Messages to my dear friend, Monica, as we share our experiences of being a mother, the things we learn from our little girls, everyday and the lessons we learn from life itself.
A Blog-dialogue across continents, countries and oceans of time and space...
(We last met in 2000 A.D, in India.)

Monday, December 7, 2015

Dearest one,

Dearest one,

You are my fragile but strong,
the meaning of my song,
you make me stand up if I fall...

You are the beginning after my end,
you are the hope around the bend,
you're the one thing I prayed for, for eternity...

You're the weft to my warp,
my blunt edges made sharp...

my coarse becomes fine,
my rain and sunshine,
every curve to my line...

my intricacies turn bold,
my sand becomes gold....

The part that makes me whole,
The heart within my soul....
You complete me...

I feel blessed to be alive with one such as you.

My love...

I AM, because YOU ARE.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Mothers and Birthdays..!

My Dear, sweet Mon,

How are you?! I remembered you a lot on Sunday, your Birthday.... I wondered if you'd had a good day and how your little girl must have felt, singing 'Happy Birthday...' to you, and if you all got some time to rest and relax as a family! I wish now that I had, but I know I failed miserably in finding the tools and the time to wish you in the conventional sense. (By 'conventional' I mean 'real' of course). Let me elaborate, and please do not think that I'm trying to make excuses for my failures, I simply present the facts. Since I came to India in the beginning of the month, I have watched my daughters' delight in discovering their Motherland for the first time! They giggled and beamed when we rode in an auto-rickshaw, sampled their first pani-puri and met all their little cousins, nanimas, nanabapus, (my Faibas, Fuasahebs, Masiba and Masasaheb) and gaped at the crazy traffic and the sheer volume of people and animals in the bustling streets. Then, disaster struck and my phone just 'died' on me, leaving Dad holding the bill.... He got it repaired but that too, did not last long... (2 days). In the meanwhile, I was driving around town to make decisions like which school and which Doctor (one of my little girls developed a high temperature this week and I was worried it could be Malaria....

In the midst of all that, I paused to think of and pray for you and Preeti (Shastri), my dear girls who celebrate their Birthday this week. When I visited CEPT and met Krishna Ma'am, I could feel my voice break when she asked me how I was doing. The love and tenderness in her voice for all SID students is the reason why we flock, time and again, to the Campus, to see her and our other Professors, and seek their blessings. She is still very much the same stellar, dignified, charismatic lady we all had the good fortune to have learned from! As we SIDians celebrate our 25th Foundation Day on 2nd September 2015, I and all our friends, both present and those in absentia, will no doubt remember the uniquely important role SID played in shaping our lives. I am looking forward to attending the Foundation Day programmes with my two daughters. I will share the memories of that day with you after I return home on the 4th of September.

Hope you and your little family are all well! It is always a delight to hear from you, Mon, so keep those posts coming! As you know, when our daughters grow up, we are presented with a new set of challenges and questions in our role as mothers and fathers. Now that Shivu is almost as tall as me (just under a few inches to go!) and Rani amazes me with her ability to win hearts and touch lives, I discover that it is a long road to tread, and challenges and difficulties crop up at every step...

Well, more on those later!
Meanwhile, give my love nad hugs to your little Raina and I sign off with all my love,

Monday, August 26, 2013

Sleep problems?? No Problemo

A lot of parents who have a child with Special Needs will sigh or smile knowingly when I say that sleep is often the unavoidable casualty in the battle for survival. Often one of the first things to be affected, sleep (or the lack of it) is a 'safety valve' on the tightly lidded and often incomprehensibly dangerous pressure-cooker called EMOTIONS. I've had more than my fair share of nights with little or no sleep, being bone tired  but wide awake. In all honesty, not all of them are my daughter's fault- maybe I've programmed myself differently now.....my subconscious hovering in the REM state, placing myself perpetually 'on call' instead of plunging into a sweet, restful, dreamless state. As is often the case, a number of factors are responsible for turning me into the 3hr snooze-a-night insomniac. I go to bed like everyone else, drifting off once the kids are settled and asleep. Then, as if a faulty switch has been flipped, it all short-circuits and KAPOWWW!!... 'blinnnk' ...darkness engulfs my senses and a deep sense of confusion, anger, stress and the 'weepies'...assails my natural good-natured smiley disposition. On most nights, I sleep less than five hours.....Welcome to ZOMBIE LAND!!

Shivangi is very temperamental in her sleeping habits. If something sets her off, she will keep at it like a scratched LP that loops over and over the same groove....  up n down stairs- wee willie winkie.....
Shivangi sleeping in HER OWN bed is a miracle, especially if she stays in her own bed all night. It usually comes with a price- she will only settle after a huge tantrum, protestations of " I HATE my room"... until she realises Mummy is not going to try to talk her into sleeping in her own bed. She cries, bangs doors and generally tries to provoke a response. I guess its always a bit of a shock to her when I do not.

As anyone with kids will tell you, kids are great at playing the game 'DIVIDE AND RULE'. If she can get Dad on he side she will. She doesn't give up easily and plays to her strengths- looking for a chink in our collective armour... So we both stick together, and that confuses (and angers) her. After about ten minutes of shouting, and/or crying, pacing, mumbled grumbles and a little peeking into our room (I have to leave her to it, as 'resistance is futile'.) When she's convinced we are asleep, she sits down on the stairs near the landing and ignores her soft-toy sleep-buddy- a toy dinosaur she calls 'Rooster'. She can look into our room and thinks we are either asleep, or ignoring her; none of which is true. In truth, we converse in low-decibel whispers, our monosyllables attempting to reassure each other. soon, as if on an unspoken signal, one of us gives the other's hand a squeeze and gets up, walking towards her where she sits hugging her knees, sniffling on the landing... trying not to let her see our naked love and affection for our troubled little girl. I stay quiet. She glances up. I say nothing and, presently, she returns her gaze to the floor and contemplates her toes....

If I get it right and I let her calm down she is again willing to listen. Then it is safe to  ive her a hug like I've always wanted to. Needed to. I walk with her into her room and tell her a 'cooked-up' story...! I sometimes start feeling sleepy myself too! It's just that when she is in one of her moods, she will not listen to reason... Best thing I've done is sat/stood with her silently as she swore, ranted and cried at me, until, finally, she calmed down. Its as quick to end as milk bubbling over if left to boil unattended- a few drops of water sprinkled ,over it, an it calms down.!!

Its now early in the morning, and all three of them are asleep.... :) ALL , as Aamir Khan says, in the film '3 Idiots', IZZ WELL! So here are my top tried-and-tested tips!

I understand that no good ever comes from forcing oneself to sleep when you're not able to, just as it is sometimes really hard to keep those peepers open in the first place!!  So, I have come up with a few strategies for sleep based on my life's experiences, things I do to deal with my own insomnia and all that I have read, heard or been told.

My husband works in the day, everyday, all day. Mealtime in the evening is crucial for us- we sit together and eat as a family- something I recollect from my childhood, and loved doing. As a mum who works part-time night shifts I am, admittedly, a bit of an owl. (Not the OWL of Wise Old Owl fame, but rather the one that goes 'toowit',  'toohoo' and can't sleep much!Lol). I usually wake up very early at daybreak and wait for my husband to wake up. We chat as he eats breakfast downstairs before heading to work. It is a very quiet and peaceful time of the day (all pun intended), because the kids are still asleep in their beds. Afterwards, I get ready to make their 'Good Mornings' really good!! Since its the holidays; the last week in particular, I am trying to ease their bodies and minds into a gradual routine to get them both ready by, say, nine AM even on holidays.

Anyone with a child with or without Special Needs will agree, 'ROUTINE' is the key! I often chant in my head, Routine...routine....routine...1 There is something to be said for good old-fashioned 'fauji' training when the mind is exhausted- habit takes over...!

Time is extremely imperative, as is giving time to the kids- whether it is time to eat, play, read, run, scream or simply talk. The day you have a kid, start preparing fora lifetime of joyous changes. Just when you think things couldn't possibly get any better, or worse, the innocence of a child can blow you away. Their little babbles, their wobbly steps, every word they learn to speak/ every smile they crack, every scribble they make is forever etched in your memory and heart. So, get into the habit of giving them your undivided attention for a few hours everyday. Letting them help with household duties is also a good thing. It teaches them a lot about being self-reliant and independent. Survivors in an unforgiving world. It makes them wise,  accountable for their actions, and boosts their self-esteem to know that you trust them.

Make time to play WITH them, talk less and LISTEN more, and teach them about responsibility by being on your own best behaviour whether at home, or outside. If I yell/swear out loud when caught in a stressful situation (S once poured the entire contents of my rice jar into the drain, whilst I was having a shower, and also scattered a lot of them on the floor- rendering them useless.) I calm down and apologise to them and request the culprit to help me clear the mess up.

Sometimes its easy, a smile, a hug and a lot of jollying-them-along and we sail through breakfast as if it were a simple game of peek-a-Boo! And on other days its more harrowing than going for an interview. At such times, I prioritize, and do some damage-control. If Shivangi does not finish her breakfast and the school bus is there, I calmly tell her that she can have an extra snack in the evening.
I rely on the time their Dad is at home, and we share the responsibility of being old eagle-eyes, watching over Shiv. Her sister Rani and I make time by reading together, spending time alone and doing things that interest her- like crafts, or drawing, and we also involve Shivangi. I will be trying to make the next week is fun-filled and that the girls settle into their school routine from the 4th of September...

In all my experience as a mother, I hope the next few days of refurbishing the kids' two rooms and personalising them will make the kids feel right 'at home' in there! Especially Shivangi! Therein lies my sanity, creativity and love for them both.... Fingers Crossed!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Birthday Wishes for my sweet friend!

My Dearest Mon,
 How are you?! It really has been ages since I wrote on here, and it feels somewhat unfamiliar, somehow! But I really had to start again because I have missed you every day, and each time the kids do something clever, funny, or outright naughty! I loved sharing the posts with you and the hope, love and care your posts gave me was something I have always treasured! Your Blog- The EXTRA in the Ordinary!!  has inspired and supported me, saved and salved my emotional scratches, bruises and bumps!
You know how much it would mean to me if you could keep writing (read blogging!) along as merrily as we did before, but I do understand you might be busy these days too. so just keep those gems coming as and when you find time!

I meant to post this a few days earlier, but the kids' holidays mean I have to be ON-CALL 24X7! (a bit or ER vocab thrown-in there, as I now often work in A & E!! I Love it, its a terrific team we have here in our Hospital and I am but a humble carer. It does help that they value me on the team as I work on the days when they desperately need an extra pair of hands! As you can imagine, weekends are busy and its really "ALL HANDS ON DECK" on those days.
How are you and what are you doing these days!? How's the designing going and do you enjoy your work!! You should upload some of your terrific caricatures you used to draw! They were always smashing!!  :)
To you, I wish with all my heart, a very special Birthday, today and for every day as we are re-born everytime we experience life...
Love to Harit and Raina, and a big hug to you!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Singing our hearts out!!

Two days ago, My daughter Rani's little friend Kavinaya, asked me, "Rani's mummy, do you also sing and know Sa, Re, Ga, Ma... and I finished the rest of the sargam with her!" She was so chuffed, and beamed at me, and it felt so good that I could put a smile on her face!! My heart was touched,to put it mildly!
I have been mulling over my PURPOSE in life.. and thought about my strengths and talents and using them for something good for children everywhere.... so organising a children's/ young people's/ adults' choir from across the World and India- here in our very own Luton in the UK has been a sign from God, for me.
Rani' homework on music and our research led me to re-discover "Krishna Nee Begane" a devotional song which was made immensely popular by the talented duo- Hariharan ji and Leslie Lewis as COLONIAL COUSINS. (see link below)
I have a decent set of Keyboards from my Dad!) which I can play, a guitar (which I cannot play...yet) and a vast collection of devotional and classical children's and film (animated and others) songs that would inspire us as we start off... I will be getting in touch with Luton in Harmony and the Luton Council of Faiths, once I can organize myself and have got an idea of how many people are interested...

If anyone from across Luton or Bedfordshire is interested in joining me, please send me a message on FB. I intend to do it in the evenings or holidays and there will be no fee- the children's smiles and joy is reward enough! We want to celebrate all cultures, religions, prayers, styles of singing, whether African, South American, Asian, Classical Indian, Karnatic, or Western...
Help spread the word, you never know what it could lead....
In the meantime, make yourselves familiar with these songs (links below) and suggest some more if you like!
Depending on the feedback I get, I'd like to start at our home, and thereafter talk to the Local Community Centre...

Ishwar Allah
Krishna nee begane...baro.

Love and prayers for all,

Monday, December 3, 2012

Lessons in Love from the Children of the World....

Yesterday, I was watching my children as I and my husband Raj went about our tasks like cooking, cleaning, laundry and sorting out the home (it was our day off)  The kids played, then fought and fell-out, I had to intervene when things got out of hand with one of them hitting out at the other, who then said she kicked her back in defence and got the first one to scream uncontrollably (see what I mean!?)...
 Later, after they were in bed and peace prevailed, I was reflecting on them and their nature, my parenting and MY nature...,  That is when it hit me... Shivangi is so much like a mirror; If I am rushed, she feels rushed. If I am calm and joyous, she is the epitome of calm joyousness herself...
As my husband gets her ready with me in to mornings for the last two-three weeks, I can 'see' potential flare-up moments and diffuse them before they spark up and ignite my volatile emotions. Everyday is a learning curve.  Shivangi is a great experience! She and her sister make me aware everyday- of my good fortune. Its like being the most-loved child of God- He chooses us to have these experiences in life and it is up to us to learn from them...
Mon, you know what, I always imagine YOU -doing those special things- the little things, with Raina. Our talks over the blog-world have made me a better person and a better parent than I ever was or could have hoped to be.
One thing I witnessed when I moved to Great Britain is the politeness, the courtesy and kindness we extend to all those we come in contact with. If you make a call, the person on the other side will smile and laugh with you, and make you feel at ease straight away. PLEASE, THANK YOU and you're WELCOME come naturally. Culturally, there are many variations, but amongst my own neighbours, friends and family. I have seen Love, concern and hope at all times.
When our kitchen caught fire in 2008, and none of us was at home, neighbours alerted the fire services and TWO fire Brigades came and rescued our home and pet BLAZE from harm. Tracy, our neighbour homed our goldfish, Mr Hassan brought us cups of tea as we watched, shocked; the remains of our kitchen strewn on the front driveway. Our family was out, and I had been at work when the fateful call came. My Charge Nurse instantly let me go home, and as I cycled down the roads, I was thanking the Lord that my husband and Kids had not been home at the time.
It never crossed my mind to bemoan my fate, and feel sorry for myself. Optimism runs through my veins. It has done so since I was born, to two of the most POSITIVE people in my life- My Father and my Late Mother... Dad and Mummy would always be Fair, Just and Honest- with us and others, and their Fairness rubbed off on us kids big-time. We each had our experiences, our lives converged as children of our parents and diverged from our own roles as parents in our adulthood, but whenever we meet, we can all see and support each other's difficulties and shortcomings and I feel re-invigorated when I talk to my Sister or Brother or my many cousins and relatives. My friends at University, and work in India also keep in touch via the wonder of Facebook!
In INDIA, growing up with my family, and many many loving cousins, aunts, uncles and relatives, friends and neighbours, I recollect that WE smile at babies in India , and can start chatting with a couple of people on the opposite berth of the train, in no time. We would swap stories, anecdotes, share food and soon us kids would be friends. So much so that when it was time for either family to leave the train, it would feel as if we were saying goodbye to lifelong friends. 

A Facebook picture by The Idealist (page link)
Today, on facebook, I came across this picture.... It speaks volumes about OUR WORLD and Our 'I' ness. Selfless LOVE is the only thing that can redeem Mankind. There is not, nor should there EVER be any scope for 'negativity' in our lives. If something is going wrong, I begin to look within myself for the crossing wires which caused the 'short circuit' in the first place. If my wires are untangled, and the lines are open, God will flow through and suffuse me and mine with Love...The children of the Ubuntu signify all that should be celebrated in our humanity- our HUMAN -ness. Being HUMAN first and foremost is the most important thing in the world. 

As John Lennon once said, "When I was 5 years old, my mother told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down 'happy' They told me I didn't understand the assignment, and I told them they didn't understand life."

How does one begin to pare down years of experience, millions of influences and gigabytes of memories inside of us and re-learn the whole business of being HUMAN!!??

The answer lies in our lives. When we have a newborn child in our midst, all of us, even the cynics and pessimists begin to smile. Their tiny fingers curl around our big ones and in that first touch, we see God in their eyes. When we say a child is beautiful, we are actually seeing the  purest, barest human being there ever is. A child brings love, hope and nurturing to its family. It is the promise of a better world for them that we make, silently, to ourselves as we gaze upon their countenance.... Each child is beautiful. Each person, no matter how they are presenting themselves to you, is beautiful. Look beyond the physical and you will see the same essence, the same purity in all of God's creations.... We just need to open our eyes and look inside us... Somewhat like the Dove Real Beauty Sketches show us...(here)

Monday, November 19, 2012


Dearest Monica,
Often times, I wonder at the definition of LOVE....Love -that one simple feeling that envelops your heart when you think of someone or something that means a lot to you.... You begin to smile, your eyes light up and you lose yourself in the feeling for as long as you can! It could have been brought on by listening to the voice of a parent over a long-distance Call, your better-half giving your shoulder a squeeze in a tough situation, a tiny handclasp from your toddler, the whisper of a  memory from your childhood, or even looking at a picture from ages ago....
All this made me think of how do we know it is love!!?

Sai Baba, who we refer to as Swami in our family, always said,

"Love is- giving and forgiving,
Self is- getting and forgetting."

"START the Day with LOVE,
FILL the Day with LOVE,
SPEND the Day with LOVE,
END the day with LOVE,
This is the way to GOD."

Love is the Key

Simple, yet so hard to emulate...
Some of the best experiences in Love (as an adult) that I've been a part of, have been acquired from my memory of My Parents as parents, since I myself became a parent! My two daughters teach me a lot in their interactions with our extended family, in the way they dote on their Daddy and (If I'm lucky!) me too! I feel the urge to write and save my memories for the future- whenever I get the chance to observe them. Living with a Child is a huge responsibility- of Hope , Faith and Values. We need to teach by example, good behaviour and politeness, respect and sharing begins with us Adults and percolates down to the youngest child we may come in contact with. So, teaching and guiding them right from wrong is never easy and yes, learning from them. Children never hold back- with them, what you se is what you get...! If my seven-year-old is mad at me, she lets me know; if she loves me to pieces at another moment, she tells me so too. Kids are like mirrors; they reflect what they see, hear, experience, and live with. If they live with Love, Courage, Hope and Truth, they will be loving, courageous, hopeful and truthful too. Our job, as parents, is to be powerhouses of positive energy around them, and if we do slip up, sometimes, we can always apologise to them in a heartfelt, honest way.
My daughters are forever teaching me about LOVE. They could be in the middle of the most God-awful fight ever and I have to tear them apart but if I tell one of them off, they gang -up on me straight away!
Kids don't carry baggage of feelings, to them, living from day to day is adventure enough without the added burden of suppressed emotions. They vent it out and get it all off their chest and out of their system.
That is why, their love is so valuable, so pure and so strong and overwhelming...
Reading online, I once came across some insightful quotes from children, on what they understood of love:


A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds, "What does love mean?" The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined. See what you think:

"When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love." Rebecca - age 8

"When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth." Billy - age 4

"Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other." Karl - age 5

"Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs." Chrissy - age 6

"Love is what makes you smile when you're tired." Terri - age 4  "Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK." Danny - age 7

"Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss" Emily - age 8

"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen," Bobby - age 5

"If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate," Nikka - age 6

"There are two kinds of love. Our love. God's love. But God makes both kinds of them." Jenny - age 4

"Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it every day" Noelle - age 7

"Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well." Tommy - age 6

"During my piano recital, I was on a stage and scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore," Cindy - age 8

"My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night." Clare - Age 5

"Love is when mommy gives daddy the best piece of chicken." Elaine -age 5  "Love is when mommy sees daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford." Chris - age 8

"Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day." Mary Ann - age 4  "I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones." Lauren - age 4

"I let my big sister pick on me because my Mom says she only picks on me because she loves me. So I pick on my baby sister because I love her." Bethany - age 4

"When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you." Karen - age 7

"Love is when mommy sees daddy on the toilet and she doesn't think it's gross." Mark - age 6

"You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget." Jessica - age 8
And we think they don't notice....