Thursday, December 5, 2013

Peccadillos





Friends, I have had many over the years. Some have drifted away, some passed away and with some I still bond. But, when I think of friends who have been partners in crime; well that’s another story. My friend and partner in crime was always my elder brother. Through our schooling years we had our share of adventures and were thick as thieves, we had each other’s back and we never tattled to our parents.
 
The scariest adventure, looking back over more than five decades, was when we went fishing for a whale. If it were make believe, it would have been quite in place, but we were not just the day dreaming kind of children. We dreamed and we set out to make it possible. So armed with a thin fishing line and the biggest fishing hook, which was about two inches perhaps, we were ready for our Moby Dick.

 It was a humid summer afternoon. No one goes out voluntarily on a hot Indian summer afternoon, which was why a girl and boy aged six and nine respectively, slinked out to get the biggest catch anyone could get with a thin fishing line and a two-inch hook. Of course, I was the girl and my brother was the boy. We jumped out of our bedroom window after making sure both mum and dad were asleep. I wasn’t sure where we were going, but I always followed the leader. That day my brother led me to the big bridge, that spanned a channel of the backwaters, and joined the island we lived on with the mainland. It was a big bridge with a highway and a rail track running on it.

 I was excited and felt like I was finally on a real adventure. My brother scrambled up an iron ladder that led into the underbelly of the bridge. I felt my legs begin to tremble. I knew it was fear but wild dogs wouldn’t drag that admission out of me. I stood rooted to the spot and looked up with a silly grin on my face.

 “Come on. Don’t stand there gaping like an idiot,” said the leader impatiently.

 I wasn’t so sure I wanted to follow the leader up there. But I couldn’t figure out how to wriggle out of that situation without confessing that I was scared. My brother turned and started walking away. I looked around at the deserted place and decided it was less scary to be with him than alone down there, besides who wanted to miss the joy of hooking a whale. I took hold of the rusty ladder and laboriously made my way up. Whatever elation I felt at achieving that feat dissipated when I saw what lay before me. I gulped. I was caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. My brother was about fifteen or twenty feet ahead of the abutment, standing on a narrow walkway about a foot wide. I was trembling from head to toe and I didn’t have to say a word, my fear was written all over my face. I felt like a condemned pirate walking the plank. I spread my arms like a bird in flight as I took one shaky step and then another. But unlike a bird in flight my extended arms helped to keep me, balanced, on the narrow path, as I made my extremely slow progress towards my brother. He looked back at me and I glanced down. A long way down, the waves with their frothy rims threatened to swallow me. I swayed and there was a loud warning shout.

 “Don’t look down.” I jerked my head up eyes wide with fright staring straight at my brother. “Okay, don’t walk. Go back and sit at the top of ladder,” he said with a hint of contempt. I was behaving like a ‘sissy’ and that was unbearable not only for him but for me too. But I was frightened out of my wits and didn’t mind being a ‘sissy.’ I decided to turn back. That was impossible. Manoeuvring into a turn made my head spin. I was stuck. I couldn’t go forward and I couldn’t turn back. I looked at my brother helplessly. He had put the bait on the hook and was rolling the line into a ball, which he then put into his pocket, with the hook end hanging out. We didn’t even have a makeshift rod! He was preparing to jump from the walkway onto the girders on the side of the bridge. That was some distance for a boy his age and not a tall one either. If he didn’t get a grip he’d plummet down. For a moment there I forgot my predicament as I shouted, “Don’t!” It was too late he was already airborne, and in a split second had grabbed the girder and was positioning himself securely with a leg in the right place, his foot against a beam, pushing his back firmly against another flat beam. He looked at me grinning like a chimp. It was too much for me. I lowered myself slowly onto the walkway, clutched the sides tightly with two small hands, and sat astride.

 As the great fisherman unwrapped his twine and I exhaled a big sigh of relief, I realised I felt more secure sitting astride than doing a balancing act like a circus gymnast. My brother whirled the hook adeptly and threw it. It didn’t go far. By then I was pulling myself along the walkway quite fearlessly and had reached where he was. I began to offer my suggestions.... “Roll out more twine”.....”Mind your foot doesn’t slip”....... “Do you think there are whales here?”

 “Keep quiet. You’re disturbing me.”
 
I shut up.

 If I had prepared myself for a long wait, especially after all that drama and effort, I was soon to find myself in the dumps. The fishing spree ended abruptly and unceremoniously with the hook and line sinking into the sea. In an effort to draw more twine, so that the hook would get into the water, the ball of twine fell out of my brother’s hands. Actually that was the only way the hook was ever going to get into the sea. We never had that length of twine. If we had, I am quite convinced, we would have caught Moby Dick!

 My fearless brother made a jump back to the walkway. Another heart-in-the-throat moment and he was hanging with his arms around the beam. Without a hitch, he pulled himself on top. My turn around didn’t go that smoothly, but I managed to follow the step by step instructions my brother called out and soon I was pulling-sliding, pulling-sliding my way back to the top of the rusty ladder.

 We managed to slip back through the window, and get into bed without a squeak. When mummy came to wake us for tea, she wouldn’t have imagined how close she came to losing us. A small slip and our adventure would have ended in tragedy. But, this is what memories are made of. As a mother, I am glad my sons aren’t such daredevils who throw caution to the wind. As a friend and a sibling, I cherish those moments and tomboyish peccadillos with my brother without regret.
 
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Friday, September 27, 2013

In The Driver's Seat



For years, ever since I could stand on my two, little toddler's feet, I have travelled comfortably ensconced in the backseat. And I was not a backseat driver either! That doesn't mean I had no voice, or that I didn't use the voice I had. However the fact that I had a voice and voiced my opinions didn't put me in the driving seat, simply because I knew what I felt, but I didn't feel what I said. No hypocrisy there, no double standards, just plain lack of confidence in my own abilities. Always an iota of doubt that kept me from taking the reins on my own. I needed a crutch all the time. Please do note, in my favour, I did not use the plural of crutch. I walked but with a limp. If I drove I would be a leg too short for the accelerator and the brake. It wouldn't be an ideal situation; I would be on a crash course all the time, literally. So though being in the driver's seat would have been the right thing, I lacked the right leg and the related right push to drive myself. My confidence limped!
 
 
I was and still am a dreamer. I dreamed big, I worked hard, and I fought harder to release myself from my insecurities; from my crutch. I lost every battle. There were only a few who encouraged me...my father and some friends. The ratio of encouragers and discouraging factors was certainly not in my favour, and didn't give me the requisite support I needed and I required more than an awful lot. I tended to see myself through other people's eyes, which is the worst thing to do, and there were more negatives than positives. Though I did believe the positive feedback, the majority's attitude always swung me back and forth like a pendulum between doubt and belief. My confidence was in place but it was fragile; handle with care fragile. It didn't take more than a tiny pebble to send it crashing.
 
 
There comes a time for those who dream to realize their fondest desires. There comes a time for those who wish to fly to spread their wings and jump off the cliff. There comes a time when destiny calls for you to step out of the boat and walk on water. There comes a time to strengthen your faith and put it into action. There comes a time when you have to pay dearly, sometimes, to walk alone without a crutch. My time came too.
 
 
My world crashed. My crutch with it too. I had two options; become fully lame or walk on my two feet. I was on the brink of something new, something unknown. Should I be scared and cower under the covers or should I take a leap of faith?  It was the worst nightmare of a fragile, china doll dreamer. I had a month to decide...a twenty eight day month...I didn't even get a thirty-one day month! I made my choice.
 

Within three months I was in the driver's seat. Ignorant, nervous, scared, anxious, incompetent and very insecure. I didn't know the rules, I lacked practical experience and I was totally unaware of unruly drivers on this highway called life. This is when the weaker me began to grow stronger. Through all the fears, one rose dominant and petrifying: the fear that I would not be able to protect, fend for and educate my children. This seemingly crippling emotion worked as my strongest motivator. All the hidden strengths surfaced: determination, perseverance, resilience, faith, hope and love. I was in the driving seat. My seatbelt was trust, the airbags were faith and God was my driving instructor! I had my share of bumps and dents, scrapes and near head-on collisions. I guess I had shifted gears too soon. I had moved from not confident to over-confident too fast and I became too self-assured for my own safety.  But I had a teachable spirit; one that learned lessons, sometimes the hard way! But all things considered I had an enriching long drive, in the driver's seat for twenty-one years, on the highway called life.
 
 
But all things come to an end, period.
 
 
Do all things come to an end, period? As it is written, God opens doors and shuts doors. So when one door closes another opens and vice versa. Well, my licence to drive has expired. That's a closed door. Will it be renewed or is it time to relax and enjoy the luxury of travelling in a chauffeur driven automobile? I am an incorrigible dreamer. I still have some dreams to realize, and whether this is one of them or not is immaterial, what matters is: I dream and I hope. I not only live, I am alive. This time round, sitting in the backseat will be different. It will be just that, a literal thing, not an analogy of my life!
 
I wouldn't mind being driven in one of these...I can dream, yes?



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Monday, September 23, 2013

I Forgot The Sugar...the tea-(cher) and the taught!

Photo by zirconicusso, FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Some days back I forgot the sugar, the sweetness that enhances the flavour of my morning ginger tea. No big deal, really. I am absent-minded and do silly, even stupid things when I'm elsewhere in my mind than where I should be. What made it a point of focus is that I had put someone in the dock...yes, that early in the morning...and was judging and criticizing, not constructively but just to let off steam. Some emotions were festering within due to someone's overbearing nature, bad attitude and arrogance. I believe letting off steam is alright. One has to release the pressure, but without passing judgment and hanging tags around the offender's neck...and definitely not as soon as one's feet hit the floor at the start of day. I mean I was shocked that I was (unconsciously) carrying malignant feelings about someone, somewhere, who did not influence my life in a major way, or play even a minor role in my development and growth. And yet, here I was allowing negative emotions to give freeway to the person to steal my joy...take away the sweet enjoyment of my everyday life. In other words I was focussing on the person and not the act. Now that's a no-no where I'm concerned. To learn, I confine my thoughts to what (the act or words) rather than who (person) as focussing on the person doesn't benefit in any way. And this was highlighted by my own run-away emotions. My unbridled mind and a cup of unsweetened tea taught me a valuable lesson that day.

Life Point:
When you allow bitterness from resentment to poison your mind and heart, you forget the sugar. You lose your sweetness; in your nature, thoughts, actions and life in general. You lose your joy and peace. Like the ginger tea without sugar my thoughts were sharp, pungent and not me. The 'I' or 'what about me' attitude had overpowered my heart and almost succeeded in poisoning my day.


Another lesson was re-enforced too: "Take it to the Lord in prayer." By taking it to His throne, I was given insight. I saw how I could forget to add sugar when I concentrated on being offended. I had shifted to resenting a person rather than learning a positive lesson from a negative action or attitude.


On a lighter note I also learned that when life throws you lemons, add a slice or two to your sweet tea, it makes a delectable blend of flavour!

Photo by Marcus/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Come September!





Come September, I can never resist humming the tune made famous by the Ventures, it was the theme of the movie, Come September. Well, not throughout the month, just when the 1st comes up on the calendar! Then there are days in the month that remind me of daddy, David, and my former students and colleagues. September is a month for reminiscing.


September meant cooler weather, perhaps a few autumn showers; a prelude to winter, but that was before I made my journey to the other side of the globe. It's a complete turn around where I am now. We're heading into warmer weather, longer days and yes, Spring! Summer will be upon us before we can say Christmas! A summer Christmas, is going to be a first for me. I am not sure I am too pleased about that. All my life I have celebrated Christmas in Winter. There's something about winter that makes X-mas so much more beautiful. Since I have no idea what a hot Summer Christmas is like, I don't fancy it. Maybe it's because I imagine an Indian summer in Delhi, which is so terrible. But I'm open to it. I am keen to experience a Christmas sans coats, mufflers, scarves, gloves, caps, heaters, warm fires, glowing embers and icy winds. I guess I'll be keeping cool instead of warm this Christmas. And that sounds cool!


September had always been a special month of celebrations for me. The 5th of September is marked as Teacher's Day. It commemorates Dr S Radhakrishnan's birthday. He was the first vice-president of India. As a student or a teacher, it meant grand celebrations and felicitations for us at school. The celebrations carried on at home as well with a big dinner party to felicitate David, it was his birthday too and he loved to celebrate it. On the 15th Daddy's birthday came up. For me these dates were and still remain very special. The men I celebrated have long since passed on to the other side, but their impact on my life has been so great that these days hold significance even now.


My father: Jason James (left) and David (right)



These two were the only men who mattered to me. They got along famously, like father and son: one my father and the other the father of my sons. They will be my heroes always. They weren't supermen. They had their flaws and were very human, but they played pivotal roles in my life. I was seventeen when I first met David. So, I literally grew up with him.  And Daddy provided the motivation and inspiration that spurred me on. So September is their month.

 


To my father, who was my first teacher, to my teachers in the various schools I've studied at, I say: Thank you! I cannot let any Teacher's Day pass without a special mention of Mr Mohanlal Kakkar and Mrs Jolly. I am eternally indebted to Mr Kakkar, my teacher and mentor in my senior years in school. He remained my model during the years I evolved as a mother, a teacher and a mentor.


Spring is the time for new beginnings. A symbol of hope, abundance, revival and rejuvenation. A time that signifies fruitfulness. So come September, herald of Spring!

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

In Retrospect: The Fortnight That was

A lot has happened in these last two weeks. Some things were beyond my wildest dreams and a few not quite as I expected. Dealing with the good and not so good proved to be a forward and backward cha-cha. There is a lot to look forward to with great expectations, and on the flipside the premature closing down of a project well begun has pushed me back where I was.
 
 
Let's start with the good. I prefer that. Well for starters, we're expecting two new additions to the family early next year. The news was kept under wraps but the 'cat' got out of the bag earlier than it was intended to! Since it was out, I informed my friends and family back home. I felt so elated sharing the happiness. It is true, happiness shared is happiness doubled. So why did we keep the news secret? Generally, down our side, people don't disclose such things till the fifth or sixth month of pregnancy. Call it superstition, plain prudence or wise discretion, that's the norm. Our efforts at secrecy failed because my daughter-in-law, M, was advised rest by her doctor, which meant an application for leave. Once the office knew, everybody knew! The few who were in the dark didn't have to wait long.
 
 
Last Sunday was M's birthday. Papa-to-be designed a cake which left nothing to be guessed. So everyone knew about the good news before they were supposed to! So much for zipping our lips. Here's the tell-all cake:l
 
 
Isn't it so adorable!
 
 
Getting her a gift proved to be more difficult for me. Because I don't understand or speak Spanish of any useful worth, going out shopping on my own would have been more frustrating than fruitful. So I  decided it would benefit me, in more ways than one, to suggest a 'practical' class in the Mall to my Spanish tutor. She thought it was a brilliant idea. I thought so too! I got a free ride, a translator and I did get to practice my Spanish (which is awful) and buy the gifts.
 


My first grandchild was also born abroad. However I couldn't be there. In fact I have missed so much of her growing up. She's three and a half and I know her only through Skype and Face Time! I felt bad about it then and carried that disappointment with me. However, in retrospect, I find God puts me where I need to be rather than where I want to be. I would have been of no earthly use to anyone three and a half years ago. I was barely of any use to myself physically. So I am grateful for this double joy; a bonus.


I have lost a few kilos, hallelujah, and I feel lighter in this area too! I hope I can keep the lost pounds just where they are: LOST! But if truth be told, it's been a sad story of lost & found for some years...sigh! This time round I took a positively decisive step toward the loss program. I discarded all the extra large clothes and kept only the size I fit into now. Then I looked into the mirror and said, "You will have nothing to wear if those pounds and inches find you again. Take that as you may, but that's how it stands." Do you think it will work...the threat and all? Right now There's this huge temptation staring me in the eye:


 
 
Get thee behind me Satan! Would it be very bad to take one bite...?
 
 
 
I went on a long road trip to the south. We had a night stopover in Chillan at a serene and tranquil place, I've forgotten the name of the resort, and drove sixty-five kms to Las Termas de Chillan the next day. At the start of the journey from Vina, I was happy and excited. This was the first long road trip after many years. My bane, travel sickness, was not far behind. Midway to Las Trancas it hit. As a result, I had to be off loaded at base further ahead, from where the others drove up into the snow-clad mountains. Though I tried my best to convince my son that I would be fine and no one had to stay with me, M stayed back too. I did not like that at all. She was missing all the fun because of me. I was the only one in this group of nine who was on the wrong side of fifty. The rest were youngsters her age. She was annoyed, which was to be expected, I was hurt to find myself the villain of the piece. I detested that role completely. I was downcast for the rest of the day and night. I retired early when we got back to Chillan. A sound sleep and an early morning quiet hour of communing with the Lord saw me bouncing back to being true to my name! I forgave myself. Thereafter, nothing could offend me as I refused to take offence.  I regained a sense of peace and calm. I put aside the incident. But it is one thing to regain your peace and quite another to maintain it. The feeling of being the wrong person at the right place at the wrong time for someone, led to sadness and loneliness. Forgiveness only released me from unpleasant emotions.
 
 

 


 
"What do you do with your love for someone when they die? Or the memories they've left? Do you pack them up in moving boxes and write strange names for them across the top? Then where do you put them and the rest of a life you were supposed to share with a person who left without warning?" ~Jonathan Caroll
 
Back in Chillan the next day, sitting in the lap of nature soaking in the beauty and awesomeness of God's creation, my mood was contemplative. Would it have been better if...what if David were here...would I even be here...my mind was spinning. I suppose a teeny-weeny bit of hurt remained from the previous day. There was no turmoil, on the contrary there was peace, there was joy, there was serenity, but there was pain too. Not the kind of bruising, harsh, bitter pain of anger or injured pride but the kind only one who has known deep love and loss can feel. The heaviness of regret, the longing for what wasn't and couldn't be. It was like a tiny soap bubble, its surface reflecting all the colours of the rainbow as it floated in the sunshine among the overflowing cups of joy. It was a contradiction with its emptiness in a world dominated by happy memories. Was it symbolic of my state of mind? Is that how I actually was...light, bouncing on the wind, showing off sparkling colours; a joyous exterior that belied the vacuousness within? But I was not empty within.
 
 
An empty pitcher can give nothing. I gave love, forgiveness, understanding, acceptance. I had peace, I had patience, I had joy. I believed, I trusted, I laughed, I cried. It was then I realized I was full. There was no empty space. I was floating around in search of an answer. An answer I already knew but didn't recognise. An answer that was so clear to the question: "Then where do you put them (memories) and the rest of a life that you were supposed to spend with a person who left without warning?"
 
 
 
I was living the answer. I knew where to put "them" and the "rest of my life." I was already anchored. That was the truth. The bubble was just that....ephemeral, a moment of illusion.
 
 
 
The realization was uplifting.
 
 
 
I had been in the doldrums with my packed lunches packing up on me, though I didn't admit it. The dual purpose of taking up the cooking project had been to keep myself occupied and earn something too. The need to be occupied was to fill the long hours of being alone. The need to earn was to satisfy my wants and little indulgences. But when I looked back I saw I never ever had to worry about my needs. They were always met. My prayers had never gone unanswered and finances had always miraculously been enough at the right time. I knew why the food project had died out and perhaps that is why I felt worse than I should. It made no sense to fret about it. The business of packing lunches was not all that lucrative but it provided a steady flow of cash which kept me independent in terms of supplying my wants. What ever the reasons were for that stream drying up, I was not going to dwell on it. The earning opportunity came without my asking and it went the same way. If I imagined there was nothing to occupy me, could I have been wrong? Perhaps there was something else I needed to explore. Or something I was already into that needed more time and dedication. Worry never brought me anything but sleepless nights and disease. When my hope is anchored in God, I simply need to continue my walk in faith. Why not? He's walked with me all these years, He's not going to give up on me ever.
 
 
Thus went the fortnight that was. When I shut my eyes I see mostly pretty pictures of that time. I am at a place of acceptance.
 
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Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Joy of Simple Things




"Okay, let me tell you a story," she says. We were on Face Time and I was thrilled that she wanted to talk to me for more than a minute this time!

"I'm all ears," I replied tentatively, still not too sure that I'd have the pleasure of her 'royal' presence for a great length of time.

"One day Little Blue, Red Riding Hood was walking in the big black forest..." she began.

"Who is that?" I interrupted.

"That's me. I have a blue riding hood today. I have a yellow one too but it's dirty." It was obvious she didn't think much of my question as it was quite obvious why she was 'Blue Red Riding Hood'!
 
" Now who is going to be the woodcutter and who is going to be the saviour?"

"Saviour?" chips in her papa, surprised.

"Yes, saviour.....oh you can be the saviour papa! And you can be the woodcutter," she says pointing to her mom, "and who will be the Gramma?" she continues.

"I am the Gramma," I say happily stressing the "am".

"No, you're not," she says, stressing the 'not,' "she is the Gramma," and she points to a picture of her Nani, "you are the Big...Bad...Wolf!"

I was in splits. Could both of us be in the same frame without something interesting happening?!

I love being her Gramma even when it means that I'm the "Big, Bad Wolf" in Gramma's clothing!!





It's monsoon time in India and although I am not there I do have the pleasure of winter rains in Chile.We aren't experiencing heavy showers very often, but dark skies and cold moisture laden breeze in winter do a lot for the mind, body and soul. Walks on such days are so enjoyable and invigorating. Whatever time of the year, winter or summer, rain brings so many simple enjoyments of life. I do crib sometimes if it gets in the way of work, but how much can I crib when the aroma of pakoras and gulgullas frying makes me drool! Then of course there's the hot cup of tea...ginger or cardamom or just plain tea....I make myself comfortable in the sit-out and stuff myself with pakoras and sweet gugullas, sip my tea and watch the rain...lovely.
 
 
 
I have a tutor, 'K.' She's thirty-four, old enough to be my daughter and very sweet. She's patient with my stuttering, faltering speech which is ridden with abominable grammatical errors. She's encouraging no matter how often I display my total inability to recall what we did fifteen minutes ago. And God only knows how she tolerates my articulation which is a mixture of English, Spanish and French pronunciations gone wrong.
 
 
She doesn't mind my tea breaks and is equally pleased to drink Indian tea with me. It is quite a nice experience to be on the other side of the table in a class after being on the teacher side so long. I make lame excuses when I haven't done my tarea (homework) and fib when I want to bunk class! She sees through it all as any experienced teacher would and chooses to ignore it as long as I am enthusiastic about being in the class and learning...how much I learn is all about getting the 'horse' to the water. Whether it drinks, doesn't drink and how much it imbibes depends on the horse...and she has an aging mare to deal with! I sure admire her for sticking it out so pleasantly. But on a genuine note, I do enjoy my study session with 'K.' It certainly is one of my simple joys on this sojourn.
 
 
 
In India it is the norm to address a known elderly person as uncle or aunty, as the gender demands, and often even strangers are addressed by these terms out of a sign of respect. In bigger cities, these days, the norm has changed with shopkeepers, cab drivers and hospital, and office staff using 'sir' and 'ma'am' instead. However in the social context as with neighbours or general public, you become an uncle or aunt of all and sundry. Abroad one doesn't expect to hear it unless one is with a desi crowd,and then too only with non-immigrants. So, I was surprised when a young girl from this place asked if she could call me 'aunty' too, like the other Indian girls did. Why did it please me? I didn't give a second thought even when my domestic help, back home, called me aunty...it was expected and accepted. I suppose it was this very reason why her request made me happy...it was not expected, it was not the norm. It was a decision she made, for whatever reason, I didn't need to probe. It was enough that she wanted to call me aunty. Just another simple joy in my life here.
 
 
 
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Monday, June 24, 2013

Step #58



It has been some time since I wrote this. The first draft has been lying on my desktop, waiting...waiting...since May to see the light of day! In fact right after my birthday in May.
 
 
 


 
It was my birthday!


I woke up tired, still sleepy (we'd had a very late night) but so happy! I was with my family after a very long time. As I sat and sipped my tea, I reflected over the past years. I was up on the stairway to heaven: fifty eight stairs up.


It had been a long, arduous journey at times and I saw myself heaving up those stairs. It had been lonely; sad and painful. I sat down often and I spoke to my friend up there. I asked him things. Things I wanted to understand. But most of all I asked for strength to go on. He answered all my questions, but not always right then. Nevertheless, they were answered when I could best benefit from the answer.
 
 
There were days I had stomped up those steps seething with anger as the angry tears rolled down my face, because words failed to express my wrath. And in direct contrast there were those times I  skipped and danced up the stairway, bouncy and bubbly, singing or humming or whistling a tune. I also recalled simply gliding over the steps as if on wings...my heart was so light my feet barely touched the ground. That was the upward climb. But can a climb always be without its slips and falls?
 
 
I had stumbled on more than one occasion; I had even tumbled. Did that slow me, or make me want to stop and stagnate? No. The journey was never a problem. It was one I was eager to travel on; to move on. It wasn't one I would have chosen given a choice, with the benefit of hindsight. I doubt if anyone would, if they could peep into the future. So did I regret it? Did I regret the choices that took me on a sojourn of sorrow, pain, fear, abandonment and rejection? I can say with complete honesty, never. Perhaps in a moment of brokenness  I might have wondered if I had made a mistake in choosing the path I had, but that was never the final conclusion. With every step I advanced or rather crawled, that does sound dramatic but it was the speed at which I travelled, I realised I was on the right road. It was just that often times fear, insecurity or plain bad judgment, made me take a wrong turn or make stupid choices. I am human and I don't have 'super' prefixed to my natural state of womanhood, so I am entitled to blunder my way through! What matters is that though I might have strayed from the chosen path at times,  I returned and carried on regardless of the world and its opinions.


I would love to say, "I did it alone," but that wouldn't be true. I would never  have accomplished getting this far through major ailments, distress and grief, limited funds and less to rely on materially if it wasn't for God and my sons. But most of all it is because of my best friend Jesus, who watches out for me all the time, every time. I could not have done it then and I can do nothing now without Him. Though there was turmoil outside and I would grumble or get annoyed, inside of me there was a calm; a peacefulness, not the kind this world can give but the kind that only the Lord can give. I put every word in the Bible to the test. I put my God to the test and He never failed. I cast all my burdens on Him and He gave me rest. I carried my yoke and the burden was light. I was grateful and thankful at all times because there was always something to be thankful for. There were amazing moments, miracles, wonderful people, and unbelievable goodness from quarters unexpected...there were streams in the desert! From this gratefulness stemmed my joy. A joy that welled from my soul. A deep sense of contentment in any circumstance and love for my children; my family.


So on the fifty-eighth step, as I view the distance I have traversed and turn to move on to higher ground, I count the years and I praise God for His tender, loving mercies and grace. I am satisfied that as I have grown older and gained in years I have also grown up and gained in wisdom...and that process of growing up and learning has not ceased. I am still growing! Now isn't that something to be happy about!


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Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Better Morning, A Proverb And A Mare's Snort!

Well, it's usually a good morning everyday for me, so I thought I should qualify that by a degree and add 'better' instead to the morning. Chilean mornings are different. The house is quiet, in fact the whole world around our block and a couple of blocks away too, are blissfully silent. Not even a squawk from the gulls...probably because there are no gulls anyway!


What a difference from the mornings in India. The world there woke up before daybreak. At least the moms or women in general did, I presume, as I didn't see many men hitting the kitchen to rustle up breakfast for the kids at that hour. I mean no offence, nor barb intended for the husbands. It's just how it usually is in India. And with the waking came the sound of a grand welcome, ushering in the new day...the kitchen band struck a few discordant sounds; clangs, bangs, whirs and whistles!


But here in my little room, where I'm all by myself, it is certainly a quiet morning. I am as quiet as a mouse. The only sound that you can hear is me shuffling about, the wooden floor squeaking under my weight, the click of the bathroom door shutting, running water and the occasional thud/clang of me or a pan falling! Otherwise as I said I'm as quiet as a mouse...Is my tongue actually in my cheek? In truth the former did not happen...I never fell with a thud...I never even fell. I hope I'm not speaking too soon! But in my haste to get my hot cup of ginger tea...well accidents do happen. You can't hold me for that, can you? I don't expect an answer, it's plain rhetoric!!


I got a verse from Proverbs this morning, for meditation. I was listening to the lesson: A Teachable Spirit. The verse says: "Rebuke is more effective for a wise man than a hundred blows on a fool." ~Proverbs 17:10~ (NKJV) Think about it. I had a lot on my plate as I mulled over the verse and attempted to plumb the depths of its meaning and the application in life. Do I have a teachable spirit? Do I walk in humility? In all honesty I'm not there yet, but I'm on the way, which tells me I'm not a lost case. For today that gives me hope and as I said, it's a better day...but my tea got cold!


I went down to buy some vegetables yesterday. I walked down to the store, not very far from our place. I was half-way there when I saw a group of women coming down the opposite side. One, in particular, caught my attention as she stared at me and tried to conceal a snicker. I'm not very observant but since I was getting a snicker, I gave her a look-over too and passed by. Nothing about her drew any thought; good, bad, funny or ugly, in my mind. Then we passed each other and I heard a loud snort of laughter...you know the kind that goes haw-haw snort...haw-haw snort! And my mind went, "What a mare!" She reminded me of Sandra Bullock in one of her movies where she plays this character who snorted when she actually was laughing. I smiled and that lead to a silent tummy shaking laugh. I'm glad she gave me a funny moment rather than a nasty one. A spoonful of humour makes the medicine go down, if I may misquote a line from Julie Andrew's song in The Sound Of Music.


The sun has put his hat on, hip-hip-hip-hooray, the sun has put his hat on and is coming out today! On that kiddish note I sign out!

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Friday, April 5, 2013

Where's The Zing?


 
 
An article, some questions, a discussion; all centering around one aspect in life: Zing! Everyone in the room had their say. Some were honest some were not about the status of their lives. Granted, they had the right to share or not to disclose. However all admitted it was often a case of found-lost-found-lost, with only some enlightened ones springing with sustained zing. Some of us have it and have sustained it, while some never got around to a toe-hold and others just let it fizzle out and die. So much has been written about it, so much spoken about it. So many well thumbed self-help books stand in the book shelves worn out and wearier than the hands that turned its pages. Where is the zing?
 
I speak from my own experience when I say that to have the zing and sustain it in life, one must first learn to 'be happy'; appreciate life and be grateful in the valley and on the mountain top. It's something that grows from the inside to the outside. Having said that zing can be acquired through organization and practical applications. These are some of the things I've followed, though at times I admit I did fall through, but that's how I learned that to have that inner joy, peace and zest for life some 'must haves' and 'musn't haves' have to be there or discarded as the case may be.
 
Quality Sleep:  Lack of sleep, a good night's sleep, is the No:1 enemy of zest and zing in life. Don't short change yourselves with short naps at odd hours, to make up for a good night's rest. It never really does. This practice is a short term benefit but a long term disaster. I learned it the hard way! With circumstances the way they were, getting the ideal eight hours of night sleep was difficult, or so I thought. But the hard way knocks some sense into you if you're looking for improvement and are willing to change for what's beneficial in the long run. I found going to sleep before the clock struck twelve (the magic hour) gave me a restful, rejuvenating sleep even if it was for only five and a half or six hours! I'm not recommending less hours of sleep only sharing what I found helpful in difficult situations.
 
Keep the Kid Alive: Observe little children. Have you noticed the zing in their lives? They wake up raring to go, full of energy and thoroughly excited about the day! Be a child as often as you can...play. Take up some games and if you aren't the sporty kind, there are indoor games. Play to enjoy not to compete. Do something simple or even silly perhaps. Anything that makes you laugh, share some joy. Let your hair down and just be you. Laugh at slapstick jokes, crack some corny ones if you may. Romp with the kids, go on picnics, have pillow fights even with your spouse!! Go ice-cream hopping to as many ice-cream places as you can. Just be a kid.
 
 
Set Goals: Dream your dreams; even the wildest ones, then separate the goals from the fantasies. If you haven't set some SMART goals, do so. If you have your goals drawn out, check them out to see how many are still relevant. How many can be replaced with goals that are more meaningful and achievable. Draw up a path with small steps to reach them. Keep it practical, and let your ideal be the North Star in your journey. Sometimes we confuse our dreams with our goals.
 
De-clutter: This is so, so important. Like our homes our lives get cluttered too, with unnecessary and unimportant things we store, refusing to throw it out even though we know we should. So clean out the drawers, cupboards, basement, attic in the house and in the mind, from time to time. Trust me, it will contribute to a lot more organisation and storing space for better things. Most importantly clear out the people who pose as friends or well wishers but add negativity to your life. They are unwanted baggage and drain you of energy and positive life force, thus weakening you in your will and resolve.
 
 Prioritise: You have to get your priorities right. Each of us has multiple roles in life; at home, at work and socially too. We have to work out a balance between our responsibilities and duties on all fronts. Prioritising sets things in the proper order. Quality time in the right proportions between home and work helps a great deal to tide over the unexpected situations when one encroaches on the other.
 
Mind set & Focus: Maintaining a positive attitude means being in control of your emotions and feelings. This is important for focus. Getting carried away by emotions shifts focus. A positive mind set keeps you in the right frame of mind to make better decisions; be more responsive; less aggressive; better able to handle conflicts and focus on the task in the now.
 
 
Humour: Humour they say is the best medicine. A panacea for all ills. Well, it does not literally cure all ills in society or in our bodies, but it does keep us in a lighter frame of mind, it acts as a valve to release all our pent-up pain and miseries, and emotions that do not contribute to our well-being. When we laugh we take our focus off the offense; off bitterness and resentment and so it contributes to a healthier mind and body. Joyce Meyer says, "Where the mind goes, the man follows." This is applicable to habits good or bad. So if one habitually moans, groans and harbours grouses the person is bound to go down the wrong path. I have found that being able to find something funny in a situation, even when the chips are down, eases things a lot. It applies even to the workplace. I found something humorous almost everyday at my place of work. So how did it help? I enjoyed what I was doing, I didn't endure it...and that goes for the times when the boss was a meanie and a grouch. You know what, humour keeps you young!
 
 
Trust In God: Hard for many, I suppose. But a wise thing to do. Your worst day with God is better than your best day without Him! That's my experience. At the most hopeless of times He gives you hope; when you are weak, He gives you strength; when you feel alone, He is your friend. People will fail you but He never fails; your family and friends might be fickle but He is loyal and true; He responds to all your needs and wants...sometimes the answer is 'NO' because He has other plans for you. If you don't get in the way you get what's best for you.  
 
If you have lost the true ZING in your life, reclaim it now. It could be easier said than done, but it's not an unconquerable mountain either!
 
Life is God's gift to you. It comes with an expiry date. Enjoy it while it lasts. Have a surprising, challenging, fulfilling day!
 
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Monday, April 1, 2013

A prophecy & Butternut Squash Soup!

I discovered two things in the past few days: The truth of a prophecy, that's such a biblical word, but then I guess it fits in this case, and the deliciousness of a butternut squash soup (a species of the 'Kaddu' family) I like kaddu as a vegetable, Indian style. I also liked the kaddu halwa my mother used to make. A laborious task which she used to undertake after I'd begged her almost on my knees! But when my daughter-in-law said she was going to make a butternut squash soup for dinner, I baulked. I  could imagine a kaddu mashed up in a soup, what I just couldn't imagine was me drinking it. She assured me it was yummmmmm...and she did stretch the yumminess though I thought it was simply to psych me into drooling. Only the night would tell.


But to come back to the 'prophecy.' Once upon a time, as stories go, or rather went when I was a kid, my mother-in-law told me about a lady who would visit the family home in Barmer, quite often out of the blue. She was a very religious woman, old but healthy and mobile, and she was gifted with the ability to predict things. These things she foretold were referred to as prophecies because she was strongly anchored in the faith. On one such unexpected visits, she told my MIL that she would die when one member of her family would go into the Lord's service.


Both mama and I contemplated the meaning of this. Not because it was hard to understand the prophecy, but simply because we couldn't find more than one promising candidate who qualified as a servant for the Lord's work. This person happened to be a teenager then, but quite keen on listening to my MIL's religious talks and definitely a regular church goer. In short totally religious unlike all the other youngsters around his age. But as time went by our hope in him diminished. I told my mom-in-law that the old lady must have been a wee bit off the mark this time. She refused to accept that. I shut up. Just my mouth, not the thoughts!


Then came the day when one of the grand-daughters, her daughter's child, decided to marry a boy who was all set to become a priest. Ah! The prophetic words resurfaced in our conversations with renewed strength. Mama told me, rather triumphantly, that the old girl was not off the mark. We were off the mark. We didn't think of the girls. Now, one was going into the Lord's service and the time for the prophecy to come true was drawing near.


It made me uncomfortable to discuss the demise of my mother-in-law, in the near future (she tended to make it nearer) with her in such an objective manner. So I tried to drill holes in her theory. For quite obvious reasons it was clear her enthusiasm to prove the old lady was right, had blinded her to the fact that her grandchild was not going into the Lord's service, she was only going to marry one who was going to serve in the church.


But Queen Victoria, as I and my hubby would refer to his mother in private, could not be influenced or side-tracked so easily.


"It's the same thing," she said with a finality that discouraged all arguments. Again I zipped my lip and only my lip!


My mother-in-law passed away some years later. The said grandchild's husband had changed direction. The priest moved out of pastoring a flock and became the head of a bible college instead, while she continued in her teaching job. My MIL had gone, but the prophecy and its veracity remained a point of thought. It didn't fit in, to my mind at least. The pieces just didn't fall into place so the picture wasn't complete. At least not in the way she had thought it was.


Many years later, I learned that the only other grand-daughter, her son's child, had become a pastor, the pieces of the puzzle fell into place. I will have to tell the story further to complete the picture.


This young grandchild, 'R,' was a simple girl, with no college education. She stayed at home and did all the domestic chores. She was lively, witty and childish. So to hear she was heading a church in a big city, came as a huge surprise. Anyway, this news soon got buried with so many other things piling up and it no longer held my attention. But not for long. For some unknown reason my thoughts meandered to the prophecy again, to my MIL and to all our many conversations we had had over the years. And I had a eureka moment! Stay with me a wee bit longer, even now I have to catch my breath by the revelation!


On the last night, before she died, Mama was talking to R. It was getting late so R told her to rest; go to sleep. Mama told her to put her hand in hers. She held R's hand and closed her eyes. After some time R too went off to sleep with her hand in her grandmother's hand. When R awoke, mama had passed away; and also passed on the prophecy to the most unlikely person in her family.


I had been off the mark, she had believed. Now I understand. It was a prophecy...it holds that aura...it holds that strength and firmness...it holds that belief!


Phew! Talk about soup for the soul!


And here comes the kaddu soup. I peeked into the pan as M stirred the creamy, lovely, sunshine yellow broth around. I have to admit it was inviting! Not a reaction I had expected. Soon I was impatient to taste it. She took her time cooking it just right, pouring it into the cups, dropping in the croutons...and I took the first spoonful. Yummmmmmm....I went. Had I actually been psyched?!!!! here's a picture:


I am a new butternut squash soup nut! For my Indian friends: it's another kind of kaddu in a soup:)


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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Comedy Of Errors and A Red Towel


It was Sao Paulo. Fifteen hours straight flight from Dubai. I was tired. My knees were swollen. I could walk like a duck...no not walk, more of a waddle! And after a while I needed to visit the washroom. So I waddled my way in the direction that was given to me. Before long there in front of me I saw the door with a wheelchair borne person painted on it. That's it, and I quickened my pace.

When I was a few steps away a tall strapping fellow, strode ahead and got in. This just wasn't done. He didn't need a 'physically challenged' people's washroom.

"Excuse me," I said loud and clear for everyone to hear me fifty paces away. "I need to use this facility right now." And I pointed to my lumbar support and then to my osteoathritic knees. Not that he would have seen them inside my trousers.

The poor guy was startled, which pleased me a great deal. How dare he rush past me.

"Oh, well! If you have to go here it's alright," he said and stepped out.

I got in and as I was about to shut the door, I felt something was wrong. I opened the door wider and looked for the signage. And there it was. The facilities here were for 'hombres.'

I couldn't control my laughter. I called to the fellow and told him I got the wrong place and I was sorry to push him out that way.

"Yeah, your place is the other side. Over there."

I kept giggling all the way to the 'other side' and along with me a row of people sitting on the chairs across the corridor, and who had witnessed my bossiness, had their share of laughs too!




And then we were in Vina; at home and comfy. I decided to cook. Tahiri it was. That's a rice made with potatoes, tomatoes and various spices. A sort of pulao.

I love to cook rice and generally everything in kadhais. The kadhai is my favourite vessel. So everything was done and it was time to cover the rice and allow it to cook. I couldn't find a cover of adequate size. I looked high and low, though not low enough, as I can't stoop too low, and that's an awful pun!

However I found a vessel which was shaped like a bowl which tapered into an elongated bottom. It fitted perfectly over the rice and I thought it was rather cute and it would give a lot of space for dum, or steam. Eight minutes later I had to check on the rice, and using two pan holders I lifted the toupee, it looked like some sort of Arabic hat.

It slipped. I tried to get a firmer hold on it and grabbed the rim. Ow...ow...ow. The steam gushed out onto my fingers. Two fingers were burnt with hot steam and I was in agony. I rushed to the sink closest to me. There are two. I turned it on and ow...ow...ow! Hot water poured out onto my already steaming fingers. I had forgotten to check the lever. It was turned to hot.

Well, with some ointment and many aching minutes later I was able to settle down and slap my head, while I enjoyed a plateful of hot tahiri with an onion-tomato raita.




And then the weirdest thing happened. Goons entered the house. I was with K and two of her friends who were visiting. My room in Vina doesn't have an ensuite bathroom, so I generally have to wrap a towel around myself and walk to the bathroom, owing to problems mentioned earlier, I can't chnage clothes below the belt without being seated.

As I was saying, I was in the house with three young women, and I was busy cooking mutton biryani, and chicken curry, mince koftas and the works. There were three things simmering on the fire, and I dashed to have a bath. I had just wrapped my red towel around my waist, when I heard screaming. I came out to find a scruffy brute of a man tying up K, hands and feet. She was screaming; I was screaming and the goon went beserk. Before he lost his cool and did something vicious I shut up and told K to stop, so we could think properly and find our way out somehow. This seemed to calm him down.

I was wondering where the other two girls were, but didn't venture to find out. If they were hiding or had managed to get out, it was good for them and perhaps for us. I turned to the food on the hub. My mind was working furiously. I was scared. But there had to be some way out of this situation. What was the man after and why on earth had he barged into our house.

He was talking on the phone and from what I could decipher he was calling some other guys. I froze. And stayed frozen. The man was standing next to me.

I looked at him and he was looking at my red towel, which barely covered my knees, I clutched it at the waist. On the spur of the moment I took off the lids on two of the dishes. His attention shifted as I wanted it to. He became interested in the food and wanted to know what I was cooking that had such a delicious aroma.

I didn't waste a moment and took him down the Indian culinary lane. His senses were taken by the aromas and description of what was cooking. That's when a thought struck me; The way to a man's heart must be through his stomach, but the way to befuddle his mind is through his nose! His mind and eyes were no longer interested in the red towel, or K who was tied up and lying helpless on the ground.

On a hunch I asked if his friends were coming and to my dismay he said yes. How many I asked and he confirmed two. Oh then I would need a helping hand I told him and asked for K to be untied. He acquiesced without a murmur. I was getting bolder by the second. I got K to stand with me and pretend to help. She was trembling like a leaf in a storm. The goon stared at the red towel again as he walked away and I whispered to K to see where the other two were without raising the goon's suspicion.

The food was cooked. The goons were seated and served. While they ate like animals, K and the other two girls went to the back balcony and shouted for help. But strangely, everyone on the street vanished into their homes. The men heard the screaming and wanted to check what was happening. I assured them it was the neighbours squabbling as usual.

K returned and told me that we could escape if these men were kept at the table and stuffed with food. So while I kept them supplied with food and cajoled them to have more, K and the two girls slipped out the back door. On the pretense of calling K, I walked out too and bolted...the door before I tottered on my shaky legs, clutching on to my red towel for dear life!

It wasn't long before they were hounding us. We came to a crossroad and there on the opposite side were K's parents in their car, at a red light. We waved, we yelled, we pointed to the goons in the distance. They remained frozen.

"We have to do something aunty," K announced. I agreed.

We must have done something brilliant because I woke up in my bed with a raging fever. It was viral. The red towel was where I had hung it to dry in the morning.

I smiled wanly as I turned on my side; who knew that a red towel would go viral!

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Glossary:

Kadhai: It's an Indian wok. It is deeper that a Chinese wok and doesn't flare out too much at the top.
 

Friday, January 18, 2013

And when it rains...

I was woken up twice last night by Nature's son et lumiere show! It was grand indeed. Flashes of lightning, deafening claps of thunder and a steady hail of hailstones beating a tattoo on the roofs of cars parked in the open parking lot. But unlike interrupted sleep on other nights, that keeps me awake and frantically trying to go back to sleep any which way...even counting sheep that turn into goats and puppies, and never allow me to go to sleep because I'm concentrating so hard on the blooming numbers, I was KO'ed as soon as I snuggled back in bed. Rainy nights, winter or summer, are the best sleeping pills for me. I'm sure there are many of you out there who know what I'm talking about.

I'm not a big winter lover. Actually I'm not even a small winter lover. I become an onion with layer upon layer of clothes that stifle me and restrict my movements. No I'm definitely not a winter person. But a rainy, winter day is an exception to the rule. I don't feel so cold, I enjoy myself in the kitchen, at my lappy and my mind unfreezes along with my limbs and their digits.

My kitchen is a place to sing, dance and pour out love. And when it's raining there's so much more happening as I stir, toss, pour, boil, fry and give myself up to what makes me happiest... I'm still talking about food! There's something so romantic about rain...Oye, I'm talking about normal not cyclonic storms and hurricanes!
 
 
Talking about storms, I remember once long time back, my brother and I were returning from school when we ran smack into a hail storm. The hailstones were quite big, and though we managed to find shelter it wasn't before we got some stinging smacks from those frozen balls. And back then, I enjoyed it and found it great fun. I enthralled my classmates at school the next day with a narration full of exaggeration and humour.
 
 
But through all this I am not unaware of all the homeless people who live on the pavements and the rain only adds to their woes. I feel sorry for them. And the news of patients of cancer and their families making makeshift dwellings on the pavement outside AIIMS, one in particular for the past three years, moves me to tears. But every cloud has a silver lining. A drive by a leading news channel, has got them into proper shelter, provided funds to them and many others in a similar situation via donations.
 
I am thankful that humanity lives on and like stars in a black sky makes its presence felt across the darkness. As we save for a rainy day, we should donate for a rainy day too. There are many genuine agencies who could take our small/big offerings and bring some hope and comfort to people. They go where we can't and do what we couldn't, through our combined effort.
 
The day progresses as my mind races to other things. I'll just leave the outpourings for another rainy day!
 
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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A time to introspect, laugh and love...it's another New Year!

Unlike previous years, this year did not see me with regrets or longings for what could have been but wasn't; where I could have gone but didn't; what I should have done or could have done but gave up a step too soon. I surprised myself a bit, honestly, by the new perspective and calmness I had as the year softly and silently slipped into my grateful, content and not-so-perfect life. I was in a place of imperfection with peace, acceptance, happiness and faith; and this made things good.


No one but God is perfect and in our journey towards that perfect love and light, we learn to appreciate more, to find peace in tumultous times, to develop better attitudes toward ourselves, and the people we come in contact with. We begin to accept whatever comes our way...the good and the bad... with forbearance and hope. It all sounds like a dreamer's Utopian musings, doesn't it? I assure you it isn't. This is a seeker's account of her experiences. There is pain, there is disappointment; tears; loneliness; anger; frustration; regrets and all the lows that are a part of life. But once you begin to look through the eyes of steadfast faith, hope and trust that "this too shall pass" the cross is lighter. I believe that God is watching out for me and mine. And as we make progress toward our goal, slipping, sliding, falling, He walks along lifting, carrying, prodding us along. I cast my cares on Him and He takes the burden off. So though my cross is heavy sometimes, the burden is light. My heart is lighter. My mind is less prone to worry and I can be grateful and enjoy my life even when the chips are down.

That's how I walk into 2013!


The new year is a harbinger of new beginnings. Beginnings at new places; new faces; of changed weather patterns with Christmas in Summer and a Winter birthday in the month of May! New language, changed food flavours and new inclusions in my diet. Building a new social circle at this stage, learning conversion of a new currency against the rupee (though I know it's not advisable to compare rates of another currency with the rupee, it's depressing!) but old habits die hard, and that's the truth in this respect at least!!

But I raise a toast to new beginnings, to life and its vagaries. Cheers!

The last five months have been a great time of meeting friends and family, some of whom were long lost relatives, 'long time no see' friends and family members. Weddings and festivals are those celebrations that bring people together to renew relations and catch up with the years in between. So it has been a nice time of laughter and fun as we chatted, gossipped (a bit, harmlessly) caught up with each other, compared notes, gorged on good food, drank to everyone's health, shared our joys and divided our sorrows with sharing and caring.

There was good news and bad from all around the world. And one horrifying incident of brutality meted out to a young girl by a group of animals who walked around in men's clothing, rocked my world. It occurred in the capital and the girl died a couple of days before the new year. The act was horrendous and shook the populace out of its indifference and complacency.  The New Year celebrations were not as noisy or raucous in our part of the city but quiet and subdued keeping in mind Nirbhaya, the young girl whose dreams and aspirations were snuffed out because some men decided she shouldn't live.

It remained at the back of my mind even as I sang and smiled, as I stood by the comforting warmth of a barbecue's embers. It was with me as I hugged my family and wished them well. It sits heavy on my heart because a society that doesn't respect its women and children and whose law enforcement agencies cannot protect them, is doomed.


Good cheer and celebrations have followed me into the New Year. There is another wedding in the family in a month from now. Indian weddings are long drawn out affairs with many ceremonies that stretch out over 4-5 days! So it involves among other things dressing up! Clothes, jewellery and all that bling are some of the highlights of an Indian shaadi. And in the midst of all this I shall be packing, giving away or discarding bit by bit, of what is left of the evidence of my life in India. I shall leave here with fond memories, some captured for posterity in photographs and many more cocooned in the recesses of my heart. I shall go with a fresh canvas to paint a bigger picture, a more complete one with my children and grandchild/grandchildren. A new chapter of joy.


I send out good wishes to all my blog members and hope you have a good year.


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