Category Archives: Inspiration

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.

 

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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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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.

Change Begins at Home and it Begins Now

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When I enjoy writing quirky pieces of humor then why are my thoughts and words directed to a well of seriousness?

Is it because they involve a blood-curdling, stomach churning atrocity on an innocent eight-year-old and now an eight-month-old girl child?

Is it because it took a #nirbhaya, #kathua, #unnao and so many others that went unreported for lawmakers to be forced into taking more stringent legal provisions against these hideous crime?

Is it because I enjoyed a carefree childhood surrounded by adults who only saw a little girl at play and absolutely nothing more?

Is it because? Never mind.

While we raise our voices against the din of injustice, are we doing enough to bring a change in our own homes?

What about those men who deem it their right to a place on the table first with a piping hot meal served to them with all the women in close attendance to wait on them while even the pregnant woman gets her turn only after the men have had the lion’s share?

Or that parent-doting son who sucks up every iota of his parent’s attention and love simply because he becomes the rightful heir to the Patriarchal throne while the daughters are a mere responsibility who have to be safely married off.

Or the daughter-in-law who silently bears the brunt of becoming the inevitable punching bag of the men and even the other women in the family for every misfortune that has occurred since her arrival into her husband’s household.

If we do not stand up against these barbaric acts against women and the girl child now, we are not human enough.

Change begins at home and it begins now.