Experiencing a myriad of emotions everyday, how often do you feel grateful?
This post contain Affiliate Links. The opinions, thoughts and frustrations are of the author alone.
It’s that time of year again. No, not the time for turkey or Christmas trees as much as I love that time of the year as well. It is the time for Diwali! Time for joy abound. Delicacies sweet and sour. Colorful dresses. Family Traditions and Time With Friends.
But with all it’s joys, it is in truth also that time of the year when –
My Family Gets Nervous As I Start Spring Cleaning
Diwali means getting the house in pristine condition. Before Holi and before Diwali are two times when I ruthlessly de-clutter and spare no object the broom. Of course during this course many much needed but never used objects get tossed or donated. When I start the battle against clutter, the banshee within me rears her head in exhaustion and my family dreads this phase.
Thanks to my husband, I know better than to do it all in one day or week even. So now I prep for this slowly and steadily and remember to breathe, take breaks and know it’s not the end all!
The Festive Decoration Plays Hide and Seek.
We love our Deepavali decor and can’t wait to put it around the house for that warm festive feeling. Except they decide to play hide and seek with me. Every year I can swear I know where I had put them last year but yet again, I have to go on a treasure hunt to find them.
Last year, I wrote the location in my phone. Easy peasy.
The Tangled Lights Create Havoc
The tangled Diwali/Christmas lights have to untangled. Sigh! My husband dreads finding those little bulbs that come what may will not light up.
We wrap them around a cardboard cut out and keep a lot of little extra bulbs handy. But this year for Diwali, I’m going to surprise my husband with a light organizer ( yes, it’s a thing ! ) that’s pretty cool.
Rangolis Continue To Be My Nemesis
Who doesn’t love beautiful Rangoli designs to adorn their doorway. But if you are anything like me, and totally uncoordinated when it comes to making intricate designs, you can feel my frustration.
Thank God for Stencils and Sidewalk chalk. Because, why not ?!
I Fret About What to Wear
What do I wear? I don’t get to go to India very often. With my family in Kuwait and air fare being sky high for God knows what reason, it is not easy for me to stay totally updated with fashion trends. Come festive season, I get nerves thinking of what I will wear. Specially when I hear of all the beautiful new fashion that’s come in traditional wear from friends.
Luckily, I don’t worry about being “trendy” for more than a few minutes. I wrap myself into the gorgeous saris I have and have blast enjoying the festivities. I even make up my own trend by going Indo-western, that is mixing western wear with Indian accessories.
The Smoke Detectors Cry
My smoke detectors wail in agony at the Diyas that I make on Dhanteras smoke up the home. It takes me a hour and half to make those beautiful diyas from flour and the detector rejects them in 10 mins.
To that end, this year I bought prelit candles that are just awesome. These are what I will use along with my precious home made diyas. Take that you, smoke detectors you!
We Miss Celebrating With Crackers
It’s sad every year when the HOA sends a circular to not light up any sparklers or firecrackers of any kind because it’s forbidden by our county. I never had the pleasure of bursting crackers when I was in Kuwait so I don’t miss it much but from having lived in India for a couple of years I know how much fun they are to rejoice with. I so wish my kids could have that joy.
So what we do instead?
- We collect dry leaves, twigs etc and use these to create a bonfire in your back yard.
- Fill up balloons with glitter or pieces of colored paper. Burst these in the evening for a vibrant ambiance.
- Kids could even blow up paper bags and burst giving you the cheerful sound of crackers.
- Did I mention I make Diyas out of wheat flour? The kids have a blast making them.
The Kids Wonder Yet Again Why We Celebrate Diwali
When I was young I did not understand and even negated the beauty of the mythology of Ramayan. I could not find respect in my heart for a avataar of God who would exile his wife for no fault of her own. But now, over the years I have understood that it is not just a story to glorify God in the incarnation of Ram. It is a way to teach kids real world values.
So, I encourage my kids to ask questions about the story and try to explain in the simplest form. It is a story where
- We should not be so hard on ourselves when we make mistakes.
- That when you do not pay heed to the warnings of those you love, you suffer.
- That not respecting women, can lead to the downfall of even Kings.
- That the happiness one feels when a child comes home is priceless!
But that is of course some of my interpretation. Anyone who reads scriptures or mythology derives their own meanings and using them to grow in their own life!
We Miss Our Family Back Home Terribly
This is the biggest frustration of today’s times and living so far from family. A home is not a home without family and as I mentioned the ridiculous air fares make it extremely hard to celebrate this special time together.
How do we deal with it ? Thank God for the age of Video calling and Instant Messaging . Also, we spend a lot of time making cards, decor, food and cleaning to avoid the insane sadness in the pit of our stomachs. Denial has it’s advantages for we get a LOT done and create tonnes of memories in the process.
With all it’s trials and tribulations, Diwali still ends up being one of the most blessed and fun times with friends sharing their time with us. The music, the ambiance of the diyas/candles, the yummy food and the companionship of those we care for more than make up for any woes we need to endure.
Joining the kindness chain — > I have a thing about balloons. I don’t like them. They pop, they cause fights between my kids, and they float away. And after each of these scenario’s plays out the tears fall like a summer rain. Me and balloons, we are not friends.
But on a Friday night at a packed restaurant, I found myself staring into my son’s big, brown eyes as he sweetly asked for a balloon. “Sure,” I told him. “Let’s go pick one out.” Our meal finished, we rose from the table and went to the scanty cluster of balloons loosely tied from a rail.
“I want the blue one Mommy!” My son squealed, just one second before another little boy joined us.
“What color would you like?” I asked the boy standing beside my son. His mother made her way toward us.
“Blue.” He replied.
I looked at the balloons, the cause of so much angst, and saw only one blue balloon. I glanced at my son, his little hands held out in anticipation, and handed the coveted blue balloon to the other boy. The boy’s mother thanked me and they went back to their table.
My son’s face crumpled and in seconds he was gushing tears. He was devastated. I now had another example to add to the list of a balloon’s possible offenses. His tears did not stop. They flowed through the painstaking wait for my husband to pay our check. They poured on the walk through the restaurant to our car. He sobbed while I strapped him into his car seat. I stroked his hair and told him I understood his disappointment and that it was ok to feel sad. I explained mommy was trying to be kind to the other little boy.
“Excuse me?” I heard from behind.
I turned around and there stood the little boy and his mother. Lip trembling, he held out the balloon.
“You don’t have to—” I started to say, but the woman stopped me.
“It’s important to him,” she nodded at my son, strapped in and whimpering. She bent down and said to her son, “This is how we love people.”
He pushed the balloon to me and they started back to the restaurant. Astonished, I yelled my thanks as they walked away. The mom turned back to me, smiled and waved.
I cried on the drive home. A stranger’s show of kindness to the child who holds my heart was more than I could handle.
A few years have passed since that happened. My kids no longer have an affinity for balloons and I have not mysteriously developed one either. My awe and gratitude for a fellow mom’s kindness has not decreased as time has passed. It is a constant reminder of the love I must teach my children to show to everyone, even to people they do not know. And I very begrudgingly admit, this all happened because of a balloon.
Personal note: I think of this experience often. It compels me to put down my sword and armor and open up. This mother and her son were Indian, and we are White. To her, my son was not a color but a person with a feeling. In today’s tense political environment, it is a beautiful reminder that we do not feel in different colors.
Joining the Kindness Chain. — >
Often we warn our kids about “stranger danger”. We teach to be wary of any unknown person, not accepting anything so on and so forth. On the other hand some or the other time one comes across a kind gesture by a total stranger and it leaves the heart just a little bit warmer..
Any story of kindness should not be withheld, it should be told and retold, bringing back some faith in an otherwise harsh world..
This incident, that I want to share, happened a few years back the day we moved to Dubai.
Travelling with two small children, my daughter just a few months old. Moving houses is a mammoth task with so much luggage,and being encumbered by a baby pram was a nightmare happening.
We somehow managed to haul ourselves to an airport cab and reached our new apartment building.
Upon reaching the building we were presented with the problem of taking the luggage up to the apartment along with the kids .
My husband was about to call the security guy to help when three men stepped out of the elevator , all dressed to go out for the evening.
They walked up to us and welcomed us to Dubai, then asked us whether they can be of help. We thanked them but requested them not to be hassled and carry on.
But they were not taking NO for an answer and told us to just bring the kids up to the respective floor and carried ALL our luggage to our front door. We unlocked the door and they deposited all the huge suitcases in our hall and further offered to get any groceries from the store.
After we assured them we had all we needed, they bade us a goodnight and left.
To many this would just be a small gesture, but for us in a new and strange city, it made a world of difference.
We knew nobody back then and these three strangers left us with a glow in our hearts and hope.
Since then I have had strangers open doors for me, carry my groceries in the elevator or just smile to wish a pleasant day and I never forget to be grateful.
Even I try to do my bit, a new mom trying to negotiate a double pram can always use a smile and a hand. If even for a few seconds I can be that stranger that a person can be grateful for, the world is still beautiful.
We lived an idyllic life. My small family thriving. Dad doing two jobs. My brother just born and me, a ten-year-old busy in excelling in school, dance classes and playing with friends.
A country’s leader put his country first and my family and thousands more like us lost everything they had built in the years leading up to that date. He not only destroyed his own country and people, but ruined thousands of innocent lives. When Saddam Hussain decided to invade Kuwait.
The morning of August 2nd 1990.
When people hear I was in Kuwait when the Gulf war happened, they want to know what it was like. It has taken me years to be able to put it down on paper. Those are hard but innocent memories. Somehow the time seems right now.
August 2nd 1990 – Iraq Invades Kuwait
10 year old me wakes up groggy. Into an alternate universe. I see my mom filling up bottle after bottle with water. The kitchen is lined up with bottles. Soda bottles, milk bottles. Every container empty or available. I look right, in the bathroom the tub is full of water. The windows have been blacked out with black garbage bags taped to them. There is a weird haze around the house.
“What happened mama?”
“Iraq attacked Kuwait. The county is full of Iraqis,” my mother replies in the midst of filling up bottle after bottle.
I know at the age of 10 life is never going to be the same.
My father comes home from the bank with all the money he can withdraw and his passport. He doesn’t seem worried but is saying,”The streets are of full of dancing Iraqis. They waved to me calling me Hindi. Kuwaiti soldiers are nowhere to be seen. Poor boys. 18,19 years-old. What do they know about war?”
Mom packs up everything one thing at a time. Within a week most things we own are in bags around the house, to make for easy escape. (In retrospect that was just an easy way to make sure all our things got stolen, which they did!)
We are holed up in our home with a bachelor friend of dad’s. Dad and that man go out once or twice to stock up on food. Day after day is spent indoors, bored with a sense of urgency sprinkled over every moment.
Bombs keep going off in the city. The scariest was on the mosque right behind our apartment building. It was so close. We hide under our dining table wondering where the next one will fall.
We live near the Kuwait airport so my dad is worried that soon soldiers will come scavenging. Mom and dad decided to move into a house into the city where four other families were living. Before we leave, my dad writes on the wall, “Please don’t take family photographs. ” (They took them all)
For a ten-year-old being in a house with 13 adults and a baby, it is like being at a long, boring party. I keep myself busy exploring the house, missing my own.
One day, the news comes that there is a flight in which I.K.Gujral will take as many Indians as possible. This is probably one of the first rescue missions there is. We go tagging along with the families we were living with.
We reach the airport only to find to our immense disappointment that the plane was already full. As with all things in life, the people with the most ‘influential friend’ were on board.
When my father finds out, he loses it completely. He grabs the man in charge by the collar, raises him off his feet and threatens to make pulp out of his face.
“What are men doing on the flight? They can take care of themselves. Put in more women and children,” he bellows. More men desperate to their wives and children on the plane join in and soon my mom and I are sitting on the floor of a fighter plane with a 7 month baby and a only one bag full of diapers.
The plane is now full of women and children.
My mom gives me a paper to go take autograph of the foreign minister, I.K.Gujral. He does so kindly, patting me on the head. I remember everything about that flight. The pensive faces, the restless kids and the constant hum of the engine, louder than usual planes.
We enter India with cameras flashing. Reaching my father’s paternal home, we were given a room on the roof. We live that way for a day with nothing but the clothes on our back.
A day later my mother’s relatives come with clothes and basic necessities. My uncle takes me out to have a non-vegetarian meal as a treat! I understand that is a big deal for a vegetarian to do. He buys me some toys, too. The sun hasn’t shone so bright in weeks! I take in the streets in Gwalior, a city in the center of India, for the first time.
I hate the tin roof and the freezing floor of the bathroom. That and lagging behind in studies. My mom understands I’m worried when my Dad would join us in India but gets me back on track saying, “You have to excel.”
I stop eating. My cousins are fun but I miss my home and all my friends terribly. My dad finally joins us. He and many other fathers had to drive for weeks through Iraq and Jordan and then taking a flight from there to India. Within a few months we move to a different city, into a new home!
My Altered Perception After
All through the next decade I lamented to people first in sincerity and then in jest that, “Saddam Hussain took away everything. Even my toys. My dollhouse, seven Barbies and one Ken. ” But I didn’t just lose my home and toys, but my childhood. Childhood is not toys and luxury, but the security of believing you are safe and loved by everyone around you.
We went back to Kuwait in 1993 but our home was gone. Every thing and person had changed.
We had it MUCH easier than others who had to go to India on a ship with no food for weeks or others who had to live in camps waiting in distress for transport to India. We were probably one of the luckiest of those affected, all thanks to my Dad who took a stand where others wouldn’t. I still remember him towering over me, manhandling the man fighting or every woman and child at that airport.
To this day he says, ” With you and your mom and brother gone and safe, that night is the first night I slept peacefully.
“With great power comes great responsibility,” is not just a line for superhero movies. Each of us has the power to affect the life of another. Bad things happen when good people stand by and do nothing.
Today, I am a parent. I have built a home with my husband and two children, and often shudder to the core to think what my parents went through each and every minute of those months. To have nothing to show for the home they built in the period of 12 years.
Please always choose to take a stand for what’s right! How do you think you would react to this situation.
First Published on Mompreneur Life and Silver Linings