Thursday, October 18, 2007

GIFTS


To give and then not feel that one has given is the very best of all ways of giving.

Monday, October 08, 2007

WALLS





These walls have seen me grow......they have seen me toil and plough....they've been spectators to the celebrations.....to the trials and turmoils....to the melodrama that has unfolded within their bounds....as I leave this haven for far-away shores, these are the walls that I am going to miss the most....

Monday, August 06, 2007

LOOK ALIKE


It was that time of the day, Tunna and Chutki took their places behind the long curtains in the living room. Eyes twinkling with mischief and faces beaming with smiles, they waited for Jiji to arrive at the scene. The big grandfather clock on the wall struck 7 and Jiji came waddling into the room. She chanted her prayers in a murmur and grimaced as she walked; it was the arthritis. There was nobody in the room, she noticed as she squinted from behind her thick glasses. Jiji turned on the TV and slowly settled into her rocking chair.
The TV screen came alive with Jerry trying to run away from Tom; Tunna and Chutki burst into loud giggles. Jiji frowned and called after them. This was the daily prank they played on Jiji. Every evening just before Jiji came to watch her soaps, Tunna changed the channel setting to their favorite Cartoon channel; Chutki liked to play accomplice. They enjoyed seeing Jiji struggle to find her channel; the channel that played all the melodramatic soaps.
Tunna and Chutki were the youngest among Jiji’s pack of grandchildren. Jiji had three sons and they all lived together with their families. Ever since their father’s death 7 years ago, they had brought Jiji to stay with them. Jiji had never wanted to come to the city from Bagra….what did the city have??…she didn’t want to leave her home and her friends, but couldn’t resist her sons’ plea. Nobody really had time for Jiji and she met the family only at night during dinner.
Jiji punched the numbers on the remote and looked up at the TV screen to see if she had found her channel. She muttered something about how naughty Tunna and Chutki were getting and how their generation lacked respect for elders, as she went about this channel scanning exercise. Suddenly her jaw dropped as her gaze settled on the screen. She adjusted her glasses and looked at the screen one more time.
The same straight nose, the same white hair, combed back slickly and the same starched, pure white kurta and the same broad frame. Jiji couldn’t believe her eyes. The man on the screen looked just like Ramcharan, her husband who was no more. The man was speaking a language that was beyond Jiji’s comprehension, but when he smiled…she smiled back, because the smile too was just like Ramcharan’s. She called out for her sons, but no one answered. For an hour Jiji sat there glued.
The family was surprised to see Jiji chirpy and excited at the dinner table but nobody bothered to know why. Jiji’s evenings are no longer lonely. Her hour-long date with Ramcharan daily even keeps her arthritis at bay. Sharing her deepest thoughts…speaking her heart out…reprimanding him about his health…complaining about her sons and daughter-in-laws at times…sharing stories about the city and her grandchildren…the hour seems to fly for Jiji

Saturday, August 04, 2007

RELIANCE SUCKS


Of late, I have been dishing out small pieces which I consider to be my feeble attempts towards fiction. But this post is very much real and as you will soon realize, about an issue that is close to my heart. Without further ado I will get to the heart of the matter. Please be ready for my rant mode for this post.
Pardon the profanity in the title. However, I am sure anybody in my position would be driven to such extremes. A few months ago we signed up for a broadband internet connection through Reliance. Since we signed up as a group (a bunch of people from my colony) they threw in a free intercom service and waived off the activation fee. We were elated! What the dodo in me failed to note is that we had ended up signing for their phone service for which my family had no real use. Hence, I decided to terminate the phone service and upgrade my broadband to a much better plan.
So pronto I did the needful; switched the broadband plan and put in the request to terminate the phone connection (14th July 2007). Apparently only a supervisor level individual can take the termination request. So 1st a regular customer care dude, verified my identity and then put me on hold for 30 minutes at least (seriously, no exaggeration there) so I could be transferred to the supervisor dude. Apparently all the supervisors were busy just the time when I wanted to put in my termination request. I gave them the benefit of doubt and tried to be merry listening to the music track that they play when they put you on hold. O BTW the music really really gets too you as the time you spend holding the call increases. At last, after what seemed like eternity the supervisor came on line. I had to repeat the same verification details, provide him with reasons as to why I want to terminate the connection, etc. I was informed that somebody from another team would contact me to take an appointment so they could visit and take away the phone instrument and finish the other formalities. I provided him with an alternate number to call. I was told that the timeline for the completion of the request would be 14 working days; that’s like half the billing cycle. Oh well! Maybe their motto is: “Our customer is our GOD (spelled backwards!)”
When I came home next day, ma informed that the Reliance folks had called. Unfortunately I had not clearly updated folks at home, so ma ended up telling them to call later since she did not have a clear idea about the termination request. Of course they never called back. I called up Reliance customer care that same night and I must say they are either out of their mind or have a really crooked sense of humor. I was informed that we had communicated that we want to retain the phone service!! Wallah…how they twist the customer’s words. I admit that I really admire their skill of interpreting new meanings from seemingly simple statements. The only option that I was left with was to put in a new request (as outlined above).
It is well known that I need a lesson in anger management. The prospect of being on call listening to crappy Reliance on-hold music was quite daunting and I guess that proved to be the last straw. I sort of raised hell as I put in my request the second time around. Only this time, I decided to do better than listen to their on-hold music; I utilized my time by making some pending phone calls and caught up with people that I needed to catch up with. After much tantrum throwing (no that did not help, my call with them still lasted the customary 45 minutes) I had put in my 2nd request. I got a call from the other team on my cell within a couple of days. I was not in a very cordial mood (when am I you say? ;)) and so ended up telling them point blank that I wanted to terminate my phone connection ASAP. I also informed that I was tired of giving reasons. A week or so elapsed, no follow up signs from Reliance and I began to get suspicious.
Another round of calls confirmed my worst fears. Their logs show that I confirmed I want to retain their phone service! Now either I have forgotten how to communicate or they have some serious mental challenges. With no other option I put in my termination request the 3rd time around last night (3rd August 2007). If a phone call to Reliance customer care entails termination of service, then be assured that their supervisors will be busy (which means you are on hold indefinitely) or that their system will be down. (which means you have to call back later)
These incidents coupled with some previous sour experiences with Citibank have led me to believe that customer care around here is customer, don’t care. They come kissing at your feet to activate any goddamn service, but when you need to cancel the same, you are at their mercy. Often customers are plundered by signing them up for unnecessary services. Agreed it is the customer’s duty to thoroughly verify what they are getting into. But often, time seems to be the challenge and hence such minor plundering is either ignored or most times goes unnoticed. These service providers don’t seem to value the customer’s business or their time. Their contorted processes are proof enough.
Have any of you had similar issues with Reliance or for that matter any other customer, don’t care service? I urge all those sailing in the same boat as me to not give up on such issues. Hopefully our follow ups will yield the desired result someday!
Moral of the story:
Be extremely careful before signing up for anything that requires your money, because it takes a lot of time, patience and mental agony to get out of it. (Take my word for it, will ya?)
To Reliance:
GET WELL SOON. My flowers are on the way!

Friday, July 27, 2007

EXHALE


A storm was brewing in the distance and it seemed to be fast approaching Charleston. It was dark outside but the lightening set everything aglow every now and then. Nothing else could be heard above the din and rumble of the thunder. It appeared as if it wouldn’t be long before it started to pour. Another storm had been raging in Neeti’s mind for a while now. She couldn’t take it anymore….She couldn’t live on two planes at the same time and was tired, tired of lying and pretending…. She stared blankly at the computer screen that sat on a desk in the study. Then, as if having resolved the quandary in her mind, she came back to her senses and signed into her gmail account. There was an email from Ajeya, her husband; the man her parents had chosen for her 10 years ago.
Nee, deal through. Will be home by dinner tomorrow.
A
Curt and crisp, that was Ajeya. He was a good man and had been a good husband to Neeti. Yet there was something that was missing…
Neeti opened up the email that had been tucked away in the Drafts folder for days now. She glanced over it one last time.
Ajeya,
I met Sujoy during one of my poetry reading sessions. Sujoy is a painter and also has his own art school. We have been seeing each other for a year now. I thought it was time you knew…
Neeti
She took a deep breath and hit the Send button. An eerie calm came over her with this exhalation…

TRUCE


The hot, arid summer was taking its toll on both man and beast. Short tempered Prithvi was unusually irritable this time of the year. The slightest remark served to vex Prithvi just like the spark that was sufficient to start a fire in the dry woods. Aasma, Prithvi's best friend, was well aware of his tantrums, but could hardly be of any help due to the distance that separated them. One such sultry afternoon, words and tones trundled in the wrong direction. That was the spark. A silent war began raging between the two…Prithvi seethed and Aasma rumbled in her own abode….this continued for almost a week. At the end of the week dark clouds gathered and a gentle pitter-patter commenced…at last there was a truce!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

IT TAKES FAITH


Every year multitudes of warkaris undertake the holy trek to Pandharpur to meet their Lord; Lord Vitthal. They brave rain and shine and travel on foot in groups called Dindis. On Ashadhi Ekadashi, these warkaris and other devotees gather at Pandharpur and immerse themselves in the sea of devotion and Love of their beloved Vithoba.

The sandals of Sant Dnyaneshwar and Sant Tukaram are also carried to Pandharpur from Pune. The chariot carrying the sandals is preceeded and followed by warkaris who have assembled in Pune to make the trek to Pandharpur. Some devotees esp. those residing in cities take up only a part of the trek. Others like my uncle, contribute by providing food or some other essential item to the warkaris.

I was drawn at the opportunity to experience the atmosphere of the wari this year around. The experience was beyond words - Emotional, philosophical and energizing. We were stationed at a spot before Saswad and for the 4-5 hrs that we were there, the flow of the warkaris seemed to never end. Their walk had a rhythm. Most of them sang bhajans as they made their way ahead while the rest just kept moving to an internal soulful rhythm. Amongst the traditionally clad men and women, I spotted the jeans clad youth and also noticed the occasional urban warkaris; sneakers-backpacks-sunglasses et.al!

While I had discounted this sect so far, the experience led me to see them in a new light. Here were men and women with an undying faith and a sole mission; to meet their Vithoba. Every true warkari abstains from meat, liquor and other vices. Moreover, in this world of insatiable wants, restlessness and insecurity...they came across as happy people, totally at peace with life...

I fall short of words to express my feelings for the day..and I am only too glad to have taken time off for experiencing the wari atmosphere..I think the warkaris rubbed off some of their faith, belief and peace into me...

Here are some snapshots taken during the day..

The chariot carrying St. Dnyaneshwar's paduka (sandals)


A Dindi making its way

Catch 'em early...catch them young!

Everyone wanted to be in my picture frame!

This Warkari sure likes to stay connected


Friday, July 20, 2007

BLUR


After some initial slow rotations, the merry-go-round gradually gained speed and very soon was at its peak. Trusha, impatient and restless as she was, hated the sluggish start and end phases of the ride. She loved to see the world buzz past when the ride was in full swing. Everything; people, places and even seemingly inert objects seemed to have a heady momentum then. Her life these days was just like the ride in full swing. She regretted it at times….no it didn’t feel like the merry-go-round, instead, it felt like being on a roller coaster that was ready to take a nose-dive. Her days were a blur…how she had yearned for them to be like that! But now, she wanted time to pause, just briefly, so she could collect herself and smell the roses one last time…before her life was launched into a different orbit….

Thursday, June 14, 2007

WAH TAJ


Think the Taj deserves to be among the wonders of our world? Vote here.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

MOOD SWING



A wave of sadness swept across her mind; like the high tide that only leaves rubble in its wake. The day had started like any other and then out of the blue she started feeling like a dump. Uninvited guests always irked her and this one was no exception. Sarah felt something tugging at her heart; something that she couldn’t dismiss or ignore. A heavy weight seemed to press on her and there wasn’t much she could do about it. She wanted to cry but not a tear trickled. She tried to force a smile, as she looked at herself in the mirror in the loo, but her smile gave away her mood. Work was slower than usual at the supermarket where she worked, and that only made it worse. The thought of calling Hugh did cross her mind, but she knew they would end up fighting on a day like this.

The evening was cold and glum as she drove home from work. Even the perky RJ on the radio and the peppy tracks that were played refused to lift her blues. Sarah threw herself on the couch and lay there for a while. She hated this feeling….And then suddenly she knew what to do. She sat at her desk by the window and started writing. Words oozed and she felt liberated. The sun was peeping through the clouds just as a rainbow formed in her heart. She swirled and giggled; for the first time today she was happpppppy!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

ROSE


“Wow California …isn’t the weather there just like India?...and you get almost everything(Indian) there these days…so not much you will miss huh!?”

“I heard everybody in the States has a car…nobody every walks.”

“Oooo away from the big Indian family…nice…I’d live better if I too met w/ the family once a year!”

Her move to the States was generally greeted with such and similar responses that exuded awe, excitement, and happiness…sometimes even a tinge of jealousy would show up. It was as if her move was regarded as an escape to a paradise, where things were picture perfect. And life in such a place had to be good – no? As if just the place guaranteed that life, relationships and everything around and beyond that would be shipshape. But ask people who lived in this paradise, they thought of it as otherwise and claimed that the greenery was all there (in their motherlands). They hastily replied with a reason or two and made it sound as if they were in the so-called Paradise by chance and not choice.

She answered both parties patiently, because, she thought she knew how to savor the roses and how to make sure the thorns don’t get to you…

Friday, May 11, 2007

PERCEPTIONS


They sat across each other in the most happening lounge in town – La Bouche. He had made a good first impression (didn’t he always?) and she was glad she had agreed to meet him. He was wearing a black corduroy shirt with faded blue jeans and had a shock of silky black hair that was neither too long nor too short. A dimple formed across his right cheek every time his mouth broke into that infectious smile and one could see the perfect set of pearly whites. The cologne scent that he exuded, the prominent Adam’s apple and the slight stubble….she was beginning to fall for him already and only hoped that his thoughts and character matched up w/ his looks…As they sipped their margaritas she noticed the thread (the sacred thread worn across the shoulder after the thread ceremony) as it peeked into view from under his shirt. “Still holds on to his roots after 7 years in Australia”, she made a mental note. Although she tried hard to focus on their talk and him as a person, she caught herself drifting….

I wanna know what love is
I want you to show me
I wanna feel what love is
I know you can show me

The song played in the background…She looked at him and thought that his eyes mirrored her feelings…Little did she know that his thoughts were w/ Julia and the summer evening that they had spent together at the Copacabana beach in Rio

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

BON APPETIT

I was browsing Mridula's blog where I learnt about 'The 5 Hilarious Travel Photos Contest'....As I saw Mridula's posts for the contest, I was reminded of all the funny/weird pictures that never see the light of the day. The contest sounded like a lot of fun and although I knew I was way past the deadline I thought, "why not??"....So here I am looping through my digital photo collection, trying to find the right pictures...turns out I have way too many funny pictures of myself rather than pictures that would be funny minus me...I found some interesting pictures during my search that I thought would make a better post than hilarious pictures of the self...Oh well, guess this preamble is good enough..

I spotted this shack on my hike to Lohagad ...it seemed to have sprung up in the middle of nowhere just to cater to the hikers w/ a multi-cuisine appetite...the location of the shack and also the hoarding left me amused...


This picture has been taken during a trip to Rishikesh last summer....We were roaming around in the market when this man, face painted and sitting outside the resturant caught my eye...what an interesting way to attract foodies to the restaurant I thought...

Although I was amused by the places and the people running them...I think I am impressed more than amused.....I think there is a lot that one can learn from these people....Being passionate about one's work, faith, hardwork, creativity, ingenuity, understanding and providing for customer's needs, to name a few...What say??

May these joints have all the customers that they can serve!


Saturday, April 21, 2007

A PIECE OF THEIR WORLDS


Sameeha was the apple of Aapa’s eyes. Sameeha was all she had, ever since the fatal accident took away everybody in their family. She had devoted her life to Sameeha who was barely three when their world shattered. Neighbors and friends worried about Aapa and how she would deal with the crisis. Sameeha was the only reason why Aapa had not crumbled.

Their house was brimming w/ life and excitement. Sameeha’s marriage had been finalized w/ Ahsan and today was the Nikah. At last Aapa could breathe easy. She had strived to give Sameeha the best of everything and she constantly fretted about the kind of family Sameeha would marry into. Now her fears were rested. Ahsan was a fine boy from a respectable family. She knew Sameeha would get all the love, care and comfort that she deserved. Distant relatives and friends had gathered in the house. A feast was cooking, and children played in the courtyard. The men-folk chatted away as women-folk busied themselves supervising the preparations. There was music and laughter all around. Sameeha sat patiently as four girls stooped over her, applying mehendi to her hands and feet. Her girlfriends teased her about Ahsan while elderly ladies squeezed in words of wisdom every now and then. Aapa sat in a corner, observing and shouting orders as needed.

She was happy for Sameeha yet, her heart broke into a million pieces every time she thought of Sameeha’s bidai. Years flashed by her eyes. How little Sameeha had tightly clutched her hand as she mourned the deaths in the family…Sameeha with her lovely locks and smile……How she had scouted the bazaar barefoot one summer afternoon only to get Sameeha the red velvet slippers that she had wanted….Sameeha the chatterbox…..Sameeha the singer….the Sameeha who studied day and night for her exams…Sameeha the caring doctor…and now, Sameeha the bride…
She would never hear her laughter, her chatter and have her around like she used to….she would have to wait months, just to see her darling for real and even then, it would never be the same…a heavy sadness choked Aapa’s heart. She tried to lift the weight by hollering for some chai and day dreaming about the joys that lay ahead in the future…she had to be strong and able for doing all her duties, she warned herself…Allah would help her survive without her lifeline – Sameeha.

*********************************************************************************

Aapa was her world for many many years. She was her friend, philosopher, guide and her idol. As she grew up her world expanded, but Aapa was still at the center of it. But now it seemed Allah was testing her, by sending Ahsan into her life. All of a sudden it was expected of her to accept Ahsan as the new center. To her surprise, even Aapa wanted it! Although it seemed easy at times, this shift filled her w/ guilt. It was not so hard for her since Ahsan, was the man of her dreams, but what would happen to Aapa?....How would she deal w/ it? Her heart was torn in a game of tug of war; on one side there was Aapa and on the other Ahsan.
Memories flashed past her eyes like a picture slide-show….Her strong Aapa, who rarely smiled….Aapa the taskmaster who never said CAN’T DOAapa, the best cook she had ever known….Although with a temper of her own, Aapa who soaked in all her tantrums…. the Aapa who had locked away her tears ever since their family perished….Aapa, who stayed up w/ her as she studied for her exams….Aapa’s embrace, the most comforting thing in the world….Aapa’s trust and confidence that had always pulled her through her lows…..the Aapa who knew her more than herself…and now the Aapa, who was standing and smiling just for her with a heavy stone on her heart... “Ya Allah!…guide me well”, Sameeha prayed.

Friday, April 20, 2007

FLUX


Friday Harbor, WA
Life is flux....yet, once in a while there are these moments of tranquil and utter bliss...and there are signs that seem to be saying "this is the way to go"....moments such as these, seem to shoo away all the failures, the uncertainities and the pain...and are often harbingers of positive new beginnings...

Here is a track for such moments...

Monday, April 16, 2007

DIAMONDS


Thank you for the diamonds,
I’m glad you read my mind.
Let’s share a love that shines through the times,
Let’s be a team that always sparkles and chimes,
Let’s ignore the flaws and discover the gold mines.
Thank you for the diamonds,
I’m glad you read my mind.
Let’s weave a bond that storms only twine,
Let’s be the mountains that never break their spines,
Let’s strive for a life, pure and sublime.
Thank you for the diamonds,
I’m glad you read my mind.
I have all my diamonds,
They twinkle as if humming this rhyme.
The road ahead is slime dear, but has both brine n wine.
So anytime you feel things are not so fine,
And you want to throw yourself on the bed and whine,
Head to a nice place, dance and dine,
Just look at us and you’ll know we stand for all you pine…

Monday, April 02, 2007

IMAGINATION... INFATUATION... INTOXICATION...



I am ME, when its WE,
Is this what love's supposed to be?

A lot of stuff that I’d like to share,
Wonder, is it too early to show I care?

Some things left unsaid,
Will they ever raise their head?

The equation has but one unknown,
Only time will solve and make it known.

Until then I prefer to drown,
In the sweet world that I’ve grown.

Herez to imagination, infatuation and intoxication!

Monday, March 19, 2007

GUDHI PADWA



Rangoli depicting the Gudhi


Today is Gudhi Padwa, new year as per the Maharashtrian calendar. The day is celebrated in Maharashtrian households by erecting the Gudhi; a symbol of victory and happiness and greeting near and dear ones. The colorful Gudhis atop every household make a delightful sight amidst the spring blooms.

Heres wishing you all health and happiness in the year to come.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

BEYOND IMPERFECTIONS


  • Practice loving people. It is true that this requires effort and continued practice, for some are not very lovable, or so it “seems”. Every person has lovable qualities when you really learn to know him. - Norman Vincent Peale
After all the Lord created all of us on the same loom w/ the same spool right?.....Here is a song that talks about overcoming the imperfections...

CRUSH(ED)


Trina was on her way to work and had paused at the 4-way stop, when she first saw him.

Why do I see him everyday??” Maybe it is a sign, her infatuated mind answered.

He was her inspiration to get up every morning and make the long commute to work. He never seemed to notice her, always looking straight ahead from his black Chevy. Was that because he was married? “Oh c’mmon Trin. That’s not a sure sign of matrimony. Maybe he is just a well behaved lad.” Trina told herself. She imagined he was tall from the brief glimpses at the stop sign. She couldn’t guess his age. But obviously he looked young and did it matter?? – He looked good. She practiced her smile as she pulled out of her driveway each day and rehearsed her lines just in case this moved to more than peeks at the stop sign.

It was Valentine’s Day and she was in a genial mood as she left home for work. Maybe today would be the day, she secretly hoped….maybe destiny had saved everything for this special day, she reasoned.

Something glinted as sunrays caught his fingers…...Blues music is Trina’s new found love and it is what drives her to work everyday now….

Saturday, February 10, 2007

THE HAPPY MAN


If only this happy man's shirt could help those ailing from unhappiness...Here are some of my favorite quotes about happiness....

  • If we only wanted to be happy, it would be easy. But we want to be happier than other people...and that's the hitch.
  • People are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
  • Now and then, its a good idea to stop in our pursuit of happiness, and just be happy.
  • There is no way to happiness...happiness is the way.

ESCAPE


Shiny had mixed feelings as she packed her bags and readied herself to start a new life in a new place. Was she really going to escape the sorrow and the pain and know a life of happiness??

She had always wanted live in Dubai, like her Dada; a father she had never known. Amma gave her a cold, blank stare as she kissed her goodbye. Her heart broke, but she understood. It was the Alzheimer’s. Appachan was fast asleep when she tip-toed into his room. Growing age and the paralysis had made short tempered Appachan more irascible. Tall and well-built Appachan, with his military colonel moustaches always looked formidable. He always seemed angry about something and their relationship had never developed. Jibu Chetta followed her as she moved about the house; he could sense that she was leaving home. Mentally challenged with limited ability of expression, all he could do was make sounds to let her know that he would miss her. InjiAmma’s eyes welled up with tears every few minutes as she came with Shiny to the bus-stand. She had been Shiny’s care-taker from the day little Shiny came into the world.

The bus left dust clouds in its wake as it chugged out of Perumpuzha. Shiny closed her eyes and prayed for the well-being of the family that she was leaving behind…..

PERFECT


Every leg muscle protested as Hope and her friend Tiffany settled into the comfortable sofas at Mochas; their favorite place to relax after a crazy day at the mall. Hope was a hopeless shopaholic. Tiffany didn’t care about shopping, but a good friend that she was, always accompanied Hope on her seemingly never-ending trips to the malls. They were scouting for the perfect pair of sandals for Hope’s big day – her wedding with Dan. Four hours into their search and the perfect pair still eluded Hope.

There were many that Hope had liked, but for some or the other reason hadn’t ended in her shopping bag. There was the strappy one that looked great on her feet, but it was way beyond her budget. Then she had fallen for the stilettos, they would have gone perfectly with her dress. “These are not for sale, Miss.she was informed. She almost fumed out of the store when she caught sight of the soft-leather heels. She was unlucky this time too – her size wasn’t available. Morning turned to afternoon as they moved from one store to another. Now it was Hope’s turn to find some or the other fault with every pair that they seemed to like.

Hope, you better settle on something, else you are never going to find the perfect pair” Tiffany reasoned. “Besides there is no way you will escape the shoe bites” Tiffany seemed to mention casually. Actually, she wanted to make sure Hope didn’t include that in her check-list for the perfect pair. After a series of failed relationships and a broken marriage, Hope knew better. “I’ll go for the strappy ivory ones Tiff” Hope said getting up, lost in her own web of thoughts….

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

SPRING


Ohiopyle State Park, PA

Winter has made a silent exit….the days are slowly getting longer and warmer….the mornings and evenings are pleasant....music and love seems to be in the air...with birds chirping and flowers blooming.....there is a vibrant energy and enthusiasm all around that doesn't fail to rub on you....Yippee Springs here! Do I need to waste words when Kalidasa has put it so well...
Trees put forth flowers, waters abound in lotuses, women’s thoughts turn to love, the air is sweetly scented; mornings are pleasant and days delightful; all things are more alluring in springtime, my love.

Here is some music for the season...

IN SEARCH


Friday Harbor, WA

रहने दे आसमान, जमीन की तलाश कर..
सब कुछ यहीं हैं, ना कहीं और तलाश कर...
हर आरझू पूरी हो, तो जीने का क्या मझा....
जीने के लिए बस एक वजह की तलाश कर...

The idea in the couplet is sort of stated here.

CLOUDED



When will we learn to look at things objectively?... When will we put aside religion and think straight while analyzing people, things and situations?..... Will we ever realize that we are being fogged by the miasma of our narrow-minded exhales? Too bad it is sun salutation this time..

Monday, January 29, 2007

MY EXPERIMENTS WITH ABSTINENCE


No! I don’t smoke or drink or am not into any other weird stuff that the title of this post might help you imagine. I am an Internet junkie. I can, and, I do spend hours online, most of the times doing stuff that does not ahem qualify as ‘value-adding’. School got me used to 24 hours of high speed Internet. Post-graduation, I found myself in a big city where people were hard to come by. In these testing times the WWW was my only solace. My work in the tech-sector only further fostered this friendship and I guess I never realized when we became almost inseparable. Granny’s rants fell on deaf ears, dad’s disapproving look was quickly dismissed and mom’s Gandhigiri also failed to instigate a change. Like every addict, I was aware of my addiction and its ill-effects; yet I wasn’t doing anything about it and I liked to think I was helpless.
New Year’s time is usually a good time to take stock of life and make amends. It is during this reflective juncture that I happened to read this quote. Write it down. Written goals have a way of transforming wishes into wants, can’ts into cans; dreams into plans and plans into reality. Don’t just think it – ink it. It made sense, and so I penned all the do’s and don’ts and proclaimed it to the entire world here. Most New Year resolutions never go past the first few weeks of the New Year; so a research article claimed. It partially attributed the failure to the fact that the goals are not SMART goals. A quick look at my list and I realized that I needed to be more specific. With a long weekend on my holiday calendar I decided to take some real steps towards tackling my addiction. I promised myself that I would stay away from the Internet for 3 days. Talking about resolutions makes you stick to them, I’d heard; so I dashed a quick “Miss Me” note to some friends telling them about my resolve.
I lingered in the living room after dinner. “What’s the matter today? Aren’t you going to surf?” Granny asked mischievously. I was about snap back; “No I am going to be off it for 3 whole days and spend time with you instead.” I proudly announced. We chatted for a while before turning in. Yess! I had made a start; I congratulated myself. “What’s the username for our Internet connection? Have you changed the password?” - Dad. “There let me help you with that.” I promptly offered jumping out of bed. I was tempted to have a quick look at my email as I got him connected, but checked myself. “You will have to watch out for these weak moments for the next 3 days. They will be waiting to pounce on you at every corner.” I reminded myself.
Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. I sure felt great as I awoke to the sounds of the birds early the next morning. Chai-walk with Granny-jog-meditation was to be my morning ritual for the next 3 days. Gone was the feeling of “I need more sleep”, the dark circles and moi’s beauty gained a new dimension. As Dad busied himself with some work, I pulled out my lappy. “I am going to play you music over the Internet” I suggested enthusiastically. All I got is a cold stare to which I succumbed. Ah! Another small victory. Temptation usually comes in through a door that has been deliberately left open. Remembering this, I gave my lappy a goodbye kiss and tucked it safely into the laptop bag. This bag then went into my sister’s wardrobe. Out of sight, out of mind – I hoped this would work for me. The first day was really tough, every few hours I was seized by a strong urge to pull out lappy, hook it up and surf. Those times I tried to divert my attention by reading. One way in which the Internet has taken its toll on me is – lessened concentration. So reading didn’t come so easily too, but I just kept at it. “This would make a great story.” I thought and started observing my moods and thoughts more closely. Saturday (2nd day) went by smoothly; I was travelling and out of home all day. By Sunday I had sort of gotten used to not starting my day by booting the lappy. I busied myself with some household chores.
By the end of Sunday night however I was bursting to tell everybody what a good girl I had been. So out I pulled lappy dear and woohoo I was connected…
Looking back the 3 day abstinence worked out well for me. I felt relaxed and satisfied that I had not splurged my holidays. I think I am going to practice this more often….

Sunday, January 28, 2007

FAITH AND PATIENCE


The human mind is a funny instrument. Most times it comes across as a rational device prone to logical thinking. Yet, there are times when it makes you comply with the seemingly absurd and unimaginable. During such times these requests can be attributed to intuition, blind faith, desperation, frustration, or may be sort of a last-resort. These were the thoughts that crossed my mind when I heard my Dad announcing a trip to Shirdi. While there is nothing weird in visiting Shirdi, it does raise eyebrows when it comes from a person who has always stayed away from rituals, god-men, and fervent displays of religion; whose focus has been on practicality, whose principle in life has been ‘Humata, Hukhta, Hvarshta’.
We found ourselves in Shirdi an hour before noon amidst a multitude of devotees. Apparently we were late to gain entry to the holy chambers, in spite of having passes arranged for. Dad was ready to make a turn-back, but Granny persisted. (She isn’t the one to give up so easily.) So after some phone calls, we were put at the end of a queue that seemed to be progressing quickly. The women and men were separated just before entering the holy sanctum. The chamber was resonating with a soothing chant of ‘Aum Shree Sai Nathaya Namaha’. It took me a while to get used to my surroundings; women shuffling around me to get a better view of the idol, people chanting and murmuring prayers, unoblivious of everything, regulars acknowledging each other or explaining newbies like me what to expect next, little boys crying at being separated from their mothers. The chamber was ornate with designs embossed on silver. The benign idol of Sai Baba looked upon us as multiple air-coolers and fans kept us cool. In the meanwhile, the stage was being set for the daily aarati (prayer recital). The aarati started at noon; my hands folded as an automatic response to the recital, but leaving that I was not sure how to behave.
I am a believer; I believe that there is a supreme power and that man does have his limits. I am okay with calling this supreme power God. I haven’t thought much about God beyond this simple belief that I hold in my heart. So I don’t think twice if I have to bow before Ganesha or Shiva or any other Hindu deity. However, this was a new experience. The idol which everybody was worshipping here was that of a mortal human being; just like me. I don’t know much about the life and work of Sai Baba and so feigning zealous devotion was a far cry. My mind was coagulated by a million thoughts….
The pictures in the museum portrayed Sai Baba as a simple man. Now, his idol was seated on a silver throne, dressed in a jazzy purple (!) kaftan and his head adorned a gold crown. “What an irony..,” I sighed. “The time and money invested in this enterprise could move mountains,” I said to myself. “Baba, do you approve of all this?” Oh well, I’ll save my rant for another post….
As I tried to find my way out of this mental maze, I noticed two words on the silver embossing “Shraddha-Saburi” (Faith-Patience). That was the Eureka moment. I waited outside for Dad after the aarti. He seemed happy and relieved at the same time. “Faith and Patience, Daddy,” I exclaimed as I hugged him. He understood.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

SLEEPLESS


Diya threw herself on the four-poster bed; it had been a long agonizing day and all she wanted was some peace, solitude and sleep. She looked at their picture on the mantlepiece; a half smile broke on her lips, but it disappeared before it bloomed fully. She turned off the lights and tried to think of happy things as she tucked herself into her favorite blanket. The room was silent except for the continuous ticking of the time-pieces…..click-clicks of the big grandfather clock mingled with the tick-tocks of the small alarm clock. The more she tried to ignore the sounds, the more they seemed to hammer the eerie silence of the night. Sleep evaded her and thoughts barraged her mind like heavy hail. A silent tear rolled down her cheek. “Why had he gone away?” her mind screamed, but the night offered no answers.....

Saturday, January 20, 2007

CHINNU



With her smooth dusky skin and thick shiny black hair, she looks like any other Indian girl. At a little over 5 feet and slightly built Chinnu (her favorite endearment to-date) does not stand out in the crowd; unless, you notice her eyes. Her big, black twinkling eyes; they are so full of life; a testimony of her unending enthusiasm and zest for life.

Chinnu is not just a friend, but also a philosopher, a guide, a doting mother who handles her tantrums, a baby to her when she is done mommying, and very much an irritating sibling. Their personalities are poles apart, yet miraculously, they connect. One moment you will find them fighting like cats and the next moment they will be in their own goofy world.

Chinnu is her role model. In the short span that they have spent together, Chinnu has inducted her to many of life’s lessons, unknowingly. Chinnu taught her to enjoy life and “living the moment”. To value your loved ones, to treasure every moment with them, the power of one’s mind, the importance of ambition and goal setting are some of the lessons that she will never forget. Thanks to Chinnu, she now truly believes that it is not one’s aptitude but one’s attitude that determines which way one heads in life. Most importantly, Chinnu has acquainted her to the art of giving.

There was a time when they saw each other every single day, but now, being miles apart they have learnt to live with short phone conversations and replaying their memories….

THE LIONESS AND THE COW



The mother-in-law (MIL) – daughter-in-law (DIL) duo, make an interesting pair; they are poles apart yet they are very similar when it comes to some quirky things. The more I think about them, the more I feel that the MIL, is like a lioness; aggressive, outspoken and gregarious and the DIL like a cow; silent and submissive.

The chubby cow takes her own sweet time for doing things whereas the lean lioness is agile as ever. The cow relishes good food, and the lioness enjoys cooking over eating. “I can’t” is the cow’s favorite excuse. The lioness, on the other hand, believes that there is nothing that she cannot do. The lioness is an excellent manager but for the cow, management seems like an unnecessary chore. The timid cow prefers the beaten path where as the courageous lioness is open to new ways and things.

Each has survived a hard past and emerged strong from the experience. Both lead a simplistic life-style and are completely non-egotistical. Perseverance and determination are traits that they both display. Neither of them is the effusive, mushy kinds. Neither can handle shoes nor deal with the subtle humor that they are often subjected to. Their enthusiasm, energy and habit of keeping busy, always amazes the people around them.

Like typical MIL-DIL, they have had their differences, however, they have never let these differences shatter the peace of their home. I shudder to think of the way life would have been had they both been lionesses or both cows. Kudos to their teamwork! May they both live long and well…

Sunday, January 14, 2007

LIFE AND MANAGEMENT



Was listening to a discourse by Satguru Jaggi Vasudeo of the Isha Foundation Many of his thoughts made sense to me....infact, the more I mull over them, the more they ring true....Here they are for your consumption...He says...

Fundamentally life is management. We are managing things in the external world, as a part of whatever it is we are doing in life. However in order to be good at what we are doing well, we must learn to manage ourselves, because ultimately our mind/body is the only thing that we have control over....

In doing what we are doing, we have to manage situations and essentially people. So how can one say that we are managing people well?....He says that a good manager is someone who fosters an environment such that every individual is elevated to his/her peak potential, every individual gets a positive feeling about the space in which they are operating...and every individual rises to the peak of their love, peace and compassion...

Such a simple yet profound thought! Imagine how beautiful the world would be if we all learnt to practice this simple truth...

THE BEST GIFT



The holiday season and cheer are long gone. This is generally the time for merry-making, gift-shopping, and also to an extent thinking about the past, taking stock of the present and weaving new dreams for the future. Ever wondered about what would be the best and most cherished gift that you could gift somebody and anybody? .....LIFE would be it.

Recently I happened to read 2 articles about organ donation. The articles made me aware of the sorry state of organ donation in India and the need for the masses to be educated about the this concept. I was all fired up about pledging my organs after the reads. However, I think the decision will require some more study and contemplation.

I thought it might be a good idea to trigger your thought process towards organ donation. Here are the articles that impacted me....


The Gift of Life
A New Life

INDIA POISED


INDIA POISED, an initiative by the Times of India group was kick started on the 1st day of the new year. While I can't say much about the way India is positioned and stuff, I am confident that we are headed in the right direction. I really liked the anthem of this initiative..Filled me up w/ a lot of positivity and hope!

May we all make India shine...

Friday, January 05, 2007

HURT


She was both hurt and angry. Her kohl lined eyes were red from crying in the shower; there was no way she was going to have him think of her as weak and vulnerable. Crying hadn’t washed away the hurt, as she had hoped. It was still there, throbbing even harder every time she thought about it. In her own thoughts, she silently stood staring out of the window. The sunrays caught her amber eyes and they glowed with the fire within her. He saw her just then and realized his mistake. He was sorry and drew her close to him. She wanted to fight him off, yet, she melted in his embrace. After all, he was all she had in the far-away country that was now their home…

DRAINED


Ishwari
was tired of answering the standard set of tactical questions, of the lofty talks of the exalted statuses, of the over-exaggeration of the seemingly normal achievements and activities, of the ridiculous expectations and mostly of the commoditization of people. She was embarrassed to bare her soul with every other person who came along as eligible. “Am I weird?” she was beginning to think. Yet, she nursed a faint flicker of hope. She knew, that someday, she would meet the man who would sweep her off her feet and then life would be beautiful. She smiled at that thought as she drifted to sleep…

NICO-TEENS


Their boyhood is slowly graduating towards manhood and there are tell-tale signs of the same both physically and behaviorally. This is the age when all external advice and goodwill is promptly warded off as voodoo. Ironically, it is often at this blind turn on the life-road that they discover cigarettes, drugs and the works. I often see a group of young boys smoking at the road-side shop on my way to work. While they fantasize about their future looking dreamily into the swirls of tobacco smoke, I despair and sigh for the young lives being wasted……

Monday, January 01, 2007

NOTES TO MYSELF


To read-write more, surf less…
To listen more, babble less…
To absorb more, be stubborn less…
To exercise more, sit less…
To be patient more, swear less…
To be open more, rigid less…
To care more, be self-absorbed less…
To love more, hurt less…
To appreciate more, criticize less…
To respect more, be insolent less…
To understand more, fight less…
To thank more, complain less…
To focus more, diverge less…
To be organized more, haphazard less…
To think-ahead more, be myopic less…
To venture more, be afraid less…
To follow these notes to my very best!

CLICHE


Komal
hated this time of the year. Everybody seemed to have something exciting planned for the night and seemed over-eager to share their plans with her. She sulked at the thought of going through the annual ritual for the 30th year of her life – Shammi Chacha and Pummi Chachi would arrive by dusk. Pummi Chachi would get carrot halwa for the party; hadn’t the birthday girl always loved it? Ma would make aaloo matar and Papa would make a trip to the baker’s for the bread. Daadi would be glued to her rocking chair watching TV; lately Daadi didn’t care much about visitors. Anju and Manju bua would come with their clichéd gift - a horrid colored suit-piece. The gift would be later given to St. Martha’s Church’s Easter charity. Post dinner, Papa would play the ‘BoneyM Hits’ LP record and they would urge Komal to dance, while they simply clapped with a wondrous-lovey look in their eyes. She was the only child in the family and how she hated that - especially on her birthday that fell on New Years Eve…..