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.

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