Tuesday, 30 November 2010

A birthday once more

This week will end with December 4, the day when I first met this world. This year has been uneventful. But it has calmed me down considerably. No significant achievements in personal or professional life except that it was a milestone. I became the mother of a college kid....

Say hello to the calm new me. The last one year has helped me grow up, manage my expectations, measure my joys and sorrows, balance the scales of my life. Some things are best left as they are. My new calmness should not be mistaken for lack of energy and passion which are hallmarks of my personality. Its just that the passion and energy are tamed to be utilised in the right channels. The result of this will take time to show. I still hate and love as passionately as before.

Today, I am not afraid of losing love, I am not insecure. I am no longer a crushed flower. I know I am me and nothing can change what I am. I shall not hanker for attention. I know my worth. And one thing is unchangeable...I recognise eternal love..it needs no relationship, not even frequent interactions. Its a permanent feeling..unchanging, no matter what the circumstances. Its not shallow or superficial. It has depth..of feeling and of caring. I know what I love and no one, not even the object of my affection should be involved. Love is freedom, a liberation..because you know you can always fall back on its subliminal feelings. Its unselfish and does not care about reciprocity. My love is my soulmate. Whether anyone agrees or not is immaterial.

All these thoughts have calmed me down. I have understood love that springs from the soul. There is no profit or loss in it.

Happy birthday to me!

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Autumnal reflections

'The only constant is change'....Heraclitus

My city was gripped by the Durga Puja fever, the sound of the dhak reverberated at every street corner, swelling retail footfalls, an air of anticipation engulfed my city....the festive season for me meant a break away from home...and the workplace which is increasingly going chameleonic. Huge budget cuts and uncertainty ('change' as it is fashionably called) make the workplace quite stressful. Every other day you bid farewell to a co-worker or one gets a goodbye email. The stress makes workers and colleagues complicated. They behave strangely. People feel persecuted and their behaviour makes others feel isolated. It becomes a vicious circle. But it was good to be away for 5 days at my sister's place at Bengaluru, the sexy destination in the Indian business lexicon. Weather was perfect, less of crowd and pollution and of course shopping...saris, salwar suits, table linen...the works!

My people observing skills were also put to good use. I watch couples closely and how they behave when the partner is around and how different they actually are when the other half is not around. In each others' presence they parrot and talk a common language and seem unrecognisable from their real selves. In the presence of the partner, they even start believing they think the same thoughts. So which is the real self...the one with the partner or the one without? Maybe the self which is more comfortable....

I love being the observer. I am the backroom girl....

Ciao till the next post...

Friday, 1 October 2010

In the name of God, have we come of age?

Its been such a long journey. I came back to humid, sultry, crowded Kolkata and have slowly got into my usual routine. But life is much lighter now. I now have to look after one child instead of two. That leaves a lot of time on my hands. And I brood, feel low and bounce back after conversations which make me feel special. Such is life.

Four things have happened since I came. Matinee idol Sallu bhai's latest offering 'Dabangg' crossed the earnings of '3 Idiots' one the first day itself. Its rambunctious item number 'Munni Badnaam Hui' has become the new national anthem and the pjs of the rocking Hindi heartland have become the talk of every conversation. But now its the turn of the iconic Southern idol Rajnikant's latest release 'Enthiran' in Tamil and 'Robot' in Hindi which has the makings of the biggest grosser in recent times.

But as I hung my head in shame with the filth and corruption associated with the CWG, I felt proud of the restraint my fellow brethren exercised after the verdict of the Allahabad High Court. ...Is the verdict going to be the turning point in India's democracy? Is the country now mature and restrained that we can proudly say we are a truly evolved population? Will Tagore's words 'Where the world has not been broken into fragments by narrow domestic walls' come finally true? Is the 8% and above GDP growth for the last so many years, now showing its real colours in a vibrant, restrained progressive population?

I hope I have not spoken too soon. Are we leaving a permanent tinder box, a mini-West Bank of Gaza in the heart of the country? We need to wait for the Supreme Court verdict. We have been prisoners of history. But this challenge could be a golden opportunity for us to break free....

Two more things: Riots do not happen in India, unless the political parties want them to and secondly I am happy to witness a silent revolution among the brethren in my community. The community of 1992 is no longer visible. Even the ghettos are talking progress. Young women are getting educated,independent and choosing their own husbands. Milads and majlis are now less about faith but more about connecting and networking. Aspirations and competition in the generation next seems palpable. They have more 'constructive' things to bother about rather than building a place of worship.

On this postive note I close this blogpost. But please take a look at the picture. Some may find it pseudo secularist...but I can relate to it. The heart has no religion. Love has no faith. True friendships have foundations in absence of fear and firm understanding.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna - Tumhi Dekho Na (with lyrics)

No idea why I suddenly remembered this song...one of my favourites. Train station scenes always strike a chord...

Monday, 9 August 2010

For whom the bells toll

I have always felt that I was not born into my current faith in my previous lives. I cannot relate to the various interpretations of my faith at all. In its pure form it is a good faith. It has the same tenets as most religions. However, it has a tendency to be chameleonic...it takes on the local hue of its location. So pure faith intermingled with various tribal, local, archaic customs becomes ominous and today it is infamous in this ominous, intolerant form. One thing that mortifies me more than its intolerance to my gender is the intolerance to non-believers. Its almost as if non-believers are non-humans. And of course the hypocrisy and double-standards of its custodians....

I have this uncanny affinity to bells. So, was it temples or churches? Only a past life exploration may hold some explanation. I even have a ear for bells ringing. In songs, in the wilderness, I can catch the sound of the tolling bell.

Brass, silver, procelain, all kinds....I have a bell from every part of the world I have visited. My sister got me a Swiss cow bell which I never had. Now I want another one....with a typical colourful Swiss strap as I don't have one. I have a collection of small bells hanging from my ceiling. A large Chinese bell from Shanghai hangs near my doorway. Christmas bells are a must during the festival. A lovely brass bell got stolen from my house recently.

Every time a a bell rings, my soul recognises it. Whatever for?

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Today's tarot

Queen of Cups
A woman capable of deep romantic love. A passionate woman in the creative arts. A woman who leads first with her heart and then her head. Love for one's mate and children Sense of protectiveness for friends and loved ones. Dedication. A woman in search of a long-term commitment. An attractive woman. Creative arts and alchemy. A loyal woman on your side.

Now, who does this remind you of?

Monday, 2 August 2010

Immaculate 'Inception'

Its been ages since I raved about any movie. No, 'Slumdog Millionaire' was not good enough, nor was 'Black' or even maybe 'Titanic'. One movie on the top of my list is 'Inception'. Anyone who has seen it has not quite recovered from it.

As for me...well, as most of my readers know, I love to dwell on the fringes of the subconscious, soul and dreams, capture activities that occur in the twilight zone, between sleep and wakefulness, between life and death...

But what I got in the movie was nothing that I had bargained for...a complete 'out of the box' in fact, 'out of the mind' thinking. No, no I am not giving the story away! But terms like 'extraction', 'paradox', 'eternal staircase' and of course 'inception' acquire a whole new meaning.

Brace yourself for more...vertical dreaming...dream within a dream within a dream and lateral dreaming..group of people (as many as five people) dreaming the same dream. And people being trained to protect their dreams from invasion......a new dimension in corporate espionage!! whew!

The movie, a complete work of fiction, helps you put one's dreams in perspective. Put names to occurences in dreams and so forth..

What more can I say? it is criminal to not watch this one.....

Friday, 23 July 2010

Soul Song..an all time favourite...

Here are the lyrics

Ever and ever, forever and ever, you'll be the one
That shines on me like the morning sun
Ever and ever, forever and ever, you'll be my spring
My rainbow's end and the song I sing
Take me far beyond imagination, you're my dream come true, my consolation
Ever and ever, forever and ever, you'll be my dream, my symphony
My own lover's theme
Ever and ever, forever and ever, my destiny will follow you eternally
Take me far beyond imagination, you're my dream come true, my consolation
Ever and ever, forever and ever, you'll be the one
That shines on me like the morning sun
Ever and ever, forever and ever, my destiny will follow you eternally

Makes a lot of sense to me. And to you...?

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Today's quote

A really powerful one which I stumbled upon on FB.


Monday, 12 July 2010

Guys getting real

First of all, I am relieved that the FIFA Cup is over....At least I will get more frequent eyeballs on this blog which I have been missing for some time. And guys, please leave some comments. I would love to know your thoughts on what I am writing. Come on, don't be shy, but take your time....

I recently read an article called 'Real Heroes' and what attracted me to reading it was the fact that all the opinions were given by Indian women authors and the fact that most of them were around my age category intrigued me..

Some of the quotes I agree with are:

A man who can laugh at himself is dead sexy.
A guy who listens is great--but rare, if not mythical.
A good looking man is nice for 10 minutes. Then what?
More than looks, confidence attracts a woman.

And last but not the least

The Total Package

Intelligence, the ability to have a conversation, a sense of humour, a listener. He should also hold the promise of a decent life. If he's handsome, its great and if he can dance, better.

I would add humility and exude a sense of power to that...and of course well-dressed!

Friday, 9 July 2010

Random reflections

I am happy this week is coming to an end and am gearing up for a getaway in the weekend. Nothing special, but yes, with the family...quality time. There are times I feel anything is better than staying home and being mired in the weekend routine....cleaning the house, spying corners with forgotten dirt and cobwebs, stocking up the kitchen and fridge, settling the odds and ends, changing linen and curtains, vacuuming the place and a zillion other things.

Actually I realised my job isn't too bad. Everyday I am onto something new. The sectors I handle gives me the variety my restless self craves for. Just last week, I met the chief of a large film production and music company, a brilliant scientist who is the inventor of the Intel web cam, a director who has produced two vernacular award winning films, a fiesty woman entrepreneur who produces eco-friendly material and so on. Which other job can get you to meet such a mixed palette of clients? And each one of them is so different from the other. And I am the common thread through all of them....

But besides the job, one is not happy with policies of the powers that be. Around 27 jobs have been made redundant. You see people with lost jobs but smiling faces on the corridors. My department is not under the ambit of the cut. But it could be only a matter of time.

But before such time comes, I would have delved into my inner strengths and resources to make my life less dependent on the marketplace and more reliant on my inherent abilities.

I have been prolific lately. Writing is the best catharsis for me and I am so glad I know it.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Defining the inexplicable

Love can have 2 absolutely different meanings. Love as a 'relationship' becomes a bondage as there are expectations and demands. When love becomes a 'state of being', one is simply loving, not creating a relationship out of it. It does not ask you to be in a certain way. It demands nothing, It simply shares. The sharing itself is the reward. Then it has a beauty, for only then has it become something of the divine - Tao

Knowing your worth and moving on

If you love something
Set it free
If it comes back to you, it is yours
If it does not, it was never meant to be...

Simple words, but difficult to follow. Analyse these four lines and you come up with a different perspective. Your object of affection is not worth it, realise your own worth and move on, is a more brutal way of looking at issues that occupy matters of heart and soul.

We tend to cling to relationships. Even though we don't want to understand where we stand. We get taken lightly, not receive our due, are taken for granted but yet we carry on sweeping the dust under the carpet. We do it in the name of love, we leave our egoes behind, we lose our rationality, only to realise after it is too late and we hve done considerable damage to our psyche.

I have decided to now take charge of myself. Plan my future and be myself, not be a victim to whims and moods, market uncertainties and job pressures. Book project and consultancies seem high on the horizon. I have to keep reinventing possible futures to choose from. And I must do it without distractions....

So miles to go before I sleep?

Friday, 2 July 2010

Existentialism and romance

As people grow older, they tend to become more traditional in their thoughts and action, tend to do conformist stuff and fit in, if not for themselves but for the children. They mouth the same jargon that their parents or even grand parents said because it is becoming and expected.

But for some reason, this is not happening with me. Since I was barely out of my teens my thoughts have been rebellious, against sterotypes, questioning roles and expectations. While I was brought up to be independent, even existentialist in my thoughts, the dilemma was strong in my parents generation. I toed the traditional line, not because I wanted to, but my love for my parents far outweighed ny rebellious streak. The fear of hurting them was paramount on my mind and therefore I followed what was expected of me, unquestioningly. As a result, I bottled up my thoughts, thought of all my real troubles as imagined and went about life as if there was nothing wrong.

This was perhaps the beginning of my living in two parallel universes...one the real world and its relationships and the other my imagined preferred planet, where my existentialist ideas coexisted with my creativity...going always for the sensitive, unspoken, underlying ideas..so much so that I am now a closet poetess and exactly two people in the world know about this talent of mine.

And recently I learnt a very simple lesson in English literature. Why do most fairy tale romances start with 'Once upon a time' and end with 'happily ever after'? Simple, unlike real life incidents they do not have a sense of time and place. Actually therefore, romance does not exist in the real world. Pragmatism is fine with me day to day, but what about my existentialist, make believe universe?

I hope this makes some sense to my readers....

Peter Sarstedt - Where Do You Go To My Lovely (1969)

One of my best loved songs of all times....

Today's tarot card reading

Here's today's reading for me...

King of Swords
An articulate and intellectual man who is very capable in leading others in business and life. A mentor or elder statesman. This man is a good politician as well as a good candidate for the priesthood. Possessing a Solomon-like wisdom and commanding authority. A man of high moral standards and principles. This is someone you can trust in all things. A rule follower. Committed to the greater good of all.

....Hmmmm...Sounds familiar..

Friday, 25 June 2010

Perfect Relationships

This week opened beautifully with a call from a very dear friend. These interactions make me light-hearted, smiling and relaxed. Is it possible for one person to be the cause of such pure joy to another? From a bundle of stressed nerves and stretched muscles during the weekend, (I had to cook for an army of uninvited guests for Sunday lunch) I transformed to a happy, loosed-limbed creature Monday afternoon. So, can relationships be perfect? Of course, as long as they are in the mind, and in this case, mine....Friends are generic, even random. But special friends are few and sometimes only one, who can make you feel this way.

Mid-week I saw the movie 'Raavan', much-hyped by the media, but bamboozled by critcs. Breathtaking visuals and mesmerising beauty made the movie a must-watch. The theme seemed loose and the bad guy looked funny and unconvincing. And I could detect a familiar, brooding quiet evil in the supposed good guy....

The movie is a satire on the original epic. It shows there is no good or evil, but shades of grey. Establishment vs outlaw...who is less evil, is the question..

This goes to show we really need to have a religion for humans, not ones which want men and women to resemble and behave like Gods. Garv se kaho hum insaan hain!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Welcome to the future

'Mama', said my younger daughter 'I really have to prepare for the conference. My travel papers are ready but I am still waiting for my inter-satellite visa confirmation'.

I looked up slowly from my laptop, silver hair tied in a bun. I had gained 20 kgs since my last blog post in 2010 and turned slowly to look at my 39-year old younger offspring.

Life thirty years after did not make much sense. I still wonder whether I am hallucinating or whether the strong anti-oxidants with which I spike my own system to develop immunity against a series of diseases had turned me into a crazily preserved heritage piece.

'Mama, you're not listening to me. As usual you are caught in some faraway world of yours. This time I am reading an advanced paper on how subtle alterations in the human body could be made to respond to climatic and space changes, enabling mankind to survive the harshest of weathers and most toxic of chemicals. This piece of research is explosive. Aliens from all over the galaxy will follow suit. This time, the conference is truly inter-galactic', she explained patiently.

My younger daughter was always a stick of dynamite. Ever since I took her for the sound and light programme of a planetarium in my modest city, there has been no looking back. Having graduated in space science and after a twenty-year stint at NASA she has come back to her home country as today it is the foremost nation in blue sky research.

'And yes,' she continued, 'this time we are travelling in style. We are using a new spacecraft that can gobble up millions of light years in a split second,' she continued breathlessly, trying on the fancy buckle of her space suit, which was a new creation by her favourite designer. The mother of pearl buckle was an added embellishment to her smart and hassle-free well-cut space suit. Matching accessories and shoes were being tossed around in a frenzy as she twisted and turned her unruly curls to a more systematic style.

Welcome to the future. These are my little flights of fancy of what would happen thirty years hence. I may be totally wrong. Maybe this is wishful thinking. Maybe it will be a reality. But for the moment, it sounds good.

Let me live the moment.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Showers of blessing

The heavens opened up at last and the first drops of rain fell on the parched earth and cooled the boiling air....And with the falling raindrops I have found my words back...each word, a drop falling into this blog, my ocean of feelings and innermost thoughts.

The last week has been hectic yet deeply fulfilling. Her student visa is to be collected on Monday and the visa officer who scrutinised her documents surprised her by saying he knew me....strange..I didnt not know him, but on investigation found he had stamped my visa to Japan, around 12 years ago....

My daughter was quite impressed and I very embarassed when my colleagues ribbed me of having a recall value which spanned 12 years!! The diplomatic mission where I work has become a second home to my daughters. They drop in and out of it and that is their comfort zone. And not to forgot the gorgeous hot chocolate they get from the instant coffee machine.

Last week was of intense dreams, very symbolic. I had met my school best friend Ruby after 25 years, as we had left our school and gone to different cities after Class X. She is now based in the US and had come to town for her parents' golden jubilee celebrations. So much had happened in these years but we bonded and unloaded our lives to each other. She was always the practical one between the two of us...I the more dreamy and perceptive. She counselled me and asked me not to distract myself after illusions but to focus on real things that touch my everyday life. Will I take her advice? I shall not be me if I stop dreaming. And I have not neglected my everyday routine. Maybe I did not make myself completely clear?

After I met her and the day my daughter's visa interview went off successfully, I dreamt that I was in the US in my friend's house and we were cooking. She had asked me to prepare 'gaajar ka halwa' a sumptuous North Indian sweet dish, a must after winter dinners. And while I was making it, grated carrots, sugar, milk et al, I suddenly found myself adding vanilla, flour, cream and whisking it to a fine dough! She asked me what the hell was I doing and I told her the halwa had turned into a carrot cake dough!!

I then put it into the oven and baked it and it turned out to be a fine carrot cake! On waking I tried to analyse the dream, and felt the only explanation would be that while I had brought up my daughter as an Indian kid, she is now poised for Americanisation. How much more symbolic can a dream get?

So sweetheart, tell me your dreams....

Monday, 7 June 2010

The King and Four Wives

I came across this story and thought my readers may like to read this one....Its soul again.....

Once upon a time there was a rich king who had four wives. He loved the fourth wife the most and adorned her with rich robes and treated her to the finest delicacies. He gave her nothing but the best.

He also loved the third wife very much and showed her off to neighboring kingdoms. However, he feared that one day she would leave him for another.

He also loved his second wife. She was his confidante and she was always kind, considerate and patient with him. Whenever the king faced a problem, he could confide in her to help him get through the difficult times.

The king's first wife was a very loyal partner and had made great contributions in maintaining his wealth and kingdom. However, he did not love the first wife but although she loved him deeply, he hardly took notice of her.

One day, the King fell ill and he knew that his time was short. Thus, he asked the 4th wife, "I have loved you the most endowed you with the finest clothing and showered great care over you. Now that I'm dying, will you follow me and keep me company?"

"No way!" replied the 4th wife and she walked away without another word.

Her answer cut like a sharp knife right into his heart.

The sad king asked the third wife, "I have loved you all my life. Now that I'm dying, will you follow me and keep me company?"

"No!" replied the 3rd wife. "Life is too good! When you die, I am going to remarry!"

His heart sank and turned cold.

He then asked the 2nd wife, "I have always turned to you for help and you've always been there for me. When I die, will you follow me and keep me company?"

"I'm sorry, I can't help you out of this time!" replied the 2nd wife. "The very most, I can only send you to your grave."

Her answer came like a bolt of thunder and the King was devastated.

Then a voice called out: "I'll leave with you and follow you no matter where you go."

The king looked up and there was his first wife. She was so skinny, because she suffered from malnutrition. Greatly grieved the King said, "I should have taken better care of you when I had a chance!"

Our 4th wife is our BODY. No matter how much time and effort we lavish in making it look great, it'll leave us when we die.

Our 3rd wife is our POSSESSIONS, STATUS and WEALTH. When we die, it will all go to others.

Our 2nd wife is our FAMILY and friends. No matter how much they have been there for us, the furthest they can stay by us is up to the grave.

Our 1st wife is our SOUL, often neglected in pursuit of wealth, power and pleasures of the ego. However, our Soul is the only thing that will follow us wherever we go. So cultivate, strengthen and cherish it now! It is your greatest gift to offer the

Friday, 14 May 2010

So true

"Friends are like the walls of a house. Sometimes they hold you up, sometimes you lean on them. But sometimes, it's enough to know they're just standing by!"....I can relate to this for a special someone..

And the best one so far...

'Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same......'

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Appreciation therapy

This blogpost is quite random...The last week was packed with activity...work of course, preparing for an outreach event in Guwahati (groan). Never been there, but I am told its a sleepy old town in the north east of India. Wonder what business opportunities we are going to get? But since the leadership wanted a visit, so be it...

The next item on the agenda was the dilemma...my daughter was caught between where to go for undergrad studies...Iowa or Maryland? Have been scouting for visa information, bank statement and proof of funds organised and sent to the universities and now awaiting the eligibility certificate from one of the two...phew, quite a whirl. The greatest negative side effect was that I could not concentrate on my book. But yes, I have done the outlines of 4 of the six stories...so that takes care of the plots. But what else can an almost single mother do, who is a perfectionist? I hate micro managing and micromanagers, but my daughter is convinced i have an OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) which is definitely an exaggeration on her part!

A large part of my time was also spent shopping for my daughter....clothes, clothes and more clothes. The boutiques have been doing brisk business on me and my daughter just got lucky...jeggings, tights, shrugs, tops, denims skirts ...mostly in plain solid colours like purple, bottle green, navy blue. Some pinks and reds too. Tall at almost 5'5", my daughter looks striking (touch wood) I am a proud mother, though I dont show it and she thinks I am her greatest critic.

There is another person whose greatest critic I am and that is I, me, myself. I am alarmed at the rate I am putting on weight. Almost two kilos in two months. So now its going to be back to no carb lunches every alternate day. Steamed veggies, salads, fruits and no chocolates for a month. Although there has been no let up in my walks and work outs, it is the intake that needs to be curtailed. Must nix this hand and mouth disease at the root.

And last, it was such a wonderful feeling when I helped out the daughter of someone who is so dear to me with some useful information. It was a small help, but the appreciation I got for it is incomparable to anything other appreciation I have ever received. Indeed the joy of helping springs from the appreciation you receive for doing it. This appreciation, so genuine and heartfelt is precious and is going to live in me forever. It makes me feel so good to myself. I helped someone, but in the process, I helped myself. It felt like much needed therapy.

Can I ever thank the Almighty enough for giving me a bit of heaven on earth?

Monday, 19 April 2010

Spring cleaning

In India there is no such thing as spring. Four months of winter and nature loses no time in switching on the summer button. And this year, it has switched on the hi-heat button and things are melting and wilting all around me. Well, this post is not about the weather alone. (Most people talk about the weather when they have nothing else to speak about, but in these days of climate change, plenty to speak about...!)

This weekend I was doing some much needed sprucing up of the house. New curtains ordered, with some new upholstery thrown in. Great new bed linen in black and white, so soothing during the summer.

My daughter got involved in cleaning out the shelves with me, sorting, tossing and throwing useless stuff. She is a thrower, while my hubby is a stower and me somewhere in between. So my judgement was needed in what to keep and what to throw. She connected with so may forgotten childhood stuff. A pair of ghungroos(anklets with bells) when she went for Kathak classes when she was tiny, laminated pictures of her as a baby with Mother Teresa blessing her, odds and ends, each of which had a story behind it. She will be carrying the anklets and the Mother's pictures with her to University this fall.

While I was much into the heat and dust of the cleaning, I came across several photographs of myself in various stages in the last twenty years, most of which were spent in anguish, loneliness and betrayal. Its uncanny, but I did not want to keep any of the photographs which reminded me of the times that have passed. Is it possible to slice off a large portion of the past and survive? Vacuum out the muck and purge your soul? May be an unpleasant past has taught me to sift through life and identify people, places, activity which make me happy?

You can spring clean your house, but can you spring clean your life?

Friday, 16 April 2010

The North and South of it

Media frenzy caught up with me last week and day before when I was in Delhi, I was still switching channels in my hotel room, with my eyes leaden with sleep. Every channel had the same story....Modi-Tharoor face-off. Quite a potboiler....money, power, fame, corruption and of course muck and sleaze. I must say the minister's lady love is quite a stunner. Yet another North beauty smitten by a suave, powerful South-Indian man.....Quite a Kashmir to Kanyakumari story, this....

I believe, men from the north of India and the south of India come from different planets. My few close north Indian friends married to Southern men swear by their choices. Apparently these guys are programmed differently...to better understand, appreciate, humour and manage relationships, which their north Indian brethren seem remotely related to. Well, I would'nt know about this, obviously. And good for my friends...sigh!

I was on an overnight trip to Delhi for an annual meeting of the core group I belong to, and was pleasantly surprised to find I had been upgraded to the executive suite of the Taj Mahal (previously Taj Mansingh) in New Delhi. That was really the high point!

And while I pored through scores of latest fiction at the airport book stores both in Kolkata and Delhi, I resisted my buying urges...I have imposed an embargo on myself...not to read any fiction till I complete my book. A tough one, it certainly is, but I don't want to colour my writings or get influenced by other writers that would mar my originality. This seems egoistic, but this leads to hard work. No wonder Shobhaa De says book writing is a grunt job, not an ego trip. I shall have to spend nights mulling over my ideas, desperately imagine conversations and settings, twists and turns of plots, balancing melodrama with restrained writing. God help me!

At this stage however, I think I am ready. I hope this will stop me thinking about impossible things all the time......

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

From the heart

Came across some good quotes o twitter and FB.

'Does love really exist or is it just an illusion in our mind? A feeling of comfort for oneself?'

'Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced'....Keats

'I've stopped fighting my inner demons. We're on the same side now'

'There should be a better way to start a day than waking up every morning.'

And the best one yet:)

'They call our language the mother tongue because the father seldom gets to speak.'

Thursday, 8 April 2010

A body of evidence

The past one week has been distracting. My trip to Ajmer and Lucknow were satisfying. I have prayed to my heart's content at the place I love and even visited Bada Imambara in Lucknow and said a few prayers. Something I have never done in Lucknow. Strangely I am gravitating towards spirituality at a rate, quicker than ever.

However, the entire trip was interspersed with sensational media reports of the Sania-Shoaib impending marriage and his first marriage to Ayesha or 'Maha Apa' who he referred initially to as elder sister.

In this chequered story of love, deceit and betrayal, my heart goes out to India's poster girl Sania who stood up for the truth and her man's integrity when all he did the next day was to own up marrying the poor fat girl and divorcing her all under the threat of arrest. The story dipped to its lowest when the girl produced incriminating evidence that the two had shared bodily fluids and her abortion. Gawd, how low can a man get? Such creeps should be recognised a mile away and warded off like dangerous insects.

It raises important questions about the man's integrity. He is supposed to be a national hero across the border having led the national cricket team for some time. But most of us today see him as a double faced villain. If I were Sania, I would run away as far as I could from this charlie.....

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Aal Eezz Welll...Not completely..

The last week was a mixed one. Ups and downs but not all that bad. Grade XII exams are so far so good. The brightest spot was the video of my new infant grand niece, gurgling and cooing at her mom. Could be the cutest and sweetest video in the world. This baby is special....She is my sister's dream come true, a dream which became a reality only after the deadly cancer took my sister to death's door.

So my journey during the Easter break is going to be very mixed. The joy of seeing the little one, intertwined with the emptiness of my departed sister's house. It will be difficult to see the bed where she once lay, her purse, her sunglasses, clothes, shower cap, dressing table with her cosmetics, her slippers....Gosh, its going to be harder than I thought.

But there is joy in shopping for her grandchild...clothes, bibs, rattles, teether, medicine feeder, ethnic baby clothes, fancy party baby wear... I've bought them all and not to forget the tiny gold earrings for the miniscule shell pink ears...:))Needless to say, my daughters are thrilled at becoming aunties for the first time and have pointedly written so, on the gift cards.

Easter break will also take me to the place where I love to be...my haven of hope, peace and even miracles...the mazhar at Ajmer Sharif, the resting place of Khwaja Moinudeen Chisti, where devotees from all over the world, irrespective of religion, caste and creed converge to pray for their loved ones and themselves. The prayer itself is for God, but we request the soul of the Khwaja to join us in our prayers. A great line from one of the devotional songs at the mazhar....'Maula, maula, maula mere maula, marammat muqaddar ki dar de maula'...(Meaning ...God please repair my fate). See, ultimately, its all about the soul.

Steeped in sufism, the place exudes universal love and transcends all barriers created by man. I just love being there. I shall go twice to the mazhar during this visit.

On the down side, the week was marred by a client who runs a phony company in the neighbouring state and is a political strongman. An obvious fake, who runs several shady businesses now wants to get into an immigration racket under the garb of investments. Obviously I have seen through the game and have gone completely slow on it. This has resulted in repeated nasty, hostile emails from this character. I have apprised my bosses accordingly and of course, they are on my side. While the emails are rather annoying, it takes more than some shady bloke make me lose my sleep.

So maybe aall eezzz not wellll....but it is as well as well can be!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

I love this song and video

Takes me back to my trips to Cambridge...lovely...
And the lyrics are just awesome!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Gender Bender

I think I have this uncanny ability to be the universal agony aunt for most of my ilk. I ran into an old acquaintance during the Prince's visit. She heads a PR firm here and I have know her for long since my media days. After the initial hi, she took me aside and told me she was in deep personal problems. She walked out on her husband of 27 years recently and moved in with the man she loved. Her 23-year old son was right behind her, supporting her and her aged mother too and all of them had moved in with this man in her life. She said she had tolerated 27 abusive years and her son gave her the strength and confidence to take the final step. Strange, but an unusual story. You would expect the husband to be abusive to her, maybe physically and mentally cruel to her in a way most husbands are. But this guy was a different ball game. He was abusive to himself when things went wrong between them. He would hurt himself, scrape his entire hand with a knife, burn himself with cigarette butts just to punish her. It must have been hell for the poor woman. When I sympathised with her, she dissolved into tears, something which seemed strange for a woman who I envisioned always to be strong and in command. The husband now had a new fixation...he would take new cell numbers unknown to her and make threatening sms to her throughout the night. She was at her wits' end.

She is the new addition to my ever expanding circle of separated-divorced-unhappy-independent-strong-women friends.

Since this is a gender-specific post, I thought I will put down some thoughts on the 33% reservation of women in the Indian parliament. To me, this is meaningless. In one stroke, the government has created a large votebank, across caste and religion. Ironically the muslims want to extract their pound of flesh by agitating for further reservation within the 33% quota.

This reminds me of Tagore's line in his poem 'Where the mind is without fear'....'Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls'. Reservation has done exactly what he feared...and our world is further broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls, more vested interests and less unity. I fail to understand what is so 'positive' about this kind of discrimination. Moreover, it would hurt my pride to win an election through a quota. So it impinges on the self-respect of women.

The only way to help the women in this country is to create enabling conditions for girls. If there has to be reservation for women, it must be done for girls at the primary and secondary school level in remote villages. So that they too get a chance for decent education along with their brothers. The disease has to be dealt with by striking at the roots and not trying out half-baked remedies at a superficial level. Only one thing that has surprised me, albeit in a pleasant way is the 15-year time frame for this reservation. Whatever desirable social change has to be effected, it should come within this period. A good thing, but lacks measurement of success tools.

However, being a fan of Sonia Gandhi, I am happy for her. After all, this is her master stroke against the Opposition and may do a world of good to the flagging popularity popularity of her party against the backdrop of price rise and rampant inflation.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Travel, trivia and a royal visit

Why does a raven seem like a writing desk?....this does not make sense but a question which the mad hatter keeps asking Alice throughout the movie, one of the best 3D movies of our time. How I loved all the characters....the Smiling Cat, the Blue Caterpillar, the Queen of Hearts and of course Alice herself. The Mad Hatter's Tea Party was intriguing and so was the rabbit who seemed even more insane than Hatter himself. Loved the way this story ended. All about slaying your demons and deciding your fate and future. Aaah lovely, and anyone who does not like this movie??? Well....Off with their heads!!

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The last three weeks have been hectic with travel to Dhaka and a serious viral infection which put me out of action for almost a week. Dhaka reminded me of Calcutta perhaps 20 years back...unending traffic snarls and frequent power cuts, ramshackle buses and taxis. However, the city had several pluses. People were gracious, more polite, almost affectionate and definitely better looking than their cousins across the border. Women specially were neat and trim packages, dainty, impeccably dressed, pretty features and carried themselves well. Quite a few of them had light coloured eyes, something which I adore. The best part about the place was the food and fabric. Food which made me break my vegetarian vow and I feasted on the gorgeous meat khichri, hilsa jhaal, and hilsa pulao, come of which I even carried home. The hotel we stayed at was to die for....Platinum Suites in downtown Dhaka where each room is a luxurious suite with the plushest of settings. The high point of the place were the lovely Jamdani sarees which I carried back home and a shop called Aarong was a favourite haunt to buy sarees, bed and table linen, leather stuff and Dhaka pearls. All together a beautiful time at Opar-e-Bangla.

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Last week rounded off with the official visit of a British royal, the best looking son of the Queen. I especially liked the way he walked with a swagger and carried his height and weight so well. Quite a royal bearing and great balance between seriousness and joviality. Made working on the royal visit a real pleasure.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Pace and space

Its been a never ending roll...a hectic three-day visit to Dhaka, back home grounded with a severe infection and fever (I cannot recall a more runny nose in my life)with a mother of all colds which refuses to go even after 10-12 days. Has thrown my schedule off gear and have been laid up at home for four days. Life still not on track. To top it, am handling an official royal visit, grade XII boards exams for my elder one, the dad of my kids now assumed an all-important position in the state to combat its enemies and my ageing mum with a debilitating shoulder pain.

So what does an overworked-ill-single-mother-of-a-teen-taking-the-boards write?

Plenty I guess.

But strangely its life as usual to me. I was quite oblivious to my unenviable state till my sister pointed it out to me. But does it affect me? Not in the slightest, I guess. I have ceased to take the day to day pressures into my system and have, I guess, become used to life's little drills.

Only thing I regret is that my book has not got conceptualised as yet. I need peace, space and stillness within me to plan it out. The time is yet to come. Only God knows when the time will come, but it will, from within me. Once I have collected all I have to give to the book.

So help me dear God....

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Quote of the day

This is what I came across recently....lovely

Giving someone all your love is never an assurance that they will love you back. Don’t except love in return, just wait for it to grow in their hearts. But, if it doesn’t, be content it grew in yours.

Friday, 5 February 2010

The Enigmatic Emotion

February is supposed to be the month of love, ever since Valentine's Day became one of the most commercially profitable days for retailers. Cashing in on love, the oft corrupted, oft overrated concept still remains a four-letter word, a convenient excuse, a selfish and possessive concept and in short an enigmatic emotion.

I still have not come close to understanding it. But would like to believe:

1. It springs from the soul.

2. May mean appreciation, not necessarily reciprocation.

3. Its all about respecting the other person.

4. Not demanding or possessive.

5. Does not stifle.

6. Does not want to change the other person.

7. Understanding and adjustment, not compromise.

8. Trust and complete transparency.

9. Lying and hypocrisy completely unacceptable.

10. Pure joy and happiness.

Difficult, idealistic and you may come across the right person pretty late in life. Not a happy situation to be in. Sigh, such is life.

Warm days, cold evenings

Its been a long week, a blend of work, commitments and socialising. And yes, I did get a bit extravagant and bought a Ritu Kumar outfit just for a lark. But its quite flattering and makes me look good (a little narcissism does'nt hurt at all!). Its a black and red affair, with signature Ritu's embroideries and motifs and a very imaginative cut.

It was an impulsive buy as I had to go to a new restaurant opening. A north Indian food joint in the heart of the city's largest mall. Great ambience...loved the carved wood foliage interior design and Indian jhoola (swing) style chairs. Carefully decided menu, fine wines and the best grills served by silent, thoughtful waiters and waitresses was a good way to wind down.

Dinner included a conversation with one of the country's foremost newspaper barons. Must admit, he had very stark views bordering on the bizarre, which seemed too out of the box and especially crafted for effect. But what struck me as unacceptable, was an extreme regional chauvinism rooted in arrogance, a deliberate dismissal (read rubbishing) of anything that the other person may hold culturally and linguistically dear. Well, I was not at the receiving end, but felt appalled at being able to see myself tolerating this nonsense meted out to the next person on the table.

The spectre lurked under several layers of sophistication. Well, it takes all types to make this world, I told my disullisioned self and sometimes, your illusions crash when you become too good a listener. But a learning experience nevetheless about the country's movers and shakers who cannot look beyond their fish and rice (ironically that was not part of the menu! Ha! ha!). This could be great fodder to my imagination while writing my book.

The weather is still cold as I spent a few evenings at the Cricket and Football Club lawns and invariably I would forget to take my jacket/wrap and would spend a large part of my time shivering the evening away. My mum nags me to take more care of myself....a tall order when you have to take care and responsibility of others around you....

More in my next post.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Whose environment is it anyway?

I live in an upmarket Kolkata locality, in a flat apartment of 8 houses where families of senior bureaucrats live. Last 20 years I have been appalled at the easy lifestyle and luxury that my brethren have led, but what I see now is enough to bring anyone to apoplectic rage.

Our building recently had a makeover. Most expensive marble was laid on the staircase, lot of beautification on the outside, with landscaping, coloured sandstone and marble motifs on the wall. The walls on every floor had a fresh coat of plastic paint.

The plumbing was overhauuled, the windows repaired, and as a result the building looks beautiful and gleaming.

But every evening as I leave for my evening jog or morning as I leave for office, my heart sinks....

The new plan has two electric bulbs on each floor. Each of the floors are small and have two large flats facing each other. One bulb would do...no, but some nitwit has decided that there will be two bulbs on each of the four floors. All the bulbs are kept on 24x7. I make it a point to switch off all the bulbs as I get in and out of the building during the day and extra bulbs during the night. We have police guards outside the gates, so we do not need bulbs shining all night on all the floors. However, this has not been take kindly by the inmates of our building and needless to say, I am not one of the popular people who lives here.

Secondly, the plastic wrappings of all the cement bags and other equipment packagings are piling up everyday and they look as if they are here to stay. I have asked the secretary of the building to send them to a recycling plant, but the pile seems to have been left untouched since the past month.

I am planning to take this up seriously or inform an activist group to come and do the needful. I am quite laid back otherwise but to see such blatant rape of the neighbourhood environment makes my hackles rise.

We are supposed to be the so-called enlightened members of the society, the opinion makers and implementers of policy for the nation. If we don't lead by example, then God save the environment.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Hue and View

Last week I woke up to find most of my girlfriends having a colour as their status on Facebook. Perplexed, I thought it must be the colour of their moods...however the next day newspapers carried a story on how someone had thought of a new way to promote breast cancer awareness by just mentioning the colour of a certain part of the lingerie....

This complete poverty of imagination must have come from some airhead who fancies herself to be a marketing guru. What's colour of the lingerie got to do with awareness about the deadly disease? This was supposed to be a girlie thing and no man was supposed to know what it meant. Sure enough it was all over the papers and obviously the men on FB understood what the colours were all about. Covert titillation? (no pun intended!)

I do sound very old-fashioned, but it surely beats my imagination to talk about something that is so private so openly. Talk about exibitionism....I was quite amazed to find women of all ages...coming out with the colour of the ahem, unknown, while the men on FB had the time of their lives reacting, responding and commenting on the colours the next day. Found the whole idea very cheap and what may have started with noble intentions got reduced to a pathetic excuse for extremely loose talk...

Obviously this became the talking point at most social dos...But I was nonplussed when I saw one FB status with attitude...None. Now, that's a first!