Random act of kindness

I am travelling by a late night flight for an interview for tomorrow.

My journey today began with a fantastic date with my favorite chocolatier, her boyfriend and my dearest byko. I was the limelight when I was cherishing the cheesecake and treating it like an experiment πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜‚.

After dinner, byko blackmailed me sweetly saying that they won’t come to the airport if I got paan. Now, you must understand that paan is my favourite thing. I’d happily wolf down 3-4, much to the amazement of byko and chocolatier, while they struggle with the first one itself. 🀣🀣🀣😁😁😁😁

But again, I’d wolf down 3-4 only if the uncle near byko’s house made them. (yeah I can be picky like that. But hey, if you want to enjoy good things, then you must go for the best right?!)

So while walking down to the station, byko slyly reached the paan uncle’s shop before me and chocolatier, so that I don’t pay πŸ™„πŸ™„πŸ˜’πŸ˜’πŸ˜’πŸ™„πŸ™„πŸ™„.

I said 2 paans and she got 3. That’s my byko who loves me lottle more always!! 😍😍πŸ₯°πŸ₯°πŸ˜˜πŸ˜˜πŸ˜˜πŸ˜˜πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ₯°πŸ₯° (Except of course on her birthdays when I love her lottle more πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹)

I boarded the train and until my train left the platform, my darlings waited on the platform blowing kisses. Such romantic darlings I have got πŸ₯°πŸ₯°. (They would disagree with it, but hey I love them. So I can exaggerate a bit πŸ€ͺ).

Four stations after my train left, there was a man who was helping a family get into the handicapped compartment. I was observing them as that was better than listening to gossiping aunties. πŸ˜’

That family who got on – one elderly man, a woman with her baby (must be his daughter and granddaughter), and a small boy (must be his grandson).

Elderly man and daughter were blind. The baby was sleeping. The small kid was not blind, but he seemed like a slow learner.

The man who helped this familyhad a bag in his hand and was half talking-gesturing to the small boy trying to find out where they were getting down. He gestured and spoke few unconnected words to another elderly man saying what he understood of the small boy.

The family was sitting and enjoying a fruit together. I was wondering what their lives would be like on a daily basis.

My station had come, so I got off with a small prayer that the family be guided. The man who helped them also got off with his bag.

I walked ahead of him, got over the footover bridge and boarded a rickshaw.

As I sat in the rickshaw and was about to leave, the man who helped came and shouted,’Airport’. So I stopped the rickshaw and told him that I was going to airport too. I asked him to share the rickshaw with me.

He got in. I asked him which terminal. He said in broken sentences, Air India and first terminal. More than broken sentences, it was like he spoke in few disconnected words. It was not as if he didn’t know the language, but as if he was mute for a long time and was taught to speak….

When we got to the airport, he got down and was about to pay. But I paid and didn’t allow him to pay, though he insisted that he’d pay in few disconnected words.

Then he pointed to the right side of airport away from the entry for passengers and said office and then pointed to himself. Then I asked him, oh your office. He nodded in affirmative. I smiled, wished him goodnight and gave thumbs up sign.

He smiled and left.

A random act of kindness can make anyone’s day…. or night…. 😊

When no one is listening…

I just saw this video:

It was such a beautiful video that it bought tears to my eyes.

Now here’s why…

This video is precisely what the mental health practitioners do – provide a safe space to share and heal from their struggles in life.

A safe space is something which we can create for ourselves if we learn to be vulnerable, listen to emotions, acknowledge those emotions and skillfully maneuver ourselves through the journey.

Our lives are entangled with emotions, which in turn drive our actions.

But many of us are never really ‘taught’ about managing and coping with our emotions as a child, instead we are told to ‘deal with it’ somehow – as if it is an inherent skill within us πŸ˜’πŸ™„.

Unfortunately this way, we end up being in a roller coaster ride with those same emotions through our entire lives and struggle constantly.

If only each of us are taught emotional management skills from childhood, perhaps we would be better equipped to handle our struggles or create safe spaces for others?

The journey of a left out Tomato

I was picked by someone with lots of care, but I was dropped on the train floor by mistake

So I was left behind…. (but I don’t know why I was left behind, I still look fresh and plump!)

I was intended to dance with my fellow veggie friends and make yummy dishes πŸ‘…πŸ‘…πŸ‘…

I was intended to be a part of awesome cold saladsπŸ₯— which will be healthy πŸ’ͺπŸ’ͺπŸ’ͺ

I was intended to make chutneys for dosa and idlis πŸ›πŸ›πŸ›

I was intended for great things!!! πŸ˜”πŸ˜”πŸ˜”

But instead, I sit by the train window basking in the sun alone and looking out of the window and yearning to be with my family

Oh how, I wish I was not left behind….

Title credits: My favorite chocolatier

The third gift…

The second gift : https://wp.me/p1WKir-7e

Brainy after a lot of thought decided that it is best to give the book series…

Well, I am usually the creature who’ll end up doing what I wish despite whatever the previous lesson was (yes it is because of Hearty – guilty as charged πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ€£)

Which means… Even this gift I sneaked and left it on the bed for her to discover! πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜

Except, this time, she was considerate and didn’t make me run behind her. She is a darling that way 😘😘😘

She curiously saw it and was like,”another gift? Seriously byko, you must be mad and I already told you, no more gifts!”

I rolled eyes πŸ™„, stuck my tongue out πŸ˜› and said,”Blah, blah, blah, enough talk now. Open the gift.”

She said,”I want to open once we finish chores and are on bed so that I can enjoy it.”

I gave in because she was really tired that day. And once we were done and on the bed….

She slowly opened the gift, while trying to feel and guess what it could be.

When she saw it was Cassandra Clare book series, her eyes widened. She looked at me and said,”Haven’t I read the books by this author before?”

I told her,“Yes. But this is the prequel series and you haven’t read these. You will like them.”

She smiled widely saying,”You got the entire series because you know…”

I nodded smilingly 😊😊😊…

………..Fast forward to present day……….

That day, she didn’t give much of a response beyond the above response. She didn’t open the books for many days after that also. I was little worried if the gift was right one or not. I didn’t want to push her to read them (though Hearty was being an impatient creature 😌)

Then one day, she opened the first book and was casually reading. (My heart was beating rapidly in anxiety whether she’d put the put book down saying it was childish). After a while, she started to giggle while reading and then asked for a highlighter from me and highlighted few sentences. (Hearty was jumping in delight nowπŸ’ƒπŸ’ƒπŸ’ƒ)

As days passed by, she read the book almost daily before sleeping or to deal with stressful situations at office. (Brainy was like mission accomplished! πŸ€“)

Then one day she texted me saying,”Did you know Cassandra Clare is considered as the queen of young adult fiction. And I am loving it. Thank you so much!”

I sighed in relief that day 😌😌

The other day, I finally asked her what she liked about the books.

She said,”It has magic, mystery, wisdom and love. That’s all I will say. You can read the books yourself to find out more.” And she walked away to bed, to read her 2nd book of the series…

I looked at her lovingly and knew this gift will stay with her too, as the rest of them 😍😍…

Brainy was like now the final gift remains…..

The second gift…

The first gift: https://wp.me/p1WKir-7b

I was confused which one to gift as the second one… The book series or walkman cassette player (mind you, hearty was like give all the gifts… Give… Give… 😁😁😁. Brainy being brainy was the balanced one saying no hearty you cannot have her too overwhelmed πŸ™„)..

This walkman cassette player had her favourite cassette and was gift wrapped at office… (Where I got everyone awed… which secretly made me feel like a collector of rare items 😁😜😝😎)

So during the middle of her birthday week when both of us had a long day at work, I randomly decided to spring this one on her. She was doing something near the kitchen platform. So I sneakily decided to place it on the washing machine and kept her phone over it. She’d inevitably search for her phone and find it. But she, my dearest wife, had other plans!

She did search for her phone and found the gift. Though she saw the gift, she declared loudly that,”I am not going to take any gift, that’s not given to me in my hands!” I was like 😲😲😲😲, drama queen wifey πŸ˜’πŸ˜’πŸ˜’πŸ˜’πŸ˜’!!!!

Now imagine me running after her, trying to get her hands to take the gift… It felt like a farmer chasing chickens! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

There are two words that I use for her always – relentless and persistent. She made me run but eventually when we flopped on the bed, I put the gift in her hands finally and sighed in relief.

Then she was like,”why another gift, you already gave me one the other day? I feel guilty that you must have spent a lot money.” I rolled eyes πŸ™„, then frowned at her 🀨 and asked, “did you say something?”

She whimpered slowly and quietly nodded her head saying no.

I said,”Good! Now open the gift already! Or I will pinch you πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚.”

I was getting impatient with her pace of unwrapping. But I realized this is her gift and not mine 😜😜😜😜.

Finally when the wrapper was off… Her eyes widened like this 😲😲😲😲😲😲 (I was secretly enjoying that, grinning and dancing inside πŸ’ƒπŸ’ƒπŸ’ƒπŸ’ƒ). She was struggling for words and fumbling asking,”Is this what I think it is, Joey? Is it? Is it? How did you manage to get it? Where did you get it from? Oh wait there is something inside this. What is it? Which cassette is this? Where did you get the cassette from?”

Phew. All questions poured out at once like a bullet train!!! 🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣

I was like,”Wifey. One question at a time. But first, you will listen to the cassette”.

Now, I was like an expert maneuvering the operation of that walkman. πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜

I got the power bank, plugged in the wire, and connected to the walkman. She was like,”What? How does that work?” I was feeling pleased with all this excitement and awe πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜„πŸ˜„πŸ˜„πŸ˜„. (Because it is usually her doing the exciting stuff and I simply enjoying it. Now the roles reversed and I was glad to make her feel loved πŸ₯°.)

She being one fidgety creature was trying to open the case and trying all buttons at once! Restraining her and plugging in the earphones was a task. Then, waiting to see her facial expression after pressing the ‘Play’ button was a moment of anxiety for me πŸ˜₯πŸ˜₯πŸ˜₯ (what if it didn’t work or the cassette got stuck or ten thousand other things).

I was hoping to see a happy smile, but I saw a sad smile 😌. Worriedly I asked her, “What’s wrong, byko (Marathi word for wife)?”. She smiled sadly and said,”Chachi 420 is my favorite movie. You know why it is my favorite?.” I nodded my head saying no. She urged me to guess.

First time, I guessed it wrong intentionally so that she would tell me. (Yes yes, I can be a pain in the arse like that 😢) . But you see, she knows me too well 😁 and asked me to guess again. This time I said,”It is about a father who fights every obstacle to be with his daughter.”

She nodded her head slowly indicating yes and said, “I wanted my father to be like that with me. I would wait for him to take leave on my birthday so that we could spend time flying kites. He would never take leave otherwise. I wanted to spend time with him after his retirement and help him take care of his dream of mango farming. Few months before he passed away, he had just began to understand and get to know me better. But then he had to die away before all that could happen and he never got to know about us… That makes me really angry more than sad. Why did he do that? πŸ˜«πŸ˜«πŸ˜«πŸ˜«πŸ˜«πŸ˜«πŸ˜«πŸ˜«πŸ˜«πŸ˜“πŸ˜“πŸ˜“πŸ˜“πŸ˜“πŸ˜“πŸ˜“πŸ˜“”

Then she hugged me tight and cried for a long time. I just held her in my arms quietly.

After she cried to her heart’s content, I told her quietly that, I gifted her this so that she could listen to all the tapes Dad used to make her listen to while sleeping. This way she could feel Dad’s presence with her always. Now she also need not throw away the cassettes at home and can digitize them comfortably.

She hugged me quietly. I suggested that it was best that we sleep for the day. She agreed and said in a tiny child’s voice,”Thank you for this. I will never forget this.”

I smiled gently πŸ™‚, caressed her back and kissed her forehead saying,”You are always welcome, my love……”

As she slept peacefully, holding me close to her

I watched over her, while inside of me…

Hearty whispered,”Brainy, did we make her too overwhelmed? How do we decide the next gift now?”

Brainy quietly answered,”Hearty, she is a strong woman. She will be fine. Go to sleep and don’t bugger me now with more questions. We’ll figure it later”.

Hearty sleeps.

Brainy still awake and wondering which should be the next gift…

The first gift…

Part I : https://wp.me/p1WKir-70

Will she like them or will she not…

My excitement-anxiety (I wonder if there is such a word as this πŸ€”, I must ask her as she is a grammar nazi, word and analogy specialist 😏) was getting too much for me to handle!!!

So one Sunday before we were stepping out, I just decided to bombard her with the first gift. I made her sit on our favorite chairs outside and told her to close her eyes, while I quickly went and bought out the gift from red travel bag (ah, I was becoming good at this hiding stuff to surprise her 😏😎).

I came out, asked her to extend her hands out and I put the gift on her hands. (Now, I had managed to wrap this and second gift on the days when I came home early from office. I never imagined I’d plan my day just to come home to wrap the gifts! Now when I think of it, it still excites me and makes me laugh πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜„).

While she was opening the gift, I was videographing (my dictionary says this word doesn’t exist. But I am going to still use it because it sounds nice πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‚πŸ˜πŸ€£πŸ˜†) her. I could see the excitement in her eyes, as I sat near her knees. She looked like a kid and was truly happy when she was opening the gift.

I hadn’t seen her so happy and excited in a very long time. I was so overwhelmed, that I had tears in my eyes. It felt silly but I ignored those tears and was just looking at her filled with love and warmth.

When she saw the first Tinkle digest, she was like,”what how where did you get it from?”. As she went on opening, she found that there were a total of 4 books. She was speechless. I urged her that there is more. She was like,”What?!”. She dug her hand in and out came the box containing the Shikari Shambu bobblehead. She gleefully screamed (she would disagree that she did not scream but squeal maybe a little. She is stubborn that way. Don’t bother with that πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‰). So she screamed that,”Joey, where did you get this?! He is one of my favorite characters. I used to like his silliness, big moustache and foolish bravery.” I hugged her leg saying, me too πŸ˜€.

She, of course, bobbled his head and both of us squealed this time πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ€£.

Then I told her I wanted to give this because I wanted her to go back to those days when she read the books secretly between her school books and escape into that world, so that hoomans and other things were not so overbearing.

She looked at me with love, innocence and warmth and shyly kissed my cheek and said,”Thank you. This is one of the best gifts I have got.”

Then I grinned slyly and said,”Ah well, there is more to come, my lady. There is more to come.” 😈😈

She was like,”What?! No, this is more than enough.”

I told her, “You don’t get to decide, my lady. And since it is your birthday week, I will love you more – in whatever way I want. So just enjoy the experience.”

And then, I kissed her

8 years and counting… (Part I)

We don’t have an anniversary date, but it has been 8 years since we know each other…

She turned 30 last month. A milestone birthday. I wanted to make this birthday as one of the those birthdays which she’ll remember for life.

Until 2 months back, I had absolutely no idea as to what I could get her. Material things, if they are not functional, mean nothing to her. She loves experiences, memories and thoughtfulness in the gifts.

I absolutely suck at that kind of planning and that drove me nuts… because I came up with nothing. I was hyperventilating and sad. Literally.

But… Hearty was determined.

The vacation with my brother and family gave the idea for the first birthday gift

  • When I was there, I wanted to be a kid one day and read Tinkle Digest (borrowed with due permission from my niece 😁). While reading, I saw a page where Amar Chitra Katha had its own website, out of curiosity I checked the page and that’s when an idea formed in my head that I could make her birthday theme as Memories, taking her back to things she loved as a kid – Reading comic books!!!
  • So, I browsed and browsed till I found a box set of 4 Tinkle Digests and a beautiful figurine of Shikari Shambu. Actually, I was confused between Suppandi and Shikari Shambu figurines πŸ€”, but finally decided that Shikari was cooler 😎.
  • After I placed the order, I was worried because it didn’t have the typical tracking like Amazon/Flipkart or other e-commerce sites πŸ˜₯. I just got one email that my order was confirmed. I told myself, it will come. Don’t worry.
  • I actually left it at that (surprising for an OCD creature like me to not follow up constantly) and went back to my usual routine.
  • The gift had come by the time I resumed office after my vacation. I was grateful for their quick delivery.

The second birthday gift… Was chosen by pure chance

  • Still vacationing at my brother’s, I decided to go for a solo visit to IKEA. Mindlessly I browsed to just have a feel of the shop and see why all the hype. Well, it is really overhyped, unless you really find something worthwhile for your house there. At least, my curiosity was satisfied 😁
  • On my way back I wanted to stop by a place to get long pants for her. But, my brilliant Uber driver stopped the car much before as he was confused with my instructions (I am decent navigator btwπŸ˜‹). Nevertheless, thanks to him. I got the second gift for her!
  • We stopped just outside a bookstore (now you must imagine my brain jumping with joy and saying,”Bookstore…. Yay yay yay yay yay…. Books…. Books..”). So, I gave in to it. I vowed to not buy books (of course said my brain πŸ™„, but was wearing an evil grin 😈).
  • I browsed up and down but a trilogy book series caught the attention, Book series by Cassandra Clare. Now, I am an absent minded professor. The name was familiar because I knew she read the books by this author. But I didn’t know if she read this particular series πŸ˜₯ . I researched on Good Reads about these books and went back to my emails to check which books I had downloaded for her. I safely found that she has not read this and that she will enjoy this (though at some time, I felt maybe it was kiddish. But I banished that thought saying books are books!). I ensured that it was the full series, because she hates stories left half way.
  • Keeping those books aside, I checked the prices on Amazon and Flipkart simultaneously – to make sure I don’t spend too much (brain was like it is books but! πŸ™„). I also went through every nook and corner of the shop, searching for any more treasures like those books.
  • Once, I was satisfied that there was nothing more. I went for billing and was pleasantly surprised and happy that I got additional 15% discount on the books! I gave myself a pat on the back and said she will be happy and proud of me πŸ˜„

The third birthday gift… Was decided impulsively!

  • One weekend in January, we decided to go visit her mother and sister. She loves cycling (especially my cycle which was named Flying machine by yours truly πŸ˜‹πŸ˜πŸ˜. She was sad that I gave the cycle away to someone after my studies. But now she has a kick-ass folding cycle!!!). So whenever time permits and mood permits, she takes the cycle out for a long ride along with her cycling partner. She wanted to go cycling and asked me to tag along as well,to enjoy the nature. I declined stating that I needed to plan something for her birthday. She thought I was fooling and insisted that she didn’t need anything for her birthday (but yet she loves gifts πŸ™„). I said no. So, she left reluctantly but I could see that she was looking forward to cycling away peacefully.
  • Now, my panic monster set in. I said I was to plan something but in reality, I had zero ideas!!!!!! My hearty was like 😫😫😫😰😰😰😰 and πŸƒπŸƒπŸƒπŸƒ like crazy.
  • Brainy took over hearty calmly like master Shifu and said, “now now, be still. We will figure this.”
  • After few moments of zen, Brainy came up with a brainwave – collage of pictures with her grandmother – her grandmother was a woman who played a huge role in the strong values she holds dear and personality that she is. She adored and loved her with purity and innocence of a child. Ajji, as she was fondly called, was someone I respected and loved too. Ajji in her own way accepted us at the end – that gave us both solace. I wanted her to have those memories with us – right in front of us (though she has an excellent memory and remembers every detail that is important for her). So, I sat down to make the collage of that.
  • In that process, I stumbled across pictures of us from the time we met in Chennai first (Marina beach), then in Mumbai when I met her first (Kanheri caves), then when she put a ring on my finger (I am hitched and taken for life, yeah!), then the subsequent pictures of us living together in Mumbai. So, I decided to make a second collage of our time together in chronological order – a symbol of our love growing together πŸ₯°β˜ΊοΈπŸ₯°.
  • Now, I had two collages ready. Next challenge was getting them printed and framed. I sneaked out of the house saying I needed to take printout and xerox (which was partly true 😁). But actually, I frantically went searching for photo studio first as it was a Sunday. I finally found one and was told that I will be given the frames the next day by 2 pm. I bargained with him to give me little earlier as I had classes next day.
  • The constant following up finally got me the frames by 12.30 pm next day. I was at the office close to home but didn’t tell because I knew I couldn’t lie to her.
  • Having the frames in a nice box (cajoling the shop guy to get that for me somehow) and lugging it around without it being seen and hiding it away along with other gifts at place I know she wouldn’t look. It felt like I was digging up a conspiracy πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

The last and final gift was the difficult one was to choose…

  • I had always heard her tell me stories of how her dad used to make her listen to tapes and put her to sleep. She still had a bunch of them at home. She tried to digitize them but the shop keeper told that it cannot be done and we could get those songs online now. She was dejected but kept the cassettes.
  • I started my hunt on Amazon and everywhere for the right walkman cassette player. You see, these players are like out of manufacture and outdated now – in simple terms, extinct!!!! πŸ˜‘πŸ˜‘πŸ˜‘
  • I still managed to find one and ordered a walkman cassette player which could be connected to laptop and the cassettes could be digitized. The reviews were ok and not many choices were available. But I had made up my mind on getting it. I took a chance, a leap of faith that if it is meant to be, this will work.
  • As usual, the package delivered at my office. Now, I had sneaked away a couple of cassettes with her sister’s help when we were home last time (photo frame weekend). I specifically squirrelled away her favorite movie cassette (Chachi 420). So as soon as I saw the package, I wanted to test it to ensure I didn’t have a faulty one. Believe me, I was transported to my childhood on hearing the songs on the walkman cassette player. I was grinning like a Cheshire cat 😊😊😊 and prancing around happily. I am sure my colleagues thought I must be mad that day 😁😁😁.

Now, I was armed with 4 gifts – ready 1 week before the big day… My next dilemma was when to give it??????? πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€”

I had also planned to take her to Goa for this birthday. I had two reasons – (a) I had never been to Goa (selfish me 😁) and (b) I wanted this trip in some way to be path of closure for her (in a way of honoring the memories with her father 😌).

Carrying all the gifts to Goa without her noticing was going to be a task which I cannot accomplish easily. So I decided that I will try to give one gift each on alternate dates until the day we were leave for Goa… (Believe me, I wanted to give all at one time because I was that excited. But I decided that I must give some element of surprise too, however much I may suck at it πŸ€ͺ)

I was excited, nervous, happy and anxious (all at the same time!) about what would her reactions be to the gifts.

Will she like them or will she not…………