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Category Archives: Growing-Up

When I Grow Up….

As a child I never waited for the time when I would be an adult. When my friends were planning out their future lives, I was an active participant, but the actual growing-up part I wasn’t very keen on. Having been an adult for well over a decade now, I can say that my seven year old self was absolutely right – being an adult sucks (even though I had a really committed but extremely strict mother). I spent a few days thinking over it and this what I think is at the base of my not wanting to grow-up:

  • Public opinion – As a child you aren’t aware of or don’t care what the world around you thinks of you. Yes, there may be the occasional comment from an exasperated parent comparing you to some friend’s super obedient child, however, that’s not something you take personally. The focus at that moment is more on distracting the parent, and changing their train of thought, so you don’t get into more trouble.
  • Extreme Expectations – Yes, we do have to take responsibility and that comes with a certain amount of accountability. The difference here is as a child it’s only part of your life, but as an adult you’re rarely able to enjoy something because most acts are on the road to achieving something else. If you’re in your thirties and aren’t married, then your either ‘lost’ or working really hard on reaching some pinnacle of success that justifies your failure in settling down.    
  • Doing Nothing – Sitting alone and reading a book that you don’t have to read is considered a luxury. What happened to all the times our parents asked us to go do ‘something’ on our own. I want that undefined ‘something time’. Those hours when no one really cares what you’re doing (except if you make a major mess or it’s unsafe). Now, it’s a guilt inducing non-activity to do something undefinable. Since there’s so much we have on our to-do lists, if there’s any time spent doing nothing it means you’re slacking off. If you’re good at a sport it’s expected that you’ll, excel at it or get really fit, not just enjoy playing it for fun. If you dare to make it the latter, then it’s considered ‘me time’ and becomes a last priority thing!   
  • Wasting Time with People You ‘Don’t Like’ – It’s not cool to say ‘these are the people I want to spend time with and these people don’t make me happy’. You can do it, but it has to be PC and subtle or you end up with a the tag of ‘haughty or aloof’. It’s not done to reach out to people you like, because that makes you ‘desperate’. What about the simple act of going-up to a girl on the playground and saying ‘Hi, can we be friends?’. No reason or timing involved there. No rethinking our ‘approach strategy’ and the person approached questioning our ulterior motives.

Having said all the above, I have to add that there’s a lot of positivity out there and there are definite benefits to growing-up. (My husband prefers going to work to going to school, so obviously it’s not that same for everyone.) It’s to capture this positivity that I’ve decided to start a new experiment (this is the project I mentioned before) ‘The Escapist’. Recording and finding those no purpose moments in life through all forms of everyday fantasy daydreaming, travel, movies, books, art and aimless discussion. Join me on Escape a Little Everyday for the fun.

P.S. – I haven’t decided to actually shut down this blog, but I won’t be posting here for a while.

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2013 in Blogs and blogging, Defining Me, Growing-Up

 

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A Love Letter to My 5 Year Old

My dearest darling baby,

Happy happy fifth birthday to you (it’s actually tomorrow). I know every mother says this, but I just can’t believe that it’s already been five years, I still remember meeting you for the first time. At the same time, I can’t remember the details of my everyday life before you were born. Is it selective amnesia? I don’t know but I’m happy with this. You are the center of my universe along with your daddy, your maamu and your grandparents (you will always be our baby).

A few months back I promised myself that I’d write you a letter every year on your b’day. I want to do this for multiple reasons. One, it’s so easy to forget and I really want to remember your early years, not just the images in photos but the way you spoke, the surprising things you said and the milestones you crossed. I can’t capture all of this but I hope to create enough of a verbal image to kickstart my memory when I’m older. The second reason is, I know most mothers and daughters go through a tough period when the daughter is in her teens or early twenties and though I appreciate that this is a part of the learning process for both of us, it’ll be nice to look back on the times when you were a mummy’s baby to help me remain patient with you and myself.

Yes, we have ugly crocs. You love purple and I love pink and tangled is still your favourite movie (2 years running).

Yes, we have ugly crocs. You love purple and I love pink and Disney’s ‘Tangled’ is still your favourite movie (2 years running).

There’s a lot I want to tell you, so let me start with what’s important in life. Family and doing what you love. Yes, it sounds simple (but it’s not my darling), however, these two life factors are worth working, fighting and taking risks for. Maybe it’ll hurt more when you put all your love into a relationship and things get messed up, but if there’s real love those messed up things will get resolved over time.

Doing what you love will make you happy, I don’t know if you’ll have enough money or have a comfortable life initially, but you if you keep doing what you love you’ll eventually become the best at it and this will lead you to the life you want. How do you know what it is you love doing? Well, it’s different for different people. Some people just know right from the time they are really young and for others it takes some time to figure out, but everyone has that one thing they enjoy doing and figuring out how to make it your life’s work is the real challenge. A definite barometer on finding out if you love something is wanting to wake up and start doing it on the first day of the week, after a super fun weekend. While daddy just puts his heart and soul into whatever he’s doing, mummy took some time to find my calling. I always loved reading and writing (stories or poetry), art and travel. In my mind I was sure I would become a chartered accountant and a traditional artist who paints with oil. Things have turned out completely differently and might possibly change as I grow older (I’m not sure we really completely finish growing-up and that’s half the fun of life). Today mummy and daddy work together and mummy has written my first book and also lost interest in it and am writing my second book.

When it comes to relationships you are a child blessed with so many people who love you and that also comes with a certainty that at various points in life you’ll have to choose who you spend time with. This does not mean you love anyone less or more, it just means at a particular point in time someone needs you more. Never hesitate to make decisions after considering all the visible options, because if you are sure about why you made a decision and it’s in good faith (that means you think you did the right thing), people who love you will understand even if it doesn’t turn out great or the way you envisioned.

Now something I must tell you about your daddy. He loves us to bits and he is also highly protective and a little bit possessive of us. Even today he doesn’t mind the house being overrun with a bunch of five-year olds but he won’t send you to anyone else’s house to play unless he knows the parents really well. I understand this but foresee a few problems going forward, when you want to go for sleepovers or for a movie at night with your friends or even to college in another country. We’ll tackle those when they come but in case I’m not around (I don’t believe this will ever happen but hey! you never know), the best way to handle him will be to address his fears rather than rebelling. You may not always get your way (which is good for you character) but you will definitely get to do the important things, because at the end of the day he loves you to bits.

Now I know I’ve been rambling on a bit, however, there’s a last thing I need to discuss. It’s about being a mother. I know I’m not a conventional mommy. I work long hours (though daddy and me alternate working late to ensure that you never spend too much time away from us), I take you to movies (not with adult content obviously) and art galleries, I’ve carried you around for work for almost a year when you were too young to be left alone, we go running together and I’m not really into cooking. Despite all this I know that we have an amazing relationship and that I’d rather spend my day with you than anywhere else. Plus you’re well-adjusted and a happy child and I guess all those hours of sneaking off to the movies or painting crazy stuff in our pyjamas while eating strawberries has worked out right. I know you want a brother or sister and you’ll probably get one but only when we are sure that we won’t be taking away from the time you need with us. If this means going through the potty training stage again when I’m forty, so be it. Basically, when you become a mother (if you want to have children that is) remember that there is no perfect formula. What suits every mother and child is unique and precious. The only rule is every action should be driven by love, even if it’s anger.

At the end, baby remember that mommy and daddy love you the most in the whole world and it’ll stay that way even when you become a namnam (grandmother).

Love Mommy

Muah

P.S. – Last week you found a letter written by daddy to mommy and demanded to know where your love letter from daddy was. Well he’s written you one for your 5th birthday and it’s going under your pillow tonight.

P.P.S. – Too much nail paint always turns your fingernails yellow. Transparent is the best nail colour for hands. I love the way you laugh like you’re acting in a movie 🙂 (You know what I mean my drama queen). You are also currently crazy about rhyming words and we spend hours giggling over them.

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2013 in Family, Growing-Up, Lessons in Parenting

 

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What I’ve Learnt in 31 Years – Part 1

Yup, the title says it all. These are the lessons I want to make sure I share with my daughter and all the other children in my family.

  • While using ketchup packets, always check the direction of the tear and aim away from you while squeezing. I’m invariable wearing white or a pastel shade when I get a substantial dollop of red on me. Once the dollop’s there, don’t rub, just gently dab and you may save your outfit. I have recently discovered a bleach white stick, but seriously who carries these around
  • Most Indian elders are willing to listen to your point of view, if you precede it with something on the lines of “please forgive my ignorance on account of my age……….” in a respectful tone
  • Most dressing room mirrors at clothing stores are like the fancy ones in the house of mirrors, they elongate and narrow your frame. Don’t believe them, trust your instinct
  • Children get dirty, very dirty. A proper hot bath is the only way to get them clean. Make it a bubble bath if you don’t whining of “I’m tired/sleepy/hungry”
  • How do you know you enjoy what you do? Monday mornings are not blue, unless that’s your favourite colour

 

It’s funny but only the really small things have stuck with me. I can’t for the life of me remember anything that’s ground breaking or life changing. Hmmm………… food for though?! Maybe in the next part.

What are the life lessons you want to pass on?

 

Photo Credit: Image 1

 

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When Did I Become A Girlie Girl?

I admit it, I love pink and purple and glitter. I’m a girlie girl through and through, though I also love sport and books. So that makes me a sporty, girlie, bookworm. Okay, the discussion is not really about defining who I am, but rather how did I get to the person I am today. What’s stumped me suddenly is, when did the girlie part get into my psyche?

Growing-up I had my share of Barbie dolls, but I never really played dress-up with them. I was always a bookworm and once I started reading at the age of three, there was no looking back. In fact, my mom (who introduced me to reading, in order to make sure I never fell into the television watching vortex), made sure that my brother and I played all sorts of sports to stay healthy and fit, since the two of us spent so many hours cuddled up with our books. So there you have me from the age of three to twenty-one. Either I would be in mud/sweat-splattered shorts and t-shirt, trying to beat the heck out of my brother at table tennis, squash or basketball. Or the two of us would be bug-eyed behind our spectacles reading like there was no tomorrow. During the summers, we would roam the city, during the hottest hours of the day, picking dates of the palm trees and getting ourselves all sticky.

When it came to clothes, I always preferred trousers or jeans to skirts and frocks. My mom didn’t believe in children wearing heels or make-up, so there was no question of either. During Indian festivals, I was literally shoe-horned into feminine Indian outfits, that majorly restricted my ability to move, so i just sat in a corner with my book and refused to socialize (actually I wasn’t sulking, I just put on that demeanor so that no one interrupted my reading with their pointless adult “Oh! you’ve grow so tall”.).

I remember the first time my mom made me wear a saree, I was fourteen and I cried and cried, because everyone said I looked so pretty and lady like. I was secretly terrified that people would think me suitable marriage material (don’t ask where that came from). Matter of fact I had only two real girl friends out of school, the rest were all boys and in high-school my brother and I had a common group of friends who practically lived at the local sports club. I was also extremely clumsy and accident prone. (Okay, I’m still accident prone to a scary extent, according to the techie. That’s a separate story though.)

When I got to the eleventh grade, I did start wearing skirts and frock for parties and I quite enjoyed them. The only difference from my friends was that, I refused to wear sandals or heels. I wore only black leather boots with my dresses. The first time I actually remember wearing heels voluntarily was for my twelfth grade prom, where I wobbled around like a drunk, thought there was no alcohol present. I also did my make-up on my own, which left me looking like a ghost, or rather like I’d seen a ghost, in most of the pictures (imagine that teamed with a silver sheath dress). After that disaster, which I can laugh about now, the next time I put on make-up and heels was at my engagement, a good four years later!

Real story, I didn’t spend a minute on my wedding shopping because I deemed it was boring and unnecessary! My mom, poor thing, did all of it with the help of assorted family members and I just presented myself on the big day. How do we think we know it all at that age and how are we so selfish? (Again fodder for another post.) Sorry mommy.

So you see, while I always loved the colour pink, because it was such a happy colour, I was never a real girlie. Today, I love fashion blogs, love having an opportunity to get dressed-up (though I still hate shopping), adore cocktails rings, high heels and glittery nail polish. Chick lit and fashion magazines have been added to my bookshelves, which were already filled with Wilbur Smith and Williard Price adventures. After having a daughter who loves playing football in her tutu, the me that was ten years back seems to have gotten lost.

How did the wannabe Georgina (from Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series) morph into this wannabe yummy mommy?

Where I wonder could that messy, spectacled tomboy possibly have gone?

Have you substantially changed over the years, to an extent that you can’t reconcile your old and new self? Do share and help me figure out if this is normal.

Photo Credit: Image 1

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Posted by on September 12, 2012 in Defining Me, Dubai, Growing-Up, The Real Me

 

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Summer Dates

As I’ve often written here, I had an idyllic childhood. I am completely aware of how blessed I was to lead the kind of life Disney stories are based on, a modern equivalent of living in the Hundred Acre Wood. Unlike most other kids, I never wanted to grow-up and given a chance and a time travel machine, even today, I’d go right back to the 1980s-90s in a flash. Three aspects, in my limited opinion, probably contributed to this, as yet, unmatched state of affairs: my parent’s steadfast belief that childhood is short and should be worry free (as in adult responsibilities were not the concern of children), my brother (we adore/d each other, though we also had our separate lives) and being lucky enough to live in the beautiful city of Dubai.

Since leaving home for good at the age of 24 (when I got married) I have always had a nagging feeling of homesickness. No, that does not mean I mope around for days on end. In fact I’m a pretty happy person. The problem is when I have those rare ten minutes to myself at the end of a long day, the feeling of homesickness pops up and hits me unexpectedly. Initially, I just used to ignore it or distract myself and when it was very bad, I’d lock myself in the bathroom, cry my eyes out, freshen-up and get back to my life, taking care of everyone and everything. Now, I’ve found a new way to deal with it; I tell V stories about growing-up in Dubai with her namnam (my mom), thathu (my dad) and R (my brother). They make for great bed time stories for V, with places and people she can relate to (I occasionally throw in the values I supposedly possessed as a child). For the mommy (that’s me) , these sessions help relieve her childhood without bringing on a complete emotional breakdown.

Getting to the point, I decided to record the memories I talk to her about here, so that, she can come and read them again, if she ever wants to. Plus, when I’m old and grey, I can refresh my memory in preparation for telling my grandchildren stories (jumping a bit ahead of myself here).

Since V will be starting on her summer soon, we were discussing options and activities. That naturally brought us to our Dubai school summers in the scorching desert heat. Unlike a lot of families, my mom would never agree to go off on a long vacation with my dad just visiting us for a few weeks. Whatever we did we did as four and the same applied to our summer vacations. So this was our usual vacation format: a few weeks visiting both sides of the family, a week to ten days at some new foreign location (my parents believed that travel was the best form of education)  and a month in our very own city of Dubai.

During the four odd weeks in Dubai, we were free to roam the streets in our area drinking fresh fruit juices at Jabal Al Noor (a very popular cafeteria and juice bar); swimming or playing at our sports club; hanging out at the ice ring, local snooker joint or cinema; sneaking around Karama for bargains or haunting Lamcy or Al Ghurair (the two oldest malls) and later City Center. The difference between a summer in Dubai and any other semi-developed city was that, as you went about your summer activities, you could sustain yourself with the juiciest of dates for free!

The date palm is the national tree of the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E) and it’s grown every where. Road dividers or medians used to have lines of palm tress running down the center. So if you were waiting to cross the road, you could just pick a few of those ripe fruits and stuff your mouth, while sticking your hand out to ask cars to give you way on the zebra crossing. We used to take a short cut through Al Nasr Leisure land and pillage their date tress, which they never really reprimanded us for (sweet people). The government had only one rule with respect to all this eating of public property, you could eat your fill on the spot, even stuff your pockets with it, however, you were not allowed to cart it away in large containers of any sort. This seemed and still seems very fair and generous to me.

Dates eaten fresh and the packed ones differ so massively in taste, that initially, when I moved out of the U.A.E., I couldn’t look at a packed date (I still find it difficult to eat compressed, packed ones). The ripe ones off the tress are usually a dark pre-brown yellow with dark brown soft bits and literally are waiting to burst out of their skin. They are also massive in size, not just fat, but long and luscious. You just have to put a little bit of pressure at the base and the sweet fruit pops out of the crackly skin and straight into your mouth, bursting into an unbelievably sweet harmony of tender flesh and gooey juice. Of course,you had to search for the almost ripe ready to drop ones among the yellow partially ripened fruits (which were also pretty yummy, though a bit tougher).

See the yellow-brown ones. That's what I'm talking about.

As the city started growing and developing the number of date tress came down and I as a teenager, who was almost done with high school, didn’t really have the time to go around picking fruit off trees. In addition, the bunches of ripening dates were protected by muslin cloth bags once they started to reach the harvest stage and were not as accessible as before. Like all good things, I didn’t realise that I was not destined to live around these abundant tress my whole life or I would have eaten those dates everyday till I left Dubai.

Now when I go back I crave those sweet summer dates right off the tree, but the nearest I get is a bunch on the stem from Spinneys (our local supermarket), which to be fair are very good, though not exactly that crackly juicy fruit of my childhood. At other times, my dad orders a crate from a friend’s farm, which I fall on like a starving refugee and finish before anyone else can even think about asking me for a single piece to taste. Satiated I sit back and start telling my shocked (and slightly scared) child about the summers I used to eat this very fruit off the trees outside my home.

Maybe next year I’ll book myself into a farm in Al Ain during the date picking season. They may then just issue a nationwide ban on me the following year.

P.S. – V wants lots and lots of Dubai stories now that I have started. As I try to think up memories (is that phrase correct), let me know if there are any specific questions you have on growing up in Dubai. For my Dubai friends, let me know if there’s anything specific you remember and would like to see here.

P.P.S. – I lost the link for this picture. If anyone does find out where it’s from, please do let me know so that I can give credit where it’s due.

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2012 in Dubai, Growing-Up

 

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