Friday, December 24, 2010

Friends

It has been a hectic December for me.
I still find it hard to believe that I returned from a vacation just a month ago. It feels like its been years since I have had one...

I have enjoyed the last month of this year thoroughly. For a couple like us who don’t have much of a social life (in fact we are each others best friends), the last month has been an incredibly hectic social month. I don’t think it’s because of the Xmas season and holidays because then it should have been this way last year as well.

I had my mother in law visiting us after a year. I soon realized how easy it is to get used to having someone around at home. I am used to an ‘alone’ existence most of the day once the girls are at school. But now I had someone to breakfast and lunch with. I delved into different recipes of grilled fish/chicken and assorted puddings and my kitchen acquired different aromas over the last month…challenging yes but very interesting in its own way.

Ruchi my friend from Green valley where I live and who now lives in Germany was here on a fleeting visit.Atleast I got to meet her and spend half an hour with her and more with her daughter Prisha.

I had a sudden surprise visit from a very dear friend from overseas Vaishnav.He gifted us a Woodstock windchime that has added magic to our home...

Around this time we decided to host the Connect ticket meet –the 1st ever in Pune.We have hosted prayer meets when we lived in Bombay earlier and I had no worry about planning and hosting it. Once the meet details were posted, I met 2 members of our group from Pune who came over home and spent time with me asking me about the forthcoming meet and what it involved and how they could help. The meeting finally took place on the 19th December Sunday with a whopping 58 people attending and all of us praying for one another. Meeting the old CT members evoked nostalgia in me. Each of them has seen Anandita as an infant with her C-arch and in a severely spastic state. Very few could believe that she was the same child each of them had prayed for.

Meeting the new members meant new young energy and I felt like one of the old ‘been there done that’ members. Overall so much fun and energy that it’s incredibly hard to express it in words. I even blogged about the meet but fell short of words

Meeting Gauri after 8 months was like meeting a family member. She blends in so smoothly with my home and family that hers is like a gentle presence that I miss desperately once she has gone. Her mother, her calmness and love for my garden made me feel like reaching out to her constantly.

Judika from South Africa has been my friend since 4 years. Our children who have cerebral palsy in common brought us together through the Internet. We both tried our hardest to figure out how we had connected in the 1st place but didn’t manage to remember. I met her for the 1st time when she came down with her husband Naresh and her twin sons Shivaar and Shikaar.I am just glad I could finally meet her.

And then my Neha…My 1st friend in Padma Vilas enclave, Pune the 1st person I went out for a girls evening out leaving kids and husband behind with no qualms and guilt. Now that she visits India just once a year, makes even those 1-2 days when we meet worth the while and moments to be cherished. Some connections amaze me .Nothing to do with how we gelled and how much we had in common. just the fact that easy conversations with her were so much a part of my day and life that I do wish she still lived in Pune.One of the few friends I miss a lot and one of the few who when I meet, there are no gaps at all. We just catch up from where we left off

It’s now the last week of this decade and I don’t remember when I have had a single free moment to myself...this last monthNo gym no walks and suddenly I find I don’t know what to do with my free time.
But I would never trade these precious interactions that I have had for anything else in the world..

Connect Ticket meet

I have woken up today to a ‘feel good’ day. Not that I usually don’t but today seems different. My home seems different; the space I occupy, the feel and the sense of it all simply seems different.


Yesterday we hosted the 1st Connect Ticket meet in Pune at our home where for the 1st time we had around 58 people attending. And my home accommodated it all without much fuss. So much of goodwill and love generated that I could feel it from each one who attended-, the warm hugs, the big smiles, the appreciation and kind words Or simply put its also due to the fact that when one does something of this level, it automatically generates energy in one self.

All of us who gathered yesterday had a different purpose to being there. But one thing that we had in common was good intentions, an open mind and a prayer in our heart. And all of this collectively created an energy in my home and in me which has left me feeling content. and grateful.

Ever since I knew we would be hosting the meet for the 1st time in Pune, I knew space would not be an issue. Organizing the food I knew would be taken care of my generous large hearted Amit who would ensure the best.

I also knew instantly then 3 weeks ago when the meet date was fixed that my home would receive the blessings it needs. And we need it like anyone else does.

The afternoon began with the group of 18 members arriving by bus from Bombay to Pune...Ananya had made a lovely poster welcoming them and we had stuck it on the front door. Hugs exchanged, introductions done,lunch was served. We had catered from Shreyas-simple Maharashtrian vegetarian fare. Many new members began coming in and Pune members too as the session would begin at 2 pm.

There was the Om chanting after which the new members introduced themselves. Many of them had prayers for their close family members. The meetings are often hard to describe for me. We all meet with the intention to heal and interact and meet people who are like minded. Many share without fear of being judged. Many don’t because they fear being judged. Every one has the freedom to speak and share or not share. There is a creative visualization exercise and a meditation session as well. We also write down our prayers on intention slips and place it in the centre of the room and then all join hands and pray for everyone. Somehow the above lines don’t kind of sum up a CT meeting. The one thing I cannot include in the blog post is the ‘Energy’ one feels and senses amongst all of us, the home, and the words we speak...

Amit and I (and Ananya) have seen prayers work for Anandita when we faced the toughest challenge as her parents in 2001-2002 when we had to make a decision to keep her alive or take her off the respirator.

We have seen prayers work for us in coping with raising a child with special needs through all her rehabilitation procedures.

We have also witnessed how watching and changing the way we think has created abundance in our lives. And we have also been blessed at all times being guided to the right people at the right time—be it doctors, friends, support staff...

I became a member of the group out of desperation and helplessness when Ananditas condition was diagnosed. I wrote an email to Sridhar the person behind this group and its concept. Nothing to lose by asking for prayers was my thought then. Now so many years later I have truly understood the power of praying for someone I don’t know. There is objectivity and a sense of detachment in me that probably enhances the energy of the prayer I send out to the Universe.

(The meeting was held on 19th December at our home in Pune)

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Monday, October 25, 2010

On Hearing and Phonak

On Saturday I finally managed to visit my audiologist after 3 long months and many cancelled appointments. I have recently shifted to using a Phonak hearing aid (Exelia art) since April this year. It was a major shift for me as I have been using Siemens for the last 12 years. Perhaps a disillusionment in my hearing quality, perhaps faith in my Pune audiologist and the fact that he was willing to give me a trial of an expensive hearing aid so that I could understand its nuances made me go in for the Phonak eventually..


Saturday was a new experience for me. I began using the Click n Talk wireless transmitter which turns my hearing aid into a wireless headset when I need to use the phone. My hearing aid uses the Phonak HiBAN (Hearing Instrument Body area network) and the click talk mechanism streams in telephone calls into both my hearing instruments simultaneously. The quality is digital and crystal clear. It does shut off outside sounds while I talk, so sometimes that can be a disadvantage. (When am on the phone, I may not hear my door bell).But the joys of having clear phone conversations is something I am beginning to cherish and delight in.

The click talk transmitter is part of my hearing aid and comes in as a valuable accessory. However it is not compatible with a Nokia hand set. It has to be used with only with Sony Ericsson mobiles.

So that meant in order to use it, I had to purchase a Sony Ericsson mobile.Amit and I soon realized that there were very few Sony Ericsson mobile outlets in Pune and sourced two of them. One outlet in Viman Nagar was hell bent on selling me the upper end mobile phones of touch screen. It put me off totally. I am such a non tech person that it takes convincing to tell the man, all I need a mobile is for talking, messaging and also a good organizer. For me it’s a necessity not a designer accessory. Anyway that outlet was not an option for me. Customer service and good quality at that works for me brilliantly. Not otherwise.

So Tilak road it was. After 2 hours at the audiologist, we headed for the outlet and finally managed to find the small little store.

We spelt out our needs. While the proprietor-a well heeled, intelligent person was really clued on to the type of mobiles, he had never handled a click talk and pairing it to the new phone and the processes involved. Initially he was perplexed by me and asked me where my hearing aids were. I told him I am wearing them and that the audiologist had already paired my hearing aid with the Phonak click talk. He looked at me in wonder and genuine curiosity waiting for me to speak more. He was keen to know how the devices had been paired and where. His questions were many but it delighted me when he told me that this was the first time he had handled a hearing impaired customer and figured out the click talk transmitter pairing...

I sensed his curiosity about my challenge .To many who meet me for the first time the challenge seems invisible because I am carrying on conversations like a normal person does. There are times I forget myself that am impaired. I was reminded of my challenge yet again at the audiologist where in the course of conversation the topic of television came up and he asked me how I was hearing the TV.Immedietly I blurted out that I watched the programmers with subtitles and not otherwise. He ofcourse sent me away with a warning that I did not want to make the effort to hear and how would I handle it 10 years hence when the hearing got worse. I ofcourse had to tell him, how much worse can it get when it’s already beyond 100 decibels. He is an encouraging audiologist while am the stubborn customer who tries to have an answer to anything he has to say….

The truth of his words still ring with me. I am at times just too lazy to make the effort to hear. I would rather understand the subtle humour of “Whose Line is it anyway’? through sub titles than having to struggle to hear what those brilliant actors are saying...

Monday, June 07, 2010

Frangipani and the bougainvillea

Where I live, frangipanis abound.


I am more familiar with the Indian term for them, the ‘champa’.It took me time to figure out that they were called frangipanis.

I have seen them almost everywhere in and around the area where I live, abundant in their red or white blossoms. The white blossomed ‘champa’s are beautiful. Their white not really white but of a creamy texture which makes me wish to reach out and caress their petals. Perhaps to see if some of its color will come on to my fingers. Pure, pristine, simple creamy white. And when they are in full bloom, they are a sight to behold. Simply divine.

One day in the month of May, on a tree lined avenue that abounds in jacaranda and tamarind trees, I noticed something that took my breath away.

A huge and abundant frangipani shrub or tree (if I can call it that) with its creamy white blossoms, intermingled with it, in it. the rich red flowers of a bougainvillea shrub that was growing besides it. A vivid splash of color the smattering of red and white made the shrub look heart achingly beautiful. The kind of sight that left me open mouthed in delight and happiness. The way in which their colors intermingled, so seamlessly with the champa blossom giving the bougainvillea its own space to create a riot of color amidst the green trees.

That road became a favorite of mine ever since-just to have a glimpse of the two in communion with each other.

Few months later when I passed by, I saw just the bougainvillea in bloom while the champa was without her blossoms. The red was vibrant enough for me to turn back and look again but I felt it was incomplete. I couldn’t bring myself to feel that sense of ‘sheer joy’ one feels when they glimpse something beautiful.

Was their friendship so brief? Was their union just an interlude where each complemented the other and brought out the best in each other for that short period? And life took its course from there?

Why does something transient upset my balance? Is permanence the crux of being happy?

If the frangipani and bougainvillea had always blossomed together, would I have cherished that sight as much as I did now? Now as I passed by the red bougainvillea shrub swaying in the breeze, I was filled with an indescribable longing. A sense of impatience for time to fly, for seasons to change so that I could glimpse the beauty that they could create together all over again.-their brief interlude.

(Now that i look back,i never cared to click a photograph of them.Next year I shall) 

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Tradition

Every birthday eve, I tell my daughters the story of their birth. Or more specifically, what happened on the day prior to their birth, what I ate to how I felt, to what happened at the hospital, to who was with me……there is so much to tell. Somewhere the memories that have been stored away just seem to flow into words naturally on those 2 days of every year-June 6th and Oct 29th. .


Somehow, without my knowledge it seems to have become a tradition. This stepping back into the past, the narration of those eventful days of my life when my children hadn’t been born yet and I was awaiting their coming into this world eagerly…this tradition seems to continue with each passing year .I tend to forget that so much time has lapsed since their birth and it all seems new. Even if I forget or think they are saturated with the story of their respective birthdate stories am taken by surprise by the fact that they never tire of hearing it again and again.

May those memories never fade for me and for them, ever...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Raising you

Raising you in your infancy-early childhood was a cakewalk. I must admit that.As a first time mother I never really felt at a loss or helpless at any point of time.You listened, you rebelled, you threw tantrums, you screamed and yelled when things didn’t work your way and you were a stubborn baby. But yet it was a cakewalk. As a first time mother, I had to rely on only one strength of mine in raising you-- my intuition. No Dr Spock could teach me that. It was innate and I relied on it as a natural process...


I won’t get into the clich├ęd phrase of ‘how time flies’. It does and we know it especially when one has children.

Now you are 15,.I do get nostalgic about the way you have blossomed in to a beautiful (within and without) young lady with a mind of her own. You have strengths that I lack, that of making friends, of confidence, of being immensely mentally organized and yes a beautiful blend of logic and emotion.


Why is it that with time I have stopped using my intuition in understanding you? Is it because I know and sense you have grown up and are less dependant on me in many ways. Why do I forget that like babies, even teens are vulnerable and emotionally ultra sensitive?

Why has my confidence as a mother been replaced with helplessness now? I feel at a loss at handling your emotions. In the peak of the moment, I fail to be objective. I react rather than observe. And I forget to listen.

I forget to listen when you ask me how am I to discover my passion in life...

I react when you speak to me about your friends, some of whom I have distaste for…

And then the damn maternal guilt springs up unknowingly.Its rather strange how it always lurks under the surface.



Your growing up didn’t happen overnight did it? My realization was late. Realization of the fact that hugs just don’t work for a 15 year old like it did when you were younger.Listening, just listening quietly, giving you my undivided non judgmental attention works. No sermons, no patronizing, no exclaiming-“when I was your age”!



I think the beautiful part of parenting you is understanding my own self in a way I have never understood before. I have always wondered, is it that I resent your growing up and your desire to find your wings? Is it the regret of all the mistakes I have made while raising you—the dos and the don’ts, the perfectionist streak that overwhelmed my early parenting days…

Or is it that I am just setting such high standards for myself as a parent? As your mother? Some part of me craves for you to understand what I experience as well and at the peak of the moment; I actually forget you are 15 and not older.



There has been a letting go on my part that was not there earlier. The struggle within me was about letting go of you and a refusal to accept that you have an independent mind of your own. Now that you are away at camp, there is emptiness, yet a sense of appreciation of what you bring into my life each moment that you are with me. There is also a strange sense of relief in knowing that I have grown up as a parent and no longer wish to play a control-game with you.

Love you my teen.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

'Having to'

I have been thinking of this phrase 'have to' and I keep seeing it in a new light. When I think to myself, I have to lose 3 kilos to get back to my earlier shape; does it really really work for me?


If I think Diti has to learn to write neatly and legibly, does it work that way? Or that she has to learn Hindi/Marathi languages in the way that is set? Or that Ananya has to study everyday no matter what?

“Having to’ sounds punishing to my ears. I know that there are certain things that just have to be done like getting out of bed, seeing the kids off to school. preparing the various tiffins,cooking lunch. sorting out clothes, my writing. But when I tell myself I ‘have to’ do them, it creates a stress in me that doesn’t go away until the job is done. And the job I end up doing may be done half heartedly.

Is it that all of these jobs need to be done or am I allowing myself to make a choice. A choice on how I see these tasks and chores. Maybe I don’t need to do all of them together in one mad frenzy. Maybe I can look at them differently. Maybe I don’t need to do them at all within the time I set for myself. Maybe I change the order of the tasks!
Maybe Diti need not learn to write legibly because she has an option of using a computer as well. Maybe she doesn’t need to learn anything in a certain way or a specified time. I don’t wish for her to look at learning anything where it becomes a punishment or a subtle order. I don’t want resentment to creep in somewhere along the way in my children or me, a resentment that removes the joy of the task and makes me complain and grumble a lot.

Doesn’t life find its own rhythm eventually when we look at it differently? When we look at it as making choices and having options rather than simply ‘having to’?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sharing a Photo Blog

Great Pyramid of Giza-Egypt

This photograph was not taken by me but my friend-photographer-traveller enthusiast who spends more time clicking photographs (than  enjoying the moment) :) It took my breath away.
More of the photographs he clicks are on his blog

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Understanding hearing impairment.

Of late I have begun to understand hearing impairments better. I am more intrigued about it. It’s not the reason why it occurs that intrigues me. It is the way it differs from person to person, from someone who is born with it to someone who has acquired it say once they have completed their education and crossed language/speaking barriers. After the discovery of my hearing impairment in 1998 when I was 31, there followed a brief period of denial, counseling and ultimately acceptance and now I am at a stage when I can even laugh over it. Especially when I mishear things and it comes out all funny.


I seem to dislike using the word ‘deaf’. I don’t know why. Maybe ‘deaf’ , ‘blind’, ‘mute’ sound harsh and blunt ,like a label that refuses to peel off.( I know that is a reality).I seem to prefer using the words hearing impairment maybe because impairment sounds more gentle, less judgmental and less labeled.

I need to give credit for this sudden revival of interest to my new found friend Ruchi who has a 6 year old daughter, Prisha who has been hearing impaired since birth. As a mother it has been an amazing and challenging journey for Ruchi.When one meets Prisha and hears her speak it would be very difficult to determine that she is totally hearing impaired and has successfully crossed her language barriers. She speaks fluently and does not lip read. She can hear even in the dark with the help of her hearing aids. When I see her and since I am hearing impaired, I begin to see a bit of me in her and a bit of her in me. Maybe a bond that links us though we are ages apart. Although there is very little to give away her impairment, there are subtle nuances that make me aware of it. I also realized that here the challenge is for her mother-caregiver as Prisha has never known a world of sound. Instead she has been guided in to that world of sound with the help of her parents, speech therapist along with the indispensable hearing aid.

My hearing loss is so vastly different from hers yet am also hearing impaired. I rely on lip reading which is more or less guess work. I also tend to gesture more. I cannot hear in the dark even with my hearing aids on. I always need to face the person I am speaking with. My hearing loss was however discovered when I was 30 although the process of degeneration must have begun much earlier when I was unaware of it. It’s a progressive hearing loss that is to do with nerves or medically put- a Sensorineural hearing loss...Understanding that this condition came from ‘deafness’ genes took me a long time. A journey of blame and regrets followed which fortunately I have passed through now. I recollect my childhood of sign language and raised voices to communicate to my mother but then I never really understood the ‘difficulty’ in that situation. As a child it came naturally to me and naturally enough to accept my mom the way she was.

From a world of language, music and being able to carry on normal conversations even from a distance, I progressed into a new world where I adapted myself to my dis-ability.I miss, missing out on witty comments, wry humour, jokes and even gossip. There are times I laugh when everyone is laughing. I have to tune in to the group around me and this I notice is becoming more frequent. The struggle to cope with group conversations where sometimes I just tune myself out is really becoming a struggle.

Does it matter? Yes, it does.
Is my communication lesser than before? It is.
Does it leave me feeling sad? It does at times especially when am in a conversational mood and I know phone conversations don’t come easily to me.

I struggle in a movie theatre or while watching a play. Its tough to lip read then and I settle down to tune into body language and doing my usual guess work.I cannot hear an alarm clock or my mobile buzz in case I need to wake up early morning. I have stopped using them and rely on my body clock that doesn’t seem to go wrong as long as I believe in her. I long to hear the words of songs as they play on my CD or on the car FM and have to keep asking my family, ‘Which song is this?’, that’s one part I miss the most because music was always an integral part of my early life.

Are these regrets? Now after 12 years of hearing aids and slowly losing out on sounds, I also value this world of silence. It has honed my other senses remarkably. I am far more intuitive than most. I am also better at reading facial cues and eyes. And I love it because I have a partner who refused to let me become dependant on him to hear and carry on with normal life. Instead he encouraged me to hear, make mistakes and move on. My daughters who in turn empathize with me as well as roll with laughter over it. They can say something perfectly ordinary and I hear it as something so different that it results in peals of laughter all around. It has its merits. At night, I don’t hear the sounds of traffic and I don’t hear the watchman sing aloud to keep himself awake. The watchman by the way sits right below our 1st floor apartment. And I can conveniently miss out what I don’t wish to hear. ‘Selective hearing’ as A puts it.

I love to watch movies with subtitles because it makes my world a lot easier. I am so glad for sms’s and the internet (when I use it) although they by no means replace actual direct conversations. Thank god for technology.

I just wish I do not reach a day when I am unable hear my own voice, the voice of my girls and of A.