Saturday, December 31, 2016

Good Bye, Fare well....2016!

Every year, on the eve of the New Year, I look back at my year in review to see what I've achieved, what wonderful things happened...prayers answered in both - a definite "YES" and "NO!" The things I've learned...have I moved forward? The new experiences that have added to my growth...mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual. What strongholds I've broken that were pulling me down, what strengths I've built up. My friends...old and new. My family and how beautifully it is growing.

I don't have the tendency to count the difficult times, the personal battles I've fought...with health issues or any other. I don't say they are forgotten. They aren't really forgotten...but they aren't under focus. They remain faint memories because of the lessons I've learned from them...and these are what I'm grateful for; the learning and growing experiences and the lessons.

So, this year too, I look back with immense gratefulness to God for His blessings and care throughout the year. I look forward with anticipation of many more new beginnings, new experiences {pleasant :)}, strengthening of existing and friends...

Further growth in my personal life, more discipline in maintaining good health, though, I've done pretty well in this area so far. Developing in new and better ways - my interests in blogging, reading and writing {I'm so bad at discipline in this area!}. Doing more towards getting 'that' cookbook which has been cooking in my mind for some years now! {Discipline so required here!}

But all in all, as I walk through my life in the year that's swiftly drawing to a close, I am satisfied and content with myself. As always forever grateful to the Lord and as always hopeful, trusting and believing for His guidance and His light to be upon us in the coming year too.

I love a good joke and a good laugh and that's how I'd like to bid farewell and ring out the old and ring in the new: with prayers and praise, good humour, good cheer, mirth, and joyfulness...God willing that's how we'll transition from 2016 to 2017!

So here's a poem that was written by Khushwant Singh when he was ninety-two years old.

Khushwant Singh (born Khushal Singh, 2 February 1915 – 20 March 2014)[1] was an Indian novelist, lawyer, journalist and politician. Born and raised in Hadali, Punjab (now in Pakistan), he studied law at St. Stephen's College, Delhi, and King's College London. After working as a lawyer in Lahore Court for eight years, he joined the Indian Foreign Service upon the Independence of India from British Empire in 1947.
He was appointed journalist in the All India Radio in 1951 and then moved to the Department of Mass Communications of UNESCO at Paris in 1956. These last two careers encouraged him to pursue a literary career. As a writer, he was best known for his trenchant secularism, humour, sarcasm and an abiding love of poetry. His comparisons of social and behavioural characteristics of Westerners and Indians are laced with acid wit. He served as the editor of several literary and news magazines, as well as two newspapers, through the 1970s and 1980s. Between 1980-1986 he served as Member of Parliament in Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament of India.

Khushwant Singh was decorated with the Padma Bhushan in 1974. But he returned the award in 1984 in protest against Operation Blue Star in which the Indian Army raided Amritsar. In 2007 he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second-highest civilian award in India.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Siblings - friends we can't get rid of!

"Sibling relationships...outlast marriages, survive the death of parents, resurface after quarrels that could sink any friendship. They flourish in a thousand incarnations of closeness and distance, of warmth, loyalty, and distrust." -Erica E. Goode

We were four siblings. Three sisters and one brother. I was the fourth and the youngest for the first ten years of my life. I expected to remain the father's pet and my mother's unruly filly. But life had something better in store. The announcement that I was going to get a brother thrilled me no end. My elder brother was my friend and my partner in crime and I enjoyed playing with boys more than girls, who I found to be "sissy" and forever crying, throwing tantrums, more interested in who was wearing what and playing 'House.' I wanted to play 'Indians & Cowboys,' 'Robbers & Police,' 'Pittoo,' gymnastics and rougher sports and games than most girls my age cared to play. So, a brother was more than welcome. What I didn't realize was that a ten year age difference wouldn't quite work out as I had envisaged...our interests would be worlds apart by the time he grew up.

I never got to develop any really close relationship with my sisters. They went to boarding school when I was six. We met only when they came home for their annual holidays. I would be in awe of them. The eldest was seven years older than me and the other was my senior by five. And later on, when they passed out of school, they left home to pursue whatever professional training/jobs they had applied for in the city. We were living in the country. My elder brother remained my pal and companion a few more years and left home too. The younger one was too young to take his place. A three-year-old isn't much company for a thirteen-year-old. I grew up through my teenage years of schooling, practically, as an only child. Since my school was very far from home I didn't have friends to hang out with on Sundays or holidays. 

Books became my friends and I became an avid reader. Thanks to my elder sisters' fondness for reading there was never a dearth of books. They kept a steady supply. And thanks to an American friend who was in the American Peace Corps, and stationed in our town, we had more than enough books of all genres. I traveled with my book friends and experienced different cultures and traditions as I lived with them. This worked against me in a way as my schoolmates couldn't relate to the books I read and so I couldn't discuss them either. It created a kind of chasm.

The distances were constant between us siblings. Rarely were we all together, and even then, it was never for very long. But, whenever we were together we would pick up from where we left off as if we had never left...never been absent from home. We'd talk one to the dozen, laugh our guts out, almost literally, because we'd be doubled up in laughter our arms folded across our bellies, tears flooding our eyes. 

As the years passed on we got married and home meant another place. I and my eldest sister lived in regions far from the rest and each other as well. The youngest, who joined the Army moved around from the north, in the Himalayas, to the southern region and the western arid zone. Yes, we hardly met. Those were not the days of internet and mobile phones, no face time, no emails and chats. The occasional snail mail and cards made their way to keep everyone updated. Though by the time they were updated the information was already outdated!

Yet, when we gathered at one place to attend a wedding or a funeral...or I'd make an annual trip with hubby and kids in tow to meet family it would always be like we met just some days ago. Always comfortable, always fun. We'd still be howling with laughter at the silliest things, we'd still be singing the same old songs...we'd still be gossiping about the same old people. We'd bond like only siblings can.

At the time of writing, we're in the same situation of vast distances between miles. I am farthest from my siblings, yet when I think about it, it is just the oceans, seas, and continents that separate us. I value physical nearness. Nothing can replace internet, or WhatsApp, no face time either. But, I am also grateful for all of these. It's a bridge that connects us virtually.

I have driven through streets in Canada with my son as I sat comfortably in my chair in South America. I've been a part of the baptism service for my grandchildren; making the vows I had to make, if I were there in the Canadian church myself. Face the closest to personal and physical nearness. 

The bond of birth and a shared childhood; same roots, same family ties, many shared experiences...survive over and beyond the distances...literally and figuratively.

Is it because we are siblings born of the same parents? No, what keeps siblings together is a relationship. And like all relationships, it takes a lot of working at to grow strong. It takes a lot of love, forgiveness; patience and tolerance, understanding and respect for siblings to grow as sisters and brothers. This is best explained by Maya Angelou in this short quote:

"I don't believe an accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers. It makes them siblings, gives them the mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at." -Maya Angelou

Yes, siblings - sisters and brothers, as defined by Maya Angelou, are the friends we not only "can't get rid of" but those whom we never want to get rid of. 


Wednesday, January 6, 2016


There was so much going on in the past month and a half, that's my explanation, not an excuse, for why I couldn't write something! Am I kidding myself and making a play on words to justify my apathy towards my blog? Honestly, I'm not sure whether my passion was on the ebb or the physical pain was nearing intolerable levels. I was indeed going through a painful ailment. But this feeling kept sneaking up on me that I was using it as an excuse to not write, that I was not disciplined. That made me feel pretty low.

It's not that I was not on the internet at all. I was updating my page on Facebook on a regular basis, and although I wasn't quite consistent with my blog I still managed to upload a recipe or two! It all boiled down to the choices I was making on a daily basis...and if truth be told, Whispering Leaves lost out. Sad but true.

While hunting for quotes about choices, I picked quite a few which resonated with me individually. Then when I read them all together they seemed to be contradictory with one and supporting of another. I reorganised them and got a paragraph on CHOICES! Here it is:
"'There are no safe choices. Only other choices.' 'When a man cannot choose, he ceases to be a man.' 'Choices may be unbelievably hard but they're never impossible. To say you have no choice is to relieve yourself of responsibility and that's not how a person with integrity acts.' 'You can't cross the sea by merely standing and staring at the water.' 'What happens if your choice is misguided? You must correct it. But what if it's too late? What if you can't? Then you must find a way to live with it.' 'The problem, simply put, is that we cannot choose everything simultaneously. So we live in danger of becoming paralyzed by indecision, terrified that every choice might be the wrong choice.'"

"'Never compromise your values. Do what you think is right. Don't let people make the decision of right or wrong for you.' 'I believe the choice to be excellent begins with aligning your thoughts and words with the intention to require more from yourself.' 'You have to choose the best, every day, without compromise...guided by your own virtue and highest ambition.' 'If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice.' 'It's choice, not chance, that determines destiny.' 'A man's mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed-seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind.' 'Happiness, like unhappiness, is a proactive choice.' 'I guess, in the end, it doesn't matter what we wanted.' 'What matters is what we chose to do with the things we had.'"

Quotes in respective order: Libba Bray, Anthony Burgess, Patrick Ness, Rabindranath Tagore, Libba Bray, Elizabeth Gilbert, Steve Maraboli, Oprah Winfrey, Philippa Gregory, Neil Peart, Jean Nidetch, James Allen, Stephen R Covey, Mira Grant.

Gosh, I need to make the 'choice' of being more disciplined! Help!