Monthly Archives: September 2016

Navarathri time

For eight years, from the time the kid was two to ten, I would keep a fairly extensive golu.  The golu stand in itself was never big, given that our living room is fairly small, but I made sure the paraphernalia were all in place – a fancy rangoli, environmentally friendly home-made newspaper bags for tambulam, and hand picked gifts for the visitors.  I had pictures of my golu over the years in my old blog, if you had been following me there, you may remember.  They are all gone into the great wide open now.

The past two years, I downsized.  The move probably reflected my need to minimise. Also, I am more conscious of the family’s comfort level as well.  When I had a big golu, I would displace the furniture and have the family tip toe around the golu and lock themselves in their rooms if they wanted privacy.  Now I feel that my need to have a big golu must not inconvenience the others in the household; so, no more moving of furniture, no more over-use of leg space and no more fuss.

Coincidentally, last year, my cousin, in the process of shifting homes, found a miniature wooden golu stand,  at least fifty years old.  It belonged to our grandmother, and was one of the many satellite golu-s paati built around the humongous 11 step main golu that touched the roof of our ancestral high-ceilinged agraharam house.   This golu stand  that my cousin didn’t want, and consequently, I took possession of, is fifty inches high, with five tiny steps that can hold tiny dolls. Last year, I bought tiny dolls that fit the tiny steps and set it up at an unobtrusive corner of the living room.  This year, I followed the same practice.  Here it is:


Do not be mislead by the apparent height of the golu. The top most stair reaches my hip and the stand has been placed on a couple of cardboard boxes for height.

As with all earlier years,  you see on the right of the golu, the little silver idol of Saraswathi, the goddess of learning (in its throne, with a tiny coral necklace and gold thirumangalyam).  It is a family heirloom and could be a hundred years old.  There was a matching set for Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, which went to my cousin.

So, if you are in the Chennai area, please visit me.  A simple newspaper bag of tambulam shall be given, along with loads of goodwill and cheer.  If you are away, you’ll still get the goodwill and cheer from me, sans tambulam.



Forty Four

I turn forty four today.  Until now I believe forty four is old, and that I can never be forty four.  But, I am.  And don’t feel old at all.  Cognitive dissonance.

So, what have I to show for the forty four years?

Biologically, my purpose has been fulfilled.  I have passed the genes of my ancestors to yet another generation.

Other than that, I have not moved or shaken the world.  The best part is that it’s OK.

On a personal level, I have, in my own bungling way, established a functional family, a rewarding career* and a comfortable life.  I am grateful to the rest of the world for letting me be – a benefit not available to 50% of the world’s population.  I am what I am, merely by the roll of a dice.  I am humbled by that.

My goals for the coming year and possibly the future?

Continue doing my stuff sincerely, hopefully with no expectations of returns.

Face the impending life-change with a modicum of balance.  And lots of patience.

Breathe through my life and let not my mental stories rule me.

Accept people and situations for what they are, and not what I want them to be.

Simplify.  Materialistically and spiritually.

That’s it.   Easy in words.  At 44, I am ready for the challenge – after all what’s life without them.


*This morning’s email from a client said “Thank you for your continued support for me in my research. I am happy to share you a good news of my research paper been accepted by International Journal of ****. The decision letter is attached for your reference. It would not have been possible without you maam ” – an email like this, grammatical error and all, makes my job so much more worthwhile than the increment to my bank balance.

Daily Medley: 27-Sept-2018

Don’t you just love it when the days rush past you in a whoosh, and you realise that you haven’t quite sat down with a cup of tea, doing nothing in about 36 hours?  Of course, the third such day makes your body beg for mercy, but the endorphins do good to the brain.  However, at some point, the body would decide to take matters into its own hands and crash, and I can see that coming shortly, but until then, let let the weak flesh not hinder the willing spirit.

The day ahead promises to be hyper busy.  As usual, I have taken on more than I can handle at work (the word is “no”, LG), and  one particular document, which I thought would be cakewalk, considering that I have been doing stuff like that for the past 17 years, surprisingly has me tied in knots.  Partly because I tried out a new documentation software (“Scrivener”, anyone?) and after two days of working with it, have come to the conclusion that while it is great for humanities/creative writing kind of work, it is not good for scientific documentation because  Back to good ol’ Word, I suppose.  MS-Word is a very inefficient program in terms of the backend memory guzzling, freezing, hanging etc., but it offers me all the functionalities that I need, and that is all matters when you are racing against time to meet deadlines.  Classic pushing-much-under-carpet routine of mine.

Navarathri begins this weekend.  I am not enthusiastic about it this year, because of work deadlines but knowing me, I would gather myself in the last minute and put together an extravaganza of sorts and kick myself about doing it.  Ah, the joys of routine.

Yeah, I am stalling.  I better get back to work if I need to get stuff done before the big crash comes.

Until the next post, people…





Do I hear something?

I finally understood what “surreal” is all about.

My birth family is top heavy – there are more people on the senior-citizen scale than there are at the junior levels, thanks to the single-child, children-elsewhere and no-child policies adopted by the earlier generations.  This has left fewer of us in the prime age group as against a battalion in the adult-diaper section.  Thus far, my unbelievably  generous cousin has been the sore caretaker of all the orphan oldies in the family, but she sought me out recently because the ratio is unfavourable on her time and energy.  Given my own familial and professional commitments, I have not been able to do much to ease her burden.

Today, two aunts, both of them under tight grips of diabetes, had to visit their doctor.  The cousin was tied up with other commitments, and I offered to take her place.  Thus, I shepherded two aunts (79 and 74) and one uncle (84) to the doctor.  Of the three, one is deaf (but prefers to call it “hard of hearing”), one is senile and the third is cranky.  And the three attempted to have a conversation in the car.

“What did you eat this morning?”

“Isn’t it?  The heat is much no?”

“No no, she is asking what you ate?”

“why are you getting annoyed?  I am talking to manni, no?”

“Did you see Velukkudi’s upanyasam on television this morning?”

“Why is LG looking so thin?”

ME: “Periyamma,  I put on 5 kilos in the past year…you need your eyes checked”

“I keep telling her to get her eyes checked. she can’t see a thing.  She never listens to me.  See what LG says?  you won’t listen if I tell you ?”

“Why are you yelling at me?  I am talking to manni no?  Why can’t I talk to manni without you yelling?”

By the time we entered the clinic,  I believe the hospital workers had an argument on who the patient was – one or more of the oldies, or the very frazzled looking younger woman with them. As if their cross-talk was not enough, in the hospital the nurse kept addressing the two aunts as mother – “amma” being a generic term in our part of the world, suitable for use with any older woman.  So the nurse goes “did you take amma’s weight?”, and I go “which amma?”  “your amma” “but my amma is dead”  “oh then who was the amma you came with?”  “I came with two ammas”  “but didn’t you just say your amma was dead?” “yeah, but I came with my aunts – both are my periyammas (father’s brothers’ wives), so which periyamma do you want?” I could see the nurse imagining whacking me on my head with the two files.

Four hours.

The four hours gave me infinitely more satisfaction than anything I have done ever in my life so far. I can hear a calling – it is faint, but there is a definite ring. There is a faint voice in my head saying – this is what you should be doing, LG…this is your destiny.  Is it really my calling or just a figment of my imagination?


What to say when you have nothing to say

…or perhaps too much.

There are way too many words in my head, most of which elicit emotions that have no words to describe – wistful, irritated, I don’t know – not the positive ones though. It seems like it has been a while that I felt happy for no reason.  I kept attributing it to PMS, but now that I don’t have that to blame, I can only take it as an attitude failure.

The irony is that I have no reason to not be happy.  A satisfying family, an exciting job, good health – I can’t even find a reason to complain.  Yet, I have a feeling of ennui, which sometimes morphs into abject panic.  As much as I try to get the past and future out of my head and stay in the moment, the moment seems always coloured by them – the past raising anger, and the future, fear.

I am not sure if this is a pathological condition that needs medication or merely poor attitude that needs a complete overhaul.  Even dreams are psychedelic – last night was fraught with so many of them – some fantastic, some banal, but all of them leaving behind an aftertaste of something unpleasant.  Like the neem-extract your parents made you drink when you were young.  No matter how many spoonfuls of sugar you crunched on after that, the bitterness remained for a long time around your throat.

Is this what midlife-crisis feels like?  Last year, I was disturbed about my dwindling youth. This year, I have embraced my age with élan – I will tun 44 in 8 days, and the thought does not disturb me one bit -in fact, I merely see it as a number nothing more.  My job is going great – I am fairly wellknown now as a documentation expert and I am turning down projects more than ever for lack of time.  My daughter is at the age when I am loving our interactions – heck, I can use four letter expletives with her now  – yesterday when she was upset about her bad math exam, I told her that to f-up is ok –  I have eff-ed up my life more than anyone else – and I used the whole word to her without batting an eyelid – can life get any better?  Yet, I am nervous.  I am anxious.   I can’t sit to meditate because I hyperventilate.  And I bottle up the irritation that arises at completely banal things.

I know I am exposing my vulnerable state with this public post.  The reader perhaps imagines a dark, gothic woman, staring into open space with tears in her eyes and a frown on her brows.  Nothing could be further from reality.  I laugh hysterically at my daughter’s Tamil, smile at neighbours, hum a tune in the bathroom, throw things around in the kitchen, get facials done in the local parlour and go about my daily life much like the next person.  The darkness is inside, and now here, that I chose to expose it. During rare times that I rant aloud, my daughter jokes that I need to be on tumblr, which is full of people who are anxious and depressed-  I get offended with her that she would classify me as being anxious or depressed – but deep down, I know she may be right.

I just need to hang in there and ride out the storm.  There is bound to be a calm beyond it.


Daily Medley: 20-Sept-2016

I have never been to Great Britain, but from what I read, it is almost always cloudy, gloomy and wet.  Like Chennai is today.  I wonder how more Britons don’t fall off the Big Ben –  with just one gloomy day, I am ready to push people off cliffs.

When I was younger, I would love this weather because it would mean lounging around reading story books with a cup of tea and snacks.  Now it bothers me because I have to make that tea and snacks if I were to lounge around – and I don’t make good chai.  Besides, the stupid guilt would kill me – “do you remember you have two documents to finish today, AND a large deadline coming up?  do you?”.  The kindle with the Wuthering Heights is mocking me from my bed.

Talking of Wuthering Heights – I read it for the first time when I was in high school, and hated its guts.  Three decades later, I am loving it. My brain is weird.

And tired.  It always bothers me that although I really love handling documents – editing, writing, whatever – at the end of the working day, my brain feels really tired.  Stuff one enjoys does not tire one out, does it?  I have only worked four hours today, I agree, on a challenging document, but my head already feels like it has been chopped and sautéd in lard.

Oh well, domestic chores await.  Until tomorrow then…