Wednesday, July 31, 2013

UBD day 31- Looking back......



Ah! What a month this has been! When I wrote my first post for UBC on the first of this month, I had very little faith that I would finish doing what I started. It seemed like a herculean task to write everyday. But having been there, done that, I realise that it is all in the mind.




That couldn't be more correct! 

And the blogger buddy who inspired me to do this, Shilpa , has herself been a standing testimonial to this! I saw her go to the extremes, stretching herself, and still going strong and it inspired me not to give up. In the middle of sick kids, exams, schedules gone haywire, I looked upto her as an example to keep going. 

I discovered new bloggers on the way. 

 Bhavya  who has an excellent command over the written word, Pixie who could write on a myriad of subjects, Kajal and Kathy who shared their wonderful experiences with us, and Smita whom I connected with on a personal level sharing mommy experiences! 

I also discovered two fun to be with buddies, Dee and  Chiky . While Dee bore her way into my heart with her endearments, contemplative posts and fun filled challenges, Chiky filled my heart with delight with her humour filled reads. They have been two of the sweetest bloggers I have come across. I also discovered how similar Dee and I were! 

I marveled at how SuKu came up with themed challenges for every week. If it was travel one week, it would be food the other, and the last week was excellent with the 7 sins thrown in. That organised way of blogging is something I must learn from her!

This is one girl I cannot rave enough about, Richa. She wrote a month long story weaving each character expertly, keeping us on tenterhooks about what would happen next! Hats off to her! 

 The non- participants of the UBC  and my regular blogger friends stayed with me, encouraging and pushing me, esp. Ankur, who stayed with me throughout this challenge with his lovely words of encouragement and Usha Ma'm with her wise words.

This has been a truly fulfilling experience, and thank you Cornine  for giving us this opportunity to connect and share. 

Cheers!

(Image Courtesy :Google)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

UBC day 30 - A thought to end the day.



So many of us are what other's want us to be. Our thought's are someone else's opinion. Opinions on how we should lead our lives. 

Don't let anyone break into your soul. Because these are the ones who will do anything to see you fail and fall, so never give them that satisfaction. They actually do very little for you, but end up having an enormous control over your life. Who are those people? Did you find them? 

Do you realise who are the ones who actually care about you? You'll find them close by. But they are the ones we have ignored forever. They are the ones who have still been around. While we have been busy looking elsewhere. While we have been busy handing over the reins of our lives to someone else. 

How different would our lives be if we stopped allowing other people to dictate how our lives should be, stop allowing them to poison our day with their thought's and opinions.

Let that day be today. Let us stand strong in our journey of the day without attachment to validation of others.

Stop letting people who do so little for you control so much of your mind, feelings and emotions. 




Monday, July 29, 2013

UBC day 29- Mission accomplished!

Today I had to attend a Parent-Teacher meeting at the elder one's school. They have just finished their first unit test, and we had been called for an interaction to discuss our kids performance. To say the least, the little one is a genius of sorts. He had yet again scored 100% marks.

"Well, what do I say," began the teacher, "he has performed exceptionally well, standing first not just in my class, but in the entire class 4. All I can say is, advise him not to be overconfident after this performance."

I was aghast hearing that. I wanted to tell her that this is not a first for my child. He has always been a top performer, scoring full marks in every exam he writes ever since he was in first standard. And I have never seen him pride and gloat about his performance ever. This winning streak is not restricted to academics but he also excels in sports and creative arts. There you can see awards for Karate, Abacus, Skating, Olympiads, Spell-bees, Drawing, GK, Debates, Extempore speeches, Quiz....you name it, he's a pro!




But the subject of this post is not to gloat about his achievements, but it is to pat myself for the policy that I consciously adopted in order to make him immune to his achievements. I had been receiving a lot of flak from family and friends for this, but I stuck to it and now I can proudly say, "I was right!"


I realised that he is a child prodigy, when he was just 6. He had won several awards in the very first year of school. Instead of being happy, I was seized with anxiety. When everyone in the family was busy showering praises on him, I was secretly hoping that the success does not go his head. I was worried that if it does, what would happen when he does not succeed.

That's when I made this decision. I decided to celebrate only his participation in events and not wins. Every time he put his effort for something, we rewarded it by doing something he loved, like taking him to the planetarium, or a favourite cartoon movie, or spend time however he wished, or ordering his favorite foods. There would never be a materialistic gift given, no toys, no glittering gifts. I encouraged him to put all the effort he could, but never showed too much excitement when he announced that he had won something. I also never prodded him to stretch himself or work towards winning.

Over a period of time he learn't that winning or losing is a by-product of his effort. I realised that the lesson had been ingrained in him, when someone congratulated him on his success and he merely nodded and said thanks without a trace of emotion on his face.

That person asked me, "What have you done to your son, why isn't he excited on his win?"

When I explained, she said, "Are you out of your mind? He is just a small child, if you don't celebrate his wins how will he be motivated to do better or win again? You are teaching him wrong things."

I had suddenly begun to doubt my own style of parenting. Was I wrong? Was I responsible for depriving him of his happiness? While these self effacing doubts continued to muddle my head, something happened.

He is a spell bee champion, he stood first in the school round, and then fifth in the inter school round, he bagged the second place in the state round and was placed eleventh nationally. He was preparing for the international oral round after he cleared the international written round with an 'A+'. He had put in quite a lot of effort and he was hoping to crack the oral round too.

After a non stop winning streak, the inevitable happened! Unfortunately, he did not make it to the top 20 in the last and final round. I was hoping he would not take it to heart. Imagine my relief when he took it quite coolly.

 "It's ok mamma", he said, as if I was the one who needed to be consoled, "I did my best, but maybe the top 20 did even better."

That's it! No tears, no sad face, no drama, no hue and cry. I cannot even begin to tell you how proud I was of my child. More than that I was convinced that my style of parenting is not wrong at all. But secretly I wondered if he was actually upset. I wondered if he would still be motivated to put his efforts again. That doubt was laid to rest when a close family member called him and gave him the gyan about how there is always a next time. And my little champ promptly answered back,

"I'm not upset at all Aunty, I might have not won the trophy, but the prizes were only for the top 20, so I have actually not failed because I performed really well. I am happy with my effort. And my mother says, that I must only put my effort and not worry about winning or losing."

That was all I needed to hear!

This unit test came close on the heels of that spell bee competition and we celebrated his efforts after the exams were over by going to his favorite pizza joint. Today, the day of the results, was a quiet day, of sobered down pats and muted 'well done's'.

I wanted to explain all this to his teacher when she talked about my son getting overconfident. How would I explain to her that this child has not been reared that way at all and who could know that better than me?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

UBC day 28- grinning like a Cheshire cat!

I am grinning like a Cheshire cat since last night. Why? Because the scores for the ongoing IBL at Write Up Cafe have been announced!! And....... my post -" Nipped in the bud" was right on top with the maximum scores! The cherry on the cake was that our Team Central were also the toppers of the semifinal round!



The quarter final round got my post "Fire- That rages within" a second place. So that's two in row and reason enough for me to be grinning from ear to ear!! :)





Saturday, July 27, 2013

UBC day 27 - I can.


Just a little sapling I was,
with dreams that eyes behold,
Fire in my belly and faith in my heart,
Waiting for life to unfold.

You mustn't grow, no rights have you,
they cried and pinned me down,
I pushed, I fought, I kicked, I begged,
but they would not let me crown.

Losing all hopes, I cocooned within,
scared and shaken and sad,
limp I lay on the earth alone,
lifeless, cold and unclad.

You mustn't lose hope, you can stand up tall,
said a little voice from within,
grow your roots, gain the strength,
learn to grit and grin.

Don't give up yet, the mind's your puppet,
you can guide it as you might,
teach yourself to be so strong,
that one day you can stand upright.

I know I can and I know I will,
One day the demons defeat,
and that is the day when I will have,
the whole world at my feet. 









Friday, July 26, 2013

UBC day 26 Red rice idly...

It's over to my food blog today. I learn't this from a neighbour who is from Kerala. It turned out really well and tasty too. Turning over the recipe to you.

Red rice might not look as appetizing as its delicate, polished counterpart, basmati, but it can do wonders. Red rice has a nutty flavor, and a high nutritional value, thanks to the fact that the germ of the rice is left intact.

Here's a recipe with red  rice. It is a double cook method, but quite simple and tasty !

Ingredients-


red rice 1 cup washed and ground to a fine powder 
grated coconut- a small cup
onions chopped fine
 
                                                            
 other ingredients-
green chillies
curry leaves
groundnut
1 tsp each gram dal, urad dal
1 tsp mustard seeds
3 tsp oil
salt to taste

Method-

In a kadai heat 3 tsp of oil. splutter mustard seeds, add 1 tsp each of urad dal and gram dal and a handful of groundnuts and fry till starts to turn crisp.

Add in the green chillies, curry leaves and onion and fry till the onion is cooked or turns light pink. Add the grated coconut and salt as per taste and mix well.

Add 1 1/2 cup of water for every cup of rice powder. Bring water to a boil, and as the water bubbles, add the powdered red rice and stir well so that no lumps are formed.

The method is similar to making upma. Keep on flame till the mixture looks dry enough to be patted into a tikki.

Place small tikkis on the idly stand and steam cook it for 15 minutes without whistle.

Serve hot with chutney.

the tadka











Nutritional benefits-  (courtesy: http://www.livestrong.com)

Red rice contains proanthocyanidins, which is an antioxidant,may reduce high cholesterol and hyperglycemia in type-1 and type-2 diabetes.

Consuming red rice may help lower cholesterol levels.

A one-quarter cup serving of red rice supplements iron intake by providing 2 percent of the daily recommended intake. The iron in red rice contributes to the production of myoglobin and hemoglobin.

Including red rice in your diet helps increase fiber intake. You need 25 to 38 grams of fiber each day, and a serving of red rice provides 2 grams.

Similar food posts can be found at my cookery blog... A pinch of spice and all things nice.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

UBC Day 25 - The prank.


Neeti and Nayan, the best of friends from school, were on cloud nine. Both of them had landed a job with a TV channel and were selected to host a laughter gag series with it. They were given the job of luring gullible people to their pranks and make a fool out of them. They loved their job because that is what they were good at since their school days.

Today they had assembled at an outdoor location out of their city. The director explained the scene to them. Neeti and Nayan were to pose as newlyweds and ask the “victim” to click their photograph from the other side of the road. Just as the photo was taken, the crew SUV would pass by slowly between them. In a split second, the door would open and Neeti and Nayan would exchange places with an identically dressed but much older couple seated inside. The SUV would pass and the ‘victim-photographer’ would be in shock to see an old couple in place of the young. And to add to his shock the instant print out coming out of the camera would be that of the old couple, which would already be set in place. That would freak the victim out. The entire act would be filmed for the TV audience.

‘Oh! This was going to be so much fun’.

They had managed to fool eight passerby’s so far when Neeti spotted the next victim.

Nayan, look our next bakra”, she shouted excitedly.

The victim was fast approaching and they called up their crew to be ready. They spoke their rehearsed lines and the victim agreed to photograph them. They posed for the photo, and Neeti could feel Nayan’s hand on her hips.

‘Strange’, she thought , ‘she and Nayan were close friends but not lovers. And he had never touched her like that, not even for a photograph.’ She made a mental note to reprimand him after the shoot. As the SUV approached they got into it and the older couple alighted from it.

Nayan looked at the victim again from the tinted glass and remarked, “ Doesn't he look like Karan?”

“Don’t ever mention his name, Nayan, not even for fun. I hate him.”

Neeti had herself thought so too, but chose not to say it aloud. She did not want to remember Karan, the college romeo who had proposed to her a million times. The guy she hated the most, and had set up a prank with Nayan to make fun of, in front of the whole college. Nayan had persuaded him for a snap with her on the last day of college. He had purposefully dropped a banana peel near Karan’s shoes. Karan had skid and fallen down and they had a hearty laugh at his expense. Someone told them that Karan had to be hospitalized after that incident.

Served him right’, she thought, ‘that will teach him to be more respectful of women.’


As she was lost in her thoughts she saw the older couple approach the crew.

“Hey guys, the prank didn’t work this time. Who swapped our photo with this one?” the elderly man was screaming.

The entire crew rushed to see what had gone wrong.

Neeti’s blood froze when she saw the photograph.

It was Neeti’s picture with Karan standing with his hands on her hips, exactly like he had stood that day!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

UBC day 24- Weak in the knees and a flutter in my heart!



“'ea?” I croaked. The 'T' lost in transition. 
Hubby dearest looked at me like I had just landed from Mars and he was hearing an alien speak.
“See, that’s what happens when you don’t know when to stop.”
He was obviously taking a pot shot at last night’s ‘mehfil-e-khas’ at a friend’s house. We had gathered at Anil’s house for a weekend night out and Anil brought out his brand new karaoke system and plugged it all together. After we had all oooh’d , and aaah’d at the piece, we got together for the mike testing and singing. Friends took turns singing and the mike finally landed in my hands. I flipped through the list of songs as if I was a pro.
 It will be imperative here, to tell you that singing is my passion, but unfortunately my vocal cords went on strike when I was born and never returned. All they left behind was their poor cousin who at best makes me sound like I’ve swallowed a frog! Nevertheless, I saw a long listing of Kishore Kumar’s songs and they brought an instant rapture, a feeling I cannot describe! I picked up the mike and cleared my voice, all set to give the Indian idols a run for their money. The lyrics ran amok on the TV screen and I broke into a full throttled performance as if it was my last day on earth! The song ended and I was so mighty pleased with myself that I couldn’t bring myself to part with the mike.
‘Can I sing just one more song’, I pleaded.
‘Of course go ahead’, they chorused.
They must have probably kicked themselves right after they said those four beautiful words! Because, right away I got to demonstrating my non- existent singing skills, belting out one number after another!
I must confess I am a self-proclaimed, obsessive fan of Kishore da. I have listened to his songs umpteen times .I listen to him every waking hour, irrespective of whether I am cooking, cleaning, eating, reading, blah blah. I sing along, not just the lyrics but the music too! From the first note to the last...so much that with the first note of music I know which song it is! When I hear the master sing, my mind just wafts to him like the smoke from an incense stick. And stays there. His voice makes me go weak in my knees. That is the effect his music holds over me. Mesmerizing and enchanting! He transports me to different world where there is just me and his voice (and in the background swaying trees and gentle breeze, fragrant flowers and gurgling streams, chirping birds and dancing butterflies!) Yes, magical is the word!

So how could I just let go of the opportunuity to sing his songs here? 

As for the others, they had given up all hopes of karaoke-ing and had resigned themselves to hear me croak.
I went on and on till I could go on no more. It was almost three in the morning and I was sounding like I had swallowed a hundred frogs! But I must confess, I had thoroughly enjoyed myself! My poor friends looked like the pale, flat green leaves which serve as landing pads for frogs and hubby dearest looked plain embarrassed!
“Let’s go home and get a power nap”, said hubby dearest with a hint of sarcasm in his voice.
 “Sooo..ee….Di’ I  o’ ova’bod’?”  
“Well you did go overboard, but this wasn’t the first time,eh? Remember the last time at the office party?”
 I smiled sheepishly. Of course I did remember. I had sung ‘Pal pal dil ke paas’ and the team broke into a thunderous applause after I finished the first stanza. Motivated, I sang the entire song! There were claps at the end of each stanza and I wondered why the claps died down by the time I finished. Hubby dearest told me later that the first applause itself was meant for me to stop.....! stop singing!
“ ‘e mays ‘e ‘o ow o’ co’to’ ”  I tried reasoning, meaning ‘he makes me go out of control’, the “he”  referring to Kishore da.
“Poor guy must be turning in his grave!” he smirked, “May he rest in peace.”                                             

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

UBC day 23- Stepping stones!



That's the school I went to..... Mount Carmel Girls' High School, Nagpur! I had planned on a different post today, but someone sent me this picture of the school that she recently clicked. And my heart was suddenly so alive with excitement!

The big hall that you see under the school name board (just above the two V shaped pillars) is the library. I have spent hours and hours pouring over books in this very space! Any free period and I would be off to the library. We had a compulsory library period once a week, but how could just one book suffice for the whole week? Before the next library period, I would have exchanged at least 4 books with my friends and read it all!

That big ground (only a part of it is visible here) was where our assembly would be held in the morning. A round of prayers followed by the national anthem, and reading out the headlines from the newspaper, the thought for the day and then queue up in a single line, hands at the back and walk to the class in silence. Wow! Those were the times!

Just looking at this picture took to my mind racing to the principal's room, the staff room, the teachers',  the various classrooms over the years, the garden behind the left wing, the playground beyond the visible part of the ground, the primary section just opposite to this building, the auditorium near the right wing, and so much more!

morals and values
 stages of growing up


It was a girls' school and so after the 7th standard, Sisters' (nuns, being a catholic school) were assigned to every group of 10 students. We used to have a session every 15 days, when she would discuss our growing up stages with us and where we could talk to her about our problems, our confusions, ask questions, just about anything. After the one to one session was over, Sister would place a ceramic urn in the middle of our group and give us chits of paper. We had to write our problems on it and put it in the urn. We would pray and then she would strike a match and throw it in the urn. Our problems would supposedly burn away! It was as simple as that! But it would be infinitely therapeutic. I still have the diary in which I have taken notes on puberty and growing up. (did you notice the date on the diary?!!)


This page here talks about Adolescence, age 13 -21, the challenges and how to handle them. I might now need to consult this as my own kids pass through the various stages!!





Hitting the children was strictly forbidden, but I don't remember having come across badly behaved children in our school ever. Following the rules and being disciplined was like an unwritten rule. I still have the slam book that is filled with best wishes from my teachers. Reading this today felt so good, it carried me back to those innocent days when the word of the teacher was final and binding!

 This reminds me of not just these words of hope and encouragement but also the heart to heart chat that I had with the teachers as they filled the book for me.




Teachers are like the potter, who molds wet clay into whatever shapes they desire. They shape the way we think, the way we behave, and what kind of persons we grow into. It is said, that "In teaching, you cannot see the fruit of a day's work. It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years!" How true!






I look back with appreciation for those brilliant teachers who touched our hearts. The curriculum is necessary but more than that is warmth which is much more vital to the growth of the child.





My closest friend today, is the still the same one I had at school !   She is my first and best friend and we have been friends for almost 30 years now! We met when we were in class 1 and we continue to be best friends forever!!

I have a Pandora's box full of such memories and as I opened it to search for the slam book and diary, I stumbled across a host of other things too! The school badge, the souvenir book, old pictures....all memories, holding a testimonial of the times gone by, a reminder of what I was as a child, of the hopes and dreams I had......  I have spent the better part of the day rummaging through my collectibles, and reminiscing about the old times and smiling through moist eyes! Ah! What a day this has been!

Monday, July 22, 2013

UBC day 22- Look who's playing hide and seek..



I found this little froggie hiding under the lily leaf in a pond. Wonder if he could have been Prince Charming  waiting for the "kiss" to be restored back to his original form? But I already have mine, so who cares if he indeed was one? :)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

UBC- Day 21 - Nipped in the bud.


(This is my entry for picture prompt on the IBL at Write up Cafe.) This poem won the maximum points in the total tally! 


A bud I am, not yet a flower,
Let me bloom in peace until,
Bitter nectar, no fragrance yet,
Yet a timeless beauty still,
Tender body, delicate petals,

Wither and die, if you will,
Do not my desires and my hopes,
Deserve to be fulfilled?

Hands that should hold a book,
Are burdened with work today,
Eyes that were meant to dream,
Stare vacantly at the day.
My smile worn out, my face sans charm,
My plight do they not relay?
Without love and nourishment,
I see my childhood rot and decay.

Before the first fine rays of the sun,
Kiss and envelope the earth,
I drag my feet to familiar grounds,
But unsure what it will unearth,
Wondering if my existence,
Is actually of any worth?
Wonder why in a world of abundance,
Of love undiluted, there still is dearth.

To be tied in knots with a beast,
Is that my desire at this tender age?
The notebook of my life is filled,
With hollow blanks as the page.
Will my story be unwritten,
And left alone on life’s vast stage?
My deepest feelings, and desires,
Can no one really assuage?

I wish someday my hands will hold,
A pilot’s wheel or a soldier’s gun,
I wish today you will let me live,
And let me colour my life crimson,
I wish someday my eyes might dream,
And conquer every inner demon,
I wish someday I can put this down,
And spread my wings under the sun.




Saturday, July 20, 2013

UBC day 20 - Ground Zero- concluding part


It had been a month since they came to Savanpur. Kunal had told her that they could leave in a couple of days. 

"Get packing, Suni, the next batch of doctors are here, we can go back now."

She sighed. She hadn't realised, that a whole month had passed by and it was finally time to leave. She had been so engrossed with the lives of the little girl down the hillock that she didn't know what she would do once she was back home. She decided to capture every moment of the little girl so that she could keep her in her memories forever.

She carried a camera along with her and sat down on her favorite perching place positioning her camera. The little girl was walking towards the shrub with the pickaxe in her hands.

Click…click…click… she went on clicking the pictures with an urgency that she could not explain. She had still not been able to get a shot of the girl’s face. As she kept her lens focused on her face, something happened; the girl looked up at her!


I don’t want to miss this shot, she thought, this is as close as it gets. I might not get another shot of her face if I don’t hurry

Another click.

Ah! Nice shot!’ she patted herself.

And then she froze!

No, she had to be sure.

She focused her lens on the girl again but she had her back turned to her.

With trembling hands, Sunita switched the mode of her camera from ‘click’ to ‘view’ to have a closer look at the girl’s face.  Hair in disarray, sun burnt face, stubby fingers that looked like they were 50 years old, a pile of sticks nestling between them and her tiny frame…no, her Komal wasn't like this. She was a soft as silk, her hair was beautiful, black and silky, her skin was fair and glowing, her hands were the chubbiest and pinkest that she had ever seen. This couldn't be Komal! 

And then she saw the eyes….Deep black eyes…..Komal…! Unmistakably Komal!

Her heart thumped so hard she could almost hear it …it seemed to be pumping a millions beats a minute! She stood up, hardly able to breath, her face flushed with joy. She stumbled down the hill, falling down and then rolling a considerable distance before she could find flat ground. She searched for the shanty and ran towards it as soon as it met her eyes. The little girl had just reached her home, the pile still balanced on her head. She saw Sunita and gave a little gasp; her eyes wide with shock. She dropped the pile to the ground and rushed into Sunits’a arms.

“Mamma…” she clung to her mother’s bosom like she’d never let her go, crying bitterly, shaking with relief.

“Oh Komal, Mamma’s so sorry,” she said amidst sobs, kissing her child madly. "Mamma is so sorry darling! I will never ever leave you alone like that."

The woman watched the two of them, with tears streaming down her own eyes.

“I am…..” began Sunita, walking towards her.

“I understood that you are her mother.”

“How did you find her?” Sunita wanted to know.

“I was cleaning the hotel corridor that day, when this child was standing at the door crying. Suddenly the hotel started shaking and without thinking twice, I grabbed her and jumped out of the window. We rolled down this hillock and lay here for quite some time, must have been days…" she paused as if she had been transported back to that day all over again.

"I brought her to the relief center but in the mad rush, no one bothered to help me. They took down the details but no one ever got back to me.Your girl was in shock and wouldn’t speak anything for so many days. I decided to keep her with me till someone came looking for her. She kept asking for you, screaming for you in her sleep. I taught her little things to keep her occupied. She’s a smart girl,” she said patting the girl’s head.

“I have seen how well you cared for my little girl.How can I ever thank you….”

“Don’t. I don’t have a family, so I must thank god that he brought this girl into my life, though briefly, or else amidst all this devastation, I would have lost my mind.”

“You must come with us, I’m sure Komal will want you to….” She said thinking of how well the woman had taken care of Komal. It was now her turn to give back.

"No..no..don't bother about me, I'll be fine." said the woman, visibly pained at the impending parting. 

Komal took the woman’s hand in hers and smiled. The woman nodded her head and smiled at Komal. She was now family too.

                                                   ****the end****

Friday, July 19, 2013

UBC day 19- Ground Zero- part 2

read part 1 here.

Two months had rolled by without any news of their daughter.

“Suni, I got a call from Sawanpur,” said  Kunal one day.

“They found Komal?” she asked eyes brimming with hope.

“No Suni, They asked if we would volunteer to help rehabilitate the villagers. Being a doctor, I couldn’t refuse. Would you like to come with me?”

“Of course, maybe we can search for Komal again.”

He didn’t know what to tell her. A mother’s heart could never accept that her child was no more.

                                                                         ********
They reached Sawanpur by the army helicopters as the roads had been completely washed away.Temporary tents had been erected at various places .They had been devastated to see how flat the whole place looked. No sign of the hotel they had lived in.

There was nothing in that place. It seemed like there was never anything in that place. Sunita’s eyes welled up again thinking about Komal. She could not bear to think how the heavy walls must have weighed themselves on her child’s delicate body.

She walked to the ground, sat on it and cried for some more time. She knew she had to accept that she had lost Komal forever. Maybe, acceptance would give her some closure. The hotel was above a small hillock and she saw some flowers growing by the slopes. She gathered herself and walked to the edge, to pluck some flowers and lay it on the place where she had lost her daughter. That's was the only goodbye she could afford to give her child.

Eyes still blurred with tears, she knelt to pluck the flowers. That was when she noticed a small shanty down the hillock. A woman was trying to light a stove made of wood while a little girl played nearby. She stood watching the child, as if it were her own. She couldn’t see their faces clearly as it was several feet down. But she could still feel the mother-child bond that she saw between them. She watched the mother feed and then lull her child to sleep.

As she walked back to their tent, she could not stop thinking about them. Each day after Kunal left for the medical camp, she would unwittingly find herself being carried to the hillock to see the duo. Every day, the little girl would chop some wood from the nearby shrubs using a small pickaxe and bundle it in a neat pile. 

She was amazed at the precision with which the girl chopped the wood, sorted out the dry and wet ones and bundled it neatly. There was a rhythm to the chopping; it almost felt like a song. She also wondered what kind of woman would let a child handle a pickaxe by herself. 

She, for one, had never let Komal even touch the kitchen knife. But, C’est la vie, she told herself,….such was life!

Then she would carry it over her head and bring it to her mother. Her mother would use it to cook food, while the little girl tottered around carrying pots of water from a stream nearby.

“What a difficult life for a 6 year old,” she thought. Her child had never had the need to as much as lift a finger. She would happily dote around Komal all day long, attending to her every need.  

The mother would then lead her child to the stream and give her a bath. The child seemed to like splashing around in the water. 

Sunita smiled. Komal had loved splashing in the water too. She would break into an impromptu dance in the tub, splashing water everywhere! 

 Then she would feed the child ever so lovingly. The child would always eat in silence.

Komal had been quite the prankster. To get her to eat a morsel of food had been so difficult. She would jump all around the place, refusing to open her mouth till Sunita told her a story

And then the mother would pat the child to sleep. Perhaps she sang her a song, her pats felt rhythmic. 

Komal had loved the lullabies that Sunita sang for her. Her favorite had been a Krishna-Yashodha song that she would ask to be sung everyday. 

 This girl was so much like Komal. But maybe all little girls were like that, she told herself, not wanting to get emotionally attached.

                                                        ******to be cont*******

Read concluding part here



Thursday, July 18, 2013

UBC day 18 - Ground zero. part 1

“Komal…. that’s what I want to name her!” Sunita said excitedly, bringing her bundle of joy close to her and tickling her tummy, making the little one squeal with delight. “Isn’t she as soft as silk?” she asked touching the silky soft cheeks of her baby.

“Indeed she is, Suni, Komal is what we’ll call our baby” agreed Kunal.

Everyone clapped and cheered as the proud parents called out the baby’s name thrice in her tiny pink ears, and the priest continued with the other naming ceremony customs.


Sunita wiped a tear as it slid down her cheeks.

“Stop watching this over and over again, Suni,” said Kunal taking the remote from her hands and switching off the VCD, “It’ll only make forgetting Komal harder for you.”

“You think I can ever forget her? Which mother can? It’s my fault….”

 “…..Shhhh….don’t say that. It’s not your fault.” His voice was choked with emotions too as he thought of that fateful day.

                                                                 ***********

The three of them were holidaying in the picturesque location of Sawanpur, when the rain gods vented their fury and turned their lives upside down.

“I’ll run down to the lobby and try to hire a cab, ok? Let’s see if we can get some flights from the nearest airport” Kunal had told Sunita. It had been raining too heavily and there had been no point staying there any longer.

 Then Kunal called up on the intercom.

“Suni, get my wallet, I left it in the room.”

“Komal’s sleeping.”

“It’s ok; it won’t take long, its just 2 floors down.”

Sunita had run down to the lobby when there was some strange noise and someone pushed them out of the lobby door. In the seconds that followed, the entire hotel collapsed. They had both escaped with minor bruises, while their 6 year old Komal lay trapped in the rubble somewhere.  

They stayed for several days amidst the ruins waiting for it all to be cleared up, but the search had drawn a naught. Sunita had been in deep trauma over losing her only child. She had refused to leave the place and had to be sedated before being forcefully airlifted back home.


                                                                      *****to be continued*****

read part 2 here

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

UBC day 17- Turning forty!

It's hubby's Birthday today!!! He turned 40!! So it was a big deal for him and I wanted to make him feel that it was special.

I was wondering what gifts to buy, since we have given each other every possible gift during the last 14 birthdays and 10 anniversaries that we have celebrated together. I toyed with the idea of packing 40 little gifts, but you'll agree that while you can think of a hundred things to gift a woman, it is so difficult to buy as many when it comes to buying gifts for men!!

While I was still scratching my head, it occurred to me how worn out he looks now-a-days, with his constant work related travel. He is the Zonal head in his company and he has to travel quite a lot. That's when I got the idea for the gift!

He got the first shocker when I told him, 'don't take your bath now'.

He nodded, assuming exactly the opposite, and suddenly realising what I said, 'Did you just say don't ?

'Hmm...'I winked. 'We are going out now.'

'What kind of place are we required to go without taking a bath?', he wondered aloud.

'Patience, my dear Watson,'

'Ok let me change, he said.

'You look fine, let's go like this.' I told him.

'In these tracks? On the roads? You must be joking!'

'Oh come on..' I dragged him out.

'Where are we going?'

Next shocker.

'To get you a tattoo'

'No way!'

'What? I got one for you, na? Your turn now, Ink my name on your arm.' I teased, knowing pretty well how scared he is of needles.

He gave me a weird how-could-you-do-this-to-me look.

I drove him to our destination. As we walked inside, I saw his eyes turn wide with surprise.

Kerala Ayurvedic oil massage center.

'Wow!'  he said. 'This is the surprise?'

I loved that priceless look on his face. I winked.

After that Balakrishnan, the expert massage specialist took charge, while I left him there to relax for 2 hours and shopped for the other gifts.

When I went to pick him up, he had the most wonderful smile on his face. 'Thaaaaaanks' he beamed. 'That was so relaxing. What a start to my day!'

I made Palak rice that I learnt from SuKu, Aaloo ka paratha, Raita and Lauki ka halwa with all the little accompaniments. He couldn't stop raving about it to anyone who called after that! He loved all the other little gifts too, but he gets them every year anyway!

All this is too small in comparison to how well he takes care of me and how loved he makes me feel. So here's to you, hubby dearest...Cheers! Happy 40th Birthday!



Tuesday, July 16, 2013

UBC day 16 - Some people, I tell you....


My neighbor “G” had come home to return my bowl in which I had sent her some kheer (pudding) yesterday. I called her in and offered her some dosa that I had made. I know she loves dosa and couldn’t refuse. She settled at the dining table while I made crisp dosas for her. I came out with 3 plates, and setting it on the table, called my help Ashwini to come and join us.

Ashwini pulled a chair and was about to sit down when G let out a gasp. She bent close to my ear, and whispered, “She’s sitting with us?”

I nodded. “She always does.”

“Have you lost it?” she asked me. “How can you ask her to sit with us?”

Ashwini was suddenly uncomfortable and she picked up her plate. “Didi, I’ll sit in the other room,” she said and walked away.

I felt really bad for her. I usually have a late breakfast and it’s kind of a habit now that I have my breakfast with Ashwini every day, once she’s done with the chores. She is a lovely girl and she loves chatting with me telling me about her college and friends. She shares her problems with me, and I teach her English.

I saw her finish her dosa quickly and she left with a silent ‘bye.’

After she had left, I told G that Ashwini must have felt bad.

“What’s there to feel bad?” she said, “She must know her place.”

“I don’t think you must differentiate like that,” I began.

“How can you make her sit at the table with you?”

“What’s wrong with that?”

She didn’t bother to answer.

“And to top it you are serving her hot food in your regular plates.” The stress on hot was not lost on me.

“What????” 

“She doesn’t even have a separate plate?”

I had had enough of that rubbish.

“She works in 3 homes in the morning and then goes to college, G. She is exactly like you and me. If anything separates us, it’s our financial condition. With all the hard work she does, she’s bound to come up in life some day. She’s a lovely girl.”

G wasn’t impressed.

“If my mother-in-law knows this, she will never eat in your house again.” She said as she popped the last piece of dosa in her mouth and stood up to leave even as I wondered if I should give her a piece of my mind.

Some people, I tell you….




Monday, July 15, 2013

UBC day 15- The runaway blog !

My dear Blog,

Where did you disappear? How could you just vanish into thin air just like that? Didn't you realise how much I would panic?  

I wouldn't have known if a couple of friends hadn't called me. "Did you do something to your blog?" one asked me. "Why can't I see your blog?" said another. And I panicked! 

I  had met you just a day before, and I thought everything was fine between us. We didn't even have an argument. So why did you go away like that? Did you know what a harrowing time I had? I tried locating you but you had just left behind one message- "This blog has moved." 

This blog? That's what you think you are to me? This blog? You couldn't even say, Princess I need a break, I'm holidaying in such and such place and I will be back soon? 

Can you imagine what a shocker that was? I logged into my account, and even more shocked to see so many mails from fellow bloggers wanting to know what happened to you. Friends who had streamed in from Indiblogger and Writeupcafe. Friends who watch my space for updates everyday. Friends who follow my blog. I could have cried! 

You mean the world to me my dear blog. Not having you around kills me! Trust me it does! 

But now that you are back I'm really glad and relieved! So no more running away like this, do you get that? 

Forever yours,
Princess.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

UBC day 14- The hare and the tortoise revisited!!

So we all know how Mr. Slowpoke Tortoise ran a race with Mr.Smartypants Hare and managed to win it too...because Smarty fell asleep half way through! Overconfidence cost him the race.  But do you know what happened after that?

Well, Mr.Smartypants came home wondering how the lowly tortoise had managed to outrun it in its own game. This was simply not done!  What would the other animals say? He had a reputation to keep... He did not want to be a laughing stock of the whole jungle.

So he went to meet Mr.Slowpoke again and challenged him to another race. He was determined not to fall asleep this time. Mr.Slowpoke saw through Smarty's plan but agreed to run the race nonetheless. He had one condition however....the race would be held in the lake in the middle of the jungle! You see, Smarty was not as smart to see through Slowpoke's game, and hence the race began again. Needless to say, Slowpoke won again as he was on home turf!! 

Smarty was terribly dejected and humiliated, but he refused to give up. He challenged Slowpoke to yet another race, and this time up a hill. He was sure Slowpoke could not win whatever he tried to do. Ha! tricked ya, Slowy, he thought. Tomorrow will be my redemption from the previous losses. 

The next morning, the race began again. Smarty began the difficult ascent up the hill. Slowpoke came all geared up in a red bandana around his head. The bandana's not going to make you win, Slowy, he thought and smiled to himself as he saw Slowpoke struggling to climb even an inch. Halfway through, Smarty nearly jumped out his pants when he saw Slowpoke steadily moving ahead of him! How in the world had he managed to get ahead?  Smarty ran faster than his legs could carry and even as he neared the top, he saw Slowpoke with his red bandana already at the finish line! Smarty almost fainted when he saw this, but being the good sport that he was he shook hands with Slowy and finally, accepted defeat!

So how did Slowy manage to climb the hill, you ask? Well, the night before, he got 3 of his closest friends to tie a red bandana and climb up the hill and position themselves at different positions, and he himself stood at the closest point to the finish line! The bandana was merely an illusion!

Moral of the story? 
No matter how weak you may be, there's always some way out to overcome that and win!!!

Well, that's not the end of the story. Smartypants having found out that Slowpoke was very clever indeed, decided to join hands with him!! At the next cross-jungle race, when all the animals participated, Smarty carried Slowpoke on his shoulders when they raced on land and Slowy carried him on his back when in water, and together they won the race this time!!

Moral of the story?? You know it don't you?

***********************************************************************

(P.S- I had heard a version of this as a part of our soft skills training years ago, now when my little one is learning this at school, we came up this version to make learning fun for him!!) 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

UBC day 13- Prove that you are not a robot....



I tried to comment on someone's space and this is what I encountered! Undecipherable, unintelligent codes that made me scratch my head in frustration and wonder if all that they had taught us in primary school was a farce...Maybe they should include an extra class in school where they teach you how to decipher this stuff!!

Take a look at some of these codes-


reCAPTCHA challenge image







reCAPTCHA challenge image








I might just be a robot for all you know. You see, I cannot read the captcha!! For reasons of attracting spam, many sites require me to prove that I am a human enough not to spam. But I fail to see the reason behind it. If I could read the write up, it means I am human right? What more do I need to prove? By the way, I did not know robots also read and commented on things! 

I think it should be named, prove that you are a robot, because only a robot would be able to read all those squiggly-squaggly words and numbers! 

I keep hitting the keys hoping I've got the right word, and after a few tries I've lost all inclination to comment. Enabling comment moderation is a wise thing to do, because it anyway lets you see the comments before you publish them, but getting your readers to go through this unthinkable stuff is torturous. 

Again, I may be wrong.... I am a robot, you see!! 




Friday, July 12, 2013

UBC day 12- Art thou healthy?

I met a close friend last month, and as is the norm, I asked her, “How are you?” fully aware of what the standard reply would be. I was expecting an - ‘I’m fine’ reply but she zapped me by launching into a detailed account of why she wasn’t entirely fine. She began with ‘now that you ask’ and went on to tell me how she had been diagnosed with diabetes and how the stress of not being able to eat what she wanted was getting to her, and ending it but not before letting me know how her health check-ups and medications were eating into her finances.
That got me into thinking what actually defines good health. It brought to my mind the inland letters and postcards (that are completely redundant today!) that I used to write to my cousins and friends beginning with “I trust this letter finds you in the pink of heath and spirits.” Apparently, good health did not just mean being physically healthy, it also meant being healthy in spirits, the meaning of which had not been evident then!

What then comprises ‘good health’?
1.Physical health
Does good health mean being in great shape, being physically active and healthy? You bet it does. So how would you know that you are physically healthy? What a silly question to ask, you may say. You are right partially, because, physical health is the most visible form of being healthy. If you aren’t suffering from any of those life threatening health issues, you are fairly healthy!
But like they say, things are not what they seem to be, you might have to scratch a little below the surface to know what risks you may be prone to in the future, even if you seem quite healthy today. What then is the mantra for good physical health?
1.Get your routine health check-ups done- knowledge is always strength.
2.Eating right  is not rocket science. Our ancestors have been eating healthy forever! You don’t need fancy diets, just eat what your mother and granny always told you to!
3. Exercise and get proper rest- sleep for at least 6 hours if not more and exercise for at least half an hour each day.
2.Mental Health
This is as important as physical health. Stress, anger and hostility form a deadly mixture that is detrimental to the mind and to the body. Stress puts your body into a flight-or-fight mode and the constant pile up of stress never lets the stress hormone drop below ‘crisis’ level in your blood. Most of us are monumentally stressed, but we do not even realize how many tiny, inconsequential stresses keep annoying us every day.
There are many ways to de-stress yourself. Breathing properly is itself a huge stress reliever, but we do not realize that more often than not, we breath incorrectly, taking shallow breaths instead of deep cleansing ones! Take deep breaths, stretch your neck, relax your muscles, and meditate. There are other techniques like, visualizing a peaceful scene, listening to music, getting into a steam bath, spending time with pets, etc. Each one may have their idea of stress-busters, the only thing left to do, is actually getting down to doing THAT!
3.Social health
With the advent of technology, it has become more convenient to keep in touch with friends, you may say. It has become easier to meet each other on ‘Facebook’ rather than face to face! So where does that leave room for social interaction? Remember those times in school and college when unburdening your problems was so simple! You just had to talk to your best friend and Voila! They always had a solution to the most difficult problems! Does the joy of having a heart to heart talk with a few friends compare with posting your pictures in the most exotic place you have visited and getting a hundred comments on it? Is that all conversation is restricted to now?
With the kind of work we do, it becomes difficult to meet friends and relatives every day, but it isn’t impossible, is it? Add a little bit of socializing (and I do not mean partying when I say that!) to your life and you would realize how it adds to your good health!
4.Spiritual heath
I am definitely not hinting at going to astrologers or gurus! Whatever your faith, follow it and apply its essence to your life. If you do not follow any particular faith, accentuate positivity in your life in every way you can. This helps to keep anger, depression, pessimism, anxiousness and fear away from your life and probably also add a few years to it.
5.Financial health
Even if you have managed to take care of all other factors, you may still not be in good health, if your finances continue to trouble you. Whatever your income, whatever your expenditure, plan your finances well. Make saving a habit, it could be by way of mutual funds, fixed deposits or buying gold or land. However small the amount, commit to saving it religiously. It is not for nothing that they say, every tiny drop makes the mighty ocean and every grain of sand makes the vast desert.
So go ahead, pave your own way to “good health”, and the next time someone asks you how you are, make sure you are truly in very “good health”.
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