Monday, July 10, 2017

The Great Eight

Like every mother before me, watching my sleeping child fills me with an insane level of love - the unlined brow, the curve of his cheek, those sweet lips and the look of sheer innocence. Of course daylight brings its own joys (and also moments of frustration/ exhaustion) - endless chatter, running commentary, questions to which I don't readily have acceptable answers, independent thinking and the growing need to make his own decisions and so very many contradictions. 

This past week my boy turned 8. Yes you read that right, E.I.G.H.T. The non stop-ness of small boy has only grown with him. He is a string bean of energy with never a dull moment while he is awake. Food is never his primary interest.  He has never been plump (or haalthy like his mother) and over the past few months he has shot up in height, now giving real beansprouts a run for their money. We had his class birthday in school with cupcakes in early June, followed closely by a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory party with 25 friends. His actual birthday is always during the summer break and we try and make it a small occasion with family or friends. 

This year we were in Singapore so he had his cousin, aunt and uncle to spoil him. On the day he woke up to a birthday banner and a compendium of 20 games. Then we spent 4+ hours wandering around Adventure Cove with a dear friend, the two of them taking on the rides without a parent shadowy following them around - every time I tried to get into the Wave pool or lazy river I was stopped with 'we can do this', 'meet us back here' 'thanks but no thanks mum'. So I listened to podcasts and kept my eye on them while they ran around like loons high on water. I finally yanked them out and made them rehydrate. We ate ice cream and then a full on dumpling fest at our favourite Din Tai Fung. I spent a lot of time in taxis ferrying children home and collecting the cake. As small as Singapore is it took a while to get from A to B to C to D and back to B again. 

I ordered his favourite cake - a strawberry shortcake from Henri Charpentier. There were Star Wars balloons and pizza and a giant Lego box as well. Singing, eating, cake devouring, watching a Star Wars movie and running around the house - it was a long afternoon/ evening!

Early in the day he told me how he was going to 'please stay up till 10pm'. I had said yes confident that he would pass out from exhaustion way before. We read a book around 9pm in the hopes of winding down and as we lay there he reminded me that none of these gifts were from V or I and that he intended to choose (Lego) wisely when we got back to Hong Kong. I kept dozing off and every time I woke back up he was just as wired, reading and chatty. Finally at 10.20pm he passed out mid sentence. I didn't last much longer either. 

He's the proud owner of a bunch of books and his first serious watch - a Swatch - all of his choosing. I can see what 8 has in store for us and frankly it seems like an interesting time lies ahead.  I'm hoping it's going to be a Great Eight year. 

Friday, June 30, 2017

Holiday Math

So far:

2 snorkeling trips
Uncountable fish and brilliant coral

No Indians of any origin except 1 family from Australia.

1 Singaporean Chinese family
1 Japanese family

Almost everyone else Aussie.

Also interestingly, there are:
6 Sophie's and 4 Oscar's
4 sets of them are brother and sister and all 4 sets have at least 1 more sibling (some more).
4 Max's
3 Kiara's

Kid has made friends with a boy called Max. So I asked him at dinner last night, how come you didn't make friends with any of the Oscars we met.

Answer: Mom, I already have a friend called Oscar.

Ok then.

Monday, June 26, 2017


I'm writing this as I sit here on a stone patio by the Pacific Ocean, listen to the waves and a 3 man Acoustic band. The lead singer has a deep rich voice with a Fijian lilt which goes well with the very strong Fijian rum cocktail in my hand. 

It's Day 2 of this edition of This Wonderful Life. And today while we jumped around in the waves and found the biggest blue-est Star Fish in the sand by us I had to pinch myself. Here I am knocking this place off my bucket list and yet it is so amazing that it would not fit in all the buckets of the world. Warm and wonderful people, delicious fresh seafood and this sea, it's clear water in many shades of blue. It's too much to process really. 

Being a resort of course it's a slice of manicured life but we can see hints of a more real world from our 4th generation Fijian  Indian driver to the little school nearby, full of brightly smiling kids for whom the shore is their playground. Tomorrow we venture out to see more. 

More sitting under this swaying palm tree to be done now. Goodnight from very close to the International Date Line. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Life on an island, under a palm tree

Day 1 to 5 of the summer vacation have this wonderful energy to them which allows us to both laze around, do 685 frenzied activities AND eat boxes of chocolate chip cookies, all at the same time. Day 6 is when I woke up and said  'how many more weeks of this have we got?'. Our house has been a hive of activity: we sorted out bookshelves/ gave away some/ bought new books, repeat for shoe shelves and cupboards, we baked cake/ muffins/ dinner rolls/ pizzas, sorted out the toys shelves/ played board games/ card games, we watched movies/ Tv shows/ podcasts, and we wandered around looking for something, anything to keep us occupied. It's been exhausting.

Today we are off on the next bit of summer. Two weeks away from home, one of them entirely at and for leisure.. Unlike the bulk of our school which 'goes home' for the summer - 2 months in Cape Cod/ Hawaii/ Korea/ Argentina etc - we don't go 'home', we live at home (for that is where my heart is). We dip in and out of our own home, a week here and a week there, back to base for swims and the comfort of our own beds and then a week or so visiting family in India. 

This afternoon we are boarding a flight for a drop in the ocean. I mean to stare at the sea and seek the meaning of life. I hope to throw my phone in the hotel safe and capture the views from behind my sunglasses instead. I intend to marvel at nature and eat slowly and read at leisure and swim in the sea and nap at length. Our week of bliss, the week that keeps us ticking along in the real world for 51 weeks till the next week away, begins today. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017


10 weeks. Yes you heard right: we have 10 weeks of summer break. Today is Day 2 and you might be forgiven for thinking this crafty mother has got it. Gone are the days when mere craft projects were enough to hold his attention. Now craft projects are done in a jiffy and the most used words in my world are 'what's next?'. I was panicking slightly on Day 0 and then I decided that with a bit of planning I could do this.

Luckily I have shelves of books, brimming craft boxes, a playroom to rival Hamleys (yes I am very ashamed to say we have way too many toys), a playground and a pool to occupy most of our time. The biggest change is that we no longer linger. And when I say 'we' I essentially mean 'him'; I can linger with the best of them. So crafts take 5 minutes (not because they are shoddy) and books are gobbled up, worlds/ castles/ zoos/ train stations/ aquariums are built and destroyed at speedy intervals, Lego is manipulated and built to suit different avatars. And when I look at the clock it's only 10am! Snacks! So playground and pool and play dates with children not yet gone on vacation are arranged. After lunch I get him to choose a DVD and I snooze and read next to his unblinking eyes. Afternoons are divided into mini excursions to supermarkets or bookshops, plant watering, board game playing and fights over the necessity of piano practice. This has been our rhythm the first two days of break. Frankly I'm exhausted.

Our summer is broken up, thankfully. We have planes to catch, beaches to lounge on, snorkelling to indulge in, family and friends to meet and one particular baby  to cuddle in the next 10 weeks. Sadly blogger and I are disagreeing on how to upload any pictures to this blog so it's only words to describe how it is all progressing. I won't be a stranger, promise.  I'm in writing mode and devoting some time to this blog and other writing arenas each day. Summer - I love you and dislike you in see saw-ing proportions. The downtime and ability to not get out of bed till 7.30am (Kid is trained to not wake me at 5.30 when he is awake) is great. The lying on floors, reading, listening to music and discussing life is great. The answers to 'what's next?' are less so. But a giant list of things to choose from has now been formulated and tacked to his wall so at the next 'what's next?' I merely point him in the right direction.

Summer, I got you. 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

A summer of this

Mom, what's for lunch?

It's 8.54, son.

We have been awake since 5.15am.

Welcome to my world.

It's a good thing he is a gorgeous 7 and 3/4ths child.

The summer stretches, at length, before us.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

You never know when it might be the last one

One of things that a new baby in the larger family and a going to G3 kid in the smaller family has brought to the forefront is that I am hitting the 'lasts' of childhood very quickly. My Kid is no longer a baby or a toddler and I'm often at the receiving  end of the 'I can do this myself, mum' argument. His gangly-ness means that even though he 'sometimes' wants to sit on my lap it is no longer comfortable for either of us and so only lasts mere moments.

I think the celebration of birthdays with parties has come to an end today. I can see a trip to the cinema and lunch at Pizza Express looming in years ahead. Acutely aware of this I watched the party this morning with a new appreciation for these 7 and 8 year olds -  the excitement and enthusiasm of games, the rush for sandwiches and as much sugary foods as will fit a plate, the singing of the birthday song and genuine joy at receiving return presents and prizes.

Here we are at the end of the day, and despite precision planning and the help of our helper, family and two high school teenagers I am exhausted. And over tired enough to be unable to nap. And as I sit here I am thrilled it went well and yet filled to the brim with melancholy for the years flown by. I am acutely aware that this is probably the last big party I will have to throw him. So many lasts, all rearing their essential, often poignant and beautiful yet ugly heads.

Silver lining was a big hug at bedtime accompanied by the words, 'You're the best, mom. Thanks for the party'. Anytime son, anytime.

Friday, June 02, 2017

The long road to 8

My problem with birthday parties is I begin way to early. My kid brings me the theme and I toss it around, look up Pinterest and plan plan plan. And then I rope in Kid and we make stuff: invitations, signs, drawings, streamers, games. We cook up prizes, plan return presents, order cake. And it's only been one week.

And so, as a result, we peak too early and by the time the party rolls around we have played it in our heads so many times that it all feels old. We hold on to RSVP's, make lists and count down weeks. I get bored and begin questioning why we are doing this. Isn't 8 too old for a party?

And finally the weekend of the party looms. Our bags of decor and games are packed, the chocolate milk is in the fridge and the sandwich bread awaits its spread. And while his mentally exhausted mother is waiting for it to be over, one little boy is totally excited. So much so that he keeps popping out of his bed to check if it's morning yet. Its infectious. It's going to be a good day.

Tomorrow it will all be over. And as in previous years I fully expect that Kid will ask 'Mom, what will do next year?'

Thursday, June 01, 2017

A new line

Biting the bullet and getting back to this, my blog.

It's been a busy few months. Things of note that come to mind in this hour before midnight and a new day:
1. I'm an aunt. Beside being an aunt to the many nieces and nephews who are children of cousins I consider to be my siblings I am now an aunt to my brothers baby boy.
2. Beside being THE highlight of 2017 this is possibly, beside the birth of my own child, the highlight of my adult life.
3. Kid is super excited that he is no longer junior-most.
4. Talking of which, Kid is about to finish up with Grade 2. I know! When did that happen? Brings to mind the adage about the days being long but the years being short (or some such I think it goes...)
5. Birthday in July; he will be 8. But as we shut down for the summer it's this Saturday that we celebrate with a party.
6. Expect to be bored over the next few days with party talk and pictures.
7. I seem to have fallen quite in love with Instagram.
8. I post on it with regularity but when I look back the pictures and blurbs seem boring and trite - as if my photojournal of life is going to be of any value to anyone but me.
9. I guess I am using it much like a blog, only quicker and more visually. Also I tag nothing.
10. But make no mistake, writing, that's my jam.

Like many times before, I'm back.

Sunday, April 09, 2017


I've been missing for a while. Or at least my words, the largest part of me, have. I can hear them, they even come all the way into my mouth. And then in conversation I stop. Instead I start to write and they wander past my wrist at speed but then they sit, fat with emotion in the palm of my hand, too stubborn to move. I'm hoping the summer will bring a thaw and live in the anticipation that an impending and full monsoon is on its way. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Definitely the wrong way round

I'm always catching up. With the blog, with other blog, with podcast, with Tv shows, with movies and with the news. This morning I was listening to an old (2016)podcast 'This American Life' podcast titled 'One Last thing before I go'. The first act of it is the story of this old phone box that a man in Japan put in his garden. And how so many people come and talk to their loved ones - lost and dead in the Tsunami. The next story is of brothers, 80 and 85 years old, creating some semblance of a relationship after more than 20 years of not speaking over disagreements and imagined slights. It was a sobering episode to say the least. 

As this year has begun I have been thinking a lot about death, life and everything in between. From images of small children dying of malnutrition and people escaping across treacherous seas from unimaginable dangers to my own family and those of my friends. The world is in sure meltdown and the only way to wake up and not want to curl right back under my duvet is to see V and Kid smile and get on with the business of living, of chatting with my parents and siblings and loading up on the teaming mass of friends and family on various social media. 

There was new life last year with friends having babies and getting pregnant against medical odds. So the Circle of human life continues. With older people giving up gracefully and often fighting the good fight. But equally in the last month of the year it showed us about the blatant unfairness of it all. The absolute waste for we have lost a very young soul, the daughter of very dear friends of my parents. A woman just a few years younger than me; mum to two littlies, wife and beloved daughter to her wonderful parents. It's the situation that no parent ever wants to be in. The stuff of my nightmares is losing my child. It's unimaginable and I am heartbroken for them. In time they will learn to cope with the pain and she will live on in her children and the hearts and minds of everyone around her. But it is not on, nor fair and not right. 

Considering it's the most hopeful month of the year, January, when everything is meant to show promise, it is not that at all. It's hard for me at the moment to find solace in the phrase 'live in the moment' and 'que sera sera' even though I know that's good advice. Off to recharge my batteries with the love only my parents and brother can give me. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017


Seeing as I haven't written for months I'm guessing some kind of explanation is due. Also as we are well into the new year I should be wishing everyone a Happy New Year. But there are no explanations and those words ring false to me at the moment. The reality is that I am struggling to balance the hope for good things that the new year brings with the loss of my last Grandparent just 6 days into the year. 

As I wrote last year, my wonderful Nani had Alzheimer's. In August she was hospitalised and I came to Calcutta to see her. She had no clear memory of me but with a lot of prompting from my mum and mama she remembered both my name and our connection. Even at her fuzziest she always began our meetings with the words 'Hello, darling' while she established who I was and how we were related. Having used those words in greeting for me as far back as I can remember I felt as loved by her this August as through my entire life. 

Loss is not easy. 2016 was tough - both being a world citizen looked less attractive and watching a few friends lose parents was hard. It was a year when my Nani's memories turned further back into her own youth, leaving behind much of the present and past 60 years. Looping language and confusion over time of day and what was going on left this once vibrant person a shell of themselves. And all the illnesses of old age left their marks on her body. 

And last Friday, the 6th of January, she slipped away after a rough time in the weeks before. I joined my parents, brother, mama (uncle), maiji (aunt) and cousin for her cremation and immersion on Saturday morning. We worked through our sadness in different ways, some stoically, some with tearful outbursts, all with pain. My lovely in laws gave me their home and attention and joined us to commiserate and console. 

Back in the real world now with school and office and life moving on at breakneck speed, entirely oblivious to our loss. Mingled with the knowledge that she is free of her confusion and pain is our very real pain at the loss of her physical presence of her soft cheeks and kind eyes. So yes, we know this is better and no, that doesn't make it easier. 

My way of coping is thinking of it as a better place - taking her spot on that lovely heavenly sofa, once again beside the love of her life, my nana. Joining in conversations with my other grandparents and all the people that loved her so. I can't yet fully talk about her and all the wonderful ways she enriched my life. My Nani - loved immensely and missed intensely.