Category Archives: #IndiBlogger

The silver lining in the dark clouds of misery

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Indu auntie and her family left the bustling city life in Bengaluru  to recede into a quiet life caring for her ageing parents in their grand ancestral home that had sheltered more than one generation below its sloping roofs that overlooked the Kalpathy river flowing gently under the canopy of the Kerala skies.

Her husband, a renowned professor, spent his time tending to the lush vegetable patch when he was not at college or the outhouse — that doubled as his office with rooms that treasured an abundance of literature handpicked by the professor himself — coaching students who aspired to earn a doctoral degree.

The ancestral home, an architectural marvel built in sync with the local weather and topography, had stood tall through many monsoons when rains pelted the slates on the sloping rooftop for days on end and kept the inmates cool during the long rigorous days of summer.

Aunt Indu’s words laced with pride whenever she spoke about the great flood of 1990s, when the Periyar river breached its banks in 1924, when her home and hearth had provided the homeless with food and shelter until the waters receded.

Decked in traditional artefacts, antiques and heavy furniture, every piece was steeped in history with a story that tickled pleasant childhood memories.

Unexpected showers in the otherwise dry Palakkad district this summer were a welcome relief. On the day the shutters of the Malampuzha dam were opened amid heavy downpour, the Kalpathy river swelled. Indu auntie’s day transformed into one that will be etched in her memory forever as furious undercurrents dragged with them her daughter while it ravaged her home stripping it off every piece of memory that the years had treasured.

A rescue team that comprised a group of young men from the locality fought the raging waters to drag her daughter back to terra firma while an authorised rescue force carried her bedridden father and ailing mother to safe quarters.

Her words laced with the horror of that day spilled over a crackling phone line while she and her family spent their days in a relative’s home, waiting for the waters to recede while we ourselves spent despondent nights peeking out of the window to keep a check on the water levels as the downpour showed no sign of abating.

When the waters receded, they went back to a skeleton of a house whose walls are now etched with stories of raging currents that had snatched away or left behind a soggy mess in its wake.

Her husband spends his days restoring the vegetable patch and empty shelves that once housed a treasure trove of literature.

Yet, she explains cheerfully: “It took a natural disaster to bring out the best in humanity for help was always at hand. I can replace all that I have lost, but will be forever grateful that I still have my daughter beside me.”

Nature is the best teacher for even in her fury she leaves behind a message for humanity, who has tested her patience in the name of progress, that if we do not reform our ways then we will have to submit ourselves to her wrath and teach the generations to come that all that they proudly call their own is but a mirage that is fleeting and impermanent.

There is still time, perhaps, for us to amend and watch nature sing her melodious tunes of healing.

The above is an excerpt from a publication in the Gulf News. Click here for the full article. 

Good morning! Hope you all are having a wonderful Sunday. Will be at all your spaces soon to catch up on all that I have missed.

 

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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.

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!

To the Mother with Love

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It has been more than a year since my cousin’s wedding and that dreaded phone call from Father. While I presumed that my parents were enjoying the grandeur of a big fat Indian wedding, Mother had been silently nursing a gnawing discomfort in her stomach.

By the end of the three-day celebration and after concerned relatives had packed and left, Mother’s agony pushed her to visit a doctor.

Hospitalisation in a place far from home quickly followed surgery.

Mother has always been petrified of doctors and hospitals. Whenever the situation to visit a doctor arose, she would cook up a list of excuses and if that failed she escaped into the confines of her sacred space — the kitchen — and cooked up a storm.

Entrapped in the trance of her culinary magic, we succumbed to her excuses. In hindsight, we had come to believe that Mother had a solution to all her problems — just as she always had one for ours.

Her efforts were always taken for granted until it was my turn to wear Mother’s hat.

I now know that patience is a virtue and not a boon that a new Mother is granted after the birth of her first child; that none of the objects that are strewn about after a busy morning grew legs and walked back into place and that it takes love, attention and effort to transform a house into a home.

Post her surgery and recovery, we have understood that Mother is no magic machine and like one of us, she too requires to be cared and sometimes coaxed into ensuring that she is well taken care of.

While she has learnt that her one-size-fits-all remedies might only give her more time at the hospital dreading needles and doctors, away from her favourite space — the kitchen — and to find it topsy-turvy after she makes a comeback.

After her new-found life lesson, Mother made that much-needed dental appointment. She must have been a dentist’s dream for she has quickly elevated to becoming a priority patient.

Dear Mothers, your efforts are often taken for granted as it is your children’s way of reassuring themselves that you are always there for them.

While you continue to love, fret and worry for your children even years after they have left home, it will give your children immense happiness and relief if you were to take care of yourself too.

Here is a reminder that you are a woman like no other and will always hold a special place in your children’s heart!

 

Dear Friends,

This is an extract from the article published in the Gulf News. To view the full article please click here.  Wishing your Mommy and all the lovely Mommies in the blogosphere a very happy Mother’s Day. 

 

The Conspiracy of Time Keepers

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There once was a red timepiece,

That clocked my childhood days,

The dainty golden needles,

Dancing about in circles at a leisurely unhurried pace.

 

That same red clock,

That one reliable of them all,

It’s still dainty needles have alarmingly picked up pace,

Running about in circles, as if in an endless race.

 

From the little timepieces to the Big Ben that stands tall,

From my favorite red clock to the intricate designer time piece on the wall,

These keepers of time are conspiring against human race,

For sane adults are seen hurrying about life at a frantic pace.

 

And when the screen entices the deprived mind and the frustrated soul,

Hypnotizing the eager spirit under its glowing spell,

The conspiring time keepers malevolently intervene,

Dissolving minutes into hours like a magician in a dispelling act.

 

While we spend our waking hours ruled by these time keepers, here are a few tips to outdo these conspirators,

Try easing those eyes off the enticing and exciting mirage of the virtual world and take a good look around,

The joys of real friendship, true love, innocence of a child and the sounds of nature are still to be found.

Lending a helping hand, enjoying a good laugh, a solitary walk under the stars still rejuvenates the deprived soul.

 

And what is more,

I have often noticed that these little acts of ‘real’ joy,

Force the dainty golden needles of my red clock that is locked in an eternal race,

To dance in circles at an unhurried leisurely pace.

 

 

 

A Walk to the Post Office Down Memory Lane

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'They're extinct now but when I was young you'd find these everywhere...let's go to the next gallery they've got a 'bobby on the bear' and a 'postman' there.'

As I go about like clockwork with the very boring but constant sequence of actions in life that calls itself routine, I hear the familiar ‘ping’ on the phone.

This should be Mother sending in her good morning message with one question that when answered will quickly be followed by a series of ten or more questions that usually revolve about the general well being of my family here and me.

This ‘ping’ could also be a message from a friend or one more to add to the endless stream of messages from the seemingly polite but consistent banking or business sectors who have shown keen interest in my welfare and prosperity.

In the days of yore, the midday cycle bell that announced the arrival of the postman was one Mother looked forward to and got us children racing one another to bring home heartfelt stories and messages transcribed in flowery handwriting that had travelled far inside sealed inlands and envelopes.

If our postman was the bearer of the dreaded telegram, he waited until the seal was opened to unveil its brief contents. He offered his condolences if the news was bad, but good news ensured a cup of tea or a sweet and a tip.

This was a time when red post boxes dotted every street. A time when we poured our heart, vented our sorrows and shared our joys and woes on paper and when securing a government job was the final destination in every job seeker’s journey.

In a shrinking world where we are under the spell of technology locking our eyes with screens rather than humans and establishing firm relationships with devices rather than people, are we tunnelling our lives into the confines of our digital caves?

Even as we embrace the ease of the technological revolution and social networking, should not we exercise prudence in its use driving home the same to the generation that will follow us? Will robots be the most valuable companions of our future when we wake up from our digitally-induced dream? Will I, like my mother, wait hours to receive a single line of hope from my busy daughter?

Another ‘ping’ and I pick up the phone and smile at Mother’s messages, quickly typing in a sweet response. I know that my answer to one of her queries will balloon into a full-fledged conversation.

But that is what makes a conversation with Mother so special.

 

Good Morning dear Friends, hope you are all having a wonderful Sunday. This is an extract from my publication in the ‘Off the Cuff’ section of the Gulf News. For the full article please click here.

When I think that I can think no more

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"We interrupt this program because we've completely run out of ideas."

I have been basking in the eerie glow of my laptop screen, my mind as blank as the glowing screen before me.

Like the taps at Cape Town, my creative tap that occasionally drips a trickle of quirky tales has – to my dismay – dried up.

I am oddly reminded of Father’s bike that used to refuse to kick start on a cold winter morning.

I panic at a fleeting thought of ‘Day Zero’ – when my creative tap would dry out for good.

I wonder if I must choose to alternate cooking on odd days and engage the even ones in keeping up the connect between the creative tap and the well that churns mundane imperfections into bizarre tales.

I give up the idea at the thought of the husband and son enjoying greasy takeaways.

I wonder if Little Princess, who, I realize, has been frighteningly occupied, could shake up the dormant creative well.

She is seen creating ‘beauty’ in her room, that, for some strange reason appears as ‘mess’ to my eyes.

I wonder if this is what the ‘generation gap’ is all about.

Could it be old age setting in?

Just before launching into a careful scrutiny of my face for lines or worse – wrinkles, we clean up the creative mess and try something safer – coloring rabbits blue and the skies pink.

Luckily, lines and crow’s feet that are official markers to aging are yet to make an appearance and realization has dawned that creativity has little to do with age.

I am back behind the blank screen, my creative connection still undone.

I am beginning to empathize with the plumber who has failed to show up even after multiple calls to mend a dripping tap. Today, I love dripping taps.

While I am off on a quest for creative inspiration, let me know what you think of this one.

Dear Friends, Wishing you all a happy Sunday.  My heartiest wishes to  all those who are celebrating their New Year.