Friendships beyond boundaries..

My three year old daughter started nursery in a school last week. Yesterday, she talked about ‘her friends’.

So I asked her who her friends were. She replied, ‘my friends’. So I asked their name, and she replied, ‘I dunno’. So I asked, ‘What do you call her’ and she replied, ‘My friends’.

I gave up. I was talking to her key worker this morning and she said that daughter had indeed made some friends. So I mentioned the conversation above and she reassured me that it is completely normal. Children connect with other children, without even needing parameters such as names.

I have always noticed how Poohi does not notice race, or colour , in others. And we never mention it either. Children adapt so well to people, based on how different people behave with them. They know, instinctively, who can be approached and who cannot. This nursery, employs the same concept. They just let the children mingle and decide for themselves, who they are comfortable with. I was talking to another mum, while waiting to pick up daughter on the way back, and she was mentioning how she was not happy with this approach. I had found it nice, that they let the children decide for themselves, while she felt that a child would have felt more comfortable if they are introduced to each other formally and told a bit about themselves.. And I don’t know which approach is better, to be honest. I guess it totally depends on the child and what makes him/her comfortable. Some may be comfortable with a little more adult guidance, while others might be very independent.  Especially children for whom, this is the first time away from their parents, a bit more adult guidance might be comforting.. for others like my daughter – it might not make a difference either way.

This reminded me of something that I read a couple of days back.

Babies come to us unconditioned spirits. We condition them to our reality, but who is wiser to the TRUTH.

I have been reading a lot of books, I had never heard about, thanks to my library where I can never spot any of the best sellers. The only redeeming thing is that I get to take 20 books, so I pile on, every book I can lay my hands on.  I also end up picking up a lot of Indian (or Indian origin) writing. This book was one of the good ones.  Hindi-Bindi Club by Monika Pradhan.

It was the story of two generations.Three mothers who are first generation immigrants to America and their three daughters. It was interesting to see how dynamics shifted throughout the story. One of the mothers said this in the book and it touched a chord for me. And I guess, I found it more interesting because of the part about cultures clashing and it also gave me a perspective of how my life would be , if I chose to stay here.

I am in the phase, where I want to write(hence the post), even when I have no time, so please forgive me for these ramblings and for not blog hopping, and not replying to comments.. Will get to it.

Memories of Durga Puja..

Today is Saptami, the 7th day of Durga Puja, but before I say anything else, I want to thank all of you for your wonderful suggestions and tips! Will try out all these and will definitely let you know how it goes! Our Blog world is awesome! Thank you again!

When I was growing up, Saptami was a much awaited day. I grew up in Jamshedpur, which has a huge Bengali presence and Durga Puja used to be celebrated with a lot of pomp and show. In our colony, there used to be several pooja pandals.  According to my friends, who had been to Kolkatta during Pujas, we had better ones – but I am sure they are biased 🙂 The first indication that the Pujas are not far away would be several pooja committee members coming to our houses for contribution to their puja  fund. If we contribute, we would get a token, to take to the pandal for Bhog.

And then as the days near, there would be frantic activity in the grounds where the pandals were made. There used to be intense competition among the pandals – even with our colony.  Some of them were so artistic!  The festive feeling would be in the air. There would be discounts in stores. Most of my friends were Bengali, and would be discussing the new clothes they got and the ones they bought for gifting.. And then the school holidays would start. Pandals would blare out Bollywood songs – which then used to be fun, now I find loud music very irritating 🙂

The idols were totally awe-inspiring. Magestic looking Ma Durga poised triumphantly over Mahishasur! What better symbol of the power of a female goddess! It saddened me deeply when I heard that later, some idols were given features of Bollywood stars. Surely, there has to be a limit to commercialization? At that time, everything seemed wonderful – the aarti, the drums in the background, the smell of camphor in the air… And the bhog! Yum! What is it about prasads and bhogs that make them so delicious?

But Saptami day was what I used to wait for. It was on  Saptami day, that we would all start visiting pandals. The main side attraction would be all the gol-gappas , chats,  egg rolls, which even my majorly hygiene conscious mother would not object too much to, during the puja days. My parents could never fathom, how, we would gulp down spicy chaats , which were too spicy by most standards. And we could walk for miles without complaining 🙂 Normally family friends would gather together at a place and go pandal visiting together. It used to be a treat to meet classmates or school mates and compare how many pandals we had done 🙂 Some of the pandals, along with the eating stalls, also had huge Melas with giant wheels and all sorts of rides and exhibitions of arts and crafts.

Saptami and Ashtami, we would go out only in the evenings. Ashtami day, we would keep our books in the temple, for Saraswati Pooja.  So until the Pooja is over on Dashami day, we do not read or write, or do anything that is considered ‘skill based’. So for most Malayalis I knew, it used to be heaven. No studying. For me, it was a torture. I was not too bothered by the ‘no studying’ bit, but I had to read. I could not survive a day without reading and was too scared to cheat.  My mother used to be very strict – not even reading the newspaper was allowed – I used to be like an drug addict, who was denied her fix 🙂  Navami day, we would go out with friends in the morning to the pandals. I suspect,my mother must have been glad to have me out of her hair too. That used to be the only bright side for me. So we used to hog all the junk we could, get on every possible ride.. it used to be so much fun. Evenings again would be with parents and family friends. Pujas seemed more an excuse to have all the fun in the world than to do with anything religious at that point in time 🙂

And then came Dashami. We used to go the Temple for the Saraswati puja. All my Bengali friends used to go to the pandals to bid Ma Durga goodbye until next year. The evening would be full of going over to friends place for the traditional sweets and Ghugni and platters of sweets that friends would drop off at our place. I can’t begin to state, how much I enjoyed those days.. And to think that it has been more than 15 years since I last did all this.

This year, we plan to go to some Durga Pujas near here. The other half of the couple, we celebrated Onam with, is a Bengali, so we plan to celebrate Durga Puja with them this year. Happy Pujas to all of you! And do let me know how you plan to celebrate too.

Of daughters and mothers and friends..

Does anything sound sweeter to one’s ear than the delighted giggles of a child, thoroughly enjoying herself ?

After, Poohi not getting to see any animals, last week, we wanted to ensure that she got to have some fun this weekend. And it was not very difficult to achieve either.. She had been invited to a birthday party, and ended up having a ball of a time too! And that was just the start of the weekend.

It was in a soft play area where the children went crazy! Climbing up obstacles, and zooming down giant slides to end up in the ball pool! It was fun to watch her collapse in giggles as she hits the balls 🙂 It took me back to the time in London, where we used to go to these soft play places, very regularly.There was one, very close to where we lived and there the parents were supposed to go with the child – on to the play area. So to be honest, it was as much fun for me as it was for her.

Those days, husband used to be working away from home – 5 days a week 😦 , so we used to do a lot of mum-daughter fun stuff. The soft play area was on of our favourites! We used to climb right to the top and zoom down the huge slides, ending up in huge ball pools  – huge enough even for mums to get submerged 🙂 It used to be amazing exercise too – for me 🙂 Made up for all the junk that I used to eat 🙂

That was the time when, I ‘fell in friendship’ with a dear, dear, dear friend. She was my husband’s ex-colleagues wife. Funnily enough, we had never met before we accidently ran into them at a restaurant. We started talking on the phone and hit off instantly!  Both our husbands had been very busy travelling and we went on our annual India vacation and we never met again for the next three months. We did keep in touch on the phone all the time though.. Finally, we ended up meeting at a play group near her house and from that day on – I think we met every single day  – barring the weekends. She had 2 daughters, a 5 year old and a 1.5 year old- the sweetest little children! . Her younger daughter and mine hit off too 🙂 Both their names were similar sounding and both of them referred to each other with the same name and funnily they, even looked similar. We used to be asked by people of the road if they were cousins 🙂

Those days, were probably one of the best times, of my life.. We used to be inseparable.. We used to meet at the play group every day – and then walk around the town aimlessly – talking away, go to the park, and let the kids run around having fun.. and yet feeling as if time was not enough.. there was so much more to share and so little time. It was a truly magical time.. We used to share what we cooked. What she cooked and I baked, to be honest :), share our thoughts on everything possible.. gossip , have serious discussions… watch our little girls have fun while we, big girls had the time of our lives too 🙂

DSC09305Here’s a pic of the 2 cheeky monkeys running around in the park 🙂

The amount of fun all of us had, was amazing.. What absolutely took the cake, that my friend’s elder daughter and Poohi got along very, very well too – from the moment they met! They even had a sleep over at our place and my daughter could not stop talking about ‘chechi'(elder sister) for ages after that..

What brought on, all this reminiscing? Well, it’s been a year since I saw her last. They returned to India last year, this time, and to be honest, it broke my heart.. Everything felt so empty.. Daughter used to look for her friend, in vain, every time, she went to the play groups, to the library or the parks…We are still in touch and we can still talk away for ages on gtalk or on the phone.. and it is almost as if she has never been away.. But it is amazing how much we still miss each other..  Just makes me wish, how wonderful it would have been, if our friends did not have to move away, or if we could all live nearby.. how wonderful that would have been..

Weekend Update : I have to say that this weekend, while Poohi had a wonderful, wonderful time, I got the bestest compliment from a little 7 yr old girl:) She told me that my daughter and I look like a ‘pair of twins’ :), if only I had been a little shorter 🙂 For an almost 33 yr old to be told that she looks ‘just like’ a 3 yr old is huge 🙂 Coming from the mouth of a babe – I am going to consider it totally true 🙂 And to make it even better- I even drove the Audi !!!! Yay!!!! Even the fact that it was just around our estate did not detract from my excitement!!! Like, my daughter says, ‘I’m so excited and happy’!!!!