De-cluttering the Mind and Wardrobes Before Diwali

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Image Courtesy Pinterest

I don’t remember celebrating Diwali last year; that probably has something to do with having a newborn. This year however I am having this deep need of making few changes, be it home, career, relationship, kids, garden, whatever. I want to do something (don’t exactly know what), just get down and create something beautiful. Last months has been really trying for all of us, with new job, sick kids, and losses that few our friends suffered. There was an air of stifling gloom and negativity surrounding me, something that even the spirit of Durga Puja couldn’t shake off.

However, things are slowly changing. Maybe it’s the nip in the air, lights in the neighborhood, and over-crowded markets. Or maybe it’s the spirit of Diwali that is making all the things right on its own. I don’t know, but that phase made me realize that I could be unhappy, even after having the best partner, adorable kids, good career, friends, home and hearth. That thought has shaken me up a bit. As I am typing the words now, I realized the extent of sadness I felt, but the strange thing is I really don’t know what made me so unhappy. Does that make any sense?

I took up house-cleaning with a vengeance! It sounds silly, but it was so cathartic and after having read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I have started looking at house cleaning from a different perspective. I am taking baby-steps where Kondo is concerned; just started off with accessories and baby clothes, and it helped. Honestly speaking, I don’t really have any time to introspect about my state-of-mind juggling kids and career. But sometimes, the simple task of folding a cloth or re-arranging a wardrobe can feel so good.

As I’m not a full-blown creative person; I get creative ideas in bouts. Mostly, I am OK with neat bed and few cushions. But as a child I always use to trail after my mother during Diwali house cleaning; I would re-arrange the sofa, dust the bookshelf, arrange the innumerable case-files Maa possessed or fetch some flowers from the garden to be put on vase. I would stand holding the tool watching my father put on the Diwali lights on our verandah in neat U-shaped layer. I loved all that. I remember once I made a small landscape in the corner of our garden, with a small pond, wooden bark and plants. That fetched me many compliments from neighborhood aunties and uncle. I know they were indulging and encouraging a little girl, but down the years that girl got lost, and somehow I feel, I need to find her and make peace with her, before I lose her forever.

As the years are passing, and I am moving further away from my childhood it’s making me more conscious of how I need to hold on to that part of me. I need to light up some new dreams and fresh hopes, and sweep off this internal clutter of negativity out of the window.

Here’s hoping this Diwali will bring out that much-needed clarity in my life as well as yours.

Happy Diwali!

#Diwali #MarieKondo #decluttering #slowingdown #takingcontrol #findinghappiness

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Landour: Of Stunning Views and Steaming Khao Suey

With steep hill climb, sweeping history lessons, stunning scenery, pinewoods, old churches and Ruskin Bond’s house around the corner. Landour is probably the oddest destination one could have picked to travel with kids (10 months and 4). Odd because of the sheer amount of uphill walking one has to do ( with kids that could be a pain). Plus, there’s nothing much to do as said by many friends. However, husband and I wanted to runoff to a quiet and non-touristy place; so on a gorgeous summer afternoon we landed up in Landour, a small cantonment town roughly 4 kilometer away from Mussoorie.

As I stood in the gate of Ivy Cottage, a sense of calm descended on me. How do you describe a feeling you don’t have words for? With clouds touching my nose, I hugged the baby and descended down the stairs to reach where our cottage was.

…and the sight just stole my heart.

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The 180 degree view of the hill, nestled Woodstock school in the distance and a small window with colorful hanging flower pots (I was told that is Ruskin Bond’s balcony) held me in spot. I had seen different shades of the sky, but never before have I witnessed the magic of green, blue, aqua and white mingle in a manner so cohesive that you can’t help but get teleported to the fantasy world of your childhood.

The next three days were spent doing that– staring at the hills for hours, playing peek a boo with the sun and clouds, amidst lots of laughter, diaper change, baby food and conversation.

Plus, we abandoned all the plans of usually site seeing that our driver suggested.

Kempty Falls, Gun Hill, Mall road…NO.

Instead, we did this.

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…spent hours staring at the horizon.

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over many cups of coffees at Cafe Ivy.

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and many heated arguments on world politics.

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There were discussions on experiencing Landour in winters, just so we can curl up in bed with a book under the glowing orange flame from a fireplace.

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Not to mention, how unashamedly we posed for pictures in every possible corner of Rokeby Manor

Tell me why, the food taste so good on holidays? or was there something special about this Khao Suey at Doma’s Inn.


and this Salmon at Rokeby Manor

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What can I tell you about this old-fashioned library at Rokeby? Just pick any book from here, and find your favorite corner.

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and this oh-so-inviting living room which called for cuddles and hot-chocolate.

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Did I mention, how often we huffed and puffed like a dragon in Landour?

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There were times, when the pebbled streets looked far too quiet and spooky near Stubli, The Stray Dog.

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We saw other interesting things..

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Landour stole my heart; we couldn’t help doing the touristy things.

Landour taught me what slowing down means.It taught me, I don’t have to tick items out of my bucket list to be happy, I need to appreciate life for what I’ve now.

#Travellingwithkids #Travelogue #Landour #Mussorie #Ruskinbond #RokebyManor #IVYCottages #CafeIvy #TheStrayDog #Stubli #IvyCottages #CharDukan #Travelling #slowingdown

6 Books to Pick this Summer for Your Kindergartner

We are going to the hills next weekend. The idea is to just soak in the Mountain View, take a hike through forest, dip our feet in pristine streams, read good books and come back rejuvenated. This would be our first family vacation after the birth of our girl (she is 6-month old now). Although, we’ve been traveling since her birth, but that was more work than vacation.

For me vacation means unplugging, it means spending quality time with your loved ones, communicating, reading, watching the sunset together, and just absorbing the sight and sound of Mother Nature. I usually carry a book while traveling or end up buying some as a souvenir. Actually books make a perfect souvenir, it reminds you of places you have touched upon, cafes you have visited, views that made you pause and ponder.

I have compiled a list of story books for the child to indulge in this summer and I am definitely packing few of them in our upcoming trip to the hills.

Take a peek at these essential summer-reads for under-five year old

Where the Wild Things Are By Maurice Sendak

This one’s GOLD. If you haven’t yet bought this book for your kid, you are doing him/her a great disservice. The book narrates the elegant simplicity of the childhood fantasy. The illustrations are beautiful. Aurko and I are literally reading it every night. So Max goes off into his own world to escape his parents and explores “wild things” but ends up missing his loved ones and decides to come back to the real world. I guess both kids and adults will relate to this story. This one’s for keeps.

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David Series by David Shannon

“No, David!” is David Shannon’s first book of the “David” series. This is Aurko’s current favorite. The book details the adventures of David being bad while his mother continually tells him: “NO, DAVID”. Shannon writes in a simple preschool format that makes reading easier for young readers. This book has won the Caldecott Honor Book Award. We can’t wait to read the other book in this series.

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The Usborne Baby and Toddler Treasury

I bought this book when Aurko was a baby and apart from few torn pages, this book has survived 3 years. Aurko still can’t get enough of it, especially the stories—The Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The 3 Little Pigs story. It also has an art & craft section. This book is also serving my little girl, talk about killing two birds with same stone.

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My Dinosaur Backpack

Aurko recently picked this book from his school library. It’s a sticker activity book full of themed activities and fun dinosaur stickers. With over 250 stickers to use in the book or anywhere else, this is my go-to book this summer to keep my boy all tamed, as I run errands or enjoy a cuppa overlooking the mountains.

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Folk Tales Around the World

We picked this one from Kolkata International Book Fair. It is a compilation of short stories from around the world, such as, The Sun and The Moon (Siberia), The Woodcutter from Gura (Ethiopia), Water Lilies (Wales), The Bright Pearl (China). This one is for older kids; although, we have read The Sun and The Moon and Aurko thoroughly enjoyed it. But he never really asked for a repeat. I am sure he will come around in a few years.

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Little Spider and Geeta by Parthasarathi Chakraborty

I bought this one as I was a little fed-up with Aurko’s obsession with Spiderman, and wanted to show him the real deal. This book narrates the life history of spiders in the form of storytelling. Observing a spider make a web makes for a fascinating read and with my boy anything involving spiders always work.

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Have you read any of the books mentioned above? Do you have any other book to add to this summer special list? Do write in the comment section.

 

 

 

Comparison, You Bitch!

The other day at the grocery store, I looked over at this woman next to me, and heard her fixing a work-meeting with a client. She looked like one of those corporate high-flyers. Neatly dressed. Driving a sedan. Basically, she seems to have everything – brain, beauty, money, dressing-sense, poise.

“Ugh, you suck. You are still caught up in this silly job,” I thought to myself.

Then of course, I continued with some self-shaming:

“You’ve been working for 5-years, you should have reached X figure salary.” “Look at your unkempt hair, worn-out jean. You suck.”

You are not good enough (as compared to her).

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The other day I was talking to my cousin on phone, and she was telling me how her daughter (who is of the same age as my son) is already counting till 100. 100 already?

“OMG, we’re so behind,” I thought so.

Then of course, I continued the self-shaming:

“Am I doing it RIGHT? Everyone is so conscious about education nowadays. Look at the competition. Why am I not putting more efforts with him? I’m failing him.”

I am not a good mom (as compared to her).

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COMPARISON — you make me miserable!

Yes. Miserable, frustrated, discouraged, unhappy….. !

I hate myself when I do that, and still can’t seem to shake it off. This creepy crawly feeling keeps invading my peace of mind time after time. However, I also know for sure that I don’t want to live with that kind of negativity in my life. Happy people are seldom hopeless and discouraged.

After coming back from the store, I sat looking at the horizon thinking about the hopelessness of my situation. Will I ever be able to reach that level? Seems like a distant dream now that I’ve two kids. After my cousin’s call, I thought of drilling my son to count till 100, so that we can “catch up”.

See, the chain of thoughts? How it’s creating self-doubt.

If I am evaluating my worth by comparing myself to others, I will always be losing. Because in this game of life I will never reach a point where I am better than others in every possible way.

Comparison will only spin me into a tail-chasing frenzy of self-doubt.

So, trying to “catch up” to others is clearly not a solution.

Social psychologists and authors Adam Galinsky and Maurice Schweitzer believes, “we are hardwired to engage in comparisons, that is, we can’t get away from it, and we’re doing it to try to make sense of our world. Do I make enough money? Do I need to update my kitchen? Do I need a new car? Are my kids doing well? It’s almost impossible to make those assessments objectively. So instead, we turn to comparisons.”

The authors believe, comparison can be motivating, and it can and do co-exist within the same person, and neither feeling is necessarily superior. It’s learning when to use each feeling that counts.

Makes sense, isn’t it?

I especially loved this thought-provoking example that they’ve shared in their recent book.

In Olympics, silver medalists tend to be miserable because they’re comparing themselves to the gold medalists; bronze medalists, on the other hand, are comparing their outcome to those who came in fourth and beyond, and so they tend to be more pleased with themselves than the silver medalists — even though the silver-winners technically beat them.

WOW.

So next time when you find yourself comparing, seek favorable comparisons if you want to feel happier, and seek unfavorable comparisons if you want to push yourself harder.

Steve Furtick said it best, “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”

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Pic courtesy Google

#lifelessons #loveyourself #selflove #comparisons #lifetips #Ibetterstoppreaching

Pre-mama: Lost in Translation

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Illustration credit: Jo Gay

When I was 18, I made my initial no-marriage-ever-under-any-circumstances declaration. I would tell this to anyone who would care to listen in a self-righteousness of someone who believes she’s the first person in the history to make that statement.

The thought continued through college, however, in a twist of fate I was the first one to marry among my friends. Soon after I made another declaration no-kids-until-I-finish…blah-blah-blah, and somewhere along the years no-kids turned into when-we-have kids, and now we have two under our nook.

Now, if I met my 18-year-old self, I wouldn’t recognize me even if I dance with a pom pom in front of her. At 18, I was full of energy making plans for future. I imagined myself playing Badminton nationals, singing in a concert, or traveling around the world. I would picture myself sitting in a quaint café reading Proust or studying some language. Of course, I’d always have a bank full of money and spare time to indulge in whatever takes my fancy. They were plans after all and planning is comforting. No wonder they never lasted more than a month. Although, I do not relate to my 18-year old self anymore but I hate to think that my kids would never get to know that side of me–the carefree, rebellious side.

I feel I owe my 18-year-old self some recognition, so here you go kid’s, your mama wasn’t a born bore. There was a time when she could sit through an entire movie without snoozing off.

  • My self-righteous tone while scolding you for eating chips is a SHAM. Because while growing up I use to survive on it. There were takeaway packets in the drawers, spoons between books, and cans under the bed. However, I must mention that made mommy FAT, and she had no boyfriends when she should have.Trust me, I still rather eat nachos and watch CARS-2 on repeat with you but I want you to grow up healthy and have fun chasing the sun. So for next several years, it’s going to be like this. Sorry.
  • The other day I brought the house down because you didn’t do your homework. Did I tell you I was a backbencher all my life? I hated being under the supervision of teachers. I bunked class, flunked subjects, and was even debarred twice in college. I know you will call me a hypocrite, but God has made me responsible for teaching you the life lessons, give you a decent education and make you a better human being. Hence, please bear the banshee screaming.
  • “We grew up on books”–haven’t I used that line a million times with you? Books hah! They weren’t always children’s fiction. I started reading Mills and Boons at age 12 and I didn’t stop there— much to the chagrin of your Didun (Grand Mother).They were bad literature that did not peel a potato for me.  I am always picking books for you now, telling you what-to-read and what-not-to, but I know soon you will learn to disguise your parents, and I am dreading that secretly.
  • Family, they were always important, but there was a time when I hated them. They call it the teenage year. I was perpetually angry with the world and not listen to anybody. I am worried about you reaching that phase. Can you do me a favor; do not indulge in stupid daring or take the pressure of education. Just make it to 24, life seems much better after that.

Rest you will survive. The way Mommy did.

 

TAGS: #parenting #parentinghumor
#whilegrowingup #motherhood #lifebeforebabies

This post was also published by Women’s Web and Buzzing Bubs as my column, check it

How Do You Talk About Your Teenage Self To Your Children, The Pre-Mama Phase As I Call It?

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http://www.buzzingbubs.com/articles/5-confessions-of-a-mom-my-carefree-youth

Hello World!

I know it’s little late in the day to start a parenting blog now, as my sass a frass little man is cutting his 2-yrs molars and is in the twilight zone (read “terrible twos”). And oftentimes when I ask for a smile I usually get a sulky meh.

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Stop (s)mothering me…yadda yadda…!

PUHLEASE!  I am not perturbed by his age. If anything, I better start blogging now then later when he grows demonically embarrassed by me.

So with fluttering hearts and wobbly fingers I am starting a new journey today, and I would love to give you a glimpse of our life living in Delhi NCR, minus the cliches!

Wish me luck!

Mousume