Thursday, 17 March 2016

Guardians of the Night


Do you find yourself lost in a web of thoughts, spinning words at the least expected hour??  Happens, ain't it?  

Always the case with me...and more so when I am on the potty seat...Ohhh, why that frown now?  As if you never use one!!!  And come's a universal fact yaaaa...only you don't wanna accept that you get most of your brilliant ideas in the toilet too ..Duh!! :P  

This random thought though knocked at a random but decent hour as I lay wide awake in the middle of a moonless night, staring out of my window and listening to nothing but sweet silence. 

Read on and let me know if you find my random thoughts good, very good, or superlatively awesome ;) :P :P 

         Sky so dark, streets so misty...
         There ain't any stars scattered itsy bitsy..

         Silence and darkness together compete...
        As they wait for the Sun to greet..

      He shall rise and bring some shine..
     While they rest until it's time to dine...

        Back they come, hand in hand...
         Guarding the night, together they stand.

P.S.   Well, this is called Leisure Writing ;)  :D  

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Rangon Ki Holi

With festivals a galore in India, each unique and holding it's own significance, Holi is definitely one of the most loved ones.  And why not??  It is a festival celebrating love.  They say Lord Krishna's pranks of coloring his beloved Radha's face gradually turned into a celebration with people smearing their loved ones with colors and expressing their love.  It also marks the onset of Spring.  Even today, the temple towns of Vrindavan and Mathura host the grandest celebrations with people coming in from all over the world to experience unfettered joy.  Having heard and read so much about it, I wish I could be a part of all that energy, love, and joy someday.

Memories of my childhood engulf me as the festival approaches.  Pestering Maa to buy me some colors in the market and then again wanting to buy all of them while she would ask me to choose any two or three.  Such a difficult choice to make, that would be.  Come on, who can leave out any color for that matter??  I wanted all of them.  Year after year, we would battle it out...I won some, and She won many.

Image Courtesy:  Google - India Mart

I still remember my rendezvous with the festival of colors.

I could hardly sleep that night.  Raghav had told me umpteen stories about it, and I was just a few hours away from knowing what it would be like.  I had my imaginations running wild.  I was anxious and excited at the same time.  I was wide awake, or I thought so, as I heard my mum's voice, "Vidyuuu....Raghav is already here....Don't you want to go play Holi??!!"  Goodness Gracious!!!  When on earth did I fall asleep!!  I hurried out of the bed, scrambling, falling, managing to freshen up (or did I??  :P), ran to the bag filled with colors and pani ke gubbare, picked them all up, smiled gleefully at Raghav, and ran we both out of the house screaming, "Holi Haiiiii !!!!"

Scared of all the mess that I would get my hair into, Mum had made me sit down the previous evening and oiled my hair nicely using her all-time favorite brand of coconut oil - Parachute.  She loved the fragrance and vouched for it's efficiency.  "It will protect your hair from all the dirt, enhance it's growth, and give it a beautiful shine," she always has said.

Raghav was my landlady's grandson and my best friend who taught me how to cycle, how to burst crackers, how to fly a kite, and now he was going to take me to experience and play Holi !!!  Being born and raised in South India, I had no clue as to what Holi was even at the age of 8.  So this was going to be a big adventure for me and having heard so much about it from my buddy bro, I was all set to have fun.

The moment we landed on the street, I heard a splash and before I could realize what had happened, I was all drenched in reddish colored water.  My heart stopped for a moment...looked up at the kids around me in a state of semi-shock even as they smiled, giggled, and laughed...and then came the adrenaline rush...having tasted the flavor of  Holi!!!  Chasing each other with pichkaris (plastic hand-held water pumps), throwing water balloons, smearing colors, splashing water...Oh I had so forgotten myself and ran around the streets of Karol Bagh with Raghav and his friends.  My heart thumps faster, and I feel a strong rush of emotions as I recollect my first Holi.  How I have been in love with the festival of colors ever since then.

The love affair continued when we moved to Pune.  What beautiful memories!!!   CanPark was an apartment with 40 flats, and it was mandatory for everyone to participate in the holi celebrations (else they had to pay a price for it...*wicked grin*).  Holika Dahan (a ritual signifying the victory of good over evil) with offerings of Puran Poli (a sweet bread made of self-raising flour, split Pigeon Dal, and jaggery), singing and dancing around the bonfire was just the beginning of all the fun.

Next morning, all the didis and bhaiyyas and some super-enthusiastic uncles and aunties, including my parents, would happily go around the apartments, greeting and smearing everyone with loads of vibrant colors and pulling them all out for a gala celebration.  I do remember a particular someone getting seriously offended, but then, we did get away with bura na mano, Holi Hai !!!!  Haha... 

Scrumptious food would be arranged in the parking area.  Oh!!!  How we hogged on the Samosas (a deep-fried savory with a filling boiled and smashed potatoes, peas, and Indian spices) and Jalebis (a deep fried sweet made of self-raising flour and gram flour, dipped in drooling at the thought of it) in our tiny-mini breaks!!! 

Age, sex, and religion never mattered.   Everyone was out there, enjoying themselves to the core, running behind someone with a bucket full of water or trying to escape getting dunked into the mini water tank...haha (of course with all safety measures taken).  :P :D  

There you go....memorable moments of our mommies and daddies having a gala time during one of the Holi celebrations at CanPark, Pune.

And mind you, apart from those two kids who probably got into the frame by chance, none of us juniors were even aware that someone was taking pictures.  We all were in our own colorful world.  But then when the photo albums made rounds, we had made such a hullabaloo as to why we were not informed....even we wanted to get clicked!!!  Huh!!!

By noon, after having all the insecurities and inequalities wiped out, CanPark would be a bunch of super-happy faces soaked in rainbow colors; having forgiven and forgotten, laughing and hugging each other.

Such is the power of this festival that works it's charm playfully, renews bonds and strengthens the faith in relationships, families, and friends.

There are times when the joy experienced is so overwhelming that it cannot be put down in words, and that's exactly what I am feeling right now.  Pune gave me my happiest and most memorable Holi moments.

Time caught up.  High school, and then college, and then work gave no time for any more celebrations, and the most common reason was "Oh Come On, we are all grown up now!!"

But then my marriage took me to UK, and there I saw that just like the 8-year-old me, my 20-something-year-old friends had never celebrated Holi !!!   Yes, you got it right.  They all were South Indians.....Tamil-speaking South Indians.  I leaped at the chance, and thankfully, my girls grinned happily at the idea of playing with colors.  Oh How eagerly we had waited for the colors to be delivered after having ordered them online.  Those packets of colors turned out to be precious packets of love and joy that we experienced as we played like kids even as the Brit neighbors watched in amusement. :) :)  

Now with the festival just around the corner, and my mind having taken a trip down the memory lane, my heart flutters at the idea of splashing colors at people - known and unknown, irrespective of color, caste, creed, sex, or age just like this ad by Parachute Advance.

I’m pledging to #KhulKeKheloHoli this year by sharing my Holi memories atBlogAdda in association with Parachute Advansed. 

I hope to unleash the kid in me this Holi.  Will you???

Chalo Phir se Bachpan Laut Chalte Hai...Chalo Phir se  Khul Ke Khelte Hai...
Aakhir Tyohaar Bhi toh Holi Haiiiiiiiiiiiiiii !!!!

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Share.... & Show that You Care

It was a weekend, and my 8-year-old nephew, Nikhil, happened to join me on my grocery & veggie-shopping errand (yes, this particular shopping is definitely an errand for me).  While we were at it, the phone rang, and there came the chirpy-voice of my other little nephew, Karthik, aged 6, "Hello Kaaki!! Where are you, and how are you??"  Excited on knowing that it was his cousin, Nikhil grabbed the phone, and the two got into a conversation.

Nikhil:       Hey Karthik!!  Why didn't you come to granny's house today?  I was waiting for you.
Karthik:     What to do, I was very busy you know.
Nikhil (bantering):    Oh ho!!  What is it that kept you so busy?  You know I cycled and played all day today.
Karthik:      I swept the floor and helped mom mop it too.  
Nikhil (laughing hysterically):   What !!!  Are you a girl to sweep and mop the floor?  Hahahaaa
Karthik:      So what if I am a boy?  Should I not help mom?  You should also do it.  
(I was amazed at the little one's understanding and stern instruction to his older cousin).
Nikhil (again laughingly):    Why should I do it?  Yashu akka will do all of that.

Yashu is my 16-year-old niece and the oldest of the kids at home.  And yes, that makes her job all the more difficult, especially handling all the three younger brats when elders are busy with the chores or some serious discussions.

Admiring Karthik's thought process at such young age, and of course my co-sister's educative ways, we drove back home, and the first thing that Nikhil did was to go "Maaaaaa... Ajji....You know what...." & narrated the whole conversation between him and his little cousin.  As expected, a fight broke out between Yashu and Nikhil over the same even before he could finish laughing at his cousin's "foolishness."  The women of the house (my mother-in-law and sister-in-law) who were watching the on-goings in amusement were quick to reprimand Yashu and lectured her as to how girls or women should take care of all the household chores, and that men were made for other things.  Well, I had to console myself that they didn't say - BETTER things.

Such a common sight in almost every Indian household!!!  I say Indian because having lived abroad for a couple of years, I have seen how both men and women there take up equal responsibilities right from running the house to caring for the children to earning their bread and butter.  It's just wonderful to have that kinda scenario where both get ample time and space.

But here, it's been an age-old practice in our country wherein the women of the house slog round the clock.  It doesn't mean the men don't work.  It's just that most don't "work" while at home.  And this is not a feminist statement (It's a fact ;) :P ).

How many times hasn't a tired and irritated wife come out of the kitchen and yelled at her husband who is happily glued to the television while she has been going around doing her odd jobs, feeding the kids, putting them to bed, serving dinner to the rest of the family, and just wanting to go sleep??  Did you visualize your mum??  Honestly, this would be at least once-a-week thingy at our place, and am sure at many of your homes too.  Wasn't it the same years ago when the ladylove would go give a helping hand to her husband at farming, grazing the cattle, and then come back home to cook and do her duties as a daughter-in-law, wife, and mother??  A sister would do all the chores that she could, and her brother would be happily playing around?? 

No matter how much we speak of gender equality, of women standing on par with the men at work, the scenario at home hasn't changed much.  I mean, a woman might be handling the toughest of profiles at work, but at home, she still has to make her own cup of coffee and clean the toilets and do the laundry while the husband can just go hit the sack, because... Oh come on!!  Poor thing, he's tired after a day's work.  You gotta understand, Baba!!  And women!!! Women are supposed to be super heroes who need no rest.  This actually makes my dimag ki batti to light up :P.  Battery companies like Duracell don't actually need to invest much on making an ad with animations and stuff like that.  They can show a woman working round the clock instead. What say?  Any better bet for a trust-worthy and long-lasting (non-exhaustive, actually) energy bank?? 

As I say non-exhaustive, I recollect a friend's mom muttering, "Who cares about me?  Even if I am on my death bed, they shall say, 'finish that work, & then you may leave' ." 

How unfortunate is that just because someone goes around the errands dutifully, we take them for granted?  Wouldn't it be nice for a son to lend a helping hand and say, "Mom, Aaj khana main banaunga," or for a husband to help do the dishes or for a brother to arrange his wardrobe instead of expecting his sister to do it for him?  Women, like their male counterparts, would love to put their feet up and read a book, catch up with some entertainment on the television, party with friends, or just have some "me time." 

A friend who's been married for 15 years now dreams of a simple luxury of being herself and not having to race against time every single day.  She told me one day, "How much ever we struggle, we shall all, in a way, remain bonded laborers. We shall never get freedom from this terrible routine grind."


It's high time we change these ancient, stereotyped gender roles of our society.  But then twisting the tag-line of a popular ad, "Why should boys have fun all the time??"  Why not share the workload with your partner or sibling and then have an amazing time together?  Oh come on, R. Balki has even made a movie on role reversal sharing responsibilities again, but in the non-stereotypical way) now, so if my blog fails to drive any sense, go watch Ki & Ka (I haven't watched it yet, but hopefully they shall work their magic on you!!! :P) :D.

As I write, I realize how truly blessed I have been to have had wonderful supportive men in my life; my dad, my brother, and my husband.  My husband, in fact, was the one who taught me cooking after marriage, haha, and it feels super awesome to wake up to a hot cup of coffee or a bread/omelette on a weekend.  Once in a while hi sahi, but it makes my day!!   

And the story at my place that day didn't end there.  I took Nikhil and Yashu to the kitchen and took out a bowl of firmly set fresh yogurt, and Nik exclaimed, "Maami !!!!  White Cake!!!"  It was my turn, and I asked him if he would like to learn how to make it, and he jumped with joy.  I winked at Yashu, and she smiled.

I am joining the Ariel #ShareTheLoad campaign at BlogAdda and blogging about the prejudice related to household chores being passed on to the next generation.  

The Whistle Blower's Song

                                                       Faces a galore, all masked...
"Who's a friend of you all," I asked.
"Me," "me," "me too", said they all.. Little realizing, the masks shall soon fall.
Lose didn't they any, but broken was I.. For they let me down from sky high.
Smile & praise for you is brought on... Bitch & abuse is what happens when you are gone.
I wonder how can you pretend... To someone you call a friend.
Lost trust and faith in this bond... I gotta feeling that I have been conned.
Whom do I trust, what shall I say... They had fun, while I had a price to pay.
Hurt I am, but none is bothered... As I stand alone, & they are all gathered.

Opine they do that I shall budge and fall...
But Truth I shall speak, and in Death, stand tall.

Hope you like this attempt of mine.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Burdened by Expectations & Reactions

On the third day at her new school, Mana was chided by her class teacher for not having done her home work.  "You join in a month after the academic year has begun, and now say you didn't understand what was taught in the class.  I am not responsible for this.  Get your calendar!!" the teacher had yelled and scribbled a remark in the school diary that Mana had just then received.

While playing with her newborn sister, the elder sibling - a toddler, Pari, just happened to hurt the little one unknowingly.  The father who witnessed the incident, reprimanded and caned the toddler, and went on to cuddle the younger one.

Every time Naina would come home with a marks card, the mother would go around the neighborhood, proudly flaunting her daughter's scores.  She once stood 3rd in the class, and her mother questioned as to why she had slipped down the race, and when she topped the class but scored a 99 on 100, she was questioned, "tumhara dimag kya bhais charane gaya tha yeh answer likhte waqt?"  (Read:  Was your brain busy grazing cows while answering this question?)  So typical.  So Rude!!   If Naina would come back after an exam and say that she didn't fare well, she would have to listen to her mother's taunts until she would fall asleep crying, only to wake up in the morning and listen to the same ranting yet again.

Scenarios like these are often heard and are heart wrenching.  Do you know what happened to these kids as they grew up?

Image Courtesy:  Google;
Mana had to deal with so many such instances during her childhood because she would land up at a new school every few years; with the syllabus changing every time she moved from one state to another, all thanks to her dad's job.  She time-traveled from Mughal dynasty to the Chalukyas and Hoysalas to the Marathas.  Geography would make her feel like she was jumping from one planet to other, whereas Maths was like zipping from one Milky Way to the other.  Once a bright child, Mana started fading away.  Parents attributed it to her being careless, and that only added to her plight.  A remark in a diary or a low score only meant that the child wasn't studying well.  No one bothered to know if the child understood what was being taught or not.  College got worse as Math was totally different from her last school syllabus again, and integration was something that made her feel worse (Integration makes me feel dyslexic!!!  so do sequences...and limits...and APs ... and GPs....arrrrrrrghhhh...I so relate to this feeling of hating Math!!)  With zero confidence and constant comparison with her counterparts, Mana, today, has failed to stand tall and get "recognized" in our pompous society.  

Pari's father never got to know the impact of that act of his on the little soul as he passed away within a few months after that incident.  To this day, Pari feels her father never loved her.  Somewhere that day, the relationship between the siblings bore a tiny little irreparable crack.  If only had the father hadn't been so impulsive...Sigh!!

Image Courtesy:  Google
Always chided and compared, never appreciated, Naina had turned into a blunt kid.  She had begun to hide things.  She had begun to lie.  She managed to stand first in her first year of college but shockingly flunked the next year which is considered to be the turning point of every child's academic life - Class XII or the second year of pre-university.  The ever so "prestige & society conscious" mother informed all the relatives that Naina scored 80% but was not interested in taking up any professional course, so was studying basic sciences.  The nosy neighbors who knew the fact would tauntingly enquire "Is your daughter doing something at all or not."  This only led to Naina becoming an introvert who hated communicating with people.  She felt the entire world bullied her, looked down upon her, and she was a misfit in the society.   Naina did complete her Class XII in the second attempt but wasn't allowed to study what interested her.  It had to be computers, because the entire world was studying computers, and Alas!!  Naina understood nothing about them.  You can probably guess what happened after that.  

It's so painful to even talk about these kids.  Lives that could have been so beautiful ended up so differently just because of someone else's lack of sensibility and sensitivity.

Parents and teachers, I believe, are largely responsible for shaping up a child's life, constructively or destructively.

Imagine a grumpy photographer capturing your picture.  Would you be comfortable, happy, and able to smile?  And what if your doctor is a nasty one?  Will you go back to him/her again??   If you notice, the friendlier and merrier your photographer is, the more beautiful your pictures shall be, and the more humane and compassionate a doctor is, more the chances of a patient responding and recovering better.  Then how and why does one not understand how important one's behavior is around little children who are still learning the nuances of life.  Why thrust one's choices on them?  Why burden them with expectations??  Why treat them like trophies??   The joy upon a child's achievement might be unparalleled, but not at the cost of ruining his/her childhood...and definitely not at the cost of ruining a life.

I know this one might not be an "entertaining" post, but it's exam time, and at this given moment, zillions of parents will be running behind their children forcing them to study well, to score well, to get a seat in a college or subject of their (the parents') choice.  It scares me if I even begin to think of how many children will manage to take up this challenge and live up to the expectations of their parents and the society, and how many shall dwindle away into literal or metaphorical lifelessness.

Image Courtesy:  Google
Instead could we all parents, teachers, & members of the society get a little responsible and let our little ones know that no matter what, we shall always be by their side.  Be a little patient, and allow them to learn from their mistakes.  Let them know that there's so much more to life than exam results, scores, and ranks?  That being a good human being and doing what they would love to do is what matters the most in life?  Let's give them loads of love, unconditional support, and understand them.  Let's try and make them feel comfortable and then have the pleasure of watching them grow out of their comfort zone and shine....
Let's try and allow them to BREATHE.....

Every coin has two sides and so does parenting.  This side seems insensitive to me and thus feel the need to bring about a change in it.

An Un-warned Bumpy Curve...Life's Lessons...Our Learnings..


Hmm...been quite a while since my last post, isn't it...

What kept me away were hubby's two more hospitalizations.  Just when we thought all was fine, he was diagnosed of Urosepsis and is under treatment for it now.  

During all these months, every since the beginning in October 2013, there have been moments where I've felt miserably disturbed, wanting to give up, wanting to run away, wanting to get into a sleep-induced coma and waking up only when things returned to normalcy.  But then, none of these were practical possibilities.  Or were they?  And when I would see my man facing the ordeal, my pains would seem so very trivial !!! 

Had heard that Life teaches its lessons at different stages throughout this journey that we have embarked on.  But can you imagine how cruel it could be to suddenly throw such a situation at a man who was married for less than a year, who had flown overseas, away from family with a set of goals and dreams that would enable him to have a smooth and comfortable life, both for himself and his parents.

Just when he thought he was at his personal and professional best, enjoying being the Quality Lead, handling 5 countries, he found himself trying hard to accept what his blood reports were screaming out.  I remember him telling the doctor, "Am feeling absolutely fine, doctor.  There shouldn't be any problem.  I don't understand why you say I am unwell."  He just wasn't able to digest what was happening to him.  Unfortunately, the 15-20 year period that the doctors said his kidneys would continue to be functioning fine, i.e., without needing any intervention, was cut short to a year and a half, and we were left staring dreadfully at dialysis as the only option before we could go in for an organ transplant.

That was April of 2015.  Cut to March 2016, it's been 5 months of hemodialysis, 3-1/2 months status post renal transplant, and 3 months status post re-implantation of the ureter due to the urine leak complication, and we are still battling it out, with a hope to be able to lead a normal life some day.

Yes, A Normal Life seems like a LUXURY today.  Something that we had taken for granted.   Something that we never realized was special.  This phase of life has taught us many a thing.  

Family is not just your daily soap opera, high on emotional quotient.  They form a solid foundation that stays rock steady even in times of worst storms, cocooning you, ensuring you are safe and sound.  They become your backbone when you go spineless.

Friends are life-supporting systems that help you stay "light" and float on the surfaces of the otherwise deep dark sea.

Time is Money.  This statement is so much more true than I had ever imagined or understood it to be.

Money is Everything.  Just visit a private hospital for a routine health check without insurance coverage, and you will know what I mean.

A calm mind is the best companion.  Getting tensed and worked up will only make things messier and murkier. 

We are not the sole-sufferers in the Universe.  Often, we find ourselves in a self-pitying mode over the silliest of things, blaming anyone and everyone for situations we are in.  Co-patients and families at the hospital showed how much more horrifying life can be, and how bravely and silently is everyone fighting a battle of their own.

And last but not the least, Life is powerful enough to be a fairy who can make your dreams come true with her wand in a jiffy, and at the same time be a wicked witch who can vanish things into thin air in a blink of an eye.  It's a mysterious voyage with loads of uncertainty and unpredictability, along with it's blind curves, invisible speed breakers, and camouflaged potholes.  All we need to remember is Come what may, we just have to chin-up, smile, and keep walking, no matter how many times we stumble or fall.  As they say, if Life gives you lemons, make a lemonade...or better, grab a tequila and some salt !!!! Haha...

There's something that I missed out on....Prayers...Prayer implies faith and positivity, both of which bring in the much required mental strength, and having had so much of it coming from family and friends has been of great help.  So here's a biiiiiig thanks to all you wonderful people.  Please do keep the positive energy coming, as we hope with a prayer....

                                     TriDalam Trigunaakaaram, TriNetram cha TriAyudham
                            TriJanma Paapa Samhaaram, Eka Bilvam ShivaArpanam.   


                                                        Happy Shivarathri, Everyone!!