Thursday, June 8, 2017

Blog mera tera charcha ho!

Girlfriends... nothing in this world can replace them. Lesser is a woman who doesn't have a girlfriend who will travel 100s of miles just to tell her that she was missed. Some friends stay on for life. Some people become friends by accident. Circumstantial. But the true friendship is one where you allow the other person to laugh at your in-front of complete strangers.

You are in company of a true friend when she will call you a bitch and give you a hug at the same time. Your best friend is the one who will call you on a very busy day... and will be like... "Listen... are you busy?" and if you reply "yes!" they simply say... "Oh ok... but listen to this..." and then go on to say the most unimportant thing... that could have waited until the next year.

I have one such friend, who I rediscovered last week... We found each other... and how. You know who you are.. You have been my punching bag. You have seen me more drunk than anyone else. You picked me up and gave me the strength to walk when I thought it was impossible.

You are the only person who could tell me that I am wrong. You are also the only person who believed in me when I didn't believe in myself.

I can sit next to you for hours and not feel the need to talk. You finish my sentences. You cover-up my lies... even without me briefing you. The crazy times I had with you, can make for some really fun read.

You never receive calls. But when I need you the most I know you will fly down wherever I am. just so you can give me that hug and assure me that it will all fall in place.

I pity people who never had a friend who have accepted them with their flaws, and love them a little more because of them. You are not a friend, you are family. You are my alter ego.

Everyone hears what you say. Friends listen to what you say. Best friends listen to what you don’t say. How true. 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Chitrangada - The Warrior Princess...

I have been told many a times that Bengali women are different... Some call us loud, others independent, a few dominating but never meek.

Frankly speaking if you ask me,I have never really analyzed this ever, I just lived with the values I was brought up with. The way I saw all women in my life, that's exactly how I grew up to be. I don't know much about human nature or anthropology, be it social or cultural...or how people from each region behave. I do know one thing that I was taught as a kid... fight for the weak, stand up for yourself and the bullied. Never raise a hand on anyone, but if a hand is raised at you... break it.

That stuck with me. Growing up, we would be exposed to a whole lot of Bengali literature, poetry, music etc...Chitrāngadā, the story of the warrior princess from Manipur, was one such.

Chitrāngadā, a single child of the king of Manipur and the heir to the throne, dressed like a man and was the protector of the land. One day, she meets Arjun (Pandava from Mahabharata), and seeing his prowess as a hunter, she falls in love with him. However she believed he could never love her the way she was, and transformed herself into a beautiful feminine woman. When she met Arjun, enthralled by her beauty, he couldn't help but fall in love with her. However deep down the desire to be loved the way she truly was.. stayed alive. When Manipur came under attack, the people went in search of their warrior princess... Hearing her story, Arjun, now impressed and intrigued, longed to meet her. Chitrāngadā appeared and saved her kingdom before revealing her true self to Arjun.

There is this one song that comes at the end of the play... When Arjun proposed marriage to her, her introduction of herself and her conditions for her man, epitomized all that is a woman to me.

I am Chitrāngadā , a princess from a line of great kings
No goddess am I, nor an ordinary woman.
I do not crave worship nor ask to be exalted
No, that’s not me,
That you should ask me in passing to follow behind
No, that’s not me.
I ask to be at your side
In both the good times and ill,
And that you allow yourself to share
Equally in the penances that may come,
Then will you know my worth.
Today I just say unto you –
I am Chitrāngadā , a princess from a line of great kings

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 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.