Majestic Mixtape

RajasthanIn honor of cupid’s impending arrival, I’d like to dedicate a few songs to a few of the people I love dearly. If I could send you flowers and candies I would. If I could shower you with hugs and kisses you’d lose count. If I could send you Hallmark cards…well, I’d be broke. So, I decided to combine two themes I’m obsessed with these days – family & friends AND Majestic Casual music. For each of you, here’s a Majestic Casual tune that either reminds me of you or that I think might brighten your day. So, here goes…from the depths of the internet, through the bottom of my heart, to the innards of your ear canals!

P.S. Obviously, not EVERYONE I love has a song here. My bad son… don’t hate me. If you want a tune, let me know before Wednesday and I’ll post your selected lil’ diddie before Valentine’s Day.  See, we have to work together! Your forgiveness is appreciated in advance.

Ivan

Mom

Dad

Ameer

Elyse

Alyson

Charlie

Akintola

Leo

Julien

Ana

Juanita

Kai

Trudy

Jay

On fictitious kids…

twobluehouses.blogspot.com

As my birthday approaches I’ve found myself thinking more and more about youth. College kids look younger than I remember. High school kids look like they don’t care about anything at all. Elementary school kids look like they bite. Toddlers look cuter than I remember. Babies are still scary. And I just saw a 3D sonogram the other day – that is the coolest, grossest thing I’ve seen all year. Times are a-changing!

In sum, the world seems a scarier place than when my mom was my age and decided she was ready to have me. I’m thinking long and hard about who my future children will become, the world they will grow up in, who their peers will be, and who among you will be their mentors. And I wonder if, as an intelligent person and mindful individual, you ever feel comfortable bringing an innocent life into this world. There are the universal insecurities of parenting: the selfishness, the financial instability, the definitive reality that you’ll screw up your child somehow. There are the choices you must make that you can’t guarantee will turn out well: what color to paint the nursery, which school to send them to, what tactic of discipline will both allow you to control your child and to stay out of jail. Aside from these communally shared concerns, I’ll offer my own tailor-made top 5 child-rearing fears now, well before I’m confronted with the reality of having kids of my own to mess up or dump at your house at will.

1- No Newtown: Seriously, how do you avoid Raising Adam Lanza? I read Lionel Shriver’s “We Need to talk about Kevin” and I was ready to get my tubes tied. The lack of support some parents have to take care of their ‘special needs’ child is just sad. But when your child is a danger to others, where does parenting end and protecting the public begin? And how is it done? Successfully? I want to raise children that are neither victims, nor perpetrators of violence. It seems there is no money back guarantee on this one.

2- “I wish you have a daughter like you.” Signed, MOM: My mother has wished that ill omen on me since I was in elementary school, but frankly I don’t want a kid like me – or my brother. My brother and I are not alike in most things, but if I spawned a child like either one of us then that means that I will have to be on my toes every day for the rest of their lives. There will be no days off. They would either be a constant prankster who always needs hands-on parental oversight OR an aloof nerd whose quiet plotting means that they are perpetually homeless from the age of puberty onward. Actually, both types of kids sound equally sucky to parent. I sure wouldn’t want that job!

3- R. Kelly would be dead if Aaliyah were my child: Not all child rapists, molesters or predators are as well as known or as sleazy to the sight as R. Kelly. Most live amongst us as friends, family members, and trusted members of our community. Have you ever actually looked up the sex offender registry in your city? It’s frightening! What’s more frightening is that “One researcher stated that more than 70% of abusers are immediate family members or someone very close to the family.” I fully intend to cause bodily harm to anyone who dares to…. Whew! Just thinking about it makes me want to move below the Mason Dixon, so I can shoot someone with my legally owned and registered shotgun!

4- Let them eat cake?: My food restrictions being as they are, I am conscious of the fact that what I think is healthy for me is not the most conventional diet for a child. Sure, I can Vitamix their raw food smoothies, but kids need cow’s milk every once in a while. I probably bought a total of 4 gallons of cow’s milk in the last 2 years – 3.5 were used for baked goods for colleagues and the other .5 were consumed by any number of foreign visitors squatting in my guest room. I’ll have to reintroduce dairy, meat and rice to my fridge; adjust for the lack of calcium, iron and Vitamins B, C and D in my diet; and reduce my intake of tuna, coffee, dark chocolate, spiked cider, wine and processed foods (even if they are Trader Joe’s brand). Argh!

5- Keep the ole’ ticker ticking why dontcha!: In the last 5 years, both my grandfathers have passed away. So I’m concerned that I may not pop these babies out in a timely enough fashion such that they’ll have the benefit of knowing their great grandmothers. I had the benefit of growing up with the women who mothered my grandmothers and it’s really important to me that I give my children that possibility as well. I pray for my grandmothers’ health, not just for my unborn children’s sake – but I get the feeling that they’re not done teaching and I’m not done learning from them  just yet.

Girl Trippin

sisterhood-1

“Get outta town” was a household expression that I’ve grown to know and love.  It was my mother’s child friendly way of saying “Get the [insert four letter expletive] out of here with that [insert eight letter expletive].” That expression that expressed so much in disbelief, in torment of reality, in sheer shock, has been one I have heard myself say so many times here in India – not just in the way that my mother once used it, but also in its literal meaning.  Ditching Delhi and seeking new sights has become as powerful in my adult life as any expletive ever was in my childhood.

My childhood was encased in a YaYa Sisterhood-like circle of my mother’s friends.  My aunts by blood and/or by bond were everywhere, all the time.  They were at awards ceremonies.  They were at my house.  They were at my grandmother’s house.  They were at their houses with my brother and me (their kids, nieces and nephews too).  They were at the supermarket.  They were at birthdays and holidays and funerals and hospital rooms.  And while it never seemed that these 40-something mothers and sisters and businesswomen, my aunts, actually ever got outta town (literally), I remember them saying it quite a bit to each other.

“Ohhh girl, get outta town” was usually followed by throat gurgling laughter.  There was always a kitchen or dining room table that they were gathered around like the Knights of King Arthur’s court.  There was always food on the table and, more recently as my cousins and I have grown older, there has been more and more liquor on it too.

Just last week I went to a performance of a Durga Puja.  In this dance rendition, Durga, the goddess of destruction, grows her 10 hands by combining the bodies of five women in to one.  I’m not so much into the fiction of her having slain evil Mahishasura with her combined woman powers.  The story doesn’t make much logical sense in my cursory understanding.  But, I was fascinated by the idea of female partnership, by our power to be stronger together than apart.  It’s the fraternity of females that shows in the pantheon, but not in the reality.

What I noticed most when I arrived in Delhi was the lack of female-to-female relationships.  There’s never just a bunch of young women hanging out at a restaurant or bar or a coffee shop or a bookstore together, just them, no male escort in tow.  It has remained difficult for me to understand the need for women to be surrounded by men and to call that protection.  I missed the lack of girl talk, the silliness and the goofiness that gals are permitted when not around men they hope to impress or have to appear proper in front of.  I recognized that the circle of women that I had known and loved as a child was an anomaly in this space, and it pushed me more than ever to “get outta town.”

Beneath this layer of mythological female power, there is a very real Sita complex.  The tortured wife whose identity is based on her long suffering with her [insert seven letter expletive] husband who treats her like [insert four letter expletive] and really doesn’t much give a [four letter expletive] about her as person, so much as her as reproductive capabilities.  I digress.

There are huge absences of women in Delhi places where they could be, should be – on the streets, in the nightclubs, in the art galleries, in the professional work places.  It seems as if the women of Delhi have learned to simply get out of these places, minimize themselves in these spaces, be un-present as much as possible, so as not to threaten (what? I’m not sure) or be threatened.

As time has passed, my mother and my aunts have seen their children grow older, their parents pass on, relationships resolve themselves and now more than ever they are taking their girl gang on the road.  They’ve been to Spain, Italy, Saint Lucia and Germany, and while I’m sure I could beg, borrow, and steal their sympathies to bring them to Delhi I just can’t bring myself to do it.  How can it be that being a woman, enjoying a woman’s friendship is more foreign than being a foreigner?  These women who have had men in their lives, not as handlers, but as partners, wouldn’t understand how what has come so natural to them would appear so strange to these people of Delhi.

So while I long to hear their laughter and banter around my dining room table, to host them here and hear their stories washed down with high-end liquers, I can’t help but encourage them to go to a different destination from their next girls’ trip out of town.  What they see here might shock them.  They might be tormented by the realities of this place, and I am sure they won’t believe some of the ways that women are treated and some of the ways that women behave.  I’ve spent so much time trying to ‘get outta town’ myself, I’m not sure I’d have the capacity to make believable some of the absurdities and to make bearable some of the oddities.

How would my mom and aunts get along here? We may never know.