave the place a cursory glance before hurriedly stepping out.

Broker (very smugly): Kaisa laga sir?

Hubby: Arre ghar dikhao, bar nahi

Broker: Saab yeh sab to common hai na. Bachelars toh gande hi rehte hai. Ye to phir bhi thik hai. Last week group of working girls key aha party leke gaya. Shorts me ek ladki ne cigarette ke saath door khola. Jain party toh udhar se hi laut gaya! Aaj kal ki ladkiyan tej hai na!!

Well well.

Scene two:

Me: Gym hai?

Broker: Pata lagatu hu

Hubby: Kabhi bataoge?

Broker: Ek do din me

Hubby and me: Huh???

Scene three:

Broker: Maam, yeh dekho. Proper 3 BHK hai.

Me: Proper matlab?

Broker: Arey madam, yaane ki accha 3bhk hai.

Me: Oh. Okay…Par yeh toh top floor hai. Aapne bola nahi mujhe phone pe!

Broker: Higher floor bola tha na madam…

Me: Uhmm…Higher floor…

Scene four:

Hubby: Arey kya mast flat hai.

Me: Wait, pehle compass nikalo (experience had taught me that the best flats were invariably south facing)

Hubby: Kya yaar, yeh bhi south facing hai!!

Broker: Par aapne bataya nahi vaastu compliant chahiye.

Hubby: Hmmm. Toh suno hamare requirements:

Vaastu, feng shui or jo bhi sab hai uske saath compliant hona chahiye

Bada balcony chahiye. Madam ko papad sukhana hai (winks at me)

Top floor or ground floor nahi chahiye.

Shaam ko 630 baje tak ghar me light aana chahiye

Aajoo Bajoo me kahi bhi road nahi hona chahiye

Khidkiyon se greenery dikhna chahiye

Aur haan, hamare budget me fit hona chahiye. Bas. Hubby turns to me, ‘Anything else’?

Me: (Now a bit unsure of the way the conversation was progressing) Hmmm…Balcony se sun aur moon dikhe to accha hoga…

Broker: (Visibly frustrated). Saab, main line up karke call karta hu.

Obviously, he never called back.

Scene five:

Me: Yeh ghar nahi jamega. Hame bada balcony chahiye.

Broker: But maam, log to aajkal chhota balcony maangte hai. Dengue bahut hai na.

Me: Kya???

Some of the other amusing events included the fact that the door of a house was wide open when we went to see it. Apparently some broker in a tearing hurry who had shown the flat before us had forgotten to lock it (!). We also got a lot of leads from quasi-brokers, typically housewives who leveraged contacts at kitty parties and bhajan mandlis to generate that ‘little but not-so-little’ side income.

Okay, for the record, we have, till date, seen only about 46 houses. If ever there is an award for accomplishing this with a very hyper toddler, you now know whom to nominate.

Seeing my crestfallen face, my resourceful maid who is socially very active mentioned that a house is available in our own society. ‘Didi main kal flat number laati hu, tension nako…’.

Hmmm…Tomorrow the 47th house then!!! Woohoooo

The Ice Age fiasco

           We never believed our very active (read ‘hyperactive’) 15 month old daughter S would be patient enough to watch a film in the theatre. And so we never tried. But the musically inclined little one fell so much in love with the songs of the film Cocktail on TV that I couldn’t resist giving it a shot. You had to start somewhere, so why not with this? The other pluses about the movie being that even if there were to be a ruckus, I could breeze out of the movie with no major heartbreak (given the unrelenting poor reviews it had got). And since the movie hall was expected to be 70% empty, we could move about and around as frequently as required. So me and S, off we went for Cocktail, with a cousin for company. Here I must mention that the husband promptly backed out saying Cocktail was not HIS kind of movie and so he gallantly volunteered to skip the movie (now please don’t ask me what HIS kind of movies are, coz that’s another post altogether!).

              Well, surprise of all surprises, our evening rocked!! S thoroughly enjoyed the songs and was dancing freely in the nicely vacant theatre, while we lazily munched our popcorn. The movie was no good, but our trio made the best of it, given the entertainment provided by S. I could not believe that we had so effortlessly breezed through her first movie, and I cursed myself for not having attempted this sooner. ‘It’s all because of my staid unexperimenting husband’, I muttered. I returned home with a gait in my walk and rubbed it all off on the husband who, nevertheless amused, very promptly made it seem as if it was no big deal that he missed all the fun.

             And then I read this blog post about a mom and kid bonding over an animation movie, and boy, was I touched! I so wanted S to look wide-eyed at an animation film, and watch her face light up with joy. She accompanied me to Cocktail, so I should definitely take her to her kind of movies. Simple logic, or so it seemed. And this time, I was in no mood to leave the husband out of the fun. I scanned the papers and figured out that Ice Age 4 and Krishna and Kans were due for release. Perfect timing! I told the husband I was booking tickets for the movie Ice Age 4 that weekend. ‘Ice Age 4?’ he asked. ‘What about 1,2 and 3?’. Here, I have to clarify that the husband does not even remotely follow animation movies. I had to really coax him to come for this one, giving him a long emotional lecture on what I thought were the ultimate tenets of parenthood. And since he never has the heart to refuse something where either S or his parenting approaches are involved, he relented. And we planned to go the following weekend to Krishna and Kans so as to give S the joy of both desi and phoren animated films. I did a small victory jig.

             As we settled comfortably ensconced in our Gold class seats for Ice Age (yes, I had chosen the best class for the occasion), it seemed all so ‘picture-perfect’. That is, until the guy with the 3D glasses came. As soon as we put on our glasses, S decided I looked really weird in them and started tugging, insisting that I remove it. Well, me being the primary bearer of S, had to relent. Now if you have ever tried watching 3D movies without those glasses, you would agree with me that it gives you a strange kind of head and eye ache. ‘I should have booked 2D’, I hissed to the husband, who was watching the movie unperturbed with his glasses on. Five minutes into the movie, S let out her first cry of boredom. Unfazed, I softly tried pointing out the various animals to her. No luck. I pointed out some kids nearby who were watching the movie. She suddenly clapped her hands with joy and lurched out of my lap wanting to play with them. I tried explaining to her in my unruffled-mother-who-can-handle-any-situation voice that this was not time to play and that a wonderful movie lay ahead. She watched for few more minutes before asking for water, biscuits, water, puffed rice, juice (huh? I hadn’t got that with me, she had obviously overestimated her mom there), biscuits and more water again. Needless to say that each of these demands resulted in a substantial amount of ruckus and total inability to focus on the movie. We played with the 3D glasses for some time and when I tried re-concentrating on the movie, S let out huge wails, enough to disturb the people sitting around, who gave looks which clearly implied why I was torturing a poor little baby by forcing her to watch a film she so obviously did not enjoy. I had a brainwave, took S out for a short walk to help freshen her up. By now, I had completely lost the movie plot and my unruffled-mother…. avatar. I returned to my seat to find the husband watching the film with a sudden found interest for animation movies. I glared at him pointedly for quite some time, no use though.

                 My discomfort was broken by the intermission. I heaved sighs of relief, which, however, were not to last long. When the coke-samosa-french fries combo ad was aired on the screen, S bawled a long ‘Mammammmm’ in the most piteous and hungry voice she could find. I got pure dirty looks from the crowd around for not only dragging a disinterested poor little baby, but also a hungry, underfed and tired one at that, all maybe in our desperation to watch the movie. I immediately despatched the husband to buy some popcorn and the reminder of the movie was spent peeling the soft portion of the popcorn and feeding it to S. I walked out of the movie hall not daring to risk any conversation by meeting anyone’s gaze.

          Apparently the husband enjoyed the movie. Needless to say, we didn’t go for Krishna and Kans the following weekend.

 

Her first li’l ponytail

 

As parents of babies, toddlers or children, we gush over a lot many things. And we wait for a lot of firsts. The first smile. The first ‘tata waving’. The first kiss. The first step…well, the list is endless. More so, in the case of first babies, much to the agony of the younger sibling, and the embarrassment of the older sibling, whose ‘first everthings’ (including the first nappy) are not only preserved zealously, but also demonstrated with gusto to select audiences.

One of the things the husband and I were waiting for, from quite a long time, was the daughter’s first pony tail. We could never get enough hair to pull back into a pony. So the baby was always seen only with two distinct hairdos – either a la Zakir Hussain (but not as tidy as Hussain saab), or a fountain pony right on top of the head, when I could manage tying it up.

                Our wish came true last month. I realized, with glee, that I could finally have a 90% pony tail (of course with great difficulty and tact, as she doesn’t like any pressure on her tresses). I immediately pinged my husband, who was on a month long tour in the US. And we skyped. He was equally thrilled.

So here’s to you, S, on this occasion:

–          I know you will reach an age where pony tails are so passé, and you would laugh at me if I suggested it as a hairdo.

–          I know you will have Monday mornings, where your biggest ‘waking up concern’ would be whether to cut or to keep your hair long. And curse your lineage for not having given you a headful of glossy, easily manageable, and totally artificial looking ‘shampoo-ad’ kind of hair.

–          I know you will hardly recognize yourself in your ‘first ponytail photo collection’, and may nonchalantly wave it around, asking your friends, “Can you even believe this is me?”

–          I know you would probably be very anxious on how you turn out on your important days, and would be experimenting with your looks maybe for days together.

–          I know you will probably have a lot of admirers gushing over you, some of whom you will just vainly ignore, and one of whom you may choose to share your life with.

–          I know you will have a panic attack on seeing your first grey strand of hair, and will spend the next few years in denial, and further few subsequent years, ageing gracefully.

All I want to say – don’t stress too much about your appearance. To two sets of people, you will always be the most beautiful of all – your child, and your parents who eagerly waited so long to see your first little ponytail.