Saturday, October 12, 2019

My Anchors




I guess this is one aspect in our lives that we mostly take for granted and I thought it seems right to give a little extra thanks to the most important people in my life - my family :  my parents and grandparents who shaped me. I feel the family don't teach you anything explicitly but you just pick up bits and pieces from everyone around and shape yourself.  One of the things in life we can’t choose is which family we are born into. However, I believe that every person ends up in the exact family they are supposed to be in. And probably this also prepares us to face all the experiences that comes our way in the exact manner in which it needs to be handled. Ever given a thought on that? 

So for me I guess it is growing up knowing the best of both worlds - the urban environment where my parents lived and also the rural settings where I spent most of my childhood days which I had mentioned earlier. I haven't seen my paternal grandparents and my maternal grandfather also died when I was 2 years or so and so it was mainly my maternal grandmother who I was close to. I have grown up experiencing the grit and the strength my grandmother possessed in adverse situations - be it loosing a 35 year old son to cancer or a 1.5 year old grandson to  pneumonia or facing the adversities from own family. It definitely was not an easy task to give education to all six children irrespective of gender and make them all government servants in those days. She had a choice to relax when all the children were on their own feet but she choose to work hard and be independent till the very end. Her day started at 4 am and went through different activities in the kitchen, farm land and the farm animals. Never seen her rest in between and her day transitioned from one task to another seamlessly. Have heard amma tell that when acchachan was there, even the ayurvedic medicines that he used for consultation was also prepared at home by her.  She never hesitated when someone approached her with need or in giving of alms . Probably it was the quality of that generation who had seen it all - world wars , pre and post independent eras, famine and so many other experiences which we have only read in history books. She was able to maintain her calmness in any situation. I haven't seen her cry;ever - death in family, excruciating pain , distress situations - nothing shook her and she never blamed anyone for anything either. I have never seen her wish ill upon a person. In fact, I used to get furious in many such situations and wanted to react to the opposite party but she always maintained that confrontation is not worth it. Of course, I can't even be 1% of what she is but I am so grateful for that teeny weeny piece of her in me that is guiding me all through. 

When it comes to my parents, they were in a totally different realm than my grandmother. They have also shown me some pretty good examples of how to live. They were happy together which resulted in a safe and happy childhood for me. It also helped me to understand the value of a relationship where you have mutual trust and respect.
They never smothered me with attention but was always there whenever I needed. In fact, every single incident in my life I used to tell my mother even though I very well knew she will scold me. But hiding anything from her was not an option.
And yes honesty too - it was fine to err but if I ever tried to lie, it was never forgiven and always they could figure it out without any difficulty and so that was again out of question.
They also made sure not to indulge me. I guess they were scared that I would be a pampered and spoiled kid and so was very careful. Think I was the least pampered and the one who got the most punishments among my peers at that time 😄
I grew up seeing how you can exhibit compassion and empathy in your own surroundings. In fact there were regulars who were dependent on them and they never turned them down - ever. There was always a part of their earnings kept aside for this. Even animals and insects were not to be harmed  (And I have no clue how I got a husband with the exact same principle)
 Another thing I realize in hindsight is that they always lived below their means. Since both of them were govt servants and didn't have any liabilities, there were many luxuries they could have easy afforded but they chose not to and also lived debt free their entire life. So now a days whenever I use a credit card I remember them and feel guilty 😒
They taught me the importance of education and allowed me to be independent and support myself.
Of course there are many instances in my life when I felt they understood me or pampered me a bit more or was more liberal in the house rules. But probably it is this upbringing which was the biggest learning that helped me survive the lonely path after they passed away.

So yes, no matter what life throws at us, we CAN handle it as our families do prepare us for the same.  For all that our parents do for us, there is no way of repaying them, but an occasional thank you or an acknowledgement to appreciate them, might just make them happy. Sometimes we miss the most important people in our lives. I am mad I didn't get the chance to thank them when they were around 😒

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Friends for Life



When I wrote about Dhanya in the previous post, I had mentioned that there are countless other friends I have made along the way who are a valuable part of my life today. 

Being an only child, I had a lonely childhood and my single-most wish those days was to have a sibling. I even used to coax my parents to adopt a child so that I will have company. This was the only thing I used to pray for until one day amma found out and she sat me through and explained that I should not be praying for such specifics and only accept whatever comes your way. I don't think I have prayed for anything else after that.  But I guess universe has this weird ways of fulfilling your heart's desires 😉

I have had friends who always got my back at each stage of my life. When I look back now each of those stages had it's own characteristics. 

School time we had a small group of very close friends. Those days were all about giggly conversations, crazy inside jokes, homework and punishments,  favorite teachers , lunch time games , science/math exhibitions, competition between four houses, youth festivals and what not.  Each of these used to be so important for us at that time and it filled our conversations and thoughts completely. After spending the entire day at school together (and of course talking all day), we still spoke on phone as soon as we reached home (and got scoldings for that). Of course knowing each other's families was an added advantage. Even now their parents are like a second family to me. They knew us and trusted us and turned to each other for advice and to conspire against our mischief s too 😄 These school friends were, still are, and will always remain the most uncomplicated and endearing friendships I ever had.

The PUC time was about enjoying the freedom from the uniforms and the protected life we were leading. We got permissions to go on our own to town, take out our cycles which wasn't very common for girls in a small town like ours in those days. We enjoyed by exploring the city we lived in, checking out exhibitions, book shops or even a couple of lunch outs or an ice-cream treat. I still remember going to current books and we decided to take the full Round rather than cut across through 'Thekkinkad maidanam'  (Sorry only Thrissur people will know this technicality 😈) as we had no clue which exit to take even though had lived in Thrissur all our lives.  Thankfully, I was able to maintain the same friendships in school although we were in different groups. Most of us had been in the same school from pre-kg till 10th and this was the first time we were mingling with people who we haven't known from childhood and this helped us expand our circle of friends too. We had a very hectic schedule with entrance coaching, assignments, tuition, labs and such but I guess it was the time we most enjoyed as well. College fests, college elections, onam/x-mas celebrations, the very long lunch sessions , small small pranks in class, strategising against the roadside romeos 😁 - I really don't know how those two years flew by.  It was also a time of intense emotions and standing for what is right. I remember few of us wrote a long letter to our sir in tuition class when we felt one student misbehaved with one of the girls (even though the victim chose to keep quiet) and made him take action.    

Then came the engineering days and for some reason I was not comfortable at all. Probably the separation from the childhood friends (all of us were in different colleges or even cities) or the shift to a co-ed or having to choose a field I wasn't too keen on pursuing. In fact there are quite many people in my class whom I hadn't spoken at all during those years 😔 Of course, I did make new friends that time but I guess the friendships deepened much later probably towards final year or even after most of us came to Bangalore for jobs. Also some of my PUC friends were in Vimala College which was just opposite our class and I guess I have eaten from Vimala canteen most of the times and have visited GEC canteen only once or twice. In fact, those days the only thing I looked forward was when our school gang reunited during holidays. This was the time we got permissions for a night out or for an early morning trip to Guruvayoor taking a private bus. 

Moving to a new city for job gave a whole range of friends from all over the places - Hostel-mates , Housemates,  Teammates , Travel-mates , Volunteering friends , even counterparts and expats.  I will have to write pages and pages if I need to write about all of them whom I met at different phases. This was the period of  independence, greater responsibilities, new places, new experiences , discovering new hobbies or in short - growing up.  There were the happiest of times and also the most depressing times as well. There were occasions where I have taken the role of agony aunt trying to support others and there have been many other occasions where I have experienced the caring support from all these angels around me. Probably one unique thing about this time is that over the years I have made friends across all age groups. There are few who are in the parental domain, some just a couple of years elder to me, while some even decades younger. I am waiting for the day when a teammate comes to me and say I was not born when you started working 😁 

I am ever grateful for all these priceless relationships and hopefully some more in the years to come. They are the family I handpicked and answer to my childhood prayers 😍

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The sister I got to choose 👭


I am sure all of you will agree that there is always a special bond with your childhood friends . The beauty of this friendship is that no matter how much time you have spent apart, seeing each other again simply means picking up where you have left off and you can just dive right back in. You know, understand and relate to each other on a level that others simply can’t understand . Not even your mother. Not even your spouse.

I am lucky to have a handful of school friends whom I remain close to even now. This is about one of these friends who is my best friend, my soul sister, my 3 AM friend. We even share the same name and zodiac ( our birthdays are just 4 days apart) and have shared the same bench in school for so many years.

I have known her from the age of four when we were both in LKG and we have literally grown up together sharing all our secrets, awkward phases, heartbreaks and triumphs. We have gone through some tough times together, we have gone through some tough times apart, but what has remained constant is that we have always been there for each other along the way - the good times, and the bad, and the boring in-between. That’s what true friendship is about right?

We know the dynamics of each other’s families and over the years she became a part of my family and me a part of hers . There is no room for pretense with her. She can catch the slightest change of tone in my voice over the phone and I can’t brush her off and say “ It's nothing…” when she asks what is wrong. I think both of us are acutely aware who the other person is and continue to understand each other even though life has taken us in different directions. She knows me inside out - my flaws, my upbringing, my weaknesses, my journey. Our relationship is about mutual respect, love, and understanding . We are part of each other’s lives and want to be so in future as well, however it may evolve.

After graduating from high school, we both went on our different ways – I took engineering and she took medicine and later migrated to different parts of the country for jobs. In fact, I remember being so worried that we would drift apart and had made a very emotional new year card for her in high school. I couldn’t imagine how we would stay close when we were in different colleges , different friends and is not meeting each other daily. And that was a time when we didn’t have WhatsApp or Facebook or even mobile phones.  But here we are, 25 years later and we are still best friends. Our friendship is still as strong as ever.

Of course,  I have made countless other friends along the way, who didn’t share the same bench as me in school, but still play a valuable role in my life today. I do cherish them, but that doesn’t change the fact that they don’t know me, or understand me, in the same way as she does.

Dhanya,  it is very difficult to end this blog because there’s surely a million reasons I would want to thank you for and words are not enough.

-          Thank you for being there to pick me up, just when I needed it.
-          Thank you for being that friend who I can call and vent to when I need a listening ear.
-          Thank you for being my confidant. You never judged me and is the only person I’m not afraid to show how weak I am.
-          Thank you for being that person I can come to when I really need advice and know that I will get an honest opinion.
-          Thank you for inspiring me. You’re strong, independent, caring, selfless and you inspire me to become a better person.  
-          Thank you for being that someone who after close to 40 years of friendship, I can still call my best friend and know that nothing will ever change that
-          Thank you for being you. Just so you know, you’re one of the few people I truly look up to. You’re amazing 





Monday, August 12, 2019

Significant Other



Today happens to be my b'day and it is also a reminder of a decision I took on my birthday 7 years back. So thought of starting the gratitude series with it 😉


I was not interested in getting married and so I didn't think much when this alliance came through my cousin as I had gone through this ordeal quite many times already. I was ready with my 'No' even before we talked or met. So I did surprise myself when I felt positive after our first meeting. I realized I have found someone who accepted me exactly as I am with all my shortcomings.


Of course it did take it's own sweet time for two strangers who did not want to get married to get adjusted to the system. We have very different interests or views on some areas but thankfully there are a lot many where we share the same interests and views. Many a times I have wondered how it is even possible that someone else have the exact same weird thought process as me. And for the rest where we differ, we have learned to agree to disagree 😊   


It does feel awkward when you have to voice out your feelings and if Ram ever reads this , he is going to be super embarrassed and mad at me for putting this out in public. Thankfully, he never reads my blogs  😐 


Anyways I am better in writing than 'saying' and so I think this is my opportunity and here I am


 - I am grateful that he came into my life when I was searching for a foothold in this world and have shown me what true love really is. 
Thank you for being the one who understands everything I am going through


 - I am grateful for his unconditional support and for helping me become a better person. Thank you for letting me dream and for believing in me even when I don't


 - I am grateful for his ability to make me smile especially when I need it most. Thank you for always making me feel loved, cared for, and special.


 - I am grateful for our differences coz with out that life would be too monotonous. And yeah Thank you for being the peacemaker and for being the one who seeks me out for reconciliation when we have had an argument 😀

- I am grateful that he is so thoughtful and considerate and always does the right thing. When he makes decisions, he considers the needs of others first. Thank you for being so loving, and kind; not just towards me but also for everyone around ( including the spiders, cockroaches, rats, snakes and reptiles 😐 )


I could go on for eternity with things that make me thankful for him and I find myself more keenly aware of all that when he travels. It is then that I notice the countless little things that he does each day to make my life easier and creates a void coz he is not there to do them. And I often wonder how I managed my life without him for so long 😜  
So yes, Thank you for always making life easier for me. You are my world💕



Monday, August 05, 2019

The Year of Gratitude Challenge





I have attempted a similar experiment earlier which was for a week and then I continued it in a
personal journal for some more time. Last few years I was keeping a memory jar which collected all my important life moments. But sometimes life gets in the way and I tend to forget about it. It always feels good to take time to be grateful for what we do have in our lives.

I had stumbled upon a 52 week gratitude challenge on Pinterest and it's been in my saved boards for a long time now. I was scared to pick it up as I have to admit that consistency in blogging is not my strong point. But when I came across the same yesterday I wanted to take it up and here I am going to attempt to blog every week. It's far too easy to get into and stay in complain mode but I have planned to take time out every week to remind myself of the good things in my life and hopefully it will help me to regain some focus back in my life :)


Thursday, June 20, 2019

Checkpoint


I really can't believe it is already June - the last month of the first half of the year. We will soon be stepping in to second half of the year and in a flash the year will also be gone. Anyway it is time to do a reality check on where I am related to the goals I had set for myself. When I decided to reduce the virtual footprint and meet friends in real, never did I imagine that I will be bumping into ones I haven't met for half my lifetime!!!


If the first meeting was a planned one, the second one was totally unexpected. Sudheer is my senior in college and probably one of the very few outside my class whom I knew by face during that time. Coming from a convent school, “politics” and affiliation to any party was limited to whether our class would be left out on that day when the boys from the neighboring school came demanding a 'long bell'. Our sisters were clever enough not to let the syllabus suffer by allowing all the students to go. Their strategy was to use a rotation mechanism in which different divisions where let out alternatively each time strikers come. And we used to longigly wait for that memo which decided our fate for the day 😉Sorry I am digressing. Anyway even at home , my parents believed your political affiliation is personal and never discussed it openly. 

With such a background when I joined engineering college, the first day itself was a strike day. Reason -  a final year student was stabbed to death on stage the previous night during their sendoff party due to a political rivalry. That was my firsthand experience of campus politics. I was never a fan of campus politics and believed(still believes) that at such a young age it is very difficult to have a proper understanding of the ideologies that the parties represent and most youngsters follow one or other blindly. This experience kind of enhanced my hate and I always kept a distance from any of the political activities in the campus.  But it was not so easy – the strikes , the rivalry , the fights – everything was real – no rotation to protect classes or sisters to defend us. So my policy was to scoot (jump over the compound wall outside our class and escape 😛) when we get the first glimpse of anything remotely connected to politics . Our class being in a remote corner of the campus, far from main building , helped and I had some like-minded friends in this activity.  So when Sudheer came with a political group and when they were addressing the class about some issue, he saw us slipping out and got angry that we were not concerned about the important issue that they were talking.  Anyways if I remember right we did manage to escape that day also and probably many more such scenes in the coming years. For a fresher, not listening to a “Mech senior” was considered suicidal those days. I can’t remember any other interactions with him during college days but I never forgot that angry face (considering I am very bad with remembering faces). It was after college that we started interacting – I guess initially for the placements and later through the travel group and developed our friendship. Then as usual life happens and he also shifted out of Bangalore.  Since we now work for the same company albeit different cities, we bumped in to each other in the company canteen and decided to catch up for lunch the next day. I really couldn’t believe when Sudheer mentioned that we are seeing after 15 years. Probably it is one (dis)advantage of social media – you won’t realize the years passing by even if you haven’t met for many years since you are updated about the life changes in each other’s lives or at least the ones that we choose to publish. Anyways it was good to catch up with him and know that his political interest is still intact and is quite active in the field. Wishing him a bright political career and hope to get some perks when he enters active politics. I just hope he recognises me then 😉

It was Honey chechi who triggered our plan to visit Australia and it was quickly executed coz hubby was keen on the India – Australia series that was happening there (although we missed it which is another story). But again never imagined that short vacation will lead to meeting so many friends after long. It feels like hardly anyone is left in India and you need to fly out of the country to meet a larger group 😑

 When three of us landed in Bangalore fresh out of college we were coming out of a protective life for the first time - not even any hostel experience till then. So when we moved into Honey chechi's house - it was a huge learning curve. Our first lessons in cooking , housekeeping , financial management and many more were from her who guided us expertly with her 2 year seniority .  The designated place for each and every object at home , the group cooking with rotation based chores , our accounted money 'pool' - everything was so orderly in our lifes back then. There are so many memories although it was only for a year and then the “New man” came in to her life and took her away 😀 But we still kept in touch and visited each other over the years. So cannot really say it was a long break but yeah it was 18 years (or may be 15 years if I consider UK visit )since we stayed together. It is good to see that she still maintains that order in everything she does even now. So when you show someone their house video, you won't be surprised when the viewers ask whether this is really a place where people live in 😄


Anubha was again one of the firsts who contacted me when I put up the post to meetup. I know her from the NSN days where she was one of my mentees and initially appeared to be a quiet and soft-spoken girl. Later, once we became close, we got a taste of her naughty , fun and talkative part. She is very hard-working and someone you can blindly trust your work with. You ask her to do something and it will be done in the best possible way and no follow ups are necessary. I haven’t met her after I left NSN which was 8 years back and in this timeframe she had migrated to Australia. So I was so excited to meet her along with her baby. A short but sweet meeting I would say ❤


Denny is my engineering classmate and the one before me in our class rolls. So in all of our lab groupings he was stuck as the only guy among 3 of us girls until we finally exchanged him with another girl who was in a similar situation with 3 guys 😂 He was one of the NRK students in our class with broken Malayalam but the favorite Bhai of everyone. I hadn’t met him after college as he was an early NRI. I wasn’t even sure if we can make it when I msged him as we were landing in the evening and returning back the next day. But he picked us from airport, met his lovely family over dinner and then we had a long chatter late into the night. He was probably the one who I am meeting after such a long period - 20 years!  It was so nice to catch up after so many years and know that nothing has changed and we can just start from where we left during our college days.

There were still many more who I missed meeting in Australia as we choose to be in Tasmania for the major part of our time there. But yeah I am sure everything is possible if we just wish for it… 😍





Friday, January 25, 2019

Live differently






A solo bike ride across India - 115 days , 35 cities , 18000 kms.
  
How does that sound to you? Adventurous? Crazy? Risky? That is the normal for Prashant  - My first meet-up buddy this year.
   
When I thought about meeting people in real, I was very sure it is not going to be an easy task. It meant you are asking for commitment from one more person and I was wondering how many will actually be interested in this exercise. However, there were few faces that came to my mind who I knew will surely make it and he was on top of the list. And sure enough when I shared the post about my intention, he was the first to comment and the first to show up on the very first week of the year as well 😊
  
I first met this guy more than a decade ago though Chrysallis Performance Arts Centre for the Challenged, Bangalore (integrating children with and without challenges) which was a special part of our lives for many many years. We were volunteering for this NGO and was part of the core group who lead the different events and also inducted other volunteers for the programmes.  Later when the frequency of Chrysallis events came down, we all went different ways. But atleast a small bunch dedicatedly found reasons to meet though not as much as we did in the olden days and kept the friendship alive.  

Prashant always stood out with his wackiness and sense of humor and also the unique decisions he made. He always loved exploring the untrodden paths. I still remember the shock I got when the Power Of One was announced and remember telling him the dangers of going to Leh-Ladakh and the northeast all alone in a motor bike. But he was unfazed and full of confidence. It is the same conviction and confidence that will make you admire him when he does Slacklining or when he quit corporate to be a stay at home dad (allowing his wife to pursue her career) or when he empowers his toddler to make her own choices and decisions or when he follow Keto without a single cheat day for more than 6 months and counting (esp with the fact that he is big foodie) 

He is someone who shows you how to Live With Purpose, Conviction, Mindfulness, and Confidence and I am so glad I have these kind of unique friendships to cherish and learn from. 

PS: After chatting on so many topics we forgot to take a pic of ourselves 😒 So I am flicking one pic of this lovely family from FB and look at those smiles 💖


Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Getting real


During the last quarter of 2018, I uninstalled facebook app and also reduced the usage of WhatsApp to minimum. Resisting that temptation to swipe revealed that there is much more to life. So I am planning to continue the practice in the new year too.

 This digital detox also meant I missed out on some of the updates from my friends and connections. That is why I decided to dedicate this year committed to true, organic connection - human connection. Given my introverted nature, this is daunting, but I am planning to take one step at a time. 

For me, at least, there is a huge payback when people smile at each other, tell a story, talk about the day, which is what makes the apps so limiting. Yes it does take an intentional effort, but the energy is so infectious which hiding behind a screen cannot provide.

To make this a committed effort, I am planning to write about the same as I feel everyone has a story waiting to be heard.  I can always make it anonymous or choose not to publish if you are not comfortable about it.  

So are you considering ditching your apps and coming back to real life atleast for an afternoon? Call me then... Let's meet up for a coffee...

P.s : I will figure out the logistics to meet if you are anywhere in India. If abroad, I would like to have a telephonic conversation - not so real but nevertheless better than social media.

Monday, December 31, 2018

A new dawn awaits with new opportunities


It’s the last  day of the year and a time to celebrate how far we have come, reflect on all we have experienced this year.

I feel most of us get emotional at this time of the year, thinking mostly of the lost time or un-fulfilled wishes or the broken resolutions.

 There will definitely be few downers in everyone’s life along with many small small victories to cherish...If you are grieving or hurting, you are not alone..  Be more grateful for everything that you have and also for the life itself... Not everyone who celebrated last year have been this lucky.. 

Forget the bad experiences and start things afresh with new hopes and promises of a better tomorrow, a better future...

Wishing everyone A Great New Year 2019 :)



Saturday, June 17, 2017

10 things that make me happy


I haven’t blogged for a long time and so when I came across this "30 day writing challenge", thought of taking it up. Felt that these exercises will give you a road-map if you like to write but have a resistance sometimes.  I don’t want to force myself just for the sake of writing, so I don’t think I’ll be doing it continuously. However planning to do 3-4 posts per week.
So the first prompt is “10 things that make me happy”
There are many little things that make me happy on a daily basis – a flower that blooms in my garden, the smell of brewing coffee beans, snuggling under the warm blanket on a cold weather, welcoming antics of my dogs when I get back home, getting personal calls/chats/messages, a nice warm hug, the small thin crust pizza from the neighboring pizzeria, popping a bubble wrap and the list goes on... Probably these are the everyday things worth celebrating which we don’t appreciate enough and take them for granted. There are still many more that instantly lifts me up in whichever mood I am in.
So below is my “Cheer Up” list, in no particular order:
1)     Journals and Photographs
I love writing journals and read through them many many years later. It’s so funny to realize how naive you were and how much you and your situations have changed from that. Same way, I can look at the old photographs for hours together and relive those moments in my head. For that matter anything that evokes memories - a handwritten letter, old greeting cards, a gift – all of these evoke a feeling of happiness in my mind.

2)     Smell of rain
I have written this earlier – Rain for me is an emotion. It brings an instant smile to my face. The smell of soil when it first rains, the pitter patter sound, the puddles it leaves behind - everything is just perfect (ok almost. I’m not counting the flooding drains and traffic jam in Bangalore which are more of man-made disasters)

3)     My friends and family
I am the luckiest to have a huge support group of genuine and long standing friends all through my life. Most of my friends are from school time and we are still in touch and share the same bond whichever part of the world we are in. Even in the later life, I have gained quite a few from office, from my travels, from the volunteering organizations I worked and such. It's more like the thin line between friends and family doesn't exist with them. So there's nothing better than meeting up with a few of them for a meal or just a coffee and have a hearty conversation right? And it doesn't even have to be a meet - even a sudden call or a random message from a friend surely makes my day and gives an instant happiness!

4)     Reading a good book
I am not a voracious reader and so it has to be a really good book that can totally immerse me in. That book which I just can't put down, where the characters come alive, where the book-world seems as real as the real world. And finally when I reach that last page; it’s not a happy feeling, it's euphoric. And sometimes it also make me sad that the book is over and there are no more pages to turn over.

5)     Babies
They are ridiculously cute. Aren't they? The chubby little cheeks, twinkling little eyes and the happy little smiles have a certain honesty and a complete sense of innocence that's difficult to find in grown-ups. And I think it’s not just limited to humans, even the antics of baby animals are so adorable. I guess babies represent new hopes, new aspirations and kind of brings in a flood of positivity in everyone.

6)     Nature
Brown Earth, flowing rivers, sprawling mountains, crystal-clear lakes, dense forests, colorful flowers, warmer tones around sunrise and sunset, the ocean waves repeatedly crashing on to the beach – who can resist admiring these beauties. Nature has so much to offer us, if we simply slow down to enjoy it. I will always remember that moment of awe when I stood watching the sunlight leak out through the clouds over the mountains of Chembra Peak in Wayanad, or the way the sunrise turned Mt Neelkanth in Badarinath to a striking shade of gold or the sudden appearance of a double rainbow in front of us during a stroll in the park in Munich. Nothing else has given me as much joy as these small sights and yes it certainly makes me happier, kinder and more creative J

7)     Take Vacations
I can write essays and essays on this topic. Travelling is about gaining new experiences and insights, meeting new people, understanding their culture, admiring the beauty and also challenging our own boundaries. Although I like to plan all the details of my trip to a T, I have experienced that things can take a surprise turn like this. But knowing that whatever happens, you can deal with these situations and that there is a way around the problem is a big boost to self-confidence and happiness. I believe travel can make you a better person than you are today. It helps me to broaden my horizons and adapt a totally global view in everything.

8) Helping someone
    No I'm not talking about giving to charity or volunteering in NGOs. Of-course most of us do that in order to enrich our own lives and boost our self-esteem and yes that also gives happiness in it's own way. But what I am referring to is about doing some kindness for a person sitting next to us that we often ignore - a family member, a stranger, a colleague, our spouse, anyone we come across in our day to day life. It can be as simple as giving a smile and being friendly. Or maybe stopping to help when we see someone pulled over with a flat tyre or teaching a neighborhood grandma to use a computer. If you see someone in grief, comfort  them with a hug or a kind word or just by lending a listening ear. Often someone who is sad, depressed, angry, or frustrated just needs someone who will listen. Just be there, sit with them, talk, help out if you can - it all matters more than we know and make their day a little better.

9) Art and Crafts
     I love making and learning new crafts. It is therapeutic and it has the power to engage me so fully, till I finish the learning part 😑 After that I may not repeat the same again but it's so much fun to explore and try out any new form of art

10) Weekends!
Today is Friday eve and I’m already beaming with happiness 😉 Not sure what is behind this feeling - is it the possibility of that extra sleep or the opportunity to laze around or having enough time to pursue your creative ventures? Anyways it can definitely help boost my mood

Friday, November 11, 2016

Remembering the journey



Most of my blogger friends are celebrating their blog's 10th anniversary and I see many blogging marathons happening in the blogosphere. For me, my blogger profile says I've been on Blogger since December 2004, so technically it's my 12th anniversary as a blogger. But since most of my previous blogging trials were short-lived I can claim only the last ten years ;) 

Oct 7th 2006 was 
when I started this blog and it took me a couple of months to gather the courage to make this public. When I started I thought it's going to be my private diary, just me and my thoughts, and no one will read it. But over a period of time, I got so many friends here and even though the blogging frequency reduced, the friends remained. So I just wanted to acknowledge the space and the support I got from here.

Ten years

We keep saying "time flies" but I really can't believe it's been ten years. 
An entire decade has whizzed by!!  This chapter of my life has been...everything -  wonderful, exciting, scary, insecure, confusing, fuzzy and heartwarming. It's certainly been the most intense decade of my life. And I am grateful for all of it - the buzzing highs, shattering lows and everything in between.

So many things changed - my environment, my life, my outlook, my job, even places I lived. Along with all these changes even my blog, the frequency in which I write, my tone of writing all changed. But I also realized that beyond all these superficial changes, there is me that doesn’t change. Come to think of it, our blog is our virtual home right? At some point in the chaotic life, you have had enough and you choose to leave it behind to explore other things that lies beyond. And after some time you miss the home and want to come back. But sometimes when you have packed your bags and said your goodbyes it gets difficult to do that... 

Anyways I am so grateful for the connections I have made through this little space in the internet. Without this blog, I wouldn't have had a way into your home and life and you wouldn't have had a way into mine. You are all part of my extended family and I am touched that you have ventured over to this space, read what I wrote, and connected with me.

And I appreciate YOU!

Your comments help me to know you more. I know there are many anonymous readers. Tell me who you are and why you are here. Even why you like reading my blog and what do you want to read about will be an icing on the cake. If not just say a Hi
Won't you?

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Onam - Opening the Treasure Chest of Memories



Another Onam has gone past and for me it is a festival that evokes so many memories; some very nostalgic and some bittersweet. Like in most Kerala Hindu households, we celebrate only two main festivals in a year - Onam and Vishu. In both these, the highlight was the kodi or new dress as those days’ new dresses where limited only to these festive occasions and the lip smacking sadhya in a plantain leaf. And of-course Onam used to be tad more favorite coz of the 10 days of school vacation after the first term 'Onam Examinations'.

During my childhood, the first activity related to Onam used to be preparing of pookkalam (floral carpet) early morning on a small cow dung smeared patch in the yard. All the flowers came from our garden itself and the variety of designs used to be in the colors of flowers and leaves used. After the exams when the vacation starts, the designs became more grand and intricate.  There were also the small local kids groups who used to do the Kummatikali and Puli kali. They move from house to house collecting money and amusing children. And temple visit was mandatory on Thiruvonam day.

When I moved to the city for work, the pookkalam decors were limited to the office ones during the customary Onam celebrations. Where else to find a cow dung smeared yard or a backyard to pluck flowers? And I was not in favor of store brought flowers for a ritual that was originally meant for integrating humans with nature. Every year a visit to home was mandatory as amma was very particular about the family to be together at least for Thiruonam which was the main festival day. I used to enjoy these visits as I always felt the high-spirited people of Kerala celebrated Onam with gaiety and fervor. So there used to be high energy in the air during this time in Kerala. During my travels in train, I used to enjoy looking at the different pookkalams in front of the houses and the happy kids playing. The landscape itself would have turned fully green with blooms all around. The heavy monsoon would have given way to an occasional drizzle as if to keep the atmosphere cool. The Nila on the way used to be full only in this season and would give a loud echo as train passed through. The markets and cloths shops would be crowded and some onam fairs/melas would be seen everywhere.
   
I remember for one Onam when I couldn't take leave, acchan and amma travelled to Bangalore. That was the first time they had come to blr in the entire seven years’ timeframe I was here and it was the last Onam together for us as a family. They stayed for a month where we went for some site seeing which was again a first except may be some temple visits. Three months later acchan passed away.  Next Onam was difficult without acchan, but I didn't want amma to be alone on an Onam day either. So as was the tradition, went home and that's when amma first complained of her chest pain. So despite being the Thiruvonam day I took her to hospital and though the junior doctor doubted some variations in ECG, the senior doctor told that it is fine and she just needs to come for regular checkups. On hindsight, I feel I should have waited for one more day for the hospital visit as doctors also might have been in a hurry to join their family on this festive day.  Unfortunately the junior doctor's diagnosis was correct and amma joined acchan the very next week. Onams after that was literally a nightmare although I kept coming back to an empty house and made the sadhya all alone year after year. After my marriage I couldn't continue as my in-laws felt going to an empty house for Onam was not required (which was logical), but the very thought that the house is silent and locked for Onam gave me heartaches but I didn't have a choice.

So this year, it felt so surreal to be back in a lively livable house for Onam after almost a decade. It was so fulfilling to walk on the familiar streets, the buzzing market places, to visit the neighborhood temple, or just be in the Thrissur round watching the Puli kali procession. Onam has changed in a huge manner over the years and there won't be any going back. Almost all traditional flowers in pookkalams has given way to market bought ones which are cultivated exclusively for Onam season, Onakkodi has lost it's significance as now we buy new dresses without any occasion, home-made sadhya is slowly giving way to ready-made ones, Onam family gatherings are giving way to club celebrations , traditional onam games are almost extinct and the biggest entertainment seems to be the 'beverages'. Now a days I hardly see any Kummatti groups coming to houses and even Pulikali seems to have gone the commercial way. Nila has remained dry even this season which indicates the severe damage we have done to the nature and although originally a harvest festival, not many families are into agriculture and so nothing to harvest and 'buying' is the new norm. But as they say sometimes you will never know the true value of A Moment until it becomes a Memory... So just wanted to cherish these moments and record it before it fades away from my memory.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Live your best life


Few days back was Women’s Day and it came with all the bells and whistles and everyone was so compelled to say or do something that acknowledged the day. I guess as soon as the clock stuck midnight, women got back to their favorite game of juggling – cooking, cleaning, laundry etc. at home or if at work – calls, meetings, mails and the innumerable to do lists. And the worst part is she is always guilt ridden and has this fear of being a bad mother/wife/daughter even if she is doing things much better than her men counterparts. Funny thing is I don’t understand why people think 15% discount in the neighborhood beauty parlor or playing a women only game can empower women!!!  Same way I don’t understand how men and women can be equal when our physical attributes, sensibilities inclinations and emotions are so very different! Anyways that's for another time.

Now I just felt like jotting down these points which I felt is important to move ahead when women get hit by emotional exhaustion (yeh most women do). Maybe a few applies to men as well J

1)     Discover yourself
This is definitely the toughest challenge in life for anyone. Take some time and think about the things that you really like to do, things you used to enjoy, your hobbies, your heart’s desires, goals and dreams. If we are spending too much time to fit into everyone else’s perception, we will eventually forget who we really are. So, by all means, be a good daughter/wife/friend/mother; but be yourself and realize your own potential first.
As they say, you are responsible for the talent that has been entrusted to you.

2)     Overcome your fears
Everyone has their fears, their weaknesses and their selfishness in spite of how much experience, talent or confidence they have. Let it be..  Just go out of your comfort zone, start something new, take risk and do something that you have never done before. 
Remember the quote: ’’Today’’ is what you did and thought yesterday, and ’’tomorrow’’ is what you do and think today

3)     Keep your old friends
I have felt that staying connected to people from my past is an important happiness booster. In each stage of our lives, we would have had great friends and great experiences, but when we move to the next stage, we find it difficult to stay connected to them. It is sad that usually in the hierarchy of relationships, we keep friendships at the bottom. Family, children, romantic partner all these comes first. But remember good friends are hard to come by. So don’t lose one just because we are lazy and egoistic to get in touch.

4)     Learn to Relax
Probably most of the women especially the perfectionists find it very difficult. There is no need to micromanage every single thing happening around us (unless it is rocket science). Few unfolded clothes or untidy dishes will not bring the world down. So accept things as they are and let go of your expectations. We can’t move on if we are stressed about little things all the time and don’t know how to relax.

5)     Be kind
Open your heart through acts of caring and compassion for both nature and all of humanity. It can be a small gesture as simple as a warm smile to a stranger, a kind word or positive remark to the office boy, a pat on the head for a street dog. We never know what kind of day that person is having and that smile might just make their day a whole lot nicer.
And, No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.


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