Thursday, 31 December 2009

So what's the big deal?

For those who are unable to see my 2010 posts, please click on the link http://www.worldmenagerie.blogspot.com


My last post of the year and I am uncharacteristically late. My last blogposts in previous years have come earlier than the last day of the year. Just because I have been pondering....

This year, my take on this time of the year is very different....no looking back or forward, no mixed feelings, no trepidations and no hoping for this or that to happen, no hinging my happiness or sorrow on what happens with me or doesnt. The external environment does not matter, I shall find my own peace from within myself.

I am frozen, and possibly deviod of any thoughts. Just living for the present. Just carrying on life without planning or purpose. My life is still and so is my soul. It is from this stillness that peace and consequently happiness will spring forth. Never thought this state of numbness could be reached. It is an easier option....to go the way life steers you rather than try to steer life the way I want it. No more artificial living for me. Peace is preferred to happiness, respect is more important than love....

Bidding goodbye to the old or ringing in the new therefore has no meaning. So, what is the big deal? One needs no excuse to celebrate, or drink or be with friends and family? You can do it anytime....so does the New Year matter?

One day ends and a new one dawns...its just the same like any other day. Years, decades and centuries are just constructs of the human mind. To quantify time. Same goes for birthdays and anniversaries. What is known will always be so and what is unknown will never be known.

Not many will understand my frame of mind as I write this post. AND it really doesn't matter. I accept being one of the quirks of life....

Maybe this is what Eckhart Tolle is trying to tell when he talks of the 'Power of Now'....

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Today's tarot

You are too independent and others feel they cannot get close to you. People feel they bring nothing to your life and do not understand why you would want them around. Too focused on one's own goals. Feeling of freedom, but also have not formed ties....

Quite an accurate reading!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Farewell dearest sister

It has been exactly 12 days since I lost my dear elder sister to pancreatic cancer. She was 13 years my senior and was a strong force during my formative years. She was my strongest support, my harshest critic and one of the few well wishers I have in life today. I had never known life without her, so I took her presence in my life for granted till the last 4 and a half months when the deadly cancer was detected and played havoc with her system and finally took her away. But I had never anticipated the end would come so swiftly and painfully.

All along the four and a half months I had been begging God to grant her some extra days in life. But after seeing her in the critical care unit, I begged God to take her away, to release her from all physical suffering and mental agony. Even as she breathed her last, she looked as beautiful as she always was. Indeed God plucked the most beautiful flower from my parents' garden....

I also learnt one thing. If you are certain that God has willed something, you should not pray for something that goes against it. This is what some elders told me. Hard, but one has to accept it.

But even after 12 days since she has gone, the words 'deceased', 'dead', 'passed away', 'expired' when applied to her, hit me hard. And coping with breavement after a gap of around 21 years since my father died has become hard. So much so, it can be mistaken to be a physical illness...Bereavement and grief trigger breathlessness, drop in immunity, nausea and severe bodyache. All of this me and another sister of mine are suffering from...

After the finality of death, coping with beareavement and grief comes the prospect of moving on. As I key in this blogpost from my hotel room in central London, I am far away from home, and from her grave. But last few days, I have prayed like never before. The verses of my faith have started coming to naturally to me and as they comforted my sister when I recited them in her ears before the end came, they comfort me now.

Its far too soon to come out of mourning and start looking at business as usual. But a job has to be done and work has to go on. But after her demise, I feel something in me has changed. Cannot pinpoint it, but the change is there. The coming months will shape the change, hone it, finetune it so that it emerges clearly within me. Death is the final frontier. With one person gone, it changes many around the person who left. In work and management we are constantly talking about change management. Personal life has taught me, some changes can never be managed. You change irrevocably with the change. You cannot measure it. Life never becomes the same again.

So farewell, dear sister. May you rest in peace. I am sure you are at a better place than we are. And you will be there to welcome us when the time comes....

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

In High Places


The story plot looks highly interesting....He, the first prime minister of one of the world's largest democracies and she, the wife of the last Governor General of colonial India. This is a story of people in high places and how love strikes at hearts of the most unusual partners in the most (if I may say) inappropriate of times ......

A huge brouhaha is buildng up over the making of the film 'Indian Summer' on the untold romantic story between Lady Edwina Mountbatten and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru based on a book by the same name by Guardian columnist Alex Von Tunzelmann.

It is common knowledge that the two took more than (ahem) political interest in each other and have been a subject of great curiosity...lots of hearsay and gossip.
I am dying to read the book and see the movie, being the curious, inquisitive Indian that I am.

What puts me off is the moral high ground that the Indian government is taking, with the information and broadcasting ministry politicos and babus (bureaucrats) getting into a tizzy and demanding that the script be shorn of vital scenes like kissing, and the use of the word 'love' from it. Understandable they are anxious about cheap portrayal or anything in bad taste, but for them to dictate the script is clearly going beyond their brief, a habit quite natural for people of their ilk.

Who is going to explain what happened was something no one had control over....an instant attraction, a chemistry and an understanding which no rules can restrain and no rationality can explain. The restis, as they say, history :-)!

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Relationship dynamics: Is there a 'higher' love?

What is a relationship? When is a relationship defined? Most relationships have boundaries, especially the conventional ones. But what about those which exist but which do not fall into straitjackets? Are they relationships at all? If not, then what are they? Is there a term for them?

Most relationships in the world are formal, symbiotic. You give me this and I give you that. It is a lot of sharing of material and sometimes emotional needs. But what about involuntary, mental, undefined ones? A deep connection, but no definitions or boundaries, across countries and continents? ...Too many questions....

I came across this article by Janina Gomes in the Times of India and felt that all along what I had been writing especially in my poems is captured in this article. So that makes my thoughts common, everyday human stuff, no different from the mundane. But anyway here is the article and I have highlighted parts which I have dwelt on in my previous writings. So here goes...

Relationships thrive on kindness and love
JANINA GOMES

12 September 2009, 12:00am IST

Human beings are born in relationship and the lives we lead right from infancy to old age are anchored in relationships. It is in relationship that What bliss it is to love and be loved (Getty Images)

we grow and achieve adulthood and die in the final peace that comes through dying in a trusting relationship with God.

There are many views on the nature of human relationships. In practice, however, it is the day-to-day relationships that must survive the wear and tear of daily life. Sometimes we find that in order not to sour a relationship, it is better to keep a distance. At other times, a clean break becomes necessary. We need to learn to cultivate relationships in a way that there is room for love, mutual respect and space for the other to grow.

At work the equations are different. In an office or a work environment, in which hierarchy is important, relationships tend to remain at a rather superficial level. There is a certain give and take in official relationships, but they rarely survive once we are out of that particular work situation and environment.

The family, which was once the primary environment for close relationships, is no longer so for many because the sanctity of relationships is under threat. When mistrust and insecurity make demands of family life cloying, we might have to make that extra effort to strike a balance that will restore the pristine nature of the original relationship.

Relationships become our chief means of reaching God. Ritual, common prayer, worship and solidarity are all conventional ways to do this. If we wish to take the relationship still further, we might have to establish a more personal link with God. Sometimes, the give and take of ordinary relationships creates a gentle arc that connects us to the Divine.

Conversations are an important way of building up relationships. They could be silent or expressed vocally. Such relationships look beyond a given set of circumstances for a wider, deeper perspective, to understand the truth that lies beneath what is apparent on the surface.
The longer we live and the more experienced we are, our ability to discern the true nature of relationships improves. We are able to take considered decisions on whether to continue with a certain relationship or call it quits without acrimony or hatred.

When we cultivate virtues like patience, compassion, mutual respect and a loving nature, we are well on the way to touching the heart of God, whose reflection we see in other human beings. God invites us through the diversity and wealth of His Creation, to a relationship of universal love. To love His Creation is to love God.

Any relationship that is nurtured for selfish motives and which is vulnerable to feelings of jealousy, hate and suspicion cannot last for it is not founded on unselfish love. And without the ingredient of love, a relationship lacks the spark that can help take it forward towards higher dimensions.

We might remember those who built empires or created elaborate monuments for themselves in the course of remembering inconsequential details of material achievements. Immortal memories ^ in our collective consciousness ^ would however be made up of those acts of kindness and love that came unsolicited, or of those who nudged us on to the path to finding God, to share with us the divine experience of unalloyed bliss.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Looking for a problem?

Someone really special told me that I had no real problems in life and hence I was looking for one. That bewildered me for a moment, but set me thinking. Do we give importance to trivial issues a little too much? I considered myself a die-hard optimist, but sometimes I come across as a rebel without a cause. Yesterday someone mentioned this video and for millions in the world, this is an inspirational video on how to be happy. I can relate to it in a limited way because of my sister who also suffers from the same terminal illness, and I would like to wish that she recovers completely. But this video is worth a look and the end is going to bring a lump to your throat. So, are we looking for problems till we get one serious one to concentrate on?
video

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Into the future--another world

Financial engineering, destination management, intuitive management, fashion space...what do these terms mean? Ask me, nothing!

I happened to attend a career counselling workshop at my daughter's school this afternoon and have come out with my head buzzing, not with ideas but trying to keep track of the new fangled courses and careers the lady spoke about.

Well, she waxed eloquent about how this century is going to be the Indian one and India with its young skilled talent population will get back its glory after 15 centuries after the golden age of the Gupta dynasty. Quite a pipedream, I must say.

Then she talked about the futuristic courses that are going to be popular, and when someone asked her if these courses will sustain, she did not have much of an answer.

She asked us to let our daughters follow their dreams and not burden them for careers they do not have an aptitude for or are not inclined.

Fine, but we as parents today in India are a confused generation. On one hand we want our daughters to do what their hearts tell them to and on the other, we give premium, voice our admiration for those children who are successful in entering time tested professions like doctors, engineers, bureaucrats, lawyers. So where do we take it from here? We are pulled by our own parents' conditioning over the years and we are unable to shake off the yoke and on the other we want our children to live their dreams....

All the girls were put through an aptitude test and my daughter is naturally inclined towards creative design. I had known this all along, but never paid heed to it. Her sketches, dressing up her little sister with odds and ends, styling hair, teaming up scarves and jackets creatively all to make a fashion statement... Her quick understanding of all the designer shows on television which I constantly feel are a waste of time. But now the prospect of competing and getting into Design School is looming large over her head. So, where am I?

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Beautiful lives


August has been a cruel month...A month of endings of beautiful things. Nothing personal about it, but we saw the passing away of two timeless Indian beauties...Maharani Gayatri Devi of Jaipur and Leela Naidu, a breathtakingly beautiful Indian actress of yesteryears.

Also the end of the month signified the 12th death anniversary of Princess Diana, one of my favourite women in the contemporary world. There were a spate of movies connected with her on HBO and I saw two of them....'The Queen' and 'The Murder of Princess Diana.' Both superb movies and fitting tributes to the Peoples' Princess.

Princess Diana changed the whole idea of royalty, she brought a whole new world of humaneness to the word. And she, like other ordinary women, suffered from neglect and betrayal from her husband, which made her vulnerable and she sought true love for most of her life. Sad, but cannot help thinking, if it can happen to her, it could happen to anyone.

Friday, 21 August 2009

What Makes The World Go Round?


This week has been manic! A VIP visit in our patch, a mid term review, hourly meetings, telecons, zero carb lunches, tummy crunches and an MBA project which I can never get down to starting!! Whew!

But I finished the week with a conversation so refreshing... Brought my faith back in mankind. Gosh, genuine people are rare and I am happy I know one of them.....

I got out of office with a smile on my face Friday evening and headed to Oxford Bookstore, my favourite haunt when in a good mood. Just browsing around and I did not find anything particularly interesting. Suddenly, near the cash counter I saw a basket filled with tiny bound books...generic stuff about cats, sisters, and other inane things, My glance rested awhile on a small gold coloured cover which had multicoloured hearts in it.

The title...'Love makes the world go round' a Helen Exley giftbook....Intriguing, especially for me for whom words like 'love' and 'relationships' mean nothing except looking back in anger....

However, I made this tiny purchase to understand what the whole great concept of love was about. If you may have noticed, I have never mentioned the word 'love' in this blog, except once, since I have never understood what it is. I particularly dislike the l-word because it comes with inherent boundaries, which limits the whole idea of something beautiful. Then there are questions of what one means, one says and one does.....They necesarily not always match...Really dicey.

However, on my way back home, I riffled through the pages and here are some lovely lines which I did not expect. Some were corny, but some really genuine... So here goes..




Love lives the moment; it's neither lost in yesterday nor does it crave for tomorrow. Love is NoW!

Age does not protect you from love. But love to some extent, protects you from age.

To love someone is to be the only one to see a miracle invisible to others.

Love is the poetry of the senses.

Couple who love each other tell each other a thousand things without talking.

I see her everyday and always see her for the first time.

And finally....

Love consists in this: that two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other...

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Many languages, one feeling

Modern India completes 62 years. A slow process of ageing, but no real maturity, is only one way to describe it. Many interpretations of high GDP growth rates, but how many people pulled up from below poverty line? We don't know. So what do we do with these empty numbers?

This blog headline symbolises my country as also myself. People speak different languages, have different cultures, but for those who are special, there is only one feeling.

I had been pondering over some valuable advice given to me recently. I do take some advice quite seriously as I am doing with this. I was asked to learn a new language.. Persian or Urdu and for the first time in my life, I am giving it a thought. Three Persian/Urdu words today which are special to me Falak (Sky, infinity) Fanaa (perdition) and my most favourite Aqueedat (devotion, adoration).

And here are some words which come to me when I think of the adviser


Kind
Caring
Comfortable
Confident
Trustworthy
Safe
Soul
Peace

Friday, 14 August 2009

What's your type?

I recently underwent a very interesting psychometric test which gave me a lot about myself I did'nt know.

The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) which gave the verdict that I was INTP. Stands for Introvert, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceptive. A strange mix, if contradictory, I personally think. But this is one of the 16 personality type found in human beings.

A lot of my colleagues were surprised to find that I was an introvert. That goes to show how successfully I have worked at reaching out to people and socialising when I would rather be at home, sitting on my favourite chair, reading a book or pottering at my blog....

All my readers who have undergone this test, please comment with your type and that will help me know you better. :-) I realise now that most other people who I have thought to be kindred souls have been introverts.

Here is a snapshot for knowing the real me as spelt out in Wikipedia...

INTP types are quiet, thoughtful, analytical individuals who enjoy spending long periods of time on their own, working through problems and forming solutions. They are curious about systems and how things work. Consequently, they are frequently found in careers such as science, architecture, and law. INTPs tend to be less at ease in social situations or in the "caring professions," although they enjoy the company of those who share their interests. They also tend to be impatient with the bureaucracy, rigid hierarchies, and the politics prevalent in many professions. They prefer to work informally with others as equals.

INTPs organize their understanding of any topic by articulating principles, and they are especially drawn to theoretical constructs. Having articulated these principles for themselves, they can demonstrate remarkable skill in explaining complex ideas to others in simple terms, especially in writing. On the other hand, their ability to grasp complexity may also lead them to provide overly detailed explanations of "simple" ideas, and listeners may judge that the INTP makes things more difficult than they are. To the INTP, however, this is incomprehensible: They are merely presenting all the information.

Given their independent nature, INTPs may prefer working alone to leading or following in a group. During interactions with others, if INTPs are focused on gathering information, they may seem oblivious, aloof, or even rebellious—when in fact they are concentrating on listening and understanding. However, INTPs' extraverted intuition often gives them a quick wit, especially with language. They may defuse tension through comical observations and references. They can be charming, even in their quiet reserve, and are sometimes surprised by the high esteem in which their friends and colleagues hold them.

When INTPs feel insulted, however, they may respond with sudden, cutting criticism. After such an incident, INTPs are likely to be as bewildered as the recipient. They have broken the rules of debate and exposed their raw emotions. To INTPs, this is the crux of the problem: emotions must be dealt with logically—because improperly handled emotions, INTPs believe, can only harm


Another insight...Cohorts have reason to believe that Albert Einstein was an INTP..ahem, that explains a lot of things...:-))

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Are dreams for real?

My soul starvation days seem to be back. Endless routine, practical chores make my mind a spinning wheel. The buzz, the whirl and no real contact with my true self has made my soul breathless for its personal oxygen. More than just two weeks ago, my soul felt as if it had taken a swig from the fluted sparkling glass called life and here I am devoid of anything that brings a smile to my face.

I know its just the start of the week, but I am bracing myself for the silent phase that might strike. The phase that cuts off my personal oxygen and leaves me gasping for breath....

It is therefore not coincidental that I went back to reading the first chapter of Brian Weiss's book..'Only Love Is Real'. Some lines are uncanny and I reproduce them here because I can relate to these lines completely.

'He may not recognise you, even though you have finally met again, even though you know him. You can feel the bond. You can see the potential, the future. But he does not. His fears, his intellect, his problems keep a veil over his heart's eyes. He does not let you sweep the veil aside. You mourn and grieve, and he moves on. Destiny can be so delicate. When both recognise each other, no volcano can erupt with more passion.'

Another line I can completely identify with: 'A sudden feeling of familiarity, of knowling this new person at depths far beyond what the conscious mind could know...a feeling of safety and a trust far greater than could be earned in only one day or one week or one month'...
So, is reality a dream or is my dream a reality?

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Living Life in Compartments


Its not been easy, and it perhaps happens with everyone else. But there are times I feel I don't know who the real me is. I feel I am lost or maybe lost myself in the many roles I play?

I am sure many of you can relate to it. My life feels like a train chugging towards an unknown destination and there are compartments where I see many selves of mine.

First...a daughter to my mum. She lives with me, loves me and my kids, drives me nuts, but I love her all the same. I try to be her strength, but fail sometimes, especially when it comes to restoring her emotional health vis a vis my sisters who is battling cancer.

Second...a mum to my two daughters. This is perhaps the best role I enjoy. The best part is both of them have a massive sense of humour, so we are all a riot together!

Wife....Hmmm..here is something I guess I need to work on.

Co-worker.....Extremely turf conscious but a team worker nonetheless.

Friend..Confidante to many, but cannot suffer fools and fakes easily! Need more patience. Value honesty more than anything else....

Bewildered....a smothered soul, breathless for personal oxygen, starving for soul food..

But in all these roles, where is the real me? I also see no connection between all of them, and that is what worries me.

There are times when I want to piece tgether these splinters and get the complete picture. Mind you, these are splinters, not part of a jigsaw. What will this true picture look like? Not a horror, I hope. Perhaps I should periodically call an AGM of all the varied selves.

Lots to ponder about, buddy!

Monday, 27 July 2009

Coping as a Caregiver


I have been the primary caregiver for two intensely suffering patients in my life. Caregiving became a continuous job for me for around 4 to 5 years. At a relatively early age, at that. When I was all of 29 years, I had to nurse my ma-in-law who had come to stay with us and a couple of months later, she had been diagnosed with a terminal stage of liver cirhossis. I started with being the primary caregiver....had hired a day nurse, worked the whole day at office...I was a journalist with a frontline business daily, came back home and resumed my duties as a night nurse, stayed up nights, tended to bed sores and other accompanying chores. I used to wash her hair, bathe her, feed her food and medicines when the day nurse would play truant and generally be responsible for monitoring the daily ups and downs. During this period, I realised what a challenging job this is. It scoops out whatever perseverence and determination you have to do the job. It was an emotional and physical rollercoaster and you do end up feeling your efforts are not taken cognisance of. You feel frustrated and unappreciated. Natural...but you need to realise what goes on through the mind of the terminally ill patient. The cocktail of medicines plays havoc with their system and physiologically induces depression, irritability and has more to do with their bodies than their heart and mind. The caregiver as a result, goes through the same mental stress the patient undergoes, but in a milder way.

My second role was even more challenging.. Around the time my ma-in-law passed away, my other half had been diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia, an extreme condition of facial pain...and for three years I ran from pillar to post trying to find the correct diagnosis for his condition, till I took him to the US and he underwent a complicated brain surgery and came out of it completely (Touch wood). Ditto for my role as caregiver.

Such issues now arise with my sister. I am the only one in the family who has seen all this from close quarters. My role is now to counsel the caregivers...be patient. The patient is not really angry with you but at his/her own helplessness. And this is compounded by extreme suffering and despair and so takes it out on the closest target..the caregiver. One needs to be patient, to persevere, to look after one's own emotional health in order to cope. A tall order, but not insurmountable, nevertheless. After all, you are doing it for yourself. And its really between you and God anyway. In the end, love conquers all.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Seeing with the heart

I promise I shall post a poem soon, as my trip to the UK like the last one has been a learning experience...

I was presented this little book calld 'The Little Prince' by Antoine De Saint-Exupery and I went through the 90-odd pages during my flight back home.

This jogged my memory about a movie I had seen quite some time ago called 'Meenaxi: A tale of Three Cities' and the catch phrase was 'Jo Dikhta Hai Woh Nahi Hai, Jo Nahi Dikhta Hai, Woh Hai', which in Hindi means 'Whatever is visible does not exist and whatever is not visible, exists'...Confusing?...but so true! It was an arty movie created by one of India's most celebrated painters M F Husain and it had my favourite actress Tabu in it. Obviously the movie sank without a trace at the Indian box office, but who should watch it, but me, the appreciator of all inane but meaningful things in life?

'The Little Prince' said something similar....and what struck me is what the fox said when he parts from the prince...'It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye'.

What struck me was another piece of conversation: 'And I have no need of you. And you, on your part have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world...'

But what does taming mean between two persons?.....any definitions?

Is this love?

The past week has passed off in a whirl, a roller coaster of group discussions, strategising, brainstorming for salvaging the fortunes of a fictional ice cream manufacturing organisation called Gelati. So much so that I shall now think twice before having an ice-cream!

But at the same time, I came across this delightful article which answered a lot of questions I had on my mind, and I came out of it feeling quite contented...

An article by Isabella Kratz which describes how it is possible to have an unspoken relationship without doing the traditional time-tested rites...So here goes:

First of all, let's figure out what love is not. It's not abuse, intimidation, harassment, manipulation, physical or emotional violence. It says in the Bible that love is always kind and patient. So forcing someone to do something against his or her will is not love, it's control. And the urge to control comes from fear, a fear of being rejected or of not getting something.

The opposite of love is not hate; it's fear. When fear is present, love is not possible, because fear will block it. A lot of people are afraid to love. They're afraid of being hurt or disappointed. But rejection will only hurt you if you reject yourself. It you love yourself unconditionally, unrequited love will not affect you negatively, because you will not dwell on it. You will quickly get over it and focus on finding someone who will reciprocate your affection. Your most important love affair is with yourself. It you don't love yourself, you can't really love anyone else. So make peace with yourself today and forgive yourself for everything you've ever done.
Scientists have proven that falling in love is a chemical reaction. Hormones create confusion in your body, and you believe that you've finally found your soulmate. Your heart rate increases, you blush and start shaking when he or she talks to you. You can't sleep at night and you can't eat, which is great if you want to lose weight. Or you do the opposite and become an emotional eater, stuffing yourself with chocolate to put this person out of your mind - at least for a while.

It would probably be easier to begin a relationship without being in love, because your emotions wouldn't wreak havoc and you would keep a clear head. This chaos is not always a nice feeling, as it can bring to the surface insecurity, which can lead to pain and suffering. Being in love is mostly a sexual feeling. People are attracted to each other physically, which is normal, as we are programmed that way. But if being in love is being in lust, then according to statistics, it doesn't last. The feeling evaporates after a few years. The madness of ripping each other's clothes off becomes a memory, as well as the luxury of staying in bed all day making love.

It is possible to be in love without having sex. Platonic love can be intimate and affectionate, without being sexual. More than physical attraction, love is about respecting and understanding each other. It's about trust and accepting the other person exactly as they are. You can fall in love instantly, but will it last? Isn't love at first sight an illusion, as I only see what I want to see? Then reality hits. I'm in for a big shock, because this man or this woman who seemed perfect now has a lot of defects. And he or she probably thinks the same about me. We're both disillusioned, and even the sex doesn't keep us together any more, as the physical passion has evaporated.

Love is commitment. It grows over time, when people are there for each other. When they listen and try to understand each other. Talking is important. It's okay to have disagreements, as long as they don't degenerate into nasty fights. Too many arguments can destroy love, Even though every relationship has its ups and downs, too many arguments can destroy love. Of course, we will fall in and out of love numerous times with our partners. Sometimes the feeling of love is less intense, almost absent. But it doesn't mean it's all over. The flame of passion can be rekindled at any time. If you don't give up, you can create the love you want. Passion is a strong desire to make the relationship work, but both partners need to be willing to give it a go.

Dating someone you love like a friend means you're compatible on more levels than just the physical one. True love is similar to friendship. The important thing is to establish trust and good communication. Sex is an added bonus, as it is the culmination of your love for each other. But even without sex, it is possible to have a relationship, as long as there is affection and true understanding, and a willingness to share. In all relationships, people will eventually fall out of love over time. People who are together just because they are in love - or in lust - may realise years later, when sex diminishes or becomes inexistent, that they have nothing else in common to keep the relationship going.

A desire to give and receive love will lead us towards a satisfying relationship, in which commitment plays the biggest role. Sex is not compulsory. The main ingredients are trust, acceptance, understanding, respect and appreciation. These can be found in friendship as well, which is why friendship is the best foundation for true love.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Second home

How I love coming back to the UK. Its always with pleasure and a sense of anticipation that I land at Heathrow. Let's say, visits to this country are a bright spot in an otherwise dull life?

Its back to school for me this week and this place in Coventry, the Scarman House of Warwick conference does not lack any amenities that I can think of...the tutorial, workshops, tutor, not forgetting the catering and rooms are just superb. What more could a poor soul like me ask for? I thank the Almighty and feel blessed...

Let's say this is a lovely experience....great company and lovely weather just complete the ambience for me, so much so that for the moment, I have forgotten all the stresses that I constantly face at home. And I think I deserve it!

Once the residential MBA is over, I plan to spend a few days in London, the city I like best in the world. And of course, a very important and cherished appointment on Saturday...Looking forward and keeping my fingers crossed. Lets say, I am tipsy with life itself! Wonder if I can handle it??

So ciao till I log on again sweethearts....

Friday, 19 June 2009

Keeping the Faith

I have never been religious...have read the scriptures but in a limited sort of a way. My interactions with God have mostly been daily conversations, actually monologues from my side, which I know He hears and the results are the testimony. But today things are a bit different. I now know why we need religion or specific methods to pray for specific problems. I am desparate to say the right prayers for the right effects, but am at a loss.

I need prayers to alleviate the sufferings of an ailing elder sister. The apple of the eye of my parents, a pink doll born to my mother 55 years ago and been the soul of our family of four sisters. The romance in her marriage to one of the few good men I have seen in my life is still intact. A mother of two beautiful, grown up successful children.

I live in hope. I see hope in her tired eyes, hope is everywhere. The day she is able to eat more than a couple of morsels of food is a happy day for me. I was with her to hold her hand through the tough diagnosis and the despair in the doctor's voice. But hope lives in me.I try to prise open crevices of hope from granite walls of despair, I cling to the new tender, green leaves of hope caught in the vise-like grip of deadened vines of despair.

I have faith in the Almighty and understand it is not his business to give us clues to his plans. We must pass the test of our patience and faith. I pray, but in my own way...different from the people of my faith. I talk to Him, intense, desperate, one-sided conversations. It unburdens my heart, heals my bruised soul, which I am sure will turn into showers of blessings for my sister.

In the faith, each day I live...

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Change - Not always for the better?

Two Eastern India states got battered by the Cyclone Aila...widespread devastation, 60 dead and still counting..A newspaper called it a 'perfect storm'. Rural and urban life disrupted, villages marooned, large areas without electricity, flights cancelled, trains stranded, public transport ground to a halt, made for a perfect South Asian coastal story.

Climate change has now become a part of our real lives. Summer which normally starts from April, started this year from mid-February, ending in an unusually hot April. We had no winter to speak of. Earlier, winter used to linger till mid-March and we would have sultry, scorching weekly stretches interspersed with welcome nor'westers and this pattern would continue till the first week of June when the long awaited monsoon would come down with all its fury.

However, this year, its all changed. Man, bird and beast are confused. The cyclone which left a trail of devastation in Gangetic West Bengal and Orissa also left a trail of landslides in the Darjeeling Hills, has also pulled the South West Monsoons ahead of schedule. It is the last week of May and we are already in monsoon zone. Wonder what else is in store later this year.

I feel now that enough time has been spent pontificating about how the weather is changing and how it will affect us adversely. It is now time to think how to implement eco-friendly measures in our lifestyles through a mix of radical and gradual changes.

In climate change, we must read the fine print written by God himself. It should urge us to think and act more responsibly. Surely, the religious scriptures mean the ultimate disastrous effects of climate change when they talk about the end of the world. Have they prescribed preventives?

We need to recognise this subtle message and act. The time is now!

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Tough Mind and Matters

Tough babe, hard and aggressive b***ch and a new Mother's Day epithet...'Kickass Mom' by my proud daughters..are some of the nicknames I have gathered over the years. Other remarks like tactless, undiplomatic or calling a spade a spade, not mincing words have been used to describe me since childhood. Wonder what is wrong in being straight and simple? But at first glance or second meetings no one yet has got this impression. Its only people who know me really well have this opinion.

Sometimes life puts you through the shredder. And the only way you recover is to build a wall around you, because you want to protect soft, hurting self that is really you?

Here is something that happened last evening which made me seriously question whether I was tough by any stretch of imagination...

Every evening 6:30 to 7:45 is my walk and exercise hour. I walk on this nice grassy field behind my flat as my mornings are usually rushed with sending kids to school and getting ready for office. Normally I see familiar walkers and it has been quite safe to be out at hat time. Yesterday however, the place was uncharacteristically deserted. Storm clouds were gathering and a strong breeze was beginning to blow. Just then, I saw a character walking his dog. He could have been a servant of someone in the extended neighbourhood. The aura around him seemed peculiar, with the gait of someone who is either an addict or of unsound mind.

I saw him tie his dog to a nearby fence and head straight towards me. I can't remember when I was last in this sort of a panic!

Not wanting to show that I was in any way affected, I assumed my most stud-like, aggressive walk, held up my hand and rotated my wrist, clenched it into a fist and looked him straight in the eye! Seeing him closely I understood he was decidedly puny and I would win hands down if a fisticuff or a physical fight ensued!

My body language had the desired effect and he changed his direction and went off to lie face down on the field while I continued my walk, still v alert for any movement from his direction!!

On hindsight it was quite amusing, but on second thoughts I was wondering, what if my strategy did not work? What if he was a strong thug and not a puny idiot? Next time I ever go to my friendly-neighbourhood field for my walk, I must not forget to reach for the pepper spray!

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Trivia, Tattle and Tra La La

A gap in posts and this is a post after long. Actually many posts within a post.
Last few days have gone past at a breakneck pace. An e-fight with an old school pal and a brand new blog to work on...

I fell prey to a writer's block, alternating tra la la moments with nosediving spirits. A fancy new way to describe mood swings?

Elections and the Indian Premier League took up most of my mindshare and both had their own share of hangamas and tamashas. . Well such is the Indian zeitgeist. Ah...how I love this word. It describes almost everything one wants to say!

Elections...in India just the heat, dust and horse trading are enough masala for an Indian reality show (as someone really dear once described).

The best two things about the IPL have so far been the blog www.fakeiplplayer.blogspot.com and the new Vodafone ads created for the game introducing new creatures called the 'Zoozoos'. Adorable and so funny, they have the whole nation in their grip. 29 ads, one introduced everyday makes the chemistry between Vidya Balan and Madhavan in rival Airtel ads lose their sizzle completely!
Those who have not seen them have missed something.

Soon IPL will be over and I guess this will be followed by some new decision to start releasing new Bollywood movies in multiplexes..an impasse spanning more than a month has led to no new pictures being released at multiplexes. And soon a new government will also take over.

This is going to be a season of new beginnings. And that is why I have decided that somewhere down the line I was wallowing in self pity. That I need to get a handle on life and move on? And to a new beginning I shall work for and that will be less self-pity and more tra la la moments (but some poems will continue!)? Easier said than done. But worth a try?


Ciao till the next post

Monday, 4 May 2009

The hand of God




Sometimes, you feel God's presence when you see perfection. And perfection is what I see when I go through the young Iranian painter Iman Maleki's works. Being creative is human but being perfect is God-like. Have uploaded some pictures produced by this extraordinary young man and you can get to see more of him at www.imanmaleki.com

Iman was born on 1976 in Tehran. He has been fascinated by the art of Painting since he was a child. At the age of 15, he started to learn painting under the mastery of his first and only teacher - Morteza Katouzian - who is the greatest realist painter of Iran. Meanwhile, he began to paint professionally. In 1999 he graduated in Graphic Design from the Art University of Tehran. Since 1998, he has participated in several exhibitions. In the year 2000, he got married and in the following year he established ARA Painting Studio and started to teach painting, considering classical and traditional values.

Most of the people who visit this blog are really dear to me. And I want all my dear ones to experience the joy of seeing these paintings. The painting with the two small girls reading a book, remind me of my own two daughters....

Love will find a way

YouTube - Mitwa KANK

Please click on the Youtube link and watch my all time favourite song. The lyrics again are phenomenal...

YouTube - The Carpenters - Top Of The World

YouTube - The Carpenters - Top Of The World

Sunday, 3 May 2009

The lyrics

In case you have never heard the song and don't know the lyrics, here they are. At this moment in time, cannot be truer for me...hope this joy lasts forever...

Such a feelin's comin' over me
There is wonder in most everything I see
Not a cloud in the sky
Got the sun in my eyes
And I won't be surprised if it's a dream

Everything I want the world to be
Is now coming true especially for me
And the reason is clear
It's because you are here
You're the nearest thing to heaven that I've seen

I'm on the top of the world lookin' down on creation
And the only explanation I can find
Is the love that I've found ever since you've been around
Your love's put me at the top of the world

Something in the wind has learned my name
And it's tellin' me that things are not the same
In the leaves on the trees and the touch of the breeze
There's a pleasin' sense of happiness for me

There is only one wish on my mind
When this day is through I hope that I will find
That tomorrow will be just the same for you and me
All I need will be mine if you are here

I'm on the top of the world lookin' down on creation
And the only explanation I can find
Is the love that I've found ever since you've been around
Your love's put me at the top of the world

Soulmate...this one is for you

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Top of the World

Did not quite understand the lyrics, but I sang it all the same. The top favourite sung brilliantly by Karen Carpenter, this song was an integral part of my childhood. Won many song competitions in school and college, hummed it all the way during my trip to Rajasthan as a university student, but never quite gave a thought to the lyrics...Till now!

Sometimes things happen without realising. A stranger you meet perhaps once or twice in your life, but a difference is made all the same. At the cost of making this post sound crappy or corny, this is something I must relate. I had this wonderful conversation with someone yesterday and came out of it healed, relaxed and therapied. Only this person does not realise the effect. Which is fine with me... Its a probably a quality possessed by spiritual healers, which is why they are so sought after. This person therefore does not realise the power possesseed...

Part of the conversation veered around the 'Paradoxical Commandments' ...Something so lovely, so true but yet so difficult. Even Mother Teresa borrowed from this...


The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith


1. People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
2. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.
3. If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.
4. The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
5. Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
6. The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.
7. People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
8. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.
9. People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.
10. Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

We are like this only

Despite all my training in diversity and tolerance, I could'nt help getting amused at something I saw recently in the jobs page of a newspaper...Here goes:

Gang of Four: Characteristics of Indian ethnic groups

Bengalis


One Bengali is a sweet shop
Two Bengalis is a black and white movie
Three Bengalis is a Mohun Bagan support group
Four Bengalis is a Marxist movement

Malayalees
One Malayali is a narial pani shop
Two Malayalis is a boat race
Three Malayalis is a gulf job racket
Four Malyalis is an oil slick


Tamilians
One Tamilian is a fugitive sandalwood smuggler
Two Tamilians is a suicide bomb squad
Three Tamilians is a classical music school
Four Tamilians is a Jayalalitha fan club

Andhraites
One Andhraite is a cycle-rickshaw driver
Two Andhraites is a spice shop
Three Andhraites is a naxalite outfit
Four Andhraites is the Telugu film industry

Goands

One Goan is Remo Fernandes
Two Goans is a feni distillery
Three Goans is a football club
Four Goans is an all-night long party

Parsis
One Parsi is a sentence punctuated with expletives deleted
Two Parsis is a Doctor and a Lawyer
Three Parsis is a 75-year old man and his two unmarried sisters
Four Parsis is half their remaining population.

(Source: various internet sites)


All this clearly has a Southern bias. Imagine if we could apply it say, Punjabis, Jats, Kashmiris, UPites, Biharis or the North East? Would be a total riot! So come back to me with some interesting ideas on these....

Thursday, 16 April 2009

No illusions about dreams

I once had a friend who was to be married to someone who was not her choice. She shared an unspoken love relationship with someone else but could not marry him. One night she had a strange dream....She was on a dance floor with the man she loved. It was a deserted floor with only the two of them. Gentle music played and she was ecstatic to be in the arms of the man she loved. Only she could not hold him in her arms...both her palms were decorated with wet henna.And she was telling him she did not want to spoil his spotless white shirt.....

The dream could not be more symbolic than this. But recent findings showthat dreams are not really significant. They are a product of the biases we have. Nothing about them is related to divinities or prophecies as we had hoped. (Another illusion dashed).

The article by John Tierney appeared in the New York Times recently. If interested, read on...

March 10, 2009

What Do Dreams Mean? Whatever Your Bias Says
By JOHN TIERNEY

Suppose last night you had two dreams. In one, God appears and commands you to take a year off and travel the world. In the other, God commands you to take a year off to go work in a leper colony.

Which of those dreams, if either, would you consider meaningful?

Or suppose you had one dream in which your friend defends you against enemies, and another dream in which that same friend goes behind your back and tries to seduce your significant other? Which dream would you take seriously?

Tough questions, but social scientists now have answers — and really, it’s about time. For thousands of years, dreamers have had little more to go on than the two-gate hypothesis proposed in “The Odyssey.” After Penelope dreams of the return of her lost-long husband, she’s skeptical and says that only some dreams matter.

“There are two gates,” she explains, “through which these unsubstantial fancies proceed; the one is of horn, and the other ivory. Those that come through the gate of ivory are fatuous, but those from the gate of horn mean something to those that see them.”

Her two-gate hypothesis, later endorsed by Virgil and Ovid, was elegant in theory but not terribly useful in practice. How could you tell which gate your dream came from? One woman’s ivory could be another’s horn.

Today, though, we can start making distinctions, thanks to a series of studies of more than 1,000 people by two psychologists, Carey Morewedge of Carnegie Mellon University and Michael Norton of Harvard. (You can report your dreams to these researchers at TierneyLab, nytimes.com/tierneylab.)

The psychologists began by asking college students in three countries — India, South Korea and the United States — how much significance they attached to dreams. Relatively few students believed in modern theories that dreaming is simply the brain’s response to random impulses, or that it’s a mechanism for sorting and discarding information. Instead, the majority in all three countries believed, along with Freud, that dreams reveal important unconscious emotions.

These instinctive Freudians also considered dreams to be valuable omens, as demonstrated in a study asking them to imagine they were about to take a plane trip. If, on the eve of the flight, they dreamed of the plane’s crashing, they were more likely to cancel the trip than if they saw news of an actual plane crash on their route.

But when the researchers asked people to interpret dreams, some suspiciously convenient correlations turned up. When asked to recall their own dreams, they attached more significance to a negative dream if it was about someone they disliked, and they gave correspondingly more weight to a positive dream if it was about a friend.

A similar bias showed up when people were asked to imagine that they had had various dreams starring a friend or a deity. People rated a dream about a friend protecting them against attackers as being more “meaningful” than a dream about their own romantic partner faithlessly kissing that same friend. People who believed in God were more likely than agnostics to be swayed by divine apparitions.

But even the nonbelievers showed a weakness for certain heavenly dreams, like one in which God commanded them to take a year off to travel the world. Agnostics rated that dream as significantly more meaningful than the dream of God commanding them to spend a year working in a leper colony. (Incidentally, although the preferred term for leprosy is now Hansen’s disease, the deity in the experiment used the old-fashioned term from the Bible.)

Dreamers’ self-serving bias is tactfully defined as a “motivated approach to dream interpretation” by Dr. Morewedge and Dr. Norton in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. When asked if this “motivated approach” might also affect dream researchers, Dr. Morewedge pointed to Freud’s tendency to find what he was looking for — sex — in his “Interpretation of Dreams.”

“Freud himself suggested that dreams of flying revealed thoughts of sexual desire,” Dr. Morewedge noted. “Interestingly, in the same text, Freud also suggested that dreams about the absence of the ability to fly — i.e., falling — also indicate succumbing to sexual desire. One might interpret this as evidence that scientists are just as self-serving as laypeople when interpreting their dreams.”

Once you see how flexible dream interpretation can be, you can appreciate why it has always been such a popular tool for decision-making. Relying on your dreams for guidance is like the political ritual of appointing an “independent blue-ribbon panel” to resolve an issue. You can duck any personal responsibility for action while pretending to rely on an impartial process, even though you’ve stacked the panel with your own friends and will ignore any advice that conflicts with your desires. Charity work, no; margaritas, sí.

Even if you don’t believe in your own dreams, the new research suggests that you can learn something from those of others. In the Book of Genesis, when the Pharaoh becomes concerned over his dreams of emaciated cattle and withered ears of corn, it would not be unreasonable for Joseph to conclude that the ruler is worried about the possibility of famine. Joseph would therefore have every motivation to interpret the dream so that the Pharaoh creates a new grain-storage program — and, not incidentally, a new job for Joseph supervising it.

While they doubt that dreams contain hidden insights or prophecies, Dr. Morewedge and Dr. Norton note that dreams can be indicators of people’s emotional state, as evidenced by other researchers’ findings of a correlation between stress and nightmares.

Dreams can also become self-fulfilling prophecies simply because people take them so seriously, Dr. Morewedge and Dr. Norton say. Dreams of spousal infidelity may lead to accusations and acrimony that ultimately lead to real infidelity.

“When friends and loved ones have disturbing dreams,” Dr. Morewedge suggested, “one may need to do more than say, ‘It was just a dream.’ It may also be a good idea not to tell people about their undesirable behavior in your dreams, as they may infer that your dreams reveal your true feelings about them.”

This last caveat applies even when non-Freudians are discussing dreams. Even if you don’t ascribe any deep meaning to dreams, even if you think they’re just random hallucinations that don’t come from gates of ivory or horn or anything else, you should still probably pay attention when, say, your romantic partner tells you about a dream in which you were caught in bed with your partner’s friend.

And you should definitely be concerned if your partner goes on to mention a second dream involving a commandment from God to take a year off and travel the world. If your partner is a highly motivated interpreter of dreams, you may find yourself home alone.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Rampage, Ramp and the Ravishing

The last few days had been excruciating. Cramps and stiff muscles, the result of an over-zealous exercise regimen, coupled with my experiments with low carb high protein diet and a complete disregard for essential vitamins had to take a toll on me someday. So this was the time. Trouble also came in the form of office work and an MBA assignment deadline.

Every fibre of my being was screaming for rest, but the Kolkata Fashion Week (KFW)just had to be attended, come hell or high water!

The organisers need a serious rap in the knuckles for mishandling the arrangements on day 3 where the Monapali show was to happen. Doors of the venue did not open till ten minutes before the show was to start and a huge crowd gathered. Before we realised, my friend, daughter and I were trapped in a sea of humanity pressing forward, threatening to break open the glass doors and lunge into the makeshift venue which felt would collapse like a pack of cards. It was a humid Kolkata evening with media and public doing their worst to get into the venue by any means. The crowd surged, the smell of cigarettes, sweat and stale perfume made my senses spin. I had to repeatedly tell myself to get a handle and protect my daughter above everything else. Suddenly a huge spasm went through the crowd and we lurched forward and got thrown into the venue. All this, despite having valid passes for the show. What followed was a mad scramble for the front seats. I had lost my friend for some time, but managed to find good second row seats. My friend's clutch purse had got thrown out of her grasp and she was on her knees looking for it. We finally settled in well on time for the show to start.

What followed was reed thin models, and hanging on them was an extremely exquisite line inspired by the 'Bauls' of Bengal. Background colour was beige tussar with orange and purple colour schemes. Good detailing with hair and makeup. What was intriguiing was all the models were bare foot except for what looked like crepe bandage wrapped around their feet, ankles and calves in creative ways. According to my friend, the 'Bauls' or the wandering minstrels of Bengal used to walk a lot and in the process would hurt their bare feet. They would simply tie pieces of cloth around their feet and keep walking. Quite imaginatively adapted as a model accessory...


Showstopper Bipasha Basu clad in a red and white sari and a red full-sleeved blouse looked ravishing, Her glamourous mom was seated just across the ramp and we could see her face visibly light up when daughter dear walked the ramp with the designers. The pride, indulgence and satisfaction was so evident in her expression, as she saw the crowd whistle and gush over the diva.


What I remember last of the evening was my friend and I telling each other that the gorgeous showstopper was worth all the effort that evening....

Monday, 6 April 2009

Farmside story


It seems unexplainable, but I have always found the content in the Outlook magazine a reflection of my own views and write-ups that I agree with. In a sense, the magazine says what I want to hear. Wonder why..

Check out the cover story of the latest edition which talks about the quiet green revolution that has silently taken over the nation's countryside. I only hope this is a story that is not motivated by the Congress party just before the elections. I saw a similar story on NDTV 24x7 which talks about the rapid strides made in rural India on economic development. The facts and figures, I hope are true.

Here are some startling facts to people like us, who are mired in the woes of urban India and the global meltdown.

Agricultural growth has doubled since 2004. Rise in food production has boosted rural incomes, helped government keep prices under control.

A sharp 30-40% increase in the minimum support price for cereals and the Rs 70,000 cr loan waiver have made agriculture more attractive.

Growing industry demand for land has seen prices spiral even in rural areas, bringing overnight wealth to many villages.

Rural people are taking up jobs in cities, leading to a big rise in remittances to villages.

Growth of small enterprises created alternate income sources for most rural families.

NREGS has created some additional income wherever it has been implemented properly.

Hit by slow urban demand, companies shifting focus to capture the growth in rural markets.


For the detailed story, please log on to http://www.outlookindia.com/full.asp?fodname=20090413&fname=Cover+Story&sid=1

Clearly one of the upside of not going completely global...of being relatively insulated to the vagaries of the market economy....

Just one more thing....I wish someone would try to link growth rates with the number of people pulled above the poverty line. Without this, growth rates would remain just empty numbers. Don't you think this would add a whole new meaning to the notion of the welfare state?

Friday, 3 April 2009

Soul again

By now, all you lovely crazy people who read my blog, must be aware of my near obsession with the soul and its strange ways, the world of dreams and other unexplainable stuff which are either more or less than the ordinary. Well, one such favourite is the soul music of Dr Zhivago (Lara's Theme). And the scene where Lara is going away. Just so soul stirring.... Please find time to see this Youtube clipping and listen to the music. It will refresh your soul. A true stress buster in today's world ridden with worries, targets and shutdown. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXAa0XaS6bs

I have been trying my darndest to download the video, but something is stopping its download.

The composer of this music, Maurice Jarre recently died. This post is, in a sense a salute to him. Such rare compositions sometimes make life worthwhile.... And yes, don't forget to tell me all about it! Ciao and have a soulful weekend.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Funny Men

1st of April came and went, but nothing really mattered. No pranks or jokes came my way, except my kids' attempts to outdo each other in trying to fool me, which gave everything away! Poor kids!

But I am amazed at the collective foolishness of the election zeitgeist which pervades everything these days and makes me question the validity of earmarking one day dedicated to fools. The high-drama around Varun Gandhi (does'nt anyone remember his first name is Feroze?)his arrest and now the alleged plot to kill him by Chhota Shakeel leaves me weary. And the disqualification of Sanjay Dutt to contest the elections by the Supreme Court was the best thing that happened to Indian politics, me thinks...after all the song and dance with Manyata and Amar Singh at the rallies in Lucknow, I am happy sanity has prevailed. Munnabhai should realise that Amar Singh is no 'Circuit'!

Anyway, I came across this story which I hope is not an April Fool prank, because, secretly, yours truly too, agrees with it...Stupid research, but a true pointer to what women really want?? Huh?

So read on...

London, April 1: A new study shows that women think funny men are smarter and more likely to be honest than more dour counterparts.

Although studies have shown that humour is not linked to intelligence, researchers believe that the findings can be the reason why so many lonely heart ads placed by women list GSOH (good sense of humour) as a prerequisite for a partner.

The findings provide evidence that women use humour as an indication of a guy’s intelligence.

Kristofor McCarty, from Northumbria University, who led the study, said: “Intelligence is a very attractive quality as a clever man should be more able to provide resources for his offspring.”

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Socials, a friend and a book

Its been a hectic week...and vibrant, social and professionally gratifying one.

The transient spring in all its glory is here but for so short a while. As I key in this post, sitting on my favourite couch by the window...its almost midnight and the sensuous smell of the parched earth just moistened by falling raindrops makes me feel complete...at least for the moment.


Last week I found time to hang out with my favourite friend after a long hiatus. She is my soul sister and we have been through similar turmoils at the same time in our lives. We share each others' pain and understand each other perfectly even though we don't talk to each other for months. We also share the same stoical interior, masked with layers of exuberance and infectious humour which is sometimes the only make up we wear.

I am looking forward to seeing her again next weekend for a city fashion show which promises to be typical of my favourite cheese and wine evenings.

Another task accomplished this week...I finished 'The lost flamingoes of Bombay' written by a youngish lad by the name of Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi. The critic of the book who wrote the review read has selectively singled out the lascivious, sleazy phrases and discussed them in depth, leaving out more meaningful parts of the book. I know these are the days of dumbed down journalism and I am so very happy I am no longer part of this tribe..

The book has no plot. It is a narration of four or five lonely people among Mumbai's creme de la creme. Shanghvi has borrowed from events in the country which are pretty recent, like the Jessica Lall case, the attack on North Indians in Mumbai and one can event identify the characters in real life. The main characters are no doubt fictitious, but the peripherals are borrowed heavily from real life, which makes the book quite predictable.

But now, the good part...For a young man, Shanghvi shows powerful flashes of brilliance in his writing which reflect wisdom beyong his years. I savoured each of these ideas and word play languidly, turned them upside down and inside out and yet, they never failed to fascinate me... Here are some gems:

The strength of a marriage was measured not only by how it was upheld, but also by how people responded to its betrayal...

You were an ally to my solitude.

Claire made him feel indispensable, irrestible even. But he noticed she was like that with most people; her charm was an equal opportunities employer.

Rhea slipped beneath the creaking floorboards of Karan's memory.
There is a lot more...which you will find out once you read the book.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Quite a crowd

Here is something I picked up from CNN. Quite a crazy story, but yes, they are one, big happy family. But imagine the amount of tightrope walking each of the adults must be going through, all because of the money factor......read on

-- Struggling to make ends meet, trying to dig themselves out of debt, Nicole Thompson-Arce and her husband have moved in with her ex-husband.
Together, the unlikely threesome of Omaha, Nebraska, is raising two young daughters from the first marriage.
It's the kind of situation that has left cable guys howling.
"They'd never heard anything like this," Thompson-Arce, 28, remembered with a laugh. "And they're in people's homes everyday."
When she and Craig Thompson, 42, were going through a divorce in 2005, this was not a deal either of them could have imagined striking. It was a messy divorce, the kind involving a custody dispute. But once they ironed out that battle, agreeing to joint custody, Thompson-Arce said they were able to move on and forward.
iReport: Read Thompson-Arce's post
By the time she married Mathew Arce last July, she said she and her ex were friends. In fact, they were so close that his mother -- meaning Thompson-Arce's ex-mother-in-law -- was in (not just at) the second wedding ceremony.
Soon after the Florida wedding, the new lovebirds flew into a financial mess. She had left a job, and as soon as she found another (a temp position), her 22-year-old husband was fired from his higher-paying gig.
iReport.com: Job hunt stories
They fell behind in rent. The bills stacked up. The credit card debt grew. iReport.com: What are you cutting from budget?
A couple months later, Arce, landed a temporary Wal-Mart cashier position, which has since turned into a full-time job. But finances remained shaky and digging themselves out of debt seemed insurmountable. Tell us how you're surviving in this economy
In walked the ex with an offer, just in time for Christmas. Thompson, an 18-year bakery employee at Wal-Mart, lives in a three-bedroom, one-bath home.
"I knew they were having money problems, so I just asked them to move in," he said. "I figured I'd get to see my girls, my daughters, more often. And Nicole said yes right away."
Besides the economic savings, the benefits are many.


No longer do they have to shuttle Victoria, 7, and Caitlyn, 6, between two households. As a team, they can parent and be on the same page. Finding a baby sitter is never a problem. They take turns making meals, which they all share.
Thompson and Arce, who are 20 years apart -- "I had to get the whole spectrum going there," Thompson-Arce joked -- have become the best of friends, and share a similar sense of humor. They have tackled home improvement projects, run around together on days they both have off and often hang out at the kitchen table building plastic models.
"We just clicked," Thompson said. "When I tell people, 'I'm living with my ex-wife and her husband,' I get some really strange looks. ...It's different. It's unusual, but it works."
The transition has been smooth and great for the kids, Thompson-Arce said. And for their benefit, irrespective of finances, she thinks it's a living situation they'll stick with for at least five to 10 years. It has, however, taken a little time for the little ones to get the story straight.
Seven-year-old Victoria went back to school after winter break -- and after the whole team had blended under one roof -- and started telling people this: " 'My mommy has two husbands,'" Thompson-Arce remembered. "I was like, 'No, honey, don't tell them that!'"
What she and both men hope the girls are learning is that divorced parents can work together and be friends.
"There are so many families that go through divorce and can never let it go," she said. "I'm thankful, and hopefully our situation can help people rethink things because if they have kids, it's in their best interest to get along."
One might wonder whether the couple, who've been married for less than a year, get enough time alone together, given where they're living. Thompson-Arce points out that her ex works a shift that sends him to bed at 7 p.m., so the evenings -- after the kids are asleep -- are for her and her husband to share.


"When they do have a romantic evening, I don't hear them, so we're not going there," Thompson quipped. "There's a bathroom between our two bedrooms."

The ex-husband hasn't dated since the divorce. He said it's because he's been focused on work and taking care of the kids. Thompson-Arce, however, said that she and her husband are forever trying to get Thompson on the dating scene and want him to meet someone special.
Special, and understanding, she would most definitely need to be.

"He'd have to find a very open-minded woman because we don't plan on going anywhere anytime soon," Thompson-Arce said

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Soul shredder

I am back , folks after a slightly longish silence. This morning I feel happy, energised as if I have got back some life-sustaining personal oxygen that had been denied to me in the last coupla weeks...

I had been deliberately avoiding seeing movies of that genre. After 'Bombay' I had vowed not to see any movie which dealt with communal violence/tension. The ostrich syndrome continued and movies like 'Parzania' and'Wednesday' came and went. Why did I get talked into going and watching 'Firaaq' which dealt with the Gujarat riots of 2002?

Seeing the movie left me with the feeling as if vital parts of my soul have been gouged out. I am numbed by the madness......

Anyway, please read this lovely article written by Sadia Delhvi and the vast gap between Sufism and radical Islam.

Read on and write back your comments...

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/4272667.cms

Sunday, 15 March 2009

The Reader

No, this post has nothing to do with the Oscar award winning movie featuring two of my favourite Western actors ...Ralf (promounced Rafe) Fiennes and Kate Winslet. Although I am dying to see the flick....

Recently I have been reading book reviews as it has been quite some time since I read a book. I have been denying myself the pleasure of what I like doing most and have been moping around a like a sad sack.

Some of the new books on the shelf include Daughters of Shame by Jasvinder Sanghera which deals with the horrors and atrocities suffered in the UK by South Asian women. Reminds me of the movie 'Provoked' based on Kiranjit Ahluwalia. Am I ready to go through another tale of horror and exploitation?

The other one which is much talked about is 'The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay', by Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi. Based loosely on the Jessica Lall murder case, it is supposed to be an interesting read, but with language which has too much sleaze wrapped around it. Don't know whether I shall be able to digest that!

But one book I am definitely going to read is 'Stranger to History' by Aatish Taseer. Some of you may have heard about the author in passing if you have been reading gossip mags. He was in a relationship with a minor British royal Gabriella Windsor and even made it to the pages of Hello.
This is his story....not about his affair, but about his very existence. I did not know Tavleen Singh, a senior journalist in the country had a love child (Aatish) with former Punjab governor in Pakistan Salmaan Taseer.

I have grown up admiring Tavleen since the days she would report for the now erstwhile Sunday magazine and as a growing girl in my early teens was jealous because she had interviewed my idol of those days Imran Khan! In fact, she was the only woman journalist of note for a very long time in the country and I was inspired partly by her to start my career as a journo. Anyway, enough of that later.

The book promises to be something of a masterpiece. A love child who belongs half to Pakistan and half to India. Reminds me of a little of Abhishek Bachchan's character in Delhi-6. But this, I am sure will be much more powerful. A reality, a circumstance in life, written by the boy who has been through it all.

The book hits the stands next month. So, many reasons to read it... And did I mention? Aatish is a gorgeous looker!

Friday, 13 March 2009

Is it her?

I know I have been dicussing a lot of pain in most of my recent posts. Makes me sound like a sad sack. But this morning, I am pensive, with a real reason.

Since the last ten years I have been regularly visiting a particular beauty parlour for hair, facial, pedicure etc. And like most customers, my favourite was Gauri. With her easygoing manner, sympathetic demeanour and expert work she quickly made a place in my heart and stayed there. Till one day last year, she fell out with her employer and left. I missed her but like most clients anywhere, I slowly adjusted to a new girl who I felt was lacking in most skills and needed a lot of prodding from me to do things the way Gauri did. I had Gauri's cell number, but never had the time to give her a call and ask where she was.
Till today.....I saw headlines saying a beautician named Gauri was poisoned by her married lover and her body dumped somewhere. I was hoping it was not her because her age has been quoted as 22, and she was clearly on the other side of 30, till I saw the picture which bears startling resemblance to the Gauri I knew.
I paste below a weblink to the story:

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1090313/jsp/calcutta/story_10663516.jsp

I am still hoping against hope its not her. The picture looks like a younger version of her. Please God, let me be wrong this time.....

Saturday, 7 March 2009

The Alpha woman story

Here is a story I want my readers to complete as I myself don't know the end.

Once upon a time there was a girl named Alpha . She came from an all-girl family and her parents were strong individuals who brought up their daughters to be bold, independent, capable individuals. Feminine frailty, delicateness and incapability were words that did not exist in the family dictionary. Solid, grounded, no-nonsense were virtues that were worshipped.

Cut to marriage into a family where females were scarce. Women were seen not heard. Inability to cope, lack of intelligence and awareness were some of the qualities that were encouraged and appreciated in females.

The alpha girl naturally was confused. Coping in this planet was difficult terrain. She continued being her true self. Of taking pride in being able to juggle job, family, babies, responsibilities single-handedly. Always trying to show she was capable of handling all issues and problems (which were many and multifarious))...too proud to admit she needed help....But always believing it was her own incapabilities that led to the problems themselves (not true).

This led to chinks in her relationships. A case of drifting away. She was content with doing things her way. Life was separate compartments under the same roof.

Till one day, something changed. She met someone. Confident, older, strong and mature. Someone with a twinkle in his eye, a gentle voice, a caring nature and an arresting and comforting presence. It made her want to be a woman.....

Readers are welcome to continue with the way they want the story to end....Honestly, I don't know how to end it.

I look forward to hearing from you all... so stir your imagination, think and write back! This could be a good theme for a Mills & Boon story. Need to flesh it out more.
Will be back with more crazy ramblings. Till then, ramble on....

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Mixed musings

As I slowly settle back to life's mundanities after a hectic week of milad, mehendi, marriage, masti and magic, I feel blank but not stressed. Not exactly happy, but not unhappy too. Yes, I feel relieved to be back to my blog, my world, where my mind lives and resuscitates, rejuvenates and even, luxuriates at the thought of the way life could be, if I chose it. But do I have a choice? Or any choices left??

It was a week of hectic fun, of family reunions, meeting of old and new relationships, of galawat and tundey ke kebabs, of biryani and sheermal, jewellery and fine clothes, ghararas and sherwanis. A bout of resettling and illnesses later, I am back to my favourite place in the world's web space.

I met a lot of people who swear by certain cities and say so and so are their favourites cities... I wonder why? Lucknow is one of the most loved cities of people I know. Visiting the place was tinged with feelings fraught with stoicism. It is the city which has given me moments of intense despair and crumbling relationships, in a bygone era....so, despite the familial love and festivities, there were times when visting certain places was like opening old wounds..... yes, I am clinging to another pain body, which I had thought had disappeared from my psyche.....And yes, I refreshed the main pain body today, by going through the written evidences.....On a happier vein, some of the cities I like to visit are Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi. London, New York and Toronto are clear international favourites.

So much happened in the last one week. Daily festivities for three days, meeting so many people and yes, A R Rahman and others bagging the 8 Oscars for Slumdog Millionaire were some of the highlights to me. The best outcome of the Oscars being awarded to SDM is the fact the the two street children who acted in the movie were allotted government flats. Now that is what I call rags to riches. Why else do you think I still believe in miracles?

I also saw 'Billu'. All I can say is both the Khans in the movie just rock! I know this post seems quite disjointed...much like my thoughts at the moment. Too many people, too many things have led to a crowding of the mind. The brain needs to sift through the necessary and the unnecessary. Though the very necessary thoughts were always at the back of my mind, no matter how many people, how many thoughts. And these made me smile, sustain. More in the next post, which might be a poem, you never know....

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Shaadi ka laddoo

I won't be able to update my blog for a week. And that will make me miss my blog and all you gorgeous readers who make my day by reading it. I am off to Lucknow to a big, fat family wedding which seems straight out of Bollywood.

My cutest nephew in the world is the 'sona mundeya' who is tying the knot with his American girlfriend of five years who is an absolute sweetheart. The soni kudi will have 10 of her gori friends over, all in the heart of conservative, old world Lucknow. What fun! And I shall play the doting aunt to the hilt!

The mehendi, sangeet, manjha and DJ night are something that all the young ones are waiting with bated breath (not to forget the oldies....70 guests from the extended family) and everyone and her in-laws will be present.

But on a sober note..my heartfelt best wishes to the bridal pair for a long, happy and blissful wedded life, which is now so much a rarity.

Seriously, I feel Indian marriages are long, but may not be happy. To go in for a lifetime commitment, it is really for the lion-hearted to make a go of it.

My take on this is : Those who must marry must qualify for it. Pass an endurance test...for tolerance, patience, strength, disappointment...betrayal. Only after passing such a test, must they go in for the long haul, which may turn out to be a life sentence....certainly not for the faint hearted.

So I will be back after a week and do watch out for updates...Till then, I will miss you all. Till then dream on.....

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Happy despite everything

This post should be the most appropriate for today's zeitgeist. Depressed markets, pay cuts , eroded investments and pink slips'...we are learning to live with it.
Shahrukh came up with something original by saying : "Its not recession, it is a correction of figures"...this guy always come up with the unexpected...(now what did I say about the thinking woman's fantasy.?..Ok Ok will shut up!)
About two weeks back I came across this article which spelled out ways of becoming sunshine happy (what's that?). Its easier said than done, but give it a try, maybe it works. I know for a fact making up is irrevocable:
A flower crushed
A mirror broken
You cannot put the clock back...
But for die hard optimists it might help, so here goes and take a chance at being sunshine happy:
  • Dont label situations as good or bad
  • Empower yourself to be happy
  • Look within for happiness
  • Don't get affected by bad news
  • Choose your emotions. Keep saying 'I choose to be happy'.
  • Conserve your energy. Don't let people sap it.
  • If you're hurt, don't depend on anyone else to heal it
  • Don't indulge in hurt.
  • Don't be imprisoned in your past or have self-pity

All the above are so darned difficult. Have made several not-so-successful attempts. You have to school your thoughts and control them before you can do anything of the above. And the key to it is reading 'The Power of Now' by Eckhart Tolle.

Reading the book, I could identify with it so much. Especially the part where he talks about the 'pain body'. The same point which asks you not to indulge in hurt above.

I know for a fact that I nurture my pain body like a plant. I never allow it to heal or die. Even when I am relaxed, I go back and keep it alive in my mind by going through the written evidences which gave me so much pain in the first place. So much so, I cling to my pain body and will never let it go...My pain body is now me.

Affluenza

Now I am getting prolific...three posts in three days...not bad. Before I get caught up in the daily mundanities of life, here's one more from me. While I was into frenzied last minute shopping at the airport, my eye caught a catchy title at a bookstore called 'Affluenza' by Oliver James. I raced through the cover with the corner of my eye, trolley in tow and the latest edition of 'Hello' (UK) in hand to line up to the cashier. The book was about today's men and women and their constant craving for the 21st century trappings of wealth and power. I could either buy the book or miss my flight so I chose to be sensible. Whoever has read the book, please fill me in whether this is going to be a sensible buy. Reviews at Amazon say it is a let down, although it has a sexy title. So write in and let me know.....

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Dim sum days




My journey back was pleasant and as usual in Bangkok, many thought me to be a local and tried to speak in Thai...and I felt like a complete fool. Around 8 years back while en route to San Francisco, I was standing behind an abandoned counter at the Bangkok airport and was trying to settle my things, when suddenly I realised that a small queue of people holding their passports had materialised out of nowhere, thinking me to be part of the local ground staff. I could see my sis-in-law at a distance, almost rolling on the floor laughing at my chagrin while I explained I was a transitting passenger!
In my recent trip, I came across a few known and some little known facts and thought would share:
- Jimmy Choo shoes always have a red sole. If the soles are not red, they are NOT Jimmy Choos. (Sighhh..will I ever get my dainty feet into a pair?)
- All Louis Vuitton fakes are gone from Hong Kong's street markets. But you can get fake Burberrys and Guchhis.
-Most of Hong Kong's busy streets remind me of Time Square, New York.
-The Far Eastern music that blares from street corners is about the most soulful I have heard and can healthily compete with Middle Eastern melodies. Someone has so aptly said music has no boundaries.
-One tends to get ripped off by taxi drivers and restaurant staff in HK..so better watch out. Me and my colleagues almost were..
-I may have travelled across most major countries in the world, but the shadiest crowd is found in the Kolkata-Bangkok stretch. Yew! This is the third time I have travelled on this path and the crowd has never improved. I know I sound like a snob, but what to do. One has to call a spade a spade, na?

Friday, 6 February 2009

Hong Kong highs and lows

Now for some prose...Am taking a break from my dreamy, poetic self and in this post you shall find me at my usual prosaic and sometimes vitrilolic self (Wonder which is the real me? Me too!). I promise to be short because most people dont have an attention span of more than 500 words. And yea, I promise to post some nice pics in my next entry. While I wait for the airport coach to pick me up for the flight back home, I am sitting at the hotel's internet bar and keying in my HK memories while still fresh.

I don't want no freedom' ...George Michael's soulful voice sang. That was some years ago in my teens when we went ga-ga over the guy and his songs till it was discovered he was gay! But yes, my more knowledgeable friend those days, told me that this song was written for Hong Kong...about being included in the People's Republic of China and separated from the United Kingdom. I did'nt know whether to believe her and I still have doubts. But this thought definitely revisited me when an Indian colleague, a fresh joinee and a little wet behind the ears, remarked somewhat unpatriotically: "Imagine what would have happened if India would have got freedom forty years later, say in 1987? Would'nt India be like HongKong?

This remark hit me real bad. I was not even aware that a section of Indians would think like this. What has the youth come to? For me, family and friends it is very important to love one's country...Didn't we go crazy when Sania and Mahesh won the mixed doubles for Australian Open just a few days ago? And aren't we so very proud of our software industry and Bollywood and our Miss Worlds and Universes? I remember feeling real good when a British male colleague in London said he know where Kolkata was, because Bipasha Basu hailed from there!!!! giggle! giggle! but great!

Hitting HK was good. Excellent arrangements (Langham Place Hotel is a dream), rigorous training from world class trainers and fantastic networking opportunities from colleagues all over the Asia Pacific and Africa.

But I knew the drill...Desi and chinky babes doing their best to charm some of the Brit diplomats they had set their eyes on. It was almost laughable. Where was I? As usual, the amused spectator ME!

In the days of India 'mallicious mallisation', I had forgotten the joys of bargaining and street shopping (I did the brands here too...Zara, H&M and Esprit are the three guilty pleasures I fell for at the malls this time!). Kids things, muted gold shoes and a maroon and gold clutch purse ( for the forthcoming wedding....to go with my heavily embroidered bottle green and maroon sari and gold and maroon brocade blouse) were some lovely buys from a place aptly named Lady's Market at Mongkok.

And yes, the food. Steamed Bok Choi (green, green veggies) with plum sauce emerged a clear favourite. With such elaborate lunches and dinners, I tried to take the low carb route concentrating on the veggies and steamed chicken and not eating any carbs for two whole days.

But whatever, I still did not take to this place much. One week is ok for a visit but nothing more. I would prefer the UK anyday. The minute I land at Heathrow, I feel energised. I wonder how a cousin of mine has opted for permanent residency here and he has even started to look like a resident!!!. He is one of the most happening DJs in the club circuit here...imagine!! and he was busy with organising the HK Salsa Festival...but I gave it a miss.

But yes, it did feel good when yesterday a young Chinese girl at a shoe stall (where the gold shoes came from) told me "Thank you Miss India'. It was late evening and she hadn't sold a single pair all day...and yes, I did feel like Miss India, if only for that moment....

Please write in your comments and share your HK experiences with me. I have given all my readers enough food for thought. And hopefully will come back soon...and with the promised pics.
Love you..muah!