Friday, 20 October 2017

The right and wrong of choices #LifeLessons

"You can choose courage or you can choose comfort. You cannot have both" - Brene Brown

And it is ok to choose comfort. 

This is my first instinct when I read this quote. Not because I don't feel that choosing courage is the wrong choice, but because it is implied that one should choose courage.

Ideally, we would all choose courage and lead perfect lives. 

"Life is unfair" - such a clichè and so very true.
As true as the facts that the world is imperfect, destiny is not in our control, and that life is uncertain.
"You get what anybody gets - you get a lifetime" - Neil Gaiman

I think my instinctive reaction of 'it is ok to choose comfort' comes from my being a mother. I have spent years counseling my kids that at times, you choose what is right for you. 

Many a time I feel happier waiting rather than taking any immediate action.
And waiting takes a lot of courage.

So, yes make the choice between courage and comfort. Choose courage even. 
But decide for yourself what is courageous.
Do not let the world decide for you.

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference."

Choosing serenity over courage is not always a courageous choice. At times, it is the wise choice. 
And being wise comes from not having choices.

One of the quotes about courage that Brene Brown mentions as her own favorite is by Oprah Winfrey:
"You get in this life what you have the courage to ask for"

Choose for yourself. Do not judge others. 
What you perceive as ‘comfort’ may have been a courageous choice for them.

©Nimi Arora

Monday, 16 October 2017

Disobedience - Parenting Struggles

The basic thought of this post comes from something I read. 
Was it a quote? Was it an article? Maybe an interview? I don't remember. 
If you have read about this, and know the source, please tell me in the comments below. Thanks.

Disobedience in children is not always a problem. 
When I discuss with other mothers about the fact that 'kids don't listen', 'they never agree to anything', etc., I often repeat 'it's good to say no'.

To survive in this cruel world, it is important to be able to say 'no', to be able to disagree, to stand one's own ground.
The first place our children learn to do that is at home. With us, the poor, clueless parents.

If our children did everything we asked them to, if they never chose to stand up against us, imagine the spineless individuals they would grow up to be.

Parenting is about teaching the little monsters to balance between the (hopefully) many yeses and few nos, and to disagree without being rude.
Parenting is also about bowing down to the younger lot often enough for them to know that we consider them as individuals and not as extensions of ourselves.
After all, there is going to be disobedience anyway. 
We may, just as well, make the best of it.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Bated Breath - Flash Fiction

I don’t think I really understood the meaning of ‘Bated Breath’ before. Just as I had whispered into her ear ‘I love you’, her brother had cut into the dance. The look in his eye told me that he could sense the life-changing tension between his sister and me. I moved to the back of the room.
Our eyes met across the room. She smiled.
The brother looked around to see who she was smiling at, saw me, and scowled.
I grinned.

©Nimi Arora

Monday, 9 October 2017

A place to call home - Count Your Blessings #4

The word 'Terminal' reminds me of Tom Hanks and his long, unplanned stay at the airport... Yes, the movie, The Terminal.
The prompt, Terminal of Write Tribe Problogger challenge had me instantly thinking of the movie.

Because the movie ends on a positive note, much of the anxiety that I had felt during the movie drained off. 
That is why I love my movies (and books) to have happy endings. Tragic stories, and even more so, the ones with cliffhanger endings have me restless. The duration of the restlessness depends on how much I loved the story in question.

Back to The Terminal...
The man is without country. When I watched the movie for the first time, I thought of my grandfather telling about his experience as a refugee after the partition.
The anger was obvious in his words, even decades after the experience - "We were refugees in our own country".

What is it like to be without country, without home, without a place to go back to at night...

Another instance when I close my eyes and say a quick thanks to God, to universe.

When I wrote the first 'Count Your Blessings' post on my blog, it was because I was feeling grateful. And feeling a little guilty about feeling so.
It was about consciously putting into words the many blessings of life.

The problem I am facing now is that almost anything I start writing about ends up being a 'Count Your Blessings' post. Not how I planned it, but I am not complaining.

©Nimi Arora

Count Your Blessings...
#1 The Luxury to Mourn
#2 Pattern of our Choosing
#3 The simple times

Saturday, 7 October 2017

The simple times - Count Your Blessings #3

"Dil Dhoondta hai, phir wahi, fursat ke raat din"
(My heart yearns, once again, the leisurely nights and days)

I have always loved this song.

At one time it just meant free time - the literal meaning.

With time the meaning changed to 'me-time' - time to relax, to read, to meet friends.
Now it means a combination of these two and more.
It means the contentment of being alone... Not feeling lonely.
It means time away from negativity.
It means choosing to put myself first, sometimes.
And the possibility of wishing all of this without feeling guilty.

In that one word, 'fursat' (leisure), there are so many layers.

Things become complicated.

The good, old days of simplicity of thoughts, and the lack of worldly experience. A time when leisure could be just that - leisure.
When the possibility of there being anything more to it never crossed my mind.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Pattern of our choosing - Count Your Blessings #2

There was once a man who would design new patterns of embroidery every day. He loved his job. 
A colleague of his would embroider the same designs over and over again day after day.
The man pitied his colleague's monotonous job.

Before leaving for a week-long vacation, he convinced the boss to let the colleague take over his work for the week. The man thought he was doing his colleague a favour.
He returned from the vacation to some beautiful designs by a close-to-breakdown colleague.

Just as designing something new worked for the man, it was the repetitive task that his colleague was comfortable doing.

"Monotony is Good"

"Monotony is good"
I have repeated these words often over the last few years.

A couple of years of frequent traveling, followed by shifting house too often, and finally, a major problem in the family. For a while, it seemed that everything 'normal' I loved would be disturbed.

The unadventurous lull after all of this, and I felt thankful, which is where 'monotony is good' came in.
Every time I would feel bored, I would recite them.

This became my version of 'No news is good news'. Status quo means nothing has gone wrong.

Some of us relish adventure, others want the comfort of routines. And most of like a mixture of the two, in varying proportions.

I know people who can't stay at home through a single day. And many others who need time-off at home to get over the stress of a vacation.

The blessing is to have the life that suits your temperament.

Count Your Blessings #1 - Luxury to mourn

Saturday, 9 September 2017

To my grandparents...

I have been blessed to have known you. I wish I had said these words to you.

I would like to believe that when we, as kids, surrounded you while you told us stories of Guru Nanak Dev ji, you knew we loved you.

When you recited poetry of Shauq, and I was riveted and asked you to go slow so I could write it, you must have realized how much you meant to me.

When you shared your experience of getting married at the age of sixteen, and we wanted to understand what you had gone through, I wish I had asked more questions and have gotten to know more about you.

When you were ranting about what a foolish decision Partition had been, why didn’t we realize that your experiences will become ash with you, if we didn’t listen to them more carefully?

There are regrets, yes. But more than that there is the gratitude that I knew you.

It’s Grandparents’ Day. Over the last ten years or so, all four of you left this world.
Is there any way to make the day special for you still?

It is reminisces like these that make it special.

When I choose to live life to its’ full, it is a celebration with you.

When I strive for the balance between the worlds within and out there and know that it is practically possible, it is my salute to you.

When I know that as an old person, being alone once in a while, is not a cause to be bitter. It just means that one should relish the time with family more, it is me hoping I will be more like you when I am that age.

When ‘actions speak louder than words’ is not just a quotation, it is your caring of me that speaks even today, when you never were one to say much.

By telling my kids to respect elders, always, I share this day with you.
By sitting with family, and sharing anecdotes – inspirational and nostalgic – we make you a part of us again.
By naming our Whatsapp group, ‘Branches of Your Name’, we make you a part of our conversations.
By following your recipe of halwa to the tee, and still failing to get the taste right, I miss you more.
By folding my hands, breathing deeply (as you taught me to), I express my love for you.

I am lucky that my grandparents left me with caring memories, inspirational life stories, and lovely family.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Count Your Blessings #1 - The luxury to mourn

"Count your blessings"

I have been told this by others often in the last few months. 
I tell myself this a lot more often.

I recently wrote a poem on fear (Fear - Quadrille). It was in response to a prompt by dVerse
When I thought about writing on this subject, many things crossed my mind - from cockroaches and rats, to health issues of my family, to the plans of future, and more.

What I zeroed in upon and wrote is that my biggest fear is the words "What worse is possible?". 
A lot worse. I think the answer is a lot worse. 

Since there is so much we can't control... Is there anything that we control? Is control just an illusion?...

Anyway since there is so much that we can't control, the possibilities of what can happen are unimaginable.

When something happens that one needs to mourn, being able to take time to do so is not always possible.
Life takes over - when does it not?
Problems take over and one has to sort out stuff.

The stuff can be financial responsibilities, emotional issues of others, and much more.

The Luxury to Mourn... #CountYourBlessings

If things are enough under control that one can afford to let go of control on oneself and break down once in a while, it is a luxury.

At times what one is mourning is the difficulties which are the result of the loss of a loved one.
Being able to mourn the loss of the person, and not the material affairs... 

It is a luxury, I believe. It is a blessing.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Little Things, Big Differences

In an ideal world, Laxmi would not be sweeping the floors.
She is a smart girl about to cross the 16 year landmark in a couple of months.

The sporadic usage of English in her speech is impressive. It impresses almost everyone, because no one expects anything better from her.
A maid knowing a few words of English is wonderful. No one thinks it is in any way needed to help her to, or even expect her to improve.

‘When elders get cozy, youngers don’t put nosy’ – a crazy phrase spoken by Ajay Devgan’s character in the movie Bol Bachchan. What he was trying to convey was that youngsters should not interrupt or interfere when grown-ups are talking.
Anyway, the point is we were watching this movie where the ridiculous usage of English was part of the comedy.

Laxmi was watching also watching it with us.
“Is that what I sound like?”, she whispered to me (in Hindi). “Does everyone laugh at me behind my back? Should I stop trying to speak English?”

Laxmi used to go to school back in her village till about a year and a half back. She used to live with her grandparents there. Then her parents decided to bring her to the city with them.
Suddenly, the carefree school life was gone and she was working as domestic help.

Before she started working at our house, she had been working in the city for about six months.
At times, a random comment from her like, ‘Money is no guarantee that a person has manners’ would imply that she had some not-too-good experiences working in the city.

Once in our house, she settled in quick. Within a year, she had become an indispensible part of our household schedules. And her struggling English speech made us feel proud.

We would correct her once in a while if she made a mistake, but more often than not we are too caught up in our own lives.

When Laxmi whispered her insecurities to me, I realized that we did not expect any better from her, because she worked as a maid. It struck me how unfair it was that her broken, spattering usage of the language and her passion for wanting to improve, did not make us want to help her learn better.

At times we forget how little things can make big differences.

*  *  *

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Underage Driving in Delhi... and my problem with it

My son is 16 years old. When going to his tuition in the evening, you would see him either on a rickshaw or walking. Once in a while, I would drive in my car and drop him there.
It is unusual because almost every boy his age has a Scooty.

I don’t understand my own problems with underage driving.
I know that if a cop stops an underage driver, there could be trouble. I assume money is exchanged to solve this.
I know that God forbid, if another person is hurt by an underage driver’s vehicle, the driver (and the owner of the vehicle) would be behind bars. That’s what the law says at least.

I say that I don’t understand why I have such issues with underage driving is because these facts are known to everyone. Certainly, all the parents in my neighbourhood would know of these.
It doesn’t stop them from letting their kids drive.
My brother is younger to me. He self-learnt driving pretty early. There are stories that are exchanged over family dinners about how he took the keys and reversed the car out of the narrow parking space at a certain age, etc.
But until the day he got his driver’s license, I would not let him drive with me.
Same story as today. His friends drove. He would argue over the futility of not letting him drive. Etcetera.

I don’t think I have driven when he is with me since the day he got his license.

I don’t like driving given a choice. I drive quite a bit. Don’t usually have a choice.

Coming back to my son, he doesn’t argue with me over me not letting him drive. Most probably because I have been telling him for years now that I would not let him drive without a Driving License.
He does mention pretty often in the passing – “Going to tuitions would be easier with a scooty”, “I could have come to the market on my own for this book if I had a scooty”, and much more.

One of his friends recently asked me, “Aunty, why don’t you let him ride a scooter?”
The look in his eye told me that he already knew about my ‘unusual’ mindset.
So I gave him a smile and said, “Just be thankful that you don’t get lectures from me for riding one. You know as well as I do, how much trouble it can get you into. I pray that it doesn’t come to that ever. Now drop it.”
He smiled back.

I am so often tempted to preach to parents and kids about the risks possible.

Years back a neighbor of ours was triple riding with his friends on a bike. No helmets. And they were riding the bike on the wrong side of the road. They met with an accident and he smashed his head on the road.
He almost lost his life. Had multiple surgeries - Brain and Plastic. He never lost all the scars on his face though.

Another story I would tell people if I ever gave in to this temptation of preaching is of my father’s accident on GT Karnal road.
My father drives very safely. I have heard stories of his not-so-safe driving from his college days, but that’s another story for another blog post. I have always known him to be a careful driver.
So he was driving on GT Karnal road near Sonipat. Suddenly two guys (without helmets) came from the wrong side. They were to go to the narrow lane that lead to their village a few hundred metres after riding on this wrong side.
One of the guys died on the spot. It was my father’s driving license that kept him from getting arrested. He had to stay in Panipat for a couple of days after the accident, fought a court case for years, and was finally acquitted.

It is my fear of what if something goes wrong. It is a fear about which we can take some precautions.
And as I tell my son, it is just another two years.

Students in school uniform riding Scootys, scores of these vehicles parked outside schools, kids driving around with an arrogant dare-you-lecture-me look.

I am the one with the problem if I look around me.