Monday, July 25, 2016

Three films and a weekend

After that weekend post on my peaceful coexistence with clutter, on a bit of a rebound, I decided to clear up our CD collection. Did I tell you we got rid of cable/Tata Sky a few months back? Yeah well, so over the weekend, the kids watch their DVDs, and I thought it would be a good idea to get them in order.

However, I stumbled upon some long forgotten films - a treasure, really. As a result the cleaning was quite forgotten and I sat down for a film-festival of my own.

First it was You've Got Mail

I could do an entire post on that one. Kathleen (Meg Ryan) owns a tiny bookshop while Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) heads a giant bookstore (that drives her out of business). The two bump into each other in a chatroom and a love story unfolds. Films on books and book lovers are a complete treat. Wasn't Kathleen’s Shop Around the Corner just the cutest? I loved how cosy her storytelling sessions were and how she knew just the right book for every child. 

I felt her heartbreak when she could not meet the competition from Joe Fox. And yet I couldn't hate him for he’s sweet too. Their interactions are absolutely heartwarming. 

Some of the dialogues really spoke to me. Consider this one:

Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life - well valuable, but small - and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven’t been brave?

and this:
When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life ever does.

My favourite however, is this one:
Kathleen: ….What happens to me when I'm provoked is that I get tongue-tied and my mind goes blank. Then I spend all night tossing and turning trying to figure out what I should have said.

Kathleen Kelly was definitely the hero of this film for me.

Then I watched Mary Reilly

This one was hidden away with a bunch of more famous Julia Roberts starrers and I had completely missed watching it. Roberts plays Mary Reilly, a maid to Dr Jekyll, with a dark past and an abusive father. She gets embroiled in Dr Jekyll’s experiments as he changes each night to Mr Hyde. He’s a little in love with her but can’t tell her and she’s a bit in love with him too. Mr Hyde however has no such compunctions. He scares her and yet she feels an unexplained attraction. It’s a bit of a dark film but very engrossing. Do catch it if you can.

And finally Sense and Sensibility....

for the hundredth time. 

**Gush Alert**

Jane Austen’s story is of course a favourite (and I won’t even go into that. If you haven’t read it you just should, rightaway) but I also love everything else about this 1995 film. The setting is lovely, the English countryside is breathtaking and the two characters of Elinor and Marianne contrast beautifully. Each of the supporting characters are just right for their parts.
But the bestest part of all was that I completely forgotten it starred Alan Rickman (Snape) as Colonel Brandon. As the strong silent Colonel, he was …. perfect. I could have whacked  Marianne on the head for ignoring him so but then he does get her in the end so it was all forgiven. 

Then there was Hugh Grant being Hugh Grant - the perfectly awkward gentleman - quite his forte. The two ladies Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet were a treat too. Lovely lovely film.

All in all a weekend well spent. As for the cleaning  - that’ll have to wait yet another day. 

How was your weekend? Do you like to re-watch old films?

Linking up with Mackenzie at Reflections from Me

Friday, July 22, 2016

7 reasons not to waste time cleaning up clutter

Are you consistently at war with clutter? It is a formidable enemy, isn't it? One who vanquishes you simply by its existence? But then one should love one's enemy, or at least try to. So here I am - giving you a few reasons. Perhaps there will be a happy ending to this war.

1. You save time: Well obviously. No? Look at this - I, a non cleaner, end up spending about 2 hours everyday cleaning, dusting, putting away stuff and I’m discounting the sweeping, mopping done by the maid. That’s 14 hours a week, 728 hours a year, almost one full month. I could go on a nice long vacation in that time. I cannot even begin to calculate the criminal waste the OCDed indulge in.
2. Clutter makes life easy: I remember once my mum came visiting and while I was away at work she cleared up my room. Next morning when I put my hand under the pile of books which in turn was buried under a pile of clothes, I couldn’t find my earrings. That's exactly where I’d left them last night, I remembered well. But mum had put them away in a neat little box, probably. Why oh why would anyone so complicate their lives? It’s way more comfortable to have things lying around so you can reach out for them when you need them. One of my very dear and very evolved uncles says he’d crawl out of bed leaving the ‘tunnel’ under the covers intact so he could crawl right back in after a hard day at work. Brilliant, I say!

3. Clutter allows for a delicious element of surprise: Now suppose I forget where I left my earrings, yeah the ones under the pile of books, under the clothes. And then one day I pull out a book I want to read and out tumble my favourite pair of earrings. What happiness!! Don’t tell me you’ve never whooped for joy when you found that 500 rupee note tucked away in an old bag.

And here's an 8th reason. I'm not the only one who thinks clutter is good.

4. A cluttered house teaches better body balance: Since you’ll be hopping, skipping and jumping through piles of toys and clothes and books to get across a room, you’d better have good body balance. Somedays I have successfully manoeuvred my way through Barbies, skipping ropes, bottles of glue, hula hoops, sketch pens and superhero action figures while holding aloft a tray with milk glasses and mugs of tea. Oooh I’m good! Do I see a raised judgemental eyebrow? Where’s your spirit of adventure, hunh? If you do trip a few times, well you can only get better.

5. A cluttered house sharpens your senses: Can you spot your pista green cardigan in a pile of a hundred clothes? Well I can. See? That’s what I mean. It takes years of practice to heighten your senses to this level of perfection. Also it teaches you to cut yourself off from your surroundings and focus on the task at hand. And that is a gift, I tell you.

6. Clutter speaks of a gentle heart: How flint-hearted are people who throw away stuff the moment they stop needing it! Downright mean, I say. I still have the kids’ baby sketches and their pre-primary text books as also my clothes from the ‘thin’ era, half finished cosmetics I will never use again and mis-matched earrings and yeah even single socks. I keep them all.

7. You get to know your real friends: There are people who love you for you and then there are the judgemental lot who first check if your house is all spic and span and THEN decide to befriend you. Keep your house cluttered and you drive away fake friends.

That’s it then. Do come on over to our place but give us fair warning and we promise to clear out a place for you on the sofa. We’ll even remind you to dust that half eaten biscuit off your backside when you leave. We’re pretty hospitable like that.

Edited to add: The author takes no responsibility for injuries, physical or social, that might occur if this piece is taken seriously. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Have you played Uno cards?

Have any of you played Uno cards? I’ve always managed to make good my escape, pitting the kids against each other or passing the buck very gracefully to my mother or sister when they have been available. However this weekend I was well and truly caught.

Stuck as I was, I applied myself diligently to the game. ‘They’re just two ten-year-olds’, I thought, ‘how tough would it be to defeat them and get on with my chores?’ 

After about twenty minutes I was more than willing to eat my words (or even my thoughts). The game just refused to end. The idea is to get rid of all your cards but each time I thought I was almost there I’d be saddled with some more. 

There is a whole big bunch of the most complex rules. (Or maybe is it just me with my terrible memory. I’ll never know). Sometimes I got the sneaking suspicion that the children kept changing the rules to suit themselves. I kept being made to skip chances or reverse the order of playing till I had no clue what was going on.

At the end of half hour I just wanted the game to end. I decided I’d try to lose and get over with it. However, that wasn’t happening in a hurry too.

This game of cards is U.N.E.N.D.I.N.G! 
(Quite like the Game of Thrones, which I am also ploughing through these days.)

After much hard work N finally won and I celebrated harder than she did. Come Monday I will begin work on a strategy to circumvent more Uno card encounters.

Teen Do Paanch and Kot Piece were easier

Did you play cards when you were young? We did. It was’t considered the most respectable of past-times but when six of us cousins got together each summer, card games were a favourite.

Not for us these Unos. We played Teen, Do, Paanch and Kot Piece (or is it Court Piece or Coat Pees, I need to google that). Then there was Bluff which was played with multiple suits and Gun which needed six players. There were also Rummy and Flash which were considered too grown up for us. Even though I did manage to finally officially grow up I never got a hang of those two.

We spent many long afternoons over hotly contested games cooled down by tall glasses of nimbu paani and the fragrant breeze from khas khas mats. Allegations of cheating flew back and forth (Cousin no 2 was a pro at it) and cards would be thrown down with promises of ‘I’ll never play with you again’ (that would be our oldest, Cousin no 1). Many a sad tear was spilt followed by hours of ‘I’m not talking to you’ only to be forgotten in favour of yet another good game.

That’s the way we played cards.

This time when I was home, my father just back from China, got these beautiful dinosaur playing cards. (He’s a Palaeontologist, hence). After we’d admired them enough, I thought it was time to initiate the kids into my kind of game. And so I explained the whole thing about declaring trumps and making hands.

To their credit they took to it way better than I took to their Uno and were soon yelling ‘I trumpeted you’ with great vigour filling me with hope that we'll stick to these. At least our card games have an end to them.

All in all a weekend well spent.

So what did you do over the weekend. Do you remember any childhood games? Or those that you've shared with your kids? I’d love to hear from you.

Linking up with Mackenzie at Reflections from Me
Reflections From Me

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Friendship lessons

I spent over two decades of my life in a North Indian town with barely any exposure to the outside world other than the books I read. None of them told me what to really expect out there. However, when I left for a job in Delhi I had firm views on just about everything, hanging on to prejudices and preconceived notions that come with lack of exposure. 

That’s how I would have gone through life had the powers above not been on my side. Fate has, since then, worked overtime to systematically rid me of all my said ideas.

I used to dismiss Punjabis as loud and crass. And God gave me a friend born and brought up in the gullies of old Delhi. Her FB status once read ‘Punjabiayn di battery charge rehndi hai’. She was loud as the loudest yet she was also generous and thoughtful and always available when I needed her. Before I knew it I was borrowing from her memories of her grandmom and quoting in Punjabi, pathetically stilted Punjabi I might add, not everyone can get that endearing accent quite right.

I thought South Indians were closed and conservative. And God gave me a roomie straight from Chennai. Together we traipsed around the streets of Mumbai walking at Marine Drive or shopping at Fashion Street. She taught me that South Indian food went beyond idlis and dosas. She could talk books till the sun went down and came up again. She has since then, set up her own library. We could laugh at our respective accents and would compare how ‘love’ was pronounced in each of them - her luvv to my lau.

I thought Maharashtrians were stuck up and spoke weird Hindi. Along came a friend who was completely unstuck herself. I discovered that there existed a tumhi along with the tu and got a glimpse of the proud Maratha history, way beyond Bajirao. We argued about everything from books to religion over hot cups of chai at a different roadside joint each time. I found my Hindi turning into a taporier version - no longer chaste yet nice and colourful and way more interesting.

I thought army wives came with a chip on their shoulders and I got a friend who taught me to appreciate their discipline and the way they stood up for their own. I grudged them their ‘benefits’ but stories of hazardous postings, sad accidents and lost lives made their tribulations only too real. Another one would laugh with me at the Army Wives’ ‘parties’ yet go hunting for the right sari because it was ‘flower theme’ at the meet. ‘It’s crazy but it’s so much fun. I love it,’ she’d say.

I thought SAHMs were all about shopping and kitty parties and God turned me into one making me want to kill anyone who asked ‘How do you kill time?’ Oh and along the way I also questioned where’s the crime in a ladies' day out or shopping (unless it’s excessive, and then the trouble is with the ‘excess’ not the shopping).

Finally there came the biggest, craziest most miraculous mind changer - I thought kids were a nuisance and God gave me twins. Nuisance they most certainly are, but they’re also the best thing that ever happened to me.

Dear people know that stereotypes may be true - after all they are stereotypes for a reason. However people are different in a million ways and are definitely more than just a bunch of generic qualities.

So make friends - all kinds - across ages, and sex, race and city and nationality if you can. Open up, meet, talk, debate, argue, empathise. That’s the very best way to remain non-judgemental and open minded.

God knows we could do with some tolerance.


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