Image

I Look Back To Accelerate Forward

Some years, back I wrote a story where one of my characters was traveling through life with his eyes fixed on the rear-view mirror. I had referred to it as a character flaw because the man looked back to dwell on the negative aspects and developed a cynical approach to life.

Later on, I saw this in another perspective. Looking back is not a flaw, if one reviews the past with a positive attitude; with the intention of making changes in the present where changes are required; altering attitudes where alteration is needed, and learning from past experiences.

I’ve been driving on the highway of life with an eye on the rear-view mirror! But not so long back, my hindsight went further back than my personal experiences, thanks to a Bible story I was telling my grandchildren. We were reading about the exodus from Egypt. The children were aghast at the 40 year journey across a desert. One of them, the 5-yr-old, exclaimed that she never wanted to go to Egypt or anywhere across a desert as she’d be an old woman by the time she reached her destination! The elder one informed her that she needn’t “walk” across she could fly… and the discussion veered to, “Where was the Promised Land? Was it so far away that it took them 40 years to reach there?”

So, the focus settled on the length of the journey. “Why did it take so long for them to reach?” “Is it actually that far to reach?” “How long were their breaks?” “How could they break journey for years in one spot?”

After referring to some expert commentary on the topic, and keeping their young years in mind, I informed them that it should have been just an 11-day-journey to Canaan. But it took them longer because they began grumbling, rebelling against the rules, regretting leaving Egypt, not believing God, making statues of other gods to worship. They were ungrateful and disobedient. They didn’t trust God who was guiding them and providing for them along the journey. They became afraid. In other words, they kept going around the same mountain of worries, anxiety, dissatisfaction, infighting, rebellion, ungratefulness, complaining…So they stayed ‘settled’ in one camp after the other longer than they should have.

That explanation was enough for them. It seemed to explain and answer all their questions. But it spoke to me too, in connection with the way I felt, on my first trip to Chile, in 2010. It explained a lot about how I had stemmed my joy, increased my woes and made life more difficult for me physically, mentally, and emotionally.

It was a constructive and enlightening lesson. I suppose, any lesson that can get you out of a desert, faster and happier, in less than forty years of going around the same mountain has got to be a great one.

So how did an eleven-day journey stretch to forty years? I will attempt to summarize the main points in a layperson’s terms. According to the account as recorded in the Bible, the Israelites were an ungrateful, complaining lot. The moment a bit of problems or trouble arose, they’d begin the blame game, and in-fighting and grumbling would ensue. They would not listen to the leaders nor comply with the rules. This resulted in a breakdown of the law and order system.

During the tedious journey, it was apparent things would be hard. They were traveling through the wilderness. and the climate would have been harsh and there would have been a lack of basic necessities. And definitely, even depletion of resources. In all of this, they were so focused on their problems that they became blind to the presence of God, who was constantly guiding them, providing for them, and protecting them.

When at one point, they were without food and near starvation, He provided “manna” from heaven. Initially, they rejoiced that they had something to fill their bellies and sustain them. Then, when their hunger was satiated and they regained their strength, they began to complain that ‘manna’ was a poor substitute for the food they were used to eating in Egypt. They even began to lament their shortsightedness in following Moses. They preferred to be slaves in Egypt than to bear the hardships of an eleven-day journey.

Their attitude brought up delays in their movement and progress not only slowed down but it also came to a standstill at times. Thus, what they couldn’t bear for eleven days they bore for forty years! There are many examples of similar attitudes along the arduous journey. Without going into the philosophy and scriptural implications, let me come back to the point that is related to the lessons I learned along the way.

Going to Chile was a literal uprooting for me, from the place that had been my home for my entire life. It spelled the closing of a chapter in my life and the opening of a new one filled with uncertainty in terms of the future. It also took me out of my comfort zone; comfort of not only familiarity but also of creature comforts and the small luxuries I was used to. In a way, it was a takeoff on the exodus from Egypt. It was my lone departure to an unknown future. My sojourn would take me on a longer route with layovers at Johannesburg in South Africa, Sao Paulo in Brazil, and finally to Santiago in Chile, from where I’d have a road trip to Viña del Mar.

Not a frequent flyer, and that too a “lone” one this time, with mobility issues, to say I was nervous would be an understatement. I took the flight with complete assistance, wheelchair etc., and honestly, looking back today, I will have to admit it was almost hassle-free. I got through all the formalities aided by airline attendants. Yet, when I had long waits for flights, sitting in a wheelchair cramped, tired, and feeling a certain amount of discomfort and pain, I’d begin to moan and groan a bit to myself.

Fortunately, I had the “complain and remain” and the “go round the mountain” quotes getting me back to a more appreciative attitude. I could hardly walk by the time I landed in Sao Paulo, Brazil but I was thankful that I could sit up and also shuffle down the aisle to my seat. What’s more, I actually thanked God that I could use the toilet without assistance. Just the thought of it continues to keep me grateful.

Barely seven days in Viña del Mar, and the big earthquake rocked my world. The strongest ones I’d experienced and which had shaken me up in India had been between 3.something to 4.something! This one was like doomsday for me. Viña del Mar is in the Valparaiso region, so we felt it strong.

Refer Wikipedia: {The 2010 Chile earthquake ( Terremoto del 27F) occurred off the coast of central Chile on Saturday, 27 February at 03:34 local time, having a magnitude of 8.8 on the moment magnitude scale with intense shaking lasting for about three minutes.}

Since I had to move from our apartment on the sixth floor to a safer place due to my inability to climb down so many stairs to evacuate during the following aftershocks, measuring between 5-7 on the Richter scale, that kept tumbling in at short intervals after the big one. I had to stay somewhere that would be convenient to move out if required during a stronger aftershock or another earthquake. It took three shifts from a hotel accommodation to a friend’s place and finally to the company guesthouse.

The stress and extreme fear, not to mention the constant shifting from one temporary accommodation to another, took its toll. Not being an angel, I did mutter and kick myself, at times regret my hasty decision to travel here. But hindsight and lessons imbibed from it helped me keep looking at the silver lining that had constantly girded the dark clouds filling me with hope, trust and gratefulness to God – for life, suitable and comfortable accommodation provided by friends and my son’s company, and keeping me from injuring myself during these times. We were all safe and there was only minor damage to the apartment.

Such an attitude provided the ability to look for blessings in disguise, and a sojourn that should have spelled a disastrous pattern turned out to be a lesson in itself.

If I had continued to grumble, moan, and groan and pick at fate, God, people, and blame all for my predicament, I wouldn’t have met the amazing people I got to meet. I wouldn’t have made lovely friends there either. The innate goodness of humans would not have manifested itself, and I would have remained ignorant of the goodwill, humaneness, and the indomitable spirit of people that continued to survive even during calamitous situations.

The beauty of this picturesque city would have been lost on me and I would have marked it as “Hell.” Time would have moved painfully slow. But now, I have indelible memories of kindness, thoughtfulness, warmth, and friendship to carry along with me. The most important point is that it has underlined my belief in God and His presence in and around me at all times.

Have you ever rocked yourself in a rocking chair? Where does all that rocking take you? Nowhere! Focusing too much on the problems and difficulties of life is akin to sitting in a rocking chair. You stay stuck in one place no matter how hard you rock, you’re not going forward.

Looking back should not be a “rocking chair” moment. Hindsight should be used to find areas of change or improvement; a gleaning time for lessons. Such an attitude will see you walking ahead a wiser and more cheerful person. Why prolong misery by sticking with it?

My stay over there has given me deeper insights into my soul. I have discovered the various hues of my spirit that mark milestones in my growth as a person. And the three months I stayed there passed as a few days. Much can be accomplished with appreciation, gratitude, and determination. One needs to keep moving onward and looking for those “Kodak” moments and “ha-ha” and “ah-ha” situations. Yes, I found some ‘ha-ha’ humorous situations too, believe me. It seems incongruous in such scenarios, but I did find them and they relieved me of some tension and anxiety.

I’m sure there are many ‘exodus’ kind of stories in our life from which we can learn something… from the negatives and the positives…Life is a journey. We’re all traveling somewhere; towards something…a dream, ambition, destination, destiny… it’s good to look into the rear view mirror sometimes, and review the journey traveled.

I returned to India after three months. The lessons I had begun to learn, impacted me more when I was back on familiar territory. They went deeper into my life and the way I responded or reacted to situations and circumstances. In 2013, I finally moved to Viña del Mar, again. But this time round, I was happy to be there. There were many tremors all in the range of 4-6 almost 4-5 times in a month. And there were stronger ones between 6-7. There was a big one too, an earthquake, when I was alone while the rest of the family was out of the country!

refer Wikipedia: The 2015 Illapel earthquake occurred 46 km (29 mi) offshore from Illapel (Coquimbo region Chile) on September 16 at 19:54:33 (22:54:33 UTC), with a moment magnitude  of 8.3. The initial quake lasted between three and five minutes; it was followed by several aftershocks greater than magnitude six, and two that exceeded 7.0 moment magnitude.

This time, being alone, was the scariest thing, but my faith and trust in God’s help kept me sane though I was trembling.

This time, I was not grumbling, or muttering. My mind was clear and I was thinking calmly. I believe that when you put your trust in God, He will send help when help is needed. And that’s exactly what happened. But that’s another post for another day!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

To My Father…

They say that daughters are always daddy’s darlings. It wouldn’t be right to make such a broad generalization, though, because we know that, that isn’t always the way it is. Not to go off on a tangent pursuing that subject, I’ll just say, I was definitely Daddy’s pet. It’s been a hundred years since he died…allow me the hyperbole…I’m really missing him as I always do but especially on Father’s Day.

IMG_7757 - Copy

In our day, way back in the 60s – 80’s, in my country, we never observed ‘Father’s Day’ or any of these now popularized and commercialized “Days.” So there was only his Birthday which was, in a way, Father’s Day for us. Now Daddy never made much of his birthday, he wouldn’t invite friends over or want much of a fuss. He wasn’t given to showing emotions. He was the stiff upper lip kind of man for most of his life. I only saw a chink in his armor a year or so before he died.

No, no, I’m not going to say he began hugging his kids or gave in to tears or anything like that. He just allowed himself to speak with more emotion; show regret, sadness, longing not only in his voice but in his eyes as well. These were the emotions he never permitted himself to show earlier…for the greater part of his life.

He had a commanding personality. “Tall, dark, and handsome” in his youth, he retained his handsomeness even with his shock of thick, white, wavy hair through to his early ’80s, when he passed away.

As a boy and through his youth, he had a fiery temper which could become volatile, depending on who did what or what was said or done or not said and not done, but that had simmered down to resignation with the growing years.

He was a man of contrasts.

He also had a happy disposition. He enjoyed a good joke and was a great storyteller. He could add humor to his tales without effort or addition, solely by altering his tone and bringing in nuances that made it funny. He loved to recite poetry, write couplets (in Farsi/Urdu).

He had a good singing voice but rarely sang. He used to play the harmonium and sing when the mood took over. He loved to play the ‘tabla’ on the table or any surface that provided a firm base when he heard some good songs or music.

He loved taking us on picnics. His picnics could also mean driving miles out of our city to some picturesque spot in another town or city. We’ve been on some ‘picnics’ to Agra from Delhi. Our picnic spot: in the gardens of the Taj! And at that time in the 60s, the roads weren’t as they might be today! It was a whole day program. We’d get back at night! Otherwise, we’d be picnicking at the numerous spots in Delhi. In later years, we’d be joining him on fishing-picnics! He and my brother would be fishing and we’d have a great time with our picnic by a river.

He was passionate about learning, teaching, preaching the Bible. He was an excellent orator and it was a pleasure to hear him preach at conventions or in the church. 

He had a flamboyant disregard for conventional things; social courtesies, customs, and such. But he was strict about table manners. It goes without saying, I, the youngest would invariably be checked for reaching across the next person’s plate for a dish or something.

“Ask for the dish to be given to you or ask Mummy to serve you.”  I’d quickly comply.

But then, I’d go again with – “Give me the dish of (whatever).” There’d be a super quick, gentle reprimand.

Please, pass me the dish of (whatever).”

I’d do as told. Take the dish, happy to finally be able to get food on my plate. But that joy and hunger would be put on hold for another minute!

“Thank you!”

“Oh, I forgot!” I’d say a quick ‘thank you’ and finally dig in. 

But that wasn’t my only ‘bad table manners’. It constituted much more… ‘don’t put your elbows on the table,’ ‘don’t talk with your mouth full,’ ‘don’t battle with your fork and spoon (or knife). Cut down the clatter!’ ‘don’t swing your legs under the table’ (this one was really bad because I’d be totally oblivious that I was either kicking someone’s knees on the other side or at the least, brushing them with my feet.

That paragraph may sound as if I had a bad time at the table… on the contrary, I had a great time at family meals. These corrections were taken well. I knew I was overlooking the rules. But I was so focussed on enjoying my food and sitting and talking, around the table, with the family, (sobremesa), I hopped-skipped-and-jumped over all the etiquette that was expected at the table.

Even today, when I look back, I love the memories. I also am glad someone took the pains to teach me. Day after day, very patiently, Daddy would check me gently about something I said or something I did that could have been done differently and properly. Most of these would be on how to respond to Mummy’s disciplinary actions! He’d repeat the same things, kindly and softly, to remind me. He knew me very well and he understood that I wasn’t flouting the rules in defiance or rebellion. He also knew that his gentle correction would imprint on my young mind lessons for life. He remained my guide, mentor, and confidante, even when I was a mom myself.

He wasn’t known to write letters to anyone unless necessary. But, I received his letters quite often when I married and moved to another state. I would be thrilled to see his almost illegible (but neat) handwriting on the familiar inland letter he used when he wrote letters. Mummy would use letter paper and envelopes!

There’s so much I’ve profited by having such a father. I would have failed miserably in the biggest test of strength and courage I faced in my life if I didn’t have his teaching to fall back on. I fell many times, but each time his words, lessons would pick me up, give me strength, build up my flagging faith in God, and set me on my way. His counsel to “trust in the Lord, and don’t despair, he is a Friend so true, no matter what your troubles are Jesus will see you through,” has brought me thus far safe and sound. I am blessed to have had him as my ‘Daddy!’

IMG_0268 - Copy (2)

On this Father’s Day, I celebrate my guide, my mentor, my strength… Daddy, you were the best dad, and I thank God you were mine!

 

 

Nanaji and the Dirty Fellas

A baby has a way of making a man out of his father and a boy out of his grandfather. ~Angie Papadakis

IMG_7758 - Copy (2)

We have specific names for our relatives, to make it clear how they’re related to each other and from which side of the family they belong. For instance, paternal grandparents are Dada (grandfather) and Dadi (grandmother). So the moment a child refers to someone as Dada or Dadi, everyone knows it’s the son’s child. And if Nana (grandpa) or Nani (grandma) are used, everyone knows it is the daughter’s child.

The same goes for other relations. They are easily recognized as paternal or maternal relatives by the terms used to address them. There is no confusion about any relationship, unlike the common terms uncle and aunt or grandma, grandpa, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, etc. Each of these relatives is referred to by different names that make it clear how they are related to you.

To come back to my father and a few memories of our kids’ interactions with him. When he became a Nana, my kids and my sister’s kids called him Nanaji. The ‘ji’ is suffixed as a sign of respect for elders. As a father, he was a strict disciplinarian and had grown more reserved with the passing years. Everyone was still in awe of this man, who though mellowed with age, yet held a commanding demeanor, and a sarcastic sense of humor. 

My two boys learned to talk rather early, so their interaction with Nanaji began early too. By this time, Daddy had already transitioned to the grandparent level courtesy my elder sister’s son.

Daddy would use all his sarcastic humor on the kids, who just loved it! They were quick to retort and he would have his laugh. They often got into little ‘kiddie’ fights with him, and when we’d hear, “Dirty fella, I’m not talking to you,” we knew we would witness a wonderful, funny incident soon.

The First Grandson: Forgive and forget

One day, Daddy had a falling out with my elder sister’s son Hemant (pet name – Chiku). Chiku was three and a half then.

“Go away, I’m not talking to you, dirty fella!” says Nanaji to the scowling boy. 

Both walk off in a huff to their rooms; the grey-haired one hiding a broad grin and the younger one certainly miffed.

A few minutes later, a chubby face peeked into Nanaji’s room. He was ignored. The second and third attempts to reconcile were also met with a royal ignore! The fourth time, he came with a bunch of grapes as a peace offering. Nanaji refused to accept it, closed his eyes, and appeared to have fallen asleep.

Chiku stood and stared at him for a while. Then he decided it was too much. Enough is enough! He plucked two grapes off the bunch. Kept the bowl on the bedside table. Daddy was observing all this through his eyes that were closed to slits. He did not expect Chiku’s next move and thought the little guy had decided to eat the grapes himself. But his grandson had other plans. Before Nanaji could say, “dirty fella,” he deftly stuffed them into Nanaji’s nostrils and scampered out like a grinning monkey!

Thankfully, the grapes weren’t far in and he could snort them out easily! Then, he was in splits. He laughed so much. I can’t say what the dirty fella had expected, but I’m sure he hadn’t seen this coming. He crept back, confirmed it was a truce, and stepped into the room.

A while later, we saw them sitting together and eating the rest of the grapes.

The Second Grandson: Dirty is not good

Daddy would sit in the back verandah or in the back lawn and write when the weather was cooler in summer or warmer and sunny in winter. On one such day, Nanaji had an encounter with another three-and-a-half-year-old Ranjit (pet name Tintin), the elder son of yours truly.

Nanaji was immersed in his study and writing while Tintin played with his toys. Nanaji had an old, in fact very old, Bible which he loved, and in which he had written many notes on pages specially inserted into the binding. It had a thick, hard leather cover that was faded, well-worn for use, and cracked in places. It was open and lying face down on a table beside him.

Tintin sauntered over and looked at it. Apparently, he didn’t like the look of it. He screwed up his face and asked what book it was. Nanaji answered him without interrupting his work or looking up. A few moments later, he needed to refer to something in the Book, and well, it wasn’t on the table! he looked around and what do you think he saw?

“You dirty fella, what are you doing?” he exclaimed and jumped out of his chair to rescue his precious Bible from a washing.

Tintin had carried off the heavy, thick Bible and dunked it into a tub full of water, that was kept for two small tortoises Nanaji had bought for him. He was just getting into the washing part when it was retrieved.

“What are you doing, you dirty fella? Why did you put it in the water?”

“It was dirty so I was washing it,” replied the “dirty fella” blissfully unaware of the damage he could have caused.

Nanaji found the explanation quite plausible, and though he was worried about the Bible, he couldn’t stop laughing.

Once again, this little escapade didn’t cause major damage. Except for some notes pages getting smudged with ink (he used fountain pens which had to be refilled with ink poured out from a bottle!), so a wet page meant the ink would smudge. And, of course, a loss of Daddy’s personal notes. Apart from this, the Bible was not irretrievably damaged. We just needed to dry it out. This took a long time given the volume of pages! Thankfully, we had a few sunny days!

This was one time when the grandson antics got me a bit worried. I knew how much that antique Bible meant to Daddy. Besides its worthiness in its antiquity, it had been his companion and guide for many years. I thought that this time, the ‘dirty fella’ and his mom would have to bear the brunt of some annoyance if not anger!

I shouldn’t have worried and trusted the Daddy I’ve known since I was a girl. 

Though some note pages and notes had gone, Daddy didn’t worry much about that. He could rewrite them. But after drying out, a few of the pages were a bit crinkled like an unironed shirt and the cover looked more thumped and weary than it did before!

The third Grandson: A Lesson in Etiquette

Nanaji got a lesson in etiquette and right practice from yet another of his dirty fellas when he came on a holiday to Rajasthan. This time, it was Vineet (pet name Viny), not quite three yet. He is my younger son.

The days passed off fast, and Nanaji and the boys had a rollicking time. Then, it was time to leave. Our little one was over-eager to help. He tried to push and tug bags to a waiting taxi. Everyone was mightily impressed by the offer of help, as all the bags were too big and too heavy for him to even budge a centimeter.

Yet, he was lending the proverbial helping hand. He’d place his little hand on a bag being carried or rolled out! He hung around Nanaji, who once again saw through all the show, and was waiting to get his last laugh before leaving.

All the bags were stowed in the trunk. Mum was in the taxi and it was time to say the G’byes. Nanaji got into the taxi, but he didn’t close the door. Instead, he kept making small talk with his “dirty fellas.” We tried to hurry him but he kept stalling. Finally, what he was waiting for happened. Afraid that it would be too late, Viny took the initiative to inform his Nanaji about Rajasthani customs.

“Nanaji,” he said seriously, “jab koi jaata hai na, woh kuch de kar jaata hai.” (Trans: Nanaji, when someone leaves, he gives something and goes.)

Nanaji was thrilled. He got his laughs. He dug into his pockets and handed both the boys some money. It was customary, in those days, for elderly relatives to give the kids some money before they left. Needless to describe the glee with which the cash was handed over to mother dear (me!) as Viny rattled off all that he would buy with it, including a car.

I didn’t spoil his joy by telling him that he would fall a bit short of cash for a car!

Just for the record, he was thinking of buying a real-life size car… LOL

So #grateful for the memories.

“Love is the greatest gift that one generation can leave another.”~Richard Garnett

 

 

 

The Passing Years

IMG_8922

“As the Wheel of Time turns, places wear many names. Men wear many names, many faces. Different faces but always the same man. Yet no one knows the Great Pattern the Wheel weaves or even the Pattern of an Age. We can only watch, and study, and hope.”~Robert Jordan

 ————————————————————————————————————————— 

Christmas and New Year are the only two major events that spell #festivity to me, besides birthdays, of course. I await these two with great anticipation and joy. As the old year gives way to the new, I record my feelings and experiences of the past year and my #hopes and #aspirations for the new. They were almost the same; the same vein with a bit of variation or degrees of reactions or responses to life’s vagaries. The incoming new ‘decade’, however, brought in an absolutely unexpected, strange feeling.

The build-up to Christmas was like to any weekend – a holiday, yea! And it remained so through the run-up to New year and the start of a new decade. In fact, I went to bed at 10.30 p.m on New Year’s eve. That’s something I’d never do earlier. I’d be waiting excitedly to ring out the old and ring in the new. Then I’d wish everyone a wonderful year before falling into bed an hour or two later!

————————————————————————————————————————— 

“The lives of all people flow through time, and, regardless of how brutal one moment might be, how filled with grief or pain or fear, time flows through all lives equally.”~Orson Scott Card

————————————————————————————————————————— 

Not this time. I was drowsy and had to fight to keep my eyes open. So I flopped into bed. 

I was surprised by my lack of enthusiasm for Christmas too. I had to manufacture my happiness as an actor would slip into character or a called for emotion on stage. #Christmas is my most loved time of the year, and I was sad that I was numb to it inside of me. I went through the motions as required on cue.

I was numb to the celebrations, not in my spirit and worship. My prayer life remained steadfast and strong. My hope and trust in the Lord were firm. I was numb to social festivities. The shopping lacked the usual festive fever, something very not me. I am super elated when I shop on any day; it could be for anything and any time of the year.

I wondered if the changes in my situation were the reason. But I’ve had a major tragedy strike, faced major issues and changes in life, and still not lost the spirit of Christmas celebration. Why now? I found an old post from New Year Eve 2012 when I was uprooted from where I had lived since my birth. And I found the true ‘me’ still kicking and strong.

“Have I died?” I asked myself. 

No. not yet! I’m just tired. Very tired. I’m down but not dead.

#immovingon

————————————————————————————————————————— 

“She knew that this day, this feeling couldn’t last forever. Everything passed; that was partly why it was so beautiful. Things would get difficult again. But that was okay too.

The bravery was in moving forward, no matter what.”~Lauren Oliver

————————————————————————————————————————— 

Here’s a part of the post which gives a glimpse of a New Year past before life as I knew it was about to change.

“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 the 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 tumultuous 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 experience. There is pain, there are disappointments; 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 goals, slipping, sliding, falling, He walks along – lifting, carrying, prodding us. 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 in new places; new faces; changed climate and weather patterns; with Christmas in Summer and a Winter birthday in the month of May! New language, different food, and flavors, with new inclusions in my diet. Making new friends. Building a new social circle at this stage, learning conversion of a new currency against a rupee (though I know it is not advisable to compare rates of another currency against 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!”

With this, I send out good wishes to all my blog members and hope you have a good year! #2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grey Matters

Grey is the dominant color of winter these days. I wake up to grey mornings and peek through the curtains, desperate to see a chink in the clouds and a stray, struggling ray of sunshine yellow pushing its way through.

photo

I have nothing against the color grey. It makes up a large part of my winter wardrobe!  I also like the grey of rainy days. But when it gets cold and grey, I’d rather have yellow, red, salmon, orange… anything but grey. That being said, I must add I like winter rains; the drizzles as well as the downpours… I seem to be contradicting myself. But it’s not a contradiction, I just can’t stand the dip in temperature. But both go hand in hand here… with droplets becoming ‘ice rain’; it’s something I’m still not used to after over two years in this country.

There’s something about rain and me. Perhaps, it’s not only me… I find it romantic. These days that translates to #nostalgia. So here, in my little room, I’m all by myself and I play old numbers, gaze at the changing shades of grey outside, hoping for the sunshine tomorrow.

Gone are my days of walks in the rain. I loved that. Or frolicking under a downpour on the rooftop (terrace) of our house, drenching myself under the first shower of the monsoon season. Gone. Gone. Gone. So, I keep myself happy with cooking rainy day foods! Yes, you heard that right… rainy day foods.

We have many such assorted foods for wet, cold, and dull days that cheer up a sagging spirit. I guess there is a way that leads from the tummy to the heart after all, and it doesn’t apply only to the male species!

More days locked in due to inclement weather leads to me dreaming. I have a #dream, an #aspiration. I intend to pursue it, but right now, I’ve barely done half the spadework and I’m already #intimidated. Needless to ask why. It’s my boogeyman – technical and internetwork! They always bare their fangs and send me scuttling into a corner. However, I’ve decided not to give up.

That sounds so good… but braver than I feel, by the way! Still, I’m going to go through with it, my physical limitations and circumstances notwithstanding, even if it takes me some years. At times like these, I wish elves didn’t just dwell in fairy tales and were available at the drop of a sigh!

It surprises me how the #yearnings and #wishes pile up in direct proportion to the years I notch up on my birthdays and the amount of grey I have in my hair! Right now, I wish I were closer to my native land and all my friends, relations, and things familiar. Two decades ago, I’d not be so bothered about distances. Not for want of love but because the distance would not rise as an insurmountable obstacle.

There is more I don’t take for granted today than I did earlier. Times and people have changed and things are no longer as they used to be. I have learned more in the past decade. I take more trips down memory lane than I ever have, but I don’t dwell there.

The present may not be all that I’d dreamed of or hoped for, but what I have is far more than my expectations, given the tragedies, circumstances, and difficult times that have come my way. I’d rather live in it and learn new things and move on. And while I’m on my way, I might as well kick my heels and do a song and dance even if it’s only in my mind.

IMG_8241

The besieged sun rays!

On a lighter note, among all the new things I learn, I sometimes stumble upon newfangled words like “pizzled”. I learned that it describes, quite aptly, a situation which leaves one ‘#puzzled’ and ‘#pissed off’.

In other words, #confused and #annoyed. 

It seems that everyone has a #word #mint at their disposal. If the word gains currency, it will soon find its way into a dictionary. That’s language – dynamic and ever-evolving. Though, I’d rather say I am #confoyed if I had to coin a new word to describe how I felt in a similar situation.

I’d like to hear of some more of these new compound words. 

With this quote ringing in my ears, I sign off for today.

“You can’t beat a person who never gives up.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hidden Talents – Poetry and Music

I doubt there’s anyone outside our family circle who knows that Daddy used to write beautiful shayari and that he could play the harmonium very well, and he could sing equally well too. But trust me to know this better than anyone within the family!

Poocho kyun? (ask why?)

Well, it goes like this…

One day, Mummy saw me dancing away to glory, Indian film style, to some Hindi film song playing on the radio. I had taken a dupatta of hers, and I had pinned it on my head. I was so engrossed in swirling and twirling, I didn’t realize I had an #audience. It was only when she couldn’t suppress her laughter any longer and it burst out loud that I knew she had been watching me.

I came to an abrupt halt, and oh! boy, did I feel embarrassed or what! The whole world will get to know! She would make it into a comic headline!

Joy, the girl who played Robbers & Coppers, Cowboys & Red Indians with the boys; the catty-toting Joy was dancing like a “sissy”! It dawned on me that I’d have a few fights on my hands to re-establish my reputation as a tough girl with the band of boys (my brother and his friends) I played with more often than I did with the girls. Especially so because at the age of seven, I still managed to hold my ground with our group of boys, most of whom were older than I was!

That evening, when Daddy came home, this was the #breaking #news. I looked on with trepidation. How would he react? Would he find it hilarious and #laugh out loud? Would he think I was doing something not quite ‘Christian’? That last thought cropped up because of our Sunday School teacher. She thought dancing, especially to film songs, was not a thing ‘good’ girls or boys should do. I didn’t want her to know about this either.

He surprised me.

Ah! Once again, bless him, he was overjoyed and full of praise. No joking, no teasing… and to everyone’s surprise, he announced that now, he’d have to buy me a pair of ghungroos! This was received with mixed reactions.

Mummy was flabbergasted. I was stumped. Ghungroos for me! My reputation was doomed. Later that day, after dinner, Daddy and I had a conversation. I sat in his lap as he relaxed on the couch.

“You don’t have to buy me #ghungroos?”

“Why not? You like to dance, and ghungroos help to keep the beat and rhythm.”

“Oh, but I can keep the beat without them. I have it in my head, Daddy.”

He insisted. I desisted. He saw that there was something else on my mind.

“What is it? What’s troubling you?”

“Everyone will laugh at me,” I blurted.

“We won’t tell anyone.”

“But Jasper and Mummy will.”

“I will tell them not to,” he reassured me.

“Then, it’s ok,” I said happily. Truth is I really wanted to wear ghungroos and dance. I was smitten by the Indian #heroines on screen!

saksham-gangwar-sTp-dDBc4Xw-unsplash

The bells, aka ghungroo, which classical dancers tie around their ankles. Some folk dancers might also wear bells.  (Pic: Saksham Gangwar on Unsplash)        

One Sunday, in the afternoon, Daddy called me. He was sitting in the drawing room with the harmonium and beside it, on the table, lay the bells dancers used to tie around their ankles! He told me to get a dupatta. A few minutes later, with the odhni on my head and the bells around my ankles, I was dancing with gay abandon. Daddy played and sang with a spirit that matched my own.

What can I say about such a man who understood not only the latent love of music, rhythm, and dance but also the spirit that longed to be free in the heart of his little girl, and he gave her these #precious #moments.

“Panchchi banun, udti phirun mast gagan mein, aaj main azad hoon duniya ke chaman mein.”

Translation: I’ll be a bird and fly around in the awesome sky. Today I am free in the garden of this world.

Always nurture the talents you have. Give in to the creative urges of your faculty.

Later on, at the age of nine, I joined Mohiniyattam dance classes in Delhi, but unfortunately, I couldn’t continue with it because we moved away to another part of the city. If I had any hopes of continuing with dance classes,, it was all laid to rest with Daddy’s decision to put in his papers and take early retirement and move to his hometown. No chance of dance classes here. This one-horse town didn’t have any classical dance options. It was rural and the only dances one saw were folk dances.

So what could I do?

I took every opportunity, I got in school, to learn the #folk #dance Gidda’ and participated in every cultural performance that was put on stage! It was so much fun. I just loved it.

I owe the joy of this #experience to my father. He showed me the way to accept art, in its pure form and remove the shackles I had placed on my little-girl mind. 

 

Glossary

shayari…couplets in Urdu

Dupatta, Odhni…a piece of cloth used to cover the head. Usually made of fine, thin material.

Ghoongroo...small bells made of brass, attached in rows on a thick cloth band which is strapped onto the ankles of a dancer.

Cattyabbreviation for catapult

Mohiniyattama classical dance from Kerala (a southern state in India)

The Chair and I

“Our ‘convenience culture’ translates into too-available entertainment options, fast food, sedentary transportation, and the like. The fact is, if you want to eat right and live a healthy lifestyle, you have to work at it.”~Bruce Broussard

I’m reminded of one of those rather cheesy riddles/questions we used to throw around for fun as teenagers. It went this way:

Q. What did one chair say to the other?

A. Yonder comes another bum!”

PA280004

Fast forward to the present. When one chair says to the other, “Yonder comes another bum,” you better take it literally! We are on our derrieres more often these days and for longer periods. Kudos to the health freaks that jog, run, walk, swim, and go gymming regularly, but though they are in greater numbers today than a decade ago, they are still a minority.

I was just “another bum” until seven years back. I was so #sedentary that I could grow roots, branches, moss and all, together. Yes, I grew, you know, I grew, and grew, like Alice but unlike her, I grew horizontally and found that it wasn’t only the mirror that was getting smaller; so were my clothes, and a few arm-chairs too.

I had reached this stage because of a deficiency that affected my bones and caused severe lumbar and cervical disc problems. The wrong diagnosis and the wrong treatment made it worse. My mother had suffered from it, and she was bedridden for a long time until she died. I expected to go down the same way.

Every time I decided to exercise or go out for a #walk, the pain in my bones sent me back to the chair. What I needed was a stronger will and the conviction that exercises (certain ones) would help me immensely. I had to believe that; bear the pain, and start with ‘baby steps’ literally. But skeptic me would not budge.

“What if you can’t do what you once did, like run and jump up and down? You can walk, which is also good for your mind and mental attitude. You can do simpler exercises, like getting up and down from a chair without using your hands. You can stay fairly flexible. The most important thing is to not become sedentary.”~Richard Simmons

The stronger the doubts became, the more beached I got… a beached whale! The doctor persisted tirelessly in goading me to lift myself out of defeat, depression, and that chair. Nothing worked. As fate would have it, a shift to Chile brought about the much-needed push. It took an #earthquake (literally!) to rock the chair I had permanently lodged myself in. Read about it here: 

 This was a really massive earthquake 

Measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale, it rocked and rolled not just the city but my life as well. We had to evacuate and we were on the 6th level; there were a lot of stairs to go down and out of the building. Then the walk to a safer place. I could barely walk. This spoke to me.

The doc had said that I could “walk” myself out of a bad situation if I tried. So if I could pull myself out of that chair, I should go for it… I should, at the least, try it both physically and mentally too!

Finally, reality had hit hard and I got up and walked out of that chair in my head. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t a quick fix. It took a long time, a very long time and some more tremors and earthquakes before I started with 5-7 steps which would take more minutes than the steps I took. That was as much as my initial ‘walks’ were.

But this time around, I gritted my teeth; I bore the pain, pushed myself, and was encouraged by the extra step or steps I would take from day to day… one laborious step at a time. Finally, the day came when I was counting a thousand steps! It is hard to explain the elation. The “I did it!” jubilation.

“When you stimulate your body, your brains come alive in ways you can’t stimulate in a sedentary position.”~Twyla Tharp

Today, I’m addicted to my daily walks. I count my steps and clock my time; I’m counting my steps to a healthier me. I’ve realized the importance of doing my physio exercises, as the Ortho advised, and I’ve seen the huge benefits. Exercises and my walks in the fresh outdoors have added benefits of de-stressing the mind, stimulating the digestive system, and giving me a ‘feel good’ feeling within. And I’m the better for it.

The chair and I are still friends, however, I would like to spend less time in it, but alas! My work demands that I sit on a chair in front of a laptop for hours on weekdays. That being said, I’m less of a “bum” and it has stopped being my #crutch.

“Health is wealth” is an old adage. I didn’t realize the literal, hard truth behind it until I lost health and with it a lot of wealth. I see many young people at the Orthopedic’s with lumbar, cervical problems. Modern life has made us sedentary and that’s a mild way of putting it. In truth, comparatively speaking, it has made us want everything to be easy, quick and readily available. In the bargain, we’re becoming lazy and unhealthy. Everything is instant gratification… we want easy and fast.

“Barry L. Jacobs and colleagues from the neuroscience program at Princeton University showed that when mice ran every day on an exercise wheel, they developed more brain cells and they learned faster than sedentary controls. I believe in mice.”~Bernd Heinrich

If due to various reasons, running is not possible and highly unadvisable, as for me, the next best thing is walking! The main point is to do some form of exercise.

Fitness and Food

The other important thing is diet. This cannot be emphasized enough.

How does this combo tie-in with staying healthier? Well, both; what you eat and how you exercise are important in the larger picture. Just exercising without eating a healthy, balanced diet according to your needs, would not do much. And it applies vice versa too! I have benefitted more by following a restricted diet that is suited to my condition in tandem with recommended exercises.

However… the times they are a-changing.

There was a time when food meant fresh food cooked daily. Most people, I’ve met and spoken to, eat pre-cooked food bought at the super-stores, or canned stuff. They justify this by saying that they don’t have the time or that they don’t like to cook or anything that lets them off the cooking routine. The day has the same twenty-four hours for everyone, but time management is not the same for everyone… that’s got to be learned along with organization, which helps immensely.

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”~Jim Rohn

I’m not just saying that because it’s the thing to say. I’ve done it, with two jobs going. As a single, working mom, with no one to whom I could delegate jobs, it was tough but possible. However, if I didn’t manage my time and didn’t #organize things at home, it would have become impossible. I could even do fast and easy meals without compromising on fresh, healthy, and delicious meals, three times a day, with the other domestic tasks done in time.

How?

With time management & Organization.

I kept things simple. I had a simple, manageable, to-do plan for everything (even menus!). I divided them into holidays and weekend to-dos and weekday ones. This made it manageable and sustainable for a long period. It meant I could manage my time better, and it brought in routine. Though my weekdays were hectic with no time to indulge in any activity that sounded like “hobby” or “leisure,” it left enough time at the weekends; to relax and enjoy meeting friends and family or just sitting and reading or watching my fav shows.

The other thing is – Food – daily diet – cooking it!

Home-cooked Meals

“Cooking and baking is both physical and mental therapy.” ~Mary Berry

Balanced diets, freshly cooked home food and exercise involve time and work. So, if ever you don’t get time to exercise, a day or two, your work in the kitchen will stand in fine. Better than no exercise at all! But don’t make it a habit… nothing can substitute a good walk. 

Everyone has 24 hours in their day. How you use those hours and how much you accomplish depends on how you plan your schedule, both, work (if you are a working woman) and your home chores. That means #discipline is important. You can draw up N-number of schedules and plans, but if you do not keep to it, it’s a sheer waste of time.

“Don’t we do enough work at our desks and don’t we deserve ‘easy and fast’, especially at home?”

Yes, you do work hard. Yes, you do deserve rest but would you want it even if it means compromises? I guess you’ll make the right choice here. 

If your answer to that is “no compromise on exercise and fresh-cooked home meals,” you’re a part of the moving-toward-a-healthier-life minority, Yay!

But if it is a “Yes”…Hmm… can’t blame the chair for its #sarcastic #humor! 

boy-2758833_640

 

 

 

 

Running Away

After all, it’s one thing to be running away when someone’s chasing you. It’s entirely another to be running alone.”~Jennifer E. Smith

Daddy was a restless boy. He had an overactive #imagination and was forever up to some prank or making an endeavor to live out his dreams. This was one side of the dreamer, poet, artist, and fun-loving boy. However, buried, not far beneath, in his soul, smoldered a terrible #temper; perhaps an accumulation of all the unspent energy and also the frustrations he had. He was impetuous and reacted, often, very irrationally when in a rage. Usually, it meant beating up someone or being destructive in some way. Though, to him, it wasn’t destructive at all; it was justice. Either righting a wrong or defending one who’d been wronged.

299179_10150385237524929_636906776_n

One day, when he couldn’t get his way with his mother and couldn’t convince her to see things his way, he decided to run away from home. He must have been about thirteen or fourteen then. They lived in a small town where my grandfather was a teacher in the Government School. Daddy didn’t have any money nor did he have a plan in mind. So when his temper cooled down and he realized that running away from home wasn’t the wisest thing to do, he was already quite far away from home.

“Running away was easy; not knowing what to do next was the hard part.”~Glenda Millard

#Hunger and #fear weren’t making things any better. He kept walking and sat down only when his legs couldn’t hold up any longer. He was sitting near a watermelon rehri (cart) and one can only imagine how much his mouth must have watered and his tummy growled for a bite. He was #miserable and wanted to go home, but being #arrogant, he did not know how he’d face not only the beating he was bound to get but also the humiliation of defeat. He found it harder to say, “Sorry,” and accept his fault than sit out his hunger and fatigue.

At one point, he did come close to giving up and going back. It was Summer and the Punjab summers are extremely harsh. Perhaps he would have swallowed his pride and turned homewards but someone approached him. It was a eunuch.

On any other day, he wouldn’t have responded nor entertained conversation with this person. This day wasn’t any other day. Daddy didn’t bother to dwell on the social stigmas that surrounded eunuchs; it was a relief to have someone #sympathetic talk to him. He spilled out his story and didn’t feel ashamed to cry. The eunuch consoled him and gave him slices of watermelon which he walloped down.

With his hunger and thirst satiated, he expressed his desire to return home, worried now that his mother who loved him very much would be sick with worry and crying. But the eunuch talked him out of it. Daddy reluctantly acquiesced to what he said more from a sense of #gratitude than #conviction. So he quietly went along and they reached Karnal, a town very far from Daddy’s home. Here he was made comfortable in the eunuch’s shack and told to rest as it had been a tiring journey. The eunuch went off to earn his living singing and dancing dressed as a woman.

Back in Daddy’s hometown, his parents were stirring up search parties. Everyone known to anyone in the family was out looking for him. The news of Daddy’s disappearance reached Melzhar Gilani, who later went on to become a Judge, and he swung into action. Fortunately, his contacts proved to be excellent detectives and Daddy’s whereabouts were traced to Karnal. Before the day was through Uncle Melzhar went down to Karnal himself and rescued Daddy from the eunuch. Uncle Melzhar Gilani belonged to an influential and rich family, and it was enough to warn the eunuch not to try and come anywhere near Daddy again.

Contrary to Daddy’s fears, he was received with tears of joy and relief. 

“Questions from earlier circle like buzzards. Am I running away or moving forward?”~Doug Cooper

One would think he had learned his lesson; he had in a way, but it wasn’t that running away wasn’t the solution. About four years later, he ran away again. This time, however, he knew where he was going and what the purpose of his mission was, and he carried some money with him. It seems that the lesson he had learned was that running away was fine if one had a destination, plan, and a constructive purpose for it.

I fancied the #adventure and thrill attached to such stories, but I could never be fully convinced that this was the right way to achieve one’s goals. There are other ways, which perhaps might mean #confrontation, but they serve to guide you and also provide you with other viewpoints and better #options.

Maybe, that’s why, though I dreamed of running away as a 6-7-year-old, and even kept a few of my valuables bundled in a handkerchief, tied to a stick a la vagabond, I never did want to ever leave home that way! This is the humorous side of my take away as a child.

Very early in life, I learned where to draw the line and also to distinguish which fantasies could be realities and which only made for good play-acting and dreaming.

Daddy didn’t advocate running away as a means to an end. His mistakes were youthful ones, made in haste and perhaps regretted bitterly in quiet moments. He never admitted it openly, but I can safely draw this conclusion from the way he guided me with lessons on #perseverance, #determination and going through rather than around. His main stress always lay on getting a sound education as the way to achieve one’s goals.

In the final analysis, Daddy had learned some valuable lessons from his #shenanigans and he passed these on to me. What I marvel at is the way he taught me; by recounting tales of his successes and mistakes. He never hid his escapades and neither did he conceal the negative outcomes. He blamed no one for the adverse consequences of his actions and gave credit, where due, for his achievements.

He neither denounced his actions nor praised them. He left it for me to work out. I had questions which he never fended, answering each honestly. I had to seek my own ‘Truth,’ he only showed me the way to the ultimate truth. From him, I have learned to live my life with courage and a firm belief in God. 

 

 

 

Happily, Everafter is a Choice

“Tell your children some good family stories, and you’ll be remembered for generations. Be the story, and you will live forever.”~Joy Clarkson

I trawled through my memories for stories, incidents, and anecdotes I could add to my collection of ‘paans’ and ‘giloris’ (tidbits) for my ‘#khaandaan ka paandaan, (the family cache of differently flavored ‘paans’), and as I did, I wondered about my need to recount little snippets and snapshots of our family life. I believe it is very important to know, if not all, then, most of the people (nuts too!) of one’s family tree.

But what’s more important to know is how they lived, and what ingredients were stirred into their lives that produced characters and lives so varied and diverse that one wouldn’t even know they were related if the family tree didn’t join them. It also helps to know which ancestor to blame for all the quirks you have!

I enjoyed listening to the yarns about my parents and older siblings. I also learned a few things; some ‘what to do’ things and some ‘what not to do’, and a bit of ‘left to do’ stuff. So was this the reason why I was going down the tunnel to the past? I mulled a while, and the outcome was the quote which opens this chapter!

Once again, I go back to where my story starts, with my mother and father.

10365644_10152415715119929_1023283820802389678_o mumdad

The Royal Indian Navy and the WRINS

“A great #marriage is not when the ‘perfect couple’ come together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.”~Dave Meurer

Daddy decided to join the Navy as a sailor to fight the war – WWII. He was only seventeen when he made this momentous decision, but more on that later. The British were ruling India so the Naval Force in India was called the Royal Indian Navy. The women’s division was known as the Women’s Royal Indian Navy Services, and the recruits to this wing were referred to as WRINS.

Having earned his commission in the UK, Daddy returned to India. He was in the signals division, posted at Bombay, now known as Mumbai. He bossed over some WRINS who were stenographers and made up his department. My story revolves around only this group in his office because it is important to the development of this narrative.

Daddy was a youth from rural Punjab, with an excellent physique and handsome face. Tall and dark, he fitted the bill to be a Barbara Cartland hero… “tall, dark, and handsome.” Needless to say, he was much sought after by women, including those in his office. He was quite aware of the effect he had on them and enjoyed the attention they lavished on him. The drawer of his table would be filled with chocolates; just one of the bribes to ensure they didn’t get a rough day at work! Daddy was a strict disciplinarian and low on patience if things didn’t go accordingly.

No matter how many times I heard this story, I never failed to marvel at the stupidity of these WRINS. Why on earth were they giving Daddy chocolates! They should have been receiving them from him!

“Ab woh laakar rakhte the meri drawer mein, toh main kha leta tha. Unko bola thodi na tha ki mujhe chocolate achchi lagti hai” (“They’d bring them and put them in my drawer, and I’d eat them. I never told them that I liked chocolates.), he would laugh off my childish contempt. I guess these WRINS knew the ‘mellowing’ quality of chocolate!

“Of course, you used to ask them to get you chocolates. And when they wouldn’t, you’d get angry.” Mummy was quick to correct him. The jealousy apparently still lurked within.

Daddy would refute that with a silent nod of his head.

This was the cue for someone to ask if everyone, without exception, gave in to this extortion. And I promptly did!

“Oh no, everyone wouldn’t. There was this small Burmese who refused to comply,” he’d say, his eyes twinkling.

We’d all turn to look at Mummy who’d be blushing and smiling shyly; another cue for more questions, and I’d shoot them.

“Why didn’t you bring chocolates?”

“Did you get a rough day at work”

“Didn’t you like Daddy?”

How many girlfriends did he have?

“Were you jealous?”

Whenever these #conversations took place, I sought the same information in different ways;  but the answers were always the same as was the accompanying bashfulness. Despite the well-worn, oft-told anecdotes, the interest remained fresh on both sides of the table; just as Mum and Dad retained the #timeless #joy of their courtship even though they had been married for donkey’s years.

31865_410247814928_3323506_n Mumdad

I listened and marveled, at the love that had bound these two very different people, with renewed interest. For every wrinkle, every gray hair that got added, with the passing of time, made it more amazing that the story could still evoke the same feelings which #youthful #romance had embedded in their hearts forever.

“Love me when I least deserve it because that’s when I really need it.” `Swedish Proverb

I’m not even remotely suggesting their life was Utopian bliss for them. They had their squabbles and bitter fights. As I mentioned earlier, they were poles apart in all things. And that’s what makes it unbelievable. Daddy doted on Mummy even though she drove him mad at times… most times. And she remained forever jealous and possessive of him till she died.

Theirs might not be an ideal love story as love stories go, but it had all the ingredients of which legendary romances are made. Boss and steno; rich-poor divide; North-South chasm; urban-rural culture chasm; language barriers (with in-laws), whirlwind courtship, parental objection, elopement, alienation; they went through it all and survived the tests! Taken in the time that they did all this, it is commendable. I’m talking about a long time back. They married in July 1947, in a small, conservative town in Punjab!

“Love is a verb. Love – the feeling – is the fruit of love the verb or our loving actions. So love her. Sacrifice. Listen to her. Empathize. Appreciate. Affirm her.”~Stephen R. Covey

I still smile when I picture Daddy teasing Mum, obviously savoring those long-gone moments. He’d look lovingly at Mummy who’d be as shy as a new bride as she smiled and glanced at him with apparent adulation. Yes, they sure had something special between them.

 

Glossary: 

Paans and Giloris: Paan is betel leaf with supari (areca nut) and other things added to it. Chewing paan is an age-old practice deeply rooted in India. A Gilori is also a paan, but smaller in size.

Khaandan: Family. Earlier it meant the whole extended family… a joint family… grandparents, mom-dad, including boys of the family (brothers) and their families.

Paandaan: A container that had the betel leaves and all the other things that would go into a paan. These were usually ornate; they could even be in silver and decorated beautifully. Families that chewed paan (especially the women) habitually kept these paandaans. They were usually found in the homes of affluent families.

 

 

 

 

There’s Something About…

There’s something about shoes: new shoes in particular! I’m hopelessly in love with them.

I remember, when I was a little girl, I went to bed with my new shoes every time a new pair came home. I would push my little hands into each shoe and gently rub the smooth soles on my cheeks; I’d kiss them and cuddle them and wake up in the middle of the night to make sure they hadn’t walked away or worse, I hadn’t crushed them under me! But that craziness was short-lived; it all ended when I turned eight. The passion didn’t die, but I no longer cuddled, kissed or went to bed with them.

There’s something about the leathery smell of brand new shoes!

There's something about

 

There’s something about walking barefoot on dew-drenched grass! Nothing could be more refreshing.

I loved an early morning walk, on the lawn in the front of the house, before the fresh dew drops evaporated. And I’d walk barefoot. Fortunately, I had lawns in whichever house I lived in. Sometimes the lawns were small, but the grass was always lovely; springy, green and well trimmed.

In my country, it is believed that doing this is not only relaxing but also good for the eyes. Well, I don’t subscribe to the eyesight thing but endorse the relaxing bit.

There’s something about the combination of dew, green grass, and early mornings!

There's something about

 

There’s something about sitting on a rock with your feet in a running mountain stream!

During my stay in the northern hilly regions in India, I had the opportunity to indulge my feet this way. At one picnic spot, the stream I dipped my feet in had tiny fish that swam around and between my feet and splayed toes and it tickled. Not enough to make me burst out laughing or make me uncomfortable; it was relaxing like a massage! Though I do confess, initially, I was worried they’d nip off flesh but that didn’t happen. Another confession, I prefer just clear water without the company of those little hosts!

It’s about clear, cool water washing over your feet and through your toes as you wiggle them… and about blue skies and white clouds… it’s about rustling leaves, languid sunrays, silence, and vast open spaces.

Yes, there’s something about feet, running water and the mountains!

There's something about

 

There’s something about sunsets! It just shuts me up… no words to break the magic spell it casts.

IMG_6020

Vibrant changing colors, darkness creeping in, on cue, as daylight gently slips away… poetic, romantic, stirring. I love sunsets and would rather watch the sun setting than look at the sun rising. I love the promise the sinking sun gives me of another day as it drops out of sight with ‘Hasta mañana’, a reminder that tomorrow is another day. This fills me with gratefulness so deep that my heart sings praises to God. 

IMG_6390 5.20 pm

There’s something about watching a sunset. The sun sliding behind a mountain range or sinking into the sea… or retiring behind a concrete jungle… there’s nothing as grand and majestic yet so peaceful!

more sunset

 

There’s something about shopping at Christmas time!

It’s exhilarating! The hustle-bustle, lights, decorations, beckoning window displays and sales give me a high. And though it’s as warm, cheerful and friendly as it is frantic and exasperating, it is sheer fun! 

What is it about Christmas shopping that makes me more generous than I am? I think it is a combination of many things; the greatest being the birth of Jesus. Add to it… carols, mid-night service (in India), freezing cold, heaters, radiators, woollies. Not to forget the big appetites that find satisfaction in gormandizing at family get-togethers.

Yes, there’s something about this time of the year that softens hearts, mellows spirits, brightens the days, and opens pockets! This last one many might regret at leisure!

xmas 2018

 

There’s something about old photo albums! Old photographs and warm memories.

I could go through old albums and look at photographs for hours. Each one sparks a memory and I relive beautiful, funny, touching and sweet moments. There’s something in the way it connects the past and the present… family, friends, and moments.

There’s something about old songs! They’re like old albums and photographs; you don’t tire of them.

Most of the new ones, even of my time, never survive beyond a season; and there are those golden oldies which have come down the ages. These songs that became hits in their time, both western and Indian songs, are still hummable, singable, and played on the new digital devices of the time. Many of their tunes have been copied and set to new lyrics! These are everlasting melodies not the ‘hear’ today and gone tomorrow’ kind of songs.

There’s something about old photograph albums and old songs that’s magical.

There's something about

 

There’s something about living with all this technology!

I can’t imagine life without – the internet, Wi-Fi, mobile phones, laptops, computers, social networks… There’s something about these things… They’re addictive.

I experimented with leaving my mobile phone home. It felt good… great, in fact, as I told myself, ‘See, girl, you aren’t addicted to or dependent on the phone, and you aren’t nervous, anxious, or lost without it.’

Really?

Yes, for the first thirty minutes! Then on, I was all that and more.

What if I get a disc problem?

What if my knee acts up and I can’t walk?

What if this and what if that happens… there were the most ridiculous things spinning around my head and my wild imaginings kept me on tenterhooks and I didn’t enjoy a minute of my outing alone. How did I become so dependent on these gadgets and thingummies?

I grew up in an era that had the ubiquitous black phone sitting on a table in the corner. It couldn’t go around with me, but I remembered all the phone numbers of family and close friends. I remembered the addresses and house numbers of people we knew. I wasn’t bothered, unnecessarily, when we were out about how we’d reach our family or get help in an emergency. The kids went to school and I had no way of tracking them. 

I was not anxious or unduly worried the way I am today without my mobile phone or a laptop or iPad.

Why?

I realized that I cannot remember anyone’s phone numbers. I even forget my own! Years of not having to memorize these things like addresses and phone numbers has weakened my memory. I am dependent on my phone to get me whoever I want at a click! I don’t remember routes either…why should I? Just follow the GPS.

Yes, there’s something about these luxuries; they make you dependent.

 

There’s something about life and living!

There’s a lot to say about a life of helping, sharing, caring, loving and forgiving. There’s a lot to say about life itself. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor or if your challenges are great and life is tough. Whether you have family or friends to fall back on or they are conspicuous by their absence… there’s a common thread that keeps us going. None wants to stop living. Life is something we don’t want to give up and wouldn’t if it were up to us. We want more and more of it and are willing to go through life even when the going gets tough.

There’s something about life that’s #addictive! 

There's something about

boy-2758833_640