Being with Mr Anderson

•November 18, 2016 • Leave a Comment


As I write this I’ve left out some cat-food outside my open window. I’m not a cat person. I don’t even like cats. All my life I’ve grown up with dogs around me. Cats, I don’t trust. Once asked what I meant by that, I replied a cat is never going to invest my money in the stock market. That’s how much I don’t trust cats.

Then last year Mr Anderson showed up.

She knocked on my window late one night and woke me up. I refused to acknowledge her for the next few days. Till one hot summer day she climbed in through the open window and curled up under my bed for an afternoon nap. How can you not like someone who believes in afternoon naps, just like you.

Since then Mr Anderson has been a regular companion. I leave her food outside and she drops by whenever she’s hungry. We listen to Sigur Ros together. Sometimes when exceedingly playful she makes a grab for my ankle and runs away. I once tried to talk to her about the Chinese economy. That was the last time. She seemed so disinterested we never brought up the topic ever again.

I think what I admire most about Mr Anderson is that she doesn’t need me. She’s way too independent. I see her only at her discretion. She disappears for days at a time. But then reappears knocking on my window. I’m like a favoured book she reads whenever she’s reminded of it.

Well, all said and done, Mr Anderson and I might have a relationship we only grudgingly admit to, but she’s still not investing my money in the stock market. I don’t trust cats!


Three photos of grandma

•August 23, 2018 • Leave a Comment
As I write this I’m looking at three photos of my grandmother.
In the first photo she’s crocheting a coaster. Her hands skilfully and 


deftly negotiating a difficult pattern. Her wizened hands look beautiful.
This is how I remember her the most. Someone who was always doing something.
Most of all grandma loved to cook and loved to feed people. Thus everyday there was an Eid-like spread. That she had diabetes and could not taste her sweets did not deter her from making them and feeding us interminably. No food ever tastes like how she cooked it.
(Maybe I should also mention the chilli pickle that K and I named “Grandma’s Revenge”, because it was meant to destroy you!)
1656174_10203293572923804_1957405112_nThe second photo is my aunt’s sister applying mehendi on my grandma’s hands despite her protests. Grandma is giggling shyly. This was the wedding of her grandchild (my cousin) and she needed to look her part, she was told. Grandma giggled and made a face, but gave in.
She had lived longer without my grandfather than she had with him. She had buried her youngest son the same year as her husband. And this was the first time she was getting mehendi on her after all those years.
Sometimes you don’t need abject adversity to show you how strong a person is. Sometimes it is the ability to matriarch a family without support. For someone who was schooled at home and not afforded the opportunities that she deserved, she made sure her children went to the best universities and never limited themselves.
As a kid I would see her as the only person who my mother had to fear. Thus I would always take all my complaints to her. But instead of strong rebuke, which I hoped and prayed for, grandma would only gently admonish my mother. I would protest silently. That there’s more wisdom in benignity than censure is something I’d only learn much later in life.
Also, the photo reminds me how alike grandma and I are. We both enjoy a good laugh and a happy story. That she always found a silver lining makes me look for one inevitably.
(Trivia: Grandma loved the British, having grown up in a tea estate in British-ruled India (“they were so good looking!”), and Saddam Hussein in a beret. Ah well!)
GM The third photo is of her waving me goodbye two weeks ago. She’s standing holding on to her walker having just imparted wisdom and laughter in the last hour we spent together. On one side of her is a photo with my grandfather and on the other her youngest son lost long ago. She looked tired and spent. Her voice was feebler and her hands tremulous. Her bones had become so soft she could not cook anymore. A hundred years can do that to you. Yet, she looked at peace.
As I look at that photo of her today, holding on to her walker and waving at me, I think we both knew we were never going to see each other again.
It had been a long journey, but she did good.
Goodbye, Nani. (1920-2018)

The tank that wouldn’t turn left

•February 23, 2018 • Leave a Comment

As a kid my favourite toy was a motorised tank. To my young mind it was the most amazing thing ever, and it really was. Moving on its treads it could climb over any obstacle. I would make hills out of books and my amazing tank would slowly and definitively climb them all. A motorised tank is all a kid can ask for, really.

But my tank would not turn left. It could make right turns fine but it just would not turn left. That was a built-in defect. It never occurred to me that I could have asked for a replacement. I never saw a reason to. You don’t replace an amazing tank,  do you?  So if  ever had to make my tank go left I’d instead make do with four right turns. Never in all those years playing with my tank that I found this to be a hinderance or something that marred my awe of it.

Looking back, I feel, that was the most important lesson I ever learnt. It taught me to be accepting of everything around me the way they are. It helped me find peace now. The people around us, the situations we find ourselves in,  are not always exactly how we want them to be. Love everything and everyone around you as they are. And be thankful.

The moment we stop looking for perfectness, we will learn to love the tank that wouldn’t turn left.

Life lessons from 1992

•January 10, 2017 • Leave a Comment

​In 1992, after much goading from my parents to be participatory, I finally put my name down for a marble and spoon race at school. Seemed like something that could be done by being slow and without much exertion, a combination I still strongly endorse.

Anyway, so the whistle blew and the race was off and I was doing really well. As my fellow competitors lost their marbles and dropped off along the way, I chugged along. 

Finally, with the end in sight I looked down only to realise I had dropped my marble somewhere along the way. The race had been over for me quite a while back, it seemed.

And if this is not an apt metaphor of adult life, I don’t know what is. 😐


•January 1, 2017 • Leave a Comment
After the banana resolution of 2016, I decided in 2017 I’m going to end every call with – “Love you too!
Every call.
Day 1, but the impatient loan lady did sound mighty surprised.


•January 1, 2017 • Leave a Comment

At some point in 2015 I had read somewhere (Lancet, perhaps) that more people are willing to put a stranger’s genitalia in their mouth than the brownish part of a ripened banana.

I resolved that in 2016 I’ll not stand for this. If I can go with A, I can surely go with B. Thus, I devoted the year to eating the brown part of ripened bananas.

In conclusion: Glad the horrific year is over. Never eating that again!

Bread that foretold 2016

•December 31, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Jan 1, 2016, was a cold morning and I remember the first thing I did was to venture out to replenish my depleted stock of bread.

Back from my expedition, I opened the packet and there was an insect merrily traversing all over my bread. For all I know it even flashed me a taunting smile. And that’s when I thought – Maybe this year is not going to be that great.

I did not realise it then but in retrospect the bread metaphorically represented the world and the insect, well, everything that happened.

For 2017, I have already stocked up on the soothsaying bread. 🙂

Monkey’s New Year’s resolution

•December 30, 2016 • Leave a Comment

The monkey’s New Year’s resolution is to keep the house clean.

In case anyone is wondering what I’m doing cleaning windows out on the terrace in this freezing cold.

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