I am off on a day’s bus trip with my high-school friends tomorrow. I should be in bed now, getting all the sleep I need for the utter rowdyism in store, but I can’t sleep. Am I excited? Maybe. Am I felling guilty? Maybe – the dang brain is hardwired that way.
Most of all, I think I am nervous that I don’t throw up enroute, self being the most travel sickness-prone homo sapiens sapiens to have ever walked on two legs. My family believes that I would hurl if I as much as walk fast – they may be right, I haven’t tried. I turn green when I see my husband play his driving video game on his computer. And no, I am not exaggerating.
The one downside to my city going plastic-free (or at least my household going plastic-free) is that I can’t find plastic bags to take with me to barf into tomorrow. I have warned my friends that they better bring extra clothes just in case there is some projectile regurgitation from my PIN code.
Do you know how when you were an adolescent, you had an idol, a celebrity if you will, and when you had the good fortune to come face to face with them, you had to swallow your heart that jumped to your wisdom teeth, you became extremely aware of the stomach because it was skipping between your bladder and your lungs, and someone put a mimblewimble on your tongue?
I don’t remember how I landed on Barb’s blog site many years ago. Perhaps, in the course of mindless blog hopping, I dropped in and then Barb had cast a body bind curse on visitors, and I was never allowed to leave. Since that fateful day, Barb joined the ranks of Wodehouse in my life – people to go to to laugh, especially when life is harvesting a bounty of lemons.
Barb, if you didn’t know, has been travelling to India every year with her best friends, until COVID put a damper on things. This year, she made it to my side of the country. I think I froze when I read that Barb was breathing the same pollution as me.
After much trepidation, I messaged her to ask if I could stare at her from afar (in a non-creepy way, if that were possible), when she visited the city I call home, because I knew she would have to visit my city to at least take her flight back to Glasgow.
She agreed not only to let me stare, but also say hello.
Oh those butterflies.
I have no idea what I spoke today – I know there were a lot of words that fell out of my mouth, mostly disjoint and making no sense, I am sure. Still, we chatted (I think, again, all I know was that she was talking sense) for more than an hour, until she was late to her prior appointment.
The season of festivals that starts in September with Navarathri and ends with Pongal in January is over. It makes a lot of sense that the festivities are concentrated in what is perhaps the least hot times of the year where people have the energy to celebrate rather than hyperventilate all the time with heat and sweat, as would happen soon. Of course, that does not mean that there are no festivals between Feb and Aug – those are relatively minor ones.
After much deliberation, I decided to put my face out there for the audience. Here are two videos of the Pongal celebration. The first is the sun salutation, wherein the sun is thanked for sustaining life on earth by the offering of Pongal, which we then gobble up.
The second is the third day of the Pongal festival called Kanu, in which we keep coloured rice for birds (it would take a brave or a very hungry bird to risk red and yellow coloured rice) and pray for the wellbeing of our brethren. We also chant a little thingummy that calls for interspecies breeding – it loosely translates as “I keep rice for the birds, at the wedding of the crow and the sparrow.” I seriously wonder where that came from.
To conclude, may there be bounty for everyone this year. No diseases, no discontent, and most of all, no war.
We’ve been a bit on the loose end at our temporarily empty nest. In a way, the dude and I have been like teenagers whose parents left them alone at home for the weekend. Not quite jubilant though, because adulthood sucks the joy out of things, and also because of that constant pang of missing the child who has never been away from us for more than two days at a time in the past. All that sentimental mush aside, there’s been no incentive to cook interesting meals and we’ve been resorting to eating out every alternate day.
Yesterday was a particularly hard day (for me at least) with PMS adding to the I-miss-V pathos, and the fact the kid had been down with fever over the weekend with its associated over-thought panic of “I hope it is only the temperature shock of moving from tropical paradise to arctic perdition and not an airplane-borne infection”. Unable to bear the insufferability of it all, the dude decided that I needed to calm down.
While the Sangria had its desired effect, as seen in the following inter-continental familial tete-a-tete, it also led to a significant amount of philosophising inside self’s head.
As I looked around the restobar – a bar-cum-restaurant thing popular with the upwardly mobile young in our part of the world, I saw young women in their early twenties, confident, cheerful, and with so much bindaas (no single English word can match the meaning), alone, with girl friends, with boys, drinking wine, cocktails, spirit while munching unapologetically on manga sundal in fancy cups – and in total control of their lives.
When I was in my early twenties, I was constantly fretting about what I was doing wrong, what others would judge of me, what boys would think of me (they were usually terrified of me), and how I could be better than everyone in my immediate neighbourhood. I wanted to go back in time and give myself a ringing slap and a lecture on how to stop being a colossal arse that I was. I’d tell her to stop investing so much mental real estate on other people and instead, figure out what she wanted to do, rather than doing things because others expected it of her.
I’d like to tell her that it’s ok to fail. It’s ok to not be better than other people.
That right and wrong are subjective.
That it’s ok to be by oneself and not constantly seek company.
It’s ok to flirt.
It’s ok for boys to flirt with you.
STOP EXISTING AS A REFLECTION OF OTHER PEOPLE
I am fifty now.
As I sipped the dregs of the Sangria, I wanted to slap myself in the present, and tell myself this:
Stop being a control freak.
Stop living other people’s life.
Stop worrying about what others feel.
Stop taking everything so seriously.
STOP EXISTING AS A REFLECTION OF OTHER PEOPLE.
Today the Sangria has worn off. The epiphany is fading. Hence this post so that I could at least read it to remember how it felt to be tipsy and wise.
I wish the wisdom would stay when I am sober too. Sigh.
When I first went to the US as a grad student, I was advised by all and sundry about the clothes I need to take, the documents, and what not. An uncle even advised me to stitch pockets in my underwear to keep backup money – my advice – don’t do it. What no one told me was that we had to use paper after orduring. It took a while to get used to, and I never knew I had a choice in the matter. Perhaps I didn’t in the nineties.
It’s different now.
And it even has endorsement from the offspring
I think the apple did not fall too far from the tree.
The start of the new year used to be a big deal for me until 2003. Four and a half hours before 2004 was to be born, my child was. So December 31st replaced Jan 1st as the day of celebration since.
This year, even Dec 31st was drowned in the preparations of packing the child off to UK on her term abroad. She is excited and terrified, just as I am. I wish I could be a fly in her cabin luggage.
So the year starts with much promise and potential, as it always does, but I’ve been too stupid in the past to recognise it. Something seems to have happened as I crossed the fifty threshold this past year. I am suddenly ok with time passing.
I know this year will be a mixed bag too. I hope I find the strength to pick out the gems and the ordure from the bag with the same sense of acceptance.