23 December 2010

2010 in retrospect....

How has the year 2010 been for me? Happening, life-changing, invigorating, eye-opening....

Health was in focus in the first quarter. The addition of two new members(babies) to the family brought joy, responsibility and sleepless nights :) Watching our daughter grow, and growing with her, has been the highlight of this year. The warmth and reassuring support of family, friends, colleagues, and even the maid, has overwhelmed me. A major overhaul of living quarters, family relationships, life habits and daily routine has virtually changed my life. The year has been an eye-opener regarding my strengths as well as limitations - physical, mental and emotional. An year of tough decisions and even tougher execution.

2010 - An year of pain, ecstasy, frenzied activity, creativity, rejuvenation, togetherness, belonging.... and miracles!

21 December 2010

TV Mania

I've always wondered why some folks (read ladies) are so hooked onto some soaps on the TV. Especially, ladies of my mom's generation are hopeless addicts. The soap may drag on for years together; yet they loyally adjust their routines around it so that they do  not have to miss a single minute of it! Weekends are intolerable for them as there are no TV shows then! Calling them or expecting them to call you while their soap is playing is akin to a crime. Even if she has to miss the show in case she is traveling (or something), my mom makes me watch it so I can tell her the story later :)

For the last few months I've been on a break from work. Staying at home gave me a couple of hours everyday to bond with the idiot box. I too have been hooked onto some shows during this time - some of them thrillers, some soaps, a couple of talk shows and even a reality show. I can now understand the affinity for these shows that some folks have. When you've connected with the characters and watched them evolve on the reel, you feel anxious to know how life will turn out for them! Newsflash for people who claim that watching anything other than news or Discovery is trash - some of these shows are quite informative as well as entertaining.

Now that I'm re-joining work soon, I am going to miss my time with television.

13 December 2010

Old ties last long

Last Thursday I received a pleasant surprise. My cell rang just as I was getting ready to put my daughter to sleep in the afternoon. It was an unknown number and I thought of ignoring it. But then picked it up anyway. A stranger spoke at the other end "Nilambari?", he inquired. I replied in the affirmative. "Can you guess who this is?" he teased. Now my curiosity was fully aroused. The caller sounded middle-aged yet excited to hear my voice. Then suddenly it clicked who he might be. I guessed and he was astounded as well as pleased to confirm it :) It was our old family friend from Baroda!

Uncle used to be head of the Geology department in the Faculty of Science back in Baroda. Though all his children were much older to myself and my brother, we used to enjoy our visits to their home situated in the verdant University grounds. Drawing rangoli in Diwali with their artist son, playing badminton with their daughter in the front yard (until she was lost to the world of medicine!), savoring goodies made by aunty and listening to their youngest son vocalizing classical strains, accompanied by his brother on the tabla, are some of my fond memories of that family!  My hubby interrogated me about them at length to indulge my nostalgia :)

Uncle-aunty had moved to Lucknow more than 15 years ago, where he had accepted vice-chancellorship at Lucknow University. All their children too had moved out of Baroda on account of employment or marriage. Over the years, they used to keep in touch with my parents over the phone. I used to hear of the whereabouts of various members of their family from my parents and also about the ups and downs in their life. Some years ago, uncle-aunty moved to my current city where they have had a family home for years. I had even visited them briefly and shared my then local number.

On Thursday uncle called up my old number, tracked down my current one and then called to give me a surprise! He then proceeded to tell me the latest news in the family and extract the same from me. Turns out that he wanted to invite me for a family function. When he came to know that my parents too were situated in the same city he called them up too.

Yesterday, we all attended the above function and met all his children with their respective broods :) What's more, uncle had planned this as a surprise for his own family! How we enthused endlessly on this chance meeting in years. We oohed and aahed over the changes time had wrought over us. It was a warm reunion on a cold December day. Now that we are back in touch, hope to continue meeting over various other functions too! What a small world it is - we've picked up where we left off in a different city after many long years.

09 December 2010

The art of gifting

As children, we all love gifts. Whether its our birthday, Diwali, Christmas or any other occasion, the thrill of anticipation gets our adrenalin pumping! Even as adults the thrill doesn't fade, though we try to hide it behind a mask of indifference. The suspense of what our organization has decided to bestow as Diwali gift keeps us enthralled. Children nowadays not only expect gifts on their own birthday, but also a return gift on their friends' birthday!

There is a special joy is giving gifts too. Indeed, a whole new industry has sprung up on the concept of gifting novel items for various occasions. The entire exercise of selecting an appropriate gift after painstaking research, wrapping it up creatively and then presenting it to the subject with a flourish has caught on big time. The joy of the receiver on beholding the gift is a reward in itself.

Gone are the days when the thought behind the gift mattered. Most people have precise expectations even for gifts. The daily help expects cash-only gifts - sari or other useful household items hold no allure for them. Children want toys that are currently in vogue with other kids. The wife wants exclusive jewelry, branded perfume or designer wear. The husband wants the most expensive watch, a smart phone or an ipod.  Elders want chocolates and foreign vacations as gifts. The surprise element is all but gone from the art of gifting.

Sometimes, when you have hunted high and low for an exclusive present, and to have it rejected as it does not meet expectations can be very disappointing. However, the trick is to not let this dim your enthusiasm for gifting. The exception does not maketh the rule. Deep-down, the thought behind the gift does count and people do appreciate the gesture though they might neglect to express it. The idea is to draw pleasure from the art of gifting, and not get bogged down by expectations and trends.

06 December 2010

Is the current generation too open?

I distinctly remember how disgusted my grandmom was on seeing a man shave in one of the TV serials. This was about 13 years ago. She maintained that shaving was a private ablution and hence not fit for public consumption. I never did understand her disgust then, but compared to what all is shown on TV these days - I feel it is pretty mild :) Since I no longer stay with granny, I can only imagine what her reaction is these days! My ears are still burning from her loud indignation over phone the other day regarding violation of the solemn act of giving birth in some movies.

One of my friends has settled in India after almost a decade-long stint abroad. And I recall her, and her husband, being aghast at the ads being aired on TV in India. They were scared of the impact these ads would have on their children. I mean, come on, you've lived abroad(!) I argued silently. But, its a fact that the ads on TV these days not only embarrass you, but also make you the target of a lot of curious questions from kids. One needs to be prepared for such situations.

Just last night, I was watching yet another episode on Season 3 of 'Koffee with Karan'. Now back in Season 1, the guests on this show were very discrete and tactful, almost painfully so! However, the current set of guests has no qualms about washing their dirty linen in public and bad-mouthing their ex'es. Its such bad etiquette. Forums such as Twitter, Facebook and private blogs too have loosened people's tongues. Celebrities take pleasure in airing their differences in front of all and sundry. One is left thinking that they should add a course in discretion to the list of classes for dance, weight-training, diet and grooming for these stars.

Our generation has definitely opened up more than the former - love marriages, divorces and more working women being proof thereof. However, I think we've lost out on making a point without stating the obvious. Some things are better left unsaid and some skeletons are best left in the cupboard. It adds to the charm and mystery of life.

25 November 2010

Passion

Read something interesting today.

Ever wondered why some childhood friends got into physical fights or threw tantrums all the time? Why some children are argumentative and rebellious while others are perfectly docile and malleable? Well, the difference is passion. What is passion? Passion is a powerful emotion, such as love, joy, hatred, anger, enthusiasm, etc. It can also be an object or something that we love or desire.

Some of us are gifted with an overabundance of passion. If it does not find an outlet, it manifests as temper tantrums and physical violence. It can be understood if seen in children, but we see it many times in adults too.There can be several outlets for passion. Once you have figured out which one works best the road to a peaceful and calm existence is paved. Indeed, if passion does not find expression, it can turn inside and become destructive. The trick is to leverage it constructively.

For some, it takes a lifetime to discover what they are passionate about, while others become aware much earlier. Sometimes we are astonished by the sweeping change in a childhood friend. Where did she get this angelic 'halo' when she was a fire-brand rebel while growing up, you wonder! You can be sure that this person has learned to harness her passion creatively.

20 November 2010

Formality in relationships - is it so bad?

Indian upbringing has very little respect for formality. True, we are brought up to respect our elders and to do their bidding unquestioningly. We are expected to touch their feet everytime we meet them. But other than this, formality in relationships is usually absent. When you move to a new neighborhood, a nosy neighbor drops in with a piping dish and does not hesitate to ask every last detail about your family. Are you married? How many kids? Normal delivery or Caesarian?! When a girl is first introduced to her husband's family, she is interrogated about her life so far. If she fails to respond warmly to this kind of informality, she is immediately branded as aloof or snooty. This works the other way too. If there is an older parent living with you - you want to know where he/she went, whom they met, are they dressed appropriately? You basically forget that these are the folks who toilet-trained you, taught you how to tie your shoelaces. And suddenly, you treat them like another child.

Basically there is no room for privacy or 'space' in our culture. And cultures that have it in abundance viz. America - well, we look down upon the family structure they have. "The children out of the house by age 18! Not staying with or supporting old parents! Old age homes! In our country, we have mother's day and father's day everyday of the year..." These are the judgemental cracks you get to hear regarding the Americans - this includes NRIs. Divorce used to be an ugly word. Every Tom, Dick and Harry wants to express an opinion on your marriage. Whereas in the States, no one thinks to question your marital status unless he is intending to propose/date you.

Indians pride themselves on their informality. When they travel abroad, they sing praises of the natural and man-made beauty there but at the same time they wonder at the 'cold and distant' behavior by the natives. Reserve and shyness are negative traits as far as Indians are concerned. Any relationship that does not have passionate outbursts is alien and suspicious to us.

Yes, US. For I too belong to the category that abhorred reserve and formality. I have always found it hard to put my faith in people who cannot or will not express their emotions openly. But over the years I've learned that there is no correct way to demonstrate one's feelings. Some people are good at it, some try to be, and others suck at it or just won't try. It doesn't mean that they do not feel anything. Of course, anyone who has heard of emotional intelligence knows that its good for your relationships, and your health, to be able to communicate your thoughts and emotions effectively. We Indians set a lot of store by intelligence quotient (IQ),  but unfortunately, very few of us understand the importance of emotional intelligence quotient (EQ). Those who have high EQ have mastered the art of LIFE.

There are various factors at play here. No two fingers of your palm are alike. In the same way, every member in the family is different and has been through different experiences. If people accept these differences and learn to live with them, there would be very little friction in families. Besides, its more peaceful when various members in serious disagreement voice their opinions in a more civil, if cold, manner than resorting to harsh, unforgiving words or violence. As long as the invisible line of civility is not crossed, relationships can survive a lot of strain. However, when the basic civilities are forgotten, then in the long run resentment and bitterness set in. What is the point is carrying on such relationships even if you share the same roof as family? It is better to part and be civil than stay and hate each other everyday. There is a certain grace in formality and giving each other space. There are some decisions that need to be taken as a family and some that are very personal. The trick is knowing which is which.

10 November 2010

Transparency

This happened the other day while we were visiting my SIL's place for Diwali. I was enjoying an afternoon siesta whereas my hubby was babysitting our 10 month old since she refused to sleep. His sister too gave them company. I was awoken to my baby crying loudly. When I rushed out to see what was ailing her, she started smiling on seeing me and clapped her hands. As I picked her up in my arms, she slobbered my face with wet kisses - so overwhelmed was she to see me! I cannot even begin to express how that made me feel.

Its fun watching the play of various expressions on my daughter's face - her joy on beholding something she loves, her fear on encountering strangers or loud noise, her inquisitive look when she finds something new and interesting, her disgust when she tastes something she doesn't like, her anger when she is in the middle of a tantrum and her hurt when I scold her.... The expressions of a child are so refreshingly transparent. They leave nothing to read between the lines.

Why can't we, as adults, express ourselves this openly? When do we lose the capacity to mirror our thoughts while growing up? With the disappearing transparency of our expressions, we consciously lose transparency in our speech and actions too. Somewhere down the line subtlety, tact and cunning replace the innocence of our childhood. We are afraid to show our hurt, we bolster our fear with bravado, we mask our love, restrain our anger and abhor public displays of affection. We do all this under the guise of etiquette and social norms. Unfortunately not only does this increase our stress, it also leads to a lot of miscommunication. And yet, we are touched by the simple manners of village folk or those urban folks who have managed to salvage their innocence.

It is true that society demands all this so that people do not hurt each other through thoughtless speech. And its true also that most negative emotions are hidden due to fear of rejection by society. But perhaps when we teach our young ones to become less transparent, we should also tell them why it is being taught. This may help them to discern when to mask which feelings and when to express others.


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The Gift

22 October 2010

Of lies and motherhood

I am currently hooked onto the new TV series on Star World - "Lie to Me". The show replaced the "Bones" series which I used to follow avidly, hence I was a bit skeptical if I'd like this one. The serial is about the 'Lightman Group' that accepts assignments from third parties and assists in investigations, reaching the truth through applied psychology and micro expressions. It sure opened my eyes to the minutiae of facial expressions and body language and how they can help one detect lies. In some cases, even lack of expression is a sound clue. The comedy in the series is brought about when the "Lie experts" cannot hide their true feelings from each other!

I was particularly impressed by an episode where a couple of adopted girls are kidnapped by their psychologist. The episode had the usual surprise element and brilliant deduction. However, what touched me was the underlying motherhood element in it. There are so many layers to motherhood that somehow never get adequate exposure through literature or media. Especially adoptive mothers or mothers whose children are not biological. No matter which race, nationality, class or status a woman belongs to - being a mother, and a good mother at that, is extremely important to her. I guess that is what is called the biological urge of every female. This urge has sometimes negative repercussions too as a mother may go to any lengths to protect her motherhood. As is seen in the episode where the psychologist kidnaps two of her patients as stand-ins for her dead daughter.

A particularly poignant scene is where the victim girl's mother accuses one of the experts of not understanding as she is not a mother. Turns out that she had been a mother after all, however briefly. Sadly, in spite of going through motherhood, most women are still not understanding of another mother's pain. Also, the pain when a child rejects her parent's love is much more intense in mothers rather than fathers. It can drive mothers to depression or even violence, and in some cases, total indifference.

Motherhood - what we know and hear about it is only the tip of the iceberg.

21 September 2010

Your tongue is the translator of your intellect.

Here is a story .....with a good moral and message, which I received over email.

As King Haroun and Queen Zubayda were sitting in their palace one day, a fisherman who was selling fresh fish was brought in front of them. King Haroun decided to buy a fish and gave the fisherman 4000 dirhams for it.

The fisherman was overjoyed. He thanked King Haroun and left.

Queen Zubayda turned to her husband in anger and scolded him for paying so much for a fish. King Haroun let her have her say, but said that the fish was purchased and that there was nothing that could be done about it.

However, the Queen was adamant and insisted that the fisherman be brought back.

“We will ask the fisherman about the gender of the fish,” she said. “If he answers that it is female, we will say that we wanted a male fish and if his response is that it is male, we will say that we wanted a female fish! Either way, we will be able to return the fish and have our money back.”

So the poor fisherman was called back and was asked the question.

Fortunately, he was clever enough not to be caught out.
He replied, “The fish is neither male or female. It is eunuch (neutral).”

King Haroun was so impressed by the ingenuity of the man that he ordered a further 4000 dirhams to be paid to him. The fisherman thanked the King again but as he was about to leave with the heavy bag of money, one of the coins fell onto the floor. The fisherman immediately bent down to look for the coin. Queen Zubayda was already upset that the fisherman had been given 8000 dirhams.

“Look how miserly this man is!” the Queen exclaimed. “One coin has fallen out of his bag full of money and he searches for it, instead of leaving it for some other poor servant to find.”

The man heard this remark and said, “O Queen, it is not out of miserliness that I search for the coin, but rather because it had the picture of generous King Haroun on it. I would not tolerate anyone to cause dishonour to the King by treading on the coin.”

The King was so happy with this response that he immediately called for another 4000 dirhams to be given to the fisherman. When Queen Zubayda saw all this, she thought it was better to hold her tongue and let the man go with 12000 dirhams before the King decided to increase the amount again.

Lessons from Life:
* Speech is an Art. If one has the viveka(discrimination) of what, how, when, how much and whom to talk, then such a person will be successful in life.

* The beauty of man / woman is in the clarity of his / her tongue speech.

* Our tongue is the translator of our intellect.

In other words, a person’s intellect and wisdom is recognized through his / her speech.

15 September 2010

Creativity & commerce amidst festival

Its that time of the year when Maharashtrians celebrate the Ganesh festival. Ganeshji's idol is brought and installed at home on the day of Ganesh Chaturthi with a lot of pomp and show.

The preparation for this begins days earlier. Elaborate decorations are planned for hosting the idol in the house. Children of the house take an active part in this decoration. Nowadays, there is a "green" theme to these decorations. Idols turn up in the markets a fortnight in advance. Lot of care is taken to select the idol. Again here, the paint for these idols is increasingly available in ecologically safe colors. They should dissolve naturally when the visarjan or water immersion happens, usually in rivers or other water bodies, ten days post the installation.

There is a whole industry that specializes in the creation of Ganeshji's sculptures. They come in a lot of sizes and themes. A multi-storeyed handicrafts store will be required to showcase all the exclusive creative idols of Ganesh made so far. Usually there is some historical or mythological play in the form of puppets being played that accompanies the idol. This play is part of the theme for the decoration.

In societies housing a bevy of apartments, a single idol is installed in the club-house or any such common area by all the enthusiastic residents. Aarti takes place twice a day - in the mornings and the evenings. This is an occasion when the residents get an opportunity to interact while decorating the idol's abode, preparing prasad, enjoying games, competitions and food together. In our complex, there is a Ganesh idol-making competition held among the children. Each child makes an idol out of clay and then paints it. On the day the idol is installed, and pooja being performed, all the children perform pooja for their respective idols too.

The sweet - modak that is prepared as prasad for Ganeshji is a special favorite. There is a lot of creativity involved in the preparation of modaks too.

Thus, right from the idol sculptors, to the flower vendors, the decoration specialists, the sweet shops and even the hawkers selling their wares outside well-known Ganesh temples - all gain from this festival. Creativity abounds in the form of making or selection of idols, decorations, sweets, scrapbooks of Ganeshji's pictures etc. The Lezim dance that is performed during the visarjan procession is something worth watching at least once in your lifetime.

Hats off to Lokmanya Tilak who first thought of making this festival a public celebration that was hitherto limited to worship at homes only! Not only does it keep the tradition alive in the minds of the young, it brings families and friends closer, provides an outlet for the creative juices and also boosts the economy. Sadly, it also boosts the noise levels sometimes. But its a small price to be paid for all the other advantages.

19 August 2010

Patience

Dedicated to my 7-month old daughter...

Dear daughter,

For the last few months, you have been my teacher. What my elders could never get me to do, you did without making me feel inconvenienced. I now get up at all hours of the night and even at the crack of dawn. I have given up the comforts of the sofa and the bed so that I can be with you on the floor. I'm used to working with one eye peeled so that you do not crawl to a forbidden area or lick our slippers. My ears are tuned to your slightest cry of hunger or discomfort. My nose alerts me whenever you wet your nappy. My hands tie the strings of your nappy automatically even in the middle of the night. I have re-discovered the joy of nursery rhymes, of breaking into a song in the midst of a chore and of playing with silly little toys.

When you kick the tumbler of water as I wash you;
When you upturn the can of powder and spill it all over the place,
When you drool your feed all over my new dress,
Or wet my freshly changed clothes ,
When you push the spoon away as I try to feed you,
Or squirm persistently as I try to dress you,
I no longer shout or scream in anger.
Instead I smile at you and revel in your smile in return.

When you giggle at the faces I make,
When your eyes search for me if I'm not there,
and when they gleam with happiness on noticing me,
When your hands reach out to caress my face
As I am putting you to sleep,
When you reach a new milestone in your short life,
Or rest in my arms trustingly when there's a storm blowing outside,
Oh doll! you have no idea,
Of the peace and completeness you give me
Even though my house is in a mess.

You've brought my family closer. You've given me a new identity in the neighborhood as your mother.
You've sharpened all my senses and enhanced my joy in small things.
You have taught me the importance of a routine. You've taught me to multi-task and use both my hands at the same time.
And what's more, you have taught me to be patient. For aren't you patient and forgiving to still love me even when I fail to interpret your cries sometimes?

17 August 2010

Classmates

Disclaimer - This post is not original. It was a forward in marathi that I received over email. I've only translated it for sharing with a larger audience. I hope this never happens with me though :)

I suffered from a persistent toothache all last week and for the first time in my life I visited a dentist. While awaiting my turn in the waiting room, I glanced through all the certificates that adorned the wall. That's when I noticed the full name on the Certificate - Nandkishore Pradhan. He was the hero of my batch in school! Tall, fair, blue-eyed - he was the poster hero and all the girls in my class, including myself, were infatuated with Nandu. At the thought of meeting him again my 50-year-old heart started beating a wild tattoo.

As I entered the main room, I was taken aback to see the change in him. His hairline was receding. His chubby cheeks of adolescence were made even chubbier with age. He had a nice paunch and his mesmerizing blue eyes were hidden behind thick spectacles.

He did not recognize me though. After the check-up, I asked him "Did you study in the Apte school?"
"Yes" he replied with surprise.
"When did you complete Matriculation? In 1966?" I further inquired.
"That's right! But how did you know?" he exclaimed in surprise.
"You were in my class, you know." I informed him, eagerly waiting for his eyes to gleam with recognition at last.
But that balding, pot-bellied, bespectacled Nandu asked politely instead "What class did you teach, ma'am?"

Zodiac signs - 12 or 13?

Last Sunday, while I was enjoying a much-deserved afternoon siesta, my cell phone rang abruptly. It was my uncle calling. Without so much as a greeting, he straight away shot a question at me "Have you read today's newspaper?" I hadn't actually since my daughter had kept me busy since morning. He then said that he wanted my opinion on the news that had appeared in the paper. Apparently, the International Astronomical Union had announced that there is a 13th zodiac sign. There had been a lot of debate on this for years and it had finally been made official. He then proceeded to tease me, as is his wont - "Now your astrology has gone for a toss. Due to the introduction of this new sunsign, I and your father belong to the same zodiac whereas we are poles apart in nature. How do you explain that?" I told him that I would get back to him on this as I had yet to read the paper.

On googling the net, I discovered that there was indeed a 13th zodiac sign called Ophiucus that appears between the signs of Scorpio and Sagittarius. Infact, I found that I belonged to this new sign. Well, well, well! I was so used to identifying myself as a Sagittarian that this came as rather a shock. It was like having a new identity altogether! On reading the traits for people belonging to this new sign, I, of course, liked it (they're all good and enviable traits, you see!) But the hard-to-digest fact was that people whom I had known as Capricorns were now really Saggis; Aquarians were really Capricorns and so on. That meant that I (and a lot of other folks) would have to re-orient ourselves to our new signs.

You might wonder why all this is so upsetting to me. Well, I've always been interested in the study of astrology ever since my college days. But I've never found the opportunity to study the nitty-gritty of it in a formal manner. Hence, it'd take me some time to understand the astronomical implications of this change. And I plan to study it soon. However, the incident brought home the realization that all the established facts of life are really transient. We cannot base our interpretations of people on these facts alone. We have to understand people in the right context & environment and not slot/compartmentalize them into categories/sunsigns etc. It is true that Leos display certain traits, but not all Leos do. As a student of astrology I do understand that one must take into consideration the position of ALL planets in a person's horoscope and not just the sun's or moon's. And each horoscope is unique - even twins'. So, I still do believe in astrology and someday will complete my formal education in it. But, the lesson learned here is that what we believe to be astrology - which is 12 zodiac signs, is not that much alone...but much, much more. Also, people need to be understood as individuals and not as part of some community, sunsign or class.

02 August 2010

Books vs Movies

I saw the movie "Twilight - Eclipse" over the weekend. A friend had recently introduced me to the Twilight series early this year and I enjoyed reading all the books. I had jumped over the bandwagon slightly late as movies for the first two books were already out by the time I started on the series. Hence 'Eclipse' was the first Twilight movie I saw. It was fun to watch the characters on the screen. Most of the cast matched the characters exactly except for "Jacob". The movie was quite loyal to the book and it was good to see all the picturesque locales, the soul-stirring romance and the antics of the vampires and werewolves in action. The hero - Edward, is definitely something a teen girl would fall for hard inspite of him being a vampire. I must admit that while reading the book, I failed to imagine what a teen young girl would see in a pale-faced youth to fall so desperately in love with him that she was willing to give up her humanity for him. But the movie, and the actor(!), made me believe its possible :)

Very few movies made based on books make one feel good though. I remember when I'd seen Gurinder Chaddha's 'Bride and Prejudice' based on Jane Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice'. Now, the book is one of my favorites. Hence I had gone with a lot of expectations to see the movie especially since it starred Ms. Aishwarya Rai. However, I was so disgusted with the needless liberties taken with the plot and characters by Chaddha, that I re-read the entire novel again the very next day to take out the bad taste left in my mouth after watching the clumsy adaptation!

Some of the Harry Potter movies were remarkably faithful versions of the books, but others left out a lot of stuff in the interests of time.

The question remains then, should movies be made based on books at all? There are certain things that come out well only through the written word. And then there are others that can only be enjoyed by visual effects rather than reading about them. And of course, a vast majority of the public these days does not believe in reading anymore or they do not have the time for it. After all, who wants to read when the same can be seen as a movie while munching on a mountain of popcorn!

I am one for reading any day.

13 July 2010

New platform for waging personal wars

Lately, I've been following the spat between Shobha De and Sonam Kapoor in the news. Apparently the former made some disparaging remarks about the latter's recently released movie and Sonam retaliated on Twitter by giving a (quote) paleontological metaphor (/unquote). Then Ms. De wrote a scathing post in her blog about the upbringing and class (or lack thereof) of the current crop of actors. Sonam then tweeted an apology to nip this feud in the bud. Most likely some elders had made her realize the cost of locking horns with a media mogul of the size of Ms. De especially with another flick coming up for release soon. The comments in De's blog, and also everywhere online, are quite interesting. Opinion is clearly divided as to who lacks class and finesse between the two.

Sometime ago, Mr. Bachchan too had come into the limelight due to some comment he made regarding his son's latest flick 'Raavan'. He then clarified that his post was misinterpreted. I guess most of us are quite familiar with Shashi Tharoor's numerous controversial tweets on Twitter.

Here are some questions that came to my mind-

1) Has the online media become the new platform to wage personal wars, vendatta or washing dirty linen in public?

2) Should eminent critics and/or writers use the online media to voice their candid opinions at the cost of lowering others' worth?

3) Should the new crop of celebrities be given training on how to deal with criticism in a dignified manner so that it does not harm their careers?

4) Should the media keep such a close watch on celebrity blogs and dissect each and every sentence to mean something sinister or controversial? Whatever happened to freedom of speech?

23 June 2010

Living for others

All books on spirituality mention that happiness can be found when you do something for others, not for yourself. Since selflessness doesn't come easily to man, God made children. Anyways, I'd heard time and again from friends that they could not do enough for their children. Frankly, all this obsession used to make me feel that they go overboard sometimes. Perhaps, some of them did. But after entering motherhood myself, I can well understand their feelings. Caring for and nurturing a tender young life who depends on you in total faith brings one the greatest happiness in the world. No sacrifice feels enough when it comes to looking after your child. Being entrusted with such blind faith is not only exhilarating but also a bit scary sometimes. Makes you worry constantly if you really are as special as the little one thinks you are. A guileless smile - whether from a toothless baby or a grateful adult surely lights up one's life. One cannot compare its glow with that of financial success or fame. Living for others, unconditionally, truly makes one feel happy and contented.

16 June 2010

After life ?

There was an interesting discussion a couple of days ago at my place. It was regarding how one has to pay for one's deeds or karma in this lifetime itself. At least that's what my dad and I felt. Whereas my mom and hubby stuck to our Vedic philosophy that we pay for our karma in the next life. So, if we are facing trouble in the current life, its payback for our misdeeds in our past lifetime. The other caveat is that if there is to be payback of our deeds, then we do not get another life as a human being immediately. We have to pass through the cycle of other lesser lifeforms and only when the soul resumes life as a human being are the past misdeeds paid back through troubles and travails faced.

Mom's argument was that this was the only way good people undergoing tough problems could be explained away. That they were paying for their past life's misdeeds. Mom cited the example of King Dashrath from Ramayana. He had inadvertently killed Shravana, the only son of blind parents in his youth. The parents had cursed him that he too would die while desperately waiting to meet his beloved son. That is what happened to him when his oldest son - Rama, was sent to exile by his favorite wife for 14 years. Dashrath died while waiting for his son's return.

Perhaps it is true- many times it beats us why some thoroughly noble souls around us are suffering so much. Which of the above arguments is true was inconclusive. It is true that God moves in mysterious ways. And man being what he is, cannot just accept the inscrutability of God. Hence, he has come up with various theories. In my humble opinion, all these theories are simply to enhance man's faith in a higher power. For, when one is down in the doldrums, it is only faith and positive thoughts that help one survive until better times prevail.

Perhaps, there are no such things as good and bad actions. And hence there is no payback required for bad deeds. The only punishment(or reward) of a deed(good or bad) is how it makes you feel afterward. If one feels guilty or repentant after a deed, then that is punishment enough for that action. Even if the feeling is not immediate, it does catch up with us eventually. If one feels upbeat and light after a deed, then that is reward enough. Thus, it is very important to reconcile with one's conscience- one needs to constantly watch that one's conscience is in sync with one's actions. Only then will there be peace and happiness.

01 May 2010

Dreams

All of us have dreams. Not all dreams are lofty as in "I want to become a millionaire." But everyone has some or the other wish that they dream will come true someday. Some dreams are unacknowledged and reside in the mind's subconscious. Others are oft-repeated and sometimes get ridiculed. I have always wondered why people would like to get their dreams made fun of. They are personal and should be treated that way.

Recently I attended a class at office that changed this opinion. In it, one of the sessions involved the participants to visualize that they had achieved their dream and were living it (in the future). We were asked to pen down what we were feeling after having achieved it, what did our family feel, how it impacted the society or our environment and what kind of lifestyle changes had happened in our lives as a result of it.

(Creative) Writing being my passion, this was an easy enough exercise :) But then came the twist. A few of us were asked to read out what we had written out loud to the entire class. Yours truly was of course one of the chosen victims. But as I read out from my paper, I felt liberated. I was actually vocalizing what was a very important life goal for me. And a roomful of people were listening attentively to it. What's more, I got a big round of applause and lots of well wishes that my dream would indeed come true soon as I was able to articulate it in such vivid detail!

Sharing a dream is the first step toward acknowledging it. By sharing it with others, one sort of commits to making it happen as someday one of those folks might come around and ask you what happened of your dream. It is ok if you don't achieve it eventually, but at least you made a sincere effort toward achieving it. Visualizing it coming true is the next step. It crystallizes the end result in one's mind and it is always easy to get something when you know what it is. For e.g., if one feels like eating a mango, its picture pops us in our mind, we can smell its fragrance and one day one actually steps out to buy it. We need to see, feel and smell our dreams. Only then is there any hope of them coming true.

17 April 2010

'Open'

Finally finished reading the autobiography of Andre Agassi titled 'Open'. Frankly I am not into reading autobiographies or even biographies for that matter. Neither am I too much into sports, though I do know the basics of tennis. But the book came highly recommended by a colleague so I gave it a shot.

I haven't been this moved after reading a non-fiction book in a while. Agassi has literally laid open his entire life for the public. He has left nothing out, not tried to gloss over any of the sordid details in his life. Yet, its written with class. At one point in the book I didn't really like him. He made no effort to be tactful about any of his opinions. His hatred of his father, of tennis, of some rivals - everything is portrayed with brutal candor. Yet as the book, and his life, progresses he turns likable - probably since he finally discovers himself through a lot of self introspection, painful physical & emotional injuries and tremendous effort. His love for all his family, including his father, and his friends is very touching. He comes across as a man who has craved acceptance and understanding all his life which he finally found in Steffi Graf. He was lucky to have a very ambitious father, some inspiring friends and a wife who is his equal in every sense of the word. His is indeed a blessed life though it took him a long time to realize it. Sound familiar?!

Loved the way he connects patterns in his life and uses relevant metaphors. About his marriage with Brooke Shields he says that "We spent most of our time on islands. We are islands." Though his education lasted only till the ninth grade, his vocabulary is rich. Ironically, all the important people in his life viz. his father, his mentor Gil and wife Steffi, did not have English as their first language. Perhaps that's why they understood him the most as they communicated more through body language.

The book also provided a peek into the life of tennis stars and celebrities in general. Their fragile egos, insecurities, physical pain, mental torture makes one realise that a career in sports isn't all that rosy. The journey involves a lot of blood, sweat and will power. Yet not all make it to the top. Somewhat like life itself.

13 April 2010

Tech Support

Got a call from my aunt the other day. "Nilu, I need your help now." That's how it is with her usually - everything has to happen NOW. No matter if you are driving or cooking or taking a bath. "What is it, aunty" I ask. "I was trying to edit my contacts in Gmail and I had reached upto R and they just disappeared!!!" The last word ended on a screech. "Calm down, aunty. Start from the beginning. What happened exactly?" I ask patiently while stirring busily in the pan. Its breakfast time. Mornings on weekdays are usually rushed as both I and hubby have to get ready for office.

"Well, you see, I have a lot of email IDs of all my clients. I need to prefix their names with the names of their organizations else I keep getting confused as to which client I am dealing with. So I was trying to edit my contacts alphabetically. But as I reached the letter R, they just disappeared. I logged out and logged back in many times, but to no avail. I even rebooted my machine." My aunt runs a small business. She is a real entrepreneur, started it at the age of 43 and its running quite successfully now. And whenever you want to get successful or more visible, you gotta be online. My aunt is clearly out of depth here and relies on me, or her son, heavily for such problems.

"Ok, let me login to my computer, I'll call you back" I promise. I finish cooking and go to the study to boot up my laptop. I then ask my aunt to provide me her credentials for her gmail account. I logged in, clicked on Contacts and was able to view all her contacts. Was even able to edit some. She logged back in from her computer, but she faced the same problem. I then asked her to check the browser she was using, most difficult since she did not know what a browser was. I asked her if she was using IE (Internet Explorer). Now, in marathi, "Aai (pronounced as IE) means mother. This confused her even more. So I asked her to read the topmost line on her screen. "Microsoft Windows Internet Explorer" she read out. "Ok, now click on "Help", then "About Internet Explorer". This took a while. Finally, it turned out that she was using Version 8.0 of IE and I was using Mozilla Firefox 3.6. I quickly checked with my IE and everything was working fine. But I had IE version 6.0. (I don't use IE so often, you see).

Finally I tell her "There may be something wrong with your browser settings." Silence on the other end. "You need to change your browser and try once again." I say. My aunt gives up and says that I need to talk to her son. Soon, her son is talking with me. I explain to him that he needs to download Firefox and try to login to Gmail with that. He understands and promises to call back with the result, thank God!

Some time later, my aunt calls back jubilantly exclaiming "It WORKED!!! But how come your uncle can see HIS contacts in his gmail in the other browser and I can't?! But never mind, this browser seems so much nicer. Thank you so much :)" So ends yet another Tech Support session for me. I've done this umpteen times with my dad before - that's where the patience comes from. Also, not being physically present at the faulty computer can be really frustrating but I've learned to deal with it now.

Its such a small thing - every internet user is aware of what a browser is and its various features. And for people like me who use computers for a living, its as easy as breathing. But there are so many seniors who struggle with such basic things on a daily basis. I admire their perseverance to learn a new technology at such a late stage in their lives. They are not embarrassed to show their ignorance and ask questions that may sound stupid. Yet, many of the young folks frown at their "silly" attempts. They are so complacent in their superior knowledge. Perhaps, we need to humbly learn the lesson that "learning should never stop" from our seniors.

07 April 2010

Fight for survival



Grandma did a Humpty-Dumpty on sunday. Disobeyed everyone's warning about walking around on her bad knee, overbalanced and broke her hip bone. Thankfully, she was at a crowded place where someone rushed and called her daughter -my aunt. Who then rushed there with an ambulance as grandma could not move at all.

Doctors said surgery was needed to fix her bone, but they could not operate considering her history of heart disease. There was considerable debate over what was to be done, too many opinions sought, thousands of rupees spent on the phone bill and loss of sleep for many in the family (grandma has 5 daughters, many grand-children and couple of great-grand children too). Her pain was the deciding factor eventually. She was operated upon yesterday and has been given a clean chit after being put up in ICU for 24 hours.

Everyone has always been exasperated by her sheer grit and obstinate determination which makes her take her body for granted. But it was these same qualities which made her fight for her life and come back safely into the fold. Such is life - the very things that are your weaknesses can become your strength...and vice versa. Its all about leveraging the right qualities at the right time and place and learning to accept or change the others.

In the meantime, thank the Lord for delivering her daughters from the burden of the most difficult decision of their lives successfully! And thank God for grandma's fighting spirit!

27 March 2010

Its a (M)Ad world

Its a weekend, that too, during one of the sweltering summer months. Time to chill out with a cool drink in front of the idiot box. As usual, hubby and I cannot agree on which channel to watch. He wants to watch cricket(ugh!) and I wish to see the golden oldie running on 'Filmy' (how retro!, retorts hubby). After a fruitless battle for control of the remote control we wisely call a truce. Ah, life (or is it marriage?!) is full of little compromises:( We decide to flip the channels in between commercial breaks.

Peace reigns for sometime. Eventually, I realize that I have been had by hubby. While the break between overs in cricket used to be brief, the break in the film used to be really long. After staring at the various ads being played one after the other, I had lost track of where in the movie we had taken a break. The ads too have become so innovative and glossy that they keep you glued to the TV. The concept, the catch lines, the glamor quotient, the sheer dazzling presence of celebrities - the advertisements on TV are much more enthralling than the long time saas-bahu family soaps churned out by Balaji Telefilms. Incidentally, I loved the jingle for BMW - its not only what you make, but what you make them feel that matters.

Some of the best ads in recent times - Aamir Khan's Tata Sky ad where he is dressed half as a man and half as a woman. The ensuing dialogue seems as if between a groom and his bride, rather than a soliloquy by AK. There is a series of Tata Sky ads- the latest ones with the wife avenging her hubby as he made her miss her favorite soap due to IPL are really good. Nowadays, the chat at the lunch-table is not about "Did you check out Parvati's get up in xxx serrial?" Rather it is around - "Did you see the latest Tata sky ad?" Other such series include the Kurkure series, the zoozoo series, the Wheel series, AXE series, the Maaza series, Bingo series, IDBI series - the list just goes on.

Fact is, watching ads on TV is as much entertaining, if not more, as the actual programmes these days. We did manage to watch a bit of cricket and movie in between the ads :)

24 March 2010

Marrying abroad

A friend of mine called me up today. I was rather busy at the time, but the suppressed excitement in her voice made me take the call. She was to fly to Melbourne tonight to join her husband. That explained the excitement. Their marriage was solemnized back in Dec 2009. Hubby darling went off to Melbourne (he works there) and she had to wait until her visa came through to join him. I had met her in the intervening months once or twice. Each time I could see that she was desperately waiting for the visa to come through though she tried to show that she was dreading having to leave the country, her parents, her job etc.

I remembered the same kind of excitement on my sis-in-law's (brother's wife) face a few years ago. She had never been abroad and my brother was to go for a long-term assignment to UK. She was so excited about the trip! After reaching there, she used to be full of all the sights and highlights of London. The apartment-hunting, the commute by the tube, the scarcely varying weather, the dishwasher, the carpeting - she enthused about them all. Having been through a similar experience when we were in the US some years ago, I said to her - "I would like to hear the same excitement in your voice a year down the line." A year went by and she could not wait for my brother's assignment to get over and for them to return. The phone calls were all about the lack of variety in weather, dress and life-style there. About how she missed her family, visiting us over the weekends, the carefree life, the auto-rickshaws, the maid and the dhobi :)

When a woman gets married, and especially if she is not to live with her in-laws, she is always excited at the prospect of moving to a new place. Even if she has to leave her familiar routine, her family, friends and even her career behind. The new challenge of setting up her own nest sets her adrenaline pumping. But invariably, somewhere down the line, the need to be with family and old friends, to be able to share her woes with familiar people and to put down roots where she can give her children the same kind of childhood that she enjoyed, always catches up. Also, if there is no job,and no family to visit, there is not much to do in such places.

I wonder if my friend will go through all this too? Melbourne is certainly a new place for me, and I haven't heard of any experiences from there yet.

16 March 2010

Saved by the bell

Got a visit from the latest guy in my life. When he came to know that I'm unwell today and may not visit him to wish Happy New Year, he decided that he will come and meet me instead! Needless to say he managed to cheer me up:) In case this reaches the ears of the real guy in my life, let me hasten to clarify that my brand-new nephew came to visit us today. His first official visit to anyone's place since he was born! He managed to squeeze in sleep, feed, bio-breaks AND some playtime all within the span of two hours. Wonder how his mom puts up with this day in and day out.

Spent quite some time on the phone today for New Year wishes. Felt good to connect with some relatives after a long time. In my case, it is said that I never forget to wish people on their birthdays or special occasions. So really, I have got a reputation to maintain which even though I am least bothered about, others are forever using as a yardstick of etiquette. Sometimes I can't thank the inventor of the telephone enough. Without it, it will be difficult to keep up the communication with so many people. As one grows older and the list of people one knows only keeps on increasing, the sheer thought of keeping in touch with so many folks is daunting. But the phone, and especially text messaging, has made life so much easier! So today I was literally saved by the Bell (pun intended:))

Home sweet home!

Today's is Maharashtra's New Year, aka Gudhi Padwa. Here's wishing all readers a very happy New Year! It is a time of new beginnings, new hopes and new aspirations. Time to bid goodbye to the old and heartily embrace the new.

It is one of the three and a half muhurtas (auspicious days) in the year when people buy major item such as gold. It is also a good day to move into a new home, job or business. We moved into our home a few years ago on this very day. I was reminded of our relentless search for the place of our dreams. A place that we can call our own, which will become our permanent address in this town and which I would decorate with my own hands. We've come a long way toward that dream. Our home is an oasis of peace and harmony in the melee of life. Today, when the economy is still struggling and the property prices are rising at an alarming rate, buying a house has become a pipe dream for many.

Flash back to a few years, when we searched high and low for our dream home. It had to be close to our workplaces, it had to be close to at least one set of parents, yet within easy distance of good schools and where the property will keep appreciating over the years. All this within our budget too. It was infact on the higher side for us, but boy was that a sound investment! When we bought it, many derided us that it is too remote, almost out of town. Now, we are well connected not only to the city but also to the expressway going to Bengaluru and Mumbai. Also, the property has appreciated quite a bit since we moved in. The initial hiccups during the move, having to get the furniture, painting and decoration done while both of us were juggling with our work assignments, and no one at home to oversee these, was a challenge. But all the sweat and pain seems worth it when we relax at our palace on laid-back days such as today! Its our nest that we have put together twig by twig over the years and is still a work in progress.

Could not help but pat our backs today, when I recall a difficult, and life-changing decision, that we took on this day some years ago:)

07 March 2010

Blah, blah...




Its been a while since I wrote. What could I do - so many things have happened lately that it was difficult to decide what to write about. What all happened? Well, Holi came and went. So did the Budget. Saw 'My name is Khan'. My aunt's home got burgled - they lost all their jewelry and lots of cash. Also, I was a tad unwell last week. Women's day is coming up. No wonder am confused:)

A friend has been sending me texts all last week to start writing my long overdue book. Well, I actually succumbed to the pressure and wrote the prologue! Hope I can keep up the momentum until the last chapter. Wish me luck!

Loved yesterday's episode of 'Housewives. It dealt with how people like to judge everyone but themselves. Judging is so ingrained in our psyche that we do it subconsciously. What we forget is that others are doing the same.

Am sure most of you have judged by now that I'm babbling :) Time to sign off before you judge more.

26 February 2010

Gifts

Just finished reading the last book in the Twilight series. This post is not a review of the same - my friend has already written a great review (Check here) and I did not feel like re-inventing the wheel. In that book, when the child of the human and vampire is born, she comes with an inherent gift of being able to communicate by creating visuals in the mind of the other person. Though she can speak, she doesn't need to speak because of this gift. This post talks about such gifts.

Even the mother of the child, who becomes a vampire after child-birth, 'discovers' many gifts/talents that were dormant within her. The strange part is that she had that talent even while she was human; she could shield her thoughts from mind-readers unconsciously. Yet, when a total stranger calls her a 'shield', that is when her eyes are opened to her strength. She is then able to physically manifest a shield to protect her family and friends.

This made me realize that there are many talents I have that I've always taken for granted. It always used to make me wonder why I can do some things easily but others are totally clueless about doing those things. This book gave me an insight of how knowledge of such gifts unfolds in its own time. One of my gifts is my emotional intelligence. At the risk of sounding arrogant or a braggart, I've always been able to understand another's motives, what makes them tick, after spending some time with them. I'm able to predict their words and actions and can prepare myself with the right words or behavior in an argument/confrontation with them. Whereas, I've seen others, much older and experienced than me, struggling to understand their spouse,child or parent and be able to establish rapport with them. While it is crystal clear to me what is wrong in their relationship, they seem totally oblivious. Since this was in-born in me (not learned or acquired) I wasn't aware of it until I was well into my adulthood.

This gift had its disadvantages too. I always felt that if I can understand this person, be thoughtful and considerate of unspoken needs, why cannot he/she understand me too? Why do I have to put things in words for that person to grasp my feelings? Many a time, I've been told that I need to spell out things as others are not mind-readers. Whereas I've seldom needed things to be spelled out to me. This frustration and unfairness that I battled with could've been avoided had I been aware that what I had was a gift which others didn't have. They had to follow the tedious process of trial and error to understand me.

Everyone has such inherent gifts - some are obvious and others are less overt. Do you have any such gift?

24 February 2010

And so it continues...

After a really hectic 2nd week, the first installment in our kitchen renovation began last weekend, thus continuing the 'busy and happening' theme of this month. It involved extension of the kitchen platform and re-installation of the kitchen sink. Of course, that meant plumbing and re-tiling of some portion too. The kitchen was of course closed for the entire duration. And the mess... the less said about it the better! The entire house is covered in dust inspite of using dust sheets generously. It beats me how the dust can unerringly find hard-to-reach nooks and cranies in my kitchen which were hitherto unexplored by the human hands. Every surface, utensil, cabinet has a nice dust coating and has led to a cleaning and dusting frenzy since yesterday. The washing machine too is busy churning out laundry of all garments - be it dust sheets, feet wipes, curtains, napkins since yesterday.

Must say though that the effort was worth it. Firstly, 'cos the renovation experts did a thorough job. I didn't realize before that there is high level of skill required in laying a kitchen platform just so, in removing existing tiles and debris without causing structural damage and in fitting a tap and drain-pipe expertly. My kitchen is not only more spacious and well-lighted now, but the increased real-estate of the platform makes cooking so much more fun!

16 February 2010

The week that was...

Last week was easily the most happening week of the year so far. It started with a maid crisis - our maid was hospitalized and would be out for at least 5 days. This was really disturbing as we had guests coming over the weekend for a family celebration. So the sunday was spent in a flurry of cooking, cleaning, wiping, dusting and washing clothes. Managed to find a replacement maid after much running around who would at least take care of the cleaning part for some days. Tuesday was hubby's birthday. It was celebration time from 8th midnight till the next midnight. I was just starting to relax on Wednesday, when my sis-in-law had to be admitted to hospital for delivery. So wednesday evening and thursday were spent at the hospital. There was some anxiety and also my parents had not yet arrived from Baroda. There was a break on Thursday however, as my maid showed up. What a relief! And then Friday morning was spent first in collecting my parents at the station and then depositing them to the hospital alongwith lunch for those on hospital duty.

Friday afternoon was the most exciting day of my life! I became aunt to a healthy baby boy and what a suspenseful few minutes those were. One minute we were fretting over what was happening as we had all been shooed out of the room that had my SIL. And the next minute, we were presented with the baby :) I can never forget the expression on my brother's face (he is the new dad). He was numb with shock and relief. The first thing he said was "he has so much hair! ". After that, there were lot of tears, hugs, congratulations and phone calls. The rest of the day passed in a blur. All I remember was seeing the baby for the first time and how innocent and clueless it looked. Completely oblivious to all the tension it had caused and boldly taking in the new world with its button-like eyes.

There was no end to the exclamations of delight and awe - "Born on the day of Mahashivaratri!", "Only baby boy in the batch of 7 babies born today." "Oh, he is so tall for a newborn!" and so on... The euphoria carried on even the next day. Until the city was rocked, and shocked, by its first ever bomb blast. We heard of it within 10 minutes, as I, alongwith my in-laws, had gone to visit the baby and we were not allowed to enter as they were expecting a batch of ambulances to arrive any moment. Shock and fear was writ large on the faces of the hospital staff and security personnel. Sunday was celebration time as my MIL was to turn 75 the next day. It started from dinner on Saturday and continued till Sunday evening. Spent some quality family time with sis-in-law (hubby's sis this time), her daughter and hubby (who were visiting from Mumbai) and of course my MIL.

All in all, an extremely hectic and happening bitter-sweet week and definitely most memorable.

03 February 2010

How to sleep peacefully?

A boy and a girl were playing together. The boy had a collection of marbles. The girl had some sweets with her. The boy told the girl that he will give her all his marbles in exchange for her sweets. The girl agreed.

The boy kept the biggest and the most beautiful marble aside and gave the rest to the girl. The girl gave him all her sweets as she had promised. That night, the girl slept peacefully. But the boy couldn't sleep as he kept wondering if the girl had hidden some sweets from him the way he had hidden his best marble.

Moral of the story: If you don't give your hundred percent in a relationship, you'll always keep doubting if the other person has given his/her hundred percent.. This is applicable for any relationship like love, Friends or even employer-employee relationship etc.,

Give your hundred percent to everything you do and sleep peacefully

02 February 2010

Friendship

"As is often the case as people grow older, the tight knit cluster of friends you had as a younger person might have lost its the closeness over time and disseminated. A revitalization of this bond, however, is quite possibly just over the horizon for you, as several unforeseen social calls lead to a renewed harmony between old companions."

This is my horoscope for the week. And so true it is!

Met some of my ex-colleagues at a wedding reception on Sunday. It felt good to see each other after a long time. Some of us have left my old organization while some are still loyal to it. Being spread out over all parts of the city, it was unlikely that such a reunion might have happened if two of my ex-colleagues had not fallen in love with each other and decided to make it official. Plus everyone brought their families so we got to meet the spouses and kiddos that we had only oohed and aahed over photo albums so far.

Also met another ex-colleague and good friend over breakfast today. She is recently married and stays with her in-laws, awaiting her visa to join her hubby overseas. Felt good to meet with her and know about her experiences as a newly married bride :) I believe she also needed to air her fears regarding moving to a new country leaving all familiar things behind.

They say that some of the best friends are made when one is young. That's true. And then, the rest of the life is spent in nurturing those friendships. The ones who get good nurturing survive the difficult middle years and serve us well post retirement. I am enjoying the nurturing part currently, which is not to say that I'm not young anymore :)

31 January 2010

Fair and lovely

One of my friends had once commented on my posts that I do not take a clear stand about the issue. I only discuss the issue from all possible points of view. Here's a warning that this post could seem the same. The only comment I wish to make in my defense- if it seems so, it is because I have not yet formed a clear affinity with any of the opining parties on the subject under discussion.

I belong to the category that was not blessed with a fair complexion by birth. My grandma says that my mom was so fair when she was born that perfect strangers used to stop and ask if she was really her daughter! Same is the case with my sis-in-law(SIL). She is what they call wheat-complexioned, but her hubby, or rather his parents, are very fair. Their daughter takes after that side of the family and looks much fairer than my SIL. So much so that when she used to wheel her toddler's pram to the park, people used to think her the 'aaya' of the baby! My grandmother used to tell me in my childhood that I should apply multani mitti or turmeric and saffron cream to my face to make my skin glow. According to her, I would not get a decent groom otherwise. I can well understand her anxiety - having had to marry off five daughters all by herself (my grandpa passed away even before the eldest was married), she was habituated to hand out such advice.

So, since my childhood, I've hankered after the elusive gori chamdi. I am sure all the folks, especially girls, who are not so well-endowed in the skin color department will empathize with me:) Believe me, 'dusky' maybe in, but even those divas secretly envy the fair damsels. Some smart businessman decided to productize grandma's fairness formula and market it to such desperate souls. And that's where the saga of fairness creams, gels, facials etc. began. It has now taken over the population to such an extent that even TV commercials advocate their use for sparkling at job interviews and brightening prospects in the marriage market. Well-known celebrities unabashedly endorse this.

Despite movies being made on racism, and gyaan being imparted on how the color of skin does not matter - the fact remains that everyone wants to be fair-skinned. Would-be moms partake of milk-with-saffron during their pregnancy so that their babies would be born fair. Drinking coconut water too is advised for the same. When a daughter-in-law is seen by her in-laws, their first comment usually is "ladki gori hai" or "ladki kaali hai". Infact, I loved the dialogue in the film "Lajja" where Anil Kapoor tells Mahima Chaudhary - "Ladka chaahe kaala bhoot kyon na ho, usey biwi gori hi chahiye!"

Many have jumped onto the fairness bandwagon willy-nilly. Some due to family or society pressures, some due to their own insecurities. But after a certain age, they all realize that this obsession about complexion isn't really worth it. Or is it? Well, the jury is still out on that. Despite my grandma's concerns, and my own, for that matter, I did enjoy my share of attention in college. And I am now married to a very fair hubby. Now, now, don't be quick to judge...

30 January 2010

Sherlock Holmes

I've always loved Sherlock Holmes books. His keen observation and sharp analytical skills made him a true legend. I also love Agatha Christie books; she apparently was not much impressed with Sherlock Holmes though. So she created a total antithesis of him in looks as well as style - Hercule Poirot. Someone who is a dandy as opposed to Holmes' total neglect of hygiene and apparel and who abhors typical detective tools and habits such as going down on his knees to look for foot and finger prints.

But, this post is about Holmes. His various idiosyncrasies, his restless intellect, scary mood swings, penchant for experimenting with drugs on himself as well as his dog, his peculiar friendship with Dr. Watson and his restrained obsession with his female adversary - Irene Adler. The script-writer has stuck to the basics loyally but has let his imagination run riot to make Holmes into a modern-day Bond-like figure. He has taken some liberties in both the picturization as well as characterization of Holmes and all the other characters. Director Guy Ritchie lends full support to bring alive this imagination. The pace of the movie is fast and gripping. Holmes and Watson are much more physically active and adventurous. Revolvers and pistols are seen, and used, often throughout the movie. Also, both Holmes and Watson are much more vulnerable to emotions of friendship and love. Even Holmes' home - 221B Baker street is quite aesthetic. It must've been a treat to watch this movie on a big screen.

The story itself is not from any of the usual cases of Sherlock Holmes. It is about black magic and threatens to disappoint by dueling between magic and science. Holmes' preoccupation with Adler takes away from his larger-than-life and eccentric personality. But, Ritchie does not digress from the original character traits; though his treatment is vastly different and quite refreshing. Makes you think what if Arthur Conan Doyle had portrayed his hero in such a light? What if Holmes had a romantic soul alongwith his keenly analytical mind?

Tight direction, interesting story and some great action makes this a must-watch thriller.

25 January 2010

Ignorance of ability is the disability

Ever come across beggars when you stop at a traffic signal? What are the emotions that run through your mind? Pity? Disgust? Anger? Or just plain apathy?

I came across this beautiful video clip today. It is true that a picture is worth a thousand words. And this picture will convey all that I want to say-


video

09 January 2010

Avatar: Movie review

We've seen a lot of Hindi movies with English names, viz. Black, New York etc. But for the first time, an English movie with a Hindi name! And what a movie!

It has multiple themes - sci-fi, futuristic, war action, fantasy, romance & message for humanity. Its a brilliantly made movie - not only because of the technology used, and shown, in the movie; but also because all these different themes are sensitively inter-woven to make an extremely entertaining and paisa-vasool film.

James Cameroon switches gears from the past(Titanic) to the future(year 2154). By then, people of earth have frittered away all their natural resources, there is not a tree to be found anywhere and they are seeking minerals from other planets to survive. They target one such moon, belonging to another planet - Pandora. The vividness with which a parallel world has been brought alive along with its verdant greenery, earth-like creatures and tribal customs is mind blowing;. Yet it also gives a feeling that our own Earth was perhaps like this at the beginning of civilization. The movie has a bizarre amalgamation of an ultra-modern world complete with robots & state-of-the-art war ammunition and the rustic & spiritual world of the local Na'vi people. The movie flits between the two worlds in the form of the protagonist's 'Avatar'. The shrewd Earth folks have mastered the technology of creating 'Avatars' of human beings, who can breathe and look as the local Na'vi people. The strategy is to use this 'spy' to infiltrate the locals, gain their trust and thereby convince them to leave their paradise so that humans can steal the minerals below their soil. Somewhere along the line though, the sleeping 'humanity' creeps up on the protagonist and he helps the aliens to wage a war against his own race.

A beautiful movie - not only because of the breath-takingly lovely forest land and its inmates, but also in its message of anti-war and of protecting our Mother Earth. The dialog is quite potent in some places and the performances are excellent too. A must-watch movie, especially in a cinema hall - make sure to eat before going or carry your food in, as you will be glued to the seat once the movie begins!

06 January 2010

Photography

I've always been shy of being photographed. I belong to the category of people who think that their photos never come out well. A fact proved true in my case as at least a couple of people have commented that photography does not do justice to my fair features(Blush!). Ever since childhood I've hated looking at photo albums - especially those of other people. One of my pet peeves is when someone offers to show me their photo album, then points to a photograph full of school children and asks me to guess where he/she is! I remember one of my ex-managers had done this and all my colleagues had taken it up as a challenge. There was endless discussion over tea and lunch breaks and even I was forced to use my wits in order to identify him. My guess worked - I don't take any credit for that; it was just a fluke :)

At least in the earlier days, one could get away with murmuring a few appropriate words on seeing photos. But nowadays, a lot of people have started taking an avid interest in photography as an hobby. A lot of my friends know about the technical aspects of photography, the makes of latest cameras and even have accounts with online photo album sites. So, if you show them a photo, instead of commenting on the subject, they comment on the (shabby) quality of the photography! I had recently come from a trip abroad and was all agog with excitement to share photos with a friend. His first comment was - you guys have used too much flash; you need to experiment more with your camera! Suffice it to say that anyone who cared to photograph me in that instance would have landed a Kodak moment. And heaven forbid if, when you are presented with someone's photo, you do not ask which camera or what angle was used to take it. Whether you ask or not, you are subjected to a detailed lecture on the same.

I sincerely fail to understand why everyone is so hell-bent on showing off their photography skills. Its a creative art, I agree, but then so is computer programming. Imagine, if a programmer of a software game were to launch into technical jargon about the technology and design patterns used to write the game! Would a consumer of the game be interested in that? To me, a photo is just a way of capturing a moment for future reference. I believe that was what it was invented for originally. But nowadays, especially with the advent of digital cameras, people click away with gay abandon without a concern for the 'capturability' of the moment. They literally watch the scene through the camera lens rather than through their naked eye. It completely beats me what all this hullabaloo is all about.

Thanks to my husband though, I've started taking some interest in the art and craft of photography. I've learned that photos need to have a 'theme'. Photos can tell a lot about the subject as well as the photographer's train of thought. It is an intelligent art. I am now actually able to discern between the good and bad photos. And yes, I've come to realize that the quality of the photo does not necessarily depend on the subject; it rests more with the photographer. It all boils down to the comfort level between the photographer and his subject. And so I've begun to like my photos, especially those taken by my hubby:)

Would like to mention regarding a book that first exposed me to the significance of photography - The Bridges of Madison County. Its a sad, romantic tale of a married woman and a photographer who works for the National Geographic. The descriptions of the photos taken by him, which eventually lead her children to find him are very vivid and soulful. A must read.

05 January 2010

The neurons that shaped civilization

Ever wondered how you can 'empathize' with another human being? For the uninitiated, 'empathy' means to feel the pain felt by another without actually experiencing it. This has been attributed to something called mirror neurons.

The discovery of mirror neurons is fairly recent. I came across this video and wanted to share it. Neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran outlines the fascinating functions of mirror neurons in this video and calls them the connection between brain and humanity. A must watch.