Monday, December 8, 2014

To all elitist Indians, I say RIP

This morning I read of an American and German family that held a candle light vigil at the beach in honour of a US teacher who was murdered in a shopping mall last week. What moved me was that both the families didn’t know the deceased personally.

I’ve had a few deaths in my family, too, recently, which moved me for reasons that make me angry. When one of my middle-aged cousins died, an elderly aunt was heard telling his widow, who was sitting beside the body of her husband, “Good, he’s gone. Now you can live your life peacefully!” Another family member wanted no post-funeral rituals for him.Why not? 

He’s got a teenage kid with an impressionable mind, you dorks! I wish to scream.

Any thought for the youngster? The young widow?  Yes, he was an alcoholic. But he was not an abusive husband or father. Isn’t there something called sensitivity?

A kind word, if not about his wasted adult life, at least about his early days. His more productive younger days, would have helped his son remember his dad better and would have redeemed his soul, too.

But that’s my community.

More recently, I lost my paternal aunt. The funeral and rituals were executed to the fault, with social media mourning, too. All the elitists showed up in strength because she apparently lived a full life as society deems right.

However, her adult daughter is now allegedly showing signs of distress. Wouldn’t her guilt and pain been less had she spoken her heart out at the post-funeral rituals, recalling the good memories with the old lady?

But that’s my community.

Years earlier, in the 1990s, when my maternal uncle passed away all and sundry only spoke of his alleged marital discord. Not a word about the two-year-old in his widow’s arms. Not a word about his aged parents who watched their only son lay dead before them. To think of all that bad mouthing during that mourning period, makes me shudder to this day.

This is not about my family. Rather it’s the Indian-ness.

A few good words about the departed soul told loud and clear for as many people as possibly could hear will help all those affected by the passing away of an individual.

But the best people do is huddle in groups and sigh ‘Oh! sad!’;  ‘She or He was a nice person!’ And if the person was bed-ridden, then a public sigh – ‘Glad the suffering has ended!’

And then prepare for a status show of spreading an elaborate feast in the name of post-funeral rituals.

Words matter. Words soothe. Words heal.

I like the western concept of a memorial service for the departed for this particular reason. The dead are celebrated. They are remembered for their best – no matter how rotten a life they may have led. It makes the family feel good. Those who gather leave with satisfied hearts.

In my community, people who gather leave with satisfied stomachs.

The concept of a memorial service is not popular yet. And in my community, it’s embarrassing to even consider any show of public emotions. But a show of elitism is befitting.

I will be ostracized for even suggesting this. Nevertheless. If it’s okay to savour burgers and pizzas along with our earthen curries, and if it’s absolutely okay to dream of sending our kids abroad, why not ape the memorial service to eulogize the dead and uplift those affected?

It would offer the surviving an opportunity to wash away their guilt and any wrong thoughts and acts they may have exchanged or engaged with the deceased by recalling the best times they spent together or by simply acknowledging the best traits of the person that is no more. Rather than huddling to gossip and gathering to eat.

Well, strangers who mourned a slain teacher reminded me that my community, too, have moved with the times and have adopted an emotionless expression. RIP, we key in now!

To my community I plead, RIP it up – that elitism!

To all Non-Resident Indians, with love!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

I am too precious!

“You look hot!”; “You are beautiful!”; “You became dark like a charcoal!” ;“You look tired!”; “You are such an inspiration!”; “You are too emotional!” “You should smile more often!” “You are timid!”…

These are the varied comments I received, in no particular order, all in a span of less than 48 hours.

And to note that people spat these exclamations on my face, looking in my eyes, following my last blog where I announced not to be a people pleaser anymore, makes me doubt of some boogie-woo conspiracy.

Okay, so I was down with a nasty virus for a week, but none of those who commented on my demeanour bothered to take note because I never sulked and sneezed when I interacted. How much do people know or even care to know before they label you. You are taken at face value! A face they choose to ‘see’.

A few months ago, I would have been paranoid thinking of each of the above statement. Now such words do not flicker a single pore on me. It wasn’t easy getting my nerves to behave. I learnt it the hard way. I was on a roller-coaster of a soul-searching ride for the last eight months, checking out and ticking off people whom I allowed in my space and thoughts – family, friends and colleagues.

I forgave each one and blessed them in turn. [It’s not easy. But it’s so liberating once you force yourself into doing it, though. So make it a habit]

And I’ve chucked most of them out of my system. No matter who they are. Relatives who never acknowledge me; those in sly competition with me; friends who think of me only when I stand before them; those who never appreciate my time and love; colleagues who are manipulative…

A few who demand protocol attention, will receive my plastic smile from a distance.

They are free to call me arrogant, cock-headed or any damn adjective in their chosen vocabulary, but I REFUSE TO BETRAY MYSELF!

Yes, the more you tolerate uncomfortable people and situation in your life, the more you betray yourself!

I am too precious for myself. I am all I have!

You may want to read:

To the wonderful people who make my life

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Housefly – I am not

Well, I am one. Rather was. 

I was told by none other but my daughter because one day I sat doing my work silently…aloof rather… irritated to be precise… not communicating with the family to be frank. So here I admit!

A woman’s mood is not only hers. Her family members are majority stakeholders of her private possession. The state of mind of the woman-of-the-house ripples off to affect every single person and object in her home. The husband gets fuzzy, the kid gets fuzzier and together they begin to rub your already fuzziest mood. The dishes make noise, the cleaner makes more noise and the roofs scream back at you!

The best remedy to keep peace at home is to SMILE and say ‘leave me alone, I need some time to myself’. And close the door again with a SMILE.

Fake that SMILE to begin with.

But beware, restrain it to only a smile. Else, you become a pleaser. 

People pleasers are the worst sufferers!

I was a die-hard one, until recently. Currently, I'm one with measured restraints – as I’m still working hard to eradicate it without a trace.

The low-side of being a people pleaser, dear friends, is you will not be valued for what you are. And think about this – if you value yourself, would you have put yourself in uncomfortable situations to please others? 

However, close or distant the person/people/situation might be, if you are not ‘COMFORTABLE’, it’s not worth investing time and energy in them/that.

You are the most important person for you!

But yes, you may smile – if it’s person/people, smile at them. If it’s a situation, smile at yourself.

Smile buys peace!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

In a saree and bindi she spoke

The team was called for a photo session before the meeting because the chief guest had to leave immediately…and thus strutted on to the podium women in formals defining smartness to a fault.

In skirts, trousers, hairdos and make-up each one was dressed for the occasion. They walked up, chatting, adjusting the order of standing and struck the right poses and smile and animatedly yelled suggestions to the photographer as he was setting up his tripod.

Amid this was one woman, lean and tall in a saree –  simple cotton with  grey and blue prints paired with a single-coloured half-sleeve blouse. Her toes peeped out showing the pair of brown sandals.

I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Her blouse was round high-cut. A pair of golden studs on her ear lobes was clearly visibly as her frizzy hair, parted neatly in the centre, was held at her nape. She wore a gold chain with a pendant that ran inside one of her saree folds and a maroon bindi between her brows was the only touch of make-up, if it all the adornment qualifies for one.

Women think they are walking encyclopedia on parenting!

As the chief guest was escorted out, I heard ladies around me discuss parenting. I bit my lips and turned away. I fail to understand why humans born females think they are the limited edition walking encyclopedia on parenting! Well, I adjusted my chair and heard my target speak on gardening. Better still, though I have no green fingers, I thought!

The speakaton began and the chic encyclopedias took to the podium. If there were ample ums, ahs, and stutters their pronunciations and sentence structures would put a middle-school child to shame.

How can someone in a saree, up her ankle, speak!

Then she walked up and clasped her hands together and I sighed, “Oh no!” She had an oval-shaped black strapped watch on one wrist and a single golden bangle on the other. She stood flipping the papers in hand and I noticed her nails were cut crew-short and paint-less. “Gosh! She’s buying time!!”

At that moment, she looked at the audience and asked, “How can the projector refuse to co-operate on such a crucial day?" "…It doesn’t have a mind of its own, yeah. But I do. So I’ve come prepared,” she announced placing the placards on the lectern.

And she began… I’ve never heard such polished English spoken with such grace and gusto in a long long time. She received a standing ovation at the end of her 7 minutes allotted time.

She bowed with a hand to her chest before collecting her papers and lifting the pleats of her saree and got off the podium.

Love speaks the same language!

I had to know her better… A homemaker and ardent social worker, she’s a member of several charity groups and juggles her commitments to pursue her passion for gardening, baking and reading.

So why did she join Toastmasters? “My husband is a dedicated TM…never tires of speaking about it…he says, he wants to die a Toastmaster. For almost six years, I listened. But then I thought, if I need to engage in healthy conversation with him, I have to be involved myself. How much can I only listen? That's why I’m here so that I can talk his language.”

PS: Next time I meet her am definitely asking her thoughts on parenting.

Also read:

The day I failed

My first speech

Thursday, October 9, 2014

And the Liebster Award goes to...

Roshan for tagging me & Elly for nominating me. Ha, ha, ha....

Thank You friends!!!!

This is the first time, I've taken up such a challenge. It is fun and thought-provoking, too. I'm glad I decided to join The Tribers...my days are more enriching now.

So here Roshan, I take the 11 challenges you threw my way...

1.What was the best moment of your life till date?
Ans: Those minutes when my mom wept in joy and my husband stood awed seeing our baby girl in the delivery room.

2. If not 'your present job', what would you see yourself doing in life?
Ans. An inspirational speaker

3. Who was your first celebrity crush?
Ans: Rahman in Malayalam and Big B in Bollywood [same time]

4.  The best friend you have made in the blogosphere?
Ans: Forgive me Roshan. I can't name one... Corraine; Shailaja, Elly, Judy

5.  I'm giving you a million dollars. How are you going to spend it?
Ans: I would keep aside some for my daughter's education; give some to my brother and brother-in-law; and spent the rest towards means to empower women.

6. Your best feature?
Ans: My smile

7. Show us a photo you possess on your computer/mobile that you just love?

8. Two books you would recommend to everyone?
Ans. It's difficult. There are so many. The ones that come to mind immediately: William Dalrymple's Nine Lives & Gregory David Robert's Shantaram

9. Favourite food dishes?
Ans:  Masala Dosa [as breakfast; lunch, dinner, supper, snack and anytime in between]

10. A celebrity you feel is highly underrated and deserves more credit (and why)?
Ans: Irrfan Khan simply because he's such a fabulous actor. The depth is portrays cannot be contained in words.

11. Share some insightful advice you have learned NOT FROM BOOKS but from the crazy journey of life.
Ans:  Whenever situations or people disturb you, taking your mind hostage and paralysing your life... Don't try to push the thoughts away, stay in the feeling for a couple of days. Then sit alone and write down [NO KEYING IN; USE PAPER AND PEN AND WRITE LONG-HAND] your priorities in life. If your concern doesn't figure on the first two slots, chuck them and move ahead. And if they do, face them head on. Don't waste another second brooding.

So here goes my 11 questions:

1. How would you define yourself in two words?
2. Who is your  greatest inspiration in life?
3. Do you believe marriage changes women's priorities in life? And why?
4. What would you think of a man who cooks and does the dishes at home?
5. Do you think every individual ought to have a political viewpoint?
6. What's your favourite one-liner?
7. The world is a ________ [fill in the blank]
8. Two things you hate about yourself?
9. Two best compliments you've received?
10. Your most embarrassing moment is______ [fill in the blank]
11. Please give one advice to bloggers.

Happy answering ladies!

For the award I tag... Nibha; Cynthia; Suzy; Shilpa; Rajalakshmi; Nabanita; Shailaja; Monica; Michelle; Carol; Inderpreet;      

Friday, October 3, 2014

Dussehra in the IPad age

The spirit of Dussehra is the same across India, where people celebrate the victory of good over evil. However, the rituals and festivities vary in each state.

In Kerala, the last three days of Navratri is devoted to Saraswati - the Goddess of learning. The celebration starts with placing books for pooja on Astami day and taken for reading only on the third morning [on Vijayadashami].

This day is also believed to be the most auspicious day for initiation of writing, where kids between two and three years of age are formally initiated into the world of letters before they could begin formal education. Elders, priests or any learned person will hold the index finger of the toddler to write the first letters on a plate of raw rice or even sand. They write 'Hari Shri Ganapataye Namah' and recite the same.

Courtesy: YouTube
During my childhood, I looked forward to Vijayadashami, because once the books are kept before the Goddess, we are not allowed to read or write. It was total entertainment. I continue the ritual diligently with my daughter now.

But being a woman of letters, I staunchly believe in offering my diaries and notes as well to the Goddess. However, this Astami day when I placed my diaries I realised the last words written in them were a decade back. So I copied all my work and e-journals on to an USB and sought the blessings of Goddess Saraswati.

USB stick on my diary
 Don't be surprised folks, if in the very near future you'll find iPads kept for pooja and gurus guiding the index fingers of toddlers on Tablets instead of rice platters!

So much for keeping tradition alive in a high-tech era!

Happy Dussehra!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

To the wonderful people who make my life

I had to write this post today to share with you all how the universe respects your efforts.

To begin with, off late I have been reaching out to calm my nervous energy. Being a private person, I had always believed keeping personal issues in the darkest closet inside me. No more. However, I will never vomit over all and sundry. That’s an absolute NO.

Have you noticed when you have something bugging you, how your determination plays hide n seek? For a few days you feel you cracked it and enjoy peace only to wake up one morning and smell the shit all over again? Well, I was riding this see-saw for some weeks, until the husband and my mentor took my case.

So after the long period of self-deliberation, when I finally made peace here’s what happened….READ ON…

I received the below message on WhatsApp… 

Once Buddha was travelling with a few of his followers.
While they were passing a lake, Buddha told one of his disciples, "I am thirsty. Do get me some water from the lake."
The disciple walked up to the lake. At that moment, a bullock cart started crossing through the lake. As a result, the water became very muddy & turbid.
The disciple thought, "How can I give this muddy water to Buddha to drink?" So he came back & told Buddha, "The water in there is very muddy. I don't think it is fit to drink."
After about half an hour, again Buddha asked the same disciple to go back to the lake. The disciple went back & found that the water was still muddy. He returned & informed Buddha about the same.
After sometime, again Buddha asked the same disciple to go back. This time, the disciple found the mud had settled down, & the water was clean & clear.
So he collected some water in a pot & brought it to Buddha.
Buddha looked at the water, and then he looked up at the disciple & said, " See what you did to make the water clean. You let it be & the mud settled down on its own & you have clear water."
Your mind is like that too ! When it is disturbed, just let it be. Give it a little time. It will settle down on its own.
You don't have to put in any effort to calm it down. It will happen. It is effortless." Having 'Peace of Mind' is not a strenuous job, it is an effortless process so keep ur mind cool & have a grt life ahead...


In the evening my classmate chats me up: “Hey Nisha…so you write, yeah?” When I replied in the affirmative, she asked, “Did you see the poem I posted on our FB page.”

I felt guilty of not seeing her work [it was posted three weeks back]. She immediately copied me on the poem… 

Oh! the lovely ST ANNS SCHOOL
Like the moon which is always cool
It is the best of all schools
With so very few fools..

The sisters are wise,
The students are nice,
The teachers are full of life,
and few of them are wives...

We are always spick and span
And try to be as smart as we can
We meet our friends with a hearty "hi"
And depart them with a gloomy "bye"...

Our cheerful hearty laughters
You must join in chorus dear teachers
Laughters of joy where else can you hear
Nowhere else except here

We entered the school and we are full of tears
But we have to leave it, we are already in tears
How i wish i were still a kid
To enjoy life, that ST.ANNS bids.

I found the poem kiddish with gross errors. So without being dishonest and yet not sounding rude or snobbish at her efforts, I replied, “gud rhyme”.

“You wrote this!!!!” she immediately replied. Thank God I was in the safe confines of my bedroom that I could hide my embarrassment. “You wrote it in Grade 8 during the…” she tried reminding me.

I just can’t recollect.

But the truth that one of my friends had preserved that piece of paper for 25 long years – during a period when there was no social media and no hope we would one day speak to each other - means a lot, lot, lot, lot…. to me!

Finally, when I realise that it was brought to my notice only after I was calm and collected and discovered clarity of my priorities…means the universe respects my efforts!

I wound the day up in the best company ever – my lil girl’s single-handed birthday party for her dad. She baked the cake herself; bought the candles and set the table, too, before he returned from work.

She gets the first bite...Always!

Thank you to the Divine! I am humbly grateful!

I now consider myself qualified to say this: The moment you feel uncomfortable with any situation, write down your priorities in life. That will help you emotionally detach yourself from the issue. Then you are no more uncomfortable!

Also read:
A life-changing week