Saturday, December 7, 2013

Taking the Plunge

***Should I? Am I ready? What if it doesn’t work out?

My mind was busy fighting these demons, while my heart had just broken into an impromptu jig. Violins were playing in the background as cupid lovingly aimed his arrow at me, while creatures from my mind were engaged in shooing him away.

And then, my heart won the battle. The deal was sealed. I was going to be a bride.***


I woke up, unable to breathe. I fumbled around for my water bottle, trying to wipe the sweat trickling down behind my ears. It was pitch dark. I slid my hand on the bed in the hope of finding my mobile, and instead, I found his hand. He woke up, realising something was amiss. I tried to tell him what happened, but my voice ditched me. He understood. He patted my back till I was fine, rubbed my freezing hands till they were warm and comforted me to sleep.

Nightmares are no longer as scary as they used to be. I know when I am woken up by one, I have someone who’ll say, “It’s alright, I’m right here.” That’s the advantage of being married. Your special someone is always by your side when the times are scary.

That’s the comfort cushion that every wedding comes with. Yes, there are responsibilities, but there’s also someone to share them with. My wedding not just gave me a husband, it also gave me a best friend and a roomie, all rolled into one. There was a time when I would look around for company, eyeing all the coochie-cooing couples with envy. Now, I don’t even notice them. There was a time when what people spoke behind my back used to drive me crazy. Now, I just don’t care. I have better things to do, better people to think about.

I’m not going through the best phase of my life. Financially and health-wise, I’m yet to reach a stage where I can be happy. But, emotionally, I’m in a place when I can take a deep breath and say I’m content. I have invested my love and affection in the right kind of people, and hadn’t it been for my wedding with Harish, I wouldn’t have had such a wonderful family and such a crazy bunch of friends.

I’m calmer now. The storm within me has subsided. I know I am with the right person; someone, who’s stood by my side despite all odds. Someone, who knew me, but still had the guts to decide that he wants to spend the rest of his life with me. Someone, I trust blindly. And in the tug of war between ego and relationships, I have my priority list sorted. My family, my husband and my friends come first. Everything, literally everything, comes later.

A year after wearing the garbs of a traditional Indian wife, I would be blatantly lying if I said I wasn’t apprehensive at all. Dedicating an entire lifetime to a man seemed a bit bizarre, if not more. Cooking for him, living with him, deciding with him and living for him -- would I be able to manage? But seeing him stand by me through one of the most difficult times of my life, I knew what my heart was whispering to me was indeed right.

Yes, we’ve had our share of fights and arguments. But what’s life without some mischief? But at the end of all of it, when I race out to the balcony when he’s leaving for office, just to wave at him and I see him standing there, looking at me, I know nothing can come between a strong relationship. That’s when you pack the ‘you’ and ‘I’ and replace it with ‘us’.

And despite all the questions of concern that my brain was shooting at me, I’m glad I took the plunge. I’m stronger, wiser and happier now.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Pass, ya fail?

***The buzzing intensified. Paper balls flew around. Little kids dressed in blue and white swarmed in and out of the classroom. And suddenly, the buzzing died; the kids dropped everything and made a beeline for their respective seats. “Good morning, ma’am,” the kids sang. The teacher was in, carrying a bundle of white papers. Answersheets.

I sat, shifting my bum from side to side, meddling with my plait. The class was so silent that I could hear my heart thump violently. One by one, each student was called to the teacher’s desk and handed the paper. As each one of them took that long walk back to their seats, I observed their faces -- some beamed, others hung their heads in shame. Pass, ya fail, what will I be doing in a while, I wondered, making the heart protest a little faster.

“Parvathy, come,” the teacher said, waking me up from my reverie. I walked, my hands freezing. With trembling fingers, I took the answersheet from her. And there it was, inside that big red circle. 49 out of 50. I rolled my eyes upwards and my lips curved into a smile. I wanted to run back to ammai, to show her my marks…our marks, ammai’s and mine.

As ammai came back from office, I jumped like a little kitten and handed it to her. “Ammai, 49 out of 50, see,” I said and looked at her face. She was grinning, ear-to-ear. “I got the highest, ammai,” I said, but quickly corrected myself. “WE got the highest,” I said and the pride on her face made me happier than the marks did. Ammai and I, always a team. She taught, I learned, we achieved…***


Things have changed. The little girl with plaits is now a woman with slightly shorter, layered hair. The lessons are different, and so are the exams. The answersheets aren’t distributed anymore. But one thing hasn’t changed. Ammai and I, we are still a team. She teaches, I learn, we achieve.

In a week’s time, ammai will be in Hyderabad for the first time. Whatever she has taught me over the years, whatever I have learnt by silently observing the way she runs the house, all of that have been tested over the past one year. It’s time for the answersheet, the results. As ammai comes home, she will deliver the verdict, whether I have been able to learn whatever she taught me. Pass, ya fail -- ammai,that you will decide...

Am I nervous? Oh hell yes, I am. I have always tried to be like her, to make her proud. Before putting the dosa batter inside the fridge, I ensure that there’s no batter sticking outside the dabba, just like you do, ammai...Before going on a trip, I clean all the little dabbas in the kitchen, and make sure all the dishes are cleaned, dried and placed in their respective shelves, just like you do, ammai. I place the broom handle-side on the floor, make sure that the dishes are dry before I stack them away. I ensure that the bedsheets have no creases when spread over the mattresses, fold the clothes neatly so that I needn’t iron them. I wash the pans first, plates and cups next and the spoons and ladles last. Just like you do, ammai…

When you step into our Hyderabad home, I hope you see a glimpse of yourself in everything I do. That is what you have taught me, ammai; that is what I have learnt. And that, only that, is what I want to achieve, what We want to achieve.

And even though I have learnt a lot, there’s a long way to go. Our home in Hyderabad is my answersheet ammai, and it waits to you to access it, evaluate it. I’m not expecting a 50 out of 50, I’m far from perfect...But then, we are a team, remember, ammai...Teach me and I’ll learn. And together, the 50 out of 50 will be ours...

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Of Dum Biriyani and Dumdaar Dosti!

“Hey, how much should I pay you,” Harish asks. The guy in the sweatshirt nods his head, looks animatedly towards the ceiling, taps his chin with his finger and says, “I forgot!” Harish looks at the lady, expecting her to give a straight answer. She shakes her head promptly, from left to right, tightlipped. “Hey, this is not fair,” protests Harish, saying, “This is our dinner party, we should be paying for the biriyani!” The lady smiles the best of her trademark smiles. “Tera party, humara party, it’s the same thing yaar. Abb tu hume paise dega, do packet biriyani ka,” she says. The guy in the sweatshirt smiles, ‘#win’, written all over his face…

There are friends who are the typical ‘you pay for what you’ve eaten, I’ll pay for mine’ and then there are friends for whom money, bills, calculations hardly ever matter.

Meet Sangee (Sangeeta) and Srikkanth, two of our closest friends in Hyderabad. Yes, of dum biriyani and dumdaar dosti. Here’s where it begins.

Hyderabad. I’d heard a lot about it, and I couldn’t wait to finally start living here. Afterall, ‘home’ is where the heart and the sweetheart, both of them are. As we inched closer to my ‘new’ home, I couldn’t conceal the excitement bubbling inside me. I didn’t know how it would be. Two feet-like floral patterns on the floor (one big, the other, slightly smaller) greeted me as soon as I was ushered in. A beautiful cake, a big bottle of mineral water and a decorated bedroom...I looked at Harish, puzzled. Yes, friends...they were the ones who had arranged my ‘homecoming’ beautifully!

When the first weekend plan was rolled out, I was a bit sceptical. “Will they like me?” was a question that kept bugging me. Over the next few crazy weekends spent digging into biriyanis, rumali rotis and other sinfully edible stuff, I discovered home. A home filled with peals of laughter over dumb charades, anecdotes and food. A home filled with friends.

When a friend spends her entire Sunday baking a cute little cake for your big day,
you’ve got to understand that you’re talking about someone who’s just a part of ‘guestlist’. She’s family. When a friend travels three hours one way from Warangal after a two-hour class early in the morning, just to honour your invitation, and rushes back to another three-hour journey to teach at 6.30 the next morning, he’s not just another friend. He’s a yo-bro! When a new friend takes all the liberty to walk into your kitchen to conduct a raid and then emerges with a victory sign pasted on his face saying, “Look what I found here -- toffees!” you can be sure he’s in the league of these special people. Sangee, Srikkanth, Avinash, Avinash Chapter II, Rajgo, I dare not call you ‘just friends’...

And then, there is an extended family. The Abhyaas family. It’s like my second home. From a welcome lunch to get-togethers celebrating every milestone that Abhyaas crosses, I’m never left out from any activity that Abhyaas conducts. Enough for me to smile the biggest of my smiles when I see Abhyaas ads anywhere on the streets. Naresh, Sirisha, Rakesh, Sahitya, Padma, Sonal, Venkatesh, Sahiti, Hari...thank you for welcoming me to the Abhyaas family with so much of warmth.

And then, I bumped into this wonderful lady, Bhavana. Warm, caring, vocal, knowledgeable. The activist. She’s inspired me to be like her -- fearless and fantastic!

Yes, Hyderabad is a great place. Great because I no longer feel alien here. Great because it has given me great friends. Great, because it’s home.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Connected virtually, dis-connected literally!

She looked at the teenager with her inquisitive eyes, the lines on her forehead becoming even more prominent as her eyebrows came together, expressing her disapproval. She tilted her nodding head and tapped her on her shoulder with her trembling fingers, asking, “What are you doing?” The teenager didn’t bother to look up. “Uff, give me a second, daadi. I’m facebooking,” she said. The wrinkles on the forehead had curiosity written all over it… “Face WHAT,” the 70-something asked and the teenager just got up and walked away. The inquisitiveness vanished as her eyes softened and became a shade blurred with the tears that were pooling inside...

Technology. It brings us closer, it seems. Really?

I pity the teenager. A phone with a camera, andriod ‘kit kat’ (whatever that means), games, a plethora of applications. Fancy. I still pity her. She has no idea how special the conversations with grandmums are. The stories that they tell can’t be bookmarked for a leisurely read. You’ve got to go with the flow, honey. I pity the teenager, for she has no idea how great she would have felt had she spent some time with her grandmum, making her feel wanted. That’s what they want. They’re not asking us for expensive gifts or world tours. All they want is some time with us and that’s probably the least we can do for them.

Time. Comes with a pretty heavy price tag. We have all the time in the world to sit in front of the laptop for hours, liking photos and updating silly status messages, but time to spend with our loved ones? Heavy tag dangling? “Sorry, a little busy, ‘GTG’, TTYL”, is our standard reply.

The smileys have replaced the oh-so-enchanting smiles that used to trace their way to the twinkling eyes. Fun is ‘funner’ only when shared on facebook. Weddings aren’t solemnised until the facebook relationship status confirms so. Wooing, weddings, engagements, honeymoon -- facebook is a big slice of our lives.

Having a once-upon-a-time-fancy phone, I can easily connect with the daadi above. While every around is busy glued to their phones that come alive with a touch of their fingers, ‘connecting’ with people over WhatsApp, BBM, WeChat and what not, I sit, gazing at the ceiling, admiring the cobwebs in the corner with new-found interest, the frustration inside me bubbling and ready to burst like a volcano. I too want to ‘connect’, but these fancy applications, I have not. Am I not eligible for a ‘real’ connection, instead?

I try to talk to people, but end up talking to their heads instead, their faces, buried
inside their laptops, tablets or phones. I fidget. I don’t know what to do. I feel out-of-place, most of the times. I remain offline on chat, both on facebook and gtalk.
I have phone numbers of people I want to connect with, and so do they. Chats are tricky, as I have learnt the hard way. Once bitten, twice shy, I stay away from these virtual modes of communication.

Life is not all about telling the world ‘what’s on your mind’. Sometimes, the eyes say it all, but only if the other person can tear his or her eyes away from the phone. Talk to your mum, tell her what you’ve been upto. Walk over to your dad, tell him what you’re planning. Have your dinner from your grandmum’s hands, they’ll taste delicious. Go over to your friend’s place, gossip over a steaming plate of maggi. Take a walk with your husband, cook with him. Ditch your fancy gadgets and look around, you’ll hear birds chirping, kids laughing and you’ll see time slowing down…


Friday, November 22, 2013

My First Liebster Award!

And I got my first Liebster Award! yayy..!! Thank you so much Preethi VenuGopal



So, here it goes! Once someone is generous enough to present you with the Liebster Award, here are some steps that you will have to follow:

- Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog, linking their blog.

- Copy & Paste the award to your blog.

- Answer the questions the person (who has given you the award) has asked you

- Nominate 5 blogs to receive the award who have less than 3000 followers.

- Inform them of their nomination by leaving comment on their blog.

- Frame 11 questions for them to answer.

Here are the questions Preethi asked me:

1) What is your favorite place on earth?

My home. :)

2) What is your favorite colour?

Blue

3) Tell the first joke that came to your mind.

A husband takes the wife to a night club. There's aguy on the dance floor giving it big time. Break dancing, moon walking, back flips, the works!

The wife turns to her husband and says, "See that guy? 25 years ago he proposed to me and I turned him down!"

The husband says, "Looks to me like he's still celebrating!!!"

4) What do you tell people who dives in to give an advice which you do not need?

I smile politely, and say I'll try it. (But I try it only if I want to...what's teh harm in making people happy?)

5) What is your most cherished dream?

Becoming a good writer

6) Which fictional character do you find adorable?

Mr Bean :D

7) If you had the power to change a thing in this world what would you change?

Discrimination against women

8) Write the first two lines of the song that is on your mind now...

Oh ri chhori chichori chede hume chingam chabake

9) What is the one thing that you wish you had done differently?

Nothing. I have no regrets. :)

10) Why do you write?

That is the only one thing I ma supposedly good at! :D

Here are the bloggers I would like to nominate for the award.

Aliasgar Mukhtiar - http://farzanaaliasgarmukhtiar.blogspot.in/

Harish Bhardwaj - http://bhardwajharish.blogspot.in/

Nikhil - http://aficionadolog.blogspot.in/

joshi daniel - http://joshidaniel.com/

Aadil Bandukwala - http://bandukwala.org/

Sakshi Nanda - http://sakshinanda.blogspot.in/

Anuradha Khanna Pentapalli - http://www.fibromyalgiaawareness.com/

Purba Ray - http://www.purba-ray.com/

Gowtham - http://easyaptitudes.blogspot.in/

Preethi VenuGopal - http://tulipsandme.blogspot.in/

These are my questions for them:

1. What is more important -- being competitive, or being compassionate?

2. Why did you start blogging?

3. How does blogging help you?

4. If you could change something about you, what would it be?

5. Who is person you think about when you close your eyes?

6. What is your favourite dish?

7. Which is your favourite sitcom?

8. Which book are you reading now?

9. What are your hobbies?

10. What does this award mean to you?

Homecoming...

It looked as if the sky had wrapped itself with an expensive, sequined velvety black shawl. As we whirred off on our bike, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the beauty that was delightfully spread up right above my head...The sky, the stars, the moon, they commanded my attention, and I obliged, happily. As I was gazing at the sky, awestruck by it’s mesmerising beauty, I noticed a couple of flickering lights. “Is this some heavenly body,” I wondered, still in the trance that the movie Gravity had left me in. As I observed it for a while, I realised there was nothing heavenly about it, after all. It was more of an earthly object; it was a flight…

“It must be someone’s homecoming,” I thought, as I saw the flickering lights incline towards the horizon. “Someone would have returned home, someone would be rushing into the arms of their loved ones. Someone’s wait must have been over,” I thought, the lights disappearing from my vision. What a joy it is, to see the faces of loved ones, we have been away from for a while. The butterflies begin to flutter with new-found energy; the heart becomes an Usain Bolt, racing away...


I was back home, with my parents, for the first time after my wedding. A year. I had been away for a year and I just had a week’s time at my disposal. One week for one year. Unfair, isn’t it? And while I was getting fatter and lazier thanks to all the ghee-laced miracles that my mom and grannies whipped up for me in the kitchen, the dreaded Mr Time made an unwelcome appearance. He was looking at me, raising his eyebrow, wagging his fat finger at me saying, “Pack up, buddy, it’s time to go.”

“Time to go, already?” I protested, unable to bring myself to pack my suitcase. But, pack-up, I had to, for home, hubby and duties had come calling. He was alone, eating unhealthy stuff that the curry-points dished out. A part of me was longing to see him, while a part of me was crying. A part of me couldn’t wait to land in Hyderabad, while the other part, she dreaded the take off…

And Mr Time showed smirking face again. It was time to say the teary-goodbye. I tore my eyes away from my parents as I dragged myself into the glass structure, thinking, “Why, why? Why can’t I stay back?,” trying to gulp down that lump in my throat that threatened to snowball into a big one. My phone beeped; his picture flashed on the screen. “Haan ji,” I said, and I could trace the eagerness in his voice. “Done with your boarding,” he asked, and I said, “Almost.”

I looked behind, and I could see them, ammai wiping her eyes, appa, fidgeting. I wanted to rush back to them, but the eagerness in his voice was pulling me away…The duality in me couldn’t have been more profound…

As the houses in Guwahati became tiny dots from up there, the clouds eventually shielding them from my view, I suddenly couldn’t wait any longer to be with him. I touched down in Hyderabad, my ever-smiling husband ready to whisk me home. As we drove back, I realised that a bit of me lives here and a bit of me will live there…I was a daughter, a wife at the same time...

Homecoming, it was, indeed...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Stubbles and sensitivity

A man stands next to me in a crowded bus. My heart begins to thump loudly against my chest...from the corner of my eyes, I watch him, scared that he'll touch me or something. I bring my legs together, closer, tie my body into several knots to escape the creep, paranoid about my safety. Suddenly, I feel a brush against my shoulders; I turn around in a flash, only to notice that it is a woman’s handbag. I feel another contact on my shoulders, this time, it isn’t a mere brush...it’s more of a tap. I prepare myself mentally to beat the crap out of the creep...I’m sure it’s him. Making the angriest of all faces, I turn around, fuming, only to see a smiling face greet me. “Madam, yahaan seat khaali hain, aap baith jaiyiye,” he says, and then gets off. The guilt pangs are stronger than ever before.

We almost always give men suspecting glances. For us women, any unknown man is potential danger, most probably a pervert. But do we realise, that our husbands, fathers and brothers are also unknown men for other women? How would we feel if our brother got slapped by a woman, only on the basis of suspicion? Terrible, isn’t it?

Yesterday was International Men’s Day -- a day to celebrate the existence of the men folk. We often crib about them, wear the garbs of the bra burning feminists, but do we do much to appreciate them? Maybe we do, but I decided that I want to dedicate a blog post to some of the most important men in my life. They are the ones who pamper us, make us blush, protect us and lend their strong shoulders for us to cry on.

Dads are the little girls’ first and most favourite heroes. More often than not, they paint the picture of their dream man on a canvas with their fathers as the model. I did, too. My dad is the quieter one in the family. My mom and I, we are chatterboxes. He isn’t too ambitious; he takes life as it comes, sans expectations from anyone. While ammai would be very strict and particular about my grades, appa would just say, “Try not to fail!”. Being the only child, who was born to them after four years of their wedding, appa never missed out on any chance to play the doting dad. Everyday, when he returned from work, there would be a little packet of goodies for me. Big, small, expensive, cheap -- it didn’t matter; he would get me something, every single day. Without fail. One day, as he walked into the house, he didn’t look at me, at all. I looked at his hands, there was no packet. There was nothing for me. My heart broke...you know why? Not because appa didn’t get me anything, but because, I saw him crying. For the first time in my life...he cried because he didn’t have the money to buy even a toffee. I cried because he cried…

The other day, one of my worst fears came true. I realised I was jobless, again. I didn’t know what to do. The tears started streaming down, silently. My husband walked upto me, gave me a warm hug and sat beside me, patting my back and stroking my hair, till the lips stopped quivering, till the tears dried up and till he could hear my croaky voice again. He didn’t say a word, he just smiled at me and that spoke for him. He makes me feel beautiful (even though I’m not), he flaunts the lunch I cook for him, and encourages me to do whatever I enjoy doing. He lets me be the child I am, pampering me, loving me and understanding me…

Being a single child, my cousin is the only brother I have. We might not share the bhaiyya mere rakhi ke bandhan ko nibhana moments, we don’t even call or text each other regularly. But I know one thing for sure, if I am in a spot of bother, he’s one of my safest bets for help. I might have never told him this, but he’s special, very, very, very special!

My stint in Bombay was a success, at least, I would like to believe so. In a city as vast and alien as Bombay, I would have struggled to find my footing, had it not been for family. My aunt (appa’s sister) is settled in Bombay, and Sundays would be devoted to family. That day, there was just one dosa left...and uncle (athimbare) promptly split it into two and made sure both my cousin and I got an equal share. Although it was a very small incident, yet, it left a deep impact on me. I was touched that there was no discrimination…

Whoever knows my in-laws, wouldn’t probably need an introduction to my dad-in-law. He’s the roly poly, happiness exuding man, who can make any sullen face burst into peals of laughter. There’s never a dull moment when he’s around...seems like he’s got some magic potion to keep everyone in high spirits. The mirchi bajji and tea time that we shared during their trip to Hyderabad, our pandal hopping and ‘vettilai pakku’ collection rounds in Calcutta are just a few of the many beautiful moments in have shared with him…

Coming from a small town, I never had guy friends when I was in school or college. It was only in Delhi that I found my first guy friend, Sandeep, who’s like an older brother. He’s guided me, protected me and pulled my ears when I have made a mistake. And talking of friends turned brothers, how can I miss out on Avinash aka Sheela aka Nasheelee, my little brother, who leaves no chance to annoy me? Be it calling me weird names like Chollamma or Kuntalakeshi (refined version of Harish’s nickname for me), Sheela has managed to dispel fears that I would never have friends in Hyderabad (I do have friends in Hyderabad, awesome ones at that!!)

I raise a toast to these wonderful men in my life, who’ve filled my life with colours, annoyed me, teased me, made me laugh, cry and feel good. Cheers to all the men, because they are the ones who pamper us, make us blush, protect us and lend their strong shoulders for us to cry on.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Spare the rod and spoil the child!

I am one-year-old. No, I’m not a toddler. I’ve been married for a year. And that means, my honeymoon period is officially over. “Time to think about serious stuff,” the aunt says, looking at me from above her thick-rimmed glasses. “Hain? ‘Serious stuff’, what?,” I think, scratching my head. First anniversary aashirwads are typically the doodho nahao phalo phoolo types. “Let’s have some good news soon” the elders say, winking and chortling.

Kids.

Oh my! Oh yes, they are beautiful. But our own? Hmm...As soon as someone mentions kids, the first picture that comes to my mind is that of my neighbourhood. Kids. They are everywhere. Runny-nosed, teary-eyed, rolling and admiring booger, loud, adamant. Please don’t assume that I’m some sort of a monster who despises kids. No, no, I’m not one of those. My husband and I, we love kids. But what we don’t like, are the ones who are badly brought up.

I’ve often been amazed at how some parents can let their kids do whatever they want. Scream their little lungs out, thomp their feet until their demands are met, ransack other people’s houses like it’s pretty much a part of their deliverables, talk like 60-year-old toothless granpas and granmas; all of this, surprisingly and shockingly making the parents chests swell with pride! Hain?!

I remember how my ammai’s eyes would trace me like a hawk. One roll of her eye, and I would freeze. She never raised her voice, never hit me. She only pinched me, till my skin turned red and I could feel the heat traveling to all parts of my body, sirens blazing into my eardrums. A ‘no’ meant ‘no’, nothing else. There was no arguing with her. I would be terrorised, especially during study holidays. I would be glued in front of the TV all day, but as soon as the clock would give me a warning, it’s hands inching towards my undoing, I would jump up like a cat on fire and bury myself into the pages of some boring, fat book. And when ammai would be back from office, I would be the obedient little devil.

“Shoes are not supposed to be thrown around. They are for your feet and if you’re not wearing them, they are supposed to be inside the shoe rack, placed together, understood?,” she would ask, rolling her eyes, again. “Yes, ammai,” I would purr, making sure that she never got a chance to roll her eyes at me, again. At least, not because of the shoes. I was taught that we should never let anyone else wash out plates, never insult anyone. “A child’s behaviour speaks volumes about the parents,” she would say. “No one will call you a bad girl, they call us (appa and ammai) bad parents. Would you like that?” she would ask. “No,” I would say, loud and clear.

The pinches, the pain, the tears, they have all vanished from my memory, but those words, they remain imprinted. A child’s behaviour does reflect the kind of parenting, which goes a long way in shaping the kind of individual the child will eventually grow up to be. The values our parents infuse into us determine how well we lead our lives.

My parents, smart as they are, brought me up on a good dose of Dabur Chawanprash and with loads and loads of values. Yes, kids form our world, define our future. And to ensure our kids are healthy, we need to protect them from all the illness causing germs, the Dabur way and also make sure they are brought up well. Aakhir, andar ki ki shakti and bahar ki shakti,both are equally important.

This post has been written for the www.daburchyawanprash.com 'An Immune India' contest, hosted by IndiBlogger.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Shaadi ka laddoo!!

Remember ‘Honey I Shrunk The Kids?’ I had the same feeling the ‘shrunk kids’ would have had, albeit, slightly different. I felt like someone had stretched my limbs, painted my hair with a few streaks of grey...I felt...old!

I was daddy li’l girl, mamma’s princess and the grannies’ little bundle of joy. I was sitting on my dad’s lap and the moment the sacred thread dangled around my neck, things changed. Daddy’s girl was suddenly a big one, mamma’s princess had graduated to the next phase of her life and well, the little bundle of joy couldn’t qualify as little any longer.

I was a wife. I was a daughter-in-law. I had to smile for photos. Thousands of them. Had to answer the same questions every second person would ask.

Without. Getting Tired.

But then, this was only the tip of the iceberg, I realised. The real transition began as soon as I landed in Hyderabad. When I asked Harish what he’d like for lunch on the first day of office, “Rasam and aloo curry,” was the prompt answer. And that’s when it dawned upon me -- this is not going to be easy. At all.

I suddenly felt more responsible. Motherly, if I may say. Harish’s food, his mood, the house, the kitchen, the dishes, the floor -- their well being depended largely on me. If I wouldn’t wake up on time, the lunch would be delayed and Harish would have a big red blot on the attendance sheet. If I chose to be lazy for a couple of days, the house would look like the eye of a Phailin-like disaster; the toilets would look like the ‘pay and use’ ones’ cousin! Not that Harish would let it be like that, but how much would he juggle between household chores and office work?

Ooohh...I felt all grown up. All big and responsible. My task list got tweaked from page making to home making!

It’s not easy, mind you. More so, if you’re an only child and you haven’t stepped into the kitchen for anything else other than dumping the dishes into the sink. When you are suddenly shoved into an adult’s world after living the life of a pampered child for 24 years, the transition does become a bit of a challenge. And so do the adjustments. I was used to playing ‘Ganesha’ at home -- I would be honoured with the first morsel of everything edible. Serving the husband first, especially when the aroma of the food made the rats inside the tummy play all kinds sports inside, was a bit difficult to start with, but then, the motherly instincts got the better of me!

If one thought the first year of the wedding is the ‘honeymoon period’, then I’m gonna play spoilsport here. Come on, there’s much more to life than filmy romance. There are fights, arguments, and making up after fights, giving in a little bit to make your partner happy and more than that, the satisfaction of understanding your partner’s difficulties. There’s planning, decision making, taking care of one another, loving your partner’s family and becoming a part of their lives. And yes, there is romance, too! :)

And as the calendar said, “Madam, one year up,” I can’t tell you how much I am enjoying this shaadi ka ladoo...Ooh, it IS yum! And if this first year itself has seen me grow so much as an individual, I’m sure I’ll be smarter as we turn the pages of the calendar, year after year, growing old(er) together...

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Surprised? No, bowled over! :)

I was watching it on the big screen. The hero and the heroine make a grand entry. holding hands, looking at each other with love-struck eyes, his trademark smile brightening up his twinkling eyes. She was coy, biting her lips nervously, looking every bit the smitten kitten that she was. Suddenly, her face lit up, she stopped short, tears welling up inside her eyes. He had laid out the most beautiful table for her; roses, candles, gifts and champagne handpicked just for her to smile her radiant smile…

I could feel the warmth of the tears gushing down my cheeks, I thought it was the scene that made me emotional. But then, suddenly, I could smell the flowers, touch the gifts and feel his strong palms wrapped around mine. That’s when I realised, I was the heroine, and he, he was the hero. The surprise was for me!


“Happy anniversary,” my perimmai said as soon as I received her call. It sounded a bit strange, for I wasn’t accustomed to receiving anniversary wishes...this was our first one, you see. But then, it began to sink in. I was married; married for a year to this wonderfully beautiful human being.

We’d been out, marking our attendance at the reception of a close family friend. We wanted to return home before the clock struck 12, so that we could ring in our first anniversary in the warmth of our cozy little home. As the lift screeched on the third floor, I noticed a shimmery blue thing peeping out of a jute bag, right outside our door. My heart began to thump as I approached it for closer inspection. There it was, my first surprise...A happy moment of ours, beautifully captured and framed, a cute little cake, pink roses and chocolates sent by my ammai, and a beautiful paper lantern. We blew the candle, cut the cake, went to the terrace to fly the wishing lantern and didn’t forget to pose for photos that we could share with you!

Being the girl who’s been brought up on a healthy quota of bollywood flicks and romantic novels, I looked at him with my big black eyes and asked him, “My gift?” He walked away silently, keeping me guessing all night.

The next morning, we transformed into the good traditional bachchas, thanking God for all that he’s blessed us with. The tags of the new clothes were ripped off, and soon we were all decked up, ready to attend a wedding. As I was busy admiring the beautiful newly-wed couple, he gestured that the surprises had just begun. He took me to a shop, ready to buy me a chic new phone. “No,” said I, the love for my old BlackBerry preventing me from accepting the generously-priced phone that he had picked.

We reached the wedding hall, another surprise awaiting me. My bestie Supriya had sent this really expensive grilled sandwich maker, but what made the surprise absolutely special was the hand-written letter she had enclosed within. Runny rose, smudged mascara and tear-smeared blush was what resulted after I read it.

As I stole a couple of romantic glances with hubby dearest who was on the stage, singing bhajans, he signalled that we had a movie date at 2! So, off we went, to relish a sumptuous lunch, after which he whisked me off to an amazing ‘Ramleela’ experience. And then, it was time for some blessings and gifts(!) from elders.

Overwhelmed, I was getting ready for our dinner date, all the surprises leaving me in a daze. But then, as they say, raat toh jawaan tha…

Petrol khatam,” he said, halfway to Mainland China, to which we were heading. Looking at another fine-dine restaurant close-by, I said, “Chalo, we’ll have dinner here,” a sentence that made his eyes twinkle. As I walked into the restaurant, I realised some fantasies do come true...It looked like a scene from a movie. A cake (yes, another one!), a bottle of fine grape juice, another beautiful picture of ours neatly wrapped in shimmery paper, roses, candles and a five-star treatment...on a table for two…

It took me a while to sense that he had taken all the pains, put in so much of effort, just to see me smile...I felt like a princess, unable to believe that someone would invest so much of thought to make me feel special. I felt guilty, too, for asking him that stupid question I had asked him that night...I buried my head inside his warm embrace, the waterworks refusing to end. As I looked into his eyes, I realised they were misty too...We blew the candle, cut the cake (again!), clinked our glasses and raised a toast to the big one up there, who’d scripted our union in his plan…

He asked me, “Would you want to celebrate another anniversary with me?”...I closed my eyes, held his hand and promised, we would waked into sunset, together…

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Counting my blessings!

There are men, and then, there are men like him.

The first time we chatted, a chat that went on for a couple of hours, we introduced ourselves, chatted about the regular ‘I went to this college and I work for this company’ and before we knew it, we were chatting like long-lost friends, who had loads to catch up on! If the first chat was a teaser, the days to follow were nothing less than bliss.

Numbers were exchanged, and I could see myself falling head over heels and rolling down the hill. His wit, his command over the language, his personality...boy, was I impressed! The days would be incomplete without the chats, and it had almost become a sort of a ritual to log into gmail and ping him. As the chats increased, so did the calls and the texts. The nights were good when he sent me a ‘Good Night :)’ text and the mornings, well, how could they not be ‘good’ when there was a sweet text from him?

And as they say, Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya!

As we inch towards our first major milestone as a couple, I can’t help but feel bloated with pride. He’s the man any woman would wrap up and take home to meet the dad. He’s the man the mothers would love, the one cousins would go gaga over. He’s the one the grandmas and grandpas would bless wholeheartedly; the one whom relatives would flaunt.

What does one do, when one realises that she’s married to one of the most amazing men in the world. He never lets me carry big bags, he never cribs when I decide to go shopping. In fact, he picks dresses for me, helps me buy accessories. He makes sure I have eaten my fill, that I have had water after my meal, and that I don’t eat too much of junk…

He goes down on his knees to help me manage the pleats of my saree, ironing out the creases with his fingers. He gently tucks a loose strand of hair behind my ears, smiling his contagious smile. He wipes out the crumbs of bread stuck to the corner of my lips.

What does one do, when she realises that her husband makes rounder rotis that her? He’s not just a good cook, he’s the most organised guy I have seen. A tired wifey, and the hubby is all ready to pamper, waking me up with a steaming cup of tea, cooking, cleaning and scrubbing the kitchen slab till I can use it to check my make up!

He holds my hand in public, in front of his friends and colleagues, showing me, in a way, that he’s proud to have me by his side. He looks at me lovingly, calls me weird names and makes me feel beautiful and special. he flaunts the lunch I send him, refusing anyone a bite…

Sometimes, God showers his choicest blessings and gifts you with things that you would have never imagined you’d have. When you get more that you deserve, all you can do is sit back, close your eyes, smile and count your blessings!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Why grow up?

***All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts**
*


We attend meetings, we hangout with friends, we shop at supermarkets, we bargain on the streets -- we assume different shades everyday; play many parts, as Shakespeare rightly said. And all through, we have several layers to our personality, that masks the real us from the rest of the world. Reality is, within us, within each one of us, is a child, that probably comes out only in the company of certain special people. For others, we are the ‘strict’ bosses, we are ‘meek’ employees, we are the ‘tough’ negotiators and we are the ‘strong’ personalities. But for some, the ‘special’ some, we are children --uninhibited, carefree, none of whose moves are calculated.

The other day, lost in the thoughts of my handsome hubby, I squeezed my little finger as I was shutting the door to the balcony. I looked at him, tears pooling inside my eyes, lips quivering and I rushed to him, kneading my eyes with my fist, rubbing my runny nose with the back of my hand and mumbling, “it hurts,” as he tried to pacify me. Now, had there been someone else too at home, I would’ve probably let the tears roll down my cheeks, just like any soap actress would’ve done, wiped them off gently with my fingers, and would’ve walked across the hall gracefully to treat the injury. But no, it was only my husband who was there, and I didn’t feel the need to hold back that child in me.

These are the special people for whom we are special, no matter how demented we seem to be. When I go out, I make sure I am prim and proper, that my dresses and shoes match, that every strand of my hair gives the ‘livon’ models a run for their money. But at home, be it with my parents or with my husband, I am mostly at my shabbiest best. I roam around in my shorts and tees, roll up my hair in a bun and give a damn to the way I look. As established by the K soaps, women spend hours in front of the mirror to get the look that would floor their better halves, but reality is, we are more comfortable being the children we are deep inside, than wearing masks to impress them.

I pick up just-dropped morsels of food from the floor and eat them (don’t judge me), I scratch my head, I bite my nails, I forget to apply lotion, I do weird dance steps, I talk (A LOT), I make faces, I burp, I do all the things that I’m not supposed to do, otherwise. We all do, don’t we? But, these are things that we wouldn’t imagine doing in public...not in the wildest of our dreams. However, in the company of some ‘special’ people -- parents, siblings, husband/wife, friends-- we allow that child that’s hiding within us, within each one of us, to tear off all the masks. We become what we are, shedding the other different shades of our personality, becoming a child and taking comfort in the presence of these people. It is in their company, that we discover the delight of being maskless, of not having to live up to standards and not having to ‘act’.

And although, Shakespeare’s lines are oh-so-true, yet, we don’t have to be yet another character when we are in the company of our loved ones. That’s probably what God made family and friends for!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Aakhir, ummeed par hi toh duniya kayam hain!

I close my eyes and hear Amitabh Bachchan’s husky voice saying this. However, it was not until my wedding got fixed that I realised how every single word in this line makes sense. Right from hoping that the shopping will fit into into our pocket, to hoping the function will go off smoothly, to hoping to meet my hubby soon, ummeed par hi meri bhi duniya kayam thi…

The wedding was like a trance. The rituals; the numerous saree changes; the big, fat family; the cake-faced me, trying to stop myself from killing the photographer, who was suggesting awfully silly poses; the sweat; the several hands passing on gifts and congratulatory messages...honestly, I had no idea what on earth was happening there!!

The short and sweet honeymoon, the Guwahati reception -- it seemed like everything was happening far too quickly. If the build-up to the wedding was very long, the wedding itself happened in a flash! And before I knew it, I was at the station, all packed up, ready to part ways from my parents’ place. The pain of tearing yourself away from your parents’ place is bad...but what’s worse is, there is a tiny part inside you that’s all excited, to begin a new life, in a new place, with a new person…

When I set foot in Hyderabad, I didn’t know what was in store for me. I was gazing at the buildings, the roads, the streets, the ‘under construction’ metro, with the ‘this is my city now’, feeling slowly beginning to sink in. I had no idea how life would be -- fast, or slow, whether the city would embrace me, whether I would find friends, whether I would be able to mould myself into the role of a wife...and the biggest of them all, will life become different now?

Honestly, I was a bit scared (‘a bit’ would be one hell of an understatement!), after all, I had left behind my own city, my job, my family, my friends and my comfort zone, and I was stepping into something totally new -- new home, new city, new people, new language, new role...I was scared whether I would be able to settle down, whether I would be able to adjust..

But then, I did settle down, I did adjust. The pieces of the jigsaw puzzle are falling in place one by one. The city has now become mine, in the truest sense -- the pearls, the Charminaar, the journeys to Uppal, my new job, the dum biriyani and the people...With an awesome set of friends and a cozy house to boot, I’m not complaining!!

As they say, the jitters are bound to be there, the questions are bound to pop up every now and then. No matter who we are, and no matter what we do, we get scared, we get intimidated and we start doubting. But clinging on to hope is the only thing that helps us sail through, that helps us dispel the silly doubts. I was scared too, but in hope, I found the answer. Aakhir, ummeed par hi toh duniya kaayam hain!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Letting off some steam!

I’m a housewife. Correction: I’m a working housewife. Confused? I work from home, I work for home. There are times when my schedule is an absolute mess; when I’m doing the dishes that magically seem to pile up in the kitchen sink every two hours, and I realise that the newswire has updated itself with some other ‘breaking news’. So, off I rush to my work station, which is actually a cute little corner in my house. I wipe my hands and tap away on my keyboard.

My daily routine essentially requires me to juggle between office work and homework. A ten-minute break from office work means domestic duties calling -- brooms, mops, scrubs and what not. But you know what, I love doing what I do. I enjoy being involved in every little chore, and the satisfaction of glistening dishes, of shiny tiles and a prim and proper house is unparalleled.

But, but, but, everyday is not as easy as it seems to be. Some people walk up to me and say, “Wow, you work from home? Why do you guys even need a leave? Everyday is like a leave for you!” I mean, first of all, there’s no ‘wow’ in working from home (ask me!) Yes, there are perks, definitely, but it’s not ‘wow’ in any case. I can’t start working peacefully till the kitchen is clean, till the bed is made or till the time my husband’s lunch is packed. I’m a classic case of OCD, alright, but most women working from home would share that feeling.

There are days when the frustration of not being able to be around people starts creeping in. And before you know it, that dreaded lump is back in my throat, and I begin to fight back tears that seem to be inside me in litres! There are days when the routine becomes agonisingly monotonous, with waiting for company sucking into my system. There are days when the pressure is intense and I’m racing against time to meet deadlines. Those are days when the temper is hot and short!

I go to my favourite part of the house -- the kitchen. It’s my favourite part not just because it stores some yummy munchies, but also because I get to create fun stuff too. The kitchen, which was not long back my most dreaded enemy, is now my dearest friend; one that takes away my worries, and one that lets me be me!

And while the cooker blows the whistle, I let off some steam too, forgetting all that happened during the day. The beautifully chopped veggies, the aroma of the masalas of various colours, the mish-mashing, the art of experimenting, the perfectly fluffy phulkas, the moment my tastebuds declare some new dish to be a success, all that makes the sweat look like a well-deserved applause.

The kitchen was scarily alien to me at first, but with time and the support of my husband, perfect recipes from my mum and mum-in-law, I slowly learnt how to negotiate the tricky bits, and embrace the kitchen as my best buddy!

Yes, at times I feel like ditching the kitchen and bunking cooking (I feel guilty, too), to which hubby dearest agrees without a crease on his forehead. But, cooking, for me, has become the next best thing after writing, for in whipping up some magic in the kitchen, just like stringing hand-picked words together to create a beautiful piece, lies the ultimate joy of creating stuff from scratch!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Give me wings!

I am a daughter, a wife, a sister. I am a woman. I want to feel free, breathe easy, move around, without the lines of worry showing up on my forehead. Give me wings, for I want to fly, reach the pinnacles of success and stand on my feet. Give me wings, for I want to fly…

I’m an ambitious woman. I like being busy, I like working hard. I don’t crib about workload, of having to juggle the roles a working woman and a housewife everyday. I like moving around, I like being independent. But, I don’t like being scared. I don’t like it when people are worried for me, when family needs regular updates. Give me wings, I say, for I want to fly.

But how can I fly when my wings are clipped? How can I soar to heights when I am caged? I panic, try to escape. But is there any way out?

The Telangana bandh had crippled Hyderabad, or at least, parts of it. My colleague was kind enough to pick me up, and one way of the journey was negotiated. But, “Leave before 4 pm,” he warned me, saying as dusk would start setting in, it would get increasingly difficult for me to get back home, ‘safe’. I was worried - there were no buses, and autos didn’t look like a safe option either. So, I decided to book a cab, and be ‘safer’.

Thanks to some confusion, the cab driver had reached a place a bit ahead of where my office was. So, I had to walk for a good 20 minutes before I could reach the place where my cab was waiting. And in the 20 minutes that I took to reach, my phone had gone bonkers, buzzing incessantly. My mother wanted to know where I was, my husband wanted to know the same, too. The cab driver was getting antsy, asking me how much time would it take. My dad wanted to know my whereabouts, my worried mom-in-law called, too.

As I approached my cab, sweating in the sweltering heat, a drunk guy, out of the blue, popped right in front of my face, yelling “Jai Telangana” and walked away, the stench of alcohol making bile rise in my throat.

Even after I took the cab, the phone kept buzzing, with my mom, dad and husband asking for regular updates. For a moment, I wanted to fling the damned piece of technology out of the window, but I slipped myself into their shoes.

If I were a mother, wouldn’t I want to know where my young daughter is; whether she is safe, whether the cab driver is a decent fellow, whether she’ll reach home safe? If I were a husband, wouldn’t my wife’s safety run on my mind all the time? If I were a father, wouldn’t I worry? Yes, I would. So, I patiently answered all the calls, dousing the flames of tension that each one of them was engulfed in.

I got back home, pondering over whether there would be a day in my life, when I could travel alone, relieved that my family is tension free? Would that day come, when mothers, fathers, husbands, brothers wouldn’t worry about the safety of the girls of their families?

I am a daughter, a wife, a sister. I am a woman. I want to feel free when I walk down the street. I don’t want to be worried that some stranger is lurking around, waiting to pounce on me. I don’t want to be conscious, I don’t want to be scared. I want to be independent, I want to be confident. Give me wings, for I want to fly…

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Waiting for Godot

***You crib, complain and say you need a break. You might have obese bank balances, the most comfortable jobs, plush apartments and what not -- but, there’s always a missing link. You crave for something, either that you can’t afford, or, something that none of the currency in the world can buy. You wait for an unknown entity that will change your life with a swish of its magic wand; we all do. We wait for Godot.***

There are days when you wake up - all fresh, happy, energetic. There is a gush of generosity that rushes through your veins, a vivacious energy that pulsates through your system. And then, there are days when you foresee trouble; when you trip in front of people you’re trying to impress, when the washroom door shuts with such a loud bang, that the entire office knows you’re in there, peeing to glory! The days when you stammer, spill tea on the nice and shiny white tiles, and days when you act plain weird.

There are days when you brim with love unconditional; when you nurture, take care of people, be the good person you are, with an extra dose of goodness. You cook, adding an extra blob of love, scrub the bathroom tiles, till they start reflecting your face. You sing like a cuckoo, dance like poetry in motion, look so stunning, that every mirror on the wall would claim you’re the prettiest of them all.

Then there are days when you feel completely detached, devoid of emotions, indifferent, thinking, “Dammit, who cares?!” Those are the days when you’re unkempt, you do things for the sake of doing it, feel irritated and yell at the slightest reason possible. There are also days when the emotions are a riot, when the dam bursts and the tears don’t stop gushing down till you’re purged; when the most trivial things create that big, bad lump in your throat. The days when you watch the daily soaps and try to squeeze yourself in the stilletoes of every character that weeps, the day when washrooms serve as your secret emotional vent.

There are days when you feel like everything is going right, that whatever you’d always dreamt of, is just inches away from your grasp; days when you look at life wearing your oversized pink shades. And just when you slip into that trance effortlessly, events unfold in a manner that you’re forced to think otherwise. Your plans look like they’re falling apart, and the future, well, there’s a point in time when you think it doesn’t even exist.

And everyday, when you open your eyes to the beautiful sun that dazzles the world, you wake up with the hope that it will be a new day, a wonderful one, despite not knowing what are the surprises and jolts that life has up its sleeve. You hope, dream, live, braving the odds, negotiating the sharp turns, waiting for a change - a good one.

***You wait for an unknown entity that will change your life with a swish of its magic wand; we all do. We wait for Godot.***

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Being Human - best gift to our first teachers, our parents

The market was bustling with people; the din, the lights, the colourful shops boasting of their merchandise could fascinate any child. With button-like eyes gleaming at the goodies up for sale, I took a liking to everything displayed on the glass doors, hanging on the roadside shops, on the sheets spread over the road. I would halt every now and then, tugging at my parents’ fingers, looking at them with expectation-brimming eyes, making the cutest of all puppy faces. As I was hopping along in between my ammai-appa, I noticed a frock - sky blue with a frilly laces, sequined, and a layer of blue satin peeking through the frills. I took fascination to my ‘dream’ frock...I could see myself swirling around in the frock, the other little children eyeing me with envy. I wanted it, my dream frock.

I stopped, tugged at ammai’s pallu and made the same puppy face, again, effortlessly. “I want that,” I said, pointing to my dream in blue. “No,” she said, “We just got you one dress. Being greedy is bad, we’ll get you a new frock for Diwali, ok?” “No, no, no,” I wailed, “I want this fock, I want it, I want,” the 7-year-old I said, stomping my feet, cranky as ever. “No, means no,” she said, rolling her eyes. I plonked myself on the road, protesting, not taking ‘no’ for an answer. Ammai-appa tried talking me out of it nicely, but when I started wailing, demanding the ‘fock’ be mine, they walked on, leaving me behind, sitting on the road, scratching my head, not knowing what to do next.

I was terrified. I thought my ammai-appa are so mad at me, that they’ve decided to abandon me and take a ‘good’ child home, instead. I ran as fast as I could, saying, “I don’t want that fock, ammai, I don’t want that fock. I won’t be greedy, don’t leave me here.”

I never asked for an extra ‘fock’ ever again. At home, I was always given freedom to eat what I liked, play with every toy, read every book. But when we visited other people, ammai’s eyes would be on me, like an eagle, to make sure I didn’t touch anything without permission, that I didn’t jump around, that I was civilised. Appa is a person who’s never raised his voice, and he made sure that I never raised my voice either. “It’s alright to get angry, but you don’t have to shout to show your anger,” he’s always said.

If we believe that teachers are the ones who use the blackboard, who wield their rulers at us, caning us for our mistakes and make us read aloud from our books, we are living in a misconception. We are taught even before we enter the school campus. The first ABCDs of our lives aren’t taught by teachers; they are taught by our parents. A teacher’s role probably is limited to the four walls of the classroom, and to a specific stage in our lives. But parents continue teaching us all through our lives, telling us little somethings everytime we go wrong.

That’s why, when I see little kids bawling their lungs out, behaving badly, acting cranky and shouting, I don’t blame them. The behaviour of a child reflects the kind of training that parents have given him or her. Parents are the world’s best, most effective teachers. They not just teach, they care, nurture, reprimand and love. They wear so many hats, and yet, at times, we take them for granted, without realising that it is us, around whom their lives revolve. So, on teachers day, it is not all about showering your teachers with greeting cards and gifts packed in shiny wrapping paper. It’s about showing them you’ve learnt things they have taught. And for parents, the best gift on teachers day would be us being the good human being they raised us to be. That’s all we need to do to make them happy...

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Some things money can't buy...

We’re busy people; busy meeting deadlines, busy calling up celebrities who refuse to take calls, busy in meetings, busy doing some of this, busy doing lots of that. We’re so busy, that we curse our cell phones for buzzing incessantly, and we cut off people who remember us and spare some time and money to call us. We’re busy running around, getting work done, chasing buses, and doing ‘important’ things. Yes, we are busy people.

I was waiting at the bus stop, pacing up and down, waiting for that damned signal to go green, so that I could get a glimpse of the God-sent bus. But, it looked like God had snoozed off and had forgotten about my bus altogether. If the heat, the feel of a sweat drop trickling down my spine and the frustration of having had to wait for almost an hour wasn’t enough to frustrate the living hell out of me, the one-inch heels and a swollen ankle post a staircase fall added to my misery. The dusk was creeping into night; it was getting darker, and the faces near me were beginning to get scarier.

I took a detour, in the hope of finding some other way of getting closer to my destination. After almost an hour of wait, I got a bus that took me halfway. Well, almost. Amidst bawling kids and sweaty people, I stood for an hour, waiting to get to the station, from where I would have to take another bus to reach the place from which hubby dearest had promised to pick me up.

“Tation, tation, tation,” yelled the conductor, and I got off, thinking I would be standing bang in from of the Secunderabad station. But then, there was no ‘tation’ around, and after taking directions from people on the road, I realised that it would take me a good 10-minute brisk walk ‘lopal’ (inside) to get to the station bus stop. So lopal I walked, from under a bridge, over a footpath with missing tiles, just to realise that the station area is creepy, with some of the creepiest creatures lurking around, waiting for a chance to brush past, make skin contact.

After all of that, I spotted a bus heading home and I ran behind it, dragging my legs that had now begun to protest. Puffing and panting I got in, and made a dash towards the last seat available. I plonked myself promptly, and looked at the other poor souls who made it late to the finishing line, grinning a sadistic grin. As the bus moved, growls from my stomach made me realise that I was starving. The burst of aroma from a roadside food joint almost forced me to jump out of the window and devour some, but I thought, never mind, home is close.

I was frustrated to the core, so much, that I just wanted to shut myself in and doze off without moving an inch, without doing the social niceties and without much talk. Just when I thought I didn’t want to see anyone’s face, my phone started buzzing. The screen said, “Shonu calling”. That’s when I realised, that I did want to see someone’s face, did want to talk. I couldn’t wait any longer. It felt like our first date, when I couldn’t stop the butterflies from fluttering around in my tummy, when the anxiety of seeing him made my cheeks go warm; when all I wanted was to see his face and hold his hand.

And when I finally got off from the bus, his warm smile, his open arms and his presence -- they made the frustration evaporate, they made the fatigue disappear. And the packetful of corn samosas in his hands -- divine!! There are some things money can't buy.

Yes, we are busy people, doing some of this and lots of that; so busy that we cut off people who remember us and spare some time and money to call us. But, at the end of a long, tiring day, it is these people that we want to rush back to, it is these people who comfort us with their soothing voices. At the end of a long day, we don’t want to shut ourselves in; we want to talk and share our experiences, because it is in being with them that we are the busiest, the happiest...



Monday, July 22, 2013

Saat bata Battees, Daryaganj

The train chugged off tearing me away from my family, conspiring to take me away from home. I could sense that the distance between me, inside the train and my ammai, on the platform was increasing, but the tears welling inside my eyes blurred my vision. I was heading towards Dilli, to try and learn how to become a journalist.

Delhi welcomed us with with a warm (read: extremely hot) embrace; we felt like sticky roshogullas. With the quest of finding me a ‘home’, appa and I headed towards Daryaganj, where my college - The Times School of Journalism was nestled.

Saat bata Battess (7/32), Daryaganj was ‘home’. Sneha and Tista, my two new room-mates were ‘family’. And Saat bata Battees witnessed fun, madness, tears, hunger, fights, arguments and never-ending concern. My first taste of freedom couldn’t have been better without you, girls - Tista and Sneha. Thanks for making my stay at the haunted house bearable, fun and memorable.

From accomplishing Mission Impossible - waking up Miss-Hap Tista - everyday, to wrapping up a hard day’s work with late night chats accompanied by piping hot ‘wee hours’ tea, creepy discussions and gossip sessions, there wasn’t a day (or night) at saat batta battees that would be boring.

Saat bata battees, owned by Ashok Jain , whose number on our phones was saved under names like ‘khadoos’, ‘khoosat’, ‘tharki’, did eventually become ‘home’ where we lived, laughed and cried; where we shared an experience of a lifetime; where we did learn how to become journalists.

If life at saat bata battees was fun-filled, it was also full of hospital visits, thanks to miss-Hap, Tista. Ligament tears, severe tonsils, fever, some of this and a lot of that had become regular, petty affairs for us. The aap ke zamaane mein baap ke zamane ka ‘cooler’, that promptly converted itself to a heater in summers and cooler in winters, was a convenient way of keeping thieves at bay - the noise it produced use to keep buzzing in my ears even during classes.


And talking of classes, at TSJ, the power-point presentations, meant ‘nap time’. I would snooze off to glory, in the dark room, to compensate the sleep lost to squeeze in time for our ‘chat sessions’. And then the soups, maggies and Kishan Bhaiyya’s special ‘bade cup ki coffees’ and jeera rice we relished at the canteen wouldn’t have been half as delicious without the company of Sandeep, Aaheli, Dipika, Shweta and Kumari. Thanks a bunch people for making breakfast, lunch and tea-time the most-looked forward to time of our days.


Dilli darshans with Aaheli and Sandeep, chat fights with Karthik licking our fingers and closing our eyes and going ‘ummmmm’, relishing street food near Golcha, watching movies, converting reporting assignments into fun-trips, photo sessions, beating the deadlines, surviving hunger and so much more - memories of Saat bata Battees will always remain ones that would make me break into warm smile...

Misty (Tista), Chena (Sneha), Bunny (Shweta), Jhumi (Aaheli), Sandy (Sandeep), Toothpick (Dipika), Kumari (Priyanka) and Karthik...thanks for the memories!!

PS: There’s so much about Saat bata Batees I’d like to share. here are a few more you’d maybe like to read :)








Saturday, July 20, 2013

Thank God, I was wise enough ;)

They say we can’t choose our family, but we can choose our friends. Thank God I was wise enough!! ;)

***Gimme oil inmylam, gimme burniburniburni,
gimme burni till the late of late***


Neatly formed lines of kids trying to sing “Give me oil in my lamp, keep it burning, burning, burning....” swallowing half of the words and mumbling the rest incorrectly. Dressed in crisp white shirts and peacock blue pinnofers, all that mattered was to retain the shine on the shiny, black, spotless shoe till the end of day, enjoy the tiny morsels that friends ‘shared’ from their lunch boxes, and getting to sit near your best friend.

I was no different. Hair braided into two plaits, blue ribbons neatly bowed, bundling the plaits together, I would hop into school, praying the teacher doesn’t change my seat. As soon as I would walk into the classroom, my button-like eyes would search for them - my girls, my persons. As soon as one of them walked in, I would wave, and shift my bum slightly, to indicate with a wide grin that I’ve reserved a seat for her. I would be worried if they didn’t turn up before the assembly bell rang. ----- Thank you Anki and Bana, for sitting next to me, for sharing your dabbas, and for being there.

Classes meant communication through chits. One-liners and little messages that used to get circulated all around, a slight nod of the head indicating the message has been received. ‘The stand up on the bench’, ‘catch your ears’, ‘get out of the classroom’ were the times I enjoyed myself the most. --- Girls, you made the classes bearable, laughable, and the punishments enjoyable. Without you, the ‘catch your ears’ moments would have been embarrassing beyond words.

I was already old enough for college, things changed, and I was scared of how my ‘new’ life would be. But as it happened, Charlie’s Angels got together again, and college life was way better than I had ever imagined. Sitting on the last bench, coming up with the most hilarious stuff, laughing, learning, and growing up together, playing pranks, forcing lecturers to say, “Ae you girls, you can’t sit together,” splitting us up into three different corners of the classroom ------ We have shared more than tiffin dabbas, we’ve shared our deepest, darkest secrets.

We’ve shifted bases, headed into different directions, but even today, when we meet, we laugh till we can laugh no more, till our insides start aching, but the giggles, the giggles never die down. Crossing roads like ‘goyas’, window shopping, eating out, bunking classes and making front-door exits, christening people with ‘special’ names -- we’ve done all of this and more ----- Thank you for not growing up, and still remaining the gawky schoolgirls that we were.

And with these school friends, it would be a sin if I don’t mention my other partner-in-crime, Rashmi, who was my first best friend in Guwahati. The dance rehearsals, the ‘Kerala Samajam’ picnics, the weekend get togethers, the bargains with shopkeepers --- Rash, you made them all worth remembering...

They say we can’t choose our family, but we can choose our friends. Thank God I was wise enough!! ;)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Salaam Bombay!!

Bombay, if you were a guy, I would have married you...but since you’re not, I’ll settle with the privilege of having you as my best friend.

I was like a grown up toddler when we first met - unaware of the ways of the world, naive and way too emotional. You gave me stability, strength, confidence and freedom. You were the one who stood by me when the times were rough, you held me when I tripped, you embraced me when I was low, slapped me hard to wake up from my misconceptions.

Standing on the edge of the train, I, for once, stopped worrying about my hair that the beautiful wind was caressing; conversations with fisher women and the office-going junta alike, scripted in beautiful chapters of my memory, forming stories that I’ll probably entertain my grandchildren with.

You sent the breeze at Marine Drive to cheer me up when I was down in the dumps, the early morning shots of tea at Ghatkopar, the lovely people were all there to walk by my side, silently, to make sure I was ok. With spicy munchies and the soothing breeze you gave me, I became oblivious to everything that was hurting me.

You taught me how to be street-smart, how to protect myself, how to live, how to laugh. how to have fun. Despite lost friends, lost wallet, and an unemployed status that would have made some people suicidal, you taught me how to be strong, how to brave the tough tide and sail with it, how to dance in the rain, how to be happy despite the million things that could depress...

You made me the woman I’d always wanted to be, something that I ache to be today...

You were my constant companion, you had me and held me, from the day I met you, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until circumstances did us part....

We might just be physically apart, but you are, and always will be the one who taught me what life is, you will always be my best friend. Hope to meet you soon, magical Mayanagri, till then please remember...

Bombay, if you were a guy, I would have married you...but since you’re not, I’ll settle with the privilege of having you as my best friend.

P.S: This post might seem a bit weird to people, who would probably think, “Doesn’t she have a human friend, why is a city her best friend?” Yes, I do have ‘human’ best friends, but Bombay is special! Salaam Bombay!!



Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Goddess of Small Things

It’s not the big things that make me happy. I don’t crave for diamonds or expensive gifts. Little things, tiny gestures - they touch me, make me feel loved. I am the Goddess of Small Things...

I was looking at the mysporepa, sitting proudly inside the glass case, while my husband was paying for the mirchi bajjis we had bought. Its colour, its shape, the texture - oh, everything was inviting me. I was lost in a sweet world, imagining, how it would melt in my mouth, lacing it with a sweetness divine...”Bhaiyaa, yeh sweet zara ek plate mein dena, madam ke liye,” I heard my husband telling the shopkeeper, handing me the one thing I wanted, taking me down beautiful memory lanes.

I vividly remember a little me, dressed in a cotton floral frock, two neat fountain-like pony tails sticking out from my head holding on to my dad’s finger and hopping along with him, trying to match his pace. I remember how I would try to synchronise my footsteps with that of his - right-right, left-left, and raise my head to see if he’d noticed that we were walking in sync. I remember how the bazaar frightened me out of my wits - the scores of people with bundles of plastic bags, the pan-spitting shopkeepers, the bikes splashing jets of slush, the din, the stench of fish...

I remember how my dad used to carry the veggie packets, using one hand to hold them together, the other hand reserved for his darling daughter. I would sense the weight was troubling him, and I would happily shift to the other side, hopping around between mom and dad, holding my dad’s hand on the left, and my mom’s on the right. The fear of big bad bazaar would suddenly disappear...It seemed I had a wall to protect me from the pushing and pulling..

I remember how we had gone to a sweet shop to get some paneer - mom, dad and I...I was looking around, bored, when I noticed a tray of neatly stacked sweets, inside the glass case. It was beckoning me to taste it - the rich, mild golden colour, the glaze of the ghee - it pushed me into a trance, where I imagined how it would feel to take a bite, how it would melt inside my mouth, the sweet taste lingering...

Dada, paneer,” said the shopkeeper to my dad, handing him a packet, waking me up from my reverie...My dad hadn’t taken the packet, he was looking at me. I looked at him, our gazes met, and he looked away, telling the shopkeeper, “Two of this,” pointing to the thing I was looking at with wide eyes. In a minute’s time, I was holding a little paper plate in my hand, the taste in my mouth, way better than the one in the trace...Maybe it wasn’t the sweet...maybe, it was my dad’s love that made it taste even sweeter...The child in me couldn’t stop grinning...

And today, the child in me grinned again...not because of the sweetness of the mysorepa, but because of the sweetness of the gesture and the sweetness of the memories it refreshed...

Yes, it’s not the big things that make me happy. Little things, tiny gestures - they touch me, make me feel loved. I am the Goddess of Small Things...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

That moment...

I saw his eyes twinkle. His face brightened up, his lips curved into a warm smile. I noticed something he was trying hard to hide -- a little tear glistening at the corner of his eye. He ruffled my hair, patted my back, as he helped himself to yet another spoonful of the payasam I’d cooked for him, on his birthday...I suppressed the urge in me to stop him from helping himself to yet another spoonful because of his diabetes...the sheer joy on his face prevented me from holding back his hands. He smiled, surprised, struggling to say, “It’s very nice” with a mouthful of the dessert...

As I was busy doing the dishes and tidying up the kitchen, I overheard his conversation with ammai over the phone. “She cooks, oh she cooks! She cooked for me, a full meal! Oh she cooks!!” I couldn’t help but notice the pride in his tone, like I’d done something extraordinary; like I’d won some medal; like I’d become the prime minister of the nation overnight; like I’d won the World Cup for India. I’d done nothing remotely close to any of this. I’d just cooked...a plain, simple meal.

He was beaming, patting my back constantly. His surprise was surprising. I had cooked for him for the first time, and the joy of relishing a plain, simple meal made by his daughter was evident. The full-toothed smile, the satisfied burp, the phone call with ammai and his eyes --- they said what he couldn’t put together in words....

***That moment, when the first shrieks of a baby echo in the corridor of a hospital. That moment when silent prayers are said, when relief floods those waiting outside. That moment when the parents meet their baby for the first time. Their eyes brim with tears of elation, sparkle with pride, their chests swell with unparalleled emotions. Every little movement the tiny one makes, every yawn, every shrill squeak, the tiny fingers and pearly toes, the fist-sized head, the pea-sized hands, the ruby lips, the button-like eyes...everything about the little bundle of joy fascinates the parents...

The first wobbly steps, the toothless smile, the first gurgle, trying a hand at babbling words. First song, first dance, first response to words. We might not remember any of these. Moments our parents treasure. Moments that are frozen in the albums of their happy memories. Moments that’ll never fade away like photographs. Moments that make them smile, beam with pride, elation...Moments, that’ll remain etched on to their minds, for eternity. Sadly, most of us wouldn’t remember any of these...***


I relived one of those moments. My father’s smile when I served him lunch would have been pretty similar to the one when I first sneezed, I first coughed, or first opened my eyes. The innocence and sincerity of the pride, that smile touched me, making me believe that every achievement of ours is theirs, every happiness of ours is the reason behind their smiles and everything we do leaves a little imprint on their hearts...they make us feel gifted, lauding every not-so-unusual thing we do...

That’s love -- unconditional, boundless, pure...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Cutting chai

As I zoom past with my husband on our bike, I notice splendid buildings, standing gracefully tall, showing the majestic setting sun a glimpse of its own beauty. Glass walls shimmering, adorning the horizon with ornamental diamond-like lights.

I wonder, at times, how would it feel to be on the other side, inside the posh glass frames, dining under glittering chandeliers, sipping sparkling water from the finest of crystal glasses and having the most fancy dishes laid out on antique tables. How would it feel to hear the metal fork tink against the expensive plates...How it would feel, attending meetings with the affluent, the well-versed, the well-spoken, the sophisticated. How it would feel carrying the most advanced technology in branded leather purses and handbags. How it would feel to breathe in the scented air of Calvin Klein and the like. How it would feel to step out of cars that make other people’s faces turn green.

Would I stare at the waiter struggling with his tray, juggling between expensive utensils, yet taking the risk to receive a phone call from a close one, reminding me, that I haven’t called up home in a while now. Will I notice a group of 20-somethings breaking into peals of uncontrollable giggles, wiping tears of bliss from the corners of their eyes and miss my time with friends? Will I sit in meetings, unable to concentrate, reeling under the guilt of screwing up yet another movie plan with friends? Would I struggle having formal conversations, missing the bindass ‘tu, tera, tereko’ that I am so used to? Will handshakes be alien to me, for whom high-fives and hugs work? Would I stand near the glass frame, looking at carefree couples zooming past me on their bikes, staring at the glass frame with awestruck eyes? Would I want to break free?

Yes, I would. I don’t want to be on the other side, inside the glass frames, dining under chandeliers. I’m more than happy going to a roadside dhaba and licking off bits of gravy sticking to the serving dish, wiping my runny nose with a tissue paper and making an ‘O’ bringing my index finger and thumb together to indicate the yummi-ness quotient. I’m happier watching flops with my friends than attending premiers, sitting with big guns and exhibiting plastic on my face. I would be happy to get back home to my parents every few months and feel the excitement than having flight tickets got done whenever I want - it kills the anticipation. I want to be free to talk to ammai-appa, after every meal I have, after every little significant thing I do. I want to giggle, live, unrestrained. Living inside glass frames isn’t my cup of tea...my cup of tea is the one that brews on the streets, in my house..

I need no posh car, protecting me from the dust and heat...all I want is a bike ride with my husband, when the skies go crimson, and like birds returning home as soon as dusk sets in, I want to return to my nest too...

Thursday, June 13, 2013

And the tables turned...

***It’s a nice artistically-lit restaurant, with groovy music, lip-smacking starters and an ambience that will make you fall in love with it. Great company too, if I may add. Yet, happiness seems to be something that I have been chasing for a while...a wild goose chase, I call it. I’m in the best of places, with the most amazing people, but I feel lonely, hollow. From the corner of my eye, I notice two of my best friends cozying up, lost in each other’s eyes, cooing sweet nothings into each other’s ears...A voice inside my head goes, “Awww, adorable!”, while I feel a pang of something entirely different within...a stab of jealousy, a pinch of disappointment and oodles of sadness. Tears brim in my eyes, and I bow my head and wipe them off...***

This was how my life was a couple of years back. I was this lonely, brash, mechanical woman, whose life revolved around deciphering bus numbers in Marathi and running behind them. Phone calls were limited to calling ammai-appa’s numbers and receiving their calls. I was single, like I’d been all my life...”Why don’t I have that someone special,” I wondered at times, attributing my relationship status to the not-so-nice reflection that I saw glaring back at me from the mirror. I am not ‘hot’, I’m not the seductress that every man would want to have, heck, I’m not even the regular girl next door, whose smile would make a few hearts flutter. “Maybe this is how I’m supposed to be forever,” I thought, silently recalling the couple of times I had to face the horror of having to ‘meet’ guys, meetings arranged by family.

I used to shudder at the thought of these ‘prospective grooms’ rejecting me because of the way I look -impish and small, like someone close to me chose to put it. I’d mentally prepared myself to get married to some random guy; a guy my parents would choose for me. I was also terrified of letting my parents down by getting married to some ‘non-tambrahm guy’, but I knew it’s possibility was minimal, considering the reflection, yeah the same one that stares at me from the mirror everyday.

But then, the tables turned. One fine day, my man arrived, sans all the violins and drumbeats that Yash Raj films have made oh-so-routine. With a tiny red number whispering into my ears that ‘he wants to do fraaaanship with me’, my choti si love story got conceived. With Zuckerberg as our witness, we embarked on a beautiful journey of that saw us transform from buddies, to besties, to sweethearts to a married couple.

And through this journey, I discovered shades of my personality (fifty shades grey and otherwise!), and honestly, I’ve surprised myself. From being indifferent towards mush to having become a hopeless romantic, belting out cheesy lines and blushing (yes, BLUSHING!), I have come a long, long way...

The bright blue and yellow flame, the fragrant smoke arising from the neatly bundled incense sticks, the sacred yellow thread, the maamis in bright sarees, the mamas in crisp white dhotis, the bling, the colours, the peals of laughter, the air of festivity, the vows - all of these stand as a testimony to our relationship - the one that facebook gave birth to..

Today, as we complete two years since that magical day, I am a wife, your wife, a happy, proud one, and the reflection, well, she looks at me with kind, loving eyes now...The tables have turned indeed!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Shut Up!

***A silver-haired, frail, wrinkled 80-year-young saying, “So what, so what if he hit her? He’s her husband...She doesn’t have the liberty to walk away from him...just because he hit her...”***

When the world and its wife is busy discussing women empowerment, we Indians, we should just shut the hell up! There, I said it!

We live in a country where girls are moulded to be future wives, future daughters-in-law; we live in a country, where stuck between an auto with a beedi-smoking driver and a shady, deserted street, is as good as being stuck between the devil himself and the deep sea; we live in a country, where most men (yes, most) want their wives to be sitas in public and shielas in the comfort of their bedrooms; we live in a country, where ‘never raped’ will become a criteria for matrimonial ads; where women hold belans more than pens; where wedding bells go hand-in-hand with the dying gasps of a career; where, ‘girls from good families’ adhere to whatever the husband says and where, what the husband says is ‘final and binding’....

We live in a country where women are judged by what they wear; where even a 10th fail wants a bride who is sushil (docile, domestic, dumb), sundar (fair, tall, with a 36-24-36 figure) and padhi likhi (no, no, no, 10th pass won’t suffice. Minimum graduation chahiye); where grooms are sold for dowry; where wife-beating is a birthright; where the wife has to put up with any crap the husband pulls off; where girls are pensive before venturing out; where a ‘Nirbhaya’ has to die often, to remind people of the atrocities women are subject to..

If you’re picturing me either as an aggressive bra-burning feminist, or a domestic, scared wife/daughter-in-law, I think this is the time I clarify. No, I don’t belong to either category. I’m a simple woman, a happy wife and a happier daughter-in-law. The only thing I have an issue with is, when people say we have to enforce laws and bills and acts to secure women’s rights. That, I feel, is utter bull shit.

They say charity begins at home...I say, why just charity? Let everything begin at home. Indian women are brought up to become good wives. And these ‘good wives’ are the ones who prefer getting flogged and thrown around by their husbands, to holding the helping hands of the police. Even if no one expects women to take full responsibility of the household, there are some, who are happy to puncture big holes in the chairs they hold, and crib about it ten years down the line. We can’t expect sweeping changes to happen overnight...there will be rapists, there will be wife-beaters, there will be road-side romeos...we can’t go all out to put every single one of them behind the bars.

We can only change the way our families function. No, I’m not all for making women the head of the family. All I’m saying is, let us not make the aata and the detergent powder the identity of women. Instead, give her wings, let her be free to take up a career of her choice, to break the shackles of ‘girls from good families don’t behave like this’, without making the ‘silver heads’ nod in disapproval.

But, as I said, we live in a country where ‘log kya kahenge’ matters more than anything else. Yes, there has been progress, but deep down, we women, we feel guilty when we send our husbands to office without lunch; when fathers are doing the dishes; when brothers have to cook their own maggi...It’ll take a long time before we can shed these emotions, and emerge as stronger and more detached people...There’s no use blaming others...the cocoon of our mindset is so strong, even Ambuja Cement would be ashamed. No bill, no law, no act can whip up a miracle, unless we and our families decide to help ourselves and incorporate tiny changes in the way we live.

Till then, when others are busy discussing about women empowerment, we Indians, we should just shut the hell up!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

I, Me, Myself..

Her eyes were looking for a corner, where she could hide; a box, where no one could see her, touch her or talk to her; a place, where she'd just be - herself. She just wanted to be a speck of dust, a drop of water and melt into the surroundings...Her mind was on the threshold of losing sanity. Like a nomad, her mind was wandering...

The road looked like a carnival; bright lights offending her delicate eyes. Impatient honking, aggressive engines wrooming out their wrath, autos on the verge of bursting with human overload. The divine smell of jackfruit, a baby sleeping peacefully on a bike, tucked into the secure arms of its mother. A cupid-struck couple engrossed in sweet-talk, fingers intertwined, blissfully oblivious of everything around. Fresh vegetables in a riot of colours, ripe mangoes giving a sneak peek into the gateways of heaven. A pair of twins dressed in identical golden frocks, clutching on to their mother’s fingers. Steam rising from freshly-made phulkas, the aroma, overpowering. Husbands returning to their wives with goodies and surprises bundled in little packets...

Shops with posters screaming of discounts; two kids happily hopping around, their feet generously coated with slush - a gift from the overnight rain. Street dogs socialising; bajjis and bondas on a creaky, old thela selling like hot cakes. Posters and hoardings of politicians posing like Gods. The night sky, in its velvety glory, adorned by diamond-like stars...

Yes, her mind, like a nomad, was wandering, a thousand thoughts flickering like the lights on the road. She was just a ‘looker’ - detached, indifferent, numb, sealed in plastic...Nothing could touch her or bother her. She had found the corner, the box that could shield her from everything. A looker was what she had to be, sans expectations, fears, concerns...and the box, the corner would for hers, or as long as she wanted...

“It’s going to be I, me, myself for a while,” she thought, her mind, despite the gazillion issues it had to focus on, still playing the nomad it was...

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Some things money can’t buy...

One moment. Could be one second, could be 60 seconds, could be more. But sometimes, that one moment is enough for us to count our blessings.

We fight, we argue. There are heated arguments, accusations are hurled freely; dirty linen is washed, wrung, dried and rewashed. We hurt each other and keep scores. The ‘We’ gets slaughtered into ‘you’ and ‘I’. Then, we wait for the opportunity to settle scores, the chance to give it right back. Tit for tat, we claim proudly as soon as we sniff a victory around the corner. And then, like tired animals, we retreat into our own dens, licking our wounds, feeding our egos.

Sometimes, our relationships get elbowed out and pushed aside and our egos emerge as two angry wrestlers, shoved into a ring, to punch and kick each other for the sake of the entertainment of the thousands of fans watching every move with awestruck eyes. Once the duel is over, one ego wears the crown of victory, while the other gets sidelined. And most of the times, it is the relationship that gets beaten to pulp in the ring.

I’m sure every couple can picture itself in what has been described above. It’s natural.

***She emerged out of her bedroom, her fingers intertwined with those of the man, the world called her husband. Her face was grim, the lips pursed together tightly. There was hatred inexplicable, a coldness and indifference she couldn’t fathom. She looked at his face and to her horror, realised he isn’t the man she loved…

She looked for her love desperately, sniffing around for clues of his whereabouts. She ran around, aimlessly. She could do anything to see his beautiful face; only the melody of his voice could soothe her bustling nerves…There were no traces, she was dragged back to the confines of the four walls, where she would have to be with the man; the man, the world called her husband...

She woke up, her eyes popping open. Slid her fingers on her bed to discover her treasure…Oh there he was, snoring away, and even in the dim-lit room, his silhouette looked like the one of a Greek God. It was just a bad dream; the man she loved, was indeed the one the world called her husband, and the one in the dream was just a God-sent messenger, who was there to remind her, that the man sleeping next to her was precious; that some of God’s gifts don’t come gift-wrapped…***


It could be a dream; it could be a moment from reality. Whatever be it, realising the value of relationships and guarding them fiercely is what matters most. And sometimes, even unconsciously, what we do sets the tone. Sometimes, even after a fight, when the husband leaves for work, he waits down on the road, looking towards the balcony, to wave at his wife, and she waves back. The husband’s confidence that the wife would be there, and the wife’s blind faith that the husband would be waiting for her – is enough to prove that no matter what, ego can never ever come anywhere close to love.

A moment. Sometimes, a moment is all we need to understand…