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The New Stuff

Santa did actually come to our home this year :)

Santa arrived with quite a clatter
we had to wake to see what was the matter
What a precious gift he left this year
a bundle of joy we love so dear!
Happy to introduce my li'll bundle of joy to all my readers, I've been blessed with a baby boy this year. On this last day of 2011, I'm actually an 11 day old mommy now :), still can't believe it but yes I'm :). 2011 has indeed been the most special year for me & my family, hope 2012 will be as blissful and joyous like last year.
While the li'll one is keeping me on my toes, I just managed to sneak in five minutes to wish all of you a very happy and prosperous new year. Have a great & wonderful year ahead!

Phew, this is all I can manage to post while the new daddy is playing with the baby. Time to get back to my new life now :). Will be back with my new set of experiences as and when I can manage time.

P.S: These are the first pair of shoes of the li'll one gifted by his nani. Gawd, I think I have never been as obsessed with any of my shoes, as much I've been with this li'll pair :). Have kept it on my bedside table like a piece of decoration :P

The Immortals of Meluha: Book Review

Don’t remember when was the last time I got so hooked on to any book that I took all-nighter efforts to finish a fiction series. Shiva Trilogy is indeed one of those which got glued me to it like crazy. And thank God, I did not read these two books separately. I had missed to read the first one when it was released. So, when there was buzz about ‘The Secrets of the Nagas’ getting released, that’s when I actually picked up ‘The Immortals of Meluha’. Otherwise had I read these two titles separately, can’t imagine the restlessness that I had to go through about ‘what happened to Sati’.

Set in 1900 BC, 'The Immortals of Meluha' is the first book of Shiva Trilogy series written by Amish Tripathi. What we modern Indians call the Indus Valley Civilization, the inhabitants of that period called it the land of Meluha a near perfect empire created many centuries earlier by Lord Ram, one of the greatest monarchs that ever lived. This once proud empire and its Suryavanshi rulers face severe perils as its primary river, the revered Saraswati, is slowly drying to extinction. They also face devastating terrorist attacks from the east, the land of the Chandravanshis. To make matters worse, the Chandravanshis appear to have allied with the Nagas, an ostracized and sinister race of deformed humans with astonishing martial skills! Amidst all this chaos, here appears a Tibetian immigrant who as per legends will be their savior, their God – the Neelkanth. But is this immigrant ‘SHIVA’ a normal human being prepared to handle the same? This book is the story of SHIVA, an ordinary man whose karma actually made him MAHADEV – God of Gods.

What I liked about the book:
  • The Presentation. It’s actually a mythological story but presented as fiction with its own share of thriller, romance and action. I mean the way author has presented this story is absolutely commendable!
  • The characterizations – from Shiva to Parvati to Brihaspati everybody has been sketched out in a unique way. Though we are aware of these characters but this book gives lots of interesting information about them that actually personifies them as real flesh and blood human beings.
  • The details, I absolutely loved the knowledge it provides on our old civilizations and ancient India. Not everything is fiction, lots actually hold true as per our history and mythology.
  • The theme, which makes you believe that one can become God only by actions and nothing else. The whole concept of “Har Har Mahadev” which reinforces that there is a God in everyone.
  • Last but the most important one - the plot! It’s racy, engaging, page-turner, fascinating and totally gripping till the end.

What I didn’t like about the book:
  • Actually nothing strongly negative about this book except the language that too only at some places. Maybe at places I found Shiva’s language to be too casual but then you know it might be because of the fact that somewhere in our brain Shiva is ingrained as God, so called Bhagwaan Shivji and that’s why his casual approach in some situations like his initial encounters with Sati might seem bit odd . It’s more to do with perception I think :-)

Overall, a very interesting and must-must-must read book. It’s not in news unnecessarily; it deserves to be a bestseller. I will be back with my views on second book of this series in my next post. Till then, tell me did you read the book and did you like it?

Happy Festivities!

So, hows everyone doing? Hope the festive season is going great and you all had a sparkling Diwali. Diwali was good for me too with beautiful lights, colorful flowers, yum food and sans crackers. Yes, for some strange reason this time I didn't burn even one single cracker. Not that I'm fond of noisy bombs but i always loved those bright fireworks like flowerpots or fire-wheels, though this year I was not attracted to even those. Not sure of the reason - maybe health or maybe mood or maybe the general repulsion towards noise pollution. But like always, I did decorate my home with beautiful diyas and flower arrangements. Decorating my home esp. for festivals is something which I really-really enjoy doing ever since my childhood and after marriage it has an added charm as husband dear eagerly waits for me to dress up our home with my hand made art pieces and as per my design preferences. So, this year it was no different as far as this part is concerned, by evening I was damn tired but loved every bit of adding festive charm to our house. Maybe I will do a photo post on it sometime soon :).

Till my next post, here's wishing you all a very bright & jovial festive season! Celebrate these moments of life and make such occasions special for you and your loved ones. May God bless you all with lotsa happiness, peace and prosperity!

I shall be back soon with reviews of my recent reads. I actually managed to read some really good books recently, so next post has to be on books :).

Devi Ma jaldi se tumhe ek beta de!

Question to all married women (esp. the ones who are yet to enter motherhood): Have you ever been blessed with something like, “may God bless you with a healthy and hearty daughter”. At least I have not been, not even once!

I know we have discussed it enough and many including me have expressed million times our dissatisfaction over this bias that happens in our so-called progressive society till date. In fact I have given up on arguing on this topic of male child obsession, it’s only me and my husband know as to how much delighted we would be if we will have a baby girl whenever we will have our child. And I really-really mean it, nothing can compare to the joy of having a cute and caring daughter. We always say we will be really happy to have a healthy baby but super joyous if it turns out to be a daughter. Then why am I writing on this topic again today? Well, because of these two incidents which happened yesterday:

A lady not too old and from her personality you cant even call her orthodox blessing me like this (verbatim quoted): “Mata Rani jaldi se tumhe ek swastha beta de, bas devi maiya se yahi prarthna hai ek beta aa jaye tumhare god mein”. Hmmm…I just silently smiled. Then her next discussion with my mom was another cherry on top. She explained a whole puja ritual that is done during Navratri festival to have a beta. And how this puja is a sure shot method to be blessed with a son, if you follow all these XYZ instructions Goddess Durga will indeed bless you with a son only! Mom also smiled and replied, “bhagwaan inlogo ko ek sawasth santaan de, phir beta ho ya beti kya fark padta hai”. But that lady kept on & on & on explaining whatever... with a conclusive statement “aap ek baar karke toh dekhiye, dekhiyega jaldi hi beta aayega, beta"! And no that lady was not some old haggard conservative granny, she was a middle aged woman, educated and working as well!

Another person who works at a senior position in a corporate announced his leave citing reasons of his trip to Vaishno Devi temple up north. He is going even in the rush season of Navratri as Goddess has fulfilled his wish. Mr. X just got a son few weeks back and would you believe if I say it’s his third child? Yes, a third child in this generation and no points for guessing that earlier two kids aged 11 & 7 are girls! Though he never mentioned it explicitly but this question was there on almost everybody’s face when he had announced the arrival of his son as to how come a third child in this age esp. when he already has two angel like daughters? Nevertheless, neither it was asked directly and nor it was our business to interfere in his matters. But Mr. X definitely has the nerves to accept that son was his mannat from Devi Mata and he is trekking all the way up as Goddess has fulfilled his wish.

Wow, so you pray to a Devi Mata who is actually a woman to bless you with a male child? You’re asked to keep a fast during Navratri and do numerous rituals to offer your prayers to Mata Rani so that she can bless you with a son? You believe in the Shakti of a Goddess, in the power of a woman to fulfill your any wish, yet when it comes to ask for a child you ask for a son! You have faith in a woman but ask her only for a male heirInteresting & ironical isn’t it :-) ?

All you educated and supposedly broad-minded people from my society – I know seeking a blessing to have a daughter is unfathomable and asking like too much. But least you can do is bless a lady to have a healthy child. If you can’t utter the words "Devi Ma tumhe ek sunder si beti de", then you don’t even have to say to have a beta… “swastha santaan” or a “healthy child” makes much more sense. Accept the child as the best gift that you can get and let the decision of giving you a beta or beti be better left to Almighty!

Common yet rare!

Yesterday evening had a chance to return early from work and that too during daylight. While nearing the lift I noticed lots of happy kids playing and running around. Well, to be honest I had no idea that there are so many kids in my apartment and even kids of today’s generation go out and play games like hide & seek in playgrounds! From their chirpiness and conversations it looked like they were playing hide & seek itself with few of them hidden in the basement car parking area. When I reached my floor, just outside the lift saw these two young girls of neighborhood family clapping hands and playing Miss Mary, Mac, Mac, Mac (something on the lines of the hindi one “aam churi, chappan churi”… remember :-) ?). That game and the way they were playing immediately brought a smile on my face :-). Oh, so kids do play such games till now, though with bit variation but the core fun aspect looked the same.

As soon as I entered my home, something made me decide to go for a walk in the evening itself. I generally go down for my walk at night once I’m back from office or maybe after dinner. Since I go out in dark, mostly I end up walking in the pavement area circling my apartment where there is ample lighting instead of walking in the green area where there is only dim lighting. And once I went down in the daylight, I was surprised to see the place abuzz with so much of activity there. Garden was indeed very beautiful with lush green grass, swings for kids, beautiful seating arrangements within patches of greens and a lovely fountain. Yes, I had heard many times from my neighbor that the garden in our apartment is quite nice and fresh but only that day I realized how lovely it was. Also made me think that I had never come down to this area in the evenings, in fact the only time I remember checking this place was when we were moving in and had gone down to check out the facilities. Those days, that area was under construction and hence not so well maintained. I do go down to the common facility areas on weekends but mostly it’s to use the swimming pool or occasionally the gym but never ever to this beautiful place full of natural beauty, fresh air and bloom all around. And I have been staying in this apartment for like 2.5 years now!!!

Spotted this empty bench and decided to sit on it for a while before starting the walk and the whole surrounding made me so nostalgic. There were women gossiping, kids playing, old aunties sitting on grass in circles and old uncles discussing something while taking their walks; reminded me of park evenings which we used to have during our childhood days. It was actually quite lively and nice, lost in my thoughts with my ipod plugged in my ears I never realized when more than an hour slipped by. Even music seemed to be more melodious with serenity and greenery all around. Only when the phone buzzed, I actually noticed the time and realized that it’s already dark now. And guess what, I was so lost in my thoughts and engrossed in silently observing people that not even once I felt the need to update my Facebook or Twitter stream in that one hour. If it would have been just another free moment at my home or those waiting hours while on commute, I’m sure I would have been glued on to any digital screen refreshing my timeline or reading something interesting on internet.

Relaxed and refreshed, while I pressed the lift button to go back I only wondered why I didn’t come there earlier? Why we generally tend to ignore such common activities, which actually can give us some very special moments? Some pleasures are just so near to us but we are too busy to even notice it. Some things are just so simple, yet they give you such unique satisfaction. Reminds me of this quote by Paulo Coelho which I had liked so much while reading The Alchemist – “It's the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary”.

Note to self: I must go back to this place and spend some “me time” whenever I can, after all I used to enjoy doing this so much during my school and college days :-)...oh those lovely evenings in hostel when I used to spend hours reading my favorite books on garden benches...

Happiness: Absolute or Relative Quotient?

Oh yes, I'm alive people :) and was once again absconding from this space for weeks :(... Many a reasons for the same but well I will leave that for a separate post.
As of now, I'm in quite a weird mood or shall I say pissed off with some generalist attitudes. The recent one being, hearing of negative sighs with a standard statement - "Arey yaar teri kismat badi achchi hai"!

Don't know if it’s the frequency of this statement in recent times or the negativity which it exudes even from so called close people which irritates me more but whatever it is, these days this sentence really gets on to my nerves! You meet someone, he/she asks you how life is going on, gives some happening updates of his or her life, insists again and again on knowing what’s up with you and then when you reply about the updates or latest developments in your life, you get to hear - "arey wah, great to know about these. Waise kuch bhi bol yaar, teri kismat bahut achchi hai. Tujhe yeh bhi mil jata hai aur woh bhi, teri hi life sahi hai". Well, normally such sentences do not bother me but then there are times when it does. Especially when you know the effort which you had put in or the difficulties you had to face to get those things and all you can see is the gloomy expression or the negative heave of sigh which the person leaves for you!

Well, not everything can be all about kismat or luck in life. And even if it is, then why this sigh for others? I mean you also have a happy life going on then why not be happy for others too? Why it diminishes when you hear about some positive updates in others lives? Will your life be happier if you focus on what you have or will it be happier when you come to know what others don't have? Why the evaluation of your life always has to be in comparison to someone else?

Now coming down to luck, I have no idea if any such thing exists in life. At least those who know me closely esp. since childhood know the kind of struggle which I have gone through in my life. Again I am not saying that I have had one of the most difficult lives ever but yes, I know that nothing has ever come to me easily and simply out of luck. Life has never ever been easy for me; I had my own share of unimaginable losses and unexpected mayhem. Those who know me very personally can actually vouch for that. But then I also know that if I have really-really tried for something in life I have got it; maybe not everything what I wanted and not at the time when I wanted but sooner or later and in some or other form it has come to me. I also know that rarely have I felt negative in life due to happiness or success or growth of others. This does not mean I did not have my own moments of frustration or depression, I'm no saint or some ultra optimistic person but such phases have been mainly due to my own problems and not because of happiness of others. I at times wonder why I do not bother much about others; maybe the struggle of my own life keeps me busy enough to not focus on others. I’m too engrossed solving my own problems and thinking of bettering my own life instead of missing on what others have with them.

A person like me does not always like to share the problems or turbulences of my life very openly. This does not mean I’m one of the super happy persons or everything comes absolutely easily to me. Also when life is so busy for all of us, then when we meet I prefer to discuss the stuffs which can give us lighter moments in our already stressed lives. So, without knowing the complete picture or the immense endeavor which one has put in getting something in life, just do not come to conclusion as to how others’ lives are always so perfect and how yours is so miserable!

Can’t you evaluate your happiness in absolute quotient based on your own life instead of evaluating it as a relative quotient by comparing to others? I know it sounds like some theoretical gyaan or boring updesh but try avoiding this relative measurement or comparative analysis once and see the difference in your satisfaction level… I really mean it! And next time think before heaving that negative sigh for others.

Book Review: "Life is what you make it" by Preeti Shenoy

Life is what you make it – Well, to start with this is really one of those books which makes you restless if you don’t finish it in continuation! I started reading this book last weekend but then due to lots of other commitments both at office and home front, I could not get time to pick it back. And trust me, every night when I missed to read the book I kept on thinking about Ankita and what exactly would have happened to her perfect life which ended her being into a mental hospital? Initial few pages portrayed her life going on a smooth path – a nice student life in one of the most reputed colleges and a nice personal life with all the love from her boyfriend… Then how come she is meeting this psychiatrist described at the start of the story? Thank God, I finally got the chance to pick it up this Saturday and all the curiosity ensured that I didn’t keep the book down without finishing it completely.

As I do with my reviews, I don’t prefer to reveal much of the story or scenes from any book / movie in the interest who are yet to read / watch it. So, here goes just the brief summary of what this book is all about – It’s is the story of a young gal Ankita Sharma who is confident, smart, ambitious and is moving ahead in her life in the desired direction. The book starts with her first exposure to college life, her long distance love relationship, her changing personality in an all girls’ college, her encounter with new friends and relationship swings like most of the girls of her age. Life is going good till she realizes that God has made some other plans for her. Ankita’s life turns topsy-turvy when she is diagnosed with a mental illness. The second half of the book very sensitively deals with her anger, fear, pain and her struggle to overcome the odds of her life. What seems to be an easy, breezy read in the beginning actually turns out to be an intense and captivating story by the end.

Personally speaking, I really loved the book and it fared far better than I expected it to be. Reason for expecting it to be a general read was mainly the sentence on the cover of the book – "A story of love, hope and how determination can overcome destiny". I assumed it to be like most of these urban English fiction these days i.e., simple love story with general highs and lows of life. But this book is much more than just another love story. More than anything else, I liked the narration of this story. Be it the joy or fun of Ankita or her strife to regain her life, almost every aspect has been presented in a simple yet gripping way. There were moments when I got so engrossed with Ankita’s pain that I actually ended up googling “bipolar disorder” in order to understand this disease better. From words to the plot, everything held my attention from start to end. As per author’s one the tweets, this book has been declared as national bestseller now. Well, it definitely deserves to be one! Overall, a very interesting read and a book which I surely recommend.

Book Details:
Title: Life is what you make it
Price: Rs. 100 (Available at discounted rates online – Flipkart, Infibeam)
Number of Pages: 209
Author: Preeti Shenoy
Like the book at: Facebook

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books! Thank you BlogAdda for sending me this book for review.

Woh bachpan ki dosti...

WTH, again I’m absconding from my blog despite the fact that I have so many things to share. Damn the work and health and hundreds of other engagements which are keeping me away from things which I love to do the most :(. Nevertheless today I’m back as too excited with a recent incident and I think I must pen it down :).

I got a call from my office receptionist that a woman named S called and has left her number for me. The name immediately rang a bell but then I reminded myself that it can’t be “that” S which I was thinking about. After all it’s been decades that we lost touch with each other. Maybe she is some client or other business associate with a similar name. So, with this in mind I dialed up the number keeping my tone the formal business like but wow, whoa, whatey surprise it was! I just could not believe it was same S… same old kindergarten school friend! Yes, it was her only. We cross checked and re-verified with few questions about our school days and lo behold it was confirmed! Now the most important question, how did she manage to find me and that too on my office landline number? And when I heard of her efforts, I was totally dumbstruck. I mean I bow down to her efforts of finding such a long lost childhood friend. So, this is what she had to say:

Whenever she thought of the word friend, she remembered me. Though our lives moved on after our primary schools, we moved to different schools and then different cities but she kept on looking for me. As was the case in those non-internet & non-mobile phones era, there was no simpler way to find out the whereabouts of each other. Though we used to hear about each other through friends and occasionally communicated through postal letters too but then even that got lost esp. because of me moving to different cities for further education and then later job. She got married and is now settled in Delhi in her family life. Slowly she began using internet and she said the first name which she searched on Google or Facebook was mine. She found me on FB, but couldn’t send me message due to some privacy settings. Later landed on my publicly available email id through my blog, sent there a mail which I never got as it went in spam. Googled more and found my professional whereabouts, landed on my company website, found the corporate landline number of my company and dialed there asking for me and yes she got me!”

She was indeed a very-very close friend of mine, in fact best friend of those chaddi-buddy days :) spent in that small town which perhaps is one of the remotest corners of the country but is one of the most special places for me mainly because of the lovely people & beautiful childhood memories associated with them. Though with time things changed and I moved cities, developed my own circle in newer schools-colleges and newer cities. And then life changed forever when I started working in metros, got married and like many other of my generation started juggling between professional and personal life.

I will be honest that I remembered her always but yes never ever took the kind of effort which she took to find me. I can’t tell you how special it feels when you realize that even in this jet age where relationship changes within minutes, someone out there still remembers you and has been trying to look for you for years and years. I could not thank her enough for connecting back to me and told her that I will call her back as soon as I reach home. Next moment I shared this news with two people - my husband & my closest friend. Husband being a man was amused on how gals can remember things for so long and closest friend being a girl could totally relate to my excitement of finding another long lost childhood friend.

Same night I called her back and chatted for hours, it never seemed like as if we were talking to each other after so many years, rather a decade or two :). Conversation was flowing naturally from one topic to another, from remembering our very early school days to the days after our paths separated. Husband was lying next to me listening to my conversation. As soon as I kept the phone he asked “is it the same friend whom you found today morning, you spoke to this bachpan ki friend after years and still managed to talk for so long, never looked like you both were out of touch; my god only girls can do this”. I replied with a smile and said, “its not girls rather its childhood friends who can do this; no matter where you left you can always restart it at any point of time, such is the innocence and honesty of a childhood relationship”.

Ain’t it true???

Summer Camps: From need to opportunity

Just how big is the summer camp market in India now? I think it won’t be an exaggeration to call it a small to mid-sized industry now. I mean wherever you go, there is a summer camp going on. The pool of my society has been royally hijacked by swimming summer camp sessions, the club house by music, dance or arts teachers and this poor kid of my neighborhood household is always busy in some or other extra-curricular activities as part of her summer camp training. To add to that, there are at least 3-4 pamphlets in my morning newspaper everyday advertising of summer camp classes in all possible nook & corner of my locality. And about the variety of courses being offered in these summer camps – the less I speak the better. From adventure to creativity to confidence, these summer camps claim to groom your kid for anything and everything in this world!

Nothing wrong in kids being engaged in meaningful activities and getting chance to learn new things. In fact earlier I used to be quite fascinated with the concept of these summer camps in metros. Always thought this kind of exposure to be a wonderful thing for overall personality development of kids. But with passing years and the increasing number of camps every day, I think I have my doubts now on the efficacy and quality of most of these programs.

Firstly I see it being totally commercialized now; like many other educational offerings in India even this has become business for many. If I look at the quality of swimming lessons being offered in my society, I can very confidently say that the teacher is just another freestyle swimmer who never learnt the strokes in a professional way. Yes, he knows how to manage himself in water and is making quite many bucks by teaching just that. This neighborhood arts teacher who teaches painting is yet another novice who knows basics of strokes; good that you’ve penchant for painting and know bit of color management but no you’re not ready yet to make it your profession, that too of teaching to others!

Secondly, if I think it from kids’ perspective, exactly how many hobbies a kid is supposed to develop these days? I can at least speak it few kids around me, same li’ll girl goes to swimming, singing, piano, painting, pottery & then finally in evening for football camp with weekends reserved for Bollywood dance classes. Phew, even counting these many items has made me tired, I have no idea how she or many like hers manage to cope up with all these in one summer vacation? Weren’t summer vacations meant to be like holidays with bit of studies and more of fun? Spending holidays by doing constructive things is an excellent idea but then can a kid have knack for so many varied things at the same time? If the kid is interested in doing these things, then perfectly fine but is it ok to make the kids hop from one camp to another just to keep them engaged? I at times wonder is it kids’ interests or peer pressure on parents or their own busy schedule which makes them get their kids enrolled in so many activities at the same time.

I’m not a parent yet, so I might not be right in understanding the kids’ psychology or personality development part of it, but from commercial angle I do think that this whole summer camp is a full-fledged business opportunity now. There is a strong demand in the market and hence the supply in great abundance; now it does not matter whether the supply is of quality services or not as currently, all the target audience knows is that they need this service anyhow! Is this segment also going the route of parallel education which is already a Rs. 10,000 crore plus industry in India? Remember those millions and zillions of IIT, Medical & CAT coaching centers present at almost every sq ft in certain parts of the country.....

Yeh Baangur Jaisi Duniya Re

Yeh Baangur Jaisi Duniya Re Duniya, Yeh Phaase Udti Muniya Re Muniya…. Have you heard this song yet? If not, it’s a must for those who have the taste for likes of “Bawra Man Dekhne Chala Ek Sapna” or “Goonja sa hai ek iktara iktara”. I mean this new song from the movie “I AM” is just so awesome. More than the track, I’m in love with the words here; beautiful lyrics I must say and Kavita Seth is as magican as in Iktara song from Wake Up Sid. I always get hooked on to the songs that have great words as compared to great music. Not that the music is not important but words matter a lot when it comes to classifying any song as one of my favorite ones. Baangur definitely gets added to that list; just read the lyrics below, ain’t it just so soulful?

Yeh Baangur Jaisi Duniya Re Duniya Re Duniya
Yeh Phaase Urrti Muniya Re Muniya Re Muniya
Jo Choone Chali Khula Aasmaan
Kahin Bujh Na Jaey Na Jaey Na Jaey Bechaari Daastaan
Jo Choone Chali Khula Aasmaan
Kahin Bujh Na Jaey Na Jaey Na Jaey Bechaari Daastaan
Maula Re Saaiyaan, Sun Le Duhaaiyaan
Sun Le Duhaaiyaan

Phirti Thi Hawaaon Mein, Par Lagte Thay Paaon Mein
Zindagi Band Pinjron Mein Kiyun Aaj Rehti Hai
Neendon Ke Sandooqon Mein Kabhi Sone Ke Sapne Thay
Aaj Peetal Ke Tukrron Ko Mohtaaj Rehti Hai

Yeh Baangur Jaisi Duniya Re Duniya Re Duniya
Yeh Phaase Urrti Muniya Re Muniya Re Muniya
Jo Choone Chali Khula Aasmaan
Kahin Bujh Na Jaey Na Jaey Na Jaey Bechaari Daastaan
Jo Choone Chali Khula Aasmaan
Kahin Bujh Na Jaey Na Jaey Na Jaey Bechaari Daastaan
Maula Re Saaiyaan, Sun Le Dohaaiyaan
Sun Le Duhaaiyaan

Maybe it’s the mood or the last few days which have been horrible, hectic & harrowing that I’m just so addicted to this song. Have been playing it in loop ever since heard it few days back. Isn’t it true that for each bird who tries to fly there are many, waiting down to catch her or pull her down?

Chan ke aayi toh kya chandni toh mili...

Whether I’m hitting the gym regularly or not but life definitely seems to be running on a treadmill these days and that too at a speed no less than 10 mph! Huffing and puffing I try to catch up with the pace, but the damn treadmill shifts its mode often making me juggle between one mode to another so frequently. Last few weeks have been quite eventful in many senses, while health wise I’m not at all keeping well, yet had some delightful moments with family and friends. Holi was fun with both sides of families and so was the trip to Ooty & Conoor with in-laws kin. Work is hectic as usual but then I’m loving what I’m getting to do as of now. Moments of disappointments and frustrations continue but life has also offered some newer moments of happiness and joy… and as always I was so engrossed in dealing with mayhems that totally forgot to rejoice over few moments of happiness and glee. In fact one of them was long due, something which I so badly wanted at one point of time but then due to other priorities, the focus got lost on the way. And there was no option to re-look or adjust my priorities at that time, so I decided to let it go. But silently it comes one day when I was least expecting it...made me happy and my near ones very-very happy. Though the happiness was not same for me as it would have been at that time when I wanted to get it. Why? It isn’t that the importance of ‘that moment’ has been reduced, neither has its significance to me or others in my life. I think it’s just that most of the times we are busy on focusing at other moments and ignore the positive ones which come silently & stand at our doors. Or maybe the world has become so loud and noisy these days with enough of announcements projected as big that at times you fail to listen to your own ones and forget to acknowledge or appreciate even the ones which might be genuinely big to you.

Was speaking to an old uncle who is sort of close to me, is highly learned and has a very matured outlook towards life. He asked me on why didn’t I update him earlier about some of the positive happenings in life and I replied – “just generally, ab ismein kya batana”. And here is what he had to say - No moment of happiness is a small moment. When you can grieve for bigger losses in life, learn to acknowledge and celebrate your own bigger moments of happiness as well. Enjoy what you have right now as nobody more than you now knows that what is there today may not be there tomorrow.

Not that he said anything new or not known to me, but at times you need an external force to remind you of such things at the right time. And I get reminded of one of my favorite songs yet again :) –
छन के आयी तो क्या चांदनी तो मिली,
चंद दिन ही सही ये कली तो खिली,
शुक्रिया ज़िन्दगी, शुक्रिया ज़िन्दगी
तेरी मेहेरबानियाँ, तेरी मेहेरबानियाँ

I just LOVE this song and oh yes, thank you life for some nice moments too :)

“Ssshhhh”…The most common way of dealing with CSA in India!

She spoke to her mom first but mom being in need of money from that household just told the 8 year old Rajni to stay away from Sir. She replied, “but Maa I never go to him, he himself calls me in his room to do some or other work and starts doing ……”. “Rubbish”, interrupted the mother immediately, “it’s in hands of the girl to save her own image and dignity”. “What dignity maa?” “Nothing, just don’t go to his room and don’t speak to Madam about it, we will do our work here and go home. Don’t mention this to anyone else as well, otherwise people will think that I’m using you to make more money and will create bad name for us.” What dignity & what name…Rajni was confused, for her 8 year old mind was just not equipped enough to understand these things. All she knew was that if she will tell it to someone else, her mother’s name would be spoilt and so she has to remain silent.

This went on for months, sometimes she was successful in avoiding him whereas at others she was not. He would fondle her, play with her, molest her and threaten her to not tell these things to his wife or her mother. At times threatening went on to physically abusing her too but in a 'different' way! Rajni was scared to come to that house but did not want to stay at her own home also as if not Sir there was her drunkard father ready to beat and abuse her for whatever reason possible. One day Sir crossed his limits when his wife was not around and her mother was in backyard doing some work. Rajni came out running in tears with no clothes on. When her mother came, he started shouting on her – “What kind of daughter you have, she came to my room, asked me to apply ointment on her wound at back and when I did so, she started crying and ran away. Why do you bring her…?” His voice trailed off when he saw his wife standing in front of him. Madam went on to Rajni and asked her politely on how did she get that wound? Rajni stood still with just silent tears. She gave a disgusted look to her husband and asked again stroking her hair, Rajni just turned to look at her mother who immediately replied, “Madam she is a kid, must have fallen somewhere while playing”. “Radha, by hiding the truth you are not only doing wrong for your daughter’s present but future as well. Firstly you are teaching her to tell lies and secondly you are making her weak by not fighting for her. She will meet all kinds of men in future, where all and till when do you expect her to be silent and feel guilty about being a girl”. A storm followed in that household after that, but Rajni definitely got to understand one thing – it’s not her fault if any man misbehaves with her and it is not right to tolerate such behavior from men. While it’s in her hand to save her dignity but if someone plays with it, she has full right to voice it out and fight for herself.

Rajni is an independent working woman today with a confident personality and a rational mind. Thank God, she had a madam in her life else she would have also been the part of majority who never know when and how to raise their voice and become victims of extremes. From 4 year old girl being gang raped by group of men to 12 year old girl being raped by her own father, there are enough such ghastly examples around us which just leaves you wondering on the extremities of human behavior! Can this really happen to those innocent souls?

Sssshhhh,Hussshh” or “Kisi se yeh batane ki zaroorat nahi” are some of the most common ways in which Child Sexual Abuse has traditionally been dealt with in India. Not only India is a country with one of the highest child abuse cases, rather 53% of children in India have faced some or other form of sexual abuse in their lives! The impact and after effects are many – from insecurity to depression, from being conscious towards your own body to hating the natural growth, from being weak to being scared, from physical woes to psychological traumas…and if not discussed or addressed properly at the right time, such abuse can actually leave a life time scar on the victim’s mind. So, do not try to keep it under wraps just because you are scared of confronting the abuser, make your kids and other kids around you aware of right & wrong and empower them to express their feelings freely to you. Educate them to deal with it and support them to overcome it.

In case you’re looking for more info on Child Sexual Abuse or steps and support to deal with it, do check out this blog by CSA Team. This is one place where you can get almost all possible information related to this issue; you can also connect with the team on Twitter or join their movement on Facebook.

Child Sexual Awareness Abuse Month - April 2011

April 2011 has been declared as Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month, it's a social initiative being taken by few blogger & twitter friends. Child Sexual Abuse is yet another social issue in India which has been increasing at an alarming rate and the incidences which we get to hear are nasty and hideous in unimaginable ways yet its not discussed openly by many. Through this initiative the CSA team wants to bring the issue to the fore, generate discussions and increase awareness towards this topic.

This Blog-A-Thon begins on 1st April 2011 and if you want to be a part of this, you can mail them at

More details about this initiative is available at their blog and in case you want to be updated with their initiatives you can follow them on Twitter or join their Facebook page.

I'm in, how about you?

Happy Holi!

HOLI is here! Good thing this time is that my both sides of family are in Bangalore. So, Holi is going to be fun this year…. I don’t remember when was the last time we had a holi happily together. I’m looking forward to the festivity with family & friends. Not to forget the privilege of enjoying cross cultural Holi special delicacies being cooked by my Mom & MIL :). Bad part is that Holi is on a Sunday & we missed one holiday, else we would have got one more holiday for “holi”day. And sad part is that with any festival around, we miss Kishu and Amitesh Bhaiya more and more and more … any enjoyment or celebration can never be complete without them. Never, Ever! But we will celebrate the festival this time – from inlaws side, this will be first holi for my sister-in-law at our place after her marriage and from my side this will be my first holi with my mom after my marriage :). So, HAPPY HOLI to my family, friends, blog readers & my well-wishers.

Wish you a very colorful & vibrant holi. May god gift you all the colors in life - colors of joy, colors of happiness, colors of friendship, colors of love, colors of success and all other colors which you want to paint your life with.
Play safe & have fun!

Of Relationships - Part 1

This is not the first rather third incidence, which I would have heard in last one month. Yet another close couple separating their ways and yet again in a very ugly way! Friends’ going through divorce has become a common norm these days, earlier we used to get surprised a lot but now it has sort of become acceptable to us. In some cases its better that they separated their ways and in others we kept on wondering why did they do so, wasn’t it too small a reason to end their relationship? But as we know, to each its own and we can’t be judgmental about any relationship esp. of a very personal relationship like husband and wife. But you know in some cases, it does feel bad when you see them going through emotional trauma of separation for weeks and months together. Some are smart but not all are yet adapted to this “move on” philosophy in life and they go through hell lot of turbulence inside to accept this “moving on” funda.

Now the reason to write this post is a different observation in all these three divorces – in all three cases its the women who have walked out of their relationship. Nothing wrong in that and being a liberal woman myself I am of very strong opinion that in today’s age women are not bound to accept the male dominance in any relationship. If it’s not working out for them, they have equal rights to seek liberty from a bad relationship as against continuing to be the bearer of miseries forever. But then, being married for sometime now, I also believe that marriages can’t run on ego, one needs to adjust and adapt to the relationship and continuously work on it to keep it lively and enjoyable. Then, why am I surprised to see these women walking out of their relationships? Well, let me describe one case here and then would love to hear your opinion on this.

So, this couple had gone for a love marriage, knew each other for at least 4 years before they got married. They stay in a nuclear family; husband’s mom (father not there) stays in her hometown but occasionally comes to visit them once or twice a year. He is the only child and lost his father at very young age, mom brought him single-handedly and ensured to give him good education and career. Girl knew all this earlier as well though somehow she could never adjust to her mother in law even if her visits used to be for hardly a month in a year. The conflict has mainly been between the lifestyle differences plus the girl being a metro bred one was never ok with her old MIL staying with them. She never had seen any of her grand parents staying with them in their household and was not willing to put up with additional responsibilities in her life. We always felt that the girl was too rude, too arrogant and too independent for a married life with a middle class family oriented man, but then you know we are no one to make any such judgments on their relationships. Though as neighbors we always knew that there used to be chaos and this girl used to shout at top of his voice on her MIL, at times we used to wonder how can someone shout like that on her husband’s mom but then…

This girl is a popular social media figure, has enough of Facebook fans, Twitter following and blog readers in front of whom she has created a perfect image. And why not, after all it’s so easy to project this “perfect” image in virtual world, to add to that she is quite chatty and good at networking. She has so called friends who are mainly her friends from virtual world and who think that this girl is just too happening and cool! We’re sure half of her these virtual friends have not met her even once, though as it goes in social media these days – ‘you follow me, I follow you’; ‘I crib and you give me twugs, you crib and I give you awww baby hugs’; ‘you like my comments and I like yours’. Same was the case with her, this girl will crib and criticize about her MIL and how miserable her married life is, that she is going through domestic violence and she has enough such virtual friends and pseudo counselors who will come and tell her things like “awwww baby, you must not tolerate this shit and don’t worry we are with you”! I have no idea how are they going to be with her when she has now decided to walk out of her relationship only because her husband has not agreed to her terms of cutting off all his terms with his mother. We were there when that last fight was going on, the girl stormed out of her house and said, “you wanna see what can I do to you if you will not agree to me”, she hurt her hand badly by banging it on the gate and then ran outside, went to the nearest police station and complained with teary eyes that she has been beaten by her husband! The guy was in lock up whole night…anyways they are now on a path to separation and which is happening in a very ugly way. Girl has put enough blame on him and has always threatened him to spoil his image badly. But obviously she had some husband’s friends also in her Facebook friend’s list and every time she puts one such comments about her bad MIL or sad married life, husband had to face enough embarrassment. Though husband’s friends know him and his personality but then this virtual gang of hers is too large in a number. Few real ones tried to comment on her blog posts about some bit of realities as against the perception which she has built but now she has made her blog private.

We have no idea what she is up to, why she went ahead and got her 4 month pregnancy aborted just because she does not want to have any “liability” from her relationship with her current husband and how can people console her without knowing the reality by saying stuffs like “ohhhh poor gal, don’t worry everything will be fine and don’t take any shit from that man, we are there with you”.

Hmmmm…. having spent some good amount of time with them we do feel sad for them and more for her… we think she is living in a mirage and her virtual existence has dominated her real one totally. She thinks she is sort of a celebrity and she has enough help available for her esp. with so many people justifying her stance. But wonder how many of them are for real and will they have same opinion when they will come to know of some realities of their life? Will they really come to help her or share her loneliness in real life?

Do you also think that these days virtual personalities are dominating the real ones for some people? Do you think that virtual successes of some people actually get on to their heads? Do you think that its good to be judgmental and offer blind support to someone esp. in as serious matters as relationships and separation just because you don’t want to lose that follower of yours on twitter or regular commentator on your blog?

This is just one incidence, I will come back with few more such real life cases as I do see it happening around me and at an increasing rate now.


And finally I have finished reading “Love Marriage” by V.V. Ganeshananthan and this will be my first read for 2011 South Asian Reading Challenge for which I signed up last Dec. This book took me unexpectedly long to complete. Blame it on my ill health these days, other engagements as well as the fact that it is not as easy read as I had thought it to be. Maybe the perception of title which somehow made me think that it’s going to be a simple and quick read which it definitely is not. In fact the book needed a lot more concentration and undivided attention as it revolved around many characters and zoomed in different time spans. To simply put, if “Persepolis” was all about childhood of Satrapi in Iran during the turbulent years of Iranian Revolution, “Love Marriage” was all about growing years of Yalini in US during turbulent years in Sri Lanka.

Yalini is an American-born daughter of Sri Lankan immigrants Murali and Vani, she is always confused about her identity which splits between her modern lifestyle of America and her traditional Tamil ancestry from Sri Lanka. Yalini is born in July 1983, a very dark month for Sri Lankan Tamils as it was in this phase when many Tamils were killed in riots and those who survived, scattered across the globe to save their existence. Her parents had left Sri Lanka earlier considering the difficult and violent times ahead but Yalini’s maternal uncle Kumaran decided to join the group of rebels and became a Tamil Tiger. He had this motive to fight for the cause of Tamils in Sri Lanka, though at a later stage of life he had to leave due to his incurable Cancer. Yalini’s life takes a dramatic turn when she meets her uncle Kumaran who despite his grievances against Murali & Vani’s love marriage decides to spend last few days of his life with his loving sister Vani. Yalini goes through a difficult emotional struggle trying to understand her uncle’s perspective, her family background, her cousin Janani, her traditions and many other such interesting pieces which finally get woven into a very strong and poignant story.

As I always do with my reviews, I’m not revealing the complete plot of the book as it’s for the readers to read and savor those details. “Love Marriage” is touching, well written and insightful, though I must admit that it gets confusing also at certain places. With 293 pages divided between so many characters, their individual stories and the frequent oscillation between past & present leave you perplexed at times. There have been moments when I had to go back to the first page to understand the family hierarchy in order to relate to that character properly.

I think, it’s definitely a good read but do not confuse it for a romantic book due to its title, the book is more of realities of life, social and political issues facing Tamils in Sri Lanka than a typical fable of love and marriages.

About the Author: “Love Marriage” is a debut novel of V.V. Ganeshananthan. She is a fiction writer and journalist, is a graduate of Harvard College, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and the M.A. program at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where she was a Bollinger Fellow specializing in arts and culture journalism. You can read more about the author here.

Other Details of the Book:
Pages: 320
Published in: April 2008
Price: Rs. 350, though I bought it for Rs. 291 from Flipkart.

Wordless Wednesday: Flowers in love

This particular rose plant in my balcony definitely seems to be quite romantic at heart. Whenever there has been a bloom in this plant, it has always been in pair. Don't these flowers look like as if they are in love :) ?

Yet another 5th Feb!

Yet another 5th Feb, yet another reminder of 5th Feb 2009. 2 years…730 days without Kishu! Life goes on but can never be same, yes it does move on but with a brutal pain. Today also when I look at his photo it feels like he will speak any moment and laugh his loud laugh again…but alas certain wishes just remain wishes forever and certain realities are too illusive to accept. Earlier it was painful to remember him but now I do it purposefully as memories of Kishu are the only things left with us and I just don't want to fade it ever. Wherever he is, I just hope he is fine and happy in a new life… can’t even say we miss him as till now we have not forgotten him even for a moment to miss him...

Dhobi Ghat: A pleasure to watch

I actually quite liked Dhobi Ghat, I really did. When I voiced this out on Facebook, there were few who expressed their opinions reverse to mine with questions on how could I like “such” a confused and boring movie? Well, to each his own…not even for a second I found the movie to be boring and there was no question of confusion at all. In fact the sequencing was seamlessly interwoven to give a complete picture in the end. If anything, this not so obvious narrative actually kept me glued on to screen from start to end. Here are 5 reasons why you must watch Dhobi Ghat:
  • It’s different, it actually is. Don’t remember any other Hindi movie being made this way.
  • The story is interesting, keeps your attention focused on the screen from start to end.
  • Prateik Babbar! Yes, he (character Munna) is definitely one of the reasons for me to like this movie; this actor has finally arrived. Apart from Prateik, definite mentions of debutantes Monica Dogra (Shai) & Ruchika Malhotra (Yasmin), they were awesome too. Difficult to decide who did better between the two, both lived their roles perfectly.
  • The direction, I loved it. The way this movie interlinks different stories and different characters is just so fascinating.
  • I remember reading a tweet from Rahul Bose which said something like “Dhobi Ghat is one Indian movie which qualifies as world movie”. I so agree to him, it indeed is a world cinema material.
Some flip side of the movie – it is slow and at times dragging too, does not have any bollywood commercialism in form of songs or dance sequences, can get boring for those who do not like slow movies. Heavy at times but has it’s light moments too with a very different treatment. While few from audience actually left the movie half way by criticizing it, there were other few who actually gave standing ovation to it once the movie ended! Overall, for me it’s a movie with artistic values and definitely worth watching.

Did watch many other movies recently – Anjaana Anjaani (thank god, I did not waste my money on it in theater), No One Killed Jessica (really liked it) & Black Swan (loved, loved, loved it, this movie definitely deserves a separate post).

Did you watch Dhobi Ghat? Did you like it?

Life: They Say...Then Why!

Well, this post is bit cynical. I know it exudes negativity but still can't help it...I think I'm going through one such phase of life where God has decided to challenge my own convictions and shake my strongest beliefs. When I thought the worst which could happen to us was Kishu's death, God decided to prove me wrong. Well, there are things which can be worse than his death and can very much happen in my life anyday, anytime! When I thought things are at its toughest and soon I will get to see the brighter side, God decided to put me to trials tougher than toughest, to situations which I never even imagined I could bear...and it’s not that I’m not trying to face the problems or not fighting against it, have always done so ever since my childhood and still doing it but then I think almost everybody reaches a point where you just want to know two things – “what else” & “till when”! I also know there are many who might have been facing worse than me and there are many who can still manage to maintain their calm but for me I’m at a stage where no positive word or theoretical gyaan can actually soothe me anymore. If anything, these so called inspirational words just make me feel worse…wrote the following words few days back in one of my scornful moods after being bugged up by three consecutive calls from relatives who just do not know anything apart from imparting hypothetical gyaan on how only I’m responsible for the direction in which my life will move ahead! Revisited it again today after yet another similar call. Well giving gyaan is one thing and going through these tribulations is just another…only those who experience the situation know how difficult at times it gets to maintain your calm and sanity in front of others despite the storm and calamity which you have been going through internally…

Life: They Say...Then Why!

They say,
That every dark cloud has a silver lining,
Then why this one is eternally darkening?

That there is a light at the end of every tunnel,
But what if the journey within is just too agonal!

That the toughest and strongest often lead the league,
But can’t the strongest have their moments of fatigue?

That in all things it is better to hope than to despair,
What if the hope is smashed and shattered beyond repair?

That think positive and everything will be fine,
Tried it; many a times but life is just on a continual decline!
- Kanupriya

This does not mean that I have lost my faith completely, neither do I believe that things will never be fine for me…It’s just that I think it’s better to lie low and let the tide flow when tide is totally against you and refusing to get slow. Trying to swim when the tide is against is just making me more and more exhausted.

Taking It Easy

I read a column by Pritish Nandy in Bangalore Times yesterday titled – “Taking it easy”. Not sure if it was my yesterday’s contemplative mood or the relevance of the article which made me like this one so much. Word by word, I found it to be so significant and applicable to lives of many of us.

A piece from the article
: “We pay fees for clubs we seldom use, gyms we never visit, doctors we have no faith in, time share resorts we will never go to. It’s all part of the same syndrome. Keeping up with those who you think are better off than you. It could be a friend, a neighbor or that guy in the office you hate the most. You want what he has without figuring whether you really need it. Or even want it. That’s why our homes are crammed with stuff we have grown out of. That stupid music system no one uses because we each have our own iPods. Those ridiculous sneakers we bought that promised to tone our butts as we walked or that joke of a cream that claimed to stop ageing. We are idiots, blindly responding to the stimuli of commercial messaging.
Is it possible to get off this treacherous treadmill? It is. The answer lies in breaking the sameness, deconstructing the routine of our lives, finding new things to do. None of this costs money. What costs money is staying on the treadmill, constantly running. Migrating from your Nokia to a Blackberry may be expensive but leaving it at home and hanging out at the local bookshop is not. No, it doesn’t diminish you if you carry last season’s LV or drive a Nano. You don’t have to afford that paint job in your house every Diwali. Instead, frame those family pictures and hang them up. You may recall many lovely memories that a spotless wall can’t offer. Skip some episodes of Bigg Boss; learn to play the guitar instead. Drop that Ceasar’s salad; try a vada pao. It won’t wreck your diet plan. Even if it does, it won’t matter as long as you’re happy. Feed a street dog. Buy a flute from that young flautist outside the Jehangir. Go trekking. Skip the newspaper. Stroll in a park.”

Sameness, scheduled and stressed…ain’t most of the working young people experiencing the same? Baring a few, I think to whomsoever I speak these days have to say almost similar things about their lives. Speaking about me, I have been going through millions of questions in my mind for past few days. Some spinning around this article and many in different other trajectories.
To think of it, it’s now 7. 5 years for me in Corporate career, don’t remember having even 7.5 days of my own every since I started working way back in mid of 2003. Yes, same rat race every day, every week, every month and every year. Did gain a lot in career but then did I get even few days of my own to sit back, relax and think…well no! Did take some short vacations too but most of them were spent running back to my home town, then after marriage it was in-laws house and if nothing else then managing different tragedies which kept on happening one after another. I try to think more and no, I don’t remember having even a week’s off which was just for me and myself! There are books all around me now but no time to read, so many places which I wanna see but no time to go, those dream holidays which I can afford now but no time to take off, those yum food which I always wanted to try but health does not permit now to do so, that strong desire to just go out and laze around in the warmth of sun on those bright sunny days but then it’s yet another weekday, that……….well I think I can list down some endless desires which most of the times end with but, but and some more buts. And I also know it’s not just me, it’s many like me who go through the same every day. Where’s that thing known as “Taking It Easy” gone for us? And will it ever come back? Well……..

Don’t miss to read the complete article by Pritish Nandy here.

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