Colours of Our Lives!

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My usual chatty 6 year old is thoughtful one day on our way back home after school. I decide to enjoy the silence whilst pushing our toddler, amused seeing the autumn leaves being blown away by the wind, literally tickled by seeing them rolling on the floor right in front of him!

At the swings, our usual pit stop on way home, the big boy opens up as I knew he would – “so Mama did you know there are children in this world without a Mama and a Papa?” Then I remembered the UN charity walk he has signed up along with his classmates at school. His teacher had just given him his first dose of reality on some of the poorer children in the world, particularly orphans who are in need of scholarships.

“What happens to me when Mama and Papa go out of this world?” Trying to make things light for him… “then you have your brother with you, you just have to remember to share!!” “OK I think I’d just enjoy being a child” he goes in a very matter-of-fact tone!

This year has seen our boy grappling with the topic of death, trying to understand the different cycles of life along with the dangers out in the world such as crime, war and wild animals. Not the nicest of topics and those which we, as parents, have tried to delay his grasp of!! Many are the nights where this pondering innocent mind is shaken by nightmares. Along with him, we, ourselves, are reminded of the first instances of getting to grips with the darker side of life – it cannot surely be easy!

But as inevitable as it is, understand he must! And however reluctant, we need to open that sunny blanket with an eternal rainbow, under which all such things have been hidden!! So comes the tough job of stripping things down to shed some light… or darkness in this case!
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First thing first my son – people do not all live till 100 years! At any moment, at any place one’s life can be taken. Mostly, there can be no farewells. And past and the future does not get to meet. There is nothing more we would love than to see you both grown up with your children or grandchildren but nothing is guaranteed. Mama and Papa cannot always be with you. No one really knows with perfect certainty what happens when you go ‘out of this world’. Some believe we go to the Gods, or to heaven. Some, that we come back in other life forms, be it human or as creatures. Some that we become grass on the very ground we walk on. And people decide what they believe is right.

All this I am writing to gather courage to say to him one day, soon; some things, not so soon… and in little doses! Just by writing I feel I might be better placed to answer his questions. I am hoping he will himself come up with his own theory, as he most often does with other things, believing in full conviction, even if not totally correct! And with what he believes will all his tender heart, mind and soul what I hope is this…

That he realises that for each moment, each day, each week, each year we get blessed with good health, a roof over our heads, food, family, friends, love and laughter he should be grateful. He needs to make the most of things, relishing life, as it is!

That when we are here, if we can leave life better than when we came, our job is done; either by a new tree planted, a thoughtful child raised, a species saved or any kind of act that ripples goodness to the rest of us.

autumn-leavesJust as seasons come and go, so will all else. Perhaps autumnal leaves with all its splendour gives me the perfect answers….

The luscious green hues that bloom in hopeful spring, maturing to those radiant colours of red, purple, orange and yellow coming to its grand finale before bowing to the ground, in shades of brilliant browns. Thereafter as to what happens I like to think, is what makes us all connected. I like to think each of us carry our ancestors within us and so will our future children, carry us. We may not physically see each other but we do ‘see’ and ‘feel’ each other with an eternal connection.

No sooner than when the leaf falls off the tree and rests on the ground basking in the crispy sun and mellow winter, on the other side of the world, a good life is re-born in spring with all its tenderness where it all starts again. And the goodness you do, is never really lost!

Death is so natural, yet not naturally an easy topic to speak or think of, for any of us, let alone a 6 year old! But I think it’s good to be reminded of our departures in a matter-of-fact way. Then we might cherish life more and take on each day with zest and passion as it deserves. Then we might do whatever we have to, to leave a good legacy behind!
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On your mark, Get set, Go!!

I was at the birthplace of the mighty internet; listening to the tour guide on how ‘WWW’ was born in 1989 near a small town in Geneva where we now reside.  I wondered if the scientists then knew of the tremendously game changing effects of this on the world, on each and every one of our lives.  This advance in new technology made things possible at the speed of lightening, unseen progress in many fields came to light – as a result a very tight-woven globe in every aspect bringing each of us closer and very accessible, no matter the distance!

Now you would’ve thought this would simplify things, make day to day life easier, chores quicker so that we have more quality time to really live our lives.  However, what it has done for some reason, together with many other advancements, is put our lives on almost a fast forward!!

With all modes of instant chatting available we are more accessible, so we are expected or we think we are expected to do everything.  There is almost a double life, another being online, at times the latter taking over!!  And there is no satisfaction. After we do everything, then comes more!! People are or seem busier than ever. There is even a sense of glorification in being busy! Our minds a constant treadmill, our feet marching from one step to another, our hands tap tapping our phones which has literally the world at our fingertips. Holidays too, somewhat a breather, still not so, as with our phones we yet again have everything and unable to really ‘escape from it all’!!

So this kind of has turned us into speed-loving, multi-tasking busy bees who actually do not have time to smell the roses, literally and manifold metaphorically.  People crisscrossing, some with the routine questions not earnestly expecting answers, and in return people with half-hearted answers. In the worst case, this translates into rare meaningful connections.

Then comes children, whose birth do in away makes time stand still. But then, again we easily slide back into or more so, crazy chaotic confusions!! Wanting to perfect life, and wanting to do it all, not letting any “little things” get in the way, we buzz about in the usual day-to-day.  As a mom of two little ones, l have my work cut out for me and this does not necessarily stop for holidays, rather increases as every summer reminds me! It is exhausting but as every mom would know and feel in every atom of their bodies, it really is the best!

One of my favourite times of the day is tucking our 5-year-old in bed as he comes out with little gems of words that just quietens my heart and stills my mind, albeit for a little while. Like “I will choose you as my Mama everyday” or “if you could come into my head Mama, you will see how much I love you…”. Or “Mama, I want to make you happy in this world, and when we are out of this world”!!

The other day though, he made my heart skip a beat, not in a good way. “My least favourite thing in the whole wide world is when you rush me Mama! I do not like it, one bit!!”.

This reminded me of one gem I took from a parents’ meeting at the Montessori – that of things running on slow motion in a child’s mind. Their world is S-L-O-W!  In fact, we all start slow before we get pushed into this fast forward!

So I cannot even imagine the clash of these worlds or rhythms; or maybe I can, with how impatient I get and how annoyed my son gets, when nudged to do things faster or how frustrated my son gets when I am not really listening, with my mind on eternal to-do-list mode.

As  much as I want my children to respect time, master a schedule and fit into a rhythm, with my son’s plea in bed, I totally understood the need to slow down. We have to – for the sake of our kids and for our own selves. What we take for granted, be it weather, health, youth, our kids’ time and attention, will not be there tomorrow. Day-to-day to-do-lists will!! We need to master time and technology and not the other way around.  We need to master work, so that it’s only a means to a living. And master with diligence of respecting life, precious life which can too be taken away at the speed of lightening.

Race Track

As much as we have to get the necessities of life in order, we do have a fight ahead of us, a fierce fight against this aimless race.  One friend said recently, after his father’s passing away, life is like a movie; we have to enjoy it whilst we watch it and then, when it’s the end, it’s the end.

Well then, I say, we have to play slow motion or even pause once in a while or often as you can, to breathe in life.  To breathe in this beautiful life surrounding us, right in front of our eyes, out of which we take nothing when we depart.

 

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You will always be My First, and You – My Last!

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“Mama things have changed!”
“What do you mean? Nothing has changed.” (I said in denial).
“Yes Mama, for me, things have changed in the way you love me”!

Now I would have felt proud of this sentence or been happy to see how perceptive he is, if these words didn’t feel like a dagger through my heart! I had to hide my sleepless teary eyes.

It was those initial days when we were all trying to find our own rhythm in a house with a new baby. Despite my valiant efforts of making special time out for my first born and trying to continue our usual activities, the boy has felt it. You certainly cannot mask changes. He now has a brother, who mostly drinks, sleeps and cries among plenty of nappy changes. And this brother was certainly not joining in all the fun myriad of activities, he had been planning for the last 6 months! And this little brother was mostly with HIS mama! He has felt a gap and not an addition as he had hoped. My first born’s mind was full of mixed emotions. His eyes were certainly filled with pride, love and joy but there was also sadness and fear, fear (I can guess) being the biggest – that of losing his very special place with HIS Mama and Papa!

On trying to simply explain things to him at bedtime, he asks if there is enough love to share.

My first born, how I can possibly begin to explain these to you…?
That you were the one who first burst into my life,
And scared me so deep,
Scared me on how selfless I had become,
Scared me on how scared I was caring for you,
Scared me to see just how much I loved you from the very core of my being,
Scared me to see to what lengths I will go for you.
Scared me to see how perfect I wanted you to be!

How can I explain to you…?
That love of a mother is timeless…boundless, with no conditions tagged,
That it was you who gave me so much of insight into what love really is,
And how powerful a force it can be.
That the day you were born, nothing else mattered in this world,
But you!
That since that day…nothing was ever the same,
That world was new and perspectives clear,
That the saddest of tears and the happiest of smiles I have known,
Because of you!

Yes! Time – the greatest of gifts one can ever give,
Now certainly has lessened with you,
Still please remember,
You were and will always be my first of everything!
Hope one day you will understand,
That all these firsts I have, because of YOU!
And this – no one or anything can ever take away,
From me and you!

Then came the day…
The question of a brother, the question of a sister!
Questioned by you, mind you!
So began a new journey,
A journey of motherhood yet again…
The growing bump, with wiggles and hiccups within,
That much more precious this time round,
As seen through your eyes, my First Born!

Now how can I possibly explain the same to your little brother?
Well, this would be how…

Then out comes YOU, you my Last!
A luscious little bundle, yet again so tiny,
Time rewinds to so many memories,
Comfortingly familiar yet so very new!
And what can I tell you my precious little Last?

Your fresh intoxicating baby smell,
Your tiny fists wrapping around my fingers,
Your head, a perfect fit to my fist,
Your crystal eyes looking at me in wonder,
Your tiny feet with those minute curly toes,
Your yawns, your breath, your smiles and coos,
Your perfect snuggle to my cradling arms,
Your changes day by day, month by month,
So very vibrant, rapid and thrilling,
These will be my very last,
Never to return!

Your looks of awe at your big brother,
Your joys at his joys,
Your startles at his despairs,
It’s like you get it,
Even now!
How special your bond to him will be!
You my precious, the last love of my life
Will be my rock, my pillar, my strength,
To be side by side with my First Born,
To take on this world together!

And as humanly possible as it can be,
I vow never to compare you,
Never to measure you,
Not to the world,
Not with each other,
Especially not with each other!
Rather treasure you for who you are.
As you, each special one of you,
Will have your very own special place,
In my heart and in this world.
You both will always be my very special First
And my very special Last,

And remember, always remember,
You both,
Two loves of my life, born out of my first,
Are the best thing for sure,
That has happened to me!

And what changes already!
I see you kiss good night to your brother’s cheek,
“I love you all the way to Pluto!” you whisper,
Pluto to you, is the furthest from the Earth!
And so my Son you are starting to get it…
The mighty power of pure love.
And thus begins, I certainly hope,
A lifelong love of brotherly bond!

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Flying without roots!

Lake Geneva on Swiss National Day

Christmas and New Year time, is one of those times, when we, wanderers, start to re-connect with our families and friends far and beyond.  In fact today, more often than not, our families and friends that we grew up with, are gradually scattered about in this melting pot of a world!  Add to this, most of us get an urge to re-connect back to our homelands and our origins.  It is also one of those times, when we start to feel the need for at least one day, for all those jigsaw puzzles to come together – to give us the picture of togetherness, that sense of wholesomeness. That is to say, an unrealistic wish to have every person who has helped shape our identity, to be in one place at a given time, so to give us a sense of belonging in a nomad’s land!

For parts of my life, when I was growing up in a tiny town near the capital of our very small island of Sri Lanka, I feel all I’ve been wanting was to grow wings to explore the world. Now after having seen, touched and tasted most of it, moving from land to land for long periods, what I yearn is to re-learn my roots. I have this urge to visit the periods of our ancestors and experience some of their very real struggles (sadly all too taken for granted today). Perhaps this is far more pertinent at present, as it’s connected to raising a child.  And tagged with this responsibility comes a strong desire to pass on to him a strong heritage, hence a confident, clear identity, in his already wandering life at 4 years!

Our son, born in Switzerland, is a product of Indian and Sri Lankan-British parents, possibly having 4 identities, that of where he is born and that of his parents’ birth and resident lands.  In his mind, he has also made some connection to other countries he has visited.  He sees Buddhist and Hindu practices at home, Christian practices within school and neighbourhood.  On questioned where he comes from, he gives our home address in Geneva!  India and Sri Lanka are to him, annual holiday destinations with London familiarised with his grandparents and uncles. Geneva to him is where he will always live, unbeknown to him that we are temporarily set up here until our next adventure beckons us!  I do wonder from where he will draw his identity?  What will he see as his heritage?  Where will he picture his roots?  What will indeed become of his sense of belonging, floating across lands in this big wide world (in fact not so big and wide in today’s context!)

Bird Nests in Luzern

As an Arabic proverb goes ‘blessed be that which gives your children wings and roots’.  Roots – a place where we are born and raised, to which we feel responsible for. Wings – where our travels meet our imagination, making the path for us to get to know and learn from others’ roots.

It is not too long until we, as parents, start to realise that we cannot allow our children to wander too far, as their origins are already marred and drawn across many a line!  Not that lines are needed in a war-ridden world!  But he certainly needs to know his father’s ancestral lands in the North of India and his mother’s in the South of Sri Lanka.  To speak the native languages, hear stories of our ancestors, taste the local foods, celebrate the local festivals and divulge in religious practices, all of which he can draw his connections from to make sense of his own fusion of heritage. His own heritage and unique identity that indeed in the future, he himself will be free to choose from out of this wealth of strong bonds to both his parents and his own open-mindedness.

It is important for him to feel proud of how far and deep his blood runs and feel connected to all the lives before him; also pass on and make sense to all the new fresh blood that’s to come in the future. We, as parents, hope to practise equally both our customs and traditions, irrespective of where our wandering will take us!  How else will our son have the building blocks to form his own heritage, the means to keep the traditions going and get the blood pumping in an Indo-Lankan heart?  A proud and strong sense of identity is far more significant; particularly in the case of being a world citizen, sensitive to all kinds of differences in humans be it race, gender, colour or religion, who we certainly hope he’ll become.

Wings without roots are indeed an isolating prospect, particularly considering the future of our children!

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Budapest – A Boy’s Take of a Big City!

The Budapest Parliament Building

The Budapest Parliament by the Danube

I was so looking forward to Budapest in July! I did not really know what it is but what mattered was that it was school holidays and it will be a place where Mama, Papa and I will be travelling to, by plane! I was crossing out the days every morning for a long time, until our travel date finally came.

When the plane was landing, (probably to divert me from my hurting ears), Mama was explaining about the Danube River, the longest in Europe. This mighty river touches 8 different countries and has a lot of old stories to tell.

One story was that, Buda and Pest were two different towns at one time, on either side of the Danube and in 1873 they came together and formed, Budapest. Budapest is the largest and most important city of Hungary, what they call ‘the capital’. A long, long time ago, a lot of the country was in fact parts of the famous Roman Empire. So there are many so called ‘Roman ruins’ around. From what I understand, ruins are very special these days as they come from the olden days, so need to be protected to link us with our past and ancestors.

Géllert Thermal Baths, Budapest

Géllert Thermal Baths, Budapest

Another story was that in 1526, the Turks took over, which I think means they put their flag on the country, saying it’s theirs. They had ruled the land for over 150 years. And it was at this time that the Turks made special baths around the country, making use of the many hot water springs. I was told these baths have special water full of good minerals, and so, many people bathe to heal their health problems or just to feel good! I wonder if maybe we can take some back home. It was really fun, jumping from one bath to another; one slightly warm, to warm, to ‘bit too hot’ water (to which my folks only let me dip my feet). Some people were jumping from the very cold bath to the ‘too hot’ bath. I totally did not get this really!

Anyways you can imagine my joy at the water being special! Surely it should be all water! I was dipping myself in most water fountains on and off in the city, making my folks change my clothes many a times!! And once I took them by surprise and dipped my walking shoes in the fountain. They were not happy but I wanted to make sure I had lots of good water on me to grow well and healthy!! Anyways this made all our walks very interesting!

Yes! There were many walks, walks by the Danube, walks by the bridges (the Chain Bridge, being the first to have been built and the most famous), walks by the Parliament (the 3rd largest in the world), walks by the Buda Castle (one important ruin) and many many other buildings. Mama kept ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’ for something called ‘Architecture’! And of course my, soon-to-be 4 year old, feet got tired a lot. So there were lots of stops. My favourites were the local ice cream and pancakes. Sometimes though I would ask for taxis and Papa normally literally jumps at the idea (and in them) but a couple of times, the folks laugh saying we’re just around the corner from so and so, just to get me going.

On one of our taxi rides my folks were talking about being careful with the taxi meters as the numbers sometimes can be wrong! It did happen to us once, where we were going to pay more than we should, but luckily Papa managed to talk the driver out of it!

Of course when it came to the boat cruises, we had no complaints. They were pretty cool with so much to look at, all around. I loved when we went under the bridges, the connecting links between Buda and Pest. I also loved having my hands out, just feeling the breeze on my tips and smelling the nice blue river with all that history!

Then came the zoo with about 2,000 animals. I hear it is one of the oldest zoos in the world! It was wild and very exciting. I mean to get the last zoo trolley for myself! There were very few and we had not come early, so yes I was lucky! And of course there were the Zebras, the Hippos, the Rhinos, the Elephants, the Seals, the Monkeys, the Giraffes… Then there was a car ride I went with Papa that was very scary and exciting, both at the same time! It was mostly in the dark with very strange noises. I thought it will be a normal car ride but it was meant to be scary, and no, no warning from my folks. So you cannot blame me for the confusion!! And between you and me, I think, Mama and Papa too were taken aback!

The nights were literally brilliant too. For me, it felt like it was ‘Diwali’ or ‘Vesak’ or Christmas, like everyday! The city was draped in lights everywhere. Yes, I had some very late nights, trying to wind down for bed-time!

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As for Hungarian people, I hear mostly they do not smile; but with me, maybe because I am a kid, they were pretty cool, smiling, even laughing and patting me.

It was soon time to go back to Geneva although I did not understand why! It was lovely here in Budapest. I was just getting to know everything. But go we must, so away we were once again with our packed bags, this time of course, fuller with local wine, honey, sweet and spicy paprika – all famous treats from this amazing country I hear!

Now at least, I know what Budapest is! I want to have more of it and asked my folks when in July we can go back again! They were laughing. Hope I get a good answer soon before these holidays end!!

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Abracadabra…! There’s magic in all of us!

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Once upon a time there was a little person living in a magical town where everything was possible! Raindrops were pearls, rainbows were ladders, pebbles were diamonds, and sand was gold. Feathers in the wind were untold stories from faraway places. A stick – a sword, woven leaves – a crown, where a prince and a princess rule the world. This is what made childhood so special! Everything was magic and there were infinite possibilities in almost anything. With curious eyes and an excited heart, they hold in their tiny hands their fate, of becoming anyone who they want to be.

Every so often though, this gets taken away. They get jostled into society’s ways of how they should be and what they should do. Certainly for a society to function well, rituals and orderliness are needed. Discipline is a base that spurs understanding of what is right and what is wrong, an absolute necessity for growth. But then there are some whims and fancies of society for the ease of control, for grouping, for fitting in with a crowd that can possibly crush their large little souls, making them feel inadequate for no reason.

Among parents, there is judgement. Among neighbours, there can be labelling. Call it a human tendency, but children are most often quickly pocketed into names based on some of their innocent acts – ‘a bully’, ‘a fighter’, ‘a scary cat’, ‘an introvert’, ‘a spoiled brat’, ‘a cry baby’ etc etc. These labels then define them and sadly most often they make their way to those tiny tender ears and minds of the children themselves – children, who are just about, learning to know who they are. There can be a downward spiral, where they try to live up to their names, no matter if it was just one mere compulsive act that got them that name!

One of my friends recently reminded me of the proverb ‘it takes a whole village to raise a child’! And this certainly is the mind-set we need, hand-in-hand and not crossed against each other. The soil needs to be harvested with the right ingredients to get the full crop! Lots of love, compassion and patience mixed in and with encouragement and praise constantly showered; with jealousy, ridicule and shame weeded out, to give those little ones those infinite possibilities of blossoming to whomever they are meant to be and not mastered or orchestrated to be. And certainly with a protective shield to fence out the negative energy that can de-spirit and empty the life before it even has a fair chance to begin!

We need to support each other as parents, as guardians, as care takers and as educators. We need to let kids be kids. They don’t need to ‘grow up’, as this is surely a natural process that happens with time. They need to enjoy and have the full freedom to explore their passions, their world and themselves, having no worries over who is better than whom! They need recognition of their individual personalities. We need to let the shy be shy, let the social butterfly flutter away, let the thinker do the thinking, the adventurous go on adventures, the artist be creative and the only child be the only child! That space and understanding as a child surely will go far when they become well-functioning self-assured adults.

And each child comes with his own pace, rhythm and rhyme and certainly some unique magic. Above all it’s THIS magic that needs to be protected and even harnessed; the differences respected and applauded as opposed to being pushed to conform to clones.

And let us not forget – there is also magic that lies in each one of us, since we ourselves were children. This too needs to be sparked once in a while. We shouldn’t allow this magic to ever die in pursue of our everyday existence. Where then, will be the joy? There is pure joy in believing in life’s magic, the exhilaration that comes with seeing things through a child’s eyes and awareness and being awed – awed at the simplest of joys, be it sunrise or sunset! Yes! At any age, you can choose to conjure that magic!

If we can ‘grow up’ keeping that magic alive, letting our children also not lose their own magic, then I think we’ve got it. Got what it takes to get through this journey. And what a happier journey that would be!!

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Taking Stock this Season!

DSC_0438It’s Christmas time, the holiday buzz and the freshness of a New Year’s dawn to come! No matter where you are, who you are, you cannot help but join in the tag of emotions that comes with the Season!

For some it’s that sheer happiness of togetherness after long separations, for others, the loneliness that comes with estranged family situations and for some, the hopelessness in earth-shattering post-disaster situations. It is especially heart-breaking this year to think of the over 6,000 people who perished in the Philippines’ recent typhoon and the over 11,000 children whose future was cut short in Syria.

Still, magically and as inevitably as you must to go on – you see HOPE. Hope and faith, the all crucial elements to let you know that there’s always a tomorrow, there’s always new beginnings, renewed energy to put things right and foundations to be built for new aspirations for the coming year – when you know and hope things will be somewhat better!

It’s not often you take stock of all the events surrounding your life. Still, comes the Season and somehow somewhere the mind looks back at the year – be it in the middle of all the parties or quiet times spent wrapping gifts or writing cards or in that blink of perspective that comes with helping out communities in need. That overwhelming urge to see where you are now, who you are now, compared to last year. That sense of accomplishment or regret. That sense of pride or remorse. Your faith in yourself and others.

I look back at mine, my families’ and friends’. I see my friend who is relieved and happy to finally get her hands on her dream job after an arduous long search, a couple content and excited with the new house just bought after a thousand deliberations, another friend finally diagnosed right with her illness and long-awaited surgery finally happening, but then also making her mark in writing; a family member moving forward after ending an unhappy marriage, a friend so excited with her own entrepreneurial adventure, another blessed with a third child – the boy they wanted after their two girls! I look at my husband, whose mom made a miraculous recovery at the ICU and facing yet another suffering with an elbow fracture!

I look at our 3 year old son, who has taken some big grown up steps of his own, having given up his beloved potty chair and pram. He, who was also made a big brother by our new niece, now wants to be a jetsetter in his own helicopter! I look at him struggling at the Christmas play at school tearing up and wondering what all the fuss is about! I look at myself, wrapped warm in the joys of being a mom, finally tackling some projects long on the backburner, re-learning the familiar passions of writing and studying.

We are taught to dream big and pushed to live big. But then again it’s the smallest things that seem to make us happy! A house, a job, a child, good health, a good companion in life, a sense of purpose, a sense of passion.

I look at Nelson Mandela, a life that has taken our breath away, where the true potential of a human heart and spirit is shown to a magnitude, I fear, compared to none! He shows to what extent and depth a human can go in compassion and patience; in forgiveness and respect; and above all, the extent of his faith in himself and in human kind.

In this race track of a world we live in, it is indeed good to get some moments to look around, to reflect and take stock. The freedom and comforts of modern life that we so often take for granted, for the lack of knowledge of the struggles gone by at a time we did not live. The more and more we want, as human as we all are!

Yes, it is indeed good to get this time – to simply be thankful; to realise and appreciate your blessings; to recognise how far you have come, how far you have grown; to see how much you have touched, healed and helped each other’s lives. It’s a time to be grateful that you are simply alive and free, having the comforts that many dream/ed of in past and present, grateful for your ancestors and their ways of life, that have led you to who you are today. You also want more growth for betterment of you and for betterment of your circle of family and friends. For surely better tomorrows are built on grateful todays.

You realise though, that there is still much to be done. Much to be done for your children’s world in the future – a challenge to keep things simple in this ever technologically transfiguring and materialistic world. Teaching your children and reminding yourselves the richness of human values and the simple pure joys of not only fulfilling your basic human needs, on your own, at your own pace and at a level that is comfortable for you but also in reaching out to others, knowing and fulfilling your revolving responsibilities.

Taking stock this Season will hopefully guide us when we go back to our daily routine come the New Year. To have focus, faith and purpose. Taking stock every Season will guide us hopefully for the betterment of our collective futures!

“To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived—this is to have succeeded.”
― Bessie Anderson Stanley

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The Big Little Man!

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Our 52 cm just above 3 kilo bouncy baby, 3 years down the line, is a 3 feet over 13 kilo lanky little man! This physical transformation, albeit miraculous to watch, is nothing compared to the internal revolution within this body! He is a walking, talking, and thinking individual with a spirit of his own who continuously strives to set his own boundaries – a perpetual tug of war with his two closest – his Mama and Papa!

He, who was a crying creature for whatever he may need where our gut was all we could base to decipher what to do, is now articulating exactly the specifics he wants. ‘Mama, I want egg white and egg yolk with rice, without pepper’!

He, who needed our lullabies and rocking motions sleeping a foot’s radius from us, now sleeps in his own room, in his own bed at his own time after we leave him.

He, who needed our constant entertainment now has his own familiar friends, his own enticing imaginary world and his own amusing self! He humours us cracking his own jokes reminding us of events of weeks ago!

He, who needed our unceasing presence in close proximity, is now one who takes his strides to school bagged with the knowledge that he will be taken care of and picked up by us always.

He, who could not comprehend our words but only our eyes, smells and smiles, will now fight back resisting most things told by us! `No Mama, I will not say thank you to that aunty!’ When he himself thinks of manners, he is of course full of smiles knowing it was his own doing!

He, who was slowly uttering and faltering always on the lookout for our approval, is now correcting us. ‘Papa it’s not punishment corner, it’s naughty corner actually’!! And yes, he who was the sweetest thing walking under our clouds always yearning to please our faces, enjoys defying us now exploring his boundaries and our limits! And hence the naughty corner, which for now at least, frightens and disciplines him!

He, who we had to cuddle, kiss and admire feeling as if it was all one way, now comes to us with his own sporadic hugs, smooches and ‘I love you’s!

He, who we had to constantly hold and guide, is now holding our hands to take us and our guests on walks down new paths – pinpointing all the little delights on the way including alphabets and numbers on buildings, for sure his current passion!

Now I know I should let go more often. I should breathe somewhat easier. Let him be the big man he craves to be. On his 3rd birthday, as I plant my kiss, he says he wants to be 4. Then he wants a car but for now he wants a green t-shirt, Thomas cake with a big green 3, rainbow coloured eggs and lots of blue balloons! He seems so sure of himself and at times so grown up with his words, actions and sentiments, that I tend to forget he is in fact ONLY three!

At one of our usual park outings in the neighbourhood, my big little man is running over the hill and is about to disappear down to the playground. I let him. He turns around, smiles and continues, knowing I have his back.

As undoubtedly every parent knows, it is never over… not till the last breath leaves our body. And it is for this reason, we must stop, take stock and savour the spectacular shifts of growth and to this – line our own mind set and parenting!  

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Sri Lanka Bound!

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For more than half of my lifetime, I have lived away from Sri Lanka, my birth country, the origin of my identity and the beginning of my being. I have been away – tasting and devouring the globe, breathing in freshness of foreign lands and embracing different customs and cultures. Still this minute country of mine has always had a strong hold on me, a magnanimous magnet that has always somehow drawn me. And of course this should be the case. It IS my birthplace. I have always wondered though if it’s a case of grass being greener on the other side; or a case of absence making the heart grow fonder.

I now find myself in Switzerland, ranked top for its high quality of life and fondly referred by some as the heaven on earth! One can easily imagine this when you think of some of the Swiss specialities and knowhow… the masterminds of watches, the finest of transport, the elitist education, calibre of chocolatiers, reputed cheese and wine makers. All this is also wrapped up in enchanting beauty of mountains, lakes and crispy clean air! Having lived here for more than three years, I can personally vouch for this excellence and efficiency in almost all things! Heavenly really! And here, could I possibly be dreaming of that land of Mother Lanka?!

Oh yes, I do!! Here are some of my most missed delights, simple as some of them might be!

1. Coconut Trees: The array of lush green coconut trees that envelope you at the plane’s touchdown never fails to give me that warm tingle of a good hug! Very closely linked for me then, would be ‘Thambili’ (the deliciously sweet water of a king coconut) that is one of the best thirst-quenchers my tongue has ever known!

2. ‘Short-eats’: The unique and delicious pastries (snacks), popularly known as ‘short-eats’, are found in every nook and corner of a street. They really are a delight to your senses! Among many, my most favourite ones are those in the Fab and Green Cabin shops, not to mention their cakes and cream buns! (Now I am a big fan of the Swiss delicatessen but if I had to choose I know where my hands would go!)

3. Rice & Curry: Home-made authentic Sri Lankan food made by your loved ones with that little bit of extra care (and lime juice!) never disappoints my taste buds. In the simplest form, this would be rice, dhal & coconut sambal (a concoction of fresh grated coconut, made orange by onions and spices). Also ‘Lamprais’ (A Dutch derived rice pack wrapped and baked in banana leaves) with its own unique tastes has been a winner in Colombo since times I can remember.

4. The Sea and Beach: One of the island’s crowning glory of course is the sea She bathes in and it’s amazing how much you miss that sea breeze and salty air when not near. Unfortunately though, for good beaches, one does have to find the spots nearer to the array of hotels or restaurants, where they are well-maintained or secluded spots that are not known by many! And once you do, it’s a keeper for a great stroll, swim or taking in all that fresh seafood!

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5. Luscious Green: Going inland from the beach would be the lush green highlands as far as the eyes can see with all kinds of exotic flora and fauna. The striking contrast in the surrounding when driving away from the outskirts immediately calms my soul and pacifies my eyes. The fresh springs, waterfalls and rivers cascading through all this greenness and heat are mystifying at most times!

6. Value for Money: Among this natural beauty, lies five star hotels that line up to give you service to a cost that is unparalleled elsewhere! It certainly is not a surprise that Lonely Planet ranked the island top in their highly acclaimed list ‘Best in Travel 2013’ naming her as one of the planet’s best value destinations! And the icing on the cake of course are the hotels’ skilfully designed pools, spas, lobbies and clubs with breath-taking views of their exquisite lands around, be it the city, sea or the hills.

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7. People: I find myself among crowds of carefree people with smiles so wide and hearts so big and approachable almost at all times; fortunate people blessed with all that this ‘resplendent land’ (also, the literal meaning of Sri Lanka) has to offer. People nourished by an abundance of natural resources and armed with a rich culture and heritage; people prized with one of the highest literacy rates in Asia and falling heir to a multitude of ethnicities and religions. On the other hand, people who have been through decades of war, torture and political strife yet taking life in its stride, always having that glimmer of hope. In the hustle and bustle I get re-acquainted with my nearest and dearest. Sometimes it seems as if a year’s worth is wrapped into a blink of an eye! I do get to relax, unwind and miss them even before the farewells and customary worships to the elders begin. Farewells – that is until the next visit that my mind is already planning!

And so yes, I live in ‘heaven’ and have travelled the world (or a majority of it) and will keep exploring the rest but one fact remains. Sri Lanka has a non-fading charm. In a nutshell, it’s a nation that is an amalgamation of all facets of natural landscape, cultural richness and varied ethnicities. And I truly hope for all our sakes, including our son’s, that the land rids of her current political plagues, that she stays true to her path accepting all her children as one; and will always be a sweet home away from home for those of us eternally ‘Sri Lanka bound’ living in foreign lands. Alas, also for those of us living within the sea shores of the land – to recognise, treasure and protect its full worth whilst living there and not from the other side of the fence!

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10 Top Takes From a Child

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Our son speedily came bursting out to our lives (literally!) on a sunny autumn’s day almost three years ago. I have seen and heard many an occasion how children change your lives but you never really know until this happens to you. It’s nothing short of a miracle.

Amidst all clinical commotion, two of the most beautiful eyes were staring at me, putting everything else and all physical pain into oblivion. Those questioning eyes were full of wonder, asking me all that is on life and this world he has just come into. Little did I know that he would be the one who will plunge me into a world that I never knew exist. I would not like to compare this to anything. My experiences with abseiling, downhill skiing, white-water-rafting or snorkeling (diving would be far relevant here although not in my personal list) has given me a rush with varying bursts of adrenalin. It’s as if being in a parallel universe with that momentary feeling of time standing still. Except in this case, it is for a lifetime, for real and re-living day to day!

My usual workaholic, predictable life with carefree travel and leisure came to a screaming stop! I was seeing these eyes and tiny hands and letting them guide me to this other world. Or rather same world, yet so very different! I was teary scared but knew it had to be done! Slowly as we got into the rigorous rhythm of having a son and he discovering us, we began to see the light… little treasures that he put before us, bringing forth new meaning into our lives. If I were to try to lay out some of these precious gems I carry with me today, this would be it!

1. Life is for the living – I learned how precious time can be, not that of one hour to go before a report is due but that of every minute’s agony in labour where you feel your bones are being crushed! You wait every minute thinking this will be the moment where the pain ends and joys begin. Every minute makes a difference. Every minute counts. So does every day bringing new changes and every month bringing new milestones!

2. World is for the wanderer – There is pure joy in taking delight in the simplest things in life. Take a flight together and you will be amazed at the lengths you can go and even more in how far your child can go or can take you to. So always explore, always question, feed that imagination and you will be surprised in what great discoveries you will make.

3. Early bird catches the worm – As painful as early wake ups are (part and parcel of being a parent!), they DO have their upside… the glorious sunrise at dawn, with birds flocking in fresh, tender untouched dew drops on grass, the supremely serene scenes all around, not to forget the hot baked bread! Nature is addictive and spell bounding especially if you meet its early embrace.

4. Honesty is the best policy – We were amazed at the young mind’s acute memory, firm grasp of facts in one go, albeit his repeated questions. He is trying to make sense of this world. Be frank, consistent with the answers and help him connect the dots and there is pure wonder in how fast he learns!

5. Laughter is the best medicine – No matter how mundane an activity, it can give you endless giggles if you have the right companion (this case, your child!) who can put you in the right mood and mind to enjoy the day-to-day (including potty training)!

6. All in the attitude – On any of his mishaps, it’s your smile or frown, your words (be it kind or brash) that determine the extent of the misfortune in his eyes. For instance, in the simplest sense, your reaction to his fall will decide how much he has got hurt!! Always try take on a positive outlook, also accepting failure as an essential ingredient to healthy living.

7. ‘If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough’ (Einstein) -You come across some dark tunnels when answering some of the simplest questions and it feels good to find that light at the end, where you yourself have learned or re-learned a few things.

8. ‘Be the change you want to see’ (Gandhi) – There is new meaning in this favourite Gandhian quote, where you realise that YOU are the child’s first impression of the world, your words are echoed, your actions reproduced, your views their take and you as a person emulated. And by being loving, caring, patient, righteous for your child, you simply become a better you!

9. Hope for the best, be prepared for the worst – Whilst you try in all ways, acquire and apply the best of knowledge in rearing your child, always know that each will have his/her own uniqueness and pace, and neither are to be squashed in a rush to race. Whilst you have to edge him on to those stars, you also have to be that comforting carpet to cushion him for those inevitable falls.

10. You are your own destiny! – A child is the personification of pure selfless sacrifice and it is so easy to divulge so much so happily. But you need to keep being true to your individual self, your dreams, your desires and your own happiness. Your child needs to see the ‘person’ you are, not just the mother. You need to carve out some space just for you. Only by being self-fulfilled yourself can you take care of another’s happiness and lead him to his own aspirations down the line.

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