Mother’s Day

It’s Mother’s Day.

This is the first year that my little girl is old enough to form the words and wish me. Being game to celebrate anything right now, at my husbands prompting, she came running to me and said “Happy Mama’s day!” before covering me in baby kisses. I don’t need anything else.

When I was growing up, I don’t think I ever wished my mother on Mother’s Day. I don’t think I even knew when it was and so today, three decades later, wishing her feels awkward. Now as has become my way, instead of saying how I feel, I’m going to try and type it out.

Thank you. For being patient but still putting me in my place every now and then. For listening to me complain but taking my side only when I’m not at fault. For allowing me to make my life choices but still choosing my outfits for functions. For making all the sacrifices and yet encouraging me to take the paths you didn’t. For being the baker-mom that caused every other kid I knew to envy me. For giving me your recipe book. For making me believe that I can do whatever it is I dream and still never pushing too hard. For enduring even when it must have been so hard. For being my guidepost.

I love you and if I am half the mother to Aarti as you were and still are to us, Aarti is sure one lucky girl.

Happy Mother’s Day Ma!

XOXO

And now we talk of culture

Culture….when I think of the quintessential feature of Indian culture I think of tolerance and respect.

Having lived in the Middle East, and that too in one of the more liberal nations, I still know how fortunate we expats were to be able to go to a church or a temple when there were others across borders nearby who couldn’t for fear of persecution and prosecution. When I was taught that India is a secular nation, it warmed my heart. I mean, how beautiful is it that we are not defined by the majority religion, instead, we have the fundamental right…the freedom to profess the faith of our choice. How many people in the world have suffered for their beliefs? While here we are, a highly populous country where you can worship as you wish knowing that for the most part, it makes no difference to anyone.

When I watched PK, that controversial Aamir Khan movie, my favourite scene was the one where he looks for a stamp on a baby to see what determines the faith to which he would belong. As I see it, religion is something you inherit from your parents and whether you decide to openly profess those practices or ignore the rituals completely is a choice you’re allowed to make.

secular(1)My closest friends belong to different faiths and I don’t care. Never have and never will. All I know is that I would trust them with my life and even the more precious life of my child. I know that they are good people. Isn’t that all that matters to most of us? That the people we call friends are good people? Does anyone truly care if they eat beef or pork or drink alcohol? Does it make a difference to anybody if they pray at a church or temple or mosque or not at all? I would like to think not. I would like to believe that it is only certain fringe elements of society that are trying to make popular a different tune… Sure, we have witnessed violent religious clashes in the past, but somehow until recently it seemed all for some political advantage  or the other and common people; like you and I were just victims. Why does the case seem different today? In my eyes, being of a certain community could never make you more or less Indian.

India…glorious India where children grew up waiting for festivals of their neighbours to burst crackers, light diyas and devour delicious sweets or help decorate trees, sing Christmas carols and eat rich plum-cake or even poke their heads into kitchens waiting for a serving of delicious biriyani that’s got their tummies rumbling. That is my India….not this one we seem to be turning into. Not one where I am fearful my entire opening paragraph to this post needs to be converted to the past tense. Not one where we have forgotten how to live and let live. And most definitely not one where more and more of us seem to actually care whether the person sitting next to us on a bus is a Mary or Ahmed or Radha….

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Photo credit: Here

Written for Indispire – 57 hosted on Indiblogger.in. “A lot is opposed as being ‘against Indian culture’. What is Indian culture? #IndianCulture”

Firsts

My mother has been using a very basic phone so far. It’s so basic that the ‘smartest’ feature on it is its speed dial option. The time for an upgrade was yesterday but, in spite of scouring the internet, anything remotely interesting was way out of budget. Then, I chanced upon the launch offer of the Moto E (2nd Generation) phone. As I studied the specifications (albeit with my limited knowledge of these things), I realized that the phone is like one of those cars which cost a fraction of the luxury brands and still have all the important features – in other words, it has all the things I am looking for in a new phone and won’t burn a hole in my pocket!

But, I can’t just go ahead and buy it. Ma has to use it and not just put it away until the phonecurrent box of metal and plastic dies completely. So I asked her what she wanted out of a new phone. After the usual reluctant, “No, but I don’t need a new phone…” and “What will I do with a new phone?…”, she warmed up to the idea a little and said, “Well, I want something that I won’t struggle to operate. I am comfortable with my present phone, simply because it’s so easy to use. These new phones that all of you handle look much too complicated for me.” (Now I know where the technologically challenged strand in my genetic make-up comes from…) From what I could see on the website, the Moto E is quite simple to use once you get used to the touch screen from the old phones with keypads. No complicated settings or difficult to use software. Being as good with technology as I am (read not good at all!), it looked like it would be a breeze for my mother to get used to it.

But an easy to use phone isn’t what makes a smart phone a smart phone so I asked, “What else Ma?”

“It would be nice ”, she said, “to be able to check e-mails and sign in to Facebook when I am sitting comfortably in the living room instead of having to go to the computer. The mountain and Mohammed type scenario, you know? I want to be able to get access to the internet from anywhere in the house. Plus I would like to be able to take good pictures of Adelin (my niece) and my garden whenever I feel like it and upload them instantly onto Facebook without having to transfer them to the computer first. With my present phone, the pictures are so unclear. Also, if my new phone has a front facing camera it would be even better because then I could have video calls with you when you go back to Bahrain. I’ll be able to see my new little grandchild everyday and not just when you come on holiday or if you post pictures to me.”

Having been a child who grew up in the time before Skype and IMO and other video calling apps hit the market, I saw my own grand parents only once a year and I was ever envious of my cousins who grew up close enough to see them everyday. My mother’s wistful request has made me feel emotionally compelled to get her a better phone. I checked the features on the Moto E and I found that although the cameras are no where close to the kind you would have on a high-end model, (and perhaps this is one of its only slightly disappointing features), at least with the Moto E, Ma will be able to connect to the internet on her new WiFi enabled phone and see us when we move back to Bahrain. My baby will feel more connected to everyone here too. (Bonus feature: The Moto E battery has been specially designed to make sure it lasts all day and the processor has been upgraded so that it’s faster and smoother than the earlier model so my mother won’t need to worry about running out of charge all the time. Added bonus: My child would be cooed at by so many more people! 🙂 ) Welcome to the addictive world of the internet on your phone Ma!

“Anything else Ma?”, I asked when she had been quiet for a little while. “Well…”, she said laughing, “…does this phone you have in mindMoto E (7)_620x376_7_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0 look good?” I could not help but laugh too. Of course she would want a phone that looked good! She is one of the most stylish women I know and is consistently complimented on her choice of clothes, shoes and jewellery! I said, “No problem! Check out the variety of coloured bands that you can use!”

That’s when I showed her the videos on the site.

My mother couldn’t stop smiling…

Who doesn’t hold their firsts in a special little place in their hearts? That first love, first kiss, first job, first salary or even, as it is in my case, first pregnancy related stretch marks (which made their appearance about a week ago and brought a very wide grin to my face)! So what if it’s not me making that first smart phone memory myself? It’s my mother and I can’t wait to see the delight on her face when she starts with Moto E!

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Do visit their website at http://www.startwithmotoe.com/!

Photo Credits:

Pic 1: My mothers phone.

Pic 2: Here

Lucky?

Friendship. There must be thousands of posts written about the subject and you’ve probably read a fair share of them. I know I have. I’ve even written a few posts myself. Why do I return to it then? Because when prompted to describe a time when someone or something gave me the strength to get up and move on, I can only think of events involving my friends. Sure, my family has always stood by me and offered me the best advice whenever I’ve needed it and I love them for it. But, I moved away from home when I began college. I was all of eighteen and when I didn’t have my Mama’s shoulder to cry on because she was physically in another city, it’s only because I had friends who filled that void that I survived.

I remember having contracted jaundice during the semester exams one year and I was not exactly willing to go to the hospital for a blood test (I can be a very fussy patient…preferring to just sleep till I feel better). My closest friend (to whom I have already dedicated a post which you can read here) looked after me the best she could, even feeding me when I agreed to eat while I was at the paying guest accommodation. When things became so bad and I had no choice but to be admitted, before my father could reach the hospital, she was there, helping me with my clothes and trying to make me comfortable. She showed up the next morning, before the final exam to check on me while I lay on my hospital bed hooked up to an I.V. drip! She even washed the dirty clothes I had left back in our room since I couldn’t go back there myself.

I remember going through a very rough patch personally a little later. It was shortly before I took the CA final exams for the first time and we were supposed to be attending classes regularly. Since I was crying all night and waking up with eyes so swollen I could barely see, I ended up missing a lot of those sessions. But, not only did she keep me abreast of what was happening, she actually kept me together. She would let me cry endlessly to her and on more than one occasion, I’ve seen her crying with me too.

I remember while I failed those dreaded CA final exams (which I had a feeling would happen since I had a lot on my mind), she had passed. She didn’t make me feel like the total loser I believed I was and instead just blamed it on bad luck. I know it must have been really hard, because she must have been dying to celebrate, but she waited till she thought I could handle it before she let the fireworks fly. When I flunked the second time (I am not that dull…but if you have written the CA final exams, you would know that sometimes it is just the most difficult thing to clear!), another one of my friends cried when he saw how distressed I was that I failed again.

9f441eaa571dd536e61a019382978708She is my family. But, I have other friends too…like the boy who cried with me. Those who have taken me out to have dinner with them everyday just to make sure that I always slept with a full tummy when I was alone. Friends who have come home to check on me during the office lunch break when I have fallen sick. I even have some friends who include me in their daily prayers at night!

I don’t generally consider myself lucky. I mean, I can’t remember the last time I won a prize when playing even something as silly as tambola at a party and even my palms are so lined that anyone with the slightest knowledge of palmistry has told me that I am going to have a very complicated life…so, no. I am probably not lucky in the conventional sense. But, I have the fortune of a small but simply wonderful group of friends and that probably makes me one of the luckiest people on the planet. It’s a good life. What more could I ask for?

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Written in response to in this together #together for housing.com. Their ideas seem to have tugged at my heartstrings and am sure if you check out their website, they will tug on yours too.