December 5, 2013

Goodbye to a friend

It had only been a short while that they had known him, maybe 8 months at best. Their interactions weren't lengthy either. The exchanges were mostly filled with the innocence of childish banter and the tolerance and understanding of age. She felt that both young and old looked forward to that brief, not so frequent exchange. It seemed to bring them momentary happiness.

Until one day when he was no more.

She had to answer some tough questions from the young. How, when, where, what and so on. They surprised her with their understanding. And with their affection. She didn't think they would make so much sense of it and be so in tune with others feelings and emotions. But they were, each in their own way. One, just sensitive and the other, mostly curious but glaringly honest.

That's the thing with children. It's hard to know the depth of what they understand-about people, situations and just life even. She was caught off-guard but in a good way.

She hoped that their sensitivity, curiosity and honesty would remain with them life-long. Who said those things are only reserved for children?

July 16, 2013

A Princess's new clothes!

"Tell your daughter she's a warrior, detective, leader, athletic, determined, curious, free-spirited..." read a quote on Facebook. The title of the image? 10+ alternatives to calling your daughter a princess.

This hit home immediately for two reasons. One, her daughter hated the word princess and any association to it and two, she herself, having been a tad tomboyish, had always been anti-princessy. The quote made her wonder what exactly it was that she didn't like about the concept of princesses. Was it the frilly dresses, the many hues of pink, the sparkles, the tiaras, the concept of having to always look well put-together? Or was it all of it?

She, like all other kids her age, had read fairy tales galore growing up. Princesses stuck in a tall tower, princes on steeds coming to the rescue and then living happily ever after...those types of stories. And even ones such as The Little Mermaid, Rapunzel, Cinderella, Snow White and so on but one thing that struck her was that these characters weren't classified into the Princesses 'bucket' then as they are nowadays.

The marketing geniuses putting their spin on simple characters who were cool, spunky, creative and what not. Maybe it was Disney who began this grouping...she wasn't sure. She had always wondered why there weren't new-age princesses who wore jeans, tees, caps, played sports and slapped boys on the back. Maybe there were movies made about girls who were like that, except they weren't called princesses.

She wondered if her daughter wondered the same.

Genetics is an interesting subject. Like there is for appearance and for characteristics, is there a genetic code for attitudes or does a child learn by simple observations and interactions with their peers, family and society? Hmm...interesting. Wouldn't that mean that a part of what our 'princesses' learn about being a princess comes from us and the surrounding that we expose them to?It isn't just words we say from quotes on Facebook, is it?

She wished that life were simpler. She wished that the world wasn't so filled with the norm. She wished that it wasn't so hard to explain that it was OK to be different.

Maybe she would write about a jeans-clad, spunky, cool, sporty, creative, kind, affectionate, helpful, free-spirited leader...called Princess...just to shake things up a bit, you know?

May 31, 2013

Size doesn't matter!

Yeah, that's right. It might be small, it might seem not-so-powerful, it might seem a pushover but it's bright, slick and packs a punch! Like a wise person said, "It's not the size that counts, it's the spirit"!

Here's to good times, independence and freedom. On long drives, I mean ;).

April 17, 2013


One hand steered the wheel while the other did the rest – switched gears, collected money, handed back change, gave out tickets and brushed off the occasional stray-away hair that fell on his ‘tilak-clad’ forehead. All with that same practiced smooth motion. It was an almost-rehearsed rhythmic sequence of events that hinted at the repetitive, somewhat monotonous nature of his job.  

Driving a bus around Bangalore was no joke. Throw in a bus with just one door for entry & exit and no conductor to man the people-traffic? No joke at all! At the best of times when traffic was lean, maybe he flashed a wry smile. Most of the time however, he was probably at his grumpy efficient best. He had to be. For he was a multi-tasker, juggler, acrobat, artist – all of it rolled in one.

To think that we use the term Superhero for heroes that rescue their lady loves from hanging buses.

April 10, 2013

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger!

The best and worst of people come shining through when times are tough. Her experience over the last few months simply validated this thought over and over again. Putting herself in the other person’s shoes wasn't easy but she had tried to in order to be somewhat objective about her experience. She felt strongly that the other perspective, however warped it might seem to her at the moment, had to be considered.

And so she did but try as she might, she couldn’t relate to it. She couldn’t relate to the harshness. She couldn’t relate to the coldness. She couldn’t relate to the anger. She couldn’t relate to the thoughtlessness. She couldn’t relate to the pretense...pretense relating to people that they both loved. She couldn’t relate to the ego and how it was taking over judgement and reason. She couldn’t relate to the convenient forgetfulness…of the past that had got them to where they were today.

There was a lot that she couldn’t relate to…and it had been that way for a long time. ‘Once upon a time’ was a distant memory and she was glad for that. Glad that at the end of it all, she would come out stronger, tougher and smarter. She had learned enough valuable life lessons to pass on…and pass on she would, for the future should know. The future shouldn’t have to experience the same. She knew that she had no control over that. All she could control was how she would be with them. Honest, open and forthcoming…about all of it…like she had been all along.

With them…the ones who mattered.

March 21, 2013

March 7, 2013

Full circle

Life comes full circle at times…often when you least expect it. 

That was the predominant thought in her mind when she got into the car that morning. She was reminded of days from her past…days where she rushed to get ready and run out to work, days where she cussed while on the road and days when she just missed her train or bus and had to wait another 20 minutes before the next connection. But she also remembered the days that it all clicked and went like clockwork, days where she had the best naps while commuting after a hard day’s work, days where she would chit chat with other regulars, many of whom she didn't even know by name and days where she felt fulfilled and just happy.

Those days had started again for her…

:) :) :) :)

March 5, 2013

A preachy post - I've warned you!

The planet does not need more successful people. It desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds.

I've read this quote a few times before on Facebook. Many people post this on their wall because it resonates with them...the thought that we can actually be something other than "successful"...whatever that means anyway. But the problem is how we convey that message to our children, isn't it?  We want our children to be all of the above but we also want them to be successful in the version of success that we are all familiar where success equals money and financial stability. Maybe a "high-profile job"....something that we can talk to others about, something we can be proud about. Maybe the next hot-shot entrepreneur with the most brilliant idea since sliced bread. Whatever.

And in order to put them on this path to success, we start them off really young too. Extra academics-related classes, competitions, exams outside of school and a host of activities to hone their minds in that singular path towards greatness and spectacular achievement. And we long for them to make us proud, all the while telling ourselves that we are doing it for their benefit. We are exposing them to things that we never had access to. We are making sure that their all-round development is on track...except it's not their chosen track, is it? It's ours! It's our dream for our children and in order to fulfill that dream, we say and do a lot of things to them...for them. We justify to ourselves that the end result is what matters, that our children will thank us some day for what we've invested in them...for what we've put them through.

But what if they don't? What if they felt that we've robbed them of their childhood in so many ways? What if they felt that we failed to expose them to things that matter to them? What if they felt that we forced them to do things that they never wanted to? What if they felt that we didn't listen to them at all? What if they felt that we never bothered to take the time to answer their matter what their questions might have been? What if they felt that the path that they are on, the one that we chose for them, was wrong?

What if they felt that their version of success isn't what we thought it was? Would it be too late?

As much as we can blame the system of education, we must share an equal, if not a greater part of the blame. We are afraid to let children do what they want because we were never allowed to. We are afraid to let them question because we may not have the answers. We are afraid that they might be outcasts in society because they do not conform. We are afraid to let them express themselves because their views might be different from ours. We are afraid to just let them be, learn at their pace, try out new things, make many their lives!

The dearth of peacemakers, restorers, healers, storytellers and lovers is bound to only worsen should we continue down this path...the path that teaches us that smarter is better, that stronger always wins, that richer means control...that success means money and what money can buy.

Imagine that we just let our children be...

February 27, 2013

Vishwaroopam - thoughts and things

I don't watch many movies but I've seen my share of good, bad and horrid (what, you thought I was going to say ugly?!). I don't read reviews and I haven't written many either save for this and this. After all the hype surrounding Vishwaroopam, I decided that I must not only watch it but also write about it at some point. So here goes....a couple of weeks after the experience.

My overall take - the movie was awesome! Well-made and good time-pass especially if you like dishum dishum type of films. The plot, as predictable as it was, was well executed. The action scenes and stunts were really Hollywood-like and not Vijaykanth-movie-like (where bombs go off all around him and he comes out unscathed, or when he stays in the air for minutes kicking those around him while all the time defying the laws of gravity). The first half hour had me in splits but I think you have to be a Tam Brahm to appreciate a lot of it :). The soundtrack was really good - the only full-length song in the film was very well done. Kamal's mastery of music and dance and the interest he takes in researching every single thing to death shows clearly (as always).

Now to the controversial aspects of the film...I don't know anything about Muslim customs and practices. So I did not understand the significance of the shaving of body hair, doing the namaz or any other custom before a suicide mission. If I were a staunch Muslim, then maybe I would have taken offense to it simply because of the casualness with which it is portrayed. There is an implication that it is a norm of sorts, which would make not-very-informed audiences assume certain things about Islam and Muslims itself on a larger scale that is totally unfair. So it's understandable that there was an public outcry but I'm not sure if I agree with the extremeness of it...for two reasons.

One - Movies are a form of art and expression. They should be seen objectively and within the context of the whole. Would this movie have had such an impact on people if Al-Qaeda hadn't been mentioned? If Osama hadn't been shown? If Afghanistan wasn't the battleground? If so much attention to detail hadn't been paid? I'm not so sure. There have been similar-themed movies in the recent past and none took the kind of beating that this one did.

Two - Religion tends to evoke certain responses in individuals. A lot of this is our own beliefs, our own staunchness, if you will, in our views...the feeling that mine isn't that bad and yours is the same or possibly worse if you look at it relative to one another. Those for whom religion (any religion) isn't so important, can maybe view all this very objectively...simply look at it for what it is. A movie...some entertainment...and nothing more. So a large part of this is us...and our inner-most feelings on sensitive subjects coming out as a reaction. Add some politics to this and one person's reaction becomes a nation's outcry and the censor board's pet project.

My conclusion - objectivity is the need of the hour...and not just for movies or movie reviews. :)

February 24, 2013

Qs but not As

What do you do when you realize some things...about yourself, about other people, about your reactions to things, about certain triggers? Like you know that something's going to happen and you know how you're going to react to it even before the event has fully played out. You know it...yet you can't stop it....or you can't change the way you react. Why is that? Why is it so hard to just let some things just be? Why is it so hard to give up that feeling of being in control? Why is it that we end up having expectations of people as we get to know them better? Why is it that they don't react in the way that we want them to? Why does it feel like justification and validity to statements are directly related?

Why aren't there clear answers to so many things? 

February 15, 2013

The thoughtful boy

He always amazed her with his answers...always! And it wasn't like he had to have the last word or anything, it was just the way he talked. There was a bit of truth, a bit of cheek, a bit of impishness and a whole lot of that lovableness all the time. OK, maybe she was extra biased...but still. And that smile...that wide, ear-to-ear toothy grin that made it impossible for her to stay grumpy at him for more than a few minutes!

So the other day, he was having dinner. It was the usual, so there was no fuss or drama. He ate what he liked and that's it. But he was being a tad messy...dropping food on the table mat and the floor. So she said to him, "Please don't keep dropping your dinner on the floor. Ants will start crawling all over the place". He just looked at her and simply said "But amma, if I don't give the ants something to eat, they will be hungry. I don't want them to be hungry. Is that OK? Say OK"!

Innocence, honesty....the beauty of it. Oh, and the art of charming people! Another lesson learned, yet again, from an almost-five year old!

February 11, 2013

Revisits and regrets

We all do it...revisiting events, that is. We revisit memories, revisit incidents...revisit the past in any which way we can. Sometimes, the revisits are intended...mostly when the memories are good. But many a time, unintended revisits happen due to random triggers. Dates, people, places, foods, smells, occasions, outfits, conversations...just about anything!

An intentional revisit is just great, isn't it? It can be both happy or sad but the reason you revisit it is because that particular event or memory is special in some way. But what do you do when you revisit something unintentionally, whether happy or sad? Do you recall the moments that got you there? Or do you push them out of your mind hoping that you will forget them if you try hard enough? Surely, all those moments couldn't have been that bad! You wouldn't have got there otherwise, would you?

"Life is a journey, not a destination". I'm not sure who said that but I believe that. If you didn't experience the things that you did, then you wouldn't be the person that you are. Someone else said "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened".

It's not easy...most definitely not. But through the smiles and the tears, you learn to remember...and to not regret.

February 2, 2013

It takes all sorts

A lady constantly checking her watch,
A young girl trying to get phone signal,
A child restless to ride her tricycle,
Another tossing about a paper plane much to everyone's annoyance,
A couple exchanging coy looks,
An old man with a grocery bag,
A maid waiting to spit out her paan,
A puppy that needs to pee
And a stalled elevator.


Just's OK! Look around, learn something new, talk to strangers, make friends, help someone...and be patient. It takes all sorts to make up this world. You'll never find out if you don't take the time, take a break, take a few seconds off ... even if it's forced! 

January 30, 2013

Time, moments and everything in between

Here's a post from around the same time last year. Not sure why but this post is inspired by time as well. Something to do with the time of year maybe.

A year seems like a long time - twelve whole months, fifty two full weeks and three hundred and sixty five (and a quarter) days. It sounds like a lot and maybe it is. But sometimes, you wonder where it all went and how it went by so quickly. Do you wonder what you did with all that time? Whether you used it well or if you wasted it? Whether you remember it well or if you'd rather forget? Whether you made a difference or if you went with the flow? Whether you felt alive or if you just lived?

There are so many quotes about time...most that talk about time's transient nature. But what about moments in time? Everyone has moments...and moments! Moments you wish had happened, maybe a little sooner even. Moments you wish hadn't, whether sooner or later. Moments that are etched so clearly and moments that fade even as they happen. Moments you treasure and moments you bury.

Will time help separate these moments?
Is time the illusion that Einstein said it is?
Will time heal, like they say it does?
Can time wait just a bit to let you be?

January 28, 2013

A different perspective

It was the same space...the same four walls...or was it fourteen? Or forty? Everything seemed different, every movement seemed deliberate! Every corner seemed sharper, every angle felt more pronounced. The lights were brighter, the touch was firmer, the senses...more heightened? She closed her eyes but opened them immediately! She didn't want to miss out on the moments of clarity! She heard them clearly...flitting and floating out of her head...clearly! And yet, she was feeling a bit numb. Not numb...but just a bit like she wasn't in it fully. Even so, she floated in and out of this space, going about her routine, making sure that things were getting done, making sure that nothing was out of place, making sure that all was OK.

It was a good space to be in. A space that was warm, a space that was welcoming, a space that made her calm, a space that was filled with love, a space that filled her with love! Smiles, faces, voices...that's all mattered. That feeling of security that only comes when the heart is happy...when the mind is calm...when the body is relaxed...and open to experiences.

Yoga? You betcha!

January 23, 2013

The Cute Whisperers

It was her favorite time of day. Time when they were done with bath, dinner and drama. Time for games of some sort...different ones every night. Time for stories, both from books and from their imagination, school experiences and park escapades. Finally, time for them to begin winding down. It was a long process...but they would slowly get there. This was when she would make her exit. This was the part that she loved...when they thought that they were alone and that she couldn't hear them. When they would begin their whispers.

It started off with a sssshhh, pssssstt, hhhheyyyyy from up above and would be followed by a fingers-in-mouth response from below that sounded like a duck quacking. Only she understood what he meant...but that was good enough. 'Amma, sleep, play, ssssshhhhhhh, school tomorrow, snacks, chocolates, trains, I'll tell you something, I won't share with you' were some of the constants in their conversations. 

She always tried to make sense of it from where she sat on the outside but never could. She often wondered if she should go a little closer so she could hear better, maybe a little clearer...but she never did. She felt like she would be intruding into their space. A space that was reserved for only both of them, a space where they felt safe, comfortable and confident to say anything they each other. 

A space that she hoped they would share lifelong...her two cute whisperers.

January 22, 2013

The (wo)man in the mirror

Everyone's heard the song...everyone knows the lyrics. But does everyone or even anyone do what they sing out loud...start with themselves to make a change? What's change, anyway? How can we make the world a better place? Is it just by our actions? Can it not be our reactions? To things, people...situations? Everyone is so quick to judge another...everyone! Especially so when a situation arises where you find someone else in a spot that you might actually be in. Rather than empathize or even just stay quiet, we opine. An opinion, which for the most part, isn't even based on any knowledge or understanding of the situation. It's just immediate reaction, even.

But it does so much to the person who is on the receiving end. So much! It makes them think, makes them wonder, makes them question, sometimes even makes them doubt! Yet, we all do it...time and again. Pass judgement, form an opinion, take a side, make a decision. For what? Is it because we are so comfortable in our own world and in our own surroundings that we feel a sense of security (even if it's false) and have to display that to others? Is it to show to whoever cares to notice that we are secure in the things that seemingly matter to us, even if it isn't really so? Or is it to allay our own put at rest that nagging thought that something might be wrong?

Start with yourself...make a change...the person in the mirror is all that matters. Try, at least! Or maybe not, for a wise person once said, "No! Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try".