Tag Archives: #Gulfnews

Change begins at home and it begins now

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One balmy winter morning when Father had been in one of his relaxed moods willing to listen and tell his two little children stories while my brother and I seized the moment asking away everything we knew would otherwise be met with a stern look of disapproval, I had asked him whom he loved more – my brother or me?

“You both are like my two eyes. How can I favour one eye over the other,” he had answered lovingly as I beamed with joy, gleefully throwing my arms around him.

For me, even as a child, his words were an assurance that he did not see me any differently than he saw my brother.

When our son, Sid, was born, as first-time parents, our world unconsciously condensed into our little bundle of joy. During the months that had led to his birth, we built tall dreams, made unreasonable promises and vowed to soak up in every moment with our precious bundle.

Within a week into the soak-up-in-every-moment phase, I had wised up to those lines. Motherhood was beyond what I had envisaged – it was extremely rewarding and absolutely draining, immensely exciting but equally terrifying and often felt so easy yet totally confusing.

We pampered him with the finest toys but Sid was smitten with playing a noisy game of clanging pots and pans from the kitchen cabinet and the toys remained untouched.

A few years later, when we thought that we had seen it all, Little Princess made her arrival. That moment when we first laid our eyes on her was as extraordinary as it had been with my son. Our experience did not deter us from building tall dreams; making unreasonable promises and vowing to soak up every moment – only that we hoped to do it better.

Luckily the experience and the exercise in patience with our first born came in handy with our second. The miniature superheroes and cars that had remained untouched took to her fancy while the perfectly pretty dolls that she received as gifts failed to get her attention.

If one preferred to devour books, the other enjoyed shredding them.

They were born five days apart on different years yet are as different as chalk and cheese. It has been easy for me to accept them as two individuals as my brother and I have very little in common too.

Today, two children later, the weight of Father’s words resonates better and reinforces the fact that we can never see our children differently.

If I expect my daughter to undertake a responsibility in our home, I would expect my son to do the same as they both will need to be able to shoulder bigger responsibilities in the future.

If my son has a dream which he wishes to fulfil, my daughter is bound to have one too!

It is not about flexing muscles with the other gender or competing to be better than the other but about respecting the other and their choices as much as we would expect to be respected. Beauty lies in the fact that men and women are equally complex and made very different from one another, but it takes them both to complete the circle of life.

Here is a reminder to me as much as it is to you – if we wish to see the change in the generations to come, we must become the change by teaching our sons to respect women as much as we would teach our daughters to respect themselves as they would the men around them.

It all begins at home and it begins now!

Hello, WP World, it is so good to get back here. Will reach out to all of you soon!

This piece was first published in the Off the Cuff section of the Gulf News. Please click here for the link.

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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.

 

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!

Save the Earth! It is the only planet with chocolate….

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"The doctor said I need more calcium, so I'm switching from dark to milk chocolate."

What do you do when you know that global warming could target one of the sweetest solutions you have always counted on — that chocolate (or the cocoa plant) is at a risk of extinction in a few decades?

I decided to drown my melancholy in an entire bar of chocolate that I realised at the other side of my criminally-calorific break must have been saved up by one of my children.

Luckily, the brain had me covered with the build-up of the goodness of endorphins and serotonin that magically transformed my guilt and melancholy into an inexplicable feeling of warmth and goodness — albeit temporarily.

The word ‘chocolate’ itself feels like an invitation to joy, happiness and a reason to smile, unlike words like ‘eggplant’ that causes a certain adult and a child in my household to try hard to keep up a straight face and suffer from a sudden onset of ‘loss of appetite’ while the other child — who is still on the road to learning the tricks of the trade — is seen to scream her disapproval.

Chocolate comes wrapped in the pleasures of delicious moments that trigger sweet childhood memories.

Being the Five-Star and Dairy Milk generation of kids, my cousins and I willingly shared our clothes and sometimes even our homework but fought tooth and nail for a fair share of the rare chocolate treat that was painstakingly divided to the last millimetre.

On the bright side, it was during these rare moments that we put every apparatus in our mathematical instrument box and our math skills to good use.

Summer vacations meant freedom from school work and hovering in stealth mode near my aunt’s refrigerator trying to get our hands inside the colourful tins of chocolate that it treasured — the wrappers of which were saved away between the pages of our notebooks where both its ‘chocolatey’ scent and memory lingered on for days

Along with chocolate are coffee, potatoes, apples among many others in the global food chain that are found to be at a risk of extinction. While the company, Mars, is working on using scientific methodologies like the gene-editing technology to aid in developing plants that will be able to survive in the expected conditions, we have one more ‘sweet’ reason to do our bit in saving our home from the devastating effects of global warming.

As for me, the gnawing grief is making a comeback with the effect of the ‘happy chemicals’ waning. Now if you will excuse me, I need to grab another bar.

 

This is an extract from the publication in the Off the Cuff column of The Gulf News. For the entire article please click here.

Wishing you all a very Happy Easter!

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