Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z - Zika

               
                     A while ago, I read a book called Inferno by Dan Brown. The plot of the book was how a geneticist believed the spiraling-out-of-control world population will eventually result in the extinction of mankind, if not halted in time. So he designs and develops a special kind of virus, which if released in air and breathed by people, will render them infertile. So there will be no births for a while. This was his way of 'stabilizing' the world population. His belief is based on historical occurrences like the epidemic in Europe called 'The Black Death' which killed nearly 75 million people or the 1918 Spanish flu which killed more than 200,000 people or the more recent Tsunami which killed another 200,000 in one sweep. He believed such mass deaths need to occur to have the numbers in check and save humanity.

Its such a bone-chilling thought.

When the Zika virus was reported and its effects on pregnant women was confirmed, countries started taking steps and advising women to postpone their planning. Though its not the same, the stark similarity between that theory and this event sent shivers down my spine.

I hope it is just a coincidence.


Y - Yearning




What do we generally yearn for? More money? Success? Acceptance from society? Appreciation? Acknowledgement of our efforts? Some words of encouragement? During a workshop I attended a few months ago, something remained in my mind. That we always look for acceptance and appreciation from the people that surround us. What we choose to do is mostly(80% of the times) driven by how the society would perceive us, would people appreciate it and will they encourage us. I had never thought about it before but I realized this may be true. In our sub-conscious minds, we always yearn for some kind of acknowledgement of our efforts. Everyone has this underlying need to be appreciated by a sect of people they think are important to them.Whatever be the ultimate goal, these are the little important things along the way that keep us going.

But when it is our turn, how many times do we actually appreciate people? How many times have we eyed her pretty new shoes or said 'he plays so well' in our heads but never directly to that person? How many times we felt inspired by someone we know, but never let them know? How many times someone touched you and helped you unwittingly, either with their writing or casual words or their actions, but you never thanked them? When I think about myself, I am guilty of not doing it often. I hold myself back for some reason. I read so many beautiful blogs, am in awe of so many women out there who write exceptionally well, have amazing imagination and humor, but I never used to leave a comment for them. I don't know the reason, it has more to do with me feeling worthless about myself. My thinking is usually on the lines of 'yeah she writes amazingly well and she sure does know it. How will my saying anything change anything? And I will look dumb if I don't say something clever'. So I stop myself. Not just in the writing sphere. I remember never having told Meena how she inspires me and helped me in being what I am today. I never thanked my bosses for giving me the opportunities they did, supporting me at every step, and for letting me be honest about my interests and shortcomings. I never told the Zumba teacher I raved about so much in two of my posts how much I like her energy. Why is it so hard to form words from my feelings?

Not anymore. I realized how beautiful saying it out is during my A-Z challenge. I got encouragement from unexpected people. There were so many people who pinged me over chat or personally told me how some of my posts were close to their hearts, or how they were looking forward to my next lettered posts! That left me feeling good about myself and motivated me like nothing else. I was more driven and wanted to do better. I felt so good about them too, for having come all the way out to be vocal about their thoughts. I realized it is such a wonderful gesture. A big thank you to you! I am here, at 'Y' only because of what you did.

I am being more vocal now. For the first time, I wrote out a long email to a person I have never met or talked to. Shailaja, the owner of her blog Shailajav.in. Her imagination is amazing, you should read her last year's AtoZ posts. She is a great inspiration and comes across as a very down to earth person. I also dropped an email to PeeVee of Cookiecrumbsinc.com and told her I start my day by reading her blog. And I am going to ping Christina and tell her I absolutely loved her Zumba classes!

From now on, I am going to say it out loud to people instead of saying it in my heart.



PS : There is a catch here. You don't have to appreciate or praise at the drop of a hat. It has to be genuine. People will know when you are saying for the heck of it and when you really mean it. Appreciate something or someone when you genuinely feel touched or amazed.





Friday, April 29, 2016

X - factor



She was petite. She was dusky. She was obese according to the modeling world. She was considered a misfit but now is successful like a charm. Heard a story like this before? Have you seen people who worked the same hard as you did, got the same opportunities as you had, have the same background as you have but are doing a lot better than you? There are people you instantly get a liking to, whether you have spoken to them or not. There are also some people who send bad vibes despite them doing everything right. We all know actors who do not look like Greek Gods, have a fat nose, stutters during dialogue delivery, do not have a 6-pack, yet have captured the hearts of millions. We all must know somebody who gets multiple chances despite the mistakes they made, who have people believing in them despite not having a proof of any visible success. There are cases where she might have uttered the same words as you did, but you were able to make an impact that she couldn't. It does seem unfair, but is the harsh truth that some people have a serious advantage that you cannot put your finger upon.

Take Shahrukh Khan for example. He is not at all good-looking if you look at his features. Amir khan acts better than him. Hrithik looks better than him. But he is the heartthrob of billions. He is the king of Bollywood. People started prophesying that he would be a star ever since he starred in a TV serial Circus. Or take Tyrion Lannister from GoT. Who would have thought that Peter Dinklage, a dwarf, would be the most loved character in that TV series?

So, what stood out ? What makes them different that the rest. Usually, it is difficult to exactly define that quality or pin point what it is that makes the world believe in them and love them. Its called the X- factor. And like in algebra, the X is unknown. Its an aura they are born with, their magnetism garnering interest and attention from people. It is so subtle that we often miss to notice it and assume the world is biased. They radiate some kind of positive or negative energy that can only be felt. A bad choice, a failure, bad behavior, nothing can diminish the power of the X-factor they are born with.

If you have it, you are lucky. If you know you have it, you are even more luckier. Tap into it. That is what will make you stand out in the crowd.












 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

W - Wastage




I have this fetish to not waste food. I try my best to eat everything in my plate and use up everything in my fridge. From time immemorial, this was the practice in my home. I remember my dad devouring everything that was left over from a meal. His huge stomach helped him with his passion to respect the annadata(provider) and anna(food) itself. It was not so important for me then, during my growing years, and I don't know what made it so important to me now.

I see people, my own friends during college and later, who would stuff their plates with huge quantities and varieties of food and eat only 40% of it. They don't even flinch while trashing that 60% . Yes, you did pay for that food, but what you have just trashed is resources other people could have used. That rice, that vegetable, that meat could have fed two other hungry children. At this granular level, it may not seem much, but if you look at statistics, the amount of food wasted globally each year is more than enough to feed 1 billion hungry people in the world. Organizations and people in the food industry have begun to realize this. Restaurants in some places like Hong Kong and China are charging a fine to diners for leaving left overs.
 
When you trash that food away, it is not just the food that you are wasting,. Its the money you spent to buy it, the other resources you used to make the dish, the time you spent to cook it, and others' efforts to produce it. And I am not saying stuff it all up when you cannot, or eat despite not liking it. But what we can do is make some conscious efforts to cut down on food waste.

People think I am crazy or too lazy to cook, but I use every bit of my capacity to use what I have. This is the only thing I can confidently say is my obsession.

- I try to leave a clean plate. Be it a restaurant or at home or a potluck dinner. What helps me here is knowing my taste and appetite. Understand how hungry you are and what you are ready to eat. If trying out a new dish, checking if we can have in smaller quantities helps.

- I manage the food in my plate. More curry in my plate than the rice? I start using up more of the curry and less rice. Less curry than the rice? I make sure I am leaving enough for the rest of the bites with each bite. That's because I don't want to be left with just plain rice and nothing to eat it with.

- I can eat any damn combination. Poha and dal. Or Upma and rasam. Or Oats, dal, and beans fry and eggplant fry. I can even drink plain sambar as a soup ( inherited from Baba the great :) )So I do not mind mixing and matching varieties that are even totally out of league. Try to be open minded here and you can save a ton.

- I manage my fridge. Quickly perishable vegetables and produce get a place in the first row of my fridge. The ones that live longer are stacked behind.

- I shop smart. I make a plan in my head as to how many times I will cook in this week, and what I want to make. That way, I make sure I don't over buy. Last week's dishes are not repeated, so I try to get different types of vegetables.

- I try to cook smart ( others think it is ridiculous :D). I try to use up the whole of a vegetable when making a dish. Like whole of eggplant or whole of bottle guard. If there are little bits of vegetables unused, I mix them all up in a dal or a mix-veg curry or fried rice. I do not always stick to the conventional way of making something. Like if I see 200gms of green beans in my fridge and a half bell pepper, I add it the dal. It doesn't change a thing for me. Once I even made a mixed veg egg burji. Carrots, green beans, capsicum and egg. Its just more nutrients in your stomach :)

- Eating left overs the next day. I do not mind eating 1-2 day old food. It may be of lesser quality than a fresh one, but it is still good for atleast a day. You can also repurpose them by adding a little more spice or making a fresh side to go with the left over. If you have a problem eating stale food, see if you can donate it somebody. In developing countries, like India,  there will be too many people who will be glad to have found their meal. Or better still, try to cook just enough. In these days, eating less is much better than eating more.

-Share. Cooked for five people instead of two ? No problem. Share it with your friends or neighbors. Give it to you bai or the watchman or find somebody who will appreciate this unexpected food in their plate.

- Having guests? Cook a simple meal. When it comes to me, having too many choices leaves me unsatisfied, because I wouldn't have enjoyed all of them like how I would have wanted to. And I will end up over eating. A starter, and two main course dishes and a dessert would be great enough. Just make sure they taste good ;) Times are changing, and less is good! I even read somewhere that some Japanese restaurants serve only 80% of usual capacity of a plate because being only 80% full is being healthy. If you just had a party and there is a lot of left over food, pack them for the guests. They will be too happy to take some home.

I just hope everyone starts doing their bit. More than the saving part, what pains me is the 'not-valuing' part. Food is a necessity, do not treat it like a luxury.



 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

V - Vices




Did you ever find yourself feeling jealous of a close knit friendship that you are not a part of?
Surprised that you could feel this way?

Did you ever find yourself not empathizing with an impoverished family? Every questioned yourself why you have no emotion to some things in this world ?

Ever disliked somebody for no reason? Ever felt like running away from that person but when you sit and think about it, you find no real reason that made you feel this way? Is it because you are being judgmental about every action they do and every word they speak ?

Know that person who lies at the drop of a hat? Be it how much the dress cost or why they didn't turn up for the party or why they were late, they have to lie.

Does it trouble you when the husband spends more time with his mother these days? Feeling possessive about him? Is it eating you from inside that you are not the only person he loves?

Want more of everything? More food, more money, more jewelry, more clothes, more houses, more gadgets? How much ever you have, you cannot control the greed in you?

Know a kid who disrespects you at times? When you are wrong and he is right, he doesn't leave a chance to show you were at fault? He answers you back and doesn't listen to what you say, despite you being a parent or an elder who knows what is good?

Feeling insecure? Do you find yourself  keeping things to yourself like a plan or an idea or information or an opportunity to yourself  for fear of others benefitting from it or others becoming better than you?

Are you guilty of being lazy and procrastinating? Do you always say tomorrow, when you have to do something?

Do you find yourself finding fault with everything they do? Maybe you are missing a different perspective because you are too rigid and not open to others' opinions? Do you think you are right and others are wrong? Is it hard for you to accept that they could be right ?

If your answer to any of the above questions is a yes, worry and do not worry. Worry, because its a vice and not a good thing to have. And do not worry because you are not alone. We all have our vices, in various degrees and forms. Nobody is perfect and born flawless. It was very hard for me when I realized I was not all that perfect good human being I thought I was. Life made me discover myself a lot more and in that process, I came face to face with many traits in myself that I absolutely hate.

The good news is, I crossed the first step. I am aware of my flaws and I accept those. The next step is to overcome them. Its a slow process, do not expect yourself to change overnight. But if you are consciously making efforts to keep the negative feelings in check, and try to be genuine, you are on the right track.

And just like you have vices, others have it too, maybe a different set of them. So be understanding of that and treat them and give a chance like you would give yourself.

PS : I came across a huge list of vices on the internet. If you are interested and want to find out more about your shortcomings, read this:

http://writeworld.org/viceslist




 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

U - Utopia




 
 
A far away house tucked in the beauty of valleys and streams. A white picket fence running around it, not so much protecting from the wild but adding more beauty to an already beautiful home.

A half-built tree house, lying in a corner of the front-yard, waiting for some attention. The old man is often seen teaching his grand kids how to build that house on their own. Curious squirrels squirting around it trying decide if it is edible.

An old woman sitting in the patio, reading, adjusting her glasses that refused to stay on her stub of a nose. She is always seen there, outside, the winter sunshine gently brushing her face and the breeze ruffling her short grey hair.

The wind chimes tinkled in some rhythm, bringing in a sense of calm and harmony, that was ethereal. It always soothed the old woman. It was obvious from the fact that she had so many varieties of them hung all over the porch.

Colorful birds visiting the bird-feeder occasionally. Sometimes a red Cardinal, other times a blue Jay flocked the feeder, chirping in their own hungry way. The bird poop was not a bother as much as their absence was.

Hot tea brewing in the kitchen, the heavenly smell wafting across the rooms along with the humming of a 1970's song. There was distant laughter too, a happy and cheerful kind. It probably was the son and his wife, fixing some snacks for the family.

Then the sound of running footsteps. Gentle shrieks and screams followed by giggles. Small pretty frock and rugged jeans scampering all over the house. Happy little feet leaving their footprints everywhere they went.

A cozy home. A beautiful family. And some peace. This is what this place is made of.

I hope to be that old woman someday.


 

The Two men in my life.



"Yeh toh mere do bĂȘte hai", he used to say translated roughly as 'They are my two sons. They do nothing less than what a son would do'.

~~~

It was a couple of years ago. I was driving you and Ajji to some place. And then I hit a person on the road. He was drunk and badly hurt. It was my mistake too, I didn't notice him and didn't stop in time. I remember how we hurriedly got out of the car when people started gathering, how you said  you were driving and were sorry for what happened, and how you held me close. I think every father would have done the same, but what really touched me was you never blamed me for what happened. You were all the time concerned about what I must be going through having run over somebody.

Only a person like you could do it.

~~~

We were parting ways, in NY. The realization that this anticipated moment was NOW, left a few moist eyes. A huge parade of 10000 LGBTs was passing, celebrating a law that was passed. The pandemonium stifled a few sobs and drowned words of encouragement. I stood there watching, not knowing what to do or say, as we said our goodbyes, when you opened your wallet and thrust a Macy's gift card in her hands. How do you know to pull the right strings?

~~~

How can you be so selfless sometimes ? I remember how we used to come home tired, from office, after a long day. I also remember how you taught her Java, scolded her, made her cry, pushed her to study harder, made it your goal to prepare her for interviews and how you worked relentlessly along with her into late tired nights. It amazed me, how you did what I didn't even think of doing. How you treat my family as your own. How you leave no stone unturned to do some good.



Some actions leave a deep mark in our hearts. You may fail to realize them in that moment, but if you ever look back, you will be surprised by the magnanimity of it. Blessed we are to be around such people.
 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

S - Selflessness



She had woken up excited today. It was Sunday, her happiest day of the week. She hurriedly freshened herself up, had some nice tea, put on her glasses and settled down with her Ipad. But something seemed to be wrong that day.

'Page cannot be found'. 

She restarted the iPad and tried again. Nothing changed. She hustled to the bedroom where the wifi router was, turned off the switch and turned it on again. She waiting patiently for sometime to let the lights flicker back to life before retrying.

Nothing changed .

                                                                               ~~~

I overheard Sush giving someone directions on the phone. He had been on it for more than 30 minutes now.

"Turn over the router Maa. Do you see any numbers there? Like 142.191...  Its called the IP address."

"Okay, now open Google Chrome. Its on the desktop Maa. What? How to get to desktop ? Okay, let me tell you..."

"Now open the browser and type in the address. Google Chrome is nothing but the browser. Yaa, Chrome. Did you open it?"

"Enter userid and password now. Password is coming as all stars? Yes, that's how it will appear, so nobody can see it. Yeah, its for security, don't worry about it. Go on and type it."

"Do you see WiFi on any of the tabs? You see many? Okay, is there like a horizontal bar..with WiFi on it, that you can click ? You should see SSID when you click on it? Search Maa. Look around a bit please."

"Oh you must have pressed the wrong one. Go back now. Back maa, err..how do you go back..oh yeah! do you see any arrow turned backwards ? Or is it a pop up? Well, pop-up is a..never mind. Do you see a cross mark anywhere? A small 'x'. It is used to close whatever opened..."

                                                                            ~~~

She was having a hard time understanding the terminologies. She never had to use a phone or a gadget before, until the kids moved. On top of being technically challenged, the touch screen of the ipad was playing games with her and made it even harder to fix the problem. But she wanted to get to the bottom of it. She adjusted the glasses that were sliding off her nose, and went about following the instructions her son was giving her on the phone.

                                                                            ~~~

It was almost one and a half hours before the internet was restored. She immediately opened hangout, and dialed her daughter's id.  After a couple of rings, she could see two faces smiling at her. Her grand kids. Her face brightened up. She ran her fingers over the screen, as if trying to touch them but realized it wasn't the same. Her earnestness gave way to a tinge of sadness that they were so far away, but she didn't let it ruin her moment with them. She broke into a cheerful smile and was soon engrossed in an animated conversation.

                                                                            ~~~

Will we be ever capable of such love? How much will we be willing to take when it is our turn to let go?




R - Respecting where we come from


How many times have we made ourselves the butt of jokes just to evoke a few laughs? How many times have we belittled our country, tut-tutted at its ways and cribbed about how it has not evolved with time?

'Aaah..you should visit India. You will not survive for a day! " Followed by some shallow laughter.

'We invite a thousand people to our weddings. Our parents and people in India believe in spending all their earnings in conducting marriages. And you should see the bride, decked in complete gold. Its a sign of status in our society. Tch. Tch.'

'When you cross the road, you should look in all the directions...LOL!'

How many times have we been guilty of this ? It may seem harmless on the outset, but do we even realize what image we are forming of ourselves and our country in others' minds? Do we realize that we are representing our country in this big world? Why is it so important for us to detach ourselves from where we belong? Why is it so hard to show some respect to our home and not degrade our country?

Agreed, its all chaos, there are many things that are wrong with the country. Life isn't easy and everyday is a struggle. But it is what made us what we are today. I am not saying act as if these do not exist. I am not saying do not acknowledge the problems. All I am saying is treat your country like how you would treat your own home.

We belong there. Whether you like it or not, that's our origin. How much ever fun we make of it, it defines us, and in the eyes of the world, we are Indians.

Every day may be chaotic and a fight for survival .. but hasn't that made you what you are today, a fighter? 

Weddings are ostentatious and a huge investment of money, but the underlying emotions are as true as they can be. You may not share a deep bond, but don't you enjoy it when the larger family gets together, stays with you for days in your home and be a part of the celebrations? Dont you enjoy meeting your grandma's brother or your dad's aunt sometimes and hear stories of their childhood?

There is patriarchy in our country, the elders and the men get respected, whether they are the epitome of righteousness or not. This may be wrong in a few cases, but we can atleast appreciate the culture that asks of us to treat people with respect. Is respecting our elders, not answering them back such a bad thing ?

When parents become old, its the responsibility of the children to take care of them. How great is that? Don't you think we have to return the favor when they need it the most? Very few countries in the world follow this culture.

We have too many Gods, too many temples, too many religious practices that we do not understand and hence don't give a damn, we question everything that we don't know an answer for, yet, don't you feel at peace when you enter a temple after a long time? Don't you miss being woken up by the early morning Suprabhatam? Does it turn your insides up and down when you attend an Iskon bhajan? It does to me. Because it reminds me of what I am and where I came from.

And how about the late night debates you had with your dad on reincarnation, life after death, the concepts of heaven and hell and various other beliefs that our mythology taught us?

There are many things that we love and feel nostalgic about. Yet, somehow demeaning comes easily to us. Try talking about the good and interesting stuff for a change. Try not to bring up the flaws of our ways in conversations, instead, try talking about how it works for a population of 1.2 billion. Or better still, just shut up.

I think that's the least we can do. We, who have everything going for us. We, who do not do a thing to better our country. We, who have conveniently escaped the harshness of life there. We, who are trying to impress the world by mocking at ourselves.


PS: This post is specifically addressed to people who are living in different parts of the world, other than their home country.












Thursday, April 21, 2016

Q - Quiet





She had heard the clichĂ© so many times before, but she really understood the statement now. The silence was indeed deafening. The only sound in the house was from the aquarium, the sound of running water. It was supposed to be soothing, but it was irritating her. And then the voices in her head were becoming too loud in the quietness of her home.

'Everybody else seems to have something to do, but I have turned out to be nothing'

'Shall I join a university? Study? I will be busy atleast..but do we have enough money?'

'I am losing my independence. Oh God, why cant my life be like Ramya's? She goes to work, she earns money, she goes shopping, she is so free and I am so not.'

'Am I useless? Yes, I am. I do nothing. Just sit in the house, cook, eat, and while my time away, and wait for him to come home.'

'What will I answer his Kaku when she asks me what I am upto, again ? What will people think of me? What must be my friends thinking about me ?'

These thoughts raged a war in her head. Every single day. She questioned her very existence. What value was she adding to this world ? It killed her from inside that she was being left behind in whatever race this world was in.

Then something changed. She was home, as usual, TV blaring in the background, but her mind trying to rake up yet another war of thoughts. Some conversation that happened a long time ago kept coming back to her. It didn't have any relevance to what she was undergoing right now, but for some reason, it kept surfacing and overpowered the negative emotion.

"Oh how I envy you! I so love to cook but I never get the time and patience to cook the exotic dishes that you make. My job and Aroo take up all my time."

It suddenly dawned on her, out of the blue that each one of us want different things from this world. And it is most of the times what others have and we do not. She was craving for a job that she didnt have and her friend was craving for time to pursue her passion. Its like the theory of the circle. If you are inside the circle, you want to be out. If you are outside, you want to be inside. Everyone has a chance to build their own story. All they have to do is use what they have.

In her case, it was time.

She found her answer. She would no longer fret about her not having a job. Instead she would spend time understanding what gave her happiness, exploring her interests and finding ways to keep herself productive. She would build an interesting story, not something filled with self pity and repentance.

Suddenly her mind cleared and everything became quiet. And strangely, she seemed to like it.








Wednesday, April 20, 2016

P - Pani Puri



 



Everyday, our group of five would get down at IS Sadan while coming back from college. The pani puri on the road side bandi was famous for its hot , spicy and tangy taste. It was a bit expensive than the rest, but taste was what mattered to us. We used to stand around the stall in a big circle, smacking our lips, feeling happy and excited as if a child just found his favorite toy. We would wait restlessly, with small cups made out of leaves in our hands, while he hurriedly shoved small cut onions.

"Garam dena bhaiyya", one of us used to say, mostly me. I liked it hot. On a rainy day, it comes close to nirvana. Topping even maggi.

Never at any other time do I feel so vulnerable, so in control of something. I would wait, impatiently, shamelessly salivating, as he heats up the ragada. The green cilantro and orange shred carrots are pleasing to the eyes. For some unfathomable reason, the color of the food makes me like it. Be it the greenness of broccoli or the orangeness of a carrot. The smell of the spices wafting from the large flat pan and the sizzling sound tug at my senses magically. I can almost feel it now, 9000 miles away from that place.


He starts one puri at a time. Its an art you know, to serve pani puri. You have the break the puri with your thumb, big enough to put the ragada in and small enough to hold the water and, then dip the puri in the big pot of mint pani. It doesn't bother me that along with the puri, his whole hand is in the pot of pani. It doesn't matter to me that he rubs his hands to a dirty cloth occasionally while catering to other customers. Traffic and dusty roads are least of my worries. All that matters then is savoring the delightful taste in my mouth, the leaking pani finding its way onto my new dress and me not caring a hoot, seeing the same pleasure on my friends' faces and hoping fervently that this one is not the last of what I bought. Pocket money was meager back in the days.

And eating it is also an art. Your speed and accuracy are tested here. The rate at which he serves the puris is something overwhelming for first timers. He is always in a hurry, whether there is only one person or twenty. Muscle memory probably. If you call life a race, I don't know what you would call this.

Standing for pani puri is the most humbling experience of all. Whether you are rich or poor, young or old, a college student or a professional, everyone waits with a katora in their hands, like a bhikari, waiting for their turn. Its the cheapest and unhygienic of all foods, yet everybody's favourite.


Katora( a small bowl)
 
For me, memories revolve around Sush and I stopping every single day near Super bazar or Sheikhpet for a round of pani puri on our way back from office. And then cooking up stories at home as to why we wont have dinner. Sometimes we had a convincing story(or so we thought), some other times we just had to have double dinner in order not to arouse suspicions.

I also remember my sister and I exploring new bandis in our locality. While I was the one who preferred to stick to my favourite corner, my sister always wanted to explore and find new tastes.

Not to be left out, my entire family was a big fan. I remember all the five of us, including my grandma, getting out of our car in front of a street stall, huddling around it, choking on the spicy pani and yet not stopping, never looking at any other chat forms even though they were delicious in their own sense, looking at each other to see who was ready to stop, but none willing, going on until our stomachs burst and throats burned and then leaving the place satisfied, thanking God in our hearts for bringing pani puri into our lives.


This is how we look when we are eating PP

This is the first thing I miss about India. Its almost like a sacrifice I made in exchange for a job opportunity in the US. We still make it at home, with the very same ingredients, but its not the same. Where do I get the road side dust and sweat of the panipuriwallah ?

PS : Apologize for the extremely long post.

PPS : Bhikari is beggar. Ragada is a curry like dish made of potatoes and green peas, used a stuffing inside the puri. Pani is water, but in this context, it is mixed with mint and some spices.




A typical bandi in a roadside corner


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

O - Okay



~ You faltered? Its okay, don't be so hard on yourself. Mistakes happen.

~ Acting for yourself this time ? People might think you are selfish ? Its perfectly okay. Give yourself the same importance as you give others, atleast sometimes.

~ You just said NO to somebody ? Its okay. You sure have your reasons, even if they don't understand. Better still, try not to expect them to understand because they don't know the whole story.

~ You failed at something? Its okay. You atleast tried. Maybe you just need to try harder.
 
~ They judge you? Everyone does. Its okay. You know more about yourself than they do.
 
~ Somebody said sorry to you? Try saying 'Its okay' and see the wonders it does.
 
~Things not going your way? Having problems ? Its okay to not be okay sometimes. Like everything else, this too shall pass.
 
 

Laugh at your mistakes, but be serious about correcting them. Make yourselves a priority, but also be sensitive to others' needs. Acknowledge your failures, but never stop trying. Embrace pain but do not stop looking for happiness.


It is okay to not be perfect. Its okay to not have a perfect life. Nobody is and nobody has. Just love yourself the way you are and never stop loving life. And know that you will find a way and be okay one day.


 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

N - Not meant to be


Luckily for some, I am not going to write much today. Sometimes, an image, a single sentence or a single word conveys what a paragraph cannot. And these quotes below, sourced from google, do their job well.

Okay, sorry, but I do have something to say, like an introduction. Just changed my mind :P

Many a times, we find ourselves fighting for something that was not meant for us, searching for answers that do not exist, trying to become somebody that we are not, striving to reach somewhere where we were not destined to be, clinging on when all you have to do is let go. We try to seek it because we believe it exists, that it can happen, that it is how it is supposed to be.

But we forget that not everything is meant to be.












Saturday, April 16, 2016

M - Maturity or manipulation ?


Networking brings you more opportunities. So you attack your introvert nature and try talking to a stranger in a bar.
                                                                              ~~~

Treating people equally takes you higher. Makes your way down easier, they say. So you practice being nice no matter how you judge him. Eventually, you learn.

                                                                              ~~~

Your boss is a baseball fan. To impress him in conversations, you sit through every game painfully, just to be able to make small talk with him the next day. Its not really your thing, but you do it anyway.
                                                                              ~~~

You appreciate people. Tell them they are good and valuable whether you mean it or not. You keep people happy that way. You find ways to diplomatically solve problems without having to ruffle a lot of feathers. This attitude slowly creeps into your home and relationships become a game of tactics.
                                                                                ~~~

Oh boy, the things we do to grow. We just completely change ourselves.

I am not against changing for the better. Evolution is a natural process and if we think about it, we are almost all the time under the influence of either a person or nature or a book that we read or a movie that we watched. Every action we do, or every thought we think is inspired, like this post, which is inspired by what I am seeing around me. Our surroundings constantly shape our belief system, until finally we are left with a set of core values that define us. We learn a few more things, we unlearn a few things. But in trying to seek something from us that is not characteristic of us, are we losing ourselves? Where do you draw the line ?

Is this maturity? Or Manipulation? How much can we actually change? And in the end, who do we actually become?

Friday, April 15, 2016

L - Life these days


How would you react if someone told you, you have more potential than you think you have. That you are doing great, but you could be more ?

I don't know about others, but I freaked out.

First of all, that was a revelation to me. I could be more !? The happiness of knowing this was just a spike, that lasted only until the conversation, but what started brewing in this tiny mind of mine was, how big can I be ? Should I aim to start a company of my own, is that my potential ? Not knowing this answer of how big and what is my potential was overwhelming, to say the least.

Anyways, besides dealing with this uncalled-for stress, I got some new found energy, to do something more than I usually do. To try something new, act on long pending wish-list/to-do list, incorporate some discipline in my otherwise lackadaisical life, to spend time more productively. The definition of productive varies significantly from person to person. And before you think I am making life altering changes in my routine, stop right there. In my book, being productive can be something as simple as reading a novel or writing a blog post :D . While this explanation falls flat when confronted by Sush, my reasoning is I am improving on a hobby, so it is time spent usefully. To each their own, I guess.

Weekdays, its mostly structured. Work, then 30-60 minutes of workout in the form of either biking down the community trail or tennis or Zumba. Zumba, I go only twice a week, and that too only for Christina Cusmano. I would give anything for her wild energy. I also learnt some basic swimming, and with summer in full form, that is one more interest that I need to accommodate somewhere.
Ofcourse cooking falls somewhere in between. Sush and I are always improvising on the kitchen agreements we have between us. I am so glad to have him!

We also play 3 games of Table Tennis. Sush and me. Yes, three exactly, to limit ourselves. Our dining table in the living room doubles up as a stand for the TT board I bought for his birthday. Two bikes, a TT board gives my home an appearance of a sports room, but that's the way I like it. Personalized. Unconventional. The games last for about 30-40 minutes. Its has become a test of mettle. A matter of pride. Whoever wins, gets to do the mockery dance.

To break the monotony on weekends, we have been playing some games competitively. Pseudo winter games its called. Pseudo because it never really is winter here in Florida. Games like throw ball, seven stones, Pictionary, Antakshari, slow biking. It was a sort of revival of childhood memories. It has been good. Great actually. We also got introduced to two new board games, Sequence and innovation. It is some sort of an addiction now. We cannot spend a weekend without playing these games.

I am blogging a lot more frequently than I used to. I even took up the A-Z challenge for the first time, and have survived two weeks. Its keeping the juices flowing and I have never felt any better.

We have been travelling a lot too. Impromptu trips, sometimes planned. While 2015 was a year full of travels, 2016 is also turning out to be one too. We have more exciting trips lined up for this year, all thanks to Southwest airlines :) We have until this year end to fully exploit the companion pass we received from southwest.

So basically, life is at its best and I couldn't ask for more.




 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

K - Karma ?



They were locked in a passionate kiss when the news broke.
MI 737 caught fire mid-air.  And he was supposedly on it, according to his wife.
From the frying pan, he fell straight into the fire.
 
He died before he was dead.
 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

J - Juggernaut



She was chirpy. She was exuberant. She was intelligent. She was talkative. And she seemed to get along really well with everybody there, whether she knew them or not. She gave her ideas with extreme confidence, something that came easily to her, not because she was the senior there, but because it was in her genes. She carried a smile always, that was somewhere in between a blush and a naughty grin. She always spoke her mind and didn't seem to possess any kind of inhibition when doing so. She was hyper active, never the one to sit quietly at one place. Indefatigable was the right word for her. For some, she was too aggressive for a woman, for some, she was an inspiration. And for one guy in that crowd, she was beginning to be more than what he had expected.

He was the shy kind. Not too outspoken. He spoke only when he needed to. He was smart and confident himself, but you wouldn't know until you talked to him. He was the normal kind of guy, calm and subdued, not the one who would turn heads, but a simple person with definite and clear mind. On first glance, it  would seem like an unusual choice for him to make. But his heart seemed to think otherwise.


                                                                 ~~~~~~~


It has been 8 years since this happened. When we visited them last September in California, I asked for their WiFi password. She said with a smile, "Juggernaut". That was the college event they had first known about each other's existence.


PS1 : She is my best friend from college. And they are one of the strongest and adorable couples I have ever known. We (Sush and I) are still mystified as to how it all worked !:P On a serious note, whenever I meet them, I get a warm feeling about what love is all about. They make it all appear so simple.

 PS2: I know there is so much more to your story than I told here, but more of it some other time. Call this an introduction ! :P


.


 

Monday, April 11, 2016

If Only





You didn't try harder.
 
How much is harder?  How much should I have lost to know that I tried my hardest ? When do I know it is time to give up?
 
If only I knew.
 
Sometimes, there are no answers. How ever life changing that question might be.

 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

H - Home



      As he walked, the clicking of his shoes was the only sound he could hear. The place looked desolate today, even though it was the same place he was coming to for the past 17 years. Some sort of emptiness filled his stomach, and he felt a knot form in his throat.

He went into the kitchen to get some water. For the first time he noticed the fresh white rose sitting prettily in the vase. On the fridge. Was it even a vase? It looked more like a wine bottle. It probably was. His eyes dropped down to the freezer door. It told tales of their travels. As he scanned through the souvenirs, his eyes rested on one. This one had their picture. The edges were rough and uneven, and paper peeked out from the glass pebble. He remembered the time she pestered him to buy that transparent adhesive. She called it her "Souvenir project". He smiled sadly. "The best part of travelling is returning home"  one of them said. Home. He felt so far away from home. It looked colorful, with all the magnetic slabs, scribbling pad, post-it notes. It also looked cluttered, just the way she liked it. It makes things look real, she used to say. He had never agreed with her then.


A sad smile appeared on his face. It amused him how he noticed the details now. After she was gone.

His thoughts went back to the time they saw countless TV series on that couch. House of cards, Breaking bad, Quantico, Narcos, Game of thrones, Frasier, BBT, Friends, Desperate housewives. They had it all .. warm cozy cuddles to love making. Silly arguments to big fights... lazy afternoons to busy late nights. It might all come to an end now. They were staring at an uncertain future, trying hard to hold the pieces together, but it was falling apart, bit by bit. She was gone, to try and fix one of the pieces.



 The tinkling sound of the wind chime brought him back from his reverie. He gathered himself, went into the bedroom and lay down, staring at the empty closet that once was full with her colorful clothes.










































Friday, April 8, 2016

G - Grandma



Ajji enjoying her Doli-ride in Mahur.


She was on her bed, her bent frame pouring over some book. It was dark and she hadn't put on the lights yet. "Ajji, its so dark and you are reading. Why didn't you turn on the lights ?"
"Ha.. let me just finish up this para" she replied, absent-mindedly.

That's the first image that comes to my mind when I think of her. Neatly oiled long silver hair, rolled into a small bun. Fresh powdered face. Always clad in a light colored cotton saree. And the reading posture. She used to read everything she could lay her hands on. Milap, fursat ka panna, bhagvad gita, magazines, even English newspapers. She can speak English, in broken sentences. I have vague memories of her reading out the English newspaper to my grandfather whenever we got late from school. Grandpa making us read it all over again was a different matter altogether. It was a matter of pride for two little girls.

Conversations with her were very interesting. She used to be all ears about what we had to tell, open to ideas and held no prejudice in her thinking. She always had an anecdote or a verse up her sleeve which she promptly used according to the situation. Very impressive memory she has. She told small stories from our mythology whenever she had a point to make. Never did she thrust her opinion on anyone of us. Never did we hear her complain about anything. Except that she wasn't able to help mom as much as she wanted to.

Sometimes we would hear her sing. Either in the middle of the night, when sleep eluded her. Or when she was all alone and we returned unexpectedly in the afternoon from wherever we had been. She could have been a singer or anything she would have wanted to be. Learning was ingrained in her. And the thirst for being useful. At the age of 75, she used to clean her bathroom herself, and wash her blouse and petticoat when the bai took leave.

One other thing that I admired about her was her open mindedness. I am not sure if it was because she was well-read or if it was her inherent nature, but she was modern in her outlook. The biggest testimony of this fact is she readily accepting my marriage to Sush. And being happy about it. The first inter-caste marriage in our family.

And how can I not talk about her most characteristic feature!? She always has this need to cough, either when she has a mouthful, or when drinking water or when laughing. And this makes my dad go bonkers. He has a wild imagination when it comes to this and his subsequent actions are driven by the assumption that she is going to choke and might die. Like coming to her running from wherever he is or urgently dispatching people to get water and what-not, or closing his eyes and waiting for the worst to happen. And when things slowly begin to settle down,
"Eat slow will ya?! Nobody is eating your food and No! Stop talking while you are coughing for God's sake! You always have something to say when you cannot! "

It doesn't stop here. What starts as a stifled cough slowly snowballs into incessant coughing. Something like this CoughCoughCoughCoughCough . And the most consistent fact about this episode is, it always ends with a sneeze. Three to be precise.

I dedicated this another post to her. You can read it here.

Its funny how some memories are ingrained in our sub-conscious mind. Something we never gave a second glance at or thought long enough. For example, the kind of laugh they laughed or how they sat in the verandah and gazed into nothingness or how they drank their tea or the look on their face when they got angry. Just a few simple things about them that belonged to them as a whole. And when you remember them, it leaves you all warm and fuzzy. Just like how I am feeling now.

So, here is to Ajji. Her name is Prabha, which means Light. She is 80 now and going strong. All I wish for her is a smooth ride hereon.


PS : Ajji is Grandma in Marathi.





Thursday, April 7, 2016

F - Forgiveness




He froze in fear, small beads of sweat forming on his forehead. He was directly facing the barrel of a 0.38 pistol and he wasn't sure why he was not dead yet. The gun-holder still seemed to make up his mind.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
He could recognize him from a distance. The minute he saw him, anger rose in this entire body. He didn't know from where he mustered the courage, but he found himself pointing the pistol he had never used in his life. He had killed the murderer over and over in his head so many times before, but something was stopping him now. The image of Claire in his arms, as she lay lifeless, played in his mind. And then he heard voices. Voices from a conversation they had a few months ago.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Bullshit! I can never forgive someone if they hurt me. I would give them back the same shit they gave me! I am no saint, I am human! "

"But wont you be carrying the burden of hurt with you ? Harboring such negative emotions is only detrimental to you, not that guy! Forgiveness is not something you are giving to somebody. Its something you give yourself..."

"And how would that person learn his lesson? Forgiveness is cowardice. When you don't have the strength to get back at them, you tend to let go. Its a sign of weakness. Would you forgive me if I beat you everyday ?" He had asked, a small grin appearing on his face.

"Hmm... Its quite the opposite. As a matter of fact, forgiving requires the last drop of your strength. Try forgiving someone sometime", she had sighed, resigning to the fact that her husband wouldn't change his mind. Not his fault, it sometimes takes a lifetime to realize that. 
Almost like an afterthought, she had added,"I wouldn't punish you for beating me. I would just leave you and move on. You wouldn't have an inch of space in my thoughts ever again". 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It was as if Claire was trying to guide him. He had never agreed to her then. All these days, ever since he lost her, only he knew how he suffered. He couldn't accept the fact that she was no more in his life. He was a wreck. The image of the killer kept haunting him and he promised himself to avenge her death.

He clutched the gun tighter and muttered, "Forgive me Lord..."

The bullet left the barrel and found its mark.

"...but this man has to die". Ironic, isn't it.

PS : I read an article in TIME dated Nov 23rd 2015. The cover page read "What it takes to forgive a killer". It was about how the families of survivors and the dead in a mass shooting in Charleston chose to forgive the killer. I was shocked at the enormity of this gesture. It left me wondering, if one of them came face to face with the killer, would he let him go ?

What are your views about forgiving ? How easily can you forgive anyone ?






Wednesday, April 6, 2016

E - Equality - What are we fighting for ?




The International women's day passed a while ago. Many blog posts and articles voiced their concerns, discussed stats about how there are less number of women CEOs in the world, how there is less than 30% representation by women in politics and how the world needs to change. For an average woman like me, all this sounds a little too far fetched. All this may be true, but I am more concerned about the grass root level. Where do women stand in households? In regular offices? In public?
---------------------
This fight, for equality, is not a fight against men. And its not a fight to be equal to men either. I believe both are different. They cannot be equal.There is a reason there are men and women, two different beings. This fight is about having as much freedom as a human being is entitled to. Its about letting a woman find her abilities and realize her potential. Its a cry for equal opportunities. Its a shout out to women to stop being a victim and start standing up for herself. That she is capable, of much more than what she was told be. To create an awareness that she deserves better treatment.

Having said that, women still are the weaker sex. She still needs to be cared for and given the jacket when it is cold. She still needs laws to protect her from abuse and sexual exploitation. She has her monthly discomforts and painful pregnancies. She still needs to be looked after. She still deserves some special arrangements. This is where we are not equal to men. Biologically and physically. We are not less. Just different.
------------------------


What do I want as a woman ?

Freedom. Freedom to think forward. Freedom to dream about a future for myself.

Support. Support from family to pursue my interests as long as they are realistic. And support when I fail at something. I would appreciate it, if my failure is judged not based on my gender but based on my capabilities.

Trust. Trust that I can think for myself. I don't always need a husband or a father to guide me or make decisions for me. I want to be trusted with my decisions.

Judgement. Do not cloud your judgement based on what the world will think of me, or you for that matter. You do not become a woman if you cook sometimes. I do not become a slut if I wear a skirt. The world will always have something to say. Do not cut my wings because your aunt may not like it.

Let me be me. According to the world, I may not qualify as a woman in a few aspects. I may not be passionate about cooking or lack that devotion to God. I may struggle to iron your clothes or do not know the quick home remedies that every other woman seems to know. Accept the way I am. Not every person is the same.

Sharing. Women are not machines. They are doubling up as a home maker and bread winners. Apart from doing a regular job, we also cook, keep the house clean, feed the babies, try to keep fit, pursue something of personal interest. It would be nice if responsibilities are shared at home. Including cleaning the bathrooms or changing a diaper. I am 200% sure that if you ask a husband to exchange roles with a wife, none of them would be ready to do. Half of the reason being we do shitty work that nobody wants to do. It is somehow a woman's job by birthright. So, we deserve some acknowledgement that we do most of the heavy-lifting despite not liking it.

Emotional space. Again, women are human beings. Just like any other human being, we have our mood swings. We have our bouts of laziness. We also fall sick.  Some tasks fall behind schedule. Sometimes a meal is not tasty enough and some other times we just feel like doing nothing. Before pointing a finger or starting a lecture, try to understand. We would appreciate if you take it on yourself for a change..or say 'Lets do it together'. Better still, just keep quiet. We will be grateful for not being treated like a maid. Seriously.


Patriarchy. Do not impose decisions or give that 'I am the husband' or 'I am the father' line. Arguments should be based on logic and not ego.  And understand that there can be two right ways to look at something. If  I say something different than you did, it doesn't mean I am trying to prove you wrong. I am just giving a different perspective.

Forgiveness. Just like men, we make mistakes too. Reprimand us if you need to. Then forgive. But do not treat us like shit. Remember how you are treated when you make a mistake.And do not tell me you never make a mistake. That's a huge egotistic belief. And not true. Sit together and resolve the situation.

Restrictions. All women are bound by rules. Some are imposed by the society, some come from parents and some from a husband. We live in a bad world and being the weaker sex, many of them are meant to be protective. Which is reasonable. But hiding behind this excuse, do not take liberty to add your own insecurities to the list. I don't like you doing this, I don't like you doing that  - as much as we want to keep peace by compromising, we would appreciate if you keep an open mind. Things change. What may have been a modern, bold dressing ten years ago might have become the norm now. Like I said before, trust us with our choices. Believe that we can think about our own good.

Independence. Being independent is a great feeling. Earning our own money. Being useful in some way. Driving around on our own. Having a all-girls night out. Having our space sometimes. We need these just like you do. It boosts our confidence and self-worth. Its a break we all need.

Career. We have responsibilities at work just like you do. If we have to stay late sometimes or work takes priority at times, understand we are being professional. We have a job to take care of. We dont want to stay basic or version 1.0. We want to excel at work, grow in our career and work hard to make ourselves important. Be something more. Just like how you want to return to a happy home after a long day at work, we need the same thing. Support us. Do not label us as ambitious women who do not care about family. Family is most important to us, but it is NOT the top priority all the time.

Are any of these outrageous ?

In different countries, in different households, the struggle for equality is on various levels. While women in some places fight for being treated like a human being, some other countries fight for equal pay and equal opportunities.

The patriarchal society, deep rooted in its belief that men are superior, cannot be changed overnight. Its a gradual process. And this makes the struggle a precariously balanced one. Women must tread this carefully, one wrong move and relations can crumble.

I hope in this race for equality, we don't forget the basic essence of being a woman.

What does equality mean to you ?


Spreading Hope.


 
It just takes a single candle.
To bring in some light
in otherwise what would have been complete darkness.
To bring in a ray of hope.
It may not weather the storm
but  may just be enough to give you a lead.

 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

D - Dreams

 

Her dreams were what defined her. She wanted to study abroad and become a doctor. She breathed passion into her work and inched closer and closer to her goal. Her aims, ambitions and desire to achieve them were the most important to her and she was doing all that she could to realize them. She built an imaginary fort around herself so she didn't lose focus. Nobody could enter her mind or heart without her permission. Nothing could distract her. Not even love.

He was very persistent. He tried various ways to express his love. He also said he would wait for her to come to him, even if it had to be an eternity. He believed in the power of his love, so he set her free. If she was meant for him, destiny would bring her back.

Nothing could change her mind. She didn't open up her heart to him, fearing her very definition would change. She felt that love created boundaries. How can someone who barely knew her, know how much she valued what she wanted to become? How could she trust someone, she wasn't even sure she loved, to believe in her dreams?

The storyline was inspiring until this point. Rarely do we see movies(Indian) where the protagonists have goals other than seeking vengeance, winning somebody's love, or ousting criminal gangs. This was one of those very few movies where there was a dream. An ambition. A passion to do something.

And like all other movies, the girl gave up her ambition to find love. She was unhappy. She was living her dream, but some kind of emptiness surrounded her, that only he could fill. So she gave up the very things that defined her.

Why did it have to be like that ? Couldn't she have found happiness and completeness while living her dream with somebody else along the way ? Couldn't she have found someone who shared her passion or at least understood her and supported her? Wouldn't it have been more encouraging if the movie showed her as a successful and also a happy doctor? Wouldn't it have been more relevant with the times?

It concerns me because, having grown up watching such movies, it has been engrained in our minds that success and happiness do not go with each other. You cannot find love if you are after dreams. You will be unhappy and you will repent.

Coming to think of it. its not just the movies. The very foundation of our growing up is based upon our parents telling us to be happy with what we have. That wishing for more or better is greed. But isn't it true that things can always be better ?



PS : The movies I was referencing here are Kerintha (Telugu), Yeh Jawani Hai deewani (Hindi), Love Aaj Kal (Hindi) where the protagonists had dreams but all of them eventually gave them up for love.

Monday, April 4, 2016

C - Coffee and Chai




I love the way you smell
Healing my mind and clearing my head
What  role you play in my life
I was afraid it would go unsaid.

Be it morning or be it noon
Be it raining or shining bright
I have to race to the coffee area
to get that much needed respite.

Not an hour goes by
without thinking about you
There are only so many relations
that are so true.

You are the ruse that brings family together
you are the reason friends stay longer
I cannot imagine what a cuppa can do
you have only made bonds stronger.

Big companies need you
So do the small truck drivers
In this crazy race called life
with your help, we emerge survivors.

We often don't realize
Its the smaller things in life
That keep us going,
That keep us rife.

So, I thank you Coffee and Chai
for warming me up for the day
for helping me keep my head
when things go the other way.

 
PS : All coffee lovers, its time we let Coffee know how much we love it ! Or rather, need it.


 











 
 









Saturday, April 2, 2016

B - Being a woman



"Nirali ! Eat your ice cream soon, its melting and you are spoiling your new frock". She watched as the little girl's mom playfully reprimanded her daughter. Her sad eyes revealed some kind of pain. My little girl would have been this age, she thought. She still couldn't forgive herself for letting her husband kill her unborn daughter.

In some places, its a bane to be born a woman.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

She felt eyes piercing through her. Then there was a whistle and laughter. She didn't dare to look up, afraid of what she might have to see. She pulled down her dupatta a little, not knowing what was it that attracted the boys attention.

Everyday, a woman has to brave unwanted attention and the need to feel safe.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

She felt hands groping her behind. There were scores of people in the bus and she was skeptical to react. She moved forward a little in her seat, hoping he wouldn't be able to reach her. But the guy was persistent. She was scared. Should she just move to another seat? Should she call out for help?
She got up, turned around and slapped that man hard, shivering all along. Nobody could mess with her.

She thanked her mom for teaching her to stand up for herself.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Why are you taking that tablet mum?"
"Ah..nothing dear. Just feeling a little feverish." Brushing her sickness aside, she went about setting dinner for the family.

They wondered what gives her the strength to do all that she does for them.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

She had an important presentation to give that day, and there was absolutely no way she could skip work. No, not even a hurting stomach and a painful back. It was that time of the month again that she hated the most about being a woman. She cannot tell her boss, he being a he. He wouldn't understand. And a professional cannot give such lame excuses, can she ? Besides, this is a monthly story.

She put on a dark dress, stacked her purse with extra pads, popped a pain killer and set off. Her steps missing that confident gait, yet not stopping.

There are days when nobody has a clue what she is going through.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The pile of clothes and dirty dishes in the sink seemed to mock at him. The bai had been coming everyday, and it beat the daylights out of him the way there is always so much more to do. He was beginning to get a headache, and the racket the kids were making was adding to his grievance. His rumbling stomach reminded him of dinner. He started to make an omelette. Realizing the kids might be hungry too, he left the pan to burn, warmed their milk and made some mac and cheese. The smoke from the pan caught his attention, and in that hurry, 2 droplets of water made their way to the sizzling oil. It began to spurt everywhere, pinching his finger in that frenzy. The microwave started to beep at the same time and he felt his head burst like a volcano inside. Instead, he crumbled, exhausted.

How did she do it all ? He felt a pang of guilt for not having appreciated her enough. And more importantly, he never checked if she needed any help.

Most of the times, her efforts to keep pieces together goes unnoticed.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Everywhere, I saw women, young and old, in bright red shirts, unbuttoned at the top, exposing a good amount of cleavage. Being a woman, it pained me to see women being used as objects to lure men to their table. I didn't know who to blame. I tried to read their expressions but couldn't tell if it was their choice or if they had no choice.

While I was judging her, Rita looked gratefully at the generous tip the customer gave her. This would make the total $735. The money she had been saving up for a better life.

She is judged all the time. Even by her own gender.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

While I was writing this, I realized there were so many aspects to womanhood that a single post would hardly do any justice to what is being a woman all about. There is always so much more to be in awe of, to celebrate, and to understand. What I tried to do here is show her struggles in day-to-day life. How a woman has to endure and overcome various challenges that are thrown at her, some natural, some external, some from within herself.

















Friday, April 1, 2016

A - Aging with grace


I don't remember when I started being okay to being called an 'Aunty'. In my country, anybody you don't know and is older than you, is an Aunty. And it is somehow not a good thing, because it meant you are old. Until a few years ago, I used to scream when someone introduced me as an aunty to their kid. The transition was so smooth, I did not even realize when I had become one.

Have I used the word Aunty enough to put you off now? If not yet, please read on.

I am wondering now what exactly happened. Do I really feel older? Or did I just give up ? I am bordering 30 now, but still feel young. Feel is the catch word, not look. So stop rolling your eyes. So as I was saying, I have the same zest for life like I had 10 years ago. So what changed?

Is it because I am no longer that care-free person with few things on mind and fewer things to worry about ? I am suddenly responsible for so many things in life, like that month-end deliverable, weekend laundry, daily breakfast-lunch-dinner routine, keeping my blog alive, managing my hundreds of interests, that I am feeling all grown-up? And like an icing on the cake of worries, this nagging feeling of 'what-am-I-doing-with-my-life!'  as if I am going to die soon. Is it because I am acting more and more out of maturity and obligation and less and less out of how I actually feel? Has it to do with the fact that I do something because its the right thing to do and not because I want to do? I learn to let go because holding on is not an option sometimes? Winning is no more the fire that keeps me burning, but keeping peace is ?

Yeah, I think that's when it all changed.

I grew up. Everybody does, I guess. I am freaking out from inside that I am aging slowly.. touching 30 this year, but more than the number, its the feeling of growing old that is pushing buttons in my mind.

 I gotto worry less. Worry. Will I ever stop doing that ?

This reminds me of a question I saw on Facebook. What would you do if you woke up and realized that all these years you lived was just a dream. I would immediately go back to sleep, I answered in my mind. I didn't want to re-do these 29 years. Why did I feel like that, I wonder.

What would you do ?

And how are you handling aging ?

The answer is definitely this :

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...