Sunday, April 28, 2013

Surprises for toppings!

When times are tough and when you feel like there is no light at the end of this tunnel, you might want to take your mind of that feeling and think about something that can make you feel good.
So what I do is, I forget the current state of things and I choose to think of the good past. See, there are two kinds of the past, the good and the bad, it is better to think of the good past because the bad past will trouble you even more.
I always do this self therapy sessions and it helps me keep calm and feel that its all going to be ok.

I think of somethings from the past, somethings that has made get through life all the way. I chose to think of those moments of joyful surprises. It was mostly my parents who surprised. Im surprised that they still love me :).
Im mean  no one else, no school friends, no college friends, no girl friends surprises (yea right tell me about that).
Starting from the age that i could begin to remember things, as in storing those moments in my memory, and these are event from pre kindergarten and very early years of my life.  Some things that never can be erased, memories i will take it with me to my grave!  things that I know it would flash in my eyes during the time of my sweet death. 
So i'm noting all this down , if in case i lose my memory i can look this up and think that i had a wonderful life, as a child and the rest of my adult hood was just a black hole.

1.       It was when my mother had planned in feeding me, get me taste some non vegetarian food, she might of thought i wouldn’t like it or would i? So she had to do this with a plan that she had in her mind. It was one afternoon, like as usual, around half past noon she will call me to have lunch and i mostly prefer to sit on the veranda or the stairs of the back door that opens to the backyard.
S    I was sitting in the veranda and she came with vessels that was more than the normal course, it was usually a bowl of rice with curry and some vegetable as sides.
      On this particular day there was a plate on which there were rice balls all shaped that looked like a cue ball, she took one, dipps into the curry and gave it to me. What she had done is that she had placed a small shred of steamed fish, hid it inside the center of each ball of rice. As I was munching on it I got to the part where i hit the piece of fish and my eyes grew big and I turn and look at my mother and she was smiling, I was thinking“what has she done that it taste so different but whatever she has did, she did good”. I was silent for a moment because i was sinking into the feeling of this fresh new taste and also because I had food in my mouth. I had to wait and chew it down and I look at her again and asked her, “ma what is that I taste different with the rice?” she smiled and said “its fish, do you like it”?, she was so eager to know my response. She likes fish,  from the place we come from, Kerala, fish is one of the main item in everyday meal. And we cook fish so feel it tastes best. At that time the closest I’ve come to a fish is a golden fish that I had in a small fish bowl. I got up and went inside to check on the fish. There was the bowl and so was the fish inside. I was just making sure i'm not eating that one. I went back to my mother and I said “I liked it ma can I please see it?” and she had kept the plate of fish curry right beside her and she showed it to me and that was the first time I’m seeing the fish that I ate it in the form that it totally blew my mind . And even more surprised me that I tasted so good. Till date, I love fish, in any form, size, shape. 

      Few more that comes to my mind now as i wrote the previous para
2.       As a child  I spent most of my time outdoors, mostly the back yard , now don’t visualize a back yard with a tree house, with cherry and apples trees and playful rabbits and black swans in the pond. The backyard i spent my time was like a thick rain forest themed landscape, wild and rich with nature's love. I even felt it had weather of its own. There were a foot long centipedes, green vine snakes, mongooses, bull frogs, chameleons, giant spiders, bugs that looked like it had horns like the rhinos, dragon fly that stung if you try to catch it, these things just kept me totally occupied. There is nothing i will think about when i'm inside that space. I dint need anything else, just my backyard. The neighborhood kids where older than me and they played cricket mostly and my mother was not willing to see me with bruises on an everyday basis, I was too small to play with them. So one day she planned to finish all her house chores and take me to the nearby park. I’ve only heard of this park but never been inside. Usually when I pass through the park I hear the  kids laughter and but I wont be able to see any of them, I can only hear them because the park was surrounded and covered with trees. It was a thick tall  wall of ‘ashoka’ trees. 
She told me in the evening that she is taking me to the park that i was always curious about. I was too excited and couldn't wait. 
When we reached near the park I was thinking to myself, how are we going to get inside this place?  I have not seen the gate or an entrance to the park. My mother took me around the park and walked towards a thick tall brush, as we got closer I realized it was actually the gate. The gate was completely covered by vines. She pushed it open the rusted handle, and it swung open and there I was, the magical land that was just a street away from my house. It was the greatest day of my life. No wonder I heard the kids laughter every time I passed this place.  This is the land of joy and one can live happily ever after here i thought. There was a pond, there was small bridge over the pond, there was fountain which looked like a lotus flower, the whole place was totally a  wonderland to me. I was very surprised that day about this place, I was so happy that my mom wanted to take me to this place.  I’m not sure how the place looks now but the place i'm talking about is the indira nagar children's park, near to hindu school in adayar, Chennai. 

3.       My father was a busy man, he worked almost seven days a week and it was real hard physical work. He worked at the Port of Madras as a service engineer for the ships that docked there.  The dust, the dirt that one cannot imagine is what he used to carry back home on his shirt, trousers and layers of coal. Its was real heavy hard work. He tries his best to give good times and best times for his family. His level of patience and the sacrifices he has done for his family makes him the world’s best dad and my hero.  
It was one sundays after I was acting very cranky and as I child I really dint understand the value of Sunday for a hard working person like my dad. I mean these guys wait for that one day and that one day we kids won’t let them have it. (Children are like punishment for young parents for having sex!p- courtesy evelyn harper, two and half men)
I was just bored and back in those days there was only limited amount of good tv shows on national tv. No cable, no cartoon network, no nothing.  On Sundays, most kids felt like chronic alcoholics on a dry day. 
I just wanted to get outside the house and do something new, my father gave up, asked my mother to pack few change of clothes and some towels in a bag and asked her to get me ready. He told her that he was taking me to the beach and my mother was “oh the beach? are you sure you to take him to the beach?” with a very concerned tone, and i was thinking like wow wow wow hold on a second, im right here and I can hear you guys so could someone please tell me what is a ‘beach’? is that a place where kids get grounded for bad behavior? 
I was asking him all the way during the ride on his bike, 'what is a beach'? and he just kept repeating to me “you will see, you will see,” with a poker face , so I really was worried of what is coming next.
As we were nearing the place we were heading, the skyline changed, it was more blue sky, clear sky, and I can’t see much of trees or buildings and it was all strange to me to see such open sky. I have never been to this side of the town before.  The roads got sandy as if we are almost off road and my dad stopped his bike and asked me to get off. He parked it next to a grocery store and we started to walk. All the way I could smell salty fish and kept asking him “where are you taking me?”, and he kept repeating “you will see, you will see”…We walked for close to a mile and at a far distance I saw a bright white big structure with a arc like the gate of a moghul's palace and to my level of knowledge I had then i thought it was the ’taj mahal’, because we had a miniature model of taj mahal a souvenir inside a glass box that was kept as a display piece in the cup board at home and I thought this is the real deal and I yelled “taj mahal” my dad laughed and said no that is not the taj mahal that is the monument built for a sailor who lost his life in these shores.  I dint take my eyes of that structure till I walked passed it as something else caught the corner of my eye and Im seeing the ocean for the first time, the greatest of all surprises. I took the longest breath ever and I just sat there, I kept starring at the waves, I had no words to say and my father is looking at me and back to the sea and he did that many times with a smile on his face. He just trying to read my feelings about the whole thing. I had this sense of fear, terrified, a feeling of  respect for those thundering breaking, rippling waves,the rush of excitement to see amount of water that I have ever seen before, respect for the mighty ocean that swallowed the whole big bright sun and a set of hundred questions that I’m going to nag him with later that day. After about 30 mins of pleasant shock and surprise, my father came to me said to go wet my feet, and slowly enter the water. I was happy to hear those words; I was not very scared, I was only curious. I saw thousands of small crabs in and out the sand running up and down after each wave, I saw small shiny creatures that my dad told me they were star fishes. Back in those days one can see large fishes diving in and out the ways close to the shore. It was fishermen’s paradise. I played for couple of hours and i was not tired and i wanted not to leave . It was becoming dark and we had to head back. I couldn’t wait to tell my mother what I saw that day. When we got home my mother was waiting at the gate for us to return. She saw me and she was glad to see my smiling face and waving at her and entering the garage. When I got inside my mother wanted to know from my dad how I was there, and my father replied, he was ok, he was cool and he played in the water. My mother turned me to me and asked weren’t you scared? I nodded no and I sat down to tell her things that I saw at the beach.

4.       I did not have too many toys to play with but I had no complaints, I would just play with anything that I amuse me. I would spend a whole day with few bugs and build houses for them with leaves and twigs, I would dig deep into the soil to find earthworms, catch a chameleon by its tail and feed the bugs that I caught.  It always fascinated me as how a chameleon which looked like a dried bark of a tree turned so green when it lands on the green grass. Butterflies, huge ones with beautiful colors spread across its wings.  I would catch a pretty one and take it to my mom to show, she would say it is nice but will ask me to let go of it soon as I catch. She did not like me catch butterflies at all.
I was a huge fan of  the comic character ‘tarzan’, my father once rented the movie from a local library, and I liked the way those tribal people used bows are arrows and I used to imitate them.  Maybe my mother was noticing all the monkey things i do. One day my mother called me to the backyard and told me “let me make a toy for you to play with”. She took a small kitchen knife and went to the guava tree that stood at the corner of our backyard, she cut a bark about a meter long and sat down near the well and started to shave it even on all side and made it look symmetrical. First I thought she is making a fishing stick, because she had a roll of twine next to her. She took 3 folds of the twine to the length of the stick and started to plate it in the same style the same way she makes my sister’s hair.
She made the twine to hold strong and checked if it is strong enough. She tied one end to the stick and then she bend the stick with holding between her toes and the she tied the other end. Now, I kind of got the idea what she was making. She checked if the stick is bent right to the center and she pulled the twine and checked the tension.  It was good enough for what she was intending to do.  I was watching everything that she was doing carefully without a question because there was no theory involved and I understood everything from the practical experience visually.  She later took few pieces from a broom. The broom is made of thin stems that you can find in between the stems of a coconut tree. The leaves are removed and only the sticks are stocked, and by tying all the sticks together it is made into a broom to sweep the floors. When these stick are dry they become even more harder and stronger.
She took one straw and held the end with the larger base on to the twine, pull the twine and she told me, watch, she pointed the arrow to a banana tree and said “see where the arrow goes”. The banana tree was at least 20 meters away from us and she then let go of the arrow. I dint realize what happened, the thing I saw is that one of the leaves of the banana tree moved from the stillness, there was no air to move those leaves. I could see the arrow gone half way into the leaf. She showed it to me a couple of times, how to hold, how to aim and when to let go. She asked me to promise me that I would never use it on animals or anyone, she also asked me to promise her not to improvise what she showed me with bigger sticks and sharper arrows. I was blindly saying yes yes yes to everything because I couldn’t just wait to get hands on experience on the bow and arrow that my mother made for me.
It was the most precious gift and the best toy that I got and that was a great surprise that now I have a toy that I really like to play with forever.
Till date, I like to shoot. Bows and arrows, bow guns, cross bows, blow pipes, I go almost every weekend now to the Abu Dhabi armed officers club to practice targets with 9mm.

5.       Birthday parties used to be a huge deal for children back then. I do not remember much of my birthday parties, there is always something more important to celebrate on that day because it also falls on the New Year’s Day, the 1st of January.  So the highlight was always the New Year and nothing else mattered to anyone including myself. All I look forward is to a yummy piece of creamy cake, any cake would do, I just love cakes.
I think it was my 12th birthday. So I think it was the year 1992. This is when my grandmother, my mother’s mother used to stay with us in a small apartment in the city. 
The previous day everyone at home was very busy running up to the grocery store and buying a lot of colored papers, my amooma (grandmother) was making payasam, a traditional dish made only for special occasions and I thought this was all for the new year’s. I had no clue about what they were all upto. In the evening my mother called my sister and asked to invite everyone. She was all out on a door bell ringing spree everyone’s door bell inviting everyone. I dint know what the invite was for.  She also took her bicycle and set out to call more people other than the friends lived in our apartment.
A few weeks back my grandmother was discharged from the hospital. She was treated for macular, a kind of eye disease. My grandmother was very dear to me. She was the sweetest, the most loving and caring person I have ever met. It’s just not to us she was that way, she was a care giver to everyone in her village. Anyone who is hungry can knock the doors of “Pankajakshi” (my grandmother) and they are sure to be treated and well fed. She would also pack whatever she has to take it with them. I learn generosity and to be kind to people who are in need of help from her.
During her time in the hospital I was concerned that there must be somebody to always take care of her and she did have her angel of a person there. A nurse named ‘Sicily’ was taking care of her and was very kind to her. 
On the day of my grandmother’s home coming, I asked my mother if Sicily come home for New Year’s?

Now preparations were going on full swing, the house activities closes by 10pm everyday but tonight everyone was awake past 11pm. I was tired of running around the neighbor hood but I slept soon.
In the morning my mother and father woke me up together with a big smile and kissed me and said “happy birthday” I never had felt so cared or loved like that day. I felt really special. How I wish to remain as a child and wake up to that moment every single day. Nothing else could have mattered. 
I am still sleepy but I want to be awake to feel every minute of the joyous New Year. As I walked into the living room, it was full of colored papers, and big golden sign reads 'happy birthday balu', I’m sure that’s my dad’s work.  There were lots of inflated balloons in a box, my mother was busy helping my grandmother. My sister looking at me who was trying to inflate a balloon and said “happy birthday da”. My father asked me to get ready , he was taking me to the temple.  I wore new clothes and set out to the temple. My prayers were always the same, let there be rain tomorrow and school must be closed. That’s all I pray for
When I came back, the preparations for lunch were all set. It was my favorite dishes spread on the dining table and that made my day! I was and am a culture food enthusiast.
After that great meal I was tired and I needed rest. I took a short nap and my mother woke me up in the evening asked me to get ready. ‘For what?’.  Now the house was even more decorated. It was filled with balloons and color papers. There were boxes of frooti , frooti used to be the most hyped mango juice back then and it was everyone’s favorite, even my grandmother would be tripping on the juice sometimes.  Around 5 in the evening, I heard a lot kids outside my door and I thought all the kids are running down to go play, then I hear absolute silence and mixed with giggles and laughter and followed  by a door bell. My mother opened the door and soon as she opened it about a dozen of kids from the apartment along with their parent’s stormed inside the house yelling “happy birthday balu”. Till date, when I see movies or shows where people give the “surprise birthday yell” I would feel, hey no one was ever surprised like I once had.  It was one hell of surprise; I never imagined that so many people can actually turn up for a kid’s birthday. It actually took few minutes for me that I am actually in a birthday party and fun part is that it was my frigging birthday.
And the door was kept open, my mother kept it opened and I remember every 5 mins people were coming in. I dint care of anything else but just wanted the time to stretch as much as it can to share this happiness with the people who are with me now. I was even more surprised that the nurse Sicily from the hospital came to wish me.  There were gifts for everyone, there were so many things to eat, the cake was awesome and the evening was splendid. My father and mother are great hosts and ensured everyone was well received and attended.
I know how much it would have taken for my mother and father to manage that party.
I was not born with a silver spoon but I was the richest kid with the immeasurable wealth of love. It was the only birthday I remember and I’m happy to remember this one only.

6.       I’m not sure if you call that ADD, or you just call that, ‘this shit is boring in class’. Anyhow, I love to imagine things and I would go places with my imaginations. One of the reasons that its hard for me to read books is that I would imagine and create the situation in my head about what I’m reading and I would prefer to stick to those visuals than just text.  ‘mungerli lal ki haseen sapney’ used to be a TV show that my parents used to watch and they used to refer the lead character similar to mine. Due to this ‘super condition’ I had, i was not so great at school, actually I sucked at academics because I also had another issue, they call it weird but I think it was ‘necessary reasoning’. That started too early, it’s just that I couldn’ relate to what I read and what is actually out there.  So I choose to imagine or think about way too many things that are real and more possible. My eyes were always outside the window of my class room. There is a world out there that I should go out and explore right now instead I’m sitting in a class room here every day  for almost 8 hrs, is practically a waste of time and it really was. And I did not like the fact that teachers, who are supposed to teach and share experience and values, are actually the ones messing things up. I hated segmentation in school, I hated discrimination, I hated the first bench attention, I hated the system totally.  I’m glad that the system has changed a lot today, but back then schools were educational institutions managed by people who did not find any other jobs.
When one class gets over, I know there is something bad coming up with the next one and it would land straight on my face. Either a surprise test or load of more home work that is going to eat up my play time, my play time damn it!
So this was one of those days I’m tired and angry with classes after classes, I think I was in the fourth or fifth grade or something, and it was the first class right after lunch. It was the social studies class and i was sleeping with my eyes open. The school peon knocks on the door and walks in with a paper and handed over to my teacher. 
She calls out my name “balaganesh”, which shook me up like a canon ball hitting me right to my stomach. Man the scariest name called is my own name and when it is called by one of the teachers. I must have done something wrong somewhere and I don’t know if I really did that, or when did it happened.  She looked at me and said, “You are wanted in the office, take your bag and everything and leave”, I replied “I didn’t do anything”. With a frown she replied “no, it’s your father, he is waiting for you at the office”. Then I thought man, this is the shit right here, I am done for something that I did not do.  But one thing I was happy is that I’m getting out of school right after the lunch break. Awesome!
As I came down the stairs I saw my dad with a very straight face and no reaction nothing, usually he smiles.  I went close to him but kept a distance. He asked ‘what’s wrong?’ And I said, “you are here in the middle of my classes so you tell me what’s going on”? He then smiled and said, “we are going for a 2 week vacation”, I went like “WHHHAAATTT! Please tell me the truth and don’t play with me right now”. He said “no I don’t have the time to paly, now hop on the bike and we got to go home and get ready”.  Oh my god that was the best surprise ever!!  He takes me away from school middle of my classes and then tells me that we are going for a 2 week vacation and that means no f****** school for 2 whole weeks. Beat that surprise!

These things I keep playing it as my favorite movie that I enjoy to watch over and over again, not missing the tiny details stored in memory. This helps me relax, enjoy and think that life isn’t always a bitch!  
Thanks to my mother and father to always be there to tell me it’s all ok! 

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