Getting More

I’m the one you find having long, intimate chats at parties instead of being the life of the party. You will find me snuggled on the couch with a book or two, music playing in the background and a puppy/Bambhubhai for lively company. You will find me experimenting around the house or in the kitchen before dashing off to finish that long-taken on project. You will probably find me in the same coffee shop, sipping the same coffee if you caught me there two times or more in a row. I have my favourite haunts that I haunt till they won’t let me haunt no more; my bookshops where I can get lost infinitely in its musty, dank corners or strolling through old parts of my city where I can still breathe air and not smoke.

In short, what you will realise is I easily get into my comfort zone and barely slip out of it just as I hold on to that tattered, moth-holed Tee. I’m comfortable in my skin, happily piling on and losing the pounds, laughing my way to the last paise in my account and holding random conversations with whoever is willing.

So does it make me get the most out of life or more even?

Hell, yea living in my comfort zone has kept me happy and insulated from a tumultous world that has changed from breezy, easy to a stress-ridden rollercoaster.

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This weekend I decided to expand my comfort zone a lil, well just a wee bit to try and find out how the super active hyper others live. Well, guess what they do book readings and theatre shows and meet up with friends and have long-winded dinners without breaking into a sweat. I was feeling burnt out by the time I was done with two of the above.

Well, one step at a time I say. In the meanwhile, here is what my comfort zone looks like at present ūüôā

Writing Techniques

I love to write and read. They are manna to my existence besides pet dogs, family, gardening, travelling, watching movies, a good Riesling and cooking of course. So I invariably, unconsciously end up doing a lot of both. Now I’m no expert while it comes to writing but I seem to communicate better in the written word than the spoken. So oftentimes I have people with great ideas who would love to write but are inhibited by themselves asking me: “How can I write more, how can I write Better?”

Well I don’t claim to know much of both, but, for starters, here is what I have learnt over the years as a journalist and a communications professional.

1. The first trick I was taught was to consider writing like a work of art. If you are given a canvas to paint what would you do first. Sketch an outline and then fill in the colors, right? (Correct me if I’m wrong here or if there are better techniques I’m always wanting to learn). Well writing is the same. So whether it is an essay, a term paper, an email, a case study, a marketing brochure, an article, an interview or a short story ALWAYS have an outline.

This outline could be a story idea where you know how it ends and begins so connect the dots. The plot is your canvass to paint as you please. Same with an essay or a term paper or  a case study and here you are luckier since you already have a theme.

2. Always write your thoughts down on paper before you start tap-tapping on your keyboard. This will help you Structure your thoughts better. Help see if there is a logical flow.

3. Write what you believe in else it ends up a farce. Now this could be difficult with writing a piece of marketing collateral, say a brochure for an underwear company that wants you to claim they make undies that give you the power of superman/woman ;0. Hehe, get creative.

4. Writing is all about letting your creativity flow. Don’t let others judge your creativity or tell you how bad or good you are. If you are willing to read what you have written once, twice and several times more than my friend there is someone/people out there willing to read you. Of course this doesn’t mean you malign another’s character or spew vitriol brandishing your pen. Writing gives you artistic license but it also means being responsible for what you write.

5. Don’t take yourself too seriously as a writer, that is where you falter. Writing is about having fun. Whether you write about yourself, some one else, a product or a theme but always inject humor (if possible).

6. Write and write and then write some more. The more you write the better you get at it. This dated NYT article is worth a read¬†¬†if nothing but to understand the world’s most prolific writer Mr James Patterson. He is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most number of NYT Best Sellers. Of course, he uses co-authors now to write novels published in his name but this also gives him more time to concentrate on books he wants to focus on, so he says. But the point is the prolific nature of his writing. So write now, today, this instance.

7. KISS still holds true. Sigh, and this was one of the most difficult things I learnt since early in my career as a writer I was given a subtle message that more is beautiful and only much later did I realise ’tis not.¬†. You don’t need to write long-winded sentences or obfuscated text. Simplicity is key to all things good, and this is especially true in writing. Writing is after all a means of communication and if you keep it simple it is easier to get your message to your reader. ¬†

For those who don’t know (huh anyone there?!), KISS = Keep It Simple Silly/Stupid ūüėÄ

8. PROOF READ. It has become a fashionable trend these days to write in sms lingo, use atrocious grammar, unintended bloopers because a busy writer forgot to do a basic spell check or even write without periods and other punctuation. STOP! If you plan to become the next blockbuster author pay heed to what you write.

9. At some point in time all of us deal with the Writer’s Block. Simple way out. Get back to basics. Writing is an exercise and that is why our grade school teachers pushed us to fill up reams of paper with our thoughts, ideas and purpose. Some times the best way to beat the Writer’s Block is to write, even if its is nonsensical!

10. Develop your own unique style. While injecting humor is a good idea, it is easier said than done. All of us have our own unique style of writing. Some of us are staid and old fashioned, while some dashing, some irreverent, some humorous, some wield a poison pen but coat with irresistible doses of sugar, some are bitter, some are sweet, sometimes cloyingly so. So what’s yours?!

 

At the end of it all…we are, but, human

An open letter from a mother to her daughter advising her to consider motherhood at the right time published by a leading Indian paper has been thrashed as regressive by my peers. When I read this article aloud to my mother, she nodded her head sagely and said, “My regards to that lady for writing this. You, younger generation, seem to forget what family is about and the importance of having a child to make that unit complete.”

I argued and tried to get her to understand…why bring another life on an increasingly violent and vile planet? ….cost of living….security….will I know this new being will take care of me when I’m infirm and invalid (her favourite reasoning being: look at you and the amount of care you give. who will take care of you)……why not adoption instead of giving birth…and so on which covered the entire gamut of arguments that my peers use.

Some time later, my grandfather, 92 and going strong, chimes in. What does it matter? In the end, she needs to be happy.

He goes on: “I was raised by my grandmother as my own mother neglected me. I was seven when I realised the immense love she gave me and how much she sacrificed for my well being.

I grew up to become a farmer and tried to help all those around me.

As I grew older I realised there is not much that we need to be happy. Money buys me goods but love buys me life.

I have lived so long because I’m surrounded by people who love me and hold me in great esteem.

I realised that my wants were minimal: 2 meals a day, my health and clothes to cover myself.

I get this from my friends, I get this from my family. And I cannot be more fortunate.

What more do I need.

I’m no longer greedy to eat more, be more or see more.

I do not have to justify my existence. I do not have to live up to expectations. I’m constantly happy with the little things that are given me.

This is what life is.

I’m happy to be able to hear, see and understand. I’m happy I’m still healthy. I’m happy I recognise those around to appreciate what they give.

After all my child, we are, but, human.”

 

 

 

Work Ethics

The earliest memories of my demure, 5’4″ mosima (grandmother) are always¬†associated with sunrises, woody smoke, cotton sarees and the fragrance of Charmis cream.¬†

I’m nearly five I think, my summer holidays have just started and I burrow myself deeper into the thick blanket mosima has wrapped around me.

No books to be bundled inside my canvas bag, no homework to be checked by a hawkish uncle, no poems to be learnt by rote and no tests around the corner.  I will away the chirping of the sparrows, the woody smoke from the kitchen and the  morning light I knew awaited me. The chill of the morning along with the rhythmic snoring of my grandpa was enough to make me glide back to sleep where I knew I would dream of books piled high along with hot samosas and Boost.

But rain or shine, holidays or school my dearest would be up before the cock crowed. Yes, we had roosters at every corner in Bangalore then along with cowsheds. My city was truly a garden city. My road was lined with yellow and orange champa trees, their fragrance intoxicating and heady in summers; gulmohars in resplendent red during the monsoons and always, mosima pottering around the house like a goddess. She was omnipresent.

In the kitchen, making breakfast and packing lunch for a family of 8 that sometimes expanded to 15 and more. In the garden, watering her beloved papayas, pomegranates, banana, jasmine, hibiscus and all the other myriad bushes and trees that dotted our small plot. In the veranda giving a bowl of egg and milk to a stray dog we had adopted. She wasn’t a dog lover but there was just no way she could refuse to care for yet another creature. To her all of God’s creatures were to be loved and nurtured. She would be in the backyard serving coffee to the old lady who helped with cleaning vessels and washing clothes. To the market she would go with her cloth bag and me in tow. At times, I would accompany her on a 6 km hike to our ration shop to buy the monthly groceries of rice, dal, oil, sugar and wheat.

Till the day she was admitted to the hospital where she breathed her last my dearest never wearied of fulfilling her duties to her family, her neighbors and the ones she cared for. 

Always the first one to wake up and the last to sleep. Non-complaining, ever-smiling, quick with a hug and a patient ear. Non-judgmental and driven, to be the best she could for us, her thankless brood. 

Now as I pour over management books and read articles galore I realise my dearest had the traits of a successful entrepreneur and an inspiring leader.

  1. She worked harder than the rest of us, whom she united as family
  2. She never asked but gave willing of herself and commanded us with a gentle smile, never a tear or a threat
  3. She was always willing to give a second chance and yet another chance till proven wrong
  4. She was driven by an inner moral compass and higher principles
  5. She never advised without being sought
  6. She never sat on judgement but stood by your side to pull you up and get you going

As I look around me at ¬†papers piled high, clothes strewn around, empty bottles of water and the clock ticking by I see a sweet lady pick up and arrange with nay, a murmur nor a rebuke.I hear her sing, cook and clean with never a care for her aching body or thankless brood (smaller though it be) and I think to myself, I can’t go wrong. For my mother carries on where mosima left off.

I have a long way to go but I know the work ethics I have imbibed from the women in my family run deep within me.

As I trace my career,  adventures in living, challenges and triumphs I realise it is my mosima I look to for inner strength and retaining my authencity of who I am and being the best I can be; of staying true to myself and bouncing back every time I fall.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be gorgeous, brilliant, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. …As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love

 

 

 

 

This chapter in my life is called…making new beginnings

Reading The Last Lecture from Randy Pausch has me engaged on a subliminal level.

As I turn pages stopping at times to have a aha moment, I realised I’m in a chapter of my life I call..New beginnings.

I have dealt with whatever cards life offered and tried coming up trumps. Most of the times I have and some times I haven’t for a self-defeatist self-fulfilling prophecy that I wreak on myself !!

Starting afresh on a new chapter, here are a few truisms that ¬†held me in good stead thus far……..

Believe in yourself: There will be times when the world is dark and bleak, when circumstances conspire to defeat all your good intentions, when your loved ones push you to the brink, when nothing goes right……………stay calm. Look deep inside, there is a reservoir buried that only you can unleash (good memories, good times, skills that have earned you a job, anything at all that will keep you hoping and living for another day). Hold on steady, hold strong.

There is an angel waiting to give you wings.

(I found two when I was all alone in a dark hole, where I had no self confidence and sense of self; when I was suffering with physical, mental and emotional hurt with no respite in sight. Unbeknownst to me they gave me shelter and hope to hold on to till I found my inner self, strength and belief).

Never be obnoxious, mean or cruel: From a selfish perspective remember those who you trod on or hurt along the way will be those you meet sometime, somewhere in the not-so-distant future. They call it schadenfreude, and boy are people these or what. ¬†So if you don’t have anything nice to say, shut up. Better to be boring than vile; better to be a good heart than Cruela De Ville!!

Sell yourself: Plenty and more cliches out there about not blowing your own horn. But every once in a while, and more blow your horn. Make your virtues, merits, uniqueness heard and felt. Whether it is in personal life or professional world, build your network, make it work for you and sell yourself. You never know where the next opportunity awaits. You never know when your other half or that loved one has taken you for granted. This also means that you will never let yourself go aka Keanu Reaves. Not all of us are born with diamond studs and tiaras, so make the most of what you got.

Build a strong network: Though a few of us would love to stay in a deserted island with a dog for company and a few books or mayhap Henry Cavill or Megan Fox..sigh, life isn’t as easy. We need to interact, and while we are about it what say we build a strong support system. This could be your professional or personal network. Give more than you get and a trusting relationship is sure to follow. I hate it when folks reach out only when they have work in hand, but then I realised I do the same thing. With the social media taking over live human interaction it is easy to make excuses. STOP!!

Call that friend you haven’t spoken to since you left school or college. Reach out to your family member whom you vehemently avoid meeting. Life is short, but yay yay why make it miserable.

Upskill: Easy to turn 40 and think you been there, done that. Even easier to turn 25 and think the whole world is waiting at your beck and call. Wake up friend. Competition is a killer. With the world’s population crossing 6 billion and counting, there are plenty of folks out there willing to do more to get that job you want, that boy/girl you crave, live that life you dream. Upskill, if you mean to thwart competition. Join a web building course, teach yourself Mandarin, visit all the places on your bucket list, do something, anything but live your life acquiring new skills that will enable you to live life more completely.

GIVE: Give of yourself without being asked. Not only will your house remain more livable, uncluttered and manageable but giving things is the start of a life long journey of giving. Give of your time, give of yourself, give your skills. All of us live to die some day. What if we give little of something to that child, that old man down the road, the morose colleague at the office, the stranger on the bus……something as simple as a smile or a hello to start with.

START LIVING. STOP BEING!!

Thank You

Ok, so I started this blog to combat frustration from office politics at one of the organizations I used to work for.

I meant for this blog to be my stress buster and replete with helpful tips on dealing with systems within systems and how not to be a cog within a wheel in a large corporate setup.

Somewhere, down the line it has evolved into a personal journal. And all this is thanks to you my dear readers.

Thanks for encouraging me through your comments and following this journal.

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I Phone Pics 057

 

The series of images I posted here are a testimony to how beautiful life can be if only you keep all your senses open, aware and alert.

I’m in the midst of upheavals now, some unexpected and some that were waiting to happen but every minute of every day brings me a glorious wonder that makes me feel grateful to be me, myself and I.

Thank you……..

Rediscovering my roots: Chennai Express

“We are leaving for Chennai Thursday. No ifs and buts. Keep yourself free,” my uncle tells me.

I hang up and mentally start ticking¬†my never-ending check list…apply for leave; create acceptable reason for leave; calls with the team; finish incomplete documents; visit my never-friendly bank; ticket printouts; stock weekend groceries; yadayadayadayadayahhhhh….. you get the picture.

4.30 am on a Thursday morning. Backs packed. I board the taxi with mum and grandpa (nanu). Suitably excited.

“You don’t spend. You just come. Let ¬†mum and grandpa decide the itinerary. You don’t think, just relax and enjoy the trip,” these were my uncle’s strict instruction.

Bambubhaibatliwala had other commitments so I was game for an all-expense paid trip where the most I had to think would be to chose between dosa and pongal-vada or staying back in the hotel and snoozing or braving the heat to explore the local market, and going back to being a child. Eh, I was game and visibly excited!!

5.15 am and we are at the city railway station, the old gate. Uncle with a rucksack waiting for us.

We board the Shatabdi which is just veering into the station. I check for our names and find we have been allotted separate seats, yay!!! Now, I can pop the earplugs and snooze away for the next 5 hours.

Settling in

Settling in inside the Shatabdi

We stack our bags on the rack, and I settle down in my chair. My uncle beckons and I sit next to him. He has negotiated with a fellow passenger to exchange seats. Jugaad, i tell you!!

I look around, pleasantly surprised. Is this the new Indian Railway?!Wow.

No cockroaches.

No rats.

No lizards.

No pan-chewing, tobacco-spitting stains.

6:00 am: Shatabdi leaves Bangalore City Railway station and we are off to Chennai.

6:02 am: Bottled water arrives

6:35 am: Napkins and a tetrapack of juice is served

7:00 am: Breakfast is served

8:15 am: Biscuits and tea/kaapi served

9:00 am: The Day’s newspaper is handed out (you have a choice of Deccan Chronicle, DNA, The Hindu)

9:15 am: Self trying to sleep cuddled on dear uncle’s shoulder

9:30 am: Shaken up by dear mum to look out window at beautiful green fields, which are admired and eyes shut

10:00 am: Stench hits nose; Eyes open and look around…huh, flatulence

10:15 am: Eyes still open and wandering around; Look up to find a squiggly apparition dancing in the loft

Ratatoutille

Ratatoutille

10.15-10.30 am: Self excitedly points to four-legged mammal, the vahan (vehicle) of our elephant-headed God Ganesh.

More fingers are pointed and everyone now looks to loft.

The mammal scurries up and down.

Screams heard.

Pantry boy comes running out.

Mammal scurries around and finally decides to head to the next coach.

10:30 am: Self reclines further into chair and closes eyes

10.40 am: nudge, nudge

10.50 am: Heading slowly into Chennai Central

10:56 am: Chennai Central

Hop out train along with bags and parents. Uncle busy finding out taxiwallah.

Chennai Central in the background

Chennai Central in the background

Mum embarks on a narrative retracing her countless journeys that took her to and from Chennai Central to other parts of south India; her childhood; her teenage years; her marriage; kids and now after 3 decades she is back in Chennai.

BTW, when in Chennai, always use the Fast Track. They are the old reliable. Good drivers, great service and reasonable fare.

Onward to the hotel we stayed at Egmore. No more on the hotel. Disappointing experience and a total rip-off. Charged for 3 days*2 nights stay (AC accomodation) and the darned AC never worked once. Only bitter taste to an otherwise fabulous trip.

So why did we head to Chennai when summer was almost at its peak? Where we mad? The answer:

96-year old Grandpa's roots

My 96-year old Nanu’s (hi)story began in Chennai where he stayed and finished his schooling before falling in love with mosima (my grandma) and settled in Kyasapura (his ancestral village)

Tracing my Nanu’s History. Shri. Shankar Prasad Mishra….

His Home: Singanna chetty strt, Chintaadripet

Pan

His old school : Pachaiyappa’s, ¬†one of the oldest educational institutions in Chennai; more than 2 centuries old; my grandpa studied there in the pre-independence era; He participated in the freedom struggle, notably the salt march where freedom fighters gathered on the marina beach to show their solidarity with Gandhiji, when he set off on the Dandi march

Emotionally Charged!

Emotionally Charged!

Standing inside the quiet quadrangle of Pachiappa’s School bang in the middle of a bustling Broadway market, which was ¬†packed with people, pen shops, flowers so fragrant you would get dizzy, fruits, people and more people, was stepping back in time.

Nanu identified his headmaster circa 1937, a Mr Mudaliar who hated grandpa’s guts since he refused to speak in Tamil. The rickety wooden floors, the green board, plaques that decorated the corridors with medals and honors and awards for students past, photos of celebrations and important occassions…. it was an emotional moment.

The rest of the travel was rediscovering old world Chennai where people still respectfully address you ‘aiyaa’ or ‘amma’ (Sir/Madam); where flowers are not just jasmine or rose but garlands of kadambam (my mum’s eternal favorite) which is a mixed garland of henna flowers, champa, jasmine, kankambaram, green leaves similar to tulsi but of a more heady aroma; mangoes native to Tamil Nadu; where every street corner has a small shop selling piping hot kaapi; idlis with moliga pudi; plain dosas with atleast 3 varieties of chutney; vadas; pongal-vada; Raagi (which I discovered was Vivita…my childhood memories triggered..lol); where the veggies delight: Ambika Papad Depot; Gandhiji Sweet Bhavan; Sarvana Bhavan; Vasanta Bhavan and so many countless more, and where temples lurked after every winding alley and where mum and grandpa had smiles, exaggerated gestures, laughter and stories for every step your foot took.

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Blazing a Different Path

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Ah, Robert Frost and his Road not Taken, standard English textbook fare for most of us who studied in the 80’s.

I gush and I gape whenever I meet someone who I feel/believe has taken the road less traveled by. It has been an aspiration for therein lies the secret to living a fulfilling life, a contended one.

And today, I met 2 incredible human beings who are living my dream, of blazing a new trail ……

I stumbled upon both by chance. The first through a friend who liked the FB page and the second coz of the first.

The Puzzle

When I browsed the FB page, I did a double take. How can some one be so foolhardy I thought? This is escapism taken to its extreme ran another train of thought. Perhaps this person has really been hurt or is running away from deep emotional trauma cried a voice from the inner recesses of my head. What motivates this man to travel the length and breadth of the country on his cycle stopping at remote communities and then staging a theatre act (street theatre style)? Doesn’t he read the papers? How can he survive without a toilet, without money, without his family, without comfort, without all the bare necessities like a roof over the head, 3 meals and more, friends to hang around with and so on and so forth?

The more I followed his travel and read his updates, the more intrigued I was….to analyse, arrive at a conclusion, understand, fathom what made this man undertake the journey he did.

The Solution

So when I found out he was dropping by where I stay I literally hounded him to meet up. The first was a washout thanks to an unexpected attack of the migraine but I got second time lucky. And how!! Not only did I get to meet The Cycle Natak, I met another intrepid explorer Andre Unger as well….

And so came 2 inspirational hours of freewheeling conversation with Andre and The Cycle Natak, who shared his journey with candor  humor, humility and a seeming sense of the unself-conscious self!!

Of course, I have to take you along this journey my dear reader and share the fascinating¬†¬†nuggets I stashed away as I walked back to reality……..

The Cycle Natak

Over pepper sausages, a ham sandwich and chai, cold coffee and mosambi juice The Cycle Natak unraveled his secret to a happy life and his unquenchable urge to explore and travel. I will not dwell upon what motivated my friend ( I consider him that for he let me share his journey, if only for a while) since you would perhaps want to meet him and hear his story in his own voice. 

His 2 and a half year journey has obviously been adventurous, but what entices as this 24-year old speaks is his maturity and wisdom, something you would expect from a 70+ wizened sire who has seen, experienced, cherished and lived.

“It is not the destination but the journey that makes my travel interesting and gets me going again and again.”

“People are good. It is when you project goodness that you get goodness in return.”

“It is the truckwallas who have time and again let me hitch a ride with them that makes me feel good about getting back on the road again. They are honest, and would share their last piece of bread never expecting anything in return…..It is the laborer who takes me to his home and heart after just speaking with me for a few moments, happily sharing his frugal meal, which is not even enough for one….And then, I have had rich folks give me a 500 rupee note and ask me to take up lodging at a motel … And then, there is a villager who takes me to his home and gives his bed..”

“You learn to take the moment and live in the emotion of that moment but after it’s over, it’s over. You move on to a new one, a new moment, a new emotion.”

“At times, you have to just let go and let the dam burst because the more you carry with you the more dangerous the outburst. I remember sitting on the road in a particular phase of my journey just crying, venting out my frustration but then I had to shake myself off and move on..hoping there was something better ahead” (This when I asked him if he felt frustration and negativity at seeing how society was, how little progress we have made in spite of the India Shining chimes that play on)

“The condition of women is pathetic but it is far better that what it was so you can imagine how miserable it must have been…….women still think they do not have a right to conjugal happiness, that they owe it to their husbands to sleep because that is their duty.”

“Being a Muslim is not as issue when you get people to see you are a traveler, a human and not a caste.” (When I asked him if he found it difficult to get access to shelter or food because he was a Muslim)

“You have to feel empowered to be empowered. I was in some tricky situations but the fact that I spoke LOUD, spoke with Empowerment got me out.”

“You are answerable only to your (inner) self not anyone’s sense of what you are or who you should be….”

Andre Unger

Thanks to The Cycle Natak I also connected with Andre, an intrepid explorer, a risk taker by conventional measures. Giving up a well paid job Andre just took off on his bike traveling from Kanyakumari to Ladakh.

He hasn’t gone back to corporate sludgery by choice and instead opted to become an entrepreneur to “take off when I want to and not have to work 12 months to earn that week of well-deserved break.”

“We set off on a journey wanting to discover ourselves but what we don’t realise is we are who we are, no different from what we were..just more conscious of the self.”

“We are conditioned to eat 3 meals a day when we should actually eat when we want and not live by convention.”

“Being content with what we have and leaving a little for the rest will take you a long way.”

“Do what you want to do before you say it’s too late.”

“You don’t need to have an answer or an explanation or a reason for everything that you do, sometimes it is the doing that matters.”

………

Wow, I could go on but I won’t. I hope it has tweaked some part of you that wants to do something but is waiting for the right time, the right moment, the right sign to pursue your dreams..to pursue that elusive Will-o-the-wisp….

And even as I write this, I realize blazing a trail doesn’t have to be something dramatic or unconventional it could just be that one small step you have dreaded to take for an unknown fear, an unspoken taunt, or perhaps an unconscious inner barrier…

Stop….

For now is that time, and that time will never return.

And to all those who have taken that small step every day in a small way….Cheers and More Power To you…..

To Sit or Lie

PART I TO LIE

Ok, so a while back a close relative commented: “Why do you share your private life out there? You facebook, you blog, you twitter, you comment, why you twit? Why do you randomly seek attention instead of just living your life?”

Ok, so admittedly I was perhaps going overboard. Not that I was tweeting or facebooking about every single loo stop or vocalising the existential angst that hits you living in a city that corners you with its filth, aggression, numbness, insensitivity and so on and so forth..

But yes, I was quick to share my thoughts, and happiness and the angst that came at times as I see a (sane) society I once knew crumble and erode.

No longer was I safe to take my nightly strolls alone or even accompanied by my mum or go out for a drink with a male friend or catch up on a movie in a dark cinema hall or visit the coffee bar down the road or go jogging in the neighbourhood park.

2 eyes weren’t sufficient any more.

I needed compound eyes.

I was equipped with a pepper spray, a taser gun (i wish), a marriage certificate, a mangalsutra, toe rings, a ferocious dog on a long leash, headphones to plug into my ear, coolers, a bottle of bisleri, a heavy handbag…..

And no items listed above were not for seeing/quenching thirst/pleasure/answering curious looks/questions/exercise.

Oh no, these survival articles were to maim and mutilate; to deaden the senses; to ward off any male that leered or pounced in the dark or otherwise.

And I did go off facebook and twitter and didn’t blog as much. After all I’m a girl, ok, a woman – the weaker sex….and I didn’t want nor crave unwanted attention.

5-year old girl raped; 23-year old brutalised, raped and succumbs; 25-year old raped; 3-year old molested; and I lost count after a spell. Age didn’t matter and neither did the fact that they were ‘accompanied by male companions’ or were ‘decently dressed.’

Skewed sex ratio across the country; increasing rich-poor divide; mass migration to urban centers and exposure to urban culture resulting in culture shocks; shift in male-female roles; lack of education; north vs south; societal change; changing moralities; regressive society; confused rural male/uneducated male/unemployed male; changing female mindset; independent women waving a red flag to CRM/UM……and so on and so forth went analysis after analysis on the sudden explosion in violent sexual crimes against women.

Part II – To Sit

Do I join the protests?

Do I vent my anger?

Do I sign up and share links?

Do I pray to God that when I get pregnant it shouldn’t be a daughter in my womb so I don’t unleash this insane world on her?

Or do I harness my strength as a woman and unleash the generations of collective wisdom and empower my child irrespective of whether it has a XX or a XY chromosome?

Teach them the to Do the Right Thing, Stand Tall, Believe, Be Good, BE A MAN (in Kipling’s words) and Be the Best of whatever they chose to be or do

Sensitise them to a new world order where gender equality can be real and not dictated by khap panchayats and politicians seeking to bank roll their votes playing (preying) on increased crimes.

That it is ok to iron blouses and buy sanitary pads if she is unable to without being hush hush

That it is ok to do the 3 am call when the cries wail out in the night and not roll over and play dead while nudging the better half out of her sleep to play care taker.

That it is ok to wash plates and keep the house clean and take the garbage out and shop for vegetables and plan the evening dinner so the lady can get some precious me-time too.

That it is ok to not get married, travel the world instead and opt for a high powered job, buy a house, and pursue dreams

That it is ok to bring home someone from the opposite sex or the same sex as a life partner if they mutually respect each other and Trust each other and can live a life in harmony

THAT IN THE END ALL THAT MATTERS….is what you made of life for yourself and for others in the short time you had
….that someone somewhere sheds a tear or sports a smile or passes a sigh when you are no more in fond remembrance of all the nice things you did
….and that is all there is to it

The Me and Mice

Of late, the ‘I’ had crept into conversations more often than it used to.

At first, I thought the I’s reflected a heightened sense of self and self-achievements.

I felt comforted with the I’s and my’s.

I believed I had arrived.

After living a life with no sense of self, this heightened consciousness of self was intoxicating to say the least.

The world revolved around what I did, thought, felt, wanted, needed and so on…

The world was monochromatic…

And infuriatingly the I soon turned into a conundrum….

I was lost amidst all the I’s.

A hard knock came from unexpected quarters, or perhaps it wasn’t as unexpected.

A bout of illness and forced imprisonment brought on introspection as life was looked at through a microscope.

Unsung heroes there were aplenty…

From the hibiscus tree withering away in the balcony but still holding strong, a sad shadow of its former self when it sported glorious red blooms and swayed gently in the breeze to mum, working nights and days to feed the family and keep a spotless house.

The small gestures that were taken for granted were received with gratitude.

Silence spoke volumes.

The I’s dissipated and I have started learning to let go….

let go of preconceived notions

let go of heart-ache and heart burns

let go of memories and nightmares

let go of limitations and all the geometrical patterns that form (boxes, circles…..)

I realize that life with all the Me and the I’s is only for the Mice, who are caught in a trap of self deceit….

I hope never to go back to the cage, and if you find me doing this dear reader…KNOCK hard..

Dream on and achieve the impossible for only you stop yourself from reaching and touching…..for the stars and beyond!!

Have a great April…