Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Craft Craze

Ok people. It is official, I have completely lost it. The senility has set in.

Most of our festivals are about food, aren't they? This Diwali was different. The sweets poured in as usual. Strangely, I was not one bit longing to eat the sweets. I was actually salivating looking at the pretty boxes they came in!

My dad ruefully shakes his head for I have turned his study into a dump yard of sorts. I have stashed all the spoils of my raids there. Right now, my art supplies bag is stuffed with loads of these cardboard boxes, in all shapes, sizes and colours. Sunmaid raisins, Shree Mithai boxes, those pretty ones that the dry fruits come in, a blackberry phone cover, a flipkart casing that I use as a base for all my cutting / sewing and even a really pretty looking wedding invite that I will use for something funky! I have rolls of coloured paper – the whole range – glass, wax, chart, construction, waterman, origami, quilling & velvet. Phew! To add to this, I have ribbons, thread, foam, felt, paints, crayons, glitter, glue, stickers, paper plates, my sketch book and an epic one kilo of poly fill that I ordered from a nearby mattress store (much to the amusement of the owner!) Right now I am in the process of building up my inventory with fabric - old dresses, ethnic prints & decent sized scrap.

My mother opened a pack of oatmeal cookies, and my ears stood up like a dog’s, hearing the crackle of that sturdy paperboard. My mother looked at me with an expression that I would describe as horror. She immediately crushed it and put it in the dustbin with a firm ultimatum to me to use up all the boxes that I had already hoarded! Much to the chagrin of my mother, I once considered washing and storing a tin can that had gulab jamuns and rasgullas!!!

As a kid, I used to love recycling stuff and turn it into something artsy. Matchboxes would become little houses, After Eight chocolate covers used to become dresses for stick dolls, calendar boards would become frames for my paintings, colourful sides of magazines would find their way into collages, old plastic / tin cans would be converted to cute piggy banks or art supplies holders. Thanks to my primary school days, I also got hooked on to sewing at a young age. Embroidered hand towels, pretty pillow cases with lace, tiny frocks; we still use some of the stuff I made. Over the years, they have gone from hand towel to kitchen rag, but the point is, we still use it.

These craft-y fetishes got lost somewhere in the humdrum of everyday life as I grew up. I was at crossroads after school, when I got an admit into a visual communications course at a top arts college in the city. Quite cinematically, the butterfly flapped its wings somewhere, and I also got an engineering admit into a top college just as my dad drew a DD for the viscomm course. Viscomm was not yet an in-thing at that time, I think that was the introductory batch. So with liberal advice from all quarters, I decided to go down the time tested engineering route.

I have no complaints and regrets with the way my life has panned out – I’m in a happy place right now. If I had to relive my life, I would probably make exactly the same choices I have made thus far, but I like to drift off into dreamland and imagine how different my life would have been had I taken up the viscomm course.

Anyway, the craft craze is back and how! I am currently OD-ing on making toys for baby A and have been going pin-crazy on Pinterest. Much to the relief of my entire family, I have been slowly but steadily turning all the stuff from my arsenal into playthings. Of course, the next worry is about where to store this growing pile of toys, but that will be addressed once it reaches critical mass! I’m off now to snoop around Pinterest for all the awesome things that people around the world make and plan my next project. Busy days these are… 

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Cleaning out my e-closet

I got my first cell phone when I was in the third year of my engineering. My friends from then know how I never bothered myself with the hassles of buying a new phone as long as I was able to make and receive calls and text messages. I never saw much use for the phone above that. They still taunt me about how I used that small, little Nokia phone till it cried out loud to have a peaceful death.

I managed to change with time, never being able to keep at pace with it though. As a good friend of mine says, I would always have a phone that would be outdated by a couple of models. My dad was and still is more phone savvy than me. Anyway, I slowly graduated to an android touch phone after terrible withdrawal symptoms from my good old Nokia, which had a real keypad. (Which I inherited from my dad, btw!)

So, I grudgingly upgraded my connection to include a data plan. And that was when it began - the addiction. Like all other vices, this began slow. I would use it to check FB now and then, I had a twitter account, but hardly tweeted. I was never active on these forums, they were basically snoop tools. Just to check who is doing what, who got married, who had kids, who travelled where, who got stuck in traffic and when yadda yadda…

One day I installed the google search widget on my homescreen. And there has been no turning back.

When I was working, it felt nice to be on top of things and to stay connected. There was this obsession to “know” things. Better be informed than sorry was my policy. It felt powerful to know so much, so easily. More than anything else, it was a great way to keep myself occupied. I used to travel hell of a lot for work at one point in time. My husband and I tried to sync our travel plans so that we could get back home from the airport together. I accumulated enough miles to fund some short trips! Anyway, this was a great way to keep myself occupied while I stood in those long queues and endless waits to board flights.

Like all other addictions, when this took over my personal time and space, I could not do anything about it.  

For instance, if I visited a doctor who prescribed a tablet that I hadn't had before, I would google it. And by google, I don’t mean superficial stuff. I am talking about proper, in depth research. Chemical composition, dosage, side effects, different views from different medical bodies etc. I did not have to make an effort to do all this, it came to me naturally.  

I enjoyed my pregnancy thoroughly, barring one scan and one blood test report, where terms like placenta previa, pelviecatsis, fetal macrosomia, low AFI etc. were thrown at me. After being told such stuff, I felt really claustrophobic without knowing what these meant. So google! I clicked one link after another and went into this spiral of research and worry, albeit only for a day. Thankfully, I had angels in my mother, husband and friends who would speak to me and allay all my fears.

Then I graduated to motherhood. Like all other new mommies, I had no clue what happened in the first few weeks after my delivery. Then it hit me, all over again. This time around, it was a craving to know whether I am doing it right. As a mother, you get paranoid about the tiniest little things.  So when my daughter started tugging uncontrollably at her ears, I googled it. After going through multiple forums, I refined my search string to “3 month old infant tugging at ear + chewing hand”. A little more research, and a little more refinement. Till I read everything that the internet had to say about it. I scoured the internet dry for articles on motherhood and parenting till the point of obnoxiouness. (Some of them have also been shared on FB, guilty as charged J )

And then, one day, I got so sick of it. Just plain sick of all the information overload and I shut down. All this after just about a week or so of indulgence! I reached a point where I did not want to know anything more and I cared two hoots about whether I was doing it right.

So I cleaned out my e-closet. I detoxed – I unliked, unsubscribed, turned off notifications and unfollowed unnecessary management mailers, job updates, baby and parenting websites. My e-life looks a lot cleaner now. That little search bar is worse than a black hole at times. And social media only sucks you in faster. The thing that this form of addiction kills apart from peace of mind is TRUST. It kills the trust you have in human beings. Be it a doctor, a family member or for that matter yourself.

Have you watched Kung-Fu Panda? The time when Po gets that moment of clarity and sense of balance? I think it is safe to say that I am somewhere near that zone now. I have learned the hard way when to use the internet and when to rely on my instincts. It took a great level of self restraint, but I have got the hang of it now. It just needed some amount of conviction to step out of all the frenzy. Now, the view from the slow lane is beautiful. And I suddenly have so much more time for everyday things and my life doesn’t seem like one mad rush anymore. You know how the grandmothers say that motherhood will come naturally? I never believed it earlier, but now I must say - it does. I don’t know how to explain it. Maybe it is the magic of the slow lane.

More often than not, the internet and all the other wonderful things associated with it have made me feel good, positive and reassured. Yes, it has improved my world view of things, I read a lot more, I have a new found love in Pinterest, I watsapp other friend mommies and it really is comforting to know that there are other people who experience things as me. I order books and stay connected with friends and family who live far away. You are reading this blog because technology has made it possible.

I feel like a hypocrite for saying this, but on the flipside, there have been a couple of times this internet spree has made me feel tired and rather miserable. And I will forever remember this lesson learnt. My mother, however, thinks I still spend too much time in front of the computer. I am working on it Amma J

Friday, 1 November 2013

The Grip

Has your loved one ever held your hand tight? I mean, like, very tight? Not the romantic tight, but the fear-of-letting-you-loose tight. Well, my husband is an expert at it.

I still remember the first time it happened with K.  We were enjoying a lovely Parisian evening, strolling down Champs Elysees, hand in hand, reminiscing the one year of our married lives that had gone by. I glanced across the road and my eyes fell on two huge, shiny golden letters atop a massive building, intertwined with each other, just like our hands – LV.

He followed my gaze and in what seemed to be a natural reflex, gripped my hand tight. After a few tense, silent moments, I said, “You should know me better than that. I would never spend my life savings on a silly brown bag, with some dead Frenchman’s initials embossed on some poor dead animal’s skin.” The grip eased, heart beats returned to normal, but he still held my hand. As a precautionary measure, I was not allowed to cross the road to even look at the Louis Vuitton showroom. All I could manage to negotiate was a photo from across the street.

As time went by, K learned that I am not the quintessential woman shopper. He is fairly confident that I will not spend irrationally on high value luxury goods / accessories, and by virtue of my abstinence, I do manage to make him spend on the occasional puppy-dog-eyed-sympathy goodie. He takes the word precaution very seriously though. “The Grip” is still very much a part of our lives, every time I walk past shoes and bags.

But all of us have our weaknesses, don’t we? There is this certain thing that I go absolutely ballistic and berserk about. It gives me such a high, I go weak in my knees and I almost pass out with all the adrenalin that rushes through my body. I run from counter to counter like some deranged woman, and my eyes almost pop out with all the darting around. It is… wait for it…. Stationery. Yes – notebooks, pens, paints, brushes, canvass, handmade paper, colours, glitter and all that jazz. So every time I walk into Landmark or even the corner road stationery shop / fancy store, “The Grip” returns, and how! I have never taken him to Hindustan Traders (more on that in a separate post), lest I would probably lose functionality of my hands with his iron hold!

So I have a pile of good looking notebooks, pens et al in my house, of all shapes and sizes and in all colours. K complains about how I never use them, but it breaks my heart to write on something so pretty. He thinks I am crazy, so after much taunting and prodding, I have started putting them to use. One is my contacts book (most contacts are on my phone), another one is my recipe book (not that I cook a huge variety, coz K is the most boring “eater” I have known), another one is my accounts book (you can only imagine how regularly I update that!), another one is my things to do book (I also have Workflowy on my phone ;) and another one is my travelogue (the only book that has considerable writing in it!)

The good part is, K has his weakness too – electronics. By electronics, I mean the whole range. Be it something as small as a circuit board and couple of diodes, or something fancy like a big fat camera or a swanky TV. He hyperventilates when he goes to Ritchie street or Croma or even Reliance Digital for heaven’s sake! So I return the favour by holding his hand tight. Of course, my hands are way too tiny compared to his, so I put my nails to good use. 

K has turned our house into some kind of an electronics lab. As it is, we live in a pigeon hole in Maximum City. (I am told it is quite luxurious by local standards, but it will never compare to the heavenly abodes of Singaara Chennai). To add to it, we have wires running across the living room, lights flickering from black boxes littered around the place. It makes my house look like a space ship in the middle of the night. To add to the sci-fi effect, he constantly embarks on these projects, where he keeps punching in some code or the other – he is making a media server out of our computer or he is turning a mobile phone into a baby monitor amongst other things. Well, I am happy he is putting his engineering degree to good use!

So when he complains about my stationery filling up our tables, I simply glance at all the wires and boxes littered on top of the shoe rack!

It is a good thing that both of us have our weaknesses. We have mutually agreed to have a live and let live policy. We do not accompany each other to our shopping Mecca’s. That way, I can wallow around in Hindustan Traders and the likes without him breathing down my neck and he can bask in the electronics glory in Ritchie Street without me tugging at his shirt every two minutes.

There is so much more to write about our shopping patterns, but more on that later. For now, all I want to tell K is – This is what I did last week :D