Merry Christmas And Happy Holidays!

The holidays are a time of celebration.

But it is also the time that hurts…

For not everybody is with their family.

For some may have lost someone this year.

Someone may be alone.

Someone is learning to live without someone.

Someone’s family is incomplete today.

Someone’s landscape of life has changed.

But the holidays are also a time for hope.

Of happiness, prosperity and peace

For we are all so brave,

Through our struggles and fears.

 Another year is coming.

I hope this year that awaits you,

Is better than the year that was.

Merry Christmas to you,

And to everyone you care for.

 

 

 

Shashikala – The Unknown Feminist

For the past few minutes the doorbell was incorporated as part of my dream. Finally, after it rang for some time, I realized it is not a dream and I need to get up and open the door.

Shashikala walked in.

“Goodmorning Didi.” She said in her usual chirpy voice.

“Hmm.” I replied coldly. She had not come to work the day before. I was giving her the silence treatment.

“Didi, I will make chicken for you today,” she said trying to lure me with my favourite food.

“No need! There is a lot of leftover from yesterday!” I gave a cold reply again.

“Ok Didi!”

The silent treatment did not seem to be working. She either did not understand I was mad or she did not care. I broke my cold war and blurted out:

“Look at all those dirty dishes! I had guests over yesterday! And you just ditched me! I had told you not to take an off for these two days! Your work is the last priority for you. You took an off to look after your friend!! She does not have anyone? You have to disrupt your work to attend to her?”

“No Didi.  She is not my friend.”

“Oh so what neighbor? Stranger! Even better! You come to work only after you have solved all of humanity’s problems.”

“She is his first wife….”

Shashikala was married off when she was about 18. Her husband was abusive. He used to take all her money for alcohol and beat her up.  In the next five years, she had two sons until one fine day he just left.  After a couple of years he showed up again, asking for his children.  Shashikala refused to give them up. He told her he is doing well in life and would be in a better position to support the kids. She said she does not want to live with him.  A compromise was made. The husband took her elder son. She kept the younger one.

A kind aunt of hers thought that it is time she remarried.  The prospective groom was okay with having her son around. So Shashikala agreed. Once the marriage was solemnized, she was in for another shock. This man was already married, something she had no idea about.  The first wife was still living there.  Shashikala left him and came back with her son.

Now, she lives with her younger son. The elder son (who is with his father) is in a hostel and he visits her sometimes. Both the husbands show up at her house once in a while to create some drama!

Her story came flashing back in my mind.

What happened to her!” I asked her. The anger was now replaced with curiosity.

“He came the night before to eat. He said that she has not been keeping well so there is no one to cook for him. You know he is very selfish Didi. He did not even take her to the doctor. She was in pain. So I went there. Took her to the hospital. Got her the medicines. Cleaned her house. And cooked some food.”

“Why do you care so much about her?”

“Unknowingly I did her wrong Didi! I married her husband and hurt her! This is the least I can do.”

I read a lot of articles online. The latest trend is romanticizing cheating. I have seen a lot of reputed publications publish articles on cheating and how it is all about “being in the moment”, “living your life”,  “love and sex are different things”, “it just happens” and other such excuses. When I express my disgust in the comments some cool people respond,“Why are being so judgmental”, “To each to his own”. It seems we have no idea how to be progressive.

Here is a woman who did not exactly have a smooth life. One bad marriage is enough to break a person. She had two! It could have been convenient for her to bitter. But she chose not to. She had self-respect. She did not take back her first husband when he came back. She left the second husband the moment she found out he is already married.

But these things did not change who she is as a person. It did not change the kindness within her. The kindness that made her feel the physical and emotional pain of another woman.

Yes, good women uplift other women. They hold their head high in times of turmoil. They do not let the unhappiness in their lives change their judgment, and conscience.

Shashikala, you are a feminist to me.  You may not get any recognition.  But you have taught me one thing:

We are who we are. No matter what happens in life, there is no excuse to cause someone pain. There is no reason to not live by our principles.

 

The Little Girl Who Won

“Mumma, when I receive the award, should I walk up the stage from the left or from the right? Both side has stairs.” Asked a very enthusiastic five-year-old girl dressed as a dhoban (washerwoman).

“Any side, beta”, reassured the mother, looking tensed.

She got a call from her husband. “How Is she doing? Competition over?” asked the father on the other line.

“Contest is over. She did well. But I am worried because she is so confident she will win! She is asking me which stairs she should go up from! I hope she wins something. She will be too disappointed otherwise!”

“It is okay. I have bought her that doll set anyway. If she wins, it is her prize. If she does not, it will cheer her up.”

Few minutes later, the little girl walked up from the right side to win the first prize award in the fancy competition. Her mother clapped proudly, relieved.

It has been 25 years since then. But the scene was pretty similar this Saturday at the Orange Flower Awards for which the girl who is now a grown-up woman had traveled with her mother. The woman’s father was texting, this time on the family whatsapp group.

“Any updates? Keeping fingers crossed.” The father texted with a folded hands emoticon.

“Programme has started.” replied the mother.

“Keep us updated.”

The grown up woman was sitting with two of her blogger friends. Her mother was sitting behind her with her friend’s mother (who is also a blogger). Her mother was initially sitting on the aisle seat. But as more crowd poured in, she had to move in. Now she was all the way in the corner.

If I win, she will not be able to take any decent pictures from that corner…. The woman thought to herself.

She turned around to look at her mother. She wanted to ask her to get up and click a picture in case she did win.

But she was not  that presumptuous five-year-old anymore!! The little girl who was so confident of herself was now a grown-up woman. A woman who was afraid she will jinx it if she says something. A woman who is scared of good things. A woman who feels that if something nice happens to her, something bad will happen to balance it out. A woman who struggles to fight off her inner demons and negative thoughts.

The woman won. The father was updated on whatsapp. He updated his entire contact book. Even people who do not know his daughter writes. The mother managed to take a video from her corner seat. Without any sound though! She had lowered her phone’s volume for the event (something she regrets) because in her own words, ‘Tumhare baare mein kitna achcha bola tha , woh record nahi hua.”

The woman was very happy. She will try to write better. But most importantly, she will try her best to be that free-spirited little girl again.

I won three awards this year. But this post is not just about me. I would like to dedicate this post to everyone reading this, please pursue your dreams. Don’t be afraid. Don’t think about 100 things that will stop you. Don’t expect any success. Just do it! When you do something you like, everything falls in place.

You Don’t Make Money!!Chalo, Dil Behel Jata Hai!

“So, you get paid for writing blogs?”

“No,” I tried to respond with a polite smile.

“But bloggers get ads, no.”

“I don’t have advertisements on my blog. In fact, I have to pay for the hosting space and domain name.”

“Oh! So, it is just a hobby!”

“I have a full-time job. So yes. But not really. It is more of a passion.”

“Oh! Even I have a full-time job. But I am also into real estate broking. I make as much money through it as my job. Thankfully, my hobby pays! Some people have useless hobbies. My wife, she likes to apply mehendi designs for her friends during karwachauth, weddings etc. She does it for free!! I choose my hobbies wisely.” He said with a wink.

This arrogant gentleman undermined my work in seconds by referring to it as a “useless hobby”. I don’t blame him because for some people everything is measured in terms of money.

It reminds me of another conversation I had online with two of my blogger friends . One is a brilliant dancer and writer, who conducts dancing classes for children. A gentleman told her that she does “good time-pass”.  Another blogger friend writes wonderful articles on diverse topics. Someone told her, “Good, now that the kids are off from home, at least you have something to do!”

I am not angry. I know it is not a big deal. I just feel sorry for people who do not understand that something non-materialistic can also give happiness.

If money could give happiness, so many rich people would not be depressed.  I know a lot of creative people who do not make much money out of their pursuits be it – writing, dancing, painting, singing, acting, photography or even gardening, baking, nail art, mehendi design, make-up, cooking etc. But they still do it. With their heart. Because it feeds their soul. It provides meaning to their lives – something beyond jobs, money, things, and relationships.

So, Mr. Materialistic Moron, before you disregard my hobby or your wife’s hobby as “useless”, please  get out and meet more people. Learn more about human behavior, psychology and spirituality. Understand why people do the things they do. Maybe it gives them happiness, something money cannot buy.

My writing is what keeps me sane on days when I feel I will fall into pieces.

The little interactions that I have with my readers through likes, comments and shares is sometimes so much more comforting that my conversations with people I meet.

My writing has made me a better human being, because I try  to put myself in the characters I write about.

You my ignorant friend, have not even learnt to respect people.

 

 Image source

 

What Did You Pray For Today?

My first school was a convent. We used to pray before every lesson (which was called period), before lunch, and during the morning assembly.  Other than this, my friend and I would visit the chapel inside the school before any exam. This was easily praying about 10 times a day. If a fellow class student was sick, we prayed.  If there was an earthquake anywhere in the world we prayed.  We also had a daily lesion of “Moral science” in which we were taught to become better human beings.  I therefore had a very God-fearing childhood.

The habit of praying for everything continued throughout my childhood and teenage years. The prayer would be very specific such as ‘Please God let me get a 100 on the Math exam.’ One of the strongest prayers of my childhood was when I prayed for my pet dog when he was sick. He died.  It was the first time my innocent mind had to come to terms to the fact that you could close your eyes, pray with sincerity, be a good girl and yet bad things happened.    The dog had died during Navratri. My aunt had told me he went directly to God. I believed her. Prayers continued.

During my teenage years, prayers became more and more shallow. From becoming beautiful and tall, to having my crush ask me out. One time,  I was taking part in an international drama festival on historical fiction in New York City. I was representing my school. It was my dream to win the award. This prayer was added to my list. In fact, it topped my list for few months. One day, I asked my sister (seven years elder) to also pray that I win the contest.

I wish that you win! But I am not going to pray to God for it!”

“What!! You don’t want me to win! It is just one small prayer!”

“I never pray to God for such things. I only pray for the life and health of our family. To keep us all well and safe. That’s all.”

“What do you mean? You don’t pray that you get the highest grade in college! Or that you get an internship in NYSE!”

“Absolutely not! I just pray that we are all healthy and happy. How do you know that winning this contest is the best thing for you?”

“What can be better than winning the international history day competition?”

“You don’t know anything beyond that! God obviously does! And anyway none of these things matter in life.”

This was a shocking revelation for me at 10 years old. Was this how everyone prayed? Non-specific prayer for life and health? What if everyone else listed everything in their prayers and I did not? Wouldn’t I be left out? How would God even know if I did not ask!

As I grew up I started following my sister’s way of praying. God knew the best. And I believed in him. In between I think there were some phases of specific prayers, in addition to the regular one for health and wellness. Please save my job! Please save my relationship!

But as life has unfolded, I have realized God’s plan has certainly been better.

Thank God I lost that job! Thank God I am no more with that person!

I hate preaching. I do not follow religion although I believe in God. But I am talking from experience.

For all those having a rough day, or going through a tough phase, this prayer is for you.

 

Image source

Thirty Years of Me!

On my 28th birthday, I had posted this article. I had even created a separate category on my blog called ‘Birthday Memoirs’ based on one article! Last year I got lazy and shared the same article again. But today, I have turned 30. How can I not write about it!

Give me some sunshine. Give me some rain. Give me another chance. I wanna grow up once again.

Last week, I was on a whatsapp video call with my cousin and her six-year-old daughter.

Cousin: What’s the plan for the birthday?

Me: No plans. I am turning 30!

Kid excited: Mausi’s 30th birthday is coming up?

Me: Shh! Don’t say 30 out loud! It is a secret between you and me.  Don’t tell anyone!

Kid with a thumbs up: Okay Mausi. Secret. Done. I will tell everyone you turned 39!

Me: Hey! What kind of a secret is that! The secret should be beneficial to me!

Kid confused and disappointed. She had given her best shot at faking.

Cousin: You should reduce Mausi’s age. 39 is worse than 30!

Kid was still confused. She did not understand why turning 30 was bad. Why was turning 39 even worse? It did not make any sense to her.

Past few months I have been upset about turning 30. Should have talked to the kid sooner. She would have made me realize it really does not matter!

Last year this time

Aaj kal paon zameen par nahin padate mere, Bolo dekhaa hai kabhi, tumne mujhe udate huye

I was pretty happy. I had a new job. New friends. An international family vacation.  In the beginning of 2017, I won an award for blogging. Life seemed to be going well.  And I was pretty optimistic that by this time, this year I would have un-singled myself!

Oh dear men!

No! Not all men! Just talking about the men I met this year. Instead of becoming partners for me, most ended up becoming case studies for my articles. One became the sole inspiration behind my series, ‘To the Geet without Aditya Kashyap, and the Queen without the international vacation’.  I think this year I have written more about relationships that any other topic.

I had met a gentleman through an arranged marriage set-up. He was good-looking, soft-spoken and well-dressed. It was during the phase when I was certain I should get married. He lived with his parents. He was very clear he would continue living with his parents after marriage too. He said that I will be “allowed” to do whatever l liked. As long as I respect his parents and take care of them.

Few years back, such a statement would have sounded harmless to me. But I have become smart. Or rather experiences have taught me better.  I imagined my life of marital bliss with him.

Wake up before everyone else –

Pehli Kiran Jab Se Uge, Bhabhi Meri Tab Se Jage. Sabka Pura dhyan Dhare Woh, Shaam Dhale Tak Kaam Kare

Feed three adults.

Seek their permission to go to my parents’ place. Actually anywhere.

Be fully covered since the moment I leave my bedroom.

Forget about watching Mindhunter. Or Game of thrones. Or anything. 

Not being able to put my legs on the center table stand while watching TV. Ever.

Weekends will be spent grocery shopping. Identifying sales from Big Bazaar. And watching Indian Idol for fun.

Is it worth it? I asked myself. Don’t answer the question. Most of India is doing this. So I am pretty sure it is worth it.  It just made me realize that in case it never happens for me, or happens much later in life, it is okay. I am not missing out on a lot!

My current life

I made a lot of friends this year. From Shaadi.com to tinder, from Jeevansathi.Com to Trulymadly, from meetups to events in the city– I was everywhere! I Did meet some nice and interesting people through these mediums who I would not have met otherwise.

Weekends I get up at 12. Have lunch and head out. Evenings are usually spent in some nice restaurant / pub.

Come on, come on, turn the radio on. It’s Saturday and I won’t be long. Gotta paint my nails, put my high heels on. It’s Saturday and I won’t be long

Come back at night. No wonder, a lot of women in their 30’s and 40’s prefer not to get married unless they meet someone awesome. A lot of single women I know and I myself spend a lot of time and money on ourselves. Hair spas. Hair smoothening. Sexy dresses. Fun events. Nobody to answer to.

What was good this year

Writing has been going well. My articles on Womensweb, as well as on my blog did really well. More people have been writing to me. Feels good.

My sister and niece visited twice this year. Niece is a lot of fun to be with. She is also one of the most affectionate and loving children I know. Till the time that she was here, I would look forward to coming back from office. She would give me company for everything – Whether it is staying up late at night, or going to gym. She makes me believe in all the good things in the world. She also makes me believe in marriage and family.

People and their ways!

Kuch to log kaheinge, logon ka kaam hai kehna

I have spent most of my life overthinking and overanalyzing. This year also, like any other year I have been hurt by some people’s words and behaviour. Today is a good day to let go of all the bitterness. Let me focus on better things. I have noticed that I may not like what some people say, yet I am grateful that these people have managed to stay in my life. Even if they say some stupid things, at least they call, text or show up.  Better than the ones who are not in touch. I guess this is the first sign of ageing! Gratefulness!

The single factor

Single Rehne De Mane Single Rehne De, Happy Hoon Main Happy Happy Rehne De!

The other day, I went out with four of my girlfriends.  We are all in the age group 29-42. All single women. We started talking about boyfriends and our broken relationships. One girl decided to ask what each one of us may be looking for in a partner. One girl said she wants someone who is a poet or an artist. Shayar type. Another one said she would prefer someone who is earning very well, in a stable job because she wants to be a homemaker.

I don’t know if it was the Vodka but all of this just made me laugh. I told the first girl, if she likes poetry or art, why doesn’t she do it herself?  I asked the second girl, who should be paying for her expenses then?

I am not laughing at them. I have no right to, as someone who spent the entire year trying to unsingle. I am laughing at all of us. At the expectation that someone will come, and make our lives better. The emotionally unavailable boyfriend who does not want to commit, the undekha anjana shayar, or the decent gentleman who promises a stable life, provided his parents are taken care of. Single, wise, older women still waiting for a man!

Do Patte Patjhad Ke Pedon Se Utre The, Pedon Ki Shaakhon Se Utre The, Phir Utne Mausam Guzre Vo Patte Do bechaare, Phir Ugne Ki Chaahat Mein Vo Sehraon Se Guzre

I guess it is badly ingrained in our minds that relationship will make us happy. I have had enough with this expectation. And the efforts directed towards achieving it. The next year will be all about me. About all the things that I have wanted to do. Here are some:

Teaching kids

When I was in the United States, I used to volunteer to teach children at summer school. I was quite young myself – about 16. There was a kid (fourth grader) in one of my classes, who was Hispanic. He struggled with English. I struggled with him.  But he was hard-working. I tried my best to help him improve. He responded.

On the last day, his father had come to pick him up. The kid had got a rose for me, as a thank you. Except that he felt too shy at the time of handing it over. So, he gave the rose to his father to give it to me. The father was sooooo cute!! He thanked me for helping his son. The awkward, short, scrawny, braces wearing teenager inside me could not stop blushing.

I also taught Kindergarten another summer. Those kids were too young to learn anything. But they were very cute and innocent. Teaching was a very rewarding experience. Not because of the cute Hispanic man. But because I really enjoyed myself. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be a teacher.

I don’t know how I will achieve this with my full-time job and writing. But let me for now put it in my to-do list for this year.

Taare zameen par…

Lasik surgery

I don’t know how many times I have gone to the doctor, got an eye-check-up, weighed pros and cons (there is hardly a con), nodded when the doctor has asked me to come back for a final consultation, and then chickened out and never returned. People who have got laser surgery have told me it has made their lives much easier. I think I should too. At least I would become less averse to travelling, and water sports. Maybe I should stop watching youtube videos on the surgery, because they just scare me. If any of you have got it done, please do let me know how it feels like.

The book

I think about it every night and day, Spread my wings and fly away. I believe I can soar, I see me running through that open door

I hope the book that I have been working on gets to see the light of the day. I also realized I have posted very few guest blogs this year. Please do keep sending me story ideas.

GMAT and MBA

This is the most farfetched idea. But it is still there. Maths had always been a nightmare for me. I used to dream that I have failed in Maths even long after I had finished school. Then came chartered accountancy and the nightmares became real. I used to have a recurring dream that I have failed the CA exams till years after I had qualified. But those dreams had stopped. Until recently.  I dreamt that I  failed in Biology. I have never been a Science student. I attribute that dream to my struggle with Maths with the GMAT book I bought this month. My sub-conscious brain probably could not process failing GMAT yet and substituted it with biology.

I met a friend from the US who is doing MBA from Singapore. I had met her though blogging. I confessed to her that I am not really interested in GMAT or MBA. I just want to get out of here. She said that it is a common reason for a lot of girls from the Indian sub-continent!

But I think two factors would not let it happen for me. 1. I love India way too much. 2. I am horrible at Maths.

So there. I better end it now before this post becomes an autobiography.

Maula tera maali, O hariyaali jungle waali,
Tu de har gaali pe taali, Uski kadam kadam rakhwaali

Image source

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh the restless mind..

 

Monday morning started. The fact that Wednesday is a holiday gave me new zeal to rise and shine. My friends and I are always late to work on Mondays. I text on the group to check on them. They have missed the office cab. Every Monday this happens!  But today will be a very busy day for me. Work deadlines. Story contest deadlines. All to be completed by end of day.

Yet the mind drifts off….

11 am.

I should write a book!

Maybe, I should take the GMAT and get out of India…

I should get married….

2 pm

Friend and I are having lunch. We both narrated our weekend. It was a fun weekend! It starts drizzling. We take a walk. Wednesday is a holiday. We remind each other. Just two days. Today is almost over, she said to me optimistically.

4 pm

I am not able to file a tax return.  This is the problem. Nothing works here..

I should get out of India.  Today I will complete the quantitative part of the GMAT book.

6 pm

Tax returns filed. I am happy with my work. I drive back home. Song on my pen drive from Pardes plays, ‘London dekha, Paris dekha aur dekha Japaan’.

I love my India. I will never leave India. ***** GMAT. I belong here.

9 pm

Story for the contest done. I reread my story proudly. It is a lovely story! I should win the contest.

Maybe someone will make a movie out of it! But first I should write a book…. Then maybe someone will notice me..

10 pm

Didn’t go to gym. Didn’t go for walk. Didn’t study anything. KBC time has changed. Missed half an hour. Don’t want to watch Bigg Boss but will put in on anyway. I am bored.

Maybe I should get married….

I should write a book!

All I need is an MBA!

I should travel somewhere solo….

 

 

 

Fight Your Inner Demons! Happy Diwali

Wish all of you a very Happy Diwali!! Some are celebrating it today. Some are celebrating it tomorrow.  But the festivities have started. I have fond memories of Diwali from when I was younger.

When I was growing up, and I think even when most of you were growing up we did not know / care much about pollution. We played with patakas, anaar, phooljhadi, and rockets in all its glory. Diwali was about going out with my dad and shopping for fire crackers. My mother would make me wear jeans, shirt and a jacket so that I am fully covered and safe from blisters. I would want to dress up in a pretty lehenga with a dupatta like the older girls. I was scared of most patakas but I would watch my dad, brothers, neighbors burst it. I would scream and run away when they would burst it, then look back, laugh and clap. Jump around like a monkey. We would also go the roof of the house from where we could see the whole town lit up. We would never be able to use up everything we bought. So the leftover patakas would be used up in the days following Diwali. If there was a cricket match coming up in the next week, then even better use of the leftovers. For me, it was a consolation. I did not want the fun and the excitement to be over. Leftover patakas meant that there was something to look forward to.

I don’t know what growing up does to you! No excitement for anything! Unhappiness, dissatisfaction, non-fulfillment, loneliness, bitterness, jealousy, regret!

Diwali is a celebration of victory and winning over demons. But what about our inner demons? Aren’t they the most difficult to conquer?

If you ever want to tame your inner demons, you must consciously choose never to become too attached to any particular life plan – and always remain open to the idea that there might be an even better life plan for you. –  Karen Salmansohn

                                                                 ***

I woke up feeling a sense of emptiness. It is hard to describe it. It is not the same as sadness. When you are sad, you at least manage to cry. When you are angry, you yell or be rude to someone. But it’s not that. It is a feeling of nothingness.  It just is. It is the fear of not knowing how you may feel the next moment yet trying hard to control it. It is trying not to break up. As if you are a balloon that can burst any moment.  There are so many triggers. It cannot be explained.

Me: Life is beautiful. Life is full of surprises. I should be positive.

Inner demon: Life is beautiful. Yours is not! You have nothing.

Me: Hey, can’t say nothing! I am doing alright.

Inner demon: It depends what alright means! In your case it means just surviving!

Me: I am very grateful. There are people around me dealing with so much more!

Inner demon: Like who? The ones who are earning more than you? The ones who have a family? The ones who are on vacation in some pretty place enjoying while you sit here writing some bitter piece which no one will even read! Hahha!

Me: We should never compare our life with others’.

Inner demon: Then let’s compare your life now with this time last year! Last Diwali you were so happy. You know why. This year started out well for you too. You had high hopes. You were doing well. But now? Nothing that you had planned for yourself turned out the way you wanted. And I think this is how it will be for you from now on. Worse and worse..

Inner demon was winning. I texted a friend. She is always understanding. She asked me to cheer up. She said I should meet her in the evening. But I knew that was not the solution. I would be okay when I meet her. But once I am back, it would be just me and inner demon.

I was sure I would break down. I was sure I would have an outburst. I felt helpless. Like my thoughts are not in my control. My emotions are not in my control. And ofcourse life is not in my control.

Then something happened. I thought of what I had written a few days back. Don’t underestimate the power of little things in life.  Little moments of joy help in healing. Be greedy and grab them all. When you laugh you laugh. It does not matter if you were sad a moment before.  

I decided to distract myself.

  • Saw a KFC styled chicken recipe on youtube and made it. (It was awesome)
  • Watched a movie on Netflix – The Invisible Guest. It was in Spanish with subtitles. Crisp and gripping thriller.
  • Tried out some tests online for improving my English. Brushed up on some mathematical concepts. Nothing helps heal like learning new things. It makes you humble. There is so much to learn!!
  • My domestic helper wore glasses for the first time today. I was surprised. She claimed that she always had it. She does not bother wearing it because she wants to look pretty. I teased her that no wonder her work is so bad! She cannot see dust and dirt! She laughed too. She made the Rangoli outside the house.
  • I took a picture of the Rangoli and sent it to my sister. Also sent to her a picture of my homemade KFC chicken.
  • Searched Halloween costumes online for my niece. Have shortlisted some. Will talk to her soon.
  • Got a call from an old friend. Shared a lame joke.

None of the above involved doing anything drastic. But I am feeling good. More importantly, feeling in charge of my emotions.  There is no outburst. No breaking down.

I have beaten the inner demon. She may be there. But it is my choice whether I listen to her or not. I am not her slave…

It is indeed a Happy Diwali! It is a victory of me over my inner demons. Wish you all the same!

It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.

– Lord Buddha

Image source

Quotes source

 

 

 

 

The Real Men

Friday night I had gone to a Durga Puja pandal. Yesterday I went for dandiya. Today is a relaxed day at home, so I thought of catching up on the ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ episode that I had missed.

All the guests who are invited to play for the ‘Nayi Chaah Nayi Raah’ segment are fascinating. One guest I remember was from Patna who conducts IIT coaching free of cost for children who cannot afford tuitions.  His mother even cooks for those children. In this one lifetime, some people manage to find something so meaningful and selfless, and then there are others for whom there is no end to greed.

Friday’s guest contestant was Mumbai-based lawyer Afroz Shah, who has been honoured by the United Nations, for his environmental initiative of leading the clean-up of Mumbai’s Versova Beach. The next visuals were of Afroz and his volunteers removing the garbage from the beach with their hands, wearing gloves. On the show, he said that the garbage gets buried under the sand, and it requires a lot of strength for them to pull it out. Would I be able to do that? Who knows what kind of garbage would come out! In a country where people don’t even bother cleaning up after their own garbage, and civic sense is uncommon, this was an unusual sight.

I was especially impressed by this gentleman, and this episode made me very happy. Few things I saw touched me. This is an exceptional human being, and the qualities he exhibited show what being a good man really means. There are some stereotypes of being “masculine” which I feel are absolute rubbish and damaging for men. The false sense of “masculinity” has ruined many lives – including men who are expected to conform to them, and women who have to live with such men:

Men were born to be dirty. Cleaning is a woman’s job!

Here is a man who has been honoured by the United Stations for ……….. Cleaning! Cleanliness and hygiene has nothing to do with genders! It is a personality trait!

Men should not cry!

Another rubbish! Men should not make others cry. Afroz got emotional when his mother spoke about him on the show.

Men should not be emotional!

  • Afroz said that he is very attached to all his volunteers! I thought it was such a sweet thing to say!
  1. Men should not be hugging each other! That’s a girly thing!
  2. When Mr. Bachchan gave Afroz a key to a tractor and an excavator, he was overwhelmed. He asked Mr. Bachchan for a hug! 

Yes, these are the real men. The good men. Who care about the society. Who care about other people. Who are making a difference. They should be the role model for young boys. It is probably too late for old boys to learn but I will take a shot anyway. Being emotionally distant, saying ‘boys will be boys’, and not showing emotions are not “macho” qualities. Being sensitive, kind and expressive is. Integrity and goodness will always be the most endearing virtues in a man!

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Difficult Daughters And Loving Mothers

Some time back, my sister and I were having a discussion on marriage vows.

“For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish”

We said how difficult it is to commit to another human being like this – for better or for worse?  Is it even possible to love another human being so unconditionally? Our parents teach us that it is.

I do not know what makes my mother continue to love me when I get from bad to worse! What I do know is that even at the age of 29 I can throw tantrums because mothers can’t break-up with their children.

Few years back, I was crying about something to my elder sister. She tried to console me with reason. It did not work. She tried to give some positive examples. I got even more angry.  No matter what she said, I continued to be hopeless. Finally, she said that I need to STOP, because it is very upsetting for her and my parents when I cry like this.

“This has happened to me! You won’t understand! Only I can understand! I am the victim here! Not you!” I snapped.

“Nothing can happen to you alone! Whatever happens to you affects the rest of us! And maybe I cannot understand. But you don’t understand either how painful it is to watch someone younger than you, who you love, suffer, and not being able to help them!”

How tough it must be for parents?  I don’t know what it must be like to constantly worry about a grown-up child. To keep telling them that everything will be okay when in your heart you are too scared to imagine that it may not? To feel like it is your primal responsibility to protect them and make them happy, and yet feel powerless because the universe does not care. Or because God does not listen.

How do they deal with it? How does a mother feel when she cannot really make things right for her child? Maybe she can solve the manageable problems first. She can cook her daughter’s favourite dish. Or tidy her wardrobe. She can still do whatever she can in her human capacity to make life easier and better for her child. And the thing with mothers is that they keep doing it. For adult children. Then their children. How exhausting it must be! Both physically and emotionally!

I have blogged about this before:

Just a couple of days back, my mother had packed my tiffin box with fruits and salad. I got busy with work and brought back the food home, untouched. After dinner, my mother started eating the leftovers.

“How come you are eating the pomegranate, I thought you didn’t like it. Never seen you having it.” I asked.

“It’s not that I don’t like it, slicing the vegetables and fruits is a pain. I give it to you and your father, but don’t bother slicing for myself.” she replied.

There are small (big) things that our mothers do for us. Sometimes it may be having the leftover rice for dinner because she is too tired after making rotis for the rest of us. Or maybe buying that ridiculously expensive dress that I was drooling at the mall, and then claiming that it was on a sale.

We notice that they do all of this. We just don’t thank them enough. If we did, how many thank yous would we owe them each day?  And who says I love you and  thank you every day anyway?  

P.S.

Today is my mother’s birthday. She does not check Facebook regularly. On her last to last birthday, I had to tell her that people have wished her on her timeline. She is supposed to reply or at least ‘like’ their post. She had asked me if she has to comment on their timeline or hers. On her last birthday, she had requested me to respond to all her birthday posts because what if she makes typos! I had refused. I told her she should learn. She will comment just fine. And she did. Perfectly! She has not subscribed to my blog because she does not check her emails. I doubt if she will read this post today. But I hope she does! 🙂