Archive for category Fun

Back porch

We have a beautiful porch to the back of our home. It’s not a large area, it’s a tiny space. But sitting there, looking into the backyard filled with tall Pine trees, imparts a deep sense of peace. In fact, it is one of the main reasons behind why I chose to make this house our home instead of any other that we’d seen when we moved years almost three years ago. I still remember the excitement I felt the first time I walked in and discovered this place… it seemed magical.

Right away, I could picture myself hanging around there on a nice summer day, possibly reading a good book as the breeze graced through gently. Or just sitting there gazing into the thick woods as the spring brought back greenery all around. Or having an amusing conversation with K while sipping on a cup of coffee. Or merely taking a nap, letting the lull of the afternoon lure me into a sweet slumber. Or lazing around there while the sun blazes down, listening to the songs of the million birds that seem to be chirping outside. Before I knew it, my mind drew up myriad possibilities of how I would enjoy living here and I leaped into my world of dreams.

After moving in, the first thing that we bought was a Hammock to hang in the back porch. Both of us had pretty much fallen for that idea as soon as it had taken shape months ago. So there was no question, no debating, no waiting. We went, we bought. Then we got back home and set it up, making it one of the most beloved and sought out corners of the home.

We spend quite some time there on warm hours of the year. Weekdays mostly are out of the question, unless we make it a point to get home early and relax before hitting the bed. Otherwise, we pass time there on all those weekends that we are not traveling one place or another, doing all that I’d imagined we’d one day do in that space, and more.

Lying down on the Hammock and letting the gust of wind weave a trance is delightful in its own way. I’ve splurged hours there, in that cozy corner, reading on numerous evenings. Friends have joined us, now and then, to unwind… clicking of beer bottles as everyone settles in, crackling of the milk that boils in the kitchen getting ready for coffee or tea to be prepared, playing music to create a pleasant milieu, echoing of laughter as someone tells a joke… those walls have seen a lot of happiness being shared in various occasions.

Last year, once tickets were reserved and I eagerly awaited everyone’s arrival, I started envisioning the times they might spend in the back porch. I wanted them to bask in the glory of the porch as much as we had done so far. Perhaps they will come to appreciate this little area and use it during the day as and when they pleased. I hoped that it would give me chance to write and add chapters to the memory book that I held so dear. That space, however, went mostly unnoticed during the months of their stay.

Daylight hours were consumed indoors by completing chores or by watching tv or by going for walks on a nearby trail. And evenings and weekends we mostly traveled, leaving little time to none to spend at home. The only stint that they opened the door to the porch for was when it was an especially hot day and they saw an opportunity to use the sunlight to dry clothes. K and I pushed the idea of sitting there and relaxing every now and then, but after a few nods it was instantly forgotten.

So, one evening, as soon as we came home, K declared that we would have that night’s dinner on the porch. While the idea was met with a little resistance, we got each person to agree soon after and preparations were made. Everything was setup on the little table outside and we all gathered around, with plates in hand. It wasn’t easy to fit in so many people in that space, but it wasn’t impossible either. We adjusted, we settled and we started dinner. Conversations went on and on, as they did on most of the nights during supper. All of us were having a good time.

Suddenly, I realized I hadn’t carried the keys out with me. With colossal optimism that someone else remembered to get the keys with them, I looked at my SIL and presented my question without anyone else noticing. All that hope for nothing; it was hanging on a thin rope and the rope gave away. Before she could mouth her answer to me, her eyes, lucidly, conveyed that she doesn’t have it either. Quiet still, as to not panic the elders, we both looked at K, and let him know that we were possibly locked out of the house. While he sat there conjuring brilliant plans to get us in, I walked over to the door, again with big fat hope sitting on thin slab of glass, and tried to open it, expecting it to not resist… who knows, maybe the knob on the inside wasn’t turned to lock position before the door was closed. Alas, that effort was rather otiose.

And now everyone knew.

I tried picking the lock with a hairpin that someone had handy, which didn’t work. In those few minutes, K let me and SIL know that he left the big glass leading to the living room unlocked, and he could get in from there if it came down to that. So, now with the escape plan was now established amongst the three of us, K decided to hold on to it and not let the others know that there was a strategy in motion.

There was not as much dread as I expected, but a few of them, especially the ones who challenged the dinner plan in the first place, were now extra eager to get into the house. Points were thrown around as to what could be done – what about spare keys, wouldn’t any of your friends have one? how about calling the police, would they be able to help? well, we can easily do what police may do if we were to call them – break the glass on the door above the lock and unlock, we will be in, shall we do that? what about getting in through one of the windows, would we be able to pry it open?

We let continue the discussion into despair. How so callous of us, right? Some of them were certain K had a plan in mind and hence he was quiet and not participating in offering suggestions, while the others were sure we were doomed and would spend the night freezing outside. And it went on like this for a sometime, panic was starting to strike hard.

A few of them were so keen on charting a fail proof plan to execute soon that they missed K walking out of the porch into the backyard to enter the house through the unlocked door to the family room. And only when we saw him walk towards the porch door from inside that we all came back to normal and started to calm down.

Each second leading up to the end was well worth it, even though not every last person who had dinner with us on the porch that night may agree. It was super intense, but it was equally entertaining, at least to some of us.

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Around the dining table

Growing up, dinner time was not of much significance.

We lived in a joint family setup – with my paternal grandparents, and, sometimes, my uncle and his family – until my teens. Dinner, or any meal for that matter, was served to children first, along with maybe the men in the family, while the women, especially the daughter-in-laws, cooked and served and cleaned before they got their chance at relaxing and enjoying the food. And it was more of getting a chore completed than a pleasurable ritual of sort – we would all sit and finish the food that was on our plates, sometimes complaining, sometimes merrily, and hurry up to get it out of the way.

As I entered my teens, my parents moved us out of the joint family setup and we, the five of us, were now on our own. Still, we never ended up making a memorable tradition out of our mealtimes. If Appa were around, TV would be on, indubitably. And all of us would plop ourselves in front of the idiot box while munching on the food bites. If Appa weren’t around, Amma would have us sit in the kitchen, and it would either be us chatting away letting the food get cold or us silently chewing with only a few words exchanged here and there. Regardless, there was no habit of sorts; it’s just what suited our whims day after another, with no set norm.

Years later, I started living on my own. Now, I had roommate(s) with whom I shared an apartment. Again, in those years nothing changed much. If we were eating at the same time, roommate(s) and I would maybe sit together in front of the tv and eat the food. Else, we ate when each of us fancied and did what we wanted to do. It worked extremely well for this setting though, since we each had our own schedules and moods, so didn’t make much sense bothering others around to adhere to the same. Around and hungry at the same time? Great, we ate together. But there were no issues if it didn’t work out either.

A handful of years of living with roommate(s) gave way to me and K moving into a place that was our home. We started living together, just the two of us. We filled our space with our little quirks and customs we thought was important to us. And the only request K ever had as we started building our own traditions as a family was that whenever we had a meal together, we should make sure that the tv isn’t turned on, hence helping us concentrate on the food and eat well, and also giving us time to connect with each other without any major distractions. I happily gave in to the request; it was something I was not used to and I was looking forward to experiencing it his way.

So, ever since then, we have always made it a point to focus on the food, and each other, while having our meals; we seldom turn the tv on. And I must say, I immensely relish this time of the day. Most of the evenings, we cook after we head back home and then eat after we finish cleaning the kitchen. Most times we talk, generally about the day’s happenings. And at other times, we eat in silence. Even in that quietness, though, rings a calming melody. And all that I cherish, thanks to K.

Last year, we played hosts to a number of guests at our place for the majority of the time. My mother, K’s parents, sister, brother-in-law, cousins, aunts and uncles – all of them traveled all the way from India to spend time with the two of us. And with so many folks around, meal times became even more delightful. I am not sure if K mentioned our practice to them or if they follow it as a family as well, but right from the beginning we all started dining together. No exceptions were made.

Roars of laughter would rise as someone shares a funny anecdote. Polite arguments would arise as someone brings forth a controversial discussion. Tunes of more than one person talking at the same time would have the rest of us in splits. High-pitched voice would be heard as someone is vying for attention from another person across the table. Sentences would be spoken and repeated, for some were hard of hearing, while others (like K) sometimes followed selective hearing in an overly sincere fashion, much to the exasperation of others.

Silence, though, would only fall when someone decided to talk about a heart wrenching incident from the past. Illness. Death. Family problems. Broaching these topics was never easy but it happened from time to time. Be what it may, in those moist eyes of the person recalling the horrific episode, one could invariably spot the reflection of all the other pair of eyes around the table. Silence would break with every pair of eye expressing a million words of consolation. Silence would break with every heavy breath. Silence would break with those first words of request of change in dialogues, reverting attention to some lighthearted chatter.

Suppertime was my favorite time of the day during the eight or so months last year. Even now, months after their departure, every time I walk over to our dining room and look around, I can distinctly see the happy faces; I can close my eyes and hear the voices clearly, as if everyone were still around. And it never fails to bring a big wide smile on my face.

Needless to say, this is the one ritual that I am sure I will follow zealously for years to come.

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Sounds around a happy home

The sweet drumming of various utensils in the kitchen heard alongside the birds’ chirping early in the morning. The voices of people merrily sharing stories as they sit together sipping on tea or eating breakfast. The chorus of good mornings / good evenings heard as K or I walk into the living room. The phone bell ringing every now and then in the house where phone was used oh so rarely. The musical hum of laughter from someone or the other heard throughout the day. The clatter of more than a dozen pair of shoes as the invitation to embrace the evening outdoors is welcomed. The pleasant hullabaloo in the hurry to narrate the day’s happenings to us as we return home from work. The big bustle in the dining room every night as everyone settles down for dinner. The hushed sigh of relief as we all gather in the living room after finishing all the chores in the kitchen and elsewhere.

And the silent sound of love that lingers even during those wee hours of night when everyone has blissfully fallen asleep.

P.S: Mummy and Papa (K’s parents), along with their friends, and two of K’s cousins are visiting us from India. They’ve been here for about ten days now and will be around until October. A few more relatives (his sister, Aunt and Uncle) are scheduled to arrive in June. Needless to say, it’s been a full house, and I’ve been thoroughly enjoying their company. 

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Bye-Bye Mickey. Hello TARDIS.

A month ago we were visiting one my aunts here. After spending a day and half with her family, it was time to leave and we were in the process of loading the bags into the car. Just as we got ready to bid goodbye, my little cousin noticed the palm sized Mickey Mouse that hung about behind the rear-view mirror. “How cute is that!” she exclaimed. And that comment got me working on moving Mickey out of there and into her hands. K echoed my thoughts; he helped me get Mickey out of his constricted state. Within a couple of minutes, we handed Mickey over to her, and then we left.

Mickey had been with me for at least eight years. I’d hung him there the day the car came to be mine and it’s been his home ever since. He’d been enjoying all the trips with us so far. So, understandably, seeing him go pinched the strings of my heart a wee bit, albeit only for a few microseconds. I wasn’t essentially too attached to that toy in any way – when he was around, I’d hardly paid any attention to him… only when someone (read: Amma or K) deliberately disturbed him, I would get bothered; else, his presence always went unnoticed; it was just that he had been an integral part of all the fun rides so far, and the void came about abruptly. Nevertheless, I was mature enough to see that my cousin would cherish his existence more than I ever did, and she would most definitely adore him and love him incomparably. So letting him go wasn’t as hard as I may have thought it would be.

As we drove back home that evening, K kept insisting that he would get me another Mickey to hang there since he didn’t want me to miss Mickey all that much. I dismissed his thoughtfulness saying that I was indeed ok and I didn’t really have any special liking towards Mickey to begin with.

Mickey and I had parted ways. I was glad that Mickey had found a new home, and I moved on.

Fast forward a month to yesterday…

I am working from home. K walks in with a package in his hand. When I ask him what it is, he promptly answers that it is for his friend (a friend of his has recently moved here and he’s been forwarding his mails to our address). And I let it be as we’ve been getting mails/parcels every other day for the said friend, even though I notice that K’s name, not his friend’s, appears prominently on this particular one. K goes around doing his chores and both of us get busy getting ready for an evening out. Just as it is time to step out, K grabs the scissors and cuts open the envelope. I stand there, befuddled, watching him and wondering why he is opening his friend’s mail.

And out the envelope comes a TARDIS key-chain.

My jaw drops. My eyes open as big as an owl’s. My smile is as wide as an ocean. My heart goes on a thrill ride, beating rhythms of perpetual delight. My mind goes wild with euphoria. This is one of the coolest things ever, I am thinking to myself. I grab it from him and gape at it as if I’ve been starved of any amusing sight for a long time.

“It’s for the car,” K says, “you can hang it there. Hopefully this will bring a smile on your face every time you see it, and hopefully you will be more attached to it.”

“Of course, of course. For a self-proclaimed Doctor Who fanatic, having the TARDIS along every time I drive / ride in that car would feel nothing but perfect.  Thank you, love.” I don’t recall if I said these words out loud to him or if I merely played it all in my mind, lest I lose focus on the magnificent miniature time traveling machine replica resting on my palm.

Tiny TARDIS!

Tiny TARDIS!

So, yeah, in a month it’s gone from Bye-Bye Mickey to Hello TARDIS. Life is beautiful, indeed.

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The curious incident of the cats in the day-time*

This week was extremely relaxing. I worked from home four out of the five days. And the partner did too (which is good for him considering the amount of rest he’s been able to get to heal his broken ankle and fever and upset stomach). We had a storm warning Tuesday through Thursday afternoon, so we chose that as an excuse to stay home. No one wants to risk driving on icy roads, you see. And on Friday – well, what better reason than the fact that it’s Friday to sit back and unwind at home?

Most of the mornings and afternoons were spent working, obviously. I did take some time here and there to indulge in some reading, day dreaming, etc. but that’s no different than what I would’ve done had I actually gone to the office. What was different though was that almost all week long we’ve spent a lot of time comfortably lazing around on the couches, gorging on simple yet delicious food, looking out as it snowed, observing the white carpet on the ground melt slowly, listening to the birds chirp merrily, watching the flock of deer as they grazed and ran away through the backyard, and more. Little joys, that’s what it’s all about, right?

Evenings, now those were a little tricky given the partner’s penchant for the outdoors. Make him sit home for a few hours together and his restlessness becomes evident. So, to relieve him of his ennui we had to make sure we stepped out to get some fresh air. Since the weather and his health weren’t at their best, every evening we only made a quick trip to the grocery store (I know that doesn’t count as doing something outdoorsy, but that was best we could do to get some much needed fresh air). It was to get milk during one trip, to buy cereal during the other. We went out to shop for a kettle last evening. We found a really pretty one, but it held our delight only until we tried to boil some water in it and found it leaking, sigh.

The time after dusk, the time that melts into nights, were spent in front of the TV getting lost in the world of witchcraft and wizardry. The partner finished reading all the Harry Potter books earlier this month. And now we are on the magical journey of watching all the movies in the series. We are done with the first four, and we have four more to go. It’s been a fun ride, to say the least. The partner gets flabbergasted over the huge chunks of missing storyline. He often scrutinizes the movie maker’s choice to let an important part slip, cut out a character, tweak storyline, etc. “But this is not how it happens, really.” “Why is the story moving so fast?” “But they missed pointing this or that out” are some lines that can be heard over and over from the movie’s inception to completion. All Harry Potter fans can relate to this, can’t they? I sure can.

Now, let’s talk about the cats. We have at least three different cats that wander our yard throughout the day. One of the cats we know to be our neighbor’s. We’ve seen him around all this time that we’ve lived here. We named him Tiger** way back when and have been calling him that ever since. We don’t know who the other two cats belong to except that they find a home in our yard every single day.

So, all week this week we’ve observed that these cats come and sit right outside the glass door and peep into the living room. And we have been left wondering what all the cats find so intriguing near the glass door. No, we haven’t figured out yet. All the three make it a point to stop near the door and either scratch the door or squeal at it. They don’t come at the same time, but they definitely do the same action whenever they pop in for a visit. The partner had a brainwave and thought perhaps they were hungry. So we put out a bowl of milk. And two of the cats made sure to avoid the bowl at all costs. One though, the brave heart that he is, took a few sips before slipping away. So, apparently it’s not hunger that brings them there. I checked to see if there are any bugs (dead or alive) inside that they can spot from the outside, but that’s not the case either. The partner’s current theory is that perhaps it’s their own reflection that they find amusing as they sit in front of the door. Maybe; maybe not. He also mentioned, time and again, something about them being cold outside and maybe we should let them in. After vehemently denying his request a couple of times, I have chosen to practice selective hearing so I don’t have to break his heart. I am way too generous, aren’t I? That’s what I thought.

When will this curious incident of the cats in the day-time be explained? Will the mystery ever be solved? I don’t know. It’s been amusing, though.

**Back when we had just moved, we didn’t know about Tiger being our neighbor’s. We’d spotted him a couple of times in the first few days we lived here. One of those days when we went on a short stroll on a neighborhood trail we came across a “Missing Cat” poster. The partner called the phone number to let the woman on the other end know that we’d earlier seen a cat in our backyard that was similar to the one on the poster. The woman was thrilled and she came to our place as soon as she could. To her dismay, though,  it wasn’t her cat. Later we learned from someone else that it was our neighbor’s. How much fun we had laughing endlessly at our ignorant willingness to send Tiger away to a new home.

*Have you read The curious incident of the dog in the night-time? If not, please do. It’s a wonderful book.

Happy weekend, folks.

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Happiness is…

…learning that Mummy’s and Papa’s visas have been approved. They will be traveling in a few months and will spend a decent amount of time with us here. Saying that I am eagerly waiting for their trip would be an understatement. I am absolutely thrilled looking into the future and imagining our time together. I’ve only spent a few hectic weeks in their company so far and that has left me with a strong desire for more. I hope to spend endless hours talking listening to their stories. I hope to share hearty laughter sessions at all the silliest of silliness around. I hope to bring brimming smiles on their faces. I hope I can show them, with my actions, how much they mean to me, how blessed I feel to have discovered family in them, how grateful I am to have had them as a strong a pillar of strength and support to me over the past few years, for I fail to find words to express all this to them. I hope to make their trip a memorable one.

…planning a baby shower for a friend. And waiting to shower the little one with so much love.

…seeing the partner and Amma’s bond grow deeper and deeper. They share conversations, secrets, smiles, jokes (some at my cost, but oh well…), etc. She’s come a long way from being extremely cautious around him to being just as comfortable in his company as she is in mine. With every passing day she appreciates more and more the amazing person that he is. She dotes on him, and he cherishes and reciprocates that affection with all his heart. The smiles on their faces as they interact reveals to me a million happy stories even though I may not know the tale behind what brought it all on in the first place. It makes me greedy; I silently gravitate towards wishing for ____________ Wait, let me worry about that some other day, now’s not the time for that. At this moment I will bask in the bliss my content heart – nothing more, nothing less.

…having an old friend of the partner’s over for dinner and leisurely listening to stories from their past. I spent the evening in their company as they reminisced  and shared little anecdotes from the bygone days… Fun!

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Amma Tales

The partner comes home after working out really hard at the gym. Who knows what he did, he reveals to me that there’s incessant pain in both hands/elbows. And with all that soreness he is unable to move his arms as usual. Every time he tries to the ache shoots up. Amma watches his expressions intently all evening long. After a lot of observing, she turns to the sister and wonders, out loud, what has happened to him. My sister wears a puzzled look and tells Amma to ask him if he bench pressed too much.

“Bench what” says Amma.

I turn to the partner and tell him that Amma has a question for him.

“What is it, Ma?” he asks her.

She glances around and inquires, hesitantly,

“Is something wrong with your ankle?”

And all of us take a minute to process her concerned words and then roll on the floor laughing.
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Amma is using the tablet to watch some videos. The charge on the device is falling fast. She turns to me and voices her point,

“This is plugged in. I did it in the morning; still, it doesn’t seem like it is charging. In fact, the charge is being drained. It started off few hours ago with more than 40%, now it’s only 25%.”

“Is it really plugged in, Mother? Check the wall socket.”

“It is! I checked and double checked everything.”

I walk over to inspect – I find that the charger is plugged in to the wall and it seems like it is connected to the tablet too. I wiggle the charger out of the wall socket. Did it help? No. I plug it in to a different socket. Did that help? No. I take the tablet in my hand and notice that the other end of the charger is not pushed into the port but between the tablet and its cover. It just looks like it’s plugged in when seen from far, when in reality it’s only jammed in somewhere, which nowhere near the actual port. I show it to Amma and her reaction is priceless.

“I thought I did it right, she says, it’s my eyes you know, getting worse by the day,” she concludes.

Sigh.
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The partner, Amma and I settle in the living room once we finish dinner and do some cleaning. After a while, the partner gets up to go to the kitchen. As he walks away, Amma turns to me and whispers her trepidation

“Ask him not to touch the pan on the stove. It’ll still be extremely hot.”

“Mummy, why would he go there and touch the pan on the stove for no reason?” I ask.

“Well, I don’t know. What if he gets overly curious? You never know…better warn him than let him get hurt, right?”

To date, just the thought this incident brings loads of laughter…I fail to understand why she thought, at that moment, that the partner’s curiosity is such that he will walk into the kitchen to put his hand on a hot pan.

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