When a city leaves a heartprint ♥️

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Two years back, when we decided to move bag & baggage to Coimbatore, I was worried that I wouldn’t find the comfort that Madras gave me. I was wondering if I would be able to accept another city as my own, let alone love it as much as I loved Madras.

But Coimbatore, it’s makkal and the warmth welcomed me with open arms. So much so that I didn’t miss home one bit and even said I loved Kovai more than Chennai.

Two years since we moved, we are packed and ready for another city and to begin another chapter of our life.

Coimbatore, you beauty I will miss your warmth, your lovable nature and the makkal. You gave Lishaan his first friends, you gave us Isha. Dinners in Yari, midnight ice cream sessions at Cream Stone, visits to Eechanari for every festival and the homes of our friends that my children and I have so often frequented; if one were to connect these dots it would form a heart. No, not being sappy but I know that Dhana & I will miss Coimbatore for a million reasons. Here are some that I can think of :

1. Friends

2. Radio Mirchi

3. Brookes

4. Yari

5. Cream Stone

6. Bombay Kulfi

7. BSIM

8. Babywearing

9. Diwali parties

10. Castle Town

11. Eechanari

12. Tirupur

13. Mayflower

14. New year 2017

15. Isha

16. Sungam bypass road

17. Balaji groceries

18. Big basket 😂

19. Bida-bida rides with Lishaan

20. Friends like family

There are probably a hundred more things that I will miss, but Coimbatore has given me strength, courage and a lot to carry life forward with my head held high. To friends, friends like family and naysayers, adieu! Time to make more memories and share more stories from another untouched, beautiful and humble city.

I am writing as a part of the Write Tribe Problogger’s challenge. #WriteBravely #WriteTribeChallenge

Maruvaarthai Pesaaadhey

“Maruvaarthai pesaaadhey…” echoed from the small radio at the tea stall as rain lashed around like a scorned woman. Arjun stood there, trying to make the most of his cigarette. His eyes were stinging with tears, but like the famous saying, no one could see his tears in the rain.

‘Anna Oru tea kudunga’ he said, killing the last spark of red in the cigarette.

His friends still found it strange that he had fallen for a girl whom he hadn’t even met. The internet is a strange place! One random comment by her on his latest photograph had started a whirlwind romance of sorts.

Sipping the hot tea Arjun wondered how he had the faith intact even after so many days that she would come. In front of him was the tall blue glass giant that housed Aruna – Infosys. She worked there, she had said. Did she really? How would he find out? Her Facebook name was ‘Mysterious Girl’ and she had no photographs of her own, just of her photography works. ‘Aaagh! You fool!’, Arjun half-shouted as he got into the rain to start his bike. He rode away, splashing mud and his love in the rain.

I am writing as a part of the Write Tribe Problogger’s challenge. #WriteBravely #WriteTribeChallenge

Monster in my head

The monsters in my head whisper all night long. ‘Toss her away… Run away. Don’t come back. Cut yourself up’ they keep whispering in my ears. I sing out aloud but their voice even fills the tunes of my favorite songs.

Leaving my baby in her crib, I run into the bathroom, throw myself into the toilet, trying to empty the uninvited guests with the bile like vomit.

‘ A break will do you good’ said my reflection in the mirror, looking at the spit stained woman staring at her weakly.

‘Yes, I need a break’ I tell myself. Wiping away my tears and the sweat, I walk out of the bathroom with a determination. Dialing that number on my phone I say ‘ma.. I need help’.

Postpartum depression is an ugly monster, isolating you from asking help. Reach out, take that break and talk to someone.anyone. don’t let the monster win.

I am writing as a part of the Write Tribe Problogger’s challenge. #WriteBravely #WriteTribeChallenge

Amma learns Whatsapp

‘Molu, teach me how to use this Whatsapp no?’ said Amma for the tenth time in the same phone call. It was 11 in the night for her, two hours beyond her bed time, but she was still awake waiting for my phone call. Ever since I moved to the US, this has been the practice. She wouldn’t listen when I told that she can call me when she wakes up in the morning. ‘Because you will be sleeping that time no, Molu?’ she’d say in her ever loving voice.

Finally, I managed to get Binny from the next house to teach Amma how to use Whatsapp. From that day on, religiously one message would make its way to my phone promptly every day. I could tell that it was 5:15 am in India when the message arrived. I could almost see Amma waking up, brushing her teeth, finishing her morning prayers and sending me these messages, sitting on her easy chair by the verandah.

It had been two years since my divorce. The whole episode hadn’t shaken her up, but had hardened my mother. She was as strong as a fortress on the outside, but on the inside, I knew she worried about Aarush and me. Like Amma said, “You can choose courage, or you can choose comfort, but you cannot choose both” and I chose courage in a world that offered comfort for a price; that of my dignity. Thanks to this lady sitting in a quaint neighbourhood in Cochin and her messages every morning, I lead a better life strengthened by love and resolve.

I am writing as a part of the Write Tribe Problogger’s challenge. #WriteBravely #WriteTribeChallenge

How about you?

‘There is this nerve in me; something like the funny bone maybe. It refuses to let me obey rules’ smiled Anaisha as she placed her resignation letter on her boss’s desk. Umang was surprised to see his best employee walk in on a Monday morning and hand in her resignation with the same air of calm with which she usually greeted him every morning for the past six years.

It was her inability to conform to rules that made Anaisha stand out. She couldn’t play by the rules of the society. She couldn’t be silent ‘just because’; she couldn’t say yes when she wanted to say no.

‘Anaisha is a brilliant child with a lot of potential. It is her refusal to adhere to everyday rules that poses to be an impediment in her achieving bigger accolades’ read her report card at the age of six. Some called it disobedience, her father called it character.

 

Sadly, there’s less place for women of character in our society. Do you agree? How obedient are you?

I am writing as a part of the Write Tribe Problogger’s challenge. #WriteBravely #WriteTribeChallenge

A whiff of you – Some things are forever

This is the final part of the story. You can read part 1 and part 2 here.

 

2015

Making her a large mug of coffee, Gauri sat on the couch by the TV. She switched it on, randomly surfing a few channels before settling on a cookery show. The hostess, a voluptuous lady in her 50’s was teaching the audience how to properly massage a chicken with butter. Absentmindedly, Gauri kept looking at the show, as though enthralled by the whole act, nearly forgetting that she was vegetarian.

Suddenly, she jerked out of the trance and took a long sip of the coffee. Setting the mug on the table, Gauri pulled out her mobile and hit redial. ‘Are you better now?’ asked a voice immediately on the other side of the call. ‘Yes, Resh!’ said Gauri sounding exhausted. A few minutes into the conversation, Gauri dropped the bomb. ‘Listen, I want to talk to GS. Give me his number’ she said. ‘WHAT! ARE YOU INSANE? WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?’ screamed Reshma in complete shock.

Gauri explained, amidst a lot of resistance from Reshma, that she only wanted to talk and meet him once, return that jacket. She assured her friend that there was nothing else to it. Reshma found the whole idea silly and very risky. She reminded Gauri that her life was perfect in all ways and that this phone call could tilt a lot of things wrong. Despite all her attempts to prevent the call, Reshma saw the old G resurface, stubborn and adamant to do what she wanted. After the call was over, Gauri received a WhatsApp message with the phone number, followed by a line ‘babe! Be careful <3’.

Gauri knew that any minute that she wasted contemplating her action would only deter her thought, so she immediately dialed that number. Her hands were colder than her coffee at that minute when after three rings, a hello left her mouth dry. ‘Gauthum’ she said nervously. ‘Oh my god! Is that you Gauri? How are you? What a surprise?’ boomed the familiar voice that had been her favourite back in the day. ‘I am good. How… how are you? Where are you these days?’ said Gauri, trying to regain her composure. ‘I am fantastic man! Ma and I are in Bangalore these days! Where are you? How are your kids and your husband?’ he asked. Gauri let out a small laugh. He knew everything about her but she knew nothing about him? Her heart was fluttering in excitement. ‘They are all good! We are in Bangalore too. Listen, I have your jacket. I want to give it back to you sometime’ she said and all she heard was Gauthum laugh out for a good minute or so. ‘Are you kidding me? You still have that jacket? I totally forgot about it! Ha ha ha! This is just wow. Sure sure. When do you want to meet?’

The two decided to meet the next evening at the same Starbucks at the mall. GS said that he would pick her up, but she refused. She couldn’t risk it any further, could she? The next evening at 4:30, she sat at the same corner table with bated breath, waiting to see that man who had turned her life around in an instant. A white Zara bag with the jacket inside it, sat at her feet. Ten minutes later, he walked in and Gauri held on to her espresso cup so she wouldn’t faint again. His smile hadn’t changed, but the man was so different from the guy she knew back in college. Gauthum walked up to her and gave her a side hug. THAT was something she wasn’t ready for. Immediately, Gauri’s eyes welled up with tears and she dove under the table to reach out for the bag. Fumbling with it in her hand, she handed it over to him hurriedly and said that she had to leave. ‘The kids will be home in some time and I really must go. Lovely meeting you’ she said as he looked at her in total surprise. ‘But, G! One coffee with me’ he said as she hurriedly paid for her coffee. She was obviously shaken and he wanted to do something to calm her. Catching her by her hand, GS grabbed her back and held her in a hug. Her feet melted into a puddle and she didn’t care that probably the whole coffee shop was watching this drama. She could smell that aroma all over again and she stood there soaking it all in. Slowly she released her from the hug and gave him a weak smile. Patting him gently on the chest Gauri said ‘Bye. Take care GS’ and left the shop.

Back in her car, she sobbed hard. By the time she was home, Reshma was already there to comfort her. Sobbing harder on her friend’s shoulders, Gauri was like a heartbroken teenager. After about ten minutes, she got up, went for a bath and scrubbed herself so hard as though to ensure that no trace of that scent lingered. Tossing her clothes into the machine, she added some disinfectant and went on to make coffee. As the two ladies sat on the couch, her husband walked in. Gauri weakly smiled at Gautam and Reshma caught up with him on how work had been. ‘I got this at work today. Some internal thing I had won. See it na. I will quickly have a shower and come back’ said Gautam, thrusting a small brown package in her hand as he went into the bedroom. As Gauri began to rip the package open, a familiar scent filled the room and tears started rolling down her eyes. The brown package came apart to reveal a perfume bottle with the word ‘Boss’ written on it. Reshma understood immediately and grabbed her sobbing best friend. Some things are meant to stick with you forever after all.

 

I am writing as a part of the Write Tribe Problogger’s challenge. #WriteBravely #WriteTribeChallenge

 

Whiff of you – the meet

Read about Gauri and Gauthum here to understand the story so far.

Gauri had reached Terminal 22 ten minutes earlier than the said time. She was nervous, but she was irritated at being called to a cafe to return the jacket. It felt like GS was testing her. As she tossed the jacket into her scooter’s boot, she was hit by the scent on the jacket. ‘Control,G!’ she told herself. She was standing by her scooter when GS reached. He had this playful look on his face, but she couldn’t say if it was a teasing look or just his charm. They had hardly taken ten minutes for the exchange, but she knew immediately that this man would be of a lot more importance in her life very soon.

He had a mischievous smile when she handed the jacket over to him. ‘Thank you, Gauri’ he said, adding a moment’s pause before her name. G’s heart was racing beyond control and hadn’t she left immediately, she knew she would have fallen for him sans control. For two weeks, they met outside the café every day, just for a few minutes with very less talk between them.

It had become a ritual. She would reach five minutes before him. They would park their vehicles at the same spot every evening. After a small awkward hello, they would get into small talk and he would simultaneously turn on a playlist. Music would fill the space and after about 3 songs, she would look at her watch as though signaling that time was up. Something was brewing between them, but before it could simmer to perfection, their world had changed. GS’ mom had caught a whiff of their romance and had nipped it at the bud, even before they could declare it to each other, saving her son’s ‘image’ in public eye and GS being the Mamma’s boy that he was, diligently followed.

He walked up to Gauri one day and said ‘Dude, G! No love and all, clear? I don’t want to mess up both of careers’ he said as though repeating a rehearsed line. No, she hadn’t been in love with him for sure. But there was a connect that she couldn’t shake off. His mere presence tugged her at the navel and tossed her 10 feet in the air. ‘Bah! No way, GS!’ she told him concealing any look of disappointment in her face.

It was Reshma’s idea that she look at moving on in life after what GS had said. With a heavy heart, G had said yes and the first alliance that came across had the same name as Gauthum’s’. She thought it was a sign and said okay to him. In all the rush, she had put the jacket inside an old box and completely shut out the entire episode for good.

But it was time to return it to its rightful owner.

I am writing as a part of the Write Tribe Problogger’s challenge.

Nostalgia is a b*tch!

Gauri was certain that the salesgirl dived across the desk, to catch hold of her. It had been embarrassing, even more for the salesgirl when a 40 something woman almost stumbled backward, sending bottles of perfume samples flying all around.

Somehow, Gauri managed to find a corner table at the Starbucks on the floor above the store. Still feeling flushed, she discreetly hit herself on the back of her head, thinking how silly it had been of her to react like THAT over a perfume sample.

You see, nostalgia is a bitch! It hits you when you least expect and it hits you where it hurts the most. ‘Ma’am, do you want to try out some of our perfumes? They are on a 50% discount’ was all it took for Gauri to go reeling into memories of a concert, in an open windy field. It’s funny how certain smells remain intact in our memory, even without having experienced them often. It’s almost like you are being teleported back into time when you first experienced that scent in its entirety.

I am writing as a part of the Write Tribe Problogger’s challenge. To read the rest of the story go here 

 

Of breaking patterns and pushing boundaries

Did you know that most people have a subconscious routine while bathing? They by default start at one place and end at another EVERY SINGLE DAY without even knowing about it? Nope, I am not making it up.

Most of us have routines that have become a part of us. These routines have become such an integral part that we neither notice it nor can do without it. I have my routine – 3 glasses of coffee a day. When I don’t get that, I get restless and something feels off. Ask my friends (who have graciously let me indulge in my coffee obsession in their kitchen at odd hours). But, how hard is it to break this pattern? How hard is it to NOT do something that’s essentially you?

Had I asked myself this question on that night of September 2015, when my husband and I sat huddled looking at his phone, I wouldn’t have known the answer. It was a job offer that broke every pattern and routine that I had. Of course, it was an offer that was too exciting and meaty to say no to. I took a deep breath and told my husband ‘let’s do this’. Words that my aunt had once told me echoed in my head. She said “Keep moving, keep travelling. It gives you a certain kind of experience that nothing else can.”

23 items from Madras to Coimbatore. This was a very emotional moment for both of us.

So, we packed our bags in a matter of two weeks and moved from the city that was everything me to a place I knew nothing about. I am a true blue Madrasi. I spent 28 years of my life in Madras and it was me. The shops, the malls, the beaches, the hangouts, the heartbreaks, everything was etched like blood vein running like a map. I left it all in a jiffy and in these two years, I hardly regret the decision. It also meant leaving family and friends behind. THAT was something that I relied on like my 3 glasses of coffee. But we found the challenge of a new life more tempting than the comfort of the known one.

Surprisingly, 2 years after the move from Madras to Coimbatore, we are ready to pack our bags again. Another city and another extremely challenging role beckons us and I am sure in some corner of my heart, that I will make that home too!

The thing is, breaking patterns and routines can pump extreme amounts of adrenaline inside you. I know friends who have left the comforts of home and homeland, in search of a new and thrilling life. ‘Don’t be afraid to step out of the known’ is what I am telling myself yet another time, as I decide on new curtains, new cot and sofa layouts and ‘where do I buy groceries now’ with the better half! <3

This post is my first entry into the Write Tribe Problogger October Challenge. Let’s see how I fare 😀 #writebravely #writetribeproblogger

~The Lazy Parent

Psst! I am going to put down 30 instances (all through October) of my life in Coimbatore. There will be photographs, notes and more. Tag along for I am sure you will like it. 🙂