Umm – A Belly Rub?!

The most touching gift I received for Mother’s Day this year was the pair of them thrusting their favorite books into my hands with shining, expectant eyes. The son’s book was Shiloh – by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.

“Read this one – we loved the book in our class. I really think you will like this one, even though we don’t have a dog.” said the son.

The book is a poignant read about a dog being possibly abused by its owner, and finding a safe haven with the little boy. The book beautifully addresses the shades of grey in personality, the degrees of right and wrong, poverty, property, and so much more.

I loved the book, and thought about how un-intrusively the dog seemed to be accepted into the family.

I’d seen it first-hand. A friend of mine had no time for dogs. Yet, when a dog entered her life, I saw a volte-face in her attitude. There was no doubting the symptoms. She had became a dog-lover. She recognized breeds, she spoke of how some dogs shed more hair than others – but most of all, the love in her voice was unmistakable, and I teased her for it. 

Anyway, the week-end reads were done and it was time for the week to begin. The children were all woken up for their school, and in their respective screens when I popped in to say hello before my day began. 

“Uhhhnnn! Go Away! Too early!” 

“Shh! Amma. I am in a class, and our teacher is yelling at us for not doing our work on time. “

“Can you give me a second please?” Continues sounding important and says, “Am in a meeting – can I talk to you later?”

No points for guessing who said what in the statements above. 

“Sheesh! You can’t be in bed for class! Sit up child and change into some nice clothes before class please!”

“I just want to check if you put cream. Fine!”


Everyone was busy staring into their respective screens – a tiny rectangular tile in a meeting screen registering your presence. We do live in strange times and life isn’t always comprehensible. I muddled on along these lines, and stepped out into the street, to find our neighbor’s dog out for a stroll. Now, I don’t know how you feel when someone looks at you like you are the best thing that has ever happened to them. That’s how this little pup makes you feel.

The light in his eyes reflect, “How honored I am to know this person! If only they could give me a belly rub. Oh heavens above, please let me get a belly rub, and my life’s purpose shall be done!”

I turned around to see if there was someone else this poor pup was looking for, but no. It was me alright. Here was this marvelous soul, out for a belly rub with a neighbor, and all I did was – well, nothing really. I imagined meeting new people like this – nobody lies down on the porch looking for a belly rub – thank goodness, but here was this little pup thinking this is how life’s introductions have to be made.

So, I gave the little thing a belly rub and felt a lovely laugh build up in my being and let it out. Both of us laughed on that beautiful morning with the blue, blue skies above and a few clouds on the horizon, and all seemed right with the world. 

“If Jesus ever comes back to earth again, I’m thinking, he’ll come as a dog, because there isn’t anything as humble or patient or loving or loyal as the dog I have in my arms right now.” 

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Shiloh

I remember seeing a sign somewhere “Be the person your dog thinks you to be!”  And it seemed just right.

Love and Rainbows

“By the way, how is Valentine’s Day this year for you kids?” I asked. This year, with Covid, Valentine’s day celebrations seemed to be muted too.

Valentine’s Day in elementary school can be fun. Though I will carry on and on about the commercialization of love etc, I do love the way the occasion has made its way into elementary grade classrooms. There are manifestations of love everywhere – from painstakingly drawn cards to candy for their friends, the love can be overwhelming and just as it should be at that stage of life: I feel all of life is there to make cynics out of a few of them, romantics out of a few of them and hard-core pragmatists out of another few and fools of us all 🙂

“Oh! It is awesome! Rem-em-ber I told about you the slideshow and the decorations we are making?” I vaguely uh-huh-ed. A lot of things are told, and un-huh-ed at. “Well…we are making slides for each of us, and we get to write our cards out for every person on this.”

I liked the idea very much, and said so. “What a marvelous idea?! Was it your teacher’s?” The fellow beamed.

I really like how the younger children get to see love in its more wholesome form. They love their parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, teachers, friends, siblings, caregivers and pets. It all gets a bit wearying when they want to make cards for them all, but I prefer that to the more narrow interpretation leading to conjugal harmony( or not) one day.

The week-end had a loving vibe throughout. The mater, a stoic sort of person, has also seen year after year the hoopla around Valentine’s Day, and sent a note wishing them a happy Valentine’s Day. (“Maybe we should have paati checked – is everything okay?” said the snarky teenage grand-daughter, but beamed at the approval she got from her grandmother for the brownies she had baked and decorated with cherry blossoms for the occasion. ) 


This Valentine’s Day started off with me heading out with some of my girl friends for a lovely brisk walk that morphed into a saunter at places, and breath-taking gasps at others. As we made our ways past the suburban built up areas, past the railway tracks and the main roads, the spirits lifted with the scenery around us. The creek side, lakes, and green mountains in the distance made for a lovely, if long-ish walk.

As we headed back to civilization after mooning about the fields, we found ourselves walking along side a rainbow. Why do rainbows have a way of assuring us that all will be well? That magic exists in everyday droplets of water and the play of light.

“So, Ladies, Happy Valentine’s Day!” I said flourishing my umbrella against the rainbow. 


I headed into the house and told the children and the husband how I thought of them and missed them when I saw the rainbow.

“What a poetic way to celebrate Valentine’s Day huh? We were happy snoozing in late, and you were thinking of us and sending us love seeing the rainbow and all that?! Life is as it should be!” said the philosophers, and I rolled my happy eyes.

I couldn’t help agreeing as I enjoyed the sidewalk chalk drawing made by some children outside.



Dear Athai

When I look back upon my childhood, I see that it sparkled with a fine collection of aunts and uncles (most not related by ties of blood) My father was a teacher in a residential school (Lawrence, Lovedale), and all teachers lived on the campus along with their broods like one large, extended family. It is only natural that we adopted some of his close friends for our very own aunts and uncles as well.

“Isn’t she such an inspiration?” said my friend, as we waved to Athai (meaning Father’s sister) one night about thirty years ago. “Poor thing has had such a tough life.” Athai seemed happy enough to me, I thought to myself, why was her life tough? Seeing my puzzled expression, my friend, who was older, taller and wiser (she still is), took it upon herself to enlighten me.

That evening, she told me how Athai was a very well off young lady when she lost her husband unexpectedly. She realized later that she not only lost her husband, but her fortunes as well. Suddenly, she found herself rudderless. She told me how Athai took up the job as matron in her children’s school, and how she had rebuilt her life with dignity and perseverance. She had gone on to raise her three children as a single mother through those hard times.

I never looked at Athai the same way again.

They say children have an innocence that is hard to define, and I understand now what that means. I had known Mrs Ramachandran my whole life spanning less than a decade without stopping to think about her past life: her life beyond being matron to hundreds of children, the person who managed the kitchens and Athai to all of us. In all of these roles, she was gracious, loving and giving. It was as if she had simply sprung into being the same beautiful way in which I interacted with her everyday. Her grey hair framing her round face with a ready smile that dimpled her cheeks.

When I stopped to think of it, I realized that she must have been a stunning beauty in her youth.

It was then that I started asking Athai about her life. She would share bits and pieces of some incidents here and there and I was happy to listen whenever she did. She came home in the evenings some days with her friends and we always looked forward to seeing her if only for a few minutes.

One day, I opened the door looking despondent. She asked me what the matter was, ever ready to deal with the intensity of teenage turmoil.

“This is one of the reasons I don’t like jewelry!” I said as I finished telling her about how I lost one of my gold earrings on the playground. I was feeling miserable.

With her characteristic humor, and knowing how much I balked at wearing jewelry, she teased me that I might find myself married to a husband in a remote village, where every woman wore six chains, twelve bangles, sagging earrings, a nose-ring, and that I would have to get into a bullock cart decked up in my finery, in order to take a phone call from my sister on market day. I laughed, feeling better already.


Then, she said, “You should be careful with your belongings, but you must not become attached to them.”

Every bit that Athai shared of her life was beyond inspirational, it was motivating. I sat mesmerized by how without her ever realizing, she weaved her grief, misfortunes, perseverance and joy together as one beautiful tapestry through which her personality shone through. I loved every interaction with her, the attentive companionship she gave, and her unfailing good humor.

Last week, Athai passed away at the age of 88. I wished I lived in a remote village and had to wait till market day to receive the sad news of her passing. But WhatsApp is relentless and swift. The network packets encrypted and decrypted the message the same way it packaged every inane joke and forwarded message: “Athai passed away. “ it said blankly.

I am enormously grateful that my life was influenced by people like Athai, Raghavan uncle, Mr Bharathan and so many more.

Don’t cry that it is over, smile because it happened. – Dr Seuss.


I dragged my children along for a walk that evening. Fresh air always makes it easier for me to think happy thoughts, and I knew the walk would help me celebrate Athai’s life. I do not know whether my children will remember the evening, but for me, it was important. It is a tiny piece of Athai that I wish to share with my dear ones.

I know Athai would have liked to know my little ones. In her heart, there was always place for love.

Dear Athai – may you rest in peace and thank you for everything.


Lessons From The Little Blue Train

The Article below also appeared in The Hindu in the Open Page on May 10th:

My mother ran downhill through a steep slope in order to catch her little blue train to get to school, where she taught, everyday. We lived in a small place nestled in the Nilgiri Hills, where everybody knew everybody else and even though we might not have been invited to Tea at the train driver’s house,  he obviously knew my mother. He would see her pelting down the hill, practically skating on the little seeds dropped from the Eucalyptus trees above, as he maneuvered the train around the mountainside. He would wave a friendly hand to her telling her to slow down indicating that he would wait for her to board. What is a minute here and a minute there was his philosophy, and one that entirely suited the place and times.


The Nilgiri Mountain Railways was not competing with the Rajdhani Express or the electric trains of Mumbai. The little steam engine was a joy, and intended to show people that true joy in living came from hard work with a dose of huffing while going uphill and a friendly toot and speed moderation while going downhill. The journey, it steamed, was the most important thing. Chug past the lakes and mountains, cling to the cliffs, take deep breaths of the nippy air and keep moving while you can.


From Wikipedia: Picture Credit: By Nsmohan – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

When people ask me about the banes of urban living, I rank not knowing the train driver quite high up on the list of grievances. I have to run up 50 stairs like an asthmatic calf to get to the platform.  So many times, just by virtue of being stuck behind a set of folks who refuse to budge on the escalator, I have missed the train. More often, I charge into the train just in time to have the doors close behind me and then stand there panting and mooing for breath.

When one considers how often I have flown past steps and hopped past debris and skidded into the train, I suppose it is only fair. A matter of tempting fate long enough. One day last week, a quick look at the watch (set to two minutes past the actual time), and another look at the car clock (set to three minutes past the actual time) revealed that I have a 30% percent chance of making it to the train if it was on time and a 43% percent chance if it was a minute late. Give me a chance at something like that and I mysteriously transform into a demonized matador bull:  I will lower my head and point head train-ward and charge like a demon with horns. However I was not feeling sufficiently bull-like that day, more like The Reluctant Dragon.


The Reluctant Dragon is a marvelous children’s book written by Kenneth Graham. In the book, the villagers are keen to slay the Dragon assuming all dragons are vicious. The Dragon, however, wants no fighting or flame spewing. He simply wants to rest his back against a rock, think and write poetry.

The train doors above me opened and I looked upwards while running. I forgot about the raised platform around the 57th step. It was then that I took a toss. Now, when I say ‘Toss’ in that flippant manner, it does not truly capture how much an ass it makes one look.  Well, there really is no comparison with the animal kingdom, I mean have you seen deer trip or donkeys slip on the mud? That is set aside for the two-footed I believe.  The point is that the step hurled me and I fell spectacularly. My bag flew one way, my legs the other, while my knees scraped along trying to keep the bag and legs together. I lay there trying to resist a bizarre urge to laugh out loud, though I could feel the stinging pain in my scraped knees. I did chuckle to myself though – I must have looked like a prized fool sprawled there first thing in the morning when folks have important things to do and places to be. One cyclist evidently late for her own train, said, “You okay?” and I said “Yes”. She gave me the Thumbs Up and cycled off.

As I stared at the departing train to see if I could detect a smirk from anyone on the train, I need not have worried. The shiny silver train streaked off glinting against the morning sun as efficient and indifferent as ever. I did not know which was worse, the physical pain from the bruises or the indifference of the departing train. Just as quickly as laughter had come, I found much to my embarrassment, that tears stung my eyes.

No one knows whether the kind train driver who waved to my mother is still alive today, but I miss the likes of him in today’s world.

The Contentment Unit of Measurement

This Spring, we are with Bala, that gullible grandfather with a booming voice, hearty antics, a retired man with a ros-ie outlook on the working life, and genuinely enjoying the company of his grandchildren: young blood and all that.

As I have written before, what with the pace of life and so on, we decided to take a short trip up the hills to Lake Tahoe. It was a marvelous time to visit. The mountains had had a fresh sprinkling of snow less than two days before our visit, but you’d never know it, the way the sun beamed down upon us as we ascended the mountains. Pure bliss. Lake Tahoe is one of those places that can soothe as well as it can pump adrenaline for the adventurous. And why not? There is a pursuit there for every one. From the quiet walks, to the serene views, to the snow, there is Paradise right here.


We stayed at a house with a kitchen in it, so the mother was content. Finding a good kitchen in which to make a warm meal to feed her family at the end of the day is what makes the mother happy. So be it.

After a hot dinner, I sat with my legs-up on one of the fuzzy armchairs for a spot of reading. A reading light provided just the right amount of light, the son played with his cars on the floor, the daughter arranged the setting for a board game, the fire crackled merrily in the fireplace, and it was a cozy scene. I had picked out a magazine on mountain living or some such thing, from the conveniently placed magazine trove nearby. It turned out to have rather a lot of material and pictures on houses in the area. Lovely pictures of clean houses with vases, throws and plumped up cushions. I mused on the cleaning effort that goes into an everyday home.

One time I remember dropping into a friend’s house without calling in advance and was struck by how neat the whole place was. Not even a key was out of place. My own key was missing from the center table where I had placed it. I looked for it while leaving, only to find that my friend’s then 3 year old son, had taken the keys and put them away in the Keys Drawer. I was so impressed.

Things are different on our side of the spectrum. Oh so different! When I walk into a hotel room for instance, I can slice and dice the room in a jiffy and tell you how it will be after a day or two of us in there. I can tell you where exactly the rental papers will be strewn, where the keys will be plopped, where the chargers would be hanging and tangling themselves, where the socks will be bubbling out of the shoes and where the wet towels would be laid out.

I thumbed through the pages, all the while admiring the neat photographs, and wondering how people lived like that. The husband belongs to the jolly category of people who will tell you that a squeaky clean place like that must

(a) belong in a magazine for photographic purposes or

(b) be a hotel,

and then proceed to flop his coat on the recently cleaned couch.

Of course, this is a source of trouble in the dear home. For me, not him. For the misplaced coat never seems to bother him. He is convinced about the too-neat-to-be-a-home theory. A theory in which he is ardently supported and praised by his loving father-in-law, who thinks nothing of stewing brochures and magazines in every available spot in the house.

Storms, Televisions & Other Things
Storms, Televisions & Other Things

The father was sitting across the hall with an equally attractive home living magazine in his hand. He wobbled up in few minutes  to show me a stately mansion with an impressive number of bedrooms and large garden. The grin on his face was set to ‘Tease Thy Daughter’ and he said “So, how about buying something like this for a vacation home?”


I looked at him and said with a quake in my voice, “Can you imagine cleaning a place like this?”

Contentment comes in various forms – mine is in the size and shape of a three bedroom house.

Nose in Books & Feet in Socks

As an immigrant to the United States, there are things I will always cherish. Lovable quirks such as “Water no ice please” or “Aww..”. Things like different reading fare is marvelous. Growing up in the misty mountain valleys of South India, we had access to good children’s books, and I relished every moment spent with my nose in books and my feet in socks.

Enid Blyton lifted all of us children into clouds above The Magic Faraway Tree or whisked us away on the Wishing Chair. Tinkle comics & Champak took us for a spin (I am trying to remember some of the characters without the aid of the Internet – a cheap thrill in the current times – Kalia, Chamataka, Doob-Doob, Tantri the Mantri, Suppandi, Naseeruddin Hodja, Vikram & Betal and of course, that vague huntsman who should be the mascot for gun control laws, Shikari Shambu).


Later, Nancy Drew, Bobbsey Twins, R.K.Narayan, and Alexander Pushkin were the in-things to read.

As more serious fare gradually replaced this wonderful array, I never expected to be revisit that wondrous feeling of picking up a children’s book where you know not what magical world opens up to you, and when. But that is exactly what happened when I had children here, and we journeyed into these marvelous worlds together. I had never read the Thomas Train series or the Curious George series or the Beranstein Bear series or any of the books by Dr. Seuss as a child and I got to experience all of this with them for the first time. Oh! The simple pleasures of reading a book like any of these for the first time is gift enough, but to be blessed to be able to read it for the first time as an adult is surreal. It was like growing up all over again. To that, I am eternally grateful.

Walking into the children’s section of books is such a treat. Dr Seuss’s birthday gave rise to a number of excellent articles and I relished them almost as much as the books.

What Pet Should I Get?


Just as Dr Seuss promised, the nonsense woke up the brain cells that were sluggish due to lack of use and life became an adventure again.

dr seuss

It even makes me think nothing of making a fool of myself publicly and putting out things like:

Do you want to be a Sailor?
Or do you want to be a Tailor?
Maybe we need to be a Failor
Before we become a Winnor.

“The Television”

The husband is back from a fortnight-long business trip and the whole household sighed with relief, joy and exasperation when his smiling face greeted us.

That sigh of relief was mine.
Those whoops and shouts of joy that woke the neighbor’s cat and caused the squirrels to fall out of their trees was the children’s.
That exasperated sigh that was drowned in the cacophony was the Television’s. Anyone would be exasperated if they were rudely told that their quiet time had officially ended.

In our household, the Television is one that does its share of work, usually without complaining, though we know how angry it can get when pushed up against demanding work schedules. Take the time it decided to go on strike and fumbled the husband mid-stride:

This time, the television had a break too during the husband’s trip. You see, I am hopeless at getting the various things to work – there is Netflix and Amazon and Xfinity and Roku and Google TV and Apple TV and You tube. I am vaguely aware that these are all different things, but like the daughter says, “Poor amma – she has lost the battle the moment she calls it ‘The Television’ instead of lovingly calling it a TV!”

With the Television out of the running race of entertainment options, other activities gallantly stepped in to fill the void. We had a marvelous time together: taking walks in the golden autumn sun while entertaining friends and family, making beautifully shaped dosas and pancakes, whipping up thanksgiving feasts just because, cutting and pasting paper, preparing for a science fair, decorating our christmas tree. We did everything except television-watching. Which is what the children missed the most (after their father of course). So, the first words to escape their mouths after the vociferous cries of welcome were yowled was, “Could you get Netflix going again? Amma tried and tried, but she just couldn’t.”

The husband shook his head looking shocked, “Do you mean to tell me, you spent two weeks including a long week-end without TV?”

“Yes…of course! But we had a nice time right?” I said smiling at the angels who came on walks dressed like Panda bears and impersonating hawks.


“Well…let’s put it this way! We had a good time because Amma was happy that ‘The Television’ was not working, so she made sure we did fun stuff.” said the daughter rolling her eyes, and quoting ‘The Television’ like she has seen many fine teenage heroines on Television do. The husband gave me a look that said, “To think a mother would put her children through this!”

As Netflix came to life, the children enveloped him in warm hugs and embraces and the husband looked pleased. He swelled as it isn’t everyday that he is made to realize what a true hero he is to them.

I turned to the toddler son and asked him, “Who should give you a bath today? Appa or Amma?”

I was already whistling up the stairs sounding like a milk cooker out of breath, a book neatly tucked under my arm, when he shouted his answer: “Appa!”

My Hero!

Release Your Inner Cupid

I wonder what is being said about us in the animal world newsletters this month. We have articles on animal behaviors don’t we? This article on the various techniques adopted by animals is an interesting one. Some techniques are funny, some scary and some for which I can’t think of the right adjectives.

Life is full of interesting tidbits of information.  For example:  The efforts of Sir George Archibald who loved the ways of the whooping crane. I quote:

When whooping crane populations dropped to fewer than 100 individuals in the 20th century, ornithologist George Archibald stepped in to try to get one whooping crane in captivity, Tex, to mate. To initiate ovulation, Archibald danced with her, and after several attempts, she successfully hatched a chick in 1982, according to Audubon Magazine.

I was glad to have read this. Now, I know not to judge a person acting like a babbling baboon or an aggressive tiger harshly. We don’t know what their journey is about.

Like Jane Austen says, “There are as many forms of love as there are moments in time.”

I wonder why we exemplify Valentine’s Day to be a Lovers Day only. Let it be a day of showing love. Bring out your inner whooping crane or wake your dormant flamingo and have fun.

valentine's day

The Message of Love

I thought a great deal about getting the husband something thoughtful to mark the dozen years we have spent in each other’s company. I remembered a friend of ours mentioning that ‘Things Remembered ‘ is the store to go to make your special one feel more special. I had the foresight to check out something useful and settled on something that sounded useful enough( A 2GB USB keychain) Other things on the site like a heart shaped pendant on a gold chain etc don’t exactly look like the sort of things the husband would touch with a barge pole.

The important thing about the USB keychain is that it has the engravings of love, the mark of true labor on it.  I spent a good hour checking out cheesy quotes on love that he can carry forever on his engraved USB. I wracked the brains of Jane Austen, Henry James Thoreaux,, P. G. Wodehouse. Nobody was spared as I made studious notes of quotations on love with an element of humor. I even went to see what Mahatma Gandhi had to say on that unquantifiable yet, so satiating a force. Not satisfied with him, I went to plumb the depths of Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein. I spent a further hour pondering over all the beautiful things about love.

I loved Dr Seuss’s quote: You know you are in love, when you cannot fall asleep because reality is better than your dreams.

That would not work in our case, because as much in love as I am with him, I fall asleep. In fact, the more I love him, the more I sleep. As for the husband, that would have meant that his love for me has kept him awake long before he knew me. He has been a night owl for as far as I can remember.

Maybe, this will be more apt, since we both like our laughs:

From there to here

From here to there

Funny things are everywhere

I then thought of what makes him so curious and thought this would suit him better:

Think and Wonder

Wonder and Think

However, I could not help thinking that he would wonder why on Earth I went in for a 2 GB USB card to pour my heart into and shelved the quote.

Maybe a scientist at heart will be better suited for him: To love, be loved and be lovable.

Or maybe, Love is like PI: Natural, Irrational and very important. 

But neither of these would do. Einstein was not my notion of a romantic thinker.

By now, the lady in the shop was skipping over me. She was positively amazed at all the pages I was writing and nodded her approval and told me to take my time. After a further 1/2 hour of agonizing over the right words, I settled for one of these, depending on what would fit the available area:

Where there is love, there is life – Mahatma Gandhi Or

There is no remedy for love but to love more. – Henry James Thoreaux Or

Love is the greatest refreshment in life – Pablo Picasso 

night owl

I finally went over to the shop assistant and told her I was ready. She pranced over to see what my notes and research had yielded. I saw her eyes light up at the number of pages I had filled out.

She asked me to write my final choices on the order paper and started counting words.

I felt like I was back at the Village Post Office giving a telegram: “Father coming Stop Mother also coming stop

When I saw the Postmaster counting the words out, the editor in me reared up and said, “Wait a minute! You charge by word? Father and Mother coming stop. No Wait. Father comma mother coming stop.

I felt a bit weak. I asked her what she was counting words for and she told me that every word to be engraved was charged separately. I hadn’t counted on brevity being the theme of love. In fact, I wished myself back at the Post Office and I could say, “Please send a telegram with message #29: Wedding Anniversary Greetings”.

I saw the amount she came up with and hollered at her to stop while I racked my brains for something short and sweet.

I could only think of that wonderful message we flash to anyone who stops by our home: Live, Laugh, Love. It is what is there on our doormat and sighed myself out.

While waiting for the thing, I checked what the non-engraved thing cost on Amazon. I could find a set of four for $10, while I had just paid $50 for one that has the same message as our doormat on it.

Well…such is life and one must not put a price on the gift of love. Happy Anniversary to Us!

The Samosa Love Triangle

If you read my entry on the footwear in the cruise carefully, you will see that a Samosa figured. Namely that we were looking forward to having the hot samosa while aboard the cruise. There are a few memories that rankle you – titillate you days afterward. The hot samosa is one such.

Launching then, into the story of the samosa.

There was a point in the proceedings when the daughter and I were left to ourselves and the remaining party went for a walk. Of the party that went a-travelling to see the sights of London & Scotland were two babies under the age of 1. The 10 month old was my son (the compulsive crawler), the other was my dear nephew who was 5 months old at the time. That sweet little baby had not yet learned to crawl. He lay there quietly on his back uttering a gurgle or two now or then, cooing and smiling like a 1000000 watt bulb. I swear to God, his is the first smile I’ve seen that is so all-consuming. When he smiles, his whole being lights up and happiness pours out of every pore. Bless the dear – may he be happy always.

While on the walk, the parent committee decided it was best to change the diapers. Tick one job off the list. Efficient use of time. Two stones in one throw. I had no idea that changing diapers could be classified as bragging material, but apparently it is.
After a longish walk; we met the diaper braggers and walked around for another hour or so. It was at this point in the story that we decided to rest and take in the sights of London by taking the cruise.

Always brilliant when it comes to pairing experiences with taste, my brother and his wife said the samosa is a must on the cruise and deftly swerved into a place and bought the hot samosas. The cruise had barely started when the babies got hungry too. The million watt smiler was easy – he just migrated towards his mother and gave her one of his heart-breaking smiles. That is all it took for his private milk bar to open up for business. The crawler was now ‘on solids’ and needed fruit. So, I looked for the diaper bag and it wasn’t there. Gone!

The husband and I exchanged looks. The husband & brother exchanged looks. The sister-in-law and I exchanged looks. Then we all exchanged looks. The result of all that looking was that we nominated the first prize winner of the Diaper Bragger Contest to go and get the diaper bag from wherever they so efficiently changed diapers – a good 2.5 miles away from the next cruise stop.

That was how the husband missed the thrill of watching footwear on the cruise. As for me, I gave a noble reason for not diving into the samosas (I said I did not want to devour hot samosas while the husband was off diaper bag hunting). I decided to eat with him later. We got off at Greenwich and the vigilant sister-in-law having done justice to her samosa decided it was time to clean up house. Consequently, the first trash can in Greenwich (that beautiful spot that calibrates the World clock) bagged the lottery of our trash.

So, there we were a good two hours later. Nothing but bull-headed self control (and love for my husband) kept me from the samosa and nothing but love for the samosa kept him running with a diaper bag in tow towards us. You know how it is. In our heads now, the samosas had miraculously heated themselves to an ideal edible temperature and were sitting pretty on a plate. It did not help that the brother and his wife kept talking about what a wonderful taste it had and how it was just the right size. Among samosas, these apparently belonged to the royal family. The moment we met, we knew that our hearts may beat separately, but they ache for one thing : Samosas.

If ever there was a nasty jar, it was this: The blasted samosas were missing!

Remember the looking scene when we discovered the lost diaper bag? That was nothing. Magnify the proportion of disbelief a hundred fold. We looked at each other like we’ve never seen one another before. Then one after the other, we all looked into the bag to see if there was some crevice where things were hidden. Nothing. At one point I thought the bag had a sneaky samosa-eaten guilt look about it.

When I finally pulled a bag of trash, the mystery was solved. The sister-in-law, her nose still dripping with the smell of samosas, sniffed in the bag looking for the trash bag. Her nose naturally went for the samosa bag and she tossed that in the trash instead and saved all the trash for the little crawler to inspect.


PS:Interesting fact, did you know that the Chicken Tikka Masala was Britain’s national food? Right through our trip there, the one thing that stood out was the number of Indian restaurants. There we would be – a small town, you know the whole population fits on a backstreet around the length of a longish dinosaur. Then, you see the main street has 5 Indian restaurants. It is almost like every Indian family felt compelled to extend their kitchen out into a restaurant.

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