Tiny Conversations… “Come here. I’m going to Touch you!”

This happened some 6-7 years ago. I lived in Chile then. I had to consult a physician about a mole that was growing on my leg, and it was also indicating inward growth – a kind of plantlike feeling where I felt it had a root.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

At the clinic:

Doc– Buenos Dias, señora!

“Buenos Dias, señor!”

Doc– Cual es el problema? (what is the problem?)

“No sé mucho español. ¿Puedo hablar en inglés? (I don’t know much Spanish. Can I speak in English?)

Doc– Si, Si. No problema. I know leetle, leetle Englich.

“That’s a relief. Thank you so much!”

So, I tell him what my concerns are about the mole on my thigh. He asks me some pertinent questions. Nods his head thoughtfully.

Doc– Ok, I will see it first.

Then he gets up and walks away from the his desk towards a curtained area in one corner of the room.

Doc– Come with me here, señora. You will remove your trouser and I am going to touch you here, in this place.

I almost burst out laughing. The immediate thought that ran through my head was…‘what if I were silly enough not to understand what he meant!’ I’d have gathered my handbag and vamoosed out of the room!

“Ok, señor,” I said instead and followed him into the curtained area.

Examination done. He agreed that there was a downward, rootlike growth. Diagnosis would depend on removing the mole surgically and sending it for biopsy. We walked out and sat at his desk. He had to decide on a date for the surgery. That done, I stood up and thanked him from the depths of my heart.

Doc– So señora, how you like my Englich?

“Awesome, señor doctor!” I said genuinely appreciative. “I am so happy to have found a doctor with whom I could communicate in English.”

Tiny Conversations – Imagine Wine, Jacuzzi, and…

A few months back, my son and DIL bought a house. The day they moved in, the twins were extremely excited. They called me and announced that they had “finally” moved lock, stock, and barrel, into their “new house.” Thereafter they promptly took me on a tour of the place with running commentary and expert comments. They did a great job I must say. Soon, the tour was done inside and outside the house too.

It was time to settle down and chat.

Amu: You know what, Dada, there’s a room just for you when you come here.

“Now, isn’t that simply fantastic! I will have to think about how to do it up.”

Mia: Mama’s already thought about that. She’s put up new curtains too.

“Well, then I’ll think about what should go on the walls and some other itty-bitty things.”

Amu: It’s going to be fun Dada. Aren’t you excited?

“Yes, I am. Super excited.”

Mia: But you know what Dada, just in case you’re wondering which of the two bedrooms we showed you was yours, the smaller room is yours. The bigger one is ours. You do know yours is the smaller one, right?

Two worried faces looked at me intently. They expected me to be disappointed. I decided to play along.

“Oh!” I said and pulled a long face.

Amu: (clearly moved) Dada, Dada, it’s just a wee bit smaller than ours, she said placatingly.

“Then it’s alright!” I laughed. “Anyway, it makes sense, you know. There are two of you and just one ME. You definitely have more stuff to put in. I was just teasing you. I’d be surprised if I had the bigger room”

They relaxed. And looked at each other in silent communication.

“We’re going to share the bathroom too!” they exclaimed, taking advantage of this moment. And giggles followed that revelation.

“I hope it’s big enough,” I said laughing.

Mia: Oh, Yes, Dada, the bathroom is big enough, but (she pauses) the WC is a bit low! How will you manage? Your back will hurt.

Amu: Maybe she can use mama-papa’s one.

Mia: Or the powder room… the WC there isn’t low!

As I listened and watched their expressions changing with each thought and possible solution, I realized how genuinely concerned they were about their Dada and her physical limitations in some areas.

“What would I do without you two ladoos to care for me! (Literally, ladoo is a sweetmeat). You think about everything to make me comfortable.”

Both: We love you Dada!

“Love you to smithereens too, my dolls.”

Amu: Do you know the master bedroom’s bathroom is BIG and has a jacuzzi too?

“Yes, I heard about that and saw it too on the tour you took me on around the house.”

Amu: Yes, but you don’t know something. (both the girls giggle).

“Now don’t laugh alone. Come on, tickle my funny bone too. I like a good laugh.”

Amu: Mama said she’d like to relax in the jacuzzi with a glass of wine.

“Oh boy! Now that’s a thought. I wouldn’t mind doing that myself!”

Both: But you can’t! Mama said only she and papa would be using that bathroom.

“Oh shoot! (sad face) and here I was dreaming about luxuriating in there with a glass of wine!”

Amu: Really?! But can’t you imagine it?

“Well, I already did and that’s why I thought it would be awesome.”

Amu: (thoughtfully) No Dada, just imagine a naked woman with a glass of wine in the jacuzzi! Ewww!!

Mia: It’s so silly, Dada, (she says between bouts of laughter.)

Amu: And so funny. Just imagine that Dada!

“Well, I could imagine that but I’d rather not, you know,” I manage to say as I laugh out loud. “Come on girls, ever heard of bathing suits aka swimsuits, bikinis. Imagine that kind of a woman.

Amu: But that is not so funny, Dada. Another burst of laughter.

Their laughter and mine punctuated and truncated our conversation about nude women, wine glasses, and jacuzzis.

Tiny Conversations – A Bad Choice

One evening, the twins, their mum and I were sitting out in the little park behind the house. The girls decided the bench we were on would be the school bus.

Amu: This is our school bus, and you are the bus driver, Dada! (they call me Dada)

“Oh no! I can’t drive your bus. The driver’s seat is uncomfortable and you know I have a bad back.”

Mia: You just have to sit. No walking. No standing.

“No. I don’t want to be the driver.”

Both: (Disappointed) OK! (They turn to their mother) Mama, you are the driver. (She accepts).

“Thank you,” I said, relieved. I walked across to the opposite side to a comfortable chair and lowered myself, leaned back and relaxed. I closed my eyes and breathed deep. I could doze off, I thought. It was so peaceful and relaxing. But, enroute to the school, the bus broke down.

Amu: Let’s get the mechanic!

She makes a dash…

… and stands in front of me. I keep my eyes shut.

Amu: Dada, come quick. The bus broke down.

“Why do you need me?”

Amu: You are the mechanic!

“What?!”

Amu: You didn’t want to be the driver so you are the mechanic.

“You never asked me if I wanted to be the mechanic,” I said haughtily.

Amu: But we did ask you to be the driver. You didn’t want to. So now, you are the mechanic.

“(Groan!) I didn’t know it was a choice between two jobs.”

Amu: But it was. We gave you the first choice! Now quick Dada. We’ll be late for school.

I haul myself off the chair. Walk reluctantly to the bus, dragging my feet as she goads me to move faster. I repair the bus, bending awkwardly, by changing an invisible punctured tire. I overdo the grumbling and groaning!

Mia: See, if you had chosen to become the bus driver you wouldn’t have to bend and push and pull. You would just have to sit. in. your. seat. We told you.

“Ok, Ok! Don’t rub it in. There, it’s all done. Now off you go.”

Amu checks to see if everything is alright. They get on the bus. I heave a sigh of relief. As they roll away, Mia shouts:

Dada, what does ‘rub it in’ mean? And she laughs heartily as their driver picks up speed and zooms off to school.

Tiny Conversations – Whodunnit?

Photo by Laura Garcia from Pexels

My twin granddaughters joined playschool when they moved to Canada, and their teacher was expecting. For a couple of months, they were unaware about this. But then, a few more enlightened girls were discussing their teacher’s “big tummy”. Our little ones soon learned that she was going to have a baby.

They were super excited! At that young age of innocence they were uninhibited and wanted to confirm the news… hear it from the horse’s mouth and they also had some other questions to ask. They didn’t only want to confirm what they had heard, they wanted to know who put the baby in and how it would come out of her tummy. Yes! I bet you are laughing now imagining how the conversation went.

Amu – Is there a baby inside there? (she points to the tummy).

Teacher – Yes, there is. (highly amused by their frank curiosity)

Mia – When will the baby come out?

Teacher – There are a couple of months more.

Twins together – OHHH! (Their brows were furrowed. There was a HOW knocking around).

Mia – How does it come out?

Stumped on how to answer this without going into unnecessary details, which they wouldn’t know nor understand, she said:

“Oh, you know, I’ll go to the hospital and the doctor will help the baby out.”

Amu – Will the doctor cut your tummy?

Teacher – (In order to avoid another “how” question if she replied in the negative, she opted to go with…) I don’t know. He might have to cut it.

Both – But that is horrible!

Amu – It’s going to hurt a lot and there will be a lot of blood!

Both the little girls seemed quite disturbed by this.

Teacher – Oh no! You need not worry about that. They will give me a medicine and I won’t feel a thing. No pain.

Both were relieved by this information and turned to leave. Just when the teacher thought the conversation was over, one of the twins had another question.

“Who put the baby in your tummy?

Should she answer that with, “the stork”? Indians didn’t use the stork story because it isn’t a bird everyone knew about. What everyone knew was GOD! And being who he was, he was bigger and stronger and more powerful than superman, especially in a kid’s mind. He could do anything, even the impossible. Scripture stories, in any religion, speak of these amazing feats. So it was the easiest way to explain it to very young kids.

Now the teacher was an Indo-Canadian and like all, or almost all, Indians answer this question she said:

God put it there!”

“Oh!” they said and off they ran to play with the other girls. I’m sure she was glad they didn’t think of another HOW question! How did God put it there?! That would need a lot more imagination to explain in a satisfactory way!!

I remember being told that God had dropped off my younger brother at the Army Hospital and my mother was there to pick him up! I swallowed that story hook, line, and sinker! Just in case you are wondering — even at the age of ten, I hadn’t noticed that my mom’s tummy had grown enormously! I was pretty naive or too tomboyish to have noticed such things. Besides, that was 1965 India. And that was the story all kids were told until they learned the truth… mostly from their friends, older kids, or when they were old enough to study it in their Science class.

Nanaji and the Dirty Fellas

A baby has a way of making a man out of his father and a boy out of his grandfather. ~Angie Papadakis

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We have specific names for our relatives, to make it clear how they’re related to each other and from which side of the family they belong. For instance, paternal grandparents are Dada (grandfather) and Dadi (grandmother). So the moment a child refers to someone as Dada or Dadi, everyone knows it’s the son’s child. And if Nana (grandpa) or Nani (grandma) are used, everyone knows it is the daughter’s child.

The same goes for other relations. They are easily recognized as paternal or maternal relatives by the terms used to address them. There is no confusion about any relationship, unlike the common terms uncle and aunt or grandma, grandpa, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, etc. Each of these relatives is referred to by different names that make it clear how they are related to you.

To come back to my father and a few memories of our kids’ interactions with him. When he became a Nana, my kids and my sister’s kids called him Nanaji. The ‘ji’ is suffixed as a sign of respect for elders. As a father, he was a strict disciplinarian and had grown more reserved with the passing years. Everyone was still in awe of this man, who though mellowed with age, yet held a commanding demeanor, and a sarcastic sense of humor. 

My two boys learned to talk rather early, so their interaction with Nanaji began early too. By this time, Daddy had already transitioned to the grandparent level courtesy my elder sister’s son.

Daddy would use all his sarcastic humor on the kids, who just loved it! They were quick to retort and he would have his laugh. They often got into little ‘kiddie’ fights with him, and when we’d hear, “Dirty fella, I’m not talking to you,” we knew we would witness a wonderful, funny incident soon.

The First Grandson: Forgive and forget

One day, Daddy had a falling out with my elder sister’s son Hemant (pet name – Chiku). Chiku was three and a half then.

“Go away, I’m not talking to you, dirty fella!” says Nanaji to the scowling boy. 

Both walk off in a huff to their rooms; the grey-haired one hiding a broad grin and the younger one certainly miffed.

A few minutes later, a chubby face peeked into Nanaji’s room. He was ignored. The second and third attempts to reconcile were also met with a royal ignore! The fourth time, he came with a bunch of grapes as a peace offering. Nanaji refused to accept it, closed his eyes, and appeared to have fallen asleep.

Chiku stood and stared at him for a while. Then he decided it was too much. Enough is enough! He plucked two grapes off the bunch. Kept the bowl on the bedside table. Daddy was observing all this through his eyes that were closed to slits. He did not expect Chiku’s next move and thought the little guy had decided to eat the grapes himself. But his grandson had other plans. Before Nanaji could say, “dirty fella,” he deftly stuffed them into Nanaji’s nostrils and scampered out like a grinning monkey!

Thankfully, the grapes weren’t far in and he could snort them out easily! Then, he was in splits. He laughed so much. I can’t say what the dirty fella had expected, but I’m sure he hadn’t seen this coming. He crept back, confirmed it was a truce, and stepped into the room.

A while later, we saw them sitting together and eating the rest of the grapes.

The Second Grandson: Dirty is not good

Daddy would sit in the back verandah or in the back lawn and write when the weather was cooler in summer or warmer and sunny in winter. On one such day, Nanaji had an encounter with another three-and-a-half-year-old Ranjit (pet name Tintin), the elder son of yours truly.

Nanaji was immersed in his study and writing while Tintin played with his toys. Nanaji had an old, in fact very old, Bible which he loved, and in which he had written many notes on pages specially inserted into the binding. It had a thick, hard leather cover that was faded, well-worn for use, and cracked in places. It was open and lying face down on a table beside him.

Tintin sauntered over and looked at it. Apparently, he didn’t like the look of it. He screwed up his face and asked what book it was. Nanaji answered him without interrupting his work or looking up. A few moments later, he needed to refer to something in the Book, and well, it wasn’t on the table! he looked around and what do you think he saw?

“You dirty fella, what are you doing?” he exclaimed and jumped out of his chair to rescue his precious Bible from a washing.

Tintin had carried off the heavy, thick Bible and dunked it into a tub full of water, that was kept for two small tortoises Nanaji had bought for him. He was just getting into the washing part when it was retrieved.

“What are you doing, you dirty fella? Why did you put it in the water?”

“It was dirty so I was washing it,” replied the “dirty fella” blissfully unaware of the damage he could have caused.

Nanaji found the explanation quite plausible, and though he was worried about the Bible, he couldn’t stop laughing.

Once again, this little escapade didn’t cause major damage. Except for some notes pages getting smudged with ink (he used fountain pens which had to be refilled with ink poured out from a bottle!), so a wet page meant the ink would smudge. And, of course, a loss of Daddy’s personal notes. Apart from this, the Bible was not irretrievably damaged. We just needed to dry it out. This took a long time given the volume of pages! Thankfully, we had a few sunny days!

This was one time when the grandson antics got me a bit worried. I knew how much that antique Bible meant to Daddy. Besides its worthiness in its antiquity, it had been his companion and guide for many years. I thought that this time, the ‘dirty fella’ and his mom would have to bear the brunt of some annoyance if not anger!

I shouldn’t have worried and trusted the Daddy I’ve known since I was a girl. 

Though some note pages and notes had gone, Daddy didn’t worry much about that. He could rewrite them. But after drying out, a few of the pages were a bit crinkled like an unironed shirt and the cover looked more thumped and weary than it did before!

The third Grandson: A Lesson in Etiquette

Nanaji got a lesson in etiquette and right practice from yet another of his dirty fellas when he came on a holiday to Rajasthan. This time, it was Vineet (pet name Viny), not quite three yet. He is my younger son.

The days passed off fast, and Nanaji and the boys had a rollicking time. Then, it was time to leave. Our little one was over-eager to help. He tried to push and tug bags to a waiting taxi. Everyone was mightily impressed by the offer of help, as all the bags were too big and too heavy for him to even budge a centimeter.

Yet, he was lending the proverbial helping hand. He’d place his little hand on a bag being carried or rolled out! He hung around Nanaji, who once again saw through all the show, and was waiting to get his last laugh before leaving.

All the bags were stowed in the trunk. Mum was in the taxi and it was time to say the G’byes. Nanaji got into the taxi, but he didn’t close the door. Instead, he kept making small talk with his “dirty fellas.” We tried to hurry him but he kept stalling. Finally, what he was waiting for happened. Afraid that it would be too late, Viny took the initiative to inform his Nanaji about Rajasthani customs.

“Nanaji,” he said seriously, “jab koi jaata hai na, woh kuch de kar jaata hai.” (Trans: Nanaji, when someone leaves, he gives something and goes.)

Nanaji was thrilled. He got his laughs. He dug into his pockets and handed both the boys some money. It was customary, in those days, for elderly relatives to give the kids some money before they left. Needless to describe the glee with which the cash was handed over to mother dear (me!) as Viny rattled off all that he would buy with it, including a car.

I didn’t spoil his joy by telling him that he would fall a bit short of cash for a car!

Just for the record, he was thinking of buying a real-life size car… LOL

So #grateful for the memories.

“Love is the greatest gift that one generation can leave another.”~Richard Garnett

 

 

 

Two Minutes -tiny conversations

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The Two-Minute Wait

The twins were over eighteen months, and one-word or two-word conversations jerked along in English, Spanish, and Hindi. One day, Miraaya, the younger of the twins, wanted something, and she wanted it right now. She was getting impatient and I saw a tantrum coming up.

In an effort to stall it, I lifted my hand and patted the air gently and said, “Wait, wait,” and then, holding up two fingers, I continued, “Two minutes.” And I repeated that to make sure she got it.

“Two minutes?” she asked holding up two fingers.

“Yes, baby, please wait for two minutes,” I said emphasizing ‘wait.’

“Wait,” she echoed, patting the air gently the same way she had seen me do. I smiled in answer.

Whatever it was that had to get done, I forget what now, took longer than two minutes, but it didn’t bother me because Mia certainly wouldn’t know how long two minutes was. Well, that’s what I assumed.

The next morning, she woke up early and I went to her cot to greet her. She looked like a sleepy, disheveled cherub.

“Good morning, my little birdie. Morning, morning!” I said cheerily. She didn’t give the usual response. So I bent to hug her. 

“Wait, wait,” she said patting the air with her little hand, “two minutes?”

“Ok.” What now, I wondered highly amused. 

Then, laboriously, she hauled herself up and lifting her arms high demanded, “Dodi.”

She wanted me to carry her and used the Hindi word ‘godi’, pronouncing it her way. I lifted her out of the cot and put her down.

She took a leisurely walk around the house and came and stood in front of me.

“Morning, morning!” she smiled.

I had waited for more than two minutes! Was she telling me something?!

 

THE TWO-MINUTE ARGUMENT

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Amaara, the older twin can be quite assertive, most times, especially when she thinks she is right. Not one to give up without an argument or demonstration of some kind when vocabulary fails, she engaged me in an argument one day.

They were watching one of their TV shows and “The wheels of the bus” rhyme came up. She looked at it and knit her brows. The nanny had put on a different channel and the presentation wasn’t the same. The bus looked more like a van.

“Car,” she announced, pointing to the TV.

“Oh no, that’s a bus,” I said, deliberately baiting her.

“Car,” she insisted.

“Bus,” I stressed keeping a straight face, which was hard as suppressed laughter threatened to break free. She had taken the bait.

We bandied our opinions for a while until she lost her cool.

She drew her chubby little face closer to mine and in a loud voice and no-nonsense tone declared with finality, “Car!”

Unflinchingly, I brought my face close to hers and said firmly, but in a lower tone, “Bus!”

A staring match ensued. She was the first to turn away. Her little face showed confusion. She didn’t know how to react. She opted for diversion.

“Papa?” she asked.

“Office,” came my quick response.

“Mama?”

“At office, too.”

She repeated these questions a couple of times more. Then paused for a second or two. She had come to some conclusion. She leaned towards me again.

“Bus,” she said and smiled. I was surprised at how she resolved the whole thing. Small as she was, she acted like an adult!

I laughed and cuddled my little teddy bear.

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SLIP OF THE TONGUE AND GENTLE CORRECTION

We, the twins and I, were watching Gazoon, a cartoon featuring animals. It doesn’t have any dialogues or songs, so I had to do a running commentary and add tones, inflections, and drama to the whole show verbally. 

One evening, while the girls were having their dinner, Gazoon was on and I was going full swing with my narrative.

Hisssss...there comes the snake… he’s scary…oooh oh!”

“Scary…oooh,” and Miraaya brought up her clenched fists under her chin and faked a shiver!”

“Stomp…stomp…stomp…here comes the Elephant and there’s Cock-a-doodle-doo sitting on his head! Hahaha! So funny.”

“Cockadoo…doo, so funny,” they chorused and laughed.

“And what’s this? Someone’s coloring the clouds! Look, it’s a zebra…he’s painting the clouds.”

“Sky,” Miraaya quietly corrected me. She didn’t know what clouds were, she only knew ‘sky.’ So in her mind, I had made a mistake. I thought I’d show her clouds later and continued.

“Okay, sky,” I picked up from where I’d left off.

I looked at Miraaya, she seemed quite chuffed. I continued…

“Yes, and the giraffe is coloring the sky…” I got no further.

“Zebra,” Amaara quipped confidently. She knew she was right and her expression said it all. No scope for argument here.

“What?” I ask distracted. “Oh, yes, it is a zebra!” I laughed and they joined me.

I knew why I was laughing, I suspect they knew too! They’d won a point without any counter-arguments.

 

 

A Modern Day Sir Raleigh

It was in Viña del Mar that my love for gazing out of the window; an entire wall of big windows became a regular routine. The windows faced a tree-lined street and situated at the corner of crossroads, on the second floor, provided a vantage point to look down on people and things happening on a street that was not a crowded one. My advantage – I watched unobserved. The heavily leafed trees screened me! 

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I watched people; how they walked; how they conversed as a couple or in a group. I noticed their expressions. And at times, I just gazed at a world moving on the sidewalks and on the road. Everyone was going somewhere while I sat and watched. Even the everyday, mundane activities of strangers interested me. And then, one day, I saw something that was sweet, heartwarming, and totally unexpected. This was as unexpected as the time I saw the woman on the street at night. You can read about it here: A Midnight Watch in Viña del Mar

Let me start at the very beginning. The much needed and awaited rain was welcome in all ways but one; it played villain to my daily walks. With water-logged streets even with a medium shower, it was not appealing to take a walk. So I’d spend some pleasant hours sitting by my bedroom window, intermittently burying my head in a book or gazing at the streets below.

There’s always something or the other that catches my attention and that day too, I witnessed, what to me was a combination of everything that spelled romantic. It was cute, sweet, chivalrous; unimaginable, sort of adventurous, and daring in a way…well, given the drizzle, cold winds, dark sky…all these combined to make for a great Bollywood song setting! There, I said it at the risk of sounding dotty!

Our apartment was at the corner. So where I stood at the window, I was above one of the zebra crossings. The corners, where the four roads joined, would get flooded during a heavy shower. As I sat gazing emptily into space, a movement in the periphery of my eye caught my attention.

A girl, maybe seventeen or eighteen, slender build, was contemplating crossing the ‘Red Sea’ in a rather comical manner. Clutching her open umbrella, she would stretch out her leg and attempt to leap across, except, she never made it because she never thrust herself forward. She kept hopping in place. Each time she made up her mind to jump, she’d lose confidence and abort, ending up doing a jig. Then I realized there was another spectator to this unintended pantomime.

A youth, possibly in his twenties, was across the street on the Norte side and was so amused by what was going on, he had forgotten to cross over, to the side the girl was on, which is where he was headed. I guess he was as intrigued as I was, and also keen to know how she would finally cross. Both of us watched her; I from my perch on the second level, and he right across from her. But she was oblivious to everything.

Finally, she decided that her open umbrella was hampering her long jump over the muddy water, and she closed it. If it meant getting wet, so be it, is what I presumed she thought. Contrary to her belief, however, it lowered her confidence even more. Now, she hesitated to even stretch out her leg and hop. That’s when I saw the young man make a snap decision. He splashed his way across the street and was by her side in the blink of an eye. She reared back surprised.

There was a brief conversation. She seemed not to like something and gave a negative nod. He was convincing apparently because a minute later, she took hold of her umbrella from the middle and the next thing I knew, she was riding piggyback with her arms wrapped around the youngster’s shoulders. He sploshed his way through the muddied water with his precious load and deposited her safely, relatively dry shoes and all, on the other side. Then, he happily made his way back to the corner where he’d picked her up and carried on, on his way. 

I saw a Bollywood in that. I saw a hero and a heroine… two strangers at a crossroad… will they meet again? If not would she relate this to her children and grandchildren? Would he? Obviously, this wasn’t something they had done or would do normally! Was fate at play here?

“Oh, it’s the rain,” I mumbled to myself. I find rain romantic and its pitter-patter calls out to me! So here I was drawing pictures and stories about two people who were blissfully unaware that they were being woven into a typical Bollywood film. Can you blame me for being silly?!

I belong to another generation, and century, and it was so cute and sweet, and romantic. It warmed the cockles of this woman’s heart as she sat in her seat by the window on a cold, rainy day.

 

 

 

She Fell… We Laughed!

Mummy was all of 4’9” tall. That should be more like ‘short’ than tall, but for all her pint-size stature she packed a giant image and not once did I ever perceive her as short, as long as I was a kid.

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Mummy got tickled very easily. Even the silliest of jokes would get her in splits. And so it was only natural that any kind of goof-up, even someone tripping and falling or tumbling would make her laugh first and help later. She always helped, with tears rolling down her cheeks….well so what if they were squeezed out by laughter! So it only stands to reason that all of us kids also have the same foible. I wonder if foibles are contagious! Let’s not digress and get along with the tale.

To start at the beginning, this happened in Delhi. We were living in Moti Bagh. One day we decided to take the short-cut to the taxi stand. My elder brother and I were walking ahead and as we came to the rather wide and deep gutter, we jumped over it effortlessly, without interrupting our conversation. We had carried on the conversation and went through the motions of walking, jumping over the gutter without consciously paying attention to what we were doing or to our surroundings, for that matter.

A few yards later, I turned to look for Mummy and she was nowhere to be seen. In typical little girl fashion, I panicked. Where had she vanished? Kidnapped! The thought immediately sprang into my wildly adventurous mind.

“She was walking behind us,” I gasped as we ran back, looking left and right for any sight of her. I stopped to catch my breath. We were a yard or two short of the gutter. She was nowhere! Now my brother was beginning to worry.

“Let’s ask the taxi drivers he if they’ve seen her,” he said looking towards the taxi stand. “Maybe she’s already there.”

“But how could she be there when she was behind us and we’re not there yet?”

For a few seconds, we were totally flummoxed and couldn’t make head or tail of the situation we found ourselves in. We were just a couple of minutes away from approaching a traffic cop, when lo and behold, our mother rises up from under the earth it seemed!

There, before our eyes, getting up inside the gutter was our mother. We were dumbstruck and for a moment didn’t react beyond open-mouthed, wide-eyed bewilderment. Then we ran to her.

Thankfully, it wasn’t the rainy season and the gutter was dry! The relief and the sight of her emerging from the gutter had a huge comic effect, and I burst out laughing. Jasper, the good old soul that he is, stifled his mirth and stooped to give her a hand up.

“Mummy, what happened? I was so scared you’d been kidnapped!” I said.

She gave me a look that said, ‘Look at you… you don’t look scared let alone worried!’ She appeared more upset than hurt. I gathered she wasn’t injured. But why was she so angry? Was it us, my brother and I, because we walked on ahead? Were we in for a reprimanding lecture?

“Stupid tailor,” she grumbled.

“What? Why are you blaming the tailor? How did he make you fall in the gutter?” I said between giggles and short bursts of laughter.

“The idiot stitched my petticoat so narrow, I couldn’t span the width of the gutter. So when I jumped, my leg couldn’t reach the other side. And I told him to keep it wider than they normally do and to mark that instruction down in his book.”

To understand her complaint against the tailor, you need to know that she was wearing a saree. Now, a saree has a long skirt petticoat that is tied around the waist and reaches the ankles. The saree is a 5-meter long panel of material that is tucked into the petticoat, at the waist, to hold it up. The length of the material is wrapped around in a particular fashion. It was this petticoat that the tailor had stitched rather narrow. 

Thankfully, except for some minor bruises and scratches, she didn’t get hurt much.

I got the sermon. However, it wasn’t for what I had expected it to be about. It did not rankle either, but it did prompt me to retort that she laughed too whenever I fell. I didn’t mind it since I laughed too, harder than anyone else.

It’s hard to contain my laughter at times even now, and I feel that maybe later, when one is brushed and dusted, and no physical or egoistic injuries have been sustained, a little laughter is ok. 

Thinking back to this incident, I wondered why laughter gets triggered when it seems apparent one shouldn’t laugh in a particular situation. I recalled the Charlie Chaplain and Laurel and Hardy comedies we’d grown up watching. How we’d howl with laughter when someone fell or when they’d knock each other down. In a way, did it condition us to find comedy in such incidents?

So I googled it. And this is the scientific explanation I found. As it turns out, it isn’t about being mean or uncaring. It’s about “play frames” and incongruity. here’s an excerpt:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ask-the-brains-why-do-we-laugh/

EVERY HUMAN develops a sense of humor, and everyone’s taste is slightly different. But certain fundamental aspects of humor help explain why a misstep may elicit laughter.

The first requirement is the “play frame,” which puts a real-life event in a nonserious context and allows for an atypical psychological reaction. Play frames explain why most people will not find it comical if someone falls from a 10-story building and dies: in this instance, the falling person’s distress hinders the establishment of the nonserious context. But if a woman casually walking down the street trips and flails hopelessly as she stumbles to the ground, the play frame may be established, and an observer may find the event amusing.

Another crucial characteristic is incongruity, which can be seen in the improbable or inconsistent relation between the “punch line” and the “body” of a joke or experience. Falls are incongruent in the normal course of life in that they are unexpected. So despite our innate empathetic reaction—you poor fellow!—our incongruity instinct may be more powerful. Provided that the fall event establishes a play frame, mirth will likely ensue.

However, I still can’t explain why in some instances when I fall… slip, stumble… I find it funny and feel laughter rising up, and sometimes, I feel embarrassed, and yet, I feel laughter rising up! There’s a difference between the two waves of laughter, though.

Perhaps that is why, when #she #fell… #we #laughed. The incident brought in both the “play frame” and the incongruity.

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A Ferry Ride To An Island

“We’re going to an #Amusement #Park this Saturday.”

“Where?

“On an island.”

“An island?”

“Yes. It’s not too far. We’ll be taking a #ferry ride.”

“Okaay… How do you have an #island with no sea around?”

“It’s a river island.”

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Clicked from the ferry as we approached the Amusement park at Centre Island.

Satisfied with this info, I wondered what I’d do at the amusement park and all its rides. To see me on a normal day, of which, thankfully, I have many in the continuum of ‘good’, ‘not-so-good’, ‘better’ days, you’d wonder why I was skeptical about the rides and my inability to enjoy one if not all.

Well, my condition is unpredictable. I could be walking, bending, and doing things normally… and then, just like that, I’d be laid down with a lumbar disc issue which would leave me unable to walk, sit up or even turn myself on my side in bed; not to mention, the excruciating pain. And then, not to be left behind, are a cervical disc and knees that like to surprise me now and then. So every action, even though I am careful, can trigger terrible consequences. Although I am careful, things can go wrong with the most simple turn or bend I make.

So, I decided I’d be the official #photographer and resort to people watching to keep occupied and humored. I wasn’t disappointed. One encounter with a young couple and a grandma with her little grandson makes me laugh even now.

I was sitting on a bench and eating nachos while the rest were doing the rounds of a few rides that they had still to go on. A young, Indian couple with a cute little dog, a 5 month-old pup, sat beside me. I picked up a conversation about the pup. Soon, a granny, whose grandson was crying sought the pup as a good diversion for the little boy; it worked. He stopped crying and she swapped stories with the couple about their respective pets. Just as I lost interest in their conversation, the grandma turned to leave, her purpose in speaking to them being achieved. The pup began yapping at her back and she turned and waved to it. It wagged its tail. Then she turned to leave again and it yapped.

The young man apologized for his pup and explained his barking like this:

“He doesn’t want you to go. He wants to talk to you.”

“Yes, yes, I know,” she said.

“But he can’t talk, you see. That is why he is barking,” the young man elaborated.

The smile on the lady’s face froze and a glazed look replaced the warm one. I could see that the lady wasn’t sure how to respond to that. Was he daft or did he presume she was daft?

She nodded her head briskly and walked away.

I was indeed at the Amusement Park having my own #funny, #laughter #rides!

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Doodling

“Do you have hands? Excellent. That’s a good start. Can you hold a pencil? Great. If you have a sketchbook, open it and start by making a line, a mark, wherever. Doodle.”~Chris Riddell

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“Why do you carry such a big handbag when you go for a walk?” said my son rather disapprovingly.

“Why? What’s wrong if I do?” I countered, a bit surprised.

“Just saying,” he replied shrugging his shoulders and raising his eyebrows.

“I carry some things with me when I go for a walk. I need a roomy bag to accommodate them” was my matter-of-fact answer.

My bag gets a bit heavier when I take along one or two of my #granddaughters with me. Added to my diary/journal, pen, iPad, and other knick-knacks, I also carry a game or two that we play: Spot It! and Caterpillar, and loose notepapers and pencils (even a few color pencils) because I make up writing games with the elder one, Aly. Our walks usually have a break at Tim Hortons. I love the place and can while away hours writing or reading if I’m alone and not having #funwiththekids.

“A part of my design and inspiration ethos is that I carry around a leather notebook and I sketch in it, doodle in it, write notes in it, and I put pictures in it.”~John Varvatos

One of the activities Aly loves is #doodling. At times, unintentionally, it becomes specific and more about designing. I set the timer to 1 minute and 15 seconds, and one of us chooses a word and we start doodling to make the word an attractive design. She’s nine and very good with her drawing and imagination.

Here are some of the ones we’ve done. All were done within the time limit and some even before the timer alarm went off. After comparing and complimenting each other, we shaded in some undone areas, but there was no addition or subtraction to the basic drawing.

She’s really amazing. Considering she had no time to think up something and she completed each one in time, she certainly has talent. I’m not saying that because she’s my granddaughter! See for yourself, I’ve added names so you can tell Alyssa’s from mine.

“It just comes out of my subconscious. If you asked me to draw you a doodle, I couldn’t do it.”~Lois Frankel

 WIN

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LOVE

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VIBES

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CHILL

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 KIDS

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 HOPE

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 CARE

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This one wasn’t a part of our timed #challenges, although we did them just as quickly as we did the others. This was done recently after we finished many different forms of word games and were relaxing with ‘doodh chai’ (extra milky tea) for her and a regular tea for me. Oatmeal raisin cookies boosted our energy 🙂

“I love jotting down ideas for my blog, so I doodle or take notes of all kinds of stuff that inspires me: the people I meet, boutiques I visit, a florist that just gave me a great idea for an interior design project, things like that.”~Maria Sharapova

 

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