The little things that make you smile, even when the big things go awry

When your 4-year-old wakes up early, to ensure you don’t forget her ‘huggy-kissy’… then screams ‘I love you so much’; and when you ask her to be quiet as the rest are asleep, she smiles: “But, this is love. Not tubbling (troubling).”

When your firstborn offers to put the little one to sleep, only because she can then cuddle up for some exclusive time with her amma, and not have to worry about the little pest.

When the little one waits hungrily and patiently for you to get ready, so you don’t have a lonely breakfast. And then proceeds to feed you a piece of her dosai, because the bread on your plate is not ‘hellty’.

When the 11-year-old cups your face and stares into your kajal-ed eyes and says: “You look so beautiful amma.”

When you wake up every single morning to a message from a special friend.

When an unplanned ice-cream outing earns you so many hugs and thank-yous, you can’t help but feel a little guilty.

When a friend calls and scolds you harshly for missing your mammo appointment, the concern and worry in her voice a warm hug that soothes the fear deep inside.

When you leave home late evening with a friend, and just as you start to drive, you receive a text from your pre-teen.

When you are never allowed to forget how you were at 18, because the madness from then still continues with the girls who can make you laugh with the most random of memories.

When the little one enfolds her akka (back from a weekend away) in a bear hug and slobbers her with kisses, and says: “I missed you so much akka. Don’t leave me again.” And in that moment, akka chooses to forget the routine torments inflicted on her, and assures her she won’t.

When you’re woken up gently, close to noon, on a Friday morning… tiny lips on your cheeks, another pair of hands hugging you, and a grinning-unshaved-face staring at you, calling you to have the omelette he has made.

When a stubbly cheek is offered to three girls in a line, and then in turn presses his lips on the little, not-so-little, and big faces before setting off for his work day, as we wind up ours.

… the little things.

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Mazhai, Baarish, La Pluie, Al Ghayth, RAIN

A pic my nephew GK clicked... cloudy skies, the beach, a hint of rain, sun and all things typically Madras.

Read this post and got all nostalgic about the rain.

The thing is, Madras rains are more a nuisance than anything else.

From what I remember, with just a drizzle the drain pipes broke and the roads choked. When the real deal — blinding rain — set in, diseases abounded; water seeped through the walls; low-lying areas became inaccessible in anything but parisals and makeshift boats; electricity and telephone lines went bust; roads looked like the lunar surface and everyone cursed the corporation and politicians. Even after particularly wet years, where the Red Hills reservoir filled to the brim and over, Madras’s infamous water scarcity never seemed to resolve.

And yet, how much we awaited the rains. How we loved it. Sheets of water washing away the city’s trademark sweat and humidity.

My mind is a whirl of RAIN images, shoo-ing away sleep, and drawing me out of bed to post right away. There are unpleasant memories too, but in the spirit of the post I tag, I will stick mainly to the wonderful ones.

  • Deepavalli. It always rained around Deepavalli. And my resourceful sister, C, would tie the stringed firecrackers to a long stick, dangle it out of the window and put up a show for us.
  • My beautiful, sprawling Convent. We could smell the rain, even before the first drop hit the playground mud.
  • Bajjis and masala tea. Hurricane lamps and candles at the ready.
  • Black umbrellas, repaired many times over. And those flowered, imported ones in the ’90s.
  • Huddling under a cheap plastic raincoat, while staring enviously at those with Duckback overcoats.
  • Ceiling fans regulated at 3 for a change, instead of the max.
  • Parisals. A famous film director’s office used to be in the colony, and one of these was left behind from a film set. Every year, it was taken out to cart people from one end of the colony to the other.
  • Taking long walks up and down the Ooty hillsides with my cousin M. Light drizzle and school girl confidences. Crushes and gossip.
  • My first fall from the Kinetic Honda, while trying to avoid a worn-out, rainwater-filled part of the road.
  • Getting caught on Mount Road on the way to work at Indian Express. My red & green bandini dupatta bought at Alsa Mall, staining and ruining my brand new white chikan-work salwar suit.
  • My first kiss. On Elliot’s Beach, Besant Nagar, after the evening shift, late one rainy night (how dramatic! but true, nonetheless).
  • Beat visits to the Communicable Diseases Hospital in North Madras, to check on Cholera deaths. Then to be pleasantly surprised by how well the hospital was maintained.
  • Sitting on the rocks dotting the Park Guest House beach (owned by the Aurobindo Ashram) in Pondicherry. Dripping wet, and high on LOVE, LUST, VODKA and FORBIDDEN ADVENTURES…
  • Thunderstorms on the eve of my wedding. Then rains during the reception, which did nothing to reduce the huge numbers of people that flocked to the hall (my folks and I had an understanding – the wedding ceremony would be small, simple and at home; the reception would be on their terms).
  • Cycling down the Law College road in Pune, undecided on whether to go back to the Film Institute hostel or join a bunch of my classmates on a very naughty and very interesting evening out. Finally choosing to cycle in the heavy rains towards the University Circle. Wet, confused, tired and stuffing my face with spicy vada pav from the shacks there.
  • My first rains in Doha, within weeks of arriving here. Sitting alone and lonely in my ‘first home’, peering out of the window, missing Madras… And then running to the terrace to get drenched and feel better – to feel ‘at home’.
  • Driving up to the Table Mountain in Cape Town, the rain beating a steady rhythm on the windshield. Then after the nth turn running into a rainbow view. What a sight!
  • Waking up in the middle of the night to feed O (days old), and gazing longingly out of the verandah door, postnatal restrictions holding me back from running out into the rain.
  • Taking a 1-year-old O out to the balcony in Doha to get wet. She looked so puzzled. Again when she was 3, dragged her out of school, to get wet. What joy! So worth skipping school.
  • My first hailstorm, that too in Doha, 2 years ago!
  • Watching an amazing Asian Games opening ceremony, in 2006. Unprecedented and untimely rains notwithstanding, it was an awesome show. Even more pleasant was the memory that I sat in the sheltered VIP arena (perks of being a journo) while my boss and his boss were getting wet in the stand opposite! Cheap thrills…
  • In 2008, driving to the Marina late in the night with my sisters and their kids and witnessing a mesmerising lightning show, far into the ocean. Fierce, angry and powerful, the dark sky was repeatedly ripped apart. It was an electrifying and deeply disturbing scene… what was brewing that far out there?

… I better plug my memory for now. What’s your favourite rain recall?