observations

In a minute

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The glorious setting sun cloaks the sky in stunning shades of orange, pink and blue. Though it's not yet dark, a colony of bats silently whiz through the air, preparing for their night-time adventures. The sprawling Bangalore city skyline, with its tall green trees, and even taller apartment buildings, slowly starts to light up for the night. It is a sight that echoes across all the metros of modern India. Clusters of buildings, in various shapes and sizes, interspersed with trees, adorn the horizon,  like a model replica of a building project. Standing tall at 126 meters, one particular structure that resembles New York's famed Empire State building, looms over the rest  - UB Towers, the corporate head office for the conglomerate United Breweries Group. From up on the 8th floor, of one such high-rise building, I silently observe the city, as it comes alive for the evening.  

 

In the distance, the rush hour traffic, that is now synonymous with Bangalore, slowly crawls at snail-like pace. The cacophonous sounds of horns of all different varieties fill the evening air. Though there is not an inch of gap anywhere, the shrewd auto-waalahs expertly weave their way through this chock-a-block stew of buses, trucks, cars, bikes, cycles, animals and pedestrians. Driving here is truly an art. Towards my left, a chugging train with its deafening toot slowly pulls into the local railway station. Without even waiting for the passengers on-board to exit, the new ones clamber onto the train, desperate not to miss their evening trip back home.

 

Something darts in front of my face and I step back in panic. But curiosity gets the better of me and I peek out again. A frantic pigeon zips across, zigzagging to avoid the local bird of prey - the Black Kite. Soon the kite's attention shifts to something smaller and off it goes, outstretched wings gliding through the air almost effortlessly, as it looks around for another prey.

 

Inside my apartment enclave, a yellow N.P.S school bus pulls in. A bunch of noisy school kids get off the bus, their once crisply starched and neat uniforms, now appear wrinkled and stained. “Surf Excel hai na” I muse to myself. Instead of going home, they rush over to the basketball court, where a game is already in progress. Carelessly throwing their bags into a corner, they crash the game and force themselves in. After a brief chat, the court is bustling with activity once again, as the kids run around, some more aimlessly than the others.

 

Over the sounds of bouncing balls and shoes skidding on the court, I make out traces of words - pass, throw, shoot. As I look around, I notice that the security guards are all congregated near the main gate, in preparation for the change over of their shift. They look on nonchalantly as their security manager goes through the drill. Outside, near the main road, an elderly gentleman gestures angrily at the group of stationary autos by the main gate. Though the conversation is unclear, it is quite evident that the lazy auto-waalahs must have refused to go on a trip. One of the things that still baffles me; they seem desperate to get a passenger, but refuse to take him/her to their destination.

 

Back inside the enclave, an eclectic assortment of people walk around the paved track that surrounds the apartments. Some walk briskly, determined to work up a sweat. Some others stroll leisurely, having a nice chat with their fellow walkers or just pushing toddlers in their prams. A few of them lost deep in conversation on their mobile phones, sombrely nod their heads in acceptance or disagreement with the person on the other end. In an enclosed park, the dog owners sit on the bench and drink some coffee, whilst their dogs go about doing their routine business. One of the dogs decides to chase an overly friendly neighbourhood cat; but the chase is cut short due to the sudden tug on his leash by his owner.

 

A sudden crash draws my attention back towards the main driveway. One of the kids from Block H seems to have driven his cycle straight into Manjunath, our local vegetable supplier. The guards, in their navy blue G4S uniforms, come rushing on to the scene to make sure no one was injured. One of my neighbours from Block G, who is out walking his dog Matty, the German Shepherd, walks over casually to the spot, his ears pricking up like his dog’s, in anticipation of some gossip. Since nobody is injured, every one soon disperses.

 

On the terrace of the apartment building adjacent to our enclave, a teenage girl paces up and down, reciting something off a book. A middle-aged lady battles against the evening breeze, as she tries to gather all the clothes from the washing line. On the neighbouring terrace, hidden behind a large black Sintex water tank, a couple of shabbily dressed young men share a cigarette between them and gawk at the girl. "Shameful!" I think to myself, as I glance at the time. “The Sintex is almost empty. Put on the motor” I hear someone yell in the local dialect. The gentle whining of the motor commences as I slowly shut my window.

 

 

[This post is written for the Project 365 program at We Post Daily aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. The prompt for today was "Through the window - Look out through your window for one whole minute. Write down what you observed."]

 

N.B. This has to be one of my shortest posts. That's because, there's only so much I can look at in ONE Minute. However the point of this prompt was to actually observe, and it was fun doing that. Sometimes, we just need to take some time off our busy schedules and watch life go by. Feels like bliss :)

The Parenthood game

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It is often said that the road to your parenthood becoming a fruitful reality is approximately 40 weeks long. Try as you may, you just cannot go above the nature-regulated speed limit - doesn't matter if you have a brand new Ferrari or a decade old Toyota Supra. Me, I say it's more like a board game - more often than not, you go from starting point to the winner's circle on a set path, and lady luck occasionally throws you a few lucky rolls of the dice, the outcomes of which are anybody's guess.

Though others may choose to disagree, I would broadly split out this 40 week path into 5 complex yet beautiful phases.


Phase 1: Wonderful beginnings

From a man's point of view, this stage almost always starts with either a "Yay, we're pregnant" or a "I'm pregnant with YOUR child" phrase. Since I am a staunch believer in the institution of marriage and/or any kind of serious relationship, I am going to use the former statement as the basis going forward. (Another reason is that mostly the latter statement has a 50% chance of going either ways - i.e could be good or bad news.)

Great, you're expecting! This has to be amazing news. Your partner (for this example, I am going to go ahead and assume it's a woman - to ensure biological accuracy) and you are excited beyond words, and suddenly everywhere you turn, you can't help but notice expectant couples everywhere. You personally want to shout out the news from the top of a very high building - however your sensibilities make you understand that only immediate family / friends need to know. You dote on your partner and are available at her beck and call. Their every little "ooh and aah" are a cause for concern for you. If you are a couple that enjoy the occasional drink, you voluntarily solemnly vow to take a detox till the little one(s) is/are out. This phase usually lasts till the first proper scan - say for about 12 weeks from conception, or possibly 6 weeks from when you discover you are expecting


 Phase 2: Ups & Downs

You've just accompanied your "expectant partner" for her first scan. As much as you'd hate to admit it, you would have been jittery for the past couple of days - after all, this scan is black and white proof of your impending parenthood. The scan goes well, and your excitement (or fear) is confirmed, and you've now officially got an ultrasound image of something that resembles a cross between a reasonable sized squashed coffee bean and a baby chimp. Though you are vividly aware of both the scan technician and your better half squealing in delight at the "apparent features of your baby", you probably are squinting at the screen, unable to differentiate the baby's head from its feet. Fear not - research has shown that more men struggle with inkblot tests, which would probably go some way to explain our lack of skill in this field. Having said that, more often than not, you'd tend to play along and try to imagine what the baby should look like.

Once the confirmation of the scan is done, you'd most likely be ready to let your close friends and acquaintances know about this momentous event that is now slowly taking over your life. However phase 2 is not entirely stress-free. As your baby grows, so does your partner, albeit very slowly. And invariably so does your partner's pregnancy related syndromes - Nausea, tiredness, an absolute aversion to some previously well-liked aromas etc. just to name a few. To add to your misery, your partner now starts to show signs of weight gain; Unfortunately the worst part of this, is that she now starts to look more fat than pregnant. So be prepared for a lot of "Do I look fat in this?" and plenty more "I don't fit into those jeans anymore". Be patient - she deserves to whinge. However this is where the luck of the dice starts to come into play for the first time in this board game of pregnancy. Your partner could have all, some or none of these symptoms at all. This phase also sets off a round of maternity related purchases - maternity clothes, baby toys etc. Though fear not, these are the occasional spur-of-the-moment purchases.


Phase 3: Calm before the storm

You as a couple, are now approximately 7 months into your pregnancy. More than likely, your partner has now either been set free from the vicious holds of the initial pregnancy related symptoms, or both of you have made peace with it, so much so that you've accepted it as part and parcel of this wonderful journey. By now, the signs of pregnancy are really starting to show on the both of you - Her with her cute round bump and you with those monstrous dark circles under your eyes as well as your overall unkempt dishevelled state. Personally this is one of the best stages of the pregnancy - your partner gets a lot of attention from everyone, loads of congratulatory messages and plenty of " You look so beautiful / You're glowing" messages; It's great because these feed her good ego, and hence you are invariably much more relaxed.

Through the midst of all this, you can't secretly help but wonder if you should invest in a larger king-size bed, in the hope that this might stop you from being kicked out at night. Have fun while this lasts - which is for about a week or two.


Phase 4 : " I hate you …and everything else" phase 

At approximately 8-and-odd months, starts the penultimate leg of this "lovely" journey. Be prepared to hear this phrase, at least once a day : " I hate you!". She finds it difficult to breathe, and everything that can swell, will start to swell. Maternity clothes stop fitting and she even finds it an arduous task to wear any kind of footwear that involves straps or a pair of laces. And you….you find yourself at the receiving end of every single outburst. You're torn between wanting to take care of her, and secretly wanting to stay a bit longer at work, till she possibly goes to bed. But at this stage, even a simple thing like a nap is excruciatingly difficult for her to come by. Once again, be patient - we men can whine and whinge all we want, when we are able to reciprocate with the production of life inside of us. Until then, be as loving and kind as you can be. At this point, you're very likely starting to regret the whole " I vow to detox and restrain from having any kind of alcoholic beverage" episode from Phase 1. Also get set to hear a lot of " Haven't you guys had the baby yet?" from the rest of the world. Phase 4 culminates with both of you secretly harbouring the same thoughts - " I don't care if that baby needs to be pulled out through the ears, I just wish it'd hurry up!"


Phase 5: The miracle of birth

This phase often starts off with a long resounding "aaah" from your better half, which progressively gets repeated every 10 minutes or so. So you do the best thing possible - call the Maternity suite/wing and let them know you think the bun's had enough cooking in the oven. Depending on your luck, you'd either be asked to come in straight away, or the duty nurse will insist on speaking to the mother-to-be to assess the situation. For the sake of simplicity, and sanity, let's assume that both of you have been advised to come to the labour suite. This sets the stage for "Let's wait and see.."; Your partner is now "comfortably" (yeah, right!) settled on the hospital bed, dressed in their traditional maternity gown, bed at a half-elevated position. As for you, you're just sitting around by the bed waiting for the inevitable push to come through. Apart form the occasional visits from the maternity nurse and the doctor-on-call, the both of you have some quality time to pass. Unfortunately, neither of you are in the mood to have lengthy philosophical or romantic talks. Sooner or later, the fated push will materialise, and riding on these waves of pushes and deep breaths, shall arrive the answer to the age-old travel question " Are we there yet?" -  your little bundle of joy!

Sounds simple, doesn't it ?

 

Image Courtesy : RGBstock.com/johnnyberg