How to train a book dragon!

In the beginning of the year I had resolved to read 200 books this year, having read 158 books the previous year.

I don’t count the books I have read but at the end of year, I take stock of what kind of books I am reading. I just list out the books from my #NowReading on twitter.

After 8 months, I am happy to share that I have more than met my target, having read approx 140 books till date. I have also ensured that I am challenging my comfort zone, reading books which I won’t usually read or enjoy. Like Lincoln in the Bardo (the weirdest book I have read this year)

Some books have been easy and some books were tedious and some books average. I have sacrificed food, sleep and social life. Writing my own book (s) has been put on a back burner.

I could achieve this only because I really really love reading books.

Conclusion: You can achieve anything you want as long as you enjoy doing that. This lesson is now going to be applied to several other things that deserve my attention.

PS:
Me: I finished reading 100 books Where is my medal?
Dad: I will give you a gift instead
Me: What?
Dad: Bucks (to buy more books)
???

Shillong / Cherrapunji, A glimpse of North East – Part Four

Guys, last part in the series! Thank you for bearing with me 😀

Cherrapunji: If any place can be your soulmate, I can say Cherrapunji is definitely the one for me! Anybody who knows me really well, knows how crazy I am about rains! Ever since I was a kid, I have never skipped a chance to get drenched in the beautiful rains!

Cherrapunji is a beautiful place, where it rains through out the year, barring from November to February. I took MTC bus for the day trip, but to really enjoy the place, plan a 2-3 days trip. Specially to go trekking at the double decker living root bridge at Nongriat. I really regret not being able to visit this iconic place. Also, do carry umbrellas, wind cheaters and warm clothing with you.

Mawkdok bridge was the entry point to Cherrapunji. It gave a glimpse of what was lying ahead. Lush greenery, cleanliness and beauty. It was like we had entered an altogether different world!

After stopping for a while to take in all the beauty, relishing a hot cup of tea and a heavy photo session, we moved to Mawsmai Caves. It had started raining and people were reluctant to get down of the bus to visit the caves. But some of us, including me, were very enthusiastic to enjoy the rains and the caves! I might not be bungee jumping kind of adventurous, but this I could very well do 🙂

Mawsmai caves are natural limestone caves. They are lit enough to enjoy the various shapes in the cave. Certain areas inside the cave are narrow, but I could easily crawl through them. It was a thrilling experience specially towards the end of the cave.

Seven Sister Falls: As per the local guide, you need to visit in the monsoon season to enjoy the seven sisters falls in its full glory!

Eco Park: A beautiful park maintained by the Government of Meghalaya. The waterfalls are breathtaking and so is the view of the green canyons! Fun Fact: A black dog started following me just like the little lamb of Mary, a previous birth connection, maybe?

ThangKharang Park: This park is the source of the Kynrem Falls and you can also have a great view of the Bangladesh plains. The park is beautifully studded with various types of trees. It was not very crowded, like Eco Park. The rains continued and I was feeling quite chilly to be able to enjoy the beauty.

Khoh Ramhah / Maw trop: The giant natural rock formation resembles a huge upturned conical Khasi basket. According to legend the fossilized stone basket belonged to an evil giant who troubled the people through his greed and unsocial behaviour. In order to get rid of him, the people offered him a meal mixed with sharp irons and nails which killed the greedy evil giant. The basket which he left turned into a stone approximately 200 ft high.

Ramkrishna Mission Ashram: I was fully drenched by now and also it was raining continuously hence was in no mood to click pics. Since it was Sunday, the school and temple were closed. We did visit the cultural museum on the first floor. A beautiful and lovely jhanki of the north eastern states!

Nohakalikai Falls: By the time we reached the falls, the rains had stopped but it was too windy and i was chilled to the bones! I had a hot cup of coffee and Maggi in a restaurant situated near the falls. The coffee was good but I was still cold. I saw the falls from the gallery of the restaurant itself. The falls are just fabulous and mesmerising!

This was one of the best trip I ever had for more than one reason!

Fun Fact: On the way back to Shillong, the bus was twisting a lot and I lost my grip on the handle and fell inside the bus and here I was hoping to be remembered as a brave girl who came visiting the North East all the way from Mumbai and who was crazy enough to get drenched in the rains, wearing only shorts and a sleeveless top, while others were feeling cozy in their sweaters.

This is not good bye (as he once said to me) but this was just a pause. We will meet soon!!

Shillong / Cherrapunji, A glimpse of North East – Part Three

The more I write about Shillong, the more I ache to go back there. I now know why we say mountains are calling. Also the reason I had to take a break for a while. Monsoon is here in Mumbai, the climate is pleasant and greener. I can now write about Shillong without the urge to fly there.

The Dawki tour was quite exhausting so I decided to take it easy on the next day. After a good breakfast at Madras Cafe, I hired a cab to tour Shillong. The charges are Rs. 1500/- for the tour and Rs. 2000/- if you include Laitlum  Canyons. Worth it, if you are travelling in a group. The cab driver belonged to the Khasi tribe and followed Christianity. He was very chatty and was totally fixated on my weight and my single status. It was annoying but I did not let on as I wanted to know more about the local culture. He was single too and cribbing a lot about Khasi girls, on how city life has ruined them. Also, very proud of the fact that they don’t use much oil or masalas in their food, which helps them be healthy. The Khasi girls are really pretty and strong and the kids super cute! I was too shy to ask them if I could click their pictures. Next time, I hope I have more courage :p

Shillong Tour: Remember that most of the places are closed on one day or the other. Ward’s Lake is closed on Tuesday and Museums are closed on Sunday. So plan your tour accordingly.

Ward’s Lake: Ward’s lake is a horse shoe shaped artificial lake, surrounded by a lush garden. Boating facility also available. It is peaceful in the morning. You could just stroll around the garden, do boating, carry a book and read in peace. The lake is 100 years old but very well maintained. Must visit place.

Right opposite to the Ward’s Lake, there is a rose garden. Don’t miss Nehru’s statue :p

Lady Hydari Park: Lady Hydari Park is named after the wife of the first Governor of Assam. The local name is Ka Phan Nonglait Park and Animal Land. It is a huge and beautiful park. There are lots of varieties of plants, shrubs and trees. You will be welcomed by a heart shaped fountain. There is also a section for kids playground, equipped with slides and swings. There is a small pond, with ducks and pelicans. And the garden also has a mini zoo. The zoo, however is not well maintained and is quite pathetic. Since it was drizzling, could not see all the animals.

Catholic Church: Apparently the first church in Shillong. It’s very beautiful. When I visited, Sunday Mass was going on, hence didn’t go inside the church. The people were sitting outside and singing the hymns. The area surrounding the church is beautiful and peaceful!

Golf Course: Nothing much to see here except the green expanse.

Elephant Falls: As per Mr. Modi, this is a must visit place. But tbh, I have seen better falls. Here there was lots of crowd, it was raining and people were just clicking selfies. Not a very enjoyable moment for me atleast. The falls are divided into three parts..

After Elephant Falls, it was time for Shillong Peak. However, there was lots of traffic on the way to the peak (yep!) So I asked the cabbie to take me to Laitlum instead. We pass lots of small villages on the way to Laitlum. The drive itself is worth it. If you have only one place to go in Shillong, this should be it!

Laitlum Canyons: It’s a beautiful place with a breathtaking view. Nothing to do here except enjoy the view, chill and take lots of pictures. The clouds come anytime so there would be times where you can’t see anything in front of you. Be careful though as accidents can happen here.

Khasi King’s traditional house

The Khasi Hindu Pooja Ritual

Cherrapunji: Part Four 🙂

 

Shillong / Cherrapunji, A glimpse of North East – Part Two

To experience the full essence of a place, you need more than a 4 days, 3 nights trip. Not everybody is lucky though, to get that much time. Before travelling to Shillong, I spent days perfecting my itinerary. To make sure that I don’t miss out on any important experiences. Twitter and Blogs helped me a lot. So this is my way of taking it forward. Sharing with you my experiences, so that you could benefit from them and also add in some facts which I did not find on the internet.

Guwahati: Guwahati is the largest city of Assam, largest urban area of the North East and also the gateway to the other states of the North East. There are lots of places to see in and around Guwahati. Guwahati is smattered with temples and wildlife sanctuaries. The very famous Kamakhya temple, Umananda temple, Navgraha temple (It is known as a city of temples for a reason), Brahmaputra River, Saraighat bridge, Assam State Museum, Assam State Zoo, Deepor Beel, are some of the places you can visit. The best way to reach Kaziranga National Park (The land of the Rhinos). If you don’t have time to visit Kaziranga, you can visit Pobitro Wildlife sanctuary, which is known as miniature Kaziranga.

Kamakhya Temple, Umananda Temple, War Cemetery and Kaziranga National Park were on my itinerary but due to certain reasons, I ended up going only to the Kamakhya Temple.

The distance from Paltan Bazaar is approximately 8 Kms. I took an Ola cab from the hotel, which dropped me till the hill top. You get a very picturesque view from the hill top. From the parking spot, the temple is at a short distance & you need to climb steps to reach. There are shops lined up on the way selling puja items. If you buy something from there, you can get to keep the shoes for free else you can keep your shoes near  the temple. They charge around 15 bucks (Taaka as they say) to safeguard your shoes. Reasonable if you are going to be in the normal darshan queue as it might take hours. I did not want to spend my time standing in the queue so I opted for the VIP ticket (500 rupees) Do not fall prey to the pandits over there as they would charge double the money.

Apart from flower offerings, people also sacrifice birds and goats as an offering to the Goddess.

Birds for sacrifice 🙁

They have shared taxi services which will take you to the main road from the temple. They charge 10 Rs. per seat. From the main road, I took a private bus (Rs. 20/-) to go back to Paltan Bazar. On my way I spotted Gateway of Assam None of the must visit blogs refer to this place. I regret not getting down to explore the place.

I roamed the market area for a while, drinking in the sights and smells of the place, specially the vegetable market. Was looking for something different than what we get in Mumbai. The laukis were huge in size but the eggplants were long and delicate.

After a sumptuous breakfast, i checked out of the hotel and started my search for a share taxi for Shillong. Full cab charges is 1500 Rs. Ola outstation rentals also provide service from Guwahati to Shillong. Shared cab costs you 300 – 350 Rs.

The distance from Guwahati to Shillong is roughly three hours and the drive is very scenic! You would be tempted to get out of the car and take pictures or just stare at the view, mesmerised.

Shillong: Shillong is a famous hill station and capital of Meghalaya. It is also known as Scotland of the East. The weather in Shillong is pleasant and the air is so clean! It is a joy to walk in and around Shillong as it is a very walk friendly place. I went there end of April and it rained couple of times (not heavy rains, just a drizzle) The temperature drops to 12 – 14 degrees. There is lush greenery all around. Whatever the season, do not forget to carry umbrellas and warm clothes with you.

Police Bazar: Police Bazar, also known as PB, is the heart of the city and a very noisy and crowded place. The shops close down at 9 PM. The office of Meghalaya Travel Corporation is here, where you can book helicopter and bus services to various places. Right across the big building, there is office of Meghalaya Tourist Corporation from where you can get bus / cars for various tourist points. You can also get private cars / Sumos from Police Bazar

Rhino Heritage Museum: Disappointed by the fact that I had to drop my plans for Kaziranga, I was happy to know about this museum. Fun Fact: This museum has nothing to do with Rhino, the animals. It is all about the soldiers of North East, particularly Assam Rifles, who call themselves Rhinos. It is a beautiful tribute to the soldier. There is a silver Rhino outside the museum and a garden with seating area on the backside. There is also a tank placed outside the museum. A pleasant way to spend the evening!

The Bada Bazar (Burra Bazar / Lewduh Market) is nearby but I missed to visit as I had to book the tickets from MTC.

Dawki & Mawlynnong: Dawki & Mawlynnong tour conducted by MTC covers 5 points. Canyon Valley, Living Root Bridge at Riwai village, Mawlynnong, Dawki and the Indo Bangladesh border.

Canyon Rngain Valley View Point: This is also known as the Deep Dark Valley. The view is simply spectacular! Wherever you look, there are green hills and deep valleys!

Living Root Bridge at Riwai Village: Next stop was the living root bridge at Riwai Village. The bridge is a miracle created by man and nature. The roots of the Rubber tree are weaved in such a manner that it creates a natural bridge. The bridge was created to join two villages, which were separated by a river. You need to climb down 200-250 stairs to reach to the bridge from the parking spot. The bridge is delicate and it is advised not to stand on the bridge or click photographs standing on the bridge. You can walk on the bridge though. The way is lined with small shops selling refreshments, berries, bamboo products, support sticks and other paraphernalias. One more fascinating thing was bamboo trash cans (annoying thing – tourists still threw the trash here & there as if the world is their dustbin)

Mawlynnong: Known as the cleanest village in Asia, Mawlynnong was our next stop. It is 2 Kms from the Riwai village. As per the guide, there are 100 houses in the village. There is a person charging 20 bucks to show Bangladesh border from a structure on a private property. Found it funny. Rest of the people had lunch and roamed around the village while I got myself clicked in a typical Khasi dress. The dress is worn by Khasi Hindus during religious functions. The girl asked me where were my friends and was surprised to know I was travelling alone. She didn’t know Hindi nor much English but we still managed to communicate somehow. At that moment, she was my friend. 🙂

Indo Bangladesh Border: From Mawlynnong we moved on to Dawki. By this time you get used to the beauty of the surrounding areas and silently enjoy it. Even with closed eyes you can feel the lush greenery around you! To reach the border, you need to cross bridge on the Umngot River, Dawki. Dawki is between India and Bangladesh. Even part of the Umngot river belongs to Bangladesh. It was really funny to see people excited to go to the Bangladesh border. We crossed the Dawki bridge to go to Tamabil (Bangladesh village near border). The bridge is patrolled and at a time only one vehicle can pass through. It was exciting to see Indian soldiers and the Indian flag and Welcome to India board filled me with a sense of pride! The Muktapur milestone (this side of India) reminded me of Mukti Bahini.

Umngot River: The most beautiful river I have ever seen! The beauty cannot be described in words. We were so enchanted by the river! When the boatman said, the river is muddy right now (the water was clear) and you should come in winter to see the real beauty, we were pleasantly shocked. If the river is so clear right now, how it would be in winter!! There are tenting, fishing and kayaking options available too. You can stay over to enjoy the mesmerizing beauty of the river.

The journey will continue in the next part…

Shillong / Cherrapunji, A glimpse of North East – Part One

It had been a hectic few months and I needed a vacation badly. I booked tickets to Guwahati on my birthday, as a birthday gift to self! Since then I had been planning my itinerary to Shillong. It was supposed to be Sikkim originally though.

In 2017, I was transcribing a docurmentary on Sikkim for a friend and in the process I learnt quite a bit about the state. I had made up my mind to go there for my next vacation. How did I end up in Shillong then? We had Meghalaya day at work for which I did some research and Shillong replaced Sikkim just like that.

While planning my itinerary, I was amazed to know that Nepal and Bhutan were so close to the North East. I mean, you have a general idea but you only realise certain things when you look closely. The distance from Mumbai to North East still did not hit me.

I did no check ins on Facebook. No updates on Instagram or twitter. Not many people knew about my trip. I wanted it to be a social media free trip, a solo travel in the true sense. I had infact deleted all apps (including Outlook – did not want to be bothered by office mails either) But while returning from Shillong, I did check in to Facebook and FB showed me the length of my travel. I shared the pic with my dad.

And then we googled the distance I had travelled. It was 3000 KM! (From the highest point I had travelled, that was Cherrapunji) My dad was amazed that I travelled such a long distance. Though this would not be a big deal for many, consider this, I was not allowed to get in Mulund college & was forced to study in a college in Dombivli because my parents thought I would not be able to travel in train daily. So it *WAS* a big deal for me!

Coming back to my trip..

North East India has always been fascinating for me. Be it the mountains, lakes, culture or history. We have grown up seeing the beauty of the seven sisters, as the north eastern states are fondly called in photographs, movies and documentaries. I was super excited for my trip and kept browsing for places to visit.

This was my final planned itinerary:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I arrived at Guwahati Airport around 1:15 PM. I was welcomed with a glimpse of Assam and it made me look forward to my trip even more!

The departure area has many more pictures depicting Assam. Also, there is a Goodwyn Tea shop from where you can get different types of teas for your friends and there is a handicraft shop, from where I got a gamchha for dad. The sarees are way too expensive though!

View of Saraighat Bridge from air!

Kamakhya Temple – Painting

As I was travelling to the hotel, the first thought was, I am in ASSAM! It was unbelievable! I was in the land of Bhupen Hazarika, Kaziranga National Park and tea plantations! But it was terribly hot & once I reached the hotel, I did not venture out. Just enjoyed lazying in my awesome room! One fantastic fact about Guwahati was that all boards (atleast at the bus stops) are in Assamese. I had to rely on one co-passenger to know where I had to get down. Another fantastic thing is that Ola cabs are easily available in Guwahati.

Guwahati is the common point to go to all the North Eastern states. You can get taxis from the airport for any place you want to go to. In Guwahati itself there are plenty of places to visit. Kamakhya Temple, Brahmaputra River, Umananda Temple, War Cemetry, Saraighat Bridge, etc. Book a hotel in the main market area like Paltan Bazar or GS Road. They are focal points to all the places you may want to visit. There is also a share taxi stand in Paltan Bazar from where you can get a cab to Shillong. (A direct cab ride costs 1500 rupees – Ola outstation works too for going to Shillong) A shared cab may cost 300 – 350 rupees. The cab will drop you at Police Bazar in Shillong.

The drive from Guwahati to Shillong is very scenic and you get to see Lake Umiam (commonly known as Barapani Lake) Sadly, I did not get to take a picture but the view of the lake is breathtaking!

In Paltan Bazar, there is an awesome Oyo Rooms hotel available, Onyx Garden. The ambience was very romantic and there was a mirror on the bathroom door. I just fell in love with the room! The service was very good too. They have varied breakfast options for each day of the week and the morning I was there, it was Aloo Paratha. Quality & quantity totally worth the money!

Police Bazar is the main market area in Shillong. Meghalaya Transport office is also in Police Bazar (Jail Road to be specific) Even though everything would be accessible in Police Bazar, if you want peace & quiet, don’t book your stay here. You can stay in Batti Bazar (Laban)  where I stayed or Laitumkhrah. Both places are around 2.5 KM from Police Bazar. You can get a cab easily from these places to Police Bazar and you can also walk if you wish, taking advantage of the pleasant climate and walk friendly roads.

I stayed in Oyo Homestay in Batti Bazar. It was a decent place and friendly people. I got allotted the best room because I was a solo female traveller :p There were lots of ATMS and shops around. There was also a church (laban presbyterian church) and a school around. It’s more of a residential area, Fun Fact: Swami Vivekananda lived nearby. Unfortunately, I could not have a look of the house he lived in.

View from my room – Woke up to this!

Things I love about hotel rooms – a spacious bed all for myself!

I reached Shillong around 1:30 PM, took a cab to my hotel (50 rupees if you take a “reserved” cab. 10 rupees if you take a shared cab) After freshening up, I went to the Rhino Heritage Museum in Bada Bazar (Lewduh) and then walked towards the Meghalaya Transport Corporation as I had to book tickets for Cherrapunji (I had decided to travel by public transport as much as possible)

The tourist tickets for Shillong / Cherrapunji are available at the Meghalaya Tourist Centre (and not in the main building of MTC) The office is next to Purbashree Emporium (I found it the best place to buy souveniers for friends and family) and Meghalaya Handloom House. The office timings are 7:45 AM to 7 PM in the evening. It is better to book tickets on the previous day. There is also a chance that the trip might get cancelled if there not enough tourists (like the trip to Mawsynram was cancelled as not enough people)

The MTC conducts various tours – Dawki Mawlynnong (500 rupees), Cherrapunji (350 rupees) and Shillong (300 rupees) You can also get cars on hire from them. You can also get private cabs on hire (Plenty of taxi and Sumos near the MTC office) You can share the cab or take one for your own.

Since I was super tired after the Dawki trip, I took a cab next day to explore Shillong. They charge you 1500 rupees for the tour and 2000 if you include Laitlum Canyon.

The day begins very early in the North East. Daylight happens around 4 – 4:30 AM & sunset around 5 PM. The climate is very pleasant and it also rained couple of days I was there. The shops and restaurants close down at around 9 PM. There is a Subway in Police Bazar, You can get north indian chaats and all kind of Indian sweets in the Dilli Mishtaan Bhandar (It is in the lane of Golden Arrow) They do have a seating area, if you want to sit & have a bite. In the morning, you will find lots of tea stalls selling tea and Puri Bhaji. Somehow, didn’t feel like experiencing that. I did find an amazing restaurant in Police Bazar – Madras Cafe. The entry was narrow so I was sceptical, but it is actually a wonderful place for Indian food.

Cherrapunji is rightly the wettest (now second) place on Earth. It is so so beautiful! All you see is mountains, dense trees on the mountains and clouds for miles at stretch. The mountains are peppered with waterfalls. The locals say that the real glory of the waterfalls can be seen from June to August. It rains all times of the year, except for the winter months. It is recommended to stay for couple of days so that you can enjoy the beauty of the place and also can go for the Living Root bridge trekking. Will take atleast 4-5 hours to cover this place.

Even though I was travelling alone, I did not feel lonely. The other tourists on the bus were very friendly and after a while we became one family. When we took a pit stop on the way to Shillong, my purse was locked in the dicky and I wanted to buy a bottle of water. A honeymooning couple let me borrow money to buy it. And they kept asking if I wanted to buy fruits or chips. Once when we got lost in the Mawlynnong village, a South Korean woman (who was also travelling alone) went to search for me and when I wanted to do boating in the Dawki River (They rent the boat and do not take single passengers), one uncle gave up his place in the boat they had already hired so that I can enjoy the boating (I did pay my share of fare though). I also got lots of admiration from fellow travellers and locals when they came to know I was travelling alone & I had come all the way from Mumbai. Most of the tourists are from West Bengal or Guwahati.

As my sisters said, travelling alone is liberating and you get a chance to discover yourself!

Here’s to more travels, more experiences and many more stories to share!!

Forget Me Not

They tricked destiny for a chance dalliance. But soon they had to part ways. He was not strong enough to stay, she was not weak enough to ask him to.

Years passed by. Both wondered. Does he/she think about me? Does he/she misses me? Does something triggers his/her memory and brings on a sweet but sharp pain in the heart?

And then they realised, of course. The love that they shared could not be so easily forgotten. They were not brought together due to some tragedy or need of the hour. They were attracted to each other only because of their own selves. With each moment of togetherness, they had planted a little bit of their own being into the other.

They would live forever in each other. The songs, the nicknames, the food, the spices, the laughter and the tears, the fights and the love would always make them miss  like one misses a lost limb. And the sweet,  sharp pain in the heart? That was theirs too forever!! 

I am not poetry

I am not poetry.

I am not a leaf to curl and tremble
I am not the pretty flower you want me to resemble
I am neither the star to shine and sparkle
I am not honey nor a cookie to crumble
I am not poetry.

I am a storm which makes dust fly
I am the spice which makes people cry
I am a thorn which will prick your eye
I am a scorn you won’t forget even if you try
I am not the calm, I am the chaos you don’t want to pry

I am not poetry.

Top Posts 2017

One more year goes by and the regret of not writing as much as I should lingers. In 2017 I did have so much to write about. Well, here’s hoping 2018 is a much better year and also the year where I finally finish writing my book.

My top posts of 2017:

A Walk To Remember: A rainy July morning, two best friends and beautiful nature for company.         It will always be a walk to remember by!

❣ Will You Read My Book?: A fiction inspired by someone’s wish tweet. I hope it gets fulfilled some         day!

 Mourning: This was a much commented post. This one is so close to my heart!

 Wine in a Teacup: Based on a writing prompt. This was appreciated too by my tiny circle of                   readers.

❣ Delhi: An old fascination, an impromptu travel plan. Read about a Mumbai girl’s experiences in           the capital city!

❣ Closure: Have you ever waited for an apology and being forgiven instead? This phenomenon is           more common than I imagined. Fiction, based on a true experience.

❣ Panic Mode On: Written in the aftermath of the Elphinstone Road stampede.

❣ Game of Thrones: I was fascinated by Game of Thrones, the books as well as the series and then I read the Mughal series by Alex Rutherford. The similarities would blow your mind!

❣ Red Herring: I loved writing this. I think this is one of my most underrated posts.

Smrutichitre – Not a book review

I read a lot of books but I rarely review them. Sometimes a book touches me so much that I am compelled to write something about it.

I came across Smrutichitre via a fellow book lover’s Insta feed. It is a memoir of Laxmibai Tilak (not to be confused with any relative of Lokmanya Tilak). I remembered we had a chapter in Marathi textbook, where she adopts a poor girl (she thinks she is an orphan but actually her parents sell her off to get some relief from their poverty) I had to read the book and it was available in the e-book format from BookGanga (The quality of ebook is not so good and also Kindle has spoiled us to expect user friendly reading) Coming back to the memoirs, Laxmibai Tilak was the wife of Narayanrao Wamanrao Tilak, who had converted to Christianity. The reasons for conversion are never explained but one of the reasons could be the caste discrimination. Tilak was a Hindu Brahmin and I think he did not like the way Shudras were treated. Another reason being he actually fell for the charms of Jesus courtesy the missionaries he came across during his travels.

Laxmibai Tilak stayed apart from her husband for years post his conversion. However, inspite of their marriage being arranged, the love between them was so strong and true, they reunited and Laxmibai herself converted to Christianity. They both dedicated their life to serving the poor and needy.

The most fascinating thing about the memoirs is that it covers the period between  1860 to 1920. This was the period where the freedom struggle had started (though there is hardly any mention about it in the memoirs) It is interesting to know the customs that prevailed during those times, the struggle people faced while travelling even a short distance, within Maharashtra, the poverty which made people take drastic steps, like selling / abandoning their children, the drought, the plague, so on and so forth!

Even though Laxmibai was not much educated (whatever she learnt was due to her husband’s influence) she has done a good job in penning down this book. It is written straight from the heart. It does get tedious and monotonous at times.

If you can understand Marathi, I would recommend you to read this in the original format, to get the flavour of the language that was prevalent then. Otherwise you can go for the English translation.

Books of 2017

Just counted the books I have read in 2017 & I can’t believe the number is 158! This does not include the Complete works of Sherlock Holmes, Oscar Wilde, Jane Austen, Treasure Island & Overcoat (a short story by Gogol) which I re-read this year. As far as books are concerned, 2017 has been a fortunate year. Books have been my best friends. They distracted me from the hell I was going through in my life & also gave me company during sleepless nights. I also discovered some really amazing authors thanks to Amazon’s pocket friendly deals! Can you believe I got the Nobel prize winning book only for 40 bucks? The 9, 29 & 39 deals have been such a blessing for a book hoarder like me! 😀

The most fascinating read of the year is A Song of Ice & Fire. I was not a Game of Thrones fan, infact I didn’t understand what the hoopla was all about. But after I read the book, I got hooked. I read all the 5 books of the series and watched all the 7 seasons of the show (Thanks to Hotstar) And I am now eagerly awaiting The Winds of Winter (GRRM, hurry please!)

As usual, the genres of books was a mixed bag – Autobiographies, Chick-Lits, History, Mythology and General Fiction (Kids and Adults)

Autobiographies / Memoirs: I loved reading An unsuitable boy by Karan Johar. It was interesting to read about his childhood. His memoir was full of emotions and drama, as expected. I also loved Khullam Khulla by Rishi Kapoor, mainly because it included the behind the scenes stories of much loved movies. I would include Tuesdays with Morrie in this list as it is a kind of a memoir. It has been a fabulous read, specially since I relate to the way of life of Morrie. When breath becomes air by Paul Kalanithi was again an outstanding read. Anyone who has suffered from cancer / has a loved one suffering from cancer can totally relate to this. What moved me to tears was afterword by his wife. His being an Indian was also a revelation to me.

Chick-Lits: The good ones were – Busy Woman Seeks A Wife, In Your Shoes, Good In Bed, Little EarthQuakes (Jennifer Weiner is a new favourite) Sophie Kinsella disappointed with Remember Me (Rip off of 13 going on 30) & Swimming Pool Sunday. My not so perfect life was just like busy woman seeks a wife. The Summer Season had a superb plot but was ruined by rubbish writing. The Zoya Factor was okayish, not at the level of Those Pricey Thakor Girls. So was the Boy is Back by Meg Cabot. But the worst book in this category was the Mango Season by Amulya Malladi.

Classics: None of the books in this category disappointed. All were good reads. Catch 22, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Daughter In Law (DH Lawrence), Jude, the Obscure & The Cider House Rules (yes, the movie is based on this book)

Fantasy: I have already talked about the Song of Ice & Fire. Another fascinating read was Chronicles of Narnia. I loved the Magician’s nephew the best in the series and found The Last Battle a bit abrupt. Good read for young adults. I found The Scion of Ikshvaku a bit boring when I first started reading but then I held on and it turned out to be quite interesting. The concept is in continuation of the Meluha series. I loved the character of Sita very much! Not a docile princess but a true life partner of Ram! I had bought A Boy in Akka when I had visited Lotus Temple in Delhi. It provided a good insight on how the Bahai religion came into being.

Kids & Young Adults: No shame in admitting that I love this genre. I read Best Friends, Eight Keys, Rikki Tikki Tavi, The Best of Ruskin Bond, The Fairy & the lost wing (this was just to know what to read to babies) were all good reads. But the best of the lot was A complete collection of Grimms Fairy Tales. I was reading from the angle of retelling it to kids and nothing more has horrified me more. The stories are misogynistic to say the least, where girls are only supposed to look pretty and get kissed by strangers and marriage is the be all and end all of their life. Also, i did not like how kids are being brain washed against step mothers. Not all step mothers are evils as depicted in the fairy tales. We need to popularise more humanist stories for kids. I will include A cure for laziness by Sudha Murthy here. By the title, I actually assumed it had a cure for laziness, but it’s just a folk tale retelling. So much disappointed!

Regional: To my disappointment, not many regional books did I read during the year. Whatever I read was brilliant though! Thag by R. V. Desai, Pather Panchali (Hindi translation), Chitra by Tagore & Chinta by Mahashweta Devi!

Perry Mason: I read 85 books of Perry Mason, written by Erle Stanley Gardner. Simple pleasure, nothing else! The books get predictive if read at a go.

History: Except for Kashi Ka Assi, which was grossly one sided, everything else in this category was brilliant! Train to Pakistan – a fictionalised version of what happened during Pakistan gave me nightmares. Can’t even imagine what people would have gone through! Only for a little bit of land!! The Last Mughal & City of Djinns by William Darlymple fuelled my fascination for Delhi. Alex Rutherford series on Mughals (6 books) were also equally brilliant, though a fictionalised version of history. I only wish I had read these books before I visited Delhi & Agra.

Short Stories: The short stories of Leo Tolstoy (Two Wise Girls, The Imp’s Crust, etc), The Door on the wall & other stories, A Storehouse of Tales (by Indian Women Writers), Bijnis Woman (Real life anecdotes by Tanuja Chandra), Tell Tale (Jeffrey Archer’s latest) were all brilliant reads! Three Thousand Stitches was partly okayish, partly interesting.

Fiction / Novels: Most amazing books were read in this category. The bastard of Istanbul, A Man Called Ove, The Remains of the Day, Never Let Me Go & finally Room! All are must read. Before we visit the Goddess was also quite good & so was Beyond Indigo. Adultery by Paulo Coelho came in my life just when I was looking for answers to some difficult questions, hence it really touched me.

Apart from all these books, I did read Indian Super Foods by Rujuta Diwekar. It was quite interesting yet somehow did not meet expectations.

Target for next year: 200 books! Because..

 

 

 

Degree, Pedigree and all that Jazz!

I recently started watching the American TV series Suits again after a break of couple of years. The plot  revolves around Harvard educated lawyers and amongst them is one black sheep, who is brilliant at what he does, but does not have a Harvard degree. Apart from breaking the law (practising law without a degree), the more important thing is that the law firm hires “only” Harvard Law Graduates. And they are quite snobbish about it. As Louis Litt says, he does not want to impure their sanctum with people who have not studied in Harvard.

This does not happen only in TV shows or movies. As they say art reflects real life. While hiring people, recruiters give importance to education and what alma mater he belongs to. People graduating from eminent institutes are given preference over others. No doubt, the quality of education might be better in those institutes, but it does not guarantee that the candidate will perform better than the ones belonging to lesser known institutes. In Gujarati we have a saying that “Bhantar karta Gantar chadhe” What you have learnt in life is more important than what degrees you have.

Sadly, people get blinded by the superficiality. Take the case of Rahul Gandhi vs Narendra Modi. Rahul Gandhi is supposedly Harvard educated (he got in Harvard due to quota system (with or without donation) and then was moved to another college in Florida (apparently due to security reasons), where he completed his graduation. While Narendra Modi is not much educated (his degrees are debatable) and the opposition feels proud in mocking him to be a chai wala (he used to work in his uncle’s canteen). It does not matter that under Rahul’s leadership, the Congress has failed again and again to regain it’s lost glory and Narendra Modi has an experience of being Chief Minister of Gujarat for 22 years and won majority in Loksabha in 2014 due to his excessive campaigning.

Rahul Gandhi has been an MP of Amethi (Gandhi’s homeground) and avoided losing to Smriti Irani just by a whisker in 2014. He has been active in politics since 2004 and has held various positions in the INC and affiliated parties / organization but he has no achievements to show for his more than a decade long political career. The only reason he is being promoted as the next Prime Minister of India is because of the surname Gandhi. Even in his political campaigns he comes across as an immature individual who is just interested in taking jibes at the opposition.

Narendra Modi on the other hand has been involved in politics since a young age and the work he does is for all to see. (Not a Bhakt, but I do see him working relentlessly towards India’s development – My only grouse with him at the moment is that he exaggerates in his speeches and does not stop his own people from goofing up)

It is a sorry state of affairs that someone is awestruck by Rahul Gandhi because he is “Harvard educated” and ashamed that the country’s PM is a chai wala. Whatever you have against Modi, at least you should be proud of the fact that your country gives someone a opportunity to rise against the odds. That a mere canteen wala boy can be a Prime Minister of your country one day. A bus conductor can become a famous movie star and earn love of crores of people globally. Tiffin Carriers can become a case study in Harvard. College drop outs can become entrepreneurs.

Unless and until we change this attitude, how are we going to tell our kids that marks don’t matter? How are we going to stop kids from killing themselves because they fell few marks short of the cut off percentage? So let’s stop being snobbish about the education and degrees and instead give importance to the knowledge and skills of a person.

Red Herring

She entered the park at her usual time. It was 4.30 PM. A time where the sun was less harsh and the kids were yet to fill the park with their pandemonium. There were the usual suspects present though. A couple who worked at a nearby office came here regularly to spend time with each other. She had grown quite fond of them. And then there was Sheela, a modern age mother, who wanted her kids to play in the fresh air before they were packed off to one activity or other. There was also a group of cooks and maids who had a daily gossip session around this time before they got loaded with work again, once their employers returned from work.

She spotted a new entrant in the park today. There was an old lady on a wheelchair, who was moved around the park by a 15 year old girl. She would talk to them once she got settled on her regular bench. She loved to talk to strangers and listen to their stories. They fascinated more than books. Not that she loved books any less. Stories were her world. Whether in her books or outside of them. Maybe because God had forgotten to give her a story of her own!

With all this thoughts running in her mind, she approached her usual bench. From here she could see the entire park and their inhabitants. They were at a comfortable distance. She could observe them without making them seem intrusive. Her eyes glimpsed a red object on the bench. It was a picture of a gorgeous Red Herring over a white background. The contrast made the cover more attractive. The title of the book as well as the cover tempted her like a beautiful girl tempts a man. She couldn’t wait to take that book in her hands. Touch it, feel it, smell it (it did look brand new & she loved the smell of new books) She hesitated for a moment though. Looking for someone who looked like they might have kept their book here. Forgotten maybe. Suddenly she remembered an article she had read about an international book club. They were in town to place books for the book lovers. Playing Santa for the bibliophiles! She was ecstatic with joy! She sat on the bench, kept her purse aside and took the book in her hand. She caressed the spine and felt the cover with her soft hands. She smelled the book but it felt weird. It wasn’t the typical new book smell. Confused, she opened the book. As soon as she opened the book, a blast shook the whole park. People in the vicinity, including the old lady, flew in the air. When they reached the ground, they had turned into dead bodies.

She had died what she loved doing. Smelling new books. Sadly, she died without knowing it.

Panic Mode: On

Panic to reach office on time. Panic to catch the regular train because your group is in the train. Panic that few minutes delay to office will have an additional mark against your career. Panic that if you reach office late, you will have to stay back and miss your regular train going back home. Panic that the rains might delay the delayed trains further. Panic that the trains may stop midway and you would be stuck inside for hours without water / food. Panic because you would need to pee. Panic because the electricity might give away. Panic that there would be some goons stopping the trains and you would be stuck. Panic that your boss won’t believe your excuse of trains being late for yet another day because he never has travelled in a train.

Yesterday a stampede at Elphinstone Road station in Mumbai resulted in death of 22 people and quite a few were left injured. One of the dead people was a colleague of my brother in law. Just thinking about it shudders me. The memories of me being pushed out of the train and being walked over came rushing back. This has happened twice with me, making me paranoid about travelling in local trains during peak hours. I am fortunate enough to work in the afternoon shift when the crowd is bearable. And on some days when I have to reach office early, I can afford to take a cab (My office being 40 kilometers away from home, cabs are not that cheap for daily transport)

Mumbai, with all its unbelievably high real estate prices, high cost of living, slums, filth, crowd has been a people puller. Blame it on Bollywood or being marketed as a city of dreams. The result is the city bursting at the seams. unlike Delhi or Pune, Mumbai can not be expanded through all the directions. It can only be expanded vertically. The suburbs of Mumbai, which should technically end at Mulund (Central Railway) are now extended till Karjat / Khopoli. People travel for 5-6 hours daily for work. Local trains in that sense are a lifeline. They are faster and cheaper than roadways. But they also come with their own set of problems. Congestion in trains, foot-over bridges and on platforms, which by the way is not unique to Mumbai. Every major station all over the world faces this problem.

Earlier we had 9 car trains, which were extended to 12 cars and now we have 15 car trains. The number of compartments have increased but so has the crowd. Earlier there were definite periods of time where you could get the local train comparatively empty. Now the chances are very dismal. Railways have introduced mega blocks on Sunday (making travelling on a Sunday a harrowing experience) The trains are delayed most of the times, atleast by 10-15 minutes daily. Travelling becomes all the more frustrating and hence the stupid fights for a little space. Read more about it here:  An unforgettable scar!

The government should think of introducing alternate faster and cheaper ways of transport (point to point) and giving incentives to companies to have their offices in the suburbs. When most people are travelling from Thane & beyond, why can’t some offices be in Badlapur / Ambernath? The crowd can be spread out that way. They are already working on the metro lines, which would definitely help ease the pressure on local trains. It would also help if we have more work from home options and flexible hours.

But as citizens, we also have some responsibilities, which we conveniently forget.

Do not throw trash on the railway tracks. Carry a bag with you and dispense when bins are available.

Use the foot-over bridges and do not cross the tracks.

If people have fallen down, do not walk over them. Be considerate. (It’s a shame that otherwise helpful Mumbaikars become monsters when travelling in locals)

Have some discipline. Know that everyone is in a hurry to reach their destination.

Don’t spread rumours / panic. Keep Calm and switch off the Panic Mode.

Things are changing, unfortunately not with the speed we require / wish for. But we need to change too.

Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones is a HBO show, based on the Song of Ice & Fire series by George RR Martin. Though post Season 5, the show is moving on it’s own direction. Call it Fanfic, if you will.

When the show had first started airing, I was very skeptical about the hype. I caught couple of episodes, which were full of violence & nudity. Not to my taste, I left it at that.

Recently, out of curiosity I started reading the book A song of ice & fire & boy was I hooked! I read all the books in the series – A Song of Ice & Fire, Clash of the Kings, A Storm of Swords & Dance of Dragons – 5 books in all, with two books having 2 parts. I also watched all the 7 seasons of the show. The level of obsession is such that all my Quora & FB feeds are full of Game of Thrones references, fanfic, jokes & memes! I also designed a presentation for work with the theme of GOT (as Game of Thrones is lovingly called) I do not do anything half heartedly, you see! :p

After my recent visit to Delhi & reading books by William Darlymple, I am also very much fascinated with Delhi, Agra & Mughal Architecture. Someone recommended me to read Alex Rutherford series on Mughals because of this. And I don’t know if I have a hangover of GOT, or was George RR Martin inspired by the Mughals as well (I knew he was inspired by the War of Roses) or people in the medieval era were just the same.

The Mughal Era is also full of violence, incest, homosexuality, kinslaying and kingslaying. You can see lots of nuances of GOT characters in the Mughal princes, Kings & Queens.

Timur Lang was definitely the Mad King. Babur & Baburi (Baburi was a companion *ahem* of Babur and Babri Masjid, yes, the controversial one, is named after Baburi) can be Robert Baratheon & Ned Stark or can also be Renly Baratheon & Loras Tyrell. I can also see hints of Jon Snow in the young Babur. There is a hint of incestuous relationship between Shahjehan & his elder daughter JahanAra (there goes the romance out of Taj Mahal) like the incestuous relationship between Cersei & Jamie Lannister. Tyrion (I hate to do this) was hated by Tywin, so was Aurangzeb hated by Shahjehan.

Also, there is Shaybani Khan, a Uzbek ruler, who Babur could never defeat. His name means Obsidian. And *hold your breath* what does obsidian do in GOT?? Kills the white walkers!

Normal Obsidian

Dagger made of Obsidian

 

I also found Shaybani Khan’s character quite similar to Khal Drogo & the Dothrakis. He even marries Babur’s sister like Drogo marries Daenerys.  I could go on & on about this! I am so fascinated by all the similarities that I HAD to write a post about it! Wait, is this how fanfiction gets written??

Delhi!

Delhi has always fascinated me. It is a place which exudes power. After all the fates of a billion odd people is decided by a handful of men in Delhi. Apart from that fact, Delhi has more or less been the centre of power, especially since the invasion of Mughals. Delhi is also known for its fabulous architecture. Delhi is rich in history and culture (Yes, I am a Mumbai girl and no, I do not hate Delhi) Also, Delhi 6 (a movie by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra) had fuelled the desire to visit this city.

Though I love experiencing new places, I have not travelled much. I had decided to change that fact and planned to travel as much as possible. There had been a one odd weekend trip to Pune in 2015 and after that life was a bit messy and the travel plans were on hold again. This year, I got an opportunity to visit Delhi. It was an impulsive decision. Due to twitter, I have made good friends all over the country and also outside it. While planning the trip to Delhi I realised so many friends in Delhi!

I got a good break during the Easter holidays & to everyone’s surprise, I landed in Delhi. It was supposed to be horribly hot. Not gonna deny it. The heat was horrible indeed & I had to keep guzzling water. As a result, could not taste much of the famous food of Delhi.

It was a good experience meeting all the friends from the online world. But it was more satisfying to actually be in the place you only heard about or read about.

When you look out of the plane in Mumbai, you can see only shanties / slums. In Delhi I could see lots of cars (which looked like ants crawling in search of food) and lots of lights. The proverbial Bling Capital! 😉

The first step out of the airport in itself was mesmerising. The air was filled with scent of the trees. This continued till the end of the cantonment area.

The roads are very good in the national capital (the reason is obvious in the statement) Also, lots of greenery. The people on road are very rude though and there does not exist words like Excuse me, Please or Sorry. Everybody behaves like they are the king of Delhi. There was a lack of common courtesy and no care about fellow beings. Only in Delhi you could find this kind of notice. (The top line says do not molest women, nor let anyone molest women) Truly the sign of being an unsafe city for women. One thing that also fascinated me was super connected metro lines. This is the best way to travel in Delhi. The metros are connected to almost all the historical places in Delhi.

The most beautiful place in Delhi is the Humayun Tomb. I had seen pictures before and was in awe of the structure. The Taj Mahal is supposed to be inspired by Humayun’s tomb. Apart from Humayun’s tomb, the entire enclosure also includes smaller monuments, like Isa Khan’s tomb. Read more about it here: Humayun’s Tomb 

It did feel creepy to take pics of the tomb. The place is very beautiful though and you can get lost in it for hours.

Next Stop: Lotus Temple. It is one of the best designed buildings of the current century. The lotus shape fills you with awe. I also got to learn about the Bahai religion.

I also wanted to visit Akshardham Temple, another architecture marvel, but didn’t have the stamina to go through all the security rigmarole.

In the evening I visited India Gate. Nothing exciting though, Gateway of India is much much better than this place. You should visit for the Soldiers memorial though. The experience was surely humbling!

Visited the Sarojini Market for some fabulous earrings but was disappointed. Had thought to gather a loot at throwaway prices. We get better stuff in our local markets in Mumbai. Even the clothes we get at Linking Road / Fashion Street / Colaba are much better than this market. Anyway had great fun at Haldiram’s enjoying all the northern goodies!

The evening turned out to be a lot better! Spotted Bangla Sahib but couldn’t visit due to time restrictions. Next time for sure!

And then finally I was in Delhi 6! That means Chandni Chowk, Red Fort & Jama Masjid. You can not imagine my excitement! i was like a kid in a candy shop! I got to know the story of sheesh ganj and rakab ganj gurudwara. You can read about it here: Sis Ganj It was enthralling to move in the lanes of Chandni Chowk. Spotting Red Fort (I did not know that Red Fort was so near to Chandni Chowk) Jama Masjid! The best part  of the evening was a visit to Mirza Ghalib’s Haveli!


As explained above, couldn’t sample the famous food of Delhi inspite of being in Chandni Chowk and near to Parathewali Gali. I did get to sample aloo tikki, gol gappas and the very famous Jaleba! Also had one of the best momos & Fruit Beer at Dilli Haat.

Post my visit to Delhi, I read William Darlymple’s Last Mughal and realised how many more places I had to visit. Someday again for sure!

I know the title of this post says Delhi but I do need to add something about Agra as well.

I had kept one day entirely for Agra. The Taj Mahal, Agra Fort & Fatehpur Sikri were on my mind. Also shopping for Pethas! I just love them *multiple heart eyes* Had to skip Fatehpur due to time constraints. Instead got to meet a very lovely tweep from Agra, who taught me how to sit on a bike / scooty!!

What to say about the Taj? Words fail at it’s beauty. It is definitely one of the most beautiful monument in the world! So mesmerising! You have to see it to believe it. The Agra fort is very beautiful as well! Exploring the fort was an enriching experience!

View from Agra Fort

Some places can not be explored in 4 days, 3 nights kind of travel. Delhi / Agra are those kind of cities. It was truly an awesome experience, which I would like to go through again. Au Revoir!

Friendship has no gender!

Some years back, this thought was very prevalent ” A man and a woman can never be friends” I do not know the origin of this quote, but movies like When Harry Met Sally & Maine Pyaar Kiya did have a huge hand in promoting it. The premise being there would always be sexual tension between a man and a woman and hence there would never be pure, platonic friendship.

I am sure this thought was promoted by a very sex hungry, pervert male, who could never see a woman as a human being but only as a sex object. It could also be promoted by pervert people who are gossip hungry.

It is very much possible for a man and woman to be “just” friends without having sexual desires for each other. There would be countless examples of it for sure.

While we are still absorbing the truth of this, someone came up with a new thought. A woman can never be friends with another woman. Reason? Women are jealous creatures and can not see well being of another woman. This is a man just being misogynistic and probably never been surrounded with women who are great friends with each other, women who understand what are the challenges of being a woman. As I often say, men and women are not a grain of cooked rice. You cannot generalise by the state of one grain.

And a woman has not only agreed but also quotes this thought as wise. Because it is easy to say you are jealous of me hence we can’t be friends rather than I don’t have female friends because I am a selfish bitch who thinks every woman in this world is out to steal my man.

Out of context, it is also said that a woman is the biggest enemy of a woman. Nope, when a woman is being assholish to another woman, there is a power play behind it and gender has nothing to do with it. A woman after all is a human being and she can have as many flaws as a man has and has no need to be a saint.

Point? Everybody can be friends with everybody. Unless you are an asshole. Also, a discord between two female friends does not mean there is no discord between friends of opposite gender. So stop the gender abuse. TYVM.

This post is dedicated to all the lovely female friends I have. You enrich my life!!

Closure

She was waiting for him to say those three words. She imagined that for all the humiliation she had faced, all the insinuations and accusations, maligning of her love, her intentions, those heart piercing mean words, she deserved atleast an apology. I am sorry. That’s all she asked for.

And once those words were uttered, she would forgive him. Things would be back to normal. Her heart would be free of the burden she was carrying.

She looked towards the sky and sighed. She spotted a movement on the road. It was the postman coming towards their house. She wondered who would have sent them a letter. In this digital era, no one even bought newspapers anymore.

The bell rang & she opened the door with hundreds of questions on her mind. The postman handed her an envelope. The address on it was handwritten and the writing was familiar.

She shut the door with a slam, hurrying to open the envelope. She removed the letter with trembling hands. It was him, she knew. He would not have had the courage to say those words. To accept he was wrong, to accept he was mean. To write would have been easy for him. She thought of how she would react to his words. She began reading the letter. Love, that’s how he addressed her, made her heart jump.

She could not believe the words that followed. Her heart stopped at those three words, “I forgive You”.

And she started laughing hysterically. She understood he never realised he hurt her. He would always remain what he was. A self-centred egoistical bastard. And this, was her closure.

Wine in a Teacup

He knew her from afar. She was a fair maiden. Delicate, fragile. To be handled with care. She was dainty, elegant. A sweet smile lingered on her face always. People’s faces brightened when they looked at her. She was always adorned with flowers. She would make a pretty decorative wife, he thought.

He knew her like one knows their own soul. She was dainty from outside but strong from within. She was heady, intoxicating. She was stimulating. To the eyes as well to the mind. When you wrapped your hands around her, she would give you warmth like a bearskin on a cold, wintry night. She would be a comfort to have in youth and she would grow better with age. Just like wine.

She was a teacup, one thought. She was wine, thought the other.

One more chance

What is born, dies one day. Be it living beings or relationships.

There are numerous quotes, philosophies and books on the cycle of life and death.

It is said that the most surprising thing about human beings is that they live like they will never die. Human beings also live like their loved ones are not going to die either. In this process, we take everyone for granted. And one day, death calls them, to make them it’s own. And when they leave, we are left wanting. Wanting one more chance.

One more chance to meet them

One more chance to hug them

One more chance to talk to them

One more chance to love them

But there would be no more chances. They have gone. Leaving a huge void in our heart, in our life. Every death brings us a lesson to value the living more but we value it only till the pyre burns (श्मशान वैराग्य we call it). For once, maybe we will learn the lesson better. Don’t wait for death to realise the value of your loved ones.

Mourning

She checked today’s date & sighed. Her periods were now delayed by a week.

What if she was pregnant? She thought. And it made her smile.

She closed her eyes and reveled in what she thought was her near future.

A tiny baby was growing in her womb. Her face was glowing with happiness.

She couldn’t wait to see the sonogram of tiny hands and tiny feet, a content face with closed eyes.

She couldn’t wait to talk to her baby. Hope it would be a girl. She wouldn’t mind a baby boy either.

Maybe it was a boy who would look like his father.

She would have to inform him about the baby and that thought disturbed her. What if he disowned the baby?

And then she thought about her parents. How would they face society’s endless questions?

However modern Indians were, an unwed mother would always be a stigma on society.

She started making plans on how she would handle this situation & drifted off to sleep.

Next morning, she woke up with cramps hurting her belly. The Red Devil had visited her.

She mourned the loss of the baby she would never be able to hold in her arms.

Love is all we need

All we need is love right? If we love each other, we can overcome all difficulties, all problems, all crisis, right didi? she asked with wonder in her beautiful eyes.

Didi would know. After all she had married for love, inspite of jiju not being so rich, not fulfilling their parents criteria of a perfect husband.

Her didi looked at her, started saying something and stopped herself. She is young right now. She looks at the world with rosy eyes. In some years, life will teach her that love is not that pink she imagines it to be. Love is not the answer to everything. Just like it taught her.

She was crazy about him and had the same views about love as her baby sister. He was still struggling and getting by. Marrying him would mean sacrificing all the luxuries of life she was used to. Yet, it did not stop her. Love will take care of everything, she thought. And it did initially. As years passed by, life started becoming mundane. There was space for everything but love. The face he used to praise to the moon had started becoming boring for him. There were subtle and not so subtle hints of another woman. There was no romance left in their life. Her thirst for intimacy had drawn her to another man’s arms.

Yes sweetie, she replied. All is required is love, she smiled and hugged her baby sister.

Will you read my book?

He was tired of seeing the same crap dished out by the movie industry. There were so many new stories to be told in so many new ways! Only once in a while there would rise a director from the mediocrity and give hope to genuine movie lovers. Movie lovers who were sick of the love stories or the vendetta stories. There would be stories of a little boy lost in the jungle or the story of a girl enchanted by an umbrella. There would be classics enacted on the big screen, reviving the era of glamour and opulence! There would be stories of horror, of a gory mudereress. The stories of ordinary people, ordinary things, told in an extraordinary way! Making heroes out of commoners!

He was the one who could make his stories reach to everyone, in a way that they delighted everyone, at the same time scaring the daylights out of them! With this hope, he sent his book of horror stories to this famous director. It was 5 years since then. Not a word from the director. The director would be bombarded with manuscripts, he thought. No chance for an ordinary writer like me! He gave up on the dream of watching his stories unfold on the big screen.

He used to go from office to office to showcase his work, getting rejected mostly & getting false hopes a few times. One day, a legend spotted his talent and gave him an opportunity to work with him. Rest as they say, was history. He was a successful writer and director now and his movies were reason of envy for many. He continued getting scripts from hundreds of people, begging him to look at their work and somehow make them famous too. Usually his assistant dumped most of the scripts in the bin & saved the best amongst the lot. Today, he was looking at the saved scripts and books. He was looking for something fresh, something different. His movies were getting predictable & he wanted to change that. While browsing, he came across this book. It was a compilation of spooky horror stories. He kept reading the book. The writer was not famous. Infact, this was his only published work. The tales of macabre were interesting to say the least. As he finished, he exclaimed, Yes! This is going to be my new movie! He didn’t wait for his assistant & sent an email to the writer immediately. He was a nobody too once. He owed it to himself to make another nobody a somebody!

 

Perfect Marriage

She looked out the window as she stirred the curry. The sound of the basketball hitting the ground was like music to her ears. Her son had inherited her love for the game and it was a bliss to watch father and son bond like this. Her efforts had paid off finally!

They were watching the NBA finals few months back and cheering on their favourite team. Her glance fell on the husband’s crestfallen face. She knew he was bothered about the growing distance between him and their son. She resolved she would do something about it. The ongoing game gave her an idea. When her husband was at work, she got the hoop installed in the verandah. A little nudge and a push was all it took and father and son started playing basketball regularly. They had started talking more and she could feel the happy vibes between them.

A loud thumping sound brought her back to the present. She watched the game and wish she could also play. She was a pretty good player in college, participating in national level tournaments. Marriage and a kid had changed everything for her though. With a wistful sigh, she continued with her cooking. The boys would be famished by now, she rightly thought.

He went to collect the ball which had fallen near the kitchen window. The aroma of the curry filled his nose. He looked at his wife and stared admiringly. She was lost in thoughts, unaware of someone staring at her.

Next Sunday after breakfast, husband announced: Today, I am going to cook lunch and you both will play basketball.

A huge smile spread on her face. This is what a perfect marriage was after all!

 

Turning 40!

2017 is here & the time to turn 40 for me (happened last week 😉 ) I won’t say I wasn’t dreading this day. Not because I am getting older but because I do not want people to fit me in some box. And to everyone who says I do not look 40:

I am sure you must have read (or seen) countless such posts like this. Reflections on turning 40 or what you should have done before turning 40 or how life will be post 40.

So what does turning 40 mean to me? Nothing. Seriously. And not because age is just a number. I do not know how I am supposed to feel at forty. I am healthier and fitter than ever (yeah yeah relatively). I have never been more clear about what I want in life. In fact never been more happier to be alive. I can safely say that my parents and family would be proud of me of whoever I am now. And that has been my biggest achievement in life. From a nobody to a somebody.

If you count age by experiences, I am still so young! I have so much to experience. So many places to see, so much food to eat, so many people to love and so many lives to inspire!

I have lost a decade of my life to depression, being a recluse and not knowing what to do with my life generally. I say that was my period of hibernation. Those years I have not lived, should not be counted at all! The things that I “should” have done before turning 40, I can very well do now. Who’s stopping me?

And how will be my life post 40? Getting more fabulous with each passing day! I have just begun to live my life to the fullest. I will get fitter, take care of my health and my family, buy a house, write books, get published, be famous, cook more, travel more, meet more people, find my true love <3 There is no limit to my ambitions! This is me folks! Meet you at Fantastic @ 50 😉

 

 

Top Posts 2016

2016 has been a very disappointing year in many ways. Mostly I feel sad that I haven’t written as much as I should. However, there were certain posts which I liked, compiled here for reference.

Dress to Impress Yourself: A famous blogger / writer wrote about how fat people should not wear leggings, tight dresses, yada yada yada. This post presents a counter view.

The Forbidden Temple: Forcing entry for women in Shani Temple created quite a furore last year.

Goa – Beyond Partying, Boozing and Sea Food: Best part of 2016. A vacation with parents.

Call me Fat, Maybe?: After Vogue did a photo shoot with plus sized models, comments on twitter flew, pathetic to nasty.

Ebooks: The year I discovered the joys of e books! 😀 (Free free free)

Write Away: In May 2016, I ran a contest to encourage writing. Check out posts with the tag Write Away. The best & most liked was: A letter to my not-yet-adopted Baby

Spare Tampons Anyone?: Inspired by yet another debate on twitter 😉

No means No!: Yet another inspired post, this time by a movie.

A Walk to Remember

What do you do when you have an amazing company, fabulous rains and a will to explore the city beyond cafes, restaurants and air conditioned malls? (Specially when you are living in the godforsaken place called Dombivli)

You plan an impromptu trip to Yeor hills. You have no clue what you will find there. You have only heard about leopards being spotted or about the wonderful waterfalls.

Yeor hills is a part of Sanjay Gandhi National Park, located in Thane. (Insist on going by the meter from Thane station, we paid double of what the fare ought to be) The autos / cars / bikes are allowed inside but the real charm is in walking all the way to the top of the village.

It was drizzling nicely when we started the walk and it started pouring heavily as we inched further towards Yeor village. The raincoat and umbrella were barely protecting us. The climb was not very steep, except for a single patch. It was so nice to get drenched in the rains to the core, experiencing a much pleasant weather and looking at all the flora (fauna was hiding from us because of the rains I guess) The best thing we experienced was that we had left all the negativity behind us and we carried only a sense of wonder. It was unbelievable that such beauty exists amidst the chaos of the city. The hills are as scenic as Lonavala. We ended the trek with the delicious duo of hot tea and vada pao at a quaint little tea stall, which was a surprising discovery indeed.

This was going to be a Walk to Remember forever.

Hot Tea – Bliss!

Always Amazing – Aditi

A natural Pokestop (Tee Hee)

Dancing in the rain!

A surprise find!

Snail! (Spotted by Aditi)

Who needs Lonavala bro?

A fake Touch Me Not

Orchid like flower.

Speechless

 

 

Books 2016

As far as reading books is concerned, 2016 has been a fabulous year!

I have read more than 75 books & it has only been possible because of e-books. I could easily read while travelling / on breaks / eating out & also during sleepless nights.

I have read some pretty interesting books during the year, which includes memoirs / autobiographies (a genre I am not very fond of), chick lits, young adults, Indian authors, graphic novels, etc etc! Phew!

The list of books includes all books by Jhumpa Lahiri, all books by John Greene, Harry Potter & the Cursed Child (most awaited book of the year), Shakespeare, Short stories by Tagore, O’ Henry & Chekhov, The Oleander girl, Mallory Towers series by Enid Blyton, Aristotle Dante & the secrets of the universe, Dying for Christmas. Some of them were fantastic, others not so much. Some of them surprised me a lot!

I was about to write on my top 10 books of 2016, but I realised I have read so many good books this year, picking only 10 out of them would do gross injustice to the books.

So here’s a very random list of the books I liked this year.

Autobiographies / Memoirs: Started with If you ask me by Betty White. It was quite boring. Betty talked mostly about her show Hot in Cleveland. Is everyone hanging out without me by Mindy Kaling was a pretty interesting read. Adventures of a curious character by Richard Feynman was surprising. I realised only midway that this was the scientist who was involved in the making of the Atom Bomb. Much amazed! Agatha Christie’s autobiography was also an interesting read as it included the time during the World War. Hyperbole & a half is also a sort of memoir albeit in a Graphical format. Interesting read.

Chicklits: Shopaholic to the rescue (Much improvement on the earlier book), Lipstick Jungle, The Nanny were all good to read, specially The Nanny. Ms Draupadi Kuru had an interesting concept, but could do with a better execution. The Oleander Girl & Mistress of Spices were best amongst the lot. I love Chitra Divakruni’s writing style. Simple, yet heart touching.

John Green: The Fault in our stars (tear jerker), An abundance of Katherines (reminded me about the one name I am obsessed with), Will Grayson, Will Grayson (I am so much in love with this book (also Tiny) that I can cry! And I know the exact moment I fell in love. Chapter 7th.), Paper Towns (Am sort of confused about the end), Looking for Alaska (another tear jerker)

Jhumpa Lahiri: Every time I picked up The Lowlands, something or the other kept me from reading it. I finally got all the books of Jhumpa Lahiri & reading them was such a joy! (Though she keeps repeating pattern of her characters). The Name Sake, The interpreter of maladies, The Unaccustomed Earth & specially the Lowlands (the twist in the tale will surprise you) are all must read.

A Thousand Splendid Suns & The Kite Runner: Both these books by Khaled Hosseini depict the turmoils of Afghanistan. Heart Warming & best reads of not only 2016 but of all times.

The Grapes of Wrath: This is a realistic novel based on the plight of poor farmers migrating to  California in search of work. The poverty and the resulting incidents are heart breaking.

The Marble Collector: This book is about a journey of a daughter discovering the truth about and real passion of her father. I love this book so much that it is in my top recommendations. Cecilia Ahern remains a favourite writer.

Forty Rules of Love: You can find more about this here: The Forty Rules of Love

Fantastic Beasts & Where to find them: This book made up for the disappointment that the Cursed Child book was. Very far removed from the Harry Potter era, interesting read nonetheless.

Lemony Snicket Series: AMAZING is the only word for it. This 13 part series can put you in depression so beware while reading.

American God: My introduction to the fabulousness of Neil Gaiman could not have been better. Salute to his imagination!

Room on the roof: This is written by a 17 year old Ruskin Bond. Kind of feels like the author’s own story but the maturity in his writing would amaze you.

The Clifton Chronicles: I had read the first couple of books in the Clifton Chronicles but then did not pursue the other parts for some reason. I ended my year by reading all 7 parts of the series at one go. It is typical Archer style, with politics and scheming villains and enterprising heroes and heroines. It felt like being dragged at one point of time and there was certain inconsistency, but I admire Archer for the way he keeps us hooked through out the 7 parts. The end was as it should have been.

Re-reads: I also read lots of books that I have already read. Taming of the Shrew, Comedy of Errors, Othello, Twelfth Man, Hamlet (Shakespeare – Always a joy), Short stories by Chekhov, O’Henry & Rabindranath Tagore (Beauty in simplicity), Jeeves Omnibus I & II (Wodehouse – always entertaining), The man in the Iron Mask by Alexander Dumas (A worthy follower to the Three Musketeers), Wise & Otherwise by Sudha Murthy (Strictly okay), Eat, Pray & Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (First time I read this, I was impressed. Second time I thought the author was too pretentious & I did not like the way she described India)

Forgettables: Dying for Christmas, Bengali folk Tales, Witches by Roald Dahl, Harry Potter and the Cursed child (Too disappointing except for the character of Scorpius), The Serpents Revenge by Sudha Murthy and Landline by Rainbow Rowell (Rowell is otherwise my favourite author)

Which books got their hooks into you in 2016?

No means No!

Disclaimer: Contains adult words and situations, which might make you squirm. Read at your own risk.

Going by the title, everyone would know this post is relating to the recently released & much acclaimed movie “Pink” starring Amitabh Bachchan & Tapsee Pannu in the lead characters.

Yes, this post is inspired by the movie. This movie has inspired countless posts only because everyone could relate to the issues depicted in the movie. This shows how rape & molestation are quite rampant in the society.

Last week I was travelling by a local train. The ladies first class compartment was quite full (considering it has only 14 seats, not unusual even on a weekend). I could see several empty seats in the General compartment (yes, general not Gents) On weekdays, on my way to work I have to stand usually for the entire journey. The empty seats were quite tempting & I boarded the General compartment. I usually don’t do this because I am not really comfortable being surrounded by men who keep ogling and leching and trying to get close to you. Anyway, so I got a seat. There was this man seating nearby who was talking loudly on the phone (conversation peppered with expletives) & he also tried to bully a co passenger. I got uncomfortable & stood near the door, meaning to switch back to the ladies compartment at the next station. This man came & stood behind me, so close that I could feel his dick. I moved away instantly & blasted him. He said this is not ladies compartment but gents compartment. I was quite shocked by the inappropriate touching & in other circumstances I would have hit him but that day I just couldn’t. I was also shocked that other men in the compartment kept looking passively.

This was not the first time I have been touched inappropriately & not the first person to be touched inappropriately. The pinching of boobs, spanking ass, dick touching happens regularly to everyone, both men & women. This is one reason I never travel in public buses. The experience leaves such a bad taste in mouth. Who likes to be touched inappropriately without their consent / will? And the worst thing about all of this is we have taken this as a part of life. No one bats an eyelid when they see this happen. Hence, the people who are meant to learn the lesson from the movie or posts like this are never going to learn. However, if even one person changes his / her mindset, it would be a win.

The point of this post is to remind everyone that rape & molestation does not necessarily be in the way it is defined in the dictionary. If you touch someone inappropriately, even if you lech at someone, it amounts to molestation. And no man / woman likes that. It is always a No and No means No!

 

no-means-no

The Forty Rules of Love

Recently I came across a book The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak. It is a love story within a love story. Love story of Rumi and Shams of Tabriz (Not sexual love, but true love between two human beings). I know about Rumi’s quotes because of twitter & also made fun of how quotes are attributed to Rumi. I had read about Shams first in a book by Paulo Coelho (possibly Aleph, not sure) That is the only thing I knew about both of them. The story has been a wonderful read. You know how sometimes you read something and never want it to end? This is that kind of a story. So beautiful that it gave me goosebumps. Made me want to read more about Rumi & Shams & read more of their work. Sigh! Anyway, the point of this post is not to review the book. The book states 40 rules of Love. I wish to share those with everyone & also to bookmark them for my reference. So here they go!

♥ How we see God is a direct reflection of how we see ourselves. If God brings fear & blame,means there is too much fear and blame welled between us. If we see God as full of love and compassion, so are we!

♥ The Path to the Truth is a labor of the heart, not of the head. Make your heart your primary guide! Not your mind. Meet, challenge, and ultimately prevail over your nafs (soul) with your heart. Knowing your self will lead you to the knowledge of God!

♥ Each and every reader comprehends the Holy Book on a different level in tandem with the depth of his understanding. There are four levels of insights. The first level is the outer meaning and it is the one that majority of people are content with. Next is the inner level. Third is the inner of the inner level. And the fourth level is so deep it cannot be put into words and is therefore bound to remain indescribable.

♥ You can study God through everything and everyone in the universe, because God is not confined in a place of worship. But if you are still in need of knowing where exactly His abode is, there is only one place to look for Him: In the heart of a true lover.

♥ Intellect and Love are made of different materials. Intellect ties people in knots and risks nothing, but Love dissolves all tangles and risks everything. Intellect is always cautious and advises, “Beware of too much ecstasy,” whereas Love says, “Oh! never mind, take the plunge!” Intellect does not easily break down, whereas Love can effortlessly reduce itself to rubble. But treasures are hidden among ruins. A broken heart hides treasures.

♥ Most of the problems of the world stem from linguistic mistakes and simple misunderstandings. Don’t ever take words at face value. When you step into the zone of Love, language as we know it becomes obsolete. That which can not be put into words can only be grasped through silence.

♥ Loneliness and solitude are two different things. When you are lonely, it is easy to delude yourself into believing that you are on the right path. Solitude is better for us, as it means being alone without feeling lonely. But eventually it is best to find a person, the person who will be your mirror. Remember, only in other person’s heart can you truly see yourself and the presence of God within you.

♥ Whatever happens in your life, no matter how troubling things might seem, do not enter the neighbourhood of despair. Even when all doors remain closed, God will open up a new path only for you. Be thankful! It is easy to be thankful when all is well. A Sufi is thankful not only for what he has been given but also for what he has been denied.

♥ Patience does not mean to passively endure. It means to be farsighted enough to trust the end results of a process. The lovers of God never run out of patience, for they know what time is needed for the crescent moon to become full.

♥ East, west, south, or north makes little difference. No matter what your destination, just be sure to make every journey a journey within. If you travel within, you travel the whole world and beyond!

♥ The midwife knows that when there is no pain, the way for the baby can not be opened and mother can not give birth. Likewise, for a new self to be born, hardship is necessary. Just as clay needs to go through intense heat to be strong, Love can only be perfected in pain.

♥ The quest for Love changes us. There is no seeker among those who has searched for Love who has not matured on the way. The moment you start looking for Love, you change within & without.

♥ There are more fake gurus and false teachers in this world than the numbers of stars visible in the universe. Don’t confuse power driven, self centered people with true mentors. A genuine spiritual master will not direct your attention to himself and will not expect absolute obedience or utter admiration from you, but instead will help you to appreciate and admire your inner self. True mentors are as transparent as glass. They let the Light of God pass through them.

♥ Try not to resist the changes that come your way. Instead let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?

♥ God is busy with the completion of your work, both outwardly and inwardly. He is fully occupied with you. Every human being is a work in progress that is slowly but inexorably moving toward perfection. We are each an unfinished work of art both waiting and striving to be completed. God deals with each of us separately because humanity is a fine art of skilled penmanship where every single dot is equally important for the entire picture.

♥ It’s easy to love a perfect God, unblemished and infallible that He is. What is far more difficult is to love fellow human beings with all their imperfections and defects. Remember, one can only know what one is capable is of loving. There is no wisdom without love. Unless we learn to love God’s creation, we can neither truly love nor truly know God.

♥ Real filth is the one inside. The rest simply washes off. There is only one type of dirt that cannot be cleansed with pure waters, and that is the stain of hatred and bigotry contaminating the soul. You can purify your body through abstinence and fasting, but only love will purify our heart.

 ♥ The whole universe is contained within a single human being – you. everything that you see around, including the things you might not be fond of and even the people you despise or abhor, is present within you in varying degrees. Therefore, do not look for Shaitan outside yourself either. The devil is not an extraordinary force that attacks from without. It is an ordinary voice within. If you get to know yourself fully, facing with honesty and hardness both your dark and bright sides, you will arrive as a supreme form of consciousness. When a person knows himself or herself, he or she knows God.
 
♥ If you want to change the way others treat you, you should first change the way you treat yourself. Unless you learn to love yourself, fully and sincerely, there is no way you can be loved. Once you achieve that stage, however, be thankful for every thorn that others might throw at you. It’s a sign that you will soon be showered in roses.
 
♥ Fret not where the road will take you. Instead concentrate on the first step. That’s the hardest part and that’s what you are responsible for. Once you take that step let everything do what it naturally does and the rest will follow. Do not go with the flow. Be the flow.
 

♥ We were all created in His image, and yet we were each created different and unique. No two people are alike. No two hearts beat to the same rhythm. If God had wanted everyone to be the same, He would have made it so. Therefore, disrespecting differences and imposing your thoughts on others is tantamount to disrespecting God’s holy scheme.

 
♥ When a true lover of God goes into a tavern, the tavern becomes his chamber of prayer, but when a wine drinker goes into the same chamber, it becomes his tavern. In everything we do, it is our hearts that makes the difference, not our outer appearances. Sufis do not judge other people on how they look or who they are. When a Sufi stares at someone, he keeps both eyes closed and instead opens a third eye – the eye that sees inner realm.
 
♥ Life is a temporary loan, and this world is nothing but a sketchy imitation of Reality. Only children would mistake a toy for the real thing. And yet human beings either become infatuated with the toy or disrespectfully break it and throw it aside. In this life stay away from all kinds of extremities, for they will destroy balance.
 
♥ The human being has a unique place among God’s creation. “I breathed into him of My Spirit,” God says. Each and every one of us without exception is designed to be God’s delegate on earth. Ask yourself, just how often do you behave like a delegate, if you ever do so? Remember, it falls upon each of us to discover the divine spirit inside and live by it.
 
♥ Hell is here and now. So is heaven. Quit worrying about hell or dreaming about heaven, as they are both present inside this very moment. Every time we fall in love, we ascend to heaven. every time we hate, or fight someone, we tumble straight into the fires of hell.
 
♥ The universe is one being. Everything and everyone is interconnected through invisible web of stories. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are all in a silent conversation. Do no harm. Practice compassion. And do not gossip behind anyone’s back – not even a seemingly innocent remark! The words that come out of our mouth do not vanish but are perpetually stored in infinite space, and they will come back to us in due time. One man’s pain will hurt us all. One man’s joy will make everyone happy.
 
♥ The world is like a snowy mountain that echoes your voice. Whatever you speak, good or evil, will somehow come back to you. Therefore, if there is someone who harbours ill thoughts about you, saying similarly bad things about him will only make matters worse. You will be locked in a vicious circle of malevolent energy. Instead for forty days and nights say and think nice thing about that person. Everything will be different at the end of forty days, because you will be different inside.
 
♥ The past in an interpretation. The future is an illusion. The world does not move through time as if it were a single line, proceeding from the past to the future. Instead time moves through and within us, in endless spirals. Eternity does not mean infinite time, but simply timelessness. If you want to experience eternal illumination, put the past and the future out of your mind and remain within the present moment.
 
♥ Destiny doesn’t mean that your life has been predetermined. Therefore, to leave everything to fate and to not actively contribute to the music of the universe is a sign of sheer ignorance. The music of the universe is all-pervading and it is composed on forty different levels. Your destiny is the level where you will play your tune. You might not change your instrument but how well to play is entirely in your hands.
 
♥ The true Sufi is such that even when he is unjustly accused, attacked, and condemned from all sides, he patiently endures, uttering not a single bad word about any of his critics. A Sufi never apportions blame. How can there be opponents or rivals or even “others” when there is no “self” in the first place? How can there be anyone to blame when there is only One?
 
♥ If you want to strengthen your faith, you will need to soften inside. For your faith to be rock solid, your heart needs to be as soft as feather. Through an illness, accident, loss, or fright, one way or another, we are all forced with incidents that teach us how to become less selfish and judgemental, and more compassionate and generous. Yet some of us learn the lesson and manage to become milder, while others end up becoming even harsher than before. The only way to get closer to the Truth is to expand your heart so that it will encompass all humanity and still have room for more Love.
 
♥ Nothing should stand between yourself and God. Not imams, priests, rabbis, or any other custodians of moral or religious leadership. Not spiritual masters, not even your faith. Believe in your values and your rules, but never lord them over others. If you keep breaking other people’s hearts, whatever religious duty you perform is no good. Stay away from all sorts of idolatry, for they will blur your vision. Let God and only God be your guide. Learn the Truth, my friend, but be careful not to make a fetish out of your truths.
 
♥ While everyone in this world strives to get somewhere and becomes someone, only to leave all behind after death, you aim for the supreme stage of nothingness. Live this life as light and empty as the number zero. We are no different from a pot. It is not the decorations outside but the emptiness inside that holds us straight. Just like that, it is not what we aspire to achieve but the consciousness of nothingness that keeps us going.
 
♥ Submission does not mean being weak or passive. It leads to neither fatalism nor capitulation. Just the opposite. True power resides in submission – a power that comes from within. Those who submit to the divine essence of life will live in unperturbed tranquility and peace even when the whole wide world goes through turbulence after turbulence.
 
♥ In this world, it is not similarities or regularities that take us a step forward, but blunt opposites. And all the opposites in the universe are present within each and everyone of us. Therefore the believer needs to meet the unbeliever residing within. And the nonbeliever should get to know the silent faithful in him. Until the day one reaches the stage of the perfect human being, faith is a gradual process and one that necessitates its seeming opposite: disbelief.
 
♥ This world is erected upon the principle of reciprocity. Neither a drop of kindness nor a speck of evil will remain unreciprocated. Fear not the plots, deceptions, or tricks of other people. If somebody is setting a trap, remember, so is God. He is the biggest plotter. Not even a leaf stirs outside God’s knowledge. Simply and fully believe in that. whatever God does, he does beautifully.
 
♥ God is a meticulous clock maker. So precise is His order that everything on earth happens in its own time. Neither a minute late nor a minute early. And for everyone without exception, the clock works accurately. For each there is a time to love and a time to die.
 
♥ It is never too late to ask yourself, “Am I ready to change the life I am living? Am I ready to change within?” Even if a single day in your life is the same as the day before, it surely is a pity. At every moment and with each new breath, one should be renewed and renewed again. There is only one way to be born into a new life: to die before death.
 
♥ While the parts change, the whole always remains the same. For every thief who departs this world, a new one is born. And every decent person who passes away is replaced by a new one. In this way not only does nothing remain the same but nothing ever really changes.
 
♥ A life without love is of no account. Don’t ask yourself what kind of love you should seek, spiritual or material, divine or mundane, Eastern or Western. Divisions only lead to more divisions. Love has no labels, no definitions. It is what it is, pure and simple. Love is the water of life. And a lover is a soul of fire. The universe turns differently when fire loves water.
 
These are the 40 rules of love. They make so much sense and are aligned to my beliefs. I am not there yet, but I will reach there one day!

Spare Tampons Anyone?

Recently someone on twitter shared a story about how her male friend carries a spare tampon for his lady friends.

 tampon

The reaction to this went from Awwww to Duh! Why can’t girls carry their own tampons??

Some people went gushing about the guy saying how sensitive & some people went on saying who the hell uses tampons in India (yep, ignorants who know only about the existence of sanitary napkins)

 What was my own reaction? Awwww of course! 😉

 Usually women do carry a spare napkin / tampon, especially when the date is approaching. Also, napkins are easily available in stores nowadays, even grocery stores. I did see one grocery store selling both sanitary napkins & Monginis cakes (yep, our very own local cosset box, if you will 😉 ) In our office they are available with the security officers for Rs. 10/- each. But not necessarily all offices have this facility. Also sometimes either the offices are located far away from the stores or maybe you are so loaded with work that you can’t just leave to get some. Of course it would be also inconvenient to walk down to the store in this condition.

 So what do you do when you run out of one & you need it desperately? (Sparing you all the gory details of what happens if you don’t use a napkin / tampon)

Most of us would usually approach a women colleague. And if I had a man friend like the one mentioned above, I wouldn’t hesitate to ask him either. I am not sure though if anyone else would be comfortable asking a man if they have a spare tampon.

 Spare pad

Anyway, however cool this might seem, I would rather all men carry some sensitivity around women having their periods than carry a spare tampon. Share this post if you agree 😉

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Facebook or Maskbook?

Dearest Facebook,

You are asking me to click on your button to review how my year went away, a combination of few pictures of passing smiles and their married barred teeth. But to review memories as young as melting glaciers from warmth of my heart, it seems futile and unnecessary act of movement. I cannot review a living memory I’m already breathing in and out of my lungs. Maybe I am asking so much more from you than I have provided. I only communicated to you the day dreams, sunlight, colorfully filtered food and stories of hands wrapped together. But your simplest of request from me has dismantled my hardwork of filling holes with sand. I lost my balance and now I am lying amongst dust that has clouded around me of memories that ameliorate my soul and of memories that exacerbate quality of my sight and breaks my whole body into droplets of tears.

But tell me, can your series of selected pictures show smiles that are painted over frowns, tears, heartaches, demolished dreams and incomplete bridges between people I or other breathing organism failed to complete? Can those barred teeth of mine demonstrate well to others of all breaks and crashes my heart went through this year? Waves of desire tossed me and my limbs everywhere and I gasped for breaths which I took for granted. But seconds before flash of camera hit me, I kept a face as if I won a race on being the more carefree soul than him so when he sees it, he knows how much I have moved on. Can my painted red lips plastered on your screen express how many nights I woke up drenched in sweat pungent with my fear of everything oblivious and shivered myself back to sleep? A simple dab of paint over my lips send me into a temporary amnesia and assured me that maybe, just maybe, I am living my life as justly and as securely as one could. Can you see through my golden glittery foundation that memories of all kinds have left behind their paths and I am becoming more wrinkled as rotating organ we are living on? Behind my makeup are crows with their crooked feet, standing next to my eyes, cawing out aloud, “Where are you lost?”

I have lost my whereabouts but when bubble bursts and glitter falls down on protruding veins on my hand, my artificially waved hair, inside of my blouse I forget that I’m not architecturally sound. But when flash leaves me, I remember that I’m breaking and making walls without any architectural sense hoping maybe all this would lead to something bigger and grander. Oh, a naïve button, I cannot allow you to share pictures that only capture half of a heartbeat. Numbers might shift but I would keep on living those memories as I have been living everyday as a ritual.

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– Palak Uppal

A letter to my not-yet-adopted Baby

To my darling daughter,

Ever since I remember, I always wanted to be a mother. Always wished to be a mom more than be somebody’s wife. I wanted a daughter so I could dress her up in cute clothes, give her dolls, cars, toy swords. Whatever she wished for.

By the time I turned 27, I decided I want to adopt a baby girl. Your mumma was in a relationship when she turned 29. A beautiful relationship with an amazing guy (atleast that’s what it felt like that time) and both agreed to get married in couple of years and get a sweet little baby girl home. Four years passed by! Relationship went through a lot of crests and troughs. More troughs because the guy wasn’t exactly what mumma should have settled down for. He didn’t respect her, he didn’t love her, he cheated on her and more than anything he made a mockery of me wanting to adopt you in front of others. I had to leave him. Things looked bad. Mumma had a lot of deal with. Too much on all fronts. A broken engagement, nursing a broken heart, letting go of a dream to get married and have a baby with the ONE (Haha!) and then getting to know he never shared the same dreams and simply lied about them to make me happy. Ok! enough about him. I didn’t know how would I ever have you in my life. Could I afford to give a proper environment and not compromise on any of your needs? So many questions! Should I adopt you? What if I can’t keep you happy?

That’s when I realized, from now I will work hard in being self-sufficient and save enough so I can bring you into my world. I want to give you a good upbringing, a happy lifestyle and more importantly help you learn from your own mistakes and learn beautiful lessons from life.

Sweetheart, while I am writing this. I don’t even know who you are. Are you born yet? Will life have something else in store for me? But I hope someday, I can make this desire to have you in my life fulfilled. Always remember, mumma learnt to be happy on her own. You too sweetheart do not depend on anyone else to give you happiness, respect or hope. If people hurt you, let them go. If people ignore you, let them be. And always remember come what may, you will always have me! I hope I can be a good mother and hold your hand whenever you need me.

You gave me a reason to get up and walk again! Thanks for holding my hand and giving me the strength to realize my dream and make me work hard towards it.

For you have given re-birth to me!

Love you,

Your Mumma

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– Arundhati

Display

 

One word but thousand ideas. The word display is associated with so many things but majorly positively. The display I am usually reminded is of the D from DP. The other is of those things we usually put up on display when someone’s visiting our place or the things that are put up on display at shops.

There’s a slight different vision I see to the whole concept of display. Display gets easily link to glamour and therefore show off. Why do people put up DP when FB, Twitter or even Whatsapp in that case asks you to just change your profile picture? Because maybe we have changed the whole motive of this by showing different things along with the face. We laugh at those who put up passport size or passport like pictures as their profile picture. But isn’t the motive of these social media just asking for a slight identity and not for your financial or materialistic identity being displayed out there. Because at the end our thoughts and what all we want to convey matters on be it Facebook, Twitter or Whatsapp. Glorification or Glamourisation has become a hobby or to be precise an occupation for some people. We are definitely developing but not into better souls but better humans. Again, the discrimination between the internal and external exists like eternal.

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– Diksha Dhawan

Ladies he cannot be your savior!

Let’s face it that the problem is that most of the women want a hero, a prince charming instilled with perfection. No matter how much you deny but it is true. As we grew up listening to fairy tales of the prince charming, The saviour, The super hero who has to be there to bring the perfect ending. The problem is that men are just as ordinary as women are. The illusion of relating the love life expectations to real ones somewhere brings a tremendous burden on men. In the life of every person, there is at least one person with whom we make a very deep connection. The connection at times is too deep, beyond our greatest and wildest dreams. Women are somewhere wired with the expectation of magic, absolute madness, a courageous person blessed with looks of Brad Pitt for bonus points.

Who is this saviour? Why so much obsession and fascination with the fantasy drama? Isn’t it better to keep it in stories itself and create your own instead? Men are ordinary human beings, the ones who are struggling to fulfil their aspirations, trying their best to make their life stable in every possible manner and meanwhile looking for love. You make him laugh and he makes you laugh. You share your stories and he shares his. You follow your dreams and he follows his. You experience life through him and share the hazy mornings, eventful afternoons and nights. You both follow your own philosophies. Sometimes you both agree and sometimes you don’t. Everything that makes life worth living.

It is okay that someone doesn’t always fulfill your expectations. Desires can wreck your life. There is no nobility in obsessing over something that does not exist. Desire leaves us heartbroken, it wears us out. No matter how perfect you would expect them to be, at some point or another, they will say something that you weren’t expecting them to say, they will do something that, at the time, would be terribly disappointing, and they will sometimes be harsh and mean. Some things really aren’t in our control. It is okay when someone you really love flips out on you or behaves a little irrationally. Love is a funny thing. It turns it all upside down when you don’t really expect it. It is like one day you realize that the fairy tale may be slightly different than you dreamt. The castle, well, it may not be a castle. And it’s not so important happy ever after, just that its happy right now. It is most important to notice that they are trying. It doesn’t matter that they slip. What matters the most is that they atleast try not to slip. They should also be given the room to be a little mean, and a little rude, and a little harsh, because they are after all, just like you. They also deserve a break. They can also break into a tantrum, and that is quite allright. Reality is what you allow it to be. Reality is what you choose to accept it to be. We tend to overlook things we shouldn’t and look over things we needn’t. Wouldn’t it be better if the expectations are withdrawn and they’re allowed to be themselves where you could carve out the extra ordinary out of him? Their care and their actions to prove the same isn’t the best thing which is a sole evidence of the fact that you are going to be his soul mate always.

Life is never as complicated as we, ourselves make it. After all what will bring smile home isn’t going to be diamond ring but it will be the extra work he spent in office to save little extra for it. What you really need to remember and cherish is the thought, and the effort, and the fact that they are with you.

– Sunakshi Goel

Let us learn to Express

What are you doing? Have you done this? Don’t do that.. Don’t talk rubbish.. What is wrong with you?

Questions and questions and instructions that we received from our childhood. Nobody taught us how to express ourselves. Also as a child when we were enthusiastic to express our stuffs we heard.. Not Now.. Be Quiet.. I don’t have time for silly things… And slowly and steadily we learnt to be quiet and not to express our selves.

Today this is the story of every grownup adult and the society at large. We come across our young generation with lots of anger, stress, low self-esteem and physical challenges like High B.P., Diabetics, Heart issues and much more. Ever thought a reason for increase in number of these illnesses and that to in a young age?

Our technology has developed to such an extent that there is a cure for everything but why are they not teaching us to prevent it. Why are we taught is schools, “Prevention is better than cure”; when nobody wants to talk on how do we prevent ourselves from all these challenges. Why we are not taught how to live our life without facing any challenges or issues? We are we taught there will be lots of problems as you grow up and you need to prepare for it, to face it. Why nobody taught there can be a problem free life? Lots and lots of questions I always had as a child and even today. So now I choose to find my own answers.

Here I share with you all my simple observations and the reasons for many dis-eases. We all have stopped expressing. We have nothing to say at all. Nobody knows what our feelings and emotions are like. Even we are not aware as to How do I feel. We choose to close ourselves as we are told, “Be Quiet”. We started thinking Yes, I am not good enough. So I should not open my mouth. Be Quiet. I can’t jump around everywhere expressing… So sit in one place.. Be Quiet.. But Mamma, look what I made.. How is it.. Shushh… Be Quiet.. I don’t have time now. And then we feel nobody listens to me. Nobody understands me. So.. Be Quiet.

And finally now as we grow and we learn to Be Quiet. Now we don’t know what to express. We don’t even know how we feel. So it is not that we don’t want to express our feelings and emotions, but the irony is we don’t know.

All these stuck emotions and feelings which we hold on to us, because we don’t express, are then finally absorbed by our different body parts. And then it manifests into so called dis-ease.

There are medicines for dis-eases but how do we treat this Non expression. Do we know the root cause of our issues and problems? Are we willing to work on them now; or wait for a dis-ease and then work on the symptoms?

All these challenges inspired me to be a healer. I have started my own healing studio, Twinlight Holistic Healing Studio. I believe and work on many techniques that teach us to express ourselves; know our emotions and feelings and thereby heal all our physical issues, emotional issues and relationship issues and challenges. Feel free to contact me and gift yourself the ‘Real You’.

Be the Light. Come, Let’s Illuminate our Souls.

CA Khushboo Apurva Luthiya

9223230900

Email: twinlight.khushboo@gmail.com

Facebook Page: Twinlight Holistic Healing Studio

 

Of Dreams & Ruins

She stood in front of the falling abandoned house. Her daughter commented, “Such a shabby old house!” She turned towards her daughter and smiled. Holding her hand, she passed by the house.

Every day while crossing the house, she would stop and her daughter would make the same remark. After a decade, the daughter got tired of the routine and asked, “What fascinates you towards the ruin?”

She turned to her daughter, like she always did, held her hand and began to walk, when her daughter pulled her back and said, “I want an answer today, mom”

She took a deep breath and smiled. “This was the house your father brought me in after we got married. These ruins were once our dream.”

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– Harleen

I will survive

A storm doesn’t know what damage it will do

Yet its innocence can’t be justified

I was a victim of such a storm and did not know what to do

Storm passed away and I was mystified

I had tasted a poison called love

Risking my life on every curve

I was all in, as the stakes were high

When I saw my cards, they just read WHY

Defeated, destroyed, shattered felt my heart

Beautifully killed like a piece of art

Lost all hope and as I lay in pain

Anticipating my final sleep in vain

Just then, I heard a knock on my door

There was a spirit of hope who reminded me of my chore

I don’t know if she is a doctor, a teacher, a friend or an angel who is watching over me

But she is holding me tight in this storm and keeping me awake so I can see

Life is beyond our expectations and disappointments

Maybe with love, I have no more appointments

A whole new world is out there to explore and feel alive

A chance to do something for people who helped me revive

I will not just survive, I will now arrive.

– Soham Dave

Life

Life was becoming rough,
Everyday had become tough,
It seemed I had lost it all,
And happiness had taken a fall,
Lived a dream for many years,
And then it left me in tears,
I was left with no hope,
Every moment was difficult to cope,
But now it is the end of that phase,
Now only happiness is what I chase,
Doing what I love to do the best,
Enough time to play, Enough to rest,
Bike Rides & Night Out,
Outstation trips without a doubt,
Weekend Mornings for a game of Cricket,
Evening time with a movie ticket,
Meeting friends all old & New,
Staying up until the morning Dew,
All these things I had missed a lot,
A few good lessons that life has taught,
Life has its own Ups & Downs,
Sometimes u laugh & Sometimes u frown,
It’s no good reason to live in the pasts,
Live your life till the time it lasts!

– Sujit Shetty

Rent Free Space for your thoughts!

Writing is a great form of expression. Writing helps you relieve stress, makes you creative, opens up your imagination, improves your observation skills and you discover a new you!

Some people find it easy to write. Some people don’t. There could be various reasons for that.

They may:

✎ Not know how to put their thoughts into words

✎ Not sure if anyone would read what they write

✎ Never thought about it

✎ Don’t know what to write about

✎ Don’t want to create a blog

And so on!

Mirchi Laddoo Dot Com presents a platform for these reluctant writers in the form of a contest 🙂

Rules:

✎ You can write about any topic you want

✎ Minimum 150 words, Maximum 3000

✎ Send in your entries latest by 7th May 2016 to mirchiladdoo@gmail.com

✎ Do not copy anyone’s content. The writing should be original

So what are you waiting for?

Write-Away-logo-01-copy-2-324x324PS: There are surprise giveaways too!

Let us make this Earth a beautiful place!

It was once said by a great thinker & philosopher that you are nothing but trustees of this planet.

I agree with this totally & believe that it is our duty to keep our planet as beautiful & serene as it was when created by God.

In the past few centuries, we have grown by leaps & bounds in terms of industrial development & communication. But at what cost? We have exploited our natural resources endlessly.

We are only 1 of the lakhs of species on Planet Earth. But we have crowned ourselves Kings & Queens of this planet. We behave as if everything is made only for us.

If we continue to do so, there would be nothing left for the future generations. There will be no life other than human beings & what kind of life it would be?

Doesn’t look very good, does it?

But this is not an era of despair & disappointment!

All is not lost yet!!

We need not wear tree leaves & go & live in the jungle. What we need to do is take few small steps.

We are lucky to have information at our finger tips. There are articles, books, magazines, websites – all to show what we can do.

Some of the things we can do:

1. Avoid wastage, especially of water. Check that none of the taps at your home / office are leaking. Always close the tap fully.

2.Have bucket bath instead of showers.

3.Do not litter.

4.Plant a tree in your compound so that you can watch over it.

5.Use public transport whenever possible.

6.Think before you hit the print button. Always preview whatever you are going to print.

7.Use Cloth bags. You can design them & get it stitched by your local tailor. Trendy & Environment Friendly!

8.Use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins.

9.Whenever you are not using, always switch off your appliances. Do not keep them in Stand by mode.

10.Do not buy products which are made by killing animals, especially endangered species.

11.Do not take undue advantage of resources freely available.

Just choose one thing & stick to it. Take a pledge.

Be Aware & Spread The Awareness.

And together we shall make our Earth a beautiful planet to live in – for us & for our children!!!

 

Nap Time > Movie Time

So many movies to watch and somehow weekends pass without watching them.

This Saturday planned to watch one post lunch as a plan of going out got cancelled.

After lunch, I realised parents might want to nap.

I asked them whether they have any plans of sleeping. If so, we can watch movie in the evening.

Mom and dad both denied vehemently. Dad even said even if we feel sleepy, movie will ensure we don’t.

It’s half an hour since the movie started and dad is fast asleep. Total ROFL moment!

Goa – Beyond Partying, Boozing and Sea Food

It had been a long time since we went for a vacation. We, as in myself and my parents.

On mom’s birthday in Nov ’14, I was wondering what to gift mom. (Usually it is jewellery / smart phone)  and then I recalled that how mom keeps saying she is the only one  from the family who has never been on a flight. And voila! a idea formed in my mind. Let’s zero in on places which are not far from Mumbai and which won’t be too expensive!

I had been to Goa in 2010 for a weekend. You can read about it here: Rendezvous with Goa But it was just a sip for a thirsty soul. I always planned to return for a more fulfilling experience.

I booked flight tickets, hotel and planned a detailed itinerary which would suit my parents. Some people tried to dissuade me from this plan saying you all are vegetarians and teetotallers, what would you do in Goa? I was not doing Goa right maybe but I was definitely doing being a daughter right 😉

We didn’t booze, party or go for adventure water sports but we did have fun in our own way!

Brace yourself! A detailed account is coming up! 😉

On D day, we left home at 9 to catch a flight scheduled at 1.30 (Funny thing that we had to travel 150 minutes for a 45 minute flight 😛 ) Anyway, we reached the domestic airport in Mumbai well in time, only to know all domestic flights of Air India do not take off from Domestic but the International Airport (fondly known as T2). Anyway, we took another cab & reached T2. The path leading to T2 is amazing in itself and so is the airport! The airport is done up beautifully including lots of art installations.

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We had a quick brunch at the Street Foods by Punjab Grill (Yummy food, specially the Samosa Chaat) The walk towards the flight gate was too long, be careful if you have people who can not walk much. Arrange for a wheelchair well in advance.

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Since it was an Air India flight, we got free snacks – a cheese sandwich, Frooti & a small bottle of water. Shouldn’t have eaten at the airport 😉

Anyway, so we landed a bit late at the Goa airport as the plane wasn’t getting place for parking (who would have thunk?) Do take the prepaid taxis (booking inside the airport at the prepaid taxi counter) to save yourself from being fleeced. Unless you have an arrangement with the hotel to pick you up.

Our first destination was Vasco, at my mom’s cousin’s place. After a heavenly lunch, sharing stories, discussing politics and a refreshing nap, we headed towards Calangute. The air was filled with scent of trees and you could sense that you have left polluted city far behind.

The hotel, Calangute Grande, situated in a charming bylane was a delightful place (for the budget we were on that is)

Day 2: A visit to Old Goa, Dona Paula & Miramar Beach was planned. Also lunch at Delhi Durbar in Panjim (Amazing amazing food)

The Basilica of Bom Jesus is an enchanting structure with lots of options for photo ops. The Basilica also displays the remains of St Francis Xavier and a hall of paintings based on life of the said Saint. The paintings are a bit dark and the remains can give one the creeps. The backyard of the church has a small garden as well.

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Right opposite the Basilica is the Archaelogical Museum and Se Cathedral. Its a beautiful place and I regret not going inside the museum. Next time maybe!

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We had booked the cab for sight seeing via the hotel and none of us had taken the driver’s number or noted the licence number in enthusiasm (Totally Facepalm moment) Like fools we kept searching where the driver had parked his car. And after a long futile search, coordinated with the hotel for the driver’s number. We were totally exhausted by then. Delhi Durbar here we come! After a leisurely lunch, which included Sula Rose Wine for dad (after all we were in Goa 😉 ) we moved towards Dona Paula. A picturesque place with such a beautiful view! Totally enjoyed clicking pics here 🙂

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Next Stop Miramar Beach. The sand here is very silky and the distance from the beach to the sea is probably the longest.

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Day 2: Dolphin Trip, Fort Aguada & Baga Beach

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Unlike few years ago, there are ample restaurants available for vegetarians, one of them being Navtara in Calangute. We had this amazing Veg Xacuti, a spicy vegetable curry along with hot hot buns!

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We had planned to go for Spice Plantation on Day 3 but somehow dropped that plan and just did some shopping in the morning & a visit to the Calangute beach in the evening. Got inked (temporary) and made dad envious and had an amazing Italian dinner at Over The Flames. Got parents introduced to Tequila, only to be questioned over and over again on what happens if you drink tequila (annoying parents happen that’s what -_-) Note that Calangute beach is more crowded than Baga. Water sports at Calangute are cheaper than at Baga beach.

One thing was puzzling parents that we didn’t see any animals, not even strays in Goa and then look what we found 😉

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My Arm Tattoo 🙂

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On my neckline 😉

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Mom getting inked 😀

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Over The Flames

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One Tequila, Two Tequila, Three Tequila, Floor!

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Bebinca (Goan dessert. It’s non vegetarian         (don’t tell dad ok?)

And finally it was time to bid Goa goodbye! Sigh! One of the most beautiful vacation I have had. Would go again. I want to explore more on foot. The beaches as well as the beautiful by lanes. Goa is very green and clean inspite of so many tourists. It would be a delight to be here again! Au Revoir!

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Beautiful Art at Goa Airport

 

Junk Mail Vs Junk Food

As I opened my office mailbox, I got a notification saying you have one junk mail.

That made me think about all the junk / spam mails we receive on a daily basis on all of our inboxes, whichever mail client we might be using. Apart from brands selling products, telecom companies, insurance, property, etc etc, we also have some very lucrative mails from Nigerian princes and Cola companies offering us share in a large sum of money or lottery prizes.

These junk mails are bad for our electronic / financial health. We might lose money if it is a scam or it might lead to getting our computers infected with virus (Remember the time you clicked links of hot pics and then you had to get your computer formatted? 😉 )

A small percentage of people (I hear actor Karan Grover was a recent victim) still fall prey to these scam mails. Rest of us prudently ignore (and organised ones like me, shift + delete them)

How different are these junk mails from junk food? Not different really. Just like junk mails can destroy our data / money, junk food slowly and steadily destroys our health and of course money.

Just like we be prudent about ignoring a junk mail, why don’t we try to ignore junk food too?

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Thoughts?

Don’t call me unhealthy, call me fat!

Vogue recently did a photo shoot with plus size models (as opposed to the usual zero size models) A move by the magazine to find favour in the eyes of a larger audience & thus boosting its sales.

As usual the verdict on the shoot was divided in two categories. One side cheered the magazine for its bold move and another screamed to stop promoting unhealthy life style.

I know right? I was as zapped as you are! People who don’t even know what plus size means where shouting their opinions on how fat people are lazy and unhealthy and careless and blah blah blah.

It is time to bust their myth, isn’t it?

A. Plus Size doesn’t mean only fat. People who are well built, with a stout body structure or with a taller and broader frame would be included in this category. Skinny and delicate are NOT the only size God created people in.

B. Fat doesn’t mean unhealthy: I have seen lot of people who eat healthy, work out and still are not able to remove the excess fat. Have you seen some of the dancers and choreographers who are fat yet dance with grace? All the dancercise should make them thin, right? Being fat does not come only from unhealthy eating. There are various factors which lead to being fat. Genes, metabolism, hormones disorders are some of the factors which cause people to be fat. No doubt obesity leads to various diseases. But it is wrong to say all fat people are unhealthy, while subtly hinting that all thin people are healthy.

I have seen 20 something people cribbing about climbing down the stairs, which doesn’t even require efforts. I have seen them waiting for elevator to reach 2nd floor which they could climb in the same time as the wait time.

I have seen thin people having a huge appetite as compared to fat people and they eat the same food fat people do. Not some healthy no carb no sugar diet.

So even if you think Plus Sized clothes are for fat people, don’t unnecessary give gyaan on how fat and diseases are related. Mind your own business and let fat people enjoy a little bit of fashion too.

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He Expired Phrase Origin

Have been hearing a lot of arguments regarding using expired as a euphemism to convey that someone has died. Also, off ho gaye in Hindi.

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When someone says he expired, people will ask whether he was medicine to have an expiry date? Or when someone says wo off ho gaye, is he mood which gets switched off?

I thought the argument is valid enough. But I also wondered what was the origin of the phrase. There should be some logic to that as well!

Let’s see the first one “Expired”

Expired: Turns out He expired is a very valid phrase. As with many words, expire also has multiple meaning. The word has a Latin origin, which literally means To breath out. He expired would therefore mean he breathed his last. Mystery unveiled 😉

Off ho gaye (Hindi): This phrase has a origin in one of the Indian languages Gujarati, and is extensively used mostly in Mumbaiya Hindi. In proper Hindi, we would say “Wo bhagwan ko pyaare ho gaye” (The deceased has gone to a better place) as it is considered rude to say directly so and so died. The phrase might have originated in the era of telegram when you had to pay for every letter used in the message. Off would use fewer words. This is not a verified reason but purely based on assumption.

If you know authentic origin of the phrase, do share 🙂

Might is Right or Not?

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We all remember this scene from Tom & Jerry, don’t we?

 Tom & Jerry taught us Mouse is scared of cats and cats are in turn scared of dogs.

 In real life though, I have seen cats being scared by mighty rats and dogs being scared by mighty cats.

One may think it is not about the species though. It could be because of the size. After all, might is right, they say.

One scene I witnessed recently made me think about the whole situation though.

I was passing by a market & saw that a pile of meat waste and severed chicken head were lying on the road.

A cat was lapping it up hungrily. Natural, isn’t it?

But what I saw next blew my mind!

A dog was waiting behind the cat as if waiting for her to finish the meal so that he can gorge on the leftovers.

Isn’t it an example of perfect camaraderie?

I would have clicked their pic but it would have disturbed the whole scene.

The memory of that scene would be forever etched in my mind though!

Do share if you have witnessed any such incidents 🙂

Dress to Impress. Yourself!

Recently I read an article where a woman advised women to dress according to their shape and not to show those extra inch (es) of fat. This is not the first time someone has said this. There are countless advices for over weight women on how they should dress.

You will never see these kind of advices for men. Even men have huge beer bellies / lanky legs and not all kind of outfits suit them. Not everyone looks good in skinny jeans / suits where buttons seem to burst from the seams. But then what other option they have? They could wear loose Kurta / baggy jeans though 😉

This reminds me of my growing up years. I was healthy overweight since I was born but I always dressed up in so called western clothes like skirts and midis. As I entered college, I started putting on weight with the speed of a bunny. I was advised to drop the skirts and wear full sleeved dresses to hide my flabby arms, elephantine legs and a bulging tummy.

Of course they made me look more flabby. If you look at my pics of those times, you can see only my face (thankfully no one suggested to wear a mask to hide the face fat) The rest of my body is covered in what I can only call a tent.

When I started working, I saw an overweight woman in my office wearing a skirt. I told mom that she wasn’t looking bad. I got permission to wear one (Of course I had to get it stitched as plus size clothing wasn’t available so easy few years back). Since then there has been no looking back. I started wearing dresses which flattered my shape rather than hide it. All the A line skirts / dresses, short sleeves, etc which were forbidden by fashion gurus, actually made me look slimmer and more importantly, happy!

So my advise to overweight or otherwise, women is, do not listen to these judgemental advices. Not everyone is born with the same shape. Some body parts would be thin and some would be fat. If the fat / skinny parts look ugly to people, it is their problem. Imagine if we weren’t wearing clothes. Imagine the world was a nudist colony. Would these judgemental people ask us to chop away the ugly parts?

And as regards what to wear, wear only what you feel comfortable in. If a bandage dress makes you feel sexy and boosts your confidence, wear it even if you have a bulging tummy. As for tights / leggings, everyone would vouch how comfortable they are as compared to salwars / pants. But the key here is comfort. If you are wearing a sexy tight dress but it doesn’t allow you to breath, do not wear. The discomfort wears your confidence off surely.

There is a proverb in Hindi, Khaiyye man bhata, peheniye jag bhata. Translation: Eat what you like, wear what people like. But I disagree. Why should we wear what people like? We should wear what makes us happy. So don’t worry! Dress up. To impress. Yourself!

Have look at the women in the pics below. Don’t they look just fabulous?? 😀

ericawatson_couchIMG_1079zara-striped-blouse-fashion-ootd-blog-fat-curvy

 

The Forbidden Temple

Shani Shingnapur Temple is a famous temple of Shani Dev in the Shingnapur village in Maharashtra. Since childhood we have heard stories about how the people in the village do not lock their doors and yet there have been no thefts. Shani Dev (The God of Planet Saturn) is a very scary God. If it’s wrath befells you, which is for 7 and a half years, you are in for a really horrible time, they say. They being the astrologers and pundits.

Men worshipping Shani Idol

                 Men worshipping Shani Idol

Recently, this temple has been in news and earning the wrath of human beings, for a change. A group of activists, no doubt politically motivated, want women to have a right to pray in the said temple. As far as I know (based on googled knowledge) women can worship, however from far. They are not allowed to mount the place where the idol is placed nor they can offer oil.

I am sure in general, women are happy doing this. As they are following age old rituals. Like not entering temple during menstruation (Which can start a new topic of why menstruating women are not allowed to Sabrimala temple in Kerala). Anyhow, so back to the Shani temple, women wouldn’t mind not being allowed. But the activists have created a furore. And the people who are counter arguing the need for women to enter the temple are giving some idiotic reasoning in my opinion.

Example:

♂ Why activism only against the bias in temples? Why not mosques? Why not fight against lower fees for women actress. ~ Obviously it’s a politically motivated activism. And only they know why they chose this temple issue over other things (To spite BJP would be a major reason)

When Anna Hazare started activism against corruption, who knew one of their biggest supporter would become an ally of corrupt dynasty driven party? After all having a political agenda can not be only a man’s prerogative, right? 😉

♂ If women are not allowed in the temple, why they should even want to go to that temple? Also, is that the only temple left in India? ~ Well, if we accept that argument, and we apply the logic to every fight that has happened in India or elsewhere, no changes / reforms would ever happen. Would you say, if Gandhi was not allowed in the first class coach, he shouldn’t have travelled first class? The so called lower caste people were not allowed to enter temples. So should have they been content? Girls were not allowed to study. Should have they kept quite?

♂ If you do not agree to rituals of the religion, don’t follow the religion ~ Well, if we can not question the rituals of the religion, the origin of which are unknown, the religion should question if it should even exist.

♂ There must be a scientific reason for women to be forbidden ~ This one takes the cake. Someone said radiations from the stone affect only women and hence they are forbidden. Well, I tried finding the exact reason for the ban but could not find any. And if this is the actual reason, warn women. Let them make an informed decision.

In my opinion, if there is no valid and verified reason, there should not be a ban on a woman who genuinely wants to worship the idol. We are “allowing” women to perform last rites today, which was forbidden earlier, isn’t it? So why can’t we change this as well?

It is 2016 and high time that we use our brains rather than blindly following rituals and the dos and don’ts carried over from the stone age.

Lessons of 2015

No, changing of a year does not mean just a change of date. If you think carefully, every day teaches us something and we change every day. A new lesson learnt, a bad experience avoided, an opportunity grabbed.

My lessons for 2015:

✽ Save Electricity. Save Money.

✽ Don’t waste energy in pointing fingers at others. Rather use that energy to be a better person.

✽ Never ever do what your heart doesn’t agree with.

✽ Stop reacting to everything.

✽ Focus on beautiful things in your life. Forget people who hurt you.

✽ Don’t feed attention beggars.

✽ If you are angry with someone, imagine slapping them non stop cartoon style.

✽ Respect your own worth even if other people don’t.

✽ Never stop believing in your dreams. if you don’t, universe won’t.

Top 10 Books of 2015

In the beginning of 2015 couple of people gave me the Reading Challenge.

Reading_Challenge

Quite daunting eh? It has approximate 52 categories I think. Initially I thought I wouldn’t follow it as it would make reading a task and not the joy it is. In between the year, I thought maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea. It would give me an opportunity to explore genres / authors which I haven’t read yet. I listed the categories in a spreadsheet dutifully and marked books I already read. Also plotted out books that I would like to read. It would have worked fine except that I discovered the joy of e books. All the books I wanted to read, my favourite books of all time, all available in the mobi or epub format. The advantage of e books for me is they are space saving, can be read at night without lights and can be read during breaks too! But this doesn’t mean I have abandoned paper backs / hard covers 😉

Overall I have read plenty of books this year. Most of them good but couple of Duhs too (Aarushi & Anusual). I read most books of Jeffrey Archer, Agatha Christie and Nicholas Sparks, the Harry Potter series, The Godfather, entire Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella, Memoirs of Naseeruddin Shah, Novels by Rabindranath Tagore, Short stories of Tagore, Bhisham Sahni’s stories and some more! Phew! 😀

To select top 10 books is a difficult task! Though I will attempt it 🙂

✎ The Pregnant King – Written by Devdutt Patnaik. He describes the emotions of both mother and father beautifully!

✎ The Mysterious Stranger – Written by Mark Twain. Each and everyone should read this book. It raises serious questions on morality and superior complex of human beings

✎ Comedy of marriage and other things – Written by Maupassant. It is a fine compilation of short stories resembling society of his times.

✎ Short stories of Bhisham Sahni – Bhisham Sahni is a wonderful writer and this collection is simply enchanting! I wish I had read it in Hindi though. Would have been more joyful!

✎ The Descendants – Written by Kaui Hemmings. It is heart touching and set in a different location for a change, i.e. Hawaii and it showcases the reality of Hawaii rather than focussing on the superficially touristy thing!

✎ The Fan Girl – Written by Rainbow Rowell. It’s teenage romance genre and it still is interesting to read because the way Rowell writes. Rowell gives depth to her characters even without describing what makes them who they are. That’s why you feel one with them.

✎ Chokher Bali – A beautiful tragic novel by Rabindranath Tagore. I could totally relate to Binodini and the climax broke my heart. Damn the sense of morality in those times :-/

✎ The Godfather – Mario Puzo has created a masterpiece! Though this was a re-read but it was after many years and it was like reading it for the first time. The detailing is so beautiful! This is a must read for everyone!

✎ To Kill a Mocking Bird – Written by Harper Lee. It talks about America of a different era. The racism, the cruelty and the subtle heroics of ordinary people is depicted wonderfully!

✎ Rag Darbari – Written by Srilal Shukla. My dad says this is supposed to be the best novel written in Hindi and he isn’t wrong. The writing is gripping and the content seems relevant even today. The detailing of characters is just fabulous!

If you read, I would love to know which books touched your heart this year 🙂