Category Archives: Family

That which remains

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Memories are always cherished. They are the only thing of your loved ones that remain long after they are gone. Still why is it that, after a period of time, we wish we had more memories of people we care about? How is it that our parents have a long list of memories from our childhood, and none from our recent past? Why is it that we end up having to think hard to relive a memory of our time with our parents?

Memories are moments of life which survive the test the time. For moments to survive, they need to have occurred in the first place. Having said that, moments do not occur, they transpire over time. You realize moments, a while after you have lived them. The key here is the time factor. Unless you “live” them, you wouldn’t realize your moments. Unless you have your moments, you won’t have the joy of memories.

I was thinking about ways we could fill our lives and our parents’ with memories, and here is a list of things which would add joy to our time with parents.

Be a part of their activities:

Parents have their own set of activities revolving around their interests. Your mom might prefer going to a nearby temple, over dining out. Your dad might like taking a walk to the neighborhood market or enjoy the simple joys of working on a crossword or a soduku. It may bring a smile to their faces, when you volunteer to be part of these day to day activities of theirs. The small time spent with them, doing things which they love to do, can surprise you with happiness which you may never look for in these activities.

Include them in your activities:

You could just be watching TV on a Sunday, [Yes,  watching TV is an activity, even though my wife disagrees], it’s nice to pull your parents along to watch a song which you know they love. They might be busy in their world, but I am sure, they wouldn’t mind dropping in to watch their favorite song, when its on TV. If you have plans for shopping, or even a visit to your favorite “chatwallah” round the corner, it would be nice to invite them to join you once in a while. It is possible they would want to avoid this intrusion into your life, but reassurance that they are invited whole-heartedly can work wonders. You would know many facets of their life, which I am sure you will treasure.

Discuss a problem with them:

Parents have loads of experience and would have faced a whole lot of problems in their lifetime. Having solved all the problems for their kids over years, suddenly they are of not much use once the children grow up. Times have changed, and world has changed a lot, you might feel they are not of much help in the problem you are facing today, which might be true as well. However, there is nothing like the feeling of being needed by children, there is nothing like having the satisfaction of having helped your children. Why rob them of this pleasure?

Discuss the problem you are facing, they might have some great insight which might help you, even if they don’t, just talking about the problem, might ease your burden, and bring them joy. Discussing a problem does not mean complaining to them all the time, or forcing your problems on them.

Try to help them out in their problems:

Many of the new age parents are financially independent; this does not mean they do not have financial problems or that they do not have doubts and dilemmas. Introduce them to newer financial products which they may not have access to, and discuss your idea of finance and it management.

They might have many issues, which they would not know whom to contact, they may not even be able to identify their problems. Lending an ear, can help them figure out many of their problems and issues. Its very common for the old people to dismiss their children’s advice, or not be able to follow what the children are trying to convey. Just like your children, your parents too can come across as adamant, and stubborn. Please not that you are trying to solve their problem, and just like the way you let your children make mistakes, you may have to deal with letting your parents make mistakes too. The experience of being a part of their problems, is as rewarding as being able to solve their problems.

Go on a vacation:

Living with your parents, or visiting them often, helps in spending quality time with them. however, thats not enough. Taking time off, and heading to a vacation, however short in duration it may be, helps you to spend a relaxed time with them. Many a times, with the amount of pressure on individuals these days, the time spent with family is either an aftermath of a busy day of work, or in preparation of the things to come at work the next day, even weekends are spent in attempts to rewind from a busy week, or trying hard to relax before the madness of the coming week. A relaxed vacation can bring a much needed open mind when spending time with your parents. A vacation also usually brings out the youth in parents, giving them another reason to smile.

Gift them needful things:

People usually have lot of occasions to gift their parents; there are always birthdays and anniversary, and fathers and mothers day. The clichéd saree from your first salary to your mother still lingers around. It’s nice to gift them big, but its even better to have an eye for their smaller necessities. Be it a pen which needs a new refill or a worn out wallet of your dad, a soothing gel for your mothers cracked heals, or even refill of their prescription medicine. It is not that, they cannot afford these, or that they can’t do these chores on their own, this just gives them the satisfaction of being looked after, and provides you of the joy of taking care.

A family meal:

One shared meal with the family everyday is easiest way to build memories. Even most silent of the families open up over a dinner table. Dinner table conversation involves everyone in the table,  it can vary from discussing a cartoon character, to worrying about the country’s financial and political woos. Sharing a meal, provides a common ground for sharing opinions, and sharing each other’s highlights from the day. There are many a laughs and smiles which always remain long after the eaten meal has left your system.

Request a dish:

A family always knows each other’s likes and dislikes, and food has always been a big part of Indian households. Even today my uncle sends my favorite peda from Ahmedabad, whenever someone comes over. Why not make it a point to celebrate food once in a way. Why not request your mom to cook your favorite dish, amidst your busy week. Why not ask your dad to decide the menu for the Saturday’s lunch, believe me, even non foodies love to decide the menu.

A small get together:

Most of us do not share our social lifes with our parents. We never have time for people who are important to them. We do not consider it important to share people who are important to us with them. How many of our friends really know our parents, or have spent 10 minutes over coffee with our parents. It might be worth organizing a small get-together involving both worlds. You can keep it intimate with few of your best friends, and few of your parents friends.

Just because I have mentioned these points over here, does not mean I practice all of them. I may have followed some of them, and might have thought of trying some.

As I collect my memories of my parents, I would love to discover more things which I can do to earn them.

Hero

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No one likes loosing, losing a game, losing money, losing power, losing anything for that matter. If you thought losing is painful, there is worse, seeing your heroes loose. It pains to see India losing a game, or may be Sachin score a duck. Its tough to imagine our hero lose his skill and ability.

We all are aware, its just a matter of time, the age is going to catch up, reflexes are going to wane, body will not be able to take it anymore. We know he is human, he is gotta go someday, but to us he is super hero, the every shining, ever capable person. We are ready to see us grow up, age, become unfit, but our hero remains HERO

Long before sporting heroes or any other hero tickled our fancies, there was one hero who has been and will be hero for every single person for as long as we can imagine. Father, the smiling, scolding, providing, understanding, dictating hero, ready to always help us out, never showing up his shortcomings. I can’t imagine any of us not idealizing our parents, at many a times just their presence gives us enough confidence to get things done.

My father has been like a super hero, he has always been THERE, never slacking, showing no signs of pain, or age. He might have grown old, lost a lot of weight, got his skin wrinkled, lost hair, but to me he has been the same dad, whom I can always ask to get me thinks, help me out, discuss, take me to doctor when I am sick.

As I become older, my father is aging too.  As I sulk about the onset of middle age, I see my dad enter his old age. The problem is that it pains to accept his aging, even though it feels good to take care of him, it pains to realize he too needs care. Having seen him as this strong super hero, whom nothing can ever effect, having to see him this way hurts.

When I see his old pictures I realize how much weight he has lost, when I see him struggle for breadth after climbing the stairs, I see how much his lungs have shrunk, when he refuses to eat things which I offer to him I realize how much it affects his health, when I out of habit ask him to buy something on the way home I realize how much it hurts for him to carry those things up the stairs, when I see he isn’t up before me on days I realize the sleepless night he has spent.

Acceptance is a very difficult thing, specially when it comes to our heroes.

Aside

One my friends had an interesting post over here. She had a question which every married couple would have had at one point of their marriage, why does one need to have kids?. Its a very common and a simple question right?, it did make me think hard, and I actually had to struggle because I haven’t thought on that subject before, I didn’t have an opinion on that too, I ended up having a conversation with myself of possible answers and counter questions, here’s what I thought.

Why should we have kids?

A: What if our parents had thought on the same lines? we wouldnt be here right?.

Q: I wouldnt be here, so what?, not that I made a noticeable difference to the world. Some people have had a great impact on the world, but how common are such people?, would it really harm if I weren’t born?.

A: We would need kids to support us in the old age.

Q: we always want our children to have the best of the things, that would mean we would want them to pursue whatever they like and is beneficial to them, how often does this result in them moving to far off places, will they really be capable to take care of us?, Considering the number of people who do not really care about their parents, this would sound like too optimistic a reason to have kids

A: We need kids to keep our family name and family alive

Q: Sorry I am neither a TATA, nor a Ambani that my family name/fame/wealth will get strangled if I dont have a kid, infact there are enough people in my family to take it forward.

A: As a couple we are expected to

Q: As a person there is a lot of expectation from me, would I end up satisfying all of them?, wouldn’t I choose only those I feel like doing?, so why is this so special?

A: Its the natural next step after marriage.

Q:If I had married thinking marriage is the natural next step after job, this answer would have been valid

A: This is just a side effect of a pleasure activity

Q: Come on we are advanced enough to counter the side effect.

A:I like kids

Q: This probably makes a little sense. I love kids, I like being with them, playing taking care, all activities about kids appeal to me, I wish I had a kid of my own. If you have ever thought on above lines I guess you probably have a right reason to have kids, but still I have question that just loving kids may not be the only reason why one should have them.

Having said all this, I think this is why I[rambler] would like to have kids somewhere. When I got married I had a feeling that I would like the relationship I am getting into, and such an intimate one would surely provide me happiness. Quest for happiness is the sole reason behind almost everything we do. So kids too would be for the same reason. I would like to have a kid because I think they would make me happy. I know there are numerous sorrows and risks possible because of kids, but then don’t we all take risks for sake of happiness?.

Every role we play help in our growth as an individual, and I think being a parent is the ultimate teacher. Being responsible for someone scares the shit out of us, but then we also take challenges and learn our way through it. Just like we have grown a lot over our relationships with our parents, wife, friends etc, kids to provide a tremendous growth.  I have a feeling they are going to leave us richer, in terms of knowledge and emotions.

Of course we all have to be ready before we plunge into decisions, and not everyone would feel the same as me about kids. But there is one think which I am sure everyone would agree. The reason to have a kid, should never be that someone wants you to have one, even when that someone is your own parent.

Answers and Questions

Lets walk

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“Are we there yet, how much more should we walk”. I guess the most used words by me as a kid, were those. I hated walking as a kid, it was a boring thing, which made no sense to me. Only good thing about walking, was the number of stores on the way, which exposed my mind to various cool and unwanted stuff, which I could demand from my parents. My dad still makes a comment that, with me walking along, taking an Auto would be far less expensive. [Oh, BTW it hasn't changed much ;)]

Over the years “walk” as a means of transport has almost vanished. Not that people don’t walk, we wake up early in the morning to take a walk in the park, or stroll for hours in overcrowded malls, we even walk without getting anywhere on the super swanky treadmill. The idea of walking to a friend’s place, or to the nearby shop, may be still out there in few cases, however idea of walking distances to get to a place is almost forgotten.

I love the idea of walking to my destination, may be it’s what has got into me from my parents and close relations, who all love the idea of walking to the destination. Today at 70, my uncle prefers to walk to my house which is almost 3 km from her daughter’s place, My mom used to actually get off from her bus, couple of stops before ours, to be able to walk a bit everyday.

I remember one of our relative who used to arrange these long distance walking trips. We would start walking at like 4am and walk all day until noon to reach there, we would go as a group with many cousins, so we would not realize any sort of pain or boredom, In fact I remember walking faster than adults, so that we could play cricket enroute, when we have gone too far ahead, and elders were catching up. I miss those padayatra trips.

There are many advantages of city walking apart from the obvious one of being a healthy habit. Firstly each of us get that bit of much needed exercise which is gone with modern life. We also get to breathe fresh air, outside all the air-conditioned cages we live in. We get to look around, its surprising how much the neighborhood would have changed without our notice, new places would have come up, buildings would have been brought down, streets would have changed, with our horse track day to day life, walking can play a great hand in keeping us updated with OUR life.

If you have company for a walk, like your family, wife, or even a pal, there is no better way to have a conversation, than walking the talk. There is something about a walking, which adds a pace to the conversation, its unlike the still conversations over coffee.
If you do not have company, its even better, because it gives the much needed space to think. Some of the best ideas and solutions have come to me when I have taken walks alone.

I continue to walk from and to home in Bangalore. I usually don’t take an auto when I have time, at times walking upto 90 min to reach the destination. I have slowly grafted my wife into my habit. Recently on our trip to mysore, we walked to couple of attractions, like the two palaces. It was just 20 min walk from where we were staying, but it was nice to see some support from one person who would play a great role in me not losing my habit of walking.

There are many things which I have reluctantly picked up from my parents, and begun to love and enjoy them over the years, walking will be one such. I wish we can pass on these to our next generation.

The banyan moment

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I heard this new word “Banyan Politics”  about how politics in India has the dynastic tinge to it.  This concept, of children getting into parents profession is not new to Indian at all, how else would we explain the star kids in bollywood, a bunch of really bad doctors at the whelm of rich and famous hospitals, or bunch of useless law firm owners employing outside lawyers to keep their reputation in tact.

Banyan professions sounds so alien to the new age IT professionals. Have you heard of people joining Apple, cause their parents worked there?,  sounds funny even thinking about it.

My father worked for the government.  He studied science, worked as an auditor [commerce], for the telecom sector. Sounds strange how a science graduate ended up doing a so out of field work in an alien sector.

I claim ‘I work’ as a software coolie in one of the MNC.

Strange coincidence though is knowingly or unknowingly we both ended up in telcom sector.

The banyan moment :)

In my defense

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Have  you ever been surprised by people who come to your defense?,  people who always keep correcting you, people who keep pointing the little shortcomings in you, which you hope gets by them, people who never seem to be satisfied completely with your effort and keep egging you to go on, people having no trouble in spotting your mistakes, suddenly when someone else points a mistake in you, jump to your defense.

Has that ever left you wondering, where did that come from,

Has it made you wonder, “are they sure about what they are saying, are they really talking my defense”

I am sure every one of us, who have spent at least one day at home, no wait, at least one hour at home, have come across a time when our parents have nagged us on one or more things which could have been done in a better way, or how we could be a better person, do a thing more properly, or even learn to learn about things in a better way. Just like any normal parents would do, my parents too have nagged me, scolded me, given me a thrashing or two, for doing the things I do, in the way I do them, for all the bad qualities in me, for all the ‘to improve’ things in my behavior. In short, I don’t think I made it difficult for them in find a thing where they could correct me.

Well I don’t think I can defend any of those things, though I did try to defend my deeds at time. Even today I try to defend things I do, which for some reason does not seem correct to my mom. Startling factor though, is how quick they are to my defense when someone else tries to point out a trivial shortcoming of mine.

Now that the rambler house hold has a new member in the form of bubbles, its real fun to look at the offense and the defense bouncing between the people involved in rambler’s life.

If bubbles [in short my better half, is this “in short” or “ in long”, well who cares] has a problem with me, at times surprisingly my mom has interesting explanation as to why I might have done that. Well, hello, if you had caught me doing that, would you buy that explanation, if I were to give that to you. I have seen my mom come to my defense when even many of my cousins or relatives tried to point out a shortcoming of mine. I have seen an explanation for a possible reason for my behavior readily drop out of my mom’s mouth. At times it makes me wonder, if she has a repository of all the stories which I have given her over years, and she now has one story for every situation.

If my mom has a problem with me, bubbles seem to miraculously work out a nice way to cover me up. Now I realize the advantages of marriage. But then, didn’t just the other day you crib to me about the same bad quality of mine.

Oh wait, it’s not just bubbles, even friends come up to our defense in a strange way. They seem to know a lot more about me, then I thought they do.

The biggest surprise was that of a defense from my dad, recently in a conversation when one of two women in the house tried to bring out a flaw. Man even silent of the people find a fun way to defend me.

Well, I am not complaining, not complaining for sure.

In remembrance

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There are times when memories strike you for no reason. Today has been one such day to me.

My grandfather expired when I was in eleventh grade, I clearly remember when I got a message during lunch at my college. Those days I didn’t have a mobile phone, I guess none of us had one. His death was something I accepted very easily, I was sad for that moment, but then never really missed him.

So today, all of a sudden his memories came back. He used to call me “appi”, no one other than him called me that, infact only other person who still calls me that is my grand mother, and that too very rarely.  As he called me Appi, as a kid I used to call him “appi tata”, in other words appi’s tata[grandfather]. It slowly became “appu tata”, and the name stuck till the day he was no more.

I clearly remember when he moved back to Bangalore, I must have been in 2nd or 3rd grade. He was getting his house in Bangalore renovated and stayed with us for a week or so. We used to go go to the empty house everyday to check the progress. The house used to empty, so it echoed. We both used to go into the room and make strange noises, and I used to love the echoes in the room. This has to be one of the most cherished memory from my childhood.

As I began to grow up, he always thought I was one with expansive tastes, he used to always tell me that all my activities were “dodd kudure cheste’, basically not something normal people tried. Some how the equations were never the same, deep down I didnt like the fact that he made those comments, and pretty seriously too.

One thing I admired a lot about him, was his will and the other  principles, he was one of those old time strict people, who didnt like menace, or hardly made any joke or fun, but there were those rare occasions, when he wouldnt stop laughing. I still remember how my granny used to snap and ask him to go to sleep because he generally used to get into that mood late in the night.

Today as I jogged my heart out on the treadmill, the picture of this bespectacled man, who wore a vest with a cross pocket on front of chest, and a pant which was almost half way up his chest, kept popping up in my head.

Its been long since this has happened, I dont know what is the reason behind this out of the blue memories.  Even though I was not sad, nor the memories were sad ones, it would be really nice if I could have dinner with him once again, his favorite bisi bele bath and some chatter would be really good.