morning musings

6 am is a wonderful time to be awake, especially on a friday morning. I stood by the kitchen sink, taking in the peach hues of a sunrise. The only sound in that quietude was the coffee filter going “PliP”. I paused some more. And before I knew I was cutting, grating, kneading and rolling the dough to make ‘ parathas with jam’ for the lunch boxes. The thoughts that consume me during these moments are usually the same — A mental run through of today’s todoist, a quick recap of where i left off at work and a brief rush of the runner’s high at finishing my workout before sunrise!

But today was different. I suddenly recalled a dream I had right before my alarm had gone off. It was about getting back in touch with an old friend. And funnily enough my brain had dug to the depths of remembering her mobile number which i knew byheart many moons ago. It didnt hurt, but it was a dull regret that the years of distance had reduced staying-in-touch to “likes” and exchanges of “what else?”. It was a natural run down that comes from not knowing what to say or share; and the moment it comes to a discussion of the weather, you know where its headed.

By the time the parathas were sizzling on the tava, I fondly remembered the long list of friendships that have stood the test of time and distance in my near-nomadic life; and there is that list of gently-letting-go and abruptly-ended, as well. And the third kind that emerged from blogging and twitter, which is a sort of a sisterhood of having each others back, that is so hard to explain to someone else!

“the camaraderie in female friendships are like that” I smiled, as I smothered the butter and jam, before wrapping the parathas. It was almost 6:30 and sunlight was seeping through my window. I quickly made a cup of coffee before the bustle of my morning would take over. I sulked at the first sip. It tasted nothing like what amma got me used to every morning when she was here for the summer. I made a mental note to ask her how she brewed it.

Like an afterthought, it hit me, that not all relationships suffer with distance. The every morning call to my mother is a testament to that statement. Infact, we have settled into this comfortable acceptance that we get along best when not under the same roof. I nodded a little thankyou to no one in particular for that early morning revelation. It was a near zen-like-moment; before I caught the shuffle of footsteps upstairs. My family was waking up and it was time to let the morning cave in!

Rewriting Mary Poppins

Many moons ago, I watched the broadway rendition of Mary Poppins in NYC. It was splendid to say the least. And i was glad to have the character introduced to me in the best way possible, with all the hullabaloo, if i may (Wink); umbrella flying in the middle of the theater and tap dancers performing next to you, it was indeed wonderful.

So when I watched the movie with my children recently, happily learning to sing “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” with them, little did I realise that I would be intrigued very differently this time around.

Poppins is the hero of the movie, no doubt. She is perfectly played by Julie andrews (from the sound of music fame). She is kind, yet strict; not rude, yet stern; not submissive, yet polite. And unlike most of disney’s female characters, I love that she is unpredictable; she is a mystery that doesn’t beg to be solved. It was heartening to see a woman on screen knowing perfectly well what she likes and doing what she wants! “Let me make one thing perfectly clear! I dont explain anything” — and thats that 🙂

It was all great until i decided to read parts of T.L Travis’s original, to understand the character of mrs. Banks, better. Her satirical treatment in the movie had me in wraps with wikipedia and other articles; digging deep into the suffragette movement. I learnt about Sophia Duleep Singh, who was a suffragist; her father was the one who let the British empire have India’s Kohinoor. ( that was a lot of trivia for a single night for me ! )

The book, I realised, makes no mention of suffragette at all. ( All i had to do was read more on wikipedia, instead of reading 200+ pages; oh well! I had to be sure ). And I was mildly surprised how unpleasant Poppins came across to me in the book. She was borderline contemptuous, especially towards Mrs. Banks. And Mrs. Banks was more meek and characterless in the novel. For once, I was at awe with Disney’s adaptation.

So here is where I draw the parallels and give my interpretation — To me Mrs Banks cohesively represents women who are always at odds with their personal ambitions and maternal duties. When I drew it into the present age, the suffragette movement could easily replace “equal pay”  or “#metoo” — silent battles we are waging through twitter or blogposts, not knowing exactly how to involve our spouses or families in it. And we can’t do it without the Mary Poppins, the care-givers and teachers who do the part for us to keep our children safe and happy, when we are away figuring it all out!

The ending of the movie is often quoted as the “domestication” of Mrs. Banks. But I honestly saw it as the opposite. To me it was her moment of proudly owning up to be a suffragist, to stop living in the closet, to be able to bring her voice and beliefs to her family. Of letting her voice fly high for the world to see!