Thursday, April 27, 2017

Armed Forces a whole new Tribe!

Culture is something that a person is born into… but is also forever evolving! I come from a totally civilian background… meaning neither my father nor anyone else from my family has ever stepped into a military organization let alone be part of one! Till I got married some 15 years back: I didn’t know that “Civilian” was a type of culture… or for that matter the “Armed Forces” that I got married into, is a clan or as I prefer to call it a “tribe” by itself! For a complete civilian like me the whole armed forces culture was a paradigm shift! Over here ladies eat before the men. Officers would always call the lady “Ma’am” unless otherwise requested! The first man would take a seat after the last lady has taken hers! But well one can say that’s British Chivalry that makes the armed forces the way they are… Ok, so go the figure this out... you invite 10 people for dinner 22 turn up… the extra 12 are what we call “bouncers”… no they don’t come bouncing in… or maybe they actually do! They are the proud gate crashers… in this culture the number of gate crashers are a symbol of the hosts popularity! Worse still imagine this scenario… you have retired for the night, as you are not well… at 10 pm you get a group of 15 bachelors come home… asking you to cook meal… or better still saying “we’d eat whatever you have cooked” (how considerate… normal people always have leftovers that can feed 15 hungry men! right?!). So when you say “we have already had our dinner as I am not well” the answer you get is quite contrary to what you expect - “That’s alright, Ma’am. We will have whatever you make!”, and all this because they think you are really nice and cool… and its their way of showing love and respect! One would think that all these should be really irritating right? On the contrary after the first few incidents, I now invite 15 and cook for 25… and always have some quick fire recipes in mind for the odd 10 bachelors who decide to “bounce” me for dinner… and weekends I always have 3 litres of milk boiled and kept for the stray cat…or the fighter pilot who might drop in at 0230 am for a cup of coffee! I don’t mind I am privileged and happy to be part of this tribe!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

I Wish I Knew...

खामोश है जो ये वो सदा है
वो जो नहीं है वो कह रहा है
साथीयों तुमको मीले जीत ही जीत सदा
बस इतना याद राहे एक साथी और भी था
जाओ जो लौट के तुम घर हो खुशी से भरा
जाओ जो लौट के तुम घर हो खुशी से भरा
बस इतना याद राहे एक साथी और भी था
बस इतना याद राहे एक साथी और भी था

Every time I listen to this song... I can't help remembering a friend of mine. Remembered him again... The recent abduction and killing of Lt Ummer Fayaz again brought those memories to the forefront.

It's as though it was just yesterday when he would come home and fight with me about inane things... or when he would waltz into our bedroom with his wife and boast about how nicely color coordinated their clothes are. :)
Or how when we were in Jodhpur he ould come to our place with a huge watermelon and sit and cut and eat it all by himself :) ... Yes he was capable of that....

Then there was the time when I threw him out of my house... don't remember why... but yes I fought with him as though he was the biggest slimeball...

How everytime we went for a party he and his wife would come with us... and I will make them sit at the back of our jeep and on the way back because of the chilling winter of North India I would con him into sitting next to my hubby....

How we could just pack our stuff and walk into their house ... once they moved to a different city and stay with them...

How my only regret was not saying bye to him properly...

I wish I gave him a tight hug.... If I knew that will be the last time I will see him... I would have said bye to him... like it was the last time ever...

I wish I knew when I threw him out of my house that after two years... I will wish for the same banter...

I wish I had got more opportunity to tell him how much he irritated me :(

I still remember the last new year card he sent us... Happy New Year to Bozo Bandi and Indica... He was a sweet little devil... But a lovable one at that....

When a friend dies, one isn't truly forgotten...

Specially when touched by the lives of others, without asking
From heart to heart, in such a loving, caring and unique fashion
When a friend dies, one isn't truly gone...
Though departed in the physical but remains in my mind's gate
With me forever, regardless of their untimely fate.

All those people whose lives you have touched... can never forget you... Should have written this when the pain was still raw... but then would not have been able to keep the pain from my post... maybe that's why I remembered you yesterday... and wanted to so say thanks for everything :)

We love you. We will miss you always... At times I think that this is all a very very bad joke... But then I realize that no one is laughing....

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Strong Women - Unicorn of the Human Race?

Are women strong? Or is it the male dominated society's way of telling women to be emotionally unavailable. Will the world be a better place if we were all emotionally unavailable? A place where no one pours their heart out. Not coz they don't know how, but coz they don't feel the need to. A perfect place where its every man or woman for himself/herself.

Is that the world we would be happier living in? Is that the society that I would want my 13 year old daughter to grow up in?

If a woman is emotionally available then does that make her a weak person?

Is a strong woman the present day unicorn of the human society? Is it fair on our part to expect the so called strong woman to always have her act together? Is she not entitled to a momentary lapse of sanity? Should her image of a strong woman as set by the societal expectations overrule her need for a support system?

A system that won't question her decisions with "Come on! How can you say that?" Its more difficult for us to come out in the open an accept that we need help. That's when the support system steps in...Without our personal emotional trainers we will all fall apart. But seeking help doesn't a weak woman make. It just makes you a strong person with momentary weakness.

Its hard to find people who will love you no matter what. When you do that... hold onto them for dear life :)

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Epitaphs... The Dead Inside

Some one recently asked me, what would my epitaph say. Got me thinking... how do you sum up a whole life's experiences in two to four lines? How do you convey it all in 60 words or less? We live our whole life  looking, running, seeking and running some more. Sometimes towards experiences and sometimes away from them. How do you sum it all up?

Walking through the cemetery at the St. John in the Wilderness Church, McLeodgunj... I couldn't but help think of that.

Every time I visit any cemetery, be it the South Park Street Cemetery in Kolkata or any other... I always make it a point to stop and read the carvings on each and every tomb. It's a surreal feeling. When I was 15, I was moved by one such grave of a little girl who died at the tender age of 15, exactly the same age as I was then. Now I am 40, however she is still 15. Successfully stopping time. Managing to stay forever young. While I grew up, enriched with experiences, some beautiful, some bittersweet...

Every grave has a story to tell, yet those laid there must have had so many more stories and dreams and aspirations that were buried with their mortal remains. The epitaphs on their tombs don't even begin to do justice to who they were.

I stop to look at few more, some who died in action in some war, some of old age, some when they were merely 10 days old. Laid to rest by their families, almost a century back. Now gathering dust...A grave also hosts the unfulfilled dreams of all those who wait patiently for a visit from their loved ones, for a candle to be lit...a tear to be shed. Hoping that someone, somewhere is remembering them....

I go back home... still wondering what my epitaph would say?

Her who dared to dream, here lies she,
The dreamer of dreams, from strife is set free.
Finally her wings are at rest, after her flight,
Her caravan has parked for the eternal night. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Keep Calm : Take Up A 30 Day Challenge.

Sometimes our lives can get so caught up with the day to day mundanes... that we forget what it was like to have a simpler life. When at times, we have the time to sit back and think about it... we want to do all those small little simple things that are normally so easy to do but we never find the time for. I, over the last few days, came up with over 12 such simple activities that in isolation may not mean much but when done as a regime... can be quite life altering.

This is going to be the year of 30 day challenges... one challenge each month.

April: Water up 

Water is that magical liquid that can help us get our life on suppresses appetite, aids in digestion, fights bloating, tones out muscles, flushes the toxins out of our systems, reduces cholesterol , helps liver function, and last but not the least stops us from confusing hunger with thirst.

May: No more Nail bites

I bite my nails. It's a habit that bothers me and is something I have wanted to stop doing all my life, I am going to make a change and phase this habit out of my life. They say anything you do for 30 days in a row... becomes habit formin... I pledge to quit nail biting for 30 days!

June: Get out and breathe in

Couch Potato, that I am ... I end up staying indoors most days. I find myself spending most of my days cooped up inside looking at a computer screen, some fresh air will definitely be more helpful, with this challenge I make it a point to get out every day and breathe in some fresh air. Walk for an hr every day, come hell or high water

July: ARK/Complement time

Putting a smile on someone else’s face is always a guaranteed way to put a smile on our faces too! I vow to take the next 30 days either completing one act of random kindness or giving a compliment to someone every single day and see if making others happy makes me happier too.

August: Create something beautiful every day. 

Too often we fail to make time for the things we most love to do. I promise to carve a few minutes out of my day for 30 days straight to spend on it.

Spending time doing things we love and working on our passions is a surefire way to be happier and feel more fulfilled!

September: This is the month to give up tea.

I am a huge tea addict (I’m guilty!), it will be challenging to see if I can go entire 30 days without consuming tea and replacing it with green tea.

Perhaps at the end of 30 days I will still want to have my usual morning tea, but maybe not and will be comfortable with green tea and can feel good about it.

October: Month long spring cleaning

I you’ve been feeling overwhelmed by the amount of clutter and general stuff in my home lately, I decided to use this opportunity to ease into the process of decluttering and freeing up space. So I will be donating, tossing, or selling just one item a day for 30 days in a row.

November: Read a book

Can't remember the last time I read a book. Not because I had to, but just for the sake of enjoying a good book?

It can be difficult to carve time out of a day to cozy up with a good book and let myself get lost in it, but it always feels so amazing when we do that! It’s good to let our mind wander and just enjoy a good story or even learn something new. I will try reading one chapter of a book every night before bed for the next 30 days and see if it helps me feel more relaxed and maybe even inspire me.

December: Connect Outside Social Media

We are all so engrossed in FB/Instagram etc... that we have forgotten how to connect with our friends in real life. I take this opportunity to connect with one friend from Social media world, everyday for the next 30 days.

January: Cook or bake something new each day.

All those who know me know that I hate to cook/bake. SO I take it upon myself to prove them wrong. So this month I will cook/bake something new everyday. and document the recipe and the experience.

February: Watch a film a day

This is the month of love and romance... I will make it a point to watch one movie a day for the next 30 days, start watching it and finish it, and write one thing that I likes good about the movie I saw. One line of appreciation.

March: Spend 30 days being a vegetarian or vegan

I am a complete non vegetarian... so its time I keep an open mind about vegetarian. So here is my challenge keep and open mind and eat only veg food for 30 days.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Fidelity: A state of the mind?

My friends are my window to the world. They are my constant source of information about the current dating scenario. I won't lie, I take immense interest in their lives, not only because I love them, but also because they never cease to amaze me about what it is like to date in your mid 30s- mid 40s, in this era or technology.

With the onset of online messengers, and dating apps, everyone is connected 24x7. A message at 11:53, as innocent as "Hey, I like your DP" from a long lost colleague or an ex is no longer public knowledge. Gone are those days that the only means of connect was a landline or a mobile phone... even the internet boom and plethora of online dating websites perhaps didn't change the dating demography as much as the advent of smartphones did.

Thus adultery, infidelity or extramarital affairs however you refer to them, is slowly becoming everyday occurrences. I read somewhere, that a person's tolerance towards infidelity is directly proportional to the extent their own moral compass would let them drift. To someone even casual flirting with a person of opposite sex is deception, while for some other, physical intimacy doesn't count as adultery if there is no emotional connect.

So, is that what it is all about? Is fidelity just a state of mind? Why do people seek? I refuse to use the word stray... as that has a negative connotation.

Are they really seeking pleasure outside of their current relationships? Or are they desperately trying to look for the person, that they were many moons back? That person who is now lost in the mundane routine of day to day existence? The constant search for what they were and escape from what they have become.

To be noted here is that I am not condoning infidelity, I am just playing a devil's advocate... trying to understand why people tend to look outwards in a relationship. May be it's never about the third person, maybe it's about rediscovering themselves. Maybe if a couple is evolving together, everyday and never lose that connect with who they were and what they are...  every time they'd look outwards, they'd only find each other. Adding dimensions to their lives, marriage, relationships, and as a result their own selves.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Dear Daughter...

                                                     Pic courtesy: Google Image Search

Dear Daughter,

You are going to be 13 soon, a teenager. A young adult.

Soon you will leave home. (precisely 5 yrs time) I know its a scary thought. And I ain't going to sugar coat it. In the next 5 years you will have all the support you can from us. If you choose to study further. I will be burning the midnight oil with you. If you choose not to... you will HAVE to start to work. If that happens, then you will have to be independent. I am not that mom who will support all your whims and pay for your wants, thus driving home the point that there indeed are no free lunches in this world. Coz, my dear daughter, there aren't any. Sooner you learn that, that much easier this life will be for you. You have five years to decide...While you are at it... I think I will make your room into a studio for my art work :)

You are a wonderful and beautiful child, you always have been. I was not even remotely as good are you are now. (No wonder my mother wishes your were her daughter!). I’ve known you for almost 13 years, and you are way way more awesome than I could ever imagine my daughter to be... even when I kept praying for a girl child. Always remember, if someone doesn't understand that... then that's their problem... never yours.

Never ever, consider me as an idol/example. You and I are like chalk and cheese. You have a different personality, I have my own. We don't have to like/dislike the same things/people. I give you all the freedom to choose your own destiny, values and devils. However, the fallout of this is: You have to own all your decisions, the good, the bad and even the ugly ones. I take no responsibility whatsoever.

Whether you choose to become a high flying corporate woman, a bartender, a belly dancer, a struggling artist or just a stay home mother... I will never judge you. It's not in my place to interfere in any of your life choices.

Remember, it was our duty to bring you up as a good human being. It is not an investment towards our future. I don't expect you to take care of me and provide for my old age, similarly I don't expect you to shape your life hoping for an inheritance from us. What we earn is for our future, and to ensure that we don't burden you in your future.

Whatever path you choose for yourself, remember, I will always be your there for you 24x7. I will laugh with you and cry with you in your sorrow. I will be ready with my advise if you so seek, but never extend it uninvited. However, remember I will always have my own life and not be there to help you at the snap of your fingers. I don't have to, neither will I, sacrifice my personal space for every comfort of yours. I can. But don't HAVE to.

As you grow up you will realize that there is no formula for success or to avoid failure. You can't control every situation. You can do everything right and still have a crappy life while at the same time do all things wrong and still end up with a fairy-tale life. The only thing that you can control is being honest to yourself. Never lie to your own self. Learn to understand yourself. Your needs. Your happiness. Only when you are truly happy can you be happy for others.

Remember, ever action of yours will have a consequence. You will never be able to foresee them. But try and be prepared for every conceivable outcome that you can imagine. The more number of outcomes you can imagine that much more easier it will be for you to decide upon each course of action that you take.

I’ve enumerated 8 points that I consider as life hacks. But, as I said above, you are not me. Don’t compare yourself to me. Don’t think that our lives should or can correspond in every way. I have lived my life on my own terms, I would expect the one person I have brought into this world to do the same too. Go live your life on your own terms.

8a. Just don’t expect me to fix your mistakes.
8b. And never ignore my calls, how many ever times I call you in the day.