Saturday, February 08, 2014

A day transformed.

     It was a dampened Saturday. We woke up and then were stuck indoors watching the time pass by, through the back yard window. We were determined to change the mood of the day and ventured to step out and have lunch at a local Indian restaurant. The skies were gloomy, there was an irritating drizzle which was neither here nor there. The roads had puddles of water and the moisture in the air made the hair very frizzy. As we entered the place, we noticed that it was packed to the brim, leaving one small table, as if it were being saved for us. The most conspicuous seating was in the center of the cramped place with three 4 seat tables joined together. It was occupied by individuals that looked so amazingly harmonious. They were dressed in shades of sage green and steel grey camouflage uniforms,  navy green knee high boots and some of them were elaborately decorated with badges of honor. Each of then sported a replica of stars and stripes on their right shoulders. "The United States Army" the lettering under the flags read.  Amid the group of eight people was a woman with crowfeet accenting her grey eyes and a pile of strikingly platinum blonde hair piled up on the nape of her neck in an unkempt bun. They were placed at a very observable distance from where I sat - this small flock of soldiers for the US army. They were all lost in animated conversation which was very soft and inaudible even in that cramped place. I caught glimpses of bright smiles, nodding heads and cute gesticulations while trying very hard to not be an obnoxious onlooker. Soon I realized, I started looking through them while my mind buzzed in familiar territory of daily ponders.
     These men and the lady, all sitting amid us right now, must have devoted hours of their life, amid peril and jeopardy protecting our nation while their mothers and spouses, siblings and children waited for them with baited breath and daily prayers in hopes to see them in a single piece one day. These soldiers must have been deployed to dangerous places, seen their peers get badly injured or dead, guarding the freedom all of us take for granted. It is to these seldom celebrated men and women of great character and sense of duty that we owe our order and peace in lives. I felt a rush of adrenaline to my brain as I tried to visualize their typical day at work. Soon, I was brought back to reality when one of those soldiers, now standing near the counter to pay his bill waved and mouthed a 'thank you' towards where we were sitting. I wanted to look beyond me but realized that I was so close to the wall that I could bump my nose into it if I cranked my neck any further to look behind me. Another solider joined him, with his hand on his heart, bowing in our direction, and the third one walked to our table, shook hands with the better, significant, other half (There I got all of it in one phrase) and said "Thank you so much, but why would you do that?" - The spouse gave the characteristic shy smile and said "To thank you for serving our country" - Soon the whole group huddled around us. There were bright smiles flashed back and forth and the army of gorgeous people walked away with a spring in their step.

     I sat there, almost frozen, and then something inside me broke into the warmest of smiles that surfaced to my face, which transformed the gloom outside into an unexplainable ecstasy. This moment probably defines the two sides of our marriage - the dreamer and the doer. The next time I open my mouth to complain that the significant other doesn't use words like I do - I should remember that there are many things in the world that speak louder:-)

Thursday, February 06, 2014

This n that!


          As a child, I was a huge dreamer and a very detailed one at that! Perhaps, a little unsettled and fickle too..well, actually a lot unsettled and fickle. All these qualities gave me multiple and mysterious auras. I had people around me, including family members, uncles and aunts, sort me into assorted stereotypes. In one phase I was an 'all wrapped in myself' child. At an other, I was a teenager in a fantasy land. Into my late teens, I was an 'unrealistic escapist'. I talked very less back then. I never made it a point to challenge any of these slottings. My words were confined to my head, and it kept buzzing with loads of them, all the time. I was very present in my world, I just didn't make it a point to hype that presence. And that led to a lot of liberal branding that was stamped onto me. I knew very young and ahead of my times that I was not looking for 'approval'! My ambitions were conspicuously absent. My dreams were obnoxiously prominent. I was very laid back.."What is the difference between laid back and lazy?" Someone asked me. I found answers in my own head. Laid back was a lack of rush, a lack of definite dreams and a lack of conscious drive to achieve them. Lazy was a lack of intent to act, lack of activity, so to my own head though, mind you :-) I was never lazy. Seldom physically, never mentally! But my ambitions were always very trivial. Mockingly trivial in the present context.

           I find joy in little things. My sense of accomplishment blossoms when I cook a hearty meal, take an extra effort to teach a child how to draw the star of David with its six points aligned in an eye pleasing manner or sort my  thoughts out and get my own approval. Cause as much I am 'Oh so easy to please' I find me looking down at myself all the time. Lately, I had realized that being ambitious has many facets to it, and doing the trivial things is actually the tough thing. 
           As a home maker with a part time pastime ( I cannot call it profession, the teaching I do at home) I find some time to volunteer at my kid's school. My voluntary work dated back to when I was much younger without the kid. I went, got my TB test and finger prints cleared to teach math ( in our neighborhood school) to kids that  were academically challenged. I was stuck with ill behaving, temperamental preteens and no pay whatsoever. I kept at it and one day, The toughest of the boys actually confessed that he 'misses' me when I take a break. Just recently, I took up the overly ambitious task of working with a mixed media project in my kid's classroom. I go in there to teach art every week. This particular one was over the top, done on a 16x24 construction paper. It involved 26 unruly, emotionally unstable seven year olds, colored paper, scissors, crayons, sketch pens, glitter, glue sticks, cotton balls, foam sheets, paint and pointillism. I dealt with frustration, pouting, tears, whining, pleading and a lot of 'what was I thinking' thoughts crossing my mind. Five hours of hard work, and the masterpieces were put up on the wall to marvel at. I was rewarded with puny hi fives, hugs and smiles. No paycheck, no certificates of excellence. I walked away with a dull headache, a cranked neck and a grin pasted from ear to ear..I am still the same all these years, still slotted, still laid back..but I suddenly realized that I am possibly the most ambitious person I'd ever met, and thankfully, I don't need an approval stamped on it ;-)