Thursday, March 22, 2018

The ice-cream wala who lost his heart

Before Aslam left to work in the concrete jungle of Dubai, he was a successful ice-cream wala. He knew the details of each house in his area. The large white house on the corner plot in Block 7 had toddlers so he went there in the mornings. The house with the dogs in Block 8 had school going children so afternoons worked best. His favourite house, though, was the one with the large mango tree where two little boys lived with their grandmother. As soon as he passed by, his music blaring loudly, he'd hear them run out on the terrace screaming, 'Ice-cream Uncle, please stop! Dadi is coming.' The boys were his best customers but also the only ones who hung around his cart talking to him, showing him their toys and even giving him a sticker occasionally for his cart. Aslam loved their innocence and warmth but he also knew the bitter reality. In a couple of years the boys won't even come down and only a servant will come after him to buy ice-cream for them. When that day came, and it did, he gave the orange ice-lollies to the servant, looked lovingly at the house one last time and handed in his cart in the evening.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

The woman who lost herself in a list

She revised the list in her first year of marriage, ten years back. Over time the list became her rock. Whenever she was in doubt, she read it and felt calm. It was in her handbag, always near her, always accessible. It didn't matter that everything on the list remained unfulfilled. Seeing it all written in her neat handwriting made it seem do-able every time. But with each passing year she felt a distance growing between herself and the person who had made the list. Everyday life was so set in a routine that she didn't have the time or courage to follow it. She had no time. She had no courage. She just had a list. 


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The 100 words story project

The title says it all. Today I'm starting this new project on the blog where I'll write and post a 100 word story everyday. Yes, it is a very ambitious goal considering how busy the twins keep me but I need to get back to words and writing. I'll try and keep it to a 100 words but I promise it won't exceed 150 words. 

100 words. Everyday. Yikes! 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

reading nooks are over-rated

If you meet someone who sings praises of his/her 'reading spot/nook', beware! The reading nook is just a marketing gimmick. It may not appear to be so but eventually all roads lead to consumerism and our insatiable appetite to buy. This advocate of the reading nook (or RN) will exclaim in delight how they've managed to read so much more because they now have a dedicated place to read. You need the right vibe around you while reading, they'll lecture, and no ordinary corner of the house will suffice. The chair needs to be right, with a side table of the correct height and width to accommodate both your book and cup of tea. If you show curiosity about the tea they'll go into another tirade of how the whole flavour of the book changes when reading it is accompanied by a steaming cup of tea or coffee, whatever your preference. Besides the chair and table, there has to be a lamp and foot stool for night time reading. They'll also add that you must check out reading nooks on Instagram or Pinterest for inspiration. The whole conversation will end with them showing you the pictures of their nook. 

Of course, when you'll ask them the number of books they managed to read while comfortably ensconced in their nook, they'll probably mumble something incoherently or state a single digit number or tell you they were so busy setting up their nook and putting it up on social media that there was no time to read. 

Don't fall in the nook trap. Read anywhere. In the car, in the toilet, in the bedroom, in the living room, on your balcony (with or without a cup of tea), in hospital waiting rooms, at the  airport (I once read a book while standing in line for an eye scan in Dubai). Read in the park or at the beach. Carry a slim book (or a heavy one depending on the size of your bag) on you or your Kindle and just take it out when and where you get time. 

Books are cool. Read them. 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The belated 2018 post

I have notebooks in which I scribble all the time. I've had notebooks all my life but most of them, fortunately, I destroyed. Those that have survived are of various sizes, shapes and thickness. Why I'm talking about notebooks is because a dear friend of mine is on a decluttering mission these days and her efforts made me think of the various clutters in my life. Which aren't many, mind you, because I constantly give/throw away stuff. Except for notebooks. And here I'm not just talking about the ones which have the secrets of my life inscribed in them. I am referring to the ones which have such mundane entries like travel lists, to-do lists, random doodles made while talking on the phone, minutes of meetings etc - you get the gist but I feel that these notebooks or notepads are also important. Why? I don't know. I'm not someone whose papers people are going to go through diligently after I die. I highly doubt the twins will be interested in them. Unless one of them becomes an anthropologist and wants to know how life for an ordinary woman was in 'those' days.

Being ordinary is not that bad but it's a label I'll like to change sooner or later. More sooner than later. I don't want to become an Instagram sensation, oh no! It's more a lofty goal of contributing to the society in some way. I think the only way I ever did that was when I taught MBA/BBA students but that too is such a distant memory now that it feels like it never happened. 

What else feels like a distant memory is 2017. N and Z are already six months old. Where did the time fly? It seems like only yesterday when I was tossing and turning in the hospital bed after my surgery and thinking to myself, this too shall pass. Well, it passed and is passing mighty quickly. I had a friend get me Matt Haig's new book, How to Stop Time. She, being a non-fiction reader, took the title a little too literally and boy, was she in for a surprise when she sat down with the book on the plane. Time does stop  - it's just that we're in so much of a hurry to reach our next appointment, or get done with some routine task that we will it forward. Always looking at our wrist watches or now, at our mobile phones.

So how to stop time? I find reading a good book is a great way to stop time. Watching a great movie is another way. Reading to your kids also works as a time stopping device. Keeping the mobile phone away from you is a super way of making sure time stops. It is also very detoxing. I've been forced to not keep the phone on me because of N and Z and I find it extremely refreshing. Try it this year. Put some physical distance between you and your phone. Have a no-phone policy during meal times, even if you're eating alone. Above all, please delete the Facebook app. 

I've started this year with no resolutions. Maybe if I have no agenda I might just end up clearing up the clutter that previous unfulfilled resolutions have created.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Back on the beanbag

I'm back. And though not with much of a bang but back, nonetheless. This hiatus in writing was due to two reasons. I gave birth to two beautiful babies in July this year (thus, two reasons!) and they have, as babies do, changed my life and turned it upside down. 

N and Z are lovely babies, especially when asleep. They bring the house down when they're both in a cranky mood together which is, thankfully, very seldom. I won't say that each day is full of surprises and discoveries as all these motherhood magazines and apps claim, but almost every other day I learn something new about them. Has having them changed me? Hell, yes! I can't fit into a lot of my clothes without spandex is the one major change! They have given me a crash course in time management though. It's amazing how seemingly ordinary things like reading, taking a bath, and even watching television are herculean tasks now. 4 plus hours of sleep in one go at night is a super luxury! 

Getting time to write a post here and re-do the blog's look is also a super luxury. So here I am. Back on the beanbag. And from now onwards, I'm not alone here! 

The new look of beanbagtales. Z (top left) and N (top right)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Perfect Fairy tale

"You are a born storyteller," said the old lady. "You had the sense to see you were caught in a story, and the sense to see that you could change it to another one. And the special wisdom to recognize that  you are under a curse - which is also a blessing - which makes the story more interesting to you than the things that make it up. There are young women who would never have listened to the creatures' tales about the Woodman, but insisted on finding out for themselves. And maybe they would have been wise and maybe they would have been foolish: that is their story. But you listened to the Cockroach and stepped aside and came here, where we collect stories and spin stories and mend what we can and investigate what we can't and live quietly without striving to change the world. We have no story of our own here, we are free, as old women are free, who don't have to worry about princes or kingdoms, but dance alone and take an interest in the creatures."

(The Djinn in The Nightingale's Eye - A.S.Byatt)