Thursday, 31 October 2013

Dance lessons from a 7 year old

Between my husband and I, we definitely have 4 left feet, if not more. Imagine our shock, then, when our enthusiastic 7 year old daughter (yes, by some miracle of God, she actually loves dancing. Since it can’t be genes, we can only thank the school, the daycare, her friends or just her God-gifted twinkle toes) decides to take matters into her own hands and teach us dancing. And she is, of course, one strict teacher. She won’t allow us us breaks to peep into our laptop screens for mails which might have come from bosses or respond to facebook likes and philosophic comments that might have come from friends. The word stops. We need to dance to her tunes.

So, that night after dinner, we clear the table and our throats and stand in attention. The lesson starts:


The fact that we almost collapse in a heap and hardly manage to get a step is quite besides the point.

As our daughter, by then, her inept students forgotten, stands, lost in her perfect ballet stance, it strikes me, what more can she teach us, if we allow her to?

Do parents always need to be the teachers or we can leave aside our egos and let our children take the lead at times? What lessons can they teach us?

-“She was hungry, Mama, I gave her my tiffin”. Lesson – compassion and kindness, ability to give regardless of what we have. The most powerful lesson our children can teach us.

-“Don’t use the plastic, Papa, let’s get a paper bag” Lesson – they care for the environment and refuse to take short cuts even if we do at times.

-“Today is Saturday, time for a long story” Lesson – not plan every minute of our lives but just enjoy unhurried and unstructured moments that unfold leisurely.

-“Eat this Papa, I mixed chocolate in the chicken” Lesson – creativity, in the smallest of things, the wonder, the amazement of learning and the complete lack of cynicism and ‘I know it all’ that some of us get used to displaying, as adults.

-“No problem, Mama, if you have a call till late, just talk quickly and come home early” Lesson – solutions before cribs, when we often get lost in stating the problem.

-“You are the best Mummy, Papa in the world, and now give me a Kinderjoy”. Lesson – Inspiration in the people around us – maybe appreciate friends and colleagues more, they might also be happy and give us our version of Kinderjoys.

In her own amazing, funny and creative way, she teaches us something new everyday. 

We may never be able to learn the complicated ballet steps, but hopefully we can at least do some Bollywood jhatkas with her and in time, maybe dance the Lungi dance together a-la Sharukh Khan. 

And learn to be a parent worthy of being called her mother.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

From Salads O No, to Salads, Hello

"Salads, Yuck" has been my motto for most of my life.

Growing up in a staunchly Bengali household dedicated to the unwavering search for the freshest fish and the sweetest sweet, I grew up in blissful ignorance of the vast world of salads.

Fibre be damned and greens, well, who on earth heard of that?

The only taste of salad I remember were the customary, large, round, pieces of onion, cucumber and tomato that used to be the standard accompaniment to the Sunday morning, post-Mahabharata, feast of Mutton curry and rice. But well, with the omnipotent Kosha Mangsho around, did anyone else stand a chance? We had so much more to chew on than just cucumbers and onions.

Little wonder then, that I stared in amazement when Popeye extolled the virtues of spinach and wrinkled my nose at the occasional "shak" that dared to venture near our fish-laden plates.

Experimental trips to taste continental cuisine in restaurants mostly had me scraping off the pieces of chicken with utter concentration leaving the bland, bits of boiled carrots and beans to wilt away in abject disgrace.

Till the following kicked in:
  • A 7 year old, world travelled, Masterchef watching daughter with her own gourmet demands
  • An urge to finally battle the post-motherhood weight gain
  • The world of BBC Good Food Magazine that made salads look good, mouthwatering, even
  • Nigella, Masterchef Australia and a host of other cooking shows on television that showed salads not just as side-kicks to the glorious meats and fishes but as delicious dishes by their own, healthy rights
  • Salad talk did sound way cooler than cucumber when Matt Preston spoke about it in his trademark style in Masterchef Australia
  • And did I mention that salads are the easiest to cook and amazing to try your hand at creativity with myriad salad dressings sitting invitingly in Natures' Basket counters?
So, our Sunday morning lunch is a far cry from those good, old days. Mutton, or no mutton, yummy salad is always the first course on offer, much to the surprise of my parents.

Did you know there is a salad for every palate,
Cold pasta, Chicken Ceasar, Waldorf,
Spicy Thai, Gourmet Italian, what's to hate?
Easy to try, just mix and toss,
For extra spice, add chat masala or a dash of pepper sauce,
And say hello to weight loss!

Greek salad with grilled lemon chicken..Source - Internet

Sunday, 20 October 2013

The shades of life

We know them well,
They who ruled our dreams and our nightmares,
The angel of white,
Of hope, of love,
A mother’s undying love, a friends’ unshaken belief,
Childhood’s caress, love’s unspoken faith.
The devil of black,
How well we know him.
The black loss of despair,
The swirling snake of hatred.
The empty seed of envy, the ruthless power of ambition,
We grew up watching them, Dancing to their tunes,
But where are they now?
And who are these shapeless forms, watching us instead? 
Unknown, unseen mass clouded by grey,
The mangled web of mediocrity, The naked face of fear,
The shaking hand of indecision, The laughter of cynicism,
The insipid lack of inspiration, The fake smiles of polite disdain,
All shrouded in grey,
They surround us. They engulf us.
We look for the known faces,
The familiar world of black and white,
But they recede further,
The quagmire of grey rises.
It shifts, it turns, the faces change, the faces leer,
You gulp, you gasp, you try to breathe, you try to run,
But your legs give up, you stand rooted, tranfixed.
It is too real to be a dream, too real to be a nightmare,
It is too real,
This endless, rising, blanket of grey.