Being Back Here

I’m back in Coventry. I hesitate to say I’m back at home, because I’m not sure it is anymore. There’s no angst about it though…just a shift in perspectives. I’m in my parents’ house. We arrived here on the 1st of May and surprised them on their doorstep. They were over the moon! We were exhausted because we had just come via 5 days in Paris. (Another post for another day)

I’m enjoying being back in the town of my childhood. I love the English springtime, although we experienced only rain for the first couple of weeks. I love the fact that you can step out of your front door and take a walk without the fear of pollution and waste and traffic and a basic lack of footpaths. I love being able to drive a car! Needless to say, I’m too scared in Calcutta to even attempt it. (Maybe, one day). I love the fact that I can pop to the library and pick out children’s books with my children and have them beg me to stay for longer. And then, walk to the charity shops and look for, yet more books, as we stop to feed the ducks in the park, by our house!

I loved meeting my old colleagues to the point I almost wanted to go back to work and I loved meeting old friends and seeing their little ones who have grown up so much it’s silly, but completely understandable! (Child time works differently compared to adult time).

I haven’t even mentioned food yet. During my first week here I found a full block of mature English Cheddar in the fridge. Then I saw the fresh strawberries! I have been feasting on cheese and strawberries ever since, in between real meals, of course!

I love the flowers too.  Apricot roses nodded in greeting and rhubard and custard tulips stood to attention, as we arrived through the big white gates to my parents’ house. Everything was comfortingly familiar.

Being back here though, has had a negative effect on me and my attitude. I was calmer in Calcutta, I had learned to go with the flow, to be less angry. I find actually, that it was Calcutta which had that effect on me, not so much a shift in my personality…because being back here is turning me slowly into that angry, frustrated, grumpy person I was before I left. Or perhaps it’s just being in close proximity to my parents and my little brother, all of whom I love more than words can express but who also succeed in driving me crazy in equal measure. I also seemed to have lost a lot of time during the day, even though the sun does not deem fit to set until around 8.30-ish in the evening. I’m washing dishes, I’m cooking (a little), I’m actually looking after the children and by the time I go to bed, I’m shattered. I was spoiled in Calcutta! I had time to read and write. I’m not really doing that here! (Which explains why I haven’t posted anything for such a long time!) And that’s making me feel a little out of sorts too.

I don’t know…I’m overthinking things. I need to chill out, as they say and calm down and breathe. I need to sit with my grandmother and listen to her stories because they are wonderfully entertaining. And I need to watch my children play games with each other and their grandparents who conspire to help them steal sweets from their great-grandmother’s room when she nips to the bathroom and I need to breathe in the spring sunshine whenever it appears, as I hang out the washing on the line, in the back garden that grows runner-beans and peas and tomatoes and tats.

(Photos next time, I promise!)


I Hate Goodbyes

I don’t like goodbyes. No one does.

I think I handle them a little less well than others around me. If I know there’s a goodbye on the cards, I go into ‘shutdown’ mode. I don’t think my parents have worked that out yet, or at least not both of them. I become harsh, unresponsive, unsympathetic, impatient. I basically turn into someone that they probably would be glad to see the back of. All I’m doing though, is playing out an idea in my head that, I do not want to feel sad when the time comes. “I don’t like these people, anyway,” I tell myself. I suppose the harsher my reaction, the more deeply I care.

Dad looks at me as if I’m not his little girl anymore, and I think my mum sort of understands. She watches and says very little.

I don’t want them to go back. It’s as simple as that and instead of feeling sad about it, I want to feel angry. Angry is a better emotion for me, I think. I’m angry for all sorts of reasons but mainly that everything’s different now. When they go, I’m a grown up again. Just a mother and wife with a household to be responsible for.

Just having them there makes me feel protected, sheltered.

Not having them there makes me feel the need to pretend to be stronger, fiercer, harder, older.

But they’ll be back or maybe, if I’m lucky I’ll get to visit them in the UK.

But until then, I suppose, this is goodbye.


The Philosophy of Teaching

ImageTeachers’ Day, my interpretation.

We are all teachers. We are all students.

On this day where teachers are revered, I bow down to the ones who have given me thought. I don’t mean my brain or the random stream of consciousness we are all born with. I mean my capacity to think, my capacity to feel and give names to those emotions.

I think therefore I am, said Descartes. I am because I think. I think because I was taught to think. I was taught, as we all are, to organize the mess in our minds, the pictures that are scattered without purpose on the bedroom floor of our inner ego.

My mother who held me, pointing at objects, giving them names; my father who carried me on his shoulders, showing me the world, my brother who looked up at me from his crib, giving me the feeling of worth. When I try and break down all the roles of all the people in my life, actually, I’m at a loss. Everyone I have ever met, in my short stay on this planet have taught me, is teaching me.

I don’t know who I would be if the people in my life did not exist. It is much harder to glean knowledge from the world without a teacher, as an island. The mistakes would be greater in number and magnitude. I do not think the debt can be repaid or a price put on the gift we receive as we are learning. Ekalavya paid with his right thumb for the knowledge he had stolen. But he gave it gladly because he knew the value of the lessons he had learnt surreptitiously. Your teachers must be acknowledged. But how?

My school teachers; I can thank them all by name. But what of my best friend’s mother who gave me my first paid job? What of the first child I tutored, who taught me the value of teaching? What of my grandmother, who taught me how to remove a sticky sandesh from its mould? What of my friends who taught me how to share? What of the bullies who taught me how to fight? What of the boy who taught me how to love? What of the boy who taught me how to cry?

What of Google, which taught me that there is an answer for everything? I’m being glib and generalistic, perhaps taking away the value of ‘real’ teachers. I don’t mean to. What I mean to say is: on this “Teachers’ Day” remember your teachers, but remember also the ones who have taught you something. One day, there may be a debt to pay and then you will give it gladly because you will know the value of the learning you have received.