Saturday, October 21, 2017

Out

Busiest day of the week - big school festival. Volunteered in various posts from 9-4 including set up and take down. I complain about this being exhausting but I really and truly enjoy it - working with other interesting parents and seeing the delighted faces of little kids is wonderful.

Home and having a quick break before we head to the last Diwali party of the season. I don’t have much energy to chat with anyone but I’ll do my best to dress up and play the part. More new and potentially interesting people to spend a Saturday evening with. Thank goodness it’s a Sunday tomorrow and we have a drop off party in the evening, leaving us with a few hours to socialise with friends. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

A Diwali fog

So yesterday passed. In a bit of a fog for me. My mum and I shared a little FaceTime cry. I’m not sure we felt better but we certainly felt more together....I’m afraid for both of us we seem surrounded by husbands and siblings and children who either don’t quite show their emotions or did not notice or think to ask how she/ any of us was doing. Such a shame that this is the case, that we can’t talk about this or have our sadness acknowledged. I fear that I don’t have the energy to change any of this even though I am disappointed in particular by some of it.

The day was busy with school related things and then in the afternoon I and Kid made a paper peacock and diyas to put outside our door in place of a kollum/ rangoli. We soaked wicks in oil and filled our tea lights. We polished our silver from our temple and cleaned up as much as we could. Come evening we got dressed and said our prayers. Then we joined 25 Indian families for a well planned  dinner get together at our Clubhouse. The kids (and I!) played tambola. Neither Kid nor I won anything - we do not have Nik’s luck! But we had a grand time chatting with our neighbours and taking pictures of all the dressed up folk. Before we knew it Diwali was over. 

I went to bed and dreamed of my Nani. I love you my darling, she said to me. And we drank a glass of nimbu-pani each. I woke up with a smile on my face. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Diwali deed

Today is Diwali. And I will say only two things:

1. Happy Diwali. May it be bright and bountiful.

2. This is my Diwali lesson: focus on someone beside yourselves. Think about other people. Be kind. Think how you would feel if (or when)  someone treats you poorly. Think about how it would feel if your kids treated you like you treated your folks. If you can honestly say that you treat your folks well, you are gold. If not, pick up a phone, go visit your parents, share a meal, give them hugs and think of the loneliness of old age and pray you will never feel that way. For old age is coming to us all. Be kind. It only has rewards.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Channeling the mind

Tomorrow is Diwali. 

Today I hosted a monthly pot luck group that I am part of. I totally outsourced things because I just don’t have the time to make stuff from scratch at the moment. I had multiple meetings at school for various committees I serve on. We have a big school and community wide festival this Saturday and it is all very busy. I managed to decorate the table with tea lights and a few Indian accents - embroidered runner, block printed napkins, an ashtamangalam. We had lots of last minute drop outs but it was fun. And delicious. 

Tomorrow also has lots of things going on including a diwali dinner with other Indian families in our building. But all I can think about is my Nani. And all I want to do is get under the covers and cry. I feel full of tears and I’m missing her so terribly. I can’t even imagine what my mum and mama are feeling. I suspect we are all holding in our grief and trying so very hard to keep up the good front. After all this year we are so very happy to have a new baby in our family. It’s his first Diwali, his parents first Diwali with him etc. It’s a conundrum, dealing with the grief and happiness all at once. A crazy maze with impossible paths and no way out. I feel like I am barrelling ahead with lots of energy to avoid thinking or talking or crying about losing her. I’m not sure how I will get through tomorrow. Or how any of us will.

Tomorrow is Diwali. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Filler day

If I tell you about my crazy day you will instantly forgive me for this filler and send me a big box of chocolate truffles. 

Had an early morning school meeting which began at 8.15 and didn’t finish till 11.45. Rushed home, ate a quick lunch and cooked a chicken curry I had previously marinated. Then I went to meet family friends (of V’s family) visiting from Australia. Gave them lots of tourist like advice, sent some of them off to Tian Tan Buddha and brought home the two elderly’s - a Nani and a Dadi. Got home to supervise Kid’s homework (of which there was way too much today) and listened to ‘today at school stories’ while organizing tea and snacks and conducting small talk with the two ladies. Then dropped Kid off to tennis and stayed for about 10 minutes. Came up and continued the conversation while cooking a side dish (methi-aloo; fenugreek leaves- potatoes) and setting the table. Supervised Kid’s dinner and got through the reading portion of homework before shower and teeth routine. Did our prayers for Dhanteras and tucked him into bed. The rest of the family (and a very late V) all showed up. Got dinner on the table and sat and chatted through it. We didn’t have enough potatoes but hey it is what it is. 

They’ve all left and the house is all tidied up and the dishwasher is loaded up. I’m now watching ‘Better Things’ and eating sweet things (kaju barfi).

Monday, October 16, 2017

Too busy a week


This is one of those weeks when everything is smooshed up against each other; appointments, committee meetings, parties, celebrations, dinners, house guests, after school activities, festivals  and more. I couldn’t be busier if I tried. 

I have so much going on that I have had to resort to paper and mobile lists all at once. Also timers and calendar reminders and post it notes around the house. I feel like I might forget something and that would bring it all crashing down like dominos. It’s all a bit little crazy and I’m really using my meditation app to keep me from going cuckoo! On that note I’m off to bed. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Indoor kind of day

Typhoon 8 signal today has meant a Sunday cooped up at home. One of us went to the gym, the other took the Kid to the playroom for an impromptu play date with other stir crazy children and parents. I’ve taken delivery of Indian groceries, cleaned out one single unloved cupboard, nearly finished my book, cooked lunch and listened to lots of music. 

Drove down to our local plaza which seemed angled away from the strong winds. Local burger joint remains shut and so we got some groceries and headed home to rustle up some dinner. 

I’d have said it was a lovely day but the honest truth is that we all had a version of cabin fever. Everyone wanted different music, no one wanted headphones. No one could agree on what to eat for lunch so it was fraught with a meltdown (that might have been me). This was not alleviated in the evening thanks to the closed burger joint. Some of us had work to do and did it reluctantly. Some of us wanted the balcony door open inspite if the crazy wind. Others wanted the aircon. 

In short I’m glad this day is over....

Saturday, October 14, 2017

I kid you not

Why are small children such absolute gits? 

As a stay at home parent I have the ‘job’ of doing stuff with my kid. This week alone I have collected him from Kung Fu, watched a long hour and a half of tennis, clapped at a 45 minute swim lesson, hosted a play date and multiple times to the playground, made and sat at every post-school snack and dinner, made sure homework is done, asked creatively (thanks supermoms 🙄) about his day at school, read 10,000 books (many for the 10,000th time) and played at least 15 card/ creative/ board games, tucked him into bed every night and supported many other intangible moments. And yes I know, all moms do this, do more, are better than me, I’m no prize, I signed up for this blah blah blah.

Then yesterday when I decide to go out for a meal with a few friends on a Friday night all I hear is the whole ‘why are you going out AGAIN?’ speech and tears combo. I took this as a sign of love and the fact that he would miss me but I went anyway. He was fine (of course - he got screen time), delighted to see dad who waltzed in 3 minutes before his eyes closed later at night.

This morning V has woken up with a sore throat (and displaying all symptoms of man-flu) so I said I would take Kid to Basketball. All I have got is this: ‘Noooooooooo, I want to go only with dad. He is so much fun.’

So now I am sulking and feeling sorry for myself at Basketball. 

Boo.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Avocado obsession

I am obsessed by avocados. You guys have no idea. I’d like avocados in guacamole, on toast, as part of a cucumber salad, on a bagel, with a fried egg, in my salmon sashimi.

I buy them unripe and try and guess when they will be perfectly ripe. I put them a bowl and move them around the house looking for the perfect patch of sunlight to help them ripen. And ‘almost’ everyone in my house loves them as much as I do. The one person who doesn’t, calls them ‘abocados’ and that’s your clue.

This is such a poor showing of a post but I couldn’t think of anything else to write and thought I’d document my deep love for this fruit.

And I have nothing more to add today. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Enriching parents 2 hours at a time

Today I am at a ‘Parent Enrichment’ class hosted by our school. It’s a series of 6 sessions, run buy the Counsellors and free for 15 parents to sign up. I did a similar course a few years ago and found it pretty useful to identify the ways of parenting that no one tells you about. To think before I speak. To find a voice I am comfortable with. 

Parenting: it’s that minefield where blogs and books and anecdotal evidence only go as far as ones own doorstep. Enter that doorway and it is a variety of mind sets and personalities. Individual and intricate situations that one can tackle and  hope that all our efforts at this game are not for naught. 

Here is the rub: you can watch your parents parent you, you can watch how your friends parents parented them, you can watch your peers parent their kids, you can read every book known to man and every piece of advice online. But, when it comes down to it, you can only do what works for you. And that my friends is parenting - a hill full of holes and tantrums and arguments and cooperation and moments that feel like a win and caves of emptiness and guilt. It’s all a lesson in the fact that there are no perfect kids and no perfect parents and everyone is stumbling about this hill blind and hoping to come to rest on a rock that bears some semblance to what might be appropriate or useful..

This here class, it’s 2 hours and 15 parents worth of lessons and guided discussions. We are all looking for strategies, methods and pointers in dealing with the many many dilemmas that being a parent involves. Tone, active listening, body language, cooperation yada yada yada. We nod knowingly; we’ve heard it, we intrinsically know most of it, we just don’t seem to consistently apply it. This class should help us focus a bit more. Everyone here has a problem, a parenting style they struggle with, a partner that disciplines in a different way to them, an overwhelming feeling of needing to change something and somewhat a sense of failing their children. And no matter who tells you you are a good parent, that’s the kind of test which you feel you cannot score top marks at and which always makes us compare our marks to others. 

These here are my people. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Winners at Life Lottery

I think at some unspoken (yet lived) level my brother and I always knew that our family was not in any way wealthy. That we were by all societal measures, ‘middle class’ at best. It didn’t bother us - after all we lived surrounded by people just like us; we all wore hand me downs, we all had hot meals and we all played happily with used toys and secondhand books. And yet we went to good schools and our parents were pretty involved in our everyday lives. 

I think we, my brother and I,  saw the same things but reacted to them in entirely different ways. We wanted different things from life. We persued relationships with our families and friends entirely independent from each other. We definitely valued things and experiences differently from each other. Neither wrong, neither right, both still true.

However this knowledge of what I grew up with only morphed into a conscious actual value (or maybe you could call it a lesson) as a young adult - I think I was around 22. It was the realisation that our family may not have been wealthy but that our privilege was measured on a entirely different scale. It included a wealth of books and music and the knowledge that our parents always had our backs. It was that conversations, caring and kindness counted for more than coins. It was that an education was more than the marks we got.  It was that money could buy you stuff but that it was our attitude to stuff and many other intangibles that brought you happiness. It was that any and all travel - whether to the local park or stuffed into an old maroon Contessa (affectionately called ‘Boat’) to see the Taj Mahal - was an experience to be feasted on. It was that all these relationships - in our nuclear family and our wider family - were treasured and that we were loved beyond measure. Without a doubt we had an upbringing of privilege.

I think my brother and I took different lessons from our upbringing. It may just be the age old genetic difference of gender. It might be the age difference and what older siblings shield younger siblings from or what independent paths siblings forge depending on their generations. Our upbringings are reflected in the way we greet the world, how we chose partners, what we study, how we treat our friends and families, how we bring up our own children, what we tolerate and what we idealise. And although we have taken different paths and may not always agree with with what the other might be doing we hold those words and thoughts at bay - the privilege of our sibling-ness wins above all.

Life is a lottery and without ever being told this I knew that somehow I had won it. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Flat-ish

Today is that day. I have nothing to write in particular and so I thought I’d do a random list:

Book I’m reading: Licks of Love by John Updike (old but gold)

TV I’m enjoying: Dr. Foster 2 and The Good Fight (on demand and recorded)

YouTube: Last week tonight with John Oliver (always funny)

Breakfast: Idli’s with malagapodi

Lunch: Leftover rice and Kadhi

Dinner (plan): Veggie Thai curry and spring rolls (we have a guest)

Birthdays: my awesome pal N, who used to read this blog - if you still do ‘Hi’ and happy to you lovely smiley girl!

Tomorrow I’ll think of something a bit more complex to write about. Promise.


Monday, October 09, 2017

Planting memories

This may be repetition because this blog has been around for so long. It’s the story of my not green thumbs and a memory.

One of my most vivid memories of my childhood is a day when my mother received a letter from my father informing her that he was fine but had been mugged in the African city he was in. The look on my mums face and the delicate way in which she shared that news with me is imprinted in my brain. The same night we were scheduled to join some friends for a midnight picnic. This was in the safe old days of the early 80s and there were 10-15 families in the enterprise so a woman with just her two kids would have safety in numbers. I don’t remember how we got there but that night we were in  Lodhi Gardens, the laughter of families, picnic rugs and a feast at the ready. There were lots of older kids to watch the younger ones and I had a great time despite my worry about my parents. I remember thinking how unfair it was that we were all having so much fun and how big and untouched all these plants were when my dad could be hurt and my mum definitely was. I surreptitiously stomped on and pulled at lthe grass and plucked flowers and leaves - trying to hurt something else to pass  along my confusion. We picnic’d in the cool swaying night breeze and I brought home the smallest bit of a cactus plant and the memory of my mothers worried face as her friends tried to reassure her that my dad would be fine. 

That cactus plant is the only thing I have ever managed to grow. It was in a small pot for a long time and as it grew it moved to a larger one before finding a spot in the garden where it took on tree like proportions and had to eventually be disposed off for being a hazard.

Forward to many years later and it’s been proven without a doubt that the cactus only grew because of its inherent sturdiness. It had nothing to do with me; in fact it grew in spite of me. And from my teens and into adulthood I have tried everything from money plants to chillies and tomatoes to succulents and they always show promise but eventually perish. I’ve learnt the hard way to leave the growing of things to V and my helper J who are successfully growing herbs and succulents (I didn’t know I could drown them) and big flowering plants on my balcony. None of the work, all of the joy. 

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Fasting, Feasting (or a version of)

Look away now if you are sorely against the celebration of Karvachauth and going to be all Judgey - Judgerson about women who still keep up this practice. 

I am one of those women. In my mind I justify it by melding what I think of as modern values with traditional practice. And so today is a day when I am fasting.

My version is my own. I woke up at 5am and drank a bottle of water and went back to bed. Slow day of pottering around the house, watching Restoration Man and taking naps. I’m intensely private about spirituality and prayer and so by choice and design I don’t do my evening prayers with friends or family. I think this might have been different if I lived in India but my entire married life has been elsewhere and so I’ve adapted to what worked for me, for us. Tonight I will do a simplified version of the prayers, count my many blessings and eat a simple meal of my favourite foods. I save the rich festive meal for Diwali. 

V used to keep this fast with me for many years but after Kid came along he spends the day entertaining him so I can get a break - today they went on a long hike and this afternoon they are off to look at the Lego shop and mosey around the shops.

I am privileged and blessed in many many ways but none more so than in the choice of person I married. It may seem like superstitious codswallop to keep a fast for someone but I prefer to think of it as thanksgiving for what is the most fruitful partnership of my life. Luckily, in the scheme of things I found that I have no one to answer to but myself. And so it continues.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

To take action

Things I wish I could change or rather things I could definitely change if I moved my butt or unfroze from an internal paralysis:

1. Finding a job. It’s been 6 years. I’ve loved the un-adulterated time I’ve had with Kid but really it was time to go back to something/ anything about a year ago. And I know this is for the best because one day in the not so far future he will be at college and I cannot (or rather, should not) remain on my day bed watching excellent TV. 
1a. I have an updated CV - I’m just not sure what I want to do. Definitely not a business because that is not my thing - I’d never leave my house and my pyjamas would be my work wardrobe. 

2. Get some family pictures taken. V is not a fan of the idea of professional pictures. Heck he won’t even take pictures on his phone except of Kid and even those fleetingly. He is a great one for ‘savouring the moment and saving it in our minds’. I swear we’d have no photographs of our family if it weren’t for me and my iPhone. I wish I had one picture of myself that I truly liked. And even better one of the 3 of us in which I looked less like a photo bomber and more like I belonged. 
2a. And actually more than V, Kid and I, I wish I’d get organised and get some proper professional pictures of my parents taken. Possibly with me in them. 

3. Buy a new wardrobe; tame an old one. I’ll address the weight thing in detail in another post but suffice to say this is something I want to carefully consider now that the charm of my face is waning. What is with the forties that they take away that ‘freshness’? No fair. I want to find and organise beautiful clothes so that for any occasion I’m looking less like an unkempt pumpkin and more like I made an effort. Diwali and a wedding to attend winter have really bought this to the fore. It’s a huge mental leap more than anything - but one I really need to get my head around. I have a cupboard of things that do not work for weather, body shape, age and it’s about time I consider this gift to myself.

Friday, October 06, 2017

How do I?

When I first began blogging Blogspot was all the rage. But like all technology that becomes passé or old before it settles blogger seems to be a thing of the past. I want to save my many years of writing and move it over to another place and continue blogging. I don’t want to buy a domain - I just want a similar platform and the know how to move this all over. Is this possible? And if the answer is yes how  do I do this? 

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Impossible endless rabbit holes

A public holiday. Woke up and unearthly o’clock. Pushed myself to go for my once a week exercise class - yoga. S ubsequently have done nothing beside put together a very basic lunch (tuna salad for the adults, tuna quesadillas for Kid) and watch a lot of TV: Incredibles (with Kid) and lots of recorded shows. 

House looks like a tornado has hit it. Cushions are nowhere to be seen - I hear they are subbing as cages for stuffed animals. V sorted out a drawer full of papers and has left piles of papers to be filed. The dining table is covered in stuff - and a lot of it is mine: Books, stationery, presents, papers and just s.t.u.f.f. It seems impossible to keep this house tidy. It was my plan today to tackle some of this - taking pictures of things to give away to post, putting things in their place and figuring out how much I actually use and need to keep. It’s like IKEA all over again - Im always surrounded by stuff I don’t necessarily need but always always want.I feel like I’m always sorting stuff out and yet the piles of things we own have no end. I wish I could do a minimalist challenge - giving away the bulk of our things, like a 100 day challenge. But then I sit down on the day bed with a cup of tea and all thoughts of tidying and sorting vanish.

Thankfully, tomorrow is another day.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Quick day

One of those days when time got away. It’s Fall break and mid autumn festival at the moment. You would think we would all be able to sleep in and laze about. Unfortunately the moment a holiday is declared my child takes it as a personal challenge to wake up before 6.15am. He then proceeds to turn on the cartoon channel or hunt for Lego/ cubboro/ Nerf YouTube videos. All of this at top volume - because why should we all miss out on the fun. 

Anyway, today there was cartoons and breakfast and some reading before swim class and pool fool around. Then we made fish tacos and demolished cake leftovers. Post noon in an effort to distract him from the Telly we had a hebba, hot wheels, cuboro, board and card game marathon. Sent him off for an impromptu play date at a friends place so I could organise dinner and plan something’s for tomorrow (which is a public holiday here). Got him through dinner and his bedtime routine before leaving for dinner with V and a couple of couples. Have just rolled home full of delicious Lebanese food and interesting conversations.

And just minutes to midnight before failing at writings something anything on this blog within days of beginning this challenge. Phew!  

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

The everyday conundrum

The world has become so hard to fathom. Maybe not having 24 hour news coming at us from all social media channels means we were just blind to the ways of the world. But I suspect that that is not the case. It’s really a crueler world. The big drama of hurricanes and floods and droughts. The river of people removed from their homes by hatred and political machinations and seeking refuge wherever they can. The situation in which a person thinks it’s ok to take a gun and spray it into a crowd. The governments who use political posturing to keep its citizens and neighbours quaking in their boots. It all seems dark and inhumane and without hope. 

And yet we must find a way to keep going. To get through our days and teach ourselves and our children to make wise choices, gentle overtures and lead with kindness. It seems an almost impossible situation. I feel like we are working every day in some way to keep hope alive no matter how hopeless it all looks. It’s so hard to see the outcomes of small individual steps or even collectively as a family. It’s nearly impossible to see how the use of reusable bags or removing cling film will save the oceans. Or how disallowing nerf guns or violent video games will make our child less likely to choose violence or be safe from the violence of others. Every choice is fraught with options and judgements from others who choose a different path. And yet life is a road on which we daily have to choose which fork to take. And so we do, blinded by our own whims fancies and contexts.

I find that my days and nights are filled with worry about the state of the world or overwhelmed by the impossibility of it all. I’ve taken to a short time of daily meditation to try and clear my mind from the clouding of the state of the world. To try and focus on the fact that in everyday life we have choices that are smaller than a drop in the ocean but worthy nonetheless. After all what do have to give our child beside the overarching hope that he will be choose to be kind and in return be the recipient of kindness in an ever more cut throat world. Parenting includes the drama of everyday and the sharing of world problems for background.

Monday, October 02, 2017

A long summer


It’s so hard to come back to a blog where the months have been a big black hole. I want to start at the beginning but really I don’t quite know what or where that is. So I’ll just start where I can and hope my words make sense.

The summer vacation was 10 weeks this year (up from 9) to accommodate a switch over of campuses at school. I wrote briefly about our beach vacation. It was in spectacular Fiji and was really the kind of vacation that is likely to stay with us for a time to come. 

We then celebrated his 8th birthday (again and again) in Singapore with family and friends and had some fun times reminiscing about our lives there. It was back to Hong Kong after that for 2+ weeks and this really was quite marvelous for Kid and I. V was already back at work and putting in the hours. We on the other hand woke up late, ate cereal while watching cartoons and generally aimed to do one or two things a day - so a play date or a swim or a movie or a bookshop excursion or a hike or a tram ride or museum visit or dinner with V after work. Our days were slow and un-rushed and we read, coloured, cooked and ate a lot. 

Before we knew it August was here and we went to Delhi to see my parents and brother/ sil and his new baby. What was meant to be a 2 week relax in Delhi where I dreamed of doing everything slowly and sitting and playing with the baby, was anything but. After a couple of days in Delhi Kid and I made a whirlwind 3 day trip to Chennai so I could finish some work, meet both aunts, cousins, niece and nephew. Another few days in Delhi and then we joined V in Mumbai for 3 days to visit his family. Kid was delighted to be reunited with Cousin P whom he had just seen in Singapore. Then it was back to Delhi for just 4 days before heading back to HK. And in those 4 days we couldn’t play with baby because he had a cold and his new parents and doctor thought it best he not be touched by outside hands. Instead we had long lunches with my parents and met a cousin and a friend at leisure. It was lovely but also exhausting. I felt drained by the time I got on the plane home - both physically and mentally. 

I got home and within hours had a cold and fever and stayed in bed for nearly 2 days. Then we had a day of everyone feeling fine. On the Tuesday Kid complained of a headache (he’s never had one so my antenna re meningitis immediately sprang up). Then during lunch he said his tummy hurt (something he says regularly in India but is usually short lived while he adjusts to the very different food) and halfway through lunch he puked. That was it. He showered and went to bed and woke up a few hours later puking and with a fever. The puking wouldn’t stop and at 11pm we took him to the ER. The doctor said it was definitely not meningitis and instead probably a virus but gave him a shot to stop the puking anyway. It didn’t work. He puked on the way home and again at home. He finally slept fitfully for about 4 hours. 

And so it went for 3 days. His pediatrician whom we visited the next day said he’d just have to get it out of  his system one way or another. So he slept great swathes with the help of pain killers, ate nothing and puked out whatever virus it was. He tried an ice lolly and a cracker on day 3. On day 4 he was better, the fever was gone and he managed to keep down banana, rice and a cracker. But he had lost over 3 kilos in the process. 

Luckily we still had nearly 1.5 weeks before school began. And so it was the slow recovery, increasing what he could eat and trying to hold back (unsuccessfully) an 8 year old from playing wildly for hours with friends who were beginning to trickle in after a summer away. 

And in what was simultaneously as slow as drip coffee and as fast as a rapid the summer was over. Beside that bout of illness and the exhaustion of so many cities/ countries it was pretty awesome. Every year I say we should do less, park ourselves in one place, not visit multiple places and every year that turns out to be a big Fail/ Win. I’m happy to be home though now and have resisted going anywhere this Fall break (India - where V is for a few days. Chengdu - to see pandas and the LeShan Buddha. V was trying to talk me into both). Instead Kid and I are chilling. And I am trying to breathe life back into this here blog.