Love yourself enough to get up and take the fitness challenge

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I enjoy sport — cricket, badminton, tennis or auto racing, if sitting in the comforts of my sofa while cheering on my favourite sport stars’ moments count.

It is difficult not to love sport when the television is perpetually tuned on to one or the other sports channels where experts are delineating the technical details of a match with a discussion of the same by the in-house experts — the husband and Sid leaving me  tongue-tied.

It is not entirely my fault for you see I can rattle off about ten names of engineers under one minute that only the maternal side of my family has contributed to the world, but I would be left jogging my memory for hours to pick up at least one blood relative who has attempted any sort of sport, let alone excel in one.

Let’s just say that we chose a book over a cricket bat or a racket!

I am not much of a talker, but not one to be left tongue-tied either, so I have sat through Sid’s tennis classes and the husband’s badminton tournaments with my most trusted mate — Google, who has been throwing light on facts like the tennis court measures 36 by 78 feet while the badminton court is smaller measuring 20 by 44 feet.

I am yet to put a racket to a ball or a shuttlecock but at least I know the technical difference.

I have understood that sport is not all about the scores and strategies for it teaches you character. Sport teaches you to play by the rules, to accept your defeat and move on after you have learnt from your mistakes and stay grounded as you enjoy basking in the glory of victory.

Sport is a life teacher!

I must admit that it took me a couple of days to appreciate the goodness of exercise for during the first few days even the endorphins didn’t help.

"Wow, all the way from the couch. Have the endorphins kicked in?"

The children were both delighted and mildly traumatised watching me limping about and attempting to lift a painfully sore arm to toss food in the general direction of my mouth.

It took all of a week’s persistence in keeping it up to enjoy the benefits of an exercise routine and be treated to a good dose of endorphins that cleared away cobwebs that had strayed in through the day.

Love yourself enough to pull up your socks and take up the challenge. Together we can turn fitness into a way of life, one step at a time!

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Good morning!

This is an extract from the publication in the ‘Off the Cuff’ section of the Gulf News For the full write-up please click here. This was written for the Dubai Fitness Challenge that runs from October 19, 2018 to November 17, 2018, that challenges every Dubai resident to engage in physical activity of their choice for 30 minutes of in a day for 30 days.

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 Have a wonderful Sunday!

 

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Lessons from a Parking Ticket

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"Do you realise who I AM?"

It was a fun Saturday — the afternoon of our much-awaited family day out spent at the cinema.

The husband and Sid munched on popcorn trying hard to encipher the storyline while Little Princess and I played a game of catch. Since the only occupants inside the plush darkened interiors were just another couple, we were a welcome treat to the bored couple.

Luckily, the movie was the husband’s choice so he took it upon himself to enlighten us on its positive aspects. The positivity came in handy for post lunch at a restaurant that promised an authentic Delhi cuisine but served us limp bread, bland curry and rubbery kebabs — we were still a happy family.

Just to ensure a better end to our day, I suggested visiting a friend’s home.

We reached our destination and even found a parking spot without much ado. While the husband parked, I made a virtual parking payment.

Zone entry — Check.

Message confirmation receipt — Check.

We were good to go for a full hour.

At the friend’s place, I ensured that the phone sat beside me so that I would not miss out on the reminder SMS to make an extension on the ticket.

It is not in my nature to boast, but I try to ensure that any job I undertake is done to the best of my ability. Or so I thought until we caught sight of a parking ticket slapped on the windscreen of our car.

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We checked the message and the confirmation. A closer scrutiny of the numbers revealed that there sure was an error —the last digit of the car’s number plate typed in was incorrect.

As we weaved our way back through the traffic, I stared ahead annoyed at my oversight.

My oversight had hurt our pocket, but his sneer on catching me in this precarious position (that was usually his) was not lost on me. It was my turn to eat humble pie.

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When the real world is robbed of inspiration, we can always plunge into the virtual world that is in overabundance with happy toddlers and sunsets along with cheery inspirational thoughts that come free with ‘Good Morning’ messages.

Freezing smartphones and running out of phone memory have not deterred Indians  with cheery ‘Good Morning’ messages fired off nineteen to the dozen, driving WhatsApp to near exhaustion and leaving Google researchers at Silicon Valley baffled.

Being an inactive member in many family and friends’ groups, it only took a single click to be hit by a sea of cheery messages and waves of inspiration for my not-so-happy mind to assimilate.

One message from a friend caught my attention. She explained that for every negative thought, we just need to look around us and think of five positive ones.

To start with, I look up at the husband who is still beaming at his ‘we all make mistakes’ remark — but at least he was still smiling.

I look around me and see my family tired and happy after an enjoyable day and feel the first warmth of gratefulness fill my insides.

There was so much to be thankful for.

While I made a mental note to take heed of my oversight and take care to avoid another fine in the future, I use my new-found inspiration to ensure a happy end to our day out.

I wonder if researchers at Silicon Valley too had used inspiration from the sea of cheery Good Morning messages to come up with the Files Go application that that is capable of weeding out ‘good-morning messages’ and has cleared up more than 1 gigabyte of data per user on an average.

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This is an extract from my article in the Off the Cuff section of the Gulf News. Click here for the full article.

The Music will go on

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The tunes took birth enrapturing listeners into a trance,

A melody so divine that elevated the spirit into a dance,

A hum so gentle in the gust of musical wind became,

A stupendous composition by an artist on his bow and four strings on a frame.

 

His soulful tunes made way into the musical world ashine,

To a growing audience enthralled by music so pure and divine,

A treat to the soul, the broken hearts and those locked in romance,

His tunes touched millions as this musical prodigy steadily gathered fans.

 

The music had reached its crescendo stirring the mortal world and heavens alike,

A journey that transcended in orchestral exuberance on a magical flight,

Suddenly the tunes faltered, the strings gone out of tune and the bow snapped,

Until all that was left was a deathly silence after this beautiful young soul was snatched.

 

The journey has come to a screeching halt,

The empty stage screaming silence echoing loud in the hearts of fans distraught,

The violin rests as magical fingers that caressed the strings up into heaven has gone,

But the blissful music that this musical legend left for us will always go on.

 

Good morning friends, this is a tribute to my favorite violinist, the late Balabaskar, who was snatched away from the mortal world in a freak accident. It was indeed a sad day for music. RIP Balabaskar. 

You can listen to one of his best performance here 

 

 

Smart phone, smart phone on a stick, who has the best profile pic?

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My daughter barely missed getting trampled on,

By a shopper and his cart, enticed under the spell of his phone, the real world forgone.

Pulling her from harm’s way, clucking my disapproval, shaking my head in despair,

This man adrift in his virtual world barely noticed, moving on without a care.

My little girl is fine, hale, hearty and enjoyed her time,

For she spent the evening fiddling with a new gadget on display – the Galaxy Note 9!

 

IPads, mobiles and other gizmos so sleek and fine,

Throw open the doors to the splendor of the virtual world ashine.

Wrecking quiet havoc to family’s routine, harmony and time,

Leaving the outdated ones marooned in the real world, offline.

Stealing the pleasure of leisure without FB, Twitter, Instagram or another digital shrine,

Reading a real book or making an actual conversation almost feels like a crime!

 

“Dinner is ready”, reads a message on Hangouts from mother to her son,

He snaps out of his digital dream and stays grounded to reality until dinner is done.

A Whatsapp forward, a joke, a wish sent to your partner on the run,

A conversation that keeps the pretence of a relationship alive, going and fun.

Emojis, emoticons, internet slang and bizarre abbreviation,

An internet lingo for every kind of communication!

 

Shopping lists, weather update, cricket scores or playing a country capital game,

A virtual assistant to your rescue – ‘ALEXA’ is her name.

A tweet, a picture, a status update or a ridiculous claim,

May thrust you into controversy or a spot of overnight fame.

Slouching over the basking glow every day and all night,

We, as a generation, are a chiropractor’s delight!

 

There will not be another Emil Rustige from this home of mine,

Protesting for lack of attention against parents who are on the phone all the time.

For I am the lone protester and the digital dieting mother,

Playing the screen referee to two children and their father.

Microwave the phone, grill the iPad and plug off the Wi-Fi I wish at my will,

But to get all that done I now need a helpful date with Google!download (2)

Good Morning Friends, 

I hope you enjoy this poem. Let me know what you think.

Have a wonderful  Sunday!

 

 

 

 

Life is beautiful, soak it up

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Their mothers were sisters and they were born days apart. Yet, the cousins were as different as chalk and cheese.

The one with the spotlessly fair complexion was a bundle of enthusiasm and every teacher’s dream, while the other who was beautifully dusky was aloof and indifferent, her attitude screaming quiet defiance.

On the first day of school, as excited fifth graders who have transitioned into middle schoolers from the protected confines of primary school, my friends and I had the pleasant surprise of finding the cousins in the same class — our class.

However, the sisters did not share our enthusiasm for they went out of their way to steer clear of each other’s path.

While the bundle of enthusiasm steadily picked up a spot as the teacher’s pet, the indifferent one’s silent defiance — that the teachers were familiar with — had ballooned into a sense of cold standoffishness and resentment.

After her parents were summoned and after the teachers gave up trying to persuade her out of the shell of unrelenting silence that she had retreated into, she became the mute spectator who sat through every class unnoticed.

Then one day, we noticed her absence — the empty chair in the corner was cold devoid of its quiet occupant.

The sister with a zest for life had disappeared too. When she made a comeback a fortnight later, she appeared frail, jittery and shaken, living every moment through unending pain and perpetually at the brink of drowning into a flood of tears.

Even when our hearts went out to her and when our curiosity could hold no more, we kept the flood of questions that plagued our minds to ourselves because by then we knew that the empty chair in the corner would stay empty for the rest of the year and that the quietly defiant sister would never come back.

Our little minds could not fathom a reason enough to comprehend what could have led our unusually quiet classmate to take her life. Suicide was an unfamiliar territory and a strange word that suddenly stood dominating and looming dark in our mental dictionary.

We held hushed discussions in-between classes and during breaks after the lone sister was gently whisked away by the school counsellor.

Time heals wounds and the fog of loss and despair will evanesce to reveal the path of life ahead for us to move on.

The lone sister has moved on. Her enthusiasm is still infectious, but the gaping hole of loss remains for being the best and bringing out the best in her had been a curse big enough to shoulder the responsibility of the weight of another life — her dear sister’s life.

While we tread through the gravelled and otherwise unfair path of competition, comparison and disillusion between the tarred roads of happiness and joy, it is good to take a moment from our meticulously planned inert existence to immerse in a moment of solitude that will shake off the shroud of depression and angst and question your practical mind: Is a failure, an opportunity lost, a mistake, the unrelenting pressures that we forcefully succumb to and the many opinions and words that measure the value of our existence worthy of giving up on life itself?

You will be pleasantly surprised to realise that the answer will always be a NO!

 

This is an extract from a piece that was published in the Gulf News. For the full article please click here.

Good Morning! Wishing you all a very happy Sunday and a great week ahead.

 

Have you developed your partner’s scowl?

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"According to this article, couples that have lived together for a long time end up looking alike."

Some of us can pick up a book and magnetically escape into the mesmerising world created by the author while there are others who can pick up the same book and be lulled into sweet slumber in under five minutes.

And then these people end up marrying one another.

Science explains that opposites attract.

 

Luckily, the matrimonial rollercoaster on its railroad to an exhilarating ride with unexpected tight turns, inversions and stomach-churning slopes possesses the power to transform two individuals locked in love to tweak their personalities in order to sustain two worlds under the same roof.

Even Bollywood has never dared to cross over the threshold of life past the happy and dramatic union of the hero and the heroine’s love conquering all odds amid music, drama and dancing about trees in designer wear into the monotony of a real life where sustaining marriage and children amid boring routines becomes the norm.

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Could that be the reason why research shows that the longer you are with your partner, the more you begin to resemble one another?

Or is it that thrown under the same roof, sharing similar experiences, food and thoughts day after day — you end up emulating your partner’s frown.

Coming to think of it, I now enjoy watching movies as much as the husband has learned to pick up a book. I am less sceptical about trying a new restaurant while I believe practice has forced him to pretend that he has not noticed the ‘charring’ of the dish that I have called ‘a little over-cooked’ or ‘caramelised’.

It is good that even though we share routines, children and a home, we hold on to a little mind of our own and speak it out too. For, we even disagree on the same topics!

But there are some traits that even matrimony or years of togetherness cannot change.

Like a question, “How was your trip?” that would have lasted a good fortnight, can elicit nothing more than a clipped “Good”. A little coaxing and fretting (read whining, moaning and grumbling) can manage just about a full sentence or two.

While a question in return about my days in his absence can bring about an animated and elaborate explanation about every morsel that my hands have painfully cooked, every individual that I have met, every speck of dust that has been wiped clean and every job that has been successfully accomplished with nothing more than just about a nod in return.

Or the fact that he can sit for hours basking in the glow of the screen before him and manage to efficiently toggle between three jobs with relative ease, but conveniently overlook the painstaking effort that has gone into transforming the chaotic mess amid juggling between two children with varied interests — one intent on gobbling up books while the other determined on wrecking every room with her creative mess, into a beautiful home.

But coming to think of it, I would be worried if he were to bring out the entire cupboard on display every time he makes a trip matching every shirt and pant checking which goes with what for hours at end like I am often known to do.

Or if he decided to rant on about his trip covering every detail leaving me too exhausted to talk about mine.

Or if his meticulous eyes do not miss that inconspicuous blemish or crease in a freshly pressed dress when I seek his honest opinion just like how brutally honest I am known to become when he seeks mine.

Then the both of us would be locked in a marriage of boring similarities and develop the same worry lines until one day someone will take pity on us and exclaim, “Oh! How much you resemble each another.”

 

This is an article that was published in the Off the Cuff section of the Gulf News. Click here to view original post.

Happy Morning, my dear friends! All you happily 😉 married couples out there. Let me know what you think.

Have a wonderful Sunday!

 

Ushering in the holiday routine

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The air-conditioner has been purring unobtrusively as it does all through the day, transforming our home into a winter wonderland, while the two potted plants in the balcony have sadly wilted either under the care of my not-so-green fingers or due to the sweltering heat.

The thermostat has been set to 24 degrees so as to ensure that the husband will not be in for a rude shock at the sight of the electricity bill by which time the children and I will be temporarily relocating (vacationing) to parents’ and in-laws’ homes, where we will carry on with the same tasks, routines and life in general to a different venue — until schools reopen.

Last year, after the monsoons wreaked havoc, I stacked our suitcases with winter clothes only to have warm sunny days ahead of us. Parents and relatives cheerily said that we had brought along sunshine into their cold and damp days, while my children perspired swathed as they were in their winter clothing, leaving the thirsty mosquito party singing their song of frustration.

So this year, I have packed for every conceivable weather condition,  along with medication to combat every sort of illness or rash that usually return untouched save for the antacids that come in handy every time I lose sleep after Little Princess coughs or Sid gets a mosquito bite.

As much as I wish to travel light, the ‘weight’ of my packing hits me at the baggage carousel upon our arrival when I invariably need a few strong helping hands to successfully mount them on airport trolleys.

In the days of yore, summer holidays meant train travels with suitcases operated on number locks, a basket full of homemade food and coolers filled to the brim with water.

Upon our arrival to grandmother’s home, the grown-ups got busy catching up with their siblings, leaving us cousins to pick up from where we had left our exploration of the vast property the previous summer.

We enjoyed our days amid the thicket of mango grooves. The adults rarely fussed over us and our interactions were limited to meal times and disastrous afternoons when we were caught raiding grandmother’s store stacked with goodies.

We lived in perfect harmony alongside the mosquitoes and the rare bugs. Upon our return, we sported a healthy tan, our limbs strong and mouths bearing the stains of mango sap from days spent climbing trees and greedily devouring mangoes.

Today, my children need me to guide them through the routine even during the summer break while we get together with another nuclear family living their carefully charted routine in a small houses that boasts of a vegetable patch and a mango tree.

The children are jumpy at the sight of mosquitoes and terrified of croaking toads.  Sun downs include closing every window and covering every crevice that might allow the villain mosquito into a home that houses two children with sweet blood.

Luckily, the children can continue to sleep soundly under the purr of air-conditioners that often leave us with frost bites by the early morning hours, but ensure that the stray mosquito that ventured into our repellent-barricaded fortress has failed to get its fill of sweet blood as it froze under its icy grip.

This is an extract from a piece that was published on August 11,2018, in the Gulf News. Click here to read the original piece.

 

Good morning friends! It is wonderful to be back to the wonderful virtual world after a long break. A big thank you to all of those who tried to reach me to find out if all was well. I have just returned after a long holiday and will be slowly and steadily be making up for all that I have missed during my absence.

Until then, wishing you all a very happy Sunday!

A stitch in time that would have saved a ‘Messi’ day

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Needle work and me — we have a very complicated history.

I wish it was a beautiful complication like Sleeping Beauty that culminated in a happily-ever-after.

Mine always wound up in a tangled disaster. The school deemed it compulsory to take up ‘Needle Art’ as part of the ‘Art’ curriculum. We girls did not take up this cause and wish to make a choice between ‘Innovation’ or ‘Robotics’ as my children can on this day as this was a time when a sewing machine, not a computer, held a pride of place in every household.

Grandmother had a flair for creating magic with a needle. Mother inherited grandmother’s culinary skills, but not her dainty fingers that worked its magic on pillowcases that still adorn some of the beds in our ancestral home.

It makes me wonder where I stand with respect to inheritance.

Mrs Sharma, our art teacher, had explained that needle work only required choosing the right needle from the kit and then developing an endearing friendship with it. Together, you and your needle, she had said, can sew wonders.

I became friends with the scissor. It was an easier friendship — one that did not require choosing from a box full of them and cutting was easier than stitching.

After weeks of creating absurd patterns, I once happened to embroider a single perfect red flower — so much so, that my handiwork brought tears to my eyes. After all a teeny-weeny part of grandmother’s gene had seeped in and had finally been rendered awake.

When I excitedly showed it off to the teacher, she turned it over and shook her head in dismay. Her eyes only saw the tangled mess on the behind. Needle art had to be perfect on both sides, she had said sighing. On that day I understood that it was impossible to make a grown-up happy as in their search for absolute perfection, the beauty of imperfection was lost.

I spent the rest of Mrs Sharma’s classes with my dear friend — the scissor.

When the Fifa World Cup fever gripped the world and our household, Sid pulled out his lucky Messi 10 jersey from the depths of his cupboard. That day, I noticed a single stitch by the shoulder that screamed red. ‘A stitch in time’, I heard Mrs Sharma’s warning, but chose not to take heed and did what I usually do — pretend that my eyes had not seen it.

Day after day, my eyes unintentionally caught sight of that single stitch, but I quickly averted my line of sight and continued the exercise in pretence even when one stitch ran into three.

On the day of Argentina vs Iceland match, the jersey ripped open at the shoulder. That evening, as I faltered with a needle and a thread, Lionel Messi missed a penalty kick and his team settled for a draw. By now, Mrs Sharma’s finger-wagging look had rented a permanent space in my head.

Even in sport, there are some aspects that can be logically or scientifically explained — like Pele’s famed banana kick (an off-centre kick that causes the ball to change direction midair before dropping to the ground) that works under the Bernoulli effect while there are others that have no logic at all — like a torn ‘lucky’ jersey, that could not be worn by a little Messi fan sitting half a world away, that is believed to have stood between Messi and his missed penalty.

As Sid sulked, I gingerly requested the tailor down the road if he would undertake the trivial task of sewing the jersey. The kind gentleman took less than a minute to complete the task and even refused to charge me. I stood there embarrassed coaxing him to accept something.

“It was a breather, a minute away from monotony,” he said smilingly.

I thanked him wondering if I could ever say that for myself.

 

Dear Friends, this has been published in the Gulf News. To read the article click here.

Wishing you a wonderful Sunday!

 

 

Swimming against the tide of multitaskers

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It takes a village to raise a child but only a pasta advertisement starring Roger Federer to get Sid to wonder if his Indian-pancake-craving taste buds are willing to try Barilla pasta.

During the T20 World Cup, the little Dhoni fan wondered if ceiling fans back home can operate with a remote after watching the Indian Captain’s ‘smart’ fan advert while Little Princess pointed to a sunscreen lotion at the supermarket that an IPL team promises was their secret to a blemish-free tan-free complexion even after sweating it out in the sun for hours at length on the field.

With the football fever gripping the world, luckily, the footballers are not multitasking and the focus is on the game.

Whether it is being Captain Cool who can endorse brands as well as lift the T20 World Cup or an age-defying Tennis star who can cook Barilla pasta between securing the No.1 spot yet again, from a supermom whose KPIs (key performance indicators) at work are as good as her perfectly run household to being able to toggle between Twitter, Instagram and FB in the company of real friends  – Multitasking is the word of the smart world.

But what if you think it is okay to take a break – even from what you believe is your passion – simply because there are tasks screaming for your attention and people who need you more.

And so I decided to take that break from what gives me inexplicable joy and wings to wander far.

While I retrace my footsteps that are longing to get back into the wonderful world of the written word, thank you my dear friends for leaving your feedback on the Thank you! post.

Happy Sunday!

A special thanks to my dear friend, Nithya, who took time to read at least a dozen old posts reminding me that ‘world of words’ is never far behind!

Thank you!

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When Little Princess’s world expanded from the confines of our home into the exciting world of Kindergarten, she first tasted the sweetness of friendship and the bitterness of fights.

Soon enough, she found her ‘best friend’. The girls were inseparable; however, the days when her bestie did not show up, the void was occupied by another ‘best friend’ who suited her needs for that one day.

As for us grown ups living in a virtually connected world, making friends is a mere click away.

It takes people with a singular passion for the written word to contrive an alluring world of fantasy and imagination that are skillfully woven into delicately beautiful strings of meaningful poetry, prose and stories.

And I am glad to be a proud citizen of this creative world.

It has been two wonderful years since I wrote my first post (after months of contemplation) and hit the ‘publish’ button.

As I fumbled through the expanse of the blogosphere, I found new friends who read, encouraged and paved the path for me to tread on my journey with hope and confidence.

Realizing my dream – one post at a time – has given more meaning to life as it opened doors to sweet friendship and unimaginable opportunities.

Thank you, dear friends, for your time, support and your valuable feedback.

It means the world to me!

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