Friday, March 28, 2014

The Garden of Life

We are grateful for being one of the few people in Mumbai who have a good garden close by. Considering the encroachment of open spaces (both geographically and mentally), I feel really blessed having a nice garden where we go for walks, nevertheless we being the  regularly irregular types!

The garden to me seems to be a melting point of all ages, apart from being a meeting point for many culturally different people. It is with keen eyes and inquisitive mind I see young school children (really young) and college girls and guys dating. Sometimes children in school uniforms too and I wonder how the parents would react to this scene. So much of trust (and money) invested in children, going down the drain - rather taking a walk!

Some married people walk miles apart and the discord is obvious, whereas someone who is sitting alone on a bench thinks of life "if they had someone".  Some feel lonely being together and some look happy even though alone. The various games our mind makes us play!

It's not far away that you see a group of middle aged men and women train on physical fitness by personal trainers and the zest for being fit is surely infectious. Another group of laughter club consists of people post fifties who force themselves to chuckle - albeit a great therapy. It is like all of us looking back at life when we are old and grin at all the things that have happened - positive and negative! What better way to look at the past than with the lens of laughter.I am already beginning to make a list of events in my life that need that kind of guffawing laugh :)
Clock is ticking away

Observing over days I find a few old men and women may be in their late seventies who are in the park - no matter what time of the day. It is very obvious they spend most of their time here after the regular walk. Horror stories of children not wanting parents or parents choosing to stay out as much as possible, to avoid going home come to my mind and I feel a pang deep inside. The glorious days of being the head of the family soon gives way to the sun down days of waiting for the clock to tick away soon.

Hope is renewed seeing a newly born baby being entertained by the doting mother (more often a maid these days). A child in many ways represents hope and future unfolding. Human being's attraction to the future is one of the best kept secrets of life. What keeps us going is the hope for a better future, no matter not many vouch having experienced a greater future but always think of "the good-ol days".

The various stages of a human life are seen in the garden, if only we identify ourselves with every other person around, the stories are all the same. Some a shade better, some with grey areas but the general story in the garden of life is all the same. Yet all of us feel unique and that's the beauty!

Friday, November 8, 2013

A precious gift

It is rarely that you meet someone who has a 'No gifts policy' as a permanent feature in life. I was fortunate to encounter a person (that too a lady!) recently who has vowed never to take gifts. Amused, as I was was, the more I think about it, the more sensible it seems. Having lived in a society where each one of us is forever curious to know "what we will get" or "what have we got" and most importantly "what the others have got versus what's in my kitty", meeting a lady who unabashedly refuses gifts as a 'vow' seemed quite novel to me. 

Coming to think of it, what we give or what we receive is a direct translation of "How much money is someone worth?". Very rarely do we meet someone, who is happy to receive a gift that may be as simple a thing like a flower plucked from a garden! We seem to have a tendency to weigh our worth based on money, rather than the thought behind it.

My mother for one may have spent a tenth of her life, in picking gifts for all and sundry but apart from the occasional appreciation from the domestic help or the flower seller no one has ever appreciated the gift as well as the thought behind it (including your's truly!) Nevertheless come Dasserah or Diwali or birthdays she always has something ready for all of us, like it or not :). It does not matter to her that many a times all she gets back is unhappy faces or stinging words on 'how terrible the gift is', all she is interested in giving as a gesture from the heart and not really the economic or aesthetic value attached to it.

With our kind of social upbringing I wonder if we have contributed to a growing culture where we give not because we love to, or want to, but because we want to receive in return! Is gifting not any more about 'the heart' but an expectation deeply seeded in many of us? Then how is it a gift? It's just a barter system of exchanging 'x' amount of money garbed in the form of some material!

All this and more makes me seriously conclude that the best form of gift is something  you give in which there is no calculation of 'return value' and the only thing that fits in to this category is giving your TIME to someone.  When you give your time, you are actually giving a part of your life which you can never get back - and that is a perfect gift as per me. When someone says, "I am available for you always" it is indeed priceless!

Now only TIME will tell, whether or not I adopt a 'No receiving gifts' policy in life :) It does seem appealing though  - the entire vicious circle of expectations and  disappointments can be sealed once and for all.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Basically where are Basic Manners?

It is with great amusement that I recall my many interactions with strangers while traveling within India. No matter what the mode of travel is, people and their mannerisms remain the same. The only difference being the way questions are put across, some grill you bluntly and some in a refined manner. Especially for a single woman like me who hops around alone quite often, the barrage of question marks are the same but I ensure that I leave them with exclamation marks!

The last time I was at the airport at the security check, a lady who was traveling in a large troupe looked at me nervously and asked "Who is with you?", unabashedly, I said.."No one, I am alone". The look on her face would have made the most confident person on earth, go underground with fear. I could sense a question data bank being generated in her mind instantly and politely excused myself leaving her to grapple with a 'How-can-a-single-woman-travel-alone?' fantasy. Seeing the number of people with her, I am sure traveling alone was a far away fantasy for her.

The story after you settle down in your seat gets more interesting / predictable / frustrating, depending on the length of the journey. Before you are married and in case you look of the 'marriageable age' the questions hover around "Why not married?" and by the end of the talk you wonder why the opposite person is not in your family who would have taken care of you the way the concern just oozes!.

The other thing that I feel frustrated about is when I hear of people who have married fellow passengers. Believe me, we have atleast half a dozen close friends who have found the 'apple of their eye' after sharing a biscuit or banana on board a train or plane. Why, I always question, why do I always get seats next to loud, cranky children who will beat hollow the best sound proof ear phones or next to such old people who will depend on you for everything from exchanging seats to filling their forms and everything else possible! Not that I mind, but why no intelligent conversations atleast?

The next ofcourse is kids! I remember an old aunt telling me once "People will never ask you how much money you have or how many cars or houses you have, but everyone will ask, how many children you have!" Old wisdom, never dies out and though the questions around kids never cease my husband & I have come up with the most interesting answers over the years! No one has yet broken the record of this young soldier I met on a train though! On a simple 4 hour journey, he asked me the most embarrassing questions which my closest friends also have never asked. At the end of which he gave me a Doctor's address and the name of a herb that will 'definitely help'. Indeed I was looking for help and was ready to even take an anesthesia to escape his voice & tone that conveyed it all "If you have no children, your life is doomed!". I just wish wherever he is today, that he has a house full of children :)

More sophisticated people will ask, "So are you in the DINK (Double Income No Kids)category?". Earlier, I would agree hastily but now I cooly reply "No,in SINK!"

So while Indians are getting more sophisticated in all terms, I hope the 'Basic Manners' come back to where they belong..in basic upbringing. As for me I have stopped complaining after Rhonda Bryne boldly said in her not-so-secretive book called 'The Secret' that we attract all situations & people in life! Let me wrap up and meditate on attracting some intelligent people along side the next journey or some old people with loads of money (with no children!) who will be ready to make me their heir:)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Thank you..

A very common sight that always tugs my heart is the side walks around any swimming pool where parents watch over their little ones learning swimming. I guess it takes tremendous patience and more importantly love to be there day after day, supporting, chiding and encouraging their children not to give up. My rough estimate is that over 90% of the parents do not know to swim(especially the mothers), yet the way they encourage the off-spring to learn it is truly astounding :)

Which incidentally brings me to the concept of 'support' and how important it is for each one of us, as we try to swim along the tides of life. No matter, what kind of tide we are facing, it is heartening to see someone on the side walks trying to wave out to us and say "Go on, you can do it!" Advices come aplenty (since they are mostly given free of cost!), however I have started really appreciating people spending time and advising, I find great hidden 'support' in the exercise.

So here's to all of you who have been a great shoulder in this rather difficult year for me. 'Thank you' so much for being there in various forms - be it mails, messages or Face Book likes or updates, phone calls or BBM messenger and finally even that simple yet deep look that said "Go on, dont give up!"



Cant thank enough that you are a part of my life..Thanks for making 2011 memorable. Please continue to be a part of my support system year after year!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The real address of Love

It was a rare relaxed Sunday evening when hubby & I were taking a nice walk along a lake near where we stay. What a sight! Lovely weather, families out on their Sunday outing, groups of friends playing pranks and posing for group photos, so many young boys and girls (called couples in our world!) cuddling in the sylvan shelters of the trees along the lake, far from the madding crowds. It seemed like a perfect world. Love, caring and sharing all available at one place.

If there is so much love energy why do people still hate, separate, abuse each other? Wondered my mind. Over the years of association with people around us, some of the relationships fade in to infinity, some are safely and conveniently kept away, some tag along as 'devoted followers' (generally most love to have a following that does not question our ability!), some seasonal 'coming and going' types and finally some who are sealed with us for life!

So what are the different shapes and shades that 'Love' takes over years with association with the same people? I see it in the form of trust and confidence in long distance relationships where we are away from someone we love for more than one reason! I see it in that ONE glance that conveys it all. I feel it in the voice of parents who long to listen to their off-spring now away. I sense it in that one liner call / message from someone who wants to know "If you are ok!". Most of all, lately I see it in hospitals. Gross as it may sound, I am convinced that is where it most obviously resides.

The very word of 'Hospital' brings forth generally a negative feeling of medicines, doctors, displeasing smell, blood and bills! However, beyond all this you can see deep love and caring, in each husband holding the hand of a weak wife, in a wife talking to a husband dying with brain tumor and assuring that all will be well, in children nursing their old parents, in friends taking turns to give company to their friend who is nursing some relative. Rest assured! Only the ones who really matter will take time out and be there.

So no matter one may have hundreds of 'contacts' or 'friends' on social networking sites or phone address books, the ones that really love you are the ones accompanying you to a depressing place like a Hospital! Investing our time in such relationships will be much better than the seasonal ones :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Of Fish & Chips

Sometimes we tend to just drift away in to the past tense without realizing and I am seem to be in that mode today. Thoughts go back to some wonderful days spent in Henley-on-Thames in United Kingdom. One of the first things that struck me was about the difference in food habits from India. Fish and Chips being the first to catch my attention. What a strange combination of eating fish with chips! But over time I realized it was quite a staple and accepted snack there.


Years have rolled by from then and I have hardly seen any Fish & Chips stall in India even now. However, closer home there is a favorite shop of 'Hot Chips' which is frequented by better half to get his regular quota of munchies. I happened to notice a fish seller sitting close to this shop and the smell / aroma /stink (whatever we feel towards fish) often happens to waft the breeze and kind of overpowering the freshly fried chips. Strange, I thought that these two completely different fragrances blended without the slightest strangeness in it.

Feeling a bit intrigued how these two shopkeepers could get along so well, I did probe(completely womanish you may label!) if there were no 'acceptance problems' with any of them. One owner being a hard core vegetarian (yes, in many parts of India fish is considered non-vegetarian) and the fish seller who could not probably sleep without the smell of fish around. Interestingly, both of them detested each others presence from the word 'Go', for obvious reasons! Each day they found (created) a reason to fight with one another. What changed the equations then? was my obvious next question.



Well, well, the rains in July 26 2007 when Mumbai came to a virtual stand still, their lives changed completely. In the rage of the rains, in the need for survival against all odds each one helped another in saving not only their lives but also their 'hard earned' money for the day. Not only that the pure vegetarian owner of the Hot Chips offered to his fish seller neighbour to give shelter to his prized catch of fresh fish and stored them along with his chips!

I am entirely convinced that disasters have a hidden message from the universe that we otherwise fail to learn. The theories we profess all the time are tested and verified when disaster strikes! Many a times we try and find issues with people around us and convince ourselves that their behaviour upsets us! The fact of the matter very often being that as much as we are trying to change others, they are also doing the same - trying to change us!

If we are wise enough to realize these differences and live with it, our daily life will be a joyous picnic every minute. If not we will have to wait for a disaster to strike to experience 'unity in diversity'.

What would you like? Fish & Chips to begin with? :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lost & Forlorn

It is all about getting used to your presence, day in and day out. How lost I am now that you have decided to stay out of my life for some time! I have heard may be a thousand times over that we need to be the masters of our lives and not give in to dependency on any one, emotionally or otherwise. But how does one stay away from the 'attachment trap'?

Your coming home everyday at the same time is almost taken for granted. I take pride of you when the others cringe about what they have in their lives. I have secretly even thanked my stars and the Lord for getting us together in this life.

Your spick and span look, no-nonsense attitude and at the same time the caring outlook has many a times left me asking me for more. I wait with baited breath for you to return home soon. Your deft fingers have worked like a charm for so many years and I am sure no one else can create the magic that you do!

In the mean while I must attend to chores at home needing my attention now that you are not there to take care of them. Sincerely and desperately missing you, my bai, my domestic help, my everyday angel..Shobha.