Saturday, November 21, 2015

Coo chi Coo chi Coo.....

I am sure that those of you who watch Indian television have come across this ultra sleazy ad by Parachute Body Lotion. A woman is sitting in a cafe with a friend and cannot contain her excitement and happiness that she is at pinnacle of female achievement. Her husband is giving her attention all of a sudden. Physical attention. All hail her body lotion. Her friend obviously comments enviously, "Lucky ya!"

So this lady has a perfect white, spotless, scarless hourglass figure. Matching the shape of the lotion's bottle. Adding to her merit, she is "happily" engaged in the housework. Perfect. But that's not it. She uses this magical lotion which makes her skin so unbelievably soft that her husband cannot keep her hands off her. Dream come true. He keeps touching her in a lustful manner and says this- "Coo chi coo chi coo" is a way that will burn your nerves. The ad then shows the husband in a series of stop motion slowly getting attracted to his wife.


So besides that fact that this ad is a complete visual delight (sarcasm intended), it choses to promote the most archaic concept of womanhood. Not that it is not prevalent in our society. Our matrimonials still shamelessly publish ads for "Fair and slim" brides. But actively encouraging that image is appalling. So the realm of a woman's achievement ideally contains in her becoming the perfect wife. She should live up to the absurd standards of beauty, and probably kill herself if she is not able to. She should be the perfect housemaid, who cheerfully does all the housework. And above all she should do everything in her power to make sure that she doesn't lose her all supreme husband's attentions. Including wearing her outfit in a way that gives her husband maximum access to her skin.


What is more disturbing is the fact, that we have a censor which choses to shorten kisses in a Hollywood film for weird reasons but the Advertising Standards body has had absolutely no issues with these kinds of ads. Even among the audience, there has been almost no response. This is our biggest failure as a society. We accept these things. And when we accept. we encourage. This is not the only one of its kind. There are many other cosmetic ads which promote such misogyny. There are fairness creams, lotions and what not. There was also a beer shampoo ad I remember where men were being ridiculed about choosing "feminine" shampoos. I am ashamed that I live in a society and in a world that is okay with this. I am choosing to boycott all products which promote such notions. And if you respect yourself and the women in your life, you should too.


And for my future husband..whoever it is going to be. Dearest, if you ever say something like "Coo chi coo chi coo" to me....I WILL CUT YOU UP.





Friday, October 30, 2015

Caliginous

Blood and Bone
Breathe alone
The scars on your skin
And everything else
You lie about
Stories woven of Stardust
Until nothing remains but rust
And I cut my hand on the edge
Many million nights
And bleed till I fall asleep

Vast ruins of soul
Stagnant lake
Abandoned and crumbling
Beneath the weight of rancour
Tear on cheek, book in hand
A lamp above 
In the light of which
You slowly traced
The strand which pulled
The warp and weft of what was left

You love to play
You love to be blunt
Pretend to care
But you love to hunt
Free the bird
Shoot it down
Watch it die
Let it burn
Return home, call friends over
Discuss compassion and tender meat

Fire in the forest
Ashes and smoke
Afternoon rains
A blistering soak
Twist my nerves
To see if I scream
Pinch my heart
Drag me out of this dream
Kill the beast
Get drenched in her blood

Repeat.














Thursday, October 15, 2015

Realizations (Notes to self) - Part 2

1. Ask yourself two questions and write down their answers.
  Q.a What do you want in life?
  Q.b What do you want from life?
Remember that these are two entirely different things. One depends on your own actions and one on the chance of your circumstances. Understand that answering these two questions clearly will help you see a lot of things in a broader perspective. Frame this and put it on a wall you see everyday or keep it in your wallet or pocket diary. When you have the slightest doubt about your smallest action, read your answer again and keep this little dilemma in the larger picture. It will help you decide where to go. Also allow the answers to change with your emotional and mental evolution.



2. There are times when you will feel utterly wronged. Times when you will not believe how someone could actually bring themselves to do what they did to you. It can make a mess of your mental health. And sometimes brooding over this becomes obsessive and addictive. The bitterness will dissolve itself into your blood and keep circulating through your entire being over and over again. Its venom you fill yourself with and the only thing its going to damage is you. You have three options in this case. Chose the one you are capable of. If you can write it down, scream it out, weep it away, talk it out, then do it. It may last for days, but do it. Take a break from everything, you don't have to carry the world on your shoulders. You don't owe anyone that. Just let it out until its gone completely. Do whatever you feel it will take to wash it away. Just don't resort to temporary relief providers, which kill the symptom and that too only temporarily. You will find yourself in a much bigger and impossible to get out of mess.
The other way is revenge. Give it back to the person. They deserve it. You will forgive them and they will forgive themselves.
Another very rare and hard to practice option is forgiveness without bitterness and revenge. This takes the longest time to come but stays forever. Its not an epiphany.. just gradual healing over a period of time which starts after you quit scraping the wound. It begins when you realize that you were made for better things, when you realize how much that experience has taught you, when you realize that what you have at present is so beautiful that you should not spend another momont in sorrow and agony.


3. Nurture yourself. Every single moment. For a while, stop looking at what the people around you are doing and concentrate completely on yourself. Disregarding the parameters set outside by your peer groups, colleagues, relative and everyone else..set your standards for yourself. Utilize each moment to do any and everything that makes you grow, that makes you happy. It should be such that when you go to sleep at night, you have something to your credit. Something..anything. Realize that this day in your life isn't coming back. Its going away forever. Give a worthy welcome and bid it a worthy farewell. And then tell me if you don't totally start falling in love with yourself. :)

4. Forgive yourself.


5. Always divide your long term goals into short term plans or you will tend to underestimate the distance.

6. Practice kindness everyday. In any form possible. Doesn't matter how big or small. Its the emotionally enriching and rewarding experience. And also, if you look close enough you will find endless opportunities to be kind.


                             

7. Don't punish anyone else for anyone else's wrongdoings. Don't take out your anger, bitterness or revenge on the wrong people. You kill their hope and light. Its a great crime.

8. Don't limit your imaginations by the limits of other's imaginations, suppositions and opinions. Never be afraid to think, to create, to discover, to rediscover and to try. Your fears are your own contructs. They reside nowhere else but in your head.

9. If you are a woman. Punch the man in the gut or below when he says "Are you on your period?"

10. Move on and let people move on.

11. Never ever give in to emotional blackmailing (any blackmailing actually). Its emotional abuse and manipulation. No matter what happens, make yourself understand that you are making the decision for the right reason and you are not responsible for the actions of someone who stoops to that level. You owe no one but yourself.

12. Stop trying to change the things you have little or no power over. You are wasting your energy, your time and your life.



13. Don't deceive people about how you feel for them. Good or bad, love or hatred. Don't. You are trapping yourself and them in an illusion which is bound to break sooner or later.

14. Stop evaluating yourself by other people's standards. And stop defining yourself by what you have achieved or what you want to achieve. You are much more than that. You are the smile that comes on your face, you are the hug you give, you are the warmth you exude, you are the trust you build, you are the books you read,the songs you listen to, you are jokes that you find funny, the poetry you read, the places you love to go to, the people you bond with. You are also your anger, your selfishness, your greed and lust, your vanity and self obsession, your envy and indifference, your care and thoughtfulness, your illusions and disillusions, your dreams and despairs, your faith and betrayals, your truths and lies, your words spoken and unspoken.. you are all this and more. Not what you say, what you feel, what you do, what you think.. you are all this combined and much more.



15. As far as it is possible for you, avoid judging others. You literally have no idea.

16. In the hope of living a better tomorrow, don't forget to live a better today. It was a tomorrow you hoped to live once.

17. Its never ever too late to begin again.

18. Take some time out to stand and stare. Do something that keeps alive the child in you. Go sit on a swing, buy yourself candies, get a colouring book, buy balloons on your ways back from work, sing Happy Birthday to people when you call to wish them. Try and remember the birthdays and special days of your loved ones, do special things for them, sometimes randomly, without reason or occasions, do that to yourself too. Break out into a crazy jig, hug tightly, draw stick figures..anything.. just don't let the mundane engulf you.



19. Make amends if and when you can.

20. Don't let yourself go.  




Saturday, September 26, 2015

The desire to see a Pakistani film.

If you are an Indian and you are reading this, chances are that you don't have an idea about the film I am talking about. To me its more disheartening than one would tend to think. The neighbor country produces a masterpiece based on the life and works of a literary icon whose works are deeply appreciated and discussed in both countries and we have absolutely no knowledge or clue about the same. I don't know who is to be held responsible here but I am very truly deeply disappointed.

To me, Saadat Hasan Manto is much more than an iconic literary figure. He is an idea, a spirit, a fire that burnt the curtains of falsehood with which the society tried to hide its dirty truths. To me, Manto was not an Indian or a Pakistani. He was the person who saw the truth as it unfolded in front of his eyes, who was shaken to core by the cruelty, ruthlessness, misery, greed and hypocrisy of the people, who saw that the ugly truth lied much beyond religion and how partition provided the perfect opportunity to people to unleash the beast within.



I came across Sarmad Sultan Khoosat's works some months back through the wonderful medium of Zindagi channel which airs Pakistani soaps in India. I was impressed both by his direction and his acting and decided to explore his body of work. That is when I came across Manto (The Film). It was still in the making at that point of time. Needless to say, that because I have been an ardent admirer of Manto and his work, I became considerably excited and keen to watch the movie. At that point of time, it didn't even occur to me that the film is a Pakistani work. I had watched some amazing Pakistani movies like Bol and Khuda kay Liye and I believed that the sensible people in Indian cinema would realize the worth of this work and distribute it in India as well.

When the trailer was released, a couple of weeks back, I was over the moon. It was better than my best expectations. But then it also struck me that there has been absolutely no mention of this film on the Indian side and almost no one is even aware of its existence. I waited in vain, hoping that someone would announce that India is also going to have the good fortune of watching this beautiful work but it didn't happen. Everyday I see rave reviews of the film, everyday my Pakistani friends share their wonderful experience of having watched this film and everyday I burn in envy and disappointment. I don't know if its a conscious decision or just plain ignorance and I don't know on whose part but its shameful that the two countries have still not gathered the maturity to realize that art should not be contained by borders. After all, Manto's own works have been about the the communities and countries, about the misery of cleaving a nation and the suffering that ensued. Shouldn't this film be a landmark, and a tribute to him also in the sense that it should be an effort to bring the two nations and communities closer. All odds can be overcome if the people have will to do so. Had Manto been alive today, he would have surely loved this film and been proud of the work but would have also been disappointed that times since his have hardly changed and that this work did not reach India for whatever reason.

I will admit that a couple of years back I was fed on the media constructed perception that Pakistan is backward nation and its people are mostly radical and fundamentalist in their attitudes. I am sure that people in Pakistan too had a similar image about us. It began to gradually change after I met the wonderful Pakistani author, Jamil Ahmad at the Jaipur Literature Festival and read his work. After his sad demise, I came in touch with his amazingly warm family and then over the last two years I made acquaintance with many more people from Pakistan and was way beyond surprised at they were all so amazing, warm and friendly. And how they were no different from us. How inspite of being two different nationalities, we are essentially the same people. Its high time we realize it. Let politics play its games. But let us recognize that our ties are to deep to severed by a line drawn on the map by a very bothered Englishman. Let us respect both our individuality and our commonness and let not art become the victim of biases and misunderstandings. Please.


Thursday, September 03, 2015

Realizations (Notes to Self)

- Emotional evolution is as beautiful as it is ruthless. It will drag you away from the illusions you have been clinging to, it will let you burn in the inferno of retrospection and then it will hold you up to let you see the site of disaster you were residing in. From this vantage point you will see the whole picture clearly. You will see how hopeless and vast this wreck was and how it has been stagnating the blood in your veins. Gradually you will begin to realize the magnitude of the decay you have been holding in the cage of your ribs. How tiredness. hurt and disappointment have seeped into the marrow of your brittle bones. And you have been wondering all this while why every part of you aches like your soul has been beaten out of you! The bright wallpapers of your delusions will begin to peel away one by one, until your truth falls naked on the floor. Look what you have done to it. Look what you have allowed the world to do to you. Look at your bare skin and listen to your scars. But amidst this carnage, be surprised to see that your fire is burning still, fighting the ceaseless waves of despair, refusing to die down. Let this fire burn brighter and allow yourself to be reduced to ashes. Resurrection begins only when the destruction is complete. You will rise again..now with the courage to turn around and walk away. 

- Sometimes people will learn their lessons at the cost of you. They will cut you in places from where you will bleed white. They will use you as the young doctors use cadavers to learn so that they don't make those mistakes on living human beings. If that has been the case, your bitterness will be immense. But if it has genuinely made them a better person, then for your own sake, its best to forgive them. Life is shameless and opportunistic. It will sprout at the slightest chance and heal with the feeblest will. But it is also imperative to remove this person and the remnants of their memories from your system. No matter how deep the attachment has been, respect yourself, close the door, lock it and throw the key away. 

- Self pity is one of the most destructive forces you harbor within you. Its the demon you really have to get rid of. 

- Being afraid or conscious of judgement can amount to self imposed emotional and intellectual captivity. You don't owe your existence to the world and you must never feel guilty about your choices and preferences. What you like to wear, how you keep your hair, where you like to go, how you like to grow, what you prefer to eat, what you prefer to watch or what you chose to believe in should be a matter of solely your own choice and no one else. Shouldn't matter what people think of it, even the people you hold dear. If they can't accept you without customizing you, then you must give them the freedom to leave and find someone more suited to their requirements. If you are pleasing someone at the cost of subduing your own desires then you are betraying both yourself and them. 

- Humble down and pride up. Evaluate yourself realistically. Our judgement about our own self is usually clouded with biases. Accept both genuine criticism and appreciation humbly and never cease to develop yourself. No matter where you are in life there will always be a chance to go higher and the threat to fall deeper. You are usually not as good or bad as you think. :)

-  Maintain balance in your interactions with the world. Never cease to appreciate the good in people and never cease to encourage them. Make sure you have a firm and sound support system and make sure that you are worthy and efficient gear of the support systems that you are a part of. 

- Share your worries, fears, hurts and disappointments with the people who love you as much as your share your hope and happiness. Don't doubt their capacity to understand or fear that your issues will be a burden on them. The only thing it will do is strengthen your relationship with them and help in the process of your recovery. However don't let venting become an addiction and don't scream for help before trying your own strength to fight the situation. 

- There should be no shame in being vulnerable. It is one of the primary requisites of being alive. Only those who have blood can bleed. 

- No experience will ever leave without a lesson. Never without making you little older, a littler wiser.

- Time changes the significance of everything, even time itself. Accept it. 

- Make yourself worthy of the relationships you commit to. Don't take the people in your life or your own self for granted. Build your relationships on mutually acceptable terms. Learn to respect the people in your life and make respect a necessary condition for every relationship. 

- If you feel sorry about it, then apologize. There is no other way. If someone apologizes to you, then forgive them for both their sake and yours. If they don't, then forgive them for your own sake. 

- Don't be afraid to grow out of your skin. 

- There are two ways of reacting to hurt. Either you stop it right there and refuse to be the conductor that passes on the damage or you decide to perpetuate it by inflicting hurt on whoever comes in your way. Its entirely your choice. 

- Be grateful for every single positive aspect, person, or thing in your life. Gratitude nurtures positivity and positivity nurtures gratitude. Once the cycle becomes self sustaining, it leaves little place for negativity to creep in. 

- Fight for it only if it is worth fighting for and not because someone expects you to fight. 

- Kindness is your strength, not your weakness. Its a choice, not an obligation. And the first person you should be kind to..is yourself.


artwork by ikebana-lena




Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Laughter

Describing some of my most beloved laughters.




Ma- She doesn't open her mouth much while laughing and yet laughs freely. Also, she cannot, under any circumstance fake laughter. She will never laugh if she doesn't find something funny but will just smile politely. Its a joy to see her laugh and even more joyous to be the reason for that laughter.

Shambhavi- When Shambhavi laughs, I am reminded of the incandescent blooms just after it has rained. Its fresh and woven with glee. Though she has an awkward backup laughter too which sounds like a sheep having hiccups.

Pa- If he is laughing openly and showing his teeth, know that its not his genuine laughter. Its the social polite laughter. His real laughter shows through his eyes because when he is genuinely happy or amused he hardly ever opens his mouth to laugh. Its practically noiseless. Also he starts tearing up very soon which is very cute.

Ankita- Her laugh reminds me of a river on the mountains. Without dams of course. Carefree, adventurous, full of zest. She laughs with abandon. Without a care in the world. Without the concern for opinions. And its absolutely beautiful and extremely infectious. I love it when she laughs at my jokes and calls me funny. I regard it as one of my favorite compliments. One person I always miss when I laugh.

Dipika- Like a songbird. She has one of the most beautiful voices I know and her laugh is honey to the ears. Slightly high pitched, feminine, open and very very warm.

Richa di- Beautiful, clear, ringing laughter. Again someone who finds me funny. And I love to make her laugh. I love that its not a conscious laugh. I connect it to a mental image of a dove taking flight. Also love to be called "Gadhi" in her wonderful, gentle voice.

Aishwarya- Very musical. Its sounds like tiny glass bells ringing. Its always an absolute pleasure to laugh with her. Something we haven't done in a long while.

Varda- Infectious and absolutely charming. Her genuine laughter is mostly crazy and uncontrolled. Especially when it goes out of hand and she'd roll over on the bed. The other one (polite, social) is never used with her loved ones.

Ipsita- One of the most charming laughters. Strangely mature, alternates between free and controlled, conscious and carefree. But adorable in all forms. Her smile is her best accessory.

Vasundhara- One person with whom I have had the most number of pj parties. I don't think I have laughed so much with anyone else. Our jokes were incomprehensible to the general public and we were usually thought mad. She laughs wildly and freely and also releases laughter viruses to infect susceptible individuals.

Anusheema- Crazy, magical laughter. And always warm. The most beautiful thing about her laughter is that its so carefree and confident. Its like a thunderstorm after a crazy, hot and still day.

Atreye- Make Ansuheema and Atreye sit together and laugh and you won't even have to bother about getting their joke. You will just laugh with them. Laugh as crazily and uncontrollably and you will totally love it. Atreye's laughter will stay with you for a lifetime even if you have only met her once.

My own- As Linda Goodman describes the cancerian lunar laugh perfectly - "three hundred perfect hens laying three hundred perfect eggs"




Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Day in the Life of a Crabby Lunatic

Morning- Took Brandy out for her morning walk. Actually, on second thoughts, Brandy took me out for my morning walk. We roamed about stealthily in front of Jayantilal's house. Jayantilal.. is..well.. one of Brandy's many suitors. A mix of doberman and rhodesian with a missing front paw. But Brandy is a misoandrist when it comes to dogs. And a misanthrope in general. So yeah, anyway... she loathes Jayanti and rebuffs all his vain attempts to woo her. In short she doesn't give him any "bhow". The only love affair she ever had was with a furry white rhodesian some seven years back. She was young, naive and impressionable. Pa was against the match and "Majnu" was chased away. Brandy took a wow of celibacy that day. Though she is still attracted to German Shepherds but her over zealousness scares them away. I think its because of the German connection. She also prefers Volkswagen to any other automobile. This piece of German engineering, however, was engineered to hunt rabbits out of burrows. I think Brandy believes  that everyone except Ma, Pa and Shambhavi is a rabbit. And I am the most annoying rabbit of all.



While coming back, we saw a man drinking water from a pipe. Two wasps were dancing about him joyfully. The stings were imminent. When I told him to be careful, he smiled at me in a mocking sort of way. I thought maybe he is immune to wasp stings.

But he wasn't.


Brandy came home, ate breakfast and dozed off. It slightly strange to have Garfield for a dog.



Breakfast- Experimented with Tofu and white sauce. Turned out to be safe for human and dog consumption.

Post Breakfast- Read some random irrelevant stuff. Subramania Bharti knew 32 languages and Dayanand Saraswati was apparently poisoned by pieces of glasses mixed in his milk which caused internal injury and hemorrhage. Also, a whale fart bubble is big enough to enclose a horse. Yeah. Deal with that.  Did some aimless research on the royal family of Cooch behar as well.



Afternoon- A young wild pigeon paid us a visit. Flew inside. Hid behind the curtain in the drawing room. Turned out to be the pigeon version of Kangna Ranaut as Tanu. Chased it from fans to shelves to curtain rods for what seemed like an eternity. When I was finally able to catch it, ma was overcome with affection. So we cuddled the bird for a few minutes mumbling in the strange language the entire Singh parivar uses while cuddling animals and babies. The birdu calmed down after that. We released it soon after. Left us a treasure of down feathers.


Evening- Crashed into the teenager who aspires to be either in CBI or RAW though she pretends to want to be a tennis player. Got investigated about being out of sight, about Brandy's hostility to Nawab. the young male neighbor dachshund who fancies her, about our outing the previous night, about why the newspaper was not picked up by 7;30. Was finally rescued by two cherubic kids, Pavni and Pavitra, who wanted to play with Brandy (Brandy hates kids). There are very very few things I am able to take some pride in. Patience was one of them..WAS..until I met this lady.

Met Shrek, an adorable black spaniel with careless parents. Played with him and got him rid of some two dozen ticks. His parents were nowhere to be seen. Dear people, please don't keep pets if you can't take care of them.

Late Evening- Met a warm old lady in the park. Sat with her for a good hour and she told me about her family and her life here in Agra. It was such a joy to listen to her. She was wonderfully lively and cheerful. When we parted she told that at this stage of her life she feels that she shouldn't have taken a lot of things as seriously as she did. Including herself. I wanted to hug her but I thought it would creep her out so I didn't.

Night- Listened to a lot of POTF and Hozier. Made ma and pa laugh a lot. Oiled their hair while singing "Sar jo tera chakraye". Sang Brandy to sleep.


Monday, May 25, 2015

Stay

Etched beneath the skin
Like invisible tattoos
Running through the veins
With the breathless blood
Sweeping through synapses
Over and over again

Words that will make and break
Hurt and Comfort
Wound and Heal 
Hunt and Shield 
Crack and Cement
Kill and Resurrect
Words..that will stay.


Saturday, May 23, 2015

A little rant on darkness


Hatred, Anger, Vindictiveness, Envy


Not the emotions I feel too often

But when I do
Its a strange ecstasy, my nerves are on fire
And the fire burns in those parts of me that I never thought existed
Sometimes wounds makes us feel more alive than caresses
Sometimes poisons make for life saving medicines
I embrace my darkness as an integral part of me
And I refuse to be ashamed of it
Its necessary for the dark to exist
Absolute light is as blinding as absolute darkness
Its up to you to chose your shade of grey.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

It rained in March.

                                                                                                      Background from Webneel.com

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Days Like These

It is not easy to stay happy and positive all the time. Life is full of disappointments, frustrations, stress, troubles and sometimes you feel like everything is a mess and there is nothing to look forward to. These are very troublesome phases when it is difficult to be hopeful and optimistic about life. But then it never stays like that forever. Things look up, the sun shines and you feel it filling you back with positivity again. Such moments which bring back out hope and positivity are surely priceless. I am recounting one such recent day which has made me feel enormously positive about life.
I had come home after a long time. Although my father and sister were out of town, I still received the warmest possible welcome from my mother and my adorable dog, Brandy.  I reached late night and was dead tired. Also I had been through a bad phase so I was feeling very low. Home made me feel much better instantly.  I had the yummiest dinner in a long time and before I realized I was dozing off on my dearest bed.
The morning I woke up, everything seemed different. The usual tiredness and low feeling that I had been experiencing for the past many days was gone. It was a beautiful February morning. The sky was partially cloudy to keep the sun out of view but it was comfortably warm. The lace curtains sieved in just right amount of light to brighten up the room. The fan provided the perfect ventilation. Brandy was over the moon that I had come home and made herself comfortable at my feet as I sat down in the living room. Her unconditional love overwhelmed me and all my troubles were soon forgotten. Then mum brought me a divine cup of tea and promised me an awesome breakfast soon after.  We sat down together for a small chat that ended up being a full-fledged two hour amazing conversation where we talked our hearts out. By the end of it I felt like a different person altogether.  
After a scrumptious breakfast, mum and I decided to paint together. While painting, mum updated me about the family of pigeons that nests on our window. There was this beautiful smile on her face as she described it that me incandescently happy. It is really on days like these that one feels that there is little more to ask for.  All the pessimism and frustrations left my mind.
We often underestimate the magic that home is. Not only is it a refuge but also a place where we come back to ourselves. It is the place where love dwells and where wounds are healed. It is the place where our fears and troubles are laid to rest. Home is that comforting thought that comes to your mind when you feel tired and lost in a maddening world. Home is where you find yourself back. Always.

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Looking Up

There are times when life seems to be unusually hard on us. Times,when existence itself seems like a brutal process of reaching nowhere. These are times when the urge to give up is the greatest. When you feel like surrendering just so that the suffering would end. You are tired of facing the failures and bearing the crazy stress. Nothing seems to fall into place. You feel like you have reached the threshold and it is impossible to go on anymore.  Disillusion and hopelessness seem to be the order of the day.  But it is this very threshold the crossing of which is capable of turning things around. It is the darkest hour before the sunrise.  As Thomas Edison had said, “Many of life’s failures are people  who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up!” And here is a small incident that taught me this great lesson.
I was sitting with a group of friends on a bench and we were casually chatting. While we were having an idle conversation and honey bee came hovering and sat on my leg. Even though I have a lot of respect for these very hard working and amazing insects, I dread their sting. So as soon as it sat on my leg, I started making funny scared noises. One of my friends then promptly tried to shoo away the honeybee with a rolled newspaper. Unfortunately, the bee got hit in the process and fell to the ground. It wasn't dead but seemed pretty injured and unable to move about. Since both me and my friend had no intention of killing the bee, we felt very bad and guilty about it. He then said, “Let us just end its suffering and kill it.” Although it seemed like a humane thing to do at the time and kill the bee, something felt wrong about it. The bee was struggling hard. I agreed with him that we shouldn't let the creature suffer but I had a feeling that something might just come out of that. So I stopped him.  He looked at me and wondered what was wrong with me.
“Why do you want it go through this ordeal? Let us just end it.”
“Wait for moment. Not just yet.”
And before we could say another word, the bee got on its feet and rose into the air steadily on its wings. It seem like she waited half a moment in mid-air to say farewell and then flew away. It will be difficult to explain the happiness and optimism this little insect left us with. Just when we thought that there is no hope and it is going to die, she proved us wrong.  When an insect refused to give up and returned from the brink of death, then why not us conscious human beings?
That day I realized how much there is to be thankful for. That giving up is surely easy and staying on very tough. But one must never quit. The dawn is just around the corner, and those who stay through the night will get to see the light. J

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Leaving the Nest

It is said that magic happens only when you get out of your comfort zone. But it is not mentioned in the subtext that stepping out of your comfort zone might just be one of the most difficult things you will have to do. Also it is not a one time event. If you do not want to stagnate in a world which never stays still, you have to constantly move ahead, reinvent and challenge yourself.

For most of my life I have been a very protected individual. I have the most doting parents and the most loving home, the comfort of which is so blissful, that the thought of leaving it would unsettle me. I did not feel the need to go out and explore the world. I was content to be where I was.
But life doesn’t always stay the same. And sometimes the smallest things can make you realize things that can potentially change your life. In my case, it was my 7 year old niece. One day while sitting in my lap, she told me that she wanted to be a pilot. She wanted to reach what she thought was impossible and she wanted to do it on her own.  Even though she was but a child, she shook me out of my illusory comfort.  Not that I was not ambitious career wise but I had never dared to look for what I thought beyond my reach.

That day I made the decision to leave the nest. No matter how hard it would be.  It had to be done. I was done with my graduation in zoology and the logical path was to ahead with post-graduation in the same subject. That is what everyone in their right minds was doing. I had also applied for the same. But in my heart of heart, I was not happy with the decision. I wanted to widen my horizons.  A part of me was always thrilled about stories.  I followed news with a lot of passion. But I had never given a serious thought to considering journalism as a career option. It seemed too challenging from my point of view. But after this realization, I began to consider it as a serious career option.
When I told my family, they thought I was joking. They tried to laugh it off. They even tried to discourage me. But when they realized that I was unflinching in my resolve, they became extremely supportive. I joined the Indian Institute of Mass Communication to do a course in broadcast journalism which would initiate me into the world of journalism. That was the first leap I took. Leaving home behind to embark on a completely new and uncertain journey. 

But looking back I don’t repent it at all. IIMC  is a residential institute adjoining the JNU campus. Life seemed very challenging at first. But eventually everything started falling into place. Today I can without a second thought that it was one of the most wonderful times of my life. I made my room a cozy place where we had maggi parties every weekend. It made me miss home a little less. In that one year, I learnt a lot, not only about journalism but also about life.  And I realized what a fool I was to be content sitting at home when the world had so much to offer. 

My Room :)
It is also true that no matter where life has taken me, I have always come home to my parents. It is both my heaven and haven. But I have learnt to strike a balance between the adventures I have to undertake to fulfil my dreams and the safety and comfort I long for every time the going gets tough. My life has taken a number of unbelievable twists and turns from there. But now I am never afraid to #StartANewLife. 

(Since I was talking about homes and change, you can check out this awesome place- https://housing.com/in. One stop for all your housing related dilemmas. )



Our Winged Housemates

The pigeons always chose our place to call their home. Always. Don't really know why. But apart from the poop fest, we really appreciate their company. Unlike squirrels who consciously plot your murder while they nest in your house (read dropping pebbles on my head while I would sleep), pigeons are more amicable. The grey variety that we see usually is called  Columba livia and are considered a pest for their adopting the rapid breeding program and their fondness for pooping.



We have all our windows and balconies colonized now. And its all the same family. The original pair decided to nest on my window. But these little rebels decided to not conform to the traditional nest building traditions. Why gather stuff when you have it all in you. So instead of making the usual thing with dried grass and stuff, they went neo urban and ultra modern by deciding to make a poop fortification. Trust me, it is exactly that.  A poop fort. And I have seen nothing quite like it before.
One very beautiful thing about these pigeons is that they mate for life and are very affectionate partners. Its a joy to see them engage with each other. Their love making has a very elaborate foreplay and their parenting responsibilities are pretty much equally distributed. It is another matter that they have no sense of family planning whatsoever and that the female nesting on my window has laid thirteen batches of eggs since last year. Even she seems a bit tired now. I am sure that they could talk human, they would ask us to foster for them. 


Our current delight is this pairs daughter who has just found her mate. We are sure of that because they are here all the time and we have been watching them ever so closely. She has built her nest on the window just opposite to her parents. Her husband doesn't seem to mind his in laws. Honestly, they make for such a wonderful couple. You'd think me mad but I am serious. Their affection and excitement about their new life together is so adorable. Eversince since she has laid her first batch of eggs, the entire family has been over the moon. Both ours and theirs. The would be grandparents have given their babymaking a break. Surprisingly, their daughter has turned out to be remarkably traditional in her tastes and preferences. Contrary to her parents, she has built a very traditional and elaborate non poop nest. Since she is a first time mum, she is crazy protective and nervous about her eggs and doesn't leave them alone at all. Her very caring mate feeds her, grooms her, cleans the place and stands guard all the time. The would be grandparents also assist and chit chat all the time. Sometimes they knock on our window and ask us to join them. We then go sit with them for a while then. Most of our interaction is through a kitchen window. Sometimes they come come inside too. Never for food though. Just like hanging around and stuff. And no matter how much my mother fusses over the mess they make, she will be the one who is the most excited when new kids come. 

The poop fort loving rebel would be grands... looking after their dear daughter.

The adorable husband on guard,

\Our dearest beautiful would be mum! (she is slowly fattening up)
There is something so beautiful, feminine and graceful about mothers. :) All kinds of them. 

Homies

The young pair.. the one on the right staring at the cam is the female, She always looks at me like that. As if I am a talking pumpkin or something.

Literally never leaving the eggs alone

                  That is how they usually sit.. :)
Little wonderful things happen around us all the time. Usually it is them which make all the difference between living life and merely existing. I am glad they find our place safe and warm enough to call home. :)

Our Winged Housemates

The pigeons always chose our place to call their home. Always. Don't really know why. But apart from the poop fest, we really appreciate their company. Unlike squirrels who consciously plot your murder while they nest in your house (read dropping pebbles on my head while I would sleep), pigeons are more amicable. The grey variety that we see usually is called  Columba livia and are considered a pest for their adopting the rapid breeding program and their fondness for pooping.



We have all our windows and balconies colonized now. And its all the same family. The original pair decided to nest on my window. But these little rebels decided to not conform to the traditional nest building traditions. Why gather stuff when you have it all in you. So instead of making the usual thing with dried grass and stuff, they went neo urban and ultra modern by deciding to make a poop fortification. Trust me, it is exactly that.  A poop fort. And I have seen nothing quite like it before.
One very beautiful thing about these pigeons is that they mate for life and are very affectionate partners. Its a joy to see them engage with each other. Their love making has a very elaborate foreplay and their parenting responsibilities are pretty much equally distributed. It is another matter that they have no sense of family planning whatsoever and that the female nesting on my window has laid thirteen batches of eggs since last year. Even she seems a bit tired now. I am sure that they could talk human, they would ask us to foster for them. 


Our current delight is this pairs daughter who has just found her mate. We are sure of that because they are here all the time and we have been watching them ever so closely. She has built her nest on the window just opposite to her parents. Her husband doesn't seem to mind his in laws. Honestly, they make for such a wonderful couple. You'd think me mad but I am serious. Their affection and excitement about their new life together is so adorable. Eversince since she has laid her first batch of eggs, the entire family has been over the moon. Both ours and theirs. The would be grandparents have given their babymaking a break. Surprisingly, their daughter has turned out to be remarkably traditional in her tastes and preferences. Contrary to her parents, she has built a very traditional and elaborate non poop nest. Since she is a first time mum, she is crazy protective and nervous about her eggs and doesn't leave them alone at all. Her very caring mate feeds her, grooms her, cleans the place and stands guard all the time. The would be grandparents also assist and chit chat all the time. Sometimes they knock on our window and ask us to join them. We then go sit with them for a while then. Most of our interaction is through a kitchen window. Sometimes they come come inside too. Never for food though. Just like hanging around and stuff. And no matter how much my mother fusses over the mess they make, she will be the one who is the most excited when new kids come. 

The poop fort loving rebel would be grands... looking after their dear daughter.

The adorable husband on guard,

\Our dearest beautiful would be mum! (she is slowly fattening up)
There is something so beautiful, feminine and graceful about mothers. :) All kinds of them. 

Homies

The young pair.. the one on the right staring at the cam is the female, She always looks at me like that. As if I am a talking pumpkin or something.

Literally never leaving the eggs alone

                  That is how they usually sit.. :)
Little wonderful things happen around us all the time. Usually it is them which make all the difference between living life and merely existing. I am glad they find our place safe and warm enough to call home. :)

Sunday, March 08, 2015

They said it.


"Pakki Paaji"

"You look exactly like your father."

"You look so much like your mother"

"Your mother is so beautiful. What happened to you?"

"There is a difference between being nice and being a fool. Know it"

"I am not talking to her because she is not making eye contact"

"I want to talk to her and know why she is not making eye contact"

"Only you could be nice enough to make our beds"

"You are a mini Meera"

"You are tamsik"

"Punish a man if he does wrong. But never take away the source of his bread."

"Forgive him. You will do yourself a favor"

"You are gutsy kid"

"You have roots till hell"

"Do you want to be a nurse?"

"You look like Pritam."

"I like your chappals"

"You haven't seen enough grief to write poetry yet. What? Teenage Heartbreaks?"

"No matter what. People always look beautiful when they smile"

"Your mother is not only the most beautiful woman I have known. She is also the strongest, most fearless, most morally upright and honest person I have come across. Two things set her apart. The highness of her cheekbone and the strength of her backbone."

"I will never give up on you."

"You look like a queen whose kingdom has been taken"

"What does Prabhjot mean?"
"Light of God"

"Pagoli Suali" (Assamese for Mad Woman)

"Par meet na mila!"

"Why are you so attached to the Earth?"

"My meiosis slides look like a cheap photocopy of yours"

"Why does everyone seem to realize your importance after hurting you?"

"You give teddy bear hugs"

"Mis-singh"

"You'd be McGonagall"

"We are different because we are compassionate."

"How do live with the noise Rohini?"
"I don't realize it"

"You are passive aggressive"

"Baki sab tap tap..Rohini..dham!"

"Odd man out Shubham!"

"If you like me, I must be doing something right."

"Sometimes, I feel you are a woman from a different era"

"How many people are you?"

"Only you give yourself trouble."

"You look like you don't have a worry in the world"

"You have a suppressed anxiety disorder"

"Didi please don't ever scold us, It will break our hearts"

"I like English when you teach me"

"You should have been a teacher"

"You should have been a doctor"

"You should have been a cook"

"You should have been a nun"

"You should have been a counselor"

"You should have been a comedienne."

"Prolonged drizzles are always better than brief downpours"

"You are the sort of person who'd be happy to live in a cottage on the hills"

"You are play dough around an iron rod"

"I don't take your compliments seriously"

"If you like it, nothing else matters"

"Are you the girl with the ponytail and specs?"

"Aaj kuch toofani karte hain! Rohiniiiiii nahiiiiiii!!!!!"

"Jaldi aao. Phir Ghalib ki haveli le chalungi main."

"Monkeys and Chimpanzees. Do they get along?"

"Fir I realized. That if you are sad, I will also be sad."

"You were looking for me all your life"

"You are my favourite bua because you are huggable and you teach me how to bake"

"You don't know how to recognize people"

"I have never seen mosquitoes bite anyone like that."

"You will make socialists out of my kids. You'll make them wear khadi coats over their Prada shirts."

"I like how you talk to dogs"

"Your bag is nothing like a woman's "

"Say Awwwle again"





Sunday, March 01, 2015

Letter to the kid on the hills

To you who smiles like a cherub,

I had come to your hills to escape the heat of my plains. I had also come to give myself some rest. My life had been a chaos and disappointments were strewn all across my mind. Nothing went the way I wanted it to go. Happiness was elusive and nothing seemed to fall into place. It was then that I had come to seek refuge in the mountains. It was supposed to be temporary relief. But I went back with something much more than that. Just because of you.

We were on our way to Khajjiar. The previous afternoon had been very hot but not this one. The clouds came almost unannounced and took us in their gentle embrace. They danced all over the valley. They caressed the eager Deodars with their wet loving palms. They rained to nurture the valley's soul.. and they also washed away a lot of my fears. 

All along our way, those breathtaking wild pink blooms greeted us. Exuberant after the rains. Unaware of how beautiful they looked. Unaware of how their casual presence all over the mountais filled me with awe. It was almost the same feeling like I would step out for a walk at night and i would see hundreds of stars casually scattered along the path. What do you think of them kid? Does your valley fill you with the same awe? Or have you got used to the miracles?

There you were. Standing in the waiting shed at the bend of the road. Clad in your uniform,with your bag still on your shoulders. Hugging the pillar and waiting. Was someone to come and pick you up? Or do you walk home by yourself? Home to your mother, who'd be waiting anxiously. Whose eyes light up with the light of her soul when you come back to her. Then she would feed you hot food and ask about your day. Were you thinking of her? Or your siblings? Maybe an elder brother who teases you all the time or a younger sister you are very protective about. Or your father.. of how you want to be or not want to be like him?
Dear kid, i don't know what came over me the moment I saw you. Your innocence, your solitude, the way you leaned on the pillar. Before I realized it my hand was up and waving to you, desperately seeking your attention and my lips had upon them the most genuine heartfelt smile I knew I was capable of. And you looked! You waved at me without as much a thought. Without a trace of surprise in your eyes. And with the most beautiful smile I have ever beheld on a face. Darling kid, you healed much in me in that fleeting moment. You made yourself priceless to me.
I don't know what you thought of me. But I can never be grateful enough to you for gifting me that smile. I haven't felt that sort of happiness in ages. It was so pure, so unadulterated.. something I never knew I could feel. I was myself, just myself in that moment. No one's daughter, or sister, or friend...nothing..Just myself.. not dependent on any identity.. I could have been no one for all I care. I don't even know what happened. Your smile dissolved itself in my soul..rushed through all over my being and undid the knots that held my chaos into place. I laughed and cried while my family wondered if I had gone crazy.

You would probably laugh and be amused if you were to read this letter you little cherub. Or would you just smile like you did then? Do you know how beautiful you are? That your presence filled me with more awe than when I saw the wild pink blooms. Do you know how proud your parents must be to have you? Do you know that your presence has made my world a better place. I have never been the same again. You taught me one of the greatest lessons I have learned in life. That true happiness is not dependent on the conditionality of things to fall into place, of acquiring things or losing them. That true happiness comes to us at the most unexpected moments, in the most unexpected circumstances. That the only requisite to realize it to have love in your heart and open windows in your soul. 

Its not that I have not been sad after that. I have had very dark phases. But I have understood sadness better. I don't loathe or fear it now. So it cannot threaten or harm me the way it used to. You have turned my grey many shades lighter. I have opened up myself to feel joy in the tiniest things in my life. I don't know if there is a God kid, but if he is there, I have no doubt that he has your smile. 

Grow up to be a wonderful man. I know life will not spare you the wounds, bitterness, hurt and scars but let none of them touch the miracle that lies within you. I wish that your smile keeps changing lives like it did for me. Be kind to life even if it is unkind to you. 

I love you.

The crazy woman who waved at you on the rainy day.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

To Do List

Adopt a plant, name it Hope

Adopt a dog, name her Wifi

Have tea and red velvet cake with my demons

Learn pottery, basket weaving and letting go

Sleep in an open field

Get swallows in flight tattooed on my wrist

Paint a clown of my grudge

Learn a new language

Write poetry in it

Knit sweaters for pups

Sing my dog to sleep

Wear rainbow socks

Learn puppeteering

Hug a Panda

Make a sand castle with lights

Teach a spider to calm down

Make a new word

See the Northern Lights

Go on a solitary trip

Change the world a bit. For better

Bake twenty types of cakes

Find a perfect cherry blossom

Sit and cry beneath it, then laugh

Write a self help book. Read it.

Drape a white sheet and play ghost.

Counsel a ghost

Get two unicorns married

Become godmother to their kid

Teach a banana how to laugh

Sing at a rock concert. Scare everyone away.

Rescue animals

Rescue myself

Have coffee with the Moon

Go for a long walk with a Buddhist monk

Make a snow woman

Design a book cover

Make carrot pickle

Cheer up the bamboo plant

Flirt with a Deodar

Trust

Collapse. Rebuild.

Forgive. Forget. Remember

Add to the List




Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The letter I did not send.

Dearest you who never listens to anyone,

I have never really figured out how to write letters. But I have wanted to write to you for a long time. There has always been more silence between us than words. That I believe is because we haven't felt their need. But sometimes I feel that I should talk to you more. That we should have long conversations. But when I imagine it, you are always sitting silently on the ancestral cradling cane chair, your eyes smiling at me, listening to my rant like you did in yesteryears. The last time we met, you didn't say much either. Except that you missed me and that the place was untidy and that you were surprised at how remarkably small feet I have for my height. I didn't say anything at all. I wondered if you thought that I was growing up to be a shy young woman or that I didn't feel the same about you. I have never known what to say or do when overwhelmed. You were but a shadow of the man in whose lap I had spent my childhood. The only thing that hadn't changed about you was the love in your eyes and the warmth in your smile.

I don't know how to explain that moment. To tell you how was it like to see you there, standing before me. To hear your voice, still the same shade of lavender. To look at you smiling at me..just the same. Like it was just yesterday when you and I would sit together for hours and I'd tell you jungle stories, when your shoulders were my throne, when you were Cowji, when Chawanprash used to be dismissed as Cat's poo, when teddies and toys used to be stuffed in the cupboards and still more kept coming, when you would touch the prasad to my forehead and put it in my mouth like I was a baby bird. When your Ranibeti was the proudest person in the world because she had you. What words would ever be so capable that I could sew them together to say something that would even come close to describing what went through my heart that day.

You sound weak on the phone these days. And you tell me you are keeping well. Are daughters to be lied to like this? Why do even try? You are so terrible at lying. What does your God have to say about this. Does he approve? And pray tell me what is his grand design? I don't understand, never have, never will. But you do, Your smile tells me you do. Your serenity, calmness, your abandon tells me you do. Do you know how scared I am? That I am the same little girl to whom you meant the world? That I still cry every time I listen to your voice on the phone. That your messages light up my soul. That my heart brims with pride when you still call me Ranibeti. That I howled for hours when Pa told me about the tear that slipped through when you told him how much you love me.

What do I tell you to make you realize that your presence in my life is something I can't imagine myself without. Do you even know how thoroughly spoilt and obstinate you are. Do you know how much agony that causes me? It makes me resent the God to whose will you have surrendered to so willingly. You don't even want to fight. Do you realize it makes me doubt your love for me. Don't do this to your daughter. I can't call you and say this because you are still as adept at emotional manipulation as you always were and you'll cut me short. I shouldn't be powerless over you if you love me as much you seem to. Your God's will shouldn't prevail over my love. There is too much you have to do. You can't possibly put it aside and go about being stoic. You can't keep doing this to everyone who loves you. You don't have the right to do it. Nor does your God.
                       ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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It has been six years since you left us. Here is the letter I wrote to you but did not send. For what fear I don't even remember. Here is the echo of the last words you said to me. That God willing we would meet soon. Here is the regret, the infernal regret that I decided to keep my visit to you a surprise. Here is the scar, of the day when you left me, a week before I was to come to you. Here is that haunting vision of your empty room. Here is the void in my heart, the vacuum where no sounds are heard. Here is the locked door, the key to which you took with you. Here are the parched dreams, where I would make you proud, where you would do my kanyadan, where you would name my first born. Here are the memories of you, strewn all over my sky, dissolved in the waters that call themselves my tears. Here is the wound that will never heal. And here I am... cursed to live with all of this and without you.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Random Rantings on a February Night

Often she would sleep with her fists clenched. Like her sweaty palms were holding the pieces of her broken song. Then the fears would come, crawling along her spine, singing in chorus. That was why she was scared to walk into that void between consciousness and slumber. For some, it was just a moment. For her it was a vast chasm of chaos. A chaos that engulfed her and pulled every strand of her consciousness until she bled white. Sometimes the same nightmare would continue itself, night after night. Like a book you couldn't bear to read, but couldn't put down either. Sometimes, there were stories, incredible stories. A village of widows in China, a train robbery, a dying woman asking her to keep the bangles for her daughter, a stampede. They'd be vivid visions, coherent and frighteningly real. 

Some days she felt like she was sitting under a murdered tree in a desert, picking splinters from her soul. She would scrape her wounds for she could not bear the touch of them. They'd bleed and bleed and then make way for scars. She was covered in them now. Memoirs of the compulsive warrior, of the decay. 

She wanted to lie in an open meadow, just after it had rained. The grass beneath her would be wet and cool. The air would smell of redemption. She would lie there on her back, facing the tired sky. She would lie there until everything would fade into oblivion. 

But she found herself sitting in this burning moor. Next to her prayers, now scattered in unmarked graves. She wished they would find some peace but then, not everything gives up the way she does. Even her own creations. She had to slay their grieving hungry ghosts. Longing to prey upon the morsels of her hope. Oh how she wished they would give up. 

She was on the shore that night when the thirst overwhelmed her. The fool that she was, she drank from the ocean. Now she sits there in agony. Tongue bruised from the salt of the sea. Then the moon came and breathed against the waters, gently nudging them bathe her
roughened feet. She smiled at his endeavor. She was his beloved loony wife. The cause of his curse. She was the reason he would wane, and yet he loved her more every night. She hoped he knew that she wanes with him. That lovers carry every curse together.