Count Your Blessings

On 24th of Jan, I was invited to be a part of a ladies’ meet, to share my journey so far.

The ladies had met, to discuss the challenges that women face, once they hit 40. Whether it is coping with the emotional stress, bodily changes or the pitfalls of a career change.

It was a very invigorating session.

As I came back, I realized how fortunate I had been, to get the chances I got. How things fell in place, when the time was right, or was it the other way round?

The switch from an ill, overweight, meandering through life, lost planet to a content but still searching sistah, had been comparatively smooth.

But it wasn’t as if the life was never shitty. Who manages to escape the heft of destiny?

When we lost someone very dear to us, it was as if that departed soul became our guardian angel from the worlds above. Due the attendant monetary vulgarities, as we stared at the brink, my parents became pillars of rock, standing right by our side, guiding and chiding us. In the process, our tiny family became closer and battle hardened.

We quickly learnt to look at the glass, half full.

As I came out of the above mentioned session feeling blessed, I refreshed mentally, a few mantras, which have helped me so far to stay afloat.

  1. Good always begets good. Do good and watch your good karma grow and wipe out the bad karma.
  2. Love yourself the most yet be your harshest critic. Be aware of your plusses and minuses.
  3. Invest in your health. Top priority!
  4. Shop guilt free.
  5. Don’t worry about others’ opinions. So long as they don’t pay your bills, they don’t have a say.
  6. Draw up a balance sheet. Take stock. Your blessings will always outweigh your curses.
  7. Chart your future goals. Paint a mental picture. Be realistic about it.
  8. Plan the path ahead. Acquire the necessary skillsets. Be the eternal learner!
  9. Chase those dreams steadfastly. Be very disciplined. Don’t be scared to ask for advice.

Chase Excellence and success will follow!  Oh yeah, Money too!

Rupa and demonetisation

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Rupa hummed the latest chart buster as she stir-fried the bhendi, with one hand, while she rolled out the thin crispy parathas. Beer Singh, her husband, busy on the phone, came into the kitchen, tapped angrily at his watch. Rupa smiled apologetically and handed him his plate of food. She could hear her mother-in-law, invoking all the gods while she screamed at Rupa for her tardiness and her father-in-law demanded another cup of chai.

Nothing could faze Rupa. Not today. When long awaited happiness was in sight.

Tomorrow, her in-laws would leave home to visit her sister-in-law and her husband had appointments all through the day. So she would…

In a flash, she was back to that point where it had all started.

Rupa, true to name, was beauty born between many sisters, into a wealthy family steeped in conservatism. She was also bright with stars in her eyes and big dreams to chase. Her family let her study provided, she learnt all the ‘girlie’ talents. One by one, as her sisters were married off, much against their wishes, Rupa knew what fate awaited her but she hoped against hope. And sure enough, one fine day, as she came back from college, the elders gave her the news of her engagement with Beer Singh. Since the wedding was only a week away, her education was stopped. Wearily, Rupa got busy with the festivities.

On her wedding night, Rupa discovered what a monster her husband was…which continued. She tried complaining around. Her family said, their responsibility was over the moment she got married. It was up to her, to set her marriage straight. Her in-laws fumed, how dare she find fault with their precious son?

Enough ways were found to bring her into submission, to break her spirit. Weary Rupa, trudged along with life. Luckily there were no children and in-laws began hinting at another wedding. Totally broken, TV would be her entertainment, once she was done with her daily chores and the Mother-in-law retired for her siesta.

One fine day, Rupa happened to see, ‘Sleeping with the Enemy.’

A plan began to formulate in her head.

Beer Singh was a property dealer. There was always cash around. Rupa began to whittle away tiny amounts of cash from the sum she received to run the household, hid it in pantyhose, tucked it away under mattress, stashed away in the dark corners of closets. Mooched some cash away from the money given for safe keeping. Did whatever she could. Slowly this money grew into a significant reserve over time. It was her treasure, to be used as and when she decided to bolt, to set up life new in the remote south, where nobody knew her. She had it all planned.

And the D-Day was near. She was about to fly the coop the next day when all were busy.

Rupa finished the rest of the day very cheerfully. She cooked Beer Singh’s favorite food. The wretched bloke deserved one final kind gesture.

Beer Singh came back as usual, sozzled to the gills, demanded the TV be switched on while he ate his dinner. Suddenly, all the news channels started airing the PM’s address to the nation.

As of midnight, tonight, all 500 and 1000 notes will be demonetized. And…

Two people fell down simultaneously to the ground, though for different reasons.

Would Rupa get a chance to fly away? Tomorrow surely knows!

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Suddenly all her life was sucked out of her and Rupa became a mere shadow of her former self. She was trapped, forever! 

As is usual, no one in the family had noticed or cared really, busy as they were, with their own share of life altering and shattering cash problems. Beer Singh, her husband and her father-in-law were shocked beyond their wits, while the mother-in-law wailed round the clock. Bundles of notes everywhere but of no apparent value, as most of it was unaccounted for. All sorts of nefarious schemes were being considered and many fixers dropped in all the time, serving up, tens of under-handed dealings, to save the day.

Rupa, after the initial moping period, recovered soon enough. You cannot put a beautiful soul down, for long! She began to absorb and assimilate the information floating around her, sorting and discarding trash. She began to scout around amongst her friends for the most trustworthy, someone whom she could depend with her stashed but now worthless moolah. She obviously couldn’t share everything -(about her plans of flying off from her torture chamber) – with anyone!

Finally, she zeroed in on Sakhi, one of her closest acquaintances after her marriage with Beer Singh. Sakhi was shrewd and smart. Rupa would call Sakhi everyday, making deep inroads into Sakhi’s heart, exchanging daily domestic drivel, asking for advice. Once Rupa was sure that, Sakhi was now much closer to her, she told her mother-in-law, her intentions of visiting the nearby temple daily, to pray for the well being of the family. Mother-in-law waved her away, saying that it was ok, so long as all the jobs were done and she came back in time to attend to the rest. One less bother, to tackle!

Rupa would beg Sakhi to accompany her and Sakhi often indulged. Rupa amused her. Slowly, little by little, Rupa began to divulge her secrets to Sakhi. Sakhi was soon taken up by this adventure and she readily agreed to deposit the whittled cash in her account on the sly and take out the new denominations, over time, given the monetary withdrawal restrictions. Sakhi was amazed that, given the circumstances of Rupa, Rupa had managed to stash away so much. Of course, Rupa never revealed the entire truth though Rupa had no go except to trust Sakhi.

Over days, all the cash was deposited and it was time to rebuild the chest with new denominations.

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Why is Sakhi avoiding my calls? These days, she always meets me with someone in the room, so that I cannot speak about the money at all. What do I do now? What will she do with that cash? Above 2.5 lac, she needs to show the source! She knows that. Money makes morals fly’ thought Rupa, as she chopped onions. Her eyes were full of tears,- due to onions? or due to her anguish? she couldn’t comprehend.

I’m going to confront Sakhi today, no matter what! I will land up at her house, without any prior intimation and catch her off-guard!’. Rupa rushed through her chores, gave the excuse of a visit to the temple and marched towards Sakhi’s house.

Sakhi, luckily for Rupa, was all alone in her house. And a no-holds barred fight ensued. Sakhi point blank refused to part with the cash, even asking where the proof of deposit was. Rupa slumped into her chair. Sakhi pinned Rupa down, roughly shaking her by the shoulders and screamed, “ Get out of my house! Forget that we were friends ever! What money do you talk of? I dare you to prove it. If you keep coming here and harassing me, I will come over and complain to Bhaiyya. Now, get up and move.”

Softly sobbing Rupa, quietly stepped out, started her Scooty and moved towards home.

One of the narrower lanes, near her home was jam packed with people. Rupa tried to move around the crowd and then she spotted the boy, the reason for the milling crowd. A six year old boy was writhing in pain, foaming at the mouth, while the crowd watched. He had ingested something from the nearby food stalls. Someone had called the ambulance, but these are narrow roads. So…

Rupa called Sakhi, repeatedly but Sakhi didn’t pick up. Rupa quietly picked up the boy. She had to!

It was Sakhi’s son. She tied him to her back with her chunni, while he was throwing up on her, made another neighborhood lad sit behind, holding Sakhi’s son. She sped towards the hospital,  in the next lane, ran with the boy in her arms, created enough ruckus and got him admitted.

As the doctors attended to him, she made the call again to the mother. Sakhi didn’t pick up. She then messaged Sakhi.

*******************************************************

The doctors told Sakhi, that the timely medical attention had saved the boy. Else he had no chance. Sakhi, held Rupa and cried bitterly. Somehow the stench of vomit emanating from Rupa didn’t bother, either.

*******************************************************

Rupa, your friend Sakhi has come!” screamed Rupa’s mother-in-law. Rupa came out of the kitchen, smiled at Sakhi and took her to her room. Sakhi was carrying a big bag under her chunni. She simply put it in Rupa’s hands and bowed with her hands folded.

Rupa opened the zip, looked at the contents  and stuttered, “ This is much more than what I had given you!

Nothing I do, will ever repay your debt!” was all tearful Sakhi had to say.

Rupa smiled broadly and hugged Sakhi tightly

Now Rupa was ready to fly! It was all just a matter of time!

Go Green? Makes me see red really!!

These days I am constantly told that conserving the environment and protecting our planet must be a civil society’s number one priority, people should want to make a difference and live greener lives.

However ‘Go Green’ is always a scary slogan for me. It kind of rhymes with Mo-clean and makes me scurry around with mop and mope till I drop.

We keep hearing that we are but caretakers of this legacy of mother earth, that we need to pass it on to our children.

As they say, child is the father of man and the children have it taken it upon themselves to educate us all about green earth. The amount of poster work that gets done to ram this singular point across is no one’s business.

Err about the numbers of trees that went into making those papers.. Well, never mind. That’s a different point

Mind you, I have done my share of home work, finding all about sustainable living and the ways I could reduce my carbon imprint. Here’s what I found.

Wise ones have already laid out few commandments for greener lives

1) Think and shop – Whoever said Sale is a four lettered work, couldn’t be more wrong. NCR with its unpredictable seasons needs constant wardrobe update. How does one think green in such cupboard defining moments?

2) Taking care that the big electronic purchases are environmental friendly and have enough star credentials – To be frank, the first and foremost thing, I worry about is how wallet friendly is my purchase. The government should make sure that India doesn’t become the dumping ground  for iffy and dated technologies.

3) Ditch the plastic – If I do that, how do I line my trash can? How do I store stuff in my fridge or carry my drinking water?

4) Pay attention to labels and boycott products that endanger wildlife and me – Easier said than done that. Have you seen that tiny minuscule print at the back? Impossible to read without an industrial scale magnifier!

5) Green your home. Choose renewable energy – All right where is the sunlight ? The match boxes that we live in, have been specially designed by the architects to make sure that hardly any light comes through. The tiny homes have fewer spaces for greenery too. We need greener homes at affordable prices.

6) Be water wise. Bathe with buckets. Wash clothes less frequently and use less water for dishes – Yeah right! If and when water does come out of those taps, these diktats could be followed. Itches, rashes and dysentry be damned.

7) Then the segregation of waste – By the time the maids understand and implement, armageddon would be here.

8) Drive less, drive green – Public transportation? Ok show me a safer mode of transportation, than my own car, where I wont be pawed, gaped at. Alarmed with the smog levels, the Delhi Government did come up with the 15 days of odd even vehicles experiment. Women didn’t feel the heat as they were exempted. Next time they aren’t going that lucky. There are  no safe cycle tracks if one needs to do short distance travel.

9) Have a Green Diwali – Just imagine this festival without the ear splitting noise of crackers or smog inducing Anars!! Only simple diyas and no more ‘De Dabba Le Dabba’ drives. Cuts down vehicular pollution you see. Eeks! fie on these green monsters

10) Choose to have a smaller family. I like this the best !  Amen to that!

On a serious note, people would love to lead greener lives. It’s just that, it is too time consuming and there aren’t enough services that help people make the right choices.

As technology becomes more user centric, there will be a difference.

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When the Exam Season Tests You and the Child!!

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Exam season is upon us in NCR.

A season when some mothers go absolutely ballistic, wanting to make sure that their children become the shining super stars! Aka toppers of the class!

The sad thing about that position is that usually, there can only be one topper. The rest have to settle somewhere in that triangle of abilities.

But being the second best is no good you see! 

“We only remember Neil Armstrong, the first man on moon! Who remembers the second man on the moon?” goes the argument..

Agreed, a loving mother would always want the very best for her child. In their endeavor to see their child topping the heap, sometimes, committed mothers go all out.

They plan the entire day’s schedule, including the time allocated for loo breaks. Mobiles are confiscated, power meals are planned. Internet and TV suddenly become out of bounds. Playtime becomes highly restricted. Exam timetables are whatssapped in triplicate to tutors and teachers are hounded with unending mails.

It is a mission, you see!

As an educator and as an admin of an academic forum of Facebook, I have seen the lengths the parents go, to make their children, super winners.

While all this is very heartening, it is actually a very fine line not to cross!

When we cross that, we forget the damage we cause to those little hearts.

Sometimes to escape this never-ending, minute scrutiny, the children take to lying. Not at all a happy situation because trust should be the underlying factor for any thriving relationship.

A heartfelt request to all moms out there –

Please do not criticize/berate/make fun/discredit your child in front of his/her tutors/teachers. Put yourself once in their shoes and see how small you would feel, if someone were to do the same to you. Please boost their confidence and become the wind beneath their wings. Please do not give them the spiel about the enormous monies spent on their education or the comforts you provide or how hard you had to work to reach where you are now. And that deadly sibling comparison? About a sister/brother doing much better? The scars it leaves, are for life. 

This discourse almost never has the intended effect of making them feel guilty, thereby responsible. The children just shut off, after awhile, to this Gyaan.

Instead, explain to your children, the necessity to do well, to the best of their abilities, in this competitive world. Have a realistic opinion and expectation of your child. Each child has one or more wondrous talents. It is up to you to figure it, ferret it out and polish it. Who said parenting was easy?

A good, solid preparation to ace the exams is needed. And this process should be enjoyable and not a hellish burden on the child.

Acing the exams shouldn’t be life’s only aim. Marks are not the be all and end all of life. A good character with an ability to face life is more important than anything else. 

Because Life is a continuous Test requiring a courageous demeanor and constant updating of combating skills.

It all starts with you mother! Groom them! Make your children, Life Ready!

On a Smoggy Day, When Cash turned to Ash

Yada Yada Hi Dharmasya Glanir Bhavati Bharata

Abhyutthanam Adharmasya Tadatmanam Srjamya Aham

Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion — at that time I descend Myself

It was the same old chaotic status quo in the Great Indian Ancient-Modern Democracy.

After the day made it’s believers break their bones to earn their daily bread, Night had quickly descended upon this dichotomy of a nation.

Some villages welcomed it with flickering candle lights and while the hustling and bustling metros brought in a kicking night life.

Nation’s Conscious Keeper and Primary Carper was at it, screaming his guts out on the satellite waves, demanding that the nation needed to know at that very breathtaking instant about some double hashtagged designer distress.

The men in various families while wolfing down the hot yummy food cooked by their wives, vigorously and vociferously nodded in agreement to this rabble rouser’s bordering-on-jingoism exhortations and the poor neglected wives quietly mulled over divorces and hefty alimony.

And older gen stared vacuously at the buried in 15th century style serials beamed across the idiot boxes. Talk about mass movement!

If this was the situation with the earthlings, the skies above had their own story.

Sri Krishna, the Lord of seven skies, after a sumptuous nine course dinner, decided to hold court with his beauteous wives, Rukmini, Satyabhama, Jambavati, Kalindi, Mitravinda, Nagnajiti, Bhadra and Lakshmana, on the simmering state of his kingdom.

The very holy land where he is deified eternally.

Sri krishna set the ball rolling with a very cryptic “What gives?”

Rukmini being the eldest of the wives, always went first.

“You are becoming famous again. In fact as the earthlings say, you are going Viral honey!”

Krishna “When did I not trend? Am I not the Eternal Alpha male? I am Aspirational and Inspirational. Who wouldn’t want to be in my shoes? I knew how to lead a great life. I had a whale of time, at each stage of my life and…”

SatyaBhama (You could never shush her really!) “And married and remarried as if marriage was going out of style. But I have to agree,You are back in the limelight, thanks to the simmering discontent. Thy name is uttered when all fails. Demonetization, has grabbed the eyeballs of the whole country and has got the pulse of intelligentsia racing. Social Media is going berserk. Most of them are shedding copious tears over downtrodden, the daily wage earners, while some are changing their cover photos in support of the earthling Alpha Male. Cash heavy BBC, has even made a film on Cash crunch”

Jambavati “Blah! Paytm them. Ban Chinese Lights  but use Chinese Gateways. Cheques and Balances are the focus of the day! Proves the great Indian obsession with Notes. Degrees of stashing is a tough nut to crack. Mr. KrazyWall’s videos and their truths have made people roll their eyes and drawl” IITians’!” Sometimes I feel that the extended usage of cough syrup does Irreparable Damage.”

Kalindi “Trust you ladies to focus on irrelevant topics. Yes we are married to the God of Great times and greater lines, but can we please focus on the ATMs? Achieve The Mission ! No Coldplay this. Nothing much to Beef about while we Chicken out”

Mitravinda “These are the days of inclusion, Woman Empowerment and gender equality. Can women be far left behind? We have sisters and mothers competing too for the rolls of dough. And where is the Mother of all Sops? She induces the cape fear in the opponents. Cash Trash was to be her wake-up call from slumber.  The Bengal sister wants the courts to intervene and a rollback. Seriously! And what happens to the torn, flushed and burnt currency?”

Nagnajiti “Huh! Not quite in the Gandhian Mould, I say. It’s all about loving your family, no matter how stupid the progeny is! Ditch the brighter daughter, Pitch in the Dim Bulb on the wary public. Mommy’s crown prince often belts out fault notes. Pappu’s RaGa of finding the pain of the Common Man while trying to withdraw 4000/- was painful to say the least. Could have been a LOL moment, had the circumstances been better. ”

Bhadra “Some say the big fish already knew and they have made their arrangements. This step was to put the cow belt in the Alpha Male’s Kitty. And some others say, what a fish, for the Swiss set, Gold and Land is the real deal. So catch them if you can. The intelligentsia has been divided into Rationalists and Nationalists, Bhakts and Bleeding Hearts and more. It is a terrible time for most with worst yet to come. Some are predicting famine, economic spiral down”

Lakshmana “The country is churning my lord. The honest man works and hopes to make a living, in spite of the overwhelming odds against him, hoping for ’sweeping’ reforms coming his way, while the bhakts and carps sledge it out. But the sloth of Governance! delays the good days that were promised. The aftermath that this Political Hunger game has unleashed will be known eventually – whether it was shortfall or windfall. Deal breaker or a Destiny Changer… Taking your name helps to tide over.”

Krishna “I gave them the Gita. Do your work to your best possible ability, don’t hanker after results. You have the right to work, but never to the fruit of work. Whatever happened, happened for the good. Whatever is happening, is happening for the good. Whatever will happen, will also happen for the good. Change is the law of the universe. I also…”

And thus while God got busy gossiping and leaders got petulantly busy squabbling, citizens got busy plundering fellow citizens, somewhere in India, a poor farmer sat in his parched field, too tired to even look up for that elusive drop of hope. The cadaverous cow was his companion, willing to be his next meal, if need be, if it came to that…

Heck, That’s now illegal

paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duskrtam

dharma-samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge

In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium.

May be its time for Him to make an appearance for the promised deliverance. Many wax ones have faltered only to deceive.

Z – Zapping the Zeal and Zest

Z

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Dully She watched, as He paced around spewing hateful venom..

Why do you endure this vitriol?” her Alter-Ego popped an unanswerable question

She half nodded at his character-smearing, soul-searing tirade

My beauty, My bane. Others think it’s a wondrous boon!” She soliloquized

Your looks are his stepping stones on the societal ladder” Alter-Ego quipped

He needs me. Under that acidic veneer, lies a heart beating for his bride” she softly rebutted

He was never the Wall between his wife and his amorous friends with their lecherous looks” Conscience Keeper carped

Children wilt in a broken home. I am the Glue, I am the binder” she reasoned with herself

Too scared to step out of your comfort zone and too used to the spoils of life” Diminishing Voice of Reason, muttered

The Haranguing Husband rested, with his tirade done…

War Weary Wife, rose to cook his daily bread…

Auto pilot was set in motion!

White Ambassador, White clad Man

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The woods are lovely dark n deep

I have miles to go before I weep or sleep

The slate will be smudged and coloured with revamped compositions

A long look at reflection with all its imperfections

But I have promises to keep, before I sleep

 

This post is about an early morning dream that I had a while ago.

It was so vivid that I haven’t forgotten it yet.

 

“It was one of the most difficult cars to navigate on the road.

A Mother-of-Pearl-White, gigantic Ambassador.

That too for a person like me, who did not know how to drive!

Against my volition, I was just thrust into the driver’s seat and asked to drive..

The controls were all wired terribly wrong.

A Bus-like Gear System, Clutch else where, an Accelerator in place of a Brake and adding to this chaos was the Incessant Blaring Traffic.

I was dying a thousand deaths already.

To my utter delight, I coped beautifully.

I drove slowly, avoided collisions and managed to park in a beautiful, lush green colony with happy faces and gambolling children.

I sat soaking in the atmosphere.

Alas, in a trifle, the dark night came in sharply. It was time to head back.

The evening traffic with it’s non-dipping lights, pitch darkness around and the T intersection ahead-  All seemed impossible to overcome.

Suddenly I realized that I was in the rear passenger seat.

A Pristine-White Clad  Man was in the driver’s seat.

He navigated with dexterity and cautioned me about an open rear door where my son was sitting and he could have fallen off.

As I sat transfixed, the White Clad Man shut the door for me and continued cruising.

I saw that there was a steering wheel, clutch, accelerator, brake, in front of me and I tried to use them to steer the car.

All along, I  thought, it was I who did the driving but all I had, were the Dummy Controls!

It was all along He! And Him alone !!”

Dear God, Please be there for me.

Always