Monday, December 31, 2012

The birthday cake

This week has been a busy one. Three parties to prepare for. And with almost the same guest list!!
But this blog post is not about clothes and jewelry and shoes and perfumes. It is about the birthday cake.
After much pondering, choosing, short listing we finally decided to get a really large cup cake with frosty pink icing for my grandchild's first birthday.
So this cake is in the trunk of the car. We collect it on Saturday because the shop is closed on Sunday. I tell my daughter let me make space for the cake in the fridge. And she says no mama I will not bring it up. I will leave the cake in the car.
What!!! I ask. Won't it go bad?
No mama it is colder outside than it is in our fridge...
aaah yes ofcourse... it is 0 degrees C outside
and then this morning she says, I will bring the cake up from the car mama ... and I say, hey, we are anyway going to the party hall, so why bring the cake up...huh?
She says .. the cake is perhaps frozen rock hard by now, I need to bring it up to thaw it ...
oh oh
And I look out and see our black car is white (covered in snow) and fine icicles hang from the bumper

strange are the ways of the world...


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Paint your pottery

November is Thanksgiving time here in the US. Families find different ways of giving 'thanks'.
Serving lunches and dinners at charity homes - Clothes and toys for the poor - Donations in cash - Dinner with family and friends - are the most preferred methods of offering thanks. But my new friend Mina is warm and unique. She takes two grannies and a nephew for a special experience. I go with them too.

Colour me mine in San Jose has inviting clusters of tables and chairs. Two walls are lined with small and large white pottery and the third wall has brushes, special paints, palettes, stencils, shaped sponge dips. The wall itself is a mosaic of small coloured tiles. Each tile has a number below it. The air is vibrant with creative energy. The tables are filled with busy grandpas grandmas and kids. What are they doing??

Amma and Aunty are apprehensive. The nephew is non committal. What is this place?
Surprise! You are here to paint.
yes, you pick a white pottery, you pick some colours, and you paint. says Mina with a smile.
More confusion. What do we pick? How do we paint? Will it come out good?

We pick a  tray, a vase, a star and a bank car. We choose paints and brushes and say naa to stencils and shapes. Soon we plunge into the world of colours.
Conversation begins to flow.
We chat about their days of youth. Of days as working women. Of fears about shifting to a strange country. Of grandchildren and the joy of their successes. They joke. They laugh.
paint your pottery

We leave the painted pottery carefully tagged. The pottery will be fired and glazed and kept ready for pick up in 5 days. That was a grand thankgiving. An afternoon to cherish.
the best gift is a gift of TIME spent.

Hype? Or gripe?

Welcome to the era of extreme emotions.
we are either super excited about something
or we are ranting and grumbling about something

is normal conversation a thing of the past?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

It is Christmas

Christmas is all about love and sharing and warmth and togetherness.
It is about the magic ... the magic of making a wish list ... and the magic of Santa granting wishes
I do wish and pray that the magic of Santa
the magic of hope and love
touches every one in your life.

If you are with your loved ones, sharing laughter and music, that is how it should be. Soak in the moment. It is yours.
If you are seeking warmth, and trying to be brave and happy, may more magic come your way, may you find the love and meaning you seek.

Yesterday evening
we did up the fireplace (yes, we have one!)
put some green leaves, sparkles and lights (I went nuts at walmart)
arranged the little plastic pine tree (with a shiny star on top too)
struggled to keep our crawling little one from grabbing at the lights
and at night ... like kids ... whispered to each other ... arranged Santa's gifts ... and clicked many pictures

My grandson is busy racing with the car that Santa gave him
Oh this is fun.
happy festive season to you all

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas lights

I had the most awesome time in San Jose. One of the highlights of the stay was the happening Christmas lights. My brother's neighbour is a festival enthusiast.

  • He does up the house for Halloween .. scary ghosts and black plastic witches sway in the breeze. smoke oozes from a tree, and orange pumpkins sit on the doorstep. 
  • During thanksgiving his house is done up again ... this time multi colour lights wave in and out of tree branches. 
  • By end of November he is up on his roof again. Sparkling rows of white lights hug along the roof eaves, windows and fence. A large balloon snowman and a sparkling reindeer shaking his head welcome us in the front yard.

We drove around the town at see the lights. Almost every home has sparkling lights.
reminding me of Deepavali and the Mysore Palace.

The best houses are listed on the web. We followed the lady's instructions on GPS, and reached the houses. One more spectacular than the other. at one place 6 houses got together to make an awesome presentation, with sound synchronized lighting! to tell you the truth it was pretty garish. but a lot of serious effort and expenditure was put in. This is a different version...but gives you a taste of it

And then we came home. We pulled out strings of white lights. Fixed them on the garage door.
Turned them on. And stood back...Our house lit up.. .. SERIOUSLY
this is the best house

that well lit up home, with rows of sparkling lights.....that is our neighbour

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Hop over at Chicago

What must you do... if you have to catch a connecting flight.... at Chicago... and you are traveling alone?
  • keep enough time between flights so that you can walk to the departure gate at a comfortable pace
  • keep some cash on hand or carry a credit card so you can pay for a flight if you need to
  • keep your carry-on bag very light 
  • wear comfortable shoes
  • keep a charged cell phone so you are in touch with family
  • if you need to rebook, try getting on a flight by the SAME airlines
And I did none of these!!!
I was flying from San Fransisco to Louisville with a hop-over at Chicago. 
I landed in Chicago O'Hare ORD airport at 3pm at Terminal 2 and I had to board my flight to Louisville at 3:55. The lady at the counter says, hurry, go to terminal1 gate B22. I have this humongous black bag. It is heavy and has no wheels. 
I scramble like mad for a good 15 minutes to B22. Oops I need to trace back to the restroom 
and huff back again......
crackle crackle ..... Passengers please note flight blah blah to Louisville is delayed. It will leave at 6pm. I need to warn my daughter who is waiting at Louisville airport, with two small kids in tow... and I have no cell phone.
errr lady, may I borrow your cell phone? Hello chinnu... My flight is delayed by 2 hours!

half hour later they tell us ...YOUR  flight captain has not reported to duty. The flight is CANCELLED! Crackle ... Please get to customer service. We regret the inconvenience....Ya right...
errr lady ... may I borrow your cell phone? hello chinnu

So I trudge to the customer desk. They offer me tickets on a 7pm flight to Lexington on American Eagle.. Yippee
errr lady ... may I borrow your cell phone? hey chinnu

So, I plod with the now double humongous bag ...  to G14 at terminal 3. It takes me a solid 22 minutes. It is now 6pm. American Eagle refuses to let me board the flight. They have no intimation or money transfer from United she tells me. Go back to the customer service at terminal 1.

My bag seems to now weigh a hundred kilos, my shoes a fifty, and my knees are jelly. But I need to reach before this flight takes off.... or I may not get a replacement ticket... I manage to reach customer service in B8.
Hi how r u today... Sorry about that. We have a last seat in the United 9pm flight. U r lucky!
ya right! 
errr lady ... may I borrow your cell phone? Aa.a... chinnu

This flight leaves from the other end of terminal 2. I am past thinking. and way beyond fatigue point. I drag my bag, my feet and my soul to F14. I plonk into a seat. And burst into silent wet tears.
This flight did take off. and I was in it.

So If you are travelling alone, and if you have a hop-over flight, do follow the pointers at the beginning of this blog post 
or else  !!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Reconnecting the wires

It is 3 weeks since I said hi to you.
Sorry, but hey, you know you are always in my thoughts. Thank you for being such a good friend.
For waiting patiently and giving me my space
For being ready to listen when I am ready to talk
For pinging me again and again ... even when I looked away

I have been tussling with my emotions
It all began with a most tiring chicago airport experience
I convinced myself that after that I was too tired to go for my walks
I switched off from my favourite hindi serials
and then from phone calls
and then from books and blogging
and from the news
And I watched myself slowly going into a state of depression

But hey, that is not a road I like to take
So I decided to jump myself out of it
I started by colouring some pages of my grandson's colouring book
I made lots of upittu!
I cleaned up the house... as if someone was visiting!
I vacuumed, refilled paper towel dispensers
I watched this and this and THIS too 
I played in the ipad
and finally today I made phone calls and am blogging too

suddenly I find that I have so many stories that I want to share with you
so many pictures that I want to upload
And my thoughts are out of the deep freeze and ready to thaw

Lots of wires connected to make these Christmas lights...

at the horse park, lexington, ky


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Two dimensional view

Everything around us has at the least three dimensions. Yet quite often we see only two dimensions.  Or sometimes only one!!
My grandson of four years is convinced that the best Christmas gift for his play home teacher is a toy car, for in his words ... Ajji i know Ms D likes playing with toy cars. She plays with us all the time!

Well, forty year olds are no different.
This happened a few months ago in Delhi. A gentleman escorted me to an office. We chose to travel by cycle-rickshaw. After we got dropped the gentleman paid the man ten rupees. The rickshaw puller asked him for five rupees more as we were two passengers with a heavy bag. The gentleman's response- Why are you asking for so much? You want to build a house or what!! makaan banana hai kya?? - implying that a rickshaw puller had to be just that ... A poor man with no ambitions. The rickshaw puller remained for my friend... Just two dimensions. 
We interact with doctors, teachers, bank officials, salesmen, colleagues...  Our interaction with them is for a single purpose. To be treated, or to be taught, or for comercial needs. When as a result of some break in conversation we are forced to see them as three dimensional, as people with their own hopes and fears, we suddenly sit back and take notice.
Or we reject this sudden imposition of the third dimension, and react illogically, like my friend.
It takes concerted effort to pull ourself out of stereotyped thinking, and stop 'slotting people'.

I came across an interesting speaker in TED.  Listen to this speaker. 


Friday, November 23, 2012


Today we had a thanksgiving dinner at home. Like every true american, we too invited our close family for a feast. The table was laid out in all grandeour. Vegetarian dinner was made with loving care and offered in sparkling glassware.

Our golden retriever also got all charged with the energy in the atmosphere. He was happy. He was playful and very very curious.

The shops offer discounts
Offices down shutters
Teenagers sit for a meal with aging members of the family
Handy lunch bags are purchased and dropped into donation boxes
One day set aside to say THANK YOU.

When one day is exclusively set aside for gratitude
And a whole nation observes the day
Mighty big things get done, in just one day.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

What are you good at?

This very question presupposes that we are good at somethings and not good at others.
Which means it is quite alright to be bad or dumb or slow-to-learn at some things.

But it takes a lot of strength to accept and agree when someone tells me...
I am bad or dumb or slow-to-learn at some things.
How much energy we spend in trying to convince ourselves that we do not need help in certain areas.... When we know we do.

Did i just go bluggblubwpqllt?
Here try this.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Wag, wag, wag and a woof

I was all prepared for it.
Two feet firmly on the ground, a strong wall to lean against, bags discarded on an empty chair
And here he comes
With a woof of delight
With his tails creating gusts of wind
With legs that are quivering in excitement
He comes at me ... Gently ... Giving the warmest welcome a person can receive.
I baby talk him, cuddle his heck and ruffle his back
But he is not done yet
Aithu... I tell him. All done. Let me meet the others too.
But no..... Mowgli the large golden retriever doesnot agree.
I look to my brother for translation of woof-talk. You forgot the belly rub.
Ooooo. I oblige... Sorry mowgli.
A look of tender satisfaction in his eyes, mowgli settles into his favourite sofa.

We have a lot to learn from him.
When he wants to say i love you. When he wants to say i need you. He says it with pride. He says it with confidence.
What makes us so apprehensive? We hide behind corrosive sarcasm or arid apathy.
We take rejection so seriously we do not give acceptance a chance?



Monday, November 19, 2012

The panic button

I am in chicago airport. I need to catch the connecting flight to sfo. Not much time left. All around me are so many people in so many shades of skin colour busy commuting within this vast airport. What is that rapid drum beat i hear? Oh...thats my heart! Its beating so hard i barely hear the sounds around me.
Then i say to myself. Hello. Stop. You can do this.
And the noise subsides. I am able to think.
I walk and walk and walk and reach the point at which i can board the shuttle that will take me gate C. The queue snakes all down the wee passage and half way down the aisle. A shuttle comes once in ten minutes and i miss two trips for there are way too many people.  My panic button is ready to trigger. I again say to myself. Hello. Stop.
There are two happy approachable ladies in the line ... Excuse me. What is the time in chicago pls? I have a 6pm flight to catch. They do not 'have the time'. But they are taking the 5.20 flight to LA.
Hey! If they are so cool. Why am i pressing the panic button?
Pressing the panic button has nothing to do with the gravity of the situation.

It is a habit. Some do it. Some dont.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Happy Children's Day

At one point of time I was the thinking-doing adult and I knew and interacted with a lot of children.
Today, most of the children I knew have children of their own. And I see that the children I knew have become fine thinking-doing adults.
I always had a stack of colourful books to jot down interesting lines from books, articles from magazines or random information.
today I have no books to dust.
At the click of the mouse ... change that to touch of a finger ... my laptop, my PC, my ipad brings me a world of information. So all I need to do now is bookmark the relevant pages! or send them into a personal cloud space! and the information is at my fingertips ... literally!
Does that change how and what we teach our children?
It does.
Help your child to learn to read. Private Schools in India have a loaded curriculum. Every book is a godsend. Help your child to master the skill of reading. When he is fifteen he will bless you for it.
Encourage your child to become familiar with the PC. That is the world he is growing into.
Take threat and bribe from your bag of child resources and throw them into the trash can. Find other means of getting the kid do what is correct. There are other ways. You may lose some hair (while you tear them out)... but there are!
Believe that he is the best behaved kid with a golden heart. And that is what he will be.

Listen to this wonderful speaker. Viktor Frankl suffered the concentration camp and lived to apply the wisdom acquired to help people face their psychological stresses. He has written a wonderful book - Man's search for meaning. You will find the online version of it here. 

And to you all
Happy Children's Day.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Papaya, and Peach, and Melon,

and Carrot and Tangerine, ... and Pumpkin, and Bittersweet are some explicit shades of Orange.
New York is reeling under the second storm ... this time a snow storm. The snow flakes speak to me of Christmas time and love. But my uncle in Boston says "that is only the first time you see snow... after that it reminds you of spade and gloves and skidding!!"
Here in Lexington it is getting colder. The bright sunshine is misleading. The chill winds bring the outside temperatures down to 4 degrees C. The walk from the door to the car is a short one, but the kids are swathed in extra thick jackets. I wave them a 'Bye, Have a happy day'... from the balcony and make a cup of hot coffee for myself.
I walk into my room ... and
My room is bathed in orange glow. A large tree outside my window has turned into two-hundred shades between red and yellow. And the sunlight filters through the leaves bringing in colour and warmth.

Colour ORANGE triggers memories.
Of watching the Orange Disc as he sank - behind distant hills in the Western Ghats, or - within black rooftops in Orlean, or - into the watery horizon at Baga Beach, or - among a thick line of trees on a dusty village road
Of the Delhi sky in July that takes on a distinct shade of orange and pink for some unclear scientific reason
Of the waters of the Yosemite lake that reflected the rusty hues of the fall season last year.
Of the mounds of chameli flowers that are seen in festive season on the sidewalks of mayur vihar.
Of the thirst quenching pitchers of TANG made on a summer afternoon.
Of the line of kanakambara (crossandra) plants heavy with those magical small flowers at my uncle's house in Banashankari.
Of the oil wick lamps in the small cave temple
Of Neil Harbisson who listens to colour!

Orange is the colour of warmth, energy and hope
It is also the colour of renunciation and wisdom as in the saffron robes of saints.
perhaps energy warmth and hope are the stepping stones to wisdom and peace?

The wise internet tells me - if you want a change in energy levels you can light an orange candle for 7 days.
that surely is worth a try?
er.....if nothing it will keep up the energy levels of the orange candle market?

myriad hues between red and yellow


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Doing the dirty dishes

As a young kid going to school I was told to decide what I wanted to be:
a) The kind that washed dishes..... or
b) The kind that sat back with a cup of curd
for those who know kannada ... musare thikkteeyo? mosaru thinnteeyo?
So when it was exam time I was petrified of getting low marks and falling into category (a). All endeavour was towards the cup of curd.

Childhood fears carry with us to adulthood and shape our lives for us. So I avoided like plague the risk of falling into category (a) and chose to fill my life with activities, strongly denying that washing dishes had anything to do with my life. And of course there was always a maid who came in twice a day to promptly do the dishes. 

Now I am in the developed country of USA. 
gaadi hai (big cars)
bangla hai (big house)
branded clothes
cut veggies
loaded fridge
heavenly baked stuff
strong internet
on demand movies
and last but not the least
You get flowing hot water ... to do your dishes. 
But hey, I am not type (a) .... remember?

that is the fun of a developed country. You fall into both categories. (a) and (b). 
And suddenly I realize there are really no categories..... just people.... and tasks to be done.
And the wife in the house-hunters episode matter-of-factly says - doing the dishes is his job (pointing to her husband)
back in India ... we wouldnt have said it ... even if ...someone did find a husband 'who does the dishes'.

but hey ... I still do not like doing the dishes.

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Picture on the Wall

There are a series of serious lectures by Virginia Woolf under the title A room of One's own wherein she says that that there are not more women writers for to write one needs a room and money..........
to my understanding ... Implying that women have less independence and more duties, to devote much time to creative writing.

A Room of her own by Chris Cassen Madden, is one of the books I have taken.  from the Lexington library. It has pictures of stuff I could drool over. Lovely arty collections, murals on walls, pottery. She says that every woman must claim a room or a space in a house as her own. She must decorate it with things she likes. That would give her peace, confidence and a perception of self-worth.

A large side table with an assortment of odd shaped urns and pebbles collected from river beds.
This here is a room corner boasting of cane stuff -2 chairs, a basket, a box, 4 containers, wall pieces, and a partition, all made of cane.
This over stuffed room has pictures, letters, cards, nest with eggs, horse-shoes, antique boxes, painted stones, a miniature chair and a sedate buddha!
This dainty pouch perches on the table tied with a string of beads .... oooh

I like the thought that a woman can claim a part of the house as her own. This thought is new to me.
Women in India are taught to be self-effacing.
Be strong within. Your beauty is within you.
You do not need material presence around you to make you happy or peaceful.
The entire house is yours. Why do you need a space for yourself?
This is what we grew up to believe.
In most Indian homes, the only space that one can really claim is a picture on the wall. Now nobody would bother to remove that picture!
Come to think of it... Perhaps the Indian woman claims the kitchen as her space. This is her claim to individuality and creation. And that is the cause of the perennial Saas-Bahu skirmish?

I am beginning to imagine. A space of my own.... to decorate and keep ... as goofy as I want it to be!


Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Library to learn from

My daughter dropped me at the local Eagle creek library, gave me her library card, and said enjoy. You can take up to 10 books at a time! Use the card and put them into my account. I will pick you again in 60 minutes. Kids will be in the car, I cannot leave them, so be ready in exactly 60 minutes from now.

Fine. I said. and walked into the heady aroma of books.

What an amazing place. The entrance is lined with colourful posters. Story-Reading, talk sessions, author visits, all planned library events.
There are rows and rows of audio and video CDs. Some can be taken for 3 days with no extra charge and some for 7. I choose carefully from the 7day section.
There are 15 laptops connected to internet that I can use. I do not use them.
Then there are BOOKs. A row of books with large print.  I think of my father, my uncle, my MIL. Book lovers who had/have to squint at small print books.
Mushy romance, wise self helps, colourful coffee tables' ... you name it. My arms wrap around the 6 books I have selected.

I walk smartly to the lady behind the counter, and we exchange some hi-how are you todays- and then she tells me blankly, use the check out counter over there.
Oops. clumsy me.
Now how the h--- do I use this thing?
A young help arrives, Florence Nightingale of the library, and guides me through the process. Its quite user friendly, swipe the library card
wait, let me fish it out of my purse
(patient silence)
That's good.... type in the password,
er ... I don't know the password
She suppresses a sigh
no problem, I can help you with that. Tell me some details about the card holder, (so we know you haven't stolen the card from her!)
OK, now we have the password, just swipe the card again, type the password...
Now scan the barcode pasted on the book.
No not that one, that is the price of the book printed by the publisher.
You've got to scan this one pasted on top of the book by the library...
Do that again for this book (...)
Would you like a printed receipt?
(I really dont know) well, OK. Yes please.
The receipt comes out here, on the side.
There you go. Press finish please.
ta-da you are ready to go.
I am thrilled at my success. And my Florence Nightingale throws a sweet smile and goes off (i think to have a reviving cup of coffee, au-latte)
The list of books you have taken comes to your email. and you get a reminder when limited time CD is due.
That Library is amazing
I want to use that self check out counter again.
ta da.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Which road are you on today?

My little grandson and I were playing with watercolours. This always ends in tears as his imagination is far superior to his skills in painting. What he paints leaves him feeling sad and inadequate.
So we played a game. 'Let us see what the brush wants to paint' - game.
Suddenly he was set free.
If the painting was bad, it was the brush that was being naughty!
He dipped the brush in bright crimson and started a thick line.
The line twisted and turned all over the page.
At the end of it he stood back and said 'hey! I have made an escalator! Look it goes all the way up ... and turns... and goes all the way up again .. and turns...'
We coloured many sheets after that.
and yes, sometimes the paint-brush was naughty and we could not guess what it wanted to draw.
at others we knew!
When we did know, we wrote our name on the page.
We made a car-on-car-on-car, we made a large sea shell, we made sponge-bob.

I see my life over the years. I see that when the paintbrush of Nature has been naughty leaving me confused I say not me. He did it. and I get angry.
When the paintings of life are good, I am happy to write my name on it. and say I did it!
But sometimes the paintings are bad and yet i say i did it........ that's when I feel really bad. That's when I weep.

Life is full of surprises and and serendipity. Being open to unexpected turns in the road is an important part of success. If you try to plan every step, you may miss those wonderful twists and turns. Just find your next adventure-do it well, enjoy it-and then, not now, think about what comes next.
Condoleeza Rice


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

An unknown island

Little water bodies are so well preserved here in this city of Lexington.
We drove to Keenland and neighbouring towns and I thoroughly enjoyed getting passing glimpses of crimson trees and vibrant islands.
My trip to an art and craft store helped me pick some art material.
I used watercolours to create this Autumn scene.

autumn colours
I have exaggerated the colours in the reflection. But to me, autumn is all about colour.


Fall colours in Kentucky

The small aircraft that brought me into Lexington from Chicago was barely full. The happy hostess sing songed Hi. How are you today? What can I serve you? and I chose coffee with sugar and cream please.
The captain soon interrupted with news that we were preparing to land.
As the airplane swirled a large loop in the sky and swooped down neatly into the runway I gasped.
What a vibrant carpet nature was planning to weave here.
The land was beginning to transform into a riot of oranges and reds and crimsons and yellows.

This is a season when suddenly OLD is good! The aging leaf is an enticing yellow or red or orange while the younger leaf is just boring green!

This is what every man wants
To age gracefully........and to hoard moments of glory when the end nears.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Maximus and fashion designing

Maximus has changed the way I dress!
I am as usual in a chiffon saree, the pallu flowing and the pleats gathered midway and tucked into the waist while I carry a bucket of water to the balcony to water plants.
and Maximus comes romping
wah he cool... a moving toy just waiting to be mouthed
and attacks my swaying pallu with gusto.
hey maxi I say, stop that...stop
and he promptly lets go
good boy Maxi
and before I can complete that he has rolled himself into the pleats of my saree
I bend low to free his paws from the thin chiffon material
and he is snapping at my long plait
hey Maxi ... stop that
and he looks at me with large liquid eyes
you have so many toys and you dont want me to play ... he says
and hides under his sofa
and sulks up at me from the corner of his eyes

so now chiffons are out and cottons are in
with the pallu tucked firmly into the waist
and the hair is in a staid knot.
all safe ...


Saturday, September 29, 2012

The yellow line

I stood behind a lot of yellow lines between 11pm on 27th sep and 11am on 27th sep !!
Ya you read that right. 11pm to 11am on 27th sep.

It (standing behind the yellow line) begins at the Delhi airport at the AI counter. I lug my heavy suitcase from the trolley on to the weighing belt and cross my fingers. Please make that a direct check-in to Lexington I say a little nervously. The AI personnel reminds me to collect the baggage at Chicago and do a re-check in as he prints out the two boarding passes I think...sadhya my bag has passed the 20kg test and I see it as it happily jaunts along the moving conveyor belt.
Then I stand behind the yellow line waiting to meet the personnel from the American consulate to OK my intended visit. After that its the security check yellow line. And then the yellow line at the immigration counters at Chicago.
We meet a lot of yellow lines at other moments in life...
When the teacher begins to distribute the question papers
When the receptionist smiles and says 'Sir, he will meet you now'
When the blushing 22 year old is about to tell her parents about him
When the sambar for 10 guests is ready and it is time to add the salt and stir.
There is a heady rush of anticipation.
It is Make or Break time.
Will it turn out OK?
We square our shoulders, tuck in the tummy, take a deep breath and surge ahead.
Life is all about these Yellow lines and the Determined Steps we take to cross them.
So which yellow line waits for you today?


Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Chicken or the egg?

A thought pops into your head ... a seemingly harmless guy ... you look at him while you are enjoying the cool breeze and sipping some tea ...and bang ... before you know it ... an emotion engulfs and overpowers you.

Meenakshi is on the single sofa making shoulder shaking sobs into a wide hand towel. She ignores her favourite soap. Did A propose to K at the swimming pool? She does not know. Today her mind is consumed by her husband's lack-of-love for her. Two days back she knew for sure. Today she is convinced ... he does not care for her. When Sumit shared that stupid joke about two drunks all her friends exchanged looks with their husbands. And where was Cheenu looking? at his camera! See today .. during breakfast ... He a-a-a-always looks up with a smile and says that I feed him too much...and today ...sob-sob... he just ate up the 3 dosas without a murmur and shot off to office...I told you ...sob sob

What do you think came first? the emotion or the thought? the horrifying behaviour of the hubby or the lingering sad thoughts?  the tears or the interpretation?  the chicken or the egg?

Here is what I think
Thought - leads to emotion - which leads to action - which leads to thought - to emotion - to action.
So it all begins with THINKING??

For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
says Hamlet.

All emotions anger, fear, helplessness, joy, jealousy, pride ... just all emotions rise from thoughts.
And all actions smile, sweat, walk, talk, gift wrapping, knee slapping...just all actions rise from emotions.

We just need to turn on positive thoughts, good thoughts and we turn on happiness.

and tell me ... who doesn't want to be happy?

Now who will tell Meenakshi?


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Big Belly

A big belly full of laughter and kindness.
Vinayaka Chaturthi
We the kannada smarthas believe that Gowri - Ishwara's spouse and Ganesha's mom - has come away to visit her parents. Ishwara unable to bear the separation sends Ganesha to fetch her back.
A wonderful tale of romance.
Every Kannada smartha home celebrates the arrival of Gowri at home.
This festival is specially dear to women. They pray for the happiness of their husband.
So yesterday was Gowri Habba. And today, on the fourth day of the bhadrapada masa, Ganesha arrives to take his mom home.
Of course Ganesh the energetic, witty, smart young boy, is a family favourite. So today is Ganesha habba. Yummy fried food, sweets and a large spread is cooked, served to him with love and then eaten with relish.

Ganesha blesses all. He has only love for all. Not a strain of anger in him. Though yes, he did once frown at the moon. But then the moon was too full of his beauty and laughed at our cute elephant headed - pot bellied - mouse rider!

So on this happy occasion of Ganesha Habba, wish you all a wonderful year. A big belly with lots of laughter.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Maximus - The sprinter

Our boxer has a sprint-route. He begins from under the sofa, races between the two layers of the centre table, skids to a halt, turns and races around the table, sprints between the legs of a three seater, and curves into the starting position ... under the single sofa.
He does this is a tearing hurry ... like something's on fire!
He does this route again and again...'and everyone please move out of the sprint route for he is going to knock you down!'
And no amount of Stop it Maxi is effective. For when he is so excited .... He cannot hear me at all!!
Perhaps you young moms out there can sympathize with me?

He looks like a deer when he runs.
His back arches up and the two front and hind legs meet. Then the front legs reach out to a great distance with the hind legs quickly catching up. So he arches and straightens and arches and straightens
He looks so beautiful.

We took him to Lodhi Garden. The large green, the strange smells, the birds, and the large plastic ball
Oh he had a happy sprinting time there!
er ... WE had a happy Maximus sprinting time!


Friday, September 14, 2012


Two types of brackets that we frequently see is
parentheses - He is a student (or so he says) of History.
square brackets - He is a student of history [American].

When you read the words contained in the first one, your voice drops to a whisper. This is almost like as aside. A secret. An after-thought. A naughty explanation.
When you read the words contained in the square brackets your voice is strong. It is an important explanatory information added while quoting a statement.

Your dream for yourself....

  • is it in parentheses? a whisper? an aside? a secret?
  • or is it in square brackets? strong? explanatory? real?
Where we go all depends on how confident we are of our dreams.
I like this line... that I borrow from Beth
Be yourself everyone else is taken


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Using but in a sentence

But is a conjunction. It joins two sentences
To begin a sentence with but is grammatically wrong.
Here are some nice proverbs that use BUT

  • Do not look where you fell BUT where you slipped
  • Don't make love at the garden gate, love is blind BUT neighbours aren't!
  • Everybody wants heaven BUT nobody wants to die.
  • It's nice to be important BUT it's more important to be nice.
  • It's only rock 'n' roll BUT I like it
But that does not mean I cannot begin with a BUT! Many writers have cheerfully ignored such rules!

Going strictly by rules of grammar it is not correct to say
But I do not have the patience ...
But I am scared of technology ...
But it is boring to sit and prepare a speech ...
But I am always harsh and curt ...

On the other hand, the right thing is to say is this.
I do not have the patience, but ...
I am scared of technology, but ...
It is boring to sit and prepare a speech, but ...
I am always harsh and curt, but ...
Hey, come to think of it, the conjunction BUT joins two sentences
and minds
and hearts
Miracle in my kitchen

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Miracle in my kitchen

Are you a fan of Spicy Oil laden Brinjal curry?
Cut up brinjal into thin long pieces. Load it into the deep dish with oil, palya pudi (spices), salt, hint of jaggery and grated copra. Stir and cover with a glass lid. Turn flame to low. The brinjal cooks in its own juices. yummm
And I settle with a book. A non-shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. It is called Remember Me? Story of a girl who forgets 3 years of life. During which time she has changed her looks, become rich and famous!!! Imagine...waking up and forgetting how you got to be rich and famous! So in the process of helping her regain her lost memory I forget about the brinjal curry on the gas stove in my kitchen.

There is a loud cracker burst. You remember? ... this means something..
Oops the BrinJAL ... I run into the kitchen. I gingerly take off the glass lid...I expect to see charred remains of should-have-been-yummy-brinjal-curry. but hey! The gas in the cylinder is over! and the brinjal is saved.

 Sometimes such miracles happen with the tongue too.
Something makes you hopping mad. You begin to say something harsh. Suddenly you stop. Your goodness takes charge. The gas is turned off. The tongue stops lashing. This is not a weak moment. This is a moment of super strength. For you have saved a heart. The heart is not charred.
A lashing tongue is for the weak.... For the strong, the silence says it all.

or so we hope...
Our Boxer - Ugly Pugli

Monday, September 10, 2012

Our Boxer - The Ugly Pugli

That is true.
Our Maximus is ugly and a little pugli...crazy too. When we brought him home he was a dark tiny thing. And looked like a huge rat! A very dark face, dark brown body with deep black lines and just a hint of white socks. He doesn't look like that anymore. More a cross between a reptile and a monkey.

When he was 6 weeks and stronger we took him down for a walk in the apartment. Yayy we have joined the elite crowd that holds a leash and a green bag to pick poop. And a kid and then a man who walked into the lift ask .. yeh kya hai? What is this... !!! oops a pup hey!

We have a long mirror as a decor in a passage. One brave day he ventured into this space. And he saw himself in the mirror. He froze. Whaaaat? he seemed to ponder. His reflection so petrified he ran!! Save me

He is almost house trained but he has emergencies! So when he pees in the hall he approaches cautiously and sniffs it. Then you should see him recoiling and backing away! yooaawah! it's hilarious.

We have a single sofa kept in a corner of the hall. He thinks this is a fort. And specifically the place under the sofa is inaccessible to all. So when he steals a newspaper sheet, or pushes the remote off the table or gets a strange sniff he runs into this safe haven. "I am under the sofa. You can't see me."

He has big flappy ears. And they go flap flop when he runs, moves, jumps... Very often one or the other ear has turned up exposing a pink inner ear. Our Flappy-Ear looks funny with a black nose, brown face and one pink ear!

I sing to him. He looks up at me, dips his head one one side, and then dips his head on the other side. His eyes are wide pools. He gives a sudden frightened yelp and runs to his safe have under the sofa.
Told you
Ugly pugli boxer.

What next

Friday, September 7, 2012

What next

Varun is five. He is a sharp and happy kid. He came home with his parents. After a noisy oh so cute. Is this your son? How big he has grown. Come Come. Please sit down. Madan, I think we are meeting for the first time na? Please sit down. etc. etc.
Anita took out a large notepad and some crayons from her bag. Here Varun, colour this dear. She said.
Varun is busy with colours while we catch up on 3 years.
Varun is back. Mama, colouring over. What shall I do now?
Anita fishes out a jigzaw from her bag. Varun's eyes light up. Mickey! he says. and goes about solving the puzzle with single minded concentration.
A tray loaded with special eats settles on the centre table. Varun polishes off two homemade cookies and looks at Anita. Now what? He asks.
Anita fetches two small cars from her bag. (Wow for Anita!! )
Varun takes them and zooms around the hall.
But for how long? Soon he tires and comes back. ... What next?
I kind of lose my patience. Anita has been so thoughtful. Has brought so much entertainment. Time for Varun to reciprocate. Right?
So I tell him a tide firmly - Varun, toys all done. Just play by yourself OK?
Varun looks at Anita. Mama can I do that? Can I just play?
Anita is surprised. Yes Varun. Play.
Varun is happy to explore our stairway, he peers at our picture panel, he goes into our small garden space.
Anita is worried. Is he OK? Is he bored?

Sometimes it is good to be bored. It makes us more creative.
The subject line 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The subject line

When I am writing official emails it is so easy to fill in that space reserved for subject.
Project BG2/44 or Science Today bk 3
and i'm done
The problem begins when I am writing a friendly hi-how-are-you email.
i take 2 minutes to write the mail, half a second to fill in the email ID
and then i hover over the subject line
shall i just write hi or hello
naa that looks so like a spam mail
shall i say september
whaat ... like i write only one mail every month??
maybe i will say, onam wish
that gives it away... right? the entire mail is all about that anyway

It's like rearranging the wardrobe and agonizing over where to keep the hankies.
It's like doing the gift wrapping and agonizing over where to stick the card.
Little things take up bigger space?
Do you think this also fits into the eighty twenty rule? 80% of the writing is done in 20% of the time?
or have i got it all wrong?


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Just men talking!

I was reading Eric Berne's Transactional Analysis (TA) in his book Games People Play. And recalled something I had read long back. A book called I'm OK you're OK by Harris.
Berne talks in detail about the Parent, Child and Adult hidden within us. Understanding the hidden PAC helps us transact interactions with people around us. And when communications fail we may still tear our hair and wail. But we would know if it was the Child in us that is reacting or the Parent. And in Adult mode we could sit back, analyse, ... and if so desire...continue to tear hair.

But I also happened to watch a movie with a the terrific use of TA in the movie. Have you watched 12 Angry Men? We did. And we were glued to it the entire time. It all happens in a closed room. They are the jury for a murder trial. They have to give an all consensus verdict of guilty or not-guilty. The movie begins with 11 saying GUILTY and one man adamantly sticking to a NOT-GUILTY verdict and making them late for a baseball match! Watch the movie for an intriguing interplay of emotions, prejudices and even a nonchalant attitude to task on hand...
a guaranteed must watch! here is a link for 12 angry men if you wish to watch it online.
You could read just the script too. But when you read the script you realize how much more the director and the actors have added to make this a memorable experience.

Like Eric Berne says in his Transactional Analysis
words form a mere 7% of the communication
the remaining is composed of facial expression, pause, grimace, body language etc
Have you seen, sometimes a person says something
and you feel irritated, or hurt or depressed
and when you confront the person
he says, whaaat, i only said ---
well it's not just the words ... it's the way it was said .. the inflection, the tone, the raised eyebrow...
but how do you tell them now?
the moment and the expression are all gone.
only the hurt remains.
when men talk they say a lot more than mere words....

Our boxer is a thinker

Monday, September 3, 2012

Our boxer is a thinker

Our Brindle Boxer is a CEO.
We offer our boxer pup an old plank, a wooden stool and guaranteed-to-work "teething toys". Huh! He gives them all a royal ignore. And goes with marked determination to the carved legs of the ANTIQUE STUFFED CHAIR. Noooo Maxi... Not thaaat one.
Come here Maxi
Any important issue at hand and he SINKS HIS TEETH into it. Nothing can tear him away from today's newspaper till he has it all under his jaws. Hey take the newspaper off the sofa..
.he is coming...he is coming.
Our Maxi is good at MULTI-TASKING. He has just begun attacking the pink furry chicken when a green ball rolls into view. In  flash he races to the green ball. But the pink chicken beckons too. So he darts back again. oooh
how much can a man possibly do...
He reads the mind of the OPPONENT. I play catch the paper ball with him. I trick him by pretending to fling it without actually doing so. He falls for the trick twice. Soon he catches on. Now he waits till the paper ball is actually flying through the air!
But I think he is often late to an important DISCUSSION TABLE. For we see him racing down the hallway and the passage twice before settling into the glass centre table. The centre table is made of two glass sheets and he likes to curl up between them.
At 12 noon he sits up where he is and raises his eyes at me. IS MY LUNCH READY? Yes sir, I say and give him his lunch. Our Brindle Boxer is not the one to rush in and topple over the lunch bowl. He waits sedately till the bowl is in place and walks up to it regally. Looks around and has his meal in peace.
It's what's the rush...
Our Brindle Boxer pup is our Cute Energetic Obsession.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Open windows and open minds

If you meet someone
If a question is asked
If a book comes into your hand
If you happen to read a forward
There is a purpose in it.

What's the point of talking to person, reading a book, listening to a TED talk if all the while I am thinking
You don't look too smart
I know this.
I've heard that before.
The same thing happened to me.
Waste of time.

Let me open that window. The breeze however slight - refreshes!


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Its crooked but it's neat?

An ashtotra is a list of 108 names for the chosen Lord. I am chanting the Vinayaka ashtotra. 
I see that the sages have lovingly inserted names like
The Single tusked one
The one with a pot belly
One with pointed ears
One who rides on a mouse

It's like saying. I know you are at times silly, and at times quite strange.
Well, I have my quirks too. I like you with all your quirks.
So help me Lord ...
To like me with all my quirks. 
To like people with all their quirks.

tedha hai par mera hai ... eh?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Our boxer's eyes

Our BOXER wears a coat of dark brown with open lapels, a spotless white shirt underneath and matching white socks.
He sits with his head up, his large brown eyes look back into mine. His eyes glow in complete faith's almost spiritual! Makes me feel ... er ... Hello..I am not thaaat good.
I am on the sofa with a book and I see a wicked glint in his eyes. Before I can react he has an edge of my sari in a tight jaw-clench. He gives it a hard tug ... and I go No maxiii no ... trying desperately to be stern.
He has a favourite toy. Our boy ignores the squeaky ducks and chicks and goes ardently at the cardboard roll from a used tissue pack.
I play peek-a-boo with the cardboard and his eyes dart here and there. Waiting to pounce on it.
And when I finally throw it at a distance, his eyes sparkle as he races towards it.
The cardboard rolls away at a mere touch. Our boy thinks the cardboard-roll attacks! So he retreats, crouches low, narrows his eyes and aims at it.... A surprise pounce-attack! ... and this time the cardboard cannot get away. It is held in a firm grip between the paws!
To tease him S makes the growling noises of an adult dog. Poor Maxi is petrified. His eyes cloud and he seeks refuge behind S's legs.
His green ball is under the low glass table. He pounces on to the table but cannot get the ball! The look of confusion in his eyes is so hilarious.

But today I don't see any of this. His gums are hurting. He is teething. His eyes have an empty look. He prefers to sleep quietly in his space. The vet says he will be fine. Just allow him to sleep.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Rear right turn signal is blinking

A blinking rear right turn signal in the car in front of you is a commitment. This means the car turns right.
cars on the road

Commitment and Conviction - A commitment is a decision expressed today, that promises action in the future. A commitment ensures predictability. A conviction is an unshakable belief in something without need for proof. An opinion.

All is fine when commitment made and conviction held, lead me down the same path. But with me, sometimes commitment says aage se right and conviction says aage se left. Does that happen with you too? Imagine this:

  • You buy matinee tickets but later learn that the movie is a yawn or maybe a gory horror. 
  • You offer to drive your aunt to her cousin's house but later you suspect there is a problem with your car.
  • You have paid for a course in accountancy but half way through you realize that accountancy is not your calling.

Should you go ahead and complete what you began? Or should you break that commitment made? Should you suffer 3 hours of the movie just because money has been spent on it? I think it is OK to opt out and do 'something else' as long as there is a definite 'something else' lined up. Only opting out should not result in inaction.
Go ahead and waste that movie ticket if you choose instead to take your kids to the zoo.
Go ahead and cancel that drive with aunt if you can rent her favourite movie and watch it with her.
Go ahead and discontinue that course if you know what you wish to learn instead....and learn that.

But do keep a tab on how often the tail lights of your car blink right turn ... and you turn left!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sweat that small stuff

A small sized bakery store - and a lesson in living
There is a small bakery in RR Nagar of Bangalore. He makes the most delicious palya-buns.

It is evening. There is a slight drizzle. The weather is just right for hot palya-buns and tea. What do you say? My sister and I nod together in total agreement and step over shallow puddles to the bakery.
Two palya buns, we say.
A speeding car screeches to a halt right behind us. A perfumed young lady, with a swaying handbag rushes to the bakery ... 7 palya buns and 200g benne-biscuit she says ... tapping on the glass counter impatiently.
She is in a hurry.
We are annoyed. But we don't mind waiting. This is a big order for the bakery.
The man picks up a paper bag.
Bega...Quickly ... the lady drums on the glass counter ... 7 palya buns and 200g benne-biscuit she repeats.
The man gently places two palya buns into the paper bag. Seals it with scotch-tape. And hands it over to us.
The lady is seeing red. Are you mad? She asks. Pack my order first.
We give him a hundred rupee note. The man ignores her completely. And counts out our change.
The lady swirls and walks away in disgust.
When he hands the change we tell him, the lady walked away in a huff. you lost a big order. We would have waited. We are in no hurry.

The man says: This is my bakery. You come first. I serve you first. I lose an order. No worry. I lose my dharma... I worry!
Madam, he explains. Your order for 2 buns is as important for you as her order of 7 buns is for her. For me all customers are important. She came after you. She must wait her turn.
Wah! What amazing business ethics.
And what amazing spirituality in business.

I suppose it is this accuracy to doing things the right-way, that makes his bakery products so tasty too.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Our boxer - first impression

Yesterday we brought home a 2 month brindle boxer, to be a member of our household. We ooohed and aaahed around him. Clicked a lot of pictures and clucked at his antics.
And reeled at his first smelly outburst.
The hard reality of having to potty train him hit us. We stay on the 14th floor of an apartment complex. So picture this: we are carrying him waiting for the lift, then we are holding him in the lift as it trundles to level-0, then we take him to the safe potty area.... accident can happen at any moment!! We are pondering over this situation and ...

Our stud yelps at us.
Oh! so cute. He wants attention... we drool.
So we sit on the floor with him and pass to&fro a paper ball that he chases with frenzy.

Again he yelps.
Now what? you are thirsty? we offer him more water
He laps it up and jumps around the hall. We laugh and clown around with him.

The guy yelps again.
We say okay. Cool off ... and the guy goes into a stance and relieves himself in a dark pile ... on the hall floor.

Yeow!... hey bhagwan! How do we potty train him? How will we know? We make a frantic phone call to the Pet Shop where we got the boxer. Kya saab. He says. You made him go in the house? Just take him out twice a day after his meal. He is potty trained. ...!!!

All the time our Maximus was thinking: Woof take me out. Oh you want to play? Okay. Woof take me out. Oh you are busy? Okay. Woof take me out. Well! never mind. Hall is OK if you insist. duh, funny people.
our brindle boxer pup

I was never a fan of even a neighbour's pup. And today I have a pup at home!
Now that I am drenched I have no fear of rain. Where is the poop bag?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Satyanarayana Puja

Satyanarayana Puja is performed as thanksgiving and beginning of a new dream. A wedding, a house warming, a special birthday, son completes education, entrance to an MS course in the US ... are new beginnings and hence occasions for  Satyanaraya Puja. Very much a Kannada Smartha celebration too.

Preparations begin days in advance. The Lord gets a specially designated and adorned place. Silverware comes out in all its glittery finesse. A kalasha on a silver plate filled with rice, represents Lord Vishnu. Jasmines, roses, dahlias and the over-powering sampige flowers fill up baskets. Fruits and coconuts are in abundance. Cooks come in the previous night. and the enticing aroma of sweets and spices pervade.
A purohit helps the couple perform the rituals.  The couple are sweaty in their new silks ... (and the fans are off for the diya-flame will flicker).
Friends and family pour into the house. There is chatter and movement and an anticipation of a full spread in a banana-leaf meal.The purohit continues through all the din with determined concentration and the couple complete the rituals in serious attention. A vigilant grandma watches out for any omissions on the part of the purohit or the couple!
An important part of this fulfilling day is the special prasad. Sapaada Bhakshya contains 5 elements perhaps to represent the 5 elements for life on earth?
Recipe - Sapaada-Bhakshya
Sooji - fine rava - 2 cups
Sugar - 2 cups
Ghee - 1 cup
Milk - 2 cups
Banana ripe - 5
Optional - raisins, elaichi powder, kesari
  • Cut banana to thin slices. Boil milk.
  • Roast rava with 2 tablespoons ghee. Add raisins to rava while roasting.
  • Pour in hot milk and cook over very low flame.
  • Add sugar, banana and ghee. Cook over low flame turning constantly.
  • Add flavours cover, take off flame and allow to cool. 
  • Take small handfull and roll into lemon size ball. The prasad is served as small balls. 
I attend a Satyanarayana Puja in my friend's house in Delhi. What a contrast! 
During the puja there is only close family and a few of us close friends... maybe just 10 in all. We are invited to sit around the havan and offer prayers along with the family. The puja takes 20 minutes. The purohit ties threads of blessing on wrists of whoever is interested. This is followed by a simple lunch.
kachori, poori, sooji halwa, two vegetable side dishes and a salad
And that's it.
Somehow for me, this puja made more sense. There is less fanfare and more love and relaxation. What a contrast to the tension ridden affairs of Bangalore!

Puja and Party
Are we mistaking one for the other? 


Saturday, August 11, 2012

The rebellious youngster

It's the 70s
I am cutting a kilo of veggies for the evening meal in the kitchen.The family and visiting cousins are in the hall. I hear laughter and chatter. I do the shocker. I lug veggies, cutting board and all and plonk myself where all the action is.
She has brought kitchen work into the hall... they laugh.
It was so easy to be different.

But look at youngsters today who take all the trouble to get
pants that almost slip off the hip
hair streaked in different colours
eyebrows pierced
and body tattoos
so as to be different, and find to their horror that they are really mainstream! (and then they go and suffer getting all that tattoo removed!!!)

Is it getting more and more difficult to be a rebel?
Imagine the plight of the adolescents of tomorrow ... if being a rebel is mainstream...
They would have to do something different ... and not rebel...

and the moms and dads of tomorrow will wail ... why can't my son shout and bang doors and walk out in a huff ... like normal teenagers of our time??!!


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thanks to that loud bang ...

I was browsing through old photos and was lost in a train of sad thoughts when all of a sudden
the doors of the house upstairs banged shut
jerking me out of my thoughts

I got up with a purposeful jump, and set about house chores ...
and since I am not on any action that requires concentration ... my mind is jogging along at its own pace.
There is a huge gust of wind and the curtains knock down some cups ... harmlessly ... but what a clatter! And I ask myself ... hey when did that thought creep in? yes, the clatter plummets me into better action.

And so I am surfing the TV
..."thum kya dikhaoge? yeh? kwiku kwiku kwiku" goes my favourite Yatra ad
I pause to watch and slowly my mind drifts away
till a quarrelsome squirrel scolds me ...Kweeukweeukweeu... at my window
jerking me back from my mind's meander

The Universe conspires to keep me happy
The Universe conspires to jerk me away from negative thoughts

So friends when
a door bangs shut, a car honks, you drop something, an animal scurries past or the cell phone beeps
don't scowl!
Pay attention to the conversation in your head. The Universe is warning you like your digital navigator ... "You missed the turn. Steer to the right and take a U-turn"
aaah...back on track!


Monday, August 6, 2012

Ten things to do before sunset

Though we are constantly aware of Death, a visit from HIM is always a surprise. The loss of a loved one is unbearable and the turmoil in the thoughts of close family and friends can only be endured not explained.
But, life must go on. And an important part of life are the assets of the loved one who has moved on.
It is a huge blessing when the finances are in order and the assets easily managed.

I have seen a lot of wonderful families fall apart in pathetic disharmony just because death came before the person was ready for it.
Sometimes the families are in complete harmony but the legalities take a heavy toll of time and effort.

imagine this
sons in their 50s struggle with legalities as there is no will
wife cannot access the laptop as she does not know the password
husband has no clue there is a bank locker with gold jewellery in it
children do not know the account number of their single parent's bank accounts
dad's closest friend is not informed as no one knows his name

So here are ten things you need to do before sunset
  1. If you have immovable property, make a will. Register it with a tax consultant or a legal representative. If advisable, discuss it with your children. Preferably leave property to your spouse. Tell the family you have written a will and who it is with.  Redo the will every time you buy or sell immovable property.
  2. Ensure that bank accounts and fixed deposits are in the joint name with your spouse.
  3. If bank accounts or term deposits are in a single name, ensure that you have assigned a nominee for every single bank account and term deposit separately. Keep a hard copy of every term deposit you have made.
  4. If you have mutual funds/investments ensure that you name a nominee for every bond.
  5. If you have a bank locker, fill in the nominee form for the same. You can have multiple nominees for the locker. Inform your spouse or child about the locker.  Keep the key in a place that your spouse knows about.
  6. If you have a loan, insure your life to the amount so that the spouse and family are protected in case of need. Assign the premium payments to ECS facility at your bank so that the account is healthy and valid. Be sure to spell the nominee name as it is in their bank accounts.
  7. If you believe in eye donation etc, keep posters or badges at home that say so.
  8. If you have medical insurance keep it paid up and updated. Keep the card at a place that is easily accessible in time of need.
  9. Mail the following to yourself and your spouse (or any other reliable friend or relative)
    • scans of passport, pan card, driver's license,  IDs
    • important phone numbers and email IDs
    • contact details of most trusted friends
  10. Make a bucket list. Give ten minutes of exclusive attention to your loved ones. Laugh.
Take care of your loved ones, so they remain loved long after you. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cardiac symptoms we tend to ignore

The doctors can revive a failing heart, they can detect a murmur in the heart,
there are pacemakers to help the heart keep up the beat and
able surgeons use various techniques to help us live better, longer.
but the most important part of all this
is that we need to go to the doctor
in time
well yes, I do believe that Life and Death are beyond the control of man
yet I suggest that if a loved one has more than 3 of these symptoms at the same time ... do consult a cardiac specialist ... for a routine check up. We did not, and paid dearly for it.
These are symptoms...some the doctors suggested i put in... some i notice in hind-sight.

  • hands and feet exceptionally dry (we attributed it to the delhi winter)
  • stomach upset (we attributed it to eating out)
  • serious demeanor, not feel like talking (we attributed it to an important professional assignment) 
  • exceptional deep slumber at night (surely nothing to complain about?)
  • a general apathy or disinterest in whats happening around 
  • loss of weight 
  • avoid going for the walks/workouts/meets that one is used to
  • an unusual sense of confusion 

If you find more than 3 of these ...  go for a routine cardiac check up.
Have a great life.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

What you do

No matter how hard you think
You are ... what you do
I am an organised person. I pride myself about being a supermom, going about my career, my family and my neighbourhood activities with aplomb.
until one day
I go shopping with a lady. While in the shop my cell phone begins to ring. I dig my hand into 'its place' in my hand-bag. But it's NOT there...
The cell phone's ring...rinnng....rinnnggg......gets louder
I dig into another part of the bag
and another
and another
meanwhile everyone is looking at me. and the phone just continues to pierce the silence.
and finally
i find the cell phone. its hidden below the coin pouch and the credit card holder.
the call is from a mobile service provider...asking me if i want to change to his service
duh...why would i want to??
after a few minutes of silence. my friend looks at me and says
ratna, please dont mind. but you should be more organised. keep the cell phone in a specific place. so you dont have to search for it.

i go red. i get terribly angry.
then i calm down.
I may think a thousand generous thoughts, I may like being organised, I may adore and value relationships
but what others see are not my thoughts. they see me by what I DO.
Their perception of me, is so different from, my perception of me!!

A person is known by what he DOES not by what he THINKS.
read about some amazing people of action here at Good News India

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A paint brush challenge

will you join me in some fun activity?
here is what we do
take a sheet of paper
take some water colours
a nice wet brush
and paint.

you do not necessarily have to draw two mountains and a river!
in fact, you don't need to draw at all...
let the paint and the brush have their say.
some washes of colour?
some splashes and blobs?

take a pic of your painting
or scan it
and send it to me at

i will make a collage and post it here.
the collage will appear on 2 july 2012

so what say - let some emotions flow?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Mid week luxury

If Sunday is the first day of the week then how come saturday and sunday is weekend?
so we begin the week from its end?
or do we end the week at its beginning?
that's funny!

OK, guess what I did yesterday!
I had cereal
and slept
I had curd-rice with lemon pickle for lunch
and slept
i got up in time for the 4:30 tea. had it with biscuits. (Suffered) the maid while she did her work
and slept

but i experimented with pasta for dinner. and made some awesome pasta too! A first time for me.
marathon sleep
and pasta

what's the most decadent thing you did? or the most luxurious? or the most relaxing?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Choosing the Best

We take our grandson to Chuck-e-cheese in Lexington. We have won some coupons and he gets to choose a gift. There are tiger masks, attractive building blocks, puzzles,  large beads and what not. Our little boy places a finger at a 3 inch plastic blue car. I want that he says. We try to distract him with other 'BETTER' things. But he is determined. So we save most of the coupons and get him his plastic blue car.

We visit the super bazaar in Gurgaon. I am looking for rice. Plain rice to go with sambar and saaru. The helpful assistant tries to tempt me with umpteen options of Basmati rice. This has very good aroma, this one cooks in 12 minutes, this is special long grain ....   Arre baba, please! I dont wan't Basmati. I just want plain rice. But ma'am, he looks at me, pained, We offer the best. This is BEST rice.

The best?
Doesn't that depend on what I want.
The BEST varies with every person and every need.
Before we join the bandwagon let's get in tune with what is BEST for us ... in the given situation.
and go with that choice. Then there are no regrets.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Jaya by Devdutt Pattanaik

Jaya - an illustrated retelling of the Mahabharata 
by Devdutt Pattanaik

How well do you know your Mahabharata?
The basic story?
Some popular anecdotes?
The whole works?

A cousin from Mysore came to spend a few days with me. We hop on to a metro and explore our part of Delhi. And at this book store she tells me, you must pick up this book on the Mahabharata... gift from me. she says.
I squint my eyes at her. Seriously? One more Mahabharata? aaah
But we go on and buy it. Now that we have shifted and sort of settled down. I begin to read the book.

You know how it is when close family has a chat. You can sail from Meena's flashy new sari, to Naren chachu's inconclusive bride hunting, to Pannu's pakora fiasco and Jaji's jasmine garden of the 80s and everyone is in total sync. for they have experienced it all. and know the connections.

Devdutt knows the Mahabharata like that. He sits down at the courtyard to watch the princes throw dice, he takes a stroll with Krishna as he discusses strategy, he watches Kunti helplessly hold baby Karna in her arms, and reaches out to Duryodhana as he trips into the water-pond.

If you know the stories of the Mahabharata, then you must buy this one. It takes you from one story to next, breathlessly weaving in connections and analogies. And you gasp and say O ya .... hey I had never thought of that.
And the line drawings are endearing. You can see the love that Devdutt has for his subject by his drawings.
I like this one.
it's re-a-l goood.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sufficiently efficient

We move into this new location in Delhi in the hot summer month of June. We have 5 air-conditioners to be fitted. We are frantic and sweaty.
The AC guy comes with a black tool kit. He takes note of the ACs and counts off the 5 rooms into which they are to go. He peers into the ACs and shakes his head, like a worried headmaster. Service karna padega. They are dirty. they need service. OK do it. we say.

He takes the one window AC into the bathroom. Half and hour later we look for him. Where is he?
He is still with that one AC. Going into every curve and crevice with a fine toothbrush that he has attached to a thin wooden rod. The AC is shining. clean and happy. cleaner than it was even in the factory it came from!
we are impressed.

Two hours sail by. He is with the third AC. Why don't you fit in one AC? Let all ACs get service. Then all ACs get fixed. He says firmly, as if to an 'unreasonable demand of an impatient kid'. I don't want to mess with his feelings. he is doing a fantastic job. By 7 in the evening Our wallet come out. And notes get counted. Kaam ho gaya? Job done? we ask. ready to pay and send!

He ignores us. He walks up to the ACs with a clean cloth and wipes off marks that he has left while fixing it. In true spirit of the Japanese ACs he has come to fit. aaah! OK. done? we ask and open the wallet again.

He traces steps to the hall. He re-positions the stabilizer. snap! the wire link is off. So he connects  it again. and wipes it clean. Now are you done? the wallet is open again.

He almost has his hand out. But no. He remembers that he has left the bathrooms messy. He asks for a broom and cleans up the mess. Ooof! this is way too much efficiency. NOW are you done?

He marches off to the various rooms where he has left the ACs on. Come saab. See the ACs working. He says and diligently turns them all off again... keeping the remotes securely in place. Aaaaah! now he is overdoing it. OK GO! Thank you we tell him. and open the wallet

He stands erect for the first time. Looks up and says... What ever we do, we must do well. Kaam saaf hona chahiye. Our work must be clean and good.

I ponder over my feelings. I admire his commitment. But I am not willing to give him the time. If a job has to be done well, it demands that much time and attention.
How do we reach that optimum point of sufficiently efficient?

  • economy of time 
  • coupled with perfect completion.


Friday, June 8, 2012

The purpose of life

I now wonder
what is the purpose of my life?

life is like a game of 4corners
during the school years,
friends, teachers, books and family make the 4corners (in decreasing order of importance?) ... and the day whizzes by as you race between them.

Then there is marriage
spouse and profession and kids and social circles scramble for attention. So grihast-ashrama (family life) consumes our thoughts and days

Suddenly the day you have been dreaming of arrives all too soon. And the kids leave home for marriage or study or work. Leaving a twosome at home.

Aaaaah! you scream. The house is large, persons only two, but you keep tripping over each other!
and then a vigour sets in...
to relearn each other
to explore new horizons
still the fact is, ... that we do most things
to please each other or
to irritate each other or
to impress each other

and suddenly the only pillar that mattered in life-game of 4corners goes away.
and I now wonder
what now is the purpose of my life?
everything has a reason they say, what then is the meaning or reason of this aloneness?
Have I a job that the Universe has marked for me?
That I am yet to discover?

I hope so. For every life must have a purpose.

Monday, May 28, 2012

we did not see it coming

the tests all show Normal
or nil
or none

no BP ... no sugar ... no cholesterol ... even the lipid profile - says nil and normal
he was not on any medication for any ailment. took the recommended 45 minute walks everyday. spent 20 minutes on the exercise-cycle 4 times a week. was a contented family man, happy to be professionally busy
yet he was snatched away from us at 63.with no time for even a goodbye.
under the very eyes of the cardiac specialist. on his way back from a busy day at court.
it is a massive cardiac arrest ma'am, they tell me. sorry.

what a fine way to go
they tell me
no pain
no suffering

perhaps the time of birth and death are predetermined?
what we do is to improve the quality of our life?
all our struggle, is to make the best use of the time given to us?

if our longevity is measured by the way we live our life
and not by the number of years we live
i could safely say
he lived to be 100