Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Get off my case

Xena's dentist gave her a cute little tooth-shaped case to keep her fallen tooth. Before going to bed, she put the tooth inside and wrote this accompanying letter to the Tooth Fairy.

Obviously, the case puns are killing me.


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Looking forward... not.

The whole world is already aware of my deep love for WhatsApp forwards. That's because I don't hold back. Even if I have just met you, my next few words after 'Hello' might just be 'You know those damned WhatsApp forwards...'

As Diwali approached, my heart raced. I have been receiving Happy Diwali pictures, gifs, and videos since Monday. The count currently stands at approximately 398430577094535 messages.

I did not bother to reply to any of them immediately. Not because I'm rude (actually I am, to WhatsApp forwarders) but because I wanted to wait till the worst was over and then copy-paste 'Thank you. Happy Diwali to you and your family too." the required number of times. Do it all in one shot. Save time. I shall not stoop to the level of replying to a Diwali forward with another Diwali forward. I shall send typed out text, but because there's a limit to my patience, I shall use the life-saving copy-paste feature.

Now some forward-thinking people may argue that I should be grateful -- arre someone cares enough to send you these forwards, arre someone sends you wishes because you are in their thoughts.

Nuh-oh. I'm not in their thoughts. I'm just in their bleddy contact list. I only discovered this amazing fact last week when I asked Viv why people are sending the same Diwali gif to a WhatsApp group I'm in, and then also sending it to me individually! Why me? Itna pyaar kyun?? And then he shook that wise head of his at me and said, "They're not sending it to you. They're sending it to every contact and group in their phone. Without looking, without thinking."

What I really want to know is this: is there anyone in the world who actually likes receiving this stuff? I have not met a single person who looks forward to receiving forwards. Why then are people still sending and receiving and forwarding this stuff? Why is this even a thing?

This morning, I got a Diwali forward from a school friend of mine from 20 years ago. I sent my standard 'Thank you' text, the shock of which must have knocked him right off his chair, because he immediately sent me a 'Hey!' As text. Not a gif with the word 'Hey!' creepily making its way towards me. A simple 'Hey!' in text format. That knocked me right off my chair.

So I sent back a 'Arre wah, there is a 'Hey'? I thought there was only that Diwali forward.' He got all defensive saying at least he sent the 'Hey!' when I never sent anything at all, and then I got all defensive saying 'At least I don't send you Diwali forwards'. Finally, we both agreed that we were even, and had a proper conversation for 20 minutes. It was awesome. So fine, it may have been triggered by an idiotic forward about light and prosperity and joy and lamps and illumination, but it reiterated what I miss about conversations with my old friends. Let's talk. Let's not forward. If there's nothing to talk, then let's not talk. But let's be done with the meaningless forwards. Forwards are backward. Let's stop.

However, there is, even though it's tiny and flickering, light at the end of the tunnel (wah wah how apt for the festival of lights). Once in a while, you come across some forwards which just make life worth living again. Presenting two items below, which I believe will provide much relief to those who have been recently scarred by Diwali forwards.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Dancing to her tune

Xena - Mama, I will teach you how to dance, okay?

Me - Really? Okay!

Xena - But you have to follow the rules.

Me - What rules?

Xena - I'll write them. Wait.

[Hunts for a scrap piece of paper and starts writing; gives up midway; tells me she will come up with the last three later]

Hmm... I'm just not sure how I'll learn to dance from her if I follow rule #1. 

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Pray tell

"So he's very powerful... he lives on the Moon... and he protects us." Said Xena's friend.

Xena's jaw dropped. So did mine.

We were at a restaurant in a big group and to occupy the kids, I'd asked them to play this random game where each kid gives three clues about something/someone and the other kid has to guess what/who it is.

"I don't know..." Said Xena uncertainly. She looked at me. I didn't know either so we looked at the kid who had given the clues.

"So easy! It's Sai Baba!" She laughed.

Xena looked at me again, but this time accusingly. All she knew about the Moon (she devours the kids' Science magazine I work on) was that it was a natural satellite of the Earth and it didn't have its own light and as far as we know, has no life forms on it. And here was a 7-year-old with very advanced knowledge of a powerful dude who apparently lives on the Moon and protects us.

I blinked and nodded at her. It's code for "It's ok. We will discuss this later at home."

And what would we discuss at home? DFDR. Different Families, Different Rules. We try to talk about our choices vs others families' choices without judgement. Comes in real handy when trying to explain why she doesn't have her own iPad or isn't allowed to watch TV unlike other kids, and why we don't have a car or a helper aunty, and why we don't do puja in our house, etc. etc.

Speaking of puja, we were recently invited to a navratri puja at an Indian neighbour's place. When we reached, the kids were all sitting on the floor cross-legged in front of the idol. Every kid present there attends something known as the Bal Vikas programme. They know all sorts of bhajans and mantras (there was a 2-year-old reciting the Gayatri mantra in the cutest voice ever!). Of course, it was a little weird because Xena was the only one sitting among all the kids, not singing along. She probably sat there wondering why all these kids her age (and younger!) knew all these songs, while she only knew Coke Studio Pakistan songs. In spite of some sympathetic looks, I was neither embarrassed nor proud about that fact. I looked at her, blinked and nodded. The usual routine. "It's ok. We will discuss this later at home."

I was on the phone with Mom later, telling her about how I hardly had to cook that week because of all the navratri pujas happening at neighbour's and friend's places, and adding on to that, the free flow of kanjak food that just kept coming home. I love attending these pujas. They have such a nice, vibrant, colourful atmosphere, yummy food and a chance to meet people I haven't seen in ages, and also encounter some new faces. I love the fact and I take it as an honour that I still get invited to these things, despite the hosts knowing that I'm probably the least religious person they know. For me at least, it's a social gathering more than anything else. And of course, the big pull -- everyone wears saris. (I'd go anywhere if you tell me the dress code is a sari. Sari ke liye sala kuchh bhi karega! #sarinotsorry)

"You should also have a puja and invite them na..." Mom suggested.

"I can't, Mom. You know me."

"I know..." Mom sighed.

Mom has a puja room with idols and photos of multiple gods and goddesses, and prays to them daily. In spite of that, she has not even once tried to force me to pray or do anything religious. I'm just not sure of the gods' existence, but I do respectfully acknowledge that others are. I don't even do the "I'm not religious, I'm spiritual" thingie, for I do not know what that means. Just try to be a good person, is what I tell Xena.

When I was a kid, Mom would sometimes tell me during "tough times" (not sure if I'd get 100/100 in that exam, or that scholarship, etc.), "Pray to God and you will get it." I would look at her indignantly. NO WAY was I going to pray to God (if there is one in the first place!) to ASK for stuff when I'd never even bothered to spare a thought for Him/Her during other times.

"If I were God, I'd be mighty pissed if some kid approaches me only when she wants stuff." I'd tell her, and she'd laugh.

But then, I've always loved following customs and traditions (Need someone to go rangoli for Diwali? I'm there! Some aunty needs mehendi done for karwa chauth? Summon me at once!), but it was always to do with the 'fun' aspect of it, and never the religious one. I loved making the little Lakshmi feet at the entrance to our home with rice flour paste, not because I believed it would bring the goddess of wealth home, but because it looked SO KAYOOOOT! Even now, I selectively follow traditions and customs (let's spring-clean the house for Diwali, but not for prosperity -- for the fact that a spring-cleaned house IS SO NICE!), and once in a while, question myself on my 'na idhar ka na udhar ka' stand on religious festivities.

Sometimes I've been told that as an NRI, I need to make sure I keep Xena in touch with her roots by following Indian traditions and customs. But deep down, I feel like there has to be some meaning to it. As a DAV school product, I was well-versed in many mantras like the Gayatri mantra and the Athaishwarastutiprarthnopasna mantra (yes, that's just the name of the mantra; the mantra itself is about 7386274387642 times longer), but when I think about them, what meaning do they have -- or did they ever have -- in my life? What is their significance that would make it worth it for me to teach Xena all that?

"But you can still just have a puja na... they all have it and invite you." Mom insisted.

"Mom, can you imagine me having a puja at my place? Can you imagine me establishing idols and pictures of various gods and praying to them? Following the proper procedure of doing stuff? I hardly know which finger to use when people offer me haldi-kumkum at these pujas. My leg goes to sleep in 3 seconds if I sit cross-legged on the floor, and then I'm flicking it like a mad person in a sari. If I did a Lakshmi puja, even Lakshmi would be appalled. So many people are doing the pujas properly, faaltu ka why should I irritate Her?"

"Yeah, true..." She agreed.

"Yep, so that's that. I do follow some of the customs and traditions but only the fun ones. Can't really do the serious pujas and stuff..." I said.

"Hmmm. Yes. I know. Haan toh then just have a party." She said, with an air of finality. The total lack of judgement in her voice was palpable.

Attagirl, mommy! Love you to the Earth's natural satellite and back. :)