Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Finally, I thought it was time to have a Flickr account - as if a facebook, twitter, blog aren't enough to connect me socially :)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The man with one arm

Spring has finally arrived. It has been warm and sunny. Blue skies. Gentle breeze. Yesterday was one such day. We got home from school, Chip played outside for a while and then we decided to go out for some pizza and a carousel ride at the mall. BigGeek had gone out for dinner, so it was just mother and son.

The mall where we live, has an indoor play area. Chip loves to play there and yesterday was no exception. While he played amongst other four and five year olds, I answered some long due emails and all my attempts to take my mind off work failed miserably. I sat down, head bent, shoulders hunched, peering at my phone, punching away on the tiny keys while all around me the mall was alive. Kids played, harried mothers relaxed with a latte and families milled in and out of stores – arms laden with shopping bags.

I didn’t know how long we were. I was engrossed in work, Chip in play. I looked up when I heard a wail. A small toddler had lost his balance and tripped while running on the balance beam. I smiled to myself as nostalgia flooded me. The boy’s mother walked over and laughed and helped the boy up. I noticed then they were Indian. The young mom was dressed simply. A polyester orange salwar suit on a tall lean frame, wisps defiantly escaping the braided hair. Thin black rimmed glassed slipping on the nose. She talked to the boy, but as two year olds are known to do, he sulked. Brows furrowed, he dug his heels till the mother led him away to where she was sitting with the boy’s father.

As she went and sat next to her husband and narrated the short incident, he smiled and laughed and patted the boy on his head. I could see the boy and his father, but could not hear them. The father seemed to be urging the boy to go and play. He patted his son’s head, then his shoulder. Then pulled the boy towards him and tickled him. The boy laughed. I looked at the ordinary scene, but something looked odd. I couldn’t put a finger on it. I turned to look down at my phone and then it suddenly struck me. I looked up again and there it was. The father had only one arm. Through the plaid half sleeved shirt, I could see the stub of what could have been his right arm clearly. His left hand tickled his son and until the boy laughed, his sorrow of a minute ago forgotten.

Thousand and one questions raged through my mind. What did the father do? How had he lost his arm? Was it before he was married or after? If it was before why did the child’s mother marry him? Was it pity, bravery or just love? If it was after, how did she cope with such a loss? How did he cope? His day to day activities? What did he do for a living? He looked like a professional. IT? How did he type on the keyboard with just one hand? How had they as a couple found acceptance? Found the strength? It was impossible to miss the quiet serenity on the young couple’s face.

I saw them as they looked indulgently at their son who had gone back to play on the balance beam. He spread out his arms and took one careful step and then another, and another. A minute later,the little boy reached the end of the beam and jumped down in triumph. The father looked on with pride and put his only arm on his wife’s shoulder and pulled her close, joy illuminating their eyes. Everything was right with the world.

Edited to add: Apologies for a huge gap between the posts. I changed jobs last month and it has been rather adventurous, to say the least!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

On a Winter's Evening

This post a couple of days ago, took me back to the end of a what was a very cold December. It was just after Christmas, and it was bitter cold. We were stuffed to our gills with fragrant Thai curries and rice and as we stepped out of the restaurant, the cold wind snapped through the high-rise buildings and stung our faces while we braved ourselves to walk towards our car.

It was bitter cold and the fact that the blood circulation was all directed towards out stomachs made it much worse. As we walked across the store flanked paved courtyard, I noticed a conspicuous pile of clothes by one of the display windows.

This was odd.

It was upscale part of town and pile of clothes and trash were certainly never a common sight. As we walked closer, I realized that the pile was not just old clothes, but there was someone in those old clothes.

A man.

He lay huddled amidst layers and layers of old clothing. His bed was made of bits of cardboard and his sheets were old newspapers. He was half asleep, I think. It was dark and Chip was shivering and we walked past him. I called out to BigGeek, and pointed out the man to him. I am sure I wasn't the only one that saw him. It's a fairly busy neighborhood. Someone would have called the authorities, said BigGeek. He must have refused to go to a shelter.

I sighed and walked to the car and thought nothing more of it. Until the next day. I could not get the sight of the man out of my head. How could he survive such bitter cold all night? Guilt overcame me. I should have called. But who? I had no idea who to call, I would have had to look up. But I should have looked up the numbers and should have made that call. I hope that the man is alive and was not frozen to death.

In the VA suburbs of DC, you can call the Crisis Hotline if you see any homless people out in the cold-

  • Arlington County : 703-228-1300, 703-527-4077((after hours, weekends and holidays)
  • Fairfax County: 703-691-2131
  • Loudoun County: 571-258-3033

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

10 Random things going through my head

10 Random thoughts going in my mind right now

1. It’s so warm here today. Just 30F (-1C for you metric types). Finally Chip can play outside.
2. How am I going to manage to go to all these parties over the coming weekends?
3. I want to buy stuff. But what? Actually, where do I start?
4. Big Bang theory is the funniest show I have ever seen. I heart Sheldon.
5. How long am I going to fool myself and my friends that I am fully committed to the C25K program?
6. To have lunch now or later?
7. I need a vacation.
8. How best to tell BigGeek that I really don’t want to install the closet shelving when I get home this evening without breaking his heart?

As you can see, I am really out of things to write.

Monday, January 4, 2010

It costs peanuts!!!

A ten day trip to India with a wedding thrown in is very, very frenzied, to put it mildly. There is stuff to be done, jet lag to be gotten over, family to be met, cranky child to be pacified and kept awake. Not to mention dealing with your own crankiness because of lack of sleep. In a jam-packed day, there is not a moment to be had for the self. After all, what is the point of travelling half the way across the world if you want a moment to yourself?

But in this sea of chaos, an island of some us-time was found. In an unplanned sort of way. After BigGeek, Chip and I met Kiran and Rohini and the delightful Krish and Ayaan and baby Tarana, Kiran dropped us at the Shopper’s Stop. In between afternoon tea, and dinner with the sister-in-law and her fiancé, there was work to be done. BigGeek had forgotten to bring his ties , so we had to buy ties and cuff links and I needed to buy some stuff for the wedding for my sister-in-law. It was work-work.

An hour passes by in five minutes when you are shopping. We climbed down the steps of the store and I said to myself, “I need to find something for Chip to eat. He is 5 minutes away from a meltdown.” Almost, as if in answer, singdana-wala stopped in front of us. Peanuts!! Perfect snack for Chip. Also an experience for him. I called to Chip and asked he would like some peanuts. Chip was mesmerized with the singdana-wallah’s basket with a small coal burning in its center. But there was a problemo grande. How much does singdana sell for these days? Will I get laughed down if I asked for a 2 rupee singdana? 5 Rs? 10? 25? How much? BigGeek was even more clueless. We stood like two dense, naïve people who had just gotten off the red ST bus from Alibaug. In the end I asked for 10 rupee singdana for Chip. Chip was handed a small cone of singdana to his utter delight, while I thought we were taken for a ride. Then he interrogated the singdana-wallah. In Marathi. What is the coal for? What are the other things you have in your basket? Why do you have a basket? Where do you get the singdana from? The singdana-walah was quite amused. He could understand Marathi, somewhat and Chip pretended to understand Hindi, so we played translator but got tired of it and herded Chip away.

We sneaked some singdana too – Singdana here is so oily, you can’t eat it without getting a headache.. I love the dry, crisp singdana we get in India. Chip was still hungry and we were still figuring out where to eat dinner. We saw an Aarey booth and there is no way BigGeek and Chip are going to go past an Aarey booth and not drink Energy. Chip’s and BigGeek’s petrol tanks having been filled thusly, we went about looking for an auto to take us to Pali Hill.
In the end, we changed 2 (or was it 3 rickshaws) because the “place we are going to eat dinner” changed with the minute hand and in the end, the buck stopped at Moti Mahal. Chip obviously was very sleepy – the rickshaw ride had kept him awake. Also the Q and A sessions he had with the drivers of rickshaws. And the analysis of visual and functional similarities of the rickshaw starter with the starter of the lawn mower.

But the minute we entered the cool space of the restaurant, he drank his lemonade and slept blissfully (without dinner) while we chatted and had a raving good time with my sister-in-law, her fiance and my brother-in-law.